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Two Years in the French West Indies By Lafcadio Hearn Characters: 2565

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


Reader, if you be of those who have longed in vain for a glimpse of that tropic world,-tales of whose beauty charmed your childhood, and made stronger upon you that weird mesmerism of the sea which pulls at the heart of a boy,-one who had longed like you, and who, chance-led, beheld at last the fulfilment of the wish, can swear to you that the magnificence of the reality far excels the imagining. Those who know only the lands in which all processes for the satisfaction of human wants have been perfected under the terrible stimulus of necessity, can little guess the witchery of that Nature ruling the zones of color and of light. Within their primeval circles, the earth remains radiant and young as in that preglacial time whereof some transmitted memory may have created the hundred traditions of an Age of Gold. And the prediction of a paradise to come,-a phantom realm of rest and perpetual light: may this not have been but a sum of the remembrances and the yearnings of man first exiled from his heritage,-a dream born of the great nostalgia of races migrating to people the pallid North?...

... But with the realization of the hope to know this magical Nature you learn that the actuality varies from the preconceived ideal otherwise than in surpassing it. Unless yo

u enter the torrid world equipped with scientific knowledge extraordinary, your anticipations are likely to be at fault. Perhaps you had pictured to yourself the effect of perpetual summer as a physical delight,-something like an indefinite prolongation of the fairest summer weather ever enjoyed at home. Probably you had heard of fevers, risks of acclimatization, intense heat, and a swarming of venomous creatures; but you may nevertheless believe you know what precautions to take; and published statistics of climatic temperature may have persuaded you that the heat is not difficult to bear. By that enervation to which all white dwellers in the tropics are subject you may have understood a pleasant languor,-a painless disinclination to effort in a country where physical effort is less needed than elsewhere,-a soft temptation to idle away the hours in a hammock, under the shade of giant trees. Perhaps you have read, with eyes of faith, that torpor of the body is favorable to activity of the mind, and therefore believe that the intellectual powers can be stimulated and strengthened by tropical influences:-you suppose that enervation will reveal itself only as a beatific indolence which will leave the brain free to think with lucidity, or to revel in romantic dreams.

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