- The Origins of the Grand Tour: The Travels of Robert Montagu, Lord Mandeville, 1649-1654, William Hammond, 1655-1658, Banaster Maynard, 1660-1663
In The Origins of the Grand Tour, Michael Brennan brings together three previously unpublished manuscript accounts of European travel by English gentlemen dating from 1649-1663. While the travel narratives themselves often prove both informative and fascinating, the real significance of this volume may lie in how it reassesses the critical notion that the Grand Tour was primarily an eighteenth- century phenomenon by showing that the tradition of the "Tour" had a much older and complex genealogy.
The extensive introductory materials provide an effective overview of the history of English continental tourism and present a clear contextual framework for the edited texts that follow. In this introduction, Brennan convincingly argues that English travel associated with the Grand Tour, namely the cultural education of the male children of elite classes, "begins in earnest" during the mid-Tudor period (9). Brennantraces variations in touring practices from the reign of Edward VI to the restorationof Charles II, making exhaustive reference to the specific records of individual travelers. He also uncovers how the travel diary, along with the collection of numerous foreign curios, illustrations, antiquities (both real and fake), and mementos, served to formally validate and display the cultural education of the gentry.
The first edited narrative is the travel diary of Robert Montagu, Lord Mandeville. Montagu's family sent him to the Continent not only for his education but because of the political unrest in England after the execution of Charles I. Edward, Montagu's father, was one of Cromwell's leading military officers, but became increasingly skeptical of Parliamentary politics and publicly resisted the king's trial and execution. The fifteen-year-old traveler and exile's diary tends to be painstaking in its description of the various palaces, gardens, and churches visited: often, as Brennan's fulsome annotations attest, Montagu — perhaps as a scholastic exercise fostered by his tutor — directly compiled and translated descriptions provided by French travel guides.
Providing a more lively and stylistically engaging record of European travel in the period is the collection of thirty-seven letters that William Hammond sent to his parents during his peregrinations through France, Italy, and Germany. Hammond was a young gentleman from a merchant family that had a number of ties to companies involved in colonial and continental trade. His family had ostensibly sent him to Europe to study medicine, although there is no evidence that Hammond took up practice after his return. Instead of pursuing the intensive study of physic, Hammond seems more interested in pursuing what he terms his "Gadding humour" (165). His letters detail his rambles through the French countryside, his attendance at the Florentine opera, his viewing of Louis XIV's ballet performances, [End Page 250] and his encounters with the exiled Queen Christiana of Sweden, whom he describes as retaining her "Manlike behaviour [and] Hermaphrodite's Habit" (189).
The third narrative is that of the travel diary of Banaster Maynard, composed by one of his personal servants, Robert Moody. Moody's intention in compiling a detailed record of their trip may well have to do with his desire to foreground the utility of his past service, as well as providing an accurate European guidebook for other members of Maynard's family. The diary provides a testament of how Maynard's social status was acknowledged during his European travels. Maynard presents himself as the son of the ardently royalist Baron Maynard to the Queen mother, Louis XIII's widow; this reception results in the first of a series of letters of recommendation that will allow Maynard to have personal audiences with a veritable who's who of European aristocracy, such as the Duchess of Savoy, the Duchess of Parma, the Grand Duke of Florence, and Pope Clement IX.