« PreviousContinue »
Nor dare, ungrateful, to resign
A scene so beauteous, so divine.
pur suits, the country is any thing but dull. Goethe represents his hero as recovering from a fit of melan choly in the country, and as being interested and elevated by the objects around him. I lie down in the tall grass, near a falling brook, and close to the earth a thousand variety of grasses become perceptible. When I listen to the hum of the little world between the stubble, and see the countless indescribable forms of the worms and insects, I feel the presence of the Almighty who has created us ; the breath of the All-benevolent, who supports us in perpetual enjoyment.
No good heart can read the following beautiful picture of a “fair and happy milk-maid,” given by Sir Thomas Overbury, without being highly delighted. There is scarcely a passage in the English language which inspires the mind of the reader with so many pleasing recollections, and which spreads so calm and purifying a delight over the spirit
, as it broods over the idea of the innocent girl, whose image Sir Thomas has here bodied forth. “It will scent all the year long of June, like a new-made hay-cock."
“A fair and happy milk-maid, is a country wench, that is so far from making herself beautiful by art, that one look of her's is able to put all face-physic out of countenance. She knows a fair look is but a dumb orator to commend virtue, therefore minds it not. All her excellencies stand in her so silently, as if they had stolen upon her without her knowledge. The lining of her apparel, which is herself, is far better than outsides of tissue ; for though she be not arrayed in the spoil of the silk-worm, she is decked in innocence, a far better wearing. She doth not, with lying long in bed, spoil both her complexion and conditions : nature hath taught her, too, immoderate sleep is rust to the soul; she rises therefore with Chanticlere, her dame's cock, and at night makes the lamb her curfew. In milking 'her cow, and straining the teats through her fingers, it seems that so sweet a milk-press makes the milk whiter or sweeter; for never came almond-glove or aromatick ointment on her palm to taint it. The golden ears of corn fall and kiss her feet when she reaps them, as if they wished to be bound and led prisoners by the same hand that felled them. Her breath is her own, which scents all the year long of June, like a new-made haycock. She makes her hand hard with labour, and her heart soft with pity; and when winter evenings fall early, sitting at her merry wheel, she sings defiance to the giddy wheel of fortune. She doth all things with so sweet a grace, it seems ignorance will not suffer her to do ill, being her mind is to do well. She bestows her year's wages at next fair, and in chusing
her garments, counts no bravery in the world like decency. The garden and beehive are all her physic and surgery, and she lives the longer for it. She dares go alone, and unfold the sheep in the night, and fears no manner of ill, beeause she means none; yet, to say truth, she is never alone, but is still accompanied with old songs, honest thoughts, and prayers, but short ones; yet they have their efficacy, in that they are not palled with ensuing idle cogitations. Lastly, her dreams are so chaste, that she dare tell them; only a Friday's dream is all her superstition; that she conceals for fear of anger. Thus lives she, and all her care is, she may die in the spring time, to have store of flowers stuck upon her winding-sheet."
The following beautiful description of a country house, is from an old French book, which was translated into English in 1658.
The author's name is Monsieur De Cyrano Bergeral ;
“ At the doore of the house, you meet with a walke with five avenues, in figure like a starre ; the oakes that compose it make one with extasie adinire the excessive height of their tops, raising one's eyes from the root of the culmen, then precipitating down againe. One doubts whether the earth beares them, and whether or no they carry not the earth at their roots : you would think that their proud heads are forced to bend under the weight of the heavenly globes, which burthen them with groaning support; their armes, stretcht toward heaven, embracing it, seeme to beg of the starrs their influences altogether pure, and to receive them before they have at al lost of their innocence in the bed of the elements.There on every side the flowers, having had no other gardener but nature, vent a sharp breath that quickens and satisfies the smell. The sweet innocence of a rose on the eglantine, and the glorious azure of a violet under the sweet-briars, leaving us not the liberty of choice, make us judge that they are both one fairer than the other. The spring there composes all the seasons, there no venomous plant buds, but her birth soon betrayes her safety; there the brooks relate their travels to the pebbles ; there a thousand feathered voyces make the forest ring with the sweet music of their songs, and the sprightfull assembling of these melodious throats is so general, that every leaf in the wood seems to have taken the shape and the tongue of a nightingale ; sometimes ye shall heare 'em merrily tickle a consort, another while they'le drag, and make their music languish ; by and by thaile passionate an eligie by interrupted sobbs : and then againe soften the violence of their voyces more tenderly to excite pity, and at last raise their harmony ; and what with their crotchets and warbling, send forth their lives and their voyces together. Echo is so delighted with it, that she seemes to repeat their aires onely that she may learne them; and the rivolets, jealous of their musique, as they fly away, grumble, much troubled that they cannot equall them. On the side of the castle, two walkes discover themselves, whose continued green frames an emerald too big for the sight; the confused mixture of colours from the spring fastens to a million of flowers, scatters the changes of one another; and their tincture is so pure, that one may well judge, that they get so close one to another onely to escape the amorous hisses of the wind that courts them. One would now take this meddow for a very calme sea; but when the least Zephyrus comes to wanton there, 'tis then a proud ocean full of waves, whose face, furrowed with frownes, threatens to swallow up those little fooles : but because this sea discovers no shoare, the eye, as affrighted to have run so long without finding any coast, quickly dispatches the thought, and the thought being doubtful too, that that which is the end of his sight, is the end of the world, doth almost persuade himselfe that this place is so full of charms that it hath forced the heaven to unite itself to the earth.
“ In the midst of this so vast and yet perfect carpet, runnes in with silver bubbles and streames a rustick fountaine, who sees the pillowes of his head enamelled with jessamines, orange-trees, and myrtles, and the little flowers that throng round about, would make one believe they dispute who shali view himselfe in the streame first ; seeing her face so young and smooth as 'tis, which discovers not the least wrinkle, 'tis easy to judge she is yet in her mother's breast, and those great circles, with which she binds and twines herselfe by reverting so often upon herselfe, witness that 'tis her grief and against her will that she finds herself obliged to go from her native home: but above all things I admire her modesty, when I see her (as ashamed to be courted so neere her mother) murmure and thrust back the bold hand that touches her. The traveller that comes hither to refresh himselfe, hanging his head over the water, wonders 'tis broad day in his horizon, when he sees the sun in the antipodes, and never hangs over the bank but hee's affraied to fall into the firmament."
There are seasons when, if time and circumstances allow, we should partake of the benefits of rural retirement." If we would exercise ourselves in reflection with the best success, the solemn stillness that prevails, while viewing the grand and beautiful scenes of nature, in that theatre of order, and serenity and noiseless activity, concurs with them to invite us to serious meditation, to consciousness of self, to screen us from the various distractions of ordinary life, and communicate to our minds as it were a greater elasticity, a nobler flight. There the illusions of vanity lose much of their force, and we think and judge of ourselves, and the objects around us, far more impartially and justly. Never yet did any one, who shunned retirement, become truly wise unto felicity.
Couldst thou resign the park and play content,
JOHNSON Bacon observes, that God Almighty first planted a garden; and that it constitutes the purest source of human pleasures. A garden is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man, without which buildings and palaces are but of inferior value.
Pomfret, in his Choice, does not forget to desire a garden to contribute to his pleasures. He says,
Near some fair town I'd have a private seat,
Should be with all the noblest authors grac'd. - Dr. Young observes, “ A garden has ever had the praise and affection of the wise. What is requisite to make a wise and happy man, but reflection and peace; and both are the natural growth of a garden. Nor is a garden only a promoter of a good man's happiness, but a picture of it also; and, in some sort, shews him to himself; its culture, order, fruitfulness, and seclusion from the world, compared to the weeds, wildness, and exposure of a common field, is no bad emblem of a good man, compared to the multitude. A garden weeds the mind; it weeds it of worldly thoughts; and sows celestial seed in their stead. A garden, to the virtuous, is a paradise still extant; here are no objects to inflame the passions; none that are not calculated to instruct the understanding and better the heart, while they delight the sense.
Addison, in the Spectator, strongly, and elegantly, recommends the pleasures of the garden; and Dr. Knox has an essay on the same subject. Not he alone, says this pleasing writer, is to be esteemed a benefactor to mankind, who makes a useful discovery; but he also who can point out and recommend an innocent pleasure.
That patron of refined pleasure, the elegant Epicurus, fixed the seat of his enjoyment in a garden. He was of opinion, that a tranquil spot, furnished with