+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

by the government ? They would all very
soon become pious, and we, their masters,
would be in a pretty mess."

"What a country!" sighed Pastor A.


In the paper called the Czar's Highway,
the traveller Due North inadvertently led his
readers to understand tbat certain accounts
of the coronation illuminations at Moscow,
in a daily journal, were written by Mr. William
Russell, the distinguished correspondent
of the Times newspaper, instead of Mr. John
Murphy,the special correspondent of the Daily
News. A re-publication of Mr. Murphy's
admirable letters from St. Petersburg and
Moscow having already appeared, the error
into which the Due-North defendant fell is
almost sufficiently corrected thereby; but,
not wishing to deprive that gentleman or any
other of any credit due to him, he desires to
acknowledge and to correct his mistake here.


To some extent in England and Scotland,
but to a very great extent, indeed, in
Ireland, although, when we sow corn we
mean corn, and corn only, when we sow
turnips, we mean turnips, the result is that we
don't get altogether what we do mean. Some
of our good seed is lost, and there spring up
chickweed, corn-cockle, black-mustard, tares,
and wild-carrots. The law of nature is a
beneficent one, by which provision is made for
the spread of vegetation; we know that, and
we hope we have a due respect for groundsel,
chickweed, hawkweed, and the rest of their
fraternity. If any process, short of extermination,
could provide that in the immediate
neighbourhood of cultivated fields,

     Hawkweed and groundsel's fanny downs
     Unruffled keep their seedy crowns,

we should not see the noble race of man
engaged in warfare with the simplest and
apparently the weakest races of the
vegetable world.

Apparently the weakest, we say only; for,
surely, these little weeds are among the weak
things that are able to confound the strong.
There may be one hundred and thirty flowers
having seed-vessels on a single plant of
groundsel, and in each seed-vessel there are
fifty seeds. Thus, one groundsel seed is
father to six thousand five hundred sons,
more than there are of visible stars in the
firmament. Many of these settle where they
cannot live; many exist only to be eaten
by birds. It is not meant that all seeds
should produce plants, very many are as
much bread to the birds as seeds of corn are
bread to us. If, however, by an accident,
every son to which a thriving groundsel,

seed is parent, grew up, throve, and produced
new seed in the same proportion- an impossible
assumption-  the descendants of a seed
of groundsel in the second generation would
exceed in number forty millions: the telescope
itself has not enabled us to see so many
stars. Chickweed is less prolific; though,
indeed, even that may produce as many as
five hundred seeds upon each plant. But,
then, look at the red poppy. It can yield a
hundred flowers from one root; and, from each
flower can develop no less than five hundred
seeds; fifty thousand may, therefore, by chance
be the number of its offspring. Black
mustard and wild carrot produce families of
magnitude about equal one to another. One
may, when in perfection, produce two hundred
flowers with six seeds in each, the other six
hundred flowers, with in each two seeds. One
dandelion root may have twelve flowers,
while each dandelion flower yields one
hundred and seventy seeds. The seeds of one
sow-thistle may number five-and-twenty
thousand. One plant of stinking chamomile
may yield forty thousand, one plant of
Mayweed five-and-forty thousand seeds.

Inasmuch, as nature is resolved to spread
her carpet where she can, and man knows
very well that the green carpet with its
pretty little flower patterns must be taken
up wherever the ground is to be tilled for
special uses of his own, the need of constant
watchfulness is obvious enough. To say
that over a given space there shall grow
nothing but wheat, if we mean earnestly
what we are saying, is to declare war against
all other growths which setup their own claims
to the same land. It is a case of war arising
outof territorial aggression. The farmers seize
upon a territory occupied by various races of
plants known to them by the rough general
name of The Weeds. The weeds are got
under, subdued, in a great measure extirpated,
and the farmers then set up an iron rule
over the soil; upon which they establish in
rich colonies their own subjects, the cereals
and green crops. The farmers justify their
first aggression. The well-being of mankind
depends, they say, on the predominance of
the two races of cereals and green crops.
What do the weeds care for this reasoning?
The race of man has always trampled on
them. They are the first owners of the soil.
They claim it. They watch, therefore, the
opportunity to rise, and every great rising of
the weeds is attended with a frightful
massacre of the new race. There is no mercy
shown even to the newly born; whether of
the green crops or the cereals. Thousands upon
thousands of them are without pity smothered
by the weeds, while others perish in their

Let us observe the common case of a
fortified town in possession of a cereal colony,
such as we may take a wheat field to
be, walled with its hedges, moated with its
ditches, and having its one or two great