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Canto VIII. opens thus.
“Sage Nature, how profound is thy discretion,
Enamelling thy sober courtesies
Thou check’rest every thing with such wise art,
That ease proves constant successor to smart.
When clouds have wept their bottles out, 'tis fair;
When æstuating in her mighty toil
floods thou teachest to recoil
And to all great and swelling labours thou
As sure an ebb dost constantly allow.
Down on the pillows of the wat’ry main,
When trees all summer have been labouring hard
Down to the root straight sinks the tired sap,
tedious months have run
This locks them up in glass, and makes them rest
Yet other creatures little find in sleep
Which they themselves perceive not when they reap:
That sleep itself can be awake to him,
O sweet prerogative ! by which we may
And every thought flies with as quick a pace
No outward object's importuning rout
And scorning Contradiction's laws, at ease
Of nothing makes what worlds herself doth please.
Of crude unsettled notions, which fill
The troubled brain's surcharged ventricle.
Of waking eyes, whose day is quench'd with night
At all spiritual apparitions' sight.” Our readers will agree with us that there is much valuable poetical matter here; and since the work is of so truly a Retrospective cast, since it contains so much of what is good, buried among so much that is obsolete, we propose to deviate from our ordinary plan, and to carry on our extracts in a future Number. Forty thousand lines are a large field for a botanist of any taste or industry–Our collection of flowers has far exceeded the compass of any reasonable anthological bouquet.
ART. VII.-Fynes Moryson's Itinerary: or Ten Years' Travells
through Great Britain and other parts of Europe. Folio, Part I. pp. 295. Part II. pp. 301. Part III. pp. 292. London, 1617.
To the enlightened and sincere friend of the improvement of his fellow creatures, no inquiries can be so attractive and encouraging as those which enable him to mark their progress, at different periods, in knowledge, civilization, and happiness.Such inquiries it is the peculiar nature and recommendation of our Review to enable him to niake and to satisfy. We point out, by the books we notice, what was known and thought, the state of the imagination, judgment, and reasoning powers,-the condition of mankind, half a century, a century, or two centuries ago, and thus furnish materials, at once amusing and instructive, for the study to which we have alluded.
The contrast between the most highly improved nation, and one in a state of native barbarism and ignorance, may be made, either by looking to examples of each, at present existing, or by comparing the former powers, with what it was in remote periods of its history, But the conviction, that mankind is in a regular state of improvement will be impressed much more deeply by the latter method : this enables us to prove the actual fact, as well as to trace the times and many of the causes of the various stages of improvement. Britain, as it is at present, we see gradually rising out of the barbarism and ignorance in which Cæsar found it, and we can lay our fingers on most of the influential causes of this advancement. Whereas, we find it difficult to foresee or to imagine when, or by what causes, the degraded people of Asia or Africa, or the savages of America, will receive even the first permanent impulse towards civil and political knowledge and happiness.
History gives us little information on this interesting subject: it is too much occupied with less pleasant and instructive topics : glimpses of the state of the great bulk of mankind may, indeed, appear in its pages, but they are not of such duration, extent, or minuteness, as to be of much service in this inquiry. Books of travels afford the most ample and satisfactory materials : he who reads a chronological series of travels in any country will receive information on this subject, at once the most to the point, and the most amusing. After rising from a perusal of the most ancient, and the most recent travels in China and Hindostan, he will be puzzled to assign to each its respective era, such a close and striking resemblance will be found
between the pictures they respectively exhibit, of the inhabitants of these countries. It is unnecessary to multiply examples of the series of lessons that may be drawn from books of travels chronologically read. There is, however, one fact such a course of study will make us acquainted with, to which we must advert. If we peruse travels in Britain, France, Germany, or almost
any other country in Europe, of a more remote date than a century or a century and a half, we shall be struck with the precedency in knowledge, comfort, and most kinds of improvement of almost every European nation over Britain.This precedency seems to have remained till the commencement of the last century : then our country began to approach very close to the most improved continental states ; she soon came up with them; then passed them, and, within the last fifty years, her superiority has advanced in the most rapid and astonishing manner. We know no subject so full of materials, at once interesting and instructive, as the contrast between Britain and its inhabitants at the beginning of the reign of George III., and at the beginning of the reign of our present sovereign.
Modern travellers possess several advantages over their predecessors; they can and ought to bring more science to their task. Hence, on all topics connected with science, especially natural history, modern travels must be infinitely more instructive: they are also superior in statistical information, and consequently unfold, more completely, the sources of national and individual wealth. But we doubt much, whether, in any other respect, modern travellers can be compared to their predecessors. They do not take so much time or pains; their objects are too various: they do not go into those minute details, furnished by old books of travels, from which the most accurate and complete picture of manners, and the state of society, may be drawn. We know much better from modern than from old travels, the plants, animals, minerals, geology, agriculture, manufactures, and commerce of Germany, but we question extremely, whether the latter do not introduce us to a more intimate and familiar acquaintance with the Germans themselves.
We speak advisedly, and within bounds, when we assert, that Fynes Moryson's work need not dread a comparison with any other book of travels, so far as amusing and instructive details, regarding manners, and the state of society, are concerned. There is, indeed, in his bulky volume, much that, to modern readers, is useless or uninteresting, and one portion that belongs to history and not to travels; but we cannot read many pages without being satisfied, that he was quick at observation, and that he had the faculty of selecting the most characteristic particulars of each nation, and of giving them with graphic force and liveliness.
VOL. XI. PART II.
Moryson was a student of Peter House, Cambridge, towards the end of the 16th century. In the year 1589, when he was twenty-three years old, he was appointed one of the travelling fellows. He seems to have spent nearly two years in pursuing such studies as would qualify him the better to travel, and in visiting his friends; and in May, 1591, he left England ; in the same month, 1595, he returned to his native country. This journey had given him a strong desire again to visit foreign countries, and, especially, Jerusalem and Constantinople. We shall introduce him to our readers at this time.
Being of this mind when I returned into England, it happened that my brother Henry was then beginning that voyage, having to that pur. pose put out some four hundred pounds, to be repaid twelve hundred pounds, upon his return from those two cities, and to lose it if he died in the journey. I say, he had thus put out the most part of his small estate, which, in England, is no better with gentlemen's younger sons, nor so good as with bastards in other places, as well for the English law most unmeasurably favouring elder brothers, as (let me boldly say it) for the ignorant pride of fathers, who to advance their eldest sons, drive the rest to desperate courses, and make them unable to live, or to spend any money in getting understanding and experience, so as they being in wants, and yet more miserable by their gentry and plentiful education, must needs rush into all vices; for all wise men confess, that nothing is more contrary to goodness than poverty. My brother being partner with other gentlemen in this fortune, thought this putting out of money to be an honest means of gaining, at least, the charges of his journey, and the rather, because it had not then been in England, that any man had gone this long journey by land, nor any like it, excepting only Master John Wrath, whom I name for honour, and more especially he thought this gain most honest and just; if this journey were compared with other base adventures for gain, which, long before this time, and were then in use. And I confess, that his resolution did not, at the first sight, dislike me. For I remembered, that this manner of gain had of old been in use among the inhabitants of the Low Countries, and sea coasts of Germany, (and so it is yet in use with them.) I remembered, that no mean Lords, and Lords' sons, and gentlemen in our court, had, in like sort, put out money upon a horserace, or speedy course of a horse, under themselves, yea, upon a journey on foot. I considered, that those kinds of gaining only required strength of body, whereas, this and the like required also vigour of mind, yea, that they often weakened the body, but this, and the like, always bettered the mind. I pass over infinite examples of the former customs, and will only add, that Earls, Lords, gentlemen, and all sorts of men, have used, time out of mind, to put out money to be repaid, with advantage, upon the birth of their next child, which kind of gain can no way be compared with the adventures of long journies; yea, I will boldly say, it is a base gain, where a man is hired to that dalliance with his wife, and to kill a man, so he may get a boy, as if he were to be encouraged to a game of Olympus.”