On going on a journey
While travelling through the countryside nature is company enough for the narrator and he wants to vegetate like the country and be part of it. A companion constantly reminds him of himself and place. Hazlitt goes out of his town to forget it and all its associations, his everyday-self and other people. But a companion, while talking, drops a hint or so reminding him of his everyday existence that he wants to leave behind. The soul of a journey is liberty, the liberty to think, to feel, to act and be what one likes without any obligation to conform to logic, expectations and manners.
If a companion is present, the writer must act and conform to the demands of fellowship. Thus the friend stands in the way of his liberty. If he has a companion, good manners demand that they should talk to each other. The topics in such cases are often the stale and repeated ones. The need to talk to the companion will not allow him to do as he pleases. He would probably like to run, laugh, sing and jump. He would like to plunge into his past, long forgotten things and muse over them. He cannot indulge in the musings at ease.
On going on a journey Essay Example
He would probably remain silent for long time musing and talk for a while. Such a half-hearted fellowship is one that the writer would better not have. The writer does not find any wisdom in feeling and talking at the same time. He faces the constant necessity to translate his feelings into words and to communicate them. The pleasure of feeling aroused by a beautiful scene or an object turns into a toil. The mind registers an impression deeply if it gets sufficient time to muse over a thing. Interrupted by the constant need to communicate, the things seen cannot leave a deep impression in the mind.
Therefore the writer prefers to use the synthetical method in a journey, not the analytical. To see, feel things and store the impressions and ideas in the mind to analyze them later. Even if one is ready and willing to communicate one’s feelings, the companion may not have the necessary sensibility to share the feelings. If one talks about the smell from a bean field, the friend probably does not have the sharp sense of smell. He may be too short-sighted to see a distant object that one likes to talk about.
The writer thinks that certain communications cannot be communicated at all. The effect of the very air of the place or a patch of cloud has on the mind cannot probably be explained. Yet he will try to account for it and communicate it to his friend. Such an impossible task may produce ill humour. Moreover a view or a scene may bring into the mind a certain associations, too delicate and refined to be communicated. With a companion at hand, a traveller has to unravel the mystery of his being and his feelings in beautiful words.
Poets like Samuel Taylor Coleridge who have the fine poetic madness in them, can clothe their thoughts and feelings in beautiful words spontaneously, immediately after seeing a beautiful object. But Hazlitt does not have the ability to translate a feeling at once into beautiful words like Coleridge. Hazlitt would like to enter an inn in the village or a town all by himself. He would like to indulge in idle diversions, to think about his food and to get the smell of food coming out of the kitchen.
If at all he has to have a companion in an inn, he prefers to have a stranger. With a stranger we are not under the constant need of fellowship. Even if we do not talk the stranger does not mind. Moreover the stranger will not know the writer. To him the writer is not a man of fixed identity with a definite expected character and nature. So the writer can easily assume any imagery character and personality. To the usual acquaintances a man has a fixed personality with a certain expected character. Before strangers, the writer can easily forget his usual being.
Hazlitt likes to be alone on a journey, but with a few expectations. He would not object to having a friend or a party with him while visiting a historical ruin or a picture gallery like Stonehenge, Oxford, Athens or Rome. These are intelligible matters or matters that can be intellectually analyzed. One can talk about them. But the feelings aroused by a landscape or a view of nature are pure feelings that are difficult to analyze and communicate. Hazlitt would also like to have a companion while travelling to a foreign country.
He feels so probably because an Englishman has an antipathy towards foreign manners and language. So he would like to talk to a companion and share his feelings with a friend to feel at ease in a foreign country amoung foreigners. Hazlitt would like to have a friend to talk to when he is before such mighty things like the desert of Arabia or the Pyramids of Egypt. One feels lost and lonely, as if cut off from society. So to overcome that feeling of isolation Hazlitt wants some fellowship and support from a fellow man.