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in justice to have vindicated, than, by challenging it too late, incur the jealousy of being a plagiary."
Whilst at Oxford he was employed by the king to make drawings of the animalcula seen by a microscope, as we have before noticed; and a model of the lunar globe as seen by the best telescope of the times, was constructed by him, representing the spots and various degrees of whiteness on the moon's surface, with the hills, eminences, and cavities , the whole contrived so that by turning it round to the light it showed all the lunar phases, with the various appearances that arise from the shadows of the mountains and valleys. This was afterwards placed in the king's cabinet.
Nor were the Muses neglected by Wren; his pursuits in this kind are alluded to by his correspondent the Bishop of Rochester, who compliments him on some translations of Horace, observing: " You have admirably well hit his genius, your verse is harmonious, your philosophy very instructive for life, your liberty in translating enough to make it seem to be an English original, and yet not so much but that the mind of the author is still religiously observed." Not much faith is to be given to the encomiums of friends in literary confidences, but from this it may fairly be inferred, that Wren must have at least surpassed mediocrity.
In 1662 his Prelectiones Astronomical were published at the Oxford press. Dr. Isaac Barrow, who succeeded Rooke as professor of geometry at Gresham College, in his inaugural address, pronounces a very elegant encomium upon the merits of Wren, into which he enters largely; describing him as being one of the earliest promise, and the fullest performance, of any genius of his time.
In 1675, the Bishop of Rochester dedicated to Wren his observations on Mons. de Sorbiere's Voyage toEngland; and Hooke, in the preface to his Micrographia, states, that although he was at first induced to undertake the work at the suggestion of Bishop Wilkins, yet he commenced it with reluctance, because he had to follow the footsteps of so eminent a person as Dr. Wren, who was the first that attempted any thing of this nature, and whose original draughts make one of the ornaments of the great collection of rarities in the king's closet J
adding, " I must affirm of him, that since the time of Archimedes there scarce ever met in one man so great a perfection, such a mechanical head, and 'o philosophical a mind."'—He is also noticed with great honour by Newton in his Principia, in conjunction with Wallis and Huygens, as among the first mathematicians of the age.
Perhaps the whole history of literary and scientific men does not afford an example of one held in more high and general estimation than this highly gifted individual. His contemporaries appear willing and eager to testify both their admiration of his genius, and their esteem for that unreservedness and candour which prevailed throughout his intercourse with his associates. The history of his career is stained by none of those bickerings, those paltry struggles for priority or fame, so frequent in the lives of others of his time, who were as conspicuous for the weakness of their feelings as for the greatness of their minds. None of their bad passions appear ever to have darkened Wren's thoughts, or disturbed the even tenour of his course, directed as it was to the advancement of his favourite art, and the attainment of all that was useful in science. Neither could he be said to be afflicted with the credulity or vain pretensions which marked many of those who lived in the same age.
In 1665 he went to Paris, for the purpose of studying all the principal buildings, and the various inventions in the different branches of mechanics. From thence he intended to pass on into Italy, for the purpose of studying Vitruvius amidst the great remains of antiquity. While at Paris the Louvre was in progress, 1000 hands being daily employedon the works: some in laying its mighty foundations; some in raising the different columns and entablatures, composed of vast stones, by great and useful engines; others in carving, inlaying marbles, plastering, painting, gilding, which altogether formed, in the opinion of Wren, a school of architecture the best at that day in Europe. It was here he saw those great masters of the art, Bernini and Mansard. His few observations on the buildings of France have a peculiar relish and interest. "Fontainbleau (he remarks in one of his letters) has a stately wildness, and vastness, suitable to the desert in which it stands; the antique mass ot the Castle of St. Germain's, and the hanging gardens are delightfully surprising, (I mean to any man of judgment,) for the pleasures below vanish away in the breath that is spent in ascending.—The Palace, or if you please to call it, the Cabinet of Versailles, called me twice to see it; the mixture of brick and stone, blue tile and gold, make it look like a rich livery. Not an inch within but is crowded with little curiosities of ornament. The women, as they make here the language and the fashions, and meddle with politics and philosophy, so they sway also in architecture; works of filigree, and little trinkets, are in great vogue, but building ought certainly to have the attribute of eternal, and therefore to be the only thing incapable of new fashions."
After enumerating many other buildings, he adds, "all of which I have surveyed, and that I might not lose the impression of them I shall bring you almost all France on paper, which I have found by some or other ready designed, and on which I have spent both labour and some money. Bernini's design of the Louvre I would have given my skin for; but the old reserved Italian gave me but a few minutes' view. It was a fine little draught on five pieces of paper, for which he had received as many thousand pistoles. I had only time to copy it out by fancy and memory, and I shall be able, by discourse and a crayon, to give you a tolerable account of it." In one of his letters he notices having on the anvil, "Observations on the present state of architecture, arts, and manufactures in France," which, however, unfortunately were never completed.
Wren returned in the beginning of 1666, and it does not appear that he carried into execution ms project of visiting Italy.
Soon after the restoration, Charles II. contemplated the repair of the Cathedral of St. Paul's, which had become
• Never, perhaps, was so complete a failure as the mas* of incongruities at Versailles, and never such a profuse squandering of treasure and even of life. DuUure, in his " History of Paris," states the expenses (including the moving of hills, and the various other projects) at the inrrediUe sum of forty eight millions sterling; from twenty-two to thirtysix thousand labourers were constantly employed on the works. A camp was formed for the workmen near the spot, the limits of which were strictly guarded ; and it was criminal even to notice the vast waste of life in the soldiers employed, 10,000 of whom are said to have fallen victims to excess of fatigue, and to an epidemic disease caused by the fxLalation• from the swampy ground.
dilapidated during the commonwealth; its revenues having been confiscated, and the choir converted into horse barracks by Cromwell. In 1660 a commission was issued (in which Wren was named) to superintend the restoration. He was long employed in considering the best mode of effecting this. The cathedral had been partly repaired by Inigo Jones, by the addition of a beautiful Corinthian portico at the west end, not however in character with the style of the building. Wren proposed to rebuild the steeple with a cupola; a form of Church building, Evelyn observes, not then known in England, but which was of wonderful grace. This project was at once defeated by the desolating fire of 1666, which, destroying the greater part of the city, so injured the cathedral as to make its restoration impossible; and to this the scaffolding, which had been put up for the repairs, mainly contributed.
Evelyn alludes to the attempt to repair St. Paul's, in his dedication to Wren of his Account of Architects and Architecture." I have named St. Paul's, and truly not without admiration as oft as I recall to mind, as I frequently do, the sad and deplorable condition it was in: when, after it had been made a stable for horses, and a den of thieves, you, with other gentlemen and myself were by the late King Charles named to survey the dilapidations, and made report to His Majesty in order to a speedy reparation; you will not, as I am sure, forget the struggle we had with some who were for patching it up any how, so the steeple might stand instead of new building; when, to put an end to the contest, five days after, that dreadful conflagration happened, out of whose ashes this phoenix is arisen, and was by providence designed for you."
That which produced so much individual misery, afforded (as Sir Richard Steele observes) the greatest occasion that ever builder had to render his name immortal, and his person venerable. A whole city at once laid waste was an opportunity for the display of inventive genius, which had never before been given to any architect; but the selfishness of individuals, their disputes, and intrigues, and conflicting interests, prevented Wren from carrying his great design for the restoration of the metropolis into effect. And though many of the narrow lanes and confined spaces of the old city were removed, still none of his views were adopted. As soon as the fire was subdued, whilst the ashes were yet alive, he was on the ground, considering his plan for the restoration of the city. He proposed one main street from Aldgate to Temple Bar, in the middle of which was to have been a large square capable of containing the new church of St. Paul, with a proper distance for the view all round; the parish churches were to be rebuilt so as to be seen at the end of every vista of houses, and dispersed at sufficient distances from each other; four piazzas were designed at proper distances; and lastly, the houses were to be uniform, surrounded by arcades, like those in Covent Garden; while by the waterside, a large quay was to run, along which were to be ranged the halls belonging to the several companies, with warehouses and other appropriate mercantile buildings. If such a plan (modified in some degree) had been effected, London, it must be confessed, would have far exceeded every capital in the world. It may, however, be doubted, whether the climate of this country is suited to covered arcades; and with respect to the complete regularity and uniformity of the streets, although in theory this is captivating, in execution its effect is dull and disappointing. The total want of interest and variety in those towns where it has been adopted, such as Carlsrhue, Darmstadt, and Manheim, to which we may add the New Town of Edinburgh, affords sufficient evidence in support of this position.
London experienced an unexampled series of calamities. First harassed by the civil war; next desolated by the plague; after this oppressed by the exactions of the unsuccessful war of Charles; and last ravaged by the dreadful fire, which laid the whole city in ashes. But with all this, the courage and the spirit of the people were not borne down; and with one heart and one mind, in the very reeking ruins, the restoration of the city, with increased grandeur, was undertaken. It is difficult to refrain from entering at length into the details of this dreadful calamity, particularly when there are such materials as the lively pen of Evelyn (an eye-witness) affords; but it is impossible not to note the magnanimity of the people, as described by the Bishop of Rochester, a writer
far too courtly to attribute any very exaggerated merit to the humbler classes of society. He describes them "as enduring this, the second calamity, with undaunted firmness of mind; their example," he says, "may incline us to believe that not only the best natural, but the best moral philosophy too, may be learned from the shops of mechanics. It was indeed admirable to behold with what constancy the meanest artificers saw all the labour of their lives, and the support of their families, devoured in an instant. They beheld the ashes of their houses, and gates, and temples, without the least expression of pusillanimity. If philosophers had done this, it had well become their profession of wisdom; if gentlemen, the nobleness of their breeding and blood would have required it; but that such greatness of heart should be found amongst the poor artisans and the obscure multitude is, no doubt, one of the most honourable events which ever happened." —The Bishop's habits and prejudices led him to be surprised at finding greatness and forbearance amongst the lower orders of a free and independent people. If he had not learnt better from history, the subsequent struggles of those very persons, under the still greater calamities induced by the oppression of the Stuarts, would have afforded him new ground for admiration.
Charles, during his residence abroad, had imbibed a taste for the arts, particularly for architecture, and amidst his sensualities and misgovernment was not unmindful of their advancement. Upon his deciding to repair St. Paul's, to reinstate Windsor Castle, and to build a new palace at Greenwich, Wren (who to his other attainments added a considerable knowledge of architecture) was sent for from Oxford in 1661, to assist Sir John Denham, the new surveyor general. In the same year he took the degree of doctor of laws.
Denham was a partisan of the court in the troublesome times of Charles I., and was rewarded by his master with a grant in reversion of the place of Surveyor General of the Board of Works, to take effect on the death of Inigo Jones. As a poet and as a loyalist his merits are admitted; but his reward might have been more judiciously selected, for he was entirely ignorant of architecture. "It would have been ungrateful in the Ring, on his restoration," observes Mr. Elmes, with great simplicity, "to have discharged Denham, and unsafe to have mtrusted him with the execution of any great work." Few men, it must be admitted, could so ill afford to add to the list of their acts of ingratitude towards their followers and dependants as Charles: Denham remained surveyor with the salary, Wren was appointed his deputy,—and performed all the duties of the office. Although ap
Eointed, he held the place for some time efore he received any important public employment; and the Infanta of Portugal having brought the expensive dowry of Tangier, it was proposed to Wren, on account of his knowledge in geometry, to proceed there to survey and direct the works at the mole, harbour, and fortifications: this, however, he wisely declined.
During his progress in making plans for the repair of the Cathedral, the state and condition of which he appears very minutely to have ascertained, he was employed to give a design for the erection of the new theatre (Sheldonian) at Oxford, the principal merit of which is in the scientific construction of the flat roof, which is 80 by 7 0 feet without any arched work or pillars to support it, and is said never to have been surpassed. Plott, who in his history of Oxford has given a detailed description of it, calls Wren the English Vitruvius. Cambridge also was not slow to require his services, and his first commission was for a design for the new chapel of Pembroke Hall, of which his uncle had been a liberal benefactor. The celebrated library of Trinity College was also one of his early works.
• Chapter IV.
On the form of the early Churches.
Before we enter on the subject of the erection of St. Paul's, confessedly the second of the cathedral edifices in Europe, it will not, we conceive, be out of place shortly to trace the origin of the present form of Christian Churches from the simple plans of the Temples of antiquity. Those of the Egyptians and Greeks were in the figure of a parallelogram again divided into squares or other parallelograms; and it probably was not till the Pantheon at Rome was erected, that the Grecian Tholos or circular temple was
attempted on so great a scale. The religious rites of the Greeks and Romans were all performed in the open air, either in the front of their temples, or in the midst of the city; the early Christians, on the contrary, persecuted on all sides, sought refuge in caverns and catacombs hid from the light of day, for the solemnization of the rites of their religion, until encouraged and protected by Constantine they first began to assemble openly in congregations, and to worship without fear.
The largest of the ancient enclosed buildings were the halls of Justice called Basilicce, or Royal Houses; it is supposed by some, that these were first appropriated by Constantine to the use of the Christian congregations, and being closed on all sides protected them from the fanaticism of their persecutors. The early Christian Churches were constructed on the model of these, and, up to the present period, have in some examples retained their name. The original form of an ancient temple was an oblong cells, or chamber surrounded with porticoes, or where the side porticoes were omitted there was always one in the front; but in the basilica the porticoes were internal, there being no exterior portico or colonnade; and the interior was divided by rows of columns either into three or five divisions. (Fig. 1. and 2.) In the centre
division (Ar. I.) the judge administered the law ; and the side aisles, or porticoes, were occupied by the merchants and traders.
The first Christian Basilicas are referred to Constantine, and about the year 324 he erected the grand one of St. Peter's. It was divided into five aisles, running from east to west, and was terminated at the end by another aisle, or transept, from north to south, in the centre of which was a large semicircular niche, giving to the building an imperfect form of a cross, which he especially directed, as a memorial of that miraculous one which he had witnessed before his victory over Maxentius. The large aisle was enclosed by forty-eight columns of precious marble, and the side aisles had fortyeight columns of smaller dimensions: the whole was covered with a flat ceiling composed of immense beams cased with gilt metal, and Corinthian brass taken from the temples of Romulus and Jupiter Capitolinus. A hundred smaller columns ornamented the shrines and chapels; the walls were covered with paintings of religious subjects; and the tribunal, or niche at the end, was enriched with elaborate Mosaics or inlaid marbles. A vast number of lamps illuminated the temple; in the greater solemnities 2400 were reckoned, and 1360 of these were contained in an enormous candelabrum. It was on the site of this magnificent temple, which, falling into ruins, was pulled down by Julius II., that the present Basilica of St. Peter's was erected. In this sort of building the intersection of the aisles and the transept produced a centre which it was natural to enlarge and make the principal in the composition; this and the form of the Cross (the emblem of Christianity) were the cause of the deviations from the ancient form of the Basilica; and the invention of domes supported on pendentives added a size and dignity to the centre, without interrupting the vista of the aisles.
The disposition of the ancient St. Peter's at Rome was followed by Constantine in the church which he erected in his new capital of Constantinople. This being destroyed, Justinian employed Anthemius and Isodorus to erect a magnificent temple that should immortalize his name, and in this they first V!!n!ured on the novel construction of adding a dome, remarkable for its diameter and flatness, over the centre. The
plan of this Basilica is a square of about two hundred and fifty feet; the interior forms a Greek cross, i. e. one with equal arms: the aisles are terminated at two ends by semicircles, and at the other two by square recesses: the aisles are vaulted, and the centre (where the aisles and transept intersect) forms the large square on which is raised the dome, of about one hundred and ten feet in diameter. The dome is supported on the four arches and the pendentives, or spandrils, which connect the square plan of the arches, and gradually form a circle at the level of their summit.
In consequence of the true principles of this mode of building not being discovered, the architects fell into many difficulties, and it was only after experiencing several failures, among them the falling of half the dome, and adding strong buttresses, that they were enabled to accomplish the glory of this magnificent design. These difficulties were, however, obviated in the building of St. Peter's, as in the dome and cone of St. Paul's, by adopting a much larger segment of a circle, and by inserting strong chains in the stone work at the base of the dome immediately over the arches, so as to give the lateral pressure a perpendicular bearing.
On the revival of the arts, this Basilica, the most magnificent and the last of the Lower Empire, was that which most influenced the form and character of the new temples. The Venetians in the tenth century copied with success the best parts of the disposition of Santa Sophia in the church of St. Mark, (now destroyed;) and it was probably the first of any extent which in Italy was constructed with a dome supported on pendentives or spandrils, and which gave the idea imitated in St. Peter's, of accompanying the great dome of a church with smaller and lower domes, to give a pyramidal effect to the whole. The church of Santa Maria del Fiore at Florence, from the magnitude of its dome, and the skill which Brunelleschi displayed in its construction,* acquired a celebrity that made the system of domes prevalent, till it was finally established in the church of St. Peter's, the grand type of all others. It was in the beginning of the sixteenth century that Bramante formed the magnificent design of suspending over the centre of the Basilica a circular temple
* Seq Vtuarii Lift of JirmellM/ii,