Monday, July 14, 2008

fatherly travel advice

I found some very good, indeed timeless, travel advice in the Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents (A Selection) edited by S.R. Mealing (Carleton Library Series) which I took with me on a recent trip to Quebec City: excerpts follow (stripped of racist language used to refer to aboriginal people), and as Father Brébeuf, notes, the lessons are easy, but not so easily put into practice.


INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE FATHERS
OF OUR SOCIETY
WHO SHALL BE SENT TO THE HURONS

(from the Relation for 1637,
by Father Jean de Br
ébeuf)

* * * *


  • You must be prompt in embarking and disembarking....
  • You must so conduct yourself as not to be at all troublesome
  • It is not well to ask many questions... Silence is a good equipment at such a time.
  • You must bear their imperfections without saying a word, yes, even without seeming to notice them. Even if it be necessary to criticise anything, it must be done modestly, and with words and signs which evince love and not aversion. In short, you must try to be, and to appear, always cheerful....
  • Do not undertake anything unless you desire to continue it; for example, do not begin to paddle unless you are inclined to continue paddling.
  • Finally understand that [people] will retain the same opinion of you in their own country that they will have formed on the way; and one who has passed for an irritable and troublesome person will have considerable difficulty afterwards in removing this opinion.
  • This is a lesson which is easy to learn, but very difficult to put into practice....
You would have to ask my travel partner whether I succeeded in coming close to the ideals outlined 371 years ago. In the meantime, happy trails!

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