« ZurückWeiter »
when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, “Seel this our fathers did for us.” For, indeed, the greatest glory of a building is not in its stones, or in its gold. Its glory is in its age, and in that deep sense of voicefulness, of stern watching, of mysterious sympathy, nay, even of approval or condemnation, which we feel in walls that have long been washed by the passing waves of humanity.
VII.--THE LAMP OF OBEDIENCE.
It has been my endeavor to show how every form of noble architecture is in some sort the embodiment of the Polity, Life, History, and Religious Faith of nations. Once or twice in doing this, I have named a principle to which I would now assign a definite place among those which direct that embodiment;-the crowning grace of all the rest: that principle to which Polity owes its stability, Life its happiness, Faith its acceptance, Creation its continuance,—Obedience.
How false is the conception, how frantic the pursuit, of that treacherous phantom which men call Liberty' There is no such thing in the universe. There can never be. The stars have it not; the earth has it not; the sea has it not; and we men have the mockery and semblance of it only for our heaviest punishment.
The enthusiast would reply that by Liberty he meant the Law of Liberty. Then why use the single and misunderstood word 2 If by liberty you mean chastisement of the passions, discipline of the intellect, subjection of the will; if you mean the fear of inflicting, the shame of committing a wrong; if you mean respect for all who are in authority, and consideration for all who are in dependence; veneration for the good, mercy to the evil, sympathy with the weak;-if you mean, in a word, that Service which is defined in the liturgy of the English church to be “perfect Freedom,” why do you name this by the same word by which the luxurious mean license, and the reckless mean change;—by which the rogue means rapine, and the fool, equality; by which the proud mean anarchy, and the malignant mean violence? Call it by any name rather than this, but its best and truest test is, Obedience. Obedience is, indeed, founded on a kind of freedom, else it would become mere subjugation, but that freedom is only granted that obedience may be more perfect. If there be any one condition which, in watching the progress of Architecture, we see distinct and general, it is this; that the architecture of a nation is great only when it is as universal and as established as its language; and when provincial differences of style are nothing more than so many dialects. Other necessities are matters of doubt: nations have been alike successful in their architecture in times of poverty and of wealth; in times of war and of peace; in times of barbarism and of refinement; under governments the most liberal or the most arbitrary; but this one condition has been constant, this one requirement clear in all places and at all "times, that the work shall be that of a school, that no individual caprice shall dispense with, or materially vary, accepted types and customary decorations; and that from the cottage to the palace, and from the chapel to the basilica, and from the garden fence to the fortress wall, every member and feature of the architecture of the nation shall be as commonly current, as frankly accepted, as its language or its coin.
A day never passes without our hearing our English architects called upon to be original, and to invent a new style: About as sensible and necessary an exhortation as to ask a man who has never had rags on his back to keep out cold, to invent a new mode of cutting a coat. Give him a whole coat first, and let him concern himself about the fashion of it afterwards. We want no new style of architecture. Who wants a new style of painting or sculpture? But we want song style. It is of marvellously little importance, if we have a code of laws and they be good laws, whether they be new or old, foreign or native, Roman or Saxon, or Norman or English laws. But it is of considerable importance that we should have a code of laws of one kind or another, and that code accepted and enforced from one side of the island to the other, and not one law made ground of judgment at York and another at Exeter.
There seems to me to be a wonderful misunderstanding among the majority of architects at the present day, as to the very nature and meaning of Originality, and of all wherein it consists. Originality in expression does not depend on invention of new words; nor originality in poetry on invention of new measures; nor, in painting, on invention of new colors, or new modes of using them. The chords of music, the harmonies of color, the general principles of the arrangement of sculptural masses, have been determined long ago, and, in all probability, cannot be added to any more than they can be altered.
A man who has the gift, will take up any style that is going, the style of his day, and will work in that, and be great in that, and make everything that he does in it look as fresh as if every thought of it had just come down from heaven. I do not say that he will not take liberties with his materials, or with his rules. I do not say that strange changes will not sometimes be wrought by his efforts, or his fancies, in both. But those changes will be instructive, natural, facile, though sometimes marvellous; and those liberties will be like the liberties that a great speaker takes with the language, not a defiance of its rules for the sake of singularity, but inevitable, uncalculated, and brilliant consequences of an effort to express what the language, without such infraction, could not. I know too well the undue importance which the study that every man follows must assume in his own eyes, to trust my own impressions of the dignity of that of Architecture; and yet I think I cannot be utterly mistaken in regarding it as at least useful in the sense of a National employment. I am confirmed in this impression by what I see passing among tile states of Europe at this instant. All the horror, distress, and tumult which oppress the foreign nations, are traceable, among the other secondary causes through which God is working out His will upon them, to the simple one of their not having enough to do. I am not blind to the distress among their operatives; nor do I deny the nearer and visibly active causes of the movement: the recklessness of villany in the leaders of revolt, the absence of common moral principle in the upper classes, and of common courage and honesty in the heads of governments. But these causes are ultimately traceable to a deeper and simpler one; the recklessness of the demagogue, the immorality of the middle class, and the effeminacy and treachery of the noble, are traceable in all these nations to the commonest and most fruitful cause of calamity in households—Idleness. We think too much in our benevolent efforts, more multiplied and more vain day by day, of bettering men by giving them advice and instruction. There are few who will take either; the chief thing they need is occupation. I do not mean work in the sense of bread—I mean work in the sense of mental interest; for those who either are placed above the necessity of labor for their bread, or who will not work although they should.
There are multitudes of idle semi-gentlemen who ought to be shoemakers and carpenters. It is of no use to tell them they are fools, and that they will only make themselves miserable in the end as well as others; if they have nothing else to do, they will do mischief; and the man who will not work, and has no means of intellectual pleasure, is as sure to become an instrument of evil as if he had sold himself bodily to Satan.
It would be wise to consider whether the forms of employment which we chiefly adopt or promote, are as well calculated as they might be to improve and elevate us.
I have paused, not once nor twice, as I wrote, and often have checked the course of what might otherwise have been importunate persuasion, as the thought has crossed me, how soon all Architecture may be vain, except that which is “not made with hands.”
`s All European architecture, bad and good, old and new, is derived from Greece through Rome, and colored and perfected from the East. The history of Architecture is nothing but the tracing of the various modes and directions of this derivation. The Doric and the Corinthian orders are the roots, the one of all Romanesque, massy-capitaled buildings— Norman, Lombard, Byzantine, and what else you can name of the kind; and the Corinthian of all Gothic, early-English, French, German, and Tuscan. Now observe: those old Greeks gave the shaft: Rome gave the arch; the Arabs pointed and foliated the arch. The shaft and arch, the frame-work and strength of architecture, are from the race of Japheth: the spirituality and sanctity of it from Ismael, Abraham, and Shem. I have said that the two orders, Doric and Corinthian, are the roots of all European architecture. You have, perhaps,