How to Find Your Way

The how-to books in this section aimed to orient their users as they made their way in the world, geographically, culturally, professionally or socially. Willem Lodewycksz's history of Dutch travel to the East Indies (Item 1) combines highly practical geographical information (such as representations of specific islands in the archipelago for the use of sailors navigating dangerous straits) with cultural descriptions useful to both real and armchair travelers.

Making one's way at home also required instruction. An offshoot of the conduct manual (see How to Be Somebody section), Thomas Powell's early career guide, Tom of All Trades (Item 2), maps out a social and economic terrain for the aspiring class. By cataloguing and describing possible occupations and "pathways to preferment," it gives the aspiring outsider an insider's view and a way to imagine social mobility. That said, while the book offers an array of career options, its distinctions also work to re-inscribe the occupational hierarchies that could exclude this or that Tom from the preferment promised.

Devotional manuals are designed, of course, to help readers find their ways to the ultimate reward: God. Jeremy Taylor's immensely popular devotional (Item 3), a late example of the genre, strikingly foregrounds the relationship between theological ideals and quotidian practice: by fitting specific prayers "to the seueral Days of the Week," his readers orient themselves beyond time. Pierre Berault's book (not Illustrated) moves the reader in the obverse direction. Nominally a devotional, it is also a language manual, printing all of its prayers in English and French on opposing pages. Indeed, Berault uses the book's front flyleaf to advertise his skills as a language tutor, and to provide directions to the house where he gave Latin and French lessons. Readers of his book could orient themselves to the divine, in order then to perfect a worldly skill.

In contrast to how-to manuals that offered particular maps for their readers to follow and perfect through their own experience, the practical experiments proposed in Francis Bacon's posthumously published Sylva Sylvarum (Item 4) required his readers to orient themselves epistemologically, exploring precisely the how of the how-to book. A methodical reflection on the instructional manual, this is a text that starts in a "heap of particulars" and, through orientation, moves the reader toward scientific theory.

Willem Lodewycksz (fl. 1598).

Premier Livre De L'Histoire De La Navigation Avx Indes Orientales, Par Les Hollandois.
Amsterdam: chez Cornille Nicolas, 1609.

Thomas Powell (c. 1572- c. 1635).

 Tom of All Trades. Or The Plaine Path-way to Preferment.
London: by B. Alsop and T. Fawcet, for Benjamen Fisher, 1631.

Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667).

The Golden Grove. A Choice Manual, Containing What is to be Believed, Practiced and Desired or Prayed for; the Prayers being fitted to the several Days of the Week.
London: for J. M. for R. Royston, 1685.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626).

Sylva Sylvarvm: Or, A Naturall Historie. In Ten Centvries.
London: by J. H. for William Lee, 1628.