Page images
PDF
[ocr errors]

And hence e'en Winter fills his wither'd hand
With blushing fruits, and plenty not his own*
Fair recompense of labour well bestow'd,

430
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 440
The plenteous bloom, that no rough blast may sweep
His garland 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The fence withdrawn, he gives them ev'ry beam,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 spread his hopes before the blaze of day. 445

To raise the prickly and green-coated gourd,
So grateful to the palate, and when rare,
So coveted, else base and disesteem'd-
Food for the vulgar merely—is an art
That toiling ages have but just matur’d,

450
And at this moment unessay'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 dye a 455
The solitary shilling. Pardon, then,
Ye sage dispensers of poetick 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 critick appetite, no sordid fare,
A cucumber, while costly yet and scarce.

The stable yields a stercoraceous heap,

[ocr errors]

*Miraturque novos fructus et non sua poma. Virg.

Impregnated with quick fermenting salts,
And potent to resist the freezing blast:

465
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, 470
He seeks a favour'd 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. 475
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 : 480
The shapely side, that as it rises takes,
By just degrees, an overhanging breath, d .
Sheltring 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 mount,
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!

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Like a gross fog Beotian, 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 slew the vapour dank; O

500

Its foul inhabitant. But to assuage

[ocr errors]

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 505
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 fill’d with well-prepar'd
And fruitful soil, that has been treasur'd long,
And drank no moisture from the dripping clouds. 515
. 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.

520
Then rise the tender germs, upstarting quick
And spreading wide their spongy lobes; at first
Pale, fan, and livid; but assuming soon,
If fann’d by balmy and nutritious air,
Strain’d through the friendly mats, a vivid green. 525
Two leaves produc'd, 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;

530 Prolifick 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, overshadowing golden flow'rs, 535 Blown on the summit of the 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.

540 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 545 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,

550 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,

555 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 i 560 Devises while he guards his tender trust; And oft at last in vain. The learn'd and wise, Sarcastick, would exclaim, and judge the song Cold as its theme, and like its theme the fruit Of too much labour, worthless when produc'd.

565 Who loves a garden loves a green house too. Unconscious of a less propitious clime, There blooms exotick beauty, warm and snug, While the winds whistle and the snows descend, The spiry myrtle with unwith’ring leaf

570 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. 575 The amomum there with intermingling flow'rs

[ocr errors]

6 And oherries häng 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

580
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 jassamine, her jessamine remote
Caffraria: foreigners from many lands,
They form one social shade, as if conven'd
By magick 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,

590 Must lend its aid to 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.

595 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 musick from his lips, And covetous of Shakspeare's beauty, seen In ev'ry flash of his far-beaming eyego Nor taste alone and well-contriv'd display Suffice to give the marshallid ranks the grace Of their complete effect. Much yet remains Unsung, and many cares are yet behind, And more laborious; cares on which depend Their yigour, 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

600

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »