JOHNSON. ‘There is nothing, Sir, too little for so little a creature as man. It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible.’
from “Life of Johnson, Volume 1 1709-1765” by James Boswell.
Samuel Johnson lived before the Voyage of the Beagle changed science for ever, but the generation of biologists before Darwin – like the Hampshire curate Gilbert White – were systematically looking at little things with the humility Johnson is advocating. Selborne parish was White’s study, the chalk hills, the plants and animals that inhabited them.
Our experience, walking on Kentish chalk during lockdown, is that once our eyes are open – to a damsel fly or to orchids for example – we see many more of them. This is a fly orchid, well named. But what else should my eyes be open to, walking city pavements?
Let’s pray for all those working at a really little, microscopic level, to bring us treatments and vaccines for diseases such as malaria and the new covid-19. Nothing is too little!