Elizabeth von Arnim: The Solitary Summer – Reading Progress Update: 55 of 190 Pages

The Solitary Summer - Elizabeth von Arnim

“A century ago a man lived here who loved his garden.  He loved, however, in his younger years, travelling as wll, but in his travels did not forget this little corner of the earth belonging to him, and brought back the seeds of many strange trees such as had never been seen in these parts before, and tried experiments with them in the uncongenial soil, and though many perished a few took hold, and grew, and flourished and shade me now at tea-time.  What flowers he had, and how he arranged his beds, no one knows, except that the eleven beds round the sun-dial were put there by him; and of one thing he seems to have been inordinately fond, and that was lilac.  We have to thank him for the surprising beauty of the garden in May and early June, for he it was who planted the great groups of it, and the banks of it, and massed it between the pines and firs.  Wherever a lilac bush could go a lilac bush went; and not common sorts, but a variety of good sorts, white, and purple, and pink, and mauve, and he must have planted it with special care and discrimination, for it grows here as nothing else will and keeps his memory, in my heart at least, for ever gratefully green.  On the wall behind our pew in church there is his monument, he having died here full of years, in the peace that attends the last hours of a good man who has loved his garden; and to the long Latin praises of his virtues and eminence I add, as I pass beneath it on Sundays, a heartiest Amen.  Who would not join in the praises of the man to whom you owe your lilacs, and your Spanish chestnuts, and your tulip trees, and your pyramid oaks?  “He was a good man, for he loved his garden” — that is the epitaph I wolld have put on his monument, because it gives one a far clearer sense of his goodness and explains it better than any amount of sonorous Latinities.  How cold he be anything but good since he loved a garden — that divine filter that filters all the grossness out of us, and leaves each time we have been in it, clearer, and purer, and more harmless?”

What a fitting and lovely epitaph that would have been indeed.

And now I’m wondering if Alexander von Humboldt ever visited Nassenheide …

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Summary post HERE.
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