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The Entertaining Traveler’s
Need for Sobriety
May 30, 2000
"Here you may range the World from Pole to Pole,
Encrease your Knowledge and delight your Soul.
Travel all Nations and inform your Sense,
With Ease and Safety at a small Expence:
No Storms to meet, no Passage Sums to pay,
No Guide is wanting to direct the Way;
No Alps to climb, no Desarts here to pass,
No Ambuscades, no Thieves to give you Chace;
No Bear to dread, no Tyger near to fright,
No Flies to Sting, no Rattle Snake to bite;
No Floods to ford, no Hurricanes to fear,
No dreadful Thunder to surprize the Ear;
No Winds to freeze, no sun to scorch or fry,
No Thrift or Hunger, and Relief not nigh."
--"THE," The World in Miniature (1752)
It is almost impossible to believe that a well-seasoned
traveler could exist in the eighteenth century. However, such a traveler
did exist -- he covered the regions of Asia, Africa, the Americas, and
Europe (an eighteenth century map of the world),
– evidence of his experiences remains in his two volumes collectively entitled
World in Miniature. Not only does he share his newly-found information,
but he does it in such a way that can be easily understood by almost any
reader, providing intricate and detailed illustrations and maps, carefully
labeled sections, and a complete and specific index of topics (an image
of the index pages).
This compilation is laced with straightforward description, but it also
contains an element of entertaining narration. The question then remains:
is this traveler a truly serious one within eighteenth century standards?
Or is he simply to be regarded as a story-teller, without much substantiality?
John Locke once required that the true traveler be
a "compleat gentleman." This meant he had to be "the best scholar [who]
is fittest for a traveller, as being able to make the most useful observations:
experience added to learning makes a perfect man." 
Even further, Locke asserted that "going abroad is to little purpose, if
not sometimes open his Eyes, make him cautious and wary, and accustom him
to look beyond the outside." Therefore, much criticism
was made of those who undertook of seemingly impulsive voyages, if they
did not amount to productive results, for the psychological, educational,
and mental make-up of the voyager. The typical traveler was weighed down
by responsibilities created by travel societies and guides, for although
there was an abundance of publications and advice, he had to rely mostly
on himself: "A lack of schools teaching what we would call today political
economy, modern history or modern languages meant that such knowledge must
necessarily be gleaned by first-hand observation."  This
called for a heavy dependence on and use of the senses, which can be fallible
or biased. According to the many advisory texts for travelers, there ranged
a variety of expectations – these are summarized quite well in the following:
[The genuine traveler] must dedicate his principal Studies towards
tracing such secret, tho’ powerful Effects and Consequences, as are produced
by the various Systems of Religion, Government, and Commerce in the World:
He must observe how these Systems operate on different People. The human
mind is in some Sense . . moulded or formed by these different Systems:
So the Political, the Religious, and Commercial Characters of any People
will be found for the most Part to be a Result of this three-fold Combination.
In effect, the traveler had to piece together and blend
an interdisciplinary palette of cultures – these he could gather from the
barrage of advice he was subject to. How he was supposed to analyze these
elements on his own was a different story altogether. Such demands necessitated
"methodical, thorough inquiry" on the part of the traveler, and we have
yet to observe whether The World in Miniature passes the test according
to Locke and his contemporaries. Is this travel volume objectively informative
and the evidence of a wiser, affected, and enlightened traveler? Or is
it a compilation of accounts containing some facts, but having more of
a fictional quality for the reader’s amusement? It appears that the author
does create some form of balance between fact and entertainment. For in
addition to his direct descriptions, he adds in between many colorful statements
that can qualify as nothing else but opinion. These include his many generalizations
about a nationality’s temperament and make-up, plus his judgments on lifestyles
regarding religion, customs, and the like.
First of all, it is important to note that the author
of The World in Miniature never reveals his identity throughout
the two volumes. He signs the preface with his initials, THE. Therefore
we can tell little about his social background. On the basis of style and
level of literacy we can assume however that he is at least middle class
by birth and/or education or even of a higher class. There was also the
convention that much of the writing of the time was anonymous. Gentlemen
were not supposed to do anything so vulgar as to write for gain. All we
can deduce from the title page and preface, his only direct communication
with the reader, is that his purpose is to create a balance between facts
and entertaining details. For many people in 18th century England,
traveling abroad to continents outside Europe was quite rare – the Grand
Tour to Europe was at a peak. With so much interest sparked in the Continent
itself, areas such as the East for example were less concrete destinations,
and were more seen as exotic regions that belonged solely in books and
stories. In addition, travel there incurred high costs and was dangerous
at times; as a result it was limited mainly to the adventurous and/or scholarly
Thus it was authors such as "THE" who brought other
countries and cultures to the hands of those who could not undertake such
grand voyages. Although the author claims to have written the travel volumes
for his own "Benefit", much seems to cater to audiences looking for an
exciting narrative, full of descriptions of wild beasts, amusing rituals,
strange diets and clothing. Perhaps the author typified the main interests
and diversions of 18th century English society (or at least
literate society). If so, one may interpret from much of his discussion
and writings what kind of topics he considered to be more important, more
entertaining, and more useful. For in his own words:
It is agreed on all Hands that Books of Travels are exceedingly entertaining
to most Readers, especially if the Writer appears to be a Man of Veracity,
and is not tedious in his Descriptions of Things of little moment: the
latter Fault is carefully avoided in this Work, otherwise it could never
have been reduced to this Compass, and yet I may venture to say there are
not many Things omitted that are worth a curious Reader’s committing to
Memory, and in reality he will find nothing dry herein, but what is absolutely
necessary in a Work of this Nature. And what is here related.
I hope will not be thought to exceed the Bounds of Truth. 
On the surface, the volumes appear to be in a uniform
format, divided into sections by continent and then by region/country.
However, going further into the separate accounts for each country, one
can see that there is a less rational network of paragraphs. Each article
begins with a description of the country’s location on the globe, as well
as a general description of the climate, geography, and "soil." The main
topic for each section is italicized in the margin, and it is not uncommon
to see the subject of Punishments immediately followed by something
completely unrelated such as Liberal Arts:
A great man formerly was seldom call’d to account for killing a peasant,
or any other person under his power, but the late Czar has introduced more
humanity amongst them, and he would punish governors, with severity, if
they opprest those under their power. Learning and the liberal arts were
‘till very lately perfect strangers to Russia, for no people ever took
more pains to excel others, than they to remain in ignorance. 
Such jumps occur throughout the two volumes, which leads
one to question the way the author went about collecting his information.
In other words, he lacks in some sense a systematic and logical way of
dispensing his knowledge. This may have been the same process in which
he went about interpreting his observations. The eighteenth century saw
the emergence of empiricism and the scientific method, which included "a
clearly defined and accepted approach to any problem: detailed observation
of natural phenomena; accurate measurement; study of behavioral changes;
and description of phenomena exclusive (in so far as it was possible) of
value judgments." Whether The World in Miniature
goes by such characteristics of empiricism remains to be seen.
One can not deny the abundance of factual content
in the volumes. Past the accurate measurements of longitude and latitude,
boundaries and such (please see the map of the world),
he offers a great deal of useful information for any casual or serious
traveler. Especially in the case of the European countries, he goes over
numerous monuments of interest, and the more essential elements of major
cities such as water-works, buildings, and historical monuments. The author
also provides facts concerning the climate of a country and its individual
regions, along with the common types of flora and fauna native to the area
(although this topic is brought up mostly in the Asian and African sections).
Oftentimes he even delves into the historical background of a region or
city, as in the case of Germany and France. Not surprisingly, the longest
account is on England, whose history he covers starting from the Antient
Inhabitants and Druids all the way until "modern-day" 1700s.
It is interesting to compare the author’s description
of his own country, England, with his writings on other countries. There
is a noticeable sense of pride in his homeland, for in no other account
does he rave as such: regarding the Genius of the English –
They yield to no nation in Europe. None has been more industrious
to improve the mechanicks arts; and the world to this day is obliged to
them for many of their useful inventions and discoveries. Here are made
the best clocks, watches, barometers, . . . and all sorts of mathematical
instruments. For building . . . they have a singular talent. . . As to
liberal arts, where shall one find a people so generally knowing? Here
experimental philosophy is improved to a wonder; and no foreign church
is better stocked with divines than England, which makes their works so
much request beyond sea. 
Thus he goes on in this style with regard to England.
His obvious preference for his compatriots is hard to ignore. Much of his
discussion of other nationalities is characterized by a distant, often
critical tone. Granted, it is difficult to make observations without a
vision shaped by preconceived notions, stemming from one’s cultural background.
In this case, the author is clearly affected by his patriotic ties to Britain
– one may look at it as a standard by which everything else’s quality is
determined. For example, in describing the French, he takes on a classic
They are merry and sprightly in their temper . . . but excessive,
vain, and talkative; for if a Frenchman talks of his own country
to foreigners, he asserts it to be the finest kingdom in the world; the
clemency of the air, is no where to be paralleled . . . their laws . .
. the best that ever were instituted; and their prince the greatest monarch
in the universe . . . And this vanity appears in every thing. 
It seems that the author’s high claims about England
in his opinion do not compare to the extent of French "vanity." He goes
on to write about the Irish, once again falling into generalization. Especially
on the issue of a people’s psychological and behavioral nature, it is almost
impossible to accomplish what "THE" attempted – in doing so he ends up
with a highly opinionated personal observation, exceeding his claim of
the "bounds of Truth:"
The Irish excel in nimbleness and the flexibility of all parts of
the body . . . are constant in love, impatient to abuse and injury . .
. in all affections most vehement and passionate . . . In a word, if they
are bad, you shall no where find worse, if they be good, you shall no where
find better. 
As to more distant cultures, it is interesting to see
whether his views towards other races or nationalities differ at all, as
can be interpreted from his style and tone. Is his writing voice respectful,
condescending, or indifferent? Towards the Russians, he takes on a somewhat
condescending and once again critical tone regarding their laws and government:
As to the laws of Russia they are no other than their ancient customs,
which the late czar collected into a body. Their punishments for criminal
offences seem to be arbitrary . . . which shews, whatever laws they have,
the grandees act as arbitrarily as if there were none; and the sovereign
deals with them in the very same manner. 
Going on to other races, regarding his writings on Asian
countries, one can get a slight tone of superiority from some sections (
an eighteenth century map of Asia).
By superiority, this means that his same standards hold – he does not seem
to achieve objectivity; his observations of non-Europeans must be "appraised"
on a scale in which Europeans effect the absolute value. Many of his conclusions
originate from his views as a European, and are simply explanations of
how other countries relate to a European epicenter. Take the following
excerpt on the Chinese; it is hard to miss the numerous instances in which
the description is a reaction to how they relate to Europeans:
Before they were acquainted with the Europeans, they looked upon all
the people on the face of the earth to be barbarous to them; and when they
found us skilled in arts and sciences, they stood amazed to think which
way we should come by them . . . The Chinese are acknowledged by all to
be an ingenious people, and yet far from knowing any thing of the learning
of the other parts of the world, till the Europeans found the way to them;
they are not very learned, their skill in natural philosophy is but small,
logic they have none. 
He also has much praise at times for non-European lands.
There is definitely a balance between his condescension and his admiration
for other countries and races. His attitude is from the European standpoint.
For example, one of his most complimentary descriptions can be found in
the section concerning the Great Mogul’s Country (India):
The pleasure of the morning and evenings is inconceivable to Europeans
in the northern latitudes, they not having such purity and brightness in
the heavens, nor such a perpetual verdure as here, where you see blossoms,
and ripe fruit on some trees . . . [these are] the finest ideas we can
form of a terrestrial paradise. 
Thus one may conclude from such passages that his writings
abound with subjective observations, going well beyond simple factual details.
>From this point of view, it seems that he has strayed from his promise
in the preface, which is to not "exceed the Bounds of Truth." At the same
time, one should note that from his perspective, his perceptions of these
countries and their inhabitants were true in his eyes, for in effect he
was the ultimate source of information. Presumably one may conclude that
he only recorded information that he deemed truthful; whether his data
is the Truth is almost impossible to judge. What is significant regarding
this issue is what his purpose was in recording these observations.
It is possible he meant solely to inform people of
his findings from his travels. True, he seems to purposely cover a set
group of topics, such as Geographical situation, Persons and Genius, Government,
Laws and Customs, and Flora and Fauna. Most of his sections follow this
general list, but he also expounds and elaborates on related (and some
not so related) topics such as punishments, personal hygiene, and alcoholism.
One will notice that in many sections, he tends to linger over the topic
of punishment, for example. He describes it in such a manner that can elicit
fear, excitement, and amusement from the reader. For example, regarding
Sometimes their criminals are order’d to be toss’d by the elephants,
which they will . . . toss a man from on to another, without killing him
. . . [punishments are] generally adapted to the crime; [he who is] guilty
of extortion or robbing has melted gold or silver pour’d down his throat;
lying is punish’d by sewing of their mouths. 
The same goes for Russia; he provides the reader with
a lengthy description of about four of Russia’s main instruments of punishment.
His style of narration goes beyond mere description, for he flourishes
it with colorful phrases such as "exquisitely beautiful," or "so sluggish
is their motion, and so gross their shape" (regarding the Danes). One will
also find a sense of humor bordering on sarcasm in his writing, for example,
with the Danes once again, he says that "Denmark seldom produces a bright
genius, they are neither good at invention or imitation." 
In describing the Poles, he claims they are "so inured to hardship, that
they even look upon the Germans as an effeminate sort of people." Likewise,
his description of Ireland’s shape is that it is of an "oblong form – resembling
an egg or bear’s foot." He also includes many detailed and elaborated illustrations,
such as one of the Chinese Fishing Bird.
The volumes also include several sketches of different nationalities which
offer the reader a chance to match words to images (see
images of costumes).
It is difficult to ignore the element of amusement
he maintains all throughout his writings. For whom does he write these
passages? Is it merely for himself originally, as he stated in the preface,
or did he have a more general audience in mind? There are two sides to
the explanation. Firstly, he could be writing for himself and his own amusement.
Secondly, he could also be writing for a group of travelers such as himself
who could put his information and observations to good use. Even for the
majority of the population that did not venture beyond Britain, he is able
to provide a good overview of other regions and countries. In addition,
the fact that he includes a lengthy in-depth discussion of England shows
that this might even be more of a general book than specifically for travelers.
He provides a detailed history of England, all the way from the time of
its "Antient Inhabitants" the "Britons"  before
the arrival of the Romans, until the 18th century. Perhaps he
included such thorough accounts to emphasize his British roots. Although
they are not easy to miss throughout his writings on other countries, his
full account on England leaves no room for doubt – his outright appreciation
of his native country outshines the rest.
One may conclude from these various explanations
that the author probably had a general audience in mind; first and foremost,
he wrote for himself. Secondly, he may also have aimed his writings towards
his immediate circle, i.e. his friends, who most probably shared his interests.
Lastly, his preface also admits that by reading these two volumes, one
does not need to travel: "Travel all Nations and inform your Sense, with
Ease and Safety at a small Expence." 
Regarding the author’s outlook towards other countries
and nationalities, for the most part he writes in such a detailed manner,
one can not help but find him observant and sensitive. At the same time,
one can not deny that his ties to England are strong enough to somewhat
distort his views, as many of them are simply comparisons to his homeland.
In one sense, he does qualify as a serious traveler, for according to Locke,
he followed the guidelines; he makes "useful observations", and shows that
he has both experience as well as learning behind him after his travels.
Although at times his organization of topics is a little incoherent, overall
he cuts a logical path through his discussion of each country. Therefore,
the answer is yes, he is a serious traveler by eighteenth century standards.
However, he also achieves a balance by integrating entertaining elements
such as intricate illustrations, humorous statements, and his own personal
views on the world and its inhabitants. In doing so, he is able to satisfy
both scholars and philosophers such as Locke, and accordingly, entertain
general literate population with amusing accounts of an otherwise inaccessible
world outside Britain and Europe.
 Clare Howard, English Travellers of the Renaissance
(New York, 1913), p. 36
 John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education
(Cambridge, 1934), p.186
 Anita Damiani, Enlightened Observers (Beirut,
 Josiah Tucker, Instructions for Travellers
 The World in MIniature (London, 1752),
p.4 (Vol. 1)
 Ibid, p.11 (Vol. 1)
 David Mackay, In the Wake of Cook, Exploration,
Science and Empire (London, 1985), p.6
 The World in Miniature (London, 1751),
p.165 (Vol. 1)
 Ibid, p. 127 (Vol. 1)
 Ibid, p.190 (Vol. 1)
 Ibid, p.11 (Vol. 1)
 Ibid, p.7 (Vol. 2)
 Ibid, p.180 (Vol. 2)
 Ibid, p. 12 (Vol. 2)
 Ibid, p.28 (Vol. 1)
 Ibid, p.37 (Vol. 1)
 Ibid, p.158 (Vol. 1)
 Ibid, p.1 (Vol. 1)
The World in Miniature. London: 1752.
Locke, John. Some Thoughts Concerning Education. Cambridge:
University Press, 1934.
Tucker, Josiah. Instructions for Travellers. London: n.d.
Bayly, C.A. Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World,
1780-1830. London: Longman, 1989.
Bohls, Elizabeth A. Women Travel Writers and the Language of Aesthetics,
1716- 1818. Cambridge: University Press, 1995.
Damiani, Anita. Enlightened Observers. Beirut: 1979.
Howard, Clare. English Travellers of the Renaissance. New York,
London: John Lane, 1913.
Lawson, Philip. A Taste for Empire and Glory. Norfolk: 1997.
Mackay, David. In the Wake of Cook: Exploration, Science, and Empire,
1780-1801. London: Croom Helm, 1985.