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Though exercises of this kind, when indulged with moderation, may have a good influence both on the mind and body, the country affords many other amusements of a more noble kind.
Among these I know none more delightful in itself, and beneficial to the public, than that of planting. I could mention a nobleman whose fortune has placed him in several parts of England, and who has always left these visible marks behind him, which shew he has been there: he never hired a house in his life, without leaving all about it the seeds of wealth, and bestowing legacies on the posterity of the owner. Had all the gentlemen of England made the same improvements upon their estates, our whole country would have been at this time Jis one great garden. Nor ought such an employment to be looked upon as too inglorious for men of the highest rank. There have been heroes in this art, as well as in others. We are told in particular of Cyrus the great, that he planted all the Lesser Asia. There is indeed something truly magnificent in this kind of amusement: it gives a noble air to several parts of nature; it fills the earth with a variety of beautiful scenes, and has something in it like creation. For this reason the pleasure of one who plants is something like that of a poet, who, as Aristotle observes, is more delighted with his productions than any other writer or artist whatsoever.
Plantations have one advantage in them which is not to be found in most other works, as they give a pleasure of a more lasting date, and continually improve in the eye of the planter. When you have finished a building, or any other undertaking of the like nature, it immediately decays upon your hands; you see it brought to its utmost point of perfection, and from that time hastening to its ruin. On the contrary, when you have finished your plantations, they are still arriving at greater degrees of perfection as long as you live, and appear more delightful in every succeeding year, than they did in the foregoing.
But I do not only recommend this art to men of estates as a pleasing amusement, but as it is a kind of virtuous employment, and may therefore be inculcated by moral motives ; particularly from the love which we ought to have for our country, and the regard which we ought to bear to our posterity. As for the first, I need only mention what is frequently observed by others, that the increase of forest-trees does by no means bear a proportion to the destruction of them, insomuch that in a few ages the nation may be at a loss to supply itself with timber sufficient for the fleets of England. I know when a man talks of posterity in matters of this nature, he is looked upon with an eye of ridicule by the cunning and selfish part of mankind. Most people »re of the humour of an old fellow of a college, who, when he was pressed by the society to come into something that might redound to the good of their successors, grew very peevish; "we are always doing, says he, something for posterity, but I would fain see posterity do something for us."
But I think men are inexcusable, who fail in a duty of this nature, since it is so easily discharged. When a man considers that the putting a few twigs into the ground, is doing good to one who will make his appearance in the world about fifty years hence, or that he is perhaps making one of his own descendants easy or rich, by so inconsiderable an expence; if hefinds himself averse to it, he must conclude that he has a poor and base heart, void of all generous prin-' ciples and love to mankind.
There is one consideration, which may very much enforce what I have here said. Many honest minds that are naturally disposed to do good in the world, and become beneficial to mankind, complain within themselves that they have not talents for it. This, therefore, is a good office, which is suited to the meanest capacities, and which may be performed by multitudes, who have not abilities to deserve well of their country, and to recommend themselves to their posterity by any other method. It is the phrase of a friend of mine, when any useful country neighbour dies, that " you may trace him :" which Hook upon as a good funeral oration, at the death of an honest husbandman, who hath left the impressions of his industry behind him, in the place where he has lived.
Upon the foregoing considerations, I can scarce forbear representing the subject of this paper as a kind of moral virtue: which, as I have already shewn, recommends itself likewise by the pleasure that attends it. It must be confessed, that this is none of those turbulent pleasures, which is apt to gratify a man in the heats of youth; but if it be not so tumultuous, it is more lasting. Nothing can be more delightful, than to entertain ourselves with prospects of our own making, and to walk under those shades which our own industry has raised. Amusements of this nature compose the mind, and lay at rest all those passions which are uneasy to the soul of man, besides that, they naturally engender good thoughts, and dispose us to laudable contemplations. Many of the old philosophers passed away the greatest part of their lives among their gardens. Epicurus himself could not think sensual pleasure attainable in any other scene. Every reader who is acquainted with Homer, Virgil, and Horace, the greatest geniuses of all antiquity, knows very well with Low much rapture they have spoken on this subject; and that Viri;il in particular, has written a whole book on the art of planting.
This art seems to have been more especially adapted to the nature of man in his primeval state, when he had life enough to see his productions flourish in their utmost beauty, and gradually decay with him. One who lived before the flood might have seen a wood of the tallest oaks in the acorn. But I only mention this particular, in order to introduce, in my next pa^ per, a history which I have found among the accounts of China, and which may be looked upon as an antediluvean novel.
No. DLXXXIV. MONDAY, AUGUST 23.
Hie gelidi fontes, hie mollia prata, lvcori.
Hie nemus, hie toto tecum consumerer acvo. Virg.
Come see what pleasures in our plains abound;
HILPA was one of the hundred and fifty daughters of Zilpah, of the race of Cohu, by whom some of the learned think is meant Cain. She was exceedingly beautiful, and when she was but a girl of threescore and ten years of age, received the addresses of several who made love to her. Among these were two brothers, Harpath and Shalum. Harpath, being the first-born, was master of that fruitful region which lies at the foot of Mount Tirzah, in the southern parts of China. Shalum (which is to say the planter in the Chinese language) possessed all the neighbouring hills, and that great range of mountains which goes under the name of Tirzah. Harpath was of a haughty contemptuous spirit; Shalum was of a gentle disposition, beloved both by God and man.
It is said, that among the antediluvian women, the daughters of Cohu had their minds wholly set upon riches; for which reason the beautiful Hilpa preferred Harpath to Shalum, because of his numerous flocks and herds, that covered all the low country which runs along the foot of Mount Tirzah, and is watered by several fountains and streams breaking out of the sides of that mountain.
Harpath made so quick a dispatch of his courtship, that he married Hilpa in the hundredth year of her age; and being of an insolent temper, laughed to scorn his brother Shalum for having pretended to the beautiful Hilpa, -when he was master of nothing but a long chain of rocks and mountains. This so much provoked Shalum, that he is said to have cursed his brother in the bitterness of his heart, and to have prayed that one of his mountains might fall upon his head if ever he came within the shadow of it.
From this time forward Harpath would never venture out of the valleys, but came to an untimely end in the two hundred and fiftieth year of his age, being drowned in a river as he attempted to cross it. This river is called to this day, from his name who perished in it, the river Harpath; and, what is very remarkable, issues out of one of those mountains which Shalum wished might fall upon his brother, when he cursed him in the bitterness of his heart.
Hilpa was in the hundred and sixtieth year of her age at the death of her husband, having brought him but fifty children, before he was snatched away, as has been already related. Many of the antediluvians made love to the young widow, though no one was thought so likely to succeed in her affections as her first lover Shalum, who renewed his court to her about ten years after the death of Harpath: for it was not thought decent in those days that a widow should be scan by a man within ten years after the decease of her husband.'
Shalum falling into a deep melancholy, and resolving to take away that objection which had been raised against him when he made his first addresses to