Walking-Stick Papers eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 215 pages of information about Walking-Stick Papers.

They are too personal for the high enjoyment of going a journey.  They must be forever thinking about you or about themselves; with them everything in the world is somehow tangled up in these matters; and when you are with them (you cannot help it, or if you could they would not allow it), you must be forever thinking about them or yourself.  Nothing on either side can be seen detached.  They cannot rise to that philosophic plane of mind which is the very marrow of going a journey.  One reason for this is that they can never escape from the idea of society.  You are in their society, they are in yours; and the multitudinous personal ties which connect you all to that great order called society that you have for a period got away from physically are present.  Like the business man who goes on a vacation from business and takes his business habits along with him, so on a journey they would bring society along, and all sort of etiquette.

He that goes a journey shakes off the trammels of the world; he has fled all impediments and inconveniences; he belongs, for the moment, to no time or place.  He is neither rich nor poor, but in that which he thinks and sees.  There is not such another Arcadia for this on earth as in going a journey.  He that goes a journey escapes, for a breath of air, from all conventions; without which, though, of course, society would go to pot; and which are the very natural instinct of women.

The best time for going a journey (a connoisseur speaks it) is some morning when it has rained well the day or night before, and the soil of the road, where it is not evenly packed, is of about that substance of which the fingers can make fine “tees” for golfing.  This is the precise composition of earth and dampness underfoot most sympathetic to the spine, the knee sockets, the muscles, tendons, ligaments of limb, back, neck, breast and abdomen, and the spirit of locomotion in the ancient exercise of walking.  On this day the protruding stones have been washed bald in the road; the lines and marks of drainage are still clearly, freshly defined in the soil; in the gutters light-coloured sand has risen to the surface with the dark moist soil in a grained effect not unlike marbled chocolate cake; and clean, sweet gravel is laid bare here and there in the wagon ruts.  This is the chosen time for the nerves and senses.  On such a day the whole world greets one cleansed and having on a fresh bib-and-tucker.  It is a conscious pleasure to have eyes.  It is as if one long near-sighted without knowing it had suddenly been fitted with the proper spectacles.  It is sweet to have olfactories.  Whoso hath lungs, let him breathe.  Man was made to rejoice!

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Walking-Stick Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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