Travel in England in the Seventeenth Century

Travel in England in the Seventeenth Century

Travel in England in the Seventeenth Century

Travel in England in the Seventeenth Century

Excerpt

Travel! How much is included in the word; what various sensations it imparts, and has imparted to generations of English men and women since it became detached in meaning from the old Norman‐ French Travail—work, labour !

Travail it was in the days of old, when the saddle, the pillion, and 'Shanks's mare ' were the only means of progress. Travail it was too, though less of labour than of spirit, when the waggon and the coach jolted through lanes such as we no longer know in England, toiling from early morn until nightfall to cover thirty or forty miles, or, when the days were short, and the rain-soused roads deep in adhesive, all-pervading mud, no more, perhaps, than would to-day be accomplished in a two or three hours' walk.

So passed one hundred and fifty years and more, with little change to mark their course. Then came the mail-coach and improved roads to ease travel of its greatest rigours. Edinburgh was brought as near London as Newark had been in earlier days of coaching. Travel became, if not an experience to be enjoyed for its own sake, at least a tolerable means of seeking enjoyment far from home. The word gained in value; adventure, allurement, came within its compass. Ere long the railways banished all that had gone before. Travelling became in the course of a few decades a thing of ease, to be as lightly undertaken as a hackney coach-ride in the days of Pepys. All trace of the original meaning of the word had gone. Its scope extended, its value still increased. Foreign lands, wide oceans, were brought more readily into view, until it seems to-day a word fraught with too large a significance for the short, uneventful trips, familiar . . .

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