East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

My mum and Francis Galton

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For each white man (independently of duration of journey)
Clothes; macintosh mg; ditto sheet; blanket-bag; spare blanket
Share of plates, knives, forks, spoons, pannikins, or bowls
Share of cooking-things, iron pots, co£fee-mill, kettles, Ace
Spare knife, flints, steel, tinder-box, tinder, four pipes
Bags, 6
Provisions for emergency—
Five days of Jerked meat, at 3 lbs. a day (on an average)
Two quarts of water (on an average), 4 lbs.; share of kegs
Total lb each white man: 66

Francis Galton, The art of travel, or, Shifts and contrivances available in wild countries, 4th ed., 1872

159048052XMy mother of course never read Francis Galton’s essential travelling handbook, that some have called “the original rough guide”.
In case you are interested, Galton’s own web-page, Galton.org (old Francis was ahead of his times, you see) holds a pdf version of the second edition, dated 1856 – perfect for use as reference for Hope & Glory, incidentally. Or maybe you’d like to check out the Long Riders Guild’s fine paper reprint.
And what better book as a supplement and resource for a game in which travel and exploration play such a big part? Galton’s book has it all, and it’s a great read if you want to capture a certain Victorian mindset.

But as I said, my mother never read the Galton book, and that’s a good thing, or she would have forced on me five days of Jerked meat and an iron pot every time I took to the road for my work – I was, if you’ll remember, an itinerant lecturer for a time, moving between universities to hold my courses.

My mother – but probably all mothers are like that – was for luggage overkill.
Two days off? Why not take a spare sweater, a rain-proof jacket and two extra pair of woollen socks? Whaddyamean it’s August? What if it is, then?

I thought back at my mom last night, as I was putting together an overnight bag for my jaunt at Pinerole. One night out. Spare underwear, a rain-proof jacket…
But it’s October, for goodness sake.51eNS4jK4-L

I could actually fit all I need in my old overnight backpack, including the gaming material and some reading stuff. But old habits die hard. Also, turns out my late father gave my backpack away to someone before he died. He liked to give my stuff away.

That’s my mum and dad for you, it pretty sums up the dynamics in our family. Yet I miss them.

As you read this, I’ll be on my way to Pinerole.
I’ll be travelling light, but not as light as I’d have liked.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

One thought on “My mum and Francis Galton

  1. [I am posting this comment here on behalf of CuChullaine O’Reilly, that had some problems with WordPress – I’m sure you’ll find it interesting. DM]

    Though Sir Francis Galton later became a celebrated academic, in the 1840s he made a series of dangerous journeys in Egypt, the Sudan and Namibia.

    Upon his return to London, Galton wrote the ground-breaking book, “The Art of Travel.” As Davide has accurately pointed out, this brilliant book contained a treasure trove of wisdom, including advice on how to cross rivers, how to navigate using the stars and how to travel through barren country.

    In addition to reams of practical information, Galton was also the first to recognize the psychological aspects involved in long distance travel. He cautioned explorers about the need to adapt themselves emotionally to the rigours of the trail.

    “Unless a traveller makes himself at home and comfortable in the bush, he will never be quite contented with his lot; but will fall into the bad habit of looking forwards to the end of his journey, and to his return to civilsation, instead of complacently interesting himself in its continuance. This is a frame of mind in which few great journeys have been successfully accomplished’ and an explorer who cannot divest himself of it may suspect that he has mistaken his vocation.”

    The legendary explorer and Long Rider Sir Richard Francis Burton, who journeyed to Mecca in disguise and later rode across the jungles of Brazil, was an enthusiastic fan of Galton’s book.

    Even though 165 years had passed since “The Art of Travel” was published, much of its wisdom was preserved in the recently completed “Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration.”

    CuChullaine O’Reilly FRGS
    Founder – The Long Riders’ Guild


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