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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/19

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xi
PREFACE.

abridgment, if there existed any larger history from which it could be supposed to be abridged. At one time I intended to designate it "An historical Introduction to the Study of Architecture, considered as a Fine Art;" but though such a title might describe correctly enough the general scope of the work, its length is objectionable, and, like every periphrasis, it is liable to misconstruction.

The simple title of "History" has therefore been adopted, under the impression that it is entitled to such a denomination until at least some narrative more worthy of the subject takes its place. Considering the limits it thus became necessary to impose on the extent of the work, it must be obvious that the great difficulty of its composition was in the first place to compress so vast a subject into so small a compass; and next to determine what buildings to select for illustration, and what to reject. It would have been infinitely easier to explain what was necessary to be said, had the number of woodcuts been doubled. Had the text been increased in the same ratio a great many things might have been made clear to all, wdiich will now, I fear, demand a certain amount of previous knowledge on the part of my readers. To have done this, however, would have defeated some of the great objects of the present publication, which is intended to convey a general view of the history and philosophy of the subject, without extending the work so as to make it inconveniently large, or increasing the price so as to render it inaccessible to a large number of readers. The principle consequently that has been adopted in the selection of the illustrations is, first, that none of the really important typical specimens of the art shall be passed over without some such illustrations as shall render them intelligible; and, after this, those examples are chosen which are remarkable either for their own intrinsic merit, or for their direct bearing in elucidation of the progress or affinities of the style under discussion; all others being sternly rejected as irrelevant, notwithstanding the almost irresistible temptation at times to adorn my pages with fascinating illustrations. The reader who desires information not bearing on the general thread of the narrative must thus have recourse to monographs, or other special works, which alone can supply his wants in a satisfactory manner.

It may tend to explain some things which appear open to remark in the following pages, if I allude here to a difference of opinion which has frequently been pointed out as existing between the views I have expressed and those generally received regarding several points of ancient history or ethnology. I always have been aware that this