This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Mr. Editor: I am going to write a letter to the Horticulturist. Yon must know I am a carpenter, bred in the city, with uncles and aunts living in the country, whom I visit occasionally. Now, it is a maxim or sentiment among city folks, that yonr countryman is the true man, or has the happiest and easiest life; and the farmer thinks no one has such hard work as himself. So we go. City mechanics think they have it hard enough. But then, I've a taste for gardening, architecture, town and country, and life in the country. The height of my ambition would be: a business in town through the day, and a place to sleep in the country of nights and Sundays; for 'tis so uncomfortable to be always in other people's houses.
'Tis now some three years since I took the first step to enlighten myself on my new taste. In common with city people, I shared the general opinion about life in the country, but did nothing by way of experiment. At this time, I was carpentering on my own account. Some circumstances transpired which induced me to close my shop. "I will seek employment in the country," said I. In the maple lined streets of Poughkeepsie, I soon found myself. Never had I seen so many trees in a town. I lived here nearly a week before I learned that I was in the heart of the village, so shady was it. I soon had an opportunity of more country and less town. On the third day of my engagement, my employer stated to me he should like me to go some mile or two, to construct a grapery, ice-house, carriage-house, and so on. "How would I like that?" "I would be delighted." Thus was I initiated into studying the green fields and country-seats. But my walk of nights and mornings was so long, as to make it tiresome. I declare, when night came, I could scarcely put one foot before the other. Why couldn't I have a country-seat as well as Mr. Macy. I determined to have one, and I have.
To be sure, it is not as large as Mr. Macy's, but what then? Ain't I a philosopher, and can't one exhibit as much taste, and find enough to do on three acres as twenty, or even fifty! I trow yes.
Those evenings I spent in Poughkeepsie were among the most pleasant of my life. If the evening meal was not ready, my Horticulturist was in my bands, so that no time might be lost; for you must know, I took the pains to subscribe to some spirited book on my new fancy, and selected the Horticulturist. I do not remember ever to have read anything that gave me so much pleasure. This was in the month of June, and I had them from January. Then I got Downing's Rural Essays (his Country Houses I had), and then his Landscape Gardening,and then I became a visitor at Saxton's, and then I turned landscape gardener in theory, and practice, too, as you shall hear. You should have seen me discoursing with the villagers on their want of taste, the best shade trees, and why didn't they till the ground more thoroughly, and less of it, and why didn't they plant more evergreens.
Well, my dear Horticulturist, I bought three acres of ground I What do you think of that f A carpenter turning countryman I Truly, no, not at once; but now I am in Downing's parish; for see, it is but Just this way; I have my Horticulturist for this year, the times being generally so hard about January, and money scarce, I never can renew till midsummer; but then, when I do, unalloyed pleasure attends me for a fortnight, or, at least, tilI I have perused them thoroughly.
Thus I became a member of Downing's parish; that is, I am improving my place, and building a house - a cottage. Not a large one, however, but a smaller part of an entire design, unique, and quaint; for by those terns can I best express that which suits may taste and humor. And such a spot as I have for my cottage I It combines wood and water, grass and rocks, cultivated field and forest, oaks, hickories, ashesr birches, cedars- - plenty of cedars - (somebody keeps cutting osa here and there, thinking I dont see it, but I know every tree on the place), with an undulating surface, and fields with golden grain and sparkling water, enfivwa the distant view. No stream whose banks appear ever the same, like an immovable statue, but one that retires in the morning, and comes again in the afternoon) - a tide-water stream in a meadow, large enough for a teenage and a sailing' party.
On the west side of the Palisade Mountains, and not in sight of the Hudson, are my grounds - one and one-half miles from a landing, or a thirty minutes' walk. Will it please you see my plan for a cottage 1 It stands in the midst of souse cedar-trees, enveloped in shade. But then I must thin away the cedars, and cultivate some more refined, for I do not see any mention of the red cedar, and presume you term it a common tree.
Will it please you look at a sketch of my cottage. Here it is.
These pencil sketches are tedious to make, particularly to one who dresses boards in the daytime, and uses the pencil in the evening. I send a ruder sketch from fancy.
Commend me to your correspondent, Jeffreys, for that critique in the April Horticulturist of 1856, "Parks against Villages".
I intend having my cottage in two aeres of park, and one acre for cultivation, owing to the peculiarity of its situation.
I suppose I am wearying yon, the only thing that troubles me. Shall I have sun enough on the western slope of the mountain? and the solid palisade rock comes to the surface in places. Will grapes ripen?
Only one more remark. I do not intend doing everything at once, but I shall plant one tree at a time, and it thoroughly; make a little bit of lawn at first, "four bushels to the acre, as I hope to walk upon velvet".
Truly yours, Albert Blauvelt, Carpenter.
12 Grand Street, Nev York.
[There is a spirit about this letter and sketch of carpenter Blauvelt that we especially like. We have no doubt he is a good workman and a happy fellow, whose hand it would do anybody good to shake, and whose company never would be dull. Let us hear again from you. - Ed].