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Title: The Footpath Way - An Anthology for Walkers
Author: Scott, Walter, Smith, Sidney, Hazlitt, William, al., Walton, Izaak
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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The Footpath Way



Hilaire Belloc

[Illustration: Logo]

Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd.

_All Rights Reserved_


INTRODUCTION                              1

_H. Belloc_


_Sidney Smith_

ON GOING A JOURNEY                       19

_William Hazlitt_


_Izaak Walton_

A STROLLING PEDLAR                       39

_Sir Walter Scott_

A STOUT PEDESTRIAN                       42

_Sir Walter Scott_

LAKE SCENERY                             48

_William Wordsworth_

WALKING, AND THE WILD                    52

_H. D. Thoreau_

A YOUNG TRAMP                           104

_Charles Dickens_


_Thomas de Quincey_

A RESOLUTION                            116

_George Borrow_

THE SNOWDON RANGER                      131

_George Borrow_

SONG OF THE OPEN ROAD                   143

_Walt Whitman_

WALKING TOURS                           159

_R. L. Stevenson_


_Gentleman's Magazine_

MINCHMOOR                               175

_Dr John Brown_

IN PRAISE OF WALKING                    191

_Leslie Stephen_


_John Burroughs_


The thanks of the publishers are due to: Messrs Chatto & Windus, Messrs
Duckworth, and Messrs Houghton Miflin of Boston, U.S.A., for permission
to include R. L. Stevenson's _Walking Tours_; Sir Leslie Stephen's _In
Praise of Walking_; and Mr John Burroughs' _The Exhilarations of the
Road_, from "Winter Sunshine"; also to Mr A. H. Bullen for the extract
from _The Gentleman's Magazine_.


So long as man does not bother about what he is or whence he came or
whither he is going, the whole thing seems as simple as the verb "to
be"; and you may say that the moment he does begin thinking about what
he is (which is more than thinking that he is) and whence he came and
whither he is going, he gets on to a lot of roads that lead nowhere,
and that spread like the fingers of a hand or the sticks of a fan;
so that if he pursues two or more of them he soon gets beyond his
straddle, and if he pursues only one he gets farther and farther from
the rest of all knowledge as he proceeds. You may say that and it will
be true. But there is one kind of knowledge a man does get when he
thinks about what he is, whence he came and whither he is going, which
is this: that it is the only important question he can ask himself.

Now the moment a man begins asking himself those questions (and all men
begin at some time or another if you give them rope enough) man finds
himself a very puzzling fellow. There was a school--it can hardly be
called a school of philosophy--and it is now as dead as mutton, but
anyhow there _was_ a school which explained the business in the very
simple method known to the learned as tautology--that is, saying the
same thing over and over again. For just as the woman in Molière was
dumb because she was affected with the quality of dumbness, so man,
according to this school, did all the extraordinary things he does do
because he had developed in that way. They took in a lot of people
while they were alive (I believe a few of the very old ones still
survive), they took in nobody more than themselves; but they have
not taken in any of the younger generation. We who come after these
scientists continue to ask ourselves the old question, and if there is
no finding of an answer to it, so much the worse; for asking it, every
instinct of our nature tells us, is the proper curiosity of man.

Of the great many things which man does which he should not do or need
not do, if he were wholly explained by the verb "to be," you may count
walking. Of course if you build up a long series of guesses as to the
steps by which he learnt to walk, and call _that_ an explanation, there
is no more to be said. It is as though I were to ask you why Mr Smith
went to Liverpool, and you were to answer by giving me a list of all
the stations between Euston and Lime Street, in their exact order. At
least that is what it would be like if your guesses were accurate,
not only in their statement, but also in their proportion, and also
in their order. It is millions to one that your guesses are nothing
of the kind. But even granted by a miracle that you have got them all
quite right (which is more than the wildest fanatic would grant to the
dearest of his geologians) it tells me nothing.

What on earth persuaded the animal to go on like that? Or was it
nothing on earth but something in heaven?

Just watch a man walking, if he is a proper man, and see the business
of it: how he expresses his pride, or his determination, or his
tenacity, or his curiosity, or perhaps his very purpose in his stride!
Well, all that business of walking that you are looking at is a piece
of extraordinarily skilful trick-acting, such that were the animal
not known to do it you would swear he could never be trained to it by
any process, however lengthy, or however minute, or however strict.
This is what happens when a man walks: first of all he is in stable
equilibrium, though the arc of stability is minute. If he stands with
his feet well apart, his centre of gravity (which is about half way
up him or a little more) may oscillate within an arc of about five
degrees on either side of stability and tend to return to rest. But
if it oscillates beyond that five degrees or so, the stability of his
equilibrium is lost, and down he comes. Men have been known to sleep
standing up without a support, especially on military service, which is
the most fatiguing thing in the world; but it is extremely rare, and
you may say of a man so standing, even with his feet well spread, that
he is already doing a fine athletic feat.

But wait a moment: he desires to go, to proceed, to reach a distant
point, and instead of going on all fours, where equilibrium would
indeed be stable, what does he do? He deliberately lifts one of his
supports off the ground, and sends his equilibrium to the devil; at the
same time he leans a little forward so as to make himself fall towards
the object he desires to attain. You do not know that he does this,
but that is because you are a man and your ignorance of it is like the
ignorance in which so many really healthy people stand to religion, or
the ignorance of a child who thinks his family established for ever in
comfort, wealth and security. What you really do, man, when you want to
get to that distant place (and let this be a parable of all adventure
and of all desire) is to take an enormous risk, the risk of coming
down bang and breaking something: you lift one foot off the ground,
and, as though that were not enough, you deliberately throw your centre
of gravity forward so that you begin to fall.

That is the first act of the comedy.

The second act is that you check your fall by bringing the foot which
you had swung into the air down upon the ground again.

That you would say was enough of a bout. Slide the other foot up, take
a rest, get your breath again and glory in your feat. But not a bit of
it! The moment you have got that loose foot of yours firm on the earth,
you use the impetus of your first tumble to begin another one. You get
your centre of gravity by the momentum of your going well forward of
the foot that has found the ground, you lift the other foot without
a care, you let it swing in the fashion of a pendulum, and you check
your second fall in the same manner as you checked your first; and even
after that second clever little success you do not bring your feet
both firmly to the ground to recover yourself before the next venture:
you go on with the business, get your centre of gravity forward of the
foot that is now on the ground, swinging the other beyond it like a
pendulum, stopping your third catastrophe, and so on; and you have
come to do all this so that you think it the most natural thing in the

Not only do you manage to do it but you can do it in a thousand ways,
as a really clever acrobat will astonish his audience not only by
walking on the tight-rope but by eating his dinner on it. You can walk
quickly or slowly, or look over your shoulder as you walk, or shoot
fairly accurately as you walk; you can saunter, you can force your
pace, you can turn which way you will. You certainly did not teach
yourself to accomplish this marvel, nor did your nurse. There was a
spirit within you that taught you and that brought you out; and as it
is with walking, so it is with speech, and so at last with humour and
with irony, and with affection, and with the sense of colour and of
form, and even with honour, and at last with prayer.

By all this you may see that man is very remarkable, and this should
make you humble, not proud; for you have been designed in spite of
yourself for some astonishing fate, of which these mortal extravagances
so accurately seized and so well moulded to your being are but the

Walking, like talking (which rhymes with it, I am glad to say), being
so natural a thing to man, so varied and so unthought about, is
necessarily not only among his chief occupations but among his most
entertaining subjects of commonplace and of exercise.

Thus to walk without an object is an intense burden, as it is to talk
without an object. To walk because it is good for you warps the soul,
just as it warps the soul for a man to talk for hire or because he
thinks it his duty. On the other hand, walking with an object brings
out all that there is in a man, just as talking with an object does.
And those who understand the human body, when they confine themselves
to what they know and are therefore legitimately interesting, tell us
this very interesting thing which experience proves to be true: that
walking of every form of exercise is the most general and the most
complete, and that while a man may be endangered by riding a horse
or by running or swimming, or while a man may easily exaggerate any
violent movement, walking will always be to his benefit--that is, of
course, so long as he does not warp his soul by the detestable habit of
walking for no object but exercise. For it has been so arranged that
the moment we begin any minor and terrestrial thing as an object in
itself, or with merely the furtherance of some other material thing,
we hurt the inward part of us that governs all. But walk for glory or
for adventure, or to see new sights, or to pay a bill or to escape
the same, and you will very soon find how consonant is walking with
your whole being. The chief proof of this (and how many men have tried
it, and in how many books does not that truth shine out!) is the way
in which a man walking becomes the cousin or the brother of everything

If you will look back upon your life and consider what landscapes
remain fixed in your memory, some perhaps you will discover to have
struck you at the end of long rides or after you have been driven for
hours, dragged by an animal or a machine. But much the most of these
visions have come to you when you were performing that little miracle
with a description of which I began this: and what is more, the visions
that you get when you are walking, merge pleasantly into each other.
Some are greater, some lesser, and they make a continuous whole. The
great moments are led up to and are fittingly framed.

There is no time or weather, in England at least, in which a man
walking does not feel this cousinship with everything round. There
are weathers that are intolerable if you are doing anything else but
walking: if you are crouching still against a storm or if you are
driving against it; or if you are riding in extreme cold; or if you are
running too quickly in extreme heat; but it is not so with walking.
You may walk by night or by day, in summer or in winter, in fair
weather or in foul, in calm or in a gale, and in every case you are
doing something native to yourself and going the best way you could go.
All men have felt this.

Walking, also from this same natural quality which it has, introduces
particular sights to you in their right proportion. A man gets into his
motor car, or more likely into somebody else's, and covers a great many
miles in a very few hours. And what remains to him at the end of it,
when he looks closely into the pictures of his mind, is a curious and
unsatisfactory thing: there are patches of blurred nothingness like an
uneasy sleep, one or two intense pieces of impression, disconnected,
violently vivid and mad, a red cloak, a shining streak of water, and
more particularly a point of danger. In all that ribbon of sights,
each either much too lightly or much too heavily impressed, he is
lucky if there is one great view which for one moment he seized and
retained from a height as he whirled along. The whole record is like a
bit of dry point that has been done by a hand not sure of itself upon
a plate that trembled, now jagged chiselling bit into the metal; now
blurred or hardly impressed it at all: only in some rare moment of
self-possession or of comparative repose did the hand do what it willed
and transfer its power.

You may say that riding upon a horse one has a better chance. That is
true, but after all one is busy riding. Look back upon the very many
times that you have ridden, and though you will remember many things
you will not remember them in that calm and perfect order in which they
presented themselves to you when you were afoot. As for a man running,
if it be for any distance the effort is so unnatural as to concentrate
upon himself all a man's powers, and he is almost blind to exterior
things. Men at the end of such efforts are actually and physically
blind; they fall helpless.

Then there is the way of looking at the world which rich men imagine
they can purchase with money when they build a great house looking over
some view--but it is not in the same street with walking! You see the
sight nine times out of ten when you are ill attuned to it, when your
blood is slow and unmoved, and when the machine is not going. When you
are walking the machine is always going, and every sense in you is
doing what it should with the right emphasis and in due discipline to
make a perfect record of all that is about.

Consider how a man walking approaches a little town; he sees it a long
way off upon a hill; he sees its unity, he has time to think about it a
great deal. Next it is hidden from him by a wood, or it is screened by
a roll of land. He tops this and sees the little town again, now much
nearer, and he thinks more particularly of its houses, of the way in
which they stand, and of what has passed in them. The sky, especially
if it has large white clouds in it and is for the rest sunlit and blue,
makes something against which he can see the little town, and gives it
life. Then he is at the outskirts, and he does not suddenly occupy it
with a clamour or a rush, nor does he merely contemplate it, like a man
from a window, unmoving. He enters in. He passes, healthily wearied,
human doors and signs; he can note all the names of the people and the
trade at which they work; he has time to see their faces. The square
broadens before him, or the market-place, and so very naturally and
rightly he comes to his inn, and he has fulfilled one of the great ends
of man.

Lord, how tempted one is here to make a list of those monsters who are
the enemies of inns!

There is your monster who thinks of it as a place to which a man
does not walk but into which he slinks to drink; and there is your
monster who thinks of it as a place to be reached in a railway train
and there to put on fine clothes for dinner and to be waited upon by
Germans. There is your more amiable monster, who says: "I hear there
is a good inn at Little Studley or Bampton Major. Let us go there."
He waits until he has begun to be hungry, and he shoots there in an
enormous automobile. There is your still more amiable monster, who in a
hippo-mobile hippogriffically tools into a town and throws the ribbons
to the person in gaiters with a straw in his mouth, and feels (oh, men,
my brothers) that he is doing something like someone in a book. All
these men, whether they frankly hate or whether they pretend to love,
are the enemies of inns, and the enemies of inns are accursed before
their Creator and their kind.

There are some things which are a consolation for Eden and which
clearly prove to the heavily-burdened race of Adam that it has retained
a memory of diviner things. We have all of us done evil. We have
permitted the modern cities to grow up, and we have told such lies
that now we are accursed with newspapers. And we have so loved wealth
that we are all in debt, and that the poor are a burden to us and the
rich are an offence. But we ought to keep up our hearts and not to
despair, because we can still all of us pray when there is an absolute
necessity to do so, and we have wormed out the way of building up that
splendid thing which all over Christendom men know under many names and
which is called in England an INN.

I have sometimes wondered when I sat in one of these places, remaking
my soul, whether the inn would perish out of Europe. I am convinced
the terror was but the terror which we always feel for whatever is
exceedingly beloved.

There is an inn in the town of Piacenza into which I once walked while
I was still full of immortality, and there I found such good companions
and so much marble, rooms so large and empty and so old, and cooking so
excellent, that I made certain it would survive even that immortality
which, I say, was all around. But no! I came there eight years later,
having by that time heard the noise of the Subterranean River and
being well conscious of mortality. I came to it as to a friend, and
the beastly thing had changed! In place of the grand stone doors there
was a sort of twirlygig like the things that let you in to the Zoo,
where you pay a shilling, and inside there were decorations made up of
meaningless curves like those with which the demons have punished the
city of Berlin; the salt at the table was artificial and largely made
of chalk, and the faces of the host and hostess were no longer kind.

I very well remember another inn which was native to the Chiltern
Hills. This place had bow windows, which were divided into medium-sized
panes, each of the panes a little rounded; and these window-panes were
made of that sort of glass which I will adore until I die, and which
has the property of distorting exterior objects: of such glass the
windows of schoolrooms and of nurseries used to be made. I came to that
place after many years by accident, and I found that Orcus, which has
devoured all lovely things, had devoured this too. The inn was called
"an Hotel," its front was rebuilt, the window's had only two panes,
each quite enormous and flat, one above and one below, and the glass
was that sort of thick, transparent glass through which it is no use to
look, for you might as well be looking through air. All the faces were
strange except that of one old servant in the stable-yard. I asked him
if he regretted the old front, and he said "Lord, no!" Then he told me
in great detail how kind the brewers had been to his master and how
willingly they had rebuilt the whole place. These things reconcile one
with the grave.

Well then, if walking, which has led me into this digression, prepares
one for the inns where they are worthy, it has another character as
great and as symbolic and as worthy of man. For remember that of the
many ways of walking there is one way which is the greatest of all, and
that is to walk away.

Put your hand before your eyes and remember, you that have walked, the
places from which you have walked away, and the wilderness into which
you manfully turned the steps of your abandonment.

There is a place above the Roman Wall beyond the River Tyne where
one can do this thing. Behind one lies the hospitality and the human
noise which have inhabited the town of the river valley for certainly
two thousand years. Before one is the dead line of the road, and that
complete emptiness of the moors as they rise up toward Cheviot on the
one hand and Carter Fell upon the other. The earth is here altogether
deserted and alone: you go out into it because it is your business to
go: you are walking away. As for your memories, they are of no good to
you except to lend you that dignity which can always support a memoried
man; you are bound to forget, and it is your business to leave all that
you have known altogether behind you, and no man has eyes at the back
of his head--go forward. Upon my soul I think that the greatest way of
walking, now I consider the matter, or now that I have stumbled upon
it, is walking away.


Walking an Antidote to City Poison

There is moral as well as bodily wholesomeness in a mountain walk, if
the walker has the understanding heart, and eschews _picnics_. It is
good for any man to be alone with nature and himself, or with a friend
who knows when silence is more sociable than talk:

             "In the wilderness alone,
     There where nature worships God."

It is well to be in places where man is little and God is great--where
what he sees all around him has the same look as it had a thousand
years ago, and will have the same, in all likelihood, when he has been
a thousand years in his grave. It abates and rectifies a man, if he is
worth the process.

It is not favourable to religious feeling to hear only of the actions
and interference of man, and to behold nothing but what human ingenuity
has completed. There is an image of God's greatness impressed upon the
outward face of nature fitted to make us all pious, and to breathe
into our hearts a purifying and salutary fear.

In cities everything is man, and man alone. He seems to move and govern
all, and be the Providence of cities; and there we do not render
unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's, and unto God the things
which are God's; but God is forgotten, and Cæsar is supreme--all is
human policy, human foresight, human power; nothing reminds us of
_invisible dominion, and concealed omnipotence_--it is all earth, and
no heaven. One cure of this is prayer and the solitary place. As the
body, harassed with the noxious air of cities, seeks relief in the
freedom and the purity of the fields and hills, so the mind, wearied
by commerce with men, resumes its vigour in solitude, and repairs its

_Sydney Smith._

On Going a Journey

One of the pleasantest things in the world is going a journey; but I
like to go by myself. I can enjoy society in a room; but out of doors
nature is company enough for me. I am then never less alone than when

     "The fields his study, nature was his book."

I cannot see the wit of walking and talking at the same time. When I
am in the country, I wish to vegetate like the country. I am not for
criticising hedgerows and black cattle. I go out of the town in order
to forget the town and all that is in it. There are those who for this
purpose go to watering-places, and carry the metropolis with them. I
like more elbow-room, and fewer encumbrances. I like solitude, when I
give myself up to it, for the sake of solitude; nor do I ask for

           "A friend in my retreat,
     Whom I may whisper solitude is sweet."

The soul of a journey is liberty, perfect liberty, to think, feel,
do, just as one pleases. We go a journey chiefly to be free of all
impediments and of all inconveniences; to leave ourselves behind,
much more to get rid of others. It is because I want a little
breathing-space to muse on indifferent matters, where Contemplation

     "May plume her feathers, and let grow her wings
     That in the various bustle of resort
     Were all too ruffled, and sometimes impair'd,"

that I absent myself from the town for a while without feeling at
a loss the moment I am left by myself. Instead of a friend in a
post-chaise or in a Tilbury, to exchange good things with and vary
the same stale topics over again, for once let me have a truce with
impertinence. Give me the clear blue sky over my head and the green
turf beneath my feet, a winding road before me, and a three hours'
march to dinner--and then to thinking! It is hard if I cannot start
some game on these lone heaths. I laugh, I run, I leap, I sing for joy.
From the point of yonder rolling cloud, I plunge into my past being,
and revel there, as the sunburnt Indian plunges headlong into the wave
that wafts him to his native shore. Then long-forgotten things, like
"sunken wrack and sumless treasuries," burst upon my eager sight, and
I begin to feel, think, and be myself again. Instead of an awkward
silence, broken by attempts at wit or dull commonplaces, mine is that
undisturbed silence of the heart which alone is perfect eloquence.

No one likes puns, alliterations, antitheses, argument, and analysis
better than I do; but I sometimes had rather be without them. "Leave,
oh, leave me to my repose!" I have just now other business in hand,
which would seem idle to you; but is with me "very stuff o' the
conscience." Is not this wild rose sweet without a comment? Does not
this daisy leap to my heart set in its coat of emerald? Yet if I were
to explain to you the circumstance that has so endeared it to me, you
would only smile. Had I not better, then, keep it to myself, and let
it serve me to brood over, from here to yonder craggy point, and from
thence onward to the far-distant horizon? I should be but bad company
all that way, and therefore prefer being alone.

I have heard it said that you may, when the moody fit comes on, walk
or ride on by yourself, and indulge your reveries. But this looks like
a breach of manners, a neglect of others, and you are thinking all the
time that you ought to rejoin your party. "Out upon such half-faced
fellowship!" say I. I like to be either entirely to myself, or entirely
at the disposal of others; to talk or be silent, to walk or sit still,
to be sociable or solitary. I was pleased with an observation of Mr
Cobbett's, that "he thought it a bad French custom to drink our wine
with our meals, and that an Englishman ought to do only one thing at a
time." So I cannot talk and think, or indulge in melancholy musing and
lively conversation, by fits and starts. "Let me have a companion of
my way," says Sterne, "were it but to remark how the shadows lengthen
as the sun declines." It is beautifully said; but, in my opinion, this
continual comparing of notes interferes with the involuntary impression
of things upon the mind, and hurts the sentiment.

If you only hint what you feel in a kind of dumb show, it is insipid;
if you have to explain it, it is making a toil of a pleasure. You
cannot read the book of nature without being perpetually put to the
trouble of translating it for the benefit of others. I am for this
synthetical method on a journey in preference to the analytical. I am
content to lay in a stock of ideas then, and to examine and anatomise
them afterwards. I want to see my vague notions float like the down
of the thistle before the breeze, and not to have them entangled in
the briars and thorns of controversy. For once, I like to have it
all my own way; and this is impossible unless you are alone, or in
such company as I do not covet. I have no objection to argue a point
with anyone for twenty miles of measured road, but not for pleasure.
If you remark the scent of a beanfield crossing the road, perhaps
your fellow-traveller has no smell. If you point to a distant object,
perhaps he is short-sighted, and has to take out his glass to look at
it. There is a feeling in the air, a tone in the colour of a cloud,
which hits your fancy, but the effect of which you are unable to
account for. There is then no sympathy, but an uneasy craving after
it, and a dissatisfaction which pursues you on the way, and in the end
probably produces ill-humour.

Now, I never quarrel with myself, and take all my own conclusions for
granted till I find it necessary to defend them against objections.
It is not merely that you may not be of accord on the objects and
circumstances that present themselves before you--these may recall a
number of objects, and lead to associations too delicate and refined to
be possibly communicated to others. Yet these I love to cherish, and
sometimes still fondly clutch them, when I can escape from the throng
to do so. To give way to our feelings before company seems extravagance
or affectation; and, on the other hand, to have to unravel this mystery
of our being at every turn, and to make others take an equal interest
in it (otherwise the end is not answered), is a task to which few are
competent. We must "give it an understanding, but no tongue." My old
friend Coleridge, however, could do both. He could go on in the most
delightful explanatory way over hill and dale a summer's day, and
convert a landscape into a didactic poem or a Pindaric ode. "He talked
far above singing." If I could so clothe my ideas in sounding and
flowing words, I might perhaps wish to have some one with me to admire
the swelling theme; or I could be more content, were it possible for
me still to hear his echoing voice in the woods of All-Foxden. They
had "that fine madness in them which our first poets had"; and if they
could have been caught by some rare instrument, would have breathed
such strains as the following:--

                "Here be woods as green
     As any, air likewise as fresh and sweet
     As when smooth Zephyrus plays on the fleet
     Face of the curled stream, with flow'rs as many
     As the young spring gives, and as choice as any;
     Here be all new delights, cool streams and wells,
     Arbours o'ergrown with woodbines, caves and dells;
     Choose where thou wilt, whilst I sit by and sing,
     Or gather rushes to make many a ring
     For thy long fingers; tell thee tales of love,
     How the pale Phoebe, hunting in a grove,
     First saw the boy Endymion, from whose eyes
     She took eternal fire that never dies;
     How she conveyed him softly in a sleep,
     His temples bound with poppy, to the steep
     Head of old Latmos, where she stoops each night,
     Gilding the mountain with her brother's light,
     To kiss her sweetest."

     (FLETCHER'S "Faithful Shepherdess.")

Had I words and images at command like these, I would attempt to wake
the thoughts that lie slumbering on golden ridges in the evening
clouds; but at the sight of nature my fancy, poor as it is, droops and
closes up its leaves, like flowers at sunset. I can make nothing out on
the spot: I must have time to collect myself.

In general, a good thing spoils out-of-door prospects; it should be
reserved for Table-Talk. Lamb is, for this reason, I take it, the worst
company in the world out of doors; because he is the best within.
I grant there is one subject on which it is pleasant to talk on a
journey, and that is, what we shall have for supper when we get to
our inn at night. The open air improves this sort of conversation or
friendly altercation, by setting a keener edge on appetite. Every mile
of the road heightens the flavour of the viands we expect at the end of
it. How fine it is to enter some old town, walled and turreted, just at
the approach of nightfall; or to come to some straggling village, with
the lights streaming through the surrounding gloom; and then after
inquiring for the best entertainment that the place affords, to "take
one's ease at one's inn!"

These eventful moments in our lives' history are too precious, too full
of solid, heartfelt happiness, to be frittered and dribbled away in
imperfect sympathy. I would have them all to myself, and drain them to
the last drop; they will do to talk of or to write about afterwards.
What a delicate speculation it is, after drinking whole goblets of tea,

     "The cups that cheer, but not inebriate,"

and letting the fumes ascend into the brain, to sit considering what we
shall have for supper--eggs and a rasher, a rabbit smothered in onions,
or an excellent veal-cutlet! Sancho in such a situation once fixed on
cow-heel; and his choice, though he could not help it, is not to be
disparaged. Then, in the intervals of pictured scenery and Shandean
contemplation, to catch the preparation and the stir in the kitchen
(getting ready for the gentleman in the parlour). _Procul, o procul
este profani!_ These hours are sacred to silence and to musing, to be
treasured up in the memory, and to feed the source of smiling thoughts
hereafter. I would not waste them in idle talk; or if I must have the
integrity of fancy broken in upon, I would rather it were by a stranger
than a friend.

A stranger takes his hue and character from the time and place; he is a
part of the furniture and costume of an inn. If he is a Quaker, or from
the West Riding of Yorkshire, so much the better. I do not even try to
sympathise with him, and he breaks no squares. How I love to see the
camps of the gypsies, and to sigh my soul into that sort of life! If I
express this feeling to another, he may qualify and spoil it with some
objection. I associate nothing with my travelling companion but present
objects and passing events. In his ignorance of me and my affairs, I
in a manner forget myself. But a friend reminds me of other things,
rips up old grievances, and destroys the abstraction of the scene. He
comes in ungraciously between us and our imaginary character. Something
is dropped in the course of conversation that gives a hint of your
profession and pursuits; or from having some one with you that knows
the less sublime portions of your history, it seems that other people
do. You are no longer a citizen of the world; but your "unhoused free
condition is put into circumspection and confine."

The _incognito_ of an inn is one of its striking privileges--"lord of
one's self, uncumbered with a name." Oh, it is great to shake off the
trammels of the world and of public opinion; to lose our importunate,
tormenting, everlasting personal identity in the elements of nature,
and become the creature of the moment, clear of all ties; to hold to
the universe only by a dish of sweetbreads, and to owe nothing but the
score of the evening; and no longer seeking for applause and meeting
with contempt, to be known by no other title than _the gentleman in the

One may take one's choice of all characters in this romantic state
of uncertainty as to one's real pretensions, and become indefinitely
respectable and negatively right-worshipful. We baffle prejudice
and disappoint conjecture; and from being so to others, begin to be
objects of curiosity and wonder even to ourselves. We are no more those
hackneyed commonplaces that we appear in the world; an inn restores
us to the level of nature, and quits scores with society! I have
certainly spent some enviable hours at inns--sometimes when I have been
left entirely to myself, and have tried to solve some metaphysical
problem, as once at Witham Common, where I found out the proof that
likeness is not a case of the association of ideas--at other times,
when there have been pictures in the room, as at St Neot's (I think it
was), where I first met with Gribelins' engravings of the Cartoons,
into which I entered at once, and at a little inn on the borders of
Wales, where there happened to be hanging some of Westall's drawings,
which I compared triumphantly (for a theory that I had, not for the
admired artist) with the figure of a girl who had ferried me over the
Severn standing up in a boat between me and the twilight. At other
times I might mention luxuriating in books, with a peculiar interest
in this way, as I remember sitting up half the night to read _Paul and
Virginia_, which I picked up at an inn at Bridgewater, after being
drenched in the rain all day; and at the same place I got through two
volumes of Madame D'Arblay's _Camilla_.

It was on the 10th of April 1798, that I sat down to a volume of the
_New Heloïse_, at the inn at Llangollen, over a bottle of sherry and a
cold chicken. The letter I chose was that in which St Preux describes
his feelings as he first caught a glimpse from the heights of the Jura
of the Pays de Vaud, which I had brought with me as a _bon bouche_ to
crown the evening with. It was my birthday, and I had for the first
time come from a place in the neighbourhood to visit this delightful
spot. The road to Llangollen turns off between Chirk and Wrexham; and
on passing a certain point you come all at once upon the valley, which
opens like an amphitheatre, broad, barren hills rising in majestic
state on either side, with "green upland swells that echo to the bleat
of flocks" below, and the river Dee babbling over its stony bed in
the midst of them. The valley at this time "glittered green with sunny
showers," and a budding ash-tree dipped its tender branches in the
chiding stream.

How proud, how glad I was to walk along the highroad that overlooks the
delicious prospect, repeating the lines which I have just quoted from
Mr Coleridge's poems! But besides the prospect which opened beneath
my feet, another also opened to my inward sight, a heavenly vision on
which were written in letters large as Hope could make them, these four
words, LIBERTY, GENIUS, LOVE, VIRTUE, which have since faded into the
light of the common day, or mock my idle gaze.

     "The beautiful is vanished, and returns not."

Still, I would return some time or other to this enchanted spot; but I
would return to it alone. What other self could I find to share that
influx of thoughts, of regret, and delight, the fragments of which I
could hardly conjure up to myself, so much have they been broken and
defaced? I could stand on some tall rock, and overlook the precipice of
years that separates me from what I then was. I was at that time going
shortly to visit the poet whom I have above named. Where is he now? Not
only I myself have changed; the world, which was then new to me, has
become old and incorrigible. Yet will I turn to thee in thought, O
sylvan Dee, in joy, in youth and gladness, as thou then wert; and thou
shalt always be to me the river of Paradise, where I will drink of the
waters of life freely!

There is hardly anything that shows the short-sightedness or
capriciousness of the imagination more than travelling does. With
change of place we change our ideas; nay, our opinions and feelings. We
can by an effort, indeed, transport ourselves to old and long-forgotten
scenes, and then the picture of the mind revives again; but we forget
those that we have just left. It seems that we can think but of one
place at a time. The canvas of the fancy is but of a certain extent,
and if we paint one set of objects upon it, they immediately efface
every other. We cannot enlarge our conceptions, we only shift our point
of view. The landscape bares its bosom to the enraptured eye; we take
our fill of it, and seem as if we could form no other image of beauty
or grandeur. We pass on, and think no more of it: the horizon that
shuts it from our sight also blots it from our memory like a dream.
In travelling through a wild, barren country, I can form no idea of a
woody and cultivated one. It appears to me that all the world must be
barren, like what I see of it. In the country we forget the town, and
in town we despise the country. "Beyond Hyde Park," says Sir Fopling
Flutter, "all is a desert." All that part of the map that we do not see
before us is blank. The world in our conceit of it is not much bigger
than a nutshell. It is not one prospect expanded into another, county
joined to county, kingdom to kingdom, land to seas, making an image
voluminous and vast; the mind can form no larger idea of space than the
eye can take in at a single glance. The rest is a name written in a
map, a calculation of arithmetic.

For instance, what is the true signification of that immense mass of
territory and population known by the name of China to us? An inch of
pasteboard on a wooden globe, of no more account than a china orange!
Things near us are seen of the size of life; things at a distance are
diminished to the size of the understanding. We measure the universe
by ourselves, and even comprehend the texture of our own being only
piecemeal. In this way, however, we remember an infinity of things and
places. The mind is like a mechanical instrument that plays a great
variety of tunes, but it must play them in succession. One idea recalls
another, but at the same time excludes all others. In trying to renew
old recollections, we cannot as it were unfold the whole web of our
existence; we must pick out the single threads. So in coming to a
place where we have formerly lived, and with which we have intimate
associations, every one must have found that the feeling grows more
vivid the nearer we approach the spot, from the mere anticipation of
the actual impression: we remember circumstances, feelings, persons,
faces, names that we had not thought of for years; but for the time all
the rest of the world is forgotten! To return to the question I have
quitted above:

I have no objection to go to see ruins, aqueducts, pictures, in company
with a friend or a party, but rather the contrary, for the former
reason reversed. They are intelligible matters, and will bear talking
about. The sentiment here is not tacit, but communicable and overt.
Salisbury Plain is barren of criticism, but Stonehenge will bear a
discussion antiquarian, picturesque, and philosophical. In setting out
on a party of pleasure, the first consideration always is where we
shall go to: in taking a solitary ramble, the question is what we shall
meet with by the way. "The mind is its own place"; nor are we anxious
to arrive at the end of our journey. I can myself do the honours
indifferently well to the works of art and curiosity. I once took a
party to Oxford, with no mean _éclat_--showed them that seat of the
Muses at a distance,

     "With glistering spires and pinnacles adorn'd,"

descanted on the learned air that breathes from the grassy quadrangles
and stone walls of halls and colleges; was at home in the Bodleian;
and at Blenheim quite superseded the powdered cicerone that attended
us, and that pointed in vain with his wand to commonplace beauties in
matchless pictures.

As another exception to the above reasoning, I should not feel
confident in venturing on a journey in a foreign country without
a companion. I should want at intervals to hear the sound of my
own language. There is an involuntary antipathy in the mind of an
Englishman to foreign manners and notions that requires the assistance
of social sympathy to carry it off. As the distance from home
increases, this relief, which was at first a luxury, becomes a passion
and an appetite. A person would almost feel stifled to find himself in
the deserts of Arabia without friends and countrymen: there must be
allowed to be something in the view of Athens or old Rome that claims
the utterance of speech; and I own that the Pyramids are too mighty for
any single contemplation. In such situations, so opposite to all one's
ordinary train of ideas, one seems a species by one's self, a limb
torn off from society, unless one can meet with instant fellowship and

Yet I did not feel this want or craving very pressing once, when I
first set my foot on the laughing shores of France. Calais was peopled
with novelty and delight. The confused, busy murmur of the place was
like oil and wine poured into my ears; nor did the mariners' hymn,
which was sung from the top of an old crazy vessel in the harbour, as
the sun went down, send an alien sound into my soul. I only breathed
the air of general humanity. I walked over "the vine-covered hills and
gay regions of France," erect and satisfied; for the image of man was
not cast down and chained to the foot of arbitrary thrones: I was at
no loss for language, for that of all the great schools of painting
was open to me. The whole is vanished like a shade. Pictures, heroes,
glory, freedom, all are fled; nothing remains but the Bourbons and the
French people!

There is undoubtedly a sensation in travelling into foreign parts
that is to be had nowhere else; but it is more pleasing at the time
than lasting. It is too remote from our habitual associations to be a
common topic of discourse or reference, and, like a dream or another
state of existence, does not piece into our daily modes of life. It is
an animated but a momentary hallucination. It demands an effort to
exchange our actual for our ideal identity; and to feel the pulse of
our old transports revive very keenly, we must "jump" all our present
comforts and connections. Our romantic and itinerant character is not
to be domesticated. Dr Johnson remarked how little foreign travel
added to the facilities of conversation in those who had been abroad.
In fact, the time we have spent there is both delightful and, in one
sense, instructive; but it appears to be cut out of our substantial
downright existence, and never to join kindly on to it. We are not the
same, but another, and perhaps more enviable individual all the time we
are out of our own country. We are lost to ourselves as well as to our
friends. So the poet somewhat quaintly sings:

     "Out of my country and myself I go."

Those who wish to forget painful thoughts do well to absent themselves
for a while from the ties and objects that recall them: but we can be
said only to fulfil our destiny in the place that gave us birth. I
should on this account like well enough to spend the whole of my life
in travelling abroad, if I could anywhere borrow another life to spend
afterwards at home!

_William Hazlitt._

The Bishop of Salisbury's Horse

As soon as he was perfectly recovered of this sickness, he took a
journey from Oxford to Exeter, to satisfy and see his good Mother,
being accompanied with a countryman and companion of his own College,
and both on foot; which was then either more in fashion, or want of
money, or their humility made it so: but on foot they went, and took
Salisbury on their way, purposely to see the good Bishop, who made
Mr Hooker and his companion dine with him at his own table: which Mr
Hooker boasted of with much joy and gratitude when he saw his mother
and friends: and at the Bishop's parting with him, the Bishop gave him
good counsel, and his benediction, but forgot to give him money; which
when the Bishop had considered, he sent a servant in all haste to call
Richard back to him: and at Richard's return, the Bishop said to him,
"Richard, I sent for you back to lend you a horse, which hath carried
me many a mile, and, I thank God, with much ease"; and presently
delivered into his hand a walking-staff, with which he professed he had
travelled through many parts of Germany. And he said, "Richard, I do
not give, but lend you my horse: be sure you be honest, and bring my
horse back to me at your return this way to Oxford. And I do now give
you ten groats, to bear your charges to Exeter: and here is ten groats
more, which I charge you to deliver to your Mother and tell her I send
her a Bishop's benediction with it, and beg the continuance of her
prayers for me. And if you bring my horse back to me, I will give you
ten groats more, to carry you on foot to the College, and so God bless
you, good Richard."

_Izaak Walton._

A Strolling Pedlar

My frame gradually became hardened with my constitution, and being
both tall and muscular, I was rather disfigured than disabled by my
lameness. This personal disadvantage did not prevent me from taking
much exercise on horseback, and making long journeys on foot, in the
course of which I often walked from twenty to thirty miles a day.

A distinct instance occurs to me. I remember walking with poor James
Ramsay, my fellow-apprentice, now no more, and two other friends, to
breakfast at Prestonpans. We spent the forenoon visiting the ruins
at Seton and the field of battle at Preston--dined at Prestonpans on
tiled haddocks very sumptuously--drank half a bottle of port each, and
returned in the evening. This could not be less than thirty miles, nor
do I remember being at all fatigued upon the occasion.

These excursions on foot and horseback formed by far my most favourite
amusement. I have all my life delighted in travelling, though I have
never enjoyed that pleasure upon a large scale. It was a propensity
which I sometimes indulged so unduly as to alarm and vex my parents.
Wood, water, wilderness itself had an inexpressible charm for me, and
I had a dreamy way of going much farther than I intended, so that
unconsciously my return was protracted, and my parents had sometimes
serious cause of uneasiness. For example, I once set out with Mr
George Abercromby (son of the immortal general), Mr William Clerk,
and some others, to fish in the lake above Howgate, and the stream
which descends from it into the Esk. We breakfasted at Howgate, and
fished the whole day; and while we were on our return next morning, I
was easily seduced by William Clerk, then a great intimate, to visit
Pennycuik House, the seat of his family. Here he and John Irving, and
I for their sake, were overwhelmed with kindness by the late Sir John
Clerk and his lady, the present Dowager Lady Clerk. The pleasure of
looking at fine pictures, the beauty of the place, and the flattering
hospitality of the owners, drowned all recollection of home for a day
or two. Meanwhile our companions, who had walked on without being aware
of our digression, returned to Edinburgh without us, and excited no
small alarm in my father's household. At length, however, they became
accustomed to my escapades. My father used to protest to me on such
occasions that he thought I was born to be a strolling pedlar; and
though the prediction was intended to mortify my conceit, I am not sure
that I altogether disliked it. I was now familiar with Shakespeare, and
thought of Autolycus's song:

     "Jog on, jog on the footpath way
       And merrily hent the stile-a;
     A merry heart goes all the day,
       Your sad tires in a mile-a."

     _Sir Walter Scott._

A Stout Pedestrian

Let the reader conceive to himself a clear frosty November morning,
the scene an open heath, having for the background that huge chain of
mountains in which Skiddaw and Saddleback are preeminent; let him look
along that _blind road_, by which I mean the track so slightly marked
by the passengers' footsteps that it can but be traced by a slight
shade of verdure from the darker heath around it, and, being only
visible to the eye when at some distance, ceases to be distinguished
while the foot is actually treading it--along this faintly-traced path
advances the object of our present narrative. His firm step, his erect
and free carriage, have a military air, which corresponds well with his
well-proportioned limbs, and stature of six feet high. His dress is so
plain and simple that it indicates nothing as to rank--it may be that
of a gentleman who travels in this manner for his pleasure, or of an
inferior person of whom it is the proper and usual garb. Nothing can
be on a more reduced scale than his travelling equipment. A volume
of Shakespeare in each pocket, a small bundle with a change of linen
slung across his shoulders, an oaken cudgel in his hand, complete our
pedestrian's accommodations, and in this equipage we present him to our

Brown had parted that morning from his friend Dudley, and began his
solitary walk towards Scotland.

The first two or three miles were rather melancholy, from want of the
society to which he had of late been accustomed. But this unusual mood
of mind soon gave way to the influence of his natural good spirits,
excited by the exercise and the bracing effects of the frosty air. He
whistled as he went along, not "from want of thought," but to give vent
to those buoyant feelings which he had no other mode of expressing.
For each peasant whom he chanced to meet, he had a kind greeting or
a good-humoured jest; the hardy Cumbrians grinned as they passed,
and said, "That's a kind heart, God bless un!" and the market-girl
looked more than once over her shoulder at the athletic form, which
corresponded so well with the frank and blithe address of the stranger.
A rough terrier dog, his constant companion, who rivalled his master
in glee, scampered at large in a thousand wheels round the heath, and
came back to jump up on him, and assure him that he participated in
the pleasure of the journey. Dr Johnson thought life had few things
better than the excitation produced by being whirled rapidly along in
a post-chaise; but he who has in youth experienced the confident and
independent feeling of a stout pedestrian in an interesting country,
and during fine weather, will hold the taste of the great moralist
cheap in comparison.

Part of Brown's view in choosing that unusual tract which leads through
the eastern walls of Cumberland into Scotland, had been a desire to
view the remains of the celebrated Roman Wall, which are more visible
in that direction than in any other part of its extent. His education
had been imperfect and desultory; but neither the busy scenes in which
he had been engaged, nor the pleasures of youth, nor the precarious
state of his own circumstances, had diverted him from the task of
mental improvement.--"And this then is the Roman Wall," he said,
scrambling up to a height which commanded the course of that celebrated
work of antiquity: "What a people! whose labours, even at this
extremity of their empire, comprehended such space, and were executed
upon a scale of such grandeur! In future ages, when the science of
war shall have changed, how few traces will exist of the labours of
Vauban and Coehorn, while this wonderful people's remains will even
then continue to interest and astonish posterity! Their fortifications,
their aqueducts, their theatres, their fountains, all their public
works, bear the grave, solid, and majestic character of their language;
while our modern labours, like our modern tongues, seem but constructed
out of their fragments." Having thus moralised, he remembered that he
was hungry, and pursued his walk to a small public-house at which he
proposed to get some refreshment.

The alehouse, for it was no better, was situated in the bottom of a
little dell, through which trilled a small rivulet. It was shaded by
a large ash-tree, against which the clay-built shed, that served the
purpose of a stable, was erected, and upon which it seemed partly to
recline. In this shed stood a saddled horse, employed in eating his
corn. The cottages in this part of Cumberland partake of the rudeness
which characterises those of Scotland. The outside of the house
promised little for the interior, notwithstanding the vaunt of a sign,
where a tankard of ale voluntarily decanted itself into a tumbler,
and a hieroglyphical scrawl below attempted to express a promise of
"good entertainment for man and horse." Brown was no fastidious
traveller--he stooped and entered the cabaret.

The first object which caught his eye in the kitchen was a tall, stout,
country-looking man, in a large jockey great-coat, the owner of the
horse which stood in the shed, who was busy discussing huge slices of
cold boiled beef, and casting from time to time an eye through the
window, to see how his steed sped with his provender. A large tankard
of ale flanked his plate of victuals, to which he applied himself by
intervals. The good woman of the house was employed in baking. The
fire, as is usual in that country, was on a stone hearth, in the midst
of an immensely large chimney, which had two seats extended beneath the
vent. On one of these sat a remarkably tall woman, in a red cloak and
slouched bonnet, having the appearance of a tinker or beggar. She was
busily engaged with a short black tobacco-pipe.

At the request of Brown for some food, the landlady wiped with her
mealy apron one corner of the deal table, placed a wooden trencher and
knife and fork before the traveller, pointed to the round of beef,
recommended Mr Dinmont's good example, and, finally, filled a brown
pitcher with her home-brewed. Brown lost no time in doing ample credit
to both. For a while, his opposite neighbour and he were too busy to
take much notice of each other, except by a good-humoured nod as each
in turn raised the tankard to his head. At length, when our pedestrian
began to supply the wants of little Wasp, the Scotch store-farmer,
for such was Mr Dinmont, found himself at leisure to enter into

_Sir Walter Scott,--"Guy Mannering."_

Lake Scenery

The morning was clear and cheerful after a night of sharp frost. At ten
o'clock we took our way on foot towards Pooley Bridge on the same side
of the lake we had coasted in a boat the day before.--Looked backwards
to the south from our favourite station above Blowick. The dazzling
sunbeams striking upon the church and village, while the earth was
steaming with exhalations not traceable in other quarters, rendered
their forms even more indistinct than the partial and flitting veil
of unillumined vapour had done two days before. The grass on which
we trod, and the trees in every thicket, were dripping with melted
hoar-frost. We observed the lemon-coloured leaves of the birches, as
the breeze turned them to the sun, sparkle, or rather _flash_, like
diamonds, and the leafless purple twigs were tipped with globes of
shining crystal.

The day continued delightful, and unclouded to the end. I will not
describe the country which we slowly travelled through nor relate our
adventures; and will only add, that on the afternoon of the thirteenth
we returned along the banks of Ulswater by the usual road. The lake
lay in deep repose after the agitations of a wet and stormy morning.
The trees in Gowbarrow park were in that state when what is gained by
the exposure of their bark and branches compensates, almost, for the
loss of foliage, exhibiting the variety which characterises the point
of time between autumn and winter. The hawthorns were leafless; their
round heads covered with rich scarlet berries, and adorned with arches
of green brambles, and eglantines hung with glossy hips; and the grey
trunks of some of the ancient oak, which in the summer season might
have been regarded only for their venerable majesty, now attracted
notice by a pretty embellishment of green mosses and fern intermixed
with russet leaves retained by those slender outstarting twigs which
the veteran tree would not have tolerated in his strength.

The smooth silver branches of the ashes were bare; most of the alders
as green as the Devonshire cottage-myrtle that weathers the snows of
Christmas.--Will you accept it as some apology for my having dwelt so
long on the woodland ornaments of these scenes--that artists speak
of the trees on the banks of Ulswater, and especially along the bays
of Stybarrow crags, as having a peculiar character of picturesque
intricacy in their stems and branches, which their rocky stations and
the mountain winds have combined to give them?

At the end of Gowbarrow park a large herd of deer were either moving
slowly or standing still among the fern.

I was sorry when a chance-companion, who had joined us by the way,
startled them with a whistle, disturbing an image of grave simplicity
and thoughtful enjoyment; for I could have fancied that those natives
of this wild and beautiful region were partaking with us a sensation
of the solemnity of the closing day. The sun had been set some time;
and we could perceive that the light was fading away from the coves of
Helvellyn, but the lake under a luminous sky, was more brilliant than
before. After tea at Patterdale, set out again:--a fine evening; the
seven stars close to the mountain-top; all the stars seemed brighter
than usual. The steeps were reflected in Brotherswater, and, above the
lake appeared like enormous black perpendicular walls. The Kirkstone
torrents had been swoln by the rain, and now filled the mountain pass
with their roaring, which added greatly to the solemnity of our walk.
Behind us, when we had climbed to a great height, we saw one light very
distant in the vale, like a large red star--a solitary one in the
gloomy region. The cheerfulness of the scene was in the sky above us.
Reached home a little before midnight.

_William Wordsworth._

Walking, and the Wild

I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness,
as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil,--to regard man
as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member
of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an
emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilisation: the
minister and the school committee, and every one of you will take care
of that.

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who
understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks,--who had
a genius, so to speak, for _sauntering_: which word is beautifully
derived "from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle
Ages, and asked charity, under pretence of going _à la Sainte
Terre_," to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, "There goes
a _Sainte-Terrer_," a Saunterer--a Holy-Lander. They who never go to
the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers
and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good
sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from _sans
terre_, without land or a home, which therefore, in the good sense,
will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere.
For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still
in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the
saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering
river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course
to the sea. But I prefer the first, which indeed is the most probable
derivation. For every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter
the Hermit in us, to go forth and reconquer this Holy Land from the
hands of the Infidels.

It is true we are but faint-hearted crusaders, even the walkers,
nowadays, who undertake no persevering, never-ending enterprises. Our
expeditions are but tours, and come round again at evening to the old
hearth-side from which we set out. Half the work is but retracing our
steps. We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the
spirit of undying adventure, never to return--prepared to send back our
embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are
ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and
child and friends, and never see them again--if you have paid your
debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free
man, then you are ready for a walk.

To come down to my own experience, my companion and I, for I sometimes
have a companion, take pleasure in fancying ourselves knights of a new,
or rather an old, order--not Equestrians or Chevaliers, not Ritters
or Riders, but Walkers, a still more ancient and honourable class,
I trust. The chivalric and heroic spirit which once belonged to the
Rider seems now to reside in, or perchance to have subsided into, the
Walker,--not the Knight, but Walker Errant. He is a sort of fourth
estate, outside of Church and State and People.

We have felt that we almost alone hereabouts practised this noble art;
though, to tell the truth, at least if their own assertions are to be
received, most of my townsmen would fain walk sometimes, as I do, but
they cannot. No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom, and
independence, which are the capital in this profession. It comes only
by the grace of God. It requires a direct dispensation from Heaven
to become a walker. You must be born into the family of the Walkers.
_Ambulator nascitur, non fit._ Some of my townsmen, it is true, can
remember and have described to me some walks which they took ten
years ago, in which they were so blessed as to lose themselves for
half-an-hour in the woods; but I know very well that they have confined
themselves to the highway ever since, whatever pretensions they may
make to belong to this select class. No doubt they were elevated for a
moment as by the reminiscence of a previous state of existence, when
even they were foresters and outlaws.

     "When he came to grene wode,
       In a mery mornynge,
     There he herde the notes small
       Of byrdes mery syngynge.

     "It is ferre gone, sayd Robyn,
       That I was last here;
     Me lyste a lytell for to shote
       At the donne dere."

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I
spend four hours a day at least--and it is commonly more than
that--sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields,
absolutely free from all worldly engagements. You may safely say, A
penny for your thoughts, or a thousand pounds. When sometimes I am
reminded that the mechanics and shopkeepers stay in their shops not
only all the forenoon, but all the afternoon too, sitting with crossed
legs, so many of them--as if the legs were made to sit upon, and not
to stand or walk upon--I think that they deserve some credit for not
having all committed suicide long ago.

I, who cannot stay in my chamber for a single day without acquiring
some rust, and when sometimes I have stolen forth for a walk at the
eleventh hour of four o'clock in the afternoon, too late to redeem the
day, when the shades of night were already beginning to be mingled with
the daylight, have felt as if I had committed some sin to be atoned
for,--I confess that I am astonished at the power of endurance, to
say nothing of the moral insensibility, of my neighbours who confine
themselves to shops and offices the whole day for weeks and months,
ay, and years almost together. I know not what manner of stuff they
are of--sitting there now at three o'clock in the afternoon, as if
it were three o'clock in the morning. Bonaparte may talk of the
three-o'clock-in-the-morning courage, but it is nothing to the courage
which can sit down cheerfully at this hour in the afternoon over
against one's self whom you have known all the morning, to starve out
a garrison to whom you are bound by such strong ties of sympathy. I
wonder that about this time, or say between four and five o'clock in
the afternoon, too late for the morning papers and too early for the
evening ones, there is not a general explosion heard up and down the
street, scattering a legion of antiquated and house-bred notions and
whims to the four winds for an airing--and so the evil cure itself.

How womankind, who are confined to the house still more than men, stand
it I do not know; but I have ground to suspect that most of them do not
_stand_ it at all. When, early in the summer afternoon, we have been
shaking the dust of the village from the skirts of our garments, making
haste past those houses with purely Doric or Gothic fronts, which have
such an air of repose about them, my companion whispers that probably
about these times their occupants are all gone to bed. Then it is that
I appreciate the beauty and the glory of architecture, which itself
never turns in, but for ever stands out and erect, keeping watch over
the slumberers.

No doubt temperament, and, above all, age, have a good deal to do
with it. As a man grows older, his ability to sit still and follow
indoor occupations increases. He grows vespertinal in his habits as
the evening of life approaches, till at last he comes forth only just
before sundown, and gets all the walk that he requires in half-an-hour.

But the walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking
exercise, as it is called, as the sick take medicine at stated
hours--as the swinging of dumb-bells or chairs; but is itself the
enterprise and adventure of the day. If you would get exercise, go in
search of the springs of life. Think of a man's swinging dumb-bells
for his health, when those springs are bubbling up in far-off pastures
unsought by him!

Moreover, you must walk like a camel, which is said to be the only
beast which ruminates when walking. When a traveller asked Wordsworth's
servant to show him her master's study, she answered, "Here is his
library, but his study is out of doors."

Living much out of doors, in the sun and wind, will no doubt produce
a certain roughness of character--will cause a thicker cuticle to
grow over some of the finer qualities of our nature, as on the face
and hands, or as severe manual labour robs the hands of some of
their delicacy of touch. So staying in the house, on the other hand,
may produce a softness and smoothness, not to say thinness of skin,
accompanied by an increased sensibility to certain impressions. Perhaps
we should be more susceptible to some influences important to our
intellectual and moral growth if the sun had shone and the wind blown
on us a little less; and no doubt it is a nice matter to proportion
rightly the thick and thin skin. But methinks that is a scurf that
will fall off fast enough--that the natural remedy is to be found in
the proportion which the night bears to the day, the winter to the
summer, thought to experience. There will be so much the more air
and sunshine in our thoughts. The callous palms of the labourer are
conversant with finer tissues of self-respect and heroism, whose touch
thrills the heart, than the languid fingers of idleness. That is mere
sentimentality that lies abed by day and thinks itself white, far from
the tan and callus of experience.

When we walk, we naturally go to the fields and woods: what would
become of us if we walked only in the garden or a mall? Even some sects
of philosophers have felt the necessity of importing the woods to
themselves, since they did not go to the woods. "They planted groves
and walks of Platanes," where they took _subdiales ambulationes_ in
porticos open to the air. Of course it is of no use to direct our
steps to the woods if they do not carry us thither. I am alarmed when
it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily without
getting there in spirit. In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all
my morning occupations and my obligations to society. But it sometimes
happens that I cannot easily shake off the village. The thought of some
work will run in my head, and I am not where my body is--I am out of
my senses. In my walks I would fain return to my senses. What business
have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?
I suspect myself, and cannot help a shudder, when I find myself so
implicated even in what are called good works--for this may sometimes

My vicinity affords many good walks; and though for so many years I
have walked almost every day, and sometimes for several days together,
I have not yet exhausted them. An absolutely new prospect is a great
happiness, and I can still get this any afternoon. Two or three hours'
walking will carry me to as strange a country as I expect ever to see.
A single farmhouse which I had not seen before is sometimes as good
as the dominions of the King of Dahomey. There is in fact a sort of
harmony discoverable between the capabilities of the landscape within
a circle of ten miles' radius, or the limits of an afternoon walk, and
the threescore years and ten of human life. It will never become quite
familiar to you.

Nowadays almost all man's improvements, so called, as the building of
houses, and the cutting down of the forest and of all large trees,
simply deform the landscape, and make it more and more tame and cheap.
A people who would begin by burning the fences and let the forest
stand! I saw the fences half consumed, their ends lost in the middle
of the prairie, and some worldly miser with a surveyor looking after
his bounds, while heaven had taken place around him, and he did not
see the angels going to and fro, but was looking for an old posthole
in the midst of paradise. I looked again, and saw him standing in the
middle of a boggy, stygian fen, surrounded by devils, and he had found
his bounds without a doubt, three little stones, where a stake had been
driven, and looking nearer, I saw that the Prince of Darkness was his

I can easily walk ten, fifteen, twenty, any number of miles, commencing
at my own door, without going by any house, without crossing a road
except where the fox and the mink do: first along by the river, and
then the brook, and then the meadow and the wood-side. There are square
miles in my vicinity which have no inhabitant. From many a hill I can
see civilisation and the abodes of man afar. The farmers and their
works are scarcely more obvious than woodchucks and their burrows.
Man and his affairs, church and state and school, trade and commerce,
and manufactures and agriculture, even politics, the most alarming of
them all,--I am pleased to see how little space they occupy in the
landscape. Politics is but a narrow field, and that still narrower
highway yonder leads to it. I sometimes direct the traveller thither.
If you would go to the political world, follow the great road--follow
that market-man, keep his dust in your eyes, and it will lead you
straight to it; for it, too, has its place merely, and does not occupy
all space. I pass from it as from a beanfield into the forest, and
it is forgotten. In one half-hour I can walk off to some portion of
the earth's surface where a man does not stand from one year's end to
another and there, consequently, politics are not, for they are but as
the cigar-smoke of a man.

The village is the place to which the roads tend, a sort of expansion
of the highway, as a lake of a river. It is the body of which roads
are the arms and legs--a trivial or quadrivial place, the thoroughfare
and ordinary of travellers. The word is from the Latin _villa_, which,
together with _via_, a way, or more anciently _ved_ and _vella_, Varro
derives from _veho_, to carry, because the villa is the place to and
from which things are carried. They who get their living by teaming
were said _vellaturam facere_. Hence, too, apparently, the Latin word
_vilis_ and our vile; also _villain_. This suggests what kind of
degeneracy villagers are liable to. They are wayworn by the travel that
goes by and over them, without travelling themselves.

Some do not walk at all; others walk in the highways; a few walk
across lots. Roads are made for horses and men of business. I do not
travel in them much, comparatively, because I am not in a hurry to
get to any tavern or grocery or livery-stable or depôt to which they
lead. I am a good horse to travel, but not from choice a roadster. The
landscape-painter uses the figures of men to mark a road. He would not
make that use of my figure. I walk out into a Nature such as the old
prophets and poets, Menu, Moses, Homer, Chaucer, walked in. You may
name it America, but it is not America: neither Americus Vespucius, nor
Columbus, nor the rest were the discoverers of it. There is a truer
account of it in mythology than in any history of America, so called,
that I have seen.

At present, in this vicinity, the best part of the land is not private
property; the landscape is not owned, and the walker enjoys comparative
freedom. But possibly the day will come when it will be partitioned off
into so-called pleasure-grounds, in which a few will take a narrow and
exclusive pleasure only,--when fences shall be multiplied, and mantraps
and other engines invented to confine men to the _public road_, and
walking over the surface of God's earth shall be construed to mean
trespassing on some gentleman's grounds. To enjoy a thing exclusively
is commonly to exclude yourself from the true enjoyment of it. Let us
improve our opportunities, then, before the evil days come.

What is it that makes it so hard sometimes to determine whither we will
walk? I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature which, if we
unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright. It is not indifferent
to us which way we walk. There is a right way; but we are very liable
from heedlessness and stupidity to take the wrong one. We would fain
take that walk, never yet taken by us through this actual world, which
is perfectly symbolical of the path which we love to travel in the
interior and ideal world; and sometimes, no doubt, we find it difficult
to choose our direction, because it does not yet exist distinctly in
our idea.

When I go out of the house for a walk, uncertain as yet whither I
will bend my steps, and submit myself to my instinct to decide for
me, I find, strange and whimsical as it may seem, that I finally
and inevitably settle south-west, toward some particular wood or
meadow or deserted pasture or hill in that direction. My needle is
slow to settle,--varies a few degrees, and does not always point due
south-west, it is true, and it has good authority for this variation,
but it always settles between west and south-south-west. The future
lies that way to me, and the earth seems more unexhausted and richer
on that side. The outline which would bound my walks would be, not a
circle, but a parabola, or rather like one of those cometary orbits
which have been thought to be non-returning curves, in this case
opening westward, in which my house occupies the place of the sun.
I turn round and round irresolute, sometimes for a quarter of an
hour, until I decide, for a thousandth time, that I will walk into
the south-west or west. Eastward I go only by force; but westward I
go free. Thither no business leads me. It is hard for me to believe
that I shall find fair landscapes or sufficient wildness and freedom
behind the eastern horizon. I am not excited by the prospect of a walk
thither; but I believe that the forest which I see in the western
horizon stretches uninterruptedly toward the setting sun, and there are
no towns nor cities in it of enough consequence to disturb me. Let me
live where I will, on this side is the city, on that the wilderness,
and ever I am leaving the city more and more, and withdrawing into the
wilderness. I should not lay so much stress on this fact, if I did
not believe that something like this is the prevailing tendency of my
countrymen. I must walk toward Oregon, and not toward Europe. And that
way the nation is moving, and I may say that mankind progress from
east to west. Within a few years we have witnessed the phenomenon of
a south-eastward migration in the settlement of Australia; but this
affects us as a retrograde movement, and, judging from the moral and
physical character of the first generation of Australians, has not yet
proved a successful experiment. The eastern Tartars think that there is
nothing west beyond Thibet. "The world ends there," say they; "beyond
there is nothing but a shoreless sea." It is unmitigated East where
they live.

We go eastward to realise history and study the works of art and
literature, retracing the steps of the race; we go westward as into the
future, with a spirit of enterprise and adventure. The Atlantic is a
Lethean stream, in our passage over which we have had an opportunity
to forget the Old World and its institutions. If we do not succeed
this time, there is perhaps one more chance for the race left before
it arrives on the banks of the Styx; and that is in the Lethe of the
Pacific, which is three times as wide.

I know not how significant it is, or how far it is an evidence of
singularity, that an individual should thus consent in his pettiest
walk with the general movement of the race; but I know that something
akin to the migratory instinct in birds and quadrupeds,--which, in
some instances, is known to have affected the squirrel tribe, impelling
them to a general and mysterious movement, in which they were seen, say
some, crossing the broadest rivers, each on its particular chip, with
its tail raised for a sail, and bridging narrower streams with their
dead,--that something like a _furor_ which affects the domestic cattle
in the spring, and which is referred to a worm in their tails,--affects
both nations and individuals, either perennially or from time to time.
Not a flock of wild geese cackles over our town, but it to some extent
unsettles the value of real estate here, and, if I were a broker, I
should probably take that disturbance into account.

     "Than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages,
     And palmeres for to seken strange strondes."

Every sunset which I witness inspires me with the desire to go to a
West as distant and as fair as that into which the sun goes down. He
appears to migrate westward daily, and tempts us to follow him. He is
the Great Western Pioneer whom the nations follow. We dream all night
of those mountain-ridges in the horizon, though they may be of vapour
only, which were last gilded by his rays. The islands of Atlantis,
and the islands and gardens of the Hesperides, a sort of terrestrial
paradise, appear to have been the Great West of the ancients,
enveloped in mystery and poetry. Who has not seen in imagination, when
looking into the sunset sky, the gardens of the Hesperides, and the
foundation of all those fables?

Columbus felt the westward tendency more strongly than any before. He
obeyed it, and found a New World for Castile and Leon. The head of men
in those days scented fresh pastures from afar.

     "And now the sun had stretched out all the hills,
     And now was dropped into the western bay;
     At last _he_ rose, and twitched his mantle blue;
     To-morrow to fresh woods and pastures new."

Where on the globe can there be found an area of equal extent with
that occupied by the bulk of our States, so fertile and so rich and
varied in its proportions, and at the same time so habitable by the
European, as this is? Michaux, who knew but part of them, says that
"the species of large trees are much more numerous in North America
than in Europe; in the United States there are more than one hundred
and forty species that exceed thirty feet in height; in France there
are but thirty that attain this size." Later botanists more than
confirm his observations. Humboldt came to America to realise his
youthful dreams of a tropical vegetation, and he beheld it in its
greatest perfection in the primitive forests of the Amazon, the most
gigantic wilderness on the earth, which he has so eloquently described.
The geographer Guyot, himself a European, goes farther--farther than
I am ready to follow him; yet not when he says: "As the plant is made
for the animal, as the vegetable world is made for the animal world,
America is made for the man of the Old World.... The man of the Old
World sets out upon his way. Leaving the highlands of Asia, he descends
from station to station towards Europe. Each of his steps is marked by
a new civilisation superior to the preceding, by a greater power of
development. Arrived at the Atlantic, he pauses on the shore of this
unknown ocean, the bounds of which he knows not, and turns upon his
footprints for an instant." When he has exhausted the rich soil of
Europe, and reinvigorated himself, "then recommences his adventurous
career westward as in the earliest ages." So far Guyot.

From this western impulse coming in contact with the barrier of the
Atlantic sprang the commerce and enterprise of modern times. The
younger Michaux, in his _Travels West of the Alleghanies in 1802_, says
that the common inquiry in the newly settled West was, "'From what part
of the world have you come?' As if these vast and fertile regions
would naturally be the place of meeting and common country of all the
inhabitants of the globe."

To use an obsolete Latin word, I might say, _Ex Oriente lux; ex
Occidente_ FRUX. From the East light; from the West fruit.

Sir Francis Head, an English traveller and a Governor-General of
Canada, tells us that "in both the northern and southern hemispheres
of the New World, Nature has not only outlined her words on a larger
scale, but has painted the whole picture with brighter and more costly
colours than she used in delineating and in beautifying the Old
World.... The heavens of America appear infinitely higher, the sky
is bluer, the air is fresher, the cold is intenser, the moon looks
larger, the stars are brighter, the thunder is louder, the lightning
is vivider, the wind is stronger, the rain is heavier, the mountains
are higher, the rivers longer, the forests bigger, the plains broader."
This statement will do at least to set against Buffon's account of this
part of the world and its productions.

Linnæus said long ago, "_Nescio quæ facies_ læta, glabra _plantis
Americanis_: I know not what there is of joyous and smooth in the
aspect of American plants"; and I think that in this country there are
no, or at most very few, _Africanæ bestiæ_, African beasts, as the
Romans called them, and that in this respect also it is peculiarly
fitted for the habitation of man. We are told that within three miles
of the centre of the East Indian city of Singapore, some of the
inhabitants are annually carried off by tigers; but the traveller can
lie down in the woods at night almost anywhere in North America without
fear of wild beasts.

These are encouraging testimonies. If the moon looks larger here than
in Europe, probably the sun looks larger also. If the heavens of
America appear infinitely higher, and the stars brighter, I trust that
these facts are symbolical of the height to which the philosophy and
poetry and religion of her inhabitants may one day soar. At length,
perchance, the immaterial heaven will appear as much higher to the
American mind, and the intimations that star it as much brighter. For I
believe that climate does thus react on man--as there is something in
the mountain air that feeds the spirit and inspires. Will not man grow
to greater perfection intellectually as well as physically under these
influences? Or is it unimportant how many foggy days there are in his
life? I trust that we shall be more imaginative, that our thoughts will
be clearer, fresher, and more ethereal, as our sky--our understanding
more comprehensive and broader, like our plains--our intellect
generally on a grander scale, like our thunder and lightning, our
rivers and mountains and forests--and our hearts shall even correspond
in breadth and depth and grandeur to our inland seas. Perchance there
will appear to the traveller something, he knows not what, of _læta_
and _glabra_, of joyous and serene, in our very faces. Else to what end
does the world go on, and why was America discovered?

To Americans I hardly need to say:

     "Westward the star of empire takes its way."

As a true patriot, I should be ashamed to think that Adam in paradise
was more favourably situated on the whole than the backwoodsman in this

Our sympathies in Massachusetts are not confined to New England; though
we may be estranged from the South, we sympathise with the West. There
is the home of the younger sons, as among the Scandinavians they took
to the sea for their inheritance. It is too late to be studying Hebrew;
it is more important to understand even the slang of to-day.

Some months ago I went to see a panorama of the Rhine. It was like
a dream of the Middle Ages. I floated down its historic stream in
something more than imagination, under bridges built by the Romans, and
repaired by later heroes, past cities and castles whose very names
were music to my ears, and each of which was the subject of a legend.
There were Ehrenbreitstein and Rolandseck and Coblentz, which I knew
only in history. They were ruins that interested me chiefly. There
seemed to come up from its waters and its vine-clad hills and valleys
a hushed music as of Crusaders departing for the Holy Land. I floated
along under the spell of enchantment, as if I had been transported to
an heroic age, and breathed an atmosphere of chivalry.

Soon after I went to see a panorama of the Mississippi, and as I worked
my way up the river in the light of to-day, and saw the steamboats
wooding up, counted the rising cities, gazed on the fresh ruins of
Nauvoo, beheld the Indians moving west across the stream, and, as
before I had looked up the Moselle, now looked up the Ohio and the
Missouri and heard the legends of Dubuque and of Wenona's Cliff,--still
thinking more of the future than of the past or present,--I saw that
this was a Rhine stream of a different kind; that the foundations
of castles were yet to be laid, and the famous bridges were yet to
be thrown over the river; and I felt that _this was the heroic age
itself_, though we know it not, for the hero is commonly the simplest
and obscurest of men.

The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild; and what
I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation
of the World. Every tree sends its fibres forth in search of the
Wild. The cities import it at any price. Men plough and sail for it.
From the forest and wilderness come the tonics and barks which brace
mankind. Our ancestors were savages. The story of Romulus and Remus
being suckled by a wolf is not a meaningless fable. The founders of
every State which has risen to eminence have drawn their nourishment
and vigour from a similar wild source. It was because the children of
the Empire were not suckled by the wolf that they were conquered and
displaced by the children of the Northern forests who were.

I believe in the forest, and in the meadow, and in the night in which
the corn grows. We require an infusion of hemlock-spruce or arbor-vitæ
in our tea. There is a difference between eating and drinking for
strength and from mere gluttony. The Hottentots eagerly devour the
marrow of the koodoo and other antelopes raw, as a matter of course.
Some of our Northern Indians eat raw the marrow of the Arctic reindeer,
as well as various other parts, including the summits of the antlers,
as long as they are soft. And herein, perchance, they have stolen a
march on the cooks of Paris. They get what usually goes to feed the
fire. This is probably better than stall-fed beef and slaughter-house
pork to make a man of. Give me a wildness whose glance no civilisation
can endure,--as if we lived on the marrow of koodoos devoured raw.

There are some intervals which border the strain of the wood-thrush, to
which I would migrate,--wild lands where no settler has squatted; to
which, methinks, I am already acclimated.

The African hunter Cummings tells us that the skin of the eland, as
well as that of most other antelopes just killed, emits the most
delicious perfume of trees and grass. I would have every man so much
like a wild antelope, so much a part and parcel of Nature, that his
very person should thus sweetly advertise our senses of his presence,
and remind us of those parts of Nature which he most haunts. I feel no
disposition to be satirical, when the trapper's coat emits the odour
of musquash even; it is a sweeter scent to me than that which commonly
exhales from the merchant's or the scholar's garments. When I go into
their wardrobes and handle their vestments, I am reminded of no grassy
plains and flowery meads which they have frequented, but of dusty
merchants' exchanges and libraries rather.

A tanned skin is something more than respectable, and perhaps olive
is a fitter colour than white for a man--a denizen of the woods. "The
pale white man!" I do not wonder that the African pitied him. Darwin
the naturalist says, "A white man bathing by the side of a Tahitian was
like a plant bleached by the gardener's art, compared with a fine, dark
green one, growing vigorously in the open fields."

Ben Jonson exclaims:

     "How near to good is what is fair!"

So I would say:

     How near to good is what is _wild_!

Life consists with wildness. The most alive is the wildest. Not yet
subdued to man, its presence refreshes him. One who pressed forward
incessantly and never rested from his labours, who grew fast and made
infinite demands on life, would always find himself in a new country
or wilderness, and surrounded by the raw material of life. He would be
climbing over the prostrate stems of primitive forest trees.

Hope and the future for me are not in lawns and cultivated fields, not
in towns and cities, but in the impervious and quaking swamps. When,
formerly, I have analysed my partiality for some farm which I had
contemplated purchasing, I have frequently found that I was attracted
solely by a few square rods of impermeable and unfathomable bog--a
natural sink in one corner of it. That was the jewel which dazzled
me. I derive more of my subsistence from the swamps which surround my
native town than from the cultivated gardens in the village. There are
no richer parterres to my eyes than the dense beds of dwarf andromeda
(_Cassandra calyculata_) which cover these tender places on the earth's
surface. Botany cannot go further than tell me the names of the shrubs
which grow there--the high-blueberry, panicled andromeda, lambkill,
azalea, and rhodora--all standing in the quaking sphagnum. I often
think that I should like to have my house front on this mass of dull
red bushes, omitting other flower plots and borders, transplanted
spruce and trim box, even gravelled walks--to have this fertile spot
under my windows, not a few imported barrowfuls of soil only to cover
the sand which was thrown out in digging the cellar. Why not put my
house, my parlour, behind this plot, instead of behind that meagre
assemblage of curiosities, that poor apology for a Nature and Art which
I call my front yard? It is an effort to clear up and make a decent
appearance when the carpenter and mason have departed, though done
as much for the passer-by as the dweller within. The most tasteful
front-yard fence was never an agreeable object of study to me; the
most elaborate ornaments, acorn-tops, or what not, soon wearied and
disgusted me. Bring your sills up to the very edge of the swamp, then
(though it may not be the best place for a dry cellar), so that there
be no access on that side to citizens. Front yards are not made to walk
in, but, at most, through, and you could go in the back way.

Yes, though you may think me perverse, if it were proposed to me to
dwell in the neighbourhood of the most beautiful garden that ever human
art contrived, or else of a dismal swamp, I should certainly decide for
the swamp. How vain, then, have been all your labours, citizens, for me!

My spirits infallibly rise in proportion to the outward dreariness.
Give me the ocean, the desert or the wilderness! In the desert, pure
air and solitude compensate for want of moisture and fertility. The
traveller Burton says of it--"Your _morale_ improves; you become frank
and cordial, hospitable and single-minded.... In the desert, spirituous
liquors excite only disgust. There is a keen enjoyment in a mere
animal existence." They who have been travelling long on the steppes
of Tartary say--"On re-entering cultivated lands, the agitation,
perplexity, and turmoil of civilisation oppressed and suffocated us;
the air seemed to fail us, and we felt every moment as if about to die
of asphyxia." When I would recreate myself, I seek the darkest wood,
the thickest and most interminable, and, to the citizen, most dismal
swamp. I enter a swamp as a sacred place,--_a sanctum sanctorum_. There
is the strength, the marrow of Nature. The wild-wood covers the virgin
mould,--and the same soil is good for men and for trees. A man's health
requires as many acres of meadow to his prospect as his farm does loads
of muck. There are the strong meats on which he feeds. A town is saved,
not more by the righteous men in it than by the woods and swamps that
surround it. A township where one primitive forest waves above while
another primitive forest rots below,--such a town is fitted to raise
not only corn and potatoes, but poets and philosophers for the coming
ages. In such a soil grew Homer and Confucius and the rest, and out of
such a wilderness comes the Reformer eating locusts and wild honey.

To preserve wild animals implies generally the creation of a forest
for them to dwell in or resort to. So it is with man. A hundred years
ago they sold bark in our streets peeled from our own woods. In the
very aspect of those primitive and rugged trees there was, methinks, a
tanning principle which hardened and consolidated the fibres of men's
thoughts. Ah! already I shudder for these comparatively degenerate days
of my native village, when you cannot collect a load of bark of good
thickness; and we no longer produce tar and turpentine.

The civilised nations--Greece, Rome, England--have been sustained by
the primitive forests which anciently rotted where they stand. They
survive as long as the soil is not exhausted. Alas for human culture!
little is to be expected of a nation when the vegetable mould is
exhausted, and it is compelled to make manure of the bones of its
fathers. There the poet sustains himself merely by his own superfluous
fat, and the philosopher comes down on his marrow-bones.

It is said to be the task of the American "to work the virgin soil,"
and that "agriculture here already assumes proportions unknown
everywhere else." I think that the farmer displaces the Indian even
because he redeems the meadow, and so makes himself stronger and in
some respects more natural. I was surveying for a man the other day a
single straight line one hundred and thirty-two rods long, through a
swamp, at whose entrance might have been written the words which Dante
read over the entrance to the infernal regions--"Leave all hope, ye
that enter,"--that is, of ever getting out again; where at one time I
saw my employer actually up to his neck and swimming for his life in
his property, though it was still winter. He had another similar swamp
which I could not survey at all, because it was completely under water;
and nevertheless, with regard to a third swamp, which I did _survey_
from a distance, he remarked to me, true to his instincts, that he
would not part with it for any consideration, on account of the mud
which it contained. And that man intends to put a girdling ditch round
the whole in the course of forty months, and so redeem it by the magic
of his spade. I refer to him only as the type of a class.

The weapons with which we have gained our most important victories,
which should be handed down as heirlooms from father to son, are not
the sword and the lance, but the bush-whack, the turf cutter, the
spade, and the bog-hoe, rusted with the blood of many a meadow, and
begrimed with the dust of many a hard-fought field. The very winds blew
the Indian's corn-field into the meadow, and pointed out the way which
he had not the skill to follow. He had no better implement with which
to intrench himself in the land than a clamshell. But the farmer is
armed with plough and spade.

In Literature it is only the wild that attracts us. Dullness is
but another name for tameness. It is the uncivilised free and wild
thinking in _Hamlet_ and the _Iliad_, in all the Scriptures and
Mythologies, not learned in the schools, that delights us. As the wild
duck is more swift and beautiful than the tame, so is the wild--the
mallard--thought, which 'mid falling dews wings its way above the
fens. A truly good book is something as natural, and as unexpectedly
and unaccountably fair and perfect, as a wild flower discovered on the
prairies of the West or in the jungles of the East. Genius is a light
which makes the darkness visible, like the lightning's flash, which
perchance shatters the temple of knowledge itself,--and not a taper
lighted at the hearth-stone of the race, which pales before the light
of common day.

English literature, from the days of the minstrels to the Lake
Poets--Chaucer and Spenser and Milton, and even Shakespeare,
included--breathes no quite fresh and in this sense wild strain. It is
an essentially tame and civilised literature, reflecting Greece and
Rome. Her wilderness is a green wood,--her wild man a Robin Hood. There
is plenty of genial love of Nature, but not so much of Nature herself.
Her chronicles inform us when her wild animals, but not when the wild
man in her, became extinct.

The science of Humboldt is one thing, poetry is another thing. The
poet to-day, notwithstanding all the discoveries of science, and the
accumulated learning of mankind, enjoys no advantage over Homer.

Where is the literature which gives expression to Nature? He would be a
poet who could impress the winds and streams into his service, to speak
for him; who nailed words to their primitive senses, as farmers drive
down stakes in the spring, which the frost has heaved; who derived his
words as often as he used them--transplanted them to his page with
earth adhering to their roots; whose words were so true and fresh and
natural that they would appear to expand like the buds at the approach
of spring, though they lay half-smothered between two musty leaves
in a library,--ay, to bloom and bear fruit there, after their kind,
annually, for the faithful reader, in sympathy with surrounding Nature.

I do not know of any poetry to quote which adequately expresses this
yearning for the Wild. Approached from this side, the best poetry is
tame. I do not know where to find in any literature, ancient or modern,
any account which contents me of that Nature with which even I am
acquainted. You will perceive that I demand something which no Augustan
nor Elizabethan age, which no _culture_, in short, can give. Mythology
comes nearer to it than anything. How much more fertile a Nature, at
least, has Grecian mythology its root in than English literature.
Mythology is the crop which the Old World bore before its soil was
exhausted, before the fancy and imagination were affected with blight;
and, which it still bears, whenever its pristine vigour is unabated.
All other literatures endure only as the elms which overshadow our
houses; but this is like the great dragon-tree of the Western Isles, as
old as mankind, and, whether that does or not, will endure as long; for
the decay of other literatures makes the soil in which it thrives.

The West is preparing to add its fables to those of the East. The
valleys of the Ganges, the Nile, and the Rhine, having yielded their
crop, it remains to be seen what the valleys of the Amazon, the Plate,
the Orinoco, the St Lawrence, and the Mississippi will produce.
Perchance, when, in the course of ages, American liberty has become
a fiction of the past--as it is to some extent a fiction of the
present--the poets of the world will be inspired by American mythology.

The wildest dreams of wild men, even, are not the less true, though
they may not recommend themselves to the sense which is most common
among Englishmen and Americans to-day. It is not every truth that
recommends itself to the common sense. Nature has a place for the
wild clematis as well as for the cabbage. Some expressions of truth
are reminiscent,--others merely _sensible_, as the phrase is,--others
prophetic. Some forms of disease, even, may prophesy forms of health.
The geologist has discovered that the figures of serpents, griffins,
flying dragons, and other fanciful embellishments of heraldry, have
their prototypes in the forms of fossil species which were extinct
before man was created, and hence "indicate a faint and shadowy
knowledge of a previous state of organic existence." The Hindoos
dreamed that the earth rested on an elephant, and the elephant on
a tortoise, and the tortoise on a serpent; and though it may be an
unimportant coincidence, it will not be out of place here to state
that a fossil tortoise has lately been discovered in Asia large enough
to support an elephant. I confess that I am partial to these wild
fancies, which transcend the order of time and development. They are
the sublimest recreation of the intellect. The partridge loves peas,
but not those that go with her into the pot.

In short, all good things are wild and free There is something
in a strain of music, whether produced by an instrument or by the
human voice,--take the sound of a bugle in a summer night for
instance,--which by its wildness, to speak without satire, reminds me
of the cries emitted by wild beasts in their native forests. It is so
much of their wildness as I can understand. Give me for my friends and
neighbours wild men, not tame ones. The wilderness of the savage is but
a faint symbol of the awful ferity with which good men and lovers meet.

I love even to see the domestic animals reassert their native
rights,--any evidence that they have not wholly lost their original
wild habits and vigour; as when my neighbour's cow breaks out of her
pasture early in the spring and boldly swims the river, a cold, grey
tide, twenty-five or thirty rods wide, swollen by the melted snow.
It is the buffalo crossing the Mississippi. This exploit confers
some dignity on the herd of my eyes--already dignified. The seeds of
instinct are preserved under the thick hides of cattle and horses, like
seeds in the bowels of the earth, an indefinite period.

Any sportiveness in cattle is unexpected. I saw one day a herd of a
dozen bullocks and cows running about and frisking in unwieldy sport,
like huge rats, even like kittens. They shook their heads, raised
their tails, and rushed up and down a hill, and I perceived by their
horns, as well as by their activity, their relation to the deer tribe.
But, alas! a sudden loud _Whoa!_ would have damped their ardour at
once, reduced them from venison to beef, and stiffened their sides and
sinews like the locomotive. Who but the Evil One has cried, "Whoa!"
to mankind? Indeed, the life of cattle, like that of many men, is but
a sort of locomotiveness; they move a side at a time, and man, by his
machinery, is meeting the horse and the ox half way. Whatever part the
whip has touched is thenceforth palsied. Who would ever think of a
_side_ of any of the supple cat tribe, as we speak of a _side_ of beef?

I rejoice that horses and steers have to be broken before they can be
made the slaves of men, and that men themselves have some wild oats
still left to sow before they become submissive members of society.
Undoubtedly, all men are not equally fit subjects for civilisation;
and because the majority, like dogs and sheep, are tame by inherited
disposition, this is no reason why the others should have their natures
broken that they may be reduced to the same level. Men are in the main
alike, but they were made several in order that they might be various.
If a low use is to be served, one man will do nearly or quite as well
as another; if a high one, individual excellence is to be regarded.
Any man can stop a hole to keep the wind away, but no other man could
serve so rare a use as the author of this illustration did. Confucius
says--"The skins of the tiger and the leopard, when they are tanned,
are as the skins of the dog and the sheep tanned." But it is not the
part of a true culture to tame tigers, any more than it is to make
sheep ferocious; and tanning their skins for shoes is not the best use
to which they can be put.

When looking over a list of men's names in a foreign language, as of
military officers, or of authors who have written on a particular
subject, I am reminded once more that there is nothing in a name. The
name Menschikoff, for instance, has nothing in it to my ears more
human than a whisker, and it may belong to a rat. As the names of
the Poles and Russians are to us, so are ours to them. It is as if
they had been named by the child's rigmarole--_Iery wiery ichery van,
tittle-tol-tan_. I see in my mind a herd of wild creatures swarming
over the earth, and to each the herdsman has affixed some barbarous
sound in his own dialect. The names of men are of course as cheap and
as meaningless as _Bose_ and _Tray_, the names of dogs.

Methinks it would be some advantage to philosophy if men were named
merely in the gross, as they are known. It would be necessary only
to know the genus, and perhaps the race or variety, to know the
individual. We are not prepared to believe that every private soldier
in a Roman army had a name of his own, because we have not supposed
that he had a character of his own. At present, our only true names
are nicknames. I knew a boy who, from his peculiar energy, was called
"Buster" by his playmates, and this rightly supplanted his Christian
name. Some travellers tell us that an Indian had no name given him at
first, but earned it, and his name was his fame; and among some tribes
he acquired a new name with every new exploit. It is pitiful when a man
bears a name for convenience merely, who has earned neither name nor

I will not allow mere names to make distinctions for me, but still
see men in herds for all them. A familiar name cannot make a man less
strange to me. It may be given to a savage who retains in secret his
own wild title earned in the woods. We have a wild savage in us, and
a savage name is perchance somewhere recorded as ours. I see that my
neighbour, who bears the familiar epithet William, or Edwin, takes
it off with his jacket. It does not adhere to him when asleep or
in anger, or aroused by any passion or inspiration. I seem to hear
pronounced by some of his kin at such a time his original wild name in
some jaw-breaking or else melodious tongue.

Here is this vast, savage, howling mother of ours, Nature, lying all
around, with such beauty, and such affection for her children, as the
leopard; and yet we are so early weaned from her breast to society,
to that culture which is exclusively an interaction of man on man--a
sort of breeding in and in, which produces at most a merely English
nobility, a civilisation destined to have a speedy limit.

In society, in the best institutions of men, it is easy to detect a
certain precocity. When we should still be growing children, we are
already little men. Give me a culture which imports much muck from the
meadows, and deepens the soil--not that which trusts to heating manures
and improved implements and modes of culture only.

Many a poor sore-eyed student that I have heard of would grow faster,
both intellectually and physically, if, instead of sitting up so very
late, he honestly slumbered a fool's allowance.

There may be an excess even of informing light. Niépce, a Frenchman,
discovered "actinism," that power in the sun's rays which produces
a chemical effect,--that granite rocks, and stone structures, and
statues of metal, "are all alike destructively acted upon during the
hours of sunshine, and, but for provisions of Nature no less wonderful,
would soon perish under the delicate touch of the most subtile of the
agencies of the universe." But he observed that "those bodies which
underwent this change during the daylight possessed the power of
restoring themselves to their original conditions during the hours of
night, when this excitement was no longer influencing them." Hence it
has been inferred that "the hours of darkness are as necessary to the
creation as we know night and sleep are to the organic kingdom." Not
even does the moon shine every night, but gives place to darkness.

I would not have every man nor every part of man cultivated, any more
than I would have every acre of earth cultivated: part will be tillage,
but the greater part will be meadow and forest, not only serving an
immediate use, but preparing a mould against a distant future, by the
annual decay of the vegetation which it supports.

There are other letters for the child to learn than those which Cadmus
invented. The Spaniards have a good term to express this wild and dusky
knowledge,--_Gramática parda_, tawny grammar,--a kind of mother-wit
derived from that same leopard to which I have referred.

We have heard of a Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. It
is said that knowledge is power; and the like. Methinks there is equal
need of a Society for the Diffusion of Useful Ignorance, what we will
call Beautiful Knowledge, a knowledge useful in a higher sense: for
what is most of our boasted so-called knowledge but a conceit that we
know something, which robs us of the advantage of our actual ignorance?
What we call knowledge is often our positive ignorance; ignorance our
negative knowledge. By long years of patient industry and reading of
the newspapers--for what are the libraries of science but files of
newspapers?--a man accumulates a myriad facts, lays them up in his
memory, and then when in some spring of his life he saunters abroad
into the Great Fields of thought, he, as it were, goes to grass like
a horse and leaves all his harness behind in the stable. I would say
to the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, sometimes,--Go
to grass. You have-eaten hay long enough. The spring has come with
its green crop. The very cows are driven to their country pastures
before the end of May; though I have heard of one unnatural farmer who
kept his cow in the barn and fed her on hay all the year round. So,
frequently, the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge treats
its cattle.

A man's ignorance sometimes is not only useful, but beautiful,--while
his knowledge, so called, is oftentimes worse than useless, besides
being ugly. Which is the best man to deal with--he who knows nothing
about a subject, and, what is extremely rare, knows that he knows
nothing, or he who really knows something about it, but thinks that he
knows all?

My desire for knowledge is intermittent; but my desire to bathe my
head in atmospheres unknown to my feet is perennial and constant. The
highest that we can attain to is not Knowledge, but Sympathy with
Intelligence. I do not know that this higher knowledge amounts to
anything more definite than a novel and grand surprise on a sudden
revelation of the insufficiency of all that we called Knowledge
before--a discovery that there are more things in heaven and earth than
are dreamed of in our philosophy. It is the lighting up of the mist
by the sun. Man cannot _know_ in any higher sense than this, any more
than he can look serenely and with impunity in the face of the sun:
[Greek: Hôs ti noôn ny keinon noêseis],--"You will not perceive that,
as perceiving a particular thing," say the Chaldean Oracles.

There is something servile in the habit of seeking after a law which we
may obey. We may study the laws of matter at and for our convenience,
but a successful life knows no law. It is an unfortunate discovery
certainly, that of a law which binds us where we did not know before
that we were bound. Live free, child of the mist,--and with respect
to knowledge we are all children of the mist. The man who takes the
liberty to live is superior to all the laws, by virtue of his relation
to the law-maker. "That is active duty," says the Vishnu Purana, "which
is not for our bondage; that is knowledge which is for our liberation:
all other duty is good only unto weariness; all other knowledge is only
the cleverness of an artist."

It is remarkable how few events or crises there are in our histories;
how little exercised we have been in our minds; how few experiences we
have had. I would fain be assured that I am growing apace and rankly,
though my very growth disturb this dull equanimity,--though it be with
struggle through long, dark, muggy nights or seasons of gloom. It
would be well if all our lives were a divine tragedy even, instead of
this trivial comedy or farce. Dante, Bunyan, and others, appear to
have been exercised in their minds more than we: they were subjected
to a kind of culture such as our district schools and colleges do not
contemplate. Even Mahomet, though many may scream at his name, had a
good deal more to live for, ay, and to die for, than they have commonly.

When, at rare intervals, some thought visits one, as perchance he is
walking on a railroad, then indeed the cars go by without his hearing
them. But soon, by some inexorable law, our life goes by and the cars

     "Gentle breeze, that wanderest unseen,
     And bendest the thistles round Loira of storms,
     Traveller of the windy glens,
     Why hast thou left my ear so soon?"

While almost all men feel an attraction drawing them to society, few
are attracted strongly to Nature. In their relation to Nature men
appear to me for the most part, notwithstanding their arts, lower than
the animals. It is not often a beautiful relation, as in the case of
the animals. How little appreciation of the beauty of the landscape
there is among us! We shall have to be told that the Greeks called the
world [Greek: Kosmos], Beauty, or Order, but we do not see clearly why
they did so, and we esteem it at best only a curious philological fact.

For my part, I feel that with regard to Nature I live a sort of
border life, on the confines of a world into which I make occasional
and transitional and transient forays only, and my patriotism and
allegiance to the State into whose territories I seem to retreat
are those of a moss-trooper. Unto a life which I call natural I
would gladly follow even a will-o'-the wisp through bogs and sloughs
unimaginable, but no moon nor fire-fly has shown me the causeway to it.
Nature is a personality so vast and universal that we have never seen
one of her features. The walker in the familiar fields which stretch
around my native town sometimes finds himself in another land than is
described in their owners' deeds, as it were in some far-away field
on the confines of the actual Concord, where her jurisdiction ceases,
and the idea which the word Concord suggests ceases to be suggested.
These farms which I have myself surveyed, these bounds which I have set
up, appear dimly still as through a mist; but they have no chemistry
to fix them; they fade from the surface of the glass; and the picture
which the painter painted stands out dimly from beneath. The world with
which we are commonly acquainted leaves no trace, and it will have no

I took a walk on Spaulding's Farm the other afternoon. I saw the
setting sun lighting up the opposite side of a stately pine wood. Its
golden rays straggled into the aisles of the wood as into some noble
hall. I was impressed as if some ancient and altogether admirable
and shining family had settled there in that part of the land called
Concord, unknown to me,--to whom the sun was servant,--who had not gone
into society in the village,--who had not been called on. I saw their
park, their pleasure-ground, beyond through the wood, in Spaulding's
cranberry-meadow. The pines furnished them with gables as they grew.
Their house was not obvious to vision; the trees grew through it.
I do not know whether I heard the sounds of a suppressed hilarity
or not. They seemed to recline on the sunbeams. They have sons and
daughters. They are quite well. The farmer's cart-path, which leads
directly through their hall, does not in the least put them out,--as
the muddy bottom of a pool is sometimes seen through the reflected
skies. They never heard of Spaulding, and do not know that he is their
neighbour,--notwithstanding I heard him whistle as he drove his team
through the house. Nothing can equal the serenity of their lives.
Their coat of arms is simply a lichen. I saw it painted on the pines
and oaks. Their attics were in the tops of the trees. They are of no
politics. There was no noise of labour. I did not perceive that they
were weaving or spinning. Yet I did detect, when the wind lulled and
hearing was done away, the finest imaginable sweet musical hum,--as of
a distant hive in May, which perchance was the sound of their thinking.
They had no idle thoughts, and no one without could see their work, for
their industry was not as in knots and excrescences embayed.

But I find it difficult to remember them. They fade irrevocably out
of my mind even now while I speak and endeavour to recall them,
and recollect myself. It is only after a long and serious effort
to recollect my best thoughts that I become again aware of their
cohabitancy. If it were not for such families as this, I think I should
move out of Concord.

We are accustomed to say in New England that few and fewer pigeons
visit us every year. Our forests furnish no mast for them. So, it would
seem, few and fewer thoughts visit each growing man from year to year,
for the grove in our minds is laid waste,--sold feed unnecessary fires
of ambition, or sent to mill, and there is scarcely a twig left for
them to perch on. They no longer build nor breed with us. In some more
genial season, perchance, a faint shadow flits across the landscape of
the mind, cast by the _wings_ of some thought in its vernal or autumnal
migration, but, looking up, we are unable to detect the substance of
the thought itself. Our winged thoughts are turned to poultry. They
no longer soar, and they attain only to a Shanghai and Cochin-China
grandeur. Those _gra-a-ate thoughts_, those _gra-a-ate men_ you hear of!

We hug the earth--how rarely we mount! Methinks we might elevate
ourselves a little more. We might climb a tree, at least. I found my
account in climbing a tree once. It was a tall white pine, on the
top of a hill; and though I got well pitched, I was well paid for
it, for I discovered new mountains in the horizon which I had never
seen before,--so much more of the earth and the heavens. I might
have walked about the foot of the tree for threescore years and ten,
and yet I certainly should never have seen them. But, above all, I
discovered around me,--it was near the end of June,--on the ends of
the topmost branches only, a few minute and delicate red cone-like
blossoms, the fertile flower of the white pine looking heavenward. I
carried straightway to the village the topmost spire, and showed it to
stranger jurymen who walked the streets,--for it was court-week,--and
to farmers and lumber-dealers and wood-choppers and hunters, and not
one had ever seen the like before, but they wondered as at a star
dropped down. Tell of ancient architects finishing their works on the
tops of columns as perfectly as on the lower and more visible parts!
Nature has from the first expanded the minute blossoms of the forest
only toward the heavens, above men's heads and unobserved by them. We
see only the flowers that are under our feet in the meadows. The pines
have developed their delicate blossoms on the highest twigs of the wood
every summer for ages, as well over the heads of Nature's red children
as of her white ones; yet scarcely a farmer or hunter in the land has
ever seen them.

Above all, we cannot afford not to live in the present. He is blessed
over all mortals who loses no moment of the passing life in remembering
the past. Unless our philosophy hears the cock crow in every barn-yard
within our horizon, it is belated. That sound commonly reminds us that
we are growing rusty and antique in our employments and habits of
thought. His philosophy comes down to a more recent time than ours.
There is something suggested by it that is a newer testament--the
gospel according to this moment. He has not fallen astern; he has got
up early and kept up early, and to be where he is to be in season,
in the foremost rank of time. It is an expression of the health and
soundness of Nature, a brag for all the world,--healthiness as of a
spring burst forth, a new fountain of the Muses, to celebrate this last
instant of time. Where he lives no fugitive slave laws are passed. Who
has not betrayed his master many times since last he heard the note?

The merit of this bird's strain is in its freedom from all
plaintiveness. The singer can easily move us to tears or to laughter,
but where is he who can excite in us a pure morning joy? When, in
doleful dumps, breaking the awful stillness of our wooden sidewalk on
a Sunday, or, perchance, a watcher in the house of mourning, I hear a
cockerel crow far or near, I think to myself, "There is one of us well,
at any rate,"--and with a sudden gush return to my senses.

We had a remarkable sunset one day last November. I was walking in a
meadow, the source of a small brook, when the sun at last, just before
setting, after a cold grey day, reached a clear stratum in the horizon,
and the softest, brightest morning sunlight fell on the dry grass and
on the stems of the trees in the opposite horizon, and on the leaves
of the shrub-oaks on the hillside, while our shadows stretched long
over the meadow eastward, as if we were the only motes in its beams.
It was such a light as we could not have imagined a moment before, and
the air also was so warm and serene that nothing was wanting to make a
paradise of that meadow. When we reflected that this was not a solitary
phenomenon, never to happen again, but that it would happen for ever
and ever an infinite number of evenings, and cheer and reassure the
latest child that walked there, it was more glorious still.

The sun sets on some retired meadow, where no house is visible, with
all the glory and splendour that it lavishes on cities, and, perchance,
as it has never set before,--where there is but a solitary marsh-hawk
to have his wings gilded by it, or only a musquash looks out from his
cabin, and there is some little black-veined brook in the midst of
the marsh, just beginning to meander, winding slowly round a decaying
stump. We walked in so pure and bright a light, gilding the withered
grass and leaves, so softly and serenely bright, I thought I had never
bathed in such a golden flood, without a ripple or a murmur to it. The
west side of every wood and rising ground gleamed like the boundary of
Elysium, and the sun on our backs seemed like a gentle herdsman driving
us home at evening.

So we saunter toward the Holy Land, till one day the sun shall shine
more brightly than ever he has done, shall perchance shine into our
minds and hearts, and light up our whole lives with a great awakening
light, as warm and serene and golden as on a bank-side in autumn.

_H. D. Thoreau._

A Young Tramp

A plan had occurred to me for passing the night, which I was going to
carry into execution. This was, to lie behind the wall at the back
of my old school, in a corner where there used to be a haystack. I
imagined it would be a kind of company to have the boys, and the
bedroom where I used to tell the stories, so near me: although the boys
would know nothing of my being there, and the bedroom would yield me no

I had had a hard day's work, and was pretty well jaded when I came
climbing out, at last, upon the level of Blackheath. It cost me some
trouble to find out Salem House; but I found it, and I found a haystack
in the corner, and I lay down by it; having first walked round the
wall, and looked up at the windows, and seen that all was dark and
silent within. Never shall I forget the lonely sensation of first lying
down, without a roof above my head.

Sleep came upon me as it came on many other outcasts, against whom
house-doors were locked, and house-dogs barked, that night--and I
dreamed of lying on my old school-bed, talking to the boys in my room;
and found myself sitting upright, with Steerforth's name upon my lips,
looking wildly at the stars that were glistening and glimmering above
me. When I remembered where I was at that untimely hour, a feeling
stole upon me that made me get up, afraid of I don't know what, and
walk about. But the faint glimmering of the stars, and the pale light
in the sky where the day was coming, reassured me: and my eyes being
very heavy, I lay down again, and slept--though with a knowledge in
my sleep that it was cold--until the warm beams of the sun, and the
ringing of the getting-up bell at Salem House, awoke me. If I could
have hoped that Steerforth was there, I would have lurked about until
he came out alone; but I knew he must have left long since. Traddles
still remained, perhaps, but it was very doubtful; and I had not
sufficient confidence in his discretion or good luck, however strong
my reliance was on his good-nature, to wish to trust him with my
situation. So I crept away from the wall as Mr Creakle's boys were
getting up, and struck into the long dusty track which I had first
known to be the Dover Road when I was one of them, and when I little
expected that any eyes would ever see me the wayfarer I was now, upon

What a different Sunday morning from the old Sunday morning at
Yarmouth! In due time I heard the church-bells ringing, as I plodded
on; and I met people who were going to church; and I passed a church or
two where the congregation were inside, and the sound of singing came
out into the sunshine, while the beadle sat and cooled himself in the
shade of the porch, or stood beneath the yew-tree, with his hand to his
forehead, glowering at me going by. But the peace and rest of the old
Sunday morning were on everything, except me. That was the difference.
I felt quite wicked in my dirt and dust, with my tangled hair. But for
the quiet picture I had conjured up, of my mother in her youth and
beauty, weeping by the fire, and my aunt relenting to her, I hardly
think I should have had courage to go on until next day. But it always
went before me, and I followed.

I got, that Sunday, through three-and-twenty miles on the straight
road, though not very easily, for I was new to that kind of toil. I
see myself, as evening closes in, coming over the bridge at Rochester,
footsore and tired, and eating bread that I had bought for supper.
One or two little houses, with the notice, "Lodgings for Travellers,"
hanging out, had tempted me; but I was afraid of spending the few pence
I had, and was even more afraid of the vicious looks of the trampers
I had met or overtaken. I sought no shelter, therefore, but the sky;
and toiling into Chatham,--which, in that night's aspect, is a mere
dream of chalk, and drawbridges, and mastless ships in a muddy river,
roofed like Noah's arks,--crept, at last, upon a sort of grass-grown
battery overhanging a lane, where a sentry was walking to and fro. Here
I lay down, near a cannon; and, happy in the society of the sentry's
footsteps, though he knew no more of my being above him than the boys
at Salem House had known of my lying by the wall, slept soundly until

_Charles Dickens,--"David Copperfield."_


Mr Pecksniff's horse being regarded in the light of a sacred animal,
only to be driven by him, the chief priest of that temple, or by some
person distinctly nominated for the time being to that high office by
himself, the two young men agreed to walk to Salisbury; and so, when
the time came, they set off on foot; which was, after all, a better
mode of travelling than in the gig, as the weather was very cold and
very dry.

Better! A rare strong, hearty, healthy walk--four statute miles an
hour--preferable to that rumbling, tumbling, jolting, shaking,
scraping, creaking, villainous old gig? Why, the two things will not
admit of comparison. It is an insult to the walk, to set them side by
side. Where is an instance of a gig having ever circulated a man's
blood, unless when, putting him in danger of his neck, it awakened
in his veins and in his ears, and all along his spine, a tingling
heat, much more peculiar than agreeable? When did a gig ever sharpen
anybody's wits and energies, unless it was when the horse bolted, and,
crashing madly down a steep hill with a stone wall at the bottom, his
desperate circumstances suggested to the only gentleman left inside,
some novel and unheard-of mode of dropping out behind? Better than the

The air was cold, Tom; so it was, there was no denying it; but would
it have been more genial in the gig? The blacksmith's fire burned very
bright, and leaped up high, as though it wanted men to warm; but would
it have been less tempting, looked at from the clammy cushions of a
gig? The wind blew keenly, nipping the features of the hardy wight who
fought his way along; blinding him with his own hair if he had enough
of it, and wintry dust if he hadn't; stopped his breath as though he
had been soused in a cold bath; tearing aside his wrappings-up, and
whistling in the very marrow of his bones; but it would have done all
this a hundred times more fiercely to a man in a gig, wouldn't it? A
fig for gigs!

Better than the gig! When were travellers by wheels and hoofs seen with
such red-hot cheeks as those? when were they so good-humouredly and
merrily bloused? when did their laughter ring upon the air, as they
turned them round, what time the stronger gusts came sweeping up; and,
facing round again as they passed by, dashed on, in such a glow of
ruddy health as nothing could keep pace with, but the high spirits it
engendered? Better than the gig! Why, here _is_ a man in a gig coming
the same way now. Look at him as he passes his whip into his left hand,
chafes his numbed right fingers on his granite leg, and beats those
marble toes of his upon the footboard. Ha, ha, ha! Who would exchange
this rapid hurry of the blood for yonder stagnant misery, though its
pace were twenty miles for one?

Better than the gig! No man in a gig could have such interest in the
milestones. No man in a gig could see, or feel, or think, like merry
users of their legs. How, as the wind sweeps on, upon these breezy
downs, it tracks its flight in darkening ripples on the grass, and
smoothest shadows on the hills! Look round and round upon this bare
black plain, and see even here, upon a winter's day, how beautiful
the shadows are! Alas! it is the nature of their kind to be so. The
loveliest things in life, Tom, are but shadows; and they come and go,
and change and fade away, as rapidly as these!

Another mile, and then begins a fall of snow, making the crow, who
skims away so close above the ground to shirk the wind, a blot of ink
upon the landscape. But though it drives and drifts against them as
they walk, stiffening on their skirts, and freezing in the lashes of
their eyes, they wouldn't have it fall more sparingly, no, not so much
as by a single flake, although they had to go a score of miles. And,
lo! the towers of the Old Cathedral rise before them, even now! and
by-and-bye they come into the sheltered streets, made strangely silent
by their white carpet; and so to the Inn for which they are bound;
where they present such flushed and burning faces to the cold waiter,
and are so brimful of vigour, that he almost feels assaulted by their
presence; and, having nothing to oppose to the attack (being fresh, or
rather stale, from the blazing fire in the coffee-room), is quite put
out of his pale countenance.

_Charles Dickens_,--"_Martin Chuzzlewit_."

De Quincey leads the Simple Life

There were already, even in those days of 1802, numerous inns, erected
at reasonable distances from each other, for the accommodation
of tourists: and no sort of disgrace attached in Wales, as too
generally upon the great roads of England, to the pedestrian style of
travelling. Indeed, the majority of those whom I met as fellow-tourists
in the quiet little cottage-parlours of the Welsh posting-houses
were pedestrian travellers. All the way from Shrewsbury through
Llangollen, Llanrwst, Conway, Bangor, then turning to the left at right
angles through Carnarvon, and so on to Dolgelly (the chief town of
Merionethshire), Tan-y-Bwlch, Harlech, Barmouth, and through the sweet
solitudes of Cardiganshire, or turning back sharply towards the English
border through the gorgeous wood scenery of Montgomeryshire--everywhere
at intermitting distances of twelve to sixteen miles, I found the
most comfortable inns. One feature indeed of repose in all this
chain of solitary resting-houses--viz., the fact that none of them
rose above two storeys in height--was due to the modest scale on
which the travelling system of the Principality had moulded itself
in correspondence to the calls of England, which then (but be it
remembered this _then_ was in 1802, a year of peace) threw a very
small proportion of her vast migratory population annually into this
sequestered channel. No huge Babylonian centres of commerce towered
into the clouds on these sweet sylvan routes: no hurricanes of haste,
or fever-stricken armies of horses and flying chariots, tormented the
echoes in these mountain recesses. And it has often struck me that a
world-wearied man, who sought for the peace of monasteries separated
from their gloomy captivity--peace and silence such as theirs combined
with the large liberty of nature--could not do better than revolve
amongst these modest inns in the five northern Welsh counties of
Denbigh, Montgomery, Carnarvon, Merioneth, and Cardigan. Sleeping, for
instance, and breakfasting at Carnarvon; then, by an easy nine-mile
walk, going forwards to dinner at Bangor, thence to Aber--nine miles;
or to Llanberris; and so on for ever, accomplishing seventy to ninety
or one hundred miles in a week. This, upon actual experiment, and for
week after week, I found the most delightful of lives. Here was the
eternal motion of winds and rivers, or of the Wandering Jew liberated
from the persecution which compelled him to move, and turned his breezy
freedom into a killing captivity. Happier life I cannot imagine than
this vagrancy, if the weather were but tolerable, through endless
successions of changing beauty, and towards evening a courteous
welcome in a pretty rustic home--that having all the luxuries of a
fine hotel (in particular some luxuries[1] that are almost sacred to
Alpine regions), was at the same time liberated from the inevitable
accompaniments of such hotels in great cities or at great travelling
stations--viz., the tumult and uproar.

Life on this model was but too delightful; and to myself especially,
that am never thoroughly in health unless when having pedestrian
exercise to the extent of fifteen miles at the most, and eight to ten
miles at the least. Living thus, a man earned his daily enjoyment. But
what did it cost? About half a guinea a day: whilst my boyish allowance
was not a third of this. The flagrant health, health boiling over
in fiery rapture, which ran along, side by side, with exercise on
this scale, whilst all the while from morning to night I was inhaling
mountain air, soon passed into a hateful scourge. Perquisites to
servants and a bed would have absorbed the whole of my weekly guinea.
My policy therefore was, if the autumnal air was warm enough, to save
this expense of a bed and the chambermaid by sleeping amongst ferns
or furze upon a hillside; and perhaps with a cloak of sufficient
_weight_ as well as compass, or an Arab's burnoose, this would have
been no great hardship. But then in the daytime what an oppressive
burden to carry! So perhaps it was as well that I had no cloak at all.
I did, however, for some weeks try the plan of carrying a canvas tent
manufactured by myself, and not larger than an ordinary umbrella: but
to pitch this securely I found difficult; and on windy nights it became
a troublesome companion. As winter drew near, this bivouacking system
became too dangerous to attempt. Still one may bivouack decently,
barring rain and wind, up to the end of October. And I counted, on
the whole, that in a fortnight I spent nine nights abroad. There are,
as perhaps the reader knows by experience, no jaguars in Wales--nor
pumas--nor anacondas--nor (generally speaking) any Thugs. What I feared
most, but perhaps only through ignorance of zoology, was, lest, whilst
my sleeping face was upturned to the stars, some one of the many little
Brahminical-looking cows on the Cambrian hills, one or other, might
poach her foot into the centre of my face. I do not suppose any fixed
hostility of that nature to English faces in Welsh cows: but everywhere
I observe in the feminine mind something of beautiful caprice, a floral
exuberance of that charming wilfulness which characterises our dear
human sisters I fear through all worlds. Against Thugs I had Juvenal's
license to be careless in the emptiness of my pockets (_cantabit vacuus
coram latrone viator_). But I fear that Juvenal's license will not
always hold water. There are people bent upon cudgelling one who will
persist in excusing one's having nothing but a bad shilling in one's
purse, without reading in that Juvenalian _vacuitas_ any privilege or
license of exemption from the general fate of travellers that intrude
upon the solitude of robbers.

_Thomas de Quincey._


[1] But a luxury of another class, and quite peculiar to Wales, was in
those days (I hope in these) the Welsh harp, in attendance at every inn.

A Resolution

I had long ago determined to leave London as soon as the means should
be in my power, and, now that they were, I determined to leave the
Great City; yet I felt some reluctance to go. I would fain have pursued
the career of original authorship which had just opened itself to me,
and have written other tales of adventure. The bookseller had given
me encouragement enough to do so; he had assured me that he should be
always happy to deal with me for an article (that was the word) similar
to the one I had brought him, provided my terms were moderate; and the
bookseller's wife, by her complimentary language, had given me yet more
encouragement. But for some months past I had been far from well, and
my original indisposition, brought on partly by the peculiar atmosphere
of the Big City, partly by anxiety of mind, had been much increased
by the exertions which I had been compelled to make during the last
few days. I felt that, were I to remain where I was, I should die, or
become a confirmed valetudinarian. I would go forth into the country,
travelling on foot, and, by exercise and inhaling pure air, endeavour
to recover my health, leaving my subsequent movements to be determined
by Providence.

But whither should I bend my course? Once or twice I thought of walking
home to the old town, stay some time with my mother and my brother, and
enjoy the pleasant walks in the neighbourhood; but, though I wished
very much to see my mother and my brother, and felt much disposed to
enjoy the said pleasant walks, the old town was not exactly the place
to which I wished to go at this present juncture. I was afraid the
people would ask, Where are your Northern Ballads? Where are your
alliterative translations from Ab Gwilym--of which you were always
talking, and with which you promised to astonish the world? Now, in the
event of such interrogations, what could I answer? It is true I had
compiled Newgate Lives and Trials, and had written the life of Joseph
Sell, but I was afraid that the people of the old town would scarcely
consider these as equivalents for the Northern Ballads and the songs of
Ab Gwilym. I would go forth and wander in any direction but that of the
old town.

But how one's sensibility on any particular point diminishes with
time; at present, I enter the old town perfectly indifferent as to what
the people may be thinking on the subject of the songs and ballads.
With respect to the people themselves, whether, like my sensibility,
their curiosity has altogether evaporated, or whether, which is at
least equally probable, they never entertained any, one thing is
certain, that never in a single instance have they troubled me with any
remarks on the subject of the songs and ballads.

As it was my intention to travel on foot, with a bundle and a stick, I
despatched my trunk containing some few clothes and books to the old
town. My preparations were soon made; in about three days I was in
readiness to start.


After standing still a minute or two, considering what I should do, I
moved down what appeared to be the street of a small straggling town;
presently I passed by a church, which rose indistinctly on my right
hand; anon there was the rustling of foliage and the rushing of waters.
I reached a bridge, beneath which a small stream was running in the
direction of the south. I stopped and leaned over the parapet, for I
have always loved to look upon streams, especially at the still hours.
"What stream is this, I wonder?" said I, as I looked down from the
parapet into the water, which whirled and gurgled below.

Leaving the bridge, I ascended a gentle acclivity, and presently
reached what appeared to be a tract of moory undulating ground. It
was now tolerably light, but there was a mist or haze abroad which
prevented my seeing objects with much precision. I felt chill in the
damp air of the early morn, and walked rapidly forward. In about half
an hour I arrived where the road divided into two, at an angle or
tongue of dark green sward. "To the right or the left?" said I, and
forthwith took, without knowing why, the left-hand road, along which I
proceeded about a hundred yards, when, in the midst of the tongue of
sward formed by the two roads, collaterally with myself, I perceived
what I at first conceived to be a small grove of blighted trunks of
oaks, barked and grey. I stood still for a moment, and then, turning
off the road, advanced slowly towards it over the sward; as I drew
nearer, I perceived that the objects which had attracted my curiosity,
and which formed a kind of circle, were not trees, but immense upright
stones. A thrill pervaded my system; just before me were two, the
mightiest of the whole, tall as the stems of proud oaks, supporting on
their tops a huge transverse stone, and forming a wonderful doorway. I
knew now where I was, and, laying down my stick and bundle, and taking
off my hat, I advanced slowly, and cast myself--it was folly, perhaps,
but I could not help what I did--cast myself, with my face on the dewy
earth, in the middle of the portal of giants, beneath the transverse

The spirit of Stonehenge was strong upon me!

And after I had remained with my face on the ground for some time, I
arose, placed my hat on my head, and, taking up my stick and bundle,
wandered around the wondrous circle, examining each individual stone,
from the greatest to the least; and then, entering by the great door,
seated myself upon an immense broad stone, one side of which was
supported by several small ones, and the other slanted upon the earth;
and there in deep meditation, I sat for an hour or two, till the sun
shone in my face above the tall stones of the eastern side.

And as I still sat there, I heard the noise of bells, and presently a
large number of sheep came browsing past the circle of stones; two or
three entered, and grazed upon what they could find, and soon a man
also entered the circle at the northern side.

"Early here, sir," said the man, who was tall, and dressed in a dark
green slop, and had all the appearance of a shepherd; "a traveller, I

"Yes," said I, "I am a traveller; are these sheep yours?"

"They are, sir; that is, they are my master's. A strange place this,
sir," said he, looking at the stones; "ever here before?"

"Never in body, frequently in mind."

"Heard of the stones, I suppose; no wonder--all the people of the plain
talk of them."

"What do the people of the plain say of them?"

"Why, they say--How did they ever come here?"

"Do they not suppose them to have been brought?"

"Who should have brought them?"

"I have read that they were brought by many thousand men."

"Where from?"


"How did they bring them?"

"I don't know."

"And what did they bring them for?"

"To form a temple, perhaps."

"What is that?"

"A place to worship God in."

"A strange place to worship God in."


"It has no roof."

"Yes, it has."

"Where?" said the man, looking up.

"What do you see above you?"

"The sky."



"Have you anything to say?"

"How did those stones come here?"

"Are there other stones like these on the plains?" said I.

"None; and yet there are plenty of strange things on these downs."

"What are they?"

"Strange heaps, and barrows, and great walls of earth built on the top
of hills."

"Do the people of the plain wonder how they came there?"

"They do not."


"They were raised by hands."

"And these stones?"

"How did they ever come here?"

"I wonder whether they are here?" said I.

"These stones?"


"So sure as the world," said the man; "and as the world, they will
stand as long."

"I wonder whether there is a world."

"What do you mean?"

"An earth and sea, moon and stars, sheep and men."

"Do you doubt it?"


"I never heard it doubted before."

"It is impossible there should be a world."

"It ain't possible there shouldn't be a world."

"Just so." At this moment a fine ewe, attended by a lamb, rushed into
the circle and fondled the knees of the shepherd. "I suppose you would
not care to have some milk?" said the man.

"Why do you suppose so?"

"Because, so be, there be no sheep, no milk, you know; and what there
ben't is not worth having."

"You could not have argued better," said I, "that is, supposing you
have argued; with respect to the milk you may do as you please."

"Be still, Nanny," said the man; and producing a tin vessel from his
scrip, he milked the ewe into it. "Here is milk of the plains, master,"
said the man, as he handed the vessel to me.

"Where are those barrows and great walls of earth you were speaking
of?" said I, after I had drunk some of the milk; "are there any near
where we are?"

"Not within many miles; the nearest is yonder away," said the shepherd,
pointing to the south-east. "It's a grand place, that, but not like
this; quite different, and from it you have a sight of the finest spire
in the world."

"I must go to it," said I, and I drank the remainder of the milk;
"yonder, you say."

"Yes, yonder; but you cannot get to it in that direction, the river
lies between."

"What river?"

"The Avon."

"Avon is British," said I.

"Yes," said the man, "we are all British here."

"No, we are not," said I.

"What are we, then?"


"A'n't they one?"


"Who were the British?"

"The men who are supposed to have worshipped God in this place, and who
raised these stones."

"Where are they now?"

"Our forefathers slaughtered them, spilled their blood all about,
especially in this neighbourhood, destroyed their pleasant places, and
left not, to use their own words, one stone upon another."

"Yes, they did," said the shepherd, looking aloft at the transverse

"And it is well for them they did; whenever that stone, which English
hands never raised, is by English hands thrown down, woe, woe, woe
to the English race; spare it, English! Hengist spared it!--Here is

"I won't have it," said the man.

"Why not?"

"You talk so prettily about these stones; you seem to know all about

"I never receive presents; with respect to the stones, I say with
yourself, How did they ever come here?"

"How did they ever come here?" said the shepherd.


Leaving the shepherd, I bent my way in the direction pointed out by
him as that in which the most remarkable of the strange remains of
which he had spoken lay. I proceeded rapidly, making my way over the
downs covered with coarse grass and fern; with respect to the river of
which he had spoken, I reflected that, either by wading or swimming, I
could easily transfer myself and what I bore to the opposite side. On
arriving at its banks, I found it a beautiful stream, but shallow, with
here and there a deep place, where the water ran dark and still.

Always fond of the pure lymph, I undressed, and plunged into one of
these gulfs, from which I emerged, my whole frame in a glow, and
tingling with delicious sensations. After conveying my clothes and
scanty baggage to the farther side, I dressed, and then with hurried
steps bent my course in the direction of some lofty ground; I at
length found myself on a high road, leading over wide and arid downs;
following the road for some miles without seeing anything remarkable,
I supposed at length that I had taken the wrong path, and wended on
slowly and disconsolately for some time, till, having nearly surmounted
a steep hill, I knew at once, from certain appearances, that I was
near the object of my search. Turning to the right near the brow of
the hill, I proceeded along a path which brought me to a causeway
leading over a deep ravine, and connecting the hill with another which
had once formed part of it, for the ravine was evidently the work of
art. I passed over the causeway, and found myself in a kind of gateway
which admitted me into a square space of many acres, surrounded on all
sides by mounds or ramparts of earth. Though I had never been in such
a place before, I knew that I stood within the precincts of what had
been a Roman encampment, and one probably of the largest size, for many
thousand warriors might have found room to perform their evolutions in
that space, in which corn was now growing, the green ears waving in the
morning wind.

After I had gazed about the space for a time, standing in the gateway
formed by the mounds, I clambered up the mound to the left hand, and on
the top of that mound I found myself at a great altitude; beneath, at
the distance of a mile, was a fair old city, situated amongst verdant
meadows, watered with streams, and from the heart of that old city,
from amidst mighty trees, I beheld towering to the sky the finest spire
in the world.

After I had looked from the Roman rampart for a long time, I hurried
away, and, retracing my steps along the causeway, regained the road,
and, passing over the brow of the hill, descended to the city of the


After walking about a dozen miles, I came to a town, where I rested
for the night. The next morning I set out again in the direction
of the north-west. I continued journeying for four days, my daily
journeys varying from twenty to twenty-five miles. During this time
nothing occurred to me worthy of any especial notice. The weather was
brilliant, and I rapidly improved both in strength and spirits. On
the fifth day, about two o'clock, I arrived at a small town. Feeling
hungry, I entered a decent-looking inn--within a kind of bar I saw a
huge, fat, landlord-looking person, with a very pretty, smartly-dressed
maiden. Addressing myself to the fat man, "House!" said I, "house! Can
I have dinner, house?" "Young gentleman," said the huge fat landlord,
"you are come at the right time; dinner will be taken up in a few
minutes, and such a dinner," he continued, rubbing his hands, "as you
will not see every day in these times."

"I am hot and dusty," said I, "and should wish to cool my hands and

"Jenny!" said the huge landlord, with the utmost gravity, "show the
gentleman into number seven, that he may wash his hands and face."

"By no means," said I, "I am a person of primitive habits, and there is
nothing like the pump in weather like this."

"Jenny!" said the landlord, with the same gravity as before, "go with
the young gentleman to the pump in the back kitchen, and take a clean
towel along with you."

Thereupon the rosy-faced clean-looking damsel went to a drawer, and
producing a large, thick, but snowy-white towel, she nodded to me to
follow her; whereupon I followed Jenny through a long passage into the
back kitchen.

And at the end of the back kitchen there stood a pump; and going to it
I placed my hands beneath the spout, and said, "Pump, Jenny"; and Jenny
incontinently, without laying down the towel, pumped with one hand, and
I washed and cooled my heated hands.

And, when my hands were washed and cooled, I took off my neckcloth, and
unbuttoning my shirt collar, I placed my head beneath the spout of the
pump, and I said unto Jenny, "Now, Jenny, lay down the towel, and pump
for your life."

Thereupon Jenny, placing the towel on a linen-horse, took the handle of
the pump with both hands and pumped over my head as handmaid had never
pumped before; so that the water poured in torrents from my head, my
face, and my hair down upon the brick floor.

And after the lapse of somewhat more than a minute, I called out with
a half-strangled voice, "Hold, Jenny!" and Jenny desisted. I stood
for a few moments to recover my breath, then taking the towel which
Jenny proffered, I dried composedly my hands and head, my face and
hair; then, returning the towel to Jenny, I gave a deep sigh and said,
"Surely this is one of the pleasant moments of life."

_George Borrow_,--"_Lavengro_."

The Snowdon Ranger

I quickened my steps, and soon came up to the two individuals. One was
an elderly man, dressed in a smock frock, and with a hairy cap on his
head. The other was much younger, wore a hat, and was dressed in a
coarse suit of blue, nearly new, and doubtless his Sunday's best. He
was smoking a pipe. I greeted them in English, and sat down near them.
They responded in the same language, the younger man with considerable
civility and briskness, the other in a tone of voice denoting some

"May I ask the name of this lake?" said I, addressing myself to the
young man, who sat between me and the elderly one.

"Its name is Llyn Cwellyn, sir," said he, taking the pipe out of his
mouth. "And a fine lake it is."

"Plenty of fish in it?" I demanded.

"Plenty, sir; plenty of trout and pike and char."

"Is it deep?" said I.

"Near the shore it is shallow, sir, but in the middle and near the
other side it is deep, so deep that no one knows how deep it is."

"What is the name," said I, "of the great black mountain there on the
other side?"

"It is called Mynydd Mawr, or the Great Mountain. Yonder rock, which
bulks out from it, down the lake yonder, and which you passed as you
came along, is called Castell Cidwm, which means Wolf s rock or castle."

"Did a wolf ever live there?" I demanded.

"Perhaps so," said the man, "for I have heard say that there were
wolves of old in Wales."

"And what is the name of the beautiful hill yonder, before us across
the water?"

"That, sir, is called Cairn Drws y Coed," said the man.

"The stone heap of the gate of the wood," said I.

"Are you Welsh, sir?" said the man.

"No," said I, "but I know something of the language of Wales. I suppose
you live in that house?"

"Not exactly, sir; my father-in-law here lives in that house, and my
wife with him. I am a miner, and spend six days in the week at my mine,
but every Sunday I come here, and pass the day with my wife and him."

"And what profession does he follow?" said I; "is he a fisherman?"

"Fisherman!" said the elderly man contemptuously, "not I. I am the
Snowdon Ranger."

"And what is that?" said I.

The elderly man tossed his head proudly, and made no reply.

"A ranger means a guide, sir," said the younger man--"my father-in-law
is generally termed the Snowdon Ranger because he is a tip-top guide,
and he has named the house after him the Snowdon Ranger. He entertains
gentlemen in it who put themselves under his guidance in order to
ascend Snowdon and to see the country."

"There is some difference in your professions," said I; "he deals in
heights, you in depths; both, however, are break-necky trades."

"I run more risk from gunpowder than anything else," said the younger
man. "I am a slate-miner, and am continually blasting. I have, however,
had my falls. Are you going far to-night, sir?"

"I am going to Bethgelert," said I.

"A good six miles, sir, from here. Do you come from Caernarvon?"

"Farther than that," said I. "I come from Bangor."

"To-day, sir, and walking?"

"To-day, and walking."

"You must be rather tired, sir; you came along the valley very slowly."

"I am not in the slightest degree tired," said I; "when I start from
here, I shall put on my best pace, and soon get to Bethgelert."

"Anybody can get along over level ground," said the old man,

"Not with equal swiftness," said I. "I do assure you, friend, to be
able to move at a good swinging pace over level ground is something
not to be sneezed at. Not," said I, lifting up my voice, "that I would
for a moment compare walking on the level ground to mountain ranging,
pacing along the road to springing up crags like a mountain goat, or
assert that even Powell himself, the first of all road walkers, was
entitled to so bright a wreath of fame as the Snowdon Ranger."

"Won't you walk in, sir?" said the elderly man.

"No, I thank you," said I; "I prefer sitting out here, gazing on the
lake and the noble mountains."

"I wish you would, sir," said the elderly man, "and take a glass of
something; I will charge you nothing."

"Thank you," said I--"I am in want of nothing, and shall presently
start. Do many people ascend Snowdon from your house?"

"Not so many as I could wish," said the ranger; "people in general
prefer ascending Snowdon from that trumpery place Bethgelert; but those
who do are fools--begging your honour's pardon. The place to ascend
Snowdon from is my house. The way from my house up Snowdon is wonderful
for the romantic scenery which it affords; that from Bethgelert
can't be named in the same day with it for scenery; moreover, from
my house you may have the best guide in Wales; whereas the guides of
Bethgelert--but I say nothing. If your honour is bound for the Wyddfa,
as I suppose you are, you had better start from my house to-morrow
under my guidance."

"I have already been up the Wyddfa from Llanberis," said I, "and am
now going through Bethgelert to Llangollen, where my family are; were
I going up Snowdon again, I should most certainly start from your
house under your guidance, and were I not in a hurry at present, I
would certainly take up my quarters here for a week, and every day
make excursions with you into the recesses of Eryri. I suppose you are
acquainted with all the secrets of the hills?"

"Trust the old ranger for that, your honour. I would show your honour
the black lake in the frightful hollow, in which the fishes have
monstrous heads and little bodies, the lake on which neither swan,
duck nor any kind of wildfowl was ever seen to light. Then I would show
your honour the fountain of the hopping creatures, where, where----"

"Were you ever at that Wolf's crag, that Castell y Cidwm?" said I.

"Can't say I ever was, your honour. You see it lies so close by, just
across that lake, that----"

"You thought you could see it any day, and so never went," said I.
"Can't you tell me whether there are any ruins upon it?"

"I can't, your honour."

"I shouldn't wonder," said I, "if in old times it was the stronghold
of some robber-chieftain; cidwm in the old Welsh is frequently applied
to a ferocious man. Castell Cidwm, I should think, rather ought to be
translated the robber's castle, than the wolf's rock. If I ever come
into these parts again, you and I will visit it together, and see
what kind of a place it is. Now farewell! It is getting late." I then

"What a nice gentleman!" said the younger man, when I was a few yards

"I never saw a nicer gentleman," said the old ranger.

I sped along, Snowdon on my left, the lake on my right, and the tip
of a mountain peak right before me in the east. After a little
time I looked back; what a scene! The silver lake and the shadowy
mountain over its southern side looking now, methought, very much like
Gibraltar. I lingered and lingered, gazing and gazing, and at last only
by an effort tore myself away. The evening had now become delightfully
cool in this land of wonders. On I sped, passing by two noisy brooks
coming from Snowdon to pay tribute to the lake. And now I had left the
lake and the valley behind, and was ascending a hill. As I gained its
summit, up rose the moon to cheer my way. In a little time, a wild
stony gorge confronted me, a stream ran down the gorge with hollow
roar, a bridge lay across it. I asked a figure whom I saw standing by
the bridge the place's name. "Rhyd du"--the black ford--I crossed the
bridge. The voice of the Methodist was yelling from a little chapel
on my left. I went to the door and listened: "When the sinner takes
hold of God, God takes hold of the sinner." The voice was frightfully
hoarse. I passed on; night fell fast around me, and the mountain to the
south-east, towards which I was tending, looked blackly grand. And now
I came to a milestone, on which I read with difficulty: "Three miles
to Bethgelert." The way for some time had been upward, but now it was
downward. I reached a torrent, which, coming from the north-west,
rushed under a bridge, over which I passed. The torrent attended me on
my right hand the whole way to Bethgelert. The descent now became very
rapid. I passed a pine wood on my left, and proceeded for more than two
miles at a tremendous rate. I then came to a wood--this wood was just
above Bethgelert--proceeding in the direction of a black mountain, I
found myself amongst houses, at the bottom of a valley. I passed over a
bridge, and inquiring of some people, whom I met, the way to the inn,
was shown an edifice brilliantly lighted up, which I entered.


Wending my course to the north, I came to the white bare spot which I
had seen from the moor, and which was in fact the top of a considerable
elevation over which the road passed. Here I turned and looked at the
hills I had come across. There they stood, darkly blue, a rain cloud,
like ink, hanging over their summits. O, the wild hills of Wales, the
land of old renown and of wonder, the land of Arthur and Merlin.

The road now lay nearly due west. Rain came on, but it was at my back,
so I expanded my umbrella, flung it over my shoulder and laughed.
O, how a man laughs who has a good umbrella when he has the rain at
his back, aye and over his head too, and at all times when it rains
except when the rain is in his face, when the umbrella is not of much
service. O, what a good friend to a man is an umbrella in rain time,
and likewise at many other times. What need he fear if a wild bull or a
ferocious dog attacks him, provided he has a good umbrella? he unfurls
the umbrella in the face of the bull or dog, and the brute turns round
quite scared, and runs away. Or if a footpad asks him for his money,
what need he care provided he has an umbrella? he threatens to dodge
the ferrule into the ruffian's eye, and the fellow starts back and
says, "Lord, sir! I meant no harm. I never saw you before in all my
life. I merely meant a little fun." Moreover, who doubts that you are
a respectable character provided you have an umbrella? you go into a
public-house and call for a pot of beer, and the publican puts it down
before you with one hand without holding out the other for the money,
for he sees that you have an umbrella and consequently property. And
what respectable man, when you overtake him on the way and speak to
him, will refuse to hold conversation with you, provided you have an
umbrella? No one. The respectable man sees you have an umbrella and
concludes that you do not intend to rob him, and with justice, for
robbers never carry umbrellas. O, a tent, a shield, a lance and a
voucher for character is an umbrella. Amongst the very best friends of
man must be reckoned an umbrella.[2]

The way lay over dreary, moory hills: at last it began to descend and
I saw a valley below me with a narrow river running through it to
which wooded hills sloped down; far to the west were blue mountains.
The scene was beautiful but melancholy; the rain had passed away, but
a gloomy almost November sky was above, and the mists of night were
coming down apace.

I crossed a bridge at the bottom of the valley and presently saw a road
branching to the right. I paused, but after a little time went straight
forward. Gloomy woods were on each side of me and night had come down.
Fear came upon me that I was not in the right road, but I saw no house
at which I could inquire, nor did I see a single individual for miles
of whom I could ask. At last I heard the sound of hatchets in a dingle
on my right, and catching a glimpse of a gate at the head of a path,
which led down into it, I got over it. After descending some time I
hallooed. The noise of the hatchets ceased. I hallooed again, and a
voice cried in Welsh, "What do you want?" "To know the way to Bala,"
I replied. There was no answer, but presently I heard steps, and the
figure of a man drew nigh half undistinguishable in the darkness and
saluted me. I returned his salutation, and told him I wanted to know
the way to Bala. He told me, and I found I had been going right. I
thanked him and regained the road. I sped onward and in about half an
hour saw some houses, then a bridge, then a lake on my left, which I
recognised as the lake of Bala. I skirted the end of it, and came to
a street cheerfully lighted up, and in a minute more was in the White
Lion Inn.


The sun was going down as I left the inn. I recrossed the streamlet
by means of the pole and rail. The water was running with much less
violence than in the morning, and was considerably lower. The evening
was calm and beautifully cool, with a slight tendency to frost. I
walked along with a bounding and elastic step, and never remember to
have felt more happy and cheerful.

I reached the hospice at about six o'clock, a bright moon shining upon
me, and found a capital supper awaiting me, which I enjoyed exceedingly.

How one enjoys one's supper at one's inn, after a good day's walk,
provided one has the proud and glorious consciousness of being able to
pay one's reckoning on the morrow!

The morning of the sixth was bright and glorious. As I looked from
the window of the upper sitting-room of the hospice the scene which
presented itself was wild and beautiful to a degree. The oak-covered
tops of the volcanic crater were gilded with the brightest sunshine,
whilst the eastern side remained in dark shade and the gap or narrow
entrance to the north in shadow yet darker, in the midst of which shone
the silver of the Rheidol cataract. Should I live a hundred years I
shall never forget the wild fantastic beauty of that morning scene.

_George Borrow_,--"_Wild Wales_."


[2] As the umbrella is rather a hackneyed subject two or three things
will of course be found in the above eulogium on an umbrella which have
been said by other folks on that subject; the writer, however, flatters
himself that in his eulogium on an umbrella two or three things will
also be found which have never been said by any one else about an

Song of the Open Road

     Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road!
     Healthy, free, the world before me,
     The long brown path before me, leading where-ever I choose!

     Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
     Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
     Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
     Strong and content I travel the open road.

     The earth--that is sufficient,
     I do not want the constellations any nearer,
     I know they are very well where they are,
     I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

     Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
     I carry them, men and women--I carry them with me wherever I go,
     I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
     I am fill'd with them, and I will fill them in return.

     You road I travel and look around! I believe you are not all that
       is here!
     I believe that something unseen is also here.

     Here is the profound lesson of reception, neither preference or
     The black with his woolly head, the felon, the diseased, the
       illiterate person, are not denied,
     The birth, the hasting after the physician, the beggar's tramp, the
       drunkard's stagger, the laughing party of mechanics,
     The escaped youth, the rich person's carriage, the fop, the eloping

     The early market-man, the hearse, the moving of furniture into the
       town, the return back from the town,
     They pass, I also pass, any thing passes, none can be interdicted,
     None but are accepted, none but are dear to me.

     You air that serves me with breath to speak!
     You objects that call from diffusion my meanings and give them
     You light that wraps me and all things in delicate equable
     You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the road-sides!
     I think you are latent with curious existences--you are so dear
       to me.

     You flagg'd walks of the cities! you strong curbs at the edges!
     You ferries! you planks and posts of wharves! you timber-lined
       sides! you distant ships!

     You rows of houses! you window-pierced façades! you roofs!
     You porches and entrances! you copings and iron guards!
     You windows whose transparent shells might expose so much!
     You doors and ascending steps! you arches!
     You grey stones of interminable pavements! you trodden crossings!
     From all that has been near you I believe you have imparted to
       yourselves, and now would impart the same secretly to me,
     From the living and the dead I think you have peopled your
       impassive surfaces, and the spirits thereof would be evident and
       amicable with me.

     The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
     The picture alive, every part in its best light,
     The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is
       not wanted,
     The cheerful voice of the public road--the gay fresh sentiment of
       the road.

     O highway I travel! O public road! Do you say to me, Do not leave
     Do you say, Venture not?--If you leave me you are lost?
     Do you say, I am already prepared--I am well beaten and
       undenied--adhere to me?

     O public road! I say back I am not afraid to leave you--yet I love
     You express me better than I can express myself,
     You shall be more to me than my poem.

     I think heroic deeds were all conceived in the open air,
     I think I could stop here myself and do miracles,
     I think whatever I meet on the road I shall like, and whoever
       beholds me shall like me,
     I think whoever I see must be happy.

     From this hour, freedom!
     From this hour I ordain myself loosed of limits and imaginary
     Going where I list--my own master, total and absolute,
     Listening to others, considering well what they say,
     Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating.
     Gently but with undeniable will divesting myself of the holds that
       would hold me.
     I inhale great draughts of air,
     The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are

     I am larger than I thought!
     I did not know I held so much goodness!

     All seems beautiful to me,
     I can repeat over to men and women, You have done such good to me,
       I would do the same to you,
     I will recruit for myself and you as I go,
     I will scatter myself among men and women as I go,
     I will toss a new gladness and roughness among them,
     Whoever denies me it shall not trouble me,
     Whoever accepts me he or she shall be blessed and shall bless me.

     Now if a thousand perfect men were to appear, it would not amaze
     Now if a thousand beautiful forms of women appear'd, it would not
       astonish me.

     Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
     It is to grow in the open air, and eat and sleep with the earth.

     Here a great personal deed has room,
     (Such a deed seizes upon the hearts of the whole race of men,
     Its effusion of strength and will overwhelms laws and mocks all
       authority and all argument against it.)

     Here is the test of wisdom,
     Wisdom is not finally tested in schools,
     Wisdom cannot be pass'd from one having it to another not having
     Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own
     Applies to all stages and objects and qualities and is content,
     Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the
       excellence of things;
     Something there is in the float of the sight of things that
       provokes it out of the soul.

     Now I re-examine philosophies and religions,
     They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at all under
       the spacious clouds and along the landscape and flowing currents.

     Here is realization,
     Here is a man tallied--he realizes here what he has in him,
     The past, the future, majesty, love--if they are vacant of you, you
       are vacant of them.

     Only the kernel of every object nourishes;
     Where is he who tears off the husks for you and me?
     Where is he that undoes stratagems and envelopes for you and me?

     Here is adhesiveness, it is not previously fashion'd, it is
     Do you know what it is as you pass to be loved by strangers?
     Do you know the talk of those turning eyeballs?

     Here is the efflux of the soul,
     The efflux of the soul comes from within through embower'd gates,
       ever provoking questions.
     These yearnings why are they? these thoughts in the darkness why
       are they?
     Why are there men and women that while they are nigh me the
       sunlight expands my blood?
     Why when they leave me do my pennants of joy sink flat and lank?
     Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious
       thoughts descend upon me?
     (I think they hang there winter and summer on those trees and
       almost drop fruit as I pass;)
     What is it I interchange so suddenly with strangers?
     What with some driver as I ride on the seat by his side?
     What with some fisherman drawing his seine by the shore as I walk
       by and pause?
     What gives me to be free to a woman's and man's good-will? what
       gives them to be free to mine?

     The efflux of the soul is happiness, here is happiness.
     I think it pervades the open air, waiting at all times,
     Now it flows unto us, we are rightly charged.
     Here rises the fluid and attaching character,
     The fluid and attaching character is the freshness and sweetness of
       man and woman,
     (The herbs of the morning sprout no fresher and sweeter every day
       out of the roots of themselves, than it sprouts fresh and sweet
       continually out of itself.)

     Toward the fluid and attaching character exudes the sweat of the
       love of young and old,
     From it falls distill'd the charm that mocks beauty and
     Toward it heaves the shuddering longing ache of contact.

     Allons! whoever you are come travel with me.
     Travelling with me you find what never tires.

     The earth never tires,
     The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, Nature is
       rude and incomprehensible at first,
     Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well
     I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words
       can tell.

     Allons! we must not stop here,
     However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this
       dwelling we cannot remain here,
     However shelter'd this port and however calm these waters we must
       not anchor here,
     However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted
       to receive it but a little while.

     Allons! the inducements shall be greater,
     We will sail pathless and wild seas,
     We will go where winds blow, waves dash, and the Yankee clipper
       speeds by under full sail.

     Allons! with power, liberty, the earth, the elements,
     Health, defiance, gaiety, self-esteem, curiosity;
     Allons! from all formulas!
     From your formulas, O bat-eyed and materialistic priests.

     The stale cadaver blocks up the passage--the burial waits no

     Allons! yet take warning!
     He travelling with me needs the best blood, thews, endurance,
     None may come to the trial till he or she bring courage and health,
     Come not here if you have already spent the best of yourself,
     Only those may come who come in sweet and determined bodies,
     No diseas'd person, no rum drinker or venereal taint is permitted

     (I and mine do not convince by arguments, similes, rhymes,
     We convince by our presence.)

     Listen! I will be honest with you,
     I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough new prizes,
     These are the days that must happen to you:
     You shall not heap up what is call'd riches:
     You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve,
     You but arrive at the city to which you were destin'd, you hardly
       settle yourself to satisfaction before you are call'd by an
       irresistible call to depart,
     You shall be treated to the ironical smiles and mockings of those
       who remain behind you,
     What beckonings of love you receive you shall only answer with
       passionate kisses of parting,
     You shall not allow the hold of those who spread their reach'd
       hands toward you.

     Allons! after the great Companions, and to belong to them!
     They too are on the road--they are the swift and majestic
       men--they are the greatest women,
     Enjoyers of calms of seas and storms of seas,
     Sailors of many a ship, walkers of many a mile of land,
     Habitués of many distant countries, habitués of far distant
     Trusters of men and women, observers of cities, solitary toilers,
     Pausers and contemplators of tufts, blossoms, shells of the shore,
     Dancers at wedding-dances, kissers of brides, tender helpers of
       children, bearers of children,
     Soldiers of revolts, standers by gaping graves, lowerers-down of
     Journeyers over consecutive seasons, over the years, the curious
       years each emerging from that which preceded it,
     Journeyers as with companions, namely their own diverse phases,
     Forth-steppers from the latent unrealized baby-days,
     Journeyers gaily with their own youth, journeyers with their
       bearded and well-grain'd manhood,
     Journeyers with their womanhood, ample, unsurpass'd, content,
     Journeyers with their own sublime old age, of manhood or womanhood,
     Old age, calm, expanded, broad with the haughty breadth of the
     Old age, flowing free with the delicious near-by freedom of death.

     Allons! to that which is endless as it was beginningless,
     To undergo much, tramps of days, rests of nights,
     To merge all in the travel they tend to, and the days and nights
       they tend to,
     Again to merge them in the start of superior journeys,
     To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach it and pass it,
     To conceive no time, however distant, but what you may reach it and
       pass it,
     To look up or down the road but it stretches and waits for you,
       however long but it stretches and waits for you,
     To see no being, not God's or any, but you also go thither,
     To see no possession but may possess it, enjoying all without
       labour or purchase, abstracting the feast yet not abstracting one
       particle of it,
     To take the best of the farmer's farm and the rich man's elegant
       villa, and the chaste blessings of the well-married couple, and
       the fruits of orchards and flowers of gardens,
     To take to your use out of the compact cities as you pass through,
     To carry buildings and streets with you afterward where-ever you
     To gather the minds of men out of their brains as you encounter
       them, to gather the love out of their hearts.
     To take your lovers on the road with you, for all that you leave
       them behind you,
     To know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads for
       travelling souls.

     All parts away for the progress of souls,
     All religion, all solid things, arts, governments--all that was or
       is apparent upon this globe or any globe, falls into niches and
       corners before the procession of souls along the grand roads of
       the universe.

     Of the progress of the souls of men and women along the grand roads
       of the universe, all other progress is the needed emblem and

     Forever alive, forever forward,
     Stately, solemn, sad, withdrawn, baffled, mad, turbulent, feeble,
     Desperate, proud, fond, sick, accepted by men, rejected by men,
     They go! they go! I know that they go, but I know not where they
     But I know that they go toward the best--toward something great.

     Whoever you are, come forth! or man or woman come forth!
     You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house, though
       you built it, or though it has been built for you.

     Out of the dark confinement! out from behind the screen!
     It is useless to protest, I know all and expose it.

     Behold through you as bad as the rest,
     Through the laughter, dancing, dining, supping of people,
     Inside of dresses and ornaments, inside of those wash'd and trimm'd
     Behold a secret silent loathing and despair.

     No husband, no wife, no friend, trusted to hear the confession,
     Another self, a duplicate of every one, skulking and hiding it
     Formless and wordless through the streets of the cities, polite and
       bland in the parlours,
     In the cars of railroads, in steamboats, in the public assembly,
     Home to the houses of men and women, at the table, in the bed-room,
     Smartly attired, countenance smiling, form upright, death under the
       breast-bones, hell under the skull-bones,
     Under the broadcloth and gloves, under the ribbons and artificial
     Keeping fair with the customs, speaking not a syllable of itself.
     Speaking of anything else, but never of itself.

     Allons! through struggles and wars!
     The goal that was named cannot be countermanded.

     Have the past struggles succeeded?
     What has succeeded? yourself? your nation? Nature?
     Now understand me well--it is provided in the essence of things
       that from any fruition of success, no matter what, shall come
       forth something to make a greater struggle necessary.

     My call is the call of the battle, I nourish active rebellion,
     He going with me must go well arm'd,
     He going with me goes often with spare diet, poverty, angry
       enemies, desertions.

     Allons! the road is before us!
     It is safe--I have tried it--my own feet have tried it well--be
       not detain'd!

     Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the
       shelf unopen'd!
     Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain
     Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
     Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the
       court, and the judge expound the law.

     Camerado, I will give you my hand!
     I give you my love more precious than money,
     I give you myself before preaching or law;
     Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
     Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

     _Walt Whitman._

Walking Tours

It must not be imagined that a walking tour, as some would have us
fancy, is merely a better or worse way of seeing the country. There
are many ways of seeing landscape quite as good; and none more vivid,
in spite of canting dilettantes, than from a railway train. But
landscape on a walking tour is quite accessory. He who is indeed of the
brotherhood does not voyage in quest of the picturesque, but of certain
jolly humours--of the hope and spirit with which the march begins at
morning, and the peace and spiritual repletion of the evening's rest.
He cannot tell whether he puts his knapsack on, or takes it off, with
more delight. The excitement of the departure puts him in key for that
of the arrival. Whatever he does is not only a reward in itself, but
will be further rewarded in the sequel; and so pleasure leads on to
pleasure in an endless chain. It is this that so few can understand;
they will either be always lounging or always at five miles an hour;
they do not play off the one against the other, prepare all day for the
evening, and all evening for the next day. And, above all, it is here
that your overwalker fails of comprehension. His heart rises against
those who drink their curaçoa in liqueur glasses, when he himself can
swill it in a brown john. He will not believe that the flavour is more
delicate in the smaller dose. He will not believe that to walk this
unconscionable distance is merely to stupefy and brutalise himself,
and come to his inn, at night, with a sort of frost on his five wits,
and a starless night of darkness in his spirit. Not for him the mild
luminous evening of the temperate walker! He has nothing left of man
but a physical need for bedtime and a double nightcap; and even his
pipe, if he be a smoker, will be savourless and disenchanted. It is
the fate of such an one to take twice as much trouble as is needed to
obtain happiness, and miss the happiness in the end; he is the man of
the proverb, in short, who goes further and fares worse.

Now, to be properly enjoyed, a walking tour should be gone upon alone.
If you go in a company, or even in pairs, it is no longer a walking
tour in anything but name; it is something else and more in the nature
of a picnic. A walking tour should be gone upon alone, because freedom
is of the essence; because you should be able to stop and go on, and
follow this way or that, as the freak takes you; and because you must
have your own pace, and neither trot alongside a champion walker, nor
mince in time with a girl. And then you must be open to all impressions
and let your thoughts take colour from what you see. You should be as a
pipe for any wind to play upon. "I cannot see the wit," says Hazlitt,
"of walking and talking at the same time. When I am in the country,
I wish to vegetate like the country," which is the gist of all that
can be said upon the matter. There should be no cackle of voices at
your elbow, to jar on the meditative silence of the morning. And so
long as a man is reasoning he cannot surrender himself to that fine
intoxication that comes of much motion in the open air, that begins in
a sort of dazzle and sluggishness of the brain, and ends in a peace
that passes comprehension.

During the first day or so of any tour there are moments of bitterness,
when the traveller feels more than coldly towards his knapsack, when he
is half in a mind to throw it bodily over the hedge and, like Christian
on a similar occasion, "give three leaps and go on singing." And yet
it soon acquires a property of easiness. It becomes magnetic; the
spirit of the journey enters into it. And no sooner have you passed
the straps over your shoulder than the lees of sleep are cleared from
you, you pull yourself together with a shake, and fall at once into
your stride. And surely, of all possible moods, this, in which a man
takes the road, is the best. Of course, if he _will_ keep thinking of
his anxieties, if he _will_ open the merchant Abudah's chest and walk
arm in arm with the hag--why, wherever he is, and whether he walk fast
or slow, the chances are that he will not be happy. And so much the
more shame to himself! There are perhaps thirty men setting forth at
that same hour, and I would lay a large wager there is not another dull
face among the thirty. It would be a fine thing to follow, in a coat of
darkness, one after another of these wayfarers, some summer morning,
for the first few miles upon the road. This one, who walks fast, with
a keen look in his eyes, is all concentrated in his own mind; he is up
at his loom, weaving and weaving, to set the landscape to words. This
one peers about, as he goes, among the grasses; he waits by the canal
to watch the dragon-flies; he leans on the gate of the pasture, and
cannot look enough upon the complacent kine. And here comes another
talking, laughing, and gesticulating to himself. His face changes from
time to time, as indignation flashes from his eyes or anger clouds his
forehead. He is composing articles, delivering orations, and conducting
the most impassioned interviews, by the way. A little farther on, and
it is as like as not he will begin to sing. And well for him, supposing
him to be no great master in that art, if he stumble across no stolid
peasant at a corner; for on such an occasion, I scarcely know which
is the more troubled, or whether it is worse to suffer the confusion
of your troubadour or the unfeigned alarm of your clown. A sedentary
population, accustomed, besides, to the strange mechanical bearing of
the common tramp, can in no wise explain to itself the gaiety of these
passers-by. I knew one man who was arrested as a runaway lunatic,
because, although a full-grown person with a red beard, he skipped as
he went like a child. And you would be astonished if I were to tell you
all the grave and learned heads who have confessed to me that, when on
walking tours, they sang--and sang very ill--and had a pair of red ears
when, as described above, the inauspicious peasant plumped into their
arms from round a corner. And here, lest you think I am exaggerating,
is Hazlitt's own confession, from his essay "On going a Journey," which
is so good that there should be a tax levied on all who have not read

"Give me the clear blue sky over my head," says he, "and the green turf
beneath my feet, a winding road before me, and a three hours' march to
dinner--and then to thinking! It is hard if I cannot start some game on
these lone heaths. I laugh, I run, I leap, I sing for joy."

Bravo! After that adventure of my friend with the policeman, you would
not have cared, would you, to publish that in the first person? But
we have no bravery nowadays, and, even in books, must all pretend to
be as dull and foolish as our neighbours. It was not so with Hazlitt.
And notice how learned he is (as, indeed, throughout the essay) in the
theory of walking tours. He is none of your athletic men in purple
stockings, who walk their fifty miles a day: three hours' march is his
ideal. And then he must have a winding road, the epicure!

Yet there is one thing I object to in these words of his, one thing
in the great master's practice that seems to me not wholly wise.
I do not approve of that leaping and running. Both of these hurry
the respiration; they both shake up the brain out of its glorious
open-air confusion; and they both break the pace. Uneven walking is
not so agreeable to the body, and it distracts and irritates the mind.
Whereas, when once you have fallen into an equable stride, it requires
no conscious thought from you to keep it up, and yet it prevents you
from thinking earnestly of anything else. Like knitting, like the work
of a copying clerk, it gradually neutralises and sets to sleep the
serious activity of the mind. We can think of this or that, lightly and
laughingly, as a child thinks, or as we think in a morning doze; we
can make puns or puzzle out acrostics, and trifle in a thousand ways
with words or rhymes; but when it comes to honest work, when we come to
gather ourselves together for an effort, we may sound the trumpet as
loud and long as we please; the great barons of the mind will not rally
to the standard, but sit, each one, at home, warming his hands over his
own fire and brooding on his own private thought!

In the course of a day's walk, you see, there is much variance in
the mood. From the exhilaration of the start, to the happy phlegm of
the arrival, the change is certainly great. As the day goes on, the
traveller moves from the one extreme towards the other. He becomes more
and more incorporated with the material landscape, and the open-air
drunkenness grows upon him with great strides, until he posts along
the road, and sees everything about him, as in a cheerful dream. The
first is certainly brighter, but the second stage is the more peaceful.
A man does not make so many articles towards the end, nor does he
laugh aloud; but the purely animal pleasures, the sense of physical
well-being, the delight of every inhalation, of every time the muscles
tighten down the thigh, console him for the absence of the others, and
bring him to his destination still content.

Nor must I forget to say a word on bivouacs. You come to a milestone on
a hill, or some place where deep ways meet under trees; and off goes
the knapsack, and down you sit to smoke a pipe in the shade. You sink
into yourself, and the birds come round and look at you, and your smoke
dissipates upon the afternoon under the blue dome of heaven; and the
sun lies warm upon your feet, and the cool air visits your neck and
turns aside your open shirt. If you are not happy, you must have an
evil conscience. You may dally as long as you like by the roadside. It
is almost as if the millennium were arrived, when we shall throw our
clocks and watches over the housetop, and remember time and seasons no
more. Not to keep hours for a lifetime is, I was going to say, to live
for ever. You have no idea, unless you have tried it, how endlessly
long is a summer's day, that you measure out only by hunger, and bring
to an end only when you are drowsy. I know a village where there are
hardly any clocks, where no one knows more of the days of the week
than by a sort of instinct for the _fête_ on Sundays, and where only
one person can tell you the day of the month, and she is generally
wrong; and if people were aware how slow Time journeyed in that
village, and what armfuls of spare hours he gives, over and above the
bargain, to its wise inhabitants, I believe there would be a stampede
out of London, Liverpool, Paris, and a variety of large towns, where
the clocks lose their heads, and shake the hours out each one faster
than the other, as though they were all in a wager. And all these
foolish pilgrims would each bring his own misery along with him, in a
watch-pocket! It is to be noticed, there were no clocks and watches in
the much-vaunted days before the flood. It follows, of course, there
were no appointments, and punctuality was not yet thought upon. "Though
ye take from a covetous man all his treasure," says Milton, "he has
yet one jewel left; ye cannot deprive him of his covetousness." And
so I would say of a modern man of business, you may do what you will
for him, put him in Eden, give him the elixir of life--he has still a
flaw at heart, he still has his business habits. Now, there is no time
when business habits are more mitigated than on a walking tour. And so
during these halts, as I say, you will feel almost free.

But it is at night, and after dinner, that the best hour comes. There
are no such pipes to be smoked as those that follow a good day's
march; the flavour of the tobacco is a thing to be remembered, it is
so dry and aromatic, so full and so fine. If you wind up the evening
with grog, you will own there was never such grog; at every sip a
jocund tranquillity spreads about your limbs, and sits easily in your
heart. If you read a book--and you will never do so save by fits and
starts--you find the language strangely racy and harmonious; words
take a new meaning; single sentences possess the ear for half an hour
together; and the writer endears himself to you, at every page, by the
nicest coincidence of sentiment. It seems as if it were a book you had
written yourself in a dream. To all we have read on such occasions we
look back with special favour. "It was on the 10th of April 1798," says
Hazlitt, with amorous precision, "that I sat down to a volume of the
new _Heloïse_, at the Inn at Llangollen, over a bottle of sherry and a
cold chicken." I should wish to quote more, for though we are mighty
fine fellows nowadays, we cannot write like Hazlitt. And, talking of
that, a volume of Hazlitt's essays would be a capital pocket-book on
such a journey; so would a volume of Heine's songs; and for _Tristram
Shandy_ I can pledge a fair experience.

If the evening be fine and warm, there is nothing better in life than
to lounge before the inn door in the sunset, or lean over the parapet
of the bridge, to watch the weeds and the quick fishes. It is then,
if ever, that you taste joviality to the full significance of that
audacious word. Your muscles are so agreeably slack, you feel so clean
and so strong and so idle, that whether you move or sit still, whatever
you do is done with pride and a kingly sort of pleasure. You fall in
talk with any one, wise or foolish, drunk or sober. And it seems as if
a hot walk purged you, more than of anything else, of all narrowness
and pride, and left curiosity to play its part freely, as in a child
or a man of science. You lay aside all your own hobbies, to watch
provincial humours develop themselves before you, now as a laughable
farce, and now grave and beautiful like an old tale.

Or perhaps you are left to your own company for the night, and surly
weather imprisons you by the fire. You may remember how Burns,
numbering past pleasures, dwells upon the hours when he has been
"happy thinking." It is a phrase that may well perplex a poor modern
girt about on every side by clocks and chimes, and haunted, even at
night, by flaming dial-plates. For we are all so busy, and have so
many far-off projects to realise, and castles in the fire to turn
into solid, habitable mansions on a gravel soil, that we can find
no time for pleasure trips into the Land of Thought and among the
Hills of Vanity. Changed times, indeed, when we must sit all night,
beside the fire, with folded hands; and a changed world for most of
us, when we find we can pass the hours without discontent, and be
happy thinking. We are in such haste to be doing, to be writing, to
be gathering gear, to make our voice audible a moment in the derisive
silence of eternity, that we forget that one thing, of which these
are but the parts--namely, to live. We fall in love, we drink hard,
we run to and fro upon the earth like frightened sheep. And now
you are to ask yourself if, when all is done, you would not have
been better to sit by the fire at home, and be happy thinking. To
sit still and contemplate,--to remember the faces of women without
desire, to be pleased by the great deeds of men without envy, to be
everything and everywhere in sympathy, and yet content to remain
where and what you are--is not this to know both wisdom and virtue,
and to dwell with happiness? After all, it is not they who carry
flags, but they who look upon it from a private chamber, who have the
fun of the procession. And once you are at that, you are in the very
humour of all social heresy. It is no time for shuffling, or for big
empty words. If you ask yourself what you mean by fame, riches, or
learning, the answer is far to seek; and you go back into that kingdom
of light imaginations, which seem so vain in the eyes of Philistines
perspiring after wealth, and so momentous to those who are stricken
with the disproportions of the world, and, in the face of the gigantic
stars, cannot stop to split differences between two degrees of the
infinitesimally small, such as a tobacco pipe or the Roman Empire, a
million of money or a fiddlestick's end.

You lean from the window, your last pipe reeking whitely into the
darkness, your body full of delicious pains, your mind enthroned
in the seventh circle of content; when suddenly the mood changes,
the weathercock goes about, and you ask yourself one question more:
whether, for the interval, you have been the wisest philosopher or the
most egregious of donkeys? Human experience is not yet able to reply;
but at least you have had a fine moment, and looked down upon all the
kingdoms of the earth. And whether it was wise or foolish, to-morrow's
travel will carry you, body and mind, into some different parish of the

_Robert Louis Stevenson._

Sylvanus Urban discovers a Good Brew

It must be nearly thirty years ago, long before the days of bicycles
and motors, since Sylvanus Urban, then but a boy, passed over it. He
had started from Chepstow on a solitary walking tour, and was soon
caught in a rattling thunderstorm on the Wyndcliff. Tintern Abbey and
Raglan Castle are fresh in his memory to-day. A mile or two out of
Monmouth he came upon some excellent nutty-hearted ale, that George
Borrow would have immortalised. As he pursued his way to Raglan
Castle he pondered on the ale--"this way and that dividing the swift
mind"--until at length, in despair of meeting an equal brew, he turned
back again and had another tankard. Heavens, what days were those! In
his pack he carried the _Essays of Elia_ and read them in an old inn at
Llandovery, where the gracious hostess lighted in his honour tall wax
candles fit to stand before an altar. After leaving Llandovery, he lost
his way among the Caermarthenshire hills, and was in very poor plight
with hunger and fatigue when he reached the white-washed walls of
Tregaron. At Harlech he rested for a couple of days, and then covered
the way to Beddgelert--twenty miles, if he remembers rightly--at a
spanking pace; proceeding in the late afternoon to climb Snowdon, and
arriving at Llanberis an hour or so before midnight. Back to London,
every inch of the way, walked the young Sylvanus. He indulges the hope
that he may yet shoulder his pack again.

_Gentleman's Magazine._


Now that everybody is out of town, and every place in the guide-books
is as well known as Princes Street or Pall-Mall, it is something to
discover a hill everybody has not been to the top of, and which is not
in _Black_. Such a hill is _Minchmoor_, nearly three times as high as
Arthur's Seat, and lying between Tweed and Yarrow.

The best way to ascend it is from Traquair. You go up the wild old
Selkirk road, which passes almost right over the summit, and by which
Montrose and his cavaliers fled from Philiphaugh, where Sir Walter's
mother remembered crossing, when a girl, in a coach-and-six, on her
way to a ball at Peebles, several footmen marching on either side of
the carriage to prop it up or drag it out of the moss _haggs_; and
where, to our amazement, we learned that the Duchess of Buccleuch had
lately driven her ponies. Before this we had passed the grey, old-world
entrance to Traquair House, and looked down its grassy and untrod
avenue to the pallid, forlorn mansion, stricken all o'er with eld, and
noticed the wrought-iron gate embedded in a foot deep and more of
soil, never having opened since the '45. There are the huge Bradwardine
bears on each side--most grotesque supporters--with a superfluity of
ferocity and canine teeth. The whole place, like the family whose it
has been, seems dying out--everything subdued to settled desolation.
The old race, the old religion, the gaunt old house, with its small,
deep, comfortless windows, the decaying trees, the stillness about the
doors, the grass overrunning everything, nature reinstating herself in
her quiet way--all this makes the place look as strange and pitiful
among its fellows in the vale as would the Earl who built it three
hundred years ago if we met him tottering along our way in the faded
dress of his youth; but it looks the Earl's house still, and has a
dignity of its own.

We soon found the Minchmoor road, and took at once to the hill, the
ascent being, as often is with other ascents in this world, steepest at
first. Nothing could be more beautiful than the view as we ascended,
and got a look of the "eye-sweet" Tweed hills, and their "silver
stream." It was one of the five or six good days of this summer--in
early morning, "soft" and doubtful; but the mists drawing up, and now
the noble, tawny hills were dappled with gleams and shadows--

     "Sunbeams upon distant hills gliding apace"--

the best sort of day for mountain scenery--that ripple of light and
shadow brings out the forms and the depths of the hills far better than
a cloudless sky; and the horizon is generally wider.

Before us and far away was the round flat head of Minchmoor, with a
dark, rich bloom on it from the thick, short heather--the hills around
being green. Near the top, on the Tweed side, its waters trotting away
cheerily to the glen at Bold, is the famous _Cheese Well_--always full,
never overflowing. Here every traveler--Duchess, shepherd, or houseless
_mugger_--stops, rests, and is thankful; doubtless so did Montrose,
poor fellow, and his young nobles and their jaded steeds, on their
scurry from Lesly and his Dragoons. It is called the Cheese Well from
those who rest there dropping in bits of their provisions, as votive
offerings to the fairies whose especial haunt this mountain was. After
our rest and drink, we left the road and made for the top. When there
we were well rewarded. The great round-backed, kindly, solemn hills of
Tweed, Yarrow, and Ettrick lay all about like sleeping mastiffs--too
plain to be grand, too ample and beautiful to be commonplace.

There, to the north-east, is the place--_Williamhope_ ridge--where Sir
Walter Scott bade farewell to his heroic friend Mungo Park. They had
come up from _Ashestiel_, where Scott then lived, and where _Marmion_
was written and its delightful epistles inspired--where he passed the
happiest part of his life--leaving it, as Hogg said, "for gude an' a'";
for his fatal "dreams about his cottage" were now begun. He was to have
"a hundred acres, two spare bed-rooms, with dressing rooms, each of
which will on a pinch have a couch-bed." We all know what the dream,
and the cottage, and the hundred acres came to--the ugly Abbotsford;
the over-burdened, shattered brain driven wild, and the end, death, and
madness. Well, it was on the ridge that the two friends--each romantic,
but in such different ways--parted never to meet again. There is the
ditch Park's horse stumbled over and all but fell. "I am afraid, Mungo,
that's a bad omen," said the Sheriff; to which he answered, with a
bright smile on his handsome, fearless face--"_Freits_ (omens) follow
those who look to them." With this expression, he struck the spurs into
his horse, and Scott never saw him again. He had not long been married
to a lovely and much-loved woman, and had been speaking to Scott about
his new African scheme, and how he meant to tell his family he had some
business in Edinburgh--send them his blessing, and be off--alas! never
to return! Scott used to say, when speaking of this parting, "I stood
and looked back, but he did not." A more memorable place for two such
men to part in would not easily be found.

Where we are standing is the spot Scott speaks of when writing to
Joanna Baillie about her new tragedies--"Were it possible for me to
hasten the treat I expect in such a composition with you, I would
promise to read the volume _at the silence of noonday upon the top of
Minchmoor_. The hour is allowed, by those skilful in demonology, _to be
as full of witching_ as midnight itself; and I assure you I have felt
really oppressed with a sort of fearful loneliness when looking around
the naked towering ridges of desolate barrenness, which is all the eye
takes in from the top of such a mountain, the patches of cultivation
being hidden in the little glens, or only appearing to make one feel
how feeble and ineffectual man has been to contend with the genius of
the soil. It is in such a scene that the unknown and gifted author of
_Albania_ places the superstition which consists in hearing the noise
of a chase, the baying of the hounds, the throttling sobs of the deer,
the wild hollos of the huntsmen, and the 'hoof thick beating on the
hollow hill.' I have often repeated his verses with some sensations
of awe, in this place." The lines--and they are noble, and must have
sounded wonderful with his voice and look--are as follows. Can no one
tell us anything more of their author?--

     "There oft is heard, at midnight, or at noon,
     Beginning faint, but rising still more loud,
     And nearer, voice of hunters, and of hounds;
     And horns, hoarse-winded, blowing far and keen!
     Forthwith the hubbub multiplies; the gale
     Labours with wilder shrieks, and rifer din
     Of hot pursuit; the broken cry of deer
     Mangled by throttling dogs; the shouts of men,
     And hoofs thick beating on the hollow hill.
     Sudden the grazing heifer in the vale
     Starts at the noise, and both the herdman's ears
     Tingle with inward dread--aghast he eyes
     The mountain's height, and all the ridges round,
     Yet not one trace of living wight discerns,
     Nor knows, o'erawed and trembling as he stands,
     To what or whom he owes his idle fear--
     To ghost, to witch, to fairy, or to fiend;
     But wonders, and no end of wondering finds."

We listened for the hunt, but could only hear the wind sobbing from the
blind "_Hopes_."[3]

The view from the top reaches from the huge _Harestane
Broadlaw_--nearly as high as Ben Lomond--whose top is as flat as a
table, and would make a race-course of two miles, and where the clouds
are still brooding, to the _Cheviot_; and from the _Maiden Paps_ in
Liddesdale, and that wild huddle of hills at _Moss Paul_, to _Dunse
Law_, and the weird _Lammermoors_. There is _Ruberslaw_, always surly
and dark. The _Dunion_, beyond which lies Jedburgh. There are the
_Eildons_, with their triple heights; and you can get a glimpse of the
upper woods of Abbotsford, and the top of the hill above Cauldshiels
Loch, that very spot where the "wondrous potentate,"--when suffering
from languor and pain, and beginning to break down under his prodigious
fertility,--composed those touching lines:--

     "The sun upon the Weirdlaw Hill
       In Ettrick's vale is sinking sweet;
     The westland wind is hushed and still;
       The lake lies sleeping at my feet.
     Yet not the landscape to mine eye
       Bears those bright hues that once it bore,
     Though evening, with her richest dye,
       Flames o'er the hills of Ettrick's shore.

     With listless look along the plain
       I see Tweed's silver current glide,
     And coldly mark the holy fane
       Of Melrose rise in ruined pride.
     The quiet lake, and balmy air,
       The hill, the stream, the tower, the tree,
     Are they still such as once they were,
       Or is the dreary change in me?

     Alas! the warped and broken board,
       How can it bear the painter's dye!
     The harp of strained and tuneless chord,
       How to the minstrel's skill reply!
     To aching eyes each landscape lowers,
       To feverish pulse each gale blows chill;
     And Araby or Eden's bowers
       Were barren as this moorland hill."

There, too, is _Minto Hill_, as modest and shapely and smooth as
Clytie's shoulders, and _Earlston Black Hill_, with Cowdenknowes at its
foot; and there, standing stark and upright as a warder, is the stout
old _Smailholme Tower_, seen and seeing all around. It is quite curious
how unmistakable and important it looks at what must be twenty and more
miles. It is now ninety years since that "lonely infant," who has sung
its awful joys, was found in a thunderstorm, as we all know, lying on
the soft grass at the foot of the grey old Strength, clapping his hands
at each flash, and shouting, "Bonny! bonny!"

We now descended into Yarrow, and forgathered with a shepherd who was
taking his lambs over to the great Melrose fair. He was a fine specimen
of a border herd--young, tall, sagacious, self-contained, and free in
speech and air. We got his heart by praising his dog _Jed_, a very
fine collie, black and comely, gentle and keen--"Ay, she's a fell yin;
she can do a' but speak." On asking him if the sheep dogs needed much
teaching--"Whyles ay and whyles no; her kind (Jed's) needs nane. She
sooks't in wi' her mither's milk." On asking him if the dogs were ever
sold, he said--"Never, but at an orra time. Naebody wad sell a gude
dowg, and naebody wad buy an ill ane." He told us with great feeling,
of the death of one of his best dogs by poison. It was plainly still
a grief to him. "What was he poisoned with?" "Strychnia," he said, as
decidedly as might Dr Christison. "How do you know?" "I opened him,
puir fallow, and got him analeezed!"

Now we are on Birkindale Brae, and are looking down on the same scene
as did

     "James Boyd (the Earle of Arran, his brother was he),"

when he crossed Minchmoor on his way to deliver James the Fifth's
message to

               "Yon outlaw Murray,
       Surely whaur bauldly bideth he."

     "Down Birkindale Brae when that he cam
     He saw the feir Foreste wi' his ee."

How James Boyd fared, and what the outlaw said, and what James and his
nobles said and did, and how the outlaw at last made peace with his
King, and rose up "Sheriffe of Ettricke Foreste," and how the bold
ruffian boasted,

     "Fair Philiphaugh is mine by right,
       And Lewinshope still mine shall be;
     Newark, Foulshiels, and Tinnies baith
       My bow and arrow purchased me.

     And I have native steads to me
       The Newark Lee o' Hangingshaw.
     I have many steads in the Forest schaw,
       But them by name I dinna knaw."

And how King James snubbed

       "The kene Laird of Buckscleuth,
     A stalwart man and stern was he."

When the Laird hinted that,

     "For a king to gang an outlaw till
       Is beneath his state and dignitie.
     The man that wins yon forest intill
       He lives by reif and felony."

     "Then out and spak the nobil King,
       And round him cast a wilie ee.

     'Now haud thy tongue, Sir Walter Scott,
       Nor speak o' reif or felonie--
     _For, had every honest man his awin kye,_
       _A richt puir clan thy name wud be_!'"

(by-the-bye, why did Professor Aytoun leave out this excellent hit in
his edition?)--all this and much more may you see if you take up _The
Border Minstrelsy_, and read "The Song of the Outlaw Murray," with the
incomparable notes of Scott. But we are now well down the hill. There
to the left, in the hollow, is _Permanscore_, where the King and the
outlaw met:--

     "Bid him mete me at Permanscore,
       And bring four in his companie;
     Five Erles sall cum wi' mysel',
       Gude reason I sud honoured be."

And there goes our Shepherd with his long swinging stride. As different
from his dark, wily companion, the Badenoch drover, as was Harry
Wakefield from Robin Oig; or as the big, sunny Cheviot is from the
lowering Ruberslaw; and there is _Jed_ trotting meekly behind him--may
she escape strychnia, and, dying at the fireside among the children, be
laid like

     "Paddy Tims--whose soul at aise is--
       With the point of his nose
       And the tips of his toes
     Turn'd up to the roots of the daisies"--

_unanaleezed_, save by the slow cunning of the grave. And may her
master get the top price for his lambs!

Do you see to the left that little plantation on the brow of Foulshiels
Hill, with the sunlight lying on its upper corner? If you were there
you might find among the brackens and foxglove a little headstone with
"I. T." rudely carved on it. That is _Tibbie Tamson's grave_, known and
feared all the country round.

This poor outcast was a Selkirk woman, who, under the stress of
spiritual despair--that sense of perdition, which, as in Cowper's case,
often haunts and overmasters the deepest and gentlest natures, making
them think themselves

     "Damn'd below Judas, more abhorred than he was,"--

committed suicide; and being, with the gloomy, cruel superstition of
the time, looked on by her neighbours as accursed of God, she was
hurried into a rough white deal coffin, and carted out of the town, the
people stoning it all the way till it crossed the Ettrick. Here, on
this wild hillside, it found its rest, being buried where three lairds'
lands meet. May we trust that the light of God's reconciled countenance
has for all these long years been resting on that once forlorn soul, as
His blessed sunshine now lies on her moorland grave! For "the mountains
shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not
depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed,
saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee."

Now, we see down into the Yarrow--there is the famous stream twinkling
in the sun. What stream and valley was ever so be-sung! You wonder at
first why this has been, but the longer you look the less you wonder.
There is a charm about it--it is not easy to say what. The huge sunny
hills in which it is embosomed give it a look at once gentle and
serious. They are great, and their gentleness makes them greater.
Wordsworth has the right words, "pastoral melancholy"; and besides, the
region is "not uninformed with phantasy and looks that threaten the
profane"--the Flowers of Yarrow, the Douglas Tragedy, the Dowie Dens,
Wordsworth's Yarrow Unvisited, Visited, and Re-Visited, and, above all,
the glamour of Sir Walter, and Park's fatal and heroic story. Where can
you find eight more exquisite lines anywhere than Logan's, which we all
know by heart:--

     "His mother from the window looked,
       With all the longing of a mother;
     His little sister, weeping, walked
       The greenwood path to meet her brother.
     They sought him east, they sought him west,
       They sought him all the forest thorough--
     They only saw the cloud of night,
       They only heard the roar of Yarrow."

And there is _Newark Tower_ among the rich woods; and _Harehead_,
that cosiest, loveliest, and hospitablest of nests. Methinks I hear
certain young voices among the hazels; out they come on the little
haugh by the side of the deep, swirling stream, _fabulosus_ as was
ever Hydaspes. There they go "running races in their mirth," and is
not that--_an me ludit amabilis insania?_--the voice of _ma pauvre
petite--animosa infans_--the wilful, rich-eyed, delicious Eppie?

     "Oh blessed vision, happy child,
     Thou art so exquisitely wild!"

And there is _Black Andro and Glowr owr'em_ and _Foulshiels_, where
Park was born and bred; and there is the deep pool in the Yarrow where
Scott found him plunging one stone after another into the water, and
watching anxiously the bubbles as they rose to the surface. "This,"
said Scott to him, "appears but an idle amusement for one who has seen
so much adventure." "Not so idle, perhaps, as you suppose," answered
Mungo, "this was the way I used to ascertain the depth of a river in
Africa." He was then meditating his second journey, but had said so to
no one.

We go down by _Broadmeadows_, now held by that Yair "Hoppringle"--who
so well governed Scinde--and into the grounds of Bowhill, and passing
_Philiphaugh_, see where stout David Lesly crossed in the mist at
daybreak with his heavy dragoons, many of them old soldiers of
Gustavus, and routed the gallant Graeme; and there is _Slainmens Lee_,
where the royalists lie; and there is _Carterhaugh_, the scene of the
strange wild story of _Tamlane_ and Lady Janet, when

     "She prinked hersell and prinned hersell
       By the ae light of the moon,
     And she's awa' to Carterhaugh
       To speak wi' young Tamlane."

Noel Paton might paint that night, when

     "'Twixt the hours of twelve and yin
       A north wind _tore the bent_";

when "fair Janet" in her green mantle

     "---- heard strange elritch sounds
     Upon the wind that went."

And straightway

     "About the dead hour o' the night
       She heard the bridles ring;
     Their oaten pipes blew wondrous shrill,
       The hemlock small blew clear;
     And louder notes from hemlock large
       And bog reed, struck the ear,"

and then the fairy cavalcade swept past, while Janet, filled with love
and fear, looked out for the milk-white steed, and "gruppit it fast,"
and "pu'd the rider doon," the young Tamlane, whom, after dipping "in
a stand of milk and then in a stand of water,"

     "She wrappit ticht in her green mantle,
       And sae her true love won!"

This ended our walk. We found the carriage at the Philiphaugh
home-farm, and we drove home by _Yair_ and _Fernilee_, _Ashestiel_ and
_Elibank_, and passed the bears as ferocious as ever, "the orange sky
of evening" glowing through their wild tusks, the old house looking
even older in the fading light. And is not this a walk worth making?
One of our number had been at the Land's End and Johnnie Groat's, and
now on Minchmoor; and we wondered how many other men had been at all
the three, and how many had enjoyed Minchmoor more than he.

_Dr John Brown._


[3] The native word for hollows in the hills: thus, Dryhope, Gameshope,
Chapelhope, &c.

In Praise of Walking

As a man grows old, he is told by some moralists that he may find
consolation for increasing infirmities in looking back upon a
well-spent life. No doubt such a retrospect must be very agreeable,
but the question must occur to many of us whether our life offers the
necessary materials for self-complacency. What part of it, if any,
has been well spent? To that I find it convenient to reply, for my
own purposes, any part in which I thoroughly enjoyed myself. If it be
proposed to add "innocently," I will not quarrel with the amendment.
Perhaps, indeed, I may have a momentary regret for some pleasures which
do not quite deserve that epithet, but the pleasure of which I am about
to speak is obtrusively and pre-eminently innocent. Walking is among
recreations what ploughing and fishing are among industrial labours: it
is primitive and simple; it brings us into contact with mother earth
and unsophisticated nature; it requires no elaborate apparatus and
no extraneous excitement. It is fit even for poets and philosophers,
and he who can thoroughly enjoy it must have at least some capacity
for worshipping the "cherub Contemplation." He must be able to
enjoy his own society without the factitious stimulants of the more
violent physical recreations. I have always been a humble admirer of
athletic excellence. I retain, in spite of much head-shaking from wise
educationalists, my early veneration for the heroes of the river and
the cricket-field. To me they have still the halo which surrounded them
in the days when "muscular Christianity" was first preached and the
whole duty of man said to consist in fearing God and walking a thousand
miles in a thousand hours. I rejoice unselfishly in these later days to
see the stream of bicyclists restoring animation to deserted highroads
or to watch even respected contemporaries renewing their youth in
the absorbing delights of golf. While honouring all genuine delight
in manly exercises, I regret only the occasional admixture of lower
motives which may lead to its degeneration. Now it is one merit of
walking that its real devotees are little exposed to such temptations.
Of course there are such things as professional pedestrians making
"records" and seeking the applause of the mob. When I read of the
immortal Captain Barclay performing his marvellous feats, I admire
respectfully, but I fear that his motives included a greater admixture
of vanity than of the emotions congenial to the higher intellect. The
true walker is one to whom the pursuit is in itself delightful; who is
not indeed priggish enough to be above a certain complacency in the
physical prowess required for his pursuit, but to whom the muscular
effort of the legs is subsidiary to the "cerebration" stimulated by
the effort; to the quiet musings and imaginings which arise most
spontaneously as he walks, and generate the intellectual harmony which
is the natural accompaniment to the monotonous tramp of his feet. The
cyclist or the golf-player, I am told, can hold such intercourse with
himself in the intervals of striking the ball or working his machine.
But the true pedestrian loves walking because, so far from distracting
his mind, it is favourable to the equable and abundant flow of tranquil
and half-conscious meditation. Therefore I should be sorry if the
pleasures of cycling or any other recreation tended to put out of
fashion the habit of the good old walking tour.

For my part, when I try to summon up remembrance of "well-spent"
moments, I find myself taking a kind of inverted view of the past;
inverted, that is, so far as the accidental becomes the essential. If
I turn over the intellectual album which memory is always compiling,
I find that the most distinct pictures which it contains are those
of old walks. Other memories of incomparably greater intrinsic value
coalesce into wholes. They are more massive but less distinct.
The memory of a friendship that has brightened one's whole life
survives not as a series of incidents but as a general impression
of the friend's characteristic qualities due to the superposition
of innumerable forgotten pictures. I remember him, not the specific
conversations by which he revealed himself. The memories of walks, on
the other hand, are all localised and dated; they are hitched on to
particular times and places; they spontaneously form a kind of calendar
or connecting thread upon which other memories may be strung. As I
look back, a long series of little vignettes presents itself, each
representing a definite stage of my earthly pilgrimage summed up and
embodied in a walk. Their background of scenery recalls places once
familiar, and the thoughts associated with the places revive thoughts
of the contemporary occupations. The labour of scribbling books happily
leaves no distinct impression, and I would forget that it had ever
been undergone; but the picture of some delightful ramble includes
incidentally a reference to the nightmare of literary toil from which
it relieved me. The author is but the accidental appendage of the
tramp. My days are bound each to each not by "natural piety" (or not,
let me say, by natural piety alone) but by pedestrian enthusiasm. The
memory of school days, if one may trust to the usual reminiscences,
generally clusters round a flogging, or some solemn words from the
spiritual teacher instilling the seed of a guiding principle of life.
I remember a sermon or two rather ruefully; and I confess to memories
of a flogging so unjust that I am even now stung by the thought of it.
But what comes most spontaneously to my mind is the memory of certain
strolls, "out of bounds," when I could forget the Latin grammar, and
enjoy such a sense of the beauties of nature as is embodied for a child
in a pond haunted by water-rats, or a field made romantic by threats
of "mantraps and spring-guns." Then, after a crude fashion, one was
becoming more or less of a reflecting and individual being, not a mere
automaton set in movement by pedagogic machinery.

The day on which I was fully initiated into the mysteries is marked
by a white stone. It was when I put on a knapsack and started from
Heidelberg for a march through the Odenwald. Then I first knew the
delightful sensation of independence and detachment enjoyed during
a walking tour. Free from all bothers of railway time-tables and
extraneous machinery, you trust to your own legs, stop when you please,
diverge into any track that takes your fancy, and drop in upon some
quaint variety of human life at every inn where you put up for the
night. You share for the time the mood in which Borrow settled down
in the dingle after escaping from his bondage in the publishers'
London slums. You have no dignity to support, and the dress-coat of
conventional life has dropped into oblivion, like the bundle from
Christian's shoulders. You are in the world of Lavengro, and would
be prepared to take tea with Miss Isopel Berners or with the Welsh
preacher who thought that he had committed the unpardonable sin.
Borrow, of course, took the life more seriously than the literary
gentleman who is only escaping on ticket-of-leave from the prison-house
of respectability, and is quite unequal to a personal conflict with
"blazing Bosville"--the flaming tinman. He is only dipping in the
element where his model was thoroughly at home. I remember, indeed,
one figure in that first walk which I associate with Benedict Moll,
the strange treasure-seeker whom Borrow encountered in his Spanish
rambles. My acquaintance was a mild German innkeeper, who sat beside me
on a bench while I was trying to assimilate certain pancakes, the only
dinner he could provide, still fearful in memory, but just attackable
after a thirty-miles' tramp. He confided to me that, poor as he was,
he had discovered the secret of perpetual motion. He kept his machine
upstairs, where it discharged the humble duty of supplying the place of
a shoe-black; but he was about to go to London to offer it to a British
capitalist. He looked wistfully at me as possibly a capitalist in (very
deep) disguise, and I thought it wise to evade a full explanation. I
have not been worthy to encounter many of such quaint incidents and
characters as seem to have been normal in Borrow's experience; but the
first walk, commonplace enough, remains distinct in my memory. I kept
no journal, but I could still give the narrative day by day--the sights
which I dutifully admired and the very state of my bootlaces. Walking
tours thus rescue a bit of one's life from oblivion. They play in one's
personal recollections the part of those historical passages in which
Carlyle is an unequalled master; the little islands of light in the
midst of the darkening gloom of the past, on which you distinguish
the actors in some old drama actually alive and moving. The devotee
of other athletic sports remembers special incidents: the occasion on
which he hit a cricket-ball over the pavilion at Lord's, or the crab
which he caught as his boat was shooting Barnes Bridge. But those are
memories of exceptional moments of glory or the reverse, and apt to
be tainted by vanity or the spirit of competition. The walks are the
unobtrusive connecting thread of other memories, and yet each walk
is a little drama in itself, with a definite plot with episodes and
catastrophes, according to the requirements of Aristotle; and it is
naturally interwoven with all the thoughts, the friendships, and the
interests that form the staple of ordinary life.

Walking is the natural recreation for a man who desires not absolutely
to suppress his intellect but to turn it out to play for a season.
All great men of letters have, therefore, been enthusiastic walkers
(exceptions, of course, excepted). Shakespeare, besides being a
sportsman, a lawyer, a divine, and so forth, conscientiously observed
his own maxim, "Jog on, jog on, the footpath way"; though a full proof
of this could only be given in an octavo volume. Anyhow, he divined the
connection between walking and a "merry heart"; that is, of course, a
cheerful acceptance of our position in the universe founded upon the
deepest moral and philosophical principles. His friend, Ben Jonson,
walked from London to Scotland. Another gentleman of the period (I
forget his name) danced from London to Norwich. Tom Coryate hung up
in his parish church the shoes in which he walked from Venice and
then started to walk (with occasional lifts) to India. Contemporary
walkers of more serious character might be quoted, such as the
admirable Barclay, the famous Quaker apologist, from whom the great
Captain Barclay inherited his prowess. Every one, too, must remember
the incident in Walton's _Life of Hooker_. Walking from Oxford to
Exeter, Hooker went to see his godfather, Bishop Jewel, at Salisbury.
The Bishop said that he would lend him "a horse which hath carried
me many a mile, and, I thank God, with much ease," and "presently
delivered into his hands a walking staff with which he professed he
had travelled through many parts of Germany." He added ten groats and
munificently promised ten groats more when Hooker should restore the
"horse." When, in later days, Hooker once rode to London, he expressed
more passion than that mild divine was ever known to show upon any
other occasion against a friend who had dissuaded him from "footing
it." The hack, it seems, "trotted when he did not," and discomposed the
thoughts which had been soothed by the walking staff. His biographer
must be counted, I fear, among those who do not enjoy walking without
the incidental stimulus of sport. Yet the _Compleat Angler_ and his
friends start by a walk of twenty good miles before they take their
"morning draught." Swift, perhaps, was the first person to show a
full appreciation of the moral and physical advantages of walking. He
preached constantly upon this text to Stella, and practised his own
advice. It is true that his notions of a journey were somewhat limited.
Ten miles a day was his regular allowance when he went from London to
Holyhead, but then he spent time in lounging at wayside inns to enjoy
the talk of the tramps and ostlers. The fact, though his biographers
are rather scandalised, shows that he really appreciated one of the
true charms of pedestrian expeditions. Wesley is generally credited
with certain moral reforms, but one secret of his power is not always
noticed. In his early expeditions he went on foot to save horse hire,
and made the great discovery that twenty or thirty miles a day was a
wholesome allowance for a healthy man. The fresh air and exercise put
"spirit into his sermons," which could not be rivalled by the ordinary
parson of the period, who too often passed his leisure lounging by
his fireside. Fielding points the contrast. Trulliber, embodying the
clerical somnolence of the day, never gets beyond his pig-sties, but
the model Parson Adams steps out so vigorously that he distances the
stagecoach, and disappears in the distance rapt in the congenial
pleasures of walking and composing a sermon. Fielding, no doubt, shared
his hero's taste, and that explains the contrast between his vigorous
naturalism and the sentimentalism of Richardson, who was to be seen,
as he tells us, "stealing along from Hammersmith to Kensington with
his eyes on the ground, propping his unsteady limbs with a stick."
Even the ponderous Johnson used to dissipate his early hypochondria by
walking from Lichfield to Birmingham and back (thirty-two miles), and
his later melancholy would have changed to a more cheerful view of life
could he have kept up the practice in his beloved London streets. The
literary movement at the end of the eighteenth century was obviously
due in great part, if not mainly, to the renewed practice of walking.
Wordsworth's poetical autobiography shows how every stage in his early
mental development was connected with some walk in the Lakes. The
sunrise which startled him on a walk after a night spent in dancing
first set him apart as a "dedicated spirit." His walking tour in the
Alps--then a novel performance--roused him to his first considerable
poem. His chief performance is the record of an excursion on foot. He
kept up the practice, and De Quincey calculates somewhere what multiple
of the earth's circumference he had measured on his legs, assuming, it
appears, that he averaged ten miles a day. De Quincey himself, we are
told, slight and fragile as he was, was a good walker, and would run
up a hill "like a squirrel." Opium-eating is not congenial to walking,
yet even Coleridge, after beginning the habit, speaks of walking forty
miles a day in Scotland, and, as we all know, the great manifesto of
the new school of poetry, the Lyrical Ballads, was suggested by the
famous walk with Wordsworth, when the first stanzas of the _Ancient
Mariner_ were composed. A remarkable illustration of the wholesome
influence might be given from the cases of Scott and Byron. Scott, in
spite of his lameness, delighted in walks of twenty and thirty miles
a day, and in climbing crags, trusting to the strength of his arms to
remedy the stumblings of his foot. The early strolls enabled him to
saturate his mind with local traditions, and the passion for walking
under difficulties showed the manly nature which has endeared him to
three generations. Byron's lameness was too severe to admit of walking,
and therefore all the unwholesome humours which would have been walked
off in a good cross-country march accumulated in his brain and caused
the defects, the morbid affectation and perverse misanthropy, which
half ruined the achievement of the most masculine intellect of his

It is needless to accumulate examples of a doctrine which will no
doubt be accepted as soon as it is announced. Walking is the best of
panaceas for the morbid tendencies of authors. It is, I need only
observe, as good for reasoners as for poets. The name of "peripatetic"
suggests the connection. Hobbes walked steadily up and down the hills
in his patron's park when he was in his venerable old age. To the same
practice may be justly ascribed the utilitarian philosophy. Old Jeremy
Bentham kept himself up to his work for eighty years by his regular
"post-jentacular circumgyrations." His chief disciple, James Mill,
walked incessantly and preached as he walked. John Stuart Mill imbibed
at once psychology, political economy, and a love of walks from his
father. Walking was his one recreation; it saved him from becoming
a mere smoke-dried pedant; and though he put forward the pretext of
botanical researches, it helped him to perceive that man is something
besides a mere logic machine. Mill's great rival as a spiritual guide,
Carlyle, was a vigorous walker, and even in his latest years was a
striking figure when performing his regular constitutionals in London.
One of the vivid passages in the _Reminiscences_ describes his walk
with Irving from Glasgow to Drumclog. Here they sat on the "brow
of a peat hag, while far, far away to the westward, over our brown
horizon, towered up white and visible at the many miles of distance a
high irregular pyramid. Ailsa Craig we at once guessed, and thought
of the seas and oceans over yonder." The vision naturally led to a
solemn conversation, which was an event in both lives. Neither Irving
nor Carlyle himself feared any amount of walking in those days, it is
added, and next day Carlyle took his longest walk, fifty-four miles.
Carlyle is unsurpassable in his descriptions of scenery: from the
pictures of mountains in _Sartor Resartus_ to the battle-pieces in
_Frederick_. Ruskin, himself a good walker, is more rhetorical but not
so graphic; and it is self-evident that nothing educates an eye for the
features of a landscape so well as the practice of measuring it by your
own legs.

The great men, it is true, have not always acknowledged their debt to
the genius, whoever he may be, who presides over pedestrian exercise.
Indeed, they have inclined to ignore the true source of their impulse.
Even when they speak of the beauties of nature, they would give us to
understand that they might have been disembodied spirits, taking aerial
flights among mountain solitudes, and independent of the physical
machinery of legs and stomachs. When long ago the Alps cast their
spell upon me, it was woven in a great degree by the eloquence of
_Modern Painters_. I hoped to share Ruskin's ecstasies in a reverent
worship of Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. The influence of any cult,
however, depends upon the character of the worshipper, and I fear
that in this case the charm operated rather perversely. I stimulated
a passion for climbing which absorbed my energies and distracted me
from the prophet's loftier teaching. I might have followed him from
the mountains to picture-galleries, and spent among the stones of
Venice hours which I devoted to attacking hitherto unascended peaks
and so losing my last chance of becoming an art critic. I became a
fair judge of an Alpine guide, but I do not even know how to make a
judicious allusion to Botticelli or Tintoretto. I can't say that I
feel the smallest remorse. I had a good time, and at least escaped one
temptation to talking nonsense. It follows, however, that my passion
for the mountains had something earthly in its composition. It is
associated with memories of eating and drinking. It meant delightful
comradeship with some of the best of friends; but our end, I admit,
was not always of the most exalted or æsthetic strain. A certain
difficulty results. I feel an uncomfortable diffidence. I hold that
Alpine walks are the poetry of the pursuit; I could try to justify the
opinion by relating some of the emotions suggested by the great scenic
effects: the sunrise on the snow fields; the storm-clouds gathering
under the great peaks; the high pasturages knee-deep in flowers; the
torrents plunging through the "cloven ravines," and so forth. But
the thing has been done before, better than I could hope to do it;
and when I look back at those old passages in _Modern Painters_, and
think of the enthusiasm which prompted to exuberant sentences of
three or four hundred words, I am not only abashed by the thought of
their unapproachable eloquence, but feel as though they conveyed a
tacit reproach. You, they seem to say, are, after all, a poor prosaic
creature, affecting a love of sublime scenery as a cloak for more
grovelling motives. I could protest against this judgment, but it is
better at present to omit the topic, even though it would give the
strongest groundwork for my argument.

Perhaps, therefore, it is better to trust the case for walking to
where the external stimulus of splendours and sublimities is not so
overpowering. A philosophic historian divides the world into the
regions where man is stronger than nature and the regions where nature
is stronger than man. The true charm of walking is most unequivocally
shown when it is obviously dependent upon the walker himself. I became
an enthusiast in the Alps, but I have found almost equal pleasure in
walks such as one described by Cowper, where the view from a summit is
bounded, not by Alps or Apennines, but by "a lofty quickset hedge."
Walking gives a charm to the most commonplace British scenery. A love
of walking not only makes any English county tolerable but seems to
make the charm inexhaustible. I know only two or three districts
minutely, but the more familiar I have become with any of them the more
I have wished to return, to invent some new combination of old strolls
or to inspect some hitherto unexplored nook. I love the English Lakes,
and certainly not on account of associations. I cannot "associate."
Much as I respect Wordsworth, I don't care to see the cottage in which
he lived: it only suggests to me that anybody else might have lived
there. There is an intrinsic charm about the Lake Country, and to me at
least a music in the very names of Helvellyn and Skiddaw and Scawfell.
But this may be due to the suggestion that it is a miniature of the
Alps. I appeal, therefore, to the Fen Country, the country of which
Alton Locke's farmer boasted that it had none of your "darned ups and
downs" and "was as flat as his barn-door for forty miles on end." I
used to climb the range of the Gogmagogs, to see the tower of Ely, some
sixteen miles across the dead level, and I boasted that every term I
devised a new route for walking to the cathedral from Cambridge. Many
of these routes led by the little public-house called "Five Miles from
Anywhere": which in my day was the Mecca to which a remarkable club,
called--from the name of the village--the "Upware Republic," made
periodic pilgrimages. What its members specifically did when they got
there beyond consuming beer is unknown to me; but the charm was in the
distance "from anywhere"--a sense of solitude under the great canopy of
the heavens, where, like emblems of infinity,

     "The trenched waters run from sky to sky."

I have always loved walks in the Fens. In a steady march along one of
the great dykes by the monotonous canal with the exuberant vegetation
dozing in its stagnant waters, we were imbibing the spirit of the
scenery. Our talk might be of senior wranglers or the University
crew, but we felt the curious charm of the great flats. The absence,
perhaps, of definite barriers makes you realise that you are on the
surface of a planet rolling through free and boundless space. One
queer figure comes back to me--a kind of scholar-gipsy of the fens.
Certain peculiarities made it undesirable to trust him with cash, and
his family used to support him by periodically paying his score at
riverside publics. They allowed him to print certain poems, moreover,
which he would impart when one met him on the towpath. In my boyhood,
I remember, I used to fancy that the most delightful of all lives must
be that of a bargee--enjoying a perpetual picnic. This gentleman seemed
to have carried out the idea; and in the intervals of lectures, I
could fancy that he had chosen the better part. His poems, alas! have
long vanished from my memory, and I therefore cannot quote what would
doubtless have given the essence of the local sentiment and invested
such names as Wicken Fen or Swaffham Lode with associations equal to
those of Arnold's Hincksey ridge and Fyfield elm.

Another set of walks may, perhaps, appeal to more general sympathy. The
voice of the sea, we know, is as powerful as the voice of the mountain;
and, to my taste, it is difficult to say whether the Land's End is not
in itself a more impressive station than the top of Mont Blanc. The
solitude of the frozen peaks suggests tombstones and death. The sea is
always alive and at work. The hovering gulls and plunging gannets and
the rollicking porpoises are animating symbols of a gallant struggle
with wind and wave. Even the unassociative mind has a vague sense
of the Armada and Hakluyt's heroes in the background. America and
Australia are just over the way. "Is not this a dull place?" asked some
one of an old woman whose cottage was near to the Lizard lighthouse.
"No," she replied, "it is so 'cosmopolitan.'" That was a simple-minded
way of expressing the charm suggested in Milton's wonderful phrase:

     "Where the great Vision of the guarded Mount
     Looks towards Namancos and Bayona's hold."

She could mentally follow the great ships coming and going, and shake
hands with people at the ends of the earth. The very sight of a
fishing-boat, as painters seem to have found out, is a poem in itself.
But is it not all written in _Westward Ho!_ and in the _Prose Idylls_,
in which Kingsley put his most genuine power? Of all walks that I
have made, I can remember none more delightful than those round the
south-western promontory. I have followed the coast at different times
from the mouth of the Bristol Avon by the Land's End to the Isle of
Wight, and I am only puzzled to decide which bay or cape is the most
delightful. I only know that the most delightful was the more enjoyable
when placed in its proper setting by a long walk. When you have made
an early start, followed the coastguard track on the slopes above
the cliffs, struggled through the gold and purple carpeting of gorse
and heather on the moors, dipped down into quaint little coves with
a primitive fishing village, followed the blinding whiteness of the
sands round a lonely bay, and at last emerged upon a headland where
you can settle into a nook of the rocks, look down upon the glorious
blue of the Atlantic waves breaking into foam on the granite, and see
the distant sea-levels glimmering away till they blend imperceptibly
into cloudland; then you can consume your modest sandwiches, light
your pipe, and feel more virtuous and thoroughly at peace with the
universe than it is easy even to conceive yourself elsewhere. I have
fancied myself on such occasions to be a felicitous blend of poet and
saint--which is an agreeable sensation. What I wish to point out,
however, is that the sensation is confined to the walker. I respect the
cyclist, as I have said; but he is enslaved by his machine: he has to
follow the highroad, and can only come upon what points of view open
to the commonplace tourist. He can see nothing of the retired scenery
which may be close to him, and cannot have his mind brought into due
harmony by the solitude and by the long succession of lovely bits of
scenery which stand so coyly aside from public notice.

The cockney cyclist who wisely seeks to escape at intervals from the
region "where houses thick and sewers annoy the air," suffers the
same disadvantages. To me, for many years, it was a necessity of life
to interpolate gulps of fresh air between the periods of inhaling
London fogs. When once beyond the "town" I looked out for notices that
trespassers would be prosecuted. That gave a strong presumption that
the trespass must have some attraction. The cyclist could only reflect
that trespassing for him was not only forbidden but impossible. To me
it was a reminder of the many delicious bits of walking which, even in
the neighbourhood of London, await the man who has no superstitious
reverence for legal rights. It is indeed surprising how many charming
walks can be contrived by a judicious combination of a little
trespassing with the rights of way happily preserved over so many
commons and footpaths. London, it is true, goes on stretching its vast
octopus arms farther into the country. Unlike the devouring dragon of
Wantley, to whom "houses and churches" were like "geese and turkies,"
it spreads houses and churches over the fields of our childhood. And
yet, between the great lines of railway there are still fields not
yet desecrated by advertisements of liver pills. It is a fact that
within twenty miles of London two travellers recently asked their way
at a lonely farmhouse; and that the mistress of the house, seeing that
they were far from an inn, not only gave them a seat and luncheon, but
positively refused to accept payment. That suggested an idyllic state
of society which, it is true, one must not count upon discovering. Yet
hospitality, the virtue of primitive regions, has not quite vanished,
it would appear, even from this over-civilised region. The travellers,
perhaps, had something specially attractive in their manners. In that
or some not distant ramble they made time run back for a couple of
centuries. They visited the quiet grave where Penn lies under the
shadow of the old Friends' meeting-house, and came to the cottage where
the seat on which Milton talked to Ellwood about _Paradise Regained_
seems to be still waiting for his return; and climbed the hill to
the queer monument which records how Captain Cook demonstrated the
goodness of Providence by disproving the existence of a continent in
the South Sea--(the argument is too obvious to require exposition);
and then gazed reverently upon the obelisk, not far off, which marks
the point at which George III. concluded a famous stag hunt. A little
valley in the quiet chalk country of Buckinghamshire leads past these
and other memorials, and the lover of historical associations, with
the help of Thorne's _Environs of London_, may add indefinitely to
the list. I don't object to an association when it presents itself
spontaneously and unobtrusively. It should not be the avowed goal but
the accidental addition to the interest of a walk; and it is then
pleasant to think of one's ancestors as sharers in the pleasures. The
region enclosed within a radius of thirty miles from Charing Cross
has charms enough even for the least historical of minds. You can't
hold a fire in your hand, according to a high authority, by thinking
on the frosty Caucasus; but I can comfort myself now and then, when
the fellow-passengers who tread on my heels in London have put me out
of temper, by thinking of Leith Hill. It only rises to the height of
a thousand feet by help of the "Folly" on the top, but you can see,
says my authority, twelve counties from the tower; and, if certain
legendary ordnance surveyors spoke the truth, distinguish the English
Channel to the south, and Dunstable Hill, far beyond London, to the
north. The Crystal Palace, too, as we are assured, "sparkles like a
diamond." That is gratifying; but to me the panorama suggests a whole
network of paths, which have been the scene of personally conducted
expeditions, in which I displayed the skill on which I most pride
myself--skill, I mean, in devising judicious geographical combinations,
and especially of contriving admirable short cuts. The persistence of
some companions in asserting that my short cuts might be the longest
way round shows that the best of men are not free from jealousy. Mine,
at any rate, led me and my friends through pleasant places innumerable.
My favourite passage in _Pilgrim's Progress_--an allegory which could
have occurred, by the way, to no one who was not both a good man and
a good walker--was always that in which Christian and Hopeful leave
the highroad to cross a stile into "Bypath Meadow." I should certainly
have approved the plan. The path led them, it is true, into the castle
of Giant Despair; but the law of trespass has become milder; and the
incident really added that spice of adventure which is delightful to
the genuine pilgrim. We defied Giant Despair; and if our walks were
not quite so edifying as those of Christian and his friends, they add
a pleasant strand to the thread of memory which joins the past years.
Conversation, we are often told, like letter-writing, is a lost art. We
live too much in crowds. But if ever men can converse pleasantly, it is
when they are invigorated by a good march: when the reserve is lowered
by the long familiarity of a common pursuit, or when, if bored, you can
quietly drop behind, or perhaps increase the pace sufficiently to check
the breath of the persistent argufier.

Nowhere, at least, have I found talk flow so freely and pleasantly as
in a march through pleasant country. And yet there is also a peculiar
charm in the solitary expedition when your interlocutor must be
yourself. That may be enjoyed, perhaps even best enjoyed, in London
streets themselves. I have read somewhere of a distinguished person who
composed his writings during such perambulations, and the statement was
supposed to prove his remarkable power of intellectual concentration.
My own experience would tend to diminish the wonder. I hopelessly
envy men who can think consecutively under conditions distracting to
others--in a crowded meeting or in the midst of their children--for I
am as sensitive as most people to distraction; but if I can think at
all, I am not sure that the roar of the Strand is not a more favourable
environment than the quiet of my own study. The mind--one must only
judge from one's own--seems to me to be a singularly ill-constructed
apparatus. Thoughts are slippery things. It is terribly hard to
keep them in the track presented by logic. They jostle each other,
and suddenly skip aside to make room for irrelevant and accidental
neighbours; till the stream of thought, of which people talk, resembles
rather such a railway journey as one makes in dreams, where at every
few yards you are shunted on to the wrong line. Now, though a London
street is full of distractions, they become so multitudinous that they
neutralise each other. The whirl of conflicting impulses becomes a
continuous current because it is so chaotic and determines a mood of
sentiment if not a particular vein of reflection. Wordsworth describes
the influence upon himself in a curious passage of his _Prelude_.
He wandered through London as a raw country lad, seeing all the
sights from Bartholomew Fair to St Stephen's, and became a unit of
the "monstrous ant-hill in a too busy world." Of course, according
to his custom, he drew a moral, and a most excellent moral, from the
bewildering complexity of his new surroundings. He learnt, it seems, to
recognise the unity of man and to feel that the spirit of nature was
upon him "in London's vast domain" as well as on the mountains. That
comes of being a philosophical poet with a turn for optimism. I will
not try to interpret or to comment, for I am afraid that I have not
shared the emotions which he expresses. A cockney, born and bred, takes
surroundings for granted. The hubbub has ceased to distract him; he is
like the people who were said to become deaf because they always lived
within the roar of a waterfall: he realises the common saying that the
deepest solitude is solitude in a crowd; he derives a certain stimulus
from a vague sympathy with the active life around him, but each
particular stimulus remains, as the phrase goes, "below the threshold
of consciousness." To some such effect, till psychologists will give
me a better theory, I attribute the fact that what I please to call
my "mind" seems to work more continuously and coherently in a street
walk than elsewhere. This, indeed, may sound like a confession of
cynicism. The man who should open his mind to the impressions naturally
suggested by the "monstrous ant-hill" would be in danger of becoming
a philanthropist or a pessimist, of being overpowered by thoughts of
gigantic problems, or of the impotence of the individual to solve them.
Carlyle, if I remember rightly, took Emerson round London in order
to convince his optimistic friend that the devil was still in full
activity. The gates of hell might be found in every street. I remember
how, when coming home from a country walk on a sweltering summer
night, and seeing the squalid population turning out for a gasp of air
in their only playground, the vast labyrinth of hideous lanes, I seemed
to be in Thomson's _City of Dreadful Night_. Even the vanishing of
quaint old nooks is painful when one's attention is aroused. There is
a certain churchyard wall, which I pass sometimes, with an inscription
to commemorate the benefactor who erected it "to keep out the pigs." I
regret the pigs and the village green which they presumably imply. The
heart, it may be urged, must be hardened not to be moved by many such
texts for melancholy reflection. I will not argue the point. None of us
can be always thinking over the riddle of the universe, and I confess
that my mind is generally employed on much humbler topics. I do not
defend my insensibility nor argue that London walks are the best. I
only maintain that even in London, walking has a peculiar fascination.
The top of an omnibus is an excellent place for meditation; but it has
not, for me at least, that peculiar hypnotic influence which seems to
be favourable to thinking, and to pleasant daydreaming when locomotion
is carried on by one's own muscles. The charm, however, is that even a
walk in London often vaguely recalls better places and nobler forms of
the exercise. Wordsworth's Susan hears a thrush at the corner of Wood
Street, and straightway sees

     "A mountain ascending, a vision of trees,
     Bright volumes of vapour through Lothbury glide,
     And a river flows on through the vale of Cheapside."

The gulls which seem lately to have found out the merits of London
give to occasional Susans, I hope, a whiff of fresh sea-breezes.
But, even without gulls or wood-pigeons, I can often find occasions
in the heart of London for recalling the old memories, without any
definable pretext; little pictures of scenery, sometimes assignable
to no definable place, start up invested with a faint aroma of old
friendly walks and solitary meditations and strenuous exercise, and
I feel convinced that, if I am not a thorough scoundrel, I owe that
relative excellence to the harmless monomania which so often took me,
to appropriate Bunyan's phrase, from the amusements of _Vanity Fair_ to
the _Delectable Mountains_ of pedestrianism.

_Leslie Stephen._

The Exhilarations of the Road

     _Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road._


Occasionally on the sidewalk, amid the dapper, swiftly-moving,
high-heeled boots and gaiters, I catch a glimpse of the naked human
foot. Nimbly it scuffs along, the toes spread, the sides flatten,
the heel protrudes; it grasps the curbing, or bends to the form of
the uneven surfaces,--a thing sensuous and alive, that seems to take
cognisance of whatever it touches or passes. How primitive and uncivil
it looks in such company,--a real barbarian in the parlour. We are so
unused to the human anatomy, to simple, unadorned nature, that it looks
a little repulsive; but it is beautiful for all that. Though it be a
black foot and an unwashed foot, it shall be exalted. It is a thing of
life amid leather, a free spirit amid cramped, a wild bird amid caged,
an athlete amid consumptives. It is the symbol of my order, the Order
of Walkers. That unhampered, vitally playing piece of anatomy is the
type of the pedestrian, man returned to first principles, in direct
contact and intercourse with the earth and the elements, his faculties
unsheathed, his mind plastic, his body toughened, his heart light, his
soul dilated: while those cramped and distorted members in the calf and
kid are the unfortunate wretches doomed to carriages and cushions.

I am not going to advocate the disuse of boots and shoes, or the
abandoning of the improved modes of travel; but I am going to brag as
lustily as I can on behalf of the pedestrian, and show how all the
shining angels second and accompany the man who goes afoot, while all
the dark spirits are ever looking out for a chance to ride.

When I see the discomforts that able-bodied American men will put up
with rather than go a mile or half a mile on foot, the abuses they will
tolerate and encourage, crowding the street car on a little fall in
the temperature or the appearance of an inch or two of snow, packing
up to overflowing, dangling to the straps, treading on each other's
toes, breathing each other's breaths, crushing the women and children,
hanging by tooth and nail to a square inch of the platform, imperilling
their limbs and killing the horses,--I think the commonest tramp in the
street has good reason to felicitate himself on his rare privilege of
going afoot. Indeed, a race that neglects or despises this primitive
gift, that fears the touch of the soil, that has no footpaths, no
community of ownership in the land which they imply, that warns off
the walker as a trespasser, that knows no way but the highway, the
carriage-way, that forgets the stile, the foot-bridge, that even
ignores the rights of the pedestrian in the public road, providing no
escape for him but in the ditch or up the bank, is in a fair way to far
more serious degeneracy.

Shakespeare makes the chief qualification of the walker a merry heart:--

     "Jog on, jog on the footpath way,
       And merrily hent the stile-a;
     A merry heart goes all the day,
       Your sad tires in a mile-a."

The human body is a steed that goes freest and longest under a light
rider, and the lightest of all riders is a cheerful heart. Your sad,
or morose, or embittered, or preoccupied heart settles heavily into
the saddle, and the poor beast, the body, breaks down the first mile.
Indeed, the heaviest thing in the world is a heavy heart. Next to that
the most burdensome to the walker is a heart not in perfect sympathy
and accord with the body--a reluctant or unwilling heart. The horse and
rider must not only both be willing to go the same way, but the rider
must lead the way and infuse his own lightness and eagerness into the
steed. Herein is no doubt our trouble and one reason of the decay of
the noble art in this country. We are unwilling walkers. We are not
innocent and simple-hearted enough to enjoy a walk. We have fallen
from that state of grace which capacity to enjoy a walk implies. It
cannot be said that as a people we are so positively sad, or morose, or
melancholic as that we are vacant of that sportiveness and surplusage
of animal spirits that characterised our ancestors, and that springs
from full and harmonious life,--a sound heart in accord with a sound
body. A man must invest himself near at hand and in common things, and
be content with a steady and moderate return, if he would know the
blessedness of a cheerful heart and the sweetness of a walk over the
round earth. This is a lesson the American has yet to learn--capability
of amusement on a low key. He expects rapid and extraordinary returns.
He would make the very elemental laws pay usury. He has nothing to
invest in a walk; it is too slow, too cheap. We crave the astonishing,
the exciting, the far away, and do not know the highways of the
gods when we see them,--always a sign of the decay of the faith and
simplicity of man.

If I say to my neighbour, "Come with me, I have great wonders to show
you," he pricks up his ears and comes forthwith; but when I take him on
the hills under the full blaze of the sun, or along the country road,
our footsteps lighted by the moon and stars, and say to him, "Behold,
these are the wonders, these are the circuits of the gods, this we now
tread is a morning star," he feels defrauded, and as if I had played
him a trick. And yet nothing less than dilatation and enthusiasm like
this is the badge of the master walker.

If we are not sad we are careworn, hurried, discontented, mortgaging
the present for the promise of the future. If we take a walk, it is as
we take a prescription, with about the same relish and with about the
same purpose; and the more the fatigue the greater our faith in the
virtue of the medicine.

Of those gleesome saunters over the hills in spring, or those sallies
of the body in winter, those excursions into space when the foot
strikes fire at every step, when the air tastes like a new and finer
mixture, when we accumulate force and gladness as we go along, when the
sight of objects by the roadside and of the fields and woods pleases
more than pictures or than all the art in the world,--those ten or
twelve mile dashes that are but the wit and affluence of the corporeal
powers,--of such diversion and open road entertainment, I say, most of
us know very little.

I notice with astonishment that at our fashionable watering-places
nobody walks; that of all those vast crowds of health-seekers and
lovers of country air, you can never catch one in the fields or woods,
or guilty of trudging along the country road with dust on his shoes
and sun-tan on his hands and face. The sole amusement seems to be to
eat and dress and sit about the hotels and glare at each other. The
men look bored, the women look tired, and all seem to sigh, "O Lord!
what shall we do to be happy and not be vulgar?" Quite different from
our British cousins across the water, who have plenty of amusement and
hilarity, spending most of the time at their watering-places in the
open air, strolling, picnicking, boating, climbing, briskly walking,
apparently with little fear of sun-tan or of compromising their

It is indeed astonishing with what ease and hilarity the English walk.
To an American it seems a kind of infatuation. When Dickens was in this
country I imagine the aspirants to the honour of a walk with him were
not numerous. In a pedestrian tour of England by an American, I read
that "after breakfast with the Independent minister, he walked with us
for six miles out of town upon our road. Three little boys and girls,
the youngest six years old, also accompanied us. They were romping and
rambling about all the while, and their morning walk must have been
as much as fifteen miles; but they thought nothing of it, and when we
parted were apparently as fresh as when they started, and very loath to

I fear, also, the American is becoming disqualified for the manly art
of walking, by a falling off in the size of his foot. He cherishes and
cultivates this part of his anatomy, and apparently thinks his taste
and good breeding are to be inferred from its diminutive size. A small,
trim foot, well booted or gaitered, is the national vanity. How we
stare at the big feet of foreigners, and wonder what may be the price
of leather in those countries, and where all the aristocratic blood is,
that these plebeian extremities so predominate. If we were admitted
to the confidences of the shoemaker to Her Majesty or to His Royal
Highness, no doubt we would modify our views upon this latter point,
for a truly large and royal nature is never stunted in the extremities;
a little foot never yet supported a great character.

It is said that Englishmen when they first come to this country are for
some time under the impression that American women all have deformed
feet, they are so coy of them and so studiously careful to keep them
hid. That there is an astonishing difference between the women of the
two countries in this respect, every traveller can testify; and that
there is a difference equally astonishing between the pedestrian habits
and capabilities of the rival sisters is also certain.

The English pedestrian, no doubt, has the advantage of us in the matter
of climate; for notwithstanding the traditional gloom and moroseness
of English skies, they have in that country none of those relaxing,
sinking, enervating days, of which we have so many here, and which
seem especially trying to the female constitution--days which withdraw
all support from the back and loins, and render walking of all things
burdensome. Theirs is a climate of which it has been said that "it
invites men abroad more days in the year and more hours in the day than
that of any other country."

Then their land is threaded with paths which invite the walker, and
which are scarcely less important than the highways. I heard of a surly
nobleman near London who took it into his head to close a footpath that
passed through his estate near his house, and open another one a little
farther off. The pedestrians objected; the matter got into the courts,
and after protracted litigation the aristocrat was beaten. The path
could not be closed or moved. The memory of man ran not to the time
when there was not a footpath there, and every pedestrian should have
the right of way there still.

I remember the pleasure I had in the path that connects
Stratford-on-Avon with Shottery, Shakespeare's path when he went
courting Anne Hathaway. By the king's highway the distance is somewhat
farther, so there is a well-worn path along the hedgerows and through
the meadows and turnip patches. The traveller in it has the privilege
of crossing the railroad track, an unusual privilege in England, and
one denied to the lord in his carriage, who must either go over or
under it. (It is a privilege, is it not, to be allowed the forbidden,
even if it be the privilege of being run over by the engine?) In
strolling over the South Downs, too, I was delighted to find that where
the hill was steepest some benefactor of the order of walkers had
made notches in the sward, so that the foot could bite the better and
firmer; the path became a kind of stairway, which I have no doubt the
ploughman respected.

When you see an English country church withdrawn, secluded, out of the
reach of wheels, standing amid grassy graves and surrounded by noble
trees, approached by paths and shaded lanes, you appreciate more than
ever this beautiful habit of the people. Only a race that knows how
to use its feet, and holds footpaths sacred, could put such a charm
of privacy and humility into such a structure. I think I should be
tempted to go to church myself if I saw all my neighbours starting
off across the fields or along paths that led to such charmed spots,
and was sure I would not be jostled or run over by the rival chariots
of the worshippers at the temple doors. I think this is what ails our
religion; humility and devoutness of heart leave one when he lays by
his walking shoes and walking clothes, and sets out for church drawn by

Indeed, I think it would be tantamount to an astonishing revival of
religion if the people would all walk to church on Sunday and walk home
again. Think how the stones would preach to them by the wayside; how
their benumbed minds would warm up beneath the friction of the gravel;
how their vain and foolish thoughts, their desponding thoughts, their
besetting demons of one kind and another, would drop behind them,
unable to keep up or to endure the fresh air. They would walk away
from their _ennui_, their worldly cares, their uncharitableness, their
pride of dress; for these devils always want to ride, while the simple
virtues are never so happy as when on foot. Let us walk by all means;
but if we will ride, get an ass.

Then the English claim that they are a more hearty and robust people
than we are. It is certain they are a plainer people, have plainer
tastes, dress plainer, build plainer, speak plainer, keep closer to
facts, wear broader shoes and coarser clothes, place a lower estimate
on themselves, etc.--all of which traits favour pedestrian habits. The
English grandee is not confined to his carriage; but if the American
aristocrat leaves his, he is ruined. Oh, the weariness, the emptiness,
the plotting, the seeking rest and finding none, that goes by in the
carriages! while your pedestrian is always cheerful, alert, refreshed,
with his heart in his hand and his hand free to all. He looks down
upon nobody; he is on the common level. His pores are all open, his
circulation is active, his digestion good. His heart is not cold,
nor his faculties asleep. He is the only real traveller; he alone
tastes the "gay, fresh sentiment of the road." He is not isolated, but
one with things, with the farms and industries on either hand. The
vital, universal currents play through him. He knows the ground is
alive; he feels the pulses of the wind, and reads the mute language
of things. His sympathies are all aroused; his senses are continually
reporting messages to his mind. Wind, frost, rain, heat, cold, are
something to him. He is not merely a spectator of the panorama of
nature, but a participator in it. He experiences the country he passes
through--tastes it, feels it, absorbs it; the traveller in his fine
carriage sees it merely. This gives the fresh charm to that class
of books that may be called "Views Afoot," and to the narratives of
hunters, naturalists, exploring parties, etc. The walker does not
need a large territory. When you get into a railway car you want a
continent, the man in his carriage requires a township; but a walker
like Thoreau finds as much and more along the shores of Walden Pond.
The former, as it were, has merely time to glance at the headings of
the chapters, while the latter need not miss a line, and Thoreau reads
between the lines. Then the walker has the privilege of the fields, the
woods, the hills, the by-ways. The apples by the roadside are for him,
and the berries, and the spring of water, and the friendly shelter; and
if the weather is cold, he eats the frost grapes and the persimmons,
or even the white meated turnip, snatched from the field he passed
through, with incredible relish.

Afoot and in the open road, one has a fair start in life at last. There
is no hindrance now. Let him put his best foot forward. He is on the
broadest humane plane. This is on the level of all the great laws and
heroic deeds. From this platform he is eligible to any good fortune. He
was sighing for the golden age; let him walk to it. Every step brings
him nearer. The youth of the world is but a few days' journey distant.
Indeed, I know persons who think they have walked back to that fresh
aforetime of a single bright Sunday in autumn or early spring. Before
noon they felt its airs upon their cheeks, and by nightfall, on the
banks of some quiet stream, or along some path in the wood, or on some
hill-top, aver they have heard the voices and felt the wonder and the
mystery that so enchanted the early races of men.

I think if I could walk through a country I should not only see many
things and have adventures that I should otherwise miss, but that
I should come into relations with that country at first hand, and
with the men and women in it, in a way that would afford the deepest
satisfaction. Hence I envy the good fortune of all walkers, and feel
like joining myself to every tramp that comes along. I am jealous of
the clergyman I read about the other day who footed it from Edinburgh
to London, as poor Effie Deans did, carrying her shoes in her hand most
of the way, and over the ground that rugged Ben Jonson strode, larking
it to Scotland, so long ago. I read with longing of the pedestrian
feats of college youths, so gay and light-hearted, with their coarse
shoes on their feet and their knapsacks on their backs. It would have
been a good draught of the rugged cup to have walked with Wilson the
ornithologist, deserted by his companions, from Niagara to Philadelphia
through the snows of winter. I almost wish that I had been born to
the career of a German mechanic, that I might have had that delicious
adventurous year of wandering over my country before I settled down
to work. I think how much richer and firmer-grained life would be to
me if I could journey afoot through Florida and Texas, or follow the
windings of the Platte or the Yellowstone, or stroll through Oregon,
or browse for a season about Canada. In the bright inspiring days of
autumn I only want the time and the companion to walk back to the natal
spot, the family nest, across two States and into the mountains of a
third. What adventures we would have by the way, what hard pulls, what
prospects from hills, what spectacles we would behold of night and day,
what passages with dogs, what glances, what peeps into windows, what
characters we should fall in with, and how seasoned and hardy we should
arrive at our destination!

For companion I should want a veteran of the war! Those marches put
something into him I like. Even at this distance his mettle is but
little softened. As soon as he gets warmed up it all comes back to
him. He catches your step and away you go, a gay, adventurous, half
predatory couple. How quickly he falls into the old ways of jest and
anecdote and song! You may have known him for years without having
heard him hum an air, or more than casually revert to the subject
of his experience during the war. You have even questioned and
cross-questioned him without firing the train you wished. But get
him out on a vacation tramp, and you can walk it all out of him. By
the camp-fire at night or swinging along the streams by day, song,
anecdote, adventure, come to the surface, and you wonder how your
companion has kept silent so long.

It is another proof of how walking brings out the true character of a
man. The devil never yet asked his victims to take a walk with him.
You will not be long in finding your companion out. All disguises will
fall away from him. As his pores open his character is laid bare. His
deepest and most private self will come to the top. It matters little
whom you ride with, so he be not a pickpocket; for both of you will,
very likely, settle down closer and firmer in your reserve, shaken
down like a measure of corn by the jolting as the journey proceeds. But
walking is a more vital copartnership; the relation is a closer and
more sympathetic one, and you do not feel like walking ten paces with a
stranger without speaking to him.

Hence the fastidiousness of the professional walker in choosing or
admitting a companion, and hence the truth of a remark of Emerson that
you will generally fare better to take your dog than to invite your
neighbour. Your cur-dog is a true pedestrian, and your neighbour is
very likely a small politician. The dog enters thoroughly into the
spirit of the enterprise; he is not indifferent or preoccupied; he is
constantly sniffing adventure, laps at every spring, looks upon every
field and wood as a new world to be explored, is ever on some fresh
trail, knows something important will happen a little farther on,
gazes with the true wonder-seeing eyes, whatever the spot or whatever
the road finds it good to be there--in short, is just that happy,
delicious, excursive vagabond that touches one at so many points, and
whose human prototype in a companion robs miles and leagues of half
their power to fatigue.

Persons who find themselves spent in a short walk to the market or
the post-office, or to do a little shopping, wonder how it is that
their pedestrian friends can compass so many weary miles and not fall
down from sheer exhaustion; ignorant of the fact that the walker is a
kind of projectile that drops far or near according to the expansive
force of the motive that set it in motion, and that it is easy enough
to regulate the charge according to the distance to be traversed. If
I am loaded to carry only one mile and am compelled to walk three,
I generally feel more fatigue than if I had walked six under the
proper impetus of pre-adjusted resolution. In other words, the will or
corporeal mainspring, whatever it be, is capable of being wound up to
different degrees of tension, so that one may walk all day nearly as
easy as half that time if he is prepared beforehand. He knows his task,
and he measures and distributes his powers accordingly. It is for this
reason that an unknown road is always a long road. We cannot cast the
mental eye along it and see the end from the beginning. We are fighting
in the dark, and cannot take the measure of our foe. Every step must be
preordained and provided for in the mind. Hence also the fact that to
vanquish one mile in the woods seems equal to compassing three in the
open country. The furlongs are ambushed, and we magnify them.

Then, again, how annoying to be told it is only five miles to the next
place when it is really eight or ten! We fall short nearly half the
distance, and are compelled to urge and roll the spent ball the rest of
the way.

In such a case walking degenerates from a fine art to a mechanic art;
we walk merely; to get over the ground becomes the one serious and
engrossing thought; whereas success in walking is not to let your
right foot know what your left foot doeth. Your heart must furnish
such music that in keeping time to it your feet will carry you around
the globe without knowing it. The walker I would describe takes no
note of distance; his walk is a sally, a _bon mot_, an unspoken _jeu
d'esprit_; the ground is his butt, his provocation; it furnishes him
the resistance his body craves; he rebounds upon it, he glances off and
returns again, and uses it gaily as his tool.

I do not think I exaggerate the importance or the charms of
pedestrianism, or our need as a people to cultivate the art. I think it
would tend to soften the national manners, to teach us the meaning of
leisure, to acquaint us with the charms of the open air, to strengthen
and foster the tie between the race and the land. No one else looks out
upon the world so kindly and charitably as the pedestrian; no one else
gives and takes so much from the country he passes through. Next to the
labourer in the fields, the walker holds the closest relation to the
soil; and he holds a closer and more vital relation to Nature because
he is freer and his mind more at leisure.

Man takes root at his feet, and at best he is no more than a potted
plant in his house or carriage till he has established communication
with the soil by the loving and magnetic touch of his soles to it. Then
the tie of association is born; then spring those invisible fibres and
rootlets through which character comes to smack of the soil, and which
make a man kindred to the spot of earth he inhabits.

The roads and paths you have walked along in summer and winter weather,
the fields and hills which you have looked upon in lightness and
gladness of heart, where fresh thoughts have come into your mind, or
some noble prospect has opened before you, and especially the quiet
ways where you have walked in sweet converse with your friend, pausing
under the trees, drinking at the spring--henceforth they are not the
same; a new charm is added; those thoughts spring there perennial, your
friend walks there for ever.

We have produced some good walkers and saunterers, and some noted
climbers; but as a staple recreation, as a daily practice, the mass
of the people dislike and despise walking. Thoreau said he was a good
horse, but a poor roadster. I chant the virtues of the roadster as
well. I sing of the sweetness of gravel, good sharp quartz-grit. It is
the proper condiment for the sterner seasons, and many a human gizzard
would be cured of half its ills by a suitable daily allowance of it.
I think Thoreau himself would have profited immensely by it. His diet
was too exclusively vegetable. A man cannot live on grass alone. If one
has been a lotus-eater all summer, he must turn gravel-eater in the
fall and winter. Those who have tried it know that gravel possesses an
equal though an opposite charm. It spurs to action. The foot tastes
it and henceforth rests not. The joy of moving and surmounting, of
attrition and progression, the thirst for space, for miles and leagues
of distance, for sights and prospects, to cross mountains and thread
rivers, and defy frost, heat, snow, danger, difficulties, seizes it;
and from that day forth its possessor is enrolled in the noble army of

_John Burroughs._


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