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56 to say, be reduced to our own measure. “ literally your humble servant,
“ BOB SHORT."
I am very
YOU are now acquainted with the nature and
design of our institution ; the character of the “ members, and the topicks of our conversation, are “ what remain for the subject of this epistle. “ The most eminent persons of our assembly are
little poet, a little lover, a little politician, and “ a little hero. The first of these, Dick Distich by
name, we have elected president :, not only as he is " the shortest of us all, but because he has enter“ tained so just a sense of his stature, as to go gene“ rally in black, that he may appear yet less. Nay, “ to that perfection is he arrived, that he stoops as “ he walks. The figure of the man is odd enough ; to he is a lively little creature, with long arms and “ legs: a spider is no ill emblem of him: he has been " taken at a distance for a small windmill. But in. “ deed what principally moved us in his favour was “ his talent in poetry; for he hath promised to un. “ dertake a long work in short verse to celebrate the “ heroes of our size. He has entertained so great a respect for Statius, on the score of that line,
Major in exiguo regnabat corpore virtus, “ that he once designed to translate the whole The. as baid for the sake of little Tydeus.
" or characters of illustrious personages, as any way • reflect honour on little men. Tim. Tuck having “ but just reading enough for a military man, perpe“ tually entertains us with the same stories of little “ David that conquered the mighty Goliah, and little “ Luxembourg that made Louis XIV. a grand mo“ narque, never forgetting little Alexander the Great. “ Dick Distich celebrates the exceeding humanity of “ Augustus, who called Horace lepidissimum homun“ ciolum ; and is wonderfully pleased with Voiture “ and Scarron, for having so well described their « diminutive forms to posterity. He is peremptorily “ of opinion, against a great reader and all his “ adherents, that Æsop was not a jot properer or • handsomer than he is represented by the common “ pictures. But the soldier believes with the learned
person above-mentioned ; for he thinks none but
an impudent tall author could be guilty of such an “ unmannerly piece of satire on little warriors, as his “ battle of the mouse and the frog. The politician “ is very proud of a certain king of Egypt, called " Bocchor, who, as Diodorus assures us, was a per. son of a very
stature, but far exceeded all that “ went before him in discretion and politicks.
“ As I am secretary to the club, 'tis my business, “ whenever we meet, to take minutes of the trans. “ actions : this has enabled me to send you the fore.
going particulars, as I may hereafter other memoirs. “ We have spies appointed in every quarter of the “ town, to give us informations of the misbehaviour “ of such refractory persons as refuse to be subject " to our statutes. Whatsoever aspiring practices any “ of these our people, shall be guilty of in their “ amours, single combats, or any indirect means to “ manhood, we shall certainly be acquainted with, “ and publish to the world, for their punishment and “ reformation. For the president has granted me “ the sole propriety of exposing and shewing to the " town all such intractable dwarfs, whose circum“ stances exempt them from being carried about in “ boxes : reserving only to himself, as the right of
a poet, those smart characters that will shine in epigrams. Venerable Nestor, I salute you in the name of the club.
“ BOB SHORT, Secretary.”
SEPTEMBER 29, 1713.
Nec sera comantem
I LATELY took a particular friend of mine to my
house in the country, not without some apprehension that it could afford little entertainment to a man of his polite taste, particularly in architecture and gardening, who had so long been conversant with all that is beautiful and great in either. But it was a pleasant surprize to me, to hear him often declare he had found in my little retirement that beauty which he.. always thought wanting in the most celebrated seats (or, if you will, villas) of the nation. This he described to me in those verses with which Martial begins one of his epigrams :
Baiana nosti villa, Basse, Faustini,
Sed rure vero, barbaroque lætatur.. There is certainly something in the amiable simplicity of unadorned nature, that spreads over the mind a more noble sort of tranquillity, and a loftier sensation of pleasure, than can be raised from the nicer scenes of art.
This was the taste of the ancients in their gardens, as we may discover from the descriptions extant of them. The two most celebrated wits of the world have each of them left us a particular picture of a garden ; wherein those great masters being wholly unconfined, and painting at pleasure, may be thought to have given a full idea of what they esteemed most excellent in this way. These (one may observe) consist entirely of the useful part of horticulture, fruit trees, herbs, water, etc. The pieces I am speaking of are Virgil's account of the garden of the old Corycian, and Homer's of that of Alcinous in the seventh Odyssey, to which I refer the reader.
Sir William Temple has remarked, that this garden of Homer contains all the justest rules and provisions which can go toward composing the best gardens. Its extent was four acres, which, in those times of simplicity, was looked upon as a large one, even for a prince. It was inclosed all round for defence ; and for conveniency joined close to the gates of the palace.
He mentions next the trees, which were standards, and suffered to grow to their full height. The fine description of the fruits that never failed, and the eternal zephyrs, is only a more noble, and poetical way of expressing the continual succession of one fruit after another throughout the year.
The vineyard seems to have been a plantation distinct from the garden; as also the beds of greens mentioned afterwards at the extremity of the inclosure, in the usual place of our kitchen gardens.
The two fountains are disposed very remarkably, They rose within the inclosure, and were brought in by conduits or ducts; one of them to water all parts of the gardens, and the other underneath the palace into the town, for the service of the public.
How contrary to this simplicity is the modern practice of gardening? We seem to make it our study to recede from nature, not only in the various tonsure of greens into the most regular and formal shapes, but even in monstrous attempts beyond the reach of the art itself: we run into sculpture, and are yet better pleased to have our trees in the most aukward figures of men and animals, than in the most regular of their own.
Hinc et nexilibus videas e frondibus hortos, Implexos late muros, et mænia circum Porrigere, et latas e ramis surgere turres ; Deflexam et myrtum in puppes, atque ærea rostra; lu buxisque undare fretum, atque e rore rudentes. Parte alia frondere suis tentoria castris ; Scutaque, spiculaque, et jaculantia citria vallos. I believe it is no wrong observation, that persons of genius, and those who are most capable of art, are always most fond of nature; as such are chiefly sensible, that all art consists in the imitation and study of nature : on the contrary, people of common level of understanding are principally delighted with little niceties and fantastical operations of art, and constantly think that finest which is the least natural. A citizen is no sooner proprietor of a couple of yews, but he entertains the thought of erecting them into giants, like those of Guildhall. I know
an eminent cook, who beautified his country-seat with a coronation-dhner in greens, where you see the champion fourishing on horseback at one end of the table, and the queen in perpetual youth at the other.
For the benefit of all my loving countrymen of this curious taste, I shall here publish a catalogue of greens to be disposed of by an eminent town-gardener, who has lately applied to me on this head. He represents, that for the advancement of a politer sort of ornament in the villas and gardens adjacent to this great city, and in order to distinguish those places from the mere barbarous countries of gross nature, the world stands much in need of a virtuoso gardener,