The Lamentation for the Botanic Garden at Farnborough


to the Revd. Charles Holbech













"Canst thou, Eugenio, then these fields disdain;
And fly the genial soil which gave thee birth?
Leave thy botania cheerless to complain;
Thy bloom transplanting to some foreign earth?

Alas! What boots it that thy native bed
With native plants cull’d from Britania’s shore
The spangled posy gave to deck thy head?
Now must my weeds their function lost deplore!

Shall we no more behold the witching smile
Which (clouded now by sympathetic fears)
Beam’d from the honor’d partner of thy toil?
Must Benedictus drench his down in tears?

Pypha no longer shall thy eye regale,      
Nor clustering fungi their asylum grace,
No more Ballota rich perfumes exhale,            
Nor Phaca spread its wider usurping lace           

In these no more shall lovely Car delight,
With curious glass their latent charms explore,
And hail their beauties as they break to sight?
Shall British *Squitch rejoice thy sire no more?

No more Urtica shall eclipse the rose.            
Nor cling Alsine to Lantana’s side            
Nor Hyascyamus its bloom disclose        
Nor Helianthus glow with gaudy pride:      

No supple Juncus with incessant bow      
Court the green mantle of the stagnant lake,
No Anagallis breathe its amorous vow,        
No Cucurbrita mutual warmth partake**        

My Smilax now shall droop its languid head,    
And sculking creep the  Musei’s crisped gear,  
Rumex no more its leafy honors spread,        
And Pedicularis shrinks at ruin near        

For trivial Poa reassumes the land!            
Ralph with two-handed engine at the door,
Well-pleased to execute the stern command,
Hands ready to strike once and strike no more!

-But stop my muse and check thy lay profane,
Or cease they song or changer the flippant strain.

Go worthy youth pursue thy chosen road,
The path of genuine science leads to God:
Thy theme the miracle of Nature’s Laws,
Go and proclaim the all directing Cause:
Go bid they hearers in Creation’s Store
The Universal Source discern, adore;
Then, for thou canst, impress the humble mind
With Mercies far transcending these behind!


*This Epithet is applied and the Vernacular name
retained in allusion to the unconquerable character of this plant –

**See loves of the plants"


Horehound D

Nettle D
Chickweed, Verbena
Sunflower D


Pimpernel D

Greenbrier, Rough Bindweed?
Dock, Sorrel

Meadow-grass D
Warwickshire County Record Office CR656  36

This anonymous poem is an intriguing text and poses several questions not least the identity of the writer and the recipient. It is preserved in a scrpbook alongside other items from the year 1810 but is itself undated. The problem is that although there was a Charles Holbech alive in 1810 (1778 to 1837) he does not appear as a clergyman

It is written in heroic couplets ( a sequence of rhyming pairs of iambic pentameter lines) as is another extraordinary poem refered to in the text, Erasmus Darwin's 1791 piece 'The Loves of Plants' in a publication called 'The Botanic Garden'. Indeed it appears to be a parody of this poem. Here is an example from Canto 115.

 “With secret sighs the Virgin Lily droops,

And jealous Cowslips hang their tawny cups.
How the young Rose in beauty's damask pride
Drinks the warm blushes of his bashful bride;
With honey'd lips enamour'd Woodbines meet,

Clasp with fond arms, and mix their kisses sweet."

The use of the name Eugenio is puzzling, whilst being an Italian personal name nobody within the family seems to have used it, nor are there any references to the name in local census returns. Given Charles's religious calling it could perhaps be an allusion to Sir Richard Blackmore's 1720 publication, 'Letters of Religion between Theophilus and Eugenio' London: J. Roberts.