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ART. I.-The Planter's Guide; or a Practical Essay on the best Method of giving immediate effect to Wood, by the removal of large Trees and Underwood; being an attempt to place the Art on fixed Principles, and to apply it to general Purposes useful and ornamental. By Sir Henry Steuart, Bart. LL.D., F.R.S.E. &c. Edinburgh, 8vo. 1828.
'HE notable paradox, that the residence of a proprietor upon his estate is of as little consequence as the bodily presence of a stock-holder upon Exchange, has, we believe, been renounced. At least, as in the case of the Duchess of Suffolk's relationship to her own child, the vulgar continue to be of opinion that there is some difference in favour of the next hamlet and village, and even of the vicinage in general, when the squire spends his rents at the manor-house, instead of cutting a figure in France or Italy. A celebrated politician used to say he would willingly bring in one bill to make poaching felony, another to encourage the breed of foxes, and a third to revive the decayed amusements of cock-fighting and bull-baiting-that he would make, in short, any sacrifice to the humours and prejudices of the country-gentlemen, in their most extravagant form, providing only he could prevail upon them to dwell in their own houses, be the patrons of their own tenantry, and the fathers of their own children.' However we might be disposed to stop short of these liberal concessions, we agree so far with the senator by whom they were enounced, as to think every thing of great consequence which furnishes an additional source of profit or of pleasure to the resident proprietor, and induces him to continue to support the useful and honourable character of a country-gentleman, an epithet so pleasing in English ears, so dear to English feelings of independence and patriotism. The manly lines of Akenside cannot fail to rush on the memory of our readers, nor was there such occasion for the reproach when it flowed from the pen of the author, as there is at this present day.
'O blind of choice, and to yourselves untrue!
The young grove shoots, their bloom the fields renew,
Or tempt the gamester s dark destroying snare,
VOL. XXXVII. NO. LXXIV.
Amidst the various sources of amusement which a country residence offers to its proprietor, the improvement of the appearance of the house and adjacent demesne will ever hold a very high place. Field-sports, at an early season in life, have more of immediate excitation; nor are we amongst those who condemn the gallant chase, though we cannot, now-a-days, follow it but a country life has leisure for both, if pursued, as Lady Grace says, moderately; and we can promise our young sportsman also, that if he studies the pursuits which this article recommends, he will find them peculiarly combined with the establishment of covers, and the protection of game.
Agriculture itself, the most serious occupation of country-gentlemen, has points which may be combined with the art we are about to treat of-or, rather, those two pursuits cannot, on many occasions, be kept separate from each other; for we shall have repeated occasion to remark, how much beauty is, in the idea of a spectator, connected with utility, and how much good taste is always offended by obvious and unnecessary expense. These are principles which connect the farm with the pleasure-ground or demesne. Lastly, we have Pope's celebrated apology for the profuse expense bestowed on the house and grounds of Canonsif Canons, indeed, was meant
'Yet hence the poor are clothed, the hungry fed;
The taste of alterations may be good or bad, but the labour employed upon them must necessarily furnish employment to the most valuable, though often the least considered of the children. of the soil, those, namely, who are engaged in its cultivation.
Horace Walpole, in a short essay, distinguished by his usual accuracy of information, and ornamented by his wit and taste, has traced the history of gardening, in a pictural sense, from the mere art of horticulture to the creation of scenery of a more general character, extending beyond the narrow limits of the proper garden and orchard. We venture, however, to think that this history, though combined by a master-hand, is in some degree imperfect, and confounds two particulars which our ancestors kept separate, and treated on principles entirely different-the garden, namely, with its ornaments, and the park, chase, or riding, which, under various names, was the proudest appurtenance of the feudal castle, and marked the existence of those rights and privileges which the feudal lord most valued.
The garden, at first intended merely for producing esculent vegetables, fruits, and flowers, began to assume another character, so soon as the increase of civilization tempted the feudal
baron to step a little way out of the limits of his fortifications, and permitted his high dame to come down from her seat upon the castle walls, so regularly assigned to her by ancient minstrels, and tread with stately pace the neighbouring precincts which art had garnished for her reception. These gardens were defended with walls, as well for safety as for shelter; they were often surrounded with fosses, had the command of water, and gave the disposer of the ground an opportunity to display his taste, by introducing canals, basins, and fountains, the margins of which admitted of the highest architectural ornament. As art enlarged its range, and the nobles were satisfied with a display of magnificence, to atone for the abridgment of their power, new ornaments were successively introduced; banqueting houses were built; terraces were extended, and connected by staircases and balustrades of the richest forms. The result was, indeed, in the highest degree artificial, but it was a sight beautiful in itself—a triumph of human art over the elements, and, connected as these ornamented gardens were with splendid mansions, in the same character, there was a symmetry and harmony betwixt the baronial palace itself, and these its natural appendages, which recommended them to the judgment as well as to the eye. The shrubs themselves were artificial, in so far as they were either exotic, or, if indigenous, were treated in a manner, and presented an appearance, which was altogether the work of cultivation. The examination of such objects furnished amusement to the merely curious, information to the scientific, and pleasure, at least, to those who only looked at them, and passed on. Where there was little extent of ground, especially, what could be fitter for the amusement of learned leisure,' than those 'trim gardens,' which Milton has represented as the chosen scene of the easy and unoccupied man of letters. He had then around him the most delightful subjects of observation, in the fruits and flowers, the shrubs and trees, many of them interesting from their novelty and peculiar appearance, and habits inviting him to such studies as lead from created things up to the Almighty Creator. This sublime author, indeed, has been quoted, as bearing a testimony against the artificial taste of gardening, in the times when he lived, in those well-known verses:Flowers worthy of Paradise, which not nice Art In beds and curious knots, but Nature boon Poured out profuse on hill, and dale, and plain, Both where the morning sun first warmly smote The open field, and where the unpierced shade Embrowned the noontide bowers. Thus was this place A happy rural seat of various view.'
This passage expresses exquisitely what park-scenery ought to be,
and what it has, in some cases, actually become; but, we think, the quotation has been used to authorise conclusions which the author never intended. Eden was created by the Almighty fiat, which called heaven and earth into existence, and poets of genius much inferior, and falling far short of Milton in the power of expressing their meaning, would have avoided the solecism of representing Paradise as decorated with beds and curious knots of flowers, with which the idea of human labour and human care is inevitably connected-an impropriety, indeed, which could only be equalled by that of the French painter, who gave the skin dress of our first father the cut of a court suit. Milton nobly conceived that Eden, emanating directly from the Creator, must possess that majestic freedom which characterizes even the less perfect works of nature, and, in doing so, he has anticipated the schemes of later improvers. But we think it extremely dubious, that he either meant to recommend landscape gardening on an extensive scale, or to censure those 'trim gardens,' which he has elsewhere mentioned so affectionately.
A garden of this sort was an extension of the splendour of the residence into a certain limited portion of the domain-was, in fact, often used as a sort of chapel of ease to the apartments within doors; and afforded opportunities for the society, after the early dinner of our ancestors, to enjoy the evening in the cool fragrance of walks and bowers. Hence, the dispersed groups which Watteau and others set forth as perambulating the highly ornamented scenes which these artists took pleasure in painting. Sometimes the hospitality of old England made a different use of these retreats, and tenanted the pleasure-ground with parties of jolly guests, who retired from the dining-parlour to finish the bottle, al fresco, on the bowling-green and in its vicinity. We have heard, for example, that, in a former generation, this used to be the rule at Trentham, where a large party of country-gentlemen used to assemble once a week, on a public day appointed for the purpose. At a certain hour the company adjourned to the bowling-green, where, according to their different inclinations, they played at bowls, caroused, lounged, or smoked, as their inclinations determined, and thus released their noble landlord from all further efforts to keep up the spirit of the entertainment. The honest Staffordshire squires were not, perhaps, the most picturesque objects in the world, while thus engaged, with countenances highly illuminated,
With a pipe and a flask, puffing sorrow away;'
but the circumstance serves to show that such plaisances as we have described formed convenient, as well as agreeable accompaniments to the mansion of a nobleman, who, having a certain