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Proserpina, Volume 2 - Studies Of Wayside Flowers by John Ruskin
page 2 of 120 (01%)
such special study by recurring to general principles, or points of wider
interest. But the scope of such larger inquiry will be best seen, and the
use of it best felt, by entering now on specific study.

I begin with the Violet, because the arrangement of the group to which it
belongs--Cytherides--is more arbitrary than that of the rest, and calls for
some immediate explanation.

2. I fear that my readers may expect me to write something very pretty for
them about violets: but my time for writing prettily is long past; and it
requires some watching over myself, I find, to keep me even from writing
querulously. For while, the older I grow, very thankfully I recognize more
and more the number of pleasures granted to human eyes in this fair world,
I recognize also an increasing sensitiveness in my temper to anything that
interferes with them; and a grievous readiness to find fault--always of
course submissively, but very articulately--with whatever Nature seems to
me not to have managed to the best of her power;--as, for extreme instance,
her late arrangements of frost this spring, destroying all the beauty of
the wood sorrels; nor am I less inclined, looking to her as the greatest of
sculptors and painters, to ask, every time I see a narcissus, why it should
be wrapped up in brown paper; and every time I see a violet, what it wants
with a spur?

3. What _any_ flower wants with a spur, is indeed the simplest and hitherto
to me unanswerablest form of the question; nevertheless, when blossoms grow
in spires, and are crowded together, and have to grow partly downwards, in
order to win their share of light and breeze, one can see some reason for
the effort of the petals to expand upwards and backwards also. But that a
violet, who has her little stalk to herself, and might grow straight up, if
she pleased, should be pleased to do nothing of the sort, but quite
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