From: Ishill, Joseph. (1927). Élisée and Élie Reclus: In Memoriam. Compiled, ed. and printed by Joseph Ishill. Berkeley Heights, N.J.: Oriole Press.


EPOSE, the dolce far niente, is sweeter than anything else to the Aleutians. From the top of rocks or from -their turfy roofs they love to gaze upon the sea. It is said that they wait for the rise of dawn, to bathe themselves in light. Anyhow, when morning breaks, both men and women ascend to their posts of observation. Nor clouds, nor vapours, nor fogs escape them; from their direction, their forms, their colours, they infer what kind of weather it will be, and what the motion of the sea, the strength and the nature of the waves. If they have leisure, they stay motionless for hours, without making a sign or breathing a word. In spite of mists and icy wi , nds, these indolent and melancholy dreamers do the "kief' like the Orientals. Yet idleness is not one of their vices, for they contribute with patience and conscientiousness an immense amount of labour, if they comprehend the necessity for it; but they will take care to expend trouble and effort only when it is indispensable, preferring, like the wise Solomon, "a dry morsel and quietness therewith, than a house full of good cheer with strife. " . .




Elie Reclus (1827-1904)

E was a very quiet, silent and dreamy child. While staying at his maternal grand parents, the inmates of the little house were all together on a fine summer evening before the door leading to the garden. A full moon rose in the east. Elie, on his little chair, by the side of his great grandmother, said not a word. When called to rise to go to bed, he did not stir.

-Are you deaf? what are you thinking of? the grandfather called to him.

-I should like so much to be seated on the moon and to walk about on the sky like the stars! was the reply.

From that date to a certain portion of the family, Elie was a dreamer, a sky-walker.

Then came the great drama which decided suddenly the destiny of the children and which determined all their future life. The Pastor Reclus was at that time the prebendary of a little church at Montcaret, near Sainte-Foy-la-Grande, in the luxurious valley of the Dordogne, at the same time, despite his youth, he had been nominated by his peers president of the Consistory; his classical studies, also enabled him to give some lessons. He was greatly esteemed by all, not only for his own real merits, but mainly on account of his position, his parental relations and the high ambitions attributed to him which he could have realized, if he had wanted to do- so. But the Pastor Reclus was no ordinary man content to live according to the wishes of the world : he had the strange fancy to wish to live according to his own conscience.

Now this conscience at that time was greatly troubled by scruples. It asked itself whether an ardent apostle of Christ "who had not even a stone upon which to lay his head" had the right to proceed by means of a salary toward wellbeing and wealth: it asked also whether it was not a criminal infidelity to accept a place and a salary from the State, that is from temporal power, whilst every vocation should come from above, that is from God, Eternal himself; finally, the poor wounded soul asked itself whether it had not been guilty against man as much as against God by acquiescing to the appeal of the well-to-do people of Montcaret, and not to that of the ardent disciples of Christ? What to do in this continuous struggle of all his intimate self? Which decision to take? His best friends of course advised him to act as quiet egotists as they would not have failed to do themselves. They called him in kind terms a fool, a visionary, even a criminal against his wife and his children, but they brought no rest to his tortured conscience...

Elie followed with docility the religious instruction of his father, the classical lessons of his mother; always quiet and tender, more serious than children at his age usually are, he was troubled by these problems of the paradise and of the gehenna which the father laid before him basing himself on the redoubtable texts of the Hebrew book.

The mother had certainly a great influence on the formation of the character of Elie, since his face always kept an intimate resemblance with the dear outlines of the mother's face: the depth of life, the springs of conscience, the mysterious affinities in him no doubt sprang from the blood which had first swelled his arteries and had penetrated him with his life. But it does not appear that direct maternal education had much influence upon the son during the first years. At that period the pastor's wife, mother of a rapidly increasing number of children, the teacher, the housewife, the valiant matron defending penny by penny the life of her progeny against a rude destiny, this young lady of noble descent [Trigant de Libourne] who would have been so well prepared to enjoy the happy lot of work supported by well-to-do circumstances, she had not even the time to look at the children, to whom she devoted every moment of her existence and to embrace them. She hardly saw Elie, and Elie did not know her in the intimate depths of her tender maternity. As to the father, his powerful personality towered absolutely above all his family, his faithful and all gravitating around him; it was impossible not to consider him as a being by himself, as the natural intermediary between everyone of his people and the formidable world beyond where the Lord throned surrounded by his angels. He represented the divinity, a primary impression which was by and by transformed, reducing him to human proportions, but which nevertheless left him in the eyes of his son at least as the Ideal of inflexible Conscience. . .

How dear the few trees growing round the farms were to the family of children and babies: the mulberry tree whose fruits smeared our faces and transformed us into savages; the oak, little twigs of which made wreaths on our little heads, the walnut tree with a majestic expansion of branches, where infantile fancy located all the pathetic or comic scenes of fables and of history of which our brains, always on the took out had all the same, no one knows how, got hold. In this foliage, the fairies and the angels appeared; this hero leaned upon its trunk, that fugitive of tales made himself invisible behind those branches, and high up, on the highest branch, master Guillery had perched imprudently "to see the wild chase". This was the enchanted domain of the children's life, the magic world where all they had heard, was created afresh by personal figuration. These trees constituted a real temple, quite otherwise august than the temple of Baigts, which was visited twice on Sundays and sometimes still oftener, on the long white turnpike road. its seats were very hard, but the ceiling was painted in blue, sprinkled with golden stars; our thoughts could stroll far away towards the trees, the meadows, the brooklets which the real blue sky covers...

Another great advantage to Elie during these two years and a half with the Moravian Brothers was, that he could develop in full freedom his instinctive love of nature, thanks to frequent pedestrian excursions in common, which went even for long distances. The Rhine Valley in those days was not what it has become today: a long alley of smoking nauseous factories, where heaps of coal, of industrial produce and freight-trains are only interrupted by the fortifications of retrenched camps, statues of William I, and ruins of crushed stone. At that time the "heroic river", more by the freedom of its course, than by the recollections of its history-for it had also been a "road of priests" --the Rhine, alternatively narrowed in, roaring and impetuous between its slabs of slate, and broadly expanded, tranquil and powerful between its low alluvial banks, the Rhine was yet in reality a being by itself: not less alive than the Pyrennean Gaves, it inspired less terror perhaps, but it seemed to possess the. majesty of a God and all feature of the surrounnding country, hills and forests, to wns and isolated monuments, all walked in his wake: one felt that the life of all seen in the vast sky proceeded from the Rhine. And away from the river, what charming and discreet sites. picturesque ruins, abbeys and castles; what ample forests of beech and pines, with wells and brooklets,-- grandiose panoramas and gracious perspectives seen but vaguely,-- how many wonders which in. the recollection and the imagination of the young man became as many frames to locate there the personnages of his legends and of his dreams.

When Elie returned to France which he had left as a child, he was a youth, nearly a man, by the gravity of his attitude.

A cruel pain was in store for him there, he no longer met at the home of the family his elder sister, generous Suzy, impassioned for all that was grand and beautiful. She had left Neuwied to take part in the mother's work, and Elisé:e had replaced her at Neuwied. After a long illness she succumbed. Her parents shed no tears, but they were sad and stretched more ardently than ever the prayers of the domestic cult; friends came and pressed their hands in silence.

His young sisters received Elie as a God, threw themselves into his arms, followed him in whatever he did. His mother, notwithstanding incessant work, spared the time to embrace him, to warm him again by her deep love, though it was almost without spoken words, and the father could not hinder himself from showing his son friendship, even respect, though he felt in his heart like the thrust of a spear the recognition of the fact that his firstborn son, the chief of the family after him, was not "converted", that he had even a certain repugnance against the Moravians, their ceremonies and their language. The dear father would even had wished to talk with his son as an equal on points of faith, on theological questions, but he dared not, afraid to touch a sensitive fibre, too painful for him, and he limited himself in all modesty to interrogate Elie on facts of profane history; this attitude of noble deference on the part of a father himself so venerable, was a touching spectacle.

As to studies these were limited, during the four years succeeding the return from Germany, to prepare, without any particular zeal, for the examination of baccalaureate, absolutely necessary at that time as it opened the entry to the superior schools. Elie, a good disciple, learned easily, but like the greater part of his condisciples, he was perfectly aware of the banality of the teaching he received. Fortunately he instructed himself, without method certainly, but with enthusiasm and deep enjoyment. In the Orthez communal college, then in more regular and efficacious way in the Protestant College of Sainte-Foy-la-Grande, his true life consisted in reading, reciting, copying, composing: he lived in a bath of poetry, novels, epics, tragedies, poems, literature in all forms and all languages of Western Europe, in translations and in the original. He read always and everywhere, on roofs, exposed to the great heat of the sun -- hence probably he acquired premature baldness,-- on the top of hills, under ruined wind mills, on the banks of rivulets, on the planks of the barges at anchor on the Dordogne quaies, or gliding down the river. Material life had too little agreeable contacts which he despised, whilst the ideal life of imagination and elevated desires rose more than once to the height of supreme delight. It was the "seventh heaven" of the poets...

Elie,-- to judge by his letters,-- seems to have disinterested himself of a political movement, all the personnages of which were repugnant to him, and precisely at that period of his life he withdrew furthest from the contemporary turmoil of things to study the past, still more the past in its arcana, its follies, its insoluble problems, than in the historical succession of facts. At that time he pushed his theological researches most onward in the direction of demonology: he no longer read the papers, but past whole days and long hours of the night to compare in old books the diverse forms of the devil's cult, of the magicians' practices and of the doubling of spirits. Such work, certainly, so different from that usually chosen by ordinary students, was not of a kind to open the roads of fortune to the young man: in any case it made of Elie Reclus a really unique man by his deep and varied erudition in matters of demonological science. The auditors of the Brussels Université Nouvelle can bear witness to this.

But these studies perhaps but added to the melancholy of his situation. Almost without friends, the young men excepted who followed Rodolphe Töppfer in his "Voyages en Zigzag", Elie walked about nearly always alone. Wounded in a thousand ways in his conception of life by the manners of -the rich and haughty sodety with which he was in constant contact, he had to suffer in a still more poignant way in the intimate depth of his being; beautiful and intelligent young girls had occasion to admire his character, to notice his knowledge, to appreciate his infinite kindness, and... to despise his poverty, his evident lack of ability to prosper in life. He was very unhappy and often he strayed about in despair during night.

What portion of intimate suffering may have entered into the sweetness, the affability, the gracious irony of his talks and speeches, this deep charin of his last years ? ...

During the greatest part of 1848 Elie and his two principal friends, Edouard Grimard and his brother Elisée lived in the country, on the top of a hill, about 100 metres high with a commanding view, from 4 kilometres' distance, over the town of Montauban. The Garonne and the Tarn ran unseen in the great plain, and behind the hill the rivulet Tescou meanders in a steep gully. On one side the country is of a sublime largeness, on the other it is rude, savage, even hostile by the entwining of enclosures, but sunny mornings, evenings, starlit and moonlit nights transformed the "Fort" into a place of enchantment where Elie studied to his heart's desire, very often couched on the turf of the terrace, reading Oken, Schelling Leroux and Proudhon, taking as usual numberless notes and preparing his dissertations and his thesis. A pretty group of acacias by the name of which the property was sometimes called, ran along part of the hollow road; the trunks of these trees held the strings of our hammocks where we passed delicious days reading and discussing. Did it ever rain during this delightful season which to us appeared like a long spring?

The joy of life even pushed the friends to make a journey, which in those days preceeding railroads was a relatively long one: one fine day, after a sudden decision they left to go to see the Mediterranean, hardly knowing where they should reach it. Good chance led them first to Castres, which they traversed without seeing the town; there the pedestrian excursion crossing the Cévennes mountains began. The three comrades proceeded at their fancy, going up valleys, crossing boxwood and hazelbushes, then, tired already and silent they ascend the steep heights of the Black Mountain and redescend on the southern incline as if pushed along by the violence of the mistral storm. A last gush of wind lands them in the court of an inn, at the bottom of a valley where the tempest rages. Next morning other scenes are seen of an enchanting character: the sun brightens the naked rocks, there are plots of rare perfumed herbs, little ruined villages cling to the neighbourhood of wells. The great historical cities are strongly delineated on the horizon; here are the old towers, then in ruins, of Carcassonne, the doors and ramparts of Narbonne with their sculptures and their Roman inscriptions. But they are attracted by the sea: they march right ahead over the white hill of the Clape, where each fissure of the soil gives birth to a conifer a few inches high, and from the and saddle of the mountain they see in the distance the shining plate of the Mediterranean extending infinitely. The theological studies of Montauban were quickly forgotten. Still they return to these studies, still illuminated by the splendour of the horizons.

To tell the truth, the professors of the Faculty, who were good people, were not too much to blame when they complained of the lack of restraint of their pupils. And yet they went so far in their leniency as to pretend not to be offended y this escape towards the sea and freedom. All would have wound up in good cordiality and by gentle words, if the pastors had not been entangled themselves in the administrative machinery, and if the political movement had not then functioned with full steam in the direction of reaction. The Prefect disapproved of the attitude of the incriminated young men, whose dress even had something of a republican and agressive character. . . Was it not a social duty to proceed forthwith to remove this dangerous growth? To this operation in fact the dean of the Faculty, Mr. Montet had to resign himself much against his will, The three young men were summoned and not without pain he officially communicated to them the consilium abeundi .

In the middle of 1851 Elie finished the official curriculum of his theological studies and defended his thesis, a work of fine originality which would have led him to the stake or the gallows three or four hundred years ago, but which in the milieu of the goodnatured nineteenth century they limited themselves to criticise, to blame, to reprove loudly. Nevertheless, the thesis was accepted, all formalities were fulfilled and the sacramental words were pronounced by official people: Elie Reclus had become officially a minister of the Holy Evangile, deemed worthy to lead a herd of spiritual sheep which the Government would confide to him, on the pasture. But he knew too well his theology and his history of the Church to believe in his providential rôle of an intermediary between men and the "unknown God", and his conscience was too delicate that it should agree with him to accept from the State the 1800 or 2400 francs of annual income offered in exchange for a tacit apostasy. In possession of his parchment duly endorsed, Elie simply indited his letter of definite resignation, of renouncing all future employment. This meant to begin by a master stroke, a career for which he had taken the ensign: "Et surtout, mon ami, surtout garde-toi bien de réussir!", an ensign, the sense of which so many young ambitious men did not understand.

Before leaving Strassburg, Elie waited for his brother Elisée who returned from the interior of Germany. [Elisée had been studying at the Berlin University.] Both being poor, their joint funds amounting only to a little above thirty francs, they decided to return to their family by walking obliquely across France. It was in the beginning of September. Evidently they could only travel as tramps, living on bread, sleeping in the open air or in some abandoned shanty. Thousands of French citizens travel in this way, from Nice to Brest and from Bavonne to Dunkerque, but the position of the two brothers was rendered more awkward, since they had all the same the appearance of "Gentlemen" and they were in that period of political agitations, vehemently suspected by the gendarmes to be false tramps; whenever a gendarme was met with, it became necessary to unfold the university papers which the official personnage read with suspicion, but which all the same prevented him to do his worst.

Besides a third traveler, and he for one of aristocratic education, a fine spaniel called Lisio, retarded our march by stopping obstinantly before all inns of good appearance: more than once we had to stay to get his soup for him. But afar from the gendarmes and the innkeepers, what delicious walks on fresh mornings or at sultry evenings, what unforseen incidents when it was decided to cross a river by swimming, bearing our rolled clothes upon our heads like turbans, or when the beaten tracks were left to climb directly over rocks, skirting the towns: some nights passed on the mountains, in the plain, on a couch of ferns or a heap of dry herbs, on the bank of a running brook were never forgotten, and even peaceful slumbering, broken by storms or rain, left pleasant recollections, embellished by youth and gaiety. At last, after twenty-one days of march, we arrived at Montauban, where friends forcibly revictualled us, and a few days later we were back at Orthez with our parents...

... The noble mother succeeded to find five hundred francs for her sons, and the latter, rich as they never had been before, traversed France by diligence and by rail without other incidents than to see quietly shut before them the door of a "dear brother in Christ" at Havre, a very rich trader who condescended to exchange evangelical letters with the Pastor Reclus, but who did not want to compromise himself by receiving young Republicans in his house. Fortunately the two reprobates found an old sea captain who on their honest faces agreed to give them the required certificate of good conduct and morals and in a cold night of snow and slush, January 1, 1852, they arrived in London, where a Hungarian revolutionary comrade, whom they met on the vessel, procured at once for them a furnished room in a convenient quarter.

The struggle began, for it was a struggle. Elie was only a philosopher, a theologian, and theology is sold ready-made in England: very few would have really appreciated his store of knowledge, and to penetrate towards these, he lacked these indispensable articles: gloves, a swallow-tail, a shining hat. One cannot imagine to what an extent the Britisher of those days, taken as the compact bourgeois majority, professed a religious fervour with regard to these exterior attributes of civilization. "There is no salvation outside conventional dress": to this supreme rule every foreigner had to conform; the scrutinizing eye of the mistress of the house rigorously watched the dress of every intruder, before all, if he was of French origin, from "that country of corruption and profane levity". The fashionable repugnance of respectable Englishmen against French immigrants was increased at that time by the fact that the Frenchman in all probability would be a republican, a socialist, a man contemptuous of all divine and human laws. This was the time when a Stuart Mill refused to receive a Pierre Leroux, and when the Times praised the superiority of British proceedings towards the refugees over the continental practice: was it not preferable to let them die of hunger, despised by everybody, than to put them in prison which they would leave some day as heroes or martyrs? ...

It gave him [Elie] before all the very happy chance to be able frequently to work at a distance from Paris, and he profited by this to pass each year several months at his brotherin-law's Alfred Dumesnil, in the old and picturesque house at Vascoeuil, whose seven-windowed tower looks over an incomparable garden, a fish pond, the sinuous river Acrevon, gliding noisily between the strong roots of beech trees and alders, then on a vast horizon of meadows towards the village, and beyond the village, on the long slopes of the hills and the great dark forest. There he worked, looking into space when he lifted his eyes, respiring the perfume of the flowers ascending to him from the garden. It was a joy to be thus at work, how often during the fair hours of sunshine Elie and Alfred were seen strolling slowly along the paths, often stopping to admire a flower, or to discuss with we passion a question of art or of philosophy! Often friends shared in the exquisite conversation of the two walkers, and all felt perfectly happy. Days happy like those make one forget long spells of bitterness.

The time spent in Paris was specially consecrated to works of propaganda and of Coöperative practice,, works the transitory character of which was perfectly recognized by Elie, but which he believed to be powerful aids to social evolution. In the company of several friends, he devoted himself with full energy to the foundation of a bank of "Crédit an Travail", which was to aid the formation of workers! societies, to discount their bills, and to contribute by all means to facilitate relations between the republican bourgeoisie of good intentions and the world of labour. At the same time, he took a direct part in propaganda by publishing the paper l'Association, of which he was the director and the principal editor. He spent on this work his best energy, and for some years he might have hoped that success, so fervently striven for, not for himself, but for the others, would at last be realized.

These hopes were frustrated. The "Crédit au Travail", led into debt by two large advances made to cooperative associations and perhaps also deviating from its first purpose by the fascination which business exercised upon certain members of the society, had to undergo a painful liquidation, and as to the associations, how many of them remained faithful to the promises of the early days? Their majority had to be dissolved, or rather, a still more deplorable fact, to be transformed into ordinary "shops", with no other motive power than the interest for dollars and cents. This deplorable end of enterprises begun with so much ardour and Joy was perhaps Elie's greatest grief: he found himself struck to his heart in his love and devotion for the common weal. His hopes had been deeply deceived, and since that time his spirit, his language remained impregnated with constant melancholy, tempered nevertheless by benevolent irony....

Then arrived the terrible intermezzo of the Commune, in March 1871; Elie took an active part, quite at the beginning by a paper which almost instantly disappeared, swept away by the storm, then by direct work in a post of danger. He had been nominated director of the Bibliothèque Nationale, and he hastened to accept this post, for the most precious treasures of the whole world were threatened. Fortunately he could have full confidence in the Parisian National Guards, who, even when they never had the occasion to open a single book of the immense collection, are none the less proud that their city possesses such a marvellous ensemble of incomparable documents. But other dangers threatened him. The history of this Library tells us that more than one illustrious savant was at the same time a book-thief, and the visits of these curios, were the more to be feared because, if some books had been abstracted in these troubled times, the Communards would unfailingly have been charged with this fact. Another, more immediate danger, was that of the shells which fell on this quarter, and which, after partially destroying the Chamber of Accounts and the Ministry of Finance, could also do their destructive work against the rooms of the Library. Great precautions were taken against the risk of fire, and not a single book disappeared from the shelves, not one document suffered from any accident whatsoever.

But if the Library escaped the Versaillese bombardment, the moment came when the Versaillese themselves entered the building with great clatter of weapons and noise. Elie fortunately escaped from being shot, which reward the cares he had given to the Library of the nation, of course, had earned for him, and, hidden by a friendly family, he lived the painfull life of the defeated; then with the help of false passports and a guide procured by a very devoted comrade, he could enter Italy and thence to go to Switzerland, escaping thus from the condemnation by Court Martial, transportation for life in a fortified place. His services were forgotten, and the official history of the Library absolutely ignores his name, an incontestable proof that his management had been impeccable, for if he had committed the slightest error, what accusations would not have been hurled against the barbarian, the vandal, the incendiary!

In Switzerland, Elie settled in Zürich, where he passed in fact happy years, and found there very esteemed friends, notably the very remarkable geologist and naturalist, Albert Heim.

[In 1878, Elie] ... left for the United States, where he had been invited to collaborate on one of the principal reviews. He was of course courteously received, but after the first article, there was a dispute: had not Elie had the shamelessness to speak of the Brothers Goncourt and their work, the Fille Elisa. The editor of the American review declared that the moral purity of his readers interdicted to him to treat of such a question; in consequence, Elie, after a journey of study, and the gathering of impressions in the States of New York and Massachusetts, left for hospitable England, where he had passed the years of his first exile.

This time he stayed only two years in London, and when meanwhile the amnesty had been declared, he returned to Paris and joined his elder son, who had finished his studies at the Ecole Centrale, and left as a civil engineer. Then a really happy period of his life began: he was again nominated librarian, but this time of a rather small, though very precious library, which was not under the direction of the State. There he passed every day pleasant hours amidst beautiful books, often visited by studious young men, who asked information of the "Patriarch". In the evenings, numerous friends gathered round him to discuss all sorts of lofty matters in art, literature and science. . . .

On January 1, 1894, when a minister whose name is forgotten, thought right to give a "new year's surprise" to the honest people of Paris and the world, Elie was comprised in the host of the suspected and led to the Conciergerie between two jailers. The director of the prison hastened to present his best excuses to the prisoner and offered all the treasures of his local library. Elie asked for the Bible -- "Unfortunately we have not got this book." I am sorry for this, for an establishment like yours which represents the principle of authority. I shall hasten to send you this Bible when I shall no longer have the honour to live under your roof." But he had not the time to regret his books and manuscripts, for the same evening he was set free: the "honest people" of Paris had thought that the minister had gone too far in this case.

He could have recommenced his ordinary life, though it would have been saddened by the absence of his son, which was perhaps a sufficient reason to direct the thoughts of the father to the idea to live once more abroad, the more so since at that time the Université Nouvelle of Brussels, which was being founded, offered to him the chair of Comparative Mythology. He accepted and set to work to study and to produce more diligently than ever. He owed even real progress to the unconscious collaboration of his disciples, for the necessity to spread his work over lectures separated by several days of interval, gave perhaps to his thought an additional rhythm and to the ensemble of his work a greater amount of unity. Clarity of spirit, neatness of conceptions, rigorous and poetic probity of expression continually increased as years went by: he became greater in sweetness and in force in this fine autumn of his life. But the winter came. Death, led by an infectious influenza, has gathered him.

He expired towards the small hours of the morning. . .


[This obituary essay: "Elie Reclus -- 1827-1905", by Elisée Reclus, appeared anonymously soon after Elie's death, and was published privately in a limited edition by L'Emancipatrice, (imp. communiste), Paris, 1905; pp. 32, with an introductory note for Elie's intimate friends. The English version was rendered 0 r enerous and sympathetic friend, Dr. Max Nettlau, and it appears here for the first time. Lack of space compelled us to crowd out quite a substantial portion of interesting material, including some additional comments by the translator, which would have been inserted in full under less pressing circumstances. . ]


N the grand times of the old Greek republics, the great object which the Hellenes had in view in the education of their children was to turn them into heroes by means of grace, strength, and courage; and in like manner, by stimulating all manly qualities in the rising generation, by bringing them face to face with nature, and by leaving them to fight out the battle with her, modern societies of men may insure themselves against the occurrence of any decadence by the regeneration of the very race itself.

A robust education of this kind will give us the grandest development of the real love for nature. Slavery and a spirit of routine may vitiate it, but knowledge and liberty give it new life. Science, which is gradually converting the globe into one great organism always at work for the benefit of mankind, doing this by means of winds and currents, steam and the electric fluid, is at the same time pointing out to us the means for beautifying the surface of the earth, and for making it that pleasant garden which has been dreamed of by poets in all ages. Nevertheless, although science may bring before our eyes the distant future of a glorified earth, she alone can not bring to perfection this great work. A moral progress must necessarily correspond with this progress in knowledge. While men ate fighting with one another with the aim of shifting the patrimonial boundaries and the imaginary frontiers of their nations, while the soil which nourishes them continues to be reddened by the blood of insensate wretches who wage war either for a paltry strip of territory or for some question of so-called honor, or incited by a mere lust for conflict like the barbarians of ancient times, so long will be deferred that paradise on earth which the mind's eye of the seeker already seems to contemplate in the distant future. The features of the globe will never assume their perfect harmony until men are united in one league of justice and of peace. Ere she can become truly beauteous, our "beneficent mother" must wait until her sons have all embraced as brothers, and have succeeded in establishing the grand confederation of free nations.


From "The Ocean"

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