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Burbank, Luther, 1849-1926 / Luther Burbank: his methods and discoveries and their practical application
(1914)

[Luther Burbank -- the bearing of his work on human life -- on improving the human plant],   pp. [202]-246 PDF (10.0 MB)


Page 225

IMPROVING THE HUMAN PLANT
The direct influence of environment on these
highly differentiated and hence unstable charac-
teristics of plant or of man is easily demonstrated
in any experiment garden or in any social com-
munity.
But even the most deep-seated and funda-
mental qualities may be profoundly modified if
the environing influences are applied during the
childhood of the seedling plant or the human
subject.
"As the twig is bent the tree is inclined" is a
maxim the literal truth of which is apparent to the
least-skilled horticulturist. The application of the
maxim to the human sapling is equally familiar
matter of fact to even the tyro in human pedagogy.
A Shakespeare is not born with a fund of
knowledge and a profuse vocabulary stored in his
brain; but only with the receptive quality of brain-
fibre that will enable him-granted proper sur-
roundings-to acquire knowledge of things and of
words. Placed in childhood on a South Sea Island,
among savages, Shakespeare could have passed his
life without knowing a single word of the English
tongue, and without having even the vaguest con-
ception of the existence of a written language of
any kind.
This extreme example will serve to suggest the
extent to which the individual even of the very
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