Oofy here: Editorial: time to talk horses. Bought Gi-gi at the Stowe Fair. Crossed the gipsy’s palm with silver and she said the horse was mine. Couldn’t run faster if she had 5 legs. Matter of fact. You can say that about her. Fact is. If you were a horse and had 5 legs you’d spend all your time thinking which hoof to go down on next. Never get anywhere.
A gloss from the Type-Setter: the Type-Setter understands that the Editor had little pleasure from Monsieur Reynard, but allows his point that we should move away from discussion of the red books towards the function and purpose of landscape as Repton understood it. His point, that red books can only tell us so much about Repton’s design, is picked out also in a question put by Mrs SD of Kew, to which the Professor has already written an answer:
‘We are asked by Mrs S.D. of Kew why, in some red books, Repton quotes from, or refers to, others. His aim cannot have been to publicise the range of his work, or he would have quoted exclusively from the designs that he created for the richest and best-connected of his clients. It is rather that he was anxious that each red book should demonstrate his response to a particular site and that he expected his response to be specific to that site and to be valued because it was specific. Where he found himself wanting to repeat advice he had given elsewhere he found it incumbent on himself to acknowledge the copy in order to avoid the criticism that his work was formulaic. On the other hand if we think of the actual work he was doing on the ground, one would expect to find some similarities between projects undertaken at the same time – shortage of time, the tendency of the creative imagination to repeat a success and to (without realising it) follow a single path, will lead all artists towards the rut. Aware of this Repton will have been anxious to make each of his designs sound distinct.
For us, 250 years later, to get closer to a full understanding of his work on a particular site therefore, we should read not only the red book for that place but other contemporary red books which may better describe his intentions, though he will have been loath to write them down more than once for fear of having the originality and fecundity of his genius thrown into question.’ [Notes from the Professor, trans. the Type-Setter]