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  Lectures on the Harvard Classics.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Voyages and Travel
I. General Introduction
By Professor R. B. Dixon
        For to admire and for to see,
For to behold this world so wide.

IT is probable that from the very earliest times the spirit of these familiar lines has been a potent factor in human history. One might be led, because of the marked development of curiosity in monkeys and apes, to suppose that, even before the complete development of the human type had been attained, our precursors were tempted to explore beyond their customary haunts. Be that as it may, it seems certain that the first spread of the human race over the face of the globe must have been preceded by more or less conscious exploration and travel. As population grew and began to press upon the food supply and available hunting grounds, and the need for expansion and emigration was recognized, the relative availability and attractiveness of the country in different directions must have been investigated, and movement have taken place toward the most favorable. This would, of course, not hold true where movement was due to war or the pressure of conquest, but much of this earliest movement of peoples must have been largely voluntary. Travel has thus in these primitive scouts and explorers its earliest exponents, and the history of travel is seen to be as old as the race.

  This primitive travel was moreover in the truest sense exploration, for these travelers were the first to penetrate into lands wholly unknown and previously untrodden by the feet of man. Once the greater part of the world was overrun, however, the need for travel was by no means at an end. Intensive exploration in the search for the best hunting grounds and fishing places, or, with the advent of agriculture, for suitable and fertile soils, must have continued for generations. During the long period in which human civilization has been developing it is clear, moreover, that in the shifting of populations, which has constantly been going on, the same areas have thus been explored again and again, now by this people, now by that. Of these countless travels and travelers, little definite trace of course remains, and it is only with the beginning of the historic period that records of travel become available.
  Although of this prehistoric travel we can find no accounts, yet we can gain some idea of its character from observation of the savage and barbarous peoples of the world to-day. Now, as then probably, there are sedentary, stay-at-home peoples, contented to live and die within a narrow horizon, people whose individual radius of travel may in a whole lifetime not exceed a score of miles, and whom neither commerce nor conquest can tempt beyond their own small sphere. Now, as then, there are other peoples in whom the spirit of travel is strong, in whom is a great restlessness, an inborn tendency to wander in quest of food or trade or conquest. The radius of travel of a single individual in such a tribe may, as for example in the case of certain Eskimos, reach as much as a thousand miles. But such extensive wanderings are, on the whole, rare among savage peoples, and we may well admire the courage and skill of those old Polynesian travelers who, according to tradition, dared in their small canoes to push their search for new lands for to the south beyond their sunny seas, until they reached the fogs and drift ice of the Antarctic.  3

  Leaving this period of early and unrecorded travel, however, and turning to historic times, two facts force themselves upon our attention, first, that the volume of travel has apparently been constantly increasing, and, second, that the motives which induce men to travel are of many kinds; that there are indeed many sorts of travelers.
  First by right comes the true explorer, for whom travel is not a means, but an end in itself. For others religion, commerce, science, may be the goal, the “long trail,” with all its beauties, its hardships, and its dangers, mere incidents along the way. Not so for the true explorer. Impelled by an inborn curiosity, an intense craving to see new lands, new peoples, and driven by an incurable restlessness of spirit, he penetrates to the remotest corners of the earth, braving every danger, surmounting every difficulty, and asks but little of the world in the way of tangible returns. For him the life of the trail, the triumph over obstacles, the thrill of danger, are things in themselves desirable and beyond price; his reward lies not in the attainment, but in the quest. There may be few indeed for whom no other motives enter, but it is nevertheless true that for most great travelers, however much they may deceive themselves into thinking that they follow other and, as they believe, higher calls, it is the master motive.  5

  A different force, but one which has at all times been effective, is that of war or conquest. To the explorer enrichment of experience, not increase of possessions, is the aim; he does not care to whom the world belongs if only he may be free to travel therein. The conqueror, however, demands possession, and the lust for it and for revenge has, in the case of savage and civilized alike, led men into distant lands and among strange people. From the Iroquois who, sometimes alone, sometimes in company with a handful of others, went from the Hudson a thousand miles westward to the Mississippi to strike a blow at the hated Sioux, to Attila and the other leaders of those hordes which poured their thousands into mediæval Europe from the farthest East; from Alexander and his conquest of most of the old world to Cortez and Pizarro and their conquest of much of the new, in varying degree and at different times war has made of the conqueror a traveler. To such as these it is not the beauty but the wealth of a country that makes it desirable, and interest in its people lies more in their exploitation than in any other field.

  Another very potent incentive to travel has been religion. From its influence have developed the pilgrim and the missionary, types which have furnished some of the greatest travelers of historic times. Pilgrims, led by the desire to visit the holy places of their faith, often undertake journeys of great length and difficulty. Singly or in companies they traverse their hundreds or thousands of miles, their eyes fixed always on the distant goal, and too absorbed in anticipation of the things to be to take notice of the things about them as they go. Treading the same paths which generations before them have trod, whose ups and downs, whose hardships and dangers have become a matter of tradition, they follow like sheep in each other’s footsteps. So they have journeyed and still journey in their thousands, century after century; in early times from China and other parts of Asia to the sacred places of India; from the uttermost parts of Europe to Jerusalem in the Middle Ages; from every corner of the Mohammedan world to Mecca to-day. Each and all are seeking for salvation, for all the reward is of the spirit; we may not blame them, therefore, that they do not heed the world through which they pass.
  In one sense pilgrim travel may be said to be centripetal, in that it draws the traveler by known roads to some great center of his faith; missionary travel on the other hand may be said to be centrifugal, in that it leads away from these centers, by untraveled paths into the unknown. Thus the missionary, far more than the pilgrim, has been an explorer; and whether it be the early Buddhist monks who brought their faith from India to much of eastern and southeastern Asia; or Christians who have preached their doctrines in every clime; or fierce followers of the Prophet, who with the sword in one hand and the Koran in the other carried Islam alike to Spain and the Spice Islands of the East—all alike have journeyed far and faithfully, led always by the fire of their zeal. They had no foreknowledge of what they might expect, for them new vistas opened as they went; Mohammedans excepted, their lives were spent, their journeys were made, not for their own but for others’ sake; and their interest or pity was aroused in no small degree in the strange peoples whose souls they went to save. It is not surprising, therefore, that they should show a keener interest in what they saw, or that they should have left far more of record than the pilgrim has.  8

  Great as has been the influence of conquest and religion upon travel, a greater impulse and one leading to even wider results has been that of trade and commerce. In earlier times in search of foreign commodities and products, in modern days of new markets to which to export the products of home manufacture, men have penetrated to the ends of the earth, and to this commercial impulse is attributable most of the great travels and explorations from the thirteenth century to the beginning of modern scientific exploration at the end of the eighteenth. To the merchant traveler, even more than to the missionary, observation of the country and its products, its peoples and their needs, is important. The easiest and safest roads by which his merchandise may be transported, new materials, new sources, new markets, are the basis of his success; and the character and customs of the people are of vital import in the prosecution of his work. A new and shorter road gives him an advantage over his competitors, and it was this search for new ways to reach the Indies which led to the greatest fifty years in the whole history of travel—a period in which the area of the world as known to civilized Europe was far more than doubled. 1

  Although purely scientific curiosity became an important element of travel only toward the end of the eighteenth century, there were in earlier times a few for whom this was a great incentive. To seek for knowledge for its own sake, to be fired with the desire to extend, if only by a little, the limits of the known, is not wholly a modern trait; but before this could be in large measure an important factor, the extraordinary widening and development of scientific interest characteristic of the last century and a half was necessary. Each has, however, contributed to the advance of the other, and the vast additions to knowledge gained by scientific exploration have in large degree provided the materials from which the present structure of science has been built. As once for religion, so now for science men plunge into the unknown; now as then they strive, not for themselves, but for an ideal.
  Travel is then, as we have seen, as old as the human race, and of travelers there are and have been many kinds, according to the motives which induced them to fare forth. The records of these many travelers form a body of literature whose interest is undying, for besides the facts which they have gathered, and the additions to our knowledge which they have made, they give us often a clear and vivid picture of the character of the travelers themselves, their courage in the face of danger, their patience in overcoming every kind of obstacle; and heroism and self-sacrifice of the truest and highest types have been exemplified again and again in their lives. Of all these many travelers but a part have left a record, and, as might be expected, the earlier have left far less than those of later times. From the historical point of view, the records fall into several fairly definite groups or periods, each differing from the other not only in time, but also to a considerable extent in the character of the motive which was dominant.  11

  The first or early period may be said to begin about the fifth century B. C. with Herodotus, 2 who in his travels in Egypt, Babylonia, and Persia gives us our first accurate accounts of those countries, and seems to be one of the earliest of scientific travelers. He traveled widely, gathered information assiduously both as to the actual condition and the history of the countries he visited, and seems to have been an accurate and painstaking observer. The bold explorations of the Carthaginian Hanno, at about this same time, along the west coast of Africa possibly as far as the Gulf of Guinea, were designed to extend the growing commerce of this great mercantile people, and show how, even at this early date, trade was one of the most potent incentives to travel. It is perhaps of interest to note that on this expedition gorillas were seen apparently for the first time, being described as hairy men of great ferocity and strength. Several of them were captured, and Hanno attempted to carry them back to Carthage alive, but was forced to kill them because of their violence, and so brought back only their skins. A century or so later, the expedition of Alexander, while primarily actuated by the desire for conquest, was also in part exploratory, and resulted not only in bringing back the earliest authentic accounts of India, but demonstrated the feasibility of reaching that country by sea. With the rise of the Roman Empire, this early period came to an end, and from then on until the fourth or fifth century is a time of relative quiescence, during which the attention of the Mediterranean world was devoted to the intensive occupation of the world as already known, rather than to exploration beyond those limits.

  With the fourth century, however, the second period begins and lasts for some seven or eight hundred years. Perhaps the most characteristic feature of travel during this time was the prominence of the religious motive, for the travelers were largely pilgrims and missionaries, or, toward the latter end, those who, making religion their war cry, journeyed as Crusaders to wrest Jerusalem from the Saracen. The pilgrim, as already pointed out, was, although a traveler, usually an unobservant one; his interest was centered in his goal and in the spiritual benefits which were to accrue from his long and perilous journey, so that for the incidents of the day he had little care. To a large extent, also, the pilgrims were humble folk, illiterate, unlearned, and so left as a rule no records of what they saw. There were, of course, exceptions, and many persons of high rank as well as some scholarly attainment were to be found among the throngs who from all parts of Europe made the journey to Palestine. Not all the pilgrims, it should be noted, were men, for both during the early as well as the later portions of the period many women performed the arduous trip. 3 Such, for example, was Sylvia of Aquitaine, apparently a woman of rank, who about 380 not only visited Jerusalem and the usual sacred places, but went on into parts of Arabia and Mesopotamia, and has left brief but interesting accounts of her years of travel. She may thus be considered one of the first great woman travelers. In the seventh and eighth centuries the volume of pilgrim travel seems to have increased, or at least we have more abundant records of it; and in the accounts left by Willibald, a man of rank apparently from Kent, we have one of the earliest stories of English travel. This pilgrim gives us an interesting incident of his return journey from Palestine. It seems that he wished to bring back with him to England a supply of a certain balsam, but feared that this would be taken from him by the customs officials whose duty it was to see that none of this precious substance left the country. Accordingly he devised an ingenious smuggling scheme. Taking a reed which was of a size such that it exactly fitted the mouth of the calabash in which the balsam was contained, he plugged up one end and filled the tube thus formed with petroleum. This he carefully inserted into the opening, cutting off the end flush with the mouth of the calabash and inserting a stopper. On arriving at Acre the customs officials searched his luggage, found the calabash and opened it, but seeing and smelling only the petroleum, suspected nothing and allowed him to pass. From this it is clear that travelers of old as well as modern times were more or less at the mercy of customs regulations, and that then as now they took such means as they could to evade the laws.
  Although in Europe the records of pilgrim travel are not only meager but generally disappointing in their brevity and lack of detail, conditions were somewhat different in far-away China. There, although the number of pilgrims was much smaller, the records which they left were of much greater value. The names of two of the Chinese pilgrims stand out as of particular importance, those namely of Fa Hian and of Hiuen Thsang. Journeying to India from northern China to visit the places made holy by the life and death of Gautama, the Buddha, and to consult and copy some of the sacred writings, they have left us records which are not only of the greatest interest as stories of travel, but which are of quite inestimable value as giving practically the only information to be had in regard to the condition of India and the life of its people at this time. Both pilgrims journeyed to India by way of Turkestan and across the Pamirs, and the former returned, after nearly fifteen years of travel, from Ceylon by sea to his home. Both give very full and detailed accounts of all that they saw and heard, and both show far more than the European travelers of the time an appreciation of the beauties of the scenery through which they passed. That travelers then as now, and of other races as well as our own, felt at times their loneliness and yearned to return, is shown by an incident related by Fa Hian. He had then been absent from his home living among strange people in strange lands for nearly fifteen years, when one day in Ceylon he saw in the hands of a merchant a small Chinese fan of white silk which had found its way thither. The sight of this, he says, brought back to him so keenly thoughts of his home that he was able to endure his exile no longer, so soon after set out on his return journey, and after many perils by the way ultimately reached his native place.  14
  The poverty of record which characterizes the pilgrim travel of Europe at this time is even more marked in the case of those who were led by missionary zeal. The two directions in which missionary enterprise seems to have been most marked at this period were south to Abyssinia, and east to China and India. Of the former we have but the slightest record, of the latter practically none at all. That missionary activity was great throughout India, Central Asia, and China, however, we know from various sources. The Nestorian missions which were thus founded between the seventh and the ninth centuries are known to have been abundant, and the missionaries must have been great travelers for they seem to have penetrated throughout much of China and widely along the Indian coasts, but of records they left nothing. Indeed their names are not even known for the most part, although two, Olopan and Kiho, are given in the Chinese annals. Curiously enough, it is at the opposite end of the world that the other missionary travelers of the time are found, namely in Ireland. Here there are a few accounts of explorations northward to the Faroes and Iceland during the eighth century, but little information of value was recorded.  15

  Another and very important group of travelers during this period were the Arabs. With the rise of Mohammedanism in the seventh century a strong impulse, in part due to missionary fervor, in part to a desire for conquest, was given to Arab travel. For some time previous to the Hegira, merchants and others from Arabia had visited Ceylon, India, and the African coast, but with the rapid spread of Islam this trade was greatly stimulated, as the militant forces of the faith carried the banner of the Prophet with unexampled rapidity not only to Central Asia, China, and the east African shores, but into western Europe as well. The missionary conquerors themselves have left little in the way of record of their journeys, but the traders and travelers who followed in their wake have. We have thus a case in which the religious impulse, combined with that of conquest, impelled many to travel, and also prepared the way for a host of others whose journeyings would not have been made had not the former paved the way. Perhaps the best known of these early Arab travelers are Soleyman and Masoudi; the first a merchant who in the course of his business journeyed as far as the Chinese coast; the second more a geographer-traveler, who not only visited and described the Far East, but also the African coasts as well. Both, and particularly the latter, have left voluminous records of their travels, and give us many interesting glimpses into the life and conditions of their day. In many ways of greater interest were the numerous less known travelers, for on some of their accounts, now in part lost, the familiar voyages of Sindbad the Sailor 4 in the collection known to us as the Arabian Nights were based. It is possible to identify with a fair degree of accuracy many of the places referred to in those well-known exploits; India, Ceylon, Madagascar, and China are all among the localities visited by that redoubtable sailor; his accounts of the gathering of camphor represent the actual process as employed in the Indian Archipelago; and without much doubt the famous Old Man of the Sea refers to the orang-utan of Sumatra and the adjacent regions. Not only did the Arabs themselves thus become great travelers, but they also supplied the means by which in large measure the great development of travel in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was made possible. From their contact with the Chinese the Arabs learned the use of the compass, and from them it passed to the sailors of the Mediterranean, thus bringing to European navigators one of the means which enabled them to prosecute those long sea voyages, resulting among other things in the discovery of the New World.

  Although religion and religious motives were thus directly or indirectly the dominant features of the travel of this period, they were not the only ones, and if the spirit of exploration was almost dormant in the lands about the Mediterranean, it was very much alive in northern Europe. Beginning at first in piratical raids to the southward along the rich coasts of France and Spain, the Vikings, the “men of the fiords,” after a time turned their attention westward, and in the spirit of true discovery pushed out into the unknown Atlantic. Here they first reached Iceland, then Greenland, and at last in the eleventh century the northern shores of America. In the sagas the records of many of these voyages are preserved, and in the Saga of Eric the Red 5 we have the first account, albeit a meager one, of the New World.
  Following close upon this activity of the Norsemen in the north of Europe there begins a new period, in which there is a great revival of interest in travel among the nations farther south. This was in part a continuation of the religious travel of the previous period, now transformed into the militancy of the Crusaders; in part due to political events occurring far away in China; and in part to a great and rapid development of trade. So far as the Crusaders are concerned they may be considered largely as military pilgrims who sought to drive the Moslem conqueror from the holy places of their faith. Like the peaceful pilgrims of an earlier age, they were inflamed by a great purpose which kept their eyes and thoughts upon their goal. They have left, it is true, considerable in the way of record, but as travelers their importance falls far behind others of a different type.  18

  One of the most important, perhaps the most important, event of the thirteenth century was the sudden rise of the great Mongol power in eastern Asia under Genghiz Khan. Once secure in the East, the Mongols turned their attention toward the West, swept through all Central Asia, and invaded Europe. Although they were repulsed at the battle of Liegnitz in 1241, Europe feared for the future, and accordingly a diplomatic mission was sent by the Pope to the capital of the Great Khan. Of these ambassadors the most important was the Franciscan, John of Plano Carpini. Two years were occupied by him on his mission, and he returned with a glowing account of the countries and peoples he had seen. Others followed, part diplomat, part missionary, such as Rubruquis, and as a result Europe for the first time began to realize the greatness and the wealth of this kingdom of Cathay. Merchants and traders were not slow to respond, and as Venice was then the leader in the eastern trade, it was not unnatural that her merchants should attempt to make use of the route to this rich market made known by the papal envoys. It was under these circumstances, then, that Marco Polo began his famous travels toward the end of the century.
  For twenty years he was absent from his home, traveling during this time through most of Central Asia, China, and Tibet, and voyaging to Java and India from the China coasts, in large part as an appointed official of the Mongol Empire, which at this time under Kublai Khan was the greatest the world had ever seen. Returning at last to Europe, he fell into prison, and his wonderful story was only saved to the world by the interest of one of his fellow prisoners, who wrote it down from his lips. Polo’s account is on the whole remarkably accurate, but as much cannot be said for some of the other travelers, merchants, or others of the time. Many showed great credulity in reporting all sorts of marvelous things, and on some of these accounts the famous but wholly mythical travels of Sir John Mandeville were based. This, in its day, most popular book seems to have been written by an obscure physician of Liege who, so far as is known, never left his native town. Thus the fabrication of travels is not by any means a wholly modern accomplishment. Great as were the achievements as travelers of Polo and other Europeans, their records are equaled or even surpassed by some of the Arabs who still showed until the fifteenth century great activity in this field. The greatest of these and of all Arab travelers was Ibn Batuta, a physician of Tangier. For twenty-five years he traveled uninterruptedly, visiting not only every part of the East and the Indian Archipelago, but the steppes of southern Russia, the east African coast as far as the equator, and crossed the Sahara to Timbuktu and the valley of the Niger on the west.  20

  With the fifteenth century a sudden impetus was given to travel by the recently greatly developed trade with the Indies. The introduction of the compass had greatly stimulated sea travel, and the closing of the overland routes to the East, due to political conditions of the time, forced Europe to seek for new routes by sea. From Portugal first, under the influence of Prince Henry the Navigator, there sailed a long series of travelers and explorers who sought a way around Africa to the Indies. Little by little they edged their way south along the western coast, until, six years before Columbus 6 started on his great voyage, Diaz discovered and rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and eleven years later was followed by Vasco de Gama who, passing around the Cape, continued on to India. Three years later, Cabral, bound for the same goal but steering too far to the west, reached the Brazilian coast and established the claim of Portugal to a great section of the southern New World.
  While Portugal thus can claim for her travelers the discovery of most of southern Africa, to Spain falls the greater honor of the unveiling of the New World. The discoveries of the great Genoese were the signal for a host of other explorers to follow, such as Vespucci, 7 who, sailing first for Spain, discovered Venezuela, and later for Portugal, explored the South American coast as far as the La Plata. The goal of all these travelers was the Indies and the discovery of a trade route thither, but it was not until the second decade of the sixteenth century that Magellan, another Portuguese, although sailing in the service of the Spanish king, at last succeeded in the quest. Far to the south he found a passage through the wall that had stood between Europe and the tempting markets of the East, and, first to cross the great Pacific, reached the Philippines in 1521, only to be killed there in a skirmish with the natives. Although he himself did not live to complete the remainder of the voyage, one of his ships with a part of the original crew returned to Spain by way of the Cape of Good Hope, these men being thus the first to travel around the world.  22

  The first fifty years of the sixteenth century were so crowded with explorations and conquests of new lands that they may well be regarded as the most wonderful years in the whole history of travel. Not only were further great discoveries made by sea of new lands, but travelers such as Coronado in North and Orellana in South America, explored great areas and journeyed thousands of miles in the interior of the new continents—the latter traveler being the first to cross South America and to descend the Amazon. Cortez in Mexico and Pizarro in Peru, although led by somewhat different motives, traveled far and wide in their conquests of these, the two greatest and most cultured of the countries of the New World.
  Although so great a mark was made during this period by Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish travelers, the nations of northern Europe soon entered the lists. England, France, and Holland began to take their part, and such names as Cabot, Cartier, and Hudson attest their prowess in the field. Raleigh’s ill-fated expedition to Guiana, 8 and Drake’s great achievement in circumnavigating the globe, 9 supply records of great interest, and bear witness to the part played by Englishmen in these stirring times. Drake and the sea rovers of the Elizabethan period 10 were largely actuated by the desire to attack and pillage the rich commerce of Spain in the New World; Raleigh, Gilbert, 11 and others, on the contrary, sought more the settlement and colonization of the new-found lands; yet the older impulse of the search for a shorter trade route to the East was still a factor, as one can see from the attempts by Frobisher, Davis, and others, to find the ever-elusive Northwest Passage.  24
  With the beginning of the seventeenth century France supplies the names of many who deserve to rank among the great travelers of all time. Champlain, La Salle, Marquette, Verendrye, and many others both lay and cleric, were the pioneers in the exploration of New France, and the story of their journeys and lives forms a record of which any traveler might well be proud.  25
  While France was thus engaged in America, the Dutch were no less bold explorers at the Antipodes. Although Australia had first been seen by the Spaniards in the middle of the previous century, the Dutch now, as the Portuguese before them had done in the case of Africa, began to push south along the western coast, their travels culminating in the expedition of Tasman, who not only showed that Australia was an island, but also was the first to see New Zealand.  26

  The last great period in the history of travel may be said to begin with the voyage of Captain Cook, who in 1768 sailed from England on what was virtually the first purely scientific expedition. The primary object was for the observation at the newly discovered Society Islands in the southern Pacific of the transit of Venus, an astronomical phenomenon in which the men of science of the time were much interested. Several scientists were among the members of the expedition, which was further charged with the duty of making collections and surveys. From this time on, in ever-increasing numbers, individual travelers and great expeditions have scoured the world in order to observe and collect for scientific purposes. One after another the great nations of the world have taken up the task, until to-day the volume of scientific travel is immense. Darwin’s famous voyage in the Beagle, 12 and Wallace’s years of travel in the East Indies have revolutionized much of the science of our times, and show how great may be the outcome of travel when directed toward a purely ideal end. As part and parcel of this growth of science as an inspiration to travel, we have the splendid records of the search for the Poles. Here the goal was also an ideal, the price was shorn of any practical value, and trade and commercial motives were wholly barred; yet generation after generation men strove against tremendous odds, and faced suffering and death a thousand times in their attempts to reach these, the last strongholds of the unknown. The light that led them was, however, not alone the cold flame of ideal science, although for many this may indeed have burned with pale but steady glow; for them, perhaps as much as for any men, it was the fiercer flame which burns in the hearts of all true explorers, for whom the doing is more than the deed, who go because in very truth they must.
  Such a hasty glance at the history of travel from earliest times can do little more than suggest the vastness and the interest of the field. In so wide a prospect only the larger features of the landscape can be seen, and if we have, so to speak, had only glimpses of the higher mountain peaks, it does not follow that there is less of interest in the valleys that nestle at their feet. We have of necessity considered only the great travelers, the great journeys, but those more humble and of lesser compass are not therefore to be despised. Of such more modest travelers, whose little journeys lay in narrower fields, there are a host; and from the best, with their intimate local knowledge, their keen and critical observations, their sympathetic descriptions, we may gain great pleasure and be stimulated perhaps to make all the use possible of the opportunities which come to us to see more thoroughly and with a more observing eye the country and the people round about.  28

  No one can read the records of the travelers of different periods without being struck by the differences in the character and method of travel which they reveal. Although reference to the comfort, the rapidity, and the safety of modern travel, at least along the great highways of the civilized world, is a commonplace, yet the contrast of the present conditions with those that formerly obtained is none the less noteworthy. The earlier travelers had frequently to go alone, sometimes disguise was their only hope, and they were, far more than at present, subject to hardship, suffering, and danger. They made, indeed were able to make, little in the way of special preparation for the journey; they carried with them little in the way of special outfit; and they traveled as a rule very slowly, often halting or being obliged to halt long on the way. Dependent for guidance frequently on the information of suspicious or unfriendly folk, they often went astray, and lacking regular or direct means of communication, they had often to journey by very roundabout routes to reach their goal. To-day the conditions have vastly changed. The lonely traveler or the elaborately organized expedition alike are spared much of the hardship and danger, and both may secure all sorts of cunningly devised special equipment and supplies, which not only add enormously to comfort and safety, but to the certainty of success. Travel away from the beaten track or exploration in untraveled regions is still and of necessity slow compared with what it is in civilized lands, but the traveler and explorer in remote places to-day has at least this inestimable advantage, that he is able to reach quickly and easily the actual point of departure into the unknown.

  Of the advantages and of the pleasures of travel there is little need to speak—they are too obvious. New lands, new peoples, new experiences, all alike offer to the traveler the opportunity of a wider knowledge. He may add almost without limit thus to his stores, although in this field as in most others it must be remembered that “he who would bring back the wealth of the Indies must take with him the wealth of the Indies”—in other words he will gain just in proportion to the knowledge and appreciation which he brings. But greater than any knowledge gained is the influence which travel exerts or should exert on habits of thought, and on one’s attitude to one’s fellow man. A wider tolerance, a juster appreciation of the real values in life, a deeper realization of the oneness of mankind, and a growing wonder at the magnitude of the achievements of the race—these are some of the results which travel rightly pursued cannot fail to produce. Quite apart, moreover, from any or all of these things, desirable as they are, is the pleasure of travel in and for itself. It has been already pointed out that this is for some the main, and for many at least an important if unadmitted, motive. To the real traveler there is no joy which is keener, no pleasure more lasting, no call more imperious, than that of travel. There is fatigue, hardship, perhaps suffering, to be endured—for him this is of small moment, for they will soon pass; the recollection even of them will fade away—all these will be forgotten, while the memory holds with almost undiminished clearness the wonder and the beauty of the past. For him the colors of old sunsets glow with undimmed splendor, in his ears the winds of other days still make their music, and in his nostrils is still the perfume of flowers that long passed away.
  We cannot all be travelers; there are many who must be content to do their traveling in an arm chair. Rightly read, however, the records of others’ journeys may bring to the reader much not only of value but of pleasure. He may play consciously the part which for the traveler memory plays unconsciously, and from the mass of experience select and hold only the best. For him thus the patience, the heroism, and the indomitable perseverance revealed in the lives and deeds of great travelers may serve as an inspiration; and from their description of the wonder and the beauty of the world he may gain some understanding of and sympathy with those who have in all ages set their faces toward the unseen; whose spirit has been that put into the mouth of Ulysses:
                my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die. 13
Note 1. See Harvard Classics, xliii, 21, 28, 45; xxxiii, 129, 199, 229, 263, 311; and the lecture below on “The Elizabethan Adventurers.” [back]
Note 2. H. C., xxxiii, 7ff; and lecture on “Herodotus on Egypt,” below. [back]
Note 3. Cf. The Wife of Bath in Chaucer’s Prologue to “The Canterbury Tales,” H. C., xl, 24. [back]
Note 4. H. C., xvi, 231–294. [back]
Note 5. H. C., xliii, 5. [back]
Note 6. H. C., xliii, 21ff. [back]
Note 7. H. C., xliii, 28ff. [back]
Note 8. H. C., xxxiii, 311ff. [back]
Note 9. H. C., xxxiii, 199ff. [back]
Note 10. See Lecture III, below. [back]
Note 11. H. C., xxxiii, 263ff. [back]
Note 12. H. C., xxix, 11ff. [back]
Note 13. Tennyson’s “Ulysses,” H. C., xlii, 977. [back]


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