I fell in speechless adoration on my knees and shed tears of thankfulness, for suddenly my future stood clear before my soul. For early offense thrust out from the society of men, I was cast, for compensation, upon Nature, which I ever loved; the earth was given me as a rich garden, study for the object and strength of my life, and science for its goal. It was no resolution which I adopted. I only have since, with severe, unremitted diligence, striven faithfully to represent what then stood clear and perfect before my eye, and my satisfaction has depended on the agreement of the representation with the original.
I roused myself in order, without delay, and with a hasty survey, to take possession of the field where I should hereafter reap. I stood on the heights of Tibet, and the sun, which had risen upon me only a few hours before, now already stooped to the evening sky. I wandered over Asia from east to west, overtaking him in his course, and entered Africa. I gazed about me with eager curiosity, as I repeatedly traversed it in all directions. As I surveyed the ancient pyramids and temples in passing through Egypt, I descried in the desert not far from hundred-gated Thebes, the caves where the Christian anchorites once dwelt. It was suddenly firm and clear in me—here is thy home! I selected one of the most concealed which was at the same time spacious, convenient, and inaccessible to the jackals, for my future abode, and again went forward.
I passed, at the pillars of Hercules, over to Europe, and when I reviewed the southern and northern provinces, I crossed from northern Asia over the polar glaciers to Greenland and America, traversed both parts of that continent, and the winter which already reigned in the south drove me speedily back northward from Cape Horn.
I tarried awhile till it was day in eastern Asia, and, after some repose, continued my wandering. I traced through both Americas the mountain chain which constitutes the highest known acclivities on our globe. I stalked slowly and cautiously from summit to summit, now over flaming volcanoes, now snow-crowned peaks, often breathing with difficulty, when, reaching Mount Saint Elias, I sprang across Behring’s Straits to Asia. I followed the western shores in their manifold windings, and examined with especial care to ascertain which of the islands were accessible to me. From the peninsula of Malacca my boots carried me to Sumatra, Java, Bali and Lamboc. I attempted often with danger, and always in vain, a northwest passage over the lesser islet and rocks with which this sea is studded, to Borneo and the other islands of this Archipelago. I was compelled to abandon the hope. At length I seated myself on the extreme portion of Lamboc, and gazing toward the south and east, wept, as at the fast closed bars of my prison, that I had so soon discovered my limits. New Holland so extraordinary and so essentially necessary to the comprehension of the earth and its sun-woven garment, the vegetable and the animal world, with the South Sea and its Zoophyte islands, was interdicted to me, and thus, at the very outset, all that I should gather and build up was destined to remain a mere fragment! Oh, my Adelbert, what, after all, are the endeavors of men!