Obrazy na stronie

For the same reason, a building, the most magnificent, is confined to one expression.

Architecture, as a fine art, instead of being a rival to gardening in its progress, seems not far advanced beyond its infant state. To bring it to maturity, two things are wanted. First, a greater variety of parts and ornaments than at present it seems provided with. Gardening here has the advantage; it is provided with plenty of materials for raising scenes without end, affecting the spectator with a variety of emotions.. In architecture, the materials are so scanty, that artists hitherto have not been successful in raising any emotions but of beauty and grandeur: with respect to the former, there are plenty of means, regularity, order, symmetry, simplicity, utility; and with respect to the latter, the addition of size is sufficient. But though every building ought to have a certain character or expression suited to its destination, this refinement has scarce been attempted by any artist.

The other thing wanted to bring the art to perfection, is, to ascertain the precise impression made by every single part and ornament, as cupolas, spires, columns, carvings, statues, vases, &c.; for in vain will an artist attempt rules for employing these, either singly or in combination, until the different emotions they produce be distinctly explained.

In gardening as well as in architecture, simplicity ought to be a ruling principle. Profuse ornament hath no better effect than to confound the eye, and prevent

, the object from making an impression as one entire whole. An artist destitute of genius for capital beauties, is prompted to supply the defect by crowding his plan with slight embellishments: hence in a garden, triumphal arches, Chinese houses, temples, obelisks, cascades, fountains, without end; and in a building, pillars, vases, statues, and a profusion of carved work. Superfluity of decoration hath another bad effect; it gives the object a diminutive look : an island in a wide extended lake makes it appear larger; but an artifi




[ocr errors]


ELEMENTS OF CRITICISM. cial lake, which is always little, appears still less by making an island in it.

In forming plans for embellishing a field, an artist without taste employs straight lines, circles and squares, because these look best upon paper. He perceives not, that to humor and adorn nature, is the perfection of his art; and that nature, neglecting regularity distributes her objects in great variety with a bold hand. A large field laid out with strict regularity, is stiff and artificial.

Having thus far carried on a comparison between gardening and architecture; rules peculiar to each come next in order, beginning with gardening. The simplest plan of a garden, is that embellished with a number of natural objects, trees, walks, polished parterres, flowers, streams, &c. One more complex comprehends statues and buildings, that nature and art may be mutually ornamented. A third, approaching nearer perfection, is of objects assembled together, to produce not only an emotion of beauty, but also some other particular emotion, grandeur, for example, gaiety

other above mentioned. The completest plan of a garden is an improvement upon the third, re. quiring the several parts to be so arranged, as to in. spire all the different emotions that can be raised by gardening. In this plan, the arrangement is an important circumstance; for it has been shown, that some emotions figure best in conjunction, and that others ought always to appear in succession, and nevei in conjunction. When the most opposite emotions, such as gloominess and gaiety, stillness and activity, follow each other in succession, the pleasure, on the whole, will be the greatest : but such emotions ought not to be united, because they produce an unpleasant mixture. For this reason, a ruin, affording a melancholy pleasure, ought not to be seen from a flower parterre, which is gay and cheerful. But to pass from an exhilarating object to a ruin, has a fine effect; for each of the emotions is the more sensibly felt by be

or any

ing contrasted with the other. Similar emotions, on the other hand, such as gaiety and sweetness, stillness and gloominess, motion and grandeur, ought to be raised together; for their effects upon the mind are heightened by their conjunction.

Kent's method of embellishing a field is admirable; which is to replenish it with beautiful objects, natural and artificial, disposed as they ought to be upon a canvas in painting

A single garden must be distinguished from a plurality; yet it is not obvious in what the unity of a garden consists. The gardens of Versailles, properly expressed in the plural number, being no fewer than sixteen, are all of them connected with the palace, but have scarce any mutual connexion : they appear not like parts of one whole, but like small gardens in contiguity.

Regularity is required in that part of the garden adjacent to the dwelling-house; because an immediate accessory ought to partake the regularity of the principal object; but in proportion to the distance from the house considered as the centre, regularity ought to be less studied. A small garden, on the other hand, which admits not grandeur, ought to be strictly regular.

A hill covered with trees, appears more beautiful as well as more lofty than when naked. “To distribute trees in a plain requires more art: near the dwellinghouse they ought to be scattered so distant from each other, as not to break the unity of the field ; and even at the greatest distance of distinct vision, they ought never to be so crowded as to hide any beautiful object.

In the manner of planting a wood or thicket, much art may be displayed. A common centre of walks, termed a star, from whence are seen remarkable objects, appears too artificial, stiff, and formal, to be agreeable: the crowding objects together, lessens the pleasure that would be felt in a slower succession.

An object terminating a narrow opening in a wood, appears at a double distance. To place a number of thickets in a line, with an opening in each, directing the eye

from one to another, will make them appear more remote than they are in reality, and in appearance enlarge the size of the whole field.

By a judicious distribution of trees, other beauties may be produced. A landscape so rich as to engross the whole attention, and so limited as sweetly to be. comprehended under a single view, has a much finer effect than the most extensive landscape that requires a wandering of the eye through successive scenes. This observation suggests a capital rule in laying out a field; which is, never at any one station to admit a larger prospect than can easily be taken in at once.

As gardening is but an imitation of nature, or rather nature ornamented, every thing unnatural ought to be rejected. Statues of wild beasts vomiting water, a common ornament in gardens, prevail in those of Versailles. A jet d'eau, being purely artificial, may, without disgust, be tortured into a thousand shapes.

In gardening, every lively exhibition of whať is beautiful in nature has a fine effect: but distant and faint imitations are displeasing. The cutting ever

: greens in the shape of animals, is very ancient. The propensity to imitation gave birth to that practice; and has supported it long, considering how faint and insipid the imitation is. But the vulgar, great and small, are entertained with the oddness and singularity of a resemblance, however distant, between a tree and an animal. An attempt in the gardens of Versailles to imitate a grove of trees by a group of jets d'eau, appears, for the same reason, no less childish.

In designing a garden, every thing trivial or whimsical ought to be avoided. A labyrinth is a mere conceit, like that of composing verses in the shape of an ax or an egg: the walks and hedges may be agreeable; but in the form of a labyrinth, they serve to no end but to puzzle: a riddle is a conceit not so mean;

because the solution is proof of sagacity, which affords no aid in tracing a labyrinth. - A straight road is the most agreeable, because it shortens the journey. But in an embellished field a straight walk has an air of formality, and is less agreeable than a winding walk; for in surveying the beauties of an ornamented field, we love to roam from place to place at freedom. Winding walks at every step open new views, and the walks in pleasure-grounds ought not to have any appearance of a road: my intention is not to make a journey, but to feast my eye on the beauties of art and nature.

Avoid a straight avenue directed upon a dwellinghouse; better far an oblique approach in a waving line, with single trees and other scattered objects interposed. In a direct approach, the first appearance is continued to the end; we see a house at a distance, and we see it all along in the same spot without any variety.

A garden on a flat ought to be highly and variously ornamented, in order to occupy the mind, and prevent our regretting the insipidity of an uniform plan. Artificial mounts in that view are common : but no person has thought of an artificial walk elevated high above the plain. Such a walk is airy, tending to elevate the mind; it extends and varies the prospect; and it makes the plain, seen from a height, appear more agreeable.

A ruin should be in the Gothic form, because it exbibits the triumph of time over strength; a melancholy

but not unpleasant thought: a Grecian ruin suggests rather the triumph of barbarity over taste: a gloomy and discouraging thought.

There are not many fountains in a good taste. Statues of animals vomiting water, stand condenned as unnatural

. Y disgusting. Hitherto a garden has been treated as a work intended solely for pleasure, or giving impressions of intrinsic beauty. Next in order, the beauty of a gar


« PoprzedniaDalej »