Duchess Georgiana’s poem, 'The Passage of the Mountain of St Gothard', was written when travelling back to England from her exile in Europe in the early 1790s. It was inspired by her experience of crossing the Saint Gotthard Pass in the Alps with Lady Elizabeth Foster in August 1793.
Written at a time when the mountainous scenery of the Alps was regarded as alarming and exciting, but not something to be appreciated aesthetically, the Duchess’s poem makes it clear that she was one of the first to view the Alps as beautiful, as well as giving a graphic account of crossing the pass.
The poem was first published in an unauthorised edition in 1799, and subsequently appeared in several other editions, including in French and Italian translations. Samuel Taylor Coleridge admired the poem, writing one of his own in response: 'Ode to Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire'.
The image shown here is taken from a posthumous edition of c.1816. The poem was illustrated with lithographic prints of original drawings by Lady Elizabeth Foster.