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prevented from attaining it, consists, in my opinion, in those mistaken æsthetical principles which, not content with prescribing impassable boundaries to each of the fine arts, establish other and still more contracted limits within those boundaries; and consequently prevent the different arts from acting in concert together, or co-operating towards any one great purpose. It is a fatally perpicious idea (ein unglückbringendes Gedanke), that the beauty of architectural productions consists entirely and solely in their form. A most unbappy fatality was it that the great Brunelleschi, Alberti, Bramante, Michael Angelo, and other eminent masters of the Roman and Florentine school, should have regarded nothing more than ancient classical form, without endeavouring to explore the principles of Grecian art, to investigate the sources of Grecian taste, and, if possible, to imbibe the same spirit. No less unfortunate a fatality was it that Wincklemann, the worthy bierophant and eloquent champion of ancient sculpture and architecture, should have recognized Grecian purity only in naked baldness, and absence of decoration, without, apparently, even respecting the intimate connexion wbich exists between the several arts of design, and how powerfully they may be made to support each other, when brought into such alliance as to co-operate together.
“ Most undoubtedly, beauty of form is both the first and the last requisite in beautiful architecture ; yet more, very much more, is indispensable, in order to constitute a building a perfect work of art."
This, it must be confessed, is taking a widely different, and far more comprehensive and searching view of the matter, than is generally taken either by teachers or theorists, who seem to be of opinion that measurement and memory are all-sufficient to ensure beauty in architecture, which, if it does not actually include, is with them a substitute for every other merit. Fain would they persuade us that we are bound to follow the ancients implicitly, as closely as we can, certain so far of satisfying the most fastidious taste, assuring us at the same time that all attempts to proceed beyond the point where their examples stop short must prove worse than nugatory. Even supposing, for a moment, such doctrine to be incontrovertible, it certainly is not encouraging, nor by any means calculated to impress persons with any very elevated notions of an art which, according to the confession of those who are most interested in asserting its dignity, is so exceedingly limited as to have been completely exhausted long ago, and incapable of furnishing any other modes of expression or beauty than the comparatively few which have been actually preserved to us, out of all the productions of Grecian art.
It is one thing to study the architecture of the ancients with the view of forming our habits of taste accordingly, another and widely different one to confine ourselves to the express models which it affords; the former is both liberal and laudable, and can hardly fail to be beneficial, while the latter leads only to pedantic servility, and at the very best to little more than bungling secundum artem, because such imitation can be but partial, or rendered complete only by thoroughly disguising the fabric, and bestowing on it an appearance that does not belong to it. Almost might we imagine that this profound veneration for the antique is in general quite as much assumed out of indolence or sheer incapacity as prompted by real feeling; it being made the pretext for a species of routine which, while it fetters invention and cramps real talent, bolsters up imbecility and mediocrity, raising them to a level they could not possibly have attained of themselves. It is true, that the want of real taste, for the most part, betrays itself through all the seeming classicality which it assumes ; but then it is only to the eyes of the few; it still imposes upon the million, who are unable to distinguish between the counterfeit and the sterling metal, seeing that the one bears what looks to them like precisely the same stamp as the other. Some showy columus or a portico are sufficient to secure the applause of those who have no suspicion that such things are precisely those which in themselves cost least trouble and study, unless they are treated with a far greater degree of originality than architects seem disposed even to aim at, in such particulars. So abortive, indeed, are the majority of designs and buildings professing to be Greek, that it becomes doubtful whether they do not tend more effectually to depress taste than more palpable extravagances would, by deadening, if not by decidedly vitiating it; so that in time we may possibly come to regard with wearisomeness and disgust the very models themselves, which, owing to the perverted use iade of them, have occasioned the insipidity and sluggishness that unhappily stamp so great a portion of modern architecture.
At the risk of being taxed with inconsistency, we are nevertheless ready to admit, that architectural design has in some respects made a considerable advance during the present century, compared with the preceding one; but then the improvement extends hardly at all further than the discarding certain incongruities before tolerated, and showing greater correctness-perhaps exactness would be the more suitable term-in those details for which we have the antique to guide us. That is, our advance consists in having got certain lessons by rote, and being now able to repeat them with specious cleverness off-hand; having accomplished which we stop short, as if we had reached a ne plus ultra —not impassable, perhaps, yet not to be passed without plunging at once into chaos and darkness. To the superficial observer, a rapid progress may seem to have been made, whereas of real progress there has been little or none, inasmuch as we stop short at the very point from which we ought to begin to reckon, all the rest being to be considered as merely preparatory, and as affording proof not so much of our actual ability, as of our aptitude in studying our tasks.
“ That lofty, creative energy"—it is Ritgen who again speaks“ which in the times of classical antiquity, and not less so in those of the middle ages, gradually brought architecture to perfection, stamped it with the impress of nationality, and elevated it to the rank of one of the noblest arts, no longer exists. Wavering and unsteady, without any confidence in its own powers, it now contents itself with the bumble office of imitating and re-combining the productions of its more genial time-a time far different from the present-when it produced works instinct with soul and character, and touched them into life by the magic power of art.”
Popular religion, to which architecture was in former days so greatly indebted, not for patronage alone, and the opportunities of displaying itself on a scale of magnificence, but also for a certain imposing authority with wbich it was invested, is no longer favourable either to this or the other fine arts. Neither are our public buildings of such nature as either to admit of architectural grandeur, unless it be externally, or to familiarise the great body of the people with art in any degree.* This principle of exclusion, of sequestration of art from the people, constitutes one most influential difference between the spirit of modern times and those of ecclesiastical power and splendour. Had the Roman Catholic church done no more than employ
* In fact they are, for the greater part, only so far public as they are open to those who happen to have business to transact in them, or who visit them, where it can be done, for the express purpose of viewing them as a special sight; one, moreover, which is seldom accessible either without a fee, or formal application for admission, To us, therefore, it seems that Mr. Hamilton—to whom, we may observe, both Colonel Jackson and Mr. Vivian have just replied-makes use of a very feeble plea, in his second letter to the Earl of Elgin, when he recommends the adoption of the Grecian style for the new houses of Parliament, on the ground that it would better admit of the interior being embellished with historical paintings. Such a scheme might certainly be beneficial enough to the artists who obtained commissions, but hardly could it be attended with any effect in regard to the improvement of public taste; since, as far as the public are concerned, such paintings might as well be shipped off to the North Pole at once. In fact, no pains are taken among us to facilitate access to works of art to precisely that portion of the community which stands most in need of assistance in that respect, they having no other means or opportunities of improving their taste than what can be provided for them. How many thousands are there even of the middling classes of society to whom the National Gallery and similar places are, though nominally open, virtually closed, merely because the time of admission is limited to those hours when persons engaged in any sort of business are occupied. Perhaps it will be said, so much the better, it serves to keep the company more select; besides which, persons of the class alluded to ought not to be so unreasonable as to have any taste of the kind to gratify. Or if this is not expressly said, it is—which is still worse-acted upon, and tolerated in practice, though it might appear quite odious in theory.
artists, it would have effected comparatively nothing for the advancement of the fine arts ; but, let its motives for doing so have been as self-interested as they may, it gave its noble fabrics and their rich adornments to the gaze of all without distinction, and at all times. In them the poorest had the opportunity of contemplating not only the pomp of architecture, but the finest productions of the pencil and the chisel; aud whatever delight lie might feel—a delight enhanced by religious sentiment—it was unalloyed by any of the bitterness of envy, since it was for him and such as he, no less than for the noblest and the wealthiest, that this array of solemn magnificence existed. He felt that he stood not beneath the roof of man, but in the liouse of God.
As respects private buildings, although expense is lavished upon them, and luxuriousness consulted almost to a degree of effeminacy, they are not, with here and there an exception, permitted to afford much encouragement to architecture; not because edifices of this class offer a very limited scope for the display of talent and striking effect—quite the contrary—but because the studied refinements of art are treated as matters of secondary importance. What the architect is chiefly called upon to provide in the way of display is empty space, to be afterwards filled up with costly furniture, and with such decoration as adınits of being changed at pleasure. And here we may remark that one great, perhaps insurmountable, obstacle to the establishment of permanent good taste among us arises out of what is in itself a source of commercial activity and national prosperity--namely, the impetus given to all branches of manufacture by the constant fluctuations of fashion, and that demand for novelty which the supplier increases by his increasing eagerness to meet it; so that one new fancy is constantly starting up after another, and each in its turn discarded for some newer one. Here we have one leading and important distinction between antiquity and moderti times; for neither fashion nor anything analogous to it appears to have had influence over the former, if we except, perhaps, the age of extravagance among the Romans under their later emperors. Costume is not to be confounded with fashion, it being, in fact, the reverse of it; not a series of modes shifting in quick succession, but permanent national modes transmitted from one generation to another; and, where such is the case, taste, when once refined, becomes fixed upon a steady basis; whereas the reverse of this can hardly fail to take place, whenever it begins to be considered requisite to have recourse to change for the sake of change, and to regard whatever is common aś vulgar. The feeling which drives so many among us to aim at exclusiveness and distinction in the style of fitting up their houses, and in that of
their furniture, is, it must be confessed, altogether opposed to the cultivation of taste on sound ästhetical principles; since it is not so much intrinsic beauty, as rarity or expensiveness, which finds favour with them; nor will they want imitators among those who cau afford to enter into a species of rivalry which can be supported by their purses alone; and in a commercial country, the means of thus establishing a character for fashionable taste will as frequently as not be at the command of those who are fain to supply themselves with taste at the readiest market for it they can find. Much has been said on the advantage that would result from taste being generally diffused among all classes of our population, and some measures have lately been adopted for promoting it among our artisans and manufacturers; yet to us the ultimate, if not the immediate, success appears doubtful, unless it should be in the power of some ingenious projector to devise a scheme whereby good taste should be rendered universal, and yet not become common. Besides which, it would be not less indispensable that it should itself remain unwavering, and firmly anchored, yet able to veer about and drift with every changing gust of fashion. The problem is a puzzling one--so puzzling, that there is little chance of its being solved otherwise than by cutting through the Gordian difficulty; and, since it is impossible to produce a lasting league between fashion and taste, by deposing the former from the paramount sway which it has obtained.
But if, owing to circumstances which it is much easier to point out than to reinedy, or even to control, neither our public nor our private edifices furnish architecture with opportunities of exerting its full powers, we have numerous public works that may fairly be pronounced so many triumphs of constructive genius or mechanical skill,-canals, and tunnels, and suspension bridges, and breakwaters, and rail-roads. These may well be reckoned among the monuments of our age and country, so strongly do they identify themselves with both the present spirit and the actual state of society; yet, stupendous as many of them are, considered as undertakings, and beneficial as they may be to the interests of the community, they neither possess, nor make any pretensions to, æsthetic value. They lie entirely within the province of mechanical science, and quite beyond the confines of that of art. Else it would not be impossible that, in the course of time, architecture would hence derive, together with new expedients and new nodes of construction, new forms and expressions of beauty. They belong, however, so exclusively to the engineer, that it is not likely they should ever receive any of the refinements of architecture, supposing them at all capable of