« AnteriorContinuar »
For my own part, as the country life, and this part of it more particularly, were the inclination of my youth itself, so they are the pleasure of my age; and I can truly say, that among many great employments that have fallen to my share, I have never asked or sought for any one of them, but often endeavoured to escape from them, into the ease and freedom of a private scene, where a man may go his own way and his own pace, in the common paths or circles of life.
Inter cuncta leges et percunctabere doctos
Or else a private path of stealing life? These are questions that a man ought at least to ask himself, whether he asks others or no, and to choose his course of life rather by his own humour and temper, than by common accidents, or advice of friends ; at least if the Spanish proverb be true, That a fool knows more in his own house, than a wise man in another's.
The measure of choosing well, is, whether a man likes what he has chosen, which I thank God has befallen me; and though among the follies of my life, building and planting have not been the least, and have cost me more than I have the confidence to own ; yet they have been fully recompensed by the sweetness and satisfaction of this retreat, where, since my resolution taken of never entering again into any publick employments, I have passed five years without ever going once to town, though I am almost in sight of it, and have a house there always ready to receive me. Nor has this been any sort of affectation, as some have thought it, but a mere want of desire or humour to make so small a remove ; for when I am in this corner I can truly say with Horace,
Me quoties reficit gelidus Digentia rivus,
May I have books enough, and one year's store,
That which makes the cares of gardening more necessary, or at least more excusable, is, that all men eat fruit that can get it; so as the choice is, only whether one will eat good or ill; and between these the difference is not greater in point of taste and delicacy, than it is of health : for the first, I will only say, that whoever has used to eat good, will do very great penance when he comes to ill: and for the other, I think nothing is more evident, than as ill or unripe fruit is extremely unwholesome, and causes so many untimely deaths, or so much sickness about autumn, in all great cities where 'tis greedily sold as well as eaten ; so no part of diet, in any season, is so healthful, so natural, and so agreeable to the stomach, as good and well-ripened fruits ; for this I make the measure of their being good; and let the kinds be what they will, if they will not ripen perfectly in our climate, they are better never planted, or never eaten. I can say it for myself at least, and all my friends, that the season of summer fruits is ever the season of health with us, which I reckon from the beginning of June to the end of September, and for all sicknesses of the stomach (from which most others are judged to proceed) I do not think any that are like me, the most subject to them, shall complain, whenever they eat thirty or forty cherries before meals, or the like proportion of strawberries, white figs, soft peaches, or grapes perfectly ripe. But these after Michaelmas I do not think wholesome with us, unless attended by some fit of hot and dry weather, more than is usual after that season; when the frosts or the rain have taken them, they grow dangerous, and nothing but the autumn and winter pears are to be reckoned in season, besides apples, which, with cherries, are of all others the most innocent food, and perhaps the best physick. Now, whoever will be sure to eat good fruit, must do it out of a garden of his own; for besides the choice so necessary in the sorts, the soil, and so many other circumstances that go to compose a good garden, and produce good fruits, there is something very nice in gathering them, and choosing the best, even from the
The best sorts of all among us, which I esteem the white figs and the soft peaches, will not carry without suffering. The best fruit that is bought, has no more of the master's care, than how to raise the greatest gains ; his business is to have as much fruit as he can upon as few trees ; whereas the way to have it excellent, is to have but little upon many trees. So that for all things out of a garden, either of salads or fruits, a poor man will eat better, that has one of his own, than a rich man that has none. And this is all I think of, necessary and useful to be known upon this subject.