Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Boreham on Travel

F W Boreham wrote many times about the value of travel and two of his published books were travel diaries‑ Loose Leaves (1902) and From England to Mosgiel (1903). He loved to cite the story in which Lord Chesterfield was asked about the best way to acquire a good education. He answered, “There are three main ways, travel, travel and travel.”[1]

The enrichment of travel was another legacy that Boreham’s mentor passed on to the young minister. Boreham later wrote, “J J Doke was an incorrigible traveler….What had impressed him most in his travels? The unstinted kindness one meets with from everyone, everywhere.”[2]

Frank Boreham took this advice to heart and there are many ways in which it is clear that his understanding and his writing was enriched through travel. For instance he alludes to his travels to the Australian outback,[3] the gold mines of Western Australia,[4] the village of Captain Cook,[5] the garden of naturalist, Gilbert White[6] and The Isle of Wight.[7] In his retirement Boreham was able to travel more extensively to places like North America, Jamaica[8] and Canada.[9]

Boreham wrote of the way his eyes were opened to the treasures of London when after years of absence he returned to the United Kingdom. He said, “I never saw London until I left it.”[10] Inherent in this quote is the truth that travel per se will not extend our education. One needs to have the eyes to see or as Boreham learned from James Cook, the secret “lies in the traveler’s ability to detect the treasures that are best worth gathering.”[11]

Boreham’s essays reveal that there is a world of difference between being a tourist and traveling as a pilgrim. In the Drums of Dawn Boreham writes about one holiday he spent, “exploring the road along which Bunyan’s pilgrims traveled.”[12] He visited the Bunhill Fields burial ground as a pilgrim at the grave of Susannah Wesley[13] and at Westminister Abbey he spent some sacred moments at the tombs of famous people.[14] How much of the spirit of the pilgrim is summed up in Boreham’s words, “When in England recently I spent a good deal of my time with John Bunyan.”[15]

In this present age when there is a reaction to things that are fast (fast food etc.) and a turning to doing things that are slow (see Carl Honore’s In Praise of Slow) it is clear that Boreham was an early advocate of slow travel. He said we must travel “slowly enough to evoke the value of wonder.”[16] He enjoyed the quotation of Richard Jeffries who said, “The best way to see is to stand still.”[17] Like Gilbert White, Boreham advocated micro travel (not his words) or the taking of time to travel around one’s backyard or local patch.[18] It is not essential, Boreham often said in war time when travel was restricted, to travel great distances but you can be a traveller in your own familiar area.

Geoff Pound

[1] F W Boreham, The Passing of John Broadbanks, 195; The Prodigal, 35.
[2] Boreham, The Passing of John Broadbanks, 200.
[3] F W Boreham, Boulevards of Paradise, 98.
[4] F W Boreham, Bunches of Everlasting, 55, 98.
[5] F W Boreham, When the Swans Fly High, 101.
[6] Boreham, When the Swans Fly High, 105.
[7] Boreham, Bunches of Everlastings, 211.
[8] Boreham, Bunches of Everlastings, 188.
[9] Boreham, When the Swans Fly High, 12.
[10] Boreham, When the Swans Fly High, 75-79.
[11] Boreham, The Passing of John Broadbanks, 204.
[12] F W Boreham, Drums of Dawn, 198.
[13] F W Boreham, I Forgot to Say, 113.
[14] F W Boreham, The Silver Shadow, 159.
[15] Boreham, When the Swans Fly High, 156.
[16] F W Boreham, A Witch’s Brewing, 233.
[17] Boreham, A Witch’s Brewing, 242.
[18] Boreham, When the Swans Fly High, 105.