Wednesday 23 Jan, 2008

In the words of Sir Francis Bacon

We love historic, world-traveling authors here. One of the most famous is Sir Francis Bacon, the English philosopher, statesman and author who penned the essay “Of Travel” in 1597.

World Hum writer Rolf Potts just reworked the essay in the form of a modern-day magazine feature (complete with magazine cover). It’s a brilliant combination of 16th-century substance and 21st-century style—and it’s a great read.

You can read the full text of Bacon’s original essay below.

TRAVEL, in the younger sort, is a part of education, in the elder, a
part of experience. He
that travelleth into a country, before he hath some
entrance into the language, goeth to school, and
not to travel. That young men travel under some
tutor, or grave servant, I allow well; so that he be
such a one that hath the language, and hath been
in the country before; whereby he may be able
to tell them what things are worthy to be seen, in
the country where they go; what acquaintances
they are to seek; what exercises, or discipline, the
place yieldeth. For else, young men shall go
hooded, and look abroad little. It is a strange thing,
that in sea voyages, where there is nothing to be
seen, but sky and sea, men should make diaries;
but in land-travel, wherein so much is to be observed, for the most
part they omit it; as if chance
were fitter to be registered, than observation. Let
diaries, therefore, be brought in use. The things to
be seen and observed 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 heavens and
harbors; 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
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. After all which, the tutors, or servants,
ought to make diligent inquiry. As for triumphs,
masks, feasts, weddings, funerals, capital executions, and such shows,
men need not to be put in
mind of them; yet are they not to be neglected. If
you will have a young man to put his travel into a
little room, and in short time to gather much, this
you must do. First, as was said, he must have some
entrance into the language before he goeth. Then
he must have such a servant, or tutor, as knoweth
the country, as was likewise said. Let him carry
with him also, some card or book, describing the
country where he travelleth; which will be a good
key to his inquiry. Let him keep also a diary. Let
him not stay long, in one city or town; more or less
as the place deserveth, but not long; nay, when he
stayeth in one city or town, let him change his
lodging from one end and part of the town, to another; which is a great
adamant of acquaintance.
Let him sequester himself, from the company of
his countrymen, and diet in such places, where
there is good company of the nation where he
travelleth. Let him, upon his removes from one
place to another, procure recommendation to some
person of quality, residing in the place whither he
removeth; that he may use his favor, in those
things he desireth to see or know. Thus he may
abridge his travel, with much profit. 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 in all kinds, which are of
great name abroad; that he may be able to tell,
how the life agreeth with the fame. For quarrels,
they are with care and discretion to be avoided.
They are commonly for mistresses, healths, place,
and words. And let a man beware, how he keepeth
company with choleric and quarrelsome persons;
for they will engage him into their own quarrels.
When a traveller returneth home, let him not
leave the countries, where he hath travelled, altogether behind him;
but maintain a correspondence by letters, with those of his
which are of most worth. And let his travel appear
rather in his discourse, than 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.