Got my frozen little fingers on a facsimile edition of Coryats Crudities (1611 – this edition by Scolar Press, London, 1978), a travel narrative by Thomas Coryate of his journey from his home in Odcombe, England to Venice, and back again, mostly on foot – although he was carried in a chair part of the way over the Alps.
He “imbarqued at Dover, about tenne of the clocke in the morning, the fourteenth of May, being Saturday and Whitsun-eve, Anno 1608”.
Most importantly, he follows much the same route as the 17th century heroine in my next book, Act of Faith: along the Rhine, onto Verona and Venice, where he – like her, like all of us – gazes in wonder at San Marco and the Lagoon.
… the most glorious and heavenly shew upon the water that any mortal eye ever beheld, such a shew that did ravish me both with delight and admiration.
Like many of us, he is often lost for words in his wonder, and in those spaces one hears the gasps, sees the eyes widen, knows all too well the feeling that ends up coming out as a pathetic “oh wow, look!” or, in Thomas’s case:
I will descend to the description of this particular place, wherein if I seem too tedious, I crave the pardon of thee (gentle Reader) seeing the variety of the curious objects which it exhibiteth to the spectator is such, that a man shall much wrong it to speake a little of it.
Bless his boots.