Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

the satisfaction of looking round about him, and seeing nothing but the effects and improvements of his own art and diligence; to be always gathering of some fruits of it, and at the same time to behold others ripening, and others budding: to see all his fields and gardens covered with the beauteous creatures of his own industry; and to see, like God, that all his works are good :



"-Hinc atque hinc glomerantur Oreades; ipsi " Agricola tacitum pertentant gaudia pectus*."

On his heart-strings a secret joy does strike.

The Antiquity of his art is certainly not to be contested by any other. The three first men in the world, were a gardener, a ploughman, and a grazier; and if any man object that the second of these was a murtherer, I desire he would consider, that as soon as he was so, he quitted our profession, and turned builder. It is for this reason, I suppose, that Ecclesiasticus+ forbids us to hate husbandry; cause,” says he, “ the Most High has created it." We are all born to this art, and taught by nature to nourish our bodies by the same earth out of which they were made, and to which they must return, and pay at last for their sustenance.

Behold the original and primitive nobility of all

66 be

Virg. Æn. i, 504, &c.

+ Chap. vii. 15,

those great persons, who are too proud now, not only to till the ground, but almost to tread upon it. We may talk what we please of lilies, and lions rampant, and spread-eagles, in fields d'or or d'argent ; but, if heraldry were guided by reason, a plough in a field arable would be the most noble and ancient arms.

All these considerations make me fall into the wonder and complaint of Columella, how it should come to pass that all arts or sciences (for the dispute, which is an art, and which a science, does not belong to the curiosity of us husbandmen), metaphysick, physick, morality, mathematicks, logick, rhetorick, &c. which are all, I grant, good and useful faculties (except only metaphysick, which I do not know whether it be any thing or no), but even vaulting, fencing, dancing, attiring, cookery, carving, and such-like vanities, should all have publick schools and masters; and yet that we should never see or hear of any man, who took upon

him the profession of teaching this so pleasant, so virtuous, so profitable, so honourable, so necessary art.

A man would think, when he is in serious humour, that it were but a vain, irrational, and ridiculous thing for a great company of men and women to run up and down in a room together, in a hundred several postures and figures, to no purpose, and with no design ; and therefore dancing was invented first, and only practised anciently, in the ceremonies of the heathen religion, which con


sisted all in mommery and madness; the latter be ing the chief glory of the worship, and accounted divine inspiration : this, I say, a severe man would think; though I dare not determine so far against so customary a part, now, of good-breeding. And yet, who is there among our gentry, that does not entertain a dancing-master for his children, as soon as they are able to walk ? But, did ever any father provide a tutor for his son, to instruct him betimes in the nature and improvements of that land which he intended to leave him? That is at least a superfluity, and this a defect, in our manner of education; and therefore I could wish (but cannot in these times much hope to see it) that one college in each university were erected, and appropriated to this study, as well as there are to medicine and the civil law : there would be no need of making a body of scholars and fellows, with certain endowments, as in other colleges; it would suffice, if, after the manner of halls in Oxford, there were only four professors constituted (for it would be too much work for only one master, or principal, as they call him there) to teach these four parts of it: First, Aration, and all things relating to it. Secondly, Pasturage. Thirdly, Gardens, Orchards, Vineyards, and Woods. Fourthly, all parts of Rural Oeconomy; which would contain the government of Bees, Swine, Poultry, Decoys, Ponds, &c, and all that which Varro calls“ villaticas pastiones," together with the sports of the field (which ought to be looked

upon not only as pleasures, but as parts of house-. keeping), and the domestical conservation and uses of all that is brought in by industry abroad. The business of these professors should not be, as is commonly practised in other arts, only to read pompous and superficial lectures, out of Virgil's Georgics, Pliny, Varro, or Columella; but to instruct their pupils in the whole method and course of this study, which might be run through perhaps with diligence in a year or two; and the continual succession of scholars, upon a moderate taxation for their diet, lodging, and learning, would be a sufficient constant revenue for maintenance of the house and the

professors, who should be men not chosen for the ostentation of critical literature, but for solid and experimental knowledge of the things they teach; such men, so industrious and public-spirited, as I conceive Mr. Hartlib* to be, if the gentleman be yet alive: but it is needless to speak further of my thoughts of this design, unless the present disposition of the age allowed more probability of bringing it into execution. What I have further to say of the country life, shall be borrowed from the poets, who were always the most faithful and affectionate friends to it. Poetry was born among the shepherds.

* A gentleman, of whom it may be enough to say, that he had the honour to live in the friendship of Mede and Milton, The former of these great men addressed some letters to him., and the latter, his “Tractate on Education." HURD.

Nescio quâ natale solum dulcedine Musas

“ Ducit, & immemores non sinit esse sui *."

The Muses still love their own native place ; "T has secret charms, which nothing can deface,

The truth is, no other place is proper for their work; one might as well undertake to dance in a crowd, as to make good verses in the midst of noise and tumult.

As well might corn, as verse, in cities

grow; In vain the thankless glebe we plow and sow : Against th' unnatural soil in vain we strive; 'Tis not a ground in which these plants will thrive,

It will bear nothing but the nettles or thorns of satire, which grow most naturally in the worst earth; and therefore almost all poets, except those who -were not able to eat bread without the bounty of great men, that is, without what they could get by flattering of them, have not only withdrawn themselves from the vices and vanities of the grand world,

- pariter vitiísque jocísque Altius humanis exeruere caput t,

into the innocent happiness of a retired tife; but

* Ovid. 1 Ep. ex Pont. iii. 35.

+ Ovid. Fast. i. 300..

« ZurückWeiter »