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NEW FOUNDLING HOSPITAL
AN HEROICIPISTLE TO SIR WILLIAM CHAMBERS
KNIGHT, COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF HIS MAJESTY'S
Non omnes arbusta juvant, humilefque myricæ. Viaci
And • Readers of the present generation are fo very inattentive to what they read, that it is probable, one half of Sir William's may have forgotten the principles which his book inculcates, Vol. II.
And spread their luftre in so broad a blaze,
5 That kings themselves are dazzled, while they gaze.
Let there, then, be reminded, that it is the author's profeft aim in extolling the taste of the Chinese, to condemn that mean and paltry manner which Kent introduced, which Southcote, Hamilton, and Brown followed, and which, to our national disgrace, is called the English style of gardening. He shews the poverty of this taste, by aptly comparing it to a dinner, which consisted of three gross pieces, three times repeated ; to a demonstration, that Nature herself is incapable of pleasing, without the assistance of Art, and that too of the most luxuriant kind. In fhort, such art as is displayed in the Emperor's garden of Yven- Ming-Yven, near Pekin; where fine lizards , and fine women, human giants, and giant baboons, make but a small part of the superb scenery. He teaches us, that a per. fect garden must contain within itself all the amusements of a great city; that URBS IN RURE, not RUS IN URBE, is the thing, which an improver of true taste ought to aim at. He says—but it is impossible to abridge all that he says;- Let this therefore suffice to tempt the reader again to peruse his inva. luable Differtation, since without it, he will never relish half the beauties of the following epiftle; for (if her Majesty's Zebra, and the powder-mills at Hounslow be excepted) there is scarce a single image in it, which is not taken from that work.
'But tho' the images be borrowed, the author claims fome small merit from his application of them. Sir William says too modestly, “ that European artists must not hope to rival Oriental splendor,” The poet shews, that European artists may
O let the Muse attend thy march sublime,
eafily rival it; and, that Richmond gardens, with only the addition of a new bridge to join them to Brentford, may be new modelled, perfectly “ à la Chinois.” He exhorts his Knight to undertake the glorious task, and leaves no cause to doubt, but that, under the auspicious patronage he now fo juftly enjoys, added to the READY vote of those who furnish ways and means, the royal work will speedily be compleated.
Verse 2. Cynosure of British taste.] Cynosure, an affected phrase. Cynosura is the conftellation of Ursa Minor, or the Lesser Bear, the next star to the Pole. Dr. Newton, on the word in Milton.
Verse 10. With scenes of Yven-Ming.) One of the Impea rial gardens at Pekin. (Sayings of Li-Tsong.) trees, shrubs, and flowers,” sayeth Li-Tsong, a Chinese author of great antiquity, “ thrive best in low, moist situations ; many on hills and mountains ; some require a rich foil : but others will grow on clay, in sand, or even upon rocks, and in the water ; to some a funny exposition is necessary; but for others the shade is preferable. There are plants which thrive best in exposed situations, but, in general, shelter is' requisite. The skilful gardener, to whom study and experience have taught these qualities, carefully attends to them in his operations ; knowing that thereon depend the health and growth of his plants ; and consequently the beauty of his plantations." Vide Dill. p. 77. The reader, I presume, will readily allow, that he never met with so much recondite truth, as this antient Chinese here exhibits:
Like thee to scorn Dame Nature's fimple fence;
Verse 34. Truth at Court.) Vide (if it be extant) a poem under this title, for which (or for the publication of Lord Bolingbroke's philosophical writings) the person here mentioned
There was a time, “ in Ether's peaceful grove,
35 * When Kent and Nature vy'd for Pelham's love, That Pope beheld them with auspicious smile, And own'd that Beauty bleft their mutual toil. Mistaken Bard ! could such a pair design Scenes fit to live in thy immortal line? Hadft thou been born in this enlighten'd day, -Felt, as we feel, Taste's oriental ray, Thy fatire sure had given them both a stab, Callid Kent a Driveller, and the Nymph à Drab. For what is Nature ? Ring her changes round, 45 Her three flat notes are water, plants, and ground;
Prolong received a considerable penfion in the time of Lord B-te's adniniftration,
Verse 45. For what is Nature ?) This is the great and fundamental axiom, on which the oriental taste is founded. It is therefore expressed here with the greatest precision, and in the identical phrase of the great original. The figurative terms, and even the explanatory fimile, are entirely bor. rowed from Sir William's Differtation.
"NATURE (says the Chinese, or Sir William for them) affords us but few ma. terials to work with. Plants, ground, and water, are her only productions; and, though both the forms and arrangements of these may be varied to an incredible degree, yet have they but few striking varieties, the rest being of the nature of “ changes rung upon bells," which, though in reality dif. ferent, ftill produce the same uniform kind of jingling ; the variation being too minute to be easily perceived,” “ ART