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Justus Lipsius, Two Bookes of Constancie (1584)
Chapter I: The occasion of renewing their talke. The going vnto Langius his pleasant garden, and the commendation thereof
The next day it seemed good to Langius to bring me vnto his gardens, being two, which he kept with verie great care: one in the hil ouer against his house, the other further off in a valley by the riuer of Moze.
Which riuer holdeth his course gentlie,
By a town seated most pleasantlie.
Therefore comming somewhat timely into my chamber, what (Lipsius) said he, shall we walke abroade, or had you rather take your ease and sitte still? Nay (Langius) I had rather walke with you. But whether shall we goe? If it please you, (quoth Langius) to my garden by the riuers side; the way is not farre, you shall exercise your bodie, and see the towne: Finallie, the aire is there pleasant and fresh in this hot weather. It pleaseth mee well (said I) neither shall any way be tedious for me to follow if you goe before; though it were to the furthest Indies. And therewith calling for our clokes, we put them on: we went, and went into the garden. In the very entrance as I cast my eyes about with a wandering curiositie, woondring with my selfe at the elegancie and beautie of the place: My Sire (saide I) what pleasantnesse and brauerie is this? You haue heauen here (Langius) and no garden: Neither doe the glittering stares shine clearer in a faire night, than your fine flowers glistering and shewing their collours vvith varietie. Poets speake much of the gardens of Adonis and Alcinous: They are trifles and in comparison of this no better than pictures of Flies: when I drew nearer and applied some of the flowers to my nose & eyes, what shal I wish first (quoth I) to be all eye, with Argus or nose with Catullus? This delight so tickleth and feedeth both my sences at once. Away, away, al ye odours of Arabia, you are lothsome vnto mee in comparison of this pure and celestiall aire that I sauour. Then spake Langius wringing me softly by the hand and not without laughter: It is well commended of you (Lipsius) but trulie neither I nor my countrey dame Flora, here present, doe deserue these loftie and friendlie praises. Yea, but they are truly deserued (Langius). Think ye that I flatter you? I speak in good earnest and from my heart. The Elisian fieldes are not Elisian in respect of this your ferme. For behold, what exquisite neatnesse is here on euery side? what order? how proportionablie are all thinges disposed in their borders and places, that euen cherworke in tables is not more curious? Againe, what plenty is here of flowers and hearbes? What strangeness and noueltie? In so much that nature seemeth to haue compacted with in this little plot, whatsoeuer thing of price is comprised in this, or what new world.
Chapter II: The praise of Gardens in generall. That the care of them is ancient, and from nature it selfe. That it was used by kinges and great personages. Finallie, the pleasure of them laid open before our eies; and my wish not ungodlie.
And surely (Langius) this your industrious care of gardens, is a labour well-beseeming and praise worthy. A labour, whereto (if I guesse not amisse) euerie good man as he is most temperately giuen, so is he drawn by nature, and addicted thereunto. An argument thereof is this, that you cannot name anie kind of delight, which the chiefe men of all ages haue more affected, then this. Looke into the holie Scripture, and you shall see that gardens had their beginnings with the world, God himself appointing the first man his habitation therein, as the seate of a blessed and happie life. In prophane writers the gardens of Adonis, of Alcinous, Tantalus & the Hesperides are grown into fables and common prouerbes; Also in very good approoued histories you shall find, that kind Cyrus had gardens and Orchardes planted with his owne handes: That Semiramis had goodly flowers hanging in the aire: Marsinissa strange and famous garnished gardens, to the wonder of Afrike. Moreouer among the ancient Grecians and Romans, how many could I alleadge that haue cast aside all other cares and betaken themselues wholly to this studie? And they all (in a word) Philosophers and wise men, who eschewing the cities and troublesome assemblies of people, contained themselues within the bounds and limits of their gardens. And among these, methinks I see kind Tarquinius in the time of that first olde Rome, walking pleasantlie in his garden, and cropping the toppes of Poppie. I remember Cato Censorius giuen to the pleasure of gardens and writing seriouslie of that argument: Lucullus after his victories obtained in Asia, taking his recreation in his gardens. Silla, who forsaking the (a) Dictatorship spent his olde age ioyously here: Lastly I may not forget Dioclesian the Emperour, that preferred his pot-hearbes and Lettice of a poore farme at Salona, before the imperiall scepter and robes of purple. Neither haue the common people dissented from the iudgement of the better sort, in this point, in that I knowe all honest mindes and free from ambition, haue euer bene delighted in this exercise. For there is in vs a secrete and naturall force (the causes whereof I cannot easily comprehend) which draweth vnto this harmlesse and liberall recreation, not onelie those that be prone by nature that way: but also such austere and graue personages, as woulde seem to despise and deride it.
And as it is not possible for any man to contemplate heauen and those immortal spirits there, without feare & reuerence: so can we not behold the earth & her sacred treasures, nor the excellent beautie of this inferior world, without an inward tickling and delight of the senses. Aske thy mind and vnderstanding, it wil confesse it self to be led, yea & fed with this aspect and sight. Aske thy senses of seeing and smelling, they wil acknowledge that they take not greater delight in anything, than in the decent borders and beddes of gardens. Pause I pray thee a litle while and behold the multitude of flowers and their daylie increasings, one in the stalke, one in the bud, another in the blossome. Marke how one fadeth suddenly, and another springeth. Finallie, obserue in one kind of flower the beautie, the forme, the shape or fashion either agreeing or disagreeing among themselues a thousand wayes. What minde is so sterne that amid all these will not bend it selfe with some mild cogitation, and be mollified thereby? Now come hither a whiles thou curious eie, and be fixed a litle vpon these gay and neat collours; mark wel this natural purple, that sanguine, this iuory, that snowy collour; This fiery, that golden hue: and so many other collours besides, as the best painter may aemulate, but neuer bee able to imitate with his pensill. Lastly, what a sweet odour is there? What percing sauour? And I wot not what part of the heauenly aire infused from aboue, that it is not without cause why the Poets fayned, that flowers for the most part sprang vp first from the iuice and bloud of their gods. O the true fountaine of ioy and sweete delight! O the seate of Venus and the Graces. I wish to rest me and lead my whole lyfe in your bowers. God graunt me leaue (farre from all tumults of townes) to walk with a gladsome and wandering eie amid these hearbes and Flowers of the knowne and (a) vnknown worlde; and to reach my handes and to cast mine eies one while to this full-growne Flower, and another while to that newlie in the blossom: so that my minde being beguiled with a kind of wandering retchlesnes, I may cast off the remembrance of all cares and troubles
Lipsius, Justus. Tvvo Bookes of Constancie. Transl. Sir John Stradling. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1939, pp. 129–133.