chapter  XX
Pages 13

SHORTLY after his return from Preston, Cobbett set off on a further course of rural rides. Starting out in August, 1826, he rode through Hampshire and Wiltshire into Somerset and Devonshire, then back through Wiltshire into Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, back through Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire into Hampshire, and thence, by a deVIous route, through Surrey back to Kensington. All this in August, September, and October, r826, " during which I have travelled five hundred and sixty-eight miles, and have slept in thirty different beds, having written three monthly pamphlets, called the Poor Man's Friend, and have also written (including the present one) eleven Registers. I have been in three cities, in about twenty market towns, in perhaps five hundred villages .... During the whole of this ride, I have very rarely been a-bed after daylight; I have drunk neither wine nor spirits. I have eaten no vegetables, and only a very moderate quantity of meat ; and it may be useful to my readers to know that the riding of twenty miles was not so fatiguing to me at the end of my tour as the riding of ten miles was at the beginning of it. Some ill-natured fools will call this 'egotism.' Why is it egotism? Getting upon a good strong horse, and riding about the country has no merit in it; there is no conjuration in it; it requires neither talents nor virtues of any sort ; but health is a very valuable thing, and when a man has had the experience which I have had in this instance, it is his duty to state to the world, and to his own countrymen and neighbours in particular, the happy effects of early rising, sobriety, abstinence and a resolution to be active." 1

"For the present," wrote Cobbett, at the close of his tour, "farewell to the country, and now for the Wen and its villainous corruptions." 2 The "poor old man" returned refreshed by his vigorous exercise to plunge again into the

political strife of London, and to pursue his abortive petition against the Preston election.