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carelessness or ignorance of its nurse, shall be brought in, at the best, as plant-slaughter.
It has not been attempted to make a complete catalogue of every plant that may be reared in a pot or tub, but such have been selected as are the most frequently so cultivated; and such as are most desirable for beauty of form or colour, luxuriance of foliage, sweetness of perfume, or from interesting or poetical associations with their history. In the belief that lovers of nature are most frequently admirers of beauty in any form, such anecdotes or poetical passages are added, relating to the plants mentioned, as appeared likely to interest them.
To avoid endless repetition, some few general observations are subjoined, but only such as are really general; and they will not be found to render a variety of references necessary for the treatment of one plant, a necessity which it is the chief aim of this little work to set aside. It is hoped that any person desiring to know the treatment proper for this or that plant, will find all the information necessary under its particular head. The General 06servations are comprised in so small a compass, that the merely reading them over will probably be found sufficient.
The love of flowers is a sentiment common alike to the great and to the little; to the old and to the young; to the learned and the ignorant, the illustrious and the obscure. While the simplest child may take delight in them, they may also prove a recreation to the most profound philosopher. Lord Bacon himself did not disdain to bend his mighty intellect to the subject of their culture.
Lord Burleigh also found recreation from the cares of state in his flower-garden. Ariosto, although utterly ignorant of botanical science, took even an infantine pleasure in his little garden; and we are informed by his son, that after sowing a variety of seeds, he would watch eagerly for
the springing of the plants, would cherish the first
of vegetation, and having for many days watered and tended the young plant, discover at last that he had bestowed all this tenderness upon a weed; a weed, perhaps, which had choked the plant for which he had mistaken it.
“Nelle cose de' giardini teneva il modo medesimo, che nel far de versi, perche mai non lasciava cosa alcuna che piantasse più di tre mesi in un loco'; e se piantava anime di persiche, o semente di alcuna sorte, andava tante volte a vedere se germogliava, che finalmente, rompea il germoglio: e perche avea poco cognizione d'erba, il più delle volte prossumea che qualunque erba, che nascesse vicina alla cosa seminata da esso, fosse quella ; la custodiva con diligenza grande sin tanto che la cosa fosse ridotta a' termini, che, non accascava averne dubbio. I'mi ricordo, ch'avendo seminato de' capperi, ogni giorno andava a vederli, e stava con una allegrezza grande di cosi bella nascione. Finalmente trovo ch' eran sambuchi, e che de' capperi non n'eran nati alcuni.”
“ He treated his garden as he did his verses, never leaving any thing three months in the same place. Whenever he planted or sowed any thing, he went so often to see if it sprouted, that at last he broke the shoot: and having little knowledge of plants, he took any leaves that appeared near the place where he had sown his seeds for the plants sown, and tended them with the greatest diligence, till his mistake was clear beyond doubt. I remember once when he had sown some capers, he went every day to look at them, and was delighted to see them thrive so well. At last he found these thriving plants were young elders, and that none of the capers had appeared.”
NOTES BY VIRGINIO ARIOSTO, FOR A LIFE OF HIS FATHER.
Who can read this anecdote of so great a man, and not feel an additional interest in him! In how amiable a light it represents him! Was a cruel, unfeeling, or selfish man ever known to take pleasure in working in his own garden? Surely not. This love of nature in detail (if the expression may be allowed) is an union of affection, good taste, and natural piety.
How amiable a man was Cowper !—and Evelyn, too, and Evelyn's friend, Cowley, who addressed to him a poem entitled The Garden. Gessner also is represented as of a kindred sweetness of nature. They all worked in their own gardens; and with enthusiastic pleasure.
Barclay, the author of the Argenis, rented a house near the Vatican, in Rome, with a garden in which he planted the choicest flowers, principally such as grow from bulbs, which had never been seen in Rome before. He was extremely fond of flowers, particularly of the bulbous kind, which are prized chiefly for their colours, and purchased the bulbs at a high price*.
Pope had the same taste, and was assisted in his horticultural amusements by Lord Peterborough. One of the most interesting descriptions of him represents him as being seen before dinner in a small suit of black, very neat and gentlemanly, with a basket in his hand containing flowers for the Miss Blounts. Rousseau, who has written some interesting Letters on Botany, of which among his other accomplishments he was master, found friends in the flowers, when he thought he had no others. Even his great rival Voltaire, who if he had more wit had much less sentiment, soothed his irritability and cherished his benevolence in his garden; and one, "greater than he,” and whom I mention in the same page with
any thing but an irreverent or unchristian feeling, said the noblest thing of a flower that ever was uttered: “Behold the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.” (Matthew, chap. vi. v. 28, 297.) How surely would Solomon himself have
* See Beckmann's History of Inventions, vol. i.
† Some have supposed that the flower to which Jesus alluded must have been the Tulip; as if it were necessary for it to be really gaudy or gorgeous before it could be set above the splendour of royalty! This may be called the art of divesting sentiment of its sentiment.
agreed with this beautiful speech! for that his “ wise heart” loved the flowers, the lily especially, is evident from numerous passages in his Song. The object of his love in claiming a supreme degree of beauty, exclaims, “ I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valley."
The Emperor Dioclesian preferred his garden to a throne:
“ Methinks I see great Dioclesian walk
In the Salonian garden's noble shade,
Sir W. Temple desired to have his heart buried in his garden.
Lope de Vega appears to have been a lover of gardens. “ As he is mentioned more than once," says Lord Holland, , “ by himself and his encomiasts, employed in trimming a garden, we may collect that he was fond of that occupation. Indeed his frequent description of parterres and fountains, and his continual allusion to flowers, justify his assertion
- that his garden furnished him with ideas, as well as vegetables and amusement*.?”
The French poet Ronsard was evidently a lover of
* See Life of Lope de Vega, vol. i. page 93.
flowers, as may be seen in his poems, particularly of the Rose, and the Violet, which he calls the flower of March; these he has introduced repeatedly:
“ Two flowers I love, the March-flower and the rose,
The lovely rose that is to Venus dear *.”
Ovid was, as might be expected, a lover of gardens, and by a passage in one of his poems appears to have been fond of writing in them. It is in his Tristia, where he is regretting, during his voyage to the place of his exile, the delight he used to feel in composing his verses under the genial sky, and among the domestic comforts of his native country: “ Non hæc in nostris, ut quondam, scribimus hortis,
Nec, consuete, meum, lectule, corpus habes :
Ipsaque cæruleis charta feritur aquis.
Lib. i. Eleg. 11.
With thee, dear couch, to finish the delight:
To see me dare to write for all his threatening roar.” Ovid is so fond of flowers, that, in the account of the Rape of Proserpine in his Fasti, he devotes several lines to the enumeration of the flowers gathered by her attendants. Mr. Gibbon is very angry with him for it: “Can it be believed,” says he, “ that the Rape of Proserpine should
be described in two verses, when the enumeration of the : flowers which she gathered in the garden of Eden had just
* See Mr. Cary's Translation in the London Magazine, vol. v. page 507.