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AN OLD ENGLISH GARDEN OF THE SEVEN
FROM THE ESSAYS OF SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE.
IE perfectest figure of a garden I ever saw, either at
home or abroad, was that of Moor Park in Hertfordshire, when I knew it about thirty years ago. It was made by the Countess of Bedford, esteemed among the greatest wits of her time, and celebrated by Dr. Donne. I will describe it for a model to those that meet with such a situation, and are above the regards of common expense. It lies on the side of a hill (upon which the house stands), but not very steep. The length of the house, where the best rooms and of most use or pleasure are, lies upon the breadth of the garden. The great parlor opens into the middle of a terras gravelwalk that lies even with it, and which may be, as I remember, about three hundred paces long, and broad in proportion; the border set with standard laurels, and at large distances, which have the beauty of orange-trees, out of flower and fruit. From this walk are three descents by many stone steps, in the middle and at each end, into a very large parterre. This is divided into quarters by gravel-walks, and adorned by two fountains and eight statues in the several quarters. At the end of the terras-walk are two summer-houses, and the sides of the parterre are ranged with two large cloisters, open to the garden, upon arches of stone, and ending with two other summer-houses even with the cloisters, which are paved with stone, and designed for walks of shade, there being none other in the whole parterre. Over these two cloisters are two terrasses covered with lead, and fenced with balusters; and the passage into these airy walks is out of the two summer-houses at the end of the first terras-walk. The oloister
facing the south is covered with vines, and would have been proper for an orange-house, and the other for myrtles, or other more common greens,* and had, I doubt not, been cast for that purpose, if this piece of gardening had been in as much vogue as it is now.
From the middle of the parterre is a descent by many steps, flying on each side of a grotto that lies between them (covered with lead, and flat) into the lower garden, which is all fruit-trees, ranged about the several quarters of a wilderness which is very shady. The walks here are all green,
the grotto embellished with figures of shell-rock-work, fountains, and water-works. If the hill had not ended with the lower garden, and the wall were not bounded by a common way that goes through the park, they might have added a third quarter of all greens; but this want is supplied by a garden on the other side the house, which is all of that sort, very wild, very shady, and adorned with rough rock-work and fountains.
This was Moor Park when I was acquainted with it, and the sweetest place, I think, that I have seen in my life, either before or since, at home or abroad. What it is now I can give little account, having passed through several hands that have made great changes in gardens as well as houses ; but the remembrance of what it was is too pleasant ever to forget.
The taste of Sir William Temple in gardening prevailed more or less up to the time of George the Third ; but though Milton had in some degree countenanced it, or appeared to do so, in the couplet in which he speaks of
" Retired leisure, That in trim gardens takes his pleasure,” yet the very universality of right feeling natural to a poet could not help running out of such bounds, when he came to describe a garden fit for paradise. Spenser had set him the example in his “Bower of
Greens formerly meant plants in general.
Bliss ;" and Tasso, who is supposed to have drawn from some actual gardens in his own time, had set Spenser himself the example in his beautiful account of the bowers of Armida. The probability is, that in all great ages Nature had spoken on the subject, in particular instances, to the feelings of genius. Even the Chinese are thought to have anticipated the modern taste, though with their usual semi-barbarous mixture of clumsy magnificence and petty details; possibly not always so much so, as the startled invidiousness of their betters has supposed. The Chinese, at all events, are very fond of flowers, and show a truly poetical appreciation of their merits, as may be seen in the charming novel of Ju-Kiao-Li. Milton's garden of Eden made a great impression, when Addison dug it up for the general benefit in his articles on the great poet in the Spectator. Pope's good sense was naturally on the side of it; and Shenstone gave into it with practical and masterly enthusiasm. Hence the rise of what is called landscape gardening. The new taste ran a little wild at first in the hands of “Kent and Nature ;" then incurred another danger in more mechanical hands; but has finally become the best that ever existed, by the combination of a liberal feeling for nature with the avowed and local reasonableness of art. Gardens are now adapted to places, to climates, and to the demands of the presence of a house; that is to say, to the compromise which the house naturally tends to make between something like the orderliness and comfort inside of it, and the ḥature which art goes forth to meet. This is the reason why we have said we should like to have two gardens, if possible: one modified from the old terraces and parterres and formal groves of our ancestors, and the other from the wildness of " Kent and Nature.” If required to choose between the two, we should say, Give us anything comprising a few trees, a few flowers, a plot of grass, a bench, and seclusion ;-anything in which we could pace up and down, sit when we pleased, see a little brilliant color, a good deal of green, and not be overlooked. Whatever did this best, we should like best, whether made by art or nature.
There was a lady in the time of Pope, a true poetess (if she had but known it and taken pains), Lady Winchilsea, a friend of his, who had as thorough a taste for seclusion on the romantic side as ever existed. Her maiden name was Kingsmill; her husband the fifth Earl of Winchilsea, of the same fam that now possess the title. Anne Kingsmill was an open-hearted, excellent creature; she made a loving friend and wife; is one of the very few original observers of nature (as Wordsworth has remarked) who appeared in an artificial age; and deserves to have been gathered into collections of English verse far more than half of our minor poets. We will give a taste or two of this lady's style from her poem on the subject of retirement, and then conclude the present department of our book with two papers out of the periodical works of Mackenzie, worthy to have been read by herself, and more suited to the desires of readers in general. There is a great deal more of the poem, all creditable to the writer's turn of mind, but not choice enough in style for a book of selection. We beg the reader's admiration for the burden at the close of each paragraph.
PETITION FOR AN ABSOLUTE RETREAT.
FROM A POEM BY THE COUNTESS OF WINCHILSEA.
IVE me, O indulgent Fate,
Give me yet before I die,
No intruders thither come,
Where the world may ne'er invade,
Courteous Fate ! afford me there
Give me there (since Heaven has shown It was not good to be alone) A partner suited to my mind, Solitary, pleas'd, and kind;