Wanderlust

“The wanderlust is perhaps the most precious of all the troublesome appetites of the soul of man. It makes him keep in his cupboard a friendly old suit of comfortable wear that has paled under the fervent eye of the sun, and been matured by dust and mud and rain, and with that, a pair of honest boots nailed like the oak door of an ancient keep which of themselves direct one’s way o’er moor and fell and bog and bypath away from the offence and clamour of cars and trains; it saves his soul from being lost in the vain attempt to keep itself alive by indulging in the vices of the smart or the flashy inanities of those to whom the jewels of life are paste or glass; it keeps his windows open to the winds of heaven and his heart to the song of birds. What better service can be done either to the body or the soul of man?”

This passage is taken from the introduction to “Wanderings & Excursions” by James Ramsay MacDonald, published in 1925 when he was Prime Minister. He was also a keen hill-walker. I came across this book recently in our excellent local second-hand book shop. On the whole, it’s clear why his fame rests on his political career. But I have enjoyed some parts of what I’ve read. I’ve been thinking of posting this quotation for a while and was finally prompted to get round to it by Solitary Walkers post about wanderlust.

Wanderlust