Wednesday, 24 June 2015

‘It had not been my intention to write a journal…’




A small journal written by a young lady from Jersey will be the focus of today’s post. Miss Mary Ann Lemprière began her journal on 6 January 182[5], the day she left her home to travel to Plymouth. She commences her journal by stating:
'It had not been my intention to write a journal but so many pleasant circumstances have happened which ought to be brought back to my recollection that I [shall] briefly state what has taken place'.
Throughout her journal Mary frequently refers to her brother and sister and travel companions, George and Jane. Following their arrival at Plymouth, where they spend a week in quarters at the Royal Hotel, they visit Bodmin and Launceston, before departing for France 'on Saturday morning at 6 o clock 3rd September 1825'.
Two pen and ink drawings accompany the text
The evening before departure Mary allows a friend to fill a page of her journal:
‘With Miss Mary Ann Lemprière’s permission a young man of the name of Frederick [Jauroin] opened this book [and] with the assistance of one of Miss Jane’s best drawing pencils was enabled to commence an interesting journal of her travels from the Isle of Jersey across the vast ocean which separates it from France [and] after having amused her readers made her readers shudder at the description of this sea voyage which was fraught with dangers of every kind she once more gets a footing on dry land then behold the scene changes on a sudden to the sublime [and] beautiful. The city of Granville is painted in all those glowing colours which so eminently distinguish the fair author’s style.’

They arrive at the port of Granville at half past nine in the evening, following an uncomfortable journey:
‘we sailed … for Granville expecting from the state of the weather to reach that port in 6 hours. But who can form plans on the water without being liable to be defeated in them!’
 As she travels to Paris Mary describes in detail the scenery of rural France. She has a particular interest in the architecture of domestic buildings and churches, occasionally roughly sketching parts of buildings to illustrate her text.



During their time in Paris Mary and her companions visit theatres, galleries and gardens and admire the fine architecture. They attend a number of plays and recitals, and spend an evening in the famous Théâtre de Vaudeville, which left her party unimpressed:
‘we were not much delighted with the musick and performance[s]’.
They have a more enjoyable time when they visit the Jardin des Plantes:
‘We were very much amused with a sight of the different outlandish animals and some beautiful birds.’
They also enjoy their visit to the ‘magnificent gallery of the Louvre’ and Notre-Dame Cathedral, which Mary says is ‘the finest Gothic I have seen since Rouen Cathedral’. The party leave Paris to travel to Rouen, and then back to Granville, where Mary ends her journal complaining of a hotel room with filthy floors and full of fleas.
'beds rather damp as at Caen ... however slept tolerably took our meals in George's room whilst at Granville ... attendance bad and floors filthy.'
Mary uses her journal as a notebook, filling it with accounts, copies of letters and various jottings