The topics of this blog are Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal Duke of Richelieu, and the IDEAL CITY built on his command next to his magnificent CHÂTEAU on the borders of Touraine, Anjou and Poitou, in France.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Beautiful dereliction - midsummer


In mid June the sun is not only the highest in the sky but also the brightest.  This picture shows the dark azure sky at mid-day in mid-June shining down on the ragged roofs of 16 Grande Rue.

Very shortly the builders will re-roof this old building and make it sound and weather-tight again. But something picturesque will be lost, don't you agree?  Traditionally constructed buildings using old and 'noble' materials distress so well.

John Ruskin swooned over 'The Stones of Venice' below;
I for my part swoon over the crumbling fabric of the cardinal's hubristic cité idéale.

Since the first dominion of men was asserted over the ocean,
three thrones, of mark beyond all others, have been set upon its sands:
the thrones of Tyre, Venice, and England. Of the First of these great
powers only the memory remains; of the Second, the ruin; the Third,
which inherits their greatness, if it forget their example, may be led
through prouder eminence to less pitied destruction.

The exaltation, the sin, and the punishment of Tyre have been recorded
for us, in perhaps the most touching words ever uttered by the Prophets
of Israel against the cities of the stranger. But we read them as a
lovely song; and close our ears to the sternness of their warning: for
the very depth of the Fall of Tyre has blinded us to its reality, and we
forget, as we watch the bleaching of the rocks between the sunshine and
the sea, that they were once "as in Eden, the garden of God."

Her successor, like her in perfection of beauty, though less in
endurance of dominion, is still left for our beholding in the final
period of her decline: a ghost upon the sands of the sea, so weak--so
quiet,--so bereft of all but her loveliness, that we might well doubt,
as we watched her faint reflection in the mirage of the lagoon, which
was the City, and which the Shadow.

I would endeavor to trace the lines of this image before it be for ever
lost, and to record, as far as I may, the warning which seems to me to
be uttered by every one of the fast-gaining waves, that beat, like
passing bells, against the STONES OF VENICE.


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