The Garden Guide

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

Price and Knight on Picturesque Gardens

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589. To draw a fair conclusion from these different opinions, it is necessary to take the whole of them, and the general scope of the authors, into view. From the vein of excellent sense which pervades Windham's letter, and particularly the latter part of it, which we have extracted entire, it is impossible to avoid suspecting, either that there is a culpable obscurity in the works referred to, or that Windham had not sufficiently, if at all, perused them. We are inclined to believe that there is some truth in both suppositions. We have no hesitation, however, both from a mature study of all the writings of these gentlemen relating to this subject, as well as a careful inspection of their own residences, in saying, that there is not an opinion in the above extract, to which Price and Knight would not at once assent. Knight's directions, in regard to congruity and utility, are as distinct as can well be expected in a poem. Price never entered on the subject of utility. His works say, 'your object is to produce beautiful landscapes; at least this is one great object of your exertions. But you produce very indifferent ones. The beauty of your scenes is not of so high a kind as that of nature. Examine her productions. To aid you in this examination, consult the opinions of those who have gone before you in the same study. Consult the works of painters, and learn the principles which guided them in their combinations of natural and artificial objects. Group your trees on the principles they do. Connect your masses as they do. In short, apply their principles of painting whenever you intend any imitation of nature; for the principles of nature and of painting are the same.' -'Are we to apply them in every case ? Are we to neglect regular beauty and utility ?' Certainly not; that would be inconsistent with common sense.