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and pant and turn of the screw barely advanced the mass a foot. There are many feet in a mile, and for all that weary time-Pant! pant! pant! This dreadful uproar, like that which Don Quixote and Sancho Panza heard proceeding from the fulling mill, must be endured. Could not philosophy by stoic firmness shut out the sound? Can philosophy shut out anything that is real ? A long black streak of smoke hung over the water, fouling the gleaming surface. A noise of Dante-hideous, uncompromising as the rusty hinge of the gate which forbids hope. Pant! pant! pant!
Once upon a time a Queen of England was rowed adown the silver Thames to the sweet low sound of the flute.
At last the noise grew fainter in the distance, and the black hulls disappeared round the bend. I walked on up the towing-path. Accidentally lifting my hand to shade my eyes, I was hailed by a ferryman on the watch. He conveyed me over without much volition on my part, and set me ashore by the inn of my imagination. The rooms almost overhung the water : so far my vision was fulfilled. Within there was an odour of spirits and spilled ale, a rustle of sporting papers, talk of racings, and the click of billiard-balls. Without there were two
or three loafers, half boatmen, half vagabonds, waiting to pick up stray sixpences—a sort of leprosy of rascal and sneak in their faces and the lounge of their bodies. These Thames-side "beach-combers" are a sorry lot, a special Pariah class of themselves. Some of them have been men once: perhaps one retains his sculling skill, and is occasionally engaged by a gentleman to give him lessons. They regarded me eagerly—they “spotted” a Thames freshman who might be made to yield silver ; but I walked away down the road into the village. The spire of the church interested me, being of shingles-i.e. of wooden slates-as the houses are roofed in America, as houses were roofed in Elizabethan England; for Young America reproduces Old England even in roofs. Some of the houses so closely approached the churchyard that the pantry windows on a level with the ground were partly blocked up by the green mounds of graves. Borage grew thickly all over the yard, dropping its blue flowers on the dead. The sharp note of a bugle rang in the air: they were changing guard, I suppose, in Wolsey's Palace.
In time I did discover a skiff moored in a littlevisited creek, which the boatman got out for me. The sculls were rough and shapeless-it is a remarkable fact that sculls always are, unless you have them made and keep them for your own use. I paddled up the river; I paused by an osier-grown islet; I slipped past the barges, and avoided an unskilful party; it was the morning, and none of the uproarious as yet were about. Certainly, it was very pleasant. The sunshine gleamed on the water, broad shadows of trees fell across ; swans floated in the by-channels. A peacefulness which peculiarly belongs to water hovered above the river. A house-boat was moored near the willow-grown shore, and it was evidently
inhabited, for there was a fire smouldering on the bank, and some linen that had been washed spread on the bushes to bleach. All the windows of this gipsy-van of the river were wide open, and the air and light entered freely into every part of the dwellinghouse under which flowed the stream. A lady was dressing herself before one of these open windows, twining up large braids of dark hair, her large arms bare to the shoulder, and somewhat farther. I immediately steered out into the channel to avoid intrusion; but I felt that she was regarding me with all a matron's contempt for an unknown man -a mere member of the opposite sex, not introduced, or of her "set.” I was merely a man-no more than a horse on the bank,-and had she been in her smock she would have been just as indifferent.
Certainly it was a lovely morning; the old red palace of the Cardinal seemed to slumber amid its trees, as if the passage of the centuries had stroked and soothed it into indolent peace. The meadows rested; even the swallows, the restless swallows, glided in an effortless way through the busy air. I could see this, and yet I did not quite enjoy it; something drew me away from perfect contentment, and gradually it dawned upon me that it was the current causing an unsuspected amount of labour in sculling. The forceless particles of water, so yielding to the touch, which slipped aside at the motion of the oar, in their countless myriads ceaselessly flowing grew to be almost a solid obstruction to the boat. I had not noticed it for a mile or 80; now the pressure of the stream was becoming evident. I persuaded myself that it was nothing. I held on by the boathook to a root and rested, and so went on again. Another mile or more; another rest : decidedly sculling against a swift current is work-downright work. You have no energy to spare over and above that needed for the labour of rowing, not enough even to look round and admire the green loveliness of the shore. I began to think that I should not get as far as Oxford after all.
By-and-by, I began to question if rowing on a river is as pleasant as rowing on a lake, where you can rest on your oars without losing ground, where no current opposes progress, and after the stroke the boat slips ahead some distance of its own impetus. On the river the boat only travels as far as you actually pull it at each stroke; there is no life in it after the scull is lifted, the impetus dies, and the craft first pauses and then drifts backward. I crept along the shore, so near that one scull occasionally grounded, to avoid the main force of the water, which is in the middle of the river. I slipped behind eyots and tried all I knew. In vain, the river was stronger than I, and my arms could not for many hours contend with the Thames. So faded another part of my dream. The idea of rowing from one town to another—of expeditions and travelling across the country, so pleasant to think of-in practice became impossible. An athlete bent on nothing but athleticism-a canoeist thinking of nothing but his canoe—could accomplish it, setting himself daily so much work to do, and resolutely performing it. A dreamer, who wanted to enjoy his passing moment,
and not to keep regular time with his strokes, who wanted to gather flowers, and indulge his luxurious eyes with effects of light and shadow and colour, could not succeed. The river is for the man of might.
With a weary back at last I gave up the struggle at the foot of a weir, almost in the splash of the cascade. My best friend, the boathook, kept me stationary without effort, and in time rest restored the strained muscles to physical equanimity. The roar of the river falling over the dam soothed the mind—the sense of an immense power at hand, working with all its might while you are at ease, has a strangely soothing influence. It makes me sleepy to see the vast beam of an engine regularly rise and fall in ponderous irresistible labour. Now at last some fragment of my fancy was realised--a myriad myriad rushing bubbles whitening the stream burst, and were instantly succeeded by myriads more; the boat faintly vibrated as the wild waters shot beneath it; the green cascade, smooth at its first curve, dashed itself into the depth beneath, broken to a million million particles ; the eddies whirled, and sucked, and sent tiny whirlpools rotating along the surface; the roar rose or lessened in intensity as the velocity of the wind varied ; sunlight sparkledthe warmth inclined the senses to a drowsy idleness. Yonder was the trout fisherman, just as I had imagined him, casting and casting again with that transcendental patience which is genius; his line and the top of his rod formed momentary curves pleasant to look at. The kingfisher did not comeno doubt he had been shot-but a reed-sparrow did,