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Architecture, Mysticism and Myth, by W.R. Lethaby, [1892], at

p. vii


IN sending out this essay, I must ask for indulgence.

In the first place, because this is, so far as known to me, the only attempt to set out, from an architect's point of view, the basis of certain ideas common in the architecture of many lands and religions, the purposes behind structure and form which may be called the esoteric principles of architecture.

And secondly, for an attempt to deal with a subject that could only be rightly handled by one having the equipments of a wide scholarship; while I can only claim that there should come of regular apprenticeship and long practice in any craft or art, a certain instinct of insight not possessed by mere outsiders though never so learned. The author who asks the question quoted on the title page, says that Mr. Herbert Spencer's essay on the origin of the styles of architecture fails because he was not himself an architect, and no architect had prepared the way. I refer to this in the 

p. viii

hope that writing thus, on my own art, may be sufficient excuse for any appearance of affectation and presumption in quoting unfamiliar matter at second hand; for I must say at once, what will be sufficiently apparent on any page, that my knowledge of books is only that of the general reader, and that I have made use of such inferior editions, translations, and chance extracts as have come in my way; venturing to suppose that, if the thought were clear, a passage originally in hieroglyphs, or on clay tablets, might be dealt with as readily as a paragraph from an evening paper.

In such a wide field I have thought it well to concentrate my attention on some few definite points, and I fear, in doing this, there may be some unnecessary insistence and repetition: a tendency to overprove, and an attempt to explain too much; on the one hand to burden with what is obvious, on the other to weaken by unfounded conjecture.

The main proposition occurred to me after collecting and comparing a large number of architectural legends, and it was not until I read definitely, for further confirmation, that I found statements, a sentence here and there, anticipating me on nearly every point. It is only since this has been in the publishers’ hands that I have seen Dr. Warren's 'Paradise Found,' to find there several coincidences with my chapters IV. and V.

p. ix

To clear the page of footnotes, and to strengthen the structure of the argument by expert evidence, I have generally preferred to transcribe my authorities directly rather than attempt, by paraphrasing them, to give an air of ease and unity to my own work. Equally by either method—'Would you know the new, you must search the old.'

I have the pleasure of thanking friends who have helped me, especially Mr. Ernest Newton and Mr. E. S. Prior. The figures 22, 24, and 30 are from sketches kindly lent me by Mr. Brindley, Mr. Schultz, and Mr. Barnsley.




'The prince Humayun fitted up seven houses of entertainment, and named them after the seven planets, ordering all the furniture, paintings, and also the dresses of those who waited upon him, to bear something that was an emblem, of the tutelar star of the house. In the house of the Moon met foreign ambassadors, travellers, and poets. Military men attended him in the house of Mars, and judges, lawgivers, and secretaries were received in that of Mercury.'


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