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once tell whether it flows along a plain (like the river Meander which has given its name to such windings) or through a rocky and hilly country. It is found, indeed, that if a straight channel be cut for any stream in a plain consisting of tolerably soft soil, it never will long continue straight, unless artificially kept so, but becomes crooked, and increases its windings more and more every year. The cause is, that any little wearing away of the bank in the softest part of the soil, on one side, occasions a set of the stream against this hollow, which increases it, and at the same time drives the water aslant against the opposite bank a little lower down. This wears away that bank also; and thus the stream is again driven against a part of the first bank, still lower; and so on, till by the wearing away of the banks at these points on each side, and the deposit of mud (gradually becoming dry land) in the comparatively still water between them, the course of the stream becomes sinuous, and its windings increase more and more.
'And even thus, in human affairs, we find alternate movements, in nearly opposite directions, taking place from time to time, and generally bearing some proportion to each other in respect of the violence of each; even as the highest flood-tide is succeeded by the lowest ebb.
'We find—in the case of political affairs,—that the most servile submission to privileged classes, and the grossest abuses of power by these, have been the precursors of the wildest ebullitions of popular fury,—of the overthrow indiscriminately of ancient institutions, good and bad,—and of the most turbulent democracy; generally proportioned, in its extravagance and violence, to the degree of previous oppression and previous degradation. And again, we find that whenever men have become heartily wearied of licentious anarchy, their eagerness has been proportionably great to embrace the opposite extreme of rigorous despotism; like shipwrecked mariners clinging to a bare and rugged rock as a refuge from the waves.
'And when we look to the history of religious changes, the prospect is similar. The formalism, the superstition, and the priestcraft which prevailed for so many ages throughout Christendom, led, in many instances, by a natural reaction, to the wildest irregularities of fanaticism or profaneness. 'We find antinomian licentiousness, in some instances, the successor of the pretended merit of what were called 'good works;' in others, the rejection altogether of the christian Sacraments, succeeding the superstitious abuse of them; the legitimate claims of every visible Church utterly disowned by the descendants of those who had groaned under a spiritual tyranny; pretensions to individual personal Inspiration, set up by those who had revolted from that tyranny; and in short, every variety of extravagance that was most contrasted with the excesses and abuses that had before prevailed.'
Such are the lessons which Reason and wide Experience would teach to those who 'have ears to hear,' and which the wisest men in various ages have laboured, and generally laboured in vain, to inculcate. For, all Eeason, all Experience, and the authority of all the wise, are too often powerless when opposed to excited party-spirit.1
We cannot, then, be too much on our guard against reactions, lest we rush from one fault into another contrary fault. We should remember also that all admixture of truth with error has a double danger: some admit both together; others reject both. And hence, nothing is harmless that is mistaken either for a truth or for a virtue.
In no point, we may be assured, is our spiritual Enemy more vigilant . He is ever ready not merely to tempt us with the unmixed poison of known sin, but to corrupt even our food, and to taint even our medicine, with the venom of his falsehood. For, religion is a medicine of the soul; it is the designed and appropriate preventive and remedy for the evils of our nature. The subtle Tempter well knows that no other allurements to sin would be of much avail, if this medicine were assiduously applied, and applied in unadulterated purity; and he knows that superstition is the specific poison which may be the most easily blended with true religion, and which will the most completely destroy its efficacy.
It is for us then to take heed that the 'light which is in us be not darkness;' that our religion be kept pure from the noxious admixture of superstition; and it is for us to observe the errors of others with a view to our own correction, and to our own preservation, instead of contemplating 'the mote that is in our brother's eye, while we behold not the beam that is in our own eye.' Our conscience, if we carefully regulate, and diligently consult it, will be ready, after we have seen and condemned (which is no hard task) the faults of our neighbour, to furnish us (where there is need) with that salutary admonition which the self-blinded King of Israel received' from the mouth of the Prophet, 'Thou art the man.''
1 Sec Cautions for the Times, No. XLX.
ESSAY XVIII. OF TRAVEL.
TRAVEL, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience. He that travelleth into a country, before he hath some entrance into the language, goeth to school, and not to travel. That young men travel under some tutor, or grave servant, I allow' well; so that he be such a one that hath the language, and hath been in the country before; whereby he may be able to tell them what things are worthy to be seen in the country where they go, what acquaintances they are to seek, what exercises or discipline the place yieldeth; for else young men shall go hooded, and look abroad little.
It is a strange thing that, in sea-voyages, where there is nothing to be seen but sky and sea, men should make diaries; but in land-travel, wherein so much is to be observed, for the most part tbey omit it—as if chance were fitter to be registered than observation. Let diaries, therefore, be brought in use.
The things to be seen and observed are the courts of princes, especially when they give audience to ambassadors; the courts of justice, while they sit and hear causes; and so of consistories ecclesiastic; the churches and monasteries, with the monuments which are therein extant; the walls and fortifications of cities and towns; and so the havens and harbours, antiquities and ruins, libraries, colleges, disputations and lectures, where any are; shipping and navies; houses and gardens of state and pleasure near great cities; armories, arsenals, magazines, exchanges, burses,2 warehouses, exercises of horsemanship, fencing, training of soldiers, and the like; comedies, such whereunto the better sort of persons do resort; treasuries of jewels and robes; cabinets and rarities; and, to conclude, whatsoever is memorable in the places where they go—after all which, the tutors or servants ought to make diligent inquiry. As for triumphs,1 masks, feasts, weddings, funerals, capital executions, and such shows, men need not be put in mind of them; yet they are not to be neglected. If you will have a young man to put his travel into a little room, and in short time to gather much, this you must do: first, as was said, he must have some entrance into the language before he goeth; then he must have such a servant, or tutor, as knoweth the country, as was likewise said; let him carry with him also some card, or book, describing the country where he travelleth, which will be a good key to his inquiry; let him keep also a diary; let him not stay long in one city or town, more or less as the place deserveth, but not long; nay, when he stayeth in one city or town, let him change his lodging from one end and part of the town to another, which is a great adamant2 of acquaintance; let him sequester himself from the company of his countrymen, and diet in such places where there is good company of the nation where he travelleth; let him, upon his removes from one place to another, procure recommendation to some person of quality residing in the place whither he removeth, that he may use his favour in those things he desireth to see or know; thus he may abridge his travel with much profit.
1 Allow. Approve. 'The Lord allovxth the righteous.'—Psalms.
1 Burse. Exchange; bourse. (So called from the sign of a purse being anciently set over the places where merchants met.) 'Fraternities and compauies 1 approve of, such as merchants' Vurses.'—Burton.
As for the acquaintance which is to be sought in travel, that which is most of all profitable, is, acquaintance with the secretaries, and employed men of ambassadors; for so in travelling in one country he shall suck the experience of many. Let him also see and visit eminent persons in all kinds, which are of great name abroad, that he may be able to tell how the life agreeth with the fame. For quarrels, they are with care and discretion to be avoided—they are commonly for mistresses, healths, place, and words: and let a man beware how he keepeth company with choleric and quarrelsome persons; for they will engage him into3 their own quarrels. When a traveller returneth home, let him not leave the countries where he hath travelled altogether behind him, but maintain a corre
1 Triumphs. Public shorn of any kind.
'Hold those justs and triumphs.'—Shakespere.
2 Adamant. For loaihUme.
'You drew me, you liard-hearted adamant.'—Shakespere.
3 Into. In. 'How much more may education induce by custom good habits into a reasonable creature.'—Locke.