Defining Travel and Travels

Samuel Johnson, from A Dictionary of the English Language (1755)

In the preface to his Dictionary of the English Language (1755), Samuel Johnson comments on the effects that travel and trade have upon the evolution of language. In Johnson's view, the new global mingling of languages that results from commercial and leisured travel represents nothing less than an infectious linguistic threat to the English language:

Total and sudden transformations of a language seldom happen; conquests and migrations are now very rare: but there are other causes of change, which, though slow in their operation, and invisible in their progress, are perhaps as much superior to human resistance as the revolutions of the sky, or intumescence of the tide. Commerce, however necessary, however lucrative, as it depraves the manners, corrupts the language; they that have frequent intercourse with strangers, to whom they endeavor to accommodate themselves, must in time learn a mingled dialect, like the jargon which serves the traffickers on the Mediterranean and Indian coasts. This will not always be confined to the exchange, the warehouse, or the port, but will be communicated by degrees to other ranks of the people, and be at last incorporated with the current speech.

The words shown below — citizen, civilize, colony, commerce, curiosity, nation, national, native, pirate, privateer, savage, tour, trade, translation, travel, travels, view, voyage — represent a select lexicon that tells us something about the way in which eighteenth-century readers understood key concepts relating to travel and trade.

In Johnson's Dictionary, each word is not only defined but also illustrated by the inclusion of "Examples from the best Writers." Thus, these words are not just associated with travel and trade; they are frequently defined by the way that writers in the eighteenth century and earlier eras used them in travel narratives, such as Sir Walter Raleigh's Historie of the World (1614). In turn, the examples furnished by these writers and Johnson's own explanations in the Dictionary continued to shape the way the British people perceived the objects of travel, trade, and empire.

[A Select Lexicon of Words Relating to Travel and Trade]

CI´TIZEN. n.s. [civis, Lat. citoyen, French.]

1.  A freeman of a city; not a foreigner; not a slave.

All inhabitants within these walls are not properly citizens, but only such as are called freemen.
                                    Raleigh's Hist. World.

2.  A townsman; a man of trade; not a gentleman.

When he speaks not like a citizen,
You find him like a soldier.
                                    Shakespeare's Coriolanus.

3.  An inhabitant; a dweller in any place.

Far from noisy Rome, secure, he lives;
And one more citizen to Sibyl gives.
                                    Dryden's Juvenal.


To CI´VILIZE. v.a. [from civil.] To reclaim from savageness and brutality; to instruct in the arts of regular life.

We send the graces and the muses forth,
To civilize and to instruct the North.
                                    Waller.

Musaeus first, then Orpheus civilize
Mankind, and gave the world their deities.
                                    Denham.

Amongst those who are counted the civilized part of mankind, this original law of nature still takes place.
                                    Locke.

Osiris, or the Bacchus of the ancients, is reported to have civilized the Indians, and reigned amongst them fifty-two years.
                                    Arbuthnot on Coins.


CO´LONY. n.s. [colonia, Latin]

1.  A body of people drawn from the mother-country to inhabit some distant place.

To these new inhabitants and colonies he gave the same law under which they were born and bred.
                                    Spenser on Ireland.

Rooting out these two rebellious septs, he placed English colonies in their rooms.
                                    Davies on Ireland.

Osiris, or the Bacchus of the ancients, is reported to have civilized the Indians, planting colonies and building cities.
                                    Arbuthnot on Coins.

2.  The country planted; a plantation.

The rising city, which from far you see,
Is Carthage; and a Trojan colony.
                                    Dryd. Virg. Aen.


CO´MMERCE. n.s. [commercium, Latin. It was anciently accented on the last syllable.] Intercourse; exchange of one thing for another; interchange of any thing; trade; traffick.

Places of publick resort being thus provided, our repair thither is especially for mutual conference, and, as it were, commerce to be had between God and us.
                                    Hooker, b.v.s., 17.

How could communities,
Degrees in schools, and brotherhoods in cities,
Peaceful commerce from dividable shores,
But by degree stand in authentick place?
                                    Sh. Troil. and Cress.

Instructed ships shall sail to quick commerce,
By which remotest regions are ally'd;
Which makes one city of the universe,
Where some may gain, and all may be supply'd.
                                    Dryden.

These people had not any commerce with the other known parts of the world.
                                    Tillotson.

In any country, that hath commerce with the rest of the world, it is almost impossible now to be without the use of silver coin.
                                    Locke.


CURIO´SITY. n.s. [from curious.]

1.  Inquisitiveness; inclination to enquiry.

2.  Nicety; delicacy.

When thou wast in thy gilt, and thy perfume, they mockt thee for too much curiosity; in thy rags thou knowest none, but art despised for the contrary.
                                    Shakespeare's Timon.

3.  Accuracy; exactness.

Qualities are so weighed, that curiosity in neither can make choice of either's moiety.
                                    Shakespeare's King Lear.

Our eyes and senses, however armed or assisted, are too gross to discern the curiosity of the workmanship of nature.
                                    Ray on the Creation.

4.  An act of curiosity; nice experiment.

There hath been practised also a curiosity, to set a tree upon the north-side of a wall, and, at a little height, to draw it through the wall, and spread it upon the south-side; conceiving that the root and lower part of the stock should enjoy the freshness of the shade, and the upper boughs and fruit, the comfort of the sun; but it sorted not.
                                    Bacon's Nat. History.

5.  An object of curiosity; rarity.

We took a ramble together to see the curiosities of this great town.
                                    Addison's Freeholder, No. 47.


NA´TION. n.s. [nation, Fr. natio, Latin.] A people distinguished from another people; generally by their language, original, or government.

If Edward III had prospered in his French wars, and peopled with English the towns which he won, as he began at Calais driving out the French, his successors holding the same course, would have filled all France with our nation.
                                    Ral.

A nation properly signifies a great number of families derived from the same blood, born in the same country, and living under the same government.
                                    Temple.


NA´TIONAL. adj. [national, Fr. from nation.]

1.  Publick; general; not private; not particular.

They in their earthly Canaan plac'd,
Long time shall dwell and prosper: but when sins
National interrupt their public peace.
                                    Milton's P. Lost.

Such a national devotion inspires men with sentiments of religious gratitude, and swells their hearts with joy and exultation.
                                    Addison's Freeholder, No. 49.

The astonishing victories our armies have been crowned with, were in some measure the blessings returned upon that national charity which has been so conspicuous.
                                    Addison.

God, in the execution of his judgments, never visits a people with public and general calamities, but where their sins are public and national too.
                                    Roger's Sermons.

2.  Bigotted to one's own country.


NA´TIVE. adj. [nativus, Latin; natif-ve, Fr.] Produced by nature; natural, not artificial.

She more sweet than any bird on bough,
Would oftentimes amongst them bear a part,
And strive to pass, as she could well enough,
Their native musick by her skilful art.
                                    Fairy Q. b. ii.

This doctrine doth not enter by the ear,
But of itself is native in the breast.
                                    Davies.

2.  Natural; such as is according to nature.

The members retired to their homes, reassumed the native sedateness of their temper.
                                    Swift.

3.  Conferred by birth.

But ours is a privilege ancient and native,
Hangs not on an ordinance, or power legislative;
And first, 'tis to speak whatever we please.
                                    Denham.

4.  Relating to the birth; pertaining to the time or place of birth.

If these men have defeated the law, and outrun native punishment; though they can outstrip men they have no wings to fly from God.
                                    Shakespeare's Henry V.

Many of our bodies shall, no doubt,
Find native graves.
                                    Shakes. Hen. V.

5.  Original; natural.

Have I now seen death? is this the way
I must return to native dust? O sight
Of terror, foul, and ugly to behold.
                                    Milt. Par. Lost.


[NA]´TIVE. n.s.

1.  One born in any place; original inhabitant.

Th'accusation,
All cause unborn, could never be the native
Of our so frank donation.
                                    Shakespeare's Coriolanus.

Make no extirpation of the natives, under pretence of planting religion, God surely will no way be pleased with such sacrifices.
                                    Bacon's Advice to Villiers.

Tully, the humble mushroom scarcely known,
The lowly native of a country town.
                                    Dryden's Juv.

There stood a monument to Tacitus the historian, to the emperors Tacitus and Florianus, all natives of the place.
                                    Addison on Italy.


PI´RATE. n.s. [pirata, Lat., pirate, Fr.]

1.  A sea-robber.

Wrangling pirates that fall out
In sharing that which you have pill'd from me.
                                    Shakesp.

Pirates all nations are to prosecute, not so much in the right of their own fears, as upon the band of human society.
                                    Bacon.

Relate, if business or the thirst of gain
Engage your journey o'er the pathless main,
Where savage pirates seek through seas unknown
The lives of others, vent'rous of their own.
                                    Pope.

2.  Any robber; particularly a bookseller who seizes the copies of other men.


PRI´VATEER. n.s. [from private.] A ship fitted out by private men to plunder enemies.

He is at no charge for a fleet, further than providing privateers, wherewith his subjects carry on a pyratical war at their own expence.
                                    Swift's Miscellanies.


SA´VAGE. n.s. [from the adjective.] A man untaught and uncivilized; a barbarian.

Long after these times were they but savages.
                                    Raleigh.

The seditious lived by rapine and ruin of all the country, omitting nothing of that which savages, enraged in the height of their unruly behaviour, do commit.
                                    Hayward.

To deprive us of metals is to make us mere savages; to change our corn for the old Arcadian diet, our houses and cities for dens and caves, and our clothing for skins of beasts: 'tis to bereave us of all arts and sciences, nay, of revealed religion.
                                    Bentley.


TOUR n.s. [tour, French.]

1.  Ramble; a roving journey.

I made the tour of all the king's palaces.
                                    Addison.

Were it permitted, he'd make the tour of the whole system of the sun.
                                    Arbuthnot and Pope's Mart. Scrib.

2.  Turn; revolution. In both these senses it is rather French than English.

First Ptolemy his scheme celestial wrought,
And of machines a wild provision brought;
Orbs centrick and eccentrick he prepares,
Cycles and epicycles, solid spheres
In order plac'd, and with bright globes inlaid,
To solve the tours by heavenly bodies made.
                                    Blackmore.

3.  In Milton it is probably tow'r; soar; elevation.

The bird of Jove stoop'd from his airy tour,
Two birds of gayest plume before him drove.
                                    Milton.


TRADE. n.s. [tratto, Italian.]

1.  Traffick; commerce; exchange of goods for other goods; or for money.

Whosoever commands the sea, commands the trade; whosoever commands the trade of the world, commands the riches of the world, and consequently the world itself.
                                    Ral.

Trade increases in one place and decays in another.
                                    Temple.

2.  Occupation; particular employment whether manual or mercantile, distinguished from the liberal arts or learned professions.

Appoint to every one that is not able to live of his freehold a certain trade of life; the which trade he shall be bound to follow.
                                    Spenser on Ireland.

How dizzy! half way down
Hangs one that gathers samphire, dreadful trade.
                                    Shakesp.

I'll mountebank their loves, and come home belov'd.
Of all the trades in Rome.
                                    Shakesp. Coriolanus.

Fear and piety,
Instruction, manners, mysteries, and trades,
Decline to your confounding contraries.
                                    Shakespeare.

The rude Equicolae,
Hunting their sport, and plund'ring was their trade.
                                    Dryd.

Fight under him; there's plunder to be had;
A captain is a very gainful trade.
                                    Dryden's Juv.

* * *


TRANSLA´TION. n.s. [translatio, Lat. translation, Fr.]

1.  Removal; act of removing.

His disease was an asthma; the cause a metastasis or translation of humours from his joints to his lungs.
                                    Harvey.

* * *

3.  The act of turning into another language; interpretation.

A book of his travels hath been honoured with translation into many languages.
                                    Brown's Vulgar Errors, b. i.

Nor ought a genius less than his that writ,
Attempt translation; for transplanted wit,
All the defects of air and soil doth share,
And colder brains like colder climates are.
                                    Denham.

4.  Something made by translation; version.

Of both translations, the better I acknowledge that which cometh nearer to the very letter of the very original verity.
                                    Hooker, b. v.


TRA´VEL. n.s. [travail, Fr. from the noun.]

1.  Journey; act of passing from place to place.

Love had cut him short,
Confin'd within the purlieus of his court.
Three miles he went, nor farther could retreat,
His travels ended at his country-seat.
                                    Dryden.

Mingled send into the dance
Moments fraught with all the treasures,
Which thy eastern travel views.
                                    Prior.

2.  Journey of curiosity or instruction.

Let him spend his time no more at home,
Which would be great impeachment to his age,
In having known no travel in his youth.
                                    Shakespeare.

Travel in the younger sort is a part of education; in the elder a part of experience.
                                    Bacon's Essays, No. 18.

A man not enlightened by travel of reflexion, grows as fond of arbitrary power, to which he hath been used, as of barren countries, in which he has been born and bred.
                                    Addis.

* * *


TRAVELS. Account of occurrences and observations of a journey into foreign parts.

A book of his travels hath been honoured with the translation of many languages.
                                    Brown's Vulgar Errours.

Histories engage the soul by sensible occurrences; as also voyages, travels, and accounts of countries.
                                    Watts.


VIEW. n.s. [from the verb.]

1.  Prospect.

You should tread a course
Pretty, and full of view; yea, haply, near
The residence of Posthumus.
                                    Shakespeare, Cymbeline.

Vast and indefinite views, which drown all apprehensions of the uttermost objects, are condemned by good authors.
                                    Wotton.

The walls of Pluto's palace are in view.
                                    Dryden.

Cut wide views through mountains to the plain,
You'll wish your hill, or shelter'd hill again.
                                    Pope.

2.  Sight; power of beholding.

Some safer resolution I've in view.
                                    Milton.

I go, to take for ever from your view,
Both the lov'd object, and the hated too.
                                    Dryden.

These things duly weighed, will give us a clear view into the state of human liberty.
                                    Locke.

Instruct me other joys to prize,
With other beauties charm my partial eyes;
Full in my view set all the bright abode,
And make my soul quit Abelard for God.
                                    Pope.

3.  Act of seeing.

Th'unexpected sound
Of dogs and men, his wakeful ear does wound;
Willing to think th'illusions of his fear
Had giv'n this false alarm; but straight his view
Confirms that more than all he fears is true.
                                    Denham.

Objects near our view are thought greater than those of a larger size, that are more remote.
                                    Locke.

4.  Sight; eye.

She was not much struck with those objects that now presented themselves to her view.
                                    Female Quixote.

5.  Survey; examination by the eye.

Time never will renew,
While we too far the pleasing path pursue,
Surveying nature with too nice a view.
                                    Dryden.

6.  Intellectual survey.

If the mind has made this inference by finding out the intermediate ideas, and taking a view of the connection of them, it has proceeded rationally.
                                    Locke.

7.  Space that may be taken in by the eye; reach of sight.

The fame through all the neighb'ring nations flew,
When now the Trojan navy was in view.
                                    Dryden.

8.  Appearance; show.

In that accomplish'd mind,
Helpt by the night, new graces find;
Which, by the splendour of her view,
Dazzl'd before we never knew.
                                    Waller.

9.  Display; exhibition to the sight or mind.

To give a right view of this mistaken part of liberty, would any one be a changeling, because he is less determined by wise considerations than a wise man?
                                    Locke.

10.  Prospect of interest.

No man sets himself about any thing, but upon some view or other, which serves him for a reason.
                                    Locke.

11.  Intention; design.

He who sojourns in a foreign country, refers what he sees to the state of things at home; with that view he makes all his reflections.
                                    Atterbury.

With a view to commerce, in returning from his expedition against the Parthians, he passed through Egypt.
                                    Arbuthnot.


VOY´AGE. n.s. [voyage, Fr.]

1.  A travel by sea.

Guyon forward 'gan his voyage make,
With his black palmer, that him guided still.
                                    Fairy Queen.

Our ships went sundry voyages, as well to the pillars of Hercules, as to other parts in the Atlantick and Mediterranean seas.

This great man acted like an able pilot in a long voyage; contented to sit in the cabin when the winds were allay'd, but ready to resume the helm when the storm arose.
                                    Prior.

2.  Course; attempt; undertaking. A low phrase.

If he shou'd intent his voyage towards my wife, I wou'd turn her loose to him; and what he gets more of her than sharp words, let it lie on my head.
                                    Shakespeare.

If you make your voyage upon her, and prevail, I am no further your enemy.
                                    Shakesp. Cymbeline.

3.  The practice of travelling.

All nations have interknowledge of one another, by voyage into foreign parts, or strangers that come to them.
                                    Bacon.


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