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Art. VII.-Fynes Moryson's Itinerary: or Ten Years' Travells
through Great Britain and other parts of Europe. Folio, Part I. pp. 295. Part II. pp. 301. Part III. pp. 292. London, 1617.
To the enlightened and sincere friend of the improvement of his fellow creatures, no inquiries can be so attractive and encouraging as those which enable him to mark their progress, at different periods, in knowledge, civilization, and happiness.Such inquiries it is the peculiar nature and recommendation of our Review to enable him to make and to satisfy. We point out, by the books we notice, what was known and thought, the state of the imagination, judgment, and reasoning powers,—the condition of mankind, half a century, a century, or two centuries ago, and thus furnish materials, at once amusing and instructive, for the study to which we have alluded.
The contrast between the most highly improved nation, and one in a state of native barbarism and ignorance, may be made, either by looking to examples of each, at present existing, or by comparing the former powers, with what it was in remote periods of its history, But the conviction, that mankind is in a regular state of improvement will be impressed much more deeply by the latter method : this enables us to prove the actual fact, as well as to trace the times and many of the causes of the various stages of improvement. Britain, as it is at present, we see gradually rising out of the barbarism and ignorance in which Cæsar found it, and we can lay our fingers on most of the influential causes of this advancement. Whereas, we find it difficult to foresee or to imagine when, or by what causes, the degraded people of Asia or Africa, or the savages of America, will receive even the first permanent impulse towards civil and political knowledge and happiness.
History gives us little information on this interesting subject: it is too much occupied with less pleasant and instructive topics : glimpses of the state of the great bulk of mankind may, indeed, appear in its pages, but they are not of such duration, extent, or minuteness, as to be of much service in this inquiry. Books of travels afford the most ample and satisfactory materials : he who reads a chronological series of travels in any country will receive information on this subject, at once the most to the point, and the most amusing. After rising from a perusal of the most ancient, and the most recent travels in China and Hindostan, he will be puzzled to assign to each its respective era, such a close and striking resemblance will be found
between the pictures they respectively exhibit, of the inhabitants of these countries. It is unnecessary to multiply examples of the series of lessons that may be drawn from books of travels chronologically read. There is, however, one fact such a course of study will make us acquainted with, to which we must advert. If we peruse travels in Britain, France, Germany, or almost any other country in Europe, of a more remote date than a century or a century and a half, we shall be struck with the precedency in knowledge, comfort, and most kinds of improvement of almost every European nation over Britain.This precedency seems to have remained till the commencement of the last century : then our country began to approach very close to the most improved continental states : she soon came up with them; then passed them, and, within the last fifty years, her superiority has advanced in the most rapid and astonishing manner. We know no subject so full of materials, at once interesting and instructive, as the contrast between Britain and its inhabitants at the beginning of the reign of George III., and at the beginning of the reign of our present sovereign.
Modern travellers possess several advantages over their predecessors ; they can and ought to bring more science to their task. Hence, on all topics connected with science, especially natural history, modern travels must be infinitely more instructive: they are also superior in statistical information, and consequently unfold, more completely, the sources of national and individual wealth. But we doubt much, whether, in any other respect, modern travellers can be compared to their predecessors. They do not take so much time or pains ; their objects are too various: they do not go into those minute details, furnished by old books of travels, from which the most accurate and complete picture of manners, and the state of society, may be drawn. We know much better from modern than from old travels, the plants, animals, minerals, geology, agriculture, manufactures, and commerce of Germany, but we question extremely, whether the latter do not introduce us to a more intimate and familiar acquaintance with the Germans themselves.
We speak advisedly, and within bounds, when we assert, that Fynes Moryson's work need not dread a comparison with any other book of travels, so far as amusing and instructive details, regarding manners, and the state of society, are concerned. There is, indeed, in his bulky volume, much that, to modern readers, is useless or uninteresting, and one portion that belongs to history and not to travels; but we cannot read many pages without being satisfied, that he was quick at observation, and that he had the faculty of selecting the most characteristic particulars of each nation, and of giving them with graphic force and liveliness.
Moryson was a student of Peter House, Cambridge, towards the end of the 16th century. In the year 1589, when he was twenty-three years old, he was appointed one of the travelling fellows. He seems to have spent nearly two years in pursuing such studies as would qualify him the better
to travel, and in visiting his friends; and in May, 1591, he left England; in the same month, 1595, he returned to his native country. This journey had given him a strong desire again to visit foreign countries, and, especially, Jerusalem and Constantinople. We shall introduce him to our readers at this time.
“ Being of this mind when I returned into England, it happened that my brother Henry was then beginning that voyage, having to that purpose put out some four hundred pounds, to be repaid twelve hundred pounds, upon his return from those two cities, and to lose it if he died in the journey. I say, he had thus put out the most part of his small estate, which, in England, is no better with gentlemen's younger sons, nor so good as with bastards in other places, as well for the English law most unmeasurably favouring elder brothers, as (let me boldly say it) for the ignorant pride of fathers, who to advance their eldest sons, drive the rest to desperate courses, and make them unable to live, or to spend any money in getting understanding and experience, so as they being in wants, and yet more miserable by their gentry and plentiful education, must needs rush into all vices; for all wise men confess, that nothing is more contrary to goodness than poverty. My brother being partner with other gentlemen in this fortune, thought this putting out of money to be an honest means of gaining, at least, the charges of his journey, and the rather, because it had not then been in England, that any man had gone this long journey by land, nor any like it, excepting only Master John Wrath, whom I name for honour, and more especially he thought this gain most honest and just; if this journey were compared with other base adventures for gain, which, long before this time, and were then in use. And I confess, that his resolution did not, at the first sight, dislike me. For I remembered, that this manner of gain had of old been in use among the inhabitants of the Low Countries, and sea coasts of Germany, (and so it is yet
in them.) I remembered, that no mean Lords, and Lords' sons, and gentlemen in our court, had, in like sort, put out money upon a horserace, or speedy course of a horse, under themselves, yea, upon a jourvey on foot. I considered, that those kinds of gaining only required strength of body, whereas, this and the like required also vigour of mind, yea, that they often weakened the body, but this, and the like, always bettered the mind. I pass over infinite examples of the former customs, and will only add, that Earls, Lords, gentlemen, and all sorts of men, have used, time out of mind, to put out money to be repaid, with advantage, upon the birth of their next child, which kind of gain can no way be compared with the adventures of long journies; yea, I will boldly say, it is a base gain, where a man is hired to that dalliance with his wife, and to kill a man, so he may get a boy, as if he were to be encouraged to a game of Olympus."
He, however, changed his mind,“ observing," he says, c. that these kind of adventures were grown very frequent, whereof some were indecent, some ridiculous, and that they were, in great part, undertaken by bankerouts, and men of base condition.” He, therefore, only gave 1001. to receive 3001. at his return among his brethren and friends; and 1001. to five friends, on condition they should have it if he died, or, after three years, should give him 1501. if he returned. By the great expenses of this journey, however, his brother's death, and his own sickness, the 3501, he received, on his return, and the 1001. he and his brother carried with them, did not defray what they spent, which amounted to 5001. From this journey he returned, in July 1597. In the summer of 1598, he travelled through part of England, Scotland, and Ireland. In 1600, he went to this last country, as secretary to Lord Mountjoy, who was appointed Lord Deputy, by Queen Elizabeth. Of the person, apparel, diet, manners, &c. of his patron, he gives a very particular account, of which the following are specimens, and extracts :-"When his parents wished to have his picture drawn, in his childhood, he desired, that it might be with a trowel in his hand, and this motto, ad re-edificandum antiquam domum :" the family estate having been much reduced by his father's obstinate addiction to the study and practice of alchemy."
His apparel, in court or cities, was commonly of white or black taffeties, or satins, and he wore two, yea, sometimes three pair of silk stockings, with black silk grogram cloaks, guarded, and ruffs of comely depth and thickness, (never wearing any falling band,) black beaver hat, with plain black band, a taffety quilted waistcoat, in summer, a scarlet waistcoat, and, sometimes, both in winter. But, in the country, and especially keeping the field, in Ireland, (yea, sometimes, in the cities) he wore jerkins and round hose, (for he never wore other fashion than round) with laced panes, of russet cloth, and cloak of the same cloth, lined with velvet, and white beaver hat, with plain bands; and, besides his ordinary stockings of silk, he wore, under boots, another pair of woollen, or worsted, with a pair of high linen boot hose, yea, three waistcoats, in cold weather, and a thick ruff
, besides a russet scarf about his neck, thrice folded, under it.” (Part II. p. 46.)
Before he went to Ireland, his usual breakfast was panada and broth, but, during the war, he 'contented himself with a dry crust of bread, and, in the spring time, with butter and sage, with a cup of stale beer, and sometimes, in winter, sugar and nutmegs mixed with it. At dinner and supper, he had the choicest and most nourishing meats and the best wines. He took tobacco abundantly; and to this practice our author ascribes his good health, while among the bogs of Ireland, and the relief of the violent head-aches which regularly attacked him, like an ague, for many years, every three months. “He delighted in study, in gardens, "an house richly furnished, and delectable for rooms of retreat, in riding on a pad, to take the air, in playing at showl-board, or at cards, in reading play-books, for recreation, and especially in fishing, and fish-ponds, seldom using any other exercise, and using these rightly as pastimes, only for a short and convenient time, and with great variety of change from one to the other.” His chief delight was in the study of divinity, and more especially in reading the Fathers and Schoolmen : some chapters of the Bible were each nig?st read to him, and he never omitted prayers at morning and night. We imagine a Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, at the beginning of the 19th century, bears very little resemblance, in any respect, to the portraiture drawn of the one at the beginning of the 17th century. In 1603, Lord Mountjoy returned to England along with the famous Tyrone : James I. created him Earl of Devonshire, but he did not long enjoy this dignity, dying in the year 1606. In 1613, our author was again induced to visit Ireland, by the entreaty of his brother, Sir Richard Moryson, Vice President of Munster; but it does not appear how long he remained there. Of the particulars of his future life, or of the time and circumstances of his death, we have no information.
In the address to the reader, after giving a short account of the nature and contents of his book, he adds, that he wrote it swiftly, yet slowly: "Swiftly, in that my pen was ready and nothing curious, as may appear by the matter and style: slowly, in respect to the long time past since I viewed these dominions, and since I took the work in hand. So as that the work
may not, unfitly, be compared to a nosegay of flowers, hastily snatched in many gardens, and with much leisure, and yet carelessly and negligently bound together. The snatching is excused by the haste necessary to travellers, desiring to see much in short time. And the negligent binding, in true judgment, needs no excuse, being like rich embroidery laid upon a frieze jerkin.” He uses, as an excuse for the delay in publishing his work, his connexions with Lord Mountjoy, and his intention to annex to it a history of the several countries he had visited. This intention, however, after three years' labour, he abandoned, not wishing, to use his own words, “ to make his gate bigger than his city,” which would have been the case, had he published these histories along with his travels, “in the bulk to which he found them to swell.”
“ And for the rest of the years, I wrote at leisure, giving (like a free and unhired workman) much time to pleasure, to necessary affairs, and to divers and long distractions. If you consider this, and, withal, remember, that the work is first written in Latin, then trans