Frank Frankfort Moore.

A garden of peace, a medley in quietude online

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the Norman or the Decorated the style, for anything
else would have seemed incongruous in close proxim-
ity to a recognised type; but under the existing con-


ditions I saw that the attempt to carry out in this
place the Norman tradition would result in something
that would seem as great a mockery as the sham castle
near Bath.

But I perceived that if I could not carry out the
Norman tradition I might adopt the eighteenth cen-
tury tradition respecting a garden building, and erect
one of the classic temples that found favour with the
great garden makers of that period something
frankly artificial, but eminently suggestive of the
Italian taste which the designers had acquired in

I have wondered if the erection of these classical
buildings in English gardens did not seem very incon-
gruous and artificial when they were first brought
before the eyes of the patron ; and the conclusion that
I have come to is that they seemed as suitable to an
English home as did the pure Greek facade of the
mansion itself, the fact being that there is no Eng-
lish style of architecture. Italy gave us the hand-
somest style for our homes, and when people were
everywhere met with classical fa9ades when the
Corinthian pillar with, perhaps, its modified Roman
entablature, was to be seen in every direction, the
classical garden temple was accepted as in perfect
harmony with its surroundings. So the regular
couplets of Dryden, Pope, and a score of lesser versi-
fiers were acclaimed as the most natural and reason-
able form for the expression of their opinions. Thus
I hold that, however unenterprising the garden de-
signers were in being content to copy Continental


models instead of inventing something as original as
Keats in the matter of form, the modern garden de-
signer has only to copy in order to produce well, a
copy of the formality of their time. But if people
nowadays do not wish their gardens to reflect the
tastes of their ancestors for the classical tradition, they
will be very foolish if they do not adopt something
better when they find it.

Of course I am now still referring to the garden
out of which the house should spring. The moment
that you get free from the compelling influence of
the house, you may go as you please ; and to my mind
you will be as foolish if you do not do something quite
different from the House Garden as you would be if
you were to do anything different within sight of the
overpowering House almost as foolish as the people
who made a beautiful fountain garden and then flung
it at the head of that natural piece of water, the

My temple was to be in full view of the house, and
I wished to maintain the tradition of a certain period,
so I drew out my plans accordingly. I had space
only for something about ten feet square, and I found
out what the simplest form of such a building would
cost. It could be done in stone for some hundreds
of pounds, in deal for less than a fourth of that sum.

Both estimates were from well-known people with
all the facilities for turning out good work at the low-
est figure of profit; but both estimates made me
heavy-hearted. I tried to make up my mind not to
spend the rest of my life in the state of the Children


of Israel when their Temple was swept away; but
within six months I had my vision restored, and un-
like the old people who wept because the restoration
was far behind the original in glory, I rejoiced; for,
finding that I could not afford to have the structure
in deal, I had it built of marble, and the cost worked
out most satisfactorily. In marble it cost me about a
fourth of the estimate in deal !

I did it on the system adopted by the makers of
the Basilica of St. Mark at Venice. Those economical
people built their walls of brick and laid their marbles
upon that. My collection of marbles was distinctly
inferior to theirs, but I flatter myself that it was come
by more honestly. The only piece of which I felt
doubtful, not as regards beauty, but respecting the
honourable nature of its original acquiring, was a fine
slab, with many inlays. It was given to Augustus J.
C. Hare by the Commander of one of the British
transports that returned from the Black Sea and the
Crimea in 1855, and it was originally in a church near
Balaclava. In the catalogue of the sale of Mr. Hare's
effects at Hurstmonceaux, the name of the British of-
ficer was given and the name of his ship and the name
of the church, but the rest is silence. I cannot believe
that that British officer would have been guilty of
sacrilege ; but I do not know how many hands a thing
like this should pass through in order to lose the stain
of sacrilege, so I don't worry over the question of the
morality of the transaction, any more than the devout
worshippers do beneath the mosaics of St. Mark
that greatest depository of stolen goods in the world.


All the rest of my coloured marbles that I applied
to the brickwork of my little structure came mostly
from old mantelpieces and restaurant tables, but I
was lucky enough to alight upon quite a large number
of white Sicilian tiles, more than an inch thick, which
were invaluable to me, and a friendly stonemason
gave me several yards of statuary moulding: it must
have cost originally about what I paid for my entire

It was a great pleasure to me to watch the fabric
arise, which it did like the towers of Ilium, to music
the music of the thrushes and blackbirds and robins
of our English landscape in the early summer when
I began my operations they lasted just on a fort-
night and the splendid colour-chorus of the borders.

But what is a Temple on a hill without steps? and
what are steps without piers, and what are piers with-
out vases?

All came in due time. I found an excellent quarry
not too far away, and from it I got several tons of
stone that was easily shaped and squared, and there
is very little art needed to deal efficiently with such
monoliths as I had laid on the slope of the mound
the work occupied a man and his boy just three days.
The source of the piers is my secret; but there they
are with their stone vases to-day, and now from the
marble seat of the temple, thickly overspread with
cushions, one can overlook the parterres between the
mound and the house, and feel no need for the sunk
garden which is the ambition of such as must be on
the crest of the latest wave of fashion.


ATHEIST Friswell has been wondering where he saw
a mount like mine crowned with just such a structure,
and he has at last shepherded his wandering memory
to the place. I ventured to suggest the possibilities
of the island Scios, and Jack Hey wood, the painter,
who, though our neighbour, still remains our friend,
makes some noncompromising remark about Milos
" where the statues come from."

" I think you'll find the place in a picture-book
called Beauty Spots in Greece, 33 remarked Mrs. Fris-
well. Dorothy is under the impression that Friswell's
researches in the classical lore of one Lempriere is
accountable for his notion that there is, or was, at one
time in the world a Temple with some resemblance
to the one in which we were sitting when he began to

" Very likely," said he, with a brutal laugh. " The
temples on the hills were sometimes dedicated to the
sun Helios, you know."

Of course we all knew, or pretended that we knew.

" And what did your artful Christians do when
they came upon such a fane? " he inquired.

" Pulled it down, I suppose; the early artful Chris-
tians had no more sense of architectural or antiquarian



beauty than the modern exponents of the cult," said

" They were too artful for that, those early Chris-
tian propagandists," said Friswell. " No, they turned
to the noble Greek worshippers whom they were
anxious to convert, and cried, dropping their aspirates
after the manner of the moderns, " dedicated to Elias,
is it? Quite so Saint Elias he is one of our saints."
That is how it comes that so many churches on hills
in the Near East have for their patron Saint Elias.
Who was he, I should like to know."

" I would do my best to withhold the knowledge
from you," said Dorothy. " But was there ever really
such a saint? There was a prophet, of course, but
that's not just the same."

"I should think not," said Friswell. "The old
prophets were the grandest characters of which there
is a record your saints are white trash alongside
them half-breeds. They only came into existence
because of the craving of humanity for pluralities of
worship. The Church has found in her saints the
equivalents to the whole Roman theology."

" Mythology," said I correctively.

' There's no difference between the words," he re-

" Oh, yes, my dear, there is," said his wife.
" There is the same difference between theology and
mythology as there is between convert and per-

" Exactly the same difference," he cried.
" Exactly, but no greater. Christian hagiology


what a horrid word! is on all-fours with Roman
mythology. The women who used to lay flowers in
the Temple of Diana bring their lilies into the chapel
of the Madonna. There are chapels for all the saints,
for they have endowed their saints with the powers
attributed to their numerous deities by the Greeks
and the Romans. There are enough saints to go
round to meet all the requirements of the most
freakish and exacting of district visitors. But the
Jewish prophets were very different from the mysti-
cal and mythical saints. They lived, and you feel
when you get in touch with them that you are on a
higher plane altogether."

" Have you found out where you saw that Temple
on the mound over there, and if you have, let us know
the name of the god or the goddess or saint or saintess
that it was dedicated to, and I'll try to pick up a
Britannia metal figure cheap to put in the grove
alongside the Greek vase," said I.

He seemed in labour of thought: no one spoke for
fear of interrupting the course of nature.

" Let me think," he muttered. " I don't see why
the mischief I should associate a Greek Temple with
Oxford Street, but I do that particular Temple of

" If you were a really religious business man you
might be led to think of the City Temple, only it
doesn't belong to the Greek Church," remarked

" Let me help you," said the Atheist's wife; " think
of Truslove and Hanson, the booksellers. Did Arthur


Rackham ever put a Temple into one of his picture-

" After all, you may have gone on to Holborn
Were you in Batsford's? " suggested Dorothy.

" Don't bother about him," said I. " What does it
matter if he did once see something like our Temple;
he'll never see anything like it again, unless "

" It may have been Buszards' a masterpiece of
Buszards, pure confectioners' Greek architecture
icing veined to look like marble," said Dorothy.

" I have it I knew I could worry it out if you gave
me time," cried Friswell.

" Which we did," said I. " Well, whisper it gently
in our ears."

" It was in a scene in a play at the Princess's
Theatre," he cried triumphantly. " Yes, I recollect
it distinctly something just like your masterpiece,
only more slavishly Greek the scene was laid in
Rome, so they would be sure to have it correct."

" What play was it? " Dorothy asked.

" Oh, now you're asking too much," he replied.
" Who could remember the name of a play after
thirty or forty years ? All that I remember is that it
was a thoroughly bad play with a Temple like yours
in it. It was the fading of the light that brought
it within the tentacles of my memory."

"So like a man to blame the dusk," said his

" The twilight is the time for a garden the sum-
mer twilight, like this," said Mr. Heywood.

" The moonless midnight is the time for some


gardens," said Dorothy, who is fastidious in many
matters, though she did marry me.

"The time for a garden was decided a long time
ago," said I " as long ago as the third chapter of
Genesis and the eighth verse : ' They heard the voice
of the Lord God walking in the Garden in the cool
of the day. ' "

" You say that with a last- word air as much as
to say ' what's good enough for God is good enough
for me,' " laughed Friswell.

" I think that if ever a mortal heard the voice of
God it would be in a garden at the cool of the day,"
said Mrs. Friswell gently.

" There are some people who would fail to hear it
at any time," said I, pointedly referring to Friswell.
He gave a laugh. " What are you guffawing at? " I
cried with some asperity I trust.

" Not at your Congregational platitudes," he re-
plied. " I was led to smile when I remembered how
the colloquial Bible which was compiled by a Scots-
man, treated that beautiful passage. He paraphrased
it, ' The Lord went oot in the gloamin' to hae a crack
wi' Adam ower the garden gate.' '

" I don't suppose he was thought irreverent," said
Dorothy. " He wasn't really, you know."

;< To take a step or two in the other direction," said
Mrs. Friswell; " I wonder if Milton had in his mind
any of the Italian gardens he must have visited on
his travels when he described the Garden of Eden."

;c There's not much of an Italian garden in Milton's
Eden," said Dorothy, who is something of an author-


ity on these points. " But it is certainly an Italian
twilight that he describes in one place. Poor Milton!
he must have been living for many years in a per-
petual twilight before it darkened into his perpetual

" You notice the influence of the hour," said Hey-
wood. " We have fallen into a twilight-shaded vale
of converse. This is the hour when people talk in
whispers in gardens like these."

" I dare say we have all done so in our time," re-
marked some one with a sentimental sigh that she
tried in vain to smother.

" Ah, God knew what He was about when He put a
man and a woman into a garden alone, and gave them
an admonition," said Friswell. " By the way, one of
the most remarkable bits of testimony to the scien-
tific accuracy of the Book of Genesis, seems to me to
be the discovery, after many years of conjecture and
vague theorising, that man and woman were originally
one, so that the story of the formation of Eve by
separating from Adam a portion of his body is scien-
tifically true. I don't suppose that any of you good
orthodox folk will take that in; but it is a fact all
the same."

" I will believe anything except a scientific fact,"
said Dorothy.

" And I will believe nothing else," said Friswell.
; ' The history of mankind begins with the creation of
Eve the separation of the two-sexed animal into two
meant a new world, a world worth writing about
a world of love."


" Listen to him there's the effect of twilight in a
Garden of Peace for you," said I. " Science and the
Book of Genesis, hitherto at enmity, are at last recon-
ciled by Atheist Friswell. What a triumph! What
a pity that Milton, who made his Archangel visit
Adam and his bride and give them a scientific lecture,
did not live to learn all this ! "

" He would have given us a Nonconformist account
of it," said Mrs. Friswell. " I wonder how much his
Archangel would have known if Milton had not first
visited Charles Deodati."

There was much more to be said in the twilight on
the subject of the world of love a world which seems
the beginning of a new world to those who love ; and
that was possibly why silence fell upon us and was
only broken by the calling of a thrush from among
the rhododendrons and the tapping of the rim of
Heywood's empty pipe-bowl on the heel of his shoe.
There was so much to be said, if we were the people
to say it, on the subject of the new Earth which your
lover knows to be the old Heaven, that, being aware
of the inadequacy of human speech, we were silent
for a long space.

And when we began to talk again it was only to
hark back from Nature to the theatre, and, a further
decadence still the Gardens of the Stage.

The most effective garden scene in my recollection
is that in which Irving and Ellen Terry acted when
playing Wills' exquisite adaptation of King Rene's
Daughter, which he called lolanthe. I think it was
Harker who painted it. The garden was outside a


mediaeval castle, and the way its position on the sum-
mit of a hill was suggested was an admirable bit of
stagecraft. Among the serried lines of pines there
was at first seen the faint pink of a sunset, and this
gradually became a glowing crimson which faded
away into the rich blue of an Italian twilight. But
there was enough light to glint here and there upon
the armour of the men-at-arms who moved about
among the trees.

The parterre in the foreground was full of red
roses, and I remember that Mr. Ruskin, after seeing
the piece and commenting upon the mise- en-scene,
said that in such a light as was on it, the roses of the
garden would have seemed black!

This one-act play was brought on by Irving during
the latter months of the great run of The Merchant of
Venice. It showed in how true a spirit of loyalty to
Shakespeare the last act, which, in nearly all repre-
sentations of the play, is omitted, on the assumption
that with the disappearance of Shylock there is no
further element of interest in the piece, was retained
by the great manager. It was retained only for the
first few months, and it was delightfully played. The
moonlit garden in which the incomparable lines of the
poet were spoken was of the true Italian type, though
there is nothing in the text of what is called " local

Juliet's garden on the same stage was not so defi-
nitely Italian as it might have been. But I happen
to know who were Irving's advisers. Among them
were two of the most popular of English painters,


and if they had had their own way Romeo would have
been allowed no chance : he would have been hidden by
the clumps of yew, and juniper, and oleander, and
ilex, and pomegranate. A good many people who
were present during the run of Romeo and Juliet
were very much of the opinion that if this had taken
place it would have been to the advantage of all con-
cerned. Mr. Irving, as he was then, was not the ideal
Romeo of the English playgoer. But neither was the
original Romeo, who was, like the original Paolo, a
man of something over forty.

I have never seen it pointed out that a Romeo of
forty would be quite consistent with the Capulet
tradition, for Juliet's father in the play was quite an
elderly man, whereas the mother was a young woman
of twenty-eight. As for Juliet's age, it is usually
made the subject of a note of comment to the effect
that in the warm south a girl matures so rapidly that
she is marriageable at Juliet's age of thirteen, whereas
in the colder clime of England it would be ridiculous
to talk of one marrying at such an age.

There can be no doubt that in these less spacious
days the idea of a bride of thirteen would not com-
mend itself to parents or guardians, but in the six-
teenth century, twelve or thirteen was regarded as
the right age for the marriage of a girl. If she
reached her sixteenth birthday remaining single, she
was ready to join in the wail of Jephtha's Daughter.
In a recently published letter written by Queen Eliza-
beth, who, by the way, although fully qualified to take
part in that chorale, seemed to find a series of diplo-


matic flirtations to be more satisfying than matrimony,
she submitted the names of three heiresses as ripe for
marriage, and none of them had passed the age of
thirteen. The Reverend John Knox made his third
matrimonial venture with a child of fifteen. Indeed,
one has only to search the records of any family of
the sixteenth or seventeenth century to be made aware
of the fact that Shakespeare's Juliet was not an ex-
ceptionally youthful bride. In Tenbury Church there
is a memorial of " loyse, d. of Thos. Actone of
Sutton, Esquire." She was the wife of Sir Thomas
Lucy, whom she married at the age of twelve. If
any actor, however, were to appear as a forty-two
year Romeo and with a Juliet of thirteen, and a lady-
mother of twenty-eight, he would be optimistic indeed
if he should hope for a long run for his venture.

Of course with the boy Juliets of the Globe Theatre,
the younger they were the better chance they would
have of carrying conviction with them. A Juliet with
a valanced cheek would not be nice, even though she
were " nearer heaven by the attitude of a chopine "
than one whose face was smooth.

I think that Irving looked his full age when he took
it upon him to play Romeo; but to my mind he made
a more romantic figure than most Romeos whom I
have seen. But every one who joined in criticising
the representation seemed unable to see more of him
than his legs, and these were certainly fantastic. I
maintained that such people began at the wrong end
of the actor: they should have begun at the head.
And this was the hope of Irving himself. He had the


intellect, and I thought his legs extremely intel-

I wonder he did not do some padding to bring his
calves into the market, and make as he would have
done a handsome profit out of the play. In the old
days of the Bateman Management of the Lyceum,
he was never permitted to ignore the possibilities of
making up for deficiencies of Nature. In the estima-
tion of the majority of theatre-goers, the intellect of
an actor will never make up for any neglect of the
adventitious aid of " make-up." When Eugene Aram
was to be produced, it was thought advisable to do
some padding to make Irving presentable. There
was a clever expert at this form of expansion con-
nected with the theatre ; he was an Italian and, speak-
ing no English, he was forced into an experiment in
explanation in his own language. He wished to en-
force the need for a solid shape to fit the body, rather
than a patchwork of padding. In doing so he had to
made constant use of the word corpo, and as none of
his hearers understood Italian, they thought that he
was giving a name to the contrivance he had in his
mind; so when the thing passed out of the mental
stage into the actor's dressing-room, it was alluded to
as the corpo. The name seemed a happy one and it
had a certain philological justification; for several
people, including the dresser, thought that corpo was
a contraction for corporation, and in the slang of the
day, that meant an expansion of the chest a little lower

Mrs. Bateman, with whom and with whose family


I was intimate, told me this long after the event, and,
curiously enough, it arose out of a conversation going
on among some visitors to the house in Ensleigh
Street where Mrs. Bateman and her daughters were
living. I said I thought the most expressive line ever
written was that in the Inferno which ended the ex-
quisite Francesca episode :

" E caddi come un corpo morto cade."

Mrs. Bateman and her daughter Kate (Mrs.
Crowe) looked at each other and smiled. I thought
that they had probably had the line quoted to them
ad nauseam, and I said so.

" That is not what we were smiling at," said Mrs.
Bateman. " It was at the recollection of the word

And then she told me the foregoing.

Only a short time afterwards in the same house
she gave me a bit of information of a much more
interesting sort.

I had been at the first performance of Wills' play
Ninon at the Adelphi theatre, and was praising the
acting of Miss Wallis and Mr. Fernandez. When I
was describing one scene, Mrs. Bateman said,

" I recollect that scene very well ; Mr. Wills read
that play to us when he was writing Charles I.; but
there was no part in it strong enough for Mr. Irving.
He heard it read, however, and was greatly taken
with some lines in it so greatly in fact that Mr. Wills
found a place for them in Charles I. They are the


lines of the King's upbraiding of the Scotch traitor,
beginning, ' I saw a picture of a Judas once.' Some
people thought them among the finest in the play."

I said that I was certainly among them.

That was how they made up a play which is cer-
tainly one of the most finished dramas in verse of the
latter half of the nineteenth century.

It was Irving himself who told me something more
about the same play. The subject had been suggested
to Wills and he set about it with great fervour. He

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Online LibraryFrank Frankfort MooreA garden of peace, a medley in quietude → online text (page 8 of 18)