Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

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

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Boreham with More on Wedge Bay

Wedge Bay is the most humiliating place in the solar system. If any scholar is proud of his knowledge of botany or zoology, or entomology, or ornithology, or any other -osophy or -ology, let him do as I have done; let him take with him a couple of inquisitive schoolgirls and go to Wedge Bay! He will find himself in a world that is simply overflowing with life. He will be bewildered by its teeming abundance, its confusing multiplicity, its endless prodigality. He will find life, in every possible and impossible phase and form, swarming and scurrying, flapping and fluttering, rustling and crawling, whispering and twittering, bounding and splashing, everywhere and all the time! He will see life peeping forth from every crack and crevice. Life is breaking out, and bursting up, and bubbling over everywhere. Kick a stone, or crush a shell, or stir a log or tear the bark, and new forms of life will unfailingly present themselves.

I have heard of men going to the city to see life. Deluded creatures! If they really want to see life, let them go to Wedge Bay! Here they will find life that is terrible, and life that is beautiful; life that is repulsive, and life that is charming; with all varieties and gradations of intermediate shades. Let your scholar go, I say, and test his erudition in this quiet spot. And let those curious schoolgirls probe into every place that protrudes and poke into every hole that yawns. And as they bring forth every moment, wriggling and kicking, some new and fantastic form of life, let them ask him, time after time, 'What is it, father, what is it?' And he will soon grow tired of the exacting exercise of finding safe and general terms with which to classify the new discovery; or, abandoning casuistry, he will weary of the monotony of his own voice as he confesses, again and again, his lamentable ignorance. And, in either case, his pride will vanish like a dream, and he will return from Wedge Bay a humble and a contrite man.

Nor does the trouble end at that. The humiliations of Wedge Bay do not spare me even at this excruciating; point. For, after all that I have seen, I am still oppressed by the painful conviction that most of the beauty of this charming place has really eluded me, and even eluded these sharp-eyed young foragers of mine. At every turn I am conscious of a feeling that there is a beauty lurking everywhere that I am too gross and too blind and too stupid to perceive.

F W Boreham, ‘Wedge Bay’, The Golden Milestone (London: Charles H Kelly, 1915), 113-115.

Image: another photo of Wedge Bay taken by FWB circa 1912.

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."

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Boreham on Going Bush and Heading for the Sea

Wherever F W Boreham went he developed favourite hideaways in the bush and often by the sea where he could go, rest and experience their bounty.

At Mosgiel he has Saddle Hill during the week and Taieri Mouth where the family went for holidays and recuperation.

In Tasmania, Boreham often climbed Mt Wellington but the family spent a total of six months, he says in this excerpt, at Wedge Bay.

At Armadale, Frank and Stella went to the nearby Botanical Gardens every week but they often had holidays in the Dandenong Mountains overlooking Melbourne.

In his retirement and old age there were still trips to the Botanical Gardens and the Dandenongs but in the 1950s they had weekly picnics in the beautiful Boroondara cemetery (where their daughter Wroxie had been buried).

I have had the privilege of visiting all these spots and without exception they are glorious places. In this excerpt from an essay on Wedge Bay, one gets an insight into the way that wonderful nature spots and regular immersion in beauty left their mark on the thinking and personality of F W Boreham:

There is just one spot on God's fair earth that I fancy I know better than any one else. I am not claiming the Fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society on that account, although I cannot imagine that any of the world's more ponderous explorers can have done their work with greater thoroughness. Lord Curzon told the Royal Geographical Society the other day that the explorers of the future, instead of examining the general outline of huge territories, will do their best work by investigating small areas in microscopic detail. That being so, I am not without hope of official recognition; but I will not at this moment press my claims. The realm of my choice is worth exploring. It is a little land-locked bay. I do not suppose that the entire sheet of shimmering water exceeds in area a couple of square miles. Its banks are studded byscores of sheltered nooks and dainty coves—the homes of the iris, the orchid and the heath—and away over the rolling hills the great bush clothes the rugged slopes as far as eye can reach.

I have spent about six months of my life poking about this solitary place trying to woo its favour and win its golden secrets, and I really think that, if one of the trees about the water's edge were to fall in my absence, I should miss it and mourn it next time I go. I have no idea how many trees there are, but I should be like those African shepherds who, knowing nothing of arithmetic and unable to count, nevertheless miss at once the sheep that has vanished from their flock. There is something strangely individual, and therefore strangely familiar, about trees. In his Gamekeeper at Home, Richard Jefferies speaks of the grief with which he gazed upon the ugly gap in the English avenue caused by the fall of the old oak; and the paragraph comes back to me as I glance round upon the giant trees that tower up from the scrub around the waters of Wedge Bay. Some of them are getting very tottery, and the sight of one of them, stretched at full length among its smaller neighbours who have been crushed beneath its fall, would awaken much the same emotions as those with which a visitor to his former home reads the names of his old familiars on the tombstones in the village churchyard. Fortunately, however, such calamities occur much less frequently than one would suppose, and the thing that most surprises you is that the changes are so few.

I rowed one day recently into a shady little inlet, and was surprised to find it exactly as I had left it a couple of years before. The stone fireplace I had fashioned, and the traces of the picnic we had held there, were quite undisturbed. So far as I could discern, not a stick nor a stone had been moved since our previous visit, and the bush was to all appearances exactly as we left it. Out in the world of men things change so swiftly that one's brain reels and swims with the ceaseless whirl, and it exerts a steadying influence on one's mind to retreat into a solitude that simply scorns all your lightning transformations. Here, as it was in the beginning, it is now, and so it ever shall be, world without end; and it is restful to saturate oneself in the brooding silence of the forest primaeval. I like to sit in this quiet cove, where I picnicked two years ago, and to reflect that it is today exactly as it was in the days of the Caesars. It is like closing your tired eyes when, at the cinematograph, you can bear the flicker no longer.

F W Boreham, ‘Wedge Bay’ The Golden Milestone (London: Charles H Kelly, 1915), 109-111.

Image: Wedge Bay (taken by FWB).

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Boreham on the Fragrance that Counts

F W Boreham tells this story of Henry Drummond.

A woman whose husband was dying came to Drummond late on a Saturday evening, and begged him to come to her house.

“My husband is deein', sir; he's no able to speak to you, and he's no able to hear you; but oh, do come!”

“But if your husband can neither hear nor speak, it's of no use my coming,” the professor reasoned.

“Oh, yes, sir, do come,” the woman pleaded. “I'd gie anything for him to hae just a breath o' you aboot him afore he dees!”

F W Boreham, ‘Roses’ The Golden Milestone (London: Charles H Kelly, 1915), 105.

Image: Henry Drummond

Boreham on Growing Roses and the Floriculture of the Soul

I felt that I should like to grow roses. So I bought a book. It is called A Book About Roses, and is written by Dean Hole. The very first sentence in the book is well worth the money I gave for it. And, ever since I opened the volume for the first time, that golden sentence has been singing itself over and over in my brain. Here it is:
'He who would have beautiful roses in his garden must have beautiful roses in his heart.'
‘Roses in his heart!’
Roses in his heart!’

A heart full of delicate fragrance and full of many-tinted loveliness, a heart littered only with silky petals and haunted only by exquisite perfumes.

‘He who would have beautiful roses in his garden must have beautiful roses in his heart!’ I want beautiful roses in my garden. And to get them I must grow beautiful roses in my heart! But how am I to achieve this floriculture of the soul? Who will teach me how to turn the wilderness of my heart into a garden of sweetly scented roses?

I turned wistfully back to my book, and I find that if I would grow beautiful roses in my garden and beautiful roses in my heart, I must cultivate an eye for roses. I must learn intelligently to admire them. I must know a really lovely blossom when I see it. I must have too much artistic appreciation to be tricked by garish gaudiness or deceived by vulgar display. I must not mistake the flaunting for the fair. But then, how am I to acquire this highly educated taste, this nicely cultured eye? How am I to learn to love a really choice blossom, and to scorn a merely showy bloom? How shall I learn to distinguish a dainty princess from a shameless pretender? There is only one thing for it. I must go where good roses are! I must secure the friendship of people who think roses, talk roses, read roses, write roses, dream roses, and who do all this because they love roses! I must attend the great rose shows, where only the very choicest varieties are exhibited. I must visit the most successful rosariums, where the most exquisite kinds are fondly treasured by hearts in which roses are flourishing, and where every bush is tended by fingers so soft and tender that not a dew-drop is needlessly disturbed. Yes, I must go where good roses are if I would learn to know a good rose when I see it. I must go where good roses are if I would grow good roses in my garden, and grow good roses in my heart. Now I know people whose hearts are perfect gardens of roses. You cannot spend ten minutes in their company without detecting the subtle and delicious aroma. Their very presence is like perfume. Their influence is fragrant!

F W Boreham, ‘Roses’ The Golden Milestone (London: Charles H Kelly, 1915), 99-101.

Image: “If I would grow beautiful roses in my garden and beautiful roses in my heart…”

Monday, November 05, 2007

Favorite Boreham Quotes

Have you got a favorite F W Boreham quote?

I was prompted to ask this question when I saw a posting today with a list of the writer’s favorites. Here is one of the many:

“How often has a boy carved his way to fame because of his intense consciousness that somebody expected him to become great!” - The Three Half-Moons

Check out the rest at this link:

Favorite Boreham Quotes, Seminarian

If you have a favorite FWB quote please add it in the comments below:

Geoff Pound

Image: “How often has a boy carved his way to fame…”