Let no man write
Thy epitaph, Emmett; thou shalt not go
Without thy funeral strain! O young and good,
And wise, though erring here, thou shalt not go
Unhonored or unsung. And better thus
Beneath that undiscriminating stroke,
Better to fall, than to have lived to mourn,
As sure thou wouldst, in misery and remorse,
Thine own disastrous triumph * * * *
How happier thus, in that heroic mood
That takes away the sting of death, to die,
By all the good and all the wise forgiven!
Yea, in all ages by the wise and good
To be remembered, mourned, and honored still!
—Southey to Robert Emmett
Most generally, when I travel, I go alone–this to insure being in good company. To travel with another is a terrible risk: it puts a great strain on the affections.
I once made the tour of Scotland with a man who was traveling for his health. He had kidney-trouble belief. I had known the man in a casual way for several years, and we started out the best of friends, anticipating a good time. We were gone three weeks, and when we got back I hated the fellow thoroughly, and I have every reason to believe that he fully reciprocated the sentiment.
And yet he was an honest man, and I am, too, although not an extremist. There was nothing to quarrel about; it began at Euston Station, where I bought third-class tickets. He said he preferred to ride first-class, or second, at least–there was such a thing as false economy.
I asked him why he had not said something along this line before I had purchased the tickets.
He retorted that I had not consulted his preference in the matter. I brought in a mild rejoinder by moving the previous question, and showing that he, himself, had proposed that I should take entire charge of the arrangements, using my own good judgment at all times.
He said something about his error in supposing he was traveling with a discerning person. Just then the guard came along, slamming the doors, and we were pushed into a third-class carriage, where we enjoyed an all-day journey together.
At Edinburgh my companion wished to ascend the Scott monument, visit a friend at the University, and buy a plaid rug at one of the shops in Princess Street; while I proposed to look up the footprints of Bobbie Burns and John Knox. He said, “Confound John Knox!” I answered, “You evidently think I am referring to Knox the Hatter!” He grew mad as a hatter, and I had to defend John Knox, and later had to do the same for Rab and his friends, as well as for Christopher North.
And so it went–he pooh-poohed my heroes; and I scorned the friend he wished to find at the University, smiled patronizingly on the Scott monument, and said, “hoot mon” at the idea of buying a plaid rug in Princess Street.
All this was many years ago; since then I have been very cautious about entering into any Anglo-American alliances. Yet to travel alone often seems to be dropping something out of your life. When the voyage is rough, the weather bad and the fare below par, my spirits always rise. I say to myself: “My son, this is certainly tough–but who cares! We can stand it, we have had this way right along year after year–but just imagine your plight if there were some one in your charge expecting a good time!”
Then I drink to Boreas and all the fiends of Gehenna, and am supremely content.
But suppose the night is resplendent with stars, the waves tremulous with reflected beauty, and as the great ship goes gliding across the deep–proud, strong and tireless–there come to you thoughts sublime and emotions such as Wagner knew when he wrote the “Pilgrims’ Chorus.”