WILLIAM FLEETWOOD, successively Bishop of St. Asaph and Ely, and who died in 1723, was author of "Curiosities of Nature and Art in Husbandry and Gardening," 8vo. 1707. His portrait is prefixed to his "Sermons on the Relative Duties," 8vo. 1716; and also to his "Essay on the Miracles." His works were published in a collected form in 1 vol. folio, 1737. He was incontestibly the best preacher in his time. Dr. Doddridge calls him "silver tongued." Pope's line of
The gracious dew of pulpit eloquence,
might, no doubt, have been justly applied to him. Dr. Drake, in the third volume of his Essays, to illustrate the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian, has some interesting pages respecting him. His benevolent heart and exemplary life, added great effect to his persuasive eloquence in the pulpit. "His sermons (says Lempriere), and divinity tracts, were widely circulated; but the firmness of his opinions drew upon him the censure of the House of Commons. His preface to his sermons on the deaths of Mary, the Duke of Gloucester, and of William, and on the accession of Anne, gave such offence to the ministry, that the book was publicly burnt in 1712; but it was more universally read, and even appeared in the Spectator, No. 384." As to this burning, Dr. Johnson remarked, that fire is a conclusive, but not a convincing argument; it will certainly destroy any book, but it refutes none. In an Obituary, preserved in Peck's Desid. Curiosa, it thus mentions the death of a Jeffery Fleetwood, "leaving a wife and six little children behind him. God bless them. One of these little children was the famous William Fleetwood, Bishop of Ely."
JOSEPH ADDISON, Esq. There is an original portrait of this eminent man, at Holland House. Another at Oxford. Noble's continuation of Granger enumerates several engravings of him, from Kneller's portraits. Dayl, the painter, also drew him. His portrait appears in the Kit Cat Club. In Ireland's "Picturesque Views on the River Avon," he gives an interesting description of Mr. Addison's house at Bilton, near Rugby, two miles from Dunchurch; with a view of the same. The house "remains precisely in the state it was at the decease of its former possessor, nor has the interior suffered much change in its former decoration. The furniture and pictures hold their places with an apparent sacred attention to his memory. Among the latter, are three of himself, at different periods of his life; in each of which is strongly marked with the pencil, the ease of the gentleman, and the open and ingenuous character of the friend to humanity." From Dr. Drake's Biographical Sketch of Addison, it appears, that these portraits were still remaining in his house in 1797. A copy of the above view is given in the Monthly Magazine for February, 1822, and it there says, that "the spacious gardens retain the fashion of the age of the Spectator." The origin of the modern style of landscape gardening, or the first writers on that subject, were unquestionably Mr. Addison, in Nos. 414 and 477 of the Spectator, and Mr. Pope in his celebrated Guardian. The first artists who practised in this style, were Bridgman and Kent. Mr. Addison's pure taste on these subjects is visible even where he prefers Fontainebleau to the magnificent Versailles, in his paper in the Guardian, No. 101:—"It is situated among rocks and woods, that give you a fine variety of savage prospects. The king has humoured the genius of the place, and only made use of so much art as is necessary to help and regulate nature, without reforming her too much. The cascades seem to break through the clefts and cracks of rocks that are covered over with moss, and look as if they were piled upon one another by accident. There is an artificial wildness in the meadows, walks, and canals; and the garden, instead of a wall, is fenced on the lower end by a natural mound of rock-work that strikes the eye very agreeably. For my part, I think there is something more charming in these rude heaps of stone than in so many statues, and would as soon see a river winding through woods and meadows, as when it is tossed up in so many whimsical figures at Versailles." In No. 414 of his Spectator, he says, "English gardens are not so entertaining to the fancy as those in France, and Italy, where we see a large extent of ground covered over with an agreeable mixture of garden, and forest, which represent every where an artificial rudeness, much more charming than that neatness and elegancy which we meet with in those of our own country." Mr. Murphy thus compares Addison with Johnson:—"Addison lends grace and ornament to truth; Johnson gives it force and energy. Addison makes virtue amiable; Johnson represents it as an awful duty." Addison has been called the English Fenelon. Johnson calls him the Raphael of essay writers. The imposing and commanding attitude of the statue erected a few years since in the Poets' Corner, seems to have arisen, and to have been devoted to his memory, from his Reflections on the Tombs in the Abbey. Those reflections I here subjoin; and I am sure my reader will agree with me, that I could not offer a purer honour to his genius and memory:—"No.26, Friday, March 30.
Pallida mors aequo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas Regumque turres, O beate sexti. Vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat inchoare longam, Jam te premet nox, fabulaeque manes, Et domus exilis Plutonia.—HOR.
With equal foot, rich friend, impartial fate Knocks at the cottage, and the palace gate: Life's span forbids thee to extend thy cares, And stretch thy hopes beyond thy tender years: Night soon will seize, and you must quickly go To storied ghosts, and Pluto's house below.—CREECH.
"When I am in a serious humour, I very often walk by myself in Westminster Abbey; where the gloominess of the place, and the use to which it is applied, with the solemnity of the building, and the condition of the people who lie in it, are apt to fill the mind with a kind of melancholy, or rather thoughtfulness, that is not disagreeable. I yesterday passed a whole afternoon in the church-yard, the cloisters, and the church, amusing myself with the tomb-stones and inscriptions that I met with in those several regions of the dead. Most of them recorded nothing else of the buried person, but that he was born upon one day and died upon another: the whole history of his life being comprehended in those two circumstances, that are common to all mankind. I could not but look upon these registers of existence, whether of brass or marble, as a kind of satire upon the departed persons; who had left no other memorial of them, but that they were born and that they died. They put me in mind of several persons mentioned in the battles of heroic poems, who have sounding names given them, for no other reason but that they may be killed, and are celebrated for nothing but being knocked on the head.
Glaucumque, Medontaque, Thersilochumque.—VIRG.
"The life of these men is finely described in holy writ by the path of an arrow, which is immediately closed up and lost. Upon my going into the church, I entertained myself with the digging of a grave; and saw in every shovel-full of it that was thrown up, the fragment of a bone or skull intermixed with a kind of fresh mouldering earth that some time or other had a place in the composition of an human body. Upon this I began to consider with myself what innumerable multitudes of people lay confused together under the pavement of that ancient cathedral; how men and women, friends and enemies, priests and soldiers, monks and prebendaries, were crumbled amongst one another, and blended together in the same common mass; how beauty, strength, and youth, with old age, weakness, and deformity, lay undistinguished in the same promiscuous heap of matter. After having thus surveyed this great magazine of mortality, as it were in the lump; I examined it more particularly by the accounts which I found on several of the monuments which are raised in every quarter of that ancient fabrick. Some of them were covered with such extravagant epitaphs, that if it were possible for the dead person to be acquainted with them, he would blush at the praises which his friends have bestowed upon him. There are others so excessively modest, that they deliver the character of the person departed in Greek or Hebrew, and by that means are not understood once in a twelvemonth. In the poetical quarter, I found there were poets who had no monuments, and monuments which had no poets. I observed indeed that the present war had filled the church with many of these uninhabited monuments, which had been erected to the memory of persons whose bodies were buried in the plains of Blenheim, or in the bosom of the ocean. I could not but be very much delighted with several modern epitaphs, which are written with great elegance of expression and justness of thought, and therefore do honour to the living as well as to the dead. As a foreigner is very apt to conceive an idea of the ignorance or politeness of a nation from the turn of their public monuments and inscriptions, they should be submitted to the perusal of men of learning and genius before they are put in execution. SirCloudesly Shovel's monument has very often given me great offence: instead of the brave rough English admiral, which was the distinguishing character of that plain gallant man, he is represented on his tomb by the figure of a beau, dressed in a long periwig, and reposing himself upon velvet cushions under a canopy of state. The inscription is answerable to the monument; for, instead of celebrating the many remarkable actions he had performed in the service of his country, it acquaints us only with the manner of his death, in which it was impossible for him to reap any honour. The Dutch, whom we are apt to despise for want of genius, shew an infinitely greater taste of antiquity and politeness in their buildings and works of this nature, than what we meet with in those of our own country. The monuments of their admirals, which have been erected at the public expense, represent them like themselves; and are adorned with rostral crowns and naval ornaments, with beautiful festoons of sea-weed, shells, and coral. But to return to our subject. I have left the repository of our English kings for the contemplation of another day, when I shall find my mind disposed for so serious an amusement. I know that entertainments of this nature are apt to raise dark and dismal thoughts in timorous minds, and gloomy imaginations; but, for my own part, though I am always serious, I do not know what it is to be melancholy; and can therefore take a view of nature in her deep and solemn scenes, with the same pleasure as in her most gay and delightful ones. By this means I can improve myself with those objects which others consider with terror. When I look upon the tombs of the great, every emotion of envy dies in me; when I read the epitaphs of the beautiful, every inordinate desire goes out; when I meet with the grief of parents upon a tomb-stone, my heart melts with compassion; when I see the tomb of the parents themselves, I consider the vanity of grieving for those whom we must quickly follow: When I see kings lying by those who deposed them, when I consider rival wits placed side by side, or the holy men that divided the world with their contests and disputes, I reflect with sorrow and astonishment on the little competitions, factions, and debates of mankind. When I read the several dates of the tombs, of some that died yesterday, and some six hundred years ago, I consider that great day when we shall all of us be contemporaries, and make our appearance together."
REV. JOHN LAWRENCE published "The Clergyman's Recreation, shewing the Pleasure and Profit of the Art of Gardening;" 8vo. 1714. Also a poem, called "Paradise Regained, or the Art of Gardening;" 8vo. 1728. The sixth edition of "The Clergyman's Recreation" has "the effigies of the author, engraved by Vertue." I have seen eight copies of this sixth edition, and in neither of them has this portrait been. No doubt the collecting to form Granger's, has deprived each copy of its portrait. This is an expressive portrait, ornamented with a vine wreath, and with a rich cornucopia or clusters of ripe fruit. The original picture from which Vertue's print was taken, was at Pallion, near Durham, the seat of his grandson, John Goodchild, Esq. In Rodd's catalogue of engraved portraits, printed a few years ago, was "John Lawrence, prebend of Salisbury, original drawing by Vertue, price 5s." Mr. Lawrence published also, in folio, in 1726, his System of Agriculture and Gardening. Mr. Nichols, in vol. iv. of his Literary Anecdotes, has given a list of all his works, has preserved a few particulars respecting him, and pays a just tribute to him. A list of his works may also be seen in Watts's Bibl. Brit., and in Mr. Johnson's work. The Encycl. of Gardening informs us that he was "of a hospitable and benevolent disposition, taking great pleasure in presenting a rich dessert of fruit to his friends." He was presented to the rectory of Yelvertoft, Northamptonshire, in 1703, "by the extraordinary uncommon bounty of a generous patron." In 1721, he was presented to that of Bishop's Wearmouth, Durham, where he died in 1732. He was also a prebend of Salisbury.
Mr. Lawrence thus enforces the pleasures of a garden, to his own order:—"to make them happy by loving an innocent diversion, the amusements of a garden being not only most delightful to those that love them, but most wholesome to those that use them. A good man knows how to recapitulate all his pleasures in a devout lifting up of his hands, his eyes and his heart, to the great and bountiful author of nature, who gives beauty, relish, and success to all our honest labours." His pen likewise paints with "soft and tempting colours," the extreme beauty of our fruit-trees, when clothed with their different coloured blossoms, (what Lord Byron calls the sweet and blooming fruits of earth):—"What a pleasing entertainment is it to the eye, to behold the apricot in its full blossom, white as snow, and at the same time the peach with its crimson-coloured blooms; both beginning to be interspersed with green leaves! These are succeeded by the pear, the cherry, and the plum, whose blossoms and leaves make a very beautiful mixture in the spring; and it cannot be a less pleasant sight to see clusters of swelling fruit all the summer, as the earnest of the full gratification of another sense in autumn. And now we have come hither, what painter can draw a landskip more charming and beautiful to the eye, than an old Newington peach-tree laden with fruit in August, when the sun has first begun to paint one side of the fruit with such soft and tempting colours? The apricot, the pear, the cherry and plum, when they appear in plenty as they ought, present themselves to the eye at the time of ripening in very inviting blushes. In short, all the several sorts of fruit trees have such pleasing varieties, that were there no other sense to be gratified but the sight, they may vie with a parterre even of the finest flowers." He thus mentions the month of July:—"How beautiful and refreshing are the mornings and evenings of such days, when the very air is perfumed with pleasant odours, and every thing that presents itself to the eye gives fresh occasion to the devout admirer to praise and adore the Great Creator, who hath given such wisdom and power to man to diversify nature in such various instances, and (for his own use, pleasure, and profit,) to assist her in all her operations." This worthy clergyman might have applied to the delights of a garden, the sacred words of scripture:—"her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."
ALEXANDER POPE. Numerous are the engraved portraits of this graceful and harmonious poet. Noble's continuation of Granger, gives all, or the greater part of the engravings from his portraits, from which it will be seen, that he was drawn by Kneller, by Richardson, by many others, and particularly by his friend Jervas. As a portrait painter, Mr. Jervas was far from eminent. Pope's attachment to him, however, has enshrined his name in glowing lines to future generations. The portraits of Pope which Jervas drew, were done con amore. Mr. Jennings, of Cheapside, has prefixed to his elegant folio edition of the "Essay on Man," a whole-length of Mr. Pope, from after Jervas. In Dodsley's Collection of Poems, vol. iii. is a very striking bust of Mr. Pope, as an accompaniment to Mr. Dodsley's affecting poem to his memory, which he entitles The Cave of Pope. Surely this bust must have strongly resembled Pope, or Mr. Dodsley would not have inserted it. The profile to Ruffhead's Life, in 4to. 1769, must have been a likeness, or Bishop Warburton would not have permitted its insertion. His age was then twenty-four. It is finely engraved by Ravenet, from Kneller. It is a striking portrait. A copy of this is admirably engraved in Bell's Poets, richly ornamented. A copy from that by Richardson is prefixed to Warton's edition. Among the portraits at Hagley, is that of Pope, and his dog Bounce, by Richardson. Lord Chesterfield thus speaks of Pope:—"His poor, crazy, deformed body, was a mere Pandora's box, containing all the physical ills that ever afflicted humanity. This, perhaps, whetted the edge of his satire, and may, in some degree, excuse it. I will say nothing of his works; they speak sufficiently for themselves; they will live as long as taste and letters shall remain in this country, and be more and more admired, as envy and resentment shall subside. But I will venture this piece of classical blasphemy: which is, that however he may be supposed to be obliged to Horace, Horace is more obliged to him." Mr. Ruffhead (generally supposed to have had his information from Dr. Warburton) thus states:—"Mr. Pope was low in stature, and of a diminutive and misshapen figure, which no one ridiculed more pleasantly than himself. His constitution was naturally tender and delicate, and in his temper he was naturally mild and gentle, yet sometimes betrayed that exquisite sensibility which is the concomitant of genius. His lively perception and delicate feeling, irritated by wretched ill health, made him too quickly take fire, but his good sense and humanity soon rendered him placable. With regard to the extent of his genius, it was so wide and various, that perhaps it may not be too much to say, that he excelled in every species of composition; and, beside his excellence as a poet, he was both an antiquarian and an architect, and neither in an inferior degree. No man ever entertained more exalted notions of friendship, or was ever more sincere, steady, warm, and disinterested, in all his attachments. Every inch of his heart was let out in lodgings for his friends." Lord Orrery thus speaks of him:—"His prose writings are little less harmonious than his verse; and his voice, in common conversation, was so naturally musical, that I remember honest Tom Southern used to call him the Little Nightingale; his manners were delicate, easy, and engaging; he treated his friends with a politeness that charmed, and a generosity that was much to his honour. Every guest was made happy within his doors; pleasure dwelt under his roof, and elegance presided at his table." One may trace Mr. Pope's hospitality throughout his letters. I will merely select one or two instances. In a letter to Swift, he says, "My house is too large; my gardens furnish too much wood and provision for my use. My servants are sensible and tender of me. They have intermarried, and are become rather low friends than servants. Would to God you would come over with Lord Orrery, whose care of you in the voyage I could so certainly depend on; and bring with you your old housekeeper, and two or three servants. I have room for all, a heart for all, and (think what you will) a fortune for all." In another letter to Swift, he says, "I wish you had any motive to see this kingdom. I could keep you; for I am rich, that is, I have more than I want. I can afford room for yourself and two servants. I have, indeed, room enough, nothing but myself at home: the kind and hearty housewife is dead! the agreeable and instructive neighbour is gone! yet my house is enlarged, and the gardens extend and flourish, as knowing nothing of the guests they have lost. I have more fruit trees and kitchen garden than you have any thought of; nay, I have good melons and pineapples of my own growth." In a letter to Mr. Allen, he says, "Let me know your day for coming, and I will have every room in my house as warm for you as the owner always would be." Mr. Mathias, in his Pursuits of Literature, (besides expatiating with fond delight, in numerous pages, on the genius of Pope,) thus speaks of him:—"Familiar with the great, intimate with the polite, graced by the attentions of the fair, admired by the learned, a favourite with the nation, independent in an acquired opulence, the honourable product of his genius, and of his industry; the companion of persons distinguished for their virtue, birth, high fashion, rank, or wit, and resident in the centre of all public information and intelligence; every avenue to knowledge, and every mode of observation were open to his curious, prying, piercing, and unwearied intellect."
One may with truth further apply to Mr. Pope what was said of Buchanan, that his mind was stored with all the fire, and all the graces of ancient literature. Mr. Pope's attachment to gardens, appears not only in his letter to Martha Blount, describing Sir W. Raleigh's seat—but in his own garden at Twickenham, (where, as Mr. Loudon feelingly observes, only the soil of which now remains)—and in his letter to Mr. Blount, describing his grotto—but it also bursts forth in many passages throughout his works—and in his celebrated Guardian (No. 173), which attacks, with the keenest wit, "our study to recede from nature," in our giants made out of yews, and lavender pigs with sage growing in their bellies. His epistle to Lord Burlington confirms the charms he felt in studying nature. Mr. Mason, in a note to his English Garden, says, "I had before called Bacon the prophet, and Milton, the herald of true taste in gardening. The former, because, in developing the constituent properties of a princely garden, he had largely expatiated upon that adorned natural wildness which we now deem the essence of the art. The latter, on account of his having made this natural wildness the leading idea in his exquisite description of Paradise. I here call Addison, Pope, Kent, &c. the champions of this true taste." As Mr. Mason has added an &c., may we not add to these respected names, that of honest old Bridgman? It was the determination of Lord Byron (had his life been longer spared), to have erected, at his own expence, a monument to Pope. We can gather even from his rapid and hurried "Letter on the Rev. W. L. Bowles's Strictures," his attachment to the high name of Pope:—"If Lucretius had not been spoiled by the Epicurean system, we should have had a far superior poem to any now in existence. As mere poetry, it is the first of Latin poems. What then has ruined it? His ethics. Pope has not this defect; his moral is as pure as his poetry is glorious."—"Pope's charities were his own, and they were noble and extensive, far beyond his fortune's warrant."—"I have loved and honoured the fame and name of that illustrious and unrivalled man, far more than my own paltry renown, and the trashy jingle of the crowd of schools and upstarts, who pretend to rival, or even surpass him. Sooner than a single leaf should be torn from his laurel, it were better that all which these men, and that I, as one of their set, have ever written, should
Line trunks, clothe spice, or, fluttering in a row, Befringe the rails of Bedlam, or Soho."
"The most perfect of our poets, and the purest of our moralists."—"He is the moral poet of all civilization; and, as such, let us hope that he will one day be the national poet of mankind. He is the only poet that never shocks; the only poet whose faultlessness has been made his reproach. Cast your eye over his productions; consider their extent, and contemplate their variety:—pastoral, passion, mock-heroic, translation, satire, ethics,—all excellent, and often perfect. If his great charm be his melody, how comes it that foreigners adore him even in their diluted translations?"
Mr. Mason has also farther recorded the resplendent fame of this celebrated man; for in his Musaeus, a monody to the memory of Pope, he invokes the shades of Chaucer, Spencer, and Milton, to do homage to his departing spirit:—
——to cheer thee at this rueful time While black death doth on thy heart-strings prey. So may we greet thee with a nobler strain, When soon we meet for aye in yon star-sprinkled plain.
Milton thus begins his homage:—
Thrice hail, thou heaven-taught warbler, last and best Of all the train! Poet, in whom conjoin'd All that to ear, or heart, or head, could yield Rapture; harmonious, manly, clear, sublime! Accept this gratulation: may it cheer Thy sinking soul; or these corporeal ills Ought daunt thee, nor appal. Know, in high heav'n Fame blooms eternal on that spirit divine, Who builds immortal verse."
Sir E. Brydges, in his "Letters on the Genius of Lord Byron," thus characterizes the grace and sweetness of his pathetic powers, in his Eloisa:—"When either his passions or imaginations were roused, they were deep, strong, and splendid. Notwithstanding Eloisa was an historical subject, his invention of circumstances of detail, his imagery, the changes and turns of passion, the brilliancy of hues thrown upon the whole, the eloquence, the tenderness, the fire, the inimitable grace and felicity of language, were all the fruits of creative genius. This poem stands alone in its kind; never anticipated, and never likely to be approached hereafter."
Young uttered this sublime apostrophe when the death of Pope was first announced to him:—
Thou, who couldst make immortals, art thou dead?
Of his Essay on Man, the Nouveau Dict. Hist. Portatif thus speaks:—"Une metaphysique lumineuse, ornee des charmes de la poesie, une morale touchante, dont les lecons penetrent le coeur et convainquent l'esprit, des peintures vives, ou l'homme apprend a se connoitre, pour apprendre a deviner meilleur; tels sont les principaux caracteres qui distinguent le poeme Anglois. Son imagination est egalement sage et feconde, elle prodigue les pensees neunes, et donne le piquant de la nouveante, aux pensees anciennes; il embelloit les matieres les plus seches, par la coloris d'une elocution noble, facile, energeque, variee avec un art infini."
In the gardens of Stowe is the following inscription to
ALEXANDER POPE, Who, uniting the correctness of judgment To the fire of genius, By the melody and power of his numbers, Gave sweetness to sense, and grace to philosophy. He employed the pointed brilliancy of his wit To chastise the vices, And the eloquence of poetry To exalt the virtues of human nature; And, being without a rival in his own age, Imitated and translated with a spirit equal to the originals, The best Poets of antiquity.
WILLIAM KENT, whose portrait appears in Mr. Dallaway's rich edition of the Anecdotes of Painting. Kent, with Bridgman, Pope, and Addison, have been termed the fathers of landscape gardening. Mr. Walpole, after reviewing the old formal style of our gardens, in language which it is painful to me thus only to advert to, instead of copying at length, (for I am fully "aware of the mischiefs which generally ensue in meddling with the productions of genius"); and after stating that when nature was taken into the plan, every step pointed out new beauties, and inspired new ideas: "at that moment appeared Kent, painter enough to taste the charms of landscape, bold and opiniative enough to dare and to dictate, and born with a genius to strike out a great system from the twilight of imperfect essays. He leaped the fence, and saw that all nature was a garden. Thus the pencil of his imagination bestowed all the arts of landscape on the scenes he handled. But of all the beauties he added to the face of this beautiful country, none surpassed his management of water. Thus, dealing in none but the colours of nature, and catching its most favourable features, men saw a new creation opening before their eyes." And again he calls him "the inventor of an art that realizes painting, and improves nature: Mahomet imagined an elysium, but Kent created many." The greatest of all authorities tells us, that in Esher's peaceful grove, both
Kent and Nature vied for Pelham's love.
Mr. Mason, in his English Garden, thus panegyrises his elysian scenes:—
—— Kent, who felt The pencil's power; but fix'd by higher hopes Of beauty than that pencil knew to paint, Work'd with the living lives that nature lent, And realized his landscapes.
Mr. Pope, as well as Kent, would, and Mr. Walpole, and Mr. Mason, must each of them have read with high approbation the following remark of the late Sir Uvedale Price:—"the noble and varied works of the eminent painters of every age and every country, and those of their supreme mistress, Nature, should be the great models of imitation."
Mr. Whateley paints in glowing language, the genius of Kent, both at Stowe, and at Claremont. Mr. George Mason thus honestly and finely pleads for him:—"According to my own ideas, all that has since been done by the most deservedly admired designers, as Southcote, Hamilton, Lyttleton, Pitt, Shenstone, Morris, for themselves, and by Wright for others, all that has been written on the subject, even the gardening didactic poem, and the didactic essay on the picturesque, have proceeded from Kent. Had Kent never exterminated the bounds of regularity, never actually traversed the way to freedom of manner, would any of these celebrated artists have found it of themselves? Theoretic hints from the highest authorities, had evidently long existed without sufficient effect. And had not these great masters actually executed what Kent's example first inspired, them with, the design of executing, would the subsequent writers on gardening have been enabled to collect materials for precepts, or stores for their imaginations? Mr. Price acknowledges himself an admirer of the water-scene at Blenheim. Would it ever have appeared in its present shape, if no Kent had previously abolished the stiffness of canals! If this original artist had barely rescued the liquid element from the constraint of right lines and angles, that service alone would have given him an indubitable claim to the respect of posterity." The Rev. Mr. Coventry, in his admirable exposure of the grotesque absurdities in gardening, (being No. 15 of the World) thus speaks of Kent:—"The great Kent at length appeared in behalf of nature, declared war against the taste in fashion, and laid the axe to the root of artificial evergreens. Gardens were no longer filled with yews in the shape of giants, Noah's ark cut in holly, St. George and the Dragon in box, cypress lovers, laurustine bears, and all that race of root-born monsters which flourished so long, and looked so tremendous round the edges of every grass-plat. The great master above mentioned, truly the disciple of nature, imitated her in the agreeable wildness and beautiful irregularity of her plans, of which there are some noble examples still remaining, that abundantly show the power of his creative genius." Mr. Dallaway, when treating on architecture, in his Anecdotes of the Arts, says, "Kent designed the noble hall at Holkham, terminated by a vast staircase, producing, in the whole, an imposing effect of grandeur not to be equalled in England." Kent died in 1748. He was a contemporary therefore of Horace Walpole. He was buried in the vault at Chiswick, belonging to his friend and patron, Lord Burlington.
BRIDGMAN'S portrait was a private plate. It exhibited a kind-hearted, hale old countenance. As he has the honour of being classed with Mr. Addison, and with Pope, and Kent, as one of the champions who established the picturesque scenery of landscape gardening, (which Bacon, and Spencer, and Milton, as hath been observed, foresaw) his portrait must surely be interesting. The engraved portrait which I saw of him more than fifty years ago, made then a strong impression on me. I think it was an etching. It marked a venerable healthy man. I neither recollect its painter nor engraver; and it is so scarce, that neither Mr. Smith, of Lisle Street, nor Mr. Evans, of Great Queen Street, the intelligent collectors and illustrators of Granger, have been able to obtain it. Perhaps it will be discovered that it was a private plate, done at the expence of his generous and noble employer, Lord Cobham. Of this once able and esteemed man, I can procure little information. The Encycl. of Gardening says, "Lord Cobham seems to have been occupied in re-modelling the grounds at Stowe, about the same time that Pope was laying out his gardens at Twickenham. His lordship began these improvements in 1714, employing Bridgman, whose plans and views for altering old Stowe from the most rigid character of the ancient style to a more open and irregular design, are still in existence. Kent was employed a few years afterwards, first to paint the hall, and afterwards in the double capacity of architect and landscape-gardener; and the finest scenes there are his creation." The finest views of Stowe gardens were drawn by Rigaud, and published by Sarah Bridgman, in 1739. The fine and magnificent amphitheatre at the Duke of Newcastle's, at Claremont, was designed, I believe, by Bridgman. When Queen Caroline added nearly three hundred acres from Hyde Park to the gardens at Kensington, they were laid out by him. He also laid out the gardens at Shardeloes, near Amersham. Mr. Walpole thus mentions Bridgman, after alluding to the shears having been applied to the lovely wildness of nature: "Improvements had gone on, till London and Wise had stocked our gardens with giants, animals, monsters, coats of arms, and mottos, in yew, box and holly. Absurdity could go no farther, and the tide turned. Bridgman, the next fashionable designer of gardens, was far more chaste; and whether from good sense, or that the nation had been struck and reformed by the admirable paper in the Guardian, No. 173, he banished verdant sculpture, and did not even revert to the square precision of the foregoing age. He enlarged his plans, disdained to make every division tally to its opposite; and though he still adhered much to straight walks with high clipped hedges, they were only his great lines, the rest he diversified by wilderness and with loose groves of oak, though still within surrounding hedges. I have observed in the garden at Gubbins, in Hertfordshire, many detached thoughts, that strongly indicate the dawn of modern taste. As his reformation gained footing, he ventured farther, and in the royal garden at Richmond, dared to introduce cultivated fields, and even morsels of a forest appearance, by the sides of those endless and tiresome walks that stretched out of one into another without intermission. But this was not till other innovators had broke loose too from rigid symmetry. But the capital stroke, the leading step to all that has followed, was (I believe the first thought was Bridgman's) the destruction of walls for boundaries, and the invention of fosses,—an attempt then deemed so astonishing, that the common people called them ha! ha's! to express their surprise at finding a sudden and unperceived check to their walk. One of the first gardens planted in this simple though still formal style, was my father's at Houghton. It was laid out by Mr. Eyre, an imitator of Bridgman."
PHILIP MILLER died at the age of eighty, and was emphatically styled by foreigners hortulanorum princeps. Switzer bears testimony to his "usual generosity, openness and freedom." Professor Martyn says, "he accumulated no wealth from his respectable connection with the great, or from the numerous editions of his works. He was of a disposition too generous, and too careless of money, to become rich, and in all his transactions observed more attention to integrity and honest fame, than to any pecuniary advantages." There is a finely engraved portrait of Mr. Miller, by Maillet, prefixed to the "Dictionnaire des Jardiniers, de Philipe Miller, traduit de l'Anglois," en 8 tom. 4to. Paris, 1785.
Dr. Pulteney says of him, "He raised himself by his merit from a state of obscurity to a degree of eminence, but rarely, if ever before, equalled in the character of a gardener." Mr. Loudon (in that "varied and voluminous mass of knowledge," his Encyclopaedia), thus remarks:—"Miller, during his long career, had no considerable competitor, until he approached the end of it, when several writers took the advantage of his unwearied labours of near half a century, and fixed themselves upon him, as various marine insects do upon a decaying shell-fish. I except Hitt and Justice, who are both originals, as is also Hill, after his fashion, but his gardening is not much founded in experience." The sister of Mr. Miller married Ehret, whose fine taste and botanical accuracy, and whose splendid drawings of plants, are the finest ornaments of a botanical library.
Mr. Miller fixed his residence adjoining that part of Chelsea church-yard where he lies interred. He died December 18, 1771. Mr. Johnson gives a list of his writings, and of the different editions of his celebrated Dictionary, which he terms "this great record of our art." He farther does full justice to him, by associating his name, at p. 147 and p. 151, with that of "the immortal Swede, whose master mind reduced the confusion and discord of botany to harmony." He calls Miller "the perfect botanist and horticulturist." The following spirited tribute to Mr. Miller, appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine for June, 1828:—
"Chelsea, June 5.
"MR. URBAN,—In the first volume, page 250, of the second edition of Faulkner's History of Chelsea, just published, which contains a very copious fund of historical, antiquarian, and biographical information, I find inserted the monument and epitaph of Philip Miller, who was so justly styled 'the prince of horticulture' by contemporary botanists, and whose well-earned fame will last as long as the sciences of botany and horticulture shall endure. The epitaph of this distinguished man is correctly given; but the historian appears not to have duly appreciated, if he was even aware of, the circumstances which induced the Fellows of the Linnaean and Horticultural Societies of London to erect this grateful tribute of respectful esteem to him, who in his life-time, had done more than any individual, ancient or modern, towards enlarging the boundaries of the science of horticulture, and very extensively the far more difficult one of botany likewise. These he accomplished in the numerous editions of his unrivalled Dictionary, and in his elaborate introductions to botanical knowledge.
"The reasons which induced the above-mentioned societies to erect the monument in question, were, chiefly, because neither monument, nor tomb, nor even any recording public notice whatever (the 'monumentum aere perennius' of his own immortal works excepted) had previously been provided by any one.
"The relatives of Miller were very few; he had no family, save two sons, one of whom died early, and the other, Charles Miller, at the age of 78, who spent the greater part of his long life in India, and returned not until after his father's funeral; and over his grave, in the old church-yard of Chelsea, a stone and sculptured brass record his name and age and parentage, together with that of his aged and more distinguished sire. This stone, too, was placed by the above-mentioned public-spirited societies, (unto both which the writer has the honour to belong) at the same time as the monument, stated by Faulkner, to the never-dying fame of the father.
"But it is even now scarcely known, that when those meritorious testimonials of public gratitude were showered over the memory of Philip Miller, who had laboured so long and so successfully in the sciences which he loved, there was only one individual in existence, and that a very aged person, who had seen and attended the funeral of Miller, and who alone could point out the very spot where the 'Prince of Horticulture' was inhumed. This venerable person's name was Goodyer; he was the parish clerk of Chelsea church for half a century, and died as such in 1818, at the great age of ninety-four.
"Nevertheless, though last, it should not be concealed that I myself had actually stated and published, in the winter of 1794-5, the neglectful and opprobrious fact of Miller's having no single grave-stone, much less a monument, nor even one funeral line, to designate the spot where rested in its 'narrow house' the mortal relics of so great a man; see my Observations on the Genus Mesembryanthemum, p. 311-14; and, as every reader may not possess that publication, the following extract from it is added:—
"'So much for Miller; he, alas! who pleased so well, or, rather let me say, he who instructed and edified so much, and was even caressed by the great while living, now lies, forgotten by his friends, inhumed amongst the common undistinguished dead, in the bleak cold yard of Chelsea church, the very theatre of his best actions, the physic gardens of the Worshipful Company of Apothecaries, at Chelsea, not half a mile distant, without a tomb! without a stone! nay, destitute of a single line to mark the spot where rests, retired from all its cares and useful toils, the time-worn frame of the 'Prince of Horticulture!' How are those discerning foreigners, who so meritoriously rendered the language of his Dictionary into their own, to judge of this? by what measure are they to estimate the fact? Miller was the author of several publications, besides the very numerous editions of his Dictionary and Kalendar.'
"A. H. HAWORTH."
SIR JOHN HILL. His works are many of them enumerated in the Encyclo. of Gardening. The most full list is in Weston's Catalogue. His portrait is engraved in metz by Houston, from after Coates. It is an oval, with a solitaire. A short account of his life and writings was published at Edinburgh in 1779. The most general account of him is in Hutchinson's Biog. Medica. 2 vols. 8vo. See also the Biog. Dramatica, 2nd edit. 1782.
BATTY LANGLEY was born at Twickenham, where he resided. He was the author of,
1. Practical Geometry, 1726.
2. New Principles of Gardening, or the laying out and planting parterres, groves, wildernesses, labyrinths, avenues, parks, &c. cuts, 1728, 4to.
3. The sure Method of Improving Estates by Trees, 8vo. One of his chapters is "On the magnitude and prodigious Growth of Trees."
4. Pomona, or the Fruit Gardener, with plates, fol. 1729. At the end is a letter to Mr. Langley, on Cyder, from Hugh Stafford, Esq. of Pynes.
There is a 4to. metz portrait of Mr. Langley, with the name of Carwirtham, as the engraver or print-seller, 1741.
SIR WILLIAM WATSON, an eminent physician, who died in 1787, wrote
1. On the Culture of Mushrooms. In vol. 42 and 43 of the Phil. Trans.
2. Account of the Remains of Tradescant's Garden. In vol. 46 of the Phil. Trans.
3. Account of the Bishop of London's Garden, at Fulham. In vol. 47 of the Phil. Trans. besides many valuable papers in several volumes of these Transactions.
He had the pleasure of introducing Kalm, as well as Pallas, to most of the curious gardens in the environs of London. On the first establishment of the British Museum, he was most active in furnishing its garden, with no fewer than six hundred plants. His house (as Dr. Pulteney observes) "became the resort of the most ingenious and illustrious experimental philosophers that England could boast." Dr. Pulteney has closed a very liberal memoir of him, by inserting Dr. Garthshore's testimony to the humane feeling, the social politeness, and benignity of Sir William. His portrait is painted by Abbot, and engraved by Ryder, 1791. There is a full account of him in Chalmers.
The Rev. WILLIAM HANBURY, the intimate friend of Churchill, and of Lloyd, in his singular "History of the Charitable Foundations at Church Langton," (and which exhibits his own benevolent heart, and great love for planting and gardening) mentions, at page 185, a full-length portrait of himself, by Penny. Had there been any other portrait of him, it is likely Mr. Nicholls would have mentioned it in his Leicestershire, for that gentleman, as well as Joseph Cradock, Esq. (both of whom are lately deceased), would have been most likely to have known, if any other portrait of this zealous planter did exist; so would Dr. Thomas Warton, who always spoke of Mr. Hanbury as a generous, disinterested, and benevolent man. Earlom engraved, in 1775, a three-quarter metzotinto, from the above portrait by Penny. Mr. Hanbury also published "A Complete Body of Planting and Gardening;" 2 vols. folio. Also, "An Essay on Planting, and a Scheme to make it conducive to the Glory of God, and the Advantage of Society;" Oxford, 8vo. 1s. 1758. And "The Gardener's New Calendar;" 8vo. 1758.
Mr. Hanbury first conceived, in 1751, the establishing at Church Langton, for benevolent purposes, his immense plantations; having procured (particularly from North America) "almost every sort of seed that could be procured." He proposed that an annual sermon should be preached, either in praise of church music, the duty of decorating religious houses, charity in general, or the wonders of the creation; and that a hospital should be founded for the relief of the really distressed. All these extensive plans were frustrated. Even when his first twenty thousand trees had just been planted out, the cattle belonging to the tenants of Mrs. Dorothy Pickering, and Frances Byrd, (who a few years after died worth two hundred thousand pounds, and whose village biography is curiously dispersed throughout the above history) were purposely turned amongst the young trees, and in a little time destroyed them all. "Neither was this all; I was served for a trespass with twenty-seven different copies of writs in one day (by their attorney, Valentine Price, of Leicester); to such a degree of rage and fury were these old gentlewomen raised, at what one should have thought every heart would have rejoiced, and kindly lent an assisting hand." Mr. Hanbury gives many instances of the "venomous rage and passion" of these two old women. They had, says he, "the mortification to find themselves totally despised. Not a gentleman or lady would go near them, two neighbouring clergymen excepted, who were invited to dine with them upon venison." They attempted making a tool of the sow-gelder's son, to enable them to carry on their mean plans, and sent him word, that nothing they could do for him in the parish should be wanting. His answer was, "that favours granted from such people, on such terms, could never prosper, and he desired the other to tell them, they were two old bitches."—"This summer, (says Mr. Hanbury,) was murdered, in the most barbarous manner, the best spaniel that perhaps ever entered the field, and the best greyhound that ever run. With these I had been often entertained in my morning walks. To deprive me of these pleasures, afforded me in my morning recreations, I had discharges from Mrs. Pickering, and Mrs. Byrd, for taking them with me in their manors. To these I paid no regard, and as they never brought any action on that account, it may be supposed they could find no just cause to ground one. What then is to be done? Some method is to be contrived to deprive me of my attendants; the spaniel therefore was the first object destined for destruction. He was small, and of a beautiful black, and had been used to the parlour; and being absent about an hour, came reeling home in the agonies of death; and in about a quarter of an hour after, died in the seemingly most excruciating tortures. Suspecting some villany, I ordered him to be opened, but found everything perfect and entire; I then directed him to be skinned, and coming to the loins, found the traces of a table-fork, which was stuck into the kidneys, and which was the occasion of his speedy and dreadful death. A few days after this, my best greyhound was stuck in the loins, in the like barbarous manner, which brought on the same kind of speedy and agonizing death; and this was the catastrophe of these two noted dogs, which had been much talked of, and were famous amongst sportsmen, as being most perfect in their kind. Some time after this, their game-keeper, in company with his nephew, buried two dogs alive; they were the property of Mr. Wade, a substantial grazier, who had grounds contiguous to a place of cover, called Langton Caudle, where was often game; and where the unfortunate two dogs, straying from their master, had been used to hunt. The game-keeper and his nephew being shooting in this place, the dogs, upon the report of the gun, made towards them. Their shooting them or hanging them would have been merciful, but they buried them alive; and what words can express the abhorrence of such barbarity to such innocent creatures following the dictates of nature? To prevent a possibility of their scratching a way out, they covered them down with black thorns; over these they laid a sufficient quantity of earth and one large stone, which the rammed down with their heels. Day after day the dogs were heard in this place, with the howling, barking noise of dogs that were lost. Some people resorted to find them out, and wondered it was to no purpose, for nobody could suspect the dogs were under ground; and thus after calling and whistling them, and seeking them for some time, returned, amazed that lost dogs should continue so long in that place; but a sight of none could ever be had. The noise was fancied to come sometimes from one quarter, sometimes from another; and when they came near the place they were in, they ceased howling, expecting their deliverance was at hand. I myself heard them ten days after they had been buried; and seeing some people at a distance, enquired what dogs they were. They are some dogs that are lost, Sir, said they; they have been lost some time. I concluded only some poachers had been there early in the morning, and by a precipitate flight had left their dogs behind them. In short, the howling and barking of these dogs was heard for near three weeks, when it ceased. Mr. Wade's dogs were missing, but he could not suspect those to be his; and the noise ceasing, the thoughts, wonder, and talking about them, soon also ceased. Some time after, a person being amongst the bushes where the howling was heard, discovered some disturbed earth, and the print of men's heels ramming it down again very close; and seeing Mr. Wade's servant, told him, he thought something had been buried there. Then, said the man, it is our dogs, and they have been buried alive: I will go and fetch a spade, and will find them, if I dig all Caudle over. He soon brought a spade, and upon removing the top earth, came to the blackthorns, and then to the dogs, the biggest of which had eat the loins and greatest share of the hind parts of the little one." Mr. Hanbury states the deaths of these two sisters in the course of a few months after. The sums they accumulated by their penurious way of living, were immense. They bequeathed legacies by will to almost every body that were no kin to them except their assiduous attorney, Valentine Price, to whom they left nothing. "But what is strange and wonderful, though their charities in their life-time at Langton were a sixpenny loaf a week only, which was divided into as many parts as there were petitioners, and distributed by eleven of the clock on a Sunday, unless they left the town the day before, which was often the case, and when the poor were sure to fail of their bounty; these gentlewomen, at the death of the last, bequeathed by will upwards of twelve thousand pounds to the different hospitals and religious institutions in the kingdom. A blaze of goodness issued from them at last, and thus ended these two poor, unhappy, uncharitable, charitable old gentlewomen."
Mr. Marshall calls him, "the indefatigable Hanbury, whose immense labours are in a manner lost to the public." No man delighted more than Mr. Hanbury did, in describing the beauty of trees and shrubs: this is visible in the extracts which Mr. Marshall has made in his "Planting and Rural Ornament."
WILLIAM SHENSTONE, Esq., justly celebrated for his pure and classic taste in landscape gardening. His tender and pathetic feelings shine throughout most of his works; and the sweetness and simplicity of his temper and manners, endeared him to the neighbourhood and to his acquaintance. Dr. Johnson says, his life was unstained by any crime. He farther says of him, "He began from this time to entangle his walks, and to wind his waters; which he did with such judgment and such fancy, as made his little domain the envy of the great and the admiration of the skilful. His house was mean, and he did not improve it; his care was of his grounds. When he came home from his walks, he might find his floor flooded by a shower through the broken roof; but could spare no money for its reparation. In time his expences brought clamours about him, that overpowered the lamb's bleat and the linnet's song; and his groves were haunted by beings very different from fawns and fairies. He spent his estate in adorning it, and his death was probably hastened by his anxieties. He was a lamp that spent its oil in blazing. It is said, that if he had lived a little longer he would have been assisted by a pension: such bounty could not have been ever more properly bestowed; but that it was ever asked is not certain; it is too certain that it never was enjoyed."
His intimate friend, Robert Dodsley, thus speaks of him: "Tenderness, indeed, in every sense of the word, was his peculiar characteristic; his friends, his domestics, his poor neighbours, all daily experienced his benevolent turn of mind. He was no economist; the generosity of his temper prevented him from paying a proper regard to the use of money: he exceeded, therefore, the bounds of his paternal fortune, which before he died was considerably incumbered. But when one recollects the perfect paradise he had raised around him, the hospitality with which he lived, his great indulgence to his servants, his charities to the indigent, and all done with an estate not more than three hundred pounds a year, one should rather be led to wonder that he left any thing behind him, than to blame his want of economy. He left, however, more than sufficient to pay all his debts; and, by his will, appropriated his whole estate for that purpose."
His portrait is prefixed to his works, published in 3 vols. 8vo. 1764. His second volume contains his "Unconnected Thoughts on Landscape Gardening;" and the description of the celebrated Leasowes, in that volume, was written by ("the modest, sensible, and humane") Robert Dodsley. His Epistolary Correspondence appeared in 2 vols. 8vo. The title pages of the above first three volumes are attractive from their vignette, or rural embellishments. A portrait of Shenstone was taken in 1758, by Ross, which Hall engraved for Dodsley, in 1780; and this picture by Ross was in the possession of the late most worthy Dr. Graves, of Claverton, who died a few years ago, at the advanced age of ninety. Bell's edition of the Poets has a neat copy of this portrait. Dr. Graves wrote "Recollections of the late William Shenstone." He also dedicated an urn to him, and inscribed these lines thereon:—
Stranger! if woods and lawns like these, If rural scenes thy fancy please, Ah! stop awhile, and pensive view Poor Shenstone's urn: who oft, like you, These woods and lawns well-pleased has rov'd, And oft these rural scenes approv'd. Like him, be thou fair virtue's friend, And health and peace thy steps attend.
Mr. Shenstone died in 1763, and is buried in Hales Owen church yard. An urn is placed in the church to his memory, thus inscribed:—
Whoe'er thou art, with reverence tread These sacred mansions of the dead.— Not that the monumental bust Or sumptuous tomb HERE guards the dust Of rich or great: (Let wealth, rank, birth, Sleep undistinguish'd in the earth;) This simple urn records a name That shines with more exalted fame. Reader! if genius, taste refined, A native elegance of mind; If virtue, science, manly sense; If wit, that never gave offence; The clearest head, the tenderest heart, In thy esteem e'er claim'd a part; Ah! smite thy breast, and drop a tear, For, know, THY Shenstone's dust lies here.
Mr. Mason thus speaks of Shenstone:
——"Nor thou Shalt pass without thy meed, thou son of peace, Who knew'st perchance to harmonize thy shades Still softer than thy song; yet was that song Nor rude nor unharmonious, when attuned To pastoral plaint, or tales of slighted love."
And Mr. Whateley pays his memory the following tribute, previous to his masterly survey of his far-famed and enchanting seat: "An allusion to the ideas of pastoral poetry evidently enters into the design of the Leasowes, where they appear so lovely as to endear the memory of their author, and justify the reputation of Mr. Shenstone, who inhabited, made and directed that celebrated place. It is a perfect picture of his mind, simple, elegant, and amiable, and will always suggest a doubt whether the spot inspired his verses, or whether, in the scenes which he formed, he only realized the pastoral images which abound in his songs." George Mason, in many pages, pays high compliments to Shenstone's taste: "Paine's Hill has every mark of creative genius, and Hagley of correctest fancy; but the most intimate alliance with nature was formed by Shenstone." Mr. Marshall, in his "Planting and Rural Ornament," has some critical remarks on the Leasowes, the expences in perfecting which threw Shenstone "on the rack of poverty, and probably hastened the dissolution of an amiable and valuable man." He says that Enville was originally designed by Shenstone, and that the cascade and chapel were spoken of, with confidence, as his.
LORD KAMES. His portrait is prefixed to the memoirs of him, by Lord Woodhouselee, in 2 vols. 4to. 1807. There is an edition of the same work, in 3 vols. 8vo. 1814, with the same portrait, which is engraved from a drawing by D. Martin. His "Gentleman Farmer" spread his fame through Scotland. Its preface is particularly interesting. Mr. Smellie, in his Literary Lives of Gregory, Home, Hume, Adam Smith, and Lord Kames, after giving many interesting particulars of the latter, and after noticing his benevolence to the poor, during the whole course of his long life, proceeds:—"One great feature in the character of Lord Kames, besides his literary talents, and his public spirit, was a remarkable innocency of mind. He not only never indulged in detraction, but when any species of scandal was exhibited in his company, he either remained silent, or endeavoured to give a turn to the conversation. As natural consequences of this amiable disposition, he never meddled with politics, even when politics ran to indecent lengths in this country; and what is still more remarkable, he never wrote a sentence, notwithstanding his numerous publications, without a direct and a manifest intention to benefit his fellow creatures. In his temper he was naturally warm, though kindly and affectionate. In the friendships he formed, he was ardent, zealous and sincere. So far from being inclined to irreligion, as some ignorant bigots insinuated, few men possessed a more devout habit of thought. A constant sense of Deity, and a veneration for Providence, dwelt upon his mind. From this source arose that propensity, which appears in all his writings, of investigating final causes, and tracing the wisdom of the Supreme Author of Nature." He had the honour to be highly esteemed by the celebrated Mrs. Montagu.
The European Magazine of Nov. 1790, which gives an engraved portrait of him, being a copy of the above, thus speaks: "He was one of the very first who to great legal knowledge, added a considerable share of polite literature. He arrived at the highest rank to which a lawyer could attain in his own country; and he has left to the world such literary productions, as will authorize his friends to place him, if not in the highest, yet much above the lowest, class of elegant and polite writers. He died in 1783, leaving to the world a proof, that an attention to the abstrusest branches of learning, is not incompatible with the more pleasing pursuits of taste and polite literature." He was kind-hearted and humane. His pure taste in landscape scenery, is acknowledged by Mr. Loudon, in p. 81 of the Encyclopaedia of Gardening. Blair Drummond will long be celebrated as having been his residence, and he there displayed his superior taste in planting and improving.
In his "Elements of Criticism," (a truly original work) there is a distinct chapter on architecture and gardening. He therein thus addresses the reader:—"These cursory observations upon gardening, shall be closed with some reflections that must touch every reader. Rough uncultivated ground, dismal to the eye, inspires peevishness and discontent: may not this be one cause of the harsh manners of savages? A field richly ornamented, containing beautiful objects of various kinds, displays in full lustre the goodness of the Deity, and the ample provision he has made for our happiness. Ought not the spectator to be filled with gratitude to his Maker, and with benevolence to his fellow creatures? Other fine arts may be perverted to excite irregular and even vicious emotions; but gardening, which inspires the purest and most refined pleasures, cannot fail to promote every good affection. The gaiety and harmony of mind it produceth, inclineth the spectator to communicate his satisfaction to others, and to make them happy as he is himself, and tends naturally to establish in him a habit of humanity and benevolence."
JOHN ABERCROMBIE'S manly and expressive countenance is best given in the portrait prefixed to an edition in 2 vols. 8vo. published Feb. 1, 1783, by Fielding and Debrett. He is also drawn at full-length at his age of seventy-two, in the sixteenth edition, printed in 1800, with a pleasing view of a garden in the back-ground, neatly engraved. This honest, unassuming man, persevered "through a long life of scarcely interrupted health," in the ardent pursuit of his favourite science. The tenor of his life exemplified how much a garden calms the mind, and tranquilly sets at rest its turbulent passions. Mr. Loudon's Encyclop. of Gardening, after giving some interesting points of his history, thus concludes: "In the spring of 1806, being in his eightieth year, he met with a severe fall, by which he broke the upper part of his thigh bone. This accident, which happened to him on the 15th of April, terminated in his death. After lying in a very weak exhausted state, without much pain, he expired in the night, between April and May, as St. Paul's church struck twelve. He was lamented by all who knew him, as cheerful, harmless, and upright." One of his biographers thus relates of him: "Abercrombie from a fall down stairs in the dark, died at the age of eighty, and was buried at St. Pancras. He was present at the famous battle of Preston Pans, which was fought close to his father's garden walls. For the last twenty years of his life he lived chiefly on tea, using it three times a-day: his pipe was his first companion in the morning, and last at night. He never remembered to have taken a dose of physic in his life, prior to his last fatal accident, nor of having a day's illness but once." A list of his works appears in Watts's Bibl. Brit., and a most full one in Johnson's History of English Gardening, who, with many collected particulars of Abercrombie, relates the great and continually increasing sale of some of his works.
LAUNCELOT BROWNE, Esq. His portrait was painted by Dance, and engraved by Sherwin. Under this portrait are engraved the following lines, from the pen of Mr. Mason, which are also inscribed on the tomb of Mr. Browne, in the church of Fen-Staunton, Huntingdonshire:
Ye sons of elegance, who truly taste The simple charms which genuine art supplies, Come from the sylvan scenes his genius drew, And offer here your tributary sighs. But know, that more than genius slumbers here, Virtues were his that art's best powers transcend, Come, ye superior train! who these revere, And weep the christian, husband, father, friend.
Mr. Walpole, too, pays Mr. Browne this elegant compliment: "Did living artists come within my plan, I should be glad to do justice to Mr. Browne; but he may be a gainer by being reserved for some abler pen." This celebrated landscape gardener died suddenly, in Hertford Street, May Fair, on the 6th of February, 1783, on his return from a visit to his old friend the Earl of Coventry. Mr. Browne, though bred a common gardener at Stowe, possessed a cultivated mind, and his society was much courted. Joseph Cradock, Esq. called him "a most agreeable, unassuming man." He amassed a large fortune. He was consulted by most of the nobility and gentry, and the places he laid out or altered, were, as Mr. Loudon observes, beyond all reckoning. Mr. Repton has given a list of his principal works.
It has been the fate of this eminent master of landscape embellishment, to be severely censured by some, and lavishly praised by others. The late keen and consummate observer of landscape scenery, Sir Uvedale Price, harshly condemns the too frequent cold monotony and tameness of many of Mr. Browne's creations, and his never transfusing into his works any thing of the taste and spirit which prevail in the poet Mason's precepts and descriptions; and in one of his acute, yet pleasant pages, he alludes to his having but one and the same plan of operation; Sangrado-like, treating all disorders in the same manner. Perhaps the too general smoothness and tameness of Mr. Browne's pleasure-grounds ill accorded with Sir Uvedale's enthusiasm for the more sublime views of forest scenery, rapid and stony torrents and cascades, wild entangled dingles, and craggy breaks; or with the high and sublime notions he had imbibed from the rich scenery of nature so often contemplated by him in the landscapes of Claude, or in those of Rubens, Gaspar Poussin, Salvator Rosa, or of Titian, "the greatest of all landscape painters." Perhaps Sir Uvedale preferred "unwedgeable and gnarled oaks," to "the tameness of the poor pinioned trees of a gentleman's plantation, drawn up straight," or the wooded banks of a river, to the "bare shaven border of a canal."
Daines Barrington happily said, "Kent has been succeeded by Browne, who hath undoubtedly great merit in laying out pleasure-grounds; but I conceive that in some of his plans, I see rather traces of the kitchen-gardener of old Stowe, than of Poussin or Claude Lorraine: I could wish, therefore, that Gainsborough gave the design, and that Browne executed it." Mr. Loudon observes, "that Browne must have possessed considerable talents, the extent of his reputation abundantly proves; but that he was imbued with much of that taste for picturesque beauty, which distinguished the works of Kent, Hamilton, and Shenstone, we think will hardly be asserted by any one who has observed attentively such places as are known to be his creations." Mr. George Mason candidly asks, "why Browne should be charged with all the defects of those that have called themselves his followers, I have seen no good reason alleged, nor can I suppose it possible to produce one." Many of his imitators exhibited so little talent in their creations, that Mr. Browne's name considerably suffered in the estimation of many.
Mr. Gilpin speaks of Browne's improvements at Blenheim in high terms. Mr. Marshall in his Survey of Stowe and Fisherwick, in vol. i. of his "Planting and Rural Ornament," and at p. 384, pays a fair tribute to him. Much general information respecting him may be seen in Mr. Loudon's chapter "Of the rise, progress, and present state of gardening in the British Isles." The candour and rich conciseness of this review, embraces the whole magic of the art, as respects landscape gardening.
FRANCIS ZAVIER VISPRE wrote "A Dissertation on the Growth of Wine in England", Bath, 8vo. 1786. Mr. Vispre died poor, between thirty and forty years ago, in St. Martin's Lane. He excelled in painting portraits in crayons: Sir Joshua much esteemed him. He was a most inoffensive man, of the mildest manners, and of the purest integrity. I have seen his portrait in crayons, in an oval, finely finished by himself, but know not now where that is. On his mode of training the vine very near the ground, see p. 757 of the Encyclop. of Gardening.
WILLIAM MASON, precentor and canon of York, died in 1797. His friend, Sir Joshua Reynolds, painted an impressive portrait of him, which is engraved by Doughty. A masterly copy of this fine portrait is in Mr. Cadell's Contemporary Portraits. A copy is also prefixed to the edition of his works, in 4 vols. 8vo. 1811, published by Mr. Cadell. His portrait was also taken by Vaslet, and engraved by Carter, 1771. It is a large metz etching. He translated Du Fresnoy's Art of Painting, to which Sir Joshua added some notes. Mr. Mason has prefixed an Epistle to Sir Joshua, which thus concludes:
And oh! if ought thy poet can pretend Beyond his favourite wish, to call thee friend: Be it that here his tuneful toil has dress'd The muse of Fresnoy in a modern vest; And, with what skill his fancy could bestow, Taught the close folds to take an easier flow; Be it that here, thy partial smile approv'd The pains he lavish'd on the art he lov'd.
Mr. Mason's attachment to painting was an early one, is conspicuous in many of his writings, and in his English Garden, is visible throughout:
——feel ye there What Reynolds felt, when first the Vatican Unbarr'd her gates, and to his raptur'd eye Gave all the god-like energy that flow'd From Michael's pencil; feel what Garrick felt, When first he breath'd the soul of Shakspeare's page.
Sir Joshua, in his will, bequeaths his then supposed portrait of Milton to Mr. Mason.
Mr. Gray thus observes of Mason, when at Cambridge:—"So ignorant of the world and its ways, that this does not hurt him in one's opinion; so sincere and so undisguised, that no mind with a spark of generosity would ever think of hurting him, he lies so open to injury; but so indolent, that if he cannot overcome this habit, all his good qualities will signify nothing at all."
Mr. Mason, in 1754, found a patron in the Earl of Holderness, who presented him with the living of Aston, in Yorkshire. This sequestred village was favourable to his love of poetry and picturesque scenery; which displayed itself at large in his English Garden, and was the foundation of his lasting friendship with Mr. Gilpin, who to testify his esteem, dedicated to him his Observations on the Wye. A biographer of the late Mr. Shore, of Norton Hall, (the friend of Priestley), thus mentions Aston:—"That truly conscientious, and truly learned and excellent man, Mr. Lindsey, spent a whole week in this neighbourhood. He was during that time the guest of his friend Mr. Mason, who was residing on his rectory at Aston, the biographer of Gray, and one whose taste, gave beauty, and poetry, celebrity, to that cheerful village." His friendship for Mr. Gray, terminated only with the life of the latter. In 1770 Mr. Mason was visited at Aston, for the last time, by him. His last letter to Mr. Mason was from Pembroke-hall, in May, 1771, and on the 31st of the next month, and at that place, this sublime genius paid the debt of nature. The following epitaph was written by Mr. Mason, and inscribed on the monument in Westminster Abbey:
No more the Grecian muse unrivall'd reigns; To Britain let the nations homage pay: She felt a Homer's fire in Milton's strains, A Pindar's rapture in the lyre of Gray.
He farther evinced his attachment to this elegant scholar by publishing his poems and letters, to which he prefixed memoirs of him. He commences the third book of his English Garden with an invocation to his memory, and records, in lofty language, his eye glistening and his accents glowing, when viewing the charms of all-majestic Nature—the heights of Skiddaw and the purple crags of Borrowdale. And on a rustic alcove, in the garden at Aston, which he dedicated to Mr. Gray, he inscribed this stanza from the celebrated elegy:
Here scatter'd oft, the loveliest of the year, By hands unseen, are showers of violets found; The red-breast loves to build and warble here, And little footsteps lightly print the ground.
Mr. Mason married in 1765 a most amiable woman; she fell at length into a rapid consumption, and at Bristol hot-wells she died. Gray's letter to Mr. Mason while at that place, is full of eloquence; upon which the latter observes, "I opened it almost at the precise moment when it would be necessarily most affecting. His epitaph on the monument he erected on this lady, in the Bristol cathedral, breathes such tender feeling and chaste simplicity, that it can need no apology for being noticed here:
Take, holy earth! all that my soul holds dear; Take that best gift which heav'n so lately gave: To Bristol's fount I bore with trembling care Her faded form: she bow'd to taste the wave And died. Does youth, does beauty, read the line? Does sympathetic fears their breasts alarm? Speak, dead Maria! breathe a strain divine: E'en from the grave thou shalt have power to charm. Bid them be chaste, be innocent, like thee; Bid them in duty's sphere as meekly move; And if so fair, from vanity as free; As firm in friendship, and as fond in love. Tell them, though 'tis an awful thing to die, ('Twas e'en to thee) yet the dread path once trod, Heav'n lifts its everlasting portals high, And bids "the pure in heart behold their God."
A very short time after Mrs. Mason's death, he began his English Garden, and invokes the genius both of poetry and painting
——that at my birth Auspicious smil'd, and o'er my cradle dropp'd Those magic seeds of Fancy, which produce A Poet's feeling, and a Painter's eye. ——with lenient smiles to deign to cheer, At this sad hour, my desolated soul. For deem not ye that I resume the lyre To court the world's applause; my years mature Have learn'd to slight the toy. No, 'tis to soothe That agony of heart, which they alone, Who best have lov'd, who best have been belov'd, Can feel, or pity: sympathy severe! Which she too felt, when on her pallid lip The last farewell hung trembling, and bespoke A wish to linger here, and bless the arms She left for heav'n.—She died, and heav'n is her's! Be mine, the pensive solitary balm That recollection yields. Yes, angel pure! While memory holds her seat, thine image still Shall reign, shall triumph there; and when, as now, Imagination forms a nymph divine, To lead the fluent strain, thy modest blush, Thy mild demeanour, thy unpractis'd smile, Shall grace that nymph, and sweet Simplicity Be dress'd (ah, meek Maria!) in thy charms.
Dr. Thomas Warton thus speaks of the above poem, when reviewing Tusser's Husbandry:—"Such were the rude beginnings in the English language of didactic poetry, which, on a kindred subject, the present age has seen brought to perfection, by the happy combination of judicious precepts, with the most elegant ornaments of language and imagery, in Mr. Mason's English Garden." His Elfrida and Caractacus, are admired for boldness of conception and sublime description. Elfrida was set to Music by Arne, and again by Giardini. Caractacus was also set to music. Mr. Mason's success with both these dramatic poems was beyond his most sanguine expectation.
Dr. Darwin wrote an epitaph on Mr. Mason; these lines are its concluding part:
Weave the bright wreath, to worth departed just, And hang unfading chaplets on his bust; While pale Elfrida, bending o'er his bier, Breathes the soft sigh and sheds the graceful tear; And stern Caractacus, with brow depress'd Clasps the cold marble to his mailed breast. In lucid troops shall choral virgins throng, With voice alternate chant their poet's song. And, oh! in golden characters record Each firm, immutable, immortal word!
"Those last two lines from the final chorus of Elfrida, (says Miss Seward), admirably close this tribute to the memory of him who stands second to Gray, as a lyric poet; whose English Garden is one of the happiest efforts of didactic verse, containing the purest elements of horticultural taste, dignified by freedom and virtue, rendered interesting by episode, and given in those energetic and undulating measures which render blank verse excellent; whose unowned satires, yet certainly his, the heroic epistle to Sir William Chambers, and its postscript, are at once original in their style, harmonious in their numbers, and pointed in their ridicule; whose tragedies are the only pathetic tragedies which have been written in our language upon the severe Greek model. The Samson Agonistes bears marks of a stronger, but also of an heavier hand, and is unquestionably less touching than the sweet Elfrida, and the sublime Caractacus."
Mr. Mason, in 1756 published four Odes. "It would be difficult to say, (says the biographer of the annual Necrology of 1797,) which is most to be admired, the vividness of the conception, or the spirit of liberty, and the ardent love of independance throughout. The address to Milton in his Ode to Memory, and to Andrew Marvel, in that to Independance, cannot be too much admired. At the period when the Middlesex election was so much agitated, he united with those independant freeholders, who, by their declarations and petitions, throughout the nation, opposed corruption, and claimed a reform in parliament; and when the county of York assembled in 1779, he was of the committee, and had a great share in drawing up their spirited resolutions. The animated vindication of the conduct of the freeholders, and other papers, though printed anonimously in the newspapers, and so printed in Mr. Wyvill's collection of political tracts, in 3 vols. are well known to be Mr. Mason's production. This conduct rendered him obnoxious to the court party. He was at this time one of the king's chaplains, but when it became his turn to preach before the royal family, the queen appointed another person to supply his place. It has been observed, that his sentiments in a later period of his life, took a colour less favourable to liberty. Whether alarmed at the march of the French revolution, or from the timidity of age, we know not. His friend Horace Walpole, charges him with flat apostacy:" The Heroic Epistle to Sir W. Chambers, and the Heroic Postscript, are now positively said to have been written by Mr. Mason. Mr. Thomas Warton observed, "they may have been written by Walpole, and buckramed by Mason."
The late Sir U. Price, in the generous and patriotic conclusion of his letter to Mr. Repton, pays a delicate compliment to the genius of Mr. Mason in whatever concerns rural scenery; and his respect for Mr. Mason, and his high opinion of his talents, is farther shewn in pp. 295 and 371 of his first volume, and in p. 94 of vol. ii. Mr. Mathias, after supposing Mr. Mason to have been the author of the Heroic Epistle, and after paying a high compliment to his general poetry, thus concludes his generous tribute:
Whence is that groan? no more Britannia sleeps, But o'er her lov'd Musaeus bends and weeps. Lo, every Grecian, every British muse Scatter the recent flowers and gracious dews Where MASON lies! And in his breast each soft affection dwelt, That love and friendship know; each sister art, With all that colours, and that sounds impart, All that the sylvan theatre can grace, All in the soul of MASON found their place! Low sinks the laurell'd head: in Mona's land I see them pass, 'tis Mador's drooping band, To harps of woe, in holiest obsequies, In yonder grave, they chant, our Druid lies!
ERASMUS DARWIN. In the life of this justly celebrated physician, by Miss Seward, she informs us, that in the year 1770, he sat to Mr. Wright of Derby; and that it was "a contemplative portrait, of the most perfect resemblance." Whether it has been engraved I know not. He was then in his thirty-eighth year. Dr. Thornton, in his superb work on botany, has given a fine portrait of Dr. Darwin, at a more advanced period of his life. It breathes intelligence in every feature, and is a masterly likeness. The late Mr. Archdeacon Clive preserved a highly-finished miniature portrait of him, which was ordered by Dr. Darwin for the express purpose of being presented to this worthy clergyman, whom he so much esteemed.
Dr. Darwin published,
1. Zoonomia, or the Laws of Organic Life.
2. Phytologia, or the Philosophy of Agriculture and Gardening, 4to. 1800. "A vast field of treasured observation and scientific literature."
3. The Botanic Garden.
Lord Byron, and others, have been severe on this poem. The lines, however, on the soldier's wife and infants, after watching the battle of Minden—those animated ones to Mr. Howard—or when the mother, during the plague in London, commits her children to the grave,