Six days in Scotland, Part 1
Tuesday 25 June 1901 - Sunday 30 June 1901
Now that William and the Harpers have left the Lake District, the speed with which they travel increases dramatically. Compared to the two weeks spent exploring what seemed like every inch of the innumerable valleys, mountains and lakes of Grasmere and the surrounding area, our traveling party spends little time in the cities found throughout Scotland and England. London is the only urban area that seems of interest to Will. We will explore his feelings on Glasgow and other cities of renown, but I expect they pale in comparison to the romantic vistas of Lake Windemere or the quaint confines of the Brown Cow Inn. Though his impressions of the UK might change now that Mr. Hatch is leaving his beloved Lake District, his eloquent writing and detailed descriptions of his experiences are sure to continue unaltered. The passage below is excellent evidence to prove this hypothesis:
Much like we have already seen, Will carries his favorite writers with him, whether in a book of poetry or simply close to his heart. He once again spies a monument to Wordsworth -- it is a safe bet that his keen observation of such landmarks will continue. This is also the first passage in which he references another literary hero: Charles Dickens. The Pickwick Papers was Dickens' first published work, which Hatch has clearly read and enjoyed judging by his effortless incorporation of the characters into his experiences.
As was a frequent occurrence with travel in 1901, and often still is, the train from Grasmere, Wales to Glasgow, Scotland made stops and changes in small towns such as Keswick, as Hatch mentions. In this small town Will, Ed and Mrs. Harper go in search of lunch. They find "a neat looking place" and go in. "Then appeared one of the oddest looking virgins that it has been my fate to meet. ...She may have been 25 and she may have been 40! Her mother called her Sally and Sally will be an amusing character in the memories of the trip." This is the first time we see William use an exclamation point! Clearly Sally made a strong impression on the group. As anyone who enjoys people watching knows, Sally is one of those characters who imprint themselves in one's imagination and remain irrevocably associated with a particular experience.
The passage above gives us a glimpse into Will's sense of humor as well as into the personality of his wife, Nellie (Florida) Hatch. When I first read this section I was struck by the blatant sarcasm present in Will's voice. His reference to the room decorated with pictures of graveyards as "cheerful" cements my opinion of Mr. Hatch as a fun-loving, clever, and potentially mischievous man. Who wouldn't want to spend time and travel with him?! On the other hand, when we read other portions of this passage with a critical eye it is clear that Nellie acts as a tempering agent for Will. She has strong "control of the tendency to laugh," whereas Will "told funny things to make excuse for [the Harpers] to laugh and not hurt Sally's feelings." What is more, Nellie forbade her husband from buying too many souvenirs, with special concern against buying spoons; this isn't the first time Will has stopped himself upon "remembering [his wife's] injunction" against bringing any home. The relationship between William and Nellie appears as a classic case of opposites attracting.
After eight hours of travel the group arrived in Glasgow, Scotland, where the Glasgow International Exposition was in progress. Hatch states that "the crowds reminded me much of the World's Fair" of Chicago in 1893. Though they just arrived in in the city, Hatch and the Harpers leave for Loch Lamond and Loch Katrine to spend two days in the country. Here we see plainly William's feelings: "I don't seem to care much for the cities. I enjoy much better its rural parts." Below is a description of their lodgings for this excursion into the Scottish countryside, complete with post card!
William, Ed and Mrs. Harper spend much less time in each place they visit from here on. Only London comes close to the Lake District in terms of the length of time they stayed and extent to which they explored. Even still, Hatch marvels yet again at the landscapes to be found throughout the UK, and on this particular occasion in southern Scotland. His journal entries now contain more and more post cards and photographs -- it seems he has taken a shine to documenting the trip beyond what words can tell. Even still, his words illustrate quite almost as well as the added photographs:
After exploring Loch Trossachs and Ellen's Isle Hatch and the other walk back to the hotel. All along the way Will is reminded of the books he has read, particularly the copy of Lady of the Lake, a copy of which he just purchased. Similarly, Ed Harper is in his element as they wander through the rough yet lush valley of the Trossachs. It is fascinating to witness the particularities of each member of the group through Will's eyes. Mr. Harper seems an inquisitive man with highly focused interests, of which botany is primary as Will explains. If you have ever traveled with friends or family who are passionate about something to be found on your way, then you know well the amusement that I feel reading about Ed Harper's quirks and singular love of flowers, or botany as Will calls it.
Two days after leaving the Lake District in northern Wales, Will Hatch and the Harpers arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland. Clearly they are moving quickly to see as much as they can! On the way to Edinburgh - second largest in the country and capital of Scotland - the party stops in Stirling. You may have heard this name before, as both William Wallace and Robert Bruce fought famous battles for Scottish Independence near Stirling Castle. Even this was not enough to keep Will and the Harpers for long, however, as they spent just four hours there before moving on to Edinburgh.
It is from this point where we will leave the travelers for now. The second part of "Six Days in Scotland" will contain just as much as this first part -- William Hatch was not one to leave out the details!
Until next time, cheers!
Interim Director, RAHS