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to vex and shorten a life short and vexatious enough already? Do you think, my good preacher, that He who is infinitely happy can envy us our enjoyments? or that a Being so. infinitely kind would grudge a mournful traveller the short rest and refreshments necessary to support his spirits through the stages of a weary pilgrimage? or that he would call him to a severe reckoning, because in his way he had hastily snatched at some little fugacious pleasures, merely to sweeten this uneasy journey of life, and reconcile him to the ruggedness of the road, and the many hard jostlings he is sure to meet with? Consider, I beseech you, what provision and accommodation the Author of our being has prepared for us, that we might not go on our way sorrowing-how many caravanseras of rest-what powers and faculties he has given us for taking it-what apt objects he has placed in our way to entertain us; some of which he has made so fair, so exquisitely fitted for this end, that they have power over us for a time, to charm away the sense of pain, to cheer up the dejected heart under poverty and sickness, and make it go and remember its miseries no more.
I will not contend at present against this rhetoric; I would choose rather for a moment to go on with the allegory, and say we are travellers, and, in the most affecting sense of that idea, that, like travellers, though upon business of the last and nearest concern to us, we may surely be allowed to amuse ourselves with the natural or artificial beauties of the country we are passing through, without reproach of forgetting the main errand we are sent upon; and if we can so order it as not to be led out of the way by the variety of prospects, edifices, and ruins which solicit us, it would be a nonsensical piece of saint-errantry to shut our eyes.
But let us not lose sight of the argument in pursuit of the simile.
Let us remember, various as our excursions are that we have still set our faces towards Jerusalem,—that we have a place of rest and happiness, towards which we hasten, and that the way to get there is not so much to please our hearts, as to improve them in virtue ;-that mirth and feasting are usually no friends to achievements of this kind—but that a season of affliction is in some sort a season of piety-not only because our sufferings are apt to put us in mind of our sins, but that, by the check and interruption which they give to our pursuits, they allow us what the hurry and bustle of the world too often deny us,—and that is a little time for reflection, which is all that most of us want to make us wiser and better men;-that at certain times it is so necessary a man's mind should be turned towards itself that, rather than want occasions, he had better purchase them at the expense of his present happiness.—He had better, as the text expresses it, go to the house of mourning, where he will meet with something to subdue his passions, than to the house of feasting, where the joy and gaiety of the place is likely to excite them. That whereas the entertainments and caresses of the one place expose his heart and lay it open to temptations-the sorrows of the other defend it, and as naturally shut them from it. So strange and unaccountable a creature is man! he is so framed that he cannot but pursue happiness-and yet, unless he is made sometimes miserable, how apt is he to mistake the way which can only lead him to the accomplishment of his own wishes.
This is the full force of the wise man's declaration.Sermons.
2. The good and ill of Travelling.
THE love of variety, or curiosity of seeing new things, which is the same, or at least a sister passion to it, -seems woven into the frame of every son and daughter of Adam; we usually speak of it as one of Nature's levities, though planted within us for the solid purposes of carrying forward the mind to fresh inquiry and knowledge. Strip us of it, the mind (I fear) would doze for ever over the present page, and we should all of us rest at ease with such objects as presented themselves in the parish or province where we first drew breath.
It is to this spur, which is ever in our sides, that we owe the impatience of this desire for travelling; the passion is no way bad, but, as others are, in its mismanagement or excess; -order it rightly, the advantages are worth the pursuit ;the chief of which are—to learn the languages, the laws and customs, and understand the government and interest, of other nations ;-to acquire an urbanity and confidence of behaviour, and fit the mind more easily for conversation and discourse; to take us out of the company of our aunts and grandmothers, and from the track of nursery mistakes; and by shewing us new objects, or old ones in new lights, to reform our judgments;-by tasting perpetually the varieties of Nature, to know what is good,-by observing the address and arts of man, to conceive what is sincere; and, by seeing the difference of so many various humours and manners, to look into ourselves, and form our own.
This is some part of the cargo we might return with; but the impulse of seeing new sights, augmented with that of getting clear from all lessons both of wisdom and reproof at home, carries our youth too early out to turn this venture
to much account; on the contrary, if the scene painted of the prodigal in his travels looks more like a copy than an original,-will it not be well if such an adventurer, with so uncompromising a setting out,-without carte,-without compass, be not cast away for ever?—and may he not be said to escape well, if he return to his country only as naked as he first left it?
will send an able pilot with your son :—a scholar. If wisdom can speak in no other language but Greek or Latin,—you do well ;--or, if mathematics will make a man a gentleman, or natural philosophy but teach him to make a bow, he may be of some service in introducing your son into good societies, and supporting him in them when he has done; but the upshot will be generally this, that, in the most pressing occasions of address,--if he is a mere man of reading, the unhappy youth will have the tutor to carry, and not the tutor to carry him.
But you will avoid this extreme; he shall be escorted by one who knows the world not merely from books,—but from his own experience;—a man who has been employed on such services, and thrice made the Tour of Europe with
That is, without breaking his own or his pupil's neck; for, if he is such as my eyes have seen! some broken Swiss valet de Chambre,—some general undertaker, who will perform the journey in so many months, if God permit, much knowledge will not accrue;-some profit at least ;—he will learn the amount, to a halfpenny, of every stage from Calais to Rome; he will be carried to the best inns, instructed where there is the best wine, and sup a livre cheaper than if the youth had been left to make the tour and the bargain himself.- Look at our governor, I beseech you !—see, he is an inch taller, as he relates the advantages!
And here endeth his pride, his knowledge, and his
But, when your son gets abroad, he will be taken out of his hand by his society with men of rank and letters, with whom he will pass the greatest part of his time.
Let me observe, in the first place, that company which is really good is very rare, and very shy: but you have surmounted this difficulty, and procured him the best letters of recommendation to the most eminent and respectable in every capital.
And I answer, that he will obtain all by them which courtesy strictly stands obliged to pay on such occasions— but no more.
There is nothing in which we are so much deceived as in the advantages proposed from our connexions and discourse with the literati, &c., in foreign parts; especially if the experiment is made before we are matured by years of study.
Conversation is a traffic; and if you enter into it without some stock of knowledge to balance the account perpetually betwixt you, the trade drops at once:—and this is the reason, however it may be boasted to the contrary, why travellers have so little (especially good) conversation with natives, owing to their suspicion, or, perhaps, conviction, that there is nothing to be extracted from the conversation of young itinerants worth the trouble of their bad language, or the interruption of their visits.
The pain on these occasions is usually reciprocal: the consequence of which is that the disappointed youth seeks an easier society; and, as bad company is always ready, and ever lying in wait, the career is soon finished; and the poor prodigal returns the same object of pity with the prodigal in the Gospel.-Sermons.