I just love this quotation from Macaulay; I've used it before.



2 August 2012

Editor, The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018

Dear Editor:

Good for Kianna Scott that she found comfort by spending time in the wilderness before entering college (Letters, Aug. 2). But lest we forget that the kindness and inspiration that we moderns find in the wilderness are consequences of the riches, leisure, and security that we enjoy chiefly because of industrial capitalism, I offer here an observation from Thomas Babington Macaulay's History of England:

Indeed, law and police, trade and industry, have done far more than
people of romantic dispositions will readily admit, to develop in our
minds a sense of the wilder beauties of nature. A traveler must be
freed from all apprehension of being murdered or starved before he can
be charmed by the bold outlines and rich tints of the hills. He is not
likely to be thrown into ecstasies by the abruptness of a precipice from
which he is in imminent danger of falling two thousand feet
perpendicular; by the boiling waves of a torrent which suddenly whirls
away his baggage and forces him to run for his life; by the gloomy
grandeur of a pass where he finds a corpse which marauders have just
stripped and mangled; or by the screams of those eagles whose next meal
may probably be on his own eyes….

It was not till roads had been cut out of the rocks, till bridges
had been flung over the courses of the rivulets, till inns had succeeded
to dens of robbers … that strangers could be enchanted by the blue
dimples of lakes and by the rainbows which overhung the waterfalls, and
could derive a solemn pleasure even from the clouds and tempests which
lowered on the mountain tops.*


Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

* Thomas Babington Macaulay, The History of England, Vol. 6 (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1900), pp. 55-56.





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