As is well known, some of the working drawings of Cologne still exist : they were dispersed when the French plundered the archives; and the most valuable was found at Darmstadt, nailed upon

the door of a barn. The exact date also of the foundation is certain; but there has been much contest about the individuality of the architect, who is now supposed by some to have been a Gérard of St. l'rond, in Flanders, which would give the glory to Belgium. The Germans warmly contest for the honour. Yet, at all events, the very buildings tell you that in Germany the Gothic was of sudden introduction or creation. It starts up in the fullest maturity; and it is difficult to understand, how the workmen, who had hitherto been accustomed only to such vaulting and sculpture as that of St. Cunibert, could immediately turn their hands to the mathematical groining and lace-like delicacy of the Gothic style. To increase our perplexity, other recent German inquirers have maintained that the Gothic was the invention of Albertus Magnus. A fierce battle rages; but may there not be peace? Professor Kugler, we believe, mediates between the contending disputants, by assuming a species of partnership between a Gérard, whoever he might be, and Albertus de Groote; so that the cathedral would be a joint concern. We must not, however, allow ourselves to wander further in these speculations, but simply express our belief that the origin of Gothic architecture is not to be found in mortar or stone, or in line or rule, but that it was the expression, as it were, of what, in Exeter Hall phraseology, would be called the 'religious mind' of the thirteenth century.

Hugo, who dates his letters in 1839, complains—and then he might do so with justice—of the neglected and ruined appearance of the choir. By the extensive repairs in progress, and which, though not commenced by, have received the most effective impulse from the present King of Prussia, its aspect is now entirely changed, and we may begin to appreciate the wonderful talent with which the Master who planned the work was endued. It is all cast at one jet. You see one pervading idea, worked out in every portion; no one thing appearing as an after thought, though perhaps not introduced till a period long subsequent to the first foundation. The true spirit of Gothic architecture is that of living vegetation: it is the expansion of the vitality of the germ; and, where this vitality exists, each addition harmonizes as naturally with the portion upon which it is based, as the leaf does when it springs out of the branch, and as the flower does when it blooms amongst the verdure. However the building may spread and fructify, it is still one organic whole; and this is truly a transcendent excellence, which no other production of human art ever


acquired. The vast windows of the choir have been thoroughly cleaned and repaired. They now shine like gems; and the architectural lines delineated in the stained glass, the tabernacles and borders, bright as they are, still carry on the perfect unity of the stone filagree of the vast shrine : for the whole cathedral is one glorious shrine of boliness. The late repairs have brought to light many hitherto concealed frescoes on the walls, the character of which is beautifully in unison both with the painted glass and the architectural ornaments. They are, however, much damaged, and need entire restoration, which, if funds can be found, will be effected by some of the best artists of the Dusseldorf school. The statues of saints affixed to the columns have been restored, and coloured with great ability. Colour is as essential an element in Gothic architecture-nay, in all architecture-as form.

The completion of the cathedral is partly effected, or rather will be effected, by government grants-not so large as might be desired, considering the importance of the object and the equitable claims which the cathedral has upon the State—since, in truth, all the dominions of Prussia on the Rhine were Church property-and partly, as we hope and trust, by the more efficient means of the Dom-bau verein of Cologne, or Cathedral Association,'-a voluntary society, as its name imports; and which, confirmed by the aller höchste' cabinet order of the 8th of December, 1841, has its branches in most parts of Northern Germany, including also some in Swabia and Bavaria, who transmit their collections to the parent society. One of these affiliated associations has been formed at Paris ; and we hope that a Londner-verein will soon also arise, lending what assistance it can to the restoration and completion of one of the noblest monuments of Christian architecture. The sum needed, though large, is not enormous. The Regierungs baurath,' or head architect, Zwirner, who, we believe, is now on his

country, calculates the transepts and nave at 1,200,000 thalers; but we are surprised, and, we may add, grieved, to find that he proposes to omit, in the completion of the nave, the pinnacles and flying buttresses, which really form the chief beauty of the choir. This mutilation is suggested, in order to save 800,000 thalers, which they would cost. We earnestly hope that this pitiful economy

will not be allowed to inflict a permanent maim upon the building. The facade and towers are calculated at 3,000,000 thalers. Thus the sum of 5,000,000 thalers (to cover all expenses of stained glass, paintings, and ornaments, say 1,000,0001. sterling) would enable us to behold the temple in its full magnificence.


way to this

The foundations for the whole were well laid by the original architect : they have been examined, and found quite sound. Within ten years the whole gigantic structure could easily be completed. It is in the nature of things that against every good work there is raised up an enemy. Many objections are openly started against the plan, more are whispered, and endeavours made to freeze the liberality of the people. The ultra-Protestant shakes his head at the bounty which assists a Roman-Catholic temple; and the ultra-Romanist looks grim, and suspects that orthodoxy will flee from the edifice raised under the auspices of a Protestant king. Politicians will tell you that the national monument is a symptom of the deeply-laid scheme, by which all northern Germany is to be rendered a Prussian empire; and the French sneer and gibe, and are the willing prophets of the undertaking's utter failure. To every doubt, to every objection, no other answer is required' than the unfinished walls, and the character of the honest and pious Sovereign.

It is very instructive, with respect to this building, to trace the progress of opinion. In 1509 the works entirely ceased. It is hardly necessary to mention that this was the era of the greatest corruption of the members of the Western Church, when the Prelates had in fact secularised themselves; and the funds destined to the honour and glory of God were employed in pampering their vile vices or in aiding their ambition. "Look on the unfinished tower, crowned by the crane projecting idly in the air. The axle of the wheel is rusted, the timber decays, rooks nestle unmolested amongst the beams;—who could anticipate that it ever would be set to work again, still less that the order would be given by a Protestant prince? Thenceforward, so long as the electorate subsisted, the very little which the archbishop and chapter did was nothing but mischief. They whitewashed the walls, removed the stained glass in order to give more light to the building, demolished the baldacchino and the high altar, a masterpiece of ancient German art, and introduced decorations in the vilest and most corrupted French Pompadour style, the outward tokens of the total loss of the ancient religious and ecclesiastical feeling. Matters thus continued till the Revolution. Elector, Dean and Chapter, are scared away by the tricolor. Horses are stabled in the aisle ; heaps of forage stored in the choir. At this disastrous period the cathedral sustained so much of the damage which Victor Hugo laments; and, upon the accession of Napoleon, it was reported by its then bishop, Berdolet, as fast approaching to ruin. Napoleon refused the small sum of 40,000 francs, asked for the purpose of keeping the building up, and



there seemed no means of averting its destruction. At this juncture, Sulpice Boisserée, the artist, supported by Goethe, the Schlegels, and other men of letters, determined to endeavour to preserve at least a memorial of the building. He began his now well-known architectural work, which, for the first time, taught the German public to admire what they had hitherto neglected, contemned, or despised; and in 1816 the late King of Prussia directed surveys to be made of the structure, for the

purpose preserving the fragment by needful repairs. The first grant was made in 1824, and from that period up to 1841 the sum of 215,084 thalers has been issued from the Prussian treasury, showing how much remains to be supplied. This first impulse resulted from mere love of art and of antiquity. It was entirely secular and unsanctified; and the same spirit would have induced the elegant individuals who were the instruments to have craved aid for the temple of Theseus or the Parthenon. To this has succeeded the high and holy feeling which now actuates King and people; and, in the emphatic words by which the address of the association concludes, · Der ALLMAECHTiger Gott, zu dessen Preis und Ehre das Werk gerreichen soll, möge demselben seinen Segen verleihen! Unser Wahlspruch aber sei, Eintracht, Ausdauer.'

It is an old jest, that the pith of a lady's letter always lies in the postscript; and when you arrive at the conclusion of Victor Hugo's work, consisting of a spirited essay of 150 pages upon the political state of Europe froin the seventeenth century to the present time, you find that the whole intent of his correspondence is to show that the very stones on the left bank cry out · Il faut que la France reprenne le Rhin.' It is the creed of all the generation, that the loss of that same left bank was to France the loss of the right arm.

Hugo, who, as the newspapers say, is about to be created a peer of France, bestows his most unwilling praise upon the wisdom of the Congress of Vienna. He acknowledges that the AntiGallic diplomatists effected a chef-d'auvre of policy in bestowing the Rhenish provinces upon Prussia. By so doing, they placed, as he truly says, the advanced guard of the enemy within five days' march of Paris, and, as he forcibly expresses it, formed a perpetual ulcer in what had hitherto been the empire of Napoleon. Let Hugo speak out and speak on :

· Austria is on the decline ; Prussia, on the advance : a nation scarcely of yesterday, but which looks forward to the morrow for her future glories: her eagle, young and vigorous, will never abandon, if she can help it, what she has once seized within her grasp. Moreover, by this policy, wily England has separated the two nations who are to each


other the most congenial in their feelings. France is a nation of the mouvement; Prussia is a nation of the mourement. Both should be tending to the same end, both would work in the common cause of regeneration, Prussia in Germany, France in Europe, were it not for the antipathy raised by placing under the power of Prussia a territory which France must always covet, Prussia always jealously defend.- Le partage du Rhin, crée une haine. Brouiller la France avec l'Allemagne c'était quelque chose : brouiller la France avec la Prusse, c'était tout ; donner la rive gauche du Rhin à l'Allemagne, c'était une idée ; l'avoir donné à la Prusse, c'est un chef-d'œuvre de haine, de ruse, de discorde et de calamité.'

Yet, in rapid perspective, his imagination discovers an easy remedy. He will hold out a morsel to the black eagle, which shall tempt her to relax the grip of her talons :

* Hanover is separated from the British crown, and her speedy moral and physical extinction predicted. The house of Brunswick is struck with moral and physical imbecility. Let Prussia seize Hanover, and something more, such as Hamburgh, Oldenburgh, and other convenient arrondissements, so as to render the whole Baltic a Prussian shore ; and she may then cheerfully surrender the Rhine to France ! And so he runs on. That the lowest prejudices of the lowest of English factions against the King of Hanover, and his afflicted but admirable son, should be taken up by French rhapsodists -all this was to be expected !

Hugo nevertheless says some disagreeable truths. He stig. matises not too hardly—perhaps not hardly enough-the utter disregard with which the Congress of Vienna treated equally the rights of the smaller states and the feelings of the people. Instead of the natural divisions, which not unfrequently were conterminous with political boundaries, and the still more important lines traced out by habits, custoins, opinions, races, and, above all, by religion, you have now nothing but purely artificial demarcations. Here a black and white striped post shows you that you enter Prussia ; there a yellow and red striped post, Hesse; here a green and white striped post, Nassau ; there a yellow and black

post, Austria ; but no sense or reason in the formation of the frontier, except the arbitrary will and pleasure of a certain number of diplomatists, dividing amongst themselves, with a map of Europe outspread on the green-cloth table, the property which did not belong to them—a very convenient and pleasant employment; but when such a transaction is not diplomatical, folks, if the act concerns a sheep, or a horse, or a pig, or a purse, give it quite another name. Certainly, with all its weaknesses, errors, and incongruities, the constitution of the departed Roman Empire, the last phase of the Fourth Monarchy which we have seen come to


« ElőzőTovább »