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little, if it pay our way), produce the highest goodhumour-itself the highest happiness.
All this is indeed illusion. Yet if we really tread on classic ground (as I did in a very few days after my starting), at Binfield, * Cooper's Hill,+ and Chertsey, I and above all, when, some time afterwards, I visited Stratford-upon-Avon, what a tumult of interest presses upon the brain !
“ We seem through consecrated walks to rove;
We hear soft music die along the grove;
Have I said enough to recommend my tour ?
* Where Pope sang his earliest lays. + Denham's favourite haunt. Cowley's last retreat.
OF THE STRANGE PERSONAGE I MET ON MY TRAVELS.
I pry'thee, sweet wag, shall there be a gallows standing in England when thou art king?
SHAKSPEARE.-1 Henry IV. The observation of Fothergill when he proposed this pleasant undertaking to me, that “every little incident that occurred might, if I pleased, be turned to account,” was by no means forgotten from the moment I left Oxford. To be sure, beyond what I might have described, there was little of note the first two days, except that I never so fully felt the truth of the picture, that the man who engages in this sort of excursion, if of a certain cast of mind, bordering on the sentimental, and cheerful withal,
“ From each thing met conceives delight.” The villages and farms of England are, indeed, proverbial for the comfort they exhibit, and therefore, for the pleasure they communicate to any traveller who
has a spark of benevolence in him,- without which he had better not travel at all. Thus, wherever I advanced I felt at home, but particularly when I had penetrated into the rich, rural, and well-cultivated county of Berks.
I did this at last, after loitering pleasingly (so that I was loth to quit them) along the sides of the lovely Thames, flowing through meadows illumined by the sun,
which turned every thing into green and gold. I met, of course, a variety of travellers of various degrees, who shewed me different marks of respect, according to their different notions of themselves and of me. All of them seemed to cast an eye of criticism on my knapsack. Those in carriages, or horsemen of an upper rank, were not uncivil, but never looked twice. While the bags-men, or gentlemen travellers, as they are called, seemed horrified to look once. For as soon as they perceived my knapsack, like the Levite, after looking, they passed on the other side. It was only pedestrians like myself who seemed sometimes, though not always, glad to join company, on terms of equality; a liberty which, being one of themselves, I could not reasonably refuse.
What at first appeared remarkable was, that from my knapsack, black neckcloth, and light trowsers (black neckcloths not being worn then by the many), I was generally taken for a soldier. Some thought I was passing home on furlough, some that I was a deserter.
This last idea was entertained by a fellow-traveller who joined me on the third day, on the road between
Wallingford and Reading. He was a hale, dark, loud man, strong built, and well fed and clothed, with shaggy black brows, almost closing up eyes which, when seen, had a most sinister expression. In short, like Smollett's Cadwallader, “ He squinted with a most horrid obliquity of vision.”
This personage joined me just as I was in the happy mood occasioned by passing through a succession of well-cultivated fields, and clean cottages, all amidst small but well-kept plots of garden ground, prolific in culinary herbs and flowers, exhibiting the promise of future plenty and innocent amusement. I was, therefore, little prepared for the rencontre that took place. After the usual salutations, and he had surveyed me very critically with a good deal of suspicion,
" A gentleman soldier, I suppose,” said he, inquiringly. “ Pray, what regiment ? ”
“ You are wrong,” replied I, shortly, for I did not like his ill-omened countenance, and walked quickly
66 You need not be afraid of me,” continued he. “ I am no kidnapper, and would rather help an honest deserter to flee from slavery, than peach him, though to get the reward.” “ You are wrong again,” said I. “ I have told
you I am not a soldier; and if I were, I would not be a deserter.”
“ More fool you,” he answered, “ if in your power to escape from those rascally tyrants whom we pay only for keeping honest men from their own.”
I liked my sententious companion so little, that at first I wished to shake him off, and walked quick or slow, as I thought would best serve that purpose; he foiled me by always altering his own pace accordingly, and at length observed with some roughness,
“ You seem a dry one, young fellow, though I have told you, you need not be afraid of me; for I would not, I tell you, peach, even if you had robbed your master, or were running away from your own father. Masters and fathers are but rum commodities, and will never allow the world to be free."
“ I don't agree with you," replied I; but struck somehow with what seemed so unusual in the man's ideas, I renounced my wish to get rid of him, and encouraged him to develop himself still more, by entering into conversation with him. When, continuing his notion of my military capacity, he asked if I had come from Windsor barracks, I said, no, from Oxford. “But pray,” continued I, “as you have expressed some curiosity about me, may I ask who you are yourself ?”
“I am one of the few," returned he, sternly," who dare to think for themselves, hold that the world has all got wrong, and that it will never be to rights till
6 Till what?”
“ Till every thing is reversed that we see about us; till there be no kings or queens ; nor even magistrates ; and of course no gibbets to hang men upon merely for attempting to get their own."