How to Travel Like a Gentleman: Advice from 1875

Editor’s note: The excerpt below comes from a book published in 1875: A Gentleman’s Guide to Etiquette by Cecil B. Hartley. Hartley has previously edified us with some incisive and amusing conversation rules. Today he offers tips on how to travel like a gentleman, especially when going abroad. While it’s no longer advisable to refer to the common folk in the countries you visit as “the peasantry,” the bulk of Hartley’s advice still holds true. 

If you are going to travel in other countries, in Europe, especially, I would advise you to study the languages, before you attempt to go abroad. French is the tongue you will find most useful in Europe, as it is spoken in the courts, and amongst diplomatists; but, in order fully to enjoy a visit to any country, you must speak the language of that country. You can then visit in the private houses, see life among the peasantry, go with confidence from village to town, from city to city, learning more of the country in one day from familiar intercourse with the natives, than you would learn in a year from guide books or the explanations of your courier.

RFID Blocking Executiv... Buy New $12.99 (as of 02:00 UTC - Details) The way to really enjoy a journey through a strange land, is not to roll over the highways in your carriage, stop at the hotels, and be led to the points of interest by your guide, but to shoulder your knapsack, or take up your valise, and make a pedestrian tour through the hamlets and villages. Take a room at a hotel in the principal cities if you will, and see all that your guide book commands you to seek, and then start on your own tour of investigation, and believe me you will enjoy your independent walks and chats with the villagers and peasants, infinitely more than your visits dictated by others. Of course, to enjoy this mode of traveling, you must have some knowledge of the language, and if you start with only a very slight acquaintance with it, you will be surprised to find how rapidly you will acquire the power to converse, when you are thus forced to speak in that language, or be entirely silent. Kindle Voyage E-reader... Best Price: $68.18 (as of 04:30 UTC - Details)

Your pocket, too, will be the gainer by the power to arrange your own affairs. If you travel with a courier and depend upon him to arrange your hotel bills and other matters, you will be cheated by every one, from the boy who blacks your boots, to the magnificent artist, who undertakes to fill your picture gallery with the works of the “old masters.” If Murillo, Raphael, and Guido could see the pictures brought annually to this country as genuine works of their pencils, we are certain that they would tear their ghostly hair, wring their shadowy hands, and return to the tomb again in disgust. Ignorant of the language of the country you are visiting, you will be swindled in the little villages and the large cities by the inn-keepers and the hack-drivers, in the country and in the town, morning, noon, and evening, daily, hourly, and weekly; so, again I say, study the languages if you propose going abroad.

In a foreign country nothing stamps the difference between the gentleman and the clown more strongly than the regard they pay to foreign customs. While the latter will exclaim against every strange dress or dish, and even show signs of disgust if the latter does not please him, the former will endeavor, as far as is in his power, to “do in Rome as Romans do.”

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