In one part of the book Coates discusses the mountains and how some people of the Romantic era saw them differently than the majestic piles of beauty that we see them as today. Travelers and poets expressed them to be “boils, warts, and blisters that disfigured the fair face of nature” (pg 130). Coates says that these views are the product of a combination of bad roads when traveling through the mountains, which made travels uncomfortable, and the literature at the time, which assess mountains as dreary and dismal. This leads me to think about the modern era and the way we think about mountains today. If today’s artists and writers depicted the mountains as they were depicted during this time would we still revel in them as we do today? Do we just think certain parts of nature are beautiful because others tell us to think so?
“‘Cataracts and mountains are good for occasional society…but they will not do for constant companions'” (pg 135). Alexander Supertramp would agree. There are those who believe they have a strong connection with nature and feel as if it is where they truly belong. But how long could these people actually last in what they consider true nature? And is it not an argument that humans are apart of nature so would not living as we do among humans also be considered living in nature? I think it would be hard for any one human to live without other humans. Even those who live in the mountains, spending loads of money to build their lavish, exclusive houses, have neighbors, or roads that can lead to potential civilizations. Likewise, although we have a lot more information about science about science than humans throughout history, our knowledge is still very basic and the common human probably could not survive in the undisturbed parts of nature for any substantial amount of time.
Coates mentions Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty (one of my all time favorite books) as part of the humanitarian movement of the time. Black Beauty follows the life of a horse, Black Beauty, as he is passed from owner to owner, facing abuse as well as kindness from humans. One of the biggest controversies of the books is using the horses for fashion in abusive ways. For instance, Beauty and his companion Ginger are forced to hold there heads unbearably high while pulling a cart. It was a practice performed by the aristocrats of the time in the name of fashion, with no regards to the horses who experience excruciating pain. Beauty is later sold from these people after been throwing a shoe while being ridden hard by a drunk man and scraping his knees. The aristocratic woman cannot have something looking so bad pulling her around town, so she sells him. Yet another way humans try to bend nature to their will. Society says it’s wrong to abuse animals, but only the animals humans like and some abuse is okay as long as it’s not the wrong kind of abuse.