Monday, May 21, 2012

Bartram's Travels

An interesting person, yes, but William Bartram (1739-1823) -- 
through his writings, notes, letters and illustrations -- also left a cultural treasure for the ages, and a great botanical garden in Philadelphia. After seeing some of his illustrations yesterday, I wondered what inspired him onward and upward. 

Looking through Bartram's Travels Through North & South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges, or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws; Containing An Account of the Soil and Natural Productions of Those Regions, Together with Observations on the Manners of the Indians, Embellished with Copper-Plates: Electronic Edition, I serendipitously came across this passage, which seems to address his underlying motivation and worldview:

We are, all of us, subject to crosses and disappointments, but more especially the traveller; and when they surprise us, we frequently become restless and impatient under them: but let us rely on Providence, and by studying and contemplating the works and power of the Creator, learn wisdom and understanding in the economy of nature, and be seriously attentive to the divine monitor within. Let us be obedient to the ruling powers in such things as regard human affairs, our duties to each other, and all creatures and concerns that are submitted to our care and controul [old spelling]. (Part II, Chapter 1, page 57; originally published in 1791).

The next time I go to Philadelphia, Bartram's Garden will most definitely be on the agenda:

A modest Quaker bow to William Bartram and also to his father, John Bartram (1699-1777), a notable traveller, explorer and botanist in his own right.

Today's Rune: Flow.


Anonymous said...

Kudos for your nod to Bartram - here to botanists and native plant devotees. His writings are an invaluable glimpse into what the landscape here looked like before we fucked it all up.


Charles Gramlich said...

I'll make a note of that garden too. I love visiting such places. Lana and I both.