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ON the commencement of the second volume of the NORTHERN STAR, the Editors have a large debt of gratitude to discharge to those Correspondents who have so liberally contributed to its support and respectability; and in respectfully but earnestly requesting the continuance of public favour and patronage, they pledge themselves to spare no exertions that may be likely to render their Magazine still more acceptable to the friends of literature. They are enabled, without presumption, to promise to the readers of the Yorkshire Magazine a still more liberal supply and variety of interesting articles than have hitherto appeared on its pages.
They are particularly anxious to acknowledge their obligations to Mr. Bigland, Mr. Law, and to those correspondents who have contributed under the signatures of R.J. M.-J. B.- Ineptus-X.-K.- Koinos-F. R. S.- Angus-P. H.-Felix-J. H.-Euphrastus, and Mr.W***w****t,—also to the authors of the Remarks on Quackery and History of the Iron Trade; and hope that they will continue to give us the fruits of their occasional leisure.
We are very sorry that Angus' Lines on Shakspeare have been mislaid, and hope that he will not think it too much trouble to favour us with a second copy.
Mrs Hofland has our best thanks for her good wishes, and her very acceptable favour. We hope, for the future, that nothing will impede our correspondence.
The little poem entitled “The Kiss of Beauty" is acceptable, and shall appear next month.
The paper on Doncaster, the Mountaineer (for which we are obliged) a further account of Fountains Abbey,-and various other articles, were unavoidably deferred to our next.
A Solution of Questio Obscura,-Lignum,-a paper on the age of Homer, a table of English battles,-the latitudes, longitudes, population, &c. of the towns and villages of Derbyshire, Ditto of the towns in the West-Riding of Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire --the Snow-Drop-Nottinghamshire rivers-Conjectures concerning the river Niger
- a paper on the strength of timbers,- on the lengths of pendulums, &c.—a poem from Leeds-translations of Petrarch—and other communications, have been received.
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THE NORTHERN STAR.
No. 8.---For JANUARY, 1818.
Picturesque Scenery, Topography, &c.
PICTURESQUE DESCRIPTION OF FOUNTAINS ABBEY, NEAR RIPON. By WM. GILPIN, A. M.*
WE are desirous of presenting to our readers as full and complete an account of this celebrated and much-admired ruin and its appendages, as possible. We judge it more eligible to give the picturesque description of it first. It is presumed, those of our readers who are not yet acquainted with the excellent work of GILPIN on Picturesque Scenery, will be gratified by the perusal of his description of Fountains. This Abbey ad
joins the garden of STUDLEY ROYAL.
THE most improved part of the gardens at Studley, and what is chiefly shown to strangers, is a valley, nearly circular, surrounded by high woody grounds, which slope gently into it in various directions. The circumference of the higher grounds includes about one hundred and fifty acres; the area, at the bottom, consists of eight. The higher parts present many openings into the country. The lower, of course, are more confined; bat might afford many pleasing woody scenes and solitary retreats. A considerable stream runs through the valley; and on the banks of this stream, in another valley, contiguous to the circular one, stand the ruins of Fountains Abbey; the grandest, and the most beautiful, except perhaps those of Glastonbury, which the kingdom can produce.
The idea which such valleys naturally suggest, is that of retirement---the habitation of cheerful solitude. Every object points it out; all tending to soothe and amuse; but not to transport, like the great scenes of
Sometimes indeed the recluse may be more enamoured of the great scenes of nature, and wish to fix his abode, where his eye may be continually presented with sublime ideas. But in general, we observe (from the
* Author of "Observations relative chiefly to Picturesque Beauty, made in the year 1772, on several parts of England, particularly the Mountains and Lakes of Cumberland and Westmoreland."
+ Some account of the history and antiquities of this ruin will be given in our next. It must here be remarked, that it is by no means astonishing that artists, antiquaries, and those who make tours" in search of the Picturesque," and who enter deeply into their several pursuits, should be offended by the total want of taste, which is manifested in transforming the remains of antique structures, which lie in ruinous perfection," into spruce cottages, or modern mansions. The straight lines which are found amongst the appendages of a villa of the nineteenth century, and the mathematical accuracy of modern horticulturists, ill harmonize with their notions of beauty. Suffice it to say, that the remarks which will be found in GILPIN on the owner of Fountains Abbey, do not apply to the present possessor.-ED.
whole history of monastic life) that he wishes rather to sequester himself in some tranquil scene; and this in particular was chosen as a quiet recess, consecrated to retirement.
Solitude therefore being the reigning idea of the place, every accompaniment should tend to impress it. The ruins of the abbey, which is the great object, certainly do. The river and the paths should wind carelessly through the lawns and woods, with little decoration. Buildings should be sparingly introduced; those which appear, should be as simple as possible--the mere retreats of solitude. The scene allows no more; and the neighbourhood of so noble a ruin renders every other decoration, in the way of building, either trivial or offensive.
Instead of these ideas, which the valley of Studley naturally suggest, the whole is a vain ostentation of expense; a mere Timon's villa; decorated by a taste debauched in its conception, and puerile in its execution. Not only the reigning idea of the place is forgotten, but all the great master-strokes of nature, in every shape, are effaced. Every part is touched and retouched with the insipid sedulity of a Dutch master:
Labor improbus omnia vincit !
What a lovely scene might a person of pure taste have made at Studley, with one-tenth part of the expense which hath been laid out in deforming it.
Fresh shadows fit to shroud from sunny rays,
Sweet springs, in which a thousand nymphs did play ;
Such might have been the scenes of Studley; but such is the whimsical channel of human operations, that we sometimes see the pencil of Reubens employed on a country wake; and that of Teniers disgracing the nuptials of an emperor.
The valley, in which Fountains abbey stands, is not of larger dimensions than the other we have just described: but instead of the circular form, it winds (in a more beautiful proportion) into length. Its sides are composed of woody hills sloping down in varied declivities; and uniting with the trees at the bottom, which adorn the river.
At one end of this valley stand the ruins of the abbey, which formerly overspread a large space of ground. Besides the grand remains of ruin, there appeared in various parts, among the trees and bushes, detached fragments which were once the appendages of this great house. One of these, which was much admired, seemed evidently to have been a court of justice.
Such was the general idea of this beautiful valley, and of the ruins which adorned it, before they fell into the hands of the present proprietor. Long had he wished to draw them within the circle of his improvements: but some difficulties of the law withstood. At length they were removed; and the time came (which every lover of picturesque beauty must lament) when the legal possession of this beautiful scene was yielded to him; and his busy hands were let loose upon it.