No. 364. Monday, April 28, 1712. Steele.

[--Navibus [1]] atque Quadrigis petimus bene vivere.'


A Lady of my Acquaintance, for whom I have too much Respect to be easy while she is doing an indiscreet Action, has given occasion to this Trouble: She is a Widow, to whom the Indulgence of a tender Husband has entrusted the Management of a very great Fortune, and a Son about sixteen, both which she is extremely fond of. The Boy has Parts of the middle Size, neither shining nor despicable, and has passed the common Exercises of his Years with tolerable Advantage; but is withal what you would call a forward Youth: By the Help of this last Qualification, which serves as a Varnish to all the rest, he is enabled to make the best Use of his Learning, and display it at full length upon all Occasions. Last Summer he distinguished himself two or three times very remarkably, by puzzling the Vicar before an Assembly of most of the Ladies in the Neighbourhood; and from such weighty Considerations as these, as it too often unfortunately falls out, the Mother is become invincibly persuaded that her Son is a great Scholar; and that to chain him down to the ordinary Methods of Education with others of his Age, would be to cramp his Faculties, and do an irreparable Injury to his wonderful Capacity.

I happened to visit at the House last Week, and missing the young Gentleman at the Tea-Table, where he seldom fails to officiate, could not upon so extraordinary a Circumstance avoid inquiring after him. My Lady told me, he was gone out with her Woman, in order to make some Preparations for their Equipage; for that she intended very speedily to carry him to travel. The Oddness of the Expression shock'd me a little; however, I soon recovered my self enough to let her know, that all I was willing to understand by it was, that she designed this Summer to shew her Son his Estate in a distant County, in which he has never yet been: But she soon took care to rob me of that agreeable Mistake, and let me into the whole Affair. She enlarged upon young Master's prodigious Improvements, and his comprehensive Knowledge of all Book-Learning; concluding, that it was now high time he should be made acquainted with Men and Things; that she had resolved he should make the Tour of France and Italy, but could not bear to have him out of her Sight, and therefore intended to go along with him.

I was going to rally her for so extravagant a Resolution, but found my self not in fit Humour to meddle with a Subject that demanded the most soft and delicate Touch imaginable. I was afraid of dropping something that might seem to bear hard either upon the Son's Abilities, or the Mother's Discretion; being sensible that in both these Cases, tho' supported with all the Powers of Reason, I should, instead of gaining her Ladyship over to my Opinion, only expose my self to her Disesteem: I therefore immediately determined to refer the whole Matter to the SPECTATOR.

When I came to reflect at Night, as my Custom is, upon the Occurrences of the Day, I could not but believe that this Humour of carrying a Boy to travel in his Mother's Lap, and that upon pretence of learning Men and Things, is a Case of an extraordinary Nature, and carries on it a particular Stamp of Folly. I did not remember to have met with its Parallel within the Compass of my Observation, tho' I could call to mind some not extremely unlike it. From hence my Thoughts took Occasion to ramble into the general Notion of Travelling, as it is now made a Part of Education. Nothing is more frequent than to take a Lad from Grammar and Taw, and under the Tuition of some poor Scholar, who is willing to be banished for thirty Pounds a Year, and a little Victuals, send him crying and snivelling into foreign Countries. Thus he spends his time as Children do at Puppet-Shows, and with much the same Advantage, in staring and gaping at an amazing Variety of strange things: strange indeed to one who is not prepared to comprehend the Reasons and Meaning of them; whilst he should be laying the solid Foundations of Knowledge in his Mind, and furnishing it with just Rules to direct his future Progress in Life under some skilful Master of the Art of Instruction.

Can there be a more astonishing Thought in Nature, than to consider how Men should fall into so palpable a Mistake? It is a large Field, and may very well exercise a sprightly Genius; but I don't remember you have yet taken a Turn in it. I wish, Sir, you would make People understand, that Travel is really the last Step to be taken in the Institution of Youth; and to set out with it, is to begin where they should end.

Certainly the true End of visiting Foreign Parts, is to look into their Customs and Policies, and observe in what Particulars they excel or come short of our own; to unlearn some odd Peculiarities in our Manners, and wear off such awkward Stiffnesses and Affectations in our Behaviour, as may possibly have been contracted from constantly associating with one Nation of Men, by a more free, general, and mixed Conversation. But how can any of these Advantages be attained by one who is a mere Stranger to the Custom sand Policies of his native Country, and has not yet fixed in his Mind the first Principles of Manners and Behaviour? To endeavour it, is to build a gawdy Structure without any Foundation; or, if I may be allow'd the Expression, to work a rich Embroidery upon a Cobweb.

Another End of travelling which deserves to be considerd, is the Improving our Taste of the best Authors of Antiquity, by seeing the Places where they lived, and of which they wrote; to compare the natural Face of the Country with the Descriptions they have given us, and observe how well the Picture agrees with the Original. This must certainly be a most charming Exercise to the Mind that is rightly turned for it; besides that it may in a good measure be made subservient to Morality, if the Person is capable of drawing just Conclusions concerning the Uncertainty of human things, from the ruinous Alterations Time and Barbarity have brought upon so many Palaces, Cities and whole Countries, which make the most illustrious Figures in History. And this Hint may be not a little improved by examining every Spot of Ground that we find celebrated as the Scene of some famous Action, or retaining any Footsteps of a Cato, Cicero or Brutus, or some such great virtuous Man. A nearer View of any such Particular, tho really little and trifling in it self, may serve the more powerfully to warm a generous Mind to an Emulation of their Virtues, and a greater Ardency of Ambition to imitate their bright Examples, if it comes duly temper'd and prepar'd for the Impression. But this I believe you'll hardly think those to be, who are so far from ent'ring into the Sense and Spirit of the Ancients, that they don't yet understand their Language with any [Exactness. [3]]

But I have wander'd from my Purpose, which was only to desire you to save, if possible, a fond English Mother, and Mother's own Son, from being shewn a ridiculous Spectacle thro' the most polite Part of Europe, Pray tell them, that though to be Sea-sick, or jumbled in an outlandish Stage-Coach, may perhaps be healthful for the Constitution of the Body, yet it is apt to cause such a Dizziness in young empty Heads, as too often lasts their Life-time. I am, SIR, Your most Humble Servant, Philip Homebred.



I was marry'd on Sunday last, and went peaceably to bed; but, to my Surprize, was awakend the next Morning by the Thunder of a Set of Drums. These warlike Sounds (methinks) are very improper in a Marriage-Consort, and give great Offence; they seem to insinuate, that the Joys of this State are short, and that Jars and Discord soon ensue. I fear they have been ominous to many Matches, and sometimes proved a Prelude to a Battel in the Honey-Moon. A Nod from you may hush them; therefore pray, Sir, let them be silenced, that for the future none but soft Airs may usher in the Morning of a Bridal Night, which will be a Favour not only to those who come after, but to me, who can still subscribe my self,

Your most humble and most obedient Servant, Robin Bridegroom.


I am one of that sort of Women whom the gayer Part of our Sex are apt to call a Prude. But to shew them that I have very little Regard to their Raillery, I shall be glad to see them all at The Amorous Widow, or the Wanton Wife, which is to be acted, for the Benefit of Mrs. Porter, on Monday the 28th Instant. I assure you I can laugh at an Amorous Widow, or Wanton Wife, with as little Temptation to imitate them, as I could at any other vicious Character. Mrs. Porter obliged me so very much in the exquisite Sense she seemed to have of the honourable Sentiments and noble Passions in the Character of Hermione, that I shall appear in her behalf at a Comedy, tho I have not great Relish for any Entertainments where the Mirth is not seasond with a certain Severity, which ought to recommend it to People who pretend to keep Reason and Authority over all their Actions.

I am, SIR, Your frequent Reader, Altamira.


[Footnote 1: [Strenua nos exercet inertia: Navibus.]]

[Footnote 2: Dr. Thomas Birch, in a letter dated June 15, 1764, says that this letter was by Mr. Philip Yorke, afterwards Earl of Hardwicke, who was author also of another piece in the Spectator, but his son could not remember what that was.]

[Footnote 3:


I cant quit this head without paying my Acknowledgments to one of the most entertaining Pieces this Age has produc'd, for the Pleasure it gave me. You will easily guess, that the Book I have in my head is Mr. A----s Remarks upon Italy. That Ingenious gentleman has with so much Art and Judgment applied his exact Knowledge of all the Parts of Classical Learning to illustrate the several occurrences of his Travels, that his Work alone is a pregnant Proof of what I have said. No Body that has a Taste this way, can read him going from Rome to Naples, and making Horace and Silius Italicus his Chart, but he must feel some Uneasiness in himself to Reflect that he was not in his Retinue. I am sure I wish'd it Ten Times in every Page, and that not without a secret Vanity to think in what State I should have Travelled the Appian Road with Horace for a Guide, and in company with a Countryman of my own, who of all Men living knows best how to follow his Steps.]

Translation of motto:
HOR. 1 Ep. xi. 29.
'Anxious through seas and land to search for rest,
Is but laborious idleness at best.'