Account of My Travels
I was always fond of visiting new scenes, and observing strange characters and manners. Even when a mere child I began my travels, and made many tours of discovery into foreign parts and unknown regions of my native city, to the frequent alarm of my parents, and the emolument of the town-crier. As I grew into boyhood, I extended the range of my observations. My holiday afternoons were spent in rambles about the surrounding country. I made myself familiar with all its places famous in history or fable. I knew every spot where a murder or robbery had been committed, or a ghost seen. I visited the neighboring villages, and added greatly to my stock of knowledge, by noting their habits and customs, and conversing with their sages and great men. I even journeyed one long summer's day to the summit of the most distant hill, whence I stretched my eye over many a mile of terra incognita, and was astonished to find how vast a globe I inhabited.
This rambling propensity strengthened with my years. Books of voyages and travels became my passion, and in devouring their contents, I neglected the regular exercises of the school. How wistfully would I wander about the pier-heads in fine weather, and watch the parting ships, bound to distant climes- with what longing eyes would I gaze after their lessening sails, and waft myself in imagination to the ends of the earth!
Further reading and thinking, though they brought this vague inclination into more reasonable bounds, only served to make it more decided. I visited various parts of my own country; and had I been merely a lover of fine scenery, I should have felt little desire to seek elsewhere its gratification, for on no country have the charms of nature been more prodigally lavished. Her mighty lakes, like oceans of liquid silver; her mountains, with their bright aerial tints; her valleys, teeming with wild fertility; her tremendous cataracts, thundering in their solitudes; her boundless plains, waving with spontaneous verdure; her broad deep rivers, rolling in solemn silence to the ocean; her trackless forests, where vegetation puts forth all its magnificence; her skies, kindling with the magic of summer clouds and glorious sunshine;- no, never need an American look beyond his own country for the sublime and beautiful of natural scenery.
Active Play or Passive Entertainment?
Our diurnal existence is divided into two phases, as distinct as day and night. We call them work and play. We work so many hours a day. And, when we have allowed the necessary minimum for such activities as eating and shopping, the rest we spend in various activities which are known as recreations, an elegant word which disguises the fact that we usually do not even play in our hours of leisure, but spend them in various forms of passive enjoyment or entertainment―not playing football but watching football matches;not acting but theatre-going;Not walking but riding in a motor coach.
We need to make, therefore, a hard-and-fast distinction not only between work and play but equally between active play and passive entertainment. It is, I suppose, the decline of active play―of amateur sport―and the enormous growth of purely receptive entertainment which has given rise to a sociological interest in the problem. If the greater part of the population, instead of indulging in sport, spend their hours of leisure viewing television programmers, there will inevitably be a decline in health and physique.