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"I THANK heaven," I said, when I came to
Erquellines, on the Belgian frontier, "that I
have done, for some time at least, with the
deplorable everyday humdrum state of
civilisation in which I have been vegetating so
long, and growing so rankly weedy. Not
that I am about to forswear shaving, renounce
pantaloons, or relinquish the use of a knife
and fork at meal-times. I hope to wear
clean linen for many successive days to come,
and to keep myself au courant with the
doings of London through the media of
Galignani's Messenger and the Illustrated
News (thrice blessed be both those travellers'
joys!). Nay, railways shall penetrate whither
I am going, mixed pickles be sold wholesale
and retail, and pale ale be attainable at a more
or less exorbitant price. I am not bound for
the Ethiopio-Christian empire of Prester
John; I am not bound to sail for the island of
Barataria; my passport is not made out for
the kingdom of Utopia (would that it were); I
cannot hope, in my journeyings, to see either
the Yang-tse-Kiang, or the sources of the
Nile, or the Mountains of the Moon. I am
going, it is true, to t'other side of Jordan,
which somewhat vague (and American)
geographical definition may mean the other side
of the Straits of Dover, or the Grecian
Archipelago, or the Great Belt, or the Pacific
Ocean. But, wherever I go, civilisation will
follow me. For I am of the streets, and
streetyeis ten polin is my haven. Like
the starling, I can't get out of cities; and
now, that I have come sixteen hundred miles,
it is but to another cityanother tumour of
streets and houses and jostling crowds; and
from my windows I can see a post, and wires
stretching from it, the extreme end of which
I know to be in Lothbury, London.

I am not so wisely foolish to imagine or to
declare that there is nothing new under the
sun; only the particular ray of sunlight that
illumines me in my state of life has fallen
upon me so long, and dwells on me with such
a persistent sameness, bright as it is, that I
am dazed, and sun-sick; and, when I shut
my eyes, have but one green star before me,
which obstinately refuses to assume the
kaleidoscopic changes I delight in. I must
go away, I said. I must rub this rust of soul
and body off. I must have a change of grass.
I want strange dishes to disagree with me. I
want to be scorched or frozen in another
latitude. I want to learn another alphabet;
to conjugate verbs in another fashion; to be
happy or miserable from other circumstances
than those that gladden or sorrow me now.
If I could be hard up, for instance, on the
Bridge of Sighs, or wistfully eyeing my last
real at the Puerta del Sol; if I could be sued
on a bill drawn in the Sanskrit character, or
be threatened with arrest by a Mahometan
hatti sheriff's-officer; if I could incur perdition
through not believing in the seven
incarnations of Vishnu, instead of the thirty-nine
Articles; if I could be importuned for copy
by the editor of the Mofussilite, and not the
Morning Meteor; if I could have the plague,
or the vomito nero, or the plica polonica,
instead of the English headache and blues,
the change would be advantageoussalutary,
I think. I am sure I should be much better
off if I could change my own name, and
forget my own self for a time.  But Oh!
civilisation and foreign office passport system
George William Frederick Earl of Clarendon,
Baron Hyde of Hindon, won't hear of
that. I have made up my mind to change;
I am determined, I said, to depart out of
this kingdom; but the Earl and Baron
insists on stamping, and numbering, and
registering me (all for the small sum of seven
and sixpence) before I go. George William
Frederick pounces upon me as a British
subject travelling abroad; asserts himself, his
stars and garters, at great length, all over a
sheet of blue foolscap paper, affectionately
entreats all authorities, civil and military, to
render me aid and assistance whenever I stand
in need of them (I should like to catch them
doing anything of the sort!), and sends me
abroad with the royal arms, his own, and
a five-shilling receipt stamp tacked to me,
like a bird with a string tied to his leg.

I am bound on a stern, long, cruel, rigid
journey, far, far away, to the extreme right-
hand top corner of the map of Europebut
first Due North. And here I am at Erquellines
on the frontier of the kingdom of
Belgium; and this is why I thanked Heaven I
was here. Not very far northward is Erquellines;
and yet I felt as if I had passed the
Rubicon, when a parti-coloured sentry-box,