Care for a Wiggle? ; Pope and Swift Frolicked in Them, and Great Noblemen Used Them to Transmit Coded Political Jibes ++ the Arcadian Friends: Inventing the English Landscape Garden ++ Reviewed Bytim Martin

The Independent on Sunday (London, England), August 12, 2007 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Care for a Wiggle? ; Pope and Swift Frolicked in Them, and Great Noblemen Used Them to Transmit Coded Political Jibes ++ the Arcadian Friends: Inventing the English Landscape Garden ++ Reviewed Bytim Martin


"The basic and aesthetic premiss of this book is that English landscape gardening is the greatest artform ever to have been devised in the British Isles," says Tim Richardson in the introduction to The Arcadian Friends, his buoyant, copious and, at times, irritatingly personal history of the social and political forces that shaped the 18th-century garden. Eschewing the exportable but "meaningless" idyll of the Capability Brown landscape, in fact a fairly late apparition, Richardson directs his attention to the years between 1680 and the mid-1700s, a time when gardens were "in many ways akin to gigantic, ultra-sophisticated conceptual art installations". The great landscapes of this era, he argues, were meticulously engineered tours through the individual proclivities or political loyalties of those who made them: in many respects, they can be read as "the autobiographies of their owners".

Gardens, Richardson contends, were a uniquely subtle and expressive tool in an age of dangerous political flux. As early as the 1680s, English landowners were using their gardens to indicate their support for William of Orange, who supplanted the Catholic James II in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. A new looseness in planning and the introduction of the serpentine walks known as "wiggles" introduced a Protestant inquisitiveness about the experience of landscape that rebuked the formalised marvels of Catholic European gardening. Later, contrasting ideas about the Englishman's relation to his land became a symptom of the political divide between Whigs and Tories, as the writings of Addison and others introduced the idea that landowners owed as much an aesthetic as an agricultural duty to the nation.

As the century continued, the significance of garden-making became ever more complex. Gardens became instruments of fashion in a way that houses could never be: avenues and woodlands were swiftly cut and planted, buildings could be put up or removed within a season. Richardson devotes a good few chapters to Pope and his circle: to Pope's garden at Twickenham, built from scratch and rich in poetic, scientific and botanical curiosities, and Lady Henrietta Howard's singular "emotional landscape" at Marble Hill, where Pope, Gay and Swift played knowing parts in a convivial rural fantasy.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Care for a Wiggle? ; Pope and Swift Frolicked in Them, and Great Noblemen Used Them to Transmit Coded Political Jibes ++ the Arcadian Friends: Inventing the English Landscape Garden ++ Reviewed Bytim Martin
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?