An Eighteenth Century package holiday; France, Belgium and Germany, three months on £100.

A while ago, when I was transcribing Charles Cadogan’s letters, someone on Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time said that Edward Gibbon the Eighteenth Century historian had said that in the 1780s, there were 40,000 British people travelling abroad. (The proportional equivalent of 350,000 today, in an age when travel was vastly much rarer). Whole families and their servants would go. This tourist trail with its guidebooks and purpose-built hotels was a far cry from the classic picture of the Eighteenth Century Grand Tour, the Georgian male aristocrats’ gap-year, the time between University and Parliament to go wild, get civilised and acquire ‘largeness of Mind.’  Charles gives a glimpse of the new family vacation abroad when he plans a boat-trip down the Rhine for his brother William.

You’ll in this Case come strait from Calais and Hanover by (I think) Brussels, Dusseldorf, and the famous field of Minden. After viewing the Seat of our King as Elector, we’ll go to Frankfort together, where you may sell your Carriage, and come all the way down the Rhine (a most beautiful journey) to the Hague, where you may reimbark for England.

 (Vienna February 20th 1788)

Set out therefore with about £100, for about £20 or 25 whereof, you’ll buy a good second hand 4 wheeled Carriage at Dessein’s at Calais, where you’ll commodiously arrive at a small expence, by means of our good friends the Dover Stage and Pacquet. Go from Calais to Brussels, where you’ll naturally like to stay a few days, where Lord Torrington (if you get a letter from Lord Carteret) will be as civil to You as he was to me; and where you’ll get exact Information of the Remainder of your Route. The Post horses are all fixed, and you’ll easily with your light Carriage and Baggage travel for about 7d a mile, The distance from Calais to Hanover being about 400. The Impositions at the Inns you’ll find very inconsiderable, and will not make above 2 or 3£ one way or t’other, experto crede Roberto. If therefore you travel as above, and set out with about the above Sum, setting your expences for self and Servant at ½ a Guinea a day, I hope to see you at Hanover before the 1st of July with a bon Sou de reste, and tho’ I have not Room to give you Notice of my intended Motions from Hanover yet I can assure you the Tour we’ll make for about a Month together will please you. I give you therefore a Month to come to me, one to be with me, and another to go back in with the utmost Convenience, the three Months being June July and August, which include the Pith and Marrow of the fine weather.

(Vienna March 29th 1788)

Charles own travels are more adventurous, even Byronic at times, with his storm-sailing and mountaineering, and more select, staying more often at palaces and embassies than hotels, but he meets up with British travellers on the beaten trail in Rome, and after seven years he is glad enough to see them.

After Greece etc. I have gone through a regular and most interesting Course of Antiquities here, seen the pompous Ceremonies of the holy week, and received full as much formal attention from Princes and Cardinals (such as they are) as I wished, consistent with other more essential pursuits, and living a little with my honest Countrymen who I have by no means learnt to despise.

(Rome April 18th 1789)


JMW Turner RA (1775 – 1851) Fall of the Rhine at Schaffhausen (c) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Bequest of Alice Marian Curtis, and Special Picture Fund

I should rerun the Cadogan travel letters. Charles Cadogan died obscure and mad, long after the family and friends who appear in his letters, so it’s good to see him in happier times again.

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