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'Ες ήθη γαία Ρώσων, ως ωραία γήθησε.
My garden takes up half my daily care,
HARTE. It was said of Burke, that no one could stand under the same gateway with him, during a shower of rain, without discovering that he was an extraordinary man ; a very consolatory assertion to the inhabitants of London, who were not, perhaps, previously aware that any discovery could be made, or pleasant association awakened during that most irksome period, when they are huddled with strange companions under the shelter of a low arch, gazing listlessly at the rushing and wrangling kennel, or walking to the back of the covered way to exchange weeping looks with the sky. In that ten minutes of London's suspended animation, all is desolation and gloom : the deserted street is a wide waste of bubbles and mud; from the unimbibing flag-stones the discoloured drops scramble into the gutter to disembogue themselves into a feculent and stercoraceous receptacle, whither the imagination refuses to follow them :-now and then the loud pattering on an umbrella announces the approach of some sturdy pedestrian who hurries by, and the cheerless prospect is again confined to mud and stones, until a hackney-coach rattles past with its lame and dripping cattle, while the flap-hatted driver holds his head on one side to avoid the pelting of the storm, utterly indifferent to the upheld fingers of the shop-and-alley-imprisoned women, or the impatient calls of appointment-breaking men ; signals to which, but half an hour before, he would have been all eye, all ear. No delectable associations, either natural or literary, spring up to alleviate the tedium of such a detention as we have been describing; for even the recollection of Swift's imitative description of a cityshower will but aggravate the annoyances of our situation, by the fidelity with which he has pourtrayed the scene. How different the effect of a shower in the country! We have already noticed the air of enjoyment with which the trees droop down their branches to be fed, and the silent satisfaction with which the thirsty earth drinks in the refreshing moisture; but there is scarcely a drop of rain which we may not moralize into as many conceits as Jaques summoned up from the tears of the poor wounded stag. Are we in a puerile mood, we may forthwith realise that most palatable conception of Mother Bunch, by which our youthful imaginations have been so often raised to ecstasy, is it not the Tale of Prince Florizel?) wherein the discriminating fairy rewards her obedient children, by sammoning from the air a shower of tarts and cheesecakes, a prodigy which we can thus easily accomplish with the wand of fancy. The limpid drops destined to feed the corn whence the flour is obtai d, and expand the pulp of the currant, raspberry, or gooseberry, which is to be enshrined in its paste, are clearly the primal though unconcocted elements of the feast which Mrs. Bunch, (away with the disrespectful term mother!) perfected amid the magical ovens of the sky, and showered down into the upturned mouths of her infantine worshippers. Every fall of rain is, in fact, a new supply from the great ante-natal infinite of pastry:
Are we poetically inclined in our combinations, there is not a drop from which imagination may not extract beauty and melody, by pursuing it into the labyrinth of some “ bosky dell” or dark umbrageous nook, only lighted up by the yellow eyes of the primrose; or we may convert it into a little crystal bark, suffering our fancies to float upon it adown some guggling rivulet, under a canopy of boughs, and between banks of flowers, nodding, like Narcissus, at their own image in the water, and so sailing along in the moonlight to the accompaniment of its own music, we may realize Coleridge's
“ Hidden brook
By patience and perseverance the leaf of the mulberry-tree becomes satin; the rain which we shake from our feet may be metamorphosed into that leaf, and ultimately revisit them in the form of silk stockings. By anticipating the silent elaborations of Nature, and following up her processes, we may substantiate the dreams of those poets and Oriental writers who tell of roses, jonquils, and violets falling from the sky, for almost every one of the globules of rain may be a future flower. Absorbed by the thirsty roots, it may be converted into sap, and working its way into the flower-stalk, may, in process of time, assume the form of petals, turning their fragrant lips upwards to bless the sky, whence they originally descended. Or, are we disposed to contemplate the shower with a more exalted anticipation, we bave but to recollect that all flesh is grass, and the inevitable converse of the proposition, that all grass is destined to become flesh, either animal or human, and straitway the rain becomes instinct with vitality, and we may follow each drop through its vegetable existence as pasture into the ribs of some future prize ox; or into the sparkling eye of its proprietor, some unborn Mr. Coke or Lord Somerville standing proudly by its side; or into the heart of a Milton, the blood of a Hampden, or the brain of a Bacon. Thus in a passing shower may we unconsciously be pelted with the component parts of bulls and sheep, poets, patriots, and philosophers--a fantastical speculation perhaps, but it is better than shivering at the end of an alley in Holborn without thinking of any thing, or flattening one's nose against the pane of a coffee-house window in splenetic vacancy.
Having mentioned the name of Bacon, let us not omit to record his
assertion, that " when ages grow to civility and eleganey, men come to build stately, sooner than to garden finely; as if gardening were the greater perfection :” a remark no less honourable to the noble science of horticulture, than historically accordant with fact. Our own pre-eminence at the present moment may be adduced in confirmation; and it is no slight evidence of advancing civilization in China, that they have become not less enthusiastic than expert in the cultivation of flowers. Scarce European plants command higher prices at Pekin than could be obtained for any Chinese production in London. But we have rambled and preluded till the shower is over, and we may now again venture out into the garden. This Fig-tree suggests the passing remark, that although the sexual system of plants owes its establishment chietly to Linnæus, the fact was well known to the ancients. The Date-palm, in all ages a primary object of cultivation, bears barren and fertile flowers upon separate trees; and the Greeks soon discovered, that to have abundant and well-flavoured fruit, it was expedient to plant both together. Without this arrangement dates have no
kernel, and are not good fruit. In the Levant the same process is practised on the Pistacia and fig. This gall which has fallen from our young oak, is a tumour or disease in the tree, and will ultimately become animated by myriads of insects. Galls for making ink are the oak-apples of a Levant Quercus, different from any
of ours. Yonder is the Holly, from whose bark the treacherous bird-lime is prepared. Poets have bewailed the hard fate of the eagle, whose wing had furnished the plume of the arrow by which he was shot ;--why have they not melodised in verse the perfidious treatment of linnets and robins, whose natural perch is thus converted into a snare to rob them of their life and liberty ? In passing this Vine, so fertile in all pleasant and hilarious associations, we may record that Dr. Hales, by affixing tubes to the stump of one which he had cut off in April, found that the sap rose twenty-one feet high, whence we may form some notion of the moisture which these plants absorb from the earth, and brew into wine, in their minute vessels, for the recreation and delight of man. The village-clock striking the hour of eleven, reminds me of one remarkable circumstance which I might otherwise have omitted to notice--that it is a number totally unknown in botany, no plant, tree, shrub, or flower having yet been discovered in which the corolla has eleven males. The prevalence of the Polyandrian system among plants is attested by the singular fact, that out of 11,500 species of plants enumerated in the first thirteen classes of the Cambridge collection, there is not one, bearing barren and fertile flowers, in which the females exceed the males.
“In the royal ordering of gardens,” says Bacon, “there ought to be a garden for every month in the year,” by the adoption of which recommendation, even in private pleasure-grounds, we might secure to ourselves the enjoyment of a perpetual bloom, placing ourselves, as it were, beneath the cornucopia of Flora to be crowned with a perennial garland. Even when the evergreens in the depth of winter refute their own name, and present nothing to the eye but waving tufts of snow, we may perpetuate the summer landscape by turning our glance inward, and recalling the floweryness and green overgrowth of the past season :-or in the midst of leafless shrubs and trees, whose fleshless bones are wrapped in snow, like skeletons in their winding-sheets, we may call around us all their verdant glories by anticipating the garniture of the following spring, in the manner of which Cowper has afforded so beautiful an example :
These naked shoots,
Shall boast new charms, and more than they have lost.
MUSIC OF POLITICS.
Plato de Repub. 1. iv. THERE, Mr. Editor," I give you in three,” to make a good translation of this Greek. I've tried my hand on it in vain. The first version I made stood thus, “ A change of measures is apt to breed revolutions in the state :” but exclusively of a natural dislike to the term measures (which is but a tailor-like sort of a word), the passage has too much the air of a truism : then, it savours something of the thick and thin ministerialist; and to tell you a secret, I have not as yet found my place in the ranks of that class of politicians. There was nothing, therefore, to do, but to give a dash of the pen through the line, and begin again. My second attempt was as follows, “When a minister takes a crotchet in his head, let him look that he does not endanger the constitution.” Upon the whole, this renders the sense of the original with sufficient spirit, and is not so much amiss; but then it is too radical for the “ New Monthly," and