Diary of a Pilgrimage, by Jerome K. Jerome – Chapter 2

A weekly serialization of the book, Diary of a Pilgrimage, by Jerome K Jerome, illustrated by G G Fraser, published in 1891 in New York by Henry Holt and Company

Chapter 2 – Thursday, 22nd

The Question of Luggage.—First Friend’s Suggestion.—Second Friend’s Suggestion.—Third Friend’s Suggestion.—Mrs. Briggs’ Advice.—Our Vicar’s Advice.—His Wife’s Advice.—Medical Advice.—Literary Advice.—George’s Recommendation.—My Sister-in-Law’s Help.—Young Smith’s Counsel.—My Own Ideas.—B.’s Idea.

I have been a good deal worried to-day about the question of what luggage to take with me.  I met a man this morning, and he said:

“Oh, if you are going to Ober-Ammergau, mind you take plenty of warm clothing with you.  You’ll need all your winter things up there.”

He said that a friend of his had gone up there some years ago, and had not taken enough warm things with him, and had caught a chill there, and had come home and died.  He said:

“You be guided by me, and take plenty of warm things with you.”

I met another man later on, and he said:

“I hear you are going abroad.  Now, tell me, what part of Europe are you going to?”

I replied that I thought it was somewhere about the middle.  He said:

“Well, now, you take my advice, and get a calico suit and a sunshade.  Never mind the look of the thing.  You be comfortable.  You’ve no idea of the heat on the Continent at this time of the year.  English people will persist in travelling about the Continent in the same stuffy clothes that they wear at home.  That’s how so many of them get sunstrokes, and are ruined for life.”

I went into the club, and there I met a friend of mine—a newspaper correspondent—who has travelled a good deal, and knows Europe pretty well.  I told him what my two other friends had said, and asked him which I was to believe.  He said:

“Well, as a matter of fact, they are both right.  You see, up in those hilly districts, the weather changes very quickly.  In the morning it may be blazing hot, and you will be melting, and in the evening you may be very glad of a flannel shirt and a fur coat.”

“Why, that is exactly the sort of weather we have in England!” I exclaimed.  “If that’s all these foreigners can manage in their own country, what right have they to come over here, as they do, and grumble about our weather?”

“Well, as a matter of fact,” he replied, “they haven’t any right; but you can’t stop them—they will do it.  No, you take my advice, and be prepared for everything.  Take a cool suit and some thin things, for if it’s hot, and plenty of warm things in case it is cold.”

When I got home I found Mrs. Briggs there, she having looked in to see how the baby was.  She said:—

“Oh! if you’re going anywhere near Germany, you take a bit of soap with you.”

She said that Mr. Briggs had been called over to Germany once in a hurry, on business, and had forgotten to take a piece of soap with him, and didn’t know enough German to ask for any when he got over there, and didn’t see any to ask for even if he had known, and was away for three weeks, and wasn’t able to wash himself all the time, and came home so dirty that they didn’t know him, and mistook him for the man that was to come to see what was the matter with the kitchen boiler.

Mrs. Briggs also advised me to take some towels with me, as they give you such small towels to wipe on.

I went out after lunch, and met our Vicar.  He said:

“Take a blanket with you.”

He said that not only did the German hotel-keepers never give you sufficient bedclothes to keep you warm of a night, but they never properly aired their sheets.  He said that a young friend of his had gone for a tour through Germany once, and had slept in a damp bed, and had caught rheumatic fever, and had come home and died.

His wife joined us at this point.  (He was waiting for her outside a draper’s shop when I met him.)  He explained to her that I was going to Germany, and she said:

“Oh! take a pillow with you.  They don’t give you any pillows—not like our pillows—and it’s so wretched, you’ll never get a decent night’s rest if you don’t take a pillow.”  She said: “You can have a little bag made for it, and it doesn’t look anything.”

I met our doctor a few yards further on.  He said:

“Don’t forget to take a bottle of brandy with you.  It doesn’t take up much room, and, if you’re not used to German cooking, you’ll find it handy in the night.”

He added that the brandy you get at foreign hotels was mere poison, and that it was really unsafe to travel abroad without a bottle of brandy.  He said that a simple thing like a bottle of brandy in your bag might often save your life.

Coming home, I ran against a literary friend of mine.  He said:

“You’ll have a goodish time in the train old fellow.  Are you used to long railway journeys?”

I said:

“Well, I’ve travelled down from London into the very heart of Surrey by a South Eastern express.”

“Oh! that’s a mere nothing, compared with what you’ve got before you now,” he answered.  “Look here, I’ll tell you a very good idea of how to pass the time.  You take a chessboard with you and a set of men.  You’ll thank me for telling you that!”

George dropped in during the evening.  He said:

“I’ll tell you one thing you’ll have to take with you, old man, and that’s a box of cigars and some tobacco.”

He said that the German cigar—the better class of German cigar—was of the brand that is technically known over here as the “Penny Pickwick—Spring Crop;” and he thought that I should not have time, during the short stay I contemplated making in the country, to acquire a taste for its flavour.

My sister-in-law came in later on in the evening (she is a thoughtful girl), and brought a box with her about the size of a tea-chest.  She said:

“Now, you slip that in your bag; you’ll be glad of that.  There’s everything there for making yourself a cup of tea.”

She said that they did not understand tea in Germany, but that with that I should be independent of them.

She opened the case, and explained its contents to me.  It certainly was a wonderfully complete arrangement.  It contained a little caddy full of tea, a little bottle of milk, a box of sugar, a bottle of methylated spirit, a box of butter, and a tin of biscuits: also, a stove, a kettle, a teapot, two cups, two saucers, two plates, two knives, and two spoons.  If there had only been a bed in it, one need not have bothered about hotels at all.

Young Smith, the Secretary of our Photographic Club, called at nine to ask me to take him a negative of the statue of the dying Gladiator in the Munich Sculpture Gallery.  I told him that I should be delighted to oblige him, but that I did not intend to take my camera with me.

“Not take your camera!” he said.  “You are going to Germany—to Rhineland!  You are going to pass through some of the most picturesque scenery, and stay at some of the most ancient and famous towns of Europe, and are going to leave your photographic apparatus behind you, and you call yourself an artist!”

He said I should never regret a thing more in my life than going without that camera.

I think it is always right to take other people’s advice in matters where they know more than you do.  It is the experience of those who have gone before that makes the way smooth for those who follow.  So, after supper, I got together the things I had been advised to take with me, and arranged them on the bed, adding a few articles I had thought of all by myself.

I put up plenty of writing paper and a bottle of ink, along with a dictionary and a few other books of reference, in case I should feel inclined to do any work while I was away.  I always like to be prepared for work; one never knows when one may feel inclined for it.  Sometimes, when I have been away, and have forgotten to bring any paper and pens and ink with me, I have felt so inclined for writing; and it has quite upset me that, in consequence of not having brought any paper and pens and ink with me, I have been unable to sit down and do a lot of work, but have been compelled, instead, to lounge about all day with my hands in my pockets.

Accordingly, I always take plenty of paper and pens and ink with me now, wherever I go, so that when the desire for work comes to me I need not check it.

That this craving for work should have troubled me so often, when I had no paper, pens, and ink by me, and that it never, by any chance, visits me now, when I am careful to be in a position to gratify it, is a matter over which I have often puzzled.

But when it does come I shall be ready for it.

I also put on the bed a few volumes of Goethe, because I thought it would be so pleasant to read him in his own country.  And I decided to take a sponge, together with a small portable bath, because a cold bath is so refreshing the first thing in the morning.

B. came in just as I had got everything into a pile.  He stared at the bed, and asked me what I was doing.  I told him I was packing.

“Great Heavens!” he exclaimed.  “I thought you were moving!  What do you think we are going to do—camp out?”

“No!” I replied.  “But these are the things I have been advised to take with me.  What is the use of people giving you advice if you don’t take it?”

He said:

“Oh! take as much advice as you like; that always comes in useful to give away.  But, for goodness sake, don’t get carrying all that stuff about with you.  People will take us for Gipsies.”

I said:

“Now, it’s no use your talking nonsense.  Half the things on this bed are life-preserving things.  If people go into Germany without these things, they come home and die.”

And I related to him what the doctor and the vicar and the other people had told me, and explained to him how my life depended upon my taking brandy and blankets and sunshades and plenty of warm clothing with me.

He is a man utterly indifferent to danger and risk—incurred by other people—is B.  He said:

“Oh, rubbish!  You’re not the sort that catches a cold and dies young.  You leave that co-operative stores of yours at home, and pack up a tooth-brush, a comb, a pair of socks, and a shirt.  That’s all you’ll want.”

* * * * *

I have packed more than that, but not much.  At all events, I have got everything into one small bag.  I should like to have taken that tea arrangement—it would have done so nicely to play at shop with in the train!—but B. would not hear of it.

I hope the weather does not change.