The Rise and Progress of the Present Taste in Planting Parks, Pleasure Grounds, Gardens, &c, from Henry the Eighth to King George the Third; in a poetic Epistle to the Right Honorable Charles, Lord Viscount Irwin

Ars est Celare Artem. HORACE

An intimate Acquaintance with the Works of Nature and Genius, in their most beautiful and amiable Forms, humanizes and sweetens the Temper, opens and extends the Imagination, and disposes to the most pleasing Views of Mankind and Providence.


No Gardens of consequence till Henry the Eighth’s reign. Nonsuch and Theobald’s described. Versailles laid out upon the same plan. The three next reigns unacquainted with the charms of Nature, had no taste but for those of Art. Milton’s description of Eden admirable. King William introduced the Belgian mode of gardening at Hampton-Court; described and condemned. Sir William Temple’s garden plans execrable. Kensington gardens capable of being made fine, if opened like Lord Holland’s. Kew, Richmond, Castle-Howard, in an exquisite taste. Nestor’s villa the contrary. Some occasional hints upon the planning and planting of pleasure-grounds. Stowe commended. Its faults. Studley park fine, but too much disfigured by Art. Woobern-Farm a model of rural elegance. The Emperor of China’s gardens displayed in three views, the pleasing, the horrid, the inchanted. A digression. Templenewsham, Lord Irwin’s, commended. Mr. Brown, the King’s gardener at Hampton-Court, celebrated for the finest genius this nation has produced, for laying out pleasure-ground; which is visible in his works at Blenheim Castle, at Earl Spencer’s, at Croome, the Earl of Coventry’s, at Caversham, Lord Cadogan’s, and for uniting the powers of Poetry and Painting in his designs, is crowned with laurel by the Muses.

At length, my Lord, the charms of art decay,
And lovely Nature re-assumes her sway;
As erst in Greece, she now in Albion reigns,
Nor weeps in ruins her Arcadian plains;
5 Since here triumphant she has fix’d her seat,
And views her face with ev’ry charm replete.
Tho’ not three cent’ries since this fertile Isle,
Saw rich Pomona, and fair Flora smile;
No fruits before*—or bright carnations glow’d, author’s note 1
10 Nor flavours those—nor odours these bestow’d;
Alike unknown the vegetable race,
That richly now our fruitful gardens grace;
From Belgia* then our vegetables came, author’s note 2
And scarce the curran here had got a name;
15 No flowering shrubs, and pencil tulips vy’d,
With gay auriculas in vernal pride;
Here Flora late, with hyacinthian train,
With roses crown’d commenc’d her lily’d reign.
Of yore the mansions of the rich and great,
20 Were for protection built, and not for state;
And like the times a warlike aspect wore,
The walls too often stain’d with human gore;
The lofty towers still venerable rose,
And frown’d defiance on vindictive foes;
25 Strongly immur’d with moats encircled round,
No space for gardens, or for pleasure-ground.
Gardens at first—ere Henry’s sanguine reign,
Were but mere orchards, rough and rude and plain;
With some mean statues miserably grac’d,
30 As destitute of beauty, as of taste.
Nonsuch* in gay description still displays, author’s note 3
The false magnificence of Tudor’s days;
Rich trellis-work the gardens there unfold,
And proud alcoves festoon’d and gilt with gold;
35 Large cabinets of verdure, knots of flowers,
And small canals, square groves, and roseat bowers.
As thick as trees fantastic structures rise,
And Gothic images with painted eyes;
The saliant fountains (which have had their day)
40 Thro’ beaks of birds ridiculously play;
Trees clipt to statues,* monsters, cats and dogs, author’s note 4
And hollies metamorphos’d into hogs;
Here urns and statues in confusion stand,
And one wide waste of riches spread the land.
Trifles like those at proud Versailles combin’d,
45 Fools to surprize, and shock the tasteful mind;
That studies nature, lavish of each grace,
When not absorpt in art’s destructive face.
At Theobald’s* art disfigur’d ev’ry scene, author’s note 5
Tho’ costly, poor, magnificent, yet mean;
50 Here fanes* and statues as Nonsuch plac’d, a temple or shrine
Without the least propriety, or taste;
Here marbled basins limpid streams eject,
Which patt’ring fall with infantine effect:
Here narrow ponds the shady walks divide,
55 And beds of flowers extend from side to side.
You here in vain for distant prospects look,
Behold the walls—encircled by a brook;
Exclude, whate’er the charming landskip fills,
The flocks and herds, the rivers, woods and hills:
60 Yet pedant James in this admir’d retreat,
Unconscious how to make the monarch great;
Past half his time with Buckingham and Car,
As fond of hunting, as afraid of war.
Such labour’d scenes successive kings admir’d,
65 Nor to the charms of nature e’er aspir’d;
Milton alone of either Charles’s time,
In horticulture hit the true sublime;
What vary’d beauties in his gardens shine,
The charms of nature live in every line;
70 The powers of fancy cou’d no higher soar,
His Eden blooms as Eden bloom’d before. Paradise Lost (1667)
Here great Nassau the Belgian gardens spread,
Yet Hampton-Court th’ improving age misled;
Long gravel walks with puerile knots of flowers,
75 Of taste and grandeur still destroy the powers;
With intersected plats of useless grass,
Which seem to interrupt us as we pass;
Garnish’d like Christmas brawn, with box or pews,
With chearful hollies, and with gloomy yews:
80 What tho’ meandering Thames flows gliding by,
Yet one dead level still offends the eye!
We here fatigu’d the lengthening walk survey,
That tonsur’d bushes, and parterres display;
And pyramids in yew, that doleful stand,
85 Like mutes and mourners in a fun’ral Band;
When after dragging our tir’d legs a mile,
Lo! two pavilions in a wretched stile,
Thro’ which we soon to rural meads retreat,
And what these gardens want, in them we meet.
90 Temple the easy, learned and polite, editors’s note 1
Who thought as freely as his pen cou’d write;
No garden plans from graceful nature drew,* author’s note 6
His trees by pairs in nuptial order grew;
Or plac’d like sentinels at each corner stand,
95 To guard Pomona’s gifts from Rapine’s hand;
Pleas’d still with fountains, and with gay alcoves,
With statu’d Venus, and her train of loves;
Six’d round parterres in regular design,
And gravel walks as level as a line.
100 From want of taste for undulating hills,
Bustles of oaks, fine vales, and murmuring rills;
Extensive lawns, and close embracing shades,
Long lakes, bright spiry rocks, and opening glades;
He tortur’d nature sore in every part,
105 And beauty centur’d in the charms of art.
O much too long the Belgian mode defac’d,
That charming wildness, that inchanting taste,
Which every where the hand of art conceals,
And nature only more improv’d reveals!
105 See Kensington, by Caroline’s command, editor’s note 2
New modell’d shines, in rural fancy plann’d;
Yet where these Sylvan scenes are all immur’d, walled in
Spoilt’s every grace, and every charm obscur’d.
Who grieves not still to see these gardens lost,
110 When not a monarch cou’d in Europe boast,
Of brighter landskips, more luxurious views,
Were but remov’d, the walls, the groves and yews!
Nigh here behold with pleasure and surprize,
From Holland’s taste inchanting scenes arise!
115 His house before embossom’d in a wood,
With walls embarrass’d, like a chartreux stood;
From every part he now delighted sees
Towns, temples, villas, rivers, meads and trees:
And every beauty too his gardens grace,
120 Where nature heretofore conceal’d her face.
But now the striking scenes at Kew behold, editor’s note 3
Where Taste and Chamber’s every grace unfold;
Nature adopts his plan, her features sees,
When lively pencil’d, never fail to please;
125 So sweetly vary’d, so enrich’d each part,
Here see the force of genius, and of art!
Cast next your eye on Richmond’s blissful plains,
Here Hymen triumphs, and here pleasure reigns;
See here proud Thames respectful bows his waves,
130 And her green slopes with liquid silver laves;
Here Spring delights, here Summer lovely glows,
Here purple Autumn every tint bestows;
Here emulous th’ embowering shades arise,
Here fragrant shrubs expand, the richest dies;
135 Here flowers successive earliest homage pay,
And carpetting enamel all the way;
While from the Thames the balmy zephyrs spring,
And fan the air with odorif’rous wing:
While ev’ry grove resounds with warbling notes,
140 From soaring larks the trembling music flotes.
There Sion lists her venerable pile, editor’s note 4
Where hospitality still wears a smile;
Where taste and elegance and grandeur shine,
And every virtue decks brave Piercy’s line!
145 See vary’d vessels here with flags advance,
And o’er the waves in mazy figures dance;
Pass and repass, and trim the swelling sail,
And sport and wanton in the breezy gale;
Here Albion’s sceptred pair from noise retire,
150 And all the charms of rural life admire;
Here in these sweet sequester’d scenes of joy,
Soft love and harmony their hours employ;
Here ease and freedom, Health and Virtue find,
The bliss, the Balm, and Blessing of mankind!
155 At Castle-Howard all inchantment seems, editor’s note 5
Here dwell the Genii of the woods and streams;
The Naiads here with fawns and dryads sport, editor’s note 6
Venus and Cupid here might keep their court;
Here wanton Nature laughs along the plains,
160 And in despight of art triumphant reigns.
There see an obelisque elated rise,
In grateful memory of filial ties!
A pillar there records great Marlbro’s name,
His shining laurels, and his deathless fame.
165 Here on a verdant slope, to fame still just,
A tomb that guards a princely Howard’s dust;
Below a bridge in true perspective plac’d,
With all the charms of architecture grac’d;
On rising ground see yon stupendous fane,
170 In attic grandeur grace the lovely plain;
Within what beauty—taste—and splendor shine,
To strike the bosom with an awe divine!
How rich the columns—and how light the dome!
A Temple worthy of immortal Rome!
175 O’er the Mosaic floor O lightly tread,
Beneath’s the sacred mansion of the dead;
Where with his race th’ illustrious founder lies,
The fair and virtuous, and the brave and wise!
180 But mark the beauties of these rural scenes,
The brown-embow’ring shades, and bright-contending greens.
The spacious lawns, rude rocks, and purling rills,
The flowery vallies, and the fruitful hills;
The winding river that unbounded roves,
185 Till wandering bury’d in yon distant groves;
Here in one landskip all these charms combine,
And Britons see a new Arcadia shine.
Lo! Nestor’s villa—where bright views abound, 7
Can boast at home but long extent of ground;
190 One avenue another still succeeds,
Ungraced with flowery lawns, rich hills and meads;
With nothing wild, or rural interspers’d,
With sand and gravel like Arabia curs’d.
Forc’d up by art, and at a great expence,
200 The rustic stairs a scanty stream dispense;
Which scarce an hour here faintly murmuring slows,
And o’er the steril walks no beauty throws!
For these alas!—unlike Elysian scenes,
Are fenc’d with aoaring walls of tonsur’d greens;
205 Thro’ which rude winds in many an eddy’ng gale,
With clouds of sand the visual orbs assail;
Nature and taste alike disown the place,
And yield to art its honours and disgrace.
But nothing looks so miserably vile,
210 As a dull regularity of stile;
Where all at once we view the whole design,
Like a desert upon a table shine;
Much art, much labour, order and expence,
Without variety, or taste, or sense;
215 “Grove nods at grove, each alley has its brother, Pope, Epistle to Burlington, ll. 117-8
“One half the platform just reflects the other;
Pleas’d for a moment we the scene survey,
And then disgusted wish it all away.
O study Nature! And with thought profound,
220 Previous to laying out with taste your ground:
O mark her beauties as they striking rise,
Bid all her adventitious charms surprize!
Eye all her shining, all her shadowy grace,
And to conceal them every blemish trace:
225 Yet there’s a happiness that baffles Art,
In showing Nature great in every part,
Which chiefly slows from mingled lights and shades,
In lawns, and woods, hills, rivers, rocks and glades;
For only happy’s that assemblage made,
230 Where force of light contends with force of shade.
But when too busy Art destroys each grace,
And shades with ornaments her lovely face,
We abdicated beauty eye with pain,
And Art presides, where Nature ought to reign.
235 Fair Nature still impatient of restraint,
When forc’d at all grows languid dull and faint;
When robb’d of freedom, loses charm by charm,
Till she expires in Art’s usurping arm.
On swelling summits spiry temples found,
240 And sculptur’d obelisks with statues crown’d;
In bright perspective let each object rise,
Yet not at first—but on result surprize.
A well-fix’d Statue, or a Fane misplac’d,
Is view’d with pleasure, or creates distaste.
245 And truest elegance in planting’s shown,
When trees around are negligently thrown,
In numbers not too many or too few,
Group’d as in Nature’s sweetest scenes we view.
Let the brave Oak, of trees the monarch, rise,
250 The shapely Larch, pale Ash in mingled dies;
The weeping Willow, and the Elm upright,
The quivering Asp, Abele, and Walnut bright;
The broad-leaf’d Maple, and the glossy Lime,
The scarlet Chesnut, and the Palm sublime;
255 The Holly arm’d with gold and silver spines,
The branch’d Pinaster, and the Fir that shines;
The fragrant Cedar with aspiring head,
The feathery Cyprus sacred to the Dead,
Th’ umbrageous Platane of exalted mein,
260 The nodding Pine, and Lawrel evergreen.
Let flowering Shrubs in blooming beauty rise,
Of pleasing scents, and variegated dies;
The Sumach, Tutzan, and Acacia soft,
The Tulip-tree, that bears its flowers aloft;
265 The red Mezerion and Syringa white,
The dusky Bay, and Laurustinus bright;
The pale Laburnum grac’d with yellow plumes,
The purple Lilac’s fill’d with mild perfumes;
Th’ Althea, Opulus, and Virgin’s bower,
270 Th’ Hypericum, and Cistus’ spotted slower,
The double Almond, Bramble, Cherry, Thorn,
The blushing Peach as ruddy as the morn.
Th’ Jasmins, Roses, and the Woodbines sweet,
With nameless sorts the fragrant list complete.
275 But in gradation let their shades appear,
The bright, the dark, the dusky and the clear,
Dispers’d around with sweet inchanting air,
Wildly romantic! Elegantly fair!—
With magic wand still tame th’ uncultur’d ground,
280 And bid elysian beauties bloom around;
Let scene improve on scene, and grace on grace,
Inchanting Nature dwell in every place;
Here from dry rocks, like Moses at a blow,
Command the cool translucent streams to slow,
285 And smoothly glide—till they impeded rise,
And with new water-falls the vales surprize.
The Chinese bridge in semi-circles fling,
Across the living streams, that widening spring;
Bounded by Alder, Beech and Poplar shades,
290 And facing full the falls of loud cascades,
Whose sparkling streams at intervals are seen,
Shine thro’ the shades, and purl along the green,
Thro’ rural elegance still winding rove,
Till murmuring lost in some romantic grove.
295 Let sweet simplicity each scene adorn,
Order and all incongruous stiffness scorn,
In wandering mazes down the rocky hill,
Here slow the streams in many a purling rill;
And let beneath the vaulted Grotto shine,
300 Fraught with the products of each Sea and Mine;
Bid sparkling ores, bright shells, and glittering spars,
Reflect a thousand forms, a thousand stars:
While weeping rills pervade th’ encrusted wall,
Whose pearly tears in marble cisterns fall;
305 Still such a soothing sound these tinkling keep,
As lull the pensive and the sad to sleep;
Here widow’d love, pale woe may rest their head,
Or, with the suddening Spring soft sorrows shed;
Here meditation may pursue her theme,
310 And of celestial joys enraptur’d dream;
Here Bards inspir’d may sing angelic lays,
Till shells grow vocal in their Maker’s praise.
While Nature round in every scene presides,
And both the planter and the builder guides,
315 The more she varies, still the more she warms,
And every eye with every beauty charms.
Cobham with parts, and every virtue blest, editors’ note 8
With pleasing skill the face of Nature drest;
From fine ideas form’d a great design,
320 Cou’d he have dropt the dangerous Rule and Line,
Then Stowe had been with nobler wildness grac’d, editor’s note 9
And shewn the full result of genuine taste.
But tiresome grow each long long lengthening Isle,
Where captive Nature never deign’d to smile,
325 Where crouded Statues, crouded Structures glare,
And only serve to make the Vulgar stare.
Sweet Studley shows too much th’ effects of Art, editor’s note 10
With every beauty Nature cou’d impart,
For prim clipt hedges, formal rows of trees,
330 Veil every grace the tasteful eye decrees.
The streams pellucid still impounded slow,
And Limes are tonsur’d like a Birth-night Beau;
Here blooming Nature spreads her charms in vain,
And injur’d flies in rural Meads to reign.
335 Wooburn for me superior charms can boast, editor’s note 11
Where Nature’s still improv’d, but never lost;
Here rob’d in soft simplicity she shines,
And all the paint and pomp of Art resigns,
Pleases alone by her intrinsic grace,
340 And wears the native beauties of her face.
Ascend yon terrace, and you there survey,
The queen of cities all her domes display:
See Wren’s stupendous work, the Fane of Paul, St.Paul’s cathedral
In lofty Majesty o’erlooks ’em all!
345 There Windsor, crown’d with towers and golden spires, editor’s note 12
From Edward’s deeds the breast with glory sires;
There Edward triumph’d with his Garter’d Knights,
In proud processions, and in hardy sights;
There beauties came the festival to grace,
350 And to their charms still bow’d the Warrior-race;
In jousts and tournaments they mingled shone,
With many a Noble, many a Royal name,
Illume the Records of immortal Fame.
What Poets fabled or description yields,
355 Of Tempe’s Vale, and sweet elysian fields, editor’s note 13
See realiz’d—for here inchanted roves,
The eye o’er hills, vales, villas, towns and groves;
Tame rolls his streams in serpent-mazes round,
While flocks and herds graze o’er th’ enamel’d ground,
360 And musky zephyrs with a gentle breeze,
Dance o’er the lawns, and sport along the trees;
In every bush a feather’d Muse we hear,
Whose melting notes melodious sooth the ear.
There weeping willows kiss the watry glades,
365 And rills still murmur thro’ the pensive shades;
While blooming flowers ambrosial odours breathe,
And all above is Grace, and Beauty all beneath.
Th’ Imperial Princes on the Chinese throne, editor’s note 14
Have highest taste in Horticulture shown,
370 Where step by step astonish’d we pursue
Nature still varying, yet forever new:
Here Flora’s race the brightest blossoms bear,
Whose fragrant breath perfumes the ambient air;
For all the flowers that finest climes adorn,
375 With opening sweets here hail the purple morn!
On swelling hillocks shrubs of Tyrian dies,
A thousand sorts in rich profusion rise,
Mingled with trees that flavour’d fruits unfold,
Which blushing flame with vegetable gold;
380 While round the silver streams meandering glide,
With this sweet scene reflected on their tide;
Here Pines and Cedars in eternal prime,
With trees unnumber’d of this balmy clime,
Dispers’d around with such a careless grace,
385 As gives new beauty to the finest place:
There spiry structures rise on sloping hills,
Broider’d with Pines, and silver quivering rills.
And here the circling walks their colours change,
With them the prospects as along we range.
390 With Poppies crown’d fair Ceres decks the plain, Roman goddess of agriculture
And smiling nods beneath her golden grain.
Here bounding Roes, and bearded Goats are seen,
In playful sport upon the velvet green.
There slows a river winding thro’ the vales,
395 Cover’d with boats, and glittering colour’d fail,
And one a swan resembles—one a whale.
But turning here a different view behold,
A barren wild of aspect bleak and cold;
Tho’ not extensive, yet an awful scene,
400 Where no gay pleasing objects intervene.
Here Nature all uncultivated lies,
Here craggy hills in peaks terrific rise,
Whence horrid rocks projecting seem to frown,
And every moment threaten to fall down.
405 Here a Pagoda with a shatter’d face,
Moulder’d by Time, bends nodding o’er it’s base.
In heaps of ruin here sepulchres mourn
Their mangled images, and sculptures torn:
Here caverns stretch their monstrous jaws around,
410 Where rude winds whistling waft a mournful sound.
Here bursts a cat’ract o’er a rocky steep,
Whose falls a dreadful thundering, clamouring keep.
Here echo dwells, and entertain’d she seems,
By imitating still the boisterous streams.
415 Here blasted Pines and ragged Cedars stand,
And desolation covers all the land.
As here along we melancholy stray,
Still fallen towers and pillars strew the way;
Till we at length insensibly are led,
420 To where a Cyprus Grove erects its head;
All scenes at entrance dark and silent here,
Till rushing torrents strike th’ astouned ear;
Dubious we stand what winding walk to take,
As rambling waves the earth beneath us shake.
425 In vain we try the torrent to explore,
That rolls along with loud tremendous rore.
As lost in wonder we advance this wood,
Still louder still the subterraneous Flood.
Here weeping Grots, and Ivy-fretted Cells,
430 Where pining melancholy moping dwells,
For she, pale sister, dreads the glare of day,
And in these Shades illudes it’s sparkling Ray.
Here Screech-owls, Bats, voracious birds of night,
In solemn stillness sleep secure from sight.
435 Hark!—now the torrent bursting loudest rores,
As waves reverb’rate from rough rocky shores;
At length a darksome Cave impedes our way,
We enter quick impatient for the day;
When low! A prospect opens to our view,
440 Richer than ever Poet feign’d, or Painter drew.
Beneath the Grove the torrent rolls conceal’d
To raise surprize, and be with joy reveal’d.
Behold the streams in one tumultuous rage,
Down dashing headlong pointed rocks engage,
445 Here foaming flash around their sparkling spray,
And billowing dart along the plains away,
Till yonder spreading like an ocean wide,
They then by temples, towers, and villas glide;
Which rais’d on hills with Palms and Cedars crown’d,
450 Conspiring make this seem inchanted ground.
There lofty Bridges, in grotesque design,
O’er vallies stretch’d, and hill with hill conjoin,
And view beneath what boats unfurl their sails,
Whose flying streamers catch th’ Etesian gales,
455 To net the fishes in the curling stream,
Which thro’ bright waves like molten silver gleam.
On Pine-crown’d hills there Mausoleums rise,
Whose golden Pennons glitter in the skies:
O lovely scenes! With every beauty grac’d,
460 With grandeur, wildness, and sublimest taste:
With hanging woods, fine slopes, and glittering rills,
Red cliffs, green vales, white rocks, and azure hills.
See silk-worms here their golden cones display
On Mulberry-trees, and emulate the day.
465 Around yon Elms the Vine her foliage spreads,
The peeping clusters blush, and hang their heads.
We here inhale the aromatic breeze,
In Jasmin bowers enwreath’d with spicy trees.
There shine the Grots and Baths with colonades,
470 Here flask resounding flask the shrill cascades
O’er crystal rocks.—There weeping willows bend,
To falls aquatic verdant shelter lend;
In pools encircled round with spiky reeds,
See here they foster all their downy breeds!
475 There winding turns the silver-lily’d vale,
And here again behold the vessels fail!
There towers with spires and tall Pagodas rise,
Crusted with Porcelain of richest dies:
While Citron, Orange, Rose and Myrtle, shades,
480 Wave pensile o’er the cool pellucid glades;
Where Pheasants, Parrots and Maccaws unfold,
Their many coloured-plumes suffus’d with gold;
While Larks and Philomels, still warbling vye,
And fill with melody the azure sky;
485 Whence brightest suns irradiate all below,
Where beauty out of beauty seems to grow.
There active Swains unanimous agree,
To cull the verdant leaves of fragrant Tea;
While these unlock the silver sluices round,
490 To pulp the rice, and bathe the flowery ground.
There Animals of finest shape and dye,
Unknown to us attract the wondering eye;
With bleating sheep, and lowing herds and fawns,
In friendly league still crop the vivid lawns.
495 Here soft Favonius fans the genial Spring, Latin: west wind
Attempering Phoebus’ rays with breesy wing.
Here no dire winds or fable mists arise,
But silver showers distil from golden skies.
No lightenings flash, or peals of thunder break,
500 To blast their harvests, or their mansions shake:
Nor putrid vapours here in spires ascend,
Nor storms of hail or flakes of snow descend,
But flowers and trees in blooming pride appear,
And Spring triumphant rules the circling year.
505 But you, my Lord, at Templenewsham find, editor’s note 15
The charms of Nature gracefully combin’d,
Sweet waving hills, with woods and verdure crown’d,
And winding vales, where murmuring streams resound:
Slopes fring’d with Oaks which gradual die away,
510 And all around romantic scenes display.
Delighted still along the Park we rove,
Vary’d with Hill and Dale, with Wood and Grove:
O’er velvet Lawns what noble Prospects rise,
Fair as the Scenes, that Reuben’s hand supplies!
515 But when the Lake shall these sweet Grounds adorn,
And bright expanding like the eye of Morn,
Reflect whate’er above its surface rise,
The Hills, the Rocks, the Woods, and varying Skies,
Then will the wild and beautiful combine,
520 And Taste and Beauty grace your whole Design.
But your great Artist, like the source of light,
Gilds every Scene with beauty and delight;
At Blenheim, Croome, and Caversham we trace editor’s note 16
Salvator’s Wildness, Claud’s enlivening grace, editor’s note 17
525 Cascades and Lakes as fine as Risdale drew, editor’s note 18
While Nature’s vary’d in each charming view.
To paint his works wou’d Pousin’s Powers require, editor’s note 19
Milton’s sublimity, and Dryden’s sire:
For both the Sister Arts in him combin’d,
530 Enrich the great ideas of his mind;
And these still brighten all his vast designs,
For here the Painter, there the Poet shines!
With just contempt he spurns all former rules,
And shows true Taste is not confin’d to schools.
535 He barren tracts with every charm illumes,
At his command a new Creation blooms;
Born to grace Nature, and her works complete,
With all that’s beautiful, sublime and great!
For him each Muse enwreathes the Laurel Crown,
540 And consecrates to Fame immortal Brown.

Author’s Notes

(1) It will appear from the following quotation, that the cultivation of fruits had made but little progress here in the last century; for in an Essay upon the gardens of Epicurus, written by Sir William Temple in the year 1685, he observed, it was to little purpose to plant peaches and grapes further north than Northamptonshire. And it was very prudent (said he) in a friend of mine, a gentleman in Staffordshire, who is a great lover of his garden, to pretend no higher, tho’ his soil be good enough, than to the perfection of plums, and in these, by bestowing South-Wales upon them, he has very well succeeded, which he could never have done in attempts upon peaches and grapes.

(2) No salads in England in 1509, carrots, turnips, and cabbages were imported from the Netherlands. Vide Anderson’s History of the Rise and Progress of Commerce.

(3) Nonsuch, near Epsom, was antiently called Cuddington, till King Henry the Eighth built a fine palace here, and gave it this name: King Charles the Second granted it to the Duchess of Cleveland, who after his death pulled it down, and sold the materials, out of which the Earl of Berkeley erected a house at Durdans, which has since past thro’ several hands. There remains now only a cottage at Nonsuch, of which the Duke of Cleveland is Baron.

(4) Pliny tells us, that in the garden belonging to his chief seat in Tuscany, his own name and his gardener’s were cut in box; and that his whole garden was filled with variety of figures, images and harbours, formed out of trees, which grew in it. At what time this fashion was introduced here is not known, but it continued till Mr. Pope ridiculed it in one of the Guardians. The motto of the Garter, and other devices cut in box, are still to be seen in New-college garden at Oxford; and a nobleman, at his seat near London, had some years ago the Coronation dinner in yew of King William and Queen Mary.

(5) The Lord Treasurer Burleigh erected a fine house and extensive gardens. King James the First, upon his progress from Scotland to take possession of the English throne, did Burleigh’s son, Sir Robert Cecil (afterwards Earl of Salifbury) the honour to take a bed here; and being charmed with the house and gardens, he gave Cecil Hatfield-Regis in exchange. From this place King Charles the First set out to erect his standard; which was the reason of its being afterwards defaced and plundered by the parliament’s army. King Charles the Second granted this Manor to George Monk, Duke of Albemarle, and his heirs male, but his son Christopher dying without issue, it reverted to the crown; and King William the Third granted it to his favourite Bentinck, Earl of Portland, in whose family it still continues.

(6) Among us (said Sir William Temple) the beauty of building and planting is placed chiefly in some certain proportions and symmetries or uniformities; our walks and our trees ranged so, as to answer one another, and at equal distances. The Chinese scorn this way of planting, and say, a boy that can tell a hundred, may plant walks of trees in strait lines, and over against one another; and to what length and extent he pleases; but their greatest reach of imagination is employed in contriving figures, where the beauty shall be great and strike the eye, but without any order or disposition of parts, that shall be commonly or easily observed: and tho’ we have no notion of this fort of beauty, yet they have a particular word to express it, and where they find it hit their eye at first sight, they say, the Sharawadgi is fine or admirable. Vide Temple’s Works, folio, Vol. I. Page 186.

Editor’s Notes

1.Sir William Temple (1628-99). Statesman and essayist, later patron of Jonathan Swift, author of Upon the Gardens of Epicurus, or of Gardening in the Year 1685 (1692).

2. Kensington Palace: London residence of George II and Queen Caroline, 1727-60. Caroline ordered new gardens to be laid out by Charles Bridgeman.

3. Kew: gardens already praised by Evelyn in 1678. George II and Queen Caroline laid out gardens around Richmond Lodge in the 1740s. In 1759 Augusta, widow of the Prince of Wales, ordered Lord Bute and William Aiton to create a botanic garden. Gardens remodelled by Brown in the 1770s. See also note on Sir William Chambers below.

4. Syon House, London: seat of the Percys, Dukes of Northumberland. House redesigned by Robert Adam and grounds laid out by Capabilty Brown in the 1750s and 1760s.

5. Castle Howard, Yorkshire: seat of the Howard family in Yorkshire, and among the greatest houses and gardens. Gardens laid out by Sir John Vanbrugh (1664-1726) in early 1700s and remodelled in 1750s by Capability Brown.

6. Greek: nymphs were spirits of nature, beautiful maidens living near water; dryads were nymphs of the woods. Common figures in Augustan and neo-classical pastoral verse.

7. Nestor: the oldest and wisest of the Greeks in the Trojan War.

8. Cobham: Sir Richard Temple, Viscount Cobham. See below.

9. Stowe Park, Buckinghamshire: owned by Sir Richard Temple, Viscount Cobham, this was one of the most important landscape gardens. A new house was commissioned from Sir John Vanbrugh and new gardens from Charles Bridgeman in the 1710s, work on the house being taken over by James Gibbs following Vanbrugh’s death in 1726. William Kent took over in the 1730s, and Capability Brown extended and adapted Kent’s ideas in the 1740s.

10. Studley Royal, Yorkshire. Inherited 1693 by John Aislabie (1670-1742) who laid out the gardens respecting the natural forms of the river valley 1721-1742 following his involvement in the South Sea Bubble and expulsion from Parliament. In 1767 Aislabie’s son William bought the neighbouring ruins of the Cistercian Fountains Abbey (founded 1132 and dissolved post 1539) and incorporated them into a park now owned by the National Trust.

11. Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire; seat of the Dukes of Bedford. House remodelled by Henry Flitcraft from 1747; gardens remodelled by Humphry Repton, 1802.

12. Windsor Castle: from the time of William the Conqueror, Windsor guarded the western approaches to London. The park was laid out under Charles II.

13. Tempe’s vale: a wooded valley in Thessaly, Greece, between the mountains of Olympus, the home of the Gods, and its neighbouring mount Ossa.

14. Chinese: Sir William Chambers (1723-96) visited Canton and China 1748-9. Having become drawing tutor to the future king George III, he designed various buildings at Kew from 1757 onwards, including a Chinese pagoda. His enthusiasm for the horror and sublimity of Chinese gardens was expressed in his A Dissertation on Oriental Gardening (1772) in terms which are close to those found in this poem.

15. Temple Newsam, near Leeds, Yorkshire; gardens laid out by Capability Brown.

16. Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire. Seat of Duke of Marlborough; the Royal Manor of Woodstock was granted to John Churchill for his victory over the forces of Louis XIV at Blenheim, 13th August 1704. Grounds remodelled by Capability Brown in the 1760s. Croome Park, Worcestershire; grounds laid out by Brown.

17. Salvator Rosa 1615-73, Italian landscape painter; Claude Lorrain (1600-82), French landscape painter whose work was often taken as a model by landscapers.

18. Jacob Ruisdael (1628?-82), Dutch landscape painter.

19. Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), French neo-classical landscape painter.

First published 1767

Robert Clark

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