The Garden Guide

Book: Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening, 1795
Chapter: APPENDIX.

Babworth Red Book

Previous - Next

This advice concerning the study of pictures I have already answered: and with respect to artificial waters, I must only observe, that for some years the banks of a new-made lake will generally appear bald and naked: for this reason, I have myself ridiculed the absurd fashion of cutting down trees in rich valleys, to make a vast sheet of water, without any accompaniment of wood.-The following lines are extracted from the Red Book of Babworth, written in the beginning of the year 1790: Despotic FASHION, in fantastic garb, Oft, by her vot'ries, for the magic robe Of TASTE mistaken, with ill guiding step Directs our path. Perchance among the roots Of shadowy alders (by entangled grass Half veiled), the shining face of some clear brook, That winding gurgles o'er its pebbly bed, Her prying glance discerns:----- "A lake," she cries, "A lake shall fill this undulating vale!" Nor heeds she that the naked banks, alas! Shall many a tedious year be naked still. Slow is the progress of great NATURE'S work; While ART, by raising high the puddled mound, Suddenly drowns a country, spreading wide The watery desolation.-----Here, perhaps, Some venerable trees, by grandsires rear'd, "From storms their shelter, and from heat their shade," With stubborn, knotty roots impede the plan Of FASHION'S deluge. Then aloud she calls ART, and her ruthless myrmidons, to rear The sacrilegious axe-See, it descends ! Too late the shaggy Genius of the place Bewails his comforts gone. The deed is done! The lake expands-the guardian trees are fell'd- And chilling Eurus howls along the vale.