( Originally Published Late 1800's )
The province of gardening, in the pursuit of which art the sense of sight is the directing agent, is to render that which was before only an object of practical economy, and serviceable merely to our animal wants, a means of affording plea-sure to the higher senses and endowments, by regulating its construction and arrangement according to the principles of taste. As dramatic acting is said to hold up the mirror to nature, and represents especially human nature in the display of its various emotions and passions ; so gardening, in a corresponding manner, may be said to represent and to reflect, as it were, the face of inanimate nature, by typifying or modelling the most tasteful objects or points of scenery, which form its ornamental part and its flower.
The province and the application of the art of gardening are, however, so different from those of the other arts that, although they may be frequently called in to aid its effect, as painting, sculpture, and architecture constantly are ; yet it can but rarely if ever trespass on the boundaries of any of them.
In each of its stages this art is applicable only for the laying out, according to the immutable principles of taste, of gardens and grounds of an ornamental description. Its province is to represent landscape nature generally, but in its most perfect condition. It consists in a choice sample or selection of natural scenery, its elements being form and colour. This is an art, moreover, which every proprietor of an estate ought assiduously to follow, which he has the amplest opportunity of practically carrying out, and for which his study of art in general, and the cultivation of his mind, will alike contribute to capacitate him. It is an occupation which will afford constant employment, and that of the most agreeable character, and which necessarily, indeed, requires much time for its pursuit, inasmuch as the growth of vegetation is but gradual, and the observations and operations necessary to complete his plans, have to be made at various seasons of the year. His experience of pictures, his taste for scenery, his recollection of foreign views, will alike nd directly-aid his pursuit of this art; while his pursuit of this art will give a new zest to his researches, and afford him an object in them which will add both vigour and pleasure to his undertaking.
Gardening is fairly included under the classification of an art, and, indeed, is indebted to the title from the province assigned to it, being the means by which we direct the efforts of nature to develope themselves to the utmost advantage, not by violating or altering the course of nature, but by restoring it to that state from which the usages of society have diverted or corrupted it, and through which that perfection in nature is attained towards which nature itself tends, but from which arbitrary usages turn it aside. As already observed, whatever pursuit admits of the application to it of taste, may fairly and philosophically be considered and ranked as one of the refined arts. Both costume and gardening not only admit of this to the full, but each owe their excellence to its correct application, which is their especial province. Indeed, their very essence depends on this fact, equally so with painting, architecture, and each of the other arts. Equally with them there-fore may they claim artistical rank.
Gardening, although so closely allied to earth, is said directly to conduce to raise the soul to heaven, and to refine and elevate the mind of him who follows it. Not only was one of the first commands of God to man to betake himself to gardening,—a pursuit which was the allotted one of man while in a state of purity before his fall,—but this is the only professional avocation followed by direct Divine command. The earth which God created so beautiful for man, man should at least preserve in order. Instead of this, however, man has done his utmost to deform and deface it.
As regards the general province of each of these particular arts, it may be laid down that painting and acting appear peculiarly adapted to represent action; sculpture and architecture to represent repose; poetry and eloquence are best fitted for narration, and to portray passion. Architecture is calculated to excite sublimity and awe; music to raise ecstatic emotions in the soul; acting to excite contending passions; and gardening to induce quietude and repose. Eloquence, architecture, costume, and gardening spring out of real practical pursuits, which served originally as their sustaining media ; while painting, sculpture, poetry, and music are entirely independent, and have no sustaining medium from which they arise.