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as if there were social equality between them; and, whether there was thought of a vote or not, the bearing of the politician was courtesy itself. I have long known a college president, a man of profound research, whose spirit was, and is, as knightly as ever a Sidney's at Zutphen. Noblesse oblige the dying nobleman, out of the wealth of his cultured and magnanimous spirit, would be the gentle knight to the last. Noblesse oblige: It is the evenness and sweetness of character which the highest culture gives. To the sweetness add helpfulness, and it is Sir Galahad, pure and brave, attaining the Sau-greal. It is of the loveliest spirit earth ever knew, on whose dying ears the reproach fell transformed"He saved others; himself he cannot save!"
Again we say, who should possess the spirit of noblesse oblige like the teacher? What is the measure of his power over forming character? How far reaches his influence upon human life, in the up-lift of humanity through the enormous stretch of ages? Tell me of the value of the primary teacher, whose services I can neither properly estimate nor adequately praise. The college professor is known; and the principal of the academy is known. The primary teacher has her reward—in the reduction of salary! Noblesse oblige for the primary teacher. whose faithful work reminds one of the perfect finish upon the bases of the columns in the Cathedral of Milan, as, beneath the floor, down, out of sight, they stand in darkness and forgetfulness, but as beautiful and as elaborately finished as are the shafts and capitals which they support, standing in light and the presence of the worshiping host. The foundation of character is made or marred by the primary teacher, laboring where now little enough honor is won, but whose inestimable value is more and more clearly seen.
Those cathedral column bases, elaborately finished, down, out of sight, or where they seldom would be seen, show the high devotion to Art, which lovingly adorned every detail. Happy the people where the primary teacher does her work dutifully, with supreme devotion. As ever was the old noblesse of France, she is a giver-the noble obliges. The chief end of a woman's life is not to get married. There is no beauty queenlier than that of culture, with sweetness of character. This for the primary teacher; and the poor, naked school-room, will take on some touches of the ruling spirit, and the paths of elementary instruction, commonly so barren to the child's sensibility, will, at least occasionally, lead by the pleasant slopes of diversified illustration, where the treasures of nature and literature illumine the meaning of words, and stimulate curiosity to know more.
We have not gone very far in either culture or limitation. We have not made those important specifications of culture-mental, æsthetic, and religious. The first six years of childhood belong to home culture. For those six years, the word of God, the book of nature, and the mother's voice, are worthiest teachers. Seven years out of doors for our girls, are hardly too many under the nerve-exciting and dry climatic influences of this new world. Their ardent natures will quickly supplement, by study in school, the taste for reading which they ought to form at home. Not too early should school-life begin; for the child needs physical development. Not too early; for the child needs to learn, apart from books, a little wholesome common sense.
Permit the suggestion, if any of us be limited by the number of years, barren years, already past-but the fortieth year of seventy have found us loyally working-if we are limited by lack of reading, or by desul
tory reading-so often profitless-and our resources are neither fresh nor varied; if our manners, the heritage of early deficiencies, be also an impediment; there is still the sweetness of character, the courtesy, the helpfulness, the self-forgetfulness, which I would write beneath these words-Noblesse Oblige. John, the blind King of Bohemia, could do little for his ally on the woeful day of Crecy. This he could do-he would not flee. With a knight at either side, he rode straight into the fray to his death, and made his blindness an adjunct of chivalric heroism.
I mind me of the old red school-house at the cross-roads of the district; of its restless inmates, the droning lesson, and the inhuman discipline. Oh! that instead of the utterly profitless grammar and arithmetic, the little child had been taught to read an English history and a Latin fable! How have I overheard my friend, Professor Sisson, explaining a lesson in mathematics, and I almost wished myself back again a boy at school, with some such qualified and inspired teacher to tell me the meaning of terms.
The spirit of the teacher lives in the child. A courteous teacher-the noble obliging-is a boon to humanity. A self-forgetful teacher-how many have we known? The power of a courteous teacher by example and influence-who shall tell us that? But, if we have not these, the consciousness of our own limitations may lead us to inspire another to learn that youth is the seed-time of culture, whose end is sweetness and ripeness of character.
My friend, Dr. Stifler, was sitting in his study, and his little boy, two or three years old, toddled in, and said he wanted to write, too. And so, the little fellow filled a page with lines and marks, which you and I would say were meaningless. But, within a day, the busy feet were still, and the little hands were cold in death. Ever since, those scribbled lines have been in that home eloquent and priceless.
We, too, dear friends, have taken what work our hands have found to do, and we have made a scribbled and blotted page. But, when heart and brain are still, the Great Father of us all will look upon our childish lines, and, mayhap, he will not think them altogether meaningless.
THE USES AND RELATIONS OF THE STUDY OF BOTANY.
By Principal M. A. VEEDER, Ives Seminary, Antwerp.
You will observe that the subject as stated above has been somewhat narrowed from that given in some of the printed programmes. I desire to speak especially, though not exclusively, of the educational value of the study of Botany. It is proper to say that this essay makes no pretention to completeness or rhetorical finish, but consists rather of somewhat detached thoughts that have been jotted down from time to time. But, then, according to Goethe, "Eloquence does not teach." If the style is not highly wrought, the ideas may not be found altogether without suggestiveness.
We are to concern ourselves at present not so much with the methods and means of studying Botany, as with its uses, relations and importance. As to botanical portfolios, microscopes, systems of instruction, and plant records are not these duly chronicled in the advertising pages of the periodical press, and in the text-books on the subject "to be had at all book stores?" There are not so many questions to be answered with regard to these points, as there are with regard to the worth of the study itself. What are its advantages? What place does it hold among the means of promoting culture? What are its relations to other branches of knowledge? We apprehend that its value has not been sufficiently appreciated, although it has been studied from the earliest times. We read that Solomon, nearly 3,000 years ago, "spake of trees from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall. And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon." In speaking of the applications which may be made of a knowledge of Botany, we need not spend very much time upon those which are generally recognized. Every one sees at a glance its value in horticulture and in promoting improved methods of gardening. Many of the most delicious and wholesome fruits for the use of man have been developed from sources apparently the most unpromising, through careful culture and a thorough knowledge of the habits of plants. The delicate and crisp celery, for instance, came originally from the coarse and unpalatable smellage; the luscious peach from the juiceless, dry and bitter fruit of a tree that thrives in Persia. The uses of the study in this direction are so apparent that we cannot, but feel that there is not so very much exaggeration after all in Dean Swift's oft-quoted sentiment found in Gulliver's Travels: "And he gave it for his opinion, that whoever could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind and do more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together."
Likewise we pass by with the barest possible mention the relations of this study to the science of medicine and to some of the arts-as, for example, that of dyeing. It is evident that a complete classification of plants involves a knowledge of their curative and other valuable properties. These uses of the study belong rather to its application to particular trades or professions, and are not sought for by the student whose object is to secure what is commonly termed a liberal education. For such an
one it has its benefits, but they are of a different sort-intellectual, moral and spiritual.
In the first place, it leads the mind to the study of things rather than words. Says Johnson: "Words are men's daughters, but God's sons are things." It does this naturally, affording a natural system of object lessons, without that artificiality that sometimes attends the use of the Pestalozzian system of improving the mind. Moreover, it may be studied anywhere and cultivates habits of observation and independent research that are of immense value.
Again, it promotes intellectual improvement by enriching the imagination and enlarging our vocabulary. The names of flowers, their odors and colors, for the most part, have so many pleasant associations that their accurate and intelligent use charms the ear. Were there time and space, we might introduce many illustrations of this, particularly from the writings of the Lake School of poets, who excel in their appreciation of nature in all her moods.
Association with flowers influences not only the reader but the writer, improving the taste and originating poetic thought and feelings. Many curious illustrations of this are to be found in the simple and unaffected utterances of the poet-naturalist, Thoreau. There are many parts of his chapter on "Autumnal Tints" which we would like to quote; we must be content, however, with a single paragraph, which, standing by itself, gives a very inadequate conception of the vein of pleasing sentiment of which it forms a part. His words are as follows: "Think what refuge there is for one, before August is over, from college commencements and society that isolates! I can skulk among the tufts of purple wood-grass on the border of the Great Fields. Wherever I walk these afternocns, the purple-fingered grass also stands like a guide-board, and points my thoughts to more poetic paths than they have lately traveled."
The study of Botany is not necessarily, then, dry and pedantic, although it may be made very much so, as in the case where Wordsworth speaks of
"One that would peep, and botanize
On his mother's grave."
Some of the happiest and most graceful allusions in the whole realm of poetry are suggested by flowers. Watts, speaking of early offerings, says:
"A flower when offered in the bud
Is no vain sacrifice."
Heber abounds in allusions of a similar kind. Who has not felt the beauty of the hymn
or the line
"By cool Siloam's shady rill
How sweet the lily grows?"
"When Spring unlocks the flowers to paint the laughing soil?" Even Johnson, in his moralizing, does no forget the flowers:
"Catch, then, O catch the transient hour,
But it may be that some one objects that all this is aside from the mark-that poetry and science are inconsistent-that there may be fondness for flowers without a knowledge of Botany. Huxley, for example, it is said, could see no beauty in the full harvest moon-only a pile of
rugged rocks. With him, if this be true, science killed rather than refined poetry. We acknowledge that the excessive employment of the analytic faculty is at the expense of the imagination. But has the imagination or fancy therefore no place left for it-is it utterly without value? J. Stuart Mill passed through a period of aridness from which he states that he found relief only when his imagination was powerfully stirred in reading Marmontel's Memoir. So Fred Robertson found relief from a similar experience in the writings of Ruskin, a writer who seeks especially to enrich and fructify the imagination and promote communion with nature. The pedant, the book-worm expends his energy in picking up seed-thoughts until with him thought, teeling and fancy are all gone to seed.
We repeat it that Botany, and for that matter the study of Natural History generally, may be so pursued as not to be dry but vastly refreshing and reinvigorating, particularly in certain states of the mind to which the student is exposed in these days of cramming and prosing. It may be studied in the open air accompanied by pleasant exercise and surrounded with beauty and fragrance. Walks through thickets and fields gratify a certain taste for wildness which we all have felt. The discovery of a new flower is like opening the pages of a new book; when we have made it our own, it is a victory. We have compelled nature to divulge a secret. The enjoyment of it is like hunting or fishing, with the difference that it involves no cruelty. It is in truth a gentle pursuit. The lover of
"Meek Walton's heavenly memory"
cannot avoid a sense of compunction as he takes the life of the harmless fishes, but the enthusiastic botanist is disturbed by no uncomfortable thought that he is inflicting pain, or that his pleasure is at the expense of another's suffering.
We have spoken of Ruskin; it may be proper to introduce here a quotation from his writings which show how vividly his imagination grasped the splendors of natural scenery, and how his language was enriched by it. Nothing escapes his eye or fails to find expression in his flexible and brilliant prose. The following is the passage: "Not long ago I was slowly descending the first turn after you leave Albano. It had been wild weather when I left Rome, and all across the Campagna the clouds were sweeping in sulphurous blue. But as I climbed the long slope of the Alban mount, the storm swept finally to the North, and the noble outlines of the domes of Albano and graceful darkness of its ilex groves rose against pure streaks of alternate blue and amber; the upper sky gradually flashing through the last fragments of rain cloud in deep palpitating azure, half ether and half dew. The noon-day sun came slanting down the rocky slopes of La Riccia, and its masses of entangled and tall foliage, whose autumnal tints were mixed with the wet verdure of a thousand evergreens, were penetrated with it as with rain. I cannot call it color; it was conflagration, purple and crimson and scarlet, like the curtains of God's tabernacle. The rejoicing trees sank into the valley in showers of light, every separate leaf quivering with buoyance and life, each as it turned to reflect or transmit the sunbeam, first a torch and then an emerald. Far up into the recesses of the valley, the green vistas arched like the hollows of mighty waves of some crystalline sea; with the arbutus flowers clasped along their flanks for foam, and silver flakes of orange flower-like spray tossed into the air around them fading [CONVOCATION, SIG. 6.]