The Repton Gazette and Brown Advisor

300 Frequently Asked Questions about Capability Brown, and a further 200 about Humphry Repton

Category: Character (Page 1 of 3)

282: With whom did Brown take coffee?

In my last I (note 281) gave my verdict on the varnished version of verisimilitude that is held to characterise the work of the gardener Capability Brown. Now Mr C of Nailsworth and Ms B of Swindon clearly assume that I have powers to communicate with the dead and so have joined to ask me what question I would put to the man if I had the power to do so.

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276: What of James Paine (1)?

Mrs D of Hampshire has made a fascinating inference. It is based upon a legitimate claim and the inferences of a woman of such standing deserve the most careful consideration.

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270: Was Brown a contemplative?

There has been some concern at the Tatler’s Waste-bin that my recent notes have been too much given over to generalisation and to congratulatory notes on the pleasures that must attend the 300 year birthday celebration of the great Capability Brown.

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260: What was wrong with the man?

Bound as I am to commend and encourage the interest of my friends in the working of the Brown Advisor, I am bound also to respond to such comments as they may make. However what I have lately heard from the Bar I find disquieting; it has caused me to turn again to Dr Sarah Rutherford’s work: The landscape gardens of Capability Brown.

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204: Why not celebrate the human?

My good friends Captain Ken and Mr Honey profess themselves both keen fishermen, yet their ways of proceeding could not be more distinct. The Captain will cast his fly, chin-proudly forward, gazing across the water, immobile as a heron. Mr H will snooze until he spies a craft of women punting by, then he will thrash the water with his line, with much cursing and joshing, then will he heave mightily in the waters. Now that’s real fishing he will say, a-twirling of his fine moustache.

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244: Do you subscribe to the New Arcadian Journal?

IMG_0383Having 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?

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194: Which portrait should we trust?

Mr B of Wisbeach asks me if he would be right to think of Mr Honey as a flâneur. Perhaps he might, if Mr Honey were to stroll the boulevards of Paris, but I cannot so picture him. Like our subject, Capability Brown, Mr Honey can barely be persuaded to leave the island – ‘Boulevardier? – I hear him say – ‘Moi?’.

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231: What did Brown’s contemporaries think of him?

Fair enough Mr M, you have been locked in a cupboard somewhere in Dorset, you are not free to say where, and you will not be released until you have written a vibrant guide to the work carried out in that country by that wunderkind Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.

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205: Was Brown a man of mystery?

I referred in my note 29 to the aversion that the wonder-gardener Capability Brown felt towards ‘shewing a road’ and I judged that his aversion sprang from the desire to disconnect the components, and thus to induce an air of reverie, of dream, en fin, of mystery, into his landscapes.

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207: Why did Brown work for Bute?

Mrs P has also asked for any insight that the Brown Advisor may have into the feeling that Capability Brown might have had for one of his most faithful and talented clients, that most hated of men, Lord Bute.

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The Brown Advisor©2015

By John Phibbs