Page:Mexico, California and Arizona - 1900.djvu/219
SAN JUAN, ORIZABA, AND CORDOBA REVISITED.
Some of the old churches take an added interest from their present fate. It would have been monotonous to have them all alike in full ceremonial, and now they are pathetic. I used to linger to hear the buglers practise in the cloistered church of Carmen, used as a barracks. It is stripped of everything, the pavement broken, the walls full of bullet-holes, and painted with the names of detachments, as 18° de Infanteria, 7° Compaña de Grenaderos, which have occupied it. In the smoke-stains, the damp,
coco into which the Renaissance fell, in the luxury and florid invention of its later stages; but even where least defensible, from the point of view of logic and fitness, it redeemed now by its mouldering, its time-stains, and superposed layers of half-obliterated colors. Little can said, except in this way, for the carvings and various detail, but the masses are invariably of a grand and noble simplicity. The material is generally rubble-stone and cement, and cannot be very expensive. The principal lines of the style are horizontal. The dome, semi-circular in shape, plays a great part in it. I have counted not less than eight, like those of St. Mark's, at Venice, on a single church. The dome is built, if I mistake not, of rubble and cement also, on a centering of regular masonry, perhaps even of wood. It is a reminiscence of the Moors. These edifices were put up three hundred years ago, by builders in the flush of the Byzantine influence, which radiated from Granada, then lately conquered. I know of no school in which the niggling, petty, and expensive character of our own efforts in this line could be better corrected. Vamos! Will not some of our leisurely young architects with a taste for the picturesque travel here, with their sketch-books, and bring us back plans and suggestions from this impressive work, for use among ourselves?