I suppose most of the readers of this little volume have been in the country the past summer. As you beheld the green grass, the fine spreading trees, and the beautiful flowers that sprang up in your pathway, perhaps the feeling came over you that you could be far happier in the country than in the city. We are very apt to suppose that change of place will produce a more delightful state of feeling; forgetting that in a little time we should become familiar with all these objects, and then we return again to our former selves.
Precisely so it is with children in the country. They come to this busy city, and eagerly gaze at the varied shows which attract the eye, and would prefer to exchange situations with you; but by and by they become wearied with sightseeing, and the home they have left rises before them as a pleasanter abode than any other dwelling, however rich or elegant. Thus they learn to be happy at home; and this is a most valuable attainment.
But, in order to be permanently happy, we must have something to do. There are other lessons to be learned besides those we commit in the schoolroom. The whole world, indeed, is a school, and we are daily committing our tasks. These teachings are preparations for our future happiness.
You have all noticed the growth of a tree. At first, only a little twig springs out of the ground. And so with the flower. You deposit only a tiny seed; but in a little time a shoot springs up, and by natural but slow processes the twig becomes a large shady tree, and the shoot a beautiful blooming flower. Though they grow very slowly, yet they never rest. Day and night the hidden processes are going on which help to promote their growth. Just so it is with the minds of children. They are daily acquiring those habits which will eventually make the whole sum of their characters. But then, great care is requisite how they form these characters; that they may spring up in fair proportions, making their possessors worthy members of society.
I will illustrate this by a fable, which occurred to me as I walked over the beautiful garden of a friend, with whom I spent a few weeks the past summer. We will suppose, for our present purpose, that the flowers have an articulate voice.
A stately dahlia grew in a cultivated garden. There were many of the same species of flowers, but no other had the peculiar variegated tints of this particular one. Every one, in passing by it, was attracted by its beauty. It seemed as if vain of flattery, although we know it had no ears to hear, for every day it seemed to increase in size and beauty. With its lofty head, it gained a supremacy above all its neighbors, and the heavy shower and furious wind failed to soil its petals or bend its graceful form.