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XII.—ARCHITECTURE AND PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS.
1. GENERAL PROGRESS :-ART AND BUILDINGS.
THE increasing difficulty which there is in noticing, adequately, the important works of the year-we might say the impossibility now, of presenting even a catalogue of names-is to ourselves really one of the best pieces of testimony that could be afforded, of the widelyextending growth of art and science in architecture and public improvements. It is true that there are causes for dissatisfaction about popular views on architectural art; there are cliques amongst professors and students; and researches and theories are sometimes directly productive of error, and only indirectly herald advancement. The real point of excellence, the ART, the design, the work of mind, is too frequently not detected by the public. And undoubtedly, the art of our time has not kept pace with the progress of mechanical invention and general science. Even in the very application of science to sanitary economy, it must, we fear, be allowed that some of the chief questions have not been cleared up; d that, with long arrears to be made good, yet with disaster waiting upon delay, the actual circumstances of the moment are not unalarming.
Still, we say, many works of merit, and others of great public necessity, have been accomplished-so many, that we can quote but a small number as illustrations of the state of art and science in relation to a subject, the general nature of which chiefly we would set forth; not, however, without the feeling of a new difficulty,—that which awaits every effort to grasp the character, or even many of the facts, of an existing time. However, a somewhat close observation of facts as they arise, and an attentive study of the later history of taste, we believe justifies a conclusion very different to that which is too frequently suggested in the tone of writers of a certain class. Without doubting the necessity in reference to art, for that institution of "police," to which critics are held to belong, it should never be assumed primarily that the object of the office is to "convict;" and it should never be forgotten that the real aim of art is to produce an effect upon the public, and that effect one of a pleasurable nature. The office of the judge is to be exercised without fear or favour, but we venture to think, that whoever approaches the responsible office in any other spirit than that which we here have in view, may succeed in weaving a tangled web of sophistry, but will not contribute to the advancement of art. Into such meshes it is easy to fall, where, as in art, the subtleties of thought får transcend the resources of language; and it is the more necessary for those who have pretensions, to guard against dogmatism, because this leads to imitation-until at length whenever a work of art is presented to one of the public, the emotion, which was the object, is found subordinate to the desire for showing off assumed knowledge.
Yet with all the sectarian prejudice which remains, we can discover the growth of a better era, in which the principles of taste which are becoming elucidated, the models of all ages and nations
which are dug up, and the great mechanical resources of the century, will each contribute to withdraw the last ground for detraction of our age as compared with any glorious epoch of art. Peradventure then, no architect will seek the teeming soil of Italy, and returning, print the boast that he systematically shut his eyes to any class of models, the work of men of high endowments, or at some time esteemed in Europe. Then the antiquarian ardour of our day will be valued only for its results; and the pursuit of Mediæval art, instead of remaining the abnegation of the powers of mind, will have given that which its revival came to effect, namely, not the imposition of its forms, but the correction of its better principles to a cycle of effete styles or undeveloped experiments. We may then avoid the two dangers, by one of which art-works in our time are often wrecked, the error imputed by one school, of forgetting the especial characteristic of architecture and its subordinate arts— the constant recognition of an use of the virtue of sincerity and truth, and the other error, that of mistaking for beauty the mere expression of use, forgetting that the mere beautiful is a legitimate and requisite object for attainment, and the "highest of utilities."
All this, however, we believe is being gradually brought about. If art be in arrear of the progress of science, the fact may be to the credit of the science rather than to the fault of art. New materials are invented before their distinctive physical properties are understood. Thus, whilst there is no law of art more irrefutable than that each material and process should be made to assume the form consistent with its distinctive advantages, the manufacturer, ignorant alike of the law and of the exact property of the material, puts the latter forth in the forms which are in good taste in other materials, but which in the new material betray weak points rather than its advantages. But we know of no feature which could be more hopeful in the works of the last few years, by educated architects—we might allude even to the last twelve months-than the steadily-growing conviction of the importance of this principle,-the real value and best use of the resources of the time; and the principle to which we have referred has only to be extended to articles of furniture and household use. Many of the evidences are to be observed in the more consistent treatment of decorative ironwork. In practical architecture, the material iron is effecting the most important changes. Áreas are now spanned over, which would hardly have been encountered with all the resources of scientific carpentry; and facilities for the admission of light can often be obtained, which are of great importance in a crowded city. Doubts have been raised, sometimes, as to the durability of boiler-plate girders, but the latter can be used for lengths of bearing where the adoption of cast-iron would have been the height of temerity. The value as regards internal convenience is obvious, if not also that to art, which should attend the possession of any new resource. But the greatest step which is being made is in the application of cement. It is becoming obvious that the proper artistic use of this material is not in the way of imitating masonry. The employment of brickwork for decorative effect, also is extending; and tiles and glazed bricks are
being introduced on many exteriors of a superior character of design. In staircase lights the use of large plates of glass is a resource of great value in such situations; whilst in decoration the material glass is being multiplied into a great number of new forms and colours. The love of decoration in interiors is extending; and the more important works manifest a growing recognition of sound principles, even if it must be allowed that the majority of others, and private houses especially, still show that much has to be learned there in the way of those principles, which, structural in their origin, should be ever found in what seeks to realize beauty in architecture, and which are the very acquisition of value which we say is gleaned from excursions into the arts of the middle ages.
2. SANITARY IMPROVEMENTS;-SEWERAGE-WATER SUPPLY— CEMETERIES, &c.
During the last Session of Parliament several acts were passed, which are of considerable importance, as to direct bearing upon the buildings and the architecture of the metropolis, and upon sanitary improvement. We refer to the new Buildings Act, the Act for the better Local Management of the Metropolis, the Nuisances Removal and Diseases Prevention Act, the House-Drainage Act, and the Labourers' Dwellings Act; whilst the instalment of legislation recognizing the principle of limited liability in partnership, tends towards the removal of what in many cases has been the only impediment to the extinction of the great social evil of the daythe state of dwellings in towns, and especially their condition in London.
Even with attentive perusal of the proceedings of the Commissioners, it is difficult to discover what is the position of the great question of London sewerage. We hear of works of one of the proposed intercepting sewers in progress; whilst the chief pointsthe outfall and the conversion of the sewage-remain wholly unsettled. The very question of sectional area is again matter for acrimonious debate. It is still a difficulty-if the Thames be made the final outlet-at what point the sewage should be ejected, to prevent a return with the tide; whilst, with regard to the other alternative, it is undecided what form the sewage could be converted into, and distributed in, without injury to health, and with pecuniary return. The real question as to value of sewage is not now its effects upon soils, or the special advantages of this description of manure in many cases; the question is as to cost of carriage, or distribution, over the extended tract of country required in the case of a great capital. But the need of some amended system of drainage is pressing and imperative, and during the summer months the noisome stench of the river has excited unusual attention. On the other hand, cumulative evidence continues to be afforded of the value of improved sanitary provisions where they have been effected. In Macclesfield, whilst during 7 years ending September, 1848, the mortality had been 33 per thousand, and in 5 years following, after certain measures were put in force, 29 per thousand, in
the year after the complete works had been carried out it fell to 25 per thousand. These facts, however, are of less importance than what were discovered as regards particular localities. The sewerage and paving of one street was followed by 60 per cent. less deaths, the sickness diminishing by 24 to 29 per cent.; whilst in streets not altered it remained as before. Crime and the use of spirituous liquors at the same time decreased. The case of Lambeth-square, where thirty-seven houses, previously visited by cholera and typhus, were, by the substitution of closets and drain-pipes for privies and cesspools, freed from the recurring typhus, and escaped the last visitation of cholera, though in an unhealthy district, where the disease ravaged surrounding streets, is a case which well deserves to be recollected.* One instance is given in The Builder, during the last year, in which the outlay of 51. each house, in improving the drainage of a block of houses, had raised the rent obtainable, 21. per house per annum; at the same time securing abundance of applicants, independent of the advantages attending diminished sickness, and consequent punctual payment of rent. Indeed, it is apparent that, in the case of dwellings with proper external and internal sanitary provisions, even increase of rent will leave a gain in material comfort to the tenants.
As regards measures of a somewhat different character for the sanitary improvement of the metropolis, there is ground for nearer approach to satisfaction. The whole of the water companies, except the Chelsea Company, were bound by the Act of 1852 to have their new works in operation in August 1855; and inquiry was to have been made of them in September last, what steps they had taken. Perhaps Sir Benjamin Hall's change of office may have allowed the matter to be lost sight of for a time, for we have not heard the result of such an application. A report, however, was presented to Parliament last April, from which and subsequent inquiry we are in possession of some important particulars. The Southwark and Vauxhall Company, in March 1855, were expecting to afford a supply within about two months of that time. From the new works at about a quarter of a mile above the village of Hampton, the main would extend to new works at Battersea,-a length of 23,000 yards. The Grand Junction Company, having their works of supply adjoining those of the last-named company, about the same time were expecting to supply by the middle of the next May. The main to the new deposit and filtering reservoir at Kew Bridge would be 13,000 yards in length. The West Middlesex Company, having their works at the same place, on March 8th had their 36-inch main, about 8 miles in length, all laid to the subsiding reservoirs and filter beds at Barnes, which, indeed, had been in operation for about nine months. The high level reservoir at Barrow Hill was being covered over (this has since been done, with hollow bricks), and an engine-house had been erected to supply the water into a reservoir at a still higher level. The sums paid by this company up to March,
*See "Results of Sanitary Improvement," &c., by Southwood Smith, M.D, 1854. Has the writer of this pamphlet received any proper return for his long and beneficial labours?
amounted to 126,2961. The buildings attached to the works of the three companies, above Hampton, are in the Italian style. They adjoin each other, and are similar in design; and each has a portion of building in the form of a tower. The mains-two mains of 36 inches, and one main of 33 inches diameter,-have been estimated as together capable of bringing 60,000,000 gallons in 24 hours, a volume of water set forth as equal to the contents of a river 30 feet wide, 3 feet deep, and flowing at the rate of a mile an hour. The mains of the West Middlesex, and Southwark and Vauxhall Companies, had to be passed under the Thames at Richmond. The operation was one of some importance, and was effected by forming three coffer-dams in succession, across the river.-The Lambeth Company, as mentioned last year, have had their works some time in operation. The works of the Chelsea Company, for which the supply is taken from the river, a little above Kingston, were reported in March, to be far advanced, and capable of being completed in the spring of 1856, an additional year being allotted in the case of this company. The Chelsea Company's mains have also to be brought across the Thames. In this case, we observe, the pipes are carried, from Putney to Fulham, over the level of the stream, a little above the old bridge. They are borne on piers formed by Mitchell's patent cast-iron screw piles. The New River Company having obtained the Act for the diversion of the sewage of Hertford, have been covering over their different reservoirs, and on March 7th were proceeding with works for filtering. At the date named, the company had expended more than 274,000l., and were providing for a further outlay of upwards of 200,000l. The East London Company derive their supply from the Lea, near Chingford, having diverted the drainage from the river up to 6 miles above the point of their former supply. They had completed and put to work 5 acres of filter beds in June 1854, and they have a covered aqueduct 21 miles in length, by which the filtered water is conveyed to the pumping establishment at Old Ford; and on the 1st March, they were covering over the reservoirs to be used there, forming a duplicate set of filter beds, and making duplicate connexions between the pumping-engines and the covered aqueducts. One large engine and a new set of mains had been completed, so as to serve the highest part of the district.-The Kent Waterworks, drawing their supply from the Ravensbourne, were mentioned in our last, as then completed. The Hampstead Company, in March 1855, were engaged in sinking the artesian well, which had then reached to 1,188 feet of depth. Having passed through the chalk stratum and the underlying gault, and having reached the beds of gres which constitute the upper portion of the green-sand formation, the Company were in daily expectation of reaching an abundant supply of water, and had their machinery in readiness.
There are, however, many who doubt whether the principle of river supply is that which should have been chosen, as in the most important cases above mentioned; and there are, indeed, some who go to the extent of believing that the withdrawal from the Thames of a volume of water so large as what may be estimated from the statement given as to three of the companies, will have, if it have not