Firsthand account of the journey of Frances, the Parkers, and “Emily” (possibly a sister) as they set out from somewhere in Derbyshire (their post halts are Hilton, Buxton and Bakewell on the early part of the journey) on their way to Paris, via Dieppe and Rouen. Frances is clearly a wealthy and educated young woman, and the account is lively and observant, taking place as it does in a France that only a few years before was a land of war, enemies and an occupying army under Wellington: “The Bois [du Boulogne] consists now of low shrubs, as the Allies cut down all the trees, when they were in Paris, for fire wood … Dined at Very’s and went to the Tivoli – A fete. A man ascended in a Balloon, and tho’ he seemed to engage every one’s attention and interest, he was not thought of, two minutes after he was out of sight. – The Gardens were beautifully illuminated with colossal lamps. Walked home through some streets we had not been in before and were much stared at … I believe it was Harriet’s pretty figure & our Silk Gowns that attracted attention…” The valiant though ignored aeronaut in question, a quick glance at Galignani’s Messenger will show, was none other than M. Margat (who seems to have stepped into the gap caused by the death of Madame Blanchard a year earlier … and who bears the distinction of being one of the few aeronaut’s of the period who was expressly requested to take part in a war as a balloonist, ending up in Algiers in 1830 having nearly set a French navy ship on fire, and earning a medal for making a balloon ascent under heavy fire). Paris seems to have been replete with aeronauts at the time, there is another balloon ascent a day or so later in the Tuilleries. There are encounters with Royalty, visits to the Louvre and Notre Dame, numerous observations on the general superiority of England in all things (“All the prettiest women were English”), a keen eye is leveled at the dress, behaviour and conduct of the ladies of Paris, both for good and ill, plays, tableaux vivant and sundry entertainments are sampled and all is chronicled with agility and attention to detail. A two month excursion into a Georgette Heyer novel.
- Author: Brooke, Frances.
- Title: Frances Brooke journal of a trip to Paris, June and July 1821 : manuscript.
- Production: France, 1821 June-July.
LWL Mss Vol. 246
Acquired April 2019