Juliana Hervey here sets out to explain her motives for writing and then publishing her travelogue. Writing it, she explains, was for companionship, and to escape introspection after a difficult patch in her life. Sending it out into the world might inform and educate others. Implicit in this is her feeling that those who come out to India live a restricted life, and have little contact with the wider sub-continent, its wild and inspiring nature. But she suggests, too, that her account might help the imperial project, and this provides a taster for the unquestioning imperialism in her outlook. Hervey also indicates, and defends herself against, the view that women are apt to act from caprice, vanity and so on.

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Decorated initial H

UMAN motives are human mysteries. Catechise oneself as one may, the reasons for an act are for the most part such a mingled yarn as to defy definition and explanation. Why I penned this journal as I travelled, requires a complex reply. I was alone during the greater part of my travels, and writing was companionship; I was impressed with what I saw, and I hoped to be able to recall the impressions in after days; I had oppressions and depressions within, the weight of which was in part escaped by describing things out of myself.

Still more complicated are the reasons for printing what it was pleasure to write, and what, at the time it was written, was never intended to be printed. It would serve no useful purpose to unravel them. Some were, I doubt not, sufficiently feeble; feminine caprice may have to do with others; and altogether they are probably more satisfactory to my mind than they could be made to appear to others, unless those others be travellers in the romantic and inspiriting and inspiring regions of the Northern Himalaya, and the snowy Thibetan heights, and have been the first to plant their civilized foot upon the barbarian soil, as I did. Call the feeling what you may, it is a strongly impelling one, which is roused during travel in such portions of earth; and few of those even who rejoice in more cool philosophy than is attributed to my sex, can resist the desire to impart to others a faint echo — for that is all that can be effected — of the voice of mighty Nature, as it is uttered from the rugged sides of the great Asiatic range. And this desire grew stronger the longer I found myself again in the every-day monotony of well-arranged and well-behaved society. What a train of pleasurable sensations its denizens altogether ignore in their placid existence! And is it not a good office to tell them of scenes which stir the mind up to the altitude of its admiration, such admiration as Nature alone in uncultivated grandeur can inspire? If I shall impart to a few, even, the shadow of my own impressions during these marches, I shall have done what I hold to be good service.

Cawnpore (Kanpur), engraved by C. Mottram from a drawing by Samuel Prout based on a sketch by Captain R. N. Elliot, R.N. (1834). Juliana Hervey set out from here — a peaceful and well-ordered cantonment before the uprisings and atrocities on both sides there in 1857.

But my jottings down may prove of practical as well as sensational utility; and the fixture traveller will find his way somewhat smoother for my humble itinerary. The distances, the nature of the roads and of the conveyances, may spare the patience of many an impatient traveller, the limbs of many a weary one, the purse of many an economical one.

A knowledge, too, of Kashmir and the lands adjacent, is not without political use in the times which must come with the death of the present ruler, whom British arms placed over it. That we shall be called in to cure the fevered anarchical state which is sure to follow that event, is certain; and the more that is known of the regions we are to possess, the more firmly we shall be enabled to hold them. Towards the acquirement of such knowledge, these volumes may aid.

Islamabad, Early Morning. Edward Clifford's painting of Islamabad (or Anantnag) in Indian Kashmir, in 1888.

Upon the whole, I can conscientiously say that the weakness which is laid at the door of women's motives, vain-glory, has as little to do with the publication of these marches as it is possible for poor human nature to divest itself of. Besides, in all sincerity, I have not that reliance upon my own power of telling my tale that can render it certain to myself, — very much the other way, — that vanity would be gratified either by the number of editions, or by the criticisms of them. The world will take it for what it is worth, and no more. I shall not tear my hair if my daily notes live but a day.

One thing I must lay stress upon. Every one of the things and places described, I saw with my own eyes; every observation is my own. Before visiting the lands of these travels, I had read no work concerning them, save that of Baron Hügel [a translation of the Austrian Charles von Húgel's Travels in Kashmir and the Panjab was published in 1845], and that five years before my first year’s expedition; whilst in my second year I had only Moorcroft’s work [William Moorcroft's Travels in the Himalayan Provinces of Hindustan and the Panjab, in Ladakh and Kashmir (etc) was published in 1841] in my possession, which, however, does not include all the ground over which I travelled. So that for these pages, and all their imperfections, I alone am responsible. [iii-vi]

Prefatory verses

Oh ! nature's noblest gift — my grey goose-quill!
Slave of my thoughts, obedient to my will,
Tom from thy parent bird to form a pen,
That mighty instrument of little men!
The pen ! foredoom'd to aid the mental throes,
Of brains that labour, big with verse or prose.

What wits! what poets dost thou daily raise!
How frequent is thy use, how small thy praise!
Condemned at length to be forgotten quite,
With all the pages which 't was thine to write.
But thou at least, mine own especial pen!
Now laid aside, to be resumed again.
My task complete, like Hamlet's, shall be free;
Though spurn'd by others, yet beloved by me!" [unnumbered page]

Links to related material


Hervey, Mrs. The Adventures of a Lady in Tartary, Thibet, China, & Kashmir, Vol. I. London: Hope & Co., 1853. Internet Archive. Copied from PAHAR: Mountains of Central Asia Digital Dataset. Web. 7 August 2022.

Created 7 August 2022