A Walk from London to John O'Groat's eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 293 pages of information about A Walk from London to John O'Groat's.

From Tiptree I had a pleasant walk to Coggeshall, a unique and antique town, marked by the quaint and picturesque architecture of the Elizabethan regime.  On the way I met an old man, eighty-three years of age, busily at work with his wheel-barrow, shovel, and bush-broom, gathering up the droppings of manure on the road.  I stopped and had a long talk with him, and learned much of those ingenious and minute industries by which thousands of poor men house, feed, and clothe themselves and their families in a country super-abounding with labor.  He had nearly filled his barrow, after trundling it for four miles.  He could sell his little load for 4d. to a neighboring farmer; but he intended to keep it for a small garden patch allotted to him by his son, with whom he lived.  These few square yards of land constituted the microscopic point of his attachment to that great globe still holding in reserve unmeasured territories of productive soil, on which nor plough, nor spade, nor human foot, nor life has ever left a lasting mark.  These made his little farm, as large to him and to his octogenarian sinews and ambitions as was the Tiptree Estate to Alderman Mechi.  It filled his mind with as busy occupation and as healthy a stimulus.  That rude barrow, with its clumsy wheel, thinly rimmed with an iron hoop, was to him what the steam engine, and two miles of iron tubing, and all its hose-power were to that eminent agriculturist, of whom he spoke in terms of high esteem as a neighbor, and even as a competitor.  Proportionately they were on the same footing; the one with his 170 square acres, the other with his 170 square feet.  It was pleasant and instructive to hear him speak with such sunny and cheery hope of his earthly lot and doings.  His son was kind and good to him.  He could read, and get many good books.  He ate and slept well.  He was poor but comfortable.  He went to church on Sunday, and thought much of heaven on week days.  His cabbages were a wonder; some with heads as large as a half-bushel measure.  He did something very respectable in the potato and turnip line.  He had grown beans and beets which would show well in any market.  He always left a strip or corner for flowers.  He loved to grow them; they did him good, and stirred up young-man feelings in him.  He went on in this way with increased animation, following the lead of a few questions I put in occasionally to give direction to the narrative of his experience.  How much I wished I could have photographed him as he stood leaning on his shovel, his wrinkled face and gray, thin hair, moistened with perspiration, while his coat lay inside out on one of the handles of his barrow!  The July sun, that warmed him at his work, would have made an interesting picture of him, if some one could have held a camera to its eye at the moment.  I added a few pennies to his stock-in-trade, and continued my walk, thinking much of that wonderful arrangement of Providence by which the infinite alternations

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A Walk from London to John O'Groat's from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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