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mansions of the rich and the dwellings ther of them - far from it; yet I do say of the people, and in solidity of con- that a wooden building should not ape struction as well as fitness for their pur. a stone one, but should show its mapose they have a decided advantage. terial, and delight in it.
Were all the houses of Liverpool re- Another evil, common all over the duced to shapeless heaps, her six-miles world, but especially conspicuous in line of docks and the ruins of her ware- San Francisco, is the misuse of ornahouses would still remain to tell of her ment. Instead of good ornament, introcommercial greatness. Something sim- duced in prominent parts of the buildilar to this may be said of most of the ing, where its beauty will be seen and large cities of Europe, and some of those appreciated the moment the spectator in the United States; but what would approaches sufficiently near, we have a be left of San Francisco were her streets front loaded with endless repetitions of to be swept by fire? Verily nothing, ex- the same detail; the same scrawny cept the basement of her unfinished city scroll looking at us from a hundred hall, and a pile of bricks on the site of window - heads; the same little panels the Palace Hotel. There is not upon stuck in every corner; strings of vegethe face of the civilized earth-neither tables, all alike, hanging from every in Europe, Asia, nor America - a large column; and wreaths and cornucopias, city whose buildings are, as a whole, so badly carved, dangling between every utterly devoid of all architectural merit projection, as if to leave a bit of plain as are those of San Francisco.
surface anywhere were to break an elevThat it is a city of wood would be no enth commandment. Feproach were the wood properly treat- Now, although the decoration of a ed; but the wooden houses lie, like a building is a very important part of it, man with a false shirt-front- they try it is altogether subordinate, in its effect to hide their material. They imitate upon a spectator, to the general form stone; their fronts are channeled into of the whole and the proportion of the blocks and sanded over, and quoins, parts to each other. When we look window-sills, cornices, and other de- upon any architectural composition, as tails are copied from those of the brick for example a church, from a distance, and stone dwellings of other modern the pleasure derived from its contemcities. There is no need for this. plation, and therefore our estimate of its Wood has its own characteristics as a excellence, depends entirely upon the building material, and should be treat- form of the outline and the relative proed so as to bring them out in the best portions of its larger parts or masses. manner.
As we approach nearer, and look upon Wood was extensively used in the the building from a distance at which middle ages, and beautiful examples of the eye can still grasp the entire group, wooden buildings, both public and pri- the forms of the windows, doors, and vate, are extant in the old cities of Eu- recesses, and the proportions of the rope. We call their style Gothic, but columns, arches, and cornices, become how different is their Gothic to that of the elements in influencing the mind to the stone - built cathedrals and castles praise or condemn the structure. At contemporary with them. The Swiss this distance the proper or improper have a picturesque class of wooden application of the ornaments also bedwellings peculiarly their own, and well comes apparent; but it is not until we suited to their mountainous country. approach still nearer- until the eye perI do not say that we should copy ei- ceives only a small portion of the build
ing at once-until, in fact, we examine it cal or an ignoramus to be more successpiece by piece as a microscopist exam- ful as a doctor than a man who has deines the insect under his lens — that we voted a life-time to the study of the ills are able to judge correctly of the qual- our flesh is heir to can reasonably hope ity of the ornaments bestowed upon it. to be, so among a public whose knowl
Take two buildings, one of which has edge of architecture is limited by what a good outline with the various parts they see around them it is possible for well proportioned and combined, open- a mere house-butcher to set himself up ings of graceful form, judiciously spaced as an architect and obtain an enormous and grouped, and ornament placed where practice. Such men erect buildings by it is most effective yet in itself coarse the score, but their works are not archi. and incapable of giving pleasure to the tecture, and their success, like that of artistic eye when viewed in detail, while the humbug physician, is simply proof the other, without any variety in the out- of the ignorance and credulity of the line, and with openings of ungraceful public. form monstrously spaced, is yet loaded So universal has this bad taste bewith delicately wrought ornaments of ex- come, that even those architects who quisite beauty, and I have no hesitation are thoroughly qualified to do better are in saying that the former building will forced to pander to it in order to make be far more satisfactory than the latter. a living, and thus flimsy construction, A piece of scroll- work or carving, or a sham materials, and meretricious ornagroup of figures, may be a beautiful ob- ments are the rule among us. No true ject in itself, considered as sculpture, architecture can be produced without but its architectural effect depends more time and thought, and both of these are upon its position than upon its own beau- almost (not altogether) impossible under ty. Were the unrivaled sculptures of the horrid system of building practiced Phidias placed upon an ill-proportioned in this city, to say nothing of the fact structure, even were that structure in that the low commissions to which ar. the style of the sculptor's country, they chitects are often reduced preclude them would not suffice to redeem it from ab- from giving any building of ordinary solute ugliness, but rather by sheer force dimensions the attention it requires. of contrast would render that ugliness Something big, something cheap, somemore conspicuous.
thing stuck over with upholstery ornaThe cause of the low ebb to which ment- this is what too many house. architecture has fallen in this city must builders of San Francisco want, and be attributed principally to the want of this they want in a week from the date taste among those who pay for build- of the order. They get it, the daily ings. Just as among a public ignorant papers praise their enterprise and taste, of physiology it is possible for a ras- and so our shams increase and multiply.
YEA YEA, AND NAY NAY.
T is so new a country," I explain
««• We would every deed ed, “so parvenu, so sunburned ;
Perform at once as grandly as it shows
After long ages, when from land to land it has no history worth the name. Beau
The poet's swelling song hath rolled it on. ties of its own wild conchoidal sort it It sounds so lovely what our fathers did; has, but they have no associations not
And what we do is as it was to them,
Toilsome and incomplete.'" pre-historic - none, later than the Küchen - Möddings. You look out there “Ah! quotation is the word to-night, over that wild sea — with keen irony my Doctor; very well. This is from named Pacific-back and round from Shelley: coast-edge to Sierra; nothing !-- noth- "Nothing can be equally well expressed in prose ing there knit in by memory with any no
that is not tedious and supererogatory in verse."" ble pulse or passion of any heroic soul.” He puffed a smile of smoke. "Speak for yourself, my friend,” re
“I take the hint. When we are old plied the Californian somewhat coldly, as your England we shall show you our swinging himself from his horse and antiquities, and be proud enough of our tying him to a post. I buckled my bri: history-studying yours, perhaps, from dle above his and followed him down the position of Macaulay's Maori toura sort of path, and in a moment we ist. In the meantime, we have origistood together in a little cove of peb- nated a new literature of the West, a bly beach.
new humor whose broad smile wrinkles It was about midnight. The learned the world's mouth from San Francisco doctor arranged his traveling serape and to London, to Saint Petersburg. lay down on the pebbles; hardly taking “Cervantes smiled Spain's chivalry away;' time to look around, I followed his ex- we are laughing aristocracy and oldample. We leaned on our elbows and worldism away.” smoked in silence. I watched the doc- "Laughing this away," I said sadly, tor's face. The shadow of his hat and how much more with it? The darkened it from the moonlight; only world and worlds, and all they contain, now and then when a deeper inhalation have become but cork - balls, dancing in than ordinary almost set his enormous the jester's whistle so highly prized cigar aflame did the glow reflect itself by the American of to-day-above all, in his eyes and bring out the deeply cut by that American of Americans, the western features. The thin steel- trap Californian. Children grow too humorlips vibrated suddenly:
ous to regard the paternal will or wish; ""The waves came dancing to our very feet,
wives and husbands roar with inextinAnd all before us lay the wide, wide world.' guishable laughter at jokes turning on That's Goethe in Iphigenia, isn't it? a fractured commandment or a facile and that's our position now. It is divorce court; your plundered man or Orestes that speaks, extolling the far- city is punctured with a thousand jouroff and the past. Do you remember nalistic jests, amid the roars of the the answer of Pylades ?”
spectators. The land is sick-hearted I did not reply; the doctor went on and faint-headed —a young western with his quotation:
republic, miry with the corruptions of oriental and decrepit despotisms-yet again at me for laughing, and I laugh its one literary feature is the grin of again at you for crying. And the milk the buffoon, its distinguishing tone a - a practical cat with a talent for laphorse - laugh, its sentiment an eternal ping will save more of it in a minute sneer. Your literary Breitmans “solfe than your howling will in a year. If de infinide ash von eternal shpree!' not the laugher, I had rather be the cat. When I read the funny sentences, mis- “For example, as we rode through spelt and ungrammatical, contorted, dis- that little out-of-the- way town to-day torted like the face of a clown for ef- we saw two peasant- women fighting. fect - when I understand that this is You grew virtuously indignant at the the most profitable and fame-bringing levity with which I regarded the prowriting on this continent- that there is ceeding. If I were a characteristic nothing too sober or sacred for its rid- western reporter I should describe the icule- I am well inclined to believe scene in my paper to-morrow in some with Valentin, the Alexandrian philos- such style as this: opher, that there are men born without ""Two Celtic ladies appealed this souls. If Mark Twain, for example, morning on our plaza to the great oris not a literary hylique (as the great deal of battle, in re the ownership of a Gnostic termed it), he comes as a writer skillet. as near it as I ever wish to see."
66666 Serene child of Satanas," said a “My friend,” the doctor said, speak- foreigner in the crowd to a nonchalant ing in slow whiffs, "you are, in the first Yankee, “canst thou stand calmly by and place, a foreigner with the prejudices of see the form of woman marred and mua foreigner; then a young man with the tilated thus? Catch one combatant and dogmatism of youth; and then you are, I'll hold the other back.” in a small way, a writer with no taste 666“ Mister," the free-born cautiously for humor — the grapes are sour, and and sententiously replied, “them what your teeth are upon edge. Hence these in quarrels interpose must often wipe a sorrows of Werther."
bloody nose. Go in an' get yourn bustHe puffed on, as if pausing for a re- ed if you like, though.” ply; but none came. He twitched his "At this moment Madam Malony lips, lighting another cigar.
secured the skillet; she waved it over “My tragedian,” he expostulated, her head; she smote the O'Rafferty upon “that look of ineffable disgust is un- a star - like eye, making a black blank called for. It is vacation - time, and we one side her visual life. travel to be happy, and speak out as "The smitten one resounding smote we want to, praising ourselves, decrying the curb. She dreamed she dwelt in everybody else; of such are the de- marble halls. lights of life, my brother. Your lofty ««The tears rolled down the Briton's principles and your slangless diction do cheek as he helped her up. “O, surely you honor, but they are too elegant not for this,” he wailed, “was the clay of for every-day existence. Fine feathers her molded by God, and tempered with draggle so in the ordinary back-yard of the tears of angels to the perfectest life. You take your mental stimulants shape of woman.” out in virtuous indignation; I mine in “The O'Rafferty steadied herself; she Rabelaisian laughter. It comes to one looked with a single eye upon the glory end. Neither of us will ever reform of the Malonys. She fung herself into or convert the world. I laugh, you her good Samaritan's arms, and, with a cry, over spilt milk; then you cry voice, that, like a bell
"Tolled by an earthquake in a trembling tower, sary to the argument to say that Hamlet Rang ruin,"
seems the greater character; what I do cried, “Carry me home to me owld say is that your characteristic national shaughraun."
literature is all Falstaff, all cap and “The hoodlum gazers, sons of Belial, bells, an intolerable deal of sack to one laughed, and the victor bent for the spo- half-pennyworth of bread. Isaiah might lia opima. A bent bustle and a busted publish a poem in weekly parts, and he chignon, trophies of victory, hang to-day could not pay printing expenses under in the wigwam of the Malonys.'
the Stars and Stripes; while any scur“There, sir!”—and the doctor's cigarrilous humorist, with a talent for stable glowed like the head - light of a locomo- slang and a conspicuous target, can grow tive — "that account, labored and artifi- rich in the course of one political camcial as it is, would bring a smile to nine- paign. It is partly the result of your ty-nine out of a hundred faces. The bit ultra democracy, I think. “Universal of dolorous sermon you are probably suffrage,' it has been said by an Ameriabout to preach on the same text, would can, 'is government by a class '- and not be even read, save by the hundredth that the lowest class. Go into your poman—and he'd be a dyspeptic.
lice court, any morning; look at thirty “The worst of it is, it's a hypocrisy; drunks' in the dock. There are pera nearly involuntary one, I make no haps five respectable persons in the room doubt, but still a hypocrisy. A doc —the judge, yourself, and an exceptiontor of natural science and not of litera- al lawyer or two. Turn your eyes on the ture, I yet affirm that Mark Twain is dock. Count off five heads. Look at better - gives more mental pleasure to them. Consider them. Those five blearthe greatest number—than Milton; that ed faces will neutralize at the polls all Bret Harte, Josh Billings, Petroleum V. the wisdom and all the respectability Nasby, Artemus Ward, are more inter- that court -room holds, leaving twentyesting writers than Shakspeare-except five ragamuffin citizens over to legislate in the funny characters, like Falstaff. I as they please - from the dock. 'Libsay, nine times in ten the average man, erty, how many crimes are committed in if he is not a prig and is not afraid to thy name!' avow his own mind, will agree with me “Here the debtors, the peasants, the in this. I have read more than books of outcasts, the ne'er-do-weels, the Helots science in my time, and I tell you that of the world stagger through a contiwhen not reading for business but pleas- nental arena drunk with the new wine of ure, I pick a modern humorist. The liberty. It is a great spectacle, perhaps suspicion of my inmost heart is that the a hopeful one, but not at present an average man who says he prefers heavy æsthetically pretty one. This state of literature is just a little tainted with lit- things - where in the great arc of direct erary snobbery."
government the facial angle of Emerson “Doctor," I replied, just looking into is reckoned precisely equal to that of the flask which he parenthetically reach- Cudjoe Africanus — may be a pleasant ed me, “there is one thing about the state of things for Cudjoe (though opinShakspeare you have mentioned that ions differ even on that point), for the few men can lay claim to-many-sided- proletariat, the hoi polloi, but it can
He was neither a comedian nor hardly be yet described as pleasant for a tragedian; he was both. I have no the Emerson stamp of person, or his word to say against Falstaff or his mot- farthest-off disciple, or the cultured miley company-do not even feel it neces- nority. What exasperates me is that