Poor Miss Finch
Madame Pratolungo Makes A Voyage On Land
A WELL-FED boy, with yellow Saxon hair; a little shabby green chaise; and a rough
brown pony--these objects confronted me at the Lewes Station. I said to the boy, "Are
you Reverend Finch's servant?" And the boy answered, "I be he."
We drove through the town--a hilly town of desolate clean houses. No living creatures
visible behind the jealously-shut windows. No living creatures entering or departing
through the sad-colored closed doors. No theater; no place of amusement except an
empty town-hall, with a sad policeman meditating on its spruce white steps. No
customers in the shops, and nobody to serve them behind the counter, even if they had
turned up. Here and there on the pavements, an inhabitant with a capacity for staring, and
(apparently) a capacity for nothing else. I said to Reverend Finch's boy, "Is this a rich
place?" Reverend Finch's boy brightened and answered, "That it be!" Good. At any rate,
they don't enjoy themselves here--the infamous rich!
Leaving this town of unamused citizens immured in domestic tombs, we got on a fine
high road--still ascending--with a spacious open country on either side of it.
A spacious open country is a country soon exhausted by a sight-seer's eye. I have learnt
from my poor Pratolungo the habit of searching for the political convictions of my
fellow-creatures, when I find myself in contact with them in strange places. Having
nothing else to do, I searched Finch's boy. His political programme, I found to be:--As
much meat and beer as I can contain; and as little work to do for it as possible. In return
for this, to touch my hat when I meet the Squire, and to be content with the station to
which it has pleased God to call me. Miserable Finch's boy!
We reached the highest point of the road. On our right hand, the ground sloped away
gently into a fertile valley--with a village and a church in it; and beyond, an abominable
privileged enclosure of grass and trees torn from the community by a tyrant, and called a
Park; with the palace in which this enemy of mankind caroused and fattened, standing in
the midst. On our left hand, spread the open country--a magnificent prospect of grand
grassy hills, rolling away to the horizon; bounded only by the sky. To my surprise,
Finch's boy descended; took the pony by the head; and deliberately led him off the high
road, and on to the wilderness of grassy hills, on which not so much as a footpath was
discernible anywhere, far or near. The chaise began to heave and roll like a ship on the
sea. It became necessary to hold with both hands to keep my place. I thought first of my
luggage--then of myself.
"How much is there of this?" I asked.
"Three mile on't," answered Finch's boy.
I insisted on stopping the ship--I mean the chaise--and on getting out. We tied my
luggage fast with a rope; and then we went on again, the boy at the pony's head, and I
after them on foot.
Ah, what a walk it was! What air over my head; what grass under my feet! The sweetness
of the inner land, and the crisp saltness of the distant sea, were mixed in that delicious
breeze. The short turf, fragrant with odorous herbs, rose and fell elastic, underfoot. The
mountain-piles of white cloud moved in sublime procession along the blue field of