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So besotted and so mad,
That they cannot surely find
Where the ever-good is nigh
And true pleasures hidden lie.

Therefore, never is their strife
After those true joys to spur;
In this lean and little life
They, half-witted, deeply err
Seeking here their bliss to gain,
That is God Himself in vain.

Ah! I know not in my thought
How enough to blame their sin,
None so clearly as I ought
Can I show their fault within;
For, more bad and vain are they
And more sad than I can say.

All their hope is to acquire
Worship goods and worldly weal;
When they have their mind's desire,
Then such witless Joy they feel,
That in folly they believe
Those True Joys they then receive.

Works of Alfred the Great, Jubilee Edition (Oxford and Cambridge, 1852).


From 'Boethius'

Lo! I sting cheerily
In my bright days,
But now all wearily
Chaunt I my lays;
Sorrowing tearfully,
Saddest of men,
Can I sing cheerfully,
As I could then?

Many a verity
In those glad times
Of my prosperity
Taught I in rhymes;
Now from forgetfulness
Wanders my tongue,
Wasting in fretfulness,
Metres unsung.

Worldliness brought me here
Foolishly blind,
Riches have wrought me here
Sadness of mind;
When I rely on them,
Lo! they depart, -
Bitterly, fie on them!
Rend they my heart.
Why did your songs to me,
World-loving men,
Say joy belongs to me
Ever as then?
Why did ye lyingly
Think such a thing,
Seeing how flyingly
Wealth may take wing?

Works of Alfred the Great, Jubilee Edition (Oxford and Cambridge, 1852).



The Irish-Canadian naturalist, Charles Grant Blairfindie Allen, who
turns his industrious hand with equal facility to scientific writing, to
essays, short stories, botanical treatises, biography, and novels, is
known to literature as Grant Allen, as "Arbuthnot Wilson," and as
"Cecil Power."

His work may be divided into two classes: fiction and popular essays.
The first shows the author to be familiar with varied scenes and types,
and exhibits much feeling for dramatic situations. His list of novels is
long, and includes among others, 'Strange Stories,' 'Babylon,' 'This
Mortal Coil,' 'The Tents of Shem,' 'The Great Taboo,' 'Recalled to
Life,' 'The Woman Who Did,' and 'The British Barbarians.' In many of
these books he has woven his plots around a psychological theme; a proof
that science interests him more than invention. His essays are written
for unscientific readers, and carefully avoid all technicalities and
tedious discussions. Most persons, he says, "would much rather learn why
birds have feathers than why they have a keeled sternum, and they think
the origin of bright flowers far more attractive than the origin of
monocotyledonous seeds or esogenous stems."

Grant Allen was born in Kingston, Canada, February 24th, 1848. After
graduation at Merton College, Oxford, he occupied for four years the
chair of logic and philosophy at Queen's College, Spanish Town, Jamaica,
which he resigned to settle in England, where he now resides. Early in
his career he became an enthusiastic follower of Darwin and Herbert
Spencer, and published the attractive books entitled 'Science in
Arcady,' 'Vignettes from Nature,' 'The Evolutionist at Large,' and
'Colin Clout's Calendar.' In his preface to 'Vignettes from Nature,' he
says that the "essays are written from an easy-going, half-scientific
half-aesthetic standpoint." In this spirit he rambles in the woods, in
the meadows, at the seaside, or upon the heather-carpeted moor, finding
in such expeditions material and suggestions for his lightly moving
essays, which expound the problems of Nature according to the theories
of his acknowledged masters. A fallow deer grazing in a forest, a
wayside berry, a guelder rose, a sportive butterfly, a bed of nettles, a
falling leaf, a mountain tarn, the hole of a hedgehog, a darting
humming-bird, a ripening plum, a clover-blossom, a spray of sweet-briar,
a handful of wild thyme, or a blaze of scarlet geranium before a cottage
door, furnish him with a text for the discussion of "those biological
and cosmical doctrines which have revolutionized the thought of the
nineteenth century," as he says in substance.

Somewhat more scientific are 'Psychological Aesthetics,' 'The Color
Sense,' 'The Color of Flowers,' and 'Flowers and their Pedigrees'; and
still deeper is 'Force and Energy' (1888), a theory of dynamics in which
he expresses original views. In 'Psychological Aesthetics' (1877), he
first seeks to explain "such simple pleasures in bright color, sweet
sound, or rude pictorial imitation as delight the child and the savage,
proceeding from these elementary principles to the more and more complex
gratifications of natural scenery, painting, and poetry." In 'The Color
Sense' he defines all that we do not owe to the color sense, for example
the rainbow, the sunset, the sky, the green or purple sea, the rocks,
the foliage of trees and shrubs, hues of autumn, effects of iridescent
light, or tints of minerals and precious stones; and all that we do owe,
namely, "the beautiful flowers of the meadow and the garden-roses,
lilies, cowslips, and daisies; the exquisite pink of the apple, the
peach, the mango, and the cherry, with all the diverse artistic wealth
of oranges, strawberries, plums, melons, brambleberries, and
pomegranates; the yellow, blue, and melting green of tropical
butterflies; the magnificent plumage of the toucan, the macaw, the
cardinal-bird, the lory, and the honey-sucker; the red breast of our
homely robin; the silver or ruddy fur of the ermine, the wolverene, the
fox, the squirrel, and the chinchilla; the rosy cheeks and pink lips of
the English maiden; the whole catalogue of dyes, paints, and pigments;
and last of all, the colors of art in every age and nation, from the red
cloth of the South Seas, the lively frescoes of the Egyptian and the
subdued tones of Hellenic painters, to the stained windows of Poictiers
and the Madonna of the Sistine Chapel." Besides these books, Mr. Allen
has written for the series called 'English Worthies' a sympathetic 'Life
of Charles Darwin' (1885).


From 'The Colors of Flowers'

The different hues assumed by petals are all thus, as it were, laid up
beforehand in the tissues of the plant, ready to be brought out at a
moment's notice. And all flowers, as we know, easily sport a little in
color. But the question is, Do their changes tend to follow any regular
and definite order? Is there any reason to believe that the modification
runs from any one color toward any other? Apparently there is. The
general conclusion to be set forth in this work is the statement of such
a tendency. All flowers, it would seem, were in their earliest form
yellow; then some of them became white; after that, a few of them grew
to be red or purple; and finally, a comparatively small number acquired
various shades of lilac, mauve, violet, or blue. So that if this
principle be true, such a flower as the harebell will represent one of
the most highly developed lines of descent; and its ancestors will have
passed successively through all the intermediate stages. Let us see what
grounds can be given for such a belief.

Some hints of a progressive law in the direction of a color-change from
yellow to blue are sometimes afforded to us even by the successive
stages of a single flower. For example, one of our common little English
forget-me-nots, _Myosotis versicolor_, is pale yellow when it first
opens; but as it grows older, it becomes faintly pinkish, and ends by
being blue, like the others of its race. Now, this sort of color-change
is by no means uncommon; and in almost all known cases it is always in
the same direction, from yellow or white, through pink, orange, or red,
to purple or blue. For example, one of the wall-flowers, _Cheiranthus
chamoeleo_, has at first a whitish flower, then a citron-yellow, and
finally emerges into red or violet. The petals of _Stytidium
fructicosum_ are pale yellow to begin with, and afterward become light
rose-colored. An evening primrose, _Oenothera tetraptera_, has white
flowers in its first stage, and red ones at a later period of
development. _Cobea scandens_ goes from white to violet; _Hibiscus
mutabilis_ from white through flesh-colored to red. The common Virginia
stock of our gardens _(Malcolmia)_ often opens of a pale yellowish
green, then becomes faintly pink; afterward deepens into bright red; and
fades away at the last into mauve or blue. Fritz Müller's _Lantana_ is
yellow on its first day, orange on its second, and purple on the third.
The whole family of _Boraginaceae_ begin by being pink and end with
being blue. The garden convolvulus opens a blushing white and passes
into full purple. In all these and many other cases the general
direction of the changes is the same. They are usually set down as due
to varying degrees of oxidation in the pigmentary matter. If this be so,
there is a good reason why bees should be specially fond of blue, and
why blue flowers should be specially adapted for fertilization by their
aid. For Mr. A.R. Wallace has shown that color is most apt to appear or
to vary in those parts of plants or animals which have undergone the
highest amount of modification. The markings of the peacock and the
argus pheasant come out upon their immensely developed secondary
tail-feathers or wing-plumes; the metallic hues of sun-birds, or
humming-birds, show themselves upon their highly specialized crests,
gorgets, or lappets. It is the same with the hackles of fowls, the head
ornaments of fruit-pigeons, and the bills of toucans. The most exquisite
colors in the insect world are those which are developed on the greatly
expanded and delicately feathered wings of butterflies; and the
eye-spots which adorn a few species are usually found on their very
highly modified swallow-tail appendages. So too with flowers: those
which have undergone most modification have their colors most profoundly
altered. In this way, we may put it down as a general rule (to be tested
hereafter) that the least developed flowers are usually yellow or white;
those which have undergone a little more modification are usually pink
or red; and those which have been most highly specialized of any are
usually purple, lilac, or blue. Absolute deep ultramarine probably marks
the highest level of all.

On the other hand, Mr. Wallace's principle also explains why the bees
and butterflies should prefer these specialized colors to all others,
and should therefore select those flowers which display them by
preference over any less developed types; for bees and butterflies are
the most highly adapted of all insects to honey-seeking and
flower-feeding. They have themselves on their side undergone the largest
amount of specialization for that particular function. And if the more
specialized and modified flowers, which gradually fitted their forms and
the position of their honey-glands to the forms of the bees or
butterflies, showed a natural tendency to pass from yellow through pink
and red to purple and blue, it would follow that the insects which were
being evolved side by side with them, and which were aiding at the same
time in their evolution, would grow to recognize these developed colors
as the visible symbols of those flowers from which they could obtain the
largest amount of honey with the least possible trouble. Thus it would
finally result that the ordinary unspecialized flowers, which depended
upon small insect riff-raff, would be mostly left yellow or white; those
which appealed to rather higher insects would become pink or red; and
those which laid themselves out for bees or butterflies, the aristocrats
of the arthropodous world, would grow for the most part to be purple
or blue.

Now, this is very much what we actually find to be the case in nature.
The simplest and earliest flowers are those with regular, symmetrical
open cups, like the _Ranunculus_ genus, the _Potentillas_, and the
_Alsine_ or chickweeds, which can be visited by any insects whatsoever;
and these are in large part yellow or white. A little higher are flowers
like the Campions or _Sileneoe_, and the stocks (_Matthiola_), with more
or less closed cups, whose honey can only be reached by more specialized
insects; and these are oftener pink or reddish. More profoundly modified
are those irregular one-sided flowers, like the violets, peas, and
orchids, which have assumed special shapes to accommodate bees and other
specific honey-seekers; and these are often purple and not unfrequently
blue. Highly specialized in another way are the flowers like harebells
(_Campanulaceoe_), scabious (_Dipsaceoe_), and heaths (_Ericaceoe_),
whose petals have all coalesced into a tubular corolla; and these might
almost be said to be usually purple or blue. And finally, highest of all
are the flowers like labiates (rosemary, _Salvia_, etc.) and speedwells
(_Veronica_), whose tubular corolla has been turned to one side, thus
combining the united petals with the irregular shape; and these are
almost invariably purple or blue.


From 'The Evolutionist at Large'

I suppose even that apocryphal person, the general reader, would be
insulted at being told at this hour of the day that all bright-colored
flowers are fertilized by the visits of insects, whose attentions they
are specially designed to solicit. Everybody has heard over and over
again that roses, orchids, and columbines have acquired their honey to
allure the friendly bee, their gaudy petals to advertise the honey, and
their divers shapes to insure the proper fertilization by the correct
type of insect. But everybody does not know how specifically certain
blossoms have laid themselves out for a particular species of fly,
beetle, or tiny moth. Here on the higher downs, for instance, most
flowers are exceptionally large and brilliant; while all Alpine climbers
must have noticed that the most gorgeous masses of bloom in Switzerland
occur just below the snow-line. The reason is, that such blossoms must
be fertilized by butterflies alone. Bees, their great rivals in
honey-sucking, frequent only the lower meadows and slopes, where flowers
are many and small: they seldom venture far from the hive or the nest
among the high peaks and chilly nooks where we find those great patches
of blue gentian or purple anemone, which hang like monstrous breadths of
tapestry upon the mountain sides. This heather here, now fully opening
in the warmer sun of the southern counties - it is still but in the bud
among the Scotch hills, I doubt not - specially lays itself out for the
humble-bee, and its masses form almost his highest pasture-grounds; but
the butterflies - insect vagrants that they are - have no fixed home, and
they therefore stray far above the level at which bee-blossoms
altogether cease to grow. Now, the butterfly differs greatly from the
bee in his mode of honey-hunting: he does not bustle about in a
business-like manner from one buttercup or dead-nettle to its nearest
fellow; but he flits joyously, like a sauntering straggler that he is,
from a great patch of color here to another great patch at a distance,
whose gleam happens to strike his roving eye by its size and brilliancy.
Hence, as that indefatigable observer, Dr. Hermann Müller, has noticed,
all Alpine or hill-top flowers have very large and conspicuous blossoms,
generally grouped together in big clusters so as to catch a passing
glance of the butterfly's eye. As soon as the insect spies such a
cluster, the color seems to act as a stimulant to his broad wings, just
as the candle-light does to those of his cousin the moth. Off he sails
at once, as if by automatic action, towards the distant patch, and there
both robs the plant of its honey, and at the same time carries to it on
his legs and head fertilizing pollen from the last of its congeners
which he favored with a call. For of course both bees and butterflies
stick on the whole to a single species at a time; or else the flowers
would only get uselessly hybridized, instead of being impregnated with
pollen from other plants of their own kind. For this purpose it is that
most plants lay themselves out to secure the attention of only two or
three varieties among their insect allies, while they make their
nectaries either too deep or too shallow for the convenience of all
other kinds.

Insects, however, differ much from one another in their aesthetic
tastes, and flowers are adapted accordingly to the varying fancies of
the different kinds. Here, for example, is a spray of common white
galium, which attracts and is fertilized by small flies, who generally
frequent white blossoms. But here again, not far off, I find a
luxuriant mass of the yellow species, known by the quaint name of
"lady's-bedstraw," - a legacy from the old legend which represents it as
having formed Our Lady's bed in the manger at Bethlehem. Now why has
this kind of galium yellow flowers, while its near kinsman yonder has
them snowy white? The reason is that lady's-bedstraw is fertilized by
small beetles; and beetles are known to be one among the most
color-loving races of insects. You may often find one of their number,
the lovely bronze and golden-mailed rose-chafer, buried deeply in the
very centre of a red garden rose, and reeling about when touched as if
drunk with pollen and honey. Almost all the flowers which beetles
frequent are consequently brightly decked in scarlet or yellow. On the
other hand, the whole family of the umbellates, those tall plants with
level bunches of tiny blossoms, like the fool's-parsley, have all but
universally white petals; and Müller, the most statistical of
naturalists, took the trouble to count the number of insects which paid
them a visit. He found that only fourteen per cent. were bees, while the
remainder consisted mainly of miscellaneous small flies and other
arthropodous riff-raff, whereas, in the brilliant class of composites,
including the asters, sunflowers, daisies, dandelions, and thistles,
nearly seventy-five per cent. of the visitors were steady, industrious
bees. Certain dingy blossoms which lay themselves out to attract wasps,
are obviously adapted, as Müller quaintly remarks, "to a less
aesthetically cultivated circle of visitors." But the most brilliant
among all insect-fertilized flowers are those which specially affect the
society of butterflies; and they are only surpassed in this respect
throughout all nature by the still larger and more magnificent tropical
species which owe their fertilization to humming-birds and
brush-tongued lories.

Is it not a curious, yet a comprehensible circumstance, that the tastes
which thus show themselves in the development, by natural selection, of
lovely flowers, should also show themselves in the marked preference for
beautiful mates? Poised on yonder sprig of harebell stands a little
purple-winged butterfly, one of the most exquisite among our British
kinds. That little butterfly owes its own rich and delicately shaded
tints to the long selective action of a million generations among its
ancestors. So we find throughout that the most beautifully colored birds
and insects are always those which have had most to do with the
production of bright-colored fruits and flowers. The butterflies and
rose-beetles are the most gorgeous among insects; the humming-birds and
parrots are the most gorgeous among birds. Nay, more, exactly like
effects have been produced in two hemispheres on different tribes by the
same causes. The plain brown swifts of the North have developed among
tropical West Indian and South American orchids the metallic gorgets and
crimson crests of the humming-bird; while a totally unlike group of
Asiatic birds have developed among the rich flora of India and the Malay
Archipelago the exactly similar plumage of the exquisite sun-birds. Just
as bees depend upon flowers, and flowers upon bees, so the color-sense
of animals has created the bright petals of blossoms; and the bright
petals have reacted upon the tastes of the animals themselves, and
through their tastes upon their own appearance.


From 'Vignettes from Nature'

Most of the fields on the country-side are now laid up for hay, or down
in the tall haulming corn; and so I am driven from my accustomed
botanizing grounds on the open, and compelled to take refuge in the wild
bosky moor-land back of Hole Common. Here, on the edge of the copse, the
river widens to a considerable pool, and coming upon it softly through
the wood from behind - the boggy, moss-covered ground masking and
muffling my foot-fall - I have surprised a great, graceful ash-and-white
heron, standing all unconscious on the shallow bottom, in the very act
of angling for minnows. The heron is a somewhat rare bird among the more
cultivated parts of England; but just hereabouts we get a sight of one
not infrequently, for they still breed in a few tall ash-trees at
Chilcombe Park, where the lords of the manor in mediaeval times long
preserved a regular heronry to provide sport for their hawking. There is
no English bird, not even the swan, so perfectly and absolutely graceful
as the heron. I am leaning now breathless and noiseless against the
gate, taking a good look at him, as he stands half-knee deep on the oozy
bottom, with his long neck arched over the water, and his keen purple
eye fixed eagerly upon the fish below. Though I am still twenty yards
from where he poises lightly on his stilted legs, I can see distinctly
his long pendent snow-white breast-feathers, his crest of waving black
plumes, falling loosely backward over the ash-gray neck, and even the
bright red skin of his bare legs just below the feathered thighs. I dare
hardly move nearer to get a closer view of his beautiful plumage; and
still I will try. I push very quietly through the gate, but not quite
quietly enough for the heron. One moment he raises his curved neck and
poises his head a little on one side to listen for the direction of the
rustling; then he catches a glimpse of me as I try to draw back silently
behind a clump of flags and nettles; and in a moment his long legs give
him a good spring from the bottom, his big wings spread with a sudden
flap sky-wards, and almost before I can note what is happening he is off
and away to leeward, making a bee-line for the high trees that fringe
the artificial water in Chilcombe Hollow.

All these wading birds the herons, the cranes, the bitterns, the snipes,
and the plovers are almost necessarily, by the very nature of their
typical conformation, beautiful and graceful in form. Their tall,
slender legs, which they require for wading, their comparatively light
and well-poised bodies, their long, curved, quickly-darting necks and
sharp beaks, which they need in order to secure their rapid-swimming
prey, all these things make the waders, almost in spite of themselves,
handsome and shapely birds. Their feet, it is true, are generally rather
large and sprawling, with long, wide-spread toes, so as to distribute
their weight on the snow-shoe principle, and prevent them from sinking
in the deep soft mud on which they tread; but then we seldom see the
feet, because the birds, when we catch a close view of them at all, are
almost always either on stilts in the water, or flying with their legs
tucked behind them, after their pretty rudder-like fashion. I have often
wondered whether it is this general beauty of form in the waders which
has turned their aesthetic tastes, apparently, into such a sculpturesque
line. Certainly, it is very noteworthy that whenever among this
particular order of birds we get clear evidence of ornamental devices,
such as Mr. Darwin sets down to long-exerted selective preferences in
the choice of mates, the ornaments are almost always those of form
rather than those of color.

The waders, I sometimes fancy, only care for beauty of shape, not for
beauty of tint. As I stood looking at the heron here just now, the same
old idea seemed to force itself more clearly than ever upon my mind. The
decorative adjuncts - the curving tufted crest on the head, the pendent
silvery gorget on the neck, the long ornamental quills of the
pinions - all look exactly as if they were deliberately intended to

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