Society for the History of Discoveries

Brennan, Michael G., ed. The Origins of the Grand Tour: The Travels of Robert Montagu, Lord Mandeville (1649-1654), William Hammond (1655-1658), and Banaster Maynard (1660-1663). Hakluyt Society Series III, vol. 14 (London: The Hakluyt Society, 2004) xvii, 331pp. 49 figs. ISBN 0904180859.

“Such a rabble of English roam now in Italy” (p. 18). Contemporary chronicler Sir Thomas Chaloner was referring not to eighteenth-century travelers but to his compatriots touring the Continent in the 1590s. The present volume, aptly titled The Origins of the Grand Tour, is a work of meticulous annotation by Michael Brennan, Reader in Renaissance Studies at the University of Leeds and also joint honorary secretary and series co-editor for the venerable Hakluyt Society. Brennan’s previous publications (1993, 1999) include the travel diaries of, respectively, an English Catholic, Sir Charles Somerset, and a Levant merchant, Robert Bargrave, as well as books on the Sidney family.

The present work publishes for the first time the travel accounts of three Englishmen who went abroad for quite different reasons: personal safety, education, and self-promotion. Robert Montagu, Viscount Mandeville, a young heir to an earldom (3rd Earl of Manchester), was sent away from the Cromwellians in 1649; William Hammond, a doctor-to-be, acquired his training on the Continent in the 1650s; and Banaster Maynard (later, 3rd Baron Maynard), a young man eager to serve King Charles II, used touring in the 1660s to polish his curriculum vitae (his travel narrative was crafted by talented manservant Robert Moody). “Maynard’s” account strongly foreshadows the classic Hanoverian “grand tour” in preparing England’s young rulers for careers of public service. One of the central points of Brennan’s book is that gentlemanly socialization by means of languorous but productive travel on the Continent was not just a post-1688 phenomenon. Editor Brennan jolts the reader by quoting this statement, written in 1605, by tutor Robert Dallington: “The end of travel is his [the young man’s] ripening in knowledge; and the end of his knowledge is the service of his country” (p. 19).

Brennan’s book has a number of appealing qualities. The work presents three different formats: diary (Montagu), family letters (Hammond), and formal narrative (Moody’s product for Maynard). Each account illustrates what Brennan says were common reasons for late Tudor and Stuart touring: political or religious flight across the Channel, diplomatic or educational training or practice, and cultural broadening in service of advancing one’s career. The book’s organization is quite helpful to readers unfamiliar with the obscure central characters or even the general subject of touring. First, Brennan offers a short general introduction consisting of terse biographies. Next, he writes a 40-page history of touring in the century (1550-1650) prior to the time of our three travelers. Finally, Brennan provides for each of the three authors a dozen-page introductory essay that describes, explains, and places in context the edited manuscripts that follow. 

The accounts themselves of the travels of Montagu, Hammond, and Maynard form, of course, the heart of the book. Each published page of these primary documents is bedecked with a half-dozen or more explanatory footnotes (blessedly, not end notes). In short, while this valuable annotated sourcebook is clearly aimed at its specialist audience of historians, antiquarians, and anglophiles, the book’s three layers of introduction open the subject to profitable enjoyment by more general readers. Indeed, my only quarrel with Brennan’s fine work is that too many of the 49 handsome and well chosen figures—engravings, drawings, and portraits—only repeat tediously the title or caption already on the illustration. Use of fuller captions by the author would not only explain an illustration’s text placement but would relieve this tedium of duplication. A terribly minor criticism, to be sure, for this rigorously produced and exhaustively researched sourcebook will prove of great use to period specialists.

Stanley Palmer
The University of Texas at Arlington

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