This essay was written in 1908-1910 while I was studying at Oxford as
Fellow of the Society of American Women in London. Material on the
subject of travel in any century is apparently inexhaustible, and one
could write many books on the subject without duplicating sources. The
following aims no further than to describe one phase of Renaissance
travel in clear and sharp outline, with sufficient illustration to
embellish but not to clog the main ideas.
In the preparation of this book I incurred many debts of gratitude. I
would thank the staff of the Bodleian, especially Mr W.H.B. Somerset,
for their kindness during the two years I was working in the library of
Oxford University; and Dr Perlbach, Abteilungsdirektor of the Koenigliche
Bibliothek at Berlin, who forwarded to me some helpful information
concerning the early German books of instructions for travellers; and
Professor Clark S. Northup, of Cornell University, for similar aid. To
Mr George Whale I am indebted for the use of his transcript of Sloane
MS. 1813, and to my friend Miss M.E. Marshall, of the Board of Trade,
for the generous gift of her leisure hours in reading for me in the
British Museum after the sea had divided me from that treasure-house of
I would like to acknowledge with thanks the kind advice of Sir Walter
Raleigh and Sir Sidney Lee, whose generosity in giving time and
scholarship many students besides myself are in a position to
appreciate. Mr L. Pearsall Smith, from whose work on the _Life and
Letters of Sir Henry Wotton I have drawn copiously, gave me also
courteous personal assistance.
To the Faculty of the English Department at Columbia University I owe
the gratitude of one who has received her earliest inclination to
scholarship from their teachings. I am under heavy obligations to
Professor A.H. Thorndike and Professor G.P. Krapp for their corrections
and suggestions in the proof-sheets of this book, and to Professor W.P.
Trent for continued help and encouragement throughout my studies at
Columbia and elsewhere.
Above all, I wish to emphasize the aid of Professor C.H. Firth, of
Oxford University, whose sympathy and comprehension of the difficulties
of a beginner in the field he so nobly commands can be understood only
by those, like myself, who come to Oxford aspiring and alone. I wish
this essay were a more worthy result of his influence.
BARNARD COLLEGE, NEW YORK
* * * * *
Among the many didactic books which flooded England in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries were certain essays on travel. Some of these have
never been brought to light since their publication more than three
hundred years ago, or been mentioned by the few writers who have
interested themselves in the literature of this subject. In the
collections of voyages and explorations, so often garnered, these have
found no place. Most of them are very rare, and have never been
reprinted. Yet they do not deserve to be thus overlooked, and in several
ways this survey of them will, I think, be useful for students of
They reveal a widespread custom among Elizabethan and Jacobean
gentlemen, of completing their education by travel. There are scattered
allusions to this practice, in contemporary social documents: Anthony a
Wood frequently explains how such an Oxonian "travelled beyond seas and
returned a compleat Person," - but nowhere is this ideal of a
cosmopolitan education so explicitly set forth as it is in these essays.
Addressed to the intending tourist, they are in no sense to be confused
with guide-books or itineraries. They are discussions of the benefits of
travel, admonitions and warnings, arranged to put the traveller in the
proper attitude of mind towards his great task of self-development.
Taken in chronological order they outline for us the life of the
Beginning with the end of the sixteenth century when travel became the
fashion, as the only means of acquiring modern languages and modern
history, as well as those physical accomplishments and social graces by
which a young man won his way at Court, they trace his evolution up to
the time when it had no longer any serious motive; that is, when the
chairs of modern history and modern languages were founded at the
English universities, and when, with the fall of the Stuarts, the Court
ceased to be the arbiter of men's fortunes. In the course of this
evolution they show us many phases of continental influence in England;
how Italian immorality infected young imaginations, how the Jesuits won
travellers to their religion, how France became the model of deportment,
what were the origins of the Grand Tour, and so forth.
That these directions for travel were not isolated oddities of
literature, but were the expression of a widespread ideal of the English
gentry, I have tried to show in the following study. The essays can
hardly be appreciated without support from biography and history, and
for that reason I have introduced some concrete illustrations of the
sort of traveller to whom the books were addressed. If I have not always
quoted the "Instructions" fully, it is because they repeat one another
on some points. My plan has been to comment on whatever in each book was
new, or showed the evolution of travel for study's sake.
The result, I hope, will serve to show something of the cosmopolitanism
of English society in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; of the
closer contact which held between England and the Continent, while
England was not yet great and self-sufficient; of times when her
soldiers of low and high degree went to seek their fortunes in the Low
Countries, and her merchants journeyed in person to conduct business
with Italy; when a steady stream of Roman Catholics and exiles for
political reasons trooped to France or Flanders for years together.
These discussions of the art of travel are relics of an age when
Englishmen, next to the Germans, were known for the greatest travellers
among all nations.