BY ELLA WHEELER WILCOX
Moneague, Jamaica, W.I.
I know many people who are finding fault with life because they have been denied the privilege of Travel; they are tied in circumstamce and compelled to remain at the post of duty.
They wonder at the injustice of destiny, which gives the few so many privileges, the many so few.
There is much in the world I would like to see changed.
I would like to see all the land now held by monopolies and trusts and speculators freed for the use of Toil; I would like to see all the cteations of labor owned by the laborers in common; I would like to see sweatshops abolished and co-operation in some form take the place of competition: some of these I would like to see and many other improvements made in our system of government, to do away forever with such awful wrongs as the recent social earthquake has exposed in life insurance and Standard Oil crimes.
But while we are waiting for some of these reforms to materialize it behooves each one of us to take mental stock of our own qualities and find out how well prepared we are to fit into a more unselfish order of things.
Suppose you were to-morrow so placed by circumstances that you could indulge in a long holiday and travel about among your fellow man and see sights; how do you imagine you would enjoy yourself?
Would you make your presence a pleasing and a benefaction to others? or would you be one of those whose coming would be dreaded and whose going rejoiced over wherever your name became once known?
Just a few days ago I had the privilege of passing through "Fern Gulley", a drive of several miles through such scenes of marvelous beauty as made me question whether I was awake or dreaming, and if it could be possible that the month was set down as a winter month in the calendar, and that I was only four or five days from frozen grounds and barren trees.
In the early morning after the drive, I sat on a veranda, facing a splendor and magnificence of mountain views, looking more beautiful through a delicate illusion of mist, like a bridal veil.
I spoke of it all to some tourist strangers sitting near; two were English people far from the gloom and horror of London, and two were Americans from the States.
What was my amazement (and almost disgust) to hear a chorus of dissenting and complaining voices in reply to my expressions of pleasure and admiration.
"There was too much of Fern Gulley", "one grew tired of seeing so many ferns, the ferns were too large to be beautiful."
The drive along the seashore, lined with picturesque palms and with great cliffs on the other hand, was "too hot; the sun was too bright, and the whole drive was tiresome."
"Fern Gully was too dark to take good snapshots, on the shore drive you could not get the sun at the proper angle."
Then, had I ever been in Ceylon? No? Well, that explained why I thought Jamaica beautiful. Jamaica was really very disappointing to one who had been to Ceylon. It was dull here, so few people and nothing to do, and so on and so forth.
Now these grumblers about the heat had come away to seek summer! Those who complained of the "dullness of life" here had flown from large cities where they were bored by too many people! and you may safely wager that the eulogies Ceylon received were never heard under the skies of India.
It is always some place they have in the past seen, or expect in the future to see that such people praise. The Present is always abominable in their sight.
The gay resorts are too gay; the quiet ones too quiet; the cold climates too cool, and the hot ones too hot.
The grumblers did not think the scenery of Moneague lovely, nor its climate fine, because of the fog. I had thought it only a mist of beauty, because having seen the fogs of our American seashore resorts and a London fog besides, this delicate veil, through which I could discern the great mountain palms, did not seem to me appropriately called a fog.
Yet both the English and American grumblers so named it.
You may think these people (ae: I did) very unreasonable. Yet are you sure you would enjoy the world any better than they, were you given the chance?
You can find the answer by studying yourself in your present environment. If you find nothing, and no one, who wins your words of praise where you are; if there is nothing in your life for which you thank God, then be assured a change of location will not produce it.
It is what we bring to nature which makes it seem beautiful.
If you bring to Niagara your own petty fault-finding spirit and nothing else, it will seem only a noisy waterfall to you; If you bring to the glorious mountains your small fretfulnes, they will only be shapeless hills.
Learn to take beautiful journeys in the kingdom of your mind and soul, and wherever you go you shall find beauty.
San Francisco Examiner March 1, 1906.
Courtesy of Douglas Marshall