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IN making the selections for this book, which is thought to be the realization of a new idea, it has been my endeavour to bring together descriptions of several famous buildings written by authors who have appreciated the romantic spirit, as well as the architectural beauty and grandeur, of the work they describe.
It would be impossible to collect within the small boundaries of a single volume sketches and pictures of all the masterpieces of architecture, and a vast amount of interesting literature has had to be ignored. I have tried, however, to gather choice examples of as many different styles of architecture as possible and to give a description, wherever practicable, of each building's special object of veneration, such as the Christ of Burgos and the Cid's coffer in the same Cathedral; the Emerald Buddha at Wat Phra Kao, Bangkok; the statue of Our Lady at Toledo; the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket at Canterbury; etc., as well as the special
feature for which any particular building is famous, such as the Court of Lions in the Alhambra; the Chapel of Henry VII. in Westminster Abbey; the Convent of the Escurial; the spiral stairway at Chambord; etc., and also a typical scene, like the dance de los seises in the Cathedral of Seville; and the celebration of Easter at St. Peter's. .
Ruskin says: "It is well to have not only what men have thought and felt, but what their hands have handled and their strength wrought all the days of their life." It is also well to have what sympathetic authors have written about these massive and wonderful creations of stone which have looked down upon and outlived so many generations of mankind.
With the exception of the Mosque of Santa Sofia, all the translations have been made expressly for this book.
New York, May, 1898.