Sivut kuvina

gave it

future war; the latter sought only in war the means of securing future peace, and finally sheathing the sword of conquest. Napoleon placed himself at the head of Europe, and desolated it for fifteen years with his warfare : Europe placed Wellington at the head of its armies, and he thirty years of unbroken peace. The former was in the end led to ruin while blindly following the meteor of worldly greatness; the latter was unconsciously led to final greatness while only following the star of public duty.

Wellington was a warrior, but he was so only to become a pacificator : he has seen shed the blood of men, but it was only to stop the shedding of human blood : he has borne aloft the sword of conquest, but it was only to plant in its stead the emblems of mercy

“Pulchrum eminere est inter illustres viros;
Consulere patriæ; parcere afflictis; ferâ
Cæde abstinere ; tempus atque iræ dare,
Orbi quietem, sæculo pacem suo.
Hæc summa Virtus : petitur hac cælum viâ."

* Some of these preceding sentences have been engrossed in the Character of Wellington at the close of the Waterloo chapter in the History of Europe ; but they are here retained, as not less applicable to the present subject.

Ertu ET



[merged small][ocr errors]

The Russian Emperor, who unquestionably has the power of licensing or prohibiting any of his subjects to travel at his own pleasure, is said to concede the liberty only to the men of intelligence and ability in his dominions : the fools are all obliged to remain at home. Hence the high reputation which the Muscovites enjoy abroad, and the frequent disappointment which is felt by travellers of other nations, when they visit their country.

It is evident, from the character of the books of travels which every spring issue from the London press, with a few honourable exceptions, that no such restraining power exists in the British dominions. We have no individuals or particular works in view in these observations. We speak of things in general. If any one doubts their truth, let him inquire how many of the numberless Travels which annually issue from the British press are ever sought after, or heard of, five years after their publication. Our annual supply of ephemeral travels is far inferior in point of merit to the annual supply of novels. This is the more remarkable, because travels, if written in the right spirit, and by persons of capacity and taste, are among the most delightful, and withal instructive, species of composition of which literature can boast. They are so, because by their very nature they take the reader, as well as the writer, out of the sphere of every-day observation and commonplace remark. This is an immense advantage; so great indeed, that, if made use of with tolerable capacity, it should give works of this sort a decided superiority in point of interest and utility over all others, excepting History and the higher species of Romance.

Commonplace is the bane of literature, especially in an old and civilised state ; monotony, the thing to be principally dreaded. The very air is filled with ordinary ideas. General education, universal reading, unhappily make matters worse : they tend only to multiply the echoes of the original report : a new one has scarcely any chance of being heard amidst the ceaseless reverberation of the old. The more ancient a nation is, the more liable is it to be overwhelmed by this dreadful evil. The Byzantine empire, during a thousand years of civilisation and opulence, did not produce one work of original thought : five hundred years after the light of Athenian genius had been extinguished, the schools of Greece were still pursuing the beaten paths, and teaching the doctrines of Plato and Aristotle. It is the peculiar and prodigious advantage of travelling, that it counteracts this woful and degrading tendency, and by directing men's thoughts, as well as their steps, into foreign lands, has a tendency to induce into their ideas a portion of the variety and freshness which characterise the works of nature. Every person knows how great an advantage this proves in society. All must have felt what a relief it is to escape from the eternal round of local concerns or county politics, of parish grievances or neighbouring railroads, with which in every-day life we are beset, to the conversation of a person of intelligence who has visited foreign lands, and can give to the inquisitive at home a portion of the new ideas, images, and recollections with which his mind is stored. How, then, has it happened, that the same acquaintance with foreign and distant countries, which is universally felt to be such an advantage in conversation, is attended with such opposite effects in literature ?-and that, while our travellers are often the most agreeable men in company, they are beyond all question the dullest in composition ?

Much of this extraordinary and woful deficiency, we are persuaded, is owing to the limited range of objects to which the education of the young of the higher classes is so exclusively directed in Oxford and Cambridge. Greek and Latin, Aristotle's logic and classical versification, quadratic equations, conic sections, the differential calculus, are very good things; and we are well aware that it is by excellence in



them that the highest honours in these seminaries of learn-
ing can alone be attained. They are essential to the fame
of a Parr or a Porson, a Herschel or a Whewell; but a
very different species of mental training is required for
advantageous travelling. Men will soon find that neither
Greek prose nor Latin prose, Greek verse nor Latin verse,
will avail them when they come to traverse the present states
of the world. The most thorough master of the higher mathe-
matics will find his knowledge of scarcely any avail in Italy
or Egypt, or the Alps or the Andes. These acquisitions are
doubtless among the greatest triumphs of the human under-
standing; and they are calculated to raise a few, perhaps one
in a hundred, to distinction in classical or scientific pursuits ;

upon the minds of the remaining ninety-nine, they pro-
duce no sort of impression. Nature simply rejects them :
they are not the food which she requires. They do not do
much mischief to such persons in themselves ; but they are
of incalculable detriment by the time and the industry which
they absorb to no available purpose. Ten years of youth-
the most valuable and important period of life--are wasted
in studies which, to nineteen-twentieths of the persons
engaged in them, are of no use whatever in future years.
Thus our young men, of the highest rank and best con-
nexions, are sent out into the world without any ideas or
information which can enable them to visit foreign countries
with advantage. Need we wonder that, when they come to
write and publish their travels, they produce such a woful
brood of ephemeral bantlings? *

The reaction against this enormous evil in a different class
of society, has produced another set of errors in education-
of an opposite description, but perhaps still more fatal to the
formation of the mental character, which is essential to the
useful or elevating observation of foreign countries. The com-
mercial and middle classes of society, educated at the London
University, or any of the numerous academies which have
sprung up in all parts of the country, have gone into the
other extreme. Struck with the uselessness, to the great
bulk of students, of the classical minutiæ required at one of

* We lately heard of a young man, who had gone through the examination at Cambridge with distinction, inquiring, “whether the Greek church were Christiang?" What sort of a traveller would he make in the East or Russia ?


the universities, and the mathematical depth deemed indispensable at the other, they have turned education into an entirely different channel. Nothing was deemed worthy of serious attention, except what led to some practical object in life. Education was considered by their founders as merely a step to making money. Science became a tradema mere handmaid to art. Mammon was all in all. Their instruction was entirely utilitarian. Mechanics and Medicine, Hydraulics and Chemistry, Pneumatics and Hydrostatics, Anatomy and Physiology, constituted the grand staples of their education. What they taught was adapted only for professional students. One would suppose, from examining their course of study, that all men were to be either doctors or surgeons, apothecaries or druggists, mechanics, shipwrights, or civil engineers. No doubt we must have such persons ; no doubt it is indispensable that places of instruction should exist in which they can learn their various and highly important avocations ; but is that the school in which the enlarged mind is to be formed, the varied information acquired, the appreciation of the grand and the beautiful imbibed, which are essential to an accomplished and really useful writer of travels ? Sulphuric acid and Optics, Anatomy and Mechanics, will do many things; but they will never make an observer of Nature, a friend of Man, a fit commentator on the world of God.

Persons of really cultivated minds and enlarged views will probably find it difficult to determine which of these opposite systems of education is the best calculated to attain what seems the grand object of modern instruction, the cramping and limiting the human mind. But without entering upon this much-disputed point—upon which much is to be said on both sides, and in which each party will perhaps be found to be in the right when they assail their opponents, and in the wrong when they defend themselves

-it is more material to our present purpose to observe that both are equally fatal to the acquisition of the varied information, and the imbibing of the refined and elegant taste, which are essential to an accomplished writer of travels. Only think what mental qualifications are required to form such a character! An eye for the sublime and the beautiful, the power of graphically describing natural scenery, a

« EdellinenJatka »