Railway travelling is always such a joy to me. I never know which I like best - looking out of the window, or feeling that I can read in peace without the disturbances which are perpetually occurring elsewhere. Going through France, I am always struck afresh by the thinly populated look of the country, except just near the towns.

I had in my travelling-bag a cutting from the 'Daily Telegraph' of January 5th, 1898: Mr. Gladstone's account of Hallam. A remarkably interesting paper, one of those rare gifts sometimes bestowed upon us by the daily press. It must have been almost the last, if not quite the last, thing of any importance the old man ever wrote.

Has it ever been explained why the recollections of youth are so engraven on the brain and flash out in old age with such vivid clearness? Educated and uneducated, clever and stupid, all seem to share the same experience. The dullest of old people are interesting if allowed to talk of their youth and themselves. The only drawback is that they enjoy repeating over and over again what they remember. Gladstone's half-jealous criticism of Hallam spending eight months in Italy between Eton and Cambridge includes so excellent a description of travelling in the days that are gone that it haunted me as I flew and rushed in my express in one bound from Paris to Florence:

'The agencies of locomotion have within the last seventy years been not only multiplied, but transformed. We then crept into and about countries; we now fly through them. When Arthur Hallam went with his family to Italy, there was not so much as a guide-book. It was shortly afterwards Mrs. Starke, under the auspices of Murray, founded that branch of literature, and within the compass of one very moderate volume expounded in every particular the whole continent of Europe. But this is only the outside of the case. A visit to Italy was then the summit of a young man's aspirations; it now supplies some half-dozen rapid stages in larger tours, where we run much risk of losing in discipline and mental stimulus what we gain in mileage. When it took sixteen or eighteen days to post to Rome, each change of horses was an event. The young traveller could not but try to make the most of what he had bought so dear. Scene, history, and language now flash before the eye; then they soaked into the soul. Men were then steeped in the experiences of Italy; they are now sprinkled with the spray. Its scenery, its art, its language, which was a delight and luxury to learn; its splendid literature; its roll of great men, among whom Dante himself might serve to build up the entire fame of a nation; and its place in history, which alone connects together the great stages of human civilisation - all these constituted a many-sided power which was brought to bear almost in a moment on the mind of Arthur Hallam. I knew it, for I suffered by it. The interval between his progress and my own, always long, became such that there was no joining hands across it. I was plodding on the beaten and dusty path, while he was Where the lost lark wildly sings, Hard by the sun.'

Everyone takes with him to Florence Mr. Hare's 'Cities of Central Italy.' In his introduction to the 'Cities of Northern Italy' he puts it well as regards the changes that have in my life-time come over travelling. I can remember things as he describes them:

'The old days of Italian travel are beginning to pass out of recollection - the happy old days, when with slow-trotting horses and jangling bells we lived for weeks in our vetturino carriage as in a house, and made ourselves thoroughly comfortable there; halting at midday for luncheon, with pleasant hours for wandering over unknown towns and gathering flowers and making discoveries in the churches and convents near our resting-place. All that we then saw remains impressed on our recollection as a series of beautiful pictures set in a framework of the home-like associations of a quiet life, which was gilded by all that Italian loveliness alone can bestow of its own tender beauty. The slow approach to each long-heard-of but unseen city - gradually leading up, as the surroundings of all cities do, to its own peculiar characteristics - gave a very different feeling towards it from that which is produced by rushing into a railway station.'

This is all perfectly true; but when we think that hundreds can now see and enjoy the great cities of Italy, which in old days was only the privilege of the idle, the rich, and the few, we can without regret give up the more romantic methods of travelling of bygone days.

The only book I had with me, given me before I left for Florence, was called 'Earthwork out of Tuscany,' being 'impressions and translations' of Maurice Hewlett (J. M. Dent & Co., 1895). It describes Florence, not as I saw it, but in autumn and early winter, the usual tourist time. It is very modern in tone, and although slightly affected, yet the enthusiasm and delight in Italy are as great as, or even greater than, those of writers of a past generation. His preface, which he calls 'Proem,' is an apologia for writing at all on such well-known ground, for he feels his book must risk the charge of being 'a réchauffé of Paul Bourget and Walter Pater with ana lightly culled from Symonds, and perchance the questionable support of ponderous references out of Burckhardt.' My journey was shortened for me by the pleasure I got from reading this book, and it made me feel glad as I sat in the train that I was on my way to this Italy of undying interest.

I had, of course, the usual luggage scare at the Custom House at Modane in the middle of the night. I was idiotic from sleep, and the officials declared my boxes were not in the train. I felt like the French cabman with a heavy load when a passing friend asked him how he was. 'Pour moi, je suis plongé dans la misère jusqu'au cou.' Just as the train was starting, to my intense relief I spied my boxes, and could once more complacently smile and remember a nice little story I had just been told. An American lady, having lost all her luggage, said: 'Any great trial sent by the Almighty I can bear, but these collateral smacks are too much for anyone to endure.' How true it is!