Philosophy of travel
This small vellum diary, with its middle tie, is precisely the sort of
notebook an observant gentleman would be expected to carry on his travels.
This traveller describes the coinages in Florence and Genoa, records epitaphs,
and sketches coats of arms. And like most travellers, he apparently never
finished the journal.
This somewhat battered little book attests to its apparent usefulness
for some traveller, though it is difficult to imagine that the blend of
scatalogical and salacious dialogue, 'Common Talke in an Inn', could ever
have proved useful in any language.
These two imaginary dialogues raise serious questions about the value
of the grand tour. Locke is the more sceptical speaker, and ultimately
the more forceful. In refuting the traditional argument that travel exposed
one to the various guises of Human Nature, Locke here advocates travel
beyond Europe, to catch Her undressed, nay quite naked in North-America,
and at the Cape of Good Hope'. Perhaps he should have carried The
Gentleman's Pocket Companion with him.
This curious book proved very popular in its day, perhaps because a traveller
following its prescriptions could be sure of returning with much new knowledge
and a broader understanding of the world. That is, if he survived the
cool reactions of the many locals whom he would have to pester in order
to elicit the detailed information Berchtold recommends collecting.