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residences in the country, its principles may be studied with advantage, even by him who has only three trees to plant for ornament; and we hope no one will think his grounds too small, to feel willing to add something to the general amount of beauty in the country. If the possessor of the cottage acre, would embellish in accordance with propriety, he must not, as we have sometimes seen, render the whole ridiculous by aiming at ambitious and costly embellishments; but he will rather seek to delight us by the good taste evinced in the tasteful simplicity of the whole arrangement. And if the proprietors of our country villas, in their improvements, are more likely to run into any one error than another, we fear it will be that of too great a desire for display too many vases, temples, and seats-and too little purity and simplicity of general effect.
The enquiring reader will perhaps be glad to have a glance at the history and progress of the art of tasteful gardening; a recurrence to which, as well as to the history of the fine arts, will afford abundant proof that, in the first stage or infancy of all these arts, while the perception of their ultimate capabilities is yet crude and imperfect, mankind has in every instance been completely satisfied with the mere exhibition of design or art. Thus in Sculpture, the first statues were only attempts to imitate rudely the form of a human figure, or in painting, to represent that of a tree: the skill of the artist, in effecting an imitation successfully, being sufficient to excite the astonishment and admiration of those who had not yet made such advances as to enable them to appreciate the superior beauty of expression.
Landscape Gardening is, indeed, only a modern word, first coined, we believe, by Shenstone, since the art has been based upon natural beauty; but as an extensively
embellished scene, filled with rare trees, fountains and statues, may, however artificial, be termed a landscape garden, the classical gardens are fairly included in a retrospective view.
All late authors agree in these two distinct and widely differing modes of the art; 1st, the Ancient, Formal or Geometric Style; 2d, the Modern, Natural or Irregular Style.
THE ANCIENT STYLE. A predominance of regular forms and right lines is the charateristic feature of the ancient style of gardening. The value of art, of power, and of wealth, were at once easily and strongly shown by an artificial arrangement of all the materials; an arrangement the more striking, as it differed most widely from nature. And in an age when costly and stately architecture was most abundant, as in the times of the Roman empire, it is natural to suppose, that the symmetry and studied elegance of the palace, or the villa, would be transferred and continued in the surrounding gardens.
Nothing fills so grand a place in the history of the gardening of antiquity, as the great hanging gardens of Babylon. A series of terraces supported by stone pillars, rising one above the other three hundred feet in height, and planted with rows of all manner of stately trees, shrubs and flowers, interspersed with seats, and watered and supplied with fountains from the Euphrates; all this was indeed a princely effort of the great king to recall to his Medean queen the beauties of her native country. The "Paradises" of the Persians, seem not only to have had straight walks bordered with blossoming trees, and overhung with exquisite lines of roses and other odoriferous shrubs, but to have been interspersed with occasional thickets, and varied with fountains, prospect towers, and aviaries for singing birds.
The Athenians borrowed their taste in gardens from Persia. The lime tree and the box lined their walks, and bore patiently the shears of symmetry; and a passion for fragrant flowers seems to have been greatly indulged by them. Their most celebrated philosophers made the sylvan, or landscape gardens of their time, their favourite schools. And the gardens of Epicurus and Plato appear to have been symmetrical groves of the olive, plane, and elm, enriched by elegant statues, monuments and temples, the beauty of which, for their peculiar purpose, has never been surpassed by any example of more modern times. Among the Romans, ornamental gardening seems to have been not a little studied. The villas of the Emperors Nero and Adrian were enriched with every thing magnificent and pleasing in their grounds; and the classically famous villas of Cicero at Arpium, and of Pliny at Thuscum, with Cæsar's
"Private arbors, and new planted orchards,
are among the most celebrated specimens of the taste among the ancients. Pliny's garden, of which a pretty minute account remains,-filled with cypresses and bay trees, planted to form a coursing place or hippodrome, adorned with vis-a-vis figures of animals cut in box trees, and decorated with fountains and marble alcoves, shaded by vines seems, indeed, to have been the true classical type of all the later efforts of modern continental nations in their geometric gardens.
Of the latter, the Italians have been most successful in their ornamental grounds. Their beautiful marbles seem to have been supplied by Art in too great profusion to be
confined even to the colonnades of their villas, and broad enriched terraces, vases, and statues, every where enliven, and contrast with, the verdure of the foliage; trees and plants being often less abundant, than the sculptural ornaments which they serve to set off to advantage. An island-Isola Bella-in one of their little lakes, has often been quoted as the most highly wrought type of the Italian taste; "a barren rock," says a spirited writer, "rising in the midst of a lake, and producing but a few poor lichens, which has been converted into a pyramid of terraces supported on arches, and ornamented with bays and orange trees of amazing size and beauty." The Villa Borghese, at Rome, is one of the most celebrated later examples, with its pleasure grounds three miles in circumference, filled with symmetrical walks and abounding with an endless profusion of sculpture.
The old French gardens differ little from those of Italy, if we except that, with the same formality, they have more of theatrical display-frequently substituting gilt trellises and wooden statues for the exquisite marble balustrades and sculptured ornaments of the Italians. But we must not forget the crowning glory of the Geometric style, the gardens of Louis XIV. at Versailles. A prince whose grand idea of a royal garden was not compassed under two hundred acres devoted to that purpose, and who, when shown the bills of cost in their formation, amounting to two hundred millions of francs, quietly threw them into the fire, could scarcely fail, whatever the style of art adopted, in producing a scene of great splendor. He was fortunate, too, in his gardener, Le Notre, whose ideas, scarcely less superb than those of his master, kept pace so closely with his fancies, that he received the honor of knighthood, and was
made general director of all the buildings and gardens of the time.
"The gardens of Versailles," says a tasteful English reviewer, “may indeed be taken as the great exemplar of this style; and magnificent indeed they are, if expense and extent and variety suffice to make up magnificence. To draw petty figures in dwarf-box and elaborate patterns in parti-colored sand, might well be dispensed with where the formal style was carried out on so grand a scale as this, but otherwise the designs of Le Notre differ little from that of his predecessors in the geometric style, save in their monstrous extent. The great wonder of Versailles was the well known labyrinth, not such a maze as is really the source of so much idle amusement at Hampton Court, but a mere ravel of interminable walks, closely fenced in with high hedges, in which thirty-nine of Æsop's fables were represented by painted copper figures of birds and beasts, each group connected with a separate fountain, and all spouting water out of their mouths! Every tree was planted with geometrical exactness, and parterre answered to parterre across half a mile of gravel. "Such symmetry," says Lord Byron, "is not for solitude;" and certainly, the gardens of Versailles were not planted with any such intent. The Parisians do not throng there for the contemplation to be found in the "trim gardens" of Milton. There is indeed a melancholy, but not a pleasing one, in wandering alone, through those many acres of formal hornbeam, when we feel that it requires the "galliard and clinquant" air of a scene of Watteau; its crowds and love-making-its hoops and minuets a ringing laugh and merry tambourine -to make us recognise the real genius of the place. Taking Versailles on the gigantic type of the French