Puslapio vaizdai

awaken it and draw it out, its feminine counterpart, a condition in which its own germs of thought and feeling are unfolded and given back enlarged.

How we are drawn by that which retreats and hides itself, or gives only glimpses and half views! Hence the value of trees as a vail to an ugly ornamental house, and the admirable setting they form to the picturesque, habitation I am contemplating. But the house the heart builds, whether it be cottage or villa, can stand the broad, open light without a screen of any kind. Its neutral gray or brown tints, its wide projections and deep shadows, its simple strong lines, its coarse open-air quality, its ample roof or roofs, blend it with the landscape wherever it stands. Such a house seems to retreat into itself, and invites the eye to follow. Its interior warmth and coziness penetrate the walls, and the eye gathers suggestions of them at every point.

But how rare to see a country house that suggests an inviting interior! The outside is generally so stark and bald and pronounced, that all other ends or suggestions are eclipsed, and the building seems to exist for its exterior alone. Any very light tint helps to give this effect, and destroys the sense of depth and retreat the eye covets.

Herein is one great objection to the Mansard roof in the country. Now the roof of a building allies it to the open air, and carries the suggestion of shelter as no other part does, and to belittle it, or conceal it, or in any way take from the honest and direct purport of it as the shield, the main matter after all, is not to be allowed. In the city we see only the fronts, the façades of the houses, and the flat and Mansard are in order. But in the country, the house is individualized, stands defined, and every vital and necessary part is to be boldly and strongly treated. The Mansard gives to the country house a smart, dapper appearance, and the effect of being perched up, and looking about for compliments; such houses seem to be ready to make the military salute as you pass them. Whereas the steep, high roof gives the house a settled, brooding, introverted look. It also furnishes a sort of foil to the rest of the building.

What constitutes the charm to the eye of the old-fashioned country barn but its immense roof-a slope of gray shingle exposed to the weather like the side of a hill, and by its amplitude suggesting a bounty that warms the heart? Many of the old farm-houses, too, were modeled on

the same generous scale, and at a distance little was visible but their great sloping roofs. They covered their inmates as a hen covereth her brood, and are touching pictures of the domestic spirit in its simpler forms.

What is a man's house but his nest, and why should it not be nest-like both outside and in-coarse, strong, negative in tone externally, and snug and well-feathered and modeled by the heart within? Why should he set it on a hill, when he can command a nook under the hill or on its side? Why should it look like an observatory, when it is a conservatory and dormitory?

The domestic spirit is quiet, informal, unceremonious, loves ease, privacy, low tones; loves the chimney corner, the old arm-chair, the undress garb, homely cares, children, simple pleasures, etc.; and why should it, when it seeks to house itself from the weather, aim at the formal, the showy, the architectural, the external, the superfluous? Let State edifices look stately, but the private dwelling should express privacy and coziness.

But every man's house is in some sort an effigy of himself. It is not the snails and shell-fish alone that excrete their tenements, but man as well. When you seriously build a house, you make public proclamation of your taste and manners, or your want of these. If the domestic instinct is strong in you, and if you have humility and simplicity, they will show very plainly in your dwelling; if you have the opposite of these, false pride or a petty ambition, or coldness and exclusiveness, they will show also. A man seldom builds better than he knows, when he assumes to know anything about it.

It cannot be said of us as a people that we are a domestic, home-abiding folk. We shift about from house to house with as little concern as do the woodchucks from hole to hole. Most of us prefer to get our houses ready made-builders' houses planned and shaped on general principles like readymade clothing, and warranted to be in the latest fashion. Indeed, it is a current saying with us, that "fools build houses and wise men live in them;" as if the wise man had no house in his character, but only a roof and four walls.

Our rural and suburban houses look smart, airy, wide-awake, but they also look thin, cold, flat, brazen, shoppy. You shall travel days and hardly see one that gives the impression of dignity, stability, coziness, or homeliness. They are, no doubt, in the main comfortable, but they have bad man

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try, build upon about the same principle that women dress. I never see one of their fancy, ornamental structures, but I am reminded of a fashionably dressed girl of the period, tucked, and ruffled, and padded, and flounced and panniered; not so bad in dry-goods and for an afternoon promenade, but preposterous in any more enduring form and for any more serious purpose. When will we get beyond this millinery style and build with as good taste as we dress ourselves? This gray and drab, these soft hats, these coarse Scotch and English cloths, this complete subordination of everything to ease and health-when will we carry the same wise economies into our house-building? For is not one's house only a larger kind of dress? No people ever before so much needed to

cultivate neutral tints, deep

shadows, broken surfaces,
flowing outlines, sheltered
exposures, partial views
in fact, general inconspic-
uousness in their domestic


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faces glare, lines are sharp, objects are near, distance is foreshortened, perspective is killed. The eye does not get the sense of depth and mellowness it does in more humid climes. There is no tone, no age, no universal presence, touching, subduing, harmonizing, as under Transatlantic skies. because we live amid such publicity shall we take especial pains to make ourselves seen? Because the climate glares shall our house glare also? Even the European soon succumbs and adopts our stark trimness and baldness. I knew an Englishman who painted his cottage white as if perforce, but revenged himself by a black door and a black fence.

As yet, our people have shown no sense of the picturesque. When they builded from necessity, this quality often attended them; but when they builded for good looks,

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and abundance of wood, of sawed timber, in this country, obviating the necessity of going to the earth for our material, and shaping our dwellings out of the shapeless but picturesque stone, has been an active cause in leading us astray. With wood, and the planing and scroll-sawing mill, comes this cheap and hollow ornamentation and ginger-bread work. With wood, also, comes

architecture, as do the people in this country. | the paint-pot, and the temptation to bright Our climate is perhaps the most merciless under the sun; it exposes everything. The atmosphere is telescopic. In fact, there is no atmosphere, but hard naked space. Sur

Then every man thinks the time may come when he will want to sell, so he must give his building a taking, ad captandum

look, whatever his own private taste may be.

More than that, we have had an immensity of space opposed to us. We have had more room than we could warm. We have had to pitch our efforts in a high key to make an impression. If the vast and vacant surrounding has not quenched and blighted in us the feeling of the snug, the cozy, the private, it has, at least, kept it in abeyance.

must be born of the design, and of bold and simple treatment. Do not so much seek to please the eye as not to displease it. Let one remember that his house is to stand in the open air, and not in a show-case; that it is to fraternize with rocks, stones, and trees, and rude nature. If it does not look at home where it stands, how are you going to feel at home in it? If it does not blend with its surroundings, if it does not nestle

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Man butters the bread of life from his own heart; but in this country the slice has been so large, and the unctuous hearts so few, that our bread is yet unbuttered. The mellowing quality strikes in or dries up, and it must be a long time yet before we, as a people, can radiate or effuse enough of ourselves to make our land or homes as redolent of human qualities as are our ancestral domains over seas,


After all our failure, I regard the problem of how to build a house that shall not, at least, offend the eye as a very simple one. For the most part, one has only to avoid doing what his neighbor has gone about with so much pains to do: avoid light colors, leave off the cornice, the stuck-on ornaments, build low and rambling, and, in general, adhere rigidly to the laws of construction, and let beauty take care of itself. The architect certainly cannot add this part; he cannot thrust beauty upon your house; it must come of itself; it VOL. XI.-22.

fondly and lovingly in the landscape, how are you going to nestle fondly in it? If it looks foreign and artificial, how can it be the abode of peace and contentment?

I think that, on examination, it will be found that the main secret of the picturesqueness of more simple structures, like fences, bridges, sheds, log huts, etc., is that the motive, the principle of construction, is so open and obvious. No doubt, much might be done to relieve the flatness of our pine-box houses by more frankness and boldness in this respect. If the eye could see more fully the necessities of the case, how the thing stood up and was held together, that it was not paste-board, that it did not need to be anchored against the wind, etc., it would be a relief. Hence the lively pleasure we feel in what are called "timberhouses," and in every architectural device by which the anatomy, the real frame-work of the structure, inside or out, is allowed to show, or made to serve as ornament. eye craves lines of strength, evidence of


weight and stability.. But in the wooden house, as usually treated, these lines are nearly all concealed, the ties and supports are carefully suppressed, and the eye must feed on the small, fine lines of the finish. When the mere outlines of the frame are indicated, so that the larger spaces appear as panels, it is a great help; or let any part of the internal economy show through, and the eye is interested, as the projection of the chimney-stack in brick or stone houses, or the separating of the upper from the main floor by a belt and slight projection, or by boldly projecting the chamber floorjoist, and letting one story overlap the other. Herein is the main reason of the picturesqueness of the stone house above all others. Every line is a line of strength and necessity. We see how the mass stands up; how it is bound and keyed and fortified. The construction is visible; the corners are locked by header and stretcher, and are towers of strength; the openings pierce the walls and reveal their cohesion; every stone is alive with purpose, and the whole affects one as a real triumph over nature-so much form and proportion wrested from her grasp. There is power in stone, and in a less measure in brick; but wood must be boldly handled not to look frail or flat. Then unhewn stone has the negative beauty which is so desirable.

I say, therefore, build of stone by all means, if you have a natural taste to gratify, and the rockier your structure looks the better. All things make friends with a stone house-the mosses and lichens, and vines and birds. It is kindred to the earth and the elements, and makes itself at home in any situation.

When I set out to look up a place in the country, I was chiefly intent on finding a few acres of good fruit land near a large stone-heap. While I was yet undecided about the land, the discovery of the stoneheap at a convenient distance, vast piles of square blocks of all sizes, wedged off the upright strata by the frost during uncounted ages, and all mottled and colored by the weather, made me hasten to close the bargain. The large country-seats in the neighborhood were mainly of brick or pine; only a few of the early settlers had availed themselves of this beautiful material that lay in such abundance handy to every man's backdoor, and in those cases the stones were nearly buried in white mortar, as if they were something to be ashamed of. Indeed, the besmeared, beplastered appearance of

most stone houses is by no means a part of their beauty. Mortar plays a subordinate part in a structure, and the less we see of it the better.

The proper way to treat the subject is this: As the work progresses, let the wall be got ready for pointing up, but never let the pointing be done, though your masons will be sorely grieved. Let the joints be made close, then scraped out, cut with the trowel, and while the mortar is yet green, sprinkled with sand. Instead, then, of a white band defining every stone, you have only sharp lines and seams here and there, which give the wall a rocky, natural appearance.


The point of union between the stones, according to my eye, should be a depression, a shadow, and not a raised joint. So that you have closeness and compactness, the face of your wall cannot be too broken or rough. When the rising or setting sun shines athwart it and brings out the shadows, how powerful and picturesque it looks! is not in cut or hewn stone to express such majesty. I like the sills and lintels of undressed stone also,-" wild stone," as the old backwoodsman called them, untamed by the hammer or chisel. If the lintels are wide enough, a sort of hood may be formed over the openings by projecting them a few inches.


Is there any pleasure like that of building a house to your taste? How I pity those people that buy their houses and never know the delight and the intoxication of building one!-just as I should pity a man who does his wooing and wedding by proxy. House-building is a kind of fever, or natural heat like love, and is quite sure to attack a man sooner or later-generally sooner than later. I have had two attacks, both serious, and both ran their course rapidly. One begins by toying with the subject, looking over the architect books, and considering the various plans. ently he begins to make sketches and combinations of his own, till he hits upon something that suits him, when he becomes fairly inoculated. The desire waxes till it becomes a kind of delicious rage that consumes obstacles like stubble. One understands the hurry and eagerness of the birds in building their nests. But the bird is its own architect. In like manner, if one can sufficiently master the subject to dispense with that functionary (though a competent architect should in all cases be had to look over and revise the plans before they are put into execution), the interest and pleasure are greatly increased.

The bird is its own builder, too. And have I not read that the main secret of the beauty and excellence of the ancient architecture was to be found in the fact that the architect was the master-workman, and not a mere theorist and draughtsman? So, if one will take hold earnestly with his own hands and make a positive contribution of genuine manual labor, the house will have a history and a meaning to him which it can have on no other terms.

It seems to me that I built into my house every one of those superb autumn days which I spent in the woods getting out stone. I did not quarry the limestone ledge into blocks any more than I quarried the delicious weather into memories to adorn my walls. Every load that was sent home carried my heart and happiness with it. The jewels I had uncovered in the débris, or torn from the ledge in the morning I saw in the jambs, or mounted high on the corners at night. Every day was filled with great events. The woods held, unknown treasures. Those elder giants, frost and rain, had wrought industriously; now we would unearth from the leaf mold an ugly customer, a stone with a ragged quartz face, or cavernous, and set with rock crystals like great teeth, or else suggesting a battered and worm-eaten skull of some old stone dog. These I needed a sprinkling of for their quaintness, and to make the wall a true compendium of the locality. Then we would unexpectedly strike upon several loads of beautiful blocks all in a nest; or we would assault the ledge in a new place with wedge and bar, and rattle down headers and stretchers that surpassed any before. I had to be constantly on the lookout for cornerstone, for mine is a house of seven corners, and on the strength and dignity of the corners the beauty of the wall largely depends. But when you bait your hook with your heart, the fish always bite. "The boss is as good as six men in the woods, getting out stone," flatteringly spoke up the mastermason. Certain it is that no such stone was found as when I headed the search. The men saw indifferently with their eyes; but I looked upon the ground with such desire that I saw what was beneath the moss and the leaves. With them it was hard labor at so much per diem, with me it was a passionate pursuit; the enthusiasm of the chase venting itself with the bar and the hammer, and the day was too short for me to tire of the sport.

in form and color. Sometimes it seemed as if we had struck upon the ruins of some ancient structure, the blocks were so regular and numerous. The ancient stone-cutters, however, had shaped them all to a particular pattern, which was a little off the square, but in bringing them back with the modern pitching-tool the rock face was had, which is the feature so desirable.

I confess I should not relish a house built of some stone I have seen-that cold blue stone, or that dark iron-looking stone, or that frosty, inert stone, full of minute glistening scales. Even granite would not suit me, it being too uniform in color, and too austere in expression. And as for marble, if it could be had for the gathering-how can any but dead men stand marble? I like a live stone, one upon which time makes an impression, which in the open air assumes a certain tone and mellowness. The stone in my locality surpasses any I have ever seen in this respect. A warm gray is the ruling tint, and a wall built of this stone is of the color of the bowl of the beech-tree, mottled, lively, and full of character.

In building in the country, I found one must go to the city for skilled labor, especially in stone, and avail himself of the imported article. American mechanics can seldom be depended upon further than the cellar wall, and unless you want cellar wall all the way to the eaves, you must employ men who have learned their trade. Then, our mechanics will strike the stone on the | face, and can be made to see no beauty but in a smooth surface. But a quick, intelligent Irishman, who has learned his trade in the Old World, is as witty in stone as in speech. He knows that every stone was destined for a particular place, and not to be put anywhere indifferently. What a satisfaction it was to find that what my own eye, familiar with natural forms and effects, preferred, was approved by the most skilled workman! We had been to widely different schools, but had both learned the same lesson. To bring harmony out of dissonance, to contrast and set off one stone with another, to mix up as in nature the little and the big, marks the skilled workman from the bungler. In building of stone, it is a question whether to use stone throughout, or to build the upper half or three-quarter story of wood, as is often done in France and England, and as is recommended in Mr. Gardner's recently The stone was exceptionally fine, both published work on "Homes and How to

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