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Of lubbard labour needs his watchful eye, Oft loit’ring lazily, if not o'erseen, Or misapplying his unskilful strength. Nor does he govern only or direct, But much performs himself. No works indeed, That ask robust, tough sinews, bred to toil, Servile employ ; but such as may amuse, Not tire, demanding rather skill than force. Proud of his well-spread walls, he views his trees That meet, no barren interval between, With pleasure more than e’en their fruits afford ; Which, save himself who trains them, none can feel. These therefore are his own peculiar charge ; No meaner hand may discipline the shoots, None but his steel approach them. What is weak, Distemper'd or has lost prolifick pow'rs, Impair'd by age, his unrelenting band Dooms to the knife: nor does he spare the soft And succulent, that feeds its giant growth, But barren, at th' expense of neihb’ring twigs Less ostentatious, and yet studded thick With hopeful gems. The rest, nó portion left That may disgrace his art, or disappoint Large expectation, he disposes neat At measur'd distances, that air and sun, Admitted freely, may afford their aid, And ventilate and warm the swelling buds. Hence Summer has her riches, Autumn hence, And hence e'en Winter fills his wither'l band With blushing fruits, and plenty not his own.*
** Miraturque novos fructus et non sua poma.'
Fair recompense of labour well bestow'd,
Aud 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The fence withdrawn, he gives them ev'ry beam,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 disesteemed
Food for the vulgar merely--is an art
That toiling ages have but just maturd,
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 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 scaree.
The stable yields a stercoraceous heap,
Impregnated with quick fermenting saits,
And potent to resist the freezing blast:
For, e'er the beech and elın 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 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 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 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!
A pestilent and most corrosive steam,
Like a gross fog Bæotian, rising fast,
And fast condens'd upon the dewy sash,
Asks egress ; which obtain'd, the overcharg'd
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, 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 fill?d 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,
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,
Must lend its aid tillustrate 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 musick from his lips,
And covetous of Shakspear'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
Looses its treasure of salubrious salts,
And disappoints the roots; the slender roots
Close interwoven, and where they meet the vase
Must smooth be shorn away ; the sapless branch
Must fly before the knife; the withep'd leaf
Must be detach’d, where it strews the floor
Swept with a woman's neatness, breeding else
Contagion, and disseminating death.
Discharge but these kind offices, (and wha