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for if the form be well contrived, and the several parts be properly adjusted to their endo we immediately express our opinion that it is well proportioned.
2498. There is, however, between proportion and fitness, a distinction drawn by our author, which must be noticed. “ Fitness expresses the relation of the whole of the means to the end ; proportion, the proper relation of a part or parts to their end." But the distinction is too refined to be of importance in our consideration ; for the due proportion of parts is simply that particular form and dimension which from experience has been found best suited to the object in view. “ Proportion," therefore continues Alison, " is to be considered as applicable only to forms composed of parts, and to express the relation of propriety between any part or parts and the end they are destined to serve."
2499. Forms are susceptible of many divisions, and consequently proportions; but these are only subordinate to the great end of the whole. Thus, for instance, in the constantly varying forms of fashion, say in a chair or table, the merely ornamental parts may bear no relation to the general fitness of the form, but they must be so contrived as to avoid unpleasant sensation, and not to interfere with the general fitness. If we do not understand the nature of its fitness, we cannot judge of the proportion properly. “No man," says Alison, “ ever presumes to speak of the proportions of a machine of the use of which he is ignorant.” When, however, we become acquainted with the use or purpose of a particular class of forms, we at the same time acquire a knowledge which brings under our view and acquaintance a larger circle of agreeable proportions than the rest of the world understand ; and those parts which by others are regarded with indifference, we contempiate with pleasure, from our superior knowledge of their fitness for the end designed. The proportions of an object must not in strength be carried beyond what is required for fitness, for in that case they will degenerate into clumsiness, whilst elegance, on the contrary, is the result of the nicest adjustment of proportion.
2500. Fitness cannot exist in any architectural object without equilibrium in all the parts as well as the whole. The most complete and perfect notion that can be conceived of stability, which is the result of equilibrium, may be derived from the contemplation of an horizontal straight line ; whilst, on the contrary, of instability nothing seems more expressive than a vertical straight line. These being, then, assumed as the extremes of stability and instability, by carrying out the gradations between the two extremes, we may, extending in two parts the vertical line, obtain various forms, more or Jess expressive of stability as they approach or recede from the horizontal line. In fig. 860. we have, standing on the same base, the general form of the lofty Gothic spire ; the pleasing, solid, and enduring form of the Egyptian pyramid; and that of the flat Grecian pediment: which last, though in its inclination adjusted on different grounds, which have been examined in Book II. Chap. III. subsect. 2027, et seq., is an eminent instance of stability. The spire, from its height and small base, seems to possess but a tottering equilibrium compared with the others.
2501. Stability is obviously dependent on the laws of gravitation, on which, under the division of statics, not only the architect, but the painter and sculptor, should bestow considerable attention. We cannot for a moment suppose it will be disputed that at least one of the causes of the beauty of the pyramid is a satisfactory impression on the mind of the state of rest or stability it possesses. Rest, repose, stability, balance. all meaning nearly the same thing, are then the very essential ingredients in fitness; and therefore, in architeetural subjects, instability, or the appearance of it, is fatal to beauty. Ilustrations of this exist in the famous Asinelli and Garisendi towers at Bologna, and at Pisa in the celebrated leaning Campanile.
2502. It may be objected to what we have written, that fitness alone will not account for the pleasure which arises in the contemplation of what are called the orders of archi. tecture, and Alison seems very much to doubt whether there be not some other cause of beauty. It will, however, be our business to show how the ancients, their inventors, considered principally their fitness ; and upon these grounds to show, moreover, how the proportions in ancient examples varied, and may be still further varied, without infringing upon the principles which guided them in the original invention. Payne Knight has well observed, “ that the fundamental error of imitators in all the arts is, that they servilely copy the effects which they see produced, instead of supplying and adopting the principles which guided the original artists in producing them; wherefore they disregard all those local, temporary, or accidental circumstances upon which their propriety or impropriety, their congruity or incongruity, wholly depend.” Grecian temples, Gothic abbeys, and frudal castles were all well adapted to their respective uses, circumstances, and situations ; the distribution of the parts subservient to the purposes of the whole ; and the ornaments and decorations suited to the character of the parts, and to the manners, habits, and employments of the persons who were to occupy them: but the house of an English noble
man of tne 18th or 19th century is neither a Grecian temple, a Gothic abbey, nor a feudal castle ; and if the style of distribution or decoration of either be employed in it, such changes and modifications should be admitted as may adapt it to existing circumstances, otherwise the scale of its exactitude becomes that of its incongruity, and the deviation from principle proportioned to the fidelity of imitation.” This is but another application of the principle of fitness which we have above considered, the chief foundation of beauty in the art. We have shown how it is dependent on stability as a main source of fitness, and here subjoin some maxims which will lead the student to fitness in his designs, and prevent him from running astray, if he but bring himself to the belief that they are reasonable, and founded upon incontestable grounds, which we can assure him they are.
First. Let that which is the stronger part always bear the weaker.
Eighth. Let him recollect that nothing is beautiful which has not some good and useful end.
If, after having made his design, he will scrupulously test it by these maxims seriatim, and will strike out what is discordant with the tenor of them, he will bave overcome a few of the difficulties which attend the commencement of his career.
2503. We are not of the same opinion with those who, on a geometrical elevation of a building, draw lines from its apex, which, bounding the principal parts of the outline, find a pyramidal form, and thence infer beauty of general outline. If those who favour such a notion will but reflect for a moment, they must see that this cannot be a test of its effect, inasmuch as the construction of a geometrical elevation of any edifice supposes it to be viewed at an infinite distance, whereas, in fact, it is most generally viewed under angles which would puzzle the most learned architect, without full investigation, to discover the primary lines which they assume to be the causes of its beauty. The obscurations and foreshortenings that take place are at points of view near the building itself; and, however judicious it may be to form the general masses in obedience to such a system, so as to produce an effect in the distance that may be in accordance with the principle, it would be extremely dangerous to lay the principle down as a law. The finest view of St. Paul's is perhaps a little east of Fetter Lane, on the northern side of Fleet Street ; but it would puzzle any one to discover its pyramidal form from that point of view.
2504. The beauty of the proportions of architecture in the interiors of buildings is dependent on those which govern the exteriors. Much has been said on proportions of rooms, which, hereafter, we shall have to notice: we mean the proportions of their length to their breadth and height. That these are important, we cannot deny ; but whether the beauty of a room is altogether dependent on the due adjustment of these, we have some doubts; that is, under certain limits. We here address ourselves more particularly to that fitness which, in ornamenting a ceiling, for example, requires that the beams which appear below the general surface should invariably fall over piers, and that in this respect corresponding sides should be uniform. In the study of this point, Inigo Jones is the great English master who has left the student the most valuable examples of this branch of the art.
2505. It may, perhaps, be useful to observe generally that the bare proportions of the interiors of apartments depend on the purposes for which they are intended, and according to these we seek iminediately for the expression of their fitness. This point, therefore, involves on the part of the architect so general an acquaintance with the most refined habits of his employers, that we should be almost inclined to agree with Vitruvius on the multifarious qualifications necessary to constitute a good one. Certain it is that no instructions he can receive for building a mansion will qualify him without an intimate acquaintance with the habits of the upper classes of society.
2506. We have already stated that it is hopeless to arrive at a fixed standard of taste. That considered worthy of the appellation will not be so considered in another. “ The sable Africans," says Knight, quoting from Mungo Park, “view with pity and contempt the marked deformity of the Europeans, whose mouths are compressed, their noses pincheda their cheeks shrunk, their hair rendered lank and flimsy, their bodies lengthened and emaciated, and their skins unnaturally bleached by shade and seclusion, and the baneful influence of a humid climate." In the countries of Europe, where some similarity of taste may be expected, the tyranny of fashion, no less than that of habit and circumstance, has, and always will have, its influence on the arts. Within the short space of even a few months we have seen what is called the renaissance style of architecture imported from France, drawing into its vortex all classes of persons, many of them among the higher
ranks, possessed of education to have patronised better taste; and in archite ture, and some other arts, no one solves the question of what is really right by saying that there have been errors in the tastes of different ages.
2507. The specimens of Greek sculpture, whose beauty is founded in nature herself, will throughout all time excite the admiration of the world; because in this case, the standard or type being nature, mankind generally may be supposed to be competent judges of the productions of the art. But it is very different in architecture, whose types in every style are, as respects their origin, uncertain ; and when we are asked whether there be a real and permanent principle of beauty in the art, though we must immediately reply in the affirmative, we are at the same time constrained to refer it to the quality of fitness. If this were not the case, how could we extend our admiration to the various styles of Egyptian, Grecian, Roman, Gothic, and Italian architecture? These at first appear, compared with each other, so dissimilar, that it seems impossible to assign beauty to one without denying it to the rest
. But on examination each will be found so fitted to its end, that such cause alone will be found to be the principal source of the pleasure that an educated mind receives from each style; and that thence it arises, rather than from any certain or definable combinations of forms, lines, or colours that are in themselves gratifying to the mind or agreeable to the organs of sensation. If this be true, what becomes of the doctrine of the German æsthetical school, so vaunted of by self-constituted critics and reviewers, who pass their judgment ex ca hedrâ on works they have never seen, and, strange to say, are tolerated for a moment by the public? The truth is, the public rarely give themselves the trouble to judge ; and unless led, which is easily done by the few, do not undertake the trouble of judging for themselves. That the Egyptian pyramid, the Grecian and the Roman temple, the early Christian basilica, the Gothic cathedral, the Florentine palace, the Saracenic mosque, the pagoda of the East, are all beautiful objects, we apprehend none will dispute; but there is in none of them a common form or standard by which we can judge of their beauty: the only standard on which we can fall back is the great fitness of them, under their several circumstances, for the end proposed in their erection.
2508. We are thus unavoidably driven to the conclusion that beauty in its application to architecture changes the meaning of the word with every change of its application; for those forms which in one style are strictly beautiful on account of their fitness, applied to another become disgusting and absurd. By way of illustrating this, let us only picture to ourselves a frieze of Grecian triglyphs separating the nave and clerestory of a Gothic cathedral. From what we have been taught to consider the type of the Doric frieze connected with its triglyphs an idea of fitness immediately arises in the mind; but we cannot trace its fitness in a dissimilar situation. neither can we comment on such an incongruity better than in the oft-quoted lines of Horace:
" Humano capiti cervicem pictor equinam
Jungere si velit, et varias inducere plumas
Spectatum admissi risum teneatis amici ?" The influence of circumstances in every age has imparted to each style of architecture its peculiar beauty and interest ; and until some extraordinary convulsion in society give the impetus to a new one, we are constrained to follow systems which deprive us of other novelty than those of changes which are within the spirit of the universally established laws of the art. Turn to the Gothic churches of the present day, — the little pets of the church commissioners and clergy. What objects of ineffable contempt the best of them are! The fact is, the religious circumstances of the country have so changed that they are wholly unsuitable in style to the Protestant worship. Had, with the scanty means afforded to the architects, such a model as St. Paul's, Covent Garden, been adopted, we might have seen a number of edifices in the country, though
* Facies non omnibus una
Nec diversa tamen,” that might have been an honour to the age in which we live, and suitable to the circumstances of the times.
2509. Unity and harmony in a work necessarily enter into that which is beautiful; and it will not therefore require any argument to show that from a mixture of styles in any building incongruity and unfitness, and consequently a want of unity and harmony, must be the result. Hence we cannot agree with those wise reviewers who advocate the possibility of amalgamating the arch with the severe Grecian style. We leave them to their dreams, and trust that before we give them credence we may have some proof of their practical power in this respect.
2510. Symmetry is that quality which, as its name imports, from one part of an assemblage of parts enables us to arrive at a knowledge of the whole. It is a subordinate, but nevertheless a necessary, ingredient in beauty. It is necessary that parts performing the same office in a building should be strictly similar, or they would not ex vi termini be
symmetrical ; so, when relations are strictly established between certain parts, inaking one the measure of another, a disregard of the symmetry thus induced cannot fail of destroying beauty. But here again we have to say, that for want of attention to the similarity of the parts, or neglect of the established relations on which the whole is founded, they have lost their symmetry, and have thus become unfit for their purpose ; so that thus again we return to fitness as the main foundation of beauty.
2511. Colour abstractedly considered has little to do with architectural beauty, which is founded, as is sculpture, on fine form. We are here speaking generally, and are not inclined to assert that the colour of a building in a landscape is unimportant to the general effect of that landscape, or that the colours used on the walls of the interior of a building are unessential considerations; but we do not hesitate to say that they are of minor consequence in relation to our art. We believe it would be difficult to paint (we mean not in the sense of the artist) the interior of the banqueting room at Whitehall, were it restored to its original destination, and divested of the ruinous accessories which from its original purpose have turned it from a banqueting room into a chapel, — we believe, we say, that it would be difficult to paint it so as to destroy its internal beauty. But as we intend to be short under this head, we shall quote a brochure touching on this subject published by us in 1837.
2512. One of the beauties tending to give effect to the edifices of Greece has been, on the testimony of almost all travellers, the colour of the materials whereof they are composed. Dr. Clarke observes that a warm ochreous tint is diffused over all the buildings of the Acropolis, which he says is peculiar to the ruins of Athens. “ Perhaps," says the author, " to this warm colour, so remarkably characterising the remains of ancient buildings at Athens, Plutarch alluded” (In Vita Pericles) " in that beautiful passage cited by Chandler, where he affirmed that the structures of Pericles possessed a peculiar and unpiralleled ercellence of character ; a certain freshness bloomed upon them and preserved their faces uninjured, as if they possessed a never-fading spirit, and had a soul insensible to age.” It is singular that recent discoveries have incontestably proved that this species of beauty at all events did not originally exist in them, inasmuch as it is now clearly ascertained that it was the practice of the Greeks to paint the whole of the inside and outside of their temples in party colours. It had been some time known that they were in the habit of painting and picking out the ornaments on particular parts of their buildings; but M. Schaubert, the architect of the King of Greece, found on examination that this fell far short of the extent to which this species of painting was carried, and M. Semper, another German archi. tect, has fully corroborated the fact in his examination of the Temple of Theseus. The practice was doubtless imported into Greece from Egypt, and was not to be easily abandoned, seeing the difficulty of falling away from the habits of a people whence it seems certain the arts of Greece more immediately came. It is by no means uncommon for a person to be fully alive to all the beauties of form, without at the same time having a due feeling or perception of the beauty resulting from harmony in colouring. It is therefore not to be assumed that the Greeks, though given to a practice which we would now discourage, possessed not that taste in other respects which has worthily received the admiration of posterity. The practice of painting the inside and outside of buildings has received the name of polychromatic architecture, and we shall here leave it to the consideration of the student as a curious and interesting circumstance, but certainly without a belief that it could add a charm to the stupendous simplicity and beauty of such a building as the Parthenon.
2513. After all that we have said of fitness, it will be expected that in decoration it shall form a principal ingredient. Ry the term decoration we understand the combination of objects and ornaments that the necessity of variety introduces under various forms, to embellish, to enrich, and to explain the subjects whereon they are employed. The art of decoration, so as to add to the beauty of an object, is, in other words, that of carrying out the emotions already produced by the general form and parts of the object itself. By its means the several relations of the whole and the parts to each other are increased by new combinations; new images are presented to the mind whose effect is variety, one great source of pleasure. From these observations two general rules may be deduced in respect of decoration. First, that it must actually be or seem to be necessary. Second, that such objects must be employed in it as have relation to the end of the general object of the design. We are not to suppose that all parts of a work are susceptible of ornament. Taste must be our guide in ascertaining where decoration is wanted, as well as the quantity requisite. The absence of it altogether is in many cases a mode of decoration. As in language its richness and the luxuriance of images do not suit all subjects, and simplicity in such cases is the best dress, so in the arts of design many subjects would be rather impoverished than enriched by decoration. We must therefore take into consideration the character of the building to be decorated, and then only apply such ornament as is necessary and suitable to that character. We
may judge of its necessity if the absence of it causes a dissatisfaction from the void space left; of its suitableness, by its developing the character. Ilistory has recorded the contempt with which that decorator was treated wdo