POINTED ARCHITECTURE, that style of architecture which originated in the substitution of the pointed for the semicircular arch, and which began to be employed in the early part of the twelfth century. The pointed arch is formed by the intersection of two segments, which in the earlier examples are very flat, and form very acute arches; but in the later periods are of quicker curvature, and the arches in consequence proportionately depressed. The pointed arch, however, although the main feature in the style, does not form its only peculiarity ; but in principle as well as in matters of detail, the style is peculiar and distinct from every other. This subject has been hilly discussed under the article GOTIIIC ARCHITECTURE, a name which the style has assumed in common with the above and many others. It is our intention in this place. to consider only the origin of the style and the manner of its development,. On this sub ject we are left almost entirely to our own resources, no manuscripts being known to exist which give us any infor mation respecting it, nor are we acquainted with even the names which the Gothic architects employed to designate the different divisions of their style. As regards the archi tects themselves, too, and the precise date of the buildings erected by them, we are left much in the dark ; and what ever conclusions may have been arrived at, have been founded on little better than conjecture. Natty archaeolo gists, architects, and others interested in the question, have treated upon the subject, and have eliminated a great deal of useful information by their researches, although not one of them can be said to have conic to a conclusive or satisfactory result regarding the question immediately before them. Na»y theories have been broached by different writers, some of which are plausible, and others little better than ridiculous; none arc so perfect as to obtain universal assent, nor is it to be expected under the circumstances that they should be so. It is perhaps owing to the uncertainty necessarily attending the research, that the subject has been so fashionable amongst antiquaries; but however unsatistitetory their inquiries may have been as regards the matter in dispute, we mast not forget that it is in all probability to such inquiries we owe our present knowledge on the subject, and the present appre ciation of the style. Our very want of information as to its
origin has probably been rather an advantage than otherwise, for we have been compelled thereby to search into the matter, and seek knowledge from every quarter ; whereas had the question been easy of decision, all the information which we have obtained in this manner might have been lost to us.
Of the many theories which have been started, we shall here take notice of some of the more prominent, commencing with such as require but little comment, and proceeding in those which seem entitled to some further consideration. Bishop Warburton, one of the writers on the subject, dis covers the prototype of a Gothic cathedral in a grove of trees, such an imitation having been employed, as he supposes, from the circumstance of the Celts being accustomed to wor ship in such places, and from their early associations having introduced the same forms in their constructed temples. The trunks of the trees are supposed to be represented by the pillars, and the overhanging branches by the ribs of the vault ing. The same opinion is said to have been entertained by Raphael d'Urbino; but we venture to say that the resemblance between a Gothic aisle and an avenue of trees is not at first sight very striking, and that the idea is rather in accordance with the imagination of the poet than the researches of the antiquary. It makes somewhat against this theory, that all evidence goes against the introduction of the Pointed style by the Goths. and also that the closest resemblance is to be found in the later, and not in the earlier examples. It is not improbable that Warburton himself felt dissatisfied with this notion, for it is not known to exist in more than one edition of his commentary on Pope's works, though later editions were published during his lifetime.