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

Elisée Reclus

HE entire work of him who so loved humanity will remain the clear source of light, the hearth of intense warmth toward which the readers of the rising generation will come in multitudes to draw new power and new ardour. I do not believe that in all our Celto-Latin literature there exists works so fitting to elevate the spirit, purify the taste, regulate the play of all the faculties, lift the heart of man above the meannesses and egoism of the present time. Nothing is so beautiful with the simple and serene beauty of the great landscapes of virgin nature as these pages so complete that one can neither add to nor abridge from their integrity. The crystal purity of the style whose always even delivery flows like a limpid and joyous wave, the harmonious rhythm of all these phrases so well connected, all meeting to illustrate the logical deduction whereof their edifice will finally be crowned, these new expressions spontaneously springing from subject and idea, which are so many happy gifts added to our language, these striking images which here and there illumine the text and impress our spirit with their great majesty, this supreme perfection of detail as of ensemble which in time to come will guarantee the duration of that solid and stable architeclure, this large comprehension of nature and of life, of the cycle of peoples and the evolution of societies, above all, this sympathy, this ardour, this youth which reigns in all the pages of Elisée Reclus, this indefatigable perseverance which permits him to bring to a happy conclusion a colossal enterprise, claiming more than half a century of effort and research, all these admirable qualities united render this unique writer a savant, a thinker, an artist, a poet, an educator, and whatever one may say besides, a man of action of the first rank.

Compare for an instant a fragment of this unparalleled work with any one page whatsoever, of any one of our most famous contemporary authors. Will you not readily find in the latter many a retouch to produce style, many a gap and a superfluity, a rank growth of evil and parasitical weeds, which the writer has not had the good taste to extirpate in time, a certain clumsiness in the juxtaposition of phrases, these stones for the intellect, here and there some false ideas which spoil the best chapters. Read and re-read the sublime descriptions of the terrestrial phenomena, the pages of ethnography, so well documented, of his great geographical encyclopaedia, and especially these innumerable articles of reviews and journals, ideas from which, through his aversion for all dogmas and despostisms, spring his ardent desire for a free and fraternal humanity. Regard, study slowly, this prodigious pagan movement patiently built up in honor of Man and of his Planet. Satisfy your soul, athirst to know the world, at this great stream of science, marvel of marvels, which quite boiling with heroism at its heart, always gains in amplitude and in noble tranquility as it nears its source.

And tell me, finally, if you do not feel, improved, transfigured, more human, more generous, better equipped for the task of broadcasting ideas, of communicator of enthusiasm, the task which you have assumed.


"L' ÉCOLE RÉNOVEÉ", October, 25,1908.

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