Journal of a residence in St. Petersburg

Open this sturdy stationery-bound journal (Post-1650 MS 0806) and join Hugh Perkins as he embarks from London to St. Petersburg, traveling through the North and Baltic Seas in the autumn of 1834, writing and sketching along the way.

Leather-bound journal

Journal page with manuscript writing and sketch of harbor and docked

His illustrations are skillful, executed in various media, including pencil, watercolor, and gouache, documenting ships, birds, landscapes, landmarks, and costumes. His written entries describe the weather, his daily encounters, and tidbits about local culture and customs:

“2 December. It continues to thaw; to day is a great holiday among the Russians being the anniversary of the death of Alexander. My Russian master came & I took a lesson. In the evening stink pots were lighted.”

If St. Petersburg is too chilly a destination for you (“the strong frost has now lasted 5 days & is very disagreeable as you cannot go out without being in bodily fear of losing your nose”; “weather like yesterday enough to give a saint the blue devils”), Perkins’ journal also describes a balmier voyage to Madeira in the spring of 1838. He describes several hiking expeditions around the island, with ponies and hammocks for the “ladies … in case they should feel fatigued”:

“We arrived at length on the summit of a most magnificent ravine … the mountains on the opposite sides half of which were hidden in the clouds were covered with broom in full blossom …”; “The whole beach was composed of scoria & other volcanic remains; about 300 yards from the shore there is a larger rock or island … its summit was covered with wildflowers …”

The final sixty leaves remain tantalizingly blank, leaving us to wonder where Hugh Perkins’ travels took him next. His journal, at any rate, made its way to Central Illinois and now rests from its long road in our Post-1650 Manuscript Collection.

Shelf-mark: Post-1650 MS 0806

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