My Summer in a Garden

By CHARLES DUDLEY WARNER. Boston: Fields, Osgood, & Co.
WE may suspect Mr. Warner of setting formally at work to raise a laugh rather than any other crop in his garden, and yet not refuse to be amused by its history. We have nearly all of us, somehow or other, at some time or other, actually experienced horticulture ourselves, and ought to be very glad indeed to learn where the laugh comes in, as we may from Mr. Warner. His book is light and easy to be read, and it is imbued with a humor which, if not very subtile, is nearly always pleasant. The moral characteristics of the vegetable world are set in novel and grotesque lights, — as the capriciousness of fruits and plants, and the perverseness and wickedness of weeds, especially “pusley”: and we come to dwell so personally upon these matters, that it is a kind of relief to find so few of our succulent friends ever reaching the table. The predatory world of insects, birds, cows, and boys appears in droll and recognizably truthful glimpses, and the gardener and the provokingly suggested Polly are veritable types of the young people who commonly enter upon such enterprises. Perhaps the material of the book is a trifle extenuated and perhaps not,—so much depends upon the mood of the reader. It is slight, certainly, and would be intolerable otherwise ; and it will fare better in our readers’ hands without coming to them overpraised by us. The humorous flavor of the papers—“some of which,” premises the author, with a touch which all gardeners will feel, “will be like many papers of garden-seeds, with nothing vital in them " — is pretty well expressed in the remark which closes the remarks upon the relations of neighbors’ children to one’s garden : “I, for one, feel that it would not be right, aside from the law, to take the life even of the smallest child, for the sake of a little fruit, more or less, in a garden. I may be wrong, but these are my sentiments, and I am not ashamed of them.”