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GARDENS WITHOUT FLOWERS.
I have come to the conclusion that it is flowers that ruin a garden, at any rate many gardens. Flowers in a cottage garden, yes. Hollyhocks against a gray wall; orange lilies against a white one; white lilies against a mass of green; aubretia and arabis and thrift to edge your walks. Delphiniums against a yew hedge and lavender anywhere. But the delight in color, as people say, in large gardens is the of fensive thing: flowers combined with shrubs and trees! The gardens of the Riviera, for instance; Cannes and the much praised vulgar Monte Carlobeds of begonias, cinerarias at the foot of a palm, the terrible crimson rambler trailing around its trunk. I have never seen a garden of taste in France.
to Italy, go to Tivoli, and then you will see what I mean by the beauty of a garden without flowers-yews, cypress, statues, steps, fountainssombre, dignified, restful. And as every picture should have a bit of distance to let the eye out of it, here and there you get a peep at the hills. Distant beauty in a glimpse-given in a setting-a bit at a time. And you may add if you like a moving figure; “an Eve in this Eden of ruling grace." Above this as you look up, you recollect, is the Villa d'Este; classic-the garden and the architecture suited the one to the other. How I remember
the noble stone pines in the Borghese at Rome. The sad and reticent cypress in the Boboli Gardens at Florence round about the fountains-what depth and dignity of background; a place to wander in and be free. After all, the suitability of things is what is admirable. Are they "in value," as artists say? The relation of tones correct? They do not swear? A woman suitably dressed, a man properly mounted, a picture well framed. People talk of color; "I like a bit of color in this cold and gloomy climate" they say. Agreed; but what is color and where? Titian was a colorist, but always low in tone. Put a yellow viola beside the brightest tints of Titian and you will see. Keep your effects subdued. Never mix reds or pinks and yellow; put yellow and orange and green and white together; put blues and mauves and grays together; and let your backgrounds be broad, neutral, plain. If you have an herbaceous border against a wall, let the creepers on that wall be without flowers or nearly so. Let the wall be the background to frame it. You would not hang a Tintoretto on a Gobelin tapestried wall.
Have you ever been to Penshurst? There again is the beauty of a garden without flowers. It may have been accident; it may have been the time of year that made me like it so. There
is an orchard and yew hedges and Irish yews and grass paths. And there is a tank with lovely pink brick edges and sides and water lilies and fish, and it is surrounded by a yew hedge and grass paths, and its four corners have steps down to the wall, and a ball on each pedestal at its base. And the apple blossom peeps over the hedge; and the raw sienna of the lichen everywhere on the stone gives the richness of gold; and that's all there is in the color scheme. The only flowers I noticed were patches, unrestrained and unplanned, of auriculas, evidently from seed-all colors: many fringed with margins of gold like the eyes of "la fille aux yeux d'or" in Balzac's novel. All else was richness, depth, and calm, abstract but clearly felt.
Against this of course there is the garden of the Manor House, the wealth and luxuriance that is the result of the soil that suits and the flowers that dwell so happily against the gray old walls. There you can scarce go wrong -campanulas, foxgloves, endless lists of things. Flagged courtyards, flagged paths, sundials-you know it all. And if you can find a place with a moat, a clump of yews and a kingfisher, stay there if you can.
Never have flowers against a balustrade, only grass or gravel. Begonias, geraniums, calceolarias are hard to manage anywhere. Annuals are delightful, but their reign is short. Try nemophila called discoidalis-dull The Saturday Review.
rather in color as they say and like auriculas more or less. Linaria too you know-a very useful purple-it goes well with gypsophila.
You must have noticed that many flowers most beautiful cut are impossible grown in beds. Carnations, for instance, roses, and sweet peas. You take your lady down to dinner. She is fond of flowers. She knows what she likes, and she admires the decorations. They are certain to be either sweet peas and gypsophila or smilax and malmaisons. You try to make way amongst the smilax for her knickknacks--her fan, her gloves, her scent, her powder puff, her matches and cigarettes. Eventually she puts half of them on her lap, and you have to get them from the floor after dinnerwhich you hate and she is more amused at your annoyance than grateful for your trouble. Such is her sense of humor and her manners.
Fruit is the proper decoration for a dinner table, not flowers. I am sure the Greeks only had fruit. Orchardson in that picture of "The Young Duke," I think it is, has fruit only in the wonderfully painted accessories of the dinner-table. The Dukes are all alike, but the fruit and plate are not. But all fruit is not beautiful. Oranges and bananas for instance are not. Grapes, apples, pears and pineapples are. What is more beautiful than black grapes with the bloom on them in a silver or gold dish?
THE GASTRONOMIC YEAR.
The procession of the months is always a pleasant thing to watch. It is the great interest in life to many quiet folk in country places. They note in their diaries the green spears of the snowdrops piercing the garden, the
rooks beginning to build, the swallows gathering on still, sunny mornings for their autumn flight. The Colonel looks up these entries and reads them to his wife. In towns one can tell what time of year it is by a glance at the
windows where they sell fruit, and fish and birds. Each season in turn is heralded by its own dainties, coming round unfailingly like the yellow wild flowers in April, the blue in May, or the pink in June. The first principle of the science of gastronomy is surely to eat things that are in season. The dishes should appear on the table, like William Morris's apples, "at the right time of the year." They should be the best that, just at that moment, is yielded by earth or sea. "To eat asparagus in January," as the German proverb says, is not only to waste money sinfully, and to eat a tasteless vegetable; it is to introduce a discord into the harmonious scheme of things.
Let us begin our year in late autumn, when the lamps are lighted early, and in the pleasant country town the muffin man's bell is once more heard in the street. Our modest epicure does not despise afternoon tea; the first crumpet touches him like the first primrose. With the same feeling with which he sees the wood's late wintry head with flaming primroses now all on fire, he hears the sound which calls up the frosty sunshine of old autumn mornings, and the years that are gone like the tinkle of the muffin man's bell. With the raw season, too, come the chestnuts, symbol of everything warm, and cosy, and friendly. They come in with the turkey chicken, the bird of November. At the same moment, with thoughtful kindness, Nature provides the celery. The delicious smell of celery is the very breath of autumn. The crown of the lordliest dinner is a pile of the uncut stalks in a great silver dish.
The dark months, too, from November to March, are the months of the oyster. This is the time of "angels on horseback" (without exception, the most poetic name in the whole nomenclature of cookery), of creamy oyster patties, of scalloped oysters, each with
its little pool of salty liquor in the bottom of the shell. "Vous vous en lécherez les doigts," to quote an old French phrase, coming down from days when people ate with their fingers, which according to our own proverb, were "made before forks." The nicest things, as prawns, asparagus, green ar tichoke, one eats with fingers still. Sometimes, as in the case of écrevisses à la bordelaise, the feat appears to the mere Englishman, not so much difficult as impossible; but French people perform it with exclamations of joy.
The event of March is the coming of lamb. Cold lamb and lettuce and mint sauce form perhaps the most satisfactory of human food. A loin of early lamb is a delicious joint, and the kidney the daintiest morsel that ever saluted the palate of man. It is a moot point whether the "one sauce" of the Gallic sneer is bread sauce or mint sauce. A better sauce than mint sauce was never invented. It has the simplicity, the inevitableness of genius, of the very best poetry. It is the exactly right thing.
From time immemorial eggs have been associated with Easter. An omelette calls up cheery Easter holidays in Normandy, old inns at Caen and Lisieux, long lines of light green poplars on blue hills. An English omelette is nearly always dried up, like the sole of an old shoe. Still, if one is happy in one's cook, an omelette is the dish for an April breakfast table. "Pesceduovo," "a fish of eggs," the Tuscans call it, from its shape.
Asparagus comes in with May. One may lunch off it very happily for thirtyone days, and not get tired. We mean the English asparagus, slim, and green, and purple-headed, of which one eats the whole, the asparagus of Cheshire, or Worcestershire, or Surrey, not the fat, white foreigner with its bitter stalk. It is delightful to say "goodbye" to chops and steaks for a whole
month, and lunch off something one can eat with one's fingers. But one should have gathered it oneself on warm May mornings, when the wet asparagus beds are alive with little leaping frogs. Gooseberry fool, too, must be mentioned as one of the innocent dainties of this fresh young time. The baby gooseberry needs not even cream, so soft and mild is it. It is the agneau de Pauillac of fruit.
A good menu for a June dinner would be green pea soup, a salmon trout, a chicken, and banquettes aux fraises. The fragile, fairy boats should be made in the slums of Soho, the only place in England where eatable fruit tarts can be obtained. Why the pastry of England should be so different from the pastry of France is a mystery. The most delicious morsels ever eaten by the writer were some red-currant tarts sent from the pâtisserie to the auberge of a little Norman town. They were the poetry, the "Ode to the Nightingale," the "Christabel" of food.
A wise gastronome would spend July and August by the sea. The fish bought on the beach, stiff and glittering, is one thing, and the fish of towns. preserved in ice and chemicals for days and weeks, is quite another. Prawns should never be eaten but on the blithe, sweet Channel shore. Few things are more delightful than to suck the very soul and savor of the sea out of quite fresh prawns, swelling and bursting with their salt juice. They should be served last, at lunch; they seem a thing to linger on. Mussels one should gather for oneself, on the rocks far out, The Nation.
choosing the little gilded shells and throwing the big blue ones away. The best kind of sole, by the way, is a sole dieppoise. "Dieppoise," of course, spells mussels, as "portugaise" does tomatoes, or "lyonnaise" onions. The gray mullet, not the red, the mullet of the Sussex coast, the "Arundel mullet" of the proverb, which is so seldom seen in the shops, is without exception the best fish that swims.
An August dinner should begin with bisque of lobster, there should be grouse in it or perhaps a leveret, and it should end with black, fat figs. For late August or early September the mulberry trees are loaded with their fruit. One needs to pluck them in some dewy garden; they cannot be bought in shops. They give the very savor of the earth, its autumn goodness and ripeness, as prawns do of the sea. Later in the month, when the blackberries are ripe, smothered in clotted cream, they are fit food for angels. September, too, gives us the mushroom, that peculiar joy of English meadows, more delicious than any truffle that ever came out of Provençe or Gascony.
So the year comes round to the gorgeous month of pheasants, and one comes back from wandering in the wet October days to find the red creeper on the friendly wall. The days grow chilly, and the first frosts are on the celery, and the muffin man's bell is heard once more in the street, and one finds home-made sausages, split and hissing, as one comes down to breakfast in the morning.
BOOKS AND AUTHORS.
The centenary of Edward Fitzgerald's birth is being commemorated by Thomas Y. Crowell & Company, in the issuance of a Fitzgerald Edition of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. It is spoken of as a genuine artist's de luxe, every page and every letter being the work of the Hungarian artist Willy Pogany. The motif and color effects are Oriental.
Among the novels announced for publication this fall by the Lippincotts are: "Phoebe Deane," by Grace Livingston Hill Lutz, author of "Marcia Schuyler;" "The Clue," a detective story, by Carolyn Wells; "In Ambush," by Marie Van Vorst; "The Isle of Dead Ships," a tale of the Sargasso Sea, by Crittenden Marriott; "The Man in the Tower," by Rupert S. Holland; "Bronson of the Rabble," a romance of old Philadelphia, by Albert E. Hancock; and Rosa N. Carey's annual story for young women, "The Key of the Unknown."
Few poets write epics nowadays, realizing, perhaps, that they would win few readers if they did. An age which is given over to motor-cars and aeroplanes is not an age to which the necessity of sustained intellectual effort appeals. For this reason, Alfred Noyes's "Drake: An English Epic," which Blackwood's Magazine had the courage to print serially, and of which the Frederick A, Stokes Company now presents an American edition, is the more noteworthy. No one could make such a venture with better heart than Mr. Noyes, for no living writer in English, on either side of the sea, is producing verse so virile, so fresh or ex
hibiting such a mastery of lyric forms as he. His "Drake" is a really splendid performance, which stands quite by itself in the literature of the day, and for which it is not rash to predict a permanent place in English verse. The great career of Drake and his companions is here made the theme of a vivid and stately narrative, interspersed with songs which stir the heart and delight the ear. A reader who turns over these pages, and hesitates to commit himself to the reading of twelve Books of an epic has only to pick out one or two of the lyric passages to find himself beguiled through Book after Book, to get the sequence and full meaning of the noble poem. American readers may count themselves fortunate to have a special edition of the poem presented to them in so attractive a guise; the more so because Mr. Noyes has written especially for them a Prologue which is lacking in the English edition, and from which we venture to quote the last two stanzas:
Over all this earth, sweet,
The poor and weak look up to
Lift their burdened shoulders, stretch their fettered hands in prayer: You, with gentle hands, can bring the world-wide dream to birth, sweet:
While I lift this cup to you
And wonder-will she care?
Kindle, eyes, and beat, heart!
England, my mother, greet America, my sweetheart:
-Ah, but ere I drained the cup
I found her on your breast.