This one-mindedness, this one-man power of conception and execution gives to the Duke of Devonshire’s palace at Chatsworth an interest and a value that probably do not attach to any other private establishment in England. In this felicitous characteristic it stands out in remarkable prominence and in striking contrast with nearly all the other baronial halls of the country. It is the parlor pier-glass of the present century. It reflects the two images in vivid apposition—the brilliant civilization of this last, unfinished age in which we live and the life of bygone centuries; that is, if Haddon Hall shows its face in it, or if you have the features of that antiquity before your eyes when you look into the Chatsworth mirror. The whole of this magnificent establishment bears the impress of the nineteenth century, inside and outside. The architecture, sculpture, carving, paintings, engravings, furniture, libraries, conservatories, flowers, shrubberies and rockeries all bear and honor the finger-prints of modern taste and art. In no casket in England, probably, have so many jewels of this century’s civilization been treasured for posterity as in this mansion on the little meandering Derwent. If England has no grand National Gallery like the French Louvre, she has works of art that would fill fifty Louvres, collected and treasured in these quiet private halls, embosomed in green parks and plantations, from one end of the land to the other. And in no other country are the private treasure-houses of genius so accessible to the public as in this. They doubtless act as educational centres for refining the habits of the nation; exerting an influence that reaches and elevates the homes of the people, cultivating in them new perceptions of beauty and comfort; diffusing a taste for embowering even humble cottages in shrubbery; making little flower-fringed lawns, six feet by eight or less; rockeries and ferneries, and artificial ruins of castles or abbeys of smaller dimensions still.
In passing through the galleries and gardens of Chatsworth you will recognise the originals of many works of art which command the admiration of the world. The most familiar to the American visitor will probably be the great painting of the Bolton Abbey Scene, the engravings of which are so numerous and admired on both sides of the Atlantic. But there is the original of a greater work, which has made the wonder of the age. It is the original of the Great Crystal Palace of 1851, and the mother of all the palaces of the same structure which have been or will be erected in time past or to come. Here it diadems at Chatsworth the choice plants and flowers of all the tropics; presenting a model which needed only expansion, and some modifications, to furnish the reproduction that delighted the world in Hyde Park in 1851.