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conclude it better to corrupt than to refuse them. But they who dread sorrow less than sin, and would rather choose it on their own behalf, feeling for others as for themselves, may find, I think, in this argument, something to make weight against the pleadings of mere humanity, without reference to the will of God.
Humility, the fairest, loveliest flower
In early spring—in that animated month, when all things return to life, but that which returns to it never ; when all revives and lives again, and blossoms again, and enjoys again, except that which blooms but once, and fades but once, and returns to its delights no more; when every thing is gay, but the heart whose wintry blighting seems but the sadder, amid the budding of surrounding joy :-in the morning of such a spring, I was walking by the side of a stream. A thousand thousand flowers were on its banks, and the brightest of sunbeams on its waters. Attracted by some blossoms half hidden in the osiers, many a time I stooped in eager anticipation of finding something new : or, deceived by distance, ventured the unsteady footing of the bank, to reach what seemed an unknown plant. When attained, they proved no other than the flowers of every meadow, and of every spring, a thousand times gathered and despised. They could blow again, and be beautiful again ; but they could not bring again the eager animation with which curiosity examined
them at first, or the delight with which the eye of taste dwelt first upon their charms. Norit is this impossibility of renewing foregone pleasures, this necessity of proceeding, that makes the circle of the returning year so dissonant sometimes to the feelings of humanity, when long and deeply tried, and experienced like him of old, in the insufficiency of this world's pleasures and pursuits.
Thus was I thinking, when interrupted by the approach of one, whom from the little tin box, and the look of research, I perceived to be a botanist also. He scarcely approached me, when opening his box with carefulness, “ If you are a botanist," he said, “ I have something worth your seeing.” The treasure was soon exhibited. It was a flower, or, as the unlearned would have said, a weed of extreme rarity. Botanical registers had described its parts and properties; there were circumstances in its formation extremely curious, and peculiar to itself: but as they are curious only to the scientific, I need not particularly describe them. This plant had been rarely found: there was no beauty in it to an untaught eye; but having heard of it as a rarity, and of the extraordinary formation of its parts, to me it had all the charm of novelty and curiosity. Pleased with my animated participation in his triumph, the botanist generously offered me a share of the booty, which I transferred with no small
from his box to my own.
It was enough: I sought to more that day. Returning homeward in all the pride of possession, I opened the box to every body I met, and called at every house in which I was acquainted, to exhibit this wonder of wonders. Alas! for the vanity of human expectations ! The first person I saw was a lady, whose staircase was scarcely navigable for the
baskets of exotics that jammed the turnings ; whose windows could not be opened, lest it should blight the orange-flowers, nor her doors shut, lest it should stifle the geraniums. With utter scorn she looked upon my withered weed. Grown in a ditch, and grown in our own country too; of what value on earth could that be? In vain I told the rarity of the plant, and the difficulty of finding it. She wondered, for her part, why any one should wish to find it. The next person I saw was a gentleman, who expended an income of many hundreds upon his gardens and flowers. His ultimate of happiness was to have the greatest variety of roses, or produce the newest specimen of geranium. To him as much in vain I displayed my proud possession; described in terms of science its secret properties, and descanted on the wisdom of creation, in the curious adaptation to their use, of parts almost too minute for human observation. He answered me with the greater wonders of his own creation; the strange results of certain grafts and intermixtures; medals and prizes from the Horticultural Society—camillias as big as a cabbage, and roses as black as a sloeberry. He did not so much as drop his eye upon my weed. Hope lived again when I got sight of a naturalista man of science; a man who had studied Linnæus from his youth up, and published treatises upon every thing. Well has the wise man said, “ Pride goes before a fall.”. While I was getting up my generosity to offer him a part, the naturalist took my flower, twisted it between his fingers, looked at it through his glass, and carelessly returning it to the box, said he did not believe it was the plant we took it for.
There is a flower-heaven's garlands are woven of its leaves, and its blossoms are twined through
the crowns of immortality. It is not a native of earth. It was planted in Paradise, and withered even there. Once only, in its perfectness of beauty, it came within the reach of mortal man; blossomed, dropped a seed, and disappeared. The transcript of its characters remains; the outward form, the secret properties, are faithfully recorded: men talked of its beauties and its worth : but where is the residue of its growth on earth? Who finds it, who values it, who knows it, when they see it?
What is Humility? I asked the question, but paused awhile to listen and meditate before I could answer it. I heard little that could help me in the task, often as I heard the word. From one end of society to the other, I heard men charge each other with the want of it; but the praise of it fell nowhere—unless on some who give it to themselves. The sensual and the wise, standing ever well with themselves, nothing misgiving of their ruined state, unconscious of their corruption, satisfied with themselves and their deservings, in spite of all that Heaven has denounced against them, charge the want of Humility on all religious people in the mass, because they profess to have a better portion and a fairer hope. Some of every sect and party of religion charge the same fault upon their opponents, for pretending to superior light and knowledge. Individuals, brethren of one house, members of one body, cry the same unceasing cry;
and whether like David between the armies of Israel and Philistia, the bold and gifted servant of the Lord stands out distinguished and alone, the taunt, the wonder and the pride, of surrounding multitudes; or whether, like John in Patmos, cast out and banished from the world, the devoted spirit lives alone with God, in elevated communion with the things