Page images
PDF
EPUB

We must be permitted also to dissent from every proposal for bending and warping trees of any kind, from their natural course of growth, p. 447. If nature directs one kind of tree to shoot upright, art is misapplied in forcibly forming it into cnrves; if curves are wanted, seek trees of other kinds. We know that this practice has been suggested by a purveyor of ship timber, (though we believe it has not been found profitable) ; but how an improver of grounds and professed follower of nature could be induced to recommend it, and to lay down directions for curving of trees, which are naturally straight, firs and pines for instance, it might have been charitable in Mr. L. to inform us.

We doubt also the propriety of building churches always in the same form.

'The general masses of this form, says Mr. L. should in no situation be altered, though their magnitude may differ ;—the reason for preserving the form always the same, is chiefly, that in some cases, where the sublime cannot be produced by magnitude, from the limited extent of the building, the form, though of less size, may from association of ideas, produce this effect.'

In other words, structures capable of the greatest beauty and magnificence, are not to derive advantage from this circumstance, but must conform to " churches dwindled into mere barns, as is the case with a number of the country churches in Scotland and Wales."

A ramble in Lincolnshire would answer all our author's remarks upon spires.

But, though we think Mr. L. has, in these, and other instances, expressed himself awkwardly, yet we give him due credit for many correct and just ideas. We approve highly of his intention in combining the boundaries of a park with the surrounding country, when the prospect is interesting: his observations on preparing ground for planting, trimming trees, when rising into woods: his recommendation never, or very rarelv, to plant single trees for ornament in grounds, but at least two together; his advice in favour of the planting of trees in hedge rows, in which all who have seen some parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will coincide, and which converts a country into a park; his partiality for the oak, and many other particulars, have our entire approbation. It will giv£ us pleasure to transcribe some of his observations, for the use and the amusement of our readers.

The best part of Mr. L.'s work, in our opinion, is that which relates to the management of plantations. In this he speak.? like a man of observation, good sense, and experience, and we believe that many of his hints are worthy of adoption. He docs not even forget the minor articles of plantation improvement.

* Every Hedge (he justly remarks), should be well cleaned .ind defended for five 6r six years after it is planted; and in the mean time, its sides should be trained in a tapering form with the hedtr knife. The great art of preserving hedges fencible, after they are raised, consists in keeping them three or four times broader at the bottom than at the top. By this means, every part has the full advantage of the sun, air, and rain; it grows equally thick throughout, and particularly below, where it is most necessary.—In pruning ,a hedge, the bill or knife should be used, as being preferable to the shears. The latter bruise off, rather than cut over the twigs; but the knife cuts off the twigs clean and smooth. By this means, they throw out fewer shoots, but those are of greater strength; and the hedge is equally thick in every part without being crowded.' p. 542.

The proper thinning of plantations, is an article of great consequence; but, says Mr. L.'

• This operation has been so generally neglected in Great Britain, that few plantations contain one half, and many not one fifth, of the timber they would have contained, had they been properly thinned. Artificial thinning is only assisting nature; hence leaving natural woods to be thinned by time, would not be economical; and those who argue from the effects produced by time in natural forests ag'inst thinning artificial plantations, do not consider the difference between them, and forget that counteracting or forcing nature is very different from gently assisting her in her operations. Let me remark to such, that in artificial plantations, the soil is equally cultivated, and the plants are put in the ground much -about the same size, and at the same time. Hence, they rash up together all of the same height, producing neither beauty nor timber, and none being found so strong as to take the lead and destroy the rest, they grow in this manner until they are so crowded as to exclude air and moisture. Then, unless previous aid has been given, the whole plantation dies together. Instances to corroborate this will be seen in several parts of Perthshire and Yorkshire, and near the road between Glasgow and Hamilton. In most plantations the fir tribe has been introduced either for ornament or shelter. Where thinning is practised, too large a proportion of these firs are left. Hence, from their comparatively quick growth, such plantations have a disagreeable sameness throughout; and as most of them are made in the same manner, this appearance extends over the whole island. The plantations where thinning is principally requisite are those intended for groves. In woods and copses, none require to be taken out but the nurse plants, where any have been planted. Plantations of the fir tribe should be gradually thinned, beginning after they have been five or six years planted, and continuing for ten or twelve years; after that time thinning becomes pernicious. 1 he trees thinned out should always be grubbed up by the roots: for when these are allowed to remain,'they check the progress of the remaining trees. Plantations of firs are sometimes, and very properly, left without thinning, and cut wholly down as a crop when fifteen or twenty years old. This is generally the most profitable mode of planting on thin, bare soils in the neighbour, ood of mines. Groves of deciduous trees should be thinned out after the same manner; only, the operation may go on till the trees have arrived at nearly their full size. Woods require no thinning— Copsewoods require less thinning—Wherever, ornament is in any degree considered, the trees or copses left, should not be equidistant from one another, but, in groupb of irregular thickness.'

Mr. L. affirm* that" the damag'1 which many plantations suffer fcr wa:;t of draining, particularly all the Royal forests, is incalculable. Many thousands of acres would, by this operation alone, be rendered of twenty /ivies their present value." We recommend this hint to those whom it concerns; the inducement to pay it suitable attention, is surely of no trifling magnitude.

Ship timber for the Royal Navy is scarce, and is likely to continue so, while the most profitable time to fell oaks, is at fifty or s'xty years growth, instead of eighty or a hundred. It seems that the slowness of its growth in the latter stages, does not compensate.by the increase of timber, for the loss in interest of money. B-side the. extent, or situation of woods and coppices, Mr. L. attends to various other matters conducive to general improvement. In particular, he describes the formation and courses of roads, which he divides into several kinds. A description of one or two of them, is both amusing and interesting.

'The Approach to the Mansion is a variety of Road, peculiar to a house in the country. In direction it should on the one hand, neither be affectedly graceful or waving and studiously intercepted by trees; nor, on the othei, vulgarly rectilineal, direct, or abrupt. There is a dignity, propriety, and in genuity, requisite m an approach, analogous to that of addressing a great, man to whom we are unknown. In given circumstances it easily presents itself to the mind; and from the simplicity of the whole operations, both of conceiving.and designing an approach, it is easily marked out on the ground—easily improved upon—and the execution is mere road making. Avenues have been reckoned the only proper approaches to cashes; but there s&.-ms no reason in nature for such a rule; and the arguments from antiquity are certainly insufficient to justify their constant re-introduction in such cases. Wherever they exist with good effect, as at Taymouth, they ought to be carefully preserved; and even, in some situations, avenues to mansions, as at Fonthill, or straight private roads through monotonous cultivated countries, as near Wimpofe and Wilton, or public ones passing along eminences, as at Callender, may be created with great advantage. The new approach which I designed for North Berwick will pass through a straight level avenue one mile in length, already formed and containing as its termination North Berwick Law ". At the end of this avenue the road enters a winding valley, with the lav/ or mountain close on the right, shewing a towering cone of wood, rock, and pasture; and on the left the irregular boundary of a plantation in the forest style. It winds in this valley sometimes under perpendicular rocks .at the base of the law; at other times through a smooth surface of verdure; sometimes the wood descends to the road,

* Laws in Scotland are sharply rising hills, insulated, and visible from considerable distances. Rev.

and appears to stretch across the valley; and at other times it retires into dark recesses: every where it is broken by thickets of thorns and hollies, mingled with forest trees ; which, with the rocks and cattle/ form new combinations on every movement of the spectator. This style will continue another mile, until entering a thick woo.!, and crossing a brook, it will ascend to the intended mansion. The west and north approaches are shorter, and widely different, but equally interesting. One of these passes along high grounds, and exhibits extensive prospects of the sea, Edinburgh, the noble view of Dirleton Castle, and the opposite coast of the Forth. Another passes through the marine village of North Berwick, and ascends into the park near the ruins of a fine old abbey. An 1 the last proceeds from the shore, through a hollow wooded dell, which bursts into a level valley at the rocky base of the steepest side of the mountain. Nothing can convey an adequate idea of these approaches bat a model of the whole residence; a mode which I took advantage of on this occasion, in order to communicate my id«s with the requisite clearness.

'The Drive is another variety of road; the intention of which being to shew the beauties of an extensive residence, or of the surrounding country, nothing can be easier than to contrive it. The chief art is, to shew only one species of rural character at a time. The drive designed for North Berwick, first shews a magnificent forest-like park; then enters a dell, and suddenly bursts out of it to a naked, rocky, abrupt sea shore; along this it proceeds some miles, without shewing any thing except the sea; it then turns into a fertile corn country, next enters the woods of Leughie, whence carriages may either return by the approach above described, or proceed to make a more extensive tour of tiie country.' p. 592.

Mr. L. makes great use of models: and has published five different kinds of models in wood, of his principal improvements. They are sold at a cabinet maker's in London; and convey to workmen very distinct ideas of what they are required to execute. But this is a kind of publication not at present under our cognizance. However, we decidedly commend this idea; because we well know, that many afterthoughts, and variations, of the most important description, are suggested by models; and that they afford opportunities for corrections and improvements, not otherwise to be obtained. Mr. L. has also a curious composition, which may be used without any previous preparation, and by which any gentleman may try upon the model, the effect of any proposed alteration or improvement: a small wire net, serves as a scale of measurement.

We feel a pleasure in remarking, that Mr. L. does not forget the moral character of man; and though we cannot but observe some defects in his inferences, and a narrowness in his views, yet we readily grant that familiarity wkh the striking productions and embellished scenery of nature, has a favourable influence on the mind. We know that retirement from " the crowded mart" to " the cultivated plain," from the contending interests and passions of men to the serenity of a country residence, were it only a temporary retreat from the temptations of a city, is no despicabje assistant to virtue.

——^————— Wisdom's self

Oft seeks to sweet retired solitude,

Where with her best nurse Contemplation

She plumes her feathers, and lets grow her wings,

That in the various bustle of resort

Were all too ruffled, and Sometimes impair'd.

"The effects of the objects of taste upon the human mind," says Mr. L.,

* Are extensive, and are calculated greatly to enlarge the sphere of enjoyment, and to increase real happiness. The most exalted pleasure consists in the exercise of the social afFections and of the imagination. These a taste for rural scenery has a direct tendency to produce. The influence of rural improvement on our families is so great, and the effects which would result from it are so extensive, that, were this alone attended to, it would in thirty years effect a revolution in the manners of the higher classes :—a revolution highly advantageous to the state, honourable to the subjects of it, and conducive to the immediate happiness of parents, no less than to the future welfare of their children.'

We must pardon, in a professor, a little enthusiasm for his art: could we attribute to scientific plantations only half of what Mr. L. foresees, it would give us sincere pleasure; and heartily should we recommend to the landed interest, to improve, without delay, the present state of their grounds, in order to improve the minds and the morals of succeeding generations. ILthis object, however, is particularly dear to any of them, there are plans enough provided for them to encourage, of less questionable and precarious utility.

We shall not enter into Mr. L.'s appendix of censures against Mr. Repton; we have already protested against such asperities, and now repeat our protest. It is of no moment to the public, who first invented or adopted slides for shewing proposed improvements. And we can assure Mr. L. and all who are interested in the important inquiry, that long before Mr. Repton's time, they were used without hesitation or compunction. The most extensive as well as mysterious use.of slides that we recollect, is in the London 4io. edition of Jacob Behmen's works; the subject of which is the mystical Anatomy of Man; lifting up one slide, which covers his superficies, we have his moral musculage; lifting up a second, we have his bowels; lifting up a third, we see his heart, which is black enough in all conscience.

We oue;ht to add a few words on the subject of the plates which embellish Mr. L.'s work; they are mostly well executed, and creditable to the artists employed. As designs, we should

« PreviousContinue »