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The Abbé de Lille, in his poetical description of a Garden, compares it to a picture; he considers the unadorned and naked soil as the painter's canvass, and all the means of decoration as the pencil-colours with which he is to work :
To me the garden a vast picture seems :
The poets, in every age, have been enraptured with the beauties of a Garden, how various soever their ideas of its constituent parts. The Elysian Fields, those sweet regions of poetry, are adorned with all that fancy can imagine to be delightful. Homer describes the garden of Alcinous in the richest poetry; and Ovid wanders with rapture through his Thessalian Temple. Lucan is represented by Juvenal, as reposing in his garden. Horace prayed for a villa where there was a garden, a rivulet, and a grove; and Virgil languished for the enjoyment of rivers and woods, and the cool valleys of Mount Hæmus. The latter, too, as appears from his Georgics, was not only highly captivated with rural scenes, but a great cultivator of them. In the fourth book of the Georgics, he seems to lament that the limits of his subject would not permit him to sing of Gardens. He gives us pleasure, however, in a rapid and delightful sketch of horticulture, and the affecting episode of a venerable old man, happy in cultivating and adorning a few barren and forsaken acres. What the Roman poet regretted he could not do, was performed in the 17th century by father Rapin, who wrote a poem on gardens, in the language, and sometimes in the style, of Virgil. Shenstone and Mason both exercised their poetical talents on this delightful subject.
The following reflections on a Flower Garden, were written by a young lady:
What soft delight the peaceful bosom warms,
year rolls on, and steals its charms away;
And boundless bliss for ever ever flows.
Eftsoons they heard a most delicious sound
Of all that mote delight a dainty ear;
Save in this paradise, be beard elsewhere :
Right hard it was for wight which did it bear,
I shall close this paper with Hughes's Thoughts on a Garden
The learn'd is happy nature to explore,
IGNORANCE is a constant source of pleasure to man; it conceals from his view many things of which the knowledge would be a detriment to his comfort. We must not however confound ignorance with error, for error is always pernicious, but ignorance is, in many instances, a blessing to the human race. Jgnorance is the work of nature, error is the work of man.
The wise man observes, that “ In much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” It should seem that there is such a fault as intemperance in the pursuit of knowledge. It is an undoubted fact, that there is much inconvenience, anxiety, and care, connected with knowledge, to which the majority of mankind are perfect strangers.
Whatever pleasure we feel in the acquisition of knowledge, its charms, when once acquired, in a great measure cease. It may excite the envy, or the admiration of others, yet to the possessor it affords but little joy. The more we know, the more conscious we are of the unsatisfying nature of all our attainments. The ignorant are not plagued, in any great degree, with the passion of curiosity, but with the man of knowledge it is a growing and unruly propensity, ever craving and never satiated; for the solution of one difficulty engages us in a fresh disquisition, and we go on discovering and doubting, arriving in the
end at no permanent satisfaction. After long and painful inquiries into some particular subjects, we find our knowledge of these subjects is not superior, perhaps not equal, to that of the most ignorant of mankind. And when we consult the works of the learned, even those productions which will hold a distinguished place in the republic of letters, as long as any vestige of human learning shall remain on the earth, how little is the knowledge we are able to gain. These works are often little better than a heap of words, a mere jingle of sounds without any solid memory, and serve no better purpose, than to afford a harmless recreation to men who are weak enough to mistake words for things. Most of our controversies are disputes about words, and mere games of intellect, which evince the skill, cunning, or spleen of the disputants, rather than their knowledge of the subjects in debate.
Words are like leaves, and where they most abound,
Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found. Pope. The following observations from Feltham, on curiosity in knowledge, may properly be introduced at this place:
* Nothing wraps a man in such a mist of errors, as his own curiosity in searching things beyond him. How happily do they live that know nothing but what is necessary?
Our knowledge does but shew us our ignorance. Our most studious scrutiny is but a discovery of what we cannot know. We see the effect, but cannot guess at the cause. Learning is like a river, whose head, being far in the land, is, at first rising, little, and easily viewed: but still, as you go, it gapeth with a wider bank: not without pleasure and delightful winding; while it is on both sides set with trees, and the beauties of various flowers. But still, the further you follow it, the deeper and the broader it is, till at last it immures itself in the unfathomed ocean: there you see more water; but no shore; no end of that liquid, fluid vastness. In many things we may sound nature in the shallows of her revelations. We may trace her to her second causes; but beyond them, we meet with nothing but the puzzle of the soul, and the dazzle of the mind's dim eyes. While we speak of things that are, we may dissect, and have power and means to find the causes : there is some pleasure, some certainty. But when you come to metaphysics, to long-buried antiquity, and unto unrevealed