The Garden Guide

Book: Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, 1816
Chapter: Fragment XxIII. Of Variety.

Repton's personal taste and principles

Previous - Next

IN delivering my opinion in a former work, I used an expression respecting the humility of experience, which was ridiculed by some critics, but which I now repeat after a lapse of many years. I do not presume to establish principles in taste, but to record my practice, and the motives which led to it. This I do with all the humility acquired by experience. When I look back on the many hundred places I have visited, and plans I have formed, I can find no two which exactly resembled each other; but where some small similitude might, perhaps, be traced, there ever existed such variety in the circumstances, the wishes, or the characters of the possessors, that it was impossible to class them in such a manner as might lead to general use. Indeed, if we consider that, of the many thousand houses which have been built, no one has ever been exactly copied in the plans for any future house; but, on the contrary, that every plan is either taken from designs which have never been executed, or from the remains of ancient buildings, of whose uses we are almost ignorant; we may ask, cui bono? to what good purpose are plans, and designs, and works of art ever published? The only answer that seems plausible, beyond that of amusement to the mind from variety, is, that, by examining and comparing different designs, the best parts of each may be selected; but this is contradicted by every day's experience.