1. In growing tulips to make new varieties, the gardener plants seeds naturally or artificially fertilized. Year after year they bloom with a common grayish blossom–showing reversion to the early tulip type. And so they live along, a dull and stupid brood, without any apparent promise, until suddenly, one of them “breaks,” as they say, into a gorgeous, stately flower, and lo!–a new variety, a tulip of tulips, its gardener’s joy and recompense, a new thing of beauty born of untoward surroundings into a needy world.
2. Why in this putative flower-bed that one watches year by year, does there come forever the same unwelcome bloom? How often I have yearned for such a breaking-tulip, one who breaks his bonds asunder and adds a glory to the race. For are they not men, however poor in seeming promise? And may not a man perhaps break his bonds asunder? But no; after five, six, seven years if there is no “break,” the seedling tulip never breaks. There is a moment in out lives when we burst our bonds or fail to burst them.
3. We have all heard of ugly duckling and of Cinderella. Why is there so little of the sweetness and the joy and the beauty of fairy tale in our real life? Why does not the heart bloom everyday? Why is this ethereal charm found only in children’s tales? Why are we ashamed of the best, the truest, the sweetest, the loftiest in us? Why do we relegate these things to children? Why are we reverse tulips? Why do we flower wondrously in childhood, and then, as the years pass, turn dull and inglorious? Are men and women less than tulips?
4. Freedom liberates nothing if it liberates not the mind. I hold it against a man that he prefers not to free his mind; that he chooses the habitual, rather than that self-government, that initiative, which is the perpetuating force of a free people. I know that few men care to face the truth; not because it is the truth, but because they fear the truth may prove too large. All of which is timid and unlovely. It ill becomes us: we were meant to be large and true. So must we be. So are we in many ways.