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perhaps putting to the severest test the practicability of admitting the public generally to places where costly articles are exposed. The test, however, has been fairly applied, and the result is in every way satisfactory; it is, as the Director properly remarks, " peculiarly gratifying to know that the privilege has been rarely abused "—while "in the few cases of an opposite line of conduct the consequent detection has proved its own punishment."
Although the exotics are collected in the stoves and houses, the garden, which is admirably laid out, is itself filled with both choice and beautiful plants. One part deserves to be particularly noticed—the British Garden, "which is wholly occupied by indigenous species, named and arranged according to the natural orders." Such collections of native products are exceedingly interesting and instructive. When will the British Museum have a space set apart for British Fauna? When will there be even a room devoted to British birds in that vast and bewildering collection?
The Botanic Gardens are throughout the year open freely every day (except Sundays), from one o'clock till six. The pleasure-grounds belonging to Kew House—the part which contained Chambers's temples, with a portion of Richmond Old Park, are only open on Thursdays and Sundays, from Midsummer to Michaelmas. Both are well worth visiting. The Botanic Gardens will afford a rare treat to any one who takes the smallest interest in the productions of nature. A few hours may be spent in them with as much profit as pleasure.
Kew House was pulled down by command of George III. in 1789. The small antique-looking red-brick building, which will be noticed soon after leaving the first conservatory, was that occupied by the king and his family, who were very fond of Kew. It is now commonly called Kew Palace; but the structure that was to have borne that name was quite a different building. About the beginning of the present century, a new palace was commenced in these grounds, close by the river side. It was intended to be a castellated building; the architect was Wyatt. But though Kew Palace was begun, it was never completed; after standing awhile as a mere shell, it was pulled down. An engraving of it may be seen in the first volume of Lysons' 'Environs,' which it may be worth while to refer to, as it will go far to remove any regret for the fate of the unhappy edifice.
Kew is a little, quiet, clean village; the houses are mostly gathered round the Green, in the centre of which stands the church. On this Green Sir Peter Lely had a house, but it was long ago pulled down. The church has little to attract attention; but there are some monuments that require a word of notice. One is to the memory of Meyer, the celebrated miniature and enamel painter of the last century. In the churchyard, on the south side, is a flat stone in memory of Joshua Kirby, well known by his work on Perspective. Along side of this is another plain slab, which marks the grave of Gainsborough, who, though a frequent visitor, did not reside at Kew; it. was by his own desire, however, that he was buried here, alongside his friend Kirby. The stone merely bears his name, with the dates of his birth and death; not even the Academic initials are added to denote that the "Thomas Gainsborough, Esq.," who lies here, is the great painter. It was hardly needed; yet it might be wished that his grave were distinguished by some more worthy memorial.
The name of Gainsborough is one of the greatest in English art. He was the first really original English landscape-painter. Before his time, landscape-painting was in this country either a formal and tasteless " view" of a place, or a feeble conventional imitation of the manner of the great masters of the earlier schools. It is to Gainsborough that (he credit is due of a bold return to the study of nature. With him landscape-painting was a passion. He pursued it with ardour in his earliest youth ; it was the business and the enjoyment of his life; and the last words he uttered had reference to it. Untrammelled by authority, he found a way for himself, and though his pictures fell far short of the highest excellence, they are all of them honest manly delineations of their several objects. But they are not mere copies of certain places or things. Every one is stamped with that mental seal which genius puts on all its productions. Whatever be the subject, it is imbued with feeling and sentiment. He selected an ordinary theme, and elevates it into poetry. Loftiness of conception, masculine breadth and simplicity of treatment, richness, depth and glow of colour, are the characteristics of all his better works. He was the grandest colourist that, in this country at least, ever painted landscape. The dash and vigour of his pencilling sometimes led him into mannerism; but that was only for a time. If ever the name of Gainsborough comes to be spoken of slightingly, it will be an ill omen for British art. Our admirable living landscape-painters have adopted an entirely different system to his; and their works are of indisputable excellence ;—difference of course does not imply inferiority, but it may be doubted whether the tendency to minute detail is not a greater fault in a master than his somewhat too daring disregard ofit.
The collection of irregular dirty-looking houses which border the Thames just below Kew Bridge is Strand-on-the-Green, a hamlet of Chiswick. It chiefly consists of malting-houses, barge-builders' sheds, and hovels for boatmen, fishermen, and field labourers; but there are a few houses of a better class. Zoffany, the well-known painter, had a house here; and here lived Joe Miller, of jocular celebrity, whose little volume of jests (not his own gathering, by the way) has been indeed "the fruitful parent of a hundred more." Miller has had many an 'Old Joe' affiliated upon him, that was in being centuries before he was born; and many another has been laid at a different door, of which he was doubtless the real parent. The family, true and supposititious, is now so large, that there is little chance of his name perishing while the English language lasts.'
Mortlake, on the Surrey side, is the next village we arrive at. It consists of wharfs, malt-kilns, and a street of small houses and shops. There are, however, about the parish some of those old redbrick mansions that always have such a comfortable substantial appearance. Among its eminent inhabitants, it boasts of having had Oliver Cromwell —but there is only the village tradition to support the boast. The house which he is said to have occupied was in the last century the residence of Colson, to whose munificence Bristol is so much indebted.
The most remarkable of the inhabitants of Mortlake is the Doctor Dee whose reputation for dealing with spirits stood so high in the reign of Elizabeth, and whose actual occupation has been to some extent a puzzle ever since. His various adventures at home and abroad would make a curious story— but having spent so much time in talking over one of the class already, we must not dally long with another. Yet Dee was altogether a very superior person to Lilly. He was a man of learning and ability, and there is no reason to suppose that he engaged in such questionable practices as those by which Lilly acquired his wealth. It has been conjectured that he was employed by Elizabeth as a political agent or spy; and that his strange pursuits with Kelly in Germany were but a feint to cover his real employment. The regard with which he was treated by Elizabeth and her ministers, at this time and after his return, and the money and appointments he received, as well as various other circumstances, strengthen the supposition. Lilly—who was well qualified to judge— says plainly he was "the queen's secret intelligencer," and that "he was the most ambitious person living, and most desirous of fame and renown." He probably was employed in secret services by the government, but he was nevertheless certainly a student and practitioner of the occult sciences. It appears, too, that he was a believer in the possibility of transmutation. A strange story is told by his biographers, and was repeated by his son, Dr. Arthur Dee, (a native of Mortlake, and therefore the propereat person to be quoted here,) who lived in