Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/426

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great stress upon that urbanity which is acquired only by long association of man with man. Greek pedagogy insists that education shall above all things make the gentleman. Greek thinkers were far more interested in their fellow men than in their irrational companions or in the silent creation. It is true Theocritus, and the much later Dio, praise country life, but they lived in an age that was preeminently one of books. They commend the simple and unsophisticated manners of those who keep aloof from the haunts of men more than they express delight in their rustic surroundings. They do not like nature so much as they dislike man. Among the Romans, Virgil and Horace follow the same course. They either never leave the city or they stay within easy reach of it. They do as did the usurer whom the latter portrays in his much-read and often-translated second Epode. After enumerating the delights of country life and the various vexations of those who have much to do with men, he ends just where he began—by staying in the city. This praise of rural life reads as if written by one who knew but little about it. We find much the same thing in Germany in Gessner's writings and in England in the age of Anne.

Pope declares:

Happy the man whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound;
Content to breathe his native air
On his own ground.

Yet he never went farther from London than Virgil or Horace from Rome. We get curious glimpses into the vagaries of taste when we trace even in the barest outline the manifestations of what was supposed to be a love of nature. Virgil's Pastoral poems seem to have been the original inspiration. We can follow their influence in almost every country of Europe from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century, and, to some extent, in the eighteenth. Even the horticultural art was made subservient to this fantastic taste of which Lenotre was the chief apostle. Trees and shrubbery were clipped and trained into artificial forms, and flowers were planted according to geometrical figures. The aristocracy professed a love for nature, but it was nature of a very unnatural sort. It is not until we come to Bloomfield and Crabbe, but especially to Wordsworth, that we find nature and the unsophisticated man receiving a genuine poetical treatment by persons who knew both at first hand and studied them with genuine sympathy. Walter Scott was likewise an ardent lover of nature and of natural scenery. Both his poetry and his prose are evidence. His novels contain many elaborate descriptions of scenery that bear the stamp of verisimilitude. They are the work of a constructive imagination of the highest order. If Xenophon had had an eye for the beauties of mountain and plain, of forest and stream, he would have left upon record his impressions of them rather than the numerous and long speeches he has handed down to posterity, made for the most part 'out