Mr Honey comes in spinning like a top – I have seldom seen such irritability in a man – and flings onto our table first one issue then another then another of The Spectator – a journal with which I feel myself to be closely associated. Indeed it is one in which I take a nigh-on paternal interest. Each of these issues has within it another attack on the landscapes of Capability Brown.
In earlier posts, such as notes 31 and 58, the Brown Advisor has endeavoured to separate out variety, greatness and extent, suggesting that these qualities should be held in balance. Islands, as the poet Shenstone remarked, give beauty, if the water be adequate; but lessen grandeur through variety.
Mr C of Dagenham, a formidable scholar of the old school, has asked me why anyone should regard the landscape at Shugborough as anything like Brown’s work.
Dr L has contacted me from Stanstead Mountfichet to ask whether the church at Fornham Genevieve was ruined by the time the great Capability Brown got there.
I met this evening with the genial Mr Honey at the Tatler’s Waste-Bin and he described to me an extraordinary coincidence – which I have set down exactly as he told it to me, having only freed it from the impedimentary oaths, particular part-truths and periphrasis that will pepper his conversation as he takes his fourth and fifth pints.