« PreviousContinue »
PATHFINDERS OF THE SOUL-COUNTRY
“And he went out, not knowing whither he went."HEB. II:8.
THE pathfinder is both master and servant:
he captivates with his adventures, he capital
izes with his achievements. He is the troubadour of the ages; he is the salt of society. He saves civilization from itself; he keeps it from becoming stale and flat. No beaten pathway suffices for him. He must push across the plains into the undiscovered country. He belongs to the glorious company of true pioneers who delight to sing:
"Beyond the East the sunrise,
Beyond the West the sea,
That will not let me be."
Pathfinders of old pushed out over the unknown western sea in their frail craft. The Norse Vikings were the first; in their wake came Columbus, then the sturdy English sailors with Sebastian Cabot, Francis Drake and Oxenham. Unto this day of Grenfel, on the coast of Labrador, there has not lacked the noble company of rovers of the sea,
who have inårked the path of many waters. In traveis by land the pathfinders have been just as constant. Through the trackless forests of the great north country pushed the fur-clad, lynx-eyed trappers of the Hudson Bay Company; through the jungle of the Appalachian region went the same kind of men with Daniel Boone and Kit Carson. The huntsmen push out for track of bear and trace of deer; this automobile age knows the mission of the pathfinder hastening ahead, as pilot for the best course on the cross-country tour.
Pathfinders have not only contributed to the subduing of the physical wilderness, but they have filled no inconspicuous rôle in the upward march of civilization. The well-beaten pathway made comfortable by knowledge, invention, literature and art glides beneath the tread of millions today, because the first breakers of the trail were true pathfinders, men of deep vision and everlasting courage. The modern scientific spirit of unbiased, accurate and careful observation and experimentation is our heritage because of the path that was cleaved by Francis Bacon in his “Novum Organum.” The modern educational system with its freedom of initiative and direct handling of problems which we accept as a matter of course is a reality because the brave pathfinder, Christian Thomasius, at the University of Leipsig in 1687, rebelled against the dead weight of mediæval scholasticism and dared to give his lectures in the vernacular of his German students, rather than to follow the smothered tones