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“Plerumque gratæ divitibus vices,
Solicitam explicuere frontem."* “ But, to return to Cowley,” continued Mordaunt: “add sweet liberty ; freedom from the interruption of fools or commonplace characters, though grandees ; the sovereignty over yourself; and, above all, the greater chances of innocence of life; with these I am quite prepared to agree with the author, that a low fortune is at least better guarded and attended than a high one,' and I gladly close the subject with asking, as our philosophical poet did: If this is so,
* Cur valle permutem Sabinâ
Divitias operosiores ?'"* The sincerity of Mordaunt's countenance and manner in uttering these sentiments, convinced me that his change of life had not been lightly adopted, and that there was no fear of his repenting it. Indeed, such an air of contentment shone in and around him; the view of the garden was so splendid, lit up by the evening sun; and the breath of pinks and roses was so exquisitely improved by a gentle shower, that filled the whole air with perfume, that I could not help saying, “You almost persuade me to become a hermit too."
“ You certainly might dream,” returned he laughingly, “much more at your ease; that is, with fewer restraints from visitors and spectators, which you have always professed to dislike, though you live
* Horat. Od. lib. iii. 29. “Change is frequently agreeable to the rich, and a neat repast in a poor man's cottage has smoothed an anxious brow without the help of tapestry or purple."
† Od. lib. iii. 1. “Why should I change my Sabine valley for more burdensome riches ?”
“ You speak, however, only of yourself,” said I.
“ Of course," returned he; “nor can there be a general rule where every independent man must make one for himself, according to his bent. Kings, generals, statesmen, orators, may delight in filling the public eye, while the man of philosophical research into the nature of morals, apparently in obscurity, is equally pleased to dive into his own heart, with a view to confirm or recover his virtue; and the lover of woods and fields, and, above all, of gardens, loves them for the lessons of piety and gratitude, as well as of knowledge, which they give. In this, I own,
Ι. I paint myself, I trust after a sufficient experiment; and this freedom from ambition, this love of shade, had the same effect of driving me from the bar, as the love of poetry had upon the bard we are so fond of quoting, because, as Pope says of him,
"He, without method, talks us into sense.' He says, you know,
Me gelidum nemus,
SECERNUNT POPULO.' “ " I see,” said I, "you are classical, whatever the subject, and it only proves that your old predilections have never abandoned you."
* Horat. Od. lib. i. 1. “Me, the love of the cool groves, and the light dances of the Nymphs and Satyrs, separate from the common people."
“ There we agree,” said he; “ but, even before I had thrown off the slavery of pursuits for which I was not fit, I found more consolation from the charm of these predilections than in the prospect of reward from more painful studies.” Then, bursting into enthusiasm, he exclaimed: “O divine literæ humaniores ! what do we not owe you! The lawyer, the divine, the merchant, the soldier, the minister of state, the sovereign himself, how many hours of care in all of them have you not softened ! how many wrinkled fronts not smoothed ! How often have you restored us to ourselves when sunk in a sea of folly, or tortured with the thorns of ambition! On the other hand, how do they not enhance the value of the solitary hour (particularly if in the garden), elevate humble life to an equality with the proudest, and change sensual pursuits into the refinements of mind!”
I was about to express my pleasure in this ani. mated apostrophe, when he continued, warming with the subject : “In fine, ye are like
• Woman! lovely woman! form'd to temper man;
We had been brutes without you.' Here the Priory clock struck, and Mordaunt, changing his note, said, “I ask pardon, for I see it is the hour when the hamlet reposes, past six o'clock.
· Et jam summa procul villarum culmina fumant,
Majoresque cadunt altis de montibus umbræ.' Anglice: the smoke of the distant chimneys in the village thatches shows that the good folks are returned from work, and are preparing their supper.
I own this is my usual signal for a walk; but you are the master here. Say, how shall we pass the evening ?”
“In your own manner,” said I; "it cannot be better."
“ To the garden, then,” cried he; "and see what it will do for us.”
“ Fragrant the fertile earth After soft showers, and sweet the coming on Of grateful evening mild."
The weather indeed, as we sallied forth, appeared to be bespoke, so quiet, so mild, so hallowed it seemed ; and Mordaunt's conversation had filled me with such kindly impressions of the nature of his life, as made me almost as much a votary to his garden as he was himself.
“ You see,” said he, as we entered it, “the rain has made every thing delicious, and it is a sin to stay within.”
“ It is thoroughly old-fashioned,” said I. “ Yes,” he replied; " and I verily believe has scarce
“ changed its form since the time of the old friars who cultivated it. I have, therefore, often been quizzed for not destroying those quaint topiaria and straight walks. My advisers, however, are like Old Sterling, who was for none of your straight lines; but all for taste, you know, zigzag and crinkum-crankum.* But I do believe I would as soon commit treason as cut down that clipped hedge, alter its long right line, or destroy those peacocks in yew. As for a straight walk, not merely as an open terrace, but in the most
* Clandestine Marriage.