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Diary of a tour from London to Brussels, the Rhine valley and Switzerland, possibly by a member of the Harington family, with numerous contemporary coloured engraved Swiss views by Peter Birmann pasted in.

 Single Item
MS. 12625

  • Request

The diarist begins with collection of a passport from the Dutch ambassador in London, and then he takes the packet boat from Dover to Ostend, arriving 12 July. The diary then (fols. 6v-19v) describes visits to Bruges, Ghent, Waterloo battlefield, Brussels, and Liege, and a tour along the Rhine, beginning 21 July (fols. 12-19v) via Cologne, Bonn and Coblenz. Fols. 20-45v are blank, apart from very brief entries dated 22 July (fol. 27) and 23 July (fol. 30v), the day 'we quitted Coblenz'. The tour, and text, then continues via Carlsruhe to Basle on 1 August. The remainder of the diary (fols. 47-88v) comprises a detailed account of touring in Switzerland from 1- 24 Aug, ending in Domo d'Osola (Domodossola). The Swiss section is illustrated with prints of Swiss views engraved by Peter Birmann, apparently a set bought in Birmann's shop in Basle on 1 August (fol. 47). There are 57 small (approx. 100 x 70 cm) , and 7 large coloured engravings (approx. 95 x 135 mm), and 2 small and 2 large folding engravings of Swiss mountains, interspersed with the diary text, and (fols. 127-132v) 21 small coloured engravings (approx. 100 x 70 mm) pasted onto blank pages. Fols. 90-126v are blank. There is an itinerary at the beginning of the diary which indicates that the tour was originally to have started in the Netherlands, and to have included journeys in northern Italy, southern France and Paris after leaving Switzerland. The handwriting of the diary is small and neat, which together with the blank pages suggests that further parts of the itinerary were meant to have been written up, perhaps from notes made on the journey. The diarist shows attention to the landscape and cultural landmarks, particularly churches and paintings - Van Eyck's Ghent alterpiece is described as 'rather an extraordinary than a pleasing picture' (fol. 7). He is also interested in current affairs, noting the effects of the recent Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, and the attitude of the Belgians to Dutch rule (see for example fol. 9 where the dislike of the House of Orange is mentioned); and occasionally mentions economic and technical developments, noting on fol. 11 that 'jealousy against the success of English manufacturers which is so much owing to our steam engines, & superior knowledge of chemistry, prevails universally in Germany…’. In Swizerland he does a lot of walking and mountain climbing, visiting waterfalls and glaciers and noting the ‘sublime & romantic scenery’.


  • Creation: 10 Jul - 24 Aug 1818


1 volume

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 12625, fols. 1-2].

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MS. 12625

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 12625


Diary of a tour from London to Brussels, the Rhine valley and Switzerland, possibly by a member of the Harington family, 1818

Biographical / Historical

The diary may have been written by a member of the Harington family. The evidence rests on one entry (fol. 66) dated 13 Aug in which the diarist when visiting the library in Bern draws special attention to their copy of James Harington's Commonwealth of Oceana (1656). James Harington 9th Baronet Harington of Ridlington (1788-1835) was descended from a brother of the author. He had two brothers who were also of an age to have undertaken the Grand Tour in 1818: Edward John Harington (1793-1857) and the Reverend Richard Harington (1800-1853), who was later the Principal of Brasenose College, Oxford. The bookseller states in his description of the diary (see Bogislav Winner, London Rare Books & Manuscripts, E-list No. XX, September 2017, item 22) that he had acquired other Harington family items at auction.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Bogislav Winner, London Rare Books & Manuscripts, E-list no. XX, September 2017, item 22

Physical Facet

Oblong 8vo contemporary black morocco binding, covers and spine decorated in blind stamped ornaments, brass clasp and catch in centre, gilt edges.

Catalogue of the Diary of a tour from London to Brussels, the Rhine valley and Switzerland, possibly by a member of the Harington family, 1818
Finding aid prepared by Mike Webb
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom