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To the adoption of the design, thus brought forward, it may be supposed there would be many objections raised by those concerned. The first was from part of the foundation being already begun; the next was to the lights from above; but the principal one was to removing the Apollo from its situation in one of the angles of the Cortile to a niche in that end of the gallery, a distance of about four or five feet. After this objection had been discussed for some time, Mr. Jenkins said be would give a bond for 40,000 crowns that no injury should happen to the statue in executing the design. Here, however, the project ended. It may be observed, that this very statue has since made a journey across the Alps and back, without having received any injury. As there had been some objection made to the skylights, to which the Italians were not much accustomed, Mr. Harrison made a model of the general form of the buildings, to show his friends the effect of the lights as far as could be done by a small model, which he left in Rome, and which may probably have given the idea of the circular room since built, connected with the court of the Belvidere and the Vatican library.
It was hinted to Mr. Harrison that this interference on his part might have had a prejudicial influence upon the decision of the professors of the academy of St. Luke, at the concurrence which took place some time afterwards, an account of which was written by the celebrated Piranesi, from which account the following are extracts: —
"The subject of the design to be made by the candidates in the first class of architecture was the embellishment of the entrance to Rome, called the Piazza di Santa Maria del Popolo, with liberty to alter the form of the square, and to remove the church and convent adjoining. There were four candidates, who, on the day appointed (April 27. 1773), made their proofs in presence of the academicians; after which the premiums were adjudged in the following manner: —Eight architects were assembled in the hall of the academy, on the walls of which were hung the designs of the candidates. These architects were Messrs. Navona, Gregorini, the Chevalier Piranesi, Giansimoni, Orlandi, Byres, Asprucci, and the Chevalier Nicoletti. The names being drawn from the urn, the first prize fell to a pupil of Giansimoni; there being five votes for him, two for Mr. Harrison, an Englishman, and one for Marini, another candidate. The Chevalier Piranesi and Mr. James Byres saw with great regret the result of the votes, and protested against proceeding to the decision of the second premium, as they did not consider that of the first as just. In their opinion, the second prize should have been given to Giansimoni's pupil, and the first to the Englishman. Piranesi being, however, earnestly entreated by the members to give his vote for the second prize, he at length threw in his vote for Marini, saying that he was determined not to give it to Harrison, the Englishman, because he justly deserved the first; and having been deprived of that, he did not consider him as any longer a candidate. Piranesi and Byres, incensed at so unjust a decision, said all in their power to induce the president to set it aside, but in vain. Mr. Harrison's cause was also warmly espoused by Mr. Jenkins, who laid the whole before the Pope, and obtained his Holiness's permission that the public should judge of the merit of Mr. Harrison's design, and that it should be exhibited, together with those which gained the premium, for three days, in the great hall of the Capitol.
"On the opening of the doors, a great crowd of people were assembled, curious to see the designs which had been thought worthy of the premiums, when a general murmur of disapprobation was heard through the room, all with one accord praising the Englishman's design, as far superior to those which had obtained the prizes; for Rome is ever ready to acknowledge the merit of all. There were also a number of foreigners pursuing their studies at Rome, — French, Spaniards, Danes, Swedes, and others, — who all united with the Romans in praise of Harrison and censure of the judges; at the same time commending the justice of the Pope, the noble Clement XIV., who had commanded the public exhibition of the design, notwithstanding the opposition of the
Academy. He might also, by his absolute power, have commanded that the premium should be given to Harrison; but he thought proper to make the public the judge of his merits, and thus bestowed upon him the highest of all premiums, and a reward beyond his utmost wishes."
Subsequently, the Pope was graciously pleased to admit Mr. Harrison to an audience, and to present him with two medals ; the one of gold, the other of silver. Being convinced of the injustice the Academy had done Mr. Harrison, his Holiness was pleased, by the following rescript, to direct the said Academy to elect him a member thereof: —
"The public having joined in an universal approbation of the drawing of Thomas Harrison, the English architect, exhibited in the capitol on the occasion of the late concurrence, and his Holiness being desirous of giving Mr. Harrison a testimony of his approbation, orders the Prince of St. Luke's Academy to elect the said Thomas Harrison an Academic of Merit in the said Academy."
It can scarcely be necessary to add, that the commands of the Pope were immediately complied with, to the universal satisfaction of every impartial and disinterested judge.
Upon leaving Rome, Mr. Harrison travelled through a part of Italy and France, and returned to England in the year 1770.
The first building of consequence he designed after his return from Rome was a bridge of five arches over the Lune, at Lancaster. This was the first level bridge ever erected; the first stone was laid the 23d of George III. (1783). The following is an extract from a letter written by a gentleman of Lancaster during the progress of the work: —
"Last week, upon striking the centres which were placed under the first arch of the bridge now building at Lancaster, the appearance thereof became truly beautiful; and, notwithstanding the magnitude of the stones that compose this arch, its apparent lightness surprised every spectator; for which, as well as for taste and elegance, and for the workmanlike manner in which it is executed by the undertakers, it is equally admirable. Indeed, it reflects the greatest credit upon the ingenious planner and architect, Mr. Harrison, whose excellent and accurate drawings, and also his continued care and attention in superintending this useful and noble bridge (a building which, when completed, will do honour to the county) merit the highest praise."
About the same time (1780) Mr. Harrison exhibited, in the Society of Artists' room, a design for a bridge in the situation of the present Waterloo Bridge. The arches were of equal dimensions, and, consequently, level upon the road. It was called a Triumphal Naval Bridge, under the idea that nothing could be more appropriate than such a noble and useful structure as a bridge in this central situation, to record our naval victories, for which purpose a naval column was at that time talked of. It was consequently more ornamented than would be proper, except with such an intention. There were rostral Doric columns against the centre of every pier connected with the wall, and rising from the top of the semicircular ends of the piers as high as the balustrade, or above it; so that the upper part of the columns formed pedestals to the road for statues of victorious Admirals, sufficiently elevated to be out of the reach of injury.
Having settled at Lancaster, Mr. Harrison designed and executed the extensive improvements and alterations in the castle at that place; and afterwards gained a premium, and was appointed architect, for rebuilding the gaol and county courts at Chester. This building, which is in the Grecian style of architecture, is noticed in the following manner by M. Dupin, in his account of England : —
"The sessions' house and the panoptic prison of Chester are united in the same building, which, most assuredly, is the handsomest of this kind that is to be seen in Europe. The interior arrangements are well contrived, and bespeak much regard for humanity: the architecture is equally simple and majestic."
The armoury and the exchequer buildings, which form the east and west wings of the superb county hall at Chester, as also the chaste and unexampled propylea, or gateway, before it, were built after designs furnished by Mr. Harrison; and the new bridge across the Dee, now in progress, which is to be formed of one arch of two hundred feet span, is also from his design, a model of which may be seen in the grand juryroom in Chester Castle. This extraordinary piece of architecture, when completed, will have no parallel in Europe, the largest arch known to exist being twenty-five feet span below its dimensions. In short, it is to his fertile genius the city of Chester is indebted for all the splendid improvements in the immediate vicinage'.of its Castle.
In the report of the deputation from the city of London, appointed to visit the principal gaols in England, for the purpose of improving those of the metropolis, the gaol of the Castle of Chester is distinguished by being said to be "in every respect one of the best constructed gaols in the kingdom." The deputation consisted of four aldermen, accompanied by the town-clerk, and Mr. Dance, the city architect; their report has since been published by an order of the Court of Aldermen, and presented to the different counties, &c. the gaols of which they visited.
The following encomium by Cumberland (Observer, vol. ir. p. 12.), written forty or fifty years ago, is a flattering testimonial of the high repute in which Mr. Harrison was then held, and may be appositely quoted upon the present occasion : —
"I reserve the mention of her (England's) architects, as a separate class, that I may for once break in upon my general rule, by indulging myself in a prediction (upon which I am willing to stake all my credit with the reader), that when the modest genius of a Harrison shall be brought into fuller display, England will have to boast of a native architect which the brightest age of Greece would glory to acknowledge."
England is indebted to Mr. Harrison for the possession of those valuable antiquities now known by the name of the Elgin marbles. When the Earl of Elgin was appointed ambassador to the Porte, in 1799, Mr. Harrison, who was at