George Gissing (1857-1903), The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft
I had stepped into a new life. Between the man I had been and that which I now became there was a very notable difference. In a single day I had matured astonishingly; which means, no doubt, that I suddenly entered into conscious enjoyment of powers and sensibilities which had been developing unknown to me. To instance only one point: till then I had cared very little about plants and flowers, but now I found myself eagerly interested in every blossom, in every growth of the wayside. As I walked I gathered a quantity of plants, promising myself to buy a book on the morrow and identify them all. Nor was it a passing humour; never since have I lost my pleasure in the flowers of the field, and my desire to know them all. My ignorance at the time of which I speak seems to me now very shameful; but I was merely in the case of ordinary people, whether living in town or country. How many could give the familiar name of half a dozen plants plucked at random from beneath the hedge in springtime? To me the flowers became symbolical of a great release, of a wonderful awakening. My eyes had all at once been opened; till then I had walked in darkness, yet knew it not.
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