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Upon the Gardens of Epicurus. - If we believe the Scripture, we must allow that God Almighty esteemed the life of a man in a garden the happiest he could give him, or else he would not have placed Adam in that of Eden; that it was a state of innocence and pleasure; and that the life of husbandry and cities came in, after the Fall, with guilt and with labour.
Where Paradise was, has been much debated and little agreed; but what sort of place is meant by it, may perhaps easier be conjectured. It seems to have been a Persian word, since Xenophon and other Greek authors mention it as what was much in use and delight among the Kings of those eastern countries. Strabo describing Jericho says, Ibi est palmetum, cui immixtæ sunt etiam alia stirpes hortenses, locus ferax; palmis abundans, spatio stadiorum centum, totus irriguus; ibi est regia, et balsami Paradisus. He mentions another place to be prope Libanum et Paradisum. And Alexander is written to have seen Cyrus’ tomb in a Paradise, being a tower not very great and covered with a shade of trees about it. So that a Paradise among them seems to have been a large space of ground adorned and beautified with all sort of trees, both of fruits and of forest, either found there before it was enclosed or planted afterward; either cultivated like gardens for shades and for walks with fountains or streams, and all sorts of plants usual in the climate and pleasant to the eye, the smell, or the taste; or else employed like our parks for enclosure and har
bour of all sorts of wild beasts, as well as for the pleasure of riding and walking: and so they were of more or less extent, and of differing entertainment, according to the several humours of the princes that ordered and enclosed them.
• Semiramis is the first we are told of in story that brought them in use through her empire, and was so fond of them as to make one wherever she built, and in all or most of the provinces she subdued, which are said to have been from Babylon as far as India. The Assyrian kings continued this custom and care, or rather this pleasure, till one of them brought in the use of smaller gardens : for having married a wife he was fond of out of one of the provinces where such Paradises and gardens were much in use, and the country-lady not well bearing the air or enclosure of the palace of Babylon to which the Assyrian Kings used to confine themselves, he made her Gardens, not only within the palaces, but upon terraces raised with earth over the arched roofs, and even upon the top of the highest tower; planted them with all sorts of fruit-trees, as well as other plants and flowers the most pleasant of that country; and thereby made at least the most airy gardens, as well as the most costly, that have been heard of in the world. This lady may probably have been a native of the provinces of Chasimir or of Damascus, which have in all times been the happiest region for fruits of all the east by the excellence of soil, the position of mountains, and the frequency of streams, rather than the advantage of climate. And it is a great pity we do not yet see the History of Chasimir, which Monsieur Bernier assured me he had translated out of Persian, and intended to pub
lish; and of which he has given such a taste in his excellent Memoirs of the Mogul's Country.'
· The next Gardens we read are those of Solomon, planted with all sorts of fruit-trees, and watered with fountains : and though we have no more particular description of them, yet we may find they were the places where he passed the time of his leisure and delight; where the houses as well as grounds were adorned with all that could be of pleasing and elegant, and were the retreats and entertainments of those among his wives that he loved the best; and it is not improbable, that the Paradises mentioned by Strabo were planted by this great and wisest King. But the idea of the garden must be very great, if it answers at all to that of the gardener, who must have employed a great deal of his care and of his study, as well as of his leisure and thought, in the entertainments, since he writ of all plants from the cedar to the shrub.
• What the Gardens of the Hesperides were, we have little or no account farther than the mention of them, and thereby the testimony of their having been in use and request in such remoteness of place and antiquity of time.
• The Garden of Alcinöus, described by Homer, seems wholly poetical, and made at the pleasure of the painter; like the rest of the romantic palace in that little barren island of Phæacia, or Corfu. Yet as all the pieces of this transcendent genius are composed with excellent knowledge as well as fancy, so they seldom fail of instruction as well as delight to all that read him. The seat of this garden joining to the gates of the palace, the compass of the enclosure being four acres, the tall trees of shade as well VOL. IV.
as those of fruit, the two fountains, one for the use of the garden and the other of the palace, the continual succession of fruits throughout the whole year, arè (for aught I know) the best rules or provisions that can go toward composing the best gardens; nor is it unlikely that Homer may have drawn this picture after the life of some he had seen in Ionia, the country and usual abode of this divine poet, and indeed the region of the most refined pleasure and luxury as well as invention and wit: for the humour and custom of gardens may have descended earlier into the Lower Asia from Damascus, Assyria, and other parts of the eastern empires, though they seem to have made late entrance and smaller im provements in those of Greece and Rome; at least, in no proportion to their other inventions, or refinements of pleasure and luxury.'
THIS illustrious poet, the son of Erasmus Driden (so the name was occasionally spelt) of Tichmarsh in Northamptonshire, third son of Sir Erasmus Dryden of Canons Ashby, Bart., was born at Aldwincle All Saints near Oundle, August 9, 1631. He received his education at Westminster School, † under Dr. Busby; and was thence elected May 11, 1650, to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he incurred a slight punishment, in 1652, for disobedience and contumacy.
He does not appear to have displayed any extraordinary indications of genius in his earlier days. He was thirty years of age, before he produced his first play, the · Duke of Guise;' † and his next, • The Wild Gallant, though patronised by Barbara Villiers
* AUTHORITIES. Wood's Athence 'Oxonienses ; Lord Lansdowne's Works; Congreve's Dedication of Dryden's Works, and Biographia Britannica.
+ During his stay at school, he translated the third Satire of Persius for a Thursday night's exercise ; and, the year before he left it, he wrote an inharmonious poem upon the Death of Lord Hastings.
# This tragedy, much altered with the assistance of Lee, was again brought forward in 1683, to the great offence of the Whigs, and the exciting of some bitter attacks upon ito author.