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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/79

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Sect. XVIII.
47
INTRODUCTION.

but the living cannot conceive anything more perfect than what they are doing, or they would apply it. Everything in any true art is thoroughly up to the highest standard of its period, and instead of the dissatisfied uncertainty in which we are wandering in all matters concerning arcliitecture, we should be exulting in our own productions, and proud in leaving to our posterity the progress we have made, feeling assured that we have paved the way for them to advance to a still higher standard of perfection.

As soon as the public are aware of the importance of this rule, and of its applicability to architecture, a new style must be the inevitable result; and if our civilization is what we believe it to be, that style will not only be perfectly suited to all our wants and desires, but also more beautiful and more perfect than any that has ever existed before.


XVIII.—Prospects.

If we turn from these speculations to ask what prospect there is of the public appreciating correctly this view of the matter, or setting earnestly aliout carrying it out, the answer can hardly be deemed satisfactory.

The clergy, not only in England but on the continent of Europe, have arrived at the conclusion that the Gothic style is the one most suited for church-building purposes; and this has now become so established a point that no deviation from Gothic models is tolerated. Any architect who would attempt originality in plan, or introduce even a new detail or moulding, is immediately set down as ignorant of his profession, and the experiment is not repeated. Every year that we continue in this path, and that our knowledge of the style becomes greater, the heavier will our chains become, and anything like originality or progress in this important branch of architecture more absolutely impossible.

The study of the classical languages, to which so much importance is attached in our public schools, and in our own and most foreign universities, tended at one time in another way to draw attention from the formation of a true style of architecture by fixing it exclusivelv on Greek and Roman models. The Renaissance in the fifteenth century, as pointed out above, arose much more from admiration of classic literature than from any feeling for the remains of buildings which had been neglected for centuries, and were far surpassed by those which succeeded them. The same feelings perpetuated by early association are the great cause of the hold that classic art still has on the educated classes in Europe.

In clubs and mixed societies the style usually adopted is the Italian, out of which progress may come if common sense be allowed