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Fortunately, however, we managed to keep the proper track in spite of the snow which was beginning to
On reaching our camp I found it pitched on a morass about 1500 feet below the summit of the
pass. The thermometer was two degrees below freezing-point, and a little snow continued to fall about us. I felt extremely exhausted after the exertion and excitement of the day; but some warm soup and the glow of a fire of birch branches revived me, and I soon fell into a deep refreshing sleep.
UNIVERSE SNOWY PEAKS AND STARLIT SPACES PERFECTION
WAR TIGRESS-THE AFRICAN CONTINENT - OPINION OF EASTERN
A LITTLE after midnight I was awakened by the intense cold; and went out of my tent, and a little way up the pass, to look upon the scene around. Every
, thing was frozen up and silent. The pools of water about us had ice an inch thick; my servants were in their closed rautí, and the bigarrís were sleeping, having, for protection from the cold, twisted themselves into a circle round the embers of their dying fire. There was the awful silence of the high mountains when the snow and ice cease to creep under the influence of the sunbeams. The storm had ceased;
“ The mute still air
the snow-clouds also had entirely passed away. The moon, which was little past its full, cast a brilliant
radiance on the savage scene around, so that every precipice, snow - wall, and icy peak was visible in marvellous distinctness ; and in its keen light the great glaciers shone gloriously : but, brilliant as the moon was, its light was insufficient to obscure the stars, which, at this altitude, literally flamed above, displaying
“All the dread magnificence of heaven.”
At night, amid these vast mountains, surrounded by icy peaks, shining starlike and innumerable as the hosts of heaven, and looking up to the great orbs flaming in the unfathomable abysses of space, one realises the immensity of physical existence in an overpowering and almost painful manner.
What am I? what are all these Tibetans and Paharries compared with the long line of gigantic mountains ? and what the mountains and the whole solar system as compared with any group of the great fixed stars? But this whole stellar universe which we see around us distinctly, extending beyond the limits of human conception — sparkling with stars on which the earth would be no more than a grain of sand is upon the earth, and including the undistinguished orbs which afford the light of the Milky Way-would be no more to our vision, if beheld from one of those dim nebula rings, composed of more distant stars, than the wreath of smoke blown from a cannon's mouth.
Though the facts have long been known, modern thought appears to be only now realising the power and boundless extent of the physical universe; for the phenomenon of conversion, or the effective realisation of admitted truth, is by no means confined to purely religious circles, but is a process which extends over the whole range of human knowledge. It is no wonder that such a realisation should engross the thoughts of many minds, and appear almost as a new revelation. But, accustomed as I was to the questions which thus arise, a strange feeling came over me amid those snowy peaks and starlit spaces.
How wonderful the order and perfection of the inorganic universe as compared with the misery and confusion of the organic ! Oxygen does not lie to hydrogen ; the white clouds pass gently into exquisitely-shaped flowers of snow; the blue ocean laughs unwounded round our star, and is gently drawn up to form the gorgeous veil of blue air and many-tinted cloud which makes the rugged earth beautiful. With perfectly-graduated power, the sun holds the planets in their course, and, to the utmost range of mortal ken, the universe is filled with glorious orbs.
But when we turn to the organic life around us, how strange the contrast, and especially as regards its higher manifestations !
A few individuals in every age, but especially at present, when they benefit by the exceptional standing-ground which such discoveries as that of the use of steam has given to the people of this century, may, arguing from their own experience, imagine that this is a satisfactory and happy world; but, unfortunately, it is only a select few who can console themselves with that illusion. Not in selfishness nor in anger, but in sad necessity, in every age and clime, the voice of humanity has risen in wondering, sorrow, and questioning to the silent heaven, and a different tone is adopted chiefly by those who are tossed up for a moment on the wave into the sunlight. I need only
refer to what the history of the animal creation (and, more especially, the human part of it) has been, and to the part which even its better tendencies play in augmenting the sum of wretchedness. The Hardwar tigress, which held a boy down in her den, though his shrieks rang from the rocks around, while her cubs played with him, was gratifying a holy maternal instinct; and the vivisectors of Europe are only slaking the sacred thirst for knowledge. Dr Livingstone wrote in one of his last journals, after witnessing a massacre of inoffending villagers—men, women, and children
, on the shore of Lake Tanganyika : “No one will ever know the exact loss on this bright, sultry summer morning; it gave me the impression of being in hell;" but still
“ The heavens keep up their terrible composure.” The scene to which he referred was far from being an abnormal one on the African continent, or different from its ordinary experience for countless generations; and when he referred to the locality in which such scenes are supposed to be natural, perhaps the great African traveller hit the mark nearer than he was himself aware of, though that would not prove that there may not be a worse place below. I merely give one or two illustrations, and do not attempt a proof which would require one to go over the history of the human race and of the brute creation which has been conjoined with it by the common bond of misery.
I need scarcely say, also, that the view of organic life which I have thus mildly indicated is the same as that of all the great thinkers of the earth, and of all our great systems of religion. The ancient Hindú sages soon perceived and expressly taught that our life was