The Un-Commercial Traveler
It lately happened that I found myself rambling about the scenes among which my
earliest days were passed; scenes from which I departed when I was a child, and which I
did not revisit until I was a man. This is no uncommon chance, but one that befalls some
of us any day; perhaps it may not be quite uninteresting to compare notes with the reader
respecting an experience so familiar and a journey so uncommercial.
I call my boyhood's home (and I feel like a Tenor in an English Opera when I mention it)
Dullborough. Most of us come from Dullborough who come from a country town.
As I left Dullborough in the days when there were no railroads in the land, I left it in a
stage-coach. Through all the years that have since passed, have I ever lost the smell of the
damp straw in which I was packed - like game - and forwarded, carriage paid, to the
Cross Keys, Wood-street, Cheapside, London? There was no other inside passenger, and
I consumed my sandwiches in solitude and dreariness, and it rained hard all the way, and
I thought life sloppier than I had expected to find it.
With this tender remembrance upon me, I was cavalierly shunted back into Dullborough
the other day, by train. My ticket had been previously collected, like my taxes, and my
shining new portmanteau had had a great plaster stuck upon it, and I had been defied by
Act of Parliament to offer an objection to anything that was done to it, or me, under a
penalty of not less than forty shillings or more than five pounds, compoundable for a term
of imprisonment. When I had sent my disfigured property on to the hotel, I began to look
about me; and the first discovery I made, was, that the Station had swallowed up the
It was gone. The two beautiful hawthorn-trees, the hedge, the turf, and all those
buttercups and daisies, had given place to the stoniest of jolting roads: while, beyond the
Station, an ugly dark monster of a tunnel kept its jaws open, as if it had swallowed them
and were ravenous for more destruction. The coach that had carried me away, was
melodiously called Timpson's Blue-Eyed Maid, and belonged to Timpson, at the coach-
office up-street; the locomotive engine that had brought me back, was called severely No.
97, and belonged to S.E.R., and was spitting ashes and hot water over the blighted
When I had been let out at the platform-door, like a prisoner whom his turnkey
grudgingly released, I looked in again over the low wall, at the scene of departed glories.
Here, in the haymaking time, had I been delivered from the dungeons of Seringapatam,
an immense pile (of haycock), by my own countrymen, the victorious British (boy next
door and his two cousins), and had been recognised with ecstasy by my affianced one
(Miss Green), who had come all the way from England (second house in the terrace) to
ransom me, and marry me. Here, had I first heard in confidence, from one whose father
was greatly connected, being under Government, of the existence of a terrible banditti,
called 'The Radicals,' whose principles were, that the Prince Regent wore stays, and that