« PreviousContinue »
nearly the same amcunt, which takes from us broad cloths to the amount of one million sterling, and cottons from Bombay to double that value-which enables, by its profits, the East India Company to pay their dividends, and brings annually into the Exchequer from three to four millions sterling-finally, which supplies an article, not merely of luxury, but now almost become one of the first necessity, and which no other part of the world can supply-the preservation of such a trade from capricious obstructious, and vexatious impositions and delays, is well worth the risk even of offending bis Imperial Majesty, who is generally contented with visiting his anger upon his own subjects. If an embassy produced no other effect, as one of the Directors justly observed, 6 one bundred thousand pounds would be well expended every ten or twelve years, to save our people from insult and our trade from interruption.'
Little mischief as we apprehend from the failure of the embassy, we are not quite at ease with regard to the affair of the Alceste engaging with the Chinese forts. The Chinese have at all times been jealous of our men of war entering the river, and we believe complaints on this score have been made by the Company's servants of the factory, who of course can exercise no control over officers of the navy : but the Alceste was placed under extraordinary circumstances; she had carried out an ambassador on a pacific mission; she was ordered to Canton to refit and prepare for the reception of that ambassador; her captain had a letter from the viceroy of Pe-tche-lee, ordering the authorities to supply her wants wherever she might touch. It would appear, therefore, that the Chinese admiral and the commanders of the forts, in wantonly firing at the Alceste, had exceeded their orders; and this may explain why no norice whatever had been taken of the affair at Canton, where Captain Maxwell had been four days, when the last letters came away; at which time neither the preparations for the reception of Lord Amherst, nor the loading of the Company's ships, had suffered the least interruption. We understand, indeed, that our long forbearance has had no other effect than that of encouraging the Chinese war-junks and forts to fire on our ships of commerce and their boats, on every frivolous pretext, which, though generally harmless, is a wauton and reprehensible aggression. This forbearance must have its bounds; it is not every man who can carry it to that pitch of endurance exercised by the late Admiral O'Brien Drury. On the meinorable expedition against Macao, this gallant officer found the river near Canton blocked up by armed junks, having thousands of Chinese on board. Apprehending' (he observes in a letter to bis friend) • that they might fire their little petards, I advanced in my barge to explain to their admiral my YOL. XVI, NO, XXXII.
peaceable intentions. When within about a hundred yards, they tired a shot which passed over the barge; I still advanced ; two or three more shot passed over us: I came within forty yards; but in endeavouring to make myself heard, through my Chinese interpreter, all their junks opened their fire on my boat, with stones and God knows what, until one of the marines was struck. The seamen, in the other boats, seeing me fired at so furiously, were no longer under control, but pulled close up, when I saw the necessity of giving them positive orders to keep back, well knowing that the total annihilation of their poor junks, and of the city of Canton, must have been the inevitable consequence, had I permitted a single musket to be fired, which was impatiently looked for by every one. I told the chief of the supercargoes,' continues the brave Admiral, that I never would consent to the slaughter of these defenceless multitudes; but that if their commerce required to be supported by hostilities, and that if a single seaman of mine was killed, I would level Canton to the ground.'
Whatever may be the issue of the untoward circumstances connected with the Embassy to China, by what particular point of exaction on the one side, and of resistance on the other, the failure may have been occasioned, in the absence of all information but that which his Chinese Majesty has been pleased to give, we can merely form conjectures : but, in the well known character of Lord Amherst, particularly distinguished as it is by a suavity of manners, an equal temper and a mild and conciliating disposition, joined to the able support of Sir George Staunton, who, with a perfect knowledge of the language and the people, possesses that calm and steady determination which is best suited to deal with this subtle nation, we have the best pledges that the honour and the interests of the nation will not be compromised, but remain safe in their hands. If the Nepaul business should be found, which however we think not likely, to have influenced the conduct of the Chinese, they are the veriest bunglers in politics that ever existed, since they might have obtained something by a conciliatory negociation; whereas, if their army should, unfortunately for it, come in contact with our Sepoys, their miserable soldiers with their paper helmets, wadded gowns, quilted petticoats, and stuffed boots, will be too happy to compound for their lives by a surrender at discretion.
Art. VII. Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape
Gardening, including some remarks on Grecian and Gothic Architecture, collected from various MSS. in the possession of the different Noblemen and Gentlemen for whose use they were originally designed. The whole tending to establish fixed prin
ciples in the respective Arts. By H. Repton, Esq. assisted by his Son, J. Adey Repton, F.A.S. Imperial 4to. pp. 238. 1816. THE subject of this volume is entirely English-and the very
name, the English Garden, suggests ideas of cheerfulness and comfort unknown in every other country. Indeed, the heartenlivening prospect, over the pleasure ground, the park, the woods, and the well tenanted farms surrounding the country residence of an English gentleman, gives a favourable impression of the spirit of freedom and independence of its possessor.
A garden,' says Lord Bacon, is the purest of human pleasures; it is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man, without which buildings and palaces are but gross handy works; and a man shall ever see, that when ages grow to civility and elegancy, men come to build stately, sooner than to garden finely, as if gardening were the greater perfection.'
Long after this great man wrote, an English garden was an inclosure, where all view of the surrounding country was excluded from without, and all traces of nature obliterated within. The only variety was a tedious repetition of the same objects ; straight walks and canals, square grass plats, and formal terraces, leaden statues and fountains, shell-work grottoes, embroidered parterres, mazes and wildernesses, and all the absurdities of topiary work, and trees disfigured and distorted into statues and pyramids, giants and dragons. Even Lord Bacon's own ideas on the subject of gardening were narrow and confined. He observes, it is true, that in the • Royal ordering of gardens, there should be gardens for every month in the year :' but in describing such an imaginary scene, he only provides for a continual succession of flowers and fruits, and for the avowedly artificial arrangement of objects within the inclosure. Could he have extended into the regions of taste, the 'prophetic glance' with which he viewed the future progress of science; could he have traced the art of English gardening to the period when Kent leaped the fence, and found that all nature was a garden,' to the practical application of general principles, under which the endless variety of nature's works is displayed in the volume before us; with what truly English feelings might he have anticipated the exclamation of Horace Walpole!
* We have given the true model of Gardening to the world ; let other countries mimic or corrupt our taste; but let it reign here on its verdant throne, original in its elegant simplicity, and proud of no other Art than that of softening Nature's harshnesses, and copying her graceful touch.'
Among the earliest specimens of gardening in England, we find in Leland's Itinerary, that at Wresehil Castelle the gardeins withyn D D 2
the mote, and the orchardes withoute, wer exceedingly fair. And yn the orchardes, wer mountes, opere topiario, writhen about with degrees like turninges of cokil shilles, to cum to the top withoute payn. Such a mount may still be seen in the ancient garden of the Castle-Ion at Marlborough; but instead of the steps (or degrees) the summit is to be attained, with patience and perseverance, by a winding walk.
The well known descriptions of the gardens at Nonsuch and Theobalds, shew the state of the art in the reigns of Henry the Eighth and Elizabeth ; after which, it seems to have made litule progress, till Charles the Second introduced the French style in the Canal, and rows of trees in St. James's Park, where, instead of Leland's imitation, we are surprized to find that the central walk in the Mall was actually covered with the cockle shells themselves, and the office of cockle strewer instituted. This was no sinecure, for his cockle shell walk was so well kept, that Waller calls it the polished walk; and it must indeed have been highly polished, to make bis story probable, that Charles the Second, in playing at his favourite game of Mall, was able to strike the ball more than half the length of the walk.
The Grand Monarque himself, (Louis XIV.) from whom these ideas were borrowed, frequently superintended his own improvements; and the master's eye must have, no doubt, contributed to the correctness of the work; for when one of the gardeners was reproved by the king for not having made the beds of a parterre esactly answer to each other, instead of immediately acknowledging his mistake, he pretended to measure the ground with the greatest care, and then gravely justified himself by saying, that the king's eye was truer than his line.
Not being satisfied with our own clumsy iinitations of the grand French style, we called in Le Notre himself, who, with the assistance of levellers, carpenters and masons, proceeded to build gardens, raise mounds and extend straight avenues and vistas to the very extremity of the park, and often miles beyond it. Nature had no chance with artists like these; and we should perhaps long have continued “to walk up and down stairs in the open air,' upon terraces that might have rivalled those of Marli and Versailles, had not a circumstance occurred that lessened our expense, if it did not improve our taste ; this was no less than the accession of William to the throne of these realms.
He was not likely to encourage the costly absurdities of his rival, and the mason and carpenter were dismissed to make room for Dutch gardeners, whose skill was displayed in regular grass slopes, embroidered parterres, and all the various fornis of vegetable sculpture. In this taste, Sir George Napier's house, at More
Critchet, was guarded by two troopers on horseback in yew; and in a survey of the principal gardens near London, 1691, we find a myrtle cut in the shape of a chair, that was at least six feet high from the case, and, although not quite perfect, the lower part being thin of leaves, yet it might have formed an appropriate seat for the prin Old Maid of Honour in Wormwood, in the list of vegetable worthies in Pope's admirable satire, which gave the coup-degrâce to these puerile conceits.
The arts were now at their lowest ebb; and with Batty and Langley for our Gothic architects, and London and Wise for our landscape gardeners, we appear to bave reached the ne plus ultra of absurdity.
Before we enter upon the history of moderu gardening in England, it may not be uninteresting to take a rapid view of the gardens of other countries.
In Italy, the art of gardening was revived by the Medici family, and the most celebrated gardens were those of Lorenzo de' Medici, and of the wealthy Bernard Rucellai in the beginning of the sixteenth century. The latter served as a model for the famous Boboli Garden at Florence, and those of the Vatican, and of the Medici, Borghese, Aldobrandini, and other palaces in Rome. In all these, however, gardening appears to have been made subservient to architecture, and the garden was only an appendage to the palace. The principal ornaments were statues injudiciously crowded together, and innumerable fountains and jets d'eau, sometimes magnificent, but generally on too small a scale, and too insigniticant in their forms. The general arrangement was that of the formal style of French and Dutch gardens, from which however they were distinguished by natural advantages of climate and situation; by serene skies, and a profusion of fragrant flowers and luscious fruits; the myrtle, the almond blossoms, and the aloe, the orange and the palm, the citron, the olive, and the vine. We almost envy them the enchanting scenery of the Isola Bella rising from the bosom of the Lago Maggiore, with its terraces resembling the hanging gardens of Babylon, and its prospects over the limpid lake, surrounded by vineyards and richly cultivated valleys, and terminated by the dark forests and icy summits of the distant Alps.
In France, Le Notre, as we have said, banished nature, and displayed his artificial scenery at an expense so enormous, that gardening was necessarily confined to ilie royal palaces, and those of the principal nobility. Le Notre formed the national style, for it was hardly to be expected that a subject of Louis the Fourteenth would attempt to introduce a taste for natural scenery in opposition to that of the court; and the usual avidity for French fashions soon created specimens of this style of gardening in Italy, D D 3