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K.C.SJ., K.C.LE, 




A Narrative of Travels in Manchuria, across 
the Gobi Desert, through the Himalayas, 
the Pamirs, and Chitral, 18*4-1894. With 
Maps and Illustrations. 


A Narrative of Travel. With Map and 


A History of the Relations which have sub- 
sisted between the two countries from the 
time of Warren Hastings to 1910; together 
with a particular account of the Mission to 
Lhasa of 1904. With Maps and Illustrations. 





K.C.S.I., it:.i.E. 





THE value of Knowledge and Character is duly im- 
pressed upon us. Of the value of Freedom we are 
told so much that we have come to regard it as an 
end in itself instead of only a means, or necessary 
condition. But Beauty we are half -inclined to 
connect with the effeminate. Poetry, Music, and 
Literature are under suspicion with the average 
English schoolboy, whose love of manliness he will 
share with nothing else. Yet love of Beauty per- 
sists in spite of all discouragement, and will not be 
suppressed. Natural Beauty, especially, insists on 
a place in our affections. Derived originally from 
Love, and essentially and inseparably connected 
with it, Natural Beauty acknowledges supremacy to 
Love alone. And it deserves our generous recog- 
nition, for it is wholesome and refreshing for our 

The acute observation and telling description of 
Natural Beauty is at least as necessary for the enjoy- 
ment of life as the pursuit of Natural Science to 
which so much attention is paid. For the concern 
of the former is the character, and of the latter only 
the cause of natural phenomena ; and of the two, 
character is the more important. It is, indeed, high 
time that we Englishmen were more awake than 
we are to the value of Natural Beauty. For we are 
born lovers of Nature, and no more poetic race than 



ourselves exists. Our country at its best, on an 
early summer day, is the loveliest little home in all 
the world. And we go out from this island home 
of ours to every land. We have unrivalled oppor- 
tunities, therefore, of seeing innumerable types of 
natural objects. By observing Nature in so many 
different aspects, and by comparing our impressions 
with one another, we ought to understand Nature 
better than any other race. And by entering more 
readily into communion with her we, better than 
others, should realise the Beauty she possesses. 

I am conscious of having myself made most 
inadequate use of the splendid opportunities my 
travels afforded me of seeing the Beauty of Nature. 
So I am all the more anxious that those following 
after me should not, by like omission, commit the 
same sin against themselves and against our country. 
We owe it to ourselves and to mankind to give full 
rein to our instinctive love of Natural Beauty, and 
to train and refine every inclination and capacity we 
have for appreciating it till we are able to see all 
those finer glories of which we now discern only the 
first faint glow. 

And if any other country excel us in apprecia- 
tion, then it behoves us to brace ourselves up to 
emulate and surpass that country, and learn how to 
understand Nature better and see more Beauty. 
For in love of Natural Beauty, and in capacity for 
communicating that love, England ought to be pre- 
eminent. She above every other country should 
come nearest to the Heart of Nature. 

F. E. Y. 

June, 1921. 



PREFACE - - ix-x 

INTRODUCTION ..... xv-xxviii 



The sacred Ganges A beneficent power Beauty of the 

plains First sight of the Himalaya - - 3-12 



Mystery of the forest The gorges Sequestered glens 13-19 


Butterflies Ferns Orchids Flower friends Rhododen- 
drons Temperate vegetation Primulas Arctic 
vegetation The range of vegetation - 20-37 



Butterflies Moths Birds Reptiles Mammals Animal 

beauty Primitive man Higher races 38-54 




Two views of Nature Variety of life Intensity of life 
The battle of life Adaptation and selection Pur- 
posi veness Purposeful structures Interdependence 
Organising Activity Gradation Care of off- 
spring The Activity not mechanical but Spiritual 
Nature's end A common aspiration - 55-85 


The foothills Darjiling A vision of the mountain Full 
view Mountain grandeur Dawn on the mountain 
Sunset on the mountain - - - 86-99 



Kashmir Barren mountains Dazzling peaks Purity of 

beauty - - - . 100-108 



Desert sunsets Tibetan sunsets The stars The whole 

universe our home A Heavenly Presence - 109-120 



One's own country Woman's beauty Love and beauty 
Their Divine Source Wedding Divine union The 
Inmost Heart of Nature - - - 121-134 




A spiritual background Purpose in Nature Higher 
beings No confining plan Immanent Spirit Col- 
lective personality England a Person Nature a 
Person Moved by an ideal The ideal in plants 
The ideal in animals The ideal in the world - 135-160 


Battling with physical Nature Battling with man In 
tune with Nature At the heart of the Universe is 
Love Divine fellowship is Nature's Ideal - 161-171 


Picturing the Ideal The Ideal Man Man and woman 
Perfecting the Ideal Discipline necessary Leader- 
ship Nature's method Our own responsibility The 
lovability of Nature God at the Heart of Nature 172-192 




SOCIETY - - - 195-216 


COLLEGE, LONDON - - 217-235 


TOWN children let loose in a meadow dash with 
shouts of joy to pluck the nearest flowers. They 
ravenously pick handfuls and armfuls as if they 
could never have enough. They are exactly like 
animals in the desert rushing to water. They are 
satisfying a great thirst in their souls the thirst 
for Beauty. Some of us remember, too, our first 
sight of snowy mountains in the Alps or in the 
Himalaya. We recall how our spirits leaped to 
meet the mountains, how we gasped in wonder and 
greedily feasted our eyes on the glorious spectacle. 
In such cases as these there is something in the 
natural object that appeals to something in us. 
Something in us rushes out to meet the something 
in the natural object. A responsive chord is struck. 
A relationship is established. We and the natural 
object come into harmony with one another. We 
have recognised in the flower, the mountain, the 
landscape, something that is the same as what is in 
ourselves. We fall in love with the natural object. 
A marriage takes place. Our soul is wedded to the 
soul of the natural object. And at the very 
moment of wedding Beauty is born. It springs 
from Love, just as Love itself originally sprang 
from the wedding of primitive man and woman. 


In this process all will depend upon the mood. 
If we are not in the mood for it, we are unreceptive 
of Nature's impressions, and we are irresponsive. 
We do not come into touch with Nature. Conse- 
quently we see no Beauty. But if we are in a 
sensitive and receptive mood, if our minds are not 
preoccupied, and if our soul is open to the impres- 
sions which Nature is ever raining on it, then we 
respond to Nature's appeal. We feel ourselves in 
tune with her. We come into communion with her, 
and we see Beauty. 

If we are ourselves feeling sad and sorrowful 
when we look out on Nature, and there all should 
happen to be bright and gay, we shall feel out of 
harmony with Nature, we shall not feel in touch 
with her, and we shall not see Beauty. 

On the other hand, when we are in a glad 
and overflowing mood we shall be extraordinarily 
responsive to Nature's appeal, and see Beauty in 
a nigged, leafless oak tree or a poor old woman at 
the corner of some mean street. And if when we 
are in such a mood Nature happens to be at her 
best and brightest, as on some spring morning, the 
Beauty we shall then see will be overpowering, and 
we shall scarcely be able to contain ourselves for 
ecstasy of joy. 

We shall have discovered an identity between 
what is in Nature and what is in us. In looking 
on Nature, we shall have been introduced into a 
Presence, greater than ourselves but like ourselves, 
which stirs in us this which we feel. When we see 
Beauty in Nature we are discovering that Nature is 
not merely a body, but has or is a soul. And the 


joy we feel is produced by the satisfaction our soul 
feels in coming into touch and harmony with this 
soul of Nature. Our soul is recognising samenesses 
between what is in it and what is in the soul of 
Nature, and feels joy in the recognition. 

And the instinct of fellowship with our kind 
impels us to communicate to others what we our- 
selves have felt. We want to tell others what we 
have seen and what we have experienced. 

We long, too, to share the joy which others also 
must have felt in contemplating Nature. We want 
especially to know and feel what those with far more 
sensitive souls than our own the great poets, 
painters, and musicians have felt. So we com- 
municate our feelings to others ; and we communi- 
cate with others, either personally or through their 
books or pictures or music, so that we may find out 
from them what more to look for, and may know 
better how to look for it. By so doing, our souls 
become more sensitive to the impressions of Nature, 
and we are better able to express those impressions. 
Our power of vision increases. Our soul's eye 
acquires a keener insight and sees deeper into the soul 
of Nature. We are able to enter more into the 
spirit of Nature, and the spirit of Nature is able to 
enter more into us. We arrive at a completer 
understanding between ourselves and Nature, are 
more in harmony with her, and consequently see 
more Beauty. 

We see, indeed, what Nature really is. We 
see the reality behind the appearance the content 
within the outward form. We are not for the 
moment concerned with the cause but with the 



character of Nature. We see the "I" behind 
the outward manifestation and representation. And 
if we have sympathy and understanding enough and 
are able truly to enter into the soul of Nature, we 
shall see the real " I " behind the common everyday 
44 1" just as the few who intimately know some 
great man see the real man behind the man who 
appears in the public eye the real Beaconsfield or 
Kitchener behind the Beaconsfield or Kitchener of 
the daily press. And, as we see more of this real 
" I " in Nature and are better able to get in touch 
and harmony with her, so shall we see greater 
Beauty in Nature. 

If we have petty, meagre souls we shall find little 
in common with the great soul of Nature, and conse- 
quently see only shallow Beauty. If we have great 
souls we shall have more in common and see more 
Beauty. But to arrive at a full understanding of 
the real Nature we must observe her from every 
point of view and see her in all her aspects. Only 
so shall we be able to understand her real self and see 
her full Beauty. And her aspects and the points 
of view from which we may observe them change 
so incessantly that the greatest of us falters. 
The more we see of Nature, the more we find 
there is to understand. And the more we under- 
stand Nature and commune with her, the more 
Beauty do we find there is to see. So to arrive 
at a complete understanding of Nature and see 
all her Beauty is beyond the capacity of us finite 

Yet we are impelled to go on striving to see all 
we can. And in the following pages an attempt is 


made to show how more Beauty in Nature may be 

Often in the Himalaya I have watched an eagle 
circling overhead. I have sat on the mountain-side 
and watched it sail majestically along in graceful 
curves and circles, and with perfect ease and poise. 
Far above the earth it would range, and seemingly 
without exertion glide easily over tracts that we 
poor men could only enter by prodigious effort. 
Captivated by its grace of motion, and jealous of its 
freedom, I would for hours watch it. And this eagle 
I knew, from the height and distance from which it 
would swoop down on its prey, to be possessed of 
eyesight of unrivalled keenness in addition to its 
capacity for movement. 

So this bird had opportunities such as no human 
being not even an airman has of seeing the earth 
and what is on it. At will it could glide over the 
loftiest mountain ranges. At will it could sail above 
the loveliest valleys. At will it could perch upon 
any chosen point and observe things at close range. 
In a single day this one eagle might have seen the 
finest natural scenery in the world the highest 
mountain, the most varied forest, thickly populated 
plains and bare, open plains, peoples, animals, birds, 
insects, trees, flowers, all of the most varied descrip- 
tion. In one day, and in the ordinary course of its 
customary circlings and sailings, it might have seen 
what men come from the ends of the Earth to view, 
and are content if they see only a hundredth part of 
what the eagle sees every day. 

From its mountain eerie in Upper Sikkim it 


might have seen the rose of dawn flushing the snowy 
summits of Kinchinjunga, and far away Mount 
Everest. And soaring aloft, the eagle might have 
looked out over the populous plains of India and 
seen, like silver streaks, the rivers flowing down 
from the Himalaya to join in the far distance the 
mighty Mother Ganges. Then its eye might have 
ranged over the vast forest which clothes in dense 
green mantle the plain at the foot of the mountains 
from Nepal to Bhutan and Assam, and from the 
plain spreads up on the mountain-sides themselves 
and reaches to the very borders of eternal snow. 
Over this vast forest with its treasures of tree and 
plant, animal and insect life, tropical, temperate, 
and alpine, the eagle might have soared ; and then, 
passing over the Himalayan watershed, have looked 
down upon the treeless, open, undulating, almost 
uninhabited plain of Tibet, and in the distance seen 
the great Brahmaputra River, which, circling round 
Bhutan, cuts clean through the Himalaya and, turn- 
ing westward, also joins the Ganges. 

In the whole world no more wonderful natural 
scenery is to be found. And the eagle with no 
unusual effort could see it all in a single day, and 
see it with a distinctness of sight no man could 
equal. But keen though its eyesight was and wide 
though its range, the eagle in all that beautiful 
region would see not a single beauty. Neither in 
the sunrise, nor in the snowy mountains, nor in the 
luxuriant tropical forest, nor in the flowers, the 
birds, the butterflies, nor in the people and animals, 
nor in the cataracts and precipices would it see any 
beautv whatever. The mountain would be to it a 


mere outline, the forests a patch of green, the rivers 
streaks of white, the animals just possible items of 
food. The eagle would see much, but it would see 
no beauty. 

Perhaps we shall understand why it is that the 
eagle with these unbounded opportunities sees no 
beauty if we consider the case of a little midge 
buzzing round a man's body. The midge is roughly 
in about the same relation to the body of a man that 
the eagle is to the body of the Earth. The midge 
in its hoverings sees vast tracts of the human body ; 
sees the features the nose, the eye, the mouth ; sees 
the trunk and the limbs and the head. But even in 
the most beautiful of men it would see no beauty. 
And it would see no beauty because it would have 
no soul to understand expression. It might be 
hovering round the features of a man when the 
smile on his lips and the exaltation in his eyes were 
expressive of the highest ecstasy of soul, but the 
midge would see no beauty in those features because 
it had not the soul to enter into the soul of the man 
and understand the expression on his face. All the 
little shades and gradations and tones and lights in 
the features of the man would be quite meaningless 
to the midge because it would know nothing of the 
man's soul, of which the features and the changes 
and variations in them were the outward manifesta- 
tion. The midge would know nothing of the 
reality of the man which lay hidden behind the 

It is the same with the eagle in respect to natural 
features as it is with the midge in respect to the 
features of the man. The eagle sees only the bare 


outward appearance of Nature, and sees no meaning 
in her features. It has no soul to enter into the soul 
of Nature and understand what the natural features 
are expressing. The delicate lights and shades and 
changes on the face of Nature have no meaning for 
it. It sees the bare appearance. It sees nothing of 
the reality behind the appearance. It has no soul to 
wed to the soul of Nature. It therefore sees no 

But now 7 supposing that among all the midges 
that buzz about a man there happened to be an 
artist-midge with exceeding sensitiveness of soul, 
one which was able to recognise a fundamental 
identity of life between it and the man, one which 
was able to recognise samenesses of feelings and 
emotions and aspirations, and by recognition of the 
samenesses between it and the man enter into the 
very life and soul of the man, then that midge would 
be able to understand all the varying expressions on 
the face of the man, and by understanding those 
expressions see their beauty. 

We cannot expect an eagle in a similar way to 
have that sensitiveness of soul which would enable 
it to enter into the soul of Nature, understand 
Nature, and so see its Beauty. But what we cannot 
expect of the eagle we can expect of man. We can 
expect an Artist to appear who will be to the Earth 
what the artist-midge was to the man. 

Man does to some extent enter into the soul of 
Nature. He has some understanding of Nature. 
He sees Beauty ; and whenever he sees Beauty in 
Nature he is in touch with the soul of Nature. Even 
ordinary men see some of the Beauty of Nature and 


have some feeling of kinship with her. They have 
something in common between their soul and the 
soul of Nature. They have the sense of more in 
common between them and Nature than a midge 
has between it and a man. 

And in a delicately sensitive man such as an 
artist painter, poet, or musician this sense of 
kinship with Nature is highly developed. In regard 
to his relationship with Nature he is like the finely 
sensitive and cultured artist-midge would be in 
regard to a man the midge who, through under- 
standing the inner soul and character of the man, 
was able to read the expression on his features and 
see their beauty. 

What we ordinary men have to do, and what we 
especially want those gifted with unusually sensitive 
souls to do, is to bear in mind the difficulties which 
the midge has in understanding us and in seeing any 
beauty in us, and the way in which it would have to 
train and cultivate its faculties before it could ever 
hope to understand the expression on our features 
to bear this in mind, and then to take ourselves in 
hand and develop the soul within us till it is fine 
enough and great enough to enter into the great 
soul of Nature. 

The sense of Beauty we all possess in some slight 
degree is in itself a proof that behind the outward 
appearance of Nature there is a spiritual reality 
an "I " just as behind the outward appearance of 
the man which the artist-midge sees there is the " I " 
of the man. And by cultivating this sense that 
is, by training and developing our capacity to see 
deeper into the heart of Nature, see more signifi- 


cance and meaning in each shade and change of her 
features, and read more understandingly what is 
going on deep within her soul we shall enable 
ourselves to see a fuller and richer Natural 

So we look forward to the appearance among us 
of a great Artist who, born with an exceptionally 
sensitive soul, will deliberately heighten and in- 
tensify this sensitiveness, learn what others have 
experienced, compare notes with them, and train 
himself to detect the significance of every slightest 
indication which Nature gives of the workings of 
the soul within her ; and then, recognising the same- 
ness between his own feelings and the feelings of 
Nature, will fall deeply in love with her, give 
himself up utterly to her, marry her, and in their 
marriage give birth to Beauty of surpassing rich- 
ness and intensity. 

What we await, then, is an Artist with a soul 
worthy of being wedded to Nature. Puny, shallow 
artists will not be able to see much more of Nature 
than a midge sees of a man. What we want is a 
man with the physique, the abounding health and 
spirits, the fine intellect, the poetic power and 
imagination, the love of animals and his fellow-men, 
the skill, fitness, and gay courage of a Julian 
Grenfell. We want a man with the opportunities 
he had of mixing from childhood in London and in 
country houses with every grade and condition of 
men, with statesmen, soldiers, men of art, hunting 
men, racing men, schoolboys, undergraduates, liter- 
ary men, gamekeepers, old family retainers every 
kind and sort of human being. We want a man of 


such qualifications combined with the qualifications 
of a Darwin with his love of natural history, his 
power of close and accurate observation, his genius 
for drawing right inferences from what he observed, 
his wide knowledge of Nature in her many manifes- 
tations, his sympathetic touch \vith every plant and 
animal, and his warm, affectionate nature in all 
human intercourse. 

We want, in fact, a Naturalist- Artist a com- 
bination of Julian Grenfell and Darwin. And this 
is no outrageously impossible, but a very likely and 
fitting combination. For Julian Grenfell wrote 
great poetry even in the trenches in Flanders 
between the two battles of Ypres. And with his 
love of country life, shooting, fishing, and hunting, 
his inclination might very easily have been directed 
towards natural history. If it had been and the 
opportunity had offered, we might have had the 
very type of Naturalist- Artist w r e are now awaiting. 
He would have had the physical fitness and capacity 
to endure hardships which are required for travel in 
parts of the Earth where the Natural Beauty is 
finest, and he would have had, too, the sensitiveness 
of soul to receive impressions and the power of 
expressing himself so that others might share with 
him the impressions he had felt. If after passing 
through the earlier stages of shooting and hunting 
birds and animals he had come to the more profitable 
stage of observing them, and had devoted to the 
observation of their habits and ways of life the same 
skill and acumen which he had shown in hunting 
them, he might, with his innate and genuine love of 
animals, very well have become a great naturalist as 


well as what he was a great sportsman and a writer 
of great poetry. 

It is for the advent of such Naturalist-Artist that 
we wait. But we have to prepare the way for him 
and do our share in helping to produce him. And 
this will now be my endeavour, for it so happens 
that I have been blessed with opportunities some 
of my own making, some provided for me of seeing 
Nature on a larger scale and under more varied 
aspects than falls to the lot of most men. I am 
ashamed when I reflect how little use I have made 
of those opportunities how little I was prepared 
and trained to make the most of them. But this at 
least I can do : I can point out to the coming Artist 
those parts of the world where he is likely to see 
the Beauty of Nature most fully, and in greatest 

With this end in view I shall begin with the 
Sikkim Himalaya, over which the eagle flew, 
because it contains within a small area a veritable 
compendium of Nature. Rising directly out of the 
plains of India, practically within the tropics, these 
mountains rise far above the limits of perpetual 
snow. Their base is covered with luxuriant 
vegetation of a truly tropical character, and this 
vegetation extends through all the ranges from 
tropical to temperate and arctic. The animal, 
bird, and insect life does the same. And here also 
are to be found representative men of every clime. 
Similarly does the natural scenery vary from plain 
to highest mountain. There are roaring torrents and 
wide, placid rivers. The Sikkim Himalaya, looking 
down on the plains of India on the one side and the 


steppes of Tibet on the other, is the most suitable 
place I know for a study of Natural Beauty. 

But there are beauties in Kashmir and in the 
great Karakoram Mountains behind Kashmir which 
are not found in Sikkim. And there are beauties in 
the Desert which are not found in either Sikkim or 
Kashmir. So I must take the Artist to these 
regions also. 

And I choose Sikkim and Kashmir because these 
are easily accessible regions to which men with a 
thirst for Beauty can return again and again, till 
they are saturated with the atmosphere and have 
imbibed the true spirit of the region till they have 
realised how much these natural features express 
sentiments which they, too, are wanting to express 
their aspirations for the highest and purest, their 
longing for repose, their delight in warmth and 
affection, or whatever their sentiment might be. 
Thousands of Englishmen, cultured Indians, and 
travellers from all over the world, visit the Himalaya 
every year some for sport, some for health, some 
for social enjoyment. Amongst these may be our 
Naturalist-Artist who year after year, drawn to 
Sikkim and Kashmir by his love of Natural Beauty, 
would learn to know Nature in the wonderfully 
varied aspects under which she is to be seen in those 
favoured regions, who would come into ever-deepen- 
ing communion with her, would yearly see more 
Beauty in her, and would communicate to us the 
enjoyment he had felt. 

But Natural Beauty includes within its scope 
a great deal more than only natural scenery. It 
includes the beauty of all natural objects men and 


women as well as mountains, animals, and plants. 
So these also the Artist will have to keep within his 
purview. And his love of Nature, and consequently 
his capacity for seeing Natural Beauty, will be all 
the surer if he uses his head as well as his heart in 
forming his final conception of her that is to say, 
his final for the moment, as no man ever has or can 
come to a literally final conception of Nature. So 
the Artist will pause now and then to test his view 
of Nature in the light of pure reason. For he will 
be well enough aware that neither Love nor Beauty 
can be perfect unless it be irradiated with Truth, 
and the three he will ever strive to keep together. 





THE Sikkim Himalaya is a region first brought 
prominently into notice by the writings of Sir 
Joseph Hooker, the great naturalist, who visited it 
in 1848. It lies immediately to the east of Nepal, 
and can now be reached by a railway which ascends 
the outer range to Darjiling. It is drained by the 
Teesta River, up the main valley of which a railway 
runs for a short distance. The region is therefore 
easily accessible. For the purposes of this book it 
may be taken to include the flat open forest and 
grass-covered tract known as the Terai, imme- 
diately at the base of the mountain. This is only a 
few hundreds of feet above sea-level, so that from 
there to the summit of the Himalaya there is a rise 
of nearly 28,000 feet in about seventy miles. The 
lower part is in the 26th degree of latitute, so that 
the heat is tropical. And as the region comes 
within the sweep of the monsoon from the Bay of 
Bengal, there is not only great heat in the plains 
and lower valleys, but great moisture as well. The 
mountain-sides are in consequence clothed with a 
luxuriant vegetation. 

To enter this wonderful region the traveller has 
first to cross the Ganges the sacred river of the 


Hindus. Great rivers have about them a fascina- 
tion all their own. They produce in us a sense of 
everlastingness and irresistibility. The Ganges, 
more than a mile wide, comes sweeping along in 
deep majestic flood from the far distance to the far 
distance, on and on unendingly, from all time to all 
time, and in such depth and volume that nothing 
human can withstand it. In the dry season, when 
it is low and the sun is shining, it is placid and 
benign with a bright and smiling countenance. 
Stately temples, set amidst sacred groves and grace- 
ful palms, lighten the banks. On the broad steps 
of the bathing ghats are assembled crowds of pious 
worshippers in clothes of every brilliant hue. The 
river has an aspect of kindliness and geniality and 
life-givingness. Its waters and rich silt have 
brought plenty to many a barren acre, and the 
dwellers on its banks know well that it issues from 
the holy Himalaya. 

But the Ganges is not always in this gracious 
mood, and does not always wear this kindly aspect. 
In the rainy season it is a thing of terror. Over- 
head black, thundery clouds sweep on for days and 
weeks together towards the mountains. There is 
not a glimpse of sun. The rain descends as a 
deluge. The river is still further swollen by the 
melting of the snow on the Himalaya, and now 
comes swirling along in dark and angry mood, rising 
higher and higher in its banks, eating into them, 
and threatening to overtop them and carry death 
and destruction far and wide. Men no longer go 
down to meet it. They shrink back from it. They 
uneasily watch it till the fulness of its strength is 


spent and it has returned to its normal beneficent 

No wonder such a river is regarded as sacred. 
To the more primitive people it is literally a living 
person and a person who may be propitiated, a 
person who may do them harm if they annoy him, 
and do them good if they make themselves agree- 
able to him and furnish him with what he wants. 
To the cultured Hindus it is an object of the 
deepest reverence. If they can bathe in its waters 
their sins are washed away. If after death their 
ashes can be cast on its broad bosom, they will be 
secure of everlasting bliss. From perhaps the 
earliest days of our race, for some hundreds of thou- 
sands of years, men may have lived upon its banks. 
For it was in the forests beside great rivers, in a 
warm and even climate, that primitive men must 
have lived. They would have launched their canoes 
upon its waters, and used it as their only pathway 
of communication with one another. And always 
they would have looked upon it with mingled awe 
and affection. Besides the sun it would have been 
the one great natural object which would attract 
their attention. Insensibly the sight of that ever- 
rolling flood must have deeply affected them. They 
must have come to love it as they beheld it through 
the greater part of the year. The sight of its de- 
structive power may have made them recoil for a 
time in fear and awe. But this would be forgotten 
as the flood subsided, and the river was again smooth 
and smiling and passing peacefully along before 

So men do not run away from it. They gather 


to it. They build great cities on its banks, and 
come from great distances to see it. They perform 
pilgrimages every year in thousands to the spot 
where it issues from the Himalaya. And they 
penetrate even to its source far back and high up 
in the mountains. 

To the most enlightened, also, the Ganges 
should be an object of reverence for its antiquity, 
for its future, and for its power. From the surface 
of the Bay of Bengal the sun's rays have drawn par- 
ticles of water into the atmosphere. Currents in 
the air have carried them for hundreds of miles over 
the sea and over the plains of Bengal, till the chill of 
the Himalaya Mountains has caused them to con- 
dense and fall in snow and rain. But some have 
been carried farther. They have been transported 
right over the Himalaya at a height of at least 
20,000 feet, till they have finally fallen in Tibet. 
It is a striking fact that some of the water in the 
Ganges is from rivers in Tibet which have cut their 
way clean through the mighty range of the Hima- 
laya. The Arun River, for example, rises in Tibet 
and cuts through the Himalaya by a deep gorge in 
the region between Mount Everest and Kinchin- 
junga. These rivers are, indeed, much older than 
the mountains. They were running their course 
before the Himalaya were upheaved, and they kept 
wearing out a channel for themselves as the moun- 
tains rose and slowly over-towered them. 

Reverence, therefore, is due to the Ganges on 
account of its vast antiquity. Reverence also is 
due because it will flow on like now for hundreds of 
thousands and perhaps for millions of years to come. 


Round and round in never-ceasing cycle the water 
is drawn up from the ocean, is carried along in the 
clouds, descends upon the mountains, and gathers 
in the Ganges to flow once more into the sea. The 
Ganges may gradually change its course as it eats 
into first one bank and then the other. But it will 
flow on and on and on for as far into the future as 
the human eye can ken. 

And its power, so terrifying to primitive man 
even to us at times will become more and more a 
power for good. Already great canals have been 
taken from its main stream and its tributaries, and 
millions of acres have been irrigated by its water, 
thus helping to bring to birth great crops of wheat 
and rice, cotton, sugar-cane, and oil-seeds. 
Schemes for utilising the \vater-power in its fall 
through the mountains by converting it into electric 
power are in contemplation, so that railways may 
be run by it and power for great industries be 
furnished. Once more, too, the course of the river 
may become a line of communication as sea-planes 
are used to fly from town to town and alight upon 
its surface. 

So as we come to know the river in its deepest 
significance, our impression of its everlastingness 
and its irresistible power remains. But our sense 
of fear diminishes. We feel that the river is ready 
to co-operate with us. That it is capable of being 
taken in hand and led. That its power is not essen- 
tially destructive but beneficent. That there is in 
it almost inexhaustible capacity for helping plant 
and beast and man. And that it is a friend and 
anxious to help us. 


The Hindus have been right all along in wor- 
shipping it. Their worship, with tropical luxu- 
riance, may have developed to extravagant lengths. 
But the instinct which promoted this worship was 
perfectly sound. The river bears within its breast 
great life-giving properties, and in worshipping the 
river the Hindus were half-consciously expressing 
their sense of dependence on these life-giving pro- 
perties, and of affection and gratitude to the river 
for the benefits it conferred. Mere fear of its 
destructive character fear alone would not pro- 
duce the desire for worship. They did and do fear 
the river, but behind the fear is a feeling that it can 
be propitiated, that it can be induced to help man 
and does not want to thwart him. And here they 
were perfectly right. We are at last learning the 
way by which this may be done, and now see clearly 
what the Hindus only vaguely felt, that the heart 
of the river is right enough that once it is tamed 
and trained it can bring untold good to man. 

This the Artist will readily discern. He will 
enter into the spirit of the river. He will read 
its true character. Refusing to be terrorised by 
its more tremendous moods, he will exult in its 
might, and see in it a potent agency for good. In 
these ways the river will make its appeal to him ; 
and responding to the appeal, the Artist will see 
great Beauty in the river and describe that Beauty 
to us. 

Beyond the river, before we reach the moun- 
tain, w r e have to pass over absolutely level cultivated 
plains, without a single eminence in sight. To 


most they would appear dull, monotonous, unin- 
teresting. There is no horizon to which the eye 
can wander and find satisfaction in remote distance. 
There is no hill to which to raise our eyes and our 
souls with them. The outlook is confined within 
the narrowest limits. Palm trees, banyan trees, 
houses, walled gardens, everywhere restrict it. 
The fields are small, the trees and houses numerous. 
Nothing distant is to be seen. To the European 
the prospect is depressing. But to the Bengali it 
is his very life. These densely inhabited plains are 
his home. They have, therefore, all the attraction 
which familiar scenes in which men have grown up 
from childhood always have . A Bengali prefers them 
to high mountains. He loves the sight of the bril- 
liant emerald rice-fields, of the tall feathery palms, 
of the shady banyan trees, of the flaming poin- 
settias, the bright marigolds, cannas and bougain- 
villea, the many-coloured crotons and calladiums, 
the sweet-scented jasmine, oranges, tuberoses, and 
gardenia ; and the gaudy jays, the swiftly darting 
parrots, and the playful squirrels. He loves, too, 
the bathing-pools, and the patient oxen, and the 
cool, sequestered gardens. And he loves these 
things for their very nearness. His attention 
is not distracted to distant horizons and inac- 
cessible heights. All is close to the eye and easily 
visible. His world may be small, but it is all within 
reach. He can know well each tree and flower, 
each bird and animal. It is not a wide and varied 
life. But it is an intense and very vivid life ; and 
to the Bengali, on that account, more preferable. 
And if it is confined it is at least confined in 


the open air, and in a climate of perpetual 

Beyond this highly cultivated and thickly popu- 
lated part, and still in the plains, we come to a wild 
jungle country which stretches up to the foothills, 
and is swampy, pestilential, and swarming with 
every kind of biting insect. It is a nasty country 
to travel through. But it has its interests. There 
grow here remarkable grasses, with tall straight 
shoots gracefully bending over at the top from the 
weight of their feathery heads ; and so high are 
these gigantic grasses that they often reach above 
the head of a man on an elephant. The areas 
covered by them are practically impenetrable to 
men on foot, and there is a mysterious feel about 
this region, for it is the haunt of rhinoceros, tigers, 
and boars. In passing through it we have an un- 
easy feeling that almost anything may appear on 
the instant, and that once we were on foot and away 
from the path we would be irretrievably lost 
drowned in a sea of waving grass. 

From this sea of grass rise patches of forest and 
single trees. The most prevalent is the Sal tree 
(Shorea robusta), a magnificent gregarious tree with 
a tall straight stem and thick glossy foliage. But 
the most conspicuous in March and April is the 
Dak tree (Butea /rondosa), an ungainly tree, but 
remarkable for its deep rich scarlet flowers, like 
gigantic sweet-peas but of a thick velvety texture. 
These flowers blossom before the leaves appear, and 
when the tree is in full bloom it looks like a veritable 
flame in the forest. 


Another beautiful tree which is found in this 
lower part is the Acacia catechu, known in Northern 
India as the Khair tree, and found all about the 
foothills of the Himalaya. Not tall and stately, 
but rather contorted and ample like the oak, it has 
a graceful feathery foliage and a kindly inviting 

Proceeding over these level plains, which as we 
approach the mountains are covered with dense 
forest, stagnant morasses, and trim tea-gardens, 
we one morning awake to find that over the horizon 
to the north hangs a long cloud-like strip, white 
suffused with pink level on its lower edge but 
with the upper edge irregular in outline. No one 
who had not seen snow mountains before would 
suppose for a moment that that strip could be a line 
of mountain summits. For there is not a trace of 
any connection with the earth. Between it and 
the earth is nothing but blue haze. And it is so 
high above the horizon that it seems incredible that 
any such connection could exist. Yet no one who 
had seen snow mountains could doubt for an instant 
that that rose-flushed strip of white was the Hima- 
laya. For it possesses two unmistakable charac- 
teristics which distinguish it from any cloud. 
Firstly, the lower edge is absolutely straight and 
horizontal : it is exactly parallel with the horizon. 
Secondly, the upper edge is jagged, and the outline 
of the jaggedness cuts clean and perfectly defined 
against the intense blue of the sky. 

No one who knows mountains could doubt that 
this line was the Himalaya, yet every time we see it 


afresh we marvel more. We know for certain that 
those sharp edges are the summits of mountains 
whose base is on this solid earth. Yet, however sure 
we may be of that fact, we do not cease to wonder. 
And as we gaze upon that line of snowy summits 
no more indeed, less intrinsically beautiful than 
many a cloud, yet unspeakably more significant, we 
are curiously elated. Something in us leaps to 
meet the mountains. And we cannot keep our 
eyes away. We seem lifted up, and feel higher 
possibilities within ourselves and within the world 
than we had ever known before. As we travel on- 
ward we strain to keep the mountains continually in 
sight, for we cannot bear to leave them. We feel 
better men for having seen them, and for the re- 
mainder of our days we would keep them in 
continuing remembrance. 

As we come closer under the mountains the base 
emerges from the haze and the line of snowy peaks 
disappears behind the nearer outer ranges. Then 
we come to these ranges themselves, which rise 
with considerable abruptness out of the level 
plains with very little intermediate modulation of 
form, and we find them densely clothed in forest 
true, rich, luxuriant, tropical forest with all the de- 
lights of glistening foliage, graceful ferns and palms, 
glorious orchids, and brilliant butterflies. 



THIS great forest, which extends for hundreds of 
miles along the slopes of the Himalaya, reaches up 
from the plains to the snows. In the lower part it 
is a truly tropical forest, and about a tropical forest 
there is something peculiarly mysterious. A 
strange stillness is over all. Not, indeed, the abso- 
lute silence of the desert, where literally not a sound 
is heard ; for here in the forest, even during the hot 
noonday quiet, there is always the purring of insect 
life. But that stillness when not a leaf moves and 
no harsh noise is heard, when an impressive hush 
is laid upon the scene and we seem to be in some 
mysterious Presence dominating all about us and 
rousing our expectancy. 

A kind of awe seizes us, and with it also comes a 
keen exhilaration. We can see at most for a hun- 
dred yards in any direction. But we know that the 
forest extends like this for hundreds of miles. And 
we realise that if we wandered off the track we 
might never find it again. It is all very awe-inspir- 
ing, and in some ways frightening. Still, we are 
thrilled by the sight of such a profusion, in- 
tensity, and variety of life. In this hot, steamy 
atmosphere plants and trees grow in luxuriant 
abundance. Every inch of soil is occupied. And 



these forests are not like woods in England, which 
contain only three or four species oaks, beeches, 
sycamores, etc. In these Sikkim forests we seldom 
see two trees of the same kind standing next each 
other. One tree may be more prevalent than 
others, but there is always great variety in the forms 
and colours of the stems, the branches, the leaves, 
the flowers, the habit of growth. There are trees of 
immense height with tall, strong, straight stems, and 
there are shrubs like hydrangeas of every size and 
description. There are climbers as huge as cables. 
And there are gentle little plants hardly rising 
above the ground. There is no end to the variety 
of plant life, and we have an inner spring of delight 
as we come across treasure after treasure that 
hitherto we had only seen reared with infinite care 
in some expensive hot-house. 

And what we see is only, we feel, a stray sample 
of what there is to be seen. What may there not 
be in those forest depths which we dare not enter 
for fear of losing our way ! What other towering 
forest monarchs might we not come across if we 
plunged into the forest ! What other exquisite 
flowers, what insects, what birds, what animals ! 
What wealth of insect life may there not be at the 
tops of the trees where the fierce sunshine hidden 
from us by their leaves is drawing out their flowers ! 
What may there not be going on in the ground 
beneath us! We know, that in these forests, 
perhaps near enough to see us, though their 
forms are hidden by their likeness to their 
leafy surroundings and the dappled sunlight, are 
animals as various as elephants, tigers, leopards, 


foxes, squirrels, and bats ; birds as various as hawks, 
parrots, and finches ; and insects from butterflies, 
bees, and wasps to crickets, beetles, and ants. The 
forest, we know, in addition to all the wealth of tree 
and plant life, is teeming with animal and insect 
life, though of this we are able to see very little, so 
carefully do animals conceal themselves. In the 
night they emerge, and in the morning and evening 
there is a deafening din of insect Me. But at noon- 
day there is a soft and solemn hush, and we are tense 
with curiosity to know all that is going on in those 
mysterious forest depths and up among the tree- 
tops, so close but so impossible of access. 

The great forest is the very epitome of life. 
Concentrated here in small compass is every form 
and variety of living thing, from lowliest plant to 
forest monarch, from simplest animalcule to 
elephant, monkey, and man. There is life and 
abundant life all about us. But it is not the noisy, 
clamorous, obtrusive life of the city. It is a still, 
intense life, full of untold possibilities for good or 
harm. And herein lies its mystery : we see much, 
but we feel that there is infinitely more behind. 

Of this life of the forest in all its richness, in- 
tensity, and variety we shall come to know more as 
we ascend the Teesta Valley till it reaches the 
snows, and tropical plant and animal life changes 
first to temperate and then to arctic forms. But 
first we must note some beauties of the valley itself. 

The valley of the great Teesta River, the valleys 
of its tributaries, the gorges through which the main 
river and its tributaries rush, the cascades pouring 


in succession down the mountain-sides, the seques- 
tered glens and dells all these have beauties which 
the terrific rain and the mists in which they are 
usually enveloped do not hide but augment. 

The River Teesta itself, though only a minor 
contributor to the Brahmaputra, is nevertheless 
during the rainy season, when it is fed both by the 
falling rain and by the melting snows and glaciers 
of the Kinchinjunga region, impressive in its 
might and energy. With a force and tumult 
that nothing could withstand it comes swirling 
down the valley. Before its rushing impetuosity 
everything would be swept away. For it is no 
little tossing torrent : it possesses depth and weight 
and volume, and sweeps majestically along in great 
waves and cataracts. In comparison with the 
serene composure of the lofty summits here is life 
and force and activity to the full and destructive 
activity at that, to all appearance. Yet as, from 
the safety of a bridge by which the genius of man 
has spanned it, we look upon the turmoil, a strange 
thrill comes through us. There is such splendid 
energy in the river. We are fascinated by the 
power it displays. It is glorious to look upon. 
Alarming in a way it is. But we know it can only 
act within certain strictly defined bounds. A foot 
beyond those bounds it is powerless. And while it 
is already confined by Nature within these limits, 
we know the day will come when it will be com- 
pletely within the control of man and its very power 
available for our own purposes. So in the end it 
is with no sense of terror that we watch the raging 
river in its headlong course. Rather do we enjoy 


the sight of such exultant energy, which will one 
day be at man's disposal. We rejoice with the 
river in a feeling of power, and herein lies its Beauty 
for us. 

As we look at the tremendous gorges through 
which the river clears its way we again are filled with 
awe and wonder. Straight facing us is a clean, 
sheer cliff of hardest, sternest rock. It cannot be 
actually perpendicular, but to all appearance it is. 
And the mere sight of it strengthens our souls. 
Here is granite solidity, and yet no mere stolid 
obstinacy. For these cliffs have risen so the 
geologists tell us through their own internal 
energy to their present proud position. They have, 
indeed, had to give place to the river to this extent 
that they have had to acknowledge his previous right 
of way and to leave a passage for him in their upward 
effort. The river is careful to exact that much toll 
from them year by year. But having paid that 
toll, they have risen by a process of steady, long 
persistence, and have maintained themselves in 
their exalted position by sheer firmness and tenacity 
of character. And as, dripping with warm moisture 
and carrying with them in any available crevice 
graceful ferns and trees, they rise above us high up 
into the clouds, and form the buttresses of those 
snowy peaks of which we catch occasional glimpses, 
we are impressed not only with the height of the 
aspiration those peaks embody, but with the 
strength and persistency of purpose which was 
necessary to carry the aspiration into effect. 

Overpowered, indeed, we feel at times shut 


in and overshadowed by what seems so infinitely 
greater than ourselves. The roaring river fills the 
centre of the gorge. The precipitous cliffs rise 
sheer on either hand. We seem for the moment 
too minute to cope with such titanic conditions. 
But sometimes by circumventing the cliffs and after 
a long tedious detour appearing high above them, 
sometimes by blasting a passage across their very 
face, we have proved ourselves able to overcome 
them. They no longer affright us. And as we 
return down the valley after a journey to its 
upmost limit, it is with nothing but sheer delight 
that we look upon these cliffs. They simply im- 
press us with the strength that must go along with 
elevation of purpose if that purpose is to be achieved. 
Unbuttressed by these staunch cliffs the mountains 
could never have reached their present height. 
We glory, then, with the cliffs in their solidity and 
strength as they proudly face the world. And we 
recognise that in this firmness and consistency of 
purpose lies their especial Beauty. 

In contrast with the swirling river and hard, 
rugged cliffs we, quite close to them, and hidden 
away in a modest tributary of a tributary in the 
quiet forest depths, will happen upon some deep 
sequestered pool which imbues us with a sense of the 
delicacy and reserve of Nature. We here see her 
in a peculiarly tender aspect. The pool is still and 
clear. The lulling murmurs of a waterfall show 
whence it draws its being. A gentle rivulet carries 
the overbrim away. It is bounded by rocks and 
boulders green with exquisite ferns and mosses. 


Overhanging it are weeping palms with long 
straight leaves. Trees, with erect stems as tall as 
Nelson's Column, strain upward to the light. But- 
terflies in numbers flutter noiselessly about. The 
air is absolutely still and of a feel like satin. Clouds 
of intangible softness and clean and white as 
snow float around, appear, dissolve, and reappear. 
Through the parting in the overhanging trees the 
intense blue sky is seen in glimpses. The sun here 
and there pierces through the arching foliage, and 
the greens of the foliage glisten brighter still. 
The whole atmosphere of the spot is one of reticence 
and reserve. Yet quiet though it be and restful 
though it be, there is no sense of stagnation. The 
pool, though deep and still, is vividly alive. Its 
waters are continually being renewed. And the 
forest, though not a leaf moves, is, we know, strain- 
ing with all the energy of life for food and light, for 
air and moisture. So by this jewel of a pool in its 
verdant setting we have a sense of an activity which 
is gentle and refined. The glen's is a shy and in- 
timate Beauty, especially congenial to us after the 
forceful Beauty of the river and the bold, proud 
Beauty of the cliffs. But it is no insipid Beauty : 
in its very quietness and confidence is strength. 



THE Teesta Valley in its lowest part is only 700 feet 
above sea-level. It is deep and confined and satu- 
rated with perpetual moisture. Hardly a breath 
of wind stirs, and all plant life is forced as in a hot- 
house. The trees do not, indeed, grow as high as 
the Big Trees of California or the eucalyptus in 
Australia, but some of these in the Teesta Valley 
are 200 feet in height with buttressed trunks be- 
tween 40 and 50 feet in girth, and give the same 
impression of stateliness and calm composure. 
With incredible effort and incessant struggle they 
have attained their present proud position, and the 
traveller most willingly accords them the tribute 
that is their due. 

Grand tropical oaks nearly 50 feet in girth also 
occur, screw-pines 50 feet in height with immense 
crowns of grassy leaves 4 feet long, palms of many 
kinds, rattan-canes, bamboos, plantains, and tall 
grasses such as only grow in dense, hot jungles. 
Gigantic climber*, tackle the loftiest trees. One 
allied to the gourd bears immense yellowish-white 
pendulous blossoms ; another bears curious pitcher- 
shaped flowers. Vines, peppers, and pothos inter- 
lace with the palms and plantains in impenetrable 
jungle. Orchids clothe the trees. Everywhere 



and always we hear the whirr and hum of insect life, 
sometimes soft and soothing, sometimes harsh and 
strident. And floating about wherever we look are 
butterflies innumerable, many dull and unpreten- 
tious, but some of a brilliancy of colour that makes 
us gasp with pleasure. 

We may be pouring with perspiration, pestered 
by flies and mosquitoes, and in constant dread of 
leeches. But we forget all such annoyances in the 
joy of these wonders of the tropics, whether they be 
trees or orchids, ferns or butterflies. And to see 
one of these gorgeous insects alight in front of us, 
slowly raise and lower his wings and turn himself 
about almost as if he were showing himself off for our 
especial pleasure, compensates us for every worry 
his fellows in the insect world may cause us. 

As might be expected, in the steamy, dripping 
atmosphere ferns are a predominating feature in the 
vegetation. Not less than two hundred different 
kinds are found. The most noticeable are the tree 
ferns, of which alone there are eight species. Their 
average height is about 20 feet, but plants of 40 and 
50 feet are not uncommon. And with their tall 
trunks and crown of immense graceful fronds 
they form a striking feature in the forest, and in 
the moister valleys where they attain their full 
luxuriance they may be seen in extensive groves as 
well as in little groups. Four kinds of maidenhair, 
always light and graceful and attractive, are found ; 
and of ferns common to Europe, Osmunda regalis, 
the Royal fern of Europe, and the European 
moonwort and alder 's-tongue ferns. Then there 
is a fern which attains to gigantic proportions, 


especially in the cool forests, where its massive 
fronds grow to more than 5 yards in length and 3 in 
breadth, with a spread over all, measuring from tip 
to tip of opposite fronds, of 8 yards. One hand- 
some climbing fern clothes the trunks of tall trees ; 
another which climbs on grasses and the smaller 
shrubs is common ; and another forms almost im- 
penetrable thickets 15 or 20 feet high. Of the 
kinds which grow on rocks and trees the most 
delicately beautiful are the filmy ferns, of which 
there are eight kinds. The Irish filmy is the largest, 
covering the face of large rocks under dense shade, 
its fronds growing to over a foot in length. Many 
polypodiums and aspleniums grow gracefully on the 
rocks and trees during the rainy season. One 
especially elegant polypodium growing on the 
ground has fronds about 6 or 7 feet long, and some- 
times as much as 20 feet, and of proportionate 
width. Another conspicuous fern is the bird's-nest 
fern with its large, massive fronds growing under 
shade on rocks and stems of trees. 

Unless we are fern experts it is impossible for us 
to identify each among so many species. But, at 
any rate, we gather an impression of elegance and 
grace, often of airy lightness, and of wonderful 
variety of size and form. 

From the ferns we look to the rest of the forest, 
and after the first bewilderment at the profusion 
and variety of vegetation we try to fasten on to a 
few individuals or types which we can identify as 
having seen elsewhere in some other part of India 
or in some palm-house in England. We are in the 


still, steamy atmosphere of a hot-house, and we are 
conscious that all round us, growing in luxuriant 
abundance, are rare and beautiful plants of which a 
single specimen would be treasured and treated with 
every fostering care in England. But we sigh to be 
able to recognise these treasures and make contact 
between home and this exceptionally favoured 
region favoured, that is to say, as regards plant 
life. From among the giant trees, the bamboos, 
the palms, the climbers, the shrubs, the flowers, the 
orchids, we look out anxiously for friends or at 
least for acquaintances whom we hope may develop 
into friends as we meet them again and again on 
our journeys through the forest. 

Of the flowers, the orchids are naturally the first 
to attract us. They shine out as real gems in the 
greenery around them. The eye jumps to them at 
once. Here seems to be something as nearly perfect 
in colour, form, and texture as it could possibly be. 
If the orchid is white it is of the purest whiteness, 
and shines chaste and unsullied amidst its dull sur- 
roundings. If it is purple, or pale yellow, or golden- 
yellow, or rose, or violet, or white, the colour has 
always a depth and purity which is deeply satisfying. 
And it seems to be because the waxy texture of 
these orchids is such a perfect medium for the dis- 
play of colour that orchids are so exceptionally 
beautiful. The texture is of the very consistency 
best adapted for revealing the beauty of colour. 
And when we pluck a spray of these choice treasures 
from the forest branch and hold it in the sunlight, 
we feel we are seeing colour almost in perfection. 

The colour and texture are beautiful enough 


in themselves. But an added attraction in these 
orchids is their form the curvature of their sepals 
and petals, and the wonderful little pitchers and 
cups and lips and tongues which an orchid exhibits. 
And the form is no mere geometrical pattern of 
lines and curves. It is obviously an ingenious con- 
trivance devised for some special purpose. That 
purpose we now know to be the attraction of insects, 
who in sucking the orchid's honey will unconsciously 
carry on their wings or backs the flower's pollen to 
fertilise another orchid. Though whether the insect 
in the long centuries by probing at the orchid has 
forced it to adapt itself to it, or whether the flower 
has forced the insect to adapt itself to the flower, 
or w r hether as seems most likely a process of 
mutual adaptation has been going on century by 
century, and the flower and insect have been 
gradually adapting themselves to one another, is 
still a matter of discussion among naturalists. 

We cannot gather an orchid of any kind without 
marvelling at its intricate construction. And when 
we are looking at the orchid in its natural surround- 
ings in the forest itself and see the enormous 
numbers and the immense variety, in size and form 
and habits, of the insects around the orchid, and 
think how the orchid has to select its own particular 
species of insect and cater for that, and the insect 
among all the flowers has to select the particular 
species of orchid ; and how the insect, whether 
butterfly or bee or moth or gnat or ant, or any other 
of the numerous kinds of insect, and the orchid 
have to adapt themselves to each other we see how 
marvellous the mutual adaptation of flower to insect 


and insect to flower must have been. We see how 
the particular species of orchid must have chosen the 
particular species of bee, and the particular species 
of bee that particular species of orchid, and the bee 
and orchid set themselves to adapt themselves to one 
another, the orchid using all the devices of colour, 
scent, sweetness of honey, to attract the insect, and 
gradually shaping itself so that the insect can better 
reach the honey, and the insect lengthening its 
proboscis and otherwise adapting itself so that it can 
better secure what it wants. And we see how per- 
fectly how nearly perfectly the flower is designed 
for its purpose. 

But what is perhaps most remarkable of all about 
an orchid is that this marvel of colour and form and 
of texture of fabric unfolds itself from within a most 
ungainly, unsightly, unlikely-looking tuber. From 
shapeless, colourless tubers, which attach themselves 
to trunks and branches of trees and cling on to rocks, 
there emerge these peerless aristocrats of the flower- 
world, finished, polished, immaculate, and reigning 
supreme through sheer distinction and excellence at 
every point and also because theirs is clearly no 
ephemeral convolvulus-like beauty which will fade 
and vanish away in a twinkling, but is a beauty 
intensely matured, strong and deep and firm. 

Of the 450 species of orchids found in the Sikkim 
Forest, many are very rare. But fortunately the 
rarest are not the most beautiful in colour and form. 
Some very beautiful orchids are also very common. 
The most common are the dendrobiums, of w r hich 
there are about forty species. The finest and best 


known is the Dendrobium nobile. It grows in the 
lower hills and valleys up to 5,000 feet, and also in 
the plains. The flowers vary both in size and shade 
of colour; but in Sikkim the sepals and petals are 
always purple, shading off into white at the base. 
The tip has a central blotch of very deep purple 
surrounded by a broad margin of pale yellow or 
white. This orchid is now very common in English 
hot-houses, so here is one point of contact with the 
tropical forest. 

The JD. densiflorum is equally common and grows 
in much the same region. It flowers in a dense 
cluster on a stalk somewhat after the fashion of a 
hyacinth. The sepals and petals of this beautiful 
species are of a pale yellow, while the lip is of a rich 
orange. One of the most charming of the Sikkim 
dendrobiums has the smell of violets, and the sepals 
and petals are white-tipped with violet, the stem 
being sometimes 2j feet long. Another noteworthy 
dendrobium is the D. pierardi, whose prevailing 
colour is a beautiful rose or pale purple. 

After the dendrobiums the coelogyne are the 
most worth noting. The Cozlogyne cristata is 
common at elevations of from 5,000 to 8,000 feet, 
and flowers during March and April. It has 
numerous large flowers, which are pure white 
throughout, with the exception of the lamellae of 
the lip, which are yellow. It may be seen in flower 
in March in the orchid-house at Kew. In the forest 
it grows in such profusion as to make the trunk of 
a dead tree look as if it w r ere covered with snow. 

The C. humilis is known as the Himalayan 
crocus. It grows like a crocus from a pseudo-bulb 


at elevations from 7,000 to 8,500 feet, and flowers 
during February and March. The flowers are white 
and from 2 to 2j inches in diameter. The lip is 
speckled with purple towards the edge. 

Not so common but larger and handsomer than 
the dendrobiums are the cymbidiums, of which there 
are sixteen different species, usually with long grassy 
leaves and many-flowered drooping racemes with 
large handsome flowers. A very sweet-scented 
species is the Cymbidium eburneum, which is 
common between elevations of 1,000 to 3,000 feet, 
and flowers during March and April. The prevail- 
ing colour of the flowers is an ivory white, but the 
ridge on the lip is a brilliant yellow. This also may 
be seen at Kew in March. 

These are some of the commonest orchids and 
all now grow in England, so that we can begin to 
get a footing in the forest and not feel that it is so 
completely strange to us. And as we ascend higher 
we shall find many more friends among the flowers. 
And to guide us among the trees and flowers we 
fortunately have Sir Joseph Hooker, who in his 
"Himalayan Journals " has described this botanist's 
paradise in loving detail, so we cannot do better 
than follow him. Amid the many plants he 
mentions we can only select a few, but these 
few will at least help to give us some conception of 
the whole and show the range of variation as we 

As we proceed higher up the valley to an altitude 
of about 4,000 feet, European trees and plants begin 
to be intermingled with the tropical vegetation. 
Hornbeams appear, and birch, willow, alder, and 


walnut grow side by side with wild plantains, palms, 
and gigantic bamboos. Brambles, speedwells, for- 
get-me-nots, and nettles grow mixed with figs, 
balsams, peppers, and huge climbing vines. The 
wild English strawberry is found on the ground, 
while above tropical orchids like the dendrobiums 
cover the trunks of the oaks. The bracken and the 
club-moss of our British moors grow associated with 
tree-ferns. And English grow alongside Himalayan 

The valley itself continues of the same 
character deep with its steep sides clothed in 
forest and the path scrambling over spurs, making 
wide detours up side valleys, or scraping along the 
sides of cliffs which stand perpendicularly over the 
raging river below. Only here and there are clear- 
ings in the forest where Lepchas or Nepalese have 
built themselves a few wooden houses and roughly 
cultivated the land. Otherwise we are under the 
same green mantle of forest which extends every- 
where over the mountains ; and though we are now 
piercing straight through the main axis of the 
Himalaya, we seldom catch even a glimpse of the 
snowy heights w^hich must be so near. 

But the vegetation is distinctly changing in 
character as we ascend the most tropical trees and 
plants gradually disappearing, and more and more 
flowers of the temperate zone coming into evidence. 
And as w r e pierce farther into the mountains the 
climate becomes sensibly drier and the forest lighter. 
There is still a heavy enough rainfall to satisfy any 
ordinary plant or human being. But there is not 
the same deluge that descends upon the outer ridges. 


So the forest is not so dense. Frequently in its 
place social grasses clothe the mountain-sides ; and 
yellow violets, primulas, anemones, delphiniums, 
currants, and saxifrages remind us of regions more 
akin to our own. 

Now, too, we have reached the habitat of the 
rhododendrons, which are so peculiarly a glory of 
Sikkim, and it is worth while to pause and take 
special note of them. Out of the thirty species 
which are found in Sikkim, all the most beautiful 
have been introduced chiefly by Sir Joseph 
Hooker into England, and are grown in many 
parks and gardens as well as at Kew. So English 
people can form some idea of what the flowering 
trees of the Sikkim Forest are like. But they must 
multiply by many times the few specimens they see 
in an English park or hot-house, and must realise 
that as cowslips are in a grassy meadow, so are these 
rhododendron trees in the Sikkim Forest. Red, 
mauve, white, or yellow, they grow as great flowers 
among the green giants of the forest and brighten 
it with colour. The separate blossoms of a rhodo- 
dendron tree cannot compare in beauty with the 
individual orchid. There is in them neither the deep 
richness of colour nor wonder of form nor sense of 
deeply matured excellence. The claim of the rhodo- 
dendron to favour is rather in the collective quantity 
and mass of flowers so that by sheer weight of num- 
bers it can produce its effect of colour. In some 
of the upper valleys the mountain slopes are clothed 
in a deep green mantle glowing with bells of scarlet, 
white, or yellow. 

Perhaps the most splendid of these rhodo- 


dendrons is Rhododendron grande or argenteum, 
which grows to a height of from 30 to 40 feet, and 
has waxy bell-shaped flowers of a yellowish-white 
suffused with pink, 2 to 3 inches long and about 
the same across. The scarlet R. arboreum, so 
general in the Himalaya, is common in Sikkim and 
furnishes brilliant patches of colour in the forest. 
And a magnificent species is R. Aucklandii or 
Griffithianum, which has large white flowers tinged 
with pink, of a firm fleshy texture and with a mouth 
5 inches across. It has been called the queen of all 
flowering shrubs. It grows well in Cornwall, and 
among the hybrids from it is the famous Pink Pearl. 

JR. Falconeri, a white-flowered species, is 
eminently characteristic of the genus in habit, 
place of growth and locality, never occurring below 
10,000 feet. In foliage it is incomparably the finest. 
It throws out one or two trunks clean and smooth, 
30 feet or so high, the branches terminated by 
immense leaves, deep green above edged with yellow 
and ruby red-brown below. The creamy white 
flowers are shaded with lilac and are slightly scented. 
They are produced in tightly-packed clusters 9 to 
15 inches across and twenty or more in numbers. 

A peculiar (in that it is of all the species the only 
one that is epiphytal) but much the largest flowered 
species is the R. Dalhousiae. It grows, like the 
orchids, among ferns and moss upon the trunks of 
large trees, especially oaks and magnolias, and 
attains a height of 6 to 8 feet. The flowers are 
three to seven in a head, and are 3| to 5 inches 
long and as much across the mouth, white with an 
occasional tinge of rose and very fragrant. In size, 


colour, and fragrance of the blossoms this is the 
noblest of the genus. It grows out-of-doors in 
Cornwall and in the greenhouse in other parts of 
England as a scraggy bush 10 to 12 feet high. 
R. barbatum is a tree from 40 to 60 feet high, 
producing flowers of a rich scarlet or blood-colour, 
and sometimes puce or rich pink. It is one of the 
most beautiful of the Himalayan rhododendrons, 
and is now very common in England, growing freely 
out-of-doors. Another truly superb plant is R. 
Maddeni, with very handsome pure white flowers 
3 to 4 inches long and as much across the mouth. 
This is now a special favourite in England. It 
grows in large bushes in the open in Cornwall and 
is very sweet-scented. R. virgatum is a beautiful 
delicately white-flowered shrub. And R. campylo- 
carpum displays masses of exquisite pale yellow 
bells of rarest delicacy. 

Besides rhododendrons, ash, walnut, and maple 
become more abundant as we ascend, and at 9,000 
feet larch appears, and there are woods of a spruce 
resembling the Norwegian spruce in general appear- 
ance. Among the plants are wood-sorrel, bramble, 
nut, spiraea, and various other South European and 
North American genera. 

The climate is no longer stifling and the leeches 
have disappeared. We miss many beauties of the 
tropical forest. But, with the vegetation more and 
more resembling what we are accustomed to in 
Europe, we are feeling more at home. The path 
winds through cool and pleasant woods, following 
the varying contour of the mountain-sides. We are 
no longer oppressed by the strangeness of the life 


around us. At almost every turn we come across 
something new yet not wholly unfamiliar. And 
standing out especially in our memory of this region 
will be the sight of a gigantic lily rearing itself ten 
feet high in the forest, and as pure in its perfect 
whiteness as if it had been grown in a garden. It is 
the Lilium giganteum, and it has fourteen flowers 
on a single stalk and each 4j inches long and the 
same across. 

We still love most of all the white violets we 
have as children picked in an English wood, and 
even this great white lily will never supplant them 
in our affections. But the sight of that glorious 
plant rising proudly from amidst the greenery of 
its forest setting .will be for us more than any 
picture. And its being "wild" has the same 
fascination for us that a flower that is "wild," 
and not garden grown, has for a child. In a florist's 
shop we may see lilies even more beautiful than this, 
but the enjoyment \ve get from seeing the florist's 
production bears no comparison whatever with the 
enjoyment we get from seeing this lily in a distant 
Himalayan forest where not so many white men 
ever go. We often have experiences which per- 
ceptibly age us. But this is one of those experiences 
which most certainly make us younger. We are 
once again children finding flowers in a wood. 

As we proceed upward the valley opens out, the 
mountains recede and are less steep. They are also 
less wooded, their slopes become more covered with 
grass, and the river, no longer a raging torrent, 
now meanders in a broad bed. The great peaks are 
somewhere close by, but we do not see the highest, 


and for the Himalaya the scenery is somewhat tame. 
But the number of herbaceous plants is great. A 
complete record of them would include most of the 
common genera of Europe and North America. 
Among them are purple, yellow, pink, and white 
primulas, golden potentillas, gentians of deepest 
azure, delicate anemones, speedwells, fritillaries, 
oxalis, balsams, and ranunculus. One special 
treasure of this part is a great red rose (Rosa 
macrophylla), one of the most beautiful of 
Himalayan plants whose single blossoms are as 
large as the palm of the hand. With these plants 
from the temperate zone are mixed the far outliers 
of the tropical genera orchids, begonias, and 
others whose ascent to these high regions has been 
favoured by the great summer heat and moisture. 

We are now in the region of the primulas for 
which (besides its orchids and rhododendrons) 
Sikkim is famous. Sikkim may indeed be called 
the headquarters of the Indian primroses, and 
many species are found there which appear to occur 
nowhere else. There are from thirty to forty species, 
the majority growing at altitudes from 12,000 to 
15,000 feet, two or three only being found below 
10,000 feet, and two or three as high as 16,000 to 
17,000 feet. The best known is the Primula 
sikkimensis, which grows well in England and 
resembles a gigantic cowslip. It thrills us to see it 
growing in golden masses in the high valleys in wet 
boggy places though the precise colour may be 
better described as lemon-yellow rather than gold. 

The prevailing colour of the primulas is purple, 
but white, yellow, blue, and pink are also found. 


The P. denticulata has purple to bright sapphire 
blue flowers, and great stretches of country are 
almost blue with the lovely heads of this primrose. 
Miles of country can be seen literally covered with 
P. obtusifolia, which has purple flowers and a strong 
metallic smell. P. Kingii is a lovely plant with 
flowers of such a dark claret colour that they are 
almost black. And perhaps the most striking 
primula is P. Elwesiana, with large solitary deflexed 
purple flowers. 

Poppies also are a feature of the Sikkim vegeta- 
tion. Near the huts the people cultivate a majestic 
species near Menconopsis simplicifolia, but it grows 
in dense clusters 2 or 3 feet high. The flowers vary 
in diameter from 5 to 7 inches, and are an intensely 
vivid blue on opening, though they change before 
fading into purple. M. simplicifolia itself is also 
found at altitudes from 12,000 to 15,000 feet a 
clear light blue species of special beauty, growing 
as a single flower on a single stem, and now to be 
seen at both Edinburgh and Kew. Another beauti- 
ful poppy is the M. nepalensis, which grows in the 
central dampest regions of Sikkim at elevations of 
10,000 to 11,000 feet and resembles a miniature 
hollyhock, the flowers being of a pale golden or 
sulphur-yellow, 2 or 3 inches in diameter and 
several on a stalk. 

As Tangu is approached the valley expands into 
broad grassy flats, and here at about 13,000 feet the 
vegetation rapidly diminishes in stature and abund- 
ance , and the change in species is very great . Larch , 
maple, cherry, and spiraea disappear, leaving wil- 
lows, juniper, stunted birch, silver fir, mountain 


ash berberis, currant, honeysuckle, azalea, and 
many rhododendrons. The turfy ground is covered 
with gentians, potentillas, geraniums, and purple 
and yellow meconopsis, delphiniums, orchids, saxi- 
frage, campanulas, ranunculus, anemones, primulas 
(including the magnificent Primula Sikkimensis), 
and three or four species of ferns. The country 
being now so much more open, the valley bottom 
and the mountain-sides glow with purples and yel- 
lows of various shades. Not even here, nor indeed 
anywhere in the Himalaya, do we see that mass and 
glow of colour we find in California, where wide 
sheets of meadow-land are ablaze with the purple of 
the lupins and the gold of the Calif ornian poppy. 
But for the number of varieties of plants these upper 
valleys of the Teesta River can scarcely be excelled. 
As we ascend the mountain-sides above Tangu we 
find them covered with plants of numerous different 
kinds, and even at about 14,000 feet Hooker 
gathered over two hundred plants. 

But now we are nearing the limit of plant life. 
At 17,000 feet the vegetation has ceased to be alpine 
and has become arctic, and the plants nearest the 
snow-line are minute primulas, saxifrages, gentians, 
grasses, sedges, some tufted wormwood, and a dwarf 
rhododendron, the most alpine of wooded plants. 

At the summit of the Donkia Pass Hooker 
found one flowering plant, the Arenaria rupifragia. 
The fescue (Festuca ovina), a little fern (Woodsid), 
and a saussurea ascend very near the summit. A 
pink-coloured woolly saussurea and Delphinium 
glaciale are two of the most lofty plants, and are 
commonly found from 17,500 feet to 18,000 feet. 


Besides some barren mosses several lichens grow on 
the top, as Cladonia vermicularis, the yellow Lecidea 
geographica and the orange L. miniata. 

At 18,300 feet Hooker found on one stone only 
a fine Scottish lichen, a species of gyrophora, the 
" tripe de roche " of Arctic voyagers and the food 
of the Canadian hunters. It is also abundant in the 
Scotch Alps. 

On the summit of Bhomtso, 18,590 feet, the 
only plants were the lichens Lecidea miniata (or 
Parmalia miniata) mentioned above, and borrera. 
The first-named minute lichen is the most arctic, 
antarctic, alpine, and universally diffused in the 
world, and often occurs so abundantly as to colour 
the rocks an orange red. 

The entire range of plant life, from the truly 
tropical to the hardiest arctic, is now complete. As 
we look back from the limit of perpetual snow we 
see the whole great procession in a glance. We 
have come across no African, nor South American, 
nor Australian plants, so we have not seen anything 
like the whole of plant life. But the range from 
the tropic to the arctic has been complete and con- 
tinuous. In no other region could we in so short a 
space as a hundred miles the distance from Bath 
to London see the entire range so fully represented. 

And actually seeing how vast is the range and 
variety of plant life is a very different thing from 
knowing that it exists ; seeing the flowers in the 
flesh is altogether different from only reading de- 
scriptions of them ; and seeing them in masses and 
in their natural surroundings affects us quite dif- 


ferently from seeing only a few in a garden or in a 
hot-house. Here on the spot we feel close in touch 
with Nature's own heart. We see Nature's pro- 
ductions springing up fresh and new straight from 
the very fountain source. We have the joy of being 
able to stretch out a hand and pick a flower direct 
from its own surroundings, and to fondle it, 
examine it all round, admire its colour, form, and 
texture, compare its beauty with the beauty of 
other flowers and settle wherein its special beauty 
lies. We shall never be able to give to even the 
most exquisite orchid or the most perfect lily the 
same affection that we give to the primroses and 
violets of our native land. But we may be sure that 
our Naturalist- Artist, w r hen he gathers together in 
his mind the impressions which have been made 
upon him by his passage through the tropical forests 
to the alpine uplands and thence to the limit of per- 
petual snow, will find that his sense of the variety 
of beauty to be found in trees and leaves, in ferns 
and flowers, has immeasurably expanded. He will 
have acquired a firmer grasp of plant life as a whole. 
He will have a truer measure of the beauty in it. 
And irresistibly, but most willingly, he will have 
been more closely drawn to Nature's heart. 



So far we have paid attention almost exclusively to 
the plant life. But all through Sikkim the insect 
life presses itself just as insistently on our notice. 
In the tropical portion it is unbelievably abundant 
and varied. It swarms about us and is ever present. 
And much of it is as beautiful as the flowers. For 
sheer attractiveness the butterflies are as compelling 
as the orchids. Mosquitoes, gnats, flies, leeches, 
every torment there is. But we forgive everything 
for the chance of being able to see alive and in the 
full glory of their colouring these brilliant gems of 
the insect world which we can in places view in hun- 
dreds and thousands at a time and in extraordinary 
variety, for in this little country more than six 
hundred species are found about ten times as 
many as are met with in England. Moreover, 
there is no season when they are wholly absent, for 
in the hot valleys they may be seen all the year 
round, though naturally there are more in the 
summer than in the winter. 

If it were not for other attractions we would like 
to concentrate our attention on these beautiful 
creatures alone. For they fascinate us by the 
daring of their colours, by their bold designs, by the 
way in which they blend the colours with one an- 


other, and by the extreme delicacy and chasteness 
of both colour and design. We are reluctant to 
take the life of a single one of the thousands we see, 
but yet we are itching, too, to lay hold of one after 
another as it sails into sight displaying some fresh 
beauty. We want to handle it as we would a 
flower, turn it about and examine it from every 
point of view till not a shade or aspect of its beauty 
has escaped us. In the presence of these brilliant 
butterflies we are children once more. We want 
to have them in our hands and feel that they are in 
our possession. It is tantalising merely to view 
them from a distance. We want to enjoy their 
beauty to the full. 

These butterflies of Sikkim are such complete 
strangers to us we do not even know their names. 
From the " Gazetteer," however, we learn that the 
most beautiful of them are the papilios, of which 
alone there are no less than forty-two species. And 
three of these namely, the Teinophalus imperialis 
(which occurs on Tiger Hill above Darjiling) and 
two ornithopteras, or bird-butterflies are among 
the most splendid of all butterflies. The former is 
green on the upper side with yellow spots on the 
hind- wing, and the long tails are tipped with yellow. 
The two bird-butterflies are common in the low 
valleys from May to October. They are truly 
magnificent insects, measuring from 6 to 8 inches 
across. Their fore- wings are wholly of a velvety 
black and the hind-wing golden yellow scolloped 
with black. 

Of the well-known green species of papilio, with 
longish tails and blue or green spots on the hind- 


wing, there are four species, of which one is Euro- 
pean. Some have semi-transparent wings of a lace- 
like pattern, with long slender tails to the hind- 
wings, and are of a very elegant shape. 

A most gorgeously-coloured butterfly is the 
Thaumantis diores, black with large spots (which 
cover a great part of both fore and hind wings) of a 
brilliant metallic, changeable blue. It measures 
4f inches across the outspread wings. It avoids the 
direct sunlight and dodges about among the scrub 
growing under the deep shade of tall trees in the 
hottest and moistest valleys. 

One of the most lovely butterflies in the world 
is the Stichophthalma camadeva, which is one of the 
largest of the Sikkim butterflies, being from 5 to 6j 
inches in expanse. It is more soberly coloured on 
the upper side than the last-named, being chiefly 
white and brown, but the underside is more beauti- 
ful, having a row of five red ocelli with black irides 
on each wing and other pretty markings. 

The lycoenides, or " blues," are represented by 
no less than 154 species, several of them of sur- 
passing beauty. Many are marked with changeable 
metallic hues on the upper side of the fore-wing : 
some violet, some with green, and some with golden 
bronze. The most lovely of all is the Ilerea brahma, 
of which the colouring of the upper side of the male 
is unique. 

Then there is the curious leaf -butterfly, which 
has a marvellous resemblance to a dead leaf with its 
wings folded over the back and showing the under- 
side only, the leaf -stalk veins being excellently 
mimicked. But when flying about its upper side, 


which is a deep violet-blue with a conspicuous yel- 
lowish bar across the fore-wing, is exposed, and 
the butterfly is then most beautiful. I have seen 
many of these lovely butterflies flying about in the 
Teesta Valley, glistening in the dappled light of the 
forest, and then settle on a branch; and unless I 
had actually seen them alight, I should never have 
known them from leaves. 

The moths, though naturally not as beautiful as 
the butterflies, are far more numerous, there being 
something like two thousand species. Several of 
them are the largest of the insect race. And one 
of them, the famous atlas moth, is sometimes nearly 
a foot across. Next in size come several species of 
the genus Actias, of which selene is the most com- 
mon. It is of a pale green colour with a pinkish; 
spot, and has long slender tails. It measures about 
8 inches across the fore- wings, and nearly as much 
from shoulder to the tip of the tail. 

Other insects numerously represented in Sikkim 
are beetles, bugs, grasshoppers, praying insects, 
walking-stick insects, dragon-flies, ants, lantern- 
flies, cicadse, etc. 

Plant life and insect life are abundant enough, 
but of birds there seem to be comparatively few. 
As we travel through the forest we do not notice 
many of them, and we do not hear many. We do 
not everywhere find great flocks of birds as we see 
swarms of insects. And we do not find the forest 
resounding with the songs of birds as it does with 


the hum and crackle of insects. In this respect we 
are disappointed. 

But the birds of Sikkim, if few in number, are 
great in variety. Birds feed on fruits, berries, 
seeds, insects, grubs, caterpillars, small animals, and 
even little birds. Some birds like a still, hot, damp 
climate. Other birds like a cold, dry climate. 
Some birds like the shade and quiet and protection 
of the forest. Others like the open and the sun- 
shine. Some birds find their food in the water, 
others on the land. And the Sikkim Himalaya, 
from the plains to the mountains, provides such a 
rich variety of plant and insect life, such a variety 
of climate and of country, and so plentiful a supply 
of water, that birds of the widest difference of 
requirements can here be provided with their needs. 

Consequently birds of numerous different species 
make Sikkim their habitat, either permanently or for 
certain seasons of the year. And Gammie, who has 
specially studied the natural history of Sikkim, says 
in the " Sikkim Gazetteer " that in no part of the 
world of an equal area are birds more profusely 
represented in species. The birds may not be so 
numerous as in other parts, but they are more 
varied. Between five and six hundred species are 
represented, varying from the great vulture known 
as the lammergeyer, which is 9j feet across the out- 
stretched w r ing, down to the tiny flower-pecker, 
barely exceeding 3 inches from the end of its beak 
to the tip of its tail. 

Of the birds found in the forest itself, the honey- 
suckers or sun-birds are perhaps the most beautiful. 
There are no gorgeous birds of paradise, and even 


resplendent parrots are not very numerous. But 
these little sun-birds glitter like jewels among the 
leafy foliage, and the lustrous metallic hues of dif- 
ferent shades with which they are richly coloured on 
the head and long tail-feathers change and flash in 
the sunlight with every slightest movement. 

Not all so brilliant in colour but very delightful 
to watch are the fly-catchers. Of these there are 
no less than twenty-six species, the most remark- 
able being the fairy blue-chat, which is brilliantly 
marked with different shades of glistening blue, and 
another which is strikingly coloured in almost uni- 
form verditer blue. In the very lowest valleys is 
found the beautiful paradise fly-catcher, with a long- 
pointed black crest, the rest of the plumage white 
with black shafts and the tail 1 4 inches in length . The 
quickness and agility this lovely bird displays as it 
darts and twists and turns in the pursuit of butter- 
flies in their uneven dodging flight is one of the 
marvels of forest life. 

Game-birds are not abundant, but four species 
of pheasant are found, of which the largest and 
handsomest is the moonal, bronze-green glossed 
with gold and with a tail of cinnamon red. Sports- 
men in the Himalaya are familiar with the sight of 
this radiantly-coloured bird swishing down the 
mountain-side with apparently the speed and almost 
the brilliancy of a flash of lightning. Not so hand- 
some as the moonal, being small and greyish in 
colour on the back, is the blood-pheasant, remark- 
able for its blood-red streaks on the breast and its 
blood-red under-tail-coverts. 

Bulbuls are largely represented and may be seen 


in large flocks among the scrub delightful, homely 
little birds with bright and cheery ways which 
specially attract us. Not very common, but to be 
found in the lower part of the valley, is the beauti- 
ful fairy bluebird, a large bird 10 inches in length 
with a glistening cobalt-blue upper part and velvet 
black beneath. The European cuckoo may be 
heard all day long in the season from about 3,500 
feet upwards. And about a dozen other cuckoos 
visit Sikkim, of which by far the prettiest is the 
emerald cuckoo, a small bird not much more than 
6 inches long, of a brilliant emerald green with 
golden sheen, and below white barred with shining 
green. Kingfishers are not numerous, as fish are 
scarce. But there are four species, of which the 
prettiest is a lovely little creature about 5 inches 
long, coloured with rufous, white, and different 
shades of blue and violet. 

These are only a few of the most striking birds ; 
but to give an idea of the variety of other birds 
which may be found in Sikkim, many of which are 
hardly less beautiful than those above described, we 
may learn from Gammie that among the birds of 
prey there are eleven eagles ; the peregrine falcon, a 
little pigmy falcon, and five other falcons ; a big 
brown wood-owl, 2 feet in length, a pigmy owlet 
measuring only 6 inches, and nine other owls ; 
and six kites ; among the game-birds, besides 
pheasants, three quails, two hill-partridges, a 
jungle-fowl, woodcock, a snow-cock, and a snow- 
partridge ; among other classes of birds, nine or 
ten species of pigeons and doves; the European 
raven and a jungle crow ; one jay and several mag- 


pies ; two hornbills, one of which is 4 feet in length ; 
the common and the Nepal swallow ; about thirty 
species of finches, among them being three bull- 
finches and eight rose-finches ; three or four larks ; 
numerous and varied tits ; wagtails ; five species of 
parrots ; eight or nine species of wren ; thrushes of 
a dozen species ; ten species of robin ; and, lastly, 
many species of waders such as florekin, cranes, 
plovers, snipe, sandpipers, coots, water-hen, storks, 
heron, cormorants, terns, divers, and ducks. 

Reptiles are not commonly accounted among the 
beauties of Nature ; but they must not be lost sight 
of in reviewing the life of the forest. The largest 
is the python, whose usual length is 12 feet, though 
individuals of 16 to 20 feet are not very rare. A 
very beautiful snake found in the cool forests is 
green with a broad black band on each side of the 
hinder half of the body and tail, the green scales 
being margined with black. Another snake of the 
same length is a handsome green whip-snake, grace- 
ful in its movements, but ferocious and aggressive 
in its habits, although quite harmless. The 
ordinary cobra is not uncommon. The giant cobra 
is also found in the lower valleys, and grows to a 
length of 12 or 13 feet. Four species of pit vipers 
are found. The krait occurs, but is not common. 
Altogether there are nine species of venomous 
snakes and thirty species of non-venomous snakes 
found in Sikkim. 

Of lizards there are ten species. One is popu- 
larly known as the chameleon on account of its 
rather showy colours, but does not really belong to 


that family. And a beautiful grass-snake, which, 
as it is limbless, is often mistaken for a tree-snake, 
is also of the lizard genus. 

Of frogs and toads there are about sixteen 
species. Among them are several prettily-coloured 
tree-frogs. Several of the species are recognised by 
their call. 

Of mammals about eighty-one species are found. 
They include three monkeys, eight of the cat tribe, 
two civet cats, one tree cat, two mongooses, two of 
the dog tribe, five pole-cats and weasels, one ferret- 
badger, three otters, one cat-bear, two bears, one 
tree-shrew, one mole, six shrews, two water-shrews, 
twelve bats, four squirrels, two marmots, eight rats 
and mice, one vole, one porcupine, four deer, two 
forest-goats, one goat, one sheep, and one ant-eater. 

The common monkey of India, the Bengal mon- 
key, is found in large companies at low elevations. 
The Himalayan monkey is abundant from 3,000 to 
6,000 feet ; and the Himalayan langur frequents the 
zone from 7,000 to 12,000 feet. 

The tiger inhabits the Terai at the foot of the 
mountains, but is only an occasional visitor to 
Sikkim proper. But the leopard and the clouded 
leopard are permanent residents and fairly common. 
This last is of a most beautiful mottled colouring. 
Another leopard is the snow-leopard, which in- 
habits high altitudes only. The marbled-cat is a 
miniature edition of the clouded leopard, and the 
leopard-cat of the common leopard. The large 
Indian civet-cat is not uncommon, but the spotted 
tiger-civet, a very beautiful and active creature, is 


rare. The jackal is not uncommon, and there is at 
least one species of wild-dog. These dogs hunt in 
packs and kill wild-pig, deer, goats, etc. A very 
peculiar and interesting animal is the cat-bear, 
which has the head and arms of a minute bear and 
the tail of a cat. The brown bear occurs at high 
altitudes, and the Himalayan black bear is common 
lower down. The black hill squirrel is a large hand- 
some animal of the lower forests, and a very hand- 
some flying squirrel inhabits the forests between 
5,000 and 10,000 feet. 

The great Sikkim stag is not found in Sikkim 
proper, but inhabits the Chumbi Valley. The 
sambhar stag is abundant. The commonest of the 
deer tribe is the khakar, or barking deer. It is, 
says Hodgson, unmatched for flexibility and power 
of creeping through tangled underwood. The musk 
deer remains at high elevations. 

In addition to the above, elephants come up 
from the forests in the plains, and in these plain 
forests are found (besides tigers and boars) rhino- 
ceros, bison, and buffalo. 

This has been a long enumeration of the animal 
life, in its many branches, which is found in the forest. 
The mere cataloguing of it is sufficient to show the 
extent and variety of insect, bird, reptile, and 
mammal life which the forest contains. But it is 
with the beauty of this animal life, rather than with 
its extent and variety, that we are concerned. And 
if the Artist is to see its full beauty, he must see it 
with the eyes of the naturalist and sportsman men 
whose eyes are trained to observe in minutest detail 


the form and colour and character of each animal, 
bird, or insect, and who know something of the 
life each has to lead, and the conditions in which it 
is placed. More sportsmen than naturalists, and 
more naturalists than artists, observe these and other 
animals in their natural surroundings. But, nowa- 
days, at least photographers and cinematographers 
are going into the wilds to portray them. And 
perhaps naturalist-artists will arise who, every bit as 
keen as sportsmen now are to get to close quarters 
with game animals, will want to get into positions 
from which they will be able carefully to observe 
animals of all kinds and take note of every character- 
istic. These artists will have to be fully as alert as 
the sportsmen, and be able on the instant, and from 
a fleeting glimpse, to note the lines and shades and 
character of the animal. But, if they do this, they 
will, in all probability, bring back more lasting and 
deeper impressions of the animals than the sports- 
man with all his keen observation ever receives 
and they will enjoy a greater pleasure. An artist, 
who from observing an animal in its own haunts, 
and from the sketches and notes he made there, 
could paint a picture of it in its own surroundings, 
would assuredly derive more pleasure from his enter- 
prise than the sportsman who simply brought back 
the animal's head. In addition he w r ould have 
enabled others to share his enjoyment with him. 
There is a great field here for the painter ; and many 
would welcome a change from the same old cows 
and sheep tamely grazing in a meadow, which is all 
that artists usually present to us of animal life. 

Among the most conspicuous animals met with 


are the elephant, the bison, the buffalo, and the 
rhinoceros. And it would be hard to discover 
beauty in any of these. As we see the rhinoceros, 
for example, in the Zoological Gardens nothing 
could be more ugly. Yet we should not despair of 
finding beauty even in a rhinoceros if we could study 
him in his natural surroundings and understand all 
the circumstances of his life. If we observed him 
and his habits and habitat with the knowledge of the 
naturalist and the keenness of the sportsman, we 
might find that in his form and colour he does in his 
own peculiar fashion fitly express the purpose of his 
being. And whatever adequately expresses a 
definite purpose is beautiful. Where a dainty ante- 
lope would be altogether out of place, the ponderous 
rhinoceros may be completely in his element. 
Where a tender-skinned horse would be driven mad 
by insects, the thick-skinned beast passes the time 
untroubled. In a drawing-room a daintily-dressed 
lady is a vision of loveliness. In a ploughed field she 
would look ridiculous. In a drawing-room a peasant 
would look uncouth. In a field, as Millet has shown 
us, he possesses a beauty, dignified and touching. 
It is not impossible, therefore, that an artist who 
had the opportunity of entering into the life of a 
rhinoceros, as Millet had of entering into the life of 
a peasant, might discover beauty even in that 
monstrosity. This, however, I allow is an extreme 

In a less extreme case beauty has already been dis- 
covered . The bison does not at first sight strike us as 
a beautiful animal. Yet Mr. Stebbing, the naturalist- 
sportsman, says that, as he caught sight of one after 


a long stalk, and watched it with palpitating heart, 
he was fascinated by the grand sight 18 hands of 
coal-black beauty shining like satin in the light 
filtering through the branches of the trees. 

When we move on from the bison to the stag 
the beauty is evident enough. A stag carries him- 
self right royally, and has a rugged, majestic beauty 
all his own. There are few more beautiful sights in 
the animal world than that of a lordly stag standing 
tense with preparedness to turn swiftly, and, on the 
instant, bound away in any direction. 

Not majestic like the great deer, but of a more 
airy grace and daintiness, are the smaller deer and 
antelope. The lightness of their tread, their supple- 
ness of movement, and their spring and litheness, 
fill us with delight. 

We now come to the crown of the animal king- 
dom man. And in the Sikkim Himalaya are to 
be found men of all the stages of civilisation from 
the most primitive to the most advanced. Inhabit- 
ing the forests at the foot of the mountains are cer- 
tain jungle peoples of extreme interest simply by 
reason of their primitiveness. They represent the 
very early stages of man, and in observing them in 
their own haunts, we shall understand something of 
the immensity and the delicacy of man's task in 
gaining his ascendancy in the animal world and 
acquiring a greater mastery over his surroundings. 

In these forests teeming with animal life of all 
kinds man had to hold his own against dangerous 
and stronger animals, and to supply himself with 
food in the face of many rivals. He had to be as 


alert as the sharpest-witted and as cunning as the 
most crafty, and to have physical fitness and endur- 
ance to stand the strain of incessant rivalry. This 
is what these jungle people have. Their alertness, 
their capacity to glide through the forest almost as 
stealthily as an animal, their keenness of sight, their 
acute sense of hearing, their knowledge of jungle 
lore and of the habits of animals, and their ability to 
stand long and hard physical strain, are the envy of 
us civilised men when we find ourselves among 
them. Particularly is this shown when tracking. 
They will note the slightest indication of the pas- 
sage of the animal they are after the faintest foot- 
print, a stone overturned and showing the moisture 
on its under surface, a broken twig, a bitten leaf, 
the bark rubbed and they will be able to judge 
from the exact appearance of these signs how long 
it is since the animal made them. They will, too, 
detect sounds which we civilised men would cer- 
tainly never hear, and from a note of alarm in these 
sounds, or from excitement among birds, infer the 
presence of a dangerous animal. 

When seen outside the forests these jungle men 
look wild and unkempt, but seen in their natural 
surroundings and compared there with the white 
man, they have a Beauty which is wanting in the 
white man. In these surroundings they have a 
dignity and composure and assurance which the 
European lacks. They are on their own ground, 
and there they are beautiful. 

And these primitive men are worthy of being 
painted by the very greatest of painters, and of 
having their praises sung by the very first of poets. 


For it is they and their like who, with only such 
weapons as the forest affords and their own in- 
genuity devised, won the way through for us civilised 
men, won the battle against the fierce and much 
more powerful beasts around them, and by great 
daring and through sheer skill, courage, and endur- 
ance led the way to the light. It was a marvellous 
feat. For all the privileges and immunities which 
we men of to-day enjoy we have to thank these 
primitive forest men, and our gratitude could never 
be too great. They are deserving of the closest 
attention and the warmest appreciation. 

Not many of these really primitive peoples are 
nowadays left in the jungles. But the tea-gardens 
have attracted a primitive people, the Santals, who 
are typical of the true Dravidian stock of India a 
jolly, cheerful, easy-going, and, on the whole, 
law-abiding, truthful, and honest people who 
love a roaming life, with plenty of hunting and 

The Lepchas of Sikkim have risen above the 
first primitive stage. They clothe themselves well 
and dwell in well-built houses. They do not possess 
for us the same essential interest as belongs to truly 
primitive people. But on account of their intimate 
knowledge of the forest and its denizens, and by 
reason also of their being a remarkably simple, 
gentle, and likeable people, they have an unusual 
attraction for travellers. Hooker, who was one of 
the first to live among them, and Claude White, 
who lived among them for many years, both write 
of them in affectionate terms. They are child-like 
and engaging, good-humoured, cheery and amiable, 


free and unrestrained. They have, too, a reputa- 
tion for honesty and truthfulness. 

More vigorous, capable, and virile than the 
Lepchas are the Nepalese, who, migrating from 
Nepal, are found in great numbers in this region. 
They are more given to agriculture than the 
Lepchas, and are thrifty, industrious, and resource- 
ful. Though excitable and aggressive, they are also 

Less numerous but prominent inhabitants of this 
region are the Bhutias, who consist of four classes ; 
Bhutias, who are a mixed race of Tibetans and 
Lepchas ; Sherpa Bhutias, who come from the east 
of Nepal, the word sher merely meaning "east"; 
the Drukpa or Dharma Bhutias, whose home is 
Bhutan ; and the Tibetan Bhutias from Tibet. 
They are strong, sturdy men, merry and cheerful. 

These Lepchas, Nepalese, and Bhutias are all 
of Mongolian origin, and therefore have the dis- 
tinctively Mongolian appearance. But besides 
these, in Darjiling and on the tea-gardens are to be 
found Bengali clerks, Marwari merchants from 
Rajputana, Punjabi traders, Hindustani mechanics, 
and Chinese carpenters. And in addition to all 
these are British Government officials, tea-planters, 
and a continual stream of visitors from all parts of 
Europe and America, who come to Darjiling to 
view the snowy range. 

So that in this small region may be found repre- 
sentatives of every grade of civilisation and a great 
variety of types. And what an amount of Beauty 
as distinct from mere prettiness there is to dis- 
cover in even the rough local people may be seen 



from the pictures of the Russian painter Verest- 
chagin, engravings from which are given in his 
autobiographical sketches entitled " Vassili Verest- 
chagin." This great painter evidently succeeded 
in getting inside the wild peoples he loved ; and his 
pictures reveal to us beauties we might without them 
never have known. In these people's gait, their 
attitudes, their grouping, as well as in their features, 
he was able to discern the hardihood, the patience, 
the impetuosity, the gentleness of their character, 
and portray it for us. 

Putting aside the obvious differences between us 
and them, we are able to detect our fundamental 
identity of nature, have a fellow-feeling with them, 
recognise sameness between us and so see their 



THE Artist has now to stand back and view the forest 
as a whole. And he must test his view in the light 
of reason bring Truth to bear upon Beauty. The 
forest with its multitudinous and varied life, ranging 
from simplest to most cultured man, is an epitome 
of Nature so far as she is manifested on this planet. 
And he will from this epitome try to get a view of 
the real character of Nature. As he takes stock of 
the impressions which have been made upon him, he 
will have to form a conclusion of absolutely funda- 
mental importance for the enjoyment of Natural 

Men's hearts instinctively go out to Nature, and 
in consequence they see Beauty in her. As children 
they love flowers and love animals. And the most 
primitive races have the same feeling though they 
are just as callous in their treatment of animals as 
children are in their treatment of one another. In 
the more cultured races this instinctive love of 
Nature and appreciation of Natural Beauty has 
enormously developed. But if men ever came to 
hold the idea as so many since the doctrine of the 
survival of the fittest has come into prominence are 
inclined to do that Nature is at heart cold and 
hard, and recks nothing of human joys and sorrows, 



then love of Nature would fade away from men's 
hearts. Being out of sympathy and repelled from 
entering into deep communion with her, men 
would never again see Beauty in her. The enjoy- 
ment of Natural Beauty would pass from them 
for ever. 

So the Artist will try to get at the true Heart of 
Nature. If the Naturalist part of him tells him that 
at bottom Nature is merciless and unrelenting, 
utterly regardless of the things of most worth in 
life ; that Nature is indeed * ' red in tooth and 
claw ' ' ; that all she cares for all she selects as the 
fittest to survive are the merely strongest, the 
most pushing and aggressive, the individuals who 
will simply trample down their neighbours in order 
that they themselves may " survive " ; or if, again, 
the Naturalist convinces him that all he has seen in 
the forest has come about by pure chance ; that it is 
by a mere fluke that we find orchids and not mush- 
rooms, men and not monkeys, at the head of plant 
and animal life ; and that Nature herself is wholly 
indifferent as to which of the two establishes its pre- 
eminence then he will feel the chill upon his soul, 
he will shrivel up within himself, the very fountain- 
spring of Beauty will be frozen up, and never again 
will he see Beauty in any single one of Nature's 

But if, on the other hand, the Naturalist is able 
to convince the Artist that in spite of the very 
evident struggle for existence Nature does not care 
twopence whether the " fittest " survive or not so 
long as what is best in the end prevails ; that far from 
things coming about by mere chance Nature has a 


distinct end in view, and that end the accomplish- 
ment of what he himself most prizes, then the 
heart of the Artist will warm to the heart of Nature 
with a fervour it had never known before ; his heart 
will throb with her heart, and every beauty he has 
seen in plain or mountain, in flower, bird, or man, 
will be a hundredfold increased. 

Which of these two views of Nature, so far as 
Nature can be judged from what we see of her on 
this planet, is correct, he has now to determine. 
The profound mystery which everywhere prevails in 
the forest and which exerts such a compelling spell 
upon us he will want to probe to the bottom. He 
will not be content with the outward prettiness of 
butterfly and orchid, or with the mere profusion and 
variety of life, or with the colossal size of animals 
and trees. He will want to burrow down and get at 
the very root and mainspring of this forest life. He 
will want to reach the very Heart of Nature here 
manifested in such manifold variety. He will want 
to arrive at the inner significance of all this variety of 
life. Then only will he understand Nature and be 
able to decide whether Nature is cruel and therefore 
to be feared, or kind and gracious and therefore to 

Now, when we go into the forest and look into it 
in detail, the profusion is even greater than we ex- 
pected. In this damp tropical region where there is 
ample heat and moisture, plant life comes springing 
out of the earth with a prolificness which seems inex- 
haustible. And when plant life is abundant, animal 
and insect life is abundant also. So profuse, indeed, 


is the output of living things that it seems simply 
wasteful. A single tree may produce thousands of 
flowers. Each flower may have dozens of seeds. 
The tree may go on flowering for a hundred or two 
hundred years. So a single tree may produce mil- 
lions of seeds, each capable of growing into a forest 
giant like its parent. 

With insect life the same profusion of life is evi- 
dent. A single moth or butterfly lays thousands of 
eggs. Mosquitoes, flies, gnats, midges, leeches 
swarm in myriads upon myriads. 

The abundance and superabundance of life is the 
first outstanding though it will prove not the most 
important impression made upon us by a contem- 
plation of the forest as a whole. 

Scarcely less striking than the abundance is the 
variety. Life does not spring up from the earth in 
forms as alike one another as two peas. Each indi- 
vidual plant or animal, however small, however 
simple, has its own distinctive characteristics. There 
is variety and variation everywhere. Variety in 
form, variety in colour, variety in size, variety in 
character and habit. In size there is the difference 
between the huge terminalia towering up 200 feet 
high and the tiny little potentilla ; between the atlas 
moth 12 inches in spread and the hardly discernible 
midges ; between the elephant, massive enough to 
trample its way through the densest forest, and the 
humble little mouse peeping out of its hole in the 
ground. In colour the difference ranges from the 
light blue of the forget-me-not to the deep blue of 
the gentian ; from the delicate pink of the dianthus 


to the deep crimson of the rhododendron ; from the 
brilliant hues of the orchids to the dull browns and 
greens of inconspicuous tree flowers ; from the vivid 
light greens, yellows, and reds of the young leaves 
of these tropical forests to the greyer green of their 
maturity ; from the smiting reds and blues of the 
most gaudy butterflies, beetles, and dragon-flies to 
the modest browns of night-flying moths ; from the 
gorgeous colours of the parrots to the familiar black 
of crows ; from the yellow-striped tiger to the earth- 
coloured hare ; from the dark-skinned aborigine to 
the yellow-skinned Mongolian and the fair Euro- 
pean. Similarly do plants and animals vary in 
form : from the straight pines and palms to the 
spreading, umbrageous oaks and laurels ; from up- 
standing lilies to parasitical orchids ; from monstrous 
spiky beetles to symmetrical dragon-flies ; from un- 
gainly rhinoceros to graceful antelope ; from short, 
sturdy Bhutias to tall, slim Hindustanis. Likewise 
in character individuals are as different as the 
strong, firm tree standing open-faced, four-square 
to all the world and the creeping, insinuating para- 
site ; as the intelligent, industrious ant and the 
clumsy, plodding beetle ; as the plucky boar and the 
timid hare ; as the rough forest tribesman and the 
cultured Bengali. 

Lastly, there is variety among not only the dif- 
ferent species of plants, animals, insects, etc., but 
also the individuals of the same species. We our- 
selves know the differences there are between one 
man and another, and as far as that goes between 
ourselves on one day and ourselves on the next. 
Each plant and still more each animal has its 


own unique individuality. Every cavalry officer, 
every shepherd, every dog-owner, every pigeon- 
fancier knows that each horse, sheep, dog, pigeon 
has its own individuality and is distinctly different 
from all others of its kind. And so does every 
gardener know that each rose, each tulip, each 
pansy is different from all other roses, tulips, and 
pansies. It is the same in the forest. Hardly two 
trees or plants of the same species develop their 
young leaves, open their flowers, ripen their seeds, 
and drop their leaves at the same tune. Apart 
from the size of the flower and leaf there are differ- 
ences in colour, shape, and marking. Each in 
appearance and in habit has an individuality of its 

Such is the variety in the abundant life of the 
forest that no two individuals, no two blades of 
grass, or no two leaves are in every detail precisely 
alike. And this is the second outstanding impres- 
sion we receive. 

The abundance and variety of life are evident 
enough. Not so evident but equally noteworthy is 
the intensity. In the still forest one of the giant 
trees looks utterly impassive and immobile. It 
stands there calm and unmoved. Not a leaf stirs. 
Yet the whole and every minutest part of it is in- 
stinct with intensest life. It is made up of count- 
less microscopic cells in unceasing activity. Highly 
sensitive and mobile cells form the root-tips and 
insinuate their way into every crevice in search of 
food for the tree, rejecting what is unpalatable and 
forwarding what is useful for building up and sus- 


taining the monarch. Other cells take in necessary 
food from the air. Others build up the trunk and 
its protective bark. Others, and most important 
of all, go to make up the flowers of the tree and the 
organs of reproduction which enable the tree to 
propagate its kind. 

All this activity of the separate cells and com- 
binations of cells is taking place. And in addition 
there is that activity of them all in their together- 
ness, that activity which keeps the cells together, 
and which if relaxed for a moment would mean that 
the cells would all collapse as the grains of dust in 
an eddying dust-devil at a street corner collapse 
once the gust of wind which stirred them and keeps 
them together drops away. What must be the 
intensity of life required to develop the tree from 
the seed and to rear that giant straight up from the 
level soil 200 feet into the air and maintain it there 
two hundred years, we can only imagine ; for to 
outward appearance the tree is quite impassive. It 
does not move a muscle of its face to reveal the 
intensity of life within. 

The tree is characteristic of every living thing. 
Every plant and every animal, however seemingly 
sluggish, is working to fulfil its life, to nourish itself, 
to reproduce its kind. 

Now, the amount of air and sunshine for plants 
may be practically unlimited, but air and sunshine 
are not all that plants require. They want soil and 
moisture as well. And the standing-room for 
plants is strictly limited. The forest stretches away 
up to the snows ; but there it stops. Necessarily, 


therefore, there must be the keenest and most 
incessant struggle among the plants for standing- 
room. Only a comparatively few can be accom- 
modated. The rest cannot survive. And as the 
number of plants which can survive is thus limited, 
the number of animals is limited also, for animals 
are dependent on plants. Plants, therefore, in 
spite of their eminently pacific appearance are 
engaged in a fierce struggle with one another for 
standing-room. And animals are likewise engaged 
in a struggle among themselves for the plants. 

There is competition among the roots of the 
different individual plants for the food and water 
of the soil. And there is competition among the 
leaves for the sunlight. Each plant is pushing its 
roots downwards and spreading outward for more 
food and to root itself more firmly. Each is strain- 
ing upward to receive more sunlight. Each is 
struggling with its fellows for room and means to 
develop its life. Competitors in hundreds and 
thousands are forced to withdraw and succumb. 
And even when a forest giant has defeated all com- 
petitors and reached its full maturity it has still to 
maintain the struggle and hold its own continually 
against other individuals whose roots are reaching 
out below and whose branches are spreading out 
above ; against climbers who would smother it ; and 
against parasites who would suck its very life-blood. 
The battle, moreover, is often not so much between 
one species and another species as between indi- 
viduals of the same species. And it is a war which 
continues through life. 


The struggle for existence among the plants and 
trees is keen beyond imagination. And the struggle 
among the insects, birds and beasts, and man for 
the plants and products of the trees is no less severe. 
So now our impression is that of an abundant, 
varied and intense life in which the individuals are 
perpetually struggling with one another for bare 

Under these stringent and stressful conditions 
does each living being come into the world. He 
has to battle his way through or succumb. Plants 
as well as men, and men as well as plants. So, as 
we look into the structure of animals and plants, 
we are not surprised to find that in order to cope 
with their surroundings they have developed organs 
which are specially adapted to enable them to secure 
the needful food, to hold their own against the com- 
petition of their neighbours, to meet the exigencies 
of their surroundings, and to pursue their own life 
to the full extent of its possibilities. Even plants 
are like sentient beings in this respect. The 
sensitive tips of their roots are organs admirably 
adapted for feeling their way through the soil and 
selecting from its constituents w r hat will best 
nourish the plant. The leaves opening out to 
the air and sunshine are other organs adapted 
for gathering in nourishment. And thorns and 
poisonous juices are means adapted to fend off 
destructive neighbours. The eyes and ears in 
animals are other instances of organs which 
enable them to see what will serve them as food, 
or to hear what may be possible enemies, and to 


make use of what will help them to the proper 
fulfilment of their life. 

We see each individual plant and animal striving 
to the best of his ability to adjust himself to the con- 
ditions in which he finds himself, trying to adapt 
himself to his surroundings to his physical sur- 
roundings, such as the climate and soil, and to his 
social surroundings, consisting of his plant and 
animal neighbours and rivals. We shall probably 
notice, too, that he seems to be driven by some 
inner impulse (which in its turn is a responding to 
the impress of the totality of the individual's sur- 
roundings) to strive to do something more than 
merely adapt himself to his surroundings. He is 
urged on to rise superior to them. 

So the course of the individual's life is con- 
tinually being affected by surroundings which com- 
pel him to adapt himself to them on pain of 
extinction if he fails. On the other hand, he is 
himself, in his own small way, affecting his sur- 
roundings and causing them to adapt themselves to 
him. Even the humblest plant takes from the sur- 
rounding soil and air what it needs as food and 
changes it in the process of assimilation, so that the 
surroundings are, to a slight extent at least, changed 
by the activity of the plant. And we already have 
noticed how a plant's insect surroundings have to 
adapt themselves to the plant. There is reciprocal 
action, therefore the surroundings forcing the 
individual to adapt himself to them, and the indi- 
vidual causing the surroundings to adapt themselves 
to him. 

Here we have reached the point where, besides 


the struggle for existence among the individuals of 
an abundant, varied, and intense life, there is 
adaptation among the individuals to their surround- 
ings and of their surroundings to the individuals. 

We have now to note how with the adaptation 
goes selection. Set amid these physical and organic 
surroundings, some helpful, some harmful, the 
individual has to spend his life in selecting and 
rejecting what will further or hinder his natural 
development. He has to reject much, for there is 
much that will harm him. He has to select a little 
for that little is vitally necessary for his upbuild- 
ing and maintenance. From among the elements 
of the soil he has to choose those particular elements 
that he needs. Thus a plant selects through its 
roots from the elements of the soil, and through its 
leaves from the elements of the air, those elements 
and in those quantities that it needs for nourishment 
and growth. But it has also, by means of thorns 
or poison juices or other device, to protect itself 
from being itself selected by some animal for that 
animal's own nourishment and growth. 

So the individual is constantly selecting, and is 
as constantly on the guard against being selected. 
The principle of selection among the abundant and 
varied life is in continual operation. And unless 
he selects wisely he will not survive; for he will 
either have insufficient to live on or else have what 
is harmful to his life. Nor will he survive unless he 
is able to fend off those who would select him for 
their own maintenance. There is selection every- 
where selection by the individual and selection of 


the individual by surrounding neighbours and 

Thus far we have only recapitulated what most 
men are familiar with since Darwin commenced 
preaching the doctrine of Evolution by Natural 
Selection sixty years ago. But the Naturalist- 
Artist of the future .will probably not be content 
with the conclusion to which so many jump that all 
that Nature teaches or expects of individuals 
plants, beasts, or men is that they should adapt 
themselves to their surroundings and fit themselves 
to survive; that all Nature has at heart is adapt- 
ability of individuals to their surroundings and their 
fitness to survive. The lowly amoeba can perform 
these unenterprising functions more fitly than him- 
self. And the Artist would never be satisfied with 
so mean and meagre an ambition as merely to adapt 
himself to his surroundings and fit himself to survive. 
If he saw evidence of no higher expectation than 
that in the workings of Nature, his heart would cer- 
tainly not cleave to her heart. And there being 
estrangement and coolness between his heart and 
hers, he would see no Beauty in Nature and his 
pursuit of Natural Beauty might here end. 

But an instinct within him tells him that this 
cannot be the last word as to Nature's character 
and methods. He himself is constantly risking his 
life with no thought of trying to survive, and he 
sees his neighbours doing the same. And his 
inclination is to go a good deal farther than tamely 
adapting himself to his surroundings. He wants 
and strives to rise superior to them and he finds 


his neighbours likewise striving. So with this 
instinct goading him on he is driven to probe deeper 
still into the mystery of the forest life. 

Of selection and adaptation we have seen evi- 
dence throughout the whole forest life. Now, 
where there is selection and where there is adaptation 
there must be purposiveness. Selection implies the 
power of choice, and we have seen how plants as 
well as animals deliberately and effectively exercise 
this power of choice. And adaptation implies 
adjustment to an end, and we have seen how won- 
derfully plants no less than animals adapt them- 
selves to certain ends. And where individuals have 
the power of choice and exercise that power; and 
where they have the power of adapting themselves 
to certain ends and exercise that power, there 
obviously is purposiveness. 

Purposiveness runs like a streak through every 
activity. It permeates the whole forest life. It is 
observable in plants no less than in animals. 
Naturalists, indeed, regard trees and plants as truly 
sentient beings. And the means plants employ to 
compass the end they have in view are truly won- 
derful. Still more remarkable is the fact that 
hardly two attain their object by exactly the same 
means. The tropical forest is full of climbing 
plants bent upon reaching the sunlight. But some 
climb by coiling round the trunk of a tree like a 
snake, some swarm up it by holding on with claws, 
some ascend by means of adhering aerial roots, and 
some reach what they want by pushing through a 
tangle of branches spreading out arms and hauling 


themselves up. And when plants have attained 
maturity and flowered, the flowers employ number- 
less ways of attracting insects for the purpose of 
fertilisation. In a still, tropical forest, such as that 
of Lower Sikkim, there is no hope of the pollen 
being carried from one flower to another by air- 
currents. The flowers have therefore to devise a 
means for the transport of the pollen. Efforts are 
made to induce winged creatures insects in most 
cases, but sometimes birds to render assistance. 
Colours for day-flying insects and scent for night- 
flying insects are accordingly employed as means to 
this end. Brilliant colours attract butterflies and 
bees by day. Strong scent sometimes pleasant to 
our taste, sometimes the reverse attracts moths 
and other insects by night. And the flowers which 
depend on their scents and not on colour are usually 
white or dull brown or green. And this scent is 
not exhaled when it is not needed, but only when 
the insects which the flowers wish to attract are 

Orchids especially seem to know what they 
want. Their aerial roots wander about in search 
of what they want and seem to smell their way. 
They use discrimination in utilising their know- 
ledge. They choose. And each individual seems 
to choose in its own way. From among many 
means of achieving the same end they make a 
definite choice, and different plants make different 
choices they use different means. 

Plants, therefore, quite evidently employ means 
to an end. They have an end in view sometimes 
their own maintenance, sometimes the perpetua- 


tion of their kind, sometimes something else and 
they employ means to achieve that end. They are, 
that is to say, purposive in their nature. 

Evidence of purposiveness is also furnished by 
the wonderful organs of adaptation, root-tips, 
leaves, eyes, lungs, etc. It is extremely improb- 
able that they came into being or even started to 
come into being by mere chance alone. The 
odds are countless millions to one against the atoms, 
molecules, and cells myriads in number of any 
one of these organs of adaptation having by mere 
chance grouped themselves in such a way as to form 
an effective eye, or lung, or leaf. It is, literally 
speaking, infinitely improbable that the organs of 
adaptation we see in a forest, in plant and animal, 
should have come into existence through chance 

The organs of adaptation are distinctly and defi- 
nitely purposive structures not purposed, perhaps, 
but certainly purposeful. In its struggle with its 
surroundings and with competitors the individual 
has been compelled to bring into being organs to 
fulfil a purpose. It is not the case that the organ 
was first created and then a use found for it, or 
use made of it. What actually happens is that first 
there is a vague but insistent reaching out towards 
an end, towards the fulfilment of some inner want 
or need the need for food or to propagate, or 
whatever it may be and that to achieve that end, 
or fulfil that need, the individual is driven to create 
a special organisation as an Air Ministry was 
created during the War to fulfil the new need for 



fighting in the air and so a new organ is pro- 
duced : an essentially purposive structure such as the 
eye or the lung, though unpurposed before the need 
arose. The organs we see, therefore, are outward 
and visible signs of the existence within of a definite 
striving towards an end that is, of a purpose. 

The forest shows an abundant, varied, and 
intense life in which individuals are for ever battling 
with one another. But all is not happening by 
chance. Everywhere we see signs of purposive- 
ness. Purposiveness the striving towards an end 
stands out as a dominating feature in forest life. 
Selections and adaptations are made, but they are 
made with some purpose in view. Purpose governs 
the adaptations and selections. What that purpose 
is we shall try and discover as we get to know still 
more of Nature. 

So far we have been observing individuals as 
separate individuals. Now we must look at them 
gathered together as a whole. And the first point 
we note is that though each individual has his own 
unique individuality, whether he be plant or man, 
all are kept together as a single whole. We have 
seen the individuals battling with one another, com- 
peting with one another, struggling against one 
another. But that is only one side of the picture. 
Just as remarkable as the way in which they have 
to resist one another is the way in which they 
depend on one another. Their interdependence is, 
therefore, the point we have now to note. 

Since Darwin drew our attention to the struggle 
for existence and survival of the fittest, the per- 


petual strife in Nature has been clear enough. But 
hard, selfish, cruel, brutal though the struggle 
frequently is, though the strong will often trample 
mercilessly on the weak and let the unfit go to the 
wall without any consideration whatever; yet the 
very strongest and fittest individual could not sur- 
vive for a moment by itself alone. And what is 
just as remarkable as the struggle between indi- 
viduals is their dependence upon one another. 

All plants depend upon the natural elements 
the soil, water, air, and light. Animals depend on 
plants. And many animals depend upon other 
animals. A forest tree in its maturity is covered 
with blossoms, some conspicuous, others incon- 
spicuous to sight, but very conspicuous to smell. 
These blossoms, either by sight or scent, attract 
butterflies, bees, moths, and other insects to sip 
their nectar, and in so doing carry away the pollen 
of the flowers, and unwittingly pass it on to another 
flower and fertilise it. The insect thus enables the 
tree to procreate its species. But the butterfly, 
after sipping the nectar of the flower of the tree, 
deposits its eggs on the under surface of the leaves, 
and the leaves give nourishment to the caterpillars 
into which these eggs develop. Besides this, the 
flowers, having been fertilised by the insects, 
develop into fruits or berries containing seeds ; and 
these fruits, berries, and seeds form food for 
monkeys, birds, bats, and rodents. In quarrelling 
for these many are dropped and form food for mice 
and others below. Birds, finding food so near, 
pair, build their nests, and bring up their young in 
its branches. And in addition to the birds which 


are attracted by the berries, fruits, and seeds, other 
birds which are attracted by the caterpillars come 
there and build their nests. Without the flowers 
the bees would be starved ; without the bees or 
other insects the flowers would not be fertilised and 
the tree would not perpetuate itself.* 

The lives of all individuals, whether plants, 
beasts, or men, are thus curiously interwoven with 
and interdependent on one another. They are also 
dependent upon the chemical elements in the soil 
and air. And even then the dependence does not 
cease, for they depend, too, upon the light and 
heat from the Sun. And the Sun itself, and this 
Earth as well, are subtly connected with the whole 
Stellar Universe. 

It is only within limits that any individual can 
be regarded as a distinct and separate entity. It 
has its own unique individuality, it is true. But it 
is also connected with all the rest of the forest and 
with all the rest of the Earth, of the Solar System, 
and of the Universe. Each individual is to some 
extent dependent upon all other individuals. All 
influence and are influenced by all the rest. There 
is mutual influence everywhere. And all are con- 
nected in a whole the whole influencing each 
individual and each individual influencing the 

So besides the resistance of individuals to one 
another, there is attraction. Besides conflict there 
is co-operation. Besides independence there is 

* I take this illustration from Rodway's "In the Guiana 
Forest." It applies equally to any tropical forest. 


The life of the forest thus forms a whole. Indi- 
viduals have their due allowance of freedom. But 
they are kept together in a whole. Running 
through the individuals in their ensemble, binding 
them together, in spite of the tether they are 
allowed, must therefore be some kind of Organising 
Activity. We cannot look into that marvellous 
forest life without seeing that at the back of it, 
working all the way through it, controlling, 
guiding, inspiring every movement, is some 
dominating Activity, which, while allowing indi- 
viduals freedom for experimenting by the process 
of trial and error, yet keeps them all bound together 
as a whole. And when we note the evidence of 
purposiveness everywhere so abundant, we cannot 
resist the conclusion that this Activity also gives 

It is not necessary to suppose that this Activity 
emanates from any thing or person outside Nature. 
It may perfectly well exercise its control and 
guidance from within just as the activity which is 
" I " controls, consciously or unconsciously, directly 
or indirectly, the movements and actions of every 
particle of which "my" body is made up. But 
what we cannot but assume is that throughout this 
prolific and marvellously varied forest life, through 
every tiny plant and every forest giant, through 
every leaf and petal, through each little insect and 
every bird and butterfly, through the wild beasts of 
the jungle, the wary forest folk, and the most cul- 
tured men through each and all and the whole in 
its collectedness there runs some kind of unifying 
Activity, holding the whole together, ordering all, 


dominating all, directing all just as the orchid- 
spirit holds together and directs the activities of 
each particle which goes to make up the orchid ; or 
the eagle-spirit directs the activities of each particle 
which goes to make up the eagle. 

Suffusing the whole, embracing the whole, 
permeating each single member of the whole, there 
must be an organising and directing Activity, or we 
should not see the order and purposiveness we do. 

We shall now see that this Organising Activity 
gives not only direction, but an upward direction 
to the whole which it controls. 

We have already noted that among individuals 
the variety is such that no two are exactly alike. 
Each individual, however nearly alike, varies in 
some slight degree from every other. And new 
variations are constantly being created. Now we 
have to note that besides variation there is gradation. 
There is a scale of being. And individuals are 
graded on that scale. One is higher than another. 

As there are gradations in height from the plains 
to the outlying spurs of the Himalaya, and from 
these again to the higher ridges, and from these on 
to the great mountains, and finally to Kinchin junga 
and Mount Everest ; and as there are gradations in 
size from tiny plants to the giant trees ; so there are 
gradations in worth and value from the simple 
lichen or moss to the highly complex orchid ; from 
the microscopic animalculae of a stagnant pond to 
monkeys and men ; from simple primitive men to 
the highly cultured Bengali; and from the simple 
Bengali villager to the poet Rabindranath Tagore. 


Everywhere there is scale, gradation, grade. The 
differences between individuals is not on the level 
but on ascending stages. Even in very primitive 
communities, where all men are equal to the extent 
that there are no formal chiefs, one or two men 
always stand out pre-eminently above the rest, 
above the younger, the less skilful, the less 

There is variation everywhere, and wherever 
there is variation there is gradation. Living beings 
are no more exactly equal than they are exactly 
alike. Either in proficiency, or in speed, or in 
strength, or in cunning, or in alertness, or in 
general worth, one is superior to the other. We 
determine which is the faster horse by pitting one 
against the other in a race. We find out which is 
the superior boxer by making the two men fight 
each other. We find out which is the cleverest 
boy by testing him at an examination. We expect 
to determine which is the ablest political leader by 
making him submit himself to a General Election. 
We decide which is the most beautiful rose or orchid 
by putting the various flowers before a committee 
of judges. It is seldom possible to say with strict 
accuracy which one individual is superior to the 
other, and to arrange the various individuals in their 
truly right place in the scale. But quite evidently 
we do recognise the scale and recognise that 
theoretically it is possible to grade each individual 
on it, even though our practical methods may be 
somewhat rough-and-ready. 

This fact that gradation, as well as variation, 
exists is one of the great facts we have to note. 


For it indicates that the Organising Activity which 
keeps the individuals together is not keeping them 
together on a uniform dead level like the ocean, but 
is propelling them upward like the mountain. The 
significance of this fact has not hitherto been 
adequately noted. We are for ever speaking of 
equality when there is no equality. We have never 
noted with sufficient attention that everywhere 
there are grades and degrees. But it is a fact which 
a contemplation of the forest indelibly impresses on 
us. And it is a most welcome and inspiring fact, 
for it gives us a vision of higher things and promotes 
a zealous emulation among us. 

And the Organising Activity is not only upward- 
reaching, but forward-looking. It looks to the 
future. We have remarked how the individuals 
strive and compete with one another in order to get 
food and air and light with which to nourish and 
maintain themselves. But self-maintenance is not 
their only object. They seek to propagate them- 
selves to perpetuate their kind. They even make 
provision for their offspring. They go further still 
and sacrifice themselves that their offspring may 

Here again selfishness is not the last word. 
Even plants will make provision for their offspring, 
and in the last resort will sacrifice themselves that 
their offspring may survive. A plant will fight 
with its neighbours for the means wherewith to 
build itself up. But it will also provide for more 
than mere maintenance. It will build up organs 
for the purpose of propagating itself. Even ferns 


have their organs for producing seeds. And many 
a plant will make a supreme effort to produce off- 
spring rather than die without having perpetuated 
its kind. And plants and of course more markedly 
animals and men do not stop with merely repro- 
ducing their kind. Besides devoting their energies 
to propagation, they will deliberately make special 
provision for their offspring ; they will supply it 
with albumen and starch. And many insects are 
not only indefatigable, but highly intelligent, in 
providing food for their young even before the 
young are hatched out. They do not lay their eggs 
on any plant at random, but will wander for miles 
to find a plant on which their young can feed, and 
they then lay their eggs on that plant. Individual 
plants, insects, animals, or men may be frightfully 
selfish in their hard struggle for existence, but the 
one thing in regard to which no individual is selfish 
is in regard to its offspring. Primitive man, utterly 
callous about the sufferings of animals and of his 
own fellow-men and even of his wife, is tenderly 
careful of his child while it remains a child and 
this is a very significant trait in his character. 

However indifferent the individual may be to 
the sufferings of those about him, he will make any 
sacrifice for his offspring. There is some instinct 
within plants and animals alike which impels them 
to sacrifice themselves that their kind may continue. 

So that Activity which is at the source of all life, 
and is keeping living things together in an inter- 
connected whole, not only forces them upward in 
the scale of being, but is also driving them to look 
forward into the future, to provide for the future 


and, indeed, to make the future better than the 

This seems to be the way judging by what we 
see in the forest the Activity works. Things have 
not come to be as they are by the slap-dash, 
irresponsible, unregulated methods of mere chance. 
We cannot fail to see that chance does play some 
part. One seed from a tree may fall into a rivulet 
and be swept away to the sea, while another may be 
borne by a gust of wind, or by a bird, on to rich 
soil where competitors are few, and be able to grow 
up into a monarch of the forest, to live for a hun- 
dred years, and to give birth to thousands like itself. 
This is true. But chance will not produce the 
advancement and progress which is observable. 
Chance will not produce a single one of those organs 
of adaptation we see in myriads in the forest. And 
chance would not have made the barren earth of 
a hundred million years ago bring forth the plant, 
animal, and human life we see on it to-day. 

The Activity does not work on the haphazard 
methods of pure chance. Nor, on the other hand, 
are its operations conducted in the rigid, mechanical 
method of a machine. Nor, again, can the result 
we see be due to the working of blind physical and 
chemical processes alone. There is a great deal 
too much variety and spontaneity and originality 
about. We could not possibly look upon the 
forest as a machine even of the most complicated 
kind. A machine goes grinding round and round, 
producing things of exactly the same pattern. 
Whereas no two things exactly alike are ever turned 


out in the forest. And blind physical and chemical 
processes could by themselves by themselves alone 
never produce the novelties, the entirely new and 
unique things, and things higher and higher in the 
scale of being, which we see in the forest. Only a 
man impervious to the teaching of common sense 
could suppose that the care which plant, beast, and 
man alike show for their offspring could be the 
result of bare physical and chemical processes with- 
out the inclusion with these processes of any other 
agency whatsoever. 

Nor, on the other hand, do we see any signs of 
the forest being the result of a preconceived plan 
gradually being worked out as a bridge is 
gradually built up according to the previously 
thought out plan of the engineer. The carrying 
out of a plan means that in course of time the plan 
will be completed, and that each stage is a step 
towards its completion. But in the forest life there 
is no sign of any beginning of an approach towards 
the completion of a plan. There is no tendency 
to a closing in. There is a reaching upward, it is 
true. But there is also a splaying outward. One 
line leads up to man. But others splay out to 
insects, birds, and elephants. 

Another noticeable fact is that nowhere is per- 
fection reached. If a plan were being worked we 
should expect to see the lower stages like the 
foundations of the bridge well and truly laid, 
incapable of improvement. But no living being 
neither the lowliest nor the highest is itself as a 
whole or in any one particular absolutely perfect. 
There is room for improvement everywhere. Most 


wonderful things we see. But not perfection. The 
eye is a wonderful thing. But an oculist would 
point out defects in even the best. 

And if it be argued that there has not been suffi- 
cient time yet to work out a plan, the reply is that 
there has been infinite time. Time is infinite. If 
the Activity \vere merely working out a plan, the 
plan would have been completed ages ago. 

So the Organising Activity which we see must 
be working at the back of things, keeping all the 
separate individuals together in a connected whole, 
not only preserves the strictest order among them, 
but grants them freedom, stimulates emulation 
among them, inspires them to reach upward and 
to look into and provide for the future. Such an 
Activity is no mere mechanical activity. It is a 
purposive Activity. It is an essentially spiritual 
Activity. Spirit is not the casual flash flaming up 
from the working of blind physical and chemical 
forces. Spirit dominates these blind forces. Spirit 
is a true determining factor in the whole process. 
Spirit is at the root and source and permeates the 

This Spiritual Activity is what in ordinary lan- 
guage we speak of as "the Spirit of Nature," and 
emanates from the Heart of Nature. 

When, therefore, our Artist sums up his im- 
pressions of Nature as epitomised in the life of the 
forest ; when he has been able to feel that he has, 
as it were, got inside the skin of Nature, entered 
into her Spirit and really understood her as the 
artist-midge we have referred to would enter into 


the nature of a man and try and understand him 
he will probably find that Nature works in very 
much the same way as he himself works, and is of 
much the same character as himself. 

The Artist will observe that Nature neither 
works by mere chance, tossing up at each turning 
whether she shall go to the right or to the left, 
and quite indifferent as to which way she takes; 
nor in the set and rigid manner of a machine ; nor 
yet, again, in the cut-and-dried fashion which the 
execution of a previously conceived plan implies. 
Order everywhere the Artist will have observed. 
But order need not mean woodenness and 
machinery. Order is simply the absolutely 
essential prerequisite of any Freedom. And it is 
Freedom that the Artist everywhere observes. 
Nature is not closed in by the designed overarch 
of an eventually-to-be-completed plan. The 
zenith and horizon are always open. There is 
always order, but there is scope illimitable for 
Nature's workings. 

So the sum impression the Artist will probably 
receive is that Nature is in her essential character 
an Artist like himself that she creates and goes 
on creating, just as he creates and goes on creating. 
A painter \vho is a true artist and not a mere 
copyist paints "out of his head," as the saying 
goes, pictures which are true creations something 
new and unique, though founded on and related 
to the pre-existing. And there is no limit to the 
pictures he might paint out of his head. He is 
not tied down in advance by any preconceived plan. 
According as he is roused and stirred by the 


complex life around him, he could if he were 
physically able go on for ever painting picture 
after picture, each a new creation. In the same 
way a poet could go on writing poems. The 
poet does not turn out poems like a machine turns 
out pins, each like the other. He is not tied down 
to what he writes. He writes out of his own heart 
what he likes. And he does not and could not turn 
out two poems exactly the same. Nor does he 
write according to plan as the bridge-builder works 
according to the plan of the engineer. He works 
as he goes. He works by spontaneous creativeness. 
He is utterly original a true creator. And even 
so will our Artist hold that Nature works. 

The letters of Nature's alphabet which the 
Artist sees in the forest are not in the places they 
are either through mere chance or according to a 
definitely prepared plan. The letters form words, 
the words form lines, and the lines form poems. 
The Artist reads the words and understands the 
meaning of the poems, and so understands the 
character of the Poet the Poet whose name is 
Nature. But the Artist knows that the words and 
lines and poems he sees in the forest are there as 
spontaneous creations from the mind of Nature as 
poems arise in his own mind. And he knows that 
Nature could go on and must go on creating 
these poems, painting these pictures, for ever and 

Nature will, indeed, work to an end as an Artist 
works to an end. Nature has purposiveness as an 
Artist has purposiveness. But that end is some- 
thing which Nature, like the Artist, is always 


revising, re-creating, improving, perfecting. An 
Artist has the general end of creating Beauty, but 
he is always striving to enrich and intensify it, to 
create it in greater and greater perfection. And 
even so does Nature work. 

As the Artist puts himself in touch with the 
Heart of Nature, the dominant impression he 
receives is of Nature ever straining after higher 
perfection, ever striving to achieve a greater 
excellence, and create beings with higher and higher 
modes of life. He sees her straining upward in the 
mountain, in the trees, in the climbers on the trees, 
in every blade of grass. He sees the whole of life 
straining to achieve higher and higher forms, more 
perfect flowers, more intelligent animals, more spirit- 
ual men. He sees the life of the seas stretching up 
out of the seas on to the land. He sees the life 
of the land striving to reach the highest points on 
the land. And he sees it also soaring up into the 
air and making itself at home there, too. Every- 
where he sees evidence of aspiration and upward 

But he notes also that with this upward effort 
there goes a downward pull. The mountain strives 
upward, but it is drawn down by the forces of 
gravitation. The eagle soars up in the sky, but 
has to come down to earth to rest and feed. The 
poet aspires to heaven, but has to stop on earth 
and earn his daily bread. 

Nature, like himself, the Artist finds, is engaged 
in a constant struggle between an impulse to excen- 
tration and the necessity for concentration. She 
wants to fly off to the zenith and to the horizon, 


but is continually being drawn into the centre. She 
wants to let herself go, but has to keep herself in. 
And all this is to the good. For the necessity 
for concentration only serves to strengthen and 
refine her aspiration. And the net result is higher 
and higher perfection. She cannot rise any higher 
in a mountain, so she rises in a higher form in a 
tree. She cannot rise any higher in a tree, so she 
rises in higher form in an orchid. She cannot 
rise any higher in an orchid, so she rises in higher 
form in a man. She cannot rise any higher in man 
as an intelligent animal, so she rises in higher 
form in man as a spiritual being, capable of spiritual 
appreciation and of spiritual communion with her. 

The gravitation to a centre the necessity for 
concentration does not suppress and crush the 
aspiration of Nature ; it only serves to compel the 
aspiration to refine and perfect itself. 

In this spirit of aspiration checked by concentra- 
tion the Artist will surely find what is after his own 
heart. He will recognise that what is going on in 
Nature is the same as what goes on in his own heart. 
He and Nature have a common aspiration. As he 
aspires but has to concentrate, so does Nature aspire 
but has to concentrate. As he works, so does 
Nature work. What he aims at, that also does 
Nature aim at. And when the Naturalist within 
him convinces him that, so far as forest life reveals 
it, this is Nature's manner and this is Nature's end, 
then his heart goes out to the Heart of Nature, 
his heart and her heart become one ; and from that 
community of heart Beauty unending springs. 

He will without reserve or hesitation be able to 


throw his whole heart into the enjoyment of Natural 
Beauty in a way that would have been utterly im- 
possible if he had had to come to the conclusion 
that Nature cared only for the brutally fittest, wholly 
irrespective of their worth, or that Nature was at 
the mercy of chance and had no wish, intention, 
or power to make good prevail over ill. And with 
his instinctive love of Natural Beauty thus con- 
firmed and strengthened by this testing of his 
instinct against what cool reasoning on the facts 
revealed by observation in the forest had to say 
about it, he can with lightened heart search still 
further into Nature, and see her in higher, wider, 
deeper aspects than the forest alone can disclose. 



ASPIRATION is the root sentiment at the Heart of 
Nature as she manifests herself in the forest 
aspiration upward checked by concentration upon 
the inmost centre. And the very emblem of the 
aspiration of Nature kept in hand and under con- 
trol is to be found in that proud pinnacle of the 
Sikkim Himalaya, Kinchinjunga, as it is seen from 
Darjiling rising from amidst the rich tropical forests 
which clothe its base. To Darjiling, therefore, we 
should be wise to go. 

To reach it we must ascend the slopes of the 
outer ranges which rise abruptly from the plains. 
A giant forest now replaces the stunted and bushy 
timber of the Terai proper and clothes the steep 
mountain-sides with dense, deep-green, dripping 
vegetation. The trees are of great height, and are 
sheathed and festooned with climbing plants of 
many kinds. Bauhinias and robinias, like huge 
cables, join tree to tree. Peppers, vines, and con- 
volvulus twine themselves round the trunks and 
branches, and hang in graceful pendants from the 
boughs. And the trees, besides being hung with 
climbers, are also decked with orchids and with foli- 
aceous lichens and mosses. The wild banana with 
its crown of glistening leaves is everywhere conspicu- 



cms. Bamboos shoot up through the undergrowth 
to a hundred feet or more in height. The fallen 
trees are richly clothed with ferns typical of the 
hottest and dampest climates. And dendrobiums 
and other orchids fasten on the branches. 

At Kurseong there is another striking change, 
for the vegetation now becomes more characteristic 
of the temperate zone. The spring here vividly 
recalls the spring in England. Oaks of a noble 
species and magnificent foliage are flowering and 
the birch bursting into leaf. The violet, straw- 
berry, maple, geranium, and bramble appear, and 
mosses and lichens carpet the banks and roadsides. 
But the species of these plants differ from their 
European prototypes, and are accompanied at this 
elevation (and for 2,000 feet higher up) with tree 
ferns forty feet in height, bananas, palms, figs, 
pepper, numbers of epiphytal orchids, and similar 
genuine tropical genera. 

From Kurseong we ascend through a magnifi- 
cent forest of chestnut, walnut, oaks, and laurels. 
Hooker, when he subsequently visited the Khasia 
Hills in Assam, said that though the subtropical 
scenery on the outer Himalaya was on a much more 
gigantic scale, it was not comparable in beauty and 
luxuriance with the really tropical vegetation in- 
duced by the hot, damp, and insular climate of 
those perennially humid Khasia Hills. The forest 
of gigantic trees on the Himalaya, many of them 
deciduous, appear from a distance as masses of dark 
grey foliage, clothing mountains 10,000 feet high. 
Whereas in the Khasia Hills the individual trees are 


smaller, more varied in kind, of a brilliant green, 
and contrast with grey limestone and red sandstone 
rocks. Still, even of the forest between Kurseong 
and Darjiling, Hooker says that it is difficult to 
conceive a grander mass of vegetation the straight 
shafts of the timber trees shooting aloft, some 
naked and clean with grey, pale, or brown bark ; 
others literally clothed for yards with a continuous 
garment of epiphytes (air-plants), one mass of 
blossoms, especially the white orchids, coelogynes, 
which bloom in a profuse manner, whitening their 
trunks like snow. More bulky trunks bear masses 
of interlacing climbers vines, hydrangea, and 
peppers. And often the supporting tree has long 
ago decayed away and their climbers now enclose 
a hollow. Perpetual moisture nourishes this 
dripping forest, and pendulous mosses and lichens 
are met with in profusion. 

For this forest life, however, we cannot at 
present spare the attention that is its due, for we 
want above all things to see the mountains on the 
far side of this outer ridge. Tropical forests may 
be seen in many other parts of the world. But 
only here on all the Earth can we see mountains on 
so magnificent a scale. So we do not pause, but 
cross the ridge and come to the slopes and spurs 
which face northward, away from the plains and 
towards the main range of the Himalaya. 

Here is situated Darjiling, which ought to be 
set apart as a sacred place of pilgrimage for all the 
world. Directly facing the snowy range and set 
in the midst of a vast forest of oaks and laurels, 
rhododendrons, magnolias, and camellias, the 


branches and trunks of which are festooned with 
vines and smilax and covered with ferns and 
orchids, and at the base of which grow violets, 
lobelias, and geraniums, with berberries, brambles, 
and hydrangeas it is adapted as few other places 
are for the contemplation of Nature's Beauty in its 
most splendid aspects. 

Its only disadvantage is that it is so continually 
shrouded in mist. The range on which it stands 
being the first range against which the moisture- 
laden currents from the Bay of Bengal strike, the 
rainfall is very heavy and amounts to 140 or 160 
inches in the year. And even when rain is not 
actually falling there is much cloud hanging 
about the mountains. So the traveller cannot 
count upon seeing the snows. There is no cer- 
tainty that as he tops the ridge or turns the corner 
he will see Kinchinjunga in the full blaze of its 
glory. He cannot be as sure of seeing it as he is 
of seeing a picture on entering a gallery. During 
the month of November alone is there a reasonable 
surety. All the rest of the year he must take his 
chance and possess his soul in patience till the 
mountain is graciously pleased to reveal herself. 

Perhaps because of the uncertainty of seeing 
Kinchinjunga the view when it is seen is all the 
more impressive. The traveller waits for hours 
and days, even for only a glimpse. One minute's 
sight of the mountains would satisfy him. But 
still the clouds eddy about in fleecy billows wholly 
obscuring the mountains. Six thousand feet below 
may now and then be seen the silver streak of the 
Rangit River and forest-clad mountains beyond. 


Around him are dripping forests, each leaf glisten- 
ing with freshest greenness, long mosses hanging 
from the boughs, and the most delicate ferns and 
noblest orchids growing on the stems and branches. 
All is very beautiful, but it is the mountain he 
wants to see ; and still the cloud-waves collect and 
disperse, throw out tender streamers and feelers, 
disappear and collect again, but always keep a veil 
between him and the mountain. 

Then of a sudden there is a rent in the veil. 
Without an inkling of when it is to happen or what 
is to be revealed, those mists of infinite softness 
part asunder for a space. The traveller is told to 
look. He raises his eyes but sees nothing. He 
throws back his head to look higher. Then indeed 
he sees, and as he sees he gasps. For a moment 
the current of his being comes to a standstill. 
Then it rushes back in one thrill of joy. Much he 
will have heard about Kinchin junga beforehand. 
Much he will remember of it if he has seen it before. 
But neither the expectation nor the memory ever 
comes up to the reality. From that time, hence- 
forth and for ever, his whole life is lifted to a higher 

Through the rent in the fleecy veil he sees clear 
and clean against the intense blue sky the snowy 
summit of Kinchinjunga, the culminating peak of 
lesser heights converging upward to it and all 
ethereal as spirit, white and pure in the sunshine, 
yet suffused with the delicatest hues of blue and 
mauve and pink. It is a vision of colour and 
warmth and light a heaven of beauty, love, and 


But what really thrills us is the thought that, 
incredibly high though it is, yet that heaven is part 
of earth, and may conceivably be attained by man. 
It is nearly double the height of Mont Blanc and 
more than six times the height of Ben Nevis, but 
still it is rooted in earth and part of our own home. 
This is what causes the stir within us. 

Hardly less striking than its height is its purity 
and serenity. The subtle tints of colour and the 
brilliant sunlight dispel any coldness we might feel, 
while the purity is still maintained. And the 
serenity is accentuated by the ceaseless movements 
of the eddying clouds through which the vision is 
seen. There is about Kinchinjunga the calm and 
repose of stupendous upward effort successfully 

A sense of solemn elevation comes upon us as 
we view the mountain. We are uplifted. The 
entire scale of being is raised. Our outlook on life 
seems all at once to have been heightened. And 
not only is there this sense of elevation : we seem 
purified also. Meanness, pettiness, paltriness 
seem to shrink away abashed at the sight of that 
radiant purity. 

The mountain has made appeal to, and called 
forth from us all that is most pure and most noble 
within us, and aroused our highest aspirations. 
Our heart, therefore, goes out lovingly to it. We 
long to see it again and again. We long to be 
always in a mood worthy of it. And we long to 
have that fineness of soul which would enable us 
to appreciate it still more fully. Glowing in the 
heart of the mountain is the pure flame of un- 


daunted aspiration, and it sets something aglow in 
our hearts also which burns there unquenchably for 
the rest of our days. We see attainment of the 
highest in the physical domain, and it stirs us to 
achieve the highest in the spiritual. Between our- 
selves and the mountain is the kinship of common 
effort towards high ends. And it is because of this 
kinship that we are able to see such lofty Beauty in 
the mountain. 

For only a few minutes are we granted this 
heavenly vision. Then the veil is drawn again. 
But in those few minutes we have received an im- 
pression which has gone right down into the depths 
of our soul and will last there for a lifetime. 

On other occasions the mountain is not so re- 
served, but reveals itself for whole days in all its 
glory. The central range of the Himalaya will be 
arrayed before us in its full majesty from one 
horizon to the other without a cloud to hide a single 
detail. We see the lesser ranges rolling up, wave 
after wave, in higher and higher effort towards the 
culminating line of peaks. And along this central 
line itself all the lesser heights we see converging 
on the supreme peak of Kinchinjunga. The 
scene, too, will be dazzling in the glorious sunshine 
and suffused with that purply-blue translucent 
atmosphere which gives to the whole a fairy-like, 
ethereal aspect. 

And on this occasion we have no hurried 
glimpse of the mountain. We have ample time to 
contemplate it, looking at it, turning away from it 
to rest our souls from so deep an emotion, looking 


at it again, time after time, till we have entered 
into its spirit and its spirit has entered into us. 
And always our eyes insensibly revert to the 
culminating-point the summit of Kinchinjunga 
itself. We note all the rich forest foreground, the 
deep valley beneath us, the verdure-covered sub- 
sidiary ranges, and the strong buttresses of the 
higher peaks. But our eyes do not linger there. 
They unconsciously raise themselves beyond them 
to the summit ridge. Nor do we look long on the 
distant peaks on either hand. They are over 
24,000 feet in height. But they are not the 
highest. So our eyes pass over peaks of every 
remarkable form abrupt, rugged, and enticing, 
and we seek the highest peak of all. And Kinchin- 
junga is a worthy mountain-monarch. It is not a 
needle-point a sudden upstart which might easily 
be upset. Kinchinjunga is grand and massive and 
of ample gesture, broad and stable and yet also 
culminating in a clear and definite point. There 
is no mistaking her superiority both in massiveness 
and height to every peak around her. 

And thick-mantled in deep and everlasting 
snow though the whole long range of mountains is, 
the spectacle of all this snow brings no chill upon 
us. For we are in latitudes more southern still 
than Italy and Greece farther south than Cairo. 
The entire scene is bathed in warm and brilliant 
sunshine. The snows are glittering white, but 
with a white that does not strike cold upon us, for it 
is tinted in the tenderest way with the most delicate 
hues of blue and pink. They are, indeed, in the 
strictest sense not white at all, but a mingling of 


the very faintest essence of the rose, the violet, and 
the forget-me-not. And we view the distant 
mountains through an atmospheric veil which has 
the strange property of revealing instead of hiding 
the real nature of the object before which it stands. 
It does not conceal the mountains. It reveals 
them in their real nature the spiritual. Each 
country has an atmosphere of its own. There is 
a blue of the Alps, a blue of Italy, a blue of Greece, 
and a blue of Kashmir. The blue of the Sikkim 
Himalaya, perhaps on account of the excessive 
amount of moisture in the air, has a special quality 
of its own. It seems to me to have more colour in 
it a fuller colour, a bluer blue, a purpler purple 
than the atmosphere of these other countries. 
From this cause and from the greater brilliance of 
the sun there is a more satisfying warmth even in 
the snows. 

So besides beauty in the form of the mountains 
there is this exquisite loveliness of colour. In the 
immediate foreground are greens, fresh and shin- 
ing and of every tint. And these shade away into 
deep purples and violets of the supporting ranges, 
and these again into those most delicate hues of the 
snows which vary according to the time of day, 
from decided rose-pink in the early morning and 
evening to, perhaps, faintest blue or violet in the 
full day. And over all and as a background is a 
sky of the intensest blue. What these colours are 
it is impossible to describe in words, for even the 
violet, the rose, and the forget-me-not have not 
the delicacy which these colours in the atmosphere 
possess. And assuredly no painter could do them 


justice, simply because paints and canvas are 
mediums far too coarse in which to reproduce the 
impression which such brilliance of light acting on 
a medium so fine as the thin air produces. The 
great Russian painter Verestchagin once visited 
Darjiling, and took his seat to paint the scene. 
He looked and looked, but did not paint. His 
wife kept handing him the brush and paints. But 
time after time he said : " Not now, not now ; it 
is all too splendid." Night came and the picture 
never was painted. And it never could be painted, 
though great artists most assuredly could at least 
point out to us in their pictures the subtler glories 
which are to be seen, and which we expect them to 
indicate to us. 

So the view of the snows from Darjiling, grand 
and almost overpowering though it is, has warmth 
in it too. The main impression is one of magni- 
tude and amplitude, of vastness and immensity, 
and withal of serene composure. The first view of 
the mountain seen through a rent in the clouds was 
perhaps more uplifting, though this view excites a 
sense of elevation also, for the eye is continually 
being drawn to the highest point. But in this full 
view the impression of breadth and bigness of scale 
is combined with the impression of height. The 
dimensions of life in every direction seem to be 
enlarged. We seem to be able to look at things 
from a broader, bigger point of view, as well as a 
higher. We ourselves and the world at large are 
all on a larger scale than we had hitherto suspected. 
And while on a broader scale, we feel that things 


are always working upward and converging towards 
some lofty but distinct, defined summit. This also 
do we feel, as we look upon the view, that with all 
the bigness and massiveness and loftiness there is 
the very finest tenderness as well such delicacy as 
we had never before imagined. 

And to anyone who really knows them the 
littleness of man in comparison w r ith these mighty 
mountains is not the impression made upon him. 
He is not overawed and overcome by them. His 
soul goes out most lovingly to them because they 
have aroused in him all the greatness in his soul, 
and purified it even if only for a time of all its 
dross and despicableness. And he loves them for 
that. He does not go cringing along, feeling him- 
self a worm in comparison with them. There is 
warm kinship between him and them. He knows 
what is in their soul. And they have aroused in 
his soul exactly what he rejoices in having aroused 
there, and which but for them might have re- 
mained for ever unsurmised. So he revels in their 

Another aspect in which we may see Kinchin- 
junga is in its aspect at dawn. It will be still night 
a starlit night. The phantom snowy range and 
the fairy forms of the mountains will be bathed in 
that delicate yellow light the stars give forth. The 
far valley depths will be hidden in the sombrest 
purple. Overhead the sky will be glittering with 
brilliant gems set in a field of limpid sapphire. The 
hush of night will be over all the hush which 
heralds some great and splendid pageant. 


Then, almost before we have realised it, the 
eastward-facing scarps of the highest peaks are 
struck with rays of mingled rose and gold, and 
gleam like heavenly realms set high above the still 
night-enveloped world below. Farther and farther 
along the line, deep and deeper down it, the flush 
extends. The sapphire of the sky slowly lightens 
in its hue. The pale yellow of the starlight be- 
comes merged in the gold of dawn. White billowy 
mists of most delicate softness imperceptibly form 
themselves in the valley depths and float up the 
mountain-sides. The deep hum of insect life, the 
chirping of the birds, the sounds of men, begin to 
break the Kush of night. The snows become a 
delicate pink, the valleys are flooded with purple 
light, the sky becomes intensest blue, and the sun 
at last itself appears above the mountains, and the 
ardent life of day vibrates once more. 

In the full glare of day the mountains are not 
seen at their very best. The best time of all to see 
them is in the evening. If we go out a little from 
Darjiling into the forest to some secluded spur we 
can enjoy an evening of rare felicity. On the edge 
of the spur the forest is more open. The ground is 
covered with grass and flowers and plants with 
many-coloured leaves. Rich orchids and tender 
ferns and pendant mosses clothe the trees. Grace- 
ful vines and creepers festoon themselves from 
bough to bough. The air is fragrant with the 
scent of flowers. Bright butterflies flutter noise- 
lessly about. The soft purr of forest life drones 
around. Rays from the setting sun slant across the 
scene. The leaves in their freshest green and of 


every shade glitter like emeralds in the brilliant 

Through the trunks of the stately trees and 
under their overarching boughs we look out towards 
the snowy mountains. We look over the brink of 
the spur, down into the deeps of the valleys richly 
filled with tropical vegetation, their eastward-facing 
sides now of purplest purple, their westward-facing 
slopes radiant in the evening sunshine, with the full 
richness of their foliage shown up by the dazzling 
light. Far below we see the silver streak of some 
foaming river, and then as we raise our eyes we 
mark ridge rising behind ridge, higher and higher 
and each of a deeper shade of purple than the one in 
front. The lower are still clothed in forest, but the 
green has been merged in the deep purple of the 
atmosphere. The higher are bare rock till the 
snow appears. But just across them floats a long 
level wisp of fleecy cloud, and apparently the limits 
of earth have been reached and sky has begun. 
We would rest content with that. But our eyes 
are drawn higher still. And high above the cloud, 
and rendered inconceivably higher by its presence, 
emerges the snowy summit of Kinchinjunga, serene 
and calm and flushed with the rose of the setting 
sun. As a background is a sky of the clearest, 
bluest blue. 

These are the chief elements of the scene, but 
all is in process of incessant yet imperceptible 
change. The sunshine slowly softens, the purples 
deepen , the flush on the mountains reddens . The air 
becomes as soft as velvet. Not a leaf now stirs. A 
holy peace steals over the mountains and settles in 


the valleys. The snow mountains no longer look 
cold, hard, and austere. Their purity remains as 
true as ever. And they still possess their uplifting 
power. But they now speak of serenity and calm 
not, indeed, of the unsatisfying ease of the sloth- 
ful, but of the earned repose of high attainment. 
Great peace is about them deep, strong, satisfying 

The sun finally sets. Night has settled in the 
valleys. The lights of Darjiling sparkle in the 
darkness. But long afterwards a glow still remains 
on Kinchinjunga. Lastly that also fades away. 
And now night spreads her veil on every part. But 
here night brings with it no sense of gloom and 
darkness, much less death. Far otherwise, for now 
it seems as if we were only beginning our intenser 
and still wider life. The fret of ordinary life is 
soothed away in the serene ending of the day. The 
quietness, profound and meaningful, yet further 
calms our spirit. Every condition is now favour- 
able for the life of that inmost soul of us, which is 
too sensitive often to emerge into the glare and rubs 
of daylight life, but which in this holy peace, in the 
presence of the heavenly mountains, and with the 
stars above to guide it, can reach out to its fullest 
extent and indulge its highest aspirations. 



FROM these scenes of tropical luxuriance and teem- 
ing life I would transport the Artist to a region of 
austerest beauty, far at the back of the Himalaya, 
where only one white man as yet has penetrated : 
where no life at all exists no tree, no simplest 
plant, no humblest animalcula ; where, save for 
some rugged precipice too steep for snow to lie, and 
save also for the intense azure of the sky, all is 
radiant whiteness. A region far distant from any 
haunt of man, where reigns a mountain which 
acknowledges supremacy to Mount Everest alone. 
A region of completest solitude, where the solemn 
silence is unbroken by the twitter of a single bird 
or the drone of the smallest insect, and is disturbed 
only by the occasional thunder of an avalanche or 
the grinding crunch of the glacier as a reminder of 
the titanic forces which are perpetually though 
invisibly at work. 

Freezing this region is and full of danger. And 
there is no short cut to it and no easy means of 
transport. Only men in the prime of health can 
reach there and return. And it is only men whose 
faculties are at their finest who are fit to stand the 
austerity of its cold, stern beauty. It lies at the 
dividing line between India and Central Asia where 
the waters which flow to India are parted from the 


waters which flow to Central Asia, and where the 
Indian and Chinese Empires touch one another. It 
may be approached from two directions from 
Turkistan or from Kashmir and the Karakoram Pass. 
The Artist had better approach it by Kashmir, 
for he will see there certain beauties which even 
Sikkim does not possess, and this will make him 
further realise the variety of beauty this earth 

Kashmir is altogether different from Sikkim. 
In Sikkim the valleys are deep, steep, and narrow, 
and markedly inclined, so that the rivers run strong 
and there is no room or level for lakes. In Kashmir 
the main valley is from twenty to thirty miles broad 
and ninety miles long. Over a large portion it is 
nearly dead level. So the river is even and placid. 
And there are tranquil lakes and duck-haunted 

The climate is different, too. It is the climate 
of North Italy. Consequently there are no tropical 
forests, and the mountain-sides are covered with 
trees of the temperate zone the stately deodar 
cedars, spruce fir, maples, walnut, sycamore, and 
birch ; while in the valley itself grow poplars, wil- 
lows, mulberries, and most beautiful of all, and a 
speciality of Kashmir, the magnificent chenar tree 
akin to the plane tree of Europe, but larger, 
fuller, and richer in its foliage. 

In Kashmir there is also far more variety of 
colour than there is in Sikkim. And in the spring, 
with the willows and poplars in freshest green ; the 
almond, pear, apple, apricot, and peach trees in full 
blossom, white and pink ; the fields emerald with 



young wheat, blue with linseed, or yellow with 
mustard ; and the village-borders purple with iris ; 
or in the autumn when the chenars, the poplars, 
and apricots are turning to every tint of red and 
yellow and purple, Kashmir is in a glow of colour. 
And the famous Valley is all the more beautiful 
because it is ringed round with a circle of snowy 
mountains of at least Alpine magnitude, with a 
glimpse here and there, such as that of Nanga 
Parbat, of much more stupendous peaks beyond; 
and because the sky is so blue, the atmosphere so 
delicate in its hues, and the sunshine so general 
throughout the year. 

In this favoured land there is many a variety of 
beauty, but all is of the easy, pleasant kind. All 
the colours are soft and soothing. It is a land to 
dream of, a gentle and indulgent land of soft repose, 
and calm content, and quiet relaxation ; a dreamy, 
peaceful land where life glides smoothly forward, 
and all makes for enjoyment and idleness and 

From the pleasant Vale of Kashmir the Artist 
would have to make his way up the Sind Valley a 
valley typical of those beautiful tributaries which 
add so much to the whole charm of Kashmir. These 
are comparatively narrow, and the mountain-sides 
are steep, but the valleys are not so narrow nor the 
sides so steep as the valleys of Sikkim, nor are the 
forests anything like so dense. The scenery is, 
indeed, much more Swiss in appearance with open 
pine forests, picturesque hamlets, grassy pasture- 
lands, flowery meadows, and clear, rushing rivers ; 
and with the rocky crests or snow-capped summits 


of the engirdling mountains always in the back- 

But when we emerge from this delightful valley 
of the Sind River and cross the Zoji-la Pass, we 
come upon a very different style of country bare, 
dreary, desolate, monotonous, uninteresting. The 
forest has all disappeared, for the rainfall is here 
slight. The moisture-laden clouds have precipi- 
tated themselves upon the seaward-facing slopes of 
the mountains we have already passed through. 
And because of this lack of rainfall the valleys are 
not cut out deep, but are high and broad. It is 
a delightful experience to pass from this brown, 
depressing landscape to the rich beauties of the Sind 
Valley and Kashmir. But to make the journey 
the other way round, and to pass into the gloomy 
region after being spoilt by the luxuries of Kashmir, 
is sadly disheartening at first. 

The experience has, however, its advantages, 
for it makes us throw off all ideas of soft ease we 
may have harboured in Kashmir, and reminds us 
that we have to prepare ourselves to face beauties 
of a far sterner kind. So we insensibly alter our 
whole attitude of mind, and as we plod our way 
through the mountains we summon up from within 
ourselves all the austerer stuff of which we are 

We cross some easy passes of 13,000 feet or so 
in height. We cross the River Indus. We reach 
Leh. We cross a 17,000-feet pass and then a 
glacier pass of 18,000 feet, and then the watershed 
of India and Central Asia by the Karakoram Pass, 
nearly 19,000 feet in height. We are six hundred 


miles from the plains of India now, and in about 
as desolate a region as the world contains. Then, 
bearing westward, we make for the Aghil Pass. 
We have now got right in behind the Himalaya, 
and as we reach the top of the Aghil Pass we look 
towards the Himalaya from the Central Asian side, 
on what is known as the Karakoram Range, and 
here at last is the remote, secluded glacier region 
which has been the object of our search. 

Its glory bursts upon us as we top the last rise 
to the Aghil Pass. Across the deep valley is 
arrayed in bold and jagged outline a series of pin- 
nacles of ice glistening in the brilliant sunshine, 
showing up in clearest definition against the intense 
blue sky, and rising abruptly and incredibly high 
above the rock-bound Oprang River. They are 
the mighty peaks which group around K 2 the 
noblest cluster in the whole Himalaya. 

There are here no inviting grassy slopes and no 
enticing forests. The mountain-sides are all hard 
rock and rugged precipices. And the summits are 
of ice or with edges sharp and keen direct from 
Nature's workshop. But the sight, though it awes 
us, does not depress us or deter us. We are keyed 
up by high anticipation when we arrive on the 
threshold of this secluded region, and a fierce joy 
seizes us as we first set eyes on these mountains. 
We know we have before us one of the great sights 
of the world something unique and apart, some- 
thing the like of which we shall never see again. 
And awed as we are by the mountains' unsurpassed 
magnificence, we do not bow down in any abject 
way before them. We are not impressed by our 


littleness in comparison. They have, indeed, 
shown us that the world is something greater than 
we knew. But they have shown us also that we 
too are something greater than we knew. The 
peaks in their dazzling altitude have set an exacting 
standard for us. They have incited us to rise to 
that standard. Their call is great, but a thrill runs 
through us as we feel ourselves responding to the 
challenge, collecting ourselves together and gather- 
ing up every stiffest bit of ourselves to rise to their 
high standard. We feel nerved and steeled ; and 
in high exhilaration we plunge down into the valley 
to join issue with the mountains. 

Arrived on the Oprang River we can turn 
either to the left or the right. If we turn to the 
left we get right in under a knot of stupendous 
peaks. Towering high and solitary above the 
rocky wall which bounds the valley on the south is 
a peak which may be K 2 , 28,250 feet in height, 
which must be somewhere in the neighbourhood. 
But the investigations of the Duke of the Abruzzi 
throw a doubt as to whether this can be K 2 itself. 
If it is not, it must be some unfixed and unnamed 
peak. At any rate it is a magnificent, upstanding 
peak rising proud and steep-sided high and clear 
above its neighbours. Then beyond it, farther up 
the Oprang Valley, we catch glimpses of that won- 
drous company of Gusherbrum Peaks four of 
them over 26,000 feet in height, with rich glaciers 
flowing from them. 

But if we turn to the right on descending from 
the Aghil Pass, and if we turn again in the direction 
of the Mustagh Pass, we come to an icy realm which 


has about it, above every other region, the impress of 
both extreme remoteness and loftiest seclusion. As 
we ascend right up the glacier either the one coming 
down from the Mustagh Pass or the one to the east 
running parallel with the general line of the Kara- 
koram Range we feel not only far away from but 
also high above the rest of the world. And we 
seem to have risen to an altogether purer region. 
Especially if we sleep in the open, without any tent, 
with the mountains always before us, with the 
stars twinkling brightly above us, do we have this 
sense of having ascended to a loftier and serener 

At the heads of these glaciers there is little else 
but snow and ice. The moraines have almost dis- 
appeared or, rather, have hardly yet come into 
being. And the mountains are so deeply clothed 
in ice and snow, it is only when they are extremely 
steep that rock appears. The glacier-filled valley 
below and the mountain above are therefore almost 
purely white. The atmosphere, too, is marvellously 
clear, so that by day the mountains and glaciers 
glitter brightly in the sunshine, and at night the 
stars shine out with diamond brilliance. The effect 
on a moonlight night is that of fairyland. We see 
the mountains as clearly as we would by the daylight 
of many regions, but the light is now all silver, and 
the mountains not solid and substantial but ethereal 
as in a vision. 

The pureness of the beauty is unspotted. It is 
the direct opposite of the voluptuous beauty of 
Kashmir. No one would come here for repose and 
holiday. But we like to have been there once. 


We like to have attained even once in a lifetime to 
a world so refined and pure. 

Cold it may be and dangerous. But we soon 
forget the cold. And the dangers only string us 
up to meet them, so that we are in a peculiarly alert, 
observant mood. And we have a secret joy in 
watching Nature in her most threatening aspects 
and in measuring ourselves against her. 

White it may be, but not colourless. For 
the whiteness of the snow is most exquisitely 
tinged with blue. The lakelets on the glacier 
are of deepest blue. They are encircled by minia- 
ture cliffs of ice of transparent green. The blue- 
ness of the sky is of a depth only seen in the highest 
regions. And the snowy summits of the mountains 
are tinged at sunset and dawn with finest flush of 
rose and primrose. So with all the whiteness there 
is, too, the most delicate colouring. 

Standing thus on the glacier and looking up to 
the snowy peaks all round us, we think how, wholly 
unobserved by men, they have reared themselves to 
these high altitudes and there remain century by 
century unseen by any human being. From deep 
within the interior of the earth they have arisen. 
And they are only touched by the whitest snow- 
flakes. They are only touched by snowflakes 
fashioned from the moisture which the sun's rays 
have raised off the surface of the Indian Ocean, and 
which the monsoon winds have transported in in- 
visible currents, high above the plains of India, till 
they are gently precipitated on these far-distant 


"Blessed are the pure in heart," we are told, 
"for they shall see God." And blessed are they 
who are able to ascend to a region like this, for here 
they cannot but be pure in heart, and cannot help 
seeing God. For the time being at least, they have 
to be pure. In the spotless purity of that region 
they cannot harbour any thought that is sordid or 
unclean. And they pray that ever after they may 
maintain what they have reached. For they know 
that if they could maintain it they would see 
beauties which in the murky state of common life 
it is impossible to perceive. In the white purity 
which this high region exacts they are forced to 
pierce through the superficial and unimportant and 
they catch sight of the real. 

They are in a remote and lofty solitude, and in 
touch with the naked elementals of which the world 
has built itself. But they do not feel alone. They 
feel themselves in a great Presence, and in a 
Presence with which they are most intimately in 
touch. And it is no dread Presence, but one which 
they delight to feel. Holiness is its essence, and 
their souls are purged and purified. They are suf- 
fused with it ; it enters deeply into them, and 
translates them swiftly upward. 



THE remote glacier region gives us a sense of purity, 
and gives us, too, a vision of colour in its finest 
delicacy. But for depth, extent, and brilliancy of 
colour we must look to sunsets and sunsets in those 
high desert regions where the outlook is widest and 
the atmosphere clearest. 

In deserts everywhere marvellous sunsets may 
be seen, for the comparative absence of moisture in 
the atmosphere and the presence of invisible 
particles of dust gives these sunsets an especial 
brilliancy. In the middle of the day a desert in its 
uniform brownness is dreary and monotonous to a 
degree. But at dawn and sunset when the sun's 
rays slant across the scene the desert glows with 
colour of every shade and hue and in ever-changing 
combination. In the Gobi Desert of Central Asia, 
in the Egyptian Desert, in the Arabian Desert, in 
Arizona, I have seen sunsets that thrill one with 
delight. But nowhere have I seen more glorious 
sunsets than in the highlands of Tibet. And what 
makes them there so remarkable is that the plains 
themselves are 15,000 feet above sea-level, so that 
the atmosphere is exceptionally clear. Great dis- 
tances are therefore combined with unusual clear- 
ness. The country is open enough and the air clear 


enough for us to see far distances. And extent is 
a prime essential in the glory of a sunset. 

It is difficult to make those who have never been 
outside Europe understand what sunsets can be. 
In England, as Turner has shown, there are sunsets 
to be seen containing in abundance many such 
elements of beauty as varied and varying and 
great extent of colour. But the atmosphere here 
is so thick that the colours appear as if thrown on to 
a solid background. So the sunsets look opaque. 
On the continent of Europe the atmosphere is 
clearer and the opaqueness less pronounced. The 
colouring is in consequence more vivid. But 
except in high Alpine regions the clearness does 
not approach the clearness of Tibet. And neither 
in England nor on the Continent do we get the 
great distances of desert sunsets. And great dis- 
tances increase immeasurably that feeling of infinity 
which is the chief glory in a sunset. 

The clearness of the atmosphere is important in 
this respect also, that it produces the effect upon 
the colours of the sunset that they seem more like 
the colours we see in precious stones than the colours 
a painter throws on a canvas. There is no milki- 
ness or murkiness in them. The sky is so clear that 
we see a colour as we see the red in a ruby. We 
see deep into the colour. The colour comes right 
out of the sky and has not the appearance of being 
merely plastered on the surface. 

And the variety of the colours and the rapidity 
with which they change and merge and mingle into 
one another is another wonder of these desert sun- 
sets. It would be wholly impossible to paint a 


picture of them which would adequately express the 
impression they give, for the main impression is 
derived from light, and the colours are therefore far 
more glowing than they could ever be reproduced 
on canvas. Nor can the changing effects be repro- 
duced on a stationary medium. The nearest ap- 
proach to the glory of a Tibet sunset which I have 
seen is a picture in pastel by Simon de Bussy of 
a sunset in the Alps. But all pictures even 
Turner's can only draw attention to the glory 
and show us what to look for. They cannot repro- 
duce the impression in full. The medium through 
which the artist has to work the paints and the 
canvas are inadequate for his needs. 

If we try to describe the impression in words 
we are no better off. We can, indeed, compare the 
sunset colours with the colours of flowers and 
precious stones. But here also we miss the light 
which is the very foundation of the sunset beauties. 
And we have neither the changefulness nor the vast 
extent of the sunset colouring. 

To get the least idea of the variety of colours 
mixing, merging, and intermingling with one an- 
other we must go to the opal, though even there 
there is not the intensity of colour, and of course 
not the change nor extent. From an orange 
especially a blood orange we get a notion of the 
combined reds and yellows of the sunsets, though 
the reds may range deeper than orange into the reds 
of the ruby or the cardinal flower, and lighter into 
the pinks of the rose or the carnation ; and the yel- 
lows range from the gold of the escholtzia to the 
delicate hue of the primrose. And for the trans- 


lucency of their yellower effects we must bring in 
the amber. Often there is a green which can only 
be matched by jade or emerald. And sometimes 
there is an effect with which only the amethyst can 
be compared. Then there are mauves and purples 
for which the precious stones have no parallel, and of 
which heliotrope, the harebell, and the violet give 
us the best idea. And the blues range from the 
deep blue of the sapphire and the gentian to the 
light blue of the turquoise and the forget-me-not. 

In these stones and flowers we get something 
near the actual colour, but the depth, the clearness, 
the luminosity, and the vast extent are all wanting, 
and these are all essential features of the sunset's 
glories. So we must imagine all these colours glow- 
ing with light and never still perpetually changing 
from one to the other and shading off from one into 
the other, one colour emerging, rising to the 
dominant position, and then disappearing to give 
place to another, and effecting these changes im- 
perceptibly yet rapidly also, for if we take our eyes 
away for even a few minutes .we find that the aspect 
has altogether altered. 

From my camp in Tibet for weeks together I 
could be sure of witnessing every evening one of 
these glorious sunsets. For while the mighty mon- 
soon clouds used to roll up on to the line of Hima- 
layan peaks and pile themselves up there, billow 
upon billow, in magnificent array, dark and fearful 
in the general mass, but clear-edged and silver- 
tipped along the summits, yet beyond that line, in 
Tibet, the sky was nearly always clear and blue of 
the bluest. With nothing whatever to impede my 


view no trees, nor houses, nor fences, nor obstacles 
of any kind I could look out far over these open 
plains to distant hills; beyond them, again, to 
Mount Everest a hundred miles away ; beyond it, 
again, to still more distant mountains ; and, finally, 
behind them into the setting sun. And these far 
hills and snowy mountains, seen as they were across 
an absolutely open plain, seemed not to impede the 
view but only to heighten the impression of great 
distance. The eye would be led on from feature 
to feature , each receding farther into the distance 
till it seemed only a step from the farthest snowy 
mountain into the glowing sun itself. 

Every evening, whenever I could, I used to walk 
out alone into the open plain to feast my soul on 
the splendid scene. In the stern glacier region 
round K 2 I had had to brace myself up and to sum- 
mon up all that was toughest within me in order to 
cope with the terribly exacting conditions in which 
I found myself. In the presence of these calm but 
fervent sunsets there was a different feeling. I had 
a sense of expansion, a longing to let myself go. 
And I would feel myself craving to let myself go 
out all I could into these glowing depths of light 
and colour, and trying to open myself out to their 
beauty, that as much as possible of it should flow 
into me and glorify my whole being. I had the 
feeling that in those sunsets there was any 
length for my soul to go out to that there was 
infinite room there for the soul's expansion. There 
was inexhaustible glory for the soul to absorb, and 
the soul was thirsting for it and could never have 


Evening after evening came to me, too quite 
unconsciously, and as it were inevitably Shelley's 
words (slightly altered) : 

" Be thou, spirit bright, 
My spirit ! Be thou me, most glorious one ! 
Be through my lips to unawakened earth 
The trumpet of a prophecy." 

It was not that there was any particular message 
that I had to give. But there was aroused in me 
just this simple, insistent longing to let others know 
what glory there was in the world, and to be able 
to communicate to them something of the joy I 
was then feeling in beholding it. I was highly 
privileged in having this opportunity of witnessing 
a Tibetan sunset's splendours. I was yearning for 
others to share my enjoyment with me. 

The white radiance of the glacier region instils 
into us a sense of purity, and without the purity 
of heart which that stern region exacts we cannot 
see the sunset's glory in all its fulness. But now 
in these Tibetan sunsets we have not purity alone, 
but warmth and richness as well. They give an 
impression of infinity of glory. We catch alight 
from their consuming glory, and our hearts flame 
up in correspondence with them. The fervent 
glow in the Heart of Nature kindles a like glow in 
our own hearts; and we are enraptured by the 

On our misty island we are apt to connect sun- 
sets with coming darkness and a black end of things. 
And in gazing on them we are prone to have a sense 
of sadness mingled with our joy. They seem to 


mean for us a passage from light to darkness, and 
from life to death. 

But in the deserts we have no such feeling. As 
day imperceptibly fades away it is not black dark- 
ness that succeeds, but a light that enables us to see 
farther, a mellower light that enables us to see 
the Universe at large. From this earthly life we 
are transported to a higher, intenser, ampler life 
among the stars. 

And it is in the desert that we best live among 
the stars. In Europe we look up into the sky 
between trees and houses ; and among the clouds 
and through a murky atmosphere we see a few stars. 
Even when we have a clear sky we seldom get a 
chance of seeing the whole expanse of the heavens 
all the way round. And even if we get this rare 
chance of a clear sky and a wide horizon we do not 
live with the stars in the open the night through and 
night after night. 

In the Gobi Desert I had this precious oppor- 
tunity. And I had it when my whole being was 
tuned up to highest pitch. I was not in the limp 
state of one who steps out into his garden and looks 
up casually to the stars. I was tense with high 
enterprise. I was passing through unknown coun- 
try on a journey across the Chinese Empire from 
Peking to India. I was keen and alive in every 
faculty, in a state of high exhilaration, and both 
observant and receptive. It was a rare chance, and 
much I wish now I had made more of it. 

My party in crossing the Gobi Desert consisted 
only of a Chinese guide, a Chinese servant, and a 
Mongol camel-man. As I had no European com- 


panion I was driven in upon myself. I had to 
explore a route never before traversed by Euro- 
peans, and the distance to be covered across the 
open steppes of Mongolia and over the Gobi Desert 
to the first town in Turkestan was twelve hundred 
miles. Beyond that was the whole length of 
Turkestan and the six-hundred-mile breadth of the 
Himalaya to be crossed before I should reach India. 
So I had a big task before me, and was stirring with 
the sense of high adventure and vast distances to 

To enable my eight camels to feed by daylight, 
I used to start at five o'clock in the afternoon and 
march till one or two in the morning. Sometimes 
in order to reach water we had to march all through 
the night and well into the following day. Fre- 
quently there were terrific sandstorms, but there 
were seldom any clouds. So the atmosphere was 
clear. In the distance were sometimes hills. But 
for the most part all round the desert was abso- 
lutely open. I could see for what seemed an in- 
definite distance in any direction. The conditions 
were ideal for observing the stars. 

Seated on my camel, or trudging along apart 
from my little caravan, I would watch the sun set 
in always varying splendour. No two sunsets 
were anything like the same. Each through the 
ascendancy of some one shade of colour, or through 
an unusual combination of colour, had a special 
beauty of its own. I would watch each ripening 
to the climax and then shade away into the beauty 
of the night. And when the day was over the night 
would reveal that higher, wider life which daylight 
only served to hide. 


The sunset glow would fade away. Star after 
star would spring into sight till the whole vault of 
heaven was glistening with diamond points of light. 
Above me and all round me stars were shining out 
of the deep sapphire sky with a brilliance only sur- 
passed by the stars in the high Himalayan solitudes 
I have already described. And a great stillness 
would be over all a silence even completer than 
the silence among the mountains, for there it was 
often broken by creaking of the ice, whereas here 
in the desert it was so profound that, when at the end 
of many weeks I arrived at a patch of grass and 
trees, the twittering of the birds and the whirr of 
insects sounded like the roar of a London street. 

In this unbroken stillness and with the eye free 
to rove all round with nothing in any direction to 
stay its vision, and being as I was many weeks' 
distance from any settled human habitation, I often 
had the feeling of being more connected with the 
starry firmament than with this Earth. In a 
curious way the bodily and the material seemed to 
exist no longer, and I would be in spirit among the 
stars. They served to guide us over the desert and 
I gradually became familiar with them. And I 
used to feel as much a part of the Stellar World as 
of this Earth. I lost all sense of being confined to 
Earth and took my place in the Universe at large. 
My home was the whole great Cosmos before me. 
The Cosmos, and not the Earth, was the whole to 
which I belonged. 

And in that unbroken quiet and amid this bright 
company of heaven my spirit seemed to become 
intenser and more daring. Right high up in the 



zenith, to infinite height, it would soar unfettered. 
And right round to any distance in any direction it 
would pierce its way. The height and distance of 
the highest and farthest stars I knew had been 
measured. I knew that the resulting number of 
miles is something so immense as to be altogether 
beyond human conception. I knew also that the 
number of stars, besides those few thousands 
which I saw, had to be numbered in hundreds 
of millions. All this was astonishing, and the 
knowledge of it filled me with wonder at the im- 
mensity of the Starry Universe. But it was not 
the mere magnitude of this world that impressed 
me. What stirred me was the Presence, subtly 
felt, of some mighty all-pervading Influence which 
ordered the courses of the heavenly hosts and per- 
meated every particle. 

We cannot watch the sun go down day after 
day, and after it has set see the stars appear, rise to 
the meridian and disappear below the opposite 
horizon in regular procession, without being im- 
pressed by the order which prevails. We feel that 
the whole is kept together in punctual fashion, and 
is not mere chaos and chance. The presence of 
some Power upholding, sustaining, and directing 
the whole is deeply impressed upon us. And in 
this Presence so steadfast, so calm, so constant, 
we feel soothed and steadied. The frets and pains 
of ordinary life are stilled. Deep peace and satis- 
faction fill our souls. 

Sandstorms so terrific that we cannot stand 
before them or see a thing a foot or two distant 
come whirling across the desert, and all for the time 


seems turmoil and confusion and nothing is visible. 
But behind all we know the stars still pursue their 
mighty way. At the back of everything we realise 
there is a Power constant and dependable in whom 
we can absolutely put our trust. 

This is the impression the impression of stead- 
fastness, constancy, and reliability which a nightly 
contemplation of the stars makes upon us. At 
the foundation of things is something dependable, 
something in which we can repose our faith. 
And so the sense of calm and confidence we feel. 

And in the desert we have no feeling that the 
stars pursue their course in cold indifference to us 
that the Power which sustains them works its soul- 
less way unregardful of the frettings of us little 
men. Not thus are we who watch the desert stars 
impressed. Quite otherwise. For nowhere do we 
feel the Influence nearer, more intimate or more 
beneficent. We seem in the very midst of the great 
Presence. We are immersed in it. It is pervad- 
ing us on every side. We do not expect it to alter 
the whole course of Nature for our private good. 
But we feel confident that the course of Nature is 
for good that Nature is a beneficent and no callous 
Power, and has good at heart. Because the founda- 
tions are so sure and good we can each pursue our 
way in confidence. This is the impression we get. 

And the Power which guides the stars upon 
their heavenly way, and which, in guiding them, 
guides us across the desert, does not reside, we feel, 
in lonely grandeur in the empty places of the 
heavens, but in the stars themselves in their very 
constitution in each individually and in all in their 



togetherness. It burns in each star and shines 
forth from it, and yet holds the whole together as 
we see it every night in that circling vault around 
us. The Activity does not appear to us to 
emanate from some Invisible Being dwelling 
wholly apart and isolated from the stars and this 
Earth, and sending forth invisible spiritual rays, 
as the Sun stands apart from the Earth but sends 
out rays of sunlight to it. It seems rather to dwell 
in the very heart and centre of each star, and the 
stars seem spiritual rather than material beings. So 
this Power, as we experience it in the desert, does 
not impress us as being awful and remote, gloomy 
and inexorable, enforcing unbending law and exact- 
ing terrible penalties. Our impression of it is that, 
though it preserves order with unfailing regularity, 
it is yet near and kindly, radiating with light and 
warmth. We not only feel it to be something 
steadfast, something on which we can rely and in 
which we may have confidence ; we also feel warmed 
and kindled by it. 

So what we get from a nightly contemplation of 
the stars is a sense of happy companionship with 
Nature. The Heart of Nature as here revealed is 
both dependable and kindly. Nature is our friend. 
And in her certain friendship the balm of peace falls 
softly on us. Our hearts blend tenderly with the 
Heart of Nature ; and in their union we see Beauty 
of the gentlest and most reassuring kind. 



THE Artist in his quest for Natural Beauty will have 
pursued it in the remotest and wildest parts of the 
Earth, where he can see Nature in her primeval and 
most elemental simplicity. He will have seen her 
in many and most varied aspects the grandest, the 
wildest, and the most luxuriant. And from these 
numerous and so different manifestations of Nature 
he will have been enabled more fully to understand 
her meaning and comprehend her soul. Moreover, 
this contemplation of Nature will have evoked from 
within himself much that he had never suspected he 
possessed, and thereby his own soul also he will have 
learned to understand. And from this completer 
comprehension of his own soul and hers will have 
emerged a fuller community of heart between 
him and Nature. He will have come to worship 
her with a still more ardent devotion, and through 
the intensity of his love discovered richer and richer 
Beauty in her. 

But even yet he has not seen Natural Beauty 
where it can be found in its highest perfection. 
Only when there can be the most intimate possible 
relationship between him and the natural object he 
is contemplating can Beauty at its finest be seen. 
And this closest correspondence of all between him 


and Nature will only be when he is in the natural 
surroundings with which he has been familiar from 
childhood, and which have affected him in his most 
impressionable years. 

The Artist will have seen Nature as she mani- 
fests herself in the teeming life of a tropical forest 
and the most varied races of men ; in the highest 
mountains and the widest deserts ; in the glory of 
sunsets and the calm of stars. But it is in none of 
these that he will see deepest into the true Heart 
of Nature and understand her best. It is amid 
scenery which he has loved since boyhood, in the 
hearts of his own countrymen in their own country, 
that he will see deepest into Nature. And deepest 
of all will he see when from among his country- 
women he has united himself to the one of his own 
deliberate choice, and in this union realised in its 
fulness, strength, and intensity that Creative Love 
which springs from Nature's very heart, and is the 
ultimate fount and source of all Natural Beauty. 

We like to go out over all the Earth and see the 
wonders of it. And we learn to love the great 
mountains and rich forests and unfenced steppes 
and veldts and prairies. And we get to love also 
the various peoples among whom we have to work 
and travel. But in his heart of hearts each man 
likes to get back to the scenes of his childhood. 
The plainsman likes to get back again from the 
mountains to his level plains where the scene is 
closer and more intimate. The mountaineer likes 
to retire again from the plains into the mountains. 
The dweller on the veldt likes to get out of the 
forest on to the great open spaces once more. The 


inhabitant of the forest likes to get back there again 
from the plains. And the Englishman, though he 
loves the Alps and the Himalaya, is touched by 
nothing so deeply as by a Devonshire lane with 
its banks of primroses and violets. And he may 
have the greatest affection for peoples of other races 
among whom he may have had to work, yet it is his 
own countrymen that he will always really love. 

So the Artist comes back to home surroundings 
and his own people. And he will return with his 
sense of beauty quickened and refined by this wide 
and varied experience of Nature. His sensibility 
to the beauties of Nature will now be of rarest 
delicacy, and his capacity for fine discrimination and 
his feeling for distinction and excellence sure and 

He will have been toned and tuned up to the 
highest pitch in his wrestling with Nature, and 
will have been purged and purified in the white 
region of the highest mountains. And in this high- 
strung state he will now see that creation and mani- 
festation of Nature which of all natural objects will 
best declare her meaning, bring him into closer touch 
with her very Heart, and stir in him the deepest 
emotions. Between him and this object there will 
be possible the closest community of soul. Here 
then he will see Natural Beauty at its very finest. 

The natural object in which he will see this 
consummation of Beauty will be the woman who 
will be to him a kindred spirit, and whom he will 
first admire and then love. 

It was through the love of man and woman for 
each other in the far-off ages when love first came 


into the hearts of men that Natural Beauty also first 
dawned upon them. It is through that love that 
Natural Beauty has been continually growing in 
fulness and splendour. And it will be through that 
same love of man and woman for each other that 
the Artist will see Natural Beauty reach its highest 
perfection. For in this love man first learned to 
enter into the soul of another, to recognise same- 
nesses between himself and another, and to live in 
communion with another. And so in time he came 
to recognise samenesses between what was in his 
heart and what was in the Heart of Nature, to enter 
into communion with Nature, and through the 
wedding of himself with Nature see the Beauty in 
her. He was able in some slight degree to be 
towards Nature what we see the midge buzzing 
round a man must be if that midge is to see the 
beauty of man. Just as the midge, if it is to see the 
beauty in man, must be able to recognise same- 
nesses between its life and the life of man, so man 
to see Beauty in Nature had to recognise identity 
of life between him and Nature as he was first in- 
spired to see it through the love of man and woman 
for each other. And now the Artist with his wide 
experience of Nature and united with his own 
countrywoman in his own country will recognise a 
still closer identity between himself and Nature, 
and so see an even fuller Beauty in her. 

Assuming the man and woman, both by their 
upbringing and by outward circumstances, to have 
been able to develop the best capacities within them 
and to be meeting now under conditions most 
favourable for their union, we shall see how perfect 


is the Beauty which may be revealed. The man 
will be in the prime of his manhood, and the 
woman in the prime of her womanhood. The 
man manly and radiating manhood, the woman 
womanly and radiating womanhood : their man- 
hood and womanhood welling up within them, 
each eager to answer the call of the other. 

Hers will be no light and shallow beauty insipid 
as milk and water, but will be sweet as the violet, 
delicate as the primrose, pure as the lily, yet with 
all the sweetness, delicacy and purity, radiant as the 
sunrise. And they will be no pale and puny lovers, 
soft and mild as doves, and content to lead a dull 
and trivial life. They will be high of spirit, grace- 
ful, swift, and supple as the greyhound; and as 
keenly intent on living a full and varied life with 
every moment of it worth while as ever the grey- 
hound is in pursuing its object. They will be cap- 
able of intense and passionate emotion, yet with all 
their eager impulsiveness they will have wills strong 
to keep themselves in hand, and to maintain their 
direction true through all the mazy intricacies of life 
and love. 

In the bringing together of such a pair Natural 
Beauty will play a vitally important part. Of all 
objects that Nature has produced of all the off- 
spring of the Earth such a man and woman are the 
most beautiful. And we may assume that as 
they are drawn to each other they will put forth 
the very best of themselves and give out the utmost 
beauty that is in them. Moreover, they will be 
more beautiful to each other than they are to any- 
body else. Unconsciously they will reveal to each 


other what they can reveal to none other but 
themselves. Insensibly the windows of their souls 
will be opened to each other. The lovelight in 
their eyes the lovelight which can only be shown 
to each other will discover to them hidden depths 
of beauty they had never gathered they possessed. 
And this beauty will be something more than 
mere prettiness or handsomeness of face. The 
man will see the beauty of the woman and she 
his not only in the face and features, but in the 
presence, bearing, and carriage, in the gestures, 
movements, and behaviour. Behind the outward 
aspect he will see the inward spirit, the real self, 
the true nature, the radiant personality. And the 
beauty that he sees will fill him with a passionate 
yearning, both to give and to possess. He will want 
both to give the utmost and best of himself, and also 
to possess what so satisfies all the cravings of the 
soul. And whether it be to give or to possess that 
he most wants he will be unable to distinguish. But, 
in the craving to give and possess, the highest stimu- 
lus will be afforded him to exert every faculty to its 
limit. The effort will give zest, and with zest will 
come added powers of vision, so that he will be able 
to see both her and his inmost and utmost capabili- 
ties. And though the force of outward circum- 
stances may prevent both her and him from ever 
completely fulfilling those latent possibilities, what 
they see of themselves and of each other in those 
divine moments may nevertheless be a perfectly true 
vision of their real and fundamental nature. Love 
is not so blind as is supposed. Love is capable of 
seeing clearer and deeper than any other faculty. 


What the Artist now sees with the eyes of 
Love will be the ground upon which he will have 
to form his judgment in the most critical decision 
of his life. For the moment will now have 
come when he will have to decide whether of all 
others he will give himself to her, and whether 
he can presume to ask of her that she will give 
herself to him and each to the other for all the 
rest of their lives. It is a momentous decision to 
have to make. With his highly developed power 
of vision he will have divined her true nature. But 
he will have now to exercise his judgment on it 
whether it will satisfy the needs of his whole being 
and whether his whole being is sufficient to satisfy 
her needs. Each has to be sure that his peculiar 
nature satisfies and satisfies fully his or her own 
peculiar needs, and that his peculiar nature satisfies 
the other's needs. A wrong decision here is fatal. 
The responsibility is fearful. All will depend upon 
his keenness of vision, his capacity for discrimina- 
tion, and his soundness of judgment. The decision 
may be arrived at swiftly and consciously, or it may 
be come to unconsciously, gradually, and imper- 
ceptibly. But shorter or longer the time, con- 
sciously or unconsciously the method, it will have 
in the end to be made in a perfectly definite 
fashion yes or no and from that decision there 
can be no going back. And on that clear decision 
will hang the future welfare not only of the one 
who makes it, but of both. Each, therefore, has 
to decide for the welfare of both. 

This is the real Day of Judgment. And each 
is his own judge. Now all his and her past life 


and inborn nature is being put to the test in a 
fierce ordeal and the fiery ordeal of love is more 
searching even than the ordeal of war. Every 
smallest blot and blemish, every slightest impurity 
is shown up in startling clearness. Every flaw at 
once betrays itself. What will not bear a strain 
immediately breaks down. There is not an imper- 
fection which is not glaringly displayed. The 
other may not see it, but he himself will and 
upon him is the responsibility. 

No wonder that both the one and the other 
hesitate to commit themselves finally and irre- 
vocably ! Can he with all his blots and blemishes, 
his failings and weaknesses, offer to give himself 
to the other? Is he worthy to receive all that he 
would expect to receive in return? Is he justified 
in asking that the w r hole being and the most sacred 
thing in life should be given over utterly to him? 
It seems astounding that any man should ever have 
the impudence to answer such questions in the 
affirmative. Doubtless he would not have had 
such effrontery but for two considerations. 

In the first place he knows that, imperfect as 
he may be downright sinful as he may often have 
been he is not bad at bottom. At heart, he knows 
for certain he has capacities for improvement which 
would come at once into being if only they had 
the opportunity for development. And he knows 
that the other could make those opportunities 
could provide the stimulus which would awaken in 
him and bring to fruit many a hidden capability 
of good. Every faculty in him he now feels being 
quickened to an activity never known before. 


Blemishes he feels being purged away in the 
cleansing fires of pure love. He feels that with 
the other he will be, as he has never been before, 
his whole and his true self. And this is the first 
consideration which gives him confidence. 

The second is that he feels himself now to a 
very special degree in direct and intimate touch 
with the central Heart of Nature. Something 
from what he feels by instinct is the Divine Source 
of Life and Love comes springing up within him, 
penetrating him through and through, supporting 
and upholding him and urging him forward. He 
feels that he directly springs from that Source, and 
that it will ever sustain him as long as he is true 
to his own real self, and works for those high ends 
towards which he feels himself impelled. 

With strong faith, then, he makes his decision 
with strong faith in himself, for he knows himself 
to be inspired by the same great Spirit which 
animates the whole world of which he is himself 
a part. And having in this faith made his decision, 
he girds himself for the poignant battle of love. 

And as in war so in love men and women 
rise to altogether unexpected heights of courage, 
endurance, and devotion. War is a fine spur to 
excellence. But love is an even finer. Every 
faculty is quickened and refined. Every "high 
quality brought into fullest exercise. Daring and 
caution, utter disregard of self and selfishness in 
the extreme, are alike required. For the two will 
never achieve full wedded union until they have 
fought their way through many an interposing 
obstacle. Adroitness, and that rare quality, social 


courage, will be needed in dealing with ever- 
recurring, complicated, painful, and nerve-straining 
situations. Even in their attitude towards one 
another as they gradually come together the finest 
address will be required. For each has necessarily 
to be comparing himself and comparing the object 
of his love with others ; and each feels that he is 
being similarly compared. There can be no final 
assurance till the union is completed. A single ill- 
judged word or action may ruin all. At any 
moment another may be preferred or at least one 
of the two may find the other inadequate or de- 

All this will afford the highest stimulus to 
emulation. Each will strive to excel in what the 
other approves and appreciates or at any rate to 
excel in what is his own particular line. He will 
be incited to show himself at his best and to be 
his best. 

But before the bliss of completest union is 
attained anguish and rapture in exquisite extremes 
will be experienced. For the soul of each will be 
exposed in all its quivering sensitiveness, and any 
but the most delicate touch will be a torture to it. 
Fortitude of the firmest will be required to bear 
the wounds which must necessarily come from this 
exposure. Each, too, will have to bear the pain 
of the suffering they must inevitably be causing 
to some few others and those others among their 
very dearest. 

As the intimacy of union becomes closer and 
closer the call for bodily union will become more and 
more insistent. In the first instance and this is 


a point which is specially worth noting the desire 
was entirely for spiritual union, for union of the 
spirits of each. What each admired and loved in 
the other was his or her capacity for love. He 
realised what a wonderful love the other could give. 
And he yearned with all his heart to have that love 
directed towards himself. It was a purely spiritual 
union that his heart was set on. The thought of 
bodily union did not enter his head. But the need 
for bodily touch as a means of expressing human 
feeling is inherent in human nature, and becomes 
more and more urgent as the feeling becomes 
warmer. Friends have to shake hands with each 
other and pat each other on the back in order to 
show the warmth of their feeling for one another. 
Women affectionately embrace one another. 
Parents and children, brothers and sisters, kiss 
one another. It is impossible adequately to express 
affection without bodily touch. And in the case of 
lovers, as the love deepens so also deepens the com- 
pelling need to express this love in bodily union of 
the closest possible. 

And so the supreme moment arrives when each 
gives himself wholly, utterly, and for ever to the 
other body, soul, and spirit and they twain are 
one. And the remarkable result ensues that each 
in giving himself to the other has become more 
completely and truly himself than he has ever been 
before. He strives to become more and more 
closely wedded with the other. He yearns to give 
himself more completely and longs that there was 
more of himself to give. And he gives him- 
self as completely as he can. Yet he has never 


before been so fully himself. The closeness and 
intimacy of the union, and all that he has received, 
has enabled him to bring forth and give utterance 
to what had lain deep and dormant within him 
all his fondest hopes, his dearest dreams, his highest 
aspirations. Each is more himself in the other. 
He is, indeed, not himself without the other. Each 
has won possession of the other. Each has with joy 
and gladness given himself to the other. Each be- 
longs to the other. Each is all the world to the 
other a treasure without price. He is ever after 
in her as her own being. And she is in him as 
his own being. Apart from each other they are 
never again themselves. They are absorbed in 
mutual joy in one another. 

The intensity of delight is more than they can 
bear. It brims up and overflows and goes bursting 
out to all the world. By being able to be their whole 
selves they have become more closely in touch with 
the deepest Heart of Nature and nearest the Divine. 
In that hushed and sacred moment when the ecstasy 
of life and love is at its highest they have never felt 
stronger, purer, lighter, nearer the Divine. They 
have reached deep down to the most elemental part 
of their nature. And they have soared up highest 
to the most Divine. But Divine and elemental, 
spiritual and bodily, seem one. There seems to be 
nothing bodily which is not spiritual. And nothing 
elemental which is not Divine. 

It is not often that they will attain these 
culminating heights of spiritual exaltation. Nor 
will they be able long to remain there. The lark, 
the eagle, the airman, have all to come to earth 


again. And they spend most of their lives on the 
earth. But the lovers will have known what it is 
to soar. They will have found their wings. They 
will have seen heaven once, and breathed its air. 
And all nature, all human relationships, will be for 
ever after transfigured in heaven's light. 

The state of being to which these twain have 
now arrived is the highest and best in life. This 
spiritual union of man and woman this union of 
their souls which their bodily union has made 
possible in completeness is that which of all else 
has most value. The friendship of men for men 
and women for women is high up in the scale of 
being. But it is not at the supreme summit. The 
holy union of man and woman is higher still, 
because it is a relation of the whole being of each 
to the other, and because it brings both into direct 
and closest contact with the Primal Source of 
Things, and on the line which points them highest. 
The relationship satisfies the whole needs of the 
selves of each and satisfies the urgency of the Heart 
of Nature. 

So now our Artist will have experienced true 
spirituality in its highest degree ; and having experi- 
enced also the most elemental in his nature, he 
will perforce have come in touch with Nature along 
her whole range. And his soul being at the finest 
pitch of sensitiveness, he will be able to appreciate 
Natural Beauty as never before. And nothing less 
than natural beauties, and nothing less than these 
beauties at their best, will in his exalted mood be 
satisfying to him. He will be driven irresistibly 



into the open air and the warm sunshine, and to 
the bosom of Mother-Earth. And there in the 
blue of heaven and in dreamy clouds ; in the wide sea, 
or in tranquil lakes; in ethereal mountains or in 
verdant woodlands ; in the loveliness of flowers, and 
in the music of the birds, he will find that which his 
spirit seeks that to which his spirit wants to give 
response. Only there in the open, in the midst 
of Nature, will he find horizons wide enough, 
heights high enough, beauties rich enough, for his 
soul's needs. 

The flowers as he looks into them will disclose 
glories of colour, texture, form, and fragrance he 
never yet had seen. The comely forms of trees, 
their varying greenery, and the dancing sunlight 
on the leaves, will fill him with an intensity of 
delight that heretofore he had never known. And 
as once more he goes among his fellow-men he 
will see them in a newer and a truer light. His 
contact with them will be easier; his friendships 
deeper; his certainty of affection surer; and his 
capacity for entering into every joy and sorrow 
immeasurably enlarged. 

Through his love, our ideal Artist will have been 
enabled to reach deeper into the Heart of Nature 
than he had ever reached before, and to feel 
more intimately at one with her. And being 
thus in warmest touch with her, Natural Beauty, 
strong, deep, and delicate as only finest love can 
disclose, will be revealed to him. Enjoyment of 
Natural Beauty in its perfection is the prize he will 
have won. 



THE Artist is now in a position to take stock of 
Nature as a whole, of her nature, methods, and 
manner of working, of the motives which actuate 
her of what, in short, she really is at heart. And 
having thus reviewed her, he will have to determine 
whether his wider and deeper knowledge of Nature 
confirms or detracts from the impression of her 
which he had gained from a contemplation of the 
forest's innumerable life. Upon this decision will 
depend his final attitude towards her. And upon 
his attitude towards her depends his capacity for 
enjoying Natural Beauty. For if he has any doubt 
in his mind as to the goodness of Nature or any 
hesitation about giving himself out to her, there 
is little prospect of his seeing Beauty in her. He 
will remain cold and unresponsive to her calls and 
enjoyment of Natural Beauty will not be for him. 
And each of us each for himself just as much 
as the Artist will have to make up his mind on this 
fundamental question. If we are to get the full 
enjoyment we should expect out of Natural Beauty 
we must have a clear and firm conception in our 
minds of what Nature really is, what is her essential 
character, whether at heart she is cold and callous 
or warm and loving. So far as we were justified in 



drawing conclusions regarding the character of 
Nature as a whole from what we saw of her mani- 
festations in the life of the forest, we came to the 
conclusion that she was not so hard and repellent 
as she assuredly would be to us if her guiding 
principle of action were the survival of the fittest. 
We inferred, rather, from our observations of her 
in the forest that she was actuated by an aspiration to- 
wards what we ourselves hold to be of most worth and 
value. We were therefore not disillusioned by closer 
familiarity with her, but more closely draw r n towards 
her, and therefore prepared to see more Beauty in 
her. Now we have to review Nature as a whole 
that is, in the Starry World as well as on this 
Earth and see if the same conclusions hold good, 
and if we are therefore justified in loving Nature, 
or if we should view her with suspicion and distrust, 
hold ourselves aloof from her, and cultivate a stoic 
courage in face of a Power whose character we 
must cordially dislike. 

There are men who hold that the appearance 
of life and love on this Earth is a mere flash in 
the pan. and comes about by pure chance. They 
believe that life will be extinguished in a twinkling 
as we collide with some other star, or will simply 
flicker out again as the Sun's heat dies down and 
the Earth becomes cold. If this view be correct, 
then that impression of the reliability and 
kindliness of Nature which we formed when con- 
templating the stars in the desert would be a false 
impression ; our feelings of friendship with Nature 
would at once freeze up and our vision of Beauty 
vanish like a wraith. 


Fortunately Truth and Knowledge do not deal 
so cruel a blow at Beauty. Far from it : they take 
her side. There are no grounds for supposing that 
either chance or mechanism produces spirit, or that 
from merely physical and chemical combinations 
spirit can emerge. Spirit is no casual by-product 
of mechanical or chemical processes. Spirit is the 
governing factor regulating and controlling the 
physical movements controlling them, indeed, with 
such orderliness that we may be apt from this very 
orderliness to regard the whole as a machine and fail 
to see that all is directed towards high spiritual ends. 

If we are to appeal to reason, it is much more 
reasonable to assume that spirit always existed, and 
that the conditions for the emergence of life were 
brought about on purpose, than to assume that 
spirit is a mere excretion, like perspiration, of 
chemical processes. Certainly the former assump- 
tions more clearly fit the facts of the case. For 
these facts are, firstly, that we spiritual selves exist, 
next that we have ideas of goodness and a deter- 
mination to achieve it, next that plant as well as 
animal life on this Earth is purposive, then that the 
stars, numbering anything from a hundred to a 
thousand million, each of them a sun and many of 
them presumably with planets, are made of the same 
materials as this Earth, the plants, animals, and 
ourselves are composed of; that these materials 
have the same properties ; that the same fundamen- 
tal laws of gravitation, heat, motion, chemical and 
electrical action prevail there as here; and lastly 
that they are all connected with the Earth by some 
medium or continuum of energies, which enables 


vibrations, of which the most obvious are the vibra- 
tions of light, to reach the Earth from them. These 
facts point towards the conclusion that the whole 
Universe, as well as ourselves and the animals and 
plants on this Earth, is actuated by spirit. Good- 
ness we have seen to be working itself out on the 
Earth ; and there is nothing we see in the world of 
stars that prevents us from concluding that in the 
Universe as well as on the Earth what should be is 
the ground of what is. 

Something higher than life, or life in some 
higher form than we know, may indeed have 
been brought into being among the stars. Life 
has appeared in an extraordinary variety of forms 
on this Earth, and it would necessarily appear in 
other forms elsewhere. And it is not difficult to 
imagine more perfect forms in which it might have 
developed. We men are the most highly developed 
beings on this planet. But our eyes and ears and 
other organs of sense take cognisance of only a few 
of the vibrations raining in upon our bodies from 
the outside world. There is a vast range of vibra- 
tions of the medium in which we are immersed of 
which our bodily organs take no cognisance what- 
ever. If we had better developed organs we would 
be in much more intimate touch with the world 
about us, and be aware of influences and existences 
we are blind to now. Beings with these superior 
faculties may very possibly have come into existence 
among the stars. 

Nor is there anything unreasonable in the 
assumption that from the inhabitants of these stars 
in their ensemble issue influences which directly 


affect conditions on this Earth ; that in the all in 
its togetherness is Purpose ; and that it was due to 
the working of this Purpose that conditions were 
produced on the Earth which made the emergence 
of life possible. To some it may seem that it was 
only by chance that the atoms and molecules hap- 
pened to come together in such a particular way that 
from the combination the emergence of life was pos- 
sible. To men of such restricted vision it would 
seem equally a matter of chance that a heavenly song 
resulted when a dozen choirboys came together, 
opened their mouths and made a noise. But men of 
wider vision would have seen that this song was no 
matter of chance, but was the result of the working 
out of a purpose ; that the choirboys were brought 
together for a purpose ; and that that purpose was 
resident in each of a large number of people 
scattered about a parish, but who, though scattered, 
were all animated by the same purpose of maintain- 
ing a choir to sing hymns. So it is not unreasonable 
to suppose that when the particles came together 
under conditions that life resulted, they had been 
brought together in those conditions to fulfil a 
purpose resident in each of a number of beings 
and groups of beings scattered about the Universe, 
but who, though scattered, were nevertheless 
animated by the same purpose. Anyhow, this 
seems a more reasonable assumption than the 
assumption that the particles came together by pure 

Beings with these superior faculties may very 
possibly have emerged among the stars. It would 
seem not at all improbable, therefore, that in some 


unrecognised ,way conditions on this Earth may 
be influenced in their general outlines by what is 
taking place in the Universe at large, in the same 
way as conditions in a village in India are affected 
by public opinion in England as epitomised in the 
decisions of the Cabinet. The remote Indian village 
is unaware that men in England have decided to 
grant responsible government to India in due 
course. And even if the villagers were told of this 
they would not realise the significance of the decision 
and how it would affect the fortunes of their village 
for good or ill during the next century or two. 
Conditions on this Earth may be similarly being 
affected by decisions made in other parts of the 
Universe decisions the significance of which we 
would be as totally unable to recognise as the 
Indian villagers are to recognise the significance of 
the steps towards self-government which have just 
been made. 

The Universe is so interconnected, and there 
is so much interaction between the parts and the 
whole, that the Earth may be more affected 
than we think by what goes on in the Universe at 
large. If there are higher levels of being among 
the stars, it may well be that the successive rises 
to higher levels on this Earth from inorganic to 
organic, from organic to mental, and from the 
mental to the spiritual have come about through 
this interaction between the parts and the whole. 
Conditions on this Earth may be more affected than 
we are aware of by the Universe in its ensemble, and 
by the actions of higher beings in other Earths. 

In this very matter of Beauty, for example, it 


may quite possibly be the case that our intimation 
of Beauty has been received through the influence 
upon the most sensitive among us of beings in 
other parts of the Universe. We may be as un- 
aware of the existence of those beings or of their 
having feelings towards us as the Indian villager 
is of the existence of the Cabinet in London or of 
the Cabinet's feelings towards him. But these 
stellar beings may be exerting their influence all 
the same. And it may be because of this influence 
that we men are able to see Beauty which escapes 
the eye of the eagle. Because of our higher recep- 
tiveness and responsiveness we may be able to 
receive and respond to spiritual calls from the Heart 
of Nature. And thus it may have been that we 
men learned to see Beauty, and now learn to see 
it more and more. There may be parts of the 
Universe where people live their lives in a blaze of 
Beauty, and are as anxious to impart to us their 
enjoyment of it as certain Freedom-loving English- 
men are to instil ideas of Freedom into the villagers 
of India. 

These, at any rate, are among the possibilities 
of existence. It would be the veriest chance if on 
this little speck of an Earth the highest beings of 
all had come to birth. It may be so, of course. 
But the probabilities seem to be enormously great 
against it. It seems far more probable that among 
the myriads of stars some higher beings than our- 
selves have come into existence, and that conditions 
on this Earth are affected by the influence which 
they exert. We are under no compulsion whatever 
to believe that we men are completely at the mercy 


of blind forces or that chance rules supreme in 
Nature. We have firm ground for holding that 
it is spirit which is supreme, and that every smallest 
part and the whole together are animated by 

So when we view Nature in the tropical forests 
and in barren deserts, in mountains and in plains, 
in meadows and in woodlands, in seas and in stars, 
in animals and in men, we do not see Nature as a 
confused jumble with all her innumerable parts 
come together in haphazard fashion as the grains 
of sand shovelled into a heap a chance aggregate 
of unrelated particles in which it is a mere toss-up 
which is next to which and how they are arranged. 
Nature is evidently not a chance collection of un- 
related particles. We came to that conclusion 
when studying the forest, and a study of the stars 
shows nothing to weaken that conclusion. Nature 
is animated by Purpose. 

Yet because Nature is animated by Purpose, 
we need not regard her as a machine, a piece of 
mechanism which has been designed and put 
together, wound up and set going by some outside 
mechanician, and regard ourselves as cogs on the 
wheels, watching all the other wheels go round and 
through the maze of machinery catching sight of 
the mechanician standing by and watching his 
handiwork. A cog on the wheel as it revolved 
would be rigidly confined in its operations : it 
would have no choice as to what means it should 
employ to carry out its end. Yet even plants have 
the power of choice, as we have seen, and use 
different means to achieve the same end. They 


also spend their entire lives in selecting and reject- 
ing in selecting and assimilating what will nourish 
their growth and enable them to propagate their 
kind, and in rejecting what would be useless or 
harmful. These are something more than 
mechanical operations ; and if Nature were a 
machine, not even plants, much less animals and 
men, could have been produced. The operations 
of Nature, though orderly, are not mechanical only, 
and we cannot regard Nature as a machine. 

And if Nature is purposive, she is at work at 
something more than the completion of a pre- 
arranged plan. We do not picture Nature as a 
structure, as a Cathedral, for example, designed 
by some super-architect, in process of construction. 
In a Cathedral each stone is perfectly and finally 
shaped and placed in a position in which it must 
ever after remain, and the whole shows signs of 
gradual completion as it is being built, and when 
it is built remains as it is. The architect has made 
and carried out his plan, and there is an end of the 
matter. It is not thus that we view Nature, for 
everywhere we see signs of perfectibility in the 
component parts and in the whole together. Only 
if the Cathedral had in it the power to be continually 
making its foundations deeper, to be ever towering 
higher, and to be perpetually shaping itself into 
sublimer form, should we look on Nature as a 
Cathedral. But in that case the mind of the 
architect would have to dwell in each stone and in 
all together, and the Cathedral would be something 
more than a structure in the ordinary use of the 


Nature is not a chance collection of particles, 
nor is she a mere machine, nor some kind of 
structure like a Cathedral in course of construction. 
But she is a Power of some kind, and what we have 
to determine is the kind of Power she is. Now we 
have seen that running through the life of the 
forest, controlling and directing the whole, is an 
Organising Activity. And our observation of the 
stars leads us to think that this same Organising 
Activity runs through them also. There is quite 
evidently an Activity at work keeping the whole 
together the particles which go to form great 
suns, the particles which go to form a flower, and 
the particles which go to form a man; and all in 
their togetherness. Only we would not look upon 
this Activity as working anywhere outside Nature : 
we would look for it within her. We would not 
regard it as emanating from some kind of spiritual t 
central sun situated among the stars midway 
between us and the farthest star we see as irradiat- 
ing from some sort of centrally-situated spiritual 
power-house. As we look up into the starry 
heavens we cannot imagine the Activity as residing 
in the empty space between the stars or between 
the stars and the Earth on which we stand. It 
seems absurd to picture its dwelling-place there. 
Equally absurd does it seem to regard the Activity 
as emanating from some spiritual sun situated far 
beyond the confines of the stars, and from there 
emitting spiritual rays upon Nature, including us 
men. As we look out upon Nature we see that 
the Activity which animates her does not issue 
from any outside source, but is actually in her. 


We do not need to look for the seat of that 
animating Activity in the empty spaces of the 
starry heavens or anywhere beyond them. We 
look for it in the stars themselves, in our own star, 
in the Earth, in every particle of which the stars 
and Sun and Earth are composed, in every 
plant and animal, and in every human heart, 
and in the whole together. There it is and 
especially in the human heart that the soul of 
Nature resides. There is its dwelling-place. To 
each of us it is nearer than father is to son. It is 
as near as "I" am to each one of the myriad 
particles which in their togetherness go to make 
up the body and soul which is "me." The spirit 
of Nature is resident in no remoteness of cold and 
empty space. It is deep within us and all around 
us. It permeates everything and everybody, every- 
where and always. And if we wish to be unmis- 
takably aware of its presence, we have only to look 
within ourselves, and whenever we are conscious 
of a higher perfection which something within, 
responding to the influences impinging insistently 
on us, is urging us to achieve ; whenever we have 
a vision of something more perfect, more lovely, 
more lovable, and feel ourselves urged on to reach 
after that greater perfection we are in those 
moments directly and unmistakably experiencing 
the Divine Spirit of Nature. Whenever we feel 
the Spirit within us showing us greater perfectibility 
and prompting us to make ourselves and others 
more perfect than we have been we are, in that 
moment, being directly influenced by the Spirit 
of Nature itself. We are receiving inspiration 


direct from the genius of Nature, the driving Spirit 
which is continually urging her on, and the directing 
Spirit which guides her to an end. We are in 
touch with the true Heart of Nature. 

So as we take a comprehensive view of Nature 
both in her outward bodily form and her inner 
spiritual reality, and find her to be an intercon- 
nected whole in which all the parts are interrelated 
with one another, one body and one mind, self- 
contained and self-conscious, and driven by a self- 
organising, self-governing, self -directing Activity 
we should regard her as nothing less than a Personal 
Being. In ordinary language we speak of Nature 
as a Person, and when we so speak we should not 
regard ourselves as speaking figuratively : we should 
mean quite literally and as a fact that she is a Person. 
And we should look upon that Personal Being, in 
which we are ourselves included, as in process of 
realising an ideal hidden within her an ideal which 
in its turn is ever perfecting itself. 

What is meant by Nature being a Person, and 
a Person actuated by a hidden ideal, and being in 
process of realising that ideal, and what is meant 
by an ideal perfecting itself, may be best explained 
with the help of an illustration. 

First it will be necessary to explain how we 
can regard Nature as a Person, or at least as nothing 
less than a Person though possibly more. It is 
contended by many authorities that we cannot 
regard any collective being, such as a college or a 
regiment and Nature is a collective being as a 
true person. But their arguments are unconvinc- 


ing. They allow that "I" am a person because 
"I" possess rationality and self -consciousness. 
But " I " am a system or organisation of innumer- 
able beings electrons, groupings of electrons, 
groups of groupings in rising complexity. " I " 
the body and soul which makes up ' ' me ' ' am 
nothing but a collective being myself. And if we 
take the case of "England" as an example of a 
collective being, we shall see that England has as 
much right to be considered a personal being as any 
single Englishman, composed as he is of innumer- 
able separate beings. 

Perhaps to one who is representing England 
among strange peoples the personality of England 
is more apparent than to those who are constantly 
living in England itself. To the foreign people among 
whom this representative is living England is a very 
real person. What she thinks about them, what 
she does, what her intentions are, what is her 
character and disposition, are matters of high 
interest ; for upon England's good or ill will towards 
them may perhaps depend to a large extent their 
own future. Viewed from a distance like that, 
England quite obviously does possess a character 
of her own. She appears to some people large- 
hearted and generous ; to others aggressive and 
domineering; to most solid, sensible, reasonable, 
steadfast, and steady. And to all she has a character 
quite distinctive and her own quite different from 
the character of France or of Russia. And England 
with equal obviousness thinks. She forms her own 
opinions of other nations, of their character, inten- 
tions, activities, and feelings. She thinks over her 


own line of action in regard to them. She takes 
decisions. And she acts. She is for a long time 
suspicious of Russia, and takes measures to defend 
herself against any possible hostile Russian action. 
She later comes to the conclusion that there is no 
fundamental difference between her and Russia, so 
she takes steps to compose the superficial differences. 
Later still, when both she and Russia are being 
attacked by a common enemy, she deliberately 
places herself on terms of closest friendship with 
Russia, and both gives her help and receives help 
from her. At the same time, having come to the 
conclusion that Germany is threatening her very 
life, she makes war on Germany, and prosecutes 
that war with courage, endurance, steadfastness 
and intelligence, and with a determination to win 
at any cost. England has deep feeling, too. 
She had a feeling of high exaltation on the day 
she determined to fight for her life and freedom. 
She had a feeling of sadness and anxiety as things 
went against her at Mons, Ypres, Gallipoli, Kut. 
She was wild with joy when the war was victoriously 
concluded. And she was proud of herself as she 
thought how among the sister nations of the Empire 
of which she was the centre, and among the allied 
nations, she had played a great and noble part. 

Now when a body, like England, can thus think 
for itself, form its own decisions, take action, 
establish friendships, fight enemies, and feel deeply, 
surely that body must possess personality. In 
ordinary language England is always spoken of as 
a person. And ordinary language speaks with 
perfect accuracy in this respect. 


In her relations with individual Englishmen 
England also shows her personality. The repre- 
sentative abroad feels very vividly how she expects 
him to act in certain ways ways in accordance 
with her character and her settled line of action. 
And she conveys these expectations to him not only 
in formal official instructions from her Government : 
the most important of those expectations are con- 
veyed iii a far more subtle and intimate but most 
unmistakable w r ay. The English Government did 
not write officially to Nelson at Trafalgar that 
England expected every man to do his duty. But 
Nelson, standing there for England, knew very 
well that this was what England was expecting of 
him and of those serving under him. A representa- 
tive would find it very hard to locate the exact 
dwelling-place of the heart and soul and mind of 
England, whether in Parliament, or in the Press, 
or in the Universities, or in factories, or in the 
villages. But that there is an England expecting 
him to behave himself in accordance with her 
traditions and character, and to act on certain 
general but quite definite lines, and who will admire 
and reward him if he acts faithfully to her expec- 
tations, and condemn and in extreme cases punish 
him if he is unfaithful, he has not the shadow of a 
doubt. Nor does he doubt that this England, 
besides expecting a certain general line of conduct, 
will and can constrain him to act in accordance with 
her settled determination that she has authority 
and has power to give effect to her will. 

And the official governmental representatives 
are not the only representatives of England. Every 



Englishman is a representative of England. How 
representative he is he will experience as he finds 
himself among strange peoples outside his own 
country. He will find then that he has certain 
traits and traditions and characteristics which 
clearly distinguish him from the people among 
whom he is travelling. And unofficial though he 
may be, he will yet feel England expecting him 
to behave as an Englishman. And though he may 
not be so vividly aware of it when he is at home, 
he is still a representative of England when he is 
in -England itself. In everyday life he is being 
expected and constrained by England to act in 
certain ways. 

Nor is it all a one-sided affair England 
expecting so much of him and he having no say 
or control over what England does. On the 
contrary, the relationship is mutual. He goes to 
the making and shaping of England just as much 
as she goes to the making and shaping of him. He 
expects certain behaviour of her as she expects such 
of him. And if he has gained the confidence of 
his fellow-countrymen and has energy and deter- 
mination, he may do much to affect her destiny. 

England is therefore, so it seems, a person just 
as much as a single Englishman is a person. 
Englishmen, in fact, only attain their full person- 
ality in an England which has personality. 

Now Nature, I suggest, in spite of what has 
been said against the view, is a Person in exactly 
the same w r ay as England is a person. Nature is 
a collective being made up of component beings 


self -active electrons, self -active atoms, self -active 
suns and planets, self -active cells, plants, animals, 
men, and groups and nations of men as England 
is made up of the land of England and all that 
springs therefrom, including the Englishmen them- 
selves. Nature thinks and feels and strives as 
England thinks and feels and strives. And Nature 
cares for her children as England looks after her 
sons. It is often said, indeed, that Nature is hard 
and cruel. But it is only through the unfailing 
regularity and reliability of her fundamental laws 
of her "constitution" that freedom and progress 
are possible. If we could not depend upon perfect 
law we could make no advance whatever. We 
should all be abroad and uncertain. Yet in spite 
of her unbending rigidity over fundamentals, she 
does also show mercy and pity. A child toddling 
along downhill unregardful of the force of gravitation 
falls on its face and screams with pain. But Nature, 
represented by the mother, rushes up, seizes the 
little thing in her arms, presses it lovingly to her 
bosom, rocks it and coaxes it and covers it with 

So if Nature can think and feel and strive and 
show mercy and loving-kindness, she is entitled to 
the dignity of personality. And when we stand 
back and regard Nature as a whole, we shall look 
upon her as a Person and nothing less. 

We have now to understand what is meant by 
saying that Nature is a Person actuated by a hidden 
ideal and being in process of realising that ideal. 
When travelling across the Gobi Desert I found a 


yellow rose a dwarf, simple, single rose. It is 
known to botanists as Rosa persica, and is believed 
to be the original of all roses. I found it on the 
extreme outlying spurs of the Altai Mountains. 
Now, a seed of the rose, partly under the influence 
of its surroundings (soil, moisture, air, sunshine) 
but chiefly by virtue of something which it contains 
within itself, something inherent in its very nature, 
will grow up into a rose-bush and give forth roses. 
The seed develops into a rose, not because some 
outside super-gardener takes hold of each one of 
the million million ultra-microscopic particles of 
which it is made up and puts it carefully into its 
appointed place, as a builder might put the stones 
of a building into their exact places according to 
the plans of an architect ; but because each of those 
minutest ultimate particles has that within it which 
prompts it to act of its own accord in response to 
the call of the whole. Each of these electrons is 
in incessant and terrific motion, moving at the rate 
of something like 180,000 miles a second, so placing 
it in position would be a difficult matter. Besides 
which, each electron is not a tiny bit of matter as 
we ordinarily conceive matter something which 
we can touch and handle. It is a mere centre or 
nucleus of energy. Any placing of it in position 
by a super-gardener is therefore out of the question. 
Each of those little particles moves and acts of 
itself in accordance with its own inner promptings, 
and in response to the influence of those other 
myriads of particles and groups of particles about 
it. And that system of these groups of particles 
which is enclosed within the rondure of the seed 


must have .within it the ideal of the rose to be. 
Each particle will act on its own initiative, but all 
will act under the mutual influence of one another, 
and in their togetherness .will make up the rose- 
spirit, being informed by the ideal of the rose which 
in its turn will suffuse the whole. And this rose- 
spirit this rose-disposition as it gives itself play, 
so controls and directs their movements that 
eventually the full-blown rose comes into being. 

What happens is, we may imagine, much the 
same as what happened in the case of Australia. 
A handful of settlers from the mother-country 
formed the germ-seed from which the Australia of 
to-day has grown up. There was no external despot 
ordering each individual Australian to do this, that, 
and the other to come this way and go that, and 
to stop in one place this year and in another place 
the next. Each Australian acting on his own 
initiative, and all in their togetherness, created the 
Australian spirit, which again reacting upon each 
Australian induced him to act in accordance with 
that spirit. And so in time Australia, assimilating 
individuals from outside and absorbing them into 
its texture, and imbuing them with the Australian 
spirit, grew up into manhood in the Great War 
and astonished the world by its strong individuality, 
its character, intelligence, determination, and good 

In the same way these particles of the rose-seed, 
each acting of itself, in their collectivity formed the 
rose-spirit. And each was in turn imbued by the 
rose-spirit. They had in them unconsciously the 
ideal of the rose-bush with its roots, stem, branches, 


leaves, flowers, fruit, seed. In all their activities 
they were actuated by this ideal. It was always 
constraining them in the given direction. By 
reason of the working of it in the particles they 
could by no possibility arrange themselves into a 
may tree or a lilac bush. There was an inner core 
of activity which persisted through all the countless 
changes of the process, which permeated the whole 
and which kept it directed to the particular end it 
had all the time in view. That activity had, in fact, 
a well-defined disposition, and that disposition was 
defined by the ideal of the rose, and was to form a 
rose-bush bearing roses. 

That the rose-seed developed into the rose was 
due, therefore, not to the operation of any outside 
agent, but was due to the operation of the rose- 
spirit that it had within it, and which was per- 
sistently driving it to bring into actual being that 
ideal of the rose which was the essence of its spirit. 
The ideal of the rose was the motive-power of the 
whole process. 

Where the rose-spirit derived from we shall later 
on enquire. Here we must note a point of the 
utmost importance. The seed of this Rosa persica 
is imbued with the spirit of Rosa persica. It has 
this ideal working within it. But it is not confined 
within the rigid limits of that ideal. It has that 
ideal, but something beyond also something in the 
direction of that ideal, but stretching on ahead to 
an illimitable distance. The rose-seed developed 
not only into the rose-flower, but through the 
flowers into numerous rose-seeds. And from the 
original .Rosa persica seeds have sprung roses of 


scores of varieties. Roses of every variety of form, 
colour, habit, texture are constantly appearing. 
By purposeful mating, and supplying favourable 
conditions of soil, temperature, etc., almost any 
kind of variety can be produced. So we have not 
only yellow roses of every shade from gold and 
cream to lemon, but also white and red and pink 
roses of every hue. We have single roses and roses 
as full as small cabbages. And we have dwarf roses 
and roses climbing 50 or 60 feet in height. 

From all this it is evident that within the original 
seed of Rosa persica was a rose-spirit which refused 
to be confined within the limits of Rosa persica 
only, but stretched out far beyond as well. The 
rose-spirit had latent in it, and was unconsciously 
stretching out to, all the beauties \vhich roses have 
since attained to, and beyond that again to all the 
beauties that are yet to come. The horizon of the 
rose-spirit was never confined by a single plan the 
plan of the Rosa persica as the builder is confined 
by the plan of the architect, beyond which he can- 
not go. The rose-spirit could reach out along the 
line of roses to an unlimited extent . It could produce 
nothing but roses ; it could not produce laburnums. 
But it could produce roses of unlimited variety, 
provided favourable conditions were available. 

But the Rosa persica was itself the outcome of 
a long line of development from a far-away primor- 
dial plant-germ. From that original plant-germ 
have sprung all the ferns and grasses, the shrubs 
and trees and flowers, of the present day. So in 
that plant-germ must have resided the plant-spirit 
with an ideal of all this variety of plant-life 


actuating it unconsciously, of course, but most 
effectively for all that. The particles of that 
original germ in their individual activities and in 
their mutual influence upon one another were in 
their togetherness actuated by a plant-spirit which 
had in mind so to speak not only the reproduc- 
tion of a plant precisely similar to the original 
plant, but one with the possibilities of develop- 
ment and of reproducing others with possibilities of 
still further development. All that plant life has 
so far attained and all that it will attain to in future 
perhaps also all that it might have attained to 
must have been present in the plant-spirit of that 
original plant-germ. And it is through the work- 
ing out the realising of this ideal which actuated 
that plant-spirit, and through the response which 
this spirit made to the stimulus of its surroundings 
that all the wonderful development of plant life has 
taken place. The plant-spirit had to keep within 
the lines of plant life ; it could not stray beyond it 
to develop lions and tigers. But within the lines 
of plant life it could stretch out to illimitable dis- 
tances. All that was wanted was the stimulus of 
favourable conditions, and from its surroundings it 
could select, reject, assimilate, all that would 
further its end. 

In the Gobi Desert I also saw the wild horse 
Equus Prjevalskyi supposed to be the original 
horse. And as the rose springs from the seed, so 
the horse develops from the ovum. And by virtue 
of the horse-spirit, the horse-ideal, by which all the 
innumerable particles of that ovum is actuated, it 


develops into a horse, and not into a donkey or a 
cow. But the ovum of the original Equus Prje- 
valskyi must have had in it the ideal of something 
more than the Equus Prjevalskyi, for from the 
original stock has sprung the great variety of horses 
we see to-day race-horses, cart-horses, hunters, 
polo ponies, Shetland ponies, etc. And these are 
still varying. And the Equus Prjevalskyi was itself 
the outcome of a long line of development. Like 
all other animals, including man, it must have 
sprung from an original animal-germ. And the 
particles of that original animal-germ must have 
had in them the animal-spirit actuated by the ideal 
of all the animals of the present day, including man, 
and ready to develop as soon as favourable condi- 
tions provided the necessary stimulus to which the 
germ was ready to respond. 

And both the original plant-germ and the 
original animal-germ sprang from an original plant- 
animal germ. And this, again, from the Earth 
itself. So that the Earth must always have had 
hidden in it the ideal of all plant and animal and 
human life and not only the ideal of what it has 
reached at present, but of all it will become, and, it 
is important to note, of all it might become in 
future. It is the working of this ideal in the Earth, 
from the time five hundred million years or so ago 
when it budded off from the Sun as a fiery mist, 
that it has, under the influence of the light and heat 
of the Sun, and possibly also under the influences 
from the Stellar Universe as well, produced what 
we see to-day. The Earth-Spirit was inspired by 
this ideal, and in the ideal was this capacity for 


improving itself. And through the working of this 
ideal, and under the influence of the rest of the 
world, the Earth has developed from a flaming 
sphere into a molten ball, into a globe of barren 
land and sea, and so on into the verdure-covered and 
animal- and man-inhabited Earth of the present 
age. The Earth, like the rose-seed, contained 
within it a core of Activity which permeated every 
particle and constrained it with its fellow-particles 
to direct itself towards the ideal a core of Activity 
which was animated by the ideal, while the ideal 
on its part had an innate faculty of perfecting 

But the Earth is itself only a minute mite 
even of the Solar System. And the Sun is 
only one of perhaps a thousand million other 
stars, some so distant that light travelling at the 
rate of 186,000 miles a second must have started 
from them before the birth of Christ to reach us 
to-day. Nevertheless the Earth is composed of the 
same ultimate particles of matter that even the 
most distant stars are made of. The Earth, the 
Sun and stars, are composed of electrons which are 
all alike. Doubtless there are individual differences 
between electrons as there are between men, but in 
a general way they are as much alike as all men 
appear alike to an eagle. And of these electrons 
the whole Universe is made as well as the Earth. 
The same laws of motion, of gravitation, and of 
electro-magnetic and chemical attraction, obtain 
there as here. The scale of the Stellar World is 
immensely larger than the scale we are accustomed 
to on this Earth. But the same fundamental laws 


everywhere prevail, and the Earth and stars are 
composed of the same material. 

So it must have been from the Heart of Nature 
as a whole that the Earth-Spirit must have derived 
the ideal which actuated it. Deep in the Heart of 
Nature must have resided the ideal of the state of 
the Earth as it is to-day. In the great world as a 
whole, as in the rose-seed, must have been operat- 
ing an ideal at least of what is on the Earth to-day, 
and of what this Earth will become and of what it 
might become ; and possibly also of greater things 
which have already been realised, or will be realised 
and might be realised in the planets of other suns 
than our Sun. There must ever have been work- 
ing throughout the Universe an Activity constrain- 
ing the ultimate particles in a given direction. 
There must have been an Organising Activity, 
collecting the diffused particles together, grouping 
them into concentrated organisms and achieving 
loftier and loftier modes of being. Each of those 
inconceivably numerous and incredibly minute 
particles which make up the stars and the Earth 
and all on it each one acted of itself. But each 
acted of itself under the influence of its fellows 
that is, of every other particle ; that is, of the whole. 
Each acted in response to its surroundings, but its 
surroundings were nothing short of the whole of 
Nature outside itself. Together they formed the 
Spirit of Nature with the ideal as its essence. And 
Nature in her turn acted on the particles as 
Englishmen form the spirit of England and the 
spirit of England acts back upon individual 


It was the working of this Spirit, with its self- 
improving ideal, that has produced Nature as we 
see her to-day. The distant ideal furnished the 
motive-power by which the whole is driven forward. 
And this ideal was itself built up by the unceasing 
interaction of the whole upon the parts and the 
parts upon the whole. What was in the parts 
responded to the stimulus of what was in the whole, 
and the whole was affected by the activity of the 
parts. What was immanent responded to what 
was transcendent. And the transcendence was 
affected by the immanence. 



IF we have been right so far, we have arrived at the 
position that Nature is a Personal Being in process 
of realising an ideal operating within herself. We 
have now to satisfy ourselves as to the character of 
that ideal. What is the full ideal working in the 
whole of Nature we cannot possibly know. We 
can only know so much of it as can be detected with 
our imperfect faculties on this minute atom of the 
Universe on which we dwell. We cannot be sure 
we have even discerned the highest levels of the 
ideal. For there may be higher beings than our- 
selves on the planets of the stars, and among those 
higher beings higher qualities than any we know of, 
or can conceive, may have emerged. Love is the 
highest quality we know. But love in any true 
sense of the word love as a self-conscious activity 
has only emerged with man, and man has only 
appeared within the last half-million of the Earth's 
four or five hundred million years of existence as 
the Earth. We cannot, therefore, presume to say 
what is the ideal in its highest development for the 
whole of Nature. 

But from our experience here we can see what 
that ideal is up to (what for us is) a very high level, 
and we can make out what is apparently its funda- 


mental characteristic. I obtained my best con- 
ception of it on the evening I left Lhasa at the con- 
clusion of my Mission to Tibet in 1904, when I 
had an experience of such value for determining 
Nature's ideal, and, for me at any rate, so convinc- 
ingly corroborative of the conclusions which others 
who have had similar experiences have drawn from 
them as to Nature's ideal, that I hope I may be 
excused for relating in some detail the circum- 
stances in which it came to me. 

These circumstances, though not the experience 
itself, were somewhat exceptional. I was at that par- 
ticular moment at the highest pitch of existence 
that is to say, of my own existence. I had had 
an unusually wide experience of the wild countries 
of that most interesting and varied of the continents 
Asia, and for that reason had been specially 
selected for the charge of a Mission to Tibet. 
However ill-qualified I might be for other tasks, for 
this particular business of establishing neighbourly 
relations with a very secluded and seclusive Asiatic 
people, difficult of approach both on account of their 
natural disposition and of the mighty mountain 
barrier which stood between them and the rest of 
the world, I was esteemed to have peculiar qualifi- 
cations. My comrades were also men selected for 
their special qualifications one for his knowledge 
of the Tibetans, another for his knowledge of the 
Chinese, another for his knowledge of geology, and 
so on. The troops engaged were selected for their 
experience in frontier warfare, and each man had 
had to pass a medical test. We were at the top of 
our physical fitness and ripe in experience. 


Besides British officers and a few British troops, 
there were among the soldiers Sikhs, Pathans, 
Gurkhas, a few Bengalis, a few Rajputs and 
Dogras ; and among the followers were Bhutias and 
Lepchas from Sikkim, Baltis from Kashmir, 
Bhutanese from Bhutan. There were thus Chris- 
tians, Mohammedans, Hindus, and Buddhists : 
men from an island in the Atlantic, and men from 
the remotest valleys of the Himalaya. And our 
destination had been a sacred city hidden two hun- 
dred miles behind the loftiest range of mountains 
in the world. 

On our way we had had to battle with the 
elements of Nature in very nearly their extremest 
forms and in every variety. We started in the 
sweltering heat of the plains of India in the hottest 
season. We passed the lower outer ranges of the 
Himalaya in the midst of torrential rain, like the 
heaviest thunder-shower in England, continuing all 
day long and day after day with scarcely a break, 
and penetrating through a waterproof coat as if it 
were paper. Following this we had to cross the 
main axis of the Himalaya in January, to pass the 
winter at an altitude of 15,000 feet above sea-level, 
and face blizzards which cut through heavy fur 
coats and left us as if we were standing before it in 
our bare bones. 

We had also had to battle with the Tibetans 
not only in actual fighting, but in diplomacy as well. 
I had deliberately risked my life in order to effect 
a settlement by persuasion and without resort to 
arms. Officers and men at my request had done 
the same. Subsequently we had both attacked and 


been attacked. Five hundred of us had for two 
months to face the attacks of eight thousand 
Tibetans. Later, again, we had had a long, tough, 
diplomatic contest with the Tibetans. 

Besides battling with the elements and with the 
Tibetans, I had also had to battle with my own 
people as is always and inevitably the case on such 
occasions. Military and political considerations 
had to contend against each other. This local 
question between India and Tibet was part of the 
general international question of the relations of 
European nations, Russia, France, Germany, 
Italy, America, with China, for Tibet was under 
the suzerainty of China. Local considerations had 
therefore to contend with international considera- 
tions. Then from the local point of view the 
permanent settlement of this particular question 
was desirable, whereas those responsible for the 
international situation would not object to a tem- 
porary arrangement of this single question as long 
as the whole general situation could be favourably 
secured. The Tibetan question was part of the 
whole question of our relations with Russia. Our 
relations with Russia were connected with our 
relations with France. We were coming to an 
arrangement with France as regards Egypt and 
Morocco. If we did anything in Tibet which 
vexed Russia she might be troublesome as regards 
Egypt, and make it difficult to come to an arrange- 
ment with France and to bring off the Anglo- 
French Entente. Of all these international con- 
siderations I was kept aware by Government even 
in the heart of Tibet. But my position required 


that I should stand up for the political as against 
the military, the local as against the international, 
and the permanent settlement as against the tem- 
porary arrangement. It was my duty vigorously 
to battle for this as it was equally the duty of the 
military and those responsible for international 
affairs to battle for their own point of view. And 
of course I had to submit, after contesting my 
standpoint, to the decision of those in authority ; 
though I had to contend for the particular, it was 
the general which had to prevail. 

In the end a settlement was reached, and in this 
remote city we had received congratulations from 
many different people in many different lands. The 
troops, my staff, and all about me were filled 
with delight at the success of our enterprise. 
Even the Tibetans themselves seemed pleased 
at the settlement; at any rate, they asked to 
be taken under our protection. On the morn- 
ing we left Lhasa the Lama Regent, who in the 
absence of the Dalai Lama had conducted negotia- 
tions with us, paid us a farewell visit and gave us 
the impression of genuine goodwill towards us. 
We and the Tibetans had contended strongly against 
one another. But it seemed that a way had been 
found by which good relations between us could be 
maintained. We had discovered that funda- 
mentally we were perfectly well-disposed towards 
each other, and means had been found for compos- 
ing our differences. Throughout the Mission we 
had kept before us the supreme importance of 
securing this goodwill eventually. The Tibetan 
frontier runs with the Indian frontier for a thousand 



miles, and it would have been the height of folly to 
have stirred up in the Tibetans a lasting animosity. 
Far more important, then, than securing the actual 
treaty we regarded securing the permanent good- 
will ; and when I felt that through the exertion of 
my Staff and the good behaviour of the troops as 
well as through my own efforts the goodwill of the 
Tibetans really had been secured, my satisfaction 
was profound. 

It was after enduring all these hardships, after 
running all these risks, and after battling in all these 
controversies, that this deep satisfaction came upon 
me. For though at times I felt, as every leader 
feels in like circumstances, that success must 
have been due to everyone else besides myself to 
the backing and firm direction I had received from 
Government, to the sound advice and help of my 
Staff, to the bravery and endurance of the troops, 
without all or any one of which aids success would 
have been unattainable yet I could not help also 
feeling that I had often on my own responsibility to 
make decisions and run risks, and to give advice to 
Government ; and that if I had erred in my decisions 
or in the advice I gave or in taking the risks, success 
most assuredly would not have been achieved, how- 
ever much support I received from elsewhere. I 
had, therefore, that satisfaction a man naturally 
feels when his special qualifications and training and 
the experience he has gained during the best part of 
his life have proved of acknowledged good to his 
country. And this was the frame of mind in which I 
rode out of Lhasa on our march homeward. 

These were the circumstances in which I had the 


experience I now venture to describe. After 
arrival in camp I went off into the mountains alone. 
It was a heavenly evening. The sun was flooding 
the mountain slopes with slanting light. Calm and 
deep peace lay over the valley below me the valley 
in which Lhasa lay. I seemed in tune with all the 
world and all the world seemed in tune with me. 
My experiences in many lands in dear distant 
England ; in India and China ; in the forests of 
Manchuria, Kashmir, and Sikkim ; in the desert of 
Gobi and the South African veldt ; in the Hima- 
laya mountains ; and on many an ocean voyage ; and 
experiences with such varied peoples as the Chinese 
and Boers, Tibetans and Mahrattas, Rajputs and 
Kirghiz seemed all summed up in that moment. 
And yet here on the quiet mountain-side, filled as 
I was with the memories of many experiences that 
I had had in the high mountain solitudes and in the 
deserts of the world away from men, I seemed in 
touch with the wide Universe beyond this Earth 
as well. 

A fter the high tension of the last fifteen months, 
I was free to let my soul relax. So I let it open 
itself out without restraint. And in its sensitive 
state it was receptive of the finest impressions and 
quickly responsive to every call. I seemed to be 
truly in harmony with the Heart of Nature. My 
vision seemed absolutely clear. I felt I was seeing 
deep into the true heart of things. With my soul's 
eye I seemed to see what was really in men's hearts, 
in the heart of mankind as a whole and in the Heart 
of Nature as a whole. 

And my experience was this and I try to 


describe it as accurately as I can. I had a curious 
sense of being literally in love with the world. 
There is no other way in which I can express what I 
then felt. I felt as if I could hardly contain myself 
for the love which was bursting within me. It 
seemed to me as if the world itself were nothing but 
love. We have all felt on some great occasion an 
ardent glow of patriotism. This was patriotism ex- 
tended to the whole Universe. The country for 
which I was feeling this overwhelming intensity of 
love was the entire Universe. At the back and 
foundation of things I was certain was love and 
not merely placid benevolence, but active, fervent, 
devoted love and nothing less. The whole world 
seemed in a blaze of love, and men's hearts were 
burning to be in touch with one another. 

It was a remarkable experience I had on that 
evening. And it was not merely a passing roseate 
flush due to my being in high spirits, such as a 
man feels who has had a good breakfast or has 
heard that his investments have paid a big dividend. 
I am not sure that I was at the moment in what are 
usually called high spirits. What I felt was more of 
the nature of a deep inner soul-satisfaction. And 
what I saw amounted to this that evil is the super- 
ficial, goodness the fundamental characteristic of the 
world; affection and not animosity the root dis- 
position of men towards one another. Men are in- 
herently good not inherently wicked, though they 
have an uphill fight of it to find scope and room for 
their goodness to* declare itself, and though they are 
placed in hard conditions and want every help they 
can to bring their goodness out. Fundamentally 


men are consuming with affection for one another 
and only longing for opportunity to exert that affec- 
tion. They want to behave straightly, honourably, 
and in a neighbourly fashion towards one another, 
and are only too thankful when means and condi- 
tions can be found which will let them indulge this 
inborn feeling of fellowship. Wickedness, of 
course, exists. But wickedness is not the essential 
characteristic of men. It is due to ignorance, 
immaturity, and neglect, like the naughtinesses of 
children. It springs from the conditions in which 
men find themselves, and not from any radical in- 
clination within themselves. With maturity and 
reasonable conditions the innate goodness which is 
the essential characteristic will assert itself. This 
is what came to me with burning conviction. And 
it arose from no ephemeral sense of exhilaration, 
nor has it since evaporated away. It has remained 
with me for fifteen years, and so I suppose will 
last for the rest of my life. Of course in a sense 
there has been disillusionment, both as to myself 
and as to the world. As one comes into the dull 
round of everyday life the glow fades away and all 
seems grey and colourless. Nevertheless, the con- 
viction remains that the glow was the real, and that 
the grey is the superficial. The glow was at the 
heart and is what some day will be or, anyhow, 
might be. 

An additional ground I have for believing it to 
be true is that on that mountain-side near Lhasa I 
had a specially favourable opportunity of looking at 
the world from, as it were, a proper focal distance. 
And it is only from a proper focal distance that we 


can see what things really are. If we put ourselves 
right up against a picture in the National Gallery 
we cannot possibly see its beauty see what the 
picture really is. No man is a hero to his own valet. 
And that is not because a man is not a hero, but 
because the valet is too close to see the real man. 
Cecil Rhodes at close quarters was peevish, irritable, 
and like a big spoilt child. Now at a distance we 
know him, with all his faults, to have been a great- 
souled man. Social reformers near at hand are 
often intolerable bores and religious fanatics 
frequently a pestilential nuisance. We have to get 
well away from a man to see him as he really is. 
And so it is with mankind as a whole. 

So I become more and more certain that my 
vision was true. And the experience of the Great 
War strengthens my conviction. As we recede from 
it, what will stand out, we may be sure, are not the 
crimes and cruelties that have been committed and 
the suffering that has been caused, but the astound- 
ing heroism which was displayed, the self-sacrifice, 
the devotion and love of country that were shown 
heroism and devotion such as have never before in 
the world's history been approached, and which was 
manifested by common everyday men and women 
in every branch of life and in every country. 

The conclusion I reach from this experience is 
that I was, at the moment I had it, intimately m 
touch with the true Heart of Nature. In my ex- 
ceptionally receptive mood I was directly experienc- 
ing the genius of Nature in the very act of inspiring 
and vitalising the whole. I was seeing the Divinity 


in the Heart streaming like light and heat through 
every part of Nature, and with the dominating force- 
fulness of love lifting each to its own high level. 

And my experience was no unique experience. 
It was an experience the like of which has come to 
many men and many women in every land in all 
ages. It may not be common ; but it is not un- 
usual. And in all cases it gives the same certainty 
of conviction that the Heart of Nature is good, that 
men are not the sport of chance, but that Divine 
Love is a real, an effectively determining and the 
dominant factor in the processes of Nature, and 
Divine fellowship the essence of the ideal which is 
working throughout Nature and compelling all 
things unto itself. 



THAT Nature is a Personal Being or at least 
nothing less than a Personal Being that she is 
actuated by an ideal, and that her ideal, so far as we 
are able to judge, is an ideal of Divine Fellowship, 
is the conclusion at which we have now arrived. 
But we shall understand Nature better, and so see 
her Beauty more fully, if we can understand how 
she works out this ideal in detail. And we shall best 
understand how she works it out if we examine what 
goes on within our own selves and see how we work 
out the ideal with which we believe Nature herself 
has inspired us. For it is in ourselves that the 
dominating spirit of Nature is most clearly mani- 
fested to us. And being ourselves the instruments 
and agents of Nature, and informed through and 
through with her spirit, we ought to be able to 
understand how she works if only we look carefully 
enough into the working of our own inner selves. 

What we find is that under the inspiration of the 
genius of Nature we are perpetually projecting in 
front of us a pattern or standard of what we think 
we ought to be, or should like to be, and of what we 
think our country and the world ought to be. We 
set up an ideal. It is generally very vague. But 
there is always at the back of our minds an idea of 


something more perfect. And this idea we bring 
out from time to time from its seclusion and set up 
before us as an end to aim at. 

Sometimes we deliberately try to draw the out- 
lines of this ideal more definitely. Each of us will 
picture a slightly different ideal to the rest. The 
ideal men will differ just as much as actual men, 
and the ideal countries as much as actual countries. 
No two will be exactly alike. And each of us will 
probably make his ideal man very different from 
himself perhaps the exact opposite, for each will 
be peculiarly conscious of his own imperfections and 

But if the ideal man which each sets up differs 
in small particulars from what others set up, the 
general outline of all will probably be very much the 
same, as men in general are much the same when 
compared with other animals. All will be based on 
the idea of fellowship. So aided by examples chosen 
from among our friends, we may here attempt to 
build up an ideal type of man. For the effort will 
help us to realise better both what Nature is aiming 
at and how she works. 

Formerly we might have drawn this ideal man 
upright, straight, rigid, unbending. More recently 
we might have drawn him as a super-man, the 
fittest-to-survive kind of man, all muscular will, 
intent only on bending every other will to his and 
crashing relentlessly on through life like a bison in 
the forest. But nowadays we want a man with the 
same reliability as the upright type, but with grace 
and suppleness in place of rigidity; and with the 
same strength as the super-man, but with gentle- 


ness and consideration in proportion to the strength. 
We do not want a man of wood ; and what we do 
want is not so much a super-man as a gentle-man 
a man of courtesy and grace as well as strength. 

The stiff and stilted type of a bygone age will 
have melted under the warmth of deepening fellow- 
ship and become flowing and fluid. The man of this 
type will not only be full of consideration for others, 
but will naturally, out of a full and overflowing heart 
and of his own generous prompting, eagerly enter 
into the lives and pursuits, the hopes and fears, the 
joys and sorrows of those with whom he is con- 
nected. And with all this wide general kindliness 
he will be something more than merely amiable and 
good-natured, and will have capacity for intense 
devotion for particular men and women. He will 
necessarily have fine tact and address, adroitness and 
skill in handling difficult and delicate situations, and 
the sensitiveness to appreciate the most hidden feel- 
ings of others. Wit and distinction he will have, 
too, with ability to discern the real nature of people 
and events, and to distinguish the best from the good, 
and the good from the indifferent and bad. He 
will also possess that peculiar sweetness of disposi- 
tion which is only found when behind it is the surest 
strength. And with all his gentleness, tenderness, 
and capacity for sympathy he will have the grit and 
spirit to hold his own, to battle for his rights, and to 
fight for those conditions which are absolutely 
necessary for his full development. He will, in 
addition, have the initiative to think out and strike 
out his own line and to make his own mark. 

He will be a man of the world in the sense of 


being accustomed to meet and mix with men in 
many different walks of life and of many different 
nationalities. And he will be a man of the home in 
the sense of being devoted to his own family circle. 
He will be at home in the town and at home in the 
country ; adapted to the varied society, interests, 
and pursuits which town life can afford, but devoted 
also to the country, to the open air and elemental 
nature and animals and plants. 

A fixed principle and firm determination with 
him will be to do his duty to do his social duty, to 
do the right thing at whatever temporary cost to 
himself. The right thing for him will be that which 
produces most good. And he will deem that the 
most good which best promotes human fellowship, 
warms it with love, colours it with beauty, en- 
lightens it with truth, and sweetens it with grace. 
Finally, and culminatingly, he w r ill have that spiritu- 
ality and fine sensitiveness of soul which will put 
him in touch with the true Heart of Nature and 
make him eagerly responsive to the subtlest 
promptings which spring therefrom ; so he will be 
possessed of a profound conviction, rooted in the 
very depths of his being, that in doing the right 
thing, or in other words pursuing righteousness, he 
is carrying out the will and intention of that Divine 
Being whom we here call Nature but whom we 
might also call God. 

This, or something like it, is the ideal of a man 
which most of us would form under the impress and 
impetus of the indwelling genius of Nature. But 
this ideal can only be reached by an individual when 
his country also has reached it. He will be driven, 


therefore, to make his country behave and act up to 
this ideal. And his country cannot so act till the 
general society of nations conducts itself on the same 
general lines. His country, therefore, will be 
driven to make the general society of nations behave 
in accordance with the principles of high fellowship. 

We have made for ourselves the ideal of a man. 
It remains to show that the finest pitch of all is only 
reached in the union of man and woman. The man 
is not complete without the woman, nor the woman 
without the man. It is in their union, therefore, 
that the ideal in its greatest perfection will be seen. 
The flower which results from the working of the 
ideal in the Heart of Nature, as the flower of the 
rose results from the working of the rose-ideal in the 
heart of the rose-seed, we see in the love of man and 
woman at the supreme moment of their union. 
This is the very holiest thing in Nature. It is then 
that both the man and the woman are to the fullest 
extent themselves, both to be and to express all that 
is in them to be. They love then to their extreme 
capacity to love. They are gentle then to the 
utmost limit of tenderness. And they are strong 
then to the farthest stretch of their strength. 

And while they thus reach the very acme of 
Nature's ideal so far as we men can discern it, they, 
at the same time and in so doing, touch the very 
foundations of Nature as well. Mathematicians 
have discovered that there is no such thing as a per- 
fectly straight line, and that curvature is a funda- 
mental property of the physical world. So also is 
it in the spiritual world. As we reach the topmost 


height of the ideal we find that it has curved round, 
and that we are at that moment at the very base and 
foundation. What is attracting us forward in the 
farthest distance in front is the very thing that is 
urging us forward from behind. Pinnacle and 
foundation, source and end, meet. 

The love which attracted the man and woman 
together and which they keep striving to attain in 
higher and higher degree, is the same as the creative 
impulse which comes surging up from the very 
Heart of Nature. Direct and without ever a break 
it has come out of the remotest past and deepest 
deeps. Few seem aware of this, and yet it is an 
obvious fact and a fact which vastly increases our 
sense of intimacy with Nature. It was due to the 
same impulse which has brought the man and 
woman together that they themselves were brought 
into being. Their parents had b^en attracted by 
the same vision of love and impelled by the same 
impulse. Their parents' parents had been similarly 
attracted and impelled, and so on back and back 
through the whole long line of ancestry, through 
half a million years to primitive men, back beyond 
them again through the long animal ancestry for 
scores of millions of years to the beginning of life. 
Even then there is no break. Direct from the very 
Fountain Source of Things this creative impulse has 
come bursting up into their hearts. At the moment 
of union they are straight along the direct line of 
the whole world-development, so far as this planet 
is concerned. The elemental in the natural im- 
pulse is the most ultimately elemental, for it derives 
itself straight from the pure Origin of Things. As 


they reach after the most Divine they are impelled 
by the most elemental. What, in fact, happens is 
that the elemental is inspired through and through 
with the Divine. 

The union of man and woman is the flower of 
Nature. But, like the rose, it bears within it the 
seed from which some still more beautiful flower 
may result. No pair, however sublime their union, 
suppose that it is the best that could by any pos- 
sibility at any time exist. An absolutely perfect 
union depends upon an absolutely perfect pair in 
absolutely perfect surroundings. And no one sup- 
poses that he himself is perfect or that the world 
around him is perfect. So there is in the pair a con- 
sciousness of imperfection, a vision of perfection, 
and a desperate yearning to be more perfect and to 
make the world more perfect. Deep and strong as 
the creative impulse itself is the impulse to improve- 
ment. It is due to this impulse that the mother 
reaches over her child with such loving care, strives 
to shield it from all harm, social as well as physical, 
and to give it a better chance than she herself en- 
joyed. It is due to this same impulse that the man 
works to leave his profession, his business, his 
science, his art, his country, better than he found it. 
It is due to this impulse also that men as a whole are 
driven to improve the whole Earth, to improve 
plants, flowers, trees, animals, men, and make the 
world a better place for their successors than it has 
ever been for them. 

The pair even the most splendid pair that has 
ever wedded have deep within them this perhaps 
unrecognised impulse to improvement. They 


know that the rose can only bring forth roses, and 
that they can only bring forth men : they know that 
they cannot bring forth angels. But they know 
also that the rose, when wisely mated and its off- 
spring provided with favourable surroundings of 
soil and air and sunshine, can give rise to blooms in- 
comparably more perfect than itself. And they 
know that they themselves, if they have wisely 
mated, if they carefully tend their offspring and 
provide them with healthy, sunny, physical and 
social surroundings, can give rise, in generations to 
come, to unions of men and women incomparably 
more perfect than their own as much more perfect 
as their union is than the unions of primitive men 
richer in colour, more graceful in form, sweeter in 
fragrance, and of an altogether finer texture. 

This, then, is the ideal in its completeness which 
we set up before us. But we have no sooner set it 
up than we find that the presence of this ideal within 
us makes us restless, unsatisfied, discontented; till 
we have set to work to bring things up to it ; and 
that when we do start improving them we are 
forthwith involved in endless strife. Improvement 
means effort. It does not come by itself. It is 
only effected by strong, persistent, determined 
effort. It was no easy matter for the particles in 
the rose-seed to battle their way through the hard 
seed-case, strike down into the soil, send up shoots 
into the air, stand steadfastly to their ideal of the 
rose, and produce a seed capable of bringing forth a 
still more perfect flower. And it is no easy matter 
for us to burst through our own shells, strike our 


roots far down into the soil of common humanity 
and common animality, and there firmly rooted 
strike up skyward, stand faithfully to our ideal, and 
produce something which will have capacity for still 
further improvement. Immense and sustained 
effort is required of us for this to be accomplished. 

Each man finds he has to battle with himself to 
make way for all the best in himself to come to the 
front. Each has to battle with the circumstances in 
which he is placed in order to find scope for the exer- 
cise of the best in himself. Each has to break his 
way through, as that wonder of Nature, poor primi- 
tive man, had to battle his way through the impedi- 
ments of the tropical forests and the brute beasts by 
which he was surrounded . And just as primitive man 
was not the animal provided with the thickest hide 
like the rhinoceros, nor with sharpest claws like the 
lion, nor with the fiercest temper like the tiger, but 
was of all his fellows the one with the most sensitive 
nature, so are those nearest the ideal the most 
delicately sensitive of mankind. 

The ideal is never approached, much less at- 
tained, except by men and women of the most 
highly-strung natures natures peculiarly sus- 
ceptible to pain. And with this extra susceptibility 
to pain they have to expose to the risk of wounds 
and bruises the most sensitive parts of their natures. 
Suffering is therefore inevitably their lot. It is the 
invariable attendant of progress however beneficent. 
Excruciating pain each expects to have to endure 
as every expectant mother and every soldier antici- 
pates on the physical plane. 

We find, too, that in working out our ideal we 


are not only required to endure pain, but to submit 
to the sternest discipline. First, we need self -dis- 
cipline. Each individual finds that he is required 
to exercise his faculties to the full, make the utmost 
of himself, attain to the highest of which he is cap- 
able, and be ready for any sacrifice. So he must 
train his faculties to the highest. He is required 
also to work in concert with his fellows. The stern 
obligation is therefore upon him to forgo his own 
private advantage in order that the common end 
may be achieved. This obligation he has readily to 
acknowledge and submit to. He has also to acknow- 
ledge what he owes to Nature, what is his duty to 
Nature. And that duty he has to perform and her 
authority he has to admit. He can retain his free- 
dom and initiative and enterprise. But he has to 
obey the laws of Nature, acknowledge her authority, 
submit to her discipline. No soldiers were more 
full of independence and initiative than the Aus- 
tralians, but no troops at the end of the War realised 
better than they did that success can only be 
achieved through strictest discipline as well as free- 
dom and initiative. The lover also knows that only 
through the sternest discipline and constraint upon 
himself is his object attained. Thus there is an im- 
perative necessity upon a man to be orderly in his 
behaviour, loyal, faithful, dutiful, and obedient to 
the ideal within him. Any failure in loyalty and 
obedience is a sin against Nature and a sin against 
himself. The call of honour and of humanity is upon 
him, and that call he has to obey without hesitation. 
Equally are men expected to be ready to 
exercise authority, to maintain discipline and pre- 


serve order. The exercise of authority is no less an 
obligation and duty upon men than obedience to it. 
And the one has to be practised just as much as the 
other. Or, rather, the exercise of authority has to 
be practised more, for it is more difficult and more 
valuable. And the proper exercise of authority, 
maintenance of discipline, and preservation of 
order, is a duty men owe ultimately to Nature her- 
self. For it is from Nature that they finally 
derive their authority and to Nature that they are 
ultimately responsible. 

Whether as captain of the eleven or as head of 
the house at school, as manager of an office or a 
business, as policeman or foreman, as corporal or 
Commander-in-Chief, as administrator or Prime 
Minister, whether as nurse, parent, or school- 
mistress, a man or woman is in his position of 
authority directly or indirectly on the appointment 
or choice of those over whom he has to exercise 
authority. He is there to exercise authority for 
their benefit. They have placed him as the public 
place the policeman in authority for that purpose. 
And they have a right to expect that he will exercise 
his authority with decision, maintain discipline with 
firmness, and preserve order \vith even-handed 
justice. For only then can they themselves know 
where they are, get on with their own duties amd 
affairs, and fulfil the law of their being. Ultimately 
those in authority are chosen by, and are responsible 
to, those over whom they exercise authority. And 
those who choose them expect and require them 
to exercise authority authoritatively. 

Each in his own particular sphere, in that par- 


ticular place and for the time being, has to exercise 
his authority with strictness. Otherwise the rest 
cannot fulfil their own duties. The policeman has 
to exercise his authority even over a Prince, as 
otherwise there might be chaos in the streets and 
no one would be able to get about his business with 
surety. The whole people have chosen each for his 
particular position of authority, and for their benefit 
expect him to exercise it strictly. 

The people, again, spring from Nature as a 
whole. They are the representatives of Nature. 
Those in authority are therefore, in their particular 
province, for that particular purpose, and for the 
time being the representatives of Nature. They 
are accountable to Nature, and Nature expects 
them as her representatives to exercise authority 
with wisdom and discretion, but on the same basic 
principles of absolute fairness and perfect orderli- 
ness that she herself in her elemental aspects exer- 
cises her authority. 

Besides obeying authority and exercising 
authority, men have also to practise leadership. 
Merely to give and obey orders is nothing like 
sufficient. In most things a man follows some 
leader, but in each man there is one thing his own 
particular line in which he can lead. In that line 
he is expected to qualify himself for leadership, and 
be prepared to take the risks of high adventure. 
For it is only through leadership, through someone 
venturing out beyond the ruck and getting his 
fellows to follow him, that any progress is made. 
Mere obedience to authority and exercise of 
authority never initiate any new departure. These 


only provide the conditions for progress. In addi- 
tion to these the divine gift of leadership is required. 
Leadership is therefore the supremely important 
quality which men require. 

But men cannot intelligently act in concert and 
alertly; cannot willingly submit themselves to a 
rigid discipline; cannot exercise authority with 
confidence and weight ; and cannot lead so that 
others may follow, unless all are animated by the 
same idea. And they are not likely to sacrifice their 
lives for that idea unless they are convinced of its 
value. Only for the most precious things in life do 
men willingly give up their lives. And before they 
submit to unquestioning discipline and sacrifice 
themselves for an ideal they need a clear under- 
standing of that ideal and a just appreciation of its 
value. So they think out the ideal with greater 
precision and make sure that what they are aiming 
at is nothing short of the highest. Now the ideal 
of fellowship enriched with beauty and elevated to 
the Divine is one which all can understand and of 
which all can see the value. Because it is the high- 
est it is satisfying to the deepest needs and cravings 
of their nature, and is therefore of a value beyond all 
reckoning. Assured of that, they summon up all the 
courage and fortitude that is theirs, all their spirit 
and mettle, to endure unflinchingly the pain that 
must be theirs. And in spite of the effort, the long, 
strict training, the rigid discipline, the hardship and 
suffering they have to undergo, they joyfully play 
their part because they are assured in their hearts 
that what they are living for and would readily die 
for is supremely worth while . Deep in their hearts is 


that divine joy of battle that fighters for the highest 
always feel. And they fight with power and con- 
viction because they know that their ideal has come 
into their hearts straight from Nature herself, and 
experience has shown that what Nature has in mind 
she does in the end achieve : she not only has the will 
and intention but the power to carry into effect what 
she determines. 

This is how we formulate the ideal to ourselves 
in ever-developing completeness; and this is how 
with pain and effort but with over-compensating joy 
we carry it into effect. And these experiences of 
ours in the formulation and working out of our ideal 
give us the clue to the manner in which Nature on 
her part works out her ideal. We are the representa- 
tions and representatives of the whole, and we may 
assume that the whole works in much the same way 
as we ourselves work. If this be so we may expect 
to find that Nature will work as an artist works, 
that is, out of his own inner consciousness, spon- 
taneously generating and continually creating new 
and original forms approaching (through a process 
of trial and error experimentation) more and more 
closely to that ideal of perfection which he has al- 
ways, though often unconsciously, before him. And 
this is how we actually do find Nature working. 
We find her reaching after perfection of form, 
now in one direction, now in another ; first 
in plants, next in animals, then in insects, 
then in birds, then in apes, then in men, here 
in one type and there in another, never reach- 
ing complete perfection anywhere, any more than 


the greatest artist ever does in any particular, but 
still reaching perfection in a higher and higher 
degree, and making the state of the whole of a richer 
and intenser perfection. 

We have, therefore, ample evidence that Nature 
is actuated by an intention to enrich perfection and 
is continually working towards it. So we have 
confidence that Nature, hard and exacting though 
she be, is only exacting in order that the Highest 
may be attained. We know that Nature is aiming 
at the Highest and nothing short of the Highest. 
And all the spirit of daring and adventure in us 
leaps to the call she makes. 

And we respond to the call with all the greater 
alacrity because we feel that the attainment of that 
Highest is dependent to a large degree upon our- 
selves. We have a sense of real responsibility in 
the matter. And for this reason that though 
Nature lays down the great constitutional laws 
within which man, her completest representative, 
must work ; and though Nature as a whole formu- 
lates the main outlines of her ideal ; yet man within 
that constitution can make his own laws, and within 
its main outlines may refine and perfect the ideal. 

Nature may be working out her ideal on other 
stars through the agency of other kinds of beings 
more perfect than ourselves ; and while the ideal in 
its main outlines may be the same there as the ideal 
which is working itself out on this planet, it may 
there have assumed a higher form and be more 
nearly attained. But on this planet the more definite 
formulation of the ideal and the measures for its 
attainment are in the hands of men. We can perfect 


the ideal for ourselves, and make laws and establish 
customs to ensure its attainment. We are not the 
slaves of a despotic ruler, or pawns in the hand of 
an external player. Within the limits of Nature's 
constitution, the laws \ve obey are laws of our own 
making; the authority we obey is the authority 
which we ourselves have set up ; and both authority 
and laws we can change in accordance with the 
growing requirements of the ideal which we our- 
selves are perfecting. 

W T e go forward, therefore, with inextinguishable 
faith in the value of what we are battling for, 
and in the worthwhileness of all our efforts and 
endurances. And though the ideal with which 
Nature has inspired us makes us restless and discon- 
tented, provokes us to increasing effort, causes us 
endless pain and suffering, and exacts from us the 
sacrifice even of our lives, we nevertheless love to 
have the ideal, and love Nature for implanting it 
in us. 

And now that we have seen what is the nature 
of Nature, what is the end she has before her, and 
how she works to accomplish her end, we feel that 
we have gone a long way towards knowing and 
understanding her. We have had a vision of the 
hidden Divinity by which she is inspired. And 
this mysterious Power we have not found reigning 
remote in the empty spaces of the heavens. We 
have found it dwelling in every minutest particle of 
which this Earth and all the world is built, and 
of which we ourselves also are made dwelling in 
the earth, and in the air, and in the stars; and in 


every living thing, in beast and bird and insect, 
in flower, plant, and man and dwelling in them 
all in their togetherness. We have found it to be 
both immanent and transcendent. It only exists 
and can only exist in these its single self -active re- 
presentations. But in relation to each of them it is 
transcendent. Each star and flower, each beast and 
man, is its partial representation. But the whole 
together is that Power which while it transcends is 
yet resident in, and inspires, each single part which 
goes to its making. In the inmost heart of Nature, 
as the ground and source of Nature, yet permeating 
Nature to the uttermost confines, and reigning 
supreme over the whole, we find God; actuating 
the heart of God we find an ideal ; and actuating the 
heart of the ideal we find an imperative urge towards 
perfection, an inborn necessity to perfect itself for 
ever just as inside the rough exterior of Abraham 
Lincoln was the real Abraham Lincoln, at his heart 
was an ideal, and at the heart of the ideal an inner 
impulse towards perfection ; or as within the ex- 
terior France is the real France, in the heart of 
France an ideal, and in the heart of the ideal the 
determination to perfect itself. 

This view of Nature is very different from that 
view of her which would regard the world as having 
been originally created by, and now being governed 
by, an always and already perfect Being, living as 
apart from it as the Sun is from the Earth, and 
being as distinct and separate from it as a father is 
from his son. And the difference in view must 
make a profound difference in our attitude to 
Nature, and therefore in our capacity for seeing 


and enjoying Natural Beauty. We may admire 
and worship but we can scarcely love, in any true 
sense of the word, a Being dwelling distant and 
aloof from us, and with whom, from the mere fact 
of his being perfect, it is most difficult for us to be 
on terms of homely intimacy and affection. But 
for a Being who, like our country, is one of whom 
we ourselves form part, we can have not only 
admiration and reverence but deep affection. We 
can and do love our country, for we form part of 
her, and have a voice and share in making and 
shaping her. We know that she cares for us, will 
look after us in misfortune, and will honour and love 
us if we serve her well and show her loyalty and 
devotion. And we can and do love Nature for 
precisely the same reasons. We feel ourselves part 
of her, and in intimate touch with her all round and 
always. And we have that which is so satisfying 
to us the feeling that there is reciprocity of love 
between us and her. So our love is active, and it 
vehemently impels us to get to know her better and 
better, to get ourselves in ever closer touch with her, 
to discover the utmost fulness of her Beauty, and to 
communicate to others all that we have come to 
know and all the Beauty we have seen, so that others 
may share in our enjoyment and come to love 
Nature more even than we love her ourselves 
love Nature in all her aspects, love physical Nature 
in the mountains, seas and deserts, the clouds, 
sunsets and stars, love plant Nature and animal 
Nature and human Nature; and, above all, love 
Divine Nature as best revealed in supreme men in 
their supreme moments. 


In some of her aspects Nature may be stern and 
exacting. But she is never sheerly hard. She is 
compounded of mercy and compassion as well as of 
rigid orderliness. And her essential character is 
Love and Love of no impassive and insipid kind, 
but of a power and activity beyond all human 

The importance and significance of this con- 
clusion, if we accept it, is that we definitely abandon 
the repellent conception of Nature as governed by 
chance, or as cold and mechanical, or as guided 
solely by the principle of the survival of the fittest, 
and we accept instead the humaner and diviner view 
that Nature is actuated by Love ; and, accepting 
that more winning conception, we can enter un- 
reservedly into the Spirit of Nature and see her 
Beauty. Unless we had been assured in our minds, 
without any possibility of doubt whatever, that \ve 
could love Nature, we could never really have en- 
joyed her Beauty. 

So Nature is not something static, fixed, and 
immovable, determined once and for all like a rock 
is, at least to outward appearance. Nature is a 
Person, and a Person is a process. Nature flows. 
Nature is always moving on. As our thoughts 
are all connected with one another and passing 
into one another ; as all events are connected 
with one another and are continually passing 
from one into another, and form one great all- 
inclusive event which is in continual process of 
happening ; so is Nature always in process of passing 
from one state into another state, while the whole 


forms one great event for ever happening. And 
actuating the whole process, determining the whole 
great event, is an inner core of Activity which 
endures through all the changes. It is the ** I " of 
Nature, which informs, directs, controls the whole 
from centre to utmost extremity through all space 
and all time. It is the Soul and Spirit, the Genius 
of Nature. It is what we should mean when we 
speak of God. 

Actuated by this spirit, whose essential character 
is Love, the process glides smoothly, unbrokenly, 
and wellnigh imperceptibly forward. As we lift 
our eyes and look out upon Nature in its present 
actually existing state, what we see in that instant 
is the whole achievement of the past, and it contains 
within it here and now the promise of all the future. 
All the past is in the present, and in it also is the 
potency of the future. The achievement fills us 
with admiration. The promise thrills us with hope. 
To that Spirit which has achieved this result, which 
actuates the process and ourselves with it, which 
determines the great event, which ensures the uni- 
formity and law and order which are the founda- 
tions of our freedom, and the essential condition of 
all progress, our hearts are drawn out and yearningly 
stretch themselves out in a love boundless as the 
process itself. 

The more we find ourselves drawn to Nature 
and in harmony and love with her, the more Beauty 
do we see. In closest reciprocity Love of Nature 
inspires Natural Beauty and Natural Beauty pro- 
motes Love of Nature. And it is from the Heart 
of Nature that both Love and Beauty spring. Both 


also remain permanent and everlasting through all 
the changing processes of Nature permanent but 
ever increasing in depth and height and volume. 
The promise of all the Love and Beauty of to-day 
was hidden in the womb of the past. In the womb 
of to-day is contained the promise of a Love and 
Beauty still more glorious. And ours it is to bring 
them into being. 





I HAVE something to say which to old-fashioned 
geographers may appear very revolutionary, and 
which you may hesitate to accept straight away. 
But it has come to me as the result of much and 
varied geographical work in the field ; of listening 
to many lectures before this Society ; and of com- 
posing this Address and five lectures for you, firstly, 
as far back as 1888, on my journey across Central 
Asia from Peking to India; secondly, on my 
journey to Hunza and the Pamirs ; thirdly, on 
Chitral ; fourthly, on my mission to Tibet ; and 
fifthly, on the Himalaya. And I expect when you 
come to think over what I have now to say you will 
find that, after all, my conclusions are not anything 
desperately revolutionary but something quite 
obvious and natural. 

What I want to lay before you for your very 
earnest consideration is this that we should take a 
profounder and broader view of Geography, of its 
fundamental conception, and of its scope and aim, 
than we have hitherto taken ; and should regard the 


Earth as Mo^er-Earth, and the Beauty of her 
features as within the purview of Geography. 

I will state my case as clearly and briefly as 
I can. Geography is a science. Science is 
learning, knowing, understanding. The object of 
geographical learning, knowing, understanding is 
the Earth. We must first, then, have a true con- 
ception of what the Earth really is. And next we 
must be certain in our minds as to what is most 
worth knowing about it. 

To begin with our conception of the Earth. At 
the dawn of Geography it was believed to be a flat 
disc. Later it was discovered to be a sphere. Then 
it was found to be not a hard solid sphere like a 
billiard-ball, but to be hard only on the surface, and 
within to be quick with fervent heat. Now it is 
coming to be regarded as spirit as well as body as 
in its essential nature spiritual rather than material. 

When we get as far back as science is able to take 
us we find that the ultimate particles of which the 
Earth is made up are not minute specks of some 
substance or material, but are simply centres of 
radiant energy. Even with a microscope of infinite 
power we should never be able to see one, like we 
see a grain of pollen or a grain of sand. And if we 
had fingers of infinite delicacy, we should never be 
able to take one up between the forefinger and 
thumb and feel it. These ultimate particles are 
invisible and intangible. Nothing could be less 
substantial. And we find further that, inconceiv- 
ably minute as they are, they act of themselves 
under the mutual influence of one another. The 
electrons are not like shot which have been heaped 


together by some outside agency, and which roll 
about the floor if someone outside gives them a push, 
but which will otherwise remain immobile. They 
congregate together of their own inner prompting. 
They are like a swarm of midges or bees in which 
each individual acts on its own impulsion, and, in 
the case of bees, all together form themselves into 
a definite organisation with a collective spirit of its 
own. The Earth is indeed influenced by its parent 
the Sun, and acts in accordance with the same laws 
and is swayed by the same impulses as govern the 
whole Universe, of which it is a minute though 
highly important mite. But the point is that the 
Earth is not something like a lump of clay which a 
potter takes in his hands and moulds into a ball. 
The Earth moulds itself from activities that it 
contains within itself. 

Running through the whole mighty swarm of 
electrons we call the Earth is a tendency to order, 
organisation, and system. The myriad millions of 
ultimate particles in their all-togetherness and from 
their interaction upon one another become possessed 
of an imperative urge towards excellence. The 
electrons group themselves into atoms ; the atoms 
clump themselves together into molecules ; the mole- 
cules combine into chemical compounds, and these 
into organisms of ever-increasing size and com- 
plexity. So in the process of the ages there came 
into being, from out of the very Earth itself, first, 
lowly forms of plants and animals, then higher and 
higher forms exhibiting higher and higher qualities, 
till the flowers of the field, the animals, and man 
himself came into existence. 



And now we reach the point I wish to make. 
If this account of the Earth which physicists and 
biologists give us be true, then we geographers 
should take a less material and a more spiritual view 
of the Earth than we have done, and should, like 
primitive people all the world over, regard her as 
Mother-Earth, and recognise our intimate connec- 
tion with her. Primitive peoples everywhere regard 
the Earth as alive and as their Mother. And so 
intensely do they feel this liveness that many will 
not run the plough through the soil from dislike of 
lacerating the bosom of Mother-Earth. They see 
plants and trees spring up out of her, and these 
plants and trees providing them with fruits and 
seeds, leaves and roots, upon which to live. And 
they quite naturally look upon her as their Mother. 
And we men of the more advanced races have still 
more cause to consider her as our Mother, for we 
now know that not only the plants and trees but 
we ourselves sprang from her as indeed we are 
nourished by her daily, eating her plants or the 
animals which feed on her plants. And as we judge 
of a lily, not by its origin, the ugly bulb, but by the 
climax, the exquisite flower ; so we should not judge 
of the Earth by its origin, the fiery mist, but by its 
issue ardent human fellowship. And if we thus 
judge her we shall find her a mother worthy of our 

So the first point I have to put before you is 
that we geographers should regard the object of our 
science not as a magnified billiard-ball, but as a 
living being as Mother-Earth. Not as hard, un- 
impressionable, dull, and inert, but as live, supple, 


sensitive, and active active with an intensity of 
activity past all conceivability. Yet with no chaotic 
activity, but with activity having coherence and 
direction, and that direction towards excellence. 

Now as to what we ought to know about the 
Earth. While Geology concerns itself with its 
anatomy, Geography, by long convention, restricts 
its concern to the Earth's outward aspect. Accord- 
ingly, it is in the face and features of Mother-Earth 
that we geographers are mainly interested. We 
must know something of the general principles of 
geology, as painters have to know something of 
the anatomy of the human or animal body. But 
our special business as geographers is with the out- 
ward expression. And my second point is that the 
characteristic of the face and features of the Earth 
most worth learning about, knowing, and under- 
standing is their Beauty ; and that knowledge of 
their Beauty may be legitimately included .within 
the scope of geographical science. 

It may be argued, indeed, that science is con- 
cerned with quantity with what can be measured 
and that Natural Beauty is quality which is some- 
thing that eludes measurement. But geographical 
science, at least, should refuse to be confined within 
any such arbitrary limits and should take cognisance 
of quality as well as quantity. This is my conten- 
tion. I am not maintaining that the actual enjoy- 
ment of the Natural Beauty of the Earth should be 
regarded as within the scope of geographical science, 
though this Society as a social body might well 
participate in such enjoyment. Enjoyment is 


feeling, whereas science is knowing; and feeling 
and knowing are distinct faculties. We can easily 
see the distinction. We may be travelling to 
Plymouth to embark for South Africa on some 
absorbing enterprise, and be so engrossed with 
thoughts of the adventure before us as to be unable 
to enjoy the famed West Country through which 
the train is passing, though all the time we were 
quite aware in our minds of its beauty. We are not 
actually enjoying the beauty, though we know quite 
well that it is there. On another occasion we may 
be returning after long absence in countries of far 
different character ; our minds may be free from any 
disturbing thoughts ; and we may be in a mood to 
enjoy to the full every beauty we see. England will 
then seem to us a veritable garden, the greenness of 
everything, the trimness of the hedges, the sheets 
of purple hyacinths, and some still remaining prim- 
roses, will startle us with joy, though we have long 
been aware of their beauty. This time we both 
know and enjoy the Natural Beauty. We see from 
this instance the distinction between knowing 
Natural Beauty and enjoying it. I am not claiming 
more than that knowing Natural Beauty being 
aware of it is part of Geography. But I am 
claiming liberty to extend our knowing up to the 
extreme limit when it merges into feeling. 

What we have now to consider is the value of 
this Natural Beauty. A region may be flat or 
mountainous, dry or wet, barren or fertile, useful 
or useless for either political or commercial purposes. 
But it is not its flatness or ruggedness, or its utility 
or inutility for political or commercial purposes, 


that we may find in the end is the most noteworthy 
characteristic, but its beauty its own particular 
beauty. The conventional gold or oil prospector, 
or railway engineer, or seeker for sites for rubber 
or coffee plantation, or pasture-lands for sheep and 
cattle, may not bother his head about the beauty of 
the forests, the rivers, the prairies, and the moun- 
tains he is exploring. He is much too absorbed in 
the practical business of life to be distracted by 
anything so fanciful as he thinks. Yet even he 
does see the beauty, and long afterwards he finds it 
is that which has stuck most firmly in his mind. 
And when he has unthinkingly destroyed it, future 
generations lament his action and take measures to 
preserve what remains. Advertisements, also, show 
us daily that nearly all countries and it seems more 
especially new countries like Canada and New 
Zealand regard Natural Beauty as one of their 
most valuable assets. And the reason why the 
Natural Beauty of the Earth is deemed so valuable 
a characteristic of its features is not hard to under- 
stand when we come to reflect. It is because Beauty 
is a quality which appeals to the universal in man 
appeals to all men for all time, and appeals to them 
in an increasing degree. It is something which all 
men can admire and enjoy. And the more they 
enjoy it the more they want to get others to share 
in their enjoyment. Also the more Natural Beauty 
they see, the more, apparently, there is to see. 
Poets in their poems, and painters in their pictures, 
are continually pointing out to us less keen-sighted 
individuals new beauties in the features of the Earth. 
The mineral wealth of the Earth has its limits ; even 


the productivity, though perennially renewed, is not 
unbounded. But the Natural Beauty is inex- 
haustible. And it is not only inexhaustible : it 
positively increases and multiplies the more we see 
of it and the more of us see it. So it has good claim 
to be considered the most valuable characteristic of 
the Earth. 

And if Beauty should prove to be its most 
valuable characteristic, it follows that knowledge of 
it is the knowledge about the Earth which is most 
worth having. It will certainly be the case that 
knowledge of other characteristics may be of more 
value to particular men for a special purpose for the 
time being. If an engineer has to build a railway, 
knowledge of the exact height above sea-level of 
various points and of the general configuration of 
the ground is of more value than knowledge of its 
beauty. But for the engineer himself, when he is 
not thinking of his railway, and for mankind in 
general, knowledge of the beauty may be the more 
valuable kind of knowledge. 

For years I was employed in exploring the region 
where three Empires meet, where the Himalaya, 
the Hindu Kush, and mountains which form the 
Roof of the World converge. I had to report on the 
extent to which it afforded a barrier against the ad- 
vance of Russia towards India, and wherein it would 
lie the most appropriate boundary between India 
and Russia, between India and China, and between 
Russia and China. What I learned of that region 
as a barrier against invasion was of more value to 
the Viceroy and Commander-in-Chief in India and 
the political and military authorities in England 


in the discharge of their official duties than what I 
learned of its beauties. But this utility of the 
region as a military barrier is not the characteristic 
which has most value to men in general. What to 
them has most value is its beauty the awful beauty 
of its terrific gorges and stupendous heights. And 
it is knowledge of this beauty which is most worth 
having, and which has most geographical value. 

Besides exploring the far region beyond Kashmir 
I was also employed for years in exercising a general 
supervision over the entire administration of Kash- 
mir itself. Reports from experts used to come to 
me containing every description of geographical 
knowledge. Surveyors would send in maps for 
general purposes, for the construction of roads and 
railways, for the delimitation of village boundaries, 
and for registering the ownership of individual 
fields. Geologists would report on the crustal 
relief (as the features of Mother-Earth are in- 
elegantly termed). Forestry, agricultural, and 
botanical experts would report on the productivity 
of the soil, on the plants and trees which are or 
might be grown, and on their present and possible 
distribution. Mineralogists would report on the 
minerals, their distribution and the possibility of 
commercially exploiting them. Every aspect of 
geographical science was presented to me. And 
each particular kind of knowledge for its own par- 
ticular purpose was highly valuable. But the point 
I would wish to make is that my geographical 
knowledge of Kashmir would have been incom- 
plete and I would have been wanting in knowledge 
of its most valuable characteristic if I had had no 


knowledge of its beauty. I might have had the most 
precise knowledge about the form and structure of 
the crustal relief of this portion of the Earth, of the 
productivity of the soil, of the distribution of its 
population, and of animals and plants, and about the 
effect of the crustal forms on the animals and plants, 
and of the animals and plants upon the crustal forms 
and of all upon man, and of man upon them all ; but 
if I had had no knowledge of the beauty of these 
crustal forms and of the influence which their beauty 
has upon man, I should not have known what was 
most worth knowing about Kashmir. My geo- 
graphical knowledge of that country would have 
been wanting in its most important particular. 

These illustrations will, I hope, make clear what 
I mean when I urge that Beauty may be the most 
valuable characteristic of the Earth's features, and 
that the scope of Geography should certainly be 
extended to include a knowledge of it. 

And there should be less hesitation in accepting 
the latter half of this conclusion when we note that 
Natural Beauty affects the movements of man, and 
that man is having an increasing effect upon Natural 
Beauty spoiling it in too many cases, improving it 
in many others, but certainly having an effect upon 
it. There is thus a quite definite relation between 
man and Natural Beauty, and it should therefore 
be within the scope of Geography to take note of 
this relationship. To an increasing degree man now 
moves about in search of new Natural Beauty or to 
enjoy it where it has been already found. From all 
over the world men flock to Switzerland, drawn 
there by its beauty. Here at home they go to the 


Thames Valley, or Dartmoor, or the coast of Corn- 
wall, or North Wales, or the Highlands, simply to 
enjoy the Natural Beauty. And railway companies 
and the Governments of Canada, Australia, and 
New Zealand think it worth while to spend large 
sums of money in publishing pictures of the beauty 
of the countries in which they are interested in order 
to attract holiday-makers or home-seekers to them. 
And here, as in other cases, man now is not 
content to be an impassive spectator and to be 
entirely controlled by his surroundings. He does 
not allow the " crustal relief" to have the upper 
hand in the matter. He will not admit that all he 
has to do is to adapt himself to his surroundings. 
That servile view of our position in the Universe is 
fast departing. We are determined to have the 
ascendancy. And much as we admire the Beauty 
of the Earth we set about improving it. We fail 
disastrously at times, I allow. But sometimes un- 
consciously, and sometimes deliberately, we succeed. 
We have in places made the Earth more beautiful 
than it was before we came, and we have certainly 
shown the possibility of this being done. From 
what I have seen in uninhabited countries I can 
realise what the river-valleys of England must have 
been like before the arrival of man beautiful, 
certainly ; but not so beautiful as now. They must 
have been an unrelieved mass of forest and marsh. 
Now the marshes are drained and turned into golden 
meadows. The woods are cleared in part and well- 
kept parks take their place, with trees specially 
selected, pruned, and trim, and made to stand out 
well by themselves so that their umbrageous forms 


may be properly seen. Gardens are laid out, the 
famous lawns of England are created, and flowering 
and variegated shrubs from many lands are planted 
round them. And homes are built the simple 
homes of the poor and the stately homes of the 
rich which in the setting of trees and lawns and 
gardens add unquestionably to the natural beauty 
of the land. St. James's Park, with its lake, its 
well-tended trees,- its daisy-covered lawns, its flower- 
beds, its may and lilac, laburnum and horse-chest- 
nut, and with the towers of Westminster Abbey 
and the Houses of Parliament rising behind it, is 
certainly more beautiful than the same piece of land 
was two thousand years ago in its natural condition. 

What has been done in this respect in England 
is only typical of what is done in every country and 
of what has been done for ages past. The Moghul 
emperors, by the planting of gardens on the borders 
of the Dal Lake in Kashmir, added greatly to its 
beauty. And the Japanese are famous for the choice 
of beautiful surroundings for their temples and for 
the addition which they themselves, by the erection 
of graceful temples and by properly cared-for trees 
and gardens, make to the natural beauty of the 

So man is both affected by the Beauty of the 
Earth's features and himself affects that Beauty. 
And this relationship between man and the Natural 
Beauty of the Earth is one of which Geography 
should take as much cognisance as it does of the 
relationship between man and the productivity of 
the Earth. 

But Natural Beauty is manifested in an 


innumerable variety of forms. The whole Beauty 
is never manifested in any one particular feature or 
region, but each has its unique aspect. Each feature 
has its own peculiar beauty different from the beauty 
of any other feature. And what men naturally do, 
and what I would suggest geographers should 
deliberately do, is to compare the beauty of one 
region with the beauty of another, so that we may 
realise the beauty of each with a greater intensity 
and clearness. We can compare the beauty of 
Kashmir with the beauty of Switzerland and Cali- 
fornia. And the comparison will enable us to see 
more clearly and to appreciate the distinctive 
elements which make up the peculiar beauty of each 
of those countries. It has been frequently noticed 
that people who have always lived in the same place 
are unable to see its full beauty. The inhabitants of 
the Gilgit frontier, when I first went among them, 
had never left their mountains, and were altogether 
ignorant of the special grandeur of their beauty. 
They thought all the world was just the same. But 
men who have seen many varieties of Natural Beauty 
and have taken pains to compare the varieties with 
one another become trained to see more Beauty in 
each feature. Fresh discoveries of Beauty are thus 
made, and our knowledge of the Beauty of the Earth 
is thereby increased. 

What I hope, then, is that this Society should 
definitely recognise that learning to see the Beauty 
in natural features and comparing the peculiar 
beauties of the different features with one another 
is within the scope of Geography, and will indeed 


become its chief function. I should like to see the 
tradition established and well known and recognised 
that we encourage the search for Natural Beauty, 
and look upon the discovery of a new region which 
possesses special beauty, and the discovery of a new 
beauty in a region already well known, as among 
the most important geographical discoveries to be 
made. In this matter I trust our Society will take 
the lead. Englishmen are born lovers of Natural 
Beauty and born travellers. The search for 
Natural Beauty ought, therefore, to be a congenial 
task for this Society. As I have tried to make clear, 
we cannot really know and understand the Earth 
which is the aim of Geography until we have seen 
its beauties and compared the varying beauties of 
the different features with one another and seen how 
they affect man and man affects them. We are 
constituted as a Society for the purpose of diffusing 
geographical knowledge, and I trust that in future 
we shall regard knowledge of the Beauty of the 
Earth as the most important form of geographical 
knowledge that we can diffuse. 

When I was writing out the lecture which I 
was invited to give before the Society on "The 
Geographical Results of the Tibet Mission " I could 
not resist devoting special attention to the natural 
beauty of Tibet. But as I read the manuscript 
through I feared that this attention to Beauty would 
be regarded by our Society as a lapse from the 
narrow path of pure Geography, and that I should 
be frowned upon in consequence and not regarded 
as a serious geographer. I ought, I feared, to have 
devoted more attention to survey matters, to the 


exact trend of the mountains, and the source and 
course of the rivers. But looking back now I see 
that my natural instinct was a right one that a 
knowledge of the beauties of Tibet was not only one 
geographical result of the Mission, but the chief 
geographical result; and that, in fact, I ought to 
have paid not less but more attention, both in Tibet 
to noting its beauties in all their multitudinous 
variety, and in writing my lecture to expressing 
with point and precision what I had seen, so that 
you might share it with me, and learn what is the 
most valuable characteristic of Tibet. 

When the new tradition is established, and 
travellers become aware that we regard knowledge 
of Natural Beauty as within the scope of our 
activities, the error into which I fell will be avoided. 
We shall think travellers barbaric if they continue 
to concern themselves with all else about the face of 
the Earth except its Beauty. We shall no longer 
tolerate a geographer who will learn everything 
about the utility of a region for military, political, 
and commercial purposes, but who will take no 
trouble to see the beauty it contains. We shall 
expect a much higher standard of him. We 
shall expect him to cultivate the power of the eye 
till he has a true eye for country a seeing eye ; an 
eye that can see into the very heart and, through all 
the thronging details, single out the one essential 
quality ; an eye which can not only observe but can 
make discoveries. We shall require him to have the 
capacity for discriminating the essential from the 
unessential, for bringing that essential into proper 
relief and placing upon it the due emphasis. When 


he thus has true vision and can really see a country, 
and when he has acquired the capacity for expressing 
either in words or in painting what he has seen, so 
that he can communicate it to us, then he will have 
reached the standard which this Society should 
demand. And this is nothing less than saying that 
we expect of him that he should have in him some- 
thing of the poet and the painter. 

Careless snap-shotting in the field and idle 
turning on of lantern slides at our meetings will no 
longer satisfy us. A traveller if he is going to photo- 
graph must spend the hours which a real artist would 
devote to discovering the essential beauty of a scene, 
and to composing his picture before he dreams of 
exposing his plate. But we want more than photo- 
graphs : we want pictures to give that important 
element in Natural Beauty the colour. And we 
want pictures painted in words as well as on canvas. 
Not shallow rhapsodising of the journalese and 
guide-book type, but true expression in which each 
noun exactly fits the object, each epithet is truly 
applicable, and each phrase is rightly turned, and in 
which the emphasis is placed on the precisely right 
point, and the whole composed so as distinctly to 
bring out that point. 

Then in time we shall gather together the most 
valuable knowledge about the Earth. And when a 
stranger from a far land comes to us to know about 
any particular country, we shall be able to provide 
him with something worth having. When an 
Australian comes to England and wishes to know 
its essential characteristics, we shall do something 
more than hand him over maps and treatises on the 


orography and hydrography, the distribution of 
rainfall, of plants and animals, and the population. 
We shall regard ourselves as having omitted to point 
out to him the essential characteristic of the land 
from which Englishmen have sprung and in which 
they dwell if we have not shown him the beauty of 
its natural features. We shall give him the maps as 
aids to finding his way about, and we shall give him 
the treatises. But we shall tell him that these are 
only aids for special purposes, and that if he is really 
to understand England he must know its beauty in 
its many aspects. He will then have the geographical 
knowledge of chief value about England. 

A project in which the Society is now interested 
affords an excellent opportunity of applying the 
principles I have been trying to persuade you to 
adopt. The most prominent feature of this Earth, 
and the feature of most geographical interest, is the 
great range of the Himalaya Mountains. In this 
range the supreme summit is Mount Everest, the 
highest point on the Earth, 29,002 feet above sea- 
level. Attempts have been made to ascend the 
second highest mountain, K 2 , 28,278 feet, notably 
by the Duke of the Abruzzi. Colonel Hon. Charles 
Bruce, Major Rawling, and others have had in mind 
the idea of ascending Mount Everest itself. And 
for more than a year past both the Alpine Club and 
this Society have been definitely entertaining the 
idea of helping forward the achievement of this 
object. We hope within the next few years to hear 
of a human being standing on the pinnacle of the 


If I am asked, What is the use of climbing this 
highest mountain? I reply, No use at all : no more 
use than kicking a football about, or dancing, or 
playing on the piano, or writing a poem, or painting 
a picture. The geologist predicts to a certainty that 
no gold will be found on the summit, and if gold did 
exist there no one would be able to work it. Climb- 
ing Mount Everest will not put a pound into any- 
one's pocket. It will take a good many pounds out 
of people's pockets. It will also entail the expen- 
diture of much time and necessitate the most careful 
forethought and planning on the part of those who 
are organising the expedition. And it will mean 
that those who carry it out will have to keep them- 
selves at the very highest pitch of physical fitness, 
mental alertness, and moral courage and endurance. 
They will have to be prepared to undergo the 
severest hardships and run considerable risks. And 
all this, I say, without the prospect of making a 
single penny. So there will be no use in climbing 
Mount Everest. If the ascent is made at all it will 
be made for the sheer love of the thing, from pure 
enjoyment the enjoyment a man gets from pitting 
himself against a big obstacle. 

But if there is no use, there is unquestionably 
good in climbing Mount Everest. The accomplish- 
ment of such a feat will elevate the human spirit. 
It will give men and especially us geographers a 
feeling that we really are getting the upper hand on 
the Earth, that we are acquiring a true mastery of 
our surroundings. As long as we impotently creep 
about at the foot of these mighty mountains and 
gaze on their summits without attempting to ascend 



them, we entertain towards them a too excessive 
feeling of awe. We are almost afraid of them. We 
have a secret fear that they, the material, are 
dominating us, the spiritual. But as soon as we 
have stood on their summit we feel that we dominate 
them that we, the spiritual, have ascendancy over 
them, the material. And if man stands on Earth's 
highest summit he will have an increased pride and 
confidence in himself in his struggle for ascendancy 
over matter. This is the incalculable good which 
the ascent of Mount Everest will confer. 

We who have lived among the peoples of the 
Himalaya are better able than most to appreciate 
how great this good is. We have seen how tame 
and meagre is their spirit in comparison with the 
spirit of, for example, the Swiss, or French, or 
Italian inhabitants of the Alps ; and in comparison 
with what men's spirit ought to be. They have 
many admirable qualities, but they are fearful and 
unenterprising. Contact with them brings home to 
us what a spirit of daring and high adventure means 
to a people. And we are impressed with the 
necessity of taking every step possible to create, 
sustain, and strengthen this spirit in a people and in 
the human race generally. The ascent of Mount 
Everest, we believe, will be a big step in that 

The actual climbing of this mountain this 
Society will leave in the hands of the Alpine Club, 
who have special experience in mountain climbing. 
But the reconnaissance and mapping of the moun- 
tain and its neighbourhood will fitly remain with us. 
And here we reach the point where the principles 



I have been offering for your consideration might 
be applied. Were it not that the size of the first 
party will have to be limited on account of transport 
and supply difficulties, I should greatly like to have 
a poet or a painter, or anyhow a climber like Mr. 
Freshfield with a poetic soul, a member of it. For 
I say quite deliberately and mean quite literally that 
the geography of Mount Everest and its vicinity 
will not be complete until it has been painted by 
some great painter and described by some great 
poet. Making the most accurate map of it will not 
be completing our knowledge of it. The map-maker 
only prepares the way in some cases for the soldier 
or the politician or the engineer in this case for 
the geologist, the naturalist, and above all for the 
painter and poet. Until we have a picture and a 
poem in prose or verse of Mount Everest we 
shall not really know it; our Geography will be 
incomplete, and, indeed, will lack its chief essential. 
The Duke of the Abruzzi, in his expedition to 
the second highest mountain in the world, took with 
him the finest mountain photographer there is 
Signor Vittorio Sella and he brought back superb 
photographs, for he is a true artist with a natural 
feeling for high mountains. But I have seen the 
very mountains that he photographed, and when I 
look at these photographs the best that man can 
produce I almost weep to think how little of the 
real character of great mountains they communicate 
to us. The sight of the photographs wrings me with 
disappointment that it was a photographer and not 
a painter who went there. Here in Europe are 
artists by the score painting year after year the same 


old European scenes. And there in the Himalaya 
is the grandest scenery in the world, and not a 
painter from Europe ever goes there except just 
one, the great Russian Verestchagin, whose pictures, 
alas! are now buried somewhere in Russia. The 
Indian Services might do something, and they have 
indeed produced one great painter of Himalayan 
scenery, Colonel Tanner. But the Services are 
limited, and it is to Europe that we must mainly 

On the first expedition to Mount Everest it 
may be only possible to send a photographer. But 
this will be a pioneering expedition to open the way, 
at least, for the painter. And then we may have 
Mount Everest pictured in all her varied and ever- 
varying moods, as I have, from a distance, seen her 
for three most treasured months. Now serene and 
majestic ; now in a tumult of fury. Now rooted 
solid on earth ; now hung high in the azure. Now 
hard and material ; now ethereal as spirit. Now 
stern and austere cold, and white, and grey ; 
now warm and radiant and of every most delicate 
hue. Now in one aspect, now in its precisely 
opposite, but always sublime and compelling; 
always pure and unspotted; and always pointing 
us starward. 

These are the pictures either by painter or by 
poet that we want. And they can only be painted 
by one who has himself gone in among the moun- 
tains, confronted them squarely, braced himself 
against them, faced and overcome them realised 
their greatness, realised also that great as they are 
he is greater still. 


And this that we want of the greatest natural 
feature of the Earth is only typical of what this 
Society should require in regard to all Earth's other 
features in order to make our Geography complete. 
As men have pictured the loveliness of England, 
the fairness of France, the brilliance of Greece, so 
we want them to picture the spaciousness of Arabia, 
the luxuriance of Brazil, and the sublimity of the 
Himalaya. For not till that has been done will our 
Geography be complete. But when that has been 
accomplished and the quest for Beauty is being 
pushed to the remotest lands and Earth's farthest 
corners, even the British schoolboy will love his 
Geography, and our science will have won its final 
triumph. At nothing less, then, than the heart of 
the boy should our Society deign to aim . 



You have been good enough to leave to me the 
choice of subject on which to address you this even- 
ing, and I have chosen the subject " Natural Beauty 
and Geography " because I have the honour to hold 
at present the position of President of the Royal 
Geographical Society, and am therefore supposed 
to know something about Geography, and because 
a love of Natural Beauty is one of the great passions 
of my life. 

I believe the two are inseparably connected with 
one another, and, briefly, the view I want to put 
before you is this that a description of the Natural 
Beauty of the Earth should be included in 
Geography. By Geography we mean a descrip- 
tion of the Earth. And we cannot adequately 
describe the Earth until we have observed it in all 
its aspects and really know and understand it. And 
we cannot really understand the Earth until we have 
entered into her spirit and feel ourselves in harmony 
with it. But when our spirit is in harmony with 
the spirit of the Earth we, in that instant, see the 
Beauty of the Earth. When we are seeing Beauty 
in the Earth we are understanding the Earth. In 


describing the Beauty of the Earth we shall be 
describing something that we really know about it 
something of the real nature of the Earth. 

For this reason I maintain that Geography 
should be taken to include a description of the 
Natural Beauty of the Earth's features. The de- 
scription of the Earth is not full and complete, and 
is lacking in its most important particular, when it 
excludes a description of Natural Beauty, and only 
includes scientific details about the size and shape 
of the earth ; its configuration ; the composition of 
the crust ; the depth, area, and volume of the ocean ; 
the temperature, degree of moisture and pressure 
of the atmosphere ; the height of the mountains ; 
the length, breadth, volume, course, and catchment 
area of its rivers ; the mineral and vegetable products 
of various regions ; the political areas into which it 
is divided ; the relation of the political and commer- 
cial activities of the population to the physical 
character of the features and to the climate. I, of 
course, acknowledge the importance of all this 
geographical knowledge. To the historian and the 
statesman it is essential that he should know the part 
which a certain mountain range or river or desert 
has played in human history. A soldier must know 
with extreme accuracy the configuration of the 
country over which his army is operating. An 
engineer must know the exact level and contour of 
a region over which he has to lay a railway or con- 
struct a canal. A merchant must know whether a 
country produces cotton, tea, and sugar ; or wheat, 
wool, and meat. For all these and others, each for 
his own particular purpose, we \vant the kind of 


information I have described above that is, what 
usually goes under the name of Geography. But 
the point I wish now to urge is that we shall not 
have plucked the very flower of geographical know- 
ledge until in addition to all this we have a know- 
ledge of the Beauty of the Earth. 

Perhaps you will understand me better if I 
illustrate my point. When a dressmaker has to 
make a dress for a lady she has to measure her with 
the minutest accuracy. She must gain a know- 
ledge, by careful measurement, of the exact shape 
and size of the lady's body, its true contour, and 
the length and breadth of the limbs just as an 
engineer must have accurate knowledge of the 
Earth's surface. And to the dressmaker as a dress- 
maker knowledge of the lady's beauty has no value 
whatever. The lady may have the beauty of form 
of a Venus, but if the dressmaker has only know- 
ledge of that beauty and has not exact measure- 
ments she will never be able to make the dress. 
But for humanity at large and, as far as that goes, 
for the dressmaker herself when she is free of her 
dressmaking knowledge of the lady's beauty is the 
knowledge that really matters. Whether she is 
twenty-six inches round the waist or only twenty- 
five matters comparatively little. 

Now the Earth I regard as a lady as dear 
Mother-Earth. A real living being live enough, 
at any rate, to give birth to mankind, to micro- 
scopic animalculse first and through them to man. 
And no one can look at the features of Mother- 
Earth without recognising her Beauty. It is there 
staring us in the face. So I cannot conceive why 


we geographers should confine ourselves to the dress- 
maker attitude of mind and describe every other 
characteristic of the Earth except her Beauty. I 
should have thought that it was the very first thing 
with which we should have concerned ourselves 
that the first duty of those who profess and call 
themselves geographers should have been to 
describe the beauty of their Mother-Earth. 

Say a visitor from Mars arrived upon the Earth, 
he would no doubt report on his return that the 
mountains here were so many thousands of feet 
high and the seas so many thousands of feet deep, 
and the area of the land and sea so many thousand 
square miles ; that the productivity of the land in 
one quarter had had the effect of attracting a large 
part of the population to that quarter, and the 
aridity or cold of another portion had had the effect 
of preventing human settlement there ; and that 
mountains, seas, or deserts confining certain groups 
of human beings tightly within given areas had had 
the effect of compacting them into highly organised 
political bodies. All this and much more geogra- 
phical knowledge the Martian would bring back to 
Mars. But his fellow-Martians would tell him that 
this was all very interesting, but that what they 
really wanted to know was what the Earth was like. 
They would ask him if he had not some lantern 
slides of the Earth, some photographs, something 
which would convey to them an impression of the 
real character of the Earth. And then at last he 
would be driven to describe her Beauty. 

In the best words he could find he would express 
the impression which the Earth had made upon him. 


If he were a painter and if the Martians possess paint, 
he would paint pictures to express the feelings which 
a contemplation of the Earth had aroused in him. 
That is, he would show them the Beauty of the 
Earth in her various aspects. Perhaps he might 
not be able to see as much Beauty in her as we her 
children see. We may be too partial and see 
beauties that a stranger may not perceive. On the 
other hand, he might see beauties that we through 
being so accustomed to them have never recognised 
as men living always within sight of some superb 
mountain scarcely appreciate its grandeur. Any- 
how, he would describe to the Martians whatever 
he had seen of the Beauty of the Earth, and then 
at last they would feel that they were really able 
to know and understand her. 

To descend from these celestial spheres and to 
examine what actually happens among ourselves 
when we venture into an unknown portion of this 
globe and seek to know what is there, a chief in- 
gredient in the lure which draws men on to fill up 
the blank spaces in the map is undoubtedly a love of 
Natural Beauty ; and its Natural Beauty is certainly 
what above everything else regarding that region 
remains in their memories after it has been ex- 
plored. It is not only love of Natural Beauty that 
draws men on. Love of adventure has much to 
do with it also. Men feel a fearful joy in pitting 
themselves against stern natural obstacles and 
being compelled to exert all their physical energy 
and endurance, and all their wit and nerve and 
courage, in order to overcome them. The stiffer 
the obstacle, the more insistent do they feel the call 


to measure themselves against it. They thrill to 
the expectation of having their full capacities and 
faculties drawn out. By some curious natural in- 
stinct they seem driven to put themselves into posi- 
tions where they are forced to exert themselves to 
the full stretch of their capabilities. This same 
instinct tells them that they will be never so happy 
as when they are making the very utmost of them- 
selves and exercising their whole being at its highest 
pitch. Anticipation of their joy in adventure is 
therefore no small part of the lure which draws men 
into the unknown. And with it also is ambition to 
make a name and achieve fame. Some, too, are 
drawn on by the hope of wealth through finding 
gold, diamonds, and so on. But from what I have 
seen of gold and diamond prospectors on the spot in 
the act of prospecting, I should say it was quite as 
much love of adventure as covetousness of wealth 
that drew them into unknown parts. For experi- 
ence shows them only too often that it is not the 
prospector but the company promoter and financier 
who make the money even when the prospector 
finds the gold or diamonds. Yet prospectors go 
forward as cheerfully as ever. They are fascinated 
by the life of adventure. 

All this is true. Men delight in sheer adventure 
and in testing and sharpening themselves against 
formidable natural obstacles. Yet we shall find 
that love of Natural Beauty has an even greater 
share than love of adventure in enticing them to the 
unknown. Men picture to themselves beauties of 
the most wonderful kind which they expect to see 
enchanting islands, mysterious forests, majestic 


rivers, heavenly mountains, delightful lakes. In- 
stinct tells them that they will have the joy which 
comes from exerting their capacities to the full. 
But somewhere in the back of their being is also this 
expectation of seeing wonders of Natural Beauty, 
and of seeing more of this Beauty from the very fact 
that they will be seeing it as a prize truly won and 
when their faculties are all tuned up to a fine pitch 
of appreciation. 

And when they return from the unknown, when 
the adventure is over, when they are again relaxed, 
it will be the Natural Beauty which they have seen 
that will remain in their memories long after they 
have forgotten their exertion, long after they have 
expended any \vealth they may have found, long 
after they have recorded the exact measurements 
of the various features of the region. 

Curiosity to see the Natural Beauty of an un- 
known region is a principal ingredient in the lure 
that draws men to it. And Natural Beauty is what, 
above everything else in regard to the unknown re- 
gion, stands out in men's memories on their return. 

This at any rate is my own experience, and we 
are perhaps on safer ground when we speak of what 
we have ourselves experienced than when we speak 
of what we imagine must be the experiences of 
others. Though in this case I have good reason to 
believe that my own experiences are very similar to 
the experiences of others, and may therefore be 
taken as typical. 

Almost my earliest recollections are of a Somer- 
setshire village set in a lovely valley, fringed with 
woods and surrounded by hills. Up the hills on the 


side of the valley on which I lived I used constantly 
to go. But over the hills on the far side of the river 
I was never taken. So I used to picture to myself 
wonderful woods and rivers, and castles and great 
cities, and I longed to go there. The lure of 
Natural Beauty was beginning to make itself felt. 
As I grew to boyhood I was fortunate enough to 
be taken to North Wales, Devonshire and Corn- 
wall, and later on to Switzerland and the South 
of France, and everywhere I saw much Natural 
Beauty. But, still, that only made me want to see 

In all these cases, however, I only went where I 
was taken. I did not go where I chose or with an 
object of my own. It was not till I was in India 
and had the first leave from my regiment that I 
could go where I liked. Now, where I liked was to 
the Himalaya. And if I look back now and enquire 
of myself what made me choose the Himalaya, I can 
say most clearly that it was because I had in my 
mind a vision of long snowy ranges, and dazzling 
peaks, and frowning precipices, and rushing tor- 
rents, and endless forests. I thought how glorious 
it would be to be able to wander about at will and 
see all the magnificent scenery, to feast on the 
Natural Beauty, and when I came back to be able 
to tell others of the wonders I had seen. 

So I made my first short trip in the Himalaya. 
But this only served to arouse my curiosity still 
more. I had seen some great mountains. But 
they were none of them more than 20,000 feet in 
height. I wanted to see still higher mountains. I 
heard, too, that up the valley of the Sutlej were 


some fearful gorges through which the river forced 
its way. I wanted to see them too, and see a great 
river in the very act of forcing its way through the 
mighty Himalaya. Above all, I wanted to see 
what lay on the other side of the Himalaya. I 
wanted to get into Tibet. 

That for the time being proved impossible, and 
my thoughts wandered off to the far eastern part of 
Asia. I had read a book called " On the Amur," 
by Atkinson. Not altogether a very veracious 
book, but a fascinating book for all that. In it 
were alluring pictures of the broad, placid river. 
Rich forests came down to the water's edge. And 
on its surface were depicted delightful rafts and 
canoes. To glide down such a river, to camp on 
its banks and plunge into the forests which clothed 
them, seemed a joy second only to the joy of 
scrambling about the Himalaya. So with Mr. 
H. E. M. James now Sir Evan James I went to 
Manchuria, not, indeed, to reach the Amur itself, 
but to discover the source of its great tributary the 
Sungari, and to follow it down through the forests 
and over the plains for several hundred miles. 

Now, what I want to impress upon you is that 
in all these cases it was the Natural Beauty which was 
the attraction it was the picture I made to myself 
of what these countries would be like that drew me 
on. And I am sure it is with others as it was with 
me. Natural Beauty is at bottom what incites the 

And, whether I had to go where I was taken or 
could go where I chose, it was the Natural Beauty 
that stuck in my memory. And when I returned 


it was of the Natural Beauty that I wished to tell 
my friends. And this, again, is the experience of 
others also. To this day, though I have never since 
seen them, I remember the beauties of Cader Idris 
and Dolgelly, Snowdon and Carnarvon, in North 
Wales, and of the rugged cliffs and long Atlantic 
waves on the Cornish coast. The Dart, here 
rippling over boulders and between rocky banks, 
here in deep, clear salmon pools, here merging into 
a long inlet of the sea and everywhere framed in 
wooded hill-sides, I have often again seen. But 
even if I had not, its beauty would never have de- 
parted from my memory. And it is the same with 
the first view of the Alps from the Jura, the view 
of Lake Geneva, of the Jungfrau, of the Pyrenees 
from Pau, and of the valley of the Loire. I have 
never seen those parts of Switzerland and of France 
since then, but their beauty remains with me to this 
day. And it is of their beauty that I have ever after- 
wards been naturally inclined to speak. When I 
talk about the Loire I do not tell my friends that it 
rises in a certain place, is so many miles long, at 
certain parts has a certain width, depth, and 
volume, and eventually flows into a certain sea. 
What I naturally speak about is its beauty, the rich 
valley through which it flows, the graceful bridges 
by which it is spanned, the picturesque old towns 
and romantic castles on the banks. And this is the 
common habit, of mankind. Our friends may bore 
us and we may bore our friends with intermin- 
able accounts of the discomfort and inconveniences 
and the petty little incidents of travel. But when 
they and we have got through that and settle down 


to describe the country itself, it is of its beauty that 
we speak. 

Natural Beauty is what attracts us to a country. 
Its Natural Beauty is the fact about it which re- 
mains most persistently in our memory. And it is 
about its Natural Beauty that we are most inclined 
to speak. Lastly, when we are in distant countries 
it is of the Natural Beauty that we chiefly think. 
When our thoughts go back to the home country it 
is not on its exact measurements and configuration 
that they dwell, but on its beauty. 

From all of which considerations I conclude that 
any description of the Earth which excludes a 
description of its Natural Beauty is incomplete. 
Geography must include a description of Natural 
Beauty. And personally I would go so far as to 
say that the description of Natural Beauty is the 
most important part of Geography. 

Here I must answer an objection which may be 
raised namely, that Natural Beauty is the concern 
of ^Esthetics, not of Geography. An objector 
may freely acknowledge the value and importance 
of recognising and describing the Natural Beauty 
of a country, but may contend that this is beyond 
the province of Geography. It should be left to 
poets and painters, he might say, and geographers 
should confine themselves to the more prosaic busi- 
ness of exact measurement, of accurate delineation, 
of reasoning regarding the relation of the facts to 
one another, and of explaining the facts. 

To such an objector I would reply that Geography 
is an art as well as a science. And in parenthesis 
I may say that I doubt whether any science can be 


complete which has not art behind it. We shall 
never be able fully to know and understand the 
Earth or to describe what we see if we use our in- 
tellectual and reasoning powers alone. If we are 
to attain to a complete knowledge of the Earth, and 
if we are to describe what w r e learn about it in an 
adequate manner so that others may participate in 
our knowledge, then we must use our hearts as well 
as our heads. We must be artists as well as 
meticulous classifiers, cataloguers, and reasoners. 
The Earth is a living being, a throbbing, palpitat- 
ing, living being "live" enough to have given 
birth to the remote ancestors of mankind, and live 
enough, so some biologists consider, to be con- 
tinually to this day generating the lowliest forms of 
organisms. To know and understand a living 
being, particularly when that living being happens 
to be his own Mother, man must use his heart as 
well as his head. 

With his head alone the geographer may do a 
vast amount of most useful and necessary work 
which will help us to understand the Earth. He 
may collect and classify facts about her and record 
measurements, and reason about these facts and 
measurements, but if he is to get the deepest vision 
of the Earth and learn the profoundest truth about 
her he must exercise his finest spiritual senses as 
well. And when he brings those faculties of the 
soul into play, it will be the Beauty on the face of 
Mother-Earth that he will see and that will disclose 
to him her real nature. 

And therefore I hold that if it be the function of 
Geography to know the Earth and to describe the 


Earth, then the objection that the description of 
its Natural Beauty is outside the scope of Geography 
is not a valid objection. The picture and the poem 
are as legitimate a part of Geography as the map. 

Some years ago in lecturing to the Royal 
Geographical Society I said that the Society ought 
to have given Wordsworth the Gold Medal. I 
meant that the poet by his vision had taught us 
more about the Lake District than any ordinary 
geographer had been able to see. With his finer 
sensibility he had been able to see deeper. He had 
been able to reveal to us truths about the district 
which no mere ordnance surveyor was able to dis- 
close. He was a true discoverer a geographical 
discoverer a geographer of the highest type. He 
had helped us really to know and understand the 

Be it noted, too, that he did not, as some would 
think, put into the lakes and hills and valleys some- 
thing from within himself which was not really in 
those natural features. The particular beauty that 
he saw there was there waiting to be revealed. The 
natural features aroused emotions in his sensitive 
soul, and his soul being aroused saw the beauty in 
them. If the district had been of billiard-table 
flatness, with no lakes, no hills, no valleys, then 
even he, with all his poetic feeling and imagination, 
could not have put into the district what it did not 
possess. The beauty that he saw was really there, 
only it required a poetic soul to discover and reveal 
it. The spirit of the poet put itself in touch with 
the spirit of the district and elicited from the district 
what was already in it. The spirit of Wordsworth 



and the spirit of the district acted and reacted upon 
one another and came into harmony with one 
another. And as he had the capacity for com- 
municating to others what he himself had seen, we 
are now able to see in the Lakeland beauties which 
our forefathers had scarcely known. 

This is why I suggest to you that Natural 
Beauty should be considered as a legitimate part of 
Geography. And if you will look about you, you 
will note that Natural Beauty is having an increasing 
effect upon the movements of men. There is a 
very definite relationship between the Beauty of 
the Earth and her human inhabitants. The Poet 
Laureate builds his house on the top of Boar's Hill 
not because the soil is specially productive up there 
so that he may be able to grow food, for the soil is 
rather poor; not because water is easily available, 
for it is very difficult to get, as he found when his 
house took fire ; not because of the climate, for the 
climate is just as good a hundred feet lower down ; 
not because it is easily accessible to Oxford, for a 
big climb up the hill is entailed every time he returns 
from that city not for any of these reasons did he 
build his house there, but because of the view which 
he obtains from that spot. It was Natural Beauty 
which drew, the Poet Laureate to Boar's Hill, as it 
was Natural Beauty which drew Tennyson to Black- 
down to build Aldworth with a view all over the 
Surrey hills and the Sussex Downs. 

It is this same spell of Natural Beauty, too, 
which is drawing people all over England to build 
their houses on the most beautiful spots. Our great 
country-seats the pride of England are usually 


placed where the natural scenery is finest. Humbler 
dwellings whenever the owner has the opportunity 
of making a choice are for a similar reason built 
wherever a beautiful view, however limited, may 
be obtained. Whole towns even are built on spots 
where the surroundings are most beautiful, or, at 
any rate, if for some other reason they were located 
where they are they tend to spread in the direction 
of most beauty. Dartmouth was originally built 
where it is because that site made an excellent port. 
But the new town has spread all over the cliffs at 
the entrance of the harbour wherever a beautiful 
view may be found. It is the same with Torquay. 
People originally went there on account of the 
warm, soft air. But though they can get much 
the same air in any part of the Torquay area, where 
they like to build their houses is where they can get 
the finest views. 

On the Continent a similar tendency may be 
observed. Nice, Cannes, Monte Carlo, Biarritz, 
Montreux, Vevey, were no doubt originally located 
where they are for other reasons than only the 
facilities they afford for observing Natural Beauty, 
but that they have grown to what they are is un- 
doubtedly due to Natural Beauty, and Natural 
Beauty has given the direction in which they have 
expanded. It is not by chance that villas and 
terraces and hotels have been built just on those 
particular points from which the most beautiful 
views may be seen. 

And how great is the influence of Natural 
Beauty upon the movements of men may be 
gathered from the amount of money railway 


companies and hotels spend in advertising the 
charms of the particular localities which they serve. 
Railway-carriages are full of photographs and tourist 
agencies of pictures of different points in the neigh- 
bourhood of the railway or hotel. And we may be 
certain that business companies would not go to the 
expense of setting up these photographs and pictures 
if they did not think that people were influenced by 
them and would be tempted to travel to the scenes 
they depict. 

The development of char-a-banc tours is an- 
other indication of the attraction and the increas- 
ing attraction of Natural Beauty. Since the 
War, especially, there has been a remarkable 
tendency of people of every rank in life to rush off 
whenever they can get a holiday to the most beauti- 
ful parts of these islands to the moors of Yorkshire 
and Devonshire, to the Wye, the Dart, and the 
Severn, to the mountains of Wales, Westmoreland, 
and Scotland to wherever Natural Beauty may be 
found. It is a noteworthy and most refreshing 
feature in our national life. 

Every summer, too, both here and on the Con- 
tinent, people make their way to the most beautiful 
parts of Europe to Switzerland or the Pyrenees, 
the Vosges or the Rhine. And in the Dominions 
and America whenever they get their holidays they 
likewise trek away to mountain, lake, or river, 
wherever Nature may be enjoyed at her best. Men 
may, to carry on the ordinary business of life, be 
compelled to live in cities and places which are 
chosen for other reasons than their facilities for 
observing Natural Beauty. But whenever they can 


get away from their ordinary duties the tendency of 
men and a tendency increasing in strength is to 
fly away to the moors and sea-coast and river-sides 
and wherever else they can see the beauties of the 

Then, again, men are increasingly sensitive 
about preserving Natural Beauty wherever it is 
best. It is quite true that men by the building of 
industrial towns and the erection of hideous fac- 
tories, mining plant, gasometers, and so on terribly 
destroy Natural Beauty. But they are at least 
becoming conscious of their sins in this respect and 
of what they have lost thereby. They are therefore 
the more anxious to preserve what remains. And 
whenever there is an attempt to build on Box Hill, 
or erect an electric power-station on Dartmoor, a 
howl of execration is raised. And this howl means 
that men do value Natural Beauty and mean to 
preserve it. 

Young countries also realise its value. In Cali- 
fornia the Yosemite Valley is preserved for ever for 
human enjoyment. And in Canada, Australia, 
and South Africa national parks are protected 
against the encroachments of industrial enterprises. 

Men not only preserve spots of Natural Beauty ; 
they also seek to improve them. The nobleman of 
ancient lineage and the new millionaire alike strive 
to add to the beauty of their estates. The hours 
they love best are the hours they can devote to open- 
ing up vistas, planting beautiful trees or flowering 
shrubs from distant lands, building up rockeries, 
forming artificial lakes, laying out lawns, and stock- 
ing their gardens with the choicest flowers. 


The effect of Natural Beauty upon man and of 
man upon Natural Beauty is immense. Geographers 
take note of the effect which the Alps by reason of 
their height and ruggedness, or the Rhine by reason 
of its length, breadth, and depth, have upon the 
activities of men upon their history, politics, and 
economic life. My contention is that equally 
should geographers note the effect which these same 
natural features of the Earth by reason of their 
beauty have upon men's activities and movements. 

And when Natural Beauty is fully recognised as 
within the province of Geography, we shall be 
taught to pay to it the attention it deserves taught 
to look for it, taught how to observe it, taught how 
to describe it, taught where are the regions of 
special beauty and wherein their beauty lies, and lastly 
taught where in an ordinary district Beauty may 
be found, for even in the flattest, dreariest region 
some beauty at some time of day or at some season 
may be discovered. We shall, in short, be taught 
to cultivate the sense for Natural Beauty, and how 
to put in fitting words a description of the beauty 
we see. Our geography textbooks, besides all the 
mathematical, physical, political, and commercial 
geography they contain, will tell us something of 
the Natural Beauty of the countries they set them- 
selves to describe. And geographers when they 
set themselves to describe a new region will not 
think it necessary to confine themselves within the 
old limits, but will do what the ordinary man in- 
stinctively does describe its beauties. 

Our methods of describing countries will thus 
radically change. A few years ago Colonel Tanner 


of the Survey of India read to the Royal Geogra- 
phical Society a paper entitled " Our Present 
Knowledge of the Himalaya." In that paper he 
gave an account of the height of the peaks, the 
trend of the mountain ranges, the course of the 
rivers, and a deal of other very valuable geographical 
information. But in only one single line did he 
make any remark about the natural beauty of that 
wonderful region. Yet this omission was not due 
to any lack of appreciation by Colonel Tanner of 
Himalayan beauty, for he himself had painted the 
finest pictures of the Himalaya which have yet been 
produced. He made no mention of it because he 
thought that to describe the natural beauty of the 
Himalaya was to stray beyond the bounds of 

Such a grievous misconception of the true scope 
of Geography will, I trust, be removed in future. 
And when it no longer exists Geography will re- 
quire for its pursuit the exercise of the finest facul- 
ties of the soul as well as the strictest qualities of the 
intellect. It will call forth capacity for the closest 
and most accurate observation and the highest 
powers of description. To us adventure-loving and 
Nature-loving Englishmen it should of all subjects 
be the most popular. 



Santa Barbara 


Series 9482 


III,' I III: I III llh 

A 001 246 559 ;