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Scotland and the Sea

William Daniell’s “Periplus”: Littoral Travel and Aesthetic Representation in Scotland and Asia

Le Periplus de William Daniell : voyage au fil du littoral et représentation esthétique en Écosse et en Asie
Elizabeth Mjelde

Résumés

Parmi les caractérisations les plus populaires des côtes écossaises, on trouve celles produites par William Daniell pour A voyage round Great Britain (1814-1825), projet monumental qui comprend plus de trois cents aquatintes. Daniell travailla comme artiste colonial en Asie du Sud avant d’entreprendre de dessiner les paysages britanniques. Cet article explore non seulement la relation entre sa manière de rendre les littoraux d’Asie et de Grande-Bretagne, mais aussi la façon dont s’enchevêtrent le projet de Daniell, la prose de Sir Walter Scott ainsi qu’un essai peu connu du révérend William Gilpin, pour démontrer l’engagement de l’artiste à la fois dans la catégorie du pittoresque et dans le romantisme. L’imagerie que Daniell déploie dans sa vision des côtes écossaises correspond de bien des manières avec les représentations qu’il a publiées de sites de l’océan Indien et de la mer de Chine, non du fait de similitudes réelles de la topographie mais plutôt à cause des structures de représentations qu’il employait.

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For Daniel, with thanks

Texte intégral

  • 1 Richard Ayton and William Daniell, A voyage round Great Britain, undertaken in the summer of the ye (...)
  • 2 Thomas and William Daniell, A picturesque voyage to India by the way of China, London, Longman, Hur (...)

1During the 1810s and 1820s, collectors of landscape imagery acquainted with the work of William Daniell may have found the aquatints in his new series of views, A voyage round Great Britain, to look curiously familiar.1 As a practitioner of picturesque discourse, Daniell approached the production of landscape imagery according to aesthetic rules derived from the study of paintings by seventeenth-century Continental artists—Claude Lorrain and Aelbert Cuyp, among others—but his debt to such artists is not discussed here. Rather, the imagery Daniell produced for A voyage round Great Britain, a project he began in 1813 and completed in 1825, owed a great deal to an earlier publication of his own, A picturesque voyage to India by the way of China, published in 1810.2 That the artist based imagery of the British coastline on compositions that he had constructed while traveling in Asia is a matter overdue for analysis and the subject of this essay.

  • 3 See especially Louis Hawes, Presences of Nature: British Landscape 1780–1830, New Haven, Yale Cente (...)

2The eight volumes and 308 individual views that comprise A voyage round Great Britain is a project sufficiently complex to necessitate multiple approaches of study. Scholars have explored individual aquatints from the series, especially from the standpoint of natural history.3 Since the aim of this study is to consider ways that Daniell’s observations of people and land in Asia informed his descriptions of Britain’s shores, significant attention is devoted to the discursive patterns within which he worked. Analysis reveals that his representations of Scotland’s coastlines share a great deal with his imagery of littoral sites in Asia, not because of actual similarities of topography but due to the aesthetic priorities he employed when seeking out views.

3As a teen, Daniell worked as an apprentice to his uncle, Thomas Daniell, with whom he traveled in and around South Asia from 1786 to 1794, gathering material for paintings and aquatint publications. William Daniell continued to produce imagery based on his travel experiences well into the 1830s. The colonialist aesthetic that he and his uncle cultivated to convey ideas about people and land while abroad was strongly based on picturesque practice in Britain. For scholars of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British ideas, the picturesque must be wrestled with, not only because it was among the most popular means by which to produce travel accounts (hence a ubiquitous presence in the literature and documentation of British expansion), but because its rules required artists and writers to edit systematically their experiences of the natural world, a process that often resulted in the communication of misinformation about people and land subsumed by, or on the margins of, empire.

  • 4 John Soane’s Bank of England designs date from the 1790s through the late 1820s. The National Galle (...)
  • 5 William Vincent, a contemporary of William Daniell, published a new translation and notes on the Th (...)

4To address ways that William Daniell’s career as a colonial artist influenced how he saw and depicted home is partly a question of empire, but A voyage round Great Britain is also tied to the emergence of national identity in pre-Victorian Britain. The period during which Daniell worked as a professional artist coincided with the Peninsular War as well as the launch of Britain’s second empire, both of which spurred strong nationalist sentiment. In undertaking A voyage round Great Britain, Daniell produced a work of national scope, the scale of which rivaled other monumental projects of the era, from John Soane’s designs for the Bank of England to the establishment of the National Gallery.4 In 1821, he dedicated the fifth volume of A voyage round Great Britain to George IV, referring to the work as “my laborious Periplus round this highly favoured Island”. In doing so, Daniell equated A voyage round Great Britain with the celebrated first century document of ancient navigation and trade in the Indian Ocean, The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea.5

5These strands for analysis—aesthetic discourse, colonial expansion, and nationalism—intersect in Daniell’s representations of Scotland’s coasts. It was there the artist came to terms with an alternative discursive practice that enabled him to fine-tune his conception and conveyance of nationhood during a period of intense colonial development. But why Scotland, in particular?

From the Pearl River Delta to Skyreburn Bay

6Upon settling in London after travelling extensively along the littoral of the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, William and Thomas Daniell proceeded to publish numerous series of aquatints, most notably Oriental Scenery. Somewhat belatedly, they published A picturesque voyage to India by the way of China, a volume of fifty aquatints, in 1810. Therein they described people and land as if the subjects they depicted in their sketchbooks would remain unchanged over the course of time.

7In China’s Pearl River Delta, “scenery near Hotun” likely caught the attention of the Daniells not because it was remarkable, unusual, or curious but because it reminded the artists of seventeenth-century landscape paintings that they and their British patrons admired. They referred to their aquatint of the region, Hotun, on the Canton River (Figure 1), as “a specimen of the general aspect” of the area’s riverscape environment, which they described as follows:

  • 6 The Daniells, A picturesque voyage, n.p.

The bordering hills crowned with lofty trees; the gentle acclivities, whose lively verdure is insensibly lost in the deeper foliage of the woods; the solitary pagoda, encircled by trees, the rice fields stretching to the water’s edge, and every where intersected by fertilizing streams; these are the general features of the country, and they are such as perpetually delight the eye by their variety, luxuriance, and amenity.6

Substitute “castle” for “pagoda” and “wheat” for “rice” and their description could just as well apply to one of the aquatints that William Daniell produced for the second volume of A voyage round Great Britain in 1816, Cardness Castle, near Gatehouse, Kirkcudbrightshire (Figure 2). Both images present tranquil riverscapes. Small sailing vessels positioned on a sequence of planes emphasize a serpentine course of water that reflects boats and local architecture. Daniell strategically positioned himself in relation to the landscape elements at each site to maximize the possibility of creating picture-like effects. Distinctive buildings (a castle, a temple) stand before a backdrop of hills, which extend deeply into the farthest plane, while tiny figures punt or row their way through both aquatints. Perceived similarities of locale, however, are due less to topographical similarities between Kirkcudbrightshire and the Pearl River region than to the employment of picturesque discourse at these sites.

Figure 1. – Thomas Daniell and William Daniell, Hotun, on the Canton River, 1810.

Figure 1. – Thomas Daniell and William Daniell, Hotun, on the Canton River, 1810.

Courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Figure 2. – William Daniell, Cardness Castle, near Gatehouse, Kirkcudbrightshire, 1816.

Figure 2. – William Daniell, Cardness Castle, near Gatehouse, Kirkcudbrightshire, 1816.

Courtesy of the Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

  • 7 Ibid.
  • 8 Ayton & Daniell, A voyage round Great Britain, vol. II, p. 219.

8The texts that accompany these aquatints indicate that Daniell not only imposed visual patterns of representation while traveling but that he approached local information by means of particular ways of knowing. It was not what was new in the landscape that was assumed to be of interest to readers but that which was already familiar. In Hotun, on the Canton River, the Daniells discounted the traditional religious function of the Chinese temple with the suggestion that its usefulness was instead aesthetic, writing, “it does not appear that these religious-looking edifices are consecrated to public or private worship, and they are often introduced for no other purpose than to embellish a fine prospect”.7 In the description of Cardoness Castle that accompanies Daniell’s aquatint of it, the artist’s writing partner, Richard Ayton, addressed not the castle’s function or history but its aesthetic value (or lack thereof), referring to it as “a specimen of the utmost degree of plainness that masonry can admit of.”8 It was the role that Cardoness Castle played vis-à-vis the other elements of landscape that was of primary interest to the picturesque adept, and which could redeem the “plainness” of the castle, since

  • 9 Ibid.

[…] in spite of its exceeding rudeness, when seen from a little distance, and combined with the scenery of a very picturesque bay, is a good object, possessing the interest of evident antiquity, and not without some appearance of dignity.9

  • 10 William Gilpin, Observations on the River Wye, and several parts of South Wales, & c. relative chie (...)

Ayton’s description of the castle in relation to its environment betrays the influence of Reverend William Gilpin, Britain’s most popular practitioner of the picturesque. Gilpin described Tintern Abbey in similar terms, that is, best appreciated in the context of its environment.10 While sketching the domestic landscape of Britain, Gilpin’s picturesque priorities led him to privilege certain landscape elements over others, a process of visual editing that at times amounted to misrepresentation.

  • 11 William Gilpin, “River-Views, Bays, & Sea Coasts”, 1781. MSS 1978.39, Morgan Library and Museum, Ne (...)
  • 12 Gilpin, “River-Views, Bays, & Sea Coasts”.

9An example of Reverend Gilpin’s influence upon Daniell’s project in this regard is the manner in which Daniell organized the composition of Cardness Castle, near Gatehouse, Kirkcudbrightshire. Gilpin strongly advocated for the representation of river imagery in the domestic landscape, going so far as to suggest that “the picturesque eye” could be pleasantly fooled by what could be perceived as a river.11 He noted that “lakes sometimes appear in the form of rivers of the larger kind, so rivers sometimes assume the form of lakes” and, at any rate, “rivers […] at the end of their courses become estuaries; and lead to sea coasts, and bays. There are very few modes of composition susceptible of greater beauty”.12 Richard Ayton described Cardoness Castle in relation to “a very picturesque bay”, but the vantage point chosen by Daniell for the aquatint excluded Skyreburn Bay. The artist positioned his viewers instead to look away from it, beyond even the estuary of the Water of Fleet, whose narrow banks are visible at the lower left and right, the boats upon it drawing one’s gaze towards the northeast.

10Reverend Gilpin valued beauty more than an accurate accounting of landscape elements at a site, an aspect of the picturesque that points to its unreliability in transmitting local information. That Daniell depicted Skyreburn Bay to look like a river in his view of Cardoness Castle demonstrates his reliance upon the formulaic nature of the discourse. Even so, as Daniell made his way around the perimeter of Scotland, he demonstrated a willingness to bend or break the rules of the picturesque.

Between Dwygyfylchi and Forfarshire

11Throughout the years William Daniell produced A voyage round Great Britain, picturesque discourse continued to be pervasive in the work of artists in the colonies. Its popularity within Britain, however, waned in favor of Romanticism, wherein artists attended to natural, local details at the sites they depicted. A shift away from the generalizing tendencies of the picturesque is apparent in Daniell’s work as one follows the artist into the latter volumes of his project.

12In an aquatint from the second volume, Penman-maur, taken from near Aber, N. Wales of 1815 (Figure 3), a collection of objects on the near shore—a boat, rocks, a scattering of birds—anchors the left side of the composition. In a later print, Dundee, Forfarshire of 1822 (Figure 4), produced for volume six, the artist again anchored the composition at the lower left, employing a silhouette of natural foliage for this purpose. In both prints Daniell offset this visual weight by pulling one’s eyes diagonally upwards and to the right, to the large hill in Dwygyfylchi, Wales or the impressive boughs of a tree in Forfarshire, Scotland. Intersecting the diagonal thrust are representations of people. At Penmanmaur these figures walk into the view, becoming part of it. At Dundee they are positioned before the view, as if arrested by it. In the latter the sunlight is so bright that its reflections upon the water create sharp, white highlights. The cheerful disposition of the day in combination with an implied conversation among the figures suggests openness and companionableness. By contrast, the figures who make their way towards Penmaenmawr walk through a landscape in which the light changes depending on the cloud cover, traces of which wrap around the hill. If the figures in the Welsh landscape converse, their conversation is a private one. The local landscape is not a spectacle to be absorbed but a place to move through.

Figure 3. – William Daniell, Penman-maur, taken from near Aber, N. Wales, 1815.

Figure 3. – William Daniell, Penman-maur, taken from near Aber, N. Wales, 1815.

Courtesy of the Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

Figure 4. – William Daniell, Dundee, Forfarshire, 1822.

Figure 4. – William Daniell, Dundee, Forfarshire, 1822.

Courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

  • 13 Ayton & Daniell, A voyage round Great Britain, vol. II, p. 41.

13To accompany Daniell’s representation of Penmaenmawr, Richard Ayton included an account of his ascent of it, in the company of a local guide. Ayton found that the “very steep” and “horribly rugged” climb nevertheless afforded “a prospect that would have amply repaid the labour of a much more difficult expedition”.13 As with the figures in Daniell’s print, Ayton appears to have traversed the landscape without taking in its details. Acknowledging only the difficulty of the trek until he was rewarded with a view, Ayton then described the scene by means of Gilpin’s picturesque principles, naming the individual elements of landscape that comprised the whole: sea, shoreline, plain, and meadow:

  • 14 Ibid.

To my right was the blue expanse of boundless sea, and in front the yellow sands, divided by a thousand winding streaks of water, and bordered by a lovely plain, spread out beneath my eye, and covered with corn and pasture, and tufted wood […].14

  • 15 Ibid.

Ayton compared the “long stripe of meadow land […] a brilliant green edging the sands, and the remaining surface adorned with a warm and blended colouring” to “the rich border of an Indian shawl”.15 Having dissolved the landscape into abstraction, he distanced one of its elements further from its own local self through comparison with a prized article of clothing from the East Indies.

  • 16 Daniell, vol. VI, p. 18.

14William Daniell constructed the view of Dundee with the same organizational principles as the view of Penmaenmawr but placed greater value on the specificity of individual surfaces, down to the glittering reflections of light on the surface of the water, a natural detail that Gilpin rejected as undesirable in an image, finding that “broken lights” such as these had a tendency to “destroy the harmony” of an otherwise picturesque view, injuring its “repose”. That Daniell handled the depiction of light and surface differently at Dundee was likely the result of a willingness on his part to craft a response to what he called the “agreeable contrast” of visiting Dundee in comparison to “most, if not all the places of the north”; he found the city “a decided improvement in the aspect of both persons and things” and the result was a “change upon the mind”. In other words, Daniell went beyond observation at Dundee: he experienced it, a matter of “passing from solitude to society, from gloom to light, from melancholy to mirth”.16 Between Dwygyfylchi and Forfarshire Daniell adopted an approach to viewing and representing landscape in a manner akin to Romanticism, enabling him to offer ready opinions about the ways that changes in the “aspect of both persons and things” affected his mind and mood.

  • 17 William Wordsworth, “London, 1802”, in Poems, in Two Volumes, London, Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orm (...)
  • 18 S. T. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria; or Biographical Sketches, of My Literary Life and Opinions, (...)

15Romantic poets such as William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge based much of their subject matter on the domestic landscape, but unlike practitioners of the picturesque they drew a distinction between the familiar and the local. In a sonnet by Wordsworth of 1802, the poet characterized England as a “[…] fen/Of stagnant waters”, the result of Englishmen having become too self-absorbed.17 Coleridge, in agreement with Wordsworth, suggested that people’s minds needed to be awakened from “the lethargy of custom”. In his Biographia Literaria of 1817, Coleridge wrote that to truly experience the landscape was not possible if it was too familiar. To him, the world was “an inexhaustible treasure, but for which in consequence of the film of familiarity and self solicitude we have eyes, yet see not, ears that hear not, and hearts that neither feel nor understand”.18 For a colonial artist such as Daniell, depicting the British landscape according to a Romantic aesthetic required him to reconceive his relationship with the local landscape, the place where Romanticism and the picturesque collide.

16Daniell conceived of A voyage round Great Britain as a picturesque project but questioned his reliance on the discourse after commencing with travel. Juxtaposition of two texts—his publication proposal for the series and the introduction to the first published volume—indicates that the artist was conflicted about adopting an approach to landscape representation characterized solely as picturesque. Daniell’s proposal reveals that his initial title for the project was A picturesque voyage round Great Britain, but upon publication the artist omitted the word “picturesque”. In the proposal, Daniell characterized the goal of the series, as follows:

  • 19 See “Proposal for publishing A Picturesque voyage round Great Britain, illustrated with coloured en (...)

[…] to give a Descriptive Account of the Coast, and of every object worthy of observation in its Vicinity; of the Towns, Harbours, Forts, and the general Character and appearance of the Shire round the Island.19

  • 20 Ayton & Daniell, vol. I, p. iv.
  • 21 Ayton & Daniell, vol. I, p. iii.
  • 22 Ibid.
  • 23 Further, William Daniell may have thought twice about characterizing the project as “picturesque” d (...)

17In the introduction to the first volume, however, he and Ayton claimed to value not generalization but specificity, inasmuch as that they would focus “minutely” on the coastline, examining “every point, and stone, and cranny”.20 They vowed to move beyond depiction of Britain’s popular coastal resorts, which lacked “ruggedness and sublimity, features for which coastal scenery is most to be admired”.21 In short, the team promised Britons the “boldness” of their own shores while simultaneously offering picturesque beauty.22 While Daniell was not willing to avoid sites that lent themselves to picturesque organization, he would capitalize on opportunities to engage in representation by means of a Romantic sensibility.23

18Still, the fact that William Daniell initially planned to market A voyage round Great Britain as a picturesque project is a testament to the degree to which the discourse was fundamental to his way of seeing and conceptualizing landscape. Daniell’s decision to implement an admixture of discursive elements suggests not so much a diminishing of the presence of the picturesque in his work as it signified an attempt to implement an approach that allowed him to attend to the British landscape in a more direct way. I suggest that it was Daniell’s encounter with the work of Walter Scott that allowed him to achieve as much in the latter volumes of A voyage round Great Britain. Daniell and Scott shared a similar approach to the production of landscape imagery. As it turns out, the Romantic poet was a picturesque adept.

From the Sunda Strait to Ayrshire

  • 24 Unsigned review, The Scots Magazine, and Edinburgh Literary Miscellany, vol. 77, 1815, p. 49.
  • 25 Unsigned review, The British Review and London Critical Journal, vol. 6, 1815, p. 98.
  • 26 Ibid.
  • 27 Unsigned review, The Quarterly Review, vol. 13, July 1815, p. 288.
  • 28 Ibid., p. 308.

19In 1815, the year after William Daniell published the first volume of A voyage round Great Britain, Walter Scott brought out The Lord of the Isles, a chronicle in verse celebrating Scotland’s independence as a result of the leadership of Robert the Bruce. Reviewers of the poem found the narrative, and even Scott’s use of language, flawed, but were impressed by the poet’s ability to create a convincing and compelling sense of landscape. A gentle critic found the poem’s “imagery” equal to the story in “spirit, and perhaps superior in correctness”,24 but another found Scott’s attention to landscape disruptive to his narrative, to the extent that “the mere story was only a secondary object”.25 This writer went on to compare The Lord of the Isles to “the exhibition of a national gallery, containing old historical paintings, characteristic portraits, heroic landscapes, and sea-pieces in great variety”.26 A third critic blamed Scott’s descriptive tendencies on the public, since “all that the purchasers of poetry seem to insist upon is an interesting story, spirited narrative and good picturesque descriptions of visible objects”.27 In spite of this, the reviewer had to admit that Scott “describes […] such a flow of life”.28

  • 29 Ann M. Guest, “Imagery of Color and Light in Scott’s Narrative Poems”, Studies in English Literatur (...)
  • 30 Ibid., p. 719.

20Analyzing the distinctive visual properties of The Lord of the Isles, Ann Guest has identified the palette of the poem as “blue-dominated”: “Harmonizing with the nautical background are azure hills and ‘dark-blue land’, eyes that flash blue rather than red, an unusual blue horizon for a battle scene, and blue-gleaming swords.”29 And to what end? “Whether gloomy or sunny, misty or clear, Scott’s scenery is convincing—both visually and emotionally—and hence Romantic in the truest sense.”30

  • 31 Daniell, vol. III, p. iii.
  • 32 The Quarterly Review, vol. 13, p. 300.
  • 33 The British Review and London Critical Journal, vol. 6, p. 101.

21William Daniell took The Lord of the Isles to heart. In 1818 the artist dedicated the third volume of A voyage round Great Britain to Walter Scott, characterizing the aquatints therein as a “series of views” that “associate themselves with the vivid pictures which your last great poem presents of the magnificent scenery of the Isles”.31 Critics and literary theorists alike have discussed The Lord of the Isles within the parameters of Romanticism, its language capable of communicating “the desolate grandeur which marks the scenery of the northern Highlands”32 and “all the horrific grandeur and awful sublimity of which inanimate nature is capable”.33 But the degree to which Scott was rooted in picturesque discourse remains to be determined.

  • 34 Alexander M. Ross, The Impact of the Picturesque on Nineteenth-Century British Fiction, Waterloo, O (...)
  • 35 Walter Scott, The Voyage of the Pharos: Walter Scott’s Cruise Around Scotland in 1814, Glasgow, The (...)
  • 36 Ibid., p. 43.
  • 37 Ibid., p. 73.
  • 38 Ibid., p. 58.

22Scott was likely well read in the literature of the picturesque, since upon building his estate, Abbotsford, he would manage its physical environs according to picturesque principles.34 Concerning the degree to which the discourse informed The Lord of the Isles, one must peruse the journal Scott produced while traveling to remote sites as a guest of the Commissioners of Northern Lights in 1814, a trip that provided him with the source material necessary to build the poem. In the journal, “Vacation 1814”, Scott evaluated the landscape of Scotland’s islands in picturesque terms. When visiting the Isle of May to inspect an old lighthouse that was “to be abolished for an oil revolving-light”, the poet recommended that it be ruined “à la picturesque—i.e. demolishing it partially” to increase the visual appeal of the site.35 He found that island to have picturesque potential but, to his thinking, other sites fared less well from the standpoint of aesthetic satisfaction. At one point Scott complained about having to pass through a string of “low green islands, which hardly lift themselves above the sea—not a cliff or hill to be seen—what a contrast to the land we have left!”36 But he understood that the presence of hills did not guarantee a picturesque scene. At Cape Wrath, Scott wrote, “the countryside […] swells into high sweeping elevations, but without any picturesque or dignified mountainous scenery”.37 By contrast, he found the “Hill of Hoy”, which was “very steep and furrowed with ravines, and catching all the mists from the western ocean”, to have “a noble and picturesque effect in every point of view”.38

23Scott had sufficiently schooled himself in the discourse to understand that the elements of landscape must be considered as a whole for a scene to have picturesque potential, and that the beauty of a scene could be qualified when those elements attained a cohesiveness to the eye. On 25 August 1814, having glimpsed the “highly romantic” coast of Skye with its rich vegetation, the party, after passing several small bays, finally reached “a most extraordinary scene”:

  • 39 Ibid., p. 84.

[…] we were surrounded by hills of the boldest and most precipitous character, and on the margin of a lake which seemed to have sustained the constant ravages of torrents from these rude neighbours. […] The proper name is Loch Corriskin, from the deep corrie or hollow in the mountains of Cuillin, which affords the basin for this wonderful sheet of water. It is as exquisite as a savage scene, as Loch Katrine is as a scene of stern beauty.39

  • 40 Ibid., p. 101.

24Here Scott relied on picturesque discourse to differentiate between various kinds of beauty, but he would also rely on the discourse to complete a site unseen. In Morvern, Scott bolstered a description of the object of his attention—“the very imperfect ruins of the castle of Ardtornish, to which the Lords of the Isles summoned parliaments, and from whence one of them dated a treaty with the Crown of England as an independent Prince”40—by acknowledging “great promise of beauty” in its environs. He accomplished this by using a reference to Loch Aline as the scene’s mainstay, “a beautiful salt-water lake, with a narrow outlet to the Sound”:

  • 41 Ibid.

It is surrounded by round hills, sweetly fringed with green copse below, and one of which exhibits to the spy-glass ruins of a castle. There is great promise of beauty in its interior, but we cannot see everything.41

25In this way, a key site in The Lord of the Isles could be included among those Scott visited in 1814 that lent themselves to a discussion of picturesque beauty.

26Like A voyage round Great Britain, Scott’s poem was a project that concerned nationhood. A critic writing about The Lord of the Isles for The Gentleman’s Magazine found it difficult not to praise Robert the Bruce, the poem’s hero and “the deliverer of his Country”, with a surge of patriotism stemming from Britain’s difficulties with France:

  • 42 Unsigned review in The Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Chronicle, vol. 85, January-June 1815, p (...)

[…] the present generation of Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Irishmen, especially brave and enterprising as their ancestors, now oppose the front of war to their foreign enemies only, under the glorious banner of the United Kingdom.42

  • 43 William Deresiewicz, Jane Austen and the Romantic Poets, New York, Columbia University Press, 2004, (...)

27William Deresiewicz finds the final canto of The Lord of the Isles particularly persuasive as a bid for national unity, in that it “explicitly likens the breathless pace of Bruce’s campaign of reconquest to that of the closing period of the Napoleonic war”.43 Scott’s narrative reconciled a fragmented political past into a cohesive whole, conjoining what was perceived as national to the realm of personal experience through Romantic description of the domestic landscape. As such, The Lord of the Isles may have motivated Daniell to reorder his aesthetic priorities and embrace an approach to the representation of nature that was both au courant and politically relevant.

28To some degree, Walter Scott’s utilization of discourse was ambivalent. He conveyed regret about Scotland’s quickly changing rural landscape in Canto V of The Lord of the Isles, when musing about the Castle of Turnberry, the childhood home of Robert the Bruce in Ayrshire. Here the poet set past against present, “then” versus “now”:

  • 44 Walter Scott, The Poetical Works of Walter Scott, London, George Routledge and Sons, n.d., p. 634.

(Seek not the scene—the axe, the plough,
The boor’s dull fence have marred it now,)
But then, soft swept in velvet green
The plain with many a glade between,
Whose tangled alleys far invade
The depth of the brown forest shade.44

Scott’s admonition to reader, to “Seek not the scene—” strikes of disappointment with the modern landscape, a frequent problem for picturesque adepts, who usually eliminated from their sketchbooks any object that caused obstruction or impairment to an otherwise picturesque view: “the axe, the plough, / The boor’s dull fence”. The hybridity with which Scott conceived of landscape, that is, structurally picturesque but emotionally Romantic, likely offered Daniell a way forward, allowing the artist to structure his compositions in a way that continued to feel “familiar” but convey experience of the landscape with greater immediacy.

  • 45 Daniell, vol. III, p. 10.
  • 46 Ibid.
  • 47 Ibid., pp. 10–11.

29For his part, William Daniell was less troubled than Scott by evidence of modernity in Ayrshire. He used it to claim the importance of the Scottish coastline for the purposes of the British Empire. Daniell pointed to Ardrossan’s potential for development as a major port, with a harbor “protected from the greatest exposure, that to the south-west, by an extensive ridge of rocks; […] It has an ample entrance for shipping as large as West Indiamen”. He noted too that there was “sufficient space for ship-building yards, and every necessary accommodation for a large port”.45 To demonstrate as much, Daniell’s “prospect of the Firth”, Pier at Ardrossan, Ayrshire of 1817 (Figure 5), reveals a placid harbor that easily accommodates an impressive trading ship. A pair of laborers work on shore, beneath the ship’s reflection. While Daniell found Ardrossan to be little better than “an obscure village”, its “advantages of inland and maritime navigation” would nevertheless enable it to be the object of “modern improvement”.46 To the artist’s eyes, new stone buildings in Ardrossan looked “substantial and imposing”; they recalled classical architecture, “presenting, in its fresh and nascent state, the image of a colony founded by the ancients”.47 But these impressive edifices did not make it into Pier at Ardrossan, Ayrshire, which Daniell based on an earlier aquatint, Watering Place at Anjere-Point (Figure 6), that he and his uncle had published seven years earlier, in A picturesque voyage to India by the way of China. Watering Place at Anjere-Point depicts colonial traffic along the northern coast of Java in the Sunda Strait, where an East (rather than a West) Indiaman occupies the center. Laborers and smaller vessels assume key spots in the composition that Daniell would transform into jagged, rocky outcroppings along the shoreline of Ardrossan.

Figure 5. – William Daniell, Pier at Ardrossan, Ayrshire, 1817.

Figure 5. – William Daniell, Pier at Ardrossan, Ayrshire, 1817.

Courtesy of the Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

Figure 6. – Thomas Daniell and William Daniell, Watering Place at Anjere-Point, 1810.

Figure 6. – Thomas Daniell and William Daniell, Watering Place at Anjere-Point, 1810.

Courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

  • 48 Ayton & Daniell, vol. II, p. 169.

30Daniell required readers to think about Ardrossan’s potential as an imperial port even as he likened it to an ancient colonial outpost. But simultaneously modernizing and classicizing Ayrshire in this way required that Daniell move beyond thinking of Scotland of a foreign place, something that his writing partner, Richard Ayton, could not do. Upon arriving in Scotland, Ayton had been impressed, finding “the great expanse of the Solway Firth” a “beautiful and animating prospect”, but he failed to think of Scotland in any but partisan terms. “Had I been a Scotchman I should certainly have felt my heart leap within me at such an exhibition of my country”, wrote Ayton. “[W]ith no such right of exultation, I was not a little delighted with its beauty and the splendor of its effect.” 48

  • 49 Daniell, vol. VIII, p. 64.

31With Ayton’s departure from the project, however, Daniell was free to write a new role for himself, and the one he chose was characteristically Romantic: the solitary wanderer. In the concluding paragraph of the final volume, he referred to A voyage round Great Britain as “the periplus of a solitary individual”,49 qualifying his project, finally, in terms of his Romantic self, whose attention, like the Romantic poets, was increasingly devoted to detailed representation of the “highly favoured Island”.

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Notes

1 Richard Ayton and William Daniell, A voyage round Great Britain, undertaken in the summer of the year 1813, and commencing from the Land’s End, Cornwall. With a series of views illustrative of the character and prominent features of the coast, drawn and engraved by William Daniell, A.R.A., London, Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, and William Daniell, 8 vols, 1814–1825.

2 Thomas and William Daniell, A picturesque voyage to India by the way of China, London, Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme; and William Daniell, 1810.

3 See especially Louis Hawes, Presences of Nature: British Landscape 1780–1830, New Haven, Yale Center for British Art, 1982; Barbara Maria Stafford, Voyage into Substance: Art, Science, Nature, and the Illustrated Travel Account, 1760–1840, Cambridge, MA and London, MIT Press, 1984; and Charlotte Klonk, Science and the Perception of Nature: British Landscape Art in the Late Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1996.

4 John Soane’s Bank of England designs date from the 1790s through the late 1820s. The National Gallery was established in 1824.

5 William Vincent, a contemporary of William Daniell, published a new translation and notes on the The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea from 1800 to 1809.

6 The Daniells, A picturesque voyage, n.p.

7 Ibid.

8 Ayton & Daniell, A voyage round Great Britain, vol. II, p. 219.

9 Ibid.

10 William Gilpin, Observations on the River Wye, and several parts of South Wales, & c. relative chiefly to Picturesque Beauty; made in the summer of 1770, third edition, London, R. Blamire, 1792, pp. 46–50.

11 William Gilpin, “River-Views, Bays, & Sea Coasts”, 1781. MSS 1978.39, Morgan Library and Museum, New York. Thank you to Cara Shatzman and Emily Leonardo of the Department of Drawings and Prints at the Morgan Library, for making a typescript of Gilpin’s manuscript available to me.

12 Gilpin, “River-Views, Bays, & Sea Coasts”.

13 Ayton & Daniell, A voyage round Great Britain, vol. II, p. 41.

14 Ibid.

15 Ibid.

16 Daniell, vol. VI, p. 18.

17 William Wordsworth, “London, 1802”, in Poems, in Two Volumes, London, Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, 1807, vol. I, p. 140.

18 S. T. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria; or Biographical Sketches, of My Literary Life and Opinions, 2 vols, London, Rest Fenner, 1817, vol. I, pp. xiv, 2–3.

19 See “Proposal for publishing A Picturesque voyage round Great Britain, illustrated with coloured engravings…”, reproduced in Iain Bain, William Daniell: A Voyage Round Great Britain 1814–1825; an Exhibition of New Impressions Taken Directly from Daniell’s Original Copper Plates Now in the Possession of the Tate Gallery, London, British Council and Tate Gallery, 1979.

20 Ayton & Daniell, vol. I, p. iv.

21 Ayton & Daniell, vol. I, p. iii.

22 Ibid.

23 Further, William Daniell may have thought twice about characterizing the project as “picturesque” due to marketing considerations. The publisher Longmans had expressed regret to Thomas and William Daniell about the slow sales of A picturesque voyage to India by the way of China. See Iain Bain, William Daniell’s A Voyage Round Great Britain, London, Bodley Head, 1966, p. 14.

24 Unsigned review, The Scots Magazine, and Edinburgh Literary Miscellany, vol. 77, 1815, p. 49.

25 Unsigned review, The British Review and London Critical Journal, vol. 6, 1815, p. 98.

26 Ibid.

27 Unsigned review, The Quarterly Review, vol. 13, July 1815, p. 288.

28 Ibid., p. 308.

29 Ann M. Guest, “Imagery of Color and Light in Scott’s Narrative Poems”, Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900, vol. 12, no. 2, Autumn 1972, p. 716.

30 Ibid., p. 719.

31 Daniell, vol. III, p. iii.

32 The Quarterly Review, vol. 13, p. 300.

33 The British Review and London Critical Journal, vol. 6, p. 101.

34 Alexander M. Ross, The Impact of the Picturesque on Nineteenth-Century British Fiction, Waterloo, Ontario, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1986, p. 69.

35 Walter Scott, The Voyage of the Pharos: Walter Scott’s Cruise Around Scotland in 1814, Glasgow, The Chartered Institute of Library and Information, 1998, p. 8.

36 Ibid., p. 43.

37 Ibid., p. 73.

38 Ibid., p. 58.

39 Ibid., p. 84.

40 Ibid., p. 101.

41 Ibid.

42 Unsigned review in The Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Chronicle, vol. 85, January-June 1815, p. 148.

43 William Deresiewicz, Jane Austen and the Romantic Poets, New York, Columbia University Press, 2004, p. 151.

44 Walter Scott, The Poetical Works of Walter Scott, London, George Routledge and Sons, n.d., p. 634.

45 Daniell, vol. III, p. 10.

46 Ibid.

47 Ibid., pp. 10–11.

48 Ayton & Daniell, vol. II, p. 169.

49 Daniell, vol. VIII, p. 64.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1. – Thomas Daniell and William Daniell, Hotun, on the Canton River, 1810.
Crédits Courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
URL http://etudesecossaises.revues.org/docannexe/image/1347/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,7M
Titre Figure 2. – William Daniell, Cardness Castle, near Gatehouse, Kirkcudbrightshire, 1816.
Crédits Courtesy of the Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.
URL http://etudesecossaises.revues.org/docannexe/image/1347/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 364k
Titre Figure 3. – William Daniell, Penman-maur, taken from near Aber, N. Wales, 1815.
Crédits Courtesy of the Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.
URL http://etudesecossaises.revues.org/docannexe/image/1347/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 380k
Titre Figure 4. – William Daniell, Dundee, Forfarshire, 1822.
Crédits Courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
URL http://etudesecossaises.revues.org/docannexe/image/1347/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 864k
Titre Figure 5. – William Daniell, Pier at Ardrossan, Ayrshire, 1817.
Crédits Courtesy of the Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.
URL http://etudesecossaises.revues.org/docannexe/image/1347/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 368k
Titre Figure 6. – Thomas Daniell and William Daniell, Watering Place at Anjere-Point, 1810.
Crédits Courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
URL http://etudesecossaises.revues.org/docannexe/image/1347/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 618k
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Elizabeth Mjelde, « William Daniell’s “Periplus”: Littoral Travel and Aesthetic Representation in Scotland and Asia », Études écossaises [En ligne], 19 | 2017, mis en ligne le 01 avril 2017, consulté le 21 août 2017. URL : http://etudesecossaises.revues.org/1347

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Auteur

Elizabeth Mjelde

De Anza College.
Elizabeth Mjelde is currently Art History Program Co-Chair at De Anza College, California. She has published “Colonial Violence and the Picturesque”, in Violence, Colonialism and Empire in the Modern World, edited by Philip Dwyer, Lyndall Ryan, and Amanda Nettelbeck, “The Imperial Wye”, in Romanticism, vol. 19, no. 2 (July 2013), and “Love’s Labor Found”, in Eugene Rodriguez: The Middle of Somewhere.

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