Repton, Humphry, 1752-1818 / Observations 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
[Preface] Preface containing some observations on taste, pp. -14
and what to reject; he must endeavour to accommodate his plans to the wishes of the person who consults him,' although, in some cases, they may not strictly accord with his own taste. Good sense may exist without good taste,b yet, from their intimate con- nexion, many persons are as much offended at having their taste, as their under- standing, disputed; hence the most ignorant being generally the most obsti- nate, I have occasionally found that as "a little learning is a dangerous thing," a little taste is a troublesome one. Both taste and understanding require cultivation and improvement. Natural taste, like natural genius, may exist to a certain degree, but Without study, observation, and experience, they lead to error: there is, perhaps, no circumstance which so strongly marks the decline of public taste, as the extravagant applause bestowed on early efforts of unlettered and uncultivated genius: extraordinary instancet of prematurity deserve to be patronised, fos- tered, and encouraged, provided they excite admiration from excellence, independent of peculiar circumstances; but the public taste is endangered by the circulation of such crude productions as are curious only from the youth or ignorance of their authors. Such an apology to the learned will not com- pensate for the defects of grammar in Poetry, nor to the scientific artist for the defects of proportion and design in Architecture; while the incorrectness of such efforts is hardly visible to the bulk of mankind, incapable of com- paring their excellence with works of established reputation. Thus in poetry, in painting, and in architecture, false taste is propagated by the sanction gien. to mediocrity.. a Thus before a house is planned, the proprietor must describe the kind of house he wishes to build. The architect is to consider what must be had, and what may be dispensed with. He ought to keep his plan as scrupulously within the expence proposed, as within the limits of the ground he is to build upon: he is, in short, to enter into the views, the wishes, and the ideas of the gentleman who will inhabit the house proposed. The requisites of taste are well described by Dr. Beattie, under five distinct heads. 1. "A lively and correct imagination; 2. the power of distinct apprehension; 3. the capacity of being easily, strongly, and agreeably affected with sublimity, beauty, harmony, correct "imitation, &c.; 4. sympathy, or sensibility of heart; and 5. judgment or good sense, which "is the principal thing, and may not very improperly be said to comprehend all the rest."
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