Imagini ale paginilor



duce? Few, indeed, of our indigenous flowers are retained in our garden, few of our vegetables, besides the cabbage and carrot; and what were the ancient British fruits besides the crab and the bullace? But we have only to look back to the feudal times to see the wide difference between our gardens and those then existing; for all that could be enjoyed of a garden must be compressed within the narrow boundary of the castle moat. Everything without was subject to continual ravage and destruction; and though orchards were planted without, and suffered to take their chance, the ladies' little parterre occupied some sheltered nook of the court, or space between grim towers.

"This history of our gardening is, in fact, the history of Europe. The monks, whose religious character gave them an extraordinary security, as they were the first restorers of agriculture, so they were the first extenders and improvers of our gardens. Their long pilgrimages from one holy shrine to another, through France, Germany, and Italy, made them early acquainted with a variety of culinary and medicinal herbs, and with various fruits; and amongst the ruins of abbeys we still find a tribe of plants that they thus naturalised. The Crusade gave the next extension to horticultural knowledge; the growing commerce and wealth of Europe fostered it still further; and the successive magnificent discoveries of the Indies, America, and the isles of the Pacific and Australia, with all their new and splendid, and invaluable productions, raised the desire for such things to the highest pitch; and made our gardens and greenhouses affluent beyond all imagination. What hosts of new and curious plants do they still send us every season! From every corner of the earth are they daily reaching us: the average value of the plants in Loddige's Gardens is calculated at 200,000l. But what a blank would they now be but for the mighty spirit of commerce, the thirst for discovery, and of traversing distant regions, which animate such numbers of our countrymen, and send them out to extend our geography, geology, and natural history, or to prosecute astronomical and philosophical science under every portion of the heavens. And beside these causes, how much is yet to be accounted for by the tastes of peculiar ages-out of the peculiar studies of the times, and the singular genius of

particular men thence arising. The influence of poets and imaginative writers upon the character of our gardens has been extreme. Whether an age were poetical or mathematical, made a mighty difference in the garden-style of the time.

"The hands of Bridgman, Bent, and Brown, and the pens of Addison, Pope, and Walpole, have put all this ancient glory of Roman style to flight, and driven us, perhaps, into danger of going too far after nature. The winding walks, the turfy lawns, the bowery shrubberies, the green slopes to the margin of waters, the retention of rocks and thickets where they naturally stood-all this is very beautiful, and many a sweet elysian scene do they spread around our English homes. But in imitating nature we are apt to imitate her as she appears in the rudest places, and not as she would modify herself in the vicinity of human habitations. We are apt to make too little difference between the garden and the field; between the shrubbery and the wood. We are come to think that all, which differs from wild nature, is artificial, and, therefore, absurd. Something too much of this, I think, we are beginning to feel we have had among us. It has been the fashion to cry down all gardens as ugly and tasteless, which are not shaped by our modern notion. The formalities of French and Dutch have been sufficiently condemned. For my part, I like even them in their place. One would no more think of laying out grounds in this manner, than of creating Elizabethan ruff's, or bag-wigs and basket-hilted swords; yet the old French and Dutch gardens, as the appendages of a quaint old home, are, in my opinion, beautiful. They are like many other things-not so much beautiful in themselves, as beautiful by association-as memorials of certain characters and ages. A garden, after all, is an artificial thing; and though formed from the materials of nature, may be allowed to mould them into something very different. There is a wild beauty of nature, and there is a beauty in nature linked to art; one looks for a very different kind of beauty, in field and mountains, to what one does in a garden: the one delights you by a certain rude freedom and untamed magnificence, the other by smoothness and elegance-by velvet lawns, towering arbours,



winding paths, fair branching shrubs, fountains, and juxtaposition of many rare flowers.


"It appears to me that it is an inestimable advantage, as it regards our gardens, that the former taste of the nation has differed so much from its present one. Without this, what a loss of variety we should have suffered! If the taste of the present generation had been that of all past ages, what could have been in the gardens of our past kings, nobles, and historical characters, to mark them as strongly and emphatically as they are marked? They now, indeed, seem to belong to men and things gone by; and I would as soon almost see one of our venerable cathedrals rased with the ground, as one of those old gardens rooted up. There is something in them of a sombre and becoming melancholy; they are in keeping with the houses they surround, and the portraits in the galleries of those houses. When we wander through the pleachen alleys, and by the time-stained fountains of these old gardens, perished years indeed seem to

come back again to us. In the centre of some vast avenue of majestic elms or limes, sweeping their boughs to the ground, the dial-stone, aged and green, arrests our attention and points not to the present hour, but to the past. Our historic memories are intimately connected with such places. Our Howards, Essexes, Surreys, and Wolseys, were the magnificent founders and creators of such places; and in such Shakspeare and Spenser, Milton and Bacon, and Sidney, mused. It is astonishing what numbers of our poets, philosophers, and literati, are connected with the history of our gardens by their writings, or their love of them. Sir Henry Wotton, Parkinson, Ray, John Evelyn, Sir Walter Raleigh, Bacon, Addison, Pope, Sir William Temple, who wrote not only "The Garden of Epicurus, but so delighted in gardening that he directed, in his will, that his heart should be buried beneath the sun-dial in his garden at Moor Park, in Surrey, where it accordingly was deposited, in a silver box; Horace Walpole, Locke, Cowley, Shenstone, Charles Cotton, Waller, Bishop Fleetwood, Spence, the author of " Polymetis," Gilpin of the "Forest Scenery" Mason, Dr. Darwin, Cowper, and many others, have their fame linked to the history or the love of gardens." -HOWITT'S RURAL LIFE.


Ah, yes, the poor man's garden!
It is great joy to me,
This little precious piece of ground
Before his door to see!

The rich man has his gardeners,-
His gardeners young and old;
He never takes a spade in hand,

Nor worketh in the mould.

It is not with the poor man so,--
Wealth, servants, he has none;
And all the work that's done for him
Must by himself be done.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« ÎnapoiContinuă »