Frank Frankfort Moore.

A garden of peace, a medley in quietude online

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pect as seen from the other side. This is as perfectly


made a ruin as ever was built up by stage carpenters.
There was no reason why it should not be so, for it
was easy to put a stone in here and there if an im-
provement were needed, or to dilapidate a bit of a
tower until the whole would meet with the approval
even of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who are, I
am given to understand, the best informed authorities
in England on the assessment of dilapidations. I
must confess that the first glimpse I had of the pic-
ture that stood before my eyes above my newly-
acquired rubbish-heaps suggested the perfection of
a sham. The mise-en-scene seemed too elaborate
too highly finished no detail that could add to the
effect being absent. But there it was, and I remained
looking at it for the rest of the day.

The over-conscientious agents had said not a word
in the inventory of the most valuable asset in connec-
tion with the property. They had scrupulously ad-
vertised the " unique and valuable old-fashioned resi-
dence," and the fact that it was partially " covered
by creepers " a partiality to which I was not very
partial and that the " billiard saloon " had the same
advantages they had not failed to allude to the gar-
dens as " old-world and quaint," but not one word
had they said about this view from the well-matured

It was at this point that I began to think about
improvements, and the first essay in this direction
was obvious. I had the rubbish removed, the ground
made straight, a stone sundial placed in the centre,
and a Dutch pattern of flower-beds cut around it.


On the coping of the walls they were only six feet
high on our side, but forty on the outside I placed
lead and stone vases and a balustrade of wrought
iron-work. I made an immense window in the wall
of the potting-shed a single sheet of plate-glass with
four small casements of heraldic stained glass; and
then the old potting-shed I panelled in coloured mar-
bles, designed a sort of domed roof for it and laid
down a floor in mosaics. I had in my mind a room
in the Little Trianon in all this ; and I meant to treat
the view outside as a picture set in one wall. Of
course I did not altogether succeed; but I have gone
sufficiently far to deceive more than one visitor.
Entering the room through a mahogany door set with
a round panel of beautifully-clouded onyx once a
table-top in the gay George's pavilion- at Brighton
a visitor sees the brass frame of the large window en-
closing the picture of the Barbican, the Gateway, and
the Keep, and it takes some moments to under-
stand it.

All this sounds dreadfully expensive; but through
finding a really intelligent builder and men who were
ready to do all that was asked of them, and, above
all, through having abundance of material collected
wherever it was going at shillings instead of pounds,
I effected the transformation at less than a sixth of the
lowest assessment of the cost made by professional
friends. To relieve myself from any vain charge of
extravagance, I may perhaps be permitted to mention
that when the property was offered for sale in Lon-
don a week before I bought it, not a single bid was


made for it, owing to an apparent flaw in one of the
title-deeds frightening every one off. Thus, without
knowing it, I arrived on the scene at the exact psy-
chological moment for a purchaser ; and when I got
the place I found myself with a considerable sum in
hand to spend upon it, and that sum has not yet been
all spent. The bogey fault in the title was made good
by the exchange of a few letters, and it is now abso-
lutely unassailable.

It must also be remembered by such people as may
be inclined to talk of extravagance, that it is very
good business to spend a hundred pounds on one's
property if the property is thereby increased in value
by three hundred. I have the best of all reasons for
resting in the assurance that for every pound I have
spent I am three to the good. There is no economy
like legitimate expenditure.

I wonder if real authorities in garden design would
think I was right in treating after the Dutch fashion
the little enclosed piece of ground on which I tried
my prentice hand.

In order to arrive at a conclusion on this point I
should like to be more fully informed as to what
is congruous and what incongruous. What are the
important elements to consider in the construction of
a Dutch garden, and are these elements in sympathy
with the foreground of such a picture as I had before
me when I made up my mind on the subject?

Now I have seen many Dutch gardens in Holland,
and in Cape Colony relics of the old Dutch Colonial


days a nd every one knows how conservative is this
splendid if somewhat over-hospitable race. Some of
the gardens lying between Cape Town and Simon's
Bay, and also on the higher ground above Mossel
Bay are what old-furniture dealers term " in mint
condition " I disclaim any suggestion of a pun upon
the herb, which in Dutch houses at the Cape is not
used in sauce for lamb. They are as they were laid
out by the Solomons, the Cloetes, the Van der Byls,
and the other old Dutch Colonial families; so far
from adapting . themselves to the tropical and sub-
tropical conditions existing in the Colony, they
brought their home traditions into their new sur-
roundings with results that were both happy and
profitable. There are certainly no finer or more
various bulbs than those of Dutch growth at the
Cape, and I have never seen anything more beau-
tiful than the heaths on the Flats between Mowbray
and Rondesbosch at the foot of the Devil's Peak of
Table Mountain.

A Dutch gentleman once said to me in Rotterdam,
" If you want to see a real Dutch garden you must
go to the Cape, or, better still, to England
for it."

He meant that in both places greater pains are
taken to maintain the original type than, generally
speaking, in Holland.

I know that he spoke of what he knew, and with
what chances of observation I have had, I long ago
came to the conclusion that the elements of what is
commonly called a Dutch garden do not differ so


greatly from those that went to the making of the
oldest English herb and flower garden. This being
so, when I asked myself how I should lay out a fore-
ground that should be congenial with the picture seen
through the window of the marble-panelled room, I
knew that the garden should be as like as possible
that which would be planted by the porter's wife
when the Castle was at its best. The porter's lodge
would join on to the gate, and one side of the gate-
way touches my ground, where the lodge would be;
so that, with suggestions from the Chatelaine, who
had seen the world, and the Chaplain, who may have
been familiar with the earliest gardens in England
the monastery gardens she would lay out the little
bit of ground pretty much, I think, as I have done.
In those days people had not got into the way of
differentiating between gardens and gardens there
was no talk about " false notes " in design, men did
not sleep uneasily o' nights lest they had made an
irremediable mistake in giving hospitality to a crim-
son peony in a formal bed or in failing to dig up an
annual that had somehow found a place in a herba-
ceous border. But a garden bounded by walls must
be neat or nothing, and so the porter's wife made a
Dutch garden without being aware of what she was
doing, and I followed her example, after the lapse of
a few hundred years, knowing quite well what I was
doing in acting on the principle that the surround-
ings should suggest the garden. I know now, how-
ever, that because William the Conqueror had a fine
growth of what we call Dianthus Caryophylla at his


Castle of Falaise, we should have scrupulously fol-
lowed his example. However, the elements of a
Dutch garden are geometrical, and within four walls
and with four right angles one cannot but be geomet-
rical. One cannot have the charming disorderliness
of a meadow bounded by two meandering streams.
That is why I know I was right in refusing to allow
any irregularity in my treatment of the ground. I
put my sundial exactly in the middle and made it the
centre for four small beds crossed by a narrow grass
path; and except for the simple central design there
is no attempt at colour effect. But every one of the
little beds is brilliant with tulips or pansies or antirr-
hinum or wallflowers, as the season suggests. There
is the scent of lavender from four clumps one at
each angle of the walls and over the western coping
a pink rose climbs. To be consistent I should confine
the growth of this rose to an espalier against the wall.
I mean to be consistent some day in this matter and
others nearly as important, and I have been so mean-
ing for the past ten years.

I picked up some time ago four tubs of box and
placed one in each corner of the grass groundwork
of the design; but I soon took them away; they were
far too conspicuous. They suggested that I was
dragging in Holland by the hair of the head, so to

It is the easiest thing in the world to spoil a good
effect by over-emphasis; and any one who fancies
that the chief note in a Dutch garden is an over-
growth of box makes a great mistake. It is like put-


ting up a board with " This way to the Dutch gar-
den," planted on its face.

I remember years ago a play produced at the Hay-
market, when Tree had the theatre and Mr. J.
Comyns Carr was his adviser. It was a successor to
an adaptation of Called Back, the first of the " shill-
ing shockers," as they were styled. In one scene the
curtain rose upon several of the characters sucking
oranges, and they kept at it through the whole scene.
That is what it is termed " local colour "; and it was
hoped that every one who saw them so employed
was convinced that the scene was laid in Seville. It
might as well have been laid in the gallery of a
theatre, where refreshment is taken in the same form.

M. Bizet achieved his " local colour " in Carmen
in rather a more subtle way. He did not bother about
oranges. The first five bars of the overture prepared
us for Spain and we lived in it until the fall of the
curtain, and we return to it when one of the children
strums a few notes of ff L 'amour est un oiseau
rebelled or the Toreador's braggadocio.

But although I have eaten oranges in many parts
of the world since I witnessed that play at the Hay-
market I have never been reminded of it, and to-day
I forget what it was all about, and I cannot for the
life of me recollect what was its name.

So much for the ineffectiveness of obvious effects.


IT is a dreadful thing to live in the same town as an
Atheist! I had no idea that a house in Yardley
Parva would ever be occupied by such an one. I
fancied that I was leaving them all behind me in
London, where I could not avoid getting into touch
with several; no one can unless one refuses to have
anything to say to the intellectual or artistic classes.
People in London are so callous that they do not
seem to mind having atheists to dinner or talking with
them without hostility at a club. That is all very well
for London, but it doesn't do in Yardley Parva, thank
God! Atheism is very properly regarded as a dis-
tinct social disqualification almost as bad as being
a Nonconformist.

Friswell is the name of our atheist. What brought
him here I cannot guess. But he bought a house that
had once been the rectory of a clergyman (when I
mention the Clergy in this book it must be taken for
granted that I mean a priest of the Church of Eng-
land) and the predecessor of that clergyman had been
a Rural Dean. How on earth the agent could sell
him the house is a mystery that has not yet been
solved, though many honest attempts in this direction
have been made. The agent was blamed for not mak-



ing such inquiries as would have led to the detection
of the fellow. He was held responsible for Friswell's
incorporation as a burgess, just as Graham the green-
grocer was held responsible for the epidemic of
mumps which it is known he brought into the town
in a basket of apples from Baston.

But the agent's friends make excuses for him.
While admitting that he may have been culpably
careless in order to secure a purchaser for a house
that nobody seemed to want in spite of its hallowed as-
sociations, they are ready to affirm that these atheists
have all the guile of their Master, so that even if the
agent had been alert in making the essential inquiries,
the man would not hesitate to give the most plausi-
ble answers in order to accomplish his object the
object of the wolf that has his eye on a sheep-

This may be so I decline to express an opinion
one way or another. All I know is that Friswell has
written some books that are known in every part of
the civilised world and in Germany as well, and that
we find him when he comes here quite interesting and
amusing. But needless to say we do not permit him
to go too far. We do not allow ourselves to be inter-
ested in him to the jeopardising of our principles or
our position in Yardley Parva. We do not allow our-
selves to be amused at the reflection that he is going
in the wrong direction; on the contrary, we shudder
when it strikes us. But so insidious are his ways that
Heaven forgive me I feel that he tells me much
that I do not know about what is true and what is


false, and that if he were to leave the neighbourhood
I should miss him.

It is strange that he should be married to a charm-
ing woman, who is a daughter of probably the most
orthodox vicarage in the Midlands a home where
every Sunday is given over to such accessories of
orthodoxy as an Early Service, Morning Church,
Sirloin of Beef with Yorkshire Pudding, Fruit Tart
and Real Egg Custard, Sunday School, the Solution
of Acrostics, Evening-song, and Cold Chicken with

And yet she could ally herself with a man who does
not hesitate to express the opinion that if a child dies
before it is baptized it should not be assumed that
anything particular happens to it, and that it was a
great pity that the Church was upheld by three mur-
derers, the first being Moses, who promulgated the
Ten Commandments, the second Paul, who promul-
gated the Christianity accepted by the Church, and
the third Constantine, who promulgated the Nicene
Creed. I have heard him say this, and much more,
and yet beyond a doubt his wife still adores him,
laughs at him, says he is the most religious man she
ever knew, and goes to church regularly!

One cannot understand such a thing as this. In
her own vicarage home every breath that Mrs. Fris-
well breathed was an inspiration of the Orthodox
and yet she told me that her father, who was for
twenty-seven years Vicar of the parish and the
Bishop's Surrogate, thought very highly of Mr. Fris-
well and his scholarship!


That is another thing to puzzle over. Of course
we know that scholarship has got nothing to do with
Orthodoxy it is the weak things of the world that
have been chosen to confound the wise but for a
vicar of the Church of England to remain on friendly
terms with an atheist, and to approve of his daugh-
ter's marriage with such an one, is surely not to be
understood by ordinary people.

I do not know whether or not I neglected my duty
in refraining from forbidding Friswell my garden
when I heard him say that the God worshipped by the
Hebrews with bushels of incense must have been re-
garded by them as occupying a position something
like that of the chairman of the smoking concert; and
that the High Church parson here was like a revue
artist, whose ambition is to have as many changes of
costume as was possible in every performance; but
though I was at the point of telling him that even my
toleration had its limits, yet somehow I did not like
to go to such a length without Dorothy's permission;
and I know that Dorothy likes him.

She says the children are fond of him, and she her-
self is fond of Mrs. Friswell.

" Yes," I told her, " you would not have me kill a
viper because Rosamund had taken a fancy to its
markings and its graceful action before darting on
its prey."

" Don't be a goose," said she. " Do you suggest
that Mr. Friswell is a viper? '

" Well, if a viper may be looked on as a type of
all '


" Well, if he is a viper, didn't St. Paul shake one
off his hand into the fire before any harm was done?
I think we would do well to leave Mr. Friswell to be
dealt with by St. Paul."

" Meaning that "

" That if the exponent of the Christianity of the
Churches cannot be so interpreted in the pulpits that
Mr. Friswell's sayings are rendered harmless, well,
so much the worse for the Churches."

" There's such a thing as being too liberal-minded,
Dorothy," said I solemnly.

" I suppose there is," said she ; " but you will
never suffer from it, my beloved, except in regard
to the clematis which you will spare every autumn
until we shall shortly have no blooms on it at

That was all very well; but I was uncertain about
Rosamund. She is quite old enough to understand
the difference between what Mr. Friswell says in the
garden and what the Reverend Thomas Brown-
Browne says in the pulpit. I asked her what she had
been talking about to Mr. Friswell when he was here
last week.

" I believe it was about Elisha," she replied. " Oh,
yes; I remember I asked him if he did not think
Elisha a horrid vain old man."

"You asked him that?"

' Yes ; it was in the first lesson last Sunday that
about the bears he brought out of the wood to eat
the poor children who had made fun of him horrid
old man ! "


" Rosamund, he was a great prophet one of the
greatest," said I.

"All the same he was horrid! He must have been
the vainest as well as the most spiteful old man that
ever lived. What a shame to curse the poor children
because they acted like children! You know that if
that story were told in any other book than the Bible
you would be the first to be down on Elisha. If I
were to say to you, Daddy, " Go up, thou bald head ! "
you know there's a little bald place on the top
there that you try to brush your hair over if I were
to say that to you, what would you do? "

" I suppose I should go at you bald-headed, my
dear," said I incautiously.

" I don't like the Bible made fun of," said Dorothy,
who overheard what I did not mean for any but the
sympathetic ears of her eldest daughter.

" I'm not making fun of it, Mammy," said the
daughter. " Just the opposite. Just think of it
forty-two children only it sounds much more when
put the other way, and that makes it all the worse
forty and two poor children cruelly killed because a
nasty old prophet was vain and ill-tempered ! "

" It doesn't say that he had any hand in it, does
it? " I suggested in defence of the Man of God.

" Well, not directly," replied Rosamund. " But
it was meant to make out that he had a hand in it.
It says that he cursed them in the name of the Lord."

" And what did Mr. Friswell say about the story? "
inquired Dorothy.

" Oh, he said that, being a prophet, Elisha wasn't

90 a

thinking about the present, but the future the time
we're living in the Russian Bear or the Bolsheviks
or some of the the what's the thing that they kill
Jews with in Russia, Mammy?"

" I don't know anything that's handy, I fancy,
and not too expensive," replied the mother.

" He gave it a name was it programme? " asked
the child.

" Oh, a pogrom a pogrom; though I fancy a pro-
gramme of Russian music would have been equally
effective," I put in. ;< Well, Mr. Friswell may be
right about the bears. I suppose it's the business of
a prophet to prophesy. But I should rather fancy,
looking at the transaction from the standpoint of a
flutter in futures, and also that the prophet had the
instincts of Israel, that his bears had something to do
with the Stock Exchange."

" Mr. Friswell said nothing about that," said Rosa-
mund. " But he explained about Naaman and his
leprosy and how he was cured."

" It tells us that in the Bible, my dear," said
Dorothy, " so of course it is true. He washed seven
times in the Jordan."

' Yes, Mr. Friswell says that it is now known that
half a dozen of the complaints translated leprosy in
the Bible were not the real leprosy, and it was from
one of these that Naaman was suffering, and what
Elisha did was simply to prescribe for him a course
of seven baths in the Jordan which he knew contained
sulphur or something that is good for people with
that complaint. He believes in all the miracles. He


says that what was looked on as a miracle a few years
ago is an everyday thing now."

" He's quite right, darling," said Dorothy approv-
ingly. Then turning to me, " You see, Mr. Friswell
has really been doing his best to keep the children
right, though you were afraid that he would have a
bad effect upon them."

" I see," said I. " I was too hasty in my judgment.
He is a man of uncompromising orthodoxy. We
shall see him holding a class in Sunday-school next,
or solving acrostics instead of sleeping after the Sun-
day Sirloin. Did he explain the Gehazi business,
Rosamund? "

" He said that he was at first staggered when he
heard that Elisha had refused the suits of clothes;
but if Elisha did so, he is sure that his descendants
have been making up for his self-denial ever since."

" But about Gehazi catching the leprosy or what-
ever it was? "

" I said I thought it was too awful a punishment
for so small a thing, though, of course, it was dread-
fully mean of Gehazi. But Mr. Friswell laughed and
said that I had forgotten that all Gehazi had to do
to make himself all right again was to follow the pre-
scription given to Naaman; so he wasn't so hard on
the man after all."

"There, you see!" cried Dorothy triumphantly.
" You talk to me about the bad influence Mr. Fris-
well may have upon the children, and now you find
that he has been doing his best to make the difficult
parts of the Bible credible ! For my own part, I feel


that a flood of new light has been shed by him over
some incidents with which I was not in sympathy

" All right, have it your own way," said I.

" You old goose! " said she. " Don't I know that
why you have your knife in poor Friswell is simply
because he thought your scheme of treillage was too

" Anyhow I'm going to carry it out ' according to
plan,' to make use of a classic phrase," said I.

And then I hurried off to the tool-house; and it
was only when I had been there for some time that
I remembered that the phrase which I had fancied I
was quoting very aptly, was the explanation of a

I hoped that it would not strike Dorothy in that
way, and induce her to remind me that it was much
apter than I had desired it to be.

But there is no doubt that Friswell was right
about Gehazi carrying out the prescription given to
Naaman, for he remained in the service of the
prophet, and he would not have been allowed to do
that if he had been a leper.


I HAVE devoted the foregoing chapter to Friswell
without, I trust, any unnecessary acrimony, but simply
to show the sort of man he was who took exception
to the scheme of Formal Garden that I disclosed to
him long ago. He actually objected to the Formal
Garden which I had in my mind.

But an atheist, like the prophet Habakkuk of the
witty Frenchman, is " capable de tout."

I have long ago forgiven Friswell for his vexatious
objection, but I admit that I am only human, and
that now and again I awake in the still hours of dark-
ness from a nightmare in which I am tramping over
formal beds of three sorts of echiverias, pursued by
Friswell, flinging at me every now and again Mr. W.
Robinson's volume on Garden Design, which, as every
one knows, is an unbridled denunciation of Sir Regin-
ald Blomfield's and Mr. Inigo Triggs's plea for The
Formal Garden. But I soon fall asleep again
with, I trust, a smile struggling to the surface of
the perspiration on my brow, as I reflect upon
my success in spite of) Friswell and the anti-

More than twenty-five years have passed since the
battle of the books on the Formal Garden took place,



adding another instance to the many brought forward
by Dorothy of a garden being a battlefield instead of

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Online LibraryFrank Frankfort MooreA garden of peace, a medley in quietude → online text (page 5 of 18)