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
Its dangerous tendency, added to its fi'equency, must plead my exeiise for taking notice of the following vulgar mode-of expression: "I do not pro- "fess to understand these matters, but I know what pleases me." This may be the standard of perfection with those who are content to gratify their own taste without inquiring how it may affect others; but the man of good taste endeavours to investigate the causes of the pleasure he receives, and to inquire whether others receive pleasure also. He knows that the same prin- ciples which direct taste in the- polite arts, direct the judgment in morality; in short, that a knowledge, of what is good, what is bad, and what is indif- ferent, whether in actions, in manners, in language, in arts, or science, con- stitutes the basis of good taste, and marks the distinction between the higher ranks of polished society, and the inferior orders of mankind, whose daily labours allow no leisure for other enjoyments than those of mere sensual, indi- vidual, and personal gratification. "' In most countries novelty, in every form of extravagance, broad humour, "6,and caricatures, afford the greatest delight to the populace. This preference " is congenial with their love of coarse pleasures, and distinguishes the mul- titude from the more polite classes of every nation. The inferior orders of " society are therefore disqualified from deciding upon the merits of the fine "arts; and the department of taste is consequently confined to persons en- "lightened by education and conversant with the world, whose views of na,- "ture, of art, and of mankind, are enlarged and elevated by an extensive ".range of observation." Kett's Elements of General Knowledge. Those who delight in depreciating the present by comparisons with former times, may, perhaps, observe a decline of taste in many of the polite arts; but, surely in architecture and gardening, the present aera furnishes more examples of attention to comfort and convenience than are to be found in the plans of Palladio, Vitruvius, or Le N6tre, who, in the display of useless symmetry, often forgot the requisites of habitation. The leading feature in the good taste of modern times, is the just sense of GE N ERA L UTILT Y.
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