Page images
PDF
EPUB

Fair recompense of labour well bestow'd,
And wise precaution; which a clime so rude
Makes needful still, whose Spring is but the child
Of churlish Winter, in her froward moods
Discov’ring much the temper of her sire.
For oft, as if in her the stream of mild
Maternal nature had revers'd its course,
She brings her infants forth with many smiles ;
But once deliver'd kills them with a frown.
He, therefore, timely warn'd, himself supplies
Her want of care, screening and keeping warm
The plenteous bloom, that no rough blast may sweep
His garlands from the boughs. Again, as oft
As the Sun peeps and vernal airs breathe mild,
The fence withdrawn, he gives them ev'ry beam,
And spreads his hopes before the blaze of day.

To raise the prickly and green-coated gourd,
So grateful to the palate, and when rare
So coveted, else base and disesteemid
Food for the vulgar merely--is an art
That toiling ages have but just matur'd,
And at this moment unassay'd in song.
Yet gnats have had, and frogs and mice long since,
Their eulogy; those sang the Mantuan bard,
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 pow'rs
Presuming an attempt not less sublime,
Pant for the praise of dressing to the taste
Of critic appetite, no sordid fare,
À cucumber, while costly yet and scarce.

The stable yields a stercoraceous heap,
Impregnated with quick fermenting salts,
And potent to resist the freezing blast:
For, ere the beech and elm have cast their leaf
Deciduous, when now November dark

Checks vegetation in the torpid plant
Expos'd to his cold breath, the task begins.
Warily therefore, and with prudent heed,
He seeks a favour'd spot; that where he builds
Th' agglomerated pile bis 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 litter'd 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,
Shelt'ring the base with its projected eaves;
Th’ uplifted frame, compact at ev'ry joint,
And overlaid with clear translucent glass,
He settles next upon the sloping mound,
Whose sharp declivity shoots off secure
From the dash'd 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 gath’ring in the midst, through the square mass
Diffus’d, attain the surface: when, behold!
A pestilent and most corrosive steam,
Like a gross fog Boeotian, rising fast,
And fast condens'd upon the dewy sash,
Asks

egress; which obtain'd, the overcharg'd
And drench'd conservatory breathes abroad,
In volumes wheeling slow, the yapour dank ;
And, purified, rejoices to have lost
Its foul inhabitant. But to assuage
Th' impatient fervour, which it first conceives
Within its reeking bosom, threat'ning 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 temper'd 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-prepar'd And fruitful soil, that has been treasur'd 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 immers’d. Then rise the tender germs, upstarting quick, And spreading wide their spongy lobes; at first Pale, wan, and livid; but assuming soon, If fann'd by balmy and nutritious air, Strain'd tlırough the friendly mats, a vivid green. Two leaves produc'd, two rough, indented leaves, Cautions 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.. Indulg’d in what they wish, they soon supply Large foliage, o’ershadowing golden fiow'rs, Blown on the summit of th' apparent fruit. These have their sexes! and, when summer shines, The bee transports the fertilizing meal From flow'r to flow'r, 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 num'rous 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 exercis'd, 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

flies,
Minute as dust, and numberless, oft work
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 learn'd 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 produc'd.

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 unwith'ring leaf
Shines there, and flourishes. The golden boast
Of Portugal and western India there,
The ruddier orange, and the paler lime,
Peep through their polish'd foliage at the storm,
And seem to smile at what they need not fear.
Th’amomum there with intermingling flow'rs
And cherries hangs her twigs. Geranium boasts
Her crimson honours; and the spangled beau,
Ficoides, glitters bright the winter

long. All plants, of ev'ry leaf, that can endure

The winter's frown, if screen’d from his shrewd bite, Live there, and prosper. Those Ausonia claims, Levantine regions these ; th’ Azores send Their jessamine, her jessamine remote Caffraia: foreigners from many lands, They form one social shade, as if conven'd 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 flow'r, 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 retir'd, but still Sublime above the rest, the statelier stand. So once were rang'd the sons of ancient Rome, A noble show! while Roscius trod the stage, And so, while Garrick, as renown'd 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 ev'ry flash of his far-beaming eye. Nor taste alone and well-contriv'd display Suffice to give the marshall'd 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, injur'd soon, not soon restor'd The soil must be renew'd, which often wash'd Loses its treasure of salubrious salts, And disappoints the roots ; the slender roots Close interwoven, where they meet the vase Must smooth be shorn away; the sapless branch Must fly before the knife; the wither'd leaf Must be detach'd, and where it strews the floor Swept with a woman's neatness, breeding else Contagion, and disseminating death. Discharge but these kind offices, (and who

« PreviousContinue »