Fragments of a Journal through Spain and Portugal in 1810

Mangin, Samuel Henry

Publication Date: 1812
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A journal kept by an officer in the British campaigns during the Peninsular War against Napoleon from 1808 to 1812. 8vo. 19 by 11.5 cm. Title, page with pencil drawing, 80 paginated pages of his memoir, written in a fine, legible hand. One other drawing, a vignette of a pelican, on final page. Although this is a memoir from wartime, and Mangin did participate in some major campaigns, he gives scant attention to the military activities of the British. Rather, he is much more concerned with the people he encountered, and especially the native Spaniards, and his own extra-curricular activities. He so much as states this in a preface, in which he bemoans the loss of his original diary papers and artwork in the tumult of war. Early on he introduces us to the "Countess of Albaine". He undoubtedly was referring to the august Duchess of Alba, who had in fact a seat in La Coruna, where the regiment was at the time stationed. Following a flirtation with the older woman at the opera house one night, he is soon after persuaded to move into her palace. From there he and his regiment are sent off to Lisbon where Mangin has unflattering things to say about the French General Junot, who ordered all stray dogs found to be destroyed. Of Lisbon, he has only positive things to say, in contrast to the reputation of the city at the time. Although Mangin is often unrestrained in his anti-French prejudice, as one would expect of a good Englishman during the Napoleonic Wars, he does conjure up sympathy for French prisoners-of-war held by the Spanish in a prison ship off Cadiz. Besides the terrible condition on the prison ship, the Spaniards would merely throw the meagre provisions they served onto the ship without themselves boarding, and when a prisoner died, they tosse the body overboard to feed the sea gulls. Other places visited include Saccaran, Camerata, Alcobasca, Oporto, Abrantes and Merida. Throughout Mangin shares interesting observations about the people and the places he sees. He writes well, and is clearly a man of taste and refinement, which makes this concise account a pleasure to read. Some of his descriptions such as of the Spanish Siesta, might not be new information to us, but we should remember that he is writing at a time of far less travel and cultural exchange, and so it behooves us to try to experience the discovery through his eyes. No information beyond this memoir was found about Mangin. He purchased his commission in the 27th Regiment, as he states, because of a desire to see the world more than a sense of patriotic fervor. He is not to be confused with a man with the same name who died in 1798. Mangin is a name that suggests Huguenot descent. It is our belief that the first pencil illustration of a man and a woman sitting on a love seat contains a self-portrait, but this is pure conjecture. Later heavily worn black morocco. With Mercantile Library (of Philadelphia) blindstamped on rear cover, a number of small blindstamps in text but never affecting text and entirely inconspicuous, and two ink stamps, now faint, on a prelim bland and p. 80. Dampstain on upper edges of prelims, affecting leaf with first drawing. Bookseller Inventory #

Bibliographic Details

Title: Fragments of a Journal through Spain and ...
Publication Date: 1812
Book Condition: Good

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