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particular, are so apt to exhibit; but we must say, that the effect of its admirable freestone is most conspicuous in the purer taste and more manly character of building in the Scottish metropolis ; and that two hundred years hence, not only many more, but more perfect monuments of this age will be found within its walls, than in the vast circumference of London. Where will then be the long rows of pillared scenery which now adorn Regent Street, Hyde Park, the Strand, and Regent Park? Reduced to its stone edifices, how much will London have to exhibit? Even then, however, the simpler, less ornamented, and humbler edifices of Edinburgh will be flourishing in undiminished beauty ; and all the acquisitions of subsequent ages will be mingled with the structures of the present, to exhibit a united mass of architectural splendour. It is an easy matter for the citizens of London, revelling in their superior wealth and in the possession of the seat of government, to deride the fourteen columns, the fragment of a mighty undertaking, on the Calton Hill. Those fourteen columns, formed on the purest and chastest model, are the same benefit to the arts and public taste which the poems of Virgil or Homer are to literature ; they will exist, if not destroyed by external violence, for thousands of years, and be admired when the meretricious piles of London are reduced to heaps of their mother clay. Even now, they are the most imposing objects of the kind in Britain ; they impress strangers more than any modern edifice in the island ; and if the structure is completed, by the munificence of donations or bequests, on the same scale of primeval magnificence, it will give to the Scottish metropolis a distinction beyond what any capital in Europe can boast.
Much of the sublimity of this unfinished structure, as of its far-famed original on the Acropolis of Athens, is to be ascribed to the great blocks of stone of which it is composed. Those who have seen the gate of Agamemnon at Mycenæ, in Greece, or the Cyclopian walls of Volterra, in Italy, will be at no loss to appreciate the immense effect of such massive blocks in the production of architectural effect. It compensates in a degree which, a priori, could scarcely be credited, the deficiency of height or magnitude. Stonehenge, rising like the work of giants on the solitude of
Salisbury Plain, impresses the mind with a feeling of awe beyond any edifice in Britain : the monolithe obelisks and gateways of Luxor exceed in sublimity the tenfold bulk of York cathedral. This important element of effect is totally lost in stuccoed buildings, and not only is it lost, but the public taste, habituated to the overloaded ornament and varied style of which plastic work is susceptible, becomes insensible to the severe simplicity and imposing grandeur of earlier art.
The destruction of both houses of Parliament by fire has now afforded an opportunity of reconstructing those venerable halls on a scale suited to the riches and magnificence of the age, and in a style derived from our ancestors, adapted to the Gothic origin and time-worn buttresses of our constitution. Here, then, is an opportunity of redeeming the age from the obloquy to which it has become exposed from the gaudy attire and ephemeral character of its metropolitan edifices, and erecting at least one structure worthy of being placed beside the noble monuments of St Petersburg and
Paris, in the architectural race of the nineteenth century. Let us hope that the precious opportunity will not be lost of erecting an edifice entirely of stone, fire-proof, and worthy of being the palace of the constitution which its authors boast of as having effected so great an improvement on the old English government. Even democratic jealousy will hardly envy the grandeur of the reformed House of Commons; democratic stinginess will not grudge what is laid out on the sovereign palace of the people. Now, then, is the time to adopt a truly princely view of the subject; to erect a work on such a scale of durability as may defy alike the war of elements, the decay of time, and the madness of the people ; and by rearing one simple and majestic edifice in the metropolis
, gradually wean the public taste from that flimsy and overloaded style which has arisen in this country from accidental causes before the natural period of the corruption of taste
, and promises, if not checked, to deprive future ages of all the legacies which they should receive from the wealth, the
power, and the genius of the present.
[BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE, May 1845]
NEVER was there a juster observation than that, in ordinary times, in the same state, genius moves in a circle; originality is lost amidst imitation; we breathe thought not less than vital air. This is more especially the case in all those branches of opinion or philosophy which relate to internal economy, or the social concerns of men. There, it is not merely abstract principle or disinterested reasoning which have struck their roots into the human mind; interest, prejudice, passion, have moved it yet more deeply, and rendered the change from one set of opinions to another still more difficult. Universally it will be found, that in regard to the social concerns of men, which are so closely interwoven with our habits, interests, and affections, the transition from error to truth can rarely be accomplished by any intellect, how powerful soever, which has not imbibed, in part at least, the maxims of foreign states. New ideas, like lightning, are produced by the blending of two streams of thought, wafted from different ages or parts of the world. The French political revolution was brought about by the meeting of new-born French fervour with long-established English ideas : the Anglomania which immediately preceded that convulsion is the proof of it. The English social revolution has proceeded from the same cause; it is the junction of British practical habits with French speculative views which has produced the political economy of modern times; and the whole doctrines of free trade which Adam Smith matured, and recent times have reduced to practice, are to
Etudes des Sciences Sociales. Par J. C. SIMONDE DE SISMONDI. 3 Vols. Paris :
be found in the Physiocratie of Dupont de Nemours, and the political pamphlets of Turgot.
It was in the year 1775 that these doctrines, imported from France, were first broached in this country by the publication of the Wealth of Nations; and it took half a century for them to pass from the solitary meditation of the recluse to the cabinets of statesmen and the hustings of the populace. Now, however, this transformation of thought is general, at least in a considerable part of the mercantile and manufacturing portions of the community. Few in the great cities of the empire think of doubting the doctrines of free trade; fewer still
, if they doubt them, venture to give publicity to their opinions. The reason of this general concurrence among commercial men, and of this in social matters-rapid conversion of general thought, is to be found in the circumstance, that the new opinions fell in with the interests, or at least the immediate interests, of the leaders and influential men among the mercantile classes. The remainder, not understanding the subject, yielded by degrees to what they were told, by their superiors in wealth and intelligence, were incontrovertible propositions. Manufacturers who enjoyed the advantages of coal, ironstone, canals, railroads, and harbours at their doors, very readily embraced the doctrine that all restrictions on commercial intercourse were contrary to reason; and that all mankind, how destitute soever of these advantages themselves, could do nothing so wise as to admit all their goods without any protective duties whatever. Merchants widely engaged in mercantile speculations, who were buying and selling in all parts of the world, and whose interest it was to purchase as largely and as cheaply as possible, and to sell as extensively and as dearly as was consistent with that extent, had no difficulty in arriving at the conclusion that commerce should be left perfectly free, that all duties for the protection of native industry should be abolished, and that the only charges on the importation of goods should be the cost of transit and their own profits. Every shilling taken from the import duties was so much put in their pockets, either directly by their gaining the remitted duty, or by their indirectly feeling the benefit of it in the reduction of price and the widening of the market. Capitalists and bankers, who had vast sums to lend, found nothing so reasonable as that they should be permitted, without restraint, to exact any amount of usury they chose from the necessities, the folly, or the cupidity of their debtors. The opinion became general, that a nation could only be made rich by the same means as an individual manufacturer, and that the excess of money obtained for the produce of national labour above the cost of production, or the price paid, was the measure of national wealth.
Under the influence of these opinions, prohibitions, restrictions, and import duties gave way on all sides. To the huge mass of the ignorant vulgar, the very sound of “ abolition of restrictions” was delightful. Restraint was what they hated, exclusive privilege was their abomination, liberty of thought and action their supposed elysium. To abolish monopolies, incorporations, crafts, guildries, and statutes of apprenticeship, seemed a mighty step in the emancipation of the human race. Thus they cordially and universally joined in the cry for liberation from every sort of restriction, alike in thought, commerce, industry, and action, which had been first raised by the philosophers, and afterwards generally embraced by the capitalists and merchants. Amidst a chorus of congratulations, mutual applauses, and sanguine anticipations, with the cordial approbation of the political economists, the general concurrence of the merchants, and the loud shouts of the multitude, the doctrines of free trade were progressively applied to every part of the social body. Taxes upon imports have been diminished, till, on all save a few articles, they are now entirely removed; native industry has been exposed, with a very slender protection, to the competition of foreign states; the restraints on the exportation of machinery have been removed, to allow foreign nations every advantage in competing with us; punishment has been alleviated, till the penalty of death, save in cases of wilful murder, has become practically abolished. The liberty of the press has been pushed the length of allowing without control its utmost licentiousness; unbounded toleration permitted in matters of opinion, even so far as generally to proclaim impunity to the worst Chartist or Socialist doctrines ; combinations among workmen to raise their wages declared legal, and carried into practice on the