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as I am such, I take care to make my pleasures lasting, by following none but such as are innocent and refined, as well as, in some measure, improving. You have in
labours been so much concerned to represent the actions and passions of mankind, that the whole vegetable world has almost escaped your observation : but sure there are gratifications to be drawn from thence, which deserve to be recommended. For your better information, I wish you would visit your old friend in Cornwall. You would be pleased to see the many alterations I have made about my house, and how much I have improved my estate without raising the rents of it.
As the winter engrosses with us near a double portion of the year, the three delightful vicissitudes being crowded almost within the space of six months, there is nothing upon which I have bestowed so much study and expense, as in contriving means to soften the severity of it, and, if possible, to establish twelve cheerful months about my habitation. In order to this, the charges I have been at in building and furnishing a green-house will, perhaps, be thought somewhat extravagant by a great many gentlemen whose revenues exceed mine. But when I consider that all men of any life and spirit have their inclinations to gratify; and when I compute the sums laid out by the generality of the men of pleasure, in the number of which I always rank myself, in riotous eating and drinking, in equipage and apparel, upon wenching, gaming, racing, and hunting ; I find, upon the balance, that the indul
humour comes at a reasonable rate. Since I communicate to you all incidents serious and trifling, even to the death of a butterfly, that fall out within the compass of my little empire; you will
not,'I hope, be ill pleased with the draught I now send you of my little winter paradise, and with an account of my way of amusing myself and others in it.
'The younger Pliny, you know, writes a long letter to his friend Gallus, in which he gives him a very particular plan of the situation, the conveniences, and the agrecableness of his villa. In my last, you may remember, I promised you something of this kind. Had Pliny lived in a northern climate, I doubt not but we should have found a very complete orangery among his epistles ; and I, probably, should have copied his model, instead of building after my own fancy, and you had been referred to him for the history of
iny late exploits in architecture : by which means my performances would have made a better figure, at least in writing, -than they are like to make at present.
« The area of my green-house is a hundred paces long, fifty broad, and the roof thirty feet high. The wall toward the north is of solid stone, On the south side, and at both the cnds, the stone-work rises but three feet from the ground; excepting the pilasters, placed at convenient distances, to strengthen and beautify the building. The immediate spaces are filled up with large sashes of the strongest and most transparent glass. The middle sash, which is wider than any of the cther, serves for the entrance; to which you mount by six easy steps, and descend on the inside by as many. This opens and shuts with greater ease, keeps the wind out better, and is at the same time mora uniform than folding doors.
In the middle of the roof there runs a cieling thirty feet broad from one end to the other. This is enlivened, by a masterly pencil, with all the variety of rural scenes and prospects, which he has peopled with
the whole tribe of sylvan deities. Their characters and their stories are so well expressed, that the whole seems a collection of all the most beautiful fables of the antient poets translated into colours. The remaining spaces of the roof, ten feet on each side of the cieling, are of the clearest glass, to let in the sky and clouds from above. The buildings point full east and west, so that I enjoy the sun while he is above the horizon. His rays are improved through the glass; and I receive through it what is desirable in a winter sky, without the coarse allay of the season, which is a kind of sifting or straining the weather. My greens and Aowers are as sensible as I am of this benefit: they flourish and look cheerful as in the spring, while their fellow-creatures abroad are starved to death. I must add, that a moderate expense of fire, over and above the contribution I receive from the sun, serves to keep this large room in a due temperature; it being sheltered from the cold winds by a hill on the north, and a wood on the east,
- The shell, you see, is both agreeable and convenient; and now you shall judge whether I have laid out the floor to advantage. There goes through the whole length of it a spacious walk of the finest gravel, made to bind and unite so firmly that it seems one continued stone; with this advantage, that it is easier to the foot, and better for walking, than if it were what it seems to be. At each end of the walk, on the one and on the other side of it, lies a square plot of grass of the finest turf and brightest verdure. What ground remains on both sides, between these little smooth fields of green, is paved with large quarries of white marble; where the blue veins trace out such a variety of irregular windings, through the clear surface, that these bright plains seem full of rivulets and streaming meanders. This to my eye, that delights in simplicity, is inexpressibly inore beautiful than the chequered floors which are so generally admired by others. Upon the right and upon the left, along the gravel walk, I have ranged interchangeably the bay, the myrtle, the orange, and the lemon-trees, intermixed with painted hollies, silver firs, and pyramids of yew ; all so disposed, that every tree receives an additional beauty from its situation, besides the harmony that rises from the disposition of the whole: no shade cuts too strongly, or breaks in harshly upon the other ; but the eye is cheered with a mild rather than gorgeous diversity of greens.
The borders of the four grass plots are garnished with pots of flowers: those delicacies of nature recreate two senses at once, and leave such delightful and gentle impressions upon the brain, that I cannot help thinking them of equal force with the softest airs of music, toward the smoothing of our tempers. In the centre of every plot is a státue. The figures I have made choice of are a Venus, an Adonis, a Diana, and an Apollo; such excellent copies, as to raise the same delight as we should draw from the sight of the antient originals.
• The north wall would have been but a tiresome waste to the eye, if I had not diversified it with the most lively ornaments, suitable to the place. To this intent I have been at the expense to lead over arches, from a neighbouring hill, a plentiful store of springwater, which a beautiful Naiad, placed as high as is possible in the centre of the wall, pours out from an urn. This, by a fall of above twenty feet, makes a most delightful cascade into a bason that opens wide
within the marble floor on that side. At a reasonable distance, on either hand of the cascade, the wall is hollowed into two spreading scollops, each of which receives a couch of green velvet, and forms at the same time a canopy over them. Next to them come two large aviaries, which are likewise let into the stone. These are succeeded by two grottos, set off with all the pleasing rudeness of shells, and moss, and cragged stones, imitating, in miniature, rocks and precipices, the most dreadful and gigantic works of na
After the grottos, you have two niches; the one inhabited by Ceres, with her sickle and sheaf of wheat; and the other by Pomona, who, with a countenance full of good cheer, pours a bounteous autumn of fruits out of her horn. Last of all come two colonies of bees, whose stations lying east and west, the one is saluted by the rising, the other by the setting sun. These, all of them being placed at proportioned intervals, furnish out the whole length of the wall; and the spaces that lie between are painted in fresco by the same hand that has enriched my cieling:
Now, sir, you see my whole contrivance to elude the rigour of the year, to bring a northern climate nearer the sun, and to exempt myself from the common fate of my countrymen. I must detain you a little longer to tell you that I never enter this delicious retirement but my spirits are revived, and a sweet complacency diffuses itself over my whole mind. And how can it be otherwise, with a conscience void of offence, where the music of falling waters, the symphony of birds, the gentle humming of bees, the breath of flowers, the fine imagery of painting and sculpture, in a word, the beauties and the charms of nature and of art, court all my faculties, refresh the fibres of the