The Temple is one of the “features” which began to grow with great rapidity in connection with the House Garden. And here let me say that, in my opinion, one of the most fascinating elements of the House Garden is the way in which its character develops. To watch its development is as interesting as to watch the growth of a dear child, only it is never wilful, and the child is—sometimes. There is no wilfulness in the floral part: as I have already explained, the “dwarf habit” of the stock prevents all ramping and every form of rebellion: but it is different with the “features.” I have found that every year brings its suggestions of development in many directions, and surely this constitutes the main attractiveness of working out any scheme of horticulture.

I have found that one never comes to an end in this respect; and I am sure that this accounts for the great popularity of the House Garden, in spite of its enemies having tried to abolish it by calling it Formal. The time was when one felt it necessary to make excuses for it—Mr. Robinson, one of the most eminent of its detractors, was, and still is, I am happy to be able to say, the writer to whom we all apply for advice in an emergency. He is Æsculapius living on the happiest terms with Flora.

But when we who are her devotees wish to build a Temple for her worship, we don't consult Æsculapius: he is a physician, not an architect, and Mr. Robinson has been trying to convince us for over twenty years that an architect is not the person to consult, for he knows nothing about the matter. Æsculapius is on the side of Nature, we are told, and he has been assuring us that the architect is not; but in spite of all its opponents, the garden of form and finish is the garden of to-day. Every one who wishes to have a garden worth talking about—a garden to look out upon from a house asks for a garden of form and finish.

I am constantly feeing that I am protesting too much in its favour, considering that it needs no apologist at this time of day, when, as I have just said, opinion on its desirability is not divided, so I will hasten to relieve myself of the charge of accusation by apology. Only let me say that the beautiful illustrations to Mr. Robinson's volume entitled Garden Design and Architects' Gardens—they are by Alfred Parsons—go far, in my opinion, to prove exactly the opposite to what they are designed to prove. We have pictures of stately houses and of comparatively humble houses, in which we are shown the buildings starting up straight out of the landscape, with a shaggy tree or group of trees cutting off at a distance of only a few yards from the walls, some of the most interesting architectural features; we have pictures of mansions with a woodland behind them and a river flowing in front, and of mansions in the very midst of trees, and looking at every one of them we are conscious of that element of incongruity which takes away from every sense of beauty. In fact, looking at the woodcuts, finely executed as they are, we are forced to limit our observation to the architecture of the houses only; for there is nothing else to observe. We feel as if we were asked to admire an unfinished work—as if the owner of the mansion had spent all his money on the building and so was compelled to break off suddenly before the picture that he hoped to make of the “place” was complete or approaching completeness.

Mr. Robinson's strongest objection is to “clipping.” He regards with abhorrence what he calls after Horace Walpole, “vegetable sculpture.” Well, last year, being in the neighbourhood of one of the houses which he illustrates as an example of his “natural” style of gardening, I thought I should take the opportunity of verifying his quotations. I visited the place, but when I arrived at what I was told was the entrance, I felt certain that I had been misdirected, for I found myself looking through a wrought-iron gate at an avenue bounded on both sides with some of the most magnificent clipped box hedges I had ever seen. Within I was overwhelmed with the enormous masses treated in the same way. It was not hedges they were, but walls—massive fortifications, ten feet high and five thick, and all clipped I I never saw such examples of topiary work. To stand among these bêtes noires of Mr. Robinson made one feel as if one were living among the mastodons and other monstrosities of the early world: the smallest suggested both in form and bulk the Jumbo of our youth—no doubt it had a trunk somewhere, but it was completely hidden. The lawn—at the bottom of which, by the way, there stood the most imposing garden-house I had ever seen outside the grounds of Stowe—was divided geometrically by the awful bodies of mastodons, mammoths, elephants, and hippopotamuses, the effect being hauntingly Wilsonian, Wagnerian, and nightmarish, so that I was glad to hurry away to where I caught a glimpse of some geometrical flower beds, with patterns delightfully worked in shades of blue—Lord Roberts heliotrope, ageratum, and verbena.

I asked the head-gardener, whom the war had limited to two assistants, if he spent much time over the clipping, and he told me that it took two trained men doing nothing else but clipping those walls for six weeks out of every year!

From what Mr. Robinson has written one gathers that he regards the clipping of trees as equal in enormity to the clipping of coins—perhaps even more so. If that is the case, it is lucky for those topiarists that he is not in the same position as Sir Charles Mathews.

And the foregoing is a faithful description of the “landscape” around one of the houses illustrated in his book as an example of the “naturalistic” style.

But perhaps Mr. Robinson's ideas have become modified, as those of the owner of the house must have done during the twenty-five years that have elapsed since the publication of his book, subjecting Mr. Blomfield (as he was then) and Mr. Inigo Triggs to a criticism whose severity resembles that of the Quarterly Review of a hundred years ago, or the Saturday of our boyhood.

To return to my Temple, within whose portals I swear that I have said my last word respecting the old battle of the styles, I look on its erection as the first progeny of the matrimonial union of the house with its garden. I have mentioned the mound encircled with flowering shrubs at the termination of the lawn. I am unable to say what part was played by this raised ground in the economy of the Norman Castle, but before I had been looking at it for very long I perceived that it was clearly meant to be the site of some building that, would be in keeping with the design of the garden below it—some building in which one could sit and obtain the full enjoyment of the floral beds which were now crying out with melodious insistence for admiration.

The difficulty was to know in what form the building should be cast. I reckoned that I had a free choice in this matter. The boundary wall of the Castle is, of course, free from all architectural trammels. I could afford to ignore it. If the Keep or the Barbican had been within sight, my freedom in this respect would have been curtailed to the narrowest limits: I should have been compelled to make the Norman or the Decorated the style, for anything else would have seemed incongruous in close proximity to a recognised type; but under the existing conditions I saw that the attempt to carry out in this place the Norman tradition would result in something that would seem as great a mockery as the sham castle near Bath.

But I perceived that if I could not carry out the Norman tradition I might adopt the eighteenth century tradition respecting a garden building, and erect one of the classic temples that found favour with the great garden makers of that period—something frankly artificial, but eminently suggestive of the Italian taste which the designers had acquired in Italy.

I have wondered if the erection of these classical buildings in English gardens did not seem very incongruous and artificial when they were first brought before the eyes of the patron; and the conclusion that I have come to is that they seemed as suitable to an English home as did the pure Greek façade of the mansion itself, the fact being that there is no English style of architecture. Italy gave us the handsomest style for our homes, and when people were everywhere met with classical façades—when the Corinthian pillar with, perhaps, its modified Roman entablature, was to be seen in every direction, the classical garden temple was accepted as in perfect harmony with its surroundings. So the regular couplets of Dryden, Pope, and a score of lesser versifiers were acclaimed as the most natural and reasonable form for the expression of their opinions. Thus I hold that, however unenterprising the garden designers were in being content to copy Continental models instead of inventing something as original as Keats in the matter of form, the modern garden designer has only to copy in order to produce—well, a copy of the formality of their time. But if people nowadays do not wish their gardens to reflect the tastes of their ancestors for the classical tradition, they will be very foolish if they do not adopt something better—when they find it.


Of course I am now still referring to the garden out of which the house should spring. The moment that you get free from the compelling influence of the house, you may go as you please; and to my mind you will be as foolish if you do not do something quite different from the House Garden as you would be if you were to do anything different within sight of the overpowering House—almost as foolish as the people who made a beautiful fountain garden and then flung it at the head of that natural piece of water, the Serpentine.

My temple was to be in full view of the house, and I wished to maintain the tradition of a certain period, so I drew out my plans accordingly. I had space only for something about ten feet square, and I found out what the simplest form of such a building would cost. It could be done in stone for some hundreds of pounds, in deal for less than a fourth of that sum.

Both estimates were from well-known people with all the facilities for turning out good work at the lowest figure of profit; but both estimates made me heavy-hearted. I tried to make up my mind not to spend the rest of my life in the state of the Children of Israel when their Temple was swept away; but within six months I had my vision restored, and unlike the old people who wept because the restoration was far behind the original in glory, I rejoiced; for, finding that I could not afford to have the structure in deal, I had it built of marble, and the cost worked out most satisfactorily. In marble it cost me about a fourth of the estimate in deal!

I did it on the system adopted by the makers of the Basilica of St. Mark at Venice. Those economical people built their walls of brick and laid their marbles upon that. My collection of marbles was distinctly inferior to theirs, but I flatter myself that it was come by more honestly. The only piece of which I felt doubtful, not as regards beauty, but respecting the honourable nature of its original acquiring, was a fine slab, with many inlays. It was given to Augustus J. C. Hare by the Commander of one of the British transports that returned from the Black Sea and the Crimea in 1855, and it was originally in a church near Balaclava. In the catalogue of the sale of Mr. Hare's effects at Hurstmonceaux, the name of the British officer was given and the name of his ship and the name of the church, but the rest is silence. I cannot believe that that British officer would have been guilty of sacrilege; but I do not know how many hands a thing like this should pass through in order to lose the stain of sacrilege, so I don't worry over the question of the morality of the transaction, any more than the devout worshippers do beneath the mosaics of St. Mark—that greatest depository of stolen goods in the world.

All the rest of my coloured marbles that I applied to the brickwork of my little structure came mostly from old mantelpieces and restaurant tables, but I was lucky enough to alight upon quite a large number of white Sicilian tiles, more than an inch thick, which were invaluable to me, and a friendly stonemason gave me several yards of statuary moulding: it must have cost originally about what I paid for my entire building.

It was a great pleasure to me to watch the fabric arise, which it did like the towers of Ilium, to music—the music of the thrushes and blackbirds and robins of our English landscape in the early summer when I began my operations—they lasted just on a fortnight—and the splendid colour-chorus of the borders. But what is a Temple on a hill without steps? and what are steps without piers, and what are piers without vases?

All came in due time. I found an excellent quarry not too far away, and from it I got several tons of stone that was easily shaped and squared, and there is very little art needed to deal efficiently with such monoliths as I had laid on the slope of the mound—the work occupied a man and his boy just three days. The source of the piers is my secret; but there they are with their stone vases to-day, and now from the marble seat of the temple, thickly overspread with cushions, one can overlook the parterres between the mound and the house, and feel no need for the sunk garden which is the ambition of such as must be on the crest of the latest wave of fashion.

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