Archive for June, 2007

A month of music

June 30, 2007

I noted last month that I had been listening to a set of Robert Greenberg‘s lectures on Beethoven from The Teaching Company. Having finished those, I have borrowed Greenberg’s lectures on the history of opera, and am enjoying them tremendously. They cover the history of opera from its beginnings in early seventeenth-century Venice until the early twentieth-century (the final work to be discussed in the series will be Puccini’s Tosca of 1900).

The first work Greenberg discusses in detail is Monteverdi’s Orfeo. It was first performed in the year 1607, and though productions of the work are rare today it is generally considered the first operatic masterwork. Renaissance composers invented opera in an attempt to revive Greek music-drama. Of course, they had no access to actual Greek music, and so were guided only by the ideal that the drama should be sung in such a way as to heighten the emotional resonance of the words. Orfeo was Monteverdi’s first attempt at such a fusion of words and music.

As it happens, I have a recording of Orfeo in my collection, so I sat down to listen to it again. A few things occurred to me as I did so. First, I’m tempted to believe that I can hear the striving after the Greek ideal: the music has a formal, otherworldly quality to it, beautiful but distant. It reminded me of nothing so much as Byzantium, as though a gold-encrusted mosaic had become animated and begun to sing; that Byzantium would have been the closest Greek-speaking culture to Monteverdi might be more than an accident. Certainly it doesn’t sound like Western medieval music, and it is only at the entrance of the Chorus, singing in Italian madrigal style, that familiar Renaissance sounds are heard.

Second, the opera was written before the concept of an aria had been invented. The singing consists, therefore, of long passages of recicative, or sung text, often given to a single voice for many minutes. The tempos are generally slow and stately. It all reminded me very much of Wagner’s operas, which might seem an odd connection, but consider: Wagner too wrote long, uninterrupted passages for single voices, and avoided arias, all in the pursuit of a unified music-drama. Of course, Monteverdi’s orchestration is much simpler than Wagner’s, and he doesn’t use the orchestra to animate the drama the way Wagner does, but even so I was surprised by the similarities between the two.

The next opera in the lecture series was Mozart’s Idomeneo. Written when he was just 24 years old, it is not one of Mozart’s greatest masterworks, but it is considered one of the best operas in the genre opera seria, or “serious opera”. By Mozart’s day, a full 150 years after Monteverdi, certain operatic conventions and genres had evolved, and opera seria was that genre which dealt with mythological subjects and whose action was dominated by dignified acts and sentiments. Structurally an opera seria consisted of a series of arias connected by simple recicative.

Opera seria was wildly popular in its day, but has fallen out of favour in our own time. I myself have seen two opere serie in concert (Handel’s Giulio Cesare and Alcina), and can easily explain why they are unpopular: they are dead dull. In Mozart’s day the opera was a social occasion: during the performance people chatted, played cards, and ate dinner, much as we might do at a baseball game, and when a particularly lovely aria came up they would pause and listen a few minutes before returning to their conversation. In our own time, when we dress up, turn off our phones and pagers, and sit quietly and attentively, we give the opera attention it cannot bear. The plots move glacially, the recicative goes on and on, and there’s not much to love. At the last performance I attended a gentleman behind me found it advantageous to catch up on his sleep during the second act.

Having said that, Idomeneo is worth hearing a few times. Mozart wrote some lovely arias for it, and his music, as always, is graceful and elegant. At over three hours in length, however, I admit it wearied me. That fault does not afflict his great comic operas, and perhaps I’ll get to those next month.

This month I also received, as a gift, an excellent disc of classical guitar music. I don’t have much of this repertoire in my collection, so it was much appreciated. The centerpiece of the disc is Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, for guitar and orchestra. This is a tricky combination of forces, for the guitar is not a loud instrument, and it takes great skill on the composer’s part to manage the balance between soloist and orchestra. It’s a beautiful piece, with those zesty harmonies one often hears in Spanish music. (Here’s a live performance played by Narciso Yepes, the same soloist as on my recording.) This disc is rounded out with shorter works for solo guitar by Albeniz, Mudarra, and Granados. All of it has been new to me, and I’ve enjoyed it very much.

I’ve also had Van Morrison in high rotation these past weeks. The reason for that will be evident soon enough…

Name Day!

June 29, 2007

When my girlfriend and I meet new people, they are sometimes intrigued by her unusual name and inquire about its meaning. “It means ‘healing and wholeness’,” she says. Then, the attention turning to me, I say with a sober air, “My name is Craig. It means ‘pile of rocks’.” This is just one of the good reasons to like my name.

But my name hasn’t been all sunshine and roses. For instance, there has never, to my knowledge, been a St. Craig, which means that I’ve never been able to celebrate a Name Day.

It was only a few years ago that I learned of the tradition of Name Days: if you share your name with a saint, you get to party when their liturgical feast comes around each year. Ever since, I’ve harboured a secret wish that I had a saintly name like Michael or Christopher or Polycarp.

But recently a friend pointed out that my name is simply the Gaelic form of Peter, for Craig means “rocks”, or “pile of rocks”, or “from the rocks”, and Peter is of course derived from the Latin petra, “rock”. As in, Tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam. I think the match is close enough. I am immensely pleased.

Today, then, being the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, is my Name Day. I’m not sure how a Name Day is traditionally celebrated. Do I get to receive gifts?

In the meantime, here’s a performance of the Gregorian Alleluia, Tu es Petrus, sung by the Choralschola Der Wiener Hofburgkapelle.

Marking the Hours

June 28, 2007

Marking the Hours:English People and their Prayers, 1240-1570
Eamon Duffy (Yale University Press, 2006)
215 pp. First reading.

About fifteen years ago Eamon Duffy published a treasure-trove of a book called The Stripping of the Altars, a gripping study of the English Reformation on the basis of parish records rather than those of the state. It was recognized immediately as a work of great importance for our understanding of the period, for the picture that emerged was notably different from that written by the Protestant historians of the 18th and 19th centuries. The standard history went something like this: the Catholic Church was corrupt and its vigour spent; it oppressed the people under a weight of obligations and religious ignorance; the aims of the reformers were embraced and encouraged by the common man, who was only too glad to be rid of the papistical hocus-pocus of a foreign potentate. The history told by Duffy failed to support any plank of this platform: the religious life of the common people was healthy and educated, the parish played a central role in their lives, and, most significantly, they tenaciously resisted the program of reform for years, and in some cases for generations. It is a remarkable book, full of fascinating windows into late medieval devotional life and practice, sobering in its portrait of resistance to reform, and convincing in its steady scouring of the “official” history of the English Reformation.

In Marking the Hours, he returns to many of the same themes of the previous book, but from a particular angle and on a smaller scale. He lets us see the religious life of late medieval England through the particular, and enchanting, lens of the Book of Hours. The Book of Hours was an aid to Catholic devotions, containing a number of prayers, psalms, and offices for private use. Though manuscript Books of Hours, like all books, were expensive items and therefore the preserve of the rich only, the advent of printing in the generations prior to the Reformation saw a proliferation of Books of Hours at lower and lower cost, as the devotional practices they encouraged were taken up by more and more people. They are small books, easily held in the hands and carried about, and were frequently very beautifully illustrated with appropriate devotional images. Though they were used in private devotions in the home, there is also evidence that parishioners would meet at church to pray certain offices from the Book of Hours together, much as modern Catholics gather for communal praying of the rosary.

But Duffy’s interest in this book is not so much in the typical content of a Book of Hours. He wants to study not how publishers expected people to use them, but how they were actually used. He therefore devotes special attention to the marginal notes and additions to be found in surviving Books of Hours. Into the calendar of Church feasts we find records of family births and deaths (evidence that the Book of Hours played a role somewhat similar to later family Bibles), stitched into the books we find prayers pertaining to local pilgrimages, or prayers related to indulgences sought by the book’s owner.

Customizations were not limited to additions, however, and when Duffy turns to examine the effects of the Reformation on the kinds of devotions encouraged by Books of Hours, the story takes on sad overtones. New laws required that the name of Thomas Becket and of all Popes be deleted from prayer books, and most (though not all) Books of Hours show them dutifully crossed out, often with minimal effect on readability. In some cases the names were restored under Mary, only to be deleted again under Elizabeth. Indulgenced prayers were forbidden, and they too are defaced (though frequently only the preamble promising the indulgence, and not the prayer itself, is deleted). It gives us a remarkably tangible picture of how official policies affected the private devotional lives of English people.

It is a poignant picture, of course, laden with much sadness for those who, like myself, consider the English Reformation to have been a mistake launched by a bit of indefensible impetuosity. The tensions of the time are on display in a few very special surviving Books of Hours. One belonged to a member of the court of Henry VIII, and Queen Katherine of Aragon herself has written, on a blank leaf, a request that the owner, her “most assured friend”, remember to pray for her; as it happened, this “most assured friend” rubbed out Katherine’s signature after Henry divorced her. Another volume contains a brief poem hand-written by a young Catherine Parr, Henry’s last wife. But the poignancy reaches a crescendo in the Book of Hours which St. Thomas More had with him during his imprisonment in the Tower. I was astonished to learn that this book has survived. In it, he has written in the head and foot of a long series of pages a beautiful prayer for strength and courage in the face of death, beginning

Gyve me thy grace good lord
To sett the world at nought
To sett my mynd faste vppon the
and not to hange vppon the blaste of mennys mowthis

It would be worth acquiring Marking the Hours just to look at the photographs of this one Book of Hours.

Did I mention the photographs? Did I mention that Marking the Hours, dedicated to the beautiful Books of Hours, is, fittingly, itself a thing of beauty? Even if one were to ignore the text, one could pass pleasant hours simply leafing through the over 100 high-quality plates. Not that one would wish to ignore the text, of course. This is an absorbing, beautifully presented historical study.

Hilliard heaven

June 26, 2007

The Hilliard Ensemble are, in my judgment, the world’s greatest vocal ensemble. I’ve been privileged to hear them in concert twice, and both occasions are among the most moving and memorable musical experiences of my life. Their repertoire ranges from avant-garde medieval and Renaissance polyphony to avant-garde modern music. They sing with an unmatched beauty of tone, flawless ensemble, and imperturbable tuning.

I bring them up because to my delight I’ve discovered a documentary about the group, titled Whenever Angels Sing, posted at YouTube. Evidently it was made for a German-speaking audience, for the interview segments are largely inaudible owing to voice-overs by the German translator, but the singing is spectacular. The program shows them in concert, but also in rehearsal, working with composers and with other singers at their summer school. It’s extremely well done, and I recommend watching it. If you’ve not heard them before, you’re in for a treat. (Duration about 40 minutes.)

 

Monastic murder

June 23, 2007

Dissolution
C. J. Sansom (Viking, 2003)
390 pp. First reading.

Since my recent trip to England I’ve conceived an interest in English history under the Tudors. It was a period of great change in English politics and society, and was the stage for some of the most memorable episodes in all of English history. It was also the period, of course, during which the English Reformation took place, or at the least the period during which it began. (Whether it has yet ended could be a matter for debate.)

This novel, a well written murder mystery, is set in the year 1537, when Henry VIII was on the throne and Thomas Cromwell was initiating a number of aggressive reformist policies. Cromwell commissions one Matthew Shardlake, a hunchbacked London lawyer, to investigate the murder of one of his men at a monastery on the southern coast. Yes, that’s right: our detective is a hunchbacked lawyer. Are there other kinds?

A monastery is a good setting for a murder mystery. It is a closed community, which limits the scope and forces the author to work with those few characters and circumstances which the setting permits. It is also supposed to be a community united in purpose and animated by fraternal affection, all of which will be severely tested or ruptured by a murder. By its nature it seems to encourage good, tightly-written stories. When you stop to think about it, there have been a fair number of monastic murder mysteries: Ellis Peters made a career on the sleuthing tales of Brother Cadfael, Umberto Eco wrote The Name of the Rose, and recently (if we are willing to stretch the definition of monastery a little) P. D. James wrote her splendid novel Death in Holy Orders. Of course, one must stop short of claiming that a monastery is an especially appropriate place for a murder to occur. That would be quite false.

I enjoyed this novel. Sansom is not a great stylist — he’s not much of a stylist at all — but his prose is crisp, clear, and undistracting, which is arguably what one wants in a story of this sort. He makes some effort to have his characters speak in an authentic 16th-century manner (making frequent use of exclamations like ‘God’s body!’ and ‘God’s blood!’, for example). He draws his characters well, and in several scenes elicits truly affecting dialogue from them. The story also appeals by connecting the events inside the monastery with the wider political and religious revolution taking place.

Most importantly, however, Sansom has created a mystery story that retained its mystery until the story ran its course. As the investigation proceded (and as the bodies piled up), clue after clue was revealed, and one really sensed that the solution was getting closer and closer. When the final clue fell into place, and the earlier ones suddenly appeared in a different light, and of course! of course! how did I miss that? — well, it was very satisfying.

Feast of Sts. More and Fisher

June 22, 2007

It was on this day in 1535 that John Cardinal Fisher was taken from his cell in the Tower of London, walked up to Tower Hill, and beheaded. He was followed several weeks later, on July 6, by Sir Thomas More. Their crime was treason; they refused to acknowledge the English monarch as the supreme religious authority in England. Thus it was that “The King’s Great Matter” brought down a great churchman and a great statesman, and served thereafter as an enduring example of political and religious hubris. While imprisoned in the Tower, More had in his possession a Book of Hours which has, miraculously, survived to the present day. In it he inscribed, at the head and foot of a long series of pages, a prayer. Here it is:

Gyve me thy grace good lord
To sett the world at nought

To sett my mynd faste vppon the
and not to hange vppon the blaste of mennys mowthis.

To be content to be solitary
Not to long for worldely company

Lytle & litle vtterly to caste of the world
And ridde my mynd of all the bysynes therof

Not to long to here of eny worldely thyngis
But that the heryng of worldely fantesyes may be to me displesaunt

Gladly to be thinkyng of God
Pituously to call for his helpe

To lene vn to the cumfort of God
Bysyly to labor to love hym

To know myn awn vilite & wrechednesse
To humble & meken my selfe vnder the myghty hand of God

To bewayle my synnys passed
ffor the purgyng of them patiently to suffre adversite

gladly to bere my purgatory here
to be joyfull of tribulations

To walke the narrow way that ledeth to life
To bere the crosse with Christ

To have the laste thing in remembraunce
To have ever a fore myne yie my deth that ys ever at hand

To make deth no straunger to me
To foresee & considre theverlastyng fyre of hell

To pray for perdon byfore the Iudge come
To have continually in myund the passion that Christe suffred for me

ffor hus benefitys vncessauntly to geve hym thankys
To by the tyme agayn that I byfore have loste

To abstayn from vayne confabulations
To estew light folysh myrth & gladnesse

Recreationys not necessary / to cutt off
of worldly substauns frendys libertie life and all
To sett the losse at right nowght for the wynnyng of Christ

To thynke my moost enemyes my best frendys
ffor the brethern of Ioseph could never have done
hym so mych good with theire love & favor as
they did hym with theire malice and hatered

These myndys are more to be desired of
every man than all the tresore of
all the princis & kyngis christen & hethen
were it gathered & layed to gether
all vppon one hepe

The Dream of the Rood

June 20, 2007

Some time ago I mentioned that Michael D. C. Drout, professor of English at Wheaton College, was reading through the complete Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records and making audio recordings of his readings available online.

Recently he recorded one of the most famous and beautiful of all Anglo-Saxon poems: The Dream of the Rood. This poem survives in the Vercelli manuscript of the tenth century, though at least portions of the poem have been dated to earlier than c.750.

The audio is available here. Since it is rather difficult to follow without assistance, I recommend reading along with a parallel-text version.  Such a thing is surprisingly difficult to find online, but you might try this one.

A very fine modern translation of the poem has been made by Anthony Esolen. It seems, however, to have only been published at the old Pontifications site. Since that site died, the translation is not presently available. Even the Internet Way-back Machine cannot dig it up. I’ll keep my eyes open.

Feast of St. Romuald

June 19, 2007

St. Romuald (c.951-1027) was born to a wealthy family in Ravenna, but chose for himself a life of poverty, solitude, and devotion. Himself a hermit, he helped to establish a number of hermitages in Italy, and is today regarded as the founder of the Camaldolese monastic order. The simplicity of his monastic Rule is very attractive.

The Rule of St. Romuald

Sit in your cell as in paradise. Put the whole world behind you and forget it. Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman watching for fish. The path you must follow is in the Psalms — never leave it.

If you have just come to the monastery, and in spite of your good will you cannot accomplish what you want, take every opportunity you can to sing the Psalms in your heart and to understand them with your mind.

And if your mind wanders as you read, do not give up; hurry back and apply your mind to the words once more.

Realize above all that you are in God’s presence, and stand there with the attitude of one who stands before the emperor.

Empty yourself completely and sit waiting, content with the grace of God, like the chick who tastes nothing and eats nothing but what his mother brings him.

Come again?

June 16, 2007

Repetition (1843)
ren Kierkegaard (Princeton University Press, 1983)
100 pp. First reading.

What is repetition? I’ve read the book, and I don’t know. After reading the sort-of-recent guest Book Note (parts 1 and 2) on Either/Or, I was inspired to take up this brief volume. I have not done well. I simply don’t understand what the book is about.

Granted, it’s not a simple affair. Like Either/Or, this is a polyonymous work that lacks the center a stable authorial voice would provide. The primary author is Constantin Constantius, a self-professed “observer”, who narrates the story of his turbulent friendship with an unnamed Young Man. His young friend (whom I suspect may be the character called A in Either/Or) falls in love with a young woman, betroths himself to her, but then, deeply troubled by his choice, abruptly severs the relationship and disappears. Constantin hears nothing from him for some time, but then receives a series of letters. They are unsigned, but he knows who has written them. These letters form the second part of the book, and in them the young man unveils the drama of his inner struggle in the wake of his broken engagement. Constantin takes a few pages to comment on the letters, and then a final letter arrives: his fiancee has married another; the young man has found peace.

But what of repetition? We are told that it stands in dialectical tension with the Greek idea of recollection: whereas recollection dwells on the past, repetition “is recollected forward”, yet it is not hope. It is not something that simply happens, for “it takes courage to will repetition”. Repetition is not interested in “the interesting”. It is, in some sense, transcendent, for it “places a person in a purely personal relationship of opposition to God, in a relationship that he cannot allow himself to be satisfied with any explanation at second hand.” A central exemplar of repetition in the letters of the young man is Job, who contends against everyone, including God, to demand justice. But where, precisely, does repetition occur in Job’s life?

Constantin travels to Berlin, a city he has visited before, in order “to test the possibility and meaning of repetition”. Is it, then, as simple a matter as having an earlier experience again? Does it occur when the external circumstances repeat, and the internal experience also repeats? Or doesn’t repeat? How can this kind of banal experiment be related to Job’s experience? In any case, Constantin seems to have come up short — or has he? — claiming that “the only repetition was the impossibility of a repetition.” Thanks.

The best I can do is this: repetition pertains to some kind of profound experience in which the inner life acquires a solidity or spiritual strength to stand above or against circumstances or external pressures. How it pertains, I find it hard to say. What aspect of such an experience is the repetitive aspect? I don’t know. It seems to belong to the ethical sphere (if I may draw on the taxonomy outlined in Either/Or).

Constantin Constantius has apparently enjoyed making things difficult for the reader. He says that he has written “in such a way that the heretics are unable to understand it”. It figures. As I am apparently a heretic, I might despair of really penetrating the book’s elusive center and fall back instead on simply observing that the book is, for instance, “not a comedy, tragedy, novel, short story, epic, or epigram”, but I’m afraid that would only give him satisfaction. The way is blocked both before and behind.

I don’t much care for Constantin Constantius. His elliptical style seems calculated to keep outsiders out, and is topped off with an unbecoming smugness. Though his writings contribute more than half the book’s length, he avers that the true subject of the book is his young friend, referring to himself as only a “midwife” or “ministering spirit” — or even a “vanishing person”. I’m not sure of that; he can’t resist having the last word.

Perhaps the difficulty of the book is part of the meaning of the book. Perhaps one cannot grasp its meaning on first acquaintance. Perhaps it is, in other words, a book that invites a repetition. Perhaps?

Chesterton on architecture

June 14, 2007

As I remarked a few weeks ago on the anniversary of Chesterton’s birth, today, June 14, is the anniversary of his death. During these weeks I have been following the Chesterton celebration hosted at the Chesterton and Friends blog, and I’ve enjoyed it tremendously. On this day which marks his passing, I especially recommend you read the final chapter of their celebration of his life.

Chesterton is buried in the churchyard at Beaconsfield, where he lived for many years. His tombstone is inscribed with the words Vita sine termino nobis donet in patria, which is a quotation from the final stanza of St. Thomas Aquinas’ great hymn O Salutaris Hostia, and which, being translated, means something like “grant us life without end in our home land.” It was one of his favourite hymns.

To commemorate the day, I offer another audio recording of Chesterton’s voice. It was made for the BBC in January of 1933, though I do not know the circumstances. The topic of the address is architecture, and it is about 7-1/2 minutes in duration. It is clearly an excerpt from a longer talk, but whether the remaining audio survives somewhere I do not know. Because the quality of the recording is in some places quite poor, I offer a transcription of his words below. [Once again, I obtained the audio from this site, and offer them my thanks, but I offer it here without pop-up ads, and I have assembled into one file what is there provided in over a dozen small pieces.]

Finally, I remind you that each week I post an excerpt from Chesterton’s writings at The Hebdomadal Chesterton.

G. K. Chesterton, requiescat in pace.

***

Architecture is the most practical and the most dangerous of the arts. All the other arts we have to live with. They are things we have to live with and some have even said, with regard to some kinds of music and painting, that they are things they could live without. But architecture is not a thing only that we have to live with — it is a thing we have to live in. We live with it as Jonah lived with the whale. Jonah could not see the monster and there is a great deal to be said for living in the most hideous house you can see in the landscape. That is the one place where you will be unable to see it.

I have before me two or three very interesting books dealing with architecture. The first impression made by all these books is that architecture is at this moment in a very queer condition — queerer than at any other period. We all know this in a way about what men call practical architecture, especially domestic architecture. Now in the past there has been broadly two main social systems — slavery and a rough peasant equality. Most men’s houses, or huts or what not, have either been made by themselves, because they had timber or clay or what was needed, or they have been made by their masters for them. The Eskimo made his own house of snow and the Irish peasant generally made his own cabin of mud or peat, which was the real root of his sense of the injustice of landlordism. On the other hand, Uncle Tom’s cabin was presumably built for Uncle Tom, and most English cottages were built by squires and testify to their traditionalism, their carelessness, and their natural instinct for the picturesque.

But with the growth of modern towns and the reign of specialists, a very strange situation has arisen. For most people, the houses exist before the householder. Those rows of new villas in the suburbs are built for anybody — that is, nobody. Willam Morris, thinking of rabbit hutches, called them man hutches. But they really wait, more like man traps. They wait for the man who shall come or not, as the case may be. Only in the case of the wealthy the householder exists before the house. The rich man has to kick his heels in hotels and horrid places while an architect is building his house.

Now the speculative builders do not know what people would really like. So they build all the houses exactly the same, in a style that nobody could like very much so as to be fair all round. In the second case the millionaire can of course tell the architect what sort of house he would like. The architect listens sympathetically and then goes away and designs something totally different, which the millionaire is obliged to accept because he is afraid of people suggesting that he knows nothing about art, which is indeed the case. In both these cases, you will note, a specialist does exactly what he likes. There is nothing to show that suburban people really like suburban villas. Indeed I strongly suspect that most of the satire against suburban villas is written in surburban villas. There is nothing to show that Mr. __, who made his money in pork, likes the aerial perspective of the new architectural style of steel and glass. And he, poor devil, is a more miserable captive than the other, for he cannot write in the papers abusing the ugliness of his own house. And the suburban class can.

Now all this is to say what most of these books largely agree in saying — that there is not any modern style that is popular in the sense that most people like to look at it — let alone that most people would naturally try to build it. A very sensible and well-balanced little book, called How To Look At Buildings … Buildings — by Darcy Braddell (Methuen; 6 shillings) — makes this point all the more pointedly because it is not in any sense a controversial book. It does not profess to go so deep, for example, as another and larger volume called Purpose And Admiration by J. Barton (Christophers; 10 & 6) — of which I shall speak in a moment.

But the smaller handbook makes this point very clear, for example by a comparison with the 18th century. The 18th century was ruled throughout by the classical style and as we shall see when we come to consider Pugin and Ruskin, many held rightly that this classicism was narrow and cold. But even its narrowness was broad in the sense that it was as broad as the whole people. As Mr. Braddell writes: “In the 18th century all were agreed that as far as they were concerned, classic architecture was vastly superior to what seemed to them the rude barbarities of Tudor and Jacobean architecture.”

Today we have none of that. Today that is, we have things that few people admire and we have things that a lot of people put up with. But we have not anything that can be called the taste of the age, which in the 18th century would make a banker and a bankclerk and a crossing sweeper and even a poor wretched artist or architect agree that the old Bank of England was a suitable and elegant direction.

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