Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature: An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891. Vols. VIVIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 18351860
By Amos Bronson Alcott (17991888)
[Born in Wolcott, Conn., 1799. Died in Boston, Mass., 1888. From Tablets. 1868.]
ORCHARDS are even more personal in their charms than gardens, as they are more nearly human creations. Ornaments of the homestead, they subordinate other features of it; and such is their sway over the landscape that house and owner appear accidents without them. So men delight to build in an ancient orchard, when so fortunate as to possess one, that they may live in the beauty of its surroundings. Orchards are among the most coveted possessions; trees of ancient standing, and vines, being firm friends and royal neighbors forever. The profits, too, are as wonderful as their longevity. And if antiquity can add any worth to a thing, what possession has a man more noble than these? so unlike most others, which are best at first and grow worse till worth nothing; while fruit-trees and vines increase in worth and goodness for ages. An orchard in bloom is one of the most pleasing sights the eye beholds; as if the firmament had stooped to the tree-tops and touched every twig with spangles, and man had mingled his essence with the seasons, in its flushing tokens. And how rich the spectacle at the autumnal harvest:
Behold the bending boughs, with store of fruit they tear,
And what they have brought forth, for weight they scarce can bear.
Apples are general favorites. Every eye covets, every hand reaches to them. It is a noble fruit: the friend of immortality, its virtues blush to be tasted. Every Muse delights in it, as its mythology shows, from the gardens of the Hesperides to the orchard of Plato. A basket of pearmains, golden russets, or any of the choice kinds, standing in sight, shall perfume the scholars composition as it refreshes his genius. He may snatch wildness from the woods, get shrewdness from cities, learning from libraries and universities, compliments from courts. But for subtlety of thought, for sovereign sense, for color, the graces of diction and behavior, he best betakes himself