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From Paddington to Penzance The record of a summer tramp from London to the Land's End

From Paddington to Penzance
The record of a summer tramp from London to the Land's End
Title: From Paddington to Penzance The record of a summer tramp from London to the Land's End
Release Date: 2019-02-17
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
Count views: 73
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By the Author of the Present Volume.

Demy 8vo, cloth extra, 16s.


With a Photogravure Frontispiece and Ninety Illustrations.

“The revived interest in our long-neglected highways has already produced a considerablecrop of books descriptive of English road life and scenery, but few have been more attractivethan this substantial volume. The author has gathered together a great deal of amusingmatter, chiefly relating to coaching and life on the road in the days of George IV., wherewithto supplement his own personal observations and adventures. He wields a clever penon occasion—witness his graphic sketch of the ‘ungodly tramp’ whom he met betweenMerstham and Crawley. The book, in brief, is inspired by a genuine love of the road andall its associations, past and present, animate and inanimate. Its ninety illustrations,partly sketches made by the author on the way, and partly reproductions of old-time picturesand engravings, will add greatly to its attractions.”—Daily News.

“This is a book worth buying, both for the narrative and the illustrations. The formeris crisp and lively, the latter are tastefully chosen and set forth with much pleasing andartistic effect.”—Scottish Leader.

“The Brighton Road was merry with the rattle of wheels, the clatter of galloping horses,the bumpers of hurrying passengers, the tipping of ostlers, the feats of jockeys and ‘whips’and princes, the laughter of full-bosomed serving-wenches, and the jokes of rotund landlords,and all this Mr. Harper’s handsome and picturesque volume spreads well before its readers.To the author, Lord Lonsdale, with his great feat on the road between Reigate and Crawley,is the last of the heroes, and the Brighton Parcel Mail is the chief remaining glory of whatwas once the most frequented and fashionable highway of the world. As Mr. Harper sadlysays, ‘the Brighton of to-day is no place for the travel-worn;’ but, with his book in hand,the pedestrian, the horseman, the coachman, or the cyclist, may find the road that leads toit from town one of the most interesting and entertaining stretches of highway to be foundanywhere.”—Daily Chronicle.

“Space fails us to mention the many sporting events that have been decided upon, ornear, the Brighton Road. They are duly recorded in this lively volume.... An old writer,speaking of Brighton shore, talks of the ‘number of beautiful women who, every morning,court the embraces of the Watery God;’ but these Mr. Harper found wanting, so he fledto Rottingdean.”—Spectator.

“This handsome book on the Brighton Road should be attractive to three classes in particular—thosewho like coaching, those who enjoy cycling, and the ‘general reader.’”—Globe.

“A pleasant gossiping account of a highway much trodden, ridden, driven, and cycled bythe Londoner; a solid and handsome volume, with attractive pictures.”—St. James’s Gazette.

“The Brighton Road is the classic land, the Arcadia, of four-in-hand driving. An ideallysmooth, hard, high road, with no more of uphill and down than a coach could travel over ata canter going up, and at a rattling trot, with the skid on, going downhill, it was a road thatevery sporting Londoner knew by heart, and many a London man and woman who carednothing for sport.... The ancient glories of the road live for the author, and when hewalks along the highway from London to Brighton, he seems to tread on holy ground. Hewould never have written so pleasant a book as ‘The Brighton Road’ had he been less ofan idealist. He has, however, other qualifications for bookmaking besides a delight incoaching and its ancient palmy days. Something of an archæologist, he can speak learnedlyof churches, both as ecclesiologist and artist, and has an eye for the human humours as wellas the picturesque natural beauties of the road. His book is enriched with over ninety goodillustrations, mainly from his own hand. Add to this, that Mr. Harper writes Englishpleasantly and well, with thorough love for and knowledge of his subject, and the reader ofthis review will see that ‘The Brighton Road’ that I am inviting him to buy or borrow isa thoroughly honest, good, and readable book.”—Black and White.




From Paddington
To Penzance




Done chiefly with a Pen



To General Hawkes, C.B.

My Dear General,

Although we did not tour together,you and I, there is none other than yourself towhom I could so ardently desire this book to beinscribed—this by reason of a certain happeningat Looe, and not at all for the sake of anything youmay find in these pages, saving indeed that themoiety of them is concerned with your county ofCornwall.

I have wrought upon this work for many months,in storm and shine; and always, when this crowdedhive was most dreary, the sapphire seas, the blandairs, the wild moors of that western land have presentedthemselves to memory, and at the same timehave both cheered and filled with regrets one whoworks indeed amid the shoutings and the tumults ofvithe streets, but whose wish is for the country-side.You reside in mitigated rusticity; I, in expiationof some sin committed, possibly, in by-past cycles andprevious incarnations, in midst of these roaringmillions; and truly I love not so much company.

Yours very faithfully,



Before I set about the overhauling of my notesmade on this tour—afoot, afloat, awheel—fromLondon to Land’s End, I confided to an old friendmy intention of publishing an account of these wanderings.Now, no one has such a mean idea of one’scapacities as an old friend, and so I was by nomeans surprised when he flouted my project. Ihave known the man for many years; and as thedepth of an old friend’s scorn deepens with time,you may guess how profound by now is his distrustof my powers.

“Better hadn’t,” said he.

“And why not?” said I.

“See how often it has been done,” he replied.“Why should you do it again, after Elihu Burritt,after Walter White, and L’Estrange, and those otherswho have wearied us so often with their dull recordsof uneventful days?”

“I do it,” I said, “for the reason that poets writeviiipoetry, because I must. Out upon your Burrittsand the rest of them; I don’t know them, and don’twant to—yet. When the book is finished, then theyshall be looked up for the sake of comparison; atpresent, I keep an open mind on the subject.”

And I kept it until to-day. I have just returnedfrom a day with these authors at the BritishMuseum, and I feel weary. Probably most of themare dead by this time, as dead as their books, andnothing I say now can do them any harm; so let mespeak my mind.

First I dipped into the pages of that solemnYankee prig, Burritt, and presently became boggedin stodgy descriptions of agriculture, and long-drawnparallels between English and American husbandry.Stumbling out of these sloughs, one comesheadlong upon that true republican’s awkward rapturesover titled aristocracy. The rest is all awelter of cheap facts and interjectional essays inthe obvious.

Then I essayed upon Walter White’s “LondonersWalk to the Land’s End”—horribly informative,and with an appalling poverty of epithet. Thisdreadful tourist was used (he says) to sing andrecite to the rustics whom he met.

“’Tis a dry day, master,” say the thirsty countrymento him; while he, heedless of their artful formula,calls not for the flowing bowl, but strikes an attitude,and recites to them a ballad of Macaulay’s!

And yet those poor men, robbed of their beer,applauded (says our author), and, like Oliver Twist,asked for more.

ixThen an American coach-party had driven overpart of our route, following the example of “AnAmerican Four-in-Hand in Britain,” by CitizenCarnegie. Indeed, we easily recognise the Citizenagain, under the name of Mæcenas, among thisparty, which produced the “Chronicle of the Coach.”

The same Americanese pervades both books; thesame patronage of John Bull, and the same laudationof those States, is common to them; but for choice, theCitizen’s own book is in the viler taste. Both jigthrough their pages to an abominable “charivari”of their own composing, an amalgam of “YankeeDoodle” and the “Marseillaise,” one with (renegadeScot!) a bagpipe “obbligato.”

They anticipate the time when we shall be blessedwith a Republic after the model of their own adoptedcountry; the Citizen (I think) commonly wears acap of liberty for headgear, and a Stars and Stripesfor shirt. This last may possibly be an error ofmine. But at any rate I should like to see him tuckingin the tails of such a star-spangled banner.

These were the works which were to forbid anewer effort at a book aiming at the same destination,but proceeding by an independent route, and(as it chanced) written upon different lines—writtenwith what I take to be a care rather for personalimpressions than for guide-book history.

We won to the West by no known route, butfollowed the inclinations of irresponsible tourists,with a strong disinclination for martyrdom on dustyhighways and in uninteresting places. This, too,is explanatory of our taking the train at certainxpoints and our long lingering at others. If, unwittinglyor by intent, I have here or there in thesepages dropped into history, I beg your pardon, I’msure; for all I intended was to show you personalimpressions in two media, pictures and prose.


London, October 1893.



Leaving London—The Spirit of the Silly Season—An Unimportant Residuum—The Direct Road—And the Indirect—To Richmond by Boat 1–5
Radical Richmond and its Royal Memories—The Poets’ Chorus—The Social Degradation implied by Tea and Shrimps—No Water at Richmond 6–9
Rural Petersham—The Monuments of Petersham Church—Ham House—Beer, Beauty, and the Peerage—The Earls of Dysart and their Curious Preferment—Village Hampdens and Litigation—Ham and the Cabal—Horace Walpole and his Trumpery Ghosts—Kingston—The Dusty Pother anent Coway Stakes—The Author “drops the Subject”—The King’s Stone—The Reader is referred to the Surrey Archæological Society, and the Tourists pursue their Journey—The Philosophy of the Thames—To Shepperton 9–17
Windsor and Eton—The Terrific Keate—Persuasions of Sorts—Bray and its Most Admirable Vicar—Taplow Bridge—Boulter’s Lock—Cookham 17–23
An Indignant Man—Advantages of Indignation and a Furious Manner—Al fresco Meals—Medmenham Abbey—Those unkind Topographers—The Hell Fire Club—From Hambledon to Henley 23–28
Regatta Island—Its Shoddy Temple—The Preposterous Naiads and River Nymphs of the Eighteenth Century Poets—Those Improper Creatures v. County Councils—A Poignant Individual—Mary Blandy, the Slow Poisoner 28–33
Picturesque Wargrave—The Loddon River and Patricksbourne—Sonning—A Typical Riverside Inn—Filthy Kennet Side—Reading
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