Various as are these impressions, it is strange and worth thinking on that the dominant suggestion of Nature through all her changes, whether her mood be stormy or sunny, melancholy or jubilant, is one of presage and promise. She seems to be ever holding out to us an immortal invitation to follow and endure, to endure and to enjoy. She seems to say that what she brings us is but an earnest of what she holds for us out there along the vanishing road. There is nothing, indeed, she will not promise us, and no promise, we feel, she cannot keep. Even in her tragic and bodeful seasons, in her elegiac autumns and stern winters, there is an energy of sorrow and sacrifice that elevates and inspires, and in the darkest hours hints at immortal mornings. She may terrify, but she never deadens, the soul. In earthquake and eclipse she seems to be less busy with destruction than with renewed creation. She is but wrecking the old, that
there shall be
Beautiful things made new, for the surprise
Of the sky-children.
As I have thus mused along with the reader, a reader I hope not too imaginary, the manner in which the phrase with which I began has recurred to my pen has been no mere accident, nor yet has it been a mere literary device. It seemed to wait for one at every turn of one’s theme, inevitably presenting itself. For wherever in Nature we set our foot, she seems to be endlessly the centre of vanishing roads, radiating in every direction into space and time. Nature is forever arriving and forever departing, forever approaching, forever vanishing; but in her vanishings there seems to be ever the waving of a hand, in all her partings a promise of meetings farther along the road. She would seem to say not so much Ave atque vale, as Vale atque ave. In all this rhythmic drift of things, this perpetual flux of atoms flowing on and on into Infinity, we feel less the sense of loss than of a musical progression of which we too are notes.