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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.

Page 356

may not be competent to speak of current social or political problems, so a man who has done capital work as a tourist observer in little-visited cities and along remote highwys must beware of regarding himself as being thereby rendered fit for genuine wilderness work or competent to pass judgment on the men who do such work. To cross the Andes on mule-back along the regular routes is a feat comparable to the feats of the energetic tourists who by thousands traverse the mule trails in out-of-the-way nooks of Switzerland. An ordinary trip on the highway portions of the Amazon, Paraguay, or Orinoco in itself no more qualifies a man to speak of or to take part in exploring unknown South American rivers than a trip on the lower Saint Lawrence qualifies a man to regard himself as an expert in a canoe voyage across Labrador or the Barren Grounds west of Hudson Bay.
  A hundred years ago, even seventy or eighty years ago, before the age of steamboats and railroads, it was more difficult than at present to define the limits between this class and the next; and, moreover, in defining these limits I emphatically disclaim any intention of thereby attempting to establish a single standard of value for books of travel. Darwin’s “Voyage of the Beagle” is to me the best book of the kind ever written; it is one of those classics which decline to go into artificial categories, and which stand by themselves; and yet Darwin, with his usual modesty, spoke of it as in effect a yachting voyage. Humboldt’s work had a profound effect on the thought of the civilized world; his trip was one of adventure and danger; and yet it can hardly be called exploration proper.