The Garden Guide

Book: The Principles of Landscape Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 1: Principles of Landscape Gardening

Utility as source of relative beauty of forms

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1471. Utility is the third source of the relative beauty of forms. None of the other beauties will compensate for the entire want of utility in any scene of architecture or gardening. Objects at first thought beautiful, soon lose this expression when they are found to be of no use; and others, the first impressions produced by which are disagreeable, are felt to become beautiful in proportion as they are known to be useful. 'This species of beauty,' Alison observes, 'is in itself productive of a much weaker emotion than that which arises from the different sources of ornamental beauty; but it is of a more constant and permanent kind, and much more uniformly fitted to excite the admiration of mankind.' (Essays on Taste, vol. ii. p. 201.) 'To unite these different kinds of beauty, to dignify ornamental forms by use, and to raise merely useful forms into beauty, are the great objects of ambition among every class of artists. Wherever both these objects can be obtained, the greatest possible beauty that form can receive will be produced. But as this can very seldom be the case, the following rules seem immediately to present themselves for the direction of the artist: - 1. That where the utility of forms is equal, that will be the most beautiful to which the most pleasing kind of expression is given. 2. That where those expressions are at variance-when the beauty of the form cannot be produced without sacrificing its utility-that form will be most universally and most permanently beautiful, in which the expression of utility is most fully preserved.' (Essays, vol. ii. p. 202.) Among the various modifications of utility may be mentioned, - for the purpose of habitation, good air and water, a genial climate, fertile soil, cheerful prospect, and suitable neighbourhood, &c. Convenience must be joined to use, comforts to conveniences, and luxuries to comforts. Exercise, whether in the shape of walking, riding, or driving, requires to be provided for; and recreation, whether in the common field sports, athletic games, or in botanical, agricultural, and other useful, elegant, or scientific pursuits, must be kept in view: rural fetes and amusements might also be enumerated.