With woods o'erhung, and shagg'd with mossy rocks, Whence on each hand the gushing waters play, And down the rough cascade white-dashing fall, Or gleam in lengthened vista through the trees.
THE delightful and captivating effects of water in landscapes of every description, are universally known and admitted. The boundless sea, the broad full river, the dashing noisy brook, and the limpid meandering rivulet, are all possessed of their peculiar charms; and when combined with scenes otherwise finely disposed and well wooded, they add a hundred fold to their beauty. The soft and trembling shadows of the surrounding trees and hills, as they fall upon a placid sheet of water — the brilliant light which the crystal surface reflects in pure sunshine, mirroring, too, at times in its resplendent bosom, all the cerulean depth and snowy whiteness of the overhanging sky, give it an almost magical effect in a beautiful landscape. The murmur of the babbling brook, that "In linked sweetness long drawn out," falls upon the ear in some quiet secluded spot, is inexpressibly soothing and delightful to the mind; and the deeper sound of the cascade that rushes, with an almost musical dash, over its bed of moss-covered rock, is one of the most fascinating of the many elements of enjoyment in a fine country seat. The simplest or the most monotonous view may be enlivened by the presence of water in any considerable quantity; and the most picturesque and striking landscape will, by its addition, receive a new charm, inexpressibly enhancing all its former interest. In short, as no place can be considered perfectly complete without either a water view or water upon its own grounds, wherever it does not so exist and can be easily formed by artificial means, no man will neglect to take advantage of so fine a source of embellishment as is this element in some of its varied forms.
"-Fleuves, ruisseaux, beaux lacs, claires fontaines,
Venez, portez partout la vie et la fraicheur?
Ah! qui peut remplacer votre aspect enchanteur?
De pres il nous amuse, et de loin nous invite:
C'est le premier qu'on cherche, et le dernier qu'on quitte.
Vous fecondez les champs; vous repetez les cieux;
Vous enchantez l'oreille, et vous charmez les yeux".
In this country, where the progress of gardening and improvements of this nature, is rather shown in a simple and moderate embellishment of a large number of villas and country seats, than by a lavish and profuse expenditure on a few entailed places, as in the residences of the English nobility, the formation of large pieces of water at great cost and extreme labor, would be considered both absurd and uncalled for. Indeed, when nature has so abundantly spread before us such an endless variety of superb lakes, rivers, and streams of every size and description, the efforts of man to rival her great works by mere imitation, would, in most cases, only become ludicrous by contrast.
When, however, a number of perpetual springs cluster together, or a rill, rivulet, or brook, runs through an estate in such a manner as easily to be improved or developed into an elegant expanse of water in any part of the grounds, we should not hesitate to take advantage of so fortunate a circumstance. Besides the additional beauty conferred upon the whole place by such an improvement, the proprietor may also derive an inducement from its utility; for the possession of a small lake, well stocked with carp, trout, pickerel, or any other of the excellent pond fish, which thrive and propagate extremely well in clear fresh water, is a real advantage which no one will undervalue.
There is no department of Landscape Gardening which appears to have been less understood in this country than the management of water. Although there have not been many attempts made in this way, yet the occasional efforts that have been put forth in various parts of the country, in the shape of square, circular, and oblong pools of water, indicate a state of knowledge extremely meagre, in the art of Landscape Gardening. The highest scale to which these pieces of water rise in our estimation is that of respectable horse-ponds; beautiful objects they certainly are not. They are generally round or square, with perfectly smooth, flat banks on every side, and resemble a huge basin set down in the middle of a green lawn.
Lakes or ponds are the most beautiful forms in which water can be displayed in the grounds of a country residence. They invariably produce their most pleasing effects when they are below the level of the house; as, if above, they are lost to the view, and if placed on a level with the eye, they are seen to much less advantage. We conceive that they should never be introduced where they do not naturally exist, except with the concurrence of the following circumstances. First, a sufficient quantity of running water to maintain at all times an overflow, for nothing can be more unpleasant than a stagnant pool, as nothing is more delightful than pure, clear, limpid water; and secondly, some natural formation of ground, in which the proposed water can be expanded, that will not only make it appear natural, but diminish, a hundred fold, the expense of formation.
The finest and most appropriate place to form a lake, is in the bottom of a small valley, rather broad in proportion to its length. The soil there will probably be found rather clayey and retentive of moisture; and the rill or brook, if not already running through it, could doubtless be easily diverted thither. There, by damming up the lower part of the valley with a head of greater or less height, the water may be thrown back so as to form the whole body of the lake.
The first subject which will demand the attention, after the spot has been selected for the lake or pond, and the height of the head and consequent depth of water determined upon, is the proposed form or outline of the whole. And, as we have already rejected all regular and geometric forms, in scenes where either natural or picturesque beauty is supposed to predominate, we must turn our attention to examples for imitation in another direction.