When Arthur Young, the famous English traveler, hesitated to publish his diary, a friend told him: “Depend upon it, Young, these notes you write at the moment are more likely to please than what you will produce coldly.” 1 No doubt Young’s travel journal commanded more readers than did his detailed observations on agriculture. Indeed, the eighteenth century was a golden age of the traveler’s diary, fostered as it was by a reading public increasingly interested in foreign lands and exotic customs. Supplementing the travelers’ accounts, the shrewd comments of self-appointed observers such as Louis Sébastien Mercier lend an intensely human dimension to brick and mortar. Equally impressionistic are the autobiographical allusions of literary figures such as Goethe and of memoir writers such as the Count de Ségur. Together these sources provide the physical setting for a social history of eighteenth-century Europe.


Large Town Travel Journal Eastern Plain Reading Public Populous Town 
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  1. 1.
    Arthur Young, Travels in France in 1787, 1788, and 1789 (London, 1794), P. 13.Google Scholar
  2. 1.
    Helen Simpson, ed., The Waiting City: Paris 1782–88 (Philadelphia, 1933), Preface, p. 14.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert
  • Elborg Forster

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