صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

hand too many of our ordinary so-called Gothic churches are but slightly decorated barns devoid of symbolism or beauty. Again, the vast number of Catholics in England are Irish, yet the taste of the Irish people, although not a few Gothic churches have been built in Ireland of late years, has generally, I think, been shown in their preference of the classical or Italian style both in ecclesiastical and civil architecture. Now in which of the two styles, Gothic or Italian, is the altar more conspicuous, in the former, where, for the sake of the surpliced choir it is now recommended to have a deep chancel, and where the altar is, therefore, comparatively hidden, or in the latter, where the altar may either be placed at the end of the wide open sanctuary, and yet leave ample room for choir as well, or be brought forward to the entrance of the sanctuary—a still more conspicuous position-the choir being then seated behind it, as is often the case in many of the French churches that have apsidal terminations? The grandeur of the effect will be also considerably heightened, if the sanctuary be raised several feet from the nave. In churches which have domes, even if the high altar cannot be placed under the dome, but is erected at the end of the church, still it will form a far more conspicuous object, and yet allow more room for the choir than any Gothic church. Further, which of the two styles is the better adapted for paintings and images, which are found to be of so much value for the instruction of the poor and as aids to devotion? Of the Gothic style it has been well said, "that in its purest, most characteristic and most thorough development, the paintings go into the windows, and the sculpture into the sides, where the one is transparent [this is assuredly true of the modern Munich glass] and the other in durance; and where, in consequence, instead of vital and individualized works, they become only secondary, not on a level with the architecture, but quaint, cramped, and conventional." To me there seems a great deal of truth in these remarks, for certainly in buildings where painted glass, which forms one of the greatest charms of the Gothic style, is employed, paintings cannot be seen to advantage. So to with regard to images; if not, as is generally the case, constrained, archaic and unnatural, they are at any rate seldom welcomed by Gothic architecture-I am speaking of course of images for devotional purposes, not as mere ornaments-with the same freedom and cordiality as by the styles of Greece, or Rome, or Italy. Now, surely this is a drawback, for next to the Adorable Presence on the altar of the B. Sacrament, there is nothing which so contributes to the devotion of the faithful, as holy paintings and images of Our Lord, Our Lady and the Saints, paintings and images

introduced not as mere ornaments, but as objects of veneration.

I come now to what I confess is the most difficult part of my subject, the expense of Italian churches. The writer so often alluded to approves of a remark of Mr. Eastlake that, "since the Cardinal's death there has been a manifest existence of a desire amongst Roman Catholics to return to the Pointed architecture for their churches, schools, and convents; but unfortunately the demand for cheap showy buildings has not abated, and the consequence is that in this direction the artistic aspect of the Revival has not improved."* The writer himself lays the blame more on the employers than on the architects, and adds, "a cheap church may be a good church, but if so, it must be a plain church." Nothing can be more true; but a question here arises, which offers the greater attraction to the eye and heart, a cheap and plain Gothic, or a cheap and plain Italian church? The chief charm of Gothic architecture consists, as we have seen, in the beauty and intricacy, and symbolism and mystery of its details; but of this there can be but very little in a cheap plain church. It may be said that at least there will be the pointed arch; be it so, but then to some minds the round arch is more majestic than the pointed one, and quite as expressive. Is then a cheap plain Italian church more attractive to eye and heart and mind than a Gothic church which is also cheap and plain? That a plain Italian church -for one moment I set aside the question of cheapness-may be made such, I believe; and few, surely, who are familiar with Italian villages can fail to have noticed many such. The reason we have already seen; it is because in good Italian churches, even when quite unadorned, the eye is satisfied with the perfect proportion of the building, and stands in no need of minute details to gratify it, while heart and mind can well afford to forget the necessity of adornment when penetrated with the simplicity and unity of the whole. Add to this that in an Italian church, although the architecture may be plain, altars will always occupy a more conspicuous position, and a few really good paintings and images will have a better effect

* It is, no doubt, only the latter part of the sentence which is here approved of, for it is hardly correct to say that the return of English Catholics to Pointed architecture dates from the Cardinal's death. It began long before. The opening words of the sentence are also calculated to leave a false impression, as if the Cardinal had been opposed to Gothic. Far from this being the case, every one who knew him will bear witness that he had too large a mind not to admire what was beautiful in every style, although it may well be that, towards the end of his life especially, he showed a preference for Italian architecture.

than in a Gothic church of the same kind. But what about the cheapness? Italian architecture may be divided into three styles that of the Basilica, the Romanesque in its Lombardic form, and the Renaissance.


That either a Renaissance or a Lombardic church with a dome would be most expensive, must, I suppose, be conceded at once. It is evident, therefore, that such a church can only be built in England when there are ample funds for the purpose; but as we are at present engaged in building up the living temples of children's souls, we naturally have not so much to spend on raising material temples to God's honour. I confess, however, that I see no reason why we should not build cheap and plain Basilicas, and if the dome be omitted, cheap and plain Lombardic and Renaissance churches, yet at the same time noble and majestic. Of course, when more money can be spent, the nobler and more majestic they will be, and more attention can be paid to decoration. We will take the Basilica and the Lombardic styles together. instead of the flat or highly ornamented roof of these styles we adopt the open wooden roof-and instances of this, as I have said, are not wanting in Italy-there seems to me absolutely no reason why churches built in these styles should not be as cheap as the Gothic. In such buildings no massive supports are required either for dome or vault, while all the advantages attributed above to the Italian style would be secured. It may be said that neither a Basilica nor a Romanesque church is anything without either mosaics or paintings. That these add very much to their splendour and beauty cannot be denied, but still, until suitable decorations on a large scale can be added, churches built in these styles are not in any way more bare than cheap and plain Gothic churches.

With regard to churches built in the style of the Renaissance without domes, especially if they be without aisles, but only with side chapels, and with shallow transepts, the question of expense is more difficult to determine. We cannot argue from one or two instances, and further statistics are required. But even although more expensive, it may be safely said that not a few noble Renaissance buildings, even with domes and adorned with costly marbles, might have been built in England for the sums that have been expended over many of our Gothic churches.

Lastly, the broad open sanctuaries of Italian churches, of whatever style, seem best of all adapted for the solemn and due performance of the rites and ceremonies of the Church, above all in these times. In modern Italian churches,

especially, the sanctuary, in almost every instance, takes in the whole width of the nave, so that it can be seen by all. No small advantage, surely, for those who love to be present at the Church's more solemn services, above all at that most precious of modern privileges, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, for they are thus better enabled to realize that between the Holy Place and them there is no longer any veil. In Gothic churches, on the other hand, except in a very few instances, the sanctuary is generally narrow even when it is not deep-and now apparently there is a question of making them deeper. I know, indeed, that in many modern Italian churches the sanctuary, although always wide, is not as long as it might be; but that is merely a fault of internal arrangement, not of external construction, for I can hardly remember an instance where the sanctuary could not be prolonged so as to satisfy every requirement of the ritual.

In conclusion, it only remains for me to say that if I have proved but a sorry defender of the cause I have been advocating-nay, even if I have failed to make good my position-I may at least have succeeded in pointing out that there is in the Italian style an appropriateness and a symbolism, a beauty, a majesty, and a glory, which they little dream of, who see nothing good except in the architecture of the Middle Ages.

ART. VI.-IRISH PRIESTS AND LANDLORDS.* Letters signed "C" in the "Tablet" of Nov. 30, Dec. 7, and Dec. 14.

N our two preceding numbers, we have examined the facts

considered the due relation of Irish tenant voters, whether to their landlords on one hand or their priests on the other. Our excellent contemporary, the "Tablet," took the same view with ourselves on this grave question, and powerfully illustrated it in some leading articles. A reply to these however, as well as to our own, was published in its columns from a Catholic correspondent; and his three letters have induced us to say a few more words on the same theme.

* After this article had been sent to press, a supplementary, letter from "C." appeared in the "Tablet" of Dec. 28th. We have added therefore at the end a few comments on that supplementary letter.

[ocr errors]

So far as the writer occupies himself with extenuating, or rather defending, the misdeeds of the landlords at the Galway election, his argument proceeds on a standard of political morality, which we must designate as simply deplorable; nor do his statements need any other refutation, than that of being stripped from their disguise and nakedly set forth. This was in fact done by the Tablet," in its brilliant and crushing article of December 7th. In truth, how are you to treat a writer who calls it "absolute nonsense to say that the elector should vote according to his genuine convictions, and not at the dictation of his landlord ?* If a man chose to characterize as "absolute nonsense" the axiom that two and two make four, you would be really puzzled how to answer him; for what premiss could be more undeniably self-evident, than is the conclusion which he calls on you to prove? And the parallel fully applies to the case before us. But "C.'s" third letter is chiefly concerned with a different theme altogether; with deprecating the political intervention of priests on open questions, such as those concerning tenant-right. His arguments on this head appear to us weak in the extreme; but at all events they may fairly claim a distinct reply. We begin however with his attempted defence of the inculpated Galway landlords.

His first letter starts with an apparent implication, that "such English Catholics as may have an elementary acquaintance with Irish affairs" will see us us to have been importantly mistaken in our apprehension of the facts. Yet we have

received communications from persons whose whole life has been passed in Ireland, singling out for special praise the knowledge of Irish facts exhibited in our article. Nay our critic himself who has had "twenty-five years of intimate connection with Ireland," and has resided in the country for "from eighteen to twenty years,"-directly confirms our facts in every relevant particular. The allegation, which underlies the whole Keogh Judgment, and which is assumed as true by Englishmen in general, was, that the majority of Galway electors preferred Trench for their member, but were coerced into voting for Nolan by a ruthless and overbearing sacerdotal conspiracy. We replied by mentioning it as simply undeniable, that the tenant farmers-who constitute the vast majority of electors-were enthusiastic advocates of Nolan; and that the intervention of priests was exclusively for the purpose of stimulating them to defy landlord tyranny, and to vote according to their genuine convictions. This fact is

* "C.'s" expressions will be seen in the appendix to our article.

« السابقةمتابعة »