Istyle in furniture

too great space, on the one hand, and, on the other, they are to be found fully set out in the chapter devoted to the consideration of the work of that period. Bearing in mind what he has recently studied on that subject, the reader will naturally wonder why it was that the English rendering was such a complete failure when the parent style was far from being so. There are several reasons to account for this, and I may explain briefly why so little success attended the efforts put forth by our own designers to transplant the " Empire" into British soil at the time of which I am writing. In the first place, the conditions prevailing in each country were essentially different. France was rendered almost mad with triumph by the many conquests added to her scroll of fame under the leadership of "The Little Corporal" ; her children had little mind for anything beside military glory. It followed, as a matter of course, that the existence of such a condition of affairs should, in some measure at least, be indicated by the tastes of the people, and revealed in the character of the decoration and furniture with which they elected to surround themselves; and so it was, as we have seen.

But when the effort was made to inspire another nation, living under totally different conditions, and possessing a totally different temperament, with enthusiasm for the same symbols, forms, and fancies, the task became impossible of execution. Much that was pregnant with meaning to the subjects of Napoleon, who rejoiced in the overthrow of one monarchy and the setting up of another, appealed but slightly to their neighbours on this side of the Channel, who were not by any manner of means in a similar mood, and had no desire to be. A determined attempt was organised, nevertheless, to force the " Empire" down their throats, whether they wanted it or not; and, as the attempt was clumsily made, the result was that the erstwhile beauty of the English home, which it had taken so many years to bring the nineteenth century 317

to the rare state of perfection that it had attained, suffered terribly ; indeed, it almost disappeared altogether for a time.

It seems most curious, withal, and notwithstanding the reason advanced above, that our dssigners could not extract something better from the "Empire" than they did; the style itself, whatever else may be said about it, was refined, stately, and dignified in the extreme. That its imitation here should lead to such fearfully hopeless ugliness, seems to indicate that there was something radically wrong with the imitators. It must be admitted, however, that they had a very difficult task to perform ; indeed, they endeavoured to accomplish the impossible, and naturally failed.

The English cabinet maker attempted to ape the magnificence of the u Empire " without the opportunities, or the means requisite, to enable him to do so successfully. He set himself to reproduce as nearly as possible, and in a form which would be within the means of the average householder, models designed and made for the palaces of an emperor, and into the production of which the question of cost had probably never entered. The elaborate carving, the chimerical figures, the delicate brush-work, and above all the ormolu mounts—all features which were part and parcel of the original style, and without which it was no style at all—were far too costly for employment in the conditions under which the British furnisher had to work. In the great mass of his productions any dependence upon the aid of such accessories could not for one moment be entertained, and even elaborate shaping of the woodwork itself was seldom permissible, by reason of cost. The early Victorian designer was not to be daunted, however ; so he went to work to find a substitute for all these characteristic elements which were forbidden him. He finally decided to atone for their absence by increasing the wood, determining that, if his creations could not impose respect by the weight of their magnificence, they should, at least, do so by that of their timber. That is the

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