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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/410

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Bronze, though it becomes a blackish green, has this advantage for the decoration of buildings, that it can be reproduced as often as you please from the modeled clay of the statuary. You may, therefore, get through its means first-rate work at low cost, if the repetition is great, and its use may be called benevolent as well, for it does not condemn skillful men to the brainless work of constantly reproducing the same thing.

It is needless to speak of wrought iron, which can be made into any form you like, and of any size and thickness, from the stem of an anchor to a leaf, and chased or engraved, polished or lacquered, tinned or gilt. I am happy to say that wrought-iron work is receiving great attention again both from architects, painters, and iron-workers, and can be made nearly as well as it ever could. I think cast iron has been needlessly depreciated and needlessly neglected in this truly iron age. You can not get the fineness of bronze, and you can not chase it, but you can get really beautiful work done in it, and the wit of man can never be better employed than in using good materials at hand in the proper way—i. e., by only asking them to do what they can do readily and properly. As far as I know, the only real drawback to cast iron is its liability to rust. If Mr. Barff's process can be applied cheaply and will resist the attacks of the atmosphere for a long time, all we have to put up with is blackness, and, if the parts of a front we must have blank were filled in with glass slabs, you need have very little more black than you want.

Cast iron is a difficult material to use—I mean it wants to be calculated for its strength, it requires much thought to ornament, and everything, even to a bolt-hole, has to be settled beforehand, and, except there is much repetition, it is costly. Its neglect is greatly owing to this, that no one will pay for the extra skill, time, and trouble required of the architect, so this admirable material is almost ignored.

As regards marble, I can not quite agree with M. Charles Garnier, that "even when it has lost its polish it still looks like a shabby gentleman, and is not to be mistaken for a vulgar fellow in his Sunday clothes" Except in rainy weather, when the marble is temporarily polished by the wet, its unpolished surface, in my opinion, can not be regarded as worth the outlay; and I say this with hesitation and regret, for the exquisite harmonies produced by the decayed marble of St. Mark's was a thing to be remembered; still, as an architect, I can not reconcile myself to using a precious material merely to give a flavor when I know that, in giving it, it is going to decay; I might, perhaps, if I were a painter. But for the inside of a building marble is the richest material you have for the production of lovely color music without words—painted as it is by Nature's hand, with every