The English Garden: a Poem. In Four Books.
Seller ID: 894
Dublin: S. Price, et al., 1782. Second edition (156, Postscript). The Dublin printing followed immediately the completion in 1781 of the fourth book (and of the complete work). Duodecimo, in modern calf skillfully repaired by John Burbidge, gilt titles to spine. A garden is beautiful, says Mason, for the same reasons a landscape painting is beautiful ('Beauty which results from a well-chosen variety of curves'); indeed, the two are, in his view, 'sister arts'. To plant a flower garden is to plant a landscape (Something Claude Monet did for somewhat different reasons). Given this affection for the picturesque, Mason disparages gardens designed on 'architectural' principles, 'a judicious symmetry of right lines..which our anscestors borrowed from the French and Dutch' but which was 'never adopted by Nature herself, and therefore constantly to be avoided by those whose business it is to embellish Nature'. (Architecture in picturesque terms is most satisfying when its objects-- churches, castles, barns, great houses, and bridges--have begun to dissolve into organic forms, eventually becoming, for example, ivy-draped ruins as 'various as Nature herself'.) Mason's notes and postscript are easier going than his four 'books' of largely didactic verse which occasionally, as in his critique of the rectilinear, descends into faux Miltonian: "Nor yet withdraw thy aid, thou Nymph divine!/ That aid auspicious, which, in Art's domain,/ Already has reform'd whate'er prevail'd/ Of foreign, or of false..' A handsome little book, clean inside and out, of special interest to someone most at home in a cottage garden.
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