Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

The more indeed the existence of the lateral pressure is felt; the more unsatisfactory the form of the arch becomes : because the two laws of gravitation and cohesion are thus brought again into antagonism with each other; and antagonism is the destroyer of repose, and repose is essential to true beauty and enjoyment. But the circular arch is attended with this evil. It compels the eye to strike repeatedly downward in order to trace the curve; hence the heavy, depressing feeling, which Norman and Roman architecture so generally produce. The sense of a downward pressure necessarily suggests the chance of a lateral spread, and then comes the uneasiness of feeling, unless the spread be thoroughly guarded against by some obvious and natural means. Hence it is that the arch supported by pillars, instead of piers, is so meagre and unsatisfactory; and hence the impossibility, even with the aid of the arch, to avoid encumbering the exterior, which we cover in, with heavy masses of support. We are entering at length into this question, because, until the principles of architecture, as of every other art, are brought back to fundamental axioms, and those axioms are laid very deep, seemingly in the mysteries of philosophy, art will be placed on a quicksand, and the creations which it raises will become quicksands themselves. But the conversion of the circular into the pointed arch, and especially the high vertical arch of the purest Gothic, did much to remedy these defects. In the first place, it brought the covering lines far more into a vertical direction, and so adjusted them better to the law of gravitation. Secondly, by throwing off the eye from the two curves laterally, instead of compelling it to strike a centre perpendicularly from the keystone, it removed the sense of depression, and with this the apprehension of the lateral thrust. Thirdly, by bringing fully into play the vertical tendency, and throwing the eye up uninterruptedly through all the main lines of the building, it still further lightened, indeed removed entirely, the sense of downward pressure: and then came the vertical principle again to correct what still remained of the lateral spread, by permitting the architect not only to spring up solid vertical projections in the shape of buttresses, but to load them at the very point required with pinnacles and towers : so that the whole building is locked in and compacted at every point of danger by the one simple law of gravitation.

For the tendencies of the building, as of the eye, must to a certain degree be multiplied and complicated from the necessity of having multiplied parts. As a single line cannot enclose a space, nor a single ornament describe a figure, so a single law of gravitation is not sufficient to create a building. It may raise a wall, but cannot construct a vault or a roof. How, then, are we to admit a counteracting principle without destroying simplicity and introducing confusion? How is unity to be preserved with this necessity for a diversity of tendencies? Or, to apply the principle to the immediate case before us, how is the perpendicular gravitation recognized in the formation of the arch to be reconciled and harmonized with the lateral thrust? It can only be done by repeating the same perpendicular pressure at another part; and thus locking in the whole building-just as the paramount horizontal line of the Greek portico, though departed from in the descending lines of the pillars, is again returned to, and repeated by the horizontal line of the base. In this point of view even the antagonism of the opposite tendencies becomes harmonized and reduced into unity; just as in a painting, a single spot of colour at variance with the predominating tint is brought at once into order simply by being repeated. The buttresses and pinnacles are the correlatives to the superincumbent weight on the arch. Three tendencies are created instead of two; and the two exterior tendencies, being of one and the same kind, shut up and overrule the middle one, so as to not only to prevent discordances, but to produce harmony. The principle, we believe, is one of extensive and deep application to all creations of art; but it is difficult to explain, and will be felt by those who contemplate the mechanical construction of a Gothic building, far better than it can be suggested merely through the eye.

counteracting

But we must close for the present. The principle which Mr. Pugin has illustrated is full of other curious applications. And the whole mystery of Gothic architecture is a subject of such interest at present, that we shall perhaps be pardoned if we pursue it again, and endeavour to trace out still farther the sources of its peculiarities and excellencies. In the mean time the lovers of the church may be congratulated that there is so much need of just conceptions on these questions, in consequence of the continued increase of our ecclesiastical buildings; and that both the universities are contributing zealously to the science by the formation of their valuable societies for the express purpose of promoting it. Among the most useful and beautiful contributions to it yet made is the Glossary of Architecture,' published at Oxford ; and we recommend it earnestly to those who are desirous of familiarising themselves with the technical languagewithout which the study cannot be pursued—and with a number of curious details, which will prepare them for entering into it more deeply and successfully.

ART.

Art. V.-Biblical Researches in Palestine, Mount Sinai, and

Arabia Petræa, &c. By Edward Robinson, D.D., Professor of Biblical Literature in the Union Theological Seminary, New York. W E opened this work with a feeling of weary despondency

at the prospect of three more volumes of Travels in Palestine: we closed them with respect and gratitude to the author, not unmingled with a little blameless national jealousy. We are not altogether pleased that for the best and most copious work on the geography and antiquities of the Holy Land, though written in English, we should be indebted to an American divine. The interest of Palestine and its neighbouring provinces is, and must ever be, inexhaustible—the Palestine of the patriarchs, where the pastoral ancestors of the Jews, having been summoned from Mesopotamia, settled with their flocks and herds among the agricultural tribes of its earlier inhabitants - the Palestine of the chosen people, with all their solemn and eventful history—the Palestine of our Lord and his Apostles—the Palestine of Josephus, with the awful wars which ended with the abomination of desolation in the Holy City-the Palestine of the early pilgrimages, of Jerome and his monastic companions—the Palestine of the crusades, of Godfrey of Bouillon, of Richard Cour de Lion, and of Saladin; we may descend still lower-of Napoleon, of Sir Sidney Smith, and of more recent British heroes : in every period, or rather throughout the whole course of time, this hallowed and marvellous country is connected with recollections which belong to the unlearned as well as the learned, to the simple as to the wise. Every scene has its sanctity or its peculiar stirring emotions; every name awakens some association of wonder, of reverence, or, at least, of laudable curiosity. We must confess, if it were possible to allay or to quench this ardent interest, it would have breathed its last under the countless volumes of travels which have poured, and still threaten to pour, upon us from all the gates of all the publishers in Europe. We have long been well-nigh worn out, and could hardly have pledged ourselves that even our public spirit, our heroic and self-devoted sense of the responsibility of reviewers, would not have failed at the sight of new travels in Palestine. Who is not utterly weary of the religious commonplace which every one who now steams away to the Holy Land complacently imparts to the public? Who is not still more troubled by the peremptory and dogmatic decision with which persons, who have never seemed to consider that much previous knowledge and much severe study are required to qualify a traveller in these regions, at once

settle

from

een welloven our his of

settle questions which have perplexed and divided the profoundest scholars, on the mere credit of having been in the East. It is reported of a very illustrious, very good-hearted, but not highly-educated personage, that in some question relating to early American history, some one quoted the authority of Robertson. · Robertson! Robertson !-what should he know of America ?—was he ever there? I have been!' Upon this principle we presume it is that every individual, young or old, gentle or simple, layman or ecclesiastic, by setting foot in Palestine, springs up at once a divine of authority and an accomplished theologian.

We have not indeed been altogether fortunate, at least since Pococke and Maundrell, in our Palestinian travellers. For the poetry of the Holy Land, for the vivid and earnest expression of religious emotion, for picturesque local description, notwithstanding their affectations and extravagance, we must go to Chateaubriand and Lamartine; and with some distinction, both for better and for worse, and the consideration that they dwelt chiefly on the crusading associations, to Michaud and Poujoulat. From the former of these writers no one would seek for information, or suspect that they would on any single occasion sacrifice effect to truth. Their evidences of Christianity being its picturesqueness and its poetry, any tradition, however remoteany legend, however wild-any superstition, however absurd-is mingled up in unquestioning faith, or boastful credulity, with the sincere truths of the Gospel itself. Among our own countrymen we cannot, of course, reckon Burckhardt, who is chiefly however valuable rather for the neighbouring regions than for Palestine proper. One of the best volumes, containing, as it did, real discoveries, told with simplicity and good sense, that of Irby and Mangles, has been retained, by the modesty of its authors, within private circulation. The cleverest of our own travellers, the late Dr. Clarke, was unfortunately possessed with the opinion that everything was wrong, and that he was sent on a sort of special mission of original genius to set it all right. But there is no instinctive perception of that wbich can only be wrought out by accurate observation and patient study. Clarke only deviated into more obstinate and irreclaimable error. It is, however, a strong proof how little real knowledge, even of Jerusalem itself, can be gleaned from our recent travellers, that we have in vain--and, we assure our readers, with most patient interest-sought for a confutation of Clarke's singular paradox, which placed the city of David on the high ground south of what has always, and rightly, been considered the valley of Hinnom. It seemed first to occur to the authors of the work before us to examine the nature of this ridge and of the

country

country beyond. They have done so, and settled the question for ever. · Thus oppressed under the burthen, we will not say of annual, but quarterly and bimestrial travels in Palestine, which have turned out to be little more than the authors' confessions of faith (sincere, we doubt not, for the most part) and testimonials to their own piety (pleasing enough as witnessing to a growing sense of religion, but little more), it has been with satisfaction, not unmingled with surprise, that we have found in the work of Dr. Robinson more solid and important information on the geography and on the topography of the Holy Land than has accumulated since the date of Reland's · Palestina. These two American travellers (for we must not deprive Dr. Robinson's companion, Mr. Smith, of his due share of the common merit), by patient and systematic investigation, have enabled us to satisfy our minds on many points for which we had in vain sought a solution in the whole range of travels and geographical treatises. The authors have brought to their task strong, may we venture to say, English good sense, and piety, which can dare to be rational. With the most profound veneration for the truth of the sacred writings, they do not scruple to submit to the test of dispassionate inquiry, and of comparison with the records of scripture, every legend of which this land of wonder is so inexhaustibly fertile. Dr. Robinson has had the advantage of preparing his journals for the press in Berlin, un, questionably the city of Europe in which at present is centered the most profound erudition : he names some of its most distinguished scholars as having assisted him with advice; above all, the great geographer, K. Ritter, whose testimony to the importance of these discoveries comes from perhaps the highest living authority. We should mention that Dr. Robinson's colleague, Mr. Smith, having long resided in the East, was intimately acquainted with the vernacular Arabic, so that, instead of depending, in his communications with the natives, on an ignorant, careless, or designing interpreter, he might be perfectly confident that the questions would be fairly and distinctly put, and the answers reported with conscientious accuracy. By this means he has obtained much use. ful information as to sites of towns and other local circumstances, from the unsuspicious tradition of the names by which they are now popularly known among the inhabitants.

Dr. Robinson entered the Holy Land from Egypt, and of course the first point of biblical interest which occurred was the passage of the Red Sea. Dr. Robinson concurs with all the best modern scholars in supposing, as indeed the time allotted to their journey imperatively demands, that the Israelites set out upon their Exodus from Goshen, and that Goshen was situated eastward

along

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »