AND FIRST OF ALL, to cite only a few prominent examples, there are surely few such wonderful pages in the book of Architecture as the fašades of the Cathedral [of Notre Dame]. Here unfold themselves to the eye, successively and at one glance, the three deep Gothic doorways; the richly traced and sculptured band of twenty-eight royal niches; the immense central rose-window, flanked by its two lateral windows, like a priest by the deacon and subdeacon; the lofty and fragile gallery of trifoliated arches supporting a heavy platform on its slender columns; finally, the two dark and massive towers with their projecting slate roofs--harmonious parts of one magnificent whole, rising one above another in five gigantic storeys, massed yet unconfused, their innumerable details of statuary, sculpture, and carving boldly allied to the impassive grandeur of the whole. A vast symphony in stone, as it were; the colossal achievement of a man and a nation--one and yet complex--like the Iliades and the Romances to which it is sister--prodigious result of the union of all the resources of an epoch, where on every stone is displayed in a hundred variations the fancy of the craftsman controlled by the genius of the artist; in a word, a sort of human Creation, mighty and prolific, like the divine Creation, of which it seems to have caught the double characteristics--variety and eternity.
And what we say here of the fašade applies to the entire church; and what we say of the Cathedral of Paris may be said of all the ministers of Christendom in the Middle Ages.
Everything stands in its proper relation in that self-evolved art, is logical, well-proportioned. By measuring one toe you can estimate the height of the giant.
Three important things are now missing in that fašade: the flight of eleven steps which raised it above the level of the ground; the lower row of statues occupying the niches of the three doorways; and the upper series of twenty-eight, which filled the gallery of the first story and represented the earliest Kings of France, from Childebert to Philip Augustus, each holding in his hand the “imperial orb.”