Frederick Law Olmsted.

Walks and talks of an American farmer in England online

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and then, and a crowd. I would hardly have known, from any
thing to be seen, that I was not entering some large town in our
own country, which I had never visited before. Indeed, it's quite
like coming down the Bowery.

People were looking up ; following the direction of their eyes,
we saw a balloon ascending. The air was calm, and it rose to a
great height greater, says the Times this morning, than any
ever reached before.

A shrill cry in the distance, rising faintly above the rumble of
the wheels and hum and patter of the side-walks, grows rapidly
more distinct, until we distinguish, sung in a high key, "Strawber-
rie Sixpenny-pottle. Who'll buy ? " The first of " London cries."

We have been walking steadily, in a nearly straight line, for
two hours, and now the crowd thickens rapidly until it is for a
moment at the fullest Broadway density. There is a long break
in the brick-house fronts, and we turn aside out of the crowd and



348 AN AMERICAX FARMER IX EXGLAXD.

halt to take an observation. We are leaning over the parapet of
Blackfriar's Bridge. The Thames looks much as I had sup-
posed ; something wider than our travelers usually represent it,
hardly an " insignificant stream" even to an eye accustomed to
American rivers, but wide enough and deep enough and strong
enough to make bridges of magnificence necessary to cross it, and
answering all the requirements needed in a ship-canal passing
through the midst of a vast town. A strong current setting up-
ward from the sea gurgles under the arches ; heavy coal-barges
slowly sweep along with it ; dancing, needle-like wherries shoot
lightly across it, and numerous small, narrow steamboats, crowded
with passengers, plow white furrows up and down its dark
surface.

Upon the bank opposite almost upon the bank, and not dis-
tant in an artist's haze stand blackened walls and a noble old
dome, familiar to us from childhood. It is only nearer, blacker,
and smaller wofully smaller than it has always been. We do
not even think of telling each other it is SAINT PAUL'S.

There is a low darkness, and the houses and all are sooty in
streaks, but there is a pure so far as our lungs and noses know
pure, fresh, cool breeze sweeping up the river, and overhead a
cloudless sky ; and in the clear ether, clear as Cincinnati's, there
is a new satellite beautiful as the moon's daughter. It is the
balloon, now so high that the car is invisible ; and without any
perceptible motion it blushes in golden sunlight, while we have
been some time since left to evening's dusk.
" The crowd tramps behind us. We turn and are sucked into
the channel, which soon throws us out from the bridge upon a
very broad street ; up this, in a slackening tide, we are still un-
resistingly carried, for it is Ixmdon, and that was what we were
looking for ; and for awhile we allow ourselves to be absorbed in
it without asking what is to become of us next.



A PILGRIMAGE. 349



CHAPTER LIL

A Pilgrimage.

TI7HILE in London, I was one day visiting a library, when
the friend who conducted me called my attention to a series
of shelves, saying, "here are topographical and genealogical
records, arranged under the head of counties is yours an Eng-
lish name ? I have never seen it in England."

"Yes, I believe it is at least our family came to America
from England."

" From what part do you know?"

" Essex, I've heard it said."

" When," said he, taking down a book.

"1630 to 40."

" Yes, here it is Manor of Olmsted, in Bumpstead Helens,
Thaxstead ; passed out of the family near the end of sixteenth
century. Maurice de, married, and-so-forth. A moated grange,
now belongs to College, Cambridge. Where's the Ord-
nance map of Essex? Here. Let's see Thaxstead Olm-
sted Hall; yes, here it is only about six miles from a station.
Better go out there and see it, hadn't you ? You can do it in
half a day easily enough."

The next day I went; traveling half an hour by rail, and then



350 AN AMERICAN FARMER IX EXGLAXD.

taking a chaise, by which a drive of six miles brought me to a
small hamlet with a small and ruinous church in a very ancient
graveyard. I inquired for the parish clerk and found him, a
cobbler, at his work. The records were locked up at the curate's
and the curate was away. Did any one live hereabouts of the
name of Olmsted ? Xo. Did he ever know any one of that
name? No; no man there was the old hall farm. "What
hall ? Olmsted Hall they called it. Why ? He did not know.

I asked to be directed to it and found it difficult of access, by
narrow parish roads and farm lanes.

It proved to be a large, low and very common-place sort of
farm-house of stone, in the midst of a level wheat farm of 200
acres. It belonged to one of the Cambridge colleges, and the
family of the present tenant had occupied it for several genera-
tions. They received me kindly, and when I told them my
name, with some little excitement and manifestation of respect,
as if I had rights in the house. " Come into the old hall, sir,"
they said, taking me to the largest room a low room, about 20
feet by 20, with a single low window nearly occupying one side,
and a monstrous old fire-place, now bricked up for a coal grate,
another.

" This is the old hall."

" Why do you call it the hall?"

" It always was called so. I suppose it's because they used to
hold courts here, sir. The house used to be moated all around,
but they filled up the moat in front when that lane was built ;
that was in my father's time."

The moat still remained around the garden, a deep ditch with
a low earth wall, on which grew an old hedge. At one corner
of the house was a yew tree, certainly several hundred years old.
This house, as is a matter of record, was occupied by the Ohn-
steds for more than two hundred years before the Puritan emi-



A PILGRIMAGE. 351



gration. After that period I could find nothing of them in
England.

I have given this account, because the incident is so character-
istic of an American's visit to England, as well as because it shows
what an historic interest may attach to any old farm-house in
England. I once afterwards entered a cottage in Lincolnshire
where a child was playing with what appeared to be an old iron
pot, but which proved, upon examination, to be a helmet. The
father, a clod-hopping yeoman, said it had been worn in France
by some one of his forefathers. He had a horse-rug that came
down to him with it. This he brought upon my asking to see it
a quilted horse cover, once elaborately embroidered. Since these
things came back from some war in France, hundreds of years
ago, they had always remained in this house, which, with. some
forty acres of land around it, he had inherited. He did not live
very well, but his land was yet unincumbered, and he hoped his
son might be a "yeoman-farmer" after him.

But it is a melancholy thing that there are so few yeoman
now in England ; that is, farmers owning the land they till, and
independent of landlords.



APPENDIX.



[A.]

Information and Advice for those wishing to make a Pedestrian Tour in
England, at the least practicable expense.

A YOUNG man with small means, and who is willing to
"rough it," wishes to know with how little money it would
be practicable for him to undertake a trip to England. I have
no doubt there are many such who would visit the Old World if
they were aware how cheaply and pleasantly they could do so.
I have heretofore expressed my own obligation to Bayard Tay-
lor, and it is probable that what I shall have to say will be, to
some extent, a repetition of the instructions given in a chapter
upon the subject in the later editions of the "Views a-Foot." It
will, however, have more especial reference to traveling on foot
in England.

The Passage. There are no regular arrangements made in
the packet-ships for those who wish to go to England decently
and in tolerable comfort at a moderate price. It will be with
more or less difficulty, according as freights are active or dull,
that you may obtain a proper "second cabin passage and found."
You stand the best chance to do so in the London lines. A
special arrangement with the Captain is necessary. A party of
three or four may at almost any time, by application to the Cap-
tain shortly before a ship sails, engage a state-room, provide
themselves with stores, and hire their cooking done, etc.; so
23 (353)



354 APPENDIX.



that the passage shall cost them but from twenty to thirty dollars.
With good messmates, good catering, a liberal gratuity to the
cook, steward or ship's servant that waits upon you, and in a dean
ship, you may make the passage in this way more agreeably than
in any other ; more so than in the first cabin at four times the
expense. The price of the regular first-cabin passage out is $90.
In the steerage, you pay $10 to $12 for a mere sleeping place,
provide yourself with stores, cook for yourself, or hire some fel-
low-passenger, who does not suffer equally from sea-sickness, to
cook for you. You must provide yourself with bedding, cooking
utensils, etc. It will cost you about $20. Secure, if possible,
an upper berth, near the hatchway ; be provided with an abund-
ance of old clothes ; look out for pilferers ; spend an hour each
morning in sweeping and keeping clean the steerage ; nurse the
sick ; take care of the women and children ; and keep the deck
all the time that you otherwise can. You will probably be very
miserable, but it will be over after a while ; you will have seen
a peculiar exhibition of human nature, and will go ashore with a
pleasure not to be imagined. You can go to Liverpool or Glas-
gow by the screw-steamers (second cabin and found), decently
and quickly, for from $50 to $75. The same by the mail-steam-
ers, not so comfortably but more quickly. Most disagreeably,
but soon over with, in the steerage of some of the steamers for
340.

Returning. You have the same (and rather increased second
cabin accommodations by the London packets), at about 10 per
cent, higher prices. You can live comfortably for two months,
and see "the lions" in Paris or London, for the difference be-
tween the first and second cabin fare out and home.

Our Expenses for board and bed, while in the country in Eng-
land, averaged seventy-five cents a-day. Expenses of short con-
veyance by rail, coach and boat ; fees to showmen and guides ;
washing, postage and incidentals (properly included as traveling
expenses), added to this, made our average expenses about one
dollar a-day each. How we fared, and with what degree of com-
fort or luxury we were content, the reader should have already
been informed. I have, however, dwelt more upon the agreeable
than the disagreeable side of such traveling. We often, on enter-
ing a town, looked from one inn to another, in doubt which to
select, desiring to avoid unnecessary expense, while we secured
quiet and cleanliness. Sometimes we would enter a house and
usk to see the rooms and know the charges. No offense was



APPENDIX. 355



ever taken at this, though once or twice, where we were going
to spend a Sunday, and the rooms were not agreeable, or con-
venient to write in, we proceeded further. We soon, however,
were able to guess very well the character of a house by its out-
side appearance, and could regulate our disbursements with great
exactness.

Inns. The great difference between the large "first-class"
inns and the second and third class is, that in the latter the
lodgers are so few that one or two servants can take the place of
three or four at the former. Frequently the landlord may be
porter and Boots, (and will act as guide commissionaire or cice-
rone /) the mistress, cook ; and their daughter, waiter and cham-
bermaid. In such cases, generally, no servant's fees at all are
expected, and at most a third or half of what is honestly due the
servants of the stylish inn will be satisfactory. The small inns
are really often more comfortable to the pedestrian than the large
ones ; because he can be more at his ease ; need not care how he
appears; can wheel the sofa up to the fire or open all the win-
dows ; dine in his slippers, and smoke, if he likes, in the parlor :
take command of the house, in short : see for himself that his
shoes are greased and his linen washed and drying, his knapsack-
straps repaired, lost buttons replaced, and all his rig a-taunto for
an early start without delays in the morning.

If you call for anything for your table that the house is not
provided with, it will be at once procured from the shops ; the
cooking is generally good, and the bread always fine. We
usually contented ourselves with one hot meal in a day. Two of
us were without the habit of drinking tea or coffee, and would
often make our breakfast of bread and milk ; lunch on bread and
cheese and beer, and take a substantial meal at the end of our
day's walk. We thought we walked better with this arrange-
ment than any other.

For less than seventy cents a-day it is possible to travel in Eng-
land without hardship or injury to health. For how much less I
cannot say. I once stopped alone at a house where I dined with
the family on boiled bacon and potatoes and a bag-pudding, for
which I was charged six-pence ; breakfasted on scalded milk and
bread for twopence; and was asked sixpence in advance for
lodging. I had a good, clean bed and washing conveniences in
my room. Add to this twopence for tea, and the day's living is
33 cents. This was in the north of England, and was extraor-
dinary. The usual charge for lodging is a shilling, sometimes



356 APPENDIX.



ninepence, and sometimes only sixpence. At the first-class inns
they will make you pay well in one way or another. Where we
did not dine we have been charged threepence each for the use
of the public room, that is to say, for sitting in it instead of out-
of-doors or in our rooms, while waiting for tea to be prepared.
With regard to servants, the best way is to ask the landlord to
pay them and charge it in the bill. It relieves you of a great
annoyance, and in such cases we never found the charge added
extravagant.

Equipment. Shoes can be obtained much cheaper in England
than America, and, indeed, first-rate shoes are hardly to be had
in America ; but English shoes, that you would have to buy at
the shops, always have a seam across the instep that is very hard
upon a foot unaccustomed to it ; and for this reason, and to insure
a shape to suit you, you had best get them made at home. The
leather should be well-tanned and dressed thick kip or cowhide,
the best than can be procured; the soles of "English bend,"
three-eights of an inch in thickness; double this in the heel,
which should come so far forward that the break will be perpen-
dicular with the point of the ankle. Give your order, if possible,
six months beforehand (I never have known a shoemaker who
would get his work done when he promised for any considera-
tion), and go to the workman yourself to make sure that he un-
derstands what you want, otherwise you will probably receive,
just as you are going on board ship, a parcel by express contain-
ing a pair of butterfly pumps. Have a distinct agreement that
they shall be returned if they do not come in time, and if they
do not answer to your order. They should be high enough (6|
inches, including heel, commonly) to well cover the ankle, and
lace up with but two crossings over the instep. The laces must
be made of the best leather, and you should carry half-a-dozen
spare ones.

If, finally, the shoes are not large enough to go easily over
two woolen socks on your foot, reject them. Get shaker woolen
socks of an exact fit to your foot, or as large as they may be with-
out danger of folding or rubbing into welts under your shoes.
Wear them with the "wrong side" outward. You do not want
to wear them double, but your feet will swell so in a long hot
day's walk, that you will want that there should have been room
enough in your shoes for them to be double before you started.
Break your shoes in on the passage.

Gaiters are w r orn to protect the feet from dust and gravel com-



APPENDIX. 357

ing over the top of the shoe. They increase the heat of the feet
to that degree that they are best dispensed with. Bathe your
feet at every convenient opportunity on the road, and always as
soon as you stop for the night, and change your socks and put on
slippers.

I took all these precautions and yet suffered a thousand times
more, and was delayed more, from foot-soreness than from fatigue.
English pedestrians and sportsmen often wear much heavier and
clumsier shoes than I have advised.

Knapsack. We had the India-rubber army knapsack, made
at Naugatuck, Connecticut. If you get them well "seasoned,"
so that they will not stick or smell, and with a good harness, they
will probably be the best that you can procure. Ours were so,
and we found them convenient and to wear well.

Clothing you can get in England better than at home. You
must dispense with everything not absolutely essential to your
comfort ; for every ounce is felt in a hot day. "We carried in our
knapsacks each about as follows :

Four shirts, one pair cloth pantaloons, two pair socks ; slippers,
handkerchiefs, mending materials, toilet articles, towel, napkin,
leather drinking-cup, cap, oil-silk cape, portfolio with writing and
sketching materials, knife and fork, candle of tallow (that it may
be used to grease shoes with upon occasion), matches, a book,
map, pocket-compass, adhesive plaster, cord, shoe-lacings.

Everything selected with care for lightness and compactness,
and the whole weighing ten pounds and a-half, including knapsack
and straps. We wore upon the road light cloth coats and waist-
coats, and linen dusters or blouses, and light cassimere pantaloons.
We each carried a strong, hooked hickory-stick, and it will be
found best to do so. We usually wore broad-brimmed, pliable
felt hats of the best quality ; they were excellent both in sun and
rain. We also had light linen caps.

For rainy weather a cape of the best black oiled silk, 22 inches
long before, and 16 inches behind, with a low collar, and button-
ing in front, weighing half-a-pound, and folding so small that it
could be carried in a coat pocket a capital and serviceable
article. With a loop and a tape it may be gathered tight at the
waist under the knapsack, so as not to be lifted by the wind.

A. flash for drink is hardly worth its carriage in England. A
man every way in health should be able to walk a dozen miles
or more without wanting to drink. Where good water is con-
stantly to be had, it is refreshing to taste it very frequently, and



358 APPENDIX.



there are no ill effects to be apprehended from doing so. You
will perspire more freely, and I think stand the heat better ; but
cold water will not quench thirst, except momentarily ; on the
contrary, I believe it increases it. Malt liquors and spirituous
liquors have different effects upon different individuals. Both
are disagreeable to me. Most English pedestrians drink very
freely of malt liquors, and find them wholesome. On the Conti-
nent I would carry a flask for light wine, such as every peasant
has to his dinner. Its cost is trifling, and there is nothing which
will quench thirst like it. It is not very palatable at first, but
exceedingly refreshing, and I believe every way heathful. It
has no intoxicating, and very slight stimulating, qualities. I
think it would have an excellent effect on the public health, if it
could be produced cheaply, and used as freely as tea and coffee
now are in the United States.

When you feel very much jaded with a long walk, and hardly
able to go any further, if you can swallow a cup of tea and a bit
of toast or biscuit, and pour a wine-glass of spirits into your
shoes, keeping yourself warm during the necessary short halt, you
will find yourself good for another hour or two of hard tramping.

Routes and Distances. Unless you are considerably familiar
with the language and history of a Continental nation, I would
advise you to spend most of your time in England. It is better
to study thoroughly the character of one people, and remain so
long, if possible, in their country, that you may feel as if you
had lived in it, and made yourself a part of it, than to run super-
ficially over a dozen. It is, however, much cheaper, and in many
respects more agreeable to walk in Germany than in England ;
and a true American, mingling with the peasant people, can hard-
ly fail to do them good, and have his own heart enlightened and
expanded by their spirit longing for liberty and universal affec-
tion for his country. It is of walking in England, however, that
I wish especially to speak.

Your route should be determined by your tastes and objects.
If they are as general as ours, and you design to employ the
same time in England that we did, I could advise but very slight
variation from our route.

With a week's more time, you should see more of North
Wales, (though, in general, mountain and lake country is not
England, and you can get what tourists go to those districts for
better nearer at home ;) extend your walk into Devonshire, and
keep along the south coast to Portsmouth. After visiting the



APPENDIX. 359



Isle of Wight, the old road to London, running, I believe, through
Guildford, is said to be much pleasanter than the more direct
way we came. After spending some weeks in and about Lon-
don, follow up the Thames by Henley, and as near the south
bank as you can, to Oxford then by Stratford-on-Avon, War-
wick and Kenilworth to Birmingham ; thence, according to your
interest, through the manufacturing districts, and by Chatsworth
and the Derbyshire moors to York ; thence by Fountain's Abbey,
through the curious hill-country of West Yorkshire and Lanca-
shire, into Westmoreland ; thence either north to Scotland, or by
Liverpool to Ireland, crossing afterwards to Scotland from Bel-
fast. Guide-books can be obtained in New York, by the aid of
which and a good map, you may, before you leave home, judge
how much time you will want to spend in examining various ob-
jects of interest, and ascertain distances, etc. You can thus plot
off your route and calculate the time at which you will arrive at
any particular point. Guide-books are expensive and heavy, and
this is their principal use ; further, you are liable to pass through
a town and neglect to see something for which it is peculiarly
distinguished, without you have something to remind you of it.

We traveled at first at the rate of one hundred miles in six
days, at last at the rate of about two hundred ; sometimes going
forty miles, and ordinarily thirty, in a day. We usually did
thirty miles in eleven hours, one of which might be spent under
a hedge or in a wayside inn, and about one mile an hour lost in
loitering, looking at things on the wayside or talking to people
that we met ; our actual pace was just about four miles an hour.

You can start with twelve miles in a day, and calculate to
average twenty-five after the first fortnight.

If you can make anything like a harmonious noise upon any
instrument for that purpose, I would advise you to strap it on.
You will understand its value by reading the life of Goldsmith.
It will make you welcome in many a peasant circle, where you
might otherwise have been only a damper upon all naturalness
and geniality.



360 APPENDIX.



[B.]

Principles of the Mark System, framed to mix Persuasion with Punishment,
and make their effect improving, yet their operation severe. By CAPTAIN
MACHOXOCHIE. R. N., K. H v late Superintendent of the British Penal Set-
tlement at Norfolk Island.

"Our present punishments resemble everything that is most deteriorating in ordinary
life: and they deteriorate accordingly. If -we would infuse into them those impulses
which, under Providential guidance, make other forms of adversity improving, we would
make them improving also."

THE constituent elements in secondary punishment are labor
and time. Men are sentenced to hard labor for a given time :
but the time is here made to measure the labor and the first
proposal of the Mark System is, that instead of this the labor be
made to measure the time. This idea is not peculiar to it. In
his letter to Earl Grey the Archbishop of Dublin uses these
words : " The best plan, as it appears to me, would be, instead of
sentencing men to imprisonment for a certain time, to sentence
them to render a certain amount of labor. A fixed daily task
may be imposed on them, but with power to exceed this at their
own discretion, thereby shortening their period of detention.


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Online LibraryFrederick Law OlmstedWalks and talks of an American farmer in England → online text (page 26 of 27)