Travels In Scotland (1842) By J.G. Kohl

Book Travels In Scotland (1842) By J.G. Kohl

Book details

- By: Ursula Cairns Smith(Author),J.M.Y. Simpson(Contributor)
- Language: English
- Format: PDF - Djvu
- Pages:218
- Publisher: (April 15, 2008)
- Bestsellers rank: 6
- Category: Travel
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Translation of a German traveller's account of his journey through Scotland in 1842

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  • By Caroline Macafee on June 27, 2012

    A most enjoyable book. Kohl is a delightful companion to spend reading time with, and even now, after 170 years, the visitor to Scotland could do worse than take him as a guide. He has a wonderful ability - based on intelligent curiosity, wide reading, a great deal of travel, and a retentive memory - to make sense of a wide panorama of geography or history, while reading the significance of all the small details of it. Particularly appealing is his ability to place incidental facts in a wider context - European history, the rise and fall of dynasties, the economic development of industries, cities and agriculture, and Scottish, English and German literature and art.He must have been a charming man - much of his material clearly comes from conversations with passing acquaintances (and with hired guides), who seem to have freely shared their knowledge with him, whether of local history or their own profession, trade or sport. He was fortunate to be travelling around at a time when strangers were few and could expect to be invited into private homes, from thatched hovels to mansion houses. He particularly liked, as he explains, to seek out the local schoolmaster, as representing the educated class with the closest acquaintance with the ordinary people.After this lapse of time, there are many obscure references in Kohl's text, and also occasional slips and what seem to be misreadings of his own notes. The translators - and much of the credit here goes to J. M. Y. Simpson, who undertook to prepare the translation for publication - have provided an exemplary commentary in the form of footnotes. For instance, Kohl was puzzled as to why the inhabitants of Bridge of Allan had used the motif of the "busy bee" on the arch they erected for Queen Victoria's visit (earlier in the same year as his travels). A footnote explains that the bee-hive was the crest of the local feudal superior. Kohl describes the outflow of Loch Katrine, but a footnote alerts us to the fact that it was subsequently dammed, so the view that Kohl had no longer exists. Landseer's painting of Highland drovers, which Kohl devotes a chapter to describing and discussing, is identified by its catalogue title and its present whereabouts given. Many references to books, poems, maps and places are pinned down with similar precision in the notes.The present work is far superior to the British Library's ugly, grey and sometimes almost illegible little facsimile of John Kesson's 1844 translation, which also has only a handful of explanatory notes.

  • By John Sawyer on June 29, 2012

    A number of works by the distinguished polymath, geographer, historian and travel-writer, Johann Georg Kohl (1808-1878), have been available in English since the nineteenth century, including 'Panorama of St Petersburg' (1852) 'Travels in Canada and through the States of New York and Pennsylvania' (1861) and 'Travels in Ireland' (1923). But we are greatly indebted to the translators of this beautifully produced volume for providing us with an eminently readable English version of one of his earliest and surely one of his most delightful travelogues. As Kohl himself stresses from beginning to end, and as the translators demonstrate in their short but brilliant historical introduction, the Scots in 1842 were enjoying a period of prosperity and enlightenment rivalling, if not surpassing, their English neighbours. Although his travels do not take him much further north than Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, he joyfully accepts the recently invented romantic fiction of a Scotland characterized by tartan and bagpipes, and despite the weather, which more than once prevents him from visiting, and even seeing in the distance, some of the most famous sites, Kohl usually finds something to enjoy and praise wherever he goes.He describes his arrival in Scotland by steamship from Ireland, past "friendly lighthouses" and views of the "snow-capped peaks of the Highlands", as "one of the most beautiful excursions imaginable". His visits to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling receive extended treatment as do some of Scotland's castles, rivers and lochs, and his final journey south introduces him briefly to Sir Walter Scott country and the Cheviots. In all his travels he shows a keen interest in language, culture, industry, natural history and geology, recording conversations he had with local worthies, quoting Burns (sometimes it seems from memory) and inundating the reader with fascinating, scholarly and occasionally amusing observations of his own. Kohl has something to say on every aspect of life in 19th century Scotland, from curling, golf, whisky and tartan, to publishers, universities, law courts and the Kirk, not to mention his recurring passion for Scottish history and his frequent and remarkably well-informed forays into the etymology and pronunciation of Scots and Gaelic vocabulary. This is a charming work, a credit to its original German author, but perhaps, like the 'Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayyam', even more to his modern translators.

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