Date Published: 1904
Edition: 1st Edition
Binding: Soft Cover
Travel diary of a trip on a ship from Cardiff, England to Naples, to Almeira (Andulsia, Spain), and then return to Newport, and finally home by train to Bristol. 26 June-23 July 1904. Bound in black cloth, all edges red. Written in mostly in ink. The author often makes pencil notes in the margin for a day’s entry, writes the entry in ink on that page, and then on the next page, re-writes the entry with a few changes or additions. viii, 174,  pp. 232 × 180 mm. Some pages loose at front and back and a few pages and other documents in a separate folder, otherwise very good condition. Encased in a black clamshell cloth box.
George M. Conway was 26 years of age when he took this trip. Included in the journal are copies of the ship’s log for several days, 3 hand-drawn maps, clippings, and a plan of a temple (Jerusalem area, and nothing to do this trip). Approximately 100 pages are original content relating to the voyage. There are also 60 pages transcribed by Conway from an encyclopedia and reviews that contain historical facts about Naples and Pompeii.
Excerpts: "Cardiff to Naples travel over sea, back to Almeria (South of Spain), thence to Newport in a trader. Not enjoying good health, I was approached on the subject of taking a voyage and was eventually offered on by Messr Morrel of Cardiff in their ship The Lyndhurst (Capt Pearce). And having found a friend (Mr WSC Stiling) who was willing to join me, we sailed from Cardiff on June 26, 1904, having signed on at the Board of Trade offices at Cardiff and joined the ship the previous day".
The Lyndhurst was a trader, and at first sight, Mr Conway was not too pleased: “We joined the ship which lay in Roath Basin just after 12 midnight & were immediately shown our bunks by the Captain. I didn't like the look of things very well, but resolved to make the best of it and retired sleeping lightly until 4 oc when I turned out, as did my friend....There were rumblings of engines, clattering of boots on deck as well as voices. Procdeeding thither about 4:30 we found everybody busy making ready to start and the Lyndhurst sailed out of Cardiff at 5 AM ( 1 hour before high water). The Captain invited us on the bridge & eventually gave us the run of the ship. The morning was fine & warm, everybody was in good spirits & Stiling & I began to make ourselves quite comfortable. At 8 am we had breakfast with the Captain and Chief Mate (ham & eggs & fried potato). We sailed steadily & with dignity down the channel....”
Captain Pearce loved talking in the evenings. Conway later found out that the Captain was notorious for his boring stories, and other captains avoided him when possible. On the second night at sea: “We adjourned to the captain's cabin about 9 o'clock pm. The captain made us tired with his dry yarns, and we were glad to get to our own cabins and go to sleep.”
Later in the journey: "The captain after he had had a drink would invariably begin to talk about his troubles at home, or sometimes we would listen to a very long dry yarn with as many side issues as there are days in the year in the middle of which I invariably went to sleep, while Stiling nearly always endured to the end. But on one or two occasions, he went to sleep also in which case the captain would wake us both up with a stern remonstrance telling us that if his story was not interesting, we had better go to our bunks and go to sleep.... Stiling would sometimes reply `Oh it's all right Captain, I was only closing my eyes, I'm listening’”....
Conway writes in detail about the workings of this trader ship the keeping of the log, how the captain charted the course, the duties of the various crew members, assignment of the watches etc. He also mentions the dangers at sea: "...then there is the lookout man at the bow, giving notice whenever he sees anything ahead. As I lay in my bunk at night I would constantly hear `light on the starboard bow or port bow Sir’ and when the mate on the bridge sees it, he answers `light on the starboard bow’ or as the case may be for there is nothing else to be seen. A peculiar sensation comes over one as he realises that he is going along on the sea in the darkness knowing not what is before the ship.”
“About 12 o’clock midnight we passed the Berleuga Islands or Rocks off the coast of Portugal. The captain told me that he expected to pass these Rocks in the night and characterised them as dangerous and that he would have to be up. Although I turned in I did not sleep much and felt somewhat anxious to know whether we had passed.”
Conway writes many pages about the sights in Naples and Pompeii. He gives a wonderful sense not only of the places he visited, but also of times and the Italian people, their customs and habits. “No sooner were we made fast than we were surrounded by small boats belonging to men anxious to come aboard and worry us with their wares, it was astonishing where they all came from in such a short time. The doctor having been aboard and pronounced "All Well", the quarantine flag was hauled down. No further permission than this was sought by the vendors above mentioned, but they climbed aboard like so many monkeys - some with picture postcards, others with fancy baskets, straw hats, and the like. Women with fruit - peaches, plums, pears, apricots, cherries etc. The Customs Officers were very kind to us, and we treated them well, they partook very freely of our whiskey....”
A few lines from the author's first impressions of Naples: “....I soon found that we must adopt the style of foreigners who had been in the place for years and knew every inch of it, otherwise we were doomed to be pestered by beggars of the worst kind, who would follow one until they were bribed to go away. A man would sometimes come up close to us and push the stump of an amputated limb in your face, so that there was no possible chance of evading him. Italians they would leave alone, but the poor foreigner is really worried until he feels life not worth living if he is not careful, in fact he has to keep his wits about him all the while if he wishes to get about the place with any degree of comfort....”
“...Police, armed with revolvers, & gendarmes and all kinds of military men, may be seen in any street in large numbers, all walking about snugly between the crowds, apparently to keep order. Priests and monks are also conspicuous by their numbers. Outside the restaurants, chairs and tables are placed across the whole extent of the pathway, where men sit and take refreshment, sometimes playing cards... women dry their clothes on the rail of the veranda belonging to their apartment and they make their purchase from the hawker in the street by means of a basket attached to a rope which they let down....”
"...Midway between Naples and Pompeii, we passed through the village of Torre-de-Greco, which is thickly populated. The people were lying and sitting about on chairs idoling away the time, here and there one or two would be working. Coming back in the cool of the evening we saw men and women and their half-clothed children squaling about in heaps on the pavements, sometimes with a lemon and bread stand before them. Not one of them seemed to have a care and all were laughing and chatting in the most light hearted manner.... Goats with beards were being led by women from house to house.
The inhabitants would come with their jugs on hearing the ring of a bell attached to the neck of one of the goats - the milk would be supplied direct from the beast....
Conway was thrilled by the beautiful sunsets in the Bay of Naples and mentions them often. He writes the following when departing from Naples:
“As I stood upon the bridge viewing Naples and the Bay with Mount Vesuvius on the east all lit up by a glorious sunshine, I felt sad at the thought of leaving it and heaved one or two heavy sighs. The three days I had spent there were, alas, only a memory - everything came back to me as I beheld the city for the last time. They were three of the happiest days I had ever spent and departing was terrible".
This collection is on consignment with LDRB.
Very Good. Item #7389