Frank Frankfort Moore.

A garden of peace, a medley in quietude online

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the foolish practice ever since."

"Why foolish?" asked Dorothy quite affably.
' You don't consider it foolish to ring a bell to go to
dinner, and why should you think it so in the matter
of going to church ? "

" My dear creature, you don't keep ringing your
dinner bell for half an hour, with an extra five min-
utes for the cook."

" No," said she quickly. " And why not? Because
people don't need any urging to come to dinner, but
they require a good deal to go to church, and then
they don't go."

' There's something in that," said he. " Anyhow
they've been ringing those summoning bells so long


that I'm sure they will go on with them until all
the churches are turned into school-houses."

" And then there will be a passing-bell rung for
the passing of the churches themselves I suppose the
origin of the passing-bell was the necessity to scare
away the devil at the supreme moment," remarked
Hey wood.

" Undoubtedly it was," said Friswell. " The prac-
tice exists among many of those races that are still
savage enough to believe in the devil a good hand-
made tom-tom does the business quite effectually,
I've heard."

" Do you know, my dear Friswell, I think that
when you sit down with us in our Garden of Peace,
the conversation usually takes the form of the dia-
logue in Magnall's Questions or the Child's Guide
or Joyce's Science. You are so full of promiscuous
information which you cannot hide? "

He roared in laughter, and we all joined in.
' You have just said what my wife says to me
daily," said he. " I'll try to repress myself in

" Don't try to do anything of the sort," cried Doro-
thy. ' You never cease to be interesting, no matter
how erudite you are."

" What I can't understand is, how he has escaped
assassination all these years," remarked Heywood.
" I think the time is coming when whoso slayeth Fris-
well will think that he doeth God's service. Just
think all of you of the mental state of the man who
fails to see that, however heathenish may be the prac-


tice of church-bell-ringing, the fact that it has
brought into existence some of the most beautiful
buildings in the world makes the world its debtor for
evermore! "

" I take back all my words I renounce the devil
and all his work," cried the other man. ' Yes, I hold
that Giotto's Campanile justifies all the clashing and
banging and hammering before and since. On the
same analogy I believe with equal sincerity that the
Temple of Jupiter fully justifies the oblations to the
Father of gods, and the Mosque of Omar the mas-
sacres of Islam."

" Go on/' said Dorothy. " Say that the sufferings
of Alexander Selkirk were justified since without
them we should not have Robinson Crusoe/'

" I will say anything you please, my Lady of the
Garden," said he heartily. " I will say that the beauty
of that border beside you justifies Wakeley's lavish
advertisements of Hop Mixture."

I felt that this sort of thing had gone on long
enough, so I made a hair-pin bend in the conversation
by asking Dorothy if she remembered the day of our
visit to Robinson Crusoe's island.

" I never knew that you had been to Juan Fer-
nandez," said Friswell.

And then I saw how I could score off Friswell.

" I said Robinson Crusoe's island, not Alexander
Selkirk's," I cried. " Alexander Selkirk's was Juan
Fernandez, Robinson Crusoe's was Tobago in the
West Indies, which Dorothy and I explored some
years ago."


" Of course I should have remembered that," said
he. " I recollect now what a stumbling-block to me
the geography of Robinson Crusoe was when I first
read the book. A foolish explanatory preface to the
cheap copy I read gave a garbled version of the story
of Selkirk and his island, and said no word about
Daniel Defoe having been wise enough to change
Juan Fernandez for another."

' You were no worse than the writer of a para-
graph I read in one of the leading papers a short
time ago, relative to the sale of the will which Selkirk
made in the year 1717 years after Captain Woodes
Rodgers had picked him up at the island where he
had been marooned nearly four years before," said
Dorothy, who, I remembered, had laughed over the
erudition of the paragraph. ' The writer affirmed
that the will had been made before the man * had
sailed unwittingly for Tristan d'Acunha ' those
were his exact words, and this island he seemed to
identify with Bishop Heber's, for he said it was
* where every prospect pleases and only man is vile.'
What was in the poor man's mind was the fact that
some one had written a poem about Alexander Sel-
kirk, and he mixed Cowper up with Heber."

" You didn't write to the paper to put the fellow
right," said Hey wood.

" Good gracious, no ! " cried Dorothy. " I knew
that no one in these aeroplaning days would care
whether the island was Tristan d'Acunha or Juan
Fernandez. Besides, there was too much astray in
the paragraph for a simple woman to set about mak-


ing good. Anyhow the document fetched 60 at the

oo Jp

" You remember the lesson that was learnt by the
man who wrote to correct something a newspaper
had written about him," said Heywood. 'The
editor called me a swindler, a liar, and a politician,'
said he, relating his experience, ' and like a fool I
wrote to contradict it. I was a fool: for what did
the fellow do in the very next issue but prove every
statement that he had made! '

" Oh, isn't it lucky that I didn't write to that
paper? " cried Dorothy.

But when we began to talk of the imaginary suf-
ferings of Robinson Crusoe, and to try to imagine
what were the real sufferings of Selkirk, Friswell
laughed, saying,

" I'm pretty sure that what the bonnie Scots body
suffered from most poignantly was the island not hav-
ing any of his countrymen at hand, so that they could
start a Burns Club or a Caledonian Society, as the
six representatives of Scotland are about to do in our
town of Yardley, which has hitherto been free from
anything of that sort. Did you ever hear the story
of Andrew Gareloch and Alec MacClackan? "

We assured him that we had never heard a word
of it.

He told it to us, and this is what it amounted to :

Messrs. Andrew Gareloch and Alec MacClackan
were merchants of Shanghai who were unfortunate
enough to be wrecked on their voyage home. They
were the sole survivors of the ship's company, and


the desert island on which they found themselves was
in the Pacific, only a few miles in circumference.
In the lagoon were plenty of fish and on the ridge of
the slope were plenty of cocoa-nuts. After a good
meal they determined to name the place. They called
it St. Andrew Lang Syne Island, and became as fes-
tive and brotherly they pronounced it " britherly "
as was possible over cocoa-nut milk: it was a long
time since either of them had tasted milk of any sort.
The second day they founded a local Benevolent So-
ciety of St. Andrew, and held the inaugural dinner;
the third day they founded a Burns Club, with a
supper; the fourth day they starts a Scots Associa-
tion, with a series of monthly reunions for the dis-
cussion of the Minstrelsy of the Border; the fifth day
they laid out golf links with the finest bunkers in
the world, and instituted a club lunch (strictly non-
alcoholic) ; the sixth day they formed a Curling Club
the lagoon would make a braw rink, they said, if
it only froze ; and if it didn't freeze, well, they could
still have an annual Curlers' Supper; the Seventh
Day they kept. On the evening of the same day a
vessel was sighted bearing up for the island; but of
course neither of the men would hoist a signal on the
Seventh Day, and they watched the craft run past
the island; though they were amazed to see that she
had only courses and a foresail set, in spite of the fact
that the breeze was a light one. The next morning,
when they were sitting at breakfast, discussing
whether they should lay the foundation stone with
a commemorative lunch of a Free Kirk, a Wee Free


Kirk, a U.P. meeting-house or an Ould Licht meet-
ing-housethey had been fiercely debating on the
merits of each during the previous twenty years
they saw the vessel returning with all sail on her. To
run up one of their shirts to a pole at the entrance
to the lagoon was a matter of a moment, and they
saw that their signal was responded to. She was
steered by their signals through the entrance to the
lagoon and dropped anchor.

She turned out to be the Bonnie Doon, of Dundee,
Douglas MacKellar, Master. He had found wreck-
age out at sea and had thought it possible that some
survivors of the wreck might want passages " hame."

" Nae, nae," cried both men. ' We're no in need o'
passages hame just the noo. But what for did ye no
mak' for the lagoon yestreen in the gloamin' ? "

" Hoot awa' hoot awa' ! ye wouldna hae me come
ashore on the Sawbath Day," said Captain Mac-

* Ye shortened sail though," said Mr. MacClackan.

" Ay ; on Saturday nicht : I never let her do more
than just sail on the Sawbath. But what for did ye
no run up a signal, ye loons, if ye spied me sae weel? "

" Hoot awa' hoot awa', man, ye wouldna hae a
body mak' a signal on the Sawbath Day."

" Na na; no a reg'lar signal; but ye micht hae run
up a wee bittie just eneuch tae catch me e'en on.
Ay an' mebbe ye'll be steppin' aboard the noo? "

" We'll hae to hae a clash about it, Captain."

Well, they talked it over cautiously for a few
hours; for Captain MacKellar was a hard man at a


bargain, and he would not agree to give them a pass-
age under two pound a head. At last, however, nego-
tiations were concluded, the men got aboard the
Bonnie Doon, and piloted her through the channel.
They reached the Clyde in safety, and Captain Mac-
Kellar remarked,

" Weel, ma freens, I'm in hopes that ye'll pay me
ower the siller this day."

" Ay, ye maun be in the quare swithers till ye see
the siller; but we'll hand it ower, certes," said the
passengers. " In the meantime, we'd tak' the leeberty
o' callin' your attention to a wee bit contra-claim that
we hae japped doon on a bit slip o' paper. It's three
poon nine for Harbour Dues that ye owe us, Captain
MacKellar, and twa poon ten for pilotage it's com-
pulsory at yon island, so 'tis, so mebbe ye'll mak' it
convenient to hand us ower the differs when we land.
Ay, Douglas MacKellar, ma mon, ye shouldna try
to get the better o' Brither-Scots ! "

Captain MacKellar was a God-fearing man, but he
said, " Dom! "


WHATEVER my garden may be, I think I can honestly
claim for it that it has no educational value. The
educational garden is one in which all the different
orders and classes and groups and species and genera
are displayed in such a way as to make no display,
but to enable an ordinary person in the course of ten
or twelve years to become a botanist. Botany is the
syntax of the garden. A man may know everything
about syntax and yet never become a poet; and a
garden should be a poem.

I remember how a perfect poem of a garden was
translated into the most repulsively correct prose by
the exertions of a botanist. It was in a semi-public
pleasure ground maintained by subscribers of a guinea
each, and of course it was administered by a Commit-
tee. After many years of failure, an admirable head-
gardener was found a young and enthusiastic man
with an eye for design and an appreciation of form as
well as colour. Within a short space of time he turned
a commonplace pleasure-ground into a thing of beauty ;
and, not content with making the enormous domed
conservatory and the adjoining hothouse a blaze of
colour and fragrance, he attacked an old worn-out
greenhouse and, without asking for outside assistance,



transformed it into a natural sub-tropical landscape
palms and cacti and giant New Zealand ferns,
growing amid rocky surroundings, and wonderful
lilies filling a large natural basin, below an effective
cascade. The place was just what such a place should
be, conveying the best idea possible to have of a moist
corner of a tropical forest, only without the over-
whelming shabbiness which was the most striking note
of every tropical forest I have ever seen in a natural
condition. In addition to its attractiveness in this
respect, it would have become a source of financial
profit to the subscribers, for the annual " thinning
out " of its superfluous growths would mean the
stocking of many private conservatories.

On the Committee of Management, however, there
was one gentleman whose aim in life was to be re-
garded by his fellow-tradesmen as a great botanist:
he was, to a great botanist, what the writer of the
cracker mottoes is to a great poet, or the compiler of
the puzzle-page of a newspaper is to a great mathe-
matician; but he was capable of making a fuss and
convincing a bunch of tradesmen that making a fuss
is a proof of superiority ; and that botany and beauty
are never to be found in association. He condemned
the tropical garden as an abomination, because it was
impossible that a place which could give hospitality
to a growth of New Zealand fern (Phormium
. Hookeri) , should harbour a sago palm ( Metroxylon
Elatum ) , which was not indigenous to New Zealand ;
and then he went on to talk about the obligations of
the place to be educational and not ornamental, show-


ing quite plainly that to be botanical should be the
highest aim of any one anxious for the welfare of his


The result of his harangue was the summoning of
the head-gardener before the Board and his condem-
nation on the ground that he had put the Beautiful
in the place that should be occupied by the Educa-
tional. He was ordered to abandon that unauthorised
hobby of his for gratifying the senses of foolish people
who did not know the difference between Phormium
Hookeri and Metroxylon Elatum, and to set to work
to lay out an Educational Garden.

He looked at the members of the Board, and, like
the poker player who said, " I pass," when he heard
who had dealt the cards, he made no attempt to de-
fend himself. He laid out the Educational Garden
that was required of him, and when he had done so
and the Board thought that he was resigned to his
fate as the interpreter of the rules of prosody as ap-
plied to a garden, he handed in his resignation, and
informed them that he had accepted a situation as
Curator of a park in a rival town, and at a salary
a Curator gets a salary and a gardener only wages
of exactly double the sum granted to him by the
employers from whom he was separating himself.

In three years the place he left had become bank-
rupt and was wound up. It was bought at a " scrap-
ping " figure by the Municipality, and its swings are
now said to be the highest in five counties.

I saw the Educational Garden that he laid out, and
I knew, and so did he, that he was " laying out "the


undertaker's phrase the whole concern. When he
had completed it, I felt that I could easily resist the
temptation to introduce education at the expense of
design into any garden of mine.

It is undeniable that a place constructed on such a
botanical system may be extremely interesting to a
number of students, and especially so to druggists'
apprentices; but turning to so-called "educational
purposes " a piece of garden that can grow roses, is
like using the silk of an embroiderer to darn the cor-
duroys of a railway porter.

But it was a revelation to some people how the
growing of war-time vegetables where only flowers
had previously been grown, was not out of harmony
with the design of a garden. I must confess that it
was with some misgiving that I planted rows of run-
ner beans in a long wall border which had formerly
been given over to annuals, and globe artichokes
where lilies did once inhabit I even went so far as to
sow carrots in lines between the echeverias of the
stone-edged beds, and lettuces at the back of my
fuchsia bushes. But the result from an aesthetic
standpoint was so gratifying that I have not ceased
to wonder why such beautiful things should be treated
as were the fruit-trees, and looked on as steerage pas-
sengers are by the occupants of the fifty-guinea state-
rooms of a fashionable Cunarder. The artichoke is
really a garden inmate; alongside the potatoes in the
kitchen garden, it is like the noble Sir Pelleas who
was scullery-maid in King Arthur's household. The
globe artichoke is like one of those British peers whom


we hear of usually when they have just died as
serving in the forecastle of a collier tramp. It is a
lordly thing, and, I have found, it makes many of the
most uppish forms in the flower garden hide dimin-
ished heads. An edging of dwarf cabbages of some
varieties is quite as effective as one of box, and Dell's
" black beet " cannot be beaten where a foliage effect
is desired. Of course the runner bean must be accepted
as a flower. If it has been excluded from its rightful
quarters, it is because the idea is prevalent that it
cannot be grown unless in the unsightly way that finds
favour in the kitchen garden. It would seem as if the
controllers of this department aimed at achieving the
ugly in this particular. They make a sort of gipsy
tripod of boughs, only without removing the twigs,
and let the plant work its way up many of these.
This is not good enough for a garden where neatness
is regarded as a virtue.

I found that these beans can be grown with abun-
dant success in a border, by running a stout wire
along brackets, wo or three feet out from a wall, and
suspending the roughest manila twine at intervals to
carnation wires in the soil below. This gives an un-
obtrusive support to the plants, and in a fortnight the
whole, of this flimsy frontage is hidden, and the blos-
soms are blazing splendidly. I have had rows of over
a hundred feet of these beans, but not one support
gave way even in the strongest wind, and the house-
hold was supplied up to the middle of November.

I am sure that such experiments add greatly to the
interest of gardening; and I encourage my Olive


branch in her craving after a flower garden that shall
be made up wholly of weeds. She has found out, I
cannot say how, that the dandelion is a thing of beauty
she discovered one in a garden that she visited, and
having never seen one before, inquired what was its
name. I told her that the flower was not absolutely
new to me, but lest I should lead her astray as to its
name, she would do well to put her inquiry to the
gardener and ask him for any hints he could give her
as to its culture, and above all, how to propagate it
freely. If he advised cuttings and a hot bed, perhaps
he might be able to tell her the right temperature, and
if he thought ordinary bonemeal would do for a fer-
tiliser for it.

Beyond a doubt a bed of dandelions would look
very fine, but one cannot have everything in a garden,
and I hope I may have the chance, hitherto denied
to me, of resigning myself to its absence from mine,
even though it be only for a single week.

But there are many worthy weeds to be found when
one looks carefully for them, and I should regard
with great interest any display of them in a bed (in a
neighbour's garden, providing that that garden was
not within a mile of mine).

The transformation just mentioned of a decrepit
greenhouse into the sub-tropical pleasure-ground, was
not my inspiration for my treatment of a greenhouse
which encumbered a part of my ground only a short
time ago. It was a necessity for a practice of rigid
economy that inspired me when I examined the dilapi-
dations and estimated the cost of " making good " at


something little short of fifty pounds. It had been
patched often enough before, goodness knows, and its
wounds had been poulticed with putty until in some
places it seemed to be suffering from an irrepressible
attack of mumps.

Now the building had always been an offence to
me. It was like an incompetent servant, who, in ad-
dition to being incapable of earning his wages, is pos-
sessed of an enormous appetite. With an old-fash-
ioned heating apparatus the amount of fuel it con-
sumed year by year was appalling; and withal it had
more than once played us false, with the result that
several precious lives were lost in a winter when we
looked to the greenhouse to give us some colour for
indoors. With such a list of convictions against it, I
was not disposed to be lenient, and the suggestion of
the discipline of a Reformatory was coldly received
by me.

The fact was, that in my position as judge, I re-
sembled too closely the one in Gilbert's Trial by Jury
to allow of my being trusted implicitly in cases in
which personal attractions are to be put in the scales
of even-handed Justice; and with all its burden of
guilt that greenhouse bore the reputation of unsight-
liness. If it had had a single redeeming feature, I
might have been susceptible to its influence; but it
had none. It had been born commonplace, and old
age had not improved it.

Leaning against the uttermost boundary wall of
the garden, it had been my achievement to hide it
by the hedge of briar roses and the colonnade; but


it was sometimes only with great difficulty that we
could head off visitors from its doors. Heywood
heaped on it his concentrated opprobrium by calling
it the Crystal Palace; but Dorothy, who had been a
student of Jane Eyre, had given it the name of
" Rochester's Wife," and we had behaved toward it
pretty much as Jane's lover had behaved in his en-
deavour to set up a younger and more presentable
object in the place of his mature demented partner:
we had two other glass-houses that we could enter and
see entered without misgiving; so that when we stood
beside the offending one with the estimate of the cost
of its reformation, I, at any rate, was not disposed to

" A case for the Reformatory," said Dorothy, and
in a moment the word brought to my mind the advice
of the young lord Hamlet, and I called out,

" Reform it altogether."

'What do you mean?" she asked; for she some-
times gives me credit for uttering words with a mean-
ing hidden somewhere among the meshes of verbiage.

" I have spoken the decision of the Court," I re-
plied. " ' Reform it altogether.' "

" At a cost a waste of sixty odd pounds? "

" I will not try to renew its youth like the eagles,"
said I, in the tone of voice of a prophet in the act of
seeing a vision. " I shall make a new thing of it, and
a thing of beauty into the bargain."

She laughed pretty much as in patriarchal days
Sarai laughed at the forecast of an equally unlikely


After an interval she laughed again, but with no
note of derision.

" I see it all now all! " she cried. ' You will be
the Martin Luther of its Reformation: you wiU cut
the half of it away; but will the Church stand when
you have done with it? "

" Stronger than it ever was. I will hear the voice
of no protestant against it," I replied.

My scheme had become apparent to her in almost
every particular as it had flashed upon me; and we
began operations the very next day.

And this is what the operation amounted to an

When a limb has suffered such an injury as to make
its recovery hopeless as well as a danger to the whole
body, the saving grace of the surgeon's knife is re-
sorted to, and the result is usually the rescue of the
patient. Our resolution was to cut away the rotten
parts of the roof of the greenhouse and convert the
remainder, which was perfectly sound, into a peach-
shelter; and within a couple of weeks the operation
had been performed with what appeared to us to be
complete success.

We removed the lower panes of glass without diffi-
culty the difficulty was to induce the others to re-
main under their bondage of ancient putty : " They
don't make putty like that nowadays," remarked my
builder, who is also, in accordance with the dictation
of a job like this, a housebreaker, a carpenter, and a
glazier a sort of unity of many tools that comes to


our relief (very appropriately) from the United

I replied to him enigmatically that putty was a
very good servant, but a very bad master. The dic-
tum had no connection with the matter in hand, but
it sounded as if it had, and that it was the crystallisa-
tion of wisdom; and the good workman accepted it

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Online LibraryFrank Frankfort MooreA garden of peace, a medley in quietude → online text (page 17 of 18)