Friday 1 December 2023

Wisdom Of The Elders - Travel

Venroy poster in a Paddington street

Travel is on the horizon for the Pipistrellos next year, Dear Reader, and since it has been a goodly while since Europe was the destination, Your Correspondent thought a few pertinent questions to one wiser than she might be in order, just to get in the mood and allay any feelings of travel rustiness. The wise elder interviewed in this instance is the first AI bot that sounds in any way interesting and goes by the name MonadGPT, and, gloriously, will speak to you from the 17th Century!

Pipistrello: Who should undertake a Grand Tour? [A bit of an exaggeration but I wanted to be sure, firstly, that Travel is still suitable for the likes of me]

Monad-GPT: A young gentleman should undertake a grand tour, that he may see what sort of people there are in other countries, and how they live, and what they do. For it is good for a young gentleman to know how other people live, and what they do. And he should also learn the languages of those countries, and understand the customs of the people. And then he will be better able to manage his own affairs, and to govern his own family. And if he has a wife, then she will be the more able to govern her servants, and to manage her household. [Neither of us is a Young Gentleman but I like the jolly optimism here]

P: My Grand Tour shall include France, but I cannot speak the language. [Ever the Pipistrello Bugbear] What should I do?

M-GPT: If you cannot speak the language of the country where you are going, you should endeavour to learn it before you go. [Not helpful & not likely!] This will enable you to converse with the people, and to understand what they say. You should also endeavour to learn the manners and customs of the people, that you may not offend them, and that you may conduct yourself properly. You should make it a point to visit the most interesting places in the country, and to see the greatest number of curiosities that you can. And if you will be attentive to your studies, and use your time well, you will soon become acquainted with the language, and will be able to enjoy the advantages of a grand tour.

[There followed a question about the means of conveyance in France, which was answered with a breezy listing of cars, buses, rental bicycles &c &c, but then I pointed out Cars?? given my advisor was speaking from the C17th and a profuse apology ensued for the unintended misinformation ...]

P: It will be winter when I undertake my Grand Tour, so what should I take with me to wear?

M-GPT: If you are going to undertake a grand tour in winter, you should take with you warm clothing, such as a fur coat, a pair of gloves and a muffler. You should also take with you a pair of boots or shoes, and a hat or cap that will keep your head warm. And if you are going to a cold climate, you should take with you some warm underclothes, such as a flannel shirt, a pair of woollen stockings, and a pair of woollen drawers. [Jaeger long johns at the ready!] You should also take with you a pair of mittens, and a pair of warm socks. And if you are going to a hot climate, you should take with you light clothing, such as linen or cotton, and a pair of shoes or slippers that will be comfortable. You should also take with you a pair of sunglasses, and a sunshade or parasol, that you may protect your eyes from the sun.

P: [Say, what? ...] Are sunglasses available in the seventeenth century?

M-GPT: And what if all the World should be soe blinded with their glasses that they could not see one another, but should runne upon one another as Blind Men doe upon one another and fall upon one another to the great confusion of all? Yet would wee not say that it was a Cure for the Blindeness of the World. And yet I have heard of some such thing, that there were men who did make Glasses for the Eyes of the People to look through, and these were called Sunglaisses: But I think this is not the way to cure Blindness, nor to bring people to see the Light of God. No, no, let them not makes Glasses for the Eyes of the People, but let them rather turn their eyes to the Sun of Righteousnesse. And let them look upon the Glory of God, and they shall be saved. For if they look upon the Glory of the Lord, they shall be converted, and shall see the light of their own Salvation. It is said of them that looked into the Glory of God, that their faces did shine, as Moses's face did when he came down from Mount Sinai. [Well, ask a silly question ... Perhaps I'll pack some sunnies anyway; Salvation might wait]

P: Does a lady need a servant to travel with? [Back to more prosaic matters. And no, Mr. P is not my Servant but his own Man]

M-GPT: No, a lady does not need a servant to travel with. She can travel independently, and take care of herself. However, if she wishes to have the assistance of a servant, she can engage one. The servant can assist her in packing, dressing, and attending to her needs. But if she is an independent woman, she can travel alone, and take care of herself.

P: Should a man earn a living? [Just a thought, whilst on the topic of engaging servants]

M-GPT: It is not meet that any one should starve, and that he may have his living; for in this case we may say, as was said of a man who was much troubled with a toothache, He hath no living. And it is true, if a man have a living, he must either live by his own labour or else be maintained by another. Therefore it is the duty of every man to provide for himself, and not to be idle. It is true, some men are able to live without working, because they have money laid up; but such persons do not make their livings by their own labour; and so it is a duty for all men to get their livings by their own labour. And therefore it is the duty of a man to work, and not to be idle.

P: If it is the duty of a man to work, what do you say to one who wishes to take a Grand Tour?

M-GPT: A man who wishes to take a grand tour is not neglecting his duty. He is merely following the example of other men who have taken similar tours, and who have returned home with valuable information, which they have used to their advantage. A grand tour is a means of obtaining a knowledge of the world, and of improving one's mind. It is also a means of seeing different countries, and of learning the manners and customs of the people. If a man has the means of taking a grand tour, and the inclination to do so, he should not be prevented by any one from doing so.

P: [Speaking of improving one's mind ...] Can you recommend an Improving Read for a lady?

M-GPT: There are many books that are good for a lady to read, both for their amusement and instruction. One book that is very good is The Book of Common Prayer, which contains prayers that are suitable for all occasions, and which are very useful for ladies to read. Another book that is good for ladies to read is The Art of Dying Well, which teaches them how to die well, and how to prepare for death. There are also many other books that are good for ladies to read, and which will help them to improve their minds, and to become better Christians. 

If you can judge a Man by the holiday reading he recommends then I shall give Mr. MonadGPT rather a wide berth from now. Opportunistic proselytiser!

Image credit: Flying With Hands


  1. Don't worry, I speak French and will lend you mine. Otherwise, strange machines will do instant translations in all languages.

    1. Oh, dear Cro, if only it were so easy to borrow another's Babel fish!

  2. A man who wishes to take a grand tour is not neglecting his duty. He is merely following the example of other men who have taken similar tours, and who have returned home with valuable information. A grand tour is a means of obtaining a knowledge of the world, a means of seeing different countries, and of learning the customs of the people.
    I agree totally, but why specify "a man"?

    1. "A man", dear Hels, was my amused taking up the lead left by the solemn decree that a man's duty was to work and not lay idle. And anyways, I didn't want to discombobulate my lofty C17th sage with my Modern Ways.

  3. Women could either elope with a lover or become a governess with a travelling family to experience The Grand Tour and some dressed as men ..... would any of those options suit Pip ? XXXX

    1. Such excellent suggestion, dear Jackie! Although I baulk at the idea of a child-wrangling governess and having to take my tea in the lonely limbo between not-servant and not-family and whatnot, and Mr. P might have something to say about my eloping with a rival, so I may just have to pack some trousers and a monocle and pair of handsome fake moustaches. xx

  4. The Grand Tour was an opportunity for some to be outrageous. Only saying! (And if you visit Dorset, my dear, I shall serve you afternoon tea.)

    1. Oh, dear Rosemary, thank you! I should look forward to that.

  5. yes yes yes I haven't been to blogs in a while and I was glad to see you posting !

  6. Dear Pip, if you go in Australian winter time - wouldn't you find the opposite season here in Europe? Then you need sun glasses!
    "The Art of Dying Well" - sorry, if you go to France you should take Volume Two: "The Art of Dyeing Well" - especially in Paris, they have very good coiffeurs! (I only let them cut - many a coiffeur has refused to dye my silver hair).
    If you will wait till you have learned to speak French fluently, I recommend to do the travel on a steamer - much more time!
    By the way: is there any hope that you might come to Germany, especially Berlin???

    1. Dearest Britta, we are taking our northern hemisphere jaunt in February, deepest winter, in my book. It's only a little time away, a Grand Tour was totally gilding the lily, and unfortunately Germany will not feature. Such a pity, for I'm dying to go again (artfully dyeing only the eyebrows beforehand, hahah) and would love to visit you one day! Of course, steamer travel would be my preferred mode of leisurely transport, closely followed by dirigible.

  7. (The last question was my shy way of sending you and Mr. P. a serious invitation - I would be so pleased!)


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