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Who, that has reason, and his smell,
Would not among roses and jasmine dwell,
Rather than all his spirits choke
With exhalations of dirt and smoke,
And all th' uncleanness which does drown,
In pestilential clouds, a populous town?
The earth itself breathes better perfumes here,
Than all the female men, or women there,
Not without cause, about them bear.
When Epicurus to the world had taught,
That pleasure was the chiefest good (And was, perhaps, i'th' right, if rightly understood),
His life he to his doctrine brought, '
And in a garden's shade that sovereign pleasure
Whoever a true epicure would be,
May there find cheap and virtuous luxury,
Vitellius's table, which did hold
As many creatures as the ark of old;
That fiscal table, to which every day
All countries did a constant tribute pay,
Could nothing more delicious afford
Than nature's liberality,
Help’d with a little art and industry,
Allows the meanest gardener's board.
The wanton taste no fish or fowl can choose,
For which the grape or melon she would lose;
Though all th' inhabitants of sea and air
Be listed in the glutton's bill of fare,
Yet still the fruits of earth we see
Plac'd the third story high in all her luxury.
But with no sense the garden does comply,
None courts, or flatters, as it does the eye.
When the great Hebrew king did almost strain
The wondrous treasures of his wealth and brain,
His royal southern guest to entertain ;
Though she on silver floors did tread,
With bright Assyrian carpets on them spread,
To hide the metal's poverty ;
Though she look'd up to roofs of gold,
And nought around her could behold
But silk and rich embroidery,
And Babylonish tapestry,
And wealthy Hiram's princely dye; Though Ophir's starry stones met every-where her
eye ; Though she herself and her
host were drest With all the shining glories of the East; When lavish art her costly work had done,
The honour and the prize of bravery Was by the garden from the palace won ; And every rose and lily there did stand
Better attir'd by nature's hand *. The case thus judg'd against the king we see, By one that would not be so rich, though wiser far
Nor does this happy place only dispense
Such various pleasures to the sense ;
Here health itself does live,
That salt of life, which does to all a relish give, 7
Its standing pleasure, and intrinsick wealth,
The body's virtue, and the soul's good-fortune,
The tree of life, when it in Eden stood,
Did its immortal head to heaven rear ;
It lasted a tall cedar, till the flood ;
Now a small thorny shrub it does appear ;
Nor will it thrive too every-where:
It always here is freshest seen ;
”T is only here an ever-green.
If, through the strong and beauteous fence
Of temperance and innocence,
And wholesome labours, and a quiet mind,
Any diseases passage find,
They must not think here to assail
A land unarmed, or without a guard ;
They must fight for it, and dispute it hard,
Before they can prevail :
Scarce any plant is growing here,
Which against death some weapon does not bear.
Let cities boast that they provide
For life the ornaments of pride ;
But 't is the country and the field,
That furnish it with staff and shield.
Where does the wisdom and the power divine
In a more bright and sweet reflection shine .
Where do we finer strokes and colours sce
Of the Creator's real poetry,
Than when we with attention look
Upon the third day's volume of the book?
If we could open and intend our eye,
We all, like Moses, should espy
Ev'n in a bush the radiant Deity.
But we despise these his inferior ways
(Though no less full of miracle and praise) :
Upon the flowers of heaven we gaze ;
The stars of earth no wonder in us raise,
Though these perhaps do, more than they,
The life of mankind sway.
Although no part of mighty nature be
More stor'd with beauty, power, and mystery ;
Yet, to encourage human industry,
God has so order'd, that no other part
Such space and such dominion leaves for art.
We no-where Art do so triumphant see,
As when it grafts or buds the tree : In other things we count it to excel, If it a docile scholar can appear To Nature, and but imitate her well; 'It over-rules, and is her master, here. It imitates her Maker's power divine, [fine : And changes her sometimes, and sometimes does reIt does, like grace, the fallen tree restore To its bless'd state of Paradise before : Who would not joy to see his conquering hand O'er all the vegetable world command ?
And the wild giants of the wood receive
What law he's pleas'd to give?
He bids th' ill-natur'd crab produce
The gentler apple's winy juice;
The golden fruit, that worthy is
Of Galatea's purple kiss :
He does the savage hawthorn teach
To bear the medlar and the pear :
He bids the rustick plum to rear
A noble trunk, and be a peach.
Ev'n Daphne's coyness he does mock,
And weds the cherry to her stock,
Though she refus'd Apollo's suit;
Ev'n she, that chaste and virgin tree,
Now wonders at herself, to see
That she's a mother made, and blushes in her
Methinks, I see great Dioclesian walk
In the Salonian garden's noble shade,
Which by his own imperial hands was made:
I see him smile, methinks, as he does talk
With the ambassadors, who come in vain
Tentice him to a throne again.
If I, my friends (said he), should to you show
All the delights which in these gardens grow,
'T is likelier much, that you
should with me stay, Than't is, that you
should carry me away: And trust me not, my friends, if, every day,