Page:Studies of a Biographer 3.djvu/291

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279
IN PRAISE OF WALKING

pleasant to think of one's ancestors as sharers in the pleasures. The region enclosed within a radius of thirty miles from Charing Cross has charms enough even for the least historical of minds. You can't hold a fire in your hand, according to a high authority, by thinking on the frosty Caucasus; but I can comfort myself now and then, when the fellow passengers who tread on my heels in London have put me out of temper, by thinking of Leith Hill. It only rises to the height of a thousand feet by help of the 'Folly' on the top, but you can see, says my authority, twelve counties from the tower; and, if certain legendary ordnance surveyors spoke the truth, distinguish the English Channel to the south, and Dunstable Hill, far beyond London, to the north. The Crystal Palace, too, as we are assured, 'sparkles like a diamond.' That is gratifying; but to me the panorama suggests a whole network of paths, which have been the scene of personally conducted expeditions, in which I displayed the skill on which I most pride myself—skill, I mean, in devising judicious geographical combinations, and especially of contriving admirable short cuts. The persistence of some companions in asserting that my short cuts might be