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n^^- J 




1 



' ,'d^ ON 

THE NATUEE OF GOTHIC AECHITEGTUBE : 



AVO HSBBi:Er OV TEB 



TRUE FUNCTIONS 



THE WORKMAN IN ART. 



/- 



JOHN RUSKIN, ESq?f A.M. 



Beinff the greaier part qf the SiaOh Chapter qf the Second Volume qf 
Mb. RusBiir's ^Stouea of Venice" (3 vol$.y royo^' Sco, £6 15».6rf. . 
SmthtMder^^ Co.) here reprinted hy th^fi0i0fPfKflSll^^t^^^ 
of the Author and hie "^ " 




londont 

SMITH, ELDEB, & CO., 65, COENHILL. 

1854. 
Pi-icc Fov/rpence. 



ON 

THE NATUEE OF GOTHIC ABCHITECTUEE : 

Am) HEREIN OF THE 

TRUE FUNCTIONS OF THE WORKMAN 
IN ART. 



I SHALL endeaYOur to ^ve the reader in this chapter an idea, at once 
broad and definite, of the true nature of Gothic architecture, properly so 
called ; not of that of Venice only, but of uniyersal Qothic : for it will be 
one of the most interesting parts of our subsequent inquiry, to find out how 
far Venetian architecture reached the universal or perfect type of Gothic, 
and how far it either fell short of it, or assumed foreign and independent 
forms. » 

The principal difficulty in doing this arises from the fact that every 
building of the GK)thic period differs in some important respect from every 
other ; and many include features which, if they occurred in other buildings, 
would, not be considered Gothic at all ; so that all we have to reason upon 
is merely, if I may be allowed so to express it, a greater or less degree of 
Gothicness in each building we examine. And it is this Gothicness, — ^the 
character which, according as it is found more or less in a building, makes 
it more or less Gothic, — of which I want to define the nature ; and I feel 
the same kind of difficulty in doing so which would be encountered by any 
one who undertook to explain, for instance, the nature of Bedness, without 
any actually red thing to point to, but only orange and purple things. 
Suppose he had only a piece of heather and a dead oi^-leaf to do it with. 
He might say, the colour which is mixed with the yellow in this oak-lea^ 
and with the blue in this heather, would be red, if you had it separate ; 
but it would be difficult, nevertheless, to make the abstraction perfectly in- 
telligible : and it is so in a far greater degree to make the abstraction of 
the Gothic character intelligible, because that character itself is made up 
of many mingled ideas, and can consist only in their union. That is to 
say, pointed arches do not constitute Gothic, nor vaulted roofs, nor flying 
buttresses, nor grotesque sculptures ; but all or some of these things, and 
many other things with them, when they come together so as to have life. 

Observe also, that, in the definition proposed, I shall only endeavour to 
analyze the idea which I suppose already to exist in the reader's mind. 
"We all have some notion, most of us a very determined one, of the meaning 
of the term Gothic ; but I know that many persons have this idea in their 
minds without being able to define it : that is to say, understanding 
generally that Westminster Abbey is Gothic, and St. Paul's is not, that 
Strasburg Cathedral is Gothic, and St. Peter's is not, they have, neverthe- 
less, no clear notion of what it is that they recognize in the one or miss in 



027 THB NATtrSE 07 GOTHIC ABCHITECTTJBE. S 

the other, such as would exiable them to say how £ix the work at West- 
minster or Straflburg is good and pnre of its kind ; still less to say of any 
nondescript building, like St. James's Palaoe or Windsor Castle, how much 
right GbtJiic element there is in it, and how much wanting. And I believe 
this inquiry to be a pleasant and profitable one ; and that there will be 
found something more than usually interesting in tracing out this grey, 
shadowy, many-pinnacled image of the Gothic spirit within us ; and dis- 
cerning what fellowship there is between it and our Northern hearts. And 
if, at any point of the inquiry, I should interfere with any of the reader's 
previously formed conceptions, and use the term Gothic in any sense which 
he would not willingly attach to it, I do not ask him to accept, but only to 
examine and understand, my interpretation, as necessary to the intelligi- 
Inlity of what follows in the rest of the work. 

We have, then, the Gothic character submitted to our analysis, just as 
^e rough mineral is submitted to that of the chemist, entangled with many 
other foreign substances, itself perhaps in no place pure, or ever to be 
obtained or seen in purity for more than an instant ; but nevertheless a 
thing of definite and separate nature, however inextricable or confused in 
appearance. Now observe : the chemist defines his mineral by two separate 
kinds of character ; one external, its crystalline form, hardness, lustre, &c. ; 
the other internal, the proportions and nature of its constituent atoms. 
Exactly in the same manner, we shall find that Gothic architectui*e has 
external forms, and internal elements. Its elements are certain mental 
tendencies of the builders, legibly expressed in it ; as fancifulness, love of 
variety, love of richness, and such others. Its external forms are pointed 
arches, vaulted roofs, &c. And unless both the elements and the forms 
are there, we have no right to call the style Gothic. It is not enough that it 
has the Form, if it have not also the power and life. It is not enough that 
it has the Power, if it have not the form. We must therefore inquire into 
each of these characters successively ; and determine .first, what is the 
Mental Expression, and secondly, what the Material Form, of Gbthic archi- 
tecture, properly so called. 

^ 1st. Mental Power or Expression. What characters, we have to discover, 
did the Gothic builders love, or instinctively express in their work, as dis- 
tinguished from all other builders ? 

Let us go. back for a moment to our chemistry, and note that, in defining 
a mineral by its constituent parts, it is not one nor another of them, that 
can make up the mineral, but the union of all : for instance, it is neither 
in charcoal, nor in oxygen, nor in lime, that there is the making of chalk, 
but in the combination of all three in certain measures ; they are all found 
in very different things from chalk, and there is nothing like chalk either 
in charcoal or in oxygen, but they are, nevertheless, necessary to its existence. 

So in the various mental characters which make up the soul of Gothic. 
It is not one or another that produces it ; but their union in certain 
measures. Each one of them is found in many other architectures besides 
Gothic ; but Gothic cannot exist where they are not found, or, at least, 
where their place is not in some way supplied. Only there is this great 
diflference between the composition of the mineral, and of the architectl^•al 
style, that if we withdraw one of its elements from the stone, its form is 
utterly changed, and its existence as such and such a mineral is destroyed; 
but if we withdraw one of its mental elements from the Gothic style, it is 
only a little less Gothic than it was before, and thje union of two or three 



4 ON THE NATURE OF GOTHIC ARCHITECTUEE. 

of its elements is enough already to besto-vr a certain Gothicness of character^ 
vhicli gains in intensity as we add the others, and loses as we again with- 
draw them. 

I belieroi then, that the characteristic or moral elements of Gtothic are^ 
the following, placed in the order of their importance ? 

1. Savageness. 

2. Changefulness. 
8. Naturalism. 

4. Grotesqueness. 

5. Eigidity. 

6. Bedundance. 

These characters are here expressed as belonging to the building ; as 
belonging to the builder, they would be expressed thus : — 1. Savageness, 
or Rudeness. 2. liove of Change. 3. Love of Nature. 4. Disturbed 
Imagination. 5. Obstinacy. 6. Generosity. And I repeat, that the 
withdrawal of any one, or any two, will not at once destroy the Gothic 
character of a building, but the removal of a majority of them will. I shall 
proceed to examine them in their order. 

1. Savageness. I am not sure when the word "Gtothic" was first 
generically applied to the architecture of the North ; but I presume that, 
whatever the date of its original usage, it was intended to imply reproach, 
and express the barbaric character of the nations among whom that archi- 
tecture arose. It never implied that they were literally of Gothic lineage, 
far less that their architecture had been originally invented by the Goths 
themselves ; but it did imply that they and their buildings together exhi- 
bited a degree of sternness and rudeness, which, in contradistinction to the 
character of Southern and Eastern nations, appeared like a perpetual re- 
fection of the contrast between the Goth and the Roman in their first en- 
counter. And when that fallen Roman, in the utmost impotence of his 
luxury, and insolence of his guilt, became the model for the imitation of 
civilized Europe, at the close of the so-called Dark ages, the word Gothic 
became a term of unmitigated contempt, not unmixed with aversion. From 
that contempt, by the exertion of the antiquaries and architects of this 
century, Gothic architecture has been sufficiently vindicated ; and perhaps 
some among us, in our admiration of the magnificent science of its struc- 
ture, and sacredness of its expression, might desire that the term of 
ancient reproach should be withdrawn, and some other, of more apparent 
honourableness adopted in its place. There is no chance, as there is no- 
need, of such a substitution. As far as the epithet was used scornfully, it 
was used falsely ; but there is no reproach in the word, rightly under- 
stood ; on the contrary, there is a profound truth, which the instinct of 
mankind almost unconsciously recognizes. It is true, greatly and deeply 
true, that the architecture of the North is rude and wild ; but it is not 
true, that, for this reason, we are to condemn it, or despise. Far other- 
wise: I believe it is in this very character that it deserves our pro- 
foundest reverence. 

The charts of the world which have been drawn up by modem science 
have thrown into a narrow space the expression of a vast amount of know- 
ledge, but I have never yet seen any one pictorial enough to enable the 
spectator to imagine the kind of contrast in physical character which exists 
between Northern and Southern countries. We know the differences Id 



Oir THE NATUBE OF GOTHIC ABCHITECTUBE. 9 

4etail, but ve have not that broad glance and grasp vhicb would enable 
us to to feel them in their fulness. We know that gentians grow on the 
Alps, and olives on the Apennines ; but we do not enough conceiye for our- 
selves that variegated mosaic of the world's surface which a bird sees in its 
migration, that difference between the district of the gentian and of the 
•olive which the stork and the swallow see far off, as they lean upon the 
sirocco wind. Let us, for a moment, try to raise ourselves even above the 
level of their flighty and imagine the Mediterannean lying beneath us like 
an irreguhu: lake, and all its ancient promontories sleeping in the sun : 
here and there an angry spot of thunder, a grey stain of storm, moving 
upon the burning field ; and here and there a fixed wreath of white volcano 
smoke, surrounded by its circle of ashes ; but for the most part a great 
peacefulness of light, Syria and G-reece, Italy and Spain, laid like pieces 
of a golden pavement into the sea-blue, chased, as we stoop nearer to them, 
with bossy beaten work of mountain chains, and glowing softly with ter- 
raced gardens, and flowers heavy with frankincense, mixed among masses 
«f laurel, and orange, and plumy palm, that abate with their grey-green 
shadows the burning of the marble rocks, and of the ledges of porphyry 
sloping under lucent sand. Then let us pass farther towards the North, 
until we see the orient colours change gradually into a vast belt of rainy 
green, where the pastures of Switzerland, and poplar valleys of France, 
and dark forests of the Danube and Carpathians stretch from the mouths 
•of the Loire to those of the Volga, seen through clefts in grey swirls of 
rain-cloud and flaky veils of the mist of the brooks, spreacUng low along 
the pasture lands ; and then, farther north still, to see the earth heave 
into mighty masses of leaden rock and heathy moor, bordering with a 
broad waste of gloomy purple that belt of field and wood, and splintering 
into irregular and grisly islands amidst the northern seas, beaten by storm, 
■and chilled by ice-drift, and tormented by furious pulses of contending tide, 
until the roots of the last forests fail from among the hill ravines, and the 
hunger of the north wind bites their peaks into barrenness ; and, at last, 
the wall of ice, durable like iron, sets, deathlike, its white teeth against 
us out of the polar twilight. And, having once traversed in thought this 
gradation of the zoned iris of the earth in all its material vastness, let us 
go down nearer to it, and watch the parallel change in the belt of animid 
life : the multitudes of swift and brilliant creatures that glance in the air 
and sea, or tread the sands of the southern zone ; striped zebras and 
spotted leopards, glistening serpents, and birds arrayed in purple and 
scarlet. Let us contrast their delicacy and brilliancy of colour, and swift- 
ness of motion, with the frost-cramped strength, and shaggy covering, and 
dusky plumage of the northern tribes ; contrast the Arabian horse with 
the Shetiand, the tiger and leopard with the wolf and bear, the antelope 
with the elk, the bird of paradise with the osprey : and then, submissively 
acknowledgmg the great laws by which the earth and all that it bears are 
ruled throughout their being, let us not condemn, but rejoice in the expres- 
sion by man of his own rest in the statutes of the lands that gave him 
birth. Let us watch him with reverence as he sets side by side the burn- 
ing gems, and smooths with soft sculpture the jaspar pillars, that are to 
reflect a ceaseless sunshine, and rise into a cloudless sky : but not with less 
reverence let us stand by him, when, with rough strength and hurried 
stroke, he smites an uncouth animation out of the rocks which he has torn 
from among the moss of the moorland, and heaves into the darkened air 



6 OSr THt KATCfiE OF GOTHIC ASCHITECTUSS. 

the pile of iron bnttresB and nigged vail, instinct vith vork of an imagin- 
ation as wild and wayward as the northeni sea ; creations of ungainly 
shape and rigid limb, bnt fall of wolfish life ; fierce as the winds that beat^ 
and changeful as the clouds that shade them. 

There is, I repeat, no degradation, no reproach in this, bnt all dignity 
and honourableness : and we should err greviously in refusing either to re- 
cognise as an essential character of the existing architecture of the North, 
or to admit as a desirable character in that which it yet may be, this wild- 
ness of thought, and roughness of work ; this look of mountain brotherhood 
between the cathedral and the Alp ; this magnificence of sturdy power, 
put forth only the more energetically because the fine finger-touch was 
chilled away by the frosty wind, and the eye dimmed by the moor-mist, or 
blinded by the hail ; this outspeaking of the strong spirit of men who may 
not gather redundant fruitage from ^e earth, nor bask in dreamy benignity 
of sunshine, but must break the rock for bread, and cleave the forest for 
fire, and show, even in what they did for their delight, some of the hard 
habits of the arm and heart that grew on them as they swung the axe or 
pressed the plough. 

K, however, tibe savageness of Gkthic architecture, merely as an express 
sion of its origin among Northern nations, may be considered, in some sort, 
a noble character, it possesses a higher nobility still, when considered as 
an index, not of climate, but of religious principle. 

In the 18th and 14 th paragraphs of Chapter XXI. of the firat Tolnme 
of this work, it was noticed that the systems of architectural ornament^ 
properly so called, might be divided into three: — 1. Servile ornament, in 
which the execution or power of the inferior workman is entirely subjected 
to the intellect of the higher ; — 2. Constitutional ornament, in whidi the 
executive inferior power is, to a certain point, emancipated and inde- 
pendent, having a will of its own, yet confessing its inferiority, and ren- 
dering obedience to higher powers ; — ^and 3. Bevolutionary ornament, in 
which no executive inferiority is admitted at all. I must here explain the 
nature of these divisions at somewhat greater length. 

Of Servile ornament, the principal schools are the Greek, Ninevite, and 
Egyptian ; but their servility is of different kinds. The Greek master- 
workman was far advanced in knowledge and power above the Assyrian 
or Egyptian. Neither he nor those for whom he worked could endure the 
appearance of imperfection in anything ; and, therefore, what ornament 
he appointed to be done by those beneatih him, was composed of mere geo^ 
metrical forms, — balls, ridges, and perfectly symmetrical foliage, — ^which 
could be executed with absolute precision by line and rule, and were as 
perfect in their way, when completed, as his own figure sculpture. The 
Assyrian and Egyptian, on the contrary, less cognizant of accurate form in 
anything, were content to allow their figure sculpture to be executed by 
inferior workmen, but lowered the metJbod of its treatment to a standard 
which every workman could reach, and then trained him by discipline so 
rigid, that there was no chance of his falling beneath the standard ap- 
pointed. The Greek gave to the lower workman no subject which he could 
not perfectly execute. The Assyrian gave him subjecta which he could 
only execute imperfectly, but fixed a legal standard for his imperfection. 
The workman was, in both systems, a slave.* 

* The third kind of oraament, the BeiuuBsance, is that in which the inferior detail 
booomes principal, the executor of every minor portion being required to exhibit 



ON THE KATITEB OF GOTHIC ABCHITKCTUEB* 7 

But in the medueyfJ, or especially ChristiaD, system of ornament, this 
slavery is done away with altogether ; Christianity having recognized, in 
small things as wdl as great, the individual value of every soul. . But it 
not only recognizes its value ; it confesses its imperfection, in only bestow* 
ing dignity upon the acknowledgment of unwortfainess. That admission of 
lost power and Mien, nature, which the Greek or Ninevite felt to be in- 
tensely painful, and, as far as might be, altogether refused, the Christian 
makes daily and hourly, contemplating tiie fact of it without fear, as tending, 
in the end, to Ch)d's greater gloiy. Therefore, to every spirit which Chris- 
tlanity summons to her service, her exhortation is : Bo what you can, and 
eonfess frankly what you are unable to do ; neither let your effort be 
shortened for fear of failure, nor your confession sllenoed for fear of shame. 
And it is, perhaps, the principal admirableness of the Gothic schools of 
architecture, that they tiius receive the results of the labour of inferior 
minds ; and out of fragments fall of imperfection, and betraying that im- 
perfection in every touch, indulgently raise up a stately and unaccusable 
whole. 

^ But the modem English mind has this much in common with that of the 

Greek, that it intensely desires, in all things, the utmost completion or 
^ perfection compatible with their nature. This is a noble character in the 

^ abstract, but becomes ignoble when it causes us to forget the relative dig- 

^ Hities of that nature itself, and to prefer the perfectness of the lower nature 

to the imperfection of the higher ; not considering that as, judged by such 
^ a rule, all the brute animsJs would be preferable to man, because more 

^ perfect in their fonctions and kind, and yet are always held inferior to him, 

^ so also in the works of man, those which are more perfect in their kind are 

^ always yiferior to those which are, in their nature, liable to morefaidts and 

^ shortcomings. For the finer the nature, the more flaws it will show through 

^ the clearness of it ; and it is a law of this universe, that the best things 

^' shall be seldomest seen in their best form. The wild grass grows well and 

^ strongly, one year with another ; but the wheat is, according to the greater 

^ nobleness of its nature, liable to the bitterer blight. And l^erefore, while 

in all things that we see, or do, we are to desire perfection, and strive for 
^ it, we are nevertheless not to set the meaner thing, in its narrow aocom- 

piUshment, above the nobler thing, in its mighty progress ; not to esteem 
^ smooth minuteness above shatteiid majesty ; not to prefer mean victory to 

^ honourable defeat ; not to lower the level of our aim, that we may the more 

^ surely e^joy the complacency of success. But, above .all, in our dealings 

with the souls of other men, we are to take care how we check, by severe re- 
' quirement or narrow caution, efforts which might otherwise lead to a noble 

issue ; and, still more, how we withheld our admiration fmrn great excel- 
lencies, because they are mingled with rough &ults. Now, in the make 
and nature of every man, however rude or simple, whom we employ in 
manual labour, there are some powers for better liiings : some tardy imagi- 
nation, torpid capacity of emotion, tottering steps of thought, there are, 
even at the worst ; and in most cases it is all our own fault that they are 
tardy or torpid. But they cannot be strengthened, unless we are content to 
take them in their feebleness, and imless we prize and honour them in their 

skill and possess knowledge as great as that which is possessed by the master of the 
desi^ ; and in the endeavour to endow him with this skill and knowledge, his own 
origmal power is overwhelmed, and the whole building becomes a wearisome exhibi- 
tion of well-educated imbecility. We most fully inquire into the nature of this form 
of error, when we arrive at the examination of the Benaissance schools. 



8 OK THE NATUBE OF GOTHIC ABCHITECTUBB. 

imperfection above the best and most perfect manual skill. And this is 
what we have to do with all our labourers ; to look for the ihfmghtfvl part 
of them, and get that out of them, whateyer we lose for it, whateyer faults 
and errors we are obliged to take with it. For the best that is in them 
cannot manifest itself, but in company with much error. Understand this 
clearly : . Tou can teach a man to dnw a straight line, and to cut one ; to 
strike a curyed line, and to canre it ; and to copy and carve any number of 
given lines or forms, with admirable speed and perfect precision ; and yoa 
find his work perfect of its kind : but if you ask him to think about any of 
those forms, to consider if he cannot find any better in his own head, he 
stops ; his execution becomes hesitating ; he thinks, and ten to one h» 
thinks wrong ; ten to one he makes a mistake in the first touch he gives to 
his work as a thinking being. But you have made a man of him for all 
that. He was only a machine before, an animated tool. 

And observe, you are put to stem choice in this matter. Tou must 
either make a tool of the creature, or a man of him. Tou cannot make 
both. Men were not intended to work with the accuracy of tools, to be 
precise and perfect in all their actions. If you will have that precision out 
of them, and make their fingers measure degrees like cog-wheels, and their 
aims strike curves like compasses, you must unhumanize them. All the 
energy of their spirits must be given to make cogs and compasses of them- 
selves. All their attention and strength must go to the accomplishment of 
the mean act. The eye of the soul must be bent upon the finger-point, and 
the soul's force must fill all the invisible nerves that guide it, ten hours a 
day, that it may not err from its steely precision, and so soul and sight be 
worn away, and the whole human being be lost at last — a heap of sawdust, 
so far as its intellectual work in this world is concerned ; saved on^ by its 
Heart, which cannot go into the form of cogs and compasses, but expands, 
after the ten hours are over, into fireside humanity. On the other hand, 
if you will make a man of the working creature, you cannot make a tooL 
Let him but begin to imagine, to think, to try to do anything worth doing ; 
and the engine-turned precision is lost at once. Out come all his roughness, 
all his dulness, all his incapability; shame upon shame, failure upon 
failure, pause after pause : but out comes the whole majesty of him also ; 
and we know the height of it only, when we see the clouds settling upon 
him. And, whether the clouds be bright or dark, there will be transfigur- 
ation behind and within them. 

And now, reader, look round this English room of yours, about which 
you have been proud so often, because the work of it was so good and 
strong, and the ornaments of it so finished. Examine again all those accu- 
rate mouldings, and perfect polishings, and unerring adjustments of the 
seasoned wood and tempered steel. Many a time you have exulted over 
them, and thought how great England was, because her slightest work was 
done so thoroughly. Alas ! if read rightly, these perfectnesses are signs 
of a slavery in our England a thousand times more bitter and more degrading 
than that of the scourged African, or helot Greek. Men may be beaten, 
chained, tormented, yoked like cattle, slaughtered like summer flies, and 
yet remain in one sense, and the best sense, free. But to smother their 
souls within them, to blight and hew into rotting pollards the suckling 
branches of their human intelligence, to make the flesh and skin which, 
after the worm's work on it, is to see Gk>d, into leathern thongs to yoke 
machinery with, — ^this it is to be slavemasters indeed ; and there might be 



OXr THS KAIUBB OF QOTHIC ASCHITSCTUBX. 9 

mare freedom in Engbuid, though her feadal lords' lightest words were 
worth men's lives, and though ti^e blood of the yezed husbandman dropped 
in the farrows of her fields, than there is while the animation of her multi- 
tudes is sent like fael to feed the factory smoke, and the strength of them 
k given daily to he wasted into the fineness of a web, or racked into the 
eacactness of a line. 

And, on the other hand, go forth again to gaze upon the old cathedral 
front, where you haTe smiled so often at the fantastie ignorance of the old 
SGolptors : ftTamiTW onee more those ugly goblins, and formless m<8isters, 
and stem statues, anatomiless and rigid ; but do not moek at them, fSor 
they are signs of the life and liberty of every workman who struck thd 
stone ; a freedom of thought, and rank in scale of being, such as na lawsy 
no charters, no charities can secure ; but which it must be the first aim of 
all Europe at this day to regain for her children. 

Let me not be thouight to speak wildly or extravagantly. It is -veriJIy 
this degradation of the operative into a machine, whidi, more than any 
other evil of the times, is leading the mass of the nations everywhere into 
vain, inodierent, destructive strnggltng for a freedom of which they cannot 
explain the nature to themselveB. Their universal outcry against wealthy 
and against nobility, is not forced from them either by the pressnre of 
frunine, <a the sting of mortified pride. These do mudk, and have done 
much in all ages ; but the foundations of society were never yet shaken as. 
ihey are at tlds day. It is not that men are ill fed, but that thqr hare no 
pleasure in the work by wbitih. they make their bread, and therefore look 
to wealth aa the only means of pieasnre. It is not that men are pained by 
the scorn of the upper dasses, but they cannot endure their own ; for they 
fed that the kind of labour to which they are condenuied is verily a de* 
grading cme, and makes them less than men. Never had the upper dasses 
so mudi sympathy with the lower, or charity for them, as they have at 
this day, and yet never were they so much hated hy them : fixr, of old, the 
separation between the noble and the poor was merely a wall buih by law; 
now it is a verttaUe difiierence in level of standing, a predpice between 
upper and lower grounds id the field of humanity, and there is pestilential 
air at the bottom of it. I know not if a day is ever to come when the 
nature of right freedom will be undwstood, and when men will see that to 
obey anothtf man, to labour for him, yield revwence to him or to his 
place, is not slavery. It is often the best kind of libtfty, — ^liberty from 
care. The man who says to one, Gb, and he goeth, and to another, 
Come^ and he cometh, has, in most cases, more sense of restraint and diffi- 
culty than the man who obeys him. The movements of the one are hindered 
by the burden on his shoulder; of the other, by the bridle on his lips : 
there is no way by which the burden may be lightened ; but we need not 
waSer from the bridle if we do not champ at it. To yield reverence to 
another, to hold ourselves and our lives at his disposal is not slavery ; ofkea 
it is the noblest state in which a man can live in this world. There is, 
indeed, a reverence which is servile, that is to say irrational or selfish : but 
there is also noble reverence, that is to say, reasonable and loving ; and a 
man is never so noble as when he is reverent in this kind ; nay, even if the 
ledingpass the bounds of mere reason, so that it be loving, a man is nosed 
by it. Which had in reality most of the serf nature in him, — ^the Irish 
peasant who was lying in wait yesterday for his landlord, with his musket 
muzzle thrust through the ragged hedge; or that old mountain servant^ 

▲ 2 



10 ON THE NATUBE OF GOTHIC ABCHITECTUBE. 

who, 200 years ago, at Inyerkeithmg, gaye up his own life, and the liyes 
of his seven sons for his chief ?* — as each fell, calling forth his brother to 
the death, "Another for Hector!" And therefore, in all ages and all 
countries, reverence has been paid and sacrifice made by men to each other, 
not only without complaint, but rejoicingly; and famine, and peril, and 
sword, and all evil, and all shame, have been borne willingly in the causes 
of masters and kings; for. all these gifts of the heart ennobled the men 
who gave not less ^n the men who received them, and nature prompted, 
and 8od rewarded the sacrifice. But to feel their souls withering within 
them, nnthanked, to find their whole being sunk into an unrecognised 
abyss, to be counted off into a heap of mechanism, numbered with its 
wheels, and weighed with its hammer strokes ; — this nature bade not, — 
this Qod blesses not, — ^this humanity for no long time is able to endure. 

We have much studied and much perfected, of late, the great civilized 
invention of the division of labour; only we give it a fialse name. It is 
not, truly speaking, the labour that is divided ; but the men : — ^Divided 
into mere segments of men — ^broken into small fragments and crumbs of 
life ; so that all the little piece of intelligence that is left in a man is not 
enough to make a pin, or a naO, but exhausts itself in making the point of 
a pin, or the head of a nail. Now it is a good and desirable thing, truly, 
to make many pins in a day; but if we could only see with what crystal 
sand their points were polished, — sand of human soul, much to be magni- 
fied before it can be discerned for what it is, — we should think there might 
be some loss in it also. And the great cry that rises from all our manu- 
fietcturing cities, louder than their furnace blast, is all in very deed for this, 
— ^that we manufacture everything there except men ; we blanch cotton, 
and strengthen steel, and refine sugar, and shape pottery ; but to brighten, 
to strengthen, to refine, or to form a single living spirit, never enters into 
our estimate of advantages. And all the evil to which that cry is urging 
our myriads can be met only in one way : not by teaching nor preaching, 
for to teach them is but to show them tiieir misery, and to preach to them, 
if we do nothing more than preach, is to mock at it. It can be met only 
by a right understanding, on the part of all classes, of what kinds of labour 
are good for men, raising them, and making them happy ; by a determined 
sacrifice of such convenience, or beauty, or cheapness as is to be got only 
by the degradation of the workman ; and by equally determined demand 
for the products and results of healthy and ennobling labour. 

And how, it will be asked, are these products to be recognised, and this 
demand to be regulated? Easily: by l^e observance of three broad and 
simple rules : 

1. Never encourage the manufacture of any article not absolutely neces- 
sary, in the production of which Invention has no share. 
. 2. Never demand an exact finish for its own sake, but only for some 
practical or noble end. 

3. Never encourage imitation or copying of any kind, except for the sake 
of preserving record of great works. 

The second of these principles la the only one which directly rises out of 
the consideration of our immediate subject ; but I shall briefly explain the 
meaning and extent at the first also, reserving the enforcement of the third 
for another place. 

1. Never encourage the manufacture of anything not necessary, in the 
production of which invention has no share. 

• See the Preface to "The Fair Maid of Perth." 



ON THE NATURE OF GOTHIC ASCHITECTTTEE. 11 

For instance. Glass beads are ntterl j unnecessary, and there is no design 
or thought employed in their manufacture. They are formed by first 
drawing out the glass into rods ; these rods are chopped up into fragments 
of the size of beads by the human hand, and the fi:agments are then 
rounded in the furnace. The men who chop up the rods sit at their work 
all day, their hands vibrating with a perpetual and exquisitely timed 
palsy, and the beads dropping beneath their vibration like haU. Neither 
they, nor the men who draw out the rods or fuse the fragments, have the 
smallest occasion for the use of any single human feusulty : and every young 
lady, therefore, who buys glass beads is engaged in the slave-trade, and in a 
much more cruel one than that which we have so long been endeavouring 
to put down. 

But glass cups and vessels may become the subjects of exquisite invention ; 
and if in buying these we pay for the invention, that is to say for the 
beautiful form, or colour, or engraving, and not for mere finish of execution, 
we are doing good to humanity. 

So, again, ^e cutting of precious stones, in all ordinary cases, requires little 
exertion of any mental faculty ; some tact and judgment in avoiding flaws, and 
80 on, but nothing to bring out the whole mind. Every person who wears 
cut jewels merely for the sake of their value is, therefore, a slave-driver. 

But the working of the goldsmith, and the various designing of grouped 
jewellery and enamel- work, may become the subject of the most noble 
human intelligence. Therefore, money spent in the purchase of well- 
designed plate, of precious engraved vases, cameos, or enamels, does good 
to humanity; and, in work of this kind, jewels may be employed to 
heighten its splendour ; and their cutting is then a price paid for tlie attain- 
ment of a noble end, and thus perfectly allowable. 

I shall perhaps press this law farther elsewhere, but our immediate con- 
cern is chiefly with the second, namely, never to demand an exact finish, 
when it does not lead to a noble end. For observe, I have only dwelt upon 
the rudeness of Gothic, or any other kind of imperfectness, as admirable, 
where it was impossible to get design or thought without it. If you are to 
have the thought of a rough and untaught man, you must have it in a 
rough and untaught way; but from an educated man, who can without 
effort express his thoughts in an educated way, take tiie graceful expres- 
sion, and be thankful. Only get the thought, and do not silence the 
peasant because he cannot speak good grammar, or until you have taught 
him his grammar. Grammar and refinement are good things, both, only 
be sure of the better thing first. And thus in art, delicate finish is de- 
sirable from the greatest masters, and is always given by them. In some 
places Michael Angelo, Leonardo, Phidias, Perugino, Turner, all finished 
with the most exquisite care ; and the finish they give always leads to the 
fuller accomplishment of their noble purposes. But lower men than these 
cannot finish, for it requires consummate knowledge to finish consum- 
mately, and then we must take their thoughts as they are able to give 
them. So the rule is simple : Always look for invention first, and £^r 
that, for such execution as will help the invention, and as the inventor is 
capable of without painfal effort, and iw more. Above all, demand no 
refinement of execution where there is no thought, for that is slaves* 
work, imredeemed. Rather choose rough work than smooth work, so only 
that the practical purpose be answered, and never imagine there is reason to 
be proud of anything that may be accomplished by patience and sand-paper. 



12 ON THE NATUBE OF GOTHIC ABCHITECTUBE. 

I sli&II only gire one example, which howerer will show the reader what 
I mean, from the mannfacture already alluded to, that of glass. Gar 
modem glass is exqnisitely clear in its substance, true in its form, accurate 
in its cutting. We are proud of this. We ought to be ashamed of it< 
The old Venice glass was muddy, inaccurate in all its forms, and clumsily 
cut, if at all. And the old Yenetian was justly proud of it. For there is 
this difference between the English and Venetian wwkman, that the 
former thinks only of accurately matching his patterns, and getting his 
curves perfectly true and his edges perfectly sharp, and becomes a mere 
machine for rounding curves and i^arpening edges, while the old Venetian 
cared not a whit whether his edges were sharp or not, but he invented a new 
design for every glass that he made, and never moulded a handle or a lip 
without a new fancy in it. And therefore, though some Venetian glass is 
ugly and clumsy enough, when made by clumsy and uninventive workmen^ 
other Venetian glass is so lovely in its forms that no price is too great for 
it ; and we never see the same form in it twice. Now you cannot have the 
finish and the varied form too. If the workman is thinking about his 
edges, he cannot be thinking of his design ; if of his design, he cannot 
think of his edges. Choose whether you will pay for the lovely form or 
the perfect finish, and choose at the same moment whether you will make 
the worker a man or a grindstone. 

Nay, but the reader interrupts me, — ''If the workman can design 
beautifully, I would not have him kept at the furnace. Let him be taken 
away and made a gentleman, and have a studio> and design his gUsstho^ 
and I will have it blown and cut for him by common workmen, and so I 
will have my design and my finish too." 

All ideas of this kind are founded upon two mistaken suppositions : the 
first, that one man^s thoughts can be, or ought to be, executed by another 
man's hands ; the second, that manual labour is a degradation, when it is 
governed by intellect. 

On a large scale, and in work determinable by line and rule, it is 
indeed both possible and necessary that the thoughts of one man should be 
carried out by the labour of others; in this sense I have already defined 
the best architecture to be the expression of the mind of manhood by the 
hands of childhood. But on a smaller scale, and in a design which cannot 
be mathematically defined, one man's thoughts can never be expressed by 
another : and the differaice between the spirit of touch of the man who is 
inventing, and of the man who is obeying directions, is often all the differ- 
ence between a great and a c(»nmon work of art. How wide the separation 
is between original and second-hand execution, I shall endeavour to show 
elsewhere ; it is not so much to our purpose here as to mark the other and 
more fatal error of despising manual labour when governed by intellect ; 
for it is no less fiital an error to despise it when thus regulated by intellect, 
than to value it for its own sake. We are always in these days endea- 
vouring to separate the two ; we want one man to be always thinking, and 
another to be always working, and we call one a gentleman, and the other 
an operative ; whereas the workman ought often to be thinking, and the 
thinker often to be working, and both should be gentlemen, in the best 
sense. As it is, we make both ungentle, the one envying, the other 
despising, his brother; and the mass of society is made up of morbid 
thinkers, and miserable workers. Now it is only by labour that thought 
can be made healthy, and Mily by thought that labour can be made hai^y. 



OK TKB ITATVBB OF GOTHIC ASCHITECTUSB. 13 

and the two cannot be separated with impumty. It would be well if all of 
OS were good handicraftsmen in some kind, and the dishonoor of mannal 
labour done away with altogether ; so that though there should stUl be a 
trenchant distinction of race betwe^a nobles and commoners, there should 
not, among the latter, be a trenchant distinction of employment, as between 
idle and working men, or between men of liberal and illiberal professions. 
All professi<H9LS should be liberal, and there should be less pride felt in pecu- 
liarity of employment, and more in excellence of achieyemeut. And yet 
more, in each several profession, no master should be too proud to do its 
hardest work. The painter should grind his own colours ; the architect 
work in the mason's yard with his men ; the master-manufstcturer be 
himself a more skilful operative than any man in his mills; and the 
distinction between one man and another be only in experience and skill, 
sad the authority and wealth which these must naturally and justly 
obtain. 

I should be led far from the matter in hand, if I were to pursue this 
interesting subject. Enough, I trust, has been said to show the reader 
that the rudeness or imperfection which at first rendered the term 
'^Gothic'* one of reproach is indeed, when rightly understood, one of the 
most noble characters of Christian architecture, and not only a noble but 
an essential one. It seems a femtastic paradox, but it is nevertheless a 
most important truth, that no architecture can be truly noble which is not 
imperfect. And this is easily demonstrable. For since the architect^ 
whom we will suppose capable of doing all in perfection, cannot execute 
the whole with his own hands, he must either make skves of his workmen 
in the old Qreek, and present English fashion, and level his work to a 
filave's capacities, which is to degrade it; or else he must take his workmen 
as he finds them, and let them show their weaknesses together with their 
strength, which will involve the Gothic imperfection, but render the whole 
work as noble as the intellect of the age can make it. 

But the pnnciple may be stated more broadly stilL I have confined the 
illustration of it to arcMtecture, but I must not leave it as if true of artdii- 
tecture only. Hitherto I have used the words imperfect and perfect merely 
to distinguish between work grossly unskilful, and work executed with 
average precision and science ; and I have been pleading that any degree of 
unskilfulneas should be admitted, so only that the labourer's mind had 
joom for expression. But, accui-ately speaking, no good work whatever 
can be perfect^ and the demand for j^erfection is always a sign of a nUs- 
understanding of the ends of art. 

This for two reasons, both based on everlasting laws. The first, that no 
great man ever stops working till he has reached his point of failure : that 
is to say, his mind is always far in advance of his powers of execution, 
and the latter will now and then give way in trying to follow it ; besides 
that he will always give to the inferior portions of his work only such 
Inferior attention as they require; and according to his greatness he 
becomes so usaasbomed. to the feeling of dissatisfaction with the best he 
can do, that in moments of lassitude or anger with himself he will not care 
though the beholder be dissatisfied also. I believe there has only been one 
man who would not acknowledge this necessity, and strove always to reach 
perfection, Leonardo; the end of his vain effort being merely that he 
would take ten years to a picture, and leave it unfinished. And therefore, 
if we are to have great men working at all, or less men doing their best. 



14 ON THE NATUBE OF OOTHIC ASCHITBCTUBE. 

the work will be imperfect, however beantifiil. Of human work none but 
whftt is bad can be perfect, in its own bad way.* 

The second reason is, that imperfection is in some sort essential to all 
that we know of life. It is the sign of life in a mortal body, that is to say, 
of a state of progress and change. Nothing that lires is, or can be, 
rigidly perfect; part of it is decaying, part nascent. The foxglove 
blossom, — a third part bud, a third part past, a third part in full bloom, — 
is a type of the life of this world. And in all things that live there are certain 
irregnlarities and deficiencies which are not only signs of life, bnt sources 
of beauty. No human face is exactly the same in its lines on each side, 
no leaf perfect in its lobes, no branch in its symmetry. All admit irregu- 
larity as they imply change ; and to banish imperfection is to destroy ex- 
pression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality. All things are literally 
better, lovelier, and more beloved for the imperfections which have been 
divinely appointed, that the law of human life may be E£fort, and the law 
of human judgment, Mercy. 

Accept this then for an universal law, that neither architecture nor any 
other noble work of man can be good unless it be imperfect ; and let us 
be prepared for the otherwise strange fact, which we shall discern dearly 
as we approach the period of the Renaissance, that the first cause of the 
fall of the arts of Europe was a relentless requirement of perfection, in- 
capable alike either of being silenced by veneration for greatness, or 
softened into forgiveness of simplicity. 

Thus far then of the Budeness or Savageness, which is the first mental 
element of Gothic architecture. It is an element in many other healthy 
architectures also, as in Byzantine and Bomanesque; but true Gothic 
cannot exist without it. 

The second mental element above named was 0HANOEFin[.Nsss, or variety. 

I have already enforced the allowing independent operation to the inv 
ferior workman, simply as a duty to him, and as ennobling the architecture 
by rendering it more Christian. We have now to consider what reward we 
obtain for the performance of this duty, namely, the perpetual variety of 
every feature of the building. 

Wlierever the workmen is utterly enslaved, the parts of the building 
must of course be absolutely like each other ; for the perfection of his 
execution can only be reached by exercising Mm in doing one thing, and 
giving him nothing else to do. The degree in which the workman is de- 
graded may be thus known at a glance, by observing whether the several 
parts of the building are similar or not ; and if, as in Greek work, all the 
capitals are alike, and all the mouldings unvaried, then the degradation is 
complete; if, as an Egyptian or Ninevite work, though the manner of 
executing certain figures is always the same, the order of design is perpetu- 
ally varied, the de^iulation is less total ; if, as in Gothic work, there is 
perpetual change both in design and execution, the workman must have 
been altogether set free. 

How much the beholder gains firom the liberty of the labourer may 
perhaps be questioned in England, where one of the strongest instincts in 
nearly every mind is that Love of Order which makes us dmre that our 

• The Elgin marbles are supposed by many persons to be "perfect." In the most 
important portions they indeed approach perfection, but only there. The draperies 
are unflnisned, the hair and wool of the a-t^itn^ l ^ are unfinished, and the entire has- 
relieft of the firiese are roi^hly cut. 



OK THE KATUBE OF GOTHIC ABCHITECTTTBE. 15 

house windows should pair like our carriage horses, and allows us to yield 
our faiih. unhesitatingly to architectural theories which fix a form for every- 
thing, and forbid variation from it. I would not impeach love of order : it 
is one of the most useful elements of the English mind ; it helps us in our 
commerce and in all purely practical matters ; and it is in many cases one of 
the foundation stones of morality. Only do not let us suppose that lore of 
order is love of art. It is true that order, in its highest sense, is one of 
the necessities of art, just as time is a necessity of music ; but love of 
order has no more to do with our right enjoyment of ardiitecture of 
painting, than love of punctuality with the appreciation of an opera. 
Experience, I fear, teaches us that accurate and methodical habits in daily 
life are seldom chtiracteristic of those who either quickly perceive, or richly 
possess, the creative powers of art ; there is, however, nothing inconsistent 
between the two instincts, and nothing to hinder us from retaining our 
business habits, and yet folly allowing and enjoying the noblest gifts of 
Invention. We already do so, in every other branch of art except archi- 
tecture, and we only do not so there because we have been taught that it 
would be wrong. Our architects gravely inform us that, as there are four 
rules of arithmetic, there are five orders of architecture ; we, in our 
simplicity, think that this sounds consistent, and believe them. They in- 
form us also that there is one proper form for Corinthian capitals, another 
for Doric, and another for Ionic. We, considering that there is also a proper 
form for the letters A, B, and 0, think that this also sounds consistent, and 
■accept the proposition. Understanding, therefore, that one form of the 
said capitals is proper, and no other, and having a conscientious horror 
of all impropriety, we allow the architect to provide us with the said 
capitals, of the proper form, in such and such a quantity, and in all other 
points to take care that the legal forms are observed ; which having donOi 
we rest in forced confidence that we are well housed. 

But our higher instincts are not deceived. We take no pleasure in the 
building provided for us, resembling that which we take in a new book or 
a new picture. We may be proud of its size, complacent in its correct- 
ness, and happy in its convenience. We may take the same pleasure in its 
symmetry and workmanship as in a well-ordered room, or a skilful piece 
of manufacture. And this we suppose to be all the pleasure that archi- 
tecture was ever intended to give us. The idea of reading a building as 
we would read Milton or Dante, and getting the same kind of delight out 
of the stones as out of the stanzas, never enters our minds for a moment. 
And for good reason ; — There is indeed rhythm in the verses, quite as 
strict as the symmetries or rhythm of the architecture, and a thousand 
times more beautiful, but there is something else than rhythm. The 
verses were neither made to order, nor to match, as the capitals were ; 
and we have therefore a kind of pleasure in them other than a sense of 
propriety. But it requires a strong effort of common sense to shake our- 
selves quit of all that we have been taught for the last two centuries, and 
wake to the perception of a truth just as simple and certain as it is new : 
that great art, whether expressing itself in words, colours, or stones, does 
not say the same thing over and over again ; that the merit of arohi* 
tectural, as of every other art, consists in its saying new and different 
things; that to repeat itself is no more a characteristic of genius in 
marble than it is of genius in print ; and that we may, without offending 
any laws of good taste, require of an architect^ as we do of a novelist, that 
he should be not only correct, but entertuning. 



16 ON THE NATUBE OF GOTHIC AXCHITBCTUEE. 

Yet all this is tnie, and aelf-evident ; only hidden from ns, as maaj 
other self-eYident ihmgfi are, by fidse teaching. Nothing is a great work 
of art, for the production of which either rules or mod^ can be giren. 
Exactiy so far as ardiitectare works on known roles, and from giTen 
models, it is not on art, but a manufacture ; and it is, of the two pro- 
eedures, rather less rational (because more easy) to oopy capitals or mould- 
ings from Phidias, and call ourselves architects, than to copy heads and 
hands from Titian, and call ourselves painters. 

Let us then understand at <Hice, that change or Tariety is as much 
a necessity to the human heart and bndn in buildings as in books; thai 
there is no merit, thou^ there is some occasional use^ in monotony ; and 
tiiat we must no more expect to derire either pleasure or profit from an 
architecture whose ornaments are of one pattern, and whose pillars are of 
one proportion, than we should out of an unirerse in which the clouds were 
all c^ one shape, and the trees all of one size. 

An<1 this we confess in deeds, though not in words. All the pleasnre 
which the peo^de of the nineteenUi oentuiy take in ait, is in picturee, 
sculpture, minor objects of Tirtil, or mediaeval architecture, which we 
ei\joy under the term pictoresque : no * pleasure is taken anywhere in 
modem buildings, and we find all men of true feeling delighting to escape 
out of modem cities into natural scenery : hence, as I shall hereafter show, 
that peculiar love of landscape which is characteristic of the age. It would 
be well, if, in all otha: mattos, we were as ready to put up with what we 
dislike, for the sake of compliance with established law, as we are ha 
architecture. 

How so debased a law ever came to be established, we shall see when 
we come to describe the Eenaissance schools : here we have only to note^ 
as the second most essential elem^it of the Gothic spirit, that it broke 
through that law wherever it found it in existence ; it not <mly dared, but 
delighted in, the infringement <^ every servile principle; and invented 
a series of forms of which t&e merit was, not merely that they were new^ 
but that they were capable of perpetual novelty. The pointed arch wa« 
not merely a bold variation from the round, but it admitted of miUicmsof 
TaiiationB in itself; for the propoxiiaixB of a pointed arch are (^angeab]« 
to infinity, while a circular arch is always the same. The grouped shaft 
was not merely a bold variation from the single one, but it admitted of 
minioBB of variations in its grouping, and in the xMroportions resultant from 
its grouping. The introduction of tracery was not only a startling change 
in ike treatment of window lights, but admitted endless chaiages in the 
interlacement of the tracery bars themselves. So that, while in all living 
Cairistian architecture the love of variety exists, the Oothic schook 
exhibited that love in culminating energy ; and their influence, wheacevtr 
it extended itself may be sooner and farther traced by this chaiacta: thaa 
by any other ; the tendency to the adoption of Gk>thic t^rpes being always 
first eJiowu by greater irregularity and rich^ variation in the forms of the 
architecture it ia about to supersede, long before the appearance of the 
pointed arch or of any other recognisable ovtward sign of the Gothic mind. 

We must, however, herein note carefully what distiacticm there ia 
between a healthy and a diseased love of change ; for as it was in healthy 
love of change that the Gothic architecture rose, it was partly in consequence 
of diseased love of change that it was destroyed. In order to understand 
this clearly, it will be secessary to consider the different ways in which 



OK THE NATTTBB OV GOTHIC ABCHITECT1TSB. IT 

diADge and monotony are presented to us in nature ; both haying their nse, 
like darkness and light, and the one incaxuible of being enjoyed without the 
other : change being most delightful after some prolongation of monotony, 
as light appears most brilliant aiter the eyes haye been for some time closed. 

I believe that the tme relations of monotony and change may be most 
amply understood by observing them in music. We may therein notice, 
first, that there is a sublimity and majesty in monotony which there is not 
in rapid or frequent variation. This is true throughout all nature. The 
greater part of the sublimity of the sea depends on its monotony ; so also 
that of desolate moor and mountain scenery ; and especially the sublimity 
of motion, as in the quiet, unchanged fall and rise of an engine beam. So 
also there is sublimity in darkness which there is not in light. 

Again, monotony after a certain time, or beyond a certain degree, 
becomes either uninteresting or intolerable, and the musician is obliged to 
break it in one of two ways : either while tiie air or passage is perpetually 
repeated, its notes are variously enriched and harmonized ; or else, after 
a certain number of repeated passages, an entirely new passage is intro- 
duced, which is more or less delightful according to the length of the 
previous monotony. Nature, of course, uses both these kinds of variation 
perpetually. The sea-waves, resembling each other in general mass, but 
none like its brother in minor divisions and curves, are a monotony of the 
first kind ; the great plain, broken by an emergent rock or clnmp of trees, 
is a monotony of the second. 

Farther : in order to the enjoyment of the change in either case, a certain 
degree of patien9e is required from the hearer or observer. In the first 
ease, he mnst be satisfied to endure with patience the recurrence of the 
great masses of sound or form, and to seek for entertainment in a careful 
watchfulness of the minor details. In the second case, he must bear 
patiently the.infliction of the monotony for some moments, in order to feel 
the full refreshment of the change. This is true even of the shortest 
musical passage in which the element of monotony is employed. In cases 
of more majestic monotony, the patience required is so considerable that it 
becomes a kind of pain, — a price paid for the future pleasure. 

Again : the talent of the composer is not in the monotony, but in the 
changes : he may show feeling and taste by his use of monotony in certain 
places or degrees ; that is to say, by his variom employment of it ; but it 
is always in the new arrangement or invention that his intellect is shown, 
and not in the monotony which relieves it. 

Lastly : if the pleasure of change be too often repeated, it ceases to be 
delightfiil, for then change itself becomes monotonous, and we are driven 
to seek delight in extreme and fimtastic degrees of it. This is the diseased 
love of change of which we have above spoken. 

From these facts we may gather generally that monotony is, and ought 
to be, in itself painful to us, just as .darkness is ; that an architecture 
which is altogether monotonous is a dark or dead architecture; and, of 
those who love it, it may be truly said, **they love darkness rather than 
light." But monotony in certain measure, used^ in order to give value to 
cbange, and, above all, that trangparent monatonj which, like the shadows 
of a great painter, suffers all manner of dimly suggested form to be seen 
through the body of it, is an essential in architectural as in all other com" 
position ; and the endurance of monotony has about the same place in a 
healthy mind that the endurance of darkness has : that is to say, as a strong 

▲ 3 



IS OV THX NATUBB OF GOTHIC ABCSITSCTVBX. 

intelleGi will have pleasure in, the Bolenmitiei of storm and twilight, and in 
tite- broken and myBterions. lights that gleam among them, rather than in 
mere brilliancy, and glare, while a finvolons mind will dread the shadow 
and the storm ; and as a great man will be ready to endure much darkness 
of fortune in order to reach greater eminence of power or felicity, while an 
infSerior man will not pay the price ; exactly in like manner a great mind 
will accept, or even delight in, monotony which would be wearisome to an 
inferior intellect, becaose it has more patience and power of expectation, 
and is ready to pay the fall price for the great future pleasure of change. 
But in all cases it is not that the noble nature loYes monotony, any more 
ikskn it loTes darkness or pain. But it can bear with it, and receiTes 
a high pleasure in the endurance or patience, a pleasure necessary, to the 
well-being of this world ; while those who will not submit to the temporary 
sameness, but rush from one change to another, gradually dull the edge of 
change itself, and bring a shadow and weariness over the whole world from 
whi(^ there is no more escape. 

From th^e general uses of rariety in the economy of the worid, we may 
at once understand its use and abuse in architecture^ The variety of the 
Gothic schools is the more healthy and beantiful, because in many cases it 
is entirely unstudied, and results, not from mere love of change, but from 
practical necessities. For in one point of view Gothic is not only the best, 
but the only ratioTud architecture^ as being that which can fit itself most 
easily to all services, vulgar or noble. Undefined in ite slope of roo^ 
height of shaft, breadth of arch, or disposition of ground plan, it can shrink 
into a turret, expand into a hall, coil into a staircase, or spring into a spire, 
with undegraded grace and unexhausted energy ; and whenever it finds 
occasion for change in ite form or purpose, it submite to it without the 
slightest sense of loss either to ite unity or msjesty, — subtle and flexible 
like a fiery serpent, but ever attentive to the voice of the charmer. And 
it is one of the chief virtues of the Gothic builders, that they never suffered 
ideas of outside symmetries and consistencies to interfere with the real use 
and value of what they did; If they wanted a window, they opened one ; 
a room, they added one ; a buttress^ they built one ; utterly regardless of 
any established conventionalities of external appearance, knowing (as 
indeed it always happened) that such daring interruptions of the formal 
plan would rather give additional interest to ite symmetry than injure it. 
So that, in the best times of Gothic, a useless window would rather have 
been opened in an unexpected place, for the sake of the surprise, than 
a useftd one forbidden for the sake of symmetry. Every successive archi- 
tect, employed upon a great work, built the pieces he added in his own 
way, utterly regardless of the style adopted by his predecessors ; and if two 
towers were raised in nominal correspondence at the sides of a cathedral 
front, one was neariy sure to be different from the other, and in each the 
style at the top to be different from the style at the bottom.* 

These marked variations were, however, only permitted as part of the 
great system of perpetual change which ran liirough every member of 
Gothic design, and rendered it as endless a field for the beholder's inquixy, 
as for the buildei^s imagination : change, which in the best schools is 
subtle and delicate, and rendered more delightful by intermingling of a 
noble monotony ; in the more barbaric schools is somewhat fantastic and 

* In the eighth chapter we shall see a remarkable mstance of this sacrifioe of sym* 
natty to oonvenieiioe in the arrangement of the windows of the Ducal Falaoe. 



eV THE NATVBB OP QOTHIC ABCHITSGTUSB. 19 

fedandant; bat, in all, a neeeasary aad ooiiBtaat oonditstm of the life of 
the sohooL Sometimes the tariety is in one faatnre^ sometimes in anoiiier ; 
it JBAj be in the capitals or erockets, in the niches or the traceries, or in 
all together, bat in some one or other of the fisatureftU will be found always. 
If the mouldings are constant, the surfiEicer scidptore will change ; if the 
capitals are of a fixed design, the traeeiies will change; if the traceries an 
monotonous, the capitals will change; and if eTon, as in some fine sohooky 
the early English for example, thrae is the slightest approximation to ail 
nnrarying type of mouddings, ciH)itals^ and floral decoration, the variety is 
£Mmd in the disposition of the masses, and in the figure scolpture. 

I must now r^er for a moment, before we quit the ccmsideration of this^ 
the second mental el^m^t of Gothic, to the opening of the third chapteor of 
the *^ Seven Lamps of Architecture," in which the distinction was drawa 
between mun. gathering and man governing ; between his aooeptaace of tha 
sources of delight ftom nature, and biifl development of authoritative or 
imaginative power in their amui^ment : for 1h» two mental elements, not 
only of Gothic, but of all good architecture, which we have just been 
examining, belong to it, and are admirable in it, chiefly as it is^ more than 
any other subject of art, the work of man, and the expression of the average 
power of man. A picture or poem is often Uttie more than a feeble utter- 
ance of man s admiration of something out ol himself ; but architednra 
^proaches more to a creation of bis own, bom of his necessities, and exptm^ 
sive of his nature. It is also, in some sort, the work of the whole nioe» 
while the picture or statue is the work of one oidy, m most cases men 
highly gifted than his fellows. And therefore we may expect that tiie ikst 
two dements of good architecture should be expresnte of some great truths 
oommonly belonging to the whole race, and neoesaaiy to be undeittood or 
felt by them in all theijf work that they do under the san^ And observe 
what they are : the confession of Imperfection^ andJ the cenliMsion of Derare 
of Change. The building of the MinI and ike bee needs not express any-^ 
thing' like this. It is perfect and unchanging. But just because we are 
something better than birds or bees« our building must confess that we 
have not reached the perfection we can imagine, and eannot rest in- the con- 
dition we have attained. If we pretend to have reached- either perfeotioii 
or satisfaction, we have degraded oorselves and our work. God's woik 
only may express that ; but ours may never have that sentence written upon 
it, — *' And behold, it was very good." And, observe again, it is not 
merely as it renders the edifice a book of various Imowledge, or a min^ of 
precious thought, that variety is essentia to its nobleness. The vitid 
principle is not the love of Knowledge^ but the love of Ghxmge. It is that 
strange disgmetttde of the Gothieq[>irit tha4i is its greatness ; that^restlesa- 
ness of the dreaming mlnd^ that wanders hithef and thither funong the 
niches, and flickers feverishly around the pinnaeles). and: frets add fades in 
labyrinthine knots and shadows along wall and roof, and yet is not satisfied, 
nor shall be satisfied* The Greek could stay in hjs triglyph furrow, and 
be at peace ; but the work <tf the Gothic heart is firetwork still, and it can* 
neither rest in, nor from, its labour, but must pass on, sleeplessly, until its 
love of change shall be pacified for ever in the change that must come alike 
on them that wake and them that sleep. 

The third constituent element of the Gk)thic mind was stated to be 
Naturalism; that is to say, the love of natural objects for their own sake^. 
and the effort to represent them frankly, unconstrained l^ artiBtical'laws* . 



id ON THB NATTTBE OP OOTHid ABCHITECTU&7. 

This characteristic of the style partly follows in necessary connexion witK 
those named abore. For, so soon as the workman is left free to represent 
what subjects he chooses, he must look to the nature that is round him for 
material, and will endeavour to represent it as he sees it, with more or less' 
accuracy according to the skill he possesses, and with much play of fancy, 
but with small respect for law. There is, howerer, a marked distinction 
between the imaginations of the Western and Eastern races, even when 
both are left free ; the Western, or Gothic, delighting most in the repre*' 
sentation of facts, and the Eastern (Arabian, Persian, and Chinese) in the 
harmony of colours and forms. Each of these intellectual dispositions has 
its particular forms of error and abuse, which, though I have often before 
stated, I must here again briefly explain ; and this the rather, because the 
word Naturalism is, in one of its senses, justly used as a term of reproach, 
and the questions respecting the real relations of art and nature are so 
many and so confused throughout all the schools of Europe at this day, 
that I cannot clearly enunciate any single truth without appearing to admit, 
in fellowship with it, some kind of error, unless the reader will bear with 
me in entering into such an analysis of the subject as will serve us for 
general guidance. 

We are to remember, in the first place, that the arrangement of colours 
and lines is an art analogous to the composition * of music, and entirely 
independent of the representation of facts. Qood colouring does not neces-' 
sarily convey the image of anything but itself. It consists in certain pro*- 
portions and arrangements of rays of light, but not in likenesses to anything. 
A few touches of certain greys and purples laid by a master^s hand on white 
paper, will be good colouring ; as more touches are added beside them, we 
knay find out that they were intended to represent a dove's neck, and we 
may praise, as the drawing advances, the perfect imitation of the dove's 
neck. But the good colouring does not consist in that imitation, but in 
the abstract qualities and relations of the grey and purple. 

In like manner, as soon as a great sculptor begins to shape his work out 
Of the block, we shall see that its lines are nobly arranged, and of noble 
character. We may not have the slightest idea for what the forms are 
intended, whether they are of man or beast, of vegetation or drapery. 
Their likeness to anything does not a£fect their nobleness. They are mag- 
nificent forms, and that is all we need care to know of them, in order to 
say whether the workman is a good or bad sculptor. 

Now the noblest art is an exact union of the abstract value, with the 
imitative power, of forms and colours. It is the noblest composition, 
used to express the noblest facts. But the human mind cannot in general 
unite the two perfections : it either pursues the fact to the neglect of the 
composition, or pursues the composition to the neglect of the fact. 

Aiid it is intended by the Deity that it tHiovld do this : the best art is 

' * I am always afiraid to use this word " Composition ;" it is so utterly misused in 
fhe general parlanoe respecting art. Nothing is more common than to hear divisions 
•fart into " form, composition, and colour/' or "light and shade and composition," 
or " sentiment and composition," or it matters not what else and composition ; the 
iq^eakers in each case attaching a perfectly different meaning to the word, generally 
an indistinct one, and always a wrong one. Composition is, m plain Enslish, " pnt- 
ting together," and it means the putting together of lines, of forms, of colours, of 
ihMes, or of ideas. Painters compose in colour, compose in thoaght, compose in 
form, and compose in effect; the word being of use merely in order to express a 
soientiflc, disciplined, and inventiye arrangement of any of these, instead of a merely 
natural or aoeiaental one. 



. ON THE NATUBE OF OOTHIC ABCHITECTUBE. 21: 

ttot always wanted. Facts are often wanted without art, as in a geological 
diagram ; and art often without facts, as in a Tnrkey carpet. And most 
men have been made capable of giving either one or the other, but not both ; 
only one or two, the very highest, can give both. 

- Observe then. Men are universally divided, as respects their artistical 
qualifications, into three great classes ; a right, a. left, and a centre. On 
the right side are the men of facts, on the left the men of design,* in the 
centre the men of both. 

The three classes of course pass into each other by imperceptible grada-* 
tions. The men of facts are hardly ever altogether without powers of 
design ; the men of design are always in some measure cognizant of facts ; 
and as each class possesses more or less of the powers of the opposite one, 
it approaches to the character of the central class. Few men, even in that 
central rank, are so exactly throned on the summit of the crest that they 
cannot be perceived to incline in the least one way or the other, embracing 
both horizons with their glance. Now each of these classes has, as I above 
said, a healthy function in the world, and correlative diseases or unhealthy 
functions ; and, when the work of either of them is seen in its morbid 
eondition, we are apt to find fault with the class of workmen, instead of 
finding fault only with the particular abuse which has perverted their 
action. 

YHiat, then, are the diseased operations to which the three dasses of 
workmen are liable f 

Primarily, two ; affecting the two inferior classes : 

1st, When either of those two cUsses Despises the other ; 
: 2nd, When either of the two classes Envies the other ; 
producing, therefore, four forms of dangerous error. 

Firsts when the men of facts despise design. This is the error of the 
tommon Dutch painters, of merely imitative painters of still life, flowers, 
&c., and other men who, having either the gift of aocuilftte imitation or 
strong sympathies with nature, suppose that all is done when the imitation 
IS perfected or sympathy expressed. A large body of English landscapists 
come into this class, including most clever sketchers from nature, who fancy 
that to get a sky of true tone, and a gleam of sunshine or sweep of shower 
fidthfuUy expressed, is all that can be required of art. These men are 
generally themselves answerable for much of their deadness of feeling to 
the higher qualities of composition. They probably have not originally the 
high gifts of design, but they lose such powers as they originaUy possessed 
by despising, and refusing to study, the results of great power of design in 
others. Their knowledge, as fiu: as it goes, being accurate, they are 
usually presumptuous and self'Conceited, and gradually become incapable 
of admiring anything but what is like their own works. They see nothing 
in the works of great designers but the fiiults, and do harm almost incal- 
culable in the European society of the present day by sneering at the com* 
positions of the greatest men of the earlier ages,t because they do not 
absolutely tally with their own ideas of '* Nature." 

* Desiffn is used in this place as expressive of the power to arnuige lines and colours 
nobly, fiy facts, I mean facts perceived by the eye and mind, not fkcts accumulated 
by Imowledge. See the chapter on Roman Renaissance (Vol. III. Chap. II.) for tins 
distinction. 

t ** Earhex" that is to say, pre-Baphaelite a^. Hen of this stamp will praise 
Claude, and such other comparatively debased artists; but they cannot taste the work 
of the thirteenth century. 



22 Oir THB KATUBB OF GOTHIC ASCHITECTUXE. 

fPhe second form of error is when the men of derign desfnse ftcts. All 
noble design most deal with fkdM to a certain extent^ for there is no food for 
it in bnt natnre. The best colonrist invents best by taking hints from 
natural colours ; from birds, skies, or groups of figures. And if, in the 
delight of inventing fontastie colonr and form, the truths of nature are 
wilfully neglected, the intellect becomes eomparatiyely decrepit, and that 
state of art results which we find among the Chinese. The Greek de- 
signers delighted in the facts of the human form, and became great in 
eonsequence ; but the foots of lower natnre were disregarded by them, and 
their inferior ornament became, therefore, dead and valueless. 

The third form of error is when the men of foots envy design : that is to 
say, when, having only imitative powers, tbey refuse to employ those 
powers upon the visible world around them ; but, having been taught that 
oomposition is the end of art, strive to obtain the inventive powers which 
nature has denied them, study nothing bnt the works of reputed deBigners, 
and perish in a fungous grow& of pla^arism and laws of aj*t. 

Here was the great error of the b^inning of this century ; it is the error 
of the meanest kind of men that employ themselves in painting, and it is 
the most fatal of all, rendering those who foil into it utterly useless, inca- 
pable of helping the world witi^ either truth or fancy, while, in all xHroba- 
bility, they deceive it by base resemblances of both, until it hardly 
reoognises truth or fancy when they really exist. 

The fourth form of error is when the men of design envy facts : that is 
to say, when the temptation of closely imitating nature leads them to foiget 
their own proper ornamental fixnction, and when they lose the power of the 
composition for the sake of graphic truth ; as, for instance, in the hawthorn 
moulding so often spoken of round the porch of Bourges Cathedral, which, 
though very lovely, might perhaps, as we saw above, have been better, if 
the old builder, in his excessive desire to make it look like hawthorn, had 
not painted it green. 

It is, however, carefully to be noted, that the two morbid conditions to 
which the men of facts are liable are much more dangerous and harmful 
than those to which the men of design are liable. The morbid state of 
men of design iigures themselves only ; that of the men of facts injures the 
whole world. The Chinese porcelain-painter is, indeed, not so great a 
man as he might be, but he does not want to break everything that is not 
porcelain : but the modem Bnglidi foct-hunter, despising design, wants to 
destroy everything that does not agree with his own notions of truth, and 
becomes the most dangerous and despicable of iconochusts, excited by 
egotism instead of religion. Again : the Bourges sculptor, painting his 
hawthorns green, did indeed somewhat hurt the e£fect of his own beautiful 
design, but did not prevent any one from loving hawthorn : but Sir (George 
Beaumont, tiying to make Constable paint grass brown inttead of green, 
was setting himself between Constable and nature, blinding the painter, and 
blaspheming the work of God. 

So much, then, of the diseases of the inferior classes, caused by their 
envying or despising each other. It is evident that the men of the central 
class cannot be liable to any morbid operation of this kind, they possessing 
the powers of both. 

But there is another order of diseases which affect all the three ckuenes, 
considered with respect to their pursuit of facts. For observe, all the three 
classes are in some degree pursuers of facts ; even the men of design not 



OK THI NAinmi 07 GOTHIC ABCHITBCTUBB. SS 

Imng in any ewe altogetlier independent of eitemal truth. Now, consi- 
<dering them all as more or less aotrohers after truth, there is another triple 
diyision to be made of them. Srerything presented to them in nature has 
'good and evil mingled in it : and sxtiBtB, eon8idered4UB searchers after truth, 
«re again to be divided into three great dasses, a right, a left, andaoentre. 
Those on tke right perceive, and pursue, the good, and leare the evil : 
those in the centre, the greatest, peroenre and pursne the good and evil 
together, the -whole thing as it verily is : tiiose on the left perceive and 
pursue 4Jie evil, and leave the good. 

The first class, I say, take the good and leave the evil. Out of whatever 
is inesented to them, they gather what it has of grace, and life, and light, 
and holiness, and leave aH, or at least as much as possible, of the rest 
undrawn. The fiftces «f their figures express no evil passions ; the skies 
of their landscapes are without storm ; the prevalent character of their 
colour is brightness, and of their chiaroscuro fulness of light. The early 
Italian and Flemish patnters, Angelioo and Hemlaig, Perugino, Franda, 
BalbeUe in lus best time, John Bellini, and our own Stothaid, belong 
eminently to this dass. 

The second, or greatest class, render all that they see in nature unhesi- 
tatingly, with a kind of divine grai^ and government of the whole, sympa- 
thizing with aU the good, and yet confessing, permitting, and bringing good 
out of the evil also. Their suk9ect is in&iite as nature, their colour equally 
bskkmced between splendour and sadness, reaching occasionally the highest 
degrees of both, luid their ohiarosouo equally bahmced between light 
and shade. 

The principal men of this class are Michael Angelo, Leonardo, Qiotto, 
Tintoret^ and Turner. Baffiielle in his second time, Titian, and £ubens 
•are transitional ; the first inclining to the eclectic, and the last two to the 
impure class, Ba&elle rarely giving all the evil, Titian and Kubens rarely 
blithe good. 

The last class pcrcdve and imitate evil only. They cannot draw the 
trunk of a tree without blasting and shattering it, nor a sky except covered 
with stormy clouds; they delight in the beggazy and brutality of the 
human race ; their colour is for the most psrt subdued or lurid, and the 
4Si6atest spaces of their pictures ace occupied by darkness. 

Happily the examples of this class are seldom seen in perfection. 
Salvator Rosa and Caravaggio are the most characteristic : the other men 
belonging to it approach towards the central rank by imperceptible grada- 
tions, as they perceive and represent more and more o£ good. But Murillo, 
•Zuriteran, Camillo Froeaocini, Bembiandt, and Teniers, all belong naturally 
to this lower class. 

^ Now, observe : the three classes into which artists were previously 
divided, of men of fact^ men of design, and men of both, are all of Divine 
institution; but of ^ese latter three, the last is in no wise of Divine 
institution. It is entirely human, and the men who belong to it have sunk 
into it by their own faults. Th^ are, so far forth, either useless or harm- 
ful men. It is indeed good thai evil should be occasionally represented, 
even in its worst forms, but never that it should be taken delight 
in : and the mighty men of the central class will always give us all ^t 
ia needful of it ; sometimes, as Hogarth did, dwelling upon it bitterly as 
satirists, — but this with the more effect, because they will neither exagge- 
xatt it) nor represent it mercilessly, and without the atoning points thai 



24 ON THE KATUAB OF OOTHIC ABCHITSCTUSS. 

bU evil shows to a Divinely guided glance, eren at its deepest. So thim; 
though the third class will always, I fear, in some measure exist, the two 
necessary classes are only the first two ; and this is so £u: acknowledged by 
the general sense of men, that the basest class has been confounded with 
the second ; and painters have been divided commonly only into two ranks, 
now known, I believe, throughout Europe by the names which they first 
received in Italy, *' Furisti and Naturalist!.*' Since, however, in the exist- 
ing state of things, the degraded or evil-loving class, though less defined than 
that of the Puristi, is just as vast as it is indistinct, this division has done 
infinite dishonour to the great faithful painters of nature : and it has long 
been one of the objects I have had most at heart to show that, in reality, 
the Purists, in their sanctity, are less separated from these natural painters 
than the Sensualists in their foulness ; and that the difference, though less 
discernible, is in reality greater, between the man who pursues evil for its 
own sake, and him who bears with it for the sake of truth, than betweea 
this latter and the man who will not endure it at all. 

Let us, then, endeavour briefly to mark the real relations of these three 
vast ranks of men, whom I shall call, for convenience in speaking of them» 
-Purists, Naturalists, and Sensualists ; not that these terms express their 
real characters, but I know no word, and cannot coin a convenient one, 
which would accurately express the opposite of Purist ; and I keep the 
terms Purist and Naturalist in order to comply, as far as possible, witii the 
established usage of language on the Continent. Now, observe : in saying 
that nearly everything presented to ns in nature has mingling in it of good 
and evil, I do not mean that nature is conceivably improvable, or that any- 
thing that God has made could be called evil, if we could see far enough 
into its uses, but that, with respect to immediate effects or appearances, it 
may be so, just as the hard rind or bitter kernel of a fruit may be an evil 
to the eater, though in the one it is the protection of the fruit, and in the 
other its continuance. The Purist, therefore, does not mend nature, but 
receives from nature and from God that which is good for him ; while the 
Sensualist fills himself '* with the husks that the swine did eat." 

The three classes may, therefore, be likened to men reaping wheat, of 
which the Purists take the fine flour, and the Sensualists the chaff and 
straw, but the Naturalists take all home, and make their cake of the one, 
and their couch of the other. 

For instance. We know more certainly every day that whatever appears 
to us harmful in the universe has some beneficent or necessary operation ; 
that the storm which destroys a harvest brightens the sunbeams for har- 
vests yet unsown, and that the volcano which buries a city preserves a 
thousand from destruction. But the evil is not for the time less fearful, 
because we have learned it to be necessary ; and we easily understand the 
timidity or the tenderness of the spirit which would withdraw itself from 
the presence of destruction, and create in its imagination a world of which 
the peace should be unbroken, in which the sky should not darken nor the 
• sea rage, in which the leaf diould not change nor the blossom wither. 
.That man is greater, however, who contemplates with an equal mind the 
alternations of terror and of beauty ; who, not rejoicing less beneath the 
sunny sky, can bear also to watch the bars of twilight narrowing on the 
horizon ; and, not less sensible to the blessing of the peace of nature, can 
rejoice in the magnificence of the ordinances by which that peace is pro* 
. tected and secured. But separated from both by an immeasurable distance 



ON THE STATUSB OF GOTHIC ABCHITEGTUBB. "25 

.would be the man wlid delighted in conynlsion and disease for their -own 
sake ; who found his daily food in the disorder of nature mingled with the 
suffering of humanity; and watched joyfully at the right hand of the 
Angel whose appointed work is to destroy as well as to accuse, while the 
comers of the house of feasting were struck by the wind from the wil- 
derness. 

And far more is this true, when the subject of contemplation is humanity 
itself. The passions of mankind are partly protective, partly beneficent, 
like the chaff and grain of the com ; but none without theii* use, none 
without nobleness when seen in balanced unity with the rest of the spirit 
which they are charged to defend. The passions of which the end is the 
continuance of the race ; the indignation which is to arm it against injus- 
tice, or strengthen it to resist wanton injury ; and the fear* which lies at 
the root of prudence, reverence, and awe, are all honourable and beautiful, 
so long as man is regarded in his relations to the existing world. The 
religious Purist, striving to conceive him withdrawn from those relations, 
effiices from the countenance the traces of all transitory passion, illumines 
it with holy hope and love, and seals it with the serenity of heavenly 
peace ; he conceals the forms of the body by the deep-folded garment, or 
else represents them under severely chastened types, and would rather 
paint them emaciated by the fast, or pale from the torture, than strength- 
ened by exertion, or flashed by emotion. But the great Naturalist tikes 
the human being in its wholeness, in its mortal as well as its spiritual 
strength. Capable of sounding and sympathizing with the whole range 
of its passions, he brings one majestic harmony out of them all ; he 
represents it fearlessly in all its acts and thoughts, in its haste, its anger, . 
its sensuality, and its pride, as well as in its fortitude or fiedth, but makes 
it noble in them all ; he casts aside the veil from the body, and beholds 
the mysteries of its form like an angel looking down on an inferior crea- 
ture : there is nothing which he is reluctant to behold, nothing that he 
is ashamed to confess ; with all that lives, triumphing, falling, or suffer- 
ing, he claims kindred, either in majesty or in mercy, yet standing, in a 
sort, afar off, unmoved even in the deepness of his sympathy ; for the 
spirit within him is too thoughtful to be grieved, too brave to be appalled, 
and too pure to be polluted. 

How far beneath these two ranks of men shall we place, in the scale of 
being, those whose pleasure is only in sin or in suffering ; who habitually 
contemplate humanity in poverty or decrepitude, fury or sensuality; 
whose works are either temptations to its weakness, or triumphs over its 
ruin, and recognise no other subjects for thought or admiration than the 
subtlety of the robber, the rage of the soldier, or the joy of the Sybarite. 
It seems strange, when thus definitely stated, that such a school should 
exist. Yet consider a little what gaps and blanks would disfigure our 
gallery and chamber walls, in places that we have long approached with 
reverence, if every picture, every statue, were removed from them, of 
which the subject was either the vice or the misery of mankind, portrayed 
without any moral purpose : consider the innumerable groups having 
reference merely to various forms of passion, low or high ; dmnken revels 
and brawls among peasants, gambling or fighting scenes among soldiers, 
•amours and intrigues among every class, brutal battle pieces, banditti 

* Not selfish fear, caased by want of trust in God, or of resolution in the soul. 
X/ompare " Modem Painters," toL ii. p. 120. 



26 OK THE NATUBB OP GOTHIC ABCHITECTTJBE. 

cnbjeotB, gluts of totture, a&d death in famine, wreck, or slaughter, for the 
sake merely of the exdtement, — that quickening and suppling of the dull 
spirit that cannot be gained for it but by bathing it in blood, afterward to 
wither back into stained and stiffened apathy ; and then that whole vast 
false heaven of sensual passion, full of nymphs, satyrs, graces, goddesses, 
and I know nut what, from its high seyenth circle in Oorreggio's Antiope, 
down to the Qreciced ballet>dancers and smirking Cupids of the Parisian 
upholsterer. Sweep away all this, remorselessly, and see how much art 
we should have left. 

And yet these are only the grossest manifestations of the tendency of 
the school. There are subtler, yet not less certain, signs of it in the 
works of men who stand high in the world's list of sacred painters. I 
doubt not that the reader was surprised when I named Murillo among the 
men of this third rank. Tet, go into the Dulwich Gallery, and meditate 
for a little over that much celebrated picture of the two beggar boys, one 
eating, lying on the ground, the other standing beside him. We have 
among our own painters one who cannot indeed be set beside Murillo as a 
painter of Madonnas, for he is a pure Naturalist, and, never having seen a 
Madonna, does not paint any ; but who, as a painter of beggar or peasant 
boys, may be set beside Murillo, or any one else, — ^W. Hunt. He loves 
peasant boys, because he finds them more roughly and picturesquely 
dressed, and more healthily coloured, than others. And he paints all that 
he sees in them fearlessly ; all the health and humour, and freshness and 
vitality, together with such awkwardness and stupidity, and what else of 
negative or positive harm there may be in the creature ; but yet so that on 
the whole we love it, and find it perhaps even beautiful, or if not, at least 
we see that there is capability of good in it, rather than of evil ; and all is 
lighted up by a sunshine and sweet colour that makes the smock frock 
as precious as cloth of gold. But look at those two ragged and vicious 
vagrants that Murillo has gathered out of the street. You smile at firsts 
because they are eating so naturally, and their roguery is so complete. 
But is there anything else than roguery there, or was it well for the 
painter to give his time to the painting of those repulsive and wid^ed chil- 
dren? Do you feel moved with any charity towards children as you look 
at them ? Are we the least more likely to take any interest in ragged 
schools, or help the next pauper child that comes in our way, because the 
painter has shown us a cunning beggar feeding greedily ? Mark the choice 
of the act. He might have shown hunger in other ways, and given interest 
to even this act of eating, by making the face wasted, or the eye wistful. 
But he did not care to do this. He delighted merely in the disgusting 
manner of eating, the food filling the cheek ; the boy is not hungry, else 
he would not tarn round to talk and grin as he eats. 

But observe another point in the lower figure. It lies so that the sole 
of the foot is turned towards the spectator; not because it would have 
lain less easily in another attitude, but that the painter may draw, and 
exhibit, the grey dust engrained in the foot. Do not call this the painting 
of nature : it is mere delight in foulness. The lesson, if there be any, in 
the picture, is not one whit the stronger. We all know that a beggar's 
bare foot cannot be clean ; there is no need to thrust its degradation into 
the light, as if no human imagination were vigorous enough for its con- 
ception. 

The position of the Sensualists, in treatment of landscape, is less dis- 



OK THI VATXTSB OF GM)THIC ASCHITBCTUSB. 27 

iinctly marked than in that of the figare, because even the wildest 
passions of nature are noble ; but the inclination is manifested by careless- 
ness in marking generic fonn in trees and flowers; by their prefening 
49onfu8ed and irregular arrangements of foliage or foreground to symmetrical 
and simple grouping ; by their g^ieral choice of such pioturesqueness as 
results from decay, diiBOider, and disease, rather than of that which is con- 
sistent with the perfection of the things in which it is found ; and by 
their imperfect rendering of the elements of strength and beauty in aU 
things. I propose to work out this subject fully in the last volume of 
** Modem Painters ;'* but I trust that enough has been here said to enable 
the reader to understand the relations of the three great classes of artists, 
and therefore also the kinds of morbid condition into which the two highet- 
(for the last has no other than a morbid condition) are liable to fall. For, 
sinee the function of the Naturalists is to represent, as far as may be, the 
whole of nature, and of the Purists to represent what is absolutely good 
for some special purpose or time, it is evident that both are liable to 
error from shortness of sight, and the last also from weakness of judgment. 
I say, in the first place, both may err from shortness of sight, from not 
seeing all that there is in nature ; seeing only the outsides of things, or 
those points of them which bear least on the matter in hand. For 
instance, a modem continental Naturalist sees the anatomy of a limb 
thoroughly, but does not see its colour against the sky, which latter fact 
is to a painter &r the more important of the two. And because it is 
always easier to see the surfiiMe than the depth of things, the full sight 
of them requiring the highest powers of penetration, sympathy, and 
imagination, the world is full of vulgar Naturalists: not Sensualists, 
observe, not men who delight in evil ; but men who never see the deepest 
good, and who bring discredit on all painting of Nature by the little that 
they discover in her. And the Purist, besides being liable to this same 
shortsightedness, is liable also to fatal errors of judgment : for he may 
think that good which is not so, and that the highest good which is the 
least. And thus the world is full of vulgar Purists,* who bring discredit 
on all selection by the silliness of their choice ; and this the more, because 
the very becoming a Purist is commonly indicative of some slight degree of 
weakness, readiness to be offended, or narrowness of understanding of the 
ends of tilings ; the greatest men being, in all times of art. Naturalists, 
without any exception ; and the greatest Purists being those who approach 
nearest to ^e Naturalists, as Benozzo Gozzoli and Perugino. Hence there 
is a tendency in the Naturalists to despise the Purists, and in the Purists 

* I reserve for another plaoe the full discussion of this interesting subjeot, which 
here would have led me too far ; but it must be noted, in passing, that this vulgar 
Purism, which rcgects truth, not because it is ricious, but because it is bumble, and 
consists not in choosing what is good, but in disguisins what is rough, extends itself 
into every species of art. The most definite instance of it is the dressii^ of characters 
of peasantry in an opera or ballet scene : and the walls of our exhibitions are full of 
works of art which " exalt nature" in the same way, not by revealing what is great in 
the heart, but by smoothing what is coarse in the complexion. There is nothing, I 
believe, so vulgar, so hopeless, so indicative of an irretrievably base mind, as this 
species of Purism. Of healthy Purism carried to the utmost endurable length in this 
mrection, exalting the heart first, and the features with it, perhaps the most charac- 
teristic instance I can give is Stothard's vijenette to " Jorasse," in Rogers's Italy ; at 
least it would be so if it ooold be seen beside a real grouu of Swiss girls. The poems 
of Sogers, compared with those of Crabbe, are admirable instances of the healthiest 
Purism and healthiest Naturalism in poetry. The first great Naturalists of Christian 
art were Orcagna and Giotto. 



20 ON THE NATURE OF GOTHIC ABCH^TECTTJBE^ 

to be offended vith the Naturalists (not 1^lderstanding them, and coA^ 
founding them with the Sensualists) ; and this is grievously harmful to both. 

Of the various forms of resultant mischief it is not here the place to 
speak : the reader may already be somewhat wearied with a statement 
which has led us apparently so far from our immediate subject. But the 
digression was necessary, in order that I might clearly define the sense in 
which I use the word Naturalism when I state it to be the third most 
essential characteristic of Gothic architecture. I mean that the Gothic 
builders belong to the central or greatest rank in both the classifications of 
artists which we have just made ; tbat, considering all artists as either 
men of design, men of facts, or men of both, the Gothic builders were 
men of both ; and that again, considering all artists as either Purista, 
Naturalists, or Sensualists, the Gothic builders were Naturalists. 

I say first, that the Gothic builders were of that central class whick 
unites fact with design ; but that the part of the work which was more 
especially their own was the truthfulness. Their power of artistical inven- 
tion or arrangement was not greater than that of Romanesque and Byzantine 
workmen : by those workmen they were taught the principles, and from 
them received their models, of design ; but to the ornamental feeling and 
rich fancy of the Byzantine the Gothic builder added a love of fact which 
is never found in the South. Both Greek and Roman used conventional 
foliage in their ornament, passing into something that was not foliage at all, 
knotting itself into strange cup-like buds or clusters, and growing out of 
lifeless rods instead of stems ; the Gothic sculptor received these types, at 
first, as things that ought to be, jurt as we have a second time received 
them ; but he could not rest in them. He saw there was no veracity in 
them, no knowledge, no vitality. Do what he would, he could not help 
liking the true leaves better ; and cautiously, a little at a time, he put 
more of nature into his work, until at last it was all true, retaining, never- 
theless, every valuable character of the original well-disciplined and de- 
signed arrangement. 

Nor is it only in external and visible subject that the Gothic workman 
wrought for truth: he is as firm in his rendering of imaginative as of 
actual truth ; that is to say, when an idea would have been by a Soman, 
or Byzantine, symbolically represented, the Gothic mind realizes it to the 
utmost. For instance, the purgatorial fire is represented in the mosaic 
of Torcello (Romanesque) as a red stream, longitudinally striped like a 
riband, descending out of the throne of Christ, and gradually extending 
itself to envelope the wicked. When we are once informed what this 
means, it is enough for its purpose; but the Gothic inventor does not 
leave the sign in need of interpretation. He makes the fire as like real 
fire as he can ; and in the porch of St. Maclou at Rouen the sculptured 
flames burst out of the Hades gate, and flicker up, in writhing tongues of 
stone, through the interstices of the niches, as if the church itself were on 
fire. This is an extreme instance, but it is all the more illustrative of the 
entire difference in temper and thought between the two schools of art, and 
of the intense love of veracity which influenced the Gothic design. 

I do not say that this love of veracity is always healthy in its operation, 
I have above noticed the errors into which it falls from despising design ; 
and there is another kind of error noticeable in the instance just given, in 
which the love of truth is too hasty, and seizes on a surface truth instead 
of an inner one. For in representing the Hades fire, it is not the mere 



ON THB KATTTBB OF OOTHIC ABCHITSCtUBE. 29 

form of the flame whicli needs most to be told, but its nnqnenchableness, 
its Divine ordainment and limitation, and its inner fierceness, not physical 
and material, but in being the expression of the wrath of G^od. And 
these things are not to be told by imitating the fire that flashes out of a 
bundle of sticks. If we think over his symbol a little, ^^e shall perhaps 
find that the Romanesque builder told more truth in that likeness of a 
blood-red stream, flowing between definite shores, and out of God's throne, 
and expanding, as if fed by a perpetual current, into the lake wherein the 
wicked are cast, than the Gothic builder in those torch-flickerings about 
his niches. But this is not to our immediate purpose; I am not at 
present to insist upon the &ults into which the love of truth was led in the 
later Gothic times, but on the feeling itself, as a glorious and peculiar 
eharacteristic of the Northern builders. For, observe, it is not, even in 
the above instance, love of truth, but want of thought, which cmiaes the 
fault. The love of truth, as such, is good, but when it is misdirected by 
thoughtlessness or over-excited by vanity, and either seizes on facts of 
small value, or gathers them chiefly that it may boast of its grasp and 
apprehension, its work may well become dull or offensive. Yet let us not, 
therefore, blame the inherent love of £bm^, but the incautiousness of their 
selection, and impertinence of their statement. 

I said, in the second place, that Gothic work, when referred to the 
arrangement of all art, as purist, naturalist, or sensualist, was naturalist. 
This character follows necessarily on its extreme love of truth, prevailing 
over the sense of beauty, and causing it to take delight in portraiture of 
every kind, and to express the various characters of the human countenance 
and form^ as it did the varieties of leaves and the ruggedness of branches. 
And this tendency is both increased and ennobled by the same Christian 
humility which we saw expressed in the first character of G-othic work, 
its rudeness. For as that resulted from a humility which confessed the 
imperfection of the workman^ so this naturalist portraiture is rendered 
more faithfal by the humility which confesses the imperfection of the 
su2|;ecf . The Gh:eek sculptor could neither bear to confess his own feebleness, 
nor to tell the faults of the forms that he portrayed. But the Christian 
workman, believing that all is finally, to work together for good, freely 
confesses both, and neither seeks to ^guise his own roughness of work, 
nor his subject's roughness of make. Yet this frankness being joined, for 
the most pai't, with depth of religious feeling ia other directions, and 
especially with charity, there is sometimes a tendency to Purism in the 
best GK)thic sculpture ; so that it frequently reaches great dignity of form 
and tenderness of expression, yet never so as to lose the veracity of 
portraiture, wherever portraiture is possible : not exalting its kings into 
demi'gods, nor its saints into archangels, but giving what kingliness and 
sanctity was in them to the full, mixed with due record of their faults; 
and thiis in the most part with a great indifference like that of Scripture 
history, which sets down, with unmoved and unexcusing resoluteness, the 
virtues and errors of all men of whom it speaks, often leaving the reader 
to form his own estimate of them, without an indication of the judgment 
of the historian. And this veracity is carried out by the Gothic sciUptors 
in the minuteness and generality, as well as the equity, of their delineation : 
for they do not limit their art to the portraiture of saints and kings, but 
introduce the most familiar scenes and most simple subjects ; filling up the 
backgrounds cif Scripture histories with vivid and curious representations- 



30 ON THE If ATUSB OF GOTHIC ASCHITBCTUBB. 

of the eommonest inddenta of daily iiSd, and ovBiEng theouel'VBS of eveiy 
oecanon in which, either as a symhol, or an explanation of a Boene or tune, 
the things familiar to the eye of the woikman eoold be introdnoed and 
made of account. Hence Cbthic acolptore and painting are not only fall of 
▼aluable portnulmre of the greatest men, hat oopions records of all the 
domestic customs and inferior arts of the ages in which it flourished. * 

There is, however, one direction in which the Naturalism of the Gothic work- 
men is peculiarly manifested ; and this direction is eyen more characteristic of 
the school than the Naturalism itself ; I mean their peculiar fondness for 
the forms of vegetation. In rendering the various eircumstancee of daily 
life, £|gyptian and Ninevite sculpture is as frank and as diffuse as the Qoifaie. 
From the highest pomps of state or triumphs of battle, to the most trivial 
domestic arts and amusements, all is taken advantage of to fill the field of 
granite with the perpetual interest of a crowded drama ; and the early Lom- 
hardic and Romanesque sculpture is equally copious in its desor^on of the 
fiimiliar drcumstanoes of war and the chase. But in all the scenes por- 
trayed by the workmen of these nations, vegetation ooemrs only as an expla- 
natory accessory ; the reed is introduced to mark the course of the river, ov 
the tree to mark the covert of the wild beast^ or the ambush of the enemy, 
but there is no especial interest in the forma of the vegetation strong enough 
to induce them to make it a subject of separate and accurate study. Again, 
among the nations who followed the arts of design exclusively, the fonns of 
foliage introduced were meagre and general,, and their real intricacy and lifb 
were neither admired nor expressed. But to the Qothic workman the living 
foliage became a subject of intense affection, and he struggled to render all 
its characters with as much aceuxacy as was compatible with the laws of 
his design and the nature of his material, not unfrequently tempted in his 
enthusiasm to transgress the one and disguise the other. 

There is a peculiar significance in this, indicative both of higher civiliza- 
tion and gentler temperament, than had before been manifested in architec- 
ture. Rudeness, and the love of change, which we have insisted upon as 
the first elements of Gothic, are also elements common to all healthy 
schools. But here is a softer element mingled with them, peculiar to. the 
Gothic itself. The rudeness or ignorance which would have been painfblly 
exposed in the treatment of the human form, is still not so great as to pre*> 
vent the successful rendering of the wayside herbage ; and the love of 
change, which becomes morbid and feveri^ in following the haste of the 
hunter, and the rage of the combatant, is at once soothed and satisfied as it 
watches the wandering of the tendril, and the budding of the flower. Nor 
is this all : the new direction of mental interest marks an infinite change in 
the means and the habits of life. The nations whose chief support was in the 
chase, whose chief interest was in the battle, whose chief pleasure was in 
the banquet, would take small care respecting the shapes of leaves and 
flowers ; and notice little in the forms of the forest trees which sheltered 
them, except the signs indicative of the wood which would make the 
toughest lance, the closest roof, or the clearest fire. The affectionate ob* 
aervation of the grace and outward character of vegetation is the sure sign 

* The best art either represents the facts of its own day, or, if facts of the past, 
ezpreases them with aocessories of the time in which the work was done. AU good 
art, representing past events, is therefore full of the most frank anachronism, and 
always ou^ht to Be. No painter has any business to be an antiquarian. We do not 
want his mipressions or suppofitions respecting things that are past. We want his 
olear assertions respecting tmngs present. 



OK THE VMkTVUE OJT GOTHIC JkBCHITXOTITBB. SI 

of a more tranquil and gentle existence, sastained by the gifts, and glad- 
dened by the splendour of the earth. In that careful distinction of speoieB, 
and richness of delicate and undisturbed organization, which characterize 
the Gothic design, there is the history of rural and thoughtful life, influ- 
enced by habitual tenderness, and devoted to subtle inquiry; and every 
discriminating and delicate touch of the chisel, as it rounds the petal or 
guides the branch, is a prophecy of the development of the entire body of 
the natural sciences, beginning with that of medicine, of the recovery of 
literature, and the establishment of the most necessary principies of domestic 
wisdom and national peace. 

I have before alluded to the strange and vain suppositLon, that the 
original conception of GK>thic architecture had been derived from vegetation^. 
— &om the symmetry of avenues, and the interlacing of branches. It is a 
supposition which never could have existed for a moment in the mind of 
any person acquainted with early Gbthic ; but, however idle as a theory, it 
is most valuable as a testimony to the character of the perfected style. It 
is precisely because the reverse of this theory is the &ct, because I3ie 
(Gothic did not arise out of, but develope itself into» a resembkmce to vege- 
tation, that this resemblance is so instructive as an indication of the temper 
of the builders. It was no chance suggestion of the form of an arch from, 
the bending of a bough, but a gradual and continual discovery of a beauly 
in natural forms which could be more and more perfectly transferred inta* 
those of stone, that influenced at once the heart of the people, and the form 
of the edifice. The Gbthic architecture arose in massy and mountainous 
strength, axe-hewn, and ironrbound, block heaved upon block bythemonk's^ 
enthusiasm and the soldier's force ; and cramped and stanchioned into sudi. 
weight of grisly waU, as might bury the anchoret in darkness, and beatbadL 
the utmost storm of battle, suffering but by the same narrow crodet tbe 
passing of the sunbeam or of the arrow. Gradually, as that monkish en- 
thusiasm became more thoughtful, and as the sound of war became more 
and more intermittent beyond the gates of the convent or the keep^ the: 
stony pillar grew slender and the vaulted roof grew light, till they had 
wreathed themselves into the semblance of the summer woods at their fiadresl^ 
and of the dead field-flowers, long trodden down in blood, sweet monumen- 
tal statues were set to bloom for ever, beneath the porch of the temple, oar 
the canopy of the tomb. 

Nor is it only as a sign of greater gentleness or refinement of mind, but 
as a proof of the best possible direction of this refinement, that the teui* 
dency of the Gt)thic to the expression of vegetative life is to be admired; 
That sentence of Genesis, **I have given thee every green herb for meat," 
like all the rest of the book, has a profound symbolical as well as a litendi 
meaning. It is not merely the nourishment of the body, but the food of 
the soul, that is intended. The green herb is, of all nature, that which is 
most essential to the healthy spiritual life of man. Most of us do not need, 
fine scenery ; the precipice and the mountain peak are not intended to be 
seen by all men, — perhaps their power is greatest over tiiose who are unao^ 
customed to them. But trees, and fields, and flowers were made for all, and are 
necessary for all. God has connected the labour which is essential to the bodily 
sustenance, with the pleasures which are healthiest for the heart ; and while 
He made the ground stubborn, He made its herbage fragrant, and its blossoms 
fair. The proudest architecture that man can build has no high er honour than 
to bear the image and recal the memory of that grass of the field which is^ at 



32 OV THB NATURE OF GOTHIC ABOHITECTtTBX. 

onoe, the type and the support of his existence ; the goodly bnilding is then 
most glorious when it is sculptured into the likeness of the leaves of Para- 
dise ; and the great Gothic spirit, as we showed it to be noble in its dis- 
quietude, is also noble in its hold of nature ; it is, indeed, like the dove of 
Noah, in that she found no rest upon the &ce of the waters, — but like her 
in this also, ** Lo, iir hbr mouth was an olive branoh, plucked off." 

The fourth essential element of the Gothic mind was abore stated to be 
the sense of the Grotbsqub ; but I shall defer the endeavour to define this 
most curious and subtle character until we have occasion to examine one 
of the divisions of the Renaissance schools, which was morbidly influenced 
by it. It is the less necessary to insist upon it here, because every reader 
£uniliar with Gothic architecture must understand what I mean, and 
will, I believe, have no hesitation in admitting that the tendency to 
delight in fantastic and ludicrous, as well as in sublime, images, is a 
universal instinct of the Gothic imagination. 

The fifth element above named was Riqiditt ; and this character I must 
endeavour carefully tu define, for neither the word I have used, nor any 
other that I can think of, will express it accurately. For I mean, not 
merely stable, but active rigidity ; the peculiar enezigy which gives tension 
to movement, and stiffness to resistance, which makes the fiercest light- 
ning forked rather than curved, and the stoutest oak-branch angular rather 
than bending, and is as much seen in the quivering of the lance as in the 
glittering of the ioide. 

I have before had occasion to note some manifestations of this 
energy or fixedness; but it must be still more attentively considered 
here, as it shows itself throughout the whole structure and deco- 
ration of Gothic work. Egyptian and Greek buildings stand, for the 
most part, by their own weight and mass, one stone passively incumbent on 
another : but in the Gothic vaults and traceries there is a stiffness analo- 
gous to that of the bones of a limb, or fibres of a tree ; an elastic tension 
and communication of force from part to part, and also a studious expres- 
sion of this throughout every visible line of the building. And, in like 
manner, the Greek and Egyptian ornament is either mere surface engraving, 
as if the fiftce of the wall had been stamped with a seal, or its lines are 
flowing, lithe, and luxuriant ; in either case, there is no expression of 
energy in the framework of the ornament itself. But the Gothic ornament 
stands out in prickly independence, and frosty fortitude, jutting into 
crockets, and freezing into pinnacles ; here starting up into a monster, there 
germinating into a blossom ; anon knitting itself into a branch, alternately 
thorny, bossy, and bristly, or writhed into every form of nervous entangle- 
ment ; but, even when most graceful, never for an instant languid, always 
quickset ; erring, if at all, ever on the side of brusquerie. 

The feelings or habits in the workman which give rise to this character 
in the work, are more complicated and various than those indicated by any 
other sculptural expression hitherto named. There is, first, the habit of 
hard and rapid working ; the industry of the tribes of the North, 
quickened by the coldness of the climate, and giving an expression of 
sharp energy to all they do, as opposed to the languor of the Southern 
trib^ however much of fire there may be in the heart of that 
languor, for lava itself may flow languidly. There is also the habit 
of finding enjoyment in the signs of cold, which is never found, I 
believe^ in the inhabitants of countries south of the Alps. Cold is to them 



OK THB NITUBE OF GOTHIC ABCHITE0T17SS. 33 

an unredeemed 6vil, to be saffered, and foiigotten as soon as may be ; but 
the loDg winter of ihe North foroes the Goth (I mean the EngJiRhmiui, 
Prenchmao, Dane, or German), if he would lead a hi^py life at all, to 
find sonroes of happiness in fonl weatlier as well as Mr, iaad to rejoice in 
the leafiess as well as in Uie shady forest. And this we do with all our 
iiearts ; finding perhaps nearly as much contentment by the Christmas fire 
as in the summer sunshine, and gaining health and E^zength on the iee- 
fifilds of winter, as well as among Uie meadows of spring. So that theie is 
nothing adverse or painful to our feelings in the cramped and stiffened 
structure of vegetation checked by cold ; and instead of seeking, like the 
fiouihem sculptor, to express only the sofibneBS of lea&ge nouri^ed in all 
tenderness, and tempted into all luxoiiaiioe by warm winds and glowing 
rays, we find pleasure in dwelling upon the crabbed, perverse, and morose 
animation of plants that have knownlitile kindnessfrom earth or heaven, but, 
iseason after season, bave had their best efforts palmed by ficost, their bri^test 
buds buried under snow, and their goodliest limbs lopped by tempest 

There are many subtle sympathies and affections which join to confirm 
the Gothic mind in this peculiar dioioe of sulgeet ; and when we add to the 
Influence of these, the necessitftes eonseqaent upon the employment of a 
rougher material, compelling the workman to seek for vigour of ^eot 
rather than refinement of texture or aoeuiaey of fi>nn, we have direct and 
manifest causes for much of the difference between the northeni and southern 
cast of conception : but there are indirect causes holding a £ur more impor- 
tant place in the GKithic heart, thoqgh leas immediate in th^ JnAuenofi on 
design. Sti-ength of will, independeooe of chaiaoter, resolutenesB of 
purpose, impatience of undue control, and that general tendency to set the 
individual reason against autilMNril^, and the individual deed against destiny, 
which, in the Northern tribes, hais oi^posed itself throm^out all ages to the 
langu^ submission, in the Southern, of Uiought to tradition, and purpoee 
to fiktality, are all more or less traceable in tibe rigid lines, vigorous and 
various masses, and daringly projecting and independent structure ci i^ 
Iforthem Gothic ornament : while the <9posite feedings are in like manner 
legible in the graceful and softly guided waves aad wreathed bands, in 
which Southern decoration is constantly disposed ; in its tendency to lose its 
independence, and fuse itself into the surface of the masses upon which it 
is traced ; and in the expression seen so oft^ in the anangement of those 
masses themselves, of an abandomnent of their strei^th to an inevitable 
necessity, or a listless repose. 

There is virtue in the measure, and error in the excess, of both iheK 
charactere of mind, and in both <^ the styles which they have created; 
the best architecture, and the best temper, are those which unite tiwm 
both ; and this fifth impulse of the Gothic heart is therefore that which 
needs most caution in its indulgence. It is more definitely Gt>thie than 
any other, but the best Gothic building is not that which is most Gothic : it 
ean hardly be too frank in its confession of rudeness, hardly too rich in its 
changefulness, hardly too fiiiithful in its naturalism ; but it may go too fior 
in its rigidity, aad, like the great Puritan spirit in its extreme, lose itself 
either in frivolity of division, or perversity of purpose.* It actually did so 
* See the account of the meeting at Talla Linna, in 1682, given in the foorth chapter 
of the "Heart of Midlothian." At lencth ihej srriTedftt the ooaofaiaioii that "Uiey 
who owned (or allowed) such names aa Monday, Tneadaj, January, Febraary, and ao 
forth, aervea themaelTes heirs to the same if not greater punianment than had bee» 
denounced against the idolaters of old." 



34 OK THE KATTTBB 07 GOTHIC ABCHITECTUBE. 

in itB later timefl ; but it is gladdening to remember that in its utmost 
nobleness, the rery temper which has been thought most adverse to it, the 
Protestant spirit of self-dependence and inquiry, was expressed in its every 
line. Faith and aspiration there were, in every Christian eoclesiasticid 
building, from the first century to the fifteenth ; but the moral habits to 
which England in this age owes the kind of greatness that she has, — the 
habits of philosophical investigation, of accurate thought, of domestic 
seclusion and independence, of stem self-reliance, and sincere upright 
searching into religious truth, — ^were only traceable in the features which 
were the distinctive creation of the Gothic schools, in the veined foliage, 
and thorny fretwbrk, and shadowy niche, and buttressed pier, and fearless 
height of subtle pinnacle and crested tower, sent like an ^'unperplexed 
question up to Heaven."* 

Last, because the least essential, of the constituent elements of this noble 
school, was placed that of Redundance, — ^the uncalculating bestowal of the 
wealth of its labour. There is, indeed, much Gl-othic, and that of the best 
period, in which this element is hardly traceable, and which depends for 
its effect almost exclusively on loveliness of simple design and grace of un- 
involved proportion : still, in the most characteristic buildings, a certain 
portion of their effect depends upon accumulation of ornament ; and many 
of those which have most influence on the minds of men, have attained it 
by means of this attribute alone. And, although, by careful study of the 
school, it is possible to arrive at a condition of taste which shall be better 
contented by a few perfect lines than by a whole fafade covered with fret- 
work, the building which only satisfies such a taste is not to be considered 
the best. For the very first requirement of Gl-othic architecture being,^ as 
we saw above, that it shall both admit the aid, and appeal to the admira- 
tion, of the [rudest as well as the most refined minds, the richness of the 
work is, paradoxical as the statement may appear, a part of its humility. 
Ko architecture is so haughty as that wUch is simple ; which refuses to 
address the eye, except in a few dear and forceful lines ; which implies, in 
offering so little to our regards, that all it has offered is perfect ; and dis- 
dains, either by the complexity or the attractiveness of its features, to em- 
barrass our investigation, or betray us into delight. That humility which 
is the very life of the Gfothic school, is shown not only in the imperfection, 
but in the accumulation, of ornament. The inferior rank of the workman 
is often shown as much in the richness as the roughness of his work ; and 
if the co-operatiion of every hand, and the sympathy of every heart, are to 
be receive^ ^^ m^utt be content to allow Hie redundance whidi disguises the 
&ilure of the feeble, and wins the regard of the inattentive. T^ere are, 
however, far nobler interests mingling, in the Qothic heart, with the rude 
love of decorative accumulation : a magnificent enthusiasm, which feels as 
if it never could do enough to reach the fulness of its ideal ; an unselfish- 
ness of sacrifice, which would rather cast fruitless labour before the altar 
than stand idle in the market ; and, finally, a profound sympathy with the 
fulness and wealth of the material universe, rising out of that Naturalism 
whose operation we have already endeavoured to define. The sculptor who 
sought for his models among the forest leaves, could not but quickly and 

* See the beautiAal description of Florence in EUzabeth Browning's " Caea Gnidt 
Windows," which is not only a noble poem, but the only book I have seen which, fa- 
vouring the Liberal cause in Italy, gires a just account of the incapacities of 
the modem Italian. 



ON THE NATUBS OV GOTHIC ABCHITECTXrBX. 35 

deeply feel that complexity need not involve the loss of grace, nor richness 
that of repose ; and every hour which he spent in the study of the minute 
and varioos work of Nature, made him feel more forcibly the barrenness of 
what was best in that of man : nor is it to be wondered at, that, seeing 
her perfect and exquisite creations' poured forth in a profusion which con- 
ception could not grasp nor calculation sum, he should think that it ill 
became him to be niggiudly of his own rude craftsmanship ; and where he 
saw throughout the universe a f&ultless beauty lavished on measureless 
spaces of broidered field and blooming mountain, to grudge his poor and 
imperfect labour to the few stones that he had raised one upon another, 
for habitation or memorial. The years of his life passed away before his 
task was accomplished ; but generation succeeded generation with un- 
wearied enthusiasm, and the ca&edral front was at last lost in the tapestry 
of its traceries, like a rock among the thickets and herbage of spring. 

We have now, I believe, obtained a view approaching to completeness of 
the various moral or imaginative elements which composed the inner spirit 
of Gothic architecture. We have, in the second place, to define its out- 
ward form. 

Now, as the Gothic spirit is made up of several elements, some of 
which may, in particular examx>le8, be wanting, so the Gothic form is 
made up of minor conditions of form, some of which may, in particular 
examples, be imperfectly developed. 

We cannot say, therefore, that a building is either Gothic or not Gothic 
in form, any more than we can in spirit. We can only say that it is 
more or less Gothic, in proportion to the number of Gothic forms which 
it unites. 

There have been made lately many subtle and ingenious endeavours to 
base the definition of Gothic form entirely upon the roof-vaulting ; endea- 
vours which are both forced and futile : for many of the best Gothic build- 
ings in the world have roofs of timber, which have no more connexion with 
the main structure of the walls of the edifice than a hat has with that of 
the head it protects ; and other Gh)thic buildings are merely enclosures of 
spaces, as ramparts and walls, or enclosures of s^ens or cloisters, and 
have no roofs at all, in the sense in which the word ''roof* is commonly 
accepted. But every reader who has ever taken ti^e slightest interest in 
architecture must know that there is a great popular impression on this 
matter, which maintains itself stiffly in its old form, in spite of all ratioci- 
nation and definition; namely, that a fiat lintel from pillar to pillar is 
Grecian, a round arch Norman or Romanesque, and a pointed arch Gt>thic. 

And the old popular notion, as far as it goes, is perfectly right, and can 
never be bettered. The most striking outward feature in all Gothic archi- 
tecture is, that it is composed of pointed arches, as in Bomanesque that it 
is in like manner composed of round ; and this distinction would be quite 
as clear, thou^ the roofs were taken off every cathedral in Europe. And 
yet, if we examine carefully into the real force and meaning of the term 
** roof," we shall perhaps be able to retain the old popular idea in a defini- 
tion of Gothic architecture which shall also express whatever dependence 
that architecture has upon true forms of roofing. 

In Chap. XIII. of the first volume, the reader will remember that roofs 
were considered as generally divided into two parts : the roof proper, that is 
to say, the shell, vault, or ceiling, internally visible ; and the roof-mask, 
which protects this lower roof from the weatiier. In some buildings these 



do OK THE NATURE OP GOTHIC AECHITECTTTEE. 

parts are united in one framework ; but, in most, they are more or less 
independent of each other, and in nearly all Qothic bnildings there is aoon- 
aiderable interval between them. 

Now it will often happen, as above noticed, that owing to the nature of 
the apartments required, or the materials at hand, the roof proper may be 
flat, cored, or domed, in buildings which in their walls employ pointed 
arches, and are, id the straitest sense of the word, Gbthic in all other 
respects. Tet so far forth as the roofing alone is concerned, they are not 
Gothic unless the pointed arch be the principal form adopted either in the 
stone vaulting or the timbers of the roof proper. 

I shall say then, in the first place, tiiat ** Gothic architecture is that 
which uses, if possible, the pointed arch in the roof proper." This is the 
first step in our definition. 

Secondly* Although there maybe manyadyisablo or necessary forms for 
the lower roof or ceiling, there is, in cold countries exposed to rain and 
snow, only one advisal^e form for iJie roof-mask, and that is the gable, for 
this alone will throw off both rain and snow from all parts of its surface as 
speedily as possible. Snow can lodge on the top of a dome, not on the 
ridge of a gable. And thus, as £ar as roofing is concerned, the gable is a 
far more essential feature of Northern architecture than the pointed -rault, 
for the one is a thorough necessity, the other often a graceful oonven- 
tionality ; the gable occurs in the timber roof of every dwelling-house and 
every cottage, but not the vault ; and the gable built on a polygonal or 
circular plan, is the origin of the turret and spire ;* and all the so-called 
aspiration of Gothic architecture is, as above noticed (Vol. I. Chap. XII. 
§ VI.), nothing more than its developement. So that we must add to our 
definition another clause, which will be, at present, by &r the most impor- 
tant, and it will stand thus : '* Gothic architecture is that which uses the 
pointed arch for the roof proper, and the gable for the roof-mask." 

And here, in passing, let us notice a principle as true in architecture as 
in morals. It is not the compelled, but the wUftd, transgression of law 
which corrupts the character. Sin is not in the act, but in tiie choice. It 
is a law for Gk)thic architecture, that it shall use the pointed arch for its 
roof proper; but because, in many cases of domestic building, this 
becomes impossible for want of room (the whole height of the apart- 
ment being required every where), or in various other ways inconvenient, 
flat ceilings may be used, and yet the Gh)thic shall not lose its purity. 
But in the roof-mask, th^ can be no necessity nor reason for a change of 
form : the gable is the best ; and if any other — dome, or bulging crown, or 
whatsoever else — ^be employed at all, it must be in pure caprice, and wilful 
transgression of law. And wherever, therefore, this is done, the Gothic 
has lost its character ; it is pure Gothic no more. 

And this last clause of the definition is to be more strongly insisted 
upon, because it includes multitudes of buildings, especially domestic, 
which are Gothic in spirit, but which we are not in the habit of embracing in 
our general conception of Gothic architecture ; multitudes of street dwelling- 
houses, and straggling country farm-houses, built with little care for 
beauty, or observance of Gothic laws in vaults or windows, and yet main 
taioing their character by the sharp and quaint gables of the roofs. And, 
for the reason just given, a house is £bt more Gothic which has square 

* Salisbury spire is oi^ a tower with a polygonal gabled roof of stone, and so also 
' "^"lited spires of daen and Coutaooes. 




ON THE BTATUEB OF GOTHIC ABCHITZCTITSE. 37 

windows, and a boldly gabled roof, than one which has pointed arches for 
the windows, and a domed or flat roof. For it often happened in the best 
Gothic times, as it must in all times, that it was more easy and convenient 
to make a window square than pointed : not but that, as above emphatically 
stated, the richness of church architecture was also found in domestic; 
and systematically **when the pointed arch was used in the church it was 
used in the street^'' only in all times there were cases in which men could 
not build as they would, and were obliged to construct their doors or 
windows in the readist way ; and this readiest way was then, in small 
work, as it will be to the end of 

time, to put a flat stone for & Pig. VIII. 

lintel, and build the windows as 
in Fig. Vin. ; and the occurrence 
of such windows in a building or 
a street will not un-Gt>thicize 
them, so long as the bold gable 
Toof be retained, and the ^irit of 
the work be visibly Gothic in 
other respects. But if the roof 
be wilfully and conspicuously of any other form than the gable, — ^if it be 
domed, or Turkish, or Chinese, — ^the building has positive corruption 
mingled with its Cbthic elements, in proportion to the conspicuousness of 
the roof; and, if not absolutely un-Gothicized, can maintain its character 
only by such vigour of vital Gothic energy in other parts as shall cause the 
roof to be forgotten, thrown off like an eschar from the living frame. 
KeverthelesB, we must always admit that it may be forgotten, and that if 
the Gothic seal be indeed set firmly on the walls, we are not to cavil at 
the forms reserved for the tiles and leads. For, observe, as our definition 
at present stands, being understood of large roofs only, it will allow a 
conical glass-furnace to be a Gothic building; but will not allow so 
much, either of the Duomo of Florence, or the Baptistery of Pisa. We 
must either mend it, therefore, or understand it in some broader sense. 

And now, if the reader will look back to the fifth paragraph of Chap. 
Ill, VoL I., he will find that I carefully extended my definition of a roof 
80 as to include more than is usually understood by the term. It was there 
said to be the covering of a space, narrow or wide. It does not in the 
least signify, with respect to the real nature of the covering, whether the 
space protected be two feet wide^ or ten ; though in the one case we call 
the protection an arch, in the other a vault or roof. But the real point to 
be considered isy the manner in which this protection stands, and not whe- 
ther it is narrow or broad. We call the vaulting of a bridge "an arch," 
because it is narrow with respect to the river it crosses ; but if it were 
built above us on the ground, we should call it a waggon vault, because 
then we should feel the breadth of it. The real question is the nature of 
the curve, not the extent of space over which it is carried : and this is 
more the ease with respect to Gothic than to any other architecture ; for, 
in the greater number of instances, the form of the roof is entirely depen- 
dent on the ribs ; the domical shells being ctmstmcted in all kinds of 
inclinations, quite indeterminable by the eye, and all that is definite in 
their character being fixed by the curves of the ribs. 

Let us then consider our definition as including the narrowest arch, or 
tracery bar, as well as the broadest roof, and it will be nearly a perfect one. 




Fig. X. 



38 ON THE NATUBE OF GOTHIC ABCHITECTUBE. 

Fig. DC For the fact is, that all good Qothic is nothing more than 
the development, in various ways, and on every conceivable 
scale, of the group formed by the pointed arch for the 
bearing line bdow, and the gaUe for the protecting line 
above ; and from the huge, grey, shaly slope of the 
cathedral roof, with its elastic pointed vaults beneath, 
to the slight crown-like points that enrich the smallest 
niche of its doorway, one law and one expression will be 
found in all. The modes of support and of decoration 
are infinitely various, but the real 
character of the building, in all 
good Gfothic, depends upon the single 
lines of the gable over the pointed 
arch. Fig. IX., endlessly rearranged 
or repeated. G?he larger woodcut, 
Fig. X., represents three character- 
istic conditions of the treatment of 
the group ; a, from a tomb at Verona 
(1328) ; by one of the lateral porches 
at Abbeville ; c, one of tiie up 
permost points of the great western 
facade of Bouen Cathedral ; both 
these last being, I believe, early 
work of the fifteenth century. The 
forms of the pure early English 
and French Gothic are too well 
known to need any notice ; my 
reason will appear presently for 
choosing, by way of example, these 
somewhat rare conditions. 

But, first, let us try whether we 
cannot get the forms of the other 
great architectures of the world 
broadly expressed by relations of 
the same lines into which we have 
compressed the Qothic. We may 
easily do this if the reader will first 
allow me to remind him of the true 
nature of the pointed arch, as it was 
expressed in § x. Chap. X. of the 
first volume. It was said there, 
that it ought to be called a *' curved 
gable," for, strictly speaking, an 
* * arch" cannot be * * pointed.'* The 
so-called pointed arch ought always 
to be considered as a gable, with its 
sides curved in order to enable them 
to bear pressure from without. 
Thus considering it, there are but 
three ways in which an interval 
between piers can be bridged, — ^the 
three ways represented by a b and 




ON THB KATXSBB OF GOTHIC ABCHITECTUBS. 



39 




c, Fig. XL, A, the lintel; b, 
the ronnd arch; o, the gable. 
All the architects in the world 
will never discover any other ways 
of bridging a space than these 
three ; they may vary the curve of 
the arch, or cnrve the sides of the 
gable, or break them ; bat in doing 
this they are merely modifying or 
subdividing, not adding to the 
generic forms. 

Now there are three good archi- 
tectures in the world, and there 
never can bo more, correspondent to 
each of these three simple ways of 
covering in a space, which is the 
original function of all architectures. 
And those three ai'chitectures are 
pure exactly in proportion to the 
simplicity and directness with which c 

they express the condition of roof- 
ing on which they are founded. They have many interesting varieties, 
according to their scale, manner of decoration, and character of the nations 
by whom tiiey are practised, but all their varieties are finally referable 
to the three great heads — 

A, Greek : Architecture of the Fig. XI. 

Lintel. 

B, Komanesque: Architecture 

of the Eound Arch. 

c, Qothic: Architecture of the 

Gable. a b o 

The three names, Greek, Komanesque, and Gothic, are indeed inaccu- 
rate when used in this vast sense, because they imply national limitations ; 
but the three architectures may nevertheless not unfitly receive their 
names from those nations by whom they were carried to the highest perfec- 
tion. We may thus briefly state their existing varieties. 

A. Grbbk : Lintel Architecture. The worst of the three ; and, con- 
mdered, with reference to stone construction, always in some measure 
barbarous. Its simplest tyx)e is Stonehenge; its most refined, the Par- 
thenon ; its noblest, the Temple of Eamak. 

In the hands of the Egyptian, it is sublime ; in those of the Greek, pure ; 
in those of the Boman, rich ; and in those of the Renaissance builder, 
effeminate. 

B. BoMANBSQUB *. Bouud-arch Architecture. Never thoroughly deve- 
loped until Christian times. It falls into two great branches, Eastern and 
Western, or Byzantine and Lombardic ; changing respectively in process of 
time, with certain helps from each other, into Arabian Gothic, and Teu- 
tonic Gothic. Its most perfect Lombardic type is the Duomo of Pisa ; its 
most perfect Byzantine type (I believe), St. Mark's at Venice. Its highest 
glory is, that it has no corruption. It perishes in giving birth to another 
architecture as noble as itself. 



(n ^ 



40 Oir THE NATirSS OT GOTHIC ABCHITSCTrBB. 

0. Gothic : Architecture of the Gable. The daughter of the Boman- 
esque; and, like the Bomanesqne, divided into two great branches. 
Western and Eastern, or Pure Gothic and Arabian Gothic ; of which the 
latter is called Gothic, only because it has many €K>thic forms, pointed 
arches, vaults, &c., but its spirit remains Bysantine, more especially in 
the form of the ro<^-maak, of which with respect to these three great fiuni* 
lies, we have next to determine the tyjMcal form. 

For, observe, the distinctions we have hitiierto beeii stating depend on the 
form of the stones first laid from pier to pier ; tiiat is to say, of the simplest 
condition of rooHs proper. Adding the relations of the roof-mask to these 
lines, we shall have the perfect type of form for each school. 

Tig- TTT, In theGreek, the Western 



A 



j^ 



Bomanesque^ and Western 
Gothie, the roof-mask is 
the gable; in the Eastern 
Bomanesqne, and Eastern 
y\. €K>thic, it is the d<Mne : but 

' N I have not studied the roof- 

ing ci either of these last two 
groups, and shall not venture 
to generalize them in a dia- 
^ gram. But the three groups, 

in the hands of the Western builders, may be thus simply represented r 
o, Fig. XII., Greek;* 5, Western Bomanesque; e, Western, or true, 
Gothic. 

Now, observe, first, that the relation of the roof-mask to tlie roof proper,, 
in the Greek type, forms that pediment which gives its most striking 
character to the temple, and .is the principal recipient of its sculptural 
decoration. The relation of these lines, therefore, is just as important in 
the Greek as in the Gothic schools. 

Secondly, ihe reader must observe the d^erenee of steepness in the 
Bomanesque and Gothic gables. This is not an unimportant distinction, 
nor an undecided one. The Bomanesque gable does not pass gradually 
into the more elevated form ; there is a great gulf between the two : the 
whole effect of all Southern architecture being dependent upon the use of 
the flat gable, and of all Northern upon that of the acute. I need not 
here dwdl upon the difference between the lines of an Italian village, or 
the flat tops of most Italian towers, and the peaked gables and spires of 
the North, attaining their most fantastic developement, I believe, in Bel- 
gium : but it may be well to state the law of separation, namely, that a 
6k)thie gable mtut have all its angles acute, and a Bomanesque one 
mwt have the upper one obtuse : or, to give the reader a simple practical 
rule, take any gable^ a or b. Fig. XIII., on the next page, and strike a semi- 

* The reader is not to snppose that Greek arehiteotiire had ahniye, <nr often, flat 
ceiHngs, becaose I call its lintel the roof pKHMr. He mast remember I alwa^ use 
these tenns of the first simple arrangements of materials that bridee a space ; brmging 
in tfa« real roof afterwards, if I can. In the ease of Greek temples it wonld be yain 
to refer their stmctare to the real roof, for many wore hnMsthrai, and without a noi 
at aQ. I am onfortunatefy more ignorant of Egjrptian roofing than even of Arabian, so 
that I cannot brine this school into the diagram; bat the gable appears to have been 
macn^ently used for a bearing roof. See Mr. Fergnsson's sectum of the Fpimid 
of eeeseh, "Principles of Beauty in Art," Plate L, and his ezpresaiODS of admiratioa 
of Egyptian roof masonry, page 201. 



ON THE NA,TTTSE OF GOTHIC ABCHITECTtTBE. 



Fig. XIII. 



41 





circle onits base ; if its top rises 
aboTe the semicircle, as at h, 
it is a Gothic gable ; if it falls 
beneath it, a Romanesque one ; 
bnt the best forms in each 
group are those which are 
distinctly- steep, or distinctly 
low. In the figure, / is, per- 
haps, the ayerage of Euman- 
esque slope, and g of Gotiiic. 

But although we do not find 
a transition from, one school 
into the other in the slope of 
the gables, there is often a 
confusion between the two / 9 

schools in the association of the 

gable with the arch below it. It has just been stated that the pure Ro- 
manesque condition is the round arch under the low gable, a, Fig. XIV. 
and the pure GK)thic condition is the pointed arch under the high gable, 6. 
But in the passage from one style to the other, we sometimes find the 
conditions reversed ; the pointed arch under a low gable, as d, or the 
two round arch under a high gable, as c. The form d occurs in the tombs 
of Yerona, and c in the doors of Venice. 

Fig. XIV. 




r\ 




We have thus determined the relation of Gbthic to the other archi- 
tectures of the world, as fScur as regards the main lines of its construction ; 
but there is still one word which needs to be added to our definition of its 
form, with respect to a part of its decoration, which rises out of that 
construction. We have seen that the first condition of its form is, 
that it shall have pointed arches. When Gothic is perfect, therefore, 
it will follow that the pointed arches must be built in the strongest 
possible manner. 

Now, if the reader wiU look back to Chapter XI. of Vol. I., he will 
find the subject of the masonry of the pointed arch discussed at length, 
and l^e conclusion deduced, that of all possible forms of the pointed^rch 
(a certain weight of material being given), that generically represent^ at 
e,. Fig. XV., on the next page, is the strongest. In fact, the reader 



Ojr THE KATITSE OT GOTHIC ABGHITBCTtrBS. 




Kg. XV. can see in a moment that the 

weakness of the pointed arch is 
in its flanks, and that by merely 
thickening them gradually at 
this point all chance of fractnre 
is remoTed. Or, perhaps, more 
simply stUl : — Suppose a gable 
built of stone, as at a, and 
pressed upon firom without by a 
weight in the direction of the 
arrow, clearly it would be liable 
to &11 in, as at 6. To preyent 
this, we make a pointed arch 
of it, as at c/ and now it cannot 
faU inwards, but if pressed upon 
from aboTe may give wslj out- 
wards, as at d. But at last we 
build it as at 0, and now it can 
neither fall out nor in. 

The forms of arch thus ob- 
tained, with a pointed projection 
called a cusp on each side, 
must for ever be delightfal to 
the human mind, as beiog ex- 
pressive of the utmost strength 
and permanency obtainable with 
c a given mass of material. But 

it was not by any such process of 
reasoning, nor with any reference to laws of construction, that the cusp 
was originally invented. It is merely the special application to the arch 
of the great ornamental system of Foliation ; or the adaptation of the forms 
of leafage which has been above insisted upon as the principal characteristic of 

Gothic Naturalism. This love of foliage 
was exactly proportioned, in its inten- 
sity, to the increase of strength in the 
Qotiiic spirit : in the Southern Gk>thic it 
is soft leafage that is most loved; 
in the Northern, thorny leafage. And 
if we take up any Northern illuminated 
manusoript of the great Gothic time, 
we shall find eveiy one of its leaf oma* 
ments surrounded by a thorny structure 
laid round it in gold or in colour; 
sometimes apparently copied &ithfully 
from the prickly development of the 
root of the leaf in the thistle, running 
along the stems and braaches exactly 
as the thistle leaf does along its own 
stem, and with sharp spines proceeding 
from the points, as in Fig. XYI. At 
other times, and for the most part in 
work of the thirteenth century, the 



Fig. XVI. 




OS THX KATtTBB 07 GOTHIC ABCHITXCTUBB. 42 

golden ground takes the fonn of pure and seyere cnsps, sometimes en- 
closing ^e leaves, sometimes filling up the forks of the branches (as in the 
example fig. 1. Plate I. Vol: III.), passing imperceptibly from the distinctly 



Kg. XVII. 




T^etable condition (in which it is 
just as certainly representative of 
the thorn, as other parts of the de- 
sign are of the bud, leaf, and fruit) 
into the crests on the necks, or the 
membranous sails of the wings, 
of serpents, dragons, and other 
grotesques, as in Fig. XVIL, and 
into rich and vagae fantasies of 
curvature; among which, however, 
the pure cusped system of the 
pointed arch is continually dis- 
cernible, not accidentally, but de- 
signedly indicated, and connecting 
itself with the liteiallyarchitectural 
portions of the design. 

The system, then, of what is 
called Foliation, whether simple, as in the cusped arch, or complicated, 
as in tracery, rose out of this love of leafage ; not that the form of the arch 
is intended to imitcUe a leaf, but to be invested with the same cJiaracters of 
hecmty which the designer had discovered in the leaf. Observe, there is a 
wide difference between these two intentions. The idea that large Gothic 
structure, in arches and roofs, was intended to imitate vegetation is, i& 
above noticed, untenable for an instant in the front of facts. But the 
GK)thic builder perceived that, in the leaves which he copied for his minor 
decorations, there was a peculiar beauty, arising from certain characters 
of curvature in outline, and certain methods of subdivision and of radiation 
in structure. On a small scale, in his sculptures and his missal-painting, 
he copied the leaf or thorn itself; on a la^e scale he adopted from it its 
Abstract sources of beauty, and gave the same kinds of curvatures and the 
same species of subdivision to the outline of his arches, so far as was con- 
sistent with their strength, never, in any single instance, suggesting the 
resemblance to leafikge by irregularity <tf outline^ but keeping the structure 
perfectly simple, and, as we have seen, so consistent with the best principles 
of masonry, that in the finest Gothic designs of arches, which are always 
m^Ze-cusped (the cinquefoiled arch being licentious, though in early work 
often very lovely), it is literally impossible, without consulting the context 
of the building, to say whether the ousps have been added for the sake of 
beauty or of strength ; nor, though in mediaeval architecture l&ey were, I 
believe, assuredly first employed in mere love of their picturesque form, am 
I absolutely certain that their earliest invention was not a structural effort. 
For the earliest cusps with which I am acquainted are those used in the 
vaults of the great galleries of the Serapeum, discovered in 1850 by M. 
ACaniette at Memphis, and described by Colonel Hamilton in a paper read 
in February last before the Royal Society of Literature.* The roofs of its 
galleries were admirably shown in Colonel Hamilton's drawings made to 
scale upon the spot, and their profile is a cusped round arch, perfectly pure 



* See " Atheiueun," Maroh 61^, 1S63. 



4A OTS THE NATUBB OF GOTHIC ABCHITBCTUBB. 

and simple; but whether thrown into this form for the sake of strength or 
of grace, I am unable to say. 

It is evident, howerer, that the structural advantage of the cusp is 
available only in the case of arches on a comparatively small scale. If the 
arch becomes very large, the projections under the flanks must become too 
ponderous to be secure ; the suspended weight of stone would be liable to 
break off, and such arches are therefore never constructed with heavy 
cusps, but rendered secure by general mass of masonry ; and with ad- 
ditional appearance of support may be thought necessary (sometimes a 
considerable degree of actual support) is given by means of tnicery. 

Of what I stated in the second chapter of the *^ Seven Lamps" respect- 
ing the nature of tracery, I need repeat here only this much, that it bisgan 
in the use of penetrations through the stonework of windows or walls, cut 
into forms which looked like stars when seen from within, and like leaves 
when seen from without ; the name foil or feuille being universally applied 
to the separate lobes of their extremities, and the pleasure received from 
them bemg the same as that which we feel in the triple, quadruple, or 
Pig. XVIII. other radiated leaves of vegeta- 

tion, joined with the percep- 
tion of a severely geometrical 
order and symmetry. A few 
of the most common forms are 
represented, unconfused by ex- 
terior mouldings, in Fig. XYIII. 
and the best traceries are no- 
thing more than close clusters 
of such forms, with mouldings 
following their outlines. 

The term "foliated," there- 
fore, is equally descriptive of 
the most perfect conditions both 
of the simple arch and of the 
traceries by which, in ' later 
Gothic, it is filled; and this 
foliation is an essential charac- 
ter of the style. No Gothic is 
either good or characteristic, 
which is not foliated either in 
its arches or apertures. Some- 
times the bearing arches are 
foliated, and the ornamentation 
above composed of figure sculp- 
I ture ; sometimes the bearing 
arches are plain, and the orna- 
mentation above them is com- 
posed of foliated apertures. 
But the element of foliation must enter somewhere, or the style is imper- 
fect. And our final definition of Gothic will, therefore, stand thus : — 

** Foliated Architecture, which uses the pointed arch for the roof proper, 
and the gable for the roof-mask. " 
And now there is but one point more to be examined, and we have done. 
Foliation, while it is the most distinctive and peculiar, is also the easiest 



Pig. XVIII. • 

AAAA 

%f# ntn %i# « 

^^^^^^ ^^^^^m^ ^^^^^^m^ 



OK T,HS KATUBE OF GOTHIC ABCHITECTUBE. 



45 



method of decoratdon which Gothic architecture possesses ; and, although 
in the disposition of the proportions and forms of foils, the most noble imagi- 
nation may be shown, yet a builder without imagination at all, or any 
other faculty of design, can produce some e£fect upon the mass of his work 
by merely covering it with foolish foliation. Throw any number of crossmg 
Ihies together at random, as _ ^j^ 

in Fig. XIX., and fill all irig.AiA. 

their squares and oblong 
openings with quatrefoils and 
cinquefoils, and you will im- 
mediately have what will 
stand, with most people, for 
very satisfactory Gothic. The 
slightest possible acquaint- 
ance with existing forms will 
enable any architect to vary 
his patterns of foliation with 
as much ease as he would 
those of a kaleidoscope, and 
to produce a building which 
the present European public 
will think magnificent, though 
there may not be, from foun- 
dation to coping, one ray of 
invention, or any other intel- 
lectual merit, in the whole 
mass of it. But floral deco- 
ration, and the disposition of 
mouldings, require some skill and thought ; and, if they are to be agreeable 
at all, must be verily invented, or accurately copied. They cannot be 
drawn altogether at random, without becoming so commonplace as to involve 
detection ; and although, as I have just said, the noblest imagination may 
be shown in the disposition of traceries, there is far more room for its play 
and power when those traceries are associated with floral or animal orna- 
ment ; and it is probable, d priori, that, wherever true invention exists, 
such ornament will be employed in profusion. 

Now, all Gothic may be divided into two vast schools, one early, the 
other late ;* of which the former, noble, inventive, and progressive, uses 
the element of foliation moderately, that of floral and figure-scxdpture deco- 
ration profusely ; the latter, ignoble, uninventive, and declining, uses 
foliation immoderately, floral and figure-sculpture subordinately. The two 
schools touch each other at that instant of momentous change, dwelt upon 
in the ** Seven Lamps," chap. ii. p. 64, a period later or earlier in dif- 
ferent districts, but which may be broadly stated as the middle of the 
fourteenth century ; both styles being, of course, in their highest excellence 
at the moment when they meet ; the one ascending to the point of junction, 
the other declining from it, but, at first, not in any marked degree, and 
only showing the characters which justify its being above called, generically, 
ignoble, as its declension reaches steeper slope. 

* Late, and chiefly confined to northern countries, so that the two schools may be 
opposed either as Early and Late Gothic, or (in the fourteenth century) as Southern 
and Northern Gothic. 




46 



Oir THE Ni-TUBE OP €K>THIC ABCHITXCTtrBE. 



Of these two great sdiools, the first uses foliation only in large and 
simple masses, and oovezs the minor members, cnsps, &e., of that foliation 
with Tarions scolptore. The hitter decorates folktion itself with min<»r 
foliation, and breaks its traceries into endless and lace-like subdivision of 
tracery.* 

We have now, I believe, obtained a sufficiently accnrate knowledge both 
of the spirit and form of Gothic architecture; but it may, perhaps, be 
useful to the general reader, if, in conclusion, I set down a few plain and 
practical rules for determining, in every instance, whether a given building 
be good Gothic or not, and, if not Gbthic, whether its architecture is of a 
kind which will probably reward the pains of careful examination. 

First. Look if the roof rises in a steep gable, high above the walls. If 
it does not do this, there is something wrong; the building is not quite 
pure Gothic, or has been altered. 

Secondly. Look if the principal windows and doors have pointed arches 
with gables over them. If not pointed arches, the building is not Gothic ; 
if they have not any gables over them, it is either not pure, or not first- 
te. 

If, however, it has the steep roof, the pointed arch, 
Ilg. XX. and gable all united, it is nearly certain to be a Gothic 

building of a very fine time. 

Thirdly. Look if the arches are cusped, or aper- 
tures foliated. If the building has met the first two 
conditions, it is sure to be foliated somewhere ; but, 
if not everywhere, the parts which are unfoliated 
are imperfect, unless they are large bearing arches, 
or small and sharp arches in groups, forming a kind 
of foliation by their own multiplicity, and relieved 
by sculpture and rich mouldings. The upper win- 
dows, for instance, in the east end of Westminster Abbey 
are imperfect for want of foliation. If there be no 
foliation anywhere, the building is assuredly im- 
perfect Gothic. 

• The superiority of the Early, or Surface-Gothic, \rill 
be oom^etely fielt, when we compare it with the more de- 
graded jLinear schools, as, for instance, with our own En^ 
glish Perpendicular. The ornaments of a Veronese niche, 
which I hietTe before used as an example, are by no means 
amon^ the best of their school, yet they will serve our pur- 
pose tor such a comparison. That of its pinnacle is com- 
posed of a single upright flowering plant, of which the stem 
shoots up through the centres ot tne leaves, and bears a 
pendent blossom, somewhat like that of the imperial Ifly. 
The leaves are thrown back from the stem with sinstQar 
grace and freedom, and foreshortened, as if by a skilful 
painter, in the shallow marble relief. Their arran^ment is 
roughly shown in the little woodcut at the side (Fig. XX.) ; 
and if the reader will simply try the experiment for himself, 
— first, of covering a piece of paper with crossed lines, as if 
for accounts, and filling all the interstices with any foliation 
that comes into his head, as in Fig. XIX. p. 46 ; and then, 
of trying to fill the point of a gable with a piece of leafage 
like that in Fig. Xa., putting the figure itself aside,->ha 
will presently find that more thought and invention are 
required to design this single minute pinnacle, than to 
cover acres of ground with En^^ish perpendicular. 




OH THB NAT0BB OF GOTHIC ASCHITECTUBB. 47 

Pourtihly. If the building meets all the fiist thme ooiifitioiiB, look if its 
arches in general, whether of windows and doors, or of minor ornamentation, 
are carried on true thafts vjvtk bases and capkals. If they are, then the 
building is assuredly of the finest €K>tiiic style. It may still, perhaps, be 
an imitation, a feeble copy, or a bad example, of a noble style ; but the 
manner of it, having met all these four conditions, is assuredly first-rate. 

If its apertures have not shafts and capitals, look if they are plain open- 
ings in the walls, studiously simple, and unmoulded at the sides. If so, the 
building may still be of t^e finest Gothic, adapted to some domestic or 
military service. But if the sides of the window be moulded, and yet there 
are no capitals at the spring of the arch, it is assuredly of an inferior 
school. 

This is all that is necessary to determine whether the building be of a 
fine Gothic style. The next tests to be applied are in order to discover 
whether it be good architecture or not : for it may be very impure Gothic, 
and yet very noble architecture ; or it may be very pure Gothic, and yet, if 
a copy, or originally raised by an ungifted builder, very bad architecture. 

If it belong to any of the great schools of colour, its criticism becomes as 
complicated, and needs as much care, as that of a piece of music, and no 
general rules for it can be given ; but if not — 

First. See if it looks as if it had been built by strong men ; if it has the 
sort of roughness, and largeness, and nonchalanoe, mixed in places with the 
exquisite tenderness which seems always to be the sign-manual of the 
broad vision, and massy power of men who can see past the work they are 
doing, and betray here and there something like disdain for it. If the 
builSng has this character, it is much alr^y in its favour ; it will go 
hard but it proves a noble one. If it has not this, but is altogether accu- 
rate, minute, and scrupulous in its workmanship, it must belong to either 
the very best or the very worst of schools : the very best, in which exqui- 
site design is wrought out with untiring and conscientious care, as in the 
Giottesque GK)thic ; or the yery worst, in which mechanism has taken the 
place of demgn. It is more likely, in general, that it should belong to the 
worst than the best : so that, on the whole, very accurate workmanship is 
to be esteemed a bad sign ; and if there is nothing remarkable about the 
building but its precision, it may be passed at once with contempt. 

Secondly. Observe if it be irregular, its different parts fitting themselves 
to different purposes, no one caring what becomes of them, so that they 
do their work. If one part always answers accurately to another part, it is 
sure to be a bad building; and the greater and more conspicuous the 
irregularities, the greater the chauces are that it is a good one. 

Thirdly. Observe if all the traceries, capitals, and other ornaments are 
of perpetually varied design. If not, the work is assuredly bad. 

Lastly. Read the sculpture. Preparatory to reading it, you will have 
to discover whether it is legible (and, if legible, it is nearly certain to be 
worth reading). On a good building the sculpture is always so set, and on 
such a scale, that at the ordinary distance from which the edifice is seen, 
the sculpture shall be thoroughly intelligible and interesting. In order to 
accomplish this the uppermost statues wUl be ten or twelve feet high, and the 
upper ornamentation will be colossal, increasing in fineness as it descends, 
till on the foundation it will often be wrought as if for a precious cabinet in 
a king's chamber ; but the spectator will not notice that the upper sculptures 



48 ON THE KATUBE OF OOTHIC ABCHHteCTTTBE. 

are colossal. He -will merely feel that he can see them plainly, and make 
them all ont at his ease. 

And, having ascertained this, let him set himself to read them. Thence- 
forward the criticism of the building is to be conducted precisely on the 
same principles as that of a book ; and it must depend on the knowledge, 
feeling, and not a little on the industry and perseverance of the reader, 
wheUier, even in the case of the best works, he either perceive them to be 
great, or feel them to be entertaining. 



[The profits ariiinj from the mle of this pamphlet mil he offered to the 
Working Men's College, 81, Red Lion Squarey London.] 



.<: 



#<f^. 



Kenny, Trinter, 5, Hcathcock Court, Strand.