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GARDENS OF EPICURUS;
OR OF GARDENING IN THE YEAR 1685
THE same faculty of reason which gives man
kind the great advantage and prerogative over the rest of the creation, seems to make the greatest default of human nature; and subjects it to more troubles, miseries, or at least disquiets of life, than any of its fellow-creatures : 'tis this furnishes us with such variety of passions, and consequently of wants and desires, that none other feels ; and these followed by infinite designs and endless pursuits, and improved by that restlessness of thought which is natural to most men, give him a condition of life suitable to that of his birth; so that as he alone is born crying, he lives complaining, and dies disappointed.
Since we cannot escape the pursuit of passions, and perplexity of thoughts, which our reason furnishes us, there is no way left but to endeavour all we can, either to subdue or to divert them. This last is the common business of common men, who seek it by all sorts of sports, pleasures, play or business. But because the two first are of short continuance, soon ending with weariness, or decay of vigour and appetite, the return whereof must be attended, before the others can be renewed ; and because play grows dull if it be not enlivened with the hopes of gain, the general diversion of mankind seems to be business, or the pursuit of riches in one kind or other; which is an amusement that has this one advantage above all others, that it lasts those men who engage in it to the very ends of their lives; none ever growing too old for the thoughts and desires of increasing his wealth and fortunes, either for himself, his friends, or his posterity.
In the first and most simple ages of each country, the conditions and lives of men seem to have been very near of kin with the rest of the creatures ; they lived by the hour, or by the day, and satisfied their appetite with what they could get from the herbs, the fruits, the springs they met with when they were hungry or dry; then, with what fish, fowl, or beasts they could kill, by swiftness or strength, by craft or contrivance, by their hands, or such instruments as wit helped or necessity forced them to invent. When a man had got enough for the day, he laid up the rest for the morrow, and spent one day in labour, that he might pass the other at ease; and lured on by the pleasure of this bait, when he was in vigour, and his game fortunate, he would provide for as many days as he could, both for himself and his children, that were too young to seek out for themselves. Then he cast about, how by sowing of grain, and by pasture of the tamer cattle, to provide for the whole year. After this, dividing the lands necessary for these uses, first among children, and then among servants, he reserved to himself a proportion of their gain, either in the native stock, or something equivalent, which brought in the use of money; and where this once came in none was to be satisfied, without having enough for himself and his family, and all his and their posterity for ever ; so that I know a certain lord who professes to value no lease, though for an hundred or a thousand years, nor any estate or possession of land, that is not for ever and ever.
From such small beginnings have grown such vast and extravagant designs of poor mortal men : yet none could ever answer the naked Indian, why one man should take pains, and run hazards by sea and land all his life, that his children might be safe and lazy all theirs : and the precept of taking no care for tomorrow, though never minded as impracticable in the world, seems but to reduce mankind to their natural