Chapter 9: On Past Edinburgh to Dalkeith
As soon as I was told I might go, I hasted away straight out of the Town, along Scotland Road to Ormskirk. In my haste to be gone I forgot to ask for my trifling of things, and lamented above all things the loss of my Knife. This was irreparable, for I could not raise another until I got back to London. From Ormskirk I went on to Preston, where I stopped the Night in a Padding Ken, or low Lodging House for Tramps, the Price for which I had raised on the road - three Pence being the Price all along the Road. From Preston to Lancaster I was not successful in raising enough Money to pay for a lodging, so I bethought me for looking out for a Place where I might lay down for the Night. On the left hand, going into Lancaster, perhaps about a mile from the Town, as it was just getting Dusk, I spied a Farm Yard, and, just by the Gate, a Ladder raised up to go into a Hay Loft.
I opened the gate and softly stepped on the Ladder; then a Large Dog made its Appearance with a Bound, and snapped at my Leg as I was drawing it up. So I escaped, tumbled into the Loft and Buried myself in the Hay and was soon asleep, being very tired. Next Morning, I kept a sharp look-out for the Dog; but, seeing nothing in the Way, I made a spring for the Gate and so was clear and went on away through Lancaster and on to Kendal. This day I found more prosperous than the preceding one, for on the road I got plenty of Food and more than sufficient Money to pay for my Lodging. In fact, I perceived that in Westmoreland the people were kinder than I had experienced hitherto. I remember also that there I saw Black Treacle used for sweetening coffee. Well however Kendal has always kept up in my memory as a Nice Place.
My course was here changed. I made mention that my desire was to get a Ship. "Well", they said, "then you must go to Newcastle. Strike across Shap Fells on to Barnard Castle", I think they said, "into Yorkshire through Durham, and so on to Newcastle". Now for Shap Fells. I found the Fells very wild. It was about eight miles from House to House, and, if the People had not been Kind, I should have been hungry all the way. I called at a Farmhouse where a Young Woman made what they called Brose. I saw her make it. It only took a few minutes to make it, as it seemed to me. She had a Saucepan on the Fire with Boiling Water in it. Then she took a Handful of Oatmeal, stirred it up Quick, and then poured it into a Basin, adding milk and so served it up to me, a Hungry Wayworn Lad. To me the meal was most grateful, not only for itself but for the kindly way in which it was done.
I now got through the wilderness of Shap and among the Busy Coal Mines of Durham and now into Durham itself, where I found great Hospitality provided for Tramps. There was not only Lodging provided but also four pence allowed for Supper, the greatest Luxury I had experienced on my Tramp. With the fourpence I bought Coffee and Bread, the only Hot Meal that I remember on the Road. From Durham I went, I think, through Darlington on to Newcastle, where my expectations were raised of getting a Ship. In Newcastle there was another Place Favouring Tramps, for there I got free Lodging and three pence for Supper; but, as for getting a Ship, there was not the least prospect, for, after trying in that direction, I had to give it up and go my Ways and go on to Sunderland, where I Was also unsuccessful. Truly, I saw many Ships; but how to get a Berth on one of them - that was the Question!
It began to dawn on me that my Appearance was against me. I had on me those Clothes which I had swapped for my Workhouse Suit of Corderoys at Chatham with Mr Murphy. This consisted of a Black Glazed Hat, an Old Blue Jacket, a kind of White Tweed Trousers, without Shoes and Stockings. I was lame with one foot withal, having a Sore in the middle of my right Heel, which mattered every Morning I turned out, which could not be got into walking Order till I had got a few miles on the Road. So, my Appearance and condition was all against me. "What was I to do?" "Should I go back?" "No", I thought, "that will never do!" "Well then, go on to Berwick on Tweed. You may get something there." For I had heard that there were Fishing Boats and other small Craft there.
So I set off to Morpeth, and passed through Alnwick, I think it is called, where there is a fine old Castle belonging to the Duke of Northumberland, which I viewed round and round and admired very much. This no one could hinder me, notwithstanding my poor condition. I remember I had Quite a Satisfaction in that thought: that all that I saw with my eyes - that Noble Castle, the Trees, the green Fields, and all that I saw - was, as it were, mine. Thus I solaced myself along the Road, without making the Noble proprietor any poorer! Well, I got Barracks and found plenty of Soldiers in the Town, and there was Recruiting going on. So I offered myself, and was put under the Standard and was found wanting; for which I was sorry. So, nothing could be done in Berwick.
I thought I would go on to Edinburgh, and I would see what further could be done. I went along the East Lothian on the Edinburgh Road. I found this a bad road for getting Supplys. I mean, the Quality was bad. The only Bread I could get was what they call Bannock Cake. They were from ½" to ¼" thick, and they seemed to be made from ground Peas or Beans. But, whatever they were made of, they would stick in your teeth like that. But a relief from that would be A Bowl of Porridge now and again, and always a Barn to lay down in at Night. When I was near Haddington I got a whole day's Rain, when I saw what I have never seen before or since - the Road was full of small Frogs, so that I had to mind where I stepped for stepping on them. When night came on I asked a Farmer to let me lie down for the Night in his Barn. This he granted and also brought me a Bowl of Porridge. After I had eaten the Porridge he showed me a Hay loft. There I made a hole about a Yard deep and sank into it and covered myself up in Hay. Having been all day in the Rain, I was soaked through and through and very tired. I went off to sleep and did not wake up until the next evening, having slept about twenty four hours. I got quite Dry and refreshed, which I suppose was a hydropathic treatment, although it was not known in those days.
After getting down from my Hayloft, I went two or three miles along the Road until it was dark. Then I got permission from another Farmer to sleep in a Hayloft somewhere near Haddington. They next day, I think, I reached Edinburgh, with which City I was much taken up in admiring the fine Stone Houses. I remember standing on the Bridge and counting eleven Stories. I considered awhile, while standing on the Bridge what I should do - whether I should stop in the Town for the Night, or go through. If I stopped in the Town I must beg for food and money to pay for my Lodging: but I remembered Liverpool. I feared that I might get taken up, as I had been there. So I concluded to go on, and I went over the Bridge and on to Dalkeith. As soon as I got through the town I began to Beg. When I got to Dalkeith I considered that I had done very well, for I got sufficient Food on the Road, and enough Money to pay for a Lodging - the like of which I had not done since I had been in Scotland. Moreover, the Town was all stir with the Militia, which had just been Collected, so that, upon the whole, I remember the Place with Pleasure.