Man was not made to rust out in idleness. A degree of exercise is as necessary for the preservation of health, both of body and mind, as his daily food. And what exercise is more fitting, or more appropriate of one who is in the decline of life, than that of superintending a well-ordered garden? What more enlivens the sinking mind? What is more conducive to a long life?
Will you not covet such power as this, and seek such throne as this, and be no more housewives, but queens? There is no putting by that crown; queens you must always be; queens to your lovers; queens to your husbands and sons; queens of higher mystery to the world beyond. . . . But alas! you are too often idle and careless queens, grasping at majesty in the least things, while you abdicate it in the greatest.
By this time, like one who had set out on his way by night, and travelled through a region of smooth or idle dreams, our history now arrives on the confines, where daylight and truth meet us with a clear dawn, representing to our view, though at a far distance, true colours and shapes.
Cyriac, this three years' day these eyes, though clear, To outward view, of blemish or of spot, Bereft of light, their seeing have forgot; Nor to their idle orbs doth sight appear Of sun, or moon, or star, throughout the year, Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not Against Heav'n's hand or will, nor bate a jot Of heart or hope; but still bear up and steer Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask? The conscience, Friend, t' have lost them overplied In liberty's defence, my noble task, Of which all Europe rings from side to side. This thought might lead me through the world's vain mask Content, though blind, had I no better guide.
The great men among the ancients understood very well how to reconcile manual labour with affairs of state, and thought it no lessening to their dignity to make the one the recreation to the other. That indeed which seems most generally to have employed and diverted their spare hours, was agriculture. Gideon among the Jews was taken from threshing, as well as Cincinnatus amongst the Romans from the plough, to command the armies of their countries . . . and, as I remember, Cyrus thought gardening so little beneath the dignity and grandeur of a throne, that he showed Xenophon a large field of fruit trees all of his own planting . . . Delving, planting, inoculating, or any the like profitable employments would be no less a diversion than any of the idle sports in fashion, if men could be brought to delight in them.