Introductory - Chapter 1 The Country of Mansoul

The Riches of Mansoul.––"Do ye not like fair londes?" says King Alfred; and he answers himself: "Why should I not like fair londes? They are the fairest part of God's creation." And of all the fair lands which God has made, there is no country more fair than the Kingdom of Mansoul.

The soil is, almost everywhere, very fertile, and where it is cultivated there are meadows, corn-fields, and orchards with all manner of fruit. There are, too, wild nooks, with rippling streams bordered by forget-me-nots and king-cups, places where the birds nest and sing. There are hazel copses where you may gather nuts, and there are forests with mighty trees. There are wildernesses, too, marshy and unlovely, but these only wait for good and industrious hands to reclaim them and make them as fertile as the rest of the country. Deep under the surface lie beds of fuel to be had for the working, so that in that land there need never be a cold hearth-stone. There are many other mines, too, where diligent workers find, not only useful and necessary metals like copper and iron, but also silver and gold and very precious stones. When the workers are weary they may rest for there are trees for shade and shelter, and pleasant playfields. And you may hear the laughter of the children, and see them at their sports.

The Rivers and Cities.––There are rivers, broad and deep, good to bathe in and to swim in, and also good to bear the ships which carry those things produced by Mansoul to other countries far and near. Upon these rivers, too, sail the ships of many lands, bringing passengers and goods. There are busy cities in Mansoul; and these, also, are pleasant places; because though there are factories where men work and make all manner of things for home use or to be sent abroad, there are also fair and beautiful buildings, palaces of delight, where are gathered the treasures of Mansoul––galleries of precious and beautiful pictures painted by the great artists of all countries, statues of the heroes that are had in reverence there, halls with organs of noble tone which can roar like the thunder and babble like a child, and all manner of musical instruments. To these halls great musicians come and play wonderful things that they have made; the people of Mansoul listen, and great thoughts swell in them, and everyone feels as if he could get up and go and be a hero.

Its Books and Playgrounds.––There are libraries, too––such libraries! containing every book of delight that ever was written. When anybody sits down to read, the author who made the book comes and leans over his shoulder and talks to him. I forgot to say that in the picture-galleries the old painters do the same thing; they come and say what they meant by it all.

There is no city in Mansoul so built up but there is plenty of space for parks and cricket-grounds, playing-fields and places where people meet and are merry, dance and sing. Nobody need be poor in Mansoul; and if anybody is poor, neglected, and stunted, it is for a reason which we shall consider by and by.

Its Churches and its Delectable Mountains.––The best treasures of the country are kept in the fairest of its buildings, in its churches, which are always open, so that people may go in and out many times a day to talk with God, and He comes and speaks with them. But, indeed, He walks about everywhere in the land, in the workshops, in the picture-galleries, and in the fields; people consult Him about everything, little things and great, and He advises about them all.

Much remains to be said about Mansoul, but I think I have left out the chief thing––the 'Delectable Mountains,' where people go that they may breathe mountain air, gather the lovely mountain flowers, and brace their limbs and their lungs with the toilsome delight of climbing. From the top, they get a view that makes them solemnly glad; they see a good deal of Mansoul, and they see the borders of the land that is very far off. They see a good deal of Mansoul, but they cannot see it all, for a curious thing is, that no map has been made of the country, because a great deal of it is unexplored, and men have not discovered its boundaries. This is exciting and delightful to the people, because, though here and there Mansoul is touched by another such country as itself, there are everywhere reaches which no man has seen, regions of country which may be rich and beautiful.