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Romanticism: Friedrich Karl Wilhelm von Schlegel: Excerpts from Selected Works (1798-1804)

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[On the Cologne cathedral] This noble work, considered in an architectural point of view, affords an example of all the beauties of the second floriated Gothic style. The same figures of the triangle and the square, the circle and the quatrefoil, form the groundwork of all those decorations, which, as in the early Christian, are introduced with a more profound attention to the scientific structure of the building. But these no longer appear in naked simplicity and geometrical exactness; they are all veiled with clustering foliage and the luxuriance of vegetable life: as in the enamelled carpet of spring, we cannot, amid its verdant productions, clearly discern the precise geometrical symmetry of each isolated form, but see all bloom and unfold their beauty together, in one general glow of life and immortality! The very existence of Gothic architecture seems bound up with the luxuriance of its forms and floriation. Hence the unvaried repetition of the same decorations, their plant-like similarity, and the deeply expressive, yet tranquil mystery, the joyous loveliness and animation, which fill every beholder with reverence and admiration. The symbolism of Gothic architecture is, indeed, of the highest order; that of painting appears feeble in comparison with it, and its allusions to divinity embarrassed and uncertain. Architecture, on the contrary, by its imitation of the beauties of nature, brings the idea of the Divinity palpably before our minds, even without any direct allusion to the mysteries of Christianity. Christian faith and hope had, however, no trifling influence on the development of ecclesiastical architecture.

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Voyage up the Rhine.
The most beautiful scenery on the Rhine begins a little above Bonn. Richly enamelled meadow land extends like a deep valley between hills and mountains, stretching down to the influx of the Moselle at Coblentz, and from thence to St. Goar and Bingen, gradually narrowing as it advances, the rocks become more steep and the prospect wilder and more sublime. The Rhine is here most charming, enlivened on its course by the populous shores, overhanging rocks, and ruined castles, it appears more like a painting, the intentional creation of some artist's genius, than a merely accidental combination of nature. The first of the many ruins situated on the Rhine, which we passed in ascending from the flat country upwards, is Godesberg, beautiful, not so much from its majestic situation as from the rich prospect it commands. The Drachenfels next appearing, seem to kindle in the mind glowing anticipations of all the strange wild fastnesses which crown the rocky shores of our mighty river. Such ruins as these are often viewed with a sort of sentimental tranquillity, as it were, forming a romantic background, indispensably necessary to the development of the favourite feelings of the day; or, it may be, only as robber castles, which, in times of peace and order, were of course demolished, and which must ever remain in ruins.

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