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No. 415 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 415
Thursday, June 26, 1712. Addison.

‘Adde tot egregias urbes, operumque laborem.’


Having already shewn how the Fancy is affected by the Works of Nature, and afterwards considered in general both the Works of Nature and of Art, how they mutually assist and compleat each other, in forming such Scenes and Prospects as are most apt to delight the Mind of the Beholder, I shall in this Paper throw together some Reflections on that Particular Art, which has a more immediate Tendency, than any other, to produce those Primary Pleasures of the Imagination, which have hitherto been the Subject of this Discourse. The Art I mean is that of Architecture, which I shall consider only with regard to the Light in which the foregoing Speculations have placed it, without entring into those Rules and Maxims which the great Masters of Architecture have laid down, and explained at large in numberless Treatises upon that Subject.

Greatness, in the Works of Architecture, may be considered as relating to the Bulk and Body of the Structure, or to the Manner in which it is built. As for the first, we find the Ancients, especially among the Eastern Nations of the World, infinitely superior to the Moderns.

Not to mention the Tower of Babel, of which an old Author says, there were the Foundations to be seen in his time, which looked like a spacious Mountain; what could be more noble than the Walls of Babylon, its hanging Gardens, and its Temple to Jupiter Belus, that rose a Mile high by Eight several Stories, each Story a Furlong in Height, and on the Top of which was the Babylonian Observatory; I might here, likewise, take Notice of the huge Rock that was cut into the Figure of Semiramis, with the smaller Rocks that lay by it in the Shape of Tributary Kings; the prodigious Basin, or artificial Lake, which took in the whole Euphrates, till such time as a new Canal was formed for its Reception, with the several Trenches through which that River was conveyed. I know there are persons who look upon some of these Wonders of Art as Fabulous, but I cannot find any [Grand [1]] for such a Suspicion, unless it be that we have no such Works among us at present. There were indeed many greater Advantages for Building in those Times, and in that Part of the World, than have been met with ever since. The Earth was extremely fruitful, Men lived generally on Pasturage, which requires a much smaller number of Hands than Agriculture: There were few Trades to employ the busie Part of Mankind, and fewer Arts and Sciences to give Work to Men of Speculative Tempers; and what is more than all the rest, the Prince was absolute; so that when he went to War, he put himself at the Head of a whole People: As we find Semiramis leading her [three [2]] Millions to the Field, and yet over-powered by the Number of her Enemies. ‘Tis no wonder, therefore, when she was at Peace, and turned her Thoughts on Building, that she could accomplish so great Works, with such a prodigious Multitude of Labourers: Besides that, in her Climate, there was small Interruption of Frosts and Winters, which make the Northern Workmen lie half the Year Idle. I might mention too, among the Benefits of the Climate, what Historians say of the Earth, that it sweated out a Bitumen or natural kind of Mortar, which is doubtless the same with that mentioned in Holy Writ, as contributing to the Structure of Babel. Slime they used instead of Mortar.

In Egypt we still see their Pyramids, which answer to the Descriptions that have been made of them; and I question not but a traveller might find out some Remains of the Labyrinth that covered a whole Province, and had a hundred Temples disposed among its several Quarters and Divisions.