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light as air, as strong as iron - which all but den. Cloisters and chapter-house lie also to touched the clouds.
the south, and upon the other sides nothing It is interesting too to remember, that new is visible except the lawn itself, the magnifias Salisbury seems when compared with Stone- cent trees which circle at a distance, the low henge, the one can boast no earlier name than wall of the close, and over this the rows of the the other. The Druids may very well have canons' vine-wreathed homes. The chief apbuilt Stonehenge, but the barbarians whom proach is through a gate-way at the norththe Druids ruled must have camped before east angle of the close, whence a path leads the Romans on the hill of Sarum. Perhaps to the main door in the north side of the nave. from this same spot, indeed, went forth the Approaching thus, we see the whole church constructors of the undated temple and those standing free and see it at its very best. For, of the thirteenth-century church.
as so often in England, the west front not only does not contain the entrance, but is the
least beautiful part of the structure. III. ONE can well understand how attractive their new site must have seemed to the emigrating priests - low and level, warm and AS FATE had decreed that this should be the fertile, and close to the silver Avon's banks. only great English church to be built all at But its too-tempting unlikeness to their old once and to remain intact, it is fortunate that position brought them new discomforts. The it was begun not in a time of transition but in land lay so low as to be almost swampy, and the early years of a perfected style; and it is the river ran so close that in times of flood doubly fortunate that this style was one which it ran into the church — an even worse visitor only England practiced. Her earlier Norman than the wind of the hill-city, as it could en- and her later full-blown Gothic (or Decorated force the discontinuance of services for days to- style) she practiced in common with the rest gether. Even until comparatively recent years of northern Europe. But the intermediate local grumblers called the close the sink of Lancet-Pointed and the still later Perpendicuthe city and the palace the sink of the close. lar were of her own creation. Lancet. Pointed But no hint of such discomforts appears to the features, as has been already told, were used eye. The close is simply one of the greenest, elsewhere, but were nowhere else developed freshest, and sweetest of earthly spots; and into a homogeneous scheme of construction outside of fairy-land there can be nothing and decoration, and so long used as to come lovelier than the palace and its gardens, ex- to full perfection. When the corner-stone of cept the incomparably fairy-like garden and the choir of Salisbury was laid, the style had palace at Wells. If Durham seems the petri- just thrown off the last trace of Norman fied portrait and interpretation of the Church thought. When the west front was finished, it Militant, Salisbury is the very type and pic- was just beginning to develop certain ornature of the Church of the Prince of Peace. mental motives which became characteristic Nowhere else does a work of Christian archi- of the Decorated period. If the church had tecture so express purity and repose and the been built with the express wish to show what beauty of holiness, while the green pastures the Lancet-Pointed style meant in its purest which surround it might well be those of which essence, what it could achieve without help the Psalmist wrote. When the sun shines on from any other, its witness could not be plainer the pale gray stones and the level grass and or more precise. the silent trees, and throws the long shadow Its plan is the ideal plan of a great Engof the spire across them, it is as though a choir lish church, free alike from Norman and from of seraphs sang in benediction of that peace contemporary foreign influence. The immense of God which passeth understanding. The length of the nave and choir (480 feet) and men who built and planted here were sick of their comparative narrowness; the double the temples of Baalim, tired of being cribbed pair of transepts, each with its single aisle ; and cabined, weary of quarrelsome winds and the great north porch; the square endings of voices. They wanted space and sun and still all the six limbs and even of the apse (if so it ness, comfort and rest and beauty, and the may be called) which projects to the eastquiet ownership of their own; and no men ward — all these are thoroughly English featever more perfectly expressed, for future times ures. When we look at the exterior we find it to read, the ideal which they had in mind. also typically English, by reason not only of
The cathedral stands upon a great, unbroken, the squareness of all its parts and the shape absolutely level lawn which sweeps around it to and finish of all its openings, but of the lowwest and north and east, while close beyond it ness of its roofs as well. It is this lowness to the south rise the trees of the episcopal gar- which gives to central tower and spire their
unmatched effectiveness. Tall though the sense, the loftiest ascending lines. In fact, no spire of Salisbury is, two or three others exist better church than Salisbury could be imagwhich are still taller. Amiens, for example, ined as a preparation for one of the tallest stands 22 feet above it. But at Amiens the spires in the world. Its successive portions so roof-ridge is 208 feet from the ground, while build themselves up from east to west in at Salisbury it is only 81. I need not speak gradually increasing height that it has a graceagain of the vast increase in interior majesty ful dignity, a buoyancy, a lifting, bearing, which the high French ceiling gives. But out- aspiring effect which we feel would be inside, I may repeat, the advantage is the other complete did a less aërial pinnacle surmount way. The body of the church is more beauti- the whole. ful if less imposing, and tower and spire are This is the great beauty of Salisbury, the thrown into incomparable relief. Yet even at composition of its mighty body as a whole. Salisbury they do not seem too high for the So finely proportioned and arranged are its supporting structure. They do not dwarf the square masses of different heights and sizes, so church while so imperially asserting them- splendid are the broad effects of light and selves. The vast length of an English church shadow they produce, so appropriate is the and the wide spread of its transepts compen- slant of the roof lines, and so wisely placed sate as evidence of strength for the lowness of and gracefully shaped are the simple winits walls, and amply sustain, to the æsthetic dows, that for once we can give no thought
NORTH-EAST GATEWAY TO THE CLOSE
of regret either to the circling apses of Conti- figure-sculpture. But Salisbury is both grand
“divinely tall and most divinely fair.” But
when it is absent we depreciate strict architectand even the arcaded cornices are not elabo- ural beauty. It is strict architectural beauty rate. Except upon the western front there is that we find at Salisbury. If we think it feeble it nothing which properly can be called sculpt- will be because we cannot see strength when it ured decoration. The whole effect is in the has been brought to perfect poise and ease. If strictest sense architectural. Few large build- our verdict is banal, it will be because we canings teach so clearly the great lesson that not tell the commonplace from the simply and beauty in a building depends first of all upon exactly right, or do not know how rare the latcomposition, not decoration; upon masses, not ter is — because we long for eccentricity as a details; upon the use and the shaping, not the proof of personality, and need what the French ornamentation of features: and very few show call emphase to impress us. There is no overhalf so plainly that medieval architects could emphasis about Salisbury — neither in its efrealize this fact. Gothic ideals so commonly fect as a whole nor in any of its parts, neither reveal themselves through forms which are in its design nor in its treatment. But just in strikingly varied, or very complicated, or lav- this fact lies its greatest merit; and just by ishly adorned, or all these things at once, that reason of this fact joined to its mighty size we are too apt to think them identical with and its exceptional unity, it is intensely indisuch qualities. We are too apt to think that vidual, personal,distinct from all other churches Gothic art cannot be individual without being in the world. Here, for once, we find one eccentric, or interesting without being heter- phase of the medieval ideal of a great Chrisogeneous, or grand without being grandiose tian church perfectly expressed by constructive or half-barbaric, or lovely without the riotous forms alone, and find that it has extraordinary charms of lace-like carving and ubiquitous majesty, yet a still greater degree of loveliness.
Is there nothing better to do than to turn away Gothic kinds, and that in its kind it stands unwith the verdict: Perfect, but too perfect; sim- surpassed, unrivaled, unapproached. If we put ple, but too easily understood; grand, but not ornamentation out of the balance and judge grandiose enough ; entirely lovely, which is a for constructive beauty alone, it is one of the fault; exquisitely complete, but therefore un- two or three great churches of the world — exciting?
partly because of its singular completeness, but It is not a new idea of my own that if a largely for more intrinsic reasons. classic Greek could come back to life he might like Salisbury better than any other
V. medieval building. But it came to me as a new idea when I first saw the church, and the It is well to say at once, however, that in fact is perhaps worth citing as a line of thus estimating the merits of Salisbury I have
evidence in a significant direction. If this left its west front out of mind. This front is, building would seem exceptionally perfect and indeed, one of the best of its kind, but its kind lucid to the eye of a Greek, if we should is indisputably bad. choose it as the first to show him when ex- The west façades of England offer a curious plaining what medieval builders understood subject for study. Norman builders loved by a temple of their faith,— if this is true or dominant central towers and English builders can by any colorable license be construed as always persisted in this love. Across the Chantruth, is not Salisbury magnificently praised ? nel it was soon suppressed by a desire for lofty Meat that is fit for the gods must be good, ceilings, and the west front profited by the though to our jaded appetites there may change. Its towers became of chief imporseem little spice in the dish.
tance, and their combination with the princiI do not wish to be understood as saying pal door-ways and with the great height of that Salisbury is the most beautiful church in wall-curtain, which was justified by the high the world or in England, or even as saying that nave-walls behind, resulted in designs of exso it seems to me. Moods change, and with traordinary force and splendor - in designs them estimates of perfection. Architectural which, as elevations, are by far the finest beauty is of many kinds, and even within the works of medieval genius. In England, where limits of the Pointed styles we may judge for the western towers remained subordinate to different virtues with differing priorities as the the central, and where the body of the church result. All I mean is that Salisbury's kind of was low and narrow, no such magnificence of beauty is the most purely lovely among front was logically possible. But great beauty