The Oxford English prize essays
Book format: An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.
Publisher: Date:8/4/2009 - General Books LLC
By: University of Oxford
Excerpt from book: ON ARCHITECTURE. The arts in general, respecting human life, are justly distinguished from one another, as they contribute to its necessities, or its ornament. The first of these claim a preference to the latter, founded on intrinsic value, and may be considered as the remote source of their existence. Those inquiries therefore may be esteemed instructive, as well as entertaining, which, by tracing them severally from their first common origin, and following them in their gradual progress towards perfection, at once display the inventive genius of our earliest ancestors, and the laudable emulation and thirst of improvement excited in their posterity. Considered in this view, the different stages of each art afford a lively picture of the successive gradations of man, from a state of nature, savage and uncultivated, to the latter refinements of politeness and civilization. Nor indeed has anything been esteemed a more certain criterion of the civilized state of particular nations with respect to each other, in every age, than the different degrees of attention and encouragement bestowed on the liberal arts. When we reflect on the immediate causes which gave rise to arts, and especially to the more useful ones, we cannot wonder at the claim of high antiquity, which they have been so universally allowed to possess. On the contrary, we are unable to conceive mankind to have continued long in ignorance of those inventions, the improvements of which we find to be so essentially necessary to our own convenience and comfort. It is to the wants of men, ever urging them to find means for their alleviation, that we may attribute the origin of arts : even of those, which, by the accumulation of splendour they have since received, conceal in some measure the humility and meanness of th...