« FöregåendeFortsätt »
This consideration leads to another capital advantage possessed by him, which is that of the track he is generally able to pursue in his excursions. To the pedestrian, the soft and verdant path over enclosures or through corn fields is open ; while the horseman and charioteer is obliged to toil along the turnpike road, where, in the finest season of the year, he is choaked with clouds of dust, and confined between hedges that exclude all prospect and free circulation of air. There cannot be a greater difference with respect to enjoymept than in these two situations. To the first, every step is pleasure; the green carpet on which he treads, the pure atmosphere he respires, and the perpetual change of landscape before his eyes, keep the mind in a delightful state of agreeable emotion. Such were the feelings that dwelt on the memory
of, Cowper when composing the following lines :
For I have loved the rural walk through lanes
swarth close cropt by nibbling sbeep,
T'enjoy a ramble on the banks of Thames. The others, meanwhile, are in a state of actual suffering, with nothing to solace them but the hope of at length emerging into some opener spot, where they may take the air instead of the dust, and make some use of their eye-sight.
It is the privilege of the pedestrian to quit at will the direct path, and digress to every spot that strikes his fancy. He may ascend the neighbouring eminence, plunge into the depth of the subjacent valley, follow the windings of the stream, and thus in. vestigate all the beauties of a romantic country, and make discoveries of the most favourable points of view in every landscape. By change of situation he can give an exhaustless variety to the scenes through which he passes, and group their constituent parts into new forms of picturesque beauty. The high roads of the most varied country must have a degree of tameness and uniformity, from their leading purpose of taking the shortest and levellest course, and will necessarily avoid some of the most remarkable spots; hence it is a truth admitted by all tourists, that a pictų. resque district can be thoroughly surveyed only on foot. Gray, thạn whom no one seems to have had a higher relish for the beau. ties of landscape, is said to have missed some of the finest points of view at the Westmoreland lakes, because he could not approach with his chaise, and was too delicate or timid to scramble among crags and precipices.
If the pedestrian is also a naturalist, his advantages are twa. fold augmented; indeed, be can scarcely be a naturalist unless he is an able pedestrian. The botanist must not expect to find a harvest while riding along the gravel road. All rare and curious plants retire from common observation, and are only to be met with on alpine heights or rocky scars, in the depth of woods, in wet marshes, or shaking bogs. The mineralogist must climb hills, dive into quarries, and examine the strata of the earth on the face of precipices. On a walking expedition such inducements to stray to difficult and unfrequented spots are a source of the keenesti delight, not less intense than those felt by the sportsman, and of a purer kind; and perhaps, in the whole range of externat pleasures, there is none more truly gratifying both to the senses and the intellect, than that derived from free excursions over a varied country, with the double object of exploring its picturesque scenery, and discovering the riches of its natural products.
I may seem now, however, to have got beyond that humble amusement of walking with which I commenced, and which supposes limitation to a circle of country within the reach of one who cannot conveniently indulge in distant rambles; for it will seldom happen that many objects of curiosity or novelty are contained in such a circle of which a considerable town is the centre. Yet there are few of our cities or provincial capitals which are so unhappily placed as not to possess in their vicinity much pleasing rural scenery, though, as I have frequently observed, it is little known to the more opulent inhabitants, whose excursions are con. fined to the high roads. The neighbourhood of the metropolis, in particular, affords many beauties of this kind, though it is not in general regarded as one of the more picturesque districts of the kingdom. Its noble river, its richly cultivated plain, the wooded eminences that bound it at a moderate distance on each side, and the countless villas with which,
Like a swarth Indian with his belt of beads, it is begirt in every direction, present objects that cannot fail of gratifying both the eye of taste and the heart of sensibility for I would by no means have my pedestrian encourage a misanthropical disdain of pleasures in which he cannot participate, but rather accustom himself to rejoice with the possessor of a more splendid lot, while he is satisfied with his own. Such is the profusion of agreeable variety from the sources above-mentioned within the reach of the London pedestrian, that the fine weather of a whole summer might be employed in walking excursions without exhausting all the novelty, especially if the circuit were a little extended by the occasional help of a stage coach.
I might add, that walking offers peculiar opportunities for shew. ing the different manners, employments, and modes of life of the mass of people, which escape the notice of those who travel with hidre apparatus. The pedestrian, reducing himself more to the level of the inferior classes, and falling more in their way, may teadily draw from them any information they are able to give.. He máy converse with the labourer in the fields, or the workman at his task, chat with the cottager's family as he stops to ask the road or shelter from a shower, and listen to the group at an ale. house door while he sits to rest him on the bench. There are, indeed, those who would keep aloof from all such communication -with the vulgar, lest it should impair that conscious dignity which they are the more solicitous to preserve in proportion as it is less outwardly apparent. But let them reflect that the proud patrician would treat them with just the same haughty distance that they observe to the peasant; notwithstanding all their attempts at selfconsequence, and that true dignity, which dwells in the mind, cannot be forfeited by voluntary condescension. - Man is man all the world over--in all states an object worth contemplating, and never despicable unless morally so.) am, Sir, your's, &c.
ART. IV.Defects in Classical Education.
-“ Vos sævas imponite leges,'
JUVENAL, Sat. VII. v. 229-36
With how much wine the Trojans left his eourt."-GIFFORD. 66 It is impossible," observes Mr. Gifford in a note on this passage, " to suppress a smile at the perverse industry of modern criticks, in hunting out what Juvenal represents as puzzling those of his own time. The purse of Anebises and the step-dam of
Archemorus, are now no longer secrets." Perhaps, the ridicule which Juvenal attaches to this kind of tormenting knowledge originates not so much in it's being “ puzzling," as in it's utter uselessness and insignificance. However, as we know by woeful experience how puzzling it is to us in these latter days, I shall proceed without further preface to string together a few cursory remarks on that system of education, of which it appears to be deemed an essential and indispensable branch.
That the study of the classics is at all a superfluous branch of, education, I would not be understood to insinuate. So much of it as is either useful or ornamental cannot be destitute of value: whatever contributes to refine the taste or enlarge the understanda ing cannot be superfluous. There are treasures of knowledge and wisdom in the writings of the ancients, which he who attempts to fathom cannot be accused of an abuse of his time, there is an mexhaustible mine of poetry open to the investigation of modern readers, which has had the merit, in addition to the immediate delight it afforded, of polishing the taste and modelling the writings of succeeding poets. However the acquisition of superior knowledge may have exalted the moderns to a superiority above the ancients in the different branches of wience, yet it is from the ancients themselves that the rudiments of that science have been elicited; and we ought not, because we have risen by their assist. ance to a pre-eminence above themselves, to be so ridiculously supercilious as to spurn from under us the ladder which has been the instrument of our elevation. It is in reference to the Roman as well as the Grecian writers, that the advice of the Roman critic may be quoted and applied to modern students :“ Nocturnâ versate manu, versate diurna."
Hor. Ars Poet, v. 269. Yet, to so noble a study, as that of the classics must be acknow. ledged to be, it is to be lamented that the accumulating curiosity of succeeding ages has attached such a confused mass of mythological absurdity, as is almost sufficient to deter the uninitiated from attempting the hopeless labyrinth. It is evident that, as things are, he is not a proficient in classical literature, who has merely studied the ancient writers with success; who has investi. gated their philosophy, moral and political, and compared and digested the discordant systems; who has examined by their help the history of the manners and exploits of the most ancient nations of the world ; and who has fed his fancy, improved his judgment, and modelled his taste upon the rich poetical treasures of the Greeks and Romans, unless to all this be superadded an accurate know. ledge not merely of the genealogy, but of the crimes and monstrosities of the Heathen Gods --of all the adulteries of
VOL. II. NO. IV.
Jupiter, and every descendant from him, direct and collateral, to the twentieth or fiftieth generation,-in short, of every thing scraped together from the poetical gossips of antiquity, which may contribute not merely needlessly to perplex the memory, but even to corrupt the morals of the young student.*
It cannot be denied that a great proportion of this knowledge is absolutely indispensable in a scholar; because, “ in order to make a true estimate of the abilities and merit of a writer, it is always necessary to examine the genius of his age, and the opinions of his contemporaries.” Now, the writings of Orid and Pindar, for instance, are so replete with mythological allusion, that it is impossible for any one even to attain a tolerable understanding of them, who has not his memory stored with those fables by which their poetry is alternately adorned and debased. In Pindar this rage for fabulous wonders is frequently made subservient to historical elucidation ;-if elucidation it may be called, which, by Jabouring to deduce in a clear line the descent of the subject of his panegyric' from Jupiter, distracts the attention of the reader from the sublimities of his poetry, and involves him in the mazes of genealogical registers. Still it will not be denied, that the mythology with which it is encumbered is far the dullest part of Pindar's style; and that his poetry might be rendered much more interesting and edifying by being divested of the trammels of fable.
It does appear, then; to be a fault in education, that the memoryi of a schoolboy is too frequently börthened with more of this kind of knowledge than is necessary. Granting that a certain portion is necessary, it seems a species of cruelty, which involves more than the waste of time, to exact any thing beyond that portion. It is evident, that to know who was the nurse of Ang chises, and who the step-dam of Archemorus;
“ How long Acestes flourish'd; and, in short,
With how much wine the Trojans left his court, with other things of this kind,-cannot add either to the wisdom er happiness of man; why, then, should it be thought a thing dise
* It is singular enough that Aristophanes, that intrépid scoffer of the Gods, has represented the Unjust Man in his Nubes, addncing the example of upiter as his last, and most forcible : argument to seduce his pupil. The following passage is spoken of Jupiter :
* Κάκείνος ώς ήττων έρωτός έστι και γυναικών