The Poetry of Architecture
by John Ruskin
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137. The forms of the villas to which these towers are attached are straggling, and varied by many crossing masses; but the great principle of simplicity is always kept in view; everything is square, and terminated by parallel lines; no tall chimneys, no conical roofs, no fantastic ornaments are ever admitted: the arch alone is allowed to relieve the stiffness of the general effect. This is introduced frequently, but not in the windows, which are either squares or double squares, at great distances from each other, set deeply into the walls and only adorned with broad flat borders. Where more light is required they are set moderately close, and protected by an outer line of arches, deep enough to keep the noonday sun from entering the rooms. These lines of arches cast soft shadows along the bright fronts, and are otherwise of great value. Their effect is pretty well seen in fig. 10; a piece which, while it has no distinguished beauty is yet pleasing by its entire simplicity; and peculiarly so, when we know that simplicity to have been chosen (some say, built) for its last and lonely habitation, by a mind of softest passion as of purest thought; and to have sheltered its silent old age among the blue and quiet hills, till it passed away like a deep lost melody from the earth, leaving a light of peace about the gray tomb at which the steps of those who pass by always falter, and around this deserted, and decaying, and calm habitation of the thoughts of the departed; Petrarch's, at Arqua. A more familiar instance of the application of these arches is the Villa of Mecaenas at Tivoli, though it is improperly styled a villa, being pretty well known to have been nothing but stables.

138. The buttress is the only remaining point worthy of notice. It prevails to a considerable extent among the villas of the south, being always broad and tall, and occasionally so frequent as to give the building, viewed laterally, a pyramidal and cumbrous effect. The most usual form is that of a simple sloped mass, terminating in the wall, without the slightest finishing, and rising at an angle of about 84 deg.. Sometimes it is perpendicular, sloped at the top into the wall; but it never has steps of increasing projection as it goes down. By observing the occurrence of these buttresses, an architect, who knew nothing of geology, might accurately determine the points of most energetic volcanic action in Italy; for their use is to protect the building from the injuries of earthquakes, the Italian having far too much good taste to use them, except in cases of extreme necessity. Thus, they are never found in North Italy, even in the fortresses. They begin to occur among the Apennines, south of Florence; they become more and more frequent and massy towards Rome; in the neighborhood of Naples they are huge and multitudinous, even the walls themselves being sometimes sloped; and the same state of things continues as we go south, on the coast of Calabria and Sicily.

139. Now, these buttresses present one of the most extraordinary and striking instances of the beauty of adaptation of style to locality and peculiarity of circumstance, that can be met with in the whole range of architectural investigation. Taken in the abstract, they are utterly detestable, formal, clumsy, and apparently unnecessary. Their builder thinks so himself: he hates them as things to be looked at, though he erects them as things to be depended upon. He has no idea that there is any propriety in their presence, though he knows perfectly well that there is a great deal of necessity; and, therefore he builds them. Where? On rocks whose sides are one mass of buttresses, of precisely the same form; on rocks which are cut and cloven by basalt and lava dikes of every size, and which, being themselves secondary, wear away gradually by exposure to the atmosphere, leaving the intersecting dikes standing out in solid and vertical walls, from the faces of their precipices. The eye passes over heaps of scoriae and sloping banks of ashes, over the huge ruins of more ancient masses, till it trembles for the fate of the crags still standing round; but it finds them ribbed with basalt like bones, buttressed with a thousand lava walls, propped upon pedestals and pyramids of iron, which the pant and the pulse of the earthquake itself can scarcely move, for they are its own work; it climbs up to their summits, and there it finds the work of man; but it is no puny domicile, no eggshell imagination, it is in a continuation of the mountain itself, inclined at the same slope, ribbed in the same manner, protected by the same means against the same danger; not, indeed, filling the eye with delight, but, which is of more importance, freeing it from fear, and beautifully corresponding with the prevalent lines around it, which a less massive form would have rendered, in some cases, particularly about Etna, even ghastly. Even in the long and luxuriant views from Capo di Monte, and the heights to the east of Naples, the spectator looks over a series of volcanic eminences, generally, indeed, covered with rich verdure, but starting out here and there in gray and worn walls, fixed at a regular slope, and breaking away into masses more and more rugged towards Vesuvius, till the eye gets thoroughly habituated to their fortress-like outlines.

140. Throughout the whole of this broken country, and, on the summits of these volcanic cones, rise innumerable villas; but they do not offend us, as we should have expected, by their attestation of cheerfulness of life amidst the wrecks left by destructive operation, nor hurt the eye by non-assimilation with the immediate features of the landscape: but they seem to rise prepared and adapted for resistance to, and endurance of, the circumstances of their position; to be inhabited by beings of energy and force sufficient to decree and to carry on a steady struggle with opposing elements, and of taste and feeling sufficient to proportion the form of the walls of men to the clefts in the flanks of the volcano, and to prevent the exultation and the lightness of transitory life from startling, like a mockery, the eternal remains of disguised desolation.

141. We have always considered these circumstances as most remarkable proofs of the perfect dependence of architecture on its situation, and of the utter impossibility of judging of the beauty of any building in the abstract: and we would also lay much stress upon them, as showing with what boldness the designer may introduce into his building, undisguised, such parts as local circumstances render desirable; for there will invariably be something in the nature of that which causes their necessity, which will endow them with beauty.

142. These, then, are the principal features of the Italian villa, modifications of which, of course more or less dignified in size, material or decoration, in proportion to the power and possessions of their proprietor, may be considered as composing every building of that class in Italy. A few remarks on their general effect will enable us to conclude the subject.

143. We have been so long accustomed to see the horizontal lines and simple forms which, as we have observed, still prevail among the Ausonian villas, used with the greatest dexterity, and the noblest effect, in the compositions of Claude, Salvator, and Poussin—and so habituated to consider these compositions as perfect models of the beautiful, as well as the pure in taste—that it is difficult to divest ourselves of prejudice, in the contemplation of the sources from which those masters received their education, their feelings, and their subjects. We would hope, however, and we think it may be proved, that in this case principle assists and encourages prejudice. First, referring only to the gratification afforded to the eye, which we know to depend upon fixed mathematical principles, though those principles are not always developed, it is to be observed, that country is always most beautiful when it is made up of curves, and that one of the chief characters of Ausonian landscape is the perfection of its curvatures, induced by the gradual undulation of promontories into the plains. In suiting architecture to such a country, that building which least interrupts the curve on which it is placed will be felt to be most delightful to the eye.

144. Let us take then the simple form a b c d, interrupting the curve c e [fig. 11, A]. Now, the eye will always continue the principal lines of such an object for itself, until they cut the main curve; that is, it will carry on a b to e, and the total effect of the interruption will be that of the form c d e. Had the line b d been nearer to a c, the effect would have been just the same. Now, every curve may be considered as composed of an infinite number of lines at right angles to each other, as m n is made up of o p, p q, etc., (fig. B), whose ratio to each other varies with the direction of the curve. Then, if the right lines which form the curve at c (fig. A) be increased, we have the figure c d e, that is, the apparent interruption of the curve is an increased part of the curve itself. To the mathematical reader we can explain our meaning more clearly, by pointing out that, taking c for our origin, we have a c, a e, for the co-ordinates of e, and that, therefore, their ratio is the equation to the curve. Whence it appears, that, when any curve is broken in upon by a building composed of simple vertical and horizontal lines, the eye is furnished, by the interruption, with the equation to that part of the curve which is interrupted. If, instead of square forms, we take obliquity, as r s t (fig. C), we have one line, s t, an absolute break, and the other r s, in false proportion. If we take another curve, we have an infinite number of lines, only two of which are where they ought to be. And this is the true reason for the constant introduction of features which appear to be somewhat formal, into the most perfect imaginations of the old masters, and the true cause of the extreme beauty of the groups formed by Italian villages in general.

145. Thus much for the mere effect on the eye. Of correspondence with national character, we have shown that we must not be disappointed, if we find little in the villa. The unfrequency of windows in the body of the building is partly attributed to the climate; but the total exclusion of light from some parts, as the base of the central tower, carries our thoughts back to the ancient system of Italian life, when every man's home had its dark, secret places, the abodes of his worst passions; whose shadows were alone intrusted with the motion of his thoughts; whose walls became the whited sepulchers of crime; whose echoes were never stirred except by such words as they dared not repeat;[22] from which the rod of power, or the dagger of passion, came forth invisible; before whose stillness princes grew pale, as their fates were prophesied or fulfilled by the horoscope or the hemlock; and nations, as the whisper of anarchy or of heresy was avenged by the opening of the low doors, through which those who entered returned not.

[Footnote 22: Shelley has caught the feeling finely:—"The house is penetrated to its corners by the peeping insolence of the day. When the time comes the crickets shall not see me."—Cenci [Act II. scene I, quoted from memory.]]

146. The mind of the Italian, sweet and smiling in its operations, deep and silent in its emotions, was thus, in some degree, typified by those abodes into which he was wont to retire from the tumult and wrath of life, to cherish or to gratify the passions which its struggles had excited; abodes which now gleam brightly and purely among the azure mountains, and by the sapphire sea, but whose stones are dropped with blood; whose vaults are black with the memory of guilt and grief unpunished and unavenged, and by whose walls the traveler hastens fearfully, when the sun has set, lest he should hear, awakening again through the horror of their chambers, the faint wail of the children of Ugolino,[23] the ominous alarm of Bonatti, or the long low cry of her who perished at Coll' Alto.

OXFORD, July, 1838.

[Footnote 23: Ugolino; Dante, Inferno xxxiii. Guido Bonatti, the astrologer of Forli, Inferno xx., 118. The lady who perished at Coll' Alto, i.e. the higher part of Colle de Val d'Elsa, between Siena and Volterra—was Sapia; Purgatorio, xiii. 100-154.]



147. Although, as we have frequently observed, our chief object in these papers is, to discover the connection existing between national architecture and character, and therefore is one leading us rather to the investigation of what is, than of what ought to be, we yet consider that the subject would be imperfectly treated, if we did not, at the conclusion of the consideration of each particular rank of building, endeavor to apply such principles as may have been demonstrated to the architecture of our country, and to discover the beau ideal of English character, which should be preserved through all the decorations which the builder may desire, and through every variety which fancy may suggest. There never was, and never can be, a universal beau ideal in architecture, and the arrival at all local models of beauty would be the task of ages; but we can always, in some degree, determine those of our own lovely country. We cannot, however, in the present case, pass from the contemplation of the villa of a totally different climate, to the investigation of what is beautiful here, without the slightest reference to styles now or formerly adopted for our own "villas," if such they are to be called; and therefore it will be necessary to devote a short time to the observance of the peculiarities of such styles, if we possess them; or, if not, of the causes of their absence.

148. We have therefore headed this paper "The Villa, England;" awakening, without doubt, a different idea in the mind of every one who reads the words. Some, accustomed to the appearance of metropolitan villas, will think of brick buildings, with infinite appurtenances of black nicked chimney-pots, and plastered fronts, agreeably varied with graceful cracks, and undulatory shades of pink, brown, and green, communicated to the cement by smoky showers. Others will imagine large, square, many-windowed masses of white, set with careful choice of situation exactly where they will spoil the landscape to such a conspicuous degree, as to compel the gentlemen traveling on the outside of the mail to inquire of the guard, with great eagerness, "whose place that is;" and to enable the guard to reply with great distinctness, that it belongs to Squire ——, to the infinite gratification of Squire ——, and the still more infinite edification of the gentlemen on the outside of the mail. Others will remember masses of very red brick, quoined with stone; with columnar porticoes, about one-third of the height of the building, and two niches, with remarkable looking heads and bag-wigs in them, on each side; and two teapots, with a pocket-handkerchief hanging over each (described to the astonished spectator as "Grecian urns") located upon the roof, just under the chimneys. Others will go back to the range of Elizabethan gables; but none will have any idea of a fixed character, stamped on a class of national edifices. This is very melancholy, and very discouraging; the more so, as it is not without cause.

149. In the first place, Britain unites in itself so many geological formations, each giving a peculiar character to the country which it composes, that there is hardly a district five miles broad, which preserves the same features of landscape through its whole width.[24] If, for example, six foreigners were to land severally at Glasgow, at Aberystwith, at Falmouth, at Brighton, at Yarmouth, and at Newcastle, and to confine their investigations to the country within twenty miles of them, what different impressions would they receive of British landscape! If, therefore, there be as many forms of edifice as there are peculiarities of situation, we can have no national style; and if we abandon the idea of a correspondence with situation, we lose the only criterion capable of forming a national style.[25]

[Footnote 24: Length is another thing: we might divide England into strips of country, running southwest and northeast, which would be composed of the same rock, and therefore would present the same character throughout the whole of their length. Almost all our great roads cut these transversely, and therefore seldom remain for ten miles together on the same beds.]

[Footnote 25: It is thus that we find the most perfect schools of architecture have arisen in districts whose character is unchanging. Looking to Egypt first, we find a climate inducing a perpetual state of heavy feverish excitement, fostered by great magnificence of natural phenomena, and increased by the general custom of exposing the head continually to the sun (Herodotus, bk. III. chap. 12); so that, as in a dreaming fever we imagine distorted creatures and countenances moving and living in the quiet objects of the chamber, the Egyptian endowed all existence with distorted animation; turned dogs into deities, and leeks into lightning-darters; then gradually invested the blank granite with sculptured mystery, designed in superstition, and adored in disease; and then such masses of architecture arose as, in delirium, we feel crushing down upon us with eternal weight, and see extending far into the blackness above; huge and shapeless columns of colossal life; immense and immeasurable avenues of mountain stone. This was a perfect—that is, a marked, enduring, and decided school of architecture, induced by an unchanging and peculiar character of climate. Then in the purer air, and among the more refined energies of Greece, architecture rose into a more studied beauty, equally perfect in its school, because fostered in a district not 50 miles square, and in its dependent isles and colonies, all of which were under the same air, and partook of the same features of landscape. In Rome, it became less perfect, because more imitative than indigenous, and corrupted by the traveling, and conquering, and stealing ambition of the Roman; yet still a school of architecture, because the whole of Italy presented the same peculiarities of scene. So with the Spanish and Moresco schools, and many others; passing over the Gothic, which, though we hope hereafter to show it to be no exception to the rule, involves too many complicated questions to be now brought forward as a proof of it.

[The comparison of Egyptian architecture with delirious visions seems to be an allusion to De Quincey's passage in "The Pains of Opium"—the last paper in "the Confessions of an Opium-Eater"—where, after describing Piranesi's Dreams, he tells how he fancied he was "buried for a thousand years, in stone coffins, with mummies and sphinxes, in narrow chambers at the heart of eternal pyramids," etc.]]

150. Another cause to be noticed is the peculiar independence of the Englishman's disposition; a feeling which prompts him to suit his own humor, rather than fall in with the prevailing cast of social sentiment, or of natural beauty and expression; and which, therefore,—there being much obstinate originality in his mind,—produces strange varieties of dwelling, frequently rendered still more preposterous by his love of display; a love universally felt in England, and often absurdly indulged. Wealth is worshiped in France as the means of purchasing pleasure; in Italy, as an instrument of power; in England, as the means "of showing off." It would be a very great sacrifice indeed, in an Englishman of the average stamp, to put his villa out of the way, where nobody would ever see it, or think of him; it is his ambition to hear every one exclaiming, "What a pretty place! whose can it be?" And he cares very little about the peace which he has disturbed, or the repose which he has interrupted; though, even while he thus pushes himself into the way, he keeps an air of sulky retirement, of hedgehog independence, about his house, which takes away any idea of sociability or good-humor, which might otherwise have been suggested by his choice of situation.

151. But, in spite of all these unfortunate circumstances, there are some distinctive features in our English country houses, which are well worth a little attention. First, in the approach, we have one component part of effect, which may be called peculiarly our own, and which requires much study before it can be managed well,—the avenue. It is true that we meet with noble lines of timber trees cresting some of the larger bastions of Continental fortified cities; we see interminable regiments of mistletoed apple trees flanking the carriage road; and occasionally we approach a turreted chateau[26] by a broad way, "edged with poplar pale." But, allowing all this, the legitimate glory of the perfect avenue is ours still, as will appear by a little consideration of the elements which constitute its beauty.

[Footnote 26: Or a city. Any one who remembers entering Carlsruhe from the north by the two miles of poplar avenue, remembers entering the most soulless of all cities, by the most lifeless of all entrances.]

152. The original idea was given by the opening of the tangled glades in our most ancient forests. It is rather a curious circumstance that, in those woods whose decay has been most instrumental in forming the bog districts of Ireland, the trees have, in general, been planted in symmetrical rows, at distances of about twenty feet apart. If the arrangement of our later woods be not quite so formal, they at least present frequent openings, carpeted with green sward, and edged with various foliage, which the architect (for so may the designer of the avenue be entitled) should do little more than reduce to symmetry and place in position, preserving, as much as possible, the manner and the proportions of nature. The avenue, therefore, must not be too long. It is quite a mistake to suppose that there is sublimity in a monotonous length of line, unless indeed it be carried to an extent generally impossible, as in the case of the long walk at Windsor. From three to four hundred yards is a length which will display the elevation well, and will not become tiresome from continued monotony. The kind of tree must, of course, be regulated by circumstances; but the foliage must be unequally disposed, so as to let in passages of light across the path, and cause the motion of any object across it to change, like an undulating melody, from darkness to light. It should meet at the top, so as to cause twilight, but not obscurity; and the idea of a vaulted roof, without rigidity. The ground should be green, so that the sunlight may tell with force wherever it strikes. Now, this kind of rich and shadowy vista is found in its perfection only in England: it is an attribute of green country; it is associated with all our memories of forest freedom, of our wood-rangers, and yeomen with the "doublets of the Lincoln green;" with our pride of ancient archers, whose art was fostered in such long and breezeless glades; with our thoughts of the merry chases of our kingly companies, when the dewy antlers sparkled down the intertwined paths of the windless woods, at the morning echo of the hunter's horn; with all, in fact, that once contributed to give our land its ancient name of "merry" England; a name which, in this age of steam and iron, it will have some difficulty in keeping.

153. This, then, is the first feature we would direct attention to, as characteristic, in the English villa: and be it remembered, that we are not speaking of the immense lines of foliage which guide the eye to some of our English palaces, for those are rather the adjuncts of the park than the approach to the building; but of the more laconic avenue, with the two crested columns and the iron gate at its entrance, leading the eye, in the space of a hundred yards or so, to the gables of its gray mansion. A good instance of this approach may be found at Petersham, by following the right side of the Thames for about half a mile from Richmond Hill; though the house, which, in this case, is approached by a noble avenue, is much to be reprehended, as a bad mixture of imitation of the Italian with corrupt Elizabethan; though it is somewhat instructive, as showing the ridiculous effect of statues out of doors in a climate like ours.

154. And now that we have pointed out the kind of approach most peculiarly English, that approach will guide us to the only style of villa architecture which can be called English,—the Elizabethan, and its varieties,—a style fantastic in its details, and capable of being subjected to no rule, but, as we think, well adapted for the scenery in which it arose. We allude not only to the pure Elizabethan, but even to the strange mixtures of classical ornaments with Gothic forms, which we find prevailing in the sixteenth century. In the most simple form, we have a building extending round three sides of a court, and, in the larger halls, round several interior courts, terminating in sharply gabled fronts, with broad oriels, divided into very narrow lights by channeled mullions, without decoration of any kind; the roof relieved by projecting dormer windows, whose lights are generally divided into three, terminating in very flat arches without cusps, the intermediate edge of the roof being battlemented. Then we find wreaths of ornament introduced at the base of the oriels;[27] ranges of short columns, the base of one upon the capital of another, running up beside them; the bases being very tall, sometimes decorated with knots of flower-work; the columns usually fluted,—wreathed, in richer examples, with ornament. The entrance is frequently formed by double ranges of those short columns, with intermediate arches, with shell canopies, and rich crests above.[28] This portico is carried up to some height above the roof, which is charged with an infinite variety of decorated chimneys.

[Footnote 27: As in a beautiful example in Brasenose College, Oxford.]

[Footnote 28: The portico of the [old] Schools and the inner courts of Merton and St. John's Colleges, Oxford; an old house at Charlton, Kent; and Burleigh House, will probably occur to the mind of the architect, as good examples of the varieties of this mixed style.]

155. Now, all this is utterly barbarous as architecture; but, with the exception of the chimneys, it is not false in taste; for it was originally intended for retired and quiet habitations in our forest country, not for conspicuous palaces in the streets of the city; and we have shown, in speaking of green country, that the eye is gratified[29] with fantastic details; that it is prepared, by the mingled lights of the natural scenery, for rich and entangled ornament, and would not only endure, but demand, irregularity of system in the architecture of man, to correspond with the infinite variety of form in the wood architecture of nature. Few surprises can be imagined more delightful than the breaking out of one of these rich gables, with its decorated entrance, among the dark trunks and twinkling leaves of forest scenery. Such an effect is rudely given in fig. 12. We would direct the attention chiefly to the following points in the building:—

[Footnote 29: [i.e. when the spectator is surrounded by woodland scenery. Vide ante, Sec. 88.]]

156. First, it is a humorist, an odd, twisted, independent being, with a great deal of mixed, obstinate, and occasionally absurd originality. It has one or two graceful lines about it, and several harsh and cutting ones; it is a whole, which would allow of no unison with any other architecture; it is gathered in itself, and would look very ugly indeed, if pieces in a purer style of building were added. All this corresponds with points of English character, with its humors, its independency, and its horror of being put out of its own way.

157. Again, it is a thoroughly domestic building, homely and cottage-like in its prevailing forms, awakening no elevated ideas, assuming no nobility of form. It has none of the pride, or the grace of beauty, none of the dignity of delight which we found in the villa of Italy; but it is a habitation of everyday life, a protection from momentary inconvenience, covered with stiff efforts at decoration, and exactly typical of the mind of its inhabitant: not noble in its taste, not haughty in its recreation, not pure in its perception of beauty; but domestic in its pleasures, fond of matter-of-fact rather than of imagination, yet sparkling occasionally with odd wit and grotesque association. The Italian obtains his beauty, as his recreation, with quietness, with few and noble lines, with great seriousness and depth of thought, with very rare interruptions to the simple train of feeling. But the Englishman's villa is full of effort: it is a business with him to be playful, an infinite labor to be ornamental: he forces his amusement with fits of contrasted thought, with mingling of minor touches of humor, with a good deal of sulkiness, but with no melancholy; and therefore, owing to this last adjunct,[30] the building, in its original state, cannot be called beautiful, and we ought not to consider the effect of its present antiquity, evidence of which is, as was before proved, generally objectionable in a building devoted to pleasure,[31] and is only agreeable here, because united with the memory of a departed pride.

[Footnote 30: Namely the fact that there is no melancholy in the English play-impulse; v. ante, Sec. 23.]

[Footnote 31: See Sec. 118 seq.]

158. Again, it is a lifelike building, sparkling in its casements, brisk in its air, letting much light in at the walls and roof, low and comfortable-looking in its door. The Italian's dwelling is much walled in, letting out no secrets from the inside, dreary and drowsy in its effect. Just such is the difference between the minds of the inhabitants; the one passing away in deep and dark reverie, the other quick and business-like, enjoying its everyday occupations, and active in its ordinary engagements.

159. Again, it is a regularly planned, mechanical, well-disciplined building; each of its parts answering to its opposite, each of its ornaments matched with similarity. The Italian (where it has no high pretense to architectural beauty) is a rambling and irregular edifice, varied with uncorresponding masses: and the mind of the Italian we find similarly irregular, a thing of various and ungovernable impulse, without fixed principle of action; the Englishman's, regular and uniform in its emotions, steady in its habits, and firm even in its most trivial determinations.

160. Lastly, the size of the whole is diminutive, compared with the villas of the south, in which the effect was always large and general. Here the eye is drawn into the investigation of particular points, and miniature details; just as, in comparing the English and Continental cottages, we found the one characterized by a minute finish, and the other by a massive effect, exactly correspondent with the scale of the features and scenery of their respective localities.

161. It appears, then, from a consideration of these several points, that, in our antiquated style of villa architecture, some national feeling may be discovered; but in any buildings now raised there is no character whatever: all is ridiculous imitation, and despicable affectation; and it is much to be lamented, that now, when a great deal of public attention has been directed to architecture on the part of the public, more efforts are not made to turn that attention from mimicking Swiss chalets, to erecting English houses. We need not devote more time to the investigation of purely domestic English architecture, though we hope to derive much instruction and pleasure from the contemplation of buildings partly adapted for defense, and partly for residence. The introduction of the means of defense is, however, a distinction which we do not wish at present to pass over; and therefore, in our next paper, we hope to conclude the subject of the villa, by a few remarks on the style now best adapted for English scenery.



162. It has lately become a custom, among the more enlightened and refined of metropolitan shopkeepers, to advocate the cause of propriety in architectural decoration, by ensconcing their shelves, counters, and clerks in classical edifices, agreeably ornamented with ingenious devices, typical of the class of articles to which the tradesman particularly desires to direct the public attention. We find our grocers enshrined in temples whose columns are of canisters, and whose pinnacles are of sugar-loaves. Our shoemakers shape their soles under Gothic portals, with pendants of shoes, and canopies of Wellingtons; and our cheesemongers will, we doubt not, soon follow the excellent example, by raising shops the varied diameters of whose jointed columns, in their address to the eye, shall awaken memories of Staffa, Paestum, and Palmyra; and in their address to the tongue, shall arouse exquisite associations of remembered flavor, Dutch, Stilton, and Strachino.

163. Now, this fit of taste on the part of our tradesmen is only a coarse form of a disposition inherent in the human mind. Those objects to which the eye has been most frequently accustomed, and among which the intellect has formed its habits of action, and the soul its modes of emotion, become agreeable to the thoughts, from their correspondence with their prevailing cast, especially when the business of life has had any relation to those objects; for it is in the habitual and necessary occupation that the most painless hours of existence are passed: whatever be the nature of that occupation, the memories belonging to it will always be agreeable, and, therefore, the objects awakening such memories will invariably be found beautiful, whatever their character or form.

164. It is thus that taste is the child and the slave of memory; and beauty is tested, not by any fixed standard, but by the chances of association; so that in every domestic building evidence will be found of the kind of life through which its owner has passed, in the operation of the habits of mind which that life has induced. From the superannuated coxswain, who plants his old ship's figure-head in his six square feet of front garden at Bermondsey, to the retired noble, the proud portal of whose mansion is surmounted by the broad shield and the crested gryphon, we are all guided, in our purest conceptions, our most ideal pursuit, of the beautiful, by remembrances of active occupation; and by principles derived from industry regulate the fancies of our repose.

165. It would be excessively interesting to follow out the investigation of this subject more fully, and to show how the most refined pleasures, the most delicate perceptions, of the creature who has been appointed to eat bread by the sweat of his brow, are dependent upon, and intimately connected with, his hours of labor. This question, however, has no relation to our immediate object, and we only allude to it, that we may be able to distinguish between the two component parts of individual character; the one being the consequence of continuous habits of life acting upon natural temperament and disposition, the other being the humor of character, consequent upon circumstances altogether accidental, taking stern effect upon feelings previously determined by the first part of the character; laying on, as it were, the finishing touches, and occasioning the innumerable prejudices, fancies, and eccentricities, which, modified in every individual to an infinite extent, form the visible veil of the human heart.

166. Now, we have defined the province of the architect to be, that of selecting such forms and colors as shall delight the mind, by preparing it for the operations to which it is to be subjected in the building. Now, no forms, in domestic architecture, can thus prepare it more distinctly than those which correspond closely with the first, that is, the fixed and fundamental, part of character, which is always so uniform in its action, as to induce great simplicity in whatever it designs. Nothing, on the contrary, can be more injurious than the slightest influence of the humors upon the edifice; for the influence of what is fitful in its energy, and petty in its imagination, would destroy all the harmony of parts, all the majesty of the whole; would substitute singularity for beauty, amusement for delight, and surprise for veneration. We could name several instances of buildings erected by men of the highest talent, and the most perfect general taste, who yet, not having paid much attention to the first principles of architecture, permitted the humor of their disposition to prevail over the majesty of their intellect, and, instead of building from a fixed design, gratified freak after freak, and fancy after fancy, as they were caught by the dream or the desire; mixed mimicries of incongruous reality with incorporations of undisciplined ideal; awakened every variety of contending feeling and unconnected memory; consummated confusion of form by trickery of detail; and have left barbarism, where half the world will look for loveliness.

167. This is a species of error which it is very difficult for persons paying superficial and temporary attention to architecture to avoid: however just their taste may be in criticism, it will fail in creation. It is only in moments of ease and amusement that they will think of their villa: they make it a mere plaything, and regard it with a kind of petty exultation, which, from its very nature, will give liberty to the light fancy, rather than the deep feeling, of the mind. It is not thought necessary to bestow labor of thought, and periods of deliberation, on one of the toys of life; still less to undergo the vexation of thwarting wishes, and leaving favorite imaginations, relating to minor points, unfulfilled, for the sake of general effect.

168. This feeling, then, is the first to which we would direct attention, as the villa architect's chief enemy: he will find it perpetually and provokingly in his way. He is requested, perhaps, by a man of great wealth, nay, of established taste in some points, to make a design for a villa in a lovely situation. The future proprietor carries him upstairs to his study, to give him what he calls his "ideas and materials," and, in all probability, begins somewhat thus:—"This, sir, is a slight note: I made it on the spot: approach to Villa Reale, near Pozzuoli. Dancing nymphs, you perceive; cypresses, shell fountain. I think I should like something like this for the approach: classical, you perceive, sir; elegant, graceful. Then, sir, this is a sketch, made by an American friend of mine: Whee-whaw-Kantamaraw's wigwam, King of the—Cannibal Islands, I think he said, sir. Log, you observe; scalps, and boa-constrictor skins: curious. Something like this, sir, would look neat, I think, for the front door; don't you? Then, the lower windows, I've not quite decided upon; but what would you say to Egyptian, sir? I think I should like my windows Egyptian, with hieroglyphics, sir; storks and coffins, and appropriate moldings above: I brought some from Fountains Abbey the other day. Look here, sir; angels' heads putting their tongues out, rolled up in cabbage leaves, with a dragon on each side riding on a broomstick, and the devil looking on from the mouth of an alligator, sir.[32] Odd, I think; interesting. Then the corners may be turned by octagonal towers, like the center one in Kenilworth Castle; with Gothic doors, portcullis, and all, quite perfect; with cross slits for arrows, battlements for musketry, machicolations for boiling lead, and a room at the top for drying plums; and the conservatory at the bottom, sir, with Virginian creepers up the towers; door supported by sphinxes, holding scrapers in their fore paws, and having their tails prolonged into warm-water pipes, to keep the plants safe in winter, etc." The architect is, without doubt, a little astonished by these ideas and combinations; yet he sits calmly down to draw his elevations; as if he were a stone-mason, or his employer an architect; and the fabric rises to electrify its beholders, and confer immortality on its perpetrator.

[Footnote 32: Actually carved on one of the groins of Roslin Chapel.]

169. This is no exaggeration: we have not only listened to speculations on the probable degree of the future majesty, but contemplated the actual illustrious existence, of several such buildings, with sufficient beauty in the management of some of their features to show that an architect had superintended them, and sufficient taste in their interior economy to prove that a refined intellect had projected them; and had projected a Vandalism, only because fancy had been followed instead of judgment; with as much nonchalance as is evinced by a perfect poet, who is extemporizing doggerel for a baby; full of brilliant points, which he cannot help, and jumbled into confusion, for which he does not care.

170. Such are the first difficulties to be encountered in villa designs. They must always continue to occur in some degree, though they might be met with ease by a determination on the part of professional men to give no assistance whatever, beyond the mere superintendence of construction, unless they be permitted to take the whole exterior design into their own hands, merely receiving broad instructions respecting the style (and not attending to them unless they like). They should not make out the smallest detail, unless they were answerable for the whole. In this case, gentlemen architects would be thrown so utterly on their own resources, that, unless those resources were adequate, they would be obliged to surrender the task into more practiced hands; and, if they were adequate, if the amateur had paid so much attention to the art as to be capable of giving the design perfectly, it is probable he would not erect anything strikingly abominable.

171. Such a system (supposing that it could be carried fully into effect, and that there were no such animals as sentimental stone-masons to give technical assistance) might, at first, seem rather an encroachment on the liberty of the subject, inasmuch as it would prevent people from indulging their edificatorial fancies, unless they knew something about the matter, or, as the sufferers would probably complain, from doing what they liked with their own. But the mistake would evidently lie in their supposing, as people too frequently do, that the outside of their house is their own, and that they have a perfect right therein to make fools of themselves in any manner, and to any extent, they may think proper. This is quite true in the case of interiors; every one has an indisputable right to hold himself up as a laughing-stock to the whole circle of his friends and acquaintances, and to consult his own private asinine comfort by every piece of absurdity which can in any degree contribute to the same; but no one has any right to exhibit his imbecilities at other people's expense, or to claim the public pity by inflicting public pain. In England, especially, where, as we saw before, the rage for attracting observation is universal, the outside of the villa is rendered, by the proprietor's own disposition, the property of those who daily pass by, and whom it hourly affects with pleasure or pain. For the pain which the eye feels from the violation of a law to which it has been accustomed, or the mind from the occurrence of anything jarring to its finest feelings, is as distinct as that occasioned by the interruption of the physical economy, differing only inasmuch as it is not permanent; and, therefore, an individual has as little right to fulfill his own conceptions by disgusting thousands, as, were his body as impenetrable to steel or poison, as his brain to the effect of the beautiful or true, he would have to decorate his carriage roads with caltrops, or to line his plantations with upas trees.

172. The violation of general feelings would thus be unjust, even were their consultation productive of continued vexation to the individual: but it is not. To no one is the architecture of the exterior of a dwelling-house of so little consequence as to its inhabitant. Its material may affect his comfort, and its condition may touch his pride; but, for its architecture, his eye gets accustomed to it in a week, and, after that, Hellenic, Barbaric, or Yankee, are all the same to the domestic feelings, are all lost in the one name of Home. Even the conceit of living in a chalet, or a wigwam, or a pagoda, cannot retain its influence for six months over the weak minds which alone can feel it; and the monotony of existence becomes to them exactly what it would have been had they never inflicted a pang upon the unfortunate spectators, whose unaccustomed eyes shrink daily from the impression to which they have not been rendered callous by custom, or lenient by false taste.

173. If these considerations are just when they allude only to buildings in the abstract, how much more when referring to them as materials of composition, materials of infinite power, to adorn or destroy the loveliness of the earth. The nobler scenery of that earth is the inheritance of all her inhabitants: it is not merely for the few to whom it temporarily belongs, to feed from like swine, or to stable upon like horses, but it has been appointed to be the school of the minds which are kingly among their fellows, to excite the highest energies of humanity, to furnish strength to the lordliest intellect, and food for the holiest emotions of the human soul. The presence of life is, indeed, necessary to its beauty, but of life congenial with its character; and that life is not congenial which thrusts presumptuously forward, amidst the calmness of the universe, the confusion of its own petty interests and groveling imaginations, and stands up with the insolence of a moment, amid the majesty of all time, to build baby fortifications upon the bones of the world, or to sweep the copse from the corrie, and the shadow from the shore, that fools may risk, and gamblers gather, the spoil of a thousand summers.

174. It should therefore be remembered by every proprietor of land in hill country, that his possessions are the means of a peculiar education, otherwise unattainable, to the artists, and in some degree to the literary men, of his country; that, even in this limited point of view, they are a national possession, but much more so when it is remembered how many thousands are perpetually receiving from them, not merely a transitory pleasure, but such thrilling perpetuity of pure emotion, such lofty subject for scientific speculation, and such deep lessons of natural religion, as only the work of a Deity can impress, and only the spirit of an immortal can feel: they should remember that the slightest deformity, the most contemptible excrescence, can injure the effect of the noblest natural scenery, as a note of discord can annihilate the expression of the purest harmony; that thus it is in the power of worms to conceal, to destroy, or to violate, what angels could not restore, create or consecrate; and that the right, which every man unquestionably possesses, to be an ass, is extended only, in public, to those who are innocent in idiotism, not to the more malicious clowns, who thrust their degraded motley conspicuously forth amidst the fair colors of earth, and mix their incoherent cries with the melodies of eternity, break with their inane laugh upon the silence which Creation keeps where Omnipotence passes most visibly, and scrabble over with the characters of idiocy the pages that have been written by the finger of God.

175. These feelings we would endeavor to impress upon all persons likely to have anything to do with embellishing, as it is called, fine natural scenery; as they might, in some degree, convince both the architect and his employer of the danger of giving free play to the imagination in cases involving intricate questions of feeling and composition, and might persuade the designer of the necessity of looking, not to his own acre of land, or to his own peculiar tastes, but to the whole mass of forms and combination of impressions with which he is surrounded.

176. Let us suppose, however, that the design is yielded entirely to the architect's discretion. Being a piece of domestic architecture, the chief object in its exterior design will be to arouse domestic feelings, which, as we saw before, it will do most distinctly by corresponding with the first part of character. Yet it is still more necessary that it should correspond with its situation; and hence arises another difficulty, the reconciliation of correspondence with contraries; for such, it is deeply to be regretted, are too often the individual's mind, and the dwelling-place it chooses. The polished courtier brings his refinement and duplicity with him to ape the Arcadian rustic in Devonshire; the romantic rhymer takes a plastered habitation, with one back window looking into the Green Park; the soft votary of luxury endeavors to rise at seven, in some Ultima Thule of frosts and storms; and the rich stock-jobber calculates his percentages among the soft dingles and woody shores of Westmoreland. When the architect finds this to be the case, he must, of course, content himself with suiting his design to such a mind as ought to be where the intruder's is; for the feelings which are so much at variance with themselves in the choice of situation, will not be found too critical of their domicile, however little suited to their temper.

177. If possible, however, he should aim at something more; he should draw his employer into general conversation; observe the bent of his disposition, and the habits of his mind; notice every manifestation of fixed opinions, and then transfer to his architecture as much of the feeling he has observed as is distinct in its operation. This he should do, not because the general spectator will be aware of the aptness of the building, which, knowing nothing of its inmate, he cannot be; nor to please the individual himself, which it is a chance if any simple design ever will, and who never will find out how well his character has been fitted; but because a portrait is always more spirited than a composed countenance; and because this study of human passions will bring a degree of energy, unity, and originality into every one of his designs (all of which will necessarily be different), so simple, so domestic, and so lifelike, as to strike every spectator with an interest and a sympathy, for which he will be utterly unable to account, and to impress on him a perception of something more ethereal than stone or carving, somewhat similar to that which some will remember having felt disagreeably in their childhood, on looking at any old house authentically haunted. The architect will forget in his study of life the formalities of science, and, while his practiced eye will prevent him from erring in technicalities, he will advance, with the ruling feeling, which, in masses of mind, is nationality, to the conception of something truly original, yet perfectly pure.

178. He will also find his advantage in having obtained a guide in the invention of decorations of which, as we shall show, we would have many more in English villas than economy at present allows. Candidus[33] complains, in his Note Book, that Elizabethan architecture is frequently adopted, because it is easy, with a pair of scissors, to derive a zigzag ornament from a doubled piece of paper. But we would fain hope that none of our professional architects have so far lost sight of the meaning of their art, as to believe that roughening stone mathematically is bestowing decoration, though we are too sternly convinced that they believe mankind to be more shortsighted by at least thirty yards than they are; for they think of nothing but general effect in their ornaments, and lay on their flower-work so carelessly, that a good substantial captain's biscuit, with the small holes left by the penetration of the baker's four fingers, encircling the large one which testifies of the forcible passage of his thumb, would form quite as elegant a rosette as hundreds now perpetuated in stone.

[Footnote 33: [A contributor to the "Architectural Magazine."]]

179. Now, there is nothing which requires study so close, or experiment so frequent, as the proper designing of ornament. For its use and position some definite rules may be given; but, when the space and position have been determined, the lines of curvature, the breadth, depth, and sharpness of the shadows to be obtained, the junction of the parts of a group, and the general expression, will present questions for the solution of which the study of years will sometimes scarcely be sufficient;[34] for they depend upon the feeling of the eye and hand, and there is nothing like perfection in decoration, nothing which, in all probability, might not, by farther consideration, be improved. Now, in cases in which the outline and larger masses are determined by situation, the architect will frequently find it necessary to fall back upon his decorations, as the only means of obtaining character; and that which before was an unmeaning lump of jagged freestone, will become a part of expression, an accessory of beautiful design, varied in its form, and delicate in its effect. Then, instead of shrinking from his bits of ornament, as from things which will give him trouble to invent, and will answer no other purpose than that of occupying what would otherwise have looked blank, the designer will view them as an efficient corps de reserve, to be brought up when the eye comes to close quarters with the edifice, to maintain and deepen the impression it has previously received. Much more time will be spent in the conception, much more labor in the execution, of such meaning ornaments, but both will be well spent and well rewarded.

[Footnote 34: For example, we would allow one of the modern builders of Gothic chapels a month of invention, and a botanic garden to work from, with perfect certainty that he would not, at the expiration of the time, be able to present us with one design of leafage equal in beauty to hundreds we could point out in the capitals and niches of Melrose and Roslin.]

180. Perhaps our meaning may be made more clear by Fig. 13 A, which is that of a window found in a domestic building of mixed and corrupt architecture, at Munich (which we give now, because we shall have occasion to allude to it hereafter). Its absurd breadth of molding, so disproportionate to its cornice, renders it excessively ugly, but capable of great variety of effect. It forms one of a range of four, turning an angle, whose moldings join each other, their double breadth being the whole separation of the apertures, which are something more than double squares. Now by alteration of the decoration, and depth of shadow, we have B and C. These three windows differ entirely in their feeling and manner, and are broad examples of such distinctions of style as might be adopted severally in the habitations of the man of imagination, the man of intellect and the man of feeling.[35] If our alterations have been properly made, there will be no difficulty in distinguishing between their expressions, which we shall therefore leave to conjecture. The character of A depends upon the softness with which the light is caught upon its ornaments, which should not have a single hard line in them; and on the gradual, unequal, but intense, depth of its shadows. B should have all its forms undefined, and passing into one another, the touches of the chisel light, a grotesque face or feature occurring in parts, the shadows pale, but broad[36]; and the boldest part of the carving kept in shadow rather than light. The third should be hard in its lines, strong in its shades, and quiet in its ornament.

[Footnote 35: [Though not in this order. C is the intellectual window; B, the imaginative one.]]

[Footnote 36: It is too much the custom to consider a design as composed of a certain number of hard lines, instead of a certain number of shadows of various depth and dimension. Though these shadows change their position in the course of the day, they are relatively always the same. They have most variety under a strong light without sun, most expression with the sun. A little observation of the infinite variety of shade which the sun is capable of casting, as it touches projections of different curve and character, will enable the designer to be certain of his effects. We shall have occasion to allude to this subject again. [See Seven Lamps of Architecture, III. 13, 23.]]

181. These hints will be sufficient to explain our meaning, and we have not space to do more, as the object of these papers is rather to observe than to advise. Besides, in questions of expression so intricate, it is almost impossible to advance fixed principles; every mind will have perceptions of its own, which will guide its speculations, every hand, and eye, and peculiar feeling, varying even from year to year. We have only started the subject of correspondence with individual character, because we think that imaginative minds might take up the idea with some success, as furnishing them with a guide in the variation of their designs, more certain than mere experiment on unmeaning forms, or than ringing indiscriminate changes on component parts of established beauty. To the reverie, rather than the investigation, to the dream, rather than the deliberation, of the architect, we recommend it, as a branch of art in which instinct will do more than precept, and inspiration than technicality. The correspondence of our villa architecture with our natural scenery may be determined with far greater accuracy, and will require careful investigation.

We had hoped to have concluded the Villa in this paper; but the importance of domestic architecture at the present day, when people want houses more than fortresses, safes more than keeps, and sculleries more than dungeons, is sufficient apology for delay.

OXFORD, August, 1838.



The Cultivated, or Blue Country and the Wooded, or Green Country.

182. In the papers hitherto devoted to the investigation of villa architecture, we have contemplated the beauties of what may be considered as its model, in its original and natural territory; and we have noticed the difficulties to be encountered in the just erection of villas in England. It remains only to lay down the general principles of composition, which in such difficulties may, in some degree, serve as a guide. Into more than general principles it is not consistent with our plan to enter. One obstacle, which was more particularly noticed, was, as it may be remembered, the variety of the geological formations of the country. This will compel us to use the divisions of landscape formerly adopted in speaking of the cottage, and to investigate severally the kind of domestic architecture required by each.

183. First. Blue or cultivated country, which is to be considered as including those suburban districts, in the neighborhood of populous cities, which, though more frequently black than blue, possess the activity, industry, and life, which we before noticed as one of the characteristics of blue country. We shall not, however, allude to suburban villas at present; first, because they are in country possessing nothing which can be spoiled by anything; and, secondly, because their close association renders them subject to laws which, being altogether different from those by which we are to judge of the beauty of solitary villas, we shall have to develop in the consideration of street effects.

184. Passing over the suburb, then, we have to distinguish between the simple blue country, which is composed only of rich cultivated champaign, relieved in parts by low undulations, monotonous and uninteresting as a whole, though cheerful in its character, and beautiful in details of lanes and meadow paths; and the picturesque blue country, lying at the foot of high hill ranges, intersected by their outworks, broken here and there into bits of crag and dingle scenery; perpetually presenting prospects of exquisite distant beauty, and possessing in its valley and river scenery, fine detached specimens of the natural "green country." This distinction we did not make in speaking of the cottage; the effect of which, owing to its size, can extend only over a limited space; and this space, if in picturesque blue country, must be either part of its monotonous cultivation, when it is to be considered as belonging to the simple blue country, or part of its dingle scenery, when it becomes green country; and it would not be just, to suit a cottage, actually placed in one color, to the general effect of another color, with which it could have nothing to do. But the effect of the villa extends very often over a considerable space, and becomes part of the large features of the district; so that the whole character and expression of the visible landscape must be considered, and thus the distinction between the two kinds of blue country becomes absolutely necessary. Of the first, or simple, we have already adduced, as an example, the greater part of the South of England. Of the second, or picturesque, the cultivated parts of the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire, generally Shropshire, and the north of Lancashire, and Cumberland, beyond Caldbeck Fells, are good examples; perhaps better than all, the country for twelve miles north, and thirty south, east, and west, of Stirling.

A. The Simple Blue Country.

185. Now, the matter-of-fact business-like activity of simple blue country has been already alluded to. This attribute renders in it a plain palpable brick dwelling-house allowable; though a thing which, in every country but the simple blue, compels every spectator of any feeling to send up aspirations, that builders who, like those of Babel, have brick for stone, may be put, like those of Babel, to confusion. Here, however, it is not only allowable, but even agreeable, for the following reasons:—

186. Its cleanness and freshness of color, admitting of little dampness or staining, firm in its consistence, not moldering like stone, and therefore inducing no conviction of antiquity or decay, presents rather the appearance of such comfort as is contrived for the enjoyment of temporary wealth, than of such solidity as is raised for the inheritance of unfluctuating power. It is thus admirably suited for that country where all is change, and all activity; where the working and money-making members of the community are perpetually succeeding and overpowering each other; enjoying, each in his turn, the reward of his industry; yielding up the field, the pasture, and the mine, to his successor, and leaving no more memory behind him, no farther evidence of his individual existence, than is left by a working bee, in the honey for which we thank his class, forgetting the individual. The simple blue country may, in fact, be considered the dining-table of the nation; from which it provides for its immediate necessities, at which it feels only its present existence, and in which it requires, not a piece of furniture adapted only to remind it of past refection, but a polished, clean, and convenient minister to its immediate wishes. No habitation, therefore, in this country, should look old: it should give an impression of present prosperity, of swift motion and high energy of life; too rapid in its successive operation to attain greatness, or allow of decay, in its works. This is the first cause which, in this country, renders brick allowable.

187. Again, wherever the soil breaks out in simple blue country, whether in the river shore, or the broken roadside bank, or the plowed field, in nine cases out of ten it is excessively warm in its color, being either gravel or clay, the black vegetable soil never remaining free of vegetation. The warm tone of these beds of soil is an admirable relief to the blue of the distances, which we have taken as the distinctive feature of the country, tending to produce the perfect light without which no landscape can be complete. Therefore the red of the brick is prevented from glaring upon the eye, by its falling in with similar colors in the ground, and contrasting finely with the general tone of the distance. This is another instance of the material which nature most readily furnishes being the right one. In almost all blue country, we have only to turn out a few spadefuls of loose soil, and we come to the bed of clay, which is the best material for the building; whereas we should have to travel hundreds of miles, or to dig thousands of feet, to get the stone which nature does not want, and therefore has not given.

188. Another excellence in brick is its perfect air of English respectability. It is utterly impossible for an edifice altogether of brick to look affected or absurd: it may look rude, it may look vulgar, it may look disgusting, in a wrong place; but it cannot look foolish, for it is incapable of pretension. We may suppose its master a brute, or an ignoramus, but we can never suppose him a coxcomb: a bear he may be, a fop he cannot be; and, if we find him out of his place, we feel that it is owing to error, not to impudence; to self-ignorance, not to self-conceit; to the want, not the assumption of feeling. It is thus that brick is peculiarly English in its effect: for we are brutes in many things, and we are ignoramuses in many things, and we are destitute of feeling in many things, but we are not coxcombs. It is only by the utmost effort, that some of our most highly gifted junior gentlemen can attain such distinction of title; and even then the honor sits ill upon them: they are but awkward coxcombs. Affectation[37] never was, and never will be, a part of English character; we have too much national pride, too much consciousness of our own dignity and power, too much established self-satisfaction, to allow us to become ridiculous by imitative efforts; and, as it is only by endeavoring to appear what he is not, that a man ever can become so, properly speaking, our true-witted Continental neighbors, who shrink from John Bull as a brute, never laugh at him as a fool. "Il est bete, il n'est pas pourtant sot."

[Footnote 37: The nation, indeed, possesses one or two interesting individuals, whose affectation is, as we have seen, strikingly manifested in their lake villas: but every rule has its exceptions; and, even on these gifted personages, the affectation sits so very awkwardly, so like a velvet bonnet on a plowman's carroty hair, that it is evidently a late acquisition. Thus, one proprietor of land on Windermere, who has built unto himself a castellated mansion with round towers, and a Swiss cottage for a stable, has yet, with that admiration of the "neat but not gaudy," which is commonly reported to have influenced the devil when he painted his tail pea-green, painted the rocks at the back of his house pink, that they may look clean. This is a little outcrop of English feeling in the midst of the assumed romance.]

189. The brick house admirably corresponds with this part of English character; for, unable as it is to be beautiful, or graceful, or dignified, it is equally unable to be absurd. There is a proud independence about it, which seems conscious of its entire and perfect applicability to those uses for which it was built, and full of a good-natured intention to render every one who seeks shelter within its walls excessively comfortable; it therefore feels awkward in no company; and, wherever it intrudes its good-humored red face, stares plaster and marble out of countenance with an insensible audacity, which we drive out of such refined company, as we would a clown from a drawing-room, but which we nevertheless seek in its own place, as we would seek the conversation of the clown in his own turnip-field, if he were sensible in the main.

190. Lastly. Brick is admirably adapted for the climate of England, and for the frequent manufacturing nuisances of English blue country: for the smoke, which makes marble look like charcoal, and stucco like mud, only renders brick less glaring in its color; and the inclement climate, which makes the composition front look as if its architect had been amusing himself by throwing buckets of green water down from the roof, and before which the granite base of Stirling Castle is moldering into sand as impotent as ever was ribbed by ripple, wreaks its rage in vain upon the bits of baked clay, leaving them strong, and dry, and stainless, warm and comfortable in their effect, even when neglect has permitted the moss and wall-flower to creep into their crannies, and mellow into something like beauty that which is always comfort. Damp, which fills many stones as it would a sponge, is defied by the brick; and the warmth of every gleam of sunshine is caught by it, and stored up for future expenditure; so that, both actually and in its effect, it is peculiarly suited for a climate whose changes are in general from bad to worse, and from worse to bad.

191. These then are the principal apologies which the brick dwelling-house has to offer for its ugliness. They will, however, only stand it in stead in the simple blue country; and, even there, only when the following points are observed.

First. The brick should neither be of the white, nor the very dark red, kind. The white is worse than useless as a color: its cold, raw, sandy neutral has neither warmth enough to relieve, nor gray enough to harmonize with, any natural tones; it does not please the eye by warmth, in shade; it hurts it, by dry heat in sun; it has none of the advantages of effect which brick may have, to compensate for the vulgarity which it must have, and is altogether to be abhorred. The very bright red, again, is one of the ugliest warm colors that art ever stumbled upon: it is never mellowed by damps or anything else, and spoils everything near it by its intolerable and inevitable glare. The moderately dark brick, of a neutral red, is to be chosen, and this, after a year or two, will be farther softened in its color by atmospheric influence, and will possess all the advantages we have enumerated. It is almost unnecessary to point out its fitness for a damp situation, not only as the best material for securing the comfort of the inhabitant, but because it will the sooner contract a certain degree of softness of tone, occasioned by microscopic vegetation, which will leave no more brick-red than is agreeable to the feelings where the atmosphere is chill.

192. Secondly. Even this kind of red is a very powerful color; and as, in combination with the other primitive colors, very little of it will complete the light, so, very little will answer every purpose in landscape composition, and every addition, above that little, will be disagreeable. Brick, therefore, never should be used in large groups of buildings, where those groups are to form part of landscape scenery: two or three houses, partly shaded with trees, are all that can be admitted at once. There is no object more villainously destructive of natural beauty, than a large town, of very red brick, with very scarlet tiling, very tall chimneys, and very few trees; while there are few objects that harmonize more agreeably with the feeling of English ordinary landscape, than the large, old, solitary, brick manor house, with its group of dark cedars on the lawn in front, and the tall wrought-iron gates opening down the avenue of approach.

193. Thirdly. No stone quoining, or presence of any contrasting color, should be admitted. Quoins in general (though, by the by, they are prettily managed in the old Tolbooth of Glasgow, and some other antique buildings in Scotland), are only excusable as giving an appearance of strength; while their zigzag monotony, when rendered conspicuous by difference of color, is altogether detestable. White cornices, niches, and the other superfluous introductions in stone and plaster, which some architects seem to think ornamental, only mock what they cannot mend, take away the whole expression of the edifice, render the brick-red glaring and harsh, and become themselves ridiculous in isolation. Besides, as a general principle, contrasts of extensive color are to be avoided in all buildings, and especially in positive and unmanageable tints. It is difficult to imagine whence the custom of putting stone ornaments into brick buildings could have arisen; unless it be an imitation of the Italian custom of mixing marble with stucco, which affords it no sanction, as the marble is only distinguishable from the general material by the sharpness of the carved edges. The Dutch seem to have been the originators of the custom; and, by the by, if we remember right, in one of the very finest pieces of coloring now extant, a landscape by Rubens (in the gallery at Munich, we think), the artist seems to have sanctioned the barbarism, by introducing a brick edifice, with white stone quoining. But the truth is that he selected the subject, partly under the influence of domestic feelings, the place being, as it is thought, his own habitation, and partly as a piece of practice, presenting such excessive difficulties of color, as he, the lord of color, who alone could overcome them, would peculiarly delight in overcoming; and the harmony with which he has combined tints of the most daring force, and sharpest apparent contrast, in the edgy building, and opposed them to an uninteresting distance of excessive azure (simple blue country, observe), is one of the chief wonders of the painting: so that this masterpiece can no more furnish an apology for the continuance of a practice which, though it gives some liveliness of character to the warehouses of Amsterdam, is fit only for a place whose foundations are mud, and whose inhabitants are partially animated cheeses,—than Caravaggio's custom of painting blackguards should introduce an ambition among mankind in general of becoming fit subjects for his pencil. We shall have occasion again to allude to this subject, in speaking of Dutch street effects.

194. Fourthly. It will generally be found to agree best with the business-like air of the blue country, if the house be excessively simple, and apparently altogether the minister of utility; but, where it is to be extensive, or tall, a few decorations about the upper windows are desirable. These should be quiet and severe in their lines, and cut boldly in the brick itself. Some of the minor streets in the King of Sardinia's capital are altogether of brick, very richly charged with carving, with excellent effect, and furnish a very good model. Of course no delicate ornament can be obtained, and no classical lines can be allowed; for we should be horrified by seeing that in brick which we have been accustomed to see in marble. The architect must be left to his own taste for laying on, sparingly and carefully, a few dispositions of well proportioned line, which are all that can ever be required.

195. These broad principles are all that need be attended to in simple blue country: anything will look well in it which is not affected; and the architect, who keeps comfort and utility steadily in view, and runs off into no expatiations of fancy, need never be afraid here of falling into error.

B. The Picturesque Blue Country.

196. But the case is different with the picturesque blue country.[38] Here, owing to the causes mentioned in the notes at p. 71, we have some of the most elevated bits of landscape character, which the country, whatever it may be, can afford. Its first and most distinctive peculiarity is its grace; it is all undulation and variety of line, one curve passing into another with the most exquisite softness, rolling away into faint and far outlines of various depth and decision, yet none hard or harsh; and in all probability, rounded off in the near ground into massy forms of partially wooded hill, shaded downwards into winding dingles or cliffy ravines, each form melting imperceptibly into the next, without an edge or angle.

[Footnote 38: In leaving simple blue country, we hope it need hardly be said that we leave bricks at once and forever. Nothing can excuse them out of their proper territory.]

197. Its next character is mystery. It is a country peculiarly distinguished by its possessing features of great sublimity in the distance, without giving any hint in the foreground of their actual nature. A range of mountain, seen from a mountain peak, may have sublimity, but not the mystery with which it is invested, when seen rising over the farthest surge of misty blue, where everything near is soft and smiling, totally separated in nature from the consolidated clouds of the horizon. The picturesque blue country is sure, from the nature of the ground, to present some distance of this kind, so as never to be without a high and ethereal mystery.

198. The third and last distinctive attribute is sensuality. This is a startling word, and requires some explanation. In the first place, every line is voluptuous, floating, and wavy in its form; deep, rich, and exquisitely soft in its color; drowsy in its effect; like slow wild music; letting the eye repose on it, as on a wreath of cloud, without one feature of harshness to hurt, or of contrast to awaken. In the second place, the cultivation, which, in the simple blue country, has the forced formality of growth which evidently is to supply the necessities of man, here seems to leap into the spontaneous luxuriance of life, which is fitted to minister to his pleasures. The surface of the earth exults with animation, especially tending to the gratification of the senses; and, without the artificialness which reminds man of the necessity of his own labor, without the opposing influences which call for his resistance, without the vast energies that remind him of his impotence, without the sublimity that can call his noblest thoughts into action, yet, with every perfection that can tempt him to indolence of enjoyment, and with such abundant bestowal of natural gifts, as might seem to prevent that indolence from being its own punishment, the earth appears to have become a garden of delight, wherein the sweep of the bright hills, without chasm or crag, the flow of the bending rivers, without rock or rapid, and the fruitfulness of the fair earth, without care or labor on the part of its inhabitants, appeal to the most pleasant passions of eye and sense, calling for no effort of body, and impressing no fear on the mind. In hill country we have a struggle to maintain with the elements; in simple blue, we have not the luxuriance of delight: here, and here only, all nature combines to breathe over us a lulling slumber, through which life degenerates into sensation.

199. These considerations are sufficient to explain what we mean by the epithet "sensuality." Now, taking these three distinctive attributes, the mysterious, the graceful, and the voluptuous, what is the whole character? Very nearly—the Greek: for these attributes, common to all picturesque blue country, are modified in the degree of their presence by every climate. In England they are all low in their tone; but as we go southward, the voluptuousness becomes deeper in feeling as the colors of the earth and the heaven become purer and more passionate, and "the purple of ocean deepest of dye;" the mystery becomes mightier, for the greater and more universal energy of the beautiful permits its features to come nearer, and to rise into the sublime, without causing fear. It is thus that we get the essence of the Greek feeling, as it was embodied in their finest imaginations, as it showed itself in the works of their sculptors and their poets, in which sensation was made almost equal with thought, and deified by its nobility of association; at once voluptuous, refined, dreamily mysterious, infinitely beautiful. Hence, it appears that the spirit of this blue country is essentially Greek; though, in England and in other northern localities, that spirit is possessed by it in a diminished and degraded degree. It is also the natural dominion of the villa, possessing all the attributes which attracted the Romans, when, in their hours of idleness, they lifted the light arches along the echoing promontories of Tiber. It is especially suited to the expression of the edifice of pleasure; and, therefore, is most capable of being adorned by it.

200. The attention of every one about to raise himself a villa of any kind should, therefore, be directed to this kind of country; first, as that in which he will not be felt to be an intruder; secondly, as that which will, in all probability, afford him the greatest degree of continuous pleasure, when his eye has become accustomed to the features of the locality. To the human mind, as on the average constituted, the features of hill scenery will, by repetition, become tiresome, and of wood scenery, monotonous; while the simple blue can possess little interest of any kind. Powerful intellect will generally take perpetual delight in hill residence; but the general mind soon feels itself oppressed with a peculiar melancholy and weariness, which it is ashamed to own; and we hear our romantic gentlemen begin to call out about the want of society, while, if the animals were fit to live where they have forced themselves, they would never want more society than that of a gray stone, or of a clear pool of gushing water. On the other hand, there are few minds so degraded as not to feel greater pleasure in the picturesque blue than in any other country. Its distance has generally grandeur enough to meet their moods of aspiration; its near aspect is that of a more human interest than that of hill country, and harmonizes more truly with the domestic feelings which are common to all mankind; so that, on the whole, it will be found to maintain its freshness of beauty to the habituated eye, in a greater degree than any other scenery.

201. As it thus persuades us to inhabit it, it becomes a point of honor not to make the attractiveness of its beauty its destruction; especially as, being the natural dominion of the villa, it affords great opportunity for the architect to exhibit variety of design.

Its spirit has been proved to be Greek; and therefore, though that spirit is slightly manifested in Britain, and though every good architect is shy of importation, villas on Greek and Roman models are admissible here. Still, as in all blue country there is much activity of life, the principle of utility should be kept in view, and the building should have as much simplicity as can be united with perfect gracefulness of line. It appears from the principles of composition alluded to in speaking of the Italian villa, that in undulating country the forms should be square and massy; and, where the segments of curves are small, the buildings should be low and flat, while they may be prevented from appearing cumbrous by some well-managed irregularity of design, which will be agreeable to the inhabitant as well as to the spectator; enabling him to change the aspect and size of his chamber, as temperature or employment may render such change desirable, without being foiled in his design, by finding the apartments of one wing matched, foot to foot, by those of the other.

202. For the color, it has been shown that white or pale tints are agreeable in all blue country: but there must be warmth in it, and a great deal too,—gray being comfortless and useless with a cold distance; but it must not be raw or glaring.[39] The roof and chimneys should be kept out of sight as much as possible; and therefore the one very flat, and the other very plain. We ought to revive the Greek custom of roofing with thin slabs of coarse marble, cut into the form of tiles. However, where the architect finds he has a very cool distance, and few trees about the building, and where it stands so high as to preclude the possibility of its being looked down upon, he will, if he be courageous, use a very flat roof of the dark Italian tile. The eaves, which are all that should be seen, will be peculiarly graceful; and the sharp contrast of color (for this tiling can only be admitted with white walls) may be altogether avoided, by letting them cast a strong shadow, and by running the walls up into a range of low garret windows, to break the horizontal line of the roof. He will thus obtain a bit of very strong color, which will impart a general glow of cheerfulness to the building, and which, if he manages it rightly, will not be glaring nor intrusive. It is to be observed, however, that he can only do this with villas of the most humble order, and that he will seldom find his employer possessed of so much common sense as to put up with a tile roof. When this is the case, the flat slabs of the upper limestone (ragstone) are usually better than slate.

[Footnote 39: The epithet "raw," by the by, is vague, and needs definition. Every tint is raw which is perfectly opaque, and has not all the three primitive colors in its composition. Thus, black is always raw, because it has no color; white never, because it has all colors. No tint can be raw which is not opaque; and opacity may be taken away, either by actual depth and transparency, as in the sky; by luster and texture, as in the case of silk and velvet, or by variety of shade as in forest verdure. Two instances will be sufficient to prove the truth of this. Brick, when first fired, is always raw; but when it has been a little weathered, it acquires a slight blue tint, assisted by the gray of the mortar: incipient vegetation affords it the yellow. It thus obtains an admixture of the three colors, and is raw no longer. An old woman's red cloak, though glaring, is never raw; for it must of necessity have folded shades: those shades are of a rich gray; no gray can exist without yellow and blue. We have then three colors, and no rawness. It must be observed however, that when any one of the colors is given in so slight a degree that it can be overpowered by certain effects of light, the united color, when opaque, will be raw. Thus many flesh-colors are raw; because, though they must have a little blue in their composition, it is too little to be efficiently visible in a strong light.]

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