Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

cause it is more characteristic; it conveys the idea of a directness of mind, such as does not let " I dare not wait upon

“ I would ”; such as enables a man to form his purpose, and carry it forthright into action ; such as gives him, when he stands in

presence
of scenes and

persons

that he has longed to see, sufficient independence and self-feeling to know clearly what his own impressions are, and to set them faithfully down ; in a word, such as gives the manly decision which this writer manifested in forming his plans for visiting Europe, when he doubtless had the cold comfort of finding it esteemed the most ridiculous enterprise in the world. He saw that the fulfilment of this bright hope of his early days was a possible thing; and though it must be done with toil and trouble, with humility and self-denial, and with a brave contempt for those social obstacles which are harder to overcome than any which nature throws in the way, he felt that he had power to meet the labor and to make the sacrifice, confident that he should be overpaid for his efforts and privations by the satisfaction and improvement which the pilgrimage would bring. Most ancient men would say, that for a journeyman printer, without property, without friends, without encouragement, to undertake the tour of Europe, was the wildest of all human visions; and we doubt not that Mr. Taylor received rich presents of this kind of sympathy from those who knew his adventurous design. But those prudent and estimable persons were looking, all the while, to external advantages for the purpose, and making no account of inward resources ; when experience shows, that, whether to trudge through Europe, or to foot it through life, — for John Wesley says there is no carriage-road to heaven, — the strong mind and strong heart are more than a match for them all.

And yet, in such a pilgrimage there must be a great deal to encounter ; for it is a familiar truth, though, when examined, a queer one, that when nature gave us hands and feet, with an evident intent that they should be employed, men should esteem those most respectable and fortunate whose condition is such that they never use them. The

The great object of social existence is for each to raise himself to a position where he can be as lazy and good for nothing as he pleases; and when he has drawn that high prize in the lottery of life, he is secure of outward homage, even though he cumber and curse the ground. The head may be as empty as

[ocr errors]

famine, but other heads will bend to it with graceful homage ; while, if the same vacuum be in the pocket, where nature abhors it less, and man considerably more, there are none to do it reverence. Should it be the poor man's lot to travel, no full-orbed landlord smiles upon him ; the waiter passes coldly by ; he must almost scale the heavens to find his barren little upper chamber ; and at table the meats are cold as this world's charity, before they are served to him. Those animals, assuming to be human because they go on their hind legs, who are insolent where they have the opportunity, welcome him as a mark for their scorn ; and if his comfort depends on the deference and attention of others, he will have but little to enjoy.

If, however, he is sufficient to himself as a man, feeling that the humblest are as much, and the greatest are nothing more ; if he can take the world as it is, and not expect to find icicles in August, nor flowers in the snow ; if he sets his own price upon himself, and does not submit to the appraisement of those who judge from without of what may be within,

he will find the misanthropy, which looking at the surface is apt to engender, giving place to a healthier feeling. He will no more be angry with boors high and low, than with “briers which prick and scratch, because they can do no other”; he will receive insult and unkindness, not as personal injuries, but as mere illustrations of human nature; and he will be surprised to find how much better mankind appears to one who thus regards them. He will find favor and friendliness in quarters where he least expected them ; he will feel the affronts and injuries which afflicted him so much diminishing till they are few and small; and at last he will begin to suspect, that something may depend upon himself; and that, while he who is on the watch for discourtesy is sure to find as much of it as he wants, and rather more, whoever meets men with an open hand and heart will perceive currents of feeling under the roughest ice of manner, and will carry a sunshine with him that shall melt the ice and the coldness away.

Without knowing any thing of Mr. Taylor except from his book, we apprehend that he has made this discovery ; or perhaps, as the Transcendentalists would say, he has it by revelation in his nature. He makes no complaint of insolence; if he found others rough and churlish, he did not think it necessary to distress himself therefor. If they withheld

civilities and attentions, he treated it as their affair, not his. He received all kindnesses with manly gratitude, and though not gifted, like the Hebrews in the wilderness, with shoes and raiment that waxed not old, and sometimes obliged to bid the last shilling a sad and affectionate farewell, he managed to see as much, and to enjoy as much, as Rothschild or the Barings would have done in the same expedition, and for an expenditure, we imagine, considerably less than theirs would have been. Those potentates, we surmise, could hardly have kept their subsistence and recreation within the bounds of three shillings a day. But it is doubtful if either of them would have produced a better book than Mr. Taylor, with his two years' outlay of five hundred dollars, which appear to have learned of their owner to travel, so that they might jointly and severally have boasted that never dollars went farther than they.

It may seem superfluous to raise the question, under what circumstances one can travel to most advantage. Using the word travel in its ordinary sense, that of passing through a foreign country where one has no time to stay, certain it is, that most men, if they had the power, would choose to go well provided with letters of credit, at least, if not with some show of rank and wealth, such as conveyances at leisure and trains attendant. But this prevailing taste does not settle the question, for we often prefer what is not best for us. And the answer depends very much upon the objects which we have in view. If it is to see the country, with whatever scenes of interest it contains, they are about as much at the service of the poor as the rich. No one can rob him of the right of nature; bricks and stones in their different circumstances and positions are not hidden from his eye ; his deliberate way of journeying enables him to see every thing to advantage ; and when it comes to ascending mountains, he has prospects before him which gouty toes and fashionable dresses would never undertake to reach. If his aim is to see those distinguished men whose names are familiar to him, he may get a sight of Wordsworth, or bear a speech of Brougham, without money as well as with it. Few travellers find much advantage from their letters, which are given without heartiness, and received without much delight. Besides, a hasty snatch of conversation with an eminent man affords us very little idea of what he is or how he appears ; men do not open their minds and hearts to a stranger. And this transient acquaintance is so apt to overset enthusiasm, and remove all its imaginative glories, that after we have had such opportunities, we often wish we could restore the old relation of unknowing and unknown.

But if his object is to see man, — and everywhere humanity is the chief subject of interest to man, - he will not satisfy his curiosity, if it be intellectual, with the mere sight of crowns, trappings, and orders; for the more refined and cultivated must be substantially alike in all countries. He will wish to go deeper, and explore beneath the surface ; for it is with the world of mankind as with the world of nature, where geology has unfolded a whole science of wonderful interest in the earth's foundations, hidden, till of late years, from every human eye.

So the study of man teaches the importance of those human strata, which have lain for centuries unthought of and uncared for, and which might have remained so for centuries longer, had they not been upheaved by revolutions, like the primary rocks bursting up into mountain ridges, crushing and overwhelining all that was once above them. These sudden and sharp explosions have made it necessary, and somewhat interesting, to dig into these regions below ; and whoever takes his safety-lamp, and goes down into these human depths, is surprised at the mines of character, the riches of feeling, and the extent and grandeur of those formations, over which proud feet so carelessly tread.

Now, the wealthy wayfarers have no idea of diving into these caverns ; you will not persuade them to go mourning, without the sun, into the damps and darkness of those regions. But the pedestrian, having less reverend care for his raiment, wants nothing better than to see these pillars on which all social systems rest. He therefore goes among

- the masses”; he walks and talks with them as an equal. They neither insult nor cheat him ; they show neither servility nor defiance to him who comes like one of themselves. He can study them at leisure ; he learns how climate, government, and similar influences affect them; he has full opportunity for investigating the great problems of humanity, of which the rich traveller knows as little as the graceful pennon at the masthead does of what is passing in the forecastle below.

But all this depends very much on the purpose, and the outfit -- we mean intellectual outfit, of course with which one travels. If he has ample resources of time and money, he will go forth like Adam and Eve, with the world before him, though not precisely with Providence for his guide, but rather following the steerage of his own sweet will. He sets forth in gallant trim, like Gray's gilded vessel, not doubting that he shall find brilliant and happy adventures, delightful sights and emotions, and that he shall return at last, laden with treasures of memory, to bless and cheer his days. But alas for his anticipations! As one of our own writers has touchingly said, “ human hopes are rotten things.” The steamer is unsavory to the sense, and his comrades of the voyage pugnacious and vulgar. The angels of the storm have sea-sickness in their wings; the agents of the customs are rude and unaccommodating ; he is stripped of the golden fleece at princely hotels ; if there is a landscape to be seen, the sky is darkened with a shower ; if he is to explore a romantic country, the almanac has “much rain about this time," running down the whole length of its page. The parliament is indefinitely postponed, and the court in mourning. The weather brings such rain or drought, heat or cold, as was never heard of before. If he flies to the Continent, some servant shall take him in hand for his own special picking ; a vagrant prince shall appropriate the post-horses which he had contracted for ; by day he shall be browbeaten and lightened of his coin, and at night those small destroyers of peace which make night hideous shall come with grim welcome, seeking whom to devour. In Switzerland, he shall be frozen almost beyond all chance of thaw. When he flies into sunny Italy, the arctic circle shall come to spend the same winter in Rome. When he wants moonlight for the Coliseum, that uncertain luminary shall be in her last quarter ; and so, like dark care behind the rider, vanity and vexation shall be the companions of his way. Many times shall he wonder at his own folly in leaving a comfortable - home for such varieties of woe. He shall weep aloud at the units daily added to the sum-total of his unmerciful bills; and often shall he swear in his wrath, that if he ever outlives these afflictions, no earthly inducement shall prevail upon him to take to the waves and highways again.

Now, the difficulty is, not that Nature has suspended her usual business in order to vex these travellers, nor that their doom is very different from that which other poor mortals

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »