« AnteriorContinua »
the centre and partly to guard against the risk of unequal settlements. In their sumptuous fabrics the face of the wall was constructed on the Grecian plan. They employed enormous blocks of stone, and united them without the aid of mortar by the mere mathematical exactness of the work, assisted by mortices and metal cramps. In their cheaper buildings the face was composed of smaller and rougher masonry, held together by mortar. The megalithic elevations of the Romans must have excited the admiration of the early Gothic architects by the beauty of the finish and by the imposing vastness of the separate blocks. But to copy the pattern was beyond their compass. They had not the machines to lift nor the solid roads on which to transport huge masses of stone weighing several tons. They could as little command the skill for squaring and putting together the materials with the precision of joinery. No succession of artificers linked mediæval to ancient Europe. The mechanical processes had died out in the long and dreary interregnum, and had all to be discovered afresh. The coarseness of the masonry in the oldest specimens of the eleventh-century Gothic tells us that we have got their monumental architecture in its infancy, and that they had served but a short apprenticeship to the craft. They were driven to imitate those specimens of Roman work in which the stones were of slight dimensions, and this necessity acted upon their style. They They were unable to hew out columns or carve capitals like the antique examples, and they were obliged to abjure any close reproduction of that portion of their models to which the term classical is usually applied. Both the piers and pillars of the rising school were built up of small pieces, and often with rubble in the centre, which, from want of experience in selecting lime and sand, was no better than a counterfeit of the Roman concrete. While the plan of the Gothic churches was chiefly based upon the aisles and apse of the Christian basilicas, the classical columns were exchanged for the cylindrical and rectangular masses which were dictated by the nature of the workmanship. The rude strength, which was an ordinary attribute of the age, is especially visible in the Norman branch of the art. The breadth and solidity of the supports is the Roman structure divested of its Greek disguise. Yet the general conception was applied and varied in a manner to which there is nothing corresponding in the ancient world. The style is unique, and neither recalls the basilica of Maxentius nor the basilica of St. Paul. There is one conspicuous merit which would of itself have set a boundary between the Roman remains and the innovations of the gifted race who re-created architecture. They had a strong relish for ornament, but with a rare sobriety of taste they did not allow their multitudinous enrichments to
outstrip their power to apply them rightly, and every pillar, and shaft, and capital, and moulding was made to give emphasis and expression to the construction, or else to melt into it without contradiction and concealment.
The characteristics of Gothic architecture, its progress and ramifications, are expounded by Mr. Fergusson with his usual mastery; but the subject is large, and we cannot touch upon it now. Our object has been, by condensing a few of his facts, to explain, in some degree, his method of proceeding, and enable persons, who are not familiar with the study, to perceive the interest which belongs to his logical deductive history. The cursory sketch we have attempted is a poor representation of a volume of 674 pages, with its 535 engravings illustrative of the text. The necessity to be brief has obliged us to pass by those details which are most remarkable for originality, and the strongest evidence of the genius and sagacity of the author. His profound labours are not only a fascinating exposition of the past, but they are a luminous guide to the future. In the wide retrospect we perceive the causes of failure and success, and we learn by what principles and on what conditions we can rival our forefathers. With her multitude of architects England has long been without an architecture. The evil and its remedy are distinctly set forth by Mr. Fergusson, and his entire history is a commentary on his views and a confirmation of their truth.
'Inconveniences go for nothing with him,' wrote Madame de Maintenon of Louis XIV. and his palaces. He insists that all should be grandeur, magnificence, and symmetry, and you must endure the draughts from the doors that they may be opposite one another. I have a beautiful apartment at Fontainbleau, but it is equally exposed to heat and cold, having a window as big as the largest arcade, and without any shutters, because symmetry would be violated. Do not imagine that I can put a screen before my big window. You cannot arrange your room as you please when the King comes there every day, but you must perish in symmetry. My mind suffers something as well as my health in living with people who only care for display, and who are lodged like divinities.' The King gratified his passion for symmetry by carrying the same grandiose design through the 1880 feet of elevation in the garden façade at Ver
The relation of Ethnography to Architecture is among the topics we have omitted. Mr. Fergusson believes that the different families of mankind have distinct architectural ideas, and that the buildings reveal to us the race of the builders. He has a delightful introductory dissertation on the subject, and he applies his doctrines throughout his book. The subject is of great importance and interest to both Architecture and Ethnography, but it is far too extensive to be discussed incidentally.
Vol. 120.-No. 240.
sailles. Whatever the purpose to which the interior was applied the exterior must be cast in one wearisome mould, and belie the actual arrangements. Consistency and comfort were sacrificed to the prosaic commonplace frontage, which Louis XIV. fondly fancied was regal, and with the exception of the galleries, saloons, and royal apartments, all within was incommodious, and fre quently paltry. The lodgings of the divinities were intermingled with sombre chambers and wretched make-shifts, to which the big windows and classical columns were a pompous fraudulent screen.*
The error of Louis XIV. was the same which has been the vice and destruction of modern architecture. The true order is reversed. Whether the edifice is a church, a palace, a public office, or a house, the disposition which is most convenient should first be devised and the elevation should conform to it; whereas the ordinary practice has been to adopt, and in adopting to adulterate, some noted design, and sacrifice the object for which the building is erected to outside appearances. The usage is fatal to both inside and out, and architecture, like the favourite of Louis XIV., is condemned to perish in symmetry. The façade which might have been beautiful for its primitive purpose, is unsightly, even if it escapes debasement, when its appropriateness is gone, and it only proclaims the bad taste and barren mind of the adapter. Others, to avoid the trouble of any design at all, have been content with a confused heap of parts stuck together, and have been persuaded that the clumsy patchwork was picturesque because it was irregular. Extremes meet; and the opposite systems have this in common, that they dispense with talent, thought, and knowledge, and are alike convenient to the ignorant pretender and the fashionable architectural manufacturer. But when fitness is paramount, when the elevation is compelled to bend to a well-ordered interior, when utility is accepted as the groundwork for beauty, and when the ornament
Versailles was the work of the younger Mansard. Saint-Simon says, that neither he nor his master had any taste, and that he never designed a handsome or convenient building. He was a rule-and-compass architect, without a particle of imagination, and owed his rise to the adroitness with which he flattered the king, and played upon his weaknesses. His constructive was on a par with his artistic ability. He erected two bridges, one at Blois, the other at Moulins, and they both tumbled down. He was proud of the Moulins bridge, and boasted of its strength. A few months after it was finished, M. Charlus, the LieutenantGeneral of the Province, went to court, and Mansard, who was present, and wanted to hear his own praises, begged the king to ask about the bridge. Sire,' replied Charlus, I have heard nothing of it since it took its departure, but I believe it is now at Nantes.' 'Of what do you suppose I am talking?' said the king: It is the bridge at Moulins of which I spoke.' And it is the bridge at Moulins,' answered Charlus drily, which detached itself in the lump, the evening before I left, and went pell-mell into the river.'
is contrived to indicate the construction or combine with it harmoniously, the endless variety in the conditions ensures a perpetual variety in the product, and the inevitable consequence is novelty and progress. The great models, then, assist, instead of stifling originality, and insipid parodies give way to works which in turn are worthy to become standard examples. Though there can never again be a single style which all will unite in maturing, there is nothing to prevent the disciples of the principal schools from steadily advancing in their several departments. A beginning has been made. Amid much that is trite, fantastic, and mistaken, numerous buildings of our day are a vast improvement on the flat, feeble, dreary productions which prevailed for many preceding generations. The enlightened investigation which has revealed to us the inmost spirit of styles, where our fathers travestied their superficial aspect, is the cause of the change; and no means can be more effectual to help on the movement than a History which takes the tour of the globe, which unfolds the aims and methods of all the leading architectures of the world, and which sets forth in a running, perspicuous criticism the beauties we should emulate and the blots we should shun.
ART. VI.-1. Mémoire sur la partie Méridionale de l'Asie Centrale. Par Nicolas de Khanikoff. Paris, 1862.
2. Mémoire sur l'Ethnographie de la Perse. Par Nicolas de Khanikoff. Paris, 1866.
3. Journal of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society, St. Petersburg.
4. Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London. Vol. X. No. IV. London, 1866.
5. Le Livre de Marco Polo. Par M. G. Panthier. Paris, 1865. 6. Invalide Russe. 1866.
YENTRAL Asia' is a conventional rather than a strictly geographical title. The name is not confined to that particular portion of Asia which is centrically situated in respect to latitude and longitude. It is rather used as a convenient and general designation for the whole interior of the continent, and is thus made to cover a greater or less extent of territory, according as the writers who employ it refer to the ethnology, or the physical geography, or the political distribution of the countries which are contained within its limits.
In the present sketch, which proposes to consider our sources
of information with regard to these countries, as well as their actual condition and prospects, Central Asia must be understood to mean the regions which intervene between the Russian empire to the north and the British-Indian empire to the south, including, perhaps, a portion of the Persian province of Khorassan to the west, and Chinese Turkestan to the east.
When Alexander von Humboldt, a quarter of a century ago, compiled his celebrated work on the 'Orography and Comparative Climatology of Central Asia,' though the materials at his disposal for gaining a general acquaintance with those subjects were most abundant, yet he often found himself at fault in searching for precise and trustworthy details. He himself had proceeded no further than Lake Zaisan, at the foot of the southern slopes of the Altai; and the Ili River, which disembogues into the Balkash Lake, at a short distance to the southwest, was the extreme limit of Russian scientific exploration.
At that time no traveller from the North had invaded the solitudes of the Thian-Shan since the Jesuit commission of the preceding century, nor had any adventurous Englishman penetrated as yet to the icy summits of the Kara-koram and Kuen-Luen. Since then, however, vast additions have been made to our accurate knowledge of these regions. Not only have the theodolite and barometer been extensively used along both the mountain-chains, which bound the plateau of Chinese Turkestan to the north and south; but hardy travellers, passing in disguise through the length and breadth of the land, have visited all the principal cities of Central Asia, have mixed familiarly with the tribesmen and villagers, and-except in regard to some par
The Chinese Emperor Tsian-lun (or Khian-loung, according to Klaproth) appointed a commission, consisting of a German Jesuit, Hallerstein, with two assistants, Felix d'Arocha and Espinha, to accompany the expedition which he sent against the Eleuths of Zungaria in 1755, for the purpose of determining the astronomical position of all the principal sites in Central Asia; and the results of their observations were subsequently embodied in an official map published at Pekin. This map was translated by Klaproth, from a comparison of several copies, and published by him at Berlin in 1833; and it has served as the basis of all our Central Asiatic geography until modern times. The Russians, indeed, who through M. Zakharof, Consul at Kulja, have recently acquired a more authentic register of the Jesuit observations, still maintain their rigid accuracy; but our Indian Trigonometrical Survey, which has been now pushed into Tartary, does not bear out this favourable verdict to the same extent-Mr. Johnson's planetable survey, for instance, giving 79° 25' for the approximate longitude of Khoten, while the Jesuit Register has 80° 21'. The Jesuit survey extended westward as far as the Sari-kul Lake, and northward to the valley of the Talas. No account of the journeyings or personal adventures of these remarkable explorers is believed to be extant, but the Jesuit College published at the time, from their Reports, a very interesting record of the military and political events of the expedition.—(See 'Lettres Edifiantes,' tom. xxvii.)