James Bryce Bryce.

University and historical addresses, delivered during a residence in the United States as ambassador of Great Britain online

. (page 22 of 24)
Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceUniversity and historical addresses, delivered during a residence in the United States as ambassador of Great Britain → online text (page 22 of 24)
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with which poetry clothes many a wild or lovely spot.
The farther a people recedes from barbarism, the more
refined are its tastes, the more gentle its manners, the
less sordid its aims, so much the greater is its suscepti-
bility to every form of beauty, so much the more do
the charms of nature appeal to it. Delight in them
is a test of civilization.

As the love of nature is happily increasing among us,
it becomes all the more important to find means for
safeguarding nature. Population is also increasing,
and thus the number of people who desire to enjoy
nature is growing larger both absolutely and in
proportion to the whole. But, unfortunately, the
opportunities for enjoyment, except as regards easier
locomotion, are not increasing. The world is circum-
scribed, and we feel the narrowness of it more and


more as all its corners are explored and surveyed. The
surface of this little earth of ours is indeed sadly
limited, and we cannot add to it. When a man finds
his house too small, he builds more rooms on to it, but
we cannot add to our earth; we did not make it, it
was made for us, and we cannot by taking thought in-
crease its dimensions. All that can be done is turn it
to the best possible account.

Now, let us remember that the quantity of natural
beauty in the world, that is to say, the regions and
spots calculated to give enjoyment in the highest form,
are limited, and are being constantly encroached upon.
This encroachment takes four forms. There is the de-
sire of private persons to appropriate beautiful scenery
to themselves by enclosing it in private grounds and
debarring the public from access to it. We in England
and Scotland have lost some of the most beautiful scen-
ery we possess because it has been taken into private
estates. There is the habit of excluding people even
from land uncultivated and remote from houses for the
sake of "sport." A great deal of the finest scenery
in Scotland is now practically unapproachable by the
pedestrian or the artist or the naturalist because rich
people have appropriated it to their own self -regarding
purposes and insist on excluding the public. This is
especially the case where the motive for exclusion is
what is called sport. Sport is understood to mean
killing God's creatures for man's amusement, and for
the sake of this amusement the killing of deer and


birds, an amusement which gives pleasure only to a
handful of men very large areas in Britain (and
some few also hi other parts of Europe) have been
within the last sixty or seventy years closed against
all the rest of the nation.

The enjoyment of natural beauty is further threatened
by the operations of the lumberman. He is a force
we do not have to fear in Britain, because, timber
no longer exists there in sufficient quantity to be an
article of economic value to us, but it is a very serious
question here. You have prodigious and magnificent
forests; there are perhaps no others in the world
comparable for extent and splendor with those you
possess. These forests, especially those on the Cas-
cade range and the Sierra Nevada, are now being cut
down rapidly and ruthlessly. You cannot blame the
men who are cutting and selling the timber ; timber is
needed, and they want to drive their trade, but the
process goes on too fast, and much of the charm of
nature is lost, while the interests of the future are for-
gotten. Superb woods of the huge Sequoia gigantea,
the so-called Big Trees, were falling under the axe in
the southern part of the Sierra Nevada in 1909, and
it would take a thousand years to replace these giants.
The same thing is happening in the Appalachian ranges
in New England and in the Alleghanies southward
from Pennsylvania, a country of great sylvan beauty.
In many places, after the trees have been cut off, there
is left an inextricable tangle of small boughs and twigs,


so that when a dry year comes any spark will start a
fire, and the fire rages among the dead boughs, and the
land is so scorched that for many long years no great
trees will rise to replace those that were destroyed.

Note also that in recent years water power has,
since scientific discoveries enabled it to be applied in
the form of electricity, become an asset of great com-
mercial value. You fortunately have an enormous
supply of water power. No one will deny that a great
deal of it, perhaps most of it, may be properly used
for industrial purposes, but neither can it be doubted
that it has been used in some places to the detriment,
and even to the ruin, of scenery. It has been used at
Niagara, for instance, to such an extent as to change
completely the character of what was once the most
beautiful waterfall landscape in the whole world.
Those of you who did not see that landscape, as I did,
forty-two years ago, with the long line of clear green
water plunging over the precipice, the foaming splen-
dour of the rapids above, and the tossing billows of the
Whirlpool Gorge below, and so cannot contrast what
is seen now with what was seen in those days, cannot
know what a wretched shadow of its former self it has
become not so much by the diminution of the flow
of the river as by the hideous erections which line the
shores and by the smoke from many a chimney that
pollutes the air. It is not too late to repair what has
been done, and I hope the day will come when the
pristine flow of its waters will be restored, and when


the devastating agencies will have been removed. That
we will leave for a future generation which will have
begun to appreciate scenery more highly than men did
thirty years ago, when the ruin of which I speak was just
beginning. One may say of the enterprising capitalists
who have made fortunes out of this national possession
what the Emperor Charles the Fifth said to the eccle-
siastics of Cordova who had turned the central part of
the great Mosque into a church. " You have destroyed
something that was absolutely unique in the world in
order to do something which could have been equally
well done anywhere else."

Taking all these causes together, you can see how
many encroachments there are upon the unique beauty
of your country ; and I beg you to consider that, al-
though the United States is vast and has mountain and
forest regions far more extensive than we can boast in
little countries like England or Scotland, even your
scenery is not inexhaustible, and, with your great popu-
lation and the growing desire to enjoy the beauties of
nature, you have not any more than you need. For-
tunately, you have made a good beginning hi the work of
conservation. You have led the world in the creation
of National Parks. I have seen three or four of these,
the Yosemite twice, the Yellowstone twice, and the
splendid forest region which you have around that
mountain which the people of Seattle now insist on
calling Mount Rainier, no doubt the name originally
given by Vancouver, but which used, when I wan-


dered through its forests and traversed its glaciers,
thirty years ago, to be called by the more sonorous
Indian name, Tacoma. And there is also that superb
reserve on the north side of the Grand Canon of the
Colorado River, as well as Glacier Park in Mon-
tana and others of minor extent in other parts
of the country. The creation of such National Parks
has not only been good for you, but has had the ad-
mirable effect of setting other countries to emulate
your example. Australia and New Zealand have fol-
lowed that example. New Zealand, in the district of
its hot springs and geysers, has dedicated to the public
a scenic area something similar to your Yellowstone
Park geyser region, though not on so extensive a scale ;
the people of New South Wales have set off three
beautiful National Parks within forty miles of the
capital city of Sydney, taking mountain and forest
regions of exquisite beauty and keeping them for a
source of delight to the growing population of that city.
Thus your example is bearing good fruit. I only wish
it had come sooner to us in England and Scotland
before we had permitted the control of so much of our
own best scenery to pass into private ownership.

One of the things your Association has to care for
is not only the provision of more parks, but also the
methods to be followed for keeping the existing parks in
the best condition. I heard the other day that a ques-
tion has been raised as to whether automobiles should
be admitted in the Yosemite Valley. May a word be


permitted on that subject ? If Adam had known what
harm the serpent was going to work, he would have
tried to prevent him from finding lodgment in Eden;
and if you stop to realize what the result of the auto-
mobile will be in that wonderful, that incomparable
valley, you will keep it out. The one drawback to
enjoyment of the Yosemite Valley in the summer and
autumn is the dust. The granite rock becomes in the
roads fine sand; even under existing conditions the
feet of the horses and the wheels of the vehicles raise
a great deal of it, enough to interfere with enjoyment
as one drives or walks; but the conditions would
become grievously worse with the swift automobile.
And, further, the automobile would destroy what may
be called the sentimental charm of the landscape. It
is not merely that dust clouds would fill the air and coat
the foliage, but the whole feeling of the spontaneity
and freshness of primitive nature would be marred by
this modern invention, with its din and whir and
odious smell. Remember, moreover, that one cannot
really enjoy fine scenery when travelling at a rate of
fifteen to twenty or twenty-five miles an hour. If you
want to enjoy the beauty of such landscapes as the Yo-
semite presents, you must see them slowly. Fine scenery
is seen best of all in walking, when one can stop at any
moment and enjoy any special point of view, but
it is also agreeably seen in riding or driving, because
in moving at a pace of five or six miles an hour you
are not going too fast to take in the minor beauties of


the landscape. But travelling faster than that and
my experience is that chauffeurs so delight in speed
that it is hard to get them to slacken even when you
bid them you cannot enjoy the beauty. It was
often my duty in the British Parliament to oppose bills
conferring powers to build railways through some of the
beautiful lake and valley scenery, scenery on a much
smaller scale than that of this Continent, but quite as
beautiful, which we possess in Britain. The advocates of
the bills urged that passengers could look out at the land-
scape from the windows of the railroad car. But we
pointed out that it is impossible to get the full enjoy-
ment of a romantic landscape from a railway window,
especially where the beauties are delicate and the scale
small. It is different where scenery is on a vast scale,
so that the railway is insignificant in comparison, and
the objects, rocks or mountains or rivers, are huge.
There one may get some pleasure from the big views
even as seen from a train, though they are far better
seen in walking or driving, but you cannot enjoy the
small beauties either of form or of colour. The focus is
always changing, and it is impossible to give that kind
of enjoyment which a painter, or any devotee of
nature, seeks if you are hurrying past at a swift auto-
mobile pace. Whoever loves fine scenery has a sort of
feeling that he is wasting it when he passes through it
on a train instead of on foot or driving in an open
It will of course be said that the automobile might


be allowed to come up to the principal hotels and go
no farther. If it is allowed to go so far as that, it will
soon be allowed to go wherever else there is a road
to bear it. Do not let the serpent enter Eden at all.
Our friends who possess automobiles are numerous,
wealthy, and powerful, but as all the rest of the North
American Continent is open to them they are not
gravely injured when one valley, besides parts of
Mount Desert Island, is reserved for those who walk
or ride. It is no intolerable hardship to be required
to forgo in one spot a convenience which none of us
had twenty years ago and which the great majority of
our fellow-creatures cannot afford to pay for now. At
present the railway comes to an end some twelve miles
away from the entrance of the Yosemite Park, and
the drive up to it behind horses gives far more pleas-
ure than a journey by rail or motor car possibly could.
There are plenty of roads elsewhere for the lovers of
speed and noise, without intruding on these few places
where the wood nymphs and the water nymphs ought
to be allowed to remain in untroubled seclusion, and
their true worshippers to have the landscape to them-

Let me pay a tribute to the taste and judgment
with which, as it seemed to me when I visited the
valley in 1909, the park and the hotels in the Yo-
semite were being managed. There were no offensive
signs, no advertisements of medicines, no other external
disfigurements to excite horror, and the inns were all



of moderate size, plain but sufficiently comfortable and
not more than two stories high. I earnestly hope
that the administration will always be continued on
these lines, with this same regard for landscape beauty.
Now, a word about additional parks. Although you
have set a wholesome example in creating those I have
mentioned and some others, there are still other places
where National Parks are wanted. There is a splendid
region in the Alleghanies, a region of beautiful forests,
where the tulip trees lift their tall, smooth shafts
and graceful heads one hundred and fifty feet or more
into the air, a mountain land on the borders of
North Carolina and East Tennessee, with romantic
river valleys and hills clothed with luxuriant woods,
primitive forests standing as they stood before the
white man drove the Indians away, high lawns filled
with flowers and traversed by sparkling brooks, con-
taining everything to delight the heart of the lover
of nature. It would be a fine thing to have a tract
of three or four hundred thousand acres set apart
here for the benefit of the people of the South and
Middle Atlantic States, for whom it is a far cry
to the Rockies. Then you ought to have one or
two additional parks in Colorado and Montana
also. As regards the Northeast Atlantic States, what
seems to be most wanted is to preserve the forests of
the White and Green Mountains. Perhaps it is not
necessary to set apart in that country a National Park
in the same sense as that which might be thought


requisite in the Alleghanies, because the mountains are
so high and rocky, and so little ground is suitable for
cultivation on the steeper slopes, that it is not likely
they will be inclosed, and probably hardly necessary
that a public authority should step in to save them.
But in some parts of the White Mountains, for instance,
it would be an excellent thing to create large forest
reserves, where the trees should be under protection
of the National or State Government, being cut by
them as required, and the forests replanted as they are
cut. Recent legislation has already made a beginning
with this good work. The sale of the timber would
more than cover the costs of management and the in-
terest on the purchase money. In this way you would
keep a place where the beauty of the woodlands would
remain for all generations, and where they would be
so cared for that the present danger of forest fires
would be averted.

There is one question that comes very near to you
in Baltimore, and also to us in Washington, on which I
would like to speak a word. You know there is a great
deal of charming forest country between Baltimore
and Washington. A good deal of it is forest of the
second growth, some few small bits of it are of the first
growth ; but even that of the second contains a great
number of beautiful, fine-grown trees. The land is
of no considerable value, and I believe it could now
be purchased at a low price. I have heard it sug-
gested that thirty-six dollars an acre would be an aver-


age price for the land, on which a great quantity of
timber remains. Having frequently taken walking
excursions from Washington into the country from
ten to fifteen or twenty miles around the city, I have
been struck with the beauty and profusion of the
wild flowers. The flora of that region, being a sort of
blend of the flora of the North Atlantic States with
some of the plants and flowers which belong to the
South Atlantic region, is of great interest to the scien-
tific botanist. Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washing-
ton are all swiftly growing cities. What could be done
better for the inhabitants of these three cities than to
secure for their enjoyment a large part of this forest
land and set it apart, forever free from private purposes
or use of agriculture, and keep it as a forest reserve,
to be managed scientifically, so that it should pay for
the expense of working it by the timber which could
be cut and sold on well-planned scientific lines, and
should afford a place where people could go and wan-
der about at their own sweet will, just as the old
settlers did when they first came here ? Here the auto-
mobile would do no harm on the main roads, because
there would be plenty of byways and forest footpaths.
If the automobilist wants to be whirled along the
roads, let him have his way, but keep wide sylvan
spaces where those who seek quiet and the sense of
communing with nature can go out in the early morn-
ing from the city and spend a whole day enjoying one
spot after another where nature has provided her


simple joys, mingled shade and sunlight falling on the
long vistas of the forest, the ripple and the murmur of
a streamlet, the rustling of the leaves, and the birds
singing among the branches. These gifts can here be
offered to the man condemned to spend most of his
life in cities, and when nature has provided them in
such bountiful measure ought not the opportunity to
be taken to secure them?

Shall we who make these plans be accused of treat-
ing this subject in a sentimental way? Well, I con-
fess these arguments are not addressed to those who
think that man lives by bread alone, or who recognize
no values except those measured by dollars and cents.
It is because the members of this Association are not
of that mind that such considerations are submitted.
A century hence there will be in North America, if
things go on as they are going on now, far more people,
far more lovers of nature, and also fewer places in
which nature can be enjoyed.

Now let me try to give some logical quality to
these rambling reflections by submitting a few propo-
sitions in order.

The world seems likely to last a long, long time, and
we ought to make provision for the future.

The population of the world is increasing rapidly,
and most rapidly in North America.

The taste for natural beauty is also increasing, and,
as we hope, will continue to increase.

The places of scenic beauty do not increase, but, on


the contrary, are in danger of being reduced in num-
ber and diminished in quantity. This is due chiefly
to the accumulation of wealth. Forests are cut
down, water power is appropriated, rich men buy
up tracts of land and frequently seek to exclude the
public from them. Accordingly, no better service can be
rendered to the masses of the people than to preserve
for their delight wide spaces of fine scenery.

We must carefully guard what we have got, and
must extend the policy which you have wisely adopted
in creating your existing National Parks, by acquiring
and preserving further areas for the perpetual enjoy-
ment of the people.

Let us think of the future. We are trustees for the
future. We are not here for ourselves alone. All
these gifts were not given to us to be used by one gen-
eration, or with the thought of one generation only
before our minds. We are the heirs of those who have
gone before, and charged with the duty we owe to
those who come after, and there is no duty which seems
more clearly incumbent on us than that of handing on
to them undiminished opportunities and facilities for
the enjoyment of some of the best gifts that the
Creator has bestowed upon his children.

DECEMBER 14, 1912.


DECEMBER 14, 1912.

IT is a real pleasure to be the guest of The Penn-
sylvania Society. Every student of history must be
profoundly interested in the annals of the State of
Pennsylvania, not merely in respect of its famous
founder, one of the most remarkable Englishmen of
the seventeenth century, but also because it is in a
sense typical of this whole country. Your State
is remarkable for having been from very early days
the seat of three different elements of population
which have gradually become blent, yet not so blent
as to lose traces of their former diversity. Three sets of
colonists long ago entered and settled down in and made
the prosperity and greatness of Pennsylvania in its
formative years, just as in days far later many different
races came hither across the sea and added themselves
to the original Anglo-Saxon population who had been
the first settlers of this eastern coast of North America.
Here in Pennsylvania you had the English Quakers,
then the Germans, who came in a little later, many of
them also pious men belonging to various German



sects, and, lastly, the Scotch-Irish, people very unlike
the other two, except in their being also pious, though
in a quite different way. The Quakers and the
Germans fulfilled the dictum that the meek shall
inherit the earth, because they took up and retained
all the best lands. The Scotch-Irish, who came last,
were obliged to content themselves with the moun-
tains and the Indians, and they braced themselves
to deal with both. They developed a manly, bold, pug-
nacious type of pioneer and frontiersman, and they
have retained the old character in your western hills
just like their relatives in the northeastern parts of
Ireland. Plenty of the old combative spirit in both
regions. They had a lively time in early Pennsylvania,
for these three sections were divided not only by politi-
cal feelings and by agricultural rivalries, but also by reli-
gious and ecclesiastical differences. In those days diver-
gences of doctrine cut pretty deep and roused far more
feeling than they would to-day, even in the pacific
breasts of members of the Society of Friends. An
occasion is recorded on which a Quaker went so far
that he was with difficulty restrained from discharging
a gun, which unluckily happened to be in his hands,
into the body of a Presbyterian, having apparently
been incensed by an intimation on the part of the
Calvinist that predestination was going to give that
particular Quaker no prospect of felicity in the world
to come.
I must, however, pass away from the State of Penn-


sylvania and its fortunes, to the subject allotted to me
the Constitution of the United States ; a small
subject indeed, is it not ? and easy to deal with in the
few minutes at my command.

Let me begin by one remark, about which there will
be no difference of opinion : It was a most extraordi-
nary body of men that gathered together one hun-
dred a ad twenty-five years ago to frame the Constitu-
tion of the United States. Never did such a group of
brilliant and powerful intellects, men trained by an
experience of affairs, assemble together .for so great an
undertaking as the framing of the Constitution for a
nation. And the best proof of the success which at-
tended their efforts is to be found in the fact that
the Constitution which they framed for a nation that
then only a little exceeded 3,000,000 people has been
found now to fit the needs of 93,000,000. It may not
fit those needs perfectly, but it is extraordinary that it
should fit them at all.

In that group there were three men, Washington,
Franklin, and Hamilton, whose fame belongs to the
history of the world, and one of those three, Benjamin

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Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceUniversity and historical addresses, delivered during a residence in the United States as ambassador of Great Britain → online text (page 22 of 24)