Anecdotes of Painting in England: With Some Account of the Principal Artists - Vol. 3

By Horace Walpole | Go to book overview
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terton, one of the best houses of the size in England, will, as long as they remain, acquit this artist of the charge of ignorance. I must mention a more barbarous architect before I come to the luminaries of the science. This was


BATTY LANGLEY,

who endeavoured to adapt Gothic architecture to Roman measures; as Sir Philip Sidney attempted to regulate English verse by Roman feet. Langley went farther, and [for he never copied Gothic] invented five orders for that style. 1 All that his books achieved, has been to teach carpenters to massacre that venerable species, and to give occasion to those who know nothing of the matter, and who mistake his clumsy efforts for real imitations, to censure the productions of our ancestors, whose bold and beautiful fabrics Sir Christopher Wren viewed and reviewed with astonishment, and never mentioned without esteem. Batty Langley published some other works, particularly, An accurate Description of Newgate, &c. 1724; 2 A Design for a new Bridge at Westminster, 1736 ; A Reply to Mr. James's Tract on the same subject, 3 and an useful one on the prices of work and materials for building. He also invented an artificial stone, of which he made figures: an art lately brought to great perfection. 4

____________________
observes, "Your power and your wealth speak themselves in the grandeur of the whole building ; and give me leave to say, Sir, your enjoying the latter, after laring the former, is the brightest proof how honest were the foundations of both." What consolation to thrifty, though fallen ministers of state ! —D.
1
Batty Langley was a popular architect in his day, and his new orders of Gothic architecture were very generally applied to minor purposes. This work has been the oracle and text-book of carpenters and bricklayers, when employed by church- wardens and country gentlemen. The best edition of this precious book, (for alas ! there have been several) is that in 4to. 1747. But the age has reformed itself to a certain extent ; and there are now numerous artificers who, under sound direction, are competent to accurate Gothic restorations.—D.
2
With a view to be employed in rebuilding.—D.
3
Vide British Topog. vol. i. p. 635 and 736.
4
By Coade of Lambeth.—D.

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