The Garden Guide

Book: The Principles of Landscape Gardening
Chapter: Forward 2

The beauties and conveniences of landscape scenery

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1454. What those beauties and conveniences are, must, in different ages and countries, depend on the state of society and climate; and, in the same age and country, on the wealth and taste of individuals, and on the state of the country with respect to culture. This art must have been a very simple one in rude ages and mild climates, when man had few wants, and scarcely any desires; but, like other arts, it would become more intricate as mankind spread into variable climates, and became more refined in habits and manners. Taking a view, as far as history permits, of the past and present state of landscape-gardening in all countries, the objects desired in the country residence of a wealthy man, wishing to display his riches, are fundamentally the same. These were, and are, adaptation to the habits of genteel life for the time being, as to matters of use and convenience; and distinction from the common scenery of the country, as to matters of taste or beauty in landscape. The first object would principally affect the mansion and accompanying erections for men or cattle; and these would, at first, be merely of greater dimensions than those of the common mass of rustics; but, as society improved, they would be distinguished by more perfect execution, and by appendages indicative of the habits of genteel life. The second object, distinction in the accompanying scenery, was and is effected by such dispositions of the common materials of landscape, as ground, water, trees, &c., as indicate the employment of art and expense. In early times, this would lead to the formation of regularly level or sloping surfaces of ground, and of pieces of water, and plantations of trees bounded by straight or geometrical lines, which would distinguish the country residence from the natural or open unenclosed scenery around. In later or modern times, when the general face of the country was disposed in artificial forms, a contrary practice would be pursued, and natural-like scenery would be created for precisely the same objects as in the other case; that is, the display of wealth and taste, and the attainment of distinction.