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And these the Grecian, in ennobling strains ;
And in thy numbers, Philips, shines for aye,
The solitary shilling. Pardon then,
Ye sage dispensers of poetic fame,
Th' ambition of one meaner far, whose powers,
Presuming an attempt not less sublime,
Pant for the praise of dressing to the taste
Of critic appetite, no sordid fare,
A cucumber, while costly yet and scarce.
The stable yields a stercoraceous heap,
Impregnated with quick fermenting salts,
And potent to resist the freezing biast:
For, e'er the beech and elm have cast their leaf
Deciduous, when now November dark
Checks vegetation in the torpid plant
Exposed to his cold breath, the task begins.
Warily therefore, and with prudent heed,
He seeks a favoured spot; that where he builds
Th’agglomerated pile his frame may front
The sun's meridian disk, and at the back
Enjoy close shelter, wall, or reeds, or hedge
Impervious to the wind. First he bids spread
Dry fern or littered hay, that may imbibe
Th’ascending damps; then leisurely impose,
And lightly, shaking it with agile hand
From the full fork, the saturated straw.
What longest binds the closest forms secure
The shapely side, that as it rises takes,
By just degrees, an overhanging breadth,
Sheltering the base with its projected eaves;
Th' uplifted frame, compact at every joint,
And overlaid with clear translucent glass, He settles next upon the sloping mount, Whose sharp declivity shoots off secure From the dashed pane the deluge as it falls. He shuts it close, and the first labour ends. Thrice must the voluble and restless Earth Spin round upon her axle, ere the warmth, Slow gathering in the midst, through the square mass Diffused, attain the surface : when, behold! A pestilent and most corrosive steam, Like a gross fog Bæotian, rising last, And fast condensed upon the dewy sash, Asks egress; which obtained, the overcharged And drenched conservatory breathes abroad, In volumes wheeling slow, the vapour dank; And, purified, rejoices to have lost Its foul inhabitant. But to assuage Th' impatient fervour, which it first conceives Within its reeking bosom, threatening death To his young hopes, requires discreet delay. Experience, slow preceptress, teaching oft The way to glory by miscarriage foul, Must prompt him, and admonish how to catch Th' auspicious moment, when the tempered heat, Friendly to vital motion, may afford Soft fomentation, and invite the seed. The seed, selected wisely, plump and smooth, And glossy, he commits to pots of size Diminutive, well filled with well-prepared And fruitful soil, that has been treasured long, And drank no moisture from the dripping clouds.
These on the warm and genial earth, that hides
The smoking manure, and o'erspreads it all,
He places lightly, and, as time subdues
The rage of fermentation, plunges deep
In the soft medium, till they stand immersed.
Then rise the tender germs, upstarting quick,
And spreading wide their spongy lobes ; at first
Pale, wan, and livid; but assuming soon,
If fanned by balmy and nutritious air,
Strained through the friendly mats, a vivid green.
Two leaves produced, two rough indented leaves,
Cautious he pinches from the second stalk
A pimple, that portends a future sprout,
And interdicts its growth. Thence straight succeed
The branches, sturdy to his utmost wish;
Prolific all, and harbingers of more.
The crowded roots demand enlargement now,
And transplantation in an ampler space.
Indulged in what they wish, they soon supply
Large foliage, overshadowing golden flowers,
Blown on the summit of th' apparent fruit.
These have their sexes! and, when summer shines,
The bee transports the fertilizing meal
From flower to flower, and e'en the breathing air
Wafts the rich prize to its appointed use.
Not so when winter scowls. Assistant Art
Then acts in Nature's office, brings to pass
The glad espousals, and ensures the crop.
Grudge not, ye rich, (since Luxury must have His dainties, and the World's more numerous half Lives by contriving delicates for you,)
Grudge not the cost. Ye little know the cares,
The vigilance, the labour, and the skill,
That day and night are exercised, and hang
Upon the ticklish balance of suspense,
That ye may garnish your profuse regales
With summer fruits brought forth by wintry suns.
Ten thousand dangers lie in wait to thwart
The process. Heat and cold, and wind, and steam,
Moisture and drought, mice, worms, and swarming
Minute as dust, and numberless, oft work [flies,
Dire disappointment, that admits no cure,
And which no care can obviate It were long,
Too long, to tell th' expedients and the shifts,
Which he that fights a season so severe
Devises, while he guards his tender trust;
And oft at last in vain. The learned and wise
Sarcastic would exclaim, and judge the song
Cold as its theme, and like its theme, the fruit
Of too much labour, worthless when produced.
Who loves a garden loves a green-house too.
Unconscious of a less propitious clime,
There blooms exotic beauty, warm and snug,
While the winds whistle, and the snows descend.
The spiry myrtle with unwithering leaf
Shines there, and flourishes.' The golden boast
Of Portugal and western India there,
The ruddier orange, and the paler lime,
Peep through their polished foliage at the storm,
And seem to smile at what they need not fear.
Th’amomuni there with intermingling flowers
And cherries hangs her twigs. Geranium boasts
Her crimson honours; and the spangled beau,
Ficoides, glitters bright the winter long.
All plants, of every leaf, that can endure
The winter's frown, if screened from his shrewd bite,
Live there, and prosper. Those Ausonia claims,
Levantine regions these ; th’ Azores send
Their jessamine, her jessamine remote
Caffraria ; foreigners from many lands,
They form one social shade, as if convened
By magic summons of th' Orphean lyre.
Yet just arrangement, rarely brought to pass
But by a master's hand; disposing well
The gay diversities of leaf and flower,
Must lend its aid t'illustrate all their charms,
And dress the regular yet various scene.
Plant behind plant aspiring, in the van
The dwarfish, in the rear retired, but still,
Sublime above the rest, the statelier stand.
So once were ranged the sons of ancient Rome,
A noble show! while Roscius trod the stage,
And so, while Garrick, as renowned as he,
The sons of Albion ; fearing each to lose
Some note of Nature's music from his lips,
And covetous of Shakspeare's beauty, seen
In every dash of his far-beaming eye.
Nor taste alone and well-contrived display
Suffice to give the marshalled ranks the grace
Of their complete effect. Much yet remains
Unsung, and many cares are yet behind,
And more laborious; cares on which depends
Their vigour, injured soon, not soon restored.