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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/86

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54
Part II.
HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE.

it is undoubtedly entitled. We live in an age when all Art is a chaos of copying and confusion; we are daily masquerading in the costume of every nation of the earth, ancient and modern, and are unable to realize that these dresses in which we deck ourselves were once realities. Because Architecture, since the Reformation in the sixteenth century, has in Europe been a mere hortus siccus of dried specimens of the art of all countries and of all ages, we cannot feel that, before that time. Art was earnest and progressive; and that men then did what they felt to be best and most appropriate, by the same processes by which Nature works. We do not therefore perceive that, though in an infinitely lower grade, we may reason of the works of man before a given date, with the same certainty with which we can reason of those of Nature. When this great fact is once recognized—and it is indisputable—Archæology and Palæontology take their places side by side, as the guiding and vivifying elements in the sister sciences of Ethnology and Geology, and give to each of tliese a value they could never otherwise attain.

As may well be expected, however, when Archæology is employed to aid in these researches, results are frequently arrived at, which at first sight are discrepant from those to which the study of language alone has hitherto led scientific men. But this is no proof either of the truth or falsehood of the conclusions arrived at, or of the value or worthlessness of the processes employed. Both are essential to the question of knowledge, and it is by a skilful balancing of both classes of evidence that truth is ultimately arrived at.

It would be out of place to attempt in an introduction like the present anything approaching to a complete investigation of this subject. Nor is it necessary. The various ethnographic relations of one style to another will be pointed out as they arise in the course of the narrative, and their influence traced to such an extent as may be necessary to render them intelligible. But for the same reasons which made it expedient to try, in the preceding pages, to define the meaning of the term architecture, and to point out its position and limits, it is believed that it will add to the clearness of what follows if the typical characteristics of the principal races[1] of mankind with whom the narrative deals, are first defined as clearly, though as succinctly as possible.

As the object of introducing the subject here is not to write an


  1. The term "Persistent Varieties" has recently been introduced, instead of "race," in ethnological nomenclature, and, if scientific accuracy is aimed at, is no doubt an improvement. It is an advantage to have a term which does not even in appearance prejudge any of the questions between the monogenists and polygenists, and leaves undecided all the questions how the variations of mankind arose. But it sounds pedantic: and "race" may be understood as meaning the same thing.