THOMPSON, Charles. The travels of the late Charles Thompson, Esq. Containing his observations on France, Italy, Turkey in Europe, the Holy Land, Arabia, Egypt..., vols Ι-III, Reading, C. Micklewright, 1752.
The only facts known in relation to British merchant Charles Thompson are the ones he records in his travel account, about which some scholars have hypothesized that it is a fictional narrative. In any case, the work knew huge editorial success; first published in 1744, it was republished in 1752, 1754, 1767, and 1798. From the introduction, one learns that, following his father's death, Thompson inherited a large fortune and, from love of knowledge, in order to appease his sorrow and to satisfy his own natural curiosity, he started out on a long voyage, in the company of a freind who spoke several languages.
The travellers set out from London in March 1730. They crossed over from Dover to Calais, and travelled to Rouen, Paris and Marseille. They went on to Genoa, Milan, Parma, Modena, Bologna, Florence, Pisa and Sienna, to end up in Rome. In October 1731 they visited Naples, and then Ancona, Ravenna, Ferrara and Padua. They sailed to Malta from Venice in May 1732 and reached Chania in early June.
The two travellers left Crete a month later, and, after staying in Milos for a month, they visited Naxos, Paros, Antiparos, Delos, Syros, Kea, Kythnos, and reached Athens. They toured the monuments of the city and several locations in Attica, Boeotia and Phocis (Eleusis, Megara, Corinth, Livadeia, Arachova, Delphi and Thebes). In November 1732 they left for Istanbul, where they stayed for several months. In September 1733, they left the Dardanelles to visit Izmir, Chios, Samos, Patmos, Ephesus, Kos and Rhodes. They ended up in Cyprus in February 1734, from where they crossed over to the lands of the Middle East (Tripolis, Baalbek, Damascus, Beirut, Sidon, Jerusalem). In May 1734 they travelled to Egypt and toured Kairo, Alexandria and Mount Sinai. They returned to England in April 1735.
Thompson includes several details on travelling conditions as well as the history and the monuments of each country in his travel account. However, he is mostly interested in space, modern life, the human factor, social life, economy, production and commerce, and thus achieves to render an comprehensive and to a certain extent objective picture of the lands he visited in the early 18th century.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou