Price, Uvedale (DNB00)

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PRICE, Sir UVEDALE (1747–1829), writer on ‘the picturesque,’ eldest son of Robert Price of Foxley in the parish of Yazor, Herefordshire, by Sarah, eldest daughter of the first Lord Barrington, was born in 1747. Robert Price was a skilled musician and artist, and, while residing with some other Englishmen at Geneva in 1741, illustrated with his drawings the ‘Letter from an English Gentleman, giving an account of the Glaciers,’ which came out in that year. Two characters of him—the first by R. N. A. Neville [q. v.], and the second by Benjamin Stillingfleet [q. v.], who after 1746 passed great part of his time at Foxley—are inserted in Coxe's ‘Literary Life of Stillingfleet’ (i. 160–1, ii. 169–82).

Uvedale, who came into a considerable fortune on the death of his father in 1761, was educated at Eton, and matriculated from Christ Church, Oxford, on 13 Dec. 1763, but left without a degree. While at Eton he became friendly with Charles James Fox. In January 1761 they acted together in a play at Holland House, continued their friendship at Oxford, and in the autumn of 1767 studied Italian together under a master at Florence. They journeyed in company to Rome, Venice, Turin, and Geneva, and in August 1768 paid a visit to Voltaire at Ferney. Fox then returned to England, but Price traversed the finest parts of Switzerland, and descended the Rhine to Spa (Memoirs and Corresp. of Fox, i. 27–9, 46–7).

Father and son made great improvements in the estate and gardens at Foxley. The chief labour of Uvedale was the construction of a charming ride of a mile and a half, through the woods to the point of ‘Lady Lift’ (Murray, Herefordshire, 1894, ed. p. 140). He opposed the system of Brown and Kent, arguing in favour of natural and picturesque beauty, and endeavouring to show that the fashionable mode of laying out grounds was ‘at variance with all the principles of landscape-painting, and with the practice of all the most eminent masters.’ These views were set out by Richard Payne Knight [q. v.], his friend and neighbour, in ‘The Landscape, a didactic Poem. Addressed to Uvedale Price’ (1794; 2nd edit. 1795), and by himself in ‘An Essay on the Picturesque,’ 1794. Humphrey Repton acknowledged their merits in a courteous ‘Letter to Uvedale Price,’ 1794, but claimed beauty for ‘the milder scenes that have charms for common observers,’ and Price replied with equal courtesy in ‘A Letter to H. Repton’ (1795; 2nd edit. 1798) (Sir Walter Scott in Quarterly Review, March 1828, p. 317).

A new edition, with considerable additions, of the first volume of ‘An Essay on the Picturesque’ appeared in 1796, and was translated into German at Leipzig in 1798; the second volume came out in 1798. A further edition of the complete work was issued in 1810, in three volumes, and it included Repton's letter to Price and his answer, as well as a reprint of his ‘Dialogue on the distinct Characters of the Picturesque and the Beautiful’ (Hereford, 1801), in which Price combated the objections of Knight in the second edition of the poem of ‘The Landscape,’ and criticised the opinions of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Burke on the beautiful. A long note in the second volume (pp. 383–406) of this edition dealt with Knight's remarks in the second edition of the ‘Analytical Enquiry into Taste’ on Price's views relating to the temple of Vesta at Tivoli. The best edition of ‘Sir Uvedale Price on the Picturesque’ was published at Edinburgh in 1842, ‘with much original matter by Sir Thomas Dick Lauder [q. v.], and sixty illustrations by Montagu Stanley, R.S.A.’ Price's views were set out in Loudon's ‘Encyclopædia of Gardening,’ 1822 edit. (pp. 74–7), and they were criticised by William Marshall (1745–1818) [q. v.]; by George Mason (1735–1806) [q. v.]; by Thomas Green the younger (1769–1825) [q. v.]; and by Dugald Stewart in his ‘Philosophical Essays’ (Works, v. 221–41, 275–6, 439–41, vol. x. pp. cl–cliii).

Scott, when engaged in forming his gardens at Abbotsford, studied the works of Price, and wrote of him in the ‘Quarterly Review’ that he ‘had converted the age to his views.’ Dr. Parr praised him for the elegance of his scholarship and the purity of his style. Mathias, however, in the ‘Pursuits of Literature’ (second dialogue, line 49), sneered at the writings of Price and Knight, who

Grounds by neglect improve,
And banish use, for naked nature's love.

Price entertained many visitors at his country seat, among whom were Sheridan and his first wife, Fitzpatrick, and Samuel Rogers. Wordsworth visited him at Foxley in 1810 and 1827, and on the first occasion condemned the place as wanting variety, and deficient in the ‘relish of humanity.’

Price served as sheriff of Herefordshire in 1793, and, as a lifelong friend of the leading whigs, was created a baronet on 12 Feb. 1828. His eyesight was injured by a blow in 1815, but when eighty years old he was ‘all life and spirits, and as active in ranging about his woods as a setter-dog’ (Knight, Life of Wordsworth, iii. 130). He died at Foxley on 14 Sept. 1829. He married, on 28 April 1774, Lady Caroline Carpenter, youngest daughter of George, first earl of Tyrconnel. She died on 16 July 1826, aged 72, leaving one son and one daughter (cf. Hughes, Windsor Forest, pp. 232, 244).

The other works of Price were: 1. ‘An Account of the Statues, Pictures, and Temples of Greece; translated from Pausanias,’ 1780. 2. ‘Thoughts on the Defence of Property,’ 1797. 3. ‘An Essay on the Modern Pronunciation of Greek and Latin,’ printed, but not published, at Oxford in 1827; he ‘anticipated some modern changes,’ urging ‘that our system of pronouncing the ancient languages is at variance with the principles and established rules of ancient prosody and the practice of the best poets.’ Price contributed to Arthur Young's ‘Annals of Agriculture,’ and was one of the committee for inspecting models for public monuments (Biogr. Dict. 1816).

Price was a very entertaining letter-writer; long and amusing missives from him are in Miss Berry's ‘Journals,’ ii. 67–9, 528–9 (enclosing an ode on the burning of Moscow), 547–9; iii. 8–9; Clayden's ‘Samuel Rogers and his Contemporaries,’ passim, and the ‘Works’ of Dr. Parr, i. 618–21, viii. 110–20. (cf. E. H. Barker, Anecdotes, ii. 36, and Memorials of C. J. Fox, i. 46–7). Several other letters from him to Barker were sold by that needy writer to Pickering in August 1839.

Sir Joshua Reynolds painted a portrait of Lady Caroline Price in November 1787, and Sir Thomas Lawrence painted Price himself. These portraits, and portraits of several other members of the family, were sold by Messrs. Christie & Manson on 6 May 1893, the painting of Sir Joshua Reynolds fetching 3,885l.

[Gent. Mag. 1774 p. 237, 1826 pt. ii. p. 93, 1829 pt. ii. p. 274; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Felton's Portraits of Authors on Gardening, pp. 191–200; Duncumb's Hereford, 1892 vol., pp. 191–7; Knight's Coleorton Memorials, i. 129, ii. 133–5, 190–2, 215; Ballantyne's Voltaire, p. 291; Dyce's Table-talk of Rogers, pp. 76, 114–15, 245; Clayden's Rogers and his Contemporaries, i. 47–8, 405; Coxe's Stillingfleet, i. 73–81, 97–9, 125, 151, 159; Walpole's Correspondence, ed. Cunningham, iii. 374, ix. 462; Taylor's Sir Joshua Reynolds, ii. 512; Wordsworth's Works, ed. Knight, iii. 45–7.]

W. P. C.