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Or dives not for it, or brings up instead, · Vainly industrious, a disgraceful prize.
The morning finds the self-sequester'd man Fresh for his task, intend what task he may. Whether inclement seasons recommend His warm but simple home, where he enjoys With her, who shares his pleasures and his heart, Sweet converse, sipping calm the fragrant lymph, Which neatly she prepares; then to his book Well chosen, and not sullenly perused In selfish silence, but imparted oft, As aught occurs, that she may smile to hear, Or turn to nourishment, digested well. Or if the garden, with its many cares, All well repaid, demand him, he attends The welcome call, conscious how much the hand Of lubbard labour needs his watchful eye, Oft loitering 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 prolific powers, Impair'd by age, his unrelenting hand Dooms to the knife: nor does he spare the soft And succulent, that feeds its giant growth, But barren, at th' expense of neighbouring twigs Less ostentatious, and yet studded thick With hopeful gems. The rest, no portion left That may disgrace his art, or disappoint Large expectation, he disposes neat
At measured 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'd hand
With blushing fruits, and plenty not his own.*
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
Discovering much the temper of her sire.
For oft, as if in her the stream of mild
Maternal nature had reversed 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 every 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 disesteem'd,
Food for the vulgar merely, is an art
That toiling ages have but just matured,
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, Phillips, shines for aye
The solitary Shilling. Pardon then,
Ye sage dispensers of poetic fame,
The 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.5
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 Exposed to his cold breath, the task begins. Warily, therefore, and with prudent heed, He seeks a favour'd spot; that where he builds The 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 The 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 ; The 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 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 gathering in the midst, through the square mass Diffused, attain the surface : when, behold! A pestilent and most corrosive steam, Like a gross fog Boeotian, rising fast, And fast condensed upon the dewy sash, Asks egress ; which obtain'd, the overcharged And drench'd conservatory breathes abroad, In volumes wheeling slow, the vapour dank ; And, purified, rejoices to have lost Its foul inhabitant. But to assuage The 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
The 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 filld 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 ; hut assuming soon,
If fann'd by balmy and nutritious air,
Strain'd 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 into ampler space.
Indulged in what they wish, they soon supply
Large foliage, overshadowing golden flowers,
Blown on the summit of the apparent fruit.
These have their sexes ! and, when summer shines,
The bee transports the fertilizing meal
From flower to flower, and even 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 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 the 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 produced.
Who loves a garden loves a greenhouse 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 polish'd foliage at the storm,
And seem to smile at what they need not fear.
The amomum 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 screen'd from his shrewd bite,
Live there, and prosper. Those Ausonia claims,
Levantine regions these ; the Azores send