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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/23

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PREFACE.

architectural design. As, however, I can adduce in favor of my views 3000 years of perfect success in all countries and under all circumstances, against 800 years of absolute failure in consequence of the copying system, though under circumstances the most favorable to success in other respects, there seems at least an à priori probability that I may be right and that the copyist may be mistaken.

I may be deceiving myself, but I cannot help fancying that I perceive signs of a reaction. Some men are becoming aware of the fact that "archaeology is not architecture," and would willingly see something done more reasonable than an attempt to reproduce the Middle Ages. The misfortune is, that their enlightenment is more apt to lead to despondency than to hope. "If," they ask, "we cannot find what we are looking for in our own national style, where are we to look for it?" The obvious answer, that it is to be found in the exercise of common sense, where all the rest of the world have found it, seems to them beside the mark. Architecture with most people is a mystery‚ÄĒsomething different from all other arts; and they do not see that it is and must be subject to the same rules as they all are, and must be practised in the same manner, if it is to be successful.

Whether the nation will or will not soon awaken to the importance of this prosaic anti-climax, one thing at least seems certain and most hopeful. Men are not satisfied with what is doing; a restless, inquiring spirit is abroad, and if people can only be induced to think seriously about it, I feel convinced that they will be as much astonished at their present admiration of Gothic town-halls and Hyde Park Albert Memorials, as we are now at the Gothic fancies of Horace Walpole and the men of his day.