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of such objects, the sweetest and most beautiful scenes always succeed.
The Chinese study to give play to the imagination: they hide the termination of their lakes; and commonly interrupt the view of a cascade by trees, through which are seen obscurely the waters as they fall. The imagination once roused, is disposed to magnify every object.
Nothing is more studied in Chinese gardens than to raise wonder or surprise. In scenes calculated for that end, every thing appears like fairy-land; a torrent, for example, conveyed under ground, puzzles a stranger by its uncommon sound to guess what it may be; and to multiply such uncommon sounds, the rocks and buildings are contrived with cavities and interstices. Sometimes one is led insensibly into a dark cavern, terminating unexpectedly in a landscape enriched with all that nature affords the most delicious. At other times, beautiful walks insensibly conduct to a rough uncultivated field, where bushes, briers, and stones interrupt the passage: (ooking about for an outlet, some rich prospect unexpectedly opens to view. Another artifice is, to obscure some capital part by trees, or other interposed objects: our curiosity is raised to know what lies beyond; and after a few steps, we are greatly surprised with some scene totally different from what was expected.
These cursory observations upon gardening, shall be closed with some reflections that must touch every reader. Rough uncultivated ground, dismal to the eye, inspires peevishness and discontent. May not this be one cause of the harsh manners of savages? A field richly ornamented, containing beautiful objects of various kinds, displays in full lustre the goodness of the Deity, and the ample provision he has made for our happiness. Ought not the spectator to be filled with gratitude to his Maker, and with benevolence to his fellow-creatures? Other fine arts may be perverted to excite irregular, and even vicious, emotions: but gardening, which inspires the purest and most refined pleasures, cannot fail to promote every good affection. The gayety and harmony of mind it produces, inclining the spectator to communicate his satisfaction to others, and to make them happy as he is himself, tend naturally to establish in him a habit of humanity and benevolence.
It is not easy to suppress a degree of enthusiasm, when we reflect on the advantages of gardening with respect to virtuous education. In the beginning of life the deepest impressions are made; and it is a sad truth, that the young student, familiarized to the dirtiness and disorder of many colleges pent within narrow bounds in populous cities, is rendered in a measure insensible to the elegant beauties of art and nature. Is there no man of fortune sufficiently patriotic to think of reforming this evil? It seems to me far from an exaggeration, that good professors are not more essential to a college, than a
The manufactures of silk, flax, and cotton, in their present advance towards perfection, may be held as inferior branches of the fine arts; because their productions in dress and in furniture inspire, like them, gay and kindly emotions favorable to morality.
spacious garden sweetly ornamented, but without any thing glaring or fantastic, so as upon the whole to inspire our youth with a taste no less for simplicity than for elegance. In that respect, the university of Oxford may justly be deemed a model.
Having finished what occurred on gardening, I proceed to rules and observations that more peculiarly concern architecture. Architecture, being a useful as well as a fine art, leads us to distinguish buildings and parts of buildings into three kinds; namely, what are intended for utility solely, what for ornament solely, and what for both. Buildings intended for utility solely, such as detached offices, ought, in every part, to correspond precisely to that intention; the slightest deviation from the end in view will by every person of taste be thought a blemish. In general, it is the perfection of every work of art, that it fulfils the purpose for which it is intended; and every other beauty, in opposition, is improper. But in things intended for ornament, such as pillars, obelisks, triumphal arches, beauty alone ought to be regarded. A Heathen temple must be considered as merely ornamental; for being dedicated to some deity, and not intended for habitation, it is susceptible of any figure and any embellishment that fancy can suggest and beauty admit. The great difficulty of contrivance, respects buildings that are intended to be useful as well as ornamental. These ends, employing different and often opposite means, are seldom united in perfection; and the only practicable method in such buildings is, to favor ornament less or more according to the character of the building in palaces, and other edifices sufficiently extensive to admit a variety of useful contrivance, regularity justly takes the lead; but in dwelling-houses that are too small for variety of contrivance, utility ought to prevail, neglecting regularity as far as it stands in opposition to convenience.
Intrinsic and relative beauty being founded on different principles, must be handled separately. I begin with relative beauty, as it is of the greater importance.
The proportions of a door are determined by the use to which it is destined. The door of a dwelling-house, which ought to correspond to the human size, is confined to seven or eight feet in height, and three or four in breadth. The proportions proper for the door of a barn or coach-house, are widely different. Another consideration enters. To study intrinsic beauty in a coach-house or barn, intended merely for use, is obviously improper. But a dwellinghouse may admit ornaments; and the principal door of a palace demands all the grandeur that is consistent with the foregoing proportions dictated by utility: it ought to be elevated, and approached by steps; and it may be adorned with pillars supporting an architrave, or in any other beautiful manner. The door of a church ought to be wide, in order to afford an easy passage for a multitude: the width, at the same time, regulates the height, as will appear hereafter. The size of windows ought to be proportioned to that of
A building must be large to produce any sensible emotion of regularity, proportion, or beauty; which is an additional reason for minding convenience only in a dwelling-house of small size.
the room they illuminate; for if the apertures be not sufficiently large to convey light to every corner, the room is unequally lighted, which is a great deformity. The steps of a stair ought to be accommodated to the human figure, without regarding any other proportion they are accordingly the same in large and in small buildings, because both are inhabited by men of the same size.
I proceed to consider intrinsic beauty blended with that which is relative. Though a cube in itself is more agreeable than a parallelopipedon, yet a large parallelopipedon set on its smaller base, is by its elevation more agreeable; and hence the beauty of a Gothic tower. But supposing this figure to be destined for a dwellinghouse, to make way for relative beauty, we immediately perceive that utility ought chiefly to be regarded, and that the figure, inconvenient by its height, ought to be set upon its larger base: the loftiness is gone; but that loss is more than compensated by additional convenience; for which reason, a figure spread more upon the ground than raised in height, is always preferred for a dwellinghouse, without excepting even the most superb palace.
As to the divisions within, utility requires that the rooms be rectangular; for otherwise void spaces will be left, which are of no use. A hexagonal figure leaves no void spaces; but it determines the rooms to be all of one size, which is inconvenient. A room of a moderate size may be a square; but in very large rooms this figure must, for the most part, give place to a parallelogram, which can more easily be adjusted, than a square, to the smaller rooms contrived entirely for convenience. A parallelogram, at the same time, is the best calculated for receiving light; because, to avoid cross lights, all the windows ought to be in one wall; and the opposite wall must be so near as to be fully lighted, otherwise the room will be obscure. The height of a room exceeding nine or ten feet, has little or no relation to utility; and therefore proportion is the only rule for determining a greater height.
As all artists who love what is beautiful, are prone to entertain the eye, they have opportunity to exert their taste upon palaces and sumptuous buildings, where, as above observed, intrinsic beauty ought to have the ascendant over that which is relative. But such propensity is unhappy with respect to dwelling-houses of moderate. size; because in these, intrinsic beauty cannot be displayed in any perfection, without wounding relative beauty: a small house admits not much variety of form; and in such houses there is no instance of internal convenience being accurately adjusted to external regularity: I am apt to believe that it is beyond the reach of art. And yet architects never give over attempting to reconcile these two incompatibles. How otherwise should it happen, that of the endless variety of private dwelling-houses, there is scarcely an instance of any one being chosen for a pattern? The unwearied propensity to make a house regular as well as convenient, forces the architect, in some articles, to sacrifice convenience to regularity, and in others, regularity to convenience; and the house, which turns out neither regular nor convenient, never fails to displease: the faults are
obvious; and the difficulty of doing better is known to the artist only.*
Nothing can be more evident, than that the form of a dwellinghouse ought to be suited to the climate: and yet no error is more common, than to copy in Britain the form of Italian houses; not forgetting even those parts that are purposely contrived for air, and for excluding the sun. I shall give one or two instances. A colonnade along the front of a building, has a fine effect in Greece and Italy, by producing coolness and obscurity-agreeable properties in warm and luminous climates: but the cold climate of Britain is altogether averse to that ornament; and therefore a colonnade can never be proper in this country, unless for a portico, or to communicate with a detached building. Again, a logio laying the house open to the north, contrived in Italy for gathering cool air, is, if possible, still more improper for this climate: scarcely endurable in summer, it, in winter, exposes the house to the bitter blasts of the north, and to every shower of snow and rain.
Having said what appeared necessary upon relative beauty, the next step is, to view architecture as one of the fine arts; which will lead us to the examination of such buildings, and parts of buildings, as are calculated solely to please the eye. In the works of Nature, rich and magnificent, variety prevails; and in works of Art that are contrived to imitate Nature, the great art is to hide every appearance of art; which is done by avoiding regularity, and indulging variety. But in works of art that are original, and not imitative, the timid hand is guided by rule and compass; and accordingly, in architecture strict regularity and uniformity are studied, as far as consistent with utility.
Proportion is no less agreeable than regularity and uniformity; and therefore in buildings intended to please the eye, they are all equally essential. By many writers it is taken for granted, that in buildings there are certain proportions that please the eye, as in sounds there are certain proportions that please the ear; and that in both equally the slightest deviation from the precise proportion is disagreeable. Others seem to relish more a comparison between proportion in numbers and proportion in quantity; and hold that the same proportions are agreeable in both. The proportions, for example, of the numbers 16, 24, and 36, are agreeable; and so, say they, are the proportions of a room, the height of which is 16 feet, the breadth 24, and the length 36. May I hope from the reader, that he will patiently accompany me in examining this point, which is useful as well as curious. To refute the notion of a resemblance between musical proportions and those of architecture, it might be sufficient to observe in general, that the one is addressed to the ear, the other to the eye; and that objects of different senses have no resemblance, nor indeed any relation to each other. But more particularly, what pleases the ear in harmony, is not proportion among the strings of the instrument, but among the sounds that these strings
* "Houses are built to live in, and not to look on; therefore let use be preferred before uniformity, except where both may be had." Lord Verulam, Essay 45.
produce. In architecture, on the contrary, it is the proportion of different quantities that please the eye, without the least relation to sound. Were quantity to be the ground of comparison, we have no reason to presume, that there is any natural analogy between the proportions that please in a building, and the proportions of strings that produce concordant sounds. Let us take for example an octave, produced by two similar strings, the one double of the other in length. This is the most perfect of all concords; and yet I know not that the proportion of one to two is agreeable in any two parts of a building. I add, that concordant notes are produced by wind-instruments, which, as to proportion, appear not to have even the slightest resemblance to a building.
With respect to the other notion, namely, a comparison between proportion in numbers and proportion in quantity; I urge, that number and quantity are so different, as to afford no probability of any natural relation between them. Quantity is a real quality of every body; number is not a real quality, but merely an idea that arises upon viewing a plurality of things, whether conjunctly or in succession. An arithmetical proportion is agreeable in numbers; but have we any reason to infer that it must also be agreeable in quantity? At that rate, a geometrical proportion, and many others which are agreeable in numbers, ought also to be agreeable in quantity. In an endless variety of proportions, it would be wonderful, if there never should happen a coincidence of any one agreeable proportion in both. One example is given in the numbers 16, 24, and 36; but to be convinced that this agreeable coincidence is merely accidental, we need only reflect, that the same proportions are not applicable to the external figure of a house, and far less to a column.
That we are framed by nature to relish proportion as well as regularity, is indisputable; but that agreeable proportion should, like concord in sounds, be confined to certain precise measures, is not warranted by experience. On the contrary, we learn from experience, that proportion admits more and less; that several proportions are each of them agreeable; and that we are not sensible of disproportion, till the difference between the quantities compared become the most striking circumstance. Columns evidently admit different proportions, equally agreeable; and so do houses, rooms, and other parts of a building. This leads to an interesting reflection: the foregoing difference between concord and proportion, is an additional instance of that admirable harmony which subsists among the several branches of the human frame. The car is an accurate judge of sounds, and of their smallest differences; and that concord in sounds should be regulated by accurate measures, is perfectly well suited to this accuracy of perception. The eye is more uncertain about the size of a large object, than of one that is small; and at a distance an object appears less than at hand. Delicacy of perception, therefore, with respect to proportion in quantities, would be an useless quality; and it is much better ordered, that there should be such a latitude with respect to agreeable proportions, as to correspond to the uncertainty of the eye with respect to quantity.