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pipe was for ever floating, like another atmosphere, over the vales and streams of Arcady, or waking the dim echoes that lived, like invisible spirits, among the hills and groves of Thessalian Tempe.--.“I wonder whether one could be out of temper amidst such scenes as these!" said a dear friend to me, as we were gliding along on one of the Italian lakes. Such is another of the feelings called forth by the scene we are now contemplating. Here, the passions which are roused, if not engendered, by a too artificial state of society, are hushed into a deep slumber, and permitted at least to dream that they are at peace.
I find that, if I would confine my notice of Blenheim within any ordinary limits, and would at the same time let it include the interior of the palace, and the gardens and pleasure-grounds, which latter form a very interesting feature of the spot; I must not allow myself to wander much longer in this public part of the domain. I say "public," for one chief moral beauty of Blenheim Park is, that it belongs as much to the public as it does to the nominal proprietor: it is, in fact, a truly national possession—a treasure of which happily no individual carelessness or caprice can ever deprive us. I shall, therefore, avoid any farther minute detail ; and shall, instead, advise the casual visitor of Blenheim Park, if he would see it to any adequate effect, merely to acquaint himself before-hand with the particular points of attraction, and their relative situations, and then find them out for himself; not be guided to them. If he chooses and has time to do this judiciously, I can promise him that a day or two spent in wandering through these vast solitudes will furnish him with recollections that shall last him all his life. Let him find out for himself as many new points of view as he can, and he may wander here for weeks, and not exhaust them; but let him not neglect to see, in particular, the magnificent coup-d'æil of the palace, gardens, lake, &c. &c. from the obelisk; the rich, various, and extensive one, including a vast field of external objects, from the High Lodge; and the site of the old palace, which is marked by two luxuriant sycamores, planted at the time the New Palace was erected and the ruins of the old one entirely
He will scarcely fail to salute this latter spot reverentially, when he remembers that here Alfred himself, the glory of our English annals, passed the little leisure he could steal from the cares of government, in studying and translating Boethius de Consolutione Philosophiæ. Let him also pay a visit to the spot called Rosamond's Spring ; if not from a conviction of the story being authentic which connects it with the romantic history of that unhappy beauty, yet for its own characteristic attractions. At the foot of a steep acclivity, darkened by the shade of an overhanging grove of beeches, firs, and chestnut-trees, and looking full upon the great lake, a little spring gushes forth from among stones, and breaks the deep silence with a
stilly sound," more hushing to the senses than silence itself. This is the only spot of the Park which can be said to possess an antique and romantic character ; and it is here, if we would indulge in visions of times past, that we must repair and sojourn. Finally, and above all, the explorer of the beauties of Blenheim Park must not neglect to pay " honour due” to the mighty oaks, some of them the growth of six hundred years, that form a stately forest on the outskirts of the domain. They are the crowning glory of the scene, and may almost be sup
posed to watch over it with a parental fondness, since the whole has grown from infancy to maturity beneath their ken ;-nay, since the loftiest beeches and elms that stud the surrounding slopes and plains, or crown the distant hills, and have seen the whole generation that lived at the planting of them pass from the face of the earth, are still but in their infancy in comparison of them.
If I conduct the reader to the interior of the palace, it will be chiefly to point out a few of the works of art which grace its walls ; for, with the exception of these, it offers nothing worthy of observation-nothing at all consistent with its external appearance, or with the scene of which it forms a part. With the exception of the library and the saloon, there is not a room that is otherwise than insignificant, both on account of size as well as ornaments. The library is a very noble room, supported on each side by a range of solid marble columns, and enriched with two individual objects of art worthy of particular attention-one ancient, and the other modern. I allude to a very fine and interesting bronze bust of Alexander, found at Herculaneum, and a gorgeously ornamented statue of Queen Anne in her coronation robes, by Reisbach, which furnishes a very characteristic notion of the state of the art at the time it was executed. But I am anticipating. I propose to point out a few of the finest works of art, as they occur in each room, in the order in which you are shewn through them.
The entrance hall, which, with the exception of the library and the saloon, is the only part of the interior that arrests attention, ascends to the whole height of the building. Its lofty marble columns and door-ways; its projecting gallery ; its indented niches, filled with statues ; and its richly painted ceiling ; produce a very noble effect.
In the first room, called the Study, or in the gallery leading to it, I am not certain which, there is an exquisite Holy Family, by Raphael, breathing forth all the sweet divinity of his matchless pencil. On entering the Breakfast-room, the eye is rivetted by a wonderful head by Titian. The little time they give you in each room cannot be better employed in this than in contemplating the above work exclusively. Titian could sometimes concentrate as much genius within the compass of a single head, as others, possessing almost as much genius as himself, would spread over a whole epic subject ; and he has done so in the present instance. In the Grand Cabinet we find several admirable pictures. The most conspicuous are Raphael's Dorothea, by himself; a most exquisite picture, by Carlo Dolce, of a Madona, the head encircled with stars; also an elegant Carlo Marat, and several admirable Rubens’s. The two pictures by C. Dolce and C. Marat are among the very best examples extant of the peculiar, and in some respects delightful, styles of those two artists. In the little Drawing-room the chief objects worthy of notice are an Altar-piece, by Raphael, and a fine Rembrandt over the door. The next room to the above contains Sir Joshua's fine family piece of the late Duke, the present Duchess, and their six children. Also a prodigiously fine portrait of Charles I. on a cream-coloured horse, by Vandyke. The Dining-room contains several admirable Rubens's; adequately to admire which, we must pass days instead of minutes before them, and fitly to describe which would require as many pages as I can allow them lines. I therefore pass them over by recommending them to the spectator's special attention. In the rooms which follow, the only work remaining upon my memory is one in the State Bed-room, a very striking picture of the Death of Seneca, by Lucca Giordano. The only objects worthy of particular notice in the Library are the two I have already named. The others are family portraits—most of them very indifferent.
The gardens and pleasure grounds of Blenheim are imagined and laid out in a taste finely consistent with that displayed in the rest of the scene, of which they form so interesting a portion. In that part of the domain, to which I have already introduced the reader, we have seen nature radiant with select, but almost entirely unadorned beauty. Here we shall find the same nature dressed in a gay and holiday robe, indeed, but all the ornaments of which are formed by her own hand. In fact, the only difference between the gardens and the park, to which they adjoin, consists in this,—that the one spot is arranged with a view to particular, and the other to general effect; that the one seeks to be admired, the other to be enjoyed ; that the one bids us stop every now and then to express the surprise and pleasure that we feel, while the other draws us imperceptibly on and on, wrapt in a vague and indistinct sentiment of delight, that we do not seek to express because we are satisfied to enjoy it. In other respects they are alike,-presenting the same gracefully undulating surface of hill and dale, covered with the same continuous turf; which latter, however, is in the gardens kept constantly “ smooth-shaven," and is broken every here and there by the flower-beds that rise out of it, like the party-coloured slashes in a Spanish vest, and by the solid gravel foot-paths that go windingly about through every part of it, “ never-ending, still beginning," like the veins on the neck of a youthful beauty.
Of the individual objects that enrich these lovely bowers, what I most admire are a certain kind of firs, which here attain a growth that is very rare in this country, or, I believe, in any other ; and which seems to be altogether dependent on the peculiar nature of the soil. In most other situations, the common spruce and silver firs, of which I speak, after they attain a certain age, gradually lose all their lower branches, getting barer and barer as they shoot upward, and frequently presenting nothing but a straight arrow-like shaft clothed with branches and leaves only on the upper half, and those thin, brown, and withering, except towards quite the top. But here the firs of the above species are the most beautiful individual objects I am acquainted with in the vegetable world. It is true, they present a somewhat set and artificial appearance, rising singly as they do in the form of immense dark green cones, perfectly regular and unbroken from top to bottom, and spreading out their rich feathery skirts, not over, but upon, the velvet turf. But this artificial appearance is any thing rather than out of place in a scene like this, where art should be at least as apparent as nature. A garden is a spot in which these two powers not only may, but should, contend with each other ; but the rivalship should be one of love, not of jealousy, in which each should seek to fulfil the wishes of the other. It should be exactly such a one as I could fancy to have actuated Nature in directing the growth of those beautiful trees to which I have alluded. She seems to have been offering an admiring
tribute to the power in whose domain she was working. These trees have as much the appearance of having been trained by art as a yewtree has when clipped into the form of a pyramid or a peacock; yet their growth is as purely natural and unassisted as that of an oak of the forest that has never been touched by the hand of man. I should think there must be something in the air as well as the soil of this spot peculiarly favourable to the growth of exotic evergreens of all kinds. Here are Portugal laurels more than double the size I have ever seen them elsewhere: one in particular measures more than eighty yards in circumference, and is in full blossom, and without a withered branch or leaf upon it. There is also a cedar of Lebanon of magnificent growth, and apparently in its prime, which is said to be more than six hundred years old. If it could speak, it might tell us tales of " Fair Rosamond” and her kingly lover-more a king in virtue of her love for him, than of his crown and sceptre. Near to this noble cedar (and, I think, nearly opposite to the South front of the palace, which offers, by the by, incomparably the finest view of it) stands an ilex which has attained the growth of a great forest oak. I recommend these trees to the especial attention of the visitor of Blenheim, as the most interesting individual objects he will find there. To me
“ For 'tis my creed that every plant
Enjoys the air it breathes," to me there is nothing in nature or art more impressive than these living beings, that have seen all the generations of the earth pass from off its surface over and over again, yet still seem in the prime and vigour of their days.
I find my limits compel me to part from the reader here, and leave him to discover for himself the rest of the charms of this matchless spot; and perhaps he will enjoy them more fully in meeting with them unexpectedly than in having them indicated to him beforehand. Indeed, my chief object in giving this sketch has been to recall the original to the memory of those who have visited it, and to induce others to see it, who go to Versailles and St. Cloud instead. Of all the ridiculous points in our national character, and we have not a few, the least accountable and the least excusable is that which impels us to run after distant beauty, merely because it is distant, to the neglect of that which is near us. Of the thousands of English who annually visit St. Peter's at Rome, not one half have ever seen their own St. Paul's, which is, upon the whole, a finer thing; not one out of every ten who make a journey to the Italian lakes have seen the English ones, which are at least as beautiful; and the very persons who would be ashamed of not having written their names in the Album at Chamouni, would as soon think of making a pilgrimage to the North Pole as to the Highlands of Scotland.
Abruptly leaving the visitor of Blenheim to luxuriate among the innumerable beauties that meet him at every turn; the temples and statues that peep from out embowering foliage; the waterfalls that, whether seen or not, steep his senses in sounds of pleasantness; the grand vistas, that open upon him every here and there, into the adjacent country, I shall conclude by mentioning to him, what is not very generally known or remembered, that, in exploring these splendid solitudes, he may chance to tread in the footsteps of old Chaucer himself; for here, in a house that adjoined the Woodstock entrance to the park, he lived and wrote—here he acquired some of that intense love for Nature which no one, before or since, ever felt in the degree that he did, or ever described the effects of with such inspired and impassioned truth.
The Biter Bit.
Laugh'd and grew fat, Time's gorgon visage braving ;
You'd think a Roman Capitol was saring.
Was fuller of his subject matter ;
Himself was infinitely fatter.
Than all the rest-brew'd at a christening
To pass it set his eyes a glistening;
Callid Tibbs, a simple-witted wight,
Whom Mister Dobson took delight
That all the rustic wags and wits
For their good hits;
Well, now, my lads, we'll all draw lots,
To fill the pots.”
The shortest into Tibbs's paw,
And Tibbs, obedient to the law,
Went down, the beverage to draw.
Over the cellar-door had slung