57. The delivery of the foregoing lectures excited, as it may be imagined, considerable indignation among the architects who happened to hear them, and elicited various attempts at reply. As it seemed to have been expected by the writers of these replies, that in two lectures, each of them lasting not much more than an hour, I should have been able completely to discuss the philosophy and history of the architecture of the world, besides meeting every objection, and reconciling every apparent contradiction, which might suggest itself to the minds of hearers with whom, probably, from first to last, I had not a single exactly correspondent idea relating to the matters under discussion, it seems unnecessary to notice any of them in particular. But as this volume may perhaps fall into the hands of readers who have not time to refer to the works in which my views have been expressed more at large, and as I shall now not be able to write or to say anything more about architecture for some time to come, it may be useful to state here, and explain in the shortest possible compass, the main gist of the propositions which I desire to maintain respecting that art; and also to note and answer, once for all, such arguments as are ordinarily used by the architects of the modern school to controvert these propositions. They may be reduced under six heads.

  1. That Gothic or Romanesque construction is nobler than Greek construction.
  2. That ornamentation is the principal part of architecture.
  3. That ornamentation should be visible.
  4. That ornamentation should be natural.
  5. That ornamentation should be thoughtful.
  6. And that therefore Gothic ornamentation is nobler than Greek ornamentation, and Gothic architecture the only architecture which should now be built.

58. Proposition 1st.—Gothic or Romanesque construction is nobler than Greek construction.[20] That is to say, building an arch, vault, or dome, is a nobler and more ingenious work than laying a flat stone or beam over the space to be covered. It is, for instance, a nobler and more ingenious thing to build an arched bridge over a stream, than to lay two pine-trunks across from bank to bank; and, in like manner, it is a nobler and more ingenious thing to build an arch over a window, door, or room, than to lay a single flat stone over the same space.

No architects have ever attempted seriously to controvert this proposition. Sometimes, however, they say that "of two ways of doing a thing, the best and most perfect is not always to be adopted, for there may be particular reasons for employing an inferior one." This I am perfectly ready to grant, only let them show their reasons in each particular case. Sometimes also they say, that there is a charm in the simple construction which is lost in the scientific one. This I am also perfectly ready to grant. There is a charm in Stonehenge which there is not in Amiens Cathedral, and a charm in an Alpine pine bridge which there is not in the Ponte della Trinità at Florence, and, in general, a charm in savageness which there is not in science. But do not let it be said, therefore, that savageness is science.

59. Proposition 2d.—Ornamentation is the principal part of architecture. That is to say, the highest nobility of a building does not consist in its being well built, but in its being nobly sculptured or painted.

This is always, and at the first hearing of it, very naturally, considered one of my most heretical propositions. It is also one of the most important I have to maintain; and it must be permitted me to explain it at some length. The first thing to be required of a building—not, observe, the highest thing, but the first thing—is that it shall answer its purposes completely, permanently, and at the smallest expense. If it is a house, it should be just of the size convenient for its owner, containing exactly the kind and number of rooms that he wants, with exactly the number of windows he wants, put in the places that he wants. If it is a church, it should be just large enough for its congregation, and of such shape and disposition as shall make them comfortable in it and let them hear well in it. If it be a public office, it should be so disposed as is most convenient for the clerks in their daily avocations; and so on; all this being utterly irrespective of external appearance or æsthetic considerations of any kind, and all being done solidly, securely, and at the smallest necessary cost.

The sacrifice of any of these first requirements to external appearance is a futility and absurdity. Rooms must not be darkened to make the ranges of windows symmetrical. Useless wings must not be added on one side, to balance useful wings on the other, but the house built with one wing, if the owner has no need of two; and so on.