網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

for the last three seasons, I think may be acceptable to at least some of your readers. The last three summers have been so different in temperature and moisture, that I think I may reasonably conclude the change of season will not affect my plan. I do not mean to dictate to any one the precise time for sowing their melon seed, making their beds, or planting their plants ; all this must depend on the circumstances under which they are placed, for, if I were differently situated, I should very likely be obliged to vary somewhat as to time, &c. ; but my object is to show that a good crop of melons may be obtained, with greater certainty, at a less expense than is generally supposed, and of superior flavour. As regards the latter you can speak from experience, from one sent you late in the season. (See J. B. in p. 84.] As regards the quantity, owing to the state of my health last autumn, I could not attend to the cutting of them myself, and therefore a strict account was not kept ; but generally not less than ten to a light are produced. As to the expense, some may think it no object where they have plenty of soil and a convenient cart road into the melon ground, but not so with those who have not soil, nor are allowed to purchase it, or who have but few hands, and a long distance to wheel ; to such the expense and labour form an object of importance.

Having plants in readiness, I proceeded last year to make my beds on the 30th of June. The materials consisted of leaves which had lain in the melon ground since the autumn, some old dung from pit linings, in a mouldy, not wet rotten state, and some fresh long dung to make up the deficiency. I do not like the dung to be sufficiently wet at this time of the year to cause it to rot and become solid, as it will then be of little use in the autumn, when its assistance will be more required. With the above kind of materials the bed was made, without any regard to their being sweet. In making all kinds of dung beds, my practice is to have the ground they stand on much lower in the middle than on the sides, and, where necessary, to have a drain underneath the whole length. I then build them up, and finish the top in the same form, as I find they are not so liable to fall at the sides, splitting the soil of the bed, breaking the roots of the plants, and rendering it necessary frequently to raise the frames. The beds being made for our present purpose about 3 ft. high, I immediately put on the frames, each light being about 4 ft. 2 in. wide, and 6 ft. 5 in. long. In consequence of the green dung used in the beds, they will of course heat very rapidly, and, owing to the power of the sun at this season of the year, the heat in the frame will be very great; and by keeping it shut up for some days every insect must perish, and the beds will have heated themselves into such a dry state that there will be no danger of overheating afterwards. When the heat has sufficiently subsided to render it safe to put in the soil, the frames are taken off and the beds regulated, still keeping them hollow along the middle. A ridge of the best loam in a rough state is then laid along the middle, and pressed firm, about 15 in. deep, and about as wide on the top, drawing what rolls down all over the bed, so as scarcely to hide the dung, more for the sake of making it level enough to set pots on than any thing else. If there is any danger of wire worms in the soil, I find it a good plan to place some potatoes where the plant or plants are to go. Sometimes I put one plant, sometimes two. When the earth is warm enough, let the plant or plants be placed under the middle of each light, and one shoot be trained towards the back, one towards the front, and one each way along the ridge, stopping them when they reach the frame, or under the bar between the lights. Let the potatoes still remain planted all round the plants, as they will almost always attract the wire wornis ; and as they will show, by growing, where they are, they may be taken out and examined, till the soil is cleared of them; at least I have never known it fail. Before the frames get crowded, add about 3 in. more soil all along the sides of the ridge, and press it firm ; but add no more all the summer, and let the plants fall down as they extend, and cover the dung in front of and behind the ridge.

Perhaps some may think it would be better to fill the frame with soil, but

from such I must beg leave to differ, and for this reason. For several years I was taught to believe that, in order to have good melons, it was necessary to watch the roots in their progress through the hills, after each earthing, till the frames were filled with soil; and many a time have I had to place fresh layers and beat it firm, and at last, when full, to get in and tread it firm, thereby rendering it so hard that the portion of water allowed could not get down, and the little heat remaining by the time the earthing was done could not get up ; the consequence of which was, that the atmosphere at top must be cold and damp, and very unlikely to produce a good crop of melons : but my present plan will be free from these objections, as, by leaving the space in front and back of the frame uncovered, there will always be a warm moist atmosphere produced, so long as watering is necessary; and when the cold nights and gloomy days of autumn come on, the dung of which the beds are composed having become dry will, if linings are necessary, afford a warm dry atmosphere to ripen the fruit. But perhaps some one will be ready to say, Will not the dry mouldy kind of dung very much barbour insects which will eat the melons, especially such as are commonly known by the name of sow bugs ? To this I reply, I have never been injured by them to any extent ; for, if I find many of them in the frames, I merely put a little hay into a few flower-pots, turn them upside down, sprinkle the frame round, and next morning, soon after uncovering, examine the pots, when most of them will be found concealed above the dry hay in the pot. There should never be sufficient hay in the pot for any portion of it to touch the bed, otherwise the insects will remain on the dung in. stead of climbing the pots. But, in order more safely to guard against these depredators, my plan is, after a melon is set, to raise it on a flower-pot inverted, with a piece of glass on the top, larger than the flower-pot, so that if they crawl up to the glass they will crawl down again, instead of continuing their course on the under side of the glass, which is the only way they can get to the fruit, except by the stem on which it grows, and being a considerable distance from the ground I never knew them succeed by this route.

I believe I bave now stated all that is necessary, except that I had melons from these beds from August till late in November, and that I never prune melon plants if possible to avoid it, as I have often seen a good crop spoiled by it ; and, if melons are kept continually swelling in succession, the plants will generally have enough to do to support them, without producing too much vine.

Middlesex, April, 1843.

REVIEWS.

Art. I. The Country House (with Designs). Edited by Lady Mary

Fox. 4to, pp. 65, with 5 lithographic plates, and many vignette

woodcuts. London, 1843. Tae idea of this book is good. A gentleman is about to build a house, and he enters previously into the discussion of the subject with his architect, who residing at a distance, the discussion is naturally carried on by letter. The letters of the gentleman intending to build are signed H. B. (understood to be Henry Bellenden Ker), and the architect is M. de Châteauneuf of Hamburg, the author of Architectura Domestica (reviewed in our Volume for 1839, p. 703.). In addition to the letters of the architect and ais supposed employer, there is a valuable one by Mr. Eastlake, the eminent artist, on the principles of interior decoration. We shall endeavour to abstract what we

consider as bearing on general principles, and afterwards give our opinion of the design.

In Letter I. the employer states that he consults the foreign architect from great respect for his talents, and because he is not likely to be so much wedded to the routine of modern Italian villas, Elizabethan houses, and thatched cottages, as is the case with most of our English professors." He next hints at the sort of house he wants, and gives a short description of the proposed site. “ With respect to the offices,” he says, “ I think we make a great mistake in England, as we manage to hide them, and lose all the benefit of increasing the size and importance of the house by these additions." This remark may have been applicable thirty or forty years ago, but no architect of the present day thinks of concealing the offices of a country house, unless under very peculiar circumstances. In Price's Essay on Architecture and Buildings, published in 1798, the following passage occurs :“Much of the naked solitary appearance of houses is owing to the practice of totally concealing, nay, sometimes of burying, all the offices under ground, and that by way of giving consequence to the mansion ; but though exceptions may arise from particular situations and circumstances, yet, in general

, nothing contributes so much to give both variety and consequence to the principal building, as the accompaniment, and, as it were, the attendance, of the inferior parts in their different gradations.” (Price on the Picturesque, edit. 1798, vol. ii. p. 215.).

In Letter II. the architect observes that sixty years ago no one would have thought of proposing to an architect to consider what style was most suitable for the intended situation and purpose. Every architect then, he says, adopted the style in general use, modified by his own particular views of that style. When the Italian mode was prevalent, no architect would have ventured to introduce the Gothic, &c.; but now we recognise and adopt various styles indiscriminately. “We seem to be of opinion that variety of character is attainable only by variety of style," and hence our museums are Grecian, our churches Gothic, and so on. "" The adoption of a style previously discarded, though it may suit the vitiated taste of the artist, yet it can never be pleasing to a really cultivated taste.” (p. 6.) The contrary of this principle is so obvious, that we think there must be some mistake in the translation ; indeed, there is much in this letter that is obscure. Was not the Grecian style itself at one period discarded ? The following, however, is good. " The most perfect architectural style is that which admits at the same time of a refined style, both of sculpture and painting." "Sculpture and painting,” M. de Châteauneuf observes, “ are the daughters of architecture, not, as is commonly said, the sisters; and it is only in the Italian style of the 15th century, that we meet with all the three arts growing up to completeness together.” (p. 7.) The Greek style as modified in the Italian is what the architect proposes to adopt; "but, at the same time, with a reserved right to the free use of those modes and motives with which later European architecture supplies us. If a determinate name must be given to the style, I propose to call it the Renaissance style of the 19th century."

To the admirers of Gothic architecture he says, “ If you can introduce modern sculpture and painting into Gothic architecture, without prejudice to them or it, I will say that you have attained a great end." In answer to those who imagine that he intends to produce a medley of Grecian and Gothic, he has the following excellent passage : “ You misunderstand or pervert my meaning. I have not spoken of a merely mixing up of different styles, but of compounding them together ; between which two processes there is, I conceive, a wide difference, the ingredients being merely put together in the one case, without losing their respective qualities; while in the other they amalgamate with each other, and produce an entirely new combination ; and it is in accomplishing combinations of this kind that the power of genuine art manifests itself ; and the distinction may be likened to ihe difference between a mechanical and a chemical combination." (p. 9.)

Letter III. - In this letter, as well as in his first, the employer shows a predilection for the comforts of the Elizabethan style, but admits the merits of the classical style in the abstract, and more especially as adapted for displaying sculpture and painting. He endeavours to ridicule the works of modern English architects. “Show me a Palladian villa,” he says, “a mile off, and I could draw you the plan of the inside at once. Indeed, I could walk blindfolded into the drawingroom, dining-room, library, and boudoir, and go up to bed in the best bed-room, without a guide or a light.”

In Letter IV. the architect makes some further observations on style. “ The Elizabethan style is only one of the links of a progressive series of attempts to appropriate and adapt the elements of the Grecian style to modern purposes. You must, therefore, admit that architecture, which is capable of producing independent works out of its own resources, and from its own principles, is degraded to what is little better than mere decoration and scene-painting, when (apprehensive of falling into contradiction and want of harmony, unless it retains all the individual particulars of extant examples,) it timidly strives to imitate the dialect of a single province. How short a time, however, must the impression produced by such mummery last, and how long the impression of a work of architecture is destined to remain! Is it because we are ashamed of or mistrust the results of our own study and conviction, that we venture to exhibit ourselves to posterity, merely as the copyists of examples the repute of which is already established, and which may be learnt and repeated by rote ? At various periods, men have shown themselves either barbarous or puerile in their notions on art ; yet never till now such slavish copyists, such mere plagiarists, such mocking-birds in style. You may judge by this sally in what an ill humour I am, at finding that you would shut me up in a cage and there make me sing. If you examine your Elizabethan architecture with some little critical attention, you will hardly fail to perceive that, with all its richness of expression, the elementary sounds are no more harmonious than the crowing of a cock, or the braying of

All this concerns merely the style, as style ; for, in other respects, we often meet with much (in the Elizabethan styles that deserves praise ; convenient arrangement and contrivance, striking effect, and much cleverness of construction and execution, although, so far from being pure or refined, the taste displayed may be decidedly vulgar and coarse. I freely confess that the merits I have just mentioned were retained in the architecture of the North of Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries. I say retained, because the Gothic style that was then abandoned had been treated with masterly skill, and showed disciplined artificers in all that belongs to mechanical execution; consequently, the ability thus produced had only to employ itself upon a fresh task.” (p. 18.)

With respect to the suitableness of the Greek style for modern purposes, our architect observes: “ If we allow that, as far as it procceded, Grecian architecture is stamped by perfect beauty, it is of little moment to our argu. ment whether it was so comprehensive as it might have been, and had sufficiently developed itself for those purposes which we now more especially require, since the perfection it did actually attain in the direction it took ought to be sufficient to inspire the artist. It was not necessary that the latter should surrender up the freedom belonging to him as such, and confine himself to following Grecian motives and intentions. In fact, the peculiar charms, or the grace and freshness, of Grecian architecture become withered, as soon as we begin to treat it according to dry systematic rules. The Vitruvius capable of legislating for it according to its genius and true spirit, perhaps is not yet born.” (p. 19.)

In conclusion he observes, with respect to the style which he means to adopt for H. B.'s country house: “ I do not mean to be confined either to a servile imitation of a pure Pompeian house'; or to be tied down to repeat your Elizabethan architecture, or the Gothic of Germany or England. Nor

an ass.

its character as a wall; and, therefore, the boundaries of the panels ought neither to extend to the angles nor the ceiling, but leave enough at these places to show that the paintings only covered compartments, and were intended to ornament the wall, not to conceal it.

Dining-rooms, “ strictly so called and employed, are generally unadorned with pictures: this hardly seems necessary. In theory, we may admit that subjects requiring some contemplation would be out of place in a room exclusively devoted to the table’; but portraits of celebrated individuals, and landscapes, although they cannot be duly examined in such moments, may convey associations, to which the spectator, even if not particularly conversant in pictures, is supposed to be alive at all times. "Portraits of the class alluded to, as historic texts, are connected with time ; and landscape, especially if founded on actual scenes, suggests the conditions of place. A room used for the purpose in question, and for nothing else, is, however, not the place where fine works of art should be bestowed; and I incline to think that this is the fittest field for small frescoes and arabesques. This, in short, is one of the occasions to please the eye and the imagination only. Accordingly, in the mode proposed, no definite idea is presented to the mind, but an idea of elegant and festive splendour surrounds the guests. There should, however, be endless variety ; scarcely a form should be repeated in the details, although an architectural symmetry is, as usual, to be preserved in the masses.” (p. 57.)

The Breakfast-room. Where a family betake themselves to particular rooms at stated hours, it may be allowable to decorate and furnish these rooms in such a manner as to insure a marked and agreeable variety of character. The morning has its own feelings, even for those whom affluence frees from any kind of labour. The purposes of the day are unfinished ; every thing is contingent. Under such circumstances, the character or subject of pictures is to be adapted to the mind, not the mind to the subject. The open face of nature, by sea and land, may here enliven the walls, and agree with the excursive feelings of the hour. The chase and its incidents may here triumph. The English pastoral is here strictly in its place. Solemn themes, solemn effects, should not be admitted ; while all that responds to buoyancy of spirit would, on the contrary, be appropriate. It need not be gravely objected, that accidental, or even average, states of feeling may be little in unison with the impressions which the arts profess to give ; for the same objection is frequently applicable to all of the accompaniments of civilised life, nay, to the beauties of nature, which so often appeal even to cultivated human sympathies in vain. The occasional contradiction is unavoidable where, of two conditions, one is permanent, the other mutable.” (p.58.)

Corridors and Conservatories. Corridors not furnished with pictures, and garden pavilions, may be decorated with arabesques ; but not so conservatories

, where the conventional forms and tints of art would contend injudiciously with nature.

Frescoes are not adapted for sitting-rooms, because in general they require to be of a large size, and, being fixed, they cannot afford that variety which is produced by a number of small pictures, which may be changed at pleasure.

The Library In libraries pictures of extensive interest divert the attention from the business of the place; but portraits may be admitted, and the library is the proper place for cabinets of gems and medals, collections of engravings, terra-cottas, &c. “ I prefer a library without coloured decorations ; the wood-work may be carved in flat relief, even to the panels of the walls; a mode of decoration now beautifully supplied by embossed leather, which need not be dark in colour. Whatever colour appears, except in the portraits

, miniatures, or illuminations, hung around, should be in the books; these should strike the eye, and be, so to speak, in the foreground of the picture. Vases or busts may surmount the cases.

"I see no objection even to inscribing both the subject and the name of the master under works of art generally; a volume bears its title and author's

« 上一頁繼續 »