Appendix 4: 19th Century Religious Eccentricities.

a) Philip Henry Gosse, Omphalos: an Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot (1857) Gosse argued that world was not millions of years old at all, but that the way that God had created it made it look as if it was! The fossil record was thus, in effect, a record of life that had never really existed at all! Gosse’s well-intentioned theory – well intentioned in the sense that it sought to reconcile a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis with the latest findings of Geology – invited much ridicule, from atheists and Christians alike, alongside the more serious objection from Christians that it was inconceivable that God would have created such a monstrous lie deliberately to deceive mankind. Gosse did try to anticipate this argument by arguing, for example, that for God’s first created trees to act as a model for later trees, they would have to have had artificial tree rings implanted in them, even though these could not have formed naturally through annual growth, but his arguments didn’t find many converts, not even his own son, the poet, critic, essayist and member of the Omar Khayyam Club of London, Edmund Gosse, who regarded his father’s ideas as eccentric, to say the least. “Omphalos”, incidentally, is a Greek word meaning “navel”. It refers to Gosse’s hypothesis that though Adam and Eve were not born in the usual sense, nevertheless God created them with artificial navels to act as a model for the navels of future generations who would be born naturally with umbilical cords and hence real navels!

Actually, the foregoing rather oversimplifies Gosse’s theory, which involved viewing the Universe as a union of numerous cyclical processes of varying durations. To take Man as an example, human life consists of successive generations - cycles of birth, growth, procreation and death. Now, when God created Adam and Eve as adults, he also created the blueprint for the cyclical development of their descendants, which meant that Adam and Eve were automatically imbued with those characteristics associated with a development from birth and childhood, even though they hadn't actually lived through them: hence the contentious navels, alongside other age-related characteristic features such as nails, hair and teeth. Gosse called these pre-Creation dummy characteristics “prochronic”, as opposed to the “diachronic” post-Creation real developments. Fossils, too, were prochronic, but relating to geological cycles involving much longer periods of time. Present day sedimentation implied fossil formation in the future, ipso facto, the blueprint for Creation had to contain prochronic precedents - fossils which seemed to be millions of years old, but which were in fact ‘dummies’ created only a few thousand years ago in accordance with the Book of Genesis. [For the concepts of prochronic and diachronic characteristics, see Gosse p.124-5; for tree rings in the newly created trees in the Garden of Eden, see p.177f; for Adam and Eve’s navels, which take up only a small part of the book, though undoubtedly the most famous one, see p.289-90 & p.346-7; for fossils, see p.342f; and for Gosse’s argument that prochronisms are not a deliberate deception by God, but a necessary consequence of His Act of Creation setting off a multi-cyclic Universe, see p.347f.]

A word about Edmund Gosse is perhaps in order here. Though he would have liked to have been better remembered as a poet, he is known today mostly for his autobiographical book Father and Son, first published anonymously in 1907, and still in print today. P.H. Gosse, the Father, who had died in 1888, had belonged to the Plymouth Brethren, and Edmund Gosse, the Son, described his family home as “our Calvinist cloister” (Ch.2.) Christmas, for example, was regarded as Popish idolatry (Ch.5.) Nevertheless, Edmund Gosse certainly did love his father and he did hold him in high regard, but the book is a fascinating account of a son's real struggle against his father's obsessively pious attempts to keep him away from Sin and safe in the Ways of the Lord. It was a struggle which presumably took place in many a Victorian family, though perhaps not to such a severe degree as in the Gosse family. It was in Father and Son (ch.5) that Gosse described his father’s book Omphalos as “this curious, this obstinate, this fanatical volume.” In the same chapter he tells us that the rejection and mockery of his theory made his father “angry with God” but that later “he considered the failure of his attempt at the reconciliation of science with religion to have been intended by God as a punishment for something he had done or left undone.” Perhaps P.H. Gosse would have taken some comfort from the judgement of Martin Gardner, the arch-skeptic of all theories eccentric and pseudo-scientific. In his book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science (1957), Gardner wrote of Omphalos that “it presented a theory so logically perfect, and so in accord with geological facts that no amount of scientific evidence will ever be able to refute it.” (p.125)

FitzGerald appears not to have read or heard about Gosse’s Omphalos, for he makes no reference to it in his letters.

b) John William Colenso, The Pentateuch and Book of Joshua, Critically Examined (1862-1879). Colenso was made Bishop of Natal in 1853, and it is sometimes said that though he set out to convert the Zulus, in the end it was the Zulus who converted him. Though it makes a good story, it wasn’t quite like that. What appears to have happened is that some of his Zulu congregation started to ask some pretty awkward logistical questions about the Bible which set him thinking. As it happens, Colenso was also a mathematician – he had, in fact, published manuals on arithmetic and algebra some years before – and it was his arithmetical talents combined with the Zulus logistical questions which led to his rather strange work of Biblical Criticism. For example, using the Bible, Colenso estimated the number of Israelites at the time of the Exodus to be some 2 million, which figure, he reckoned, implied the birth of some 250 children per day. Now, the Bible tells us that there were only 3 priests to officiate the 2 sacrifices attendant on each of these births, which would have to be completed within a 12 hour period. But each sacrifice would necessarily take at least 5 minutes, and 250 x 2 x 5 = 2500 minutes, or about 42 hours, which divided between the 3 priests certainly exceeded 12 hours, even assuming the priests took no breaks at all. Furthermore, the 3 priests would be required to eat a sacrificial animal from one of the sacrifices for each birth, the minimum offering being a pigeon. Thus the 3 priests would have to eat a minimum of 250 pigeons between them each day – more than 80 each, in other words. Again, when it came to the Passover, Colenso estimated that these same 3 priests would have had to slaughter about 400 lambs per minute to get the job done in the Biblically specified time. As if that weren’t enough, Colenso’s analysis of the genealogy of Moses and Aaron revealed on the one hand, that “every Hebrew mother must have had, on the average, more than 40 children” and on the other hand, that Moses, his two sons, Aaron and his two sons “must have had between them 2,748 sons”!

Oddly enough, Colenso’s book was a source of great comfort to John Ruskin in his own loss of faith. As he wrote in a letter to Sir John Naesmyth, written in 1862, he too had had similar scriptural doubts, but had stayed silent fearing that he was alone in such doubts. (Ruskin, Works, vol.36, p.424-5) Not so for Lord Shaftesbury, who dismissed it as “this puerile and ignorant attack on the sacred and unassailable Word of God.” (Edwin Hodder, The Life and Work of the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury K.G. (1886), vol.3, p.163.)

As might be expected, Colenso’s book generated some equally eccentric rejoinders – for example, Moses right and Bishop Colenso wrong by Rev. John Cumming, D.D. (1863) – for Rev. Cumming, see (c) below. Cumming’s book in its turn generated a rejoinder in the form of Cumming wrong, Colenso right: a Reply to the Rev. Dr Cumming’s ‘Moses right, Colenso wrong’ by a London Zulu (1863) – a London Zulu being the pen-name of George Jacob Holyoake.

Though FitzGerald himself makes no mention of Colenso’s book in his letters, Edward Byles Cowell was certainly familiar with it. As an amateur mathematician Cowell had used Colenso’s very popular text books on arithmetic and algebra (as note 5, p.63), and in later life, when he was out in India, where Colenso’s book was proving very troublesome to the spreading of the Gospel, he was reputed to have said that “if anything was wanted to prove the existence of an Evil Providence such as we attribute to the Arch-enemy, it would be enough to refer to the preparation of men’s minds for Colenso’s heresies by the wide diffusion of his manuals of arithmetic and kindred subjects.”(ib.p.427).

Browning mentions Colenso in verse 29 of his poem “Gold Hair: a Story of Pornic”, first published in his collection Dramatis Personae in 1864:

The candid incline to surmise of late
That the Christian faith proves false, I find:
For our Essays-and-Reviews’ debate
Begins to tell on the public mind,
And Colenso’s words have weight:

For Essays and Reviews see note 27c.

c) Predicting the End of the World from the prophetic books of the Bible, notably the Books of Daniel in the Old Testament and Revelation in the New – was a favourite occupation of many a Victorian evangelist. Actually, that rather oversimplifies things, for the broader aim was usually to fit the symbolic prophecies of the Bible both to events which have already happened, and to events which are still to happen, the latter category including the End – by which can be meant anything from the physical destruction of the Earth to the End of the Present World Order. It is all so wonderfully vague that when it goes wrong, it is not too difficult to find a way out of it and the “have another go”, as it were. The phenomenon continues apace today, which is amazing, considering that history is littered with prophesied ends-of-the-world that failed to happen.

To give a good, easily understood, example of prophetic symbolism from the Book of Revelation, the “scarlet coloured beast…having seven heads” (Rev.17.3), the seven heads being “seven mountains” (17.9), is commonly linked to Rome, the city being built, as it was, on seven hills. The woman seated upon the beast (17.3) – the Mother of Harlots (17.5) – is thus, to Protestants at least, quite clearly the Church of Rome, its wealth being symbolised by “the gold and precious stones and pearls” (17.4) with which the woman is arrayed. More famously than the beast with seven heads, we have “the number of the beast” – 666 – “six hundred three score and six” (Rev.13.18), a number which has entranced interpreters of prophetic symbolism over the years. Generally interpreters have resorted to gematria or numerology, by which numerical equivalents are given to letters, and the sum of the numbers corresponding to the letters of a word, or title, or name, is reckoned to give an insight into its nature. Identification of the Beast or Antichrist via the gematria or other numerical properties of names has led to his identification  as Nero, Mohammed, Luther, Napoleon, Hitler, Pope Leo X, the Catholic Church as a whole, Ronald Reagan, and – not altogether seriously, it is true – Winnie the Pooh.

The interpretation of biblical prophecy has a long and often ponderously dull history which began long before the Victorian era. Sir Isaac Newton indulged in it, in his Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St John (published posthumously in 1733). Undoubtedly the man who really got to grips with it in scholarly detail was Rev. Edward Bishop Elliot who, after many years study, published his 3 volume work Horae Apocalypticae in 1844. By 1862 it had reached its fifth edition and had swelled to 4 volumes. Elliot, like Newton before him, was very wary of predicting the future from the prophetic books of the Bible, but nevertheless it struck him that AD 1866 was a year strongly indicated for something big to happen. It didn’t, and it is perhaps significant that no further editions of Horae Apocalypticae appeared, even though Elliot lived on till 1875.

Though Elliot was the real scholar in the field, it was one of his followers – Rev. John Cumming – who achieved the greater fame with his fiery oratory at public meetings. He was famous enough to be invited to preach before Queen Victoria at both Balmoral and Dunrobin, and to invite a scathing review of his teachings by George Eliot in the Westminster Review in 1855 (vol.64, p.436-462.) Eliot opened her article thus:

“Given, a man with moderate intellect, a moral standard not higher than the average, some rhetorical affluence and great glibness of speech, what is the career in which, without the aid of birth or money, he may most easily attain power and reputation in English society? Where is that Goshen of mediocrity in which a smattering of science and learning will pass for profound instruction, where platitudes will be accepted as wisdom, bigoted narrowness as holy zeal, unctuous egoism as God-given piety? Let such a man become an evangelical preacher; he will then find it possible to reconcile small ability with great ambition, superficial knowledge with the prestige of erudition, a middling morale with a high reputation for sanctity.”

Rev Cumming wrote numerous books about Biblical Prophecy, among which were his Apocalyptic Sketches: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, published in two series in 1854 and 1856;The Great Tribulation: Or, Things Coming on the Earth, published in two series in 1860 and 1861; and The Destiny of Nations as indicated in Prophecy (1864). Rev Cumming had a notion that 1867 was to be a significant point in Christian history, a sort of “millennial dawn”. It wasn’t, but that didn’t prevent him from going back to the drawing board and publishing When shall these Things be? Or Signs of the Last Times in 1868. For a good article on Rev Cumming and his era, see “Prophecy and Anti-Popery in Victorian London: John Cumming reconsidered”, by R.H.Ellison and C.M.Engelhardt, in Victorian Literature and Culture (2003), p.373-389.

A bizarre off-shoot of divining the date of the End from the prophetic books of the Bible was Pyramidology. Starting from the premise that the Great Pyramid of Egypt was no mere tomb, but a monument that had been inspired directly by God to enshrine a history of the Christian Dispensation, it used the measurements of the passages and chambers of the pyramid to construct a time-line of history. The undoubted champion of this field was Charles Piazzi Smyth, the Astronomer Royal for Scotland, who published the first edition of his book Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid in 1864. It went through five ever-growing editions, the last appearing in 1890, and inspired many other authors to put pen to paper, both in the 19th and 20th centuries. Pyramidology also became involved with the notion that the British were the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel, on which see Appendix 4d below.

d) One of the strangest ideas to take hold in some sections of 19th century England – aside from the idea that the plays of Shakespeare contained coded messages from their true author, Francis Bacon – was the idea that the British were one of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel. The psychology of it is not difficult to work out. The British, with their mighty Empire, and their pious spreading of the Gospel of Christ throughout that Empire, had their home in a tiny island off north-west Europe, far removed from the Israel in which their Saviour had been born. How could that be? The answer was surely that the British were really Israelites – one of the Lost Ten Tribes.

One of the earliest to propose an idea along these lines was John Sadler, in his book Rights of the Kingdom, published as early as 1649. Sadler noted that a number of laws and customs of the British were similar to those of the Israelites. But the book seems to have attracted relatively little notice, and probably the main boost to the idea came later, in 1794, with the publication of a book by Richard Brothers entitled A Revealed Knowledge of the Prophecies and Times: Book the First: wrote under the Direction of the Lord God, and Published by His Sacred Command, it being the First Sign of Warning for the Benefit of All Nations, containing, with other Great and Remarkable Things, Not Revealed to any other Person on Earth, the Restoration of the Hebrews to Jerusalem, by the Year of 1798, Under their Revealed Prince and Prophet, this being Brothers himself, of course. With a title like that it comes as no surprise to learn that in the year following publication, Brothers was confined to a lunatic asylum, as they were known in those politically incorrect times. Nevertheless, despite 1798 passing without any Restoration of the Hebrews to Jerusalem, with or without Richard Brothers, he had his followers,and in 1822, two years before his death, he published his Correct Account of the Invasion of England by the Saxons, showing the English Nation to be Descendants of the Lost Ten Tribes.

The 19th century saw a proliferation of British-Israel books. Thus John Wilson published the first edition of his Lectures on Our Israelitish Origin in 1840, a fifth and much expanded edition of which appeared in 1876. Also in 1876 appeared J. Leyland Feilden’s Links in the Chain of Evidence connecting Israel and England. It was respectfully dedicated to Queen Victoria as “The Queen of Israel, the Heiress of the Promises of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (On his p.91 Feilden traces Queen Victoria’s lineal descent from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribe of Judah.) At about the same time appeared the (undated) book by Edward Hine, Forty Seven Identifications of the British Nation with the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel, founded upon Five Hundred Scripture Proofs. In the 35th of these, Hine points out that in the Bible (Deuteronomy 7.6 & 14.2) the Israelites are described as a chosen people “above all people that are upon the face of the earth”; the British, with their great Empire, are clearly “above all people that are upon the face of the earth”; “ergo,” argues Hine, “we must be Israel.” Again, in the 6th Identification, Hine argues that England – the tiny island off the coast off north-west Europe – was prophetically referred to in the Bible as “the Isles of the Western Seas” (Isaiah 24.15.) In the 10th and 11th Identifications, he points out that the Bible prophesies that Israel will change its name (Isaiah 65.15) and its language (Isaiah 28.11), which explains why the British are not obviously Israelites.And when one sceptic asked Hine why that British people didn’t look Jewish, he had a ready answer (p.156-160): that the Jews only started to look Jewish, as a mark of punishment, after they had crucified Christ. Before then the Jews had looked English. Finally, like Feilden, Hine, in his 25th Identification and elsewhere, traces the British Royal Family back to Israel’s House of King David. The following paragraph is a good example of the patriotic fervour behind the British Israel theory:

“The Identification of our Nation with Israel has more important uses than any other subject. By it we come to the knowledge that it is not simply the Will of the People – by the national choice – that we find ourselves under the Strongest Monarchy on Earth, but because this Form of Government was positively chosen for us by God. It is His Will that British Rule should be administered by a Monarchy, and no Power can possibly override God’s Will. Hence, we become the ONLY Nation in the World whose Government has been selected, designed, and given by God. No other nation can lay claim to this privilege: and, whilst other nations alter, patch and re-model; build up, and then destroy their ruling sway by passion, caprice, or ignorance, the British Monarchy holds its Majestic Dignity in a literal and positive Line of Descent from the very Throne of David.” (p.116)

To which Hine adds later:

“The British Monarchy and David’s Throne are indestructible. Long may it be the Nation’s prayer: GOD SAVE THE QUEEN.” (p.119)

Incidentally, the whole business of tracing the British Royal Family back to its Israelitish origins appears to have been pioneered by Rev. F.R.A. Glover in his book England the Remnant of Judah, first published in 1860, a work which Hine describes as “unequalled for penetration and intrinsic worth” (p.116). The delusion continued on into the 20th century with Rev. W.M.H. Milner’s little book The Royal House of Britain: An Enduring Dynasty, first published in 1902, but running to many later editions, and still in print today.

A related eccentricity is Robert Govett’s book English derived from Hebrew, with Glances at Greek and Latin, published in 1869. The title explains the contents, and, not surprisingly, Hine regarded it as “a most valuable work” (p.155).

FitzGerald himself appears to have had no dealings with the British Israel Movement, but his good friend Frederick Tennyson was apparently a firm believer. (See Sir Charles Tennyson & Hope Dyson, The Tennysons: Background to Genius (1974), p.101.)

e) Another strange idea that was to gain some popularity was that Christ had actually visited Britain in his youth, with Joseph of Arimathea, the uncle of the Virgin Mary, who was involved in the tin-trade with Cornwall. It was surely to this legend that William Blake alluded in those famous lines:

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

For a good account of the legend, the evidence for the truth of which is best described as “flimsy”, see Rev. C.C.Dobson, Did Our Lord visit Britain, as they say in Cornwall and Somerset? This little booklet was first published in 1936, but has since been reprinted many times. Rev. Dobson himself firmly believed in the legend, needless to say. Again, the psychology behind the belief is clear: the legend serves to connect more closely the pious British with a Saviour who was born and died so far away in the Middle East.

There is also a large volume of literature centred on the supposed visit(s) of St Joseph of Arimathea to Britain, and in particular to Glastonbury, where, following the Crucifixion, he is said to have brought the blood of Christ in the Holy Grail, and to have founded the first Christian church in England. See Lionel Smithett Lewis, St Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury, first published in 1922 but with many reprints since; and, for a more skeptical view, R.F.Treharne, The Glastonbury Legends (1967). Tennyson was particularly intrigued by the legend when he visited Glastonbury in 1850, as is described in Alfred Lord Tennyson, a Memoir by his Son (1897), vol.1, p.332:

“My father was greatly interested by the legend that Joseph of Arimathea came there in 63 A.D. and founded the first Christian colony in England:

From our old books I know
That Joseph came of old to Glastonbury,
And there the heathen Prince, Arviragus,
Gave him an isle of marsh on which to build;
And there he built with wattles from the marsh
A little lonely church in days of yore.”

The quoted lines are from Tennyson’s poem “Idylls of the King”.

William Morris also refers to the legend in his poem The Defence of Guinevere, first published in 1858:

He rode on giddy still, until he reach’d
A place of apple-trees, by the thorn-tree
Wherefrom St. Joseph in the days past preached.

(“King Arthur’s Tomb”, lines 122-4.)

Though I am not aware of any evidence, beyond the famous lines quoted at the start of this section, that William Blake knew of the legend of Christ visiting Britain, he certainly knew of the legend of St. Joseph and his church at Glastonbury, for he did an engraving entitled “Joseph of Arimathea among the Rocks of Albion”, dated 1773. See, for example, Peter Ackroyd, Blake (1995), Chapter 5.

f) Among the books that take the Bible literally, Captain George Palmer’s book The Migration from Shinar (1879) is a fine example. Palmer wanted nothing to do with a rationalist approach to the Bible. He regarded Colenso’s book (section b, above) as “blasphemous and silly” (p.x); as for the idea that Man was descended from the Ape, “we can only say that such miserable theories are only fit for the brains that boast of such an ancestry.”(p.52)

Palmer’s title relates to a literal interpretation of Chapter 11 of the Book of Genesis, in which the descendents of Noah begin to erect the Tower of Babel in the Plain of Shinar, and God, seeing their Tower as a piece of ambitious human insolence reaching up towards Heaven, decides to stop the project in its tracks by scattering the people “abroad from thence upon the face of the Earth”, and replacing their common language with a diversity of tongues, so that “they may not understand one another’s speech.”

Palmer’s literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis has two consequences. Firstly, it implies that far from Man evolving upwards from the Ape, he has actually fallen from a former high estate (p.33). (Compare the World Ages of note 24.) Secondly, Man’s spreading over the face of the Earth from the single source of Shinar explains why so many parallels are found between the widely separated cultures of the ancient and modern world, including the Americas, with which Palmer is largely concerned. Thus, so many cultures have Flood Stories (note 52) because they ‘remember’ the Flood from the days of Shinar (p.50-51). Again, the gods of the Egyptians, Persians, Hindus and peoples of the Americas share so many similarities because all have a common source: Shinar (p.49-50). In particular, for example, Huitzilopotchli of the Aztecs and Buddha of the Indians were alike supposed to have been born of a Virgin, which tradition was, according to Palmer, “derived from the early promise of a Messiah to the Jews.”(p.152) (This is a reference to the promise of Isaiah 7.14.)

Such ideas did not originate with Palmer – the following is to be found, for example, in Robert B.M.Binning’s book A Journal of Two Years’ Travel in Persia, Ceylon etc (1857):

“There can be little doubt that this Boodhist faith, is merely a corruption of the original and true religion, first proclaimed in Eden, and that the incarnate Boodha is but a human perversion of the promised Messiah.” (vol.1, p.44.)

Curiously, Binning did not make a similar remark regarding his mention of “the trimurti, or Hindoo Trinity – namely, Brahma, Vishnu and Siva” (vol.1, p.113).

Such notions furnish an alternative approach to Buddhist-Christian and other similarities to that outlined in Appendix 6 below, where the common source of all the similarities is ancient sun-worship rather than Shinar. Incidentally, Palmer rejects claims, by the likes of Huc and Gabet (mentioned earlier), that Buddhist-Christian similarities arise from the activities of early Nestorian Missionaries: the missionaries were not active early enough, he claims (p.153).

Interestingly, one of Palmer’s forerunners was none other than Sir William Jones – he whose Persian Grammar was used by FitzGerald to teach himself Persian. At a meeting of the Asiatic Society of Calcutta in 1792, Jones delivered a lecture “On the Origin of Families and Nations”. In it he expressed his belief that after the Flood of Noah, the families of the three sons of Noah did indeed migrate out from a single centre, located in Persia, exactly as the Bible said, their languages diversifying as they spread out. The family of Shem gave rise to the Arabian peoples and their languages; that of Ham to the Indians and their languages; and that of Japheth to the Tartars and their languages. Jones’s time-scale for all this was short: states and empires “could scarce have assumed a regular form” until about 1500 to 1600 years before Christ, he said, and 700 to 1000 years “would adequately allow for migration from a central point.” As to the original language of the human race – the language of Noah – Jones was forced to admit:

“I can only declare my belief, that the language of Noah is lost irretrievably, and assure you, that after diligent search, I cannot find a single word used in common by the Arabian, Indian and Tartar families, before the intermixture of dialects occasioned by Mohammedan conquests.”

The text of Jones’s lecture can be found in The Works of Sir William Jones, with the Life of the Author, by Lord Teignmouth, vol.3 (1807), p.185-204.

g) A piece of religious eccentricity of a very different type to all the foregoing was provided by Augustus W. N. Pugin’s Contrasts; or, A Parallel between the Noble Edifices of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, and Similar Buildings of the Present Day: Shewing the Present Decay of Taste: Accompanied by Appropriate Text. First published in 1836, with a rather larger edition following in 1841, its title goes a long way to explaining the contents. Basically the decline was due to “the self-denying Catholic Principle” and the adoption of “luxuriant styles of ancient Paganism” – in other words, “the buildings have almost exclusively suffered through the destructive or Protestant principle.” In many ways, Pugin’s book is a religious interpretation of many of the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution, of which his first Plate is a good illustration. The lower half of the Plate shows “a Catholic Town in 1440”, a semi-rural scene dominated by fine Gothic churches, an abbey, the town Cross and a Guild Hall. The upper half of the Plate shows “The Same Town in 1840”, a built-up landscape in which are a New Parsonage House & Pleasure Grounds, a Jail, a Gas Works, a Lunatic Asylum, a New Town Hall with Concert Room, and an Iron Works (this being next to the old Abbey, now in ruins) – plus –and here is the religious angle – architecturally nondescript churches and chapels relating to the likes of the Baptists, the Unitarians, the Wesleyans and the Quakers – not to mention the Socialist Hall of Science! For Pugin’s Plate 1 see Gallery 6, Fig.1. His book is still eminently readable, with, for example, its denunciation of Buckingham Palace as “utterly unsuited for a Christian residence”! Or again, following his complaint about the “most inappropriate and tasteless monuments” being erected in Westminster Abbey, he asks:

“Have not the dean and chapter sufficient authority to prevent their erection? But what can we expect or hope from them, when they suffer filthy dolls to be exhibited within the sacred walls, to render the show–place more attractive to the holiday visitors?”


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