Tag Archives: travel

Continental Notes for Public Circulation

After Stanley Clark Bagg (1820-1873) and his family returned home to Montreal from a year-long trip through Europe in 1868-1869, he wrote a small book about some of the places they had visited. Published in 1870, he called it Continental Notes for Private Circulation.1 The irony is that, 150 years after this book appeared, it is far from private: it can be found in university libraries, and it is also available on the Internet.

Continental Notes highlights 20 of the places the Bagg family visited, including Paris, Venice, Strasbourg, the Rhine River, Waterloo, the ruins of Pompeii and the French Riviera.

I was excited to find a copy of this little book on an open circulation shelf at McGill University a few years ago. I had read a lot about my great-great-grandfather, but I hoped to get to know him a little better by reading his own words.

At first glance, the book seemed dry and impersonal. This was disappointing, considering that SCB and his wife, Catharine, had made the trip with his sister-in-law and five children, ranging in age from seven to 20. The trip was no doubt considered an essential part of the children’s education. Surely there must have been some surprises or amusing incidents along the way that he could have described. But SCB explained in the introduction that the book was based on his personal notes, some of which were written before they even left Montreal. And this was a man of the Victorian era who had a reputation for being conservative, at least in politics. As a member of Montreal’s elite, his writing style was no doubt appropriately reserved.2

On closer reading, however, it became clear that Continental Notes reflected his personal interests, which included history (especially the Roman Empire and the early history of Christianity) and archaeology.

Cluny Paris

The Musée de Cluny, also known as the Musée national du Moyen Âge, is in the Latin quarter of Paris. JH photo

In the two pages he wrote about Paris, he gave more space to the Hôtel de Cluny, which he called “one of the finest remains of the ancient mansions of Paris of the 16th Century” than he did to the Louvre. He added that the Palais des Thermes, once the residence of the Roman Governor of Gaul, was connected to Hôtel de Cluny and housed a collection of antiquities that was open to the public. That museum of medieval art is still there, so when my husband and I visited Paris in 2010, we visited it. One of the treasures it houses today is a famous series of tapestries, The Lady and the Unicorn.

One of the other spots SCB visited was Hyères, a town located near the Mediterranean coast of France, between Nice and Marseilles. He mentioned its warm winter climate, which may have been one of its attractions, and went on to write, “The environs of Hyères abound in vineyards and olive gardens.… This reminds me of the good Samaritan who poured oil and wine into the wounds of the man that fell among thieves. Who can walk through these pleasant vineyards without thinking of our blessed Lord when he said, ’I am the true vine, and my Father the husbandman.’”

Hyeres castle ruins
The castle ruins, Hyères. JH photo.

Forty years ago, long before I knew anything about Stanley Clark Bagg, I spent a month in Hyères, taking classes at a French language school there. Hyères was not the area’s most attractive town and I wondered what my great-great-grandfather would have found of interest there. Then it occurred to me that, besides the weather, he was probably attracted by the ruined medieval castle. SCB noted, “The ruined walls and towers of the Castle of Hyères stand on a hill above the town. It is probable that this Roman fortress dates as far back as the sixth century.” I walked up to the ruins one afternoon, but was not as excited about the castle as he was.

Many years later, I came across some notes that probably referred to that European adventure. Someone had put them in the Bagg family Bible, perhaps so they wouldn’t get lost.3 The notes reveal that the family not only visited France, Belgium, Prussia, Switzer­land, Italy and the Papal States, but also Ireland, Scotland, England.

These little reminders probably reveal as much of SCB’s attitude on the road as his book does, and most of them remain good advice 150 years later:

Do not fill trunks, nor take too many. Look after luggage.

Read up references, prepare routine, currency, etc.

Letter of introduction useful.

“A soft answer turneth wrath away.”  Keep cool, be firm, good-tempered, “polite.”

Staterooms on ships near stairs, seat at table near Captain.

Do not leave bills, business until last minute.

Be at boat or cars at least 15 min. early.

Never give up passports.

“Fee” the steward, etc. when you go on board — more attentive.

Take what clothing you may require for voyage in a carpet bag — trunk may be too large for admission to staterooms.

Seasickness: Norton’s chamomile Pills. 10[?] drops in brandy, mixed with water. Adults, children in proportion.

Deposit office for articles in all [railway] stations in Eng. Ire. Scot­land. A penny or two. Check given, office responsible for loss. Great convenience.

This article is also posted on http:writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com.

Sources:

  1. Stanley Clark Bagg, Continental Notes for Private Circulation, Montreal, printed by Daniel Rose, 1870. https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.02377/1?r=0&s=1 (accessed April 8, 2020)
  2. SCB’s most personal writing is probably his poetry. The title, Leisure Moments, seems something of a misnomer, however, given that this small collection of poems he had printed in 1871 features melancholic themes such as grief for deceased loved ones and assurances of a beautiful afterlife. Leisure moments [electronic resource] : a few poems, by Stella [i.e. Stanley Clark Bagg], Bagg, S. Clark. Montreal, 1871 https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100248153 (accessed Jan. 5, 2020.)
  3. I found these notes in the family Bible at the McCord Museum, Montreal, and copied them then, but when I looked again a few years later, they were no longer there.

 

A Trip to England in 1842

When Stanley Clark Bagg (SCB) and his father, Stanley Bagg, of Montreal, visited England in 1842, they were combining business and pleasure. The business involved selling property that SCB’s maternal grandfather had owned in Durham, England, and the pleasure involved a whirlwind tour of London, Scotland, Ireland and France, as well as visits with various great-aunts and great-uncles who still lived in England.

It was a good time for a trip: SCB had just finished a four-year apprenticeship with a notary and could now practice as a notary himself. It made sense to travel before he opened his own office.

A few months after his return to Montreal, SCB wrote to his cousin in Philadelphia, outlining the trip. Unfortunately, he did not include any details or impressions of their adventures, but the list of places they visited sounds exhausting. Passenger rail services were expanding in England at the time, but much of their travel would have been done by horse-drawn coach.

Crossing the Atlantic, however, was fast. The age of the trans-Atlantic steamship had arrived in the 1830s, and SCB wrote, “We made the passage to Liverpool from Halifax in the incredible short space of nine days and six hours, which was I believe the shortest passage ever made across the Atlantic. From Liverpool we went to London, thence to Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, York Darlington, Durham, Stockton, Sunderland, Newcastle, Shields, Tynemouth, Otterburn …. ”1

As they moved north to Scotland, they passed though many small towns, including Lesmahagow, and they explored both Glasgow and Edinburgh. On the way back to London, they stopped in Carlisle, in the north of England.

After a few days in London, they crossed the Channel to France, where they visited Boulogne, Paris, Versailles, Le Havre and several other spots before returning to London. SCB wrote, “We left London shortly afterwards for Ireland, and having visited Kingstown, Dublin and Kilmainham, returned to Liverpool, where … we embarked on board a steamship and after a boisterous passage of 14 days arrived at Boston exceedingly gratified with our tour.”2

Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral (jh photo)

Anchor-maker William Mitcheson, brother of SCB’s grandmother Mary Mitcheson Clark, lived in London, and the Baggs visited him there. While in County Durham, they visited more Mitcheson relations, including Mrs. Dodd (Mary Mitcheson’s sister Margaret) near Ryton, and Mrs. Maugham (Mary’s sister Elizabeth) at Sunderland.

It is clear that the visit to Durham was the highlight of the trip, but not because of the business they finalized there. In fact, SCB did not mention it at all in his letter. When SCB turned 21 in December, 1841, he gained control over the properties in Montreal and Durham that he had inherited from his grandfather John Clark (1767-1827). (He was just 14 when Clark died, so his father acted as executor of the estate until SCB became an adult. The property in Durham was generating rental income, but SCB wanted to sell it. In a notarized document dated after their return to Montreal, SCB’s father listed the sales of three properties in Durham.3

Meanwhile, SCB was interested in ancient legends, old coins, Norman castles and the like, and was enthralled with Durham. More than 20 years later, he presented a lecture to the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal on “The Antiquities and Legends of Durham.”4

He described the legend surrounding the founding of Durham city by 9th century monks. When Danes attacked England’s northeast coast, the monks fled their monastery on the Island of Lindisfarne with the miraculously well-preserved body of their former bishop. Eventually they built an abbey at the future site of Durham city and buried him there. Today, that bishop is remembered as Saint Cuthbert and pilgrims still visit the abbey church, Durham Cathedral.

In his 1866 lecture to the Numismatic Society, SCB opened up about his feelings on the trip. He recalled, “The first time I had the privilege of attending a divine service in Durham Abbey, I was enraptured with the sweet and masterly chanting, unsurpassed in the empire. My father and I obtained seats in the choir. The service was exceedingly impressive, so much so, that …. whenever the portion of the Psalter chanted upon that occasion recurs in the services of the church, it carries me back in imagination to the first service I attended in the venerable abbey of my mother’s native city.”4

This article was also published on Writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com

See also:

Janice Hamilton, “A Freehold Estate in Durham,” Writing Up the Ancestors, May 3, 2019 http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2019/05/a-freehold-estate-in-durham_92.html

Janice Hamilton, “Mary Mitcheson Clark,” Writing Up the Ancestors, May 16, 2014, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2014/05/mary-mitcheson-clark.html

Janice Hamilton, “Mary Ann (Clark) Bagg,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Nov. 29, 2013,   http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2013/11/mary-ann-clark-bagg.html

Janice Hamilton, “The Mitcheson Family of Limehouse,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Jan. 21, 2015, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-mitcheson-family-of-limehouse.html

Janice Hamilton, “Stanley Bagg’s Difficulties,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Jan. 10, 2014  http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2014/01/stanley-baggs-difficulties.html

 Sources

  1. Letter from Stanley Clark Bagg to Rev. R. M. Mitcheson, Dec. 6, 1842, probably transcribed by Stanley Bagg Lindsay; Lindsay family collection.
  2. Record in a passenger list of Stanley Bagg and S.C. Bagg travelling from Liverpool to Boston aboard the Acadia. Boston Courier (Boston, Massachusetts, Monday, Sept. 19, 1842, issue 1921;) 19th Century Newspapers Collection, special interest databases, www.americanancestors.org (accessed April 18, 2019.)
  3. Joseph-Hilarion Jobin, “Account and mortgages from Stanley Bagg Esq to Stanley Clark Bagg,” 8 October 1842, notarial act #3537, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.
  4. Stanley Clark Bagg, “The Antiquities and Legends of Durham: a Lecture before the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal,” p. 21, Montreal, 1866. https://archive.org/details/cihm_48731/page/n4 (accessed Dec. 27, 2019)