Does any one, familiar with the progress of building in the United States for the last ten years, desire to be told which mode we have followed? And yet, there are very few who are aware that our love of folding-doors, and suites of apartments, is essentially French.
Now our national taste in gardening and outdoor employments, is just in the process of formation. Honestly and ardently believing that the loveliest and best women in the world are those of our own country, we cannot think of their losing so much of their own and nature's bloom, as only to enjoy their gardens by the results, like the French, rather than through the development, like the English. We would gladly show them how much they lose. We would convince them, that only to pluck the fullblown flower, is like a first introduction to it, compared with the lifelong friendship of its mistress, who has nursed it from its first two leaves; and that the real zest of our enjoyment of nature, even in a garden, lies in our looking at her, not like a spectator who admires, but like a dear and intimate friend, to whom, after long intimacy, she reveals sweets wholly hidden from those who only come to her in full dress, and in the attitude of formal visitors.
If any one wishes to know how completely and intensely English women enter into the spirit of gardening, he has only to watch the wife of the most humble artisan who settles in any of our cities. She not only has a pot of 1 lowers — her back yard is a perfect curiosity shop of botanical rarities. She is never done with training, and watering and caring for them. And truly, they reward her well; for who ever saw such large geraniums, such fresh daisies, such ruddy roses! Comparing them with the neglected and weak specimens in the garden of her neighbor, one might be tempted to believe that they had been magnetized by the charm of personal fondness of their mistress, into a life and beauty not common to other plants.
Mr. Colman, in his "European Tour," seems to have been struck by this trait, and gave so capital a portrait of rural accomplishments in a lady of rank he had the good fortune to meet, that we cannot resist the temptation of turning the picture to the light once more:
"I had no sooner, then, entered the house, where my visit had been expected, than I was met with an unaffected cordiality, which at once made me at home. In the midst of gilded halls, and hosts of livened servants, of dazzling lamps and glittering mirrors, redoubling the highest triumphs of art and of taste; in the midst of books, and statues, and pictures, and all the elegancies and refinements of luxury; in the midst of titles, and dignitaries, and ranks allied to regal grandeur, — there was one object which transcended and eclipsed them all, and showed how much the nobility of character surpassed the nobility of rank, the beauty of refined and simple manners all the adornments of art, the scintillations of the soul, beaming from the eyes, the purest gems that ever glittered in a princely diadem. In person, education and improvement, in quickness of perception, in facility and elegance of expression, in accomplishments and taste, in a frankness and gentleness of manner, tempered by a modesty which courted confidence and inspired respect, and in a high moral tone and sentiment, which, like a bright halo, seemed to encircle the whole person, — I confess the fictions of poetry become substantial, and the beau ideal of my youthful imagination was realized.
"In the morning I first met her at prayers; for, to the honor of England, there is scarcely a family, among the hundreds whose hospitality I have shared, where the duties of the day are not preceded by family worship; and the master and the servant, the parent and the child, the teacher and the taught, the friend and the stranger, come together to recognize and strengthen the sense of their common equality, in the presence of their common Father, and to acknowledge their equal dependence upon his care and mercy. She was then kind enough to tell me, after her morning's arrangements, she claimed me for the day. She first showed me her children, whom, like the Roman mother, she deemed her brightest jewels, and arranged their studies and occupations for the day. She then took me two or three miles on foot, to visit a sick neighbor; and, while performing this act of kindness, left me to visit some of the cottages upon the estate, whose inmates I found loud in the praises of her kindness and benefactions. Our next excursion was to see some of the finest, and largest, and most aged trees in the park, the size of which was truly magnificent; and I sympathized in the veneration which she expressed for them, which was like that with which one recalls the illustrious memory of a remote progenitor. Our next visit was to the green-houses and gardens; and she explained to me the mode adopted there, of managing the most delicate plants, and of cultivating, in the most economical and successful manner, the fruits of a warmer region. From the garden we proceeded to the cultivated fields; and she informed me of the system of husbandry pursued on the estate, the rotation of crops, the management and application of manures, the amount of seed sown, the ordinary yield, and the appropriation of the produce, with a perspicuous detail of the expenses and results. She then undertook to show me the yards and offices, the byres, the feeding stalls, the plans for saving, increasing, and managing the manure; the cattle for feeding, for breeding, the milking stock, the piggery, the poultry yard, the stables, the harness-rooms, the implement-rooms, the dairy. She explained to me the process of making the different kinds of cheese, and the general management of the milk, and the mode of feeding the stock; and then, conducting me into the bailiff's house, she exhibited to me the Farm Journal, and the whole systematic mode of keeping the accounts and making the returns, with which she seemed as familiar as if they were the accounts of her own wardrobe. This did not finish our grand tour; for, on my return, she admitted me into her boudoir, and showed me the secrets of her own admirable housewifery, in the exact accounts which she kept of every thing connected with the dairy, the market, the table, and the drawing-room, and the servant's hall. All this was done with a simplicity and a frankness, which showed an absence of all consciousness of any extraordinary merit in her own department, and which evidently sprang solely from a kind desire to gratify a curiosity on my part, which, I hope, under such circumstances, was not unreasonable.