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  • John Chetwode Eustace, Radical Catholicism, and the Travel Guidebook: The Classical Tour (1813) and Its Legacy

Halfway through Charles dickens’s little dorrit, which was serialized between 1855 and 1857, there is a striking reference to “Mr. Eustace”: a writer, one would assume from the tone of this lengthy novel, whose reputation had been wholly discredited by midcentury. Immediately after Mr. Dorrit’s sudden accession to wealth and subsequent release from the Marshalsea debtor’s prison, his family embarks on a Grand Tour of the Continent. Mr. Dorrit has hired the well-named Mrs. General both to guide his family through the Continent in an aristocratic fashion and train his daughters Fanny and Amy (“Little”) Dorrit in the manners and habits of the prosperous classes to which they now belong. Mrs. General, in turn, looks to “Mr. Eustace” for information about the most significant tourist sites. According to the novel, she is representative of all tourists in her devotion to “Mr. Eustace”: “The whole body of travellers seemed to be a collection of voluntary human sacrifices, bound hand and foot, and delivered over to Mr. Eustace and his attendants, to have the entrails of their intellects arranged according to the taste of that sacred priesthood.”1 On this view, Dickens’s narrator suggests that “Mr. Eustace” is an authority whose words sanctify the ways in which Mrs. General directs the Dorrit family to think about the art and architecture that they witness abroad.

The religious imagery of Dickens’s grotesque metaphor does not solely criticize the slavish devotion of uneducated tourists to their priestly guide. [End Page 219] John Chetwode Eustace (1762–1815), depicted in Little Dorrit as a cultish idol, was in fact an Irish priest who championed the cause of Catholic Emancipation. His most famous volume—usually called the Classical Tour (1813)—was reprinted many times through the first half of the century and, in its prescriptive route and didactic tidbits of cultural and historical information, one can recognize the origins of the modern tourist guidebook.2 Dickens’s modern reader, however, needs at least one extensive footnote to appreciate the political, and even anti-Catholic, implication of criticizing Eustace’s widely circulated volume. Embedded alongside its information about sites along the Grand Tour, Eustace’s Classical Tour presented a radical and extensive case for tolerance of Roman Catholics in Britain during a time of particularly heightened debate on the issue. Michael Tomko’s important study on the influence of Catholic politics upon British Romanticism reminds us that the so-called “Catholic question” “forced a disturbing, self-conscious re-examination of the foundations of British national identity at a contentious time of political upheaval in France and Ireland” and it played a “central role in how the romantics viewed themselves and of how we now view the romantics.”3 Although the title of Eustace’s book promises its reader information about a “Classical Tour”—referencing the traditional route that would be the capstone of an eighteenth-century gentleman’s Oxbridge education—the book’s detailed guidance of the Roman Catholic sites of Northern and Southern Italy recentered the tour upon the cultural practices of Italy’s contemporary inhabitants in the midst of this important era of religious self-scrutiny.4 In partial consequence of Eustace’s volume and the timing of its publication in the years that saw the birth of mass-tourism, the Victorian traveler’s voyage to Italy became a tour of the artwork and architecture of the medieval and Renaissance periods. All British guidebooks would follow Eustace’s lead in explaining the treasures of Roman Catholic Italy to a largely Protestant readership. [End Page 220]

Dickens’s novel alerts us to the historical context that brought about this marked shift in British Continental tourism from classical to Catholic sites. Little Dorrit was published in the 1850s, but its action noticeably takes place in the 1820s (“[t]hirty years ago” are its opening words).5 During this particular decade, tourists from Britain were able to travel abroad for the first time in a whole generation, though not without considerable risk.6 Eustace’s original title points (misleadingly) to the book’s classical bona fides as well as the very characteristic that made the book so unusual for its time: Tour through Italy, Exhibiting a View of Its Scenery, Its Antiques, and Its Monuments; Particularly as They Are Objects of Classical Interest and Elucidation: With An Account of the Present State of its Cities and Towns; and Occasional Observations on the Recent Spoliations of the French. The promise that the author would discuss the “Recent Spoliations” of the French was special since few guidebooks had been witness to the consequences of the wars that forever changed the sights of the previous century’s Grand Tour. Eustace’s own Continental journey in 1802 took place during a precarious moment of respite between the Revolutionary Wars of the 1790s and the Napoleonic Wars that followed. During this fourteen-month interval—the Peace of Amiens (1802–1803)—the British and French could visit each other’s countries without risk. It marked a transition between the Grand Tour of the eighteenth-century and the forms of group tourism that gradually flourished after Waterloo and the Second Treaty of Paris in 1815.7

This essay documents how Eustace’s explanatory—and often apologetic—interjections about Catholic views and Christian architecture in Italy were unique in the canonical literature of Continental tourism of his time, which included Joseph Forsyth’s Remarks on Antiquities, Arts, and Letters During an Excursion in Italy in the years 1802 and 1803 (1813) and Mariana Starke’s Letters from Italy Between the Years 1792 and 1798 (1800)—two of the very few volumes, besides Eustace’s, which were written by Britons [End Page 221] during the time of the wars.8 The pervasiveness of Eustace’s volume throughout the nineteenth century is not at all surprising since it set so many precedents for the guidebook genre that would flourish in the new market for mass tourism.9 Sir Francis Palgrave, in the John Murray firm’s first Hand-book for Travellers in Northern Italy, published in 1842, was the first author to take up the subject of Roman Catholic art and architecture with the same avidity as Eustace had in 1813. Palgrave’s work on the subject proved to have a large influence on the early writings of John Ruskin, who would spend the greater part of his career trying to defend—often quite stridently—his very unexotic stance regarding the superiority of early-Christian art and architecture. Just as significant, in its tone, Palgrave’s work actually demonstrates the very same contempt for tourists implied by Dickens’s narrator. Thus, Eustace’s Classical Tour established a style—adopted by the popular travel guidebooks of the century, including those of John Murray (beginning in the 1830s) and Karl Baedeker (beginning in the 1860s)10—in which the guidebook appears to patronize and condescend to ill-educated tourists, despite facilitating the very sort of bourgeois travel it denigrates. What is no less important about the precedent set by Eustace’s Classical Tour is the powerful apology it makes for the primacy of Catholic architecture and art in the absence of the classical “elucidation” it promised its readers.11 This essay proposes that the cultural import of Eustace’s influential volume lies not only in its patronizing attitude toward the ill-prepared modern tourist but also in its explanation of Roman Catholic architecture and papal ritual, presented in a manner that made such sites and ceremonies central to nineteenth-century British tourism in Europe. Despite the volume’s enormous influence on a generation of travelers and on the guidebook genre as a whole, its importance and the profound impact of its political stance have not been fully appreciated by scholarly audiences. Nearly all guidebooks in circulation throughout Britain in the nineteenth century maintained a style of address implying that very audience designated [End Page 222] by Eustace when he addressed himself “solely to persons of a liberal education.”12 Importantly, Eustace did not intend that his guide should initiate a new genre.

In releasing Eustace from the grip of the risible Mrs. General to reassess how contemporary scholars evaluate his role in establishing the guidebook genre, we can see how anomalous Dickens’s aspersions appear. If anything, writers throughout the century lionized the Cisalpine Catholic priest. References to him cite his expertise in a virtuosic range of fields. These include the obvious, namely Italian tourism (Evergreen [October 1846]), French Tourism (Henry Wansey’s A Visit to Paris [June 1814]), and papal ritual (Westminster Review [January 1879])—as well as the less obvious: English landscape (Ippolito Pindemonte’s Dissertazione su i Giardini Inglesi [1817]), architecture (Thomas Morgan’s Romano-British Mosaic Pavements, 1886), education (William Jerdan’s National Portrait Gallery of Illustrious and Eminent Personages of the Nineteenth Century [1830]), language history (Robert Chambers Hartford’s History of the English Language [1837]), archeology (Journal of the British Archaeological Society [1885]), sailing routes (The New Sailing Directory for the Strait of Gibraltar, 1840), and even garden history (The Gardener’s Magazine [February 1840]). It is telling that references to Eustace, especially toward the end of the nineteenth century, elide his significance as an unorthodox Catholic writer—perhaps suggesting that his efforts at achieving Catholic emancipation were successful enough to help script his irrelevance in this regard. The way in which Eustace educated his avid readers, however, about his distinctive version of Catholic history—one that did not challenge British national identity—had a profound impact on the movement toward emancipation and also, after 1829, on the degree to which Roman Catholic sites became regular stops on the Grand Tour. Ruskin’s travel writings, for instance, which were widely read by tourists for their detailed descriptions of art and art history, barely discuss classical landmarks.13 The very first paragraph in the introduction to Murray’s first Hand-book for Travellers in Northern Italy (1842)—to which Ruskin would contribute five years later—quotes Eustace immediately, quickly distinguishing its own focus (early Christian frescoes, most notably) from that of the long-dead priest (classical sites). The British Grand Tour of the eighteenth century, which had almost had a chance of rebirth in 1802, made the transition from classical to Catholic in the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars in no small part because of the popularity of Eustace’s Classical Tour and its spirited discussions of Roman Catholic rituals and architecture. [End Page 223] His 1813 volume therefore is both a relic of an era of genteel travel that could never be replicated again and a totem of the aspirational classes that would try to replicate it, nevertheless.

The Classical Tour, Elitism, and Nostalgia

One of the main clues to the longevity of the Classical Tour is the condescension that Eustace adopts toward any reader who was not a university-trained Classicist. In the introduction, he informs his reader: “these pages are addressed solely to persons of a liberal education, it is almost needless to recommend the Latin Poets and Historians…. Familiar acquaintance or rather bosom intimacy with the ancients is evidently the first and most essential accomplishment of a classical traveller” (1:5). Recommending the poets at all is ironic, given his opinion that it is “almost needless” to recommend them in the first place, and doing so makes explicit some of the qualifications that might elude readers ill-equipped for the Grand Tour according to eighteenth-century standards. Eustace’s emphasis on the epithet “classical” indicates that the ideal traveler’s education would render such guidance unnecessary, but “almost” reminds us that he is giving guidance nevertheless. Eustace readily dismisses the uninformed tourist:

He who goes from home merely to change the scene and to seek for novelty; who makes amusement his sole object, and has no other view but to fill up a few months that must otherwise remain unemployed, has no need of mental preparation for his excursion. All that such a loiterer can possibly want, are a convenient post-chaise, a letter of credit, and a well-furnished trunk …


To further his point, he later adds:

I have now pointed out [in this introduction] the preparatory knowledge which I think necessary to all travellers who wish to derive from their Italian Tour, their full share of information and amusement. I will next proceed, according to my plan, to point out such dispositions, as will contribute very materially to this object, by removing prejudices, and leaving the mind fully open to the impressions of experience and observation. All the dispositions alluded to, are included in one short but comprehensive expression, an unprejudiced mind. This excellent quality is the result of time and observation, of docility and benevolence.

(1:23, emphasis in original)

According to Eustace, the best way to derive “information and amusement” from one’s tour of Italy is through approaching that venture with what he describes as an “unprejudiced mind.” But rather than a quality possessed by one without preconceptions, Eustace classifies this sort of disposition as one that can only be arrived at through education as well as [End Page 224] “time and observation, docility and benevolence.” Eustace’s affinity for this method of touring—one that involves touring with an “unprejudiced” and “open” mind—would seem to agree with the criticism of tourism that Dickens proposes in Little Dorrit as well as with the Irish Catholic author’s own advocacy of religious tolerance (considered later on in this essay).

Such passages invite the reader to imagine that she occupies the imposing role of an eighteenth-century (implicitly male) grand tourist. These sections of the Classical Tour show that Eustace presented a model of tourism that Jonathan Culler has theorized as a “sentimental nostalgia for unmediated experience, as if there was a time when the elite alone traveled and saw things clearly.”14 Linda Colley has offered a historical interpretation of this nostalgia for an apocryphal aristocratic past in Britons: Forging the Nation when describing the conservative interest in strengthening British identity during the time when Britons felt very real fear of French invasion in the early decades of the century.15 The guidebook genre originated in this fraught period of British history, one in which advances in transportation and the profits of the industrial revolution rendered travel increasingly accessible to larger parts of the population. As Britons started to travel in greater numbers, they also developed an appetite for a version of history provided by their guidebooks, one that evoked the spirit of former times when highly educated aristocrats had toured Europe in a fashion that a new generation of tourists wished to emulate.

Eustace’s Classical Tour stems from a tradition of prominent eighteenth-century travel writing that also promoted the classical sites of the Continent, including Joseph Addison’s Remarks on Several Parts of Italy (1705), Thomas Taylor’s Gentleman’s Pocket Companion for Travelling into Foreign Parts (1722), and Thomas Nugent’s The Grand Tour: Containing an Exact Description of the Cities, Towns, and Remarkable Places of Europe (1749). Like these guides, Eustace’s volume addresses educated travelers resembling the author himself, who journeyed in the imagined ideal of the previous century’s elite tourist. The Continental Grand Tour, at least in the imagination of the nineteenth-century tourist, had once been the domain of the eighteenth-century gentleman. Susan Lamb describes this figure as part of a “powerful myth” about British travel before the wars, one that often distracts attention from various other types of people who went abroad before the Continental Wars—for instance, women and non-aristocrats.16 The power of that mythical gentleman-scholar looms large in the rhetoric of [End Page 225] travel throughout the nineteenth century all the same, however apocryphal his dominance may have been. Eustace’s book was written for an audience that no longer made up the bulk of travelers, but the pretentions and prejudices espoused in its pages were exactly the ones that those aspiring toward refinement coveted.

Evidence of this nostalgia for aristocratic leisure of course extends well beyond the Classical Tour. One can see it in the overnight popularity of the first installment in 1812 of Lord Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, an epic in Spenserian verse that narrates the eponymous young aristocrat’s Grand Tour. It was not until the fourth canto was published in 1818 that Byron confirmed in the preface what readers assumed from the start: that the book’s eponymous hero’s adventures closely followed those of the author. Byron personally perpetuated the caricature of the pre-war traveler for his post-war contemporaries, touring in a style that hearkened back to an earlier age of elite opulence. At the same time, Byron’s own championing of non-classical architecture in his epic reflected the shift in the tourist’s gaze from Classical to Roman Catholic sites. In a climactic moment of the fourth canto, he remarks on the superiority of Christian architecture as he apostrophizes St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome:

But thou, of temples old, or altars new,Standest alone, with nothing like to thee—Worthiest of God, the holy and the true.Since Zion’s desolation, when that HeForsook his former city, what could be,Of earthly structures, in his honour piled,Of a sublime aspect? Majesty,Power, Glory, Strength, and Beauty all are aisledIn this eternal ark of worship undefiled.17

As the poet celebrates the superlative grandeur of this Renaissance architecture, he specifically notes that its beauty exceeds that of “temples old” in addition to “altars new.” In the preceding stanza, he has already remarked that compared to this seventeenth-century edifice, the “Ephesian miracle”—a temple to Diana (Artemis) in Turkey (one that, he reminds us, “I have seen”)—is reduced to “a cell” (80).

Before Childe Harold arrived in Italy in his fourth canto (1818), the Continental wars had forced the author to circumnavigate the traditional route of the tour—thus explaining Harold’s knowledge of ancient Ephesian architecture. Byron’s own travels abroad, affected by the wars, [End Page 226] exemplified the ways in which the economics of tourism changed in the post-Waterloo era. Byron, an impoverished member of that “pampered social elite,” never could pay for the ostentatious carriage he commissioned for his Continental tour, built in imitation of Napoleon’s own. This carriage might be read productively as a symbol of the transition of the nineteenth-century traveler from aristocratic tourist to his role-playing, “duty-bound,” middle-class poseur. The recognition that the Classical Tour received when it appeared only one year after the first two cantos of Byron’s epic poem was born out of a cultural yearning for aristocratic opulence, however contrived or untruthful the leisurely past represented by this nostalgia may have been.18 It is no small irony that the rise of commercial leisure travel was, in part, a consequence of anti-tourist rhetoric producing a need for more suitably trained tourists.19 This phenomenon also helps to explain Eustace’s fame as well as the reason why Dickens would choose him as the emblematic foe of good travel practices.

Dickens, however, was not Eustace’s first or harshest critic. John Cam Hobhouse (1786–1869), Byron’s frequent travel companion, voiced his antipathy for the Catholic priest nearly thirty years before Dickens did so in Little Dorrit. Hobhouse’s Historical Illustrations of the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold (1818) cites Eustace twice with contempt, suggesting that Eustace’s name had become synonymous with Italian touring. Hobhouse also mentions Eustace in the footnotes he authored for the Fourth Canto of Byron’s poem (1818).20 In these footnotes, Byron’s friend accuses Eustace of inaccuracy, noting in one correction to Eustace’s account of a ruin that the old priest “appears never to have seen any thing as it is.”21 Despite his antipathy for Eustace, Hobhouse nonetheless shared with Eustace a view that a visit [End Page 227] to Italy required intensive study and careful preparation. In phrasing that echoes the Classical Tour, Historical Illustrations reassures its readers that a proper understanding of Rome “must be made the study rather of a life than of a casual visit,” and thus tasks the traveler with a lifetime involved in acquiring classical knowledge. Hobhouse is exacting in the arrangements that the traveler must make:

The education which has qualified the traveller of every nation for that citizenship which is again become, in one point of view, what it once was, the portion of the whole civilized world, prepares for him at Rome enjoyments independent of the city and inhabitants about him, and of all the allurements of site and climate. He will have already peopled the banks of the Tyber with the shades of Pompey, Constantine, and Belisarius, and the other heroes of the Milvian bridge.22

The “enjoyments and allurements” that Hobhouse describes have little relevance to the Rome of 1818, its present conditions, or its contemporary inhabitants. Instead, proper “enjoyments” involve using one’s knowledge of classical history to project images from the past onto the present. For instance, the “qualified” traveler will “people” the banks of the Tiber with historical figures of ancient Rome. The tourist therefore will see Rome for the first time, but will recognize that classical education entitles him to citizenship. In a gesture that is deceptive in its apparent populism, the narrator notes that this citizenship is non-discriminatory: anyone from any nation with the proper education is entitled to it. Such citizenship has become “what it once was” because, after the defeat of Napoleon, British tourists can travel to Rome at last. The author reminds us that Rome is once more the “portion of the whole civilized world.” The OED notes that “portion,” in which the word is followed by “of” (as it is here), means “a specified or limited quantity or amount of a substance, commodity, quality, etc.” From this perspective, Rome itself is the limited quantity of civilization in this world, and only the most educated of travelers may consider themselves its citizens. “Portion” historically also meant “the part or share of an estate given or passing by law to an heir or other beneficiary” (OED), suggesting in this context that Rome is reinherited by the civilized world; according to Hobhouse’s logic, Rome belongs to England again as long as one takes his contempt for contemporary occupants of Italy as a sign that he does not believe them to be sufficiently civilized to merit their own city.

According to this interpretation, education prepares one for citizenship in Rome, yet the Rome of which the qualified traveler is citizen is only accessible [End Page 228] via the imagination—“the present town may be easily forgotten amidst the wrecks of the ancient metropolis,” Hobhouse assures us.23 Ironically, this education that prepares the traveler for Rome requires a physical visit to the place itself, which the wars had prevented, even though the end result will be a historically informed hallucination held within the traveler’s own mind. The main themes of anti-tourism discourse—as explicated by the twentieth century’s most important scholars of tourism such as Dean MacCannell in The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class (1976), Culler in “The Semiotics of Tourism” (1988), and James Buzard in The Beaten Track: European Tourism, Literature, and the Ways to Culture, 1800–1918 (1993)—bear relevance to this formulation as well. Culler summarizes the premise of anti-tourist discourse, stating that “ferocious denigration of tourists is in part an attempt to convince oneself that one is not a tourist.” Buzard points to a pattern wherein self-identified “travelers” see themselves in opposition to mere “tourists,” and they imagine that there is a “beaten track” where “all experience is predictable and repetitive, all culture and objects are merely ‘touristy’ self-parodies.”24 Going off the “beaten track” is the mark of prestige, a brave act that likens the so-called traveler to an adventurer or explorer—the archetypal ür-travelers of yore after whom whole Continents were named. The prejudices of the anti-tourist traveler, which Hobhouse articulates, forbid assistance in the form of guidebooks because that which entitles you to this trip in the first place is the lack of need for one.

There is, however, a cardinal distinction between the respective forms of contempt that Eustace and Hobhouse express toward those tourists who do not possess the right kind of “liberal education.” Eustace’s sudden fame occurred at a time of heightened activity and agitation for Roman Catholics in Britain. Bernard Ward’s classic account of the Dawn of Catholic Revival in England: 1781–1803 (1909) remarks on the significant number of Roman Catholic leaders actively publishing essays and books in favor of emancipation during the first quarter of the nineteenth century, “which, in proportion to their numbers, was very considerable.”25 Moreover, Eustace’s particular orientation towards Roman Catholic doctrine, considered in the following section of this essay, made his travel writing palatable to a wide, non-Catholic audience. [End Page 229]

Eustace and Cisalpine Catholicism

Eustace’s hard-earned reputation with Protestant readers led him to achieve a far greater reputation as an authority on European travel than Hobhouse ever earned. The priest’s educational background both informed his Catholic politics, which were radical for the time, and inured him to much Protestant criticism. From 1775 to 1782, he studied at the Benedictine College of St. Gregory in Douai, Flanders, which was founded just after the Reformation for the education of English expatriate Roman Catholics. Since British Roman Catholics could no longer safely travel to the Continent in the 1790s, the Irish House of Parliament passed an act that created seminaries at home. In due course, Bishop Thomas Hussey (1746–1803) appointed Eustace as the first professor of rhetoric at Maynooth College (now St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth)—in its inaugural year.26 It was indeed a mark of distinction to be the school’s first professor of rhetoric when the school opened in October of 1795, but as the school’s centenary history politely notes: “there were at the time no scholars yet to present themselves in his class-hall.”27

Because Eustace’s name was still widely respected at the end of the nineteenth century, the school’s historical record keepers celebrated his legacy and connection to the college but did not accurately represent how fraught with controversy the priest’s time there actually was. His abrupt departure from Maynooth in 1797 remains one of the most mysterious events in his life, though it is likely that his stance against papal authority and his disagreements with the local Catholic authorities may have made him disagreeable to the school’s administration. He left the school for England where his reputation as a serious classical scholar and adept tutor associated him with its most powerful Catholic families and sent him on the trajectory that led to his eventual literary fame. After serving as chaplain to the Jerninghams of Costessey Hall in Norfolk—a family linked in the late eighteenth century with the cause of Catholic emancipation—he set out on tour in 1801 as the tutor to Philip Roche of Limerick, a relative of the prominent Roche family from County Kildare where Eustace was born.28 In the fall of that year, while staying in Vienna, Eustace and Roche encountered two young Anglican Grand Tourists, John Cust, Lord [End Page 230] Brownlow (1779–1853), to whom he later dedicated the Classical Tour, and Robert Rushbrooke (1779–1845) who would become a prominent Tory in the House of Commons.29 Eustace explains that upon “finding that their views and tastes coincided,” they “agreed to make the tour of Italy together” (1:1). Eustace’s social ascent continued when he became tutor to George Petre at Jesus College, Cambridge. After Cambridge, where he had been the university’s first Roman Catholic tutor since the Reformation, he accompanied Petre to Greece and the islands of the Mediterranean just before publishing the Classical Tour. His fame on the rise, Eustace joined Robert Smith, Lord Carrington (1752–1838) and George Capel-Coningsby, 5th Earl of Essex (1757–1838) on their journey to Paris, where he wrote his popular “Letter from Paris, to George Petre, Esq.” which was then reviewed in the October 1814 issue of the Tory Quarterly Review. He spent the final months of his life traveling in Naples preparing revisions to the Classical Tour, but contracted malaria and died abroad.30

By the early 1800s, Eustace had become an intellectual favorite among elite British Protestants of his time, including fellow Irish exile Edmund Burke, but his were certainly not mainstream Roman Catholic views. As George Petre’s tutor and companion, Eustace was associated with one of the most prominent Cisalpinist Catholics of his time: Petre’s uncle of the same name. The word “Cisalpine” itself refers to devotees located both geographically and ideologically on the other side of the Alps from Rome. An official “Cisalpine Club” was established in 1792 based on principles originally presented by Joseph Berington (1743–1827; educated, like Eustace, in Douai) in his State and Behaviour of the English Catholic Church from the Reformation, Till 1780 and the The Declaration and Protestation signed by the English Catholics in 1789.31 In the 1790s, the elder Petre was chair of the Cisalpine club, a group which was treated with great hostility by many prominent Roman Catholic bishops in Great Britain. Cisalpinists sought to ameliorate the relationship between British Roman Catholics and the government by agreeing to swear the Oath of Allegiance established by James I in 1606. They blamed the Roman Court and the overreaching power of the pope in the Holy See for much of their conflict with the British government.32 [End Page 231] Much to the dismay of some his clerical enemies, Vicar Apostolic John Milner of the Midland District chief among them, Eustace published numerous essays espousing Cisalpinistic beliefs, taking umbrage with less radical Catholic views, and leaning heavily on his own prominent allies for support.33

Catholicism, Travel, and the Classical Tour

The Classical Tour did profound work in advocating for religious tolerance by dispelling myths about Catholic practices, articulating the author’s own doubts about slavish devotion to the Pope, and affiliating Eustace personally with the Protestant elite. As such, Eustace’s much-read and widely praised book, ostensibly about the Grand Tour, was also a Trojan Horse for promoting a view of Catholicism unbound by papal authority—an authority that was most often cited by enemies of emancipation as the reason for Catholic suppression. By 1829, the Catholic sites selected by Eustace’s Classical Tour had become a staple part of the tourist’s route. Thus it is easy for scholars to take their inclusion for granted and forget the highly charged context in which those sites were added in what is the first popular guidebook of the nineteenth century.34 The achievement of Classical Tour was that it demystified for Protestant readers the seemingly alien aspects of Catholic ritual by placing those ceremonies within a familiar narrative of touristic consumption. Eustace’s classical erudition provides a good cover for his radical Catholic philosophy and advocacy of religious tolerance. For instance, despite its title, his book’s only illustrations are foldout floor-plans of Roman Catholic churches.

The appendix of the Classical Tour, titled “On the Pope, the Roman Court, Cardinals &c.,” is tellingly where we find the non-classical concerns of its author most overtly expressed. In this coda to the volume, Eustace gives an account of how reforms initiated at the 1431 General Council of [End Page 232] Florence serve as the basis for papal supremacy. Under Pope Martin V, attendees determined that the pope should henceforth “enjoy primacy and honor and to refuse him would be deemed an act of rebellion” (2:615). The Catholic Creed, known to some as the “Apostles’ Creed,” according to our author, predates Pope Martin V’s council by 1,000 years and is the original source of the “ancient and unadulterated doctrine of the Catholic Church” (2:645). To lend further support to the primacy of this earlier ecumenical policy, Eustace notes that he shares this view—that the Pope’s “power is purely spiritual”—with the most prestigious educational institutions of France: its abbeys, seminaries, and universities. Most pertinently, he asserts the particularly English quality of the doctrinal superiority by adding that this doctrine was “publicly maintained by the English Benedictine college at Douai” (2:645).

When we look at Eustace’s professional activities at the time in which the Classical Tour was published, we must read its forty-page appendix as a continuation of arguments from his Answer to the Charge Delivered by the Lord Bishop of Lincoln to the Clergy of that Diocese (1813). Published just a few months before the Classical Tour by the same publisher (J. Mawman in London), this essay presented Eustace’s provocative rebuttal to arguments made by Archbishop, Sir George Pretyman Tomline in his Charge to the Clergy of his Diocese in 1812.35 Tomline was a well-known opponent of Catholic emancipation, a close friend and tutor to William Pitt the Younger, and later consecrated as Bishop of Winchester. Tomline’s Charge—written as a follow-up to his enormously popular Refutation of Calvinism (1811), which went through six editions in one year—argues that British Catholics already enjoyed enough tolerance: “No one can be a greater Friend than I am to Toleration properly so called … I contend, that Roman Catholics are already in complete possession of Religious Toleration.”36 He calls theirs “a state of Toleration, or of something more than Toleration, in the Kingdom.” Tomline argued that Catholics’ allegiance to the pope compromised their loyalty to the British government. On this view, he claimed that Catholic emancipation was “incompatible with the [End Page 233] safety of our Constitution both in Church and State.”37 In this time of devastation and fear, following two decades of war with the Continent, Tomline’s citing of safety was not a charge that Eustace took lightly:

You know full well, my lord, the effects of such alarms, and I hope you also recollect the dangers that sometimes accompany them. The extreme facility with which the nation catches these panic fears is one of the most extraordinary features of its character, especially when contrasted with the good sense and sound judgment which are supposed to distinguish it upon other occasions.38

Eustace’s Answer to the Charge amounts to a scolding. By chastising the bishop for inciting panic, Eustace also reveals his own anxiety about the national mood that would emerge after the wars. In contrast with this direct and even confrontational tone, the Classical Tour might at first seem anodyne with its cheerful dedication to the Protestant Lord Brownlow, its advocacy of Virgil, and its musings on Italian weather. But the quick sequence of publication of both the Classical Tour and the Answer to the Charge forces us to appreciate their shared political goal.

At the beginning of the appendix, Eustace admits that it is not “strictly speaking included in the plan of a Classical Tour,” and its contents are “intimately connected with the destinies of Rome” (2:613). In Answer to the Charge, echoing his Cisalpinist predecessor Joseph Berington in the State and Behaviour of English Catholics, Eustace explained: “liberty of worship is essential to public tranquility.”39 The explicit purpose of the appendix is in support of this goal, aiming “to give the Protestant reader a clear and precise idea of the rights which every Catholic considers inherent in the Roman See.” Although Eustace overstates his ability to represent “every Catholic” (given that his views were radical rather than common), he believes that if the conflict between Protestants and Catholics is a result of misunderstanding Church doctrine, then by clarifying that doctrine they can find peace (2:605). Eustace’s Cisalpine views offer that possibility.

The Classical Tour curries sympathy for Catholic emancipation explicitly in the appendix and implicitly throughout the body of the work through two main strategies. First, Eustace seeks to undermine the notion that church doctrine forces British Catholics to split their allegiance between the pope and the British monarch. Secondly, as part of guiding the reader through a tour, the author showcases the high value of Catholic architecture, rituals, and saints. In extolling the virtues of these Catholics and [End Page 234] their edifices and works of art, the author reminds readers of the great worthiness of Catholic heroes and traditions. Eustace insists regularly that reasonable people must agree on the value of the good deeds that his coreligionists have performed throughout history.

To illustrate these techniques, we can turn to Eustace’s description of a subterranean chapel in the cathedral in Milan. He begins by describing the exhibited body of sixteenth-century Milanese saint, Archbishop Charles Borremeo, laid out in a

shrine of rock crystal, on, or rather behind the altar; it is stretched at full length, drest in pontifical robes with the crosier and mitre. The face is exposed, very improperly because much disfigured by decay, a deformity increased and rendered more hideous by its contrast with the splendor of the vestments which cover the body, and by the pale ghastly light that gleams from the aperture above.


Eustace goes on for six pages to describe St. Charles’s virtuous acts and their centuries-long influence on his community. The main purpose of this description is to establish common ground with Protestant readers on what defines a “good man,” emphasizing that “the good protestant … will not quarrel with the Milanese for supposing that the good pastor at his departure cast an affectionate glance on his flock … and that he still continues to offer up his orisons for his once beloved people through the common Lord and Mediator” (2:351). A footnote on the matter of St. Charles’s moral superiority extends into the next page, observing that his virtues

have extorted a reluctant compliment from Addison and even from Burnet, and when we consider on the one side the spirit of these writers, and particularly of the latter, and on the other recollect that St. Charles Borromeo was an archbishop, a cardinal, and, what is still worse, a saint, we shall be enabled to give this compliment its full value.

(2:352; emphasis in original)

In Eustace’s view, the saint’s appeal to the most reluctant anti-Catholics increases the value of his example.40 By showing that other Protestants have approved of St. Charles, Eustace seeks to persuade wary Protestants of great Catholics’ worthiness. [End Page 235]

Once he has encouraged reverence for this saint, the cathedral, and the community that cherished St. Charles, Eustace invites his reader to share the common contempt for the French, whose wartime efforts deprived St. Charles’s resting place of funding:

Here indeed, as in every territory where the French domineer, appearances of irreligion too often strike the eye; neglected churches and plundered hospitals … are frequent spectacles as little calculated to please the sight as to conciliate the judgment, that looks forward with terror to the consequences of such a system of atheism.

(2: 353)

He sets up the good saint’s good work in contrast with the enormity of Napoleon, under whose regime money for the church’s completion was “entirely confiscated” (2:353). Notably, French “irreligion” and its “system of atheism” appear as motivations for the “neglect” and “plunder” of churches and hospitals—a gesture pointing towards common ground for Protestants and Catholics in their devotion to a shared god.

Eustace’s theorization of Italian architecture also formulates a common ground for British tourists of Catholic and Protestant affinities by showing that their Britishness, rather than their religion, predicts their reaction to sites of the tour. Eustace’s theories of Gothic and classical architecture, moreover, significantly prefigure the work of John Ruskin, whose anti-Catholic prejudice did not preclude his insight into the biases of British tourists looking at Gothic and classical styles of architecture. Eustace, anticipating Ruskin’s theories almost to the letter, writes: “all the great edifices dedicated to religion in our own country are Gothic and Saxon, while Greek and Roman architecture is seen only in palaces, villas, and theatres” (2:344).41 On this account, when a tourist sees an Italian church built in a classical style, she associates that building with opulence and power rather than religion, and must risk condemning the Italian Catholic church because the eye habituated to the Gothic believes that this style alone “is best adapted to the solemnity of religious offices” (2:344). To explain the contrast between Italian views and those of the English, Eustace helpfully notes that “[a]n Italian’s prejudices run in a contrary direction”: “The [Italian considers] Gothic or Tedesca [German] … as an invention of the northern barbarians, and a combination of disproportions and dissonances” (2:345). The Italian, he writes, [End Page 236] looks upon the whole [Gothic] style as an ill assorted mass of incongruities, disproportions, encumbrance, confusion, darkness, and intricacy, well adapted indeed, as were the forests of Scandinavia, to the gloom and horror of Druidical sacrifices and Runic incantations,

Barbara ritu

Sacra Deum, structae diris feralibus arae.


but very ill calculated for the purposes of a christian congregation, the order and decorum of its rites, and the festive celebration of its mysteries.


It would be difficult, of course, for a non-classically-trained reader to understand that the Latin verses here belong to Marcus Annaeus Lucanus’s first-century poem about the civil wars between Caesar and Pompey. Eustace offers no translation in the first edition of his book. Perhaps acknowledging the needs of the readers who made the Classical Tour so popular, the book’s sixth edition (1819) added a translation in a footnote: “Where bar’brous rites profan’d the dark abodes/And altars rose to furies, not to gods.”42 Previously, these words referencing the “barbarous rites” and human offerings made at Caesar’s command (after forcing his reluctant soldiers to chop down a sacred forest) were illegible to the reader unfamiliar with Roman literature.43

According to Eustace, the Gothic style was just as illegible to the Italian Christian as the non-translated Latin would be to the untrained reader. The author imagines a hypothetical Italian’s reaction to the Gothic, a reaction that evokes pre-Christian imagery from the disparate, non-Christian reaches of Europe: from Scandinavian forests, to the Roman legionnaires, or to the paganism of ancient Britons. Given the imaginary Italian’s extravagant and un-Christian reaction to the “confusion, darkness, and intricacy” of the Gothic church, it follows that the classical style is more appropriate for church architecture in Italy. In training his British reader to understand architecture from the point of view of the Italian, Eustace also shows how inappropriate it is for the British tourist to hold the Italian’s predilection for classical churches against him. How could the British tourist begrudge the Italian his straight, repetitive, and predictable ornamentation given the pagan frenzy Eustace has painted as the typical Italian response to the Gothic? Instead of misreading the classical-style church as a sign of irreligion, tourists [End Page 237] equipped with Eustace’s instructions would be able to approach and appreciate Italian sensibilities without prejudice.

John Chetwode Eustace anticipated the educational deficits of his readers far more deftly than his own avowed preference for readers “of a liberal education” prepares us to imagine. Because the priest published his book in 1813, just before the wars with Napoleon ended, it offered its readers a rare glimpse of the effects of the decades of conflict upon the sights of the Grand Tour—a perspective that few other books could provide at the time. It also suited the particular needs of the new type of British tourist who would surge onto the Continent following the years of war: one who was more interested in Catholic culture and its artifacts than in the monuments of the ancient past. Despite its title, the Classical Tour took advantage of this rising interest as a way to seed tolerance for British Catholics, thus strengthening advocacy for Catholic Emancipation as well as influencing contemporary aesthetic tastes. We can return to Dickens’s contempt for “Mr. Eustace” and see it as evidence of a current of nostalgia that characterizes a great deal of anti-touristic rhetoric from the period rather than as any measure of Eustace’s incompetence. After all, anyone arriving on the Continent after so many years of international conflict, which had left many of its cultural monuments in ruins, would likely long for what may have once been a grander Grand Tour with fewer fellow British tourists obstructing the views. By associating Eustace with Mrs. General (the embodiment of everything wrong with tourists), Dickens suggests that Eustace is partly responsible for inspiring such a degraded culture of travel; however, the reason why the Classical Tour became so influential in the nineteenth century is that readers needed that particular form of explicit guidance to make meaning of the sights. Rather than joining in Dickens’s dismissal of “Mr. Eustace,” Mrs. General, and any other tourists who required the use of a guidebook to explicate Italian sights, one can read these complaints as a symptom of the growing popularity of tourism and part of the conventional rhetoric of anti-tourism that came to characterize most tourist writing as a result. After all, even Dickens himself used Murray’s guidebooks when he traveled abroad, though not without bitter complaint.44 [End Page 238]

Alexandra Milsom
Hostos Community College, CUNY
Alexandra Milsom

Alexandra Milsom is Assistant Professor of English at Hostos Community College, CUNY. Her interests include tourism, the gothic, and musicology. She is presently completing a book that evaluates the role played by the Grand Tour in both promoting and thwarting the cause of Catholic Emancipation in Great Britain and Ireland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


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2. The John Murray firm started publishing its handbook series in 1836; the German Baedeker firm began publishing guidebooks in 1827 but only began printing in English in the 1860s.

4. The Italian Risorgimento, which took place in waves throughout the nineteenth century, would affect how tourists were instructed to travel throughout Italy. Eustace’s Classical Tour provides information about both Northern and Southern Italy while the John Murray publishing firm, which would publish the most popular guidebooks of the mid-nineteenth century, produced separate guidebooks for Northern (1842), Central (1843), and Southern Italy (1853). For details about this historical period, see Sharon Ouditt, Impressions of Southern Italy: British Travel Writing from Henry Swinburne to Norman Douglas (New York: Routledge, 2014), 2–3; and W. B. C. Lister, Murray’s Handbooks for Travellers (Lanham: University Publications of America, 1993).

5. The main character, Arthur Clennam, has just returned from China at the beginning of the novel. It is likely that his family is involved in investment schemes underwriting the Opium Wars. See Tamara Wagner, “Sketching China,” in A Century of Travels in China: Critical Essays on Travel Writing from the 1840s to the 1940s, ed. Douglass Kerr and Julia Kuehn (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2007), 21.

6. Ouditt’s helpful account of British travelers to the Continent in the early nineteenth century alerts us to the dangers of travel during that period. See Impressions of Southern Italy, 14.

7. During the Peace of Amiens, British luminaries such as William Herschel (the astronomer), Charles James Fox (William Pitt’s rival), William Hazlitt, the Wordsworths, Maria Edgeworth, and Frances Burney were among the many thousands of Britons to cross the Channel. J. M. W. Turner filled a sketchbook with drawings at the Louvre. During the interregnum, Roman sculpture and Renaissance artwork, which had been looted from Italy, became accessible to thousands of visitors.

8. Joseph Forsyth (1763–1815) was one of the unfortunate tourists who was captured by Napoleon’s armies after the Peace of Amiens ended on 18 May 1803. Forsyth wrote his Remarks while in captivity, hoping the book would flatter Napoleon’s interest in antiquities and lead to his early release. Despite this effort, Forsyth languished in prison and died shortly after returning to Great Britain after the war had ended. See J. David Markham, “Prisoners and Writers: Napoleon’s British Captives and Their Stories,” in Consortium on Revolutionary Europe (1996): 121–34, and Ouditt, Impressions of Southern Italy, 14.

11. There certainly are passages describing various classical sights in Eustace’s book, but it is telling that its only illustrations are floor plans of churches along the route.

13. Incidentally, Ruskin nearly failed his classical studies at Oxford.

18. Duke Pesta describes the appeal of the epic romance to readers of its time: “The far-off locales and exotic exploits of Harold resonated deeply with English readers seeking an escape from the regimen and orderliness of the Enlightenment. Harold’s decision to leave England and seek adventure and danger in far-off lands appealed to both the wanderlust of the pampered social elite and the imaginative fancy of the duty-bound middle class.” See Pesta, “‘Darkness Visible’: Byron and the Romantic Anti-Hero,” in Bloom’s BioCritiques: Lord Byron (Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2004), 63.

19. For information on the rise of leisure time in the working class and its consequences on travel, see John Urry, The Tourist Gaze (London: Sage, 1990), 16–19. For more information on the rise of group travel, see Piers Brendon, Thomas Cook: 150 Years of Popular Tourism (London: Secker and Warburg, 1991).

20. Although Byron appears to have never denigrated Eustace, in an 1817 letter to John Murray, he complains upon hearing that Eustace received £2000 for a long, didactic poem on the “Culture of the Youthful Mind” (which he never finished or shared publicly). Byron indicates that he would gladly start writing similarly long poems if it meant that he, too, could receive so much in compensation.

24. MacCannell, The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class (New York: Schocken Books, 1976); Culler, “The Semiotics of Tourism, ”156; Buzard, The Beaten Track: European Tourism, Literature, and the Ways to “Culture,” 1800–1918 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 4.

28. In one of her famous letters, Lady Frances Dillon Jerningham wrote of Eustace’s dogmatic adherence to ritual in performing rituals during Lent in 1799. She tells her friend Lady Bedingfeld that one of their guests left Costessey because “the fasting and praying was too much” for him. See The Jerningham Letters (1780–1845) (London: R. Bentley and Son, 1896).

30. Eustace’s remains were interred in St. Crocelle in Naples and became a minor point of interest for later tourists. Mariana Starke copied part of the tomb’s inscription, for instance, in her popular Travels in Europe (1828).

32. Notable Cisalpinists included lawyer Charles Butler, Dr. James Talbot (Vicar Apostolic of the London District), Charles Herington (Vicar Apostolic of the Midland District, also educated at Douai), Sir William Jerningham (for whom Eustace would work in Norfolk after leaving Maynooth College), and Lord Petre (the uncle of the Petre for whom Eustace served as tutor at Cambridge starting in 1805).

33. Milner was known for trying to thwart the efforts of the British Catholic clergy and laity who tried to gain the authority to appoint and consecrate their own bishops without Papal approval. See Frederick Charles Husenbeth, The Life of the Right Rev. John Milner, D.D. (Dublin: James Duffy, 1862).

34. Ouditt’s Impressions of Southern Italy does reestablish the historical importance of Eustace’s Classical Tour within the context of early-nineteenth century travel writing about Italy, however her book’s focus upon the sites and routes rather than the Catholic politics leaves us room for further inquiry into Eustace’s political motivations.

35. In the early 1800s, Joseph Mawman (1757–1827) of York purchased a bookselling and printing business from Charles Dilly (1739–1807), well known Dissenter and friend of Samuel Johnson. Dilly’s firm had published the first editions of James Boswell’s Tour to the Hebrides (1785) and Life of Johnson (1791). Mawman himself tried his hand at travel-writing in 1805, publishing his own book entitled An Excursion to the Highlands of Scotland and the English Lakes, with Recollections, Descriptions, and References to Historical Facts. See Henry Richard Tedder, “Dilly, Charles (1739–1807),” in Dictionary of National Biography 1885–1900, vol. 15 (London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1885–1900), 91–92.

40. Gilbert Burnet (1643–1715), bishop of Salisbury, was most famous for writing a travelogue entitled Dr. Burnet’s Travels, or Letters Containing an Account of What Seemed Most Remarkable in Switzerland, Italy, France, and Germany, &c. Apparently what struck him as “most remarkable” along his tour was anything that confirmed his anti-Catholic prejudice. See Martin Greig, “Burnet, Gilbert (1643–1715),” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); online ed., ed. Lawrence Goldman, accessed September 2013.

41. In The Stones of Venice, Ruskin would write: “Thus the Renaissance manner of building is a convenient style for dwelling-houses, but the natural sense of all religious men causes them to turn from it with pain when it has been used in churches; and this has given rise to the popular idea that the Roman style is good for houses and the Gothic for churches.” See John Ruskin, The Works of John Ruskin, ed. Cook and Wedderburn, 39 vols. (London: George Allen, 1903–12), 10:123.

43. See North Pinder, Selections from the Less Known Latin Poets (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1869), 318.

44. See Charles Dickens, The Oxford Illustrated Dickens: American Notes and Pictures from Italy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 19:271. In the chapter entitled “Lyons, the Rhone, and the Goblin of Avignon,” in Pictures from Italy, Dickens complains about information that he cannot find in “Mr. Murray’s Guide-Book” about the Lyons Cathedral, suggesting his frustrated familiarity with the very book that he refuses to reference anywhere else.

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