Frank Frankfort Moore.

A garden of peace, a medley in quietude online

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for thousands of years. The only question upon
which opinion is divided is in regard to its suitability
to the English climate. In this connection I beg
leave to record my experience. I take it for granted
that when I allude to marble, it will not be supposed
that I include that soft gypsum sulphate of lime
which masquerades under the name of alabaster, and
is carved with the tools of a woodcarver, supplemented
by a drill and a file, in many forms by Italian crafts-
men. This material will last in the open air very little
longer than the plaster of Paris, by which its numer-
ous component parts are held together. It is worth
nothing. True alabaster is quite a different substance.
It is carbonate of lime and disintegrates very slowly.
The tomb of Machiavelli in the Santa Croce in Flor-
ence is of the true alabaster, as are all the fifteenth
and sixteenth century sarcophagi in the same quarter
of the church; but none can be said to have suffered
materially. It was widely used in memorial tablets
three hundred or four hundred years ago. Shakes-
peare makes Othello refer to the sleeping Desde-
, mona,

" That whiter skin of hers than snow,
And smooth as monumental alabaster."

We know that it was the musical word " alabaster "
that found favour with Shakespeare, just as it was,


according to Miss Ethel Smyth, Mus. Doc., the musi-
cal word " Tipperary," that helped to make a song
containing that word a favourite with Shakespeare's
countrymen, who have never been found lacking in
appreciation of a musical word or a rag-time inanity.


AGAIN may I beg leave to express the opinion that
there is no need for any one to depend upon con-
ventional ornaments with a view to make the garden
interesting as well as ornamental. With a little imagi-
nation, one can introduce quite a number of details
that are absolutely unique. There is nothing that
looks better than an arch made out of an old stone
doorway. It may be surmounted by a properly sup-
ported shield carved with a crest or a monogram. A
rose pillar of stone has a charming appearance at the
end of a vista. The most effective I have seen were
made of artificial stone, and they cost very little.
Many of the finest garden figures of the eighteenth
century were made of this kind of cement, only in-
ferior in many respects to the modern " artificial
stone." It is unnecessary to say that any material
that resists frost will survive that comparatively soft
stone work which goes from bad to worse year by year
in the open.

But I do not think that, while great freedom and
independence should be shown in the introduction of
ornamental work, one should ever go so far as to con-
struct in cold blood a ruin of any sort, nor is there any
need, I think, to try to make a new piece look antique.



But I have actually known of a figure being deprived
of one of its arms in order to increase its resemblance
to the Venus of the island of Milos! Such mutilation
is unwarrantable. I have known of Doctors of Medi-
cine taking pains to make their heads bald, in com-
pliance with the decrepit notion that knowledge was
inseparable from a venerable age. There may be an
excuse for such a proceeding, though to my mind
this posturing lacks only two letters to be impostur-
ing; but no excuse can be found for breaking the
corner off a piece of moulding or for treating a stone
figure with chemicals in order to suggest antiquity.
Such dealers as possess a clientele worth maintaining,
know that a thing " in mint condition," as they de-
scribe it, is worth more than a similar thing that is
deficient in any way. That old story about the arti-
ficial worm-eating will not be credited by any one
who is aware of the fact that a piece of woodwork
showing signs of the ravages of the wood moth is
practically worthless. There would be some sense in
a story of a man coming to a dealer with a composi-
tion to prevent worm-holes, as they are called, being
recognised. Ten thousand pounds would not be too
much to pay for a discovery that would prevent wood-
work from being devoured by this abominable thing.
Surely some of the Pasteur professors should be equal
to the task of producing a serum by which living
timber might be inoculated so as to make it immune
to such attacks, or liable only to the disease in a mild

But there are dealers in antiques whose dealings


are as doubtful as their Pentateuch (according to
Bishop Colenso's researches). Heywood tells me that
he came across such an one in a popular seaside town
which became a modern Hebrew City of Refuge,
mentioned in one of the Mosaic books, during the air-
raids. This person had for sale a Highland claidh-
eamh-mor that is, I can assure you, the proper way
to spell claymore which he affirmed had once be-
longed to the Young Pretender. There it was, with
his initials " Y. P.," damascened upon the blade, to
show that there could be no doubt about it.

And Friswell remembered hearing of another en-
terprising trader in antiquities who had bought from
a poor old captain of an American whaler a sailor's
jack-knife Thackeray called the weapon a snicker-
snee which bore on the handle in plain letters the
name " Jonah," very creditably carved. Everybody
knows that whales live to a very great age ; and it has
never been suggested that there was at any time a
clearing-house for whales.

I repeat that there is no need for garden ornaments
to be ancient; but if one must have such things, one
should have no difficulty in finding them, even with-
out spending enormous sums to acquire them. But
say that one has set one's heart upon having a stone
bench, which always furnishes a garden, no matter
what its character may be. Well, I have bought a
big stone slab it had once been a step for five shill-
ings. I kept it until I chanced to see a damaged Port-
land truss that had supported a heavy joist in some
building. This I had sawn into two there was a


well-cut scroll on each side and by placing these
bits in position and laying my slab upon them, I con-
cocted a very imposing garden bench for thirteen
shillings. If I had bought the same already made up
in the ordinary course of business, it would have cost
me at least 5. If I had seen the thing in a mason's
yard, I would have bought it at this price.

Again, I came upon an old capital of a pillar that
had once been in an Early Norman church it was in
the backyard of a man from whom I was buying
bulbs. I told the man that I would like it, and he said
he thought half a crown was about its value. I did
not try to beat him down one never gets a bargain
by beating a tradesman down and I set to work
rummaging through his premises. In ten minutes I
had discovered a second capital; and the good fellow
said I might have this one as I had found it. I
thought it better, however, to make the transaction
a business one, so I paid my second half-crown for it.
But two years had passed before I found two stone
shafts with an aged look, and on these I placed my
Norman relics. They look very well in the embrace
of a Hiawatha rose against a background of old wall.
These are but a few of the " made-ups " which fur-
nish my House Garden, not one of which I acquired
in what some people would term the legitimate way.

I have a large carved seat of Sicilian marble, an-
other of " dove " marble, and three others of carved
stone, and no one of them was acquired by me in a
complete state. Why should not a man or woman
who has some training in art and who has seen the


best architectural things in the world be able to de-
sign something that will be equal to the best in a
stonemason's yard, I should like to know?

And then, what about the pleasure of working out
such details the pleasure and the profit of it? Surely
they count for something in this life of ours.

Before I forsake the fascinating topic of stone-
work, I should like to make a suggestion which I trust
will commend itself to some of my readers. It is
that of hanging appropriate texts on the walls of a
garden. I have not attempted anything like this my-
self, but I shall certainly do it some day. Garden
texts exist in abundance, and to have one carved upon
a simple block of stone and inserted in a wall would,
I think, add greatly to the interest of the garden. I
have seen a couple of such inscriptions in a garden
near Florence, and I fancy that in the Lake District
of England the custom found favour, or Wordsworth
would not have written so many as he did for his
friends. The " lettering " the technical name for
inscriptions would run into money if a poet paid by
piece-work were employed; unless he were as consid-
erate as the one who did some beautiful tombstone
poems and thought that,

" Beneath this stone repose the bones, together with the


Of one who ere Death cut him down was Thomas Andrew

was good; and so it was; but as the widow was not
disposed to spend so much as the " lettering " would
cost, he reduced his verse to:


" Beneath this stone there lies the corp
Of Mr. Thomas Andrew Thorpe."

Still the widow shook her head and begged him to
give the question of a further curtailment his con-
sideration. He did so, and produced,

" Here lies the corp
Of T. A. Thorpe."

This was a move in the right direction, the heart-
broken relict thought; still if the sentiment was so
compressible, it might be further reduced. Flowery
language was all very well, but was it worth the extra
money? The result of her appeal was,

" Thorpe's

I found some perfect garden texts in every volume
I glanced through, from Marlowe to Masefield.

Yes, I shall certainly revive on some of my walls,
between the tufts of snapdragon, a delightful prac-
tice, feeling assured that the crop will flower in many
directions. The search for the neatest lines will of
itself be stimulating.

But among the suitable objects for the embellish-
ment of any form of garden, I should not recommend
any form of dog. We have not completed our repair-
ing of one of our borders since a visit was paid to us
quite unexpectedly by a young foxhound that was
being " walked " by a dealer in horses, who has stables


a little distance beyond the Castle. Our third little
girl, Francie by name, has an overwhelming sympathy
for animals in captivity, especially dogs, and the fact
that I do not keep any since I had an unhappy ex-
perience with a mastiff several years ago, is not a
barrier to her friendship with " Mongrel, puppy,
whelp, or hound, and curs of low degree " that are
freely cursed by motorists in the High Street; for in
Yardley dogs have trained themselves to sleep in the
middle of the road on warm summer days. Almost
every afternoon Francie returns from her walks
abroad in the company of two or three of her bor-
rowed dogs; and if she is at all past her time in set-
ting out from home, one of them comes up to make
inquiries as to the cause of the delay.

Some months ago the foxhound, Daffodil, who gal-
lantly prefers being walked by a little girl, even
though she carries no whip, rather than by a horsey
man who is never without a serviceable crop with a
lash, personally conducted a party of three to find
out if anything serious had happened to Francie ; and
in order to show off before the others, he took advan-
tage of the garden gate having been left open to enter
and relieve his anxiety. He seemed to have done a
good deal of looking round before he was satisfied
that there was no immediate cause for alarm, and in
the course of his stroll he transformed the border,
adapting it to an impromptu design of his own not
without merit, if his aim was a reproduction of a

After an industrious five minutes he received some


token of the gardener's disapproval, and we hope
that in a few months the end of our work of restora-
tion will be well in sight.

But Nemesis was nearer at hand than that horti-
cultural hound dreamt of. Yesterday Francie ap-
peared in tears after her walk; and this is the story
of illce lachrymce: It appears that the days of Daf-
fodil's " walking " were over, and he was given an
honourable place in the hunt kennels. The master
and a huntsman now and again take the full pack
from their home to the Downs for an outing and
bring them through the town on their way back. Yes-
terday such a route-march took place and the hounds
went streaming in open order down the street. No
contretemps seemed likely to mar the success of the
outing; but unhappily Daffodil had not learned to
the last page the discipline of the kennels, and when
at the wrong moment Francie came out of the con-
fectioner's shop, she was spied by her old friend, and
he made a rush in front of the huntsman's horse to
the little girl, nearly knocking her down in the ex-
uberance of his greeting of her.

Alas! there was "greeting" in the Scotch mean-
ing of the word, when Daffodil ignored the command
of the huntsman and had only eaten five of the choco-
lates and an inch or two of the paper bag, when the
hailstorm fell on him. . . .

" But once he looked back before he reached the
pack," said Francie between her sobs " he looked
back at me you see he had not time to say ' good-
bye,' that horrid huntsman was so quick with his lash,


and I knew that that was why poor Daffy looked back
to say ' good-bye ' just his old look. Oh, I'll save
up my birthday money next week and buy him. Poor
Daff ! Of course he knew me, and I knew him I saw
him through Miss Richardson's window above the
doughnut tray I knew him among all the others in
the pack."

Dorothy comforted her, and she became sufficiently
herself again to be able to eat the remainder of the
half-pound of chocolates, forgetting, in the excitement
of the moment, to retain their share for her sisters.

When they found this out, their expressions of sym-
pathy for the cruel fate that fell upon Daffodil were
turned in another direction.

They did not make any allowance for the momen-
tary thoughtlessness due to an emotional nature.

The question of the purchase of the young hound
has not yet been referred to me; but without ventur-
ing too far in prejudging the matter, I think I may
say that that transaction will not be consummated.
The first of whatever inscriptions I may some day
put upon my garden wall will be one in Greek:



DOROTHY and I were having a chat about some de-
signs in Treillage when Friswell sauntered into the
garden, bringing with him a fine book on the Influence
of Cimabue on the later work of Andrea del Castagno.
He had promised to lend it to me, when in a moment
of abstraction I had professed an interest in the

Dorothy showed him her sketches of the new
scheme, explaining that it was to act as a screen for
fig-tree corner, where the material for a bonfire had
been collecting for some time in view of the Peace
that we saw in our visions of a new heaven and a new
earth long promised to the sons of men.

Friswell was good enough to approve of the de-
signs. He said he thought that Treillage would come
into its own again before long. He always liked it,
because somehow it made him think of the Bible.

I did not like that. I shun topics that induce
thoughts of the Bible in Friswell's brain. He is at
his worst when thinking and expressing his thoughts
on the Bible, and the worst of his worst is that it is
just then he makes himself interesting.

But how on earth Treillage and the Bible should
become connected in any man's mind would pass the



wit of man to explain. But when the appearance of
my Temple compelled Friswell to think of Oxford
Street, London, W., when his errant memory was
carrying him on to the Princess's Theatre, on whose
stage a cardboard thing was built about as like my
Temple as the late Temple of the Archdiocese of Can-
terbury was like the late Dr. Parker of the City

" I don't recollect any direct or mystical reference
to Treillage in the Book," said I, with a leaning to-
ward sarcasm in my tone of voice. " Perhaps you
saw something of the kind on or near the premises
of the Bible Society."

" It couldn't be something in a theatre again," sug-
gested Dorothy.

" I believe it was on a garden wall in Damascus,
but I'm not quite sure," said he thoughtfully. " Da-
mascus is a garden city in itself. Thank Heaven
it is safe for some centuries more. That ex- All High-
est who had designs on it would fain have made it

" He would have done his devil best, pulling down
the Treillage you saw there, because it was too French.
Don't you think, Friswell, that you should try to
achieve some sort of Treillage for your memory ? You
are constantly sending out shoots that come to noth-
ing for want of something firm to cling to."

" Not a bad notion, by any means," said he. " But
it has been tried by scores of experts on the science
of I forget the name of the science: I only know
that its first two letters are mn."


" Mnemonics," said Dorothy kindly.

" What a memory you have! " cried Friswell. " A
memory for the word that means memory. I think
most of the artificial memories or helps to memory are
ridiculous. They tell you that if you wish to remem-
ber one thing you must be prepared to recollect half
a dozen other things you are to be led to your des-
tination by a range of sign-posts."

" I shouldn't object to the sign-posts providing that
the destination was worth arriving at," said I. " But
if it's only the front row of the dress circle at the
Princess's Theatre, Oxford Street, London, West "

" Or Damascus, Middle East," he put in, when I
paused to breathe. ' Yes, I agree with you ; but after
all, it wasn't Damascus, but only the General's house
at Gibraltar."

" Have mercy on our frail systems, Friswell," I
cried. ' We are but men, are we ! ' as Swinburne
lilts. Think of our poor heads. Another such abrupt
memory-post and we are undone. How is't with you,
my Dorothy ? "

" I seek a guiding hand," said she. " Come, Mr.
Friswell; tell us how a General at Gib, suggested,
the Bible to you."

" It doesn't seem obvious, does it? " said he. " But
it so happened that the noblest traditions of the Corps
of Sappers was maintained by the General at Gib, in
my day. He was mad, married, and a Methodist.
He had been an intimate friend and comrade of Gor-
don, and he invited subscriptions from all the garrison
for the Palestine Exploration Fund. He gave


[Pag2 224


monthly lectures on the Tabernacle in the Wilder-
ness, and at every recurring Feast of Tabernacles he
had the elaborate trellis that compassed about his
house, hung with branches of Mosaic trees. That's
the connection as easily obvious as the origin of

" Just about the same," said I. " Your chain of
sign-posts is complete: Treillage General Gibral-
tar Gordon Gospel. That is how you are irresis-
tibly drawn to think of the Bible when you see a clem-
atis climbing up a trellis."

" My dear," said Dorothy, " you know that I don't
approve of any attempt at jesting on the subject of
the Bible."

" I wasn't jesting only alliterative," said I.
" Surely alliteration is not jocular."

" It's on the border," she replied with a nod.

" The Bible is all right if you are only content not
to take it too seriously, my dear lady," said Friswell.
" It does not discourage simple humour on the con-
trary, it contains many examples of the Oriental idea
of fun."

" Oh, Mr. Friswell! You will be saying next that
it is full of puns," said Dorothy.

" I know of one, and it served as the foundation
of the Christian Church," said he.

" My dear Friswell, are you not going too far? "

" Not a step. The choosing of Peter is the founda-
tion of your Church, and the authority assumed by
its priests. Simon Bar jonah, nicknamed Peter, is one
of the most convincingly real characters to be found


in any book, sacred or profane. How any one can
read his record and doubt the inspiration of the Gos-
pels is beyond me. I have been studying Simon Bar-
jonah for many years a conceited braggart and a
coward a blasphemer maudlin ! After he had been
cursing and swearing in his denial of his Master, he
went out and wept bitterly. Yes, but he wasn't man
enough to stand by the Son of God he was not even
man enough to go to the nearest tree and hang him-
self. Judas Iscariot was a nobler character than
Simon Barjonah, nicknamed Peter."

" And what does all this mean, Mr. Friswell ? "

" It means that it is fortunate that Truth is not
dependent upon the truth of its exponents or affected
by their falseness," said he, and so took his departure.

We went on with our consideration of our Treil-
lage after a considerable silence. But when a silence
comes between Dorothy and me it does not take the
form of an impenetrable wall, nor yet that of a yew
hedge with gaps in it; but rather that of a grateful
screen of sweet-scented honeysuckle. It is the silence
within a bower of white clematis the silence of
" heaven's ebon vault studded with stars unutterably
bright " the silence of the stars which is an unheard
melody to such as have ears to hear.

" Yes," said I at last, " I am sure that you are
right: an oval centre from which the laths radiate
that shall be our new trellis."

And so it was.

Our life in the Garden of Peace is, you will per-
ceive, something of what the catalogues term " of


rampant growth." It is as digressive as a wild con-
volvulus. I perceive this now that I have taken to
writing about it. It is not literary, but discursive. It
throws out, it may be, the slenderest of tendrils in one
direction ; but this " between the bud and blossom,"
sometimes flies off in another, and the effect of the
whole is pleasantly unforeseen.

It is about time that we had a firm trellis for the
truant tendrils.

And so I will discourse upon Treillage as a feature
of the garden.

Its effect seems to have been lost sight of for a long
time, but happily within recent years its value as an
auxiliary to decoration is being recognised. I have
seen lovely bits in France as well as in Italy. It is one
of the oldest imitations of Nature to be found in con-
nection with garden-making, and to me it represents
exactly what place art should take in that modifica-
tion of Nature which we call a garden. We want
everything that grows to be seen to the greatest ad-
vantage. Nature grows rampant climbers, and if we
allowed them to continue rampageous, we should have
a jungle instead of a garden; so we agree to give her
a helping hand by offering her aspiring children some-
thing pleasant to cling to from the first hour of their
sending forth grasping fingers in search of the right
ladder for their ascent. A trellis is like a family liv-
ing: it provides a decorative career for at least one
member of the family.

The usual trellis-work, as it is familiarly called,
has the merit of being cheap just now it is more


than twice the price that it was five years ago; but
still it does not run into a great deal of money unless
it is used riotously, and this, let me say, is the very
worst way in which it could be adapted to its pur-
pose. To fix it all along the face of a wall of perhaps
forty feet in length is to force it to do more than it
should be asked to do. The wall is capable of sup-
porting a climbing plant without artificial aid. But
if the wall is unsightly, it were best hidden, and the
eye can bear a considerable length of simple trellis
without becoming weary. In this connection, how-
ever, my experience forces me to believe that one
should shun the " extending " form of lattice-shaped
work, but choose the square-mesh pattern.

This, however, is only Treillage in its elementary
form. If one wishes to have a truly effective screen
offering a number of exquisite outlines for the entwin-
ing of some of the loveliest things that grow, one must
go further in one's choice than the simple diagonals
and rectagonals the simple verticals and horizontals.
The moment that curves are introduced one gets into
a new field of charm, and I know of no means of gain-
ing better effects than by elaborating this form of
joinery as the French did two centuries ago, before
the discovery was made that every form of art in a

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Online LibraryFrank Frankfort MooreA garden of peace, a medley in quietude → online text (page 13 of 18)