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Introducers Of Exotic Flowers, Fruits, Etc
by [?]

There has been a class of men whose patriotic affection, or whose general benevolence, have been usually defrauded of the gratitude their country owes them: these have been the introducers of new flowers, new plants, and new roots into Europe; the greater part which we now enjoy was drawn from the luxuriant climates of Asia, and the profusion which now covers our land originated in the most anxious nursing, and were the gifts of individuals. Monuments are reared, and medals struck, to commemorate events and names, which are less deserving our regard than those who have transplanted into the colder gardens of the North the rich fruits, the beautiful flowers, and the succulent pulse and roots of more favoured spots; and carrying into their own country, as it were, another Nature, they have, as old Gerard well expresses it, “laboured with the soil to make it fit for the plants, and with the plants to make them delight in the soil.”

There is no part of the characters of PEIRESC and EVELYN, accomplished as they are in so many, which seems more delightful to me, than their enthusiasm for the garden, the orchard, and the forest.

PEIRESC, whose literary occupations admitted of no interruption, and whose universal correspondence throughout the habitable globe was more than sufficient to absorb his studious life, yet was the first man, as Gassendus relates in his interesting manner, whose incessant inquiries procured a great variety of jessamines; those from China, whose leaves, always green, bear a clay-coloured flower, and a delicate perfume; the American, with a crimson-coloured, and the Persian, with a violet-coloured flower; and the Arabian, whose tendrils he delighted to train over “the banqueting-house in his garden;” and of fruits, the orange-trees with a red and parti-coloured flower; the medlar; the rough cherry without stone; the rare and luxurious vines of Smyrna and Damascus; and the fig-tree called Adam’s, whose fruit by its size was conjectured to be that with which the spies returned from the land of Canaan. Gassendus describes the transports of Peiresc, when, the sage beheld the Indian ginger growing green in his garden, and his delight in grafting the myrtle on the musk vine, that the experiment might show us the myrtle wine of the ancients. But transplanters, like other inventors, are sometimes baffled in their delightful enterprises; and we are told of Peiresc’s deep regret when he found that the Indian cocoa-nut would only bud, and then perish in the cold air of France, while the leaves of the Egyptian papyrus refused to yield him their vegetable paper. But it was his garden which propagated the exotic fruits and flowers, which he transplanted into the French king’s, and into Cardinal Barberini’s, and the curious in Europe; and these occasioned a work on the manuring of flowers by Ferrarius, a botanical Jesuit, who there described these novelties to Europe.

Had Evelyn only composed the great work of his “Sylva, or a Discourse of Forest Trees,” his name would have excited the gratitude of posterity. The voice of the patriot exults in the dedication to Charles II. prefixed to one of the later editions. “I need not acquaint your majesty, how many millions of timber-trees, besides infinite others, have been propagated and planted throughout your vast dominions, at the instigation and by the sole direction of this work, because your majesty has been pleased to own it publicly for my encouragement.” And surely while Britain retains her awful situation among the nations of Europe, the “Sylva” of Evelyn will endure with her triumphant oaks. It was a retired philosopher who aroused the genius of the nation, and who, casting a prophetic eye towards the age in which we live, contributed to secure our sovereignty of the seas. The present navy of Great Britain has been constructed with the oaks which the genius of Evelyn planted!