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How To Travel

First, as to manner. You may travel on foot, on horseback, in a carriage with horses, in a carriage with steam, or in a steamboat or ship, and also in many other ways.

Of these, so far as mere outside circumstance goes, it is probable that the travelling with horses in a canal-boat is the pleasantest of all, granting that there is no crowd of passengers, and that the weather is agreeable. But there are so few parts of the world where this is now practicable, that we need not say much of it. The school-girls of this generation may well long for those old halcyon days of Miss Portia Lesley's School. In that ideal establishment the girls went to Washington to study political economy in the winter. They went to Saratoga in July and August to study the analytical processes of chemistry. There was also a course there on the history of the Revolution. They went to Newport alternate years in the same months, to study the Norse literature and swimming. They went to the White Sulphur Springs and to Bath, to study the history of chivalry as illustrated in the annual tournaments. They went to Paris to study French, to Rome to study Latin, to Athens to study Greek. In all parts of the world where they could travel by canals they did so. While on the journeys they studied their arithmetic and other useful matters, which had been passed by at the capitals. And while they were on the canals they washed and ironed their clothes, so as to be ready for the next stopping-place. You can do anything you choose on a canal.

Next to canal travelling, a journey on horseback is the pleasantest. It is feasible for girls as well as boys, if they have proper escort and superintendence. You see the country; you know every leaf and twig; you are tired enough, and not too tired, when the day is done. When you are at the end of each day's journey you find you have, all the way along, been laying up a store of pleasant memories. You have a good appetite for supper, and you sleep in one nap for the nine hours between nine at night and six in the morning.

You might try this, Phillis,--you and Robert. I do not think your little pony would do, but your uncle will lend you Throg for a fortnight. There is nothing your uncle will not do for you, if you ask him the right way. When Robert's next vacation comes, after he has been at home a week, he will be glad enough to start. You had better go now and see your Aunt Fanny about it. She is always up to anything. She and your Uncle John will be only too glad of the excuse to do this thing again. They have not done it since they and I and P. came down through the Dixville Notch all four on a hand gallop, with the rain running in sheets off our waterproofs. Get them to say they will go, and then hold them up to it.

For dress, you, Phillis, will want a regular bloomer to use when you are scrambling over the mountains on foot. Indeed, on the White Mountains now, the ladies best equipped ride up those steep pulls on men's saddles. For that work this is much the safest. Have a simple skirt to button round your waist while you are riding. It should be of waterproof,--the English is the best. Besides this, have a short waterproof sack with a hood, which you can put on easily if a shower comes. Be careful that it has a hood. Any crevice between the head cover and the back cover which admits air or wet to the neck is misery, if not fatal, in such showers as you are going to ride through.

You want another skirt for the evening, and this and your tooth-brush and linen must be put up tight and snug in two little bags. The old-fashioned saddle-bags will do nicely, if you can find a pair in the garret. The waterproof sack must be in another roll outside.

As for Robert, I shall tell him nothing about his dress. "A true gentleman is always so dressed that he can mount and ride for his life." That was the rule three hundred years ago, and I think it holds true now.

Do not try to ride too much in one day. At the start, in particular, take care that you do not tire your horses or yourselves. For yourselves, very likely ten miles will be enough for the first day. It is not distance you are after, it is the enjoyment of every blade of grass, of every flying bird, of every whiff of air, of every cloud that hangs upon the blue.

Walking is next best. The difficulty is about baggage and sleeping-places; and then there has been this absurd theory, that girls cannot walk. But they can. School-boys--trying to make immense distances--blister their feet, strain their muscles, get disgusted, borrow money and ride home in the stage. But this is all nonsense. Distance is not the object. Five miles is as good as fifty. On the other hand, while the riding party cannot well be larger than four, the more the merrier on the walking party. It is true, that the fare is sometimes better where there are but few. Any number of boys and girls, if they can coax some older persons to go with them, who can supply sense and direction to the high spirits of the juniors, may undertake such a journey. There are but few rules; beyond them, each party may make its own.

First, never walk before breakfast. If you like, you may make two breakfasts and take a mile or two between. But be sure to eat something before you are on the road.

Second, do not walk much in the middle of the day. It is dusty and hot then; and the landscape has lost its special glory. By ten o'clock you ought to have found some camping-ground for the day; a nice brook running through a grove,--a place to draw or paint or tell stories or read them or write them; a place to make waterfalls and dams,--to sail chips or build boats,--a place to make a fire and a cup of tea for the oldsters. Stay here till four in the afternoon, and then push on in the two or three hours which are left to the sleeping-place agreed upon. Four or five hours on the road is all you want in each day. Even resolute idlers, as it is to be hoped you all are on such occasions, can get eight miles a day out of that,--and that is enough for a true walking party. Remember all along, that you are not running a race with the railway train. If you were, you would be beaten certainly; and the less you think you are the better. You are travelling in a method of which the merit is that it is not fast, and that you see every separate detail of the glory of the world. What a fool you are, then, if you tire yourself to death, merely that you may say that you did in ten hours what the locomotive would gladly have finished in one, if by that effort you have lost exactly the enjoyment of nature and society that you started for.

The perfection of undertakings in this line was Mrs. Merriam's famous walking party in the Green Mountains, with the Wadsworth girls. Wadsworth was not their name,--it was the name of her school. She chose eight of the girls when vacation came, and told them they might get leave, if they could, to join her in Brattleborough for this tramp. And she sent her own invitation to the mothers and to as many brothers. Six of the girls came. Clara Ingham was one of them, and she told me all about it. Margaret Tyler and Etta were there. There were six brothers also, and Archie Muldair and his wife, Fanny Muldair's mother. They two "tended out" in a buggy, but did not do much walking. Mr. Merriam was with them, and, quite as a surprise, they had Thurlessen, a nice old Swede, who had served in the army, and had ever since been attached to that school as chore-man. He blacked the girls' shoes, waited for them at concert, and sometimes, for a slight bribe, bought almond candy for them in school hours, when they could not possibly live till afternoon without a supply. The girls said that the reason the war lasted so long was that Old Thurlessen was in the army, and that nothing ever went quick when he was in it. I believe there was something in this. Well, Old Thurlessen had a canvas-top wagon, in which he carried five tents, five or six trunks, one or two pieces of kitchen gear, his own self and Will Corcoran.

The girls and boys did not so much as know that Thurlessen was in the party. That had all been kept a solemn secret. They did not know how their trunks were going on, but started on foot in the morning from the hotel, passed up that beautiful village street in Brattleborough, came out through West Dummerston, and so along that lovely West River. It was very easy to find a camp there, and when the sun came to be a little hot, and they had all blown off a little of the steam of the morning, I think they were all glad to come upon Mr. Muldair, sitting in the wagon waiting for them. He explained to them that, if they would cross the fence and go down to the river, they would find his wife had planted herself; and there, sure enough, in a lovely little nook, round which the river swept, with rocks and trees for shade, with shawls to lounge upon, and the water to play with, they spent the day. Of course they made long excursions into the woods and up and down the stream, but here was head-quarters. Hard-boiled eggs from the haversacks, with bread and butter, furnished forth the meal, and Mr. Muldair insisted on toasting some salt-pork over the fire, and teaching the girls to like it sandwiched between crackers. Well, at four o'clock everybody was ready to start again, and was willing to walk briskly. And at six, what should they see but the American flag flying, and Thurlessen's pretty little encampment of his five tents, pitched in a horseshoe form, with his wagon, as a sort of commissary's tent, just outside. Two tents were for the girls, two tents for the boys, and the head-quarters tent for Mr. and Mrs. Merriam. And that night they all learned the luxury and sweetness of sleeping upon beds of hemlock branches. Thurlessen had supper all ready as soon as they were washed and ready for it. And after supper they sat round the fire a little while singing. But before nine o'clock every one of them was asleep.

So they fared up and down through those lovely valleys of the Green Mountains, sending Thurlessen on about ten miles every day, to be ready for them when night came. If it rained, of course they could put in to some of those hospitable Vermont farmers' homes, or one of the inns in the villages. But, on the whole, they had good weather, and boys and girls always hoped that they might sleep out-doors.

These are, however, but the variations and amusements of travel. You and I would find it hard to walk to Liverpool, if that happened to be the expedition in hand or on foot. And in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred you and I will have to adapt ourselves to the methods of travel which the majority have agreed upon.

But for pleasure travel, in whatever form, much of what has been said already applies. The best party is two, the next best four, the next best one, and the worst three. Beyond four, except in walking parties, all are impossible, unless they be members of one family under the command of a father or mother. Command is essential when you pass four. All the members of the party should have or should make a community of interests. If one draws, all had best draw. If one likes to climb mountains, all had best climb mountains. If one rises early, all had best rise early; and so on. Do not tell me you cannot draw. It is quite time you did. You are your own best teacher. And there is no time or place so fit for learning as when you are sitting under the shade of a high rock on the side of White Face, or looking off into the village street from the piazza of a hotel.

The party once determined on and the route, remember that the old conditions of travel and the new conditions of most travel of to-day are precisely opposite. For in old travel, as on horseback or on foot now, you saw the country while you travelled. Many of your stopping-places were for rest, or because night had fallen, and you could see nothing at night. Under the old system, therefore, an intelligent traveller might keep in motion from day to day, slowly, indeed, but seeing something all the time, and learning what the country was through which he passed by talk with the people. But in the new system, popularly called the improved system, he is shut up with his party and a good many other parties in a tight box with glass windows, and whirled on through dust if it be dusty, or rain if it be rainy, under arrangements which make it impossible to converse with the people of the country, and almost impossible to see what that country is. There is a little conversation with the natives. But it relates mostly to the price of pond-lilies or of crullers or of native diamonds. I once put my head out of a window in Ashland, and, addressing a crowd of boys promiscuously, called "John, John." John stepped forward, as I had felt sure he would, though I had not before had the pleasure of his acquaintance. I asked how his mother was, and how the other children were, and he said they were very well. But he did not say anything else, and as the train started at that moment I was not able to continue the conversation, which was at the best, you see, conducted under difficulties. All this makes it necessary that, in our modern travelling, you select with particular care your places to rest, and, when you have selected them, that you stay in them, at the least one day, that you may rest, and that you may know something of the country you are passing. A man or a strong woman may go from Boston to Chicago in a little more than twenty-five hours. If he be going because he has to, it is best for him to go in that way, because he is out of his misery the sooner. Just so it is better to be beheaded than to be starved to death. But a party going from Boston to Chicago purely on an expedition of pleasure, ought not to advance more than a hundred miles a day, and might well spend twenty hours out of every twenty-four at well-chosen stopping-places on the way. They would avoid all large cities, which are for a short stay exactly alike and equally uncomfortable; they would choose pleasant places for rest, and thus when they arrived at Chicago they would have a real fund of happy, pleasant memories.

Applying the same principle to travel in Europe, I am eager to correct a mistake which many of you will be apt to make at the beginning,-- hot-blooded young Americans as you are, eager to "put through" what you are at, even though it be the most exquisite of enjoyments, and ignorant as you all are, till you are taught, of the possibilities of happy life before you, if you will only let the luscious pulp of your various bananas lie on your tongue and take all the good of it, instead of bolting it as if it were nauseous medicine. Because you have but little time in Europe, you will be anxious to see all you can. That is quite right. Remember, then, that true wisdom is to stay three days in one place, rather than to spend but one day in each of three. If you insist on one day in Oxford, one in Birmingham, one in Bristol, why then there are three inns or hotels to be hunted up, three packings and unpackings, three sets of letters to be presented, three sets of streets to learn, and, after it is all over, your memories of those three places will be merely of the outside misery of travel. Give up two of them altogether, then. Make yourself at home for the three days in whichever place of the three best pleases you. Sleep till your nine hours are up every night. Breakfast all together. Avail yourselves of your letters of introduction. See things which are to be seen, or persons who are to be known, at the right times. Above all, see twice whatever is worth seeing. Do not forget this rule;--we remember what we see twice. It is that stereoscopic memory of which I told you once before. We do not remember with anything like the same reality or precision what we have only seen once. It is in some slight appreciation of this great fundamental rule, that you stay three days in any place which you really mean to be acquainted with, that Miss Ferrier lays down her bright rule for a visit, that a visit ought "to consist of three days,--the rest day, the drest day, and the pressed day."

And, lastly, dear friends,--for the most entertaining of discourses on the most fascinating of themes must have a "lastly,"--lastly, be sure that you know what you travel for. "Why, we travel to have a good time," says that incorrigible Pauline Ingham, who will talk none but the Yankee language. Dear Pauline, if you go about the world expecting to find that same "good time" of yours ready-made, inspected, branded, stamped, jobbed by the jobbers, retailed by the retailers, and ready for you to buy with your spending-money, you will be sadly mistaken, though you have for spending-money all that united health, high spirits, good-nature, and kind heart of yours, and all papa's lessons of forgetting yesterday, leaving to-morrow alone, and living with all your might to-day. It will never do, Pauline, to have to walk up to the inn-keeper and say, "Please, we have come for a good time, and where shall we find it?" Take care that you have in reserve one object, I do not care much what it is. Be ready to press plants, or be ready to collect minerals. Or be ready to wash in water-colors, I do not care how poor they are. Or, in Europe, be ready to inquire about the libraries, or the baby-nurseries, or the art-collections, or the botanical gardens. Understand in your own mind that there is something you can inquire for and be interested in, though you be dumped out of a car at New Smithville. It may, perhaps, happen that you do not for weeks or months revert to this reserved object of yours. Then happiness may come; for, as you have found out already, I think, happiness is something which happens, and is not contrived. On this theme you will find an excellent discourse in the beginning of Mr. Freeman Clarke's "Eleven Weeks in Europe."

For directions for the detail of travel, there are none better than those in the beginning of "Rollo in Europe." There is much wisdom in the general directions to travellers in the prefaces to the old editions of Murray. A young American will of course eliminate the purely English necessities from both sides of those equations. There is a good article by Dr. Bellows on the matter in the North American Review. And you yourself, after you have been forty-eight hours in Europe, will feel certain that you can write better directions than all the rest of us can, put together.

And so, my dear young friends, the first half of this book comes to an end. The programme of the beginning is finished, and I am to say "Good by." If I have not answered all the nice, intelligent letters which one and another of you have sent me since we began together, it has only been because I thought I could better answer the multitude of such unknown friends in print, than a few in shorter notes of reply. It has been to me a charming thing that so many of you have been tempted to break through the magic circle of the printed pages, and come to closer terms with one who has certainly tried to speak as a friend to all of you. Do we all understand that in talking, in reading, in writing, in going into society, in choosing our books, or in travelling, there is no arbitrary set of rules? The commandments are not carved in stone. We shall do these things rightly if we do them simply and unconsciously, if we are not selfish, if we are willing to profit by other people's experience, and if, as we do them, we can manage to remember that right and wrong depend much more on the spirit than on the manner in which the thing is done. We shall not make many blunders if we live by the four rules they painted on the four walls of the Detroit Clubhouse.

Do not you know what those were?

1. Look up, and not down.

2. Look forward, and not backward.

3. Look out, and not in,

4. Lend a hand.

The next half of the book will be the application of these rules to life in school, in vacation, life together, life alone, and some other details not yet touched upon.


Edward Everett Hale

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