Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 Rough Hospitality

Rough Hospitality

Pastor Moritz was received in many places with great kindness, which he recognised and appreciated. However, when he attempted a walking tour he ran into problems. As he was to state when he realised the problem:

I was now confirmed in my suspicions, that, in England, any person undertaking so long a journey on foot, is sure to be looked upon and considered as either a beggar or a vagabond, or some necessitous wretch, which is a character not much more popular than that of a rogue; so that I could now easily account for my reception in Windsor and at Nuneham. But, with all my partiality for this country, it is impossible even in theory, and much less so in practice, to approve of a system which confines all the pleasures and benefits of travel to the rich. A poor peripatetic is hardly allowed even the humble merit of being honest.

Windsor, 23rd June.

Windsor #1

As I entered the inn, and desired to have something to eat, the countenance of the waiter soon gave me to understand that I should there find no very friendly reception. Whatever I got they seemed to give me with such an air as showed too plainly how little they thought of me, and as if they considered me but as a beggar. I must do them the justice to own, however, that they suffered me to pay like a gentleman. No doubt this was the first time this pert, bepowdered puppy had ever been called on to wait on a poor devil who entered their place on foot. I was tired, and asked for a bedroom where I might sleep. They showed me into one that much resembled a prison for malefactors. I requested that I might have a better room at night; on which, without any apology, they told me that they had no intention of lodging me, as they had no room for such guests, but that I might go back to Slough, where very probably I might get a night's lodging.

With money in my pocket, and a consciousness, moreover, that I was doing nothing that was either imprudent, unworthy, or really mean, I own it mortified and vexed me to find myself obliged to put up with this impudent ill-usage from people who ought to reflect that they are but the servants of the public, and little likely to recommend themselves to the high by being insolent to the low. They made me, however, pay them two shillings for my dinner and coffee, which I had just thrown down, and was preparing to shake off the dust from my shoes, and quit this inhospitable St. Christopher, when the green hills of Windsor smiled so friendly upon me, that they seemed to invite me first to visit them.

Windsor #2

I was now again in Windsor, and found myself, not far from the castle, opposite to a very capital inn, where I saw many officers and several persons of consequence going in and out. And here at this inn, contrary to all expectation, I was received by the landlord with great civility, and even kindness--very contrary to the haughty and insolent airs which the upstart at the other, and his jackanapes of a waiter, there thought fit to give themselves.

However, it seemed to be my fate to be still a scandal and an eyesore to all the waiters. The maid, by the order of her master, showed me a room where I might adjust my dress a little; but I could hear her mutter and grumble as she went along with me. Having put myself a little to rights, I went down into the coffee-room, which is immediately at the entrance of the house, and told the landlord that I thought I wished to have yet one more walk. On this he obligingly directed me to stroll down a pleasant field behind his house, at the foot of which, he said, I should find the Thames, and a good bathing place.

I followed his advice; and this evening was, if possible, finer than the preceding. Here again, as I had been told I should, I found the Thames with all its gentle windings. Windsor shone nearly as bright over the green vale as those charming houses on Richmond Hill, and the verdure was not less soft and delicate. The field I was in seemed to slope a little towards the Thames. I seated myself near a bush, and there waited the going down of the sun. At a distance I saw a number of people bathing in the Thames. When, after sunset, they were a little dispersed, I drew near the spot I had been directed to; and here, for the first time, I sported in the cool tide of the Thames. The bank was steep, but my landlord had dug some steps that went down into the water, which is extremely convenient for those who cannot swim. Whilst I was there, a couple of smart lively apprentice boys came also from the town, who, with the greatest expedition, threw off their clothes and leathern aprons, and plunged themselves, head foremost, into the water, where they opposed the tide with their sinewy arms till they were tired. They advised me, with much natural civility, to untie my hair, and that then, like them, I might plunge into the stream head foremost.

Refreshed and strengthened by this cool bath, I took a long walk by moonlight on the banks of the Thames. To my left were the towers of Windsor, before me a little village with a steeple, the top of which peeped out among the green trees, at a distance two inviting hills which I was to climb in the morning, and around me the green cornfields. Oh! how indescribably beautiful was this evening and this walk! At a distance among the houses I could easily descry the inn where I lodged, and where I seemed to myself at length to have found a place of refuge and a home; and I thought, if I could but stay there, I should not be very sorry if I were never to find another.

How soon did all these pleasing dreams vanish! On my return the waiters (who, from my appearance, too probably expected but a trifling reward for their attentions to me) received me gruffly, and as if they were sorry to see me again. This was not all; I had the additional mortification to be again roughly accosted by the cross maid who had before shown me to the bed-chamber, and who, dropping a kind of half courtesy, with a suppressed laugh, sneeringly told me I might look out for another lodging, as I could not sleep there, since the room she had by mistake shown me was already engaged. It can hardly be necessary to tell you that I loudly protested against this sudden change. At length the landlord came, and I appealed to him; and he with great courtesy immediately desired another room to be shown me, in which, however, there were two beds, so that I was obliged to admit a companion. Thus was I very near being a second time turned out of an inn.

Directly under my room was the tap-room, from which I could plainly hear too much of the conversation of some low people, who were drinking and singing songs, in which, as far as I could understand them, there were many passages at least as vulgar and nonsensical as ours.

Oxford, June 25.

In Windsor, I was obliged to pay for an old fowl I had for supper, for a bedroom which I procured with some difficulty, and not without murmurs, and in which, to complete my misadventures, I was disturbed by a drunken fellow; and for a couple of dishes of tea, nine shillings, of which the fowl alone was charged six shillings.

As I was going away the waiter, who had served me with so very ill a grace, placed himself on the stairs and said, "Pray remember the waiter." I gave him three halfpence, on which he saluted me with the heartiest "G-d d-n you, sir!" I had ever heard. At the door stood the cross maid, who also accosted me with, "Pray remember the chambermaid." "Yes, yes," said I, "I shall long remember your most ill-mannered behaviour and shameful incivility;" and so I gave her nothing. I hope she was stung and nettled at my reproof; however, she strove to stifle her anger by a contemptuous, loud, hoarse laugh. Thus, as I left Windsor, I was literally followed by abuses and curses.

Nuneham (near Dorchester)

At length quite at the end of the place, I perceived a great sign hanging across the street, and the last house to the left was the inn, at which everything seemed to be still in motion.

I entered without ceremony, and told them my errand, which was, that I intended to sleep there that night. "By no means," was the answer, "it was utterly impossible; the whole house was full, and all their beds engaged, and, as I had come so far, I might even as well walk on the remaining five miles to Oxford."

Being very hungry, I requested that, at least, they would give me something to eat. To this they answered that, as I could not stay all night there, it would be more proper for me to sup where I lodged, and so I might go on.

At length, quite humbled by the untowardness of my circumstances, I asked for a pot of beer, and that they did vouchsafe to give me, for ready money only; but a bit of bread to eat with it (for which also I would willingly have paid) they peremptorily refused me.

Such unparalleled inhospitality I really could not have expected in an English inn, but resolving, with a kind of spiteful indignation, to see how far their inhumanity would carry them, I begged that they would only let me sleep on a bench, and merely give me house-room, adding, that if they would grant me that boon only, I would pay them the same as for a bed, for, that I was so tired, I could not possibly go any farther. Even in the moment that I was thus humbly soliciting this humble boon, they banged the door to full in my face.

Near Matlock

At night I again stopped at an inn on the road, about five miles from Matlock. I could easily have reached Matlock, but I wished rather to reserve the first view of the country till the next day than to get there when it was dark.

But I was not equally fortunate in this inn, as in the two former. The kitchen was full of farmers, among whom I could not distinguish the landlord, whose health I should otherwise immediately have drank. It is true I heard a country girl who was also in the kitchen, as often as she drank say, "Your health, gentlemen all!" But I do not know how it was, I forgot to drink any one's health, which I afterwards found was taken much amiss. The landlord drank twice to my health sneeringly, as if to reprimand me for my incivility; and then began to join the rest in ridiculing me, who almost pointed at me with their fingers. I was thus obliged for a time to serve the farmers as a laughing-stock, till at length one of them compassionately said, "Nay, nay, we must do him no harm, for he is a stranger." The landlord, I suppose, to excuse himself, as if he thought he had perhaps before gone too far said, "Ay, God forbid we should hurt any stranger," and ceased his ridicule; but when I was going to drink his health, he slighted and refused my attention, and told me, with a sneer, all I had to do was to seat myself in the chimney-corner, and not trouble myself about the rest of the world. The landlady seemed to pity me, and so she led me into another room where I could be alone, saying, "What wicked people!"

I left this unfriendly roof early the next morning, and now quickly proceeded to Matlock.


When I came to the last village before I got to Matlock, as it was now evening and dark, I determined to spend the night there, and inquired for an inn, which, I was told, was at the end of the village; and so on I walked, and kept walking till near midnight before I found this same inn. The place seemed to have no end. On my journey to Castleton I must either not have passed through this village or not have noticed its length. Much tired, and not a little indisposed, I at length arrived at the inn, where I sat myself down by the fire in the kitchen, and asked for something to eat. As they told me I could not have a bed here, I replied I absolutely would not be driven away, for that if nothing better could be had I would sit all night by the fire. This I actually prepared to do, and laid my head on the table in order to sleep.

When the people in the kitchen thought that I was asleep, I heard them taking about me, and guessing who or what I might be. One woman alone seemed to take my part, and said, "I daresay he is a well-bred gentleman;" another scouted that notion, merely because, as she said, "I had come on foot;" and "depend on it," said she, "he is some poor travelling creature!" My ears yet ring with the contemptuous tone with which she uttered, "poor travelling creature!" It seems to express all the wretchedness of one who neither has house nor home--a vagabond and outcast of society.

At last, when these unfeeling people saw that I was determined, at all events, to stay there all night, they gave me a bed, but not till I had long given up all hopes of getting one. And in the morning, when they asked me a shilling for it, I gave them half-a- crown, adding, with something of an air, that I would have no change. This I did, though perhaps foolishly, to show them that I was not quite "A POOR CREATURE." And now they took leave of me with great civility and many excuses; and I now continued my journey much at my ease.

Near Nottingham

After I had passed through this village I came to a green field, at the side of which I met with an ale-house. The mistress was sitting at the window. I asked her if I could stay the night there. She said No!" and shut the window in my face.

This unmannerliness recalled to my recollection the many receptions of this kind to which I have now so often been exposed, and I could not forbear uttering aloud my indignation at the inhospitality of the English. This harsh sentiment I soon corrected, however, as I walked on, by recollecting, and placing in the opposite scale, the unbounded and unequalled generosity of this nation, and also the many acts of real and substantial kindness which I had myself experienced in it.

I at last came to another inn, where there was written on the sign: "The Navigation Inn," because it is the depot, or storehouse, of the colliers of the Trent.

A rougher or ruder kind of people I never saw than these colliers, whom I here met assembled in the kitchen, and in whose company I was obliged to spend the evening.

Their language, their dress, their manners were, all of them, singularly vulgar and disagreeable, and their expressions still more so, for they hardly spoke a word, without adding "a G-d d-- me" to it, and thus cursing, quarrelling, drinking, singing, and fighting, they seemed to be pleased, and to enjoy the evening. I must do them the justice to add, that none of them, however, at all molested me or did me any harm. On the contrary, every one again and again drank my health, and I took care not to forget to drink theirs in return. The treatment of my host at Matlock was still fresh in my memory, and so, as often as I drank, I never omitted saying, "Your healths, gentlemen all!"

When two Englishmen quarrel, the fray is carried on, and decided, rather by actions than by words; though loud and boisterous, they do not say much, and frequently repeat the same thing over and over again, always clinching it with an additional "G-- d-- you!" Their anger seems to overpower their utterance, and can vent only by coming to blows.

The landlady, who sat in the kitchen along with all this goodly company, was nevertheless well dressed, and a remarkably well- looking woman. As soon as I had supped I hastened to bed, but could not sleep; my quondam companions, the colliers, made such a noise the whole night through. In the morning, when I got up, there was not cue to be seen nor heard.