GO BY THE ANCIENT,
CLASSICAL WAY OF CALAIS
‘Go by the ancient, regular, classical way of Calais’ was John William Ward’s advice to a friend travelling to the continent for the first time in July 1841. But what was the journey like and why did so many undertake it? Beverley Labbett has assembled the evidence from the letters, diaries and journals of the travelling classes of Georgian and Victorian England: the poets and artists, the academics and politicians, the Blue Stockings and the literati, plus a legion of earls and countesses who embarked upon the Grand Tour. They all voyaged in those small packets, at the mercy of tide and wind, with le mal de mer the constant dread. Sensible men and women made sure to settle their affairs beforehand, and some managed to obey Hazlitt’s rule for travelling abroad: ‘to take our common sense with us and leave our prejudices behind us’.