Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“
[blocks in formation]

not like to desert our good ship, the Phaeton, in which we have made many a delightful voyagethat we wish to steer her home safely into port after her long cruise ; excepting for these most excellent reasons, we should feel almost tempted to take the speedy railway, and get through the wilderness of houses, with all their commonplace ugliness, as quickly as possible. On this exceptional occasion the railway seems altogether good.

And now, kind reader, our journey is nearing its end; we must, for a time, bid farewell to the pleasant green lanes and leafy woods of the mellow English country. A few more miles and we shall be in the prosaic and intensely uninteresting outskirts of Modern Babylon-noisy streets will take the place of the quiet rural roads, we shall not have to complain of deserted highways ; no longer shall we be the only traveller in sight. First to make its appearance is the familiar omnibus, then the disagreeable tramway, then the London cab, and we soon are in the whirl of traffic. Now careful driving is needed through the thronged, bustling City, but soon the comparative quiet of the Thames Embankment is reached, then we pass some quaintly fantastic new Queen Anne houses of very red brick, facing the river at Chelsea, whose ambitious struggling after effect is but too apparent—very different these freaks in building from the unobtrusive harmony of the genuine old-time country homes that have delighted our eyes for so long—then Kensington, and, finally, home is reached. And after all, `East, West, Home's best,' even though that home be in smoky

[ocr errors]

London. As we drive along, the horses, tired with their last long stage, hang back from their collars, but presently they observe some familiar landmark, for suddenly they trot briskly on once more, as though only just fresh from their stables ; now they want holding in rather than a reminder from the whip.

Sir Thomas Browne, I think it was, who stated that the best way of all to travel (though I cannot quite agree with him) was to journey by book, seated comfortably in an easy armchair. Still, if not the best way, it is one by no means to be despised. I can only trust, you, kind reader, who have accompanied us in this wise so far on our pleasant pilgrimage, may, from reading this simple, unvarnished account of our wanderings, have derived some small share of the great enjoyment that such wanderings gave to us.

No words, least of all any words from my poor pen (I say pen, though the strictly correct term would be type-writer), can convey the delightful experiences and vivid impressions of our journey. But still I have done my best--and no man can do more than his best—to bring before you pictures, however imperfect, of what we saw. Pictures of ruined abbeys, grey with years, of ancient churches, with their curious brasses and quaint altar-tombs ; of moated manor houses, raised in a time when truly every man's house was his castle, rich in legends most of these ; of picturesque rambling farmsteads, cosy cottages, and last, but not least, of all these reminders of the days that are vanished, the many charming old-time coaching hostelries, that even in

ENGLISH SCENERY.

393

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

this nineteenth century of steam-and-iron horses still,
as erstwhile, open their hospitable doors to the
traveller by road, and, what is much more to the
point, make him exceedingly comfortable.

The English country, how happily it blends
peaceful scenery with the associations of man! How
changeful, too, it is! Every few miles reveals fresh
beauties to the wanderer in it, and now and then
fairly astonishes him by some wholly unexpected
scenic surprise. Now the traveller passes through a
restful, pastoral land ; now by way of contrast he
traverses a lone, wild, wind-swept heath, so sugges-
tive of the highwayman of old ; now his road takes
him through waving, many-tinted woods, or for a
while alongside a rippling, winding river, now
through sleepy villages, now through quaint, irregular-
roofed sunny towns, anon across a gorse-bestrewn
common over which blows a bracing breeze ; now he
gets a glimpse of the distant sea, and so the

prospect ever varies as he journeys on. There is no country in the world that has such varied scenery in the same space as England.

Now, as I write this in the cheerless, sunless winter weather-I wish that I could add foglessmy vision in imagination wanders back to many a bright summer scene; first one mind-picture rises before me, then another, pleasant memories of happy sunny days crowd fast upon me, memories that are a precious possession as long as my life shall last. Not the least delightful part of travel is the remembrance of the pleasant hours spent amidst the beauties of nature. And this fair land of Britain is

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

1

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

1

i

made doubly beautiful by the time-hallowed structures raised upon it by our long-departed forefathers -peace be to their ashes !—and by the mellowing influence wrought upon it by the ceaseless cultivation of centuries.

Now, as I close this record of our old-fashioned tour, my thoughts wander back ; in a delightful daydream memories come to me

... from all their far-flown nooks,
Singly at first, and then by twos and threes,
Then in a throng innumerable, as the rooks

Thicken their twilight files
Tow'rd Tintern's grave repose of roofless aisles.

CHAPTER XXII.

On the Road-Hints upon Driving Tours.

[ocr errors]

I HAVE often been asked, How did you manage about this and that when driving across country? What did the journey cost ? Did your horses ever go lame? What did you take with you? What sort of accommodation did you find at the rural inns on the way ? and so on. I think, therefore, that a few hints about roadwork and how we managed generally will possibly prove acceptable to those of my readers who may be induced to follow our excellent example and spend their summer holiday on the road, having all the pleasure of exploring a fresh country without leaving their own.

First of all, then, it is wise before starting to have your carriage and harness thoroughly overhauled. Nothing is more annoying than the necessity of being obliged to get your harness cobbled up by a rural workman, or your carriage wheels, say, oiled by the 'prentice village hand who, after doing this, may not recollect to replace the linch-pin, a fact that you will discover afterwards to your sorrow.

It has been stated by authorities on such matters that no horse can go day after day a distance of twenty miles without breaking down. I can only say

1

« AnkstesnisTęsti »