Touch the Stones !

<<iv. We have, then, two qualities of buildings for subjects of separate inquiry: their action, and aspect, and the sources of virtue in both; that is to say, Strength and Beauty, both of these being less admired in themselves, than as testifying the intelligence or imagination of the builder.

For we have a worthier way of looking at human than at divine architecture: much of the value both of construction and decoration, in the edifices of men, depends upon our being led by the thing produced or adorned, to some contemplation of the powers of mind concerned in its creation or adornment. We are not so led by divine work, but are content to rest in the contemplation of the thing created. I wish the reader to note this especially: we take pleasure, or should take pleasure, in architectural construction altogether as the manifestation of an admirable human intelligence ; it is not the strength, not the size, not the finish of the work which we are to venerate: rocks are always stronger, mountains always larger, all natural objects more finished; but it is the intelligence and resolution of man in overcoming physical difficulty which are to be the source of our pleasure and subject of our praise. And again, in decoration or beauty, it is less the actual loveliness of the thing produced, than the choice and invention concerned in the production, which are to delight us ; the love and the thoughts of the workman more than his work : his work must always be imperfect, but his thoughts and affections may be true and deep.>>

(Ruskin, The Stones of Venice, pp. 38-39)

<<Coloro che conficcarono i primi pali sulla sabbia e intrecciarono le canne rivierasche per farne giacigli non pensarono di sicuro che i loro figli sarebbero divenuti sovrani di quello stesso mare e sarebbero stati orgoglioso, un tempo, dei loro palazzi; eppure, nelle grandi leggi naturali che reggono quella dolorosa solitudine, non si può non ricordare quale strana predisposizione era in serbo per il realizzarsi di eventi che nessuna immaginazione umana avrebbe potuto predire, e come l’esistenza e la fortuna dello Stato veneziano furono anticipate, o per necessità costrette, dalla disposizione di quelle barriere e di quelle bocche che danno sui fiumi e sul mare.>>

(Ruskin, Le pietre di Venezia, pag. 31)

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