Philobiblon: The female 'Grand Tour'

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The female 'Grand Tour'

So it seems women could "go it alone", or almost. Still from Nelson's Women:

"... the intelligent, socially aware Cornelia Knight, an admiral's daughter aged forty-two who had written a novel and was touring the Continent with her mother, who had herself met Dr Johnson and his circle. While staying at a hotel in Naples, both became friends of Sir William and Lady Hamilton, although more sincerely attached to the former than the latter. Miss Knight kept a mordant eye on the eccentric Neapolitan court, describing how the King 'used to pass out house on his way to the lake where he caught gulls that he sold to the fish-dealers' and that the Queen was subject to 'fits of devotion, at which times she stuck short prayers amd pious ejaculations inside of her stays, and occasionally swallowed them'." (p. 104)

A quick resort to the invaluable abebooks tells me there is a biography, unpromisingly titled "The Prim Romantic", from 1965 ... and her Dinabarbis is available in a joint edition with Johnson's Rasselas; now how can I justify buying them ....?

P.S. Quoted without comment, Emma Hamilton, as rumours of the Battle of the Nile were circulating: "The newspapers have tormented and almost killed me in regard to the desperate action you have fought with the French fleet. How human faculties can be brought to make others intentionally miserable I cannot conceive. In my opinion, a newspaper writer, or fabricator for them, is a despicable creature bearing a human shape." (p. 107)

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