S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
I invariably experience a variety of sensations when I survey the heavens on a calm, clear night, about the end of the month of May. I can then inhale the sweets of the woodbine and other flowers, whose fragrance is drawn out by the gentle dews of evening. The nightingale breaks the silence by his sweet and varied notes; and the full moon walking in brightness, and rendered still more beautiful by the lustre of so many shining stars, which appear in the wide-extended firmament, completes the loveliness of this nocturnal scene. Then I begin to reflect upon my own insignificance, and to ask myself what I am, that the great Author of the universe should be mindful of me. His mercy, however, then presents itself to me, as well as His majesty, and the former affects me more than the latter. I listen to the bird which appears to be pouring forth his little tribute of gratitude and praise, and my heart prompts me to do the same. The very perfume of the flowers seems to be an incense ascending up to heaven; and with these feelings I am able to enjoy the calm tranquillity of the evening.
The cultivation of flowers is of all the amusements of mankind the one to be selected and approved as the most innocent in itself, and most perfectly devoid of injury or annoyance to others: the employment is not only conducive to health and peace of mind, but probably more good will has arisen, and friendship been founded, by the intercourse and communication connected with this pursuit, than from any other whatsoever. The pleasures, the ecstasies, of the horticulturist are harmless and pure; a streak, a tint, a shade, becomes his triumph, which, though often obtained by chance, are secured alone by morning care, by evening caution, and the vigilance of days; an employ which, in its various grades, excludes neither the opulent nor the indigent, and, teeming with boundless variety, affords an unceasing excitement to emulation, without contention or ill will.
The road to home happiness lies over small stepping-stones. Slight circumstances are the stumbling-blocks of families. The prick of a pin, says the proverb, is enough to make an empire insipid. The tenderer the feelings, the painfuller the wound. A cold, unkind word checks and withers the blossom of the dearest love, as the most delicate rings of the vine are troubled by the faintest breeze. The misery of a life is born of a chance observation. If the true history of quarrels, public and private, were honestly written, it would be silenced with an uproar of derision.
I am persuaded that the more we inquire and search into the economy of Nature, so far from finding any defects, we shall have more and more reason to be convinced that not only every bird, but every animal, from the highest to the lowest in the scale of creation, is equally well adapted for the purpose for which it is intended. The chief object of a naturalist should be always to look through Nature up to Natures God; and if we do so with a sincere desire to be benefited by the survey, we shall have fresh cause for wonder and admiration, and find our minds more fitted to receive the good impressions which such a study must produce.