R.L. Stevenson: Travel for the Sake of Movement
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“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move; to feel the needs and hitches of our life more nearly; to come down off this feather-bed of civilisation, and find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints. ”
- Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish writer and avid traveler of the 19th century who died of Tuberculosis at the age of 44
Robert Louis Stevenson used to move his itchy feet in summertime and studied literature in winter. His first summer stay abroad brought him to Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Journeys to France, the Netherlands, and explorations in his own country, especially southern Scotland followed, as did a one-year stay in the United States where Stevenson would be close to his later wife, the American Fanny Osborne. He would later return to America, travel the South Seas and Australia and lived on Samoa for some years, until his death.
Stevenson was most impressed by the landscapes of southern France – a part of the country which he crossed with a donkey as a carrier. He later turned his experiences of that journey into a famous essay – not as famous as Treasure Island, but still well worth a read: Travels With a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879), from which the quote above is taken. While traveling with a donkey may not be the most convenient of all forms of movement, the stubbornness and phlegm of the animal also forced the writer to travel slowly, taking in as much of his surrounding as possible, learning that being on the move was more important than arriving at a certain place.
Find Stevenson’s essay at Project Gutenberg for free!