Puslapio vaizdai
[ocr errors]

The time is rapidly hastening on, when the whole voice of the community shall decree, in tones that will endure no denial, a separation from tyranny. The day of pro-slavery excitements and mobs in the North has wholly passed away. The only apprehension to be entertained is, that for a while longer the spirit of the unhappy words of Roger Sherman, who, in the Convention, thought that the North should yield, if the South insisted, will prevail in the public councils of the country; in other words, that men will sacrifice the Just and True, as heretofore, to the expedient of to-day. There are three positions, which, including, perhaps, all actual and immediate connection with oppression, ought to be taken and sacredly maintained by friends of freedom at the North, at all times, independently of the moral agitation of the subject, in a broader view: -1. The abolition of Slavery in the District of Columbia; or, if that be impossible, the removal of the seat of government to a freer region ; 2. The annihilation of the commerce in human flesh between the several States ; - 3. The better protection of the colored citizens of the Free States from the danger to which they are exposed of arrest and removal under sanction of a corrupt administration of an iniquitous provision ; and of imprisonment and sale when going for legal and proper purposes, on peaceable errands, to Southern ports.

The first two of these are surely within the literal construction of the powers of Congress, as enumerated in the Constitution. The third is founded upon the common rights of human nature, and is demanded by the constant recurrence of outrages for which the victims can have no remedy. It is to secure these, as well as to prevent the extension of the domain of Slavery, that we are to pledge ourselves. And the result, so surely as the cause of truth, justice, and love will prevail over the opposite ways of wrong, will not be for ever wanting to human efforts.

A few hot-headed champions cannot always retard the march of liberal principles. Such men do not now fitly represent the section which in a few years, themselves unchanged, they will grossly misrepresent. It is to be hoped that the non-slaveholders of the South will soon cease to be thus identified with the institution which degrades their labor, and debases their manhood. Homo homini aut Deus aut lupus, said Erasmus. If the slave have found one half the keen satire to be too sadly true, he may yet learn that the other has something of a reality in human experience! NO. VIII.


ART. VII. - The Seven Lamps of Architecture. By JOHN

RUSKIN, author of "Modern Painters." With Illustrations, drawn and etched by the author. New York: John Wiley. 1849. 12mo.

pp. VIII. and 186.

THESE “ Lamps” Mr. Ruskin explains to be the “laws of right,” in the peculiar aspects of them which belong to the first of the arts ” ; namely, Architecture. He entitles them as follows: Truth, Power, Beauty, Life, Memory, Obedience.

Here, already, is a confusion between the laws of Art and the laws that should govern the life of the artist, who is not only an artist, but also a moral being, and as such held to obedience to the “laws of right,” if he would deserve success, in this, or in any other vocation. Art, however, is indifferent to persons, and cares not whether her results be arrived at in prayer and sacrifice, or in rioting and wantonness ; by a Rubens or by a Buonarotti.

In this specimen we have a type of the whole book. It is filled with earnest, striking criticism, from a high, even relig. ious point of view, but not very comprehensive nor anywhere going to the root of the matter, and mingled throughout with nebulous theories, with whims, and sometimes even with cant, though of the kind that Carlyle calls “ sincere cant."

What Mr. Ruskin really has to say might come under a much narrower heading than his title-page; this, namely, the necessity of simplicity, truthfulness, and straightforwardness in Architecture.

And, indeed, in criticism of the architecture of the day this should be the prominent point, a definite aim, for this is the first requisite to success in any thing, and yet it is rarely to be found in our architecture.

To this all Mr. Ruskin's canons, except the fourth and sixth, may be reduced ; the necessity, before all things, of a definite aim. We extract some of his glowing sentences to this point:

“It is the misfortune of most of our modern buildings that we would fain have an universal excellence in them; and so part of the funds must go in painting, part in gilding, part in fitting up, part in painted windows, part in small steeples, part in ornaments here and there; and neither the windows, nor the steeple, nor the ornaments, are worth their materials. For there is a crust about the impressible part of men's minds, which must be pierced through before they can be touched to the quick; and though we may prick at it and scratch it in a thousand places, we might as well have let it alone if we do not come through somewhere with a deep thrust; and if we can give such a thrust anywhere, there is no need of another; it need not even be so wide as a church door,' so that it be enough. And mere weight will do this; it is a clumsy way of doing it, but an effectual one, too; and the apathy which cannot be pierced through by a small steeple, nor shone through by a small window, can be broken through in a moment by the mere weight of a great wall. Let, therefore, the architect who has not large resources, choose his point of attack first, and, if he choose size, let him abandon decoration; for, unless they are concentrated, and numerous enough to make their concentration conspicuous, all his ornaments together would not be worth one huge stone. And the choice must be a decided one, without compromise. It must be no question whether his capitals would not look better with a little carving — let him leave them huge as blocks; or whether his arches should not have richer architraves — let him throw them a foot higher, if he can : a yard more across the nave will be worth more to him than a tesselated pavement; and another fathom of outer wall, than an army of pinnacles."

“ After size and weight, the power of architecture may be said to depend on the quantity (whether measured in space or intenseness) of its shadow ; and it seems to me that the reality of its works, and the use and influence they have in the daily life of men (as opposed to those works of art with which we have nothing to do but in times of rest and pleasure) require of it that it should express a kind of human sympathy, by a measure of darkness as great as there is in human life; and that as the great poem and great fiction generally affect us most by the majesty of their masses of shade, and cannot take hold upon us if they affect a continuance of lyric sprightliness, but must be serious often and sometimes melancholy, else they do not express the truth of this wild world of ours; so there must be, in this magnificently human art of architecture, some equivalent expression for the trouble and wrath of life, for its sorrow and its mystery; and this it can only give by depth or diffusion of gloom, by the frown upon its front, and the shadow of its recess. So that Rembrandtism is a noble manner in architecture, though a false one in painting; and I do not believe that ever any building was truly great, unless it had mighty masses, vigorous and deep, of shadow mingled with its surface. And among the first habits that a young architect should learn, is that of thinking in shadow, not looking at a design in its miserable liny skeleton ; but conceiving it as it will be when the dawn lights it, and the dusk leaves it; when its stones will be hot, and its crannies cool; when the lizards they fade."

will bask on the one, and the birds build in the other. Let him design with the sense of cold and heat upon him ; let him cut out the shadows, as men dig wells in unwatered plains; and lead along the lights, as a founder does his hot metal ; let him keep the full command of both, and see that he knows how they fall, and where

" It matters not how clumsy, how common, the means are that get weight and shadow - sloping roof, jutting porch, projecting balcony, hollow niche, massy gargoyle, frowning parapet ; get but gloom and simplicity, and all good things will follow in their place and time.” “We are none of us so good architects as to be able to work habitually beneath our strength ; and yet there is not a building that I know of, lately raised, wherein it is not sufficiently evident that neither architect nor builder has done his best. It is the especial characteristic of modern work. All old work, nearly, has been hard work. It may be the hard work of children, of barbarians, of rustics ; but it is always their utmost.

Let us have done with this kind of work at once. • Do not let us boss our roofs with wretched, balf-worked, blunt-edged rosettes; do not let us flank our gates with rigid imitations of mediæval statuary. Such things are mere insults to common sense, and only unfit us for feeling the nobility of their prototypes. We have so much, suppose, to be spent in decoration ; let us go the Flaxman of his time, whoever he may be, and bid him carve for us a single statue, frieze, or capital, or as many as we can afford, compelling upon him the one condition, that they shall be the best he can do.... It may be that we do not desire ornament of so high an order : choose, then, a less developed style, also, if you will, rougher material ; the law which we are enforcing requires only that what we pretend to do and to give, shall both be the best of their kind; choose, therefore, the Norman batchet work, instead of the Flaxman frieze and statue, but let it be the best hatchet work; and if you cannot afford marble, use Caen stone, but from the best bed ; and if not stone, brick, but the best brick; preferring always what is good of a lower order of work and material, to what is bad of a higher.” " The first condition which just feeling requires in church furniture is, that it should be simple and unaffected, not fictitious nor tawdry. . . I recollect no instance of a want of sacred character, or of any marked and painful ugliness, in the simplest or most awkwardly built village church, where stone and wood were roughly and nakedly used, and the windows latticed with white glass. But the smoothly stuccoed walls, the flat roofs with ventilator ornaments, the barred windows with jaundiced borders and dead ground square panes, the gilded or bronzed wood, the painted iron, the wretched upholstery of curtains and cushions, and pew heads and altar railings, and Birmingham metal candlesticks, and above all, the green and yellow sickness of the false marble disguises all, observe ; falsehoods all- who are they who like these things ? who defend them ? who do them? I have never spoken to any one who did like them, though to many who thought them matters of no consequence."

The above may serve as sufficient specimens of the general views, but the reader of the “Modern Painters” will readily conceive (though the “ Lamps” are much less rich in such) how many admirable bits of special criticism, and how many pictures by the wayside, are scattered through the pages. As

this :

“ There is no subject of street ornament so wisely chosen as a fountain, where it is a fountain of use; for it is just there that perhaps the happiest pause takes place in the labor of the day, when the pitcher is rested on the edge of it, and the breath of the bearer is drawn deeply, and the hair swept from the forehead, and the uprightness of the form declined against the marble ledge, and the sound of the kind word or light laugh mixes with the trickle of the falling water, heard shriller and shriller as the pitcher fills.”

To select, further, some of the most directly practical of his views, we may mention that he attacks all machine-carving, imitation of a material different from that actually made use of, and in general all work pretending to be what it is not. reason assigned is that it is a violation of truth, in pretending to more labor or expense than has really been given to it.

These questions are wide ones, and, practically speaking, certainly his doctrine is on the safe side. "Abuses of this kind have reached a most glaring pitch; have got, indeed, to be almost equivalent to ornamental architecture. But the ground on which they are to be opposed, Mr. Ruskin does not make very clear. As to the mere moral question ; Art, as we have said, has nothing to do with Morals. As to the mere quantity of labor or expense, this also is a matter of indifference. Indeed, has he not himself taught us, (Modern Painters, Vol. I., ch. 2,) that, other things being equal, rapidity, slightness, and apparent inadequacy of the means to the effect, are preferable? The truth is, the value of a work of art consists in its being the expression of human feeling and thought; but in machine-work the execution is out of all proportion to the thought, hence the diminished value.

As to imitations, the ground of objection is that the material is not fit for the work; not merely apparently inadequate, (this it may not be,) but really so. If the inadequacy is only ap

« AnkstesnisTęsti »