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over a land, long fallen from its ancient greatness. If ever those rich scenes which the luxuriant fancy of eastern novelists and poets has depicted—their palaces of boundless magnificence—their halls studded with gems and gold—and their temples of matchless architecture, have been realized, it was in the buildings of Grenada and Cordova. The monarchs of Moorish Spain possessed an annual tribute which surpassed the united revenues of the Christian princes. They erected mosques, they constructed aqueducts, they collected poets and philosophers around them, they established schools for the cultivation of music and the arts, and the wisest Christian monarchs listened to the language of science from the sages of their court. Pursuing too their light and elegant taste in architecture, they seem to have led the way in that rich and animating style, which, under the name of Gothic, was soon extended through Europe. In the magnificent ruins of the Alhambra which yet exist, the curious traveller sees rising amid parterres of flowers and groves of .orange trees, thin and clustered columns supporting lofty arches terminating in a point; he beholds long rows of open cloisters, ornamented with pious inscriptions, with painted and gilded ceilings whose colours are yet vivid, and with mosaic disposed in fantastic knots and festoons; and he finds in the variety of foliages, grotesques and exquisitely handled frost work around the arches, the origin of those bolder ramifications which mark the general architecture of the middle ages.
Although this, however, may be fairly assigned as the model of Gothic architecture, we must search for a deeper cause to account for the universal deviation, which was made at this period, from the plan of the ancient temples. It will be found in the change from the Pagan to the Christian worship. In the practice of the first, the great essence consisted of sacrifices on open altars, in groves, or in porches before the entrance of the temples; but the interior of the temples themselves consisted of dark and lonely chambers, in which the statues of the gods were taught by the magic or machinery of priests, to exhibit to the admitted few, their wildly rolling eyes and mysterious responses. But when the blessings of a milder religion were unfolded to men, they collected to hear the words of eternal truth dispensed to all alike, and the large and simple congregation required an expanse to collect in, and chant the praises of their Maker. At first, power and persecution compelled them to resort to secret caves and sepulchres, the halls which vanity had formed for the dead. But the free exercise of their worship soon expanded the recesses of the temples into new forms—the size which suited their increasing numbers, and the loftiness which corresponded with it. The Grecian pillar, adapted to edifices of another nature, was then swelled into an unwieldy shape,
and the first Gothic buildings arose with an utter neglect of those proportions which had been established in Greece, till the Arab or Saracenic taste introduced new beauties, and gave to forms of the utmost strength and solidity, its inimitable and magical effect.
As yet, so little of what is termed Gothic has been realized in our new country, that I may perhaps be pardoned for an attempt to convey a faint idea of its beauties. Let us figure to ourselves a lofty aisle, like the vista of a forest, the branches of whose trees spreading at a vast height meet together above, and form, by the spray of their limbs, an impenetrable arch of intermingled filligree. In the area below, the dim light admitted through the clustered columns, is interrupted only by groups of statues, or monumental marbles, and the end is closed by a vast and lofty window of stained or painted glass, whose varied hues present the magic beauty of the kaleidoscope. If, in the midst of these, some swelling organ throws its solemn tones through the scene around, we · shall have some idea of that inexpressible union of gloom and beauty, which constitutes the full effect of Gothic art, and a faint picture of that architecture which first arising from the neglect of Grecian rules, was perfected by the Saracens, and adopted through Christian Europe, for the halls of its kings and the temples of its devotion. It is this we still view in the vast structures of Grenada or of Rheims, but above all in England, where the
union of wealth and piety, carried the Gothic architecture to that high perfection which is still exhibited in the cathedrals of York and Westminster.
From this sketch of Gothic architecture, we turn again to the revival of classic taste. In the resurrection of learning, to use the words of Mr. Gibbon, Italy was the first to throw off the shroud, and the genius of Petrarch was the harbinger of the day-led by his hand, the sister arts again walked forth into light, and we may picture to ourselves the fair procession, resuming the task of instructing mankind. Already the patrons to foster and the halls to receive them were prepared—not, indeed, in the palaces of kings, or the castles of nobles—but amid the shades of private life and the associations of commerce. A family of merchants, grown rich by the manufactures of their country, and the voyages to carry them abroad, had imbibed the tastes of various climates, and devoted their wealth to introduce them to their country. That country, grateful for their munificence, bestowed on them the meed of power, and another generation saw the merchants De Medici, at once the presiding magistrates of Tuscany, the tenants of the Roman throne, and the universal patrons of every liberal
See every Muse, in Leo's golden days,
Rome's ancient genius, o'er its ruins spread,
The age of Leo is so much connected with the name of Mr. Roscoe, and that name itself so allied to the Arts, that I am sure I shall be indulged in a digression, which indeed it would be improper to omit in their history. The principal of a small but brilliant constellation of men of letters, who have long distinguished the town of Liverpool, Mr. Roscoe has performed for the present age, much of what the Medici did before; that is, he has revived a familiarity with them and the Arts they protected, by his admirable histories and his late edition of the most harmonious poet in the English language, from whom we have just borrowed a quotation, and who has given the best eulogium of the Arts and of the Medici which verse can comprehend; but beyond this, Mr. Roscoe's own poems, his researches in ancient and modern literature, and his taste in sculpture, and painting, have given him a preeminent rank in the elegant arts, and he may be considered as the father of those institutions, which, first in the instance of the Liverpool Athenæum, have done more than all other circumstances for the association of taste and commerce, and uniting the habits of a busy city with the pursuit of letters.
It is extremely difficult to determine which, in the