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Literary Excerpts for Podunk

H.L. Mencken, "The Podunk Mystery," The New Yorker magazine, Sept. 25, 1948:

Podunk, as a place name, is older in American history than New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, and only six years junior to Boston, yet the lexicographers still pass it over with titters, and try to give the impression that the place itself is a mere hypothetical entity, like the square root of minus zero, an honest congressman, or one drink. Old Noah Webster omitted it from his dictionaries, as he omitted the four-letter words, and all the other Early-American onomasticians, for example, the Rev. John Witherspoon, John Pickering, and Maximilian Schele de Vere – did the same. Even the archpresbyter of the fraternity, John Russell Bartlett, made no mention of it in the first edition of his “Dictionary of Americanisms,” published in 1848, or in his second, of 1859, or in his third, of 1860, and when he admitted it, at last, to his fourth, of 1877, he shoved it into his “Addenda” and defined it as a term applied to an imaginary place in burlesque writing or speaking.” This notion that Podunk is a mere figment of the historical fancy still rides the dictionary boys? Webster’s New International of 1934, though it employed a staff of experts as huge as the crew of a battleship, called it “an imaginary small town, taken as typical of placid dullness and lack of contact with the progress of the world.” The New Practical Standard of 1946 boiled this down to “any small town typically dull and non-progressive.” And the American College Dictionary, published only the other day, made it “a humorous name for any small or insignificant place.” Worse, the newspapers have fallen into goose step with the lexicographers, ad even so cultured a sheet at the Boston Herald, the breakfast food of every Harvard professor not abandoned to Marxism, has been guilty of “Podunk, like Atlantis, has no locus. Sought often, it is unfound and apparently unfindable.”
   This was printed in the Herald on February 2, 1933. A few days later a reader y the name of E. A. Plimpton wrote in to say that it was buncombe; there was actually a Podunk, he declared, near Worcester, Massachusetts, and within forty-five miles of the Harvard Yard, and it was so far from being typically dull and non-progressive” that a number of Bostonians had summer homes within its confines, and Plimpton himself was one of them. He offered to take any agent nominated by the Herald out to see it, and hinted that photographers would be welcome. But no one familiar with the operations of the human mind could have expected this direct and categorical evidence to shake anything o tenacious as a popular delusion. That delusion simply refused to be refuted, and the newspapers of the country, including the Herald went on speaking of Podunk without substance or reality. Even the philologians, who are supposed to be far above vulgar credulity, refused to yield. They printed some learned speculations on the etymology of the name and traced it back to 1636, but they could come to o agreement as to either its origin or its meaning, and all of them decided that Podunk was not a town at all but simply a country stream, a meadow, or some other such work of nature. So the years passed until 1941, when the Herald apparently beset by something resembling conscience, printed an editorial demanding that the problem be tackled head on and, if possible, solved at last.  If there was really a Podunk near Worcester, a Plimpton had alleged in 1933, then it ought to be run down in a scientific manner and accorded its proper place among the recognized communities of the Republic. Going further, the Herald nominated a man to undertake the exploration. He was George Francis Booth, owner and editor of the Worcester Gazette and Telegram and the undisputed captain general of all the region circumambient. Worcester was only a few miles from the area beyond Spencer and Leicester that Plimpton had pointed to in his letter of 1933, and the Herald knew, as every other American newspaper knew, that Booth, though already past seventy, was a go-getter of the highest virulence, and could be trusted, if he rose to the bait, to find Podunk within six days, come hell or high water.
Herald chose well. Booth was actually in action in a matter of ten minutes after the Herald reached his office, blowing into speaking tubes, signing blank expense accounts, and briefing his editors, reporters, and photographers. Too busy with other civic affairs to lead the expedition himself, he appointed William H. Moiles, a dashing young journalist of his staff, as its Henry M. Stanley, and by nightfall Moiles was wiring to Boston for tents, mosquito bars, pemmican, caterpillar tread station wagons, vitamins in ingots, and arms and ammunition. Early on a bright November morning, his safari shoved off from the Telegram office, and by noon it had forded Seven-Mile River and was headed south into the rain forest along the East Brookfield River. The explorers encountered many rabbits and cows but no carnivores save an occasional dog, and not a shot had been fired when they reached the native town of East Brookfield. There the leader of the expedition, following the immemorial technique of journalists, sought the aid of the bartender at the Lakewood Inn. I now quote from the three-and-a-half-column dispatch (with a three-column map) that he sent to the Telegram next day:
   He [the bartender] listened with grave interest to the tale of our mission. He advised us to turn down Cottage Street, which branches off Route 9 to the left, almost opposite the inn, go over two bridges, turn right, and proceed to the Four Corners. There, in manner of speaking, we would find Podunk.
   We moved on cautiously until the headlights picked up one small boy by the side of the road, working his thumb with great energy.
   We stopped and, without further urging, he clambered in, bringing with him something strongly indicative of close association with bars ad sturdy beasts.

“Where’re you going?” we asked.
“Up by the old Podunk school,” he said.
“Where is Podunk?” we asked, failing entirely to suppress a quiver of anticipation.
“This is Podunk now,” said the small boy.
He said it calmly, quietly, almost wearily. But we felt like Balboa.

It was pitch-dark by now, and Moles decided to return to East Brookfield to make camp for the night. This he did in a clearing convenient to the Lakewood Inn bar. At dawn the next day, reveille was sounded, and in half an hour the expedition had reached the spot where the mephitic native boy had been encountered the night before, and its members spread out to investigate the site. While Moiles’ topographical engineers made surveys for the map aforesaid, he himself interviewed the local notables. What they had to tell him was thus summarized in his report:
   Podunk....may be variously referred to as a section, district or locality….it is about three miles long from north to south, and about two miles wide. These figures are only approximate, because Podunk never had, and does not now have, any definite boundaries. According to residents, it was once considered to extend south from the …Four Corners in East Brookfield to another part of the town of Sturbridge, pop. 2,227, fanning out for differing distances on each side.

   (Footnote 1: In the New England patois "town is used to designate what the rest of the country calls a township. That is to say, it is simply a subdivision of a county, and predominantly rural. But there is actually a village of Sturbridge in the town of Sturbridge.)
   Now however, it is the consensus of Podunkers that the district extends even farther south into what is called the Ainsworth section of Sturbridge. A section in the southeast even extends into Charlton. But the largest part of Podunk, by far, lies in East Brookfield. Running roughly through the center of it, north and south, is a road sometimes called the Podunk road, sometimes the Sturbridge road. Definite figures on Podunk’s population are as scarce as definite figures on its area, but the consensus seems to be that the district now contains about one hundred families.
   The two largest bodies of water laving Podunk soil are Quaboag Pond, also called Podunk Pond, and South Pond, also known as Quacumquasit Pond. Local tradition has it that the great Indian chief, “Massasoit” died while visiting the Quaboag Indians and is now buried on the northern shore of Quaboag Pond.

(Footnote 2: The Fifth Report of the United States Geographic Board shows that at some time prior to 1920 the board ordered the former to be called not North or Podunk but Quaboag, and the latter not South but Quacumquasit... Massassoit was the sachem of the Wampanoag or Pokanoket Indians, and as such signed a treaty of peace with Plymouth Colony in 1621. He kept it faithfully until his death, in 1661.)
   These facts, as Moiles inscribed them on a wad of copy paper, filled him with a grateful and pardonable glow; indeed, he described it as almost a glare. Here, at last, was Podunk! Here, unearthed from the ashes of obscurity and contumely, was one of the most ancient of American communities - a fit match for Nineveh and Ur. And here was proof that it was still riding the full tide of human civilization, with law and order, surfaced roads, the cherished tomb of a mighty chieftain, and an amiable and accomplished bartender with easy reach.  From a schoolma’am encountered along the way, Moiles learned that until lately it even had had its own educational establishment; to wit, the Podunk School, closed in 1932 or thereabout on the introduction of school buses running out of East Brookfield. She took him to see it – a small but neatly painted white building set beside a forest trail, now used for orgies of the civic-minded. He also learned that at one time each and every one of its thirty scholars bore the historic name of Adams and that all were reputed to be members of the family that gave two Presidents and an eminent yacht skipper to the United Stages. He found that the Adamsii were still as thick as autumn leaves in Podunk and that their most distinguished living son was Joseph, “former chief of police in East Brookfield.” “The section,” he went on in his report, “was formerly divided into Upper Podunk and Lower Podunk, or, less formally, Upper Dunk and Lower Dunk, but these names have lately fallen into disuse. Podunk also contains one of the highest elevations in East Brookfield, Tenerif Hill.” 
   Moiles then proceeded to dispose of the old libel that Podunk is, was, or ever had been “typical of placid dullness and lack of contact with the progress of the world.” It was actually, he said, a notable forward-looking community. It had a women’s club that had something under way all the year round – a hobby show in summer, a “real old-fashioned celebration” at Christmas, and dog shows, baby shows, quilt shows, pie shows, and the like at other times. He concluded:
   In short, let it be recorded for doubters everywhere that …there is no “placid dullness” and lack of contact with the progress of the world.” Friendly lights gleam from the windows, and meadows stretch away from stone walls bordering the road. The people are friendly and helpful to a stranger. They don’t think there’s anything funny about Podunk – and neither do we.
   The rapidity of modern newspaper communication is such that intelligence of Moiles’ discovery was known in Boston within a week after it had been printed under scareheads in Worcester, and during the month following, it gradually permeated the rest of the country. This permeation had the curious effect of heaving up other Podunks, far and ear, most of them manifestly bogus but a few showing more or less color of reality.  One, for example, was found in Connecticut, not far from Harford; another was in northern New York; a third was on Long Island; a fourth was in Michigan. The first of this quartet turned out to be a spot but not an integrated community; the others ever got beyond the claim stage, and no one knows their precise location to this day. But when the Lincoln State Journal, in 1944, announced the discovery of a fossil Podunk in Nebraska, the report proved to be true. This fossil underlay what was then (and is still) the village of Brock, a whistle stop on the Little Nemaha River, in the far-southeastern corner of the state. When it was founded, its fathers gave it the name of Howard, but this seemed too pretentious to the local cynics, so they not only changed its name to Podunk but induced a gullible Post Office Department to so designate it. However, when the Missouri Pacific Railroad reached the place, in 1882, there was a great upsurge of optimism and the planners of flour mills and steel plants persuaded the railroad to change it once more, this time to Brock, in honor of Henry Brock, a pioneer settler. Podunk is now a fighting word in Brock and may be uttered safely only with a smile that amounts to a roar of laughter, but its existence down on the Paleolithic level of the town is not to be gainsaid.

   But the explorations of Moiles and the transient hubbub in the newspapers never reached the lexicographers in their nylon towers, and so they kept on reporting that Podunk was a purely imaginary place, having neither length nor breadth, substance nor culture. This, as I have shown, they still stick to, and no doubt they will still be sticking to it when you and I are but the faint faraway echoes of a beautiful song. The newspapers, in the overwhelming main, go with them, and so does all save a puny fraction of the human race. But a few non-dictionary philologians keep the matter of Podunk on their agenda, and have unearthed some facts that throw more or less light on it, though in their conclusions they seldom agree. One of these facts is that “Podunk,” the word, was originally the name of a tribe of Connecticut Indians who vanished into the forests to the northward so long ago as 1761. The other is that the fate or ill fame of Podunk as a nest of the socially starved and intellectually underprivileged was launched early in 1846 by an anonymous contributor to the Buffalo Daily National Pilot. His pieces, eight in number and signed R.P., appeared weekly under the title of “Letters from Podunk,” and they described at length with all the ponderous humor of the time, the life of a remote village “high up on the big Pigeon.” R. P. dealt with it humanely enough and in his last paper reported that it had responded to progress by becoming “a huge town,” but hi readers noted only his spoofing of its life in its earlier stages, and when the series was copied into other newspapers near and far, Podunk became an accepted symbol for bucolic coma. No doubt that process was helped along by the “k” in its name, for “k,” for some occult reason, has always appealed to the oafish risibles of the American plain people, and its presence in the names of many other places has helped to make them joke towns also; for example, Kankakee, Kalamazoo, Hoboken, Hohokus, Yonkers, Squeedunk, Stinktown (the original name of Chicago), and Brooklyn.
   The meaning of the word “Podunk” is obscure, and has given many night sweats to etymologists, for the Indian languages of the seventeenth century are nearly all extinct, and the few, forlorn Indians who still profess to speak them have heavily engauded them with such American confectionery as “rubberneck,” “go-getter,” “social justice,” “nerts,” and “O.K.” The first professor to grapple with the subject was J. H. Temple, author of various Massachusetts local histories. In 1877, he announced that he had discovered that the original form of the name was “Paguanau-ohke,” meaning “a place of slaughter or destruction,” and that the first Podunk was a meadow used by the Indians for burning captives taken in war. But this sounded suspiciously like baloney to the professional etymologists, for “Paguanau-ohke” seemed a long step from “Podunk,” and there was no evidence that the early Indians of lower New England, who were mainly a malarious and desponding lot, ever burned their captives. In 1939, W.R. Carlton, of Springfield, Massachusetts, made the suggestion that the original word was actually “Petukqui-paug,” meaning a round pond. Other writers argued that the real meaning was a clean place a neck or corner of land, or a boggy place. Finally, Allen Walker Read, who probably knows more about early Americanisms that anyone else on earth, gave his vote to the last meaning, and there the matter stands.
   It seems to be highly probable that there were two Podunks in the days of the early settlers. One was a meadow on the Connecticut River, opposite the northern suburbs of what is now Hartford, and the other was a meadow at the spot where the modern Podunk was discovered by the Booth-Moiles Expedition of 1941. The former has been traced to 1636 and the latter to 1665. The name has been transferred, in the course of the centuries, from meadows to brooks, ponds, and other natural formations, and also, as we now know at last, to communities of men. But in the dark backward and abysm of time it seems to have meant a swampy place, and nothing else.

Wallace Stegner, “The Sense of Place,” 1992

If you don’t know where you are, says Wendell Berry, you don’t know
who you are. Berry is a writer, one of our best, who after some circling has settled on the bank of the Kentucky River, where he grew up and where his family has lived for many generations. He conducts his literary explorations inward, toward the core of what supports him physically and spiritually. He belongs to an honorable tradition, one that even in America includes some great names: Thoreau, Burroughs, Frost, Faulkner, Steinbeck – lovers of known earth, known weathers, and known neighbors both human and nonhuman. He calls himself a “placed” person.
  But if every American is several people, and one of them is or would like to be a placed person, another is the opposite, the displaced person, cousin not to Thoreau but to Daniel Boone, dreamer not of Walden Ponds but of far horizons, traveler not in Concord but in wild unsettled places, explorer not inward but outward. Adventurous, restless, seeking, asocial or antisocial, the displaced American persists by the million long after the frontier has vanished. He exists to some extent in all of us, the inevitable by-product of our history: the New World transient. He is commoner in the newer parts of America – the West, Alaska – than in the older parts, but he occurs everywhere, always in motion.
  To the placed person he seems hasty, shallow, and restless. He has a current like the Platte, a mile wide and inch deep. As a species, he is non-territorial, he lacks a stamping ground. Acquainted with many places, he is rooted in none. Culturally he is a discarder or transplanter, not a builder or conserver. He even seems to like and value his rootlessness, though to the placed person he shows the symptoms of nutritional deficiency, as if he suffered from some obscure scurvy or pellagra of the soul.
  Migratoriness has its dangers, unless it is the traditional, seasonal, social migratoriness of shepherd tribes, or of the academic tribes who every June leave Cambridge or New Haven for summer places in Vermont, and every September return to their winter range. Complete independence, absolute freedom of movement, are exhilarating for a time but may not wear well. That romantic atavist we sometimes dream of being, who lives alone in a western or arctic wilderness, playing Natty Bumppo and listening to the loons and living on moose meat and moving on if people come within a hundred miles, is a very American figure but he is not a full human being. He is a wild man of the woods, a Sasquatch.
  He has many relatives who are organized as families – migrant families that would once have followed the frontier but that now follow construction booms from Rock Springs to Prudhoe Bay, or pursue the hope of better times from Michigan to Texas, or retire from the Midwestern farm to St. Petersburg or Sunshine City, or still hunt the hippie heaven from Sedona to Telluride to sand Point. These migrants drag their exposed roots and have trouble putting them down in new places. Some don’t
want to put them down, but at retirement climb into their RVs and move with the seasons from national park to national park, creating a roadside society out of perpetual motion. The American home is often a mobile home.
  I know about this. I was born on wheels, among just such a family. I know about the excitement of newness and possibility, but also know the dissatisfaction and hunger that result from placelessness. Some towns that we lived in were never real to me. They were only the raw material of places, as I was the raw material of a person. Neither place nor I had a change of being anything unless we could live together for a while. I spent my youth envying people who had lived all their lives in the houses they were born in, and had attics full of proof that they
had lived.
  The deep ecologists warn us not to be anthropocentric, but I know no way to look at the world, settled or wild, except through my own human eyes. I know that it wasn’t created especially for my use, and I share the guilt for what the members of my species, especially the migratory ones, have done to it. But I am the only instrument that I have access to by which I can enjoy the world and try to understand it. So I must believe that, at least to human perception, a place is not a place until people have been born in it, have grown up in it, lived in it, known it, died in it – have both experienced and shaped it, as individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities, over more than one generation. Some are born in their place, some find it, some realize after long searching that the place they left is the one they have been searching for. But whatever their relation to it, it is made a place only by slow accrual, like a coral reef.
  Once, as George Stewart reminded us in
Names on the Land, the continent stretched away westward without names. It had no places in it until people had named them, and worn the names smooth with use. The fact that Daniel Boone killed a bear at a certain spot in Kentucky did not make it a place. It began to be one, though, when he remembered the spot as Bear Run, and other people picked up the name and called their settlement by it, and when the settlement became a landmark or destination for travelers, and when the children had worn paths through its woods to the schoolhouse or swimming hole. The very fact that people remembered Boone’s bear-killing, and told about it, added something of placeness.
  No place is a place until things that have happened in it are remembered in history, ballads, yarns, legends, or monuments. Fictions serve as well as facts. Rip Van Winkle, though a fiction, enriches the Catskills. Real-life Mississippi spreads across unmarked boundaries into Yoknapatawpha County. Every one of the six hundred rocks from which the Indian maiden jumped to escape her pursuers grows by the legend, and people’s lives get lived around and into it. It attracts family picnics and lovers’ trysts. There are names carved in the trees there. Just as surely as do the quiet meadows and stone walls of Gettysburg, or the grassy hillside above the Little Big Horn where the Seventh Cavalry died, even a “phony” place like the Indian maiden’s rock grows by human association.
  In America the process of cumulative association has gone a good way by now in stable, settled, and especially rural areas – New England, the Midwest, the South – but hardly any way at all in the raw, migrant west. For one thing, the West has been raided more often than settled, and raiders move on when they have got what they came for. Many western towns never lasted a single human lifetime. Many others have changed so fast that memory cannot cling to them; they are unrecognizable to anyone who knew them twenty years ago. And as they change, they may fall into the hands of planners and corporations, so that they tend to become more and more alike. Change too often means stereotype. Try Gillette, Wyoming, not too long ago a sleepy cowtown on the verge of becoming a real place, now a coal boomtown that will never be a place.
  Changing everywhere, America changes fastest west of the 100th meridian. Mining booms, oil booms, irrigation booms, tourist booms, culture booms as at Aspen and Sun Valley, crowd out older populations and bring in new ones. Communities lose their memory along with their character. For some, the memory can over time be reinstated. For many, the memory too will be a transient, for irrigation agribusinesses from California and Arizona to Idaho has by now created a whole permanent underclass of the migrant and dispossessed, totally placeless people who will never have a change to settle down anywhere, who will know a place briefly during the potato or cantaloupe or grape harvest, and then they move on.
  As with life, so with literature. Except in northern California, the West has never had a real literary outpouring, a flowering of the sort that marked New England, the Midwest, and the South. As I have noted elsewhere, a lot of what has been written is a literature of motion, not of a place. There is a whole tradition of it, from Mark Twain’s
Roughing It to Kerouac’s On the Road. Occasionally we get loving place-oriented books such as Ivan Doig’s This Houseof Sky and Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It, but even while we applaud them we note that they are only memorials to places that used to be, not celebrations of ongoing places. They are nostalgic before history has taken its second step, as much a looking-back as Huckleberry Finn was for Mark Twain.
  And that is a curious phenomenon, that nostalgia that has marked American writing ever since Irving and Cooper. From our very beginnings, and in the midst of our perpetual motion, we have been homesick for the old folks at home and the old oaken bucket. We have been forever bidding farewell to the last of the Mohicans, or the last of the old-time cattlemen, or the last of the pioneers with the bark on, or the vanishing wilderness. Just at random, read Willa Cather’s
A Lost Lady or Conrad Richter’s The Sea of Grass or Larry McMurtry’s Horseman, Pass By, or even William Dean Howells’s The Rise of Silas Lapham, with its portrait of a businessman possessed of an antique and doomed integrity. We have made a tradition out of mourning the passing of things we never had time really to know, just as we have made a culture out of the open road, out of movement without place.
  Freedom, especially free land, has been largely responsible. Nothing in our history has bound us to a plot of ground as feudalism once bound Europeans. In older, smaller, more homogeneous and traditional countries, life was always more centripetal, held in tight upon its center. In Ireland, for example, Yeats tells us, “there is no river or mountain that is not associated in the memory with some event or legend…. I would have our writers and craftsmen of many kinds master this history and these legends, and fix upon their memory the appearance of mountains and rivers and make it all visible again in their arts, so that Irishmen, even though they had gone thousands of miles away, would still be in their own country.”
  America is both too large and too new for that sort of universal recognition. It was just the lack of such recognitions and acceptance, the lack of a complex American society rooted in richly remembered places, that led Washington Irving to transplant European legends to the Catskills, and Hawthorne to labor at creating what he called a usable past. The same lacks drove Henry James, later, to exploit his countrymen not as dwellers in their own country but more often as pilgrims and tourists abroad, hunting what their own country did not provide. When native themes, characters, and places did emerge, they were likely to be local-colorish, exploiting the local picturesque and probably mourning its passing, or expressions of our national restlessness, part of the literature of the road.
  Indifferent to, or contemptuous of, or afraid to commit ourselves to, our physical and social surroundings, always hopeful of something better, hooked on change, a lot of us have never stayed in one place long enough to learn it, or have learned it only to leave it. In our displaced condition we are not unlike the mythless man that Carl Jung wrote about, who lives “like one uprooted, having no true link either with the past, or with the ancestral life which continues within him, or yet with contemporary human society.  He . . . lives a life of his own, sunk in a subjective mania of his own devising, which he believes to be the newly discovered truth.”
  Back to Wendell Berry, and his belief that if you don’t know where you are you don’t know who you are. He is not talking about the kind of location that can be determined by looking at a map or a street sign. He is talking about the kind of knowing that involves the senses, the memory, the history of a family or a tribe. He is talking about the knowledge of place that comes from working in it in all weathers, making a living from it, suffering from its catastrophes, loving its mornings or evenings or hot noons, valuing it for the profound investment of labor and feeling that you, your parents and grandparents, your all-but-unknown ancestors have put into it. He is talking about the knowing that poets specialize in.
  It is only a step from his pronouncement to another: that no place is a place until it has had a poet.  And that is about what Yeats was saying only a moment ago.
  No place, not even a wild place, is a place until it has had that human attention that at its highest reach we will call poetry. What Frost did for New Hampshire and Vermont, what Faulkner did for Mississippi and Steinbeck for the Salinas Valley, Wendell Berry is doing for his family corner of Kentucky, and hundreds of other place-loving people, gifted or not, are doing for places they were born in, or reared in, or have adopted and made their own.
  I doubt that we will ever get the motion out of the Americans, for everything in his culture of opportunity and abundance has, up to now, urged motion on him as a form of virtue. Our tradition of restlessness will not be outgrown in a generation or two, even if the motives for restlessness are withdrawn. But after all, in a few months it will be half a millennium since Europeans first laid eyes on this continent. At least in geographical terms, the frontiers have been explored and crossed. It is probably time we settled down. It is probably time we looked around us instead of looking ahead. We have no business, any longer, in being impatient with history. We need to know our history in much greater depth, even back to geology, which, as Henry Adams said, is only history projected a little way back from Mr. Jefferson.
  History was part of the baggage we threw overboard when we launched ourselves into the New World. We threw it away because it recalled old tyrannies, old limitations, galling obligations, bloody memories. Plunging into the future through a landscape that had no history, we did both the country and ourselves some harm along with some good. Neither the country nor the society we built out of it can be healthy until we stop raiding and running, and learn to be quiet part of the time, and acquire the sense not of ownership but of belonging.
 “The land was ours before we were the land’s,” says Robert Frost’s poem. Only in the act of submission is the sense of place realized and a sustainable relationship between people and earth established.

Sir Richard Steele, “A Ramble from Richmond to London,” 1712
It is an inexpressible Pleasure to know a little of the World, and be of no Character or Significancy in it.

To be ever unconcerned, and ever looking on new Objects with an endless Curiosity, is a Delight known only to those who are turned for Speculation: Nay, they who enjoy it, must value Things only as they are the Objects of Speculation, without drawing any worldly Advantage to themselves from them, but just as they are what contribute to their Amusement, or the Improvement of the Mind. I lay one Night last Week at Richmond; and being restless, not out of Dissatisfaction, but a certain busie Inclination one sometimes has, I rose at Four in the Morning, and took Boat for London, with a Resolution to rove by Boat and Coach for the next Four and twenty Hours, till the many different Objects I must needs meet with should tire my Imagination, and give me an Inclination to a Repose more profound than I was at that Time capable of. I beg People's Pardon for an odd Humour I am guilty of, and was often that Day, which is saluting any Person whom I like, whether I know him or not. This is a Particularity would be tolerated in me, if they considered that the greatest Pleasure I know I receive at my Eyes, and that I am obliged to an agreeable Person for coming abroad into my View, as another is for a Visit of Conversation at their own Houses.
  The Hours of the Day and Night are taken up in the Cities of London and Westminster by People as different from each other as those who are born in different Centuries. Men of Six a Clock give way to those of Nine, they of Nine to the Generation of Twelve, and they of Twelve disappear, and make Room for the fashionable World, who have made Two a Clock the Noon of the Day.
   When we first put off from Shore, we soon fell in with a Fleet of Gardeners bound for the several Market-Ports of London; and it was the most pleasing Scene imaginable to see the Chearfulness with which those industrious People ply'd their Way to a certain Sale of their Goods. The Banks on each Side are as well peopled, and beautified with as agreeable Plantations, as any Spot on the Earth; but the Thames it self, loaded with the Product of each Shore, added very much to the Landskip. It was very easie to observe by their Sailing, and the Countenances of the ruddy Virgins, who were Super-Cargoes, the Parts of the Town to which they were bound. There was an Air in the Purveyors for Covent-Garden, who frequently converse with Morning Rakes, very unlike the seemly Sobriety of those bound for Stocks Market.
   Nothing remarkable happened in our Voyage; but I landed with Ten Sail of Apricock Boats at Strand-Bridge, after having put in at Nine-Elms, and taken in Melons, consigned by Mr. Cuffe of that Place, to Sarah Sewell and Company, at their Stall in Covent-Garden. We arrived at Strand-Bridge at Six of the Clock, and were unloading: when the Hackney Coachmen of the foregoing Night took their leave of each other at the Dark-House, to go to Bed before the Day was too far spent, Chimney-Sweepers pass'd by us as we made up to the Market, and some Raillery happened between one of the Fruit Wenches and those black Men, about the Devil and Eve, with Allusion to their several Professions. I could not believe any Place more entertaining than Covent-Garden; where I strolled from one Fruit-Shop to another, with Crowds of agreeable young Women around me, who were purchasing Fruit for their respective Families. It was almost eight of the Clock before I could leave that Variety of Objects. I took Coach and followed a Young Lady, who tripped into another just before me, attended by her Maid. I saw immediately she was of the Family of the Vainloves. There are a set of these who of all Things affect the Play of Blindman's-Buff, and leading Men into Love for they know not whom, who are fled they know not where. This sort of Woman is usually a janty Slattern; she hangs on her Cloaths, plays her Head, varies her Posture, and changes Place incessantly, and all with an Appearance of striving at the same time to hide her self, and yet give you to understand she is in Humour to laugh at you. You must have often seen the Coachmen make Signs with their Fingers as they drive by each other, to intimate how much they have got that Day. They can carry on that Language to give Intelligence where they are driving. In an Instant my Coachman took the Wink to pursue, and the Lady's Driver gave the Hint that he was going through Long-Acre towards St. James's: While he whipped up James-Street, we drove for King-Street, to save the Pass at St. Martin's-Lane. The Coachmen took care to meet, jostle, and threaten each other for Way, and be entangled at the End of Newport-Street and Long-Acre. The Fright, you must believe, brought down the Lady's Coach Door, and obliged her, with her Mask off, to enquire into the Bustle, when she sees the Man she would avoid. The Tackle of the Coach-Window is so bad she cannot draw it up again, and she drives on sometimes wholly discovered, and sometimes half escaped, according to the Accident of Carriages in her Way. One of these Ladies keeps her Seat in a Hackney-Coach, as well as the best Rider does on a managed Horse. The laced Shooe of her left Foot, with a careless Gesture, just appearing on the opposite Cushion, held her both firm, and in a proper Attitude to receive the next Jolt.
   As she was an excellent Coach Woman, many were the Glances at each other which we had for an Hour and an Half in all Parts of the Town by the Skill of our Drivers; till at last my Lady was conveniently lost with Notice from her Coachman to ours to make off, and he should hear where she went. This Chase was now at an End, and the Fellow who drove her came to us, and discovered that he was ordered to come again in an Hour, for that she was a Silk-Worm. I was surprized with this Phrase, but found it was a Cant among the Hackney Fraternity for their best Customers, Women who ramble twice or thrice a Week from Shop to Shop, to turn over all the Goods in Town without buying any thing. The Silk-worms are, it seems, indulged by the Tradesmen; for tho' they never buy, they are ever talking of new Silks, Laces and Ribbands, and serve the Owners in getting them Customers as their common Dunners do in making them pay.
   The Day of People of Fashion began now to Break, and Carts and Hacks were mingled with Equipages of Show and Vanity; when I resolved to walk it out of Cheapness; but my unhappy Curiosity is such, that I find it always my Interest to take Coach, for some odd Adventure among Beggars, Ballad-Singers, or the like, detains and throws me into Expence. It happened so immediately; for at the Corner of Warwick Street, as I was listening to a new Ballad, a ragged Rascal, a Beggar who knew me, came up to me, and began to turn the Eyes of the good Company upon me, by telling me he was extream Poor, and should die in the Street for want of Drink, except I immediately would have the Charity to give him Six-pence to go into the next Ale-house and save his Life. He urged, with a melancholy Face, that all his Family had died of Thirst. All the Mob have Humour, and two or three began to take the Jest; by which Mr. Sturdy carried his Point, and let me sneak off to a Coach. As I drove along, it was a pleasing Reflection to see the World so prettily chequered since I left Richmond, and the Scene still filling with Children of a new Hour. This Satisfaction encreased as I moved towards the City; and gay Signs, well disposed Streets, magnificent publick Structures, and wealthy Shops, adorned with contented Faces, made the Joy still rising till we came into the Centre of the City, and Centre of the World of Trade, the Exchange of London. As other men in the Crowds about me were pleased with their Hopes and Bargains, I found my Account in observing them, in Attention to their several Interests. I, indeed, looked upon my self as the richest Man that walked the Exchange that Day; for my Benevolence made me share the Gains of every Bargain that was made. It was not the least of my Satisfactions in my Survey, to go up Stairs, and pass the Shops of agreeable Females; to observe so many pretty Hands busie in the Foldings of Ribbands, and the utmost Eagerness of agreeable Faces in the sale of Patches, Pins, and Wires, on each Side the Counters, was an Amusement, in which I should longer have indulged my self, had not the dear Creatures called to me to ask what I wanted, when I could not answer, only To look at you. I went to one of the Windows which opened to the Area below, where all the several Voices lost their Distinction, and rose up in a confused Humming; which created in me a Reflection that could not come into the Mind of any but of one a little too studious; for I said to my self, with a kind of Pun in Thought, What Nonsense is all the Hurry of this World to those who are above it? In these, or not much wiser Thoughts, I had like to have lost my Place at the Chop-House, where every Man according to the natural Bashfulness or Sullenness of our Nation, eats in a publick Room a Mess of Broth, or Chop of Meat, in dumb Silence, as if they had no pretence to speak to each other on the Foot of being Men, except they were of each other's Acquaintance.
   I went afterwards to Robin's, and saw People who had dined with me at the Five-penny Ordinary just before, give Bills for the Value of large Estates; and could not but behold with great Pleasure, Property lodged in, and transferred in a Moment from such as would never be Masters of half as much as is seemingly in them, and given from them every Day they live. But before Five in the Afternoon I left the City, came to my common Scene of Covent-Garden, and passed the Evening at Will's in attending the Discourses of several Sets of People, who relieved each other within my Hearing on the Subjects of Cards, Dice, Love, Learning, and Politicks. The last Subject kept me till I heard the Streets in the Possession of the Bellman, who had now the World to himself, and cry'd, Past Two of Clock. This rous'd me from my Seat, and I went to my Lodging, led by a Light, whom I put into the Discourse of his private Oeconomy, and made him give me an Account of the Charge, Hazard, Profit and Loss of a Family that depended upon a Link, with a Design to end my trivial Day with the Generosity of Six-pence, instead of a third Part of that Sum. When I came to my Chambers I writ down these Minutes; but was at a Loss what Instruction I should propose to my Reader from the Enumeration of so many Insignificant Matters and Occurrences; and I thought it of great Use, if they could learn with me to keep their Minds open to Gratification, and ready to receive it from any thing it meets with. This one Circumstance will make every Face you see give you the Satisfaction you now take in beholding that of a Friend; will make every Object a pleasing one; will make all the Good which arrives to any Man, an Encrease of Happiness to your self.

.Robert Louis Stevenson, “Walking Tours”

It must not be imagined that a walking tour, as some would have us fancy, is merely a better or worse way of seeing the country. There are many ways of seeing landscape quite as good; and none more vivid, in spite of canting dilettantes, than from a railway train. But landscape on a walking tour is quite accessory. He who is indeed of the brotherhood does not voyage in quest of the picturesque, but of certain jolly humours - of the hope and spirit with which the march begins at morning, and the peace and spiritual repletion of the evening's rest. He cannot tell whether he puts his knapsack on, or takes it off, with more delight. The excitement of the departure puts him in key for that of the arrival.
  Whatever he does is not only a reward in itself, but will be further rewarded in the sequel; and so pleasure leads on to pleasure in an endless chain. It is this that so few can understand; they will either be always lounging or always at five miles an hour; they do not play off the one against the other, prepare all day for the evening, and all evening for the next day. And, above all, it is here that your overwalker fails of comprehension. His heart rises against those who drink their curacoa in liqueur glasses, when he himself can swill it in a brown john. He will not believe that the flavour is more delicate in the smaller dose. He will not believe that to walk this unconscionable distance is merely to stupefy and brutalise himself, and come to his inn, at night, with a sort of frost on his five wits, and a starless night of darkness in his spirit. Not for him the mild luminous evening of the temperate walker! He has nothing left of man but a physical need for bedtime and a double nightcap; and even his pipe, if he be a smoker, will be savourless and disenchanted. It is the fate of such an one to take twice as much trouble as is needed to obtain happiness, and miss the happiness in the end; he is the man of the proverb, in short, who goes further and fares worse.
   Now, to be properly enjoyed, a walking tour should be gone upon alone. If you go in a company, or even in pairs, it is no longer a walking tour in anything but name; it is something else and more in the nature of a picnic. A walking tour should be gone upon alone, because freedom is of the essence; because you should be able to stop and go on, and follow this way or that, as the freak takes you; and because you must have your own pace, and neither trot alongside a champion walker, nor mince in time with a girl. And then you must be open to all impressions and let your thoughts take colour from what you see. You should be as a pipe for any wind to play upon. "I cannot see the wit," says Hazlitt, "of walking and talking at the same time. When I am in the country I wish to vegetate like the country," - which is the gist of all that can be said upon the matter. There should be no cackle of voices at your elbow, to jar on the meditative silence of the morning. And so long as a man is reasoning he cannot surrender himself to that fine intoxication that comes of much motion in the open air, that begins in a sort of dazzle and sluggishness of the brain, and ends in a peace that passes comprehension.
   During the first day or so of any tour there are moments of bitterness, when the traveller feels more than coldly towards his knapsack, when he is half in a mind to throw it bodily over the hedge and, like Christian on a similar occasion, "give three leaps and go on singing." And yet it soon acquires a property of easiness. It becomes magnetic; the spirit of the journey enters into it. And no sooner have you passed the straps over your shoulder than the lees of sleep are cleared from you, you pull yourself together with a shake, and fall at once into your stride. And surely, of all possible moods, this, in which a man takes the road, is the best. Of course, if he WILL keep thinking of his anxieties, if he WILL open the merchant Abudah's chest and walk arm-in- arm with the hag - why, wherever he is, and whether he walk fast or slow, the chances are that he will not be happy. And so much the more shame to himself! There are perhaps thirty men setting forth at that same hour, and I would lay a large wager there is not another dull face among the thirty. It would be a fine thing to follow, in a coat of darkness, one after another of these wayfarers, some summer morning, for the first few miles upon the road. This one, who walks fast, with a keen look in his eyes, is all concentrated in his own mind; he is up at his loom, weaving and weaving, to set the landscape to words. This one peers about, as he goes, among the grasses; he waits by the canal to watch the dragon-flies; he leans on the gate of the pasture, and cannot look enough upon the complacent kine. And here comes another, talking, laughing, and gesticulating to himself. His face changes from time to time, as indignation flashes from his eyes or anger clouds his forehead. He is composing articles, delivering orations, and conducting the most impassioned interviews, by the way. A little farther on, and it is as like as not he will begin to sing. And well for him, supposing him to be no great master in that art, if he stumble across no stolid peasant at a corner; for on such an occasion, I scarcely know which is the more troubled, or whether it is worse to suffer the confusion of your troubadour, or the unfeigned alarm of your clown. A sedentary population, accustomed, besides, to the strange mechanical bearing of the common tramp, can in no wise explain to itself the gaiety of these passers-by. I knew one man who was arrested as a runaway lunatic, because, although a full-grown person with a red beard, he skipped as he went like a child. And you would be astonished if I were to tell you all the grave and learned heads who have confessed to me that, when on walking tours, they sang - and sang very ill - and had a pair of red ears when, as described above, the inauspicious peasant plumped into their arms from round a corner. And here, lest you should think I am exaggerating, is Hazlitt's own confession, from his essay “On Going a Journey,” which is so good that there should be a tax levied on all who have not read it:
   "Give me the clear blue sky over my head," says he, "and the green turf beneath my feet, a winding road before me, and a three hours' march to dinner - and then to thinking! It is hard if I cannot start some game on these lone heaths. I laugh, I run, I leap, I sing for joy."
   Bravo! After that adventure of my friend with the policeman, you would not have cared, would you, to publish that in the first person? But we have no bravery nowadays, and, even in books, must all pretend to be as dull and foolish as our neighbours. It was not so with Hazlitt. And notice how learned he is (as, indeed, throughout the essay) in the theory of walking tours. He is none of your athletic men in purple stockings, who walk their fifty miles a day: three hours' march is his ideal. And then he must have a winding road, the epicure!
   Yet there is one thing I object to in these words of his, one thing in the great master's practice that seems to me not wholly wise. I do not approve of that leaping and running. Both of these hurry the respiration; they both shake up the brain out of its glorious open-air confusion; and they both break the pace. Uneven walking is not so agreeable to the body, and it distracts and irritates the mind. Whereas, when once you have fallen into an equable stride, it requires no conscious thought from you to keep it up, and yet it prevents you from thinking earnestly of anything else. Like knitting, like the work of a copying clerk, it gradually neutralises and sets to sleep the serious activity of the mind. We can think of this or that, lightly and laughingly, as a child thinks, or as we think in a morning dose; we can make puns or puzzle out acrostics, and trifle in a thousand ways with words and rhymes; but when it comes to honest work, when we come to gather ourselves together for an effort, we may sound the trumpet as loud and long as we please; the great barons of the mind will not rally to the standard, but sit, each one, at home, warming his hands over his own fire and brooding on his own private thought!
   In the course of a day's walk, you see, there is much variance in the mood. From the exhilaration of the start, to the happy phlegm of the arrival, the change is certainly great. As the day goes on, the traveller moves from the one extreme towards the other. He becomes more and more incorporated with the material landscape, and the open-air drunkenness grows upon him with great strides, until he posts along the road, and sees everything about him, as in a cheerful dream. The first is certainly brighter, but the second stage is the more peaceful. A man does not make so many articles towards the end, nor does he laugh aloud; but the purely animal pleasures, the sense of physical wellbeing, the delight of every inhalation, of every time the muscles tighten down the thigh, console him for the absence of the others, and bring him to his destination still content.
   Nor must I forget to say a word on bivouacs. You come to a milestone on a hill, or some place where deep ways meet under trees; and off goes the knapsack, and down you sit to smoke a pipe in the shade. You sink into yourself, and the birds come round and look at you; and your smoke dissipates upon the afternoon under the blue dome of heaven; and the sun lies warm upon your feet, and the cool air visits your neck and turns aside your open shirt. If you are not happy, you must have an evil conscience. You may dally as long as you like by the roadside. It is almost as if the millennium were arrived, when we shall throw our clocks and watches over the housetop, and remember time and seasons no more. Not to keep hours for a lifetime is, I was going to say, to live for ever. You have no idea, unless you have tried it, how endlessly long is a summer's day, that you measure out only by hunger, and bring to an end only when you are drowsy. I know a village where there are hardly any clocks, where no one knows more of the days of the week than by a sort of instinct for the fete on Sundays, and where only one person can tell you the day of the month, and she is generally wrong; and if people were aware how slow Time journeyed in that village, and what armfuls of spare hours he gives, over and above the bargain, to its wise inhabitants, I believe there would be a stampede out of London, Liverpool, Paris, and a variety of large towns, where the clocks lose their heads, and shake the hours out each one faster than the other, as though they were all in a wager. And all these foolish pilgrims would each bring his own misery along with him, in a watch-pocket! It is to be noticed, there were no clocks and watches in the much-vaunted days before the flood. It follows, of course, there were no appointments, and punctuality was not yet thought upon. "Though ye take from a covetous man all his treasure," says Milton, "he has yet one jewel left; ye cannot deprive him of his covetousness." And so I would say of a modern man of business, you may do what you will for him, put him in Eden, give him the elixir of life - he has still a flaw at heart, he still has his business habits. Now, there is no time when business habits are more mitigated than on a walking tour. And so during these halts, as I say, you will feel almost free.
   But it is at night, and after dinner, that the best hour comes. There are no such pipes to be smoked as those that follow a good day's march; the flavour of the tobacco is a thing to be remembered, it is so dry and aromatic, so full and so fine. If you wind up the evening with grog, you will own there was never such grog; at every sip a jocund tranquillity spreads about your limbs, and sits easily in your heart. If you read a book - and you will never do so save by fits and starts - you find the language strangely racy and harmonious; words take a new meaning; single sentences possess the ear for half an hour together; and the writer endears himself to you, at every page, by the nicest coincidence of sentiment. It seems as if it were a book you had written yourself in a dream. To all we have read on such occasions we look back with special favour. "It was on the 10th of April, 1798," says Hazlitt, with amorous precision, "that I sat down to a volume of the new Heloise, at the Inn at Llangollen, over a bottle of sherry and a cold chicken." I should wish to quote more, for though we are mighty fine fellows nowadays, we cannot write like Hazlitt. And, talking of that, a volume of Hazlitt's essays would be a capital pocket-book on such a journey; so would a volume of Heine's songs; and for Tristam Shandy I can pledge a fair experience.
  If the evening be fine and warm, there is nothing better in life than to lounge before the inn door in the sunset, or lean over the parapet of the bridge, to watch the weeds and the quick fishes. It is then, if ever, that you taste Joviality to the full significance of that audacious word. Your muscles are so agreeably slack, you feel so clean and so strong and so idle, that whether you move or sit still, whatever you do is done with pride and a kingly sort of pleasure. You fall in talk with any one, wise or foolish, drunk or sober. And it seems as if a hot walk purged you, more than of anything else, of all narrowness and pride, and left curiosity to play its part freely, as in a child or a man of science. You lay aside all your own hobbies, to watch provincial humours develop themselves before you, now as a laughable farce, and now grave and beautiful like an old tale.
  Or perhaps you are left to your own company for the night, and surly weather imprisons you by the fire. You may remember how Burns, numbering past pleasures, dwells upon the hours when he has been "happy thinking." It is a phrase that may well perplex a poor modern, girt about on every side by clocks and chimes, and haunted, even at night, by flaming dial-plates. For we are all so busy, and have so many far-off projects to realise, and castles in the fire to turn into solid habitable mansions on a gravel soil, that we can find no time for pleasure trips into the Land of Thought and among the Hills of Vanity. Changed times, indeed, when we must sit all night, beside the fire, with folded hands; and a changed world for most of us, when we find we can pass the hours without discontent and be happy thinking. We are in such haste to be doing, to be writing, to be gathering gear, to make our voice audible a moment in the derisive silence of eternity, that we forget that one thing, of which these are but the parts - namely, to live. We fall in love, we drink hard, we run to and fro upon the earth like frightened sheep. And now you are to ask yourself if, when all is done, you would not have been better to sit by the fire at home, and be happy thinking. To sit still and contemplate, - to remember the faces of women without desire, to be pleased by the great deeds of men without envy, to be everything and everywhere in sympathy, and yet content to remain where and what you are - is not this to know both wisdom and virtue, and to dwell with happiness? After all, it is not they who carry flags, but they who look upon it from a private chamber, who have the fun of the procession. And once you are at that, you are in the very humour of all social heresy. It is no time for shuffling, or for big, empty words. If you ask yourself what you mean by fame, riches, or learning, the answer is far to seek; and you go back into that kingdom of light imaginations, which seem so vain in the eyes of Philistines perspiring after wealth, and so momentous to those who are stricken with the disproportions of the world, and, in the face of the gigantic stars, cannot stop to split differences between two degrees of the infinitesimally small, such as a tobacco pipe or the Roman Empire, a million of money or a fiddlestick's end.
   You lean from the window, your last pipe reeking whitely into the darkness, your body full of delicious pains, your mind enthroned in the seventh circle of content; when suddenly the mood changes, the weather-cock goes about, and you ask yourself one question more: whether, for the interval, you have been the wisest philosopher or the most egregious of donkeys? Human experience is not yet able to reply; but at least you have had a fine moment, and looked down upon all the kingdoms of the earth. And whether it was wise or foolish, to-morrow's travel will carry you, body and mind, into some different parish of the infinite.

     I was born in a crowd. This has begot in me an entire affection for that way of life, amounting to an almost insurmountable aversion from solitude and rural scenes… For my own part, I have no hesitation in declaring, that a mob of happy faces crowding up at the pit door of Drury-lane Theatre, just at the hour of six, gives me ten thousand sincerer pleasures, than I could ever receive from all the silly sheep that ever whitened the plains of Arcadia or Epsom Downs.
 --Charles Lamb

Jack Kerouac, On the Road:
   What is the feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing?it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-by. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.

     Poverty is considered a virtue among the monks of civilized nations—in America you spend a night in the calaboose if you’re caught short without your vagrancy change..
     I myself was a hobo but I had to give it up around 1956 because of increasing television stories about the abominableness of strangers with packs passing through by themselves independently—I was surrounded by three squad cars in Tucson Arizona at 2 AM as I was walking pack-on-back for a night’s sweet sleep in the red moon desert
    As far as I’m concerned the only thing to do is sit in a room and get drunk and give up your hoboing and your camping ambitions because there aint a sheriff or fire warden in any of the new fifty states who will let you cook a little meal over some burning sticks in the cane brake or the hidden valley or anyplace any more because he has nothing to do but pick on what he sees out there on the landscape moving independently of the gasoline power army police station
    A man who has enough to live on, if he knew how to stay at pleasure at home, would not leave it to go to sea or to besiege a town.

Blaise Pascal, Pensées:
Our nature consists in motion; complete rest is death [and] A man who has enough to live on, if he knew how to stay at pleasure at home, would not leave it to go to sea or to besiege a town.

Lao-tzu, "Far Seeing" (Chien Yuan)

Without opening your door you can open your heart to the world
without looking out your window 
you can see the essence of the tao
the more you know
the less you understand
the master arrives without leaving
sees the light without looking
achieves without doing

Washington Irving, The Alhambra (1832)

(In the spring of 1829, the author of this work, whom curiosity had brought into Spain, made a rambling expedition from Seville to Granada in company with a friend, a member of the Russian Embassy at Madrid.)

Such were our minor preparations for the journey, but above all we laid in an ample-stock of good-humor, and a genuine disposition to be pleased; determining to take things as we found them, rough or smooth, and mingle with all classes and conditions in a kind of vagabond companionship. It is the true way to travel in Spain. With such disposition and determination, what a country is it for a traveller, where the most miserable inn is as full of adventure as an enchanted castle, and every meal is in itself an achievement! Let others repine at the lack of turnpike roads and sumptuous hotels, and all the elaborate comforts of a country cultivated and civilized into tameness and commonplace; but give me the rude mountain scramble; the roving, hap-hazard wayfaring; the half wild, yet frank and hospitable manners, which impart such a true game-flavor to dear old romantic Spain!
[and from Bracebridge Hall]:

There is no happier being than the busy idler; that is to say, a man who is eternally busy about nothing.

Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:
I never felt easy till the raft was two mile below 
there and out in the middle of the Mississippi. Then 
we hung up our signal lantern, and judged that we was 
free and safe once more. I hadn't had a bite to eat 
since yesterday, so Jim he got out some corn-dodgers 
and buttermilk, and pork and cabbage and greens -- 
there ain't nothing in the world so good when it's 
cooked right -- and whilst I eat my supper we talked 
and had a good time. I was powerful glad to get 
away from the feuds, and so was Jim to get away from 
the swamp. We said there warn't no home like a 
raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up 
and smothery, but a raft don't. You feel mighty free 
and easy and comfortable on a raft.
[and from Roughing It]:

And it was comfort in those succeeding days to sit up and contemplate the majestic  panorama of mountains and valleys spread out below us and eat ham  and hard boiled eggs while our spirited natures reveled alternately in   rainbows, thunderstorms, and peerless sunsets. Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs. Ham and eggs, and after these a pipe-- an old, rank, delicious pipe—ham and eggs and scenery, a “down grade,” a   flying coach, a fragrant pipe and a contented heart—these make  happiness. It is what all the ages have struggled for.


Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland:

... “Cheshire-Puss,” she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider. “Come, it’s pleased so far,” thought Alice, and she went on. “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
   “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
   “I don’t much care where–
” said Alice.
   “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
as long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
   “Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

Alan Breck, in Robert Louis Stevenson's Katriona:
“I’m not just precisely a man that’s easily cast down; but I do better with caller air and the lift above my head. I’m like the auld Black Douglas (wasnae’t?) that likit better to hear the laverock sing than the mouse cheep.”

Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop:
…‘Yes, let us go,’ said the child earnestly. ‘Let us be gone from this place, and never turn back or think of it again. Let us wander barefoot through the world, rather than linger here.’
       ‘We will,’ answered the old man, ‘we will travel afoot through fields and woods, and by the side of rivers, and trust ourselves to God in the places where He dwells. It is far better to lie down at night beneath an open sky like that yonder – see how bright it is – than to rest in close rooms which are always full of care and weary dreams….’