As for her history, Vyell picked her up in a God-forsaken fishing town, some leagues up the coast; brought her home; placed her under gouvernante and tutors; finally espoused her. Stay: finally he has built a palace for her, “Eagles” by name, whither he forces all Boston to pay its homage. For convenience of access to the goddess he has cut a road twenty feet broad through the woodlands of her demesne.
The palace in a woody vale
High-raised, of stone—
or, to speak accurately, of stone and timber combined. Be pleased to imagine a river very much like that of Richmond, but covered with grey crags. “Fie,” you will say, “the site is savage, then, like all else in this New World?” My dear sir, you were never more mistaken. Mr. Manley’s young eye of genius fastened upon it at once, to adapt it to a house and gardens in the Italian style.
Have I mentioned this Mr. Manley in former letters? He is a young gentleman of good Midland blood (his county, I believe, Bedfordshire), with a moderate talent for drinking, a something more than talent for living on his friends, and a positive genius for architecture. He will have none of your new craze for Gothic. Palladio is his god, albeit he allows that Palladio had feet of clay, and corrects him boldly—though always, as he tells me, with help of his minor deities, Vignola and the rest, who built the great villas around Rome. He has studied in Italy, and tells me that at Florence he was much beholden to your friend Mann, who, I dare swear, lost money by the acquaintance.
Vyell, his present patron, takes him out and shows him the site. “Italy!” exclaims the Youth of Genius. “Italy?” echoes Maecenas, astonished. “We’ll make it so,” says the Youth. “These terraces, this spouting water, these pines to serve us for cypresses!” “But, my good sir, the House?” cries the impatient Vyell. “A fig for your house! Any fool can design a house when the Almighty and an artist together have once made the landscape for it. Grant me two years for the gardens,” he pleads. “You shall have ten months to complete landscape, house, everything.” “I shall need armies of workmen.” “You shall have them.” The Youth groaned. “I shall have to be sober for ten months on end!” “What of that?” says V. Lovers are unconscionable.
Well, the Youth sits down to his plans, and at once orders begin to fly across ocean to this port and that for the rarest marbles—rosso antico from Mount Taenarus, verde antico from Thessally; with green Carystian, likewise shipped from Corinth; Carrara, Veronese Orange, Spanish broccatello, Derbyshire alabaster, black granite from Vyell’s Cornish estate, red and purple porphyries from high up the Nile. . . . The Youth conjures up his gardens as by magic. Here you have a terrace fenced with columns; below it a cascade pouring down a stairway of circular basins—the hint of it borrowed from Frascati (from the Villa Torlonia, if I remember); there an alley you’d swear was Boboli dipping to rise across the river, on a stairway you’d swear as positively was Val San Zibio. Yet all is congruous. The dog scouts the Villa d’Este for a “toy-shop.”