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III. PREMONITIONS AND ADMONITIONS ENCOUNTERS WITH THINGS TO COME Hawaii volcano scene from Narrative of a Tour Through Hawaii , or Owbyee by William Ellis (London: H. Fishyer, 1828) IN THIS final section, the readings all communicate the future, though in different ways. The prescient quality of George Catlin's vision, uncanny in retrospect, was more the result of a painterly flight of fancy than a reasoned working-out of the national park idea; for that, we have Frederick Law Olmsted to thank. Paternalistic as it was, the Lowell industrial plan, described here by Charles Dickens, heralded some of the advances which blue-collar women have only recently begun to make in the American workplace. The essays by Bayard Taylor and Mark Twain, who were ostensibly writing in description of striking geological features, are really mood-pieces that catch an otherworldliness in which all modes of time-past, present, and future - merge. Much of this anthology has imputed a timelessness to the national parks. We have had them for well over a century now; as they have aged, they have acquired a beguiling bouquet of inevitability. Yet if it is true, as it seems to be, that humankind's capacity for spoliation grows a little bigger each day, then is the continued existence of the parks to be taken for granted? There is a lot of talk, in connection with the national parks, about "future generations." Some of this is vacant breath, boilerplate, the clattering of bureaucrats. Some, though, is spoken in earnest, and those who speak it are necessarily candid about the unsecured-the never-to be-secured-future of the parks. The pieces by James Bryce and Wallace Stegner are marked by this candor, and prefigure the admonitory themes which have dominated national park writing since the 1960s. George Catlin A NATION'S PARK
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Catlin was first and foremost a painter, whose fame, rightfully, rests on his portraits of American Indian life. He also played the journalist, however, and recorded for Eastern readers the details of his Western travels. It was in one of these letters, published in 1833in the New York Daily Commercial Advertiser , that he voiced the need for “some great protecting policy of government” to secure “a nation's Park” to protect both the lifeways of the Indians and the native game upon which they depended. If only white settlers would leave off slaughtering the buffalo, and if “a system of non-intercourse” could be established instead then the communities of the Indians might be perpetuated. These brief remarks have since brought Catlin wide recognition as the first person to envision the concept of a national park. Essentially this is correct, though it should be remembered that William Wordsworth was calling for a “national property” in England's Lake District at about this time. Moreover, several foreign observers of the United States, among them Alexis de Tocqueville, were even then warning A men can readers that they would be sorry if they allowed their country to be despoiled. Putting aside the question of precedence, Catlin c statement deserves its fame, if for
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