Page images
PDF
EPUB

EPISTLE CIV.

On Travelling.

IHAVE fled, Lucilius, to my feat at Nomentum (a): from what, think you? from the city? No; from a fever, that I found creeping upon me, nay that had actually laid hold upon me, as I thought; I therefore ordered my chariot to be got ready immediately, though my wife, Paulina, was against my moving. But the physicians affuring me that the symptoms were ftrong upon me, as my pulfe kept not its due motion in the arteries, but was high and irregular, I infifted upon going, and repeated the words of my Lord Gallio; who being in Achaia, and finding a fhivering come upon him, immediately took ship, saying, it was not a natural disease of the body, but accid.ntal from the bad air of the place.

This I told my Paulina, who always wishes me to take care of my health; and as I know her life is wrapt up in mine, it is for her good hath hardened and fortified met I confult my own. And though old age in many refpects, I put it not to the trial: remembering that in this old perfon of mine there lives a much younger in participation of it, or for whom it is indulged; and therefore, as I cannot require or expect from her that she should love me, if poffible, better than fhe does (b); she may well require this from me, that I should love, and take better pure care of myself than ufual. It is reasonable to indulge all juft and affections: and fometimes, if urgent caufes require it, our breath, in honour to, and for the fervice of our friends, must be retained, and kept in, as it were, with the teeth; becaufe a good man is bound to live, not only fo long as it liketh him, but fo lòng as he ought, and can poffibly live, for the fervice of others (c).

The man who thinks that his wife or his friend is not of fuch confequence that he fhould wish to continue in life for their fakes, and not VOL. II.

I i

rather

rather die when he pleases, is a coxcomb. Let the foul have fo much command over herself, when the fervice of a friend or relation requires it, as not only to be unwilling to depart, but, even when it is upon the wing, to return, if poffible, to their affiftance. It fhews a nobleness of foul, thus to return again, as it were, to life, for the benefit of our relations; as many great men have done.

And this alfo I think a point of great humanity, for a man more industriously to keep up his old age; (the chief benefit whereof is the more prudent care of a man's felf, and a more orderly and manly use of life;) particularly if he knows it can be agreeable, useful, and defirable to thofe about him. This affair alfo carries with it no fmall joy or recompence; for what can be more delightful than for a man to be fo dear to his wife, as to make him more dear to himself? My Paulina therefore may think herself obliged not only to her fear and concern, but to mine alfo.-But to return:

Would you know what fuccefs my determination of going into the country met with? No fooner had I got out of the foggy air of the city, (and the ftink of the fmoke from fo many kitchen fires, which being stirred fend forth whatever poifonous vapours were contained therein, fo as almoft to choak us,) than I found an alteration for the better how much more then must you think my health restored, when I reached my delightful vineyards (d)? As let loofe into good pafture, I rushed upon my food with an eager appetite; and am perfectly recovered: the liftleffnefs that attends a weak and crazy conftitution is gone off; and my whole mind is again intent upon study.

The place however that a man is in, contributes very little to the ftudy of philofophy, unless the mind affifts itself; which can even give itself privacy in the midst of business and company. But he that chufeth his country-feat, only by way of idle retirement, will every where find enough to perplex and disturb him. For it is faid that Socrates, when a perfon was complaining to him that he had received very little benefit from travelling, made this reply: I do not wonder at

it, fince you travelled with yourself *. O how happy would many a man be, if they could but throw off themfelves! The chief adverfaries that trouble, corrupt, and terrify them, are themfelves. What avails it to travel over the feas, or to travel from city to city? If you would avoid that which moft torments you, it is not your going to another place that will do it, but your being another man. Suppofe you were to come to Athens or to Rhodes; it is nothing to the purpose what the manners are of the inhabitants, you bring your own thither.

You will think riches the only thing that can make a man happy. Poverty then will be fure to rack you, and (what is moft miferable) even false poverty. For though you poffefs much, yet because another hath more, you will think you want at least as much as that wherein he exceeds you. Or do you think that happiness confifts in honours? How will it torment you to see fuch a one made Conful; and much more to see another rechofen! It will fting you to fee another's name oftener than your own in the fafti, or public regifter. Nay, fo blind and mad will be your ambition, that if there is any one before you, you will think no one behind you. You will fancy death to be the greatest of all evils, when it has no other ev.l in it than to be feared before it comes; not only danger will affright you, but even the fufpicion of danger. Vain fhadows will fcare thee.

For what will it profit you,

Evafifle tot urbes

Argolicas, mediofque fugam tenuiffe per hoftes;
Pleas'd to have fail'd fo long before the wind,

You will

And left fo many Grecian towns behind; Dryden— when peace itself, inftead of comfort fhall adminifter fear? give no credit to, nor put your truft in, things moft fafe and fure; when once the mind is disturbed, and having got an habit of heedless timidity, you are no longer able to provide for your own fafety; for you will not shun, but fly from the ftroke: and we are always most expofed to danger, when we have turned our backs.

If you think it a moft grievous affliction to lofe any one you love; know, that this is as ridiculous as to weep, that the leaves of fine fha

[blocks in formation]

be

dowing trees that adorn your houses are fallen. Whatever else you delight in, hath its time to flourish, and alike decays (c.) Time and Death shake off one thing after another. But as the lofs of the leaves is easy to be borne, because they fhall one day bud forth again; fo likewife is the lofs even of those whom you loved, and thought the delight of your life. Becaufe, though they themselves return not again, yet the lofs of them may be repaired by affociating, suppose, with others. But thefe are not the fame. True; neither will you the fame. Every day, every hour makes a change in you: but in others the alteration is more vifible: here indeed it is not perceivable, because not fo public and open: others are fnatched away from us, but we steal as it were from ourselves. You will not reflect on these things, nor apply a remedy to these wounds in time; but are continually sowing the feeds of perplexity and trouble, by hoping fome things, and despairing of others: If you are wife you will join these two together; and never hope, so as to think you cannot be disappointed; nor fo despair, as to leave no room for hope. But to return:

Wherein can travelling be of any service merely as travelling! It will not of itself moderate pleasures, refrain defires, pacify anger, break the untameable power of love, root out any evil habit from the mind, endow it with found judgment, and dispel error. In short, men that go out fools, will return the fame, if not worfe; on whom travelling hath no other effect, than for a while to amufe them with fome novelty; as children are apt to admire every thing which they never faw before. And as to inconftancy of mind, this roving from place to place rather encreases it, which was bad enough before; and renders it more light and wavering. Hence you often fee men paffing from a place, at which they before most earnestly defired to arrive; and like birds of paffage flock away fafter than they came.

But travel, you will fay, furnishes a man with the knowledge of nations; fhews him mountains of different forms, defert plains, valleys watered with everlasting rills; rivers of an extraordinary nature, full worthy obfervation; as the Nile in Egypt, which flows highest in the

fummer

fummer feafon; or the Tigris in Afia, which at certain places is loft, and running far under ground, appears again, in its full magnitude; or the Meander, the fportful theme of all the poets, with all its turnings and windings; when, feeming to leave its own channel, it approaches the bed of fome neighbouring flood, but before it has joined it, returns back, forming as it were a circle.-It may be fo: but how feldom does all this make a traveller the better or a wifer man? We must be employed in ftudy, and converfe with fuch authors as are the masters of wisdom; that we may not only learn fuch things as have been already found out, but find out other ourselves of the like importance.

'This it is that will raise our minds from miferable fervitude to a most happy state of liberty. So long as you know not what is to be avoided, and what purfued; what is neceffary, what fuperfluous; and what is juft, fit and decent; it will not be travelling, but wandering. Such an excurfion will prove but of little advantage to you; fince you travel with the fame affections attending you, and your vices confequently follow you. Did I fay follow? I wish they did, or that they were further from you. You do not lead, but carry them. Hence it is that go where you will they weigh you down, and wring you with the fame diftreffes.

Medicine is requifite for a fick man, not a journey. Hath any one broke his leg, or put out his fhoulder, he does not enquire after his chariot, or a fhip, but looks out for a fkilful furgeon, to fet the broken bone, or reduce the diflocated joint. Why then fhould you think a mind, put out of frame, and fo miferably shattered, can be cured merely by change of place? No; this is too great an evil to be repaired by an airing.

Travelling, of itself, makes not either a phyfician, or an orator. No art is to be learned from the place only. How then can wisdom, the chief of all, be picked up in travelling? Believe me, was there any fort of journey that could fet a man out of the reach of defire, anger,

fear;

« EelmineJätka »