Among the searching questions that are put to the members of the Society of Friends, in their meetings for the investigation of personal character, one of the queries is, "Has any Friend entered into business beyond his ability to manage?"
This question we are obliged to answer in the affirmative when we take time to ask it of ourselves, for, having outlined work enough for a dozen men, it becomes a puzzle how to carry it on with only the aid of one factotum; extra hands being very hard to obtain in this village during the summer months. Much that we do is accordingly a makeshift. I am sadly obliged to confess to the existence of weeds where no weeds should be, of neglected spaces, of trees on the hill smothered by grass, of rose-bugs unslain, and caterpillars left at large; of a struggle for general effect, rather than a realization of neatness in detail, all of which is most reprehensible and melancholy. We look at our neighbors' neat gardens with remorse and envy, and can only console ourselves by reflecting that when they are gone the weeds will have their way, but that in our struggle with nature in the end the trees will win, and trample the weeds under their mighty feet, and rear their stately heads proudly, while the beets and carrots of a future generation are still struggling with their yearly foes.
In a recent visit to the shores of the Merrimac, I have seen hills carpeted with the fallen leaves of haughty Pines that have numbered some centuries of growth, and I can smile at the flaunting Daisies of the hill, which overtop our baby evergreens, and threaten to exterminate them. Your days are numbered, O weeds! Wave now and dance in the sunshine while you may, for the first nails are being driven in your coffins. Little you reck that the small brown spines, that disappear at your roots, are the first drops of a rising tide that is to bury your bright blossoms, and strangle your weedy growth. For a few years to come you may preen yourselves upon the hillside, but the tiny seedlings below are rising higher and higher, wider spread their green arms, thicker falls the brown shower, which at first nourishes your gaudy uselessness, but at last shall arise and overwhelm it forever. The gay and trivial have their little day of sunshine and triumph, but the strong roots of serious vigor endure when the sunlight fails, and the winter winds blow. Everything in the lower is typical of the higher life, and the ephemeral for a time seems brighter and stronger than the eternal; but not forever. Though speed may tell in a short race, it is bottom that wins the long ones, and it is the patient who inherit the earth.
This is the great lesson of the forest, the philosophy it plants in him who nourishes it and awaits its growth. In the faint rustle of the tiny leaflets I hear the murmur, "Wait!" and as I wander under the shade of trees a hundred years old, I hear the echo far above me of that tender cry, in a solemn whisper: "Wait! They, too, shall be as we are, giants in their day. What matters it that thy little life will be long over? for thee the weeds and battle, for others the shade and rest. Plant thou 1 that is thy mission, and the joy of him who reaps the fruit of thy labors shall be no greater than thine. Knowest thou not, O thou of little faith, that to look forward is the best of joys? Thy reward is renewed to thee daily in thy hope. Learn patience, and content thy soul".
And so the young trees and the old alike, give counsel to him who can understand their language, whether he bends to listen to the soft voice at his feet, or lifts his head to catch the diapason of the overarching forest; encouraged by the lesson, we take up our burden anew - in our case the burden of a watering-pot - and do battle with the drought with a braver heart and sturdier resolution.