The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 4: British Gardens (1100-1830)

Ancient style of gardening in England

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573. In this brief outline of the rise, progress, and decline of the ancient style of gardening in England, we have chiefly confined our notices to the gardens of the court; because in every country, during the earlier stages of civilisation, these may be considered as setting the fashion, and consequently as indicating the taste of a nation. Men in time, however, as they become more enlightened, begin to think for themselves; the influence of fashion gradually gives way, and that of native feeling and reason preponderates. In no country has reformation of any kind originated with the court of that country; because a courtier is by habit a creature of imitation, accustomed to mould his actions, and even thoughts, on the model afforded by his superiors; and, of course, incapable of acting for himself. Nature, however, is essentially the same in every age, and now and then a germ of genius, or original thinking, which under happier circumstances of society would be developed by education, breaks forth by accident. But it is only in important matters which concern the passions or vital interests of mankind, that these germs burst forth so suddenly, and with such force, as to enable us to name the precise period in which, or even the individual by whom, any given revolution was effected. In matters relating merely to taste and convenience, these changes proceed more slowly; because the passions and feelings which are engaged in them are less violent.