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Batty Langley (bap. 1696-1751).
The author of this treatise is Batty Langley (bap. 1696-1751), a popular writer on architecture and landscape designer. The dedication is presumably addressed to King George II, who succeeded to the throne on 11 June 1727.
Many English aristocrats who experienced the so-called Grand Tour, a long educational journey through Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Greece, might have welcomed versions of Roman ruins.
Inspired by the gardens at Versaille, Langley occasionally tried to improve their design.
In The Spectator (No 414, 25 June, 1712), Joseph Addison expressed analogous views, again highlighting the notion that the art of gardening should learn from nature itself:
An important French treatise on garden design somehow anticipated some of the ideas expressed by Pope and Addison: A. J. Dezallier d'Argenville's La theorie et la pratique du jardinage (Paris: J. Mariette, 1709). This work deals with the design of the so-called "pleasure gardens," including the making of parterres, mazes, garden buildings, and many other ornaments. John James (c. 1672-1746), architect, surveyor, and carpenter, wrote the first English translation of d'Argenville's work: The theory and practice of gardening (London: Maurice Atkins, 1712). From the English perspective, one of the most interesting technical innovations presented in the book is the ha-ha. Originally used by the French army, the ha-ha is a hidden trench that works as a barrier for grazing livestock without blocking the view of a landscape. The English translation keeps the original French term ah-ah:
Unquestionably, by describing how to create a smooth transition between the garden and the countryside, the new treatises on horticulture to some extent reflected the theme that art should imitate nature. These new ideas could be also found in the written work of the landscape designer Stephen Switzer (bap. 1682-1745): The Nobleman, Gentleman, and Gardener's Recreation, or, an introduction to gardening, planting, agriculture, and the other business and pleasures of a country life (London: B. Barker and C. King, 1715), and Ichnographia Rustica; or, the nobleman, gentleman, and gardener's recreation (London: D. Brown, 1718). Switzer argues that, whereas a little regularity should be allowed near the house, the designer should always follow the inspiration of nature:
Similarly, in his introduction to New Principles of Gardening, Langley declares:
Langley argues that a garden should consist of what he calls "regular irregularity." This idea is exemplified in the instructions for the plantation of groves:
Furthermore, Langley recommends that views should be as far-reaching as possible, being an advocate of the so-called ha-ha. In the plate included below, one can see a plan for the improvement of the garden at Twickenham. The suggested ditch, which is indicated by the letter R, will facilitate the view of the long walk from H to K: "At R, there is a Ha, Ha, of water, which is a fence to the garden from the road, and admits of a nicer view, which iron gates or grills cannot do."
Our volume is bound in full calf, in what is generally known as the Cambridge panel style. This binding design came into fashion c. 1690, and was especially popular until 1740. Its main characteristic is the presence of three concentric panels, and the creation of a multi-tone effect by sprinkling the panels with ink or acid. As a result, the binder would create a stained central rectangular panel surrounded by a plain rectangular frame, which, in turn, is surrounded by a stained panel. The additional decoration in our volume is one popular variant within this binding style. Both covers are decorated with two-line fillets and flower rolls close to these lines. As David Pearson mentions in his English Bookbinding Styles, 1450-1800: A Handbook ( London: British Library; New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2005), the expression "Cambridge panel style" is inadequate since this design was used in all English bindings centers, not just in Cambridge. Besides, there is no evidence that it originated there.
Finally, we must add a few notes on the provenance of this volume. New Principles of Gardening was formerly owned by Elizabeth G. Holahan (1903-2002). Ms. Holahan was born in Mumford, NY, in 1903. She was raised in Rochester, and was educated at East High School and the old Mechanics Institute (now the Rochester Institute of Technology). Although she was by profession an interior decorator, her life-long interest was centered in the restoration and renovation of historical sites and buildings in the Rochester area. She served as president of the Landmark Society of Western New York from 1954 to 1962, and was president of the Rochester Historical Society from 1977 to 2000. Ms. Holahan was also involved in several initiatives launched by the University of Rochester. In 1962 the beautiful Patrick Barry House on Mt. Hope Avenue was given to the University of Rochester. Ms. Holahan was commissioned for the restoration and renovation of the interiors of this building (1963-65). This house has great historical interest: it was originally designed by the famous English architect Gervase Wheeler and built in 1855-7. Ms. Holahan was also actively involved with the Friends of the Library of the University of Rochester for a number of years.
In 2004, the Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation, at the University of Rochester, received part of Ms. Holahan's library through a gift from the Rochester Area Community Foundation. These books are not only a faithful testimony to her passion for architectural preservation, but they also reveal a wide range of intellectual interests, including horticulture, travel literature, eighteenth-century architecture, British literature, European and American history, fine arts, and, particularly, the intellectual circle of Samuel Johnson. Many of these titles perfectly match the current collecting interests of our library. For instance, the books on gardening are a wonderful addition to our collection of horticultural books. Our department houses the archives of the Ellwanger and Barry Company, founded in 1840 as the Mt. Hope Nursery by George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry. These archives include the firm's library: a collection of 560 titles (1,600 volumes), particularly strong in nineteenth-century horticultural books. Ms. Holahan's books on horticulture will complement the working library of the Ellwanger and Barry Company, which is especially fitting as she was involved with the history of the Barry family through the restoration of their house on Mt. Hope.
Blanche, Henrey. British Botanical and Horticultural Literature before 1800. Comprising a History and Bibliography of Botanical and Horticultural Books Printed in England, Scotland, and Ireland from the Earliest Times until 1800. 3 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975.