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Shall I Not Take Mine Ease In Mine Inn
Travel was so hard with the primitive means then employed, that a summer out of town meant the abandonment of home and business, the breaking of oneself to the mountains or seashore, and remaining there during all the greater part of the season, always provided that the traveler was lucky enough to get there whole in limb and body.
Telegraphic communication could not be had, the telephone was not known, and the mails were not so frequent nor so prompt as in this, the evening of the Nineteenth Century, so that the difficulty of making engagements in advance added the element of uncertainty as to what welcome would await the weary tourist. A little tail and much staging, a long boat ride, or perhaps the entire distance covered in the family coach, were the means of transit in the grand old days when nobody was in a hurry. Suppose it did require several days to compass the journey ! time was not so expensive as it is in these bustling days, and our grandfathers and grandmothers enjoyed their outing in the same deliberate manner as they performed their business or social functions.
The catching of trains was an unknown art, because, in great measure, there were no trains which necessitated any great physical exertion to overtake, even after they had started, and their leaving and arrival time depended somewhat on the caprice of the management or the exigencies of traffic. Disrespectful people, disposed to scoff at the easygoing manner of the olden time, even go so far as to declare that the train waited for the passengers, and fixed its starting time at the hour when its compliment of travelers was filled, but such stories are traditional, and in the absence of proof positive, it is unsafe to place implicit belief in the optimist of today, when he is contrasting the ways of his own making, with those that were practiced by his father.
The coaching age was the picturesque era of American life. Then the Stage road was the highway of activity, the toll gate the market place of small talk, and the wayside inn the bazaar where the news of the world was exchanged. The universe was narrower then, and human sympathy stronger, because it was confined in its application to narrower bounds.
It was a grand sight when the rattling old coach, with its foam-flecked horses, and its eager passengers, within and on top, dashed up to the door of the Roadside Inn. Its coming had been heralded by the winding of the horn, and in the golden light of the waning day the youth and beauty of the hostelrie had gathered on the long portico, to celebrate the event of the day in welcoming the coming guest. The driver, rejoicing in the pride of strong arms and a cool head, merrily cracks the whip about the dripping flanks of team, and they, as if inspired with the dignity and importance of the occasion, pricked their ears, and rush up to the waiting throng at full speed, stopping so abruptly when the reins were drawn as to bump together the luckless “insides,” who, from inexperience, are unprepared for the final triumph of the journey. Fair hands clap applause and bright eyes sparkle as they flash upon the features of some expected friend. Greetings are exchanged, the mail distributed, some of its letters many days old, but none the less welcome, and then supper.
As the stars twinkle in the great blue vault, the music of happy voices mingling with the harmony of the violin proclaims the rule of mirth, and the guest, but just arrived, forgets the fatigue of the journey in the merry pleasures of the dance.
There can be no question that our grandfathers enjoyed themselves in their own way, but in the advancement of the past half century their sons have come to look with something akin to pity on the meagreness of their facilities. It would be a fearful hardship in these days of luxurious railway trains if we were forced to adopt the ancestral methods of locomotion. The spirit of the times has not only taught a speed, but it has schooled us in all the mysterious agencies that contribute comfort and luxury while we travel. It has quickened our perceptions, educated our tastes, and moved us to demand and expect, even in the railway train that carries us, comfort that our forefathers could never have dreamed of.
If the age of the stage coach was the picturesque, so the present day of express trains is the era of luxury.
It is no disparagement to other lines to say that the Pennsylvania Railroad has been the pioneer in improving the railway service of America, and is now the embodiment of all that is progressive, the exemplification of the modern methods of conveying passengers from point to point. The evolution of the stage coach proceeded by slow and halting steps. First there was tramway, on which the effort was made to propel cars by the use of sails; then came the utilization of horses as motive power, and finally the crude attempts at traction engines. Each of the methods have seen service on what is now the Pennsylvania Railroad of today, and from such a humble origin has developed the splendid system of transportation, which is recognized universally as the best managed and best appointed railroad corporation in the world.
Those intending to spend the summer at Devon find ready at hand a train service which would make their grandfathers stare in wide-eyed amazement. There are half-hourly trains from Broad Street, with bright and cheery passenger coaches kept clean and comfortable, and many trains are expressed through to Devon on quick schedules, few stops, and at so frequent intervals that city people may enjoy all the pleasures of a summer outing, and yet never neglect the supervision of their business affairs.
Such are the means of transportation to the Devon Inn. When we reach it we find a substantial building of stone and brick of large size and quaint design. The rooms are so large as to give spacious accommodation to all the two hundred and fifty guests - and the halls, parlors, reading and smoking rooms and card rooms are all of the most attractive and convenient arrangement. The Inn was built in 1884, and has been a summer residence for a very extensive patronage ever since.
It has all the conveniences and comforts of the best city hotels - including fifty rooms with private bath attached.
Since last season the electric light has taken the place of gas in all the rooms - ministering to comfort and health almost as efficiently as the ample supply of pure fresh water from the Devon Springs, and the wonderfully complete system of hygienic drainage which is in use. The surrounding country is full of beautiful sites for those who fall so much in love with the locality as to want to buy land and build for themselves; the Inn is comfortable and filled always in summertime with bright and pleasant people, who find amusement there without toil, luxury without great expense, cool nights, merry days, and good fare at all times.
Shall we not this summer go to Devon and take our ease in our Inn?
The Devon Inn has been conducted since 1882 by H. J. & G. R. Crump, of Philadelphia, and will re-open Saturday, May 28th, for the season of 1892.
H. J. & G. R. Crump,