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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Irene E. Jerome., In a fair country, April days (search)
the parlor had been saying that somebody else was an idiot. Don't you know? quoth Ben, in his sweet voice: an idiot is a person who doesn't 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
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Irene E. Jerome., In a fair country, The procession of the flowers (search)
village, where it has climbed the precipitous sides of old buildings, and nods inaccessibly from their crevices, in that picturesque spot, looking down on the hurrying river. But, with this exception, there is nothing wanting here of the familiar flowers of early summer. The more closely one studies Nature, the finer her adaptations grow. For instance, the change of seasons is analogous to a change of zones, and summer assimilates our vegetation to that of the tropics. In those lands, Humboldt has remarked, one misses the beauty of wild-flowers in the grass, because the luxuriance of vegetation develops everything into shrubs. The form and color are beautiful, but, being too high above the soil, they disturb that harmonious proportion which characterizes the plants of our European meadows. Nature has, in every zone, stamped on the landscape the peculiar type of beauty proper to the locality. But every midsummer reveals the same tendency. In early spring, when all is bare, and