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So long, therefore, as our researches are confined to what they had written, many important problems remain unsolved, and must ever remain as unsolvable as they have hitherto proved. My conviction is, that the lithic mode of investigation is not only capable of supplementing to a very great extent the deficiencies of the graphic method, and of yielding new and useful results, but that the information obtained by its means is much more trustworthy than anything that can be elaborated from the books of that early age.

It does not therefore terrify me in the least to be told that such men as Niebuhr, Cornewall Lewis, or Grote, have arrived at conclusions different from those I have ventured to express in the following pages. Their information is derived wholly from what is written, and it does not seem ever to have occurred to them, or to any of our best scholars, that there was either history or ethnography built into the architectural remains of antiquity.

While they were looking steadily at one side of the shield, I fancy I have caught a glimpse of the other. It has been the accident of my life—I do not claim it as a merit—that I have wandered all over the Old World.


I have seen much that they never saw, and I have had access to sources of information of which they do not suspect the existence. While they were trying to reconcile what the Greek or Roman authors said about nations who never wrote books, and with regard to whom they consequently had little information, I was trying to read the history which these very people had recorded in stone, in characters as clear and far more indelible than those written in ink. If, consequently, we arrived at different conclusions, it may possibly be owing more to the sources from which the information is derived than to any difference between the individuals who announce it.

In an age like the present, when nine-tenths of the population can read, and every man who has anything to say rushes into print, or makes a speech which is printed next xix morning, every feeling and every information regarding a people may be dug out of its books.

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But it certainly was not so in the Middle Ages, nor in the early ages of Greek or Roman history. Still less was this so in Egypt, nor is it the case in India, or in many other countries; and to apply our English nineteenth century experience to all these seems to me to be a mistake. In those countries and times, men who had a hankering after immortality were forced to build their aspirations into the walls of their tombs or of their temples.

Those who had poetry in their souls, in nine cases out of ten expressed it by the more familiar vehicle of sculpture or painting rather than in writing. To me it appears that to neglect these in trying to understand the manners and customs, or the history of an ancient people, is to throw away one-half, and generally the most valuable half, in some cases the whole, of the evidence bearing on the subject. So long as learned men persist in believing that all that can be known of the ancient world is to be found in their books, and resolutely ignore the evidence of architecture and of art, we have little in common.

I consequently feel neither abashed nor ashamed at being told that men of the most extensive book-learning have arrived at different conclusions from myself—on the contrary, if it should happen that we agreed in some point to which their contemporary works did not extend, I should rather be inclined to suspect some mistake, and hesitate to put it down. There is one other point in which I fancy misconception exists, of a nature that may probably be more easily removed by personal explanation than by any other means.

It is very generally objected to my writings that I neither understand nor appreciate the beauties of Gothic architecture, and consequently criticise it with undue severity. I regret that such a feeling should prevail, partly because it is prejudicial to the dissemination of the views I am anxious to promulgate, but more because at a time when in this country the admiration of Gothic art is so nearly universal, it alienates from me the best class of men who love the art, and prevents their co-operating with me in the improvement of our architecture, which is the great object which we all have at heart.

If I cannot now speak of Gothic architecture with the same enthusiasm as others, this certainly was not the case in the early part of my career as a student of art. If I did not learn to understand it then, it was xx not for want of earnest attention and study. I got so far into its spirit that I thought I saw then how better things could be done in Gothic art than had been done either in the Middle Ages or since; and I think so now.

But if it is to be done, it must be by free thought, not by servile copying. My confidence was still further weakened when I saw what richness and variety the Hindu had elaborated not only without pointed arches, but indeed without any arches at all.

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After so extended a survey, it was easy to perceive that beauty in architecture did not reside in pointed or in round arches, in bracket capitals or horizontal architraves, but in thoughtful appropriateness of design and intellectual elegance of detail. I became convinced that no form is in itself better than any other, and that in all instances those are best which are most appropriate to the purposes to which they are applied. My own conviction is, that the great difference which seems to exist between my views and those of the parties opposed to them arises almost entirely from this accident of education.

In addition to this, however, we must not overlook the fact that for three centuries all the architects in Europe concurred in believing that the whole of their art began and ended in copying classical forms and details. When a reaction came, it was not, unfortunately, in the direction of freedom; but towards a more servile imitation of another style, which—whether better or worse in itself—was not a style of our age, nor suited to our wants or feelings.

It is perhaps not to be wondered at, that after three centuries of perseverance in one particular groove, men should have ceased to have any faith in the possibility of reason or originality being employed in xxi architectural design. I may be deceiving myself, but I cannot help fancying that I perceive signs of a reaction.

The misfortune is, that their enlightenment is more apt to lead to despondency than to hope. Architecture with most people is a mystery—something different from all other arts; and they do not see that it is and must be subject to the same rules as they all are, and must be practised in the same manner, if it is to be successful. Whether the nation will or will not soon awaken to the importance of this prosaic anti-climax, one thing at least seems certain and most hopeful.

Men are not satisfied with what is doing; a restless, inquiring spirit is abroad, and if people can only be induced to think seriously about it, I feel convinced that they will be as much astonished at their present admiration of Gothic town-halls and Hyde Park Albert Memorials, as we are now at the Gothic fancies of Horace Walpole and the men of his day.

Although every possible care has been taken in selecting the best authorities for the statements in the text of the work, as well as the subjects for illustration, still no one acquainted with the state of the literature of architecture will need to be told that in many branches few materials exist for a correct description of the style, and that the drawings which are available are frequently so inexact, and with scales so carelessly applied, that it is impossible at times to avoid error.

They suffice to enable the reader to judge of the relative size of two buildings by a mere inspection of the plans, as correctly as he could by seeing the buildings themselves, without actually measuring them in all their details. As a general rule, the sections or elevations of buildings, throughout the book, are drawn to a scale double that of the plans, viz. No lineal dimensions are quoted in the text except such as it is believed can be relied upon, and in all instances these are reduced to English feet. The superficial measures also in the text, like the plans, are quite sufficient for comparison, though not to be relied upon as absolutely correct.

One great source of uncertainty as regards them is the difficulty of knowing at times what should be included in the building referred to. Should, for instance, the Lady Chapel at Ely be considered an integral part of the Cathedral, or the Chapter-house at Wells?

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Should the sacristies attached to Continental cathedrals be considered as part of the church? What constitutes the temple at Karnac, and how much of this belongs to the Hypostyle Hall? These and fifty other questions occur in almost every instance which may lead two persons to very different conclusions regarding the superficial dimensions of a building, even without the errors inherent in imperfect materials.

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When the woodcut was either too large for the page, or too small to be distinct if reduced to the usual scale, a scale of feet has been added under it, to show that it is an exception to the rule. Capitals, windows, and details which are meant to illustrate forms or construction, and not particular buildings, are drawn to any scale that seemed best to express the purpose for which they are inserted; when they are remarkable for size, or as individual examples, a scale has been added; but this is the exception, not the rule.

Every pain has been taken to secure the greatest possible amount of accuracy, and in all instances the sources from which the woodcuts have been taken are indicated. Many of the illustrations are from original drawings, and of buildings never before published. Like every other object of human inquiry, Architecture may be studied from two distinct points of view.

Either it may be regarded statically, and described scientifically as a thing existing, without any reference to the manner in which it was invented; or it may be treated historically, tracing every form from its origin and noting the influence one style has had upon another in the progress of time. The first of these methods is more technical, and demands on the part of the student very considerable previous knowledge before it can be successfully prosecuted. The other, besides being more popular and easily followed, has the advantage of separating the objects of study into natural groups, and tracing more readily their connection and relation to one another.


The great superiority, however, of the historical mode of study arises from the fact that, when so treated, Architecture ceases to be a mere art, interesting only to the artist or his employer, but becomes one of the most important adjuncts of history, filling up many gaps in the written record and giving life and reality to much that without its presence could with difficulty be realised.

A still more important use of architecture, when followed as a history, is found in its ethnographic value. Every different race of men had their own peculiar forms in using the productions of this art, and their own mode of expressing their feelings or aspirations by its means. When properly studied, it consequently affords a means as important as language for discriminating between the different races of mankind—often more so, and one always more trustworthy and more easily understood.

In consequence of these advantages, the historical mode is that which will be followed in this work. But before entering upon the narrative, it will be well if a correct definition of what Architecture really is can be obtained. Without some clear views on the technical position of the art, much that follows will be unintelligible and the meaning of what is said may be mistaken. This error arose in the 16th century, when in a fatal hour painters and sculptors undertook also the practice of architecture, and builders ceased to be architects.

This confusion of ideas has been perpetuated to the present hour, and much of the degraded position of the art at this day is owing to the mistake then made. It cannot therefore be too strongly insisted upon that there is no essential connection between painting and sculpture on the one hand and architecture on the other. The two former rank among what are called Phonetic arts. Their business is to express by colour or form ideas that could be—generally have been—expressed by words.

With the Egyptians their hieroglyphical paintings were their only means of recording their ideas. Poetry, Painting, and Sculpture are three branches of one form of art, refined from Prose, Colour, and Carving, and form a group apart, interchanging ideas and modes of expression, but always dealing with the same class of images and appealing to the same class of feelings. Distinct and separate from these Phonetic arts is another group, generally known as the Technic arts, comprising all those which minister to the primary wants of mankind under such various heads as food, clothing, and shelter.

They take their rise from the fact that to every want which the technic arts are designed to supply, Nature has attached a gratification which is capable of refining all the useful arts into fine arts. Thus the Technic art of agriculture is capable of supplying food in its simple form; but by the refinements of cookery and of wine-making, simple meats and drinks are capable of affording endless gratification to the senses. Simple clothing to keep out the cold requires little art, but embroidery, dyeing, lace-making, and fifty other arts employ the hands of millions, and the gratification afforded by their use, the thoughts of as many more.

Shelter, too, is easily provided, but ornamental and ornamented shelter, or in other words architecture, is one of the most prominent of the fine arts.

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Like music, colour and form may be so arranged as to afford 5 infinite pleasure to the senses without their having any phonetic value; but when used, as sculpture and paintings are and have been in all ages, to tell a tale or to express emotion, they rank high among the Phonetic arts; and though able to express certain impressions even more vividly than can be done by words, they cannot rise to the high intellectual position that can be attained either by Poetry or Eloquence when expressed only in that verbal language which is the highest gift of God to man.

The term Beauty in Art is little else than a synonym for Perfection, but perfection in these three classes of arts is far from being the same thing, or of anything like the same value, as an intellectual expression. The beauty of a machine, however complicated, arises mainly from its adaptability to use; while a mosaic of exquisite colours, or an elevated piece of instrumental music, raises emotions of a far higher class: and a painting or a poem may appeal to all that is great or noble in human nature.

Of course there are adventitious circumstances which may raise the proportionate value of any art very considerably, and, on the other hand, neglect of cultivation may depress others below their true value; but the principles on which the table is formed are probably those by which a correct estimate may be most easily obtained.

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The first three arts enumerated in the above table are evidently utterly incapable of Phonetic expression, and the first hardly even can 6 be raised to the second class, though air combined with warmth does afford pleasure to the senses. Joinery may convey an idea of perfection from the mode in which it is designed or executed; while gastronomy, as above mentioned, does really afford important gratification to the senses, approaching nearly in importance to the plain food-supplying art of cookery.

Jewellery may combine extreme mechanical beauty of execution with the most harmonious arrangement of colour, and may also be made to express a meaning, though only to a very limited extent.

Clothing depends on both colour and form for its perfection more than even beauty of material, and may be made to express gaiety or sorrow, though perhaps more from association than from any inherent qualities. The arts of the potter can exhibit not only perfection in execution, but practically depend both in colour and form, especially the latter, to raise their products out of the category of mere Technic arts; while the paintings on them, which are indispensable to the highest class of ceramique, render them capable of taking their place among those objects which affect a Phonetic mode of utterance.

As mentioned above, floriculture and landscape gardening may, besides their use, afford infinite pleasure to the senses and even express gaiety or gloom, and, from mere prettiness, may rise towards something like sublimity in expression.