Another cautionary tale shared by the Listener at La Belle Assemblee, lamenting the fashion during the Regency of travelling abroad:
“Engaged in a continual tumult, he calls that living which is only wandering through the wilderness of existence.”
— La Belle Assemblee, February, 1818
The writer, simply named Alfred, relates that travel used to be extremely arduous, even dangerous, and undertaken only in matters of urgent business, like claiming an inheritance or filing a lawsuit.
The traveller would be male, well-matured and careful to put his affairs in order before setting out, even if it meant updating his will.
His departure was attended with tears and ardent prayers for his safe return.
Nowadays, he writes, travelling is undertaken not so much to accomplish anything, but for pleasure alone:
Irishmen come to England and Englishmen go to Ireland. The natives of Somersetshire come to London, and the Londoners flock to Bath.
It has become common for families to be divided by great distance, and, more sadly, by time, spanning as much as thirty years. The traveller nevertheless is content, and eventually forgets “his dearest friends and brethren.”
Still, he cannot escape the dissatisfaction of a prodigal son, finding few he can call truly friend and surrounded by “men who seek to deceive us, and women who beguile us.”
Truly unfortunate is the one who realizes, when he finally returns home, that Death has taken the place of the one–
“..whom he had ardently desired to have embraced once more, or to have had the pious gratification of catching their last sigh, and closing those eyes that were shut forever from the light of day!