Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Boreham on Nature as Evocator

Packet of Surprises
F W Boreham wrote many editorials about ‘the infinities of nature’ because this was the feature that had the greatest potential to evoke surprise and wonder within human society.

According to Boreham: “A world that could no longer surprise us would be a world that had run out of bombshells .… Half the fun of waking up in the morning is the feeling that you have come upon a day that the world has never seen before, a day that is certain to do things that no other day has ever done. Half the pleasure of welcoming a new-born baby is the absolute certainty that here you have a packet of amazing surprises ... here is novelty, originality, an infinity of bewildering possibility”.[1]

Impact of Nature on Boreham
Reviewing his life, Boreham recounted a childhood experience of nature’s surprises when on his first expedition to the spot where he could glimpse the sea. Remembering the longing that drew him he wrote, “A cat has nine lives but a child’s expectancy has a thousand”.[2] In recording his many first encounters of nature, Boreham often remarked on its personal impact, detailing how, upon arrival in London, he was “hungry for fresh experiences”[3] and “specializing in novelties”.[4] Later in Australia, he was fascinated by the way he could never return to a familiar spot in the bush “without discovering some fresh delight”.[5]

Restlessness of the Boundless
The instinct for the new that he had experienced was part of the human consciousness of “the boundless, the illimitable, the eternal” in nature and was Boreham’s explanation for the unseen pull that lured explorers on their journeys of discovery.[6] He alluded to this in his many editorials on the poetry of the sea[7] and the stories of naval explorers[8] who were drawn by “the lure of blue water”,[9] “the magnetism of the masts”[10] and “the thought of beyond”.[11] Seeking to explain the human passion for undertaking lonely and often painful expeditions over land and sea, Boreham said: “Man is fevered with the restlessness of infinity .… He is ceaselessly magnetized by the beyond. What is beyond the mountains, beyond the oceans, beyond the utmost bounds of space? What is beyond time, beyond life, beyond death? It is his contemplation of these august and stately problems that, in the long run, shapes his personality and moulds his destiny”.[12]

Geoff Pound

Image: “the lure of blue water.”

[1] F W Boreham, Faces in the fire (London: The Epworth Press, 1916), 14.
[2] Boreham, My pilgrimage, 15.
[3] Boreham, My pilgrimage, 63.
[4] Boreham, My pilgrimage, 61.
[5] F W Boreham, A tuft of comet’s hair (London: The Epworth Press, 1926), 199.
[6] Boreham, Mercury, 7 October 1939; Age, 22 November 1947.
[7] Boreham, Mercury, 6 October 1928.
[8] Boreham, Mercury, 21 March 1925.
[9] Boreham, Mercury, 19 January 1929.
[10] Boreham, Mercury, 4 February 1939.
[11] Boreham, Mercury, 1 January 1940.
[12] Boreham, Mercury, 19 April 1958; Age, 23 January 1954.