Reference > Cambridge History > The Victorian Age, Part Two > The Literature of Travel, 1700–1900 > Warburton; Eothen
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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

VII. The Literature of Travel, 1700–1900.

§ 11. Warburton; Eothen.


It is, therefore, a natural transition to books on the east, books which are not so much narratives of discovery as impressions of a world different from ours and only half revealed. In 1844 appeared two Eastern narratives, The Crescent and the Cross by Eliot Warburton, an Irish barrister, and Eothen by his college friend Kinglake, of the English bar, afterwards historian of the Crimean war. Warburton’s spirited and picturesque narrative had the greater success at the time. The tenth impression appeared within nine years, just after the author’s premature death; for Warburton perished in the “Amazon” burnt at sea in 1852 on the way to the West Indies. But Warburton’s book, with its slightly melodramatic and self-conscious tone, cannot be compared with the fine literary and scholarly quality of Eothen, which still holds its ground as a classic, and is, perhaps, the best book of travel in the English language. Kinglake rode from Belgrade to Constantinople, thence to Smyrna, by sea to Cyprus and Beyrout, whence he rode through Palestine and across the desert to Cairo—where he vividly describes the plague—then from Cairo to Damascus and Anatolia. From his saddle, he looks about him with something of that aristocratic aloofness which has been already noticed in Richard Ford, but, also, with something of the same scholarly and wellbred insight and sympathy. He carries with him through the desert a trace of the atmosphere of Eton, Trinity, Lincoln’s inn and the hunting-field. The terms on which the eastern and Latin churches live at Jerusalem remind him of “the peculiar relations subsisting at Cambridge between town and gown.” He travelled at ease, accompanied by a little cavalcade—servant, interpreter, guide, escort. At every halt, his baggage is unstrapped and his tent is set out “with books and maps and fragrant tea.” “A speck in the broad tracts of Asia remained still impressed with the mark of patent portmanteaus and the heels of London boots.” The most famous passage in Eothen is the imaginary conversation between a pasha and an English traveller. But some will prefer the fourth chapter, where, full of Homeric memories, Kinglake wanders through the Troad, and recalls his debt to his mother: “She could teach him in earliest childhood no less than this, to find a home in his saddle, and to love old Homer, and all that old Homer sung.” Throughout the whole book one travels in good company.   28

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