This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
We urge upon every person to study the face of nature; learn the names, habits, and qualities of trees and plants, that they may enjoy and appreciate the beauty of gardens and beautiful scenes or objects in nature - not that they should all be landscape gardeners. Popular ignorance of any art or profession, is sure to be a dead weight upon it. If landscape painting were better understood among us, artists in that way would be more extensively employed, and much better paid than we believe they are.
It is to the education of youth - the rising generation, that we must look for a general and radical reform in architecture. The circulation of such books as Downing's, is comparatively limited, falling into the hands of such persons only as have become interested in the subject. Besides, essays on the general subject of architecture, its importance, influence, etc, however useful in awakening interest on the subject, are not calculated to impart elementary instruction. Those who are capable of fully understanding plans, elevations, etc, are the fewer number; they may be pleased or displeased with the picture, but are totally unfit to go into an examination of the details - the rudimentary knowledge is wanting. We wish some enterprising publisher would at once start the publication of a cheap illustrated architectural monthly or quarterly journal, under the direction of one or more competent editors; and, instead of presenting pretty pictures to the public, such as most of our contributions on this subject are, let them begin at the beginning, and teach first of all the very alphabet We had par tially decided upon devoting a portion of this journal to such a purpose; but, on reflection, on examining the field which we now occupy, and which is legitimately that of the Horticulturist, we saw clearly that one or both branches must suffer, and so wo shall go on as we have done.
But we do feel the utter inefficiency of what the press is now doing in this country, to disseminate knowledge and cultivate taste on the subject of architecture. We shall, however, do all we can to impart knowledge on this subject.
By way of showing, in this connection, the estimate placed by writers upon the popular knowledge of architecture in England, at this time, we quote from a capital paper which appeared in a late number of the London Quarterly, entitled "The Present State of Architecture:"
"The language which architectural design of necessity employs to express its conceptions, though easy to be acquired, is an unknown tongue to people in general. Those who would smile if they were asked whether they could understand a map, would think it unreasonable to be expected to comprehend a plan. A 'section' is a mystery which they would at once throw aside in despair, and even an 'elevation' is considered to be only an awkward, formal, and disagreeable kind of picture. It is by no means easy to make them see the relative nature and value of geometric and perspective representations, and that both are indispensable for complete illustrations of a structure. Geometrical delineation gives the exact forms and dimensions of objects; perspective shows the image* of them, - not as they are in themselves, but as they appear to the eye, according to the direction and distance from which they are viewed. The latter mode does not need an interpreter, for habit has caused it to speak intelligibly to all; and the simplicity of the other would make it equally intelligible if a very little instruction on the subject were to form a portion of general education.
To say nothing of the value, under almost any circumstances, of some acquaintance with a study which trains the eye to accuracy of observation, and which is the copious source of so pure an enjoyment, as to be utterly incapable of any taint of sensuality, it would plainly be to the advantage of the art itself, and of those who practice it - supposing them to practice it worthily - if the public were able to read its productions. Its professors would then be compelled to keep pace with the increased information of their patrons; and would be stimulated to diligence by the encouraging assurance that superior talent would be competently appreciated even when displayed upon paper. Designs would thenceforth be regarded as works of art in themselves, instead of being looked upon as mere patterns, because they neither are, nor assume to be, pictures also. There is nothing, we will venture to affirm, to hinder any one, with taste for the study, from understanding and relishing architectural plans quite as thoroughly as those who belong to the profession".