Lecture by Alan Chadwick in New Market, Virginia, 1979
Lecture 1: Philosophy of Gardening, Part 9
An Introduction to Alan Chadwick's Lectures and a Glossary of Terms
The full text of this lecture
Contents of this Segment:
Conclusion of the story of the Emperor and the Nightingale. The garden is the vision that governs our lives, not merely the horticultural project. It is all our art and our happiness. A recreation of Paradise. (12:34)
New Market, Virginia, 1979, Lecture 1
Philosophy of Gardening, Part 9
…alone, and the procedures were not proceeding. And no sooner had it stopped, they wanted it all over again. This became a procedure of the rest of the festival, and that it was the whole principle. And a great deal of the rest of the precedence of the festival followed the same course. And now it was that late in the evening the Emperor went with considerable sadness to his apartment, and wondering what was to come over the matter. And he threw open his casement, drawing the curtains aside, and went on to the balcony and leant upon the balustrade and waited… and waited… and waited… and waited.
The nightingale had known and had heard all. Had flown in the trees that hung over the river and had flown miles down the river to another state and another town, where she would sing in gardens where she was required. And the Emperor had no resolvedness, had no sweet sleep. And when he awoke the next day and appeared at the court he was inept. And his decisions were no better than the Grand Vizier’s, and had to be connived and thought out. And this went from day to day until the whole of the Grand Vizier’s intent came into being. So all matters were now thought out and resolved.
And the happiness of the state declined. And the good results of the judgments and the rulings declined. And people misbehaved. And people stole, and eventually murdered. And eventually the state was at war. And the Emperor was very old and very ill. And it did not resolve. And it did not improve. And it did not get better, and became hopelessly serious.
And the emperor knew that he would die. And all the court knew that he would die. And he went to his apartment and he prayed. He prayed that the nightingale might comprehend and know of his true feelings. And that they were not a participant. And in great anguish he drew himself the casements and managed to push them open and went out and hung onto the balcony. The nightingale had heard, and had flown back up the river, and was waiting on a branch under one of the trees. And suddenly, piercing the emperor’s heart, the trill began. And out of the trill this irresistible song took him again to the stars. Took him out of himself. And he began to breathe. And he began to relax.
And the nightingale sang and sang and sang into ecstasy. And the Emperor realized the whole truth of the matter, as he had always done, he re-realized. And when the nightingale had ceased, he got up quite strongly, and went back and closed the casements and lay down and slept a beautiful sleep. And when they came in the morning with the Grand Vizier to find the dead Emperor to elect a new one, the Emperor was standing, awaiting. And he said, “yes” to the Grand Vizier, “You know exactly what you have done. Now you will go and you will put it all right, every bit of it.” And the Grand Vizier comprehended. And every night the nightingale came and sang in the trees. And the Emperor leaned on the balcony and was lost in the magic, and the mystery, and the secret. And his answers came from his dreams and his state returned to happiness.