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would not be utterly ruined, as Messrs. Coe and Hofland's would, by the omission of all. Hence we hold that Gothic architecture is really cheaper than Italian. It will give you a really artistic effect with a less amount of ornament, and therefore with a less expenditure of money.
Our second consideration, the artistic, is intimately connected with the last branch of the practical. We will not go into the metaphysics of beauty: which of two given buildings, or of two given styles, is most beautiful, that is, which is most pleasing to the eye and the mind, must always be in a great degree a matter of taste. Nor will we, with Mr. Ruskin, go about to look for the seven deadly sins and the seven cardinal virtues in structures of stone and mortar. Still there are such things as honesty and dishonesty of construction and ornament. Now, speaking generally, Gothic is thus honest, and Italian is not. Mr. Pugin taught us this truth long ago. Grecian and Gothic stand side by side, bracketed æquales, as in a Cambridge tripos. There are only two modes of construction,—the entablature and the arch. Grecian shows the highest perfection reached by the one, Gothic the highest perfection reached by the other. Italian, like its parent the old Roman, is a jumble of the two. Grecian and Gothic both “ornament the construction;" Italian constantly conceals it. That is, in Grecian and Gothic, the pillars, entablatures, arches, which form the real constructive features, are themselves made beautiful features, and are the prominent objects in the decoration. But Italian, using for the most part an arched construction, seeks its ornament in the system of the entablature. A Gothic building enriches its necessary features,-its doorways, its windows, its internal arcades. If it adds ornament for ornament's sake, it seeks it chiefly in decorative imitations of the constructive features, in shafts or mullions supporting blank arches, but on so small a scale that every body sees that they are merely decorative features. But an Italian design has very commonly a range of engaged pillars the full height of the building, with the windows of two or three stories peeping between them. The first feeling is, that the columns originally stood detached, and that somebody has built a wall between them. Messrs. Coe and Hofland avoid this fault; but they avoid it by piling order upon order in a way rather cinquecento than fully developed Italian, and which was in fact borrowed from the Gothic system of decoration. But even their system of decoration is not consistent. Mr. Scott, in his highest story, runs an arcade along his whole front, and pierces members of it for windows wherever light is wanted. In his central and lower ranges the windows stand thicker together, and fill up nearly the whole wall. There is nothing between them save 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 shain 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 mediæval 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 Guthic 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 ns. 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. We only 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.† It is surely much easier to say that the common 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 Tentonic 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, who 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.
* 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 s udents 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 eth 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