Ewing Writing Assignment 10 Drayton, Thomas, Walpolex

farctatemountainousUrban and Civil

Nov 29, 2013 (3 years and 4 months ago)


Ewing Writing Assignment 10

, Walpole
, Thomas


31 October 2011

Drayton, Richard. "Plants and Power, and Notes." In Nature's Government, Science,
Britain, and the 'Improvement' of the World, 26
49, 281
286. New York: Yale University Press,

In “Plants and Power, and Notes”


Richard Drayton
establishes the connection
between botany and power in England in the 16

through 18

tury. Over time, gardens came to

many different functions in society:
they were
sources of
, perfume, and drugs;
spaces for rest, spirituality, and sensuality;
areas that promoted
intellectual satisfaction;
symbols and
examples of wealth

and order.

Plants, herbs, and oils have long been associated with
religion and higher classes,
as well as

royalty and princes
, but why did royalty patronize science and
botany? Arguably, governmental laws are supported by natural laws, and
there is a sort

equivalency between the organization and control of plants in a garden and that of ruling over

which caused royals to be interested in gardens

By purchasing exotic and expensive plants,
many kings also felt they were fulfilling their divine dut
ies and proving themselves worthy by
making such specimens accessible to the people. Despite this, there was often tension between
medical/sustenance uses and exotic plants for show and beauty. Additionally, there was a shift from
princely to imperial powe
r as the Enlightenment and standardized

classification allowed
more people to join in the botany movement.

Drayton ends wondering whether if kings can make
botany popular and acceptable, can kings do this for food? Certainly there would be more mo
ney in
such an operation.

Drayton presents all these ideas in a very dry, emotionless fashion. He incorporates much
chronological history, quotations of various botanists, collectors, and botanical theorists as well as
some related artwork

and countless d
he work is important
we consider the influence
of government (not so much princes and royalty, but government nonetheless) on culture and
cultural development.

"The History of the Modern Taste in Gardening." In The Genius of the Place, edited by John Dixon
Hunt and Peter Willis, 313
316. New York: Harper & Row, publishers, 1975.

“The History of the Modern Taste in Gardening” is a group of excerpts compa
ring visual,
literal experiences/descriptions with a landscape versus inventive descriptions of landscapes.
Specifically, Walpole’s pieces (written in the mid
late 1700s) offer contrasting styles: the letter to
Horace Mann provides a concrete description o
f a castle and its grounds while a letter to Richard
Bentley and

The History of Modern Taste in Gardening

are more artistic and subjective views of
Kent’s (incorporating words such as “enchanting”)

The juxtaposition of the two styles of
describing gardens illuminates the many different uses
for gardens and reasons for

having them. Additionally, it causes the reader to consider how a
landscape should be expressed, and whether one’s personal interactions and artistic opinions are
more signi
ficant than what is actually there in the physical landscape. Walpole also touches on the
difference between beauty as wilderness and disorder and beauty as order, which is a precursor to
some of the ideas in Keith’s article.

Thomas, Keith. "Cultivation or Wilderness?" In Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in
England, 1500
1800, 254
269. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983.

In his chapte
r “
Cultivation or Conquest” from
In Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in
England, 1500
Keith describes
the English reasons for

growing resentment for
cultivation and
movement towar
ds preservation of


between 1500 and 1800.

In the beginning, the
agricultural community revered cultivated land as it was a symbol of use and productivity;
additionally, God likely wanted his land managed nicely.

Over time, von Humboldt and other
thinkers started to influence the population, and the idea of the sublime emerged such that danger
and “harshness” were viewed as positives. Thus, humanity sought to visit the wilderness (which
was made possible by improve
ments in transportation and communication). The order and
cultivation tactics that had been popular only decades before became outdated, and manicured
gardens even started to have more wild designs. Greater personal wealth and security made people
be willi
ng to go endure hardship on vacation, and formal gardens become less popular as the
country becomes more structured
. The movement is significant as we consider where our ideas of
beauty originated and why we appreciate some facets of nature more than other
s. Is it, perhaps,
more because humanity would like to rebel against the government? Or is that too complex an
answer . . . is it just that wilderness is pretty a
nd a little dangerous/exciting?