Author: Kenneth Grahame
Release Date: March, 2004 [EBook #5319] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on June 30, 2002]
Character set encoding: ASCII
*** Start of the project gutenberg EBOOK, pagan papers ***
Pagan Papers was first published in 1893 and the text is in the public domain. This is a reprint of the first American edition of 1898. The transcription was done by William McClain email@example.com, 2002.
A printed version of this book is available from Sattre Press, http://pagan_papers.sattre-press.com/. It includes a glossary of French and Latin phrases.
The Romance of the Road
Among the many places of magic visited by Pantagruel and his company during the progress of their famous voyage, few surpass that island whose roads did literally ``go’’ to places — ``ou les chemins cheminent, comme animaulx’’: and would-be travellers, having inquired of the road as to its destination, and received satisfactory reply, ``se guindans’’ (as the old book hath it — hoisting themselves up on) ``au chemin opportun, sans aultrement se poiner ou fatiguer, se trouvoyent au lieu destiné.’’
The best example I know of an approach to this excellent sort of vitality in roads is the Ridgeway of the North Berkshire Downs. Join it at Streatley, the point where it crosses the Thames; at once it strikes you out and away from the habitable world in a splendid, purposeful manner, running along the highest ridge of the Downs a broad green ribbon of turf, with but a shade of difference from the neighbouring grass, yet distinct for all that. No villages nor homesteads tempt it aside or modify its course for a yard; should you lose the track where it is blent with the bordering turf or merged in and obliterated by criss-cross paths, you have only to walk straight on, taking heed of no alternative to right or left; and in a minute ’tis with you again — arisen out of the earth as it were. Or, if still not quite assured, lift you your eyes, and there it runs over the brow of the fronting hill. Where a railway crosses it, it disappears indeed — hiding Alpheus-like, from the ignominy of rubble and brick-work; but a little way on it takes up the running again with the same quiet persistence. Out on that almost trackless expanse of billowy Downs such a track is in some sort humanly companionable: it really seems to lead you by the hand.