Plea for help:
The snatch (above) is all I’ve remembered hearing the emotional and poetic quotation on TV in the end of one French documentary about Nikolai Przhevalsky. If anyone has a source where the full phrase could be found, please let me know.
Below, there are several excerpts from his Notes and Diaries which are web-accessible to me and which are notes of an explorer and scientist mainly, from which I simply snatched some emotional digressions whose theme is the same as that of the firs quotation (above) that is Freedom.
The famous explorer Nikolai Przhevalsky (1839-1888), who had been a national hero by his death day, always went for his expeditions (financed by the national government) being attended by detachment of soldiers (Cossacks) and his young lover, an army-officer who was assigned as a guard commander and who was of Przhevalsky’s own choice. (See: “Dream of Lhasa: The Life of Nikolay Przhevalsky (1839-88 Explorer of Central Asia)”, by Donald Rayfield.) The Russian Emperor himself was aware of NP's sexual taste and left the choice of the enrollment and assignment to NP.
Nan-Shan. Summer, 1879.
“…Meanwhile, the hunter gradually has ascended nearly up to the eternal snows. The glorious view of the morning sun lit mountains spreads underneath his feet. Both the yaks and naurs are forgotten for the time being. All eyes, you are engulfed with the magnificent view. Your heart is light and free, on this height, on this staircase to heaven, as you are face to face the grandiose nature, far from all the worldly vanity and filth. At least for minutes, you become a true spiritual thing, separated from the mundane petty thoughts and wishes…”
Ussuri krai. 1867-1869.
“The final act of my stay at Ussuri krai was the expedition in summer 1869, in the western and southern part of the Khanka Lake basin, in search of new roads, by water as well as by land.
For three months, I have traveled over the forests, mountains and valleys, sometimes by water, and I’ll never forget the time spent among the wild virgin nature that breathed with all the charm of the springtime and summer life. It was often that a day long I had not other abode than the sky above, other furniture than the fresh verdure and flowers, not hearing other sounds than the birds’ singing that enlivened the meadows, marshlands and forests.”
“Those were wondrous charming days, full of freedom and pleasures! Often, so often I recall the life now, and I can say that every man, who’s ever tasted the freedom of wilderness, cannot forget of it afterwards even living a most comfortable life…”
“…Walking a little more, I paused and began watching the view before my eyes, seeking to engrave it upon my memory. Impressions and images began flashing in my mind… Two years of the life of a wanderer had glided like a night dream full of wonderful visions… Khanka, farewell! Ussuri krai, farewell! Maybe I’ll never see your endless forests, magnificent waters and your rich virgin nature again, but I’ll always be recalling your name and the happy days of the free wandering life.”
from "Mystery of Lop (Nur) Lake". 1878, March 31.
“From Kenderlyk we went to the Zaisan outpost in order to go to Petersburg from there. Camels and the expedition inventory remain keeping in Zaisan. I have plans to return here in the following springtime, and then, with new strength and luck, to start the next expedition.”
“I’m 39 today, and the day is celebrated by the ending of the expedition, though not so triumphant as my previous travel over Mongolia. By now, the work has done only half: Lop Lake is explored, but Tibet remains unexplored. For the fourth time I’ve not been able to reach it: for the first time it was when I returned from Blue River; then--from Lop Lake; for the third time--from Ghu-Chen; finally, for the fourth time, the expedition has been stopped in the beginning.
But I don’t give up! Next springtime, as soon as my health is all right again, I shall set out again.”
“Although the stoppage of the work is not my fault and I realize that it is the best under the current circumstances and with the state of my health, but I feel sad going back. The day long before, I was not quite myself and even weeping. Even my upcoming return to my estate doesn’t gladden too much.
True, life of a traveler has many adversities, but it gives so many happy moments, unforgettable for ever.
The absolute freedom and business to your liking, that’s the beauty of travels. Travelers never forget their hard work time afterwards, even when they use the best and most comfortable advantages of civilized life.
And now, farewell, my happy life, but not for long! The year will pass, the misunderstandings with China will be settled, my health will be all right again, and then I shall take my staff of wanderer again, and again I shall go to the Asian wilderness.”
(translation is mine.)
It’s not over. It’ll never be over... :)