Lecture by Alan Chadwick in New Market, Virginia, 1979
Lecture 1: Philosophy of Gardening, Part 7
An Introduction to Alan Chadwick's Lectures and a Glossary of Terms
The full text of this lecture
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We make ourselves into machines, separated from the divinity of the natural world. Our demands on the animals becomes a reflection of the shadow side of our nature. The story of the Emperor and the Nightingale. (8:36)
New Market, Virginia, 1979, Lecture 1
Philosophy of Gardening, Part 7
We don’t know what we need, and we don’t know what we should not have. And we have come to an age where we decide every damn thing for our damn selves, until we are nothing but a machine. And the ruling of God, through his nature does not enter our lives one iota.
All of the animals, the birds... I am referring intensely to cows and goats and chickens, and what we have done to them, out of their giving and forgiving.
“If I do this will you give me two gallons a day?” “If I do more of that—I know that I did ask you, and I pressed you—could you give me three gallons a day?” “Would you lay me two clutches of eggs a year so that you could hatch one and we could eat the other?”
“If it be the will of God, of course.”
You get a clutch of eggs, you go back to the hen, and you say,
“Well, you know what I asked you, don’t you, the other time, and you know you did it. But if I were to ask you, could you, if I grew you cereals and therefore saved you, to a degree, having to do a certain amount yourself, could you lay me a hundred eggs a year?”
“If it should be the will of God, of course, if you want it, I will.”
And so it goes on. And so you give it lighting at night. And then you end up by making it lay two a day. And you don’t even go in to collect them. You see you have become deformed. You’re not interested in what it does. They just roll down a thing into a filthy box and stands it on its end and goes. And it’s completely inedible and is destroying human birth through its childhood. But that doesn’t worry us at all. The mania is in. The shadow is there, and that mass hypnosis is on. I won’t touch it, I won’t go further into it, It must be...
May I tell you a story? It concerns this, but it’s very enchanting. It’s all about that…
A long, long time ago, there used to be an emperor of the Orient who lived in a huge, enormous house with beauty. And he governed over vast areas of lands and many, many, many people. And he governed very superbly, and beautifully. And the laws were well administered, and very correct. And there was much happiness. And the land was fruitious. And there was great enchantment in the whole state.
And this Emperor of the Orient lived in this great palace, but it was not because of the great palace. And this beautiful palace was set in a great park with endless trees and lawns and walkways and avenues and beds and, of course, birds and flowers. And a river ran under the trees, through the park, quite beside the palace. And it was all very serene and very beautiful and exquisite. But it was not the palace or the park or the emperor that brought this about, this huge success of the state. It was a nightingale.
Now the matter is, that every day, the Emperor sat with the whole of his court, and the Grand Vizier, and all such people of importance. He would sit in the holdings of the judgments and listen to the people and their complaints of the troubles that were brought up. For they all had to be smoothed-out. And they did have their arguments and troubles, you understand, in great quantity.
And the emperor would listen. And then he would contemplate. And then he would not come to a decision. And at this, the Grand Vizier used to fidget and become vexed. He knew what was going on. The Emperor was immovable. And he would listen to all these cases, and then he would postpone them till the next day. And so this nearly always took place. And the whole day, and these matters were waded through, left to be resolved the next day.
Now when it came evening time, after all the other procedures of the day as well, the sports and the games and the life and the music that went on in this wonderful state, the Emperor would know that the time of quietude and contemplativeness had come. And he would go to his apartments, and he would enter his great chamber. And he would go to the enormous windows and would throw back these curtains, and push open the windows and look out on the park, and would go onto this great balcony and lean on the balustrade. And there he would stand and wait… and wait… and wait.
And then always, after some period, the nightingale would begin to trill, sitting upon the bough of a tree probably invisible in the shadows. And this trill would vibrate, and vibrate, and vibrate, and intoxicate and vibrate, and then all of a sudden would burst into this inimitable scale, and go from one note into another, and up and up, out to the stars and beyond and then back again. And then back into a long, long trill, holding the whole thing up again in expectancy and magic. Building webs of magic, dream of stars, and rising in trills and flights of song, between the stars, that you didn’t know whether they were stars or notes of scintillations or actual dreams that were beginning to take place.
And the old Emperor would be overwhelmed with the exquisiteness of this and relax completely. And eventually the nightingale would cease. And dusk would have completely come over, and all the stars were shining out. And he would go backwards to the windows, survey again the dusky scene, which now had no color, and close the windows, and lie upon his great bed, and sleep the most exquisite sleep.