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On Watering Places
by [?]

What a great deal of trouble and time it takes to choose a watering-place! And yet there are many and various kinds of resorts, some for one season, some for another.

If you could be carried sufficiently high above the earth so as to have a bird’s-eye view of the whole of Great Britain, what a strange sight it would present during the months of August and September! The county would appear surrounded with a human fringe, the outer edge more resembling a disturbed ants’ hill than anything else. I don’t suppose we should appear more significant than ants at that distance.

There are those places teeming with shop-keepers and children, when you can scarcely see the beach so covered is it with those who are making the most of their one holiday in the year.

There is the primitive little village, discovered by few, which is welcomed by the city man who wants rest and entire seclusion from business matters and the world for a month or two. And oh, what language he uses! and how annoyed he is to find absolutely nothing to do–one post a day, and, worst of all, no newspaper until late in the afternoon! And this is the man who wishes to be shut out from the world and from his acquaintances! There is no pier, there are no amusements. The esplanade is composed of nothing more than a plank of wood, on which, in walking you have to observe much caution in order to keep your balance; and sometimes the butcher from the neighboring village forgets to call! In desperation, the unfortunate creature digs sand-castles with his children, and, after a few days of his banishment, grows quite excited as the waves wash up and undermine their foundations. He picks acquaintance with anybody he comes across, be he peer or peasant–anything to make the time pass a little quicker until he can return to the stir of his business life again.

Someone remarks somewhere that “a man works one-half of his life in order that he may rest the other.” I wonder if those who are successful ever appreciate their rest when they get it! I wonder if it comes up to their expectations! if the goal toward which they have been looking almost since they began to exist is worth the trouble and energy spent on it! Ah, I am afraid they very rarely find it so! They have become so immured in their busy lives, that it is difficult to grow accustomed to any other. Unless one is brought up to it, the Dolce far niente is not an existence we enjoy. We are made the wrong way about somehow. We ought to be born old and gradually grow younger as the years roll on. Still, I daresay there would be something to complain of even then, and perhaps it would not be very dignified to go off the stage as a baby!

To go to the opposite extreme, there are the fashionable water-places; little Londons, or rather little imitations of London; for beside that great capital itself they are like pieces of glass to a diamond. And yet fashion and folly are all here, sunning themselves by the sea instead of in the park; driving up and down in the same way, in equally charming toilets. But still there seems to be something lacking, something wanting. They are too small, these towns; you so soon know everyone by sight, and grow tired both of them and their costumes. There is a good deal of stir and life about all the same. There are bands, niggers, clairvoyantes, fire-eaters; plenty indeed for you to see and hear when you are weary of strutting up and down and nodding to your friends. And yet, in spite of all, you grow tired of “London by the sea,” after a few weeks, even in that dead season of the year–November.