A Sketch of the Spring-Gardens, Vaux-Hall, in a letter to a Noble Lord
Verdant Vistoes, melting
Magic Echoes, Fairy Rounds,
Beauties ev'ry where surprize:
Sure this Spot dropt from the Skies!
[by John Lockman (according to John Nichol, The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Lambeth in the County of Surrey. Including Biographical Anecdotes of Several Eminent Persons. Compiled from Original Records, and Other Authentic Sources of Information (London, 1786) p.119]) London: G. Woodfall 
The following Pages were writ in obedience to the Commands of a Nobleman, for whom the Author bears the greatest Reverence, and not to puff a Recess, which being the perpetual Resort of the Town, disdains all such mean Artifices. The poetical Parts were struck out, at Intervals, as the Author was in humour to rove about in, and survey the Beauties of the Spring-Gardens. Some may think him to have been an Enthusiast on those Occasions; and such, indeed, he is sensible he was, during the Moments in question, which were blissful Ones.
At the same time he can justly assert, that no Man is a greater Friend to [p.iv] honest Industry, and Business, than himself.
The prose parts, as the Reader will find, were hit off presently; and some of them may be thought too minute. The several poetical Materials lay scatter'd, like Colours on a Painter's Pallet, till last Summer; when the Author was call'd upon to put them into some Order (tho' he is sensible that they will be found a Rapsody at best.) In this manner he formed the greatest part of the Picture, now presented to the Public. The only Design in sending it abroad, is to call up in Others, a Pleasure which is a very great One to the Writer; who, bearing a Love to Mankind in general, is pleas'd when he can contribute to the innocent Felicity of Others.
Page 15, Line 17, for Powers, read Bowers.
Page 19, Line 12, for as, read is.
Page 26, Line 22, for Alcinous', read Alcinous's
A Sketch of the Spring-Gardens, Vaux-hall.
To the Right Honourable the Earl of ********* [Frederick Calvert, 6th Lord Baltimore
Your Lordship bestows a very unmerited Compliment upon me, when you are pleased to declare, that a Description, from my Hand, of the Spring-Gardens at Vaux-hall, would give as much Pleasure as the Sight of them. This, indeed, would have been no Compliment to your Lordship, had you now taken up the Pen, which, like Raphael's Pencil, throws a Grace round every Object. Perfectly acquainted as you (my Lord) are, with every Beauty among the Antients; and having been a curious Spectator of the most exquisite modern Performances of Art, as well as of the loveliest Scenes of Nature, in foreign Countries; a Picture from your Lordship, of this Elizium, would have inchanted every Reader; and transmitted it, in all its Charms, to late Posterity. [p.2] But you are pleased to command a Description from me. I therefore must obey, tho' with all possible Diffidence; and, in return for your too favourable Opinion, will exert the utmost of my slender Abilities; and only wish, that these varying Scenes of elegant Delight, may not suffer greatly by my too faint Description of them. Waving therefore all farther Apologies, I, with your Lordship's Leave, will enter upon my Draught.
These Gardens, containing about twenty Acres and a Half, make part of a Mannor, belonging to His Royal Highness the PRINCE OF WALES, as Earl of Kennington; the famous black Prince, son to our immortal Edward III, having anciently had a Palace there. But leaving Antiquity, I shall proceed to the present State of the Spot, which is the Subject of your Lordship's obliging Command; after observing, that the Hint of this rational and elegant Entertainment, was given by a Gentleman, whose Paintings exhibit the most useful Lessons of Morality, blended with the happiest Strokes of Humour.
Being advanc'd up the Avenue, by which we enter into the Spring-Gardens; the first Scene that catches the Eye, is a grand Visto or Alley about 900 Feet long, formed by exceedingly lofty Sycamore, Elm, and other Trees. At the Extremity of this Visto, stands a gilded Statue of Aurora, with a Ha ha; over which is a View into the adjacent Meads; where Haycocks, and Haymakers sporting, during the mowing Season, add a Beauty to the Landskip. This Alley (a noble Gravel Walk throughout) is intersected, at right Angles, by two others. One of these Alleys (at the Extremity whereof, to the Left, a [p.3] fine Picture of Ruins is seen) extends about 600 Feet; being the whole Breadth of the Garden, or Spring-Gardens, as they are commonly called, which Terms I shall use indiscriminately.
Advancing a few Steps within the Garden, we behold a Quadrangle or Square, within which is the Grove, as 'tis call'd. This Grove is the grand Rendezvous of the joyous Multitudes who visit this Place, and the Seat of the Music when the Weather is fine. As it contains a great Variety of Embellishments, it will be necessary, (for Perspicuity sake) that I postpone a little my Description of the Grove itself; and proceed to that of its four Sides, with the several Parts of the Garden seen from those Sides.
But, as we walk, let us (with your Lordship's Permission) attend a Moment to the extempore Muse.
Apollo to Bacchus "For a Frolick let's fly
To yon lessening Speck, on the Skirts of the Sky;
"To the Earth, where we'll visit Man's whimsical Race;
And rove, till we fix on some favourite Place;
On some Shade to which Nymphs, blest with Swains, shall retire,
Allur'd by the Charms of your Juice, and my Lyre:
For these, when united, must fondly controul,
The wav'ring Impulses of each human Soul."
(says blithe Bacchus)
so their Godships descend;
Quickly range o'er this Ball; and, at last, gayly bend
[p.4] To a Grove*, whose wing'd Choristers ravish the Ear;
When Apollo says, smiling, "We must pitch our Tent here:
For see how the Graces exult in yon Bower.
By your Nectar, my Warbling, and their magic Power,
Sweetest Joys shall rise round, and pale Spleen mix with the Wind."
They open'd the Scene, and inchanted Mankind.
*That of Vaux-hall Gardens
To begin with that Side of the Quadrangle or Square, when we turn to the right, at our Entrance into the Garden: Here we perceive a shorter Visto than the above-mention'd, stretching beyond the Grove. This Side of the Square is adorned with Pavillions or Alcoves, one whereof attracts the Eye in a particular Manner. This Pavillion is a handsome Portico, to which we ascend by a double Flight of Steps, and is supported by Doric Columns and Pilasters, before which a grand red Curtain hangs, in Festoons. In the Cieling of the Portico are three little Domes, (with gilt Ornaments) whence the like Number of Glass Chandeliers descend. The Portico is also adorn'd with four large beautiful Pictures, the Subjects of which are from our divine Shakespeare. The very ingenious Artist, to whom we owe these Pieces, as well as the Designs of most of the Others in the Gardens, has here describ'd the Passions with a masterly Hand. Behind this Portico is a Saloon, embellish'd with Busts, Looking-Glasses, a Chandelier, &c. The PRINCE, who lately form'd the Nation's Delight, and is now the just Subject of their unfeigned Sorrow has ennobled this [p.5] Saloon by his Presence; His Royal Highness, attended by many distinguish'd Persons of both Sexes, sometimes supping in it, and closing the Night with Country Dances. Hence the Portico, before this Salon, is usually stiled the Prince of Wales's Pavillion.
Advancing beyond this Side of the Quadrangle, we walk between two Rows of Pavillions and Alcoves; the Former being adorn'd with Pictures, design'd by the Artist above hinted at. From this End of the Alley in question, (looking up the Garden) we perceive two Vistos, parallel with the grand one at our Entrance, and running the whole Length of the Gardens. The first Visto is formed of very tall Trees, arch'd over, and terminated by a Gothic Obelisk. To change our Situation for a Moment: A Spectator, who, in the Night, should stand at that Obelisk, and look down the Garden, would perceive at the Extremity of this View, a glimmering Light, (that in the opposite Alcove) which might image to him an Anchoret's Cave; for instance, that of the imaginary Robinson Crusoe.
To return to our former Place. This Alley is exceedingly agreeable, especially in sultry Weather; and is styled by some, the Druids; and, by Others, the Lover's Walk. 'Tis delightful, as we stray up and down this Visto in a fine Night, to gaze at the distant Lamps, and listen to the Music. Please to hear the Poet address his Mistress:
we the Time beguile,
When treading, slow ,th'embower'd Walk,
We muse as in some verdant Isle,
Where Druids dream, and Echoes talk!
Then hear the distant Sounds invite,
Softn'd, and dying in the Breeze:
Or, from the Lamps, see magic Light,
Dart like a Glory thro' the Trees.
Adjoining to, and parallel with the Druids or Lover's Walk, is another of equal Length, and form'd of as lofty Trees, but open at Top; which diversifies the Scene very agreeably.
Returning to the Corner or Angle of this Side of the Square, and directing our Eye up the Garden, we spy the second Side of the Quadrangle, form'd partly of Pavillions beautified with Pictures. Here we see a Visto, of the same Length, and running parallel with the Druid's Walk. This Visto is also compos'd of very lofty Trees; and greatly embellish'd by means of three splendid triumphal Arches, design'd by an ingenious Italian; but the Figures were drawn, as well as coloured, by another able Hand. These Arches are so finely design'd and painted, and the Perspective is so happy, that the whole has the Appearance of a noble Edifice. On each Side of the grand Arches, (consisting of Columns, and a double Pediment enrich'd with Basso Relievos, Figures, &c.) is a less Arch, heightened by a Balustrade, and other Ornaments. The three Arches form the like Number of Vistos, at the Extremity whereof a grand Piece of Architecture is painted, representing the Temple of Neptune; with his (suppos'd) Statue, standing on its Pedestal, and Tritons underneath. Four other Deities, large as the Life, are there painted; with the same Number of Genii or Boys, expressive of the four Seasons. The several Figures, Basso Relievos, and other pictured Ornaments, have a [p.7] beautiful Effect, and sometimes deceive the Eye very agreeably.
Turning about, and looking down the Garden, we spy a little Semi-circle of Pavillions, in an elegant Gothic Style, if this Expression may be allow'd me. At each Foot of this Semi-Circle, stands a lofty Gothic Tent, each having a fine Glass Chandelier, the Lamps in which are of a very peculiar frame, as are those in the grand Tent, built in the Grove, &c. In the Center of this Semi-Circle is a Pavillion, with a Portico before it; and over the Pavillion, a kind of Gothic Tower, with a Turret at Top. Here a Glass Moon was to have been seen; but its Light was found too dazzling for the Eye. Those who survey'd the Alley, the Grove, &c. thro' this Glass, saw a lovely Representation of them in Miniature. As the painted triumphal Arches before mentioned are in the Grecian Style, and these Pavillions in the Gothic, they form a very pleasing Contrast.
The above Mention of the Moon, will not permit me to pass by the following Address to that Planet, on the shutting up of Vaux-hall Gardens last Season:
auspicious Queen of Night!
Those envious Clouds which Beauty hide;
And round my Phyllis dart thy Light,
Whilst o'er Thames' silver Stream we glide.
once more to clasp the Fair,
In those dear Shades, where first she charm'd:
Give her, again, that killing Air
Which fondly all my Soul alarm'd.
clos'd the Ev'ning, gay, serene,
Weeping to other Regions fly;
Sure not to view a sweeter Scene,
In thy bright Progress thro' the Sky.
To return. Being advanc'd a little way up the second Side of the Quadrangle, we come to a spacious Semi-Circle of elegant Pavillions, in a different Style from the above-mention'd. In the Area, before this Semi-Circle, stand lofty Trees; and, in the Center of it, is a beautiful Marble Statue of Mr. Handel, in the character of Apollo, playing on the Lyre; with a Boy underneath, taking down the Notes. The rising Genius shewn in this Piece of Sculpture, at its being first set up, gave Occasion to the following Verses.
by the Fame of these embower'd Retreats,
See Orpheus, rising from th'Elysian Seats!
Lost to th'admiring World three thousand Years,
Beneath great Handel's Form he re-appears.
Sweetly this Miracle attracts the Eye:
But hark! for o'er the Lyre his Fingers fly.
That Statue stood, some Years since, not so far up this Side of the Quadrangle, in a kind of Alcove of Verdure; when the following Compliment was paid to the Sculptor, in a Song, entitled Greenwood-Hall; wherein a Peasant (Colin) is suppos'd to be gazing with stupid Wonder, on the countless Beauties round him:
amaz'd, I'm straying
Thro' this inchanted Grove
I spy a HARPER playing,
All in his proud Alcove.
doff my Hat, desiring
He'd tune up buxom Joan :
But what was I admiring ?
Odzooks! a Man of Stone.
At the two Extremities of this Semi-Circle, and at the Head of it, are three little Temples, as they are term'd. Over the uppermost of them, is a beautiful Groop of Figures, representing Harmony, with Genii, (all by the Sculptor above hinted at;) on which Groop, Light being thrown unperceiv'd by the Spectator, has a surprizing Effect.
On the third Side of the Quadrangle, is seen a Row of agreeable Pavillions, all decorated with Paintings.
The fourth Side of the Quadrangle, consists of Pavillions in a noble Style of Gothic Architecture. As these Pavillions are in the same Taste with those which compose a grand Semi-Circle, (to be mention'd hereafter) I shall postpone the Description of them, till I come to that Semi-Circle: And first survey the great round Room (or Rotunda) as it appear'd last Summer, and from which it differs little the present.
Turning under this range of Gothic Pavillions, which form the fourth Side of the Quadrangle, we enter the Rotunda, (70 Feet in Diameter;) an Edifice fram'd in the highest Delicacy and Taste. The Roof or Cieling is adorned with grand painted Festoons of Flowers, terminating in a Point; and looks like the Dome, if I may so speak, of a most august, royal Tent. This Roof is so contriv'd, that Sounds never vibrate under it; by which means, Music is heard to the greatest Advantage here. The Walls are elegantly [p.10] painted in Mosaic. There were 16 Sash Windows, the Frames whereof, (design'd by a very able Artist, to whom the Rotunda owes many Embellishments,) are in an elegant Style of Carving, (each Window being crown'd with a Plume of Feathers, the Crest of His Royal Highness the PRINCE OF WALES;) as were likewise the Frames of 16 oval Looking-Glasses, with two-arm'd Sconces. In all these Glasses the Spectator, when standing under the Balls of the grand Chandelier, might see himself reflected at once, to his pleasing Wonder. Under the Sash Windows, were 16 fine white Busts, standing on carv'd Brackets; and each between two white Vases, representing eminent Personages, antient and modern. In the Center of the Rotunda hangs the magnificent Chandelier above hinted at, it being eleven Feet in Diameter. It consists of three Rows of Arms, for Candles (72 in all;) and the whole is the Performance of a Gentleman, who having a Talent for Works of this kind, exercises himself in them, merely for his Amusement. Fronting the Door (within) fram'd of Tuscan Pillars and a Pediment, all agreeably painted, was an elegant Orchestra,* where the Band used to perform, in cold or rainy Weather. At the Extremity of this Orchestra, stood an Organ; and, before the whole, a Rail, over which were wax Candles, issuing from artificial Roses.
*The Situation of it is now chang'd, as the Reader will see hereafter
Such was the Rotunda last Season; but it is now seen with the following additional Embellishments, form'd by laying open a Portion of the Circle of the Room in question, and enlarging it.
[p.11] From this Opening is continued the new Room, if I may so speak, (for this Room, with the Rotunda, make at present but one Edifice) the former being about 70 Feet long, and 34 broad. At that Part of the Rotunda where the additional Room was made, is a Screen of Columns, in a very grand Style of Architecture. These Columns are embellish'd with Foliage, from the Base a considerable way upwards; and the remaining Part of the Shaft, to the Capital (of the Composite Order) is finely wreath'd with a Gothic Balustrade, where Boys are represented ascending it. Within this added Room, are ten three-quarter Columns, (five on each side.) The Architrave consists of a Balustrade; the Frieze is enrich'd with sportive Boys; and the Cornice supported by Women, in the Form of Terms. Between the three-quarter Columns, are four grand elegant Frames (with two smaller) made for Pictures. In the eliptical arch'd Roof, of the added Room, are two little Cupolas in a peculiar Taste. The Summit of each is a Sky-Light, divided into ten Compartments, glaz'd; and the Frames are in a pleasing Gothic Style. Each Cupola is adorn'd with Paintings: Apollo, the Muses, with Pan, being seen in the One; and Neptune, with Sea-Nymphs, in the Other: And both have a rich Entablature, with a swelling Soffita. Above each Cupola springs an Arch finely embellish'd, and forming Compartments. From the Center (a rich Gothic Frame) of each Cupola descends a noble Chandelier in the Form of a Basket of Flowers. To proceed to the new Orchestra. This (as it stands at present) fronts the added Room. The Orchestra is inclos'd with a Balustrade, between a Screen of splendid Columns, like to those before describ'd. On the [p.12] Cieling of this Orchestra, Venus, and the little Loves are painted, as are, on the Sides, Corinthian Columns, between which four Deities in Niches are represented. At the Extremity of the Orchestra is an Organ; before which stand the Desks, plac'd semi-circularly, for the musical Performers.
The Rotunda thus enlarg'd, by means of the Room above describ'd, the whole (as was said) forms a most elegant Edifice, which I must call the Temple of Pleasure, whose Architect must be a Genius.
To survey this Temple in all its Glory, we must enter it by the Portico, standing in the Semi-circle of Gothic Pavillions and fronting the new Orchestra within. A curious Observer thus plac'd, when the Temple is illuminated, fill'd with Company, and the Music playing in it; is so charm'd, by all he sees and hears, that the whole may appear to him a magical Scene. Again, a Person who should stand at the Orchestra within the Temple, and look down it, would perceive (in the Day-time) the Prospect beautifully terminated by a verdant Wood, between the Sides of the Porticos; and (at Night) the distant Lights glittering amid the dark Verdure. Let me add, that one who might place himself near this Verdure, under the Gothic Portico where the Moon is represented, would be most agreeably surpriz'd, to hear the Music as distinctly as if he was in the Temple. In a word, an intelligent Spectator of a warm Imagination, is so variously delighted here, that he need not envy the Transports felt by the antient Greeks, in their Idalian, Cnidian, or Paphian Temples of Venus; those tasted by him being equal, if not superior; [p.14] and unsullied by the Guilt of which the Votaries of that Goddess were often conscious.Thus much for the Temple of Pleasure, the four Sides of the Grove, and the Parts of the Garden seen from them.
Leaving the above Temple, by that Door which looks upon the Quadrangle; let us walk into, and survey the Grove, about which is a spacious gravel Walk; where a very great Part of the Company, (as was hinted) stray up and down, during the Time of the musical Entertainment.
Spot! where Sculpture, Painting join
With Music, to improve the Bowl:
Where Art and Nature both combine
To raise the Mind, and glad the Soul.
This Grove consists of lofty Trees, in the Center of which stands a grand ORGAN; and, joining to it, an Edifice term'd the musical Temple, rais'd in a pleasing Style; and from thence the Performers, both vocal and instrumental, are heard when the Weather is fine. At a little Distance from those Buildings, and fronting each Face of them, are four triumphal Arches, (as they are term'd) of Lamps. Here the Splendor is so great, as well as in the Temple of Pleasure, that the juvenile Part of both Sexes may enjoy their darling Passion: the seeing others, and being seen by them.
in curious Order planted,
Strike the Eye with sweet Surprize:
Adam was not more inchanted
When he saw the Sun first rise.
Under the above-mentioned Edifices are a kind of Pavillions, to accommodate the Company. At a little Distance from this Seat of Music is a noble Tent, in a most elegant Style; design'd by an ingenious Artist, who has a happy Talent for such Works. In the Center of this Tent is a large Glass Chandelier, and four small Ones at each Corner. The Dome is finely carv'd; painted Blue and Gold, and supported by eight Columns of the Ionic Order. The outward Roof stands on twelve Columns. Between these (both within and without) hang very rich Festoons of Flowers, which have a fine Effect. The Outside of the Dome is variously embellished, and surmounted by a grand Plume of Feathers; with little glass Balls over the Doric Columns. Under this Tent are fourteen Tables, which, when fill'd with Company, form a delightful Picture.
this Tent, we think of Issus Plain,
Where fled Darius, half his Persians slain;
When Philip's Victor Son the Queens survey'd,
And weeping Sisygambis claim'd his Aid.
The GROVE containing about five Acres, is fill'd with numberless Tables, formerly cover'd with red Bays; which look'd very agreeably amid the Verdure. I am to observe, that most of the Pavillions which constitute the Boundaries of the Quadrangle, wherein the Grove stands, are adorn'd with a great Number of Pictures, the Subjects whereof are very various. Two or three of the most beautiful among them are particularly applauded in the Song, where Colin is supposed to attempt a Description of the various Embellishments of these Gardens.
Here Paintings, sweetly glowing,
Where e're our Glances fall;
Here Colours, Life bestowing,
Bedeck this Greenwood-Hall.
there, dubs a
There John his Doxy loves:
But my Delight's a Charmer,
Who steals a pair of Gloves.
Whilst Songs, &c. are performing, Multitudes croud round the Organ, and the Musical Temple, in this Grove. Shall we attend for a Moment to the passionate Lover?
I long to tread thy Maze!
To wander thro' its Fairy Rounds;
On Groops of gliding Beauties gaze,
And listen to the warbling Sounds!
blest Powers [Bowers]
of vivid Green,
If Chloe come, as Snow-Drops fair,
Her Presence will enrich the Scene,
And all Elysium open there.
In short, when the Night is warm and serene; the Gardens fill'd with fine Company, and different Parts of them are illuminated, the Imagination cannot frame a more inchanting Spectacle. A Person of an elegant turn of Mind, who had never heard of Vaux-hall Gardens, and should be conveyed to them in his Sleep, might, at his being awaked by the Music and the Company, be suppos'd to break into the following Exclamation:
Where am I? O what Wonders rise?
What Scenes are these that glitter round.
Some Vision, sure, must bless my Eyes;
Or this must be inchanted Ground!
Objects I behold,
What Being did me here convey?
This Secret, (lovely Nymphs!) unfold
In Whispers, as you round me stray.
of this delicious Spot,
Give Credit to the Grecian Song;
The vocal Grove, the Sybil Grot;
The Trees by Music drawn along.
let fam'd Historians boast
The Banquet of the amorous Queen;*
When Cydnus Banks the World engross'd
Spectators of the dazzling Scene.
on its LANTHORN-FEAST,
Again, in endless Praises run,
Tho' Lamps, on clust'ring Lamps increas'd
In Splendor emulate the Sun.
ev'ry Sense is charm'd
O whither shall I turn my Eye!
Each roving Faculty alarm'd,
In sweet Amaze enrapt I lie.
* Cleopatra, when she regaled Mark Antony in Egypt. The Entertainment as described by an Historian, must have been very like that of Vaux-hall.
At this Feast (solemnised annually,) the whole Empire of China is so finely illuminated; that could a Spectator survey every part, from some vast Eminence, it would appear as one universal Blaze.
[p.17] These are the suppos'd Exclamations of a Person of Reading and Taste, on his first seeing Vaux-hall Gardens, in the manner above described. The Effect which those Beauties had, on the admiring, rude Colin, tho' different, seems altogether as natural:
when first I enter'd,
Such Splendors round me shone,
Into a World I ventur'd
Where rose another Sun.
Music never cloying,
As Sky Lark's sweet I hear:
The Sounds I'm still enjoying;
They'll always sooth my Ear.
One great Pleasure felt in this Grove, by an intelligent, contemplative Spectator, is for him to observe, in how beautiful a Variety the several Objects of it groop, as he moves through the different Parts of this magical Spot; a Pleasure greatly superior to that met with in any other Entertainment of the same Kind. Methinks I hear an enamour'd Youth, who was us'd to frequent these Shades with the Idol of his Affections, address her in the following Strains:
blest Grove, how oft have We
Observ'd the different Objects play?
A Statue, Tent, Alcove, or Tree,
Now seem to join, now break away.
and we the Picture change,
For other Objects groop'd we view:
Wond'ring, from Scene to Scene we range,
Ever delightful! ever new!
[p.18] Having thus given a faint Description of the Grove with its four Sides, and the numberless Objects seen from them: If we proceed down that Side of it, which forms Part of the long Visto, seen at our first Entrance into these Gardens, and terminated by the Statue of Aurora; we shall come to the grand Semi-circle of Pavillions, (where the Sun, Moon and Stars are represented) hinted at above.
These Pavillions are in a noble Style of Gothic Architecture, as was observ'd. Almost at each Foot, and in the upper Part of this Semi-circle are three large Pavillions, called Temples. To speak first of these. Their Cielings are set off with Rays, and separated (above) by painted Arches. The Front of each Pavillion is a Gothic Arcade, embellished with Rays, and a kind of Term. Before the three Temples, and these Gothic Pavillions throughout, is a Colonnade 500 Feet in length, under which the Company may walk very commodiously in rainy Weather. The Entablature consists of a carved Freeze, with Battlements over the Cornice. To return to the three Temples: Their Cielings are painted Gothic. Each Temple has a Dome, with Pediments, and a beautiful Turret in the Summit. The uppermost Temple is the most magnificent; it being adorned with a Sun, Stars, Pinacles, wreathed Columns, and a great Variety of other rich Gothic Ornaments, all of which are far from looking heavy. The Cieling of this Temple has been decorated (this Season,) with a whimsical Piece of Painting; the Subject being Vulcan, catching Mars and Venus in his Net; the whole drawn in the Chinese Taste.
[p.19] This Range of Temples and Pavillions has a noble Effect; they being built in a peculiar, and very elegant Style of Gothic Architecture, as was hinted. Before the uppermost Temple is a Visto of Lamps, as 'tis term'd. Adjoyning to these Gothic Pavillions, (in, and near the grand Cross-Walk, where the Picture of Ruins is seen) is the Representation of two antient Castles, with Turrets and Battlements. Over one of the two Temples, standing on the Sides of the Semi-circle, (and fronting the Portico by which we enter the Temple of Pleasure,) as [is] a Moon; and this, with the above-mentioned Sun, Stars, (all of them transparent) being illuminated, make a beautiful Appearance in a dark Night; spite of the Criticks, who would fain laugh our nocturnal Sun out of Countenance.
Leaving the Gothic Pavillions, we come to a very spacious gravel Walk, (already mentioned) at right Angles with the long Vistos, and crossing the whole Garden. One End of this Cross-Walk is terminated by lofty Trees; and, at the Extremity of the Other, is painted a fine Piece of Ruins, which has sometimes deceived the Eye very agreeably.
At the Extremity (to the Left,) of the wide gravel Walk in question, are rural Downs, as they are term'd, in the Form of a long Square; with little Eminences, after the Manner of a Roman Camp. In these Downs were three Openings, (last Season) covered with Shrubs; whence some styl'd them the musical Bushes, whilst others call'd the subterraneous Sounds heard there, the Fairy Music. This Music is now heard, as we walk, from under Ground; as also from the Trees in the Thickets: a romantic Pleasure to [p.20] some Dispositions, and may put them in mind of that imaginary Being, call'd the Genius of the Wood; or rather may image to them the vocal Forest.
These Downs, where Lambs were seen sporting, are cover'd with Turf; and pleasingly interspers'd with young Cypress, Fir, Yew, Cedar, and Tulip Trees. On one of the above Eminences in these Downs, is a Statue representing our great Poet Milton, as drawn by himself in his Il Penseroso, seated on a Rock; and in an Attitude listening to soft Music. Two Sides of these Downs are bordered with a gravel Walk, (fenced by a Net,) whence we have a delightful View of St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Lambeth, &c. A View far unlike the rest seen from the other Parts of these Gardens. The Company were very fond, last Season, of straying in the Hollow or Descent of these Downs. This Spot seemed to be the Rendezvous of Cupid; it being as much crouded in an Evening with Lovers, as the Royal Exchange is at two o'Clock, with Men of Business.
At the upper End of these Downs is a gravel Walk, which runs cross the whole Gardens; and terminates them this way. At one Extremity of this Walk is a Picture, representing an Alcove; consisting of three Niches, with Flora and Genii in them, all pleasingly decorated. At the other End of this gravel Walk, is a Piece of Painting representing another Alcove, with Scaffolding for Artists to work upon.
At the Mention of the Goddess of Flowers, your Lordship will permit me to digress, for only a Stanza or two, on Occasion of a splendid NOSEGAY (gathered in Sight of Vaux-hall) which was presented to a Lady whose Accomplishments deserve every Elogium the Muse can bestow:
the Treasures of the Spring,
In all the Pride of Nature gay;
Brought hither on Favonius' Wing,
To hail THEE Sovereign of the May.
their Birth these
Their Fragrance and resplendent Dyes.
Protection on thy Bard bestow,
And bright, as they, his Lays shall rise.
Nothing can be more entertaining to certain Minds, than to rove solitarily in the above-mentioned Walk, in a Moon-light Night; and to hear, (alternately or together) the distant Music of the Orchestra, the Philomelas in the Thickets, and the Peal of Bells from St Mary Overs.
Bells, in tuneful Peal;
Soon plaintive Nightingales we hear:
Next, rival Flutes melodious steal;
Next, the full Concert charms our Ear.
Bells, and Woodland Lays,
So sweetly in Confusion mix,
The various Sounds (by Turns) we praise,
And know not on which kind to fix.
Most of the above-mentioned Vistos and Walks, are the Boundaries of Wildernesses composed of Trees, which shoot to a very great Height; and are all inclosed with a handsome Espalier, in the Chinese Taste. These Wildernesses are the verdant Abode of Nightingales, Blackbirds, Thrushes, and other feather'd Minstrels, who, in the most delightful Season of the Year, ravish the Ears of the Company with their Harmony. With what Rapture [p.22] might a Lover, who was blessed with the Presence of his darling Fair-One, and tir'd with the Noise and Tumult of London, cry, as they were musing in the lonely Parts of this Garden!
from Town, Life's idle Cares forgot,
How have I hail'd, (with Extasy!) my Lot,
When folding thee, from Bow'r to Bow'r we stray'd,
Whilst sportive Moon-Beams glitter'd thro' the Glade!
Or, darkling, sought the Glow-Worm's twinkling Ray!
Or listen'd to the Nightingale's fond Lay!
Thus blest, what Mortals cou'd with us compare,
Eden this Spot, and we the happy PAIR!
Giving a farther Loose to his Imagination, he might fancy the above Wildernesses to be inhabited by Comus; and that he, with his jocund Companions, was gazing invidiously at the Company, who were amusing themselves with so much Innocence, in this delightful Garden. Heated, by his Enthusiasm, he might Hail
Walks, where reverend Elms aspire,
Its gay Alcoves, and its harmonious Choir:
Its moss-grown Thickets, where the Sylvans sport;
And COMUS keeps, unseen by Man, his Court:
Leads up the giddy Train, with Chaplets crown'd,
Quaffing and tripping wildly, round and round:
Stopping at Intervals, his giddy Rout,
Envious, to view the harmless Joys without.
The Mention of the revelling God, recalls to my Memory a supposed Proclamation, issued by that Deity, two or three Days before the closing of this Entertainment, a Season or two since:
Yes! O Yes! O Yes! Be it known,
In the Grove at Vaux-hall, I, this Night, fix my Throne.
By my Courtiers hemm'd round; a broad Laugh on my Face,
The Hyp I'll dispel, and the Vapours I'll chace.
then, and Swains, who are wounded at Heart,
By an Ogle or Frown, in the Shape of a Dart,
Haste hither: I'll save you from Rope or from Stream,
And cure you of Love as you'd wake from a Dream.
not by Six, as you value your Peace,
A sweet-sounding Name, and your Beauty's increase.
Past three or four Days, from this Spot I shall fly,
Then what wou'd you give, were blithe Comus but nigh?
'Twould be endless to attempt a Description of every Beauty in these Gardens; many Parts of which being illuminated, shine forth in all their Glory, in a dark Night; and seem a strong Representation of the fam'd Elizium, (as was observ'd) on which antient Poets have lavished the most lovely Colours. Was it possible for Homer and Virgil to return to Earth, and visit this Spot, with Extasy would they seize their Lyres, and sing the various Charms of this Garden.
Pleasures here are found!
Now wand'ring lonely, up and down,
The lofty Trees, which shade us round,
Waft us in Fancy far from Town.
Lo! the Magician waves
And in some Monarch's Court we seem,
Such Crouds move round, so bright each Band:
The whole is a delicious Dream!
After the Music is ended for the Night, 'tis vastly agreeable to wind round the Ranges of Pavillions, and gaze at the numberless Parties, (some of whom are frequently attended by French Horns) supping in their several Bowers. The Multitude of Groops surveyed on this Occasion, varying in Figure, Age and Dress; the different Attitudes in which the Parties appear, and the Disparity of their Humours, form methinks, (altogether) an exquisite School of Painting. And so many of our lovely Countrywomen visit these blissful Bowers, that was Zeuxis again to attempt the Picture of Venus, 'tis from hence, and not from Greece, that he would compose his Image of perfect Beauty.
After the Sketch thus attempted of these Gardens, it may not be improper just to hint at one Circumstance, that contributes very much to the Convenience, as well as to the Beauty, of this Entertainment; and for want whereof, indeed, it could not well subsist: I mean the Readiness with which the numberless Tables are serv'd, with whatever may be call'd for; a Decorum that could not take Place, nor the Master of the Gardens keep a just Account of the various Articles deliver'd out to his Waiters, was it not for Order. This, indeed, is so exact, that Many have wonder'd how it could be possible for three or four thousand Persons to be regularly entertain'd, at different Tables, at one and the same Time. The Bands thus feasting, form (altogether) as [p.25] grand a Picture as the Imagination can frame. Well, therefore, might the rural Colin suppose, as he was gazing on the silver Queen of Night, that
i'th'Moon tweer'd slily,
Soft twinkling thro' the Trees;
As tho' 'twou'd please him highly,
To taste Delights like these.
As this Spot abounds with such an endless Variety of Charms, I should not wonder to hear an enthusiastic Admirer of them, thus fondly address his Mistress, on their being obliged to leave England, and consequently these Gardens for ever:
we, dear Belinda! bid adieu
To these fam'd Shades, which ev'ry Joy renew?
Where my fond trembling Heart first felt Alarms,
Struck with the Awful Lustre of thy Charms.
Must we no more with sweet Delusion stray,
Mid these gay Bow'rs, and their mix'd Charms survey?
The Bands of Nymphs and Swains; the proud Alcove;*
The winding Glade where Beauty us'd to rove.
Not see the Moon-Beams thro' the verdure play,
Till lost in Splendors that eclipse the Day:
Nor listen whilst sad Philomel complains,
Blending her tuneful Woe with sweeter Strains.
'Tis done! blest Scene! who can thy Beauties tell,
Nymphs, Swains, Bow'rs, Harmony:a last farewell!
our first Parents, when compell'd to fly
From Eden, view it with a watry Eye.
The Life of Bliss, which they no more must lead;
The baleful State, alas! for them decreed:
(Fatal Reverse!) their sorrowing Souls employ,
And, from their Breasts, shut ev'n a Glimpse of Joy.
*The Prince's Pavillion
But this tender parting from so delicious a Scene, puts me in mind, that 'tis Time for me to leave it also; especially as my dwelling much longer upon it, might be too great a Trespass on your Lordship's Patience; which Circumstance only, will force me to lay down the Pen; for otherwise, I could have dwelt with Rapture for Hours, on this most delightful Subject. Here then I will close my imperfect Description of Vaux-hall Gardens:
blest SPOT! The fairy Glades,
The pensive Druids vocal Shades;
The Paphian Woods, th'Idalian Groves,
Where Dian' chid the laughing Loves;
Alcinous' gay Retreats;
Enraptur'd Psyche's magic Seats:
The Paradise by Mahm't drawn,
Fade when your brighter Beauties dawn:
Ev'n fam'd Elizium yields to You.
Adieu: delicious SPOT! Adieu.
As these Gardens abound with so many Beauties, both natural and artificial (the Latter of which are increasing every Year,) 'tis no Wonder, that they should have been the darling Resort of all Persons of Taste, ever since their being opened in this Form. The extraordinary and very just [p.27] Success, which the several Entertainments of them always met with, gave rise to many Copies in the Neighbourhood of our Metropolis, as well as in different Parts of our Island; but then, like Copies, they sink far below the admired ORIGINAL; Vaux-hall Garden being more immediately the Thing for which it was intended. Farther, this Imitation has not been confined merely to Great Britain; there having been one, to which the Manager gave the Name of Vaux-hall, at the Hague. This Entertainment met with Success, it having been frequented by Persons of the first Figure in Holland; and honoured with the Presence of the STATHOLDER and his illustrious CONSORT. There is an Entertainment of the same Kind in Ireland.
To return to Vaux-hall Garden. The Charm and Innocence of the Entertainments exhibited there, have made them the Delight (as was declared) of all Persons of Reputation and Taste; so that even Bishops have been seen in this Recess, without injuring their Character. Its Fame is spread to such a Degree, in every Quarter of the World, that one of the first Enquiries made, by a polite Foreigner, who visits us in the Summer, is, when he may share in the Diversions of these Gardens. The Master, in return for the Favours with which he is perpetually honour'd by the Public, is adding Improvements to them every Year, as was hinted. Whilst he is greatly indebted to the Public for their Countenance: They, (if I mistake not) may almost be said to owe some Obligations to him, upon a double Account. First, for his having suppress'd a much-frequented rural Brothel, (as it once was;) which gave rise to the following Lines, on seeing [p.28] leud Women refused Admittance into Vaux-hall Garden, after that an Orchestra had been introduced into it:
in all the Pride of Spring array'd,
Improv'd by Music warbling thro' the Shade;
But, for the Serpent, did fam'd Eden seem,
(Sweet Fancy aiding the delicious Dream.)
The Serpent banish'd, justly 'tis design'd,
To charm an elegant and virtuous Mind.
'Twas in Allusion to the Sobriety and Chastity of this mirthful Entertainment, that the following Verses were hit off:
to whom Honour is dear,
Uncensur'd may take off her Glass:
And stray among Beaux without Fear,
No Snake lurking here in the Grass.
Where Mirth, Wit, and Innocence join'd;
The Swains thus discreetly were bold,
The Nymphs were thus prudently kind.
To return to my Argument. The Public are (I presume,) obliged in some little measure, to the Master, on a second Account, viz. for his having chang'd the leud Scene above-mentioned, to another of the most rational, elegant, and innocent Kind. Those serious Persons who look upon it as One of the great Instruments of Luxury, (the Extremes whereof are very fatal to a Nation, and which makes too rapid a Progress among us) may please to reflect, that Multitudes, who inhabit this vast City, will [p.29] take a Bottle, somewhere or other, every Evening; whatever grave Divines and Moralists might preach or write to the contrary: And that it is far more healthy, for such Persons to rove about, and take a Glass in these Gardens, than to be coop'd up every Night, in a Tavern in London; as was the Practice, before the Entertainment in question took place. Let me add, that many might not scruple to intoxicate themselves with Wine, when conceal'd by a Room; who yet would not hazard their being seen in Liquor, in a Place free and open to Thousands. 'Tis confess'd, that Inconveniences and Abuses, (from the Texture of all mortal Things) will creep into the wisest human Institutions; and that even Religion (fair Daughter of the Sky!) is not exempt from them: But it must be granted, on the other hand, that Diversions, of one sort or another, are absolutely necessary to Mankind; and therefore, the greatest Wisdom of Legislators seems to be, to make Choice of such Diversions as may polish; without corrupting the Minds, or enervating the Bodies, of the People whom they govern. The wise, rich Men among the Antients us'd to recreate their Spirits, after the Fatigues and Toils of the Day, with a Concert of Music; but never in a Morning, as is the Custom crept in lately among us; a Custom extremely illaudable, since it may (especially) prevent many of our Superiors, from discharging the Duties they owe to their native Country; and transform them to so many Sybarites. Farther, it seems not proper, that even these Summer-Evening Entertainments should be permitted to multiply, (especially the pedling ones;) because such lessen the Industry, promote the Expence, and consequently impoverish the [p.30] common People, who are well known to be the Basis of a State. Let all Ranks among us be more or less industrious, but let us not be Goths. The Industry of the Dutch is very much to be commended; but then their Indelicacy deserves proportionable Contempt. The useful and the polite ARTS should go Hand in Hand, and be consider'd as Sisters; and none, except the Tasteless, will think their Union impracticable. To possess, like the Dutch, a mighty Magazine of all things useful and curious, for which every part of the Globe had been ransack'd, and not enjoy them; could convey (one would think) no other Satisfaction than that groveling one which a Miser feels, in counting over perpetually his Treasure, without daring to employ a single Farthing of it. Methinks one of the great Arts of Life is, to pass thro' it with elegant Innocence, if that Epithet may be allow'd. 'Tis evident, that what is said above, relates only to People of Education, and a polite Turn of Mind. But to wave all Reflections of this Cast: Providence seems to have indulg'd these Gardens, one special Mark of its Favour, in not permitting a single Person to be drown'd, tho' so many Thousands have return'd from them by the Thames, in very boisterous Weather. And now all Fears of perishing in the Water, in the Passage to, or from Vaux-hall, are happily remov'd, by the very fine Bridge lately built cross our River at Westminster; a Structure, which is justly the Admiration of Foreigners; and forms one of the noblest Pieces of Art in this Island; and indeed, in the World, of the kind: The view of which Bridge, especially when illuminated, adds to the Delight of the Curious, in their Return from Vaux-hall. [p.31] Another Pleasure found (occasionally,) in going to, or coming from thence by Water, is to hear the Trumpets or French Horns, which frequently attend on the Boats of Persons of Distinction. A Concert of this kind, in a fine Moon-light Night, is a great Addition to our Joy. To crown the Reputation of this much-frequented Recess, the late PRINCE, and the PRINCESS OF WALES, the great Patrons of all things excellent, gave the highest Sanction to them, by sending (last Season,) their Commands, (the only Honour of this Sort) to the Master of the Spring-Gardens, for him to open them, (for once,) in the Morning. The winning Condescension shown by their ROYAL HIGHNESSES on that Occasion (and indeed, on every other) gave Rise to the following just Elogium:
wins Ye thus our Hearts?
Why, as Ye pass, do Thousands bless?
Your Temper sweet, Your Love of Arts;
Of Merit:most if in Distress.
where we such Goodness trace,
Proclaim a Heav'n-resembling Mind.
Princes whom the mild Virtues grace,
Must be the Darlings of Mankind.
At the Mention of the above NAMES, my Pen naturally stops, and cannot pass to any other theme. These Names will for ever be dear to your Lordship, as no one was more perfectly acquainted with the Merit of the illustrious Personages, to whom they belong. To sketch a Garden is very easy; but to pourtray MINDS, where dwelt Grace, Benevolence; every Virtue [p.32] that can adorn the Soul, and make a People happy: This is a Task worthy of your Lordship, whose Heart is best fram'd, whose Head is best qualified, to delineate such rare Excellencies. You have been pleased to strike out a beautiful Miniature, on this Subject, already. Hence, in firm Hopes of seeing the Picture drawn to a much greater Length, by the same noble Hand, I beg leave to subscribe myself, with all possible Veneration,
Your Lordship's most obliged,
and most devoted Servant.
F I N I S.
VAUXHALL GARDENS 16611859