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TN offering to the public the following, as I fear
somewhat rough and crude remarks upon secular and domestic architecture, I feel bound to preface them with a few words in explanation of their origin and object.
I have for many years been strongly impressed with the following facts :
First, that the vernacular Domestic architecture of our day is wholly unworthy of our state of civilization, and requires a thorough reformation.
Secondly, that the attempts which have been made to effect this, whether by those who favour the Italian, mediæval, or other styles, though often most praiseworthy, have been in the main unsuccessful.
Thirdly, that the success, however incomplete, of the great movement by which Pointed architecture has been revived for ecclesiastical purposes, though unquestionably the one great fact of our day, so far as architecture is concerned, has not hitherto had full scope for producing a corresponding effect upon our secular buildings.
Fourthly, that this has been caused chiefly by two
circumstances :—the impression which, strange as it may be, is so prevalent that Gothic architecture is essentially an ecclesiastical style, and that though eminently suited to churches, it is not fitted for other classes of buildings, and the consequent unnatural severance which has taken place within the last few years between ecclesiastical and secular architecture, -a severance which has never existed at any former period; and, on the other hand, the want of a due appreciation of the question by many of the architects themselves who have been engaged in this revival, which has led, in many cases, to an uncertainty and hesitation in their efforts when engaged in secular works.
Fifthly, that a thoroughly erroneous impression prevails as to the principles on which the revival of Pointed architecture is founded and carried on; that it is an antiquarian movement, and seeks to revive all that is ancient, instead of being, as is really the case, pre-eminently free, comprehensive, and practical; ready to adapt itself to every change in the habits of society, to embrace every new material or system of construction, and to adopt implicitly and naturally, and with hearty good will, every invention or improvement, whether artistic, constructional, or directed to the increase of comfort and convenience.
A long and serious consideration of these facts led me, about two years since, to commence in my leisure moments a series of somewhat unconnected papers bearing upon them, and, the subject growing upon me
as I proceeded, these have in the course of time increased into the present volume. I must plead the unconnected way in which they have been written as my excuse for the want of system, and the frequent repetition which will, I fear, be found in them. I should also mention, that from various causes the publication has been delayed for a twelvemonth since the completion of the manuscript, and for several months since nearly the whole was in print, which will account for some remarks being inconsistent with the date. The two first chapters, though read at an architectural meeting, were written expressly for this volume. My object has not been to write a book which will be praised for its systematic completeness, or for its composition, in these respects I leave it to take its chance,—but simply to do good by suggesting remedies for the evils I have enumerated.
I want to call attention to the meanness of our vernacular architecture, and to the very partial success which has hitherto attended the attempts at its improvement; I want to point out the absurdity of the theory that one style is suited to churches and another to houses, and of the consequent divorce between ecclesiastical and secular architecture; to press upon architects who are engaged in the Gothic revival the paramount duty of rendering it consistent by perfecting it, and that on a systematic principle, in its domestic and secular branches; and, finally, to shew to the public that we aim not at a dead antiquarian revival, but at developing upon the basis of the indi
genous architecture of our own country, a style which will be pre-eminently that of our own age, and will naturally, readily, and with right good will and heartiness, meet all its requirements, and embrace all its arts, improvements, and inventions.
If I shall have in any degree contributed towards these ends, my object in undertaking this little work will have been effected.
I will only add one more prefatory remark,—that I disclaim as a deduction from what I have written in this volume any, even the slightest, feeling of depreciation of the talents or efforts of those who have been labouring in the styles which, while fully appreciating their intrinsic beauties, I do not think best suited to our own uses. One, in particular, among cotemporary architects, I should be grieved at the very thought of paining. I need hardly say that I refer to our highlygifted and noble-minded Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy,—a man whose every aspiration and sentiment is devoted to the promotion of art; and who, though practically and by education a Greek, has shewn by his enthusiastic treatises upon mediaval sculpture that, had circumstances so directed his earlier studies, he would have been the great leader and ornament of our Gothic revival.