And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

21 June

1693
John Evelyn,
writer

‘I saw a great auction of pictures in the Banqueting house, Whitehall. They had been my Lord Melford’s, now Ambassador from King James at Rome, and engaged to his creditors here. Lord Mulgrave and Sir Edward Seymour came to my house, and desired me to go with them to the sale. Divers more of the great lords, etc., were there, and bought pictures dear enough. There were some very excellent of Vandyke, Rubens, and Bassan. Lord Godolphin bought the picture of the Boys, by Murillo the Spaniard, for 80 guineas, dear enough; my nephew Glanville, the old Earl of Arundel’s head by Rubens, for £20. Growing late, I did not stay till all were sold.’

A most excellent person

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1760
Richard Pococke,
priest and traveller

‘We went three miles to Milcraig (mr Cuthbert’s), a fine situation at the foot of the hill, commanding a view of the river and the country below. Near it is a deep glyn in which there runs a mountain torrent. The banks of it are green and most beautifully adorned with woods. We saw three or four kerns as belonging anciently to the heads of several villages, for their burial places, but on seeing the Picts’ houses since, I doubt whether they might not be the habitations of those people. In three miles from Milcraig, going very disagreeable heathy mountains, we came to a rivulet, and continued on about two miles, passed another mountain torrent, and came into the fine country which is on the Frith of Dornock. I saw a small Druid temple with two or three stones in the middle near the rivulet, and a little further some remains of another. Here I observed grey granite in large spots of white and darker colour.

We came to Ardmore, Mr Bailey’s, near the river, where we stayed two hours, the family being at Rosehall. In these parts they find beds of shells at a little distance from the sea, but not petrified, and they are used for manure. We went westward and soon came to a large kern, the entrance to which about half-way up is visible with a large stone over it. If the entrances are not on a level with the ground I look on it as a mark that they were burial-places; if they are great ruins, that they were castles; and if covered over with green sod, that they were Picts’ houses. . .

They have no miles here different from the English in measure, but the acre is five perches more than than the English. (I think the Highland miles are not above the proportion of 2 to 3 as in England.)’

The Highland manners

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1861
John Addington Symonds,
writer

‘We set off this morning at seven for the Flégère. Papa and I rode mules - stupid beasts, that stopped at every bush and rivulet to eat and drink. Balmat was charming through the day. He is a perfect gentleman in manners and feeling, nor is there the least affectation or parvenuism about him. When I compare him with [some] specimens of English travellers, I blush for my countrymen. Here is a guide of Chamonix, the son of a guide (who would not allow him to go to school or to learn the geology for which he has always had a passion, for fear he might leave Chamonix), whose manners are better, sentiments more delicate, knowledge more extensive, views more enlightened, than most of these soi-disant gentlemen and educated men. It is a great pity that his father would not allow him to study when young, for he might have become one of the first geologists of Europe, such fine opportunities for discovery do these mountains afford, and such an advantage his skill and intrepidity have given him. Though a mountaineer, he never brags, and is always considerate for weaker brethren like papa and me. I like very much to see him walking before our mules with his green spectacles, and old brown wideawake upon his grizzled hair, nodding kindly to the old men and women, joking with the guides, and smiling at the little children. He is patriarch of the valley, and nothing can be done without the advice of M. Balmat. After an ascent of two hours we arrived at at La Flégère, and saw before us the whole Mont Blanc range. For the first time we appreciated the height of the king himself. Now he towered above all the peaks. The names of most of the aiguilles and glaciers I knew. Balmat told us the rest in order. The Aiguille de Charmoz is still my favourite, guarding the entrance to the Mer de Glace. Here papa read ‘Come down, maid,’ from the Princess. It was appropriate, for never were mountains better described than in that idyll.’

A splendid liquid sky

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1883
James Hannington,
priest

‘Went to town with Sam. Visited Kew; poor reception. Went to British Museum; warm reception. Slept at C.M. College. Gave address to the students.’

The bishop in Buganda

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1953
Hermann Buhl,
mountaineer

‘Camp 4

High winds during the night. Entrance under a meter of windblown snow, tent no longer visible at all. Set off at 8:30 with a 100 m rope up the Rakhiot ice wall. Stretched it out with other bits of gear at the bottom, but still 30 m short of the bergschrund. Traverse behind the Rakhiot Shoulder prepared: smooth ice . . . Cut many steps, weather good but windy.

Then a diagonal traverse up brittle snow to Rakhiot Peak. Strong wind and cold. Climbed the last needle, IV, without gloves; just like being at home. First seven thousander, 7070 m. Otto stayed down below.

Over the summit, down the other side without rope. Wonderful view to Silbersattel and Nanga, particularly the South Face above the fog.

Climbed down to Moor’s Head, left snow shovel behind. Mist whipping up the ridge. Traverse back to Rakhiot Face. Send Otto back to cook something while I cut a ladder of steps down the Face. Three porters, Hermann and Kuno are at the Camp. I arrive at 7 o’clock but no food is ready yet. There are two tents in the hollow.

Tomorrow we are supposed to go to Camp 5. I’m already looking forward to it.’

Scenery fantastic - like home

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