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Title: The Poetry of Architecture

Author: John Ruskin

Release Date: February 16, 2006 [EBook #17774]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE POETRY OF ARCHITECTURE ***




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THE COMPLETE WORKS OF JOHN RUSKIN

VOLUME I


POETRY OF ARCHITECTURE

SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE



[Illustration: J. Ruskin]




Library Edition


THE COMPLETE WORKS OF JOHN RUSKIN


POETRY OF ARCHITECTURE
SEVEN LAMPS
MODERN PAINTERS

VOLUME I


NATIONAL LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
NEW YORK, CHICAGO




THE POETRY OF ARCHITECTURE;

OR,

THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE NATIONS OF EUROPE
CONSIDERED IN ITS ASSOCIATION WITH NATURAL SCENERY
AND NATIONAL CHARACTER.




CONTENTS.


                                                    PAGE
INTRODUCTION                                           1


_PART I._--THE COTTAGE.

  I. THE LOWLAND COTTAGE--ENGLAND AND FRANCE           7

 II. THE LOWLAND COTTAGE--ITALY                       15

III. THE MOUNTAIN COTTAGE--SWITZERLAND                25

 IV. THE MOUNTAIN COTTAGE--WESTMORELAND               35

  V. A CHAPTER ON CHIMNEYS                            45

 VI. THE COTTAGE--CONCLUDING REMARKS                  57


_PART II._--THE VILLA.

  I. THE MOUNTAIN VILLA--LAGO DI COMO                 67

 II. THE MOUNTAIN VILLA--LAGO DI COMO (CONTINUED)     80

III. THE ITALIAN VILLA (CONCLUDED)                    94

 IV. THE LOWLAND VILLA--ENGLAND                      104

  V. THE ENGLISH VILLA--PRINCIPLES OF COMPOSITION    113

 VI. THE BRITISH VILLA.--PRINCIPLES OF COMPOSITION.
     (THE CULTIVATED, OR BLUE COUNTRY, AND THE
     WOODED, OR GREEN COUNTRY)                       126

VII. THE BRITISH VILLA.--PRINCIPLES OF COMPOSITION.
     (THE HILL, OR BROWN COUNTRY)                    145




LIST OF PLATES.


                                                        Facing Page
Fig. 1. Old Windows; from an early sketch by the Author          13

 "   2. Italian Cottage Gallery, 1846                            20

        Cottage near la Cite, Val d'Aosta, 1838                  21

 "   3. Swiss Cottage, 1837. (Reproduced from the
        Architectural Magazine)                                  28

 "   4. Cottage near Altorf, 1835                                29

 "   5. Swiss Chalet Balcony, 1842                               32

 "   6. The Highest House in England, at Malham                  42

 "   7. Chimneys. (Eighteen sketches redrawn from the
        Architectural Magazine)                                  48

 "   8. Coniston Hall, from the Lake near Brantwood, 1837.
        (Reproduced from the Architectural Magazine)             50

 "   9. Chimney at Neuchatel; Dent du Midi and Mont Blanc in
        the distance                                             20

 "  10. Petrarch's Villa, Arqua, 1837. (Redrawn from the
        Architectural Magazine)                                  98

 "  11. Broken Curves. (Three diagrams, redrawn from the
        Architectural Magazine)                                 101

 "  12. Old English Mansion, 1837. (Reproduced from the
        Architectural Magazine)                                 116

 "  13. Windows. (Three designs, reproduced from the
        Architectural Magazine)                                 122

 "  14. Leading Lines of Villa-Composition. (Diagram redrawn
        from the Architectural Magazine)                        164




PREFATORY NOTES.


Of this work Mr. RUSKIN says in his Autobiography:--"The idea had come
into my head in the summer of '37, and, I imagine, rose immediately out
of my sense of the contrast between the cottages of Westmoreland and
those of Italy. Anyhow, the November number of Loudon's _Architectural
Magazine_ for 1837 opens with 'Introduction to the Poetry of
Architecture; or the Architecture of the Nations of Europe considered in
its Association with Natural Scenery and National Character,' by Kata
Phusin. I could not have put in fewer, or more inclusive words, the
definition of what half my future life was to be spent in discoursing
of; while the _nom-de-plume_ I chose, 'ACCORDING TO NATURE,' was equally
expressive of the temper in which I was to discourse alike on that, and
every other subject. The adoption of a _nom-de-plume_ at all implied (as
also the concealment of name on the first publication of 'Modern
Painters') a sense of a power of judgment in myself, which it would not
have been becoming in a youth of eighteen to claim...."

"As it is, these youthful essays, though deformed by assumption, and
shallow in contents, are curiously right up to the points they reach;
and already distinguished above most of the literature of the time, for
the skill of language, which the public at once felt for a pleasant gift
in me." (_Praeterita_, vol. I. chap. 12.)

In a paper on "My First Editor," written in 1878, Mr. Ruskin says of
these essays that they "contain sentences nearly as well put together as
any I have done since."

The Conductor of the _Architectural Magazine_ in reviewing the year's
work said (December, 1838):--"One series of papers, commenced in the
last volume and concluded in the present one, we consider to be of
particular value to the young architect. We allude to the 'Essays on the
Poetry of Architecture,' by Kata Phusin. These essays will afford little
pleasure to the mere builder, or to the architect who has no principle
of guidance but precedent; but for such readers they were never
intended. They are addressed to the young and unprejudiced artist; and
their great object is to induce him to think and to exercise his
reason.... There are some, we trust, of the rising generation, who are
able to free themselves from the trammels and architectural bigotry of
Vitruvius and his followers; and it is to such alone that we look
forward for any real improvement in architecture as an art of design and
taste."

The essays are in two parts: the first describing the cottages of
England, France, Switzerland, and Italy, and giving hints and directions
for picturesque cottage-building. The second part treats of the villas
of Italy and England--with special reference to Como and Windermere; and
concludes with a discussion of the laws of artistic composition, and
practical suggestions of interest to the builders of country-houses.

It was the Author's original intention to have proceeded from the
cottage and the villa to the higher forms of Architecture; but the
Magazine to which he contributed was brought to a close shortly after
the completion of his chapters on the villa, and his promise of farther
studies was not redeemed until ten years later, by the publication of
_The Seven Lamps of Architecture_, and still more completely in _The
Stones of Venice_.

Other papers contributed by Mr. Ruskin to the same Magazine, on
Perspective, and on the proposed monument to Sir Walter Scott at
Edinburgh, are not included in this volume, as they do not form any part
of the series on the Poetry of Architecture.

The text is carefully reprinted from the _Architectural Magazine_. A few
additional notes are distinguished by square brackets.

A few of the old cuts, necessary to the text, are reproduced, and some
are replaced by engravings from sketches by the Author. Possessors of
the _Architectural Magazine_, vol. V., will be interested in comparing
the wood-cut of the cottage in Val d'Aosta (p. 104 of that volume) with
the photogravure from the original pencil drawing, which faces p. 21 of
this work. It is much to be regretted that the original of the Coniston
Hall (fig. 8; p. 50 of this work) has disappeared, and that the Author's
youthful record of a scene so familiar to him in later years should be
represented only by the harsh lines of Mr. Loudon's engraver.

THE EDITOR.




INTRODUCTION.


1. The Science of Architecture, followed out to its full extent, is one
of the noblest of those which have reference only to the creations of
human minds. It is not merely a science of the rule and compass, it does
not consist only in the observation of just rule, or of fair proportion:
it is, or ought to be, a science of feeling more than of rule, a
ministry to the mind, more than to the eye. If we consider how much less
the beauty and majesty of a building depend upon its pleasing certain
prejudices of the eye, than upon its rousing certain trains of
meditation in the mind, it will show in a moment how many intricate
questions of feeling are involved in the raising of an edifice; it will
convince us of the truth of a proposition, which might at first have
appeared startling, that no man can be an architect, who is not a
metaphysician.

2. To the illustration of the department of this noble science which may
be designated the Poetry of Architecture, this and some future articles
will be dedicated. It is this peculiarity of the art which constitutes
its nationality; and it will be found as interesting as it is useful, to
trace in the distinctive characters of the architecture of nations, not
only its adaptation to the situation and climate in which it has arisen,
but its strong similarity to, and connection with, the prevailing turn
of mind by which the nation who first employed it is distinguished.

3. I consider the task I have imposed upon myself the more necessary,
because this department of the science, perhaps regarded by some who
have no ideas beyond stone and mortar as chimerical, and by others who
think nothing necessary but truth and proportion as useless, is at a
miserably low ebb in England. And what is the consequence? We have
Corinthian columns placed beside pilasters of no order at all,
surmounted by monstrosified pepper-boxes, Gothic in form and Grecian in
detail, in a building nominally and peculiarly "National"; we have Swiss
cottages, falsely and calumniously so entitled, dropped in the
brick-fields round the metropolis; and we have staring square-windowed,
flat-roofed gentlemen's seats, of the lath and plaster,
mock-magnificent, Regent's Park description, rising on the woody
promontories of Derwentwater.

4. How deeply is it to be regretted, how much is it to be wondered at,
that, in a country whose school of painting, though degraded by its
system of meretricious coloring, and disgraced by hosts of would-be
imitators of inimitable individuals, is yet raised by the distinguished
talent of those individuals to a place of well-deserved honor; and the
studios of whose sculptors are filled with designs of the most pure
simplicity, and most perfect animation; the school of architecture
should be so miserably debased!

5. There are, however, many reasons for a fact so lamentable. In the
first place, the patrons of architecture (I am speaking of all classes
of buildings, from the lowest to the highest), are a more numerous and
less capable class than those of painting. The general public, and I say
it with sorrow, because I know it from observation, have little to do
with the encouragement of the school of painting, beyond the power which
they unquestionably possess, and unmercifully use, of compelling our
artists to substitute glare for beauty. Observe the direction of public
taste at any of our exhibitions. We see visitors at that of the Society
of Painters in Water Colors, passing Tayler with anathemas and Lewis
with indifference, to remain in reverence and admiration before certain
amiable white lambs and water-lilies, whose artists shall be nameless.
We see them, in the Royal Academy, passing by Wilkie, Turner and
Callcott, with shrugs of doubt or of scorn, to fix in gazing and
enthusiastic crowds upon kettles-full of witches, and His Majesty's
ships so and so lying to in a gale, etc., etc. But these pictures attain
no celebrity because the public admire them, for it is not to the public
that the judgment is intrusted. It is by the chosen few, by our nobility
and men of taste and talent, that the decision is made, the fame
bestowed, and the artist encouraged.

6. Not so in architecture. There, the power is generally diffused. Every
citizen may box himself up in as barbarous a tenement as suits his taste
or inclination; the architect is his vassal, and must permit him not
only to criticise, but to perpetrate. The palace or the nobleman's seat
may be raised in good taste, and become the admiration of a nation; but
the influence of their owner is terminated by the boundary of his
estate: he has no command over the adjacent scenery, and the possessor
of every thirty acres around him has him at his mercy. The streets of
our cities are examples of the effects of this clashing of different
tastes; and they are either remarkable for the utter absence of all
attempt at embellishment, or disgraced by every variety of abomination.

7. Again, in a climate like ours, those few who have knowledge and
feeling to distinguish what is beautiful, are frequently prevented by
various circumstances from erecting it. John Bull's comfort perpetually
interferes with his good taste, and I should be the first to lament his
losing so much of his nationality, as to permit the latter to prevail.
He cannot put his windows into a recess, without darkening his rooms; he
cannot raise a narrow gable above his walls, without knocking his head
against the rafters; and, worst of all, he cannot do either, without
being stigmatized by the awful, inevitable epithet, of "a very odd man."
But, though much of the degradation of our present school of
architecture is owing to the want or the unfitness of patrons, surely it
is yet more attributable to a lamentable deficiency of taste and talent
among our architects themselves. It is true, that in a country affording
so little encouragement, and presenting so many causes for its absence,
it cannot be expected that we should have any Michael Angelo
Buonarottis. The energy of our architects is expended in raising "neat"
poor-houses, and "pretty" charity schools; and, if they ever enter upon
a work of higher rank, economy is the order of the day: plaster and
stucco are substituted for granite and marble; rods of splashed iron for
columns of verd-antique; and in the wild struggle after novelty, the
fantastic is mistaken for the graceful, the complicated for the
imposing, superfluity of ornament for beauty, and its total absence for
simplicity.

8. But all these disadvantages might in some degree be counteracted, all
these abuses in some degree prevented, were it not for the slight
attention paid by our architects to that branch of the art which I have
above designated as the Poetry of Architecture. All unity of feeling
(which is the first principle of good taste) is neglected; we see
nothing but incongruous combination: we have pinnacles without height,
windows without light, columns with nothing to sustain, and buttresses
with nothing to support. We have parish paupers smoking their pipes and
drinking their beer under Gothic arches and sculptured niches; and quiet
old English gentlemen reclining on crocodile stools, and peeping out of
the windows of Swiss chalets.

9. I shall attempt, therefore, to endeavor to illustrate the principle
from the neglect of which these abuses have arisen; that of unity of
feeling, the basis of all grace, the essence of all beauty. We shall
consider the architecture of nations as it is influenced by their
feelings and manners, as it is connected with the scenery in which it is
found, and with the skies under which it was erected; we shall be led as
much to the street and the cottage as to the temple and the tower; and
shall be more interested in buildings raised by feeling, than in those
corrected by rule. We shall commence with the lower class of edifices,
proceeding from the roadside to the village, and from the village to the
city; and, if we succeed in directing the attention of a single
individual more directly to this most interesting department of the
science of architecture, we shall not have written in vain.




_PART I._

The Cottage.

THE LOWLAND COTTAGE:--ENGLAND, FRANCE, ITALY:

THE MOUNTAIN COTTAGE:--SWITZERLAND AND WESTMORELAND:

A CHAPTER ON CHIMNEYS:

AND CONCLUDING REMARKS ON COTTAGE-BUILDING.




THE POETRY OF ARCHITECTURE.



I.

THE LOWLAND COTTAGE--ENGLAND AND FRANCE.


10. Of all embellishments by which the efforts of man can enhance the
beauty of natural scenery, those are the most effective which can give
animation to the scene, while the spirit which they bestow is in unison
with its general character. It is generally desirable to indicate the
presence of animated existence in a scene of natural beauty; but only of
such existence as shall be imbued with the spirit, and shall partake of
the essence, of the beauty, which, without it, would be dead. If our
object, therefore, is to embellish a scene the character of which is
peaceful and unpretending, we must not erect a building fit for the
abode of wealth or pride. However beautiful or imposing in itself, such
an object immediately indicates the presence of a kind of existence
unsuited to the scenery which it inhabits; and of a mind which, when it
sought retirement, was unacquainted with its own ruling feelings, and
which consequently excites no sympathy in ours: but, if we erect a
dwelling which may appear adapted to the wants, and sufficient for the
comfort, of a gentle heart and lowly mind, we have instantly attained
our object: we have bestowed animation, but we have not disturbed
repose.

11. It is for this reason that the cottage is one of the embellishments
of natural scenery which deserve attentive consideration. It is
beautiful always, and everywhere. Whether looking out of the woody
dingle with its eye-like window, and sending up the motion of azure
smoke between the silver trunks of aged trees; or grouped among the
bright cornfields of the fruitful plain; or forming gray clusters along
the slope of the mountain side, the cottage always gives the idea of a
thing to be beloved: a quiet life-giving voice, that is as peaceful as
silence itself.

12. With these feelings, we shall devote some time to the consideration
of the prevailing character, and national peculiarities, of European
cottages. The principal thing worthy of observation in the lowland
cottage of England is its finished neatness. The thatch is firmly pegged
down, and mathematically leveled at the edges; and, though the martin is
permitted to attach his humble domicile, in undisturbed security, to the
eaves, he may be considered as enhancing the effect of the cottage, by
increasing its usefulness, and making it contribute to the comfort of
more beings than one. The whitewash is stainless, and its rough surface
catches a side light as brightly as a front one: the luxuriant rose is
trained gracefully over the window; and the gleaming lattice, divided
not into heavy squares, but into small pointed diamonds, is thrown half
open, as is just discovered by its glance among the green leaves of the
sweetbrier, to admit the breeze, that, as it passes over the flowers,
becomes full of their fragrance. The light wooden porch breaks the flat
of the cottage face by its projection; and a branch or two of wandering
honeysuckle spread over the low hatch. A few square feet of garden and a
latched wicket, persuading the weary and dusty pedestrian, with
expressive eloquence, to lean upon it for an instant and request a drink
of water or milk, complete a picture, which, if it be far enough from
London to be unspoiled by town sophistications, is a very perfect thing
in its way.[1] The ideas it awakens are agreeable, and the architecture
is all that we want in such a situation. It is pretty and appropriate;
and if it boasted of any other perfection, it would be at the expense of
its propriety.

[Footnote 1: Compare _Lectures on Architecture and Painting_, I. Sec. 16.]

13. Let us now cross the Channel, and endeavor to find a country cottage
on the other side, if we can; for it is a difficult matter. There are
many villages; but such a thing as an isolated cottage is extremely
rare. Let us try one or two of the green valleys among the chalk
eminences which sweep from Abbeville to Rouen. Here is a cottage at
last, and a picturesque one, which is more than we could say for the
English domicile. What then is the difference? There is a general air of
_nonchalance_ about the French peasant's habitation, which is aided by a
perfect want of everything like neatness; and rendered more conspicuous
by some points about the building which have a look of neglected beauty,
and obliterated ornament. Half of the whitewash is worn off, and the
other half colored by various mosses and wandering lichens, which have
been permitted to vegetate upon it, and which, though beautiful,
constitute a kind of beauty from which the ideas of age and decay are
inseparable. The tall roof of the garret window stands fantastically
out; and underneath it, where, in England, we had a plain double
lattice, is a deep recess, flatly arched at the top, built of solid
masses of gray stone, fluted on the edge; while the brightness of the
glass within (if there be any) is lost in shade, causing the recess to
appear to the observer like a dark eye. The door has the same character:
it is also of stone, which is so much broken and disguised as to prevent
it from giving any idea of strength or stability. The entrance is always
open; no roses, or anything else, are wreathed about it; several
outhouses, built in the same style, give the building extent; and the
group (in all probability, the dependency of some large old chateau in
the distance) does not peep out of copse, or thicket, or a group of tall
and beautiful trees, but stands comfortlessly between two individuals
of the columns of long-trunked facsimile elms, which keep guard along
the length of the public road.

14. Now, let it be observed how perfectly, how singularly, the
distinctive characters of these two cottages agree with those of the
countries in which they are built; and of the people for whose use they
are constructed. England is a country whose every scene is in
miniature.[2] Its green valleys are not wide; its dewy hills are not
high; its forests are of no extent, or, rather, it has nothing that can
pretend to a more sounding title than that of "wood." Its champaigns are
minutely checkered into fields; we can never see far at a time; and
there is a sense of something inexpressible, except by the truly English
word "snug," in every quiet nook and sheltered lane. The English
cottage, therefore, is equally small, equally sheltered, equally
invisible at a distance.

[Footnote 2: Compare with this chapter, _Modern Painters_, vol. iv.
chap. 1.]

15. But France is a country on a large scale. Low, but long, hills sweep
away for miles into vast uninterrupted champaigns; immense forests
shadow the country for hundreds of square miles, without once letting
through the light of day; its pastures and arable land are divided on
the same scale; there are no fences; we can hardly place ourselves in
any spot where we shall not see for leagues around; and there is a kind
of comfortless sublimity in the size of every scene. The French cottage,
therefore, is on the same scale, equally large and desolate looking;
but we shall see, presently, that it can arouse feelings which, though
they cannot be said to give it sublimity, yet are of a higher order than
any which can be awakened at the sight of the English cottage.

16. Again, every bit of cultivated ground in England has a finished
neatness; the fields are all divided by hedges or fences; the fruit
trees are neatly pruned; the roads beautifully made, etc. Everything is
the reverse in France: the fields are distinguished by the nature of the
crops they bear; the fruit trees are overgrown with moss and mistletoe;
and the roads immeasurably wide, and miserably made.

17. So much for the character of the two cottages, as they assimilate
with the countries in which they are found. Let us now see how they
assimilate with the character of the people by whom they are built.
England is a country of perpetually increasing prosperity and active
enterprise; but, for that very reason, nothing is allowed to remain till
it gets old. Large old trees are cut down for timber; old houses are
pulled down for the materials; and old furniture is laughed at and
neglected. Everything is perpetually altered and renewed by the activity
of invention and improvement. The cottage, consequently, has no
dilapidated look about it; it is never suffered to get old; it is used
as long as it is comfortable, and then taken down and rebuilt; for it
was originally raised in a style incapable of resisting the ravages of
time. But, in France, there prevail two opposite feelings, both in the
extreme; that of the old pedigreed population, which preserves
unlimitedly; and that of the modern revolutionists, which destroys
unmercifully. Every object has partly the appearance of having been
preserved with infinite care from an indefinite age, and partly exhibits
the evidence of recent ill-treatment and disfiguration. Primeval forests
rear their vast trunks over those of many younger generations growing up
beside them; the chateau or the palace, showing, by its style of
architecture, its venerable age, bears the marks of the cannon-ball,
and, from neglect, is withering into desolation. Little is renewed:
there is little spirit of improvement; and the customs which prevailed
centuries ago are still taught by the patriarchs of the families to
their grandchildren. The French cottage, therefore, is just such as we
should have expected from the disposition of its inhabitants; its
massive windows, its broken ornaments, its whole air and appearance, all
tell the same tale of venerable age, respected and preserved, till at
last its dilapidation wears an appearance of neglect.

18. Again, the Englishman will sacrifice everything to comfort, and
will not only take great pains to secure it, but he has generally also
the power of doing so: for the English peasant is, on the average,
wealthier than the French. The French peasant has no idea of comfort,
and therefore makes no effort to secure it. The difference in the
character of their inhabitants is, as we have seen, written on the
fronts of their respective cottages. The Englishman is, also, fond of
display; but the ornaments, exterior and interior, with which he adorns
his dwelling, however small it may be, are either to show the extent of
his possessions, or to contribute to some personal profit or
gratification: they never seem designed for the sake of ornament alone.
Thus, his wife's love of display is shown by the rows of useless
crockery in her cupboard; and his own by the rose tree at the front
door, from which he may obtain an early bud to stick in the buttonhole
of his best blue coat on Sundays: the honeysuckle is cultivated for its
smell, the garden for its cabbages. Not so in France. There, the meanest
peasant, with an equal or greater love of display, embellishes his
dwelling as much as lies in his power, solely for the gratification of
his feeling of what is agreeable to the eye. The gable of his roof is
prettily shaped; the niche at its corner is richly carved; the wooden
beams, if there be any, are fashioned into grotesque figures; and even
the "air neglige" and general dilapidation of the building tell a
thousand times more agreeably to an eye accustomed to the picturesque,
than the spruce preservation of the English cottage.

19. No building which we feel to excite a sentiment of mere complacency
can be said to be in good taste. On the contrary, when the building is
of such a class, that it can neither astonish by its beauty, nor impress
by its sublimity, and when it is likewise placed in a situation so
uninteresting as to render something more than mere fitness or propriety
necessary, and to compel the eye to expect something from the building
itself, a gentle contrast of feeling in that building is exceedingly
desirable; and if possible, a sense that something has passed away, the
presence of which would have bestowed a deeper interest on the whole
scene. The fancy will immediately try to recover this, and, in the
endeavor, will obtain the desired effect from an indefinite cause.

[Illustration: FIG. 1. Old Windows: from an early sketch by the Author.]

20. Now, the French cottage cannot please by its propriety, for it can
only be adapted to the ugliness around; and, as it ought to be, and
cannot but be, adapted to this, it is still less able to please by its
beauty. How, then, can it please? There is no pretense to gayety in its
appearance, no green flower-pots in ornamental lattices; but the
substantial style of any ornaments it may possess, the recessed windows,
the stone carvings, and the general size of the whole, unite to produce
an impression of the building having once been fit for the residence of
prouder inhabitants; of its having once possessed strength, which is now
withered, and beauty, which is now faded. This sense of something lost,
something which has been, and is not, is precisely what is wanted. The
imagination is set actively to work in an instant; and we are made aware
of the presence of a beauty, the more pleasing because visionary; and,
while the eye is pitying the actual humility of the present building,
the mind is admiring the imagined pride of the past. Every mark of
dilapidation increases this feeling; while these very marks (the
fractures of the stone, the lichens of the moldering walls, and the
graceful lines of the sinking roof) are all delightful in themselves.

21. Thus, we have shown that, while the English cottage is pretty from
its propriety, the French cottage, having the same connection with its
climate, country, and people, produces such a contrast of feeling as
bestows on it a beauty addressing itself to the mind, and is therefore
in perfectly good taste. If we are asked why, in this instance, good
taste produces only what every traveler feels to be not in the least
striking, we reply that, where the surrounding circumstances are
unfavorable, the very adaptation to them which we have declared to be
necessary renders the building uninteresting; and that, in the next
paper, we shall see a very different result from the operations of
equally good taste in adapting a cottage to its situation, in one of the
noblest districts of Europe. Our subject will be, the Lowland Cottage of
North Italy.

OXFORD, _Sept., 1837._




II.

THE LOWLAND COTTAGE--ITALY.

"Most musical, most melancholy."


22. Let it not be thought that we are unnecessarily detaining our
readers from the proposed subject, if we premise a few remarks on the
character of the landscape of the country we have now entered. It will
always be necessary to obtain some definite knowledge of the distinctive
features of a country, before we can form a just estimate of the
beauties or the errors of its architecture. We wish our readers to imbue
themselves as far as may be with the spirit of the clime which we are
now entering; to cast away all general ideas; to look only for unison of
feeling, and to pronounce everything wrong which is contrary to the
_humors_ of nature. We must make them feel where they are; we must throw
a peculiar light and color over their imaginations; then we will bring
their judgment into play, for then it will be capable of just operation.

23. We have passed, it must be observed (in leaving England and France
for Italy), from comfort to desolation; from excitement, to sadness: we
have left one country prosperous in its prime, and another frivolous in
its age, for one glorious in its death.

Now, we have prefixed the hackneyed line of Il Penseroso to our paper,
because it is a definition of the essence of the beautiful. What is most
musical, will always be found most melancholy; and no real beauty can be
obtained without a touch of sadness. Whenever the beautiful loses its
melancholy, it degenerates into prettiness. We appeal to the memories of
all our observing readers, whether they have treasured up any scene,
pretending to be more than pretty, which has not about it either a tinge
of melancholy or a sense of danger; the one constitutes the beautiful,
the other the sublime.

24. This postulate being granted, as we are sure it will by most (and we
beg to assure those who are refractory or argumentative, that, were this
a treatise on the sublime and beautiful, we could convince and quell
their incredulity to their entire satisfaction by innumerable
instances), we proceed to remark here, once for all, that the principal
glory of the Italian landscape is its extreme melancholy. It is fitting
that it should be so: the dead are the nations of Italy; her name and
her strength are dwelling with the pale nations underneath the earth;
the chief and chosen boast of her utmost pride is the _hic jacet_; she
is but one wide sepulcher, and all her present life is like a shadow or
a memory. And therefore, or, rather, by a most beautiful coincidence,
her national tree is the cypress; and whoever has marked the peculiar
character which these noble shadowy spires can give to her landscape,
lifting their majestic troops of waving darkness from beside the fallen
column, or out of the midst of the silence of the shadowed temple and
worshipless shrine, seen far and wide over the blue of the faint plain,
without loving the dark trees for their sympathy with the sadness of
Italy's sweet cemetery shore, is one who profanes her soil with his
footsteps.

25. Every part of the landscape is in unison; the same glory of mourning
is thrown over the whole; the deep blue of the heavens is mingled with
that of the everlasting hills, or melted away into the silence of the
sapphire sea; the pale cities, temple and tower, lie gleaming along the
champaign; but how calmly! no hum of men; no motion of multitude in the
midst of them: they are voiceless as the city of ashes. The transparent
air is gentle among the blossoms of the orange and the dim leaves of the
olive; and the small fountains, which, in any other land, would spring
merrily along, sparkling and singing among tinkling pebbles, here flow
calmly and silently into some pale font of marble, all beautiful with
life; worked by some unknown hand, long ago nerveless, and fall and
pass on among wan flowers, and scented copse, through cool leaf-lighted
caves or gray Egerian grottoes, to join the Tiber or Eridanus, to swell
the waves of Nemi, or the Larian Lake. The most minute objects (leaf,
flower, and stone), while they add to the beauty, seem to share in the
sadness, of the whole.

26. But, if one principal character of Italian landscape is melancholy,
another is elevation. We have no simple rusticity of scene, no cowslip
and buttercup humility of seclusion. Tall mulberry trees, with festoons
of the luxuriant vine, purple with ponderous clusters, trailed and
trellised between and over them, shade the wide fields of stately Indian
corn; luxuriance of lofty vegetation (catalpa, and aloe, and olive),
ranging itself in lines of massy light along the wan champaign, guides
the eye away to the unfailing wall of mountain, Alp or Apennine; no cold
long range of shivery gray, but dazzling light of snow, or undulating
breadth of blue, fainter and darker, in infinite variety; peak,
precipice, and promontory passing away into the wooded hills, each with
its tower or white village sloping into the plain; castellated
battlements cresting their undulations; some wide majestic river gliding
along the champaign, the bridge on its breast, and the city on its
shore; the whole canopied with cloudless azure, basking in mistless
sunshine, breathing the silence of odoriferous air.

27. Now comes the question. In a country of this pomp of natural glory,
tempered with melancholy memory of departed pride, what are we to wish
for, what are we naturally to expect in the character of her most humble
edifices; those which are most connected with present life--least with
the past? what are we to consider fitting or beautiful in her cottage?

We do not expect it to be comfortable, when everything around it
betokens decay and desolation in the works of man. We do not wish it to
be neat, where nature is most beautiful, because neglected. But we
naturally look for an elevation of character, a richness of design or
form, which, while the building is kept a cottage, may yet give it a
peculiar air of cottage aristocracy; a beauty (no matter how
dilapidated) which may appear to have been once fitted for the
surrounding splendor of scene and climate. Now, let us fancy an Italian
cottage before us. The reader who has traveled in Italy will find little
difficulty in recalling one to his memory, with its broad lines of light
and shadow, and its strange, but not unpleasing mixture of grandeur and
desolation. Let us examine its details, enumerate its architectural
peculiarities, and see how far it agrees with our preconceived idea of
what the cottage ought to be?

28. The first remarkable point of the building is the roof. It generally
consists of tiles of very deep curvature, which rib it into distinct
vertical lines, giving it a far more agreeable surface than that of our
flatter tiling. The _form_ of the roof, however, is always excessively
flat, so as never to let it intrude upon the eye; and the consequence
is, that, while an English village, seen at a distance, appears all red
roof, the Italian is all white wall; and therefore, though always
bright, is never gaudy. We have in these roofs an excellent example of
what should always be kept in mind, that everything will be found
beautiful, which climate or situation render useful. The strong and
constant heat of the Italian sun would be intolerable if admitted at the
windows; and, therefore, the edges of the roof project far over the
walls, and throw long shadows downwards, so as to keep the upper windows
constantly cool. These long oblique shadows on the white surface are
always delightful, and are alone sufficient to give the building
character. They are peculiar to the buildings of Spain and Italy; for
owing to the general darker color of those of more northerly climates,
the shadows of their roofs, however far thrown, do not tell distinctly,
and render them, not varied, but gloomy. Another ornamental use of these
shadows is, that they break the line of junction of the wall with the
roof: a point always desirable, and in every kind of building, whether
we have to do with lead, slate, tile, or thatch, one of extreme
difficulty. This object is farther forwarded in the Italian cottage, by
putting two or three windows up under the very eaves themselves, which
is also done for coolness, so that their tops are formed by the roof;
and the wall has the appearance of having been terminated by large
battlements and roofed over. And, finally, the eaves are seldom kept
long on the same level: double or treble rows of tiling are introduced;
long sticks and irregular wood-work are occasionally attached to them,
to assist the festoons of the vine; and the graceful irregularity and
marked character of the whole must be dwelt on with equal delight by the
eye of the poet, the artist, or the unprejudiced architect. All,
however, is exceedingly humble; we have not yet met with the elevation
of character we expected. We shall find it however as we proceed.

29. The next point of interest is the window. The modern Italian is
completely owl-like in his habits. All the daytime he lies idle and
inert; but during the night he is all activity, but it is mere activity
of inoccupation. Idleness, partly induced by the temperature of the
climate, and partly consequent on the decaying prosperity of the nation,
leaves indications of its influence on all his undertakings. He prefers
patching up a ruin to building a house; he raises shops and hovels, the
abodes of inactive, vegetating, brutish poverty, under the protection of
aged and ruined, yet stalwart, arches of the Roman amphitheater; and the
habitations of the lower orders frequently present traces of ornament
and stability of material evidently belonging to the remains of a
prouder edifice. This is the case sometimes to such a degree as, in
another country, would be disagreeable from its impropriety; but, in
Italy, it corresponds with the general prominence of the features of a
past age, and is always beautiful. Thus, the eye rests with delight on
the broken moldings of the windows, and the sculptured capitals of the
corner columns, contrasted, as they are, the one with the glassless
blackness within, the other with the ragged and dirty confusion of
drapery around. The Italian window, in general, is a mere hole in the
thick wall, always well proportioned; occasionally arched at the top,
sometimes with the addition of a little rich ornament: seldom, if ever,
having any casement or glass, but filled up with any bit of striped or
colored cloth, which may have the slightest chance of deceiving the
distant observer into the belief that it is a legitimate blind. This
keeps off the sun, and allows a free circulation of air, which is the
great object. When it is absent, the window becomes a mere black hole,
having much the same relation to a glazed window that the hollow of a
skull has to a bright eye; not unexpressive, but frowning and ghastly,
and giving a disagreeable impression of utter emptiness and desolation
within. Yet there is character in them: the black dots tell agreeably on
the walls at a distance, and have no disagreeable sparkle to disturb the
repose of surrounding scenery. Besides, the temperature renders
everything agreeable to the eye, which gives it an idea of ventilation.
A few roughly constructed balconies, projecting from detached windows,
usually break the uniformity of the wall. In some Italian cottages there
are wooden galleries, resembling those so frequently seen in
Switzerland; but this is not a very general character, except in the
mountain valleys of North Italy, although sometimes a passage is
effected from one projecting portion of a house to another by means of
an exterior gallery. These are very delightful objects; and when shaded
by luxuriant vines, which is frequently the case, impart a gracefulness
to the building otherwise unattainable.

30. The next striking point is the arcade at the base of the building.
This is general in cities; and, although frequently wanting to the
cottage, is present often enough to render it an important feature. In
fact, the Italian cottage is usually found in groups. Isolated buildings
are rare; and the arcade affords an agreeable, if not necessary, shade,
in passing from one building to another. It is a still more unfailing
feature of the Swiss city, where it is useful in deep snow. But the
supports of the arches in Switzerland are generally square masses of
wall, varying in size, separating the arches by irregular intervals, and
sustained by broad and massy buttresses; while in Italy, the arches
generally rest on legitimate columns, varying in height from one and a
half to four diameters, with huge capitals, not unfrequently rich in
detail. These give great gracefulness to the buildings in groups: they
will be spoken of more at large when we are treating of arrangement and
situation.

[Illustration: Italian Cottage Gallery, 1846. Chimney at Neuchatel;
Dent du Midi and Mont Blanc in the distance.]

[Illustration: Cottage near la Cite, Val d'Aosta, 1838.]

31. The square tower, rising over the roof of the farther cottage, will
not escape observation. It has been allowed to remain, not because such
elevated buildings ever belong to mere cottages, but, first, that the
truth of the scene might not be destroyed;[3] and, secondly, because it
is impossible, or nearly so, to obtain a group of buildings of any sort,
in Italy, without one or more such objects rising behind them,
beautifully contributing to destroy the monotony, and contrast with the
horizontal lines of the flat roofs and square walls. We think it right,
therefore, to give the cottage the relief and contrast which, in
reality, it possessed, even though we are at present speaking of it in
the abstract.

[Footnote 3: The annexed illustration will, perhaps, make the remarks
advanced more intelligible. The building, which is close to the city of
Aosta, unites in itself all the peculiarities for which the Italian
cottage is remarkable: the dark arcade, the sculptured capital, the
vine-covered gallery, the flat and confused roof; and clearly exhibits
the points to which we wish particularly to direct attention; namely,
brightness of effect, simplicity of form, and elevation of character.
Let it not be supposed, however, that such a combination of attributes
is rare; on the contrary, it is common to the greater part of the
cottages of Italy. This building has not been selected as a rare
example, but it is given as a good one. [These remarks refer to a cut in
the magazine text, represented in the illustrated edition by a
photogravure from the original sketch.]]

32. Having now reviewed the distinctive parts of the Italian cottage in
detail, we shall proceed to direct our attention to points of general
character. I. Simplicity of form. The roof, being flat, allows of no
projecting garret windows, no fantastic gable ends: the walls themselves
are equally flat; no bow-windows or sculptured oriels, such as we meet
with perpetually in Germany, France, or the Netherlands, vary their
white fronts. Now, this simplicity is, perhaps, the principal attribute
by which the Italian cottage attains the elevation of character we
desired and expected. All that is fantastic in form, or frivolous in
detail, annihilates the aristocratic air of a building: it at once
destroys its sublimity and size, besides awakening, as is almost always
the case, associations of a mean and low character. The moment we see a
gable roof, we think of cock-lofts; the instant we observe a projecting
window, of attics and tent-bedsteads. Now, the Italian cottage assumes,
with the simplicity, _l'air noble_ of buildings of a higher order; and,
though it avoids all ridiculous miniature mimicry of the palace, it
discards the humbler attributes of the cottage. The ornament it assumes
is dignified; no grinning faces, or unmeaning notched planks, but
well-proportioned arches, or tastefully sculptured columns. While there
is nothing about it unsuited to the humility of its inhabitant, there is
a general dignity in its air, which harmonizes beautifully with the
nobility of the neighboring edifices, or the glory of the surrounding
scenery.

33. II. Brightness of effect. There are no weather stains on the walls:
there is no dampness in air or earth, by which they could be induced;
the heat of the sun scorches away all lichens, and mosses and moldy
vegetation. No thatch or stone crop on the roof unites the building with
surrounding vegetation; all is clear, and warm, and sharp on the eye;
the more distant the building, the more generally bright it becomes,
till the distant village sparkles out of the orange copse, or the
cypress grove, with so much distinctness as might be thought in some
degree objectionable. But it must be remembered that the prevailing
color of the Italian landscape is blue; sky, hills, water, are equally
azure: the olive, which forms a great proportion of the vegetation, is
not green, but gray; the cypress and its varieties, dark and neutral,
and the laurel and myrtle far from bright. Now, white, which is
intolerable with green, is agreeably contrasted with blue; and to this
cause it must be ascribed that the white of the Italian building is not
found startling and disagreeable in the landscape. That it is not, we
believe, will be generally allowed.

34. III. Elegance of feeling. We never can prevent ourselves from
imagining that we perceive in the graceful negligence of the Italian
cottage, the evidence of a taste among the lower orders refined by the
glory of their land, and the beauty of its remains. We have always had
strong faith in the influence of climate on the mind, and feel strongly
tempted to discuss the subject at length; but our paper has already
exceeded its proposed limits, and we must content ourselves with
remarking what will not, we think, be disputed, that the eye, by
constantly resting either on natural scenery of noble tone and
character, or on the architectural remains of classical beauty, must
contract a habit of feeling correctly and tastefully; the influence of
which, we think, is seen in the style of edifices the most modern and
the most humble.

35. Lastly, Dilapidation. We have just used the term "graceful
negligence": whether it be graceful, or not, is a matter of taste; but
the uncomfortable and ruinous disorder and dilapidation of the Italian
cottage is one of observation. The splendor of the climate requires
nothing more than shade from the sun, and occasionally shelter from a
violent storm: the outer arcade affords them both; it becomes the
nightly lounge and daily dormitory of its inhabitant, and the interior
is abandoned to filth and decay. Indolence watches the tooth of Time
with careless eye and nerveless hand. Religion, or its abuse, reduces
every individual of the population to utter inactivity three days out of
the seven; and the habits formed in the three regulate the four. Abject
poverty takes away the power, while brutish sloth weakens the will; and
the filthy habits of the Italian prevent him from suffering from the
state to which he is reduced. The shattered roofs, the dark, confused,
ragged windows, the obscure chambers, the tattered and dirty draperies,
altogether present a picture which, seen too near, is sometimes
revolting to the eye, always melancholy to the mind. Yet even this many
would not wish to be otherwise. The prosperity of nations, as of
individuals, is cold and hard-hearted, and forgetful. The dead die,
indeed, trampled down by the crowd of the living; the place thereof
shall know them no more, for that place is not in the hearts of the
survivors for whose interests they have made way. But adversity and ruin
point to the sepulcher, and it is not trodden on; to the chronicle, and
it doth not decay. Who would substitute the rush of a new nation, the
struggle of an awakening power, for the dreamy sleep of Italy's
desolation, for her sweet silence of melancholy thought, her twilight
time of everlasting memories?

36. Such, we think, are the principal distinctive attributes of the
Italian cottage. Let it not be thought that we are wasting time in the
contemplation of its beauties; even though they are of a kind which the
architect can never imitate, because he has no command over time, and no
choice of situation; and which he ought not to imitate, if he could,
because they are only locally desirable or admirable. Our object, let it
always be remembered, is not the attainment of architectural data, but
the formation of taste.

_Oct. 12, 1837_




III.

THE MOUNTAIN COTTAGE--SWITZERLAND.


37. In the three instances of the lowland cottage which have been
already considered, are included the chief peculiarities of style which
are interesting or important. I have not, it is true, spoken of the
carved oaken gable and shadowy roof of the Norman village; of the black
crossed rafters and fantastic proportions which delight the eyes of the
German; nor of the Moorish arches and confused galleries which mingle so
magnificently with the inimitable fretwork of the gray temples of the
Spaniard. But these are not peculiarities solely belonging to the
cottage: they are found in buildings of a higher order, and seldom,
unless where they are combined with other features. They are therefore
rather to be considered, in future, as elements of street effect, than,
now, as the peculiarities of independent buildings. My remarks on the
Italian cottage might, indeed, be applied, were it not for the constant
presence of Moorish feeling, to that of Spain. The architecture of the
two nations is intimately connected: modified, in Italy, by the taste of
the Roman; and, in Spain, by the fanciful creations of the Moor. When I
am considering the fortress and the palace,[4] I shall be compelled to
devote a very large share of my attention to Spain; but for
characteristic examples of the cottage, I turn rather to Switzerland and
England. Preparatory, therefore, to a few general remarks on modern
ornamental cottages, it will be instructive to observe the peculiarities
of two varieties of the mountain cottage, diametrically opposite to
each other in most of their features; one always beautiful, and the
other frequently so.

[Footnote 4: That part, however, was not written, as the "Architectural
Magazine" stopped running soon after the conclusion of Part II. "The
Villa."]

38. First, for Helvetia. Well do I remember the thrilling and exquisite
moment when first, first in my life (which had not been over long), I
encountered, in a calm and shadowy dingle, darkened with the thick
spreading of tall pines, and voiceful with the singing of a
rock-encumbered stream, and passing up towards the flank of a smooth
green mountain, whose swarded summit shone in the summer snow like an
emerald set in silver; when, I say, I first encountered in this calm
defile of the Jura, the unobtrusive, yet beautiful, front of the Swiss
cottage. I thought it the loveliest piece of architecture I had ever had
the felicity of contemplating; yet it was nothing in itself, nothing but
a few mossy fir trunks, loosely nailed together, with one or two gray
stones on the roof: but its power was the power of association; its
beauty, that of fitness and humility.

39. How different is this from what modern architects erect, when they
attempt to produce what is, by courtesy, called a Swiss cottage. The
modern building known in Britain by that name has very long chimneys,
covered with various exceedingly ingenious devices for the convenient
reception and hospitable entertainment of soot, supposed by the innocent
and deluded proprietor to be "meant for ornament." Its gable roof slopes
at an acute angle, and terminates in an interesting and romantic manner,
at each extremity, in a tooth-pick. Its walls are very precisely and
prettily plastered; and it is rendered quite complete by the addition of
two neat little bow windows, supported on neat little mahogany brackets,
full of neat little squares of red and yellow glass. Its door is
approached under a neat little veranda, "uncommon green," and is flanked
on each side by a neat little round table, with all its legs of
different lengths, and by a variety of neat little wooden chairs, all
very peculiarly uncomfortable, and amazingly full of earwigs: the whole
being surrounded by a garden full of flints, burnt bricks and cinders,
with some water in the middle, and a fountain in the middle of it,
which won't play; accompanied by some goldfish, which won't swim; and
by two or three ducks, which will splash. Now, I am excessively sorry to
inform the members of any respectable English family, who are making
themselves uncomfortable in one of these ingenious conceptions, under
the idea that they are living in a Swiss cottage, that they labor under
a melancholy deception; and shall now proceed to investigate the
peculiarities of the real building.

40. The life of a Swiss peasant is divided into two periods; that in
which he is watching his cattle at their summer pasture on the high
Alps,[5] and that in which he seeks shelter from the violence of the
winter storms in the most retired parts of the low valleys. During the
first period, he requires only occasional shelter from storms of
excessive violence; during the latter, a sufficient protection from
continued inclement weather. The Alpine or summer cottage, therefore, is
a rude log hut, formed of unsquared pine trunks, notched into each other
at the corners. The roof being excessively flat, so as to offer no
surface to the wind, is covered with fragments of any stone that will
split easily, held on by crossing logs; which are in their turn kept
down by masses of stone; the whole being generally sheltered behind some
protecting rock, or resting against the slope of the mountain, so that,
from one side, you may step upon the roof. That is the _chalet_. When
well grouped, running along a slope of mountain side, these huts produce
a very pleasing effect, being never obtrusive (owing to the prevailing
grayness of their tone), uniting well with surrounding objects, and
bestowing at once animation and character.

[Footnote 5: I use the word Alp here, and in future, in its proper
sense, of a high mountain pasture; not in its secondary sense, of a
snowy peak.]

41. But the winter residence, the Swiss cottage, properly so-called is a
much more elaborate piece of workmanship. The principal requisite is, of
course, strength: and this is always observable in the large size of the
timbers, and the ingenious manner in which they are joined, so as to
support and relieve each other, when any of them are severely tried.
The roof is always very flat, generally meeting at an angle of 155 deg., and
projecting from 5 ft. to 7 ft. over the cottage side, in order to
prevent the windows from being thoroughly clogged up with snow. That
this projection may not be crushed down by the enormous weight of snow
which it must sometimes sustain, it is assisted by strong wooden
supports (seen in Fig. 3), which sometimes extend half down the walls
for the sake of strength, divide the side into regular compartments, and
are rendered ornamental by grotesque carving. Every canton has its own
window. That of Uri, with its diamond wood-work at the bottom, is,
perhaps, one of the richest. (See Fig. 4.) The galleries are generally
rendered ornamental by a great deal of labor bestowed upon their
wood-work. This is best executed in the canton of Berne. The door is
always six or seven feet from the ground, and occasionally much more,
that it may be accessible in snow; and is reached by an oblique gallery,
leading up to a horizontal one, as shown in Figs. 3 and 4. The base of
the cottage is formed of stone, generally whitewashed. The chimneys
must have a chapter to themselves; they are splendid examples of utility
combined with ornament.

[Illustration: FIG. 3. Swiss Cottage. 1837.]

[Illustration: FIG. 4. Cottage near Altorf. 1835.]

Such are the chief characteristics of the Swiss cottage, separately
considered. I must now take notice of its effect in scenery.

42. When one has been wandering for a whole morning through a valley of
perfect silence, where everything around, which is motionless, is
colossal, and everything which has motion, resistless; where the
strength and the glory of nature are principally developed in the very
forces which feed upon her majesty; and where, in the midst of
mightiness which seems imperishable, all that is indeed eternal is the
influence of desolation; one is apt to be surprised, and by no means
agreeably, to find, crouched behind some projecting rock, a piece of
architecture which is neat in the extreme, though in the midst of
wildness, weak in the midst of strength, contemptible in the midst of
immensity. There is something offensive in its neatness: for the wood is
almost always perfectly clean, and looks as if it had just been cut; it
is consequently raw in its color, and destitute of all variety of tone.
This is especially disagreeable, when the eye has been previously
accustomed to, and finds, everywhere around, the exquisite mingling of
color, and confused, though perpetually graceful, forms, by which the
details of mountain scenery are peculiarly distinguished. Every fragment
of rock is finished in its effect, tinted with thousands of pale lichens
and fresh mosses; every pine tree is warm with the life of various
vegetation; every grassy bank glowing with mellowed color, and waving
with delicate leafage. How, then, can the contrast be otherwise than
painful, between this perfect loveliness, and the dead, raw, lifeless
surface of the deal boards of the cottage. Its weakness is pitiable;
for, though there is always evidence of considerable strength on close
examination, there is no _effect_ of strength: the real thickness of the
logs is concealed by the cutting and carving of their exposed surfaces;
and even what is seen is felt to be so utterly contemptible, when
opposed to the destructive forces which are in operation around, that
the feelings are irritated at the imagined audacity of the inanimate
object, with the self-conceit of its impotence; and, finally, the eye is
offended at its want of size. It does not, as might be at first
supposed, enhance the sublimity of surrounding scenery by its
littleness, for it provokes no comparison; and there must be proportion
between objects, or they cannot be compared. If the Parthenon, or the
Pyramid of Cheops, or St. Peter's, were placed in the same situation,
the mind would first form a just estimate of the magnificence of the
building, and then be trebly impressed with the size of the masses which
overwhelmed it. The architecture would not lose, and the crags would
gain, by the juxtaposition; but the cottage, which must be felt to be a
thing which the weakest stream of the Alps could toss down before it
like a foam-globe, is offensively contemptible: it is like a child's toy
let fall accidentally on the hillside; it does not unite with the scene;
it is not content to sink into a quiet corner, and personify humility
and peace; but it draws attention upon itself by its pretension to
decoration, while its decorations themselves cannot bear examination,
because they are useless, unmeaning and incongruous.

43. So much for its faults; and I have had no mercy upon them, the
rather, because I am always afraid of being biased in its favor by my
excessive love for its sweet nationality. Now for its beauties. Wherever
it is found, it always suggests ideas of a gentle, pure, and pastoral
life.[6] One feels that the peasants whose hands carved the planks so
neatly, and adorned their cottage so industriously, and still preserve
it so perfectly, and so neatly, can be no dull, drunken, lazy boors; one
feels, also, that it requires both firm resolution, and determined
industry, to maintain so successful a struggle against "the crush of
thunder, and the warring winds." Sweet ideas float over the imagination
of such passages of peasant life as the gentle Walton so loved; of the
full milk-pail, and the mantling cream-bowl; of the evening dance and
the matin song; of the herdsmen on the Alps, of the maidens by the
fountain; of all that is peculiarly and indisputably Swiss. For the
cottage is beautifully national; there is nothing to be found the least
like it in any other country. The moment a glimpse is caught of its
projecting galleries, one knows that it is the land of Tell and
Winkelried; and the traveler feels, that, were he indeed Swiss-born and
Alp-bred, a bit of that carved plank, meeting his eye in a foreign land,
would be as effectual as a note of the _Ranz des Vaches_ upon the ear.

[Footnote 6: Compare _Modern Painters_, vol. iv. chap. xi, and vol. v.
chap. ix.]

44. Again, when a number of these cottages are grouped together, they
break upon each other's formality, and form a mass of fantastic
proportion, of carved window and overhanging roof, full of character and
picturesque in the extreme. An excellent example of this is the Bernese
village of Unterseen. Again, when the ornament is not very elaborate,
yet enough to preserve the character, and the cottage is old, and not
very well kept (suppose in a Catholic canton), and a little rotten, the
effect is beautiful: the timber becomes weather-stained, and of a fine
warm brown, harmonizing delightfully with the gray stones on the roof,
and the dark green of surrounding pines. If it be fortunate enough to be
situated in some quiet glen, out of sight of the gigantic features of
the scene, and surrounded with cliffs to which it bears some proportion;
and if it be partially concealed, not intruding on the eye, but well
united with everything around, it becomes altogether perfect; humble,
beautiful, and interesting. Perhaps no cottage can then be found to
equal it; and none can be more finished in effect, graceful in detail,
and characteristic as a whole.

45. The ornaments employed in the decoration of the Swiss cottage do not
demand much attention; they are usually formed in a most simple manner,
by thin laths, which are carved into any fanciful form, or in which rows
of holes are cut, generally diamond shaped; and they are then nailed one
above another to give the carving depth. Pinnacles are never raised on
the roof, though carved spikes are occasionally suspended from it at
the angles. No ornamental work is ever employed to disguise the beams of
the projecting part of the roof, nor does any run along its edges. The
galleries, in the canton of Uri, are occasionally supported on arched
beams, as shown in Fig. 4, which have a very pleasing effect.

[Illustration: Swiss Chalet Balcony, 1842.]

46. Of the adaptation of the building to climate and character, little
can be said. When I called it "national," I meant only that it was quite
_sui generis_, and, therefore, being only found in Switzerland, might be
considered as a national building; though it has none of the mysterious
connection with the mind of its inhabitants which is evident in all
really fine edifices. But there is a reason for this; Switzerland has no
climate, properly speaking, but an assemblage of every climate, from
Italy to the Pole; the vine wild in its valleys, the ice eternal on its
crags. The Swiss themselves are what we might have expected in persons
dwelling in such a climate; they have no character. The sluggish nature
of the air of the valleys has a malignant operation on the mind; and
even the mountaineers, though generally shrewd and intellectual, have no
perceptible nationality: they have no language, except a mixture of
Italian and bad German; they have no peculiar turn of mind; they might
be taken as easily for Germans as for Swiss. No correspondence,
consequently, can exist between national architecture and national
character, where the latter is not distinguishable. Generally speaking,
then, the Swiss cottage cannot be said to be built in good taste; but it
is occasionally picturesque, frequently pleasing, and, under a favorable
concurrence of circumstances, beautiful. It is not, however, a thing to
be imitated; it is always, when out of its own country, incongruous; it
never harmonizes with anything around it, and can therefore be employed
only in mimicry of what does not exist, not in improvement of what does.
I mean, that any one who has on his estate a dingle shaded with larches
or pines, with a rapid stream, may manufacture a bit of Switzerland as a
toy; but such imitations are always contemptible, and he cannot use the
Swiss cottage in any other way. A modified form of it, however, as will
be hereafter shown, may be employed with advantage. I hope, in my next
paper, to derive more satisfaction from the contemplation of the
mountain cottage of Westmoreland, than I have been able to obtain from
that of the Swiss.




IV.

THE MOUNTAIN COTTAGE--WESTMORELAND.


47. When I devoted so much time to the consideration of the
peculiarities of the Swiss cottage, I did not previously endeavor to
ascertain what the mind, influenced by the feelings excited by the
nature of its situation, would be induced to expect, or disposed to
admire. I thus deviated from the general rule which I hope to be able to
follow out; but I did so only because the subject for consideration was
incapable of fulfilling the expectation when excited, or corresponding
with the conception when formed. But now, in order to appreciate the
beauty of the Westmoreland cottage, it will be necessary to fix upon a
standard of excellence, with which it may be compared.

One of the principal charms of mountain scenery is its solitude. Now,
just as silence is never perfect or deep without motion, solitude is
never perfect without some vestige of life. Even desolation is not felt
to be utter, unless in some slight degree interrupted: unless the
cricket is chirping on the lonely hearth, or the vulture soaring over
the field of corpses, or the one mourner lamenting over the red ruins of
the devastated village, that devastation is not felt to be complete. The
anathema of the prophet does not wholly leave the curse of loneliness
upon the mighty city, until he tells us that "the satyr shall dance
there." And, if desolation, which is the destruction of life, cannot
leave its impression perfect without some interruption, much less can
solitude, which is only the absence of life, be felt without some
contrast. Accordingly, it is, perhaps, never so perfect as when a
populous and highly cultivated plain, immediately beneath, is visible
through the rugged ravines, or over the cloudy summits of some tall,
vast, and voiceless mountain.

48. When such a prospect is not attainable, one of the chief uses of the
mountain cottage, paradoxical as the idea may appear, is to increase
this sense of solitude. Now, as it will only do so when it is seen at a
considerable distance, it is necessary that it should be visible, or, at
least, that its presence should be indicated, over a considerable
portion of surrounding space. It must not, therefore, be too much shaded
by trees, or it will be useless; but if, on the contrary, it be too
conspicuous on the open hillside, it will be liable to most of the
objections which were advanced against the Swiss cottage, and to
another, which was not then noticed. Anything which, to the eye, is
split into parts, appears less as a whole than what is undivided. Now, a
considerable mass, of whatever tone or color it may consist, is as
easily divisible by dots as by lines; that is, a conspicuous point, on
any part of its surface, will divide it into two portions, each of which
will be individually measured by the eye, but which will never make the
impression which they would have made, had their unity not been
interrupted. A conspicuous cottage on a distant mountain side has this
effect in a fatal degree, and is, therefore, always intolerable.

49. It should accordingly, in order to reconcile the attainment of the
good, with the avoidance of the evil, be barely visible: it should not
tell as a cottage on the eye, though it should on the mind; for be it
observed that, if it is only by the closest investigation that we can
ascertain it to be a human habitation, it will answer the purpose of
increasing the solitude quite as well as if it were evidently so;
because this impression is produced by its appeal to the thoughts, not
by its effect on the eye. Its color, therefore, should be as nearly as
possible that of the hill on which, or the crag beneath which, it is
placed; its form, one that will incorporate well with the ground, and
approach that of a large stone more than of anything else. The color
will consequently, if this rule be followed, be subdued and grayish,
but rather warm; and the form simple, graceful, and unpretending. The
building should retain the same general character on a closer
examination. Everything about it should be natural, and should appear as
if the influences and forces which were in operation around it had been
too strong to be resisted, and had rendered all efforts of art to check
their power, or conceal the evidence of their action, entirely
unavailing. It cannot but be an alien child of the mountains; but it
must show that it has been adopted and cherished by them. This effect is
only attainable by great ease of outline and variety of color;
peculiarities which, as will be presently seen, the Westmoreland cottage
possesses in a supereminent degree.

50. Another feeling, with which one is impressed during a mountain
ramble, is humility. I found fault with the insignificance of the Swiss
cottage, because "it was not content to sink into a quiet corner, and
personify humility." Now, had it not been seen to be pretending, it
would not have been felt to be insignificant; for the feelings would
have been gratified with its submission to, and retirement from, the
majesty of the destructive influences which it rather seemed to rise up
against in mockery. Such pretension is especially to be avoided in the
mountain cottage: it can never lie too humbly in the pastures of the
valley, nor shrink too submissively into the hollows of the hills; it
should seem to be asking the storm for mercy, and the mountain for
protection: and should appear to owe to its weakness, rather than to its
strength, that it is neither overwhelmed by the one, nor crushed by the
other.

51. Such are the chief attributes, without which a mountain cottage
cannot be said to be beautiful. It may possess others, which are
desirable or objectionable, according to their situation, or other
accidental circumstances. The nature of these will be best understood by
examining an individual building. The material is, of course, what is
most easily attainable and available without much labor. The Cumberland
and Westmoreland hills are, in general, composed of clay-slate and
gray-wacke, with occasional masses of chert[7] (like that which forms
the summit of Scawfell), porphyritic greenstone, and syenite. The chert
decomposes deeply, and assumes a rough brown granular surface, deeply
worn and furrowed. The clay-slate or gray-wacke, as it is shattered by
frost, and carried down by torrents, of course forms itself into
irregular flattish masses. The splintery edges of these are in some
degree worn off by the action of water; and, slight decomposition taking
place on the surface of the clay-slate, furnishes an aluminous soil,
which is immediately taken advantage of by innumerable lichens, which
change the dark gray of the original substance into an infinite variety
of pale and warm colors. These stones, thus shaped to his hand, are the
most convenient building materials the peasant can obtain.[8] He lays
his foundation and strengthens his angles with large masses, filling up
the intervals with pieces of a more moderate size; and using here and
there a little cement to bind the whole together, and to keep the wind
from getting through the interstices; but never enough to fill them
altogether up, or to render the face of the wall smooth. At intervals of
from 4 ft. to 6 ft. a horizontal line of flat and broad fragments is
introduced projecting about a foot from the wall. Whether this is
supposed to give strength, I know not; but as it is invariably covered
by luxuriant stonecrop, it is always a delightful object.

[Footnote 7: That is to say, a _flinty_ volcanic ash.]

[Footnote 8: Compare the treatment of a similar theme in _Modern
Painters_, vol. iv., chaps. viii.-x.]

52. The door is flanked and roofed by three large oblong sheets of gray
rock, whose form seems not to be considered of the slightest
consequence. Those which form the cheeks of the windows are generally
selected with more care from the debris of some rock, which is naturally
smooth and polished, after being subjected to the weather, such as
granite or syenite. The window itself is narrow and deep set; in the
better sort of cottages, latticed, but with no affectation of
sweetbrier or eglantine about it. It may be observed of the whole of the
cottage, that, though all is beautiful, nothing is pretty. The roof is
rather flat, and covered with heavy fragments of the stone of which the
walls are built, originally very loose; but generally cemented by
accumulated soil, and bound together by houseleek, moss, and stonecrop:
brilliant in color, and singular in abundance. The form of the larger
cottages, being frequently that of a cross, would hurt the eye by the
sharp angles of the roof, were it not for the cushion-like vegetation
with which they are rounded and concealed. Varieties of the fern
sometimes relieve the massy forms of the stonecrop, with their light and
delicate leafage. Windows in the roof are seldom met with. Of the
chimney I shall speak hereafter.

53. Such are the prevailing peculiarities of the Westmoreland cottage.
"Is this all?" some one will exclaim: "a hovel, built of what first
comes to hand, and in the most simple and convenient form; not one
thought of architectural beauty ever coming into the builder's head!"
Even so; to this illustration of an excellent rule, I wished
particularly to direct attention: that the material which Nature
furnishes, in any given country, and the form which she suggests, will
always render the building the most beautiful, because the most
appropriate. Observe how perfectly this cottage fulfills the conditions
which were before ascertained to be necessary to perfection. Its color
is that of the ground on which it stands, always subdued and gray, but
exquisitely rich, the color being disposed crumblingly, in groups of
shadowy spots; a deep red brown, passing into black, being finely
contrasted with the pale yellow of the _Lichen geographicus_, and the
subdued white of another lichen, whose name I do not know; all mingling
with each other as on a native rock, and with the same beautiful effect:
the mass, consequently, at a distance, tells only as a large stone
would, the simplicity of its form contributing still farther to render
it inconspicuous. When placed on a mountain-side such a cottage will
become a point of interest, which will relieve its monotony, but will
never cut the hill in two, or take away from its size. In the valley,
the color of these cottages agrees with everything: the green light,
which trembles through the leafage of the taller trees, falls with
exquisite effect on the rich gray of the ancient roofs: the deep pool of
clear water is not startled from its peace by their reflection; the ivy,
or the creepers to which the superior wealth of the peasant of the
valley does now and then pretend, in opposition to the general custom,
cling gracefully and easily to its innumerable crevices; and rock, lake,
and meadow seem to hail it with a brotherly affection, as if Nature had
taken as much pains with it as she has with them.

54. Again, observe its ease of outline. There is not a single straight
line to be met with from foundation to roof; all is bending or broken.
The form of every stone in its walls is a study; for, owing to the
infinite delicacy of structure in all minerals, a piece of stone 3 in.
in diameter, irregularly fractured, and a little worn by the weather,
has precisely the same character of outline which we should find and
admire in a mountain of the same material 6000 ft. high;[9] and,
therefore, the eye, though not feeling the cause, rests on every cranny,
and crack, and fissure with delight. It is true that we have no idea
that every small projection, if of chert, has such an outline as
Scawfell's; if of gray-wacke, as Skiddaw's; or if of slate, as
Helvellyn's; but their combinations of form are, nevertheless, felt to
be exquisite, and we dwell upon every bend of the rough roof and every
hollow of the loose wall, feeling it to be a design which no architect
on earth could ever equal, sculptured by a chisel of unimaginable
delicacy, and finished to a degree of perfection, which is unnoticed
only because it is everywhere.

[Footnote 9: Compare _Modern Painters_, vol. iv. chap. 18, Sec. 7.]

55. This ease and irregularity is peculiarly delightful where
gracefulness and freedom of outline and detail are, as they always are
in mountain countries, the chief characteristics of every scene. It is
well that, where every plant is wild and every torrent free, every field
irregular in its form, every knoll various in its outline, one is not
startled by well built walls, or unyielding roofs, but is permitted to
trace in the stones of the peasant's dwelling, as in the crags of the
mountain side, no evidence of the line or the mallet, but the operation
of eternal influences, the presence of an Almighty hand. Another
perfection connected with its ease of outline is, its severity of
character: there is no foppery about it; not the slightest effort at any
kind of ornament, but what nature chooses to bestow; it wears all its
decorations wildly, covering its nakedness, not with what the peasant
may plant, but with what the winds may bring. There is no gay color or
neatness about it; no green shutters or other abomination: all is calm
and quiet, and severe, as the mind of a philosopher, and, withal, a
little somber. It is evidently old, and has stood many trials in its
day; and the snow, and the tempest, and the torrent have all spared it,
and left it in its peace, with its gray head unbowed, and its early
strength unbroken, even though the spirit of decay seems creeping, like
the moss and the lichen, through the darkness of its crannies. This
venerable and slightly melancholy character is the very soul of all its
beauty.

56. There remains only one point to be noticed, its humility. This was
before stated to be desirable, and it will here be found in perfection.
The building draws as little attention upon itself as possible; since,
with all the praise I have bestowed upon it, it possesses not one point
of beauty in which it is not equaled or excelled by every stone at the
side of the road. It is small in size, simple in form, subdued in tone,
easily concealed or overshadowed; often actually so; and one is always
delighted and surprised to find that what courts attention so little is
capable of sustaining it so well. Yet it has no appearance of weakness:
it is stoutly, though rudely, built; and one ceases to fear for its sake
the violence of surrounding agencies, which, it may be seen, will be
partly deprecated by its humility.

57. Such is the mountain cottage of Westmoreland; and such, with
occasional varieties, are many of the mountain cottages of England and
Wales. It is true that my memory rests with peculiar pleasure in a
certain quiet valley near Kirkstone, little known to the general
tourist, distant from any public track, and, therefore, free from all
the horrors of improvement:[10] in which it seemed to me that the
architecture of the cottage had attained a peculiar degree of
perfection. But I think that this impression was rather produced by a
few seemingly insignificant accompanying circumstances, than by any
distinguished beauty of design in the cottages themselves. Their
inhabitants were evidently poor, and apparently had not repaired their
dwellings since their first erection; and, certainly, had never torn one
tuft of moss or fern from roofs or walls, which were green with the rich
vegetation of years. The valley was narrow, and quiet, and deep, and
shaded by reverend trees, among whose trunks the gray cottages looked
out, with a perfection of effect which I never remember to have seen
equaled, though I believe that, in many of the mountain districts of
Britain, the peasant's domicile is erected with equal good taste.

[Footnote 10: Troutbeck, sixty years since?]

58. I have always rejoiced in the thought, that our native highland
scenery, though, perhaps, wanting in sublimity, is distinguished by a
delicate finish in its details, and by a unanimity and propriety of
feeling in the works of its inhabitants, which are elsewhere looked for
in vain; and the reason of this is evident. The mind of the inhabitant
of the continent, in general, is capable of deeper and finer sensations
than that of the islander. It is higher in its aspirations, purer in its
passions, wilder in its dreams, and fiercer in its anger; but it is
wanting in gentleness, and in its simplicity; naturally desirous of
excitement, and incapable of experiencing, in equal degree, the calmer
flow of human felicity, the stillness of domestic peace, and the
pleasures of the humble hearth, consisting in everyday duties performed,
and everyday mercies received; consequently, in the higher walks of
architecture, where the mind is to be impressed or elevated, we never
have equaled, and we never shall equal, them. It will be seen
hereafter, when we leave the lowly valley for the torn ravine, and the
grassy knoll for the ribbed precipice, that, if the continental
architects cannot adorn the pasture with the humble roof, they can crest
the crag with eternal battlements;[11] if they cannot minister to a
landscape's peace, they can add to its terror; and it has been already
seen, that, in the lowland cottages of France and Italy, where high and
refined feelings were to be induced, where melancholy was to be excited,
or majesty bestowed, the architect was successful, and his labor was
perfect: but, now, nothing is required but humility and gentleness; and
this, which he does not feel, he cannot give: it is contrary to the
whole force of his character, nay, even to the spirit of his religion.
It is unfelt even at the time when the soul is most chastened and
subdued; for the epitaph on the grave is affected in its sentiment, and
the tombstone gaudily gilded, or wreathed with vain flowers.

[Footnote 11: This too refers to the unwritten sequel.]

[Illustration: FIG. 6. The Highest House in England.]

59. We cannot, then, be surprised at the effort at ornament and other
fancied architectural beauties, which injure the effect of the more
peaceful mountain scenery abroad; but still less should we be surprised
at the perfect propriety which prevails in the same kind of scenery at
home; for the error which is there induced by one mental deficiency, is
here prevented by another. The uncultivated mountaineer of Cumberland
has no taste, and no idea of what architecture means; he never thinks of
what is right, or what is beautiful, but he builds what is most adapted
to his purposes, and most easily erected: by suiting the building to the
uses of his own life, he gives it humility; and, by raising it with the
nearest material, adapts it to its situation. This is all that is
required, and he has no credit in fulfilling the requirement, since the
moment he begins to think of effect, he commits a barbarism by
whitewashing the whole. The cottages of Cumberland would suffer much by
this piece of improvement, were it not for the salutary operation of
mountain rains and mountain winds.

60. So much for the hill dwellings of our own country. I think the
examination of the five examples of the cottage which I have given have
furnished all the general principles which are important or worthy of
consideration; and I shall therefore devote no more time to the
contemplation of individual buildings. But, before I leave the cottage
altogether, it will be necessary to notice a part of the building which
I have in the separate instances purposely avoided mentioning, that I
might have the advantage of immediate comparison; a part exceedingly
important, and which seems to have been essential to the palace as well
as to the cottage, ever since the time when Perdiccas received his
significant gift of the sun from his Macedonian master, [Greek:
perigrapsas ton helion, hos en kata ten kapnodoken es ton oikon
esechon].[12] And then I shall conclude the subject by a few general
remarks on modern ornamental cottages, illustrative of the principle so
admirably developed in the beauty of the Westmoreland building; to
which, it must be remembered, the palm was assigned, in preference to
the Switzer's; not because it was more labored, but because it was more
natural.

OXFORD, _Jan., 1838._

[Footnote 12: Herodotus viii, 137, freely quoted from memory. The story
was that three brothers took service with a kinglet in Macedonia. The
queen, who cooked their food herself, for it was in the good old times,
noticed that the portion of Perdiccas, the youngest, always "rose" three
times as large as any other. The king judged this to be an omen of the
lad's coming to fortune; and dismissed them. They demanded their wages.
"When the king heard talk about wages--you must know _the sun was
shining into the house, down the chimney_--he said (for God had hardened
his heart) 'There's your wage; all you deserve and all you'll get:' and
pointed to the sunshine. The elder brothers were dumfoundered when they
heard that; but the lad, who happened to have his knife with him, said,
'We accept, King, the gift.' With his knife he _made a scratch around
the sunstreak_ on the floor, took the shine of it three times into the
fold of his kirtle"--his pocket, we should say nowadays--"and went his
way." Eventually he became king of Macedonia, and ancestor of Alexander
the Great.]




V.

A CHAPTER ON CHIMNEYS.


61. It appears from the passage in Herodotus, which we alluded to in the
last paper, that there has been a time, even in the most civilized
countries, when the king's palace was entirely unfurnished with anything
having the slightest pretension to the dignity of chimney tops; and the
savory vapors which were wont to rise from the hospitable hearth, at
which the queen or princess prepared the feast with the whitest of
hands, escaped with indecorous facility through a simple hole in the
flat roof. The dignity of smoke, however, is now better understood, and
it is dismissed through Gothic pinnacles, and (as at Burleigh House)
through Tuscan columns, with a most praiseworthy regard to its comfort
and convenience. Let us consider if it is worth the trouble.

62. We advanced a position in the last paper, that silence is never
perfect without motion. That is, unless something which might possibly
produce sound is evident to the eye, the absence of sound is not
surprising to the ear, and, therefore, not impressive. Let it be
observed, for instance, how much the stillness of a summer's evening is
enhanced by the perception of the gliding and majestic motion of some
calm river, strong but still; or of the high and purple clouds; or of
the voiceless leaves, among the opening branches. To produce this
impression, however, the motion must be uniform, though not necessarily
slow. One of the chief peculiarities of the ocean thoroughfares of
Venice, is the remarkable silence which rests upon them, enhanced as it
is by the swift, but beautifully uniform motion of the gondola. Now,
there is no motion more uniform, silent or beautiful than that of
smoke; and, therefore, when we wish the peace or stillness of a scene to
be impressive, it is highly useful to draw the attention to it.

63. In the cottage, therefore, a building peculiarly adapted for scenes
of peace, the chimney, as conducting the eye to what is agreeable, may
be considered as important, and, if well managed, a beautiful
accompaniment. But in buildings of a higher class, smoke ceases to be
interesting. Owing to their general greater elevation, it is relieved
against the sky, instead of against a dark background, thereby losing
the fine silvery blue,--which among trees, or rising out of a distant
country, is so exquisitely beautiful,--and assuming a dingy yellowish
black: its motion becomes useless; for the idea of stillness is no
longer desirable, or, at least, no longer attainable, being interrupted
by the nature of the building itself: and, finally, the associations it
arouses are not dignified; we may think of a comfortable fireside,
perhaps, but are quite as likely to dream of kitchens, and spits, and
shoulders of mutton. None of these imaginations are in their place, if
the character of the building be elevated; they are barely tolerable in
the dwelling house and the street. Now, when smoke is objectionable, it
is certainly improper to direct attention to the chimney; and,
therefore, for two weighty reasons, _decorated_ chimneys, of any sort or
size whatsoever, are inexcusable barbarisms; first, because, where smoke
is beautiful, decoration is unsuited to the building; and secondly,
because, where smoke is ugly, decoration directs attention _to its
ugliness_.

64. It is unfortunately a prevailing idea with some of our architects,
that what is a disagreeable object in itself may be relieved or
concealed by lavish ornament; and there never was a greater mistake. It
should be a general principle, that what is intrinsically ugly should be
utterly destitute of ornament, that the eye may not be drawn to it. The
pretended skulls of the three Magi at Cologne are set in gold, and have
a diamond in each eye; and are a thousand times more ghastly than if
their brown bones had been left in peace. Such an error as this ought
never to be committed in architecture. If any part of the building has
disagreeable associations connected with it, let it alone: do not
ornament it. Keep it subdued, and simply adapted to its use; and the eye
will not go to it, nor quarrel with it. It would have been well if this
principle had been kept in view in the renewal of some of the public
buildings in Oxford. In All Souls College, for instance, the architect
has carried his chimneys half as high as all the rest of the building,
and fretted them with Gothic. The eye is instantly caught by the plated
candlestick-like columns, and runs with some complacency up the groining
and fret-work, and alights finally and fatally on a red chimney-top. He
might as well have built a Gothic aisle at an entrance to a coal wharf.
We have no scruple in saying that the man who could desecrate the Gothic
trefoil into an ornament for a chimney has not the slightest feeling,
and never will have any, of its beauty or its use; he was never born to
be an architect, and never will be one.

65. Now, if chimneys are not to be decorated (since their existence is
necessary), it becomes an object of some importance to know what is to
be done with them: and we enter into the inquiry before leaving the
cottage, as in its most proper place; because, in the cottage, and only
in the cottage, it is desirable to direct attention to smoke.

Speculation, however, on the _beau ideal_ of a chimney can never be
unshackled; because, though we may imagine what it ought to be, we can
never tell, until the house is built, what it _must_ be; we may require
it to be short, and find that it will smoke, unless it is long; or, we
may desire it to be covered, and find it will not go unless it is open.
We can fix, therefore, on no one model; but by looking over the chimneys
of a few nations, we may deduce some general principles from their
varieties, which may always be brought into play, by whatever
circumstances our own imaginations may be confined.

66. Looking first to the mind of the people, we cannot expect to find
good examples of the chimney, as we go to the south. The Italian or the
Spaniard does not know the use of a chimney, properly speaking; they
_have_ such things, and they light a fire, five days in the year,
chiefly of wood, which does not give smoke enough to teach the chimney
its business; but they have not the slightest idea of the meaning or the
beauty of such things as hobs, and hearths, and Christmas blazes; and we
should, therefore, expect, _a priori_, that there would be no soul in
their chimneys; that they would have no practiced substantial air about
them; that they would, in short, be as awkward and as much in the way,
as individuals of the human race are, when they don't know what to do
with themselves, or what they were created for. But in England, sweet
carbonaceous England, we flatter ourselves we _do_ know something about
fire, and smoke too, or our eyes have strangely deceived us; and, from
the whole comfortable character and fireside disposition of the nation,
we should conjecture that the architecture of the chimney would be
understood, both as a matter of taste and as a matter of comfort, to the
_ne plus ultra_ of perfection. Let us see how far our expectations are
realized.

67. Fig. 7, _a_, _b_ and _c_ are English chimneys. They are
distinguishable, we think, at a glance, from all the rest, by a
downright serviceableness of appearance, a substantial, unaffected,
decent, and chimney-like deportment, in the contemplation of which we
experience infinite pleasure and edification, particularly as it seems
to us to be strongly contrasted with an appearance, in all the other
chimneys, of an indefinable something, only to be expressed by the
interesting word "humbug." Fig. _7 a_ is a chimney of Cumberland, and
the north of Lancashire. It is, as may be seen at a glance, only
applicable at the extremity of the roof, and requires a bent flue. It is
built of unhewn stones, in the same manner as the Westmoreland cottages;
the flue itself being not one-third the width of the chimney, as is seen
at the top, where four flat stones placed on their edges form the
termination of the flue itself, and give lightness of appearance to the
whole. Cover this with a piece of paper, and observe how heavy and
square the rest becomes. A few projecting stones continue the line of
the roof across the center of the chimney, and two large masses support
the projection of the whole, and unite it agreeably with the wall. This
is exclusively a cottage chimney; it cannot, and must not, be built of
civilized materials; it must be rough, and mossy, and broken; but it is
decidedly the best chimney of the whole set. It is simple and
substantial, without being cumbrous; it gives great variety to the wall
from which it projects, terminates the roof agreeably, and dismisses its
smoke with infinite propriety.

[Illustration: FIG. 7. Chimneys.]

68. Fig. _b_ is a chimney common over the whole of the north of England;
being, as I think, one that will go well in almost any wind, and is
applicable at any part of the roof. It is also roughly built, consisting
of a roof of loose stones, sometimes one large flat slab, supported
above the flue by four large supports, each of a single stone. It is
rather light in its appearance, and breaks the ridge of a roof very
agreeably. Separately considered, it is badly proportioned; but, as it
just equals the height to which a long chimney at the extremity of the
building would rise above the roof (as in a), it is quite right _in
situ_, and would be ungainly if it were higher. The upper part is always
dark, owing to the smoke, and tells agreeably against any background
seen through the hollow.

69. Fig. _c_ is the chimney of the Westmoreland cottage which formed the
subject of the last paper. The good taste which prevailed in the rest of
the building is not so conspicuous here, because the architect has begun
to consider effect instead of utility, and has put a diamond-shaped
piece of ornament on the front (usually containing the date of the
building), which was not necessary, and looks out of place. He has
endeavored to build neatly too, and has bestowed a good deal of plaster
on the outside, by all which circumstances the work is infinitely
deteriorated. We have always disliked cylindrical chimneys, probably
because they put us in mind of glasshouses and manufactories, for we are
aware of no more definite reason; yet this example is endurable, and has
a character about it which it would be a pity to lose. Sometimes when
the square part is carried down the whole front of the cottage, it looks
like the remains of some gray tower, and is not felt to be a chimney at
all. Such deceptions are always very dangerous, though in this case
sometimes attended with good effect, as in the old building called
Coniston Hall, on the shores of Coniston Water, whose distant outline
(Fig. 8) is rendered light and picturesque, by the size and shape of its
chimneys, which are the same in character as Fig. _c_.

[Illustration: FIG. 8. Coniston Hall, from the Lake near Brantwood
(1837).]

70. Of English chimneys adapted for buildings of a more elevated
character, we can adduce no good examples. The old red brick mass, which
we see in some of our venerable manor-houses, has a great deal of
English character about it, and is always agreeable, when the rest of
the building is of brick. Fig. _p_ is a chimney of this kind: there is
nothing remarkable in it; it is to be met with all over England; but we
have placed it beside its neighbor _q_ to show how the same form and
idea are modified by the mind of the nations who employ it. The design
is the same in both, the proportions also; but the one is a chimney, the
other a paltry model of a paltrier edifice. Fig. _q_ is Swiss, and is
liable to all the objections advanced against the Swiss cottages; it is
a despicable mimicry of a large building, like the tower in the
engraving of the Italian cottage (Sec. 31), carved in stone, it is true,
but not the less to be reprobated. Fig. _p_, on the contrary, is adapted
to its use, and has no affectation about it. It would be spoiled,
however, if built in stone; because the marked bricks tell us the size
of the whole at once, and prevent the eye from suspecting any intention
to deceive it with a mockery of arches and columns, the imitation of
which would be too perfect in stone; and therefore, even in this case,
we have failed in discovering a chimney adapted to the higher class of
edifices.

71. Fig. _d_ is a Netherland chimney, _e_ and _f_ German. Fig. _d_
belongs to an old Gothic building in Malines, and is a good example of
the application of the same lines to the chimney which occur in other
parts of the edifice, without bestowing any false elevation of
character. It is roughly carved in stone, projecting at its base
grotesquely from the roof, and covered at the top. The pointed arch, by
which its character is given, prevents it from breaking in upon the
lines of the rest of the building, and, therefore, in reality renders it
less conspicuous than it would otherwise have been. We should never have
noticed its existence, had we not been looking out for chimneys.

72. Fig. _e_ is also carved in stone, and where there is much variety of
architecture, or where the buildings are grotesque, would be a good
chimney, for the very simple reason, that it resembles nothing but a
chimney, and its lines are graceful. Fig. _f_, though ugly in the
abstract, might be used with effect in situations where perfect
simplicity would be too conspicuous; but both _e_ and _f_ are evidently
the awkward efforts of a tasteless nation, to produce something
original: they have lost the chastity which we admired in _a_, without
obtaining the grace and spirit of _l_ and _o_. In fact, they are
essentially German.

73. Figs. _h_ to _m_, inclusive, are Spanish, and have a peculiar
character, which would render it quite impossible to employ them out of
their own country. Yet they are not decorated chimneys. There is not one
fragment of ornament on any of them. All is done by variety of form; and
with such variety no fault can be found, because it is necessary to give
them the character of the buildings, out of which they rise. For we may
observe here, once for all, that character may be given either by form
or by decoration, and that where the latter is improper, variety of form
is allowable, because the humble associations which render ornament
objectionable, also render simplicity of form unnecessary.[13] We need
not then find fault with _fantastic_ chimneys, provided they are kept in
unison with the rest of the building, and do not draw too much
attention.

[Footnote 13: Elevation of character, as was seen in the Italian
cottage, depends upon simplicity of form.]

74. Fig. _h_, according to this rule, is a very good chimney. It is
graceful without pretending, and its grotesqueness will suit the
buildings round it--we wish we could give them: they are at Cordova.

Figs. _k_ and _l_ ought to be seen, as they would be in reality, rising
brightly up against the deep blue heaven of the south, the azure
gleaming through their hollows; unless perchance a slight breath of
refined, pure, pale vapor finds its way from time to time out of them
into the light air; their tiled caps casting deep shadows on their
white surfaces, and their _tout ensemble_ causing no interruption to
the feelings excited by the Moresco arches and grotesque dwelling houses
with which they would be surrounded; they are sadly spoiled by being cut
off at their bases.

75. Figs. _g_, _n_, _o_ are Italian. Fig. _g_ has only been given,
because it is constantly met with among the more modern buildings of
Italy. Figs. _n_ and _o_ are almost the only two varieties of chimneys
which are to be found on the old Venetian palaces (whose style is to be
traced partly to the Turk, and partly to the Moor). The curved lines of
_n_ harmonize admirably with those of the roof itself, and its
diminutive size leaves the simplicity of form of the large building to
which it belongs entirely uninterrupted and uninjured. Fig. _o_ is seen
perpetually carrying the whiteness of the Venetian marble up into the
sky; but it is too tall, and attracts by far too much attention, being
conspicuous on the sides of all the canals.

76. Figs. _q_, _r_, _s_ are Swiss. Fig. _r_ is one specimen of an
extensive class of decorated chimneys, met with in the northeastern
cantons. It is never large, and consequently having no false elevation
of character, and being always seen with eyes which have been prepared
for it, by resting on the details of the Swiss cottage, is less
disagreeable than might be imagined, but ought never to be imitated. The
pyramidal form is generally preserved, but the design is the same in no
two examples.

Fig. _s_ is a chimney very common in the eastern cantons, the principle
of which we never understood. The oblique part moves on a hinge, so as
to be capable of covering the chimney like a hat; and the whole is
covered with wooden scales, like those of a fish. This chimney sometimes
comes in very well among the confused rafters of the mountain cottage,
though it is rather too remarkable to be in good taste.

77. It seems then, that out of the eighteen chimneys, which we have
noticed, though several possess character, and one or two elegance, only
two are to be found fit for imitation; and, of these, one is exclusively
a _cottage_ chimney. This is somewhat remarkable and may serve as a
proof:--

First, of what we at first asserted, that chimneys which in any way
attract notice (and if these had not, we should not have sketched them)
were seldom to be imitated; that there are few buildings which require
them to be singular, and none which can tolerate them if decorated; and
that the architect should always remember that the size and height being
by necessity fixed, the form which draws least attention is the best.

78. Secondly, that this inconspicuousness is to be obtained, not by
adhering to any model of simplicity, but by taking especial care that
the lines of the chimney are no interruption, and its color no contrast,
to those of the building to which it belongs. Thus Figs. _h_ to _m_
would be far more actually remarkable in their natural situation, if
they were more simple in their form; for they would interrupt the
character of the rich architecture by which they are surrounded. Fig.
_d_, rising as it does above an old Gothic window, would have attracted
instant attention, had it not been for the occurrence of the same lines
in it which prevail beneath it. The form of _n_ only assimilates it more
closely with the roof on which it stands. But we must not _imitate_
chimneys of this kind, for their excellence consists only in their
agreement with other details, separated from which they would be
objectionable; we can only follow the principle of the design, which
appears, from all that we have advanced, to be this: we require, in a
good chimney, _the character of the building to which it belongs
divested of all its elevation, and its prevailing lines, deprived of all
their ornament_.

79. This it is, no doubt, excessively difficult to give; and, in
consequence, there are very few cities or edifices in which the chimneys
are not objectionable. We must not, therefore, omit to notice the
fulfillment of our expectations, founded on English character. The only
two chimneys fit for imitation, in the whole eighteen, are English; and
we would not infer anything from this, tending to invalidate the
position formerly advanced, that there was no taste in England; but we
would adduce it as a farther illustration of the rule, that what is most
adapted to its purpose is most beautiful. For that we have no taste,
even in chimneys, is sufficiently proved by the roof effects, even of
the most ancient, unaffected, and unplastered of our streets, in which
the chimneys, instead of assisting in the composition of the groups of
roofs, stand out in staring masses of scarlet and black, with foxes and
cocks whisking about, like so many little black devils, in the smoke on
the top of them, interrupting all repose, annihilating all dignity, and
awaking every possible conception which would be picturesque, and every
imagination which would be rapturous, to the mind of master-sweeps.

80. On the other hand, though they have not on the Continent the same
knowledge of the use and beauty of chimneys in the abstract, they
display their usual good taste in grouping, or concealing them; and,
whether we find them mingling with the fantastic domiciles of the
German, with the rich imaginations of the Spaniard, with the classical
remains and creations of the Italian, they are never intrusive or
disagreeable; and either assist the grouping, and relieve the
horizontality of the lines of the roof, or remain entirely unnoticed and
insignificant, smoking their pipes in peace.

81. It is utterly impossible to give rules for the attainment of these
effects, since they are the result of a feeling of the proportion and
relation of lines, which, if not natural to a person, cannot be
acquired, but by long practice and close observation; and it presupposes
a power rarely bestowed on an English architect, of setting regularity
at defiance, and sometimes comfort out of the question. We could give
some particular examples of this grouping; but, as this paper has
already swelled to an unusual length, we shall defer them until we come
to the consideration of street effects in general. Of the chimney in the
abstract, we are afraid we have only said enough to illustrate, without
removing, the difficulty of designing it; but we cannot but think that
the general principles which have been deduced, if carefully followed
out, would be found useful, if not for the attainment of excellence, at
least for the prevention of barbarism.

OXFORD, _Feb. 10, [1838]._




VI.

THE COTTAGE--CONCLUDING REMARKS.

"Nunquam aliud Natura, aliud Sapientia, dicit."

_Juvenal_ xiv. 321.


82. It now only remains for us to conclude the subject of the cottage,
by a few general remarks on the just application of modern buildings to
adorn or vivify natural scenery.

There are, we think, only three cases in which the cottage is considered
as an element of architectural, or any other kind of beauty, since it is
ordinarily raised by the peasant where he likes, and how he likes; and,
therefore, as we have seen, frequently in good taste.

83. I. When a nobleman, or man of fortune, amuses himself with
superintending the erection of the domiciles of his domestics. II. When
ornamental summer-houses, or mimicries of wigwams, are to be erected as
ornamental adjuncts to a prospect which the owner has done all he can to
spoil, that it may be worthy of the honor of having him to look at it.
III. When the landlord exercises a certain degree of influence over the
cottages of his tenants, or the improvements of the neighboring village,
so as to induce such a tone of feeling in the new erections as he may
think suitable to the situation.

84. In the first of these cases, there is little to be said; for the
habitation of the domestic is generally a dependent feature of his
master's, and, therefore, to be considered as a part of it. Porters'
lodges are also dependent upon, and to be regulated by, the style of the
architecture to which they are attached; and they are generally well
managed in England, properly united with the gate, and adding to the
effect of the entrance.

In the second case, as the act is in itself a barbarism, it would be
useless to consider what would be the best mode of perpetrating it.

In the third case, we think it will be useful to apply a few general
principles, deduced from positions formerly advanced.

85. All buildings are, of course, to be considered in connection with
the country in which they are to be raised. Now, all landscape must
possess one out of four distinct characters.

It must be either woody, the green country; cultivated, the blue
country; wild, the gray country; or hilly, the brown country.

I. The Woody, or green, Country. By this is to be understood the mixture
of park, pasture, and variegated forest, which is only to be seen in
temperate climates, and in those parts of a kingdom which have not often
changed proprietors, but have remained in unproductive beauty (or at
least, furnishing timber only), the garden of the wealthier population.
It is to be seen in no other country, perhaps, so well as in England. In
other districts, we find extensive masses of black forest, but not the
mixture of sunny glade, and various foliage, and dewy sward, which we
meet with in the richer park districts of England. This kind of country
is always surgy, oceanic, and massy, in its outline: it never affords
blue distances, unless seen from a height; and, even then, the nearer
groups are large, and draw away the attention from the background. The
under soil is kept cool by the shade, and its vegetation rich; so that
the prevailing color, except for a few days at the fall of the leaf, is
a fresh green. A good example of this kind of country is the view from
Richmond Hill.

86. Now, first, let us consider what sort of feeling this green country
excites; and, in order to do so, be it observed, that anything which is
apparently enduring and unchangeable gives us an impression rather of
future, than of past, duration of existence; but anything which being
perishable, and from its nature subject to change, has yet existed to a
great age, gives us an impression of antiquity, though, of course, none
of stability. A mountain, for instance (not geologically speaking, for
then the furrows on its brow give it age as visible as was ever wrinkled
on human forehead, but considering it as it appears to ordinary eyes),
appears to be beyond the influence of change: it does not put us in mind
of its past existence, by showing us any of the effect of time upon
itself; we do not feel that it is old, because it is not approaching any
kind of death; it is a mass of unsentient undecaying matter, which, if
we think about it, we discover must have existed for some time, but
which does not tell this fact to our feelings, or, rather, which tells
us of no time at which it came into existence; and therefore, gives us
no standard by which to measure its age, which, unless measured, cannot
be distinctly felt. But a very old forest tree is a thing subject to the
same laws of nature as ourselves: it is an energetic being, liable to an
approaching death; its age is written on every spray; and, because we
see it is susceptible of life and annihilation, like our own, we imagine
it must be capable of the same feelings, and possess the same faculties,
and, above all others, memory: it is always telling us about the past,
never pointing to the future; we appeal to it, as to a thing which has
seen and felt during a life similar to our own, though of ten times its
duration, and therefore receive from it a perpetual impression of
antiquity. So again a ruined town gives us an impression of antiquity;
the stones of which it is built, none; for their age is not written upon
them.

87. This being the case, it is evident that the chief feeling induced by
woody country is one of reverence for its antiquity. There is a quiet
melancholy about the decay of the patriarchal trunks, which is enhanced
by the green and elastic vigor of the young saplings; the noble form of
the forest aisles, and the subdued light which penetrates their
entangled boughs, combine to add to the impression; and the whole
character of the scene is calculated to excite conservative feeling.
The man who could remain a radical in a wood country is a disgrace to
his species.

88. Now, this feeling of mixed melancholy and veneration is the one of
all others which the modern cottage must not be allowed to violate. It
may be fantastic or rich in detail; for the one character will make it
look old-fashioned, and the other will assimilate with the intertwining
of leaf and bough around it: but it must not be spruce, or natty, or
very bright in color; and the older it looks the better.

A little grotesqueness in form is the more allowable, because the
imagination is naturally active in the obscure and indefinite daylight
of wood scenery; conjures up innumerable beings, of every size and
shape, to people its alleys and smile through its thickets; and is by no
means displeased to find some of its inventions half-realized in a
decorated panel or grinning extremity of a rafter.

89. These characters being kept in view, as objects to be attained, the
remaining considerations are technical.

For the form. Select any well-grown group of the tree which prevails
most near the proposed site of the cottage. Its summit will be a rounded
mass. Take the three principal points of its curve: namely, its apex and
the two points where it unites itself with neighboring masses. Strike a
circle through these three points; and the angle contained in the
segment cut off by a line joining the two lower points is to be the
angle of the cottage roof. (Of course we are not thinking of interior
convenience: the architect must establish his mode of beauty first, and
then approach it as nearly as he can.) This angle will generally be very
obtuse; and this is one reason why the Swiss cottage is always beautiful
when it is set among walnut or chestnut trees. Its obtuse roof is just
about the true angle. With pines or larches, the angle should not be
regulated by the form of the tree, but by the slope of the branches. The
building itself should be low and long, so that, if possible, it may not
be seen all at once, but may be partially concealed by trunks or leafage
at various distances.

90. For the color, that of wood is always beautiful. If the wood of the
near trees be used, so much the better; but the timbers should be
rough-hewn, and allowed to get weather-stained. Cold colors will not
suit with green; and, therefore, slated roofs are disagreeable, unless,
as in the Westmoreland cottage, the gray roof is warmed with lichenous
vegetation, when it will do well with anything; but thatch is better. If
the building be not of wood, the walls may be built of anything which
will give them a quiet and unobtruding warmth of tone. White, if in
shade, is sometimes allowable; but, if visible at any point more than
200 yards off, it will spoil the whole landscape. In general, as we saw
before, the building will bear some fantastic finishing, that is, if it
be entangled in forest; but, if among massive groups of trees, separated
by smooth sward, it must be kept simple.

91. II. The Cultivated, or blue, Country. This is the rich champaign
land, in which large trees are more sparingly scattered, and which is
chiefly devoted to the purposes of agriculture. In this we are
perpetually getting blue distances from the slightest elevation, which
are rendered more decidedly so by their contrast with warm corn or
plowed fields in the foreground. Such is the greater part of England.
The view from the hills of Malvern is a good example. In districts of
this kind, all is change; one year's crop has no memory of its
predecessor; all is activity, prosperity, and usefulness: nothing is
left to the imagination; there is no obscurity, no poetry, no nonsense:
the colors of the landscape are bright and varied; it is thickly
populated, and glowing with animal life. Here, then, the character of
the cottage must be cheerfulness; its colors may be vivid: white is
always beautiful; even red tiles are allowable, and red bricks
endurable. Neatness will not spoil it: the angle of its roof may be
acute, its windows sparkling, and its roses red and abundant; but it
must not be ornamented nor fantastic, it must be evidently built for the
uses of common life, and have a matter-of-fact business-like air about
it. Its outhouses and pigsties, and dunghills should therefore, be kept
in sight: the latter may be made very pretty objects, by twisting them
with the pitchfork, and plaiting them into braids, as the Swiss do.

92. III. The Wild, or gray, Country. "Wild" is not exactly a correct
epithet; we mean wide, uninclosed, treeless undulations of land, whether
cultivated or not. The greater part of northern France, though well
brought under the plow, would come under the denomination of gray
country. Occasional masses of monotonous forest do not destroy this
character. Here, size is desirable, and massiness of form; but we must
have no brightness of color in the cottage, otherwise it would draw the
eye to it at three miles off, and the whole landscape would be covered
with conspicuous dots. White is agreeable, if sobered down; slate
allowable on the roof as well as thatch. For the rest, we need only
refer to the remarks made on the propriety of the French cottage.

93. Lastly, Hill, or brown, Country. And here if we look to England
alone, as peculiarly a cottage country, the remarks formerly advanced,
in the consideration of the Westmoreland cottage, are sufficient; but if
we go into mountain districts of more varied character, we shall find a
difference existing between every range of hills, which will demand a
corresponding difference in the style of their cottages. The principles,
however, are the same in all situations, and it would be a hopeless task
to endeavor to give more than general principles. In hill country,
however, another question is introduced, whose investigation is
peculiarly necessary in cases in which the ground has inequality of
surface, that of position. And the difficulty here is, not so much to
ascertain where the building ought to be, as to put it there, without
suggesting any inquiry as to the mode in which it got there; to prevent
its just application from appearing artificial. But we cannot enter into
this inquiry, before laying down a number of principles of composition,
which are applicable, not only to cottages, but generally; and which we
cannot deduce until we come to the consideration of buildings in
groups.

94. Such are the great divisions under which country and rural buildings
may be comprehended; but there are intermediate conditions, in which
modified forms of the cottage are applicable; and it frequently happens
that country which, considered in the abstract, would fall under one of
these classes, possesses, owing to its peculiar climate or associations,
a very different character. Italy, for instance, is blue country; yet it
has not the least resemblance to English blue country. We have paid
particular attention to wood; first, because we had not, in any previous
paper, considered what was beautiful in a forest cottage; and secondly,
because in such districts there is generally much more influence
exercised by proprietors over their tenantry, than in populous and
cultivated districts; and our English park scenery, though exquisitely
beautiful, is sometimes, we think, a little monotonous, from the want of
this very feature.

95. And now, farewell to the cottage, and, with it, to the humility of
natural scenery. We are sorry to leave it; not that we have any idea of
living in a cottage, as a comfortable thing; not that we prefer mud to
marble, or deal to mahogany; but that, with it, we leave much of what is
most beautiful of earth, the low and bee-inhabited scenery, which is
full of quiet and prideless emotion, of such calmness as we can imagine
prevailing over our earth when it was new in heaven. We are going into
higher walks of architecture, where we shall find a less close
connection established between the building and the soil on which it
stands, or the air with which it is surrounded, but a closer connection
with the character of its inhabitant. We shall have less to do with
natural feeling, and more with human passion; we are coming out of
stillness into turbulence, out of seclusion into the multitude, out of
the wilderness into the world.




_PART II._

The Villa.

THE MOUNTAIN VILLA: LAGO DI COMO:

THE LOWLAND VILLA:--ENGLAND:

THE BRITISH VILLA: PRINCIPLES OF COMPOSITION.




I.

THE MOUNTAIN VILLA--LAGO DI COMO.


96. In all arts or sciences, before we can determine what is just or
beautiful in a group, we must ascertain what is desirable in the parts
which compose it, separately considered; and therefore it will be most
advantageous in the present case, to keep out of the village and the
city, until we have searched hill and dale for examples of isolated
buildings. This mode of considering the subject is also agreeable to the
feelings, as the transition from the higher orders of solitary edifices,
to groups of associated edifices, is not so sudden or startling, as that
from nature's most humble peace, to man's most turbulent pride.

We have contemplated the rural dwelling of the peasant; let us next
consider the ruralized domicile of the gentleman: and here, as before,
we shall first determine what is theoretically beautiful, and then
observe how far our expectations are fulfilled in individual buildings.
But a few preliminary observations are necessary.

97. Man, the peasant, is a being of more marked national character, than
man, the educated and refined. For nationality is founded, in a great
degree, on prejudices and feelings inculcated and aroused in youth,
which grow inveterate in the mind as long as its views are confined to
the place of its birth; its ideas molded by the customs of its country,
and its conversation limited to a circle composed of individuals of
habits and feelings like its own; but which are gradually softened down,
and eradicated, when the mind is led into general views of things, when
it is guided by reflection instead of habit, and has begun to lay aside
opinions contracted under the influence of association and
prepossession, substituting in their room philosophical deductions from
the calm contemplation of the various tempers, and thoughts, and
customs, of mankind. The love of its country will remain with
undiminished strength in the cultivated mind, but the national modes of
thinking will vanish from the disciplined intellect.

98. Now as it is only by these mannerisms of thought that architecture
is affected, we shall find that, the more polished the mind of its
designer, the less national will be the building; for its architect will
be led away by a search after a model of ideal beauty, and will not be
involuntarily guided by deep-rooted feelings, governing irresistibly his
heart and hand. He will therefore be in perpetual danger of forgetting
the necessary unison of scene and climate, and, following up the chase
of the ideal, will neglect the beauty of the natural; an error which he
could not commit, were he less general in his views, for then the
prejudices to which he would be subject, would be as truly in unison
with the objects which created them, as answering notes with the chords
which awaken them. We must not, therefore, be surprised, if buildings
bearing impress of the exercise of fine thought and high talent in their
design, should yet offend us by perpetual discords with scene and
climate; and if, therefore, we sometimes derive less instruction, and
less pleasure from the columnar portico of the Palace, than from the
latched door of the Cottage.

99. Again: man, in his hours of relaxation, when he is engaged in the
pursuit of mere pleasure, is less national than when he is under the
influence of any of the more violent feelings which agitate everyday
life. The reason of this may at first appear somewhat obscure, but it
will become evident, on a little reflection. Aristotle's definition of
pleasure, perhaps the best ever given, is "an agitation, and settling of
the spirit into its own proper nature;" similar, by the by, to the
giving of liberty of motion to the molecules of a mineral, followed by
their crystallization, into their own proper form. Now this "proper
nature," [Greek: hyparchousan physin], is not the acquired national
habit, but the common and universal constitution of the human soul. This
constitution is kept under by the feelings which prompt to action, for
those feelings depend upon parts of character, or of prejudice, which
are peculiar to individuals or to nations; and the pleasure which all
men seek is a kind of partial casting away of these more active
feelings, to return to the calm and unchanging constitution of mind
which is the same in all.

100. We shall, therefore, find that man, in the business of his life, in
religion, war, or ambition, is national, but in relaxation he manifests
a nature common to every individual of his race. A Turk, for instance,
and an English farmer, smoking their evening pipes, differ only in so
much as the one has a mouthpiece of amber, and the other one of sealing
wax; the one has a turban on his head, and the other a night-cap; they
are the same in feeling, and to all intents and purposes the same men.
But a Turkish janissary and an English grenadier differ widely in all
their modes of thinking, feeling, and acting; they are strictly
national. So again, a Tyrolese evening dance, though the costume, and
the step, and the music may be different, is the same in feeling as that
of the Parisian guinguette; but follow the Tyrolese into their temples,
and their deep devotion and beautiful though superstitious reverence
will be found very different from any feeling exhibited during a mass in
Notre-Dame. This being the case, it is a direct consequence, that we
shall find much nationality in the Church or the Fortress, or in any
building devoted to the purposes of active life, but very little in that
which is dedicated exclusively to relaxation, the Villa. We shall be
compelled to seek out nations of very strong feeling and imaginative
disposition, or we shall find no correspondence whatever between their
character, and that of their buildings devoted to pleasure.

101. In our own country, for instance, there is not the slightest.
Beginning at the head of Windermere, and running down its border for
about six miles, there are six important gentlemen's seats, villas they
may be called; the first of which is a square white mass, decorated with
pilasters of no order, set in a green avenue, sloping down to the water;
the second is an imitation, we suppose, of something possessing
theoretical existence in Switzerland, with sharp gable ends, and wooden
flourishes turning the corners, set on a little dumpy mound with a slate
wall running all round it, glittering with iron pyrites; the third is a
blue dark-looking box, squeezed up into a group of straggly larches,
with a bog in front of it; the fourth is a cream-colored domicile, in a
large park, rather quiet and unaffected, the best of the four, though
that is not saying much; the fifth is an old-fashioned thing, formal,
and narrow-windowed, yet gray in its tone, and quiet, and not to be
maligned; and the sixth is a nondescript, circular, putty-colored
habitation, with a leaden dome on the top of it.

102. If, however, instead of taking Windermere, we trace the shore of
the Lago di Como, we shall find some expression and nationality; and
there, therefore, will we go, to return, however, to England, when we
have obtained some data by which to judge of her more fortunate
edifices. We notice the mountain villa first, for two reasons; because
effect is always more considered in its erection, than when it is to be
situated in a less interesting country, and because the effect desired
is very rarely given, there being far greater difficulties to contend
with. But one word more, before setting off for the south. Though, as we
saw before, the gentleman has less _national_ character than the boor,
his _individual_ character is more marked, especially in its finer
features, which are clearly and perfectly developed by education;
consequently, when the inhabitant of the villa has had anything to do
with its erection, we might expect to find indications of individual and
peculiar feelings, which it would be most interesting to follow out. But
this is no part of our present task; at some future period we hope to
give a series of essays on the habitations of the most distinguished men
of Europe, showing how the alterations which they directed, and the
expression which they bestowed, corresponded with the turn of their
emotions, and leading intellectual faculties: but at present we have to
deal only with generalities; we have to ascertain not what will be
pleasing to a single mind, but what will afford gratification to every
eye possessing a certain degree of experience, and every mind endowed
with a certain degree of taste.

103. Without further preface, therefore, let us endeavor to ascertain
what would be theoretically beautiful, on the shore, or among the
scenery of the Larian Lake, preparatory to a sketch of the general
features of those villas which exist there, in too great a multitude to
admit, on our part, of much individual detail.

For the general tone of the scenery, we may refer to the paper on the
Italian cottage; for the shores of the Lake of Como have generally the
character there described, with a little more cheerfulness, and a little
less elevation,[14] but aided by great variety of form. They are not
quite so rich in vegetation as the plains: both because the soil is
scanty, there being, of course, no decomposition going on among the
rocks of black marble which form the greater part of the shore; and
because the mountains rise steeply from the water, leaving only a narrow
zone at their bases in the climate of Italy. In that zone, however, the
olive grows in great luxuriance, with the cypress, orange, aloe, myrtle,
and vine, the latter always trellised.

[Footnote 14: That Italian mountain scenery has less elevation of
character than the plains may appear singular; but there are many simple
reasons for a fact which, we doubt not, has been felt by every one
(capable of feeling anything), who ever left the Alps to pass into
Lombardy. The first is, that a mountain scene, as we saw in the last
paper, bears no traces of decay, since it never possessed any of life.
The desolation of the sterile peaks, never having been interrupted, is
altogether free from the melancholy which is consequent on the passing
away of interruption. They stood up in the time of Italy's glory, into
the voiceless air, while all the life and light which she remembers now
was working and moving at their feet, an animated cloud, which they did
not feel, and do not miss. That region of life never reached up their
flanks, and has left them no memorials of its being; they have no
associations, no monuments, no memories; we look on them as we would on
other hills; things of abstract and natural magnificence, which the
presence of man could not increase, nor his departure sadden. They are,
in consequence, destitute of all that renders the name of Ausonia
thrilling, or her champaigns beautiful, beyond the mere splendor of
climate; and even that splendor is unshared by the mountain; its cold
atmosphere being undistinguished by any of that rich, purple, ethereal
transparency which gives the air of the plains its _depth of
feeling_,--we can find no better expression.

Secondly. In all hill scenery, though there is increase of size, there
is want of distance. We are not speaking of views from summits, but of
the average aspect of valleys. Suppose the mountains be 10,000 feet
high, their summit will not be more than six miles distant in a direct
line: and there is a general sense of confinement, induced by their
wall-like boundaries, which is painful, contrasted with the wide
expatiation of spirit induced by a distant view over plains. In ordinary
countries, however, where the plain is an uninteresting mass of
cultivation, the sublimity of distance is not to be compared to that of
size: but, where every yard of the cultivated country has its tale to
tell; where it is perpetually intersected by rivers whose names are
meaning music, and glancing with cities and villages every one of which
has its own halo round its head; and where the eye is carried by the
clearness of the air over the blue of the farthest horizon, without
finding one wreath of mist, or one shadowy cloud, to check the
distinctness of the impression; the mental emotions excited are richer,
and deeper, and swifter than could be awakened by the noblest hills of
the earth, unconnected with the deeds of men.

Lastly. The plain country of Italy has not even to choose between the
glory of distance and of size, for it has both. I do not think there is
a spot, from Venice to Messina, where two ranges of mountain, at the
least, are not in sight at the same time. In Lombardy, the Alps are on
one side, the Apennines on the other; in the Venetian territory, the
Alps, Apennines and Euganean hills; going southward, the Apennines
always, their outworks running far towards the sea, and the coast itself
frequently mountainous. Now, the aspect of a noble range of hills, at a
considerable distance, is, in our opinion, far more imposing (considered
in the abstract) than they are, seen near: their height is better told,
their outlines softer and more melodious, their majesty more mysterious.
But, in Italy, they gain more by distance than majesty: they gain life.
They cease to be the cold forgetful things they were; they hold the
noble plains in their lap, and become venerable, as having looked down
upon them, and watched over them forever, unchanging; they become part
of the picture of associations: we endow them with memory, and then feel
them to be possessed of all that is glorious on earth.

For these three reasons, then, the plains of Italy possess far more
elevation of character than her hill scenery. To the northward, this
contrast is felt very strikingly, as the distinction is well marked, the
Alps rising sharply and suddenly. To the southward, the plain is more
mingled with low projecting promontories, and unites almost every kind
of beauty. However, even among her northern lakes, the richness of the
low climate, and the magnificence of form and color presented by the
distant Alps, raise the character of the scene immeasurably above that
of most hill landscapes, even were those natural features entirely
unassisted by associations which, though more sparingly scattered than
in the south, are sufficient to give light to every leaf, and voice to
every wave.]

104. Now, as to the situation of the cottage, we have already seen that
great humility was necessary, both in the building and its site, to
prevent it from offending us by an apparent struggle with forces,
compared with which its strength was dust: but we cannot have this
extreme humility in the villa, the dwelling of wealth and power, and yet
we must not, any more, suggest the idea of its resisting natural
influences under which the Pyramids could not abide. The only way of
solving the difficulty is, to select such sites as shall seem to have
been set aside by nature as places of rest, as points of calm and
enduring beauty, ordained to sit and smile in their glory of quietness,
while the avalanche brands the mountain top,[15] and the torrent
desolates the valley; yet so preserved, not by shelter amidst violence,
but by being placed wholly out of the influence of violence. For in this
they must differ from the site of the cottage, that the peasant may seek
for protection under some low rock or in some narrow dell, but the villa
must have a domain to itself, at once conspicuous, beautiful, and calm.

[Footnote 15: There are two kinds of winter avalanches; the one, sheets
of frozen snow sliding on the surface of others. The swiftness of these,
as the clavendier of the Convent of St. Bernard told me, he could
compare to nothing but that of a cannon ball of equal size. The other is
a rolling mass of snow, accumulating in its descent. This, grazing the
bare hill-side, tears up its surface like dust, bringing away soil,
rock, and vegetation, as a grazing ball tears flesh; and leaving its
withered path distinct on the green hill-side, as if the mountain had
been branded with red-hot iron. They generally keep to the same paths;
but when the snow accumulates, and sends one down the wrong way, it has
been known to cut down a pine forest, as a scythe mows grass. The tale
of its work is well told by the seared and branded marks on the hill
summits and sides.]

105. As regards the form of the cottage, we have seen how the
Westmoreland cottage harmonized with the ease of outline so conspicuous
in hill scenery, by the irregularity of its details; but, here, no such
irregularity is allowable or consistent, and is not even desirable. For
the cottage enhances the wildness of the surrounding scene, by
sympathizing with it; the villa must do the same thing, by contrasting
with it. The eye feels, in a far greater degree, the terror of the
distant and desolate peaks, when it passes down their ravined sides to
sloping and verdant hills, and is guided from these to the rich glow of
vegetable life in the low zones, and through this glow to the tall front
of some noble edifice, peaceful even in its pride. But this contrast
must not be sudden, or it will be startling and harsh; and therefore, as
we saw above, the villa must be placed where all the severe features of
the scene, though not concealed, are distant, and where there is a
graduation, so to speak, of impressions, from terror to loveliness, the
one softened by distance, the other elevated in its style: and the form
of the villa must not be fantastic or angular, but must be full of
variety, so tempered by simplicity as to obtain ease of outline united
with elevation of character; the first being necessary for reasons
before advanced, and the second, that the whole may harmonize with the
feelings induced by the lofty features of the accompanying scenery in
any hill country, and yet more, on the Larian Lake, by the deep memories
and everlasting associations which haunt the stillness of its shore. Of
the color required by Italian landscape we have spoken before, and we
shall see that, particularly in this case, white or pale tones are
agreeable.

106. We shall now proceed to the situation and form of the villa. As
regards situation; the villas of the Lago di Como are built, _par
preference_, either on jutting promontories of low crag covered with
olives, or on those parts of the shore where some mountain stream has
carried out a bank of alluvium into the lake. One object proposed in
this choice of situation is, to catch the breeze as it comes up the main
opening of the hills, and to avoid the reflection of the sun's rays from
the rocks of the actual shore; and another is, to obtain a prospect up
or down the lake, and of the hills on whose projection the villa is
built: but the effect of this choice when the building is considered the
object, is to carry it exactly into the place where it ought to be, far
from the steep precipice and dark mountain, to the border of the winding
bay and citron-scented cape, where it stands at once conspicuous and in
peace. For instance, in the view of Villa Serbelloni[16] from across the
lake, although the eye falls suddenly from the crags above to the
promontory below, yet all the sublime and severe features of the scene
are kept in the distance, and the villa itself is mingled with graceful
lines, and embosomed in rich vegetation. The promontory separates the
Lake of Lecco from that of Como, properly so-called, and is three miles
from the opposite shore, which gives room enough for aerial perspective.

[Footnote 16: [Villa Serbelloni, now the dependence of the Hotel Grande
Bretagne at Bellaggio, and Villa Somma-Riva, now called Villa Carlotta,
at Cadenabbia, and visited by every tourist for its collection of modern
statuary, are both too well known to need illustration by the very poor
wood-cuts which accompanied this chapter in the "Architectural
Magazine." The original drawings are lost; judging from that of the
cottage in Val d'Aosta we may safely believe that they were most
inadequately represented by the old cuts.]]

107. We shall now consider the form of the villa. It is generally the
apex of a series of artificial terraces, which conduct through its
gardens to the water. These are formal in their design, but extensive,
wide, and majestic in their slope, the steps being generally about 1/2
ft. high and 4-1/2 ft. wide (sometimes however much deeper). They are
generally supported by white wall, strengthened by unfilled arches, the
angles being turned by sculptured pedestals, surmounted by statues, or
urns. Along the terraces are carried rows, sometimes of cypress, more
frequently of orange or lemon trees, with myrtles, sweet bay, and aloes,
intermingled, but always with dark and spiry cypresses occurring in
groups; and attached to these terraces, or to the villa itself, are
series of arched grottoes built (or sometimes cut in the rock) for
coolness, frequently overhanging the water, kept dark and fresh, and
altogether delicious to the feelings. A good instance of these united
peculiarities is seen in Villa Somma-Riva, Lago di Como.

The effect of these approaches is disputable. It is displeasing to many,
from its formality; but we are persuaded that it is right, because it is
a national style, and therefore has in all probability due connection
with scene and character: and this connection we shall endeavor to
prove.

108. The frequent occurrence of the arch is always delightful in distant
effect, partly on account of its graceful line, partly because the shade
it casts is varied in depth, becoming deeper and deeper as the grotto
retires, and partly because it gives great apparent elevation to the
walls which it supports. The grottoes themselves are agreeable objects
seen near, because they give an impression of coolness to the eye; and
they echo all sounds with great melody; small streams are often
conducted through them, occasioning slight breezes by their motion. Then
the statue and the urn are graceful in their outline, classical in their
meaning, and correct in their position, for where could they be more
appropriate than here; the one ministering to memory, and the other to
mourning. The terraces themselves are dignified in their character (a
necessary effect, as we saw above), and even the formal rows of trees
are right in this climate, for a peculiar reason. Effect is always to be
considered, in Italy, as if the sun were always to shine, for it does
nine days out of ten. Now the shadows of foliage regularly disposed,
fall with a grace which it is impossible to describe, running up and
down across the marble steps, and casting alternate statues into
darkness; and checkering the white walls with a "method in their
madness," altogether unattainable by loose grouping of trees; and
therefore, for the sake of this kind of shade, to which the eye, as well
as the feeling, is attracted, the long row of cypresses or orange trees
is allowable.

109. But there is a still more important reason for it, of a directly
contrary nature to that which its formality would seem to require. In
all beautiful designs of exterior descent, a certain regularity is
necessary; the lines should be graceful, but they must balance each
other, slope answering to slope, statue to statue. Now this mathematical
regularity would hurt the eye excessively in the midst of scenes of
natural grace, were it executed in bare stone; but, if we make part of
the design itself foliage, and put in touches of regular shade,
alternating with the stone, whose distances and darkness are as
mathematically limited as the rest of the grouping, but whose nature is
changeful and varied in individual forms, we have obtained a link
between nature and art, a step of transition, leading the feelings
gradually from the beauty of regularity to that of freedom. And this
effect would not be obtained, as might at first appear, by intermingling
trees of different kinds, at irregular distances, or wherever they chose
to grow; for then the design and the foliage would be instantly
separated by the eye, the symmetry of the one would be interrupted, the
grace of the other lost; the nobility of the design would not be seen,
but its formality would be felt; and the wildness of the trees would be
injurious, because it would be felt to be out of place. On principles of
composition, therefore, the regular disposition of decorative foliage is
right, when such foliage is mixed with architecture; but it requires
great taste, and long study, to design this disposition properly. Trees
of dark leaf and little color should be invariably used, for they are to
be considered, it must be remembered, rather as free touches of shade
than as trees.

110. Take, for instance, the most simple bit of design, such as a hollow
balustrade, and suppose that it is found to look cold or raw, when
executed, and to want depth. Then put small pots, with any dark shrub,
the darker the better, at fixed places behind them, at the same distance
as the balustrades, or between every two or three, and keep them cut
down to a certain height, and we have immediate depth and increased
ease, with undiminished symmetry. But the great difficulty is to keep
the thing within proper limits, since too much of it will lead to
paltriness, as is the case in a slight degree in Isola Bella, on Lago
Maggiore; and not to let it run into small details: for, be it
remembered, that it is only in the majesty of art, in its large and
general effects, that this regularity is allowable; nothing but variety
should be studied in detail, and therefore there can be no barbarism
greater than the lozenge borders and beds of the French garden. The
scenery around must be naturally rich, that its variety of line may
relieve the slight stiffness of the architecture itself: and the climate
must always be considered; for, as we saw, the chief beauty of these
flights of steps depends upon the presence of the sun; and, if they are
to be in shade half the year, the dark trees will only make them gloomy,
the grass will grow between the stones of the steps, black weeds will
flicker from the pedestals, damp mosses discolor the statues and urns,
and the whole will become one incongruous ruin, one ridiculous decay.
Besides, the very dignity of its character, even could it be kept in
proper order, would be out of place in any country but Italy. Busts of
Virgil or Ariosto would look astonished in an English snowstorm; statues
of Apollo and Diana would be no more divine, where the laurels of the
one would be weak, and the crescent of the other would never gleam in
pure moonlight. The whole glory of the design consists in its unison
with the dignity of the landscape, and with the classical tone of the
country. Take it away from its concomitant circumstances, and, instead
of conducting the eye to it by a series of lofty and dreamy impressions,
bring it through green lanes, or over copse-covered crags, as would be
the case in England, and the whole system becomes utterly and absolutely
absurd, ugly in outline, worse than useless in application, unmeaning in
design, and incongruous in association.

111. It seems, then, that in the approach to the Italian villa, we have
discovered great nationality and great beauty, which was more than we
could have expected, but a beauty utterly untransferable from its own
settled habitation. In our next paper we shall proceed to the building
itself, which will not detain us long, as it is generally simple in its
design, and take a general view of villa architecture over Italy.

112. We have bestowed considerable attention on this style of Garden
Architecture, because it has been much abused by persons of high
authority, and general good taste, who forgot, in their love of grace
and ideal beauty, the connection with surrounding circumstances so
manifest even in its formality. Eustace, we think, is one of these; and,
although it is an error of a kind he is perpetually committing, he is so
far right, that this mannerism is frequently carried into excess even in
its own peculiar domain, then becoming disagreeable, and is always a
dangerous style in inexperienced hands. We think, however, paradoxical
as the opinion may appear, that every one who is a true lover of nature,
and has been bred in her wild school, will be an admirer of this
symmetrical designing, in its place; and will feel, as often as he
contemplates it, that the united effect of the wide and noble steps,
with the pure water dashing over them like heated crystal, the long
shadows of the cypress groves, the golden leaves and glorious light of
blossom of the glancing aloes, the pale statues gleaming along the
heights in their everlasting death in life, their motionless brows
looking down forever on the loveliness in which their beings once dwelt,
marble forms of more than mortal grace lightening along the green
arcades, amidst dark cool grottoes, full of the voice of dashing waters,
and of the breath of myrtle blossoms, with the blue of the deep lake and
the distant precipice mingling at every opening with the eternal snows
glowing in their noontide silence, is one not unworthy of Italy's most
noble remembrances.




II.

THE MOUNTAIN VILLA--LAGO DI COMO (Continued).


113. Having considered the propriety of the approach, it remains for us
to investigate the nature of the feelings excited by the villas of the
Lago di Como in particular, and of Italy in general.

We mentioned that the bases of the mountains bordering the Lake of Como
were chiefly composed of black marble; black, at least, when polished,
and very dark gray in its general effect. This is very finely stratified
in beds varying in thickness from an inch to two or three feet; and
these beds, taken of a medium thickness, form flat slabs, easily broken
into rectangular fragments, which, being excessively compact in their
grain, are admirably adapted for a building material. There is a little
pale limestone[17] among the hills to the south; but this marble, or
primitive limestone (for it is not highly crystalline), is not only more
easy of access, but a more durable stone. Of this, consequently, almost
all the buildings on the lake shore are built; and, therefore, were
their material unconcealed, would be of a dark monotonous and melancholy
gray tint, equally uninteresting to the eye, and depressing to the mind.
To prevent this result, they are covered with different compositions,
sometimes white, more frequently cream-colored, and of varying depth;
the moldings and pilasters being frequently of deeper tones than the
walls. The insides of the grottoes, however, when not cut in the rock
itself, are left uncovered, thus forming a strong contrast with the
whiteness outside; giving great depth, and permitting weeds and flowers
to root themselves on the roughnesses, and rock streams to distill
through the fissures of the dark stones; while all parts of the building
to which the eye is drawn, by their form or details (except the capitals
of the pilasters), such as the urns, the statues, the steps, or
balustrades, are executed in very fine white marble, generally from the
quarries of Carrara, which supply quantities of fragments of the finest
quality, which nevertheless, owing to their want of size, or to the
presence of conspicuous veins, are unavailable for the higher purposes
of sculpture.

[Footnote 17: Pale limestone, with dolomite. A coarse dolomite forms the
mass of mountains on the east of Lake Lecco, Monte Campione, etc., and
part of the other side, as well as the Monte del Novo, above Cadenabbia;
but the bases of the hills, along the _shore_ of the Lake of Lecco, and
all the mountains on both sides of the lower limb of Como are black
limestone. The whole northern half of the lake is bordered by gneiss or
mica slate, with tertiary deposit where torrents enter it. So that the
dolomite is only obtainable by ascending the hills, and incurring
considerable expense of carriage; while the rocks of the shore split
into blocks of their own accord, and are otherwise an excellent
material.]

114. Now, the first question is, is this very pale color desirable? It
is to be hoped so, or else the whole of Italy must be pronounced full of
impropriety. The first circumstance in its favor is one which, though
connected only with lake scenery, we shall notice at length, as it is a
point of high importance in our own country. When a small piece of quiet
water reposes in a valley, or lies embosomed among crags, its chief
beauty is derived from our perception of crystalline depth, united with
excessive slumber. In its limited surface we cannot get the sublimity of
extent, but we may have the beauty of peace, and the majesty of depth.
The object must therefore be, to get the eye off its surface, and to
draw it down, to beguile it into that fairy land underneath, which is
more beautiful than what it repeats, because it is all full of dreams
unattainable, and illimitable. This can only be done by keeping its edge
out of sight, and guiding the eye off the land into the reflection, as
if it were passing into a mist, until it finds itself swimming into the
blue sky, with a thrill of unfathomable falling. (If there be not a
touch of sky at the bottom, the water will be disagreeably black, and
the clearer the more fearful.) Now, one touch of _white_ reflection of
an object at the edge will destroy the whole illusion, for it will come
like the flash of light on armor, and will show the surface, not the
depth: it will tell the eye whereabouts it is; will define the limit of
the edge; and will turn the dream of limitless depth into a small,
uninteresting, reposeless piece of water. In all small lakes or pools,
therefore, steep borders of dark crag, or of thick foliage, are to be
obtained, if possible; even a shingly shore will spoil them: and this
was one reason, it will be remembered for our admiration of the color of
the Westmoreland cottage, because it never broke the repose of water by
its reflection.

115. But this principle applies only to small pieces of water, on which
we look down, as much as along the surface. As soon as we get a sheet,
even if only a mile across, we lose depth; first, because it is almost
impossible to get the surface without a breeze on some part of it; and,
again, because we look along it, and get a great deal of sky in the
reflection, which, when occupying too much space, tells as mere flat
light. But we may have the beauty of extent in a very high degree; and
it is therefore desirable to know how far the water goes, that we may
have a clear conception of its space. Now, its border, at a great
distance, is always lost, unless it be defined by a very distinct line;
and such a line is harsh, flat, and cutting on the eye. To avoid this,
the border itself should be dark, as in the other case, so that there
may be no continuous horizontal line of demarcation; but one or two
bright white objects should be set here and there along or near the
edge: their reflections will flash on the dark water, and will inform
the eye in a moment of the whole distance and transparency of the
surface it is traversing. When there is a slight swell on the water,
they will come down in long, beautiful, perpendicular lines, mingling
exquisitely with the streaky green of reflected foliage; when there is
none, they become a distant image of the object they repeat, endowed
with infinite repose.

116. These remarks, true of small lakes whose edges are green, apply
with far greater force to sheets of water on which the eye passes over
ten or twenty miles in one long glance, and the prevailing color of
whose borders is, as we noticed when speaking of the Italian cottage,
blue. The white reflections are here excessively valuable, giving space,
brilliancy, and transparency; and furnish one very powerful apology,
even did other objections render an apology necessary, for the pale tone
of the color of the villas, whose reflections, owing to their size and
conspicuous situations, always take a considerable part in the scene,
and are therefore things to be attentively considered in the erection of
such buildings, particularly in a climate whose calmness renders its
lakes quiet for the greater part of the day. Nothing, in fact, can be
more beautiful than the intermingling of these bright lines with the
darkness of the reversed cypresses seen against the deep azure of the
distant hills in the crystalline waters of the lake, of which some one
aptly says, "Deep within its azure rest, white villages sleep
silently;"[18] or than their columnar perspective, as village after
village catches the light, and strikes the image to the very quietest
recess of the narrow water, and the very farthest hollow of the folded
hills.

[Footnote 18: [A reminiscence of two lines from a poem on the "Lago di
Como" written by the author in 1833.]]

117. From all this, it appears that the effect of the white villa in
water is delightful. On land it is quite as important, but more
doubtful. The first objection, which strikes us instantly when we
_imagine_ such a building, is the want of repose, the startling glare of
effect, induced by its unsubdued tint. But this objection does not
strike us when we _see_ the building; a circumstance which was partly
accounted for before, in speaking of the cottage, and which we shall
presently see farther cause not to be surprised at. A more important
objection is, that such whiteness destroys a great deal of venerable
character, and harmonizes ill with the melancholy tones of surrounding
landscape: and this requires detailed consideration.

118. Paleness of color destroys the majesty of a building; first, by
hinting at a disguised and humble material; and, secondly, by taking
away all appearance of age. We shall speak of the effect of the material
presently; but the deprivation of apparent antiquity is dependent in a
great degree on the color; and in Italy, where, as we saw before,
everything ought to point to the past, is serious injury, though, for
several reasons, not so fatal as might be imagined; for we do not
require, in a building raised as a light summer-house, wherein to while
away a few pleasure hours, the evidence of ancestral dignity, without
which the chateau or palace can possess hardly any beauty. We know that
it is originally built more as a plaything than as a monument; as the
delight of an individual, not the possession of a race; and that the
very lightness and carelessness of feeling with which such a domicile is
entered and inhabited by its first builder would demand, to sympathize
and keep in unison with them, not the kind of building adapted to excite
the veneration of ages, but that which can most gayly minister to the
amusement of hours. For all men desire to have memorials of their
actions, but none of their recreations; inasmuch as we only wish that to
be remembered which others will not, or cannot perform or experience;
and we know that all men can enjoy recreation as much as ourselves. We
wish succeeding generations to admire our energy, but not even to be
aware of our lassitude; to know when we moved, but not when we rested;
how we ruled, not how we condescended; and, therefore, in the case of
the triumphal arch, or the hereditary palace, if we are the builders, we
desire stability; if the beholders, we are offended with novelty: but in
the case of the villa, the builder desires only a correspondence with
his humor; the beholder, evidence of such correspondence; for he feels
that the villa is most beautiful when it ministers most to pleasure;
that it cannot minister to pleasure without perpetual change, so as to
suit the varying ideas, and humors, and imaginations of its inhabitant,
and that it cannot possess this light and variable habit with any
appearance of antiquity.

119. And, for a yet more important reason, such appearance is not
desirable. Melancholy, when it is productive of pleasure, is accompanied
either by loveliness in the object exciting it, or by a feeling of pride
in the mind experiencing it. Without one of these, it becomes absolute
pain, which all men throw off as soon as they can, and suffer under as
long as their minds are too weak for the effort. Now, when it is
accompanied by loveliness in the object exciting it, it forms beauty;
when by a feeling of pride, it constitutes the pleasure we experience in
tragedy, when we have the pride of endurance, or in contemplating the
ruin, or the monument, by which we are informed or reminded of the pride
of the past. Hence, it appears that age is beautiful only when it is the
decay of glory or of power, and memory only delightful when it reposes
upon pride.[19] All remains therefore of what was merely devoted to
pleasure; all evidence of lost enjoyment; all memorials of the
recreation and rest of the departed; in a word, all desolation of
delight is productive of mere pain, for there is no feeling of
exultation connected with it. Thus, in any ancient habitation, we pass
with reverence and pleasurable emotion through the ordered armory, where
the lances lie, with none to wield; through the lofty hall, where the
crested scutcheons glow with the honor of the dead: but we turn sickly
away from the arbor which has no hand to tend it, and the boudoir which
has no life to lighten it, and the smooth sward which has no light feet
to dance on it. So it is in the villa: the more memory, the more sorrow;
and, therefore, the less adaptation to its present purpose. But, though
cheerful, it should be ethereal in its expression: "spiritual" is a good
word, giving ideas of the very highest order of delight that can be
obtained in the mere present.

[Footnote 19: Observe, we are not speaking of emotions felt on
remembering what we ourselves have enjoyed, for then the imagination is
productive of pleasure by replacing us in enjoyment, but of the feelings
excited in the _indifferent_ spectator, by the evident decay of power or
desolation of enjoyment, of which the first ennobles, the other only
harrows, the spirit.]

120. It seems, then, that for all these reasons an appearance of age is
not desirable, far less necessary, in the villa; but its existing
character must be in unison with its country; and it must appear to be
inhabited by one brought up in that country, and imbued with its
national feelings. In Italy, especially, though we can even here
dispense with one component part of elevation of character,--age, we
must have all the others: we must have high feeling, beauty of form, and
depth of effect, or the thing will be a barbarism; the inhabitant must
be an Italian, full of imagination and emotion: a villa inhabited by an
Englishman, no matter how close its imitation of others, will always be
preposterous.

We find, therefore, that white is not to be blamed in the villa for
destroying its antiquity; neither is it reprehensible, as harmonizing
ill with the surrounding landscape: on the contrary, it adds to its
brilliancy, without taking away from its depth of tone. We shall
consider it as an element of landscape, more particularly, when we come
to speak of grouping.

121. There remains only one accusation to be answered; viz., that it
hints at a paltry and unsubstantial material: and this leads us to the
second question. Is this material allowable? If it were distinctly felt
by the eye to be stucco, there could be no question about the matter, it
would be decidedly disagreeable; but all the parts to which the eye is
attracted are executed in marble, and the stucco merely forms the dead
flat of the building, not a single wreath of ornament being formed of
it. Its surface is smooth and bright, and altogether avoids what a stone
building, when not built of large masses, and uncharged with ornament,
always forces upon the attention, the rectangular lines of the blocks,
which, however nicely fitted they may be, are "horrible! most horrible!"
There is also a great deal of ease and softness in the angular lines of
the stucco, which are never sharp or harsh, like those of stone; and it
receives shadows with great beauty, a point of infinite importance in
this climate; giving them lightness and transparency, without any
diminution of depth. It is also agreeable to the eye, to pass from the
sharp carving of the marble decorations to the ease and smoothness of
the stucco; while the utter want of interest in those parts which are
executed in it prevents the humility of the material from being
offensive: for this passage of the eye from the marble to the
composition is managed with the dexterity of the artist, who, that the
attention may be drawn to the single point of the picture which is his
subject, leaves the rest so obscured and slightly painted, that the mind
loses it altogether in its attention to the principal feature.

122. With all, however, that can be alleged in extenuation of its
faults, it cannot be denied that the stucco _does_ take away so much of
the dignity of the building, that, unless we find enough bestowed by its
form and details to counterbalance, and a great deal more than
counterbalance, the deterioration occasioned by tone and material, the
whole edifice must be condemned, as incongruous with the spirit of the
climate, and even with the character of its own gardens and approach. It
remains, therefore, to notice the details themselves. Its form is simple
to a degree; the roof generally quite flat, so as to leave the mass in
the form of a parallelopiped, in general without wings or adjuncts of
any sort. Villa Somma-Riva [Carlotta] is a good example of this general
form and proportion, though it has an arched passage on each side, which
takes away from its massiness. This excessive weight of effect would be
injurious, if the building were set by itself; but, as it always forms
the apex of a series of complicated terraces, it both relieves them and
gains great dignity by its own unbroken simplicity of size. This general
effect of form is not injured, when, as is often the case, an open
passage is left in the center of the building, under tall and
well-proportioned arches, supported by pilasters (never by columns).
Villa Porro, Lago di Como, is a good example of this method. The arches
hardly ever exceed three in number, and these are all of the same size,
so that the crowns of the arches continue the horizontal lines of the
rest of the building. Were the center one higher than the others, these
lines would be interrupted, and a great deal of simplicity lost. The
covered space under these arches is a delightful, shaded, and breezy
retreat in the heat of the day; and the entrance doors usually open into
it, so that a current of cool air is obtainable by throwing them open.

123. The building itself consists of three floors: we remember no
instance of a greater number, and only one or two of fewer. It is, in
general, crowned with a light balustrade, surmounted by statues at
intervals. The windows of the uppermost floor are usually square, often
without any architrave. Those of the principal floor are surrounded with
broad architraves, but are frequently destitute of frieze or cornice.
They have usually flat bands at the bottom, and their aperture is a
double square. Their recess is very deep, so as not to let the sun fall
far into the interior. The interval between them is very variable. In
some of the villas of highest pretensions, such as those on the banks of
the Brenta, that of Isola Bella, and others, which do not face the
south, it is not much more than the breadth of the two architraves, so
that the rooms within are filled with light. When this is the case, the
windows have friezes and cornices. But, when the building fronts the
south, the interval is often very great, as in the case of the Villa
Porro. The ground-floor windows are frequently set in tall arches,
supported on deeply engaged pilasters as in the Villa Somma-Riva. The
door is not large, and never entered by high steps, as it generally
opens on a terrace of considerable height, or on a wide landing-place at
the head of a flight of fifty or sixty steps descending through the
gardens.

124. Now, it will be observed, that, in these general forms, though
there is no splendor, there is great dignity. The lines throughout are
simple to a degree, entirely uninterrupted by decorations of any kind,
so that the beauty of their proportions is left visible and evident. We
shall see hereafter that ornament in Grecian architecture, while, when
well managed, it always adds to its grace, invariably takes away from
its majesty; and that these two attributes never can exist together in
their highest degrees. By the utter absence of decoration, therefore,
the Italian villa, possessing, as it usually does, great beauty of
proportion, attains a degree of elevation of character, which impresses
the mind in a manner which it finds difficult to account for by any
consideration of its simple details or moderate size; while, at the same
time, it lays so little claim to the attention, and is so subdued in its
character, that it is enabled to occupy a conspicuous place in a
landscape, without any appearance of intrusion. The glance of the
beholder rises from the labyrinth of terrace and arbor beneath, almost
weariedly; it meets, as it ascends, with a gradual increase of bright
marble and simple light, and with a proportionate diminution of dark
foliage and complicated shadow, till it rests finally on a piece of
simple brilliancy, chaste and unpretending, yet singularly dignified;
and does not find its color too harsh, because its form is so simple:
for color of any kind is only injurious when the eye is too much
attracted to it; and, when there is so much quietness of detail as to
prevent this misfortune, the building will possess the cheerfulness,
without losing the tranquillity, and will seem to have been erected, and
to be inhabited, by a mind of that beautiful temperament wherein modesty
tempers majesty, and gentleness mingles with rejoicing, which, above all
others, is most suited to the essence, and most interwoven with the
spirit, of the natural beauty whose peculiar power is invariably repose.

125. So much for its general character. Considered by principles of
composition, it will also be found beautiful. Its prevailing lines are
horizontal; and every artist knows that, where peaks of any kind are in
sight, the lines above which they rise ought to be flat. It has not one
acute angle in all its details, and very few intersections of verticals
with horizontals; while all that do intersect seem useful as supporting
the mass. The just application of the statues at the top is more
doubtful, and is considered reprehensible by several high authorities,
who, nevertheless, are inconsistent enough to let the balustrade pass
uncalumniated, though it is objectionable on exactly the same grounds;
for, if the statues suggest the inquiry of "What are they doing there?"
the balustrade compels its beholder to ask, "whom it keeps from tumbling
over?"

126. The truth is, that the balustrade and statues derive their origin
from a period when there was easy access to the roof of either temple or
villa; (that there was such access is proved by a passage in the
_Iphigenia Taurica_, line 113, where Orestes speaks of getting up to the
triglyphs of a Doric temple as an easy matter;) and when the flat roofs
were used, not, perhaps, as an evening promenade, as in Palestine, but
as a place of observation, and occasionally of defense. They were
composed of large flat slabs of stone ([Greek: keramos,[20]]) peculiarly
adapted for walking, one or two of which, when taken up, left an opening
of easy access into the house, as in Luke v. 19, and were perpetually
used in Greece as missile weapons, in the event of a hostile attack or
sedition in the city, by parties of old men, women, and children, who
used, as a matter of course, to retire to the roof as a place of
convenient defense. By such attacks from the roof with the [Greek:
keramos] the Thebans were thrown into confusion in Plataea (_Thucydides_
ii. 4.). So, also, we find the roof immediately resorted to in the case
of the starving of Pausanias in the Temple of Minerva of the Brazen
House, and in that of the massacre of the aristocratic party at Corcyra
(_Thucydides_ iv. 48):--[Greek: Anabantes de epi to tegos tou oikematos,
kai dielontes ten orophen, eballon to keramo].

[Footnote 20: In the large buildings, that is: [Greek: keramos] also
signifies earthen tiling, and sometimes earthenware in general, as in
_Herodotus_ iii. 6 [where it is used of earthen jars of wine.] It
appears that such tiling was frequently used in smaller edifices. The
Greeks may have derived their flat roofs from Egypt. Herodotus mentions
of the Labyrinth of the Twelve Kings, that [Greek: horophe de panton
touton lithine], but not as if the circumstance were in the least
extraordinary [_Herodotus_ ii. 148.]]

127. Now, where the roof was thus a place of frequent resort, there
could be no more useful decoration than a balustrade; nor one more
appropriate or beautiful than occasional statues in attitudes of
watchfulness, expectation, or observation: and even now, wherever the
roof is flat, we have an idea of convenience and facility of access,
which still renders the balustrade agreeable, and the statue beautiful,
if well designed. It must not be a figure of perfect peace or repose;
far less should it be in violent action: but it should be fixed in that
quick, startled stillness, which is the result of intent observation or
expectation, and which seems ready to start into motion every instant.
Its height should be slightly colossal, as it is always to be seen
against the sky; and its draperies should not be too heavy, as the eye
will always expect them to be caught by the wind. We shall enter into
this subject, however, more fully hereafter. We only wish at present to
vindicate from the charge of impropriety one of the chief features of
the Italian villa. Its white figures, always marble, remain entirely
unsullied by the weather, and stand out with great majesty against the
blue air behind them, taking away from the heaviness, without destroying
the simplicity, of the general form.

128. It seems then that, by its form and details, the villa of the Lago
di Como attains so high a degree of elevation of character, as not only
brings it into harmony of its _locus_, without any assistance from
appearance of antiquity, but may, we think, permit it to dispense even
with solidity of material, and appear in light summer stucco, instead of
raising itself in imperishable marble. And this conclusion, which is
merely theoretical, is verified by fact: for we remember no instance,
except in cases where poverty had overpowered pretension, or decay had
turned rejoicing into silence, in which the lightness of the material
was offensive to the feelings; in all cases, it is agreeable to the eye.
Where it is allowed to get worn, and discolored, and broken, it induces
a wretched mockery of the dignified form which it preserves; but, as
long as it is renewed at proper periods, and watched over by the eye of
its inhabitant, it is an excellent and easily managed medium of effect.

129. With all the praise, however, which we have bestowed upon it, we do
not say that the villa of the Larian Lake is perfection; indeed we
cannot say so, until we have compared it with a few other instances,
chiefly to be found in Italy, on whose soil we delay, as being the
native country of the villa, properly so-called, and as ever yet being
almost the only spot of Europe where any good specimens of it are to be
found; for we do not understand by the term "villa" a cubic erection,
with one window on each side of a verdant door, and three on the second
and uppermost story, such as the word suggests to the fertile
imagination of ruralizing cheesemongers; neither do we understand the
quiet and unpretending country house of a respectable gentleman; neither
do we understand such a magnificent mass of hereditary stone as
generally forms the autumn retreat of an English noble; but we
understand the light but elaborate summer habitation, raised however and
wherever it pleases his fancy, by some individual of great wealth and
influence, who can enrich it with every attribute of beauty; furnish it
with every appurtenance of pleasure; and repose in it with the dignity
of a mind trained to exertion or authority. Such a building could not
exist in Greece, where every district a mile and a quarter square was
quarreling with all its neighbors. It could exist, and did exist, in
Italy, where the Roman power secured tranquillity, and the Roman
constitution distributed its authority among a great number of
individuals, on whom, while it raised them to a position of great
influence, and, in its later times, of wealth, it did not bestow the
power of raising palaces or private fortresses. The villa was their
peculiar habitation, their only resource, and a most agreeable one;
because the multitudes of the kingdom being, for a long period, confined
to a narrow territory, though ruling the world, rendered the population
of the city so dense, as to drive out its higher ranks to the
neighboring hamlets of Tibur and Tusculum.

130. In other districts of Europe the villa is not found, because in
very perfect monarchies, as in Austria, the power is thrown chiefly into
the hands of a few, who build themselves palaces, not villas; and in
perfect republics, as in Switzerland, the power is so split among the
multitude, that nobody can build himself anything. In general, in
kingdoms of great extent, the country house becomes the permanent and
hereditary habitation; and the villas are all crowded together, and form
gingerbread rows in the environs of the capital; and, in France and
Germany, the excessively disturbed state of affairs in the Middle Ages
compelled every baron or noble to defend himself, and retaliate on his
neighbors as he best could, till the villa was lost in the chateau and
the fortress; and men now continue to build as their forefathers built
(and long may they do so), surrounding the domicile of pleasure with a
moat and a glacis, and guarding its garret windows with turrets and
towers: while, in England, the nobles, comparatively few, and of great
power, inhabit palaces, not villas; and the rest of the population is
chiefly crowded into cities, in the activity of commerce, or dispersed
over estates in that of agriculture; leaving only one grade of gentry,
who have neither the taste to desire, nor the power to erect, the villa,
properly so-called.

131. We must not, therefore, be surprised if, on leaving Italy, where
the crowd of poverty-stricken nobility can still repose their pride in
the true villa, we find no farther examples of it worthy of
consideration; though we hope to have far greater pleasure in
contemplating its substitutes, the chateau and the fortress. We must be
excused, therefore, for devoting one paper more to the state of villa
architecture in Italy; after which we shall endeavor to apply the
principles we shall have deduced to the correction of some abuses in the
erection of English country houses, in cases where scenery would demand
beauty of design and wealth permit finish of decoration.




III.

THE ITALIAN VILLA (Concluded).


132. We do not think there is any truth in the aphorism, now so
frequently advanced in England, that the adaptation of shelter to the
corporal comfort of the human race is the original and true end of the
art of architecture, properly so-called: for, were such the case, he
would be the most distinguished architect who was best acquainted with
the properties of cement, with the nature of stone, and the various
durability of wood. That such knowledge is necessary to the perfect
architect we do not deny; but it is no more the end and purpose of his
application, than a knowledge of the alphabet is the object of the
refined scholar, or of rhythm of the inspired poet.

133. For, supposing that we were for a moment to consider that we built
a house _merely_ to be lived in, and that the whole bent of our
invention, in raising the edifice, is to be directed to the provision of
comfort for the life to be spent therein; supposing that we build it
with the most perfect dryness and coolness of cellar, the most luxurious
appurtenances of pantry; that we build our walls with the most compacted
strength of material, the most studied economy of space; that we leave
not a chink in the floor for a breath of wind to pass through, not a
hinge in the door, which, by any possible exertion of its irritable
muscles, could creak; that we elevate our chambers into exquisite
coolness, furnish them with every attention to the maintenance of
general health, as well as the prevention of present inconvenience: to
do all this, we must be possessed of great knowledge and various skill;
let this knowledge and skill be applied with the greatest energy, and
what have they done? Exactly as much as brute animals can do by mere
instinct; nothing more than bees and beavers, moles and magpies, ants
and earwigs, do every day of their lives, without the slightest effort
of reason; we have made ourselves superior as architects to the most
degraded animation of the universe, only insomuch as we have lavished
the highest efforts of intellect, to do what they have done with the
most limited sensations that can constitute life.

134. The mere preparation of convenience, therefore, is not architecture
in which man can take pride, or ought to take delight;[21] but the high
and ennobling art of architecture is that of giving to buildings, whose
parts are determined by necessity, such forms and colors as shall
delight the mind, by preparing it for the operations to which it is to
be subjected in the building: and thus, as it is altogether to the mind
that the work of the architect is addressed, it is not as a part of his
art, but as a limitation of its extent, that he must be acquainted with
the minor principles of the economy of domestic erections. For this
reason, though we shall notice every class of edifice, it does not come
within our proposed plan, to enter into any detailed consideration of
the inferior buildings of each class, which afford no scope for the play
of the imagination by their nature or size; but we shall generally
select the most perfect and beautiful examples, as those in which alone
the architect has the power of fulfilling the high purposes of his art.
In the villa, however, some exception must be made, inasmuch as it will
be useful, and perhaps interesting, to arrive at some fixed conclusions
respecting the modern buildings, improperly called villas, raised by
moderate wealth, and of limited size, in which the architect is
compelled to produce his effect without extent or decoration. The
principles which we have hitherto arrived at, deduced as they are from
edifices of the noblest character, will be but of little use to a
country gentleman, about to insinuate himself and his habitation into a
quiet corner of our lovely country; and, therefore, we must glance at
the more humble homes of the Italian, preparatory to the consideration
of what will best suit our own less elevated scenery.

[Footnote 21: [Compare "The Seven Lamps of Architecture," chap. i. Sec.
1.]]

135. First, then, we lose the terraced approach, or, at least, its size
and splendor, as these require great wealth to erect them, and perpetual
expense to preserve them. For the chain of terraces we find substituted
a simple garden, somewhat formally laid out; but redeemed from the
charge of meanness by the nobility and size attained by most of its
trees; the line of immense cypresses which generally surrounds it in
part, and the luxuriance of the vegetation of its flowering shrubs. It
has frequently a large entrance gate, well designed, but carelessly
executed; sometimes singularly adorned with fragments of ancient
sculpture, regularly introduced, which the spectator partly laments, as
preserved in a mode so incongruous with their ancient meaning, and
partly rejoices over, as preserved at all. The grottoes of the superior
garden are here replaced by light ranges of arched summerhouses,
designed in stucco, and occasionally adorned in their interior with
fresco paintings of considerable brightness and beauty.

136. All this, however, has very little effect in introducing the eye to
the villa itself, owing to the general want of inequality of level in
the ground, so that the main building becomes an independent feature,
instead of forming the apex of a mass of various architecture.
Consequently, the weight of form which in the former case it might, and
even ought to, possess, would here be cumbrous, ugly, and improper; and
accordingly we find it got rid of. This is done, first by the addition
of the square tower, a feature which is not allowed to break in upon the
symmetry of buildings of high architectural pretensions; but is
immediately introduced, whenever less richness of detail, or variety of
approach, demands or admits of irregularity of form. It is a constant
and most important feature in Italian landscape; sometimes high and
apparently detached, as when it belongs to sacred edifices; sometimes
low and strong, united with the mass of the fortress, or varying the
form of the villa. It is always simple in its design, flat-roofed, its
corners being turned by very slightly projecting pilasters, which are
carried up the whole height of the tower, whatever it may be, without
any regard to proportion, terminating in two arches on each side, in the
villa most frequently filled up, though their curve is still
distinguished by darker tint and slight relief. Two black holes on each
side, near the top, are very often the only entrances by which light or
sun can penetrate. These are seldom actually large, always
proportionably small, and destitute of ornament or relief.

137. The forms of the villas to which these towers are attached are
straggling, and varied by many crossing masses; but the great principle
of simplicity is always kept in view; everything is square, and
terminated by parallel lines; no tall chimneys, no conical roofs, no
fantastic ornaments are ever admitted: the arch alone is allowed to
relieve the stiffness of the general effect. This is introduced
frequently, but not in the windows, which are either squares or double
squares, at great distances from each other, set deeply into the walls
and only adorned with broad flat borders. Where more light is required
they are set moderately close, and protected by an outer line of arches,
deep enough to keep the noonday sun from entering the rooms. These lines
of arches cast soft shadows along the bright fronts, and are otherwise
of great value. Their effect is pretty well seen in fig. 10; a piece
which, while it has no distinguished beauty is yet pleasing by its
entire simplicity; and peculiarly so, when we know that simplicity to
have been chosen (some say, built) for its last and lonely habitation,
by a mind of softest passion as of purest thought; and to have sheltered
its silent old age among the blue and quiet hills, till it passed away
like a deep lost melody from the earth, leaving a light of peace about
the gray tomb at which the steps of those who pass by always falter, and
around this deserted, and decaying, and calm habitation of the thoughts
of the departed; Petrarch's, at Arqua. A more familiar instance of the
application of these arches is the Villa of Mecaenas at Tivoli, though it
is improperly styled a villa, being pretty well known to have been
nothing but stables.

138. The buttress is the only remaining point worthy of notice. It
prevails to a considerable extent among the villas of the south, being
always broad and tall, and occasionally so frequent as to give the
building, viewed laterally, a pyramidal and cumbrous effect. The most
usual form is that of a simple sloped mass, terminating in the wall,
without the slightest finishing, and rising at an angle of about 84 deg..
Sometimes it is perpendicular, sloped at the top into the wall; but it
never has steps of increasing projection as it goes down. By observing
the occurrence of these buttresses, an architect, who knew nothing of
geology, might accurately determine the points of most energetic
volcanic action in Italy; for their use is to protect the building from
the injuries of earthquakes, the Italian having far too much good taste
to use them, except in cases of extreme necessity. Thus, they are never
found in North Italy, even in the fortresses. They begin to occur among
the Apennines, south of Florence; they become more and more frequent and
massy towards Rome; in the neighborhood of Naples they are huge and
multitudinous, even the walls themselves being sometimes sloped; and the
same state of things continues as we go south, on the coast of Calabria
and Sicily.

139. Now, these buttresses present one of the most extraordinary and
striking instances of the beauty of adaptation of style to locality and
peculiarity of circumstance, that can be met with in the whole range of
architectural investigation. Taken in the abstract, they are utterly
detestable, formal, clumsy, and apparently unnecessary. Their builder
thinks so himself: he hates them as things to be looked at, though he
erects them as things to be depended upon. He has no idea that there is
any propriety in their presence, though he knows perfectly well that
there is a great deal of necessity; and, therefore he builds them.
Where? On rocks whose sides are one mass of buttresses, of precisely the
same form; on rocks which are cut and cloven by basalt and lava dikes
of every size, and which, being themselves secondary, wear away
gradually by exposure to the atmosphere, leaving the intersecting dikes
standing out in solid and vertical walls, from the faces of their
precipices. The eye passes over heaps of scoriae and sloping banks of
ashes, over the huge ruins of more ancient masses, till it trembles for
the fate of the crags still standing round; but it finds them ribbed
with basalt like bones, buttressed with a thousand lava walls, propped
upon pedestals and pyramids of iron, which the pant and the pulse of the
earthquake itself can scarcely move, for they are its own work; it
climbs up to their summits, and there it finds the work of man; but it
is no puny domicile, no eggshell imagination, it is in a continuation of
the mountain itself, inclined at the same slope, ribbed in the same
manner, protected by the same means against the same danger; not,
indeed, filling the eye with delight, but, which is of more importance,
freeing it from fear, and beautifully corresponding with the prevalent
lines around it, which a less massive form would have rendered, in some
cases, particularly about Etna, even ghastly. Even in the long and
luxuriant views from Capo di Monte, and the heights to the east of
Naples, the spectator looks over a series of volcanic eminences,
generally, indeed, covered with rich verdure, but starting out here and
there in gray and worn walls, fixed at a regular slope, and breaking
away into masses more and more rugged towards Vesuvius, till the eye
gets thoroughly habituated to their fortress-like outlines.

[Illustration: Fig. 10. Petrarch's Villa; Arqua.--1837.]

140. Throughout the whole of this broken country, and, on the summits of
these volcanic cones, rise innumerable villas; but they do not offend
us, as we should have expected, by their attestation of cheerfulness of
life amidst the wrecks left by destructive operation, nor hurt the eye
by non-assimilation with the immediate features of the landscape: but
they seem to rise prepared and adapted for resistance to, and endurance
of, the circumstances of their position; to be inhabited by beings of
energy and force sufficient to decree and to carry on a steady struggle
with opposing elements, and of taste and feeling sufficient to
proportion the form of the walls of men to the clefts in the flanks of
the volcano, and to prevent the exultation and the lightness of
transitory life from startling, like a mockery, the eternal remains of
disguised desolation.

141. We have always considered these circumstances as most remarkable
proofs of the perfect dependence of architecture on its situation, and
of the utter impossibility of judging of the beauty of any building in
the abstract: and we would also lay much stress upon them, as showing
with what boldness the designer may introduce into his building,
undisguised, such parts as local circumstances render desirable; for
there will invariably be something in the nature of that which causes
their necessity, which will endow them with beauty.

142. These, then, are the principal features of the Italian villa,
modifications of which, of course more or less dignified in size,
material or decoration, in proportion to the power and possessions of
their proprietor, may be considered as composing every building of that
class in Italy. A few remarks on their general effect will enable us to
conclude the subject.

143. We have been so long accustomed to see the horizontal lines and
simple forms which, as we have observed, still prevail among the
Ausonian villas, used with the greatest dexterity, and the noblest
effect, in the compositions of Claude, Salvator, and Poussin--and so
habituated to consider these compositions as perfect models of the
beautiful, as well as the pure in taste--that it is difficult to divest
ourselves of prejudice, in the contemplation of the sources from which
those masters received their education, their feelings, and their
subjects. We would hope, however, and we think it may be proved, that in
this case principle assists and encourages prejudice. First, referring
only to the gratification afforded to the eye, which we know to depend
upon fixed mathematical principles, though those principles are not
always developed, it is to be observed, that country is always most
beautiful when it is made up of curves, and that one of the chief
characters of Ausonian landscape is the perfection of its curvatures,
induced by the gradual undulation of promontories into the plains. In
suiting architecture to such a country, that building which least
interrupts the curve on which it is placed will be felt to be most
delightful to the eye.

[Illustration: Fig. 11. Broken Curves.]

144. Let us take then the simple form _a b c d_, interrupting the curve
_c e_ [fig. 11, A]. Now, the eye will always continue the principal
lines of such an object for itself, until they cut the main curve; that
is, it will carry on _a b_ to _e_, and the total effect of the
interruption will be that of the form _c d e_. Had the line _b d_ been
nearer to _a c_, the effect would have been just the same. Now, every
curve may be considered as composed of an infinite number of lines at
right angles to each other, as _m n_ is made up of _o p, p q_, etc.,
(fig. B), whose ratio to each other varies with the direction of the
curve. Then, if the right lines which form the curve at _c_ (fig. A) be
increased, we have the figure _c d e_, that is, the apparent
interruption of the curve is an increased part of the curve itself. To
the mathematical reader we can explain our meaning more clearly, by
pointing out that, taking _c_ for our origin, we have _a c_, _a e_, for
the co-ordinates of _e_, and that, therefore, their ratio is the
equation to the curve. Whence it appears, that, when any curve is broken
in upon by a building composed of simple vertical and horizontal lines,
the eye is furnished, by the interruption, with the equation to that
part of the curve which is interrupted. If, instead of square forms, we
take obliquity, as _r s t_ (fig. C), we have one line, _s t_, an
absolute break, and the other _r s_, in false proportion. If we take
another curve, we have an infinite number of lines, only two of which
are where they ought to be. And this is the true reason for the constant
introduction of features which appear to be somewhat formal, into the
most perfect imaginations of the old masters, and the true cause of the
extreme beauty of the groups formed by Italian villages in general.

145. Thus much for the mere effect on the eye. Of correspondence with
national character, we have shown that we must not be disappointed, if
we find little in the villa. The unfrequency of windows in the body of
the building is partly attributed to the climate; but the total
exclusion of light from some parts, as the base of the central tower,
carries our thoughts back to the ancient system of Italian life, when
every man's home had its dark, secret places, the abodes of his worst
passions; whose shadows were alone intrusted with the motion of his
thoughts; whose walls became the whited sepulchers of crime; whose
echoes were never stirred except by such words as they dared not
repeat;[22] from which the rod of power, or the dagger of passion, came
forth invisible; before whose stillness princes grew pale, as their
fates were prophesied or fulfilled by the horoscope or the hemlock; and
nations, as the whisper of anarchy or of heresy was avenged by the
opening of the low doors, through which those who entered returned not.

[Footnote 22: Shelley has caught the feeling finely:--"The house is
penetrated to its corners by the peeping insolence of the day. When the
time comes the crickets shall not see me."--_Cenci_ [Act II. scene I,
quoted from memory.]]

146. The mind of the Italian, sweet and smiling in its operations, deep
and silent in its emotions, was thus, in some degree, typified by those
abodes into which he was wont to retire from the tumult and wrath of
life, to cherish or to gratify the passions which its struggles had
excited; abodes which now gleam brightly and purely among the azure
mountains, and by the sapphire sea, but whose stones are dropped with
blood; whose vaults are black with the memory of guilt and grief
unpunished and unavenged, and by whose walls the traveler hastens
fearfully, when the sun has set, lest he should hear, awakening again
through the horror of their chambers, the faint wail of the children of
Ugolino,[23] the ominous alarm of Bonatti, or the long low cry of her
who perished at Coll' Alto.

OXFORD, _July, 1838._

[Footnote 23: Ugolino; Dante, _Inferno_ xxxiii. Guido Bonatti, the
astrologer of Forli, _Inferno_ xx., 118. The lady who perished at Coll'
Alto, _i.e._ the higher part of Colle de Val d'Elsa, between Siena and
Volterra--was Sapia; _Purgatorio_, xiii. 100-154.]




IV.

THE LOWLAND VILLA--ENGLAND.


147. Although, as we have frequently observed, our chief object in these
papers is, to discover the connection existing between national
architecture and character, and therefore is one leading us rather to
the investigation of what is, than of what ought to be, we yet consider
that the subject would be imperfectly treated, if we did not, at the
conclusion of the consideration of each particular rank of building,
endeavor to apply such principles as may have been demonstrated to the
architecture of our country, and to discover the _beau ideal_ of English
character, which should be preserved through all the decorations which
the builder may desire, and through every variety which fancy may
suggest. There never was, and never can be, a universal _beau ideal_ in
architecture, and the arrival at all local models of beauty would be the
task of ages; but we can always, in some degree, determine those of our
own lovely country. We cannot, however, in the present case, pass from
the contemplation of the villa of a totally different climate, to the
investigation of what is beautiful here, without the slightest reference
to styles now or formerly adopted for our own "villas," if such they are
to be called; and therefore it will be necessary to devote a short time
to the observance of the peculiarities of such styles, if we possess
them; or, if not, of the causes of their absence.

148. We have therefore headed this paper "The Villa, England;"
awakening, without doubt, a different idea in the mind of every one who
reads the words. Some, accustomed to the appearance of metropolitan
villas, will think of brick buildings, with infinite appurtenances of
black nicked chimney-pots, and plastered fronts, agreeably varied with
graceful cracks, and undulatory shades of pink, brown, and green,
communicated to the cement by smoky showers. Others will imagine large,
square, many-windowed masses of white, set with careful choice of
situation exactly where they will spoil the landscape to such a
conspicuous degree, as to compel the gentlemen traveling on the outside
of the mail to inquire of the guard, with great eagerness, "whose place
that is;" and to enable the guard to reply with great distinctness, that
it belongs to Squire ----, to the infinite gratification of Squire ----,
and the still more infinite edification of the gentlemen on the outside
of the mail. Others will remember masses of very red brick, quoined with
stone; with columnar porticoes, about one-third of the height of the
building, and two niches, with remarkable looking heads and bag-wigs in
them, on each side; and two teapots, with a pocket-handkerchief hanging
over each (described to the astonished spectator as "Grecian urns")
located upon the roof, just under the chimneys. Others will go back to
the range of Elizabethan gables; but none will have any idea of a fixed
character, stamped on a class of national edifices. This is very
melancholy, and very discouraging; the more so, as it is not without
cause.

149. In the first place, Britain unites in itself so many geological
formations, each giving a peculiar character to the country which it
composes, that there is hardly a district five miles broad, which
preserves the same features of landscape through its whole width.[24]
If, for example, six foreigners were to land severally at Glasgow, at
Aberystwith, at Falmouth, at Brighton, at Yarmouth, and at Newcastle,
and to confine their investigations to the country within twenty miles
of them, what different impressions would they receive of British
landscape! If, therefore, there be as many forms of edifice as there
are peculiarities of situation, we can have no national style; and if we
abandon the idea of a correspondence with situation, we lose the only
criterion capable of forming a national style.[25]

[Footnote 24: Length is another thing: we might divide England into
strips of country, running southwest and northeast, which would be
composed of the same rock, and therefore would present the same
character throughout the whole of their length. Almost all our great
roads cut these transversely, and therefore seldom remain for ten miles
together on the same beds.]

[Footnote 25: It is thus that we find the most perfect schools of
architecture have arisen in districts whose character is unchanging.
Looking to Egypt first, we find a climate inducing a perpetual state of
heavy feverish excitement, fostered by great magnificence of natural
phenomena, and increased by the general custom of exposing the head
continually to the sun (Herodotus, bk. III. chap. 12); so that, as in a
dreaming fever we imagine distorted creatures and countenances moving
and living in the quiet objects of the chamber, the Egyptian endowed all
existence with distorted animation; turned dogs into deities, and leeks
into lightning-darters; then gradually invested the blank granite with
sculptured mystery, designed in superstition, and adored in disease; and
then such masses of architecture arose as, in delirium, we feel crushing
down upon us with eternal weight, and see extending far into the
blackness above; huge and shapeless columns of colossal life; immense
and immeasurable avenues of mountain stone. This was a perfect--that is,
a marked, enduring, and decided school of architecture, induced by an
unchanging and peculiar character of climate. Then in the purer air, and
among the more refined energies of Greece, architecture rose into a more
studied beauty, equally perfect in its school, because fostered in a
district not 50 miles square, and in its dependent isles and colonies,
all of which were under the same air, and partook of the same features
of landscape. In Rome, it became less perfect, because more imitative
than indigenous, and corrupted by the traveling, and conquering, and
stealing ambition of the Roman; yet still a school of architecture,
because the whole of Italy presented the same peculiarities of scene. So
with the Spanish and Moresco schools, and many others; passing over the
Gothic, which, though we hope hereafter to show it to be no exception to
the rule, involves too many complicated questions to be now brought
forward as a proof of it.

[The comparison of Egyptian architecture with delirious visions seems to
be an allusion to De Quincey's passage in "The Pains of Opium"--the last
paper in "the Confessions of an Opium-Eater"--where, after describing
Piranesi's _Dreams_, he tells how he fancied he was "buried for a
thousand years, in stone coffins, with mummies and sphinxes, in narrow
chambers at the heart of eternal pyramids," etc.]]

150. Another cause to be noticed is the peculiar independence of the
Englishman's disposition; a feeling which prompts him to suit his own
humor, rather than fall in with the prevailing cast of social sentiment,
or of natural beauty and expression; and which, therefore,--there being
much obstinate originality in his mind,--produces strange varieties of
dwelling, frequently rendered still more preposterous by his love of
display; a love universally felt in England, and often absurdly
indulged. Wealth is worshiped in France as the means of purchasing
pleasure; in Italy, as an instrument of power; in England, as the means
"of showing off." It would be a very great sacrifice indeed, in an
Englishman of the average stamp, to put his villa out of the way, where
nobody would ever see it, or think of _him_; it is his ambition to hear
every one exclaiming, "What a pretty place! whose can it be?" And he
cares very little about the peace which he has disturbed, or the repose
which he has interrupted; though, even while he thus pushes himself into
the way, he keeps an air of sulky retirement, of hedgehog independence,
about his house, which takes away any idea of sociability or good-humor,
which might otherwise have been suggested by his choice of situation.

151. But, in spite of all these unfortunate circumstances, there are
some distinctive features in our English country houses, which are well
worth a little attention. First, in the approach, we have one component
part of effect, which may be called peculiarly our own, and which
requires much study before it can be managed well,--the avenue. It is
true that we meet with noble lines of timber trees cresting some of the
larger bastions of Continental fortified cities; we see interminable
regiments of mistletoed apple trees flanking the carriage road; and
occasionally we approach a turreted chateau[26] by a broad way, "edged
with poplar pale." But, allowing all this, the legitimate glory of the
perfect avenue is ours still, as will appear by a little consideration
of the elements which constitute its beauty.

[Footnote 26: Or a city. Any one who remembers entering Carlsruhe from
the north by the two miles of poplar avenue, remembers entering the most
soulless of all cities, by the most lifeless of all entrances.]

152. The original idea was given by the opening of the tangled glades in
our most ancient forests. It is rather a curious circumstance that, in
those woods whose decay has been most instrumental in forming the bog
districts of Ireland, the trees have, in general, been planted in
symmetrical rows, at distances of about twenty feet apart. If the
arrangement of our later woods be not quite so formal, they at least
present frequent openings, carpeted with green sward, and edged with
various foliage, which the architect (for so may the designer of the
avenue be entitled) should do little more than reduce to symmetry and
place in position, preserving, as much as possible, the manner and the
proportions of nature. The avenue, therefore, must not be too long. It
is quite a mistake to suppose that there is sublimity in a monotonous
length of line, unless indeed it be carried to an extent generally
impossible, as in the case of the long walk at Windsor. From three to
four hundred yards is a length which will display the elevation well,
and will not become tiresome from continued monotony. The kind of tree
must, of course, be regulated by circumstances; but the foliage must be
unequally disposed, so as to let in passages of light across the path,
and cause the motion of any object across it to change, like an
undulating melody, from darkness to light. It should meet at the top, so
as to cause twilight, but not obscurity; and the idea of a vaulted roof,
without rigidity. The ground should be green, so that the sunlight may
tell with force wherever it strikes. Now, this kind of rich and shadowy
vista is found in its perfection only in England: it is an attribute of
green country; it is associated with all our memories of forest freedom,
of our wood-rangers, and yeomen with the "doublets of the Lincoln
green;" with our pride of ancient archers, whose art was fostered in
such long and breezeless glades; with our thoughts of the merry chases
of our kingly companies, when the dewy antlers sparkled down the
intertwined paths of the windless woods, at the morning echo of the
hunter's horn; with all, in fact, that once contributed to give our land
its ancient name of "merry" England; a name which, in this age of steam
and iron, it will have some difficulty in keeping.

153. This, then, is the first feature we would direct attention to, as
characteristic, in the English villa: and be it remembered, that we are
not speaking of the immense lines of foliage which guide the eye to some
of our English palaces, for those are rather the adjuncts of the park
than the approach to the building; but of the more laconic avenue, with
the two crested columns and the iron gate at its entrance, leading the
eye, in the space of a hundred yards or so, to the gables of its gray
mansion. A good instance of this approach may be found at Petersham, by
following the right side of the Thames for about half a mile from
Richmond Hill; though the house, which, in this case, is approached by a
noble avenue, is much to be reprehended, as a bad mixture of imitation
of the Italian with corrupt Elizabethan; though it is somewhat
instructive, as showing the ridiculous effect of statues out of doors in
a climate like ours.

154. And now that we have pointed out the kind of approach most
peculiarly English, that approach will guide us to the only style of
villa architecture which can be called English,--the Elizabethan, and
its varieties,--a style fantastic in its details, and capable of being
subjected to no rule, but, as we think, well adapted for the scenery in
which it arose. We allude not only to the pure Elizabethan, but even to
the strange mixtures of classical ornaments with Gothic forms, which we
find prevailing in the sixteenth century. In the most simple form, we
have a building extending round three sides of a court, and, in the
larger halls, round several interior courts, terminating in sharply
gabled fronts, with broad oriels, divided into very narrow lights by
channeled mullions, without decoration of any kind; the roof relieved by
projecting dormer windows, whose lights are generally divided into
three, terminating in very flat arches without cusps, the intermediate
edge of the roof being battlemented. Then we find wreaths of ornament
introduced at the base of the oriels;[27] ranges of short columns, the
base of one upon the capital of another, running up beside them; the
bases being very tall, sometimes decorated with knots of flower-work;
the columns usually fluted,--wreathed, in richer examples, with
ornament. The entrance is frequently formed by double ranges of those
short columns, with intermediate arches, with shell canopies, and rich
crests above.[28] This portico is carried up to some height above the
roof, which is charged with an infinite variety of decorated chimneys.

[Footnote 27: As in a beautiful example in Brasenose College, Oxford.]

[Footnote 28: The portico of the [old] Schools and the inner courts of
Merton and St. John's Colleges, Oxford; an old house at Charlton, Kent;
and Burleigh House, will probably occur to the mind of the architect, as
good examples of the varieties of this mixed style.]

155. Now, all this is utterly barbarous as architecture; but, with the
exception of the chimneys, it is not false in taste; for it was
originally intended for retired and quiet habitations in our forest
country, not for conspicuous palaces in the streets of the city; and we
have shown, in speaking of green country, that the eye is gratified[29]
with fantastic details; that it is prepared, by the mingled lights of
the natural scenery, for rich and entangled ornament, and would not only
endure, but demand, irregularity of system in the architecture of man,
to correspond with the infinite variety of form in the wood architecture
of nature. Few surprises can be imagined more delightful than the
breaking out of one of these rich gables, with its decorated entrance,
among the dark trunks and twinkling leaves of forest scenery. Such an
effect is rudely given in fig. 12. We would direct the attention chiefly
to the following points in the building:--

[Footnote 29: [_i.e._ when the spectator is surrounded by woodland
scenery. _Vide ante_, Sec. 88.]]

156. First, it is a humorist, an odd, twisted, independent being, with a
great deal of mixed, obstinate, and occasionally absurd originality. It
has one or two graceful lines about it, and several harsh and cutting
ones; it is a whole, which would allow of no unison with any other
architecture; it is gathered in itself, and would look very ugly indeed,
if pieces in a purer style of building were added. All this corresponds
with points of English character, with its humors, its independency, and
its horror of being put out of its own way.

157. Again, it is a thoroughly domestic building, homely and
cottage-like in its prevailing forms, awakening no elevated ideas,
assuming no nobility of form. It has none of the pride, or the grace of
beauty, none of the dignity of delight which we found in the villa of
Italy; but it is a habitation of everyday life, a protection from
momentary inconvenience, covered with stiff efforts at decoration, and
exactly typical of the mind of its inhabitant: not noble in its taste,
not haughty in its recreation, not pure in its perception of beauty; but
domestic in its pleasures, fond of matter-of-fact rather than of
imagination, yet sparkling occasionally with odd wit and grotesque
association. The Italian obtains his beauty, as his recreation, with
quietness, with few and noble lines, with great seriousness and depth of
thought, with very rare interruptions to the simple train of feeling.
But the Englishman's villa is full of effort: it is a business with him
to be playful, an infinite labor to be ornamental: he forces his
amusement with fits of contrasted thought, with mingling of minor
touches of humor, with a good deal of sulkiness, but with no melancholy;
and therefore, owing to this last adjunct,[30] the building, in its
original state, cannot be called beautiful, and we ought not to consider
the effect of its present antiquity, evidence of which is, as was before
proved, generally objectionable in a building devoted to pleasure,[31]
and is only agreeable here, because united with the memory of a departed
pride.

[Footnote 30: Namely the fact that there is no melancholy in the English
play-impulse; _v. ante_, Sec. 23.]

[Footnote 31: See Sec. 118 seq.]

158. Again, it is a lifelike building, sparkling in its casements, brisk
in its air, letting much light in at the walls and roof, low and
comfortable-looking in its door. The Italian's dwelling is much walled
in, letting out no secrets from the inside, dreary and drowsy in its
effect. Just such is the difference between the minds of the
inhabitants; the one passing away in deep and dark reverie, the other
quick and business-like, enjoying its everyday occupations, and active
in its ordinary engagements.

159. Again, it is a regularly planned, mechanical, well-disciplined
building; each of its parts answering to its opposite, each of its
ornaments matched with similarity. The Italian (where it has no high
pretense to architectural beauty) is a rambling and irregular edifice,
varied with uncorresponding masses: and the mind of the Italian we find
similarly irregular, a thing of various and ungovernable impulse,
without fixed principle of action; the Englishman's, regular and uniform
in its emotions, steady in its habits, and firm even in its most trivial
determinations.

160. Lastly, the size of the whole is diminutive, compared with the
villas of the south, in which the effect was always large and general.
Here the eye is drawn into the investigation of particular points, and
miniature details; just as, in comparing the English and Continental
cottages, we found the one characterized by a minute finish, and the
other by a massive effect, exactly correspondent with the scale of the
features and scenery of their respective localities.

161. It appears, then, from a consideration of these several points,
that, in our antiquated style of villa architecture, some national
feeling may be discovered; but in any buildings now raised there is no
character whatever: all is ridiculous imitation, and despicable
affectation; and it is much to be lamented, that now, when a great deal
of public attention has been directed to architecture on the part of the
public, more efforts are not made to turn that attention from mimicking
Swiss _chalets_, to erecting English houses. We need not devote more
time to the investigation of _purely_ domestic English architecture,
though we hope to derive much instruction and pleasure from the
contemplation of buildings partly adapted for defense, and partly for
residence. The introduction of the means of defense is, however, a
distinction which we do not wish at present to pass over; and therefore,
in our next paper, we hope to conclude the subject of the villa, by a
few remarks on the style now best adapted for English scenery.




V.

THE ENGLISH VILLA.--PRINCIPLES OF COMPOSITION.


162. It has lately become a custom, among the more enlightened and
refined of metropolitan shopkeepers, to advocate the cause of propriety
in architectural decoration, by ensconcing their shelves, counters, and
clerks in classical edifices, agreeably ornamented with ingenious
devices, typical of the class of articles to which the tradesman
particularly desires to direct the public attention. We find our grocers
enshrined in temples whose columns are of canisters, and whose pinnacles
are of sugar-loaves. Our shoemakers shape their soles under Gothic
portals, with pendants of shoes, and canopies of Wellingtons; and our
cheesemongers will, we doubt not, soon follow the excellent example, by
raising shops the varied diameters of whose jointed columns, in their
address to the eye, shall awaken memories of Staffa, Paestum, and
Palmyra; and in their address to the tongue, shall arouse exquisite
associations of remembered flavor, Dutch, Stilton, and Strachino.

163. Now, this fit of taste on the part of our tradesmen is only a
coarse form of a disposition inherent in the human mind. Those objects
to which the eye has been most frequently accustomed, and among which
the intellect has formed its habits of action, and the soul its modes of
emotion, become agreeable to the thoughts, from their correspondence
with their prevailing cast, especially when the business of life has had
any relation to those objects; for it is in the habitual and necessary
occupation that the most painless hours of existence are passed:
whatever be the nature of that occupation, the memories belonging to it
will always be agreeable, and, therefore, the objects awakening such
memories will invariably be found beautiful, whatever their character or
form.

164. It is thus that taste is the child and the slave of memory; and
beauty is tested, not by any fixed standard, but by the chances of
association; so that in every domestic building evidence will be found
of the kind of life through which its owner has passed, in the operation
of the habits of mind which that life has induced. From the
superannuated coxswain, who plants his old ship's figure-head in his six
square feet of front garden at Bermondsey, to the retired noble, the
proud portal of whose mansion is surmounted by the broad shield and the
crested gryphon, we are all guided, in our purest conceptions, our most
ideal pursuit, of the beautiful, by remembrances of active occupation;
and by principles derived from industry regulate the fancies of our
repose.

165. It would be excessively interesting to follow out the investigation
of this subject more fully, and to show how the most refined pleasures,
the most delicate perceptions, of the creature who has been appointed to
eat bread by the sweat of his brow, are dependent upon, and intimately
connected with, his hours of labor. This question, however, has no
relation to our immediate object, and we only allude to it, that we may
be able to distinguish between the two component parts of individual
character; the one being the consequence of continuous habits of life
acting upon natural temperament and disposition, the other being the
_humor_ of character, consequent upon circumstances altogether
accidental, taking stern effect upon feelings previously determined by
the first part of the character; laying on, as it were, the finishing
touches, and occasioning the innumerable prejudices, fancies, and
eccentricities, which, modified in every individual to an infinite
extent, form the visible veil of the human heart.

166. Now, we have defined the province of the architect to be, that of
selecting such forms and colors as shall delight the mind, by preparing
it for the operations to which it is to be subjected in the building.
Now, no forms, in domestic architecture, can thus prepare it more
distinctly than those which correspond closely with the first, that is,
the fixed and fundamental, part of character, which is always so uniform
in its action, as to induce great simplicity in whatever it designs.
Nothing, on the contrary, can be more injurious than the slightest
influence of the _humors_ upon the edifice; for the influence of what is
fitful in its energy, and petty in its imagination, would destroy all
the harmony of parts, all the majesty of the whole; would substitute
singularity for beauty, amusement for delight, and surprise for
veneration. We could name several instances of buildings erected by men
of the highest talent, and the most perfect general taste, who yet, not
having paid much attention to the first principles of architecture,
permitted the humor of their disposition to prevail over the majesty of
their intellect, and, instead of building from a fixed design, gratified
freak after freak, and fancy after fancy, as they were caught by the
dream or the desire; mixed mimicries of incongruous reality with
incorporations of undisciplined ideal; awakened every variety of
contending feeling and unconnected memory; consummated confusion of form
by trickery of detail; and have left barbarism, where half the world
will look for loveliness.

167. This is a species of error which it is very difficult for persons
paying superficial and temporary attention to architecture to avoid:
however just their taste may be in criticism, it will fail in creation.
It is only in moments of ease and amusement that they will think of
their villa: they make it a mere plaything, and regard it with a kind of
petty exultation, which, from its very nature, will give liberty to the
light fancy, rather than the deep feeling, of the mind. It is not
thought necessary to bestow labor of thought, and periods of
deliberation, on one of the toys of life; still less to undergo the
vexation of thwarting wishes, and leaving favorite imaginations,
relating to minor points, unfulfilled, for the sake of general effect.

168. This feeling, then, is the first to which we would direct
attention, as the villa architect's chief enemy: he will find it
perpetually and provokingly in his way. He is requested, perhaps, by a
man of great wealth, nay, of established taste in some points, to make a
design for a villa in a lovely situation. The future proprietor carries
him upstairs to his study, to give him what he calls his "ideas and
materials," and, in all probability, begins somewhat thus:--"This, sir,
is a slight note: I made it on the spot: approach to Villa Reale, near
Pozzuoli. Dancing nymphs, you perceive; cypresses, shell fountain. I
think I should like something like this for the approach: classical, you
perceive, sir; elegant, graceful. Then, sir, this is a sketch, made by
an American friend of mine: Whee-whaw-Kantamaraw's wigwam, King of
the--Cannibal Islands, I think he said, sir. Log, you observe; scalps,
and boa-constrictor skins: curious. Something like this, sir, would look
neat, I think, for the front door; don't you? Then, the lower windows,
I've not quite decided upon; but what would you say to Egyptian, sir? I
think I should like my windows Egyptian, with hieroglyphics, sir; storks
and coffins, and appropriate moldings above: I brought some from
Fountains Abbey the other day. Look here, sir; angels' heads putting
their tongues out, rolled up in cabbage leaves, with a dragon on each
side riding on a broomstick, and the devil looking on from the mouth of
an alligator, sir.[32] Odd, I think; interesting. Then the corners may
be turned by octagonal towers, like the center one in Kenilworth Castle;
with Gothic doors, portcullis, and all, quite perfect; with cross slits
for arrows, battlements for musketry, machicolations for boiling lead,
and a room at the top for drying plums; and the conservatory at the
bottom, sir, with Virginian creepers up the towers; door supported by
sphinxes, holding scrapers in their fore paws, and having their tails
prolonged into warm-water pipes, to keep the plants safe in winter,
etc." The architect is, without doubt, a little astonished by these
ideas and combinations; yet he sits calmly down to draw his elevations;
as if he were a stone-mason, or his employer an architect; and the
fabric rises to electrify its beholders, and confer immortality on its
perpetrator.

[Footnote 32: Actually carved on one of the groins of Roslin Chapel.]

[Illustration: Fig. 12. Old English Mansion. 1837.]

169. This is no exaggeration: we have not only listened to speculations
on the probable degree of the future majesty, but contemplated the
actual illustrious existence, of several such buildings, with sufficient
beauty in the management of some of their features to show that an
architect had superintended them, and sufficient taste in their interior
economy to prove that a refined intellect had projected them; and had
projected a Vandalism, only because fancy had been followed instead of
judgment; with as much _nonchalance_ as is evinced by a perfect poet,
who is extemporizing doggerel for a baby; full of brilliant points,
which he cannot help, and jumbled into confusion, for which he does not
care.

170. Such are the first difficulties to be encountered in villa designs.
They must always continue to occur in some degree, though they might be
met with ease by a determination on the part of professional men to give
no assistance whatever, beyond the mere superintendence of construction,
unless they be permitted to take the whole exterior design into their
own hands, merely receiving broad instructions respecting the style (and
not attending to them unless they like). They should not make out the
smallest detail, unless they were answerable for the whole. In this
case, gentlemen architects would be thrown so utterly on their own
resources, that, unless those resources were adequate, they would be
obliged to surrender the task into more practiced hands; and, if they
were adequate, if the amateur had paid so much attention to the art as
to be capable of giving the design perfectly, it is probable he would
not erect anything strikingly abominable.

171. Such a system (supposing that it could be carried fully into
effect, and that there were no such animals as sentimental stone-masons
to give technical assistance) might, at first, seem rather an
encroachment on the liberty of the subject, inasmuch as it would prevent
people from indulging their edificatorial fancies, unless they knew
something about the matter, or, as the sufferers would probably
complain, from doing what they liked with their own. But the mistake
would evidently lie in their supposing, as people too frequently do,
that the outside of their house _is_ their own, and that they have a
perfect right therein to make fools of themselves in any manner, and to
any extent, they may think proper. This is quite true in the case of
interiors; every one has an indisputable right to hold himself up as a
laughing-stock to the whole circle of his friends and acquaintances, and
to consult his own private asinine comfort by every piece of absurdity
which can in any degree contribute to the same; but no one has any right
to exhibit his imbecilities at other people's expense, or to claim the
public pity by inflicting public pain. In England, especially, where, as
we saw before, the rage for attracting observation is universal, the
outside of the villa is rendered, by the proprietor's own disposition,
the property of those who daily pass by, and whom it hourly affects with
pleasure or pain. For the pain which the eye feels from the violation of
a law to which it has been accustomed, or the mind from the occurrence
of anything jarring to its finest feelings, is as distinct as that
occasioned by the interruption of the physical economy, differing only
inasmuch as it is not permanent; and, therefore, an individual has as
little right to fulfill his own conceptions by disgusting thousands, as,
were his body as impenetrable to steel or poison, as his brain to the
effect of the beautiful or true, he would have to decorate his carriage
roads with caltrops, or to line his plantations with upas trees.

172. The violation of general feelings would thus be unjust, even were
their consultation productive of continued vexation to the individual:
but it is not. To no one is the architecture of the exterior of a
dwelling-house of so little consequence as to its inhabitant. Its
material may affect his comfort, and its condition may touch his pride;
but, for its architecture, his eye gets accustomed to it in a week, and,
after that, Hellenic, Barbaric, or Yankee, are all the same to the
domestic feelings, are all lost in the one name of Home. Even the
conceit of living in a chalet, or a wigwam, or a pagoda, cannot retain
its influence for six months over the weak minds which alone can feel
it; and the monotony of existence becomes to them exactly what it would
have been had they never inflicted a pang upon the unfortunate
spectators, whose unaccustomed eyes shrink daily from the impression to
which they have not been rendered callous by custom, or lenient by false
taste.

173. If these considerations are just when they allude only to buildings
in the abstract, how much more when referring to them as materials of
composition, materials of infinite power, to adorn or destroy the
loveliness of the earth. The nobler scenery of that earth is the
inheritance of all her inhabitants: it is not merely for the few to whom
it temporarily belongs, to feed from like swine, or to stable upon like
horses, but it has been appointed to be the school of the minds which
are kingly among their fellows, to excite the highest energies of
humanity, to furnish strength to the lordliest intellect, and food for
the holiest emotions of the human soul. The presence of life is, indeed,
necessary to its beauty, but of life congenial with its character; and
that life is not congenial which thrusts presumptuously forward, amidst
the calmness of the universe, the confusion of its own petty interests
and groveling imaginations, and stands up with the insolence of a
moment, amid the majesty of all time, to build baby fortifications upon
the bones of the world, or to sweep the copse from the corrie, and the
shadow from the shore, that fools may risk, and gamblers gather, the
spoil of a thousand summers.

174. It should therefore be remembered by every proprietor of land in
hill country, that his possessions are the means of a peculiar
education, otherwise unattainable, to the artists, and in some degree to
the literary men, of his country; that, even in this limited point of
view, they are a national possession, but much more so when it is
remembered how many thousands are perpetually receiving from them, not
merely a transitory pleasure, but such thrilling perpetuity of pure
emotion, such lofty subject for scientific speculation, and such deep
lessons of natural religion, as only the work of a Deity can impress,
and only the spirit of an immortal can feel: they should remember that
the slightest deformity, the most contemptible excrescence, can injure
the effect of the noblest natural scenery, as a note of discord can
annihilate the expression of the purest harmony; that thus it is in the
power of worms to conceal, to destroy, or to violate, what angels could
not restore, create or consecrate; and that the right, which every man
unquestionably possesses, to be an ass, is extended only, in public, to
those who are innocent in idiotism, not to the more malicious clowns,
who thrust their degraded motley conspicuously forth amidst the fair
colors of earth, and mix their incoherent cries with the melodies of
eternity, break with their inane laugh upon the silence which Creation
keeps where Omnipotence passes most visibly, and scrabble over with the
characters of idiocy the pages that have been written by the finger of
God.

175. These feelings we would endeavor to impress upon all persons likely
to have anything to do with embellishing, as it is called, fine natural
scenery; as they might, in some degree, convince both the architect and
his employer of the danger of giving free play to the imagination in
cases involving intricate questions of feeling and composition, and
might persuade the designer of the necessity of looking, not to his own
acre of land, or to his own peculiar tastes, but to the whole mass of
forms and combination of impressions with which he is surrounded.

176. Let us suppose, however, that the design is yielded entirely to the
architect's discretion. Being a piece of domestic architecture, the
chief object in its exterior design will be to arouse domestic feelings,
which, as we saw before, it will do most distinctly by corresponding
with the first part of character. Yet it is still more necessary that it
should correspond with its situation; and hence arises another
difficulty, the reconciliation of correspondence with contraries; for
such, it is deeply to be regretted, are too often the individual's mind,
and the dwelling-place it chooses. The polished courtier brings his
refinement and duplicity with him to ape the Arcadian rustic in
Devonshire; the romantic rhymer takes a plastered habitation, with one
back window looking into the Green Park; the soft votary of luxury
endeavors to rise at seven, in some Ultima Thule of frosts and storms;
and the rich stock-jobber calculates his percentages among the soft
dingles and woody shores of Westmoreland. When the architect finds this
to be the case, he must, of course, content himself with suiting his
design to such a mind as ought to be where the intruder's is; for the
feelings which are so much at variance with themselves in the choice of
situation, will not be found too critical of their domicile, however
little suited to their temper.

177. If possible, however, he should aim at something more; he should
draw his employer into general conversation; observe the bent of his
disposition, and the habits of his mind; notice every manifestation of
fixed opinions, and then transfer to his architecture as much of the
feeling he has observed as is distinct in its operation. This he should
do, not because the general spectator will be aware of the aptness of
the building, which, knowing nothing of its inmate, he cannot be; nor to
please the individual himself, which it is a chance if any simple design
ever will, and who never will find out how well his character has been
fitted; but because a portrait is always more spirited than a composed
countenance; and because this study of human passions will bring a
degree of energy, unity, and originality into every one of his designs
(all of which will necessarily be different), so simple, so domestic,
and so lifelike, as to strike every spectator with an interest and a
sympathy, for which he will be utterly unable to account, and to impress
on him a perception of something more ethereal than stone or carving,
somewhat similar to that which some will remember having felt
disagreeably in their childhood, on looking at any old house
authentically haunted. The architect will forget in his study of life
the formalities of science, and, while his practiced eye will prevent
him from erring in technicalities, he will advance, with the ruling
feeling, which, in masses of mind, is nationality, to the conception of
something truly original, yet perfectly pure.

178. He will also find his advantage in having obtained a guide in the
invention of decorations of which, as we shall show, we would have many
more in English villas than economy at present allows. Candidus[33]
complains, in his Note Book, that Elizabethan architecture is frequently
adopted, because it is easy, with a pair of scissors, to derive a zigzag
ornament from a doubled piece of paper. But we would fain hope that none
of our professional architects have so far lost sight of the meaning of
their art, as to believe that roughening stone mathematically is
bestowing decoration, though we are too sternly convinced that they
believe mankind to be more shortsighted by at least thirty yards than
they are; for they think of nothing but general effect in their
ornaments, and lay on their flower-work so carelessly, that a good
substantial captain's biscuit, with the small holes left by the
penetration of the baker's four fingers, encircling the large one which
testifies of the forcible passage of his thumb, would form quite as
elegant a rosette as hundreds now perpetuated in stone.

[Footnote 33: [A contributor to the "Architectural Magazine."]]

179. Now, there is nothing which requires study so close, or experiment
so frequent, as the proper designing of ornament. For its use and
position some definite rules may be given; but, when the space and
position have been determined, the lines of curvature, the breadth,
depth, and sharpness of the shadows to be obtained, the junction of the
parts of a group, and the general expression, will present questions for
the solution of which the study of years will sometimes scarcely be
sufficient;[34] for they depend upon the feeling of the eye and hand,
and there is nothing like perfection in decoration, nothing which, in
all probability, might not, by farther consideration, be improved. Now,
in cases in which the outline and larger masses are determined by
situation, the architect will frequently find it necessary to fall
back upon his decorations, as the only means of obtaining character; and
that which before was an unmeaning lump of jagged freestone, will become
a part of expression, an accessory of beautiful design, varied in its
form, and delicate in its effect. Then, instead of shrinking from his
bits of ornament, as from things which will give him trouble to invent,
and will answer no other purpose than that of occupying what would
otherwise have looked blank, the designer will view them as an efficient
_corps de reserve_, to be brought up when the eye comes to close
quarters with the edifice, to maintain and deepen the impression it has
previously received. Much more time will be spent in the conception,
much more labor in the execution, of such meaning ornaments, but both
will be well spent and well rewarded.

[Footnote 34: For example, we would allow one of the modern builders of
Gothic chapels a month of invention, and a botanic garden to work from,
with perfect certainty that he would not, at the expiration of the time,
be able to present us with one design of leafage equal in beauty to
hundreds we could point out in the capitals and niches of Melrose and
Roslin.]

180. Perhaps our meaning may be made more clear by Fig. 13 A, which is
that of a window found in a domestic building of mixed and corrupt
architecture, at Munich (which we give now, because we shall have
occasion to allude to it hereafter). Its absurd breadth of molding, so
disproportionate to its cornice, renders it excessively ugly, but
capable of great variety of effect. It forms one of a range of four,
turning an angle, whose moldings join each other, their double breadth
being the whole separation of the apertures, which are something more
than double squares. Now by alteration of the decoration, and depth of
shadow, we have B and C. These three windows differ entirely in their
feeling and manner, and are broad examples of such distinctions of style
as might be adopted severally in the habitations of the man of
imagination, the man of intellect and the man of feeling.[35] If our
alterations have been properly made, there will be no difficulty in
distinguishing between their expressions, which we shall therefore leave
to conjecture. The character of A depends upon the softness with which
the light is caught upon its ornaments, which should not have a single
hard line in them; and on the gradual, unequal, but intense, depth of
its shadows. B should have all its forms undefined, and passing into one
another, the touches of the chisel light, a grotesque face or feature
occurring in parts, the shadows pale, but broad[36]; and the boldest
part of the carving kept in shadow rather than light. The third should
be hard in its lines, strong in its shades, and quiet in its ornament.

[Footnote 35: [Though not in this order. C is the intellectual window;
B, the imaginative one.]]

[Footnote 36: It is too much the custom to consider a design as composed
of a certain number of hard lines, instead of a certain number of
shadows of various depth and dimension. Though these shadows change
their position in the course of the day, they are relatively always the
same. They have most variety under a strong light without sun, most
expression with the sun. A little observation of the infinite variety of
shade which the sun is capable of casting, as it touches projections of
different curve and character, will enable the designer to be certain of
his effects. We shall have occasion to allude to this subject again.
[See _Seven Lamps of Architecture_, III. 13, 23.]]

[Illustration: Fig. 13. Windows.]

181. These hints will be sufficient to explain our meaning, and we have
not space to do more, as the object of these papers is rather to observe
than to advise. Besides, in questions of expression so intricate, it is
almost impossible to advance fixed principles; every mind will have
perceptions of its own, which will guide its speculations, every hand,
and eye, and peculiar feeling, varying even from year to year. We have
only started the subject of correspondence with individual character,
because we think that imaginative minds might take up the idea with some
success, as furnishing them with a guide in the variation of their
designs, more certain than mere experiment on unmeaning forms, or than
ringing indiscriminate changes on component parts of established beauty.
To the reverie, rather than the investigation, to the dream, rather than
the deliberation, of the architect, we recommend it, as a branch of art
in which instinct will do more than precept, and inspiration than
technicality. The correspondence of our villa architecture with our
natural scenery may be determined with far greater accuracy, and will
require careful investigation.

We had hoped to have concluded the Villa in this paper; but the
importance of domestic architecture at the present day, when people want
houses more than fortresses, safes more than keeps, and sculleries more
than dungeons, is sufficient apology for delay.

OXFORD, _August, 1838._




VI.

THE BRITISH VILLA.--PRINCIPLES OF COMPOSITION.

_The Cultivated, or Blue Country and the Wooded, or Green Country._


182. In the papers hitherto devoted to the investigation of villa
architecture, we have contemplated the beauties of what may be
considered as its model, in its original and natural territory; and we
have noticed the difficulties to be encountered in the just erection of
villas in England. It remains only to lay down the general principles of
composition, which in such difficulties may, in some degree, serve as a
guide. Into more than general principles it is not consistent with our
plan to enter. One obstacle, which was more particularly noticed, was,
as it may be remembered, the variety of the geological formations of the
country. This will compel us to use the divisions of landscape formerly
adopted in speaking of the cottage, and to investigate severally the
kind of domestic architecture required by each.

183. First. Blue or cultivated country, which is to be considered as
including those suburban districts, in the neighborhood of populous
cities, which, though more frequently black than blue, possess the
activity, industry, and life, which we before noticed as one of the
characteristics of blue country. We shall not, however, allude to
suburban villas at present; first, because they are in country
possessing nothing which can be spoiled by anything; and, secondly,
because their close association renders them subject to laws which,
being altogether different from those by which we are to judge of the
beauty of solitary villas, we shall have to develop in the consideration
of street effects.

184. Passing over the suburb, then, we have to distinguish between the
_simple_ blue country, which is composed only of rich cultivated
champaign, relieved in parts by low undulations, monotonous and
uninteresting as a whole, though cheerful in its character, and
beautiful in details of lanes and meadow paths; and the _picturesque_
blue country, lying at the foot of high hill ranges, intersected by
their outworks, broken here and there into bits of crag and dingle
scenery; perpetually presenting prospects of exquisite distant beauty,
and possessing in its valley and river scenery, fine detached specimens
of the natural "green country." This distinction we did not make in
speaking of the cottage; the effect of which, owing to its size, can
extend only over a limited space; and this space, if in picturesque blue
country, must be either part of its monotonous cultivation, when it is
to be considered as belonging to the simple blue country, or part of its
dingle scenery, when it becomes green country; and it would not be just,
to suit a cottage, actually placed in one color, to the general effect
of another color, with which it could have nothing to do. But the effect
of the villa extends very often over a considerable space, and becomes
part of the large features of the district; so that the whole character
and expression of the visible landscape must be considered, and thus the
distinction between the two kinds of blue country becomes absolutely
necessary. Of the first, or simple, we have already adduced, as an
example, the greater part of the South of England. Of the second, or
picturesque, the cultivated parts of the North and East Ridings of
Yorkshire, generally Shropshire, and the north of Lancashire, and
Cumberland, beyond Caldbeck Fells, are good examples; perhaps better
than all, the country for twelve miles north, and thirty south, east,
and west, of Stirling.


_A. The Simple Blue Country._

185. Now, the matter-of-fact business-like activity of simple blue
country has been already alluded to. This attribute renders in it a
plain palpable brick dwelling-house allowable; though a thing which, in
every country but the simple blue, compels every spectator of any
feeling to send up aspirations, that builders who, like those of Babel,
have brick for stone, may be put, like those of Babel, to confusion.
Here, however, it is not only allowable, but even agreeable, for the
following reasons:--

186. Its cleanness and freshness of color, admitting of little dampness
or staining, firm in its consistence, not moldering like stone, and
therefore inducing no conviction of antiquity or decay, presents rather
the appearance of such comfort as is contrived for the enjoyment of
temporary wealth, than of such solidity as is raised for the inheritance
of unfluctuating power. It is thus admirably suited for that country
where all is change, and all activity; where the working and
money-making members of the community are perpetually succeeding and
overpowering each other; enjoying, each in his turn, the reward of his
industry; yielding up the field, the pasture, and the mine, to his
successor, and leaving no more memory behind him, no farther evidence of
his individual existence, than is left by a working bee, in the honey
for which we thank his class, forgetting the individual. The simple blue
country may, in fact, be considered the dining-table of the nation; from
which it provides for its immediate necessities, at which it feels only
its present existence, and in which it requires, not a piece of
furniture adapted only to remind it of past refection, but a polished,
clean, and convenient minister to its immediate wishes. No habitation,
therefore, in this country, should look old: it should give an
impression of present prosperity, of swift motion and high energy of
life; too rapid in its successive operation to attain greatness, or
allow of decay, in its works. This is the first cause which, in this
country, renders brick allowable.

187. Again, wherever the soil breaks out in simple blue country, whether
in the river shore, or the broken roadside bank, or the plowed field, in
nine cases out of ten it is excessively warm in its color, being either
gravel or clay, the black vegetable soil never remaining free of
vegetation. The warm tone of these beds of soil is an admirable relief
to the blue of the distances, which we have taken as the distinctive
feature of the country, tending to produce the perfect light without
which no landscape can be complete. Therefore the red of the brick is
prevented from glaring upon the eye, by its falling in with similar
colors in the ground, and contrasting finely with the general tone of
the distance. This is another instance of the material which nature most
readily furnishes being the right one. In almost all blue country, we
have only to turn out a few spadefuls of loose soil, and we come to the
bed of clay, which is the best material for the building; whereas we
should have to travel hundreds of miles, or to dig thousands of feet, to
get the stone which nature does not want, and therefore has not given.

188. Another excellence in brick is its perfect air of English
respectability. It is utterly impossible for an edifice altogether of
brick to look affected or absurd: it may look rude, it may look vulgar,
it may look disgusting, in a wrong place; but it cannot look foolish,
for it is incapable of pretension. We may suppose its master a brute, or
an ignoramus, but we can never suppose him a coxcomb: a bear he may be,
a fop he cannot be; and, if we find him out of his place, we feel that
it is owing to error, not to impudence; to self-ignorance, not to
self-conceit; to the want, not the assumption of feeling. It is thus
that brick is peculiarly English in its effect: for we are brutes in
many things, and we are ignoramuses in many things, and we are destitute
of feeling in many things, but we are _not_ coxcombs. It is only by the
utmost effort, that some of our most highly gifted junior gentlemen can
attain such distinction of title; and even then the honor sits ill upon
them: they are but awkward coxcombs. Affectation[37] never was, and
never will be, a part of English character; we have too much national
pride, too much consciousness of our own dignity and power, too much
established self-satisfaction, to allow us to become ridiculous by
imitative efforts; and, as it is only by endeavoring to appear what he
is not, that a man ever can become so, properly speaking, our
true-witted Continental neighbors, who shrink from John Bull as a brute,
never laugh at him as a fool. "Il est bete, il n'est pas pourtant sot."

[Footnote 37: The nation, indeed, possesses one or two interesting
individuals, whose affectation is, as we have seen, strikingly
manifested in their lake villas: but every rule has its exceptions; and,
even on these gifted personages, the affectation sits so very awkwardly,
so like a velvet bonnet on a plowman's carroty hair, that it is
evidently a late acquisition. Thus, one proprietor of land on
Windermere, who has built unto himself a castellated mansion with round
towers, and a Swiss cottage for a stable, has yet, with that admiration
of the "neat but not gaudy," which is commonly reported to have
influenced the devil when he painted his tail pea-green, painted the
rocks at the back of his house pink, that they may look clean. This is a
little outcrop of English feeling in the midst of the assumed romance.]

189. The brick house admirably corresponds with this part of English
character; for, unable as it is to be beautiful, or graceful, or
dignified, it is equally unable to be absurd. There is a proud
independence about it, which seems conscious of its entire and perfect
applicability to those uses for which it was built, and full of a
good-natured intention to render every one who seeks shelter within its
walls excessively comfortable; it therefore feels awkward in no company;
and, wherever it intrudes its good-humored red face, stares plaster and
marble out of countenance with an insensible audacity, which we drive
out of such refined company, as we would a clown from a drawing-room,
but which we nevertheless seek in its own place, as we would seek the
conversation of the clown in his own turnip-field, if he were sensible
in the main.

190. Lastly. Brick is admirably adapted for the climate of England, and
for the frequent manufacturing nuisances of English blue country: for
the smoke, which makes marble look like charcoal, and stucco like mud,
only renders brick less glaring in its color; and the inclement climate,
which makes the composition front look as if its architect had been
amusing himself by throwing buckets of green water down from the roof,
and before which the granite base of Stirling Castle is moldering into
sand as impotent as ever was ribbed by ripple, wreaks its rage in vain
upon the bits of baked clay, leaving them strong, and dry, and
stainless, warm and comfortable in their effect, even when neglect has
permitted the moss and wall-flower to creep into their crannies, and
mellow into something like beauty that which is always comfort. Damp,
which fills many stones as it would a sponge, is defied by the brick;
and the warmth of every gleam of sunshine is caught by it, and stored up
for future expenditure; so that, both actually and in its effect, it is
peculiarly suited for a climate whose changes are in general from bad to
worse, and from worse to bad.

191. These then are the principal apologies which the brick
dwelling-house has to offer for its ugliness. They will, however, only
stand it in stead in the simple blue country; and, even there, only when
the following points are observed.

First. The brick should neither be of the white, nor the very dark red,
kind. The white is worse than useless as a color: its cold, raw, sandy
neutral has neither warmth enough to relieve, nor gray enough to
harmonize with, any natural tones; it does not please the eye by warmth,
in shade; it hurts it, by dry heat in sun; it has none of the advantages
of effect which brick may have, to compensate for the vulgarity which it
must have, and is altogether to be abhorred. The very bright red, again,
is one of the ugliest warm colors that art ever stumbled upon: it is
never mellowed by damps or anything else, and spoils everything near it
by its intolerable and inevitable glare. The moderately dark brick, of a
neutral red, is to be chosen, and this, after a year or two, will be
farther softened in its color by atmospheric influence, and will possess
all the advantages we have enumerated. It is almost unnecessary to point
out its fitness for a damp situation, not only as the best material for
securing the comfort of the inhabitant, but because it will the sooner
contract a certain degree of softness of tone, occasioned by microscopic
vegetation, which will leave no more brick-red than is agreeable to the
feelings where the atmosphere is chill.

192. Secondly. Even this kind of red is a very powerful color; and as,
in combination with the other primitive colors, very little of it will
complete the light, so, very little will answer every purpose in
landscape composition, and every addition, above that little, will be
disagreeable. Brick, therefore, never should be used in large groups of
buildings, where those groups are to form part of landscape scenery: two
or three houses, partly shaded with trees, are all that can be admitted
at once. There is no object more villainously destructive of natural
beauty, than a large town, of very red brick, with very scarlet tiling,
very tall chimneys, and very few trees; while there are few objects that
harmonize more agreeably with the feeling of English ordinary landscape,
than the large, old, solitary, brick manor house, with its group of dark
cedars on the lawn in front, and the tall wrought-iron gates opening
down the avenue of approach.

193. Thirdly. No stone quoining, or presence of any contrasting color,
should be admitted. Quoins in general (though, by the by, they are
prettily managed in the old Tolbooth of Glasgow, and some other antique
buildings in Scotland), are only excusable as giving an appearance of
strength; while their zigzag monotony, when rendered conspicuous by
difference of color, is altogether detestable. White cornices, niches,
and the other superfluous introductions in stone and plaster, which some
architects seem to think ornamental, only mock what they cannot mend,
take away the whole expression of the edifice, render the brick-red
glaring and harsh, and become themselves ridiculous in isolation.
Besides, as a general principle, contrasts of extensive color are to be
avoided in all buildings, and especially in positive and unmanageable
tints. It is difficult to imagine whence the custom of putting stone
ornaments into brick buildings could have arisen; unless it be an
imitation of the Italian custom of mixing marble with stucco, which
affords it no sanction, as the marble is only distinguishable from the
general material by the sharpness of the carved edges. The Dutch seem to
have been the originators of the custom; and, by the by, if we remember
right, in one of the very finest pieces of coloring now extant, a
landscape by Rubens (in the gallery at Munich, we think), the artist
seems to have sanctioned the barbarism, by introducing a brick edifice,
with white stone quoining. But the truth is that he selected the
subject, partly under the influence of domestic feelings, the place
being, as it is thought, his own habitation, and partly as a piece of
practice, presenting such excessive difficulties of color, as he, the
lord of color, who alone could overcome them, would peculiarly delight
in overcoming; and the harmony with which he has combined tints of the
most daring force, and sharpest apparent contrast, in the edgy building,
and opposed them to an uninteresting distance of excessive azure (simple
blue country, observe), is one of the chief wonders of the painting: so
that this masterpiece can no more furnish an apology for the continuance
of a practice which, though it gives some liveliness of character to the
warehouses of Amsterdam, is fit only for a place whose foundations are
mud, and whose inhabitants are partially animated cheeses,--than
Caravaggio's custom of painting blackguards should introduce an ambition
among mankind in general of becoming fit subjects for his pencil. We
shall have occasion again to allude to this subject, in speaking of
Dutch street effects.

194. Fourthly. It will generally be found to agree best with the
business-like air of the blue country, if the house be excessively
simple, and apparently altogether the minister of utility; but, where it
is to be extensive, or tall, a few decorations about the upper windows
are desirable. These should be quiet and severe in their lines, and cut
boldly in the brick itself. Some of the minor streets in the King of
Sardinia's capital are altogether of brick, very richly charged with
carving, with excellent effect, and furnish a very good model. Of course
no delicate ornament can be obtained, and no classical lines can be
allowed; for we should be horrified by seeing that in brick which we
have been accustomed to see in marble. The architect must be left to his
own taste for laying on, sparingly and carefully, a few dispositions of
well proportioned line, which are all that can ever be required.

195. These broad principles are all that need be attended to in simple
blue country: anything will look well in it which is not affected; and
the architect, who keeps comfort and utility steadily in view, and runs
off into no expatiations of fancy, need never be afraid here of falling
into error.


_B. The Picturesque Blue Country._

196. But the case is different with the picturesque blue country.[38]
Here, owing to the causes mentioned in the notes at p. 71, we have some
of the most elevated bits of landscape character, which the country,
whatever it may be, can afford. Its first and most distinctive
peculiarity is its grace; it is all undulation and variety of line, one
curve passing into another with the most exquisite softness, rolling
away into faint and far outlines of various depth and decision, yet none
hard or harsh; and in all probability, rounded off in the near ground
into massy forms of partially wooded hill, shaded downwards into winding
dingles or cliffy ravines, each form melting imperceptibly into the
next, without an edge or angle.

[Footnote 38: In leaving simple blue country, we hope it need hardly be
said that we leave bricks at once and forever. Nothing can excuse them
out of their proper territory.]

197. Its next character is mystery. It is a country peculiarly
distinguished by its possessing features of great sublimity in the
distance, without giving any hint in the foreground of their actual
nature. A range of mountain, seen from a mountain peak, may have
sublimity, but not the mystery with which it is invested, when seen
rising over the farthest surge of misty blue, where everything near is
soft and smiling, totally separated in nature from the consolidated
clouds of the horizon. The picturesque blue country is sure, from the
nature of the ground, to present some distance of this kind, so as never
to be without a high and ethereal mystery.

198. The third and last distinctive attribute is sensuality. This is a
startling word, and requires some explanation. In the first place, every
line is voluptuous, floating, and wavy in its form; deep, rich, and
exquisitely soft in its color; drowsy in its effect; like slow wild
music; letting the eye repose on it, as on a wreath of cloud, without
one feature of harshness to hurt, or of contrast to awaken. In the
second place, the cultivation, which, in the simple blue country, has
the forced formality of growth which evidently is to supply the
necessities of man, here seems to leap into the spontaneous luxuriance
of life, which is fitted to minister to his pleasures. The surface of
the earth exults with animation, especially tending to the gratification
of the senses; and, without the artificialness which reminds man of the
necessity of his own labor, without the opposing influences which call
for his resistance, without the vast energies that remind him of his
impotence, without the sublimity that can call his noblest thoughts into
action, yet, with every perfection that can tempt him to indolence of
enjoyment, and with such abundant bestowal of natural gifts, as might
seem to prevent that indolence from being its own punishment, the earth
appears to have become a garden of delight, wherein the sweep of the
bright hills, without chasm or crag, the flow of the bending rivers,
without rock or rapid, and the fruitfulness of the fair earth, without
care or labor on the part of its inhabitants, appeal to the most
pleasant passions of eye and sense, calling for no effort of body, and
impressing no fear on the mind. In hill country we have a struggle to
maintain with the elements; in simple blue, we have not the luxuriance
of delight: here, and here only, all nature combines to breathe over us
a lulling slumber, through which life degenerates into sensation.

199. These considerations are sufficient to explain what we mean by the
epithet "sensuality." Now, taking these three distinctive attributes,
the mysterious, the graceful, and the voluptuous, what is the whole
character? Very nearly--the Greek: for these attributes, common to all
picturesque blue country, are modified in the degree of their presence
by every climate. In England they are all low in their tone; but as we
go southward, the voluptuousness becomes deeper in feeling as the colors
of the earth and the heaven become purer and more passionate, and "the
purple of ocean deepest of dye;" the mystery becomes mightier, for the
greater and more universal energy of the beautiful permits its features
to come nearer, and to rise into the sublime, without causing fear. It
is thus that we get the essence of the Greek feeling, as it was embodied
in their finest imaginations, as it showed itself in the works of their
sculptors and their poets, in which sensation was made almost equal with
thought, and deified by its nobility of association; at once voluptuous,
refined, dreamily mysterious, infinitely beautiful. Hence, it appears
that the spirit of this blue country is essentially Greek; though, in
England and in other northern localities, that spirit is possessed by it
in a diminished and degraded degree. It is also the natural dominion of
the villa, possessing all the attributes which attracted the Romans,
when, in their hours of idleness, they lifted the light arches along the
echoing promontories of Tiber. It is especially suited to the expression
of the edifice of pleasure; and, therefore, is most capable of being
adorned by it.

200. The attention of every one about to raise himself a villa of any
kind should, therefore, be directed to this kind of country; first, as
that in which he will not be felt to be an intruder; secondly, as that
which will, in all probability, afford him the greatest degree of
continuous pleasure, when his eye has become accustomed to the features
of the locality. To the human mind, as on the average constituted, the
features of hill scenery will, by repetition, become tiresome, and of
wood scenery, monotonous; while the simple blue can possess little
interest of any kind. Powerful intellect will generally take perpetual
delight in hill residence; but the general mind soon feels itself
oppressed with a peculiar melancholy and weariness, which it is ashamed
to own; and we hear our romantic gentlemen begin to call out about the
want of society, while, if the animals were fit to live where they have
forced themselves, they would never want more society than that of a
gray stone, or of a clear pool of gushing water. On the other hand,
there are few minds so degraded as not to feel greater pleasure in the
picturesque blue than in any other country. Its distance has generally
grandeur enough to meet their moods of aspiration; its near aspect is
that of a more human interest than that of hill country, and harmonizes
more truly with the domestic feelings which are common to all mankind;
so that, on the whole, it will be found to maintain its freshness of
beauty to the habituated eye, in a greater degree than any other
scenery.

201. As it thus persuades us to inhabit it, it becomes a point of honor
not to make the attractiveness of its beauty its destruction; especially
as, being the natural dominion of the villa, it affords great
opportunity for the architect to exhibit variety of design.

Its spirit has been proved to be Greek; and therefore, though that
spirit is slightly manifested in Britain, and though every good
architect is shy of importation, villas on Greek and Roman models are
admissible here. Still, as in all blue country there is much activity of
life, the principle of utility should be kept in view, and the building
should have as much simplicity as can be united with perfect
gracefulness of line. It appears from the principles of composition
alluded to in speaking of the Italian villa, that in undulating country
the forms should be square and massy; and, where the segments of curves
are small, the buildings should be low and flat, while they may be
prevented from appearing cumbrous by some well-managed irregularity of
design, which will be agreeable to the inhabitant as well as to the
spectator; enabling him to change the aspect and size of his chamber, as
temperature or employment may render such change desirable, without
being foiled in his design, by finding the apartments of one wing
matched, foot to foot, by those of the other.

202. For the color, it has been shown that white or pale tints are
agreeable in all blue country: but there must be warmth in it, and a
great deal too,--gray being comfortless and useless with a cold
distance; but it must not be raw or glaring.[39] The roof and chimneys
should be kept out of sight as much as possible; and therefore the one
very flat, and the other very plain. We ought to revive the Greek custom
of roofing with thin slabs of coarse marble, cut into the form of tiles.
However, where the architect finds he has a very cool distance, and few
trees about the building, and where it stands so high as to preclude the
possibility of its being looked down upon, he will, if he be courageous,
use a very flat roof of the dark Italian tile. The eaves, which are all
that should be seen, will be peculiarly graceful; and the sharp contrast
of color (for this tiling can only be admitted with white walls) may be
altogether avoided, by letting them cast a strong shadow, and by running
the walls up into a range of low garret windows, to break the horizontal
line of the roof. He will thus obtain a bit of very strong color, which
will impart a general glow of cheerfulness to the building, and which,
if he manages it rightly, will not be glaring nor intrusive. It is to
be observed, however, that he can only do this with villas of the most
humble order, and that he will seldom find his employer possessed of so
much common sense as to put up with a tile roof. When this is the case,
the flat slabs of the upper limestone (ragstone) are usually better than
slate.

[Footnote 39: The epithet "raw," by the by, is vague, and needs
definition. Every tint is raw which is perfectly opaque, and has not all
the three primitive colors in its composition. Thus, black is always
raw, because it has no color; white never, because it has all colors. No
tint can be raw which is not opaque; and opacity may be taken away,
either by actual depth and transparency, as in the sky; by luster and
texture, as in the case of silk and velvet, or by variety of shade as in
forest verdure. Two instances will be sufficient to prove the truth of
this. Brick, when first fired, is always raw; but when it has been a
little weathered, it acquires a slight blue tint, assisted by the gray
of the mortar: incipient vegetation affords it the yellow. It thus
obtains an admixture of the three colors, and is raw no longer. An old
woman's red cloak, though glaring, is never raw; for it must of
necessity have folded shades: those shades are of a rich gray; no gray
can exist without yellow and blue. We have then three colors, and no
rawness. It must be observed however, that when any one of the colors is
given in so slight a degree that it can be overpowered by certain
effects of light, the united color, when opaque, will be raw. Thus many
flesh-colors are raw; because, though they must have a little blue in
their composition, it is too little to be efficiently visible in a
strong light.]

203. For the rest, it is always to be kept in view, that the prevailing
character of the whole is to be that of graceful simplicity;
distinguished from the simplicity of the Italian edifice, by being that
of utility instead of that of pride.[40] Consequently the building must
_not_ be Gothic or Elizabethan: it may be as commonplace as the
proprietor likes, provided its proportions be good; but nothing can ever
excuse one acute angle, or one decorated pinnacle,--both being direct
interruption of the repose with which the eye is indulged by the
undulations of the surrounding scenery. Tower and fortress outlines are
indeed agreeable, for their fine grouping and roundness; but we do not
allude to them, because nothing can be more absurd than the humor
prevailing at the present day among many of our peaceable old gentlemen,
who never smelt powder in their lives, to eat their morning muffin in a
savage-looking round tower, and admit quiet old ladies to a tea-party
under the range of twenty-six cannon, which--it is lucky for the
china--are all wooden ones,--as they are, in all probability, accurately
and awfully pointed into the drawing-room windows.

[Footnote 40: There must always be a difficulty in building in
picturesque blue country in England; for the English character is
opposed to that of the country: it is neither graceful, nor mysterious,
nor voluptuous; therefore, what we cede to the country, we take from the
nationality, and _vice versa_.]

So much then for our British blue country, to which it was necessary to
devote some time, as occupying a considerable portion of the island, and
being peculiarly well adapted for villa residences.


_C. The Woody or Green Country._

204. The woody, or green country, which is next in order, was spoken of
before, and was shown to be especially our own. The Elizabethan was
pointed out as the style peculiarly belonging to it; and farther
criticism of that style was deferred until we came to the consideration
of domestic buildings provided with the means of defense. We have
therefore at present only to offer a few remarks on the principles to be
observed in the erection of Elizabethan villas at the present day.

205. First. The building must be either quite chaste, or excessively
rich in decoration. Every inch of ornament short of a certain quantity
will render the whole effect poor and ridiculous; while the pure
perpendicular lines of this architecture will always look well if left
entirely alone. The architect therefore, when limited as to expense,
should content himself with making his oriels project boldly, channeling
their mullions richly, and, in general, rendering his vertical lines
delicate and beautiful in their workmanship; but, if his estimate be
unlimited, he should lay on his ornament richly, taking care never to
confuse the eye.

Those parts to which, of necessity, observation is especially directed,
must be finished so as to bear a close scrutiny, that the eye may rest
on them with satisfaction: but their finish must not be of a character
which would have attracted the eye by itself, without being placed in a
conspicuous situation; for, if it were, the united attraction of form
and detail would confine the contemplation altogether to the parts so
distinguished, and render it impossible for the mind to receive any
impression of general effect.

Consequently, the parts that project, and are to bear a strong light,
must be chiseled with infinite delicacy; so that the ornament, though it
would have remained unobserved had the eye not been guided to it, when
observed, may be of distinguished beauty and power; but those parts
which are to be flat and in shade should be marked with great sharpness
and boldness, that the impression may be equalized.

When, for instance, we have to do with oriels, to which attention is
immediately attracted by their projection, we may run wreaths of the
finest flower-work up the mullions, charge the terminations with
shields, and quarter them richly; but we must join the window to the
wall, where its shadow falls, by means of more deep and decided
decoration.

206. Secondly. In the choice and design of his ornaments, the architect
should endeavor to be grotesque rather than graceful (though little bits
of soft flower-work here and there will relieve the eye): but he must
not imagine he can be grotesque by carving faces with holes for eyes and
knobs for noses; on the contrary, whenever he mimics grotesque life,
there should be wit and humor in every feature, fun and frolic in every
attitude; every distortion should be anatomical, and every monster a
studied combination. This is a question, however, relating more nearly
to Gothic architecture and therefore we shall not enter into it at
present.[41]

[Footnote 41: [See _Stones of Venice_, vol. III. chap. iii.]]

207. Thirdly. The gables must on no account be jagged into a succession
of right angles, as if people were to be perpetually engaged in trotting
up one side and down the other. This custom, though sanctioned by
authority, has very little apology to offer for itself, based on any
principle of composition. In street effect indeed it is occasionally
useful; and where the verticals below are unbroken by ornament, may be
used even in the detached Elizabethan, but not when decoration has been
permitted below. They should then be carried up in curved lines,
alternating with two angles, or three at the most, without pinnacles or
hipknobs. A hollow parapet is far better than a battlement, in the
intermediate spaces; the latter indeed is never allowable, except when
the building has some appearance of being intended for defense, and
therefore is generally barbarous in the villa; while the parapet admits
of great variety of effect.

208. Lastly. Though the grotesque of Elizabethan architecture is
adapted for wood country, the grotesque of the clipped garden, which
frequently accompanies it, is not. The custom of clipping trees into
fantastic forms is always to be reprehended: first, because it never can
produce the true grotesque, for the material is not passive, and,
therefore, a perpetual sense of restraint is induced, while the great
principle of the grotesque is action; again, because we have a distinct
perception of two natures, the one neutralizing the other; for the
vegetable organization is too palpable to let the animal form suggest
its true idea; again, because the great beauty of all foliage is the
energy of life and action, of which it loses the appearance by formal
clipping; and again, because the hands of the gardener will never
produce anything really spirited or graceful. Much, however, need not be
said on this subject; for the taste of the public does not now prompt
them to such fettering of fair freedom, and we should be as sorry to see
the characteristic vestiges of it, which still remain in a few gardens,
lost altogether, as to see the thing again becoming common.

209. The garden of the Elizabethan villa, then, should be laid out with
a few simple terraces near the house, so as to unite it well with the
ground; lines of balustrade along the edges, guided away into the
foliage of the taller trees of the garden, with the shadows falling at
intervals. The balusters should be square rather than round, with the
angles outward; and if the balustrade looks unfinished at the corners,
it may be surmounted by a grotesque bit of sculpture, of any kind; but
it must be very strong and deep in its carved lines, and must not be
large; and all graceful statues are to be avoided, for the reasons
mentioned in speaking of the Italian villa: neither is the terraced part
of the garden to extend to any distance from the house, nor to have deep
flights of steps, for they are sure to get mossy and slippery, if not
superintended with troublesome care; and the rest of the garden should
have more trees than flowers in it. A flower-garden is an ugly thing,
even when best managed: it is an assembly of unfortunate beings,
pampered and bloated above their natural size, stewed and heated into
diseased growth; corrupted by evil communication into speckled and
inharmonious colors; torn from the soil which they loved, and of which
they were the spirit and the glory, to glare away their term of
tormented life among the mixed and incongruous essences of each other,
in earth that they know not, and in air that is poison to them.

210. The florist may delight in this: the true lover of flowers never
will. He who has taken lessons from nature, who has observed the real
purpose and operation of flowers; how they flush forth from the
brightness of the earth's being, as the melody rises up from among the
moved strings of the instrument; how the wildness of their pale colors
passes over her, like the evidence of a various emotion; how the quick
fire of their life and their delight glows along the green banks, where
the dew falls the thickest, and the mists of incense pass slowly through
the twilight of the leaves, and the intertwined roots make the earth
tremble with strange joy at the feeling of their motion; he who has
watched this will never take away the beauty of their being to mix into
meretricious glare, or feed into an existence of disease. And the
flower-garden is as ugly in effect as it is unnatural in feeling: it
never will harmonize with anything, and if people will have it, should
be kept out of sight till they get into it.

211. But, in laying out the garden which is to assist the effect of the
building, we must observe, and exclusively use, the natural combinations
of flowers.[42] Now, as far as we are aware, bluish purple is the only
flower color which Nature ever uses in masses of distant effect; this,
however, she does in the case of most heathers, with the Rhododendron
ferrugineum, and, less extensively, with the colder color of the wood
hyacinth. Accordingly, the large rhododendron may be used to almost any
extent, in masses; the pale varieties of the rose more sparingly; and,
on the turf, the wild violet and pansy should be sown by chance, so that
they may grow in undulations of color, and should be relieved by a few
primroses. All dahlias, tulips, ranunculi, and, in general, what are
called florist's flowers, should be avoided like garlic.

[Footnote 42: Every one who is about to lay out a limited extent of
garden, in which he wishes to introduce many flowers, should read and
attentively study, first Shelley, and next Shakspeare. The latter indeed
induces the most beautiful connections between thought and flower that
can be found in the whole range of European literature; but he very
often uses the symbolical effect of the flower, which it can only have
on the educated mind, instead of the natural and true effect of the
flower, which it must have, more or less, upon every mind. Thus, when
Ophelia, presenting her wild flowers, says, "There's rosemary, that's
for remembrance; pray you, love, remember: and there is pansies, that's
for thoughts:" the infinite "beauty of the passage depends entirely upon
the arbitrary meaning attached to the flowers. But, when Shelley speaks
of

                        "The lily of the vale,
    Whom youth makes so fair, and passion so pale,
    That the light of her tremulous bells is seen
    Through their pavilion of tender green,"

he is etherealizing an impression which the mind naturally receives from
the flower. Consequently, as it is only by their natural influence that
flowers can address the mind through the eye, we must read Shelley, to
learn how to use flowers, and Shakspeare, to learn to love them. In both
writers we find the wild flower possessing soul as well as life, and
mingling its influence most intimately, like an untaught melody, with
the deepest and most secret streams of human emotion.]

212. Perhaps we should apologize for introducing this in the
_Architectural Magazine_; but it is not out of place: the garden is
almost a necessary adjunct of the Elizabethan villa, and all garden
architecture is utterly useless unless it be assisted by the botanical
effect.

These, then, are a few of the more important principles of architecture,
which are to be kept in view in the blue and in the green country. The
wild, or gray, country is never selected, in Britain, as the site of a
villa; and, therefore, it only remains for us to offer a few remarks on
a subject as difficult as it is interesting and important, the
architecture of the villa in British hill, or brown, country.




VII.

THE BRITISH VILLA.--PRINCIPLES OF COMPOSITION.

_D. Hill, or Brown Country._

"Vivite contenti casulis et collibus istis."--Juvenal [xiv. 179.]


213. In the Boulevard des Italiens, just at the turning into the Rue de
la Paix (in Paris), there stand a few dusky and withered trees, beside a
kind of dry ditch, paved at the bottom, into which a carriage can with
some difficulty descend, and which affords access (not in an unusual
manner) to the ground floor of a large and dreary-looking house, whose
passages are dark and confined, whose rooms are limited in size, and
whose windows command an interesting view of the dusky trees before
mentioned.

This is the town residence of one of the Italian noblemen, whose country
house has already been figured as a beautiful example of the villas of
the Lago di Como. That villa, however, though in one of the loveliest
situations that hill, and wave, and heaven ever combined to adorn, and
though itself one of the most delicious habitations that luxury ever
projected or wealth procured, is very rarely honored by the presence of
its master; while attractions of a very different nature retain him,
winter after winter, in the dark chambers of the Boulevard des Italiens.

214. This appears singular to the casual traveler, who darts down from
the dust and heat of the French capital to the light and glory of the
Italian lakes, and finds the tall marble chambers and orange groves, in
which he thinks, were he possessed of them, he could luxuriate forever,
left desolate and neglected by their real owner; but, were he to try
such a residence for a single twelvemonth, we believe his wonder would
have greatly diminished at the end of the time. For the mind of the
nobleman in question does not differ from that of the average of men;
inasmuch as it is a well-known fact that a series of sublime
impressions, continued indefinitely, gradually pall upon the
imagination, deaden its fineness of feeling, and in the end induce a
gloomy and morbid state of mind, a reaction of a peculiarly melancholy
character, because consequent, not upon the absence of that which once
caused excitement, but upon the failure of its power.[43] This is not
the case with all men; but with those over whom the sublimity of an
unchanging scene can retain its power forever, we have nothing to do;
for they know better than any architect can, how to choose their scene,
and how to add to its effect; we have only to impress upon them the
propriety of thinking before they build, and of keeping their humors
under the control of their judgment.

[Footnote 43: [Compare _Modern Painters_. vol. III. chap. x. Sec. 15.]]

215. It is not of them, but of the man of average intellect, that we are
thinking throughout all these papers; and upon him it cannot be too
strongly impressed, that there are very few points in a hill country at
all adapted for a permanent residence. There is a kind of instinct,
indeed, by which men become aware of this, and shrink from the sterner
features of hill scenery into the parts possessing a human interest; and
thus we find the north side of the Lake Leman, from Vevay to Geneva,
which is about as monotonous a bit of vine-country as any in Europe,
studded with villas; while the south side, which is as exquisite a piece
of scenery as is to be found in all Switzerland, possesses, we think,
two. The instinct in this case is true; but we frequently find it in
error. Thus, the Lake of Como is the resort of half Italy, while the
Lago Maggiore possesses scarcely one villa of importance, besides those
on the Borromean Islands. Yet the Lago Maggiore is far better adapted
for producing and sustaining a pleasurable impression, than that of
Como.

216. The first thing, then, which the architect has to do in hill
country is to bring his employer down from heroics to common sense; to
teach him that, although it might be very well for a man like Pliny,[44]
whose whole spirit and life was wrapt up in that of Nature, to set
himself down under the splash of a cascade 400 feet high, such escapades
are not becoming in English gentlemen; and that it is necessary, for his
own satisfaction, as well as that of others, that he should keep in the
most quiet and least pretending corners of the landscape which he has
chosen.

[Footnote 44: [This passage seems to suggest that the Villa Pliniana on
Como was built by Pliny. It was, however, the work of an antiquarian
nobleman of the Renaissance, and merely named after the great
naturalist, who was born, perhaps, at Como, and mentions an ebbing
spring on this site.]]

217. Having got his employer well under control, he has two points to
consider. First, where he will spoil least; and, secondly, where he will
gain most.

Now he may spoil a landscape in two ways: either by destroying an
association connected with it, or a beauty inherent in it. With the
first barbarism we have nothing to do; for it is one which would not be
permitted on a large scale; and even if it were, could not be
perpetrated by any man of the slightest education. No one, having any
pretensions to be called a human being, would build himself a house on
the meadow of the Ruetli, or by the farm of La Haye Sainte, or on the
lonely isle on Loch Katrine. Of the injustice of the second barbarism we
have spoken already; and it is the object of this paper to show how it
may be avoided, as well as to develop the principles by which we may be
guided in the second question; that of ascertaining how much permanent
pleasure will be received from the contemplation of a given scene.

218. It is very fortunate that the result of these several
investigations will generally be found the same. The residence which in
the end is found altogether delightful, will be found to have been
placed where it has committed no injury; and therefore the best way of
consulting our own convenience in the end is, to consult the feelings
of the spectator in the beginning.[45] Now, the first grand rule for the
choice of situation is, never to build a villa where the ground is not
richly productive. It is not enough that it should be capable of
producing a crop of scanty oats or turnips in a fine season; it must be
rich and luxuriant, and glowing with vegetative power of one kind or
another.[46] For the very chiefest[47] part of the character of the
edifice of pleasure is, and must be, its perfect ease, its appearance of
felicitous repose. This it can never have where the nature and
expression of the land near it reminds us of the necessity of labor, and
where the earth is niggardly of all that constitutes its beauty and our
pleasure; this it can only have where the presence of man seems the
natural consequence of an ample provision for his enjoyment, not the
continuous struggle of suffering existence with a rude heaven and rugged
soil. There is nobility in such a struggle, but not when it is
maintained by the inhabitant of the villa, in whom it is unnatural, and
therefore injurious in its effect. The narrow cottage on the desolate
moor, or the stalwart hospice on the crest of the Alps, each leaves an
ennobling impression of energy and endurance; but the possessor of the
villa should call, not upon our admiration, but upon our sympathy; and
his function is to deepen the impression of the beauty and the fullness
of creation, not to exhibit the majesty of man; to show, in the
intercourse of earth and her children, not how her severity may be
mocked by their heroism, but how her bounty may be honored in their
enjoyment.

[Footnote 45: For instance, one proprietor terrifies the landscape all
round him, within a range of three miles, by the conspicuous position of
his habitation; and is punished by finding that, from whatever quarter
the wind may blow, it sends in some of his plate-glass. Another spoils a
pretty bit of crag by building below it, and has two or three tons of
stone dropped through his roof, the first frosty night. Another occupies
the turfy slope of some soft lake promontory, and has his cook washed
away by the first flood. We do not remember ever having seen a
dwelling-house destroying the effect of a landscape, of which,
considered merely as a habitation, we should wish to be the possessor.]

[Footnote 46: We are not thinking of the effect upon the human frame of
the air which is favorable to vegetation. Chemically considered, the
bracing breeze of the more sterile soil is the most conducive to health,
and is practically so, when the frame is not perpetually exposed to it;
but the keenness which checks the growth of the plant is, in all
probability, trying, to say the least, to the constitution of a
resident.]

[Footnote 47: We hope the English language may long retain this corrupt
but energetic superlative.]

219. This position, being once granted, will save us a great deal of
trouble; for it will put out of our way, as totally unfit for villa
residence, nine-tenths of all mountain scenery; beginning with such
bleak and stormy bits of hillside as that which was metamorphosed into
something like a forest by the author of "Waverley;" laying an equal
veto on all the severe landscapes of such districts of minor mountains
as the Scotch Highlands and North Wales; and finishing by setting aside
all the higher sublimity of Alp and Apennine. What, then, has it left
us? The gentle slope of the lake shore, and the spreading parts of the
quiet valley in almost all scenery; and the shores of the Cumberland
lakes in our own, distinguished as they are by a richness of soil,
which, though generally manifested only in an exquisite softness of
pasture and roundness of undulation, is sufficiently evident to place
them out of the sweeping range of this veto.

220. Now, as we have only to do with Britain at present, we shall direct
particular attention to the Cumberland lakes, as they are the only
mountain district which, taken generally, is adapted for the villa
residence, and as every piece of scenery, which in other districts is so
adapted, resembles them in character and tone.

We noticed, in speaking of the Westmoreland cottage, the feeling of
humility with which we are impressed during a mountain ramble. Now, it
is nearly impossible for a villa of large size, however placed, not to
disturb and interrupt this necessary and beautiful impression,
particularly where the scenery is on a very small scale. This
disadvantage may be obviated in some degree, as we shall see, by
simplicity of architecture; but another, dependent on a question of
proportion, is inevitable.

221. When an object, in which magnitude is a desirable attribute, leaves
an impression, on a practiced eye, of less magnitude than it really
possesses, we should place objects beside it, of whose magnitude we can
satisfy ourselves, of larger size than that which we are accustomed to;
for, by finding these large objects in precisely the proportion to the
grand object, to which we _are_ accustomed, while we know their actual
size to be one to which we are _not_ accustomed, we become aware of the
true magnitude of the principal feature. But where the object leaves a
true impression of its size on the practiced eye, we shall do harm by
rendering minor objects either larger or smaller than they usually are.
Where the object leaves an impression of greater magnitude than it
really possesses, we must render the minor objects smaller than they
usually are, to prevent our being undeceived.

222. Now, a mountain of 15,000 feet high always looks lower than it
really is; therefore the larger the buildings near it are rendered, the
better. Thus, in speaking of the Swiss cottage, it was observed that a
building of the size of St. Peter's in its place, would exhibit the size
of the mountains more truly and strikingly. A mountain 7000 feet high
strikes its impression with great truth; we are deceived on neither
side; therefore the building near it should be of the average size; and
thus the villas of the Lago di Como, being among hills from 6000 to 8000
feet high, are well proportioned, being neither colossal nor diminutive:
but a mountain 3000 feet high always looks higher than it really
is;[48] therefore the buildings near it should be smaller than the
average. And this is what is meant by the proportion of objects; namely,
rendering them of such relative size as shall produce the greatest
possible impression of those attributes which are most desirable in
both. It is not the true, but the desirable impression which is to be
conveyed; and it must not be in one, but in both: the building must not
be overwhelmed by the mass of the mountain, nor the precipice mocked by
the elevation of the cottage. (Proportion of color is a question of
quite a different nature, dependent merely on admixture and
combination).

[Footnote 48: This position, as well as the two preceding, is important,
and in need of confirmation. It has often been observed, that, when the
eye is altogether unpracticed in estimating elevation, it believes every
point to be lower than it really is; but this does not militate against
the proposition, for it is also well known, that the higher the point,
the greater the deception. But when the eye is thoroughly practiced in
mountain measurement, although the judgment, arguing from technical
knowledge, gives a true result, the impression on the feelings is always
at variance with it, except in hills of the middle height. We are
perpetually astonished, in our own country, by the sublime impression
left by such hills as Skiddaw, or Cader Idris, or Ben Venue; perpetually
vexed, in Switzerland, by finding that, setting aside circumstances of
form and color, the abstract impression of elevation is (except in some
moments of peculiar effect, worth a king's ransom) inferior to the
truth. We were standing the other day on the slope of the Brevent, above
the Prieure of Chamouni, with a companion, well practiced in climbing
Highland hills, but a stranger among the Alps. Pointing out a rock above
the Glacier des Bossons, we requested an opinion of its height. "I
should think," was the reply, "I could climb it in two steps; but I am
too well used to hills to be taken in in that way; it is at least 40
feet." The real height was 470 feet. This deception is attributable to
several causes (independently of the clearness of the medium through
which the object is seen), which it would be out of place to discuss
here, but the chief of which is the natural tendency of the feelings
always to believe objects subtending the same angle to be of the same
height. We say the feelings, not the eye; for the practiced eye never
betrays its possessor, though the due and corresponding mental
impression is not received.]

223. For these reasons, buildings of a very large size are decidedly
destructive of effect among the English lakes: first, because apparent
altitudes are much diminished by them; and, secondly, because, whatever
position they may be placed in, instead of combining with scenery, they
occupy and overwhelm it; for all scenery is divided into pieces, each of
which has a near bit of beauty, a promontory of lichened crag, or a
smooth swarded knoll, or something of the kind, to begin with. Wherever
the large villa comes, it takes up one of these beginnings of landscape
altogether; and the parts of crag or wood, which ought to combine with
it, become subservient to it, and lost in its general effect; that is,
ordinarily, in a general effect of ugliness. This should never be the
case: however intrinsically beautiful the edifice may be, it should
assist, but not supersede; join, but not eclipse; appear, but not
intrude.

224. The general rule by which we are to determine the size is, to
select the largest mass which will not overwhelm any object of fine
form, within two hundred yards of it; and if it does not do this, we may
be quite sure it is not too large for the distant features: for it is
one of Nature's most beautiful adaptations, that she is never out of
proportion with herself; that is, the minor details of scenery of the
first class bear exactly the proportion to the same species of detail in
scenery of the second class, that the large features of the first bear
to the large features of the second. Every mineralogist knows that the
quartz of the St. Gothard is as much larger in its crystal than the
quartz of Snowdon, as the peak of the one mountain overtops the peak of
the other; and that the crystals of the Andes are larger than
either.[49] Every artist knows that the bowlders of an Alpine
foreground, and the leaps of an Alpine stream, are as much larger than
the bowlders, and as much bolder than the leaps, of a Cumberland
foreground and torrent, as the Jungfrau is higher than Skiddaw.
Therefore, if we take care of the near effect in any country, we need
never be afraid of the distant.

[Footnote 49: This is rather a bold assertion; and we should be sorry to
maintain the fact as universal; but the crystals of _almost_ all the
rarer minerals are larger in the larger mountain; and that altogether
independently of the period of elevation, which, in the case of Mont
Blanc, is later than that of our own Mendips.]

225. For these reasons, the cottage villa, rather than the mansion, is
to be preferred among our hills: it has been preferred in many
instances, and in too many, with an unfortunate result; for the cottage
villa is precisely that which affords the greatest scope for practical
absurdity. Symmetry, proportion, and some degree of simplicity, are
usually kept in view in the large building; but, in the smaller, the
architect considers himself licensed to try all sorts of experiments,
and jumbles together pieces of imitation, taken at random from his
note-book, as carelessly as a bad chemist mixing elements, from which he
may by accident obtain something new, though the chances are ten to one
that he obtains something useless. The chemist, however, is more
innocent than the architect; for the one throws his trash out of the
window, if the compound fail; while the other always thinks his conceit
too good to be lost. The great one cause of all the errors in this
branch of architecture is, the principle of imitation, at once the most
baneful and the most unintellectual, yet perhaps the most natural, that
the human mind can encourage or act upon.[50] Let it once be thoroughly
rooted out, and the cottage villa will become a beautiful and
interesting element of our landscape.

[Footnote 50: In Sec. 166 we noticed the kind of error most common in
amateur designs, and we traced that error to its great first cause, the
assumption of the humor, instead of the true character, for a guide; but
we did not sufficiently specify the mode in which that first cause
operated, by prompting to imitation. By imitation we do not mean
accurate copying, neither do we mean working under the influence of the
feelings by which we may suppose the originators of a given model to
have been actuated; but we mean the intermediate step of endeavoring to
combine old materials in a novel manner. True copying may be disdained
by architects, but it should not be disdained by nations; for when the
feelings of the time in which certain styles had their origin have
passed away, any examples of the same style will invariably be failures,
unless they be copies. It is utter absurdity to talk of building Greek
edifices now; no man ever will, or ever can, who does not believe in the
Greek mythology; and, precisely by so much as he diverges from the
technicality of strict copyism, he will err. But we ought to have pieces
of Greek architecture, as we have reprints of the most valuable records,
and it is better to build a new Parthenon than to set up the old one.
Let the dust and the desolation of the Acropolis be undisturbed forever;
let them be left to be the school of our moral feelings, not of our
mechanical perceptions; the line and rule of the prying carpenter should
not come into the quiet and holy places of the earth. Elsewhere, we may
build marble models for the education of the national mind and eye; but
it is useless to think of adapting the architecture of the Greek to the
purposes of the Frank; it never has been done, and never will be. We
delight, indeed, in observing the rise of such a building as La
Madeleine: beautiful, because accurately copied; useful, as teaching the
eye of every passer-by. But we must not think of its purpose; it is
wholly unadapted for Christian worship; and were it as bad Greek as our
National Gallery, it would be equally unfit.

The mistake of our architects in general is, that they fancy they are
speaking good English by speaking bad Greek. We wish, therefore, that
copying were more in vogue than it is. But imitation, the endeavor to be
Gothic, or Tyrolese, or Venetian, without the slightest grain of Gothic
or Venetian feeling; the futile effort to splash a building into age, or
daub it into dignity, to zigzag it into sanctity, or slit it into
ferocity, when its shell is neither ancient nor dignified, and its
spirit neither priestly nor baronial,--this is the degrading vice of the
age; fostered, as if man's reason were but a step between the brains of
a kitten and a monkey, in the mixed love of despicable excitement and
miserable mimicry.

If the English have no imagination, they should not scorn to be
commonplace; or rather they should remember that poverty cannot be
disguised by beggarly borrowing, that it may be ennobled by calm
independence. Our national architecture never will improve until our
population are generally convinced that in this art, as in all others,
they cannot seem what they cannot be. The scarlet coat or the
turned-down collar, which the obsequious portrait-painter puts on the
shoulders and off the necks of his savage or insane customers, never can
make the 'prentice look military, or the idiot poetical; and the
architectural appurtenances of Norman embrasure or Veronaic balcony must
be equally ineffective, until they can turn shopkeepers into barons, and
schoolgirls into Juliets. Let the national mind be elevated in its
character, and it will naturally become pure in its conceptions; let it
be simple in its desires, and it will be beautiful in its ideas; let it
be modest in feeling, and it will not be insolent in stone. For
architect and for employer, there can be but one rule; to be natural in
all that they do, and to look for the beauty of the material creation as
they would for that of the human form, not in the chanceful and changing
disposition of artificial decoration, but in the manifestation of the
pure and animating spirit which keeps it from the coldness of the grave.
[With this remarkable foreshadowing of Mr. Ruskin's Art-teaching compare
_Seven Lamps_ and _Lectures on Architecture and Painting_,
throughout.]]

226. So much for size. The question of position need not detain us long,
as the principles advanced in Sec. 104 are true generally, with one
exception. Beautiful and calm the situation must always be, but--in
England--not conspicuous. In Italy, the dwelling of the descendants of
those whose former life has bestowed on every scene the greater part of
the majesty which it possesses, ought to have a dignity inherent in it,
which would be shamed by shrinking back from the sight of men, and
majesty enough to prevent such non-retirement from becoming intrusive;
but the spirit of the English landscape is simple, and pastoral and
mild, devoid, also, of high associations (for in the Highlands and Wales
almost every spot which has the pride of memory is unfit for villa
residence); and, therefore, all conspicuous appearance of its more
wealthy inhabitants becomes ostentation, not dignity; impudence, not
condescension. Their dwellings ought to be just evident, and no more, as
forming part of the gentle animation and present prosperity which is the
beauty of cultivated ground. And this partial concealment may be
effected without any sacrifice of the prospect which the proprietor will
insist upon commanding from his windows, and with great accession to his
permanent enjoyment.

227. For, first, the only prospect which is really desirable or
delightful, is that from the window of the breakfast-room. This is
rather a bold position, but it will appear evident on a little
consideration. It is pleasant enough to have a pretty little bit visible
from the bedrooms; but, after all, it only makes gentlemen cut
themselves in shaving, and ladies never think of anything beneath the
sun when they are dressing. Then, in the dining-room, windows are
absolutely useless, because dinner is always uncomfortable by daylight,
and the weight of furniture effect which adapts the room for the
gastronomic rites, renders it detestable as a sitting-room. In the
library, people should have something else to do, than looking out of
the windows; in the drawing-room, the uncomfortable stillness of the
quarter of an hour before dinner, may, indeed, be alleviated by having
something to converse about at the windows: but it is very shameful to
spoil a prospect of any kind, by looking at it when we are not ourselves
in a state of corporal comfort and mental good-humor, which nobody can
be after the labor of the day, and before he has been fed. But the
breakfast-room, where we meet the first light of the dewy day, the first
breath of the morning air, the first glance of gentle eyes; to which we
descend in the very spring and elasticity of mental renovation and
bodily energy, in the gathering up of our spirit for the new day, in
the flush of our awakening from the darkness and the mystery of faint
and inactive dreaming, in the resurrection from our daily grave, in the
first tremulous sensation of the beauty of our being, in the most
glorious perception of the lightning of our life; there, indeed, our
expatiation of spirit, when it meets the pulse of outward sound and joy,
the voice of bird and breeze and billow, _does_ demand some power of
liberty, some space for its going forth into the morning, some freedom
of intercourse with the lovely and limitless energy of creature and
creation.

228. The breakfast-room must have a prospect, and an extensive one; the
hot roll and hyson are indiscussable except under such sweet
circumstances. But he must be an awkward architect who cannot afford an
opening to one window without throwing the whole mass of the building
open to public view; particularly as, in the second place, the essence
of a good window view is the breaking out of the distant features in
little well-composed _morceaux_, not the general glare of a mass of one
tone. Have we a line of lake? the silver water must glance out here and
there among the trunks of near trees, just enough to show where it
flows; then break into an open swell of water, just where it is widest,
or where the shore is prettiest. Have we mountains? their peaks must
appear over foliage or through it, the highest and boldest catching the
eye conspicuously, yet not seen from base to summit, as if we wanted to
measure them. Such a prospect as this is always compatible with as much
concealment as we choose. In all these pieces of management, the
architect's chief enemy is the vanity of his employer, who will always
want to see more than he ought to see, and than he will have pleasure in
seeing, without reflecting how the spectators pay for his peeping.

229. So much, then, for position. We have now only to settle the
questions of form and color, and we shall then have closed the most
tiresome investigation which we shall be called upon to enter into;
inasmuch as the principles which we may arrive at in considering the
architecture of defense,[51] though we hope they may be useful in the
abstract, will demand no application to native landscape, in which,
happily, no defense is now required; and those relating to sacred
edifices will, we also hope, be susceptible of more interest than can
possibly be excited by the most degraded branch of the whole art of
architecture, one hardly worthy of being included under the name--that,
namely, with which we have lately been occupied, whose ostensible object
is the mere provision of shelter and comfort for the despicable shell
within whose darkness and corruption that purity of perception to which
all high art is addressed is, during its immaturity, confined.

[Footnote 51: [Referring again to the intended sequel.]]

230. There are two modes in which any mental or material effect may be
increased--by contrast, or by assimilation. Supposing that we have a
certain number of features or existences under a given influence; then,
by subjecting another feature to the same influence, we increase the
universality, and therefore the effect, of that influence; but by
introducing another feature, _not_ under the same influence, we render
the subjection of the other features more palpable, and therefore more
effective. For example, let the influence be one of shade, to which a
certain number of objects are subjected. We add another feature,
subjected to the same influence, and we increase the _general
impression_ of shade; we add the same feature, _not_ subjected to this
influence, and we have deepened the _effect_ of shade.

Now, the principles by which we are to be guided in the selection of one
or other of these means are of great importance, and must be developed
before we can conclude the investigation of villa architecture.

231. The impression produced by a given effect or influence depends upon
its degree and its duration. Degree always means the proportionate
energy exerted. Duration is either into time, or into space, or into
both. The duration of color is in space alone, forming what is commonly
called extent. The duration of sound is in space and time; the space
being in the size of the waves of air, which give depth to the tone. The
duration of mental emotion is in time alone. Now in all influences, as
is the degree, so is the impression; as is the duration, so is the
effect of the impression; that is, its permanent operation upon the
feelings, or the violence with which it takes possession of our own
faculties and senses, as opposed to the abstract impression of its
existence, without such operation on our own essence.

For example, the natural tendency of darkness or shade is to induce fear
or melancholy. Now, as the degree of the shade, so is the abstract
impression of the existence of shade; but as the duration of shade, so
is the fear or melancholy excited by it.

Consequently, when we wish to increase the abstract impression of the
power of any influence over objects with which we have no connection, we
must increase degree; but, when we wish the impression to produce a
permanent effect upon ourselves, we must increase duration.

Now, degree is always increased by contrast, and duration by
assimilation. A few instances of this will be sufficient.

232. Blue is called a cold color, because it induces a feeling of
coolness to the eye, and is much used by nature in her cold effects.

Supposing that we have painted a storm scene, in desolate country, with
a single miserable cottage somewhere in front; that we have made the
atmosphere and the distance cold and blue, and wish to heighten the
comfortless impression.

There is an old rag hanging out of the window: shall it be red or blue?
If it be red, the piece of warm color will contrast strongly with the
atmosphere; will render its blueness and chilliness immensely more
apparent; will increase the _degree_ of both, and, therefore, the
abstract impression of the existence of cold. But, if it be blue, it
will bring the iciness of the distance up into the foreground; will fill
the whole visible space with comfortless cold; will take away every
relief from the desolation; will increase the _duration_ of the
influence, and, consequently, will extend its operation into the mind
and feelings of the spectator, who will shiver as he looks.

Now, if we are making a _picture_, we shall not hesitate a moment: in
goes the red; for the artist, while he wishes to render the actual
impression of the presence of cold in the landscape as strong as
possible, does not wish that chilliness to pass over into, or affect,
the spectator, but endeavors to make the combination of color as
delightful to his eye and feelings as possible.[52] But, if we are
painting a _scene_ for theatrical representation, where deception is
aimed at, we shall be as decided in our proceeding on the opposite
principle: in goes the blue; for we wish the idea of cold to pass over
into the spectator, and make him so uncomfortable as to permit his fancy
to place him distinctly in the place we desire, in the actual scene.

[Footnote 52: This difference of principle is one leading distinction
between the artist, properly so called, and the scene, diorama, or
panorama painter.]

233. Again, Shakspeare has been blamed by some few critical asses for
the raillery of Mercutio, and the humor of the nurse, in "Romeo and
Juliet;" for the fool in "Lear;" for the porter in "Macbeth;" the
grave-diggers in "Hamlet," etc.; because, it is said, these bits
interrupt the tragic feeling. No such thing; they enhance it to an
incalculable extent; they deepen its _degree_, though they diminish its
duration. And what is the result? that the impression of the agony of
the individuals brought before us is far stronger than it could
otherwise have been, and our sympathies are more forcibly awakened;
while, had the contrast been wanting, the impression of pain would have
come over into ourselves, our selfish feeling, instead of our sympathy,
would have been awakened; the conception of the grief of others
diminished; and the tragedy would have made us very uncomfortable, but
never have melted us to tears or excited us to indignation. When he,
whose merry and satirical laugh rung in our ears the moment before,
faints before us, with "a plague o' both your houses, they have made
worms' meat of me," the acuteness of our feeling is excessive: but, had
we not heard the laugh before, there would have been a dull weight of
melancholy impression, which would have been painful, not affecting.

234. Hence, we see the grand importance of the choice of our means of
enhancing effect, and we derive the simple rule for that choice, namely,
that, when we wish to increase abstract impression, or to call upon the
sympathy of the spectator, we are to use contrast; but, when we wish to
extend the operation of the impression, or to awaken the selfish
feelings, we are to use assimilation.

This rule, however, becomes complicated, where the feature of contrast
is not altogether passive; that is, where we wish to give a conception
of any qualities inherent in that feature, as well as in what it
relieves; and, besides, it is not always easy to know whether it will be
best to increase the abstract idea, or its operation. In most cases,
energy, the degree of influence, is beauty; and, in many, the duration
of influence is monotony. In others, duration is sublimity, and energy
painful: in a few, energy and duration are attainable and delightful
together.

235. It is impossible to give rules for judgment in every case; but the
following points must always be observed:--First, when we use contrast,
it must be natural and likely to occur. Thus the contrast in tragedy is
the natural consequence of the character of human existence; it is what
we see and feel every day of our lives. When a contrast is unnatural, it
destroys the effect it should enhance.

Canning called on a French refugee in 1794. The conversation naturally
turned on the execution of the Queen, then a recent event. Overcome by
his feelings, the Parisian threw himself upon the ground, exclaiming, in
an agony of tears, "La bonne reine! la pauvre reine!" Presently he
sprang up, exclaiming, "Cependant, Monsieur, il faut vous faire voir mon
petit chien danser." This contrast, though natural in a Parisian, was
unnatural in the nature of things, and therefore injurious.

236. Secondly, when the general influence, instead of being external, is
an attribute or energy of the thing itself, so as to bestow on it a
permanent character, the contrast which is obtained by the absence of
that character is injurious, and becomes what is called an interruption
of the unity. Thus, the raw and colorless tone of the Swiss cottage,
noticed in Sec. 42, is an injurious contrast to the richness of the
landscape, which is an inherent and necessary energy in surrounding
objects. So, the character of Italian landscape is curvilinear;
therefore, the outline of the buildings entering into its composition
must be arranged on curvilinear principles, as investigated in Sec. 144.

237. Thirdly. But, if the pervading character can be obtained in the
single object by different means, the contrast will be delightful. Thus,
the elevation of character which the hill districts of Italy possess by
the magnificence of their forms, is transmitted to the villa by its
dignity of detail and simplicity of outline; and the rectangular
interruption to the curve of picturesque blue country, partaking of the
nature of that which it interrupts, is a contrast giving relief and
interest, while any Elizabethan acute angles, on the contrary, would
have been a contrast obtained by the absence of the pervading energy of
the universal curvilinear character, and therefore improper.

238. Fourthly, when the general energy, instead of pervading
simultaneously the multitude of objects, as with one spirit, is
independently possessed and manifested by every individual object, the
result is repetition, not unity; and contrast is not merely agreeable,
but necessary. Thus, a number of objects, forming the line of beauty, is
pervaded by one simple energy; but if that energy is separately
manifested in each, the result is painful monotony. Parallel right
lines, without grouping, are always liable to this objection; and,
therefore, a distant view of a flat country is never beautiful unless
its horizontals are lost in richness of vegetation, as in Lombardy, or
broken with masses of forest, or with distant hills. If none of these
interruptions take place, there is immediate monotony, and no
introduction can be more delightful than such a tower in the distance as
Strasburg, or, indeed, than any architectural combination of verticals.
Peterborough is a beautiful instance of such an adaptation. It is
always, then, to be remembered that repetition is not assimilation.

239. Fifthly, when any attribute is necessarily beautiful, that is,
beautiful in every place and circumstance, we need hardly say that the
contrast consisting in its absence is painful. It is only when beauty is
local or accidental that opposition may be employed.

Sixthly. The _edge_ of all contrasts, so to speak, should be as soft as
is consistent with decisive effect. We mean, that a gradual change is
better than instantaneous transfiguration; for, though always less
effective, it is more agreeable. But this must be left very much to the
judgment.

Seventhly. We must be very careful in ascertaining whether any given
contrast is obtained by freedom from external, or absence of internal,
energy, for it is often a difficult point to decide. Thus, the peace of
the Alpine valley might, at first, seem to be a contrast caused by the
want of the character of strength and sublimity manifested in the hills;
but it is really caused by the freedom from the general and external
influence of violence and desolation.

240. These, then, are principles applicable to all arts, without a
single exception, and of particular importance in painting and
architecture.[53] It will sometimes be found that one rule comes in the
way of another; in which case, the most important is, of course, to be
obeyed; but, in general, they will afford us an easy means of arriving
at certain results, when, before, our conjectures must have been vague
and unsatisfactory.

[Footnote 53: [For further discussion of which, see _Elements of
Drawing_, Letter III.]]

We may now proceed to determine the most proper _form_ for the mountain
villa of England.

241. We must first observe the prevailing lines of the near hills: if
they are vertical, there will most assuredly be monotony, for the
vertical lines of crag are never grouped, and accordingly, by our fourth
rule, the prevailing lines of our edifice must be horizontal. On the
Lake of Thun the tendency of the hills is vertical; this tendency is
repeated by the buildings,[54] and the composition becomes thoroughly
bad; but on the Lake of Como we have the same vertical tendency in the
hills, while the grand lines of the buildings are horizontal, and the
composition is good. But, if the prevailing lines of the near hills be
curved (and they will be either curved or vertical), we must not
interrupt their character, for the energy is then pervading, not
individual; and, therefore, our edifice must be rectangular.

[Footnote 54: [In their turrets and pinnacles, as shown by a poor
wood-cut in the magazine, not worth reproduction.]]

In both cases, therefore, the grand outline of the villa is the same;
but in one we have it set off by contrast, in the other by assimilation;
and we must work out in the architecture of each edifice the principle
on which we have begun. Commencing with that in which we are to work by
contrast: the vertical crags must be the result of violence, and the
influence of destruction, of distortion, of torture, to speak strongly,
must be evident in their every line. We free the building from this
influence, and give it repose, gracefulness, and ease; and we have a
contrast of feeling as well as of line, by which the desirable
attributes are rendered evident in both objects, while the _duration_ of
neither energy being allowed, there can be no disagreeable effect upon
the spectator, who will not shrink from the terror of the crags, nor
feel a want of excitement in the gentleness of the building.

242. Secondly, Solitude is powerful and evident in its effect on the
distant hills; therefore the effect of the villa should be joyous and
life-like (not flippant, however, but serene); and, by rendering it so,
we shall enhance the sublimity of the distance, as we showed in speaking
of the Westmoreland cottage; and, therefore, we may introduce a number
of windows with good effect, provided that they are kept in horizontal
lines, and do not disturb the repose which we have shown to be
necessary.

These three points of contrast will be quite enough: there is no other
external influence from which we can free the building, and the
pervading energy must be communicated to it, or it will not harmonize
with our feelings; therefore, before proceeding, we had better determine
how this contrast is to be carried out in detail.

243. Our lines are to be horizontal; then the roof must be as flat as
possible. We need not think of snow, because, however much we may slope
the roof, it will not slip off from the material, which, here, is the
only proper one; and the roof of the cottage is always very flat, which
it would not be if there were any inconvenience attending such a form.
But, for the sake of the second contrast, we are to have gracefulness
and ease, as well as horizontality. Then we must break the line of the
roof into different elevations, yet not making the difference great, or
we shall have visible verticals. And this must not be done at random.

[Illustration: Fig. 14. Leading lines of Villa-composition.]

244. Take a flat line of beauty, _a d_, fig. 14, for the length of the
edifice. Strike _a b_ horizontally from _a_, _c d_ from _d_; let fall
the verticals, make _c f_ equal _m n_, the maximum; and draw _h f_. The
curve should be so far continued as that _h f_ shall be to _c d_ as _c
d_ to _a b_. Then we are sure of a beautifully proportioned form. Much
variety may be introduced by using different curves; joining parabolas
with cycloids, etc.; but the use of curves is always the best mode of
obtaining good forms.[55]

[Footnote 55: [Compare _Modern Painters_, vol. IV. chap. xvii. Sec. 49, and
_Elements of Drawing_, Letter III.]]

Further ease may be obtained by added combinations. For instance, strike
another curve (_a q b_) through the flat line _a b_; bisect the maximum
_v p_, draw the horizontal _r s_, (observing to make the largest maximum
of this curve towards the smallest maximum of the great curve, to
restore the balance), join _r q_, _s b_, and we have another
modification of the same beautiful form. This may be done in either side
of the building, but not in both.

245. Then, if the flat roof be still found monotonous, it may be
interrupted by garret windows, which must not be gabled, but turned with
the curve _a b_, whatever that may be. This will give instant humility
to the building, and take away any vestiges of Italian character which
might hang about it, and which would be wholly out of place.

The windows may have tolerably broad architraves, but no cornices; an
ornament both haughty and classical in its effect, and, on both
accounts, improper here. They should be in level lines, but grouped at
unequal distances, or they will have a formal and artificial air,
unsuited to the irregularity and freedom around them. Some few of them
may be arched, however, with the curve _a b_, the mingling of the curve
and the square being very graceful. There should not be more than two
tiers and the garrets, or the building will be too high.

So much for the general outline of the villa, in which we are to work by
contrast. Let us pass over to that in which we are to work by
assimilation, before speaking of the material and color which should be
common to both.

246. The grand outline must be designed on exactly the same principles;
for the curvilinear proportions, which were opposition before, will now
be assimilation. Of course, we do not mean to say that every villa in a
hill country should have the form _a b c d_; we should be tired to death
if they had: but we bring forward that form as an example of the
agreeable result of the principles on which we should always work, but
whose result should be the same in no two cases. A modification of that
form, however, will frequently be found useful; for, under the
depression _h f_, we may have a hall of entrance and of exercise, which
is a requisite of extreme importance in hill districts, where it rains
three hours out of four all the year round; and under _c d_ we may have
the kitchen, servants' rooms, and coachhouse, leaving the large division
quiet and comfortable.

247. Then, as in the curved country there is no such distortion as that
before noticed, no such evidence of violent agency, we need not be so
careful about the appearance of perfect peace; we may be a little more
dignified and a little more classical. The windows may be symmetrically
arranged; and, if there be a blue and undulating distance, the upper
tier may even have cornices; narrower architraves are to be used; the
garrets may be taken from the roof, and their inmates may be
accommodated in the other side of the house; but we must take care, in
doing this, not to become Greek. The material, as we shall see
presently, will assist us in keeping unclassical; and not a vestige of
column or capital must appear in any part of the edifice. All should be
pure, but all should be English; and there should be here, as elsewhere,
much of the utilitarian about the whole, suited to the cultivated
country in which it is placed.

248. It will never do to be speculative or imaginative in our details,
on the supposition that the tendency of fine scenery is to make
everybody imaginative and enthusiastic. Enthusiasm has no business with
Turkey carpets or easy-chairs; and the very preparation of comfort for
the body, which the existence of the villa supposes, is inconsistent
with the supposition of any excitement of mind: and this is another
reason for keeping the domestic building in richly productive country.
Nature has set aside her sublime bits for us to feel and think in; she
has pointed out her productive bits for us to sleep and eat in; and, if
we sleep and eat amongst the sublimity, we are brutal; if we poetize
amongst the cultivation, we are absurd. There are the time and place for
each state of existence, and we should not jumble that which Nature has
separated. She has addressed herself, in one part, wholly to the mind;
there is nothing for us to eat but bilberries, nothing to rest upon but
rock, and we have no business to concoct picnics, and bring cheese, and
ale, and sandwiches, in baskets, to gratify our beastly natures, where
Nature never intended us to eat (if she had, we needn't have brought the
baskets). In the other part, she has provided for our necessities; and
we are very absurd, if we make ourselves fantastic, instead of
comfortable. Therefore, all that we ought to do in the hill villa is, to
adapt it for the habitation of a man of the highest faculties of
perception and feeling; but only for the habitation of his hours of
common sense, not of enthusiasm; it must be his dwelling as a man, not
as a spirit; as a thing liable to decay, not as an eternal energy; as a
perishable, not as an immortal.

249. Keeping, then, in view these distinctions of form between the two
villas, the remaining considerations relate equally to both. We have
several times alluded to the extreme richness and variety of hill
foreground, as an internal energy to which there must be no contrast.
Rawness of color is to be especially avoided, but so, also, is poverty
of effect. It will, therefore, add much to the beauty of the building,
if in any conspicuous and harsh angle, or shadowy molding, we introduce
a wreath of carved leafwork,--in stone, of course. This sounds startling
and expensive; but we are not thinking of expense: what ought to be, not
what can be afforded, is the question. Besides, when all expense in
shamming castles, building pinnacles, and all other fantasticisms has
been shown to be injurious, that which otherwise would have been wasted
in plaster battlements, to do harm, may surely be devoted to stone
leafage, to do good. Now, if there be too much, or too conspicuous,
ornament, it will destroy simplicity and humility, and everything which
we have been endeavoring to get; therefore, the architect must be
careful, and had better have immediate recourse to that natural beauty
with which he is now endeavoring to assimilate.

250. When Nature determines on decorating a piece of projecting rock,
she begins with the bold projecting surface, to which the eye is
naturally drawn by its form, and (observe how closely she works by the
principles which were before investigated) she finishes this with
lichens and mingled colors, to a degree of delicacy, which makes us feel
that we never can look close enough; but she puts in not a single mass
of form to attract the eye, more than the grand outline renders
necessary. But, where the rock joins the ground, where the shadow falls,
and the eye is not attracted, she puts in bold forms of ornament, large
leaves and grass, bunches of moss and heather, strong in their
projection, and deep in their color. Therefore, the architect must act
on precisely the same principle: his outward surfaces he may leave the
wind and weather to finish in their own way; but he cannot allow Nature
to put grass and weeds into the shadows; _ergo_, he must do it himself;
and, whenever the eye loses itself in shade, wherever there is a dark
and sharp corner, there, if he can, he should introduce a wreath of
flower-work. The carving will be preserved from the weather by this very
propriety of situation: it would have moldered away, had it been exposed
to the full drift of the rain, but will remain safe in the crevices
where it is required; and, also, it will not injure the general effect,
but will lie concealed until we approach, and then rise up, as it were,
out of the darkness, to its duty; bestowing on the dwellings that finish
of effect which is manifested around them, and gratifying the natural
requirements of the mind for the same richness in the execution of the
designs of men, which it has found on a near approach lavished so
abundantly, in a distant view subdued so beautifully into the large
effect of the designs of Nature.

251. Of the ornament itself, it is to be observed that it is not to be
what is properly called architectural _decoration_ (that which is
"decorous," becoming, or suitable to), namely, the combination of minor
forms, which repeat the lines, and partake of the essence of the grand
design, and carry out its meaning and life into its every member; but it
is to be true sculpture; the presenting of a pure ideality of form to
the eye, which may give perfect conception, without the assistance of
color: it is to be the stone image of vegetation, not botanically
accurate, indeed, but sufficiently near to permit us to be sure of the
intended flower or leaf. Not a single line of any other kind of ornament
should be admitted, and there should be more leafage than flower-work,
as it is the more easy in its flow and outline. Deep relief need not be
attempted, but the edges of the leafage should be clearly and delicately
defined. The cabbage, the vine, and the ivy are the best and most
beautiful leaves: oak is a little too stiff, otherwise good. Particular
attention ought to be paid to the ease of the stems and tendrils; such
care will always be repaid. And it is to be especially observed, that
the carving is not to be arranged in garlands or knots, or any other
formalities, as in Gothic work; but the stalks are to rise out of the
stone, as if they were rooted in it, and to fling themselves down where
they are wanted, disappearing again in light sprays, as if they were
still growing.

252. All this will require care in designing; but, as we have said
before, we can always do without decoration; but, if we have it, it
_must_ be well done. It is not of the slightest use to economize; every
farthing improperly saved does a shilling's worth of damage; and that is
getting a bargain the wrong way. When one branch or group balances
another, they _must_ be different in composition. The same group may be
introduced several times in different parts, but not when there is
correspondence, or the effect will be unnatural; and it can hardly be
too often repeated, that the _ornament_ must be kept out of the general
effect, must be invisible to all but the near observer, and, even to
him, must not become a necessary part of the design, but must be
sparingly and cautiously applied, so as to appear to have been thrown in
by chance here and there, as Nature would have thrown in a bunch of
herbage, affording adornment without concealment, and relief without
interruption.

253. So much for form. The question of color has already been discussed
at some length, in speaking of the cottage; but it is to be noticed,
that the villa, from the nature of its situation, gets the higher hills
back into a distance which is three or four times more blue than any
piece of scenery entering into combination with the cottage; so that
more warmth of color is allowable in the building, as well as greater
cheerfulness of effect. It should not look like stone, as the cottage
should, but should tell as a building on the mind as well as the eye.
White, therefore, is frequently allowable in small quantities,
particularly on the border of a large and softly shored lake, like
Windermere and the foot of Loch Lomond; but cream-color, and
putty-color, and the other varieties of plaster-color are inexcusable.
If more warmth is required by the situation than the sun will give on
white, the building should be darkened at once. A warm rich gray is
always beautiful in any place and under any circumstance; and, in fact,
unless the proprietor likes to be kept damp like a traveling codfish, by
trees about his house and close to it (which, if it be white, he must
have, to prevent glare), such a gray is the only color which will be
beautiful, or even innocent. The difficulty is to obtain it; and this
naturally leads to the question of material.

254. If the color is to be white, we can have no ornament, for the
shadows would make it far too conspicuous, and we should get only
tawdriness. The simple forms may be executed in anything that will stand
wet; and the roof, in all cases, should be of the coarse slate of the
country, as rudely put on as possible. They must be kept clear of moss
and conspicuous vegetation, or there will be an improper appearance of
decay; but the more lichenous the better, and the rougher the slate the
sooner it is colored. If the color is to be gray, we may use the gray
primitive limestone, which is not ragged on the edges, without preparing
the blocks too smoothly; or the more compact and pale-colored slate,
which is frequently done in Westmoreland; and execute the ornaments in
any very coarse dark marble. Greenstone is an excellent rock, and has a
fine surface, but it is unmanageable. The grayer granites may often be
used with good effect, as well as the coarse porphyries, when the gray
is to be particularly warm. An outward surface of a loose block may be
often turned to good account in turning an angle; as the colors which it
has contracted by its natural exposure will remain on it without
inducing damp. It is always to be remembered, that he who prefers
neatness to beauty, and who would have sharp angles and clean surfaces,
in preference to curved outlines and lichenous color, has no business to
live among hills.

255. Such, then, are the principal points to be kept in view in the
edifice itself. Of the mode of uniting it with the near features of
foliage and ground, it would be utterly useless to speak: it is a
question of infinite variety, and involving the whole theory of
composition, so that it would take up volumes to develop principles
sufficient to guide us to the result which the feeling of the practiced
eye would arrive at in a moment. The inequalities of the ground, the
character and color of those inequalities, the nature of the air, the
exposure, and the consequent fall of the light, the quantity and form of
near and distant foliage, all have their effect on the design, and
should have their influence on the designer, inducing, as they do, a
perfect change of circumstance in every locality. Only one general rule
can be given, and that we repeat. The house must _not_ be a noun
substantive, it must not stand by itself, it must be part and parcel of
a proportioned whole: it must not even be seen all at once; and he who
sees one end should feel that, from the given data, he can arrive at no
conclusion respecting the other, yet be impressed with a feeling of a
universal energy, pervading with its beauty of unanimity all life and
all inanimation, all forms of stillness or motion, all presence of
silence or of sound.

256. Thus, then, we have reviewed the most interesting examples of
existing villa architecture, and we have applied the principles derived
from those examples to the landscape of our own country. Throughout, we
have endeavored to direct attention to the spirit, rather than to the
letter, of all law, and to exhibit the beauty of that principle which is
embodied in the line with which we have headed this concluding paper; of
being satisfied with national and natural forms, and not endeavoring to
introduce the imaginations, or imitate the customs, of foreign nations,
or of former times. All imitation has its origin in vanity, and vanity
is the bane of architecture. And, as we take leave of them, we would,
once for all, remind our English sons of Sempronius "qui villas
attollunt marmore novas," _novas_ in the full sense of the word,--and
who are setting all English feeling and all natural principles at
defiance, that it is only the _bourgeois gentilhomme_ who will wear his
dressing-gown upside down, "parceque toutes les personnes de qualite
portent les fleurs en en-bas."

OXFORD, _October, 1838._





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