Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

lake; and I hardly know that association of shaft or tracery, for which I would exchange the warm sleep of sunshine on `s some smooth, broad, human-like front of marble. Nevertheless, if breadth is to be beautiful, its substance must in some sort be beautiful. Positive shade is a more necessary and more sublime thing in an architect's hands than in a painter's. After size and weight the Power of architecture may be said to depend on the quantity of its shadow. As the great poem and the great fiction generally affect us most by the majesty of their masses of shade, and cannot take hold upon us if they affect a continuance of lyric sprightliness, but must be serious often, and sometimes melancholy, else they do not express the truth of this wild world of ours; so there must be, in this magnificently human art of architecture, some equivalent expression for the trouble and wrath of life, for its sorrow and its mystery; and this it can only give by depth or diffusion of gloom, by the frown upon its front, and the shadow of its recess. So that Rembrandtism is a noble manner in architecture, though a false one in painting; and I do not believe that ever any building was truly great, unless it had mighty masses, vigorous and deep, of shadow mingled with its surface. And among the first habits that a young architect should learn, is that of ` thinking in shadow, not looking at a design in its miserable liny skeleton, but conceiving it as it will be, when the dawn lights it, and the dusk leaves it, when its stones will be hot, and its crannies cool; when the lizards will bask on the one, and the birds build in the other. Let him design with the sense of cold and heat upon him; let him cut out the shadows, as men dig wells in unwatered plains; and lead along the lights, as a founder does his hot metal; let him keep the full command of both, and see that he knows how they fall and where they fade.

Until our street architecture is bettered, until we give it some size and boldness, until we give our windows recess and our walls thickness, I know not how we can blame our architects for their feebleness in more important works. Their eyes are inured to narrowness and slightness; can we expect them at a word to conceive and deal with breadth and solidity? They ought not to live in our cities; there is that in their miserable walls which bricks up to death men's imaginations, as surely as ever perished forsworn men. An architect should live as little in cities as a painter. Send him to our hills, and let him study there what nature understands by a buttress, and what by a dome. We have sources of Power in the imagery of our iron coasts and azure hills; of power more pure, nor less serene than that of the hermit spirit which once lighted with white lines of cloisters the glades of the Alpine pine, and raised into ordered spires the wild rocks of the Norman sea; which gave to the temple gate the depth and darkness of Elijah's Horeb cave; and lifted, out of the populous city, grey cliffs of lonely stone, into the midst of sailing birds and silent air. Do not think you can have good architecture merely by paying for it? It is only by active and sympathetic attention to the domestic and every-day-work which is done for each of you, that you can educate either yourselves to the feeling or your builders to the doing of what is truly great. Well but, you will answer, you cannot feel interested in Architecture: you do not care about and cannot care about it. You think within yourselves, “it is not right that architecture should be interesting. It is a very grand thing this architecture, but essentially unentertaining. It is its duty to be dull, it is monotonous by law; it cannot be correct and yet amusing.” Believe me, it is not so. All things that are worth doing in art, are interesting and attractive when they are done, There is no law of right which consecrates dulness. The proof of a thing's being right is, that it has power over the o heart, that it excites us, wins us, or helps us. All good art has the capacity of pleasing, if people will attend to it; there is no law against its pleasing; but on the contrary, something wrong either in the spectator or the art when it ceases to please. “But what are we to do? We cannot make architects of ourselves.” Pardon me, you can—and you ought. Archi( tecture is an art for all men to learn, because all are concerned with it; and it is so simple, that there is no excuse for not being acquainted with its primary rules, any more than for ignorance of grammar or spelling, which are both of them far more difficult sciences.

[ocr errors]

Far less trouble than is necessary to learn how to play chess, or whist, or goff, tolerably,–far less than a schoolboy takes to win the meanest prize of the passing year, would acquaint you with all the main principles of the construction of a Gothic cathedral, and I believe you would hardly find the study less amusing.

IV.-THE LAMP OF BEAUTY.

The value of Architecture depends on two distinct characters:–the one, the impression it receives from human power; the other, the image it bears of the natural creation.

It will be thought that I have somewhat limited the elements of architectural beauty to imitative forms. I do not mean to assert that every arrangement of line is directly sug. gested by a natural object; but that all beautiful lines are adaptations of those which are commonest in the external creation; that in proportion to the richness of their association, the resemblance to natural work, as a type and help, must be more closely attempted, and more clearly seen; and that beyond a certain point, and that a very low one, man cannot advance in * the invention of beauty, without directly imitating natural!) form. There are many forms of so called decoration in Architecture, habitual, and received therefore with approval, or at all events without any venture at expression of dislike, which I have no hesitation in asserting to be not ornament at all, but to be ugly things, the expense of which ought, in truth, to be set down in the architect's contract, as “For Monstrification.” I believe that we regard these customary deformities with a savage complacency, as an Indian does his flesh patterns and paint—all nations being in certain degrees and senses savage. I suppose there is no conceivable form or grouping of forms but in some part of the universe an example of it may be found. On the shapes which in the every-day world are familiar to the eyes of men, God has stamped those characters of beauty which He has made it man's nature to love; while in certain exceptional forms He has shown that the adoption of the others was not a matter of necessity, but part of the adjusted harmony of creation. Knowing a thing to be frequent, we may assume it to be beautiful; and assume that which is most frequent to be most beautiful: I mean, of course, visibly frequent; for the forms of things which are hidden in caverns of the earth, or in the anatomy of animal frames, are evidently not intended by their Maker to bear the habitual gaze of man. And, again, by frequency I mean that limited and isolated frequency which is characteristic of all perfection,

as a rose is a common flower, but yet there are not so many roses on the tree as there are leaves. In this respect Nature is sparing of her highest, and lavish of her less beauty; but I call the flower as frequent as the leaf, because, each in its allotted quantity, where the one is, there will ordinarily be the other. • Architecture, in borrowing the objects of Nature, is bound to place them, as far as may be in her power, in such associations as may befit and express their origin. She is not to imitate directly the natural arrangement; she is not to carve irregular stems of ivy up her columns to account for the leaves at the top, but she is nevertheless to place her most exuberant vegetable ornament just where Nature would have placed it, and to give some indication of that radical and connected structure which Nature would have given it. Thus, the Corinthian capital is beautiful, because it expands under the abacus just as Nature would have expanded it; and because it looks as if the leaves had one root, though that root is unseen. And the flamboyant leaf-mouldings are beautiful, because they nestle and run up the hollows, and fill the angles, and clasp the shafts which natural leaves would have delighted to fill and to clasp. They are no mere cast of natural leaves: they are counted, orderly, and architectural; but they are naturally, and therefore beautifully placed. What is the right place for architectural ornament? What is the peculiar treatment of ornament which renders it archl. tectural 2 Suppose that in time of serious occupation, of stern business, a companion should repeat in our ears, continually, some favorite passage of poetry, over and over again all day long. We should not only soon be utterly sick and weary of the sound of it, but that sound would, at the end of the day, have so sunk into the habit of the ear that the entire meaning

« ZurückWeiter »