I just came across this beautiful little story today and thought some of you might also enjoy it. This comes from an anonymous book published in 1843, entitled Floral Fancies and Morals from Flowers. I wish I had known this story when I first wrote about the Twinflower (Linnaea borealis) last fall!
A gigantic Pine Tree had, for upwards of four centuries, reigned in solitary grandeur on the heights of a rocky mountain in Swedish Lapland. Beneath the snows of those 400 winters he had beheld the few vegetable productions which grew around him, repeatedly concealed, and frozen by their bitter blasts, apparently destroyed. He had sometimes even beheld man, the lord of creation, fall benumbed and lifeless at his feet; while he, still proudly defying the storm, grew on, full of sap and vigour.
The pride of this lordly Pine “grew with his growth, and strengthened with his strength.” Seeing nothing above him, he fancied that the world could not produce his equal; for ever ascending, he aspired to reach the highest heaven; and beholding every green thing, except himself, wrapt yearly in a shroud of snow, he even thought himself immortal.
At the foot of this Alpine monarch grew a little trailing plant, buried each year beneath the snows of winter, and nearly concealed beneath the moss in summer. This little plant was so utterly unknown, that it could not even boast a name. When the magic breath of a Lapland spring had suddenly variegated with spots of verdure the barren site they occupied, two travelers were one day seen approaching the lofty Pine and his lowly companion. The former beheld them, while yet afar off, making their toilsome way up the rough ascent which led to the foot of his rocky throne. “Poor dwarfish creepers!” apostrophized the vegetable giant; “ye are, doubtless, coming hither to offer homage to my greatness." As the two men drew nearer, one, indeed, looked up at the stupendous tree in seeming admiration; but the eyes of the other were chiefly bent towards the earth. On reaching the Pine's foot, the first individual began to take careful measure of its enormous circumference, while the attention of the second was engaged on a far different object—the little red and white blossoms of the nameless plant, of which he had just caught a glimpse through their dark green veil of moss. He stooped to gather; looked at them with delight, considered them with attention, and then pressed them with enthusiasm to his lips. In what opposite and what erring estimation did the Pine Tree hold the actions of these two travellers. Pleased at the notice bestowed on him by the first, he whispered, with proud complacency, “’Tis a pity, oh man, that thou shouldst be so frail a creature; since, weak and little as thou art, thou canst sometimes appreciate the great and powerful. But, as for thee, contemptible being!” he continued, apostrophizing the younger traveller, “thy mind and body are alike—both low and grovelling—thus to waste thy silly admiration on a dwarfish weed, and disregard myself, the most stupendous object on the earth. Thou callest thyself creation's lord! ah! ah! ah!” and the Pine shook his sombre branches, as though laughing in derision. But the Pine would have trembled, and not have laughed, could he have looked into the thoughts of the elder traveler, the man whose taste he had commended, for he would have read therein his own approaching doom. That man, it is true, had scanned, with admiration, the colossal proportions of the tree; but he had scanned them only with the calculating eye, and in the narrow spirit of a trader; in plain terms, the elder traveler was a timber-merchant of Lullea, and, in his mind's eye, the Pine was already condemned; its career of fancied immortality cut short by the woodman's axe, and its trunk, the growth of centuries, transformed into “the mast of some great ammiral,” or sawn into planks of red deal for some less noble purpose. In a far different spirit to his companion had the younger traveler lifted carefully from the ground, and admired the modest beauty of the weed without a name. He was an ardent naturalist; one who truly “looked through Nature up to Nature's God,” and was gifted with a mind imaginative, even to a degree which the dull plodder might have termed fancifully enthusiastic. “Ah!” exclaimed he, addressing the little drooping flower, now, for the first time, drawn from its mossy shade, “how well dost thou represent my own early career! Even as I was, thou art—a little northern plant, flowering early, abject, depressed, and long overlooked; henceforth thou shalt bear my name.” He who spoke thus was one of the brightest luminaries of science—the polar star of botany—the great Linnaeus; and the Linnaea is the humble plant he then discovered.
I am a passionate gardener and seed-saver, who also enjoys playing the violin and accordion, running, spending time with my 4 golden retrievers, keeping chickens, photography, and reading.