A HERMIT IN THE HIMALAYAS
use this faculty of thought only lately, and that he has still much more
distance to travel before he uses it fully. If any Gulliver of a Sirian
were cast ashore on this Lilliput of an Earth, he would find not less
astonishing things to write home about than did his famous proto-
type of the fable.
Those who imagine that because our own planet bears its load
of frail humanity, no other planet may therefore bear one too, betray
an ant-like narrowness of vision. Just as the brown earth, whose
molecules compose part of the crust of the lobe, revolves through
space only to provide habitation for ants, as the ants themselves are
firmly convinced, so this spacious universe reposes grandly in the
ether with all its living inhabitants concentrated in a single relatively
microscopic speck called the Earth, our human ants are likewise
firmly convinced. It would be difficult to choose between their
delusion and Bernard Shaw's theory, that this planet is the lunatic
asylum for the whole solar system!
We have measured the precession of the equinoxes to the thinnest
shade of a degree; we have calculated the time of the eclipses to
the very second; but we have not yet detected a single one of those
intelligent personalities who exist in other parts of this universe.
Bat if we do not know them, some of them know us, some of them
pity us and a few even serve us. One such servant was/is the Christ.
Men may strike out whichever of these two verbs they fancy, whilst
those who deny Him may delete both; the truth will never be
imperilled by their petty arrogance of opinion.
And so I return to my nightly contemplation of th,e star-clusters
and of the planets which revolve around the sun, yielding myself
to the nightly wonder which wells up unbidden at their sight. If
God did not really exist I should worship the sun; if! the sun did not
exist I should worship Nature, could I but see it then; and if Nature
did not exist I should worship the stars. I could not and would not
worship the moon, that cold ghostly ghastly sphere!
One sees a goodly number of failing and shooting stars in this
tropic hemisphere. What tremendous event dislocates the universal
machinery when a comet cuts a vivid path across the night sky!
I arise one night to glimpse the last stars scattered in the sky
and to watch the oncoming of dawn* The moon's face, white-
powdered like a woman's, keeps its vigil upon my own vigil. My
boulder-seat is bathed in the mellow radiance shed by these groups
that twinkle against their dark background. I cannot compute the
speed at which their light is travelling in order to reach these
Himalayan pimples on the skin of our own star. Certainly a hundred
thousand miles per second would be an under-estimate. Nor can I
measure the tremendous distance of some stars from the earth.