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Title: Lectures on Architecture and Painting - Delivered at Edinburgh in November 1853
Author: Ruskin, John, 1819-1900
Language: English
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  Library Edition








  IN NOVEMBER, 1853.


  PREFACE                                                    v


  ARCHITECTURE                                               1


  ARCHITECTURE                                              34

  ADDENDA TO LECTURES I. AND II.                            56


  TURNER AND HIS WORKS                                      75


  PRE-RAPHAELITISM                                         100

  ADDENDA TO LECTURE IV.                                   123


                                                            Facing Page
  PLATE   I. Figs. 1. 3. and 5. Illustrative diagrams                 3
    "    II.  "    2. Windows in Oakham Castle                        5
    "   III.  "    4. and 6. Spray of ash-tree, and improvement
                      of the same on Greek principles                10
    "    IV.  "    7. Window in Dunblane Cathedral                   15
    "     V.  "    8. Mediæval turret                                20
    "    VI.  "    9. and 10. Lombardic towers                       22
    "   VII.  "   11. and 12. Spires at Coutances and Rouen          25
    "  VIII.  "   13. and 14. Illustrative diagrams                  39
    "    IX.  "   15. Sculpture at Lyons                             40
    "     X.  "   16. Niche at Amiens                                41
    "    XI.  "   17. and 18. Tiger's head, and improvement of
                      the same on Greek principles                   44
    "   XII.  "   19. Garret window in Hotel de Bourgtheroude        51
    "  XIII.  "   20. and 21. Trees, as drawn in the 13th century    81
    "   XIV.  "   22. Rocks, as drawn by the school of Leonardo
                      da Vinci                                       83
    "    XV.  "   23. Boughs of trees, after Titian                  84


The following Lectures are printed, as far as possible, just as they
were delivered. Here and there a sentence which seemed obscure has been
mended, and the passages which had not been previously written, have
been, of course imperfectly, supplied from memory. But I am well assured
that nothing of any substantial importance which was said in the
lecture-room, is either omitted, or altered in its signification; with
the exception only of a few sentences struck out from the notice of the
works of Turner, in consequence of the impossibility of engraving the
drawings by which they were illustrated, except at a cost which would
have too much raised the price of the volume. Some elucidatory remarks
have, however, been added at the close of the second and fourth
Lectures, which I hope may be of more use than the passages which I was
obliged to omit.

The drawings by which the Lectures on Architecture were illustrated have
been carefully reduced, and well transferred to wood by Mr. Thurston
Thompson. Those which were given in the course of the notices of schools
of painting could not be so transferred, having been drawn in color; and
I have therefore merely had a few lines, absolutely necessary to make
the text intelligible, copied from engravings.

I forgot, in preparing the second Lecture for the press, to quote a
passage from Lord Lindsay's "Christian Art," illustrative of what is
said in that lecture (§ 52), respecting the energy of the mediæval
republics. This passage, describing the circumstances under which the
Campanile of the Duomo of Florence was built, is interesting also as
noticing the universality of talent which was required of architects;
and which, as I have asserted in the Addenda (§ 60), always ought to be
required of them. I do not, however, now regret the omission, as I
cannot easily imagine a better preface to an essay on civil architecture
than this simple statement.

"In 1332, Giotto was chosen to erect it (the Campanile), on the ground,
avowedly, of the _universality_ of his talents, with the appointment of
Capo Maestro, or chief Architect (chief Master I should rather write),
of the Cathedral and its dependencies, a yearly salary of one hundred
gold florins, and the privilege of citizenship, under the special
understanding that he was not to quit Florence. His designs being
approved of, the republic passed a decree in the spring of 1334, that
the Campanile should be built so as to exceed in magnificence, height,
and excellence of workmanship whatever in that time had been achieved by
the Greeks and Romans in the time of their utmost power and greatness.
The first stone was laid, accordingly, with great pomp, on the 18th of
July following, and the work prosecuted with vigor, and with such
costliness and utter disregard of expense, that a citizen of Verona,
looking on, exclaimed that the republic was taxing her strength too far,
that the united resources of two great monarchs would be insufficient to
complete it; a criticism which the Signoria resented by confining him
for two months in prison, and afterwards conducting him through the
public treasury, to teach him that the Florentines could build their
whole city of marble, and not one poor steeple only, were they so

I see that "The Builder," vol. xi. page 690, has been endeavoring to
inspire the citizens of Leeds with some pride of this kind respecting
their town-hall. The pride would be well, but I sincerely trust that the
tower in question may not be built on the design there proposed. I am
sorry to have to write a special criticism, but it must be remembered
that the best works, by the best men living, are in this age abused
without mercy by nameless critics; and it would be unjust to the public,
if those who have given their names as guarantee for their sincerity
never had the courage to enter a protest against the execution of
designs which appear to them unworthy.

DENMARK HILL, _16th April 1854_.




_Delivered November 1, 1853._

1. I think myself peculiarly happy in being permitted to address the
citizens of Edinburgh on the subject of architecture, for it is one
which, they cannot but feel, interests them nearly. Of all the cities in
the British Islands, Edinburgh is the one which presents most advantages
for the display of a noble building; and which, on the other hand,
sustains most injury in the erection of a commonplace or unworthy one.
You are all proud of your city; surely you must feel it a duty in some
sort to justify your pride; that is to say, to give yourselves a _right_
to be proud of it. That you were born under the shadow of its two
fantastic mountains,--that you live where from your room windows you can
trace the shores of its glittering Firth, are no rightful subjects of
pride. You did not raise the mountains, nor shape the shores; and the
historical houses of your Canongate, and the broad battlements of your
castle, reflect honor upon you only through your ancestors. Before you
boast of your city, before even you venture to call it _yours_, ought
you not scrupulously to weigh the exact share you have had in adding to
it or adorning it, to calculate seriously the influence upon its aspect
which the work of your own hands has exercised? I do not say that, even
when you regard your city in this scrupulous and testing spirit, you
have not considerable ground for exultation. As far as I am acquainted
with modern architecture, I am aware of no streets which, in simplicity
and manliness of style, or general breadth and brightness of effect,
equal those of the New Town of Edinburgh. But yet I am well persuaded
that as you traverse those streets, your feelings of pleasure and pride
in them are much complicated with those which are excited entirely by
the surrounding scenery. As you walk up or down George Street, for
instance, do you not look eagerly for every opening to the north and
south, which lets in the luster of the Firth of Forth, or the rugged
outline of the Castle Rock? Take away the sea-waves, and the dark
basalt, and I fear you would find little to interest you in George
Street by itself. Now I remember a city, more nobly placed even than
your Edinburgh, which, instead of the valley that you have now filled by
lines of railroad, has a broad and rushing river of blue water sweeping
through the heart of it; which, for the dark and solitary rock that
bears your castle, has an amphitheater of cliffs crested with cypresses
and olive; which, for the two masses of Arthur's Seat and the ranges of
the Pentlands, has a chain of blue mountains higher than the haughtiest
peaks of your Highlands; and which, for your far-away Ben Ledi and Ben
More, has the great central chain of the St. Gothard Alps: and yet, as
you go out of the gates, and walk in the suburban streets of that
city--I mean Verona--the eye never seeks to rest on that external
scenery, however gorgeous; it does not look for the gaps between the
houses, as you do here; it may for a few moments follow the broken line
of the great Alpine battlements; but it is only where they form a
background for other battlements, built by the hand of man. There is no
necessity felt to dwell on the blue river or the burning hills. The
heart and eye have enough to do in the streets of the city itself; they
are contented there; nay, they sometimes turn from the natural scenery,
as if too savage and solitary, to dwell with a deeper interest on the
palace walls that cast their shade upon the streets, and the crowd of
towers that rise out of that shadow into the depth of the sky.

[Illustration: Plate I. (Fig. 1., Fig. 3., Fig. 5.)]

2. _That_ is a city to be proud of, indeed; and it is this kind of
architectural dignity which you should aim at, in what you add to
Edinburgh or rebuild in it. For remember, you must either help your
scenery or destroy it; whatever you do has an effect of one kind or the
other; it is never indifferent. But, above all, remember that it is
chiefly by private, not by public, effort that your city must be
adorned. It does not matter how many beautiful public buildings you
possess, if they are not supported by, and in harmony with, the private
houses of the town. Neither the mind nor the eye will accept a new
college, or a new hospital, or a new institution, for a city. It is the
Canongate, and the Princes Street, and the High Street that are
Edinburgh. It is in your own private houses that the real majesty of
Edinburgh must consist; and, what is more, it must be by your own
personal interest that the style of the architecture which rises around
you must be principally guided. Do not think that you can have good
architecture merely by paying for it. It is not by subscribing liberally
for a large building once in forty years that you can call up architects
and inspiration. It is only by active and sympathetic attention to the
domestic and every-day work which is done for each of you, that you can
educate either yourselves to the feeling, or your builders to the doing,
of what is truly great.

3. Well, but, you will answer, you cannot feel interested in
architecture: you do not care about it, and _cannot_ care about it. I
know you cannot. About such architecture as is built nowadays, no mortal
ever did or could care. You do not feel interested in _hearing_ the same
thing over and over again;--why do you suppose you can feel interested
in _seeing_ the same thing over and over again, were that thing even the
best and most beautiful in the world? Now, you all know the kind of
window which you usually build in Edinburgh: here is an example of the
head of one (_fig._ 1), a massy lintel of a single stone, laid across
from side to side, with bold square-cut jambs--in fact, the simplest
form it is possible to build. It is by no means a bad form; on the
contrary, it is very manly and vigorous, and has a certain dignity in
its utter refusal of ornament. But I cannot say it is entertaining. How
many windows precisely of this form do you suppose there are in the New
Town of Edinburgh? I have not counted them all through the town, but I
counted them this morning along this very Queen Street, in which your
Hall is; and on the one side of that street, there are of these windows,
absolutely similar to this example, and altogether devoid of any relief
by decoration, six hundred and seventy-eight.[1] And your decorations
are just as monotonous as your simplicities. How many Corinthian and
Doric columns do you think there are in your banks, and post-offices,
institutions, and I know not what else, one exactly like another?--and
yet you expect to be interested! Nay, but, you will answer me again, we
see sunrises and sunsets, and violets and roses, over and over again,
and we do not tire of _them_. What! did you ever see one sunrise like
another? does not God vary His clouds for you every morning and every
night? though, indeed, there is enough in the disappearing and appearing
of the great orb above the rolling of the world, to interest all of us,
one would think, for as many times as we shall see it; and yet the
aspect of it is changed for us daily. You see violets and roses often,
and are not tired of them. True! but you did not often see two roses
alike, or, if you did, you took care not to put them beside each other
in the same nosegay, for fear your nosegay should be uninteresting; and
yet you think you can put 150,000 square windows side by side in the
same streets, and still be interested by them. Why, if I were to say the
same thing over and over again, for the single hour you are going to let
me talk to you, would you listen to me? and yet you let your architects
_do_ the same thing over and over again for three centuries, and expect
to be interested by their architecture; with a farther disadvantage on
the side of the builder, as compared with the speaker, that my wasted
words would cost you but little, but his wasted stones have cost you no
small part of your incomes.

[Footnote 1: Including York Place, and Picardy Place, but not counting
any window which has moldings.]

[Illustration: PLATE II. (Fig. 2)]

4. "Well, but," you still think within yourselves, "it is not _right_
that architecture should be interesting. It is a very grand thing, this
architecture, but essentially unentertaining. It is its duty to be dull,
it is monotonous by law: it cannot be correct and yet amusing."

Believe me, it is not so. All things that are worth doing in art, are
interesting and attractive when they are done. There is no law of right
which consecrates dullness. The proof of a thing's being right is, that
it has power over the heart; that it excites us, wins us, or helps us. I
do not say that it has influence over all, but it has over a large
class, one kind of art being fit for one class, and another for another;
and there is no goodness in art which is independent of the power of
pleasing. Yet, do not mistake me; I do not mean that there is no such
thing as neglect of the best art, or delight in the worst, just as many
men neglect nature, and feed upon what is artificial and base; but I
mean, that all good art has the _capacity of pleasing_, if people will
attend to it; that there is no law against its pleasing; but, on the
contrary, something wrong either in the spectator or the art, when it
ceases to please. Now, therefore, if you feel that your present school
of architecture is unattractive to you, I say there is something wrong,
either in the architecture or in you; and I trust you will not think I
mean to flatter you when I tell you, that the wrong is _not_ in you, but
in the architecture. Look at this for a moment (_fig._ 2); it is a
window actually existing--a window of an English domestic building[2]--a
window built six hundred years ago. You will not tell me you have no
pleasure in looking at this; or that you could not, by any possibility,
become interested in the art which produced it; or that, if every window
in your streets were of some such form, with perpetual change in their
ornaments, you would pass up and down the street with as much
indifference as now, when your windows are of _this_ form (_fig._ 1).
Can you for an instant suppose that the architect was a greater or
wiser man who built this, than he who built that? or that in the
arrangement of these dull and monotonous stones there is more wit and
sense than you can penetrate? Believe me, the wrong is not in you; you
would all like the best things best, if you only saw them. What is wrong
in you is your temper, not your taste; your patient and trustful temper,
which lives in houses whose architecture it takes for granted, and
subscribes to public edifices from which it derives no enjoyment.

[Footnote 2: Oakham Castle. I have enlarged this illustration from Mr.
Hudson Turner's admirable work on the domestic architecture of England.]

5. "Well, but what are we to do?" you will say to me; "we cannot make
architects of ourselves." Pardon me, you can--and you ought.
Architecture is an art for all men to learn, because all are concerned
with it; and it is so simple, that there is no excuse for not being
acquainted with its primary rules, any more than for ignorance of
grammar or of spelling, which are both of them far more difficult
sciences. Far less trouble than is necessary to learn how to play chess,
or whist, or golf, tolerably,--far less than a school-boy takes to win
the meanest prize of the passing year, would acquaint you with all the
main principles of the construction of a Gothic cathedral, and I believe
you would hardly find the study less amusing. But be that as it may,
there are one or two broad principles which need only be stated to be
understood and accepted; and those I mean to lay before you, with your
permission, before you leave this room.

6. You must all, of course, have observed that the principal
distinctions between existing styles of architecture depend on their
methods of roofing any space, as a window or door for instance, or a
space between pillars; that is to say, that the character of Greek
architecture, and of all that is derived from it, depends on its roofing
a space with a single stone laid from side to side; the character of
Roman architecture, and of all derived from it, depends on its roofing
spaces with round arches; and the character of Gothic architecture
depends on its roofing spaces with pointed arches, or gables. I need
not, of course, in any way follow out for you the mode in which the
Greek system of architecture is derived from the horizontal lintel; but
I ought perhaps to explain, that by Roman architecture I do not mean
that spurious condition of temple form which was nothing more than a
luscious imitation of the Greek; but I mean that architecture in which
the Roman spirit truly manifested itself, the magnificent vaultings of
the aqueduct and the bath, and the colossal heaping of the rough stones
in the arches of the amphitheater; an architecture full of expression of
gigantic power and strength of will, and from which are directly derived
all our most impressive early buildings, called, as you know, by various
antiquaries, Saxon, Norman, or Romanesque. Now the first point I wish to
insist upon is, that the Greek system, considered merely as a piece of
construction, is weak and barbarous compared with the two others. For
instance, in the case of a large window or door, such as _fig._ 1, if
you have at your disposal a single large and long stone you may indeed
roof it in the Greek manner, as you have done here, with comparative
security; but it is always expensive to obtain and to raise to their
place stones of this large size, and in many places nearly impossible to
obtain them at all: and if you have not such stones, and still insist
upon roofing the space in the Greek way, that is to say, upon having a
square window, you must do it by the miserably feeble adjustment of
bricks, _fig._ 3.[3] You are well aware, of course, that this latter is
the usual way in which such windows are now built in England; you are
fortunate enough here in the north to be able to obtain single stones,
and this circumstance alone gives a considerable degree of grandeur to
your buildings. But in all cases, and however built, you cannot but see
in a moment that this cross bar is weak and imperfect. It may be strong
enough for all immediate intents and purposes, but it is not so strong
as it might be: however well the house is built, it will still not stand
so long as if it had been better constructed; and there is hardly a day
passes but you may see some rent or flaw in bad buildings of this kind.
You may see one whenever you choose, in one of your most costly, and
most ugly buildings, the great church with the dome, at the end of
George Street. I think I never saw a building with a principal entrance
so utterly ghastly and oppressive; and it is as weak as it is ghastly.
The huge horizontal lintel above the door is already split right
through. But you are not aware of a thousandth part of the evil: the
pieces of building that you _see_ are all carefully done; it is in the
parts that are to be concealed by paint and plaster that the bad
building of the day is thoroughly committed. The main mischief lies in
the strange devices that are used to support the long horizontal cross
beams of our larger apartments and shops, and the framework of unseen
walls; girders and ties of cast iron, and props and wedges, and laths
nailed and bolted together, on marvelously scientific principles; so
scientific, that every now and then, when some tender reparation is
undertaken by the unconscious householder, the whole house crashes into
a heap of ruin, so total, that the jury which sits on the bodies of the
inhabitants cannot tell what has been the matter with it, and returns a
dim verdict of accidental death.

[Footnote 3: Plate I. On this subject, see "The Builder," vol. xi.
p. 709.]

7. Did you read the account of the proceedings at the Crystal Palace at
Sydenham the other day? Some dozen of men crushed up among the splinters
of the scaffolding in an instant, nobody knew why. All the engineers
declare the scaffolding to have been erected on the best
principles,--that the fall of it is as much a mystery as if it had
fallen from heaven, and were all meteoric stones. The jury go to
Sydenham and look at the heap of shattered bolts and girders, and come
back as wise as they went. Accidental death! Yes, verily; the lives of
all those dozen of men had been hanging for months at the mercy of a
flaw in an inch or two of cast iron. Very accidental indeed! Not the
less pitiable. I grant it not to be an easy thing to raise scaffolding
to the height of the Crystal Palace without incurring some danger, but
that is no reason why your houses should all be nothing but scaffolding.
The common system of support of walls over shops is now nothing but
permanent scaffolding; part of iron, part of wood, part of brick; in
its skeleton state awful to behold; the weight of three or four stories
of wall resting sometimes on two or three pillars of the size of gas
pipes, sometimes on a single cross beam of wood, laid across from party
wall to party wall in the Greek manner. I have a vivid recollection at
this moment of a vast heap of splinters in the Borough Road, close to
St. George's, Southwark, in the road between my own house and London. I
had passed it the day before, a goodly shop front, and sufficient house
above, with a few repairs undertaken in the shop before opening a new
business. The master and mistress had found it dusty that afternoon, and
went out to tea. When they came back in the evening, they found their
whole house in the form of a heap of bricks blocking the roadway, with a
party of men digging out their cook. But I do not insist on casualties
like these, disgraceful to us as they are, for it is, of course,
perfectly possible to build a perfectly secure house or a secure window
in the Greek manner; but the simple fact is, that in order to obtain in
the cross lintel the same amount of strength which you can obtain in a
pointed arch, you must go to an immensely greater cost in stone or in
labor. Stonehenge is strong enough, but it takes some trouble to build
in the manner of Stonehenge: and Stonehenge itself is not so strong as
an arch of the Colosseum. You could not raise a circle of four
Stonehenges, one over the other, with safety; and as it is, more of the
cross-stones are fallen upon the plain of Sarum than arches rent away,
except by the hand of man, from the mighty circle of Rome. But I waste
words;--your own common sense must show you in a moment that this is a
weak form; and there is not at this instant a single street in London
where some house could not be pointed out with a flaw running through
its brickwork, and repairs rendered necessary in consequence, merely
owing to the adoption of this bad form; and that our builders know so
well, that in myriads of instances you find them actually throwing
concealed arches above the horizontal lintels to take the weight off
them; and the gabled decoration, at the top of some Palladian windows,
is merely the ornamental form resulting from a bold device of the old
Roman builders to effect the same purpose.

8. But there is a farther reason for our adopting the pointed arch than
its being the strongest form; it is also the most beautiful form in
which a window or door-head can be built. Not the most beautiful because
it is the strongest; but most beautiful, because its form is one of
those which, as we know by its frequent occurrence in the work of Nature
around us, has been appointed by the Deity to be an everlasting source
of pleasure to the human mind.

[Illustration: PLATE III. (Fig. 4., Fig. 6.)]

Gather a branch from any of the trees or flowers to which the earth owes
its principal beauty. You will find that every one of its leaves is
terminated, more or less, in the form of the pointed arch; and to that
form owes its grace and character. I will take, for instance, a spray of
the tree which so gracefully adorns your Scottish glens and crags--there
is no lovelier in the world--the common ash. Here is a sketch of the
clusters of leaves which form the extremity of one of its young shoots
(_fig._ 4); and, by the way, it will furnish us with an interesting
illustration of another error in modern architectural systems. You know
how fond modern architects, like foolish modern politicians, are of
their equalities, and similarities; how necessary they think it that
each part of a building should be like every other part. Now Nature
abhors equality, and similitude, just as much as foolish men love them.
You will find that the ends of the shoots of the ash are composed of
four[4] green stalks bearing leaves, springing in the form of a cross,
if seen from above, as in _fig._ 5, Plate I., and at first you will
suppose the four arms of the cross are equal. But look more closely, and
you will find that two opposite arms or stalks have only five leaves
each, and the other two have seven; or else, two have seven, and the
other two nine; but always one pair of stalks has two leaves more than
the other pair. Sometimes the tree gets a little puzzled, and forgets
which is to be the longest stalk, and begins with a stem for seven
leaves where it should have nine, and then recollects itself at the last
minute, and puts on another leaf in a great hurry, and so produces a
stalk with eight leaves; but all this care it takes merely to keep
itself out of equalities; and all its grace and power of pleasing are
owing to its doing so, together with the lovely curves in which its
stalks, thus arranged, spring from the main bough. _Fig._ 5 is a plan of
their arrangement merely, but _fig._ 4 is the way in which you are most
likely to see them: and observe, they spring from the stalk _precisely
as a Gothic vaulted roof springs_, each stalk representing a rib of the
roof, and the leaves its crossing stones; and the beauty of each of
those leaves is altogether owing to its terminating in the Gothic form,
the pointed arch. Now do you think you would have liked your ash trees
as well, if Nature had taught them Greek, and shown them how to grow
according to the received Attic architectural rules of right? I will try
you. Here is a cluster of ash leaves, which I have grown expressly for
you on Greek principles (_fig._ 6, Plate III.) How do you like it?

[Footnote 4: Sometimes of six; that is to say, they spring in pairs;
only the two uppermost pairs, sometimes the three uppermost, spring so
close together as to appear one cluster.]

9. Observe, I have played you no trick in this comparison. It is
perfectly fair in all respects. I have merely substituted for the
beautiful spring of the Gothic vaulting in the ash bough, a cross
lintel; and then, in order to raise the leaves to the same height, I
introduce vertical columns; and I make the leaves square-headed instead
of pointed, and their lateral ribs at right angles with the central rib,
instead of sloping from it. I have, indeed, only given you two boughs
instead of four; because the perspective of the crossing ones could not
have been given without confusing the figure; but I imagine you have
quite enough of them as it is.

"Nay, but," some of you instantly answer, "if we had been as long
accustomed to square-leaved ash trees as we have been to sharp-leaved
ash trees, we should like them just as well." Do not think it. Are you
not much more accustomed to gray whinstone and brown sandstone than you
are to rubies or emeralds? and yet will you tell me you think them as
beautiful? Are you not more accustomed to the ordinary voices of men
than to the perfect accents of sweet singing? yet do you not instantly
declare the song to be loveliest? Examine well the channels of your
admiration, and you will find that they are, in verity, as unchangeable
as the channels of your heart's blood; that just as by the pressure of a
bandage, or by unwholesome and perpetual action of some part of the
body, that blood may be wasted or arrested, and in its stagnancy cease
to nourish the frame, or in its disturbed flow affect it with incurable
disease, so also admiration itself may, by the bandages of fashion,
bound close over the eyes and the arteries of the soul, be arrested in
its natural pulse and healthy flow; but that wherever the artificial
pressure is removed, it will return into that bed which has been traced
for it by the finger of God.

10. Consider this subject well, and you will find that custom has indeed
no real influence upon our feelings of the beautiful, except in dulling
and checking them; that is to say, it will and does, as we advance in
years, deaden in some degree our enjoyment of all beauty, but it in no
wise influences our determination of what is beautiful, and what is not.
You see the broad blue sky every day over your heads; but you do not for
that reason determine blue to be less or more beautiful than you did at
first; you are unaccustomed to see stones as blue as the sapphire, but
you do not for that reason think the sapphire less beautiful than other
stones. The blue color is everlastingly appointed by the Deity to be a
source of delight; and whether seen perpetually over your head, or
crystallized once in a thousand years into a single and incomparable
stone, your acknowledgment of its beauty is equally natural, simple, and
instantaneous. Pardon me for engaging you in a metaphysical discussion;
for it is necessary to the establishment of some of the greatest of all
architectural principles that I should fully convince you of this great
truth, and that I should quite do away with the various objections to
it, which I suppose must arise in your minds. Of these there is one more
which I must briefly meet. You know how much confusion has been
introduced into the subject of criticism, by reference to the power of
Association over the human heart; you know how often it has been said
that custom must have something to do with our ideas of beauty, because
it endears so many objects to the affections. But, once for all, observe
that the powers of association and of beauty are two entirely distinct
powers,--as distinct, for instance, as the forces of gravitation and
electricity. These forces may act together, or may neutralize one
another, but are not for that reason to be supposed the same force; and
the charm of association will sometimes enhance, and sometimes entirely
overpower, that of beauty; but you must not confound the two together.
You love many things because you are accustomed to them, and are pained
by many things because they are strange to you; but that does not make
the accustomed sight more beautiful, or the strange one less so. The
well-known object may be dearer to you, or you may have discovered
charms in it which others cannot; but the charm was there before you
discovered it, only needing time and love to perceive it. You love your
friends and relations more than all the world beside, and may perceive
beauties in their faces which others cannot perceive; but you feel that
you would be ridiculous in allowing yourselves to think them the most
beautiful persons in the world: you acknowledge that the real beauty of
the human countenance depends on fixed laws of form and expression, and
not on the affection you bear to it, or the degree in which you are
familiarized with it: and so does the beauty of all other existences.

11. Now, therefore, I think that, without the risk of any farther
serious objection occurring to you, I may state what I believe to be the
truth,--that beauty has been appointed by the Deity to be one of the
elements by which the human soul is continually sustained; it is
therefore to be found more or less in all natural objects, but in order
that we may not satiate ourselves with it, and weary of it, it is rarely
granted to us in its utmost degrees. When we see it in those utmost
degrees, we are attracted to it strongly, and remember it long, as in
the case of singularly beautiful scenery or a beautiful countenance. On
the other hand, absolute ugliness is admitted as rarely as perfect
beauty; but degrees of it more or less distinct are associated with
whatever has the nature of death and sin, just as beauty is associated
with what has the nature of virtue and of life.

12. This being so, you see that when the relative beauty of any
particular forms has to be examined, we may reason, from the forms of
Nature around us, in this manner:--what Nature does generally, is sure
to be more or less beautiful; what she does rarely, will either be
_very_ beautiful, or absolutely ugly. And we may again easily determine,
if we are not willing in such a case to trust our feelings, which of
these is indeed the case, by this simple rule, that if the rare
occurrence is the result of the complete fulfillment of a natural law,
it will be beautiful; if of the violation of a natural law, it will be
ugly. For instance, a sapphire is the result of the complete and perfect
fulfillment of the laws of aggregation in the earth of alumina, and it
is therefore beautiful; more beautiful than clay, or any other of the
conditions of that earth. But a square leaf on any tree would be ugly,
being a violation of the laws of growth in trees,[5] and we ought to
feel it so.

[Footnote 5: I am at present aware only of one tree, the tulip tree,
which has an exceptional form, and which, I doubt not, every one will
admit, loses much beauty in consequence. All other leaves, as far as I
know, have the round or pointed arch in the form of the extremities of
their foils.]

13. Now then, I proceed to argue in this manner from what we see in the
woods and fields around us; that as they are evidently meant for our
delight, and as we always feel them to be beautiful, we may assume that
the forms into which their leaves are cast, are indeed types of beauty,
not of extreme or perfect, but average beauty. And finding that they
invariably terminate more or less in pointed arches, and are not
square-headed, I assert the pointed arch to be one of the forms most
fitted for perpetual contemplation by the human mind; that it is one of
those which never weary, however often repeated; and that therefore,
being both the strongest in structure, and a beautiful form (while the
square head is both weak in structure, and an ugly form), we are unwise
ever to build in any other.

[Illustration: PLATE IV. (Fig. 7.)]

14. Here, however, I must anticipate another objection. It may be asked
why we are to build only the tops of the windows pointed,--why not
follow the leaves, and point them at the bottom also?

For this simple reason, that, while in architecture you are continually
called upon to do what may be _unnecessary_ for the sake of beauty, you
are never called upon to do what is _inconvenient_ for the sake of
beauty. You want the level window sill to lean upon, or to allow the
window to open on a balcony: the eye and the common sense of the
beholder require this necessity to be met before any laws of beauty are
thought of. And besides this, there is in the sill no necessity for the
pointed arch as a bearing form; on the contrary, it would give an idea
of weak support for the sides of the window, and therefore is at once
rejected. Only I beg of you particularly to observe that the level sill,
although useful, and therefore admitted, does not therefore become
beautiful; the eye does not like it so well as the top of the window,
nor does the sculptor like to attract the eye to it; his richest
moldings, traceries, and sculptures are all reserved for the top of the
window; they are sparingly granted to its horizontal base. And farther,
observe, that when neither the convenience of the sill, nor the support
of the structure, are any more of moment, as in small windows and
traceries, you instantly _have_ the point given to the bottom of the
window. Do you recollect the west window of your own Dunblane Abbey? If
you look in any common guide-book, you will find it pointed out as
peculiarly beautiful,--it is acknowledged to be beautiful by the most
careless observer. And why beautiful? Look at it (_fig._ 7). Simply
because in its great contours it has the form of a forest leaf, and
because in its decoration it has used nothing but forest leaves. The
sharp and expressive molding which surrounds it is a very interesting
example of one used to an enormous extent by the builders of the early
English Gothic, usually in the form seen in _fig._ 2, Plate II.,
composed of clusters of four sharp leaves each, originally produced by
sculpturing the sides of a four-sided pyramid, and afterwards brought
more or less into a true image of leaves, but deriving all its beauty
from the botanical form. In the present instance only two leaves are set
in each cluster; and the architect has been determined that the
naturalism should be perfect. For he was no common man who designed that
cathedral of Dunblane. I know not anything so perfect in its simplicity,
and so beautiful, as far as it reaches, in all the Gothic with which I
am acquainted. And just in proportion to his power of mind, that man was
content to work under Nature's teaching; and instead of putting a merely
formal dogtooth, as everybody else did at the time, he went down to the
woody bank of the sweet river beneath the rocks on which he was
building, and he took up a few of the fallen leaves that lay by it, and
he set them in his arch, side by side, forever. And, look--that he might
show you he had done this,--he has made them all of different sizes,
just as they lay; and that you might not by any chance miss noticing the
variety, he has put a great broad one at the top, and then a little one
turned the wrong way, next to it, so that you must be blind indeed if
you do not understand his meaning. And the healthy change and
playfulness of this just does in the stone-work what it does on the tree
boughs, and is a perpetual refreshment and invigoration; so that,
however long you gaze at this simple ornament--and none can be simpler,
a village mason could carve it all round the window in a few hours--you
are never weary of it, it seems always new.

15. It is true that oval windows of this form are comparatively rare in
Gothic work, but, as you well know, circular or wheel windows are used
constantly, and in most traceries the apertures are curved and pointed
as much at the bottom as the top. So that I believe you will now allow
me to proceed upon the assumption, that the pointed arch is indeed the
best form into which the head either of door or window can be thrown,
considered as a means of sustaining weight above it. How these pointed
arches ought to be grouped and decorated, I shall endeavor to show you
in my next lecture. Meantime I must beg of you to consider farther some
of the general points connected with the structure of the roof.

16. I am sure that all of you must readily acknowledge the charm which
is imparted to any landscape by the presence of cottages; and you must
over and over again have paused at the wicket gate of some cottage
garden, delighted by the simple beauty of the honeysuckle porch and
latticed window. Has it ever occurred to you to ask the question, what
effect the cottage would have upon your feelings if it had _no roof_? no
visible roof, I mean;--if instead of the thatched slope, in which the
little upper windows are buried deep, as in a nest of straw--or the
rough shelter of its mountain shales--or warm coloring of russet
tiles--there were nothing but a flat leaden top to it, making it look
like a large packing-case with windows in it? I don't think the rarity
of such a sight would make you feel it to be beautiful; on the contrary,
if you think over the matter, you will find that you actually do owe,
and ought to owe, a great part of your pleasure in all cottage scenery,
and in all the inexhaustible imagery of literature which is founded upon
it, to the conspicuousness of the cottage roof--to the subordination of
the cottage itself to its covering, which leaves, in nine cases out of
ten, really more roof than anything else. It is, indeed, not so much the
whitewashed walls--nor the flowery garden--nor the rude fragments of
stones set for steps at the door--nor any other picturesqueness of the
building which interest you, so much as the gray bank of its heavy
eaves, deep-cushioned with green moss and golden stone-crop. And there
is a profound, yet evident, reason for this feeling. The very soul of
the cottage--the essence and meaning of it--are in its roof; it is that,
mainly, wherein consists its shelter; that, wherein it differs most
completely from a cleft in rocks or bower in woods. It is in its thick
impenetrable coverlet of close thatch that its whole heart and
hospitality are concentrated. Consider the difference, in sound, of the
expressions "beneath my roof" and "within my walls,"--consider whether
you would be best sheltered, in a shed, with a stout roof sustained on
corner posts, or in an inclosure of four walls without a roof at
all,--and you will quickly see how important a part of the cottage the
roof must always be to the mind as well as to the eye, and how, from
seeing it, the greatest part of our pleasure must continually arise.

17. Now, do you suppose that which is so all-important in a cottage, can
be of small importance in your own dwelling-house? Do you think that by
any splendor of architecture--any height of stories--you can atone to
the mind for the loss of the aspect of the roof? It is vain to say you
take the roof for granted. You may as well say you take a man's kindness
for granted, though he neither looks nor speaks kindly. You may know him
to be kind in reality, but you will not like him so well as if he spoke
and looked kindly also. And whatever external splendor you may give your
houses, you will always feel there is something wanting, unless you see
their roofs plainly. And this especially in the north. In southern
architecture the roof is of far less importance; but here the soul of
domestic building is in the largeness and conspicuousness of the
protection against the ponderous snow and driving sleet. You may make
the façade of the square pile, if the roof be not seen, as handsome as
you please,--you may cover it with decoration,--but there will always be
a heartlessness about it, which you will not know how to conquer; above
all, a perpetual difficulty in finishing the wall at top, which will
require all kinds of strange inventions in parapets and pinnacles for
its decoration, and yet will never look right.

Now, I need not tell you that, as it is desirable, for the sake of the
effect upon the mind, that the roof should be visible, so the best and
most natural form of roof in the north is that which will render it
_most_ visible, namely, the steep gable: the best and most natural, I
say, because this form not only throws off snow and rain most
completely, and dries fastest, but obtains the greatest interior space
within walls of a given height, removes the heat of the sun most
effectually from the upper rooms, and affords most space for

18. You have then, observed, two great principles, as far as northern
architecture is concerned; first, that the pointed arch is to be the
means by which the weight of the wall or roof is to be sustained;
secondly, that the steep gable is the form most proper for the roof
itself. And now observe this most interesting fact, that all the
loveliest Gothic architecture in the world is based on the group of
lines composed of the pointed arch and the gable. If you look at the
beautiful apse of Amiens Cathedral--a work justly celebrated over all
Europe--you will find it formed merely of a series of windows surmounted
by pure gables of open work. If you look at the transept porches of
Rouen, or at the great and celebrated porch of the Cathedral of Rheims,
or that of Strasbourg, Bayeux, Amiens, or Peterborough, still you will
see that these lovely compositions are nothing more than richly
decorated forms of gable over pointed arch. But more than this, you must
be all well aware how fond our best architectural artists are of the
street effects of foreign cities; and even those now present who have
not personally visited any of the continental towns must remember, I
should think, some of the many interesting drawings by Mr. Prout, Mr.
Nash, and other excellent draughtsmen, which have for many years adorned
our exhibitions. Now, the principal charm of all those continental
street effects is dependent on the houses having high-pitched gable
roofs. In the Netherlands, and Northern France, where the material for
building is brick or stone, the fronts of the stone gables are raised
above the roofs, and you have magnificent and grotesque ranges of steps
or curves decorated with various ornaments, succeeding one another in
endless perspective along the streets of Antwerp, Ghent, or Brussels. In
Picardy and Normandy, again, and many towns of Germany, where the
material for building is principally wood, the roof is made to project
over the gables, fringed with a beautifully carved cornice, and casting
a broad shadow down the house front. This is principally seen at
Abbeville, Rouen, Lisieux, and others of the older towns of France. But,
in all cases, the effect of the whole street depends on the prominence
of the gables; not only of the fronts towards the streets, but of the
sides also, set with small garret or dormer windows, each of the most
fantastic and beautiful form, and crowned with a little spire or
pinnacle. Wherever there is a little winding stair, or projecting bow
window, or any other irregularity of form, the steep ridges shoot into
turrets and small spires, as in _fig._ 8,[6] each in its turn crowned by
a fantastic ornament, covered with curiously shaped slates or shingles,
or crested with long fringes of rich ironwork, so that, seen from above
and from a distance, the intricate grouping of the roofs of a French
city is no less interesting than its actual streets; and in the streets
themselves, the masses of broad shadow which the roofs form against the
sky, are a most important background to the bright and sculptured
surfaces of the walls.

[Footnote 6: This figure is copied from Prout.]

19. Finally, I need not remind you of the effect upon the northern mind
which has always been produced by the heaven-pointing spire, nor of the
theory which has been founded upon it of the general meaning of Gothic
architecture as expressive of religious aspiration. In a few minutes,
you may ascertain the exact value of that theory, and the degree in
which it is true.

[Illustration: PLATE V. (Fig. 8.)]

The first tower of which we hear as built upon the earth, was certainly
built in a species of aspiration; but I do not suppose that any one here
will think it was a religious one. "Go to now. Let us build a tower
whose top may reach unto heaven." From that day to this, whenever men
have become skillful architects at all, there has been a tendency in
them to build high; not in any religious feeling, but in mere exuberance
of spirit and power--as they dance or sing--with a certain mingling of
vanity--like the feeling in which a child builds a tower of cards; and,
in nobler instances, with also a strong sense of, and delight in the
majesty, height, and strength of the building itself, such as we have in
that of a lofty tree or a peaked mountain. Add to this instinct the
frequent necessity of points of elevation for watch-towers, or of points
of offense, as in towers built on the ramparts of cities, and, finally,
the need of elevations for the transmission of sound, as in the Turkish
minaret and Christian belfry, and you have, I think, a sufficient
explanation of the tower-building of the world in general. Look through
your Bibles only, and collect the various expressions with reference to
tower-building there, and you will have a very complete idea of the
spirit in which it is for the most part undertaken. You begin with that
of Babel; then you remember Gideon beating down the tower of Penuel, in
order more completely to humble the pride of the men of the city; you
remember the defense of the tower of Shechem against Abimelech, and the
death of Abimelech by the casting of a stone from it by a woman's hand;
you recollect the husbandman building a tower in his vineyard, and the
beautiful expressions in Solomon's song,--"The tower of Lebanon, which
looketh towards Damascus;" "I am a wall, and my breasts like
towers;"--you recollect the Psalmist's expressions of love and delight,
"Go ye round about Jerusalem; tell the towers thereof: mark ye well her
bulwarks; consider her palaces, that ye may tell it to the generation
following." You see in all these cases how completely the tower is a
subject of human pride, or delight, or defense, not in any wise
associated with religious sentiment; the towers of Jerusalem being named
in the same sentence, not with her temple, but with her bulwarks and
palaces. And thus, when the tower is in reality connected with a place
of worship, it was generally done to add to its magnificence, but not to
add to its religious expression. And over the whole of the world, you
have various species of elevated buildings, the Egyptian pyramid, the
Indian and Chinese pagoda, the Turkish minaret, and the Christian
belfry,--all of them raised either to make a show from a distance, or to
cry from, or swing bells in, or hang them round, or for some other very
human reason. Thus, when the good people of Beauvais were building their
cathedral, that of Amiens, then just completed, had excited the
admiration of all France; and the people of Beauvais, in their jealousy
and determination to beat the people of Amiens, set to work to build a
tower to their own cathedral as high as they possibly could. They built
it so high that it tumbled down, and they were never able to finish
their cathedral at all--it stands a wreck to this day. But you will not,
I should think, imagine this to have been done in heavenward aspiration.
Mind, however, I don't blame the people of Beauvais, except for their
bad building. I think their desire to beat the citizens of Amiens a most
amiable weakness, and only wish I could see the citizens of Edinburgh
and Glasgow inflamed with the same emulation, building Gothic towers[7]
instead of manufactory chimneys. Only do not confound a feeling which,
though healthy and right, may be nearly analogous to that in which you
play a cricket-match, with any feeling allied to your hope of heaven.

[Footnote 7: I did not, at the time of the delivery of these lectures,
know how many Gothic towers the worthy Glaswegians _have_ lately built:
that of St. Peter's, in particular, being a most meritorious effort.]

20. Such being the state of the case with respect to tower-building in
general, let me follow for a few minutes the changes which occur in the
towers of northern and southern architects.

Many of us are familiar with the ordinary form of the Italian bell-tower
or campanile. From the eighth century to the thirteenth there was little
change in that form:[8] four-square, rising high and without tapering
into the air, story above story, they stood like giants in the quiet
fields beside the piles of the basilica or the Lombardic church, in this
form (_fig._ 9), tiled at the top in a flat gable, with open arches
below, and fewer and fewer arches on each inferior story, down to the
bottom. It is worth while noting the difference in form between these
and the towers built for military service. The latter were built as in
_fig._ 10, projecting vigorously at the top over a series of brackets or
machicolations, with very small windows, and no decoration below. Such
towers as these were attached to every important palace in the cities of
Italy, and stood in great circles--troops of towers--around their
external walls: their ruins still frown along the crests of every
promontory of the Apennines, and are seen from far away in the great
Lombardic plain, from distances of half-a-day's journey, dark against
the amber sky of the horizon. These are of course now built no more, the
changed methods of modern warfare having cast them into entire disuse;
but the belfry or campanile has had a very different influence on
European architecture. Its form in the plains of Italy and South France
being that just shown you, the moment we enter the valleys of the Alps,
where there is snow to be sustained, we find its form of roof altered by
the substitution of a steep gable for a flat one.[9] There are probably
few in the room who have not been in some parts of South Switzerland,
and who do not remember the beautiful effect of the gray mountain
churches, many of them hardly changed since the tenth and eleventh
centuries, whose pointed towers stand up through the green level of the
vines, or crown the jutting rocks that border the valley.

[Footnote 8: There is a good abstract of the forms of the Italian
campanile, by Mr. Papworth, in the Journal of the Archæological
Institute, March 1850.]

[Footnote 9: The form establishes itself afterwards in the plains, in
sympathy with other Gothic conditions, as in the campanile of St. Mark's
at Venice.]

[Illustration: PLATE VI. (Fig. 10., Fig. 9.)]

21. From this form to the true spire the change is slight, and consists
in little more than various decoration; generally in putting small
pinnacles at the angles, and piercing the central pyramid with traceried
windows; sometimes, as at Fribourg and Burgos, throwing it into tracery
altogether: but to do this is invariably the sign of a vicious style, as
it takes away from the spire its character of a true roof, and turns it
nearly into an ornamental excrescence. At Antwerp and Brussels, the
celebrated towers (one, observe, ecclesiastical, being the tower of the
cathedral, and the other secular), are formed by successions of
diminishing towers, set one above the other, and each supported by
buttresses thrown to the angles of the one beneath. At the English
cathedrals of Lichfield and Salisbury, the spire is seen in great
purity, only decorated by sculpture; but I am aware of no example so
striking in its entire simplicity as that of the towers of the cathedral
of Coutances in Normandy. There is a dispute between French and English
antiquaries as to the date of the building, the English being unwilling
to admit its complete priority to all their own Gothic. I have no doubt
of this priority myself; and I hope that the time will soon come when
men will cease to confound vanity with patriotism, and will think the
honor of their nation more advanced by their own sincerity and courtesy,
than by claims, however learnedly contested, to the invention of
pinnacles and arches. I believe the French nation was, in the twelfth
and thirteenth centuries, the greatest in the world; and that the French
not only invented Gothic architecture, but carried it to a perfection
which no other nation has approached, then or since: but, however this
may be, there can be no doubt that the towers of Coutances, if not the
earliest, are among the very earliest, examples of the fully developed
spire. I have drawn one of them carefully for you (_fig._ 11), and you
will see immediately that they are literally domestic roofs, with garret
windows, executed on a large scale, and in stone. Their only ornament is
a kind of scaly mail, which is nothing more than the copying in stone of
the common wooden shingles of the house-roof; and their security is
provided for by strong gabled dormer windows, of massy masonry, which,
though supported on detached shafts, have weight enough completely to
balance the lateral thrusts of the spires. Nothing can surpass the
boldness or the simplicity of the plan; and yet, in spite of this
simplicity, the clear detaching of the shafts from the slope of the
spire, and their great height, strengthened by rude cross-bars of stone,
carried back to the wall behind, occasion so great a complexity and play
of cast shadows, that I remember no architectural composition of
which the aspect is so completely varied at different hours of the
day.[10] But the main thing I wish you to observe is, the complete
_domesticity_ of the work; the evident treatment of the church spire
merely as a magnified house-roof; and the proof herein of the great
truth of which I have been endeavoring to persuade you, that all good
architecture rises out of good and simple domestic work; and that,
therefore, before you attempt to build great churches and palaces, you
must build good house doors and garret windows.

[Footnote 10: The sketch was made about ten o'clock on a September

[Illustration: PLATE VII. (Fig. 11., Fig. 12.)]

22. Nor is the spire the only ecclesiastical form deducible from
domestic architecture. The spires of France and Germany are associated
with other towers, even simpler and more straightforward in confession
of their nature, in which, though the walls of the tower are covered
with sculpture, there is an ordinary ridged gable roof on the top. The
finest example I know of this kind of tower, is that on the north-west
angle of Rouen Cathedral (_fig._ 12); but they occur in multitudes in
the older towns of Germany; and the backgrounds of Albert Dürer are full
of them, and owe to them a great part of their interest: all these great
and magnificent masses of architecture being repeated on a smaller scale
by the little turret roofs and pinnacles of every house in the town; and
the whole system of them being expressive, not by any means of religious
feeling,[11] but merely of joyfulness and exhilaration of spirit in the
inhabitants of such cities, leading them to throw their roofs high into
the sky, and therefore giving to the style of architecture with which
these grotesque roofs are associated, a certain charm like that of
cheerfulness in a human face; besides a power of interesting the
beholder which is testified, not only by the artist in his constant
search after such forms as the elements of his landscape, but by every
phrase of our language and literature bearing on such topics. Have not
these words, Pinnacle, Turret, Belfry, Spire, Tower, a pleasant sound in
all your ears? I do not speak of your scenery, I do not ask you how much
you feel that it owes to the gray battlements that frown through the
woods of Craigmillar, to the pointed turrets that flank the front of
Holyrood, or to the massy keeps of your Crichtoun and Borthwick and
other border towers. But look merely through your poetry and romances;
take away out of your border ballads the word _tower_ wherever it
occurs, and the ideas connected with it, and what will become of the
ballads? See how Sir Walter Scott cannot even get through a description
of Highland scenery without help from the idea:--

    "Each purple peak, each flinty _spire_,
    Was bathed in floods of living fire."

Take away from Scott's romances the word and idea _turret_, and see how
much you would lose. Suppose, for instance, when young Osbaldistone is
leaving Osbaldistone Hall, instead of saying "The old clock struck two
from a _turret_ adjoining my bedchamber," he had said, "The old clock
struck two from the landing at the top of the stair," what would become
of the passage? And can you really suppose that what has so much power
over you in words has no power over you in reality? Do you think there
is any group of words which would thus interest you, when the things
expressed by them are uninteresting?

[Footnote 11: Among the various modes in which the architects, against
whose practice my writings are directed, have endeavored to oppose them,
no charge has been made more frequently than that of their
self-contradiction; the fact being, that there are few people in the
world who are capable of seeing the two sides of any subject, or of
conceiving how the statements of its opposite aspects can possibly be
reconcilable. For instance, in a recent review, though for the most part
both fair and intelligent, it is remarked, on this very subject of the
domestic origin of the northern Gothic, that "Mr. Ruskin is evidently
possessed by a fixed idea, that the Venetian architects were devout men,
and that their devotion was expressed in their buildings; while he will
not allow our own cathedrals to have been built by any but worldly men,
who had no thoughts of heaven, but only vague ideas of keeping out of
hell, by erecting costly places of worship." If this writer had compared
the two passages with the care which such a subject necessarily demands,
he would have found that I was not opposing Venetian to English piety;
but that in the one case I was speaking of the spirit manifested in the
entire architecture of the nation, and in the other of occasional
efforts of superstition as distinguished from that spirit; and, farther,
that in the one case, I was speaking of decorative features, which are
ordinarily the results of feelings, in the other of structural features,
which are ordinarily the results of necessity or convenience. Thus it is
rational and just that we should attribute the decoration of the arches
of St. Mark's with scriptural mosaics to a religious sentiment; but it
would be a strange absurdity to regard as an effort of piety the
invention of the form of the arch itself, of which one of the earliest
and most perfect instances is in the Cloaca Maxima. And thus in the case
of spires and towers, it is just to ascribe to the devotion of their
designers that dignity which was bestowed upon forms derived from the
simplest domestic buildings; but it is ridiculous to attribute any great
refinement of religious feeling, or height of religious aspiration, to
those who furnished the funds for the erection of the loveliest tower in
North France, by paying for permission to eat butter in Lent.]

23. For instance, you know that, for an immense time back, all your
public buildings have been built with a row of pillars supporting a
triangular thing called a pediment. You see this form every day in your
banks and clubhouses, and churches and chapels; you are told that it is
the perfection of architectural beauty; and yet suppose Sir Walter
Scott, instead of writing, "Each purple peak, each flinty spire," had
written, "Each purple peak, each flinty 'pediment.'"[12] Would you have
thought the poem improved? And if not, why would it be spoiled? Simply
because the idea is no longer of any value to you; the thing spoken of
is a nonentity. These pediments, and stylobates, and architraves never
excited a single pleasurable feeling in you--never will, to the end of
time. They are evermore dead, lifeless, and useless, in art as in
poetry, and though you built as many of them as there are slates on your
house-roofs, you will never care for them. They will only remain to
later ages as monuments of the patience and pliability with which the
people of the nineteenth century sacrificed their feelings to fashions,
and their intellects to forms. But on the other hand, that strange and
thrilling interest with which such words strike you as are in any wise
connected with Gothic architecture--as for instance, Vault, Arch, Spire,
Pinnacle, Battlement, Barbican, Porch, and myriads of such others, words
everlastingly poetical and powerful whenever they occur,--is a most true
and certain index that the things themselves are delightful to you, and
will ever continue to be so. Believe me, you do indeed love these
things, so far as you care about art at all, so far as you are not
ashamed to confess what you feel about them.

[Footnote 12: It has been objected to this comparison that the form of
the pediment does not properly represent that of the rocks of the
Trossachs. The objection is utterly futile, for there is not a single
spire or pinnacle from one end of the Trossachs to the other. All their
rocks are heavily rounded, and the introduction of the word "spire" is a
piece of inaccuracy in description, ventured _merely for the sake of the
Gothic image_. Farther: it has been said that if I had substituted the
word "gable," it would have spoiled the line just as much as the word
"pediment," though "gable" is a Gothic word. Of course it would; but
why? Because "gable" is a term of vulgar domestic architecture, and
therefore destructive of the tone of the heroic description; whereas
"pediment" and "spire" are precisely correlative terms, being each the
crowning feature in ecclesiastical edifices, and the comparison of their
effects in the verse is therefore absolutely accurate, logical, and

24. In your public capacities, as bank directors, and charity overseers,
and administrators of this and that other undertaking or institution,
you cannot express your feelings at all. You form committees to decide
upon the style of the new building, and as you have never been in the
habit of trusting to your own taste in such matters, you inquire who is
the most celebrated, that is to say, the most employed, architect of the
day. And you send for the great Mr. Blank, and the Great Blank sends you
a plan of a great long marble box with half-a-dozen pillars at one end
of it, and the same at the other; and you look at the Great Blank's
great plan in a grave manner, and you dare say it will be very handsome;
and you ask the Great Blank what sort of a blank check must be filled up
before the great plan can be realized; and you subscribe in a generous
"burst of confidence" whatever is wanted; and when it is all done, and
the great white marble box is set up in your streets, you contemplate
it, not knowing what to make of it exactly, but hoping it is all right;
and then there is a dinner given to the Great Blank, and the morning
papers say that the new and handsome building, erected by the great Mr.
Blank, is one of Mr. Blank's happiest efforts, and reflects the greatest
credit upon the intelligent inhabitants of the city of so-and-so; and
the building keeps the rain out as well as another, and you remain in a
placid state of impoverished satisfaction therewith; but as for having
any real pleasure out of it, you never hoped for such a thing. If you
really make up a party of pleasure, and get rid of the forms and fashion
of public propriety for an hour or two, where do you go for it? Where do
you go to eat strawberries and cream? To Roslin Chapel, I believe; not
to the portico of the last-built institution. What do you see your
children doing, obeying their own natural and true instincts? What are
your daughters drawing upon their cardboard screens as soon as they can
use a pencil? Not Parthenon fronts, I think, but the ruins of Melrose
Abbey, or Linlithgow Palace, or Lochleven Castle, their own pure Scotch
hearts leading them straight to the right things, in spite of all that
they are told to the contrary. You perhaps call this romantic, and
youthful, and foolish. I am pressed for time now, and I cannot ask you
to consider the meaning of the word "Romance." I will do that, if you
please, in next lecture, for it is a word of greater weight and
authority than we commonly believe. In the meantime, I will endeavor,
lastly, to show you, not the romantic, but the plain and practical
conclusions which should follow from the facts I have laid before you.

25. I have endeavored briefly to point out to you the propriety and
naturalness of the two great Gothic forms, the pointed arch and gable
roof. I wish now to tell you in what way they ought to be introduced
into modern domestic architecture.

You will all admit that there is neither romance nor comfort in waiting
at your own or at any one else's door on a windy and rainy day, till
the servant comes from the end of the house to open it. You all know the
critical nature of that opening--the drift of wind into the passage, the
impossibility of putting down the umbrella at the proper moment without
getting a cupful of water dropped down the back of your neck from the
top of the door-way; and you know how little these inconveniences are
abated by the common Greek portico at the top of the steps. You know how
the east winds blow through those unlucky couples of pillars, which are
all that your architects find consistent with due observance of the
Doric order. Then, away with these absurdities; and the next house you
build, insist upon having the pure old Gothic porch, walled in on both
sides, with its pointed arch entrance and gable roof above. Under that,
you can put down your umbrella at your leisure, and, if you will, stop a
moment to talk with your friend as you give him the parting shake of the
hand. And if now and then a wayfarer found a moment's rest on a stone
seat on each side of it, I believe you would find the insides of your
houses not one whit the less comfortable; and, if you answer me, that
were such refuges built in the open streets, they would become mere
nests of filthy vagrants, I reply that I do not despair of such a change
in the administration of the poor laws of this country, as shall no
longer leave any of our fellow creatures in a state in which they would
pollute the steps of our houses by resting upon them for a night. But if
not, the command to all of us is strict and straight, "When thou seest
the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou bring the poor that are
cast out to _thy house_."[13] Not to the work-house, observe, but to
_thy_ house: and I say it would be better a thousandfold, that our doors
should be beset by the poor day by day, than that it should be written
of any one of us, "They reap every one his corn in the field, and they
gather the vintage of the wicked. They cause the naked to lodge without
shelter, that they have no covering in the cold. They are wet with the
showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock, for want of a

[Footnote 13: Isa. lviii. 7.]

[Footnote 14: Job xxiv. 6-8.]

26. This, then, is the first use to which your pointed arches and gable
roofs are to be put. The second is of more personal pleasurableness. You
surely must all of you feel and admit the delightfulness of a bow
window; I can hardly fancy a room can be perfect without one. Now you
have nothing to do but to resolve that every one of your principal rooms
shall have a bow window, either large or small. Sustain the projection
of it on a bracket, crown it above with a little peaked roof, and give a
massy piece of stone sculpture to the pointed arch in each of its
casements, and you will have as inexhaustible a source of quaint
richness in your street architecture, as of additional comfort and
delight in the interiors of your rooms.

27. Thirdly, as respects windows which do not project. You will find
that the proposal to build them with pointed arches is met by an
objection on the part of your architects, that you cannot fit them with
comfortable sashes. I beg leave to tell you that such an objection is
utterly futile and ridiculous. I have lived for months in Gothic
palaces, with pointed windows of the most complicated forms, fitted with
modern sashes; and with the most perfect comfort. But granting that the
objection were a true one--and I suppose it is true to just this extent,
that it may cost some few shillings more per window in the first
instance to set the fittings to a pointed arch than to a square
one--there is not the smallest necessity for the _aperture_ of the
window being of the pointed shape. Make the uppermost or bearing arch
pointed only, and make the top of the window square, filling the
interval with a stone shield, and you may have a perfect school of
architecture, not only consistent with, but eminently conducive to,
every comfort of your daily life. The window in Oakham Castle (_fig._ 2)
is an example of such a form as actually employed in the thirteenth
century; and I shall have to notice another in the course of next

28. Meanwhile, I have but one word to say, in conclusion. Whatever has
been advanced in the course of this evening, has rested on the
assumption that all architecture was to be of brick and stone; and may
meet with some hesitation in its acceptance, on account of the probable
use of iron, glass, and such other materials in our future edifices. I
cannot now enter into any statement of the possible uses of iron or
glass, but I will give you one reason, which I think will weigh strongly
with most here, why it is not likely that they will ever become
important elements in architectural effect. I know that I am speaking to
a company of philosophers, but you are not philosophers of the kind who
suppose that the Bible is a superannuated book; neither are you of those
who think the Bible is dishonored by being referred to for judgment in
small matters. The very divinity of the Book seems to me, on the
contrary, to justify us in referring _every_ thing to it, with respect
to which any conclusion can be gathered from its pages. Assuming then
that the Bible is neither superannuated now, nor ever likely to be so,
it will follow that the illustrations which the Bible employs are likely
to be _clear and intelligible illustrations_ to the end of time. I do
not mean that everything spoken of in the Bible histories must continue
to endure for all time, but that the things which the Bible uses for
illustration of eternal truths are likely to remain eternally
intelligible illustrations. Now, I find that iron architecture is indeed
spoken of in the Bible. You know how it is said to Jeremiah, "Behold, I
have made thee this day a defensed city, and an iron pillar, and brazen
walls, against the whole land." But I do not find that iron building is
ever alluded to as likely to become _familiar_ to the minds of men; but,
on the contrary, that an architecture of carved stone is continually
employed as a source of the most important illustrations. A simple
instance must occur to all of you at once. The force of the image of the
Corner Stone, as used throughout Scripture, would completely be lost, if
the Christian and civilized world were ever extensively to employ any
other material than earth and rock in their domestic buildings: I firmly
believe that they never will; but that as the laws of beauty are more
perfectly established, we shall be content still to build as our
forefathers built, and still to receive the same great lessons which
such building is calculated to convey; of which one is indeed never to
be forgotten. Among the questions respecting towers which were laid
before you to-night, one has been omitted: "What man is there of you
intending to build a tower, that sitteth not down first and counteth the
cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?" I have pressed upon you,
this evening, the building of domestic towers. You may think it right to
dismiss the subject at once from your thoughts; but let us not do so,
without considering, each of us, how far _that_ tower has been built,
and how truly its cost has been counted.



_Delivered November 4, 1853._

29. Before proceeding to the principal subject of this evening, I wish
to anticipate one or two objections which may arise in your minds to
what I must lay before you. It may perhaps have been felt by you last
evening, that some things I proposed to you were either romantic or
Utopian. Let us think for a few moments what romance and Utopianism

First, romance. In consequence of the many absurd fictions which long
formed the elements of romance writing, the word romance is sometimes
taken as synonymous with falsehood. Thus the French talk of _Des
Romans_, and thus the English use the word Romancing.

But in this sense we had much better use the word falsehood at once. It
is far plainer and clearer. And if in this sense I put anything romantic
before you, pray pay no attention to it, or to me.

30. In the second place. Because young people are particularly apt to
indulge in reverie, and imaginative pleasures, and to neglect their
plain and practical duties, the word romantic has come to signify weak,
foolish, speculative, unpractical, unprincipled. In all these cases it
would be much better to say weak, foolish, unpractical, unprincipled.
The words are clearer. If in this sense, also, I put anything romantic
before you, pray pay no attention to me.

31. But in the third and last place. The real and proper use of the word
romantic is simply to characterize an improbable or unaccustomed degree
of beauty, sublimity, or virtue. For instance, in matters of history, is
not the Retreat of the Ten Thousand romantic? Is not the death of
Leonidas? of the Horatii? On the other hand, you find nothing romantic,
though much that is monstrous, in the excesses of Tiberius or Commodus.
So again, the battle of Agincourt is romantic, and of Bannockburn,
simply because there was an extraordinary display of human virtue in
both these battles. But there is no romance in the battles of the last
Italian campaign, in which mere feebleness and distrust were on one
side, mere physical force on the other. And even in fiction, the
opponents of virtue, in order to be romantic, must have sublimity
mingled with their vice. It is not the knave, not the ruffian, that are
romantic, but the giant and the dragon; and these, not because they are
false, but because they are majestic. So again as to beauty. You feel
that armor is romantic, because it is a beautiful dress, and you are not
used to it. You do not feel there is anything romantic in the paint and
shells of a Sandwich Islander, for these are not beautiful.

32. So, then, observe, this feeling which you are accustomed to
despise--this secret and poetical enthusiasm in all your hearts, which,
as practical men, you try to restrain--is indeed one of the holiest
parts of your being. It is the instinctive delight in, and admiration
for, sublimity, beauty, and virtue, unusually manifested. And so far
from being a dangerous guide, it is the truest part of your being. It is
even truer than your consciences. A man's conscience may be utterly
perverted and led astray; but so long as the feelings of romance endure
within us, they are unerring,--they are as true to what is right and
lovely as the needle to the north; and all that you have to do is to add
to the enthusiastic sentiment, the majestic judgment--to mingle prudence
and foresight with imagination and admiration, and you have the perfect
human soul. But the great evil of these days is that we try to destroy
the romantic feeling, instead of bridling and directing it. Mark what
Young says of the men of the world:--

    "They, who think nought so strong of the romance,
    So rank knight-errant, as a real friend."

And they are right. True friendship is romantic, to the men of the
world--true affection is romantic--true religion is romantic; and if you
were to ask me who of all powerful and popular writers in the cause of
error had wrought most harm to their race, I should hesitate in reply
whether to name Voltaire, or Byron, or the last most ingenious and most
venomous of the degraded philosophers of Germany, or rather Cervantes,
for he cast scorn upon the holiest principles of humanity--he, of all
men, most helped forward the terrible change in the soldiers of Europe,
from the spirit of Bayard to the spirit of Bonaparte,[15] helped to
change loyalty into license, protection into plunder, truth into
treachery, chivalry into selfishness; and, since his time, the purest
impulses and the noblest purposes have perhaps been oftener stayed by
the devil, under the name of Quixotism, than under any other base name
or false allegation.

[Footnote 15: I mean no scandal against the _present_ Emperor of the
French, whose truth has, I believe, been as conspicuous in the late
political negotiations, as his decision and prudence have been
throughout the whole course of his government.]

33. Quixotism, or Utopianism; that is another of the devil's pet words.
I believe the quiet admission which we are all of us so ready to make,
that, because things have long been wrong, it is impossible they should
ever be right, is one of the most fatal sources of misery and crime from
which this world suffers. Whenever you hear a man dissuading you from
attempting to do well, on the ground that perfection is "Utopian;"
beware of that man. Cast the word out of your dictionary altogether.
There is no need for it. Things are either possible or impossible--you
can easily determine which, in any given state of human science. If the
thing is impossible, you need not trouble yourselves about it; if
possible, try for it. It is very Utopian to hope for the entire doing
away with drunkenness and misery out of the Canongate; but the
Utopianism is not our business--the _work_ is. It is Utopian to hope to
give every child in this kingdom the knowledge of God from its youth;
but the Utopianism is not our business--the _work_ is.

34. I have delayed you by the consideration of these two words, only in
the fear that they might be inaccurately applied to the plans I am going
to lay before you; for, though they were Utopian, and though they were
romantic, they might be none the worse for that. But they are neither.
Utopian they are not; for they are merely a proposal to do again what
has been done for hundreds of years by people whose wealth and power
were as nothing compared to ours;--and romantic they are not, in the
sense of self-sacrificing or eminently virtuous, for they are merely the
proposal to each of you that he should live in a handsomer house than he
does at present, by substituting a cheap mode of ornamentation for a
costly one. You perhaps fancied that architectural beauty was a very
costly thing. Far from it. It is architectural ugliness that is costly.
In the modern system of architecture, decoration is immoderately
expensive, because it is both wrongly placed and wrongly finished. I say
first, wrongly placed. Modern architects decorate the tops of their
buildings. Mediæval ones decorated the bottom.[16] That makes all the
difference between seeing the ornament and not seeing it. If you bought
some pictures to decorate such a room as this, where would you put them?
On a level with the eye, I suppose, or nearly so? Not on a level with
the chandelier? If you were determined to put them up there, round the
cornice, it would be better for you not to buy them at all. You would
merely throw your money away. And the fact is, that your money _is_
being thrown away continually, by wholesale; and while you are
dissuaded, on the ground of expense, from building beautiful windows and
beautiful doors, you are continually made to pay for ornaments at the
tops of your houses, which, for all the use they are of, might as well
be in the moon. For instance, there is not, on the whole, a more studied
piece of domestic architecture in Edinburgh than the street in which so
many of your excellent physicians live--Rutland Street. I do not know if
you have observed its architecture; but if you will look at it
to-morrow, you will see that a heavy and close balustrade is put all
along the eaves of the houses. Your physicians are not, I suppose, in
the habit of taking academic and meditative walks on the roofs of their
houses; and, if not, this balustrade is altogether useless,--nor merely
useless, for you will find it runs directly in front of all the garret
windows, thus interfering with their light, and blocking out their view
of the street. All that the parapet is meant to do, is to give some
finish to the façades, and the inhabitants have thus been made to pay a
large sum for a piece of mere decoration. Whether it _does_ finish the
façades satisfactorily, or whether the physicians resident in the
street, or their patients, are in anywise edified by the succession of
pear-shaped knobs of stone on their house-tops, I leave them to tell
you; only do not fancy that the design, whatever its success, is an
economical one.

[Footnote 16: For farther confirmation of this statement see the Addenda
at the end of this Lecture.]

35. But this is a very slight waste of money, compared to the constant
habit of putting careful sculpture at the tops of houses. A temple of
luxury has just been built in London for the Army and Navy Club. It cost
£40,000, exclusive of purchase of ground. It has upon it an enormous
quantity of sculpture, representing the gentlemen of the navy as little
boys riding upon dolphins, and the gentlemen of the army--I couldn't see
as what--nor can anybody; for all this sculpture is put up at the top of
the house, where the gutter should be, under the cornice. I know that
this was a Greek way of doing things. I can't help it; that does not
make it a wise one. Greeks might be willing to pay for what they
couldn't see, but Scotchmen and Englishmen shouldn't.

36. Not that the Greeks threw their work away as we do. As far as I know
Greek buildings, their ornamentation, though often bad, is always bold
enough and large enough to be visible in its place. It is not putting
ornament _high_ that is wrong; but it is cutting it too fine to be seen,
wherever it is. This is the great modern mistake: you are actually at
twice the cost which would produce an impressive ornament, to produce
a contemptible one; you increase the price of your buildings by
one-half, in order to mince their decoration into invisibility. Walk
through your streets, and try to make out the ornaments on the upper
parts of your fine buildings--(there are none at the bottoms of them).
Don't do it long, or you will all come home with inflamed eyes, but you
will soon discover that you can see nothing but confusion in ornaments
that have cost you ten or twelve shillings a foot.

[Illustration: PLATE VIII. (Fig. 13., Fig. 14.)]

37. Now, the Gothic builders placed their decoration on a precisely
contrary principle, and on the only rational principle. All their best
and most delicate work they put on the foundation of the building, close
to the spectator, and on the upper parts of the walls they put ornaments
large, bold, and capable of being plainly seen at the necessary
distance. A single example will enable you to understand this method of
adaptation perfectly. The lower part of the façade of the cathedral of
Lyons, built either late in the thirteenth or early in the fourteenth
century, is decorated with a series of niches, filled by statues of
considerable size, which are supported upon pedestals within about eight
feet of the ground. In general, pedestals of this kind are supported on
some projecting portion of the basement; but at Lyons, owing to other
arrangements of the architecture into which I have no time to enter,
they are merely projecting tablets, or flat-bottomed brackets of stone,
projecting from the wall. Each bracket is about a foot and a half
square, and is shaped thus (_fig._ 13), showing to the spectator, as he
walks beneath, the flat bottom of each bracket, quite in the shade, but
within a couple of feet of the eye, and lighted by the reflected light
from the pavement. The whole of the surface of the wall round the great
entrance is covered with bas-relief, as a matter of course; but the
architect appears to have been jealous of the smallest space which was
well within the range of sight; and the _bottom_ of every bracket is
decorated also--nor that slightly, but decorated with no fewer than _six
figures each, besides a flower border_, in a space, as I said, _not
quite a foot and a half square_. The shape of the field to be decorated
being a kind of quatre-foil, as shown in _fig._ 13, four small figures
are placed, one in each foil, and two larger ones in the center. I had
only time, in passing through the town, to make a drawing of one of the
angles of these pedestals; that sketch I have enlarged, in order that
you may have some idea of the character of the sculpture. Here is the
enlargement of it (_fig._ 15). Now observe, this is _one_ of the angles
of the bottom of a pedestal, not two feet broad, on the outside of a
Gothic building; it contains only one of the four little figures which
form those angles; and it shows you the head only of one of the larger
figures in the center. Yet just observe how much design, how much
wonderful composition, there is in this mere fragment of a building of
the great times; a fragment, literally no larger than a school-boy could
strike off in wantonness with a stick: and yet I cannot tell you how
much care has been spent--not so much on the execution, for it does not
take much trouble to execute well on so small a scale--but on the
design, of this minute fragment. You see it is composed of a branch of
wild roses, which switches round at the angle, embracing the minute
figure of the bishop, and terminates in a spray reaching nearly to the
head of the large figure. You will observe how beautifully that figure
is thus _pointed to_ by the spray of rose, and how all the leaves around
it in the same manner are subservient to the grace of its action. Look,
if I hide one line, or one rosebud, how the whole is injured, and how
much there is to study in the detail of it. Look at this little diamond
crown, with a lock of the hair escaping from beneath it; and at the
beautiful way in which the tiny leaf at _a_, is set in the angle to
prevent its harshness; and having examined this well, consider what a
treasure of thought there is in a cathedral front, a hundred feet wide,
every inch of which is wrought with sculpture like this! And every front
of our thirteenth century cathedrals is inwrought with sculpture of this
quality! And yet you quietly allow yourselves to be told that the men
who thus wrought were barbarians, and that your architects are
wiser and better in covering your walls with sculpture of this kind
(_fig._ 14, Plate VIII.)

[Illustration: PLATE IX. (Fig. 15.)]

[Illustration: PLATE X. (Fig. 16.)]

38. Walk round your Edinburgh buildings, and look at the height of your
eye, what you will get from them. Nothing but square-cut
stone--square-cut stone--a wilderness of square-cut stone forever and
forever; so that your houses look like prisons, and truly are so; for
the worst feature of Greek architecture is, indeed, not its costliness,
but its tyranny. These square stones are not prisons of the body, but
graves of the soul; for the very men who could do sculpture like this of
Lyons for you are here! still here, in your despised workmen: the race
has not degenerated, it is you who have bound them down, and buried them
beneath your Greek stones. There would be a resurrection of them, as of
renewed souls, if you would only lift the weight of these weary walls
from off their hearts.[17]

[Footnote 17: This subject is farther pursued in the Addenda at the end
of this Lecture.]

39. But I am leaving the point immediately in question, which, you will
remember, was the proper adaptation of ornament to its distance from the
eye. I have given you one example of Gothic ornament, meant to be seen
close; now let me give you one of Gothic ornament intended to be seen
far off. Here (_fig._ 16) is a sketch of a niche at Amiens Cathedral,
some fifty or sixty feet high on the façade, and seven or eight feet
wide. Now observe, in the ornament close to the eye, you had _six
figures_ and a whole wreath of roses in the space of _a foot and a half_
square; but in the ornament sixty feet from the eye, you have now only
ten or twelve large _leaves_ in a space of _eight feet square_! and note
also that now there is no attempt whatsoever at the refinement of line
and finish of edge which there was in the other example. The sculptor
knew that, at the height of this niche, people would not attend to the
delicate lines, and that the broad shadows would catch the eye instead.
He has therefore left, as you see, rude square edges to his niche, and
carved his leaves as massively and broadly as possible: and yet, observe
how dexterously he has given you a sense of delicacy and minuteness in
the work, by mingling these small leaves among the large ones. I made
this sketch from a photograph, and the spot in which these leaves
occurred was obscure; I have, therefore, used those of the Oxalis
acetosella, of which the quaint form is always interesting.

40. And you see by this example also what I meant just now by saying,
that our own ornament was not only wrongly placed, but wrongly FINISHED.
The very qualities which _fit_ this leaf-decoration for due effect upon
the eye, are those which would _conduce to economy_ in its execution. A
more expensive ornament would be less effective; and it is the very
price we pay for finishing our decorations which spoils our
architecture. And the curious thing is, that while you all appreciate,
and that far too highly, what is called "the bold style" in painting,
you cannot appreciate it in sculpture. You like a hurried, broad,
dashing manner of execution in a water-color drawing, though that may be
seen as near as you choose, and yet you refuse to admit the nobleness of
a bold, simple, and dashing stroke of the chisel in work which is to be
seen forty fathoms off. Be assured that "handling" is as great a thing
in marble as in paint, and that the power of producing a masterly effect
with few touches is as essential in an architect as in a draughtsman;
though indeed that power is never perfectly attained except by those who
possess the power of giving the highest finish when there is occasion.

41. But there is yet another and a weightier charge to be brought
against our modern Pseudo-Greek ornamentation. It is, first, wrongly
placed; secondly, wrongly finished; and, thirdly, utterly _without
meaning_. Observe in these two Gothic ornaments, and in every other
ornament that ever was carved in the great Gothic times, there is a
definite aim at the representation of some natural object. In _fig._ 15
you have an exquisite group of rose-stems, with the flowers and buds; in
_fig._ 16, various wild weeds, especially the Geranium pratense; in
every case you have an approximation to a natural form, and an unceasing
variety of suggestion. But how much of Nature have you in your Greek
buildings? I will show you, taking for an example the best you have
lately built; and, in doing so, I trust that nothing that I say will be
thought to have any personal purpose, and that the architect of the
building in question will forgive me; for it is just because it is a
good example of the style that I think it more fair to use it for an
example. If the building were a bad one of the kind, it would not be a
fair instance; and I hope, therefore, that in speaking of the
institution on the Mound, just in progress, I shall be understood as
meaning rather a compliment to its architect than otherwise. It is not
his fault that we force him to build in the Greek manner.

42. Now, according to the orthodox practice in modern architecture, the
most delicate and minute pieces of sculpture on that building are at the
very top of it, just under its gutter. You cannot see them in a dark
day, and perhaps may never, to this hour, have noticed them at all. But
there they are: sixty-six finished heads of lions, all exactly the same;
and, therefore, I suppose, executed on some noble Greek type, too noble
to allow any modest Modern to think of improving upon it. But whether
executed on a Greek type or no, it is to be presumed that, as there are
sixty-six of them alike, and on so important a building as that which is
to contain your school of design, and which is the principal example of
the Athenian style in modern Athens, there must be something especially
admirable in them, and deserving your most attentive contemplation. In
order, therefore, that you might have a fair opportunity of estimating
their beauty, I was desirous of getting a sketch of a real lion's head
to compare with them, and my friend Mr. Millais kindly offered to draw
both the one and the other for me. You have not, however, at present, a
lion in your zoological collection; and it being, as you are probably
aware, the first principle of Pre-Raphaelitism, as well as essential to
my object in the present instance, that no drawing should be made except
from Nature itself, I was obliged to be content with a tiger's head,
which, however, will answer my purpose just as well, in enabling you to
compare a piece of true, faithful, and natural work with modern
architectural sculpture. Here, in the first place, is Mr. Millais'
drawing from the _living_ beast (_fig._ 17, frontispiece). I have not
the least fear but that you will at once acknowledge its truth and feel
its power. Prepare yourselves next for the Grecian sublimity of the
_ideal_ beast, from the cornice of your schools of design. Behold it
(_fig._ 18).

43. Now we call ourselves civilized and refined in matters of art, but I
assure you it is seldom that, in the very basest and coarsest grotesques
of the inferior Gothic workmen, anything so contemptible as this head
can be ever found. _They_ only sink into such a failure accidentally,
and in a single instance; and we, in our civilization, repeat this noble
piece of work threescore and six times over, as not being able to invent
anything else so good! Do not think Mr. Millais has caricatured it. It
is drawn with the strictest fidelity; photograph one of the heads
to-morrow, and you will find the photograph tell you the same tale.
Neither imagine that this is an unusual example of modern work. Your
banks and public offices are covered with ideal lions' heads in every
direction, and you will find them all just as bad as this. And, farther,
note that the admission of such barbarous types of sculpture is not
_merely_ ridiculous; it is seriously harmful to your powers of
perceiving truth or beauty of any kind or at any time. Imagine the
effect on the minds of your children of having such representations of a
lion's head as this thrust upon them perpetually; and consider what a
different effect might be produced upon them if, instead of this barren
and insipid absurdity, every boss on your buildings were, according to
the workman's best ability, a faithful rendering of the form of some
existing animal, so that all their walls were so many pages of natural
history. And, finally, consider the difference, with respect to the mind
of the workman himself, between being kept all his life carving, by
sixties, and forties, and thirties, repetitions of one false and futile
model,--and being sent, for every piece of work he had to execute, to
make a stern and faithful study from some living creature of God.

[Illustration: PLATE XI. (Fig. 17., Fig. 18.)]

44. And this last consideration enables me to press this subject on you
on far higher grounds than I have done yet.

I have hitherto appealed only to your national pride, or to your common
sense; but surely I should treat a Scottish audience with indignity if I
appealed not finally to something higher than either of them,--to their
religious principles.

You know how often it is difficult to be wisely charitable, to do good
without multiplying the sources of evil. You know that to give alms is
nothing unless you give thought also; and that therefore it is written,
not "blessed is he that _feedeth_ the poor," but, "blessed is he that
_considereth_ the poor." And you know that a little thought and a little
kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money.

45. Now this charity of thought is not merely to be exercised towards
the poor; it is to be exercised towards all men. There is assuredly no
action of our social life, however unimportant, which, by kindly
thought, may not be made to have a beneficial influence upon others; and
it is impossible to spend the smallest sum of money, for any not
absolutely necessary purpose, without a grave responsibility attaching
to the manner of spending it. The object we ourselves covet may, indeed,
be desirable and harmless, so far as we are concerned, but the providing
us with it may, perhaps, be a very prejudicial occupation to some one
else. And then it becomes instantly a moral question, whether we are to
indulge ourselves or not. Whatever we wish to buy, we ought first to
consider not only if the thing be fit for us, but if the manufacture of
it be a wholesome and happy one; and if, on the whole, the sum we are
going to spend will do as much good spent in this way as it would if
spent in any other way. It may be said that we have not time to consider
all this before we make a purchase. But no time could be spent in a more
important duty; and God never imposes a duty without giving the time to
do it. Let us, however, only acknowledge the principle;--once make up
your mind to allow the consideration of the _effect_ of your purchases
to regulate the _kind_ of your purchase, and you will soon easily find
grounds enough to decide upon. The plea of ignorance will never take
away our responsibilities. It is written, "If thou sayest, Behold, we
knew it not; doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it? and He
that keepeth thy soul, doth not He know it?"

46. I could press this on you at length, but I hasten to apply the
principle to the subject of art. I will do so broadly at first, and then
come to architecture. Enormous sums are spent annually by this country
in what is called patronage of art, but in what is for the most part
merely buying what strikes our fancies. True and judicious patronage
there is indeed; many a work of art is bought by those who do not care
for its possession, to assist the struggling artist, or relieve the
unsuccessful one. But for the most part, I fear we are too much in the
habit of buying simply what we like best, wholly irrespective of any
good to be done, either to the artist or to the schools of the country.
Now let us remember, that every farthing we spend on objects of art has
influence over men's minds and spirits, far more than over their bodies.
By the purchase of every print which hangs on your walls, of every cup
out of which you drink, and every table off which you eat your bread,
you are educating a mass of men in one way or another. You are either
employing them healthily or unwholesomely; you are making them lead
happy or unhappy lives; you are leading them to look at Nature, and to
love her--to think, to feel, to enjoy,--or you are blinding them to
Nature, and keeping them bound, like beasts of burden, in mechanical and
monotonous employments. We shall all be asked one day, why we did not
think more of this.

47. "Well, but," you will say, "how can we decide what we ought to buy,
but by our likings? You would not have us buy what we don't like?" No,
but I would have you thoroughly sure that there _is_ an absolute right
and wrong in all art, and try to find out the right, and like that; and,
secondly, sometimes to sacrifice a careless preference or fancy, to what
you know is for the good of your fellow-creatures. For instance, when
you spend a guinea upon an engraving, what have you done? You have paid
a man for a certain number of hours to sit at a dirty table, in a dirty
room, inhaling the fumes of nitric acid, stooping over a steel plate, on
which, by the help of a magnifying glass, he is, one by one, laboriously
cutting out certain notches and scratches, of which the effect is to be
the copy of another man's work. You cannot suppose you have done a very
charitable thing in this! On the other hand, whenever you buy a small
water-color drawing, you have employed a man happily and healthily,
working in a clean room (if he likes), or more probably still, out in
the pure country and fresh air, thinking about something, and learning
something every moment; not straining his eyesight, nor breaking his
back, but working in ease and happiness. Therefore if you _can_ like a
modest water-color better than an elaborate engraving, do. There may
indeed be engravings which are worth the suffering it costs to produce
them; but at all events, engravings of public dinners and laying of
foundation-stones, and such things, might be dispensed with. The
engraving ought to be a first-rate picture of a first-rate subject to be
worth buying.

48. Farther, I know that many conscientious persons are desirous of
encouraging art, but feel at the same time that their judgment is not
certain enough to secure their choice of the best kind of art. To such
persons I would now especially address myself, fully admitting the
greatness of their difficulty. It is not an easy thing to acquire a
knowledge of painting; and it is by no means a desirable thing to
encourage bad painting. One bad painter makes another, and one bad
painting will often spoil a great many healthy judgments. I could name
popular painters now living, who have retarded the taste of their
generation by twenty years. Unless, therefore, we are certain not merely
that we like a painting, but that we are _right_ in liking it, we should
never buy it. For there is one way of spending money which is perfectly
safe, and in which we may be absolutely sure of doing good. I mean, by
paying for simple sculpture of natural objects, chiefly flowers and
animals. You are aware that the possibilities of error in sculpture are
much less than in painting; it is altogether an easier and simpler art,
invariably attaining perfection long before painting, in the progress of
a national mind. It may indeed be corrupted by false taste, or thrown
into erroneous forms; but for the most part, the feebleness of a
sculptor is shown in imperfection and rudeness, rather than in definite
error. He does not reach the fineness of the forms of Nature; but he
approaches them truly up to a certain point, or, if not so, at all
events an honest effort will continually improve him: so that if we set
a simple natural form before him, and tell him to copy it, we are sure
we have given him a wholesome and useful piece of education; but if we
told him to paint it, he might, with all the honesty in the world, paint
it wrongly and falsely, to the end of his days.

49. So much for the workman. But the workman is not the only person
concerned. Observe farther, that when you buy a print, the enjoyment of
it is confined to yourself and to your friends. But if you carve a piece
of stone, and put it on the outside of your house, it will give pleasure
to every person who passes along the street--to an innumerable
multitude, instead of a few.

Nay, but, you say, we ourselves shall not be benefited by the sculpture
on the outsides of our houses. Yes, you will, and in an extraordinary
degree; for, observe farther, that architecture differs from painting
peculiarly in being an art of _accumulation_. The prints bought by your
friends, and hung up in their houses, have no collateral effect with
yours: they must be separately examined, and if ever they were hung side
by side, they would rather injure than assist each other's effect. But
the sculpture on your friend's house unites in effect with that on your
own. The two houses form one grand mass--far grander than either
separately; much more if a third be added--and a fourth; much more if
the whole street--if the whole city--join in the solemn harmony of
sculpture. Your separate possessions of pictures and prints are to you
as if you sang pieces of music with your single voices in your own
houses. But your architecture would be as if you all sang together in
one mighty choir. In the separate picture, it is rare that there exists
any very high source of sublime emotion; but the great concerted music
of the streets of the city, when turret rises over turret, and casement
frowns beyond casement, and tower succeeds to tower along the farthest
ridges of the inhabited hills,--this is a sublimity of which you can at
present form no conception; and capable, I believe, of exciting almost
the deepest emotion that art can ever strike from the bosoms of men.

And justly the deepest: for it is a law of God and of Nature, that your
pleasures--as your virtues--shall be enhanced by mutual aid. As, by
joining hand in hand, you can sustain each other best, so, hand in hand,
you can delight each other best. And there is indeed a charm and
sacredness in street architecture which must be wanting even to that of
the temple: it is a little thing for men to unite in the forms of a
religious service, but it is much for them to unite, like true brethren,
in the arts and offices of their daily lives.

50. And now, I can conceive only of one objection as likely still to
arise in your minds, which I must briefly meet. Your pictures, and other
smaller works of art, you can carry with you, wherever you live; your
house must be left behind. Indeed, I believe that the wandering habits
which have now become almost necessary to our existence, lie more at the
root of our bad architecture than any other character of modern times.
We always look upon our houses as mere temporary lodgings. We are always
hoping to get larger and finer ones, or are forced, in some way or
other, to live where we do not choose, and in continual expectation of
changing our place of abode. In the present state of society, this is in
a great measure unavoidable; but let us remember it is an _evil_; and
that so far as it _is_ avoidable, it becomes our duty to check the
impulse. It is not for me to lead you at present into any consideration
of a matter so closely touching your private interests and feelings; but
it surely is a subject for serious thought, whether it might not be
better for many of us, if, on attaining a certain position in life, we
determined, with God's permission, to choose a home in which to live and
die,--a home not to be increased by adding stone to stone and field to
field, but which, being enough for all our wishes at that period, we
should resolve to be satisfied with forever. Consider this; and also,
whether we ought not to be more in the habit of seeking honor from our
descendants than our ancestors; thinking it better to be nobly
remembered than nobly born; and striving so to live, that our sons, and
our sons' sons, for ages to come, might still lead their children
reverently to the doors out of which we had been carried to the grave,
saying, "Look: This was his house: This was his chamber."

51. I believe that you can bring forward no other serious objection to
the principles for which I am pleading. They are so simple, and, it
seems to me, so incontrovertible, that I trust you will not leave this
room, without determining, as you have opportunity, to do something to
advance this long-neglected art of domestic architecture. The reasons I
have laid before you would have weight, even were I to ask you to go to
some considerable expenditure beyond what you at present are accustomed
to devote to such purposes; but nothing more would be needed than the
diversion of expenditures, at present scattered and unconsidered, into a
single and effective channel. Nay, the mere interest of the money which
we are accustomed to keep dormant by us in the form of plate and
jewelry, would alone be enough to sustain a school of magnificent
architecture. And although, in highly wrought plate, and in finely
designed jewelry, noble art may occasionally exist, yet in general both
jewels and services of silver are matters of ostentation, much more than
sources of intellectual pleasure. There are also many evils connected
with them--they are a care to their possessors, a temptation to the
dishonest, and a trouble and bitterness to the poor. So that I cannot
but think that part of the wealth which now lies buried in these
doubtful luxuries, might most wisely and kindly be thrown into a form
which would give perpetual pleasure, not to its possessor only, but to
thousands besides, and neither tempt the unprincipled, nor inflame the
envious, nor mortify the poor; while, supposing that your own dignity
was dear to you, this, you may rely upon it, would be more impressed
upon others by the nobleness of your house-walls than by the glistening
of your sideboards.

[Illustration: PLATE XII. (Fig. 19.)]

52. And even supposing that some additional expenditure _were_ required
for this purpose, are we indeed so much poorer than our ancestors, that
we cannot now, in all the power of Britain, afford to do what was done
by every small republic, by every independent city, in the Middle Ages,
throughout France, Italy, and Germany? I am not aware of a vestige of
domestic architecture, belonging to the great mediæval periods, which,
according to its material and character, is not richly decorated. But
look here (_fig._ 19), look to what an extent decoration _has_ been
carried in the domestic edifices of a city, I suppose not much superior
in importance, commercially speaking, to Manchester, Liverpool, or
Birmingham--namely, Rouen, in Normandy. This is a _garret_ window, still
existing there,--a garret window built by William de Bourgtheroude in
the early part of the sixteenth century. I show it you, first, as a
proof of what may be made of the features of domestic buildings we are
apt to disdain; and secondly, as another example of a beautiful use of
the pointed arch, filled by the solid shield of stone, and inclosing a
square casement. It is indeed a peculiarly rich and beautiful instance,
but it is a type of which many examples still exist in France, and of
which many once existed in your own Scotland, of ruder work indeed, but
admirable always in the effect upon the outline of the building.[18]

[Footnote 18: One of the most beautiful instances I know of this kind of
window is in the ancient house of the Maxwells, on the estate of Sir
John Maxwell of Polloc. I had not seen it when I gave this lecture, or I
should have preferred it, as an example, to that of Rouen, with
reference to modern possibilities of imitation.]

53. I do not, however, hope that you will often be able to go as far as
this in decoration; in fact I would rather recommend a simpler style to
you, founded on earlier examples; but, if possible, aided by color,
introduced in various kinds of naturally colored stones. I have
observed that your Scottish lapidaries have admirable taste and skill in
the disposition of the pebbles of your brooches and other ornaments of
dress; and I have not the least doubt that the genius of your country
would, if directed to this particular style of architecture, produce
works as beautiful as they would be thoroughly national. The Gothic of
Florence, which owes at least the half of its beauty to the art of
inlaying, would furnish you with exquisite examples; its sculpture is
indeed the most perfect which was ever produced by the Gothic schools;
but, besides this rich sculpture, all its flat surfaces are inlaid with
colored stones, much being done with a green serpentine, which forms the
greater part of the coast of Genoa. You have, I believe, large beds of
this rock in Scotland, and other stones besides, peculiarly Scottish,
calculated to form as noble a school of color as ever existed.[19]

[Footnote 19: A series of four examples of designs for windows was
exhibited at this point of the lecture, but I have not engraved them, as
they were hastily made for the purposes of momentary illustration, and
are not such as I choose to publish or perpetuate.]

54. And, now, I have but two things more to say to you in conclusion.

Most of the lecturers whom you allow to address you, lay before you
views of the sciences they profess, which are either generally received,
or incontrovertible. I come before you at a disadvantage; for I cannot
conscientiously tell you anything about architecture but what is at
variance with all commonly received views upon the subject. I come
before you, professedly to speak of things forgotten or things disputed;
and I lay before you, not accepted principles, but questions at issue.
Of those questions you are to be the judges, and to you I appeal. You
must not, when you leave this room, if you feel doubtful of the truth of
what I have said, refer yourselves to some architect of established
reputation, and ask him whether I am right or not. You might as well,
had you lived in the sixteenth century, have asked a Roman Catholic
archbishop his opinion of the first reformer. I deny his jurisdiction;
I refuse his decision. I call upon you to be Bereans in architecture, as
you are in religion, and to search into these things for yourselves.
Remember that, however candid a man may be, it is too much to expect of
him when his career in life has been successful, to turn suddenly on the
highway, and to declare that all he has learned has been false, and all
he has done, worthless; yet nothing less than such a declaration as this
must be made by nearly every existing architect, before he admitted the
truth of one word that I have said to you this evening. You must be
prepared, therefore, to hear my opinions attacked with all the virulence
of established interest, and all the pertinacity of confirmed prejudice;
you will hear them made the subjects of every species of satire and
invective; but one kind of opposition to them you will never hear; you
will never hear them met by quiet, steady, rational argument; for that
is the one way in which they _cannot_ be met. You will constantly hear
me accused--you yourselves may be the first to accuse me--of presumption
in speaking thus confidently against the established authority of ages.
Presumption! Yes, if I had spoken on my own authority; but I have
appealed to two incontrovertible and irrefragable witnesses--to the
nature that is around you--to the reason that is within you. And if you
are willing in this matter to take the voice of authority _against_ that
of nature and of reason, take it in other things also. Take it in
religion, as you do in architecture. It is not by a Scottish
audience--not by the descendants of the Reformer and the
Covenanter--that I expected to be met with a refusal to believe that the
world might possibly have been wrong for _three_ hundred years, in their
ways of carving stones and setting up of pillars, when they know that
they were wrong for _twelve_ hundred years, in their marking how the
roads divided, that led to Hell and Heaven.

55. You must expect at first that there will be difficulties and
inconsistencies in carrying out the new style; but they will soon be
conquered if you attempt not too much at once. Do not be afraid of
incongruities--do not think of unities of effect. Introduce your Gothic
line by line and stone by stone; never mind mixing it with your present
architecture; your existing houses will be none the worse for having
little bits of better work fitted to them; build a porch, or point a
window, if you can do nothing else; and remember that it is the glory of
Gothic architecture that it can do _anything_. Whatever you really and
seriously want, Gothic will do for you; but it must be an _earnest_
want. It is its pride to accommodate itself to your needs; and the one
general law under which it acts is simply this,--find out what will make
you comfortable, build that in the strongest and boldest way, and then
set your fancy free in the decoration of it. Don't do anything to
imitate this cathedral or that, however beautiful. Do what is
convenient; and if the form be a new one, so much the better; then set
your mason's wits to work, to find out some new way of treating it. Only
be steadily determined that, even if you cannot get the best Gothic, at
least you will have no Greek; and in a few years' time--in less time
than you could learn a new science or a new language thoroughly--the
whole art of your native country will be reanimated.

56. And, now, lastly. When this shall be accomplished, do not think it
will make little difference to you, and that you will be little the
happier, or little the better for it. You have at present no conception,
and can have none, how much you would enjoy a truly beautiful
architecture; but I can give you a proof of it which none of you will be
able to deny. You will all assuredly admit this principle,--that
whatever temporal things are spoken of in the Bible as emblems of the
highest spiritual blessings, must be _good things_ in themselves. You
would allow that bread, for instance, would not have been used as an
emblem of the word of life, unless it had been good, and necessary for
man; nor water used as the emblem of sanctification, unless it also had
been good and necessary for man. You will allow that oil, and honey, and
balm are good, when David says, "Let the righteous reprove me; it shall
be an excellent oil;" or, "How sweet are thy words unto my taste; yea,
sweeter than honey to my mouth;" or, when Jeremiah cries out in his
weeping, "Is there no balm in Gilead? is there no physician there?" You
would admit at once that the man who said there was no taste in the
literal honey, and no healing in the literal balm, must be of distorted
judgment, since God had used them as emblems of spiritual sweetness and
healing. And how, then, will you evade the conclusion, that there must
be joy, and comfort, and instruction in the literal beauty of
architecture, when God, descending in His utmost love to the distressed
Jerusalem, and addressing to her His most precious and solemn promises,
speaks to her in such words as these: "Oh, thou afflicted, tossed with
tempest, and not comforted,"--What shall be done to her?--What brightest
emblem of blessing will God set before her? "Behold, I will _lay thy
stones with fair colors_, and thy foundations with sapphires; and I will
make thy _windows of agates_, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy
borders of pleasant stones." Nor is this merely an emblem of spiritual
blessing; for that blessing is added in the concluding words, "And all
thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace
of thy children."




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

1. That Gothic or Romanesque construction is nobler than Greek

2. That ornamentation is the principal part of architecture.

3. That ornamentation should be visible.

4. That ornamentation should be natural.

5. That ornamentation should be thoughtful.

6. And that therefore Gothic ornamentation is nobler than Greek
ornamentation, and Gothic architecture the only architecture which
should now be built.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

67. Proposition 3d.--_Ornamentation should be visible._

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. Conventionalism by cause of color.

B. Conventionalism by cause of inferiority.

C. Conventionalism by cause of means.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote 27: The character of Renaissance architecture, and the spirit
which dictated its adoption, may be remembered as having been centered
and symbolized in the palace of Versailles; whose site was chosen by
Louis the Fourteenth, in order that from thence he might _not_ see St.
Denis, the burial-place of his family. The cost of the palace in
twenty-seven years is stated in "The Builder," for March 18th, 1854, to
have been £3,246,000 money of that period, equal to about seven millions
now (£900,000 having been expended in the year 1686 alone). The building
is thus notably illustrative of the two feelings which were stated in
the "Stones of Venice," to be peculiarly characteristic of the
Renaissance spirit, the Pride of State and Fear of Death. Compare the
horror of Louis the Fourteenth at the sight of the tower of St. Denis,
with the feeling which prompted the Scaligeri at Verona to set their
tombs within fifteen feet of their palace walls.]

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

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

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



_Delivered November 15, 1853._

77. My object this evening is not so much to give you any account of the
works or the genius of the great painter whom we have so lately lost
(which it would require rather a year than an hour to do), as to give
you some idea of the position which his works hold with respect to the
landscape of other periods, and of the general condition and prospects
of the landscape art of the present day. I will not lose time in
prefatory remarks, as I have little enough at any rate, but will enter
abruptly on my subject.

78. You are all of you well aware that landscape seems hardly to have
exercised any strong influence, as such, on any pagan nation or pagan
artist. I have no time to enter into any details on this, of course,
most intricate and difficult subject; but I will only ask you to
observe, that wherever natural scenery is alluded to by the ancients, it
is either agriculturally, with the kind of feeling that a good Scotch
farmer has; sensually, in the enjoyment of sun or shade, cool winds or
sweet scents; fearfully, in a mere vulgar dread of rocks and desolate
places, as compared with the comfort of cities; or, finally,
superstitiously, in the personification or deification of natural
powers, generally with much degradation of their impressiveness, as in
the paltry fables of Ulysses receiving the winds in bags from Æolus, and
of the Cyclops hammering lightning sharp at the ends, on an anvil.[29]
Of course, you will here and there find feeble evidences of a higher
sensibility, chiefly, I think, in Plato, Æschylus, Aristophanes, and
Virgil. Homer, though in the epithets he applies to landscape always
thoroughly graphic, uses the same epithet for rocks, seas, and trees,
from one end of his poem to the other, evidently without the smallest
interest in anything of the kind; and in the mass of heathen writers,
the absence of sensation on these subjects is singularly painful. For
instance, in that, to my mind, most disgusting of all so-called poems,
the Journey to Brundusium, you remember that Horace takes exactly as
much interest in the scenery he is passing through as Sancho Panza would
have done.

[Footnote 29: Of course I do not mean by calling these fables "paltry,"
to dispute their neatness, ingenuity, or moral depth; but only their
want of apprehension of the extent and awfulness of the phenomena
introduced. So also, in denying Homer's interest in nature, I do not
mean to deny his accuracy of observation, or his power of seizing on the
main points of landscape, but I deny the power of landscape over his
heart, unless when closely associated with, and altogether subordinate
to, some human interest.]

79. You will find, on the other hand, that the language of the Bible is
specifically distinguished from all other early literature, by its
delight in natural imagery; and that the dealings of God with His people
are calculated peculiarly to awaken this sensibility within them. Out of
the monotonous valley of Egypt they are instantly taken into the midst
of the mightiest mountain scenery in the peninsula of Arabia; and that
scenery is associated in their minds with the immediate manifestation
and presence of the Divine Power; so that mountains forever afterwards
become invested with a peculiar sacredness in their minds: while their
descendants being placed in what was then one of the loveliest districts
upon the earth, full of glorious vegetation, bounded on one side by the
sea, on the north by "that goodly mountain" Lebanon, on the south and
east by deserts, whose barrenness enhanced by their contrast the sense
of the perfection of beauty in their own land, they became, by these
means, and by the touch of God's own hand upon their hearts, sensible to
the appeal of natural scenery in a way in which no other people were at
the time. And their literature is full of expressions, not only
testifying a vivid sense of the power of nature over man, but showing
that _sympathy with natural things themselves_, as if they had human
souls, which is the especial characteristic of true love of the works of
God. I intended to have insisted on this sympathy at greater length, but
I found, only two or three days ago, much of what I had to say to you
anticipated in a little book, unpretending, but full of interest, "The
Lamp and the Lantern," by Dr. James Hamilton; and I will therefore only
ask you to consider such expressions as that tender and glorious verse
in Isaiah, speaking of the cedars on the mountains as rejoicing over the
fall of the king of Assyria: "Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and
the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since _thou_ art gone down to the grave,
no feller is come up against us." See what sympathy there is here, as if
with the very hearts of the trees themselves. So also in the words of
Christ, in His personification of the lilies: "They toil not, neither do
they spin." Consider such expressions as, "The sea saw that, and fled.
Jordan was driven back. The mountains skipped like rams; and the little
hills like lambs." Try to find anything in profane writing like this;
and note farther that the whole book of Job appears to have been chiefly
written and placed in the inspired volume in order to show the value of
natural history, and its power on the human heart. I cannot pass by it
without pointing out the evidences of the beauty of the country that Job
inhabited.[30] Observe, first, it was an arable country. "The oxen were
plowing and the asses feeding beside them." It was a pastoral country:
his substance, besides camels and asses, was 7,000 sheep. It was a
mountain country, fed by streams descending from the high snows. "My
brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, and as the stream of brooks
they pass away; which are blackish by reason of the ice, and wherein the
snow is hid: What time they wax warm they vanish: when it is hot they
are consumed out of their place." Again: "If I wash myself with snow
water, and make my hands never so clean." Again: "Drought and heat
consume the snow waters." It was a rocky country, with forests and
verdure rooted in the rocks. "His branch shooteth forth in his garden;
his roots are wrapped about the heap, and seeth the place of stones."
Again: "Thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field." It was a
place visited, like the valleys of Switzerland, by convulsions and falls
of mountains. "Surely the mountain falling cometh to nought, and the
rock is removed out of his place. The waters wear the stones; thou
washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth." "He
removeth the mountains and they know not: he overturneth them in his
anger." "He putteth forth his hand upon the rock: he overturneth the
mountains by the roots: he cutteth out rivers among the rocks." I have
not time to go farther into this; but you see Job's country was one like
your own, full of pleasant brooks and rivers, rushing among the rocks,
and of all other sweet and noble elements of landscape. The magnificent
allusions to natural scenery throughout the book are therefore
calculated to touch the heart to the end of time.

[Footnote 30: This passage, respecting the book of Job, was omitted in
the delivery of the Lecture, for want of time.]

80. Then at the central point of Jewish prosperity, you have the first
great naturalist the world ever saw, Solomon; not permitted, indeed, to
anticipate, in writing, the discoveries of modern times, but so gifted
as to show us that heavenly wisdom is manifested as much in the
knowledge of the hyssop that springeth out of the wall as in political
and philosophical speculation.

The books of the Old Testament, as distinguished from all other early
writings, are thus prepared for an everlasting influence over humanity;
and, finally, Christ himself, setting the concluding example to the
conduct and thoughts of men, spends nearly His whole life in the fields,
the mountains, or the small country villages of Judea; and in the very
closing scenes of His life, will not so much as sleep within the walls
of Jerusalem, but rests at the little village of Bethphage, walking in
the morning, and returning in the evening, through the peaceful avenues
of the Mount of Olives, to and from His work of teaching in the temple.

81. It would thus naturally follow, both from the general tone and
teaching of the Scriptures, and from the example of our Lord himself,
that wherever Christianity was preached and accepted, there would be an
immediate interest awakened in the works of God, as seen in the natural
world: and, accordingly, this is the second universal and distinctive
character of Christian art, as distinguished from all pagan work; the
first being a peculiar spirituality in its conception of the human form,
preferring holiness of expression and strength of character, to beauty
of features or of body; and the second, as I say, its intense fondness
for natural objects--animals, leaves, and flowers,--inducing an
immediate transformation of the cold and lifeless pagan ornamentation
into vivid imagery of nature. Of course this manifestation of feeling
was at first checked by the circumstances under which the Christian
religion was disseminated. The art of the first three centuries is
entirely subordinate,--restrained partly by persecution, partly by a
high spirituality, which cared much more about preaching than painting;
and then when, under Constantine, Christianity became the religion of
the Roman empire, myriads of persons gave the aid of their wealth and of
their art to the new religion, who were Christians in nothing but the
name, and who decorated a Christian temple just as they would have
decorated a pagan one, merely because the new religion had become
Imperial. Then, just as the new art was beginning to assume a
distinctive form, down came the northern barbarians upon it; and all
their superstitions had to be leavened with it, and all their hard hands
and hearts softened by it, before their art could appear in anything
like a characteristic form. The warfare in which Europe was perpetually
plunged retarded this development for ages; but it steadily and
gradually prevailed, working from the eighth to the eleventh century
like a seed in the ground, showing little signs of life, but still, if
carefully examined, changing essentially every day and every hour: at
last, in the twelfth century the blade appears above the black earth;
in the thirteenth, the plant is in full leaf.

82. I begin, then, with the thirteenth century, and must now make to you
a general assertion, which, if you will note down and examine at your
leisure, you will find true and useful, though I have not time at
present to give you full demonstration of it.

I say, then, that the art of the thirteenth century is the foundation of
all art--nor merely the foundation, but the root of it; that is to say,
succeeding art is not merely built upon it, but was all comprehended in
it, and is developed out of it. Passing this great century, we find
three successive branches developed from it, in each of the three
following centuries. The fourteenth century is pre-eminently the age of
_Thought_, the fifteenth the age of _Drawing_, and the sixteenth the age
of _Painting_.

83. Observe, first, the fourteenth century is pre-eminently the age of
thought. It begins with the first words of the poem of Dante; and all
the great pictorial poems--the mighty series of works in which
everything is done to relate, but nothing to imitate--belong to this
century. I should only confuse you by giving you the names of marvelous
artists, most of them little familiar to British ears, who adorned this
century in Italy; but you will easily remember it as the age of Dante
and Giotto--the age of _Thought_.

The men of the succeeding century (the fifteenth) felt that they could
not rival their predecessors in invention, but might excel them in
execution. Original thoughts belonging to this century are comparatively
rare; even Raphael and Michael Angelo themselves borrowed all their
principal ideas and plans of pictures from their predecessors; but they
executed them with a precision up to that time unseen. You must
understand by the word "drawing," the perfect rendering of forms,
whether in sculpture or painting; and then remember the fifteenth
century as the age of Leonardo, Michael Angelo, Lorenzo Ghiberti, and
Raphael--pre-eminently the age of _Drawing_.

[Illustration: PLATE XIII. (Fig. 20., Fig. 21.)]

The sixteenth century produced the four greatest _Painters_, that is to
say, managers of color, whom the world has seen; namely, Tintoret, Paul
Veronese, Titian, and Correggio. I need not say more to justify my
calling it the age of _Painting_.

84. This, then, being the state of things respecting art in general, let
us next trace the career of landscape through these centuries.

It was only towards the close of the thirteenth century that figure
painting began to assume so perfect a condition as to require some
elaborate suggestion of landscape background. Up to that time, if any
natural object had to be represented, it was done in an entirely
conventional way, as you see it upon Greek vases, or in a Chinese
porcelain pattern; an independent tree or flower being set upon the
white ground, or ground of any color, wherever there was a vacant space
for it, without the smallest attempt to imitate the real colors and
relations of the earth and sky about it. But at the close of the
thirteenth century, Giotto, and in the course of the fourteenth,
Orcagna, sought, for the first time, to give some resemblance to nature
in their backgrounds, and introduced behind their figures pieces of true
landscape, formal enough still, but complete in intention, having
foregrounds and distances, sky and water, forests and mountains,
carefully delineated, not exactly in their true color, but yet in color
approximating to the truth. The system which they introduced (for though
in many points enriched above the work of earlier ages, the Orcagna and
Giotto landscape was a very complete piece of recipe) was observed for a
long period by their pupils, and may be thus briefly described:--The sky
is always pure blue, paler at the horizon, and with a few streaky white
clouds in it, the ground is green even to the extreme distance, with
brown rocks projecting from it; water is blue streaked with white. The
trees are nearly always composed of clusters of their proper leaves
relieved on a black or dark ground, thus (_fig._ 20).[31] And observe
carefully, with respect to the complete drawing of the leaves on this
tree, and the smallness of their number, the real distinction between
noble conventionalism and false conventionalism. You will often hear
modern architects defending their monstrous ornamentation on the ground
that it is "conventional," and that architectural ornament ought to be
conventionalized. Remember, when you hear this, that noble
conventionalism is not an agreement between the artist and spectator
that the one shall misrepresent nature sixty times over, and the other
believe the misrepresentation sixty times over, but it is an agreement
that certain means and limitations being prescribed, only that _kind of
truth_ is to be expected which is consistent with those means. For
instance, if Sir Joshua Reynolds had been talking to a friend about the
character of a face, and there had been nothing in the room but a deal
table and an inkbottle--and no pens--Sir Joshua would have dipped his
finger in the ink, and painted a portrait on the table with his finger,
and a noble portrait too; certainly not delicate in outline, nor
representing any of the qualities of the face dependent on rich outline,
but getting as much of the face as in that manner was attainable. That
is noble conventionalism, and Egyptian work on granite, or illuminator's
work in glass, is all conventional in the same sense, but not
conventionally false. The two noblest and truest carved lions I have
ever seen, are the two granite ones in the Egyptian room of the British
Museum, and yet in them, the lions' manes and beards are represented by
rings of solid rock, as smooth as a mirror!

[Footnote 31: Having no memoranda of my own, taken from Giotto's
landscape, I had this tree copied from an engraving; but I imagine the
rude termination of the stems to be a misrepresentation. Fig. 21 is
accurately copied from a MS., certainly executed between 1250 and 1270,
and is more truly characteristic of the early manner.]

85. There are indeed one or two other conditions of noble
conventionalism, notice more fully in the Addenda (§§ 68-71); but you
will find that they always consist in _stopping short_ of nature, not in
falsifying nature; and thus in Giotto's foliage, he _stops short_ of the
quantity of leaves on the real tree, but he gives you the form of the
leaves represented with perfect truth. His foreground also is nearly
always occupied by flowers and herbage, carefully and individually
painted from nature; while, although thus simple in plan, the
arrangements of line in these landscapes of course show the influence of
the master-mind, and sometimes, where the story requires it, we find the
usual formulæ overleaped, and Giotto at Avignon painting the breakers of
the sea on a steep shore with great care, while Orcagna, in his Triumph
of Death, has painted a thicket of brambles mixed with teazles, in a
manner worthy of the best days of landscape art.

[Illustration: PLATE XIV. (Fig. 22.)]

86. Now from the landscape of these two men to the landscape of Raphael,
Leonardo, and Perugino, the advance consists principally in two great
steps: The first, that distant objects were more or less invested with a
blue color,--the second, that trees were no longer painted with a black
ground, but with a rich dark brown, or deep green. From Giotto's old
age, to the youth of Raphael, the advance in, and knowledge of,
landscape, consisted of no more than these two simple steps; but the
_execution_ of landscape became infinitely more perfect and elaborate.
All the flowers and leaves in the foreground were worked out with the
same perfection as the features of the figures; in the middle distance
the brown trees were most delicately defined against the sky; the blue
mountains in the extreme distance were exquisitely thrown into aërial
gradations, and the sky and clouds were perfect in transparency and
softness. But still there is no real advance in knowledge of natural
objects. The leaves and flowers are, indeed, admirably painted, and
thrown into various intricate groupings, such as Giotto could not have
attempted, but the rocks and water are still as conventional and
imperfect as ever, except only in color: the forms of rock in Leonardo's
celebrated "Vierge aux Rochers" are literally no better than those on a
china plate. _Fig._ 22 shows a portion of them in mere outline, with one
cluster of the leaves above, and the distant "ideal" mountains. On the
whole, the most satisfactory work of the period is that which most
resembles missal painting, that is to say, which is fullest of beautiful
flowers and animals scattered among the landscape, in the old
independent way, like the birds upon a screen. The landscape of Benozzo
Gozzoli is exquisitely rich in incident of this kind.

87. The first man who entirely broke through the conventionality of his
time, and painted pure landscape, was Masaccio, but he died too young to
effect the revolution of which his genius was capable. It was left for
other men to accomplish, namely, for Correggio and Titian. These two
painters were the first who relieved the foregrounds of their landscape
from the grotesque, quaint, and crowded formalism of the early painters;
and gave a close approximation to the forms of nature in all things;
retaining, however, thus much of the old system, that the distances were
for the most part painted in deep ultramarine blue, the foregrounds in
rich green and brown; there were no effects of sunshine and shadow, but
a generally quiet glow over the whole scene; and the clouds, though now
rolling in irregular masses, and sometimes richly involved among the
hills, were never varied in conception, or studied from nature. There
were no changes of weather in them, no rain clouds or fair-weather
clouds, nothing but various shapes of the cumulus or cirrus, introduced
for the sake of light on the deep blue sky. Tintoret and Bonifazio
introduced more natural effects into this monotonous landscape: in their
works we meet with showers of rain, with rainbows, sunsets, bright
reflections in water, and so on; but still very subordinate, and
carelessly worked out, so as not to justify us in considering their
landscape as forming a class by itself.

[Illustration: PLATE XV. (Fig. 23.)]

88. _Fig._ 23, which is a branch of a tree from the background of
Titian's "St. Jerome," at Milan, compared with _fig._ 20, will give you
a distinct idea of the kind of change which took place from the time of
Giotto to that of Titian, and you will find that this whole range of
landscape may be conveniently classed in three divisions, namely,
_Giottesque_, _Leonardesque_, and _Titianesque_; the Giottesque
embracing nearly all the work of the fourteenth, the Leonardesque that
of the fifteenth, and the Titianesque that of the sixteenth century. Now
you see there remained a fourth step to be taken,--the doing away
with conventionalism altogether, so as to create the perfect art of
landscape painting. The course of the mind of Europe was to do this; but
at the very moment when it ought to have been done, the art of all
civilized nations was paralyzed at once by the operation of the
poisonous elements of infidelity and classical learning together, as I
have endeavored to show elsewhere. In this paralysis, like a soldier
shot as he is just gaining an eminence, the art of the seventeenth
century struggled forward, and sank upon the spot it had been
endeavoring to attain. The step which should have freed landscape from
conventionalism was actually taken by Claude and Salvator Rosa, but
taken in a state of palsy,--taken so as to lose far more than was
gained. For up to this time, no painter ever had thought of drawing
anything, pebble or blade of grass, or tree or mountain, but as well and
distinctly as he could; and if he could not draw it completely, he drew
it at least in a way which should thoroughly show his knowledge and
feeling of it. For instance, you saw in the oak tree of the Giottesque
period, that the main points of the tree, the true shape of leaf and
acorn, were all there, perfectly and carefully articulated, and so they
continued to be down to the time of Tintoret; both he and Titian working
out the separate leaves of their foliage with the most exquisite
botanical care. But now observe: as Christianity had brought this love
of nature into Paganism, the return of Paganism in the shape of
classical learning at once destroyed this love of nature; and at the
moment when Claude and Salvator made the final effort to paint the
_effects_ of nature faithfully, the _objects_ of nature had ceased to be
regarded with affection; so that, while people were amused and
interested by the new effects of sunsets over green seas, and of
tempests bursting on rocky mountains, which were introduced by the
rising school, they entirely ceased to require on the one side, or
bestow on the other, that care and thought by which alone the beauty of
nature can be understood. The older painting had resembled a careful and
deeply studied diagram, illustrative of the most important facts; it was
not to be understood or relished without application of serious
thought; on the contrary, it developed and addressed the highest powers
of mind belonging to the human race; while the Claude and Salvator
painting was like a scene in a theater, viciously and falsely painted
throughout, and presenting a deceptive appearance of truth to nature;
understood, as far as it went, in a moment, but conveying no accurate
knowledge of anything, and, in all its operations on the mind,
unhealthy, hopeless, and profitless.

89. It was, however, received with avidity; for this main reason, that
the architecture, domestic life, and manners of the period were
gradually getting more and more artificial; as I showed you last
evening, all natural beauty had ceased to be permitted in architectural
decoration, while the habits of society led them more and more to live,
if possible, in cities; and the dress, language, and manners of men in
general were approximating to that horrible and lifeless condition in
which you find them just before the outbreak of the French Revolution.

Now, observe: exactly as hoops, and starch, and false hair, and all that
in mind and heart these things typify and betray, as these, I say,
gained upon men, there was a necessary reaction in favor of the
_natural_. Men had never lived so utterly in defiance of the laws of
nature before; but they could not do this without feeling a strange
charm in that which they defied; and, accordingly, we find this
reactionary sentiment expressing itself in a base school of what was
called _pastoral_ poetry; that is to say, poetry written in praise of
the country, by men who lived in coffee-houses and on the Mall. The
essence of pastoral poetry is the sense of strange delightfulness in
grass, which is occasionally felt by a man who has seldom set his foot
on it; it is essentially the poetry of the cockney, and for the most
part corresponds in its aim and rank, as compared with other literature,
to the porcelain shepherds and shepherdesses on a chimney-piece as
compared with great works of sculpture.

90. Of course all good poetry, descriptive of rural life, is
essentially pastoral, or has the effect of the pastoral on the minds of
men living in cities; but the class of poetry which I mean, and which
you probably understand by the term pastoral, is that in which a
farmer's girl is spoken of as a "nymph," and a farmer's boy as a
"swain," and in which, throughout, a ridiculous and unnatural refinement
is supposed to exist in rural life, merely because the poet himself has
neither had the courage to endure its hardships, nor the wit to conceive
its realities. If you examine the literature of the 17th and 18th
centuries you will find that nearly all its expressions, having
reference to the country, show something of this kind; either a foolish
sentimentality, or a morbid fear, both of course coupled with the most
curious ignorance. You will find all its descriptive expressions at once
vague and monotonous. Brooks are always "purling;" birds always
"warbling;" mountains always "lift their horrid peaks above the clouds;"
vales always "are lost in the shadow of gloomy woods;" a few more
distinct ideas about hay-making and curds and cream, acquired in the
neighborhood of Richmond Bridge, serving to give an occasional
appearance of freshness to the catalogue of the sublime and beautiful
which descended from poet to poet; while a few true pieces of pastoral,
like the "Vicar of Wakefield," and Walton's "Angler," relieved the
general waste of dullness. Even in these better productions, nothing is
more remarkable than the general conception of the country merely as a
series of green fields, and the combined ignorance and dread of more
sublime scenery; of which the mysteries and dangers were enhanced by the
difficulties of traveling at the period. Thus in Walton's "Angler," you
have a meeting of two friends, one a Derbyshire man, the other a lowland
traveler, who is as much alarmed, and uses nearly as many expressions of
astonishment, at having to go down a steep hill and ford a brook, as a
traveler uses now at crossing the glacier of the Col du Géant. I am not
sure whether the difficulties which, until late years, have lain in the
way of peaceful and convenient traveling, ought not to have great weight
assigned to them among the other causes of the temper of the period;
but be that as it may, if you will examine the whole range of its
literature--keeping this point in view--I am well persuaded that you
will be struck most forcibly by the strange deadness to the higher
sources of landscape sublimity which is mingled with the morbid
pastoralism. The love of fresh air and green grass forced itself upon
the animal natures of men; but that of the sublimer features of scenery
had no place in minds whose chief powers had been repressed by the
formalisms of the age. And although in the second-rate writers
continually, and in the first-rate ones occasionally, you find an
affectation of interest in mountains, clouds, and forests, yet whenever
they write from their heart, you will find an utter absence of feeling
respecting anything beyond gardens and grass. Examine, for instance, the
novels of Smollett, Fielding, and Sterne, the comedies of Molière, and
the writings of Johnson and Addison, and I do not think you will find a
single expression of true delight in sublime nature in any one of them.
Perhaps Sterne's "Sentimental Journey," in its total absence of
sentiment on any subject but humanity, and its entire want of notice of
anything at Geneva, which might not as well have been seen at Coxwold,
is the most striking instance I could give you; and if you compare with
this negation of feeling on one side, the interludes of Molière, in
which shepherds and shepherdesses are introduced in court dress, you
will have a very accurate conception of the general spirit of the age.

91. It was in such a state of society that the landscape of Claude,
Gaspar Poussin, and Salvator Rosa attained its reputation. It is the
complete expression on canvas of the spirit of the time. Claude embodies
the foolish pastoralism, Salvator the ignorant terror, and Gaspar the
dull and affected erudition.

It was, however, altogether impossible that this state of things could
long continue. The age which had buried itself in formalism grew weary
at last of the restraint; and the approach of a new era was marked by
the appearance, and the enthusiastic reception, of writers who took
true delight in those wild scenes of nature which had so long been

92. I think the first two writers in whom the symptoms of a change are
strongly manifested are Mrs. Radcliffe and Rousseau; in both of whom the
love of natural scenery, though mingled in the one case with what was
merely dramatic, and in the other with much that was pitifully morbid or
vicious, was still itself genuine, and intense, differing altogether in
character from any sentiments previously traceable in literature. And
then rapidly followed a group of writers, who expressed, in various
ways, the more powerful or more pure feeling which had now become one of
the strongest instincts of the age. Of these, the principal is your own
Walter Scott. Many writers, indeed, describe nature more minutely and
more profoundly; but none show in higher intensity the peculiar passion
for what is majestic or lovely in _wild_ nature, to which I am now
referring. The whole of the poem of the "Lady of the Lake" is written
with almost a boyish enthusiasm for rocks, and lakes, and cataracts; the
early novels show the same instinct in equal strength wherever he
approaches Highland scenery; and the feeling is mingled, observe, with a
most touching and affectionate appreciation of the Gothic architecture,
in which alone he found the elements of natural beauty seized by art; so
that, to this day, his descriptions of Melrose and Holy Island
Cathedral, in the "Lay of the Last Minstrel" and "Marmion," as well as
of the ideal abbeys in the "Monastery" and "Antiquary," together with
those of Caerlaverock and Lochleven Castles in "Guy Mannering" and "The
Abbot," remain the staple possessions and text-books of all travelers,
not so much for their beauty or accuracy, as for their _exactly
expressing that degree of feeling with which most men in this century
can sympathize_.

Together with Scott appeared the group of poets--Byron, Wordsworth,
Keats, Shelley, and, finally, Tennyson--differing widely in moral
principles and spiritual temper, but all agreeing more or less in this
love for natural scenery.

93. Now, you will ask me--and you will ask me most reasonably--how this
love of nature in modern days can be connected with Christianity, seeing
it is as strong in the infidel Shelley as in the sacred Wordsworth. Yes,
and it is found in far worse men than Shelley. Shelley was an honest
unbeliever, and a man of warm affections; but this new love of nature is
found in the most reckless and unprincipled of the French novelists--in
Eugène Sue, in Dumas, in George Sand--and that intensely. How is this?
Simply because the feeling is reactionary; and, in this phase of it,
common to the diseased mind as well as to the healthy one. A man dying
in the fever of intemperance will cry out for water, and that with a
bitterer thirst than a man whose healthy frame naturally delights in the
mountain spring more than in the wine cup. The water is not dishonored
by that thirst of the diseased, nor is nature dishonored by the love of
the unworthy. That love is, perhaps, the only saving element in their
minds; and it still remains an indisputable truth that the love of
nature is a characteristic of the Christian heart, just as the hunger
for healthy food is characteristic of the healthy frame.

In order to meet this new feeling for nature, there necessarily arose a
new school of landscape painting. That school, like the literature to
which it corresponded, had many weak and vicious elements mixed with its
noble ones; it had its Mrs. Radcliffes and Rousseaus, as well as its
Wordsworths; but, on the whole, the feeling with which Robson drew
mountains, and Prout architecture, with which Fielding draws moors, and
Stanfield sea--is altogether pure, true, and precious, as compared with
that which suggested the landscape of the seventeenth century.

94. Now observe, how simple the whole subject becomes. You have, first,
your great ancient landscape divided into its three periods--Giottesque,
Leonardesque, Titianesque. Then you have a great gap, full of
nonentities and abortions; a gulf of foolishness, into the bottom of
which you may throw Claude and Salvator, neither of them deserving to
give a name to anything. Call it "pastoral" landscape, "guarda e passa,"
and then you have, lastly, the pure, wholesome, simple, modern
landscape. You want a name for that: I will give you one in a moment;
for the whole character and power of that landscape is originally based
on the work of one man.

95. Joseph Mallord William Turner was born in Maiden Lane, London, about
eighty years ago. The register of his birth was burned, and his age at
his death could only be arrived at by conjecture. He was the son of a
barber; and his father intended him, very properly, for his own
profession. The bent of the boy was, however, soon manifested, as is
always the case in children of extraordinary genius, too strongly to be
resisted; and a sketch of a coat of arms on a silver salver, made while
his father was shaving a customer, obtained for him, in reluctant
compliance with the admiring customer's advice, the permission to follow
art as a profession.

He had, of course, the usual difficulties of young artists to encounter,
and they were then far greater than they are now. But Turner differed
from most men in this,--that he was always willing to take anything to
do that came in his way. He did not shut himself up in a garret to
produce unsalable works of "high art," and starve, or lose his senses.
He hired himself out every evening to wash in skies in Indian ink, on
other people's drawings, as many as he could, at half-a-crown a-night,
getting his supper into the bargain. "What could I have done better?" he
said afterwards: "it was first-rate practice." Then he took to
illustrating guide-books and almanacs, and anything that wanted cheap
frontispieces. The Oxford Almanack, published on a single sheet, with a
copper-plate at the top of it, consisting of a "View"--you perhaps, some
of you, know the kind of print characteristic of the last century, under
which the word "View" is always printed in large letters, with a
dedication, obsequious to the very dust, to the Grand Signior of the
neighborhood. Well, this Almanack had always such a view of some Oxford
College at the top of it, dedicated, I think, always to the head of the
College; and it owed this, its principal decoration, to Turner for many
years. I have myself two careful drawings of some old seals, made by him
for a local book on the antiquities of Whalley Abbey. And there was
hardly a gentleman's seat of any importance in England, towards the
close of the last century, of which you will not find some rude
engraving in the local publications of the time, inscribed with the
simple name "W. Turner."

96. There was another great difference between Turner and other men. In
doing these drawings for the commonest publications of the day, and for
a remuneration altogether contemptible, he never did his work badly
because he thought it beneath him, or because he was ill-paid. There
does not exist such a thing as a slovenly drawing by Turner. With what
people were willing to give him for his work he was content; but he
considered that work in its relation to himself, not in its relation to
the purchaser. He took a poor price, that he might _live_; but he made
noble drawings, that he might _learn_. Of course some are slighter than
others, and they vary in their materials; those executed with pencil and
Indian ink being never finished to the degree of those which are
executed in color. But he is _never_ careless. According to the time and
means at his disposal, he always did his best. He never let a drawing
leave his hands without having made a step in advance, and having done
better in it than he had ever done before; and there is no important
drawing of the period which is not executed with a _total_ disregard of
time and price, and which was not, even then, worth four or five times
what Turner received for it.

Even without genius, a man who thus felt and thus labored was sure to do
great things; though it is seldom that, without great genius, men either
thus feel or thus labor. Turner was as far beyond all other men in
intellect as in industry; and his advance in power and grasp of thought
was as steady as the increasing light of sunrise.

97. His reputation was soon so far established that he was able to
devote himself to more consistent study. He never appears literally to
have _copied_ any picture; but whenever any master interested him, or
was of so established a reputation that he thought it necessary to study
him, he painted pictures of his own subjects in the style of that
master, until he felt himself able to rival his excellencies, whatever
they were. There are thus multitudes of pictures by Turner which are
direct imitations of other masters; especially of Claude, Wilson,
Loutherbourg, Gaspar Poussin, Vandevelde, Cuyp, and Rembrandt. It has
been argued by Mr. Leslie that, because Turner thus in his early years
imitated many of the old masters, therefore he must to the end of his
life have considered them greater than himself. The _non sequitur_ is
obvious. I trust there are few men so unhappy as never to have learned
anything from their inferiors; and I fear there are few men so wise as
never to have imitated anything but what was deserving of imitation. The
young Turner, indeed, would have been more than mortal if, in a period
utterly devoid of all healthy examples of landscape art, he had been
able at once to see his way to the attainment of his ultimate ends; or
if, seeing it, he had felt himself at once strong enough to defy the
authority of every painter and connoisseur whose style had formed the
taste of the public, or whose dicta directed their patronage.

98. But the period when he both felt and resolved to assert his own
superiority was indicated with perfect clearness, by his publishing a
series of engravings, which were nothing else than direct challenges to
Claude--then the landscape painter supposed to be the greatest in the
world--upon his own ground and his own terms. You are probably all aware
that the studies made by Claude for his pictures, and kept by him under
the name of the "Liber Veritatis," were for the most part made with pen
and ink, washed over with a brown tint; and that these drawings have
been carefully facsimiled and published in the form of mezzotint
engravings, long supposed to be models of taste in landscape
composition. In order to provoke comparison between Claude and himself,
Turner published a series of engravings, called the "Liber Studiorum,"
executed in exactly the same manner as these drawings of Claude,--an
etching representing what was done with the pen, while mezzotint stood
for color. You see the notable publicity of this challenge. Had he
confined himself to _pictures_ in his trial of skill with Claude, it
would only have been in the gallery or the palace that the comparison
could have been instituted; but now it is in the power of all who are
interested in the matter to make it at their ease.[32]

[Footnote 32: When this lecture was delivered, an enlarged copy of a
portion of one of these studies by Claude was set beside a similarly
magnified portion of one by Turner. It was impossible, without much
increasing the cost of the publication, to prepare two mezzotint
engravings with the care requisite for this purpose; and the portion of
the Lecture relating to these examples is therefore omitted. It is,
however, in the power of every reader to procure one or more plates of
each series; and to judge for himself whether the conclusion of Turner's
superiority, which is assumed in the next sentence of the text, be a
just one or not.]

       *       *       *       *       *

99. Now, what Turner did in contest with Claude, he did with every other
then-known master of landscape, each in his turn. He challenged, and
vanquished, each in his own peculiar field, Vandevelde on the sea,
Salvator among rocks, and Cuyp on Lowland rivers; and, having done this,
set himself to paint the natural scenery of skies, mountains, and lakes,
which, until his time, had never been so much as attempted.

He thus, in the extent of his sphere, far surpassed even Titian and
Leonardo, the great men of the earlier schools. In their foreground work
neither Titian nor Leonardo _could_ be excelled; but Titian and Leonardo
were throughly conventional in all _but_ their foregrounds. Turner was
equally great in all the elements of landscape, and it is on him, and on
his daring additions to the received schemes of landscape art, that all
modern landscape has been founded. You will never meet any truly great
living landscape painter who will not at once frankly confess his
obligations to Turner, not, observe, as having copied him, but as having
been led by Turner to look in nature for what he would otherwise either
not have discerned, or discerning, not have dared to represent.

100. Turner, therefore, was the first man who presented us with the
_type_ of perfect landscape art: and the richness of that art, with
which you are at present surrounded, and which enables you to open your
walls as it were into so many windows, through which you can see
whatever has charmed you in the fairest scenery of your country, you
will do well to remember as _Turneresque_.

So then you have these five periods to recollect--you will have no
difficulty, I trust, in doing so,--the periods of Giotto, Leonardo,
Titian, pastoralism, and Turner.

101. But Turner's work is yet only begun. His greatness is, as yet,
altogether denied by many; and to the full, felt by very few. But every
day that he lies in his grave will bring some new acknowledgment of his
power; and through those eyes, now filled with dust, generations yet
unborn will learn to behold the light of nature.

You have some ground to-night to accuse me of dogmatism. I can bring no
proof before you of what I so boldly assert. But I would not have
accepted your invitation to address you, unless I had felt that I had a
right to be, in this matter, dogmatic. I did not come here to tell you
of my beliefs or my conjectures; I came to tell you the truth which I
have given fifteen years of my life to ascertain, that this man, this
Turner, of whom you have known so little while he was living among you,
will one day take his place beside Shakespeare and Verulam, in the
annals of the light of England.

Yes: beside Shakespeare and Verulam, a third star in that central
constellation, round which, in the astronomy of intellect, all other
stars make their circuit. By Shakespeare, humanity was unsealed to you;
by Verulam the _principles_ of nature; and by Turner, her _aspect_. All
these were sent to unlock one of the gates of light, and to unlock it
for the first time. But of all the three, though not the greatest,
Turner was the most unprecedented in his work. Bacon did what Aristotle
had attempted; Shakespeare did perfectly what Æschylus did partially;
but none before Turner had lifted the veil from the face of nature; the
majesty of the hills and forests had received no interpretation, and the
clouds passed unrecorded from the face of the heaven which they
adorned, and of the earth to which they ministered.

102. And now let me tell you something of his personal character. You
have heard him spoken of as ill-natured, and jealous of his brother
artists. I will tell you how jealous he was. I knew him for ten years,
and during that time had much familiar intercourse with him. I _never
once_ heard him say an unkind thing of a brother artist, and _I never
once heard him find a fault_ with another man's work. I could say this
of _no other_ artist whom I have ever known.

But I will add a piece of evidence on this matter of peculiar force.
Probably many here have read a book which has been lately published, to
my mind one of extreme interest and value, the life of the unhappy
artist, Benjamin Haydon. Whatever may have been his faults, I believe no
person can read his journal without coming to the conclusion that his
heart was honest, and that he does not _willfully_ misrepresent any
fact, or any person. Even supposing otherwise, the expression I am going
to quote to you would have all the more force, because, as you know,
Haydon passed his whole life in war with the Royal Academy, of which
Turner was one of the most influential members. Yet in the midst of one
of his most violent expressions of exultation at one of his victories
over the Academy, he draws back suddenly with these words:--"But Turner
behaved well, and did me justice."

103. I will give you however besides, two plain facts illustrative of
Turner's "jealousy."

You have, perhaps not many of you, heard of a painter of the name of
Bird: I do not myself know his works, but Turner saw some merit in them:
and when Bird first sent a picture to the Academy, for exhibition,
Turner was on the hanging committee. Bird's picture had great merit; but
no place for it could be found. Turner pleaded hard for it. No, the
thing was impossible. Turner sat down and looked at Bird's picture a
long time; then insisted that a place must be found for it. He was still
met by the assertion of impracticability. He said no more, but took
down one of his own pictures, sent it out of the Academy, and hung
Bird's in its place.

Match that, if you can, among the annals of hanging committees. But he
could do nobler things than this.

104. When Turner's picture of Cologne was exhibited in the year 1826, it
was hung between two portraits, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, of Lady
Wallscourt and Lady Robert Manners.

The sky of Turner's picture was exceedingly bright, and it had a most
injurious effect on the color of the two portraits. Lawrence naturally
felt mortified, and complained openly of the position of his pictures.
You are aware that artists were at that time permitted to retouch their
pictures on the walls of the Academy. On the morning of the opening of
the exhibition, at the private view, a friend of Turner's who had seen
the Cologne in all its splendor, led a group of expectant critics up to
the picture. He started back from it in consternation. The golden sky
had changed to a dun color. He ran up to Turner, who was in another part
of the room. "Turner, _what_ have you been doing to your picture?" "Oh,"
muttered Turner, in a low voice, "poor Lawrence was so unhappy. It's
only lamp-black. It'll all wash off after the exhibition!" He had
actually passed a wash of lamp-black in water-color over the whole sky,
and utterly spoiled his picture for the time, and so left it through the
exhibition, lest it should hurt Lawrence's.

You may easily find instances of self-sacrifice where men have strong
motives, and where large benefits are to be conferred by the effort, or
general admiration obtained by it; but of pure, unselfish, and perfect
generosity, showing itself in a matter of minor interest, and when few
could be aware of the sacrifice made, you will not easily find such
another example as this.

105. Thus much for his jealousy of his brother-artists. You have also
heard much of his niggardliness in money transactions. A great part of
what you have heard is perfectly true, allowing for the exaggeration
which always takes place in the accounts of an eccentric character. But
there are other parts of Turner's conduct of which you have never heard;
and which, if truly reported, would set his niggardliness in a very
different light. Every person from whom Turner exacted a due shilling,
proclaimed the exaction far and wide; but the persons to whom Turner
gave hundreds of pounds were prevented, by their "delicacy," from
reporting the kindness of their benefactor. I may, however, perhaps, be
permitted to acquaint you with one circumstance of this nature,
creditable alike to both parties concerned.

At the death of a poor drawing master, Mr. Wells,[33] whom Turner had
long known, he was deeply affected, and lent money to the widow until a
large sum had accumulated. She was both honest and grateful, and after a
long period was happy enough to be able to return to her benefactor the
whole sum she had received from him. She waited on him with it; but
Turner kept his hands in his pockets. "Keep it," he said, "and send your
children to school, and to church." He said this in bitterness; he had
himself been sent to neither.

[Footnote 33: Not the Mr. Wells who taught drawing at Addiscombe. It
appears that Turner knew two persons of the same name, and in the same
profession. I am not permitted to name my authority for the anecdote;
various egotistic "delicacies," even in this case, preventing useful
truth from being clearly assured to the public.]

106. "Well, but," you will answer to me, "we have heard Turner all our
lives stigmatized as brutal, and uncharitable, and selfish, and miserly.
How are we to understand these opposing statements?"

Easily. I have told you truly what Turner was. You have often heard what
to most people he appeared to be. Imagine what it was for a man to live
seventy years in this hard world, with the kindest heart, and the
noblest intellect of his time, and never to meet with a single word or
ray of sympathy, until he felt himself sinking into the grave. From the
time he knew his true greatness all the world was turned against him: he
held his own; but it could not be without roughness of bearing, and
hardening of the temper, if not of the heart. No one understood him, no
one trusted him, and every one cried out against him. Imagine, any of
you, the effect upon your own minds, if every voice that you heard from
the human beings around you were raised, year after year, through all
your lives, only in condemnation of your efforts, and denial of your
success. This may be borne, and borne easily, by men who have fixed
religious principles, or supporting domestic ties. But Turner had no one
to teach him in his youth, and no one to love him in his old age.
Respect and affection, if they came at all, came unbelieved, or came too
late. Naturally irritable, though kind--naturally suspicious, though
generous--the gold gradually became dim, and the most fine gold changed,
or, if not changed, overcast and clouded. The deep heart was still
beating, but it was beneath a dark and melancholy mail, between whose
joints, however, sometimes the slightest arrows found entrance, and
power of giving pain. He received no consolation in his last years, nor
in his death. Cut off in great part from all society--first, by labor,
and at last by sickness--hunted to his grave by the malignities of small
critics, and the jealousies of hopeless rivalry, he died in the house of
a stranger--one companion of his life, and one only, staying with him to
the last. The window of his death-chamber was turned towards the west,
and the _sun_ shone upon his face in its setting, and rested there, as
he expired.



_Delivered November 18, 1853._

107. The subject on which I would desire to engage your attention this
evening, is the nature and probable result of a certain schism which
took place a few years ago among our British artists.

This schism, or rather the heresy which led to it, as you are probably
aware, was introduced by a small number of very young men; and consists
mainly in the assertion that the principles on which art has been taught
for these three hundred years back are essentially wrong, and that the
principles which ought to guide us are those which prevailed before the
time of Raphael; in adopting which, therefore, as their guides, these
young men, as a sort of bond of unity among themselves, took the
unfortunate and somewhat ludicrous name of "Pre-Raphaelite Brethren."

108. You must also be aware that this heresy has been opposed with all
the influence and all the bitterness of art and criticism; but that in
spite of these the heresy has gained ground, and the pictures painted on
these new principles have obtained a most extensive popularity. These
circumstances are sufficiently singular, but their importance is greater
even than their singularity; and your time will certainly not be wasted
in devoting an hour to an inquiry into the true nature of this movement.

I shall first, therefore, endeavor to state to you what the real
difference is between the principles of art before and after Raphael's
time, and then to ascertain, with you, how far these young men truly
have understood the difference, and what may be hoped or feared from
the effort they are making.

109. First, then, What is the real difference between the principles on
which art has been pursued before and since Raphael? You must be aware,
that the principal ground on which the Pre-Raphaelites have been
attacked, is the charge that they wish to bring us back to a time of
darkness and ignorance, when the principles of drawing, and of art in
general, were comparatively unknown; and this attack, therefore, is
entirely founded on the assumption that, although for some unaccountable
reason we cannot at present produce artists altogether equal to Raphael,
yet that we are on the whole in a state of greater illumination than, at
all events, any artists who preceded Raphael; so that we consider
ourselves entitled to look down upon them, and to say that, all things
considered, they did some wonderful things for their time; but that, as
for comparing the art of Giotto to that of Wilkie or Edwin Landseer, it
would be perfectly ridiculous,--the one being a mere infant in his
profession, and the others accomplished workmen.

Now, that this progress has in some things taken place is perfectly
true; but it is true also that this progress is by no means the main
thing to be noticed respecting ancient and modern art; that there are
other circumstances, connected with the change from one to the other,
immeasurably more important, and which, until very lately, have been
altogether lost sight of.

110. The fact is, that modern art is not so much distinguished from old
art by greater skill, as by a radical change in temper. The art of this
day is not merely a more _knowing_ art than that of the thirteenth
century,--it is altogether another art. Between the two there is a great
gulf, a distinction forever ineffaceable. The change from one to the
other was not that of the child into the man, as we usually consider it;
it was that of the chrysalis into the butterfly. There was an entire
change in the habits, food, method of existence, and heart of the whole
creature. That we know more than thirteenth century people is perfectly
true; but that is not the essential difference between us and them. We
are different kind of creatures from them,--as different as moths are
different from caterpillars; and different in a certain broad and vast
sense, which I shall try this evening to explain and prove to
you;--different not merely in this or that result of minor
circumstances,--not as you are different from people who never saw a
locomotive engine, or a Highlander of this century from a Highlander of
1745;--different in a far broader and mightier sense than that; in a
sense so great and clear, that we are enabled to separate all the
Christian nations and tongues of the early time from those of the latter
time, and speak of them in one group as the kingdoms of the Middle Ages.
There is an infinite significance in that term, which I want you to
dwell upon and work out; it is a term which we use in a dim
consciousness of the truth, but without fully penetrating into that of
which we are conscious. I want to deepen and make clear to you this
consciousness that the world has had essentially a Trinity of ages--the
Classical Age, the Middle Age, the Modern Age; each of these embracing
races and individuals of apparently enormous separation in kind, but
united in the spirit of their age,--the Classical Age having its
Egyptians and Ninevites, Greeks and Romans,--the Middle Age having its
Goths and Franks, Lombards and Italians,--the Modern Age having its
French and English, Spaniards and Germans; but all these distinctions
being in each case subordinate to the mightier and broader distinction,
between _Classicalism_, _Mediævalism_, and _Modernism_.

111. Now our object to-night is indeed only to inquire into a matter of
art; but we cannot do so properly until we consider this art in its
relation to the inner spirit of the age in which it exists; and by doing
so we shall not only arrive at the most just conclusions respecting our
present subject, but we shall obtain the means of arriving at just
conclusions respecting many other things.

Now the division of time which the Pre-Raphaelites have adopted, in
choosing Raphael as the man whose works mark the separation between
Mediævalism and Modernism, is perfectly accurate. It has been accepted
as such by all their opponents.

You have, then, the three periods: Classicalism, extending to the fall
of the Roman empire; Mediævalism, extending from that fall to the close
of the fifteenth century; and Modernism thenceforward to our days.

112. And in examining into the spirit of these three epochs, observe, I
don't mean to compare their bad men,--I don't mean to take Tiberius as a
type of Classicalism, nor Ezzelin as a type of Mediævalism, nor
Robespierre as a type of Modernism. Bad men are like each other in all
epochs; and in the Roman, the Paduan, or the Parisian, sensuality and
cruelty admit of little distinction in the manners of their
manifestation. But among men comparatively virtuous, it is important to
study the phases of character; and it is into these only that it is
necessary for us to inquire. Consider therefore, first, the essential
difference in character between three of the most devoted military
heroes whom the three great epochs of the world have produced,--all
three devoted to the service of their country,--all of them dying
therein. I mean, Leonidas in the Classical period, St. Louis in the
Mediæval period, and Lord Nelson in the Modern period.

Leonidas had the most rigid sense of duty, and died with the most
perfect faith in the gods of his country, fulfilling the accepted
prophecy of his death. St. Louis had the most rigid sense of duty, and
the most perfect faith in Christ. Nelson had the most rigid sense of
duty, and----

You must supply my pause with your charity.

Now you do not suppose that the main difference between Leonidas and
Nelson lay in the modern inventions at the command of the one, as
compared with the imperfect military instruments possessed by the other.
They were not essentially different, in that the one fought with lances
and the other with guns. But they were essentially different in the
whole tone of their religious belief.

113. By this instance you may be partially prepared for the bold
statement I am going to make to you, as to the change which constitutes
Modernism. I said just now that it was like that of the worm to the
butterfly. But the changes which God causes in His lower creatures are
almost always from worse to better, while the changes which God allows
man to make in himself are very often quite the other way; like Adam's
new arrangement of his nature. And in saying that this last change was
like that of a chrysalis, I meant only in the completeness of it, not in
the tendency of it. Instead of from the worm to the butterfly, it is
very possible it may have been from the butterfly to the worm.

Have patience with me for a moment after I tell you what I believe it to
have been, and give me a little time to justify my words.

114. I say that Classicalism began, wherever civilization began, with
Pagan Faith. Mediævalism began, and continued, wherever civilization
began and continued to _confess_ Christ. And, lastly, Modernism began
and continues, wherever civilization began and continues to _deny_

You are startled, but give me a moment to explain. What, you would say
to me, do you mean to tell us that _we_ deny Christ? we who are
essentially modern in every one of our principles and feelings, and yet
all of us professing believers in Christ, and we trust most of us true
ones? I answer, So far as we are believers indeed, we are one with the
faithful of all times,--one with the classical believer of Athens and
Ephesus, and one with the mediæval believer of the banks of the Rhone
and the valleys of the Monte Viso. But so far as, in various strange
ways, some in great and some in small things, we deny this belief, in so
far we are essentially infected with this spirit, which I call

115. For observe, the change of which I speak has nothing whatever to do
with the Reformation, or with any of its effects. It is a far broader
thing than the Reformation. It is a change which has taken place, not
only in reformed England, and reformed Scotland; but in unreformed
France, in unreformed Italy, in unreformed Austria. I class honest
Protestants and honest Roman Catholics for the present together, under
the general term Christians: if you object to their being so classed
together, I pray your pardon, but allow me to do so at present, for the
sake of perspicuity, if for nothing else; and so classing them, I say
that a change took place, about the time of Raphael, in the spirit of
Roman Catholics and Protestants both; and that change consisted in the
_denial_ of their religious belief, at least in the external and trivial
affairs of life, and often in far more serious things.

116. For instance, hear this direction to an upholsterer of the early
thirteenth century. Under the commands of the Sheriff of Wiltshire, he
is thus ordered to make some alterations in a room for Henry the Third.
He is to "wainscot the King's lower chamber, and to paint that wainscot
of a green color, and to put a border to it, and to cause the heads of
kings and queens to be painted on the borders; and to paint on the walls
of the King's upper chamber the story of St. Margaret, Virgin, and the
four Evangelists, and to paint the wainscot of the same chamber of a
green color, spotted with gold."[34]

[Footnote 34: Liberate Rolls, preserved in the Tower of London, and
quoted by Mr. Turner in his History of the Domestic Architecture of

Again, the Sheriff of Wiltshire is ordered to "put two small glass
windows in the chamber of Edward the King's son; and put a glass window
in the chamber of our Queen at Clarendon; and in the same window cause
to be painted a Mary with her Child, and at the feet of the said Mary, a
queen with clasped hands."

Again, the Sheriff of Southampton is ordered to "paint the tablet beside
the King's bed, with the figures of the guards of the bed of Solomon,
and to glaze with white glass the windows in the King's great Hall at
Northampton, and cause the history of Lazarus and Dives to be painted in
the same."

117. And so on; I need not multiply instances. You see that in all these
cases, the furniture of the King's house is made to confess his
Christianity. It may be imperfect and impure Christianity, but such as
it might be, it was all that men had then to live and die by; and you
see there was not a pane of glass in their windows, nor a pallet by
their bedside that did not confess and proclaim it. Now, when you go
home to your own rooms, supposing them to be richly decorated at all,
examine what that decoration consists of. You will find Cupids, Graces,
Floras, Dianas, Jupiters, Junos. But you will not find, except in the
form of an engraving, bought principally for its artistic beauty, either
Christ, or the Virgin, or Lazarus and Dives. And if a thousand years
hence, any curious investigator were to dig up the ruins of Edinburgh,
and not know your history, he would think you had all been born
heathens. Now that, so far as it goes, is denying Christ; it is pure

"No," you will answer me, "you misunderstand and calumniate us. We do
not, indeed, choose to have Dives and Lazarus on our windows; but that
is not because we are moderns, but because we are Protestants, and do
not like religious imagery." Pardon me: that is not the reason. Go into
any fashionable lady's boudoir in Paris, and see if you will find Dives
and Lazarus there. You will find, indeed, either that she has her
private chapel, or that she has a crucifix in her dressing-room; but for
the general decoration of the house, it is all composed of Apollos and
Muses, just as it is here.

118. Again. What do you suppose was the substance of good education, the
education of a knight, in the Middle Ages? What was taught to a boy as
soon as he was able to learn anything? First, to keep under his body,
and bring it into subjection and perfect strength; then to take Christ
for his captain, to live as always in His presence, and finally, to do
his _devoir_--mark the word--to all men. Now consider, first, the
difference in their influence over the armies of France, between the
ancient word "devoir," and modern word "gloire." And, again, ask
yourselves what you expect your own children to be taught at your great
schools and universities. Is it Christian history, or the histories of
Pan and Silenus? Your present education, to all intents and purposes,
denies Christ, and that is intensely and peculiarly Modernism.

119. Or, again, what do you suppose was the proclaimed and understood
principle of all Christian _governments_ in the Middle Ages? I do not
say it was a principle acted up to, or that the cunning and violence of
wicked men had not too often their full sway then as now; but on what
principles were that cunning and violence, so far as was possible,
restrained? By the _confessed_ fear of God, and _confessed_ authority of
His law. You will find that all treaties, laws, transactions whatsoever,
in the Middle Ages, are based on a confession of Christianity as the
leading rule of life; that a text of Scripture is held, in all public
assemblies, strong enough to be set against an appearance of expediency;
and although, in the end, the expediency might triumph, yet it was never
without a distinct allowance of Christian principle, as an efficient
element in the consultation. Whatever error might be committed, at least
Christ was openly confessed. Now what is the custom of your British
Parliament in these days? You know that nothing would excite greater
manifestations of contempt and disgust than the slightest attempt to
introduce the authority of Scripture in a political consultation. That
is denying Christ. It is intensely and peculiarly Modernism.

120. It would be easy to go on showing you this same thing in many more
instances; but my business to-night is to show you its full effect in
one thing only, namely, in art, and I must come straightway to that, as
I have little enough time. This, then, is the great and broad fact which
distinguishes modern art from old art; that all ancient art was
_religious_, and all modern art is _profane_. Once more, your patience
for an instant. I say, all ancient art was religious; that is to say,
religion was its first object; private luxury or pleasure its second. I
say all modern art is profane; that is, private luxury or pleasure is
its first object; religion its second. Now you all know, that anything
which makes religion its second object, makes religion _no_ object. God
will put up with a great many things in the human heart, but there is
one thing He will _not_ put up with in it--a second place. He who offers
God a second place, offers Him no place. And there is another mighty
truth which you all know, that he who makes religion his first object,
makes it his whole object; he has no other work in the world than God's
work. Therefore I do not say that ancient art was _more_ religious than
modern art. There is no question of degree in this matter. Ancient art
was religious art; modern art is profane art; and between the two the
distinction is as firm as between light and darkness.

121. Now, do not let what I say be encumbered in your minds with the
objection, that you think art ought not to be brought into the service
of religion. That is not the question at present--do not agitate it. The
simple fact is, that old art _was_ brought into that service, and
received therein a peculiar form; that modern art _is not_ brought into
that service, and has received in consequence another form; that this is
the great distinction between mediæval and modern art; and from that are
clearly deducible all other essential differences between them. That is
the point I wish to show you, and of that there can be no dispute.
Whether or not Christianity be the purer for lacking the service of art,
is disputable--and I do not mean now to begin the dispute; but that art
is the _impurer_ for not being in the service of Christianity, is
indisputable, and that is the main point I have now to do with.

122. Perhaps there are some of you here who would not allow that the
religion of the thirteenth century was Christianity. Be it so; still is
the statement true, which is all that is necessary for me now to prove,
that art was great because it was devoted to such religion as then
existed. Grant that Roman Catholicism was not Christianity--grant it, if
you will, to be the same thing as old heathenism--and still I say to
you, whatever it was, men lived and died by it, the ruling thought of
all their thoughts; and just as classical art was greatest in building
to its gods, so mediæval art was great in building to its gods, and
modern art is not great, because it builds to _no_ God. You have, for
instance, in your Edinburgh Library, a Bible of the thirteenth century,
the Latin Bible, commonly known as the Vulgate. It contains the Old and
New Testaments, complete, besides the books of Maccabees, the Wisdom of
Solomon, the books of Judith, Baruch, and Tobit. The whole is written in
the most beautiful black-letter hand, and each book begins with an
illuminated letter, containing three or four figures, illustrative of
the book which it begins. Now, whether this were done in the service of
true Christianity or not, the simple fact is, that here is a man's
life-time taken up in writing and ornamenting a Bible, as the sole end
of his art; and that doing this, either in a book or on a wall, was the
common artist's life at the time; that the constant Bible reading and
Bible thinking which this work involved, made a man serious and
thoughtful, and a good workman, because he was always expressing those
feelings which, whether right or wrong, were the groundwork of his whole
being. Now, about the year 1500, this entire system was changed. Instead
of the life of Christ, men had, for the most part, to paint the lives of
Bacchus and Venus; and if you walk through any public gallery of
pictures by the "great masters," as they are called, you will indeed
find here and there what is called a Holy Family, painted for the sake
of drawing pretty children, or a pretty woman; but for the most part you
will find nothing but Floras, Pomonas, Satyrs, Graces, Bacchanals, and
Banditti. Now, you will not declare--you cannot believe--that Angelico
painting the life of Christ, Benozzo painting the life of Abraham,
Ghirlandajo painting the life of the Virgin, Giotto painting the life of
St. Francis, were worse employed, or likely to produce a less healthy
art, than Titian painting the loves of Venus and Adonis, than Correggio
painting the naked Antiope, than Salvator painting the slaughters of the
thirty years' war? If you will not let me call the one kind of labor
Christian, and the other unchristian, at least you will let me call the
one moral, and the other immoral, and that is all I ask you to admit.

123. Now observe, hitherto I have been telling you what you may feel
inclined to doubt or dispute; and I must leave you to consider the
subject at your leisure. But henceforward I tell you plain facts, which
admit neither of doubt nor dispute by any one who will take the pains to
acquaint himself with their subject-matter.

When the entire purpose of art was moral teaching, it naturally took
truth for its first object, and beauty, and the pleasure resulting from
beauty, only for its second. But when it lost all purpose of moral
teaching, it as naturally took beauty for its first object, and truth
for its second.

That is to say, in all they did, the old artists endeavored, in one way
or another, to express the real facts of the subject or event, this
being their chief business: and the question they first asked themselves
was always, how would this thing, or that, actually have occurred? what
would this person, or that, have done under the circumstances? and then,
having formed their conception, they work it out with only a secondary
regard to grace or beauty, while a modern painter invariably thinks of
the grace and beauty of his work first, and unites afterwards as much
truth as he can with its conventional graces. I will give you a single
strong instance to make my meaning plainer. In Orcagna's great fresco of
the Triumph of Death, one of the incidents is that three kings,[35]
when out hunting, are met by a spirit, which, desiring them to follow
it, leads them to a churchyard, and points out to them, in open coffins,
three bodies of kings such as themselves, in the last stages of
corruption. Now a modern artist, representing this, would have
endeavored dimly and faintly to suggest the appearance of the dead
bodies, and would have made, or attempted to make, the countenances of
the three kings variously and solemnly expressive of thought. This would
be in his, or our, view, a poetical and tasteful treatment of the
subject. But Orcagna disdains both poetry and taste; he wants the
_facts_ only; he wishes to give the spectator the same lesson that the
kings had; and therefore, instead of concealing the dead bodies, he
paints them with the most fearful detail. And then, he does not consider
what the three kings might most gracefully do. He considers only what
they actually in all probability _would have done_. He makes them
looking at the coffins with a startled stare, and one holding his nose.
This is an extreme instance; but you are not to suppose it is because
Orcagna had naturally a coarse or prosaic mind. Where he felt that
thoughtfulness and beauty could properly be introduced, as in his
circles of saints and prophets, no painter of the Middle Ages is so
grand. I can give you no better proof of this, than the one fact that
Michael Angelo borrowed from him openly--borrowed from him in the
principal work which he ever executed, the Last Judgment, and borrowed
from him the principal figure in that work. But it is just because
Orcagna was so firmly and unscrupulously true, that he had the power of
being so great when he chose. His arrow went straight to the mark. It
was not that he did not love beauty, but he loved truth first.

[Footnote 35: This incident is not of Orcagna's invention, it is
variously represented in much earlier art. There is a curious and
graphic drawing of it, _circa_ 1300, in the MS. Arundel 83, Brit. Mus.,
in which the three dead persons are walking, and are met by three
queens, who severally utter the sentences,

    "Ich am aferd."
    "Lo, whet ich se?"
    "Me thinketh hit beth develes thre."

To which the dead bodies answer--

    "Ich wes wel fair."
    "Such scheltou be."
    "For Godes love, be wer by me."

It is curious, that though the dresses of the living persons, and the "I
was well fair" of the first dead speaker, seem to mark them distinctly
to be women, some longer legends below are headed "primus _rex_
mortuus," etc.]

124. So it was with all the men of that time. No painters ever had more
power of conceiving graceful form, or more profound devotion to the
beautiful; but all these gifts and affections are kept sternly
subordinate to their moral purpose; and, so far as their powers and
knowledge went, they either painted from nature things as they were, or
from imagination things as they must have been.

I do not mean that they reached any imitative resemblance to nature.
They had neither skill to do it, nor care to do it. Their art was
conventional and imperfect, but they considered it only as a language
wherein to convey the knowledge of certain facts; it was perfect enough
for that; and though always reaching on to greater attainments, they
never suffered their imperfections to disturb and check them in their
immediate purposes. And this mode of treating all subjects was persisted
in by the greatest men until the close of the fifteenth century.

125. Now so justly have the Pre-Raphaelites chosen their time and name,
that the great change which clouds the career of mediæval art was
affected, not only in Raphael's time, but by Raphael's own practice, and
by his practice in _the very center of his available life_.

You remember, doubtless, what high ground we have for placing the
beginning of human intellectual strength at about the age of twelve
years.[36] Assume, therefore, this period for the beginning of Raphael's
strength. He died at thirty-seven. And in his twenty-fifth year, one
half-year only past the precise center of his available life, he was
sent for to Rome, to decorate the Vatican for Pope Julius II., and
having until that time worked exclusively in the ancient and stern
mediæval manner, he, in the first chamber which he decorated in that
palace, wrote upon its walls the _Mene, Tekel, Upharsin_ of the Arts of

[Footnote 36: Luke ii. 42, 49.]

And he wrote it thus: On one wall of that chamber he placed a picture of
the World or Kingdom of _Theology_, presided over by _Christ_. And on
the side wall of that same chamber he placed the World or Kingdom of
_Poetry_, presided over by _Apollo_. And from that spot, and from that
hour, the intellect and the art of Italy date their degradation.

126. Observe, however, the significance of this fact is not in the mere
use of the figure of the heathen god to indicate the domain of poetry.
Such a symbolical use had been made of the figures of heathen deities in
the best times of Christian art. But it is in the fact, that being
called to Rome especially to adorn the palace of the so-called head of
the Church, and called as the chief representative of the Christian
artists of his time, Raphael had neither religion nor originality enough
to trace the spirit of poetry and the spirit of philosophy to the
inspiration of the true God, as well as that of theology; but that, on
the contrary, _he elevated the creations of fancy on the one wall, to
the same rank as the objects of faith upon the other_; that in
deliberate, balanced opposition to the Rock of the Mount Zion, he reared
the rock of Parnassus, and the rock of the Acropolis; that, among the
masters of poetry we find him enthroning Petrarch and Pindar, but not
Isaiah nor David, and for lords over the domain of philosophy we find
the masters of the school of Athens, but neither of those greater
masters by the last of whom that school was rebuked,--those who received
their wisdom from heaven itself, in the vision of Gibeon,[37] and the
lightning of Damascus.

[Footnote 37: 1 Kings iii. 5.]

127. The doom of the arts of Europe went forth from that chamber, and it
was brought about in great part by the very excellencies of the man who
had thus marked the commencement of decline. The perfection of execution
and the beauty of feature which were attained in his works, and in those
of his great contemporaries, rendered finish of execution and beauty of
form the chief objects of all artists; and thenceforward execution was
looked for rather than thought, and beauty rather than veracity.

And as I told you, these are the two secondary causes of the decline of
art; the first being the loss of moral purpose. Pray note them clearly.
In mediæval art, thought is the first thing, execution the second; in
modern art execution is the first thing, and thought the second. And
again, in mediæval art, truth is first, beauty second; in modern art,
beauty is first, truth second. The mediæval principles led _up_ to
Raphael, and the modern principles lead _down_ from him.

128. Now, first, let me give you a familiar illustration of the
difference with respect to execution. Suppose you have to teach two
children drawing, one thoroughly clever and active-minded, the other
dull and slow; and you put before them Jullien's chalk studies of
heads--_études à deux crayons_--and desire them to be copied. The dull
child will slowly do your bidding, blacken his paper and rub it white
again, and patiently and painfully, in the course of three or four
years, attain to the performance of a chalk head, not much worse than
his original, but still of less value than the paper it is drawn upon.
But the clever child will not, or will only by force, consent to this
discipline. He finds other means of expressing himself with his pencil
somehow or another; and presently you find his paper covered with
sketches of his grandfather and grandmother, and uncles, and
cousins--sketches of the room, and the house, and the cat, and the dog,
and the country outside, and everything in the world he can set his eyes
on; and he gets on, and even his child's work has a value in it--a truth
which makes it worth keeping; no one knows how precious, perhaps, that
portrait of his grandfather may be, if any one has but the sense to keep
it till the time when the old man can be seen no more up the lawn, nor
by the wood. That child is working in the Middle-Age spirit--the other
in the modern spirit.

129. But there is something still more striking in the evils which have
resulted from the modern regardlessness of truth. Consider, for
instance, its effect on what is called historical painting. What do you
at present _mean_ by historical painting? Now-a-days it means the
endeavoring, by the power of imagination, to portray some historical
event of past days. But in the Middle Ages, it meant representing the
acts of _their own_ days; and that is the only historical painting worth
a straw. Of all the wastes of time and sense which Modernism has
invented--and they are many--none are so ridiculous as this endeavor to
represent past history. What do you suppose our descendants will care
for our imaginations of the events of former days? Suppose the Greeks,
instead of representing their own warriors as they fought at Marathon,
had left us nothing but their imaginations of Egyptian battles; and
suppose the Italians, in like manner, instead of portraits of Can Grande
and Dante, or of Leo the Tenth and Raphael, had left us nothing but
imaginary portraits of Pericles and Miltiades? What fools we should have
thought them! how bitterly we should have been provoked with their
folly! And that is precisely what our descendants will feel towards us,
so far as our grand historical and classical schools are concerned. What
do we care, they will say, what those nineteenth century people fancied
about Greek and Roman history! If they had left us a few plain and
rational sculptures and pictures of their own battles, and their own
men, in their every-day dress, we should have thanked them. "Well, but,"
you will say, "we _have_ left them portraits of our great men, and
paintings of our great battles." Yes, you have indeed, and that is the
only historical painting that you either have, or can have; but you
don't _call_ that historical painting. You don't thank the men who do
it; you look down upon them and dissuade them from it, and tell them
they don't belong to the grand schools. And yet they are the only true
historical painters, and the only men who will produce any effect on
their own generation, or on any other. Wilkie was a historical painter,
Chantrey a historical sculptor, because they painted, or carved, the
veritable things and men they saw, not men and things as they believed
they might have been, or should have been. But no one tells such men
they are historical painters, and they are discontented with what they
do; and poor Wilkie must needs travel to see the grand school, and
imitate the grand school, and ruin himself. And you have had multitudes
of other painters ruined, from the beginning, by that grand school.
There was Etty, naturally as good a painter as ever lived, but no one
told him what to paint, and he studied the antique, and the grand
schools, and painted dances of nymphs in red and yellow shawls to the
end of his days. Much good may they do you! He is gone to the grave, a
lost mind. There was Flaxman, another naturally great man, with as true
an eye for nature as Raphael,--he stumbles over the blocks of the
antique statues--wanders in the dark valley of their ruins to the end of
his days. He has left you a few outlines of muscular men straddling and
frowning behind round shields. Much good may they do you! Another lost
mind. And of those who are lost namelessly, who have not strength enough
even to make themselves known, the poor pale students who lie buried
forever in the abysses of the great schools, no account can be rendered;
they are numberless.

130. And the wonderful thing is, that of all these men whom you now have
come to call the great masters, there was _not one_ who confessedly did
not paint his own present world, plainly and truly. Homer sang of what
he saw; Phidias carved what he saw; Raphael painted the men of his own
time in their own caps and mantles; and every man who has arisen to
eminence in modern times has done so altogether by his working in their
way, and doing the things he saw. How did Reynolds rise? Not by painting
Greek women, but by painting the glorious little living Ladies this, and
Ladies that, of his own time. How did Hogarth rise? Not by painting
Athenian follies, but London follies. Who are the men who have made an
impression upon you yourselves--upon your own age? I suppose the most
popular painter of the day is Landseer. Do you suppose he studied dogs
and eagles out of the Elgin Marbles? And yet in the very face of these
plain, incontrovertible, all-visible facts, we go on from year to year
with the base system of Academy teaching, in spite of which every one of
these men has risen: I say _in spite_ of the entire method and aim of
our art-teaching. It destroys the greater number of its pupils
altogether; it hinders and paralyzes the greatest. There is not a living
painter whose eminence is not in spite of everything he has been taught
from his youth upwards, and who, whatever his eminence may be, has not
suffered much injury in the course of his victory. For observe: this
love of what is called ideality or beauty in preference to truth,
operates not only in making us choose the past rather than the present
for our subjects, but it makes us falsify the present when we do take it
for our subject. I said just now that portrait-painters were historical
painters;--so they are; but not good ones, because not faithful ones.
The beginning and end of modern portraiture is adulation. The painters
cannot live but by flattery; we should desert them if they spoke
honestly. And therefore we can have no good portraiture; for in the
striving after that which is _not_ in their model, they lose the inner
and deeper nobleness which _is_ in their model. I saw not long ago, for
the first time, the portrait of a man whom I knew well--a young man, but
a religious man--and one who had suffered much from sickness. The whole
dignity of his features and person depended upon the expression of
serene, yet solemn, purpose sustaining a feeble frame; and the painter,
by way of flattering him, strengthened him, and made him athletic in
body, gay in countenance, idle in gesture; and the whole power and being
of the man himself were lost. And this is still more the case with our
public portraits. You have a portrait, for instance, of the Duke of
Wellington at the end of the North Bridge--one of the thousand
equestrian statues of Modernism--studied from the show-riders of the
amphitheater, with their horses on their hind-legs in the saw-dust.[38]
Do you suppose that was the way the Duke sat when your destinies
depended on him? when the foam hung from the lips of his tired horse,
and its wet limbs were dashed with the bloody slime of the battle-field,
and he himself sat anxious in his quietness, grieved in his
fearlessness, as he watched, scythe-stroke by scythe-stroke, the
gathering in of the harvest of death? You would have done something had
you thus left his image in the enduring iron, but nothing now.

[Footnote 38: I intended this last sentence of course to apply to the
thousand statues, not definitely to the one in immediate question,
which, though tainted with the modern affectation, and the nearest
example of it to which I could refer an Edinburgh audience, is the work
of a most promising sculptor; and was indeed so far executed on the
principles asserted in the text, that the Duke gave Mr. Steele a sitting
on horse-back, in order that his mode of riding might be accurately
represented. This, however, does not render the following remarks in the
text nugatory, as it may easily be imagined that the action of the Duke,
exhibiting his riding in his own grounds, would be different from his
action, or inaction, when watching the course of a battle.

I must also make a most definite exception in favor of Marochetti, who
seems to me a thoroughly great sculptor; and whose statue of Coeur de
Lion, though, according to the principle just stated, not to be
considered a _historical_ work, is an _ideal_ work of the highest beauty
and value. Its erection in front of Westminster Hall will tend more to
educate the public eye and mind with respect to art, than anything we
have done in London for centuries.

       *       *       *       *       *

April 21st, 1854.--I stop the press in order to insert the following
paragraph from to-day's _Times_:--"THE STATUE OF COEUR DE
LION.--_Yesterday morning a number of workmen were engaged in pulling
down the cast which was placed in New Palace Yard of the colossal
equestrian statue of Richard Coeur de Lion. Sir C. Barry was, we
believe, opposed to the cast remaining there any longer, and to the
putting up of the statue itself on the same site, because it did not
harmonize with the building. During the day the horse and figure were
removed, and before night the pedestal was demolished and taken away._"]

131. But the time has at last come for all this to be put an end to; and
nothing can well be more extraordinary than the way in which the men
have risen who are to do it. Pupils in the same schools, receiving
precisely the same instruction which for so long a time has paralyzed
every one of our painters,--these boys agree in disliking to copy the
antique statues set before them. They copy them as they are bid, and
they copy them better than any one else; they carry off prize after
prize, and yet they hate their work. At last they are admitted to study
from the life; they find the life very different from the antique, and
say so. Their teachers tell them the antique is the best, and they
mustn't copy the life. They agree among themselves that they like the
life, and that copy it they will. They do copy it faithfully, and their
masters forthwith declare them to be lost men. Their fellow-students
hiss them whenever they enter the room. They can't help it; they join
hands and tacitly resist both the hissing and the instruction.
Accidentally, a few prints of the works of Giotto, a few casts from
those of Ghiberti, fall into their hands, and they see in these
something they never saw before--something intensely and everlastingly
true. They examine farther into the matter; they discover for themselves
the greater part of what I have laid before you to-night; they form
themselves into a body, and enter upon that crusade which has hitherto
been victorious. And which will be absolutely and triumphantly
victorious. The great mistake which has hitherto prevented the public
mind from fully going with them must soon be corrected. That mistake was
the supposition that, instead of wishing to recur to the _principles_ of
the early ages, these men wished to bring back the _ignorance_ of the
early ages. This notion, grounded first on some hardness in their
earlier works, which resulted--as it must always result--from the
downright and earnest effort to paint nature as in a looking-glass, was
fostered partly by the jealousy of their beaten competitors, and partly
by the pure, perverse, and hopeless ignorance of the whole body of
art-critics, so called, connected with the press. No notion was ever
more baseless or more ridiculous. It was asserted that the
Pre-Raphaelites did not draw well, in the face of the fact, that the
principal member of their body, from the time he entered the schools of
the Academy, had literally encumbered himself with the medals given as
prizes for drawing. It was asserted that they did not draw in
perspective, by men who themselves knew no more of perspective than they
did of astrology; it was asserted that they sinned against the
appearances of nature, by men who had never drawn so much as a leaf or a
blossom from nature in their lives. And, lastly, when all these
calumnies or absurdities would tell no more, and it began to be forced
upon men's unwilling belief that the style of the Pre-Raphaelites _was_
true and was according to nature, the last forgery invented respecting
them is, that they copy photographs. You observe how completely this
last piece of malice defeats all the rest. It admits they are true to
nature, though only that it may deprive them of all merit in being so.
But it may itself be at once refuted by the bold challenge to their
opponents to produce a Pre-Raphaelite picture, or anything like one, by
themselves copying a photograph.

132. Let me at once clear your minds from all these doubts, and at once
contradict all these calumnies.

Pre-Raphaelitism has but one principle, that of absolute, uncompromising
truth in all that it does, obtained by working everything, down to the
most minute detail, from nature, and from nature only.[39] Every
Pre-Raphaelite landscape background is painted to the last touch, in the
open air, from the thing itself. Every Pre-Raphaelite figure, however
studied in expression, is a true portrait of some living person. Every
minute accessory is painted in the same manner. And one of the chief
reasons for the violent opposition with which the school has been
attacked by other artists, is the enormous cost of care and labor which
such a system demands from those who adopt it, in contradistinction to
the present slovenly and imperfect style.

[Footnote 39: Or, where imagination is necessarily trusted to, by always
endeavoring to conceive a fact as it really was likely to have happened,
rather than as it most prettily _might_ have happened. The various
members of the school are not all equally severe in carrying out its
principles, some of them trusting their memory or fancy very far; only
all agreeing in the effort to make their memories so accurate as to seem
like portraiture, and their fancy so probable as to seem like memory.]

133. This is the main Pre-Raphaelite principle. But the battle which its
supporters have to fight is a hard one; and for that battle they have
been fitted by a very peculiar character.

You perceive that the principal resistance they have to make is to that
spurious beauty, whose attractiveness had tempted men to forget, or to
despise, the more noble quality of sincerity: and in order at once to
put them beyond the power of temptation from this beauty, they are, as
a body, characterized by a total absence of sensibility to the ordinary
and popular forms of artistic gracefulness; while, to all that still
lower kind of prettiness, which regulates the disposition of our scenes
upon the stage, and which appears in our lower art, as in our annuals,
our commonplace portraits, and statuary, the Pre-Raphaelites are not
only dead, but they regard it with a contempt and aversion approaching
to disgust. This character is absolutely necessary to them in the
present time; but it, of course, occasionally renders their work
comparatively unpleasing. As the school becomes less aggressive, and
more authoritative--which it will do--they will enlist into their ranks
men who will work, mainly, upon their principles, and yet embrace more
of those characters which are generally attractive, and this great
ground of offense will be removed.

134. Again: you observe that as landscape painters, their principles
must, in great part, confine them to mere foreground work; and
singularly enough, that they may not be tempted away from this work,
they have been born with comparatively little enjoyment of those
evanescent effects and distant sublimities which nothing but the memory
can arrest, and nothing but a daring conventionalism portray. But for
this work they are not now needed. Turner, the first and greatest of the
Pre-Raphaelites, has done it already; he, though his capacity embraced
everything, and though he would sometimes, in his foregrounds, paint the
spots upon a dead trout, and the dyes upon a butterfly's wing, yet for
the most part delighted to begin at that very point where the other
branches of Pre-Raphaelitism become powerless.

135. Lastly. The habit of constantly carrying everything up to the
utmost point of completion deadens the Pre-Raphaelites in general to the
merits of men who, with an equal love of truth up to a certain point,
yet express themselves habitually with speed and power, rather than with
finish, and give abstracts of truth rather than total truth. Probably to
the end of time artists will more or less be divided into these classes,
and it will be impossible to make men like Millais understand the
merits of men like Tintoret; but this is the more to be regretted
because the Pre-Raphaelites have enormous powers of imagination, as well
as of realization, and do not yet themselves know of how much they would
be capable, if they sometimes worked on a larger scale, and with a less
laborious finish.

136. With all their faults, their pictures are, since Turner's death,
the best--incomparably the best--on the walls of the Royal Academy; and
such works as Mr. Hunt's "Claudio and Isabella" have never been rivaled,
in some respects never approached, at any other period of art.

This I believe to be a most candid statement of all their faults and all
their deficiencies; not such, you perceive, as are likely to arrest
their progress. The "magna est veritas" was never more sure of
accomplishment than by these men. Their adversaries have no chance with
them. They will gradually unite their influence with whatever is true or
powerful in the reactionary art of other countries; and on their works
such a school will be founded as shall justify the third age of the
world's civilization, and render it as great in creation as it has been
in discovery.

137. And now let me remind you but of one thing more. As you examine
into the career of historical painting, you will be more and more struck
with the fact I have this evening stated to you,--that none was ever
truly great but that which represented the living forms and daily deeds
of the people among whom it arose;--that all precious historical work
records, not the past, but the present. Remember, therefore, that it is
not so much in _buying_ pictures, as in _being_ pictures, that you can
encourage a noble school. The best patronage of art is not that which
seeks for the pleasures of sentiment in a vague ideality, nor for beauty
of form in a marble image; but that which educates your children into
living heroes, and binds down the flights and the fondnesses of the
heart into practical duty and faithful devotion.




138. I could not enter, in a popular lecture, upon one intricate and
difficult question, closely connected with the subject of
Pre-Raphaelitism--namely, the relation of invention to observation; and
composition to imitation. It is still less a question to be discussed in
the compass of a note; and I must defer all careful examination of it to
a future opportunity. Nevertheless, it is impossible to leave altogether
unanswered the first objection which is now most commonly made to the
Pre-Raphaelite work, namely, that the principle of it seems adverse to
all exertion of imaginative power. Indeed, such an objection sounds
strangely on the lips of a public who have been in the habit of
purchasing, for hundreds of pounds, small squares of Dutch canvas,
containing only servile imitations of the coarsest nature. It is strange
that an imitation of a cow's head by Paul Potter, or of an old woman's
by Ostade, or of a scene of tavern debauchery by Teniers, should be
purchased and proclaimed for high art, while the rendering of the most
noble expressions of human feeling in Hunt's "Isabella," or of the
loveliest English landscape, haunted by sorrow, in Millais' "Ophelia,"
should be declared "puerile." But, strange though the utterance of it
be, there is some weight in the objection. It is true that so long as
the Pre-Raphaelites only paint from nature, however carefully selected
and grouped, their pictures can never have the characters of the highest
class of compositions. But, on the other hand, the shallow and
conventional arrangements commonly called "compositions" by the artists
of the present day, are infinitely farther from great art than the most
patient work of the Pre-Raphaelites. That work is, even in its humblest
form, a secure foundation, capable of infinite superstructure; a reality
of true value, as far as it reaches, while the common artistical effects
and groupings are a vain effort at superstructure without
foundation--utter negation and fallacy from beginning to end.

139. But more than this, the very faithfulness of the Pre-Raphaelites
arises from the redundance of their imaginative power. Not only can all
the members of the school compose a thousand times better than the men
who pretend to look down upon them, but I question whether even the
greatest men of old times possessed more exhaustless invention than
either Millais or Rossetti; and it is partly the very ease with which
they invent which leads them to despise invention. Men who have no
imagination, but have learned merely to produce a spurious resemblance
of its results by the recipes of composition, are apt to value
themselves mightily on their concoctive science; but the man whose mind
a thousand living imaginations haunt, every hour, is apt to care too
little for them; and to long for the perfect truth which he finds is not
to be come at so easily. And though I may perhaps hesitatingly admit
that it is possible to love this truth of reality too intensely, yet I
have no hesitation in declaring that there is _no hope_ for those who
despise it, and that the painter, whoever he be, who despises the
pictures already produced by the Pre-Raphaelites, has himself no
capacity of becoming a great painter of any kind. Paul Veronese and
Tintoret themselves, without desiring to imitate the Pre-Raphaelite
work, would have looked upon it with deep respect, as John Bellini
looked on that of Albert Dürer; none but the ignorant could be
unconscious of its truth, and none but the insincere regardless of it.

140. How far it is possible for men educated on the severest
Pre-Raphaelite principles to advance from their present style into that
of the great schools of composition, I do not care to inquire, for at
this period such an advance is certainly not desirable. Of great
compositions we have enough, and more than enough, and it would be well
for the world if it were willing to take some care of those it has. Of
pure and manly truth, of stern statement of the things done and seen
around us daily, we have hitherto had nothing. And in art, as in all
other things, besides the literature of which it speaks, that sentence
of Carlyle is inevitably and irreversibly true:--"Day after day, looking
at the high destinies which yet await literature, which literature will
ere long address herself with more decisiveness than ever to fulfill, it
grows clearer to us that the proper task of literature lies in the
domain of BELIEF, within which, poetic fiction, as it is charitably
named, will have to take a quite new figure, if allowed a settlement
there. Whereby were it not reasonable to prophesy that this exceeding
great multitude of novel writers and such like, must, in a new
generation, gradually do one of two things, either retire into
nurseries, and work for children, minors, and semifatuous persons of
both sexes, or else, what were far better, sweep their novel fabric into
the dust cart, and betake them, with such faculty as they have, _to
understand and record what is true_, of which surely there is and
forever will be a whole infinitude unknown to us, of infinite importance
to us? Poetry will more and more come to be understood as nothing but
higher knowledge, and the only genuine Romance for grown persons,

141. As I was copying this sentence, a pamphlet was put into my hand,
written by a clergyman, denouncing "Woe, woe, woe! to exceedingly young
men of stubborn instincts, calling themselves Pre-Raphaelites."[40]

[Footnote 40: Art, its Constitution and Capacities, etc. By the Rev.
Edward Young, M.A. The phrase "exceedingly young men of stubborn
instincts," being twice quoted (carefully excluding the context) from my
pamphlet on Pre-Raphaelitism.]

I thank God that the Pre-Raphaelites _are_ young, and that strength is
still with them, and life, with all the war of it, still in front of
them. Yet Everett Millais is this year of the exact age at which
Raphael painted the "Disputa," his greatest work; Rossetti and Hunt are
both of them older still--nor is there one member of the body so young
as Giotto, when he was chosen from among the painters of Italy to
decorate the Vatican. But Italy, in her great period, knew her great
men, and did not "despise their youth." It is reserved for England to
insult the strength of her noblest children--to wither their warm
enthusiasm early into the bitterness of patient battle, and leave to
those whom she should have cherished and aided, no hope but in
resolution, no refuge but in disdain.

142. Indeed it is woful, when the young usurp the place, or despise the
wisdom, of the aged; and among the many dark signs of these times, the
disobedience and insolence of youth are among the darkest. But with whom
is the fault? Youth never yet lost its modesty where age had not lost
its honor; nor did childhood ever refuse its reverence, except where age
had forgotten correction. The cry, "Go up, thou bald head," will never
be heard in the land which remembers the precept, "See that ye despise
not one of these little ones;" and although indeed youth _may_ become
despicable, when its eager hope is changed into presumption, and its
progressive power into arrested pride, there is something more
despicable still, in the old age which has learned neither judgment nor
gentleness, which is weak without charity, and cold without discretion.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note:

While obvious printer's errors have been corrected, inconsistencies and
unusual spelling were preserved as in the original.

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