« ZurückWeiter »
for the blood that is shed; for the affections that are sundered; for the quiet of many a peaceful family that is interrupted, and the happiness of many a fireside that is destroyed ; and great must be the interests at stake, noble must be the principles for which he contends, or he will find the burden of this responsibility too heavy to be borne. He will sink under it, amidst the execrations of those who owe to him the ruin of their prosperity, and the wreck of their dearest hopes.
Loyalty is not an unmeaning word in a republic. It is due to the free institutions by which we are surrounded, to the establishments created by the wisdom of our fathers, and transmitted as the noblest heritage to their children. то cherish this feeling is our best safeguard against anarchy and licentiousness, evils which, in a modern democracy, are to be feared at least as much as oppression and misrule. Patriotism was considered as the highest virtue in the Roman republic, and it has lost none of its value or significance in these our times. Its object, indeed, is not the ground on which we tread, nor the homes wherein we dwell, nor the individuals whom we call our countrymen, though with most of them we have no nearer connexion than if they lived on the other side of the boundary line. Its object is rather the body politic of which we are a part ; it is the state to which we owe allegiance ; it is the government, by whose acts we are bound.
This obligation may quickly be broken, it is true ; the tie may easily be ruptured, for it is the nature of a popular government to rest lightly upon the community, and to be guarded only by the affections of those over whom it extends. But if the act be rashly or recklessly done, it will be the sure source of misery and strife, that can end only in the prostration of our liberties, by subjection to the yoke of another country, or to the hard rule of a military despot.
Art. VI. – Rural Architecture : consisting of Classic
Dwellings, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Gothic, and
ArchitecTURE is, beyond question, the oldest and most impressive of the fine arts. In several important points of view, it demands precedence over its more popular accessories, sculpture and painting. Without claiming for it a higher station than will be readily conceded by persons of taste, it may be observed, that these two arts are merely its subsidiary embellishments, and that, in some degree, it is the union and embodiment of both. It ought not, then, to be viewed as less interesting than either. Its various stages of progress furnish abundant opportunity for reflection, and a wide theme for profitable remark. It has been regarded as so direct a means of inspiring the imagination, and creating sublime ideas in the mind, as to be assigned, by ingenious writers, to a high place among those causes which affect the character of an age, and exert a prominent influence over the moral and intellectual habits of a people. It is not, then, from any want of untouched matter, or of fresh subjects for the use of the pen, that so little notice of its present condition among us, has lately appeared in this Journal. On the contrary, there is quite enough in the recent works of our builders to engage the attention of the amateur, and demand the animadversions of the critic. We will readily admit, indeed, that the maxim, nil dictum quod non dictum prius, should be carefully kept in view while speaking of this polite and liberal art. But this maxim, in architecture as in law, should be applied to general principles, and not to new circumstances, or to novel combinations of facts. Whenever these arise, it is certainly well to improve upon them. We would not attempt to advance new doctrines, or to advocate any startling novelties of opinion ; we would only bring some of those true principles again before the public, which were long since settled and acknowledged by high authority, but which seem in frequent danger, among us, of being overlooked, sligḥted, or forgotten. We enter upon this course with the full conviction, that the pursuit of it has always proved beneficial to the art. For the common consent of cultivated minds has fully established this truth, that the system of the ancient architects does not admit of any wide departure from precedent and usage, and if its fundamental principles are in any degree contravened, the certain and speedy consequence will be the degradation and debase. ment of all its real beauties.
With pleasure, therefore, should we hail even the faint indication of a desire to study the spirit and meaning, instead of reproducing the mere forms and details, of the works of our predecessors. So long as this energy, this sensibility of taste, is wanting, there remains one, at least, of the highest marks of civilization, to which we can have no valid claim. The great test of excellence in design has been repeatedly declared to be this, that there should be no parts about a building which are not necessary for convenience, construction, and propriety, while the neglect of this rule is undoubtedly the immediate cause of all the bad architecture of the present time. Mr. Jefferson is said to have remarked, in reference to the style of building which prevailed in his day, that “ the genius of architecture seemed to have shed a peculiar malediction over America." Little is it to be wondered at, that such should have been the honest conviction of an acute observer, and a man of tolerable taste, at a time when the weak puerilities of Latrobe and his rivals formed the most elevated standard of our architectural excellence. Those flaunting and meretricious edifices, the Capitol at Washington, and the Statehouse at Boston, stand forth to us as the highest efforts of their composition and invention, while all below them was left to the indiscriminate mercies of the house-joiner and the
But if this was the opinion of Mr. Jefferson forty years ago, it cannot be said that, at the present day, there is any reason to reverse the desponding verdict. I'he architectural faults and follies of his times have indeed passed away ; but we do not hesitate to affirm, that they have been succeeded by others of a different and more deplorable kind. If baldness and want of fancy were the bane of that period, the ostentatious meanness and stilted pretension of our contemporaries are not a whit better. An expression of character and appropriateness might have been wanting in the works of the former builders ; still it was, at least, aimed at and attempted; the church was erected in one style, the senate-house in another, the private mansion in another. But with us, such discrimination is rarely shown ; the elevation of the Parthenon, Erectheum, or the Ilissus is the Procustes bed, on which the relentless measure of all our public and private wants and uses is taken, and we are seldom allowed any alternative. Because a façade is beautiful in one situation, it is without hesitation adopted in all. A leaf cut out of Stuart's “ Athens,” that inexhaustible quarry of bad taste, supplies our architect with his design and his detail ; he duplicates the columns of the Choragic monument under the crowded portico of the suburban citizen's box ; and sacrifices, in every situation, all discrimination and all distinctive character to his imaginary Moloch of classical chasteness. We are almost tempted to suppose, that whenever he sits down to his drawing-board, an attendant stands close at his elbow, to whisper in his ear the dismal motto which, as Montaigne relates, was every day repeated by the pages of Darius ; " Sir, remember the Athenians." So effectually does he remember them, that he finds room in his memory for noth
Without columns, he cannot compose any thing ; and with them, he seems to think he cannot fail of being fine. Thus, market-house, cottage, bank, town-hall, lawschool, church, brewery, and theatre, with him are all the same. It matters not how widely different their character, how exactly opposite their purpose. His blind admiration for the Grecian colonnade seems to obtrude the object of its bigotry into every situation where its inappropriateness becomes most evident and most ridiculous. Yet we grieve to record, that this servile manner of repetition has established itself in general practice, and finds plenty of advocates among those
" Who talk of principles, but nothing prize,
And all to one loved folly sacrifice." Thus the hexastyle portico of Athens is, indeed, reproduced in every locality, and with every variety of material that ingenuity can devise ; but the fitness of the design to the purpose for which it is intended, if recognized at all in theory, is much oftener honored in the breach than the observance, in practice.
While, then, these objects of tasteless and ignorant imitation are looking us in the face at every turn, it is scarcely
possible for any one to believe, that our architects possess a particle of that first of all requisites - invention. Is there any proof of its existence among them, when we see the same idea repeated by all, - Aimsily disguised, perhaps, but still the same, hashed up and set before us again and again ? It does not even appear, that they have often cultivated that lower excellence, which Reynolds allows the young painter sometimes to aim at, — the ability to borrow with judgment from the ideas of others, and to use them with grace and fancy. But how could any other result than this be expected ? Like those self-satisfied Platonists, who, instead of following out their great master in his search for all truth, are content to stop short exactly where Plato left them, they seem to have proposed to themselves a definite mark in their art, a limited boundary, beyond which they do not care
They are satisfied to overlook the fundamental rules of their profession, because they can earn a cheap and vulgar distinction by disregarding them ; by reërecting the eternal temples of the tropics, in timber and plaster imitations on the bleak shores of New England.
“ On which the mazed people gaze and stare,
Sir T. More. This is their loftiest flight of fancy, — the ultima Thule of their imagination. If ever varied, it is only to compose a new order which mocks at the grace of Pericles,
to invent a new arrangement of columns, that ingeniously destroys their propriety and perverts their use, or to place an idolatrous Egyptian gateway as an entrance to a place of Christian sepulture. In short, the locality, destination, and character of a structure appear to be the last considerations which find any place in the basis of their designs, while each new effort, each fresh proceeding, seems only to involve the arts in a deeper and more hopeless degradation.
Perhaps it will not be deemed sufficient to put forth this decided statement, without supporting it by a particular reference to individual examples. The bare assertions of the critic, when unsustained by tangible proof, will always pass for nothing. We heartily agree with Burnet in the determination “to lay aside that lazy and fallacious method of censuring by the lump, and so bring things close to the test of true or false.” Fraus latet in generalibus. But we approach this necessary part of our task with reluctance, since the motives of it