Page images

ing his travels, mix the study of men with that of books, and continue to make progress in the latter, when the greater part of his time is dedicated to the former. But that such a taste will, for the first time, spring up in the breast of a boy of sixteen or seveenteen, amidst the dissipation of theatres, reviews, processions, balls, and assemblies, is of all things the least probable.

Others, who think lightly of the importance of what is usually called science to a young man of rank and fortune, still contend, that a knowledge of history, which they admit may be of some use even to men of forlune, can certainly be acquired during the years of travelling. But what sort of a knowledge will it be which a boy, in such a situation, will acquire ? Not that which Lord Bolingbroke calls philosophy, teaching by examples, a proper conduct in the various situations of public and private life, but merely a succession of reigns, of battles, and sieges, stored up in the memory without reflection or application. I remember a young gentleman, whom a strong and retentive memory of such events often set a prating very mal-a-propos; one of his companions expressed much surprise at his knowledge, and wondered how he had laid up such a store. Why, truly,' replied he, with frankness, • it is all owing to my bungling blockhead of a valet, who takes up such an unconscionable time in dressing my hair, that I am glad to read to keep me from fretting; and as there are no newspapers, or magazines, to be had in this country, I have been driven to history, which answers nearly as well.

But it sometimes happens, that young men who are far behind their contemporaries in every kind of literature, are wonderfully advanced in the knowledge of the town, so as to vie with the oldest professors in London, and endanger their own health by the ardour of their application. The sooner such premature youths are separated from the connections they have formed in the metropolis, the better; and as it will not be easy to persuade them to live in any other part of Great Britain, it will be necessary


[ocr errors]


to send them abroad. But, instead of being carried to courts and capitals, the best plan for them will be, to fix them in some provincial town of France or Switzerland, where they may have a chance of improving, not so much by new attainments, as by unlearning or forgetting what they have already acquired.

After a young man has employed his time to advantage at a public school, and has continued his application to various branches of science till the age of twenty, you ask, what are the advantages he is likely to reap from a tour abroad?

He will see mankind more at large, and in numberless situations and points of view, in which they cannot appear in Great Britain, or any one country. By comparing the various customs and usages, and hearing the received opinions of different countries, his mind will be enlarged, He will be enabled to correct the theoretical notions he may have formed of human nature, by the practical knowledge of men. By contemplating their various religions, laws, and government, in action, as it were, and observing the effects they produce on the minds and characters of the people, he will be able to form a juster estimate of their value than otherwise he could have done. He will see the natives of other countries, not as he sees them in England, mere idle spectators, but busily employed in their various characters, as actors on their own proper stage. He will gradually improve in the knowledge of charucter, not of Englishmen only, but of men in general; he will cease to be deceived either by the varnish with which men are apt to heighten their own actions, or the dark colours in which they, too often, paint those of others. He will learn to distinguish the real from the ostensible motive of men's words and behaviour. Finally, by being received with hospitality, conversing familiarly, and liv, ing in the reciprocal exchange of good offices with those whom he considered as enemies, or in some unfavourable point of view, the sphere of his benevolence and goodwill to his brethren of mankind will gradually enlarge.

His friendships extending beyond the limits of his own country, will embrace characters congenial with his own in other nations. Seas, mountains, rivers, are geographi

. cal boundaries, but never limited the good-will or esteem of one liberal mind. As for his manner, though it will probably not be so janty as if he had been bred in France from his earliest youth, yet that also will in some degree be improved. However persuaded he may be of the advantages en

, joyed by the people of England, he will see the harshness and impropriety of insulting the natives of other countries with an ostentatious enumeration of those advantages; he will perceive how odious those travellers make themselves, who laugh at the religion, ridicule the customs, and insult the police of the countries through which they pass, and who never fail to insinuate to the inhabitants that they are all slaves and bigots. Such bold Britons we have sometimes met with, fighting their way through Europe, who, by their continued broils and disputes, would lead one to imagine that the angel of the Lord had pronounced on each of them the same denunciation which he did on Ishmael the son of Abraham, by his handmaid Hagar.

6 And he will be a wild man, and his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him.'* If the same unsocial disposition should creep into our politics, it might arm all the powers in Europe against Great Britain, before she gets clear of her unhappy contest with America. A young man, whose mind has been formed as it ought, before he goes abroad, when he sees many individuals preserve personal dignity in spite of arbitrary government, an independent mind amidst poverty, liberal and philosophic sentiments amidst bigotry and superstition ; must naturally have the highest esteem for such characters, and allow them more merit than those even of his own country, who think and act in the same manner in less unfavourable circumstances. Besides these advantages, a young man of fortune, by

• Vide Genesis, chap. xvi, verse 12.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

spending a few years abroad, will gratify a natural and laudable curiosity, and pass a certain portion of his life in an agreeable manner. He will form an acquaintance with that boasted nation, whose superior taste and politeness are universally acknowledged; whose fashions and language are adopted by all Europe ; and who, in science, power, and commerce, are the rivals of Great Britain. He will have opportunities of observing the political constitution of the German empire; that complex body, formed by a confederacy of princes, ecclesiastics, and free ci. ties, comprehending countries of vast extent, inhabited by a hardy race of men, distinguished for solid sense and integrity, 'who, without having equalled their sprightlier neighbours in works of taste or imagination, have shewn what prodigious efforts of application the human mind is capable of in the severest and least amusing studies, and whose armies exhibit at present the most perfect models of military discipline. In contemplating these, he will naturally consider, whether those armies tend most to the aggrandizement of the monarch, or to defend or preserve any thing to the people who maintain them, and the soldiers who compose them, equivalent to the vast expense of money, and the still greater quantity of misery which they occasion.

Viewing the remains of Roman taste and magnificence, he will feel a thousand emotions of the most interesting nature, while those whose minds are not, like his, stored with classical knowledge, gage with tasteless wonder, or phlegmatic indifference ; and, exclusive of those monuments of antiquity, he will naturally desire to be acquainted with the present inhabitants of a country, which at different periods has produced men who, by one means or another, have distinguished themselves so eminently from their contemporaries of other nations. At one period, having subdued the world by the wisdom and firmness of their councils, and the disciplined vigour of their armies, Rome became at once the seat of empire, learning, and the arts.

[ocr errors]

After the northern barbarians had destroyed the overgrown

fabric of Roman power, a new empire, of a more singular nature, gradually arose from its ruins, artfully extending its influence over the minds of men, till the princes of Europe were at length as much controlled by the bulls of the Vatican, as their ancestors had been by the decrees of the senate.

Commerce also, which rapine and slaughter had frightened from Europe, returned, and joined with superstition in drawing the riches of all the neighbouring nations to Italy. And, at a subsequent period, learning, bursting through the clouds of ignorance which overshadowed mankind, again shope forth in the same country, bringing in her train, poetry, painting, sculpture, and music, all of which have been cultivated with the greatest success; and the three last brought, by the inhabitants of this country, to a degree of excellence unequalled by the natives of any other country of the world. When to these considerations we add, that there is reason to believe that this coun, try had arrived at a greater degree of perfection in the arts before the beginning of the Roman republic, we are almost tempted to believe, that local and physical causes have a considerable influence in rendering the mind more acute in this country of Italy, than any where else; and that if the infinite political disadvantages under which it labours were removed, and the whole of this peninsula united in one state, it would again resume its superiority over other nations.

Lastly, by visiting other countries, a subject of Great Britain will acquire a greater esteem than ever for the constitution of his own. Freed from vulgar prejudices, he will perceive, that the blessings and advantages which his countrymen enjoy, do not flow from their superiority in wisdom, courage, or virtue, over the other nations of the world, but, in some degree, from the peculiarity of their situation in an island ; and, above all, from those just and equitable laws which secure property, that mild free government, which abhors tyranny, protects the

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »