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than a mere house of worship, or an architectural ornament. It was the monument of his national pride keeping fresh in his memory the ancient glories of his people; in prosperity and adversity reminding him of the great Being who had conducted his fathers upon their weary pilgrimage in the cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night. In war, a glance at its fair proportions aroused him to new courage against the invaders of his country, even when overwhelmed in battle and surrounded by heaps of the dying.
Passing on among the nations of antiquity, we behold in like manner the most splendid productions of Grecian art everywhere consecrated to the popular deities. As we wander among the ruins of these lordly piles, we are carried back in imagination into far distant times, and placed in the midst of States which have long since crumbled away, and over which Time has thrown, so to speak, a mantle of ivy, rendering them doubly sacred and interesting. We are transported to a country beautiful in landscape, and grove, and placid river, under a sky of the deepest hue, and in a most genial and sunny climate. Around us rise up the thousand divinities who peopled this favored region,
“ The oak-crowned sisters, and their chaste-eyed queen,
Peeping from forth their alleys green.” Faun and dryad, god and goddess, nymph and siren, the Eternal Thunderer, and Phæbus of the silver bow, pass like some bright vision before our delightful fancy. The nation who originated this mythology are recalled to our minds ; that elegant people, the prevailing trait in whose character was a love of the beautiful, and all whose conceptions were breathed upon by the life-giving spirit of poetry, Their sages, their poets, their orators, sit at our side, and utter in our ears those burning words, which were divinely spoken in far antiquity. We love, in imagination, to clear away the rubbish which ages have thrown around their stately temples, their fountains and statues, their courts of law, their magnificent public and private edifices, and to picture them to our minds in all the freshness and beauty of youth. We are filled with a pleasing wonder at the busy crowd which wanders through the long porticoes and colonnades, now listening intently to the teacher of some new philosophy, and now drinking in the words of wis. dom which fall more sweetly than honey from the lips of some hoaryheaded sage. We are impressed with the deepest awe and solemnity as we stand by the Bema or pulpit of the orator, for we remember that there Demosthenes fired the hearts of his countrymen with lofty patriotism; and St. Paul spoke to the Athenians concerning the unknown God whom they ignorantly worshiped.
It is a fact worthy of notice, that every work of Architecture is in some measure an index of the character of the people who built it. Thus the temples of which I have been speaking, light, graceful, highly ornamented, are the conceptions of an elegant and refined nation, whose mythology was the most beautiful of all forms of paganism. On the other hand, the sacred Architecture of the Romans, which next claims our attention, was of a simple, stately, commanding order, and tells us of the grave and haughty nation who had conquered the world ; in the same manner as the words of their language, few in number, but long, sonorous, rolling as it were from the tongue, are the peculiar property of kings and orators. The latter were by nature a manly and warlike, rather than a luxurious and cultivated people ; while the Greek was reciting verses, passing criticisms upon paintings and statuary, or reclining gracefully by some marble fountain, the Roman was wading through rivers, traversing the everlasting snows of the Alps, and planting the standard of his country in the very heart of foreign nations. Thus was it in the days of the republic, which are also the days of their glory ; with the empire, luxury and effeminacy entered, and spread like some soul leprosy over camp and court, palace and hut, monarch and subject. Under their wasting influence all the virtue and simplicity of the ancient people departed, and the most unblushing vice and profligacy pervaded all ranks of society, until the Eternal City, which had been long tottering by her own weakness and enervation, sell an easy prey to the barbarous hordes of the North.
What a feeling of melancholy is apt to steal over us as we thus recall the history of the nations of antiquity, and reflect that they are gone forever-that all their pomp and splendor, like some brilliant phantasmagoria, have swept across the scene and passed away, leaving behind them gloom and desolation ! Every eye darkened, that once flashed with the fire of intellect within ; every hand palsied, that once moulded the marble into exquisite forms of life ; every head laid low, that once rose loftily in the pride of conscious virtue! Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, uno èv ĉis to undev, dust to dust. Where once towered stately cities, the ivy creeps over shattered arch and ruined column, and fragment of sculpture half buried in the earth ; where once were heard the highest strains of eloquence which human lips ever uttered, or upon the battlefield where the most heroic blood was shed, the traveler from a far distant country stands to sketch a dismantled ruin. Alas for that proud Capitol, the queen of nations and the mother of arts; the centre of refinement and the home of the scholar; the birthplace of liberty and the nurse of warlike valor; now the last stronghold of a base superstition. Alas for that Senate Chamber, now crumbled to decay, where once rose the proud form of the “man of Arpinum," the orator, the statesman, the patriot, and the sage ; one while, like some avenging Deity, hurling thunderbolts of indignation at the traitor Catiline, and anon turning, and in silvery and persuasive accents, discoursing sweetly of death and immortality, and the meeting of long-lost friends beyond the grave.
I have been led by these reflections far away from the subject upon which I am writing, and must therefore return to it, which I shall do by glancing briefly at the Ecclesiastical Architecture of the Middle Ages. As this were so mingled with the religion of the times that it may almost seem the offspring of it, I cannot better consider it than by a few words upon the nature and ceremonies of that religion.
The Holy Catholic Church! What visions of romance, and chivalry, and picturesque beauty, even amid its degrading superstitions, does this form of Christianity awaken in our minds ; how rich is it in legendary lore and historic associations! As we reflect upon it, we can almost carry ourselves back to the olden time of Merrie England, and place ourselves in imagination in the old Tabard hostelry, on the morning of the departure of Chaucer's Canterbury pilgrims. We can fancy ourselves in the midst of that motley assemblage, in every variety of rank and costume—the courteous and “very perfect gentle knight”the dignified and lady-like Prioress—the wealthy country Franklin-the meek-looking, self-denying " Parson of a town"-the mitred Abbot, well-fed and porily--the poor scholar from Oxford. We can see them as they come forth, with many a laugh, and jest, and pleasant tale, from the curiously-carved old gateway, and wind away in long procession on the road to Canterbury.
What a delightful feature in the character of that age were those times of high festival, when a spirit of warm and generous hospitality seemed to spread over every class in the community; when, for a season, the poor man forgot his poverty and the rich man his pride, and the hearts of both were united in a common flow of mirth and rejoicing. Ilow beautiful and appropriate were those ceremonies which the Church appointed for Christmas day-the day when the seraphic hymn, “ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men,” was sung by angel-voices over the plains of Bethlehem! How solemn and impressive must have been the midnight service which preceded it!
“ On Christmas eve the bells were rung,
I will not deny that there was much mingled with the old ceremonies of the yule clog and mistletoe, and with all the revelry and wassail of those times, which, by the refined and correct taste, must be considered intemperance and debauchery. Still, how much was there of hearty good-will, of profuse liberality; how much of real charity to the poor and destitute ; how much of hallowed association clustering about the very name of Christmas, and of devout thanksulness for its blessings !
Gloomy and morose indeed, therefore, must he have been, who, even with its attendant evils, would have wished to destroy its observance ; and as little to be envied were the man, who, in our time, would do away with this sacred festival, handed down to us from our fathers, and consecrated by the practice of the Christian Church in all ages. Let us preserve, therefore, the beautiful and touching custom of decorating our churches with evergreens at its return; not as an ordinance of religion, but as a touching symbol of the unperishing nature of the redemption begun upon it. Let us gather our friends and kindred around us, and giving largely of our abundance to those who are in want ; let us spend it in innocent mirth and hilarity, emblematic of the blessings conferred on mankind by the birth of our Lord.
Of the magnificence of the ceremonies of the Roman Catholic religion, we, who live in this age and country, can form no conception. If we judge of them from the wretched mummeries we sometimes see played off before an ignorant and gaping crowd, by a priest as ignorant as themselves, we are forming our opinions from a mere burlesque or caricature. To enter into their spirit and to understand the mystery of their wonderful power over the minds of men, we must fancy ourselves in some moss-grown cathedral, where richly-stained window throws a mellow light over nave and clustered pillar and statue of holy apostle, and reflects its own gorgeous colors in the tesselated floor. Above us rises the vaulted and fretted roof, rich in carving and Gothic tracery, and adorned with many an image of white-clad angel. Around us are assembled, not a congregation of vulgar Irish, but knights and barons, kings and crusaders, high dames and mighty earls. Upon such an occasion, the full peal of the majestic organ—the long procession of stoled priests, glittering with mitre and crosier, cross and censer, alb and dalmatique—the swelling upward from their deep, manly voices, of those solemn old Latin hymns, which, even in this remote age, are the delight of all lovers of music--the elevation of the consecrated Host—the kneeling of thousands in silent adoration of that sorrowful form which hung over the altar, sculptured in richest marble-how must all these have entranced the senses even of the most profane and irreligious, and awakened almost unearthly feelings in the bosom of the devout worshiper !
The use of painting and sculpture in churches, as an aid to devotion, has been condemned entirely by nine tenths of Protestant Christians. With all deference to the wisdom, the piety, the knowledge of human nature, of those who have advocated this opinion, I would still venture, for one, to dissent from it. The fine arts were mercifully given us to purify and elevate our nature, and how can they be more fitly employed than in illustrating those scenes and events among which the Saviour of the world lived and died ? Is there not a thrilling, an almost superhuman emotion, comes over us as we gaze upon some fine painting of the Crucifixion ? Does it not carry us back to the very time and place, and bring vividly before our minds all the terrors of that awful hourthe thick darkness settling slowly and gloomily down upon mountain and valley, vineyard and olive-grove, and casting a sable pall upon every tower and battlement of the Holy City—the tearing asunder of the everlasting rocks—the affrighted forms of the Roman soldiery, horror-struck at such unheard of prodigies—the torches throwing a flickering light upon the pale features of the Crucified, now convulsed in the last agony? I know it has been urged, that in contemplating such a picture, the attention of the beholder would be attracted, not so much to the objects represented, as to the beauty of the coloring, the skillful disposition of light and shade, or the correctness of the perspective. But when we listen to the burning eloquence of some good orator, do we pause to admire his dignity of gesture, his happy choice of words, or the aptness of his metaphors ?
The style of Architecture which the Roman Catholic Church has in general adopted, and which may not unfitly be called the medieval order, seems peculiarly appropriate to edifices of a sacred character. The very idea of it, as must be evident to all who have ever studied it, was caught from the interlacing of the branches of trees in the forests, which, as one of our own poets has remarked, were the first temples of the ALMIGHTY; and so beautifully has it been adapted to ecclesiastical uses, that every part of it is symbolical of some feature of our religion. Thus its solid masonry may denote the lasting nature of Christianity ; its spires and pinnacles remind us of its heavenward tendency ; its windows of stained glass shed a mellow light, emblematic of its softening and subduing influences; and the solemn grandeur of the whole may awaken appropriate ideas of Him for whose worship it were designed. It is the only order of Architecture which is in its purity adapted to this purpose, and which can be used for it without many ludicrous incongruities. There is certainly something calculated to inspire any feelings but solemn ones in a Grecian temple, with an organ loft at one end and a pulpit and reading-desk at the other; and we are surely excusable if we smile at a Corinthian colonnade, sustaining a gal lery for Sunday School children. If it be urged that the Gothic is too much associated in our minds with Popish ceremonies and superstitions, I would inquire, which is the most appropriate model for a Christian church, a building raised in honor of the Virgin Mary, or one consecrated to Venus ; a temple of St. John the Evangelist, or one of Jupiter Ammon?
I have endeavored thus far to state a few ideas which have struck me, upon the general subject of Ecclesiastical Architecture, and which I have thrown out very much as they happen to fall, and without attempting to arrange them in any very clear and logical manner. I shall conclude this essay with one or iwo hurried remarks upon its present condition in our own country.
It has been objected to us by strangers, that we have too little of romance and enthusiasm in our disposition ; that we are a sober, moneymaking, utilitarian people, living only for the actual wants, and caring little for the poetry of life. This perhaps arises unavoidably from the circumstances in which we are placed, being yet in our infancy, with every thing around us bustling and unsettled, and having nothing thus far which can be called ancient or venerable. But whatever be the reason of it, the fact is undeniable, and is in nothing more conspicuous that in our peculiar notions of Church Architecture. We seem to have none of those delightful and touching associations connected with a church which the people of older countries would have ; there is nothing particularly pleasant to us in kneeling before the same altar where our fathers knelt, or in being buried in the same grave-yard where their ashes rest. A church with us is nothing more than a comfortable two story building, with a platform at one end for the speaker, and seats cushjoned off for the choir, and a lecture-room underneath. In general, it