In certain ways the tourist uprooter is the more difficult and delicate element to deal with in the whole problem; but the Society has, by the 'sweet reasonableness' of its moral persuasion, arrived at a very fair and effective solution. Much as comes a guest comes the tourist to the Alps, and his coming is one of the main sources of the country's prosperity. His peccadilloes are for the most part overlooked, and he enjoys a freedom such as is scarcely his at home. This, generally speaking, is, of course, the case with non-residents or visitors anywhere; but in Switzerland it is, perhaps, particularly marked. Not infrequently, however, his special privileges are lost upon the tourist, and he forthwith helps himself to still more freedom. He must not be surprised, then, if he is met with framed and reasonable restrictions; he must not be vexed if, in his hotel or pension, he finds an Avis aux Touristes exhorting him in formal terms to allow the flora to bide where it is. He should not feel this to be an attack upon his liberty.
Ah, ' there's the rub !' - there, in that little word 'liberty,' lies largely the root of the matter. Alike for Swiss and for foreigner; alike for collector, peasant, and tourist, this word holds the key to the greater part of the necessity for the protection of Alpine plants. It is the old, old story: men mouth the word, but miss its finest flavour. Irresistibly one is reminded of certain of Juste Olivier's well-known lines:
'Vraiment, quel sujet de satire! Alors qu'on voit tout un peuple en delire Qui se dit libre. . . .'
It is the old, old story: the story that has caused jungle, 'park,' and forest to be set aside for the fauna of India, America, and Africa; that has necessitated a close time for birds; that has required a protective cordon to be drawn around the Matter-horn; and that has made it imperative to create 'jardins-refuges' for the flowers of the Alps - the old, old story of licence being supposed to spell liberty. If certain of the public think that liberty is menaced by the Ligue Suisse, it is from a faulty comprehension of the word's best meaning. The Society makes no attack upon liberty. Why, 'Liberty's in every blow!' Every blow dealt by the movement is dealt on the side of healthy enjoyment and delight; every blow, therefore, is dealt on the side of one of the prime elements in true liberty. If the Society deals blows at anything, it is at licence. It battles for law and order, and its battles are on the side of the angels - on the side of the veriest of platitudes: 'Without law and order, there is no true liberty.' To allow the individualist's reading of the word would be to allow freedom to clash with liberty; egotistical individualism in freedom is only too apt to be one of Liberty's direst enemies. Mr. Dooley, with his usual quaint acumen, says: 'A man can't be indipindint onless he has a boss'; and in this present case the necessary boss is the Ligue. Without it we should continue to have such freedom as would extinguish the Edelweiss around Zermatt as it has extinguished the Chamois around Chamounix.
Men for ages have been singing hymns to Liberty in the Alps of Switzerland, but never before, probably, have they sung to finer effect than since the Society for the Protection of Plants took the field and spread additional light. Liberty has received a larger, wider meaning, and never has hymn been sung with truer significance than to-day is Eugene Rambert's inspiring song, 'Les Alpes':
'Voici la cime altiere,
Au front audacieux, D'ou l'aigle temeraire
Va visiter les cieux. O celestes campagnes!
Nature! immensite! Chantons sur nos montagnes,
Chantons la liberte!1