The Art of Travel (1500-1850) database

Daniel CAREY, Gábor GELLÉRI et Anders INGRAM

Présentation de la base de données réalisée à l’Université de Galway sur l’art de voyager entre 1500 et 1850. (

1The emergence in the early modern period of an extensive body of advice on the art of travel (the Ars apodemica) – produced across a range of genres – represents a remarkable historical effort to shape a disparate practice. Despite the impressive volume of contributions to this wide discursive field (including writings by such eminent figures as Lipsius, Montaigne, and Bacon), the subject matter remains underappreciated and the bibliographical scope (and limits) of the range of works in this domain insecure1. Our purpose in creating a database of sources has been to offer new precision in the identification of relevant texts and to draw attention to the density and extent of these influential contributions.

2The Art of Travel, 1500-1850 database (http://artoftravel.nuigalway.ie2) aims to recover and reconstruct the transnational genre of travel advice literature, exploring its intellectual and cultural contexts, and illustrating its lasting importance. We hope to set a new paradigm for the discussion of travel advice writing, expanding the area of study, providing new research tools for scholarship and stimulating studies of previously neglected materials.

3This project builds on foundational bibliographies by Uli Kutter, Justin Stagl, Luigi Monga, Edward Godfrey Cox, and others, which established the Ars apodemica as a field of study3. Our database extends the work of these predecessors in scope, detail, and the use of digital materials and facsimiles. This database provides researchers with biographical, bibliographical, and contextual descriptions, relevant scholarly references, and cross-references to other works, as well as direct links to digital reproductions of specific texts4.

I Arts of travel

4Before describing the database (section II) and offering a significant case study (section III), it is worth drawing back to consider the intentions that informed these interventions to orient the observational and moral priorities of travel. The proliferation of a literature of advice coincides in the early modern period with a new secular understanding of the purpose and potential of travel. Attention to the religious sensibility of travellers did not disappear, but guidance was largely framed around shaping excursions in such a way as to maximise their intellectual, social, and moral benefits, while minimizing long-standing risks associated with departing from home and venturing abroad (such as corruption and excessive imitation of foreign customs). Many of the contributors developed their views in an expressly normative vein, adopting a moral perspective on the practice that sought to identify ideal characteristics and conduct while condemning abuses. Those who focused particularly on structuring the field of observation, in order to generate useful knowledge and information, implicitly addressed a familiar critique of travel as aimless and unjustified.

5The texts that comprise the Ars apodemica tradition were designed, for the most part, to inform Continental travel, and they participated in defining what became known in due course as the Grand Tour5. This orientation accounts for a number of consistent features associated with contributions to the discussion of travel. Education and enhanced « civility » recur as goals of the exercise, including the acquisition and perfection of foreign languages, training in fencing and horsemanship, and skill in « political » observation useful to the state (making aspects of this practice difficult to distinguish at times from espionage). The target audience was an elite consisting of young men, able to afford the substantial costs of such expeditions : whether the nobility, gentry or others aspiring to social advancement. Some commentators questioned whether the ideal age for departure might be rather older (with advocates for a later age expressing concern about the moral welfare of younger charges), but there was little hesitation about the gender of addressees6. One of the purposes of the secularization of travel was arguably to confine the justification for engaging in journeys to the male sex.

6Humanist attitudes permeate a great deal of the early literature on travel, evident in the readiness to embrace action in the world, mobility, the creation of networks of contacts, and the cultivation of useful observation, including attention to sites and remains of antiquarian interest7. Enthusiastic citation of classical precedents added lustre to the occasion, above all the instance of Ulysses, who had, in Homer’s line (repeated by Horace), seen many cities and men in his journeys8. Other stirring examples came from an extensive cadre of philosophers (Plato and Pythagoras), lawgivers (Solon and Lycurgus), physicians (Hippocrates and Galen), and conquerors (Alexander and Caesar), among many more9.

7The influence on this emerging genre by the humanist reformer of knowledge Petrus Ramus was considerable, most especially in the effort to structure observation through elaborate synoptic tables. The Basel humanist Theodor Zwinger, who dissented from Ramus’s anti-Aristotelianism, nonetheless devoted himself to the technique of framing structured tables on a grand scale, using them as the virtually exclusive means to organise his understanding of travel and observational priorities in his 400-page Methodus apodemica (1577).

Figure 1:Theodor Zwinger, Methodus apodemica, Basel, 1577, 56.


Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.

8Others were more concise but maintained the same commitment to schematic renderings of headings or ‘loci’ of knowledge, such as the twelve-topic scheme prepared by Albert Meier in his Methodus describendi regiones, urbes et arces (1587), composed under commission from the German Humanist nobleman Heinrich Rantzau. This approach attempted to create an observational field that was coherent and in itself synoptic in order to convey the totality of a distant location. We can trace the tradition forward to advice on natural historical observation provided by noteworthy authorities like Robert Boyle in tandem with the Royal Society, and even into the nineteenth century10.

9The Ramist table constitutes one of the many generic locations in which discussion of the Ars apodemica took place. Contributions occurred in such diverse contexts as letters of advice, conduct manuals, essays, educational works, sermons, academic disputations (especially in Northern Europe), orations, treatises, encyclopaedias, and as an interpolation within larger texts (like Richard Baxter’s Christian Directory [1673]). Section III below describes a new venue for discussion in the eighteenth century – the academic prize contest. In some cases, we also find apodemic texts incorporated into published works of travel – for instance, Thomas Coryate’s translation of two orations by the Marburg professor Hermann Kirchner included in Coryats Crudities (1611), Fynes Moryson’s disquisition on the topic in his Itinerary (1617), and John Evelyn’s discussion prefacing his State of France (1652). Reflection on the art of travel in the context of travel books afforded the opportunity to describe abuses observed in the course of the journey and to defend the author as representative either of a more prudent, ideal type, or at least as someone who had learned from mistakes and could implicitly ironise their own position.

10The existence of such widespread commentary on the merits of travel inevitably raises the question of whether these interventions successfully shaped practice or remained an abstract exercise11. We can find clear traces of the impact on observational technique in published travel accounts that adhere to the structured method of organising and imparting information12; the use of a journal to record detail (a widely recommended approach, endorsed by Francis Bacon among many others) was probably routine. The survival of various examples of the album amicorum suggests that the advice to preserve networks of friendship and contact during journeys was frequently fulfilled13. The degree to which moral advice registered with travellers is more difficult to determine, not least since excesses of vice and imitation are unlikely to have been the subject of personal record-keeping.

11We can glean some insight into the social recognition of standardised advice in Ben Jonson’s satirical comedy Volpone (1606), set in Venice. The character Sir Politic Would-be fancies himself as something of an expert on Venetian society on the basis of slender credentials. He appears on stage in Act II, Scene 1, and promptly distances himself from standing objections in the Ars apodemica literature to improper motives of travel by maintaining that

no salt desire
Of seeing countries, shifting a religion,
Nor any disaffection to the state
Where I was bred (and unto which I owe
My dearest plots) hath brought me out; much less
That idle, antique, stale, grey-headed project
Of knowing men’s minds and manners, with Ulysses…14

12The inclusion of Ulysses, the great exemplar of commendable travel, at the end of this list of course undermines his position. Instead he arrived there as a result of his wife’s « peculiar humour » to travel, hardly a commendable rationale in the period. The dialogue with the witty Peregrine, who disparages Sir Politic in asides, continues in this vein. When Peregrine declares his good fortune to have met the wise Sir Politic from whom he could receive instruction, Sir Politic asks with some surprise whether he arrived there « Empty of rules for travel » (2.1.112). The aptly named Peregrine answers that he got some « common ones » from a « vulgar grammar » used by the person who taught him Italian, presumably a reference to John Florio’s Second Frutes (1591), which contains various apodemic proverbs. We learn later, in Act IV, that Sir Politic dutifully keeps a journal which is full of nonsense, including information about a rat gnawing his spur-leathers, the purchase of two toothpicks, one of which he « burst through » (i.e. chomped in half), which occurred « in a discourse/With a Dutch merchant ‘bout ragion’ del stato » (4.1.140-141), and a note about relieving himself in St. Mark’s Square. Sir Politic eventually slopes away in humiliation in Act V, announcing his intention

[…] to shun this place and clime for ever,
Creeping with house on back, and think it well
To shrink my poor head in my politic shell. (5.2.87-9)

13These lines may pick up directly on John Stradling’s translation of Lipsius’s letter of travel advice, which appeared in 159215.

14Jonson’s lampooning coincides with the sharper edge of a number of Ars apodemica texts that took the opportunity to berate those who abused the privilege. The most famous of these attacks is the satirist Joseph Hall’s Quo vadis? A Just Censure of Travel (1617), a work later translated twice in Switzerland, the first time in French (1628) and the second in German (1665). A handy one-page English version of his advice appeared in broadside form later in the century16. The refrain of caution if not outright condemnation of travel focused particularly on outlandishness and affection, and a loss of personal, religious and national identity17. The proclivity of travellers to indulge in embellished accounts of their adventures also received frequent attention. The focal point was the moment of the return when the delicate process took place of demonstrating that the benefits of exotic experience had been realised rather than the defects.

15Eighteenth-century additions to the Ars apodemica corpus continued in substantial numbers, in some instances with generic variations (for example the dialogue form adopted by Bishop Hurd in 176418). Among prominent figures, Jean-Jacques Rousseau undoubtedly stands out, even if his discussion of travel in the education programme devised in Émile (1762) remains conventional enough in many respects. The mode of the preceptor that he adopts is familiar, as is the emphasis on disciplining the activity which is not for everyone:

Ils ne conviennent qu’aux hommes assez fermes sur eux-mêmes pour écouter les leçons de l’erreur sans se laisser entraîner.

16Émile should return after two years with a « full knowledge » of government and public morality. Rousseau does make a notable point in suggesting that the traveller take to remote places, not capitals, to find the true character of a nation, in part because these areas are closer to nature and remove the traveller from corruptions of vice19. The recommendation to undertake this excursion occurs, interestingly, after Émile has fallen in love with Sophie; Rousseau justifies the narrative order without alluding to the fact, taken for granted, that Sophie will stay behind20.

II The Art of Travel Database

17As the examples discussed in the previous section explore, a discourse of travel advice writing evolved in the sixteenth century which continued to thrive into the eighteenth century and beyond. The Art of Travel Database allows us to quantify and analyse these developments systematically. Phase I (released April 2017) contains complete linked records for 183 separate apodemic texts and 166 individuals relevant to these texts (including many of the examples discussed here). These records describe travel advice texts, their authors, publication details, intellectual contexts, and thematic content and arguments. As we shall see, the meta-data and tags associated with these records can be used to explore aspects such as the language, date, and print genre, of the dataset21. Phase I represents approximately one third of the corpus of texts which the research phases of this project has identified, and thus the Art of Travel database has significant scope for expansion in the future.

a) Selection criteria

18The database focuses upon theories of travel and methods of recording travel observation rather than practical travel advice such as travel guides, route descriptions, or travel almanacs. Our corpus is primarily made up of works which discuss the value of travel from moral, educational, and self-improvement standpoints, or which attempt to reform contemporary travel practices in line with these concerns. Canonical examples mentioned above include Zwinger’s Methodus apodemica (1577) and Lipsius’s 1578 letter of advice to Philippe de Lannoy on his voyage to Italy (known under the title « De ratione cum fructu peregrinandi, et praesertim in Italia »).

19From a methodological perspective there are two ways to conceive of the body of early modern travel advice writing. A narrow approach would focus upon specifically apodemic texts like those of Lipsius and Zwinger as a genre of writing. A broader conception would view travel advice writing as a discourse, or body of ideas and debates, and therefore include items which engage with apodemic ideas and debates, without being strictly apodemic themselves. Though the focus of this database has been on the Ars apodemica proper, we have also included a number of items which engage with these ideas and debates, as well as their legacy. Examples of this kind of broader material include Robert Greene’s play Greenes Mourning Garment (1590), Laurence Sterne’s sermon ‘Prodigal Son’ (1766), the broadside pamphlet Bishop Hall’s Sayings concerning Travellers (1674). While this play, sermon, and broadside, and numerous other items, are not apodemic works in the strictest sense, they certainly engage with apodemic ideas and debates.

Figure 2: document types featured in Phase I

Document Type Number Percentage
Essay 25 13.7%
Letter of Advice 23 12.6%
Section in a Pedagogical Work 23 12.6%
Section in a Travel Account 21 11.5%
Academic Discourse 20 10.9%
Academic Prize Contest Entry 11 6%
Section in a Geographical Work 11 6%
Scientific Instructions 8 4.4%
Section in a Conduct Work 7 3.8%
Treatise 6 3.3%
Journal Article 4 2.2%
Entry in an Encyclopaedia 4 2.2%
Sermon 4 2.2%
Travel Guide 3 1.6%
Questionnaire 1 0.5%
Miscellaneous 12 6.6%
Total 183

20Figure 2 breaks down the content of Phase I by genre22. These categories illustrate the composition of the current Art of Travel data, but also ultimately reflect the evolution of early modern travel advice writing. The humanist roots of apodemic writing are reflected in the prevalence of learned works such as essays, treatises, academic discourses (such as university orations), and academic prize contest literature. The educational aspect of this form of writing and its influence on « Grand Tour » practices are reflected in the prevalence of letters of advice. Furthermore, the evolution of pedagogical writing into a dominant part of the apodemic genre by the early seventeenth century is also heavily represented23. The later influence of apodemic ideas on the development of natural history and science is reflected in a number of scientific instructions and encyclopaedia articles, which we have included where they strongly reflect apodemic debates.

21In geographical coverage we have limited our scope to Europe as apodemic writing was a specifically European discourse, connected to cultural phenomena such as humanism and the « Republic of Letters » (Respublica literaria). Chronologically, although our period is 1500-1850, we have included occasional items which are outside this period if they are strongly relevant to a series. An example is the Royal Geographical Society’s Hints to Travellers Scientific and General (1884), a later edition of Hints to Travellers which the Society published in editions of 1854, 1864, 1871, and 1878, which was in turn incorporated the text of the earlier similarly-themed What to Observe (1841). While none of these works are strictly apodemic texts, they are all certainly written in a tradition that can be traced back to Boyle’s ‘General Heads for the Natural History of a Country, Great or Small’ (1665), and thereby to the apodemic tradition.

b) Composition

22Our meta-data allows us to group our content by language, gender of author, or thematic concern. For example, figure 3 groups Phase I texts by language and thereby reflects their geographical origin24.

Figure 3: Phase I texts by language


23The current prominence of English and French in figure 3 reflects the research interests of the main contributors of entries to Phase I, rather than transparently representing the linguistic composition of the corpus as a whole25. Furthermore, language should not necessarily be read as straight indicator of geographical origin; for example, a substantial proportion of the Latin material is German in origin. However, caveats aside, the analysis of this dataset presents useful and suggestive findings. The predominance of writings in English, French and Latin reflects the origins of apodemic writing in North-western European humanism, notably in Germany, France, England, Central Europe and Scandinavia, rather than say Italy. Further to this, the total absence of Spanish works is a striking feature of the whole corpus: Daniel Carey attributes this absence to the combined effect of Philip II’s general discouragement of travel for education, and the focus of Spanish efforts to direct the practice of travel to yield useful information linked to colonial administration26. It is also worth observing that, as future releases (which we hope to provide) of the Art of Travel expand our coverage of the corpus, the metadata will be able to provide unique insights into the makeup and distribution of apodemic literature, its origins, character, and concerns.

Figure 4: chronological distribution by decade


24Figure 4 gives a chronological distribution of the Phase I texts. The central features are spikes in the late sixteenth and late eighteenth century, and a notable drop off in the mid-eighteenth century. If we examine the chronological distribution of text by language (see Figure 4, chronological distribution of English, French, and Latin texts) we can see that the earlier peak is driven by a spike in Latin works while the late eighteenth-century one is substantially composed of French works. Further, the bulk of the English works in the database is distributed across the seventeenth century27.

Figure 5: chronological distribution of English, French, and Latin works, by decade


25These two graphs (figures 4 and 5) are broadly consistent with Stagl’s characterisation of apodemic writing28. The first peak comes in the 1570s (the decade in which Zwinger and Lipsius produced their apodemic works) and lasts into the early seventeenth century. The level of activity remains steady from the seventeenth century until around the 1740s (the date Stagl assigns to the end of « the epoch of the ‘grand tours’ »29). Finally there is a peak in the late eighteenth century. Stagl identifies this period with sentimental travel, the origin of ‘Statistics’ in German universities, and developments in natural history. Furthermore, the very prominent spike in the data in the 1780s represents the texts generated by the 1785-1787 academic prize contest held by the Academy of Lyon. This contest, alongside the comparable one held at Marseille in 1763-1764, indicates that the moral debate regarding travel was still very much alive. We will now turn to examining the Lyon contest in some detail as a case study of how the material in the Art of Travel database can reframe and inform our readings of specific apodemic sources.

III Case Study: The Lyon academic prize contest (1785-1787)

26In 1785, the Academy of Lyon launched a prize contest on the question:

Les voyages peuvent-ils être considérés comme un moyen de perfectionner l’éducation ?

27This competition, launched upon the initiative of a « local citizen and father », is one of the culminating moments of the early modern debate on the utility of travel. Most of the scholarship on this contest has referred solely to the printed outcome, Extrait des discours qui ont concouru pour le prix que l’académie des sciences, belles-lettres et arts de la ville de Lyon a adjugé à M. Turlin […] sur cette question: les Voyages peuvent-ils être considérés comme un moyen de perfectionner l’éducation ? (Lyon, 1788), which includes a version of the two prize-winning texts and the jury’s comments. Gilles Bertrand studied the submission of the Montpellier physician Doctor Amoreux as well30. However, the wider study offered here follows Daniel Roche’s Humeurs vagabondes, which was the first to study all 25 initial submissions sent into the contest, preserved in the archives of the academy31, and offers a new insight by highlighting the role played by the contest’s jury.

28In eighteenth-century France, academic contests provided participants with an established means to forge an intellectual reputation, and potentially, to reach respectable and profitable official positions32. In a country so interested in various « miroirs étrangers » – a wonderful term coined by Paul Hazard – in which to look at itself, it was inevitable that travel should appear as a topic within this network33. However, not all travel-related contests belong to apodemic discourse. There are several extant discourses, dissertations – and prize contests – on topics such as « praise of the traveller » or « praise of Magellan », but these lack any form of critical and normative angle (criticisms of existing travel practices and/or sketching an expectation horizon for an ideal practice), and thus do not feature in the database34.

29Lyon was not the first academic contest in this field. In 1763, the Academy of Marseille launched a contest on the question:

Comment peut-on, en même temps, rendre les voyages utiles à soi-même et à sa patrie ?35.

30We do not know anything of the submissions to this contest. For reasons so far unknown, the prize was withdrawn, and re-launched as a poetic contest the next year, under the simplified title ‘Les Voyages’. The history of the Marseille Academy states that it attracted only three entries, but this is incorrect – indeed, three dissertations are kept in the Academy collections (more might have been received – the jury did not keep all submissions36), but this is on top of two prize-winning pieces. We know the winner and the accessit (second prize) for this contest, as both appeared in print, and both publications represented the first step in important careers. The second prize poem, although taking the form of a letter from a father, was in fact written by a duo of very young poets, Jean-Baptiste Mailly (1744-1794) and Nicolas François de Neufchâteau (1750-1828)37. While Mailly had a less illustrious later career, François de Neufchâteau, then known as a child prodigy poet, later became a key political figure38. The winner was Jacques Delille with his Épitre sur les voyages, a remarkably well written, occasionally original poem in dialogical form39. Delille was much praised for this piece, which started his career; he became particularly well-known for his later translations of Virgil.

31The Marseille contest is almost unknown to scholars, and certainly requires further research40. However, thanks to the database, the texts of this contest can now be easily read alongside those of the better known Lyon contest. The database category of « academic contest » makes it easy to identify and compare all the texts we know to have been written in such a context. Additionally, both of these pieces are poems, which is noted in the database.

32In the 1785 Lyon contest, 25 dissertation entries were received, and a printed version with the two winning entries and the judges’ commentaries was published in 1788. In prior bibliographies, the contest appears either as a reference only to the printed version, or, when the manuscripts are also considered, as one printed item and one folder of manuscripts (covering one-and-a-half volumes in the archives)41. However, the Art of Travel database takes a different approach. It is obvious that, from the point of view of intellectual contribution, we are dealing with not one, but twenty-five independent texts. The database groups these into two editions, i.e. the manuscript collection, and the printed volume (containing a version of the winning entries).

33The contest was famously won by one of the most vehement anti-travel pieces of the entire apodemic corpus. The dissertation of Maître Turlin, a lawyer of the Paris Parliament (of whom nothing further is known, including his first name), can be summarized by this spectacular salvo:

Les voyages sont bons en eux-mêmes; et il faut les interdire à notre jeunesse: c’est ainsi que, dans un siècle pervers, les choses les plus saines se corrompent42.

34Several other submissions were also critical of travel as a pedagogical tool. In the eyes of the Academy’s jury these pieces were unwelcome – the mission of the Academy was to promote « progress », something difficult to achieve through negative discourses. Thus, within the jury’s comments, we see pro-travel texts systematically labelled as defenders of the « cause de la vérité », and counter-travel pieces are regularly called « wrong »43.

35Modern scholars such as Roche have continued this for/against dichotomy. However, upon closer reading, we see that several of these dissertations are not entirely critical of travelling – rather, their criticism is limited to some of its forms. Thus, dissertation no. 2 is described by the Lyon jury as counter-travel (the first reviewer, le marquis de Laurencin, commented: « Jamais plus mauvaise cause n’a été plus mal défendue »); however, after condemning current travelling practices, the dissertation actually develops a series of alternatives to the elite Grand Tour, and very briefly mentions even travel by women44. The Art of Travel database has reserved the category « criticism of travel » for those examples of the genre which are wholly, rather than merely partially, critical of travel. Such examples include Turlin’s winning discourse, Béat de Muralt’s Lettres sur les voiages (written c. 1700, published in 1725 – a likely source of inspiration to Turlin), and Joseph Hall’s Quo vadis? The presence of strong initial criticism of current practices is a feature of many apodemic texts; however, it is unwise to conflate the texts where this criticism is limited to some initial comments with those where it represents an extensive and fundamental part of the text.

36However, despite the Lyon jury’s misgivings about the content of Turlin’s piece, they still awarded him first prize, due to its rhetorical excellence. The best pro-travel piece, the work of another Paris lawyer (and later a politician of the Revolutionary period), Jean-Baptiste-Charles Mathieu (known as Mathieu-Mirampal), was only awarded second place. Roche has interpreted Turlin’s victory as a proof of the provincial academies’ leaning towards a « forme acceptable de Rousseauisme » – an allusion to Rousseau’s victory at the contest of the Dijon academy on the influence of sciences and arts45. However, evidence from the jury’s internal communication calls into question this assertion. The jury repeatedly expressed its unease with the content of Turlin’s piece, and it is clear that it was chosen for its stylistic merits rather than the argument per se46.

37Furthermore, while it was usual for winners of academic contests to publish their pieces – indeed Roche mistakenly states that this was the case in the Lyon contest – the internal communication of the Academy shows that it was the Academy itself that edited the publication resulting from the contest, with funding from the donator of the prize. The Academy requested authorization from Turlin to publish his work, but they did not even consult Matthieu-Mirampal. Several disgruntled letters from the latter in the Academy’s correspondence show that he only later learnt from friends that a piece had been published under his name47. And while Turlin’s dissertation was only slightly shortened for publication, the printed version of Mathieu-Mirampal’s text was considerably cut – or « improved » as they put it – by the jury. The jury had been somewhat frustrated with Mathieu-Mirampal’s text, as they would have liked to award the first prize to it, but could not do so, such was its rhetorical inferiority when compared with Turlin’s answer. In order to reflect the jury’s involvement in these published versions of the two winning texts, the jury is tagged in the Art of Travel database not only as « academic jury » but also as « editors » for these entries. But we can also consider the jury as an « author » in its own right.

38The jury’s extensive work here can be explained by their slightly uncomfortable position: the clearly superior text did not reflect their opinions, nor the Lyon Academy’s stated program of « improvement ». Their solution to this conundrum was to go beyond the roles of « jury » and « editor » – and, in fact, to become « authors » themselves. They didn’t simply provide a review of the entire contest and some critical commentary on the two prize-winning pieces, nor did they stop at editing those pieces – they actually created their own answer, and we could say the result represented the dissertation they would have liked to have seen win the contest.

39The judges did this by creating a framework into which they could add Turlin’s anti-travel statement. In this structure, Mathieu-Mirampal provides the arguments « for » travel, Turlin warns against the dangers of badly performed travel (and, in this way, even his negative opinion on travelling could be seen as a contribution to the improvement of society), and the jury gives a final commentary. This final section does not just comment on the contest. Rather it completes not only the piece, but also the task of bettering human understanding and providing a useful contribution to the culture of city and country. Although the actual advice given is minimal and banal – it consists mostly of repeatedly suggesting « Trouvez un mentor », that an appropriate tutor should accompany young travellers – this nevertheless completes the full range of elements expected in an apodemic text. The jury’s introduction and conclusion provide a survey of existing apodemic literature, arguments for and against travel (through Mathieu-Mirampal and Turlin, respectively), and a sketch of idealised practice. As such the jury is not simply the judge of the contest or editor of the printed version, but also a full author within the apodemic contest. Consequently, in the Art of Travel database, the Lyon contest features not 25, but 26, items and authors.

40The Art of Travel database seeks to enhance understanding of the density and duration of the Ars apodemica as a form of normative discourse in an established rhetorical framework during the early modern period, from the sixteenth century through the later eighteenth century and as far as a number of survivals in the nineteenth. While we have drawn inspiration from figures like Justin Stagl and Luigi Monga, we have conducted new research and added substantially to the corpus, at the same time as refining the category. We welcome additions as part of an ongoing project to map this discursive practice which informed so much of European thinking about travel, its potential, problems, and impact.


1 For bibliographical studies, see note 3 below. Important scholarly studies include Justin Stagl, A History of Curiosity: The Theory of Travel 1550–1800, Chur, Switzerland, Harwood Academic, 1995, revised as Eine Geschichte der Neugier: Die Kunst des Reisens 1550-1800, Vienna, Böhlau, 2002; Normand Doiron, L’Art de voyager: le déplacement à l’époque Classique, Sainte-Foy / Paris, Presses de l’Université Laval / Klincksieck, 1995; Sara Warneke, Images of the Educational Traveller in Early Modern England, Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1995; Joan-Pau Rubiés, « Instructions for Travellers: Teaching the Eye to See », in History and Anthropology 9 (1996), p. 139-190; Gilles Bertrand, Le Grand Tour revisité. Pour une archéologie du tourisme : le voyage des Français en Italie, milieu xviiie – début xixe siècle, Rome, École Française de Rome, 2015; Juliette Morice, Le Monde ou la bibliothèque : voyage et éducation à l’âge classique, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, coll. « Essais », 2016; Francine-Dominique Liechtenhan and Alain Guyot, « Partir : pourquoi faire ? De quelques “méthodes” et “arts de voyager” au xvie et xviie siècles », in Viatica N°5 – mars 2018, published 21-03-2018, URL :; Daniel Carey, « Advice on the Art of Travel », in The Cambridge History of Travel Writing, ed. Nandini Das and Tim Youngs, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2019, p. 392-407; Artes apodemicae and Early Modern Travelling Culture, 1400-1700, dir. Karl Enenkel and Jan de Jong, Leiden, Brill, 2019; Gilles Bertrand, « Du voyage utile et nécessaire : les arts de voyager et le débat sur les voyages au xviiie siècle », in Viatica N° 6 – Mars 2019, published 06/05/2019. URL:; Gábor Gelléri, Lessons of Travel in Eighteenth Century France: From Grand Tour to School Trips, Woodbridge, Boydell and Brewer, forthcoming 2020.

2 The development of the database was funded with support from the Higher Education Authority of Ireland (under the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions [PRTLI]), and grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (Daniel Carey, Principal Investigator) and the Hakluyt Society (Daniel Carey and Gábor Gelléri). Technical development was provided by the Digital Humanities Observatory (under the Royal Irish Academy), Bruno Voisin (ICHEC), Niall O’Leary and David Kelly (Moore Institute at NUI Galway). We thank all of our partners and our colleague Jane Conroy.

3 See Uli Kutter, « Apodemiken und Reisehandbücher: Bemerkungen und ein bibliographischer Versuch zu einer vernachlässigten Litteraturgattung », Das achtzehnte Jahrhundert 4:2, 1980, p. 116-131; Justin Stagl, Klaus Orda, and Christel Kämpfer, Apodemiken: Eine räsonnierte Bibliographie der reisetheoretischen Literatur des 16., 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts, Paderborn, Ferdinand Schöningh, 1983; Edward Godfrey Cox, A Reference Guide to the Literature of Travel: Including Voyages, Geographical Descriptions, Adventures, Shipwrecks and Expeditions, 3 vols, Seattle, University of Washington, 1935-1949; Luigi Monga, « A Bibliography of Renaissance Hodoeporics (1500-1700) », in Annali d’italianistica 14, 1996, p. 645-662.

4 The vast majority of records contain links to digital reproductions. These are externally sourced, with the majority drawn from EEBO, ECCO, Gallica, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Hathi Trust Digital Library, Google Books, and Saxon State and University Library Dresden (SLUB). We regret that some of these resources remain behind paywalls (e.g. EEBO), but they are available through many university and research libraries. The Text Creation Partnership has released its Phase I of transcribed texts from EEBO and ECCO, with further releases planned, making this material publicly available.

5 See Jean Boutier, « Le grand tour : une pratique d’éducation des noblesses européennes (xvie-xviiie siècles) », Cahiers de l’Association des Historiens modernistes des Universités, Le voyage à l’époque moderne, n °27, 2004, p. 7-21. The focus on the European continent as the destination should not prevent us from appreciating, at the same time, that the norms governing travel and the intellectual insights afforded by trips abroad were applied in some cases to those venturing much further afield. See Wolfgang Neuber, Fremde Welt im europäischen Horizont: Zur Topik der deutschen Amerika-Reiseberichte der Frühen Neuzeit, Berlin, Erich Schmidt Verlag, 1991, p. 93-108; Daniel Carey, Continental Travel and Journeys beyond Europe in the Early Modern Period: An Overlooked Connection, London, The Hakluyt Society, 2009.

6 Daniel Carey, « Advice on the Art of Travel », in Continental Travel and Journeys beyond Europe in the Early Modern Period […], op. cit., p. 403-404. Possibly the sole case of a travel programme written with a female traveller also in mind (written imagining two siblings, a brother and a sister) is a section in Félicité de Genlis’s 1782 educational novel Adèle et Théodore (Paris, M. Lambert / F. J. Baudoin). For a study of this text and other female-authored apodemic essays, see Gábor Gelléri’s upcoming « Ars apodemica Gendered: Female Advice for Travels », in Travel and Conflict 1350-1800, dir. Gábor Gelléri and Rachel J. Willie, Abingdon-on-Thames, Routledge. On women’s travel in the period (real and imaginary), see Travel and Travail: Early Modern Women, English Drama, and the Wider World, dir. Patricia Akhimie and Bernadette Andrea, Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 2019.

7 Justin Stagl, A History of Curiosity […], op. cit., p. 49-52. Leading humanists who made influential contributions include Hieronymus Turler, Theodor Zwinger, Hilarius Pyrckmair, and Justus Lipsius.

8 See Normand Doiron, L’Art de voyager […], op. cit.

9 An extensive list appears in François de La Mothe Le Vayer’s letter « De l’utilité des Voyages », in Petits Traitez en Forme de Lettres, Paris, 1648, p. 62-75. Other contributors thoughtfully included Biblical exemplars along with classical precedents for travel enterprise, e.g. [John Stradling], A Direction for Trauailers, London, 1592, A2v-A3r.

10 See, e.g., J.R. Jackson, What to Observe; or The Traveller’s Remembrancer, London, James Madden, 1841. On Boyle, see Michael Hunter, « Robert Boyle and the Early Royal Society : A Reciprocal Exchange in the Making of Baconian Science », British Journal for the History of Science, 40:1, 2007, p. 1-23.

11 In his forthcoming monograph on eighteenth-century French Ars apodemica dissertations, Lessons of Travel in Eighteenth Century France, Gábor Gelléri argues that this well-established genre and rhetorical exercise also had the potential to step outside the boundaries of travel itself, and open discussions on major philosophical, moral and political questions of the century.

12 See e.g. [Giles Fletcher], Of the Russe Common Wealth, London, 1591. Sig. A4v features a Ramist table summarising the « discourse ».

13 See, e.g., Paul Dibon and Françoise Waquet, Johannes Fredericus Gronovius pèlerin de la république des lettres : recherches sur le voyage savant au xviie siècle, Geneva, Droz, 1984, p. 171-177.

14 Ben Jonson, Volpone, in The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson, 7 vols, ed. David Bevington, Martin Butler and Ian Donaldson, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2012, vol. 2 (2.1.4-10).

15 Stradling remarks: ‘Base and badder minds indeed content their poore thoughts with their owne countries knowledge, and being glued to their home they carrie (with the sluggishe and slowfooted snaile) their howses on theyr backs’ (Direction, op. cit., A2v).

16 Bishop Hall’s Sayings concerning Travellers to prevent popish and debauch’d Principles, London, 1674.

17 See Sara Warneke, Images of the Educational Traveller […], op. cit.

18 Richard Hurd, Dialogues on the Uses of Foreign Travel, London, 1764.

19 Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Émile ou de l’éducation, Paris, Flammarion, 1966, p. 596 and 612-613.

20 For a study of this opposition, see Yaël Schlick, Feminism and the Politics of Travel after the Enlightenment, Lewisburg, Bucknell University Press, 2012, ch. 1, p. 19-50.

21 Later phases of the database aim to include data visualisations drawn from our meta-data.

22 Percentages rounded off to the nearest one decimal place.

23 Justin Stagl, A History of Curiosity […], op. cit., p 82-85.

24 Exact figures are: English 92, French 58, Latin 28, German 4, Italian 1. The majority of the total English material in our corpus is present in the Phase I release.

25 Anders Ingram and Gábor Gelléri were the main contributors of entries to Phase I.

26 Daniel Carey, « Advice on the Art of Travel », op. cit., p. 394.

27 We should be cautious in interpreting the incidence of English works relative to other languages as they are disproportionately represented in Phase I. However, the chronological distribution of English works (i.e. concentrated in the seventeenth century) can be confidently established with these figures.

28 Justin Stagl, A History of Curiosity […], op. cit., p. 81-89.

29 Ibid., p. 84. In this attribution Stagl follows Norbert Conrads, « Politische und staatsrechtliche Probleme der Kavalierstour », in Reiseberichte als Quellen europäischer Kulturgeschichte, dir. Antoni Mączak and Hans Jürgen Teuteberg, Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, 1982, p. 47.

30 See Gilles Bertrand, Le Grand Tour revisité […], op. cit., p. 455 sqq, and his recent survey of eighteenth-century arts of travel, « Du voyage utile et nécessaire ».

31 Daniel Roche, Humeurs vagabondes : de la circulation des hommes et de l’utilité des voyages, Paris, Fayard, 2003.

32 On the dynamics of academic contests, see Jeremy L. Caradonna, Enlightenment in Practice: Academic Prize Contests and Intellectual Culture in France, 1670-1794, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2012.

33 Paul Hazard, La Crise de la conscience européenne, Paris, Boivin & Cie, 1935, ch. 1.

34 The best known among them is abbé Gros de Besplas’s Discours sur l’utilité des voyages, Paris, 1763. The author praises heroic travellers and considers the utility of their travels to those not travelling, but never discusses whether and how one should travel.

35 See Jean-Baptiste Lautard, Histoire de l’Académie de Marseille, Marseille, Achard, 1829, 2e partie, p. 434. In the scholarly literature, only Gilles Bertrand mentions this contest in the bibliography of Le Grand Tour revisité (op. cit., p. 574).

36 Académie de Marseille, ‘Dossier Littérature et Beaux-Arts, tome 2’ (3-A-12 poésie, concours divers).

37 « Épître à mon fils, sur les voyages », In Poésies diverses de deux amis, ou pièces fugitives de M.M.D.D. et M.F.D.N.E.L., Amsterdam (Paris / Dijon, Delalain / Coignard et Frantin), 1768, p. 51-57.

38 We can link François de Neufchâteau to another apodemic text in the database: the instructions he sent out as Minister of Public Instruction to teachers of the écoles normales in 1797 (Nicolas François de Neufchâteau, Recueil des lettres circulaires, instructions, programmes, discours et autres actes publics émanés du C.en François (de Neufchâteau), pendant ses deux exercices du ministère de l’Intérieur, Paris, an VII, vol. 1, p. 207-225); they seem to have been one of the inspirations behind the summer excursions organized by François Rever in the école centrale of Eure in 1800-1801, and for the rules that he penned for them (François Rever, Réglement pour le pensionnat de l’école centrale de l’Eure, Évreux, J.J.L. Ancelle, s.d. [1799?]).

39 Jacques Delille, Épître sur les voyages, Paris, veuve Godard, 1765. The Academy of Marseille itself published the version initially submitted by Delille: Recueil des pièces couronnées en MDCCLXV par l’Académie des Belles-Lettres de Marseille, Marseille, 1765, p. 5-11. The version that Delille published himself is about 50% longer. However, notes in the Academy’s version of the text show that Delille’s initial submission was already over the maximum length defined by the jury (100-150 lines), and was accepted only because of its quality.

40 For a first assessment of this contest, see Gábor Gelléri’s monograph: Lessons of Travel in Eighteenth-Century France: From Grand Tour to School Trips, Woodbridge, Boydell Press, 2020.

41 Académie de Lyon, MS 237/3-4.

42 Extrait des discours, op. cit., p. 52-53 [« Travelling is good in itself, and it should be forbidden to our youth; this is how, in a perverted century, even the best things are corrupted. »].

43 The jury’s documents feature in the first half of the first folder containing the texts related to the contest (Académie de Lyon, MS 237-3).

44 Académie de Lyon, MS 237-3, f. 44-55.

45 Daniel Roche, Humeurs vagabondes […], op. cit., p. 86.

46 The first reviewer initially suggests withholding the prize for a year, and asking Mathieu-Mirampal to rework his text (MS 237-3, f.9v°).

47 Correspondance académique, tome IV, MS 268/IV, f.352, f.364, f.368.

Pour citer ce document

Daniel CAREY, Gábor GELLÉRI et Anders INGRAM, «The Art of Travel (1500-1850) database», Viatica [En ligne], n°7, mis à jour le : 21/06/2020, URL :


Quelques mots à propos de :  Daniel CAREY

National University of Ireland, Galway

Quelques mots à propos de :  Gábor GELLÉRI

Aberystwyth University

Quelques mots à propos de :  Anders INGRAM

University of Oxford