Abbildungen der Seite

Let health my nerves and finer fibres brace, And I their toys to the great children leave; Of fancy, reasfln, virtue, nought can me bereave."

Another Scotchman, Lord Kames, (Henry Home by name,) who was Senior Lord of Sessions in Scotland about the year 1760, was best known in his own day for his discussion of " The Principles of Equity"; he is known to the literary world as the author of an elegant treatise upon the "Elements of Criticism "; I beg leave to introduce him to my readers to-day as a sturdy, practical farmer. The book, indeed, which serves for his card of introduction, is called "The Gentleman Farmer " ; * but we must not judge it by our experience of the class who wear that title nowadays. Lord Kames recommends no waste of money, no extravagant architecture, no mere prettinesses. He talks of the plough in a way that assures us he has held it some day with his own hands. People are taught, he says, more by the eye than the ear; show them good culture, and they will follow it.

As for what were called the principles of agriculture, he found them involved in obscurity; he went to the book of Nature for instruction, and commenced, like Descartes, with doubting everything. He condemns the Roman husbandry as fettered by superstitions, and gives a piquant sneer at the absurd rhetoric and verbosity of Varro.f Nor is he any more tolerant of Scotch superstitions. He declares against wasteful and careless farming in a way that reminds us of our good friend Judge , at the last countyshow.

He urges good ploughing as a primal necessity, and insists upon the use of the roller for rendering the surface of wheatlands compact, and so retaining the moisture; nor does he attempt to reconcile this declaration with the Tull theory of constant trituration. A great many ex

s First published in 1786.

t Citing, in confirmation, that passage commencing, — " Nunc dicnm agri qwjbia rebus colanlur," etc.

cellent Scotch farmers still hold to the views of his Lordship, and believe in "keeping the sap" in fresh-tilled land by heavy rolling; and so far as regards a wheat or rye crop upon Kght lands, I think the weight of opinion, as well as of the rollers, is with them.

Lord Kames, writing before the time of draining-tile, dislikes open ditches, by reason of their interference with tillage, and does not trust the durability of brush or stone underdrains. He relies upon ridging, and the proper disposition of open furrows, in the old Greek way. Turnips he commends without stint, and the Tull system of their culture. Of clover he thinks as highly as the great English farmer, but does not believe in his notion of economizing seed: "Idealists," he says, "talk of four pounds to the acre; but when sown for cutting green, I would advise twenty-four pounds." This amount will seem a little startling, I fancy, even to farmers of our day.

He advises strongly the use of oxen in place of horses for all farm-labor; they cost less, keep for less, and sell for more; and he enters into arithmetical calculations to establish his propositions. He instances Mr. Burke, who ploughs with four oxen at Beaconsfield. How drolly it sounds to hear the author of " Letters on a Regicide Peace " cited as an authority in practical farming! He still further urges his ox-working scheme, on grounds of public economy: it will cheapen food, forbid importation of oats, and reduce wages. Again, he recommends soiling,* by all the arguments which are used, and vainly used, with us. He shows the worthlessness of manure dropped upon a parched field, compared with the same duly cared for in court or stable; he proposes movable sheds for feeding, and enters into a computation of the weight of green clover which will be consumed in a day by horses, cows, or oxen: "a horse, ten Dutch stone daily; an ox or cow, eight stone; ten horses, ten oxen, and six cows, two hundred and twenty-eight

* Pp. 177-119, edition of 1802, Edinburgh.

stone per day,"—involvmg constant cartage: still he is convinced of the profit of the method.

His views on feeding ordinary store cattle, or accustoming them to change of food, are eminently practical. After speaking of the desirableness of providing a good stock of vegetables, he continues, — " And yet, after all, how many indolent farmers remain, who for want of spring food are forced to turn their cattle out to grass before it is ready for pasture! which not only starves the cattle, but lays the grass-roots open to bo parched by sun and wind."

Does not this sound as if I had clipped it from the "Country Gentleman" of last week? And yet it was written ninety-seven years ago, by one of the most accomplished Scotch judges, and in his eightieth year, — another Varro, packing his luggage for his last voyage.

One great value of Lord Kames's talk lies in the particularity of his directions: he does not despise mention of those minutiic a neglect of which makes so many books of agricultural instruction utterly useless. Thus, in so small a matter as the sowing of clover-seed, he tells how the thumb and finger should be held, for its proper distribution; in stacking, he directs how to bind the thatch; he tells how mown grass should be raked, and how many hours spread ;• and his directions for the making of clover-hay could not be improved upon this very summer. "Stir it not the day it is cut . Turn it in the swath the forenoon of the next day; and in the afternoon put it up in small cocks. The third day put two cocks into one, enlarging every day the cocks till they are ready for the tramp rick [temporary field-stack]."

A small portion of his book is given op to the discussion of the theory of agriculture; but he fairly warns his readers that he is wandering in the dark. If all theorists were as honest! He deplores the ignorance of Tull in asserting that plants feed on earth; air and water alone, in his opinion, furnish the supply of plant* Pp. 166,167.

food. All plants feed alike, and on the same material. Degeneracy appearing only in those which are not native: white clover never deteriorates in England, nor bull-dogs.

But I will not linger on his theories. He is represented to have been a kind and humane man; but this did not forbid a hearty relish (appearing often in his book) for any scheme which promised to cheapen labor. "The people on landed estates," he says, "are trusted by Providence to the owner's care, and the proprietor is accountable for the management of them to the Great God, who is the Creator of both." It does not seem to have occurred to the old gentleman that some day people might .decline to be "managed."

He gave the best proof of his practical taet, in the conduct of his estate of Blair-Drunimond, — uniting there all the graces of the best landscape-gardening with profitable returns.

I take leave of him with a single excerpt from his admirable chapter of Gardening in the "Elements of Criticism ": — " Other fine arts may be perverted to excite irregular, and even vicious emotions; but gardening, which inspires the purest and most refined pleasures, cannot fail to promote every good affection. The gayety and harmony of mind it produceth inclineth the spectator to communicate his satisfaction to others, and to make them happy as he is himself, and tends naturally to establish in him a habit of humanity and benevolence."

It is humiliating to reflect, that a thievish orator at one of our Agricultural Fairs might appropriate page after page out of the "Gentleman Farmer" of Lord Kames, written in the middle of the last century, and the county-paper, and the aged directors, in clean shirt-collars and dress-coats, would be full of praises "of the enlightened views of our esteemed fellow-citizen." And yet at the very time when the critical Scotch judge was meditating his book, there was erected a land light-house, called Dunston Column, upon Lincoln Heath, to guide night travellers over a great waste of land that lay a half-day's ride south of Lincoln. And when Lady Robert Manners, who had a seat at Bloxholme, wished to visit Lincoln, a groom or two were sent out the morning before to explore a good path, and families were not unfrequently lost for days* together in crossing the heath. And this same heath, made up of a light fawn-colored sand, lying on "dry, thirsty stone," was, twenty years since at least, blooming all over with rank, dark lines of turnips; trim, low hedges skirted the level highways; neat farm-cottages were flanked with great saddle-backed ricks; thousands upon thousands of long-woolled sheep cropped the luxuriant pasturage, and the Dunston column was down.

About the time of Lord Kames's establishment at Blair-Drummond, or perhaps a little earlier, a certain Master Claridge published "The Country Calendar; or. The Shepherd of Banbury's Rules to know of the Change of the Weather." It professed to be based upon forty years' experience, and is said to have met with great favor. I name it only because it embodies these old couplets, which still lead a vagabond life up and down the pages of country-almanaes : —

"If the grass grows in Janiveer, It grows the worst for 't all the

.. The Welshman had rather see his dam on

the bier
Than to see a fair Februeer."

"When April blows his horn,
It's good both for hay and corn."

"A cold Mav and a windy
Makes a full barn and a findy."

"A ..-... ,-n 1 <' of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay;
But a swarm in July
Is not worth a fly."

Will any couplets of Tennyson reap as large a fame?

About the same period, John Mills,

« See Article of Philip Pussy, M. P., in Tram•ctiou of the Royal Society, Vol. XIV.

a Fellow of the Royal Society, published a work of a totally different character, — being very methodic, very full, very clear. It was distributed through five volumes. He enforces the teachings of Evelyn and Duhamel, and is commendatory of the views of Tull. The Rotherham plough is figured in his work, as well as thirteen of the natural grasses. He speaks of potatoes and turnips as established crops, and enlarges upon their importance. He clings to the Virgilian theory of small farms, and to the better theory of thorough tillage.

In 1759 was issued the seventh edition of Miller's "Gardener's Dictionary," * in which was for the first time adopted (in English) the classical system of Linnaeus. If I have not before alluded to Philip Miller, it is not because he is undeserving. He was a correspondent of the chiefs in science over the Continent of Europe, and united to his knowledge a rare practical skill. He was superintendent of the famous Chelsea Gardens of the Apothecaries Company. He lies buried in the Chelsea Church - yard, where the Fellows of the Linnaean and Horticultural Societies of London have erected a monument to his memory. Has the reader ever sailed up the Thames, beyond Westminster? And does he remember a little spot of garden-ground, walled in by dingy houses, that lies upon the right bank of the river near to Chelsea Hospital? If he can recall two gaunt, flat-topped cedars which sentinel the walk leading to the river-gate, he will have the spot in his mind, where, nearly two hundred years ago, and. a full century before the Kew parterres were laid down, the Chelsea Garden of the Apothecaries Company was established. It was in the open country then; and even Philip Miller, in 1722, walked to his work between hedge-rows, where sparrows chirped in spring, and in winter the fieldfare chattered: but the town has swallowed it; the city-smoke has starred it; even the marble image of Sir Hans Sloane in its centre is but the mummy • First published, in 1724.

of a statue. Yet in the Physic Garden there are trees struggling still which Philip Miller planted; and I can readily believe, that, when the old man, at seventy-eight, (through some quarrel with the Apothecaries,) took his last walk to the river-bank, he did it with a sinking at the heart which kept by him till he died.

I come now to speak of Thomas Whately, to whom I have already alluded, and of whom, from the scantiness of all record of his lift', it is possible to say only very little. He lived at Nonsuch Park, in Surrey, not many miles from London, on the road to Epsom. He was engaged in public affairs, being at one time secretary to the Earl of Suffolk, and also a member of Parliament. But I enroll him in my wet-day service simply as the author of the most appreciative and most tasteful treatise upon landscape - gardening which has ever been written, — not excepting either Price or Repton. It is entitled, "Observations on Modern Gardening," and was first published in 1770. It was the same year translated into French by Latapie, and was to the Continental gardeners the first revelation of the graces which belonged to English cultivated landscape. In the course of the book he gives vivid descriptions of Blenheim, Hagley, Leasowes, Claremont, and several other wellknown British places. He treats separately of Parks, Water, Farms, Gardens, Ridings, etc., illustrating each with delicate and tender transcripts of natural scenes. Now he takes us to the cliffs of Matlock, and again to the farmflats of AVoburn. His criticisms upon, the places reviewed are piquant, full of rare apprehension of the most delicate natural beauties, and based on principles which every man of taste must accept at sight. As you read him, he does not seem so much a theorizer or expounder as he does the simple interpreter of graces which had escaped your notice. His suggestions come upon you with such a momentum of truthfulness, that you cannot stay to challenge them.

There is no argumentation, and no occasion for it. On auch a bluff he tells us wood should be planted, and we wonder that a hundred people had not said the same thing before; on such a rivermeadow the grassy level should lie open to the sun, and we wonder who could ever have doubted it. Nor is it in matters of taste alone, I think, that the best things we hear seem always to have a smack of oldness in them, — as if we remembered their virtue. "Capital I" we say; "but has n't it been said before?" or, "Precisely! I wonder I did n't do or say the same thing myself." Whenever you hear such criticisms upon any performance, you may be sure that it has been directed by a sound instinct . It is not a sort of criticism any one is apt to make upon flashy rhetoric, or upon flash gardening.

Whately alludes to the analogy between landscape-painting and landscapegardening: the true artists in either pursuit aim at the production of rich pictorial effects, but their means are different. Does the painter seek to give steepness to a declivity ? — then he may add to his shading a figure or two toiling up. The gardener, indeed, cannot plant a man there ; but a copse upon the summit will add to the apparent height, and he may indicate the difficulty of ascent by a hand-rail running along the path. The painter will extend his distance by the diminuendo of his mountains, or of trees stretching toward the horizon: the gardener has, indeed, no handling of successive mountains, but he may increase apparent distance by leafy avenues leading toward the limit of vision; he may even exaggerate the effect still further by so graduating the size of his trees as to make a counterfeit perspective.

When I read such a book as this of Whately's,—so informed and leavened as it is by an elegant taste, — I am most painfully impressed by the shortcomings of very much which is called good landscape-gardening with us. As if serpentine walks, and glimpses of elaborated turf- ground, and dots of exotic evergreens in little circlets of spaded earth, compassed at all those broad effects which a good designer should keep in mind! We are gorged with petit-maitrei-in. and pretty littlenesses of all kinds. We have the daintiest of walks, and the rarest of shrubs, and the best of drainage; but of those grand, bold effects which at once seize upon the imagination, and inspire it with new worship of Nature, we have great lack. In private grounds we cannot of course command the opportunity which the long tenure under British privilege gives; but the conservators of public parks have scope and verge; let them look to it, that their resources be not wasted in the niceties of mere gardening, or in elaborate architectural devices. Banks of blossoming shrubs and tangled wild vines and labyrinthine walks will count for nothing in park-effect, when, fifty years hence, the scheme shall have ripened, and hoary pines pile along the ridges, and gaunt single trees spot here and there the glades, to invite the noontide wayfarer. A true artist should keep these ultimate effects always in his eye, —effects that may be greatly impaired, if not utterly sacrificed, by an injudicious multiplication of small and meretricious beauties, which in no way conspire to the grand and final poise of the scene.

But I must not dwell upon so enticing a topic, or my wet day will run over into sunshine. One word more, however, I have to say of the personality of the author who has suggested it. The reader of Sparks's Works and Life of Franklin may remember, that, in the fourth volume, under the head of " Hutchinson's Letters," the Doctor details difficulties which he fell into in connection with "certain papers" he obtained indirectly from one of His Majesty's officials, and communicated to Thomas Cushing, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts Bay. The difficulty involved others besides the Doctor, and a duel came of it between a certain William Whately and Mr. Temple. This

William Whately was the brother of Thomas Whately, — the author in question,—and secretary to Lord Grenville,* in which capacity he died in 1772/f The "papers" alluded to were letters from Governor Hutchinson and others, expressing sympathy with the British Ministry in their efforts to enforce a grievous Colonial taxation. It was currently supposed that Mr. Secretary Whately was the recipient of these letters; and upon their being made public after his death, Mr. Whately, his brother and executor, conceived that Mr. Temple was the instrument of their transfer. Hence the duel. Dr. Franklin, however, b,y public letter, declared that this allegation was ill - founded, but would never reveal the name of the party to whom he was indebted. The Doctor lost his place of Postmaster-General for the Colonies, and was egregiously insulted by Wedderburn in open Council; but he could console himself with the friendship of such men as Lawyer Dunnini;, (one of the suspected authors of "Junius,") and with the eulogium of Lord Chatham.

There are three more names belonging to this period which I shall bring under review, to finish up my day. These are Horace Walpole, (Lord Orford,) Edmund Burke, and Oliver Goldsmith. Walpole was the proprietor of Strawberry Hill, and wrote upon gardening: Burke was the owner of a noble farm at Beaconsfield, which he managed with rare sagacity: Goldsmith could never claim land enough to dig a grave upon, until the day he was buried; but he wrote the story of " The Vicar of Wakefield," and the sweet poem of "The Deserted Village."

I take a huge pleasure in dipping from time to time into the books of Horace Walpole, and an almost equal pleasure in cherishing a hearty contempt for the man. With a certain native cleverness, and the tact of a showman, he paraded

* I find him named, in Dodslcy's "Annual Register" for 1771, "Keeper of His Majesty's Private Roads."

t Loudon makes an error in giving 1780 u the year of his death.

« ZurückWeiter »