S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
A gentleman who is apt to expatiate upon any hint, took this occasion to deliver his opinion upon our ordinary method of sending young men to travel for their education. It is certain, said he, if gentlemen travel at an age proper for them, during the course of their voyages their accounts to their friends, and after their return their discourses and conversations, will have in them something above what we can meet with from those who have not had those advantages. At the same time it is to be observed that every temper and genius is not qualified for this way of improvement. Men may change their climate, but they cannot change their nature. A man that goes out a fool cannot ride or sail himself into common sense. Therefore, let me but walk over London bridge with a young man, and I will tell you infallibly whether going over the Rialto at Venice will make him wiser.
I know divers noble personages, and many worthy gentlemen of England, whom all the syren songs of Italy could never untwine from the mast of Gods word; nor no inchantment of vanity overturn them from the fear of God and love of honesty.
But I know as many, or mo, and some, sometime my dear friends, (for whose sake I hate going into that country the more,) who, parting out of England fervent in the love of Christs doctrine, and well furnished with the fear of God, returned out of Italy worse transformed than ever was any in Circes court. I know divers, that went out of England men of innocent life, men of excellent learning, who returned out of Italy, not only with worse manners, but also with less learning; neither so willing to live orderly, nor yet so hable to speak learnedly, as they were at home, before they went abroad.
The things to be seen and observed [in travel] are the courts of princes, especially when they give audience to ambassadors; the courts of justice, while they sit and hear causes; and so of consistories ecclesiastic: the churches and monasteries, with the monuments which are therein extant; the walls and fortifications of cities and towns; and so the havens and harbours, antiquities and ruins, libraries, colleges, disputations, and lectures, where any are; shipping and navies; houses and gardens, of state and pleasure, near great cities; armories, arsenals, magazines, exchanges, burses, warehouses, exercises of horsemanship, fencing, training of soldiers, and the like; comedies, such whereunto the better sort of persons do resort; treasuries of jewels and robes; cabinets and rarities; and to conclude, whatsoever is memorable in the places where they go.
As for the acquaintance which is to be sought in travel, that which is most of all profitable is acquaintance with the secretaries and employed men of ambassadors: for so in travelling in one country he shall suck the experience of many: let him also see and visit eminent persons of all kinds which are of great name abroad, that he may be able to tell how the life agreeth with the fame . When a traveller returneth home, let him not leave the countries where he hath travelled altogether behind him; but maintain a correspondence with letters with those of his acquaintance which are of most worth; and let his travel appear rather in his discourse than in his apparel or gesture; and in his discourse let him be rather advised in his answers, than forward to tell stories: and let it appear that he doth not change his country manners for those of foreign parts; but only prick in some flowers of that he hath learned abroad into the customs of his own country.
If men have been termed pilgrims, and life a journey, then we may add that the Christian pilgrimage far surpasses all others in the following important particulars: in the goodness of the roadin the beauty of the prospectsin the excellence of the companyand in the vast superiority of the Accommodation provided for the Christian traveller when he has finished his course.
There is probably no country so barbarous, that would not disclose all it knew, if it received equivalent information; and I am apt to think that a person who was ready to give more knowledge than he received would be welcome wherever he came. All his care in travelling should only be, to suit his intellectual banquet to the people with whom he conversed: he should not attempt to teach the unlettered Tartar astronomy, nor yet instruct the polite Chinese in the arts of subsistence: he should endeavour to improve the barbarian in the secrets of living comfortably, and the inhabitant of a more refined country in the speculative pleasures of science.
Oliver Goldsmith: Essays, No. XVIII., and in Citizen of the World, Letter CVIII.
Certainly the true end of visiting foreign parts is to look into their customs and policies, and observe in what particulars they excel or come short of our own; to unlearn some odd peculiarities in our manners, and wear off such awkward stiffness and affectations in our behaviour, as may possibly have been contracted from constantly associating with one nation of men, by a more free, general, and mixed conversation. But how can any of these advantages be attained by one who is a mere stranger to the customs and policies of his native country, and has not yet fixed in his mind the first principles of manners and behaviour? To endeavour it, is to build a gaudy structure without any foundation; or, if I may be allowed the expression, to work a rich embroidery upon a cobweb.
Another end of travelling, which deserves to be considered, is the improving our taste of the best authors of antiquity, by seeing the places where they lived, and of which they wrote; to compare the natural face of the country with the descriptions they have given us, and observe how well the picture agrees with the original.
Then for hypochondria and satiety what is better than a brisk alterative course of [reading] travelsespecially early, out of the way, marvellous legendary travels! How they freshen up the spirits! How they take you out of the humdrum yawning state you are in! See, with Herodotus, young Greece spring up into life; or note with him how already the wondrous old Orient world is crumbling into giant decay; or go with Carpini and Rubruquis to Tartary, meet the cars of Zagathia laden with houses, and think that a great city is travelling toward you. Gaze on that vast wild empire of the Tartar, where the descendants of Jenghis multiply and disperse over the immense waste desert which is as boundless as the ocean. Sail with the early northern discoverers, and penetrate to the heart of winter, among sea-serpents and bears, and tusked morses, with the faces of men. Then, what think you of Columbus, and the stern soul of Cortes, and the kingdom of Mexico, and the strange gold city of the Peruvians, with that audacious brute Pizarro? and the Polynesians, just for all the world like the ancient Britons? and the American Indians, and the South Sea Islanders? how petulant, and young, and adventurous, and frisky your hypochondriac must get upon a regimen like that!
The effect of historical reading is analogous, in many respects, to that produced by foreign travel. The student, like the tourist, is transported into a new state of society. He sees new fashions. He hears new modes of expression. His mind is enlarged by contemplating the wide diversities of laws, of morals, and of manners. But men may travel far, and return with minds as contracted as if they had never stirred from their own market-town. In the same manner, men may know the dates of many battles, and the genealogies of many royal houses, and yet be no wiser. Most people look at past times as princes look at foreign countries. More than one illustrious stranger has landed on our island amidst the shouts of a mob, has dined with the king, has hunted with the master of the stag-hounds, has seen the guard reviewed, and a knight of the garter installed, has cantered along Regent Street, has visited St. Pauls and noted down its dimensions, and has then departed, thinking that he has seen England. He has, in fact, seen a few public buildings, public men, and public ceremonies. But of the vast and complex system of society, of the fine shades of national character, of the practical operation of government and laws, he knows nothing. He who would understand these things rightly must not confine his observations to palaces and solemn days. He must see ordinary men as they appear in their ordinary business and in their ordinary pleasures. He must mingle in the crowds of the exchange and the coffee-house. He must obtain admittance to the convivial table and the domestic hearth. He must bear with vulgar expressions. He must not shrink from exploring even the retreats of misery. He who wishes to understand the condition of mankind in former ages must proceed on the same principle. If he attends only to public transactions, to wars, congresses, and debates, his studies will be as unprofitable as the travels of those imperial, royal, and serene sovereigns who form their judgment of our island from having gone in state to a few fine sights, and from having held formal conferences with a few great officers.
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay: History, May, 1828.
Conversation with men is of very great use, and travel into foreign countries of singular advantage: not to bring back (as most of our young Monsieurs do) an account only of how many paces Santa Rotonda is in circuit; or of the richness of Signiora Livias attire; or, as some others, how much Neros face in a statue in such an old ruine is longer and broader than that made for him at such another place: but to be able chiefly to give an account of the humours, manners, customs, and laws of those nations where he has been, and that we may whet and sharpen our wits by rubbing them upon those of others. I would that a boy should be sent abroad very young (and principally to kill two birds with one stone) into those neighbring nations whose language is most differing from our own, and to which, if it be not formd betimes, the tongue will be grown too stiff to bend.
Michel de Montaigne: Essays, Cottons 3d ed., ch. xxv.
It often happens that a man seeks, and obtains, much intercourse with the people of the country in which he travels, but falls in with only one particular set, whom he takes for representatives of the whole nation. Accordingly, to Bacons admonition about procuring letters of introduction we should add a caution as to the point of from whom? or else the traveller may be consigned, as it were, to persons of some particular party, who will forward him to others of their own party in the next city, and so on through the chief part of Europe. And two persons who may have been thus treated by those of opposite parties may perhaps return from corresponding tours with as opposite impressions of the people of the countries they have visited as the knights in the fable, of whom one had seen only the silver side of the shield, and the other only the golden.
Both will perhaps record quite faithfully all they have seen and heard; and one will have reported a certain nation as full of misery and complaint, and ripe for revolt, when the other has found them prosperous, sanguine, and enthusiastically loyal.
Richard Whately: Annot. on Bacons Essay, Of Travel.