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No. 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 acceptable to
TO THE AUTHOR OF THE MIRROR.
SIR, 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
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.
În 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
your readers will be best able to judge whether making what is called the grand tour, be an advisable 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 de-
Various reasons, which it is needless now to mention, at length constrained me to return home. As I
approached my seat in the county of —-, I felt a tender satisfaction at the thought of revisiting those scenes where I had spent so many happy days in the
early morn of life, and of seeing again the companions of my youthful sports, many of whom I knew had settled in the country, and lived on their estates in my neighbourhood. My arrival was no sooner known than they flocked to welcome me home. The friends of my father, and their sons, my old companions, were equally sincere and warm in their compliments; but though I was pleased with their attachment, I could not help being disgusted with the blunt plainness of their manners. Their conversation usually turned on subjects in which I could not possibly be interested. The old got into keen political debate, or dissertations on farming; and the young talked over their last fox-chase, or recited the parti. culars of their last debauch. If I attempted to give the conversation a different turn, they remained silent, and were altogether incapable to talk of those subjects on which I had been accustomed to think and to speak. If I mentioned the Gabrielli, or the Mignotti, they were as much at a loss as I was when they joined in praising the notes of Juno or of Jowler; if the proportions of the Venus de Medicis were talked of, one would perhaps ask what a dead beauty was good for another would swear, that in his mind, Polly was a better made girl than any heathen goddess, dead or alive.
By degrees my neighbours gave me up altogether. They complained that I was a strange fellow, who. hated company,
and had no notion of life. I confess I was rather pleased with their neglect, and, in my own mind, preferred solitude to such society; but solitude at length became irksome, and I longed again to mingle in society. With that view I went to the races at Edinburgh, where I was told I should
meet with all the polite people of this country. The night I arrived I accompanied to the assembly a female relation, almost the only acquaintance I had in town. If you, Mr. MIRROR, be a frequenter of public places, I need not tell you how much I was struck on entering the room. Dark, dirty, mean, offensive to every sense, it seemed to resemble a large barn, rather than a room allotted for the reception of polite company. I had no sooner entered, than I was hurried along by the crowd to the farther end of the hall, where the first thing that caught my eye was an old lady, who, it seems, presided for the night, and was at that instant employed in distributing tickets, to ascertain the order in which the ladies were to dance. She was surrounded by a cluster, of persons of both sexes, all of whom spoke at the same time, and some of them, as I thought, with a voice and gesture rather rough and vehement.
This important part of the ceremonial being at length adjusted, the dancing began. My conductress asked me if I did not think the ladies, in general, handsome? I told her (and that without any compliment) that I thought them more than commonly beautiful; but methinks," added I, the gentlemen are not, either in dress or appearance, such as I should have expected.'-Oh,' replied she, ' have a little patience, the men of fashion are not yet come in; this being the first day of the races, they are dining with the stewards.' 'I had not time to make
any observation on the propriety of allowing ladies to y go unattended to a public place, to wait four hours
there in expectation of the gentlemen with whom they were to dance; for, at that instant, a loud noise at the lower end of the hall attracted my notice. * There they come,' said she; and I soon perceived a number of young gentlemen staggering up the room, all of them flustered, some of them perfectly intoxi