« ÎnapoiContinuă »
the Revolution and the landing of King William, came the Dutch taste of formalizing Flora; and these grounds, by about the year 1695, were squared out around the house, divided by walls and well-clipped evergreen fences, with prim yews cut into architectural forms, and watered by canals as straight as a pike-staff.* There are in the house several views of various parts of the gardens about this time, with their formal enclosures and mazy labyrinths, wherefore I subjoin, in illustration, a reduction from one painted in 1749, just before the renovation took place.
But Dutch taste was not fated to take durable root + in this country; neither was the fashion which followed very superior, for, without attention to site, most of the Dutch flats and canals, and parterres with tonsured hedges, were, as if by one general receipt, transformed into clumps and belts; thus rendering all the parks in every county, at one period, but so many specimens of modified topiary work, too meagre and artificial to imitate nature. And there were those who, by habitually talking of Kent and Repton, and other horticultural plotters, persuaded themselves that picturesque beauty could be reduced to an invariable canon; as if the resources of nature, and of art too, where they undertake to modify the landscape, were not infinite. Lancelot Brown, the most notorious of his order, and therefore dubbed Capability-Brown, was a great intermeddler at various seats in Buckinghamshire, but especially at Stowe and at Hartwell; a fact vaunted to me with great animation by his son, whom I once accidentally met in that neighbourhood. Under the new régime, down came the yew arcades and avenue in front, the terraces were destroyed, the canal was filled up, the long walks upheaved, and the statues were transported to other and more remote stations in the grounds; and in a short time nothing remained but the mansion, the pavilion with a cupola roof in the centre of the arcades, and that at the head of the canal. When I first visited Hartwell, the pavilion was painted in fresco, with various passages from Don Quixote, the work of one of Louis XVIII.th's followers ; who amused himself by caricaturing the Napoleon court in the faces of his principal personages. This edifice was taken down by Dr. Lee, in 1831.
* Fashion is a most despotic tyrant. Speaking of these parallelogrammatic ponds, the Hon. Daines Barrington says,—“The late Lord Bathurst told me, that he was the first person who ventured to deviate from strait lines, in a brook which he had widened at Ryskins, near Colebrook. The Lord Strafford of that time, however, paying him a visit, and being carried out to see the effect of this new improvement, asked him to own fairly how little more it would ve cost to ha made the course of the brook in a strait direction.” Sylvester (A.D. 1621) describes Adam as enjoying a once very favourite style of garden
Musing, anon through crooked walks he wanders,
And right-wrong errors of an endless maze." † At Totteridge Park, near Barnet, in Middlesex, another seat of Dr. Lee's, there is still left a fine long straight walk, with a wall-hedge of yew, and many other details of a King William garden.
This home-stead is, however, not cut and trimmed with servility to the capability-pattern, though many of its faults, with a few of its merits, have obtained. It is not fully circumvallated with belt, nor are the groups of trees packed precisely in the regulation clumps. The mansion, though situated so low as to have its prospects considerably contracted, is judiciously placed upon a dry and airy spot, around which the contiguous grounds are suitably laid out, and well wooded. The principal entrance is by a road from the lodge over Park-hill, descending from which it winds over the water, where it is crossed by a neat stone bridge of three arches, built by the tasteful James Wyatt (see the plan). The great lawn is to the north and east, and bounded only by the natural slope of the land; so that an unimpeded prospect of the country to Aylesbury, with its church on a hill in the centre, presents itself, beautified by the sun's light shining upon it in the afternoon, while the sittingrooms of the mansion are perfectly shaded. This lawn confers at once an air of spaciousness, and admits of pleasing recreation; and where
and where it margins the piece of water, the botanist may find among the luxuriant vegetation, those—for this part of the country-rare plants, the wild calamint (thymus calamintha), the creeping tormentil (tormentilla reptans), the cat-mint (nepeta catario), and the horse-mint (mentha sylvestris).
The principal front of the mansion is thus left open, but it seems from the old paintings, that there was formerly an avenue there (see the plate); and from vestiges still remaining, that there was another long one to the north, which latter certainly intercepted no remarkable eye-shot range of view from the house. Avenues, however, although objects conferring an air of grandeur on property, indiscriminately fell beneath the axe of the reformer, or spoiler, of that day; but the public taste has at length come to its senses on this subject, and we need not despair of seeing that again created, which it was so lately the insensate fashion to destroy. In this spirit, Dr. Lee has restored one which reaches from the north front of Hartwell House nearly to Haydon Mill, on the river Thame, a distance of eight furlongs. In its extreme breadth this avenue is about one hundred and fifty feet, and the double row or aisle on each side being thirty feet wide, leaves a central expanse of ninety. The trees, which consist of ash, walnut, oak, elm, lime, chesnut, beech, sycamore, and white poplar, are planted thirty-three feet apart. “Heydun Mylle” has belonged to the manor from about the year 1300, as shewn in the ancient charters, and other documents, now in the Evidence Room of Hartwell House. In Weir Lane, leading to this mill, is the spring which tradition would fain recognise as the well at which harts formerly slaked their thirst; however that may be, a grateful quaffer of the lymph has sung
Stay, traveller! Round thy horse's neck the bridle fling,
Those who discovered that a kitchen garden is a deformity which ought to be hidden from human eye, contrived to rob the house of what had been till then the seat of hourly resort and of hourly gratification, a spot requisite for hospitality and social enjoyment. But, even under banishment, vegetables and orchard-fruits may be so managed as at least to constitute part of, or to communicate with, the pleasure-ground; instead of being consigned to the solitary concealment now so frequent. Indeed it is perfectly easy to plot one that shall be at once beautiful, instructive, and profitable. The Hartwell