Lecture by Alan Chadwick in New Market, Virginia, 1979
Lecture 1: Philosophy of Gardening, Part 3
An Introduction to Alan Chadwick's Lectures and a Glossary of Terms
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The soliloquy of Friar Lawrence from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. "...For naught so vile upon the earth doth live, but to the earth some special good doth give..." Every plant is under the governance of a planet or a star. All life is interrelated. The human being is intended to be an integral part of nature, like the conductor of an orchestra, to magnify nature. (9:19)
New Market, Virginia, 1979, Lecture 1
Philosophy of Gardening, Part 3
… greatest of all, that dramatic, colossal play of his, Romeo and Juliet, when he brings Friar Lawrence in, who is this huge observer and philosopher of Nature, and he says, in that scene where he watches the dawn come every morning out of the stars. He says:
The gray-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night,
Checkering the eastern clouds with streaks of light,
And fleckled darkness like a drunkard reels
From forth day’s path and Titan’s fiery wheels.
Now, ere the sun advance his burning eye,
The day to cheer and night’s dank dew to dry,
I must upfill this osier cage of ours
With baleful weeds and precious-juicèd flowers.
The earth, that’s nature’s mother, is her tomb.
What is her burying grave, that is her womb.
And from her womb children of divers kind
We sucking on her natural bosom find,
Many for many virtues excellent,
None but for some and yet all different.
Oh, mickle is the powerful grace that lies
In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities.
For naught so vile that on the earth doth live
But to the earth some special good doth give.
Nor aught so good but, strained from that fair use
Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse.
Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied,
And vice sometime by action dignified.
Within the infant rind of this [small] weak flower
Poison hath residence and medicine power.
[For this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part;
Being tasted, stays all senses with the heart.]
Two such opposèd kings encamp them still,
In man as well as herbs—grace and rude will.
And where the worser is predominant,
Full soon the canker death eats up that plant.
These relationships and dis-relationships, when one realizes that each of the herbs that produce leaves and flowers are under the government of a planet, under the government of all planets, but principally under a planet. And that during certain periods, of cycles, of reflection, these actual plants, especially the flowers, bring the contents of the star into the very earth, into the atmosphere. The character of that star that is governing, is brought through that plant into the soil and the atmosphere, and the purpose that it conveys, whether it be odor, color, or it’s juices, it’s poisons, it’s medicines.
That the whole of these relationships and dis-relationships… Do you realize that there are certain trees, which at the Solstice of Summer, such as the Ulmus, all the leaves have been like that and the moment the Solstice has come and taken place, they all turn and reverse? Therefore this relationship and dis-relationship connects all the plant life, all the living created life, and all of human life. There is no divorcement, there are no gaps, and there are no barriers between. It is all inter-related and cannot, in truth, but interrelate.
Now Paracelsus gives us a wonderful view of this when he states that when we are born, the whole of nature, the meadows, the forests, the trees, the wild plants, are there like a canvas, and that the huge participant, the destiny of the participant known as human beings, humanity as a totem, is the administration of this. It is like the conducting of an orchestra. And that it is the participant, intended by the whole of creation, and the birth of creation, Paracelsus describes, that all of these weeds and so on are there as a canvas to paint on. And that it is for the human element to place his hand in Paradise, wherein is contained all the fruition and the flowers that are possible ever to imagine and beyond imagination, and beyond even spiritual imagination. And it is his performance to place his hand with his family, with his performance of destiny, living, into paradise, and to bring through seed the inter-relationship of the invisible to the visible, and bring into this world the exquisiteness of Heaven.
Here you have the lactuca turned into a lettuce. Here you have many things turned from one thing into another. Sometimes undoubtedly flowers of Paradise. Sometimes, undoubtedly, macabre flowers of distorted imaginations. Many of the double flowers are really nothing to compare to the beauty of singles. And many of the things that we think are improvements, become too isolated connected with human self.
I say to you: And in what area dare you to take your knowledge, dare you to turn, to be utterly obedient, and to know that to which you can be completely reverent, and never fail, and always led? Do you see today, unless in a university or a form of education, you can refer to “Dr. So and So said this,” or “Professor So and So taught this,” and “this is a fundamental which is proved,” you can’t believe anything. If somebody got up and said “Well I think…” you would go, “Oh shut up.” The point is that this has become a huge conglomeration of verbosity. Who and what is the great teacher that absolutely requires complete obedience and reverence?