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fuch countries as were in highest fame for their wisdom or good government,
BESIDES, the Sages of thofe times made a wondrous mystery of their wif dom: a fure fign, perhaps, that they were not overstocked with it. It was confined to certain schools and fraternities; or was locked up ftill more clofely in the breafts of particular perfons. Knowledge was not then diffufed in books and general converfation, as amongst us; but was to be obtained by frequenting the academies or houses of those privileged men, who, by a thousand ambitious arts, had drawn to themselves the applause and veneration of the reft of the world.
ALL this might be faid in favour of your Lordship's old Sages. Yet one of them, who deferved that name the best, was no great Traveller. I remember to have read, that SOCRATES had never ftirred out of Athens; and that, when his
his admirers would fometimes afk him why he affected this fingularity, he was ufed to fay, That Stones and Trees did not edify him: Intimating, I fuppofe, that the fight of fine towns and fine countries, which the voyagers of thofe days, as of our's, made a matter of much vanity, was the principal fruit they had reaped of themselves from their fashionable labours.
HOWEVER, allowing your Lordship to make the most of these refpectable authorities, for the use of travelling, it must still be remembered, that they are wide of our prefent purpose. They were Sages, that travelled: And we are now inquiring, whether this be the way for young men to become Sages. PLATO might pick up more learning in his Voyages, than any body fince has been able to understand, and yet a youth of eighteen be little the wifer for ftaring away two or three years in mysterious Egypt.
WHY truly, if he carried nothing abroad with him but the use of his eyefight, I fhould be much of your mind with regard to the improvements he might be expected to bring back with him. But let him hear and obferve a little, as well as fee, and methinks a youth of eighteen might pick up fomething of value, though he should not return laden with the mysteries of Egypt.
As to the gaiety on the antient Sages, I could be much entertained with it, if I did not recollect that the more enlightened moderns have, alfo, been of their mind in this inftance. To fay nothing of other countries, which yet have rifen in reputation for knowledge and civility in proportion to their acquaintance with the neighbourging nations, furely it must be allowed of our own, that all its valuable acquifitions in both have been for
warded at least, if not occafioned, by this reasonable practice. We are now, without doubt, arrived at the fummit of politeness, and may fubfift at length upon our own proper ftock; but was this always the cafe? And must it not be acknowledged, that the brightest periods of our story are thofe, in which our noble youth were fashioned in the school of foreign Travel? You will hardly pretend that the ornaments of the fecond CHARLES' and ELIZABETH's courts were caft in the coarfe mould of this homebreeding.
I SHALL perhaps carry my pretenfions ftill further, and affirm it had been much better if they had been fo.
I KNOW what is to be faid for the voyagers in ELIZABETH'S time. We were just then emerging from ignorance and barbarity. Learning and the Arts were but then getting up, and were best acquired,
acquired, we will fay, in foreign fchools, and the commerce of other nations, which might have the ftart of us in fuch im provements. The state of Europe at that time was not unlike what I obferved of the old world, when knowledge was in few hands, and the exclufive property, as it were, of particular perfons. So that it was to be travelled for, and fetched home by fuch as would have it. Italy, in particular, was in those days, as it had long been, the theatre of polite nefs, and without doubt could furnish us with very much of the learning we most wanted.
THIS then was the fashionable route of our curious and courtly youth: And many accomplished perfons, I can readily admit, were to be found in the number of our Italian Travellers. Yet, methinks, they had done better to ftay at home, and at least import the arts of Italy, if they