This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The following article from Repton's Landscape Gardening will answer several inquiries, and we have no doubt will be of interest to our readers generally:
"Notwithstanding the numerous volumes on Grecian architecture, from the days of Vitruvius to the present time, to which may be added all that have appeared within the last century on the subject of Gothic antiquities, little or no notice has been taken of the relative effects of the two styles, compared with each other; nor even of those leading principles by which they are to be distinguished, characterized and appropriated to the scenery of nature. It would seem as if the whole science of Grecian architecture consisted in the five orders of columns, and that of Gothic, in pointed arches and notched battlements.
To explain this subject more clearly, and bring it before the eye more distinctly, we will suppose a house of moderate sue, not exceeding a front of more than sixty feet, consisting of three stories, and five windows in a line. We will suppose this building to be taken from the hands of the mere joiner and house carpenter, and committed to the architect, to be finished either in the Grecian or the Gothic style.
For the former, recourse is had to the best specimens and pro-portions of columns, pilasters, entablatures, pediments, etc., represented in books of architecture, or copied from remains of ancient fragments in Greece, or Italy: but, unfortunately, these all relate to temples or public edifices, and, consequently, to make the dwelling habitable in this climate, modern sash-windows must be added to these sacred forms of remote antiquity. Thus, some Grecian or Roman temple is surprised to find itself transported from the banks of the Ilissus, or the Tiber, to the shores of the Thames, or to the tame margin of a modern stagnant sheet of water.
If the Gothic character be preferred, the architect must seek for his models among the fragments of his own country: but again, unfortunately, instead of houses, he can only have recourse to castles, cathedrals, abbeys, and colleges; many of which have been so mutilated and disfigured by modern repairs, by converting castles into palaces, and changing convents into dwelling-houses, that pointed arches and battlements have become the leading features of modern Gothic buildings. The detail of parts is studied, but the character of the whole is overlooked. No attention is given to that bold and irregular outline, which constitutes the real basis and beauty of the Gothic character; where, instead of one uniform line of roof and front, some parts project, and others recede : but wherever the roof is visible over the battlements, it seems as if it rose to proclaim the triumph of art over science, or carpentry over architecture. The elevation d, (Fig. 1.) represents one of these spruce villas, surrounded by spruce firs, attended by Lombardy poplars, profusely scattered over the face of the country.
That at F, may be supposed the fragment of some ancient castle, or manor-house, repaired and restored to make it habitable; and that at E is something betwixt the two.
The remaining part of this subject more peculiarly belongs to the land-scape gardener, whose province it is to consider the effect of nature and art combined : let us examine the two different styles in the two landscapes in the next plate.
In the quiet, calm, and beautiful scenery of a tame country, the elegant forms of Grecian art (Fig. 2) are, surely, more grateful and appropriate than a ruder and severer style; but, on the contrary, there are some wild and romantic situations, whose rocks, and dashing mountain-streams, or deep umbrageous dells, would seem to harmonize with the proud baronial tower, or mitred abbey, "embosomed high in tufted trees," as tending to associate the character of the building with that of its native accompaniment (see Fg. 3).
The outline of a building is never so well seen as when in shadow, and opposed to a brilliant sky; or when it is reflected on the surface of a pool: then the great difference betwixt the Grecian and Gothic character is more peculiarly striking.
Fig. 2. A tame country, for which Grecian architecture la supposed to be most suitable.
Fig. 3. A bold rugged country, for which the castellated Gothic is considered best adapted.