Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

stance in support of it; indeed, all the facts and his own admissions prove, as far as they can prove it, that the change from Norman to Gothic architecture was progressive and indeterminate, which it would not have been had Wren's supposition been correct. But we do not wish to anticipate our own arguments, and therefore will merely adduce two or three passages in proof that we are not doing injustice to him by this assertion.

"The style then used was an adulteration, or a rude imitation of the genuine Grecian or Roman manner. This has been named the Saxon style, being the national architecture of our Saxon ancestors before the conquest; for the Normans only extended its proportion and enlarged its scale. Of this style many specimens remain: the transept of Winchester cathedral, built 1080, &c. &c. The most complete monuments of it I can at present recollect are, the church of St. Cross, near Winchester, built by Henry de Blois, 1130, &c. &c. [and in both of these, be it observed, the Gothic arch is to be found.] The style which succeeded to this, was not the absolute Gothic, or Gothic, simply so called; but a sort of Gothic-Saxon."

He then describes this Gothic-Saxon, and gives instances where it may be found; but adds :—

"Still we have not, in such edifices of the improved or SaxonGothic, the ramified window, one distinguishing characteristic of the absolute Gothic. It Is Difficult To Define These Gradations. The absolute Gothic, or that which is free from all Saxon mixture, began with ramified windows, of an enlarged dimension, divided into several lights, and branched out at the top into a multiplicity of whimsical shapes and compartments, after the year ] 300, &c. &c."

This is quite sufficient to justify what we have said; but to shew how readily Wharton could take a thing for granted, upon this subject, he observes, that " what the same celebrated artist immediately subjoins, [which, by the by, is not by the celebrated artist at all, but his son; the celebrated artist knowing better, as appears from his own works] that the use of glass introduced mullions into windows is vefy probable;" whereas the fact is notorious, that glass was in use four or five hundred years before. Again :—" spires were never used till the Saracen mode took place ;—the very notion of a spire was brought from the east, where pyramidical structures were common, and spiral ornaments were the fashionable decorations of their mosques." It would require some nerve, and an unusual daring, in a people not possessing the confiding strength and power of original minds, to magnify spiral ornaments and pyramidical forms into a spire like that at Salisbury, and to place it, as a crowning ornament, to a tower two hundred or more feet in height; and as to spires themselves, he had learned from the very author he quotes, that the Saracens used cupolas and not spires. But let any man of taste or feeling look at Salisbury, or any other Gothic cathedral, and tell us if a Bpire be not essential to the perfect character of the building. We know that a thousand circumstances may prevent the completion of works of such magnitude and cost; but a spire is a thing essentially wanting to the perfectness of the building; and if so, how is it that the Saracens, with whom it is said to have originated, never had them?

Bentham, the next and best of all the writers on the subject, can hardly be considered as discussing the question directly; but then he abounds in facts and circumstances, all of which are confirmative of the opinion we shall hereafter offer. And Grose endeavours to prove that no such style of architecture did then, or, to any extent, ever did, exist among the Saracens; and that what they have, was probaby introduced there during the Christian occupation of the Holy Land; for be it remembered, it is neither the pointed arch, nor the clustered column, nor any other single ornament, but the combination of all these, and a thousand other things, that constitutes Gothic architecture. "If Sir Christopher Wren's supposition be well founded," says Grose," it seems likely that many ancient buildings of this kind, or at least their remains, would be found in those countries from whence it is said to have been brought; parts of which have, at different times, been visited by several curious travellers, many of whom have made designs of what they thought most remarkable. Whether they overlooked or neglected these buildings, as being in search of those of more remote antiquity, or whether none existed, seems doubtful. Cornelius le Brun, an indefatigable and inquisitive traveller, has published many views of eastern buildings, particularly about the Holy Land; in all these only one Gothic ruin, the church near Acre, and a few pointed arches, occur; and those built by the Christians, when in possession of the country. Near Ispahan, in Persia, he gives several buildings with pointed arches [the pointed arch itself is probably the oldest to be met with: it is found in the ruins of the walls of Mitylene]; but these are bridges and caravanseras, whose age cannot be ascertained; consequently, are as likely to have been built after as before the introduction of this style into Europe.

"At Ispahan itself, the Mey Dven, or grand market place, is surrounded by divers magnificent gothic buildings, particularly the royal mosque, and the Talael Ali-kapie, or theatre. The magnificent bridge of Alla-werdie chan, over the river Zenducot, five hundred and forty paces long, and seventeen broad, having thirty-three pointed arches, is also a Gothic structure; but no mention is made when or by whom these were built. The Chiaer Baeg, a royal garden, is decorated with Gothic buildings; but these were, it is said, built only in the reign of Scha Abbas, who died anno 1629.

"One building, indeed, at first seems as if it would corroborate this assertion, and that the time when it was erected might be in some degree fixed; it is the tomb of Abdulla, one of the apostles of Mahomet, probably him surnamed Abu Beer. If this tomb is supposed to have been built soon after his death, estimating that event to have happened according to the common course of nature, it will place its erection about the middle of the seventh century; but this is by far too conjectural to be much depended on. It also seems as if this was not the common style of building at that time, from the temple of Mecca; where, if any credit is to be given to the prints of it in Sale's Koran, the arches are semi-circular. Its general appearance much resembles the east end of the chapel belonging to Ely House, London, except that which is filled up there by the great window in the tomb is an open pointed arch, where, also, the columns, or pinnacles, on each side, are higher in proportion.

"Some have supposed that this kind of architecture was brought into Spain by the Moors (who possessed themselves of a great part of that country in the beginning of the eighth century, which they held to the latter end of the fifteenth); and that from thence, by way of France, it was introduced into England. This, at first, seems plausible; though the only instance which seems to corroborate this hypothesis, or, at least, the only one proved by authentic drawings, is the mosque at Cordova, in Spam; where, according to the views published by Mr. Swinburne, although most of the arches are circular, or horse-shoe fashion, there are some pointed arches, formed by the intersection of two segments of a circle [and so there are in half the Saxon or Norman remains in this country; as an ornament, the walls were often covered with it]. This mosque was, as it is said, began by Abdoulrahman the First, who laid the foundation two years before his death, and was finished by his son Hissem or Iscan, about the year 800. If these arches were part of the original structure, it would be much in favour of the supposition; but as it is also said, that edifice has been more than once altered aud enlarged by the Mahometans, before any well-grounded conclusion can be drawn, it is necessary to ascertain the date, of the present building.

"There are also several pointed arches in the Moorish palace at Grenada, called the Alambra; but as that was no) built till the year 1273, long after the introduction of pointed arches into Europe, they are as likely to be borrowed by the Moors from the Christians, as by the Christians from the Moors.

"In the drawings of the Moorish buildings, given in La Delices de rEspa%ne, said to be faithful representations, there are no traces of the style called Gothic architecture; there, as well as in the Moorish castle at Gibraltar, the arches are all represented circular."

In confirmation of what Grose has observed, we may here remark, that in a hasty examination of the plates in Clarke and Richardson, we find nothing to shake our confidence in his opinion. There is, indeed, in a small vignette prefixed to one of the chapters of the former, an engraving of the grotto at Nazareth, which is of Gothic architecture; but on reference to the age of the building, he observes, "the church and convent of Nazareth, in their present state, exhibit a superstructure of very recent date; having been repaired, or entirely rebuilt, in no very distant period." There is also one other, "the Holy Sepulchre, as it existed before its reparation in 1555." Whence this plate is taken is not noticed; but Sandys, who visited the Holy Sepulchre above 200 years ago, takes no notice of any late reparation; on the contrary, speaks of it as the work of Queen Helena, and thus descnbes it:— "The hinder part beiug more eminent than the other, is surrounded with ten small pillars adjoining to the wall, and sustaining the cornice. On the top (which is flat) and in the midst thereof, a little cupola, covered with lead, is erected upon six double but ••mull Corinthian columns of polished porphyry."

Since the publication of Grose's Works, the subject has been more attentively considered; but the information is too widely scattered to be collected here. The most distinguished among the writers is Doctor Milner; who contends not only that it was not introduced here from the Saracens, but that the Gothic arch arose from the perforation of the intersecting round arch; that this led to a long and narrow form of window and arch, and progressively to the cluster columns, &c. &c.; and he agrees with the late John Carter not only in thinking it original, but English.

Against this latter opinion foreigners are, of course, inclined to contend. A work has just fallen into our hands written by Doctor Moller, first architect to the Grand Duke of Hesse, in which he enters his protest against it. The work is ably and elegantly written; and we nave great pleasure in noticing it, inasmuch as it is a proof that inquiry is stirring on the Continent; that a reverence for the remains of forgone ages is awaking there; and an earnest that others will labour, more zealously than heretofore they have done, in conjunction with Englishmen, to preserve, as far as possible, those traces of the mind and power of the middle ages, which, notwithstanding all our endeavours, can now reach to few succeeding generations. For itself, however, it is less valuable. The minds of Englishmen have been so long directed to this subject, so many valuable works have been published in illustration of it, and so many able men have written on it, that English works must long be the source whence foreigners will derive their information; and, with the exception of one or two crude and extraordinary speculations, is the well-head whence Doctor Moller himself has drank. The Doctor, however, comes to the subject with a fine dash of chivalry; and though his countrymen are among the last to enter the field as inquirers, he boldly puts in their claim for precedence as architects, and asks, as of right, that his countrymen shall have the honour conceded to them of founders of the order. This is a dispute we are not able to venture upon. The Germans have done so little to inform foreigners of their right and pretensions, either by writings or engravings, that we should have to combat a shadow. One particular, however, we must notice in this work. As the English Doctor deduces every thing from the arch, so the German Doctor finds the first germ in the high gable; and would establish the claims of his countrymen upon the height and priority of those at Strasburgh and Freiburgh over York Minster. This seems to us a little extravagant; but no matter,—we are glad of his work.

We now revert to the article in the Quarterly Review. "Sir Christopher Wren," says that writer, "sought for the origin of Gothic architecture in the east. This hypothesis has been strenuously combated by the English party: it has been ably supported by Lord Aberdeen; and amidst the difficulties which surround us, this best accords with the history of' Gothic architecture." This able support is to be found in a slight notice Krefixed to Mr. Whittington's work, edited by his lordship; Ir. Whittington himself only contending for the prior claims of France, although, if we remember correctly, his lordship intimates that he agreed with him in this opinion. Be it so. Why then, we ask, discuss the question of priority between France and England? If the crusades first brought Europe acquainted with this style, surely England was early and long enough in the field to have learnt as much of eastern architecture as other nations. But we mean to confine ourselves to the opinion "so ably supported" by Lord Aberdeen.

It will be held, we hope, as no proof of a want of reverential feeling for the genius.and ability of Sir Christopher Wren,

« ПредишнаНапред »