Treasures of Aromatic Literature-The Story of an old Garden BY JANE W. GUTHRIE

The Story of an old Garden



THE wide valley, the languorous flow of a peaceful river, the vast cultivated fields were before me; the old stone house with its weight of a century of years was behind me; and I, in the midst of a deserted garden, once a marvel, the pride of its owner, a garden of hope and joy and youth—the youth of an imperial domain, of a State which is now verging toward its hundredth year, of a man who moulded many of the institutions of that State, and lives in thought as a figure of destiny pointing the way to an accomplishment of heroic deeds and the fulfilment of high ideals.

At my feet a small yellow crocus fluttered its silken garments in the raw March wind; the towering shrubs, unclipt and unkempt, waved branches toward me in very desolateness, as if demanding the human sympathy so long accorded them. In almost obliterated borders the weeds of last year held out

detaining fringes, and the box hedges and the great walnut-trees rattled in a dull and hopeless way in the all-pervading presence of a coining March gale.

The old stone house stood undismayed, but cheerless and comfortless, no hint of life in the uncurtained windows, the smokeless chimneys, the barred doors, which, in all the hundred years now past and gone, have never before been closed to guests, but opened with hospitality princely in its generosity. Silent and immutable as the Sphinx, it is yet so strong, so secure, that its very story seems as much a part of the future of our great nation as of the past. With the beautiful terraced garden as a background, one reads there a romance typically American; the story of a man who lived and loved, and planned and accomplished great deeds by the strength of his own individuality. Drawing inspiration from the founders of our nation, he, more than any other one man. gave form and vigor and impulse to the development of the vast imperial West.

The long procession of those who conquered a continent passed through, and by, and far beyond the old home; but its place in history marks it as a way-side inn of the nation where the vigorous, eventful life of a young State was told.

Down in the valley lies the little city where the State of Ohio was born. It is rich in memory of the first days of the great commonwealth. There forceful, dominant, master - minds, settlers in the Virginia Military District, started the State on her career of greatness. They gave Ohio her first Governor, her first United States Senator, her first Secretary of State, her first Speaker of the Legislature, her first Adjutant-General, her Great Seal, her first Constitution; they started the State Library, and in that little city was the State's first home; it was the first capital not only of the old Northwest Territory, but of the State of Ohio.

Sometimes at dawn, sometimes in the cold wet evenings of April, more often in the glory of the May noontide, I have climbed the long hill which leads to the quaint old garden of a century ago. At first I heard nothing there but that which was like the sad, insistent strain of melody in a dirge, the tragic, touching, piteous refrain, "I once was." But from the little crocus which announced the recurring birth of Nature, the witness to the fact that for one hundred years March had whispered there the secret of the year to a listening earth, I caught the thrilling, stirring, hopeful, and joyous song of Spring. From the warm brown earth, and the air, and the birds, came thoughts that trembled toward expression. T felt a subtle spiritual suggestion, the realization that a life once lived in vigor and fulness never dies. It sets in motion forces which carry messages to posterity; it gives to dreams, to aspirations, to hopes, an entity.

Every aspect of the place brought back the thought of the man who had been a formative power in the young State; and though the years might level the old stone pile once his home, and Time turn the garden to a waste, the spirit of those who made it a delight to the eye, and taught the flowers to bloom, will

never cease to have its effect upon the living. The force that with high aims accomplishes great deeds is imperishable; it is immortality.

March swept out on the winds into the infinite years of the past and carried all the desolate aspect of the garden; for when young April smiled through tears, stiff, white-green spikes were pushing themselves through the moist earth and the dead leaves of last year. The mystery of life stirred the senses, and expectancy deepened. In the first week of the month yellow Easter flowers and white jonquils nodded in the pale sunshine, making a veritable Field of the Cloth of Gold. The scarlet tanager, which had made furtive prospecting visits there in February and March, established himself and family permanently. Now and then the whistle of a quail pierced the quiet air, or the hoarse croak of a crow called defiance to the busy robins as he flapped his great black wings on the low stone wall.

On April's Easter Sunday the windswept borders of March wore a dazzling greenery refreshing to winter-tired eyes. I picked a bunch of white violets from a border nearly overgrown with bluestarred creepers of the periwinkle; the exquisite perfume was like the memories of a hundred years of sunshine and Spring. I walked through aisles of lilactrees where furled leaves made soft green curls upon brown branches, down pathways bordered on either side by great towering green yuccas, whose swordlike leaves swept the ground with a suggestion of cruelty essentially Spanish. The tall dead blooms of last year held up empty seed-pods to heaven in a very rage of neglect. I brushed by giant shrubs of Pyrus japonica showing the first red of its fiery bloom, by magnolia-trees thick with buds, and under great snowball - bushes which arched over the pathway beneath. In the more formal portion of the garden the tulips and hyacinths were drawing from the chemistry of Nature their brilliant colors and sweet perfumes to breathe upon the air.

In the centre of this reviving color and fragrance was a beautiful evergreen arbor-vita> tree, so perfect in shape, so greenly vivid, that on that day it was like all of the thoughts of Easter crystallized into form; it was the realization of a Winter's hope, a dream of immortality, the never - changing life of the spirit. The day made those centuryold walks, bordered by mossy stone flagging, quiet aisles of prayer, or whispering-galleries where one heard footsteps which had echoed there in love and hope and joy, in death and desolation.
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Mid-April! Snow, moist, deep, and clinging! For three days the tender leaves and forming buds shivered in soft white wreaths, heavy with moisture; and then Spring, as if ashamed of capricious ways, turned in her most attractive guise and sent warm days, and looked at the sweet fresh world through the

trembling haze that makes the valley so attractive. It is elusive, suggestive of day-dreams, of far, unfathomable distances; it gives a fairylike enchantment to the cloud palaces which hang over the hill-tops. There is a subtle analogy between this misty haze and the air of formality and reserve which marks the well-bred citizen of the quaint old town on the Seioto River. One realizes that certain social conditions are atmospheric. Nature suggests withdrawal from a too vivid life. The quiet reserve and dignified formality are but envelopes to the true personality, like the softening haze that veils the hills and valleys, and hints of undiscovered charms.

And May, "who goes before to makethe paths of June more beautiful," steps lightly across all this waiting, palpitating world. She whispers to the buds and blossoms; she breathes upon the soft curia of unfolded leaves; she hovers over the earth—and to her light touch the grass and sweet wild flowers respond with eager caress. All Xature bursts into one glorious choral of praise.

As I climbed the hill upon whose summit stands the old stone house, like a court beauty amid rustic surroundings, I realized how noble had been the impulse to allow Xature to tell her story absolutely untrammelled by efforts to place her advantageously. It was an almost theatrical setting for a home. One with an eye to scenic effect had grasped the possibilities there suggested. Down the sloping hill-side, in close ranks, marched primeval oaks and maples, picturesque beeches and elms. Here and there rose the ghostly, straight white trunk of a buttonball - tree, with the hanging, swinging globes of last year's seeds; or at a turn of the road a vision of the first Spring bride arrayed in white disclosed itself on closer view as the low - sweeping branches of a dogwood.

The fragrance of buckeye blossoms filled the air, and the redbud - tree gave a sinister touch of color to the hill-side, reminding one that over those wooded slopes once bounded the moccasined foot of the Shawanoe, whose last tribal efforts were made to hold this beloved valley for his own; his last stand was made in defence of this the ancestral home of his race. Did the wind-harp of Spring, in the trees that he loved, echo the sound of his battle-cry, or shrill his last weird call?

(ireat spreads of shining green leaves of the May-apple shielded its waxen blooms, and celadon - poppies in a yellow glory carpeted the earth with the gold of the kingdom of flowers. All through the grass, along the road-side, and in the crevices of the rocks were blue and white violets in prodigal profusion; while in and out and all about crept the trailing fringe of the ground-ivy, with its tiny blue-eyed blossom reflecting the vivid color of the sky. . Here and there the bloodroot lifted cups to heaven. The pure white flower with its golden heart, its blood-red root, its broad shielding green leaves, which ward off unholy grime, is Nature's symbol of The Holy Grail. Sloping down to the lake at its foot, the hill climbs upward to the plateau where Thomas Worthington, the youth from Virginia, located his land - warrants in 1796. From this beautiful level plain I looked down a ravine by the side of the road, to watch a dancing little stream chattering its story to the trilliums, anemones, and uncurling ferns; such a happy little story it seemed to be; such a glad joy of Spring; such a pride in being able to sweep over the rocks and through the ravine with its messages to the lake! Above, in the trees, the birds tried to rival its song. I turned to the house, which stood silent, sombre, and sad; but oh! the joy, the transfiguration in the garden and the orchard beyond! There was pictured the splendor of the dawn of the year. One could hardly believe that the snow-storm of a fortnight before had really passed. The tall lilacs were tipped with white and purple in feathery plumage; the tulips and hyacinths were in bloom; and now, those embryo white points that puzzled me a month earlier, as border to the star and oval and crescent shaped beds, disclosed themselves as small purple fleur-de-lis. Anything more quaint than these low-growing "flags" of our grandmothers I have never seen. Somehow I expected to see a figure walking in the garden clad in a short-waisted gown, a poke-bonnet from which peeped a bewitching face set in curls of golden hair, heelless slippers, and clocked stockings; a scarf about the shoulders, the management of which was a fine art. For beautiful daughters had reigned there; capricious beauty had been courted under those arching boughs; rosy cheeks had rivalled the inner shell-like blush of the magnolia which was opening its buds beside me, and bright eyes had looked love and pride at stately lovers. Aaron Burr had wandered down those pathways and talked floriculture with Eleanor Van Swearingen. the first mistress of the home. He left more than memories there, for he sent, as an appreciation of the garden in the wilderness, the moss-rose, the yellow jasmine, and the sweet honeysuckle, which still bloom and flourish in the rich soil as a tribute to one kindly

act of a man whose supreme thought was self. Only the chance visitor and the birds catch their fragrance from the winds of Spring. Few know that, once upon a time, a very scheming, brilliantly fascinating, wicked little man, with delightful manners and wonderful eyes, chose those plants, or that he walked up and down the pathways and talked about seeds and roots and bulbs, just as if he were not plotting treason and planning his dream of empire.

Henry Clay's silvery voice cast many an echo among those old trees. Affiliation in taste and politics made him a frequent and welcome guest of the owner of "Adena," the home upon the hill. Daniel Webster came in touch there with the great boundless West. One could fancy the magnificent poise, the superb charm of the man as he paid tribute to the dignity of a life which was modeled upon that in old Virginia. Webster never did commonplace things, and he expressed his appreciation in no measured terms. De Witt Clinton; Rufus King, whose son married a daughter of the house; President Monroe; General Macomb, who married another daughter—many noted men and women of bygone years felt the pulsing life and the vivid charm of that spacious garden, which was laid out by a celebrated landscape-gardener in imitation of the one at Mount Vernon.

As 1 sat on the terrace steps, that sweet May day, my surroundings roused the sense of association. I looked at the old stone house, facing with sightless eyes the hills across the wide valley. Towering above the surrounding peaks is Mount Logan, named in honor of the Mingo chief whose pathetic lament rings in the ear of every school-boy. I saw in fancy the little group gathered in that house to design the Great Seal of the State. An all-night vigil was unproductive of result; but when dawn came, those who were met there, weary with effort, went out to watch the coming of the day. "Ah!" said William Creighton, Secretary of State, pointing to the sun climbing up from behind Mount Logan; "a new sun is rising upon the horizon." Returning to the house, he drew from the picture before his eyes the design for the seal of the new-born State, anil beneath it he wrote, "Imperium in Imperio"—An Empire within an Empire.
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Back of that still, my vision pictured the little group that left a home in old Virginia for conscience' sake. There was Thomas W'orthington, who believed most firmly in freedom for all men. Like many another great man of his State, he had convictions on the subject of slavery. He knew that in the great Northwest Territory, then luring men with its promises, was a Canaan which offered freedom of thought and action as a field for youthful ideals and imaginings; a refuge for those who believed in his principles. For by the terms of that Ordinance of 1787, whose primal thought was written by Thomas Jefferson, slavery there was

forever forbidden. With the leader was his young wife and her brothers; Edward Tiffin, who afterward became the first Governor of Ohio, and his wife, who was the sister of Thomas Worthington. They went to join a little group of Scotch-Irish settlers, who had migrated from the Elkhorn in Kentucky, to escape the restrictions of slavery, and founded the town of Chillicothe, in the Scioto Valley. This little band of crusaders going to fight a western wilderness took with them roots and seeds, herbs and simples. One can fancy that eyes grew dim with tears when those same seeds in sprouting brought tender memories of an unforgotten home. Those wanderers who followed Godfrey do Bouillon to the Holy Land brought back in return the seeds that caused Italy and the Low Countries to bloom into the first gardens that Europe knew. It was the development of ideas, stimulated to expression by travel of the Crusaders, that lifted the pall of the Dark Ages and civilized and humanized a western world.

Who, then, can estimate the influence of that garden, "far from all voice of teachers or divines"? How many people found there "priests, sermons, shrines "?

The lilies-of-the-valley rang fairy bells at the foot of the terrace walls, but the Spanish iris that used to flourish there is seen no more in the gardens of today. Its flower, with yellow petals heavily painted with lavender, its black centre and curving stamens set in sagegreen leaves, breathed the most exquisite perfume. It is but a memory now, like the empire of Spain in. the Western World. The old-fashioned grape-hyacinth grows near the tangles of "matrimony," and the quaint little polyanthus hides itself against the columbine. Near by is the wild growth of a yellow eglantine rose. Against the low wall the leaves of the myrtleberry shine, reminders of wax candles that were made from the berries of the bush, to gleam in white radiance over a brilliant assemblage, or light the way to a discussion of state secrets above the mahogany.

June days. The buckeye and locust blossoms no longer scent the air, the leaves are heavy on the trees, and the grass is seeding. Down in the valley the maize is waist-high and the wheat is ripening to the harvest.

In the garden the calycanthus has dropped its scented blooms, the yellow eorcoris flower is withered as it climbs over the low wall on the slope above the kitchen - garden; the snowballs are dry and brown, and the June lilies are budding. The great broad leaves of the daylilies shelter the white trumpets of a

coming July and shield the tansy and thyme growing against the stone flagging. Here and there an old-fashioned rose hides itself against its leaves as if mourning lost sisters. The microphylla which once grew over the trellis is dead, and the damask and cabbage roses vanished long ago. Syringa - bushes are thickly set with white stars of perfume, and gorgeous masses of peonies give color to the scene. At the root of a dead tree the star of Bethlehem makes a spotless wreath; and close at hand the yuccas lift white-green cups to heaven. Yellow Nile lilies and flaunting tiger-lilies are opening to catch the color of the sun. and the wild-grape perfume is wafted from the woods. Giant fleur-de-lis shake out odor and color, and Canterbury bells ring a sweet entrancing tune. Swiftdarting dragon-flies, drowsy bees, and lazy butterflies give motion to the soft sweet air; and the sound of noisy bird mothers, teaching immature sons and daughters to fly, breaks the quiet stillness. It is not a modern garden: there are no seeds to set for sprouting. There is nothing but the bulbs and bushes and shrubs of a century ago; nothing but memories and associations, and the fragrance of dead Summers.

The Spring is past, the glory of the garden is gone, but "Ichabod" is not written above it. The walks and alleys echo no more to the sound of voices, and the footsteps have passed into silence; but the romance of the past invests each stone with interest, each bush with a story, each bud and flower with the tender grace of a day that is dead.

The message that is written in memories and associations and read in the flowers that have seen the Springs of a hundred years is the immortality of thought, the undying force of an accomplished purpose, the imperishable ideal which opportunity and America have given to youth.