Having made clear (note 222) that being unable to resist any temptation or external pressure, I have found it politic to retire to my tower whenever asked by anyone to do anything, I was immediately found out by the demands of Dr E of Leeds and the unstoppable Mrs L of Ilkley that I should attend them at Wentworth Castle for the launch of ‘Yorkshire Capabilities’, Volumes 75 and 76 of the New Arcadian Journal.
Should this journal not be better known? Should there not be collected editions? I opened, I read, I’m half way through reading Karen Lynch’s staggering scholarship, and already half crying tears of recognition and joy. There is so much here I have never heard of, so much that is refreshing and good. I knew that that honest John, the jovial Lancelot Brown did not work in Scotland, but I did not know that John Stuart of Allanbank had regretted to John Soane in 1780 that ‘the Great Brown, you know, is not come-at-able.’ I knew that Brown’s work was compared to the paintings of Claude Lorrain, but I did not know that Lady Irwin in 1765 had complained that at Temple Newsam ‘Mr Brown has put us in a Woful dirty Pickle’ and so saying had consoled herself with her paintings and – ‘I apply myself to the beauteous Claude where the scene always enchants me, the Trees are green, the Water placid and serene & the air has a warmth very comfortable.’
There will be nothing published on Brown this year likely to rival this – either in scholarly rigour or in the friendly openness with which her argument is delivered. Here come paragraph after paragraph and page after page, each bursting with the explosive power of the newly uncovered, and I find myself wanting to put the volume to one side to make it last longer – even though I have not yet even peeped at the other papers: Patrick Eyres, Linzi Stauvers and her friends.
The Brown Advisor is here to advise, and in this case the advice is heart-warmingly uncontroversial: buy a copy and enhance your life.