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English Travellers of the Renaissance   By:

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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 Königliche 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 information.

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.



October 1913


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 literature.

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 à 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 travelling student... Continue reading book >>

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