The Garden Guide

Book: Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening, 1795
Chapter: Chapter 7: Concerning approaches, with some remarks on the affinity betwixt painting and gardening

Gloom and magnificance

Previous - Next

It is now acknowledged that gloom is not necessary to magnificence, that liberty is not incompatible with greatness, and that convenience is not the sole object of ornament; for though such things as are useful may occasionally be ornamental, it does not follow that ornaments must always be useful; on the contrary, many of those productions of the polite arts which are most admired, are now merely considered ornaments, without any reference to their original uses. This is confessedly the case with works of painting and sculpture (except in that inferior branch of each which relates to portraits); for whatever might be the original uses of pictures or statues, they are now only considered as ornaments, which, by their number and excellence, distinguish the taste, the wealth, and dignity of their possessors. To use these internal marks of distinction only, might be prudent in those countries where it would be dangerous to display any external ornaments of grandeur; but rank and affluence are not crimes in England; on the contrary, we expect to see a marked difference in the style, the equipage, and the mansions of wealthy individuals; and this difference must also be extended to the grounds in the neighbourhood of their mansions; since congruity of style, and unity of character, are amongst the first principles of good taste. It has already been remarked in this volume, that there ought to be some difference betwixt a park and a forest; and as the whole of that, false and mistaken theory, which Mr. Knight endeavours to introduce, by confounding the two ideas, proceeds from not duly considering the degree of affinity betwixt painting and gardening, I shall transcribe a few passages from manuscripts, written long before I saw his poem; although the inquiry was originally suggested by conversations I have occasionally had, both with Mr. Knight and Mr. Price, at their respective seats in the county of Hereford.