Imagini ale paginilor

by two figures with human busts, bearded, but ending below as termini. The compartment over it presents, in high relief, an allegorical composition of some pretension to skill in design. A bold commanding figure stands crowned with flowers; he leans on a globe with one arm, and holds a small torch in the other hand. On the table by the side of the globe is a flask covered with twisted straw after the Florentine manner, and a wine-glass; while on one side of the floor lie an Italian mandolin, a flute, a mask, an open book, and a small bas-relievo of two infants dancing; and on the other stand a cock, a dove, and a serpent. Through the columns of this aula, the landscape is marked by two trees, of different species. It is probable that this elaborate piece represents Horace viewing the pleasures of town and country, which he sang so feelingly in his “ solibus aptum ” taste. . Writing to Manutius Plancus (Ode VII. lib. i.), he boasts of his pleasant “ domus Albuneæ resonantis,” and the Tiburnian groves, giving them the preference to the quiet Lacedæmon and the fertile Larissa :

But me, not patient Lacedæmon charms,
Nor fair Larissa with such transport warms,
As pure Albunea's far-resounding source,
And rapid Anio, headlong in its course,
Or Tibur, fenc'd by groves from solar beams,
And fruitful orchards bath'd by ductile streams.

In the hall just described there are six oak doors with carved architraves, three of which are for symmetry only: the one on the south-eastern side leads into the breakfast-room, an ante-room formerly appropriated to billiards. It is nearly square, being twenty feet by eighteen; and is lighted by a high mullioned window on the north side, about ten feet wide, and considerately provided with a double casement to ensure comfort in wintery blasts. The walls are decorated with various family-portraits, and some landscapes, ruins, and flower-pieces.

From the breakfast-room, a door near the fire-place leads into the drawingroom, an elegant apartment of twenty-seven feet by thirty (measuring into the bow-window), and eighteen feet high: it is canopied by a richly-moulded ceiling, representing in bold relief, in the four angles, a lion, a dolphin, an eagle, and a winged dragon. The fire-place is ornamented with a finely-carved high mantelpiece, the centre of which bears—in white marble superposed on yellow-a medallion of a seated hero leaning one hand on his helmet, the other on his sword;

he is in gentle communion with a damsel also seated, with one arm resting on a shield bearing Medusa's head. These are apparently intended for Perseus and Andromeda ; for, as accessories, the distance on one side represents the rescue from the sea-monster, while Hymen, with his lighted torch, appears on the other. Above the two doors there are classic sopra-porta paintings in chiaro-scuro; and there is another in a similar style above the mantel-piece: the subjects are—a satyr on his knees before a terrified nymph; a centaur galloping off with a reluctant female-perhaps Nessus and Dejanira ; and Aurora floating on a cloud, a garland depending from one hand, while the other is raised above her head holding a flower, as if to catch the earliest rays of the rising sun. The hangings and curtains are of light-blue rich damask, with the usual accompaniments of mirrors, marble slabs, and gilt cornices. A large bay to the east, with three high window-frames, not only yields the proper supply of light, but also affords a variety of views, including Aylesbury and its church.

Proceeding through a double door on the south side of the drawing-room, we turn into the spacious dining-room, thirty-eight feet by twenty-five, and continuing of the same height with the hall. These proportions give a pleasing impression ; while the richly-wrought ceiling, the numerous paintings, and the properly distributed window-light, render its aspect even noble. The chimneypiece is very large, and of white marble, surmounted with a sea-piece painted by Van Diest, in a marble superstructure, where two small Corinthian columns support a cornice and small pediment, on which recline two little Bacchanalian Putti, one holding a bunch of grapes, the other a cup: on the cornice are the arms of the Lees on a shield, bearing date 1658. The mantel-piece is supported by two smiling female demi-figures, nearly of the natural size, ending as termini from below the busts.

Passing through a door on the south side, also double, from the diningroom, we enter the spacious library, the dimensions of which are--including two large bays with triplets of windows in them—thirty-six feet long by thirty in breadth, and eighteen in height. The walls are lined with tall book-cases, screened with interwoven gilt brass wire, reaching nearly up to the cornice beneath the ceiling. The two large bay-windows occupy so much space, that there was formerly a continuation of the book-cases across the eastern side, so as to cut off that bay, which was thereby converted into a retired little study : but in fitting-up the house for the residence of the King of France, the central nest of shelves was taken away, and placed behind the communiontable in the chapel, where it still remains. This certainly improved the apartment as a sitting-room ; but it impinged greatly on its capacity, and library-like aspect. There was, at one time, some intention of restoring it as of old; but the adjunct of the observatory, and its access through a part of the eastern bay, prevented it. The whole is airy and light; and, as we shall have to return hither presently, it may only be necessary here to add that the fire-place is on the west side, and evinces no little elegance in its construction. The high mantel-piece consists of pure white marble superposed on yellow, and bearing flowers tastefully disposed. In its centre is a large medallion, with a design suited to the application of the room, especially under its late addition : it represents a philosopher, probably Galileo, poring over a problem, while one infant cherub is uncovering a globe, and another is taking the cap off the objectglass of a telescope. Above the cross-piece is a looking-glass subdivided by tracery, surmounted with a large full-length portrait of Lady Elizabeth Lee, painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

A concealed side-door near the fire-place leads across the inner hall, which affords other communications with the rooms just described. Keeping on the south side of the house, we pass through a small ante-room into a private but ample study, replete with well-selected books of reference, valuable both for the scholar and the magistrate. On the west side are two doors, the southern of

, which leads into the strong-room, which, being intended to contain deeds and valuables, is fire-proof; and it has a singularly stout iron recess closed by a


door with easily acting lock and bolts. The other door leads past the foot of a narrow flight of steps belonging to some mezzanini rooms, into the secretary's office, furnished with closets for receiving the accounts of the surrounding estates, admirably arranged by Mr. Blake into half-yearly divisions.

On the right of this office, and stretching from the inner hall beyond the whole length of the great hall (see Plate VI.), is an elegant semi-circular vestibule, as it is called ; but being in the very middle of the house, and illuminated only by a large skylight, it answers rather to the mesaulon. of the Greeks. This centre of the mansion, which rises vertically through the several floors, is well designed and executed. It is decorated with six columns; and in a niche on the north side stands a robed female statue, decked in a tiara, and of a pleasing countenance. Two Roman busts, on the opposite side, harmonise with the general tone.

Continuing through this vestibule, we arrive at the old dismantled chapel, a roomy space where we find the semblance of an altar, but the place has no ornament except its columns. It is now devoted rather to the visible than to the spiritual attributes of the Omnipotent; being used as an accessory to the geological division of the museum above stairs, as well as for the preservation of duplicates in that department as presents to friends. This state of things is not to be ascribed either to the decay of domestic piety, or a failure of the veteres avia; for it is more than probable that such chapels were mostly used for family worship at times when the parish church was open. This would sometimes inflict a two-fold injury; while the tenantry lost the benefit of the good example of the family's public attendance, the family were deprived of the advantage of hearing the service performed, perhaps, with more propriety and solemnity than at home. The present household of Hartwell attend public worship; but Dr. Lee, persuaded of the duty of private devotion also, regularly reads prayers, and a discourse, to his assembled family, visitors, and domestics, in his drawing-room on Sunday evenings,—an arrangement which assuredly answers every end of assembling together for the recital of religious offices.

The same corridor which the chapel flanks, and which is named the great passage, leads to the servants' offices on the right hand, and to the housekeeper's department on the left. At the end of it, a stout old staircase ascends to the upper apartments, and is the most immediate way to the Elizabethan muniment-room, to which I have so often referred. During the residence of the Royal Family of France at Hartwell, a time when every part and parcel of the mansion was thickly occupied, this antiquated apartment was the allotted residence of the Count and Countess de Damas, the faithful attendants of the Duke and Duchess d'Angouleme; with whose quarters there was a very easy communication. The closet on the left side of the lobby leading into the muniment-room, was occupied by the Duchess de Serent, the aged mother of the Countesses de Narbonne and de Damas.

The bed-room floor, however, is not usually approached from this side, but rather by the great stair-case, a stately oaken structure, of easy ascent and appropriate breadth. The rails consist of small terminal figures, the upper half of which represent bearded men with their arms folded, as if to sustain the weight superposed by the banister and its semi-battalion of heroes and heroines. That is, twenty-four biblical, heathen, and historical personages, averaging thirty-two inches in height, rather rudely cut in oak, stand on pedestals rising above the hand-rail, placed from five to six feet asunder: without entering into minutiä, eight armed warriors guard the first flight of steps, mostly with drawn swords and charged shields, the rest wielding rods of office aloft. The fourth figure on the left has a two-headed spread-eagle on his shield; and the opposite corner of the landing-place is filled by a plumed warrior, holding his sword on high, while in a line with him on the right is a bellicose female of the embon point race. Six steps above her is a marshal, who, like the rest of the heroes, is in armour, with the Roman straps (lorica) pendant from the waist half way to the knees. In the corner of this landing-place is a peaceable damsel, but no beauty: it is probable, however, that the artist could not command elegance. In front of this lady stand the following, which were drawn with no other cause for selection, than merely to give an idea of the whole

« ÎnapoiContinuați »