Of Going a Journey (January 1822, New Monthly Magazine, and reprinted in Table Talk, Vol. II)


by William Hazlitt (1778 - 1830)

This commences with bald Romanticism – declaring the pleasure of a solitary tromp through nature – but then qualifies itself. Unlike Coleridge, the prickly Hazlitt cannot walk and talk, preferring silence en route and time to construct eloquence afterwards.

He pretends to no spontaneous communion with nature, but rhapsodises about people-watching at an inn. The latter half concerns Hazlitt’s trepidations about foreign travel, which requires too much narrow attention on the present, an itinerary, and ‘fellowship and support’. He measures how far into or out of the self different forms of travel take us, concluding that ‘destiny’ is fulfilled only at home.

Related recommendation: Thoreau’s ‘Walking’ (1862); Spectator No.454 by Steele (1712)

Origin: Britain

Themes: Walking, Artistic Method, Vocation and Celebrity, Nature or Architecture/ Material Environment

Genres: Familiar or Personal, Periodical

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