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.

60. But observe, in doing all this, there is no High, or as it is commonly called, Fine Art, required at all. There may be much science, together with the lower form of art, or "handicraft," but there is as yet noFine Art. House-building, on these terms, is no higher thing than ship-building. It indeed will generally be found that the edifice designed with this masculine reference to utility, will have a charm about it, otherwise unattainable, just as a ship, constructed with simple reference to its service against powers of wind and wave, turns out one of the loveliest things that human hands produce. Still, we do not, and properly do not, hold ship-building to be a fine art, nor preserve in our memories the names of immortal ship-builders; neither, so long as the mere utility and constructive merit of the building are regarded, is architecture to be held a fine art, or are the names of architects to be remembered immortally. For any one may at any time be taught to build the ship, or (thus far) the house, and there is nothing deserving of immortality in doing what any one may be taught to do.

But when the house, or church, or other building is thus far designed, and the forms of its dead walls and dead roofs are up to this point determined, comes the divine part of the work—namely, to turn these dead walls into living ones. Only Deity, that is to say, those who are taught by Deity, can do that.

And that is to be done by painting and sculpture, that is to say, by ornamentation. Ornamentation is therefore the principal part of architecture, considered as a subject of fine art.

61. Now observe. It will at once follow from this principle, that a great architect must be a great sculptor or painter.

This is a universal law. No person who is not a great sculptor or painter can be an architect. If he is not a sculptor or painter, he can only be a builder.

The three greatest architects hitherto known in the world were Phidias, Giotto, and Michael Angelo; with all of whom, architecture was only their play, sculpture and painting their work. All great works of architecture in existence are either the work of single sculptors or painters, or of societies of sculptors and painters, acting collectively for a series of years. A Gothic cathedral is properly to be defined as a piece of the most magnificent associative sculpture, arranged on the noblest principles of building, for the service and delight of multitudes; and the proper definition of architecture, as distinguished from sculpture, is merely "the art of designing sculpture for a particular place, and placing it there on the best principles of building."

Hence it clearly follows, that in modern days we have no architects. The term "architecture" is not so much as understood by us. I am very sorry to be compelled to the discourtesy of stating this fact, but a fact it is, and a fact which it is necessary to state strongly.

Hence also it will follow, that the first thing necessary to the possession of a school of architecture is the formation of a school of able sculptors, and that till we have that, nothing we do can be called architecture at all.

62. This, then, being my second proposition, the so-called "architects" of the day, as the reader will imagine, are not willing to admit it, or to admit any statement which at all involves it; and every statement, tending in this direction, which I have hitherto made, has of course been met by eager opposition; opposition which perhaps would have been still more energetic, but that architects have not, I think, till lately, been quite aware of the lengths to which I was prepared to carry the principle.

The arguments, or assertions, which they generally employ against this second proposition and its consequences, are the following:

First. That the true nobility of architecture consists, not in decoration (or sculpture), but in the "disposition of masses," and that architecture is, in fact, the "art of proportion."

63. It is difficult to overstate the enormity of the ignorance which this popular statement implies. For the fact is, that all art, and all nature, depend on the "disposition of masses." Painting, sculpture, music, and poetry depend all equally on the "proportion," whether of colors, stones, notes, or words. Proportion is a principle, not of architecture, but of existence. It is by the laws of proportion that stars shine, that mountains stand, and rivers flow. Man can hardly perform any act of his life, can hardly utter two words of innocent speech, or move his hand in accordance with those words, without involving some reference, whether taught or instinctive, to the laws of proportion. And in the fine arts, it is impossible to move a single step, or to execute the smallest and simplest piece of work, without involving all those laws of proportion in their full complexity. To arrange (by invention) the folds of a piece of drapery, or dispose the locks of hair on the head of a statue, requires as much sense and knowledge of the laws of proportion, as to dispose the masses of a cathedral. The one are indeed smaller than the other, but the relations between 1, 2, 4, and 8, are precisely the same as the relations between 6, 12, 24, and 48. So that the assertion that "architecture is par excellence the art of proportion," could never be made except by persons who know nothing of art in general; and, in fact, never is made except by those architects, who, not being artists, fancy that the one poor æsthetic principle of which they are cognizant is the whole of art. They find that the "disposition of masses" is the only thing of importance in the art with which they are acquainted, and fancy therefore that it is peculiar to that art; whereas the fact is, that all great art begins exactly where theirs ends, with the "disposition of masses." The assertion that Greek architecture, as opposed to Gothic architecture, is the "architecture of proportion," is another of the results of the same broad ignorance. First, it is a calumny of the old Greek style itself, which, like every other good architecture that ever existed, depends more on its grand figure sculpture, than on its proportions of parts; so that to copy the form of the Parthenon without its friezes and frontal statuary, is like copying the figure of a human being without its eyes and mouth; and, in the second place, so far as modern Pseudo-Greek work does depend on its proportions more than Gothic work, it does so, not because it is better proportioned, but because it has nothing but proportion to depend upon. Gesture is in like manner of more importance to a pantomime actor than to a tragedian, not because his gesture is more refined, but because he has no tongue. And the proportions of our common Greek work are important to it undoubtedly, but not because they are or even can be more subtile than Gothic proportion, but because that work has no sculpture, nor color, nor imagination, nor sacredness, nor any other quality whatsoever in it, but ratios of measures. And it is difficult to express with sufficient force the absurdity of the supposition that there is more room for refinements of proportion in the relations of seven or eight equal pillars, with the triangular end of a roof above them, than between the shafts, and buttresses, and porches, and pinnacles, and vaultings, and towers, and all other doubly and trebly multiplied magnificences of membership which form the framework of a Gothic temple.

64. Second reply.—It is often said, with some appearance of plausibility, that I dwell in all my writings on little things and contemptible details; and not on essential and large things. Now, in the first place, as soon as our architects become capable of doing and managing little and contemptible things, it will be time to talk about larger ones; at present I do not see that they can design so much as a niche or a bracket, and therefore they need not as yet think about anything larger. For although, as both just now, and always, I have said, there is as much science of arrangement needed in the designing of a small group of parts as of a large one, yet assuredly designing the larger one is not the easier work of the two. For the eye and mind can embrace the smaller object more completely, and if the powers of conception are feeble, they get embarrassed by the inferior members which fall within the divisions of the larger design.[21] So that, of course, the best way is to begin with the smaller features; for most assuredly, those who cannot design small things cannot design large ones; and yet, on the other hand, whoever can design small things perfectly, can design whatever he chooses. The man who, without copying, and by his own true and original power, can arrange a cluster of rose-leaves nobly, can design anything. He may fail from want of taste or feeling, but not from want of power.

And the real reason why architects are so eager in protesting against my close examination of details, is simply that they know they dare not meet me on that ground. Being, as I have said, in reality notarchitects, but builders, they can indeed raise a large building, with copied ornaments, which, being huge and white, they hope the public may pronounce "handsome." But they cannot design a cluster of oak-leaves—no, nor a single human figure—no, nor so much as a beast, or a bird, or a bird's nest! Let them first learn to invent as much as will fill a quatre-foil, or point a pinnacle, and then it will be time enough to reason with them on the principles of the sublime.

65. But farther. The things that I have dwelt upon in examining buildings, though often their least parts, are always in reality their principal parts. That is the principal part of a building in which its mind is contained, and that, as I have just shown, is its sculpture—and painting. I do with a building as I do with a man, watch the eye and the lips: when they are bright and eloquent, the form of the body is of little consequence.

Whatever other objections have been made to this second proposition, arise, as far as I remember, merely from a confusion of the idea of essentialness or primariness with the idea of nobleness. The essential thing in a building,—its first virtue,—is that it be strongly built, and fit for its uses. The noblest thing in a building, and its highest virtue, is that it be nobly sculptured or painted.[22]

66. One or two important corollaries yet remain to be stated. It has just been said that to sacrifice the convenience of a building to its external appearance is a futility and absurdity, and that convenience and stability are to be attained at the smallest cost. But when that convenience has been attained, the adding the noble characters of life by painting and sculpture, is a work in which all possible cost may be wisely admitted. There is great difficulty in fully explaining the various bearings of this proposition, so as to do away with the chances of its being erroneously understood and applied. For although, in the first designing of the building, nothing is to be admitted but what is wanted, and no useless wings are to be added to balance useful ones, yet in its ultimate designing, when its sculpture and color become precious, it may be that actual room is wanted to display them, or richer symmetry wanted to deserve them; and in such cases even a useless wall may be built to bear the sculpture, as at San Michele of Lucca, or a useless portion added to complete the cadences, as at St. Mark's of Venice, or useless height admitted in order to increase the impressiveness, as in nearly every noble building in the world. But the right to do this is dependent upon the actual purpose of the building becoming no longer one of utility merely; as the purpose of a cathedral is not so much to shelter the congregation as to awe them. In such cases even some sacrifice of convenience may occasionally be admitted, as in the case of certain forms of pillared churches. But for the most part, the great law is, convenience first, and then the noblest decoration possible; and this is peculiarly the case in domestic buildings, and such public ones as are constantly to be used for practical purposes.

67. Proposition 3d.—Ornamentation should be visible.

The reader may imagine this to be an indisputable position; but, practically, it is one of the last which modern architects are likely to admit; for it involves much more than appears at first sight. To render ornamentation, with all its qualities, clearly and entirely visible in its appointed place on the building, requires a knowledge of effect and a power of design which few even of the best artists possess, and which modern architects, so far from possessing, do not so much as comprehend the existence of. But, without dwelling on this highest manner of rendering ornament "visible," I desire only at present to convince the reader thoroughly of the main fact asserted in the text, that while modern builders decorate the tops of buildings, mediæval builders decorated the bottom. So singular is the ignorance yet prevailing of the first principles of Gothic architecture, that I saw this assertion marked with notes of interrogation in several of the reports of these Lectures; although, at Edinburgh, it was only necessary for those who doubted it to have walked to Holyrood Chapel, in order to convince themselves of the truth of it, so far as their own city was concerned; and although, most assuredly, the cathedrals of Europe have now been drawn often enough to establish the very simple fact that their best sculpture is in their porches, not in their steeples. However, as this great Gothic principle seems yet unacknowledged, let me state it here, once for all, namely, that the whole building is decorated, in all pure and fine examples, with the most exactly studied respect to the powers of the eye; the richest and most delicate sculpture being put on the walls of the porches, or on the façade of the building, just high enough above the ground to secure it from accidental (not from wanton[23]) injury. The decoration, as it rises, becomes always bolder, and in the buildings of the greatest times, generally simpler. Thus at San Zeno and the duomo of Verona, the only delicate decorations are on the porches and lower walls of the façades, the rest of the buildings being left comparatively plain; in the ducal palace of Venice the only very careful work is in the lowest capitals; and so also the richness of the work diminishes upwards in the transepts of Rouen, and façades of Bayeux, Rheims, Amiens, Abbeville,[24] Lyons, and Nôtre Dame of Paris. But in the middle and later Gothic the tendency is to produce an equal richness of effect over the whole building, or even to increase the richness towards the top; but this is done so skillfully that no fine work is wasted; and when the spectator ascends to the higher points of the building, which he thought were of the most consummate delicacy, he finds them Herculean in strength and rough-hewn in style, the really delicate work being all put at the base. The general treatment of Romanesque work is to increase the number of arches at the top, which at once enriches and lightens the mass, and to put the finest sculpture of the arches at the bottom. In towers of all kinds and periods the effective enrichment is towards the top, and most rightly, since their dignity is in their height; but they are never made the recipients of fine sculpture, with, as far as I know, the single exception of Giotto's campanile, which indeed has fine sculpture, but it is at the bottom.

The façade of Wells Cathedral seems to be an exception to the general rule, in having its principal decoration at the top; but it is on a scale of perfect power and effectiveness; while in the base modern Gothic of Milan Cathedral the statues are cut delicately everywhere, and the builders think it a merit that the visitor must climb to the roof before he can see them; and our modern Greek and Italian architecture reaches the utmost pitch of absurdity by placing its fine work at the top only. So that the general condition of the thing may be stated boldly, as in the text; the principal ornaments of Gothic buildings being in their porches, and of modern buildings, in their parapets.

68. Proposition 4th.—Ornamentation should be natural,—that is to say, should in some degree express or adopt the beauty of natural objects. This law, together with its ultimate reason, is expressed in the statement given in the "Stones of Venice," vol. i. p. 211: "All noble ornament is the expression of man's delight in God's work."

Observe, it does not hence follow that it should be an exact imitation of, or endeavor in anywise to supersede, God's work. It may consist only in a partial adoption of, and compliance with, the usual forms of natural things, without at all going to the point of imitation; and it is possible that the point of imitation may be closely reached by ornaments, which nevertheless are entirely unfit for their place, and are the signs only of a degraded ambition and an ignorant dexterity. Bad decorators err as easily on the side of imitating nature, as of forgetting her; and the question of the exact degree in which imitation should be attempted under given circumstances, is one of the most subtle and difficult in the whole range of criticism. I have elsewhere examined it at some length, and have yet much to say about it; but here I can only state briefly that the modes in which ornamentation ought to fall short of pure representation or imitation are in the main three, namely:—

  1. Conventionalism by cause of color.
  2. Conventionalism by cause of inferiority.
  3. Conventionalism by cause of means.

69. A. Conventionalism by cause of color.—Abstract color is not an imitation of nature, but is nature itself; that is to say, the pleasure taken in blue or red, as such, considered as hues merely, is the same, so long as the brilliancy of the hue is equal, whether it be produced by the chemistry of man, or the chemistry of flowers, or the chemistry of skies. We deal with color as with sound—so far ruling the power of the light, as we rule the power of the air, producing beauty not necessarily imitative, but sufficient in itself, so that, wherever color is introduced, ornamentation may cease to represent natural objects, and may consist in mere spots, or bands, or flamings, or any other condition of arrangement favorable to the color.

70. B. Conventionalism by cause of inferiority.—In general, ornamentation is set upon certain services, subjected to certain systems, and confined within certain limits; so that its forms require to be lowered or limited in accordance with the required relations. It cannot be allowed to assume the free outlines, or to rise to the perfection of imitation. Whole banks of flowers, for instance, cannot be carved on cathedral fronts, but only narrow moldings, having some of the characters of banks of flowers. Also, some ornaments require to be subdued in value, that they may not interfere with the effect of others; and all these necessary inferiorities are attained by means of departing from natural forms—it being an established law of human admiration that what is most representative of nature shall, cæteris paribus, be most attractive.

All the various kinds of ornamentation, consisting of spots, points, twisted bands, abstract curves, and other such, owe their peculiar character to this conventionalism "by cause of inferiority."

71. C. Conventionalism by cause of means.—In every branch of art, only so much imitation of nature is to be admitted as is consistent with the ease of the workman and the capacities of the material. Whatever shortcomings are appointed (for they are more than permitted, they are in such cases appointed, and meritorious) on account of the untractableness of the material, come under the head of "conventionalism by cause of means."

These conventionalities, then, being duly understood and accepted, in modification of the general law, that law will be, that the glory of all ornamentation consists in the adoption or imitation of the beauties of natural objects, and that no work can be of high value which is not full of this beauty. To this fourth proposition, modern architects have not ventured to make any serious resistance. On the contrary, they seem to be, little by little, gliding into an obscure perception of the fact, that architecture, in most periods of the world, had sculpture upon it, and that the said sculpture generally did represent something intelligible. For instance, we find Mr. Huggins, of Liverpool, lately lecturing upon architecture "in its relations to nature and the intellect,"[25] and gravely informing his hearers, that "in the Middle Ages angels were human figures;" that "some of the richest ornaments of Solomon's temple were imitated from the palm and pomegranate," and that "the Greeks followed the example of the Egyptians in selecting their ornaments from the plants of their own country." It is to be presumed that the lecturer has never been in the Elgin or Egyptian room of the British Museum, or it might have occurred to him that the Egyptians and Greeks sometimes also selected their ornaments from the men of their own country. But we must not expect too much illumination at once; and as we are told that, in conclusion, Mr. Huggins glanced at "the error of architects in neglecting the fountain of wisdom thus open to them in nature," we may expect in due time large results from the discovery of a source of wisdom so unimagined.

72. Proposition 5th.—Ornamentation should be thoughtful. That is to say, whenever you put a chisel or a pencil into a man's hand for the purpose of enabling him to produce beauty, you are to expect of him that he will think about what he is doing, and feel something about it, and that the expression of this thought or feeling will be the most noble quality in what he produces with his chisel or brush, inasmuch as the power of thinking and feeling is the most noble thing in the man. It will hence follow that as men do not commonly think the same thoughts twice, you are not to require of them that they shall do the same thing twice. You are to expect another and a different thought of them, as soon as one thought has been well expressed.

73. Hence, therefore, it follows also that all noble ornamentation is perpetually varied ornamentation, and that the moment you find ornamentation unchanging, you may know that it is of a degraded kind or degraded school. To this law, the only exceptions arise out of the uses of monotony, as a contrast to change. Many subordinate architectural moldings are severely alike in their various parts (though never unless they are thoroughly subordinate, for monotony is always deathful according to the degree of it), in order to set off change in others; and a certain monotony or similarity must be introduced among the most changeful ornaments in order to enhance and exhibit their own changes.

The truth of this proposition is self-evident; for no art can be noble which is incapable of expressing thought, and no art is capable of expressing thought which does not change. To require of an artist that he should always reproduce the same picture, would be not one whit more base than to require of a carver that he should always reproduce the same sculpture.

The principle is perfectly clear and altogether incontrovertible. Apply it to modern Greek architecture, and that architecture must cease to exist; for it depends absolutely on copyism.

74. The sixth proposition above stated, that Gothic ornamentation is nobler than Greek ornamentation, etc., is therefore sufficiently proved by the acceptance of this one principle, no less important than unassailable. Of all that I have to bring forward respecting architecture, this is the one I have most at heart; for on the acceptance of this depends the determination whether the workman shall be a living, progressive, and happy human being, or whether he shall be a mere machine, with its valves smoothed by heart's blood instead of oil,—the most pitiable form of slave.

And it is with especial reference to the denial of this principle in modern and Renaissance architecture, that I speak of that architecture with a bitterness which appears to many readers extreme, while in reality, so far from exaggerating, I have not grasp enough of thought to embrace, the evils which have resulted among all the orders of European society from the introduction of the Renaissance schools of building, in turning away the eyes of the beholder from natural beauty, and reducing the workman to the level of a machine. In the Gothic times, writing, painting, carving, casting,—it mattered not what,—were all works done by thoughtful and happy men; and the illumination of the volume, and the carving and casting of wall and gate, employed, not thousands, but millions, of true and noble artists over all Christian lands. Men in the same position are now left utterly without intellectual power or pursuit, and, being unhappy in their work, they rebel against it: hence one of the worst forms of Unchristian Socialism. So again, there being now no nature or variety in architecture, the multitude are not interested in it; therefore, for the present, they have lost their taste for art altogether, so that you can no longer trust sculpture within their reach. Consider the innumerable forms of evil involved in the temper and taste of the existing populace of London or Paris, as compared with the temper of the populace of Florence, when the quarter of Santa Maria Novella received its title of "Joyful Quarter," from the rejoicings of the multitude at getting a new picture into their church, better than the old ones;—all this difference being exclusively chargeable on the Renaissance architecture. And then, farther, if we remember, not only the revolutionary ravage of sacred architecture, but the immeasurably greater destruction effected by the Renaissance builders and their satellites, wherever they came, destruction so wide-spread that there is not a town in France or Italy but it has to deplore the deliberate overthrow of more than half its noblest monuments, in order to put up Greek porticoes or palaces in their stead; adding also all the blame of the ignorance of the meaner kind of men, operating in thousands of miserable abuses upon the frescoes, books, and pictures, as the architects' hammers did on the carved work, of the Middle Ages;[26] and, finally, if we examine the influence which the luxury, and, still more, the heathenism, joined with the essential dullness of these schools, have had on the upper class of society, it will ultimately be found that no expressions are energetic enough to describe, nor broad enough to embrace, the enormous moral evils which have risen from them.

75. I omitted, in preparing the preceding lecture for the press, a passage referring to this subject, because it appeared to me, in its place, hardly explained by preceding statements. But I give it here unaltered, as being, in sober earnest, but too weak to characterize the tendencies of the "accursed" architecture of which it speaks.

"Accursed, I call it, with deliberate purpose. It needed but the gathering up of a Babylonish garment to trouble Israel;—these marble garments of the ancient idols of the Gentiles, how many have they troubled! Gathered out of their ruins by the second Babylon,—gathered by the Papal Church in the extremity of her sin;—raised up by her, not when she was sending forth her champions to preach in the highway, and pine in the desert, and perish in the fire, but in the very scarlet fruitage and fullness of her guilt, when her priests vested themselves not with purple only, but with blood, and bade the cups of their feasting foam not with wine only, but with hemlock;—raised by the hands of the Leos and the Borgias, raised first into that mighty temple where the seven hills slope to the Tiber, that marks by its massy dome the central spot, where Rome has reversed the words of Christ, and, as He vivified the stone to the apostleship, she petrifies the apostleship into the stumbling stone;—exalted there first as if to mark what work it had to do, it went forth to paralyze or to pollute, and wherever it came, the luster faded from the streets of our cities, the gray towers and glorious arches of our abbeys fell by the river sides, the love of nature was uprooted from the hearts of men, base luxuries and cruel formalisms were festered and frozen into them from their youth; and at last, where, from his fair Gothic chapel beside the Seine, the king St. Louis had gone forth, followed by his thousands in the cause of Christ, another king was dragged forth from the gates of his Renaissance palace,[27] to die, by the hands of the thousands of his people gathered in another crusade; or what shall that be called—whose sign was not the cross, but the guillotine?"

76. I have not space here to pursue the subject farther, nor shall I be able to write anything more respecting architecture for some time to come. But in the meanwhile, I would most earnestly desire to leave with the reader this one subject of thought—"The Life of the Workman." For it is singular, and far more than singular, that among all the writers who have attempted to examine the principles stated in the "Stones of Venice," not one[28] has as yet made a single comment on what was precisely and accurately the most important chapter in the whole book; namely, the description of the nature of Gothic architecture, as involving the liberty of the workman (vol. ii. ch. vi.). I had hoped that whatever might be the prejudices of modern architects, there would have been found some among them quicksighted enough to see the bearings of this principle, and generous enough to support it. There has hitherto stood forward not one.

But my purpose must at last be accomplished for all this. The laborer among the gravestones of our modern architecture must yet be raised up, and become a living soul. Before he can be thus raised, the whole system of Greek architecture, as practiced in the present day, must be annihilated; but it will be annihilated, and that speedily. For truth and judgment are its declared opposites, and against these nothing ever finally prevailed, or shall prevail.


[20] The constructive value of Gothic architecture is, however, far greater than that of Romanesque, as the pointed arch is not only susceptible of an infinite variety of forms and applications to the weight to be sustained, but it possesses, in the outline given to its masonry at its perfect periods, the means of self-sustainment to a far greater degree than the round arch. I pointed out, for, I believe, the first time, the meaning and constructive value of the Gothic cusp, in page 129 of the first volume of the "Stones of Venice." That statement was first denied, and then taken advantage of, by modern architects; and considering how often it has been alleged that I have no practical knowledge of architecture, it cannot but be matter of some triumph to me, to find "The Builder," of the 21st January, 1854, describing as a new invention, the successful application to a church in Carlow of the principle which I laid down in the year 1851.

[21] Thus, in speaking of Pugin's designs, I said, "Expect no cathedrals of him; but no one, at present, can design a better finial, though he will never design even a finial perfectly." But even this I said less with reference to powers of arrangement, than to materials of fancy; for many men have store enough to last them through a boss or a bracket, but not to last them through a church front.

[22] Of course I use the term painting as including every mode of applying color.

[23] Nothing is more notable in good Gothic than the confidence of its builders in the respect of the people for their work. A great school of architecture cannot exist when this respect cannot be calculated upon, as it would be vain to put fine sculpture within the reach of a population whose only pleasure would be in defacing it.

[24] The church to Abbeville is late flamboyant, but well deserves, for the exquisite beauty of its porches, to be named even with the great works of the thirteenth century.

[25] See "The Builder," for January 12, 1854.

[26] Nothing appears to me much more wonderful, than the remorseless way in which the educated ignorance, even of the present day, will sweep away an ancient monument, if its preservation be not absolutely consistent with immediate convenience or economy. Putting aside all antiquarian considerations, and all artistical ones, I wish that people would only consider the steps and the weight of the following very simple argument. You allow it is wrong to waste time, that is, your own time; but then it must be still more wrong to waste other people's; for you have some right to your own time, but none to theirs. Well, then, if it is thus wrong to waste the time of the living, it must be still more wrong to waste the time of the dead; for the living can redeem their time, the dead cannot. But you waste the best of the time of the dead when you destroy the works they have left you; for to those works they gave the best of their time, intending them for immortality.

[27] The character of Renaissance architecture, and the spirit which dictated its adoption, may be remembered as having been centered and symbolized in the palace of Versailles; whose site was chosen by Louis the Fourteenth, in order that from thence he might not see St. Denis, the burial-place of his family. The cost of the palace in twenty-seven years is stated in "The Builder," for March 18th, 1854, to have been £3,246,000 money of that period, equal to about seven millions now (£900,000 having been expended in the year 1686 alone). The building is thus notably illustrative of the two feelings which were stated in the "Stones of Venice," to be peculiarly characteristic of the Renaissance spirit, the Pride of State and Fear of Death. Compare the horror of Louis the Fourteenth at the sight of the tower of St. Denis, with the feeling which prompted the Scaligeri at Verona to set their tombs within fifteen feet of their palace walls.

[28] An article in Fraser's Magazine, which has appeared since these sheets were sent to press, forms a solitary exception.