know an arbor-vitae from a pine,—he doesn't know anything.
When Ben grows up to maturity, bearing such terrible definitions in his unshrinking hands, which of us will be safe?
The softer aspects of Nature, especially, require time and culture before man can enjoy them.
To rude races her processes bring only terror, which is very slowly outgrown.
Humboldt has best exhibited the scantiness of finer natural perceptions in Greek and Roman literature, in spite of the grand oceanic rhythm of Homer, and the delicate water-coloring of the Greek Anthology and of Horace.
The Oriental and the Norse sacred books are full of fresh and beautiful allusions; but the Greek saw in Nature only a framework for Art, and the Roman only a camping-ground for men. Even Virgil describes the grotto of Aeneas merely as a black grove with horrid shade,—Horrenti atrum nemus imminet umbra.
Wordsworth points out, that, even in English literature, the Windsor Forest of Anne, Countess of Winchelsea, was the fi
more personal acquaintance with the woods than was exhibited by the preacher.
But the preachers are not much worse than the authors.
The prosaic Buckle, indeed, admits that the poets have in all time been consummate observers, and that their observations have been as valuable as those of the men of science; and yet we look even to the poets for very casual and occasional glimpses of Nature only, not for any continuous reflection of her glory.
Thus, Chaucer is perfumed with early spring; Homer resounds like the sea; in the Greek Anthology the sun always shines on the fisherman's cottage by the beach; we associate the Vishnu Purana with lakes and lotuses, Keats with nightingales in forest dim, while the long grass waving on the lonely heath is the last memorial of the fading fame of Ossian.
Of course Shakespeare's omniscience included all natural phenomena; but the rest, great or small, associate themselves with some special aspects, and not with the daily atmosphere.
Coming to o