When I reflect that one man, armed only with his own physical and moral resources, was able to cause this land of Canaan to spring from the wasteland, I am convinced that in spite of everything, humanity is admirable. But when I compute the unfailing greatness of spirit and the tenacity of benevolence that it must have taken to achieve this result, I am taken with an immense respect for that old and unlearned peasant who was able to complete a work worthy of God. [A heartwarming story about the impact of one man, Elzeard Bonfire, who planted trees from 1900-1946, in the area where the Alps thrust down into Province, France.]
Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation. . . . Tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.
Blessed be the inventor of photography! It has given more positive pleasure to poor suffering humanity than anything else that has "cast up" in my time - this art by which even the "poor" can possess themselves of tolerable of their absent dear ones.
Jane Baillie Welsh Carlyle (1801 - 1866)
Source: Letter, 21 Oct 1859; in The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle, 1970.