« VorigeDoorgaan »
them for enjoying Retirement
N° 57. TUESDAY, AUGUST 10, 1779.
No thinking man will deny, that travelling into foreign countries is, in certain situations, attended with many and great advantages. It polishes the manners of the courtier, enlarges the views of the statesman, and furnishes the philosopher with a more extensive field of observation, and enables him to form more certain conclusions with regard to the nature and character of man, At the same time, I have often been disposed to doubt, how far it is an eligible thing for a private gentleman, without talents and inclination for public life, to spend much of his time abroad, to acquire a relish for foreign manners, and a taste for the society of a set of men, with whom neither his station nor his fortune entitle him to associate in the after-part of his life. The following letter on this subject may perhaps be ago ceptable
to my readers.
TO THE AUTHOR OF THE MIRROR.
Most of your predecessors have favoured the publie with speculations on travelling; and they have been at pains to point out the abuses of it that from time to time have prevailed among us.
In the Spectator, the absurdity of a fond mother and mother's own son going together to make the tour of Europe, in order to learn men and things, is exposed in a very masterly manner. If I have not been misinformed, that admirable essay was the production of a young man, who afterwards, by his great talents and eminent virtues, added dignity to the highest office in the law of England, which he filled many years with the entire approbation of all good men.
In the World, the folly of sending an ignorant booby to travel, who looked with contempt on the French and Italians, because they did not speak English, is held up to ridicule in a vein of wit, and with an elegance of expression, that mark the compositions of the Earl of Chesterfield.
A correspondent in your own paper has pointed out the fatal effects of a practice, unknown till within these few years, of sending boys to foreign schools, or academies, where, according to his account of the matter, they learn nothing but vice and folly.
Although travelling has proved equally fatal to me, my case is very different from any of those I have mentioned: I shall, therefore, take the liberty to give an account of myself, from which you
and your readers will be best able to judge, whether making what is called the grand tour, be an adviseable thing for persons in my circumstances and situation,
I am the only son of a gentleman of fortune and family. My father, who was himself a man of letters, wished to give me a liberal education, and was desirous to unite the solidity of the ancient system with that ease and grace, which, of late, have been cultivated so much, and which, by some, have been thought the most essential of all acquirements. Soon after my twentieth
father died, leaving me possessed of a family estate of a thousand pounds a-year, and (I hope I may say it without vanity) with as great a share of knowledge as any of my contemporaries could boast of. The tour of Europe was the only thing wanting to complete my education. Intimately acquainted with the celebrated characters of antiquity, and an enthusiastic admirer of their virtues, I longed to visit Italy,
see the spot where Scipio triumphed, where Cæsar fell, where Cicero harangued. Full of these ideas, I set out on my travels; and, after passing some time in France, I proceeded to Rome. For a while, antiquity was my great object, and every remain of Roman greatness attracted my attention. Afterwards music, of which I had always been a lover, and painting, for which I acquired a taste in Italy, occupied much of my time; but, whilst engaged in these favourite pursuits, I did not neglect any opportunity of mingling in society with the natives, and of observing their manners and customs. I lived too on the most intimate footing with the British at the different courts I visited; and I doubted not that the friendships I then formed with men of the first distinction in my own country, would be as lasting as they appeared to be warm and sincere. If the pleasures in which we indulged, and which by degrees, came to occupy almost the whole of my time, sometimes bordered on the licentious, they were at least at