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“There Is a Difference”

"There Is A Difference."

It was in the month of May. The wind still blew cold, but bushes and trees, field and meadow, all alike said the spring had come. There was store of flowers even in the wild hedges; and there spring carried on his affairs, and preached from a little apple tree, where one branch hung fresh and blooming, covered with delicate pink blossoms that were just ready to open. The apple tree branch knew well enough how beautiful he was, for the knowledge is inherent in the leaf as well as in the blood; and consequently the branch was not surprised when a nobleman's carriage stopped opposite to him on the road, and the young countess said that an apple branch was the loveliest thing one could behold, a very emblem of spring in its most charming form. And the branch was most carefully broken off, and she held it in her delicate hand, and sheltered it with her silk parasol. Then they drove to the castle, where there were lofty halls and splendid apartments. Pure white curtains fluttered round the open windows, and beautiful flowers stood in shining transparent vases; and in one of these, which looked as if it had been cut out of fresh-fallen snow, the apple branch was placed among some fresh light twigs of beech. It was charming to behold.

But the branch became proud; and this was quite like human nature.

People of various kinds came through the room, and according to their rank they might express their admiration. A few said nothing at all, and others again said too much, and the apple tree branch soon got to understand that there was a difference among plants. "Some are created for beauty, and some for use; and there are some which one can do without altogether," thought the apple branch; and as he stood just in front of the open window, from whence he could see into the garden and across the fields, he had flowers and plants enough to contemplate and to think about, for there were rich plants and humble plants—some very humble indeed.

"Poor despised herbs!" said the apple branch. "There is certainly a difference! And how unhappy they must feel, if indeed that kind can feel like myself and my equals. Certainly there is a difference, and distinctions must be made, or we should all be equal."

And the apple branch looked down with a species of pity, especially upon a certain kind of flower of which great numbers are found in the fields and in ditches. No one bound them into a nosegay, they were too common; for they might be found even among the paving-stones, shooting up everywhere like the rankest weeds, and they had the ugly name of "dandelion," or "dog-flower."

"Poor despised plants!" said the apple branch. "It is not your fault that you received the ugly name you bear. But it is with plants as with men—there must be a difference!"

"A difference?" said the sunbeam; and he kissed the blooming apple branch, and saluted in like manner the yellow dandelions out in the field—all the brothers of the sunbeam kissed them, the poor flowers as well as the rich.

Now the apple branch had never thought of the boundless beneficence of Providence in creation towards everything that lives and moves and has its being; he had never thought how much that is beautiful and good may be hidden, but not forgotten; but that, too, was quite like human nature.

The sunbeam, the ray of light, knew better; and said, "You don't see far, and you don't see clearly. What is the despised plant that you especially pity?"

"The dandelion," replied the apple branch. "It is never received into a nosegay; it is trodden under foot. There are too many of them; and when they run to seed, they fly away like little pieces of wool over the roads, and hang and cling to people's dress. They are nothing but weeds—but it is right there should be weeds too. Oh, I'm really very thankful that I was not created one of those flowers."

THE CHILDREN AND THE DANDELIONS.the children and the dandelions.

But there came across the fields a whole troop of children; the youngest of whom was so small that it was carried by the rest, and when it was set down in the grass among the yellow flowers it laughed aloud with glee, kicked out with its little legs, rolled about and plucked the yellow flowers, and kissed them in its pretty innocence. The elder children broke off the flowers with their tall stalks, and bent the stalks round into one another, link by link, so that a whole chain was made; first a necklace, and then a scarf to hang over their shoulders and tie round their waists, and then a chaplet to wear on the head: it was quite a gala of green links and yellow flowers. The eldest children carefully gathered the stalks on which hung the white feathery ball, formed by the flower that had run to seed; and this loose, airy wool-flower, which is a beautiful object, looking like the finest snowy down, they held to their mouths, and tried to blow away the whole head at one breath: for their grandmother had said that whoever could do this would be sure to get new clothes before the year was out. So on this occasion the despised flower was actually raised to the rank of a prophet or augur.

"Do you see?" said the sunbeam. "Do you see the beauty of those flowers? do you see their power?"

"Yes, over children," replied the apple branch.

And now an old woman came into the field, and began to dig with a blunt shaftless knife round the root of the dandelion plant, and pulled it up out of the ground. With some of the roots she intended to make tea for herself; others she was going to sell for money to the druggist.

"But beauty is a higher thing!" said the apple tree branch. "Only the chosen few can be admitted into the realm of beauty. There is a difference among plants, just as there is a difference among men."

And then the sunbeam spoke of the boundless love of the Creator, as manifested in the creation, and of the just distribution of things in time and in eternity.

"Yes, yes, that is your opinion," the apple branch persisted.

But now some people came into the room, and the beautiful young countess appeared, the lady who had placed the apple branch in the transparent vase in the sunlight. She carried in her hand a flower, or something of the kind. The object, whatever it might be, was hidden by three or four great leaves, wrapped around it like a shield, that no draught or gust of wind should injure it; and it was carried more carefully than the apple bough had ever been. Very gently the large leaves were now removed, and lo, there appeared the fine feathery seed crown of the despised dandelion! This it was that the lady had plucked with the greatest care, and had carried home with every precaution, so that not one of the delicate feathery darts that form its downy ball should be blown away. She now produced it, quite uninjured, and admired its beautiful form, its peculiar construction, and its airy beauty, which was to be scattered by the wind.

"Look, with what singular beauty Providence has invested it," she said. "I will paint it, together with the apple branch, whose beauty all have admired; but this humble flower has received just as much from Heaven in a different way; and, various as they are, both are children of the kingdom of beauty."

And the sunbeam kissed the humble flower, and he kissed the blooming apple branch, whose leaves appeared covered with a roseate blush.


etc.&c. (Lat. et cætericæteræ, or cætera ). And others, and so forth.

1000 CE

Britain, so far as occupied by the Angles and Saxons, was divided into seven (or eight) little kingdoms, known as the Saxon Heptarchy.

World About A. D. 1000.—Germany, or the Eastern Franks, becomes at this time the greatest power in Europe, uniting to itself Upper Italy and Lotharingia.

France, or the Western Franks, early in this century is invaded by the Norsemen or Normans,—bold seafaring adventurers from Denmark and other northern lands, from whom the name Normandy is derived. The kingdom of France, however, began in 987.

The Saracen Empire was divided at the beginning of this century into no less than seven independent califates, of which the most distinguished was that of the Fatimites. The Saracenic civilization in Spain is now at its height. By the end of the century the power of the Saracens in the East is of but little account politically.

The Magyars, or Hungarians, before the end of the century have established a strong kingdom in the southeast of Europe; and to the north the Slavonic states of Poland and Bohemia are planted.

Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are powerful kingdoms by the close of this century and England, now one kingdom, is engaged in struggles with the Danes.

The hardy Scandinavian seamen had pushed back the clouds of ignorance over the vast region of the north Atlantic, and had reached the shores of the American continent nearly five centuries before Columbus. About the year 994 an expedition under Leif, son of Erik the Red, set sail for this new country. The regions discovered were named Helluland (Slateland), supposed to be Labrador; Markland, or Woodland, probably Southern Labrador; and Vinland, a country named from the wild vine growing there, which some identify with Newfoundland, while others transfer it to the New England coast, opposite the island of Martha's Vineyard.

ABOUT A.D. 1000


Duo.12mo. Duodecimo (twelve folds).

1300 CE

World About A. D. 1300.—Before the middle of the thirteenth century the vast Mongol Empire, under Ghengis Khan, had stretched out from China to Poland and Hungary, over all Asia except India and Asia Minor—an empire which far surpassed in extent any that had yet been known on the surface of the globe.

ABOUT A.D. 1300

The great Mongol expansion forced the removal of the Ottoman Turks, who retreated from the steppes east of the Caspian to the mountains of Armenia. Othman or Osman, a chief of the tribe, on the destruction of the Seljuk power, obtained possession of Bithynia, attacked the Asiatic portion of the sinking Byzantine empire with success and founded there (1299) the subsequently great empire of the Ottoman or Osmanli Turks, as they are named from him.

In the course of his conquest Genghiz Khan had carried off multitudes of western Asiatics as slaves. Twelve thousand of these, mostly Turks and Circassians, were bought by the Sultan of Egypt (a successor of Saladin), who formed them into a body of troops. From being servants these well-armed slaves rose to be masters in Egypt, and placed one of their own number in the sultanate (1254), thus founding the Mameluke (or slave) dynasty in Egypt, which lasted for nearly three centuries, bringing the country again into great prosperity and power.

Thus, about the year 1300 the once great Mohammedan Empire had been restricted to its original seat, and to the western region of north Africa, all else having fallen into the hands of the Turks. The Calif of Bagdad had taken refuge under the protection of the Mamelukes of Egypt, retaining his spiritual power only; the Ommiade califate in Spain had long fallen.

The English, under Edward I., had incorporated Wales after ten years' contest; Scotland was fighting for independence, led by Wallace and Bruce; and long wars engaged England and France, leading finally to a great increase in French territory and power. Denmark, Sweden and Norway were separate states. In central Europe, Poland and Hungary had been brought to the verge of ruin by the Mongol invasions, which had swept away for the time the divided principalities of Russia. In the south, the old Greek Empire was fast sinking through the assaults on it by the Turks.

The German Empire in this century both loses and gains territory, without material change.

Italy is still divided into independent commonwealths, which more and more fall under the power of princely families or tyrants.

In the Spanish Peninsula there are few geographical changes in this century, but Spain is steadily consolidating into a great power.

The Venetian, Marco Polo, the greatest of medieval travelers, passed seventeen years in exploring the kingdoms of Asia, and opened up to accurate knowledge not only the vast region of the central Asiatic continent, but also the disclosure of the existence of Japan, which he called Zipangu. While Venice opened up new paths to commerce towards the east, Genoa looked westward, sought to open up a new road to India by sailing through the Strait of Gibraltar and round the southern extremity of Africa. It was Genoese who first, in modern times, ventured upon the Atlantic; discovered the Canaries, Madeira, and the Azores; and who first felt their way along the west coast of Africa.

1500 CE

World About A. D. 1500.—Previous to this century the nations with which we have been concerned has been restricted to Europe, a little of western Asia, and a small part of northern Africa. An immense enlargement of these bounds now suddenly occurs in consequence of the application of the compass to navigation. From this time dates the period of greatest maritime enterprise and discoveries.

The Portuguese took the lead in bold projects of adventure by sea. The Cape of Good Hope was discovered and doubled by Bartholomew Diaz in 1487, and in 1498 the feat of reaching India by water was accomplished by Vasco da Gama, who, rounding the Cape of Good Hope, reached Calicut in Malabar.

The general excitement about maritime discovery among the Portuguese suggested to Columbus the bold plan of reaching India, not by way of Africa, but by steering to the west across the Atlantic. The result of his voyage was the final discovery of the American continents. India he did not reach, but discovered instead, the island of Guanahani or San Salvador, in 1492, the main continent being discovered a few years later (June 24, 1497) by John Caboto, or Cabot, a Venetian sailor.

In the far east China had recovered its independence under the Ming dynasty, and its supremacy was acknowledged over Mongolia and eastern Turkestan, though the states of Tonquin and Cochin China, in the southern peninsula beyond India, had assumed a political independence. Western Asia had been reconquered by Timur, or Tamerlane, of western Turkestan. The Ottoman Turks had extended their European territory to its widest limit over the ruins of the Greek Empire; and Russia had become a united kingdom under Ivan the Great, and threw off the Tartar yoke.

In western Europe, the Swiss mountaineers had secured their independence. France was recovering from the calamities inflicted on it by the English, who had all but lost their hold on the land. In the south the reaction of Christendom against Mohammedanism had begun. The Christian kingdoms of Spain and Portugal had driven back the Moors across the Straits into Africa, and had consolidated their strength over the whole Peninsula. The Moors in turn settled along the north African coast. Morocco at this time had been formed into a monarchy, and enjoyed great prosperity.

ABOUT A.D. 1500

1600 CE

World About A. D. 1600.—Spain is the chief power at this time. Besides vast continental dominions in the New World, its European possessions comprised the whole of the Spanish Peninsula, the Netherlands and other lands of the House of Austria, the Sicilies, Sardinia, and Milan. But, by the revolt of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, Spain loses a considerable portion of her territory before the end of the century.

ABOUT A.D. 1600

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The German Empire continues, but more as a dignity than as an independent power. The emperors are uniformly chosen from the princes of the House of Austria, which now by its hereditary possession becomes one of the chief powers of Europe. In the person of the Emperor Charles V., who united the crown of Spain with the sovereignty of Austria, the imperial power reached its greatest extent.

France is engaged in wars civil and religious and foreign, but without much change of territory, except in America, where some colonies were established. England makes some attempts at colonization in America during this century, but the real settlements begin in the next.

Italy, during this period, is a battle-field of contention among the rival princes of Europe. The peninsula was made up of principalities and commonwealths, some of which were independent, but the most of which, during the greater part of this century, were under the dominant influence of Austria and of Spain. The northern provinces of the Netherlands throw off the yoke of Spain, and are united in a federal commonwealth. The union of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden ceases in the early part of this century, by the independence of Sweden, which now plays an important part in European history. Poland is an important state in this century, with extensive possessions.

The Turkish or Ottoman Empire is largely extended in this century by the annexation of Syria, Egypt, a great part of the northern coast of Africa, and the conquest of a large part of Hungary.

In Asia the Chinese Empire remained unshaken; Persia had again become an independent empire; the Mohammedan Moguls had begun to reign in northern India; the once great Tartar empire had been reduced to the states east of the Caspian. In the north, Russia was spreading eastward over Asia, and had come in contact with the Ottoman Empire, now expanding to its greatest extent in the South, and with Sweden in the northwest. The great Reformation had passed over Europe, separating its Catholic states of the south from the Protestants of the north, and giving rise to fierce wars and many political changes. Maritime discovery and adventure and commerce were being eagerly extended by the nations of western Europe. Four times the world had been circumnavigated—by the Portuguese Magellan, by the English Drake and Cavendish, and lastly by the Dutchman Van Noort. Spain had extended her conquests to Mexico, Peru, and Chile, which were now ruled by Spanish viceroys. The Portuguese had established themselves firmly on the African shores; their possessions and settlements in the East Indies included the Malabar coast of India, Ceylon and Malacca; and their traffic reached to all the islands of the Asiatic archipelago, to China and Japan.

The English and Dutch, after vainly seeking an independent highway to the northeast or northwest through the ice-fields of the Arctic region, had become formidable rivals of the Spaniards and Portuguese in their own lines, both in the West Indies and round the Cape of Good Hope to the eastward.

1700 CE

World About A. D. 1700.—In Europe, France under Louis XIV., now becomes the leading power, and makes great accessions of territory. England also becomes one of the important nations, and, besides being engaged in civil and foreign wars, was planting colonies in America and in India. Austria had increased her power in Italy and Hungary. The Spanish monarchy is broken up, and Spain sinks to an inferior position. Prussia has risen into prominence under the great elector, Frederick William. The United Provinces held a high place and had been engaged in a long struggle with France. Italy had fallen to a low condition. Savoy was slowly gaining in power, and Venice was engaged in wars with the Turks. Sweden was at the height of its power and possessions. Russia is rapidly rising, and Poland is declining. The Turks press forward into Austria, from which they are driven out, and make some important conquests in other parts; but their power is on the decline.

In Asia, this was the period at which the Mohammedan Empire in India was raised to its highest point of splendor and greatness by Shah Jehan, the “King of the World,” and by his son, the famous Aurungzeb, the crafty and ambitious “reviver of religion.” It was during these reigns that the English began to gain a hold on India.

Outside of Europe it cannot fail to be observed how completely the spread of knowledge on the outer borders of the known world was controlled by events which took place in western Europe. Chief of these was the gradual crippling and decay of the maritime supremacy of Spain and Portugal, and the rise of that of the Dutch and British into strength. Maritime enterprise had passed to Holland, England, and France.

In America the British dominion was extended by the formation of the Hudson Bay Company. In 1690 this fur company had built several forts and factories on the coasts, whence from time to time their operations extended inland.

The French also, after La Salle first descended (1682) the great river, Mississippi, “the father of waters,” invaded Spanish claims by settling in Louisiana, about the mouth of the great river, in 1699.

ABOUT A.D. 1700

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148. John Adams

Fishkill, 1777.

After a march like that of Hannibal over the Alps, we arrived last night at this place, where we found the utmost difficulty to get forage for our horses and lodgings for ourselves, and at last were indebted to the hospitality of a private gentleman, Colonel Brinkhoff, who very kindly cared for us.

We came from Hartford through Farmington, Southington, Waterbury, Woodbury, New Milford, New Fairfield, the oblong, etc., to Fishkill. Of all the mountains I ever passed these are the worst. We found one advantage, however, in the cheapness of travelling. I don't find one half of the discontent nor of the terror here that I left in the Massachusetts. People seem sanguine that they shall do something grand this winter.

I am well and in good spirits. My horse performs extremely well. He clambers over mountains that my old mare would have stumbled on. The weather has been dreadfully severe.


265. John Adams

Without date, 1780.

My dear Portia,—The inclosed dialogue in the shades was written by Mr. Edmund Jennings, now residing at Brussels, a native of Maryland. I will send you the rest when I can get it. How I lament the loss of my packets by Austin! There were, I suppose, letters from Congress of great importance to me. I know not what I shall do without them. I suppose there was authority to draw, etc. Mr. T.'s letter from his father hints that Mr. L. is coming here. This will be excellent.

Since my arrival this time, I have driven about Paris more than I did before. The rural scenes around this town are charming. The public walks, gardens, etc., are extremely beautiful. The gardens of the Palais Royal and the gardens of the Tuileries are very fine. The Place de Louis XV., the Place Vendôme or Place de Louis XIV., the Place Victoire, the Place Royale, are fine squares, ornamented with very magnificent statues. I wish I had time to describe these objects to you, in a manner that I should have done twenty-five years ago; but my head is too full of schemes, and my heart of anxiety, to use expressions borrowed from you know whom. To take a walk in the gardens of the palace of the Tuileries, and describe the statues there, all in marble, in which the ancient divinities and heroes are represented with exquisite art, would be a very pleasant amusement and instructive entertainment, improving in history, mythology, poetry, as well as in statuary. Another walk in the gardens of Versailles would be useful and agreeable. But to observe these objects with taste, and describe them so as to be understood, would require more time and thought than I can possibly spare. It is not indeed the fine arts which our country requires; the useful, the mechanic arts are those which we have occasion for in a young country as yet simple and not far advanced in luxury, although perhaps much too far for her age and character. I could fill volumes with descriptions of temples and palaces, paintings, sculptures, tapestry, porcelain, etc., etc., etc., if I could have time; but I could not do this without neglecting my duty. The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take place of, indeed to exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain. Adieu.

264. John Adams

Without date, 1780.

My dear Portia,—Yesterday we went to see the garden of the King, Jardin du Roi, and his cabinet of natural history, cabinet d'histoire naturelle. The cabinet of natural history is a great collection of metals, minerals, shells, insects, birds, beasts, fishes, and precious stones. They are arranged in good order and preserved in good condition, with the name of everything, beautifully written on a piece of paper, annexed to it. There is also a collection of woods and marbles. The garden is large and airy, affording fine walks between rows of trees. Here is a collection, from all parts of the world, of all the plants, roots, and vegetables that are used in medicine, and indeed of all the plants and trees in the world. A fine scene for the studious youths in physic and philosophy. It was a public day. There was a great deal of company, and I had opportunity only to take a cursory view. The whole is very curious. There is a handsome statue of M. Buffon, the great natural historian, whose works you have, whose labors have given fame to this cabinet and garden. When shall we have in America such collections? The collection of American curiosities that I saw in Norwalk, in Connecticut, made by Mr. Arnold, which he afterwards, to my great mortification, sold to Governor Tryon, convinces me that our country affords as ample materials for collections of this nature as any part of the world.

Five midshipmen of the Alliance  came here last night, Marston, Hogan, Fitzgerald, and two others, from Norway, where they were sent with prizes, which the court of Denmark were absurd and unjust enough to restore to the English. They, however, treated the officers and people well, and defrayed their expenses. They say the Norwegians were very angry with the court of Copenhagen for delivering up these vessels. It was the blunder of ignorance, I believe, rather than any ill will.

Every day, when I ride out without any particular business to do or visit to make, I order my servant to carry me to some place where I never was before, so that, at last, I believe, I have seen all Paris and all the fields and scenes about it that are near it. It is very pleasant. Charles is as well beloved here as at home. Wherever he goes everybody loves him. Mr. Dana is as fond of him, I think, as I am. He learns very well.

There is a volume in folio just published here, which I yesterday ran over at a bookseller's shop. It is a description and a copper-plate of all the engravings upon precious stones in the collection of the Duke of Orleans. The stamps are extremely beautiful, and are representations of the gods and heroes of antiquity, with most of the fables of their mythology. Such a book would be very useful to the children in studying the classics, but it is too dear; three guineas, unbound. There is everything here that can inform the understanding or refine the taste, and indeed, one would think, that could purify the heart. Yet it must be remembered there is everything here, too, which can seduce, betray, deceive, deprave, corrupt, and debauch it. Hercules marches here in full view of the steeps of virtue on one hand and the flowery paths of pleasure on the other, and there are few who make the choice of Hercules. That my children may follow his example is my earnest prayer; but I sometimes tremble when I hear the siren song of sloth, lest they should be captivated with her bewitching charms and her soft, insinuating music.