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Select Committee appointed by the House of Commons in 1824, respecting the buildings, &c. in New Palace Yard, in their Report to the Honourable House, voluntarily undertook to criticise the

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nion and criticism. + Reflecting on the oppressions and impe-
diments to which genius and talent have been often subjected
referring to the history of St. Paul's Cathedral — White-
hall Blenheim Somerset-House- the Courts, &c. at
Westminster, we are induced to view rather with astonishment
and admiration those buildings, than to suspect that the archi-
tects were deficient in science or ability.'
"The spirit of
enterprize is hovering over the land. we are living in the
'piping times of peace'- the country abounds in wealth-
men aspire to greater refinements and luxuries than formerly —
the population is progressively and largely augmenting and
our public and private buildings are increasing to an amazing
extent. If they do not advance in novelty and merit in a
ratio equal to their number, the cause may be referred to other
circumstances rather than to the profession. Committees sit in
judgment, differences of opinion prevail and obstinacy and
pertinacity too often overpower and paralyse good sense and
good taste. Hence the frequent censures that accompany our
new buildings: and hence new Churches and new Chapels are
raised without novelty, appropriation of style, or any ecclesiasti-
cal characteristic, except the figure of a cross. We have assem-
bly-houses, and theatres, ponderous, dull, and heavy; whilst our
Churches are made to imitate antient heathen temples. A
Committee of Taste is formed; but its sanative effects, in respect
to architectural improvements, we are yet to discover.
Let us
hope, that every gentleman who is enrolled in such a responsible
list, has produced qualifications for the office; and manifested,
on more than one occasion, a knowledge of art, a familiarity
with science, and a scrupulous faculty of discriminating all the

+"The architect, more than any other artist, is at the mercy of his personal employer, and of Committees. After making the most skilful and scientific plans, elevations, and sections, the result of much immediate study and long experience, he finds the whole disorganised or materially injured by the presumptuous interference of some person or persons in power, whose chief, or only qualification, arises from official influence, or length of purse. The architect's work, however, proceeds: his taste is impeached, and he too frequently stands stigmatized for imbecility and incapacity, when the fault has originated with others."



public edifices of the metropolis, and to impeach the judgment and taste of the architects. If their comments originate in strict impartiality, and are founded on the principles of good taste, it is hoped they will completely influence the national legislature, and thereby prevent a repetition of such events as have occurred at the Custom-House. Criticism coming from such authority demands respectful attention; but when it is known that some of the plans they have proposed, and advo

grades of excellence and beauty. England is not deficient in professional abilities, but many of the rich and influential are sadly deficient in architectural knowledge. Quacks are never employed by the wise, except by accident: but the weak and vain are frequently the dupes of professional pretensions.

"London is often the theme of reproach and invidious comparison by foreigners, on account of its public buildings; but this vast trading and wealthy city is contradistinguished from every other metropolis in the world; for here, the monarch's palace is scarcely superior, in magnitude and decoration, to some of the mansions of our nobles and private gentlemen; here, the public money is rarely expended on the parade of a public building, but rather on its utilities and essential requisites; here, every foot, and almost every inch of ground, is rated so high, that its owner is induced to appropriate it to wants and comforts rather than to luxuries and beauties. In examining the London buildings, and tracing their respective histories, we shall elucidate these facts, and imperceptibly develope many important and curious traits in the history of the country, and character of its people; we shall also trace the progress and fluctuations of science, taste, and the arts and these subjects cannot fail of affording gratification and interest to the enquiring mind.


"It is notorious that foreigners, in general, as well as country gentlemen, and even the great bulk of Londoners themselves know very little of the metropolian edifices. It is equally a fact, than no publication has hitherto appeared calculated to furnish satisfactory information." Preface to "Illustrations of the Public Buildings of London," Vol. I. 1825.

cated, were far from being elegant, chaste, or grand; and that they, like certain literary critics, are influenced by partiality and caprice, we must pause before we concede to them too much autho~ rity; we must endeavour to protect the professional artist from the insidious and illiberal attacks of travelled amateurs. Our honourable critics say—

"With regard to Public Buildings in general, this vast metropolis presents a much smaller number of those which can be denominated grand or ornamental, than its extent and opulence would induce a stranger to expect; for, it must be confessed, that with the exception of the two Cathedrals *, of three of the Stone Bridges over the Thames, and some very few other structures, it offers but little that deserves admiration; and it is further to be regretted, that this deficiency arises not so much from cost having been spared, as from good taste having been wanting. Large works have, in some instances, been undertaken hastily, and without due consideration; others have been committed to the persons who accidentally happened at the time to be attached as Surveyors to the several departments; but a general and superintending eye has always been wanting to pervade, direct, and control the whole.

"If a superintending and controlling power of this description should at any time be fortunate enough to meet with such a rare combination of talent, as might exhibit marks of original invention, united to a thorough knowledge of the principles by which

*Surely these honourable reporters cannot mistake an Abbey Church for a Cathedral; we do not understand what is meant by the above phrase, unless the Church of Westminster Abbey be considered as a Cathedral by those gentlemen.

the great masters of antient art conducted their works, we might expect to see symmetry, proportion, and dignity given to our public buildings, and an honourable competition successfully maintained, with all that is admirable and pre-eminent, either in antient or modern architecture.

"Your Committee cannot dismiss the matter referred to them, without endeavouring to impress upon the House the importance, in a national point of view, of paying more attention to the public edifices which may hereafter be required, than has been given to those already erected. In a period distinguished by its progress in improvements of so many kinds, fertile in inventions of such various descriptions, eminent in the encouragement of all the arts which are denominated liberal, and active in the diffusion of knowledge and the extension of science, it becomes a matter of wonder no less than of regret, that architecture has not kept pace with our other advances towards perfection, and that we are still obliged to look for examples of excellence in this art, either to times that are passed, or to other countries, rather than to our own.'


The new Post-Office, in St. Martin's-le-Grand, is fast approaching conclusion, and will constitute one of the most imposing public buildings of the city. Preparatory to the re-erection of the whole of the Blue-Coat School, or Christ's Hospital, in Newgate Street, a spacious and handsome Hall has been erected, from the designs of Mr. Shaw.

We cannot refrain from recommending to the marked attention of these Gentlemen, and more particularly to the Commissioners for Building New Churches, a very sensible and well-written" Letter addressed to John Soane, Esq." 1825; also" Hints and Observations on the Parks and Public Buildings of London," 1828,

A new Chapel, of novel design, being of an amphitheatrical form, has been recently completed, from the designs of W. Brooks, architect. It is seated near the Catholic Chapel, in Finsbury Circus. In this brief notice of the recent establishments and improvements of London, it would either betray an ignorance of the times, or an indifference to one of its most influential objects, were we to suffer the present State of Literature to pass unnoticed. In a subsequent part of this volume, the reader will find some remarks on the subject, and a copious list of the periodical publications. These, whether diurnal, hebdomadal, monthly, quarterly, or annual, are all distinguished by talent, though in various degrees, and are all calculated to improve the mental and moral faculties of the rising generation. Many of them abound with brilliant and profound essays; some are devoted to science exclusively-some to wit, humour, and satire-some to religion and morals-some to the ephemeral politics and prattle of the day; whilst another class, rendered very cheap in price, and of vast circulation, is adapted to amuse and inform the minds of those who occupy the humble stations of life, and are engaged in laborious occupations. With these auxiliaries to knowledge, we may firmly trust, that our population will improve both in wisdom and in morals, and that the metropolis will become as memorable for its Order and good Government, as it is already renowned for its elevated rank in Science and in the Arts.

If this cursory glance at London should awaken curiosity in the reader to investigate its history, in more minute detail-if he should wish to trace its growth its civil, religious, political, commercial, literary, and scientific characteristics at different epochs of time, he is referred to some of the best authorities, in the following list of publications:

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