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Mtsings on the Matterhorn, Jétly 27, 1868.

“HACKED and hurt by time, the aspect of the mountain from its
higher crags saddened me. Hitherto the impression it made was that of
savage strength; here we had inexorable decay. But this notion of decay
implied a reference to a period when the Matterhorn was in the full
strength of mountainhood. Thought naturally ran back to its remoter
origin and sculpture. Nor did thought halt there, but wandered on
through 'molten worlds to that nebulous haze which philos0phers have
regarded, and with good reason, as the proximate source. of all material
things. I tried to look at this universal cloud, containing within itself the
prediction of all that has since occurred; I tried to imagine it as the seat
of those forces whose action was to issue in solar and stellar systems,
and all that they involve. Did that formless fog contain potentially the
sadness with which I regarded the Matterhorn? Did the thought which
now ran back to it simply return to its primeval home? If so, had we
not better recast our definitions of matter and force; for if life and
thought be the very flower of both, any definition which omits life and
thought must be inadequate, if not untrue. Are questions like these
warranted? Why not? If the final goal of man has not been yet
attained; if his development has not been yet arrested, who can say that
such yearnings and questionings are not necessary to the Opening of a
finer vision, to the budding and the growth of diviner powers? When I
look at the'heavens and the earth, at my own body, at my strength and
weakness of mind, even at these ponderings, and ask myself, is there no
being or thing in the universe that knows more about these matters than
I do; what is my answer? Supposing our theologic schemes of crea-
tion, condemnation, and redemption, to be dissipated; and the warmth
of denial which they excite, and which, as a motive force, can match the
warmth of affirmation dissipated at the same time; would the undeflected
human mind return to the meridian of absolute neutrality as regards these
ultra-physical questions? Is such a position one of stable equilibrium?
The channels of thought being already formed, such are the questions
without replies, which could run'athwart consciousness during a ten
minutes. halt noon the weathered noint of the Matterhorn.”

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