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the statues in the middle stage. In each of his three stages the thing is a real unity. But his Italian rivals have ranges of square and roundheaded windows, with purely decorative pillars between them. Unity there is absolutely none. To have united the roundheaded windows into an arcade, with blank members between them, if needed, would be the natural form of decoration; and a noble form of decoration it is, as many a building, both in Italy and in England, can bear witness. But then it is not orthodox revived Italian; it is something barbarous beyond the barbarism of Gothic itself. It is the style of the savage Lombard and the devastating Norman. It would at once have converted the design from civilised Roman into barbarous Romanesque.
Now it seems to us that when we have to choose between two styles, giving each a clear field and no favour, this last consideration alone ought to decide in favour of Gothic. It is a true, honest, straightforward style, despising sham and pretence. True, you may find Gothic buildings, like the west front of Salisbury Cathedral, which are utter shams. All we can say is, that they desert the principle of their own style, and that they would have been far more beautiful had they followed the law of reality. But in Italian you can hardly avoid a certain amount of sham. At the very least you confuse the two systems of construction; you add a mask constructed on the system of the entablature to a body constructed on the system of the arch.
And now we come to what is to our mind the strongest argument of all on the Gothic side. This is the historical one. Gothic is our own, Italian is foreign. When we are driven to choose, to imitate, to revive, this consideration seems to us alone to settle the question. Were we Italians, we would build in Italian; not, indeed, the Borgian and Medicean Italian of the days of Italy's degradation, but the glorious old Italian of the days of her commonwealths and her kings. If regenerate Italy has new temples and palaces to rear, let them be the true artistic offspring of the old style of Milan and Pisa and Pavia; the style in which Frederick refounded Lodi, and in which the Lombard League founded Alessandria. For the same reason we, as Teutons, prefer to cleave to Teutonic architecture; as Englishmen, we select by special preference its English variety. Where our own national models fail us, we are willing to draw on the resources of kindred lands; but let us not, while our own and kindred lands are so rich in glorious works, go and sit at the feet of utter strangers. What the Romanesque of Pisa should be to an Italian, or the Byzantine of St. Sophia to a Greek, such is the style of Cologne, of St. Ouen's, and of Westminster
to a German, a Frenchman, or an Englishman. Gothic architecture is the architecture of the Teutonic race; and, in the wide sense in which the word “Gothic' is often used, we accept it as its truest and most honourable title. We will not dispute about its origin, how it arose, or where it was first invented. It appeared so simultaneously in England, France, and Germany, that it is hard to give either country the precedence. And if it can be proved that the first germ belonged to some one of the three, still the other two adopted it so early and so thoroughly, each wrought out such distinct and vigorous varieties of the common form, that Gothic architecture may be called thoroughly national in all three alike. To an Englishman, indeed, the style is connected with the very noblest associations of his history. The architecture of England arose alongside of her laws, her constitution, her language. They are all the work of that wonderful thirteenth century, which made England what she still is. We have lately seen the strange assertion, that that age was “one of the most barren in the history of the human mind.” The history of England, alike artistic and political, has certainly taught us another lesson. Our old national buildings, our medieval minsters and palaces, tell us of those early patriots who wrung our liberties from the grasp of king and pope alike.
. The first
age of Gothic architecture is the age which won the Great Charter from the tyrant; which gave us, not indeed, it may be, in their full perfection, but which still gave us, fresh, vigorous, and prolific, the essence of all the laws and liberties that we still prize. Our English Gothic tells us of Langton and Fitzwalter, of Grosseteste and De Montfort, of the triumph of Lewes, and of the martyrdom of Evesham. It tells us of England once more England under her first and greatest Edward ; and it tells us how the strong heart of Bigod braved even Edward himself, when the hero and the lawgiver turned aside into the path of tyranny. And not one of these associations is of a merely antiquarian interest; no gap separates us from our fathers; what they won we still enjoy. All our later legislation takes its root in those few words of the Great Charter, which to us at least, as Chatham said, are worth all that Greece and Rome has left us. Pass what Reform Bills we will, we shall but be modifying in detail those venerable writs by which Simon of Leicester first called together the representatives of the cities and boroughs of England. Has any later age struggled either against royal despotism from within or spiritual despotism from without? In so doing it has but trod in the steps of the men of the thirteenth century. Bulls and excommunications were hurled in vain against the army of God and of the holy Church; and De Montfort himself, the canonised saint of the English people, died under the ban of Rome. We still speak the tongue, we are still governed by the laws, we still glory in the constitution, which received their lasting shape in the age in which Gothic architecture arose among us.
If any style of art was ever national in any age or country, surely that style is national in England which arose in the age which made England what it is.
To this line of argument it has been objected,* that Gothic architecture is not national but “ feudal;” that its being common to England, France, and Germany, shows that it is not national in any one of those countries, but that it is owing only to the common element in the three, which is said to be “ feudalism,” “ hierarchies of priests, hierarchies of nobles, hierarchies of burghers.” Finally, there is said to be such a “solution of continuity” between us and the middle ages, as makes their art quite inapplicable to us. Now, it is hard to see what is meant by an architecture being “ feudal,” any more than what is meant by its being popish. The writer can hardly mean that there is any special connection between pointed arches and knightservice, or between the tooth-moulding and grand-sergeantry. In what we have been just saying, we do not mean that there is any mysterious connection between Simon de Montfort's parliament and the architecture of Salisbury cathedral. say, that when we have to choose an architecture, the architecture of Plantagenet England is one which calls up more agreeable associations than the architecture of Borgian Italy. The objection can only mean that Gothic architecture was prevalent in days when feudalism was prevalent also, which is hardly correct historically, as in the thirteenth century feudalism was beginning to decay. The true feudal architecture would be Romanesque.t It is surely much easier to say that the common
* See a letter signed “A.” in the Times, Nov. 1, 1859.
† The difference between Romanesque and Gothic, the fullest developments respectively of the round and of the pointed arch, is, we believe, seldom fully realised by persons who have not technically studied the subject. It is, however, of the highest importance, and has been fully worked out by the writers who have followed in the wake of Mr. Hope. We are sorry to see that this nomenclature, which had become generally received, has been needlessly confused by Mr. Fergusson in his Handbook of Architecture, who transfers the name Romanesque to the early basilicas, and jumbles Romanesque and Gothic together under one head. As Mr. Fergusson's book has been so much talked of lately, it may be as well to give a very brief summary of its merits and defects, both of which are very great and conspicuous. He has earned the lasting gratitude of síudents of art by bringing to our notice various forms of eastern architecture of which he is thoroughly master, and of which hardly any thing was known before. He has
gathered together a mass of views, measurements, and ground-plans, to be found in no other single work. He gives much judicious criticism on particular styles and buildings. On the other hand, he ignores all preceding writers; his arrangement is confused and misleading, and an affectation of historical and ethnological precision has led him into a series of the most ludicrous blunders, not one of
We only element in the three countries is the common Teutonic blood, which, it should be remembered, was in those days still politically predominant at least in Northern France. In conformity with this view, we find that in France Roman elements linger about the style far later than in England; that in Southern France those elements are more conspicuous, and linger still longer; that in Spain the whole style is little more than an exotic; and that in Italy it is, in its purity, unknown. A political Durandus might go farther, and might say that the English clustered pillar with many shafts under one capital typifies the union of many powers in the state under a constitutional monarch; while the single pillar, so often retained in France, typifies the French tendency to the unité du pouvoir. We of course believe in no such trifling; but it is quite as much to the purpose as it is to attribute the peculiarities of Gothic architecture to the feudal jurisprudence. The writer we have noticed enlarges on the diversity between the three great Gothic countries; yet, after all, their resemblance, as compared with the rest of the world, is more striking than their diversity. Surely, whatever are their differences among themselves, they form a marked whole, as distinguished from the rest of the world. What is modern European civilisation? Surely it is a joint production of those three countries, to which each has contributed its portion, and which they all enjoy in common. The three great countries of central Europe set the standard ; the north, the south, the east at most follow it. But after all, this whole line of argument is but little to the purpose. To say that architecture is “feudal” or “ popish,
“ ” really means nothing ; but to say that a particular style is peculiar to the Teutonic race, that a special variety of that style is peculiar to our own branch of that race, is to assert undeniable historical facts. To us these facts seem quite reason enough to lead us, when placed in the strange position of having to choose our architecture, to prefer the Teutonic style, and, cæteris paribus, to prefer its English variety. As for “solution of continuity" (a phrase which sounds more like a chemical than an historical technicality), we do not know very well what it means. If it means a wide impassable gap between two periods, we deny it altogether in the case of our own country. There may be a “solution of continuity” between the France of the old régime and the France of the republic or the empire; but there is none which, strange to say, is corrected in the new edition, though they have been pointed out in various critical notices. Mr. Fergusson has sense enough to see the close connection between architecture and history; but he has not knowledge enough either of western architecture or western history to work it out with any accuracy. A man may be a first-rate architect and a first-rate architectural critic, wbo has never turned a page either of Thucydides or of Eginhard ; but if so, he had better not write about the age of Pericles or of Charlemagne.
between the England of Edward I. and the England of Queen Victoria. If any body thinks there is, we can only advise him to read attentively through Blackstone's Commentaries and Lord Macaulay's History.
We have said that our style should not only be Gothic, but by preference English Gothic. We say merely by preference, because it is only common sense to draw upon the other kindred nations if our own stores fail us in any particular case. In our churches and our private houses we have but little occasion to do so, though we should make no kind of objection to borrowing some of those features of French or German churches and houses in which they certainly surpass our own. In public secular buildings we are less rich, and may often be driven to seek for hints from other lands. Mr. Scott surely did wisely to draw the general conception of his design for the Foreign Office from the magnificent town-halls of the Netherlands. So did the architects of the new museum at Oxford no less wisely as regards the general conception of the grand front, whatever we say either as to the details or as to the rest of the building. If England, Belgium, Germany, and Northern France all fail us, we should not refuse to draw hints from the works of those who in the Gothic era were our fellowsubjects of Aquitaine. But this is as far as we can go. We must refuse to pass the Alps. Since Mr. Ruskin first began to abuse English and French Gothic, and to set up Italian in their stead, we have had a sort of counter-revolution against the true Gothic movement. Northern Gothic has been discovered to be “savage;" English Perpendicular to be “ detestable;" St. Ouen's tower to be “base;" buttresses are to be eschewed as “crutches;" towers are not to be crowned with pinnacles, because there ought to be “a monarch and his lowly train,” and for some inconceivable reason about the heads, legs, and horns of the Ruminantia.* These propositions have been demonstrated by putting forth a comparative view of an English and an Italian tower, in which the English tower, brought in to be beaten by its competitor, is not Canterbury, or Gloucester, or Wolverhampton, not Wrington, or Evercreech, or Wells, or Glastonbury, or North Petherton, not the tower of Magdalen or Merton,-neither of them surely unknown to him who is emphatically the “ Oxford graduate,”—but the modern gateway turret of a Free-Church college at Edinburgh! Since then “ Italian Gothic” has been the rage. To our eye it is not Gothic at all. To us it seems that the Italians judged very ill when they deserted their own glorious Romanesque for an attempt to initate forms which they could not transplant in their purity. The
• Seven Lamps of Architecture, p. 115.