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Yet shall (my Lord) your just, your noble rules, 25 Fill half the land with Imitating-Fools;
NOTES. is not just in buildings is disagreable to the eye, (as a greater upon a lesser, &c.) and this may be called the reasoning of the eye. In laying out a garden, the first and chief thing to be considered is the genius of the place. Thus at Riskins, now called Piercy Lodge, Lord*** should have raised two or three mounts, because his situation is all a plain, and nothing can please without variety."
Mr. Walpole, in his elegant and entertaining History of Modern Gardening, has clearly proved that Kent was the artist to whom the English nation was chiefly indebted for diffusing a taste in laying out grounds, of which the French and Italians have no idea. But he adds, much to the credit of our Author, that Pope undoubtedly contributed to form Kent's taste. The design of the Prince of Wales's garden at Carlton House was evi. dently borrowed from the Poet's at Twickenham. There was a little affected modesty in the latter, when he said, of all his Works he was most proud of his garden. And yet it was a singular effort of art and taste to impress so much variety and scenery on a spot of five acres. The passing through the gloom from the grotto to the opening day, the retiring and again assembling shades, the dusky groves, the larger lawn, and the solemnity of the termination at the cypresses that lead up to his mother's tomb, are managed with exquisite judgment; and though Lord Peterborough assisted him
“To form his quincunx, and to rank his vines," those were not the most pleasing ingredients of his little perspective. I do not know whether the disposition of the garden at Rousham, laid out by General Dormer, and, in my opinion, the most engaging of all Kent's works, was not planned on the model of Mr. Pope's, at least in the opening and retiring “ shades of Venus's Vale."
It ought to be observed, that many years before this Epistle was written, and before Kent was employed as an improver of grounds, even so early as the year 1713, Pope seems to have been the very first person that censured and ridiculed the formal French, Dutch, false and unnatural mode in gardening, by a paper in the Guardian, No. 173, levelled against capricious operations of art,
Who random drawings from your sheets shall take, And of one beauty many blunders make;
and every species of verdant sculpture and inverted nature; which paper
abounds with wit as well as taste, and ends with a ridiculous catalogue of various figures cut in
evergreens. Neither do I think that these four lines in this Epistle,
Here Amphitrite sails thro' myrtle bow'rs;
And swallows roost on Nilus' dusty urn;
“ A citizen is no sooner proprietor of a couple of yews, but he entertains thoughts of erecting them into giants, like those of Guildhall. I know of an eminent cook who beautified his country-seat with a coronation dinner in greens, where you see the champion flourishing on horseback at the end of the table, and the queen in perpetual youth at the other.”
But it was the vigorous and creative imagination of Milton, superior to the prejudices of his times, that exhibited in his Eden the first hints and outlines of what a beautiful garden should be; for even his beloved Ariosto and Tasso, in their luxuriant pictures of the gardens of Alcina and Armida, shewed they were not free from the unnatural and narrow taste of their countrymen; and even his master, Spenser, has an artificial fountain in the midst of his bower of bliss.
I cannot forbear taking occasion to remark in this place, that in the sacred drama, entitled L’Adamo, written and published at Milan, in the year 1617, by Gio Battista Andreini, a Florentine, which Milton certainly had read (and of which Voltaire has given so false and so imperfect an account in his Essays on the Epic Poets), the prints that are to represent Paradise are full of clipped hedges, square parterres, straight walks, trees uniformly lopped, regular knots and carpets of flowers, groves nodding at groves, marble fountains, and water-works. And yet these prints were designed by Carlo Antonio Proccachini, a celebrated landscape painter of his time, and of the school of Carraches : many of those works are still admired at Milan. To every scene of this drama is prefixed a print of this artist's designing. The poem, though wild and incorrect, has many strokes of genius. The author was an actor.
Load some vain Church with old Theatric state, Turn Arcs of Triumph to a Garden-gate ; 30
NOTES. • It hence appears, that this enchanting art of modern gardening, in which this kingdom claims a preference over every nation in Europe, chiefly owes its origin and its improvements to two great poets, Milton and Pope. May I be suffered to add, in behalf of a favourite author, and who would have been a first-rate poet, if his style had been equal to his conceptions, that the Seasons of Thomson have been very instrumental in diffusing a general taste for the beauties of nature and landscape?
Ver. 28. And of one beauty many blunders make ;] Because the road to Taste, like that to Truth, is but one; and those to error and absurdity a thousand.
Ver. 29. Load some rain Church with old Theatric state,] In which there is a complication of absurdities, arising both from their different natures and forms: for the one being for religious service, and the other only for civil amusement, it is impossible that the profuse and lascivious ornaments of the latter should become the modesty and sanctity of the other. Nor will any examples of this vanity of dress in the sacred buildings of antiquity justify this imitation ; for those ornaments might be very suitable to a Temple of Bacchus, or Venus, which would ill become the sobriety and purity of the Christian Religion.
Besides, it should be considered, that the form of a Theatre would not permit the architectonic ornaments to be placed but on the outward face ; whereas those of a Church may be as commodiously, and are more properly, put within ; particularly in great and close pent-up Cities, where the incessant driving of the smoke, in a little time, corrodes and destroys all outward ornaments of this kind; especially if the members, as in the common taste, be small and little.
Our Gothic ancestors had juster and manlier notions of mag. nificence, on Greek and Roman ideas, than these Mimics of Taste, who profess to study only classic elegance. And because the thing does honour to the genius of those Barbarians, I shall endeavour to explain it. All our ancient Churches are called, without distinction, Gothic; but erroneously. They are of two sorts ; the one built in the Saxon times; the other in the Nor. man. Several Cathedral and Collegiate Churches of the first sort
Reverse your Ornaments; and hang them all
are yet remaining, either in the whole or in part: of which this was the Original. When the Saxon kings became Christian, their piety (which was the piety of the times) consisted in building Churches at home, and performing pilgrimages abroad, especially to the Holy Land : and these spiritual Exercises assisted and supported one another. For the most venerable as well as most elegant models of religious edifices were then in Palestine. From these, our Saxon Builders took the whole of their ideas, as may be seen by comparing the drawings which travellers have given us of the churches yet standing in that country, with the Saxon remains of what we find at home; and particularly in that sameness of style in the later religious edifices of the Knights Templars (professedly built upon the model of the church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem), with the earlier remains of our Saxon Edifices. Now the architecture of the Holy Land was Grecian, but greatly fallen from its ancient elegance. Our Saxon performance was indeed a bad copy of it; and as much inferior to the works of St. Helene and Justinian, as theirs were to the Grecian models they had followed: yet still the footsteps of ancient art appeared in the circular arches, the entire columns, the division of the entablature, into a sort of Architrave, Frize, and Corniche, and a solidity equally diffused over the whole mass. This, by way of distinction, I would call the Saxon Architecture.
But our Norman works had a very different original. When the Goths had conquered Spain, and the genial warmth of the climate, and the religion of the old inhabitants, had ripened their wits, and inflamed their mistaken piety (both kept in exercise by the neighbourhood of the Saracens, through emulation of their science and aversion to their superstition), they struck out a new species of Architecture unknown to Greece and Rome; upon original principles and ideas much nobler than what had given birth even to classical magnificence: for this northern people having been accustomed, during the gloom of paganism, to worship the Deity of GROVES (a practice common to all nations), when their new religion required covered edifices, they ingeniously projected to make them resemble Groves, as near as the distance of Architecture would permit; at once indulging
Then clap four slices of Pilaster on't,
their old prejudices, and providing for their present conveniences, by a cool receptacle in a sultry climate.. And with what skill and success they executed the project by the assistance of Saracen Architects, whose exotic style of building very luckily suited their purpose, appears from hence, That no attentive observer ever viewed a regular Avenue of well-grown trees, intermixing their branches over-head, but it presently put him in mind of the long Visto through a Gothic Cathedral; or ever entered one of the larger and more elegant edifices of this kind, but it represented to his imagination an Avenue of trees. And this alone is what can be truly called the Gothic style of Building.
Under this idea, of so extraordinary a species of Architecture, all the irregular transgressions against art, all the monstrous of fences against nature, disappear; every thing has its reason; every thing is in order, and a harmonious Whole arises from the studious application of means, proper and proportioned to the end. For could the Arches be otherwise than pointed when the Workman was to imitate that curve which branches of two opposite trees make by their intersection with one another? Or could the Columns be otherwise than split into distinct shafts, when they were to represent the Stems of a clump of Trees growing close together? On the same principles they formed the spreading ramifications of the stone-work in the windows, and the stained glass in the interstices; the one to represent the branches, and the other the leaves, of an opening Grove; and both concurred to preserve that gloomy light which inspires religious reverence and dread. Lastly, we see the reason of their studied aversion to apparent solidity in these stupendous masses, deemed so absurd by men accustomed to the upparent as well as real strength of Grecian Architecture. Had it been only a wanton exercise of the Artist's skill, to shew he could give real strength without the appearance of any, we might indeed admire his superior science, but we must needs condemn his ill judgment. But when one considers, that this surprising lightness was necessary to complete the execution of his idea of a Sylvan place of worship, one cannot sufficiently admire the ingenuity of the contrivance.
This too will account for the contrary qualities in what I call