“One day he saw some country people busily engaged
in pulling up nettles; he examined the plants,
which were uprooted and already dried, and said:
“They are dead. Nevertheless, it would be a good thing
to know how to make use of them.
When the nettle is young, the leaf makes an excellent vegetable;
when it is older, it has filaments and fibres like hemp and flax.
Nettle cloth is as good as linen cloth.
Chopped up, nettles are good for poultry;
pounded, they are good for horned cattle.
The seed of the nettle, mixed with fodder,
gives gloss to the hair of animals;
the root, mixed with salt, produces a beautiful yellow coloring-matter.
Moreover, it is an excellent hay, which can be cut twice.
And what is required for the nettle?
A little soil, no care, no culture.
Only the seed falls as it is ripe, and it is difficult to collect it.
That is all. With the exercise of a little care,
the nettle could be made useful;
it is neglected and it becomes hurtful.
It is exterminated.
How many men resemble the nettle!”
He added, after a pause:
”Remember this, my friends:
there are no such things as bad plants or bad men.
There are only bad cultivators.”
(Victor Hugo, Les Miserables)