The Garden Guide

Book: Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, 1816
Chapter: Fragment Xvi. Concerning Villas.

Small and large villas and gardens

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IT has often been hinted to me, when called on for my opinion concerning places of small extent, that I can hardly be expected to give to them the same attention as to those of many hundred acres. My answer has generally been, that, on the contrary, they often require more attention than larger places. They may be compared to the miniature, with respect to the portrait large as life: the former requires to be more highly finished, but the likeness is the chief object; and this likeness in the picture, may be compared, in landscape gardening, to that pecular identity which adapts the place to the wants and wishes of the proprietor, and the character exclusively belonging to each. To pursue the simile one step further: if the nobleman will be painted as a mail coachman, or the plain country gentleman in the dress he wore at a masquerade, we shall look for the likeness in vain: so if the park be ploughed and sown with corn, or a field of twenty acres affect to be a park, the art of landscape gardening becomes useless: it does not profess to improve the value of land, but its beauty: it does not profess to gratify vanity, by displaying great extent, but to extend comfort, as far as it is feasible; and, if possible, to inculcate the great secret of true happiness - "not to wish for more." It is not by adding field to field, or by taking away hedges, or by removing roads to a distance, that the character of a villa is to be improved: it is by availing ourselves of every circumstance of interest or beauty within our reach, and by hiding such objects as cannot be viewed with pleasure: for I have often found, in places of the largest extent, that their principal views are annoyed by some patch of alien property, like Naboth's vineyard; some "Angulus ille,. Qui nunc denormat agellum." [Oh! might I have that angle yonder, Which disproportions now my field.]