ePub 版


And music of her woods-no works of man
Can rival these: these all bespeak a power
Peculiar, and exclusively her own.
O how canst thou renounce the boundless store

Of charms, which nature to her votary yields ?
The warbling woodland, the resounding shore,

The pomp of groves and garniture of fields;
All, that the genial ray of morning gilds,

And all, that echoes to the song of even;
All, that the mountain's sheltering bosom shields,

And all the dread magnificence of heaven;
O how can’st thou renounce, and hope to be forgiven!


From these general observations on the natural beauties of the country, it is an easy step to those decorations of Art with which the man of true taste can enliven and improve even the charming scenes of Nature; and which, so far from excluding cultivation for mere decoration, or the useful for the agreeable, often happily associate them both. Thus in Thomson's fine description of the retirement of Sir Industry, in his Castle of Indolence, he has united culture and ornament, or,

in other words, has given us a happy sketch of • The modern Art of Gardening:

Nor from his deep retirement banished was
Th’amusing care of rural industry.
Still, as with grateful change the seasons pass,
New scenes arise, new landscapes strike the eye,
And all th' enlivened country beautify:
Gay plains extend where marshes slept before;
O'er recent meads th' exulting streamlets fly;

Dark frowning heaths grow bright with Ceres' store, And woods imbrown the steep, or wave along the shore.

As nearer to the farm you made approach,
He polished Nature with a finer hand :
Yet on her beauties durst not Art encroach,
"T'is Art's alone those beauties to expand.

In graceful dance immingled, o'er the land,
Pan, Paleas, Flora, and Pomona played :
Here, too, brisk gales the rude wild common fand:

A happy plaee ; where free, and unafraid, Amid the flowery brakes each coyer creature strayed. The poets, in every age, have been enraptured with the beauties of a garden, how various soever their ideas of its constituent parts. The Elysian Fields, those sweet regions of poetry, are adorned with all that Fancy can imagine to be delightful. Homer describes the garden of Alcinous in the richest poetry; and Ovid wanders with rapture through his Thessalian Tempe. Lucan is represented by Juvenal as reposing in his garden. Horace prayed for a villa where there was a garden, a rivulet, and a grove; and Virgil languished for the enjoyment of rivers and woods, and the cool vallies of Mount Hæmus. Of all my works,' said Pope, 'I am most proud of my garden.' And the great, the profound Descartes, whose mind was, at all times, in a state of perpetual serenity, amused his summer evenings in the cultivation of a small garden, which was an appendage to his house at Amsterdam. Thus, as his biographer finely remarks, having settled the place of a planet in the morning, he would amuse himself, in the evening, by watering a flower! 'I louk upon the pleasure, we take in a garden,' says that amiable and excellent man, who first brought philosophy from the schools, as one of the most innocent delights in human life. It is naturally apt to fill the mind with calmness and tranquillity, and to lay all its turbulent passions at rest. It gives us a great insight into the contrivance and wisdom of providence, and, suggesting innumerable subjects for meditation, I cannot but think, that the

Used by Spenser for found : it is still retained in Scotland.

very complacency and satisfaction, which a man takes in these pleasures, is, in itself, a virtuous habit of the mind.'

Some of the most interesting and delightful pas. sages in Milton, are those in which he represents the happy pair employed in cultivating their blissful abode. The love of our first mother for the products of nature is beautifully instanced in that passage of the eighth book, where Eve, perceiving the Angel and Adam about to enter into high and abstruse converse, rose from her seat and went forth,

Among her fruits and flowers ; To visit how they prospered, bud and bloom Her pursery ; they at her coming sprung, And touched by her fair dalliance gladlier grew, And when she learns, that she must quit that delightful Paradise, in which she had tasted so much happiness, how exquisitely beautiful and pathetic is her lamentation !

* Must I then leave thee, Paradise !—Thus leave
Thee, native soil, these happy walks and shades,
Fit haunt of Gods, where I had hoped to spend
Quiet, though sad, the respite of that day,
That must be mortal to us both ?-0 flowers,
That never will in other climate grow,
My early visitation and my last
At even, which I bred up with tender hand
From the first opening bud, and gave you names !
Who now shall rear yon to the sun, or rank
Your tribes, and water from the ambrosial fount?--
Thee, lastly, nuptial bower, by me adorned
With what to sight or smell was sweet : from thee
How shall I part ?- and whither wander down
In a lower world, to this, obscure
And wild ?-How shall we breathe in other air

Less pure, accustomed to immortal fruits? Tasso pictures Rinaldo sitting beneath the shade in a fragrant meadow: Virgil describes Anchises seated beneath sweet-scented bay-trees; and Æneas

as reclining, remote from all society, in a deep and winding valley. Gassendi, who ingrafted the doctrine of Galileo on the theory of Epicurus, took not greater pleasure in feasting his youthful imagination by gazing on the moon, than Cyrus, in the cultivation of flowers. I have measured, dug and planted, the large. garden, which I have at the Gate of Babylon,' said that Prince; "and never, when my health permit, do I dine until I have laboured two hours in my garden: if there is nothing to be done; I labour in my orchard.” Cyrus is also said to have planted all the Lesser Asia..-Ahasuerus was accustomed to quit the charms of the banquet to indulge the luxury of his bower; and the conqueror of Mithridates enjoyed the society of his friends, and the wine of Falernium, in the splendid gardens, which were an honour to his name.. Dion gave a pleasure-garden to Speucippus as a mark of peculiar regard. - Linnæus studied in a bower; Buffon in his summer-house; and when Demetrius Poliorcetes took the Island of Rhodes, he found Protogenes at his palette, painting in his arbour. Petrarch, was never happier, than when indulging the innocent pleasures of his garden. 'I have made myself. two, says he, in one of his Epistles: "I do not imagine: they are to be equalled in all the world: I should feel myself inclined to be angry with fortune, if: there were any so beautiful out of Italy'.!

Virgil,, too, as appears from his Georgicsy. was. not only highly captivated, with rural scenes, but a great cultivator of them. In the fourth book of the Georgics, he seems to lament, that the limits. of his subject would not permit him to sing of gardens. He gives us pleasure, however, in a rapid and delightful sketch of horticulture, and the

See the Philosophy of Nature, Vol. I. pp. 111,.120.

affecting episode of a venerable old man, happy in cultivating and adorning a few barren and forsaken acres. What the Roman poet regretted he could not do, was performed in the 17th century by father Rapin, who wrote a poem on gardens, in the language, and sometimes in the style of Virgil. But his poem, which is didactic, treats only of the mechanical part of the Art of Gardening. He has entirely forgotten the most essential part, that which seeks, in our sensations and sentiments, for the source of those pleasures which the beauties of Nature inspire, when improved and perfected by Art. In a word, his gardens are the gardens of the architect; but not the delicious haunts of the philosopher, the painter, and the poet.

Thomson, in his charming poem of the Seasons, has not been content with the most luxuriant descriptions of rural scenes, but has deduced from them the most sublime, moral, and religious themes. Shenstone transferred his fine poetical paintings to his few paternal acres, and made them flourish there in the most beautiful reality. And since his time, the abbé de Lille in France, and our countryman-Mason, have published regular didactic poems on the modern Art of Gardering, in which they have enlivened the dryness of preceptive poetry by all the captivating powers

Of • music, image, sentiment, and thought,
Never to die!

[merged small][ocr errors]

Mr. Mason begins his admirable poem with an invocation to Simplicity, as the inseparable attendant on genuine beauty and unaffected grace. He likewise invokes the two sister arts of Poetry and Painting to promote a kindred art; an art in which the attributes of both are engaged.

« 上一頁繼續 »