Contemplation on the Trail

“Hours of contemplation, however, are not wanting to any traveller, and so far these would not be different from many nights at sea; but this whole period was one in which, if ever, one might feel the truth of the poet’s ‘suave mari magno,’ &c., as I have often felt its falsity. One seemed cut off from all the din and turmoil of the world, and the hopes and fears of a life in it, as much as if one had been a denizen of the happy valley. There was the daily work to do and the daily bread to eat (bad luck on it, there was no fresh buffalo meat!); so it was yesterday, so it would be to-morrow . . .

“At any rate, it is neither unpleasant nor uninstructive to have a few such months, like the small space of blue sky that often appears between the clouds that have passed and those that are coming up, and seems the very ideal of tranquillity. True this life was not to last very long, but while it did last one looked upon the future as through a wall of glass very thick.”

[“‘suave mari magno”–]