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ing, man has no time for toys, be they ever so lovely, and no thought to spare for aught but the battle.
It is curious to note in Mr. Ruskin especially, that after he has shown, elaborately and with excellent skill, the error of those who fancy that ornament is something applied to a building, stuck on, as it were, whereas, it ought to grow out of the structure and express the very essential spirit of the building, he should, then, urge men to build in such and such a way, to eschew such and such ornaments, and to delight in certain forms and styles. He does not see that this is applying taste to individuals, sticking it upon them; whereas, it ought to be the fruit of their own individuality, and express what they have in them. Of course, no people who need such advice will ever do anything good, and people who do not need it are hardly subjects for Mr. Ruskin's denunciation or counsel.
We believe that if it were the appointed work of this age, we should find the men of our time building as beautifully and conscientiously as men ever built anywhere; but we do not believe that any amount of fine writing, even if it were ten times as good as Mr. Ruskin's best, or any amount of designing, will ever remedy the evil of which these writers complain, or bring back one ray of the glory that has departed from the earth.
It may be largely stated that, even as children are always graceful until they learn to dance, so men built beautifully until they began to study architecture. Perhaps there never was a lovely house built, whether for God or man, by any professed architect, working merely for money. Doubtless, there
have been correct and cold structurespretty imitations and copies-by the score, but a beautiful, living, inspiring piece of work-never. The art of building began to decay that moment when men sought to bind her with rules, and to reduce her to theory. Hitherto she had been the expression of man's faith, of his feeling, of his enthusiasm, of his yearning-touched by the finger of the meddling architect, she dropped to the earth cold and dead. Every great building that stands upon the earth, before which men's hearts tremble, and their souls leap up in thanksgiving, is the child of enthusiasm and rapture.
"Know'st thou what wove yon wood-bird's
Of leaves and feathers from her breast?
O'er England's abbeys bends the sky,
This day will not return to us. inspiration of man never repeats itself. Yesterday it was Egypt, then Greece, then Rome; to-day it is England, France, America. How vain is it to look backward. How idle to hope, by denunciation or flattery, to move men to our will from the track in which God has set their feet to walk. It would seem as if men might have learned this lesson, for the least examination would show us that, wherever an individual has given the impulse to any movement, whether great or small, the result has always been one-sided and unfortunate. All the fanaticism, bigotry, absurdities in fashion, whether of dress, writing, or building, have been the result of strong individual influence swaying the masses of men. On the contrary, all the heroisms, martyrdoms, revolutions, progress, that the world has been blessed withal, are the flowering of the popular virtue, slowly but thoroughly leavened by the action of great ideas. All the absurdities of the Renaissance are individual characteristics hardened into stone; and think of England-she who has York, and Salisbury, and Lincoln— falling down before Wren, and Loudon, and Capability Brown!
It will be seen, then, that we cannot estimate very highly these books on building which set patterns for men to follow, and seek to induce a fashion which has no root in our instincts and relations. We not only think they do very little good, but we think they do positive harm. The houses they call upon us to build are, for the most part, remarkable for an immense quantity of inconceivably ugly, gingerbread work; ugly, because unmeaning and useless. Mr. Vaux is something of a sinner in
this respect. He not only puts on his houses too much of this expensive finery, but he seems quite uneasy if a house threatens to have a square foot of blank wall anywhere.
Now, people never put these upon their houses of their own accord. There is always an "architect" who pushes them to do it. There is the Swiss carving, you will tell us, and the old English timber houses. Yes, but in the Swiss houses, and, indeed, in all these instances, the carving is delicate and agreeable in its forms in the first place, and in the next, it is so disposed as not in any way to interfere with the masses of the designer. Every Swiss châlet of importance has a glorious roof, unbroken, simple-a treasure house of sun and shade-and the carving of the beams, the tracery of the balconies, cannot draw the eye from the pure refreshment of these forms. The sense is fed by these natural details, but not disturbed by them. So, too, in the old English country houses and cottages, there is a dignity, the result of simplicity in all the forms, which is not diminished by the occurrence of an occasional richly-carved verge-board, or a decorated doorway. But you will never find any frippery there. Those men felt, without knowing it, the beauty of repose.
Occasionally one hears a feeble cry: "When shall we have an original American architecture?" In feeble response to this questioning, comes a book now and then, that hopes it has hinted, to say the least, at the solution of the problem. Yet still we go on, from year to year, with the same blunders and the same awkward attempts at beauty; and, in spite of architects and books of designs, and ornamental wood-work ad libitum, the architectural millennium is as far off as ever.
Two or three propositions may be stated for consideration. First, no new idea, or set of ideas, in architecture, has ever originated with a people who are merely colonists from another people in the fullness or decline of their power and splendor. They bring with them the ideas to which they have been accustomed, which are often seriously modified by new circumstances, but never lose the distinct stamp of their origin. Indeed, the natural impulse would be to change as little as possible, to keep every reminiscence of the past
that the present would suffer, and to carry "home" with them, however far they might wander from the dear remembered spot. Thus, in New England, the oldest and best houses clearly recall the English cottages and mansions; while in New York, one sees Holland in many an old farm-house, which adorns the landscape with its venerable and unconquered strength.
Second: all good domestic architecture has its root in the love of the house as the family home. Wherever this love is the strongest, there we find the best domestic buildings and original -or, more properly speaking--individual styles. In Germany, in Switzerland, in England, we must look for all that is most beautiful in house-building; for all that is largest and most worthy the consideration of men. Hence it will be plain that, as the love of the house as the home is not a characteristic of Americans at this day, we cannot expect that there will be a new mode of expression where there is nothing to express. In a country where we change houses as we change our clothes, and with the same pleasure at getting into new and fresh ones, it cannot be looked for that we should spend much time upon the embellishment of a dwelling we may any day desert.
What we do to our houses, most of us, is merely for show, or to render them salable; and perhaps nothing better can be looked for in a new and unsettled country, where the young must leave the nest so soon, for new lands, and new fields of work. will not find fault with a national tendency which seems inevitable, and which is probably temporary; but we state the fact as it strikes us-and its consequences.
Third in every country the farmhouse is built in an original style. The Italian, Frenchman, Englishman, German, copies, in his palace or mansion, the architecture of another country; at one time every rich man's house is a Greek temple, at another, it is an Italian palace, at another, it is a Gothic cathedral cut down. But the house of the Italian peasant, of the Swiss mountaineer, of the French, German, English farmer, is built in a peculiar and unborrowed style. The palace or the church architecture of any country, where it is individual in its character, may be traced directly to its original
type, in the farm-house or the barn. All the detail of Gothic building is merely the rude wood and stone construction of the farm-buildings, decorated-and in the noblest examples, the adherence to the simplicity of the type is most severely observed.
We shall find the same fact awaiting us in America, where the only really good houses are the old farm-houses of Dutch and English type, scattered here and there over the land, testifying to the worth of simplicity, and the beauty of common-sense, in the midst of pretense and gingerbread work. We shall find these houses, with a beauty of their own, displaying an adherence to fitness and the sensible," under all circumstances, which is absolutely refreshing. They are the most delightful of homes, and the very paradise of visitors and children. When you go out of the house, there is the barn, twice as large, a sort of supplementary or reserve paradise, ostensibly for the dumb animals, but with a direct intention toward the children, little and big. Everything about the house seems made for enjoyment, and for living. The farmer does not know whether all the windows are properly" spaced;" he knows they are where they are wanted to look out of, and to let the sun stream in; and the children know that they were built for them to sit in, curled up, eating apples and reading delightful books. The roof, steep and ample, with no twists nor foolish angles, sheds rain and snow, and takes care of itself. The eaves are "decorated" with a row of pigeons, who catch the light and shade in a manner perfectly surprising, seeing that no architect had anything to do with them. The verandas or "pi
aggies," as the good farmer will call them, are the generous extension of the wonderful roof that shuts down over the household like another heaven. These "pi-aggies" are always brimful of sun in winter, and cool in summer, while the plain square posts that support them, afford ample excuse to a swarm of white and red roses and Chinese honey-suckles to clamber up to the roof, and swing about free and easily in the air. The sides of the house, if it is of wood, are covered with shingles cut round-or, if it is of stone, quantities of little flint pebbles are stuck into the mortar - joints least, where you can see them, for the great curtain of waving American joy, that hides the whole wall from view.
Half a dozen such houses we know of-no two are absolutely alike, but there is a family resemblance, and they are evidently modeled after one type. They are the nearest approach to an American style of building that we have; but we fear there is as little chance of a return to the solidity and largeness of our grandfathers' architecture as there is of a revival of the sincerity and simplicity of their lives. At all events, whether we are to have a peculiar American way of building or not, depends upon the degree in which we love our homes, and upon the determination of each man to build something that may properly be called a house and not a bird-cage-one suited to his absolute need-built after his own serious thought-for the happy and comfortable spending of a manly life, and for the having of virtuous and healthy children, in the shelter of a happy and never-to-be-forgotten home.
THE MODERN CRUSOE OF THE INDIAN OCEAN.
NY one casting his eye over the eastern hemisphere of our planet, will, if his search be diligent, discover, in about the 37th degree of southern latitude, and the 77th of eastern longitude, two small specks in the wide waste of waters of the Indian Ocean, as near as may be midway between the Cape of Good Hope and the coast of New Holland.
These islands are known to mariners by the names of St. Paul's and Amsterdam, and may be seen, in clear weather, at twenty or thirty miles distance, rearing their lofty heads, like twin giants, far above the turbulent billows which surround them. On a bright sunny morning, in the month of December, 1820, the height of the southern summer, the Honorable East India Com
pany's ships, the "Marchioness of Ely" and "Lady Campbell," were on their outward passage to China, distant from these islands about two hundred and fifty miles, holding their steady course over the swelling sea, like two trusty friends who had consorted, on a dreary path, for the double purpose of company and protection.
A difference of opinion had existed for some days between the two captains, respecting the longitude, and, it being the occasional practice of seamen to "sight" these islands to ascertain the correctness of their time, it was agreed between them to spend a day or two in the examination of the geological structure and other curiosities of their seldomtrodden shores. We also promised ourselves a day's sporting with the hogs, wild-fowl, seals, etc., with which they are said to abound.
The breeze proved variable, and it required several days to reach them. We were no longer in those regions where the trade-winds blow their healthful breezes, scattering plenty round the earth, their steadiness becoming a proverb in the exact reverse of our own. With us, "As changeable as the wind" is a common expression, not more trite than true; while the native of those smiling climes may compare the constancy of his mistress to the wind, and convey a compliment by the comparison.
At length the ships made the land, and dropped their anchors on the eastern side of the island of St. Paul's, about a mile from the shore, in a sandy substance, having much the appearance of wet gunpowder, this being the only place ships can anchor with any degree of safety.
We soon hoisted out the boats, and rowed for the shore. Vlaming, the Dutch navigator, appears to have visited these islands as early as 1697, giving the name of Amsterdam to the northernmost: and the southern, and largest, St. Paul's, which latter extends in a northwest and southeasterly direction eight or ten miles, and is about five miles in breadth. Opposite to the place where we had anchored the ships, on the east side of the island, we found an entrance to a large circular basin, through which the sea ebbs and flows, and across the throat of this inlet there is a bar. This lagoon, or basin, is evidently the crater of an exhausted vol
cano; the bar is composed of large rounded pebbles, and has more the appearance of a work of art than a production of nature. The narrow opening is about a pistol-shot wide into the basin alluded to, and in which a great many seals were found playing. The tide rushes through this inlet with great velocity; at half-ebb there is great difficulty in getting boats over the bar, which, however, once passed, the basin, or lagoon, is entered immediately, where the water is as smooth as a lake, though the sea be raging without. A lofty bluff headland appears on each side the entrance, and a rock, eighty or ninety feet high, somewhat resembling a sugarloaf or nine-pin, stands at a small distance from the shore. The basin, or rather this crater of an extinct volcano, is between two and three miles in circuit, and has thirty fathoms of water in the middle, which depth is sustained until within fifty feet of the shore.
All round it, except at the entrance from the sea, is table-land, rising, in some places, perpendicularly from the basin to an altitude varying from six hundred to seven hundred feet. rowing round we saw smoke rising amid the stones in various places; on landing we found the water close to the basin so hot that we could not bear our hands in it. The temperature of the air was 73° by thermometer, which, on being plunged in the water, ascended to 200°, and, on repeating the experiment in various places, it rose to a similar elevation. After catching some fish, they were boiled in the springs, which are all close to the sides of the lagoon, or basin, and, in many places, mix with and heat it to a considerable degree; and, as fish abound in vast numbers in all parts of the basin, they are caught very readily; so that, as Vlaming says, you may really throw the fish fastened on the hook out of the cold water into the hot and boil them.
Upon mentioning this circumstance to an incredulous but facetious friend, he replied, "Nothing is wanted to render the place perfect but melted butter growing in cocoa-nuts hard by."
It was on the north side of the inlet where we landed, amongst innumerable seals, some of which we killed for their skins; we then went in search of fresh water, hogs, and vegetables-these articles being particularly acceptable after a long sea voyage-and imme
diately commenced the ascent of the
Up a considerable part of the way, the path is good; but beyond that we found great difficulty in ascending the slippery coarse grass over which we walked causing us to slide downward almost every other step. Upon arriving at the top, we found, instead of the interior of the island being table-land, it was broken into valleys. Undulating plains and massive lumps of rocks were piled up in various places in strange confusion. Volcanic matter was visible, though not to the extent that might be expected from the evidences exhibited of the fiery origin of the place. Green patches of verdure, intermingled with coarse grass, and aquatic birds wheeling about, uttering their discordant screams, were the only signs of life, both animal and vegetable, that could be seen. It
is almost impossible to imagine a solitude more impressive. The view, however, looking down towards the lagoon, is beautiful to excess; it has the appearance of an immense bowl filled with the clearest water, with a portion of its side broken off, through which fracture the sea appears to have entered and filled it. Within, all is calm and motionless and bright as the most transparent crystal-the rocks and cliffs being reflected on its smooth, unruffled surface with all the truthfulness of a mirror; while without, the sea, dashing over the bar and amongst the rocks at the entrance of the inlet, foaming, advancing, and receding, offers a marked contrast to the repose which reigns within. The spot is pregnant with melancholy interest, and seemed to mourn the desolating energy of the subterranean fires which, at some not very distant date, had spread such devastation around.
As far as the eye could reach, the vision was bounded by the sea, except in the direction of the adjacent island of Amsterdam, whose faint blue outline was visible in the extreme distance. After remaining for a time admiring this singular scene, our party separated in two divisions-one taking for its route a small sandy valley, the other traversing a rocky section of the island whose frowning precipices overhung the sea. Fowling-pieces, muskets, and pistols were examined and loaded, and away we went in search of any game which would supply us with fresh provisions.
The wild hogs-a few being on the
island at the time of our visit, though not in a thriving_condition-were, it is presumed, turned adrift upon the shore by humane individuals, with the kind intention of affording a supply of food to the crews of vessels who, from accident or other causes, might be driven to extremities for want of it.
When Vlaming visited these islands, in 1697, he made no mention of any animal, except seals, existing upon them.
After a scrambling march, under a broiling sun for three hours, we arrived at a central position in the island, having had the good fortune to secure three small pigs on our route, one of which, on being wounded, ran between the legs of a seaman and knocked him down with such violence as nearly to send him over the cliffinto the sea below. He was saved by a mere accident. We halted here, and partook of some refreshments, sheltered from the scorching rays of the sun by two immense rocks, or blocks of stone, which, leaning against each other, apparently for support, formed a natural cave or archway set up in the wilderness for our convenience and accommodation.
"As I sat apart at the cavern'd stone, Like Elijah at Horeb's cave alone, And felt as a moth in the mighty Hand That spread the heavens and heaved the land,
A still small voice came through the wild, Like a father consoling his fretful child, Which banished bitterness, wrath, and fear, Saying, 'Man is distant, though God is
We soon dispatched our slight repast, and renewed our march to the opposite side of the island, our strength recruited by the food we had taken; everybody was full of life and animation; shouts of laughter were constantly pealing forth, as an unsuccessful shot was sent after a scampering pig, squealing at the top of his voice, and hiding in the recesses of the rocks, out of which it was impossible to rout him. We found unless we mortally wounded a hog we never bagged him : he invariably made his escape.
Pursuing our career, amidst this kind of sport, we entered a narrow gorge: on either hand the rocks were piled in inextricable confusion; it seemed as though we rather passed through than between them. In places for a distance of a hundred to a hundred and fifty yards they formed a complete tunnel, emerging from which