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PSEUDO-PESSIMISM.

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things as the journey drew to a close, I could not help feeling how great are the rewards that a traveller reaps, even irrespective of anything he may learn, or of the suggestions to thought that a voyage of this kind cannot fail to bear with it. How much is life made fuller and richer by the stock of images laid up in the marvellous storehouse of the brain, to be summoned, one knows not when or how, by some hidden train of association-shifting scenes that serve to beautify many a common and prosaic moment of life!

Often during this return voyage my thoughts recurred to an article in some periodical lent to me by my kind friends at Petropolis, wherein the writer, with seeming gravity, discussed the question whether life is worth living. My first impression, as I well remember, was somewhat contemptuous pity for the man whose mind could be so profoundly diseased as even to ask such a question, as for a soldier who, with the trumpet-call sounding in his ear, should stop to inquire whether the battle was worth fighting. When one remembers how full life is of appeals to the active faculties of man, and how the exertion of each of these brings its correlative satisfaction; how the world, in the first place, needs the daily labour of the majority of our race; how much there is yet to be learned, and how much to be taught to the ignorant; what constant demand there is for the spirit of sympathy to alleviate suffering in our fellows; how much beauty exists to be enjoyed, and, it may be, to be brought home to others ;-one is tempted to ask if the man who halts to discuss whether life is worth living can have a

mind to care for truth, or a heart to feel for others, or a soul accessible to the sense of beauty.

Recurring to the subject, as I sometimes did during the homeward voyage, it seemed to me that I had perhaps treated the matter too seriously, and that the article I had read was an elaborate hoax, by which the writer, while in truth laughing at his readers, sought merely to astonish and to gain repute as an original thinker. However the fact may be, when taken in connection with the shallow pessimism which, through various channels, has of late filtered into much modern literature, there does appear to be some real danger that the disease may spread among the weaker portion of the young generation. A new fashion, however absurd or mischievous, is sure to have attractions for the feebler forms of human vanity. It is true that there is little danger that the genuine doctrine will spread widely, but the mere masquerade of pessimism may do unimagined mischief. The better instincts of man's nature are not so firmly rooted that we should wish to see the spread of any influence that directly allies itself with his selfish and cowardly tendencies.

To any young man who has been touched by the contagion of such doctrines, I should recommend a journey long enough and distant enough to bring him into contact with new and varied aspects of nature and of human society. Removed from the daily round of monotonous occupation, or, far worse, of monotonous idleness, life is thus presented in larger and truer proportions, and in a nature not quite worthless some chord must be touched that will stir

RETURN TO ENGLAND.

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the springs of healthy action. If there be in truth such beings as genuine and incurable pessimists, the stern believer in progress will be tempted to say that the sooner they carry out their doctrine to its logical result the better it will be for the race.

Their continued existence, where it is not merely useless, must be altogether a mischief to their fellow-creatures.

On the morning of the 16th of August, all but completing five months since I quitted her shores, the coast of England was dimly descried amid gusts of cold wind and showers of drizzling rain. My winter experiences in the Straits of Magellan were forcibly recalied to my mind, and I felt some partial satisfaction in the seeming confirmation of the conclusion which I had already reached—that the physical differences between the conditions of life in the northern and southern hemispheres are not nearly so great as has generally been supposed.

APPENDIX A.

ON THE FALL OF TEMPERATURE IN ASCENDING TO HEIGHTS

ABOVE THE SEA-LEVEL.

THE remarkable features of the climate of Western Peru referred to in the text seem to me to admit of a partial explanation from the local conditions affecting that region. The most important of these are the prevalence of a relatively cold oceanic current, and of accompanying southerly breezes along the Peruvian coast. These not only directly affect the temperature of the air and the soil in the coast-zone, but, by causing fogs throughout a considerable part of the year, intercept a large share of solar radiation. It has been found in Northern Chili, some fifteen degrees farther south than Lima, but under similar climatal conditions, that, although the land rises rather rapidly in receding from the coast, the mean temperature increases with increasing height for a considerable distance. It is stated on good authority * that at Potrero Grande, a place about fifty miles distant, and 850 metres above the sea, the mean annual temperature is higher by 2.5° C. than at Copiapó, or at the adjoining port of Caldera. It is probable that in the valley of the Rimac the mean temperature at a height of 1000 metres is at least as high as it is at Lima. Taking the mean temperature of the lower station at 19*2° C., and that of Chicla at 12-2° C., that would give a fall of 7° for a difference of level of 2724 metres, or an average fall of 1° for 387 metres, instead of 1° for 512 metres, as given in the text.

A further peculiarity in the climate, which tends to diminish

* I borrow this statement from the excellent “ Lehrbuch der Klimatologie,” by Dr. Julius Hann. Stuttgart, 1883.

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