This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
Every one has difficulties to contend with, no matter what may be their calling or position in society. The monarch who sits on a throne and sways his sceptre over a mighty empire, and the humble peasant in his lowly thatched cottage, are alike in this respect, although their respective difficulties are of necessity extremely different in character. In the one case the interest and welfare of a nation present innumerable difficulties to the sovereign, while the most humble serf has his own particular difficulties to meet and obstacles to surmount in the other.
Difficulties are the chains that bind us - the shackles that hinder us in our race after knowledge; while without knowledge we are but poorly armed in order to cope with the many obstacles that every day rise in our path.
Knowledge is the powder we must use to blast into atoms the rocky difficulties we constantly meet with; Wisdom the fulcrum on which our lever must be placed if we would raise ourselves to true greatness. Perhaps some uuder-gardeners (I would not presume to write for the instruction of head-gardeners) may ask, What do you mean by true greatness 1 and may feel surprised when I say that true greatness neither consists in wealth nor position in society, but in the full development of all those powers, both physical, moral, and intellectual, which have been so wisely bestowed upon us by the omnipotent Creator of the universe.
No man is born wise - neither in a palace nor in a gypsy's tent; nor is it possible that a man can suddenly become blessed with wisdom. He may perchance become suddenly rich, but wisdom can only be obtained by laborious and persevering study. Linnaeus (the father of botanists), Handel, and Vandyke did not render their names immortal because they were descended from noble families, nor because they were wealthy, but because they worked hard and studied hard, and became wise.
The following lines will give some idea of true wisdom: -
"In parts superior what advantage lies? Tell (if you can), what is it to be wise? 'Tis but to know how little can be known - To see all others' faults and feel our own".
The difficulties that lie in the young gardener's path are as plentiful as "Roses in June;" would that I could add "and as pleasant"! but experience tells me I should be wrong in doing so. They are also extremely variable (many are but imaginary) - some require but a slight effort in order to surmount them, while others rise up like great and mighty giants, and we have to strain every nerve before we can clear them from our paths. Sometimes an older veteran will reach out his hand and assist us in the fight. To those who do this our warmest thanks are due. No one who possesses an honest heart can forget such little acts of kindness from those who are placed in authority over us. Some, it must be owned, place difficulties in our way, perhaps because we have at some time or other given them some slight offence, or perhaps because they are ignorant of the exact way we are striking out for ourselves. Let us forgive such frankly - a brave manly heart never cries for revenge.
One of the greatest difficulties common to young gardeners is a want of inclination to study the various remarkable phenomena that are continually occurring in the vegetable kingdom around them. There are hundreds of gardeners that work on from day to day with a certain vague idea that ultimately they will be able to benefit their profession; this idea generally ends in nothing. Why? Because they are ignorant, not of the mere practical or physical part of their work, but of those primary laws that ought to regulate it.
If a gardener does not know something at least of vegetable physiology, structural botany, and chemistry, his path will be strewed with difficulties that it will be next to impossible for him to surmount. Such men can but rarely give you a satisfactory "reason why".
It may be taken as an axiom that where there exists an effect there has been a cause. Every young gardener should think of this, and when he sees any remarkable effect produced, should at once set himself to discover the cause. This, for beginners, will be extremely difficult at first, but rest assured you will learn something by your failures, as well as by your successes.
The want of books, time for study, etc, are all difficulties in a young gardener's way onwards, but the greatest difficulty is want of perseverance. "Where there's a will there's a way" should be printed in letters of gold, and fastened up in every bothy throughout the country.
In a future number of the 'Gardener' I propose to say a few more words on this subject with the kind permission of its worthy editor. Every one interested in horticulture will agree with me that the condition of young gardeners is well worth considering; not perhaps for what they are at the present time, but we must, to get some idea of their importance, consider the positions they, as a body, are eventually destined to occupy. F. W. B.