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.
the passing landscape.  The face of every farm is turned from you.  The farmer’s house fronts on the turnpike road, and the best views of his homestead, of his industry, prosperity, and happiness, look that way.  You only get a furtive glance, a kind of clandestine and diagonal peep at him and his doings; and having thus travelled a hundred miles through a fertile country you can form no approximate or satisfactory idea of its character and productions.

But no facts nor arguments are needed to convince an intelligent traveller that the railway affords no point of view for seeing town or country to any satisfactory perception of its character.  Indeed, neither coach of the olden, nor cab of the modern vogue, nor saddle, will enable one to “do” either town or country with thorough insight and enjoyment.  It takes him too long to pull up to catch the features of a sudden view.  He can do nothing with those generous and delightful institutions of Old England,—­the footpaths, that thread pasture, park, and field, seemingly permeating her whole green world with dusky veins for the circulation of human life.  To lose all the picturesque lanes and landscapes which these field-paths cross and command, is to lose the great distinctive charm of the country.  Then, neither from the coach-box nor the saddle can he make much conversation on the way.  He loses the chance of a thousand little talks and pleasant incidents.  He cannot say “Good morning” to the farmer at the stile, nor a word of greeting to the reapers over the hedge, nor see where they live, and the kind of children that play by their cottage doors; nor the little, antique churches, bearded to their eye-brows with ivy, covering the wrinkles of half a dozen centuries, nor the low and quiet villages clustering around, each like a family of bushy-headed children surrounding their venerable mother.

In addition to these considerations, there was another that moved me to this walk.  Although I had been up and down the country as often and as extensively as any American, perhaps, and admired its general scenery, I had never looked at it with an agricultural eye or interest.  But, having dabbled a little in farming in the interval between my last two visits to England, and being touched with some of the enthusiasm that modern novices carry into the occupation, I was determined to look at the agriculture of Great Britain more leisurely and attentively, and from a better stand-point than I had ever done before.  The thought had also occurred to me, that a walk through the best agricultural counties of England and Scotland would afford opportunity for observation which might be made of some interest to my friends and neighbor farmers in America as well as to myself.  Therefore I beg the English reader to remember that I am addressing to them the notes that I may make by the way, hoping that its incidents and the thoughts it suggests will not be devoid of interest because they are principally intended for the American ear.

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