In 2011, the blog Austenonly ran an article on the actress Miss O’Neill, and, in commenting on her, introduced me to the journal of Joseph Ballard. Ballard says more about Miss O’Neill than my diarist, Emma Smith (after marriage, Emma Austen). The post induced me to look up Ballard’s journal for myself.
Its full title goes a long way to explaining the delights to be found inside: England in 1815 as seen by a Young Boston Merchant, being the Reflections and Comments of Joseph Ballard on a Trip through Great Britain in the year of Waterloo. Published in 1913, its frontispiece was a watercolor portrait of the young merchant in 1813 (detail above). Ballard was 26 years-old during his trip abroad. The journal covers March to November 1815.
The voyage to England, of course, opens the narrative. With nations at war and sea travel parlous when the weather whipped up storms, Ballard’s journey could not have an easy one. He touched on English soil at Liverpool.
To read Ballard’s journal is to discover:
- “Manchester is quite a smokey place.”
- “Leeds is a town of considerable consquence.”
- “On visiting the Bank of England I was astonished at its magnitude…”
- “The Tower of London is a large pile of buildings surrounded by a deep moat.”
- “… went to Astley’s Amphitheatre near Westminster Bridge.”
- “… curiosity led me in …”
FIND Ballard @ books.google or archive.org
Thanks go to Janeite Deb, who sent an email with links to Henrietta Liston’s online journals, as well as to this (click photo) informative article. Both are from the National Library of Scotland. I must say I was VERY impressed with the NLS publication Discover magazine. In this issue alone, there are articles on Robert Louis Stevenson manuscripts, Blackwood’s Magazine, and – of course – the cover story of Mrs. Liston.
Born on the island of ANTIGUA in 1752, Henrietta Marchant emigrated to Glasgow, Scotland as a child. She married Robert Liston in 1796. “A few weeks after their wedding, the Listons sailed to America.” Robert Liston had been appointed British Minister to the United States.
Living in what soon became the 14th State in the Union (the state of Vermont), I was impressed with the accessibility of maps showing Henrietta Liston’s movements. And, yes, she touched Vermont, having navigated Lake Champlain.
Some of the BEST of Abigail Adams‘ letters were written during her periods abroad; the Liston journals will be *MUST READS* for those interested in an “outsider’s view” of the country. They also can be used to flesh out such first-person accounts of the new country as told in the letters of Rosalie Stier Calvert (published as “Mistress of Riversdale”).
Liston’s words about George and Martha Washington are juxtaposed with her thoughts on flora and fauna. And, yes, she writes of gallant (as she calls him) Alexander Hamilton.
“The Liston Papers – an amazing resource; … a boon to social historians”
A book I am MOST INTERESTED in hearing more about – Martha Jefferson: An Intimate Life with Thomas Jefferson, by William G. Hyland, Jr.
I’ve quite neglected this blog – but will rectify that shortly. In the meantime I invite you to think about such books as Martha Jefferson – Hyland has written two other books on Jefferson, but as I’ve not yet read any of them, I cannot comment.
Will be back shortly!