Louis De Freycinet’s Epic Circumnavigation Of The Globe

Those who perform great deeds are guided by inner lights whose intensity never wanes.  Perhaps the most significant French maritime expedition of the nineteenth century was that of naval commander Louis Claude de Saulces de Freycinet (1779—1841).  Its chief aim, according to novelist Jules Verne, was  “to survey the shape of the land in the southern hemisphere, and to make observations in terrestrial magnetism, without, at the same time, omitting to give attention to all natural phenomena, and to the manners, customs, and languages of indigenous races.”  In an epic voyage that lasted over three years, he and the crew of the corvette Uranie covered a vast portion of the earth’s surface; and he was the first explorer to chart the precise contours of the Australian continent.

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The Travels Of Dr. Thomas Shaw

He remains one of the most impressive of the forgotten European explorers of the Middle East.  He was born in Westmoreland in 1692, and entered Queen’s College at Oxford in 1711.  Graduating in 1716, he accepted a position with a British commercial post in Algiers; this gave him the opportunity for a meandering journey through Europe before commencing the assignment.

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A Humanist Visits The German Baths

The Renaissance humanist Poggio Bracciolini wrote a fascinating letter to his close friend Niccolo Niccoli in May of 1416 while on one of his book-hunting expeditions to remote monasteries Germany.  While in Germany he had an opportunity to visit the baths near Kaiserstuhl, and he has left us a detailed description of the experience.

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Antonio De Ulloa’s Explorations In South America

Antonio de Ulloa y de la Torre-Giral may have been Spain’s greatest explorer of the eighteenth century.  The hardships he endured certainly merit his inclusion on any list of that century’s great cultivators of geographic knowledge.  He was born in Seville on January 12, 1716; and like many accomplished travelers, he received a thorough education in the traditional disciplines.  He came from a family with a naval tradition, and young Antonio was eager to follow in these footsteps.

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Some Bits Of Travel Advice

It is very easy to find travel advice.  It gushes in currents, like the waters of a melting glacier, carrying all before it.  I have no desire here to provide an exhaustive laundry-list of action items; my goal is only to toss out a few thoughts on the subject that have come to me in recent days.  I recently read the following travel recommendations which appear in Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson.  They are taken from a letter he wrote to one Mr. Perkins in 1782, when Johnson was 73 years old:

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The Travels Of Sir Thomas Roe

One of the most successful diplomats of his era, Thomas Roe (1581–1644) got an early start on success in life.  In his era it helped to be a part of the nobility.  He was born in Essex, the son of Sir Robert Rowe, and was educated at Oxford; his genteel manners and refined ways soon gained him access to the court of Elizabeth I.  A knighthood followed in 1604, and with this came increased opportunities for advancement and commercial success.

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Ibn Fadlan’s Unique Travels In Central Asia And Rus

The name of Ibn Fadlan (أحمد بن فضلان بن العباس بن راشد) has received some notoriety in recent years, primarily due to fictionalized accounts of his travels in print and film.  Enthusiasts of travel literature who have taken the time to read his work will find, however, that his actual travels have little to do with these sensationalized tales.  His book is of great value to modern ethnographers; for it remains the only first-hand account we have of the customs and habits of Viking communities in Russia during the medieval period.

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