[From the Dublin Penny Journal, Vol. 1, No. 6, August 4, 1832]
Terenure, the Seat of Frederick Bourne, Esq.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE DUBLIN PENNY JOURNAL.
Sir-The citizens of Dublin of the middle and poorer classes are rather unkindly treated by some of the noble and affluent among their countrymen, who with a spirit of exclusiveness unknown in many other countries, debar them from a sight of those parks, palaces, and pleasure-grounds, within which they repose. Often have I, when coasting along a park wall, whose jealous coping towered far above my head, wished that the niggard possessor had half a day's residence at the bottom of a dry well, just to teach him, in rather a different style than Parnell's angel taught the miser, not to begrudge the king's lieges a sight of his improvements. Not a few act as if they thought another man's enjoyment would lessen their own, and, as if another's breathing the common air of heaven in the neighourhood of their demense, would taint the atmosphere within their own enclosures. In this way, not long ago, a heavy-pursed man, who had purchased a fine property in the county of Wicklow, did not feel himself quite snug in the midst of lawns, glens, waterfalls, and rocks, until he had excluded vulgar eye-sight by a twelve-feet wall. Surely his lordship was mistaken in supposing that thereby he kept Satan from leaping into his paradise! Alas, the foul fiend had already taken possession of a narrower and nearer enclosure-his head-quarters were beneath his lordship's ribs and his name was selfishness.
Now Ireland is, of many countries under the face of the smiling sun, most remarkable for this exhibition of the effectual working of appropriation. In England, a silver-key will open many a proud man's gate; and, even if you have not money to bribe gate-keepers, and house-keepers, you may get a glimpse of the demense either over or through the park paling. But here stones and lime are so plenty, that the great man can wall away at a cheap rate; and Mr. and Mrs. Grundy of Grafton-street, who, after being pent up for weeks at measuring tape and posting ledgers, have ventured to take a day's pleasure in the country, are compelled to travel, on a fine day in July, amid clouds of almost animated dust, arising from an equally almost suffocating road, their horse kicking under the bites of horse-flies, and themselves sweltering under a blistering burning sun,-in vain do they stretch their curious necks to come at the rural scenery on either side-high walls-(Oh, I hate high walls!) and beltings of lofty trees almost shut out the very mountains from the view, and they go on, coasting demense after demense, that they cannot see, and dare no more enter, than a cruiser may venture on the cliff-bound and battery protected shores of a hostile kingdom.
Now, there are exceptions to these remarks, even in Ireland, and Saxon and stranger though I be, I have met instances of it which have pleased me exceedingly. Walking in the neighbourhood of Terenure, situated in one of the numerous pretty outlets of Dublin, I was struck with the number of carriages, jaunting-cars, and pedestrians, either standing at the gate, or issuing in and out of the demesne. "Why," says I to myself, " is there an auction going on here? Perhaps some of our great merchants-some eminent distiller, brewer, or notary public, has, after enclosing this park for himself, figured in the Gazette-his bubble has burst, and here are his creditors now gathering in their 2s. 6d. in the pound, and bringing to the hammer all that his soul rejoiced in '." But it turned out quite the reverse. terenure is the demesne of frederick bourne, Esq. a gentleman who, having acquired his property by the public, is desirous that the public should see how he disposes of a portion of it, and therefore his gates are open to all who may choose to walk in, and his capital and his taste, and his science, are laid down here, that the meanest and the humblest citizen, may see, enjoy, and admire.
On entering Terenure, you perceive that it has no natural beauties. The grounds are flat and fat, producing a rich abundance of lofty elms-the house is not remarkable-but the large gardens, fraught with all the glories of Pomona and Flora form the grand attraction. No expense has been spared-all that care, labour, science, and taste, can do, has been done ; the well constructed conservatories supply the natural defects of our climate by means of the newest mechanical inventions-hot water circulating through all parts, and communicating a genial warmth, such as neither steam nor hot air burnt in the old way, by passing overheated iron, can impart; and then the beautiful flower pots-such beds of roses-such amaranthine odours, as neither Damascus itself, nor those Sabeau vales that gave the Arabian prophet an idea of his sensual paradise-can surpass !
The pleasure I enjoyed in walking through these gardens was greatly enhanced by the idea of the perfect disinterestedness of their owner. If you walk through a highly-cultivated farm-and a well-cultivated farm is a beautiful sight-though you may be struck with the well-contrived arrangements- with the teeming luxuriance of the crops-with the simple yet perfect adjustment of the machinery, yet you say to yourself, the proprietor will have his profit in all this-it will amply repay him. But not so the florist. His beds of hyacinths-his stages of auriculas-his Dutch tulips and Turkish anemonies-all that the Cape, Australia, or China, can supply-instead of yielding something to boil in the pot, very seriously extract from the pocket, as I daresay the proprietor of Terenure can well tell. But who would begrudge him riding so innocent, so beautiful, and so accommodating a hobby? He is spending the money acquired by speculations which have been beneficial to Ireland, in Ireland, and giving employment to many, not merely in the way of his business, but in the bent of his pleasure. His demesne is open to all -no greedy gardener is allowed to traffic his civilities for shillings-all is as open and as free as at the Jarden des Plantes at Paris.
Now, if any of your readers have been in the habit of reading the valuable Penny Magazine, published by the Society for diffusing Useful Knowledge, they may remember seeing an extract from the Quarterly Review, in which it is said that though on the Continent the people are freely admitted into museums, parks, galleries, &c. yet owing to the propensity of the English to mischief, they must be excluded as much as possible from these places of public entertainment. Without discussing this point, I would only say, that the owner of Terenure has to guard against a circumstance which is unknown in the French gardens, already alluded to; but grieved am I to say, that Irish florists have a propensity of appropriating what is rich and rare-even at the risk of a breach of the eighth commandment. But mind, I do not say this of the middle classes-no! the simple citizen, who knows not the difference between a rose unique and a blush rose, or a tag from a jonquil, or an anemone from a ranunculus, walks, admires, and touches not: but it is your tasty lady or gentleman against whom the accusation comes, those who know the value of a rare flower or plant, who have their own floral snuggary, their own well-guarded paradise, who cannot see a black or a white moss rose, or any other splendid expensive monster of the kingdom of Flora, without feeling a longing desire, and casting a lingering look. Oh, ye gardeners and collectors, beware of such-war-hawk- watch well the one we hint at; Barrington himself was not so light-fingered. Such greediness will grasp at one of the most prized and gorgeous of your garden beauties-let gardeners in such a demesne as Terenure beware of a lady coming in a carriage, with her fair hands enveloped in a muff; Oh, the supple nimbleness of those fair fingers: Oh, the convenient concealments of that capacious muff-Mercury himself invented muffs-so admirably adapted to cover a billet-doux or a bulbous root-a piece of lace or a fat fowl-a round of ribbon or a pound of sausages! Suppose, by way of illustration, one fine day in spring, just before the show of flowers at the Rotunda, a well-appointed yellow chariot drives up in rapid style to Terenure, and the footman alights, and a lady walks in to see the grounds. Furthermore, suppose that Mr. B. on liberal thought intent, himself comes out, and volunteers to show this fair fashionable all the blooming exuberance of his gardens-for, mind you, reader it is delightful, really delightful, to exhibit rarities belonging to oneself, and to descant with science, taste, and ardour, on the distinctive qualities of each fine thing, under the chuckling feeling that all this is mine-exclusively mine ! But when this is done in the presence of a pretty woman, whose sparkling eye flashes with a perfect understanding and tasteful community of sentiment-when the rich red lip, rivalling the very rose that is the subject of discourse, expresses its admiration and pleasure in honied words-who could stand this? Why, Argus himself would not know whether he was standing on his head or his heels-and his eyes, had he a thousand instead of a hundred, would be glued up with the gum of pleasurable confidence! Just further suppose the pair to walk from bed to parterre, and from parterre to conservatory, and from conservatory to hot-house-when lo, the serene repose of confidential communication is set ajar by a whisper from one of the numerous gardeners-a man from the "north countrie," who, with provincial shrewdness, says, en passant, " Master, your best auricula has left its ain place-maybe yon unco lady, could tell you something about it, for if I'm no mista'en, she has it, pot and all, in her muff!" What was Mr. B. to do? Was he so gruff to seize the lady's muff, and drag the auricula into day-light No; feigning an excuse that it was necessary to shut the garden in order that the workmen might go to dinner, he, with continued affability, led the lovely lady plunderer towards her equipage, and handing her in, said with great suavity, " Madam, you have done me the honor to admire the auricula I intended for the show of flowers-I am highly gratified-you are taking it home to show to your friends-I am better pleased-but as the confinement of your muff may injure the delicate mealy efflorescence for which the plant is celebrated, pray allow me to disengage it from its happy prison; here, Tom Turfington," calling to the watchful guardian, "you can, if the lady chooses, attend her home, and as soon as she has admired this auricula, and displayed it to her friends, bring it back-I must always prize it the more on account of the discriminating partiality with which it has been honored." The worthy gentleman made his bow, and retired -the detected and doubtless abashed lady resigned the auricula into the hands of Tom Turtington, and drove off; and Tom and his fellow-gardeners have ever since evinced a watchful jealousy of lovely ladies who come provided with muffs, especially on a warm spring day, and who talk knowingly- look around surreptitiously-and with pretty paws play-pickingly among the flower-beds.
Now, this little story is, perhaps, a pure invention of my own, and I tell it just to show that the owners of improved grounds and fine gardens are not entirely to blame when they exclude the public from their properties. If all visitors would, like the French, learn that delicate abstemiousness of using the sense of seeing, without putting forward the pawing propensity-if they would neither pluck, derange, carve names on trees, or scratch bad verses on glass, there might be many other estates thrown open to their inspection, and kept, like Terenure, for them to walk and wander in. As it is, Mr. B. deserves no small credit for keeping open his demesne for the pleasure of the citizens of Dublin, affording, as it does, so delightful a rendezvous for parties of pleasure, who every day may be seen ranging through the grounds, and enjoying, with a relish which none but a citizen can so peculiarly feel, that exquisite delight which flows from an afternoon spent not in the bustle of business, but amid the delights of terenure.
I am, Sir, yours truly,