Miss Jennings Abroad
by Major FRANCIS JONES,
C.V.O., T.D., F.S.A.,
Wales Herald of Arms Extraordinary
To many Britons, travelling in 18th and 19th century Europe was a genial form of flexible roystering. Some went to experience luxuries and enchantments, others to walk in royal palaces, stately chateaux, cities and spas, to enjoy the atmosphere of ancient cathedrals and shrines, to view sites of stirring bygone events and to dwell on dramatic, picturesque scenes provided by Nature, or to revel in drowsy delights under blue skies on sunkissed beaches and placid lakes. Fortunately a number of travellers have left records of their wanderings and for this we who are living today should be profoundly grateful.
Perhaps one of the most agreeable ways of acquiring knowledge is by a perusal of journals and diaries, especially those never intended to be read by anyone outside the family circle and close friends, and in which the writer bares the heart and provides uninhibited commentaries on a variety of subjects, so that we are presented with an unvarnished and forthright representation of people and events. There are two main types of such compilations - one concerns experiences of the writer in his homeland and includes a record of contemporary life among his "ain folk"; the other concerns experiences during a tour to foreign lands wherein descriptions and impressions of unfamiliar places and aliens are chronicled. As the years roll by both types become increasingly important, particularly to historians, frequently developing into unique records, and in some cases are the only surviving first-hand accounts available describing certain national events, notable buildings, personages and numerous other subjects that form part of the memorials of a nation.
Oftimes, journals and diaries tell us more about the diarists themselves than their authors intended or ever considered. We have glimpses of the writer's attitudes, national outlook, political and class prejudices, views of the feminist or of the "male chauvinist pig", influences of formal education and religious convictions; they may tell us about the scribe's character and personality, hobbies and interests, and we soon conclude whether we are in the presence of a humourous good-natured individual, or one who is solemn, staid, serious, or else (and not wholly unwelcome!) a malicious, spiky one. A diary can be a "candid camera" in prose.
In this contribution we shall savour the journal of a young lady enjoying a Grand Tour in the high noon of the Victorian age. We shall follow her into foreign lands and be instructed or reminded of scenes and customs of bygone as well as contemporary times. Nearly four centuries ago the learned Francis Bacon
observed "Travel in the younger sort is a part of education, in the elder a part of experience". A discerning person will always acquire knowledge when travelling, especially in foreign fields where novelty serves to strengthen the impact made upon the observer's mind. Under these circumstances such ploy becomes education without effort, certainly without tears. In the Gulistan
we are told by Sadi, "Of journeying the benefits are many; the freshness it bringeth to the heart, the seeing and hearing of marvellous things, the delight of beholding new cities, the meeting of unknown friends, the learning of high manners". These and many others are the bonuses that come the way of the sojourner in far-off lands.
The diarist whose observations now come under discussion was a talented young lady, Miss Agnes Hermione Jennings of Gellideg near Kidwelly. In volumes XI
of The Carrmrthenshire Historian
I published selections from her journals describing activities in West Wales and London during the period 1865-1871. In the introduction to that contribution I mentioned that some time in 1868 she had gone on a tour to the Continent and returned to England in the summer of the following year. I had no knowledge then of any journal she might have kept concerning her overseas tour, but subsequently I was delighted to learn from the tourist's grand-daughter, Mrs Jewson of Guppy Bush near St. Florence, Pembrokeshire, that two such journals had survived, and, with commendable public spirit, she kindly loaned them to me so that historians and antiquaries could benefit from a perusal of them. I wish to express my gratitude to Mrs Jewson for making these volumes available.
Details of the ancestry and biography of Miss Agnes Hermione Jennings (known as "Hermie" to her family and friends) were presented in some detail in volume XI
of the Historian
which renders unnecessary any repetition here. Suffice to remind readers that she was the daughter of a Carmarthenshire landowner, Richard Jennings of Gellideg by his wife Agnes Catherine Annabella Hamilton; born on 7 May 1848, she married in 1874 Captain H. F. C. Barclay by whom she had six children, and died on 29 May 1925.
On 31 April 1868, a week before her twentieth birthday, she went on a tour to the Continent with her parents and Susie Watson, and returned on 9 July 1869 to her native land from which she had been absent for over a year. She describes the itinerary in detail, waxing eloquently on topics that particularly attracted her, not disguising those splendid island prejudices (to which we are all heir), likes and dislikes, aiming barbed darts at those foreigners who had aroused her spleen. Over a hundred years and several wars have elapsed since her journey took place, radical changes have overtaken many of the towns and cities, the scenes and landscapes that had so captivated her interest, so that her fresh, impromptu descriptions and comments are of significance to the historian, often providing a vivid picture of buildings, institutions, and landscapes before they were ravished by man's inhumanity or by his propensity to sacrifice traditional modes in the name of progress and modernization. Not only do the journals preserve accounts of physical features, but also of customs and fashions, attributes and life-styles customary in mid-19th century Europe.
It is clear that the young lady had written three
volumes, but only two have survived, one covering the period 31 April 26 September 1865, the other 1 April 9 July 1869. The missing volume covered the period 27 September 1868 31 March 1869. In these two volumes we are presented with an account describing modes of travel, hotels, lodgings, how the diarist was suspected of smuggling, of her battles with Gallic bed-bugs, her visits to cathedrals, churches, art galleries, and museums where she saw relics of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and Napoleon, the bones of the 1200 virgins of Cologne, and many other wonders; and, more contemporaneously, how Mr Jennings, to his horror, discovered that unwittingly he had been eating horseflesh at a hotel meal. She admired porcelain at Sevres and was delighted to see some china that had been presented by Mr Chambers of Llanelly; she watched Gobelin tapestries in the making, and blind people at work in an institution near the Invalides. At Tours, druidical remains claimed her attention, at Guernsey Victor Hugo's house, the palace of Versailles was a "must". In Italy the family stayed in Rome, the highlight of the tour being a visit to the Vatican where the family was received and blessed by the Pope with whom Mr Jennings cracked a joke, mutually enjoyed it seems. She had her portrait painted in cameo by Neri, and an interview with the sculptor Benzoni
; in the Protestant Cemetery she stood by the tombs of Keats and Shelley. She describes how her trusting father was outwitted by a saucy American lady. She roamed happily through palaces and picture galleries, but during a stay in Naples fell ill and was confined to bed for three weary weeks. After recovering, she visited Capo di Monti, went to Sorrento where she sketched distant Vesuvius, and regales us to a graphic description of Pompeii; she saw Dante's burial place at Ravenna, and the mausoleum of Theodoric the Great. At Bologna, in a remarkable manner, she discovered that she was "about half an inch taller" than our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! At Turin, the armour of Prince Eugene "with three bullet marks on it" held her attention. Near Geneva she gazed at the house of Sir Robert Peel
"which the Swiss people pronounce as Sir Rhubarb Pill"! At Freibourg she was disgusted by a purchase, namely two pounds of wormy cherries, each with a maggot inside, which her servant then gave "to a man for his children, as he said the maggots would fatten them, cela les engrassira". At fashionable Aix la Chappelle she tasted the waters "which were like bad eggs". Minor accidents occurred such as at the Stadt House in Cologne where "M's flannel petticoat came down, and she beat an ignominious retreat into a shop" ! It is lively reporting.
Although the tour took place on the eve of the Franco-Prussian War, no references to any impending event or to political matters occur in the entries, but we are provided with indications as to where Hermione's sympathies were likely to be, for during her visit to Germany we are told "the Germans all smoked which was not pleasant", and on leaving that land feelingly commented "very glad to leave Germany and find ourselves in a civilized country once more".
The tour was made through parts of France, the Channel Islands, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium, and I have noted the places visited below the journal headings in the following pages. The journals are far too long to be quoted in toto the first volume contains 268 pages, the final one 167, and so, extracts only have been made which hopefully convey the atmosphere and flavour of the tour, especially the ability of this very observant young lady to note not only historical features, but those joyous trivialities without which no journal of a Briton abroad can be considered complete. And so we now turn the hands of the clock back some one hundred and fourteen years and become travelling companions of the engaging Miss Jennings.
The first volume, 30 April
Places visited Boulogne Paris St Cloud Sevres Versailles St Germain Andelys Rouen Harve Honfleur Lisieux Caen Mans Tours Blois Amboise Saumur Augers Nantes Clisson Rennes Dol Pont Orson Mt St Michael St Maio St Aubins Dinan La Garaye Jersey St Heliers Guernsey Sark Cherbourg Bayeaux.
30 April 1868. "Papa, Mamma, Susie Watson and I started on our travels abroad, having been ordered to go on account of Mamma's health". They left Charing Cross station at 9.40 a.m. and arrived at Folkestone at about 12 noon where they were met by Lady Jodrell who saw them to the ship. The day was beautifully bright and fine, but very windy, the sea tremendously rough, "Everyone ill except one or two gentlemen and myself. Mamma was not at all ill though she suffered from the effects of another person being so, who was sick all over her dress". They landed at Boulogne "but as I was proceeding with my traps in my hand I was suddenly stopped by a gendarme who looked at me very suspiciously and seized hold of my rug which was filled with my night things and done up with a strap. Everybody standing around looked at me as a guilty smuggler". After searching all her luggage she was allowed to go, and then went by carriage to the Hotel des Bains.
1 May. The morning was spent sight-seeing in the town; they saw the Cathedral, then on to the Museum where they saw "a lot of medals, a lock of hair of Napoleon 1st, and a beautiful specimen of a mummy, the best in the world". They left by the 1.30 train, arrived in Paris at 6 p.m., and stayed at the Hotel Vouillmont, rue Boissy d'Anglais.
24 May. Visited the Louvre to see pictures, "met Mr and Mrs Lewis Loyd but did not speak to them as I did not know whether they would know me". In the evening the Champs Elysees "looked like a large fair". They went to service at the English church which was crowded, visited Notre Dame, and the Bois de Boulogne "saw the emperor reviewing some of the troops. He was on horseback in uniform, the empress was also with him riding dressed in a blue habit". As their hotel was noisy they moved to the Breteuil Hotel.
5 May. Went to see "the column of Napoleon 1st in the Place Vendome. It was the anniversary of his death and the railings around were hung with wreaths of immortelles black, white, and yellow. There were several of his old soldiers in the uniform of his day standing about who were going to walk in procession round the column and then back to the Invalides". The Breteuil looked out on the Palace of Tuilleries . . . "our rooms comfortable, but our bedrooms very mysterious
with bits of box sewn on to the beds to charm away the devil as the chamber maid told us ... Passed most awful night bitten to death by bugs, and mysterious noises and creakings in the room and.lights flashing across it. I got into Sissie's bed, could not sleep till 2".
6 May. "Went to lunch in the Restaurant du Progres. Sissie and Papa found out to their horror they were eating horse flesh. Mamma and I had veal". At night, tormented by bugs again.
7 May. In the afternoon, Mrs Jennings's cousin, the Comtesee de Notallier, called on them, accompanied by her two daughters, aged 14 and 17, "neither could talk English".
8 May. Went to see relics of Napoleon 1st, Louis 16th, Marie Antoinette, and many others in the Louvre. "Napoleon's were very interesting, we saw his uniforms, cocked hats, swords, and all his dressing aparatuses".
10-11 May. Sunday went to church, and afterwards "went to hear Lord Radstock preach in a sort of chapel, he made an extempore prayer before and after": on the following day went to see markets, churches, and relics in Notre Dame.
12 May. They left the hotel "because of the bugs. The landlady was furious and when she went out she attacked Mamma, and pulled the fussy bed curtains down all over our clothes". They moved to the Hotel Cotiglione.
1318 May. Sight-seeing, "Count Broe invited us to dinner. Declined it."
19 May. "Saw Miss Jones of Pantglas passing our door before we went out, did not speak to her".
20 May. "I bought a live tortoise for 1 franc 50 and brought it home. Mamma was horrified and persuaded me to give it away to the waiter".
2228 May. "Went to St Denis, saw the Emperor's stables at the Tuilleries, the Blind Asylum near the Invalides, and to St Cloud", where she saw marble busts of Napoleon and the King of Rome by Canoga.
29 May. "Papa, Mamma, and I called on Mr and Mrs Lloyd Price at the James Hotel, and talked to them in the public sitting and reading room".
31 May. "We saw the Emperor and Empress go down our street on the way to the railway station as they were going to pass the day at Rouen. They were in a close state carriage, followed by three of the same sort; theirs, which was driven by the same old coachman who [had] showed us over the Emperor's stables".
2 June. "Called on M and Madame de Broe whom we found at home. Went to an "anatomical museum", some things in which shocked Cissie very much".
4 June. Went to Sevres and saw over the porcelain manufactory. "I bought a biscuit profile of Napoleon 1st for 2½ francs, in a frame"; saw upstairs specimens of different countries, found some Carmarthen and some Swansea ware, the former sent by Mr W. Chambers.
5 June. Went to see the treasure and picture galleries of the Palais de Luxembourg "Here we all gloated for a long time over the horrible picture of the people being dragged out to execution in the time of the revolution, the painter of it, Muller; they also gave us a share of our cruelties by having pictures of Charles 1st taking leave of his children, and the little Princes in the Tower before being murdered. They also had a picture of Joan of Arc".
1012 June. Went to Versailles palace, and to St Germains where "the Palace was very disappointing, being all a museum and the rooms small and dark . . . The Baroness Adelsward called for us in an open carriage and took Mamma and me for a drive in the Bois de Boulogne".
17 June. Went to Gobelin, and "saw the tapestry being made which was very interesting. It was worked at the back by men who ran little bobbins of different coloured silk through vertical lines of thread. The carpets which were being made in another part were worked in front and were made very much in the same way as worsted balls, and were clipped with large shears in front afterwards". Later heard the Zouave band playing.
18 June. Sat on a bench in Les Jardins des Plantes; "had a discussion on cruelty to animals with a woman sitting on the bench who killed a cater-pillar. Left her suddenly on discovering her child had the whooping cough".
24 June. At the Blind museum. "Went over it, a painful sight, they all appeared sickly and unhappy. Heard them play on the piano and flute, saw them setting their types and printing, also doing carpenter's work and turning; also writing by punching holes in paper and reading it by feeling the raised pricks on the other side. They don't use letters as in England, but the pricks are put in various forms for each letter, thus A is ., B is :, C is i , or something in that way. We saw one girl reading the History of France, and we made her read it to us. We saw their concert room, their chapel, and their play ground. Looked at the girls's knitted work which was beautifully done.
30 June. Left Paris for Andelys where they stayed at the Hotel de Grand Cerf; went to see the chateau Gaillard which "is situated at the top of a very high hill . . . It is a fine old ruin, built by Richard Coeur de Lion and named by him his 'saucy castle' as it looks down from such a height on the town beneath".
1 July. Left Andelys, came by train to Rouen where they stayed at the Hotel d'Albion. Went to the cathedral where "the heart of Richard Coeur de Lion was buried but afterwards removed to the Museum.... visited the Tour de la Grosse Horloge where there is a most curious old clock over a handsome Gothic carved archway . . . went to see the statue of Joan of Arc in the Place de la Pucelle which represents her, sword in hand, standing over a drinking fountain".
2-3 July. Went by ship to Havre, put up at the Premier Hotel, where Aunt Fay was also staying. "Aggie, Sissie, and I bathed in the sea before breakfast".
7 July. Left Havre by steamer for Honfleur, went on by train to Lisieux and looked at the town, "we were much pleased with Lisieux and thought it delicieux". Left by train for Caen and stayed at the Hotel d'Angleterre.
8 July. Visited the church of St Etienne built by William the Conqueror and where he was buried; his remains were taken away and destroyed by Hugenots; visited the palace where he lived, now used as a Training College; saw L'Abey aux Dames built by Matilda of Flanders, the Conqueror's wife.
9-10 July. Went to Mans, then on to Tours, and then to Blois where they put up at Hotel d'Angleterre.
13 July. Went to Chateau Chinon-Clauss, where "the castle is a most curious and unique place, it is almost entirely built on a bridge over the river Cher so that the inhabitants can fish from the windows. It formerly belonged to Diane de Poitiers, being given her by Henri 2nd. It was built by Francois 1st. It now belongs to a private gentleman, M. Pelouze, but strangers are allowed to see it".
15 July. Went by train to Saumur where they saw "one of the finest Druidical monuments in France, viz the 'Dolman of Bayncaux' which is a room composed of only 14 stones of enormous size and built like a house of cards". Then on to Angers.
16 July. Saw Angers castle, "a large straggling place with a number of dice box towers all round. It is now used as a barrack and arsenal". Saw the cathedral, and the museum where they saw "a stone vase which they professed was one of those that had been used at the marriage feast at Cana when water was turned into wine".
17 July. Went by steamer for Nantes; "a very spoony couple on board who went on in a most absurd way; also a spoiled child with an evil eye; decided that both she and the spoony couple ought to be thrown overboard. A moustached and bearded female who was at the table d'hote yesterday was on board with an old priest, both of whom I sketched. Papa talked to the priest, and Mamma to the female who was 'bearded like a pard'."
18-21 July. At Clisson they saw "the castle which is an old ruin something like Kidwelly"; at Dol they "walked about the town which is a nice quaint old place, and visited the cathedral which Mamma thought like St Davids; it is an ancient place and falling to pieces".
22-29 -July. Visited Mont St Michael, St Malo, and St Aubins where they saw "a fine quarry of granite, some of which was being sent off to London for the Thames embankment". In the evening she passed the time playing billiards [this often occurred].
26 August. Embarked for Guernsey where they stayed at the Clarence Hotel. She saw "some Druidical stones", and on the shore seaweed "called vraie which they spread out to dry and then collect it and cart it home where they either use it as fuel or burn it in large bonfires and use the ashes for manure".
29 August. "Went to see Victor Hugo's house which the woman demurred about showing us as they had just received intelligence of Mrs V. Hugo's death. She however took us over it. It is the most eccentric house I ever saw, with old fashioned oak furniture and curious old china, principally Chinese. The house had a very stuffy unwholesome feeling from all the ceilings, walls, and staircase and ballustrades being muffled up in some woollen material. The room in which he wrote his books was on the leads and surrounded with glass like a photographer's room, and as hot as an oven. His bedroom was a most ghostly haunted-looking place. In the drawing room was a table with the names of the four principal French writers in the corners Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, George Sand, and Lamartine, in front of each name was let into the table some implement of writing having belonged to the author, and in a drawer underneath was a specimen of the handwriting of each. This table, the woman told us, was got up for a fancy fair by Madame Victor Hugo".
1 September. Went by steamer to Cherbourg, and in the harbour "passed the Empress's yacht, La Reine Hortense'". Saw the equestrian statue of Napoleon 1st.
23 September. From Paris, went to Versailles, and passed "through the rooms on the south of the palace. Saw a room filled with pictures of the assemblies of the Etats Genereux. Went through the Salon des Glaces, a splendid room 239 feet long, so called from having 17 windows on one side and the same number on the other side to correspond. Went through the Cabinet des Perrugues, where the king used to change his wig, into the bedroom of Louis XIV from the central window of which Marie Antoinette showed herself to the mob. Went through the room called the Oeil de Boeuf from the oval window in it, through several others, then into the Galerie des Batailles which is 392 feet long and in which are pictures representing all the principal French victories. We then went through a room with scenes in the life of Louis Phillippe, and afterwards went out into the garden, and had luncheon. We afterwards returned and went through several rooms of Napoleon's campaigns and victories. We also saw the piece of sculpture representing him in his last moments which was at the exhibition last year and which was bought by the emperor. There were statues also of the emperor and empress, and the emperor as a little boy standing by his mother. We then went through some rooms of their naval victories, and then left".
[The final entry in this volume was written at Paris on Saturday 26th September 1868].
The second volume
Rome Tivoli Albano Frascati Naples Capo del Monte Sorrento Pompeii Terni Ancona Ravenna Bologna Venice Verona Brescia Milan Como Novara TurinSusa Mt Canis Sans le Bourg St Michel Aix les Bains Geneva Lausanne Berne Thun Interlaken Grundelwald Lucerne Freibourg Baden Heidelburg Cologne Aix la ChapelleBrussels Calais.
1 April. Rome. "Showery and windy. Papa, Mamma, and I went to the Pope's reception at the Vatican at 11 oclock. Mamma and I were dressed in black and wore veils instead of bonnets. Papa wore evening dress, not having a uniform with him. We went through a whole suite of rooms until we came to a long gallery where the reception was to take place. There were benches placed all along the walls so there was room for everyone to sit down. The Pope's throne was in the middle of the room against the wall. We had about an hour to wait as we came half an hour before the appointed time and the Pope was half an hour late. There were about 3 or 400 people of all nations, and they all sat down in two long lines down the room. It was quite absurd to see the immense number of rosaries and things nearly everyone brought to have blessed by the Pope. They carried them in large bunches dangling from their wrists or their waists. A French lady next me had several boxes full of them and looked as if she was going to set up a shop. I took 5 rosaries, 4 photos of the Pope and a palm branch like the ones he blessed on Palm Sunday. A great number of the gentlemen were in uniform. I saw several white Austrian ones, some green Russian, several diplomatic, and one English. The Pope entered the room by the same door that we had done at the end of the room. Everyone stood up as he entered. He was attended only by 3 men, two in violet, and one in black; there were no soldiers in the room to keep order, only the Pope's footmen in crimson livery. The Pope began by walking up the left-hand side, first stopping before each person and giving them his hand to kiss. He was dressed all in white, a cashmere robe and watered white sash, and little cap of the same material. He seemed rather deaf or else the people spoke low for he constantly put his hand up to his ear to catch what they said. We were on the right-hand side just above the throne, and we watched him gradually approaching us with some anxiety and nervousness. He took nearly half-an-hour before he came near us, as it was a long business stopping before every person, and I was very much afraid lest he might get tired before he got to us and not go all round the room. On the last reception (the day before Easter Sunday) he was so tired with all the ceremonies of the week that he did not walk round the room at all, but only made them an address. When he arrived opposite the throne about 6 from where we were, he returned back again to the other end of the room and began again with those on the opposite side. At last he arrived at the throne again and then he crossed over again to our side, when we all went down on our knees. His chamberlain preceded him and took away our tickets which we had previously shown at the door. He read the names aloud as he took them. Some Irish ladies were next to Mamma, who said 'Irlandaise' to the Pope when he came up to them, being evidently anxious for him to think them Roman Catholics. Then he came up to Mamma and Papa and asked them what they were, when Papa cleverly replied 'Angli non angeli', 'English not angels', which is a well-known saying of a former Pope respecting the English not being Roman Catholics. This so tickled the old Pope's fancy that he burst into a loud laugh and gave Papa a hearty slap on the shoulder. He next came to me and gave me a very fat white hand with a very large ring on it. I took it in both hands and, squeezing it affectionately, 1 kissed it. I then held out my rosaries and things and asked him to bless them. He laid his hands on them, but told me he would bless them afterwards, and so he did from his throne. He blessed everything we had about us, but first of all he made us a very nice address in French, so that we could all understand it. He called us 'mes enfants', and began by saying that he hoped there were very few amongst us who were opposed to the only true church, and he hoped in time that there would be only one religion and one faith; that there were many enenues to the church, but he hoped there were not many present. He then talked about continuing steadfast in prayer, and said he hoped we would take perseverance as our lesson from today, and as Mary Magdalene continued steadfast in her belief in our Saviour's resurrection so were we to persevere steadfastly in faith. He then gave us his blessing during which everyone knelt down. He blessed all our rosaries annulets and everything we had with us, he blessed us ourselves now and forever, he blessed all our friends and relations, and we were to convey his blessing to them. His blessing was to keep us through dangers and temptations; if there were any discords or dissentions in our families, it was to be as honey amongst it; it was to he with us through life and death unto the end of our days. He then gave the blessing of the Trinity, crossing himself three times as he did so. This final blessing was in Latin. As soon as he had finished the room resounded with cheers and cries of 'Viva Pio Nono, Viva le Saint Pere', the English hurrah'd, and the Germans yelled, in the midst of which hubbub the Pope disappeared. We then all got away as soon as we could and reached home about 1".
They afterwards had lunch, and she went with her father to Neri's "and gave him an hour's sitting for my cameo. He worked in clay and got it very like in one sitting".
2 April. Went to Neri's and gave him another sitting of one hour. "Then went to see a sculptor's studio near. Benzoni the sculptor himself was working in clay at a group of Hector and Andromide. He talked about Sir Bulwer Lytton or rather Lord Lytton who had given him some orders. When Papa told him he was a cousin of his, he became very civil and took us all round the studio himself and afterwards promised to send us some photos of those we admired most. There were a great many very pretty things. Those I liked best were Benzoni himself as a boy being patronized by some great man who discovered his talent and sent him to Rome to study. This piece he was going to send us as a present to the family; a couple of statues representing gratitude, in one a little girl taking a thorn out of her dog's foot, in the other she is asleep, and the little dog is protecting her from a serpent; a couple of statues representing hunting and shooting, two little boys; Rebecca veiled; Diana; a bust of the Pope with Pax
scratched on it by himself; the last days of Pompeii; and Eve holding an apple". Later she "did some shopping in the Corso, got a diary and a pair of garters".
3-8 April. Mr. Jennings gave Neri a sitting for a cameo to be done of himself. They went to the Quirinal Palace, "which used to be a summer dwelling of the Pope, but Pio Nono does not inhabit it". Saw the church of Santa Maria supra Minerva (near the Pantheon) built on the site of a former temple of Minerva; went to the Protestant cemetery and saw the tombs of Keats and Shelley; visited Tivoli.
10 April. Went to the catacombs outside Rome, on the Campagne "first went through a Jewish one with many curious inscriptions and frescoes. Mamma very soon went back and amused herself with collecting skulls and crossbones outside, which she pocketed and smuggled away. We afterwards all went through a much larger catacomb, and then went to see some excavations which were going on near, bought some things there. Mrs Ind found a cameo".
10-13 April. Celebrations of the Pope's 50th anniversary of his first celebration of mass. Saw the ruins of Cicero's villa.
14 April. Went by train to Albano, Frascati, Naples. "Got to Albano in an hour, great scramble for the omnibus, would not hold all. The American's consul's wife was very rude and spread a false report that there was room on the box, which made Papa get out, and then she stuffed her maid in his place. Papa had to stand up behind".
19 April. At Naples she became ill "stayed in bed all day. Took a dose of castor oil the first thing, making a sandwich of it between water and brandy so as not to taste it". She was ill for a long time, being confined to the house for three weeks.
5 May. Her 21st birthday, and went for a drive for the first time since she started being ill. "The carts in the streets mostly drawn by 3 beasts abreast, horses, cows, oxen, mules, and donkeys, being variously used and put together for the purposes, the horses's trappings and decorations very grand, but the poor beasts themselves seem dreadfully flogged and ill-used. The women wear coloured handkerchiefs tied round their head, beggars uncommonly numerous".
8-12 May. Visited Capo del Monte, and drove back to Naples "along the Strada Nuova, passed the Prince and Princess Humbert driving"; at Sorrento sketched Vesuvius from the window of the Tasso hotel on a cliff above the sea; and saw the room where Tasso was born.
14 May. Went to Pompeii. "Got 'chaises apportenses' there for Motta and me, in which we were carried about by two men. M asked one of her bearers if she was not very heavy and he promptly replied 'yes, you must have eaten a great deal of macaroni'! Took two hours and a half going over the place, very interesting, saw Diomed's house, in the cellar of which several skeletons were found; the houses of Glaucus, Pausa, Sallust, etc; the amphitheatre, the street of tombs, and innumerable houses and shops most of them having different names such as the house of the wild boar, etc. Nearly all of them had an open court in the centre with a fountain. The frescoes were mostly quite fresh and many names still visible over the shop doors. In one street, the cart tracks were quite deep on the stone-paved road. Nearby all the streets had large stepping stones put across for foot passengers which it seems difficult to conceive how any horse or cart could pass. We saw the forum and the ruins of an ancient basilica, the baths, and the museum in which were many of the things discovered, ornaments, pots, pans, etc, and many loaves of bread perfect in shape but quite black. In one place we saw the bodies of the poor people, discovered most of them in most painful attitudes, one poor woman covering her mouth with her hands as if she was being suffocated with the fumes of sulpher. They nearly all had rings on. There was only one skeleton, the forms and features of the others were perfectly preserved in the moulding of molten lava in which they were found. The houses in Pompeii were all of one storey except that of Diomed which was three, he being a very rich man. The streets were narrow, but there was a foot pavement on each side".
15 May. Returned to Rome, and two days later "went to see Tadolini's studio who did Fay's bust, saw the plaister cast of it. Not many pretty things. Several Egyptian heads of women. His great subject was the archangel Michael, very much the same as the celebrated picture. Then went to Neri's and we each gave him a last sitting for our cameos which he then finished".
18-21 May. Went to the Palazzo Barberini to see the Beatrix Cenci; then travelled on to Terni and Ancona, and on 21 May arrived at Ravenna "a queer old-fashioned looking town, in the time of the Goths capital of Italy". She notes that Dante died and was buried in this town, formerly a sea-port, but the sea has retreated for 3 miles", and went to see "the Rotunda or round mausoleum of Theodoric the Great, the roof is formed of one gigantic stone".
22 May. Went to Bologna and stayed at the Hotel Brun. Saw the Asses Tower of immense height, and close to it was a leaning tower, leaning nearly as much as that of Pisa. "Bologna is the pleasantest town we have been in since Florence, quite clean and no bad smells as at Naples, and good roads and pavement for walkers which we did not have at Rome".
24 May. At Bologna. "Went to the Accademia delle Belle Arte which consists of a fine collection of pictures by old masters. Those I liked best were The Massacre of the Innocents, The Martyrdom of Peter; The Martyrdom of St Agnes, The Transfiguration of St Cecilia listening to heavenly music by Raphael, etc, etc. Many of these pictures were painted in two, sometimes three, compartments and very often the town Bologna, with its towers, was introduced in the background. Saw the church of St Stefano, remarkable for having 7 churches built underneath it, in one of the churches was a pillar "with an insciption over it saying it was the exact height of our Saviour, and was brought from Jerusalem. I stood by it and found myself about half an inch taller".
27-31 May. On the 27th left Bologna by train and came to Venice and stayed at the Royal Hotel near the Palace of the Doges, and St Marks. Saw the Bridge of Sighs, picture galleries, churches including St Maria dei Frari which had a handsome mausoleum by Canova, and St Maria della Salute and others. On the 31st "went to the palace belonging to the Duchess of Berry and her son the Conte de Chambord, the 'Pal Vendramin Calergi' which was very interesting and contained many portraits of the royal family of France, Louis XVI, etc".
1 June. Left Venice and went to Verona, put up at the Hotel des deux Tours, and then went to see the cathedral, amphitheatre, etc, and the tombs of the Scaliger family.
2 June. Left Verona, went to Brescia, then on to Milan and stayed at the Hotel della Ville. Visited the church of St Maria della Grazie adjoining which was the refectory of a former monastery in which is the celebrated fresco painting of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci "it is in a bad state of preservation". She took several photographs of historic places.
7-12 June. On the 7th left Milan and came to Como where she saw the cathedral and churches and sailed on Lake Maggiore. Then on to Novara, and on the 11th June came to Turin, where, in the Armory of the King's Palace she saw "the armour of P. Eugene with 3 bullet marks on it".
14 June. Left Turin for Susa "a small village in a beautiful situation surrounded with mountains"; then on to Mt Cenis in Savoy, Sans le Bourg and St Michel in France.
17 June. They came to Aix les Bains (France) where she tasted the waters "they were very nasty" and went on to Geneva (Switzerland) "a very nice town indeed. Very good shops and the Swiss extremely civil obliging people".
22 June. Near Geneva they saw the house of Sir Robert Peel "which the Swiss people pronounce as Sir Rhubarb Pill".
23 June. Went to see the Castle of Chillon, "which stands on a promontary and the lake washes the walls of it. It is a picturesque looking old building with numerous little turrets like extinguishers. Some of the windows are gothic, some are mere slits as in the prison where the celebrated prisoner was confined"; then follows a detailed description of the castle. Afterwards walked to Lausanne.
24 June. Went to Berne where "the representation of bears are very numerous, nearly every statue has a bear introduced . . . The women here all wear the Bernese costume, a velvet bodice with silver chains over a white chemisette". They afterwards went to Thun and Interlaken.
25-27 June. Went to Grundelwald, called at the Hotel Eiger, and on to see the grand glacier three miles away, then returned to Interlaken. On the following day they were at Lucerne and "went to see the lion carved in a rock in memory of the Swiss guards massacred in the French revolution, their names engraved underneath; it is very handsome and in a very picturesque spot".
28 June. Went on the lake in a steamer. "An English family went with us. They had a minx of a governess, like Miss Herne, who flirted with Papa and tried to be juvenile by running about the boat to see views and wanting him to come with her". They returned to Lucerne to dine, and had "a very fine table d'hote room with a fountain playing in it; a band played during dinner winding up with Yankee Doodle in honour of the Americans of whom there were a great number present".
29-30 June. Went to Berne and on to Freibourg (Germany) where "the Germans all smoked which was not pleasant . . . . M. bought 21bs of wormy cherries, each with a maggot inside. Motta gave them to a man for his children as he said the maggots would fatten them, 'cela les engrassira' ". Then went on to Strasbourg "a large busy town but looked dirty and uninteresting".
1 July. At Baden Baden saw "the Kursal where the gambling takes place, it is a fine building and has 'Conversation Haus' written on it, a very innocent name".
2 July. At Heidelburg, went to see the castle "a magnificent old ruin. We saw the cellar with the largest vin ton in the world, on the top of which the peasants had a dance after the vintage was got in, and the great barrel filled . . . There is a college for students at Heidelburg and we saw many of them about, they wear funny little round caps with strips of different colours round them according to the part of Germany they come from; they wear also a striped ribbon of corresponding colours across their chest".
3 July. They sailed in a steamer on the Rhine, and passed Coblenz "very strongly fortified . . . an immense number of flags were hung out all along the quai, and we were saluted with guns at this and several other towns as we passed along. This was on account of its being the anniversary of the battle of Sadowa which they gained over the Austrians. Both at Coblenz and Cologne the English union jack was displayed with great prominence, being the only foreign flag hung out, this being I suppose in honour of the Princess of Prussia".
4 July. Sunday at Cologne, "went to the Church of St Ursula where we saw the bones of the 12,000 virgins who with their mistress Queen Ursula, an English Queen, who, according to legend, miraculously floated up the Rhine with her virgin attendants for the purpose of converting the people of Cologne, was barbarously murdered with all her 12,000 virgins. The bones are ranged all around the inner porch-way of the church in glass cases". They then went to the Stadt House where "M's flannel petticoat came down, and she beat an ignominius retreat into a shop".
5 July. Went to Aix la Chapelle, "tasted the waters which were like bad eggs". Then on to Brussels, "very glad to leave Germany and find ourselves in a civilized country once more".
7 July. "Went to see the manufacture of Brussels lace and a large shop where they let us watch the women at work. It seemed to injure their eyes very much as they all seemed to have something the matter with their eyes. They made it on cushions with bobbins like other lace. One woman was making it with a needle".
8 July. Went. to the Hotel de Ville, Brussels, where "one room seemed to alter its position in a wonderful way as you walked round the room".
9 July. Went to Calais, boarded a steamer which took 1Ύ hours crossing to Dover, and thence by train to London. Saw Canterbury Cathedral from the train "very large and handsome, beats anything seen abroad". At Victoria station "they examined Mamma's box and were very irate at discovering several volumes of Tauchnitz editions which are prohibited from being brought into England. We received a severe reprimand, but only one volume was seized . . . Found Louy and Willy in Portland Place. W up for the cricket match. Richie arrived later in the evening".
[This is the last entry in the volume].
And so, the tour ended as it had started, in a brush with Custom officials, happily leaving the travellers with barely a bruise. I have already referred to the value of journals and diaries for the historian. Many journals similar to those we have considered are often weighted with descriptions of magnificent buildings and landscapes, towns and cities, battles and sieges, spectacular events, monarchs and heroes, and indeed it is proper that such aspects of past and contemporary times should be emphasized. However, we should remember that the modest, the recondite, even seemingly trivial items, form part of a nation's biography, and deserve the attention of those who would know the complete and true chronicle. Miss Agnes Hermione Jennings, young though she was, had appreciated this, possibly unwittingly. The journals show her to have been a lady for all seasons. She recognized not only the splendid and dramatic elements but also the less publicised aspects of existence. History often lurks in dark cobwebbed corners. When Miss Jennings turns her glance towards these corners, history comes out of hiding.