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Old Roads and New Roads
by William Bodham Donne
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Transcribed from the 1852 Chapman and Hall edition by David Price, ccx074@pglaf.org



OLD ROADS AND NEW ROADS.

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"MESSER LUDOVICO, DOVE AVETE COGLIATO TANTE COGLIONERIE?"

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LONDON: CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193, PICCADILLY.

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1852.

PRINTED BY JOHN EDWARD TAYLOR, LITTLE QUEEN STREET, LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS.



PREFACE.

GENTLE READER,

If you look to move through this little volume in a direct line, after the present fashion of Railway Travelling, you will be signally disappointed. Nothing can well be more circuitous than the route proposed to you, nor more eccentric than your present guide. This book aspires to the precision of neither Patterson nor Bradshaw. Let men "bloody with spurring, fiery hot with speed," consult those oracles of swiftness and rectitude of way: we do not belong to their manor. We desire to beguile, by a sort of serpentine irregularity, the occasional tedium of rapid movement. We move to our journey's end by sundry old-fashioned circuitous routes. Grudge not, while you are whirled along a New Road, to loiter mentally upon certain Old Roads, and to consider as you linger along them the ways and means of transit which contented our ancestors. Although their coaches were slow, and their pack-saddles hard as those of the Yanguesan carriers of La Mancha, yet they reached their inns in time, and bequeathed to you and me—Gentle Reader—if we have the grace to use them, many pithy and profitable records of their wayfaring. The battle is not always to the strong, nor the race to the swift: neither is the most rapid always the pleasantest journey. Horace accompanied Maecenas on very urgent business, yet he loitered on the way, and confesses his slackness without shame—

"Hoc iter ignavi divisimus, altius ac nos Praecinctis unum: minus est gravis Appia tardis."

It was, he says, more comfortable to take his time. Is our business more pressing than his was? It can hardly be, seeing that he wended with a company whose errand was to prevent the two masters of the world from coming to blows. In comparison with such a mission, who will put the buying of a cargo of cotton, or arriving an hour before a public meeting begins, or catching a pic-nic party just in the nick of time? St. Bernard rode from sunrise to sunset along the Lake Leman without once putting his mule out of a walk; so much delectation the holy man felt in beholding the beauty of the water and the mountains, and in "chewing the cud of his own sweet or bitter fancies." And good Michel Seigneur de Montaigne took a week for his journey from Nice to Pisa, although his horse was one of the smartest trotters in Gascony, merely for the pleasure he felt in following the by-lanes. And did not Richard Hooker receive from Bishop Jewell his blessing and his walking-staff, and yet with such poor means of speed he thought not of the weary miles between Exeter and Oxford, but trudged merrily with a thankful heart for the good oak prop, and the better blessing? Much less content with his journey was Richard when he rode to London on a hard-paced nag, that he might be in time to preach his first sermon at St. Paul's. And was not this, the hastier of his journeys, the most unlucky in his life, seeing that it brought him acquainted with that foul shrew, Joan, his wife, who made his after-days as bitter to him, patient and godly though he were, as wormwood and coloquintida? Are not these goodly examples, Christian and Heathen? Let the Train rush along, you and I will travel at our own pace.

Neither shall you, if you will be ruled by your present guide, saunter along the roads of Britain alone, or on known and extant ways only. Are there not roads which never paid toll, roads in the waste, roads travelled only in vision, roads once traversed by the feet of myriads, yet now overgrown by the forest, or buried deeply in the marsh? Shall we not for awhile be surveyors of these forgotten highways, and pause beside the tombs of the kings, or consuls, or Incas, who first levelled them? The world has moved westward with the daily motion of the earth. Yet, in the far East lie the most ancient highways—whose pavements once echoed with the hurrying feet of Nimrod's outposts or the trampling of Agamemnon's rear-guard. It were well to mark how that ancient chivalry sped along their causeways.

Nor, on our devious route, shall baiting-places be wanting. Drunken Barnaby stayed not oftener to prove the ale than we will do:—

"AEgre jam relicto rure Securem Aldermannibury Primo petii, qua exosa Sentina, HOLBURNI ROSA Me excepit, ordine tali Appuli GRYPHEM VETERIS BAILEY: Ubi experrectum lecto TRES CICONIAS indies specto, Quo victurus, donec aestas Rure curas tollet maestas: Ego etiam et Sodales Nunc Galerum Cardinalis Visitantes, vi Minervae Bibimus ad Cornua Cervi."

Our inns may not always be found at the roadside; and we may possibly ever and anon seem to have missed the track altogether. Yet we will come into the main line in the end, and, I trust, part with kindly feelings, when the time has come for saying

SISTE VIATOR.



Contents

Introduction 1 The most Ancient Roads 2 The Assyrian Roads 4 Caligula's Whim 5 Carthaginian Roads 6 Grecian Roads 7 Roman Roads 8 Celtic and Germanic Roads 13 Roads in the Dark Ages 15 Insecurity of Travelling 16 The Norman Barons 17 Speed in Travelling 22 Caesar's Journeys 23 Fast Bishops 24 Roman Senators 25 Wolsey's Speed 26 Lord Peterborough 27 Travelling Charges 28 Petruchio's Horse 29 Cotton's Ride 32 Tour in Derbyshire 33 Speed in Travelling 37 Wakes and Fairs 39 Roman Compitalia 39 The Fairs of the East 40 Obstructions to Trade 41 Expenses and Retinues 42 Ancient Travellers 43 The Family Coach 48 A Journey to London 50 Highwaymen 53 The Boston Mail 54 Arms and the Men 55 The Decay of Beggars 56 The Mendicant Orders 57 Highway Legislation 58 Roadside Inns 59 Roadside Meals 60 Stage Coaches 61 Dangers of the Road 62 Voltaire and his Companions 63 Running Footmen 64 Out-runners 65 The Judge and the Bar 66 Road-making 67 Tolls and Turnpikes 68 Miry Roads 69 Travelling in Search of a Sister 70 Tardiness of News 72 Post Chaises 73 French Postilions 74 The Pedlar 75 The Son of Mercury 76 The Packman's Ghost 77 Wordsworth's Pedlar 78 A Coachman's Dirge 79 Compensation for Speed 80 Goodly Prospects 81 The Inns of England 82 English Innkeepers 83 English Horses 84 Old Roads of the Continent 86 Ser Brunetto 87 Roads of Italy, Spain, Portugal, and France 88 Roads of Asia 90 The March up and down 91 The Early Travellers 92 The Wilderness of Lop 94 Hebrew Travellers 94 A Jewish Road-book 96 Inns of Cathay 98 Tartar Post-houses 99 The Khan's Foot-posts 100 The Roads of the Incas 101 New Roads 104 Work and Pain 106 Work and Wages 107 Reaction and its inconveniences 108 Sydney Smith 110 Keeping Troth 111 Conclusion 112

OLD ROADS AND NEW ROADS.

We have histories of all kinds in abundance,—and yet no good History of Roads. "Wines ancient and modern," "Porcelain," "Crochet work," "Prisons," "Dress," "Drugs," and "Canary birds," have all and each found a chronicler more or less able; and the most stately and imposing volume we remember ever to have turned over was a history of "Button-making:" you saw at once, by the measured complacency of the style, that the author regarded his buttons as so many imperial medals. But of roads, except Bergier's volumes on the Roman Ways, and a few learned yet rather repulsive treatises in Latin and German, we have absolutely no readable history. How has it come to pass that in works upon civilization, so many in number, so few in worth, there are no chapters devoted to the great arteries of commerce and communication? The subject of roads does not appear even on that long list of books which the good Quintus Fixlein intended to write. Of Railways indeed, both British and foreign, there are a few interesting memorials; but Railways are one branch only of a subject which dates at least from the building of Damascus, earliest of recorded cities.

Perhaps the very antiquity of roads, and the wide arc of generations comprised in the subject, have deterred competent persons from attempting it; yet therefore is it only the more strange that incompetent persons have not essayed "this great argument," since they generally rush in, where their betters fear to tread. A history of roads is, in great measure indeed, a history of civilization itself. For highways and great cities not merely presuppose the existence of each other, but are also the issues and exponents of two leading impulses in the nature of man. Actuated by the one—the centripetal instinct—the shepherd races of Asia founded their great capitals on the banks of the Euphrates and the Ganges: impelled by the other—the centrifugal instinct—they passed forth from their cradle in the Armenian Highlands, westward as far as the Atlantic, and eastward as far as the Pacific. We have indeed indications of roads earlier than we have accounts of cities. For ages before Arcadian Evander came as a "squatter" to Mount Palatine, was there not the great road of the Hyperboreans from Ausonia to Delphi, by which, with each revolving year, the most blameless of mankind conveyed to the Dorian Sun-god their offerings? And as soon as Theseus—the organizer of men, as his name imports—had slain the wolves and bears and the biped ruffians of the Corinthian Isthmus, did he not set up a direction-post, informing the wayfarer that "this side was Peleponnesus, and that side was Ionia"? Centuries of thought and toil indeed intervened between the path across the plain or down the mountain-gorge and the Regina Viarum, the Appian Road; and centuries between the rude stone-heap which marked out to the thirsting wayfarer the well in the desert, and the stately column which told the traveller, "This is the road to Byzantium."

In the land of "Geryon's sons," the paths which scaled the sierras were attributed to the toils of Hercules. In Boeotia, at a most remote era, there was a broad carriage-road from Thebes to Phocis, and at one of its intersections by a second highway the homicide of Laius opened the "long process" of woes, which for three generations enshrouded, as with "the gloom of earthquake and eclipse," the royal house of Labdacus. We have some doubts about the nature, or indeed the existence, of the road along which the ass Borak conveyed Mahommed to the seventh heaven: but we have no grounds for questioning the fact of the great causeway, which Milton saw in his vision, leading from Pandemonium to this earth, for have not Sin and Death been travelling upon it unceasingly for now six thousand years?

From that region beyond the moon, where, according to Ariosto—and Milton also vouches for the fact,—all things lost on earth are to be found, could we evoke a Carthaginian ledger, we would gladly purchase it at the cost of one or two Fathers of the Church. It would inform us of many things very pleasant and profitable to be known. Among others it would probably give some inkling of the stages and inns upon the great road which led from the eastern flank of Mount Atlas to Berenice, on the Red Sea. This road was in ill odour with the Egyptians, who, like all close boroughs, dreaded the approach of strangers and innovations. And the Carthaginian caravans came much too near the gold-mines of the Pharaohs to be at all pleasant to those potentates: it was

—"much I wis To the annoyance of King Amasis."

But it is bootless to pine after knowledge irretrievably buried in oblivion. Otherwise we might fairly have wished to have stood beside King Nebuchadnezzar when he so unadvisedly uttered that proud vaunt which ended in his being condemned to a long course of vegetable diet. For doubtless he gazed upon at least four main roads which entered the walls of Babylon from four opposite quarters:—

"From Arachosia, from Candaor east, And Margiana, to the Hyrcanian cliffs Of Caucasus, and dark Iberian dales: From Atropatia and the neighbouring plains Of Adiabene, Media, and the south Of Susiana, to Balsara's havens."

We pass over as a mad imperial whim Caligula's road from Baiae to Puteoli, partly because it was a costly and useless waste of money and labour, and partly because that emperor had an awkward trick of flinging to the fishes all persons who did not admire his road. It was a bad imitation of a bad model—the road with which Xerxes bridled the "indignant Hellespont." Both the Hellespontine and the Baian road perished in the lifetime of their founders; while the Simplon still attests the more sublime and practical genius of Napoleon. We should have also greatly liked to watch the Cimbri and Ambrones at their work of piling up those gigantic earth-mounds in Britain and in Gaul, which, under the appellation of Devil's-dykes, are still visible and, as monuments of patient labour and toil, second only to the construction of the Pyramids.

The physiognomy of races is reflected in their public works. The warm climate of Egypt was not the only cause for the long paven corridors which ran underground from temple to temple, and conducted the Deputies of the Nomes to their sacerdotal meeting in the great Labyrinth. It was some advantage, indeed, to travel in the shade in a land where the summer heats were intense, and refreshing rains of rare occurrence; but it was a still greater recommendation to these covered ways that they enabled the priests to assemble without displaying upon the broad highway of the Nile the times and numbers of their synods. The pyramidal temples of Benares communicated by vaulted paths with the Ganges, as the chamber of Cheops communicated with the Nile. The capital of Assyria was similarly furnished with covered roads, which enabled the priests of Bel to communicate with one another, and with the royal palace, in a city three days' journey in length and three in breadth. Civilization and barbarism, indeed, in this respect met each another, and the caves of the Troglodyte AEthiopians on the western shore of the Red Sea were connected by numerous vaulted passages cut in the solid limestone, along which the droves of cattle passed securely in the rainy season to their winter stalls from the meadows of the Nile and the Astaboras.

Of the civil history of Carthage we know unfortunately but little. The colonists of Tyre and Sidon are to the ages a dumb nation. All we know of them is through the accounts of their bitter foes, the Greeks of Sicily and the Romans. It is much the same as if the only records of Manchester and Birmingham were to be transmitted to posterity by the speeches of Mr. George Frederic Young. Yet we know that the Carthaginians alone, among the nations of antiquity, made long voyages,—perchance even doubled the Cape three thousand years before Vasco de Gama broke the silence of the southern seas; and we are certain also that their caravan traffic with Central Africa and the coasts of the Red Sea passed along defined and permeable roads, with abiding land-marks of hostelry, well, and column. And we know more than this. The Romans, who jealously denied to other nations all the praise for arts or arms which they could withhold, yet accorded to the Carthaginians the invention of that solid intessellation of granite-blocks which is beheld still upon the fragments of the Appian Road. The highways which conveyed to the warehouses of Carthage the ivory, gold-dust, slaves, and aromatic gums of Central Libya ran through miles of well-ordered gardens and by hundreds of villas; and it was the ruthless destruction of these country-seats of the merchant-princes of Byrsa, which forced upon them the first and the second peace with Rome.

The Grecian roads, like the modern European highways, represented the free genius of the people: they were often sinuous in their course, and, respecting the boundaries of property, wound around the hills rather than disturb the ancient landmarks. Up to a certain point the character of the Grecian Republics was marked rather by rapid progression than by permanence. Their roads were of a less massive construction than the Roman, consisting for the most part of oblong blocks, and were not very artificially constructed, except in the neighbourhood of the great emporia of traffic, Corinth, and Athens, and Syracuse. Sparta possessed two principal military highways, one in the direction of Argolis, and another in that of Mycene; but the roads in the interior of Laconia were little better than drift-ways for the conveyance of agricultural produce from the field to the garner, or from the farm-yard to the markets of the capital and the sea-ports.

The Romans were emphatically the road-makers of the ancient world. An ingenious but somewhat fanciful writer of the present day has compared the literature of Rome to its great Viae. One idea, he remarks, possessed its poets, orators, and historians—the supremacy of the City on the Seven Hills; and Lucan, Virgil, Livy, and Tacitus, various as were their idiosyncrasies, still present a formal monotony, which is not found to the same degree in any other literature. This censure is, perhaps, as regards the literature of the Roman people, rather overstated; but it applies literally to their roads, aqueducts, and tunnels. The State was the be-all and the end-all of social life: the wishes, the prejudices, the conveniences of private persons never entered into account with the planners and finishers of the Appian Way, or the Aqueduct of Alcantara. The vineyard of Naboth would have been taken from him by a single senatus consultum, without the scruples of Ahab and without the crime of Jezebel. The Roman roads were originally constructed, like our own, of gravel and beaten stone; the surface was slightly arched, and the Macadamite principle was well understood by the contractors for the earliest of the Sabine highways, the Via Salaria {9}. But after the Romans had borrowed from Carthage the art of intessellation, their roads were formed of polygonal blocks of immense thickness, having the interstices at the angles well filled with flints, and in some instances, as at Pompeii, with wedges of iron and granite; so that they resembled on a plane the vertical face of a Cyclopean or polygonal wall. Upon the roads themselves were imposed the stately and sonorous epithets of Consular and Praetorian; and had the records of the western Republic perished as completely as those of its commercial rival, the Appian Road would have handed down to the remotest ages one of the names of the pertinacious censor of the Claudian house. To the Commonwealth, perpetually engaged in distant wars on its frontiers, it was of the utmost importance to possess the most rapid means of communicating with its provinces, and of conveying troops and ammunition. To the Empire it was no less essential to correspond easily with its vast circle of dependencies. The very life of the citizens, who, long before the age of Augustus, had ceased to be a corn-producing people, was sometimes dependent upon the facility of transit, and the rich plains of Lombardy and Gaul poured in their stores of wheat and millet, and of salted pork and beef, when the harvest of Egypt failed through an imperfect inundation of the Nile. But the convenience of travellers was as much consulted as the necessity of the subjects of Rome. A foot-pavement on each side was secured by a low wall against the intrusion or collision of wheel carriages. Stones to mount horses (for stirrups were unknown) {10} were placed at certain distances for the behoof of equestrians; and the miles were marked upon blocks of granite or peperino, the useful invention of the popular tribune Caius Gracchus. Trees and fences by the sides were cut to admit air, and ditches, like ours, carried off the rain and residuary water from the surface. The office of Curator Viarum, or Road Surveyor, was bestowed upon the most illustrious members of the Senate, and the Board of Health in our days may feel some satisfaction in knowing that Pliny the Younger once held the office of Commissioner of Sewers on the AEmilian Road. Nay, the ancients deemed no office tending to public health and utility beneath them; and after his victory at Mantinea, Epaminondas was appointed Chairman of the Board of Scavengers at Thebes.

We close this part of our subject, which must not expand into an archaeological dissertation, with the following extract from the most eloquent and learned of the English historians who have treated of Rome.

"All these cities were connected with one another and with the capital by the public highways, which, issuing from the Forum of Rome, traversed Italy, pervaded the provinces, and were terminated only by the frontiers of the empire. If we carefully trace the distance from the wall of Antoninus to Rome, and from thence to Jerusalem, it will be found that the great chain of communication, from the north-west to the south-east point of the empire, was drawn out to the length of four thousand and eighty Roman miles. The public roads were accurately divided by milestones, and ran in a direct line from one city to another, with very little respect for the obstacles either of nature or of private property. Mountains were perforated, and bold arches thrown over the broadest and most rapid streams. The middle part of the road was raised into a terrace, which commanded the adjacent country, consisted of several strata of sand, gravel, and cement, and was paved with large stones, or, in some places near the capital, with granite. Such was the solid construction of the Roman highways, whose firmness has not entirely yielded to the effect of fifteen centuries. They united the subjects of the most distant provinces by an easy and familiar intercourse; but their primary object had been to facilitate the marches of the legions; nor was any country considered as completely subdued till it had been rendered in all its parts pervious to the arms and authority of the conqueror. The advantage of receiving the earliest intelligence, and of conveying their orders with celerity, induced the emperors to establish throughout their extensive dominions the regular institution of posts. Houses were everywhere erected at the distance only of five or six miles; each of these was constantly provided with forty horses, and by the help of these relays it was easy to travel a hundred miles on a day along the Roman roads."

Wherever the Romans conquered they inhabited, and introduced into all their provinces, from Syene, "where the shadow both way falls," to the ultima Thule of the Scottish border, the germs of Latin civilization. To this imperial people England and France owe their first roads; for the drift-ways along the dykes of the Celts scarcely deserve the name. The most careless observer must have remarked the strong resemblance between the right lines and colossal structure of the Roman Viae and the modern Railroad. We have indeed arrived at a very similar epoch of civilization to that of the Caesarian era, but with adjuncts derived from a purer religion, and from more generous and expanded views of commerce and the interdependence of nations, than were vouchsafed by Providence to the ancient world.

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Roads being so essential a feature of all political communities, it might have been expected that if no other feature of Roman cultivation had survived the wreck of the Empire, the great arteries of intercourse would at least have been retained. But the works of man's hand are the exponent of his ideas; and the ideas of the Teutonic and Celtic races who divided among themselves the patrimony of the Caesars were essentially different from those entertained and embodied by Greece and Rome. The State ceased to be an organic and self-attracting body. The individual rather than the corporate existence of man became the prevalent conception of the Church and of legislators; and nations sought rather to isolate themselves from one another, than to coalesce and correspond. Moreover, the life of antiquity was eminently municipal. The city was the germ of each body politic, and the connection of roads with cities is obvious. But our Teutonic ancestors abhorred civic life. They generally shunned the towns, even when accident had placed them in the very centre of their shires or marks, and when the proximity of great rivers or the convenience of walls and markets seemed to hold out every inducement to take possession of the vacant enclosures. The castle and the cathedral became the nucleus of the Teutonic cities. Hamlets crept around the precincts of the sacred and the outworks of the secular building: but it was long before the Lord Abbot or the Lord Chatelain regarded with any feelings but disdain, the burgher who exercised his trade or exposed his wares in the narrow lanes of the town which abutted on his domains, and enriched his manorial exchequer.

In many cases indeed the Roman cities were allowed to decay: the forest resumed its rights: the feudal castle was constructed from the ruins of the Proconsul's palace and the Basilica, or if these edifices were too massive for demolition, they were left standing in the waste—the Mammoths and Saurians of a bygone civilization. The great Viae were for leagues overgrown with herbage, or concealed by wood and morass; and for the direct arms of transit which bound Rome and York together as by the cord of a bow, were substituted the devious and inconvenient highways, which led the traveller by circuitous routes from one province to another. The contrast indeed between the 'Old Road and the New' is represented in Schiller's fine image—rendered even finer in Coleridge's translation:—

"Straight forward goes The lightning's path, and straight the fearful path Of the cannon ball. Direct it flies, and rapid, Shattering that it may reach, and shattering what it reaches. My son! the road the human being travels, That on which blessing comes and goes, doth follow The river's course, the valley's playful windings, Curves round the corn-field and the hill of vines, Honouring the holy bounds of property: And thus secure, though late, leads to its end."

It was long however before much security was found on the new roads. In the dark ages the days described by Deborah the prophetess had returned. "The highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through bye-ways: the villages were deserted. Then was war in the gates, and noise of the archers in the places of drawing water." Danger and delay were often the companions of the traveller. Occasionally a vigorous ruler, like Alfred, succeeded in restoring security to the wayfarer, and proved his success (so said the legend) by hanging up, in defiance of the plunderer, golden armlets on crosses by the roadside. But these intervals of safety were few and far between, and the traveller journeyed, like Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, "in fear and dread,"

"Because he knew a fearful fiend Did close behind him tread."

The man-at-arms in the days of Border-war was a more formidable obstacle to progress than a wilderness of spectres. In the reign of Edward the Confessor the great highway of Watling Street was beset by violent men. If you travelled in the eastern counties, the chances were that you were snapped up by a retainer of Earl Godwin, and if in the district now traversed by the Great Northern Railway, Earl Morcar would in all likelihood arrest your journey, and without so much as asking leave clap a collar round your neck, with his initials and yours scratched rudely upon it, signifying to all men, by those presents, that in future your duty was to tend his swine or rive his blocks. Outlaws, dwelling in the forests or in the deep morass which girded the road, pounced upon the traveller on the causeway, eased him of his luggage if he carried any, and if there was no further occasion for his services, they either let him down easily into the next quagmire, or if they were, for those days, gentlemanly thieves, left him standing, as Justice Shallow has it, like a "forked radish," to enjoy the summer's heat or the winter's cold. The cross and escallop shell of the pilgrim were no protection: "Cucullus non fecit monachum" in the eyes of these minions of the road; or rather, perhaps, the hood gave a new zest to the wrongs done to its wearer by these "uncircumcised Philistines." Convents, the abodes of men professing at least to be peaceful, were obliged to keep in pay William of Deloraine to mate with Jock of Thirlstane: and ancient citizens were fain to put by their grave habiliments, and "wield old partisans in hands as old." There is extant an agreement made between Leofstan, Abbot of St. Albans, and certain barons, by which the Abbot agrees to hire, and the barons to let, certain men-at-arms for the security of the Abbey, and for scouring the forests. Savage capital punishments—impalement, mutilation, hanging alive in chains—were inflicted on the marauders, who duly acknowledged these attentions by yet more atrocious severities upon the wayfarers who had the ill luck to be caught by them.

The insecurity of the old roads necessarily affected the manners of the time. He should have been a hardy traveller who would venture himself "single and sole," when he might journey in company. The same cause which leads to the formation of the caravans of Africa and Asia, led to the collection of such goodly companies of pilgrims as wended their way from the Tabard in Southwark to the shrine of St. Thomas at Canterbury; and the pursuit of travelling under difficulties produced for all posterity the most delightful of the poems of the great father of English verse.

Travelling in companies, in times when it was next to impossible to be on "visiting terms with one's neighbours," tended greatly to the improvement of social intercourse, and to the erection of roomy and comfortable inns for the wayfarers. It took Dan Chaucer only a few hours to be on the best footing with the nine and twenty guests at the Tabard.

"Befelle that, in that season {18} on a day, In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay, Redy to wenden on my pilgrimage To Canterbury with devout corage, At night was come into that hostelrie Wel nine and twentie in a compagnie Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle In felawship; and pilgrimes were they alle, That toward Canterbury wolden ride. The chambres and the stables weren wide, And wel we weren esed atte beste. And shortly, whan the sonne was gone to reste So hadde I spoken with hem everich on, That I was of hir felawship anon."

But the tenants of the waste and the woodland were not the only lords of the highway. The Norman baron drew little profit from the natural produce of his ample domains. In his way he was a staunch protectionist; but he left agriculture very much to take care of itself, and looked to his tolls, his bridges, and above all to his highways, for a more rapid return of the capital he had invested in accoutring men-at-arms, squires, and archers. We know, from 'Ivanhoe,' how it fared with Saxons, Pilgrims, and Jews, whose business led them near the castles of Front de Boeuf or Philip de Malvoisin: and we are certain that the Lady of Branksome kept, an expensive establishment, who were expected to bring grist to the mill of the lord or lady of the demesne, by turning out in all weathers and at all hours, whenever a herd of beeves or a company of pilgrims were descried by the watchers from Branksome Towers. For it must have taken no small quantity of beef and hides to furnish the Branksome retainers in dinners and shoe- and saddle-leather; since—

"Nine and twenty knights of fame Hung their shields in Branksome Hall: Nine and twenty squires of name Brought them their steeds to bower from stall: Nine and twenty yeomen tall Waited duteous on them all: They were all knights of mettle true, Kinsmen to the bold Buccleugh."

When the traveller carried money in his purse, or the merchant had store of Sheffield whittles or Woodstock gloves in his pack, the lowest dungeon in the castle of the Bigods was his doom; and he was a lucky man who came out again from those crypts which now so much delight our archaeological associations, with a tithe of his possessions, or with his proper allowance of eyes, hands, and ears.

Even on the Roman roads, with their good accommodation of pavement, milestones, and towns, journeys were for the most part performed on foot or horseback. For before steel springs were invented, it was by no means pleasant to ride all day in a jolting cart—and the most gorgeous of the Roman carrucae, or coaches, was no better. Pompous and splendid indeed—to pass for a moment from Norman and Saxon barbarism—must have been the aspect of the Queen of Roads within a few leagues of the capital of the world; splendid and pompous as it was to the actual beholder, it is perhaps seen to best advantage in the following description by Milton—

"Thence to the gates cast round thine eye, and see What conflux issuing forth, or entering in; Praetors, proconsuls to their provinces Hasting or on return, in robes of state, Lictors and rods, the ensigns of their power, Legions and cohorts, turms of horse and wings; Or embassies from regions far remote, In various habits, on the Appian road, Or on the AEmilian."

As a pendant to this breathing picture oftan Old Road at the gate of the "vertex omnium civitatum," we subjoin a note from Gibbon:—

"The carrucae or coaches of the Romans were often of solid silver, curiously carved and engraved, and the trappings of the mules or horses were embossed with gold. This magnificence continued from the reign of Nero to that of Honorius: and the Appian Road was covered with the splendid equipages of the nobles who came out to meet St. Melania, when she returned to Rome, six years before the Gothic siege. Yet pomp is well exchanged for convenience; and a plain modern coach, that is hung upon springs, is much preferable to the silver and gold carts of antiquity, which rolled on the axle-tree, and were exposed, for the most part, to the inclemency of the weather." {21a}

The Anglo-Saxon generally travelled on horseback. The Jews were restricted to the ignobler mule. The former indeed had a species of carriage; and horse-litters, probably for the use of royal or noble ladies and invalids, are mentioned by Matthew Paris and William of Malmesbury. Wheel-carriages appear to have multiplied after the return of the Crusaders from Palestine—partly, it may be inferred, because increased wealth had inspired a taste for novel luxuries, and partly because the champions of the Cross had imbibed in the Holy War some of the prejudices of the infidels, and had grown chary of exposing to vulgar gaze their dames and daughters on horseback. {21b}

The speed of travelling depends upon the nature and facilities of the means of transit. Herodotus mentions a remarkable example of speed in a Hemerodromus, or running-post, named Phidippides, who in two days ran from Athens to Sparta, a distance of nearly 152 English miles, to hasten the Laconian contingent, when the Persians were landing on the beach of Marathon. Couriers of this order, trained to speed and endurance from their infancy, conveyed to Montezuma the tidings of the disembarkation of Cortes; and so imperfect were the means of communication at that era in Europe, that the Spaniards noted it as a proof of high refinement in the Aztecs to employ relays of running postmen, from all quarters of their empire to the city on the Great Lake. The speed of a Roman traveller was probably the greatest possible before the invention of carriage-springs and railways. We have some data on this head. The mighty Julius was a rapid traveller. He continually mentions his summa diligentia in his journal of the Gaulish Wars. The length of journeys which he accomplished within a given time, appears even to us at this day, and might well therefore appear to his contemporaries, truly astonishing. A distance of one hundred miles was no extraordinary day's journey for him. When he did not march with his army on foot,—as he often seems to have done, in order to set his soldiers an example, and also to express that sympathy with them which gained him their hearts so entirely—he mostly travelled in a rheda. This was a four-wheeled carriage, a sort of curricle, and adapted to the carriage of about half a ton of luggage. His personal baggage was probably considerable, for he was a man of most elegant habits, and sedulously attentive to his personal appearance. The tessellated flooring of his tent formed part of his impedimenta, and, like Napoleon, he expected to find amid the distractions of war many of the comforts and conveniences of his palace at Rome. He reached the Sierra Morena in twenty-three days from the date of his leaving Rome; and he went the whole way by land. The distance round the head of the Gulf of Genoa and through the passes of the Pyrenees is 850 leagues; and although the Carthaginians had once been masters of Spanish Navarre, the roads were far from regular or good. The same distance would now be accomplished in twelve days by a general and his mounted staff. From the usual rapidity with which the great Proconsul travelled, Cowley, in his Essay on 'Procrastination,' extracts a moral, or, as his Puritan contemporaries would have phrased it, a "pious use." "Caesar," he says, "the man of expedition above all others, was so far from this folly (procrastination), that whensoever in a journey he was to cross any river, he never went out of his way for a bridge, or a ford, or a ferry, but flung himself into it immediately, and swam over; and this is the course we ought to imitate, if we meet with any stops in our way to happiness." In the time of Theodosius, Caesarius, a magistrate of high rank, went post from Antioch to Constantinople. He began his journey at night, was in Cappadocia, 165 miles from Antioch, the ensuing evening, and arrived at Constantinople the sixth day about noon. The whole distance was 725 Roman, or 665 English miles.

Gibbon describes bishops as among the most rapid of ancient travellers. The decease of a patriarch of Alexandria or Antioch caused the death of scores of post-horses, from the rate at which anxious divines hurried to Constantinople to solicit from the Emperor the vacant see. On the whole however, in respect of speed in travelling, the Greeks and Romans were but slow coaches; and these exceptional instances merely serve to prove the general slackness of their pace. A Roman nobleman indeed, with all the means and appliances which his wealth could purchase, and with the positive advantage of the best roads in the world, travelled generally with such a ponderous train, that the heavy-armed legions with their parks of artillery might well advance as rapidly as an Olybrius or Anicius of the Empire. "In their journeys into the country," says Ammianus, "the whole body of the household marches with their master. In the same manner as the cavalry and infantry, the heavy and the light armed troops, the advanced guard and the rear, are marshalled by the skill of their military leaders; so the domestic officers who bear the rod, as an ensign of authority, distribute and arrange the numerous train of slaves and attendants. The baggage and wardrobe move in the front; and are immediately followed by a multitude of cooks and inferior ministers, employed in the service of the kitchen and of the table. The main body is composed of a promiscuous crowd of slaves, increased by the accidental concourse of idle or dependent plebeians."

At an even earlier period, in the age of Nero, before luxury had made the gigantic strides which distinguished and disgraced the Byzantine Court, Seneca records three circumstances relative to the journeys of the Roman nobility. They were preceded by a troop of Numidian light horse who announced by a cloud of dust the approach of a great man. Their baggage-mules transported not only the precious vases, but even the fragile vessels of crystal and murra, which last probably meant the porcelain of China and Japan. The delicate faces of the young slaves were covered with a medicated crust or ointment, which secured them against the effects of the sun and frost. Rightly did the Romans name their baggage impedimenta. A funeral pace was the utmost that could be expected from travellers so particular about their accommodations as these luxurious senators. Of a much humbler character was the state observed by the monarchs who succeeded to portions of the empire of the Caesars. The Merovingian kings, when they employed wheel carriages at all, rode in wains drawn by bullocks; the Bretwaldas of the Saxon kingdoms went to temple or church on high festivals in the same cumbrous fashion; and "slow oxen" dragged the standard of the Italian Republics into the battle-field.

With the disuse or breaking up of the great Roman Viae in our island, the difficulty and delay of travelling increased, and more than thirteen centuries elapsed before it was again possible to journey with any tolerable speed. Wolsey indeed, it is well known, by the singular rapidity with which he conveyed royal letters to and from Brussels, galloped swiftly up the road of royal favour: and by his fast style of living at home afterwards galloped even more swiftly down again. Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough, was noted for his incessant restlessness, and his rapid mode of passing from one land to another; but then he dispensed with all state and attendance, and rode like a post-boy from one end of Europe to another. As the readers of Pope, Swift, and their contemporaries are daily becoming fewer in number, we venture to extract the Dean's pleasant burlesque on this eccentric nobleman's migratory habits.

"Mordanto fills the trump of fame, The Christian worlds his deeds proclaim, And prints are crowded with his name.

In journeys he outrides the post, Sits up till midnight with his host, Talks politics and gives the toast;

Knows every prince in Europe's face, Flies like a squib from place to place, And travels not, but runs a race.

From Paris gazette a-la-main, This day arrived, without his train, Mordanto in a week from Spain.

A messenger comes all a-reek, Mordanto at Madrid to seek; He left the town above a week.

Next day the post-boy winds his horn, And rides through Dover in the morn; Mordanto's landed from Leghorn.

Mordanto gallops on alone; The roads are with his followers strown; This breaks a girth and that a bone.

His body active as his mind, Returning sound in limb and wind, Except some leather lost behind.

A skeleton in outward figure, His meagre corpse, though full of vigour, Would halt behind him, were it bigger.

So wonderful his expedition, When you have not the least suspicion He's with you like an apparition."

The badness of the roads and the rude forms of wheel-carriages added to the expense of travelling. A canon of Salisbury Cathedral may now travel to London at a cost which is scarcely felt by his prebendal income: but in the days of Peter of Blois the whole proceeds of a stall were inadequate to the expenses of such a journey. In the thirteenth century a bishop of Hereford was detained at Wantling by lack of money for post-horses, and but for the aid of some pious monastery or peccant baron in the neighbourhood, who seized the opportunity of compounding for his sins, the successor of the apostles must, like the apostles, have completed his journey on foot.

In the fourteenth century roads were so far improved, that jobbing horses became a regular business, and the licenses for hackneys and guides added to the returns of the exchequer. A fare of twelvepence was paid for horse-hire from Southwark to Rochester; and sixpence was the charge of conveyance from Canterbury to Dover. We do not know the rate at which the equestrians travelled. Ancient Pistol informs us that "the hollow-pampered jades of Asia could go but thirty miles a-day." But these cattle seem to have been like Jeshurun, fat and perchance kicking, and accustomed to the tardy pace of Asiatic pomp.

Shakspeare and Steele both expatiate on the casualties incident to riding upon hired horses. Petruchio and Catherine, like Dr. Samuel Johnson and Hetty, made their wedding tour on horseback; and each trip ended with a similar result—the temporary obedience of the fair brides to the marital yokes. After this fashion Grumio tells the story of the connubial ride:—"We came down a foul hill, my master riding behind my mistress." "Both on one horse?" says Curtis, apparently unacquainted with the fashion of pillions. "What's that to thee?" rejoins Grumio. "Tell thou the tale. But hadst thou not crossed me, thou shouldst have heard how her horse fell, and she under her horse; thou shouldst have heard in how miry a place; how she was bemoiled; how he left her with the horse upon her; how he beat me because her horse stumbled; how she waded through the dirt to pluck him off me; how he swore; how she prayed; how I cried; how the horses ran away; how her bridle was burst; how I lost my crupper."

That Petruchio rode a hired horse is rendered probable by the wretched character of his steed and its furniture. Hudibras or Don Quixote were not worse mounted than was the Shrew-tamer: seeing that his horse was "hipped with an old mothy saddle, the stirrups of no kindred; besides, possessed with the glanders, and like to mose in the chine; troubled with the lampass, infected with the fashions, full of wind-galls, sped with spavins, raied with the yellows, past cure of the fives, stark spoiled with the staggers, begnawn with the bots; swayed in the back and shoulder-shotten, near-legged before, and with a half-checked bit, and a headstall of sheep's leather; which, being restrained to keep him from stumbling, hath been often burst, and now repaired with knots; one girt six times pieced, and a woman's crupper of velure, here and there pieced with packthread." {30}

Steele (Tatler, No. 231) has borrowed, without any acknowledgement, from 'Taming the Shrew,' most of the circumstances of his story; yet his adoption of them shows that such a mode of travelling was still in common use in the seventeenth century. After the honey-moon was over, the bridegroom made preparations for conveying his new spouse to her future abode. But "instead of a coach and six horses, together with the gay equipage suitable to the occasion, he appeared without a servant, mounted on a skeleton of a horse which his huntsman had, the day before, brought in to feast his dogs on the arrival of their new mistress, with a pillion fixed behind, and a case of pistols before him, attended only by a favourite hound. Thus equipped, he, in a very obliging, but somewhat positive manner, desired his lady to seat herself on the cushion; which done, away they crawled. The road being obstructed by a gate, the dog was commanded to open it; the poor cur looked up and wagged his tail: but the master, to show the impatience of his temper, drew a pistol and shot him dead. He had no sooner done it, but he fell into a thousand apologies for his unhappy rashness, and begged as many pardons for his excesses before one for whom he had so profound a respect. Soon after their steed stumbled, but with some difficulty recovered; however, the bridegroom took occasion to swear, if he frightened his wife so again, he would run him through! And, alas! the poor animal, being now almost tired, made a second trip; immediately on which the careful husband alights, and with great ceremony first takes off his lady, then the accoutrements, draws his sword, and saves the huntsman the trouble of killing him: then says he to his wife, 'Child, prithee take up the saddle;' which she readily did, and tugged it home, where they found all things in the greatest order, suitable to their fortune and the present occasion." This veracious history proceeds to say that, after this practical lesson, the lady was ever remarkable for a sweet and compliant temper.

Cotton's—"cheerful hearty Mr. Cotton"—description of a post-horse may be less familiarly known to the reader than either of the preceding descriptions of the inconveniences of riding post: it describes a journey from the neighbourhood of Bakewell to Holyhead, about the year 1678.

"A guide I had got, who demanded great vails, For conducting me over the mountains of Wales: Twenty good shillings, which sure very large is; Yet that would not serve, but I must bear his charges: And yet for all that, rode astride on a beast, The worst that e'er went on three legs, I protest. It certainly was the most ugly of jades: His hips and his rump made a right ace of spades; His sides were two ladders, well spur-galled withal; His neck was a helve, and his head was a mall; For his colour, my pains and your trouble I'll spare, For the creature was wholly denuded of hair, And, except for two things, as bare as my nail,— A tuft of a mane and a sprig of a tail. Now such as the beast was, even such was the rider, With head like a nutmeg, and legs like a spider; A voice like a cricket, a look like a rat, The brains of a goose, and the heart of a cat: But now with our horses, what sound and what rotten, Down to the shore, you must know, we were gotten; And there we were told, it concerned us to ride, Unless we did mean to encounter the tide. And then my guide lab'ring with heels and with hands, With two up and one down, hopped over the sands; Till his horse, finding the labour for three legs too sore, Foled out a new leg, and then he had four. And now, by plain dint of hard spurring and whipping, Dry-shod we came where folks sometimes take shipping. And now hur in Wales is, Saint Taph be hur speed, Gott splutter hur taste, some Welsh ale hur had need: Yet surely the Welsh are not wise of their fuddle, For this had the taste and complexion of puddle. From thence then we marched, full as dry as we came, My guide before prancing, his steed no more lame, O'er hills and o'er valleys uncouth and uneven, Until, 'twixt the hours of twelve and eleven, More hungry and thirsty than tongue can well tell, We happily came to St. Winifred's well."

Cotton's ride to Holyhead was not however nearly so diversified in its adventures as a journey from Hardwick to Bakewell about the same period, described by Edward, son of Sir Thomas Browne, the worthy knight and physician of Norwich.

A tour in Derbyshire, in the year 1622, was indeed no light matter. Our ancestors were much in the right to make their wills before encountering the perils of a ride across the moors. We are constrained to abridge the author's narrative, but the main incidents of it are preserved in our transcript.

"This day broke very rudely upon us. I never travelled before in such a lamentable day both for weather and way, but we made shift to ride sixteen mile that morning, to Chesterfield in Derbyshire, passing by Bolsover Castle, belonging to the Earl of Newcastle, very finely seated upon a high hill; and missing our way once or twice, we rode up mountain, down dale, till we came to our inn, when we were glad to go to bed at noon. It was impossible to ride above two mile an hour in this stormy weather: but coming to our inn, by the ostler's help having lifted our crampt legs off our horses, we crawled upstairs to a fire, when in two hours' time we had so well dried ourselves without and liquored ourselves within, that we began to be so valiant as to think upon a second march; but inquiring after the business, we received great discouragement, with some stories of a moor, which they told us we must go over. We had by chance lighted on a house that was noted for good drink and a shovel-borde table, which had invited some Derbyshire blades that lived at Bakewell, but were then at Chesterfield about some business, to take a strengthening cup before they would encounter with their journey home that night. We, hearing of them, were desirous to ride in company with them, so as we might be conducted in this strange, mountainous, misty, moorish, rocky, wild country; but they, having drank freely of their ale, which inclined them something to their countrie's natural rudeness, and the distaste they took at our swords and pistols with which we rid, made them loth to be troubled with our companies, till I, being more loth to lose this opportunity than the other (one of which had voted to lie in bed the rest of the day), went into the room and persuaded them so well, as they were willing, not only to afford us their company, but stayed for us till we accoutred ourselves. And so we most courageously set forward again, the weather being not one whit better, and the way far worse; for the great quantity of rain that fell, came down in floods from the tops of the hills, washing down mud, and so making a bog in every valley; the craggy ascents, the rocky unevenness of the roads, the high peaks, and the almost perpendicular descents, that we were to ride down: but what was worse than all this, the furious speed that our conductors, mounted upon such good horses, used to these hills, led us on with, put us into such an amazement, as we knew not what to do, for our pace we rode would neither give us opportunity to speak with them or to consult with one another, till at length a friendly bough that had sprouted out beyond his fellows over the road, gave our file leader such a brush of the jacket as it swept him off his horse, and the poor jade, not caring for its master's company, ran away without him: by this means, while some went to get his courser for him, others had time to come up to a general rendezvous; and concluded to ride more soberly: but I think that was very hard for some of these to do. Being all up again, our light-horsed companions thundered away, and our poor jades, I think, being afraid, as well as their masters, to be left alone in this desolate wide country, made so much haste as they could after them; and this pace we rid, till we lost sight of one another. At last our leaders were so civil, when it was almost too late, to make another halt at the top of one of the highest hills thereabout, just before we were to go to the moor: and I was the last that got up to them, where, missing one of my companions who was not able to keep up with us, I was in the greatest perplexity imaginable, and desiring them to stay awhile, I rid back again, whooping and hallooing out to my lost friend; but no creature could I see or hear of, till at last, being afraid I had run myself into the same inconvenience, I turned back again towards the mountaineers, whom when I had recovered, they told me 't was no staying there, and 't were better to kill our horses than to be left in those thick mists, the day now drawing to an end: and so setting spurs to their horses, they ran down a precipice, and in a short time we had the favour to be rained on again, for at the top of this hill we were drencht in the clouds themselves, which came not upon us drop by drop, but cloud after cloud came puffing over the hill as if they themselves had been out of breath with climbing it. Here all our tackling failed, and he that fared best was wet to the skin, these rains soaking through the thickest lined cloak: and now we were encountering with the wild moor, which, by the stories we had been told of it, we might have imagined a wild bore. I am sure it made us all grunt before we could get over it, it was such an uneven rocky track of road, full of great holes, and at that time swells with such rapid currents, as we had made most pitiful shift, if we had not been accommodated with a most excellent conductor; who yet, for all his haste, fell over his horse's head as he was plunging into some dirty hole, but by good luck smit his face into a soft place of mud, where I suppose he had a mouth full both of dirt and rotten stick, for he seemed to us to spit crow's nest a good while after. Now, being forced to abate something of their speed, I renewed my acquaintance with two of our new companions, and made them understand how we had left a third man behind us, not being able to ride so fast, and how our intentions were to stay at their own town with them this night, who now overjoyed to see an old acquaintance, were so kind and loving that what with shaking hands, riding abreast, in this bad way, and other expressions of their civilities, they put me in as much trouble with their favour as before they had put me to inconvenience by their rudeness: yet, by this means, I procured them to ride so easily as I led my horse down the next steep hill, on the side of which lay a vast number of huge stones, one intire stone of them being as big as an ordinary house: some of the smaller they cut into mill-stones. Passing the river—Derwent—which then ran with the strongest current that ever I beheld any, we climbed over another hill, a mile up and a mile down, and got to Bakewell a little after it was dark."

We have a few data of the speed possible in travelling on extraordinary occasions. We select one of each kind—that of the mounted express and that of the Great Lady who kept her carriage, as the extremes, so far as regards the instruments of conveyance. For a horseman can go where a wheel-carriage cannot find a track: and on the other hand, the traveller on foot can generally choose a more direct line of movement, than is practicable for the four-footed servant of man, encumbered with his rider and his furniture.

In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the herald of the king of Scotland, who, it may be supposed, carried with him a royal mandate to be first served by the livery stables, was allowed forty days to reach the Border from London, although it appears that Robert Bruce took only seven to put the Border between himself and Gloucester. But neither Bruce nor the mother of Richard II., who came in one day from Canterbury to London, can be taken as precedents of ordinary speed. For the one had received a significant hint from some friendly courtier—a pair of spurs baked in a pie—that King Edward was in high dudgeon with him, and could not dine with either appetite or good digestion, until he had seen Bruce's head: and of the Queen dowager is it not written that "she never durst tarry on the waye," for Wat Tyler was behind her, vowing vengeance upon all principalities and powers? Howbeit her majesty was so thoroughly jolted and unsettled by the "slapping pace" at which she travelled, that she had a bilious attack forthwith, and was "sore syke, and like to die."

To the difficulty of transit on roads was owing the establishment of great annual fairs, still imperfectly represented by our Wakes, Statute-fairs, and periodical assemblages of itinerant vendors of goods. These commercial re-unions are still common in the East, and still frequent in Central Europe; although in England, where every hamlet has now happily its general shop, and where the towns rival the metropolis in the splendour of gas-lamps and the glory of plate-glass windows, such Fairs have degenerated into yearly displays of giants, dwarfs, double-bodied calves, and gorgeous works in gingerbread. To our ancestors, with their simpler habits of living, supply and demand, these annual meetings served as permanent divisions of the year. The good housewife who bought her woollens and her grocery, the yeoman who chose his frieze-coat, his gay waistcoat, and the leathern integuments of his sturdy props, once only in twelve months, would compute the events of his life after the following fashion:—"It happened three months after last Bury or Chester Fair;" or, "Please Heaven, the bullocks shall be slaughtered the week before the next Statute." Nay, dates were often extracted, in the courts of justice, by the help of such periodical memoranda. The Church of Rome, with its unerring skill in absorbing and insinuating itself into all the business or pleasures of mankind, did not overlook these popular gatherings. And if the ascetic Anthony, the sturdy Christopher, or that "painful martyr," St. Bartholomew, minded earthly matters in the regions of their several beatitudes, they must have been often more scandalized than edified by the boisterous amusements of those who celebrated their respective Feasts. In these particulars, however, Ecclesiastical Rome was merely a borrower from its elder Pagan sister. The Compitalia of ancient Rome were street-fairs dedicated to the worship of local deities, and the Thirty cities of Latium held annually, on the slope of the Alban Mount, a great fair as well as a great council of Duumviri and Decuriones. To the ancient fairs of Southern Italy we are indebted for one of our oldest and most agreeable acquaintances. The swinging puppets of the Oscans were gradually confined within a portable box, and danced or gesticulated upon a miniature stage. Their dumb-show was relieved by the extemporary jests and songs of the showman, until at length, one propitious morning, some Homer or Shakspeare of the streets conceived the sublime idea of embodying these scattered rays of satire and jest in the portly person of—Mr. Punch.

The original fair of the East and mediaeval Europe was one of the most instructive and picturesque spectacles among the many gatherings of the human race. The Great Fair of Novogorod assembled, and still continues to assemble, myriads of nearly every colour and costume: and in the market of "the Sledded Russ" the small-eyed Chinese stood side by side with the ebony-complexioned native of Guinea. Among the many pictures which Sir Thomas Browne desired to see painted was "a delineation of the Great Fair of Almachara in Arabia, which, to avoid the great heat of the sun, is kept in the night, and by the light of the moon." The worthy and learned knight does not mention the Great Fair of the Hurdwar, in the northern part of Hindostan, where a confluence of many millions of human beings is brought together under the mixed influences of devotion and commercial business, and, dispersing as rapidly as it has been evoked, the crowd "dislimns and leaves not a wrack behind." But fairs and general enterprise and opulence are not coeval: neither do they flourish in an age of iron roads and steam-carriages. In fact, they were the results of the inconvenience attendant upon travelling. It was once easier for goods to come to customers than for customers to leave their homes in search of goods. Inland trade was heavily crippled by the badness and insecurity of the highways. The carriages in which produce was conveyed were necessarily massive and heavy in their structure, to enable them to resist the roughness of the ways. Sometimes they were engulfed in bogs, sometimes upset in dykes, and generally they rolled heavily along tracks little less uneven than the roofs of houses.

As a direct result of these obstacles to speedy locomotion, the fruits of the earth, in the winter months, when the roads were broken up or flooded, were consumed by damp and worms in one place, while a few miles further on they might have been disposed of at high prices. Turf was burned in the stoves of London, long after coals were in daily use in the northern counties; and petitions were presented to the Houses of Parliament in the reign of Henry VIII., deprecating the destruction of growing timber for the supply of hearth-fuel. Nor were these miry and uneven ways by any means exempt from toll; on the contrary, the chivalry of the Cambrian Rebecca might have been laudably exercised in clearing the thoroughfares of these unconscionable barriers. It was a costly day's journey to ride through the domain of a lord abbot or an acred baron. The bridge, the ferry, the hostelry, the causeway across the marshes, had each its several perquisite. Exportation from abroad was oftener cheaper than production at home. It answered better to import cloth from Flanders than to weave and bring it from York: and land carriage from Norwich to London was nearly as burdensome as water-carriage from Lisbon. Coals, manure, grain, minerals, and leather were transported on the backs of cattle. An ambassador going or returning from abroad was followed by as numerous a retinue as if he had ridden forth conquering and to conquer. Nor were his followers merely for state or ceremony, but indispensable to his comfort, since the horses and mules which bore his suite carried also the furniture of his bed-room and kitchen, owing to the clumsiness of wheel-carriages. If, as was sometimes the case, a great lord carried half an estate on his back, he often consumed the other half in equipping and feeding his train: and among the pleasures utterly unknown to the world for more than five thousand years is, that both peer and peasant may now travel from Middlesex to any portion of the known world with only an umbrella and carpet-bag.

We have alluded in our sketch of the earliest roads to the general character of early travelling; but a few words in connection with roads remain to be said on that subject. Travelling for pleasure—taking what our grandfathers were wont to call the Grand Tour—were recreations almost unknown to the ancient world. If Plato went into Egypt, it was not to ascend the Nile, nor to study the monumental pictures of a land whose history was graven on rocks, but to hold close colloquy on metaphysics or divinity with the Dean and Chapter at Memphis. The Greeks indeed, fortunately for posterity, had an incredible itch for Egyptian yarns, and no sooner had King Psammetichus given them a general invitation to the Delta, than they flocked thither from Athens and Smyrna, and Cos and Sparta, and the parts of Italy about Thurium, with their heads full of very particular questions, and often, to judge by their reports of what they heard, with ears particularly open to any answers the Egyptian clergy might please to give. Yet pleasure was not the object of their journey. Science, as themselves said, curiosity, as their enemies alleged, was the motive for their encountering perils by land and water. Indeed we recollect only three travellers, either among the Greeks or Romans, who can properly be considered as journeying for pleasure. These were Herodotus—the prince of tourists, past, present, or to come,—Paullus AEmilius, and Caesar Germanicus.

Herodotus, there is reason to suspect, did not himself penetrate far into Asia, but gathered many of his stories from the merchants and mariners who frequented the wine-shops of Ephesus and Smyrna. Considering the sources of his information, and the license of invention accorded to travellers in all ages, the Halicarnassian was reasonably sceptical: and generally warns his readers when he is going to tell them "a bouncer," by the words "so at least they told me," or "so the story goes." Paullus AEmilius travelled like a modern antiquary and connoisseur. And for beholding the master-pieces of Grecian art in their original splendour and in their proper local habitations, never had tourist better opportunities. A negotiation was pending between the Achaean League and the Roman Commonwealth; and since the preliminaries were rather dull, and Flaminius felt himself bored by the doubts and ceremonies of the delegates, he left them in the lurch to draw up their treaty, and took a holiday tour himself in the Peloponnesus. At that time not a single painting, statue, or bas-relief had been carried off to Italy. The Roman villas were decorated with the designs of Etrurian artists alone, or, at the most, had imported their sculpture and picture galleries from Thurii and Tarentum. Flaminius therefore gazed upon the entire mass of Hellenic art; and the only thing he, unfortunately for us, neglected, was to keep a journal, and provide for its being handed down to posterity.

Germanicus, who had beheld many of these marvels in the Forum and Palaces of Rome—for the Roman generals resembled the late Marshal Soult in the talent of appropriating what they admired—reserved his curiosity for Egypt alone, and traversed from Alexandria to Syene the entire valley of the Nile, listening complacently to all the legends which the priests deemed fitting to rehearse to Roman ears. He was of course treated with marked attention. Memnon's statue sounded its loudest chord at the first touch of the morning ray; the priests, in their ceremonial habiliments, read to him the inscriptions on the walls of the great Temple at Carnac—and proved to him that after all the Roman empire was no "great shakes;" since a thousand years before, Rameses III. had led more nations behind his chariot, and exacted heavier tributes of corn, wine, and oil from all who dwelt between the White Nile and the Caspian Sea. His journey however was so unprecedented a step, that it brought him into trouble with Tiberius. The Emperor was half afraid that Germanicus had some designs upon the kingdom of Egypt, and as that land happened to be the granary of Rome, the jealous autocrat thought of the possibility of short-commons and a bread-riot in the Forum. But even if the tourist had no ulterior views, the Emperor thought that it did not look like business for a proconsul to be making holiday without leave,—and he accordingly reprimanded his adopted son by letter, and scolded him in a speech to the senate. In our days the Emperor of Russia would look equally black on a field-marshal who should come without license to London for the season; and the Mandarin, who lately exhibited himself in the Chinese Junk, would do well for the future to eschew the Celestial Empire and its ports and harbours entirely,—at least if he have as much consideration for his personal comfort, as his sleek appearance indicated.

The Emperor Hadrian might have been added to the list of ancient travellers in search of the picturesque, both because he visited nearly every province of his empire, and because he expended good round sums wherever he went, in restoring, re-edifying, or beautifying the public edifices which the provincials had suffered to fall into decay. But Hadrian's journeys were primarily journeys of business; he wished, like the Czar Nicholas, to see with his own eyes how matters went on, and at times he had the felicity of catching a prefect in the very act of filling his pockets and squeezing the provincials: we cannot therefore put him to the account of those who journeyed for pleasure. Every Roman who took any part in public affairs was, in fact, a great traveller. If he served his sixteen or twenty years in the legions, and was not enrolled in the household troops, he was singularly unlucky if his company were not quartered in Asia, Africa, and the Danubian provinces. If he became praetor or consul, a provincial government awaited him at the close of his year of office; and it depended upon the billets drawn in the Senate, whether he spent a year or two on the shores of the Atlantic, or whether he kept staghounds on the frontiers of Dacia. Nearly every Roman indeed had qualified himself before he was fifty to be a candidate for the Travellers' Club; and sometimes the fine gentleman, who declined taking an active part in public affairs, found himself unexpectedly a thousand miles from home, with an imperial rescript in his portmanteau enjoining him not to return to Rome without special leave.

To such a compulsory journey was the poet Ovid condemned, apparently for his very particular attentions to the Princess Julia. His exile was a piece of ingenious cruelty. He was sent to Tomi, which was far beyond the range of all fashionable bathing-places. The climate was atrocious; the neighbourhood was worse; the wine was execrable and was often hard frozen, and eaten like a lozenge, and his only society was that of the barracks, or a few rich but unpolished corn-factors, who speculated in grain and deals on the shores of the Euxine. To write verses from morn to dewy eve was the unfortunate poet's only solace: and he sent so many reams of elegies to Rome, that his friends came at last to vote him a bore, and he was reduced, for want of fitting audience, to learn the Getic language, and read his lacrymose couplets to circles of gaping barbarians.

A few of our readers may remember the family coach in which county magnates rode in procession to church, to Quarter sessions, and on all occasions of ceremony and parade. The Landau, so fast disappearing from our streets and roads, was but a puny bantling of a vehicle in comparison with the older and more august conveyance. As the gentlemen rode on horseback, and the ladies upon pillions, on all but the great epochs of their lives, this wheeled mammoth was rarely drawn out of its cavern, the coach-house. For not even when in full dress, raised from the ground by red-heeled shoes resembling a Greek cothurnus, and with a cubit added to their stature by a mural battlement of hair, did the ladies of the eighteenth century disdain to jog soberly behind a booted butler with pistols in his holsters, and a Sir Cloudesley Shovel beaver on his head. {48} "We have heard an ancient matron tell of her riding nine miles to dinner behind a portly farm bailiff, and with her hair dressed like that of Madame de Maintenon, which, being interpreted, means that the locks with which nature had supplied her were further aggravated by being drawn tight over a leathern cushion—a fashion which Jonathan Oldbuck denounces as "fit only for Mahound or Termagaunt." The production of the coach was therefore the sign of a white or black day in the family calendar—inasmuch as it indicated either marriage or funeral, the approach of the Royal Judges or the execution of a state prisoner, the drawing for the militia, or a county address to both Houses of Parliament on the crying grievance of the Excise. It doubtless took some days to prepare the imperator's chariot for a Roman triumph: it must have employed nearly as many to clean and furbish the capacious body of the modern vehicle. There was moreover a whole armoury of harness to mend and polish; and as the six long-tailed Flemish horses were not often in the traces together, some time was required by them to unlearn the rustic habits of the farm-yard, and to regain the stately trot at which, where the roads would admit of it, they ordinarily proceeded. The following description of a journey to London by an M.P. of 1699 will convey to the reader a lively yet tolerably exact conception both of the glory and inconveniences of travelling in those days. It is taken from Vanbrugh's comedy of the 'Journey to London,' better known in its modern form of 'The Provoked Husband.'

"James. Sir, Sir, do you hear the news? They are all a-coming.

"Uncle Richard. Ay, Sirrah, I hear it.

"James. Sir, here's John Moody arrived already: he's stumping about the streets in his dirty boots, and asking every man he meets, if they can tell him where he may have a good lodging for a parliament-man, till he can hire such a house as becomes him. He tells them his lady and all the family are coming too; and that they are so nobly attended, they care not a fig for anybody. Sir, they have added two cart-horses to the four old geldings, because my lady will have it said she came to town in a coach and six—heavy George the ploughman rides postilion.

"U. Richard. Very well, the journey begins as it should do. Dost know whether they bring all the children with them?

"James. Only Squire Humphrey and Miss Betty, Sir; the other six are put to board at half-a-crown a week a head, with Joan Growse at Smoke-dunghill-farm.

"U. Richard. The Lord have mercy upon all good folks! What work will these people make! Dost know when they'll be here?

"James. John says, Sir, they'd have been here last night, but that the old wheezy-belly horse tired, and the two fore-wheels came crash down at once in Waggon-rut Lane. Sir, they were cruelly loaden, as I understand: my lady herself, he says, laid on four mail trunks, besides the great deal-box, which fat Tom sat upon behind.

"U. Richard. So!

"James. Then, within the coach there was Sir Francis, my lady, the great fat lap-dog, Squire Humphrey, Miss Betty, my lady's maid, Mrs. Handy, and Doll Tripe the cook; but she puked with sitting backwards, so they mounted her into the coach-box.

"U. Richard. Very well.

"James. Then, Sir, for fear of a famine before they should get to the baiting-place, there was such baskets of plum-cake, Dutch gingerbread, Cheshire cheese, Naples biscuits, maccaroons, neats' tongues and cold boiled beef; and in case of sickness, such bottles of usquebaugh, black-cherry brandy, cinnamon-water, sack, tent, and strong beer, as made the old coach crack again.

"U. Richard. Well said.

"James. And for defence of this good cheer and my lady's little pearl necklace, there was the family basket-hilt sword, the great Turkish scimitar, the old blunderbuss, a good bag of bullets, and a great horn of gunpowder.

"U. Richard. Admirable!

"James. Then for bandboxes, they were so bepiled up—to Sir Francis's nose, that he could only peep out at a chance hole with one eye, as if he were viewing the country through a perspective-glass."

The "blunderbuss, Turkish scimitar, and basket-hilt sword," in the foregoing extract from Vanbrugh, point to one of the constant perils of the road—the highwaymen. Lady Wronghead was lucky in bringing her "little pearl necklace" safe to London. Turpin's scouts, a few years later, would have obtained more accurate information of the rich moveables packed in the squire's coach. But as yet Turpin and Bradshaw were not. The great road from York to London however lay always under an evil reputation. It was by this line that Jeannie Deans walked to London, and verified the remark of her sagacious host, the Boniface of Beverley, that the road would be clear of thieves when Groby Pool was thatched with pancakes—and not till then. The example of Robin Hood was, for centuries after his death, zealously followed by the more adventurous spirits of Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, and Yorkshire; and their enterprising genius was well seconded by the fine breed of horses for which those counties were famous. For cross-country work the Leicestershire blades had no fellows; and had the Darlington Hunt existed in those days, they would doubtless have been first a-field in the morning and last on the road at night. Nor were there any reasons in their dress, demeanour, or habits, why they should not consort with the best of the shire either when riding to cover, or celebrating the triumphs of the day afterward in the squire's hall, or the ale-house. Some of these redressers of the inequalities of fortune were of excellent houses,—younger sons, who having no profession—trade would have been disgraceful in their eyes—grew weary of an unvarying round of shooting, fishing, otter-hunting, and badger-baiting, and aspired, like their common ancestor Nimrod, to be hunters of men. Others had found the discipline of a regiment unpleasant, or had been unjust serving men. In short, the road, about a century and a half ago, was the general refuge of all who, like the recruits that flocked to King David at Adullam, were in distress or discontented. Mail-coach drivers and guards travelled armed to the teeth, booted to the hips, with bandeliers across their capacious chests, and three-cornered hats which, in conjunction with their flowing horse-hair wigs, were both sword- and bullet-proof. Passengers who had any value for their lives and limbs, when they booked themselves at London for Exeter or York, provided themselves with cutlasses and blunderbusses, and kept as sharp look-out from the coach-windows as travellers in our day are wont to do in the Mexican diligences. We remember to have seen a print of the year 1769 in which the driver of the Boston mail is represented in the armed guise of Sir Hudibras. He carries a horse-pistol in his belt, and a couteau de chasse slung over his shoulder, while the guard is accoutred with no less than three pistols and a basket-hilt sword, besides having a carbine strapped to his seat behind the coach. Between the coachman's feet is a small keg, which might indifferently contain "genuine Nantz" or gunpowder. One of the "insides," an ancient gentleman in a Ramilies wig, is seen through the capacious window of the coach affectionately hugging a carbine, and a yeoman on the roof is at once caressing a bull-dog, and supporting a bludgeon that might have served Dandie Dinmont himself. Yet all these precautions, offensive or defensive, were frequently of no avail: the gentlemen of the road were still better armed, or more adroit in handling their weapons. Hounslow Heath on the great western road, and Finchley Common on the great northern road, were to the wayfarers for many generations nearly as terrible as the Valley of the Shadow of Death. "The Cambridge scholars," says Mr. Macaulay, "trembled when they approached Epping Forest, even in broad daylight. Seamen who had just been paid off at Chatham were often compelled to deliver their purses at Gadshill, celebrated near a hundred years earlier by the greatest of poets as the scene of the depredations of Poins and Falstaff." The terrors of one generation become the sources of romance and amusement to later times. Four hundred years ago we should have regarded William of Deloraine as an extremely commonplace and inconvenient personage: he is now much more interesting than the armour in the Tower, or than a captain or colonel of the Guards. A century back we should have slept the more soundly for the knowledge that Jack Sheppard was securely swinging in chains; but in these piping times of peace his biography has extracted from the pockets of the public more shillings than the subject of it himself ever 'nabbed' on the king's highway. It is both interesting and instructive to observe how directly the material improvements of science act upon the moral condition of the world. As soon as amended roads admitted of more rapid movement from place to place, the vocation of the highway robber was at first rendered difficult, and in the end impossible to exercise on the greater thoroughfares. Fast horse-coaches were the first obstacle. Railways have became an insuperable impediment to "life on the road."

Charles Lamb indited one of his most pleasant essays upon the 'Decay of Beggars in the Metropolis.' In the rural districts vagrancy and mendicity still survive, in spite of constabulary forces and petty sessions. But the mendicity of the nineteenth century presents a very different spectacle from the mendicity of the seventeenth. The well-remembered beggar is no longer the guest of the parish-parson; the king's bedesmen have totally vanished; no one now supplicates for alms under a corporation-seal; nor is the mendicant regarded as second only to the packman as the general newsmonger of a neighbourhood. Who does not remember the description of foreign beggars in the 'Sentimental Journey'? Many of us have witnessed the loathsome appearance and humorous importunity of Irish mendicants. A century ago England rivalled both France and Ireland in the number of its professional beggars. In the days when travelling was mostly performed on horseback, the foot of the hills—the point where the rider drew bridle—was the station of the mendicant, and long practice enabled him to proportion his clamorous petitions to the length of the ascent. {56} The old soldier in 'Gil Blas' stood by the wayside with a carbine laid across two sticks, and solicited, or rather enforced, the alms of the passer-by, by an appeal to his fears no less than to his pity. The readers of the old drama will recall to mind the shifts and devices of the 'Jovial Beggars;'—how easily a wooden leg was slipped off and turned into a bludgeon; how inscrutable were the disguises, and how copious and expressive the slang, of the mendicant crew. Coleridge has justly described 'The Beggar's Bush' as one of the most pleasant of Fletcher's comedies; and if the Spanish novelists do not greatly belie the roads of their land, the mendicant levied his tolls on the highways as punctually as the king himself. Speed in travelling has been as prejudicial to these merry and unscrupulous gentry as acts against vagrancy or the policeman's staff. He should be a sturdy professor of his art who would pour forth his supplications on a railway platform; and Belisarius himself would hardly venture to stop a modern carriage for the chance of an obolus, to be flung from its window. A few of the craft indeed linger in bye-roads and infest our villages and streets; but ichabod!—its glory has departed; and the most humane or romantic of travellers may without scruple consign the modern collector of highway alms to the tender mercies of the next policeman and the reversion of the treadmill.

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