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hitherto, and do still, of that felicity; for though I have made the first and hardest step to it, by abandoning all ambitions and hopes in this world, and by retiring from the noise of all business, and almost company, yet I stick still in the inn of a hired house and garden, among weeds and rubbish; and without that pleasantest work of human industry, the improvement of something which we call (not very properly, but yet we call) our own. I am gone out from Sodom, but I am not yet arrived at my little Zoar. "O let me escape thither (is it not a little one ?) and my soul shall live." I do not look back yet; but I have been forced to stop, and make too many halts. You may wonder, Sir (for this seems a little too extravagant and pindarical for prose), what I mean by all this preface: it is to let you know, that though I have missed, like a chemist, my great end, yet I account ray affections and endeavours well rewarded by something that I have met with by the bye; which is, that they have procured to me some part in your kindness and esteem; and thereby the honour of having my name so, advantageously recommended to posterity, by the epistle you are pleased to prefix to the most useful book that has been written in that kind*,and which is to last as long as months and years.
* Mr. Evelyn's " Kalendarium Hortenfe;" dedicated to Mr. Cowley.—The title explains the propriety of the compliment, that this book was to last as long as months and yean. Him.
Among many other arts and excellencies, which you enjoy, I am glad to find this favourite of mine the most predominant; that you choose this for your wife, though you have hundreds of other arts for your concubines; though you know them, and beget sons upon them all (to which you are rich enough to allow great legacies), yet the issue of this. seems to be designed by you to the main of the estate; you have taken most pleasure in it, and bestowed most charges upon its education: and' I doubt not to see that book, which you are pleased to promise to the world, and of which you have given us a large earnest in your calendar, as accomplished, as any thing can be expected from an extraordinary wit, and no ordinary expences, and a Jong experience. I know nobody that possesses more private happiness than you do in your garden; and yet no man, who makes his happiness more publick, by a free communication of the art and knowledge of it to others. All that I myself am able yet to do, is only to recommend to mankind the search of that felicity, which you instruct them how to find and to enjoy.
Happy art thou, whom God does bless With the full choice of thine own happiness; And happier yet, because thou 'it blest With prudence, how to choose the best:
In books and gardens thou hast plac'd aright
And both dost make with thy laborious hand)
And in thy virtuous wife, where thou again dost
Oh, who would change these soft, yet solid joys,
Which seem such beauteous flowers, and are such poisonous weeds?
When God did man to his own likeness make,
By the great potter's art refin'd,
Could the divine impression take,
He thought it fit to place him, where
A kind of heaven too did appear,
That man no happiness might want,
He did a garden for him plant By the quick hand of his omnipotent word. As the chief help and joy of human life, He gave him the first gift; first, ev'n before a wife.
For God, the universal architect,
T had been as easy to erect
He wanted not the skill or power;
In the world's fabrick those were shown, And the materials were all his own. But well he knew, what place would best agree With innocence, and with felicity: And we elsewhere still seek for them in vain; If any part of either yet remain, If an)' part of either we expect, This may our judgment in the search direct; God the first garden made, and the first city Cain.
O blessed shades! O gentle, cool retreat
From all th' immoderate heat, In which the frantick world does burn and sweat! This does the lion-star, ambition's rage; This avarice, the dog-star's thirst, assuage; Every-where else their fatal power we see, They make and rule man's wretched destiny:
They neither set nor disappear,
But tyrannize o'er all the year; Whilst we ne'er feel their flame or influence here.
The birds that dance from bough to bough,
And sing above in every tree,
Are not from fears and cares more free Than we, who lie, or sit, or walk, below,
And should by right be singers too. What prince's choir of musick can excel
That, which within this shade does dwell?
To which we nothing pay or give;
They, like all other poets, live Without reward, or thanks, for their obliging pains:
"T is well if they become not prey:
But to our plants, art's musick too,
When Orpheus strook th' inspired lute,
The trees danc'd round, and understood
By sympathy the voice of wood.
These are the spells, that to kind sleep invite,
Which yet we moderately take;
Who would not choose to be awake, While he 's encompass'd round with such delight, To th' ear, the nose, the touch, the taste, and sight I When Venus would her dear Ascanius keep* A prisoner in the downy bands of sleep, She odorous herbs and flowers beneath him spread,
As the most soft and sweetest bed; Not her own lap would more have charm'd his head.
• Virg. Ma. i. 695.