Of Travel by Francis Bacon Summary and Analysis
Table of Contents
Of Travel Summary
Travel renders great service to both the young and the old alike. To the young men and women, travel is a part of education. For the elders, travel helps to enlarge his experience.
One can derive benefit from the travel in many ways. Before setting out on a journey to another country one should learn the language of that country. This is very essential. If the traveller is not well acquianted with the language beforehand he may have to waste long time uselessly there to know the language so that he can make conversations with the local people. Obviously then he will be unable to learn much else there. So one should know the language first. It is better that a young traveller should go out for travel with a guide who knows the language of that country well and knows well the important places to be visited in that country. The traveller should keep diary whether he is travelling on land or on a sea-voyage. As there are so many things to see it is indeed very important for a land traveller to keep regular diary and note down what he has seen in that new land.
In the course of any travel there always remain se principal objects to be seen. A traveller should always visit those places of a country which are usually of great importance like the royal courts, law courts, specially when they are in session, religious assemblies, churches, monasteries, monuments and ruins, colleges and libraries, store houses of weapons and ammunitions, ships and ports and many other things of historical importance and of remarkable nature.
While travelling a foreign country a traveller should follow many norms. This is because there are many do’s and do not do’s for a traveller. First of all a traveller should carry maps, charts and guide books with him that describe the landscape of the country. He must not stay in any one particular city or town for a long time. Rather he should always keep in moving. Even in a particular city he should always keep in moving from one place to another, and must not lodge in one particular locality. This will help him to get new acquaintance constantly. While travelling the traveller should always try to keep himself away from the people of his own country.. This will help him to know the people of the land he is visiting. He should take his meal specially in those hotels and restaurants where generally the native people of the country he is visiting, come. The traveller should, rather must, try to get himself acquainted with the secretaries of the ambassadors from different countries living in the country the traveller is visiting. Through talks with these men he will gain. knowledge about their own countries. Thus while visiting only one. country he will gain knowledge about many other countries as well. The traveller should also visit the eminent persons of the country he is visiting. These men are eminent in various spheres of life and acquaintance with these persons will help the traveller to realise and judge by himself what these reputed persons really are. During his travel the traveller should always try to avoid quarrels with the local people. So on his way the traveller should never keep company with the ill-tempered persons who may easily involve him in quarrels with others.
Travel has great benefit and that should always be kept up. The traveller must remember the countries that he has visited even long after he returns to his own country. Rather he should try to keep up correspondence with some worthy people of different lands. This will keep him in constant touch with them. A young traveller should express his experience of wide travel through his speeches and conversations, not through his dress or certain mannerism. Even while making conversation with others he should answer the question after adequate thinking over the issue. He must not be over eager to give an account of his travel. Though he has travelled widely in the foreign countries he should not adopt foreign manners indiscriminately to show him of and to discard the customs, habits and manners of his motherland. Rather he should try to pick up the best culture and customs of the foreign country and introduce them into the manners his own country. He must not forget his motherland.
Of Travel by Francis Bacon Line by Line Analysis
Francis Bacon starts his essay “Of Travel” with these two wonderful aphoristic lines. In these opening lines he described the uses of a foreign travel. Education should always be followed by experience. This experience provides the education a third dimension which makes it complete, perfect and practical. Education is to be attained or obtained in the youth and experience is always reserved for the later life. Travelling serves the purpose of both the young and the old. Through travel the young obtains an extra education. Through travel the old receives an extra experience. By travelling abroad, in a foreign country, the young man gains much knowledge and learns many a thing. They learn the language, morals and manners of the people of the country they are visiting, about different aspects of historical, botanical, zoological and geographical interest. On the other hand, through travels the older people get scopes to widen their experience of life. They meet new people and new situations which help them enormously to make newer dealings with everything.
- “He that travelleth…..not to travel.”
Bacon through these two condensed but loaded with meaning. lines emphasised the importance of acquiring some standard knowl- edge about the language of a country that one intends to visit. According to him the knowledge about the language of a country that one intends to visit is extremely essential. Otherwise linguistic ignorance will handicap the traveller and will act as a hindrance between the traveller and the natives of the country he is visiting. Moreover, due to this barrier the traveller will never get the knowledge or experience he wishes to have. If he wants to learn the language while visiting the country it will seem like going to the school and he will spend there so much time that he cannot expect. the full benefit of his travel. He will not learn anything else about the country he is so eager to see.
- That youngmen………abroad little.”
In his masterpiece essay ‘Of Travel,’ Sir Francis Bacon, through these lines, advised that while travelling the youngman should take the advice and assistance of an experienced tutor or of a trustworthy servant who has already visited these countries. Naturally these experienced tutor or faithful servant is familar with the language spoken there or what are the worthier things to see in that country. Without their help the young man will remain as ignorant as before even after his visit to that country. They will simply remain blindfolded like the hawks who had their eyes hooded or covered. He will never get any benefit from his visit, neither will he be able to gain much knowledge or experience that he should have.
- “It is a strange thing…brought in use.”
Francis Bacon had the firm conviction that while travelling, the traveller must keep diary and must take regular note of everything. The maintenance of diary is a very common habit among the sailors sailing on the high sea. It is really strange that normally people seldom keep this diary while travelling on land. But it should not be so. Maintenance of diary should be a must for each and every traveller, be he young or old. It is true that while in a voyage a man has very little to do on the board of the ship and hence has enough time to record his daily experience on the sea. On the contrary while he is travelling on land, he has a lot to do throughout the day and very little time remains to note down his experiences on the pages of the diary. Eventually the diary falls into arrears and is discontinued. Bacon himself admitted that in a sea-voyage accident is a very common affair and they automatically present themselves before the voyagers. These accidents are indeed interesting things to record. But accidents are not so common in land travels. Naturally man remain busy with many other things. Accidents may be interesting, but, Bacon agreed, observation is better to be recorded. Amidst of the sea and the sky, winds and wages the sailors meet with accidents and shipwrecks. For the survivors accidents are undoubtedly interesting and so they record them in their diaries. But in a land travel man often remains busy without business and as such often forgets to keep record of what he has seen. This is a very bad habit and the land traveller must always keep record of his experience in his diary in black and white. That will enhance his pleasure and experience.
- “The things…….they go.”
These lines are quoted from Sir Francis Bacon’s essay ‘Of Travel’ published in the edition of 1625. In these lines Bacon gave us a comprehensive list of the things and places of interest that a land traveller must visit on his travel in a foreign country. There are, of course, many things to see the courts of the Princes and the Kings, the courts of justice, the court of the Church, monasteries monuments, walls, fortifications, havens and harbours, antiquities, ruins, dispritations of the scholars, shippings, stately magnificent houses and gardens, pleasure parks, armouries or the peaces where arms are kept, arsenals or factories of naval or military stores, magazines or places for military stores, the stock exchanges, the warehouses or buildings meant for godowns, fancing or swordsmanship of the native people, the comedies that attract respectable people only, not of the ordinary men the robes or dresses of the local inhabitants, the cabinets or cases for displaying valuable articles, all sorts of rare articles which he called rarities, the triumphs or public shows, the masks or dramatic shows including a lot of dancing and singing by the native artists, even the funerals or death procession and the capital executions or the public killing of the criminals under royal order and under the standard laws of the country. All these have an educative value for the traveller as these are the part and parcel of a country’s life style and social system and without a first hand comprehensive idea about these things one cannot know much about a country’s social, economic and political life. But for these knowledge a traveller’s experience will be incomplete or partial.
- “Let him not………. acquaintance.”
Bacon said that in order to gain plenty of experience, a young traveller, while visiting a foreign country, must not stay for long in one particular place or city. Instead he should arrange his stay according to the importance or amount of things, that a particular city or place can give him. Even while residing in a particular city he should always shift his residence from place to place, area to area, locality to locality. In different localities he gets different groups of persons as his neighbours and thereby gains acquaintance with them. As magnet attracts iron filings this change of lodging by the young man will eventually bring for him many new friends.
- “Let him sequester………travelleth.”
In these lines Bacon advised that while travelling abroad, the traveller, be he an young man or an old guy should always try to stay away from his own countrymen residing in that country where he is visiting. Instead, he should try to mix with the people of that country which he is visiting. He should take his meal in those hotels and restaurants where most of the customers are the local people. . This will enable the traveller to become not only acquainted with these people but also to know their food habit, likings and dislikings folk manners and customs, ideas and outlooks. All these are very much essential to know for a foreign traveller about the country he is travelling.
- “As for…. of many.”
In these lines Francis Bacon discussed about what sort of people a traveller should acquaint himself within a foreign country. These people must be the natives of that country. Yet he suggests that it would be better for the traveller to meet with the outstanding people in all fields of that country. He should try to make useful meeting with the private secretaries and confidential employees of the various ambassadors in the city. His acquaintance with these people will enable the traveller to gain a lot of information and knowledge about the various countries. In fact only these secretaries and personal assistants of foreign ambassadors stationed in the country the traveller is visiting can provide him with all requisite informations and all sorts of knowledge about their own respective countries. Acquaintance with these foreign visitors will be a blessing to the traveller as he can come to know many a thing not only of the country he is visiting but also about many countries which he has not visited or cannot visit at all.
- “Let him……with the fame.”
In these lines also Bacon advised what sort of native people the foreign traveller should meet with. He advised the traveller to see, meet and become known to those men of the city who are famous in different fields. These men are reputed men and have name and fame in their respective fields. By meeting such men of name and fame the traveller will come to know “how far the real men agree with their respective images popular abroad.” He can compare in reality whether these men really deserve the name and fame that the people of the world have bestowed upon them. It will be a great experience for the traveller wherefrom he will learn many a things and will gain a great deal of experience.
- “For quarrels……….quarrels.”
In these lines Francis Bacon advised the traveller to follow a much prudential practice while travelling in a foreign country. The traveller should always try to refrain from getting involved in any quarrel or dispute in a foreign land. Quarrel generally starts for a woman or over the right to propose a toast to the health of a noted or important man. It may also start on the question of considerations of rank and seniority. Even rude and insulting words too often starts quarrel. Whatever may be the cause of a quarrel the traveller should always carefully and prudently keep himself away from any quarrel or even from any possibility of it. On his way he must always try to avoid the company of the short tempered and quarrelsome men. These people are in a habit to get themselves easily involved into quarrels anywhere and everywhere. This will create chaos and problem for the traveller. His own interest and intension will surely be hampered then.
- “And let….country.”
Francis Bacon had keenly observed the manner and temperaments of the young men who have returned from their travels abroad. The young men of his time had a special fascination for travelling Italy and imitated blindly the Italian manners and dresses. Bacon felt disgusted about them and so offered a tip to validate the advice for- ever. He practically indirectly condemned the practice of show off which he considered a cheap and foolish way of self exhibition. To him the evidence of a foreign visit should appear in the conversation of a man, not in his dresses and mannerism. He should always reply the questions thoughtfully and cautiously. He must not be over eager to recount his experience abroad. He should be selective and choose the best culture of the country he has visited and try to introduce it in the life and custom of his own land.