Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

6

for we shall only advise them to study Nature, and from their original genius and powers of deep thinking, we may perhaps anticipate new combiuations that will materially contribute to the perfection of the art.

We have not sufficient materials for an inquiry coneerning Chinese gardening, and shall therefore only observe, that the Imperial Gardens of Ghe Hol appear to consist of an inclosure of great extent converted by immense labour into pleasure grounds resembling, perhaps, those of England in appearance, but formed upon very different principles.* Lord Macartney observes that

it is our excellence to improve nature,' that of a Chinese gardener to conquer her;' his aim is to change every thing from what he found it. If there be a waste, he adorns it with trees; if a dry desert, he waters it with a river, or floats it with a lake; if a sinooth Aat, he varies it with all possible conversions. Lord Macartney also notices their deceptions and eye-traps, and the frequent recurrence of large porcelain figures of lions and tigers; and the rough hewn steps and large masses of rock-work which they seem studious of introducing near many of their houses and palaces; and we are upon the whole rather inclined to doubt their pretensions to good taste in gardening, although their style has the merit of originality and variety.–Our leading principles are, that good taste and good sense are inseparable, and that the genius of the place should be consulted, and not annihilated. The mind is more easily reconciled to syminetrical arrangement thay to unnatural irregularity; and we perfectly agree with Horace Walpole that ' a straight canal is at least as rational as à meandering bridge.'

of other Asiatic gardens we shall only remark, that from the little change that has taken place in the manners and customs of

Eastern nations, specimens might perhaps there be found of the most ancient style of gardening in the world. These, however, we shall leave to other inquirers, and return to the invention of a new art in our own country.

While the sources of the other arts are lost in tradition, conjecture, or fabulous invention, the history of English gardening may be traced to its fountain head--a circumstance of rare occurrence in inquiries concerning the progress of buman knowledge.

(Poets were often the earliest historians, and always the greatest admirers of rural scenery. To them we are indebted for the first glimmerings of good taste in gardening. Juvenal regrets the appearance of art near the fountain of Egeria.

• Thence, slowly winding down the vale, we view
The Egerian Grots; oh! how unlike the true!

* Barrow's Travels,
DD 4

Nymph * 1712, Spectator, No. 414.

!

1

Nymph of the Spring! more honour'd hadst thou been,
If, free from art, an edge of living green
Thy bubbling fount had circumscribed alone,

And marble ne'er profaned thy native stone.'
In Tasso's Garden of Armida we find

• È quel, che 'l bello, è 'l caro accresce al opre,

L'Arte che tutto fa, nulla si scuopre. Thus literally translated in the Faery Queen:

• And that ivkichi all faire works doth most aggrace,

The art which all that wrought, appeared in no place. But the genius of Milton alone imagined a garden, • A happy rural seat of various view,'.

"} of which no example could be traced since the creation of the world, except where we are toli · The Lord God planted a gar* den, and out of the ground he made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food,'---(Genesis, c. 2. v. 9.)?

Addison, while investigating the causes of the pleasures of the imagination arising from the works of nature, and of their supe: riority over those of art,* prepared for the new art of gardening the firm basis of philosophical principles. Pope, about the same time, t, attacked the prevailing style with his keenest shafts of ridicule: and as he was not one of those reformers who are eager to pull down a palace,' without being able to erect a cottage,'t he afterwards, in his Epistle to Lord Burlington, so completely developed the true principles of gardening, that the theories of succeeding writers have been little more than amplifications of his short general precepts. These, divested of the charms of his poetry, are, 1. To study nature. 2. To display ber beauties, and conceal her defects. 3. To consult the genius of the places And lastly, Never to lose sight of good sense.

An artist now arose, who reduced these rules to practice. Kent was a painter, an architect, and a gardener, with genius to feel, and power to realize the dreams of the poet, and the primciples of the philosopher.

The most indifferent observer must instantly feel the effect of removing a yew-hedge, or a garden wall, to open an unconfined view over hill and valley, lawns and woods, and distant prospects. But the new inanagement of water was not so soon understood; and we may imagine the surprize of the Londoners to see a string of ponds in Hyde Park metamorphosed into what they called the i Serpentine River, from its not being exactly straight, like all the former ornamental canals; and when Lord Bathurst ventured to

† 1713, Guardian, No. 173.

1732.

follow

follow the natural lines of the valley, in widening a brook at Ryskins, this effect of his good taste was attributed to his poverty, or to his oeconomy, and Lord Stafford asked him to own fairly how little more it would have cost to make it straight.

The parterre and its accompaniments were soon swept away, and the regular grass slopes moulded into the undulating forms of beauty. But as mankind always run from one extreme to the other, nature's supposed abhorrence of a straight line occasioned the indiscriminate destruction of magnificent avenues and rows of trees, the growth of ages, and introduced the fashion of zig-zag, crincum-crankum walks, afterwards exploded in England by Brown, the successor of Kent; but of which a specimen still remains in the Prince of Orange's garden at the Hague.

Brown duly appreciated and extended the system of his predecessor; but having left behind him neither drawings nor literary productions, he has been unjustly contounded with the tasteless herd of working gardeners who succeeded. His fame is however, established by his works, and his memory has been ably vindicated by Mr. Repton. We in

never greatly admired Mason's English Garden. · The subject is all chosen, and his method of treating it injudicious. Precepts in blank verse are soon forgotten, and a long didactic poem will not be often read. The lovers of poetry will in vain look for the beautiful episodes that enliven Virgil's Georgics, and those who require practical instructions in gardening will more naturally seek it in plain prose.

Gardening, like all the other arts, advances towards perfection step by step. We have traced its progress from the wishes and the anticipations of poets, to the theoretical speculations of philosophers, and from thence to the unrecorded practice of artists. We shall now consider the works of a professor, who has united practice to theory, and experience to speculation, whose principles are recorded in his literary publications, and elucidated by his beautiful drawings.

Mr. Repton's former volumes 'On the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening' were systematically arranged, to establish fixed principles in the art. His province includes every object that relates to the comfort, magnificence, and picturesque effect of a gentleman's residence, for the landscape gardener has to consider, 1. The exterior effect and interior arrangement of the house. 2. The park, the pleasure-grounds and gardens. $. The position of the home-farm. 4. The distant scenery. 5. The village, with its cottages, schools, poor-house, and all that relates to the employment and the comfort of its inhabitants. And let no one hastily conclude that these are objects of little importance, for by occu

pations

pations such as these, the English country gentleman becomes the protector of his dependants, and the friend of his neighbours.

Instead of a collection of unconnected Fragments, we expected from Mr. Repton's increased experience another volume of systematically arranged · Observations. But he found his difficulties, apparently, increase with the number of his subjects, for the fragments have been selected from more than four hundred different Manuscript Reports, and although each was treated with order and method in a separate state, yet, in combining them, the same order and method could not easily be preserved.'

The volume before us contains many beautiful architectural designs, and some judicious remarks on the different aspects and interior arrangement of houses. The character of their exterior, Mr. Reptou observes, should depend upon that of the surrounding country. Thus,

• In the quiet, calm and beautiful scenery of a tame country, the elegant forms of Grecian art are surely more grateful than a rudler and severer style. But there are wild and romantic situations, whose rocks and dashing mountain streams, or deep umbrageous dels, would seem to harmonize with the proud Baronial Tower or Mitred Abbey, embosomed high in tuîted trees, as tending to associate character of the building with that of its native accompaniment.

The outline of a building is never so well seen, as when in shadow and opposed to a brilliant sky, or when it is reflected on the surface of a pool. There the great difference between the Grecian and Gothic character is more peculiarly striking.'-p.3.

This principle is strongly elucidated by two plates, to which we must refer the reader, as without them the subject can hardly be rendered intelligible. Among the local advantages' of Sherring, ham Bower, it is stated that

• There is no manufactory near. This, for the comfort of habitation, is of more importance than is generally supposed. Manufacturers are a different class of mankind from husbandmen, fisherinen, or even miners. Not to speak of the difference in their religious and moral characters, the latter, from being constantly occupied in employments wbich require bodily exertion, and their relaxations being shared with their families and friends, become cheerful and contented. But the former lead a sedentary life, always working at home, and seeking relaxation at their clubs, the birth-place and cradle of equality, discontent and dissatisfaction.'--p. 207

In tracing the progress of the useful or ornamental arts, it is always a curious subject of inquiry, to consider, from time to time, what were the desiderata of former writers, and how, far they have been supplied by succeeding artists. We therefore give the following passage from Walpole's History of the Modern

Taste

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Taste in Gardening, which we shall then consider with reference to Mr. Repton's practice.

• The total banishment of all particular neatness immediately about a house, which is frequently left gazing by itself in the middle of a park, is a defect.

• Sheltered, and even close walks, in so very uncertain a climate as our's, are comforts ill exchanged for the few picturesque days that we enjoy, and whenever a family can purloin' a warm, and even something of an old-fashioned garden, from the landscape designed for them by the undertaker in fashion, without interfering with the picture, they will find satisfaction on those days that do not invite strangers to come and see their improvements.'

Mr. Brown and his followers extended the appearance of a park to the very windows of the house, but Mr. Repton observes,

'The scenery of nature, called landscape, and that of a garden, are as different as their uses; one is to please the eye, the other is for the comfort and occupation of man; one is wild, and may be adapted to animals in the wildest state of nature, the other is appropriated to man in the highest state of civilization and refinement.'-p. 11.

Thus at Cobham Hall, the character of the place lias been entirely changed, and instead of a huge pile standing naked on a vast grazing ground,' this venerable mansion is now surrounded by gardens and pleasure-grounds, its walls are enriched “with roses and jessamines, while the views of the park are improved by the rich foreground, over which they are seen from the several apartnients.'

Even the kitchen-garden, as an object of comfort, should be placed near the house, for . there are many days in winter, when a warm, dry, but secluded walk, under the shelter of an east or north wall, would be preferred to the most beautiful but exposed landscape; and in the Spring, when

Reviving nature seems again to breathe,

As loosened from the cold embrace of death,” on the south border of a walled garden, some early flowers and vegetables

may

cheer the sight, although every plant is elsewhere pinched with the north-east winds, peculiar to our climate in the months of March and April, when

“ Winter, still lingering on the verge of Spring,

Retires reluctant, and from time to time
Looks back, while at his keen and chilling breath,

Fair Flora sickens."'--p. 167. There are many situations in which a visible and decided fence between the park and the pleasure ground, is an object of beauty. An open trellis is most garden-like. But if the house be architecturally Grecian, a terrace terminated by an open balustrade, may be most appropriate. Mr. Repton observes that where balustrades form the parapet of a bridge, their dimensions ought to

relate

« AnteriorContinuar »