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only be made up for by the borrowing of miscellaneous details and ornaments from Greek, Roman and other ancient buildings, without regard either to their original position or their meaning. Such a course would certainly not be expected to lead to the formation of a pure and consistent system of architecture.
Within the last twenty-five years, an important movement has been going on in the revival of the Gothic or Pointed style for ecclesiastical purposes. It is difficult to say to what immediate causes this movement is due; but probably the train had been for some time laid, and the materials ready at hand to feed the flame of enthusiasm in its favour, whenever circumstances should arise to apply the spark. So little life, indeed, existed in the degenerate style previously in use, that anything exhibiting genuine and simple truth would be sure to be welcomed when understood.
Nor has this adoption of the ancient style been confined to any particular section of the Christian church, being marked by the erection of large and costly places of worship by Independents, Methodists and Unitarians, as well as by the Church of England and Roman Catholics, some of them indicating an intimate knowledge of the true principles of the style. Among these bodies, the Unitarians have not been either the least zealous or the least successful, as some of their recent erections testify.
This brief review of the origin and development of the different styles of ecclesiastical architecture, will furnish us with the materials out of which to make our selection of that which is best suited to the purpose in question. That selection, after what has been already said, must of course fall upon the Pointed or Gothic. The short sketch we have been able to give of its history and character, will, it is presumed, satisfy the majority of minds of the propriety of our choice.
No style is so truthful, so simple in its principles, or so various in its capabilities; none is so essentially founded on the laws of nature and sound mechanical construction. Contrary to the classical systems, it was, both in its origin and in its developments, designed in the first place for interior accommodation rather than for external display. It is the genuine growth of the Christian faith, and all its associations are with Christianity and its rites. But it is needless to enlarge further on its excellences, as probably few will be found to dispute its decided superiority over all others, considered in itself. It will be necessary, however, to examine one or two circumstances which in some minds tend to render this style unfitted for modern purposes, or at any rate for use by Unitarians.
1. It is objected by some that the Gothic or Pointed style is suited only for the Roman Catholic church, because it was invented and brought to perfection in Catholic times, and made
to accord with the Catholic ritual; that as much of this ritual is superstitious, erroneous and mischievous, while all genuine styles of architecture (and especially this one) are necessarily symbolical of the faith with which they are connected, it is therefore concluded that such a style is totally unsuited for ministering to the pure doctrine and simple worship which is professed and practised by the Unitarian church.
Though plausible, this objection admits of an easy reply. For, Ist, the circumstances under the influence of which the Pointed style arose, had no necessary or immediate connection with Popery or the See of Rome. The foundation of the plan for so many ages adopted for Christian churches, viz., the Roman Basilica, was originally selected simply from motives of convenience, and every change which the character of the churches subsequently underwent was called forth by considerations of either splendour of effect, or increased accommodation, or economy of material, or other wants, in which nothing like Papal influence can be traced. It is no doubt true that in all this we may recognize the immense influence of the Christian Priesthood. But we would ask, how could Christianity, even in its debased form, have ever taken root among the rude and ignorant populations of Europe, but for this same priesthood? And their subsequent abuse of this influence is only what perhaps any body of men would have allowed under similar circumstances. The grand and sublime, as well as the lowly and simple, qualities of this style, are (putting aside particularities not essential) undoubtedly not the property of any particular party, but of Catholic Christianity. They are the offspring of the sublime and ennobling truths and faith of the Gospel, stirring up in men's minds and hearts a burning desire to do their best, and consecrate their highest faculties to render God's Temples the most chaste, or the most imposing and sublime, structures in the power of man to erect.
Again, if this style had been peculiarly connected or congenial with Popery, we should expect to find it make its first appearance in Rome, where Papal influence would be the most powerful; or at least, even granting that it might have been accidentally invented elsewhere, still, on its introduction to the Christian capital, whither it would soon penetrate, we should expect it to be welcomed and brought into universal use. But instead of this, we find that not only was the style not invented in Rome, nor even in Italy, but that, when introduced into that country from abroad, the soil was so ungenial as not to allow it even to take root. It is a remarkable fact, that the chief Pointed buildings in Italy are the work of German and French architects ;* and though there are some fine Tuscan-Gothic buildings in
• Lord Lindsey's History of Christian Art, Vol. II. p. 32.
Italy, it happens, singularly enough, that these are not of an ecclesiastical, but of a civil class. The churches in this style are very inferior to their northern prototypes. Of all the ancient cities of Latin Europe, Rome is the only one in which a real “ Pointed” church cannot be found. The inner spirit and living idea of the style seems never to have been carried out or even comprehended.* Some remarks in an able article in the Quarterly Review are apt on this point:t-“St. Peter's and the Jesuits' churches at Rome are the proper types and representatives of Papal art; vast, brilliant, gaudy, full of pretension, appealing directly and servilely to the imagination, frittered into incongruous details, which it is vainly endeavoured to hold together by a composition rationalistic in reality, while it aspires to an assumption of religion; in fact, a republication of heathen architecture without its simplicity, and emblematic of a heathen mind, veiled under the garb of Christianity."
And, again, the falsity of the notion that the beauties of the Pointed style owed their origin to the Papal, and not to the Catholic spirit, "might be shewn at once by pointing out not only the natural connection between true Catholic principles and true taste in art; but the similar analogy between the pretensions, exaggerated fancies, appeals to human nature in its corrupt forms, and mixed incongruities of greatness and meanness, truth and falsehood in Popery, with the same characteristic defects in the architecture which grew up in Italy more immediately under the Papal influence, and which are found less and less prevalent in each country in the same proportion as it was free from the worst tendencies of that fearful usurpation.”I Another fact may be stated, more within our own immediate cognizance;—the present revival of the Pointed style did not originate in a Catholic country, or among the Roman Catholic body, but in Protestant England, and among Protestants.
2. Again, it is imagined by some that the churches in this style were built for a ritual not accordant with our simple ideas of worship, but consisting of a splendid and complicated ceremonial, long processions, &c. į and this may be very true in reference to the ancient cathedrals, but it is not true with regard to parish churches; for such processions as may have taken place in these were only such as might easily pass along the aisles of our modern churches. In fact, the floors of the ancient parish churches, in this country at least, were covered with fixed benches, just as completely as those of our own day, and the differences between the requirements of the ancient ritual and our own affect chiefly the chancel, but scarcely at all the body of the church. With regard to the internal pillars forming
* Lord Lindsey's History of Christian Art, Vol. II. p. 37.
* Ibid. p. 145.
an obstruction to the view, so far from their having any connection with the Roman Catholic ritual, a free and open interior would be full as important for it as for that of any Protestant church. And it may here be remarked by the way, that the proportion of sittings obscured by pillars (which of course are not required at all in very small churches) need not exceed from 1 in 36 to 1 in 20, according as there are one or two rows of pillars.
3. It is supposed by some that there are certain forms and ideas, essential features in this style, which represent and involve doctrines held by Unitarians to be erroneous. There is indeed in some minds a vague antipathy to the idea of embodying special doctrines by visible types, or what is usually understood by the term “symbolism.” Now, symbolism is of two. kinds, general and special; the first representing abstract qualities, such as Purity, Harmony; and the second, particular ideas, such as the doctrine of the Trinity for instance. To the former we cannot well imagine any solid objection, provided the qualities typified are of a proper kind. In fact, all, but more especially sacred, architecture is essentially symbolical, in this sense, for the abstract ideas of which it is the expression, can only be represented through the medium of sensible types. Architecture and Music differ in this respect from other fine arts, as Painting and Sculpture, which are expressive of definite ideas by means of direct imitation.
Now it is to be remarked that the qualities expressed in the Pointed style of architecture by general symbolism, such as truthfulness, purity, simplicity, verticality as indicative of heavenward aspiration, are admitted and approved by all Christians, and have no connection whatever with any particular forms of dogmatic belief.
With regard to the special symbolism contained in Pointed architecture, that is the exhibition of particular doctrines and ideas, it cannot be shewn that any one of these has had a real influence on the forms of which that architecture is made up. Particular features (not, however, essential to the style) may doubtless be found which strikingly set forth certain truths. Thus the ground-plan of some churches presents a cruciform shape; but even this, which is perhaps the most obvious instance which can be cited, is simply an expansion of the germ originally found in the plan of the Roman Basilica. · It is important to notice that, without exception, all those allusions which are obvious and indisputable, refer solely to doctrines and ideas, the truth and value of which are fully and freely admitted by the Unitarian, in common with all other Christians; whereas the supposed allusions to doctrines held by particular sects are not obvious, but, on the contrary, very obscure, and are actually repudiated by many who admit the truth of the doctrines themselves. In an Introductory Essay prefixed to the translation of the 1st Book of Durandus, by Messrs. J. M. Neale and B. Webb, the nature and extent of this particular symbolism is discussed and defended; and these gentlemen have, it may be presumed, here brought forward all the evidence they could adduce in its favour. The following analysis of the points maintained will enable us to see how far this aspect of the system is worthy of credence:
1. The doctrine of the Trinity is said to be typified in the following features of a church : 1. Nave and aisles. 2. Chancel, nave and apse. 3. Clerestory, triforium and pier arches. 4. Triple windows. 5. Altar steps. 6. Triplicity of mouldings. 7. Minor details. * Of these seven symbols of the Trinity, the two first existed quite as strongly marked in the Pagan Basilica as in the Christian Church, and were, in fact, thence derived ; the third was an almost inevitable consequence of the necessities of construction; the fourth belongs only to a very small proportion of ancient windows,-coupled windows, and those consisting of four, five, six and more lights, being quite as numerous as those of three; and, in the three last, the reference to the doctrine appears to be purely imaginary.
2. The doctrine of Regeneration is symbolized—1, by the octagonal form of fonts and piers; and, 2, by fishes. The octagon signifies regeneration, for the very cogent reason, that “as the old creation was complete in seven days, so the number next ensuing may well be significant of the new.”+ Fishes represent the same, because the Christian is born again of water. There is, however, in this, even if true, nothing repugnant to a Unitarian as such.
3. The doctrine of the Atonement is typified—1, by cruciformity; 2, deviation of orientation ; 3, double cross; 4, the great rood; 5, details. The symbolism, in some of these instances, is admitted at once; but the allusion is not to the Atonement main
tained by Trinitarians, but simply to the fact of the crucifixion, · believed by all Christians. The idea referred to in the second
item_viz., that the fact of the chancel (which represents our Saviour's head on the cross) being in some few churches slightly bent out of the direct line of the nave (which is his body), indicates the inclination of the head at the moment of death--will be considered by most as somewhat fanciful. The double cross, or second transept east of the main one, as it occurs at Canterbury, is said to signify the metropolitical dignity; but as it happens in some other cathedrals, it is simply a method of imparting greater dignity to the building.”S The great rood, as well as numerous ornamental crosses about the ancient churches, are of course instances of direct and intentional symbolism; but the
* Introductory Essay to Durandus on Symbolism, p. xv.
§ Ibid. p. Ixxxiii.