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should take, if it is likely, as at present already we love and can trust. Un. it seems to promise, to have an abiding luckily, some of these books tend in place on our library shelves.
exactly the contrary direction; their Of course the garden book must not facts are disputable, and their voices be merely utilitarian, for of this kind are mere echoes. we have works that cannot be super- The garden book may be poetical, seded, such as Mr. William Robinson's but it must not be written by a poet, invaluable "English Flower Garden" or, at any rate, it must not be written and “Hardy Flowers." These, and by an articulate poet. The poetic feelothers like them, are written by ex- ing is almost essential, but it must perts, and the mere dilettante cannot express itself in words of others than hope to rival them in instructive qual- the compiler. Of course, the imaginaity. Nor should these books, while tion can picture an ideal garden book, claiming to be garden books, deal al- written by a poet who might happen most solely with matters apart from to be possessed of sufficient knowledge gardens. On the contrary, they must of horticulture to make his book valutreat first of flowers, both from a prac- able in the double way. It tends to tical and from an æsthetic point of sadness to reflect on the loss we have view, and, that provision secured, the had in that such work was never given writer may then wander afield to us, for instance, by Tennyson, and we things less vital, such as his taste or might even gladly have dispensed with studies may suggest. Some rule or some utilitarian value out of gratitude other must be laid down, and more or for other features of charm which unless adhered to, if this kind of litera- doubtedly we should have secured. But, ture is not to fall into contempt; and failing such a book by a great and I think that, broadly speaking, such original poet, we are forced to fall a line as the following may be sug. back upon a more modest desire for gested.
the second best; and the second best I The ideal garden book should contain conceive to be a book by a competent the experience of the writer as a spe- gardener who is, above all, no versecialist in his own subject of gardening, maker, though a true critic of verse, in combination with the thoughts or and who can, therefore, give us choice the words or the views of persons who thoughts and passages from our splenare specialists in other matters, such as did heritage of literature to lend charm poetry, or ethics, or metaphysics. We to his volume of practical instruction. I do not want a gardening dictionary might name half a dozen writers who from the amateur, because we can get could admirably perform the task, but it in more trustworthy shape from the hitherto they have not spoken in this expert; we do not want mere gentle
way. thoughts on nature, or other deep sub- Let us examine some of these books jects, whether of earth or heaven, be- which have made the vogue in garden cause we know where to turn for our literature, and judge how far they are reading on these subjects, as delivered able to satisfy the demand for such by persons who have given their lives reading at its highest standard. I will to the study of them. If we want this choose from among a considerable numsort of book at all, we want, as I have ber, three volumes of unequivocal sucsaid, the simple empirical experience cess, which consequently seem to stand of the amateur gardener combined with out from their companions on the bookthe best he (or more usually she) can shelf, and of themselves to accentuato give us of the ideas of the great whom the need in man's soul at the present time for this range of work. As there which Milton might turn out to be reis no denying their enormous success, sponsible? Even the boldest is bound we may regard them as satisfactory to to hold his breath for a time and to the general public, which has bought make good his character as critic over them in their thousands. A short anal- the prose; and herein is another diffiysis of each will enable us to judge of culty. The heaven-sent gift of words their scope and object; and when we has sometimes tiresome limitations. have examined these features as closely The poet may be inspired in his verse, as is possible, we may then be able to and not altogether inspired in his prose, decide whether this sort of book is as which is one of those mysteries that valuable from the point of view of en- hurt the understanding. How else can tertainment or instruction as it might be explained such a sentence as this: be, or whether the type is capable of "I am greatly interested in seeing the improvement.
result of a new border I have made in If the requisites for a garden book the extreme north angle of the garden, are indeed those I have indicated, we and which Veronica has christened must not expect the ideal book from Poet's Corner"? This and some similar Mr. Alfred Austin, for has he not his modes of expression make us fear that bench with the poets? His disabilities, the less is not always included in the if thus they may be regarded, come, of greater, that the afflatus sent for poetry course, paradoxically enough from his does not necessarily contain the essengreater gifts. The ideal garden chron. tials of prose. Well, it is but a small icler should be only appreciative of matter; still, we are justified, I think, poetry, whereas Mr. Alfred Austin, as in asking as much of perfection as we we who read our Times (even if not in believe ourselves likely to get. the habit of perusing volumes of verse) Four persons inhabit “The Garden know well, is indeed articulate. He that I Love:" the writer, who is also the gives us poems to fit our many Impe- gardener, his sister Veronica, and his rial moods, and we have the full en- friends, the Poet and Lamia. At least joyment at first hand of the inspiring we are artfully persuaded that there afflatus, because we are assured that are four persons; in reality there are we receive them just as they come to only two, Veronica and the gardenerhim. The mere man evidently does not poet rolled with Lamia into one. When venture to correct, to add to, or to take these speak seriously-and there is a from the God-given beauties sent to the good deal of serious speaking in the poet's pen.
book-you would not know, if you In “The Garden that I Love" we get shut your eyes, which of them is ada considerable amount of Mr. Austiu's dressing you. La mia, to be sure, has verse. We do not know exactly how
her frivolous moments, when, for a much, for both he and Shakespeare are brief space, she makes a possible third; alike without inverted commas. This but when she is rhetorical she is one is a great pity. The original
with the gardener and the poet. Ver. might have stood unsupported, but
onica, on the other hand, has a separsurely Shakespeare and other similar ate identity; she is a simple being, and writers should have beea propped by
if she has views she keeps them carequotation marks. How else can we
fully to herself. There is something distinguish between them and him? very lovable about Veronica, She lisThe situation even disarms criticism. tens patiently for hours to all that the for how could the mere reviewer ven
others have to say, and then she goes ture to take exception to a passage for away and makes tea for them. She
knows how exhausted they must be. essential, but it would follow, not acThey give away so many treasures of company, the frenzy. A poet must feel thought that they must necessarily be much in order to make his readers feel left swept and empty; the need of sus- a little; he must weep many tears to tenance is plainly indicated, and Ver- ensure that they shall weep a few. onica supplies it.
When a poet places us in a situation Perhaps, however, the exhaustion is where tears are obviously indicated, I less than it might have been if circum- fancy we are warranted in blaming stances had not come to their aid; and him if they do not come. If we accuse herein we see the wisdom of the Pooh- him, not of restraint, but, like the Bah arrangement. The chronicler can gagged man, of want of power, I think give us treasures of verse from the we could justify our opinion. I do not mouth of the poet, pages of floricultural for a moment mean to disparage the details through the lips of the gardener, poet's admiration of restraint and gems of general utility from the necessary and beautiful quality in irresponsible Lamia. The talents of verse, but merely to contend that most the three, if displayed in one person, of the restraint that calls itself by that would invite incredulity. We should
name is of the sort that cannot help think it impossible that one small head itself, and this must be regarded as a could carry all the aphorisms and defect, and not as a beauty. gnomic sayings which the three are But if the poet sometimes rouses in anxious to distribute. We should be. us the spirit of contradiction, the gargin to fear cerebral congestion. So, dener takes his revenge by mystifying to spare ourselves distress and anxiety, us just as we think we are getting on we allow the writer to persuade us nicely. It is a wonderful garden that that there are, indeed, three heads un- he owns, and its orientation is exceedder the three hats, and thus we breathe ingly difficult to understand. In one again.
place we are told that it slopes from The poet sometimes gives vent to an northeast to southwest, and in another untenable theory, but the gardener and that it looks southeast. But even this Lamia of course cannot be expected to readjustment of Nature's aspects will set him right, and dear little Veronica not quite account for all the wonders adores him far too much to do so. He that are in that garden. On the 30th is bold enough to justify in the name of of May the gardener's wood is covered restraint the bald and simple verse with primroses, and this is not menwhich is held by some of our later poets tioned as an out-of-the-way state of to be one with the true stuff. It is things, but is given as a mere matter difficult to go with him here. Restraint of fact. We who have not his gift of is, no doubt, an admirable quality, but extending the seasons to keep our we cease to admire it when it is com- gardens in beauty, have indeed seen pulsory. We cannot esteem the re- primroses on the 30th of May, but we straint of a gagged man, who refrains have never had the luck of beholding from using bad language. Restraint a wood in the south of England “diaand nothing more, of which we see so pered with them" on that date. We much, is a poor thing as a quality of can only hear and sigh for our more verse, and it is even difficult to see limited seasons. On the same day the how l'âme agitée of a great poet, in its gardener describes his tulips as having moments of finest frenzy, could be closed their petals for the night. Though "controlled by the serenity of the it is a little late for Dutch tulips, we mind." Rigorous self-criticism is an might be persuaded to recognize the same latitude for them as for the prim- The book has little to do with gardenroses, but that the gardener has in- ing, but is admirable as a description of formed us in a previous chapter that a successful garden, such as it rarely he takes up these bulbs during the third falls to the ordinary lot to hear of. week of May and lays them in by the There are absolutely no failures in it. heels. Of course we then jump to the But the real raison d'être of this garden conclusion that these flowers which betrays itself on every page of Mr. have just closed their petals for the Alfred Austin's volume. It is intended night are the English late tulips, until to be a beautiful background in a beauwe remember that he has told us that tiful picture—a background for inspired he has never made proper use of these. and inspiring thoughts, which demand Here, again, we are mystified. Has he an outlet there before appearing on the made any use of them, and are they printed page to delight a wider though the flowers which have just closed their hardly a more appreciative audience. petals for the night, or are the Dutch A totally different book is Mrs. Earle's tulips as kind to him, as I have sup- “Pot-pourri from a Surrey Garden." posed, in giving hiin, as the primroses It does not depend for its interest on do, an extended season of their beauty? the conversational qualities of its inThese mysteries in a book which should habitants; it is strictly utilitarian. It help us in our gardening ought not so is, like Mr. Austin's, the record of a to be. They are too cruel to the merely gardener who has attained. But it average floriculturist. They make us does not, as his does, dazzle us with feel how small are our powers in com- gems of thought and learning; nor does parison with those of the gardener in it, like Elizabeth's volume, which will this book. We cannot find large ex- be considered later, blind us to its faults panses of bluebells on our property to- by artless irresponsibility. It sets out wards the latter end of June; our to give practical directions, and practiwoods are not diapered as a matter of cal directions are freely given, but they course with primroses on the 30th of are cookery, not garden recipes. We are May; we cannot grow woodruff from entitled to expect that pot-pourri shall cuttings. We cannot get half the good consist chiefly of flowers, and it is a results that this gardener gets from his distinct grievance that we get so little garden, and the consciousness, not only about them. The author is evidently of our inferior powers, but also of Na- as careful and successful a housekeeper ture's unkindness in giving less lavish- as she is a gardener, and this is where ly to us than to others, induces feelings her weakness comes in. When we of depression and impatience. The want to hear about spring bulbs she is gardener-poet tells us that if he were far away in the kitchen framing an asked which of his works he likes best indictment against the modern cook. he would answer "My Garden.” We The fury which possesses her on the have never seen his garden, and it is subject of tinned saucepans would be obviously impossible for us, therefore, better directed, the reader cannot help to re-echo his sentiment. But it would thinking, against wireworm or slugs. be pleasant to see it, and to wander in She tries conscientiously to do her duty it, and to admire, even though at the by the reader who is buying a garden risk of unworthy feelings of envy and book, but her heart is in the store the like. Loving care has been lay- closet or the scullery when we want ished without stint upon it, and Nature all her attention elsewhere. She will has met the workers more than half even take us to the kitchen-garden way, and has given them of her best. rather than to the parterre, and try to persuade us that there is the haven where mon Ayrshire. The object of dividing we would be, and in order to detain us the garden year into its natural month. there she tries to rouse us to indigna- ly sections should be the instructing of tion like her own by holding forth on the reader little by little as each season the wickedness of the modern cook. brings its work. For instance, in June But we are impatient prisoners of her and July we expect to be told of the glittering eye; we do not care in the beauties of roses, in July and August least how the scullery-maid dresses her of their propagation by cuttings, in vegetables, if only the flavor is right December of their protection and nourwhen they are brought to the dinner- ishment by means of their covering table. So with a few polite convention- from the farmyard. It is not that we alities we try to lead the way back to expect to be told how to do all this routhe flowers, only to find ourselves again tine work, for such details should be most unexpectedly in the kitchen re- sought for in technical books of ingions, and forced, whether we will or struction, but a hint as to when it no, to discuss the neglect of vegetables should be done would make the garden in the ordinary English household a book valuable. We might not dream hundred years ago or more. And here of looking for these serviceable particu. we gather courage of a defiant sort to lars from the pens of Elizabeth or Mr. incite us to disagreement for a moment. Alfred Austin; they are too much abWas the neglect of vegetables at that sorbed in more interesting and personal time indeed due to the Protestant in- matters to trouble themselves about fluence of the Reformation ? Was it such minor details as the instruction not rather owing in the towns to the of their readers. But Mrs. Earle sets lack of transport facilities, and in the out to be useful, and we feel injured country districts to the miserably in- bcause we find her not quite so useful adequate gardens to which landlords as we had hoped that she would be. bad reduced their cottage holdings? The meaning and purpose of a garden That there was never any neglect of is in the growing of flowers and vegevegetables by those who possessed suf- tables, so far as possible, all the year ficient garden ground for their cultiva- round. I think we may agree to ignore tion our old herbals and horticultural the vegetables; they, no more than manuals abundantly testify.
tinned saucepans, are a proper constitBut to return to practical things. The uent of pot-pourri. But there are four reader is entitled to expect that, as re- months in the year during which we gards the comparatively small number cannot reasonably expect to grow of plants which are mentioned in these flowers out of doors, so we are forced garden books, he shall be told the se- to build greenhouses to provide for our crets of their culture. But "Pot-pourri wants. Mrs. Earle has greenhouses, from a Surrey Garden" is disappointing but she does not tell us how she makes in this respect. For instance, with re- use of them. She leaves us for sixteen gard to the propagation and culture of weeks practically without a blossom; a flower which every one grows, and their place is taken by herbals and for the most part grows badly-the hashed mutton. An exception might rose. It is not sufficient to tell us be pleaded for January, the month in March that Lamarck and various which leads the way in her volume. others are beautiful climbers for a She has promised on the first page that house. We search through the pages gardening shall be her preponderating devoted to June and July and find not subject, and in January we get a list a single rose mentioned, except the com- of plants in bloom-in a London draw