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very beautiful compositions, and possess an ease and charm in the euphony of the numbers which it would not be easy to imitate in translation. I know few madrigals more tender and expressive than the little piece beginning,
• Sti silenzii, sta verdura.”” " I was not aware before,” said Benedict, “ of what you mention relative to the difference between the Sicilian and Italian languages. I presume, therefore, that we are not to estimate the literary attainments of the Sicilians by what they have written in their own language so much as by what they have written in the Italian.”
“ Exactly so," replied the Nymph; " and the work which you now hold in your hand is an example in point. It is the best compendious view of the Fine Arts that has yet been published in any language ; and it possesses this curious and singular merit, that the author adduces authority and historical fact for every opinion he delivers. It is less, however, a work of genius than of erudition; for it offers little that can be called either new or original, while it contains the essence of all that has been written and said on the subject." ' i . . ." I remember having heard something of the work
before," said Benedict. - .“ Yes, I doubt not ; for a certain friend of yours has made a translation of the first discourse,” replied Egeria. “ It is not, however, a version of what the author has said, for he has not only here and there deviated from the text, but interwoven some of his own ideas on the subject, making it, in fact, more a theoretical disquisition than belongs to the historical
character of the original. I will read to you his essay."
THE FINE ARTS. « The fine arts are the study and delight of all po. lished nations. They disarm the spirit of man of its natural ferocity, and they elevate the mind while they soften the heart. Ignorance is but another name for barbarity, and the want of knowledge sharpens the appetite of violence. It was, indeed, a strange paradox. of Rousseau, to maintain that mankind were happier when they resembled wild beasts than with all the enjoyments of civilized life, and that the cultivation of their intellectual faculties had tended to degrade their virtues. There can be no virtue but what is founded on a comprehensive estimate of the effects of human actions; and an animal under the guidance of instinct cannot form any such estimate.
“ The chief object of science is the discovery of truth, and of art the development of beauty. In the former, we trust to reason, and in the latter to imagination. But judgment and fancy are of mutual assistance in both studies. Science clears the obstructions which impede the progress of art, and art adorns and smooths the path of science. No discovery is made without some previous conjectural effort of the mind, some exertion of the imagination ; nor is any beauty unfolded where there has not been some pre-consideration of probable effects, some exertion of the reasoning faculties. · “ As the human mind is pleased with the contempla- . * tion of what is true, and delighted with the appearance of what is beautiful, it may be assumed that the cultivation of science, and the improvement of art, originate in our love of pleasure. We commonly divide the objects of the two pursuits into distinct classes; and we
think, when we call scientific studies useful, and the productions of art only ornamental, that there is something intrinsically different in their respective natures. But if we examine our own feelings, and judge of science by its influence on ourselves, we shall be obliged to confess, that although less obviously, it is, in fact, as much recommended to us by the pleasures to which it ministers, as those arts that we regard as entirely devoted to the excitement of agreeable emotions.
“ Of all the arts, the art of building is that which most prominently attracts attention. Invented in the country, and brought to perfection in the town, it owes its origin, like every other human contrivance, to necessity. Man, naked at his birth, thrown upon the earth, exposed to the cold, the wet, and the heat, and to the concussion of other bodies, was constrained to seek artificial means of protection. The rain obliged him to fly for shelter to trees and caverns, the only habitations with which nature has provided her favourite; for, in the improvable faculties bestowed on his mind, she has furnished him with the means of constructing abodes suitable to himself and to the growth of his wants, as they increase by the improvement of his condition. The same instinct which led him to take refuge from the shower, taught him to prefer those trees of which the branches were most thickly interwoven,-and, when they were insufficient, to draw the boughs closer over his head. The process of reasoning from this experience, to the considerations which led him to form permanent bowers, requires no illustration.
“ Every hypothesis, framed to account for the various styles of architecture, ascribes them to the form of the structures first raised by the inhabitants of the countries in which they respectively originated. The aisles of the Gothic cathedral, and that rich foliage of carving with which its vaults are embowered, cannot be seen
without immediately suggesting the idea of a grove ;and in the structure of the Grecian temple, we may trace the characteristics of an edifice originally formed of trees hewn and pruned for the convenience of transportation ; for Grecee was not a woody country, like those northern regions which gave birth to Gothic architecture. In Egypt, where trees are still more rare than in Greece ; where, indeed, there is nothing that can be properly compared to our idea of a tree, we find the character of the architecture partaking of the features of what must have been the early habitations of a people necessitated by their inarborous climate, to make their permanent retreats and the sanctuaries of their gods in the hollows and caverns of the earth. The architecture which would arise among such a people we should expect to be dark, massy, and stupendous ; and, accord. ingly, we find in that of Egypt, and of other countries which resemble it in local circumstances, temples and labyrinths that rival in extent and intricacy the grottos of nature, and pyramids that emulate the everlasting hills in magnitude and durability. In the more oriental nations we find the same general principle, and in their permanent structures a similar resemblance to the features of what were probably the primeval habitation's of the natives. In the light and pavilion-like appearance of the Chinese buildings, we may see the heredi. tary indications of a people that formerly resided in tents, and such temporary abodes as were likely to be constructed by the inhabitants of a country abounding in extensive plains, and of a climate unfavourable to the growth of trees, and yet not so hot as to oblige the natives to seek shelter in natural or artificial exca. vations.
“ The first savage who, in the construction of his hut, united a degree of symmetry with solidity, must be regarded as the inventor of architecture. Multiplying improvements upon the first result of a combined... plan of the reason and imagination, after a series of errors and accidents, a code of rules came to be established, by which the art of building has since continued to be regulated. The study of these rules furnishes a knowledge of the science of architecture.
“ Although necessity was the mother of architecture, climate dictated the choice of materials employed in the construction of buildings, and chance directed the fancy of individuals in the selection of ornaments. History, in recording that Callimachus of Corinth was led to think of forming the Corinthian capital by observing the beautiful effect of a vase accidentally placed in the midst of a bunch of cellery, has furnished us with a fact which proves, although a natural law governs man in choosing the style of architecture, and climate prescribes to him the materials, that the peculiarities of individual genius, and not the effect of any general principle of taste, develops the beauties of ornament.
“ Taste is formed by the contemplation of works of art, and the perfection of art consists in exhibiting the greatest degree of beauty with the utmost possible resemblance to the natural models, Taste, therefore, does not instruct us to prefer, for any general reason, any one particular style of architecture to another, but only to observe and disapprove of deviations from what is natural.
“ Every pleasure, after enjoyment, occasions a new want. The shelter and protection obtained from archi. tecture incited man to seek enjoyments in the improvement of the art of building. When his corporeal necessities are supplied, the restlessness of his mind leads him to seek additional pleasures, by new modifications of the means which supplied his corporeal necessities. .“ In the Greek colonies of Asia Minor, architecture is supposed to have first attained excellence. At least the best authors on the history of the arts agree in stat