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Walking-Stick Papers eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 173 pages of information about Walking-Stick Papers.

II

ON GOING A JOURNEY

One of the pleasantest things in the world is “going a journey”—­but few know it now.  It isn’t every one that can go a journey.  No doubt one that owns an automobile cannot go.  The spirit of the age has got him fast.  Begoggled and with awful squawks, feverish, exultant, ignorant, he is condemned to hoot over the earth.  Thus the wealthy know nothing of journeys, for they must own motors.  Vain people and envious people and proud people cannot go, because the wealthy do not.  Silly people do not know enough to go.  The lazy cannot, because of their laziness.  The busy hang themselves with business.  The halt nor the aged, alas! cannot go.  In fine, only such as are whole anywise and pure in heart can go a journey, and they are the blessed.

“We arrive at places now, but we” (most of us) “travel no more.”  The way a journey is gone, to come to the point, is walking.  Asking many folks’ pardon, to tear through the air in an open car, deafened, hilariously muddled by the rush and roar of wind, is to drive observation from the mind:  it is to be, in a manner, complacently, intellectually unconscious; is to drink an enjoyment akin to that of the shooters of the chute, or that got on the very latest of this sort of engine of human amusement called the “Hully-Gee-Whizz,” a pleasure of the ignorant, metaphorically, a kind of innocents’ rot-gut whiskey.  The way a journey is gone, which is walking, is a wine, a mellow claret, stimulating to observation, to thought, to speculation, to the flow of talk, gradually, decently warming the blood.  Rightly taken (which manner this paper attempts to set forth), walking is among the pleasures of the mind.  It is a call-boy to wit, a hand-maiden to cultivation.  Sufficiently indulged in, it will make a man educated, a wit, a poet, an ironist, a philosopher, a gentleman, a better Christian (not to dwell upon improving his digestion and prolonging his life).  And, too, like true Shandyism “it opens the heart and the lungs.”  Whoso hath ears, let him hear!  Once and for all, if the mad world did but know it, the best, the most exquisite automobile is a walking-stick; and one of the finest things in life is going a journey with it.

No one, though (this is the first article to be observed), should ever go a journey with any other than him with whom one walks arm in arm, in the evening, the twilight, and, talking (let us suppose) of men’s given names, agrees that if either should have a son he shall be named after the other.  Walking in the gathering dusk, two and two, since the world began, there have always been young men who have time to one another plighted their troth.  If one is not still one of these, then, in the sense here used, journeys are over for him.  What is left to him of life he may enjoy, but not journeys.  Mention should be made in passing that some have been found so ignorant of the nature of journeys as to suppose that they might be taken in company with members, or a member, of the other sex.  Now, one who writes of journeys would cheerfully be burned at the stake before he would knowingly underestimate women.  But it must be confessed that it is another season in the life of man that they fill.

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