Abraham Cowley, portrait by Peter Lely
Abraham COWLEY, 1620-1667
(text from the 1st edition, 1883)
Among the poets of the age second only to Milton and Dryden. The Garden, from which we extract the following just sentiments, is prefixed by way of dedication to the Kalendarium Hortense of John Evelyn, his personal and political friend. The Gardener's Almanac, it is worthy of note, is one of the earliest prototypes of the numerous more modern treatises of the kind. It had reached a tenth edition in 1706.
"When Epicurus to the world had taught
That pleasure is the chiefest good,
(And was, perhaps, i'th' right, if rightly understood),
His life he to his doctrine brought
And in a garden's, shade that Sovereign pleasure sought :
Whoever a true Epicure would, be.
May there find cheap and virtuous luxury.
Vitellius table which did hold
As many creatures as the ark of old -
That fiscal table to which every day
All countries did a constant tribute pay -
Could nothing more delelectable afford
Than Nature's Liberality -
Helped with a little Art and Industry -
Allows the meanest gardener's board
The wanton Taste no Flesh nor fowl can choose,
For which the Grape or Melon it would lose,
Though all th' inhabitants of Earth and Air
Be listed in the Glutton's bill of fare.
* * * * *
Scarce any plant is growing here.
Which against Death some weapon does not bear,
Let cities boast that they provide
For life the ornaments of pride ;
But 'tis the Country and the Field.
That furnish it with Staff and Shield.
. . . . . . . . The Garden, Chertsey, 1666