« ПредишнаНапред »
gone to please the passions and prejudices of a day, and which it is well to treasure up, as marks of the impotence of power, when it would torture genius into a violation of sincerity and truth.
In a chapel of one of the principal colleges in Paris, there was a picture representing the General-in-chief of the Army of Egypt, attended by some of his Aidesde-camp, paying a visit to the Plague Hospital. Since the restoration of the Bourbon family to the throne of France, Bonaparte has been converted into Christ, and his aides-de-camp into apostles. The artist who has made these alterations has not, however, thought it necessary entirely to change the costumes ; and our Saviour appears in the boots of Napoleon! An instance of similar absurdity occurred at Naples, where, to preserve Gros's magnificent picture of the Battle of Aboukir, a Neapolitan general, who never set foot in Egypt, has been substituted for Murat.
Incongruities of this kind, in lower departments of tbe art, are too multiplied to enumerate. They are visible in almost every village ale-house sign, and even in the productions of some tolerably good engravers. Admiral Rodney in a red coat,—the Duke of Cumberland in a green shirt,—and Wolfe, after the battle of Quebec, lying on the ground in a pair of new shoes, with the soles brightly polished, -are existing specimens of such blunders. A ludricous inadvertence was, however, committed by our great English genius, Sir Joshua Reylonds. Portraits were at that time almost always painted in one attitude,-one hand in the waistcoat, and the hat under the arm. A gentleman desired to have his hat on his head, in the picture, which was quickly finished in a commonplace attitude, done without much study, and sent home. On inspection, it was discovered, that although this gentleman, in his portrait, had one hat upon his head, yet there was another under his arm !
My fortune leads to traverse realms unknown.
GOLDSMITI. When fortune not only leads, but also amply supplies the means of travelling to foreign countries, her votaries are happy indeed.
The amiable authoress of “ Hints on the Sources of Happiness,” has very justly observed, that “ the pleasures of Travelling are as various as they are numerous; whether, as metaphysicians, we desire to observe the human mind under every peculiarity of climate and education, or, as philosophers, seek to prosecute more largely the studies of natural history; or, as artists, propose to profit by the inspection of the productions of ancient genius and ancient lore. The very view of foreign countries must be singularly delightful: the diversities of the landscape,—the system of husbandry,—the dress, manners, and customs, of the artless peasantry, or of the more refined gentry and noblesse,-must each and all present objects of agreeable observation and reflection. Never can curiosity, one of the earliest and strongest emotions of the human mind, be more widely or more pleasingly gratified. Even on crossing the Channel, and finding himself in the country of his nearest neighbour, the traveller must be reminded by every thing he sees, that he is no longer in his native land. The sound of a strange language, the sight of manners so different to those with which he has been familiar, must keep him alive to the consciousness of his being from home; and while at one time they draw him into meditations on the superiority of his distant home, they must, at another, lead him to select improvements with which, on his return, he can supply what is defective, and amend what is wrong. If beyond France he passes to Holland, a country redeemed from the sea, greater novelties of landscape must repay his fatigue; and the farther north he proceeds, the more will objects of curiosity present themselves to him. The lonely isle of Iceland abounds with wonders and curiosities; whether they be its singularly enlightened inhabitants, its severe climate, its languid vegetation, its geysers, or its volcanoes. This will reward the attentive rambler's notice, and offer endless scope for observation and conjecture. Switzerland, with her lakes and snow-topped mountains, discloses a very different, but not less interesting field for 'excursive wandering; and Italy, to the charms of landscape, adds her monuments of the ancient arts,-preserved specimens of painting and of sculpture, and ruins renowned for their beauty, or the uses with which they were formerly associated. The plains of Greece afford a still richer banquet; for there, scarcely a spot can be traversed without exciting interesting recollections of the great and the good, who once flourished as heroes, statesmen, or philosophers.
A new insight into the human mind is enjoyed by those who visit the semi-civilized countries of Asia, or the barbarous nations of Africa. Not only men and manners, but animals and vegetables, dissimilar to all before beheld, regale the stranger's eyes. And it must be with an overwhelming emotion of surprise, that amid a people scarcely distinguished by intellect from the brutes that surround them, the traveller discovers the architectural rains which denote the early civilization of a land now debased and depopulated. Travelling even to a distant province of our own country, must furnish the mind with rich materials for thought and contemplation; but to ramble in climes and amid people dissimilar and before un known, must afford one of the highest entertainments that can be enjoyed.
I cannot imagine a more delightful or improving mode of becoming acquainted with the natural history, the customs and manners, the architecture, &c. of foreign countries, than that of visiting them; and, whilst residing in them, to gain, by books and by observation, an intimate knowledge of their varieties.
The history of a nation must be read with a more peculiar interest, and with more profound impression, in the midst of the scenes celebrated by the events recorded, -the biography of the good and the great must be perused with increased earnestness on the spot where they acquired their renown,—the habits and modes of life must be remembered with ineffaceable precision,--and the animal and vegetable productions, by the double aid of books and observation, must be recollected accurately and tenaciously. A few years thus agreeably and profitably spent, besides the pleasure actually communicated, would enable the judicious traveller to lay up a hoard of intellectual wealth for future enjoyment. All the faculties of the mind, enriched and invigorated, would more nobly and healthfully expand. A matured judgment, an enlivened memory, a plenteously-stored imagination, would present never-failing sources of mental recreation for every after-hour of life. Nor would the benefits be confined to a heightened power of selfish gratification; the intelligent traveller would form an acceptable member of the social circle, conferring information and entertainment, various, important, and amusive; instructing the young, and diverting the old.
I cannot do justice to this subject, without calling in the aid of my admirable friend, old Owen Feltham; I hope the reader by this time is as proud of his friendship as is the writer. Feltham's eighty-seventh Resolve is on Travel, which he opens in the following
“A speech which often came from Alexander was, that he had discovered more with his eye, than other kings did comprehend in their thoughts. And this he spake of his Travel: for, indeed, men can but guess at places by relation only. There is no map like the view of the country. Experience is the best informer. And one journey will shew a man more than any description can. Some would not allow a man to move from the shell of his own country; and Claudian mentions it as a happiness, for birth, life, and burial, to be all in a parish. But surely, travel fulleth the man: he hath lived but locked up in a larger chest, which hath never seen but one land. A kingdom to the world, is like a corporation to a kingdom: a man may live in it like an unbred man. He that searcheth foreign nations, is becoming a gentleman of the world. One that is learned, honest, and travelled, is the best compound of man; and so corrects the vice of one country with the virtues of another, that, like Mithridate, he grows a perfect mixture, and an antidote.
Italy, England, France, and Spain, are as the court of the world; Germany, Denmark, and China, are as the city. The rest are most of them country, and barbarism: who hath not seen the best of these, is little lame in knowledge. Yet I think it not fit that every man should travel. It makes a wise man better, and a fool worse. This gains nothing but the gay sights, vices, exotic gestures, and the apery of a country. A travelling fool is the shame of all nations. He shames his own, by his weakness abroad: he shames others, by bringing home their follies alone. They only blab abroad domestic vices, and import them that are transmarine. That a man may better himself by travel, he ought to observe and comment: noting as well the bad, to avoid it, as taking the good into use. And without registering these things by the pen, they will slide away unprofitably. A man would not think how much the characterizing of a thought on paper fastens it. Litera scripta manet, has a large sense.
He that does this, may, when he pleaseth, re-journey all bis voyage in his closet. Grave natures are the best proficients by travel; they are not apt to take a soil; and they observe more: but then they must put on an outward freedom, with an inquisition seemingly careless. It were an excellent thing in a state, to have always a select number of youth of the nobility and gentry, and, at years of some maturity, to send them abroad for education. Their parents could not better dispose of them, than in dedicating them to the republic. They themselves could not be in a fairer way of preferment; and no question but they might prove mighty serviceable to the state at home, when they shall return well versed in the world, languaged, and well read in men; which, for policy and negociation, is much better than any book-learning, though ever so deep and knowing. Being abroad, the best is to converse with the best, and not to choose by the eye, but by fame. For the state, instruction is to be had at the court; for traffic, among merchants; for religious rites, the clergy; for government,