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“ This,” said I, " is a sad account of those without whom the poets tell us we should ourselves be brutes. Surely it is overcharged, or applicable only to a few.”
“ More perhaps than you are aware of; though I allow many of them, made for better things, would be shocked to think they deserved this character, and when set before them (which it seldom is), would make strong efforts to deliver themselves from their thraldom, brilliant as it is."
“ As I must bow to your experience,” observed I, “I have upon this nothing to say ;
this nothing to say ; but whatever may be said of the flowers of a drawing-room, I never will believe that these roses of nature, while they smell so sweet, are useless. Indeed, as has been well said, no one can be unhappy in the atmosphere of flowers."
“ Pray observe," answered Mr. Manners, “that in what I said to their disparagement, I only spoke of scentless flowers; and, even in regard to them, of their ephemeral character. For, spite of these defects, all flowers, I gladlyown, because always glad to praise and thank Him who made so much for our happiness, were expressly designed to contribute to it. For though their honey may be extracted by other creatures, their beauty and perfume can have been made only for man. Man alone can, by sentiment, draw out and appreciate this part of their value, and feel it enhanced by the gratitude it inspires. It is therefore I can never walk the garden without feeling a sense of thankfulness amounting to genuine religion.”
I honoured him more and more for these sentiments, but could not help observing,
“ You do not, then, think a bed of even scentless flowers so useless ; still less those that perfume the air, though ephemeral ? "
“ Far from it,” he replied, “ while they look so lovely and smell so sweet. But how long do they do so ? Sweet to-day; the reverse to-morrow, without a sign left of their utility. Whereas, all those tribes of roots and vegetables, wholesome esculents, and sanative herbs, are full of lasting benefit to our lives and constitutions. To lose them would bring real misery upon all, but especially the poor; to cultivate, tend, and enjoy them, therefore, is a lasting pleasure, as a lasting duty. A bed of painted wonders is, to be sure, more gaudy and flaunting, or, if you will, more gorgeous and proud, than the humble olitory (to use Evelyn's expression). They seem to affect royalty in the comparison ; but I agree with the quaint but vivid Hervey— A kitchen garden looks, methinks, like a plain and frugal republic. Whatever may resemble the pomp of courts or the ensigns of royalty is banished from this humble community.”
I now perceived the reason for what I, at first, did not quite like--the close mixture of flowers and herbs which Mr. Manners had thus explained. As to the keeping of the borders, or the walks, nothing could be more perfect, and I expressed my admiration of it.
“ You must have had genuine pleasure, and much regard for the art,” said I, “ to produce this exhibi. tion of beauty and neatness combined.”
“ You are right,” said he; “for when I bade adieu to turbulence and dissipation to come down here,
stedfastly purposing to lead a new life,' my garden renewed the innocent and kindly feelings of my childhood, for in childhood I was never so happy as when occupied with one. But these feelings had been sadly damaged and forgotten in the contests of the world. Here, however, in shade and coolness, and equally in sunshine (as the weather or disposition of the moment prompted), I felt the force of what has been so well said, that the most pleasing part of solitude is to be exempt from the passions. I lost sight of political struggles, generating envy and, for the moment, hatred; or the quarrels of authors, generating malice, bad language, and mutual contempt.”
“ Have you, then," said I, rather surprised, “ been an author as well as a politician ? I heard, indeed, that you had been in Parliament."
" I scarce know how to answer,” replied he. to regular authorship, no. But I lived often with authors, and, what was worse, critics, and dabbled a little among both."
“ And what did you chiefly observe ?”
66 That both were of the genus irritabile; the critics, perhaps, the worst of the two. Horace would certainly have mentioned them with becoming sharpness, had there been reviewers and a periodical press in his time at Rome.”
I felt more and more interest about my host at this intimation, and longed to hear his opinions upon this important class of persons, one or two of whom I had heard Fothergill denounce in his trenchant way. One of them, he said, though so able as to be above vanity,
was more vain than the author he criticised ; another, though so shallow as to be contemptible, as impossible to humble or contend with as a polecat or a chimneysweeper, and for the same reason.
I mentioned this to my observing host, and he said it was quite in Fothergill's style, and pretty much his own opinion. This, however, he begged to defer giving in a place dedicated, by its pure and innocent character, to far other subjects than envy, hatred, and malice. In this I agreed, and, only changing a little the article of time, I thought I saw in my new friend the picture of the Count in the Belise of Marmontel. “ Un espèce de philosophe dans la vigueur de son âge, qui après avoir joui de tout pendant six mois de l'année à la ville, venoit jouir six mois de lui-même, dans une solitude voluptueuse."
MORE OF HOMELY PURSUITS.—MR. MANNERS' OPI
NIONS OF SOME FAVOURITE AUTHORS, NOT QUITE
IN ACCORDANCE WITH
THOSE IN GENERAL EN
TERTAINED.—THE EFFECTS OF EARLY RECOLLEC
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet,
SHAKSPEARE.-As You Like It.
HAVING surveyed the garden, we now prepared to return to the house ; but first, opening a gate, Mr. Manners led me into an inclosure of about a quarter of an acre, covered with buck-wheat, and the crop covered with bees. These swarmed, and seemed to drink perfume in the foliage of two or three odoriferous limes, round which they winged a perpetual flight, with an unceasing, yet soothing hum, which, with the heat of the day, would in a few minutes have invited us to sleep. All round there was a border of sweet herbs, and on one side, facing the south, were ranged, in an alcove, perhaps a dozen hives.
Mr. Manners, seeing my pleased look at this little honied spot, said, “I hope you like my apiary?” and pointing to a small clear stream which intersected