Walks are laid out for purposes similar to drives, but are much more common, and may be introduced into every scene, however limited. They are intended solely for promenades, or exercise on foot, and. should therefore be dry and firm, if possible, at all seasons when it is desirable to use them. Some may be open to the south, sheltered with evergreens, and made dry and hard for a warm promenade in winter; others formed of closely mown turf, and thickly shaded by a leafy canopy of verdure, for a cool retreat in the midst of summer. Others again may lead to some sequestered spot, and terminate in a secluded rustic seat, or conduct to some shaded dell or rugged eminence, where an extensive prospect can be enjoyed. Indeed, the genius of the place must suggest the direction, length, and number of the walks to be laid out, as no fixed rules can be imposed in a subject so everchanging and different. It should, however, never be forgotten, that the walk ought always to correspond to the scene it traverses, being rough where the latter is wild and picturesque, sometimes scarcely differing from a common footpath, and more polished as the surrounding objects show evidences of culture and high keeping.
In direction, like the approach, it should take easy flowing curves, though it may often turn more abruptly at the interposition of an obstacle. The chief beauty of curved and bending lines in walks, lies in the new scenes which by means of them are opened to the eye. In the straight walk of half a mile the whole is seen at a glance, and there is too often but little to excite the spectator to pursue the search; but in the modern style, at every few rods, a new turn in the walk opens a new prospect to the beholder, and "leads the eye," as Hogarth graphically expressed it, "a kind of wanton chase," continually affording new refreshment and variety.
Fences are often among the most unsightly and offensive objects in our country seats. Some persons appear to have a passion for subdividing their grounds into a great number of fields; a process which is scarcely ever advisable even in common farms, but for which there can be no apology in elegant residences. The close proximity of fences to the house gives the whole place a confined and mean character. "The mind," says Repton, "feels a certain disgust under a sense of confinement in any situation, however beautiful." A wide-spread lawn, on the contrary, where no boundaries are conspicuous, conveys an impression of ample extent and space for enjoyment. It is frequently the case that, on that side of the house nearest the outbuildings, fences are, for convenience, brought in its close neighborhood, and here they are easily concealed by plantations; but on the other sides, open and unobstructed views should be preserved, by removing all barriers not absolutely necessary.
Nothing is more common, in the places of cockneys who become inhabitants of the country, than a display immediately around the dwelling of a spruce paling of carpentry, neatly made, and painted white or green; an abomination among the fresh fields, of which no person of taste could be guilty. To fence off a small plot around a fine house, in the midst of a lawn of fifty acres, is a perversity which we could never reconcile, with even the lowest perception of beauty.* An old stone wall covered with creepers and climbing plants, may become a picturesque barrier a thousand times superior to such a fence. But there is never one instance in a thousand where any barrier is necessary. Where it is desirable to separate the house from the level grass of the lawn, let it be done by an architectural terrace of stone, or a raised platform of gravel supported by turf, which will confer importance and dignity upon the building, instead of giving it a petty and trifling expression.
Verdant hedges are elegant substitutes for stone or wooden fences, and we are surprised that their use has not been hitherto more general. We have ourselves been making experiments for the last ten years with various hedge-plants, and have succeeded in obtaining some hedges which are now highly admired. Five or six years will, in this climate, under proper care, be sufficient to produce hedges of great beauty, capable of withstanding the attacks of every kind of cattle; barriers, too, which will outlast many generations. The common Arbor Vitae, which grows in great abundance in many districts, forms one of the most superb hedges, without the least care in trimming; * the foliage growing thickly down to the very ground, and being evergreen, the hedge remains clothed the whole year. Our common thorns form hedges of great strength and beauty. They are indeed much better adapted to this climate than the English Hawthorn, which often suffers from the unclouded radiance of our midsummer sun. In autumn, too, it loses its foliage much sooner than our native sorts, some of which assume a brilliant scarlet when the foliage is fading in autumn.