The present Tenth Edition of Downing's famous Landscape Gardening takes extensive liberties with the original materials, rearranging and recombining them with little regard to their early relationships. The intention, however, has been, not so much to make the usual revision of an old book as to bring together from all Mr. Downing's writings the best portions of his work bearing directly on the subject of Landscape Gardening.
There are two principal sources of these materials. First there are the early editions of the book on Landscape Gardening; second are the Rural Essays, written first as editorials for the Horticulturist and afterward collected by Mr. George William Curtis and published in book form.
Naturally it has been necessary to eliminate many chapters and some few passages in other chapters, and such eliminations have, of course, been difficult. The matter is all good - all interesting. But some of it has been outgrown by changed conditions and a good deal of it does not pertain to the main theme. Mr. Downing was a pomolo-gist and an architect as well as a landscape gardener, and he wrote informingly also of general agriculture and of his travels in Europe. The student who desires to study this great American writer and genius will of course consult his original works in full; but it is hoped that the one who merely wants the benefit of Mr. Downing's views on Landscape Gardening will find these fully set forth and logically arranged in the present edition.
The lovers of Downing have always been numerous and urgent in America. To those now living the editor offers this present book with much trepidation. To them it must seem presumptuous to cut and fit so freely with the works of the revered master. Let such remember, however, that the editor has been actuated by the same deep love and respect which they feel. Let them consider further that the new book is offered less to the older audience, already readers of Downing, than to the new and larger company of those who, having grown up wholly in present times, are not yet his students and admirers. If a new edition of his works will help to preserve his memory, to spread his wise and kindly instruction and to extend his beneficent influence to a new generation surely everyone can rejoice in that result.
Frank A. Waugh.
Amherst, Mass., January 1, 1921.