Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 31.djvu/129

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119
SKETCH OF JAMES FERGUSSON.

1845. It was followed, in 1847, by "Picturesque Illustrations of Ancient Architecture in Hindostan," and at later dates by contributions to the works of Captain Hart, Mr. Hope, and Meadows Taylor, on special or local features in the architecture of India. Another work connected with this subject may be mentioned here—"Archæology in India," published in 1884, which was called forth by strictures on his views, and had much of the controversial in its composition. Mr. Fergusson's studies on these subjects, which he believed were prosecuted under singularly favorable circumstances, assumed such a character that he could say: "Not only was I able to extend my personal observations to the examples found in almost all the countries between China and the Atlantic shore, but I lived familiarly among a people who were still practicing their traditional art on the same principles as those which guided the architects of the middle ages in the production of similar but scarcely more beautiful or more original works. With these antecedents, I found myself in possession of a considerable amount of information regarding buildings which had not previously been described, and—what I considered of more value—of an insight into the theory of the art, which was certainly more novel." On the strength of this knowledge he published, in 1849, "An Historical Inquiry into the Principles of True Beauty in Art, with Especial Reference to Architecture." The book was not written in a popular style, and did not sell. The matter of this essay was afterward written over in a more engaging style, into the "Illustrated Hand-Book of Architecture," a concise and popular account of the different styles prevailing in all ages and countries, which was published in 1855. This book was successful. Having gone out of print, it was again rewritten in an entirely new form, and the result of the remodeling appeared in 1865, as the "History of Architecture in All Countries from the Earliest Times to the Present Day," in three volumes, afterward enlarged into four. This book is described by a critic in the "Academy" as practically standing "quite alone in the English language as an encyclopaedia of architecture; and though its immensely wide scope necessarily forced its author to depend largely on the drawings and statements of others, and so caused many inaccuracies to creep into the text, yet on the whole it is a work of real and, to all appearance, lasting value." The purpose of the work was declared to be to write a universal history of architecture, in which each style shall occupy exactly that amount of space which the extent of the buildings or their merit would appear to justify; and to apply one law of criticism to all styles, ancient and modern, Eastern and Western, showing why one building has been successful or another failed, by a reference to those principles of design in architecture which seem to be universal and are easily understood. While the method of the "Hand-Book" was topographical, the historical method was adopted in the "History" as the one better suited to the purposes of giving a general view of the whole of the subject, and of