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days), you must make a selection, from the great variety of vegetables,
of those you will raise in it; and you feel rather bound to supply your
own table from your own garden, and to eat only as you have sown.

I hold that no man has a right (whatever his sex, of course) to have a
garden to his own selfish uses. He ought not to please himself, but
every man to please his neighbor. I tried to have a garden that would
give general moral satisfaction. It seemed to me that nobody could
object to potatoes (a most useful vegetable); and I began to plant them
freely. But there was a chorus of protest against them. "You don't want
to take up your ground with potatoes," the neighbors said; "you can buy
potatoes" (the very thing I wanted to avoid doing is buying things).
"What you want is the perishable things that you cannot get fresh in the
market." "But what kind of perishable things?" A horticulturist of
eminence wanted me to sow lines of strawberries and raspberries right
over where I had put my potatoes in drills. I had about five hundred
strawberry plants in another part of my garden; but this fruit-fanatic
wanted me to turn my whole patch into vines and runners. I suppose I
could raise strawberries enough for all my neighbors; and perhaps I
ought to do it. I had a little space prepared for melons - muskmelons,
which I showed to an experienced friend. "You are not going to waste
your ground on muskmelons?" he asked. "They rarely ripen in this climate
thoroughly before frost." He had tried for years without luck. I
resolved not to go into such a foolish experiment. But the next day
another neighbor happened in. "Ah! I see you are going to have melons.
My family would rather give up anything else in the garden than
muskmelons - of the nutmeg variety. They are the most graceful things we
have on the table." So there it was. There was no compromise; it was
melons or no melons, and somebody offended in any case. I half resolved
to plant them a little late, so that they would, and they wouldn't. But
I had the same difficulty about string-beans (which I detest), and
squash (which I tolerate), and parsnips, and the whole round of green
things.

I have pretty much come to the conclusion that you have got to put your
foot down in gardening. If I had actually taken counsel of my friends, I
should not have had a thing growing in the garden to-day but weeds. And
besides, while you are waiting, Nature does not wait. Her mind is made
up. She knows just what she will raise; and she has an infinite variety
of early and late. The most humiliating thing to me about a garden is
the lesson it teaches of the inferiority of man. Nature is prompt,
decided, inexhaustible. She thrusts up her plants with a vigor and
freedom that I admire; and the more worthless the plant, the more rapid
and splendid its growth. She is at it early and late, and all night;
never tiring, nor showing the least sign of exhaustion.

"Eternal gardening is the price of liberty" is a motto that I should put
over the gateway of my garden, if I had a gate. And yet it is not wholly
true; for there is no liberty in gardening. The man who undertakes a
garden is relentlessly pursued. He felicitates himself that, when he
gets it once planted, he will have a season of rest and of enjoyment in
the sprouting and growing of his seeds. It is a keen anticipation. He
has planted a seed that will keep him awake nights, drive rest from his
bones, and sleep from his pillow. Hardly is the garden planted, when he
must begin to hoe it. The weeds have sprung up all over it in a night.
They shine and wave in redundant life. The docks have almost gone to
seed; and their roots go deeper than conscience. Talk about the London
docks! - the roots of these are like the sources of the Aryan race. And
the weeds are not all. I awake in the morning (and a thriving garden
will wake a person up two hours before he ought to be out of bed) and
think of the tomato-plants - the leaves like fine lace-work, owing to
black bugs that skip around and can't be caught. Somebody ought to get
up before the dew is off (why don't the dew stay on till after a
reasonable breakfast?) and sprinkle soot on the leaves. I wonder if it
is I. Soot is so much blacker than the bugs that they are disgusted and
go away. You can't get up too early if you have a garden. You must be
early due yourself, if you get ahead of the bugs. I think that, on the
whole, it would be best to sit up all night and sleep daytimes. Things
appear to go on in the night in the garden uncommonly. It would be less
trouble to stay up than it is to get up so early.

I have been setting out some new raspberries, two sorts - a silver and a
gold color. How fine they will look on the table next year in a
cut-glass dish, the cream being in a ditto pitcher! I set them four and
five feet apart. I set my strawberries pretty well apart also. The
reason is to give room for the cows to run through when they break into
the garden - as they do sometimes. A cow needs a broader track than a
locomotive; and she generally makes one. I am sometimes astonished to
see how big a space in a flower-bed her foot will cover. The raspberries
are called Doolittle and Golden Cap. I don't like the name of the first
variety, and, if they do much, shall change it to Silver Top. You can
never tell what a thing named Doolittle will do. The one in the Senate
changed color and got sour. They ripen badly - either mildew or rot on
the bush. They are apt to Johnsonize - rot on the stem. I shall watch the
Doolittles.


FOURTH WEEK

Orthodoxy is at a low ebb. Only two clergymen accepted my offer to come
and help hoe my potatoes for the privilege of using my vegetable
total-depravity figure about the snake-grass, or quack-grass, as some
call it; and those two did not bring hoes. There seems to be a lack of
disposition to hoe among our educated clergy. I am bound to say that
these two, however, sat and watched my vigorous combats with the weeds,
and talked most beautifully about the application of the snake-grass
figure. As, for instance, when a fault or sin showed on the surface of a
man, whether, if you dug down, you would find that it ran back and into
the original organic bunch of original sin within the man. The only
other clergyman who came was from out of town - a half-Universalist, who
said he wouldn't give twenty cents for my figure. He said that the
snake-grass was not in my garden originally, that it sneaked in under
the sod, and that it could be entirely rooted out with industry and
patience. I asked the Universalist-inclined man to take my hoe and try
it; but he said he hadn't time, and went away.

But, _jubilate_, I have got my garden all hoed the first time! I feel as
if I had put down the rebellion. Only there are guerrillas left here and
there, about the borders and in corners, unsubdued - Forest docks, and
Quantrell grass, and Beauregard pigweeds. This first hoeing is a
gigantic task: it is your first trial of strength with the
never-sleeping forces of Nature. Several times in its progress I was
tempted to do as Adam did, who abandoned his garden on account of the
weeds. (How much my mind seems to run upon Adam, as if there had been
only two really moral gardens - Adam's and mine!) The only drawback to my
rejoicing over the finishing of the first hoeing is, that the garden now
wants hoeing a second time. I suppose if my garden were planted in a
perfect circle, and I started round it with a hoe, I should never see an
opportunity to rest. The fact is, that gardening is the old fable of
perpetual labor; and I, for one, can never forgive Adam Sisyphus, or
whoever it was, who let in the roots of discord. I had pictured myself
sitting at eve with my family, in the shade of twilight, contemplating a
garden hoed. Alas! it is a dream not to be realized in this world.

My mind has been turned to the subject of fruit and shade trees in a
garden. There are those who say that trees shade the garden too much
and interfere with the growth of the vegetables. There may be something
in this; but when I go down the potato rows, the rays of the sun
glancing upon my shining blade, the sweat pouring from my face, I should
be grateful for shade. What is a garden for? The pleasure of man. I
should take much more pleasure in a shady garden. Am I to be sacrificed,
broiled, roasted, for the sake of the increased vigor of a few
vegetables? The thing is perfectly absurd. If I were rich, I think I
would have my garden covered with an awning, so that it would be
comfortable to work in it. It might roll up and be removable, as the
great awning of the Roman Colosseum was - not like the Boston one, which
went off in a high wind. Another very good way to do, and probably not
so expensive as the awning, would be to have four persons of foreign
birth carry a sort of canopy over you as you hoed. And there might be a
person at each end of the row with some cool and refreshing drink.
Agriculture is still in a very barbarous stage. I hope to live yet to
see the day when I can do my gardening, as tragedy is done, to slow and
soothing music, and attended by some of the comforts I have named. These
things come so forcibly into my mind sometimes as I work, that perhaps,
when a wandering breeze lifts my straw hat or a bird lights on a near
currant-bush and shakes out a full-throated summer song, I almost expect
to find the cooling drink and the hospitable entertainment at the end
of the row. But I never do. There is nothing to be done but to turn
round and hoe back to the other end.

Speaking of those yellow squash-bugs, I think I disheartened them by
covering the plants so deep with soot and wood-ashes that they could not
find them; and I am in doubt if I shall ever see the plants again. But I
have heard of another defense against the bugs. Put a fine wire screen
over each hill, which will keep out the bugs and admit the rain. I
should say that these screens would not cost much more than the melons
you would be likely to get from the vines if you bought them; but then,
think of the moral satisfaction of watching the bugs hovering over the
screen, seeing but unable to reach the tender plants within. That is
worth paying for.

I left my own garden yesterday and went over to where Polly was getting
the weeds out of one of her flower-beds. She was working away at the bed
with a little hoe. Whether women ought to have the ballot or not (and I
have a decided opinion on that point, which I should here plainly give
did I not fear that it would injure my agricultural influence), I am
compelled to say that this was rather helpless hoeing. It was patient,
conscientious, even pathetic hoeing; but it was neither effective nor
finished. When completed, the bed looked somewhat as if a hen had
scratched it; there was that touching unevenness about it. I think no
one could look at it and not be affected. To be sure, Polly smoothed it
off with a rake and asked me if it wasn't nice; and I said it was. It
was not a favorable time for me to explain the difference between
puttering hoeing and the broad, free sweep of the instrument which kills
the weeds, spares the plants, and loosens the soil without leaving it in
holes and hills. But, after all, as life is constituted, I think more of
Polly's honest and anxious care of her plants than of the most finished
gardening in the world.


SIXTH WEEK

Somebody has sent me a new sort of hoe, with the wish that I should
speak favorably of it, if I can consistently. I willingly do so, but
with the understanding that I am to be at liberty to speak just as
courteously of any other hoe which I may receive. If I understand
religious morals, this is the position of the religious press with
regard to bitters and wringing machines. In some cases, the
responsibility of such a recommendation is shifted upon the wife of the
editor or clergyman. Polly says she is entirely willing to make a
certificate, accompanied with an affidavit, with regard to this hoe; but
her habit of sitting about the garden walk on an inverted flower-pot
while I hoe somewhat destroys the practical value of her testimony.

As to this hoe, I do not mind saying that it has changed my view of the
desirableness and value of human life. It has, in fact, made life a
holiday to me. It is made on the principle that man is an upright,
sensible, reasonable being, and not a groveling wretch. It does away
with the necessity of the hinge in the back. The handle is seven and a
half feet long. There are two narrow blades, sharp on both edges, which
come together at an obtuse angle in front; and as you walk along with
this hoe before you, pushing and pulling with a gentle motion, the weeds
fall at every thrust and withdrawal, and the slaughter is immediate and
widespread. When I got this hoe, I was troubled with sleepless mornings,
pains in the back, kleptomania with regard to new weeders; when I went
into my garden I was always sure to see something. In this disordered
state of mind and body I got this hoe. The morning after a day of using
it I slept perfectly and late. I regained my respect for the Eighth
Commandment. After two doses of the hoe in the garden the weeds entirely
disappeared. Trying it a third morning, I was obliged to throw it over
the fence in order to save from destruction the green things that ought
to grow in the garden. Of course, this is figurative language. What I
mean is, that the fascination of using this hoe is such that you are
sorely tempted to employ it upon your vegetables after the weeds are
laid low, and must hastily withdraw it to avoid unpleasant results. I
make this explanation because I intend to put nothing into these
agricultural papers that will not bear the strictest scientific
investigation; nothing that the youngest child cannot understand and cry
for; nothing that the oldest and wisest men will not need to study with
care.

I need not add that the care of a garden with this hoe becomes the
merest pastime. I would not be without one for a single night. The only
danger is, that you may rather make an idol of the hoe, and somewhat
neglect your garden in explaining it and fooling about with it. I almost
think that, with one of these in the hands of an ordinary day-laborer,
you might see at night where he had been working.

Let us have peas. I have been a zealous advocate of the birds. I have
rejoiced in their multiplication. I have endured their concerts at four
o'clock in the morning without a murmur. Let them come, I said, and eat
the worms, in order that we, later, may enjoy the foliage and the fruits
of the earth. We have a cat, a magnificent animal, of the sex which
votes (but not a pole-cat) - so large and powerful that if he were in the
army he would be called Long Tom. He is a cat of fine disposition, the
most irreproachable morals I ever saw thrown away in a cat, and a
splendid hunter. He spends his nights, not in social dissipation, but in
gathering in rats, mice, flying-squirrels, and also birds. When he first
brought me a bird, I told him that it was wrong, and tried to convince
him, while he was eating it, that he was doing wrong; for he is a
reasonable cat, and understands pretty much everything except the
binomial theorem and the time down the cycloidal arc. But with no
effect. The killing of birds went on to my great regret and shame.

The other day I went to my garden to get a mess of peas. I had seen the
day before that they were just ready to pick. How I had lined the
ground, planted, hoed, bushed them! The bushes were very fine - seven
feet high, and of good wood. How I had delighted in the growing, the
blowing, the podding! What a touching thought it was that they had all
podded for me! When I went to pick them I found the pods all split open
and the peas gone. The dear little birds, who are so fond of the
strawberries, had eaten them all. Perhaps there were left as many as I
planted; I did not count them. I made a rapid estimate of the cost of
the seed, the interest of the ground, the price of labor, the value of
the bushes, the anxiety of weeks of watchfulness. I looked about me on
the face of nature. The wind blew from the south so soft and
treacherous! A thrush sang in the woods so deceitfully! All nature
seemed fair. But who was to give me back my peas? The fowls of the air
have peas; but what has man?

I went into the house. I called Calvin (that is the name of our cat,
given him on account of his gravity, morality, and uprightness. We never
familiarly call him John). I petted Calvin. I lavished upon him an
enthusiastic fondness. I told him that he had no fault; that the one
action that I had called a vice was an heroic exhibition of regard for
my interest. I bade him go and do likewise continually. I now saw how
much better instinct is than mere unguided reason. Calvin knew. If he
had put his opinion into English (instead of his native catalogue), it
would have been, "You need not teach your grandmother to suck eggs." It
was only the round of nature. The worms eat a noxious something in the
ground. The birds eat the worms. Calvin eats the birds. We eat - no, we
do not eat Calvin. There the chain stops. When you ascend the scale of
being, and come to an animal that is, like ourselves, inedible, you have
arrived at a result where you can rest. Let us respect the cat: he
completes an edible chain.

I have little heart to discuss methods of raising peas. It occurs to me
that I can have an iron pea-bush, a sort of trellis, through which I
could discharge electricity at frequent intervals and electrify the
birds to death when they alight; for they stand upon my beautiful bush
in order to pick out the peas. An apparatus of this kind, with an
operator, would cost, however, about as much as the peas. A neighbor
suggests that I might put up a scarecrow near the vines, which would
keep the birds away. I am doubtful about it; the birds are too much
accustomed to seeing a person in poor clothes in the garden to care much
for that. Another neighbor suggests that the birds do not open the pods;
that a sort of blast, apt to come after rain, splits the pods, and the
birds then eat the peas. It may be so. There seems to be complete unity
of action between the blast and the birds. But good neighbors, kind
friends, I desire that you will not increase, by talk, a disappointment
which you cannot assuage.


CROWDED

Chauncey Depew says: In the Berkshire Hills there was a funeral, and as
the friends and mourners gathered in the little parlor, there came the
typical New England female who mingles curiosity with her sympathy, and,
as she glanced around the darkened room, she said to the bereaved widow:

"Where did you get that new eight-day clock?"

"We ain't got no new eight-day clock," was the reply.

"You ain't? What's that in the corner there?"

"Why, no, that's not an eight-day clock; that's the deceased. We stood
him on end to make room for the mourners."

* * * * *

A young wife who lost her husband by death telegraphed the sad tidings
to her father in these succinct words: "Dear John died this morning at
ten. Loss fully covered by insurance."


THE ALARMED SKIPPER

"It was an Ancient Mariner"

Many a long, long year ago,
Nantucket skippers had a plan
Of finding out, though "lying low,"
How near New York their schooners ran.

They greased the lead before it fell,
And then, by sounding through the night,
Knowing the soil that stuck, so well,
They always guessed their reckoning right.

A skipper gray, whose eyes were dim,
Could tell, by _tasting_, just the spot,
And so below he'd "dowse the glim" -
After, of course, his "something hot."

Snug in his berth, at eight o'clock,
This ancient skipper might be found;
No matter how his craft would rock,
He slept - for skippers' naps are sound!

The watch on deck would now and then
Run down and wake him, with the lead;
He'd up, and taste, and tell the men
How many miles they went ahead.

One night, 'twas Jotham Marden's watch,
A curious wag - the peddler's son - -
And so he mused (the wanton wretch),
"To-night I'll have a grain of fun.

"We're all a set of stupid fools
To think the skipper knows by _tasting_
What ground he's on - Nantucket schools
Don't teach such stuff, with all their basting!"

And so he took the well-greased lead
And rubbed it o'er a box of earth
That stood on deck - a parsnip-bed - -
And then he sought the skipper's berth.

"Where are we now, sir? Please to taste."
The skipper yawned, put out his tongue,
Then ope'd his eyes in wondrous haste,
And then upon the floor he sprung!

The skipper stormed and tore his hair,
Thrust on his boots, and roared to Marden,
_"Nantucket's sunk, and here we are_
_Right over old Marm Hackett's garden!"_

JAMES T. FIELDS.

* * * * *

THE WEDDING JOURNEY

_He_: Dearest, if I had known this tunnel was so long, I'd have given
you a jolly hug.

_She_: Didn't you? Why, somebody did!




OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES


FOREIGN CORRESPONDENCE

Do I think that the particular form of lying often seen in newspapers
under the title, "From Our Foreign Correspondent," does any harm? Why,
no, I don't know that it does. I suppose it doesn't really deceive
people any more than the "Arabian Nights" or "Gulliver's Travels" do.
Sometimes the writers compile _too_ carelessly, though, and mix up facts
out of geographies and stories out of the penny papers, so as to mislead
those who are desirous of information. I cut a piece out of one of the
papers the other day which contains a number of improbabilities and, I
suspect, misstatements. I will send up and get it for you, if you would
like to hear it. Ah, this is it; it is headed


"OUR SUMATRA CORRESPONDENCE

"This island is now the property of the Stamford family - having been
won, it is said, in a raffle by Sir - - Stamford, during the
stock-gambling mania of the South Sea scheme. The history of this
gentleman may be found in an interesting series of questions
(unfortunately not yet answered) contained in the 'Notes and Queries.'
This island is entirely surrounded by the ocean, which here contains a
large amount of saline substance, crystallizing in cubes remarkable for
their symmetry, and frequently displays on its surface, during calm
weather, the rainbow tints of the celebrated South Sea bubbles. The
summers are oppressively hot, and the winters very probably cold; but
this fact cannot be ascertained precisely, as, for some peculiar reason,
the mercury in these latitudes never shrinks, as in more northern
regions, and thus the thermometer is rendered useless in winter.

"The principal vegetable productions of the island are the pepper tree
and the bread-fruit tree. Pepper being very abundantly produced, a
benevolent society was organized in London during the last century for
supplying the natives with vinegar and oysters, as an addition to that
delightful condiment. (Note received from Dr. D. P.) It is said,
however, that, as the oysters were of the kind called _natives_ in
England, the natives of Sumatra, in obedience to a natural instinct,
refused to touch them, and confined themselves entirely to the crew of
the vessel in which they were brought over. This information was
received from one of the oldest inhabitants, a native himself, and
exceedingly fond of missionaries. He is said also to be very skilful in
the _cuisine_ peculiar to the island.

"During the season of gathering pepper, the persons employed are subject
to various incommodities, the chief of which is violent and
long-continued sternutation, or sneezing. Such is the vehemence of
these attacks that the unfortunate subjects of them are often driven
backward for great distances at immense speed, on the well-known
principle of the ├Žolipile. Not being able to see where they are going,
these poor creatures dash themselves to pieces against the rocks, or are
precipitated over the cliffs, and thus many valuable lives are lost
annually. As during the whole pepper harvest they feed exclusively on
this stimulant, they become exceedingly irritable. The smallest injury
is resented with ungovernable rage. A young man suffering from the
_pepper-fever_, as it is called, cudgeled another most severely for
appropriating a superannuated relative of trifling value, and was only
pacified by having a present made him of a pig of that peculiar species
of swine called the _Peccavi_ by the Catholic Jews, who, it is well
known, abstain from swine's flesh in imitation of the Mohammedan
Buddhists.


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