Page images

paradise on earth, in which our first parents were placed by their Creator; but, for the same reason that, in spite of his matchless genius, the English bard has failed to inspire with human passion the inhabitants of Eden, he fails equally in his attempt to spread over the fields and groves amidst which they wandered an aspect of real existence. His flowers bloom without having first budded; his yellow or purple fruits have not emerged in slow and gradual growth out of the chalice of the balmy blossom; his trees wave in a richness of foliage which has never germinated; all in that paradise, like her for whom all flowers bloomed, all fruits, save that

autumn had mellowed into golden hue both the leaf of the vine and the teeming grape, the loud shrieks of the Bacchants echoed from grove to grove, from hill to grotto. Wild with music and wine, their faces smeared with the purple grape, and giving to the winds their dishevelled locks, they crowded round the wine-presses to fill with new wine the cup which each of them held in her hands, pouring profuse libations to Bacchus. Some of these ancient gardens, like the imperial garden near Pekin, embraced rivers, mountains, fields, and forests, within their wide expanse. Such must have been the grove of Daphne, where "thick forests of laurel and cypress reached as far as a circumference of ten miles, where a thousand streams of the purest water, running from every hill, preserved the verdure of the earth and the temperature of the air." It was believed that the very air breathed in this grove enervated the strongest mind. It was for this, no doubt, that Cassius, when the army he commanded encamped near Daphne, punished severely, and sometimes dismissed the soldiers who were proved to have entered the consecrated ground.

The Greeks cultivated the Rose, the Narcissus, the Violet, and the Iris. We find in their poets, that flower markets were held regularly in Athens, at which roses were exposed for sale in beautiful straw baskets. They strewed the temples of the gods with the choicest blossoms. At their religious processions the youths and virgins wore garlands, and the priests bound their heads with chaplets of flowers sacred to their respective deities. The guests at the banquet table were always presented with garlands; nay, the cups, too, from which they drank, were wreathed with myrtle or roses. Sages and philosophers wore garlands in order to make science lovely, and to propitiate the Graces. The steel-clad warriors who at Salamis or Marathon had triumphed over the Persians, returned to Athens and Sparta, their temples bound with wreaths, in which the Violet and the Rose were woven together with the laurel. On occasions of public rejoicings, the walls of cities were always hung with boughs of evergreen plants. There were florists in all the great cities of

[ocr errors]

Whose mortal taste

Brought death into the world," matured into color and perfume, they all remind us of that fair daughter of Heaven, whose infant lips no milk had moistened-whose young smile no mother's eyes had anxiously watched for and rapturously detected-whose sweet prattlings no parent's ear had listened to with indescribable joywhose fingers had never played with the silver locks of age-whose heart had never throbbed with fear lest another's did not beat in accord with her own. To conclude-there is in Milton's gardens a cold and illusive beauty, which, like that of his Eve, we admire without sympathy, and love without warmth.

Without encumbering these pages with descriptions of the gardens of China, Persia, Greece, and of Rome, it suffices our purpose to remark, that the great cities in the vicinity of which these were planted lay in warm regions. These were rather ornate landscapes than gardens, such as we now understand the term. Intent to shelter themselves from the rays of a sultry sun, their voluptuous possessors planted in them the finest forest trees, together with fruit trees, and the few flowers and aromatic plants known to antiquity. Streams of the purest water gave freshness to the vegetation, and by continual moisture preserved its perpetual verdure. In the day, was heard the melody of birds, mingling with the low murmuring of meandering rivulets; the night witnessed the dance of youths and virgins by the glare of torches. Sometimes, too, when

Greece, who made crowns of flowers (Coronarii)-some, composed of one sort of flower, others of many; and others, again, of leaves only, but always symbolical of religious ideas. The plants used for these were, at last, called by the generic name of Coronaria. Some of these were cultivated in gardens, others grew wild in the fields, but all those thus designated were beautiful and aromatic,

shade of his groves, in which the beauteous exotics he had reared, mingled their foreign foliage with that of indigenous plants. Diocletian, too, in the height of his power, became suddenly disgusted with the task of governing mankind. He abdicated the Empire, and compelled the princes whom he had clothed with the imperial purple to descend from the throne, like himself; retaining no dominion, out of the civilized world over which he had reigned, save that of the gardens he had planted near Salone;these he cultivated with so much pleasure, that, when Maximin, his former colleague in the Empire, urged him to resume the sceptre, he rejected the temptation with a smile of pity, calmly observing, in his answer to the proposal of that restless old man, that, "if he could show to Maximin the cabbages which he cultivated with his own hands, he should no longer be urged to relinquish the enjoyment of happiness for the perils of power."

The real or fancied virtues of plants drew the attention of mankind in the earliest ages. To the Mandrake were attributed effects which induced Rachael to barter for that which her sister's son, Reuben, had gathered in the fields, the preference her husband gave her over a less beauteous wife. Helen prepared for Telemachus, when the youth sought the hospitality of Menelaus, a beverage that worked the oblivion of all painful thoughts, and lulled the weary traveller into balmy sleep. In this plant, although the poet does not name it, we recognize the Poppy, whose soporific virtue was already known. The healing quality of the Dictamen, a plant still believed to be a specific for the epilepsy, is extolled both in the Odyssey and in the Iliad. If the Lotus, which made him who ate its fruit forget his native land, and all the endearing associations of early loves, did ever exist, it has disappeared from the earth, like some animals described by ancient naturalists, which for centuries have not been seen.* At their banquets the Greeks

As regards fruits, the Fig was cultivated in the earliest ages. The Grape, the Almond, the Pomegranate, grew in Canaan, in the days of Moses; and the Melon was one of the Egyptian delicacies the privation of which occasioned the bitterest repinings of the Israelites in the wilderness. The Greeks have recorded, both in history and song, that the shepherd Aristaus was the first who cultivated the Olive. The Fig came to Attica from Crete, and the Chestnut from Sardis; the Peach was brought from Persia; the Pomegranate from Africa; the Pear and Plum from Armenia; Cherries and Apricots from Parthia; and the first Citron tree planted in Greece came from Media. Lucullus brought to Rome, to adorn his triumph, the Cherry, the Peach, and the Apricot-a nobler trophy these than the wealth of Mithridates. Nor did he fail to appreciate at their true value these vegetable spoils of Asia, as the rude Conqueror of Corinth did the inimitable perfection of the master-works of Grecian genius, wrested by his valor from their tasteful possessors. The en lightened Consul planted them with his own hand, we are told, in the magnificent garden he cultivated on the promontory of Misenum. The warlike Epicurean had tried war, as he had tried all things, and of war, as of all things, had wearied, save nature, science, and the arts! To the tumult of the battle-field, to the clamor of the victorious legions, to the loud plaudits of the assembled multitude delighted by his eloquence-nay, to a dominion of one third portion of the world, the voluptuous soldier preferred the deep

• The Druids used a golden sickle to cut the sacred Misletoe, on the sixth day of the moon. The Vervain was held in such veneration by the Romans, that they gathered it, after libations of wine and honey, at the rising of the Dog Star, and always with the left hand. The plants thus collected were used to sweep the temple of Jupiter, to sprinkle lustral water, to appease discord; hence it was borne by heralds, a class of whom was called Verbenarii.

and the Romans strewed the floor with Vervain, as its perfume, they believed, preserved the brain from the effects of wine, induced purity of thoughts, and inspired the mind with innocent mirth. Nor were trees and flowers forgotten in the rites of ancient worship. The shrines of the gods of idolatrous nations were adorned with wreaths of foliage; and even the Jews, in the simpler ceremonies of their worship of an unseen God, offered flowers and fruits on the altar, as well as living victims.

Always disposed to transfer to the Divinity their own sympathies or aversions, men have imagined that, as is the case with themselves, each of the gods bore a peculiar affection to a plant or a flower, which, either in its color, its virtue, or the nature of its perfume, they fancied symbolical of the attributes of the divinity to whom it was consecrated. For this, the Oak, living unnumbered years, deep rooted and yielding only to the light ning, which it seemed to meet in defiance in the very clouds where it is elaborated, was sacred to Jove. The Olive, which it was said had sprung from earth at the bidding of Minerva, in the contest for superior power between the warlike maid and the god whose trident rules the ocean, adorned the altars of Pallas. Saturn, the symbol of eternity, was crowned with the evergreen Holly. The funereal Cypress shaded with deeper terrors the stern features of Pluto. Juno loved the Lily, the sweet and lowly emblem of unspotted purity. Young Dione che rished the unfading Myrtle; and the Rose, glowing with the carmine of her cheeks, bedewed with the freshness of

as were, when living, loved by the gods, had been changed by them, after their death, into trees, plants, or flowers. That Hyacinthus, cherished by Apollo, had become the flower which still bears his name; that the Myrrh still continued to exhale the fragrance which once breathed from the lips of the guilty and beauteous Myrrha; that Daphne, who fled from the embrace of the inspirer of songs, was changed into Laurel, the meed due to immortal lays, to encircle his brow, and wreathe its flexible and emerald stems in the chords of his lyre; and that Narcissus, the beautiful and self-enamored boy, should have become the flower whose sickly hue, to this day, expresses the malady of hopeless love.

own lips, adorned her golden hair. Each nymph, each goddess, wore a garland of the flowers she loved. But Bacchus bore on his joyous brow ripe grapes instead of leaves or blossoms.

After investing their gods with human forms, after inspiring them with human passions, it was natural that a people so imaginative as were the Greeks, and professing a religion, if not invented by poets, embellished at least by all the richness of their fancy, should have believed that such mortals

When we began this paper, we intended to speak chiefly of the two books, the titles of which we have given above, but the subject has led us far away from the object we had in view. We regret it the less, however, as those excellent works, though they accomplish fully all they promise to the reader, yet in order to be appreciated at their true value, must be not only read throughout, but studied. The language of the writers is, what it ought to be, clear, precise, unpretending. They are both practical men ; there is no danger of being led astray by following their directions. They have done more for the art of gardening in America, in a few years, than had been accomplished for a century before. With Mr. Buist we are personally acquainted; and we number among our most pleasingly spent hours, those we have passed in his beautiful garden in Philadelphia. Not a question, prompted by rational curiosity, have we ever put to him, as to the history of any one of his plants, their habits, or propensities, that was not immediately answered. We hesitate not to say, that more practical knowledge of Botany may be acquired by twenty lessons obtained from him, while strolling among his plants, than would be ac quired for months in the study of books, and with the aid even of the best executed colored illustrations of the beautiful science.



NOTHING is more certain than that social Reformers, in both the old world and the new, are at present turning their chief attention to what is not improperly denominated the COMMUNITY SYSTEM. The tendency this way is decided, and would seem to be irresistible. Men, whose opinions are deserving of great respect, are beginning to look upon this system, in some of its modifications, or under some of its various aspects, as a sure and adequate remedy for all our ills, moral and physical, individual and social. It behooves all of us, therefore, who have faith in the progress of humanity, and who have learned that the lot of each man is bound up with that of all men, to inquire into its nature, and ascertain its principles, the laws of its operation, and the advantages likely to result from its general adoption.

This is a grave inquiry; and in order to do justice to it, we must, so to speak, begin at the beginning, go back to the first principles of human nature, and ascertain the laws by which that nature is developed and effects its growth, and the conditions indispensable to its actualization, or, what is the same thing, to its manifestation in the LIFE of individual men and women. For it may be assumed in the very outset, that no scheme of human melioration and progress can be otherwise than short-lived and ineffectual, even if not mischievous, unless it have its root in the essential, permanent, and indestructible nature of


Man must be always contemplated under a double aspect: 1. as HUMANITY, the Genus or Kind; and 2. as an INDIVIDUAL. This is according to Genesis, from which we learn that God creates all beings in races, "after their kind;" and that he originally created man as the human kind, and afterwards formed or actualized him as an individual, in a body taken from the dust of the earth. "So God created 17


man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." But this could have been only the generic creation, the creation of the kind; for we are informed in the very next Chapter, that notwithstanding this creation, there was "not a man to till the ground." "And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul." Man, as the kind, was only a virtuality, man "in potentiâ, non in actû,” to speak according to Plato, an IDEA, not a living man; but in becoming a living soul, he passed from this state of virtuality to an actuality, from the transcendental world, in which the kind has its habitation, to the actual world of space and time.

All orders of beings are originally created, and have their habitation in the transcendental world, the regionem idearum, the Divine Mind, or Logos of St. John, by which all things were made, and without which was not anything made that was made. Because created and dwelling in the Divine Mind, Plato regards all beings in their several kinds or genera, as Ideal, and calls them Ideas. Humanity is originally created in the Divine Mind, and as the human kind it resides, so to speak, in the Infinite Reason, and is an Idea,--is Ideal, not as opposed to substantive, to real, but as opposed to actual. Man's existence is, then, to be contemplated as IDEAL and ACTUAL, and Ideal and Actual answer precisely to his existence as the kind, and as an individual.

We are ordinarily prone to regard man's actual or individual existence as his only existence. Most of our readers have been in the habit of looking upon man as a mere individual, and will be puzzled to understand what is really meant by his existence as the kind. But man is by no means a mere individual. In every individual is that


which is not individual, which transcends the individual, and is the basis and possibility of the individual. Is there not something which distinguishes an individual pine from an individual oak? An individual horse from an individual ox? An individual dog from an individual man? Is not this something one and indivisible, one and identical, in all individual pines? in all individual oaks? in all individual horses? in all individual oxen? in all individual dogs? in all individual men? What is this something? It is the KIND. It is this which precedes individuals and is actualized in them, that determines whether the individual shall be a pine, an oak, a horse, an ox, a dog, or a man, that makes the seed of the pine re-produce the pine, the acorn the oak, and never the reverse. The kind, then, though ideal, is not a mere name, an abstract or general noun as the Nominalists contend, but a substantive force, a reality, as contend the Realists. It is not a quality, or attribute of the individual, but that which makes the individual. It is in the language of Plato, an Idea, only an Idea in the Divine Mind, not in the human.

The ground here assumed is by no means novel. We re-produce here consciously and intentionally, the old Scholastic doctrine of Realism, the doctrine of Plato, of Pythagoras, of Moses, and if of Moses, of course the doctrine of Inspiration. The old Realists were right, in affirming the reality of Ideas, kinds, genera; they erred, if they erred at all, merely in contending that we could know kinds as abstracted from individuals, and that they could, as it were, live without individuals. When we have entered more deeply into the spirit of the Scholastic philosophy, at which it has been accounted good taste to sneer ever since the time of Bacon, the more profound will be our respect for it. The more profoundly we look into the principles of things, or even of life, the more important will appear to us those controversies of the old Schoolmen, which we have been in the habit of accounting frivolous, and unworthy the least attention. Those old Schoolmen knew as well what they were about, as we do what we are about. We shall make little progress in philosophy till we re

habilitate the old Platonic Ideas. We must assert boldly their reality; only while so doing we must bear in mind that the kind lives only in individuals, and can be known by us only so far forth as actualized in individuals.

[ocr errors]

Every kind, or Ideal existence, inhabits eternity, transcends time and space. Nevertheless it must have the power to actualize itself, to manifest itself in time and space, or it were a dead existence, were precisely as if it were not. If it be at all, in any vital sense, it must manifest itself in phenomena. The power to manifest itself in phenomena, is the principle of vitality, or power to live; the actual manifestation is what we call life, in the sense in which Pope uses the word, when he says,

"For modes of faith, let graceless bigots fight,

His can't be wrong, whose life is in the right."

Humanity, Man in the Ideal, in the kind, is created with this power to manifest himself in phenomena, as we learn from the assertion in Genesis, as well as otherwise, that God made the race both male and female, and therefore, though a unity, a productive unity, a unity having the ability to manifest itself in multiplicity; and therefore again a living unity, not a dead unity, which were in no sense distinguishable from the veriest nullity.

The manifestation of humanity is the Life of humanity. Since humanity has the power to manifest itself in diversity, in multiplicity, in phenomena, it has in itself a vital power, and is capable of living a life of its own, as strictly so as is an individual man or an individual woman. Hence, we are never to view humanity, man-kind, human-kind, as a mere aggregate, or sum total of individuals, nor as a mere word without significance in the world of reality. Humanity is in some sort itself an individual, with its own entity, unity, powers, development and growth.

Humanity in this sense, as the Ideal, or the kind, lives, but, as with all living entities, only by manifesting itself in phenomena. Its life is its manifesta

« PreviousContinue »