What is life but a form of motion and a journey through a foreign world?
Compared with the emigrant the explorer is the greater traveler; his ventures are less momentous but more dashing and more prolonged.
The idea of migration is often latent in his mind too: if he is so curious to discover new lands, and to describe them, it is partly because he might not be sorry to appropriate them.
But the potential conqueror in him is often subdued into a disinterested adventurer and a scientific observer. He may turn into a wanderer.
He may turn into a wanderer. Your true explorer or naturalist sallies forth in the domestic interest; his heart is never uprooted; he goes foraging like a soldier, out in self-defense, or for loot, or for elbow room.
The inveterate wanderer is a deluded person, trying like the Flying Dutchman to escape from himself: his instinct is to curl up in a safe nook unobserved, and start prowling again in the morning, without purpose and without profit. He is a voluntary outcast, a tramp.
The latest type of traveler, and the most notorious, is the tourist. Having often been one myself, I will throw no stones at him; for facts or for beauty, all tourists are dear to Hermes, the god of travel, who is patron also of amiable curiosity and freedom of mind.
There is wisdom in turning often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar: it keeps the mind nimble, it kills prejudice, and it fosters humor. I do not think that frivolity and dissipation of mind and aversion from one’s own birthplace, or the aping of foreign manners and arts are serious diseases: they kill, but they do not kill anybody worth saving.
Ulysses remembered Ithaca. With a light heart and clear mind he would have admitted that Troy was unrivalled in grandeur, Phaecia in charm, and Calypso in enchantment: that could not make the sound of the waves breaking on his own shores less pleasant to his ears; it could only render more enlightened, more unhesitating, his choice of what was naturally his.
The human heart is local and finite, it has roots: and if the intellect radiates from it, according to its strength, to greater and greater distances, the reports, if they are to be gathered up at all, must be gathered up at that center.
A man who knows the world cannot covet the world; and if he were not content with his lot in it (which after all has included that saving knowledge) he would be showing little respect for all those alien perfections which he professes to admire.
They were all local, all finite, all cut off from being anything but what they happened to be; and if such limitation and such arbitrariness were beautiful there, he has but to dig down to the principle of his own life, and clear it of all confusion and indecision, in order to bring it too to perfect expression after its kind: and then wise travelers will come also to his city, and praise its name.
1. All the photos I have taken in the train journey from Geneva Illinois to Chicago and back.
2. The Philosophy of Travel by George Santayana