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OR, THE QUINCUNCIAL LOZENGE : OR, NET-WORK PLANTATIONS OF THE ANCIENTS ; ARTIFICIALLY, NATURALLY, AND MYSTICALLY,
By Sir Thomas Browne,
Quid Quincunce speciosius, qui, in quamcunque partem spectaveris,
rectus est ? -QUINCTILIAN.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN 1658
THE EPISTLE DEDICATORY
TO MY WORTHY AND HONOURED FRIEND
NICHOLAS BACON, OF GILLINGHAM, ESQUIRE.
Had I not observed that purblind men have discoursed well of sight, and some without issue, 1 excellently of generation ; I, that was never master of any considerable garden, had not attempted this subject. But the earth is the garden of nature, and each fruitful country a Paradise. Dioscorides made most of his observations in his march about with Antonius; and Theophrastus raised his generalities chiefly from the field.
Besides, we write no Herbal, nor can this volume deceive you, who have handled the massiest thereof : who know that three folios 2 are yet too little, and how new herbals fly from America upon us : from persevering enquirers, and hold in those singularities, we expect such descriptions. Wherein England is now so exact, that it yields not to other countries. 1 Dr. Harvey.
2 Bauhin's Theatrum Botanicum.
We pretend not to multiply vegetable divisions by quincuncial and reticulate plants; or erect a new phytology. The field of knowledge hath been so traced, it is hard to spring any thing new. Of old things we write something new, if truth may receive addition, or envy will have any thing new; since the ancients knew the late anatomical discoveries, and Hippocrates the circulation.
You have wisely ordered your vegetable delights, beyond the reach of exception. The Turks who passed their days in gardens here, will have gardens also hereafter ; and delighting in flowers on earth, must have lilies and roses in heaven. In garden delights 'tis not easy to hold a mediocrity; that insinuating pleasure is seldom without some extremity. The ancients venially delighted in flourishing gardens ; many were florists that knew not the true use of a flower ; and in Pliny's days none had directly treated of that subject. Some commendably affected plantations of venomous vegetables, some confined their delights unto single plants, and Cato seemed to dote upon cabbage ; while the ingenuous delight of tulipists stands saluted with hard language, even by their own professors.
1 As did Erasmus Darwin later.
That in this garden discourse, we range into extraneous things, and many parts of art and nature, we follow herein the example of old and new plantations, wherein noble spirits contented not themselves with trees, but by the attendance of aviaries, fish-ponds, and all variety of animals they made their gardens the epitome of the earth, and some resemblance of the secular shows of old. .
Norwich, May 1, 1658