We look back, we students of the history of sculpture, and find that the seven wonders of the world were largely swept aside for "filling;" that the glories of Pergamon and the Mausoleum, that splendid monument at Halicarnassus, and those other great things which the old races looked upon as the greatest achievements of men, were destroyed not by barbarians, but by our early Christian ancestors, for the making of lime. The Colosseum was obliterated by the Holy Fathers in the building of their medieval palaces.
Today we shudder at the destruction of a cathedral at Rheims, or the loss of a beautiful picture, like that Tiepolo in Venice. We artists think that these are losses that are almost worse than the destruction of hundreds of thousands of men, and they are, because they are the fruits of the lives of hundreds of thousands of men--they are the sum total of those lives; the heritage which they have left behind.
The only excuse that we have for living is the message that we may leave to the generations to come. If art stands for anything, it is because it binds generations of men together. The man who folds his arms and stands alone might be an animal merely. His is the life of an animal. But art lifts us above that plane, and extends forth a hand of welcome to the future.
And so I am very happy to be recorded in this matter as having a word to say for the preservation of this very beautiful spot which so appeals to the imagination. Its visions of vast open spaces; its billows of sand and their silent sentinels; the gestures of its weird trees silhouetted in the twilight, all conspire to make of it an enchanted land. By all means, let us spare no effort to conserve this wonderful place for ourselves, and for the generations to follow us.
Posted 29th June, 1999; last updated 10th July, 2001.