Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818 / Fragments on the theory and practice of landscape gardening: including some remarks on Grecian and Gothic architecture, collected from various manuscripts, in the possession of the different noblemen and gentlemen, for whose use they were originally written; the whole tending to establish fixed principles in the respective arts
Fragment III. On fences near the house, pp. -9
In speaking of Ballustrades, I cannot omit some remarks on the use to be made of them in different situations; such as a defence for a platform, or the parapet of a roof: the latter should be of stone, but the former may, in many cases, be an iron-rail- ing; and in the parapets of bridges, the dimensions ought to relate to those of man, rather than to that of the building.* A magnificent Palace ought not (like many that might be mentioned) to stand in a grass field, exposed to cattle, which are apt to take shelter near the building, and even to enter it, where there is no fence to prevent them; but a terrace or bal- lustrade marks the line of separation. The inside of the inclosure may be decorated with flowers; and we feel a degree of security for them and for ourselves, by knowing that there is a sufficient fence to protect both. This, which I consider a very import- ant part of my own practice, with regard to the fence near a house, will be found elucidated by many of the sketches relating to other matter, in the course of these Fragments. * It has often occurred to me, in walking along Westminster Bridge, that this has not been sufficiently attended to. The large lofty Ballustrade is so managed, that the swelling of each heavy balluster exactly ranges with the eye of a foot passenger; and from a carriage, the top of the ballustrade almost entirely obstructs the view of the river. Thus one of the finest rivers in Europe is hid, for the sake of preserving some imaginary proportion in Architecture, relating to its form or entablature, but not applicable to its uses as a defence for safety, without impeding the view. If it be urged that we should judge of it from the water, we should consider that this bridge is seen by an hundred persons from the land to one from the water. By the aid of an open upright iron fence, the most interesting view of the river might be obtained, with equal safety to the spec- tator. I have sometimes seen a drive or walk brought to the edge of a precipice, with- out any adequate fence; but good taste, as well as good sense, requires, to be satisfied that there is no danger in the beauties we behold. We do not caress the speckled snake or spotted panther, however we may admire them.
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