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“Going Out For a Walk” is an essay written by Max Beerbohm in 1918. This essay talks about the fact that the speaker hasn’t gone out for a walk once in his life. He says that he had been taken out for walks when he was younger but once he escaped to the city, he didn’t bother going to walks.
Max states the fact that walking might be good in terms of physical exercise, however, it numbs the brain. He has seen people who consider walking to be noble but he, himself, doesn’t want to be a part of that notion. Experience teaches him and he has learned how walking deteriorates the reasoning faculties of a man.
City versus Countryside
The speaker starts the essay by saying how he never went out for a walk, excluding the time when he was young and was taken out for walks. When he grew up, he found himself to be a part of the city life in London. And that was a blessing in disguise for him as hardly anyone would go out for a walk. The speaker points out that London’s drawbacks make it difficult to go out for a walk.
The endless noise and hustle, the smoky air of London, and squalor being crowded everywhere. He then remembers the time he spent in the countryside where one person or the other would approach him to go out for a walk.
At that moment the author would come up with an excuse to say no to a mere acquaintance. His excuse would be to write letters. Though this excuse doesn’t necessarily make the other person believe in the speaker, he is not asked anymore to go out for a walk.
Objection to Walking
The speaker objects to the aimless purpose of walking. He says that waking simply stops the brain. He recalls an incident where he once went out with an intellectual friend of his on a walk. As soon as they covered some distance in that walk, the man’s intelligence started to decline. The speaker’s friend started by praising their host, say A, for being a good fellow.
As they moved on, the speaker’s friend shifted to Mrs. A being a charming woman. Then they passed an inn where the speaker’s friend read the sign, “The King’s Arms. Licensed to sell Ales and Spirits”, aloud. And this went on for the rest of the walk. No matter what sign or indication came up on the road and no matter the fact that the speaker himself could see it, the speaker’s friend would read it out loud.
The life and soul of the party left his friend in the walk. The speaker believed that the man will never go out for a walk again yet surprisingly he saw his friend, going out for a walk with another person. The speaker knows how the conversation will start, by blaming the speaker to be a boring man.
Max believes that while walking, the brain and the body loses all their connections with each other. The soul might tell the body to start walking but when questioned by the brain as to go where or why the body will have no answer. And hence, the brain will refuse to work alongside the body and will fall into a dreamless slumber while the body goes out for an aimless walk.
The speaker states the fact that though walking is good for health, aimless walking has no purpose. He laments the fact that he is no longer able to use the perambulator as he once did as a child. The speaker prefers a vehicle to walk. He does say that he is not opposed to walking in any way but he is not going to walk without a purpose or walk to go see a friend anytime.
Max concludes his essay by giving his opinion on walking where he says that he is not against walking or exercise, as he himself indulges in it sometimes. However he refuses to go out for a walk without having any purpose or to even meet a friend he would prefer to take a vehicle.
Throughout the essay, Max shows how walking can be difficult for the brain and declines the intellect of a man. Even if there are benefits of walking, if one does it properly, he would still wish not to go out for a walk.