Despite the fact that others questioned her credibility in the two editions of A Voyage to Russia (1739 and 1746) and her semi-autobiography, Amelia (1751), particularly her use of biographical details, Elizabeth Justice increases “subjective” descriptions with each successive publication. These “subjective” details offer the credibility for her travel experiences by depicting the circumstances in which the author-narrator’s persona experiences phenomena. Her life’s circumstances depict a coherent persona and consequently reflect John Locke’s notion of personal identity, which defines a consciousness through its temporality. This temporally defined consciousness at once demonstrates how and why she describes phenomena in relation to her singular perspective and affirms her independence, indicating the authority and authenticity of her “objective” travel experiences.
Elizabeth Justice’s A Voyage to Russia and Amelia
Matthew W. Binney
Matthew W. Binney
Critics have argued that a shift toward the “inward” occurred later in eighteenthcentury travel writing in part because of earlier questions of credibility. However, John Campbell’s fictional The Travels and Adventures of Edward Brown (1739) focuses upon the “inward” by drawing upon a technique already used in novels—that is, depicting the narrator as a consciousness. Consciousness, or personal identity, derives from John Locke and appears in Campbell’s travel account to demonstrate how circumstances define the narrator’s travel experiences. These circumstances at once establish the credibility of the narrator’s descriptions and also promote Campbell’s Tory commercialism. For the first, the narrator’s consciousness offers a credible account by describing how people live in time and place; for the second, the narrator demonstrates how personal identity and political ideology were attached from the outset, promoting commerce and colonialism through the narrator’s depiction of a nation’s circumstances that produce unique customs and commodities.