Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)MS9/1
TitleManuscript journal kept by Robert Wilkinson (fl 1823) of his travels in Switzerland, Italy and France, 21 Aug - 28 Sep 1823
Extent1 vol.
DescriptionThis journal is a detailed daily record. Entries are written on the right hand pages, with additional notes and comments often recorded on the left hand pages.

Robert Wilkinson's travels begin in Berne, Switzerland with an unknown group of companions. The entries give details about scenery, the route and distances, vegetation and physical geography, hotel accommodation and food, local people and buildings, particularly churches, and he notes information of historical interest. In Switzerland, for example, he describes the Hotel des Marchands in Fribourg as 'rather indifferent, dirty and with scarcily a person to wait upon you'; in Le Valais he notes that 'we were more struck here with the number of unfortunate people we saw afflicted with the Goitre than in the rest of Switzerland'; and on the Col de Balme he saw the 'Alpine Rhododendron' and then records the journey, accompanied by a guide, across by the glacier 'Mer de Glace'. The party passed into Italy by the Simplon Pass.

Once in Italy, he describes an accident on the road to Vareza [Varese] in a village where the road narrowed: the carriage in which they were travelling caught against the corner of a house. At Como, he notes that the cathedral was 'very beautifully decked up in consequence of the Pope's Death' and at Milan, the party arrived at the time of a procession of all the priests and archbishops from the Cathedral to the Church of St Victoire which takes place on the death of a pope.

Wilkinson gives detailed descriptions of the sites in Milan, including visits to the theatre where he saw 'Othello', to a hospital founded in 1456 for the poor sick and supported by subscription: 'those who subscribe 4000 francs have their full length portraits painted'; to the mint; to the arena built by Bonaparte; to the triumphal arch of Napoleon 'which is only half finished, of white marble'. He also makes some comment about the political situation: 'The Milanese are under Austrian dominion and you see an Austrian soldier on the corner of every street almost, keeping watch'.

Continuing on their travels, he records a very detailed description of the church of Chartreuse on the road to Pavie [Pavia] and similarly of their brief stay in Genoa, including a sketch of the harbour. 'In consequence of running out in our money', they returned to Novi and made their journey back to Paris via Alessandria, Turin and Susa and crossed the Alps through the pass of Mount Cenis. The brisk route took in Chambery, Echelles, and [Le] Pont [de] Beauvoisin where they 'were detained for 2 hours (in consequence of its being the first French town) in changing the passsport and in having our things examined'; and then Lyons [Lyon], Tournus, Chalons [Chalon-sur Saone] Saulieu, Fontainebleau (where he comments on the palace where the pope was confined by Bonaparte until he signed the bill of divorce with Josephine), arriving in Paris on 20 September.

There is some brief description of sites visited in Paris: Ecole de Medicine 'in which are many wax preparations very well executed'; Jardin des Plants; Hotel de Monnaie; Elysee Bourbon. By 27 September, Wilkinson is apparently in Luxembourg and the diary entries tail off the next day.
Access StatusOpen