CREWE HALL. In judging the character of any place to which I am a stranger, I very minutely observe the first impression it makes upon my mind, and, comparing it with subsequent impressions, I inquire into the causes which may have rendered my first judgment erroneous. I confess there has hardly occurred to me an instance where I have experienced so great a fluctuation of opinion as in this place. I was led, from a consideration of the antiquity of the Crewe family in Cheshire, to expect a certain degree of magnificence; but my first view of the house being from an unfavourable point, and at too great a distance to judge of its real magnitude, I conceived it to be very small; and, measuring the surrounding objects by this false standard, the whole place lost that importance which I afterwards found it assume on a closer examination.
In former days, the dignity of a house was supposed to increase in proportion to the quantity of walls and buildings with which it was surrounded: to these were sometimes added tall ranks of trees, whose shade contributed to the gloom at that time held essential to magnificence. Modern taste has discovered, that greatness and cheerfulness are not incompatible; it has thrown down the ancient palisade and lofty walls, because it is aware that liberty is the true portal of happiness; yet, while it encourages more cheerful freedom, it must not lay aside becoming dignity. When we formerly approached the mansion through a village of its poor dependants, we were not offended at their proximity, because the massy gates and numerous courts sufficiently marked the distance betwixt the palace and the cottage: these being removed, other expedients must be adopted to restore the native character of Crewe Hall.