CHAPTER 2. THIS WILL KILL THAT.
The generating idea, the word, was not only at the foundation
of all these edifices, but also in the form. The temple
of Solomon, for example, was not alone the binding of the
holy book; it was the holy book itself. On each one of its
concentric walls, the priests could read the word translated and
manifested to the eye, and thus they followed its transformations
from sanctuary to sanctuary, until they seized it in its last
tabernacle, under its most concrete form, which still belonged to
architecture: the arch. Thus the word was enclosed in an
edifice, but its image was upon its envelope, like the human
form on the coffin of a mummy.
And not only the form of edifices, but the sites selected for
them, revealed the thought which they represented, according
as the symbol to be expressed was graceful or grave.
Greece crowned her mountains with a temple harmonious to
the eye; India disembowelled hers, to chisel therein those
monstrous subterranean pagodas, borne up by gigantic rows of
Thus, during the first six thousand years of the world, from
the most immemorial pagoda of Hindustan, to the cathedral
of Cologne, architecture was the great handwriting of the
human race. And this is so true, that not only every religious
symbol, but every human thought, has its page and its monument
in that immense book.
All civilization begins in theocracy and ends in democracy.
This law of liberty following unity is written in architecture.
For, let us insist upon this point, masonry must not be thought
to be powerful only in erecting the temple and in expressing
the myth and sacerdotal symbolism; in inscribing in hieroglyphs
upon its pages of stone the mysterious tables of the
law. If it were thus,--as there comes in all human society a
moment when the sacred symbol is worn out and becomes
obliterated under freedom of thought, when man escapes from
the priest, when the excrescence of philosophies and systems
devour the face of religion,--architecture could not reproduce
this new state of human thought; its leaves, so crowded on the
face, would be empty on the back; its work would be mutilated;
its book would he incomplete. But no.