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THE Author of the following sketch of the castellated architecture of Great Britain, unaided by the discovery of some unknown MS. hitherto concealed from the world, cannot lay claim to any original points of information, or matters of fact that might warrant him in the depreciation of former writers on the same subject; and although, in the absence of novel matter, he could have strung together as many conjectures, various readings, &c. as would have made a handsome sized work in folio, of two or more tolerably thick volumes; yet, finding that the whole of what is really known might be comprised in a moderate compass, he deemed his book would be of more utility if kept within the limits he had originally prescribed to himself, and he has thus endeavoured to give as simple, and, at the same time, as clear an account of the subjects treated upon as he was enabled by his materials; feeling it much more desirable that his book should be considered too small, than that he had written too much on a subject still too little understood to bear the mists and obscurities of a verbose and conjectural style of writing.
To show the little certainty there exists on some points of the highest interest, we need only cite, for example, the arch, both the semi-circular and the pointed, or what is termed the gothic arch; each equally doubtful as to their origin. If full credence may be given to the accounts of a Spanish traveller, in a late publication, neither of these arches were unknown to the Mexicans of former ages; and thus an ancient people of the new world may be added to the list of competitors for the honour of their invention. It appears, according to the narrative, that amid the ruins of an extensive city, discovered about nine miles from Palanque, in the northern part of the province of Cieudad Real de Chiapa, so many architectural coincidences were found, that the narrator boldly supposes the place to have been known to the Romans: and perhaps he might, with as much reason and equal probability, have added the Greeks and Egyptians; more especially the latter, if his accompanying prints are correct representations of their prototypes. Independent of the above account, it is extremely doubtful when and where the arch was first invented, and we fear that many other points, more particularly relating to our military architecture, must for ever remain in as great a degree of uncertainty.
IT is but imperfectly known at what period the construction of regular buildings of defence took place; for in all ages learned men have been so remarkably negligent in giving us any information on the subject, that it has become involved in the deepest mists of obscurity; nor is it till times that may be termed modern, when compared with the age of the world, that the feeblest scintillations of an almost hidden ray of light begin to make their way through the silent darkness of antiquity. When men began to form themselves into large societies, and previous to their cultivation of the arts of peace, it would be necessary that themselves and their families should be placed in security from the ravages of their more unsettled or predatory neighbours: hence we may reasonably infer, that the earliest towns and cities were fortified according to the knowledge of the age in which they were constructed, or the peculiar habits of the founders. Previous to the erection of cities, it is very probable that the first formed communities, whether they were of shepherds or of hunters, would dwell in camps; and, as some knowledge of geometry would be requisite for their regular formation, we may readily conceive the Egyptians, who were employed in such vast numbers on canals and other public works, to have been the first that constructed a regularly formed camp for their residence, during the prosecution of those immense undertakings, whose remains astonish even the present improved state
of the world. Whilst the Israelites were in Egypt, a period of about four hundred and thirty years, they would doubtless adopt much of the Egyptian mode of living, more particularly in points that regarded their safety; from which it may be supposed, that the Israelites, in their encampments, would copy the Egyptian mode, whatever mode that might be, as far as the nature of the various soils would permit, through which they journeyed, or where they afterwards settled on their egress from Egypt. In the second chapter of the book of Numbers, we find a very exact account of the order in which the Children of Israel encamped; but of the manner in which these camps were constructed, the inspired writer of the Pentateuch has given us no account, although Monsieur de Folard, in his Treatise on the Attack and Defence of the Places of the Ancients, says, that the camps of the Israelites were intrenched; but he does not state his authority for the assertion. In his account of lines of circumvallation and countervallation, he adds as follows: "We are ignorant whether the Egyptians, the Jews, the Assyrians, or the Medes, made the first use of them: I should rather think the former, because I think them the most ancient. Moses always entrenched himself in his encampments; the Scriptures do not say who were the first to make use of these precautions, and when the fortification of towns is spoken of, we find nothing by which we might be able to form a conjecture that the art of fortification was of new invention." It is most probable that the primitive camps would be much like those of the Bedouins or Arabs of the Desert; merely an irregular circle, composed of one row of tents, with unequal intervals between them: within this circle the Bedouins keep their cattle, and their horses ready saddled during the night.
The first step in fortification, perhaps, was something of the kind used by the American Indians