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great work will be terminated in a manner that will not derogate from the credit we have obtained of being the greatest bridgebuilders in Europe. In the mean time, I beg to be allowed a suggestion.
Passing through Châlons sur Soane, some time ago, I was struck with the ornamental part of a bridge there over that river. There are placed, on the angular basements between the arches, all along on each side, obelisks of handsome proportions, which rise, with their tapering forms, above the parapets of the bridge itself, and produce somewhat of a triumphal effect, without, I believe, its ever having been intended. Might not something of this sort be applied to our bridge now in progress? I should propose columns of such an order, and of such proportions, as may be determined on by the architect. Aspiring above the parapets and balustrades, not only they might be made to bear on their capitals the statues or busts of our heroes, but they might also serve as channels for the gas with which the lamps, most probably, will be fed. Pointed obelisks could sustain nothing on them, but even they would be better than nothing of the kind, and could, at all events, be made useful for the lamps, while one of their angles presented to the stream of the river, as at Châlons, might serve to divide and throw it off to the arches. I lean strongly, however, to the adoption of columns; and I should think that the additional expense incurred by them would not be commensurate with the advantage of the effect produced, and especially for so patriotic and monumental 'a purpose.
Although comments on old buildings are foreign to my subject, yet being in this quarter of the town, and so very near to that which Mr. Pope has said
“Like a tall bully lifts his head and lies," without asserting or denying the veracity of his verse, I may venture first, to affirm that nothing can be more injudicious than to aim at perpetuating the memory of 'disasters by works of splendor and expense; and next, that nothing could be more absurd than that this column (as the base of it declares) should have been erected here at the bottom of the hill, instead of its summit, for the mere purpose of showing that on this spot, exactly, the fire of 1666 broke out. If the monument had been raised on the top of Fish Street Hill, it would have been equally satisfactory to have learnt that, at so many paces (whatever they might be) from that spot, the melancholy event took place. And there is the less excuse for this extraordinary blunder, as, after the conflagration, there had been sufficient room, unfortunately, created for the choice of an eminence, from which it would have been visible over the whole town. This is a great pity, as it is, in itself, a very fine thing :
but it serves to show that it is not in thiş age only that we have been guilty of great mistakes. It is said to be in danger of falling: if this be the case, might it not be best to take it down piecemeal, and re-erect it on some more suitable spot ?
To return to the notice of recent edifices, which may be found, perhaps, more than sufficient for the exercises of a critical amateur, I shall pass over the Thames, and saying what strikes me on the subject of hospitals, in general, express the satisfaction I feel on seeing one that is so fully in conformity with my own notions about them altogether. The new Bethlem or Bedlam, which has been made to cross the water, and to migrate from the eastern to the western part of the town, I will not allow myself to suppose to be in consequence of a greater increase of patients on one side over the other, although it be a possible case ; but the building seems to be exactly what it ought to be ; plain, spacious, and with as little ornament as possible. The portico is handsome, but not ostentatious. I confess, however, that I regret the absence of those two fine statues which formerly stood over the gate-way of old Bedlam ; « Cibber's brainless brothers," as the sarcastic poet called them. The old hospital, in Moorfields, I think I recollect to have read, was raised too, in the spirit of satire, after the fashion of the Tuilleries. This was not discreet, to say the least of it ; and in these days we should have thought it une très mauvaise plaisanterie. I only remember that the building was crowned with a Mansarde,' like Montague House, now the Museum. As it had, altogether, a very clumsy appearance, and was, besides, a standing libel against a'whole nation, we have no reason to regret the loss of it. Not only ought we to condemn the taking the model of a palace, any where, for a mad-house ; but it seems to me that nothing can be more censurable and incongruous, than the application of embellishments of architecture to an hospital. The exterior of every edifice should have its peculiar character, from St. Paul's down to Newgate ; and in the interval between the two, there is enough of room for the exercise and employment of the talents of architects. Temples, palaces of princes and great individuals, seats in the country, villas, theatres, &c. are within their range ; but with respect to every thing except distribution, builders alone should be employed on alms-houses. Palaces indeed have been converted into hospitals, and vice versa, as was sung about a century ago,
. To palaces her poor Britannia brings,
St. James's Hospital may serve for kings. But when we come to calculate the advantages derivable from the economy of endowments, as affording the admission of greater
· From Mansard, an architect in the time of Louis the Fourteenth, much eemed and employed by Colbert.
numbers into such asylums, together with a great increase of comforts, who is there who would not refuse any thing in building, beyond the substantial and the decent ?
Being on the topic of the misapplication of character to the exterior of an edifice, I should say that there is an instance of it in Dublin, which will serve to convey to the reader's mind every thing that need be said. A custom-house puts you in mind, whenever you have to do with it or to look at it, of its fiscal destination, and the duties which you are obliged to pay. Was it wise, then, to raise one in that city with a prodigality of architectural embellishment in columns, &c. eclipsing the vice-regal residence itself, and most of the other public buildings there? Nothing surely could be more absurd : as absurd as if the collectors of taxes were directed to wait on you in coats covered with lace like a sherift's footman. Hereafter, sit convenientia cuique !
It is in the Museum, the Temple of the Arts and Sciences, now restoring and augmenting, that we are to look for the utmost that the nation and its artists can supply, in expense and ingenuity, towards its completion and adornment. Let it not be said, that, while we are yet suffering under heavy taxes, no money should be squandered in public buildings; but, on the contrary, let it be ever borne in mind that science is wealth, and that it is owing to the diffusion and direction of it that we are now the most intelligent and active people in Europe ; and that it must be mainly through its still farther extension, that those taxes can be lightened, and Great Britain become less tributary to other countries.
From a spirit of rivalry, and á laudable resolution not to be outdone by other navigating powers, we have repeated our expeditions in search of the north-west passage ; that which never can become a high road, nor even a cross road; the extension of science therefore must have been the object of them. Museums have been established in all the capitals and principal cities on the conti. nent; and we even see rising round us, in our chief provincial and manufacturing towns, foundations of the same description. Will this same spirit of emulation allow us to be surpassed by them in this the most opulent and extensive of all capitals ? I should say, certainly not.
We cannot yet speak of the building recently commenced, although we have some information before us of the plan : but confining our observations to the fundamental part of it, we have, I think, to congratulate ourselves that it has been determined to adhere to its old locality.
Much discussion has taken place on this head; and it has been vehemently asserted and urged, that the Museum should have been transferred to what was deemed a more central spot; and, in par
ticular, to the unoccupied space allotted to the finishing of Somerset House. The seating of the temple of science in the midst of the noise and bustle of the Strand and the public offices, seems, of all projects, to have been the worst conceived. The collegiate (if I may so say) and quiet part of the town, where it now is, appears, on the contrary, marvellously well adapted to the purpose. Much more retired than any other quarter of London, it is still not excentric ; and the inns of court, our most learned bodies, are, luckily, in its vicinity : while, for those who pursue the arts and sciences with ardor and steadiness, its abstraction from pleasure and dissipation offers a sort of retreat to those who choose to fix themselves in its neighborhood. The real virtuoso and scientific man will never complain of its being removed at some distance from him ; and as every body, for his own particular convenience, would naturally wish to have it within half a street of his own house, it never could have been contrived to suit exactly all classes of people. It was most wisely done, in my humble opinion, to keep it where it is, even were it on this single account only: but when the calculation is made of the difficulty and enormous expense, together with the risk incurred in removing all the precious and the fragile articles contained in the present building, it seems most extraordinary that any thing of the kind should ever have been proposed. What would it not have cost to have carted and conveyed those ponderous Elgin marbles only (which have travelled enough already) to a distant part of the town? Every thing can now be moved with ease from one end of the premises to the other, almost by hand, and according to the progression of the new structure preparing for them.'— There is space enough here, and a grand opportunity afforded for the exertion of architectural talent: and, considering the encouragement given, of late years, by government and the opulent individuals of this country, we are entitled to expect something not unworthy of the nation.
In the mean time, I feel persuaded that our reputation as a polished people, and as one advanced in the fine arts, will depend, - in a great measure, on the success or failure of this very under
taking ; this for which such liberal supplies are granted; and this, of which the plan will, no doubt, have been profoundly studied and adequately canvassed, before it was resolved to carry it into execution. I sincerely hope we shall have to boast of a consummate result. . .
1 The placing a national gallery of pictures here, is a part of the subject on which much has been said, and to which much more reasonable objections have been made; but to have obtained one, at any rate, is a great gain; and the effect produced by its establishment, has been to call forth an unexampled instance of liberality. Sir George Beaumont has bestowed on it all his valuable collection in his lifetime! I have the best authority for saying, that Mr. Angerstein would have left the greater part, if not the whole of his pictures to it, if its foundation had been determined on before his decease.
During the time that our victorious fleets and armies were in Egypt, a question arose about the conveyance of the obelisk, vulgarly called Cleopatra's Needle, to England. Lord Cavan, if I remember right, was for the measure ; but it was opposed by General Fox, I believe, on the ground of its not being our property. Since that time, it has been ceded to us by the Egyptian Government, as a donation : but the transportation of it hither having been considered by our ministers, and the calculated expense found to be ten thousand pounds, much to my regret, has been laid aside. It would have made a noble figure in the court-yard of the restored Museum ; and I am still in hopes, that the bringing it here for this or some other spot, may hereafter be agreed to. In the mean time, why might we not open a subscription for the expense of sending a properly-constructed vessel, together with some intelligent mechanical people to superintend the shipping of it for its now legitimate owners? This would put our virtù (I do not say virtue) to the test.
There are lying, at this time, in the court-yard of the Museum, a number of shafts of granite columns, of unequal length, and of different colors. Whether, and how they can possibly be employed here, in any part of the new edifice, I cannot guess; but it would seem that their tonnage, taken all together, would have almost weighed against the obelisk in question. If the largest and longest of them should not be employed here, it strikes me that it might very well serve for a milliary' stone, at the now rising post-office, for the purpose of marking all the distances throughout the kingdom from thence.
In mentioning this improvement, about to take place, in a concern of a very different nature from that of which I have just been speaking, I own, I am sorry to recollect how much government (to all appearance) has been induced to give way to the importunities, not to say clamors, of the city, with respect to its removal from the most inconvenient and even dangerous spot to which it had been so long confined. Every attention, and all reasonable facilities, should be afforded to the mercantile world; but the precedencé ought, in my mind, to have been given to the government, and its most important offices, in point of accommodation, as well as dignity. The concessions of the city can hardly be called a compromise; for this new post-office, which, it is said, will be handsome, will be stuck up almost at the end of Newgate Street, where it cannot produce much effect, and with