Dr J of Stafford is the last person to whom one should look for perplexity and confusion. The elephantine reach of his erudition draws a clear stream from the pools of ignorance and darkness which have for so long benighted the world of Brownian scholarship.

Nonetheless, he seeks some means by which to distinguish Capability Brown’s two principal surveyors: Jonathan Spyers and Samuel Lapidge. Both had a background in horticulture and the nursery trade, and as such both would have learned surveying.

Spyers however seems to have confined himself to that and to producing water-colours by means of which Brown might illustrate his proposed effects. Brown himself was known to be a poor artist. On the other hand Brown loved Lapidge and laded him with his licence to do his business. Hence it was Lapidge who became his executor. Dr J’s concern rests I think with that tantalising problem of the management of  business: would two men have been adequate for the work of surveying so many sites? It may be safe so say no, and that would explain why Brown so often made use of existing surveys, and even scratched parts out and over-wrote them to show his alterations.

 

Dr J goes on to suggest that Brown’s draughtsman may have been Robert Robinson until he moved to Edinburgh in 1760, but such questions may best be addressed by Dr B of Cambridge, whose publication on the subject we anxiously await.