Page images

Then clap four slices of pilaster on't,
That, lac'd with bits of rustic, makes a front;


Cathedral ; or ever entered one of the larger and more elegant edifices of this kind, but it represented to his imagination an avenue of trees. And this alone is what can be truly called the Gothic style of building

Under this idea, of so extraordinary a species of architecture, all the irregular transgressions against art, all the monstrous offences against nature, disappear; every thing has its reason, every thing is in order, and an harmonious whole arises from the studious application of means, proper and proportioned to the end. For could the Arches be otherwise than pointed when the workman was to imitate that curve which branches of two opposite trees make by their intersection with one another? Or could the Columns be otherwise than split into distinct shafts, when they were to represent the stems of a clump of trees growing close together? On the same principles they formed the spreading ramification of the stone-work in the windows, and the stained glass in the interstices ; the one to represent the branches, and the other the leaves, of an opening grove ; and both concurred to preserve that gloomy light which inspires religious reverence and dread.' Lastly, we see the reason of their studied aversion to apparent solidity in these stupendous masses, deemed so absurd by men accustomed to the apparent as well as real strength of Grecian architecture. Had it been only a wanton exercise of the artist's skill, to show he could give real strength without the appearance of any, we might indeed admire his superior science, but we must needs condemn his illjudgment. But when one considers, that this surprising lightness was necessary to complete the execution of his idea of a sylvan place of worship, one cannot sufficiently admire the ingenuity of the contri

This too will account for the contrary qualities in what I call the Saxon Architecture. These artists copied, as has been said, from the churches in the Holy Land, which were built on the models of the Grecian architecture ; but corrupted by prevailing barbarism ; and still further depraved by a religious idea. The first places of Christian worship were sepulchres and subterraneous caverns, low and heavy from necessity. When Christianity became the Religion of the State, and sumptuous Temples began to be erected, they yet, in regard to the first pious ages, preserved the massive style ; made still more venerable by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre ; where this style was, on a double account, followed and aggravated.

Such as is here described was Gothic ARCHITECTURE. And it would be no discredit to the warmest admirers of Jones and Palladio to acknowledge it hath its merit. They must at least confess it had a nobler birth, though a humbler fortune, than the Greek and Roman ARCHITECTURE.

.-The reader may see Sir Christopher Wren's account of this matter from some papers of his, published since the printing this, in a book called Parentalia, page 273—297—306-7-8-355, and then judge for himself.-Warburton.

See Wren's Parentalia, the Preface to Bentham's History of Ely Cathedral, in which it is said he was assisted by Gray.—Warton.

Ver. 30. Turn arcs of triumph to a garden-gate ;] This absurdity seems to have arisen from an injudicious imitation of what these builders might have heard of, at the entrance of the ancient gardens of Rome. But they do not consider, that those were public Gardens, given to the people by some great man after a triumph; to which, therefore, Arcs of this kind were very suitable ornaments.-Warburton.




Shall call the winds thro' long arcades to roar,
Proud to catch cold at a Venetian door;
Conscious they act a true Palladian part,
And if they starve, they starve by rules of art.

Oft have you hinted to your brother Peer,
A certain truth, which many buy too dear:
Something there is more needful than expense,
And something previous even to taste—’tis sense:
Good sense, which only is the gift of Heaven,
And though no science, fairly worth the seven :
A light, which in yourself you must perceive;
Jones and Le Nôtre have it not to give.
To build, to plant, whatever you intend, ,
To rear the column, or the arch to bend;


COMMENTARY. Ver. 39. Oft have you hinted to


brother Peer, À certain truth,] and in this artful manner begins the body of the Epistle.

I. The first part of it (from ver. 38 to 99) delivers rules for attaining to the MAGNIFICENT in just expense ; which is the same in building and planting, that the sublime is in painting and poetry ; and consequently, the qualities necessary for the attainment of both must be analogous.

1. The first and fundamental, he shows (from ver. 38 to 47) to be Sense :

Good sense, which only is the gift of Heaven ;

And tho' no science, fairly worth the seven.” And for that reason ; not only as it is the foundation and parent of them all, and the constant regulator and director of their operations ; or, as the Poet better expresses it, of every art the soul ; but likewise as it alone can, in case of need, very often supply the offices of every one of them.

Ver. 47. To build, to plant, fc. 2. The next quality, for dignity and use, is Taste, and but the next. For, as the Poet truly observes, there is,something previous even to taste— tis sense ; and this in the order of things. For Sense is a taste and true conception of Nature ; and Taste is a sense or true conception of beautiful Nature ; but we must first know the essences of things, before we can judge truly of their qualities. The business of


Ver. 36. Proud to catch cold at a Venetian door ;] In the foregoing instances, the poet exposes the absurd imitation of foreign and discordant manners in public buildings; here he turns to the still greater absurdity of taking their models from a discordant climate, in their private ; which folly, he supposes, may be more easily redressed, as men will be sooner brought to feel for themselves than to see for the public.-Warburton.

Ver. 46. Jones and Le Nôtre have it not to gire.] Inigo Jones, the celebrated architect, and M. Le Nôtre, the designer of the best gardens of France.-Pope.

To swell the terrace, or to sink the grot;
In all, let Nature never be forgot.



Taste, therefore, in the pursuit of magnificence, is, as the Poet shows us (from ver. 46 to 65), 1. (to ver. 51.) To catch or lay hold on Nature, where she appears most in her charms. 2. (to ver. 57.) To adorn her, when taken, as best suits her dignity and quality ; that is, to dress her in the light and modest habit of a virgin, not load her with the gaudy ornaments of a prostitute. This rule observed, will prevent a transgression in the following, which is not to let all her beauties be seen at once, but in succession ; for that advantage is inseparable from a graceful and welldressed person. 3. (to ver. 65.) To take care that the ornaments be well directed to that part, which it is your purpose to adorn ; and as, in dressing out a modest Fair (which is the Poet's own comparison), the colours are suited to her complexion ; the stuff, to the proportion of her person ; and the fashion to her air and shape ; so in ornamenting a villa, the rise or fall of waters should correspond to its acclivities or declivities ; the artificial hills and vales, to its cover or exposure ; and the manner of calling in the country, to the disposition of its aspect. But again, as in the illustration, whatever be the variety in colour, stuff, or fashion, they must still be so suited with respect to one another, as to produce an agreement and harmony in their assemblage : so woods, waters, mountains, vales, and vistas must, amidst all their diversity, be so disposed with a relation to each other, as to create a perfect symmetry resulting from the whole ; and this, the Genius of the place, when religiously consulted, will never fail to inform us of ; who, as the Poet says,

“ Now breaks, or now directs, th’intending lines ;

Paints as you plant, and, as you work, designs.”
And this is a full and complete description of the office of Taste.

NOTES. Ver. 50. In all, let Nature] In Castell's Villas of the Ancients, folio, London, 1728, may be seen how much the celebrated Tuscan villa resembled our gardens, as they were planned a few years ago. Pliny's villa was like his genius.-Warton.

Ver. 50. In all, let Nature] Notwithstanding all the objections which of late have been made to the method of laying out grounds pursued by Brown, &c. it ought always to be remembered, that both Pope and Kent and Shenstone, and afterwards Brown (for I do not mention Milton, because he was not a practical gardener), were the first who approached towards Nature, in discarding the artificial style and trim quaintnesses which were considered the great ornaments of garden-scenery before their time. Let them at least have this merit. If, as is very true, they carried their ideas too far ; if their perpetual line of beauty be tiresome, and their ornaments, the laurel circuses, their “terminated points,” the edged waters, are to the eye of the GREAT Poet or Painter but so many littlenesses, as insipid as the artificial objects, the clipped hedges, and the cut yews they supplanted, were unnatural ; yet the merit of having first opened the eye of taste to more natural combinations of beauty, ought not to be denied them. Nor should they be decried as the subverters of rural beauty, instead of being considered the first promoters ; for no one can say but that clumps, however round and black, are handsomer, and more natural, than trees cut into “ dragons,” &c.

It remained for an ingenious and eloquent writer of the present age,


But treat the Goddess like a modest fair,
Nor over-dress, nor leave her wholly bare;
Let not each beauty every where be spied,
Where half the skill is decently to hide.
He gains all points, who pleasingly confounds, 55
Surprises, varies, and conceals the bounds.

Consult the genius of the place in all ;
That tells the waters, or to rise or fall ;

NOTES. gentleman of fortune', of taste, and originality of thinking, accurately to distinguish the characters of the “beautiful and picturesque;" and he has opened the English eye to ampler and nobler views of Landscape Gardening ; such as Milton, when he meditated his sublimest rural picture, would have approved. I still, however, think he carries his ideas, particularly respecting foregrounds, too far; and that he is somewhat too hard in his strictures on those who, after all, were the first to inculcate, whatever might have been their practice,

let Nature never be forgot!” Dr. Warton mentions Milton and Pope as the Poets to whom English Landscape is indebted. He forgot poor Shenstone!-Bowles. Ver. 53. Let not each beauty every where be spied,

Where half the skill is decently to hide.] The late lamented Thomas Warton, in his excellent edition of Milton's Poems, has, as usual, with as much taste as good sense, most clearly elucidated this point:

“ Where only a little is seen, more is left to the imagination. These symptoms of an old palace, especially when thus disposed, have a greater effect, than a discovery of larger parts, and a full display of the whole. The embosomed battlements, and the spreading top of the tall grove, on which they reflect a reciprocal charm, still further interest the fancy; whilst just enough of the towering structure is shown to make an accompaniment to the tufted expanse of venerable verdure, and to compose a picturesque association). Modern seats are seldom so deeply ambushed : they disclose their glories at once, and never excite expectation by concealment, by gradual approaches, and by interrupted appearances.” Edition of Milton, p. 54.-Bowles.

Ver. 57. Consult the genius of the place, fc.] The personalizing, or rather deifying, the Genius of the place, in order to be consulted as an oracle, has produced one of the noblest and most sublime descriptions of Design, that poetry could express ; where this Genius, while presiding over the work, is represented by little and little as advancing from a simple adviser, to a Creator of all the beauties of improved nature, in a variety of bold metaphors and allusions, all rising one above another, till they complete the unity of the general idea.-Warburton.

Ver. 58. That tells the waters,] Would it not give life and vigour to this noble prosopopæia, if we were to venture to alter only one word, and read, in the second line,

He tells the watersinstead of That tells ?


1 Essay on the Picturesque, by H. Price, Esq.

Or helps th' ambitious hill the heavens to scale,
Or scoops in circling theatres the vale;

Calls in the country, catches opening glades,
Joins willing woods, and varies shades from shades ;
Now breaks, or now directs, th' intending lines;
Paints as you plant, and, as you work, designs.
Still follow sense, of every art the soul;

65 Parts answering parts shall slide into a whole, Spontaneous beauties all around advance, Start even from difficulty, strike from chance;


Ver. 65. Still follow sense, 8c.] But now when good Sense has led us up to Taste, our fondness for the elegances of our new mistress, oftentimes occasions us to neglect the plainness and simplicity of the old ; we are but too apt to forsake our guide, and to give ourselves up solely to Taste. Our author's next rule, therefore, 3. is, Still to follow Sense, and let Sense perpetually accompany us through all the works of Taste :

Still follow sense, of every art the soul.That is, good Sense should never be a moment absent from the works of Taste, any more than the soul from the body ; for just as the soul animates and informs every air and feature of a beauteous body, so Sense gives life and vigour to all the productions of Taste.

Ver. 66. Parts answering parts, &c.] The Poet then explains the particular advantages of the union of Sense with Taste (from this verse to 71). 1. That the beautiful parts which Taste bas laid out and contrived, Sense makes to answer to one another, and to slide naturally, without violence, into a whole. 2. That many beauties will spontaneously offer themselves, suggested from the very necessity which Sense lays upon us, of conforming the parts to the whole, which no original invention of Taste would have supplied. 3. A third advantage is, that you are then always sure to have Nature on your side ;

“ Nature shall join you”The expression is important; when we were bid to begin with Sense, we were shown how this would lead us to Taste in the pursuit of Nature : but now, that he bids us to go on with Sense, or still to follow it, after having arrived at Taste, he tells us, that Nature will then join us of her own accord. This has a great beauty, which arises from the philosophic truth of the observation. For, as we observed before, Sense being a right conception of Nature, and Taste a right conception of beautiful Nature ; when these are in conjunction, Nature can stand out no longer, but presents herself to you without further pains or search.


Our author is never happier than in his allusions to painting, an art he so much admired and understood. So below, at ver. 81.

“ The wood supports the plain, the parts unite,

And strength of shade contends with strength of light.Indeed the two arts in question differ only in the materials which they employ.—Warton.

« EelmineJätka »