The Manor House of the "Patroon" (as the eldest son of the Van Rensselaer family is called) is in the northern suburbs of the city of Albany. The mansion, greatly enlarged and improved a few years since, from the designs of Upjohn, is one of the largest and most admirable in all respects, to be found in the country, and the pleasure-grounds in the rear of the house are tasteful and beautiful.
Beaverwyck, a little north of Albany, on the opposite bank of the river, was formerly the seat of Wm. P. Van Rensselaer, Esq. The whole estate is ten or twelve miles square, including the village of Bath on the river shore, and a large farming district. The home residence embraces several hundred acres, with a large level lawn, bordered by highly varied surface of hill and dale. The mansion, one of the first class, is newly erected from the plans of Mr. Diaper, and in its interior - its hall with mosaic floor of polished woods, its marble staircase, frescoed apartments, and spacious adjoining conservatory - is perhaps the most splendid in the Union. The grounds are yet newly laid out, but with much judgment; and six or seven miles of winding gravelled roads and walks have been formed - their boundaries now leading over level meadows, and now winding through woody dells. The drives thus afforded, are almost unrivalled in extent and variety, and give the stranger or guest, an opportunity of seeing the near and distant views to the best advantage.
At Tarrytown, is the cottage residence of Washington Irving, which is, in location and accessories, almost the beau ideal of a cottage ornee. The charming manner in which the wild foot-paths, in the neighborhood of this cottage, are conducted among the picturesque dells and banks, is precisely what one would look for here. A little below, Mr. Sheldon's cottage (now Mr. Hoag's), with its pretty lawn and its charming brook, is one of the best specimens of this kind of residence on the river. At Hastings, four or five miles south, is the agreeable seat of Robt. B. Min-turn, Esq.
About twelve miles from New York, on the Sound, is Hunter's Island, the seat of John Hunter, Esq., a place of much simplicity and dignity of character. The whole island may be considered an extensive park carpeted with soft lawn, and studded with noble trees. The mansion is simple in its exterior, but internally, is filled with rich treasures of art. The seat of James Munroe, Esq., on the East river in this neighborhood, abounds with beautiful trees, and many other features of interest.
The Cottage residence of William H. Aspinwall, Esq., on Staten Island, is a highly picturesque specimen of Landscape Gardening. The house is in the English cottage style, and from its open lawn in front, the eye takes in a wide view of the ocean, the Narrows, and the blue hills of Neversink. In the rear of the cottage, the surface is much broken and varied, and finely wooded and planted. In improving this picturesque site, a nice sense of the charm of natural expression has been evinced; and the sudden variations from smooth open surface, to wild wooden banks, with rocky, moss-covered flights of steps, strike the stranger equally with surprise and delight. A charming greenhouse, a knotted flower-garden, and a pretty, rustic moss-house, are among the interesting points of this spirited place.
The seat of the Wadsworth family, at Geneseo, is the finest in the interior of the state of New York. Nothing, indeed, can well be more magnificent than the meadow park at Geneseo. It is more than a thousand acres in extent, lying on each side of the Genesee river, and is filled with thousands of the noblest oaks and elms, many of which, but more especially the oaks, are such trees as we see in the pictures of Claude, or our own Durand; richly developed, their trunks and branches grand and majestic, their heads full of breadth and grandeur of outline.
These oaks, distributed over a nearly level surface, with the trees disposed either singly or in the finest groups, as if most tastefully planted centuries ago, are solely the work of nature; and yet so entirely is the whole like the grandest planted park, that it is difficult to believe that all is not the work of some master of art, and intended for the accompaniment of a magnificent residence. Some of the trees are five or six hundred years old.
In Connecticut, Monte Video, the seat of Daniel Wads-worth, Esq., near Hartford, is worthy of commendation, as it evinces a good deal of beauty in its grounds, and is one of the most tasteful in the state. The residence of James Hillhouse, Esq., near New Haven, is a pleasing specimen of the simplest kind of Landscape Gardening, where graceful forms of trees, and a gently sloping surface of grass, are the principal features. The villa of Mr. Whitney near New Haven, is one of the most tastefully managed in the state. In Maine, the most remarkable seat, as respects landscape gardening and architecture, is that of Mr. Gardiner, of Gardiner.
The environs of Boston are more highly cultivated than those of any other city in North America. There are here whole rural neighborhoods of pretty cottages and villas, admirably cultivated, and, in many cases, tastefully laid out and planted. The character of even the finest of these places, is perhaps, somewhat suburban, as compared with those of the Hudson river, but we regard them as furnishing admirable hints for a class of residence likely to become more numerous than any other in this country - the tasteful suburban cottage. The owner of a small cottage residence may have almost every kind of beauty and enjoyment in his grounds that the largest estate will afford, so far as regards the interest of trees and plants, tasteful arrangement, recreation, and occupation. Indeed, we have little doubt that he, who directs personally the curve of every walk, selects and plants every shrub and tree, and watches with solicitude every evidence of beauty and progress, succeeds in extracting from his tasteful grounds of half a dozen acres, a more intense degree of pleasure, than one who is only able to direct and enjoy, in a general sense, the arrangement of a vast estate.