I. I have hardly kept my promise. The reader has decorated but little for himself as yet; but I have not, at least, attempted to bias his judgment. Of the simple forms of decoration which have been set before him, he has always been left free to choose; and the stated restrictions in the methods of applying them have been only those which followed on the necessities of construction previously determined. These having been now defined, I do indeed leave my reader free to build; and with what a freedom! All the lovely forms of the universe set before him, whence to choose, and all the lovely lines that bound their substance or guide their motion; and of all these lines,—and there are myriads of myriads in every bank of grass and every tuft of forest; and groups of them divinely harmonized, in the bell of every flower, and in every several member of bird and beast,—of all these lines, for the principal forms of the most important members of architecture, I have used but Three! What, therefore, must be the infinity of the treasure in them all! There is material enough in a single flower for the ornament of a score of cathedrals, but suppose we were satisfied with less exhaustive appliance, and built a score of cathedrals, each to illustrate a single flower? that would be better than trying to invent new styles, I think. There is quite difference of style enough, between a violet and a harebell, for all reasonable purposes.
II. Perhaps, however, even more strange than the struggle of our architects to invent new styles, is the way they commonly speak of this treasure of natural infinity. Let us take our patience to us for an instant, and hear one of them, not among the least intelligent:—
“It is not true that all natural forms are beautiful. We may hardly be able to detect this in Nature herself; but when the forms are separated from the things, and exhibited alone (by sculpture or carving), we then see that they are not all fitted for ornamental purposes; and indeed that very few, perhaps none, are so fitted without correction. Yes, I say correction, for though it is the highest aim of every art to imitate nature, this is not to be done by imitating any natural form, but by criticising and correcting it,—criticising it by Nature’s rules gathered from all her works, but never completely carried out by her in any one work; correcting it, by rendering it more natural, i.e. more conformable to the general tendency of Nature, according to that noble maxim recorded of Raffaelle, ‘that the artist’s object was to make things not as Nature makes them, but as she WOULD make them;’ as she ever tries to make them, but never succeeds, though her aim may be deduced from a comparison of her efforts; just as if a number of archers had aimed unsuccessfully at a mark upon a wall, and this mark were then removed, we could by the examination of their arrow marks point out the most probable position of the spot aimed at, with a certainty of being nearer to it than any of their shots.”92
III. I had thought that, by this time, we had done with that stale, second-hand, one-sided, and misunderstood saying of Raffaelle’s; or that at least, in these days of purer Christian light, men might have begun to get some insight into the meaning of it: Raffaelle was a painter of humanity, and assuredly there is something the matter with humanity, a few dovrebbe’s, more or less, wanting in it. We have most of us heard of original sin, and may perhaps, in our modest moments, conjecture that we are not quite what God, or nature, would have us to be. Raffaelle had something to mend in Humanity: I should have liked to have seen him mending a daisy!—or a pease-blossom, or a moth, or a mustard seed, or any other of God’s slightest works. If he had accomplished that, one might have found for him more respectable employment,—to set the stars in better order, perhaps (they seem grievously scattered as they are, and to be of all manner of shapes and sizes,—except the ideal shape, and the proper size); or to give us a corrected view of the ocean; that, at least, seems a very irregular and improveable thing; the very fishermen do not know, this day, how far it will reach, driven up before the 351 west wind:—perhaps Some One else does, but that is not our business. Let us go down and stand by the beach of it,—of the great irregular sea, and count whether the thunder of it is not out of time. One,—two:—here comes a well-formed wave at last, trembling a little at the top, but, on the whole, orderly. So, crash among the shingle, and up as far as this grey pebble; now stand by and watch! Another:—Ah, careless wave! why couldn’t you have kept your crest on? it is all gone away into spray, striking up against the cliffs there—I thought as much—missed the mark by a couple of feet! Another:—How now, impatient one! couldn’t you have waited till your friend’s reflux was done with, instead of rolling yourself up with it in that unseemly manner? You go for nothing. A fourth, and a goodly one at last. What think we of yonder slow rise, and crystalline hollow, without a flaw? Steady, good wave; not so fast; not so fast; where are you coming to?—By our architectural word, this is too bad; two yards over the mark, and ever so much of you in our face besides; and a wave which we had some hope of, behind there, broken all to pieces out at sea, and laying a great white table-cloth of foam all the way to the shore, as if the marine gods were to dine off it! Alas, for these unhappy arrow shots of Nature; she will never hit her mark with those unruly waves of hers, nor get one of them, into the ideal shape, if we wait for a thousand years. Let us send for a Greek architect to do it for her. He comes—the great Greek architect, with measure and rule. Will he not also make the weight for the winds? and weigh out the waters by measure? and make a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder? He sets himself orderly to his work, and behold! this is the mark of nature, and this is the thing into which the great Greek architect improves the sea—
Θάλαττα Θάλαττα: Was it this, then, that they wept to see from the sacred mountain—those wearied ones?
IV. But the sea was meant to be irregular! Yes, and were not also the leaves, and the blades of grass; and, in a sort, as far as may be without mark of sin, even the countenance of man? Or would it be pleasanter and better to have us all alike, and numbered on our foreheads, that we might be known one from the other?
V. Is there, then, nothing to be done by man’s art? Have we only to copy, and again copy, for ever, the imagery of the universe? Not so. We have work to do upon it; there is not any one of us so simple, nor so feeble, but he has work to do upon it. But the work is not to improve, but to explain. This infinite universe is unfathomable, inconceivable, in its whole; every human creature must slowly spell out, and long contemplate, such part of it as may be possible for him to reach; then set forth what he has learned of it for those beneath him; extricating it from infinity, as one gathers a violet out of grass; one does not improve either violet or grass in gathering it, but one makes the flower visible; and then the human being has to make its power upon his own heart visible also, and to give it the honor of the good thoughts it has raised up in him, and to write upon it the history of his own soul. And sometimes he may be able to do more than this, and to set it in strange lights, and display it in a thousand ways before unknown: ways specially directed to necessary and noble purposes, for which he had to choose instruments out of the wide armory of God. All this he may do: and in this he is only doing what every Christian has to do with the written, as well as the created word, “rightly dividing the word of truth.” Out of the infinity of the written word, he has also to gather and set forth things new and old, to choose them for the season and the work that are before him, to explain and manifest them to others, with such illustration and enforcement as may be in his power, and to crown them with the history of what, by them, God has done for his soul. And, in doing this, is he improving the Word of God? Just such difference as there is between the sense in which a minister may be said to improve a text, to the people’s comfort, and the sense in which an 353 atheist might declare that he could improve the Book, which, if any man shall add unto, there shall be added unto him the plagues that are written therein; just such difference is there between that which, with respect to Nature, man is, in his humbleness, called upon to do, and that which, in his insolence, he imagines himself capable of doing.
VI. Have no fear, therefore, reader, in judging between nature and art, so only that you love both. If you can love one only, then let it be Nature; you are safe with her: but do not then attempt to judge the art, to which you do not care to give thought, or time. But if you love both, you may judge between them fearlessly; you may estimate the last, by its making you remember the first, and giving you the same kind of joy. If, in the square of the city, you can find a delight, finite, indeed, but pure and intense, like that which you have in a valley among the hills, then its art and architecture are right; but if, after fair trial, you can find no delight in them, nor any instruction like that of nature, I call on you fearlessly to condemn them.
We are forced, for the sake of accumulating our power and knowledge, to live in cities; but such advantage as we have in association with each other is in great part counterbalanced by our loss of fellowship with nature. We cannot all have our gardens now, nor our pleasant fields to meditate in at eventide. Then the function of our architecture is, as far as may be, to replace these; to tell us about nature; to possess us with memories of her quietness; to be solemn and full of tenderness, like her, and rich in portraitures of her; full of delicate imagery of the flowers we can no more gather, and of the living creatures now far away from us in their own solitude. If ever you felt or found this in a London Street,—if ever it furnished you with one serious thought, or one ray of true and gentle pleasure,—if there is in your heart a true delight in its grim railings and dark casements, and wasteful finery of shops, and feeble coxcombry of club-houses,—it is well: promote the building of more like them. But if they never taught you anything, and never made you happier as you passed beneath 354 them, do not think they have any mysterious goodness nor occult sublimity. Have done with the wretched affectation, the futile barbarism, of pretending to enjoy: for, as surely as you know that the meadow grass, meshed with fairy rings, is better than the wood pavement, cut into hexagons; and as surely as you know the fresh winds and sunshine of the upland are better than the choke-damp of the vault, or the gas-light of the ball-room, you may know, as I told you that you should, that the good architecture, which has life, and truth, and joy in it, is better than the bad architecture, which has death, dishonesty, and vexation of heart in it, from the beginning to the end of time.
VII. And now come with me, for I have kept you too long from your gondola: come with me, on an autumnal morning, through the dark gates of Padua, and let us take the broad road leading towards the East.
It lies level, for a league or two, between its elms, and vine festoons full laden, their thin leaves veined into scarlet hectic, and their clusters deepened into gloomy blue; then mounts an embankment above the Brenta, and runs between the river and the broad plain, which stretches to the north in endless lines of mulberry and maize. The Brenta flows slowly, but strongly; a muddy volume of yellowish-grey water, that neither hastens nor slackens, but glides heavily between its monotonous banks, with here and there a short, babbling eddy twisted for an instant into its opaque surface, and vanishing, as if something had been dragged into it and gone down. Dusty and shadeless, the road fares along the dyke on its northern side; and the tall white tower of Dolo is seen trembling in the heat mist far away, and never seems nearer than it did at first. Presently you pass one of the much vaunted “villas on the Brenta:” a glaring, spectral shell of brick and stucco, its windows with painted architraves like picture-frames, and a court-yard paved with pebbles in front of it, all burning in the thick glow of the feverish sunshine, but fenced from the high road, for magnificence sake, with goodly posts and chains; then another, of Kew Gothic, with Chinese variations, 355 painted red and green; a third composed for the greater part of dead-wall, with fictitious windows painted upon it, each with a pea-green blind, and a classical architrave in bad perspective; and a fourth, with stucco figures set on the top of its garden-wall: some antique, like the kind to be seen at the corner of the New Road, and some of clumsy grotesque dwarfs, with fat bodies and large boots. This is the architecture to which her studies of the Renaissance have conducted modern Italy.
VIII. The sun climbs steadily, and warms into intense white the walls of the little piazza of Dolo, where we change horses. Another dreary stage among the now divided branches of the Brenta, forming irregular and half-stagnant canals; with one or two more villas on the other side of them, but these of the old Venetian type, which we may have recognised before at Padua, and sinking fast into utter ruin, black, and rent, and lonely, set close to the edge of the dull water, with what were once small gardens beside them, kneaded into mud, and with blighted fragments of gnarled hedges and broken stakes for their fencing; and here and there a few fragments of marble steps, which have once given them graceful access from the water’s edge, now settling into the mud in broken joints, all aslope, and slippery with green weed. At last the road turns sharply to the north, and there is an open space, covered with bent grass, on the right of it: but do not look that way.
IX. Five minutes more, and we are in the upper room of the little inn at Mestre, glad of a moment’s rest in shade. The table is (always, I think) covered with a cloth of nominal white and perennial grey, with plates and glasses at due intervals, and small loaves of a peculiar white bread, made with oil, and more like knots of flour than bread. The view from its balcony is not cheerful: a narrow street, with a solitary brick church and barren campanile on the other side of it; and some coventual buildings, with a few crimson remnants of fresco about their windows; and, between them and the street, a ditch with some slow current in it, and one or two small houses 356 beside it, one with an arbor of roses at its door, as in an English tea-garden; the air, however, about us having in it nothing of roses, but a close smell of garlic and crabs, warmed by the smoke of various stands of hot chestnuts. There is much vociferation also going on beneath the window respecting certain wheelbarrows which are in rivalry for our baggage: we appease their rivalry with our best patience, and follow them down the narrow street.
X. We have but walked some two hundred yards when we come to a low wharf or quay, at the extremity of a canal, with long steps on each side down to the water, which latter we fancy for an instant has become black with stagnation; another glance undeceives us,—it is covered with the black boats of Venice. We enter one of them, rather to try if they be real boats or not, than with any definite purpose, and glide away; at first feeling as if the water were yielding continually beneath the boat and letting her sink into soft vacancy. It is something clearer than any water we have seen lately, and of a pale green; the banks only two or three feet above it, of mud and rank grass, with here and there a stunted tree; gliding swiftly past the small casement of the gondola, as if they were dragged by upon a painted scene.
Stroke by stroke we count the plunges of the oar, each heaving up the side of the boat slightly as her silver beak shoots forward. We lose patience, and extricate ourselves from the cushions: the sea air blows keenly by, as we stand leaning on the roof of the floating cell. In front, nothing to be seen but long canal and level bank; to the west, the tower of Mestre is lowering fast, and behind it there have risen purple shapes, of the color of dead rose-leaves, all round the horizon, feebly defined against the afternoon sky,—the Alps of Bassano. Forward still: the endless canal bends at last, and then breaks into intricate angles about some low bastions, now torn to pieces and staggering in ugly rents towards the water,—the bastions of the fort of Malghera. Another turn, and another perspective of canal; but not interminable. The silver beak cleaves it fast,—it widens: the rank grass of the 357 banks sinks lower, and lower, and at last dies in tawny knots along an expanse of weedy shore. Over it, on the right, but a few years back, we might have seen the lagoon stretching to the horizon, and the warm southern sky bending over Malamocco to the sea. Now we can see nothing but what seems a low and monotonous dock-yard wall, with flat arches to let the tide through it;—this is the railroad bridge, conspicuous above all things. But at the end of those dismal arches, there rises, out of the wide water, a straggling line of low and confused brick buildings, which, but for the many towers which are mingled among them, might be the suburbs of an English manufacturing town. Four or five domes, pale, and apparently at a greater distance, rise over the centre of the line; but the object which first catches the eye is a sullen cloud of black smoke brooding over the northern half of it, and which issues from the belfry of a church.
It is Venice.
92 Garbett on Design, p. 74.
I find the chroniclers agree in fixing the year 421, if any: the following sentence from De Monaci may perhaps interest the reader.
“God, who punishes the sins of men by war sorrows, and whose ways are past finding out, willing both to save the innocent blood, and that a great power, beneficial to the whole world, should arise in a spot strange beyond belief, moved the chief men of the cities of the Venetian province (which from the border of Pannonia, extended as far as the Adda, a river of Lombardy), both in memory of past, and in dread of future distress, to establish states upon the nearer islands of the inner gulphs of the Adriatic, to which, in the last necessity, they might retreat for refuge. And first Galienus de Fontana, Simon de Glauconibus, and Antonius Calvus, or, as others have it, Adalburtus Falerius, Thomas Candiano, Comes Daulus, Consuls of Padua, by the command of their King and the desire of the citizens, laid the foundations of the new commonwealth, under good auspices, on the island of the Rialto, the highest and nearest to the mouth of the deep river now called the Brenta, in the year of Our Lord, as many writers assure us, four hundred and twenty-one, on the 25th day of March.”93
It is matter also of very great satisfaction to know that Venice was founded by good Christians: “La qual citade stada hedificada da veri e boni Christiani:” which information I found in 360 the MS. copy of the Zancarol Chronicle, in the library of St. Mark’s.
Finally the conjecture as to the origin of her name, recorded by Sansovino, will be accepted willingly by all who love Venice: “Fu interpretato da alcuni, che questa voce Venetia voglia dire VENI ETIAM, cio�, vieni ancora, e ancora, percioche quante volte verrai, sempre vedrai nuove cose, enuove bellezze.”
The best authorities agree in giving the year 697 as that of the election of the first doge, Paul Luke Anafeste. He was elected in a general meeting of the commonalty, tribunes, and clergy, at Heraclea, “divinis rebus procuratis,” as usual, in all serious work, in those times. His authority is thus defined by Sabellico, who was not likely to have exaggerated it:—“Penes quem decus omne imperii ac majestas esset: cui jus concilium cogendi quoties de republica aliquid referri oporteret; qui tribunos annuos in singulas insulas legeret, a quibus ad Ducem esset provocatio. C�terum, si quis dignitatem, ecclesiam, sacerdotumve cleri populique suffragio esset adeptus, ita demum id ratum haberetur si dux ipse auctor factus esset.” (Lib. I.) The last clause is very important, indicating the subjection of the ecclesiastical to the popular and ducal (or patrician) powers, which, throughout her career, was one of the most remarkable features in the policy of Venice. The appeal from the tribunes to the doge is also important; and the expression “decus omne imperii,” if of somewhat doubtful force, is at least as energetic as could have been expected from an historian under the influence of the Council of Ten.
The date of the decree which made the right of sitting in the grand council hereditary, is variously given; the Venetian historians themselves saying as little as they can about it. The thing was evidently not accomplished at once, several decrees following in successive years: the Council of Ten was established without any doubt in 1310, in consequence of the conspiracy of Tiepolo. 361 The Venetian verse, quoted by Mutinelli (Annali Urbani di Venezia, p. 153), is worth remembering.
“Del mille tresento e diese
A mezzo el mese delle ceriese
Bagiamonte passel ponte
E per esso fo fatto el Consegio di diese.”
The reader cannot do better than take 1297 as the date of the beginning of the change of government, and this will enable him exactly to divide the 1100 years from the election of the first doge into 600 of monarchy and 500 of aristocracy. The coincidence of the numbers is somewhat curious; 697 the date of the establishment of the government, 1297 of its change, and 1797 of its fall.
It is credibly reported to have been founded in the seventh century, and (with somewhat less of credibility) in a place where the Trojans, conducted by Antenor, had, after the destruction of Troy, built “un castello, chiamato prima Troja, poscia Olivolo, interpretato, luogo pieno.” It seems that St. Peter appeared in person to the Bishop of Heraclea, and commanded him to found in his honor, a church in that spot of the rising city on the Rialto: “ove avesse veduto una mandra di buoi e di pecore pascolare unitamente. Questa fu la prodigiosa origine della Chiesa di San Pietro, che poscia, o rinovata, o ristaurata, da Orso Participazio IV Vescovo Olivolense, divenne la Cattedrale della Nuova citta.” (Notizie Storiche delle Chiese e Monasteri di Venezia. Padua, 1758.) What there was so prodigious in oxen and sheep feeding together, we need St. Peter, I think, to tell us. The title of Bishop of Castello was first taken in 1091: St. Mark’s was not made the cathedral church till 1807. It may be thought hardly fair to conclude the small importance of the old St. Pietro di Castello from the appearance of the wretched modernisations of 1620. But these modernisations are spoken of as improvements; and I find no notice of peculiar beauties in the older building, either in the work above quoted, or by Sansovino; who only says that when it was destroyed by fire (as everything in Venice was, I think, about three times in a century), in 362 the reign of Vital Michele, it was rebuilt “with good thick walls, maintaining, for all that, the order of its arrangement taken from the Greek mode of building.” This does not seem the description of a very enthusiastic effort to rebuild a highly ornate cathedral. The present church is among the least interesting in Venice; a wooden bridge, something like that of Battersea on a small scale, connects its island, now almost deserted, with a wretched suburb of the city behind the arsenal; and a blank level of lifeless grass, rotted away in places rather than trodden, is extended before its mildewed fa�ade and solitary tower.
I may refer the reader to the eleventh chapter of the twenty-eighth book of Daru for some account of the restraints to which the Venetian clergy were subjected. I have not myself been able to devote any time to the examination of the original documents bearing on this matter, but the following extract from a letter of a friend, who will not at present permit me to give his name, but who is certainly better conversant with the records of the Venetian State than any other Englishman, will be of great value to the general reader:—
“In the year 1410, or perhaps at the close of the thirteenth century, churchmen were excluded from the Grand Council and declared ineligible to civil employment; and in the same year, 1410, the Council of Ten, with the Giunta, decreed that whenever in the state’s councils matters concerning ecclesiastical affairs were being treated, all the kinsfolk of Venetian beneficed clergymen were to be expelled; and, in the year 1434, the RELATIONS of churchmen were declared ineligible to the post of ambassador at Rome.
“The Venetians never gave possession of any see in their territories to bishops unless they had been proposed to the pope by the senate, which elected the patriarch, who was supposed, at the end of the sixteenth century, to be liable to examination by his Holiness, as an act of confirmation of installation; but of course, everything depended on the relative power at any given time of Rome and Venice: for instance, a few days after the accession of Julius II., in 1503, he requests the Signory, cap in 363 hand, to ALLOW him to confer the archbishopric of Zara on a dependant of his, one Cipico the Bishop of Famagosta. Six years later, when Venice was overwhelmed by the leaguers of Cambrai, that furious pope would assuredly have conferred Zara on Cipico WITHOUT asking leave. In 1608, the rich Camaldolite Abbey of Vangadizza, in the Polesine, fell vacant through the death of Lionardo Loredano, in whose family it had been since some while. The Venetian ambassador at Rome received the news on the night of the 28th December; and, on the morrow, requested Paul IV. not to dispose of this preferment until he heard from the senate. The pope talked of ‘poor cardinals’ and of his nephew, but made no positive reply; and, as Francesco Contarini was withdrawing, said to him: ‘My Lord ambassador, with this opportunity we will inform you that, to our very great regret, we understand that the chiefs of the Ten mean to turn sacristans; for they order the parish priests to close the church doors at the Ave Maria, and not to ring the bells at certain hours. This is precisely the sacristan’s office; we don’t know why their lordships, by printed edicts, which we have seen, choose to interfere in this matter. This is pure and mere ecclesiastical jurisdiction; and even, in case of any inconvenience arising, is there not the patriarch, who is at any rate your own; why not apply to him, who could remedy these irregularities? These are matters which cause us very notable displeasure; we say so that they may be written and known: it is decided by the councils and canons, and not uttered by us, that whosoever forms any resolve against the ecclesiastical liberty, cannot do so without incurring censure: and in order that Father Paul [Bacon’s correspondent] may not say hereafter, as he did in his past writings, that our predecessors assented either tacitly or by permission, we declare that we do not give our assent, nor do we approve it; nay, we blame it, and let this be announced in Venice, so that, for the rest, every one may take care of his own conscience. St. Thomas Becket, whose festival is celebrated this very day, suffered martyrdom for the ecclesiastical liberty; it is our duty likewise to support and defend it.’ Contarini says: ‘This remonstrance was delivered with some marks of anger, which induced me to tell him how the tribunal of the most excellent the Lords chiefs of the Ten is in our country supreme; that it does not do its 364 business unadvisedly, or condescend to unworthy matters; and that, therefore, should those Lords have come to any public declaration of their will, it must be attributed to orders anterior, and to immemorial custom and authority, recollecting that, on former occasions likewise, similar commissions were given to prevent divers incongruities; wherefore an upright intention, such as this, ought not to be taken in any other sense than its own, especially as the parishes of Venice were in her own gift,’ &c. &c. The pope persisted in bestowing the abbacy on his nephew, but the republic would not give possession, and a compromise was effected by its being conferred on the Venetian Matteo Priuli, who allowed the cardinal five thousand ducats per annum out of its revenues. A few years before this, this very same pope excommunicated the State, because she had imprisoned two churchmen for heinous crimes; the strife lasted for more than a year, and ended through the mediation of Henry IV., at whose suit the prisoners were delivered to the French ambassador, who made them over to a papal commissioner.
“In January, 1484, a tournament was in preparation on St. Mark’s Square: some murmurs had been heard about the distribution of the prizes having been pre-arranged, without regard to the ‘best man.’ One of the chiefs of the Ten was walking along Rialto on the 28th January, when a young priest, twenty-two years old, a sword-cutlers son, and a Bolognese, and one of Perugia, both men-at-arms under Robert Sansoverino, fell upon a clothier with drawn weapons. The chief of the Ten desired they might be seized, but at the moment the priest escaped; he was, however, subsequently retaken, and in that very evening hanged by torch-light between the columns with the two soldiers. Innocent VIII. was less powerful than Paul IV.; Venice weaker in 1605 than in 1484.
“* * * The exclusion from the Grand Council, whether at the end of the fourteenth or commencement of the following century, of the Venetian ecclesiastics, (as induced either by the republic’s acquisitions on the main land then made, and which, through the rich benefices they embraced, might have rendered an ambitious churchman as dangerous in the Grand Council as a victorious condottiere; or from dread of their allegiance being divided between the church and their country, it being acknowledged 365 that no man can serve two masters,) did not render them hostile to their fatherland, whose interests were, with very few exceptions, eagerly fathered by the Venetian prelates at Rome, who, in their turn, received all honor at Venice, where state receptions given to cardinals of the houses of Correr, Grimani, Cornaro, Pisani, Contarini, Zeno, Delfino, and others, vouch for the good understanding that existed between the ‘Papalists’ and their countrymen. The Cardinal Grimani was instrumental in detaching Julius II. from the league of Cambrai; the Cardinal Cornaro always aided the state to obtain anything required of Leo X.; and, both before and after their times, all Venetians that had a seat in the Sacred College were patriots rather than pluralists: I mean that they cared more for Venice than for their benefices, admitting thus the soundness of that policy which denied them admission into the Grand Council.”
To this interesting statement, I shall add, from the twenty-eighth book of Daru, two passages, well deserving consideration by us English in present days:
“Pour �tre parfaitement assur�e contre les envahissements de la puissance eccl�siastique, Venise commen�a par lui �ter tout pr�texte d’intervenir dans les affaires de l’Etat; elle resta invariablement fid�le au dogme. Jamais aucune des opinions nouvelles n’y prit la moindre faveur; jamais aucun h�r�siarque ne sortit de Venise. Les conciles, les disputes, les guerres de religion, se pass�rent sans qu’elle y prit jamais la moindre part. In�branlable dans sa foi, elle ne fut pas moins invariable dans son syst�me de tol�rance. Non seulement ses sujets de la religion grecque conserv�rent l’exercise de leur culte, leurs �v�ques et leurs pr�tres; mais les Protestantes, les Arm�niens, les Mahomitans, les Juifs, toutes les religions, toutes les sectes qui se trouvaient dans Venise, avaient des temples, et la s�pulture dans les �glises n’�tait point refusaux h�r�tiques. Une police vigilante s’appliquait avec le m�me soin �teindre les discordes, et emp�cher les fanatiques et les novateurs de troubler l’Etat.”
“Si on consid�re que c’est dans un temps opresque toutes les nations tremblaient devant la puissance pontificale, que les V�nitiens surent tenir leur clergdans la d�pendance, et braver souvent les censures eccl�siastiques et les interdits, sans encourir 366 jamais aucun reproche sur la puretde leur foi, on sera forcde reconna�tre que cette r�publique avait d�vancde loin les autres peuples dans cette partie de la science du gouvernement. La fameuse maxime, ‘Siamo veneziani, poi christiani,’ n’�tait qu’une formule �nergique qui ne prouvait point quils voulussent placer l’int�r�t de la religion apr�s celui de l’Etat, mais qui annon�ait leur invariable r�solution de ne pas souffrir qu’un pouvoir �tranger port�t atteinte aux droits de la r�publique.
“Dans toute la dur�e de son existence, an milieu des revers comme dans la prosp�ritcet in�branlable gouvernement ne fit qu’une seule fois des concessions la cour de Borne, et ce fut pour d�tacher le Pape Jules II. de la ligue de Cambrai.
“Jamais il ne se rel�cha du soin de tenir le clergdans une nullitabsolue relativement aux affaires politiques; on peut en juger par la conduite qu’il tint avec l’ordre religieux le plus redoutable et le plus accoutums’immiscer dans les secrets de l’Etat et dans les int�r�ts temporels.”
The main points, next stated, respecting the Jesuits are, that the decree which permitted their establishment in Venice required formal renewal every three years; that no Jesuit could stay in Venice more than three years; that the slightest disobedience to the authority of the government was instantly punished by imprisonment; that no Venetian could enter the order without express permission from the government; that the notaries were forbidden to sanction any testamentary disposal of property to the Jesuits; finally, that the heads of noble families were forbidden to permit their children to be educated in the Jesuits’ colleges, on pain of degradation from their rank.
Now, let it be observed that the enforcement of absolute exclusion of the clergy from the councils of the state, dates exactly from the period which I have marked for the commencement of the decline of the Venetian power. The Romanist is welcome to his advantage in this fact, if advantage it be; for I do not bring forward the conduct of the senate of Venice, as Daru does, by way of an example of the general science of government. The Venetians accomplished therein what we ridiculously call a separation of “Church and State” (as if the State were not, in all Christendom, necessarily also the Church94), but ought to call 367 a separation of lay and clerical officers. I do not point out this separation as subject of praise, but as the witness borne by the Venetians against the principles of the Papacy. If they were to blame, in yielding to their fear of the ambitious spirit of Rome so far as to deprive their councils of all religious element, what excuse are we to offer for the state, which, with Lords Spiritual of her own faith already in her senate, permits the polity of Rome to be represented by lay members? To have sacrificed religion to mistaken policy, or purchased security with ignominy, would have been no new thing in the world’s history; but to be at once impious and impolitic, and seek for danger through dishonor, was reserved for the English parliament of 1829.
I am glad to have this opportunity of referring to, and farther enforcing, the note on this subject which, not without deliberation, I appended to the “Seven Lamps;” and of adding to it the following passage, written by my father in the year 1839, and published in one of the journals of that year:—a passage remarkable as much for its intrinsic value, as for having stated, twelve years ago, truths to which the mind of England seems but now, and that slowly, awakening.
“We hear it said, that it cannot be merely the Roman religion that causes the difficulty [respecting Ireland], for we were once all Roman Catholics, and nations abroad of this faith are not as the Irish. It is totally overlooked, that when we were so, our government was despotic, and fit to cope with this dangerous religion, as most of the Continental governments yet are. In what Roman Catholic state, or in what age of Roman Catholic England, did we ever hear of such agitation as now exists in Ireland by evil men taking advantage of an anomalous state of things—Roman Catholic ignorance in the people, Protestant toleration in the government? We have yet to feel the tremendous difficulty in which Roman Catholic emancipation has involved us. Too late we discover that a Roman Catholic is wholly incapable of being safely connected with the British constitution, as it now exists, in any near relation. The present constitution is no longer fit for Catholics. It is a creature essentially Protestant, growing with the growth, and strengthening with the strength, of Protestantism. So entirely is Protestantism interwoven with the whole frame of our constitution and laws, that I 368 take my stand on this, against all agitators in existence, that the Roman religion is totally incompatible with the British constitution. We have, in trying to combine them, got into a maze of difficulties; we are the worse, and Ireland none the better. It is idle to talk of municipal reform or popular Lords Lieutenant. The mild sway of a constitutional monarchy is not strong enough for a Roman Catholic population. The stern soul of a Republican would not shrink from sending half the misguided population and all the priests into exile, and planting in their place an industrious Protestant people. But you cannot do this, and you cannot convert the Irish, nor by other means make them fit to wear the mild restraints of a Protestant Government. It was, moreover, a strange logic that begot the idea of admitting Catholics to administer any part of our laws or constitution. It was admitted by all that, by the very act of abandoning the Roman religion, we became a free and enlightened people. It was only by throwing off the yoke of that slavish religion that we attained to the freedom of thought which has advanced us in the scale of society. We are so much advanced by adopting and adhering to a reformed religion, that to prove our liberal and unprejudiced views, we throw down the barriers betwixt the two religions, of which the one is the acknowledged cause of light and knowledge, the other the cause of darkness and ignorance. We are so much altered to the better by leaving this people entirely, and giving them neither part nor lot amongst us, that it becomes proper to mingle again with them. We have found so much good in leaving them, that we deem it the best possible reason for returning to be among them. No fear of their Church again shaking us, with all our light and knowledge. It is true, the most enlightened nations fell under the spell of her enchantments, fell into total darkness and superstition; but no fear of us—we are too well informed! What miserable reasoning! infatuated presumption! I fear me, when the Roman religion rolled her clouds of darkness over the earlier ages, that she quenched as much light, and knowledge, and judgment as our modern Liberals have ever displayed. I do not expect a statesman to discuss the point of Transubstantiation betwixt Protestant and Catholic, nor to trace the narrow lines which divide Protestant sectarians from each other; but can any statesman 369 that shall have taken even a cursory glance at the face of Europe, hesitate a moment on the choice of the Protestant religion? If he unfortunately knew nothing of its being the true one in regard to our eternal interests, he is at least bound to see whether it be not the best for the worldly prosperity of a people. He may be but moderately imbued with pious zeal for the salvation of a kingdom, but at least he will be expected to weigh the comparative merits of religion, as of law or government; and blind, indeed, must he be if he does not discern that, in neglecting to cherish the Protestant faith, or in too easily yielding to any encroachments on it, he is foregoing the use of a state engine more powerful than all the laws which the uninspired legislators of the earth have ever promulgated, in promoting the happiness, the peace, prosperity, and the order, the industry, and the wealth, of a people; in forming every quality valuable or desirable in a subject or a citizen; in sustaining the public mind at that point of education and information that forms the best security for the state, and the best preservative for the freedom of a people, whether religious or political.”
|WALL VEIL DECORATION.
There having been three principal styles of architecture in Venice,—the Greek or Byzantine, the Gothic, and the Renaissance, it will be shown, in the sequel, that the Renaissance itself is divided into three correspondent families: Renaissance engrafted on Byzantine, which is earliest and best; Renaissance engrafted on Gothic, which is second, and second best; Renaissance on Renaissance, which is double darkness, and worst of all. The palaces in which Renaissance is engrafted on Byzantine are those noticed by Commynes: they are characterized by an ornamentation very closely resembling, and in some cases identical with, early Byzantine work; namely, groups of colored marble circles inclosed in interlacing bands. I have put on the opposite page one of these ornaments, from the Ca’ Trevisan, in which a most curious and delicate piece of inlaid design is introduced into a band which is almost exactly copied from the church of Theotocos at Constantinople, and correspondent with others in St. Mark’s. There is also much Byzantine feeling in the treatment 370 of the animals, especially in the two birds of the lower compartment, while the peculiar curves of the cinque cento leafage are visible in the leaves above. The dove, alighted, with the olive-branch plucked off, is opposed to the raven with restless expanded wings. Beneath are evidently the two sacrifices “of every clean fowl and of every clean beast.” The color is given with green and white marbles, the dove relieved on a ground of greyish green, and all is exquisitely finished.
In Plate I., , the upper figure is from the same palace (Ca’ Trevisan), and it is very interesting in its proportions. If we take five circles in geometrical proportion, each diameter being two-thirds of the diameter next above it, and arrange the circles so proportioned, in contact with each other, in the manner shown in the plate, we shall find that an increase quite imperceptible in the diameter of the circles in the angles, will enable us to inscribe the whole in a square. The lines so described will then run in the centre of the white bands. I cannot be certain that this is the actual construction of the Trevisan design, because it is on a high wall surface, where I could not get at its measurements; but I found this construction exactly coincide with the lines of my eye sketch. The lower figure in Plate I. is from the front of the Ca’ Dario, and probably struck the eye of Commynes in its first brightness. Salvatico, indeed, considers both the Ca’ Trevisan (which once belonged to Bianca Cappello) and the Ca’ Dario, as buildings of the sixteenth century. I defer the discussion of the question at present, but have, I believe, sufficient reason for assuming the Ca’ Dario to have been built about 1486, and the Ca’ Trevisan not much later.
Of these phantasms and grotesques, one of some general importance is that commonly called Ionic, of which the idea was taken (Vitruvius says) from a woman’s hair, curled; but its lateral processes look more like rams’ horns: be that as it may, it is a mere piece of agreeable extravagance, and if, instead of rams’ horns, you put ibex horns, or cows’ horns, or an ass’s head at once, you will have ibex orders, or ass orders, or any number of other orders, one for every head or horn. You may have heard 371 of another order, the Composite, which is Ionic and Corinthian mixed, and is one of the worst of ten thousand forms referable to the Corinthian as their head: it may be described as a spoiled Corinthian. And you may have also heard of another order, called Tuscan (which is no order at all, but a spoiled Doric): and of another called Roman Doric, which is Doric more spoiled, both which are simply among the most stupid variations ever invented upon forms already known. I find also in a French pamphlet upon architecture,95 as applied to shops and dwelling houses, a sixth order, the “Ordre Fran�ais,” at least as good as any of the three last, and to be hailed with acclamation, considering whence it comes, there being usually more tendency on the other side of the channel to the confusion of “orders” than their multiplication: but the reader will find in the end that there are in very deed only two orders, of which the Greek, Doric, and Corinthian are the first examples, and they not perfect, nor in anywise sufficiently representative of the vast families to which they belong; but being the first and the best known, they may properly be considered as the types of the rest. The essential distinctions of the two great orders he will find explained in �XXXV. and XXXVI. of Chap. XXVII., and in the passages there referred to; but I should rather desire that these passages might be read in the order in which they occur.
I have sketched above, in the First Chapter, the great events of architectural history in the simplest and fewest words I could; but this indraught of the Lombard energies upon the Byzantine rest, like a wild north wind descending into a space of rarified atmosphere, and encountered by an Arab simoom from the south, may well require from us some farther attention; for the differences in all these schools are more in the degrees of their impetuosity 372 and refinement (these qualities being, in most cases, in inverse ratio, yet much united by the Arabs) than in the style of the ornaments they employ. The same leaves, the same animals, the same arrangement, are used by Scandinavians, ancient Britons, Saxons, Normans, Lombards, Romans, Byzantines, and Arabians; all being alike descended through classic Greece from Egypt and Assyria, and some from Phœnicia. The belts which encompass the Assyrian bulls, in the hall of the British Museum, are the same as the belts of the ornaments found in Scandinavian tumuli; their method of ornamentation is the same as that of the gate of Mycen�, and of the Lombard pulpit of St. Ambrogio of Milan, and of the church of Theotocos at Constantinople; the essential differences among the great schools are their differences of temper and treatment, and science of expression; it is absurd to talk of Norman ornaments, and Lombard ornaments, and Byzantine ornaments, as formally distinguished; but there is irreconcileable separation between Arab temper, and Lombard temper, and Byzantine temper.
Now, as far as I have been able to compare the three schools, it appears to me that the Arab and Lombard are both distinguished from the Byzantine by their energy and love of excitement, but the Lombard stands alone in his love of jest: Neither an Arab nor Byzantine ever jests in his architecture; the Lombard has great difficulty in ever being thoroughly serious; thus they represent three conditions of humanity, one in perfect rest, the Byzantine, with exquisite perception of grace and dignity; the Arab, with the same perception of grace, but with a restless fever in his blood; the Lombard, equally energetic, but not burning himself away, capable of submitting to law, and of enjoying jest. But the Arabian feverishness infects even the Lombard in the South, showing itself, however, in endless invention, with a refreshing firmness and order directing the whole of it. The excitement is greatest in the earliest times, most of all shown in St. Michele of Pavia; and I am strongly disposed to connect much of its peculiar manifestations with the Lombard’s habits of eating and drinking, especially his carnivorousness. The Lombard of early times seems to have been exactly what a tiger would be, if you could give him love of a joke, vigorous imagination, strong sense of justice, fear of hell, knowledge of northern 373 mythology, a stone den, and a mallet and chisel; fancy him pacing up and down in the said den to digest his dinner, and striking on the wall, with a new fancy in his head, at every turn, and you have the Lombardic sculptor. As civilisation increases the supply of vegetables, and shortens that of wild beasts, the excitement diminishes; it is still strong in the thirteenth century at Lyons and Rouen; it dies away gradually in the later Gothic, and is quite extinct in the fifteenth century.
I think I shall best illustrate this general idea by simply copying the entries in my diary which were written when, after six months’ close study of Byzantine work in Venice, I came again to the Lombard work of Verona and Pavia. There are some other points alluded to in these entries not pertaining to the matter immediately in hand; but I have left them, as they will be of use hereafter.
“(Verona.) Comparing the arabesque and sculpture of the Duomo here with St. Mark’s, the first thing that strikes one is the low relief, the second, the greater motion and spirit, with infinitely less grace and science. With the Byzantine, however rude the cutting, every line is lovely, and the animals or men are placed in any attitudes which secure ornamental effect, sometimes impossible ones, always severe, restrained, or languid. With the Romanesque workmen all the figures show the effort (often successful) to express energetic action; hunting chiefly, much fighting, and both spirited; some of the dogs running capitally, straining to it, and the knights hitting hard, while yet the faces and drawing are in the last degree barbarous. At Venice all is graceful, fixed, or languid; the eastern torpor is in every line,—the mark of a school formed on severe traditions, and keeping to them, and never likely or desirous to rise beyond them, but with an exquisite sense of beauty, and much solemn religious faith.
“If the Greek outer archivolt of St. Mark’s is Byzantine, the law is somewhat broken by its busy domesticity; figures engaged in every trade, and in the preparation of viands of all kinds; a crowded kind of London Christmas scene, interleaved (literally) by the superb balls of leafage, unique in sculpture; but even this is strongly opposed to the wild war and chase passion of the Lombard. Farther, the Lombard building is as sharp, precise, 374 and accurate, as that of St. Mark’s is careless. The Byzantines seem to have been too lazy to put their stones together; and, in general, my first impression on coming to Verona, after four months in Venice, is of the exquisitely neat masonry and perfect feeling here; a style of Gothic formed by a combination of Lombard surface ornament with Pisan Gothic, than which nothing can possibly be more chaste, pure, or solemn.”
I have said much of the shafts of the entrance to the crypt of St. Zeno;96 the following note of the sculptures on the archivolt above them is to our present purpose:
“It is covered by very light but most effective bas-reliefs of jesting subject:—two cocks carrying on their shoulders a long staff to which a fox (?) is tied by the legs, hanging down between them: the strut of the foremost cock, lifting one leg at right angles to the other, is delicious. Then a stag hunt, with a centaur horseman drawing a bow; the arrow has gone clear through the stag’s throat, and is sticking there. Several capital hunts with dogs, with fruit trees between, and birds in them; the leaves, considering the early time, singularly well set, with the edges outwards, sharp, and deep cut: snails and frogs filling up the intervals, as if suspended in the air, with some saucy puppies on their hind legs, two or three nondescript beasts; and, finally, on the centre of one of the arches on the south side, an elephant and castle,—a very strange elephant, yet cut as if the carver had seen one.”
Observe this elephant and castle; we shall meet with him farther north.
“These sculptures of St. Zeno are, however, quite quiet and tame compared with those of St. Michele of Pavia, which are designed also in a somewhat gloomier mood; significative, as I think, of indigestion. (Note that they are much earlier than St. Zeno; of the seventh century at latest. There is more of nightmare, and less of wit in them.) Lord Lindsay has described them admirably, but has not said half enough; the state of mind represented by the west front is more that of a feverish dream, than resultant from any determined architectural purpose, or even from any definite love and delight in the grotesque. One capital is covered with a mass of grinning heads, other heads 375 grow out of two bodies, or out of and under feet; the creatures are all fighting, or devouring, or struggling which shall be uppermost, and yet in an ineffectual way, as if they would fight for ever, and come to no decision. Neither sphinxes nor centaurs did I notice, nor a single peacock (I believe peacocks to be purely Byzantine), but mermaids with two tails (the sculptor having perhaps seen double at the time), strange, large fish, apes, stags (bulls?), dogs, wolves, and horses, griffins, eagles, long-tailed birds (cocks?), hawks, and dragons, without end, or with a dozen of ends, as the case may be; smaller birds, with rabbits, and small nondescripts, filling the friezes. The actual leaf, which is used in the best Byzantine mouldings at Venice, occurs in parts of these Pavian designs. But the Lombard animals are all alive, and fiercely alive too, all impatience and spring: the Byzantine birds peck idly at the fruit, and the animals hardly touch it with their noses. The cinque cento birds in Venice hold it up daintily, like train-bearers; the birds in the earlier Gothic peck at it hungrily and naturally; but the Lombard beasts gripe at it like tigers, and tear it off with writhing lips and glaring eyes. They are exactly like Jip with the bit of geranium, worrying imaginary cats in it.”
The notice of the leaf in the above extract is important,—it is the vine-leaf; used constantly both by Byzantines and Lombards, but by the latter with especial frequency, though at this time they were hardly able to indicate what they meant. It forms the most remarkable generality of the St. Michele decoration; though, had it not luckily been carved on the fa�ade, twining round a stake, and with grapes, I should never have known what it was meant for, its general form being a succession of sharp lobes, with incised furrows to the point of each. But it is thrown about in endless change; four or five varieties of it might be found on every cluster of capitals: and not content with this, the Lombards hint the same form even in their griffin wings. They love the vine very heartily.
In St. Michele of Lucca we have perhaps the noblest instance in Italy of the Lombard spirit in its later refinement. It is some four centuries later than St. Michele of Pavia, and the method of workmanship is altogether different. In the Pavian church, nearly all the ornament is cut in a coarse sandstone, in 376 bold relief: a darker and harder stone (I think, not serpentine, but its surface is so disguised by the lustre of ages that I could not be certain) is used for the capitals of the western door, which are especially elaborate in their sculpture;—two devilish apes, or apish devils, I know not which, with bristly moustaches and edgy teeth, half-crouching, with their hands impertinently on their knees, ready for a spit or a spring if one goes near them; but all is pure bossy sculpture; there is no inlaying, except of some variegated tiles in the shape of saucers set concave (an ornament used also very gracefully in St. Jacopo of Bologna): and the whole surface of the church is enriched with the massy reliefs, well preserved everywhere above the reach of human animals, but utterly destroyed to some five or six feet from the ground; worn away into large cellular hollows and caverns, some almost deep enough to render the walls unsafe, entirely owing to the uses to which the recesses of the church are dedicated by the refined and high-minded Italians. But St. Michele of Lucca is wrought entirely in white marble and green serpentine; there is hardly any relieved sculpture except in the capitals of the shafts and cornices, and all the designs of wall ornament are inlaid with exquisite precision—white on dark ground; the ground being cut out and filled with serpentine, the figures left in solid marble. The designs of the Pavian church are encrusted on the walls; of the Lucchese, incorporated with them; small portions of real sculpture being introduced exactly where the eye, after its rest on the flatness of the wall, will take most delight in the piece of substantial form. The entire arrangement is perfect beyond all praise, and the morbid restlessness of the old designs is now appeased. Geometry seems to have acted as a febrifuge, for beautiful geometrical designs are introduced amidst the tumult of the hunt; and there is no more seeing double, nor ghastly monstrosity of conception; no more ending of everything in something else; no more disputing for spare legs among bewildered bodies; no more setting on of heads wrong side foremost. The fragments have come together: we are out of the Inferno with its weeping down the spine; we are in the fair hunting-fields of the Lucchese mountains (though they had their tears also),—with horse, and hound, and hawk; and merry blast of the trumpet.—Very strange creatures to be hunted, in all 377 truth; but still creatures with a single head, and that on their shoulders, which is exactly the last place in the Pavian church where a head is to be looked for.
My good friend Mr. Cockerell wonders, in one of his lectures, why I give so much praise to this “crazy front of Lucca.” But it is not crazy; not by any means. Altogether sober, in comparison with the early Lombard work, or with our Norman. Crazy in one sense it is: utterly neglected, to the breaking of its old stout heart; the venomous nights and salt frosts of the Maremma winters have their way with it—“Poor Tom’s a cold!” The weeds that feed on the marsh air, have twisted themselves into its crannies; the polished fragments of serpentine are spit and rent out of their cells, and lie in green ruins along its ledges; the salt sea winds have eaten away the fair shafting of its star window into a skeleton of crumbling rays. It cannot stand much longer; may Heaven only, in its benignity, preserve it from restoration, and the sands of the Serchio give it honorable grave.
In the “Seven Lamps,” Plate VI., I gave a faithful drawing of one of its upper arches, to which I must refer the reader; for there is a marked piece of character in the figure of the horseman on the left of it. And in making this reference, I would say a few words about those much abused plates of the “Seven Lamps."” They are black, they are overbitten, they are hastily drawn, they are coarse and disagreeable; how disagreeable to many readers I venture not to conceive. But their truth is carried to an extent never before attempted in architectural drawing. It does not in the least follow that because a drawing is delicate, or looks careful, it has been carefully drawn from the thing represented; in nine instances out of ten, careful and delicate drawings are made at home. It is not so easy as the reader, perhaps, imagines, to finish a drawing altogether on the spot, especially of details seventy feet from the ground; and any one who will try the position in which I have had to do some of my work—standing, namely, on a cornice or window sill, holding by one arm round a shaft, and hanging over the street (or canal, at Venice), with my sketch-book supported against the wall from which I was drawing, by my breast, so as to leave my right hand free—will not thenceforward wonder that shadows should be occasionally 378 carelessly laid in, or lines drawn with some unsteadiness. But, steady, or infirm, the sketches of which those plates in the “Seven Lamps” are fac-similes, were made from the architecture itself, and represent that architecture with its actual shadows at the time of day at which it was drawn, and with every fissure and line of it as they now exist; so that when I am speaking of some new point, which perhaps the drawing was not intended to illustrate, I can yet turn back to it with perfect certainty that if anything be found in it bearing on matters now in hand, I may depend upon it just as securely as if I had gone back to look again at the building.
It is necessary that my readers should understand this thoroughly, and I did not before sufficiently explain it; but I believe I can show them the use of this kind of truth, now that we are again concerned with this front of Lucca. They will find a drawing of the entire front in Gally Knight’s “Architecture of Italy.” It may serve to give them an idea of its general disposition, and it looks very careful and accurate; but every bit of the ornament on it is drawn out of the artist’s head. There is not one line of it that exists on the building. The reader will therefore, perhaps, think my ugly black plate of somewhat more value, upon the whole, in its rough veracity, than the other in its delicate fiction.97
|WALL VEIL DECORATION.|
As, however, I made a drawing of another part of the church somewhat more delicately, and as I do not choose that my favorite church should suffer in honor by my coarse work, I have had this, as far as might be, fac-similied by line engraving (Plate XXI.). It represents the southern side of the lower arcade of the west front; and may convey some idea of the exquisite finish and grace of the whole; but the old plate, in the “Seven Lamps,” 379 gives a nearer view of one of the upper arches, and a more faithful impression of the present aspect of the work, and especially of the seats of the horsemen; the limb straight, and well down on the stirrup (the warrior’s seat, observe, not the jockey’s), with a single pointed spur on the heel. The bit of the lower cornice under this arch I could not see, and therefore had not drawn; it was supplied from beneath another arch. I am afraid, however, the reader has lost the thread of my story while I have been recommending my veracity to him. I was insisting upon the healthy tone of this Lucca work as compared with the old spectral Lombard friezes. The apes of the Pavian church ride without stirrups, but all is in good order and harness here: civilisation had done its work; there was reaping of corn in the Val d’Arno, though rough hunting still upon its hills. But in the north, though a century or two later, we find the forests of the Rhone, and its rude limestone cotes, haunted by phantasms still (more meat-eating, then, I think). I do not know a more interesting group of cathedrals than that of Lyons, Vienne, and Valencia: a more interesting indeed, generally, than beautiful; but there is a row of niches on the west front of Lyons, and a course of panelled decoration about its doors, which is, without exception, the most exquisite piece of Northern Gothic I ever beheld, and with which I know nothing that is even comparable, except the work of the north transept of Rouen, described in the “Seven Lamps,” p. 159; work of about the same date, and exactly the same plan; quatrefoils filled with grotesques, but somewhat less finished in execution, and somewhat less wild in imagination. I wrote down hastily, and in their own course, the subjects of some of the quatrefoils of Lyons; of which I here give the reader the sequence:—
1. Elephant and castle; less graphic than the St. Zeno one.
2. A huge head walking on two legs, turned backwards, hoofed; the head has a horn behind, with drapery over it, which ends in another head.
3. A boar hunt; the boar under a tree, very spirited.
4. A bird putting its head between its legs to bite its own tail, which ends in a head.
5. A dragon with a human head set on the wrong way.
6. St. Peter awakened by the angel in prison; full of spirit, the prison picturesque, with a trefoiled arch, the angel eager, St. Peter startled, and full of motion.
7. St. Peter led out by the angel.
8. The miraculous draught of fishes; fish and all, in the small space.
9. A large leaf, with two snails rampant, coming out of nautilus shells, with grotesque faces, and eyes at the ends of their horns.
10. A man with an axe striking at a dog’s head, which comes out of a nautilus shell: the rim of the shell branches into a stem with two large leaves.
11. Martyrdom of St. Sebastian; his body very full of arrows.
12. Beasts coming to ark; Noah opening a kind of wicker cage.
13. Noah building the ark on shores.
14. A vine leaf with a dragon’s head and tail, the one biting the other.
15. A man riding a goat, catching a flying devil.
16. An eel or muraena growing into a bunch of flowers, which turns into two wings.
17. A sprig of hazel, with nuts, thrown all around the quatrefoils with a squirrel in centre, apparently attached to the tree only by its enormous tail, richly furrowed into hair, and nobly sweeping.
18. Four hares fastened together by the ears, galloping in a circle. Mingled with these grotesques are many sword and buckler combats, the bucklers being round and conical like a hat; I thought the first I noticed, carried by a man at full gallop on horseback, had been a small umbrella.
This list of subjects may sufficiently illustrate the feverish character of the Northern Energy; but influencing the treatment of the whole there is also the Northern love of what is called the Grotesque, a feeling which I find myself, for the present, quite incapable either of analysing or defining, though we all have a distinct idea attached to the word: I shall try, however, in the next volume.
I cannot pledge myself to this theory of the origin of the vaulting shaft, but the reader will find some interesting confirmations of it in Dahl’s work on the wooden churches of Norway. The inside view of the church of Borgund shows the timber construction of one shaft run up through a crossing architrave, and continued into the clerestory; while the church of Urnes is in the exact form of a basilica; but the wall above the arches is formed of planks, with a strong upright above each capital. The passage quoted from Stephen Eddy’s Life of Bishop Wilfrid, at p. 86 of Churton’s “Early English Church,” gives us one of the transformations or petrifactions of the wooden Saxon churches. “At Ripon he built a new church of polished stone, with columns variously ornamented, and porches.” Mr. Churton adds: “It was perhaps in bad imitation of the marble buildings he had seen in Italy, that he washed the walls of this original York Minster, and made them ‘whiter than snow.’”
The very cause which enabled the Venetians to possess themselves of the body of St. Mark, was the destruction of the church by the caliph for the sake of its marbles: the Arabs and Venetians, though bitter enemies, thus building on the same models; these in reverence for the destroyed church, and those with the very pieces of it. In the somewhat prolix account of the matter given in the Notizie Storiche (above quoted) the main points are, that “il Califa de’ Saraceni, per fabbricarsi un Palazzo presse di Babilonia, aveva ordinato che dalle Chiese d’ Cristiani si togliessero i piscelti marmi;” and that the Venetians, “videro sotto i loro occhi flagellarsi crudelmente un Cristiano per aver infranto un marmo.” I heartily wish that the same kind of punishment were enforced to this day, for the same sin.
I am glad here to re-assert opinions which it has grieved me to be suspected of having changed. The calmer tone of the 382 second volume of “Modern Painters,” as compared with the first, induced, I believe, this suspicion, very justifiably, in the minds of many of its readers. The difference resulted, however, from the simple fact, that the first was written in great haste and indignation, for a special purpose and time;—the second, after I had got engaged, almost unawares, in inquiries which could not be hastily nor indignantly pursued; my opinions remaining then, and remaining now, altogether unchanged on the subject which led me into the discussion. And that no farther doubt of them may be entertained by any who may think them worth questioning, I shall here, once for all, express them in the plainest and fewest words I can. I think that J. M. W. Turner is not only the greatest (professed) landscape painter who ever lived, but that he has in him as much as would have furnished all the rest with such power as they had; and that if we put Nicolo Poussin, Salvator, and our own Gainsborough out of the group, he would cut up into Claudes, Cuyps, Ruysdaels, and such others, by uncounted bunches. I hope this is plainly and strongly enough stated. And farther, I like his later pictures, up to the year 1845, the best; and believe that those persons who only like his early pictures do not, in fact, like him at all. They do not like that which is essentially his. They like that in which he resembles other men; which he had learned from Loutherbourg, Claude, or Wilson; that which is indeed his own, they do not care for. Not that there is not much of his own in his early works; they are all invaluable in their way; but those persons who can find no beauty in his strangest fantasy on the Academy walls, cannot distinguish the peculiarly Turneresque characters of the earlier pictures. And, therefore, I again state here, that I think his pictures painted between the years 1830 and 1845 his greatest; and that his entire power is best represented by such pictures as the Temeraire, the Sun of Venice going to Sea, and others, painted exactly at the time when the public and the press were together loudest in abuse of him.
I desire, however, the reader to observe that I said, above, professed landscape painters, among whom, perhaps, I should hardly have put Gainsborough. The landscape of the great figure painters is often majestic in the highest degree, and Tintoret’s especially shows exactly the same power and feeling as 383 Turner’s. If with Turner I were to rank the historical painters as landscapists, estimating rather the power they show, than the actual value of the landscape they produced, I should class those, whose landscapes I have studied, in some such order as this at the side of the page:—associating with the landscape of Perugino that of Francia and Angelico, and the other severe painters of religious subjects. I have put Turner and Tintoret side by side, not knowing which is, in landscape, the greater; I had nearly associated in the same manner the noble names of John Bellini and Albert Durer; but Bellini must be put first, for his profound religious peace yet not separated from the other, if but that we might remember his kindness to him in Venice; and it is well we should take note of it here, for it furnishes us with a most interesting confirmation of what was said in the text respecting the position of Bellini as the last of the religious painters of Venice. The following passage is quoted in Jackson’s “Essay on Wood-engraving,” from Albert Durer’s Diary:
“I have many good friends among the Italians who warn me not to eat or drink with their painters, of whom several are my enemies, and copy my picture in the church, and others of mine, wherever they can find them, and yet they blame them, and say they are not according to ancient art, and therefore not good. Giovanni Bellini, however, has praised me highly to several gentlemen, and wishes to have something of my doing: he called on me himself, and requested that I would paint a picture for him, for which, he said, he would pay me well. People are all surprised that I should be so much thought of by a person of his reputation: he is very old, but is still the best painter of them all.”
A choice little piece of description this, of the Renaissance painters, side by side with the good old Venetian, who was soon to leave them to their own ways. The Renaissance men are seen 384 in perfection, envying, stealing, and lying, but without wit enough to lie to purpose.
It is of the highest importance, in these days, that Romanism should be deprived of the miserable influence which its pomp and picturesqueness have given it over the weak sentimentalism of the English people; I call it a miserable influence, for of all motives to sympathy with the Church of Rome, this I unhesitatingly class as the basest: I can, in some measure, respect the other feelings which have been the beginnings of apostasy; I can respect the desire for unity which would reclaim the Romanist by love, and the distrust of his own heart which subjects the proselyte to priestly power; I say I can respect these feelings, though I cannot pardon unprincipled submission to them, nor enough wonder at the infinite fatuity of the unhappy persons whom they have betrayed:—Fatuity, self-inflicted, and stubborn in resistance to God’s Word and man’s reason!—to talk of the authority of the Church, as if the Church were anything else than the whole company of Christian men, or were ever spoken of in Scripture98 as other than a company to be taught and fed, not to teach and feed.—Fatuity! to talk of a separation of Church and State, as if a Christian state, and every officer therein, were not necessarily a part of the Church,99 and as if any state officer could do his duty without endeavoring to aid and promote religion, or any clerical officer do his duty without seeking for such aid and accepting it:—Fatuity! to seek for the unity of a living body of truth and trust in God, with a dead body of lies and trust in 385 wood, and thence to expect anything else than plague, and consumption by worms undying, for both. Blasphemy as well as fatuity! to ask for any better interpreter of God’s Word than God, or to expect knowledge of it in any other way than the plainly ordered way: if any man will do he shall know. But of all these fatuities, the basest is the being lured into the Romanist Church by the glitter of it, like larks into a trap by broken glass; to be blown into a change of religion by the whine of an organ-pipe; stitched into a new creed by gold threads on priests’ petticoats; jangled into a change of conscience by the chimes of a belfry. I know nothing in the shape of error so dark as this, no imbecility so absolute, no treachery so contemptible. I had hardly believed that it was a thing possible, though vague stories had been told me of the effect, on some minds, of mere scarlet and candles, until I came on this passage in Pugin’s “Remarks on articles in the Rambler”:—
“Those who have lived in want and privation are the best qualified to appreciate the blessings of plenty; thus, those who have been devout and sincere members of the separated portion of the English Church; who have prayed, and hoped, and loved, through all the poverty of the maimed rites which it has retained—to them does the realisation of all their longing desires appear truly ravishing. * * * Oh! then, what delight! what joy unspeakable! when one of the solemn piles is presented to them, in all its pristine life and glory!—the stoups are filled to the brim; the rood is raised on high; the screen glows with sacred imagery and rich device; the niches are filled; the altar is replaced, sustained by sculptured shafts, the relics of the saints repose beneath, the body of Our Lord is enshrined on its consecrated stone; the lamps of the sanctuary burn bright; the saintly portraitures in the glass windows shine all gloriously; and the albs hang in the oaken ambries, and the cope chests are filled with orphreyed baudekins; and pix and pax, and chrismatory are there, and thurible, and cross.”
One might have put this man under a pix, and left him, one should have thought; but he has been brought forward, and partly received, as an example of the effect of ceremonial splendor on the mind of a great architect. It is very necessary, therefore, that all those who have felt sorrow at this should know at once 386 that he is not a great architect, but one of the smallest possible or conceivable architects; and that by his own account and setting forth of himself. Hear him:—
“I believe, as regards architecture, few men have been so unfortunate as myself. I have passed my life in thinking of fine things, studying fine things, designing fine things, and realising very poor ones. I have never had the chance of producing a single fine ecclesiastical building, except my own church, where I am both paymaster and architect; but everything else, either for want of adequate funds or injudicious interference and control, or some other contingency, is more or less a failure. ***
“St. George’s was spoilt by the very instructions laid down by the committee, that it was to hold 3000 people on the floor at a limited price; in consequence, height, proportion, everything, was sacrificed to meet these conditions. Nottingham was spoilt by the style being restricted to lancet,—a period well suited to a Cistercian abbey in a secluded vale, but very unsuitable for the centre of a crowded town. ***
“Kirkham was spoilt through several hundred pounds being reduced on the original estimate; to effect this, which was a great sum in proportion to the entire cost, the area of the church was contracted, the walls lowered, tower and spire reduced, the thickness of walls diminished, and stone arches omitted.” (Remarks, &c., by A. Welby Pugin: Dolman, 1850.)
Is that so? Phidias can niche himself into the corner of a pediment, and Raffaelle expatiate within the circumference of a clay platter; but Pugin is inexpressible in less than a cathedral? Let his ineffableness be assured of this, once for all, that no difficulty or restraint ever happened to a man of real power, but his power was the more manifested in the contending with, or conquering it; and that there is no field so small, no cranny so contracted, but that a great spirit can house and manifest itself therein. The thunder that smites the Alp into dust, can gather itself into the width of a golden wire. Whatever greatness there was in you, had it been Buonarroti’s own, you had room enough for it in a single niche: you might have put the whole power of it into two feet cube of Caen stone. St. George’s was not high enough for want of money? But was it want of money that 387 made you put that blunt, overloaded, laborious ogee door into the side of it? Was it for lack of funds that you sunk the tracery of the parapet in its clumsy zigzags? Was it in parsimony that you buried its paltry pinnacles in that eruption of diseased crockets? or in pecuniary embarrassment that you set up the belfry foolscaps, with the mimicry of dormer windows, which nobody can ever reach nor look out of? Not so, but in mere incapability of better things.
I am sorry to have to speak thus of any living architect; and there is much in this man, if he were rightly estimated, which one might both regard and profit by. He has a most sincere love for his profession, a heartily honest enthusiasm for pixes and piscinas; and though he will never design so much as a pix or a piscina thoroughly well, yet better than most of the experimental architects of the day. Employ him by all means, but on small work. Expect no cathedrals from him; but no one, at present, can design a better finial. That is an exceedingly beautiful one over the western door of St. George’s; and there is some spirited impishness and switching of tails in the supporting figures at the imposts. Only do not allow his good designing of finials to be employed as an evidence in matters of divinity, nor thence deduce the incompatibility of Protestantism and art. I should have said all that I have said above, of artistical apostasy, if Giotto had been now living in Florence, and if art were still doing all that it did once for Rome. But the grossness of the error becomes incomprehensible as well as unpardonable, when we look to what level of degradation the human intellect has sunk at this instant in Italy. So far from Romanism now producing anything greater in art, it cannot even preserve what has been given to its keeping. I know no abuses of precious inheritance half so grievous, as the abuse of all that is best in art wherever the Romanist priesthood gets possession of it. It amounts to absolute infatuation. The noblest pieces of medi�val sculpture in North Italy, the two griffins at the central (west) door of the cathedral of Verona, were daily permitted to be brought into service, when I was there in the autumn of 1849, by a washerwoman living in the Piazza, who tied her clothes-lines to their beaks: and the shafts of St. Mark’s at Venice were used by a salesman of common caricatures to fasten his prints upon 388 (Compare Appendix 25); and this in the face of the continually passing priests: while the quantity of noble art annually destroyed in altarpieces by candle-droppings, or perishing by pure brutality of neglect, passes all estimate. I do not know, as I have repeatedly stated, how far the splendor of architecture, or other art, is compatible with the honesty and usefulness of religious service. The longer I live, the more I incline to severe judgment in this matter, and the less I can trust the sentiments excited by painted glass and colored tiles. But if there be indeed value in such things, our plain duty is to direct our strength against the superstition which has dishonored them; there are thousands who might possibly be benefited by them, to whom they are now merely an offence, owing to their association with idolatrous ceremonies. I have but this exhortation for all who love them,—not to regulate their creeds by their taste in colors, but to hold calmly to the right, at whatever present cost to their imaginative enjoyment; sure that they will one day find in heavenly truth a brighter charm than in earthly imagery, and striving to gather stones for the eternal building, whose walls shall be salvation, and whose gates shall be praise.
The reader may at first suppose this division of the attributes of buildings into action, voice, and beauty, to be the same division as Mr. Fergusson’s, now well known, of their merits, into technic, �sthetic and phonetic.
But there is no connection between the two systems; mine, indeed, does not profess to be a system, it is a mere arrangement of my subject, for the sake of order and convenience in its treatment: but, as far as it goes, it differs altogether from Mr. Fergusson’s in these two following respects:—
The action of a building, that is to say its standing or consistence, depends on its good construction; and the first part of the foregoing volume has been entirely occupied with the consideration of the constructive merit of buildings: but construction is not their only technical merit. There is as much of technical merit in their expression, or in their beauty, as in their construction. There is no more mechanical or technical 389 admirableness in the stroke of the painter who covers them with fresco, than in the dexterity of the mason who cements their stones: there is just as much of what is technical in their beauty, therefore, as in their construction; and, on the other hand, there is often just as much intellect shown in their construction as there is in either their expression or decoration. Now Mr. Fergusson means by his “Phonetic” division, whatever expresses intellect: my constructive division, therefore, includes part of his phonetic: and my expressive and decorative divisions include part of his technical.
Secondly, Mr. Fergusson tries to make the same divisions fit the subjects of art, and art itself; and therefore talks of technic, �sthetic, and phonetic, arts, (or, translating the Greek,) of artful arts, sensitive arts, and talkative arts; but I have nothing to do with any division of the arts, I have to deal only with the merits of buildings. As, however, I have been led into reference to Mr. Fergusson’s system, I would fain say a word or two to effect Mr. Fergusson’s extrication from it. I hope to find in him a noble ally, ready to join with me in war upon affectation, falsehood, and prejudice, of every kind: I have derived much instruction from his most interesting work, and I hope for much more from its continuation; but he must disentangle himself from his system, or he will be strangled by it; never was anything so ingeniously and hopelessly wrong throughout; the whole of it is founded on a confusion of the instruments of man with his capacities.
Mr. Fergusson would have us take—
“First, man’s muscular action or power.” (Technics.)
“Secondly, those developments of sense by which he does!! as much as by his muscles.” (�sthetics.)
“Lastly, his intellect, or to confine this more correctly to its external action, his power of speech!!!” (Phonetics.)
Granting this division of humanity correct, or sufficient, the writer then most curiously supposes that he may arrange the arts as if there were some belonging to each division of man,—never observing that every art must be governed by, and addressed to, one division, and executed by another; executed by the muscular, addressed to the sensitive or intellectual; and that, to be an art at all, it must have in it work of the one, and guidance from 390 the other. If, by any lucky accident, he had been led to arrange the arts, either by their objects, and the things to which they are addressed, or by their means, and the things by which they are executed, he would have discovered his mistake in an instant. As thus:—
These arts are addressed to the,—
or executed by,—
Indeed it is true that some of the arts are in a sort addressed to the muscles, surgery for instance; but this is not among Mr. Fergusson’s technic, but his politic, arts! and all the arts may, in a sort, be said to be performed by the senses, as the senses guide both muscles and intellect in their work: but they guide them as they receive information, or are standards of accuracy, but not as in themselves capable of action. Mr. Fergusson is, I believe, the first person who has told us of senses that act or do, they having been hitherto supposed only to sustain or perceive. The weight of error, however, rests just as much in the original division of man, as in the endeavor to fit the arts to it. The slight omission of the soul makes a considerable difference when it begins to influence the final results of the arrangement.
Mr. Fergusson calls morals and religion “Politick arts” (as if religion were an art at all! or as if both were not as necessary to individuals as to societies); and therefore, forming these into a body of arts by themselves, leaves the best of the arts to do without the soul and the moral feeling as rest they may. Hence “expression,” or “phonetics,” is of intellect only (as if men never expressed their feelings!); and then, strangest and worst of all, intellect is entirely resolved into talking! There can be no intellect but it must talk, and all talking must be intellectual. I believe people do sometimes talk without understanding; and I think the world would fare ill if they never understood without talking. The intellect is an entirely silent faculty, and has nothing to do with parts of speech any more than the moral part has. A man may feel and know things without expressing either the feeling or knowledge; and the talking is a muscular mode of 391 communicating the workings of the intellect or heart—muscular, whether it be by tongue or by sign, or by carving or writing, or by expression of feature; so that to divide a man into muscular and talking parts, is to divide him into body in general, and tongue in particular, the endless confusion resulting from which arrangement is only less marvellous in itself, than the resolution with which Mr. Fergusson has worked through it, and in spite of it, up to some very interesting and suggestive truths; although starting with a division of humanity which does not in the least raise it above the brute, for a rattlesnake has his muscular, �sthetic, and talking part as much as man, only he talks with his tail, and says, “I am angry with you, and should like to bite you,” more laconically and effectively than any phonetic biped could, were he so minded. And, in fact, the real difference between the brute and man is not so much that the one has fewer means of expression than the other, as that it has fewer thoughts to express, and that we do not understand its expressions. Animals can talk to one another intelligibly enough when they have anything to say, and their captains have words of command just as clear as ours, and better obeyed. We have indeed, in watching the efforts of an intelligent animal to talk to a human being, a melancholy sense of its dumbness; but the fault is still in its intelligence, more than in its tongue. It has not wit enough to systematise its cries or signs, and form them into language.
But there is no end to the fallacies and confusions of Mr. Fergusson’s arrangement. It is a perfect entanglement of gun-cotton, and explodes into vacuity wherever one holds a light to it. I shall leave him to do so with the rest of it for himself, and should perhaps have left it to his own handling altogether, but for the intemperateness of the spirit with which he has spoken on a subject perhaps of all others demanding gentleness and caution. No man could more earnestly have desired the changes lately introduced into the system of the University of Oxford than I did myself: no man can be more deeply sensible than I of grievous failures in the practical working even of the present system: but I believe that these failures may be almost without exception traced to one source, the want of evangelical, and the excess of rubrical religion among the tutors; together with such rustinesses and stiffnesses as necessarily attend the continual operation 392 of any intellectual machine. The fault is, at any rate, far less in the system than in the imperfection of its administration; and had it been otherwise, the terms in which Mr. Fergusson speaks of it are hardly decorous in one who can but be imperfectly acquainted with its working. They are sufficiently answered by the structure of the essay in which they occur; for if the high powers of mind which its author possesses had been subjected to the discipline of the schools, he could not have wasted his time on the development of a system which their simplest formulof logic would have shown him to be untenable.
Mr. Fergusson will, however, find it easier to overthrow his system than to replace it. Every man of science knows the difficulty of arranging a reasonable system of classification, in any subject, by any one group of characters; and that the best classifications are, in many of their branches, convenient rather than reasonable: so that, to any person who is really master of his subject, many different modes of classification will occur at different times; one of which he will use rather than another, according to the point which he has to investigate. I need only instance the three arrangements of minerals, by their external characters, and their positive or negative bases, of which the first is the most useful, the second the most natural, the third the most simple; and all in several ways unsatisfactory.
But when the subject becomes one which no single mind can grasp, and which embraces the whole range of human occupation and enquiry, the difficulties become as great, and the methods as various, as the uses to which the classification might be put; and Mr. Fergusson has entirely forgotten to inform us what is the object to which his arrangements are addressed. For observe: there is one kind of arrangement which is based on the rational connection of the sciences or arts with one another; an arrangement which maps them out like the rivers of some great country, and marks the points of their junction, and the direction and force of their united currents; and this without assigning to any one of them a superiority above another, but considering them all as necessary members of the noble unity of human science and effort. There is another kind of classification which contemplates the order of succession in which they might most usefully be presented to a single mind, so that the given mind should obtain 393 the most effective and available knowledge of them all: and, finally, the most usual classification contemplates the powers of mind which they each require for their pursuit, the objects to which they are addressed, or with which they are concerned; and assigns to each of them a rank superior or inferior, according to the nobility of the powers they require, or the grandeur of the subjects they contemplate.
Now, not only would it be necessary to adopt a different classification with respect to each of these great intentions, but it might be found so even to vary the order of the succession of sciences in the case of every several mind to which they were addressed; and that their rank would also vary with the power and specific character of the mind engaged upon them. I once heard a very profound mathematician remonstrate against the impropriety of Wordsworth’s receiving a pension from government, on the ground that he was “only a poet.” If the study of mathematics had always this narrowing effect upon the sympathies, the science itself would need to be deprived of the rank usually assigned to it; and there could be no doubt that, in the effect it had on the mind of this man, and of such others, it was a very contemptible science indeed. Hence, in estimating the real rank of any art or science, it is necessary for us to conceive it as it would be grasped by minds of every order. There are some arts and sciences which we underrate, because no one has risen to show us with what majesty they may be invested; and others which we overrate, because we are blinded to their general meanness by the magnificence which some one man has thrown around them: thus, philology, evidently the most contemptible of all the sciences, has been raised to unjust dignity by Johnson.100 And the subject is farther complicated by the question of usefulness; for many of the arts and sciences require considerable intellectual power for their pursuit, and yet become contemptible by the slightness of what they accomplish: metaphysics, for instance, exercising intelligence of a high order, yet useless to the mass of mankind, and, to its own masters, dangerous. Yet, as it has 394 become so by the want of the true intelligence which its inquiries need, and by substitution of vain subtleties in its stead, it may in future vindicate for itself a higher rank than a man of common sense usually concedes to it.
Nevertheless, the mere attempt at arrangement must be useful, even where it does nothing more than develop difficulties. Perhaps the greatest fault of men of learning is their so often supposing all other branches of science dependent upon or inferior to their own best beloved branch; and the greatest deficiency of men comparatively unlearned, their want of perception of the connection of the branches with each other. He who holds the tree only by the extremities, can perceive nothing but the separation of its sprays. It must always be desirable to prove to those the equality of rank, to these the closeness of sequence, of what they had falsely supposed subordinate or separate. And, after such candid admission of the co-equal dignity of the truly noble arts and sciences, we may be enabled more justly to estimate the inferiority of those which indeed seem intended for the occupation of inferior powers and narrower capacities. In Appendix 14, following, some suggestions will be found as to the principles on which classification might be based; but the arrangement of all the arts is certainly not a work which could with discretion be attempted in the Appendix to an essay on a branch of one of them.
The reader will probably understand this part of the subject better if he will take the trouble briefly to consider the actions of the mind and body of man in the sciences and arts, which give these latter the relations of rank usually attributed to them.
It was above observed (Appendix 13) that the arts were generally ranked according to the nobility of the powers they require, that is to say, the quantity of the being of man which they engaged or addressed. Now their rank is not a very important matter as regards each other, for there are few disputes more futile than that concerning the respective dignity of arts, all of which are necessary and honorable. But it is a very important matter as regards themselves; very important whether 395 they are practised with the devotion and regarded with the respect which are necessary or due to their perfection. It does not at all matter whether architecture or sculpture be the nobler art; but it matters much whether the thought is bestowed upon buildings, or the feeling is expressed in statues, which make either deserving of our admiration. It is foolish and insolent to imagine that the art which we ourselves practise is greater than any other; but it is wise to take care that in our own hands it is as noble as we can make it. Let us take some notice, therefore, in what degrees the faculties of man may be engaged in his several arts: we may consider the entire man as made up of body, soul, and intellect (Lord Lindsay, meaning the same thing, says inaccurately—sense, intellect, and spirit—forgetting that there is a moral sense as well as a bodily sense, and a spiritual body as well as a natural body, and so gets into some awkward confusion, though right in the main points). Then, taking the word soul as a short expression of the moral and responsible part of being, each of these three parts has a passive and active power. The body has senses and muscles; the soul, feeling and resolution; the intellect, understanding and imagination. The scheme may be put into tabular form, thus:—
|Passive or Receptive Part.||Active or Motive Part.|
In this scheme I consider memory a part of understanding, and conscience I leave out, as being the voice of God in the heart, inseparable from the system, yet not an essential part of it. The sense of beauty I consider a mixture of the Senses of the body and soul.
Now all these parts of the human system have a reciprocal action on one another, so that the true perfection of any of them is not possible without some relative perfection of the others, and yet any one of the parts of the system may be brought into a morbid development, inconsistent with the perfection of the others. Thus, in a healthy state, the acuteness of the senses quickens that of the feelings, and these latter quicken the understanding, 396 and then all the three quicken the imagination, and then all the four strengthen the resolution; while yet there is a danger, on the other hand, that the encouraged and morbid feeling may weaken or bias the understanding, or that the over shrewd and keen understanding may shorten the imagination, or that the understanding and imagination together may take place of, or undermine, the resolution, as in Hamlet. So in the mere bodily frame there is a delightful perfection of the senses, consistent with the utmost health of the muscular system, as in the quick sight and hearing of an active savage: another false delicacy of the senses, in the Sybarite, consequent on their over indulgence, until the doubled rose-leaf is painful; and this inconsistent with muscular perfection. Again; there is a perfection of muscular action consistent with exquisite sense, as in that of the fingers of a musician or of a painter, in which the muscles are guided by the slightest feeling of the strings, or of the pencil: another perfection of muscular action inconsistent with acuteness of sense, as in the effort of battle, in which a soldier does not perceive his wounds. So that it is never so much the question, what is the solitary perfection of a given part of the man, as what is its balanced perfection in relation to the whole of him: and again, the perfection of any single power is not merely to be valued by the mere rank of the power itself, but by the harmony which it indicates among the other powers. Thus, for instance, in an archer’s glance along his arrow, or a hunter’s raising of his rifle, there is a certain perfection of sense and finger which is the result of mere practice, of a simple bodily perfection; but there is a farther value in the habit which results from the resolution and intellect necessary to the forming of it: in the hunter’s raising of his rifle there is a quietness implying far more than mere practice,—implying courage, and habitual meeting of danger, and presence of mind, and many other such noble characters. So also in a musician’s way of laying finger on his instrument, or a painter’s handling of his pencil, there are many qualities expressive of the special sensibilities of each, operating on the production of the habit, besides the sensibility operating at the moment of action. So that there are three distinct stages of merit in what is commonly called mere bodily dexterity: the first, the dexterity given by practice, called command 397 of tools or of weapons; the second stage, the dexterity or grace given by character, as the gentleness of hand proceeding from modesty or tenderness of spirit, and the steadiness of it resulting from habitual patience coupled with decision, and the thousand other characters partially discernible, even in a man’s writing, much more in his general handiwork; and, thirdly, there is the perfection of action produced by the operation of present strength, feeling, or intelligence on instruments thus previously perfected, as the handling of a great painter is rendered more beautiful by his immediate care and feeling and love of his subject, or knowledge of it, and as physical strength is increased by strength of will and greatness of heart. Imagine, for instance, the difference in manner of fighting, and in actual muscular strength and endurance, between a common soldier, and a man in the circumstances of the Horatii, or of the temper of Leonidas.
Mere physical skill, therefore, the mere perfection and power of the body as an instrument, is manifested in three stages:
First, Bodily power by practice;
Secondly, Bodily power by moral habit;
Thirdly, Bodily power by immediate energy;
and the arts will be greater or less, c�teris paribus, according to the degrees of these dexterities which they admit. A smith’s work at his anvil admits little but the first; fencing, shooting, and riding, admit something of the second; while the fine arts admit (merely through the channel of the bodily dexterities) an expression almost of the whole man.
Nevertheless, though the higher arts admit this higher bodily perfection, they do not all require it in equal degrees, but can dispense with it more and more in proportion to their dignity. The arts whose chief element is bodily dexterity, may be classed together as arts of the third order, of which the highest will be those which admit most of the power of moral habit and energy, such as riding and the management of weapons; and the rest may be thrown together under the general title of handicrafts, of which it does not much matter which are the most honorable, but rather, which are the most necessary and least injurious to 398 health, which it is not our present business to examine. Men engaged in the practice of these are called artizans, as opposed to artists, who are concerned with the fine arts.
The next step in elevation of art is the addition of the intelligences which have no connection with bodily dexterity; as, for instance, in hunting, the knowledge of the habits of animals and their places of abode; in architecture, of mathematics; in painting, of harmonies of color; in music, of those of sound; all this pure science being joined with readiness of expedient in applying it, and with shrewdness in apprehension of difficulties, either present or probable.
It will often happen that intelligence of this kind is possessed without bodily dexterity, or the need of it; one man directing and another executing, as for the most part in architecture, war, and seamanship. And it is to be observed, also, that in proportion to the dignity of the art, the bodily dexterities needed even in its subordinate agents become less important, and are more and more replaced by intelligence; as in the steering of a ship, the bodily dexterity required is less than in shooting or fencing, but the intelligence far greater: and so in war, the mere swordsmanship and marksmanship of the troops are of small importance in comparison with their disposition, and right choice of the moment of action. So that arts of this second order must be estimated, not by the quantity of bodily dexterity they require, but by the quantity and dignity of the knowledge needed in their practice, and by the degree of subtlety needed in bringing such knowledge into play. War certainly stands first in the general mind, not only as the greatest of the arts which I have called of the second order, but as the greatest of all arts. It is not, however, easy to distinguish the respect paid to the Power, from that rendered to the Art of the soldier; the honor of victory being more dependent, in the vulgar mind, on its results, than its difficulties. I believe, however, that taking into consideration the greatness of the anxieties under which this art must be practised, the multitude of circumstances to be known and regarded in it, and the subtleties both of apprehension and stratagem constantly demanded by it, as well as the multiplicity of disturbing accidents and doubtful contingencies against which it must make provision on the instant, it must indeed rank as far 399 the first of the arts of the second order; and next to this great art of killing, medicine being much like war in its stratagems and watchings against its dark and subtle death-enemy.
Then the arts of the first order will be those in which the Imaginative part of the intellect and the Sensitive part of the soul are joined: as poetry, architecture, and painting; these forming a kind of cross, in their part of the scheme of the human being, with those of the second order, which wed the Intelligent part of the intellect and Resolute part of the soul. But the reader must feel more and more, at every step, the impossibility of classing the arts themselves, independently of the men by whom they are practised; and how an art, low in itself, may be made noble by the quantity of human strength and being which a great man will pour into it; and an art, great in itself, be made mean by the meanness of the mind occupied in it. I do not intend, when I call painting an art of the first, and war an art of the second, order, to class Dutch landscape painters with good soldiers; but I mean, that if from such a man as Napoleon we were to take away the honor of all that he had done in law and civil government, and to give him the reputation of his soldiership only, his name would be less, if justly weighed, than that of Buonarroti, himself a good soldier also, when need was. But I will not endeavor to pursue the inquiry, for I believe that of all the arts of the first order it would be found that all that a man has, or is, or can be, he can fully express in them, and give to any of them, and find it not enough.
The same rapid judgment which I wish to enable the reader to form of architecture, may in some sort also be formed of painting, owing to the close connection between execution and expression in the latter; as between structure and expression in the former. We ought to be able to tell good painting by a side glance as we pass along a gallery; and, until we can do so, we are not fit to pronounce judgment at all: not that I class this easily visible excellence of painting with the great expressional qualities which time and watchfulness only unfold. I have again and again insisted on the supremacy of these last and shall 400 always continue to do so. But I perceive a tendency among some of the more thoughtful critics of the day to forget that the business of a painter is to paint, and so altogether to despise those men, Veronese and Rubens for instance, who were painters, par excellence, and in whom the expressional qualities are subordinate. Now it is well, when we have strong moral or poetical feeling manifested in painting, to mark this as the best part of the work; but it is not well to consider as a thing of small account, the painter’s language in which that feeling is conveyed, for if that language be not good and lovely, the man may indeed be a just moralist or a great poet, but he is not a painter, and it was wrong of him to paint. He had much better put his morality into sermons, and his poetry into verse, than into a language of which he was not master. And this mastery of the language is that of which we should be cognizant by a glance of the eye; and if that be not found, it is wasted time to look farther: the man has mistaken his vocation, and his expression of himself will be cramped by his awkward efforts to do what he was not fit to do. On the other hand, if the man be a painter indeed, and have the gift of colors and lines, what is in him will come from his hand freely and faithfully; and the language itself is so difficult and so vast, that the mere possession of it argues the man is great, and that his works are worth reading. So that I have never yet seen the case in which this true artistical excellence, visible by the eye-glance, was not the index of some true expressional worth in the work. Neither have I ever seen a good expressional work without high artistical merit: and that this is ever denied is only owing to the narrow view which men are apt to take both of expression and of art; a narrowness consequent on their own especial practice and habits of thought. A man long trained to love the monk’s visions of Fra Angelico, turns in proud and ineffable disgust from the first work of Rubens which he encounters on his return across the Alps. But is he right in his indignation? He has forgotten, that while Angelico prayed and wept in his olive shade, there was different work doing in the dank fields of Flanders;—wild seas to be banked out; endless canals to be dug, and boundless marshes to be drained; hard ploughing and harrowing of the frosty clay; careful breeding of stout horses and fat cattle; close setting of brick 401 walls against cold winds and snow; much hardening of hands and gross stoutening of bodies in all this; gross jovialities of harvest homes and Christmas feasts, which were to be the reward of it; rough affections, and sluggish imagination; fleshy, substantial, ironshod humanities, but humanities still; humanities which God had his eye upon, and which won, perhaps, here and there, as much favor in his sight as the wasted aspects of the whispering monks of Florence (Heaven forbid it should not be so, since the most of us cannot be monks, but must be ploughmen and reapers still). And are we to suppose there is no nobility in Rubens’ masculine and universal sympathy with all this, and with his large human rendering of it, Gentleman though he was, by birth, and feeling, and education, and place; and, when he chose, lordly in conception also? He had his faults, perhaps great and lamentable faults, though more those of his time and his country than his own; he has neither cloister breeding nor boudoir breeding, and is very unfit to paint either in missals or annuals; but he has an open sky and wide-world breeding in him, that we may not be offended with, fit alike for king’s court, knight’s camp, or peasant’s cottage. On the other hand, a man trained here in England, in our Sir Joshua school, will not and cannot allow that there is any art at all in the technical work of Angelico. But he is just as wrong as the other. Fra Angelico is as true a master of the art necessary to his purposes, as Rubens was of that necessary for his. We have been taught in England to think there can be no virtue but in a loaded brush and rapid hand; but if we can shake our common sense free of such teaching, we shall understand that there is art also in the delicate point and in the hand which trembles as it moves; not because it is more liable to err, but because there is more danger in its error, and more at stake upon its precision. The art of Angelico, both as a colorist and a draughtsman, is consummate; so perfect and beautiful, that his work may be recognised at any distance by the rainbow-play and brilliancy of it: However closely it may be surrounded by other works of the same school, glowing with enamel and gold, Angelico’s may be told from them at a glance, like so many huge pieces of opal lying among common marbles. So again with Giotto; the Arena chapel is not only the most perfect expressional 402 work, it is the prettiest piece of wall decoration and fair color, in North Italy.
Now there is a correspondence of the same kind between the technical and expressional parts of architecture;—not a true or entire correspondence, so that when the expression is best, the building must be also best; but so much of correspondence as that good building is necessary to good expression, comes before it, and is to be primarily looked for: and the more, because the manner of building is capable of being determinately estimated and classed; but the expressional character not so: we can at once determine the true value of technical qualities, we can only approximate to the value of expressional qualities: and besides this, the looking for the technical qualities first will enable us to cast a large quantity of rubbish aside at once, and so to narrow the difficult field of inquiry into expression: we shall get rid of Chinese pagodas and Indian temples, and Renaissance Palladianisms, and Alhambra stucco and filigree, in one great rubbish heap; and shall not need to trouble ourselves about their expression, or anything else concerning them. Then taking the buildings which have been rightly put together, and which show common sense in their structure, we may look for their farther and higher excellences; but on those which are absurd in their first steps we need waste no time.
I could have wished, before writing this chapter, to have given more study to the difficult subject of the strength of shafts of different materials and structure; but I cannot enter into every inquiry which general criticism might suggest, and this I believe to be one which would have occupied the reader with less profit than many others: all that is necessary for him to note is, that the great increase of strength gained by a tubular form in iron shafts, of given solid contents, is no contradiction to the general principle stated in the text, that the strength of materials is most available when they are most concentrated. The strength of the tube is owing to certain properties of the arch formed by its sides, not to the dispersion of its materials: and the principle is altogether inapplicable to stone shafts. No one would think of 403 building a pillar of a succession of sandstone rings; however strong it might be, it would be still stronger filled up, and the substitution of such a pillar for a solid one of the same contents would lose too much space; for a stone pillar, even when solid, must be quite as thick as is either graceful or convenient, and in modern churches is often too thick as it is, hindering sight of the preacher, and checking the sound of his voice.
Some three months ago, and long after the writing of this passage, I met accidentally with Mr. Garbett’s elementary Treatise on Design. (Weale, 1850.) If I had cared about the reputation of originality, I should have been annoyed—and was so, at first, on finding Mr. Garbett’s illustrations of the subject exactly the same as mine, even to the choice of the elephant’s foot for the parallel of the Doric pillar: I even thought of omitting, or rewriting, great part of the chapter, but determined at last to let it stand. I am striving to speak plain truths on many simple and trite subjects, and I hope, therefore, that much of what I say has been said before, and am quite willing to give up all claim to originality in any reasoning or assertion whatsoever, if any one cares to dispute it. I desire the reader to accept what I say, not as mine, but as the truth, which may be all the world’s, if they look for it. If I remember rightly, Mr. Frank Howard promised at some discussion respecting the “Seven Lamps,” reported in the “Builder,” to pluck all my borrowed feathers off me; but I did not see the end of the discussion, and do not know to this day how many feathers I have left: at all events the elephant’s foot must belong to Mr. Garbett, though, strictly speaking, neither he nor I can be quite justified in using it, for an elephant in reality stands on tiptoe; and this is by no means the expression of a Doric shaft. As, however, I have been obliged to speak of this treatise of Mr. Garbett’s, and desire also to recommend it as of much interest and utility in its statements of fact, it is impossible for me to pass altogether without notice, as if unanswerable, several passages in which the writer has objected to views stated in the “Seven Lamps.” I should at any rate have noticed the passage quoted above, (Chap. 30th,) which runs 404 counter to the spirit of all I have ever written, though without referring to me; but the references to the “Seven Lamps” I should not have answered, unless I had desired, generally, to recommend the book, and partly also, because they may serve as examples of the kind of animadversion which the “Seven Lamps” had to sustain from architects, very generally; which examples being once answered, there will be little occasion for my referring in future to other criticisms of the kind.
The first reference to the “Seven Lamps” is in the second page, where Mr. Garbett asks a question, “Why are not convenience and stability enough to constitute a fine building?”—which I should have answered shortly by asking another, “Why we have been made men, and not bees nor termites:” but Mr. Garbett has given a very pretty, though partial, answer to it himself, in his 4th to 9th pages,—an answer which I heartily beg the reader to consider. But, in page 12, it is made a grave charge against me, that I use the words beauty and ornament interchangeably. I do so, and ever shall; and so, I believe, one day, will Mr. Garbett himself; but not while he continues to head his pages thus:—“Beauty not dependent on ornament, or superfluous features.” What right has he to assume that ornament, rightly so called, ever was, or can be, superfluous? I have said before, and repeatedly in other places, that the most beautiful things are the most useless; I never said superfluous. I said useless in the well-understood and usual sense, as meaning, inapplicable to the service of the body. Thus I called peacocks and lilies useless; meaning, that roast peacock was unwholesome (taking Juvenal’s word for it), and that dried lilies made bad hay: but I do not think peacocks superfluous birds, nor that the world could get on well without its lilies. Or, to look closer, I suppose the peacock’s blue eyes to be very useless to him; not dangerous indeed, as to their first master, but of small service, yet I do not think there is a superfluous eye in all his tail; and for lilies, though the great King of Israel was not “arrayed” like one of them, can Mr. Garbett tell us which are their superfluous leaves? Is there no Diogenes among lilies? none to be found content to drink dew, but out of silver? The fact is, I never met with the architect yet who did not think ornament meant a thing to be bought in a shop and pinned on, or left off, 405 at architectural toilets, as the fancy seized them, thinking little more than many women do of the other kind of ornament—the only true kind,—St. Peter’s kind,—“Not that outward adorning, but the inner—of the heart.” I do not mean that architects cannot conceive this better ornament, but they do not understand that it is the only ornament; that all architectural ornament is this, and nothing but this; that a noble building never has any extraneous or superfluous ornament; that all its parts are necessary to its loveliness, and that no single atom of them could be removed without harm to its life. You do not build a temple and then dress it.101 You create it in its loveliness, and leave it, as her Maker left Eve. Not unadorned, I believe, but so well adorned as to need no feather crowns. And I use the words ornament and beauty interchangeably, in order that architects may understand this: I assume that their building is to be a perfect creature capable of nothing less than it has, and needing nothing more. It may, indeed, receive additional decoration afterwards, exactly as a woman may gracefully put a bracelet on her arm, or set a flower in her hair: but that additional decoration is not the architecture. It is of curtains, pictures, statues, things that may be taken away from the building, and not hurt it. What has the architect to do with these? He has only to do with what is part of the building itself, that is to say, its own inherent beauty. And because Mr. Garbett does not understand or acknowledge this, he is led on from error to error; for we next find him endeavoring to define beauty as distinct from ornament, and saying that “Positive beauty may be produced by a studious collation of whatever will display design, order, and congruity.” (.) Is that so? There is a highly studious collation of whatever will display design, order, and congruity, in a skull, is there not?—yet small beauty. The nose is a decorative feature,—yet slightly necessary to beauty, it seems to me; now, at least, for I once thought I must be wrong in considering a skull disagreeable. I gave it fair trial: put one on my bed-room chimney-piece, and looked at it by sunrise every morning, 406 and by moonlight every night, and by all the best lights I could think of, for a month, in vain. I found it as ugly at last as I did at first. So, also, the hair is a decoration, and its natural curl is of little use; but can Mr. Garbett conceive a bald beauty; or does he prefer a wig, because that is a “studious collation” of whatever will produce design, order, and congruity? So the flush of the cheek is a decoration,—God’s painting of the temple of his spirit,—and the redness of the lip; and yet poor Viola thought it beauty truly blent; and I hold with her.
I have answered enough to this count.
The second point questioned is my assertion, “Ornament cannot be overcharged if it is good, and is always overcharged when it is bad.” To which Mr. Garbett objects in these terms: “I must contend, on the contrary, that the very best ornament may be overcharged by being misplaced.”
A short sentence with two mistakes in it.
First. Mr. Garbett cannot get rid of his unfortunate notion that ornament is a thing to be manufactured separately, and fastened on. He supposes that an ornament may be called good in itself, in the stonemason’s yard or in the ironmonger’s shop: Once for all, let him put this idea out of his head. We may say of a thing, considered separately, that it is a pretty thing; but before we can say it is a good ornament, we must know what it is to adorn, and how. As, for instance, a ring of gold is a pretty thing; it is a good ornament on a woman’s finger; not a good ornament hung through her under lip. A hollyhock, seven feet high, would be a good ornament for a cottage-garden; not a good ornament for a lady’s head-dress. Might not Mr. Garbett have seen this without my showing? and that, therefore, when I said “good” ornament, I said “well-placed” ornament, in one word, and that, also, when Mr. Garbett says “it may be overcharged by being misplaced,” he merely says it may be overcharged by being bad.
Secondly. But, granted that ornament were independent of its position, and might be pronounced good in a separate form, as books are good, or men are good.—Suppose I had written to a student in Oxford, “You cannot have too many books, if they be good books;” and he had answered me, “Yes, for if I have many, I have no place to put them in but the coal-cellar.” 407 Would that in anywise affect the general principle that he could not have too many books?
Or suppose he had written, “I must not have too many, they confuse my head.” I should have written back to him: “Don’t buy books to put in the coal-hole, nor read them if they confuse your head; you cannot have too many, if they be good: but if you are too lazy to take care of them, or too dull to profit by them, you are better without them.”
Exactly in the same tone, I repeat to Mr. Garbett, “You cannot have too much ornament, if it be good: but if you are too indolent to arrange it, or too dull to take advantage of it, assuredly you are better without it.”
The other points bearing on this question have already been stated in the close of the 21st chapter.
The third reference I have to answer, is to my repeated assertion, that the evidence of manual labor is one of the chief sources of value in ornament, (“Seven Lamps,” p. 49, “Modern Painters,” 1, Chap. III.,) to which objection is made in these terms: “We must here warn the reader against a remarkable error of Ruskin. The value of ornaments in architecture depends not in the slightest degree on the manual labor they contain. If it did, the finest ornaments ever executed would be the stone chains that hang before certain Indian rock-temples.” Is that so? Hear a parallel argument. “The value of the Cornish mines depends not in the slightest degree on the quantity of copper they contain. If it did, the most valuable things ever produced would be copper saucepans.” It is hardly worth my while to answer this; but, lest any of my readers should be confused by the objection, and as I hold the fact to be of great importance, I may re-state it for them with some explanation.
Observe, then, the appearance of labor, that is to say, the evidence of the past industry of man, is always, in the abstract, intensely delightful: man being meant to labor, it is delightful to see that he has labored, and to read the record of his active and worthy existence.
The evidence of labor becomes painful only when it is a sign of Evil greater, as Evil, than the labor is great, as Good. As, for instance, if a man has labored for an hour at what might have been done by another man in a moment, this evidence of 408 his labor is also evidence of his weakness; and this weakness is greater in rank of evil, than his industry is great in rank of good.
Again, if a man have labored at what was not worth accomplishing, the signs of his labor are the signs of his folly, and his folly dishonors his industry; we had rather he had been a wise man in rest than a fool in labor.
Again, if a man have labored without accomplishing anything, the signs of his labor are the signs of his disappointment; and we have more sorrow in sympathy with his failure, than pleasure in sympathy with his work.
Now, therefore, in ornament, whenever labor replaces what was better than labor, that is to say, skill and thought; wherever it substitutes itself for these, or negatives these by its existence, then it is positive evil. Copper is an evil when it alloys gold, or poisons food: not an evil, as copper; good in the form of pence, seriously objectionable when it occupies the room of guineas. Let Danacast it out of her lap, when the gold comes from heaven; but let the poor man gather it up carefully from the earth.
Farther, the evidence of labor is not only a good when added to other good, but the utter absence of it destroys good in human work. It is only good for God to create without toil; that which man can create without toil is worthless: machine ornaments are no ornaments at all. Consider this carefully, reader: I could illustrate it for you endlessly; but you feel it yourself every hour of your existence. And if you do not know that you feel it, take up, for a little time, the trade which of all manual trades has been most honored: be for once a carpenter. Make for yourself a table or a chair, and see if you ever thought any table or chair so delightful, and what strange beauty there will be in their crooked limbs.
I have not noticed any other animadversions on the “Seven Lamps” in Mr. Garbett’s volume; but if there be more, I must now leave it to his own consideration, whether he may not, as in the above instances, have made them incautiously: I may, perhaps, also be permitted to request other architects, who may happen to glance at the preceding pages, not immediately to condemn what may appear to them false in general principle. I 409 must often be found deficient in technical knowledge; I may often err in my statements respecting matters of practice or of special law. But I do not write thoughtlessly respecting principles; and my statements of these will generally be found worth reconnoitring before attacking. Architects, no doubt, fancy they have strong grounds for supposing me wrong when they seek to invalidate my assertions. Let me assure them, at least, that I mean to be their friend, although they may not immediately recognise me as such. If I could obtain the public ear, and the principles I have advocated were carried into general practice, porphyry and serpentine would be given to them instead of limestone and brick; instead of tavern and shop-fronts they would have to build goodly churches and noble dwelling-houses; and for every stunted Grecism and stucco Romanism, into which they are now forced to shape their palsied thoughts, and to whose crumbling plagiarisms they must trust their doubtful fame, they would be asked to raise whole streets of bold, and rich, and living architecture, with the certainty in their hearts of doing what was honorable to themselves, and good for all men.
Before I altogether leave the question of the influence of labor on architectural effect, the reader may expect from me a word or two respecting the subject which this year must be interesting to all—the applicability, namely, of glass and iron to architecture in general, as in some sort exemplified by the Crystal Palace.
It is thought by many that we shall forthwith have great part of our architecture in glass and iron, and that new forms of beauty will result from the studied employment of these materials.
It may be told in a few words how far this is possible; how far eternally impossible.
There are two means of delight in all productions of art—color and form.
The most vivid conditions of color attainable by human art are those of works in glass and enamel, but not the most perfect. The best and noblest coloring possible to art is that attained by the touch of the human hand on an opaque surface, upon which it can command any tint required, without subjection to alteration by fire or other mechanical means. No color is so noble as the color of a good painting on canvas or gesso.
This kind of color being, however, impossible, for the most part, in architecture, the next best is the scientific disposition of the natural colors of stones, which are far nobler than any abstract hues producible by human art.
The delight which we receive from glass painting is one altogether inferior, and in which we should degrade ourselves by over indulgence. Nevertheless, it is possible that we may raise some palaces like Aladdin’s with colored glass for jewels, which shall be new in the annals of human splendor, and good in their place; but not if they superseded nobler edifices.
Now, color is producible either on opaque or in transparent bodies: but form is only expressible, in its perfection, on opaque bodies, without lustre.
This law is imperative, universal, irrevocable. No perfect or refined form can be expressed except in opaque and lustreless matter. You cannot see the form of a jewel, nor, in any perfection, even of a cameo or bronze. You cannot perfectly see the form of a humming-bird, on account of its burnishing; but you can see the form of a swan perfectly. No noble work in form can ever, therefore, be produced in transparent or lustrous glass or enamel. All noble architecture depends for its majesty on its form: therefore you can never have any noble architecture in transparent or lustrous glass or enamel. Iron is, however, opaque; and both it and opaque enamel may, perhaps, be rendered quite lustreless; and, therefore, fit to receive noble form.
Let this be thoroughly done, and both the iron and enamel made fine in paste or grain, and you may have an architecture as noble as cast or struck architecture even can be: as noble, therefore, as coins can be, or common cast bronzes, and such other multiplicable things;102—eternally separated from all 411 good and great things by a gulph which not all the tubular bridges nor engineering of ten thousand nineteenth centuries cast into one great bronze-foreheaded century, will ever overpass one inch of. All art which is worth its room in this world, all art which is not a piece of blundering refuse, occupying the foot or two of earth which, if unencumbered by it, would have grown corn or violets, or some better thing, is art which proceeds from an individual mind, working through instruments which assist, but do not supersede, the muscular action of the human hand, upon the materials which most tenderly receive, and most securely retain, the impressions of such human labor.
And the value of every work of art is exactly in the ratio of the quantity of humanity which has been put into it, and legibly expressed upon it for ever:—
First, of thought and moral purpose;
Secondly, of technical skill;
Thirdly, of bodily industry.
The quantity of bodily industry which that Crystal Palace expresses is very great. So far it is good.
The quantity of thought it expresses is, I suppose, a single and very admirable thought of Mr. Paxton’s, probably not a bit brighter than thousands of thoughts which pass through his active and intelligent brain every hour,—that it might be possible to build a greenhouse larger than ever greenhouse was built before. This thought, and some very ordinary algebra, are as much as all that glass can represent of human intellect. “But one poor half-pennyworth of bread to all this intolerable deal of sack.” Alas!
“The earth hath bubbles as the water hath:
And this is of them.”
The depth of the cutting in some of the early English capitals is, indeed, part of a general system of attempts at exaggerated force of effect, like the “black touches” of second-rate 412 draughtsmen, which I have noticed as characteristic of nearly all northern work, associated with the love of the grotesque: but the main section of the capital is indeed a dripstone rolled round, as above described; and dripstone sections are continually found in northern work, where not only they cannot increase force of effect, but are entirely invisible except on close examination; as, for instance, under the uppermost range of stones of the foundation of Whitehall, or under the slope of the restored base of All Souls College, Oxford, under the level of the eye. I much doubt if any of the Fellows be aware of its existence.
Many readers will be surprised and displeased by the disparagement of the early English capital. That capital has, indeed, one character of considerable value; namely, the boldness with which it stops the mouldings which fall upon it, and severs them from the shaft, contrasting itself with the multiplicity of their vertical lines. Sparingly used, or seldom seen, it is thus, in its place, not unpleasing; and we English love it from association, it being always found in connection with our purest and loveliest Gothic arches, and never in multitudes large enough to satiate the eye with its form. The reader who sits in the Temple church every Sunday, and sees no architecture during the week but that of Chancery Lane, may most justifiably quarrel with me for what I have said of it. But if every house in Fleet Street or Chancery Lane were Gothic, and all had early English capitals, I would answer for his making peace with me in a fortnight.
Whose they are, is of little consequence to the reader or to me, and I have taken no pains to discover; their value being not in any evidence they bear respecting dates, but in their intrinsic merit as examples of composition. Two of them are within the gate, one on the top of it, and this latter is on the whole the best, though all are beautiful; uniting the intense northern energy in their figure sculpture with the most serene classical restraint in their outlines, and unaffected, but masculine simplicity of construction.
I have not put letters to the diagram of the lateral arch at page 154, in order not to interfere with the clearness of the curves, but 413 I shall always express the same points by the same letters, whenever I have to give measures of arches of this simple kind, so that the reader need never have the diagrams lettered at all. The base or span of the centre arch will always be a b; its vertex will always be V; the points of the cusps will be c c; p p will be the bases of perpendiculars let fall from V and c on a b; and d the base of a perpendicular from the point of the cusp to the arch line. Then a b will always be a span of the arch, V p its perpendicular height, V a the chord of its side arcs, d c the depth of its cusps, c c the horizontal interval between the cusps, a c the length of the chord of the lower arc of the cusp, V c the length of the chord of the upper arc of the cusp, (whether continuous or not,) and c p the length of a perpendicular from the point of the cusp on a b.
Of course we do not want all these measures for a single arch, but it often happens that some of them are attainable more easily than others; some are often unattainable altogether, and it is necessary therefore to have expressions for whichever we may be able to determine.
V p or V a, a b, and d c are always essential; then either a c and V c or c c and c p: when I have my choice, I always take a b, V p, d c, c c, and c p, but c p is not to be generally obtained so accurately as the cusp arcs.
The measures of the present arch are:
3 ,, 8
4 ,, 0
2 ,, 4½
2 ,, 0¼
0 ,, 3½
The shortness of the thicker ones at the angles is induced by the greater depth of the enlarged capitals: thus the 36th shaft is 10 ft. 4⅓ in. in circumference at its base, and 10 ,, 0½103 in circumference 414 under the fillet of its capital; but it is only 6 ,, 1¾ high, while the minor intermediate shafts, of which the thickest is 7 ,, 8 round at the base, and 7 ,, 4 under capital, are yet on the average 7 ,, 7 high. The angle shaft towards the sea (the 18th) is nearly of the proportions of the 36th, and there are three others, the 15th, 24th, and 26th, which are thicker than the rest, though not so thick as the angle ones. The 24th and 26th have both party walls to bear, and I imagine the 15th must in old time have carried another, reaching across what is now the Sala del Gran Consiglio.
They measure respectively round at the base,
8 ,, 2
9 ,, 6½
8 ,, 0½
The other pillars towards the sea, and those to the 27th inclusive of the Piazzetta, are all seven feet round at the base, and then there is a most curious and delicate crescendo of circumference to the 36th, thus:
7 ,, 3
7 ,, 4
7 ,, 6
7 ,, 7
7 ,, 5
7 ,, 6
7 ,, 8
7 ,, 8
10 ,, 4⅓
The shafts of the upper arcade, which are above these thicker columns, are also thicker than their companions, measuring on the average, 4 ,, 8½ in circumference, while those of the sea fa�ade, except the 29th, average 4 ,, 7½ in circumference. The 29th, which is of course above the 15th of the lower story, is 5 ,, 5 in circumference, which little piece of evidence will be of no small value to us by-and-by. The 35th carries the angle of the palace, and is 6 ,, 0 round. The 47th, which comes above the 24th and carries the party wall of the Sala del Gran Consiglio, is strengthened by a pilaster; and the 51st, which comes over the 26th, is 5 ,, 4½ round, or nearly the same as the 29th; it carries the party wall of the Sala del Scrutinio; a small room containing part of 415 St. Mark’s library, coming between the two saloons; a room which, in remembrances of the help I have received in all my inquiries from the kindness and intelligence of its usual occupant, I shall never easily distinguish otherwise than as “Mr. Lorenzi’s.”104
I may as well connect with these notes respecting the arcades of the Ducal Palace, those which refer to Plate XIV., which represents one of its spandrils. Every spandril of the lower arcade was intended to have been occupied by an ornament resembling the one given in that plate. The mass of the building being of Istrian stone, a depth of about two inches is left within the mouldings of the arches, rough hewn, to receive the slabs of fine marble composing the patterns. I cannot say whether the design was ever completed, or the marbles have been since removed, but there are now only two spandrils retaining their fillings, and vestiges of them in a third. The two complete spandrils are on the sea fa�ade, above the 3rd and 10th capitals (vide method of numbering, Chap. I., page 30); that is to say, connecting the 2nd arch with the 3rd, and the 9th with the 10th. The latter is the one given in Plate XIV. The white portions of it are all white marble, the dental band surrounding the circle is in coarse sugary marble, which I believe to be Greek, and never found in Venice to my recollection, except in work at least anterior to the fifteenth century. The shaded fields charged with the three white triangles are of red Verona marble; the inner disc is green serpentine, and the dark pieces of the radiating leaves are grey marble. The three triangles are equilateral. The two uppermost are 1 ,, 5 each side, and the lower 1 ,, 2.
The extreme diameter of the circle is 3 ,, 10½; its field is slightly raised above the red marbles, as shown in the section at A, on the left. A a is part of the red marble field; a b the section of the dentil moulding let into it; b c the entire breadth of the rayed zone, represented on the other side of the spandril by the line C f; c d is the white marble band let in, with the 416 dogtooth on the face of it; b c is 7¾ inches across; c d 3¾; and at B are given two joints of the dentil (mentioned above, in the chapter on dentils, as unique in Venice) of their actual size. At C is given one of the inlaid leaves; its measure being (in inches) C f 7¾; C h ¾; f g ¾; f e 4¾, the base of the smaller leaves being of course f e - f g = 4. The pattern which occupies the other spandril is similar, except that the field b c, instead of the intersecting arcs, has only triangles of grey marble, arranged like rays, with their bases towards the centre. There being twenty round the circle, the reader can of course draw them for himself; they being isosceles, touching the dentil with their points, and being in contact at their bases: it has lost its central boss. The marbles are, in both, covered with a rusty coating, through which it is excessively difficult to distinguish the colors (another proof of the age of the ornament). But the white marbles are certainly, in places (except only the sugary dentil), veined with purple, and the grey seem warmed with green.
A trace of another of these ornaments may be seen over the 21st capital; but I doubt if the marbles have ever been inserted in the other spandrils, and their want of ornament occasions the slight meagreness in the effect of the lower story, which is almost the only fault of the building.
This decoration by discs, or shield-like ornaments, is a marked characteristic of Venetian architecture in its earlier ages, and is carried into later times by the Byzantine Renaissance, already distinguished from the more corrupt forms of Renaissance, in Appendix 6. Of the disc decoration, so borrowed, we have already an example in Plate I. In Plate VII. we have an earlier condition of it, one of the discs being there sculptured, the others surrounded by sculptured bands: here we have, on the Ducal Palace, the most characteristic of all, because likest to the shield, which was probably the origin of the same ornament among the Arabs, and assuredly among the Greeks. In Mr. Donaldson’s restoration of the gate of the treasury of Atreus, this ornament is conjecturally employed, and it occurs constantly on the Arabian buildings of Cairo.
I have long been desirous of devoting some time to an enquiry into the effect of natural scenery upon the pagan, and especially the Greek, mind, and knowing that my friend, Mr. C. Newton, had devoted much thought to the elucidation of the figurative and symbolic language of ancient art, I asked him to draw up for me a few notes of the facts which he considered most interesting, as illustrative of its methods of representing nature. I suggested to him, for an initiative subject, the representation of water; because this is one of the natural objects whose portraiture may most easily be made a test of treatment, for it is one of universal interest, and of more closely similar aspect in all parts of the world than any other. Waves, currents, and eddies are much liker each other, everywhere, than either land or vegetation. Rivers and lakes, indeed, differ widely from the sea, and the clear Pacific from the angry Northern ocean; but the Nile is liker the Danube than a knot of Nubian palms is to a glade of the Black Forest; and the Mediterranean is liker the Atlantic than the Campo Felice is like Solway moss.
Mr. Newton has accordingly most kindly furnished me with the following data. One or two of the types which he describes have been already noticed in the main text; but it is well that the reader should again contemplate them in the position which they here occupy in a general system. I recommend his special attention to Mr. Newton’s definitions of the terms “figurative” and “symbolic,” as applied to art, in the beginning of the paper.
In ancient art, that is to say, in the art of the Egyptian, Assyrian, Greek, and Roman races, water is, for the most part, represented conventionally rather than naturally.
By natural representation is here meant as just and perfect an imitation of nature as the technical means of art will allow: on the other hand, representation is said to be conventional, either when a confessedly inadequate imitation is accepted in default of a better, or when imitation is not attempted at all, and 418 it is agreed that other modes of representation, those by figures or by symbols, shall be its substitute and equivalent.
In figurative representation there is always impersonation; the sensible form, borrowed by the artist from organic life, is conceived to be actuated by a will, and invested with such mental attributes as constitute personality.
The sensible symbol, whether borrowed from organic or from inorganic nature, is not a personification at all, but the conventional sign or equivalent of some object or notion, to which it may perhaps bear no visible resemblance, but with which the intellect or the imagination has in some way associated it.
For instance, a city may be figuratively represented as a woman crowned with towers; here the artist has selected for the expression of his idea a human form animated with a will and motives of action analogous to those of humanity generally. Or, again, as in Greek art, a bull may be a figurative representation of a river, and, in the conception of the artist, this animal form may contain, and be ennobled by, a human mind.
This is still impersonation; the form only in which personality is embodied is changed.
Again, a dolphin may be used as a symbol of the sea; a man ploughing with two oxen is a well-known symbol of a Roman colony. In neither of these instances is there impersonation. The dolphin is not invested, like the figure of Neptune, with any of the attributes of the human mind; it has animal instincts, but no will; it represents to us its native element, only as a part may be taken for a whole.
Again, the man ploughing does not, like the turreted female figure, personify, but rather typifies the town, standing as the visible representation of a real event, its first foundation. To our mental perceptions, as to our bodily senses, this figure seems no more than man; there is no blending of his personal nature with the impersonal nature of the colony, no transfer of attributes from the one to the other.
Though the conventionally imitative, the figurative, and the symbolic, are three distinct kinds of representation, they are constantly combined in one composition, as we shall see in the following examples, cited from the art of successive races in chronological order.
In Egyptian art the general representation of water is the conventionally imitative. In the British Museum are two frescoes from tombs at Thebes, Nos. 177 and 170: the subject of the first of these is an oblong pond, ground-plan and elevation being strangely confused in the design. In this pond water is represented by parallel zigzag lines, in which fish are swimming about. On the surface are birds and lotos flowers; the herbage at the edge of the pond is represented by a border of symmetrical fan-shaped flowers; the field beyond by rows of trees, arranged round the sides of the pond at right angles to each other, and in defiance of all laws of perspective.
In the fresco, No. 170, we have the representation of a river with papyrus on its bank. Here the water is rendered by zigzag lines arranged vertically and in parallel lines, so as to resemble herring-bone masonry, thus. There are fish in this fresco as in the preceding, and in both each fish is drawn very distinctly, not as it would appear to the eye viewed through water. The mode of representing this element in Egyptian painting is further abbreviated in their hieroglyphic writing, where the sign of water is a zigzag line; this line is, so to speak, a picture of water written in short hand. In the Egyptian Pantheon there was but one aquatic deity, the god of the Nile; his type is, therefore, the only figurative representation of water in Egyptian art. (Birch, “Gallery of British Museum Antiquities,” Pl. 13.) In Assyrian sculpture we have very curious conventionally imitative representations of water. On several of the friezes from Nimroud and Khorsabad, men are seen crossing a river in boats, or in skins, accompanied by horses swimming (see Layard, ii. p. 381). In these scenes water is represented by masses of wavy lines somewhat resembling tresses of hair, and terminating in curls or volutes; these wavy lines express the general character of a deep and rapid current, like that of the Tigris. Fish are but sparingly introduced, the idea of surface being sufficiently expressed by the floating figures and boats. In the representation of these there is the same want of perspective as in the Egyptian fresco which we have just cited.
In the Assyrian Pantheon one aquatic deity has been discovered, the god Dagon, whose human form terminates in a fish’s 420 tail. Of the character and attributes of this deity we know but little.
The more abbreviated mode of representing water, the zigzag line, occurs on the large silver coins with the type of a city or a war galley (see Layard, ii. p. 386). These coins were probably struck in Assyria, not long after the conquest of it by the Persians.
In Greek art the modes of representing water are far more varied. Two conventional imitations, the wave moulding and the M�ander, are well known. Both are probably of the most remote antiquity; both have been largely employed as an architectural ornament, and subordinately as a decoration of vases, costume, furniture and implements. In the wave moulding we have a conventional representation of the small crisping waves which break upon the shore of the Mediterranean, the sea of the Greeks.
Their regular succession, and equality of force and volume, are generalised in this moulding, while the minuter varieties which distinguish one wave from another are merged in the general type. The character of ocean waves is to be “for ever changing, yet the same for ever;” it is this eternity of recurrence which the early artist has expressed in this hieroglyphic.
With this profile representation of water may be compared the sculptured waves out of which the head and arms of Hyperion are rising in the pediment of the Parthenon (Elgin Room, No. (65) 91, Museum Marbles, vi. pl. 1). Phidias has represented these waves like a mass of overlapping tiles, thus generalising their rippling movement. In the M�ander pattern the graceful curves of nature are represented by angles, as in the Egyptian hieroglyphic of water: so again the earliest representation of the labyrinth on the coins of the Cnossus is rectangular; on later coins we find the curvilinear form introduced.
In the language of Greek mythography, the wave pattern and the M�ander are sometimes used singly for the idea of water, but more frequently combined with figurative representation. The number of aquatic deities in the Greek Pantheon led to the invention of a great variety of beautiful types. Some of these are very well known. Everybody is familiar with the general form of Poseidon (Neptune), the Nereids, the Nymphs and River 421 Gods; but the modes in which these types were combined with conventional imitation and with accessory symbols deserve careful study, if we would appreciate the surpassing richness and beauty of the language of art formed out of these elements.
This class of representations may be divided into two principal groups, those relating to the sea, and those relating to fresh water.
The power of the ocean and the great features of marine scenery are embodied in such types as Poseidon, Nereus and the Nereids, that is to say, in human forms moving through the liquid element in chariots, or on the back of dolphins, or who combine the human form with that of the fish-like Tritons. The sea-monsters who draw these chariots are called Hippocamps, being composed of the tail of a fish and the fore-part of a horse, the legs terminating in web-feet: this union seems to express speed and power under perfect control, such as would characterise the movements of sea deities. A few examples have been here selected to show how these types were combined with symbols and conventional imitation.
In the British Museum is a vase, No. 1257, engraved (Lenormant et De Witte, Mon. C�ram., i. pl. 27), of which the subject is, Europa crossing the sea on the back of the bull. In this design the sea is represented by a variety of expedients. First, the swimming action of the bull suggests the idea of the liquid medium through which he moves. Behind him stands Nereus, his staff held perpendicularly in his hand; the top of his staff comes nearly to the level of the bull’s back, and is probably meant as the measure of the whole depth of the sea. Towards the surface line thus indicated a dolphin is rising; in the middle depth is another dolphin; below a shrimp and a cuttle-fish, and the bottom is indicated by a jagged line of rocks, on which are two echini.
On a mosaic found at Oudnah in Algeria (Revue Arch�ol., iii. pl. 50), we have a representation of the sea, remarkable for the fulness of details with which it is made out.
This, though of the Roman period, is so thoroughly Greek in feeling, that it may be cited as an example of the class of mythography now under consideration. The mosaic lines the floor and sides of a bath, and, as was commonly the case in the baths 422 of the ancients, serves as a figurative representation of the water it contained.
On the sides are hippocamps, figures riding on dolphins, and islands on which fishermen stand; on the floor are fish, crabs, and shrimps.
These, as in the vase with Europa, indicate the bottom of the sea: the same symbols of the submarine world appear on many other ancient designs. Thus in vase pictures, when Poseidon upheaves the island of Cos to overwhelm the Giant Polydotes, the island is represented as an immense mass of rock; the parts which have been under water are indicated by a dolphin, a shrimp, and a sepia, the parts above the water by a goat and a serpent (Lenormant et De Witte, i., tav. 5).
Sometimes these symbols occur singly in Greek art, as the types, for instance, of coins. In such cases they cannot be interpreted without being viewed in relation to the whole context of mythography to which they belong. If we find, for example, on one coin of Tarentum a shell, on another a dolphin, on a third a figure of Tarus, the mythic founder of the town, riding on a dolphin in the midst of the waves, and this latter group expresses the idea of the town itself and its position on the coast, then we know the two former types to be but portions of the greater design, having been detached from it, as we may detach words from sentences.
The study of the fuller and clearer examples, such as we have cited above, enables us to explain many more compendious forms of expression. We have, for instance, on coins several representations of ancient harbors.
Of these, the earliest occurs on the coins of Zancle, the modern Messina in Sicily. The ancients likened the form of this harbor to a sickle, and on the coins of the town we find a curved object, within the area of which is a dolphin. On this curve are four square elevations placed at equal distances. It has been conjectured that these projections are either towers or the large stones to which galleys were moored still to be seen in ancient harbors (see Burgon, Numismatic Chronicle, iii. p. 40). With this archaic representation of a harbor may be compared some examples of the Roman period. On a coin of Sept. Severus struck at Corinth (Millingen, Sylloge of Uned. Coins, 1837, p. 57, Pl. II., 423 No. 30) we have a female figure standing on a rock between two recumbent male figures holding rudders. From an arch at the foot of the rock a stream is flowing: this is a representation of the rock of the Acropolis of Corinth: the female figure is a statue of Aphrodite, whose temple surmounted the rock. The stream is the fountain Pirene. The two recumbent figures are impersonations of the two harbors, Lechreum and Cenchreia, between which Corinth was situated. Philostratus (Icon. ii., c. 16) describes a similar picture of the Isthmus between the two harbors, one of which was in the form of a youth, the other of a nymph.
On another coin of Corinth we have one of the harbors in a semicircular form, the whole arc being marked with small equal divisions, to denote the archways under which the ancient galleys were drawn, subduct�; at the either horn or extremity of the harbor is a temple; in the centre of the mouth, a statue of Neptune. (Millingen, M�dailles In�d., Pl. II., No. 19. Compare also Millingen, Ancient Coins of Cities and Kings, 1831, pp. 50-61, Pl. IV., No. 15; Mionnet, Suppl. vii. p. 79, No. 246; and the harbor of Ostium, on the large brass coins of Nero, in which there is a representation of the Roman fleet and a reclining figure of Neptune.)
In vase pictures we have occasionally an attempt to represent water naturally. On a vase in the British Museum (No. 785), of which the subject is Ulysses and the Sirens, the Sea is rendered by wavy lines drawn in black on a red ground, and something like the effect of light playing on the surface of the water is given. On each side of the ship are shapeless masses of rock on which the Sirens stand.
One of the most beautiful of the figurative representations of the sea is the well-known type of Scylla. She has a beautiful body, terminating in two barking dogs and two serpent tails. Sometimes drowning men, the rari nantes in gurgite vasto, appear caught up in the coils of these tails. Below are dolphins. Scylla generally brandishes a rudder to show the manner in which she twists the course of ships. For varieties of her type see Monum. dell’Inst. Archeol. Rom., iii. Tavv. 52-3.
The representations of fresh water may be arranged under the following heads—rivers, lakes, fountains.
There are several figurative modes of representing rivers very frequently employed in ancient mythography.
In the type which occurs earliest we have the human form combined with that of the bull in several ways. On an archaic coin of Metapontum in Lucania, (see frontispiece to Millingen, Ancient Coins of Greek Cities and Kings,) the river Achelous is represented with the figure of a man with a shaggy beard and bull’s horns and ears. On a vase of the best period of Greek art (Brit. Mus. No. 789; Birch, Trans. Roy. Soc. of Lit., New Series, Lond. 1843, i. p. 100) the same river is represented with a satyr’s head and long bull’s horns on the forehead; his form, human to the waist, terminates in a fish’s tail; his hair falls down his back; his beard is long and shaggy. In this type we see a combination of the three forms separately enumerated by Sophocles, in the commencement of the Trachini�.
ος μ᾽ ἐν τρισἰν μορφαῖσιν ἐξῄει πατρὸς,
φοιτῶν ἐναργὴς αῦρος ἄλλοτ᾽ αἰόλος,
δράκων ἑλικτὸς, ἄλλοτ᾽ ἄνδρειῳ κύτεί
βουπρῳρος, ἐκ δὲ δασκίου γενειάδος
κρουνοὶ διεῤῥαίνοντο κρηναίου ποτοῦ.
In a third variety of this type the human-headed body is united at the waist with the shoulders of a bull’s body, in which it terminates. This occurs on an early vase. (Brit. Mus., No. 452.) On the coins of Œniadin Acarnia, and on those of Ambracia, all of the period after Alexander the Great, the Achelous has a bull’s body, and head with a human face. In this variety of the type the human element is almost absorbed, as in the first variety cited above, the coin of Metapontum, the bull portion of the type is only indicated by the addition of the horns and ears to the human head. On the analogy between these, varieties in the type of the Achelous and those under which the metamorphoses of the marine goddess Thetis are represented, see Gerhard, Auserl. Vasenb. ii. pp. 106-113. It is probable that, in the type of Thetis, of Proteus, and also of the Achelous, the singular combinations and transformations are intended to express the changeful nature of the element water.
Numerous other examples may be cited, where rivers are 425 represented by this combination of the bull and human form, which maybe called, for convenience, the Androtauric type. On the coins of Sicily, of the archaic and also of the finest period of art, rivers are most usually represented by a youthful male figure, with small budding horns; the hair has the lank and matted form which characterises aquatic deities in Greek mythography. The name of the river is often inscribed round the head. When the whole figure occurs on the coin, it is always represented standing, never reclining.
The type of the bull on the coins of Sybaris and Thurium, in Magna Gr�cia, has been considered, with great probability, a representation of this kind. On the coins of Sybaris, which are of a very early period, the head of the bull is turned round; on those of Thurium, he stoops his head, butting: the first of these actions has been thought to symbolise the winding course of the river, the second, its headlong current. On the coins of Thurium, the idea of water is further suggested by the adjunct of dolphins and other fish in the exergue of the coin. The ground on which the bull stands is indicated by herbage or pebbles. This probably represents the river bank. Two bulls’ head occur on the coins of Sardis, and it has been ingeniously conjectured by Mr. Burgon that the two rivers of the place are expressed under this type.
The representation of river-gods as human figures in a reclining position, though probably not so much employed in earlier Greek art as the Androtauric type, is very much more familiar to us, from its subsequent adoption in Roman mythography. The earliest example we have of a reclining river-god is in the figure in the Elgin Room commonly called the Ilissus, but more probably the Cephissus. This occupied one angle in the western pediment of the Parthenon; the other Athenian river, the Ilissus, and the fountain Callirrhoe being represented by a male and female figure in the opposite angle; this group, now destroyed, is visible in the drawing made by Carrey in 1678.
It is probable that the necessities of pedimental composition first led the artist to place the river-god in a reclining position. The head of the Ilissus being broken off, we are not sure whether he had bull’s horns, like the Sicilian figures already described. His form is youthful, in the folds of the drapery behind him 426 there is a flow like that of waves, but the idea of water is not suggested by any other symbol. When we compare this figure with that of the Nile (Visconti, Mus. Pio Clem., i., Pl. 38), and the figure of the Tiber in the Louvre, both of which are of the Roman period, we see how in these later types the artist multiplied symbols and accessories, ingrafting them on the original simple type of the river-god, as it was conceived by Phidias in the figure of the Ilissus. The Nile is represented as a colossal bearded figure reclining. At his side is a cornucopia, full of the vegetable produce of the Egyptian soil. Round his body are sixteen naked boys, who represent the sixteen cubits, the height to which the river rose in a favorable year. The statue is placed on a basement divided into three compartments, one above another. In the uppermost of these, waves are flowing over in one great sheet from the side of the river-god. In the other two compartments are the animals and plants of the river; the bas-reliefs on this basement are, in fact, a kind of abbreviated symbolic panorama of the Nile.
The Tiber is represented in a very similar manner. On the base are, in two compartments, scenes taken from the early Roman myths; flocks, herds, and other objects on the banks of the river. (Visconti, Mus. P. Cl. i., Pl. 39; Millin, Galerie Mythol., i. p. 77, Pl. 74, Nos. 304, 308.)
In the types of the Greek coins of Camarina, we find two interesting representations of Lakes. On the obverse of one of these we have, within a circle of the wave pattern, a male head, full face, with dishevelled hair, and with a dolphin on either side; on the reverse a female figure sailing on a swan, below which a wave moulding, and above, a dolphin.
On another coin the swan type of the reverse is associated with the youthful head of a river-god, inscribed “Hipparis” on the obverse. On some smaller coins we have the swan flying over the rippling waves, which are represented by the wave moulding. When we examine the chart of Sicily, made by the Admiralty survey, we find marked down at Camarina, a lake through which the river Hipparis flows.
We can hardly doubt that the inhabitants of Camarina represented both their river and their lakes on their coins. The swan flying over the waves would represent a lake; the figure associated 427 with it being no doubt the Aphrodite worshipped at that place: the head, in a circle of wave pattern, may express that part of the river which flows through the lake.
Fountains are usually represented by a stream of water issuing from a lion’s head in the rock: see a vase (Gerhard, Auserl. Vasenb., taf. CXXXIV.), where Hercules stands, receiving a shower-bath from a hot spring at Thermin Sicily. On the coins of Syracuse the fountain Arethusa is represented by a female head seen to the front; the flowing lines of her dishevelled hair suggest, though they do not directly imitate, the bubbling action of the fresh-water spring; the sea in which it rises is symbolized by the dolphins round the head. This type presents a striking analogy with that of the Camarina head in the circle of wave pattern described above.
These are the principal modes of representing water in Greek mythography. In the art of the Roman period, the same kind of figurative and symbolic language is employed, but there is a constant tendency to multiply accessories and details, as we have shown in the later representations of harbors and river-gods cited above. In these crowded compositions the eye is fatigued and distracted by the quantity it has to examine; the language of art becomes more copious but less terse and emphatic, and addresses itself to minds far less intelligent than the refined critics who were the contemporaries of Phidias.
Rivers in Roman art are usually represented by reclining male figures, generally bearded, holding reeds or other plants in their hands, and leaning on urns from which water is flowing. On the coins of many Syrian cities, struck in imperial times, the city is represented by a turreted female figure seated on rocks, and resting her feet on the shoulder of a youthful male figure, who looks up in her face, stretching out his arms, and who is sunk in the ground as high as the waist. See M�ller (Denkm�ler d. A. Kunst, i., taf. 49, No. 220) for a group of this kind in the Vatican, and several similar designs on coins.
On the column of Trajan there occur many rude representations of the Danube, and other rivers crossed by the Romans in their military expeditions. The water is imitated by sculptured wavy lines, in which boats are placed. In one scene (Bartoli, Colonna Trajana, Tav. 4) this rude conventional imitation is 428 combined with a figure. In a recess in the river bank is a reclining river-god, terminating at the waist. This is either meant for a statue which was really placed on the bank of the river, and which therefore marks some particular locality, or we have here figurative representation blended with conventional imitation.
On the column of Antoninus (Bartoli, Colon. Anton., Tav. 15) a storm of rain is represented by the head of Jupiter Pluvius, who has a vast outspread beard flowing in long tresses. In the Townley collection, in the British Museum, is a Roman helmet found at Ribchester in Lancashire, with a mask or vizor attached. The helmet is richly embossed with figures in a battle scene; round the brow is a row of turrets; the hair in the forehead is so treated as to give the idea of waves washing the base of the turrets. This head is perhaps a figurative representation of a town girt with fortifications and a moat, near which some great battle was fought. It is engraved (Vetusta Monum. of Soc. Ant. London, iv., Pl. 1-4).
In the Galeria at Florence is a group in alto relievo (Gori, Inscript. Ant. Flor. 1727, p. 76, Tab. 14) of three female figures, one of whom is certainly Demeter Kourotrophos, or the earth; another, Thetis, or the sea; the centre of the three seems to represent Aphrodite associated, as on the coins of Camarina, with the element of fresh water.
This figure is seated on a swan, and holds over her head an arched veil. Her hair is bound with reeds; above her veil grows a tall water plant, and below the swan other water plants, and a stork seated on a hydria, or pitcher, from which water is flowing. The swan, the stork, the water plants, and the hydria must all be regarded as symbols of fresh water, the latter emblem being introduced to show that the element is fit for the use of man.
Fountains in Roman art are generally personified as figures of nymphs reclining with urns, or standing holding before them a large shell.
One of the latest representations of water in ancient art is the mosaic of Palestrina (Barth�lemy, in Bartoli, Peint. Antiques) which may be described as a kind of rude panorama of some district of Upper Egypt, a bird’s-eye view, half man, half picture, in which the details are neither adjusted to a scale, nor 429 drawn according to perspective, but crowded together, as they would be in an ancient bas-relief.
I do not mean what I have here said of the Inventive power of the Arab to be understood as in the least applying to the detestable ornamentation of the Alhambra.105 The Alhambra is no more characteristic of Arab work, than Milan Cathedral is of Gothic: it is a late building, a work of the Spanish dynasty in its last decline, and its ornamentation is fit for nothing but to be transferred to patterns of carpets or bindings of books, together with their marbling, and mottling, and other mechanical recommendations. The Alhambra ornament has of late been largely used in shop-fronts, to the no small detriment of Regent Street and Oxford Street.
Let B A C, Fig. LXXII., be the original angle of the wall. Inscribe within it a circle, p Q N p, of the size of the bead required, touching A B, A C, in p, p; join p, p, and draw B C parallel to it, touching the circle.
Then the lines B C, p p are the limits of the possible chamfers constructed with curves struck either from centre A, as the line Q q, N d, r u, g c, &c., or from any other point chosen as a centre in the direction Q A produced: and also of all chamfers in straight lines, as a b, e f. There are, of course, an infinite number of chamfers to be struck between B C and p p, from every point in Q A produced to infinity; thus we have infinity multiplied into infinity to express the number of possible chamfers of this species, which are peculiarly Italian chamfers; together with another singly infinite group of the straight chamfers, a b, e f, &c., of which the one formed by the line a b, passing through the centre of the circle, is the universal early Gothic chamfer of Venice.
Again. Either on the line A C, or on any other lines A l or A m, radiating from A, any number of centres may be taken, from which, with any radii not greater than the distance between such points and Q, an infinite number of curves may be struck, such as t u, r s, N n (all which are here struck from centres on the line A C). These lines represent the great class of the northern chamfers, of which the number is infinity raised to its fourth power, but of which the curve N n (for northern) represents the average condition; the shallower chamfers of the same group, r s, t u, &c., occurring often in Italy. The lines r u, t u, and a b may be taken approximating to the most frequent conditions of the southern chamfer.
It is evident that the chords of any of these curves will give a relative group of rectilinear chamfers, occurring both in the North and South; but the rectilinear chamfers, I think, invariably fall within the line Q C, and are either parallel with it, or inclined to A C at an angle greater than A C Q, and often perpendicular 431 to it; but never inclined to it at an angle less than A C Q.
The following extract from my note-book refers also to some features of late decoration of shafts.
“The Scuola di San Rocco is one of the most interesting examples of Renaissance work in Venice. Its fluted pillars are surrounded each by a wreath, one of vine, another of laurel, another of oak, not indeed arranged with the fantasticism of early Gothic; but, especially the laurel, reminding one strongly of the laurel sprays, powerful as well as beautiful, of Veronese and Tintoret. Their stems are curiously and richly interlaced—the last vestige of the Byzantine wreathed work—and the vine-leaves are ribbed on the surfaces, I think, nearly as finely as those of the Noah,106 though more injured by time. The capitals are far the richest Renaissance in Venice, less corrupt and more masculine in plan, than any other, and truly suggestive of support, though of course showing the tendency to error in this respect; and finally, at the angles of the pure Attic bases, on the square plinth, are set couchant animals; one, an elephant four inches high, very curiously and cleverly cut, and all these details worked with a spirit, finish, fancy, and affection quite worthy of the middle ages. But they have all the marked fault of being utterly detached from the architecture. The wreaths round the columns look as if they would drop off the next moment, and the animals at the bases produce exactly the effect of mice who had got there by accident: one feels them ridiculously diminutive, and utterly useless.”
The effect of diminutiveness is, I think, chiefly owing to there being no other groups of figures near them, to accustom the eye to the proportion, and to the needless choice of the largest animals, elephants, bears, and lions, to occupy a position so completely insignificant, and to be expressed on so contemptible a scale,—not in a bas-relief or pictorial piece of sculpture, but as independent figures. The whole building is a most 432 curious illustration of the appointed fate of the Renaissance architects,—to caricature whatever they imitated, and misapply whatever they learned.
I have spoken above (Appendix 12) of the way in which the Roman Catholic priests everywhere suffer their churches to be desecrated. But the worst instances I ever saw of sacrilege and brutality, daily permitted in the face of all men, were the uses to which the noble base of St. Mark’s was put, when I was last in Venice. Portions of nearly all cathedrals may be found abandoned to neglect; but this base of St. Mark’s is in no obscure position. Full fronting the western sun—crossing the whole breadth of St. Mark’s Place—the termination of the most noble square in the world—the centre of the most noble city—its purple marbles were, in the winter of 1849, the customary gambling tables of the idle children of Venice; and the parts which flank the Great Entrance, that very entrance where “Barbarossa flung his mantle off,” were the counters of a common bazaar for children’s toys, carts, dolls, and small pewter spoons and dishes, German caricatures and books of the Opera, mixed with those of the offices of religion; the caricatures being fastened with twine round the porphyry shafts of the church. One Sunday, the 24th of February, 1850, the book-stall being somewhat more richly laid out than usual, I noted down the titles of a few of the books in the order in which they lay, and I give them below. The irony conveyed by the juxtaposition of the three in Italics appears too shrewd to be accidental; but the fact was actually so.
Along the edge of the white plinth were a row of two kinds of books,
Officium BeatVirg. M.; and Officium Hebdomad� sanct�, juxta Formam Missalis et Breviarii Romani sub Urbano VIII. correcti.
Behind these lay, side by side, the following:
Don Desiderio. Dramma Giocoso per Musica.
Breve Esposizione della Carattere di vera Religione.
On the top of this latter, keeping its leaves open,
La Figlia del Reggimento. Melodramma comica.
Carteggio di Madama la Marchesa di Pompadour, ossia raccolta di Lettere scritte della Medesima.
Istruzioni di morale Condotta per le Figlie.
Francesca di Rimini. Dramma per Musica.
Then, a little farther on, after a mass of plays:—
Orazioni a Gesu Nazareno e a Maria addolorata.
Semiramide; Melodramma tragico da rappresentarsi nel Gran Teatro il Fenice.
Modo di orare per l’Acquisto del S. Giubileo, conceduto a tutto il Mondo Cattolico da S. S. Gregorio XVI.
Le due illustre Rivali, Melodramma in Tre Atti, da rappresentarsi nel nuovo Gran Teatro il Fenice.
Il Cristiano secondo il Cuore di Gesu, per la Pratica delle sue Virtu.
Traduzione dell’ Idioma Italiana.
La chiava Chinese; Commedia del Sig. Abate Pietro Chiari.
La Pelarina; Intermezzo de Tre Parti per Musica.
Il Cavaliero e la Dama; Commedia in Tre Atti in Prosa.
I leave these facts without comment. But this being the last piece of Appendix I have to add to the present volume, I would desire to close its pages with a question to my readers—a statistical question, which, I doubt not, is being accurately determined for us all elsewhere, and which, therefore, it seems to me, our time would not be wasted in determining for ourselves.
There has now been peace between England and the continental powers about thirty-five years, and during that period the English have visited the continent at the rate of many thousands a year, staying there, I suppose, on the average, each two or three months; nor these an inferior kind of English, but the kind which ought to be the best—the noblest born, the best taught, the richest in time and money, having more leisure, knowledge, and power than any other portion of the nation. These, we might suppose, beholding, as they travelled, the condition of the states in which the Papal religion is professed, and being, at the same time, the most enlightened section of a great Protestant nation, would have been animated with some desire 434 to dissipate the Romanist errors, and to communicate to others the better knowledge which they possessed themselves. I doubt not but that He who gave peace upon the earth, and gave it by the hand of England, expected this much of her, and has watched every one of the millions of her travellers as they crossed the sea, and kept count for him of his travelling expenses, and of their distribution, in a manner of which neither the traveller nor his courier were at all informed. I doubt not, I say, but that such accounts have been literally kept for all of us, and that a day will come when they will be made clearly legible to us, and when we shall see added together, on one side of the account book, a great sum, the certain portion, whatever it may be, of this thirty-five years’ spendings of the rich English, accounted for in this manner:—
To wooden spoons, nut-crackers, and jewellery, bought at Geneva, and elsewhere among the Alps, so much; to shell cameos and bits of mosaic bought at Rome, so much; to coral horns and lava brooches bought at Naples, so much; to glass beads at Venice, and gold filigree at Genoa, so much; to pictures, and statues, and ornaments, everywhere, so much; to avant-couriers and extra post-horses, for show and magnificence, so much; to great entertainments and good places for seeing sights, so much; to ball-dresses and general vanities, so much. This, I say, will be the sum on one side of the book; and on the other will be written:
To the struggling Protestant Churches of France, Switzerland, and Piedmont, so much.
Had we not better do this piece of statistics for ourselves, in time?