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can. I The origin of Architecture 25
stand on a different footing from the other arts and to originate, not in any impulse towards free and spontaneous expression, but in operations of use and necessity, the construction of the shelter and the defence. But it is by no means sufficient to explain architecture as the addition of artistic form and decoration to utilitarian structures. It is true, as we shall'see, that the artistic effect of architecture is intimately related to, though not always entirely dependent on, the considerations of use which furnish a sort of program of its operations, but at the same time the whole spirit of the art is opposed to the idea of complete subordination to utility. As a matter of fact, a glance at the early history of the art in Egypt, Babylonia and Greece, during those all-important periods when so many of its normal forms were being fixed for after-time, exhibits to us architecture as far more an art of free expression than a merely utilitarian craft. The buildings which in these remote periods gave architecture the character that it has ever since retained, were ‘not houses or ramparts, but Temples, Palaces and Tombs—structures far more for show than for utility, though serving at the same time (generally only in a part of them) a practical purpose. That characteristic of architecture which we express by the term ‘ monumental,” the dignity of imposing mass and rock-like stability, of awful height and far-extended breadth, is certainly not the part of it that can be due to considerations of use. The compact economical structure is the useful structure, but in spite of what some theorists may say our admiration is evoked rather by the majesty and grace of a building than by its fitness for its purpose. In other words monumental architecture is architecture proper; it has been so throughout the history of the art, and it was so from its earliest origin; for it is noteworthy that this monumental character of architecture appears in some of its most rudimentary manifestations which give in a measure the key to all its after development.
§ 18. The ideal character of the earliest permanent
Among the relics left by prehistoric man the grandest and the most mysterious are those huge monoliths or groups of monoliths known generally as ‘Rude Stone Monuments.’ Putting these apart, the existence of the cave-dwellers, the lake-dwellers, the hunters of the primeval forests, is only known to us by a few slight remnants here and there of bones or wrought implements and potsherds emerging from the drift-heaps; but these ‘ Menhirs’ and ‘Cromlechs’ and ‘Dolmens’ of imperishable stone, often sublime by their very size and weight, and pregnant with a meaning which to us must ever remain obscure—these are memorials of a very different stamp. Who reared them we know not. Some find in them so strong a family likeness, wherever they appear, that they are fain to regard them as the creation of one people or family of peoples and as belonging to one definite period in the remote history of humanity, while others look on them as marking merely a particular stage of nascent civilisation recurring at different times among different races in all parts of the globe.l Of their object we can only conjecture. They have been regarded as temples and as tombs, but as the tomb is of immeasurably greater antiquity than the temple, it is a far safer hypothesis to treat them as sepulchral, and in this case the Menhir (from Breton Méan, Men, ‘stone,’ and Hir, ‘long ’) would be a CHAPJ Rude Stone Monuments 27
1 See for these two divergent views respectively Du Cleuzion, La Creation 41: l'Homme, Paris, 1887, with the authors there referred to, and Sir john Lubbock, Pre-Hirtorit Times, 5th ed. Lond. 1890, p. 113 ff.
tombstone, the Cromlech (from Kroumm ‘curved’ and Lec’h ‘stone ’) a circular burying-place, the Dolmen (from Taol, To], ‘table’ and Méan, Men, ‘stone ’) 1—sometimes actually found in the heart of a mound or tumulus of earth— a funeral chamber, while the ‘alignement' or avenue of
upright stones bordering a causeway, as at Carnac in Brittany, would mark out an imposing approach to the abode of death (Figs. 3, 4). But whatever they are, their
makers were men of an extended vision that could embrace the distant future, men strong and determined to do a work that should endure. We cannot gaze up at these rugged memorials of hoariest antiquity without feeling them to be the expression of some great idea that once filled the minds of their creators. What if this idea was Immortality—that creed which formed the central point of the religion of Egypt—what if it were the first clear vision of this idea by mankind at large or by the different sections of mankind as each arrived at the necessary stage of culture, that was commemorated by these everlasting monuments reared over the perishable bodies of the dead, who would yet live on eternal as themselves! We need not speculate upon this hazardous though fascinating theme, for all which we want from these ‘ Rude Stone Monuments’ is (Evidence that at a very early date in the history of humanity men felt an impulse to embody the faith that was in them in some vast and enduring structure, a thing not for material use, but a witness to such spiritual conceptions as the Family Idea or the indestructibility of the human Intelligence. So out of the performance of funeral rites—a family celebration, and in the larger sense of the word a festival—proceeds the, desire for the permanent expression of the thought that filled every heart, and with the satisfaction of this desire, monumental architecture, and not only this, but monumental sculpture also are born.
519. Survival of the spirit of the earliest monuments in later Architecture and Sculpture.
For though, as we shall see, the Rude Stone Monument is not in a technical sense the beginning of architecture —this art owing its actual forms to other sources— and though as compared to the speaking image in a statue the rough stone is but dumbly symbolic, yet all great architecture, and all great sculpture too, borrow something of the spell that works here so potently. _ There is in fine sculpture an indescribable remoteness and dignity.
CHAP. I The Egyptian T emple 29
There is something megalithic, primeval, in the aspect of the noblest buildings of all times. Every architect worthy of the name will catch the same spirit. Give him an opportunity and allow him to create in freedom, and every architect worthy of the name will build for an idea, will build massively and build for ever, and a part not the least noble of this first of the arts will descend to it from the far-distant and unknown creators of Stonehenge and Carnac.
§2(). The festal character of early Architecture shown in the Egyptian Temple;
No illustration of the festal character of early architectural monuments is more apt for our purpose than the Egyptian temple. Nowhere do we see more clearly how little in these vast early structures was utilitarian in origin, how much was designed, carried out and adorned in the mood of ‘ play.’ The Egyptian temple (Fig. 5) comprised a whole collection of courts and halls and chambers open or secluded, and might cover altogether as much as ten acres of ground. It consisted however essentially of two parts, one simple and unpretending but clothed with the highest religious importance, the other unimportant in its religious aspect but imposing through material size and splendour. The.one part was made up of a stupendous portal itself approached between avenues of sculptured figures, of immense open courts (A) surrounded with colonnades, of pillared halls (B) vast enough in plan to take in a northern Cathedral, and of various chambers of a more secret and secluded aspect. These were all arranged on the long axis of the whole rectangular group of buildings, so that those who entered were invited to traverse them in a straight line towards the further end of the whole edifice. Here at last would have