Copyright
William Chambers.

Chambers's miscellany of instructive & entertaining tracts (Volume 4) online

. (page 55 of 58)
Online LibraryWilliam ChambersChambers's miscellany of instructive & entertaining tracts (Volume 4) → online text (page 55 of 58)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Rather a notable example is the Nelson Column in Trafalgar
Square, commenced in 1840, and not finished till 1867. It is formed
of Portland stone, and is surmounted by a statue of Lord Nelson by
Baily, sculptured in Granton granite. The capital is of bronze, the
melting down of cannon captured from the French. The square
base presents bronze bassi rilievi of events which distinguished the
career of Nelson namely, the death of Nelson, by Carew ; the
battle of the Nile, by Woodington ; the battle of Copenhagen, by
Ternouth ; and the battle of St Vincent, by Watson. Four bronze
lions on the pedestal, the only works in sculpture by Sir Edwin
Landseer, were finished and set up early in 1867 ; they are among
the largest specimens of the kind ever executed.

A multitude of memorial columns have been ereeted on hill-tops
in Great Britain ; such as that near Dunrobin Castle, in Scotland.
Most of these derive their importance chiefly from magnificence of
situation.

Paris can also boast of several, perhaps of more remarkable,
monuments of this kind than any other modern city. The chief
of these are the noble column erected in the Place Vendome, formed
on the model of that of Trajan at Rome, covered with bronze
castings, representing the achievements of the Grand Army in 1805,
and surmounted by a statue of Napoleon; and the Colonne de
Juillet, a large Doric column, erected in the Place de la Bastile
in commemoration of the Revolution of 1830, 130 feet in height,
surmounted by a colossal figure of the genius of France.

The colossal equestrian statue of Peter the Great in the Russian
capital, is another of the magnificent achievements of modern
art. The monarch is represented in the attitude of mounting a
precipice, the summit of which he has nearly attained. This rocky



WONDERS AND CURIOSITIES OF ARCHITECTURE.

pedestal, which consists of a single block of granite, weighing
between 1500 and 2000 tons, was quarried at a distance of several
miles from the capital, and its conveyance thither was a work of
extraordinary difficulty. The column erected in honour of the
Emperor Alexander I. is a surprising monolith, being one of the
largest yet known. The column is 150 feet high; the pedestal is of
granite and bronze ; and the shaft consists of a single piece of red
granite, 84 feet long and 14 feet in diameter ! The column is sur-
mounted by a capital and a small dome in bronze, on which is placed
a statue emblematical of Religion.

EXHIBITION BUILDINGS AND CRYSTAL PALACES.

International Exhibitions have led to the construction of buildings
of unusual vastness. The original Crystal Palace in Hyde Park for
the Exhibition of 1851, covered about 800,000 square feet. It was
1851 feet long (the same figures 'that represented the date of con-
struction), 408 feet wide, 64 feet high to the main level of the roof,
but 1 08 feet to the top of the centre transept. The ground covered
was seven times as large as the area of St Paul's Cathedral. There
were 3300 iron columns and 3500 iron girders. There were 4000
tons of iron, 17 acres of glass in the roof, 1500 vertical glazed sashes,
200 miles of sash-bars, and 1,000,000 square feet of flooring (ground-
floor and galleries together). Although there was not the slightest
pretence to architectural beauty in the building it being literally
nothing but a glass-house nevertheless, it pleased every one. The
novelty, the lightness, the spaciousness, the simplicity, made a
favourable impression on most of the persons who saw it ; while the
unbroken vista, exceeding a third of a mile in length, gave to the
interior an effect which had seldom or never been paralleled.

The Exhibition buildings at Dublin and at New York, for the
international industrial displays of 1853, were also Crystal Palaces,
more elaborate in some of their details, but of far smaller dimen-
sions, and not so productive of a fine interior effect.

The Paris Exhibition of 1855 did not afford suitable means for
comparison with the Hyde Park structure ; seeing that it was
accommodated in four distinct buildings, entirely unlike in character,
and almost wholly disconnected. The Manchester Exhibition
building of 1857 bore some resemblance to those at Dublin and
New York.

The International Exhibition at Brompton in 1862 was in a build-
ing which covered 24 acres. The main structure was 1200 feet long by
560 wide, besides two annexes or wings of considerable length. The
area roofed in was very little less than 1,000,000 square feet. The
southern facade, in Cromwell Road, was of brick ; indeed, the south-
ern portion of the whole structure was of brick, for the exhibition of
pictures ; while the northern portion was of iron, wood, and glass.



WONDERS AND CURIOSITIES OF ARCHITECTURE.

The interior of the chief nave was 100 feet high ; while the east and
west ends were surmounted by stupendous domes 160 feet in
diameter by 250 in height among the largest domes ever con-
structed.

The Paris Exhibition building of 1867 was entirely unlike any
that preceded it. It formed a vast oval amphitheatre, nearly three-
quarters of a mile in circumference, and covered 35 acres of ground.
The exterior was practically a wall of iron, 80 feet high. The interior
was divided by avenues or passages into numerous blocks of exhibi-
tion space ; those which went radially, from the exterior towards the
centre, divided country from country; while those which ranged
concentrically, like the rings in a trunk of timber, divided one class
of goods from another. Every gallery was thus a curve or a portion
of a curve ; and the whole of these was lighted from the roof by sky-
lights. The centre of the entire structure was occupied by a garden,
being the only portion which was not under cover. There were no
upper galleries, except in the outer ring for machinery, where there
was an elevated platform, which made the entire circuit. Ten thou-
sand tons of iron were used in the building, and 15,000,000 rivets to
fasten the various pieces of iron. The length of the building was
1580 feet, and the breadth 1214 not so long by nearly 300 feet as
our Hyde Park building in 1851, but vastly greater in breadth, and
covering a much greater area of ground. The central garden was
540 feet by 170. The sixteen radial avenues were each about 500
feet long, and received such names as Rue de France, Rue d'Angle-
terre, Rue de Prusse, &c. The chief avenue, broader and more
imposing than the rest, took the direction of the long axis of the oval,
and was in fact part of that line ; it was 50 feet broad and 82 high.
Vast as the building was, it had little besides its size to recommend
it. The subsidiary buildings in the park, occupying the remaining
portion of the Champ de Mars, were wholly of a miscellaneous
character imitations of almost every kind of structure a world in
miniature. The Champ de Mars presents a surface of about 500,000
square yards, of which 160,000 were occupied by the Exhibition
building, and 340,000 by the surrounding park. The centre of the
Champ de Mars being much lower than the outer portions, and it
being desirable that this centre should be raised to the same level, a
neighbouring hill, called the Trocadero, was made to supply many
hundred thousand cubic feet of earth for this purpose.

Two Crystal Palaces for popular amusement, one at Sydenham
and one at Muswell Hill, have been constructed in part with the iron
and glass of the Hyde Park Exhibition building of 1851, and the
Brompton Exhibition building of 1862. One of them, the 'Alex-
andra Palace and Park,' need not here be described ; but the other,
the world-renowned Crystal Palace at Sydenham, is unquestionably
the most beautiful glass structure in the world. It is 1600 feet long,
380 feet wide, and no less than 200 high at the centre transept. It
28



WONDERS AND CURIOSITIES OF ARCHITECTURE.

consists of a nave with three transepts, all having arched roofs ;
and the construction is almost wholly of iron and glass. Galleries
run round the interior, from which vistas can be obtained of almost
matchless beauty. Marble basins and crystal fountains are ranged
at intervals along the nave. A magnificent amphitheatre of seats
affords unparalleled accommodation for an orchestra of 5000 per-
sons. On either side of the nave are elaborate courts or halls,
representing the architecture, sculpture, and mural decoration of
the Roman, Greek, Assyrian, Egyptian, Pompeiian, Alhambraic or
Saracenic, Romanesque, Byzantine, Gothic, Medieval, Renais-
sance, Palladian, and Elizabethan styles of art. (Such at least was
the rich assemblage until the unfortunate fire early in 1867, when
much of the northern portion of the Palace, including the Egyptian
and Assyrian Courts, was destroyed, entailing a loss of not much
less than .100,000.) At the north and south ends of the main
building, but detached from them, are stupendous water-towers, at
least 250 feet high. Water is pumped up into tanks, which sur-
mount the towers, by steam-power ; and the pressure thus obtained
supplies water to a grander set of fountains than has ever been
exhibited elsewhere. On one of the grand gala-days there are
12,000 jets playing at once, some rising to a height of 250 feet; and
it requires 6,000,000 gallons of water to feed them all. Whether
considered in regard to its cost (,1,500,000), its vast magnitude, its
external and internal beauty, its profuse illustrations of architecture
and sculpture, its grand musical capabilities, its fine botanical and
arboricultural collection, its park, its majestic terraces, its marble
basins, or its fountains and cascades the Crystal Palace is prob-
ably the finest place of amusement in the world, and its amusements
the most wonderful shillingsworth.



HOTELS AND CLUB-HOUSES.

Hotel meant, in the middle ages, a nobleman's mansion, or even
a municipal building, such as an hotel de ville ; but in most cases
at the present day it is a house for boarding and lodging guests,
who come and go whenever they please. Architectural display has
never been bestowed upon these buildings in England until recent
years ; but some of our railway hotels are now really magnificent
buildings. Witness, as an example, the City Hotel, forming the
frontage of the Cannon Street Station. Its facade presents one grand
scene of decoration from top to bottom the central mass crowned
by a Mansard roof, while the wings are surmounted by pavilions
with high truncated roofs ; balconies adorn almost every range of
windows. Besides coffee-rooms and bed-rooms for the usual class
of hotel visitors, there are a great hall for public dinners and balls,
a large room for public meetings, a restaurant, a chop-room, and a

29



WONDERS AND CURIOSITIES OF ARCHITECTURE.

luncheon-bar. The building is 218 feet in length and 76 feet high,
but the pavilion roofs rise to a further height of 32 feet. A tower at
the south-east angle, containing a ventilating shaft and the kitchen
flue, rises still higher. The ground-floor is mainly occupied by the
entrances to the railway station. The next floor above it presents,
as its chief feature, the great hall or ball-room, 114 feet long, 41 feet
wide, and 36 high one of the grandest rooms recently built in the
city of London. The principal room on the next floor is the room
for public meetings, 80 feet long. Another hotel, typical of those
which do not belong to railway companies, nor adjoin railway
stations, is the Langham Hotel, Portland Place. There is a vast
cubical mass of building in this edifice. On the ground-floor there
is a central courtyard, adorned with fountains and flowers ; and
around this are the salle a manger, a noble dining-room 150 feet
long, coffee-room, ladies' coffee-room, library, reading-room, audience
and meeting rooms, drawing-rooms, post-office and telegraph-
office ; while up-stairs, besides the smoking-room and the billiard-
room, there are ranges of private apartments and sleeping-rooms
soaring to a greater height than any other hotel in England. The
kitchen, a room 50 feet by 40, is quite a distinguishing feature ; so
replete is it with all the best appliances for the practical exercise of
the culinary art : the roasting-grate alone is 8 feet wide by 7 feet
high.

Paris contains two hotels which have no parallels in England for
magnitude. One is called the Grand Hotel, and the other the Grand
Hotel du Louvre, and each has between 600 and 700 bed-rooms.
America has gone beyond even Paris in the magnitude of its hotels,
especially in the instance of the Irving House, the Astor, and the St
Nicholas Hotels at New York, and the Mount Vernon Hotel at
New Jersey. As specimens of architecture, these immense buildings
hardly call for detailed description, they being little else externally
than windowed stories rising one above another to a great height ;
but some of the curiosities and marvels of one of the hotels have
been summarised in the following brief way : ' Eight hundred bed-
rooms under one roof ; three hundred servants ; a steam laundry
that will wash four thousand articles in a day (a shirt washed, dried,
ironed, and delivered in fifteen minutes !) ; the beef of one thousand
oxen cooked and served up in a year ; bell-telegraphs to every room ;
a mile and a half of verandahs and balconies in front of the several
ranges of rooms ; hot and cold water baths to every bed-room ;
and a bridal-chamber so gorgeously furnished as to be charged at
ten guineas a day.'

Clubs are to so remarkable an extent an English institution, that
we need not go out of our own country to seek examples of them.
So far as regards architectural character, we may select one club-
house (the Reform) as an illustration of the whole.

The Reform Club-house, on the south side of Pall Mall, built by
30



WONDERS AND CURIOSITIES OF ARCHITECTURE.

the late Sir Charles Barry, is 140 feet wide by 1 10 deep. There are
two fagades which have nine windows on a floor, and one which
has eight. The style is of that Italian palazzo kind which does
not depend upon porticoes, colonnades, arches, towers, pinnacles,
or domes, but upon a bold mass of decorated windowed surface ;
and the general effect has met with marked approval. There is a
beautiful cortile or covered court in the centre of the building, 56
feet long, 50 wide, and 54 high. The coffee-room, on the garden-
front, is a grand apartment, 112 feet by 28. The news-room,,
dining-room, drawing-room, library, card-rooms, are all handsome
portions of the building. It was in the kitchen of the Reform
Club-house that M. Soyer established his renown as a chefde cuisine.



THEATRES AND OPERA-HOUSES.

Instead of describing, in our limited space, any one of the numer-
ous opera-houses and theatres of Europe, we will give in a con-
densed form some comparative figures, from Fergusson's History of
Modern Architecture.

OPERA-HOUSES.

Depth of Width of Depth of

Auditory. Auditory. Stage.

Feet. Feet. Feet.

Milan, La Scala 105 87 77

Naples, San Carlo loo 85 74

Genoa 95 82 80

London, Her Majesty's 95 75 45

ii Covent Garden 89 80 89

St Petersburg 87 70 100

Paris, Academic 85 80 82

Parma 82 74 76

Venice 82 78 48

Munich So 75 87

Madrid 79 89 55

Darmstadt.... 72 62 70

Berlin 70 55 58

Vienna 65. 55 72

Turin go 71 no

La Scala, at Milan, is the greatest in depth of audience part, and
the Vienna the least ; the Madrid opera-house is the greatest in
width, and the Berlin and Vienna the least ; the Madrid is the
greatest in width of curtain, and Berlin the least; the Turin is
the greatest in depth of stage, and our own opera-house in the
Haymarket decidedly the least ; the height over the pit varies from
84 feet in San Carlo at Naples, to 5 1 at Darmstadt.

31



WONDERS AND CURIOSITIES OF ARCHITECTURE.
A. similar comparison is made between

DRAMATIC THEATRES.

Depth of Width of Depth of

Auditory. Auditory. Stage.

Feet. Feet. Feet.

Versailles 77 ^S 82

Marseille 76 65 50

Paris, Historique 70 65 42

ii Italien 60 65 46

Hamburg 7 67 65

Bordeaux 65 64 7

Mayence 65 60 46

Lyon 64 66 75

Berlin 64 60 70

Antwerp 60 58 58

Carlsruhe 60 66 50

London, Drury Lane 7 7 48

,, Haymarket 57 48 33

ii Lyceum 55 52 40

,, Adelphi '51 56 47



Here we must close. It would be easy, if space allowed, to notice
many other classes or groups of buildings which have something
about them either of the wonderful or the curious. As a single
room, of which the outside is scarcely visible at all, perhaps one of
the most remarkable and original in Europe, and the most admir-
ably adapted to the purpose for which it was constructed, is the
new Reading-room at the British Museum. Circular in plan, and
with a domed ceiling, it admits of being lighted both from the
sides and from the top ; it secures an effective interior ; it affords
unexampled accommodation to readers, with wall and press space
for 100,000 volumes. The room is about 140 feet in diameter,
and the height to the central skylight 108 feet. The dimensions
nearly equal those of the Pantheon at Rome. Tables for about 300
readers are placed radially, like the spokes of a wheel, with an
ample supply of room, light, chairs, pens, ink, paper, knives, &c. It
is one of the few modern English buildings which every one praises.
A beautiful new reading-room was opened at Paris in 1868, in the
Imperial Library. It consists of a central square room, surrounded
by semicircular arcades. The roof consists of nine cupolas of
enamelled porcelain, resting on sixteen columns ; the centre of each
cupola having a circular skylight. There are 345 chairs, desks, and
tables, for an equal number of readers. About 40,000 volumes are
ranged round the room, in three balconies or galleries ; and a large
doorway gives access to a number of rooms in which the rest of the
books are kept.





'TIME ENOUGH;

AN IRISH TALE, BY MRS S. C. HALL.

NE of the most amusing and acute persons I remember
and in my very early days I knew him well was a
white-headed lame old man, known in the neighbourhood
of Kilbaggin by the name of BURNT EAGLE, or, as the

Irish peasants called him, 'Burnt Aigle? His accent

proclaimed him an Irishman, but some of his habits were not
characteristic of the country, for he understood the value of money,
and that which makes money TIME. He certainly was not of the
neighbourhood in which he resided, for he had no 'people,' no uncles,
aunts, or cousins. What his real name was I never heard ; but I
remember him since I was a very little girl, just old enough to be
placed by my nurse on the back of Burnt Eagle's donkey. At that
time he lived in a neat pretty little cottage, about a mile from our
house : it contained two rooms ; they were not only clean, but well
furnished ; that is to say, well furnished for an Irish cottage. During
the latter years of his life, these rooms were kept in order by two
sisters ; what relationship they bore to my old friend, I will tell at
the conclusion of my tale. They, too, always called him Burnt

64 i



'TIME ENOUGH.'

Aigle ; all his neighbours knew about them and the old man would
not be questioned was, that he once left home suddenly, and, after
a prolonged absence, returned, sitting as usual between the panniers
on a gray pony, which was young then, and, instead of his usual
merchandise, the panniers contained these two little girls, one of
whom could walk, the other could not : he called them Bess and
Bell ; and till they were in a great degree able to take care of them-
selves, Burnt Eagle remained entirely at home, paying great atten-
tion to his young charges, and exciting a great deal of astonishment
as to 'how he managed to keep so comfortable, and rear the
children : ' his neighbours had no idea what a valuable freehold the
old man possessed in his time. When Burnt Eagle first came to
Kilbaggin, he came with a load of fresh heather-brooms, in a little
cart drawn by a donkey ; but besides the brooms, he carried a store
of sally switches, a good many short planks of wood, hoops large and
small, bee-hives, and the tools which are used by coopers and
carpenters : these were few, and of the commonest kind, yet Burnt
Eagle would sit on a sort of driving-box, which raised him a great
deal above the level of the car, into which he elevated himself by the
aid of a long crutch that always rested on his knees : there he would
sit ; and as the donkey jogged quietly, as donkeys always do, through
the wild and picturesque scenery of hill and dale, the old man's
hands were busily employed either in weaving kishes or baskets, or
forming noggins, or little tubs, and his voice would at times break
into snatches of songs, half-English, half-Irish ; for though sharp-
mannered, and of a sallow complexion that tells of melancholy, he
was cheerful-hearted ; and his voice, strong and clear, woke the
echoes of the hills, though his melodies were generally sad or
serious.

I never heard what attached him to our particular neighbourhood,
but I have since thought he chose it for its seclusion. He took a
fancy to a cottage, which, seated between two sand-hills covered by
soft green grass and moss, was well sheltered from the sea-breeze
that swept along the cockle-strand, and had been the habitation of
Corney the crab-catcher, who, poor fellow, was overtaken by a
spring-tide one windy evening in March, and drowned. For a long
time ' Crab Hall,' as it was jestingly called, was untenanted, and
when Burnt Eagle fell in love with it, it was nearly in ruins. Some
said it was not safe to live in it ; but my old friend entered the
dwelling, together with the donkey and a gray cat, and certainly
were never disturbed by anything worse than their neighbours, or a
high storm. It did not, however, suit Burnt Eagle's ideas of pro-
priety to suffer the donkey to inhabit any portion of his cottage
dwelling ; and accordingly, after repairing it, he built him a stable,
and wove a door for it out of the sally switches. His neighbours
looked upon this as a work of supererogation, and wondered what
Burnt Eagle could be thinking of, to go on slaving himself for



'TIME ENOUGH.'

nothing. What would ail a lone man to live in our town ? wasn't
that enough for him? It would be 'time enough' to be building a
house when he had some one to live in it. But he went on his own
way, replying to their remonstrances with a low chuckling laugh,
and darting one glance of his keen piercing eyes upon them, in
return for the stare of lazy astonishment with which they regarded
his proceedings.

Burnt Eagle was, as I have said, an admirable economist of time ;
when he took his little car about the neighbourhood with brooms, or
noggins, or baskets, or cockles, or anything else, in fact, that might
be wanted, he never brought it home empty ; when he had disposed
of all his small merchandise, he would fill it with manure or straw,
which the gentry or farmers gave him, or he gathered on the roads.
If he could bring nothing else, he would bring earth or weeds ; suffer-
ing the latter to decay, preparatory to the formation of a garden,
with which he proposed to beautify his dwelling ; the neighbours
said it would be ' time enough ' to think of getting the enrichment for
the ground when the place was laid out for it. But Burnt Eagle would
not be stayed in his progress by want of materials. So, not until he
had everything ready, even a sty built for the pig, and a fence
placed round the sty to prevent the pig from destroying his bit of
land when it was made and cropped, not until then did he commence :
and though the neighbours again said 'it would be "time enough"
to deprive the pig, the craythur, of his liberty when the garden was
to the fore,' Burnt Eagle went on his own way, and then every one
in the parish was astonished at what he had accomplished.

The little patch of ground this industrious old man had, after
incredible labour, succeeded in forming over the coat of sward that
covered the sand, was in front of Crab Hall. The donkey had done
his best to assist a master who had never given him an unjust blow :
the fence was formed round the little enclosure of gray granite,
which some convulsion of nature had strewn abundantly on the
strand ; these stones the donkey drew up when his day's work was
ended, three or four at a time. Even this enclosure was perfected,
and a very neat gate of basket-work, with a latch outside and a bolt
in, hung opposite the cottage door, before Burnt Eagle had laid down
either the earth or manure on his plot of ground.

'Why, thin, Burnt Aigle dear,' said Mrs Radford, the net-maker's
wife, as, followed by seven lazy, dirty, healthy children, she strolled



Online LibraryWilliam ChambersChambers's miscellany of instructive & entertaining tracts (Volume 4) → online text (page 55 of 58)