Tag Search

Type a search term

Advanced Search

CLARKE, Edward Daniel. Travels in various countries of Europe, Asia and Africa by Edward Daniel Clarke LL.D. Part the First. Russia Tatary and Turkey, London, T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1810.

Edward Daniel Clarke (1769-1822) was son of a writer and grandson of an archaeologist. He specialized in mineralogy and became a Doctor of the University of Cambridge. In 1799, at the age of thirty, as companion to aristocrat J.M.Cripps, he travelled throughout most of Europe. He toured Scandinavia and reached Moscow, as well as the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople, the Troad, Cyprus, the Holy Land, Egypt, the Cyclades, Central Greece and the Balkan Peninsula. He returned to London in 1804 and was later ordained as an Anglican priest. Tireless and observant, shrewd and insightful, Clarke witnessed many important events of his time, which he mentions in his chronicle. The first edition of his account was published in six volumes between 1810 and 1823, and included one hundred and eighty-five plates.

The present edition is the first part of the work. It describes Clarke's journey to Saint Petersburg, Novgorod, and Moscow, to which he dedicates several chapters. Next come the descriptions of the Cossack area on Don river, and the continuation of the journey on to Azov peninsula and Taganrog. The appendix includes a thorough exposition on the rivers of Russia and their traffuc, as well as artificial canals, which facilitated communication. There is also a table with measures, weights and coins of Russia.

The rest of Clarke's travel account is articulated thus: The introduction to the first volume is dedicated to the geography of the Holy Land and the value of Turkish coins. The first chapters describe Constantinople: the palace, the harem, the sultan’s triumphal processions, the bazaar and the Byzantine hippodrome. From the Hellespont, Clarke reached the Troad. He narrates his antiquarian explorations in the region in detail. He then sailed to Rhodes, describing Tenedos, Lesbos, Chios, Cos and Cnidus. He reached Macre in Lycia, and from there travelled to Egypt and Cyprus, which he also describes, followed by a thorough tour of the Holy Land. The Appendix includes, among other data, documents on the fall of Selim III in 1807, a list of about six hundred and fifty Ottoman and Arab manuscripts (on theology, metaphysics, logic, history, poetry, literature, dream interpretation, geography, astronomy, etc.), a catalogue of one hundred and seventy-two tales from the "Arabian Nights", temperature tables and Clarke’s itinerary laid out in detail, with all the distances in caravan travelling hours.

Part of the second, the third and the fourth volumes narrate Clarke’s journey into Greek territories. After leaving Alexandria, their ship sailed first to Cos and then dropped anchor at Patmos. Clarke is responsible for despoiling the library of the monastery of St John on that island. After visiting Naxos, Paros, Syros, Sounion and Vari, he “beheld, with great transports of joy” Athens and the Acropolis monuments at sunset, waxing lyrical on the whiteness of the Parthenon visible on the horizon. Especially memorable are Clarke’s pages on Lusieri’s pillaging of the Acropolis monuments on behalf of Lord Elgin. Clarke met Lusieri in the Erechtheion, while the latter was “working” there and the Italian artist pointed out that the Caryatids were in excellent condition. In his text, Clarke makes scathing comments on the “work” being carried out by Europeans on the ancient monuments, as well as their negligence which caused irrevocable damage. Subsequently Clarke toured the Peloponnese (Epidaurus, Nauplion, Argos, Mycenae, Nemea) and returned to Athens. At Eleusis, he pursued and achieved the removal of one of the two colossal Pentelic marble Caryatids, from the Lesser Propylaea of the Sanctuary of Demeter. The statue is presently in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. On leaving Greece, Clarke and Cripp transported 76 and 80 cases respectively, containing their collections of marbles, manuscripts, coins and minerals. Nevertheless, Clarke’s observations on the occupations, customs, and everyday life of the Greeks remain invaluable to historical research.

The Appendix to the second volume includes, aside from temperature tables and extracts from other travellers’ handwritten notes, a table of all the locations Clarke visited himself, as well as the "Κατάλογος των βιβλίων ελληνικών τε και κοινών της τυπογραφίας του Πάνου Θεοδοσίου του εξ Ιωαννίνων" [List of books printed in classical and modern Greek from the print-shop of Panos Theodosiou from Ioannina], printed in Venice.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

Subjects (83)