Tom’s Montreuil and a Question

The Citadel Ramparts this morning, after Bill Brandt

“Montrell is a strong walled towne, situate on a hill, having a very strong fortification on the toppe thereof, invironed with a strong wall. There are two gates at the entrance to the towne, at each whereof there is a guarde of souldiers that examined us before we came into the towne. The principall Church of the towne is our Ladies Church. Our Hostesse of Montrel prayed the Virgin Mary to blesse me, because she thought I was a Papist, but when shee understood I was a Protestant, shee seemed to pitty me.”

Tom is a polemicist for the Protestant way, and a geek for the Classics – he’s allowed, it was one of the big things then, Baroquely post-Renaissance and very Wiki-friendly. In a sense his Crudities do set a template for much travel writing: disengaged by nationalism, it arrives, takes and often makes a joke or two. Subjective superiority is all, damn the context. In Tom’s case his raw enthusiasm – which hasn’t emerged yet, five days in – overwhelms much of his observation, which makes it all quite lovely. For Tom literally everything was brand new, and definitely not viewable on Google Earth.

But I am aware that my kind of “knowing” project has severe responsibilities: to honesty at the very least. Tom’s view appears to be that of well-educated Jacobean Roast Beef, but I’m already nagged – have been for months – by what on earth he was really after on this journey. Others who travelled came for trade, diplomacy, education, even spying. But they would go home with glory (as long as they hadn’t turned Catholic, Gay, or Both), and their careers be made. Tom was “Betwixt” all that.

Tom got home, hummed and hawed, finally wrote up an account, invented modern travel writing, and then…left again.

What was it?

About robhunt510

Writer, artist
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