Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

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

Friday, November 09, 2007

Boreham on the Familiar and the Foreign

F W Boreham tells a couple of stories about the way that we so often have never awakened to the charms of the beauty spots around us yet we will travel long distances to see other attractions.

They remind me of the people of Mablethorpe, Tennyson's favourite retreat. ‘Mablethorpe,’ as Francis Thompson tells us, ‘was the bourne [archaic word for destination or goal] to which his feet turned whenever there was a question of a holiday, and it became so idealized in his mind that for ever after it was a standard of grandeur by which he tried all seas.’

But the inhabitants of the place were always puzzled to discover what it was that fascinated him. ‘I used to stand on the sand-built ridge and think it was the spine-bone of the world,’ Tennyson exclaims. But the old fisherman on the beach could make neither head nor tail of it. He could not imagine why the crowds swarmed down to his quiet home as soon as summer came. ‘Nottingham and Lincoln foalk moastly coom 'ere,’ the old man told the poet, ‘a vast sight of 'em soom taime; and the wind blaws the poor things a bit, and they weshes their bodies in the waaves!’ That is the worst of living in a place.

I confess that I saw more of London, and formed a more just appreciation of its grandeurs, during a brief visit to the Homeland from New Zealand than during all the years of my residence in the world's metropolis.

There is a famous story told concerning James Russell Lowell. In the days of his youth he spent one memorable summer vacation in the White Mountain district. One day, when enjoying a stroll through the Franconia Notch, he became absorbed in conversation with a man who was in charge of a sawmill. The man chatted on, feeding his mill with logs the while. Presently the poet asked his new acquaintance if he could direct him to a point from which he could obtain a good view of the ‘Old Man of the Mountain.’ ‘Dunno’ replied the man, ‘never seed it!’ Lowell immediately expressed his astonishment that any one living so near such a marvellous spectacle, which people came from long distances to see, should never have taken the pains to gaze upon it.

‘And how far have you come?’ asked the man. With evident pride the poet answered that he had come from Boston. ‘D'you tell?’ exclaimed the countryman. ‘I'd like to see Boston. Why, just to stand for once on Bunker Hill! You've been there often, likely?’ And James Russell Lowell confessed with shame and confusion of face that he never had!

Source: F W Boreham 'Wedge Bay' The Golden Milestone (London: Charles H Kelly, 1915), 112-113.

Image: Side profile of ‘Old Man of the Mountain’

The Old Man of the Mountain, nicknamed the Great Stone Face or Profile, was located in Franconia Notch State Park. The Old Man of the Mountain was scenically set 1,200' above Profile Lake. Discovered in 1805, the rocks that made up the profile collapsed on May 3, 2003.
Before his collapse, The Old Man of the Mountain could be viewed year-round from two different viewing areas on I-93 in Franconia Notch State Park. On the northbound side of the highway there is a pull-off and on the southbound side take Exit 34B and follow signs.

Daniel Webster once said:
"Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades; shoemakers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but in the mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men."