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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/41

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Sect. II.
9
INTRODUCTION.

When from the Æsthetic arts we turn to the Sciences and Technic Arts, we find, as just pointed out, that the individual becomes much less important and the process everything. Every astronomer now knows more than Newton; every chemist than John Dalton. Any ordinary mechanic can start from a higher point than was reached by a Watt or an Arkwright or a Stephenson, and can surpass them. But no man can mount on the shoulders of such men as Handel or Mozart or Beethoven, and surpass them; and the higher we ascend in the scale of arts the more important does the individual become and the less so the process. A Phidias, a Raphael, a Shakespeare, are yet unsurpassed, and possibly never may be. All men may be taught to carve, to color, and to write mechanically, and may even be instructed to practise these processes so as to afford pleasure to themselves and others; but when from this we rise to Phonetic painting, sculpture, or poetry, and the still higher region of philosophy, the individual becomes all in all, and his special genius there stamps the true value of the production.

In this respect, again, Architecture is singularly happy as a means of study. As a Technic art it is practised in the same progressive principles as all its sister arts, irrespective of individuality. As an Æsthetic art it is hardly so individual as music, because its forms and colors are permanent and capable of being repeated with such improvements as each experiment suggests in every subsequent building; but when it attempts Phonetic forms of utterance, these are seldom so absolutely integral that they cannot be separated from the building and judged of apart. A Greek temple or a Mediaeval cathedral without painting and sculpture may be poor and inanimate, but still so beautiful in its form, so grand from its mass, and so imposing from its durability, that in its Technic-Æsthetic form alone it may command our admiration, more perhaps than any other work of human hands, except of course, as said before, the highest intellectual forms of Phonetic art. Architecture thus combines in itself the steady progressive perfectibility of a Technic art quite independent of the intellectual capabilities of the architect, combined with the Æsthetic appreciation of form and color which is mostly universal, and can at all events be generally inculcated and learned. But its greatest glory is that it can enlist in its service the higher branches of Phonetic sculpture and painting, which can be exercised only by specially gifted individuals. It is difficult to conceive all these qualities being equally combined in the person of any one architect, and in practice it is by no means necessary for success that it should be so, though, if possible, the combination would no doubt be advantageous. In criticizing, on the contrary, it is always necessary to separate and distinguish between the mechanical, the sensuous, and the intellectual part of a design. Without this an intelligent appreciation of its merits or defects can hardly be obtained.