The beauty of Nature is a gift of God. The purpose of this gift is to make us happy and to lift up our thoughts to higher things. The greatest works of Art and the greatest writings in both prose and poetry have been inspired by this gift of beauty.
All God’s gifts to us carry responsibility; we are bound to use them as He intends us to do, or we go against His goodwill. His goodwill is that all of us shall enjoy the beauty of Nature, not some of us; therefore we must not only enjoy the gift ourselves but we must protect it from being spoiled for other people. For instance, if we break down branches of flowering trees or root up flowering plants we are spoiling for other people what we have enjoyed ourselves. This is selfish. Again, if we destroy birds’ nests, especially if they are rare kinds, we are preventing other people from enjoying the sight of those birds. This is selfish. If we throw rubbish of any kind, broken bottles, crockery, tins, papers, &c., into clear water—either stream, lake or pond—we are destroying the beauty of the water for other people. This again is selfish.
One of the ways in which many beautiful places are spoiled is by the leaving about of waste paper, bottles, orange peel, banana skins, egg shells, cigarette boxes, &c., &c. All these things are very ugly in themselves, and the ugliness and untidyness of leaving them about prevents the beauty of the place which is God’s gift for making us happy and lifting up our thoughts to higher things. For how can we be happy if we are surrounded by signs of thoughtlessness and selfishness and how then can our thoughts be lifted up to higher things? There are many places of great beauty in this country which people can only visit perhaps once in a year or perhaps even once in a lifetime. Is it not the height of unkindness to them to spoil in any way their enjoyment of such places?
We are proud of our native land, and if we do anything to destroy its beauty or injure it in any way we are not true patriots, for the true patriot thinks first of his country and then of himself.
Make it a rule never to leave waste paper about—either bring it away or bury it, and all remains of food, such as orange peel, egg shells, &c., &c. In New York if anyone is seen to throw away a scrap of waste paper in the street he is at once spoken to by the police and made to pick it up.
Never cut your name or initials on anything—turf, wood or stone—or deface anything by writing on it.
Many beautiful places and grounds hitherto left open have been closed because of the bad behaviour in these ways of a few persons. Take care you are never among these few.
There are many places open to the public such as properties of the National Trust, Mountains, Lakes, Parks and Commons; you as one of the public should help to protect them. Boys and girls can do this, as well as grown-up people.
Keswick, July, 1916. H.D.R.
(Parents’ Review, XXIX (July 1918), 501-502)