Travel and travellers

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
              (Chaucer, General Prologue, Canterbury Tales, 12)

Led with delight, they thus beguile the way,
Vntill the blustring storme is ouerblowne;
When weening to returne, whence they did stray,
They cannot finde that path, which first was showne,
But wander too and fro in wayes vnknowne,
Furthest from end then, when they neerest weene,
That makes them doubt, their wits be not their owne
              (Spenser, Faerie Queene, I.i.10)

Comus. What chance, good lady, hath bereft you thus?
Lady. Dim darkness and this leafy labyrinth.
Comus. Could that divide you from near-ushering guides?
Lady. They left me weary on a grassy turf.
              (Milton, A Mask (Comus), 277-80)

I struck the board, and cried, "No more.
                        I will abroad.
What? shall I ever sigh and pine?
My lines and life are free; free as the road,
Loose as the wind, as large as store.
              (Herbert, "The Collar," 1-5)

We descended into the valley [of the Mer de Glace], about three quarters of an hour after sun-rise . . . . scarcely had we gained our feet upon the ice, when we found ourselves retarded by the clefts, that opened quite across the valley. We passed a number of them with the utmost gaiety and spirit; but others soon appeared, it seemed impossible to clear; nor could we even look at them without terror. Our guides accustomed to such objects ventured over boldly, provided with a staff or pole of seven or eight feet only in length; they sprung with an amazing strength, agility, and resolution, and encouraged, and instructed us to do the same. The farther we advanced, we met with openings wider yet, as well as deeper, and where even our guides were under a necessity of taking every possible precaution. In such cases they generally placed their pole horizontally under the left arm, with the longer part of it extending backward; so that if they should not have sufficient strength to reach the farther side, they stood a chance at least to be suspended by it: one trembles at the idea only of such an accident!
              (M. T. Bourrit, A Relation of a Journey to the Glaciers in the Dutchy of Savoy, trans. C. and F. Davy (1775), pp. 105-107)

It is entertaining to observe the prudence of these animals in making their way down such dangerous rocks. They sometimes put their heads over the edge of the precipice, and examine with anxious circumspection every possible way by which they can descend, and at length are sure to fix on that which upon the whole is the best. Having observed this in several instances, I laid the bridle on the neck of my mule, and allowed him to take his own way, without presuming to controul him in the smallest degree.
              (John Moore, A View of Society and Manners in France, Switzerland, and Germany (1780), p. 207)

And now, with nerves new-brac'd and spirits cheer'd,
We tread the wilderness, whose well-roll'd walks,
With curvature of slow and easy sweep
Deception innocent give ample space
To narrow bounds.
              (Cowper, The Task (1784), Book 1: The Sofa, 341-5)

Th' elastic spring of an unwearied foot
That mounts the stile with ease, or leaps the fence,
That play of lungs, inhaling and again
Respiring freely the fresh air, that makes
Swift pace or steep ascent no toil to me
              (Cowper, The Task (1784), Book 1: The Sofa, 132-6)

I walked slowly on, without envying my companions on horseback: for I could sit down upon an inviting spot, climb to the edge of a precipice, or trace a torrent by its sound. I descended at length into the Rheinthal . . . . And here I found a remarkable difference: for although the ascending and descending was a work of some labour; yet the variety of the scenes had given me spirits, and I was not sensible of the least fatigue. . . . I arrived at Oberried, after a walk of about twelve miles, my coat flung upon my shoulder like a peripatetic by profession.
              (William Coxe, Travels in Switzerland (1789), Vol I, p. 36)

Nor am I less delighted with the show
As it unfolds itself, now here, now there,
Than is the passing Traveller, when his way
Lies through some fair region then first trod by him
(Say this fair Valley's self), when low-hung mists
Break up and are beginning to recede.
How pleased he is to hear the murmuring stream,
The many Voices, from he know not where,
To have about him, which way e'er goes,
Something on every side concealed from view,
In every quarter some things visible,
Half seen or wholly, lost and found again --
Alternate progress and impediment,
And yet a growing prospect in the main.
              (Wordsworth, Home at Grasmere, MS B, 697-709) ;

So, to a steep and difficult descent
Trusting ourselves, we wound from crag to crag,
Where passage could be won
              (Wordsworth, The Excursion, II.403-05)

I had now begun to feel that charm, which I have so often known, so often tasted upon the mountains, that vague content, that lightness of body, that agility of limb, and that serenity of mind, which are all so sweet to experience, but so difficult to paint. My steps became more rapid: at last, I could no longer wait for my companions, but, leaving them and my guide, began to climb in a straight line towards the summit of the mountain. I had soon attained it; and from the brink of a hideous precipice beheld a world beneath my feet.
              (Ramond de Carbonnières, Travels in the Pyrenees (1789), trans. F. Gold (1813), pp. 54-5)

we met two peasants who were also going to Glaris, and offered to guide us. Although this descent was dreadfully steep, yet our guides found it too smooth, and having asked us, whether our feet and hands were used to climber [sic], struck into the most terrible road that ever was trodden, a trackless path leading strait down the steepy descent of the mountain, broken by many crags along which we were forced to glide, and where the least trip would have been mortal.
              (Ramond de Carbonnières, notes to William Coxe, Travels in Switzerland (1802), Vol. I, p. 51)

Crusted with filth and stuck in mire
Dull sounds the Bard's bemudded lyre;
Natheless Revenge and Ire and Poet goad
To pour his imprecations on the road.
              (Coleridge, "Devonshire Roads" (1791), 3-6)

The dust flies smothering, as on clatter'ing wheel
Loath'd Aristocracy careers along
              (Coleridge, "Perspiration. A Travelling Eclogue" (1794), 1-2)

"These Tourists, heaven preserve us . . ."
              (Wordsworth, "The Brothers: A Pastoral Poem," (1800), 1)

Went to Chillon through scenery worthy of I know not whom; went over the Castle of Chillon again. On our return met an English party in a carriage; a lady in it fast asleep -- fast asleep in the most anti-narcotic spot in the world -- excellent! I remember, at Chamouni, in the very eyes of Mont Blanc, hearing another woman, English also, exclaim to her party, 'Did you ever see any thing more rural?' -- as if it was Highgate, or Hampstead, or Brompton, or Hayes, -- 'Rural!' quotha. -- Rocks, pines, torrents, glaciers, clouds, and summits of eternal snow far above them -- and 'rural!'
              (Byron, from Journal Letter to Augusta, September 18 1816)

                        in the crowd
They could not deem me one of such -- I stood
Among them, but not of them -- in a shroud
Of thoughts which were not their thoughts, and still could,
Had I not filed my mind, which thus itself subdued.
              (Byron, Childe Harold, Canto III (1816), 1053-57)

I should not have consented to myself these four Months tramping in the highlands but that I thought it would give me more experience, rub off more Prejudice, use [me] to more hardship, identifying finer scenes load me with grander Mountains, and strengthen more my reach in Poetry, than would stopping at home among Books even though I should reach Homer
              (Keats on his 1818 walking tour, from Letter to Bailey, 18-22 July 1818).

Keep moving! Steam, or Gas, or Stage,
Hold, cabin, steerage, hencoop's cage --
Tour, Journey, Voyage, Lounge, Ride, Walk,
Skim, Sketch, Excursion, Travel-talk --
For move you must! 'Tis now the rage,
The law and fashion of the Age.
              (Coleridge, "The Delinquent Travellers" (1824), 16-22)

The soul of a journey is liberty, perfect liberty, to think, feel, do, just as one pleases. We go a journey chiefly to be free of all impediments and of all inconveniences; to leave ourselves behind, much more to get rid of others.
              (Hazlitt, "On Going a Journey," 1822). To complete text

Coleridge has told me that he himself liked to compose in walking over uneven ground, or breaking through the straggling branches of a copsewood, whereas Wordsworth always wrote (if he could) walking up and down a straight gravel-walk, or in some spot where the continuity of his verse met with no collateral interruption.
              (Hazlitt, "My First Acquaintance with Poets," 1823)

Now travel, and foreign travel more particularly, restores to us in a great degree what we have lost. When the anchor is heaved, we double down the leaf; and for a while at least all effort is over. The old cares are left clustering round the old objects; and at every step, as we proceed, the slightest circumstance amuses and interests. All is new and strange. We surrender ourselves, and feel once again as children.
              (Samuel Rogers, "Foreign Travel," from Italy: A Poem (1830), p. 172). To complete text

The modern modes of travelling [railway] cannot compare with the old mail-coach system in grandeur and power. . . . The vital experience of the glad animal sensibilities made doubts impossible on the question of our speed; we heard our speed, we saw it, we felt it as a thrilling; and this speed was not the product of blind insensate agencies, that had no sympathy to give, but was incarnated in the fiery eyeballs of the noblest amongst brutes, in his dilated nostril, spasmodic muscles, and thunder-beating hoofs.
              (De Quincey, The English Mail-Coach: "The Glory of Motion" (rev. 1854), in Confessions, ed. M. Elwin (1956), p. 567)

Roget's Thesaurus (1911)
*indicates words whose meaning since 1911 has changed or that have become obsolete

#264 [Successive change of place.] Motion.

#266. [Locomotion by land.] Journey.

#268. Traveler.

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Document created January 3rd 1999