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Spain, Holland, Germany and England. As they were to be formed by the line and compass, and not by attention to natural situation or local advantages, the artist might, from his hotel in Paris, design the same gardens either for Madrid or Mosco.
We are not aware that the Spaniards have any pretensions to originality in their gardens. The only specimens worth notice are those belonging to the royal palaces, which are principally imitations or corruptions of the French style, probably introduced by the Spanish branch of the House of Bourbon.
Little alteration seems to have taken place in the principles of gardening in Holland since the reign of William the Third. The best specimens are on the banks of the Vecht Canal, between Amsterdam and Utrecht. They consist of a succession of small inclosures, which every proprietor arranges according to his own fancy: some with clipped arcades of lime trees or chesnuts, with a painting at the end, to continue a long line of perspective; others with mazes of various forms, and hedges of yew, linden, or hombeam ; sometimes there are straight lines of trees, or close arbours and berceaux, with banquetting-rooms or summer-houses, of six feet square, by the side of the canal, with many coloured doors and windows, and leaden pine apples with green leaves and golden fruit; parterres of various shapes, with neatly cut box borders, diversified with shells, flints, coals, brick-dust, and pieces of glass; rows of auriculas in pots, and beds of anemonies, hyacinths, and high priced tulips, with painted figures of the gardener and his assistant. These gardens are separated from each other by a canal or a fish-pond; they resemble those of the French in symmetrical arrangement, and those of the Italians in profusion of ornament. They are however on a smaller scale, and more compact, full of gewgaws and childish devices, and intersected by the stagnant canals or lazy rivers which characterize that singular country.
Baron Hirschfeld, the historian of German gardening, in 1785, complained that his countrymen were afflicted with a singular disease that refused to yield either to irony or to the strength and elevation of the national character. The symptoms of this disease, which he calls Gallomania, were servile imitations of the French. • Ainsi font les François ! voilà ce que j'ai vu en France! These few words had the magical effect of introducing French fashions of every description. Their nobility set the example by creating a little Versailles, a little Marli, or a little Trianon—for these imitations were generally in miniature. A closer acquaintance however with their friend, the late Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine, destroyed this enthusiastic admiration of the French; and we may now hope that the Germans will extend the principles of English gardening. Imitation is here out of the question;
for we shall only advise them to study Nature, and from their original genius and powers of deep thinking, we may perhaps anticipate new combinations that will materially contribute to the perfection of the art.
We have not sufficient materials for an inquiry concerning 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 smooth flat, 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 symmetrical arrangement thap to unnatural irregularity; and we perfectly agree with Horace Walpole that a straight canal is at least as rational as a meandering bridge.'
Of other Asiatic gardens we shall only remark, that from the little change that has taken place in the mamers 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 human 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
* Barrow's Travels.
Nymph of the Spring! more honour'd hadst thou been,
And marble ne'er profaned thy native stone.'
È quel, che 'l hello, è 'l caro accresce al' opre,
L'Arte che tutto fa, nulla si scuopre.' Thus literally translated in the Faery Queen :
"And that which 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 told · The Lord God planted a garden, and out of the ground he made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food.'-(Genesis, c. ii. v. 9.)
Addison, while investigating the causes of the pleasures of the imagination arising from the works of nature, and of their superiority 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,' I 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 her beauties, and conceal her defects. 3. To consult the genius of the place. 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 principles 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 vallev, lawns and woods, and distant prospects. But the new management 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 Serpentine River, from its not being exactly straight, like all the former ornamental canals; and when Lord Bathurst ventured 10
* 1712, Spectator, No. 414.
† 1713, Guardian, No. 173.
follow the natural lines of the valley, in widening a brook at Ryskins, this effect of his good taste was attributed to bis poverty, or to his æconomy, and Lord Staff rd 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.
Browy duly appreciated and extended the system of his predecessor; but having left behind him neither drawings nor literary productions, he has been unjustly confounded 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 never greatly admired Mason's English Garden. The subject is ill 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. 3. 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 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. Repton observes, should depend upon that of the surrounding country. Thus,
In the quiet, calm and beautiful scenery of a tame country, the elegant fornis of Grecian art are surely more grateful than a ruder and severer style. But there are wild and romantic situations, whose rocks and dashing mountain streams, or deep umbrageous dells, would seem to harmonize with the proud Baronial Tower or Mitred Abbey, embosomed high in tufted trees, as tending to associate the 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 Sherringham 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 husbandınen, fishermen, or even miners. Not to speak of the difference in their religious and moral characters, the latter, from being constantly occupied in employments which 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