Stopping over night at LeBoy, in company with the president and captain of the LeBoy Club, I visit the State fish-hatchery at Mumford next morning, and ride on through the Genesee Valley, finding fair roads through the valley, though somewhat hilly and stony toward Canandaigua. Inquiring the best road to Geneva I am advised of the superiority of the one leading past the poor-house. Finding them somewhat intricate, and being too super-sensitive to stop people and ask them the road to the poor-house, I deservedly get lost, and am wandering erratically eastward through the darkness, when I fortunately meet a wheelman in a buggy, who directs me to his mother's farm-house near by, with instructions to that most excellent lady to accommodate me for the night. Nine o'clock next morning I reach fair Geneva, so beautifully situated on Seneca's silvery lake, passing the State agricultural farm en route; continuing on up the Seneca River, passing-through Waterloo and Seneca Falls to Cayuga, and from thence to Auburn and Skaneateles, where I heave a sigh at the thoughts of leaving the last - I cannot say the loveliest, for all are equally lovely - of that beautiful chain of lakes that transforms this part of New York State into a vast and delightful summer resort.
"Down a romantic Swiss glen, where scores of sylvan nooks and rippling rills invite one to cast about for fairies and sprites," is the word descriptive of my route from Marcellus next morning. Once again, on nearing the Camillus outlet from the narrow vale, I hear the sound of Sunday bells, and after the church-bell-less Western wilds, it seems to me that their notes have visited me amid beautiful scenes, strangely often of late. Arriving at Camillus, I ask the name of the sparkling little stream that dances along this fairy glen like a child at play, absorbing the sun-rays and coquettishly reflecting them in the faces of the venerable oaks that bend over it like loving guardians protecting it from evil. My ears are prepared to hear a musical Indian name - "Laughing-Waters" at least; but, like a week's washing ruthlessly intruding upon love's young dream, falls on my waiting ears the unpoetic misnomer, "Nine-Mile Creek."
Bluff on the Erie Canal, Near Little Falls
Over good roads to Syracuse, and from thence my route leads down the Erie Canal, alternately riding down the canal tow-path, the wagon-roads, and between the tracks of the New York Central Railway. On the former, the greatest drawback to peaceful cycling is the towing-mule and his unwarrantable animosity toward the bicycle, and the awful, unmentionable profanity engendered thereby in the utterances of the boatmen. Sometimes the burden of this sulphurous profanity is aimed at me, sometimes at the inoffensive bicycle, or both of us collectively, but oftener is it directed at the unspeakable mule, who is really the only party to blame. A mule scares, not because he is really afraid, but because he feels skittishly inclined to turn back, or to make trouble between his enemies - the boatmen, his task-master, and the cycler, an intruder on his exclusive domain, the Erie tow-path. A span of mules will pretend to scare, whirl around, and jerk loose from the driver, and go "scooting" back down the tow-path in a manner indicating that nothing less than a stone wall would stop them; but, exactly in the nick of time to prevent the tow-line jerking them sidewise into the canal, they stop. Trust a mule for never losing his head when he runs away, as does his hot-headed relative, the horse; who never once allows surrounding circumstances to occupy his thoughts to an extent detrimental to his own self-preservative interests. The Erie Canal mule's first mission in life is to engender profanity and strife between boatmen and cyclists, and the second is to work and chew hay, which brings him out about even with the world all round.
At Rome I enter the famous and beautiful Mohawk Valley, a place long looked forward to with much pleasurable anticipation, from having heard so often of its natural beauties and its interesting historical associations. "It's the garden spot of the world; and travellers who have been all over Europe and everywhere, say there's nothing in the world to equal the quiet landscape beauty of the Mohawk Valley," enthusiastically remarks an old gentelman in spectacles, whom I chance to encounter on the heights east of Herkimer. Of the first assertion I have nothing to say, having passed through a dozen "garden spots of the world " on this tour across America; but there is no gainsaying the fact that the Mohawk Valley, as viewed from this vantage spot, is wonderfully beautiful. I think it must have been on this spot that the poet received inspiration to compose the beautiful song that is sung alike in the quiet homes of the valley itself and in the trapper's and hunter's tent on the far off Yellowstone –
"Fair is the vale where the Mohawk gently glides, On its clear, shining way to the sea."
The valley is one of the natural gateways of commerce, for, at Little Falls - where it contracts to a mere pass between the hills - one can almost throw a stone across six railway tracks, the Erie Canal and the Mohawk River. Spending an hour looking over the magnificent Capitol building at Albany, I cross the Hudson, and proceed to ride eastward between the two tracks of the Boston & Albany Railroad, finding the riding very fair. From the elevated road-bed I cast a longing, lingering look down the Hudson Valley, that stretches away southward like a heaven-born dream, and sigh at the impossibility of going two ways at once. "There's $50 fine for riding a bicycle along the B. & A. Railroad," I am informed at Albany, but risk it to Schodack, where I make inquiries of a section foreman. "No; there's no foine; but av yeez are run over an' git killed, it'll be useless for yeez to inther suit agin the company for damages," is the reassuring reply; and the unpleasant visions of bankrupting fines dissolve in a smile at this characteristic Milesian explanation.
Crossing the Massachusetts boundary at the village of State Line, I find the roads excellent; and, thinking that the highways of the "Old Bay State " will be good enough anywhere, I grow careless about the minute directions given me by Albany wheelmen, and, ere long, am laboriously toiling over the heavy roads and steep grades of the Berkshire Hills, endeavoring to get what consolation I can, in return for unridable roads, out of the charming scenery, and the many interesting features of the Berkshire-Hill country. It is at Otis, in the midst of these hills, that I first become acquainted with the peculiar New England dialect in its native home.
The widely heralded intellectual superiority of the Massachusetts fair ones asserts itself even in the wildest parts of these wild hills; for at small farms - that, in most States, would be characterized by bare-footed, brown-faced housewives - I encounter spectacled ladies whose fair faces reflect the encyclopaedia of knowledge within, and whose wise looks naturally fill me with awe. At Westfield I learn that Karl Kron, the author and publisher of the American roadbook, "Ten Thousand Miles on a Bicycle" - not to be outdone by my exploit of floating the bicycle across the Humboldt - undertook the perilous feat of swimming the Potomac with his bicycle suspended at his waist, and had to be fished up from the bottom with a boat-hook. Since then, however, I have seen the gentleman himself, who assures me that the whole story is a canard. Over good roads to Springfield - and on through to Palmer; from thence riding the whole distance to Worcester between the tracks of the railway, in preference to the variable country roads.
On to Boston next morning, now only forty miles away, I pass venerable weather-worn mile-stones, set up in old colonial days, when the Great West, now trailed across with the rubber hoof-marks of "the popular steed of today," was a pathless wilderness, and on the maps a blank. Striking the famous "sand-papered roads " at Framingham - which, by the by, ought to be pumice-stoned a little to make them as good for cycling as stretches of gravelled road near Springfield, Sandwich, and Piano, Ill.; La Porte, and South Bend, Ind.; Mentor, and Willoughby, O.; Girard, Penn.; several places on the ridge road between Erie and Buffalo, and the alkali flats of the Rocky Mountain territories. Soon the blue intellectual haze hovering over " the Hub " heaves in sight, and, at two o'clock in the afternoon of August 4th, I roll into Boston, and whisper to the wild waves of the sounding Atlantic what the sad sea-waves of the Pacific were saying when I left there, just one hundred and three and a half days ago, having wheeled about 3,700 miles to deliver the message.
Passing the winter of 1884-85 in New York, I became acquainted with the Outing Magazine, contributed to it sketches of my tour across America, and in the Spring of 1885 continued around the world as its special correspondent; embarking April 9th from New York, for Liverpool, aboard the City of Chicago.
FROM AMERICA TO THE GERMAN FRONTIER.
At one P.M., on that day, the ponderous but shapely hull of the City of Chicago, with its living and lively freight, moves from the dock as though it, too, were endowed with mind as well with matter; the crowds that a minute ago disappeared down the gangplank are now congregated on the outer end of the pier, a compact mass of waving handkerchiefs, and anxious-faced people shouting out signs of recognition to friends aboard the departing steamer.
From beginning to end of the voyage across the Atlantic the weather is delightful; and the passengers - well, half the cabin-passengers are members of Henry Irving's Lyceum Company en route home after their second successful tour in America; and old voyagers abroad who have crossed the Atlantic scores of times pronounce it altogether the most enjoyable trip they ever experienced. The third day out we encountered a lonesome-looking iceberg - an object that the captain seemed to think would be better appreciated, and possibly more affectionately remembered, if viewed at the respectful distance of about four miles. It proves a cold, unsympathetic berg, yet extremely entertaining in its own way, since it accommodates us by neutralizing pretty much all the surplus caloric in the atmosphere around for hours after it has disappeared below the horizon of our vision.
I am particularly fortunate in finding among my fellow-passengers Mr. Harry B. French, the traveller and author, from whom I obtain much valuable information, particularly of China. Mr. French has travelled some distance through the Flowery Kingdom himself, and thoughtfully forewarns me to anticipate a particularly lively and interesting time in invading that country with a vehicle so strange and incomprehensible to the Celestial mind as a bicycle. This experienced gentleman informs me, among other interesting things, that if five hundred chattering Celestials batter down the door and swarm unannounced at midnight into the apartment where I am endeavoring to get the first wink of sleep obtained for a whole week, instead of following the natural inclinations of an Anglo-Saxon to energetically defend his rights with a stuffed club, I shall display Solomon-like wisdom by quietly submitting to the invasion, and deferentially bowing to Chinese inquisitiveness. If, on an occasion of this nature, one stationed himself behind the door, and, as a sort of preliminary warning to the others, greeted the first interloper with the business end of a boot-jack, he would be morally certain of a lively one-sided misunderstanding that might end disastrously to himself; whereas, by meekly submitting to a critical and exhaustive examination by the assembled company, he might even become the recipient of an apology for having had to batter down the door in order to satisfy their curiosity. One needs more discretion than valor in dealing with the Chinese.
At noon on the 19th we reach Liverpool, where I find a letter awaiting me from A. J. Wilson (Faed), inviting me to call on him at Powerscroft House, London, and offering to tandem me through the intricate mazes of the West End; likewise asking whether it would be agreeable to have him, with others, accompany me from London down to the South coast - a programme to which, it is needless to say, I entertain no objections. As the custom- house officer wrenches a board off the broad, flat box containing my American bicycle, several fellow-passengers, prompted by their curiosity to obtain a peep at the machine which they have learned is to carry me around the world, gather about; and one sympathetic lady, as she catches a glimpse of the bright nickeled forks, exclaims, "Oh, what a shame that they should be allowed to wrench the planks off. They might injure it;" but a small tip thoroughly convinces the individual prying off the board that, by removing one section and taking a conscientious squint in the direction of the closed end, his duty to the British government would be performed as faithfully as though everything were laid bare; and the kind-hearted lady's apprehensions of possible injury are thus happily allayed. In two hours after landing, the bicycle is safely stowed away in the underground store-rooms of the Liverpool & Northwestern Railway Company, and in two hours more I am wheeling rapidly toward London, through neatly cultivated fields, and meadows and parks of that intense greenness met with nowhere save in the British Isles, and which causes a couple of native Americans, riding in the same compartment, and who are visiting England for the first time, to express their admiration of it all in the unmeasured language of the genuine Yankee when truly astonished and delighted.
Arriving in London I lose no time in seeking out Mr. Bolton, a well-known wheelman, who has toured on the continent probably as extensively as any other English cycler, and to whom I bear a letter of introduction. Together, on Monday afternoon, we ruthlessly invade the sanctums of the leading cycling papers in London. Mr. Bolton is also able to give me several useful hints concerning wheeling through France and Germany. Then comes the application for a passport, and the inevitable unpleasantness of being suspected by every policeman and detective about the government buildings of being a wild-eyed dynamiter recently arrived from America with the fell purpose of blowing up the place.
On Tuesday I make a formal descent on the Chinese Embassy, to seek information regarding the possibility of making a serpentine trail through the Flowery Kingdom via Upper Burmah to Hong-Kong or Shanghai. Here I learn from Dr. McCarty, the interpreter at the Embassy, as from Mr. French, that, putting it as mildly as possible, I must expect a wild time generally in getting through the interior of China with a bicycle. The Doctor feels certain that I may reasonably anticipate the pleasure of making my way through a howling wilderness of hooting Celestials from one end of the country to the other. The great danger, he thinks, will be not so much the well-known aversion of the Chinese to having an "outer barbarian" penetrate the sacred interior of their country, as the enormous crowds that would almost constantly surround me out of curiosity at both rider and wheel, and the moral certainty of a foreigner unwittingly doing something to offend the Chinamen's peculiar and deep-rooted notions of propriety. This, it is easily seen, would be a peculiarly ticklish thing to do when surrounded by surging masses of dangling pig-tails and cerulean blouses, the wearers of which are from the start predisposed to make things as unpleasant as possible. My own experience alone, however, will prove the kind of reception I am likely to meet with among them; and if they will only considerately refrain from impaling me on a bamboo, after a barbarous and highly ingenious custom of theirs, I little reck what other unpleasantries they have in store. After one remains in the world long enough to find it out, he usually becomes less fastidious about the future of things in general, than when in the hopeful days of boyhood every prospect ahead was fringed with the golden expectations of a budding and inexperienced imagery; nevertheless, a thoughtful, meditative person, who realizes the necessity of drawing the line somewhere, would naturally draw it at impalation. Not being conscious of any presentiment savoring of impalation, however, the only request I make of the Chinese, at present, is to place no insurmountable obstacle against my pursuing the even-or uneven, as the case may be-tenor of my way through their country. China, though, is several revolutions of my fifty-inch wheel away to the eastward, at this present time of writing, and speculations in regard to it are rather premature.
Soon after reaching London I have the pleasure of meeting "Faed," a gentleman who carries his cycling enthusiasm almost where some people are said to carry their hearts-on his sleeve; so that a very short acquaintance only is necessary to convince one of being in the company of a person whose interest in whirling wheels is of no ordinary nature. When I present myself at Powerscroft House, Faed is busily wandering around among the curves and angles of no less than three tricycles, apparently endeavoring to encompass the complicated mechanism of all three in one grand comprehensive effort of the mind, and the addition of as many tricycle crates standing around makes the premises so suggestive of a flourishing tricycle agency that an old gentleman, happening to pass by at the moment, is really quite excusable in stopping and inquiring the prices, with a view to purchasing one for himself. Our tandem ride through the West End has to be indefinitely postponed, on account of my time being limited, and our inability to procure readily a suitable machine; and Mr. Wilson's bump of discretion would not permit him to think of allowing me to attempt the feat of manoeuvring a tricycle myself among the bewildering traffic of the metropolis, and risk bringing my "wheel around the world" to an inglorious conclusion before being fairly begun. While walking down Parliament Street my attention is called to a venerable-looking gentleman wheeling briskly along among the throngs of vehicles of every description, and I am informed that the bold tricycler is none other than Major Knox Holmes, a vigorous youth of some seventy-eight summers, who has recently accomplished the feat of riding one hundred and fourteen miles in ten hours; for a person nearly eighty years of age this is really quite a promising performance, and there is small doubt but that when the gallant Major gets a little older - say when he becomes a centenarian - he will develop into a veritable prodigy on the cinder-path!
Having obtained my passport, and got it vised for the Sultan's dominions at the Turkish consulate, and placed in Faed's possession a bundle of maps, which he generously volunteers to forward , to me, as I require them in the various countries it is proposed to traverse, I return on April 30th to Liverpool, from which point the formal start on the wheel across England is to be made. Four o'clock in the afternoon of May 2d is the time announced, and Edge Hill Church is the appointed place, where Mr. Lawrence , Fletcher, of the Anfield Bicycle Club, and a number of other Liverpool wheelmen, have volunteered to meet and accompany me some distance out of the city. Several of the Liverpool daily papers have made mention of the affair. Accordingly, upon arriving at the appointed place and time, I find a crowd of several hundred people gathered to satisfy their curiosity as to what sort of a looking individual it is who has crossed America awheel, and furthermore proposes to accomplish the greater feat of the circumlocution of the globe. A small sea of hats is enthusiastically waved aloft; a ripple of applause escapes from five hundred English throats as I mount my glistening bicycle; and, with the assistance of a few policemen, the twenty-five Liverpool cyclers who have assembled to accompany me out, extricate themselves from the crowd, mount and fall into line two abreast; and merrily we wheel away down Edge Lane and out of Liverpool.
English weather at this season is notoriously capricious, and the present year it is unusually so, and ere the start is fairly made we are pedaling along through quite a pelting shower, which, however, fails to make much impression on the roads beyond causing the flinging of more or less mud. The majority of my escort are members of the Anfield Club, who have the enviable reputation of being among the hardest road-riders in England, several members having accomplished over two hundred miles within the twenty-four hours; and I am informed that Mr. Fletcher is soon to undertake the task of beating the tricycle record over that already well-contested route, from John O'Groat's to Land's End. Sixteen miles out I become the happy recipient of hearty well-wishes innumerable, with the accompanying hand-shaking, and my escort turn back toward home and Liverpool - all save four, who wheel on to Warrington and remain overnight, with the avowed intention of accompanying me twenty-five miles farther to-morrow morning. Our Sunday morning experience begins with a shower of rain, which, however, augurs well for the remainder of the day; and, save for a gentle head wind, no reproachful remarks are heard about that much-criticised individual, the clerk of the weather; especially as our road leads through a country prolific of everything charming to one's sense of the beautiful. Moreover, we are this morning bowling along the self-same highway that in days of yore was among the favorite promenades of a distinguished and enterprising individual known to every British juvenile as Dick Turpin - a person who won imperishable renown, and the undying affection of the small Briton of to-day, by making it unsafe along here for stage-coaches and travellers indiscreet enough to carry valuables about with them.