The Garden Guide

Book: Observations on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, 1803
Chapter: Preface, Containing some observations on taste

Sequential improvements

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Some of the places here enumerated are subjects which I have visited only once; others, from the death of the proprietors, the change of property, the difference of opinions, or a variety of other causes, may not, perhaps, have been finished according to my suggestions. It would be endless to point out the circumstances in each place where my plans have been partially adopted or partially rejected. To claim as my own, and to arrogate to myself all that I approve at each place, would be doing injustice to the taste of the several proprietors who may have suggested improvements. On the other hand, I should be sorry, that to my taste should be attributed all the absurdities which fashion, or custom, or whim, may have occasionally introduced in some of these places. I can only advise, I do not pretend to dictate, and, in many cases, must rather conform to what has been ill begun, than attempt to pull to pieces and remodel the whole Work. "Non mihi res sed me rebus subjungere conor." [Circumstances do not yield to me, I am forced to yield to them.] To avoid the imputation of having fully approved, where I have found it necessary merely to assent, I shall here beg leave to subjoin my opinion negatively, as the only means of doing so without giving offence to those from whom I may differ; at the same time, with the humility of experience, I am conscious my opinion may, in some cases, be deemed wrong. The same motives which induce me to mention what I recommend, will also justify me in mentioning what I disapprove; a few observations, therefore, are subjoined to mark those errors, or absurdities in modern gardening and architecture, to which I have never willingly subscribed, and from which it will easily be ascertained how much of what is called the improvement of any place in the list, may properly be attributed to my advice. It is rather upon my opinions in writing, than on the partial and imperfect manner in which my plans have sometimes been executed, that I wish my fame to be established.