The Épître sur la manie des jardins modernes, published by Chabanon in 1775, can be read as a hostile reaction to the vogue for English gardens in France and Europe from the 1760s onwards. However, this reactionary plea in favour of the classical model, denouncing the failings of the new system, should be replaced in its context. The ‘garden’ paradigm does exist, as Chabanon demonstrates, but it is less acceptable since one can both enjoy Versailles and praise a poetry devoid of tracing-lines and squares. Landscape-gardening is the manifestation of a party spirit, which is the reason why the English way must be condemned. What is most clearly manifested in this epistle, provided it is properly replaced in the context of Chabanon's works, is the refusal of having to make a choice and a claim for freedom.
Michel-Paul-Guy de Chabanon et ses contemporains
Sophie Le Ménahèze
Les ambiguïtés de la polémique dans L'Epitre sur la manie des jardins anglais, de Chabanon