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:
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.
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