Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

tiated visiter to expect so little, that he can scarcely fail of experiencing the most agreeable disappointment. The exterior of this old church is of brick, painted a dull lead color, except the rusticated quoins, and key-stones, which are of dark brown freestone. The tower is low and square, rising only one story above the roof of the building, and having a circular-headed opening in each of its sides, to form a belfry for a bell of great size and very powerful tone. But if the exterior be so grim and forbidding as to repel examination, the charming interior, on the contrary, will amply repay it. It is divided transversely, by a row of four Corinthian columns, into a centre and two side aisles ; the columns are deeply fluted, and adorned with the highest degree of embellishment belonging to the Roman form of this rich order. The ornate variety of the style of art which prevailed in ancient Rome at the time of the erection of that magnificent structure, the temple of Jupiter Stator, and which was closely followed in the works of the English architects at the beginning of the last century, seems to us to be much better suited to the purposes of modern interiors, than the exact and rigid proportions of those more precise examples which the present fashion almost exclusively copies At all events, it has been fully adopted, with a very fortunate effect, in the interior under consideration. In many of its features, it reminds us strongly of the parish church of St. Mary, Woolnoth, in London, -- an edifice described by Mr. Gwilt, as full of such exquisite beauties, that it is irksome to dwell on its few and triling faults.” We wish that we had access to any measurements of its dimensions, in order to ascertain how far the architect has deviated from the sesquilateral proportion so carefully adhered to by Wren, and which produces the harmony and enchanting effect so frequently observed in the interiors of that great master. It appears, however, so far as it can be judged by the to be designed, though not after Wren's rule, yet with a great degree of uniformity and attention to geometrical arrangement. It should not remain unvisited by any one who has a mind to see how architecture was practised in Boston at a time when the wealth of the city was not great, and, as might be supposed, its actual means of refinement were in a far less advanced state than at present. It would certainly be VOL. LVIII. No. 123.

51

more gratifying to us, could we honestly give our opinion, that art had been a decided gainer by the change.

The little episcopal church at Cambridge was erected not far from the same period, being finished in the year 1760. It is, or rather was, for the interior went through the ordeal of church-wardenizing not long ago, a model of beauty and propriety in all its parts. No one can fail to observe the happy effect of its exterior proportions, and the dignity it acquires from the deep cornice with which it is finished. On each side elevation are five long, circular-headed windows, surrounded with a bold moulding, ending in a return, and imparting a great degree of relief to the apertures which it decorates. The tower is singularly modest and charming, with not one half the show, but infinitely more than the merit, of its opposite neighbour. The effect of the interior, though somewhat injured by alterations, is yet very pleasing. There is no doubt, that the architect intended to have made the entablature continuous, instead of carrying it up in a square mass over every single column ; but a want of the necessary funds is said to have prevented its completion. The organ gallery, and the three doors under it, are designed in fine taste; the order throughout the whole interior being the bold and graceful Roman Ionic, with its angular volutes and delicately finished modillions. The aspect of the church is much impaired by the situation of the painted altar-piece, which was brought from the old Trinity church in Boston, when that building was taken down, and has been stuck up in its present situation, at the wrong end of the church, without any regard to propriety or effect. The arrangement of the pulpit, desk, and pews was formerly much more in keeping than at present, the pulpit standing forward into the nave, as at the King's Chapel ; but it is now very improperly removed back, so as only to be reached by an inconvenient circuit inside the altar railing.

It is a pity, that any circumstances should intervene, to impair the pleasing impression which the architecture of this beautiful little church is calculated to convey. But pleasing as it is, it is quite evident, that the example set forth in its design has been almost without any effect upon the public

It appears to have been imitated only in a single instance, a church in the same town, which stands a little

taste.

to the left, as we enter by the high road from Boston. But the alterations made in the copy cannot be viewed as improvements upon the original. The elegant simplicity of the one becomes only baldness in the other, which, however, is certainly a much prettier church than many others we could mention in its vicinity. It is strange, that the purity and harmony of character observable in the older church should generally have been so feebly appreciated, and, in this case, so poorly copied. But where we find one architect who is willing to acknowledge its merit, there are many who would not rest satisfied, till it had been improved out of all its real beauties. Few can hope to equal the elegance of this example, and, look about us where we will, we do not find that any one has, as yet, been able to surpass it. Their works want that piquant but proper originality, which this design exhibits.

“ The architect,” observes Mr. Loudon, 66 to whom architecture is not an art of imagination as well as an art of reason, can never, by any possibility, rise above the rank of an imitative builder. He may rear edifices of great strength, solidity, and durability, very fitly arranged for the purposes for which they are built, and very correct in their architectural details ; but he will never be able to produce a structure in which novelty and originality are combined with the other requisites of excellence; or, when placed in a situation where rules no longer apply, to rise superior to obstacles which would be reckoned insurmountable by ordinary minds, and thus out of difficulties to start beauties. This can be done alone by the architect of imagination, and it is only such an architect that is entitled to be considered as an artist possessing the powers of invention, or genius.”

We cannot but repeat here the wish expressed on former occasion, that the faultless proportions of the Cambridge church may yet be imitated and preserved in stone. We often tremble for the safety of so beautiful a model, exposed to all the accidents of decay and of fire, to which a wooden building is always liable.

Coming down to a somewhat later period, we find in this vicinity several steeples and spires, which we cannot allow to pass without some degree of commendation. First among these, for elegance of contour and pleasing disposition of its parts, we are inclined to place the steeple of the octagonal church in Summer street. Upon the body of the church

a

at all.

itself, we should only waste time in bestowing any criticism

But above the portico, we conceive the steeple to possess a great share of merit. The manner in which it diminishes in the various stories, and changes from a square to a circular, and then to an octagonal, plan, is certainly very agreeable to the eye. Upon a broad square stylobate, next above the roof, it rises in three separate divisions, adorned with columns at the breaks, and containing arched windows in the principal sides. These stories, and the elevated bases on which they rest, are very symmetrically proportioned to each other, and all the main points of which they are composed are kept strictly within the line of an imaginary pyramid ; while the angles are occupied with ornamental vases, of pleasing figure, which have been judiciously introduced, to fill up the outline of the corners, and conduce to the regularity of its conical form. To the strict observance of this valuable idea, the architect is mainly indebted for his success. Notwithstanding occasional improprieties of detail, (such as the introduction of balusters, where sunken panels would have been more appropriate,) yet, considering it as a mass, and with regard to its graceful and airy effect, we cannot hesitate to assign a higher rank to it than to any specimen of the kind which we are now so fortunate as to possess. To combine lightness and harmony in such a work must always be a difficult task. The lofty magnificence and the exuberant fancy of the pointed style are denied to a structure, that is to be made up only of distinct and different portions of architectural detail. The classic orders abound in horizontal lines and shadows, and naturally form themselves into a very different species of combinations. In fact, they have no affinity whatever to steeple-like erections, and the architect who thus employs them will vaidly endeavour to rival the beauty of that style, to which these striking appendages more properly belong

The steeple of the church in Hollis street, though it has some good points, is yet very faulty from the fact that it diminishes in a broken and irregular manner. The columns of the upper story, which is next below the springing of the spire, have, at a little distance, the effect of a temporary staging placed round the body of the steeple. The pyramidal outline has not been attended to at all, and the natural consequence is, an utter want of lightness and of continuity

of effect. Its elevation from the ground is very considerable, and it forms quite a conspicuous object in all the distant views of the city. The spire in Park street is also very lofty and imposing, and is said to have been mainly copied from one of Gibbs's published designs. The mannerisms observable in its construction seem to give some support to the suggestion. As a whole, it makes quite a showy figure, and forms an agreeable architectural object in a general view of the Common; but its different portions will not well bear the test of a closer inspection. The steeples of St. Paul's and St. John's churches, in New York, are also not unfavorable examples of this kind of structure. They are attached to buildings which display a Roman order, and are not much inferior in design to those of the same style to be met with abroad. They were erected forty or fifty years ago. But nearly all our recent churches, being designed after Grecian models, are destitute of steeples, which, as we have before remarked, are so much at variance with that manner of building, that it would be the height of impropriety to introduce them.

Having thus considered the relative merits of those edifices in our neighbourhood, which are imitated from the antique specimens of Greece and Rome, it will perhaps be expected, that we next pass to an examination of the Gothic structures that have been erected in the United States within the last few years. In these, we rejoice to perceive an increased knowledge, and a growing taste. There are few things in architecture, that could hold out less promise of excellence, than the old Trinity church and_the Masonic Hall, in New-York, and the Temple and the Federal street church, in Boston. But since the erection of these, it is evident, that a rapid advance has been made in an acquaintance with the true principles of the Gothic style. We are satisfied of this, when we see such edifices as Christ church, Brooklyn, and the new Trinity church in New York, rising, in almost mediæval grandeur, upon our western shores. It is truly gratifying to perceive such substantial evidences of the wealth, the taste, and the piety of a people. We trust that, before

many years have elapsed, we shall see among us more churches like these, which are, indeed, truly worthy of the

name.

We gladly take the present opportunity to confess, as we

« ZurückWeiter »