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“What proof have we that the professors of architecture in the nineteenth century possessed that perfect knowledge of the sublime styles of antiquity of which they so vainly boasted ?" is a question which will naturally be asked by people of taste in a future age, on viewing such of our modern structures as may happen to survive to that period. What opinion will they form of our talent and discernment; of the trouble we are reported to have taken in examining the relics of Greece and Rome? they will surely conclude that our travellers missed the objects of their research, or wanted taste to profit by their models. Nor is it in architecture alone that we are so distinguished for variety and novelty. All that contributes to comfort, ease, and luxury, changes its form and fashion, not according to any approved standard, or at stated periods, but agreeably to the fancy of every one who rejects, or despises fixed rules. Fashion or novelty is a tyrant without control; and “ taste,” though much talked of, is a term as commonly misunderstood, as it is generally misapplied. The carpenter who builds your summer-house; the citizen who designs his country-box in the “ gothic" style; and the architect of a church, are styled with equal freedom, and often with equal propriety, men of“ taste.” True it is, that trifles may be performed with neatness and propriety, and the carpenter, the citizen, and the architect, are equally entitled to applause for the success of their respective talents.
The taste, for I must use, though I hate the term,-of the present day, seems to be for invention. In costume it has reached a ridiculous height, but in architecture, it is quite gone mad. Upholsterers and landscapegardeners are turned architects, and every architect has a style of his own. The established orders of Greece and Rome are set aside as common-place, and others composed from models which have nothing to recommend them but their singularity. Every age has produced some bad designers and sculptors, and it is absurd to imitate what is destitute of elegance or beauty merely because it is venerable. Methinks taste is no less required to select a model than to adapt it; and I will venture to assert, that no applause will follow the labour of an architect who has chosen an example merely from its novelty.
Mr. Nash and Mr. Soane are the masters of invention in the present day: the former is indeed ingenious, but the latter bears away the palm. The fertile imagination of Mr. Soane has been largely called upon at the King's staircase in the House of Lords, and at the Bank of England.
When we call to our remembrance the splendid palace which once occupied the site of the former building, and the noble architecture of Sir Robert Taylor, of the latter, their fate, and the character of their successors, is equally deplorable. It must be mortifying for the architect so soon to witness the destruction of the crooked passage and grotesque porch, which almost close up the entrance of Abingdon-street, but their fate, we are informed, is inevitable; and whatever Mr. Soane and his friends may think, or say, the designers and applauders will lose no credit by the absence of such trumpery erections. The interior of the staircase and passage baffle description. The latter is crowded with pillars, and the whole is covered with “ crincum-crancum and cut work," which, aided by the glare of saffron-coloured-glass, dazzle and distract the sight more than a confectioner's shop on twelfth-day. So resolutely has
the architect hurled defiance at the approved rules of antiquity, that he has diminished all the mouldings, and increased with the number, the size of the ornaments. These ornaments are, 1 fear, undefinable: some resemble marbles strung together, others the joints of animals' bones, but the majority bear no analogy whatever to any production of nature, or invention of art. The architect we believe scorns to be a copyist, and he has now shewn us the wondrous all-sufficiency of an inventive wisdom. The public will not admire such trash under the name of architecture. A confectioner, to be sure, might possibly turn it to some account: he could perhaps adorn a mince-pie, or a plum-cake, and gain applause ; but while an architect continues to torture stone, and plaster walls, with such paltry ornaments, he must endure the censure of men of science and true taste.
If our memory does not deceive us, the Bank-buildings once trembled to their foundations under the thunder of a poet. If our eloquence is less forcible, it shall be directed towards its object with no less energy and sincerity of intention. We recollect the Rotunda, which was unquestionably the grandest room in the Metropolis, whose dome swelled in sublime proportion little inferior to its revered model, the Pantheon ; and whose endless range of pillars, with their highly-wrought capitals, supported a bold entablature: these, with their subordinate members, composed the design of Sir Robert Taylor. Such was the structure which Mr. Soane's taste could not equal, but which he did not scruple to violate and destroy. The Rotunda is now a vacuum ; in the room of sunk pannels, bold cornices, and graceful columns, the wall and ceiling are streaked or“ scored" with lines, and the once beautiful room is now as uninteresting as the inside of a cocoa-nut-shell. After the lapse of a few years, the architect has made another sweeping attack on Sir Robert Taylor's work. The extensive wings of the principal front screened the buildings of the interior court, and preserved a uniform character on the exterior. They consisted of arched recesses, and piers formed of Auted Corinthian pillars placed at regular distances.
The eastern wing, and part of the connected side having been cased, now present a very singular appearance, in contrast with the opposite wing, and with the centre; which last was built by George Sampson. Eight pillars now stand in unmeaning array, where sixteen formerly stood in scientific order : the graceful capitals have given place to the short lumpy style of the Temple of Vesta; the entablature supports a row of little open arches, evidently copied from the partition of a mississippi board; and two contending scrolls, which seem to have crawled along the parapet in search of a position, at last unite and settle over the angle.
We have heard that Mr. Soane prides himself on turning the corner of a building well : to do him justice, the Lothbury corner of the Bank, when he first began to mangle that poor devoted structure, was ingeniously contrived ; and the public, who are always ready to reward merit, gave the architect a due share of applause. And what has been the consequence ? Mr. Soane has tried the same experiment at every opportunity; again at the Bank, at the King's entrance to the House of Lords, and at that huge unsightly building which is now erecting on the flank of Westminster Hall; but with very different success: these repetitions of a schem e which can only be defended at the corner of a narrow street, are viewed with contempt by the public : the Bank Directors, or many of them, must surely contemn the building, though perhaps they
cannot choose but to tolerate it; and we may venture to predict, that Sir Charles Long will leave all the honour of the Westminster pile to Mr. Soane. The architect may “turn” buildings into whatever forms he thinks proper; but we cannot forgive his attempts to “turn” Architecture into ridicule.
CHARILA, according to Plutarch, was a festival observed once in nine years by the Delphians. It owed its origin to this circumstance:-In a great famine the people of Delphi assembled, and applied to their king to relieve their wants. "He accordingly distributed the little corn he had among the noblest ; but as a poor little girl, called Charila, solicited the king with more than common earnestness, he beat her with his shoe, and the girl, unable to bear his treatment, hanged herself with her girdle, The famine increased, and the oracle told the king, that to relieve his people, he must atone for the murder of Charila. Upon this, a festival was instituted, with expiatory rites. The king presided over this institution, and distributed pulse and corn to such as attended. Charila's image was brought before the king, who struck it with his shoe; after which, it was carried to a desolate place, where they put a halter round its neck, and buried it where Charila was buried.—Plut. in Quest. Græc.
“ Semina, floresque, et succos incoquit acres ;
Addit et exceptas lupá pernocte pruinas,
Ora caputque novem cornicis sæcula passæ.”-Ov. Met. In the summer of 1823, I was residing for a few days at a solitary inn, amongst the hills of
One afternoon I had planned an excursion to a neighbouring cave, but was prevented from going there by a heavy rain which had fallen during the whole of the day. I had no friends in the neighbourhood, and could not have procured at my inn any work worth the perusal. The library of my landlord was small, and the collection not remarkable for being well chosen; it consisted of Pamela, Baron Munchausen, Fox's Martyrs, the Pilgrim's Progress, and a few other publications of an equally edifying description. I should have been at a loss how to have spent the tedious hours had I not had a companion. He was a stout, elderly man, a perfect stranger to me, and by his conversation shewed himself possessed of a very considerable share of erudition; his language was correct, his remarks strong and forcible, and delivered in a manner energetic and pointed. While we were engaged in conversation, our ears were stunned by a number of village lads shouting and hallooing at the door of the inn. On inquiring of the landlord into the cause of this disturbance, we were informed, that a poor woman, who was reputed to be a witch, had taken shelter at his house from the inclemency of the storm, and that some idle boys, on seeing her enter the house, had behaved in the rude manner already mentioned.
The landlord having left the room, I said to my companion, “ So you have witches in Sir, or at least those who pretend to be such. I thought that race of ignorant impostors had been long extinct, but am sorry to find the case is otherwise.”
The stranger looked at me, and said, “ Do you then disbelieve the existence of witchcraft ?"
“ Most assuredly,” I replied.
" Then I suppose,” he added, “ you also disbelieve revelation, and consider the events recorded in the sacred Scriptures, to be the mere inventions of priestcraft.”
I answered, “ Sir, I acknowledge the sacred Scriptures to contain the most important truths, and credit every event recorded in them.”
" Then you must confess that witchcraft did exist."
“ I do, but think not its existing in a former age to be any evidence of its being permitted in the present. In the days of the prophets, giants were on the earth,—are there any now? miracles were performed, mis that the case in the present age
grant what you say respecting giants and miracles, but cannot by any means bring my opinions on the subject of witchcraft to coincide
yours. Many learned works have been written to prove the existence of it in the present age; you will perceive I am alluding to the treatises of Glanvil and Sinclair."
* Yes, do not Hohenlohe and Evans work miracles ?.--Printer's devil. W.L. M. vol. 1, NO. V.
“ True; and learned men have sometimes committed foolish actions, and certainly Glanvil and Sinclair, great as their talents undoubtedly were, shewed no great wisdom in publishing their ridiculous effusions, which are nothing more than the overflowings of heated imaginations."
My companion seeing I was not to be convinced by any arguments he could advance, and that, like the adder in Holy Writ, I was “ deaf to the voice of the charmer, charm he ever so wisely,” thus addressed me;" I was like you, sceptical on the subject of our present discourse, but the doubts I once entertained have long since vanished, and if you can attend patiently to a history I will relate, I think you will be convinced that witchcraft does exist, or at least has existed in very modern times.
“In the year 17-in a lonely gill, about a quarter of a mile distant from A stood a solitary cottage; a more wretched habitation the imagination cannot picture. It contained a single apartment, inhabited by an old woman called Bertha. Bertha was throughout counted a witch and practiser of the art that none may name.' at that time very young, and unmarried; and far from having any dread of her, would frequently talk to her, and was always glad when she called at my father's house. She was tall, thin, and haggard, her eyes were large, and sunk deep in their sockets, and the hoarse, masculine intonations of her voice were any thing but pleasing. The reason I took such delight in the company of Bertha was this--she was possessed of much historical knowledge, and related events which had occurred two or three centuries ago, in a manner so minute and particular, that many a time I have been induced to believe she had been a spectatress of what she was relating. Bertha was undoubtedly of great age, but what that age was no one ever knew. I have frequently interrogated her on the subject, but always received an evasive answer to my inquiries.
“ In the autumn, or rather in the latter end of the summer of 17—, I set out one evening to visit the cottage of Bertha. I had never beheld the interior, and led on by curiosity and mischief, I was determined to
Having arrived at the cottage, I knocked at the gate of it; "Come in,' said a voice which I knew was Bertha's. I entered, the old woman was seated on a three-legged stool, by a peat fire, surrounded by three black cats and an old sheep dog. Well, John,' she exclaimed, 'what brings you here? what can have induced you to pay a visit to old Bertha ? what is it you want? I answered, " Be not offended, I have never before this evening viewed the interior of your cottage, and wishing to behold it, I have made this visit; I also wished to see you perform some of your incantations. I pronounced the last word ironically; Bertha observed it, and said, “ Then you doubt my power, think me an impostor, and consider my incantations mere jugglery; you may think otherwise, but be seated, approach my humble hearth, and in less than half an hour you shall observe such an instance of my power as I have never hitherto allowed mortal to witness. I obeyed the witch, and approached the fire. I now gazed around me, and minutely viewed the apartment; to describe it would require the genius of a Lewis or a Crabbe. Three stools, an old deal table, a few pans, three pictures of Merlin, Nostradamus, and Michael Scott, a caldron, and a sack, with the contents of which I was unacquainted, formed the whole stock of Bertha. The witch having sat by me a few minutes, rose and said, Now for our incantations; behold me, but interrupt me not. She then with chalk drew a circle on the floor, and in the midst of it placed a