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Milton R. Konvitz 

3 1924 073 692 836 

The original of tliis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 

Jiy Gcorg-e Richmond, U.A. 



OF j5 













First PiiilisJud, in Two Vols. May iSgj 
Second Edition „ May 1S93 

Third Edition, in One Vol. April igoo 
Fourth Edition „ Nmemier igoo 

Fifth and Cheaper Edition January i<>oS 
Sixth Edition April igoj 



THE BOY POET (1819-1842), 


II. THE FATHER OF THE MAN (1819-1825) 




VI. A LOVE-STORY (1836-1839) 

VII. 'RATA phusin' (1837-1838) . 


IX. 'the BROKEN CHAIN' (1840-1841) 






THE ART CRITIC (1842-1860). 

I. 'TURNER AND THE ANCIENTS ' (1842-1844) 
II. CHRISTIAN ART (1845-1847) 

III. 'THE SEVEN LAMPS ' (1847-1849) 

IV. 'STONES OF VENICE' (1849-1851) 
V. PRE-RAPHAELITISM (1851-1853) 





X. 'MODERN painters' CONCLUDED (1858-1860) . 





HERMIT AND HERETIC (1860-1870). 


I. 'UNTO THIS last' (I86O-I86I) 
II. 'MUNERA PULVERIS' (l86l-1862) 


IV. 'sesame and lilies' (1864) 

V. 'ETHICS OF THE DUST ' (1865). 
VI. 'THE CROWN OF WILD OLIVE ' (1865-1866) 

IX. 'THE QUEEN OF THE AIR ' (1869) • 

X. VERONA AND OXFORD (1869-1870) 




I. FIRST OXFORD LECTURES (1870-1871) . . . 271 

II. 'FORS' BEGUN (1871-1872) . . . .284 

III. OXFORD TEACHING (1872-1875) . . .296 

IV. ST. GEORGE AND ST. MARK (1875-1877) . . 312 
V. 'DEUCALION' AND 'PROSERPINA* (1877-1879) • • 327 

VI. THE DIVERSIONS OF BRANTWOOD (1879-1880) . . 340 

VII. 'FORS' RESUMED (1880-1881) . . . .353 

VIIL THE RECALL TO OXFORD (1882-1883) . . . 362 

IX. THE STORM-CLOUD (1884-1888). . . . 374 

X. DATUR HORA QUIETl (1889-1897) . . • 386 

ONE WORD MORE ..... 400 

BIBLIOGRAPH\ ...... 409 

INDEX ....... 422 



THE BOY POET. (1819-1842.) 

' Eat fern-seed, 
And peer beside us, and report, indeed. 
If (your -word) " genius " dawned with throes and stings, 
And the whole fiery catalogue, while springs, 
Summers, and winters quietly came and went.' 




' And still within our valleys here 
We hold the kindred title dear, 
Even when, perchance, its far-fetched claim 
To Southern ear sounds empty name ; 
For course of blood, our proverbs deem, 
Is warmer than the mountain-atream.' 


IF origin, if early training and habits of life, if tastes, and 
character, and associations, fix a man's nationality, then 
John Ruskin must be reckoned a Scotsman. He was born 
in London, but his family was from Scotland. He was brought 
up in England, but the friends and teachers, the standards and 
influences of his early life, were chiefly Scottish. The writers 
who directed him into the main lines of his thought and 
work were Scotsmen — from Sir Walter and Lord Lindsay and 
Principal Forbes to the master of his later studies of men 
and the means of life, Thomas Carlyle. The religious instinct 
so conspicuous in him was a heritage from Scotland ; thence the 
combination of shrewd common-sense and romantic sentiment ; 
the oscillation between levity and dignity, from caustic jest to 
tender earnest; the restlessness, the fervour, the impetuosity 
— all these are the tokens of a Scotsman of parts, and were 
highly developed in John Ruskin. 

And, indeed, he received a great impress of Scottish 
character from old Galloway, from ancestors whose names are 
famous in history as champions and patriots and martyrs. 


The strange Tory revolutionism of ' Fors Clavigera,' at once 
monarchical and democratic, loyal and radical, holding so close 
to tradition, and yet so progressive in its aims ; the Ruskinian 
knight-errantry, his readiness to rush in on the weaker side 
with a passionate cry for poetical justice — these find their 
explanation as inheritances from men who stood for the King 
against Cromwell, and yet suffered for the Kirk under Claver- 
house ; afterwards, again, in many an instance, accepting the 
forlorn hope of Jacobitism as a solemn trust, or cherishing 
its lost cause as a sacred memory. Such men as these, among 
his various ancestors, most nearly anticipate his character, and 
undoubtedly had most influence in its formation. It was from 
Galloway, too, that he got the strain of Gaelic blood, in 
virtue of which he became a leader in that movement which 
latter-day critics have named ' the recrudescence of the Celt '; 
being, indeed, the central figure of a group of artists and poets 
whose inspiration we regard as a survival of Ossianic nature- 
worship, Fingalian romance, or Columban piety. 

But the exponent of a national ideal is rarely pure-bred. 
To expoimd an ideal, he must be in touch with the actual ; to 
introduce one party to another he must hold, so to say, the 
hands of each. It is commonly remarked that notable men 
are of mixed race ; and in this case, as the pedigree shows, 
Celtic fire was fed with Norman strength, and tempered with 
some infusion of English coolness from sailors of the North Sea. 

In the days of auld lang syne the Rhynns of Galloway — 
that hammer-headed promontory of Scotland which looks 
towards Belfast Lough — was the home of two great families, 
the Agnews and the Adairs. The Agnews, of Norman race, 
occupied the northern half, centring about their island-fortress 
of Lochnaw, where they became celebrated for a long line of 
hereditary sheriffs and baronets who have played no incon- 
siderable part in public affairs. The southern half, from 
Portpatrick to the Mull of Galloway, was held by the Adairs, 
originally Gallgaedhel, or Vikings of mixed Celtic and 
Scandinavian blood — immigrants from Ireland, according to 
a family tradition, not unsupported by the history of this 


sea-board in the ninth and tenth centuries. The Adairs (or, 
as formerly spelt, Edzears) took their name from Edgar, son 
of Dovenald, one of the two Galloway leaders at the Battle 
of the Standard. Three hundred years later Robert Edzear 
— who docs not know his descendant and namesake, Robin 
Adair ? — settled at Gainoch, neai" the head of Luce Bay ; and 
for another space of 300 years his children kept the same 
estate, in spite of private feud, and civil war, and religious 
pei'secution, of which they had more than their share. 

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, John Adair, 
the laird of Little Genoch, was married to Mary Agnew, a 
near kinswoman of the celebrated Sir Andrew, whose laconic 
harangue to the Scots Fusiliers at Dettingen has become 
proverbial ; ' My lads, ye see those loons on yon hill there ? 
If ye dinna kill them they'll kill you.' After the battle 
George II. rode up. ' So, Sir Andrew,' he began, as the 
Sheriff sat stoically at his parade, 'I hear the cuirassiers 
rode through your regiment to-day.' ' Ay, please your 
Majesty,' the other dryly replied, ' but they didna gang back 

What was the exact relationship of Mary Agnew to ' the 
bravest man in the British army' remains undecided, but 
lettei's still extant from the Lady Agnew of the day address 
her as ' Deai- Molly,' and end, ' Your affectionate cousin ' or 
' kinswoman.' Her son Thomas succeeded his father in 1721, 
and, retiring with his captaincy, settled on the estate. He 
maiTied Jean, daughter of Andrew Ross of BalsaiToch and 
Baikal], a lady noted for her beauty, her wit, and her Latin 
scholarship, and a member of a family which has given many 
distinguished men to the ai'my and navy. Among them 
Admiral Sir John Ross, the Arctic explorer. Sir Hew 
Dalrymple, and Field-Marshal Sir Hew Dalrymple Ross, 
were all her great-nephews, and her son. Dr. John Adair, 
was the man in whose arms Wolfe died at the taking of 
Quebec ; it is he who is shown in Benjamin West's pictm-e 
supporting the General. 

* Sir Andi-ew Agnew, ' Hereditary Sheriflfs of Galloway,' ii. 278. 


Dr. Adair's sister Catherine, the daughter of Thomas Adair 
and Jean Ross, married the Rev. James Tweddale, minister 
of Glenluce from 1758 to 1778, representative of an old 
Covenanting family, and holder of the original Covenant, 
which had been confided to the care of his great-aunt 
Catherine by Baillie of Jarviswood on his way to execution 
in the 'killing time.' The document was sold with his 
library at his death, his children being then under age, and 
is now in the Glasgow Museum, One of these children, 
Catherine, married John Ruskin, whose name, then of little 
account, was destined to become as famous, in the person of 
his grandson, as any of the heroic names with which it was 
thus connected. 

The origin of the name of Ruskin is obscure. It has been 
taken for Lowland Scottish, a variant of Erskine; for a 
Highland place-name, Roskeen ; for a corruption of Roger- 
kin ; or even for a vulgar nickname, Roughskin. These are 
mere guesses, but Ruskington, in Lincolnshire, points, by a 
well-known rule of place-names, to a tribe of Anglian settlers 
called Rusking, of whom this village was originally the tiin, 
or homestead, as Pennington was the ' town ' of the Peiinings, 
and so forth. Soon after the dissolution of Furness Abbey, 
Richerde Ruskyn and his family were land-owners at Dalton- 
in-Furness.* Other Ruskins and Ruskens are known in the 
North of England, and naturally also in London, whither all 
our tribes go up. One branch, however, and that with 
which we are especially concerned, settled in Edinburgh. 

John Ruskin — our subject's grandfather — when he ran 
away with Catherine Tweddale in 1781, was a handsome 
lad of twenty. His portrait as a child proves his looks, and 
he evidently had some charm of character or promise of 
power, for the escapade did not lose him the friendship of 
the lady's family. Major Ross, her uncle and guardian, 

* Communicated by Mr. W. Hutton Brayshay, from the Eecord 
Office. See also Dr. Barber, 'Furness and Cartmel Notes,' p. 380. 
Dalton is within fourteen miles of Brantwood, and was the biithplace 
of Bomuey, the artist. 


remained a good friend to the young couple. She herself 
was only sixteen at her marriage — a bright and animated 
brunette, as her miniature shows, in later years ripening to a 
woman of uncommon strength, with old-fashioned piety of a 
robust, practical type, and a spirit which the trials of her 
after-life — and they were many — could not subdue. Her 
husband set up in the wine trade in Edinburgh. For many 
years they lived in the Old Town, then a respectable neigh- 
bourhood, among a cultivated and well-bred society, in which 
they moved as equals,* entertaining, with others, such a man 
as Dr. Thomas Brown, the professor of philosophy, a great 
light in his own day, and still conspicuous in the constellation 
of Scotch metaphysicians. 

Their son, John James Ruskin (bom May 10, 1785), was 
sent to the famous High School of Edinburgh, under 
Dr. Adam, the most renowned of Scottish headmasters, and 
there he received the sound old-fashioned classical educa- 
tion. Before he was sixteen, his sister Jessie was already 
married at Perth to Peter Richardson, a tanner living at 
Bridge End, by the Tay ; and so his cousin, Margaret Cox, 
was sent for to fill the vacant place. 

She was a daughter of old Mr. Ruskin's sister, who had 
married a Captain Cox, sailing from Yarmouth for the 
herring fishery. He had died in 1789, or thereabouts, from 
the results of an accident while riding homewards to his 
family after one of his voyages, and his widow maintained 
herself in comfort by keeping the old King's Head Inn at 
Croydon Market-place, and brought up her two daughters 
with the best available education. The younger one married 
another Mr. Richardson, a baker at Croydon, so that, by 
an odd coincidence, there were two famiUes of Richardsons, 

* ' I had also a father more magnificent in his expenditure than 
mindful of his family ; so indiscriminate and boundless in his hos- 
pitalities that, when the invited guests arrived, he would sometimes 
have to inquire their names. My mother, too, had a heart large enough 
to embrace the whole human race, but with universal love combined 
peculiar prudence.'— J. J. Euskin to Miss Mitford, January 5, 1852. 



unconnected with one another except through their relation- 
ship to the Ruskins. 

Margaret, the elder daughter, who came to keep house for 
her uncle in Edinburgh, was then nearly twenty years of age. 
She had been the model pupil at her Croydon day-school ; 
tall and handsome, pious and practical, she was just the girl 
to become the confidante and adviser of her dark-eyed, active, 
and romantic young cousin — his guardian angel. 

Some time before the beginning of 1807, John James, 
having finished his education at the High School, went to 
London, where a place had been found for him by his uncle's 
brother-in-law, Mr. MacTaggart. He was followed by a kind 
letter from Dr. Thomas Brown, who advised him to keep up 
his Latin, and to study political economy, for the Professor 
looked upon him as a young man of unusual promise and 
power. During some two years, he worked as a clerk in the 
house of Sir William Gordon, Murphy and Co., where he 
made friends, and laid the foundation of his prosperity ; for 
along with him at the office there was a Mr. Peter Domecq, 
owner of the Spanish vineyards of Macharnudo, learning the 
commercial part of his business in London, the headquarters 
of the sherry trade. He admired his fellow-clerk's capacity 
so much as to offer him the London agency of his family 
business. Mr. MacTaggart found the capital in consideration 
of their taking his relative, Mr. Telford, into the concern. 
And so they entered into partnership, about 1809, as 
Ruskin, Telford and Domecq : Domecq contributing the 
sherry, Mr. Henry Telford the capital, and Ruskin the 

How he came by his business capacity may be understood 
— and in some measure, perhaps, how his son came by his 
flexible and forcible style — from a letter of Mrs. Catherine 
Ruskin, written about this time; in which, moreover, there 
are a few details of family circumstances and character, not 
without interest. John James Ruskin had been protesting 
that he was never going to marry, but meant to devote him- 
self to his mother ; she replied ■■ 


', . . But my son an old Batchelor— believe me my beloved 
Child I feel the fiill force and value of that affection that 
could prompt to such a plan — dear as your society is to me it 
would then become the misery of my existence — could I see 
my Child so formed for domestick happiness deprived of every 
blessing on my account. No my D' John I do not know a 
more unhappy being than an old Batchelor . . . may God 
preserve my Child from realizing the dreary picture — as soon 
as you can keep a Wife you must Marry with all possible 
speed — that is as soon as you find a very Amiable woman. 
She must be a good daughter and fond of Domestick life — 
and pious, without ostentation, for remember no Woman 
without the fear of God, can either make a good Wife or a 
good Mother — ^freethinking Men are shocking to nature, but 
from an Infidel Woman Good Lord deliver us. I have 
thought more of it than you have done — for I have two or 
three presents carefully [laid] by for her, and I have also 
been so foresightly as to purchase two Dutch toys for your 
Children in case you might marry before we had free inter- 
course with that country. . . . Who can say what I can say 
' here is my Son — a hansome accomplished young man of three 
and twenty — ^he will not Marry that he may take care of his 
Mother — here is my D"^ Margaret, hansome Amiable and 
good and she would not leave her Ant (I mean Aunt) for any 
Man on Earth.' Ah My Dear and valuable children, dear is 
your affection to my heart, but I will never make so base a 
use of it. I entreat my D"" John that you will not give your- 
self one moment's uneasiness about me — I will at all events 
have ,£86 a year for life that your Father cannot deprive me 
of, and tho' I could not live very splendidly in a Town on 
this, yet with a neat little House and Garden in the country, 
it would afford all the means of life in fullness to Meggy 
myself and our servant. You forget, my D^ how much a 
woman can do without in domestick affairs to save Money — a 
Woman that has any management at all can live with more 
comfort on ^£"50 a year than a Man could do on two hundred. 
There was a year of my life that I maintained myself and 
two children on twenty pound, the bread too was 1/2 the 


loave that yeai* :' we did not indeed live very sumptuously nor 
shall I say our strength improved much but I did not contract 
one fai-thing of debt and that to me supplyed the want of 
luxuries. Now my D^ John let me never hear a fear expressed 
on my account ; there is no fear of me ; make yourself happy 
and all will be well, and for God sake my beloved Boy take 
cai-e of your health, take a good drink of porter to dinner 
and supper and a little Wine now and then, and tell me 
particularly about y"' new Lodgings,' etc. 

He returned home to Edinburgh on a visit, and arranged 
a marriage with his cousin Margaret, if she would wait for 
him until he was safely established ; and then he set to work 
at the responsibilities of creating a new business. It was a 
severer task than he had anticipated, for his father's health 
and affairs, as the above letter hints, had both gone wrong ; 
he left Edinburgh and settled at Bower's Well, Perth, ended 
unhappily, and left a load of debt behind him, which the son, 
sensitive to the family honour, undertook to pay before laying 
by a penny for himself. It took nine years of assiduous 
labour and economy. He worked the business entirely by 
himself. The various departments that most men entrust to 
others he filled in person. He managed the correspondence, 
he travelled for orders, he arranged the importation, he 
directed the growers out in Spain, and gradually built up a 
great business, paid off his father's creditors, and secured his 
own competence. 

This was not done without sacrifice of health, which he 
never recovered, nor without forming habits of over-anxiety 
and toilsome minuteness which lasted his life long. But his 
business cares were reheved by cultured tastes. He loved art, 
painted in water-colours in the old style, and knew a good 
pictme when he saw it. He loved literature, and read aloud 
finely all the old standard authors, though he was not too 
old-fashioned to admire ' Pickwick ' and the ' Noctes Ambro- 
sianae' when they appeared. He loved the scenery and 
architecture among which he had travelled in Scotland and 
Spain ; but he could find interest in almost any place and 
any subject ; an alert man, in whom practical judgment was 


joined to a romantic temperament, strong feelings and 
opinions to extended sympathies. His letters, of which there 
are many preserved, bear witness to his character, taste, and 
intellect, curiously anticipating, on some points, i 'lose of his 
son. His portraits by Copley and Northcote give the idea of 
an expressive face, sensitive, refined, every featiu-e a gentle- 

So, after those nine years of work and waiting, he went to 
Perth to claim his cousin's hand. She was for further delay ; 
but with the minister's help he persuaded her one evening 
into a prompt marriage in the Scotch fashion, drove off with 
her next morning to Edinburgh, and on to the home he had 
prepared in London at 54, Hunter Street, Brunswick Square 
(February 27, 1818). 

The heroine of this little drama was no ordinary bride. 
At Edinburgh she had found herself, though well brought 
up for Croydon, inferior to the society of the Modern Athens. 
As the affianced of a man of ability, she felt it her duty to 
make herself his match in mental culture, as she was already 
in her own department of practical matters. Under Dr. 
Brown's direction, and stimulated by his notice, she soon 
became — not a blue-stocking — but well-read, well-informed 
above the average. She was one of those persons, too rarely 
met with, who set themselves a very high standard, and re- 
solve to drag both themselves and their neighbours up to it. 
But, as the process is difficult, so it is disappointing. People 
became rather shy of Mrs. Ruskin, and she of them, so that 
her life was solitary and her household quiet. It was not 
from merely narrow Puritanism that she made so few friends ; 
her morality and her piety, strict as they were within their 
own lines, permitted her most of the enjoyments and amuse- 
ments of life ; still less was there any cynicism or misanthropy. 
But she devoted herself to her husband and son. She was 
too proud to court those above her in worldly rank, and she 
was not easily approached except by people fully equal to her 
in strength of character, of whom there could never be many. 
The few who made their way to her friendship found her a 
true and valuable friend. 


THE FATHER OF THE MAN. (1819-1825.) 

' While yet a child, and long before hia time, 
Had he perceived the presence and the power 
Of greatness.' 


INTO this family John Ruskin was born on February 8, 
1819, at half-past seven in the morning. He was baptized 
on the twentieth by the Rev. Mr. Boyd. 

It might be, if we had fuller information about the per- 
sonages of history, that we could trace in all of them the 
influences of heredity and early training as distinctly and as 
completely as in his case. But the birth and breeding of 
most writers and artists are, in essential points, comparatively 
undetailed. We have anecdotes about them ; we hear of 
their sudden appearance, their struggles, their adventures; 
but we cannot trace the development, step by step, of their 
genius. We see the result ; but the process is like the growth 
of a Jonah's gourd, something that seems to have sprung up 
in the darkness, whence or how we can only surmise. And 
so, not the least interesting fact about this life is the circum- 
stantiality with which its early part is known. We have not 
only the autobiography, but the recollections of friends, and, 
most important of all, the actual relics of the very time, in 
old letters and note-books and documents, from which the 
child's mental growth can be traced year by year. 

The first account of him in writing is in a letter from his 
mother when he was six weeks old. She chronicles — not 


without a touch of superstition— the breaking of a looking- 
glass, and continues: 'John grows finely; he is just now on 
my knees sleeping and looking so sweetly ; I hope I shall not 
get proud of him.' He was a fine healthy baby, and at four 
months was ' beginning to give more decided proofs that he 
knows what he wants, and will have it if crying and passion 
will get it.' At a year his mother resolves that ' this will be 
cured by a good whipping when he can understand what it 
is,' and we know that she carried out her Spartan resolve. 

This, and the story in ' Arachne,' how she let him touch 
the tea-kettle; and the reminiscences in 'Prasterita' of play- 
things locked up, and a lone little boy staring at the 
water-cart and the pattern on the carpet — all these give a 
gloomy impression of his mother, against which we must 
set the proofs of affection and kindliness shown in her 

In these we can see her anxiously nursing him through 
childish ailments, taking him out for his daily walk to 
Duppas Hill with a captain's biscuit in her muff, for fear he 
should be hungry by the way ; we hear her teaching him his 
first lessons, with astonishment at his wonderful memory, 
and glorying with Nurse Anne over his behaviour in church ; 
and all these things she retails in gossiping letters to 
her husband, while Mr. Richard Gray gives two-year-old 
John 'his first lesson on the flute, both sitting on the 
drawing-room floor, very deeply engaged.' ' I am sure,' she 
says, ' there is no other love, no other feeling, like a mother's 
towards her first boy when she loves his father^; and her 
pride in his looks, and precocity, and docility — ' I never met 
with a child of his age so sensible to praise or blame ' — found 
a justification in his passionate devotion to the man who was 
so dear to them both. 

Though he was born in the thick of London, he was not 
City-bred. His love for landscape was not the result of a 
late discovery of it, and of a Cockney's contrast of wild 
nature with streets and squares. His first three summers 
were spent in lodgings in Hampstead or Dulwich, then ' the 


country.' So early as his fourth summer he was taken to 
Scotland by sea to stay with his aunt Jessie, Mrs. Richardson 
of Perth. There he found cousins to play with, especially 
one little Jessie, of nearly his own age ; he found a river with 
deep swirling pools, that impressed him more than the sea, 
and he found the mountains. Coming home in the autumn, 
he sat for his full-length portrait to James Northcote, R.A., 
and being asked what he would choose for background, he 
replied, ' Blue hills.' 

Northcote had painted Mr. and Mrs. Ruskin, and, as they 
were fond of artistic company, remained their friend. A 
certain friendship, too, was struck up between the old 
Academician, then in his seventy-seventh year, the acknow- 
ledged cynic and satirist, and the little wise boy who asked 
shrewd questions, and could sit still to be painted; who, 
moreover, had a face worth painting, not unlike the model 
from whom Northcote's master, the great Sir Joshua, had 
painted his famous cherubs. The painter asked him to come 
again, and sit as the hero of a fancy picture, bought at the 
Academy by the flattered parents, relegated since to the out- 
house at Brantwood. There is a grove, a flock of toy sheep, 
drapery in the grand style, a mahogany Satyr taking a thorn 
out of the little pink foot of a conventional nudity — poor 
survivals of the Titianesque. But the head is an obvious 
portrait, and a happy one; far more like the real boy, so 
tradition says, than the generalized chubbiness of the com- 
missioned pictui-e. 

In the next year (1823) they quitted the town for a 
suburban home. The spot they chose was in rural Dulwich, 
on Heme Hill, a long offshoot of the Surrey downs; low, 
and yet commanding green fields and scattered houses in the 
foreground, with rich undulating country to the south, and 
looking across London toward Windsor and Harrow. It is 
all built up now ; but their house (the present No. 28) must 
have been as secluded as any in a country village. The suburbs 
were, of course, once country villages, and as pleasant in their 
old-fashioned comfort. There were ample gardens front and 


rear, well stocked with fruit and flowers— quite an Eden for 
a little boy, and all the more that the fruit of it was for- 
bidden. It was here that all his years of youth were spent. 
Here, under his parents' roof, he wrote his earlier works, as 
far as vol. i. of ' Modern Painters.' To the axljoining house, 
as his own separate home, he returned for a period of his 
middle life ; and in the old home, handed over to his adopted 
daughter, he still used to find his own rooms ready when he 
cared to visit London. 

So he was brought up almost as a country boy, though 
near enough to town to get the benefit of it, and far enough 
from the more exciting scenes of landscape nature to find 
them ever fresh, when summer after summer he revisited the 
river scenery of the West or the mountains of the North. 
For by a neat arrangement, and one fortunate for his educa- 
tion, the summer tours were continued yearly. Mr. John 
James Ruskin still travelled for the business, then greatly 
extending. ' Strange,' he writes on one occasion, ' that 
Watson [his right-hand man] went this journey without 
getting one order, and everyone gives me an order directly.' 
In return for these services to the firm, Mr. Telford, the 
capitalist partner, took the vacant chair at the office, and 
even lent his carriage for the journeys. There was room for 
two, so Mrs. Ruskin accompanied her husband, whose in- 
different health gave her and his friends constant anxiety 
during long separations. And the boy could easily be packed 
in, sitting on his little portmanteau, and playing horses with 
his father's knees; the nurse riding on the dickey behind. 

They started usually after the great family anniversary, the 
father's birthday, on May 10, and journeyed by easy stages 
through the South of England, working up the west to the 
north, and then home by the east-central route, zigzagging 
from one provincial town to another, calling at the great 
country seats, to leave no customer or possible customer 
unvisited; and in the intervals of business seeing all the 
sights of the places they passed through — colleges and 
churches, galleries and parks, ruins, castles, caves, lakes, and 


mountains — and seeing them all, not listlessly, but with keen 
interest, noting everything, inquiring for local information, 
looking up books of reference, setting down the results, as if 
they had been meaning to write a guide-book and gazetteer 
of Great Britain. They, I say, did all this, for as soon as 
the boy could write, he was only imitating his father in 
keeping his little journal of the tours, so that all he learned 
stayed by him, and the habit of descriptive writing was 

We could follow out the tourists in detail if it were worth 
while, but it must suffice here to notice the points of interest 
which influenced and impressed the boy's mind, and left a mark 
upon his work. 

In 1823 they seem to have travelled only through the 
south and south-west; in 1824 they pushed north to the 
lakes, stayed awhile at Keswick, and while the father went 
about his business, the child was rambling with his nurse on 
Friar's Crag, among the steep rock and gnarled roots, which 
suggested, even at that age, the feelings expressed in one of 
the notable passages in ' Modern Painters.' Thence they 
went on to Scotland, and revisited their relatives at Perth. 
In 1825 they took a more extended tour, and spent a few 
weeks in Paris, partly for the festivities at the coronation of 
Charles X., partly for business conference with Mr. Domecq, 
who had just been appointed wine-merchant to the King of 
Spain. Thence they went to Brussels and the field of 
Waterloo, of greater interest than the sights of Paris to six- 
year-old John, who often during his boyhood celebrated the 
battle, and the heroes of the battle, in verse. 

These excitements of travel alternated with the quietest 
home-keeping, employed in uneventful study, not stimulated 
by competition, nor sweetened by any of those educational 
Bugar-plums with which the modem child's path is so thickly 
strewn. And yet his lessons were followed with steadiness 
and interest, for he had already begun his life's work, in the 
sense that his later writing and teaching are demonstrably 
continuous with his earliest interests and efforts. He has 


been laughed at for seeing in a copy of verses written at seven 
the germ of his political economy, and what not. But it is 
true that the expressions there used aie expressions of the 
very same feeling and the same habits of mind that gradually 
developed into the thoughts he laid before the world ; they 
are the initial segments of lines which, drawn boldly out, are 
recognised as his own lines ; and even from these early indica- 
tions we now, looking back, can see the man. 

Before he was quite three he used to dimb into a chair — 
the chair that all his friends have seen him sitting in of 
evenings — and preach. There is nothing so uncommon in 
that. Of Robert Browning, his neighbour and seven-years- 
older contemporary, the same tale is told. But while the 
incident that marks the baby Browning is the aside, a propos 
of a whimpering sister, ' Pew-opener, remove that child,' the 
baby Ruskin is seen in his sermon : ' People, be dood. If 
you are dood, Dod will love you ; if you are not dood, Dod 
will not love you. People, be dood.' 

At the age of four he had begun to read and write, refusing 
to be taught in the orthodox way — this is so accurately 
characteristic— by syllabic spelling and copy-book pothooks. 
He preferred to find a method out for himself, and he found 
out how to read whole words at a time by the look of them, 
and to write in vertical characters like book-print, just as the 
latest improved theories of education suggest. His first letter 
may be quoted as illustrating his own account of his child- 
hood, and as proving how entirely Scotch was the atmosphere 
in which he was brought up. The postmark gives the date 
March 16, 1823. Mrs. Ruskin premises that John was 
scribbling on a paper from which he proceeded to read what 
she writes down (I omit certain details about the whip) : 

' My dear Papa,^ 

' I love you. I have got new things . Waterloo 
Bridge — Aunt Bridget brought me it. John and Aunt 
helped to put it up, but the pillars they did not put 
right, upside down. Instead of a book bring me a whip, 


colouied red and black. . . . To-moiTOW is Sabbath. Tuesday 
I go to Croydon. I am going to take my boats and my ship 
to Croydon. Til sail them on the pond near the burn which 
the bridge is over. I will be very glad to see my cousins. I 
was very happy when I saw Aunt come from Croydon. I 
love Mrs. Gray and I love Mr. Gray. I would like you to 
come home, and my kiss and my love. 

' [First autograph in straggling capitals] JOHN RUSKIN.' 

When once he could read, thenceforward his mother gave 
him regular morning lessons, in Bible-reading and in reciting 
the Scotch paraphrases of the Psalms and other verse, which 
for his good memory was an easy task. He made rhymes 
befox-e he could write them, of coui-se. 

At five he was a bookworm, and the books he read fixed 
him in certain grooves of thought, or, rather, say they were 
chosen as favourites from an especial interest in their subjects 
— an interest which arose from his character of mind, and 
displayed it. But with all this precocity, he was no milksop 
or weakling ; he was a bright, active lad, full of fun and 
pranks, not without companions, though solitary when at 
home, and kept precisely, in the hope of guarding him from 
every danger. He was so little afraid of animals — a great 
test of a child''s nerves — that about this time he must needs 
meddle with their fierce Newfoundland dog Lion, which bit 
him in the mouth, and spoiled his looks. Another time he 
showed some address in extricating himself from the water- 
butt — a common child-trap. He did not fear ghosts or 
thunder ; instead of that, his early-developed landscape feeling 
showed itself in dread of foxglove dells and dark pools 
of water, as in the popular Italian dream-presage, in coiling 
roots of trees — things that to the average fancy have no 
significance whatever. 

At seven he began to imitate the books he was reading, to 

write books himself. He had found out how to print, as 

children do ; and it was his ambition to make real books, 

with title-pages and illustrations, not only books, indeed, but 



sets of volumes, a complete library of his whole works. 
About these there are two prophetic circumstances, the one 
pointing to his habit of bringing out a work, not all at once, 
but in successive parts, at intervals, perhaps, of ' olympiads,' 
as he once said ; and the other to his unfortunate tendency to 
find himself unable to complete his enterprises, to let one 
subject be crowded out by others, and to drop it in the 
forlorn hope of resuming it at the more convenient season 
which is so long in coming. So that there is hardly a title of 
his which stands before a properly-finished work. Of the 
' Seven Lamps ' he writes that he had difficulty in preventing 
them from becoming eight ; ' Modem Painters ' is rather a 
series of treatises than a book ; ' Fors ' is a bundle of letters, 
and so is ' Time and Tide ' ; other works are only collections 
of lectmes or detached essays ; of hardly any can it be said 
that it is carried out according to a studied programme. In 
a letter of March 4, 1829, his mother says to his father : ' If 
you think of writing John, would you impress on him the 
propriety of not beginning too eagerly and becoming careless 
towards the end of his works, as he calls them ? I think in 
a letter from you it would have great weight. He is never 
idle, and he is even uncommonly persevering for a child of 
his age ; but he often spoils a good beginning by not 
taking the trouble to think, and concluding in a hurry.' 

The first of these sets was imitated in style from Miss 
Edgeworth; he called it, 'Harry and Lucy Concluded; or, 
Early Lessons.' Didactic he was from the beginning. It 
was to be in four volumes, uniform in red leather, with 
proper title, frontispiece, and ' copper-plates,' ' printed and 
composed by a little boy, and also drawn.' It was begun in 
1826, and continued at intervals until 1829. It was all done 
laboriously in imitation of print, and, to complete the illusion, 
contained a page of errata — a capital touch of infantile 
realism. This great work was, of course, never completed, 
though he laboured through three volumes ; but when 
he tired of it, he would turn his book upside down, 
and begin at the other end with other matters ; so that the 


red books contain all sorts of notes on his minerals and 
travels, reports of sermons, and miscellaneous information, 
besides their professed contents ; in this respect also being 
very like his later works. 

His ' Harry and Lucy ' is mainly a dramatized account of 
toui-s, himself being Hai-ry, with an imaginary sister, studied 
from Jessie of Perth or Bridget of Croydon, for he had 
nobody then to act permanently in that capacity, as 
his cousin Mary did afterwards. The moralizing mamma 
and literary papa represent his parents to the life. Beside 
the tours, we read of white rabbits and silkworms, air-pumps 
and fireworks ; the scrapes of a savant in pinafores in quest of 
general information, from hydraulics, pneumatics, acoustics, 
electricity, astronomy, mineralogy, to boat-building, engineer- 
ing, and riddles. Much, of course, is ideal, as where HaiTy, 
anticipating — shall we say ? — a later enterprise at Coniston, 
constructs a great mud globe, ' and when his mamma and 
papa saw this, whenever they were at a loss for the situation 
of any country, they went to Harry's globe for satisfaction,' or 
when he experiments with a well-appointed laboratory for the 
astonishment of Lucy. But the description of a week at 
Hastings in the spring of 1826 is probably a bit of history, 
and told with lively artlessness. 

There you have our author ready made, with his ever-fresh 
interest in everything, and all-attempting eagerness, out of 
which the first thing that crystallizes into any definite shape 
is the verse-writing. 



'AprSs, en tel train d'estude le miat qu'il ne perdoit heurea quel- 
conques du jour ; ainsi tout son temps consommoit en lettrea.' — 

THE first dated ' poem ' was written a month before little 
John Ruskin reached the age of seven. It is a tale of 
a mouse, in seven octosyllabic couplets, ' The Needless 
Alarm,' remarkable only for an unexpected correctness in 
rhyme, rhythm, and reason. 

His early verse, like his early prose, owes much to the 
summer tours. The joiu-ney to Scotland of 1826 suggested 
two poems, of which one is really interesting for its sustained 
sequence of thought — the last thing you ask from a child — 
and the final stanza has a glimpse of wild imagery of the in- 
finite, like Blake's best touches : 

' The pole-star guides thee on thy way, 
When in dark nights thou art lost ; 
Therefore look up at the starry day — 
Look at the stars about thee tost.' 

But these are only the more complete bits among a 
quantity of fragments. These summer tours were prolific in 
notes ; everything was observed and turned into verse. 

The other inspiring source during this period of versifica- 
tion was his father — ^the household deity of both wife and 
child, whose chief delight was in his daily return from the 
city, and in his reading to them in the drawing-room at 


Heme Hill. John was packed into a recess, where he was 
out of the way and the draught; he was barricaded by a 
little table that held his own materials for amusement, tmd if 
he liked to listen to the reading, he had the chance of 
hearing good litei-ature, the chance sometimes of hearing 
passages from Byron and Christopher North and '^ervantes, 
rather beyond his comprehension, for his parents were not of 
the shockable sort : wth all their religion and strict Scotch 
moi-ality, they could laugh at a broad jest, as old-fashioned 
people could. 

So he associated his father and his father's readings with 
the poetry of reflection, as he associated the regular summer 
round with the poetry of description ; the two manners were 
like two rivulets of verse flowing through his life, occasion- 
ally intermingling, but in their main channels and directions 
kept distinct. As every summer brought its crop of de- 
sa"iption, so against the New Year (for, being Scotch, they 
did not then keep our Christmas) and against his father's 
birthday in May he used always to prepsure some little drama 
or story or ' address ' of a reflective natvue, beginning with 
bhe verses on ' Time,' wiitten for New Year's Day, 1827. 

That year they were again at Perth, and on their way 
home some early morning frost suggested the not imgraceful 
verses on the icicles at Glenfarg. By a childish misconception, 
the little boy seems to have confused the real valley that in- 
terested him so with Scott's ideal Glendearg, and, partly for 
this reason, to have found a greater pleasure in 'The 
Monastery,' which he thereupon undertook to paraphrase in 
verse. There remain some hundreds of doggerel rhymes ; 
but his affection for that particular novel survived the fatal 
facility of his octosyllabics, and reappears time after time in 
his later writings. 

Next year, 1828, their torn- was stopped at Plymouth by 
the painful news of the death of his aunt Jessie, to whom 
they were on their way. It was hardly a year since the 
bright little cousin, Jessie of Perth, had died of water on the 
brain. She had been John's especial pet and playfellow. 


clever, like him, and precocious; and her death must have 
come to his parents as a warning, if they needed it, to keep 
their own child's brain from over-pressure. It is evident that 
they did their best to « keep him back ' ; they did not send 
him to school for fear of the excitement of competitive study. 
His mother put him through the Latin grammar herself, 
using the old Adam's manual which his father had used at 
Edinburgh High School. She had the secret of engaging his 
interest in her lessons without using any of those adventitious 
means which teachers nowadays recommend. Even this old 
grammar became a sort of sacred book to him ; and when at 
last he went to school, and his English master threw the book 
back to him, saying, 'That's a Scotch thing,' the boy was 
shocked and affronted, as which of us would be at a criticism 
on our first instrument of torture? He remembered the 
incident all his life, and pilloried the want of tact with 
acerbity in his reminiscences. 

They could keep him from school, but they did not keep 
him from study. The year 1828 saw the beginning of 
another great work, 'Eudosia, a Poem on the Universe'; it 
was 'printed' with even greater neatness and labour; but 
this too, after being toiled at during the winter months, was 
dropped in the middle of its second ' book.' It was not idle- 
ness that made him break off such plans, but just the reverse 
— a too great activity of brain. His parents seem to have 
thought that there was no harm in this apparently quiet 
reading and writing. They were extremely energetic them- 
selves, and hated idleness. They seemed to have held a 
theory that their little boy was safe so long as he was not 
obviously excited ; and to have thought that the proper way 
of giving children pocket-money was to let them earn it. So 
they used to pay him for his literary labours ; ' Homer ' was 
one shilling a page ; ' Composition,' one penny for twenty 
lines; 'Mineralogy,' one penny an article. And the result 
of it all is described in a chapter of 'Harry and Lucy,' 
written at the end of 1828. 
' After Harry had learned his lessons he went to a poem 


that he was composing for his father on New Year's Day, as 
he always presented his father with a poem at that period. 
The subject of it was a battle between the Pretender, or 
" Chevalier," as Harry would have him called, and the forces, 
or part of the forces, of George II. All the poems that he 
had hitherto presented to his father were printed in what 
Hai-ry called single letters, thus, " n " or " m," but Harry 
printed this double print, in this manner, " HE " ; and it was 
most beautiftiUy done, you may be sure. It was irregular 

'Harry, when he had done what he thought a moderate 
allowance of his poem, went to his map. But scarcely had 
the pen touched the paper when in came dinner. However, 
that hindrance was soon over, and Harry returned to his map. 
Harry to-day nearly finished it ; and, after having had some 
" Don Quixote," he went to bed. 

' But as, whenever the world was left " to darkness and to 
me," a bright thought came into Harry's mind, he thought 
that if he could contrive to make a Punch's show, or rather 
Fantoccini, out of paper, he would exhibit it when he pre- 
sented his poem, and please his father a little more. So he 
fell to work to invent or plan one. First,, he settled the size, 
which was to be about five inches long, two broad, and two 
sideways. The top, where the figures were to act, was to be 
two inches square. 

' This settled, Harry began to think how he should make 
it. This was rather difficult. Harry first thought what 
shape the piece of paper must be, before it was put together 
so as to form the show. [Follows a description with 
diagrams, elaborate and correct, of a marionette-theatre, 
reduced to lowest terms, with pasteboard figures worked from 
below with sticks.] 

' Harry, being now quite satisfied with his plan, fell 
asleep . . . and in the morning . . . alas ! he was, to use his 
own words, in a hugeous hurry ! Four days, and he would 
be entering upon another year. How was he to get a poem 
finished consisting of eighty-nine lines — finished in that style 


of printing— with the show ? It was altogether impossible. 
So Harry put oflF the show till his father's birthday.' 

This was the end of that long-continued episode, for he had 
now found a real Lucy, and the ideal vanished. The death of 
his aunt Jessie left a large family of boys and one girl to the 
care of their widowed fether, and the Ruskins felt it their 
duty to help. They fetched Mary Richardson away, and 
brought her up as a sister to their solitary son. She was not 
so beloved as Jessie had been, but a good girl and a nice girl, 
four years older than John, and able to be a companion to 
him in his lessons and travels. There was no sentimentality 
about his attachment to her, but a steady fi-aternal relation- 
ship, he, of course, being the little lord and master ; but she 
was not without spirit, which enabled her to hold her own, 
and perseverance, which sometimes helped her to eclipse, for 
the moment, his brilliancy. They learnt together, wi'ote 
their journals together, and shared alike with the scrupulous 
fairness which Mrs. Ruskin's sensible nature felt called on to 
show. And so she remained his sister, and not quite his 
sister, until she married, and after a very short married life 

Another accession to the family took place in the same 
year (1828); the Croydon aunt, too, had died, and left a 
dear dog, Dash, a brown and white spaniel, which at first 
refused to leave her coffin, but was coaxed away, and found 
a happy home at Heme Hill, and frequent celebration in his 
young master's verses. So the family was now complete — 
papa and mamma, Mary and John and Dash. One other 
figure must not be forgotten. Nurse Anne, who had come 
from the Edinburgh home, and remained always with them, 
John's nurse and then Mrs. Ruskin's attendant, as devoted 
and as censorious as any old-style Scotch servant in a story- 

The year 1829 marked an advance in poetical composition. 
For his father's birthday he did something better than the 
' show ' — a book more elaborate than any, sixteen pages in a 
red cover, with a title-page quite like print : * Battle of 


Waterloo | a play | in two acts | with other small | Poems | 
dedicated to his father | by John Ruskin | 1829 | Hemhill 
(sic) Dulwich.' The play, modelled on a Shakespeare history, 
shows Wellington with his generals, and Bonaparte with his 
guards, mouthing ' prave 'orts ' like Prince Harry and Pistol. 
There is a Shakespearian chorus, bidding you imagine the 
fight ; and in the next act the arrival of Blucher is drama- 
tized, and Louis XVIII., with the Duchess of Angouleme, 
praying for the issue. Then we have Bonaparte soliloquizing 
on the deck of the Bellerophon, with the chorus at the end 
describing the triumphal procession in London. 

To this are appended, among other pieces, fair copies of 
the ' May,'' and ' Skiddaw,' and ' Derwentwater,' printed in his 
collected poems from a previous copy. There is something 
very Ruskinian in the thought, when comparing Skiddaw 
with the Pyramids : 

' All that art can do 
Is nothing beside thee. The touch of man 
Kaised pigmy mountains, but gigantic tombs. 
The tonch of Nature raised the mountain's brow, 
But made no tombs at all.' 

Right or wrong, that always remained his leading motive, 
the normal beneficence of Nature ; and no wonder, for Nature, 
as he knew her, was very kind to him in those glorious early 
years of home love and summer excursions into wonder- 

An iUness of his postponed their tour for 1829, until it 
was too late for more than a little journey in Kent. Mr. 
Ruskin has referred his earliest sketching to this occasion, 
but it seems likely that the drawings attributed to this year 
were done in 1831. He was, however, busy writing poetry. 
At Tunbridge, for example, he wrote that fragment ' On 
Happiness ' which catches so cleverly the tones of Young — 
a writer whose orthodox morahzing suited with the creed in 
which John Ruskin was brought up, alternating, be it re- 
membered, with ' Don Quixote.' 

Coming home, he began a new edition of his verses, on a 


more pretentious scale than the old red books, in a fine 
bound volume, exquisitely ' printed,' with the poems dated. 
This new energy seems to have been roused by the gift from 
his Croydon cousin Charles, a clerk in the publishing house of 
Smith, Elder, and Co., of their annual ' Friendship's Offering.' 
Mrs. Ruskin, in a letter of October SI, 1829, finds 'the 
poetry very so-so ' ; but John evidently made the book his 

An enormous quantity of verse follows, of which only 
samples have seen the light. The ' poems ' are curious from 
their great variety of style and subject, grave and gay ; but, 
as might hardly be expected, the violent-heroic predominates. 
There was a strong touch of Celtic bravura in little John's 
character ; he liked to be dressed as a soldier, and lived in 
imagination much among warriors. And down to his later 
years, though nobody has so energetically denounced the 
waste and the cruelty and the folly of war, yet nobody has 
dwelt so lovingly on the virtues that war brings out in noble 
natures, and on the dignities of a knight's faith. ' 'Tis vice,' 
he says in one of the poems of this time, ' 'tis vice, not war, 
that is the curse of man.' 

He was now growing out of his mother's tutorship, and in 
this last autumn he was put under the care of Dr. Andrews 
for his Latin. He relates the introduction in ' Praeterita,' 
and more circumstantially, in a letter of the time, to Mrs. 
Monro, the mother of his charming Mrs. Richard Gray, the 
indulgent neighbour who used to pamper the little gourmand 
with delicacies unknown in severe Mrs. Ruskin's dining- 
room. He says in the letter — this is at ten years old : ' Well^ 
papa, seeing how fond I was of the doctor, and knowing him 
to be an excellent Latin scholar, got him for me as a tutor, 
and every lesson I get I like him better and better, for he 
makes me laugh " almost, if not quite " — to use one of his 
own expressions — the whole time. He is so funny, comparing 
Neptune's lifting up the wrecked ships of iEneas with his 
trident to my lifting up a potato with a fork, or taking a 
piece of bread out of a bowl of milk with a spoon ! And as 


he is always saying [things] of that kind, or relating some 
droll anecdote, or explaining the part of Virgil (the book 
which I am in) very nicely, I am always delighted when 
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are come.' 

Dr. Andrews was no doubt a genial teacher, and had been 
a scholar of some distinction in his University of Glasgow ; 
but perhaps he was not the most judicious master for a 
precocious and versatile pupil. Mrs. Ruskin thought him 
' flighty,' as well she might, when, after six months' Greek, 
he proposed (in March, 1831) to begin Hebrew with John. 
It was a great misfortune for the young genius that he was 
not more sternly drilled at the outset, and he suiFered for it 
through many a long year of struggles with deficient scholar- 

The Doctor had a large family and pretty daughters. 
One, who wrote verses in John's note-book, and sang ' Tam- 
bourgi,' Mrs. Orme, lived until 1892 in Bedford Park ; the 
other lives in Mr. Coventry Patmore's ' Angel in the House.' 
When Mr. Ruskin, thirty years later, wrote of that doubt- 
fully-received poem, that it was the 'sweetest analysis we 
possess of quiet, modern, domestic feeling,' few of his readers 
could have known all the grounds of his appreciation, or 
suspected the weight of meaning in the words., 


MOUNTAIN- WORSHIP. (1830-1835.) 

' The North and Nature taught me to adore 
Your scenes sublime, from those beloved before.' 


CRITICS who are least disposed to give Mr. Ruskin credit 
for his artistic doctrines or economical theories unite in 
allowing that he has taught us to look at Nature, and 
especially at the sublime in Nature — at storms and simrises, 
and the forests and snows of the Alps. Not that such things 
were unknown to others, but that he has most impressively 
united the merely poetical sentiment of their grandeur with 
something of a scientific curiosity as to their details and 
conditions ; he has brought us to linger among the moun- 
tains, and to love them. And as a man rarely convinces 
unless he is convinced, so this mission of mountain-worship 
has been the outcome of a passion beside which the other 
interests and occupations of his youth were only toys. He 
could take up his mineralogy and his moralizing and lay them 
down, but the love of mountain scenery was something 
beyond his control. We have seen him leave his heart in the 
Highlands at three years old; we have now to follow his 
passionate pilgrimages to Skiddaw and Snowdon, to the Jung- 
frau and Mont Blanc. 

They had planned a great tour through the Lakes and the 
North two years before, but were stopped at Plymouth by the 
news of Mrs. Richardson's death. At last the plan was 


carried out. A prose diary was written alternately by John 
and Mary, one carrying it on when the other tired, with 
rather curious effect of unequally-yoked collaboration. We 
read how they 'set off from London at seven o'clock on 
Tuesday morning, the 18th of May,' and thenceforward we 
are spared no detail : the furniture of the inns ; the bills of 
fare; when they got out of the carriage and walked; how 
they lost their luggage ; what they thought of colleges and 
chapels, music and May races at Oxford, of Shakespeare's 
tomb, and the pin-factory at Birmingham ; we have a com- 
plete guide-book to Blenheim and Warwick Castle, to 
Haddon and Chatsworth, and the full itinerary of Derby- 
shire. ' Matlock Bath,' we read, ' is a most delightful place ' ; 
but after an enthusiastic description of High Tor, John 
reacts into bathos with a minute description of wetting 
their shoes in a puddle. The cavern with a Bengal light 
was fairyland to hirr , and among the minerals he was quite 
at home. 

Everything was interesting on these journeys, everything 
was noteworthy, and the excitement was certainly kept up at 
a high pitch. Sight-seeing by day was not enough — John 
must get out his book after supper in the evening at the 
hotel and write poems. When he had written up his journal, 
he went on with some subject totally unconnected with his 
travels or the place he was in. For instance, after seeing 
Haddon, that very night he finished a gruesome vision of the 
Day of Judgment. This power of detaching himself from 
surroundings, and fixing his mind on any business on hand, 
has always been one of his most curious and most enviable 
gifts. How few writers could correct proofs at Sestri and 
write political economy at Chamouni! After spending the 
morning in drawing early Gothic, and the afternoon driving 
to some historic site, with a sketch of sunset, perhaps, he could 
settle down in his hotel bedroom and write a preface to an 
old work, and next morning be up before the sun busy at a 
chapter of ' Fors ' or ' Praeterita.' 

To resume the tour. ' Manchester is a most disagreeable 


town,' but at Liverpool they were delisted with the river, 
assisted at a trifling collision, and got caught in the old dock- 
gates, on which adventure John bursts into ballad rhyme. 
Then they hurried north to Windermere. Once at Lowwood, 
the excitement thickens, with storms and rainbows, mountains 
and waterfalls, boats on the lake and coaching on the steep 
roads. This journey through Lakeland is described in the 
galloping anapaests of the ' Iteriad,' which was simply the 
prose journal versified on his return, one of the few enter- 
prises of the sort which was really completed. 

To readers who know the country it is interesting, as giting 
a detailed account sixty years ago, in the days of the old 
regime, when this 'nook of English ground' was 'secure 
from rash assault.' One learns that, even then, there were 
jarring sights at Rowness Bay and along Derwentwater shore, 
elements unkind and bills exorbitant. Coniston especially 
was dreary with ra;in, and its inn — the old Waterhead, now 
destroyed — extravagantly dear ; ' but,^ says John, with his eye 
for mineral specimens, ' it contains several rich copper-mines.' 
An interesting touch is the hero-worship with which they 
went reverently to peep at Southey and Wordsworth i in 
church ; too humble to dream of an introduction, and too 
polite to besiege the poets in their homes, but indeperident 
enough to form their own opinions on the personality of the 
heroes. They did not like the look of Wordsworth at all ; 
Southey they adored. 

The dominant note of the tour is, however, an ecstatic 
delight in the mountain scenery ; on Skiddaw and Helvellyn 
all the gamut of admiration is lavished. Reluctantly leaving 
the wilder country, they returned to Derbyshire, and meeting 
a friend to whom it was new, they revisited everything with 
revived pleasure. They did not seem to know what it was to 
be bored. The whole tour was a triumphal progress, or a 
march of conquest. 

On returning home, John began Greek under Dr. Andrews, 
and was soon versifying Anacreon in his notebooks. He 
began to read Byron for himself, with what result we shall 


see befoi-e long ; but the most important new departure was 
the attempt to copy Cruikshank's etchings to Grimm's fairy- 
tales, his real beginning at art. From this practice he learnt 
the value of the line — the pure, clean line that expresses 
form. It is a good instance of the authority of these early 
years over Mr. Ruskin's whole life and teaching that in his 
' Elements of Drawing ' he advises young artists to begin with 
Cruikshank, as he began, and that he wrote appreciatively both 
of the stories and the etchings so many decades afterwards in 
the preface to a reprint by J. C. Hotten. 

His cousin-sister Mary had been sent to a day-school when 
Mrs. Ruskin's lessons were superseded by Dr. Andrews, and 
she had learnt enough drawing to attempt a view of the hotel 
at Matlock, a thing which John could not do. So, now that 
he too showed some power of neat draughtsmanship, it was 
felt that he ought to have her advantages. They, got Mr. 
Runciman the drawing - master, chosen, it may be, as a 
relative of the well-known Edinburgh artist of the same 
name, to give him lessons, in the early j)art of 1831. His 
teaching was of the kind which preceded the Hardingesque : 
it aimed at a bold use of the soft pencil, with a certain round- 
ness of composition and richness of texture, a conventional 
' right way ' of drawing anything. This was hardly what 
John wanted ; but, not to be beaten, he facsimiled the master's 
freehand in a sort of engraver's stipple, which his habitual 
neatness helped him to do in perfection. Mr. Runciman 
soon put a stop to that, and took pains with a pupil who took 
such pains with himself — taught him, at any rate, the princi- 
ples of perspective, and remained his only drawing-master for 
several years. 

A sample of John Ruskin's early lessons in drawing, de- 
scribed by him in letters to his father, may be not without 
interest. On February 20, 1832, he writes : 

' . . . You saw the two models that were last sent, before 

you went away. Well, I took my paper, and I fixed my 

points, and I drew my perspective, and then, as Mr. Runciman 

told me, I began to invent a scene. You remember the 



cottage that we saw as we went to Rhaidyr Dhu (sic), near 
Maentwrog, where the old woman lived whose grandson went 
with us to the fall, so very silently ? I thought my model re- 
sembled that ; so I drew a tree — such a tree, such an enormous 
fellow — and I sketched the waterfall, with its dark rocks, and 
its luxuriant wood, and its high mountains ; and then I 
examined one of Mary's pictures to see how the rocks were 
done, [and another to see how the woods were done, and 
another to see how the mountains were done, and another to 
see how the cottages were done, and I patched them all 
together, and I made such a lovely scene — oh, I should get 
such a scold from Mr. Runciman (that is, if he ever scolded) !' 

After the next lesson he wrote, February 27, 1832 : ' You 
know the beautiful model drawing that I gave you an account 
of in my last? I showed it to Mr. Runciman. He con- 
templated it for a moment in silence, and then, turning, asked 
me if I had copied. I told him how I had patched it up ; 
but he said that that was not copying, and although he was 
not satisfied with the picture, he said there was something in 
it that would make him totally change the method he had 
hitherto pursued with me. He then asked Mary for some 
gray paper, which was produced ; then inquired if I had a 
colour-box; I produced the one you gave me, and he then 
told me he should begin with a few of the simplest colours, 
in order to teach me better the effects of light and shade. 
He should then proceed to teach me water-colour painting, 
but the latter only as a basis for oil ; this last, however, to 
use his own words, all in due time. . . . Oh, if I could paint 
well before we went to Dover ! I should have such sea- 
pieces. . . .' 

In March 1834, Mr. Runciman was encouraging him in his 
oil-painting ; but a year later he wrote to his father : 

• I cannot bear to paint in oil. 
C. Kelding's tints alone for me I 
The other costs me double toil, 
And wants some fifty coats to be 
Splashed on each spot successively. 


Faugh, wie es stinckt ! I can't bring out, 
With al], a picture fit to see. 
My bladders burst ; my oils are out — 
And then, -what's all the work about V 

After a few lessons he could rival Mary when they went for 
their summer excursion. He set to work at once at Seven- 
oaks to draw cottages ; at Dover and Battle he attempted 
castles. It may be that these first sketches are of the pre- 
Runciman period ; but the Ruskins made the round of Kent 
in 1831, and though the drawings are by no means in the 
master's style, they show some practice in using the pencil. 

The journey was extended by the old route, conditioned 
by business as before, round the South Coast to the West of 
England, and then into Wales. There his powers of drawing 
failed him ; moonlight on Snowdon was too vague a subject 
for the blacklead point, but a hint of it could be conveyed 
in rhyme : 

' Folding like an airy vest, 

The very clouds had sunk to rest ; 

Light gilds the rugged mountain's breast, 

Calmly as they lay below ; 

Every hill seemed topped with snow. 

As the flowing tide of light 

Broke the slumbers of the night.' 

Harlech Castle was too sublime for a sketch, but it was 
painted with the pen : 

' So mighty, so majestic, and ao lone ; 
And all thy music, now, the ocean's murmuring.' 

And the enthusiasm of mountain glory, a sort of Bacchic 
ecstasy of uncontrollable passion, strives for articulate 
deliverance in the climbing song, ' I love ye, ye eternal 

It was hard to come back to the daily round, the common 
task, especially when, in this autumn of 1831, to Dr. 
Andrews' Latin and Greek, the French grammar and Euclid 
were added, under Mr. Rowbotham. And the new tutor had 
no funny stories to tell ; he was not so engaging a man as 


the ' dear Doctor; and his memory was not sweet to his way- 
ward pupil. But the parents had chosen the best man for 
the work — one who was favourably known by his manuals, 
and capable of interesting even a budding poet in the 
mathematics ; for our author tells that at Oxford, and ever 
after, he knew his Euclid without the figures, and that he 
spent all his spare time in trying to trisect an angle. An old 
letter from Rowbotham informs Mr. J. J. Ruskin that an 
eminent mathematician had seen John's attempt, and had 
said that it was the cleverest he knew. In French, too, he 
progressed enough to be able to find his way alone in Paris 
two years later. And however the saucy boy may have 
satirized his tutor in the droll verses on ' Bedtime,' Mr. Row- 
botham always remembered him with affection, and spoke of 
him with respect. John Ruskin, boy and man, had a terrible 
power of winning hearts. 

In spite of these tedious tutorships, he managed to scribble 
energetically all this winter, writing with amazing rapidity, 
as his mother notes : attempts at Waverley novels, which 
never got beyond the first chapter, and imitations of ' Childe 
Harold ' and ' Don Juan ' ; scraps in the style of everybody 
in turn, necessarily imitative because immature. He was 
curiously versatile; one time he would be pedantic or stiff 
with the buckram and plume of romance ; again, gossipy and 
naif and humorous ; then sarcastic and satirical, sparing no 
one ; then carried away with a frenzy of excitement, which 
struggles to express itself, convulsively, and dies away in 
nonsense. No wonder his mother sent him to bed at nine 
punctually, and kept him from school, in vain efforts to quiet 
his brain. The lack of companions was made up to him in 
the friendship of Richard Fall, son of a neighbour on ' the 
Hill,' a boy without affectation or morbidity of disposition 
whose complementary character suited him well. An affection- 
ate comradeship sprang up between the two lads, and lasted, 
until in middle life they drifted apai-t, in no ill-will, but each 
going on his own course to his own destiny. 

Some real advance was made this winter (1831-32) with 


his Shelleyan 'Sonnet to a Cloud' and his imitations of 
Byron's 'Hebrew Melodies,' from which he learnt how to 
concentrate expression, and to use rich vowel-sounds and 
liquid consonants with rolling effect. A deeper and more 
serious turn of thought, that gradually usurped the place of 
the first boyish effervescence, has been traced by him to the 
influence of Byron, in whom, while others see nothing' more 
than wit and passion, Mr. Ruskin could feel an earnest mind 
and a sound judgment. 

But the most sincere poem — if sincerity be marked by 
unstudied phi'ase and neglected rhyme — the most genuine 
' lyrical cry ' of this period, is that song in which our boy-poet 
poured forth his longing for the ' blue hills ' he had loved as 
a baby, and for those Coniston crags over which, when he 
became old and sorely stricken, he was still to see the morning 
break. When he wrote these verses he was nearly fourteen, 
or just past his birthday. It had been eighteen months since 
he had been in Wales, and all the weary while he had seen 
no mountains ; but in his regrets he goes back a year farther 
still, to fix upon the Lakeland hills, less majestic than 
Snowdon, but moi'e endeared, and he describes his sensations 
on approaching the beloved objects in the very terms that 
Dante uses for his first sight of Beatrice : 

' I weary for the fountain foaming; 
For shady holm and hill ; 
My mind ia on the mountain roaming. 
My spirit's voice is still. 

' The crags are lone on Coniston 
And Glaramara's dell ;* 
And dreary on the mighty one, 
The cloud-enwreathed Sca-felL 

' Oh, what although the crags be stem, 

Their mighty peaks that sever ; 
Fresh flies the breeze on mountain-fern, 
And free on mountain heather. . . . 

* So in the first MS. ; changed afterwards to ' Loweswater's dell.' 


' There is a thrill o/stramge delight 
That passes quivering o'er me, 
When blue hills rise upon the sight, 
Like summer clouds before me.' 

Judge, then, of the delight with which he turned over the 
pages of a new book, given him this birthday by the kind 
Mr. Telford, in whose carriage he had first seen those blue 
hills — a book in which all his mountain-ideals, and more, 
were caught and kept enshi'ined — visions still, and of mightier 
peaks and ampler valleys, romantically ' tost ' and sublimely 
' lost,' as he had so often written in his favourite rhymes. In 
the vignettes to Rogers' 'Italy,' Turner had touched the 
chord for which John Ruskin had been feeling all these 
years; no wonder that he took Turner for his leader and 
master, and fondly tried to copy the wonderful 'Alps at 
Daybreak ' to begin with, and then to imitate this new-found 
magic art with his own subjects, and finally to come boldly 
before the world in passionate defence of a man who had 
done such great things for him. 

This mountain-worship was not inherited from his father, 
however it may have been an inheritance from remoter 
ancestry. Mr. J. J. Ruskin never was enthusiastic about 
peaks and clouds and glaciers, though he was interested in 
all travelling in a general way. So that it was not Rogers' 
' Italy ' that sent the family off to the Alps that summer ; 
but, fortunately for John, his father's eye was caught by 
the romantic architecture of Prout's 'Sketches in Flanders 
and Germany,' when it came out in April, 1833, and his 
mother proposed to make both of them happy in a tour on 
the Continent. The business-round was abandoned, but they 
could see Mr. Domecq on their way back through Paiis, and 
not wholly lose the time. 

They waited to keep papa's birthday on May 10, and early 
next morning drove off — ^father and mother, John and Mary, 
Nurse Anne, and the courier Salvador. They crossed to 
Calais, and posted, as people did in the old times, slowly 
from point to point ; starting betimes, halting at the road- 


side inns, where John tried to snatch a sketch, reaching their 
destination eai-ly enough to investigate the cathedral or the 
citadel, monuments of antiquity or achievements of modern 
civilization, with impai-tial eagerness; and before bedtune 
John would write up his journal and work up his sketches 
just as if he were at home. Once or twice he foimd time to 
sit do^vn and make a Proutesque study of some great build- 
ing, probably to please his father ; but his mind was set on 
his Turnei" vignettes. 

So they went through Flanders and Germany, following 
Prout's lead by the castles of the Rhine; but at last, at 
Schaft'hausen one Sunday evening — ' suddenly — behold — 
beyond!' — they had seen the Alps. Thenceforwai-d Tuiner 
was their guide as they crossed the Splugen, sailed the 
Italian lakes, wondered at Milan Cathedral, and the Medi- 
terranean at Genoa, and then — whether because it was too 
hot to go southwaid, or because John having tasted the 
Alps importmied for more — roamed through the Oberland 
and back to Chamouni. All this while a great plan shaped 
itself in the boy's head, no less than to make a Rogers' 
'Italy' for himself, just as once he had tried to make a 
' Harry and Lucy ' or a ' Dictionary of Minerals.' On every 
place they passed he would write verses and prose sketches, 
to give respectively the romance and the reality, or ridicule ; 
for he saw the comic side of it all, keenly ; and he would 
illustrate the series with Tui-neresque vignettes, drawn with 
the finest crowquill pen, to imitate the delicate engravings. 
That was his plftn, and if he never quite carried it out, he 
got good practice in two things which went to the making of 
' Modern Ptdnters ' — in descriptive writing, and in getting 
at the mind and method of Turner, by following him 
on his own sketching-ground, and caiTying out his subjects 
in his own way. This is just what l\uBer had done with 
Vandevelde and Claude, and it is the way to leai-n a land- 
scape-paintei-'s business ; there is no other, for simple copying 
neglects the relation of art to Natui-e — it is hke ti-ying 
to learn a language without a dictionai-y, and unguided 


experiments are not education at all. By this imitation of 
Turner and Prout, apart from Mr. Runciman's lessons in 
oil-painting, John Ruskin learnt more drawing in two or 
three years than most amateur students do in seven ; he had 
hit upon the right method, and worked hard. For the first 
year he has the ' Watchtower of Andernach'' and the ' Jungfrau 
from Interlaken ' to show, with others of similar style, and 
thenceforward alternates between Turner and Prout, until he 
settles into something different from either. 

But Turner and Prout were not the only artists he knew ; 
at Paris he found his way into the Louvre, and got leave 
from the directors, though he was under the age required, 
to copy. It is curious that the picture he chose was a 
Rembrandt ; it shows what the casual reader of his works on 
art might miss, that he is naturally a chiaroscurist, and that 
his praise of the pre-Raphaelite colour and draughtsmanship 
is not prompted by his taste and native feeling so much as 
by intellectual judgment. 

Between this foreign tour and the next, his amusement was 
to draw these vignettes, and to write the poems suggested by 
the scenes he had visited. He had outgrown the evening 
lessons with Dr. Andrews, and as he was fifteen, it was time 
to think more seriously of preparing him for Oxford, where 
his name was put down at Christ Church. His father hoped 
he would go into the Church, and eventually turn out a 
combination of a Byron and a bishop — something like Dean 
Milman, only better. For this, college was a necessary 
preliminary; for college, some little schooling. So they 
picked the best day-school in the neighbourhood, that of the 
Rev. Thomas Dale, in Grove Lane, Peckham.* John Ruskin 
worked there rather less than two years. In 1835 he was 
taken from school in consequence of an attack of pleurisy, 
and lost the rest of that year from regular studies. 

* 'Schoolmaster, poet, author and preacher. In 1835 he waa pre- 
sented to the living of St. Bride's, Fleet Street ; in 1843 to a canonry 
of St. Paul's ; and he died in 1870, shortly after acoeptingi the deanery 
of Bochester.' — Editor's preface to Three Letters and an Essay, by 
John Buskin, published 1893. 


More interesting to him than school was the British 
Museum collection of minerals, where he worked occasionally 
with his Jamieson's Dictionary. By this time he had a fair 
student's collection of his own, and he increased it by picking 
up specimens at Matlock, or Clifton, or in the Alps, wherever 
he went, for he was not short of pocket-money ; he earned 
enough by scribbling even if his father were not always ready 
to indulge his fancy. He took the greatest pains over his 
catalogues, and wrote elaborate accounts of the various 
minerals in a shorthand he invented out of Greek letters and 
crystal forms. 

Grafted on this mineralogy, and stimulated by the Swiss 
tour, was a new interest in physical geology, which his father 
so far approved as to give him Saussure's ' Voyages dans les 
Alpes ' for his birthday in 1834. In this book he found the 
complement of Turner's vignettes, something like a key to 
the ' reason why ' of all the wondei-ful forms and marvellous 
mountain-architecture of the Alps. 

In our hills of the North these things do not so obviously 
call for explanation ; but no intelligent boy could look long 
and intently at the crags of Lauterbrminen and the peaks of 
Savoy without feeling that their twisted strata present a 
problem which arouses all his curiosity. And this boy was 
by no means content with a superficial sentiment of grandeur. 
He tried to understand the causes of it, to get at the secrets 
of the structure, and found poetry in that mystery of the 
moimtains, no less than in their storms and sunrises. He 
soon wrote a short essay on the subject, and had the pleasure 
of seeing it in print, in Loudon's Magazine of Natural 
History for Maich, 1834, along with another bit of his 
writing, asking for information on the cause of the colour of 
the Rhine-water. It was rather characteristic that he began 
his literary career by asking questions that got no answer, 
and that his next appearance in print was to demolish a 
correspondent to the same magazine, whose accounts of rats 
eating leaden pipes was discredited by the extraordinary 
dimensions which he assigned. The analytic John Ruskin 
was already an enfant terrible. 


He had already some acquaintance with Mr. J. C. Loudon^ 
F.L.S., H.S., etc., and he was on the staflF of that versatile 
editor not long afterwards, and took a lion's share of the 
writing in the Magazine of Architectwe. Meanwhile he had 
been introduced to another editor, and to the publishers 
with whom he did business for many a year to come. The 
acquaintance was made in a curious, accidental manner. His 
cousin Charles, clerk to Smith, Elder, and Co., had the 
opportunity of mentioning the young poet's name to Mr. 
Thomas Pringle, editor of the ' Fiiendship's Offering ' which 
John had so admired sind imitated. Mr. Pringle came out 
to Heme Hill, and was hospitably entertained as a brother 
Scot, as not only an editor, but a poet himself, — not only a 
poet, but a man of respectability and piety, who had been a 
missionary in South Africa. In return for this hospitality he 
gave a good report of John's verses, and, after getting him to 
re-write two of the best passages in the last tour, carried 
them off for insertion in his forthcoming number. He did 
more : he carried John to see the actual Mr. Samuel Rogers, 
whose verses had been adorned by the great Turner's 
vignettes. But it seems that the boy was not courtier 
enough — home-bred as he had been — to compliment the 
poet as poets love to be complimented ; and the great man, 
dilettante as he was, had not the knowledge of art to be 
honestly delighted with the boy's enthusiasm for the wonder- 
ful drawings which had given his book the best part of its 

After the pleurisy of April, 1835, his parents took him 
abroad again, and he made great preparations to use the 
opportimity to the utmost. He would study geology in the 
field, and took Saussure in his trunk ; he would note meteor- 
ology : he made a cyanometer — a scale of blue to measure the 
depth of tone, the colour whether of Rhine-water or of Alpine 
skies. He would sketch. By now he had abandoned the 
desire to make MS. albums, after seeing himself in print, and 
so chose rather to imitate the imitable, and to follow Prout, 
this time with careful outlines on the spot, than to idealize 


his notes in mimic Tuineiism. He kept a prose journal, 
chiefly of geology luid scenery, as well as a versified descrip- 
tion, wi-itten in a metre imitated from ' Don Juan,' but more 
elaborate, and somewhat of a tour de foice in rhyming. But 
that poetical jomnaJ was dropped after he had carried it 
through Prance, across the Jiu-a, and to Chamouni. The 
drawing crowded it out, and for the first time he found him- 
self over the pons asinorum of ai-t, as ready with his pencil as 
he had been with his pen. 

His route is mai'ked by the drawings of that year, from 
Chamouni to the St. Bemaid and Aosta, back to the Ober- 
land and up the St. Gothard ; then back again to Lucerne 
and round by the Stelvio to Venice and Verona, and finally 
through the Tyrol and Germany homewards. The ascent of 
tlie St. Bernard was told in a dramatic sketch of great humour 
and power of chai-acterlzation, and a letter to Richard Fall 
recoi-ds the night on the Rigi, when he saw the splendid 
sequence of storm, sunset, moonlight, and daybreak, which 
forms the subject of one of the most impressive passages 
of ' Modem Painters.' 

It happened that Mr. Pringle had a plate of Salzburg 
which he wanted to print in order to make up the volume of 
' Friendship's Offering ' for the next Christmas. He seems to 
have asked John Ruskin to famish a copy of verses for the 
picture, and at Salzburg, accordingly, a bit of rhymed descrip- 
tion was written and re-written, and sent home to the editor. 
Early in December the Ruskins returned, and at Christmas 
there came to Heme Hill a gorgeous gilt morocco volume, 
' To John Ruskin, from the Publishers.' On opening it there 
were his ' Andemach ' and ' St. Goar,' and his ' Salzburg ' 
opposite a beautifully-engraved plate, all hills and towers and 
boats and picturesquely-moving figures under the sunset, in 
Turner's manner more or less, ' Engraved by E. Goodall from 
,a drawing by W. Pm'ser.' It was almost like being Mr. 
Rogers himself. 



'And, putting ou the coat of darlcness, approached near the giant, 
and said softly, " Oh, are you there 1 It wiU not be long ere I shall 
take you fast by the beard." ' — Jack the Giant-killer. 

FROM the ' Conversation ' printed at the end of the first 
volume of Mr. Ruskin's 'Poems,' we get a life-like 
picture of the Heme Hill family at this turning-point 
— the close of John Ruskin's childhood. There is the father, 
sighing for beloved Italy, and grumbling at London fogs and 
business annoyances ; the mother, careful and troubled about 
little things, but piously looking at the bright side ; Mary, 
the good girl ; and John, the romantic, observant, humorous, 
irrepressible boy — all sketched with the cleverest touches of 
dramatic portraiture. 

He was now close upon seventeen, and it was time to think 
seriously of his future. His father went to Oxford early in 
the year to consult the authorities about matriculation. 
Meantime they sent him to Mr. Dale for some private 
lessons, and for the lectures on logic, English literature, and 
translation, which were given on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and 
Fridays at King's College, London. John enjoyed his new 
circumstances heartily. From voluminous letters, it is evident 
that he was in high spirits and in pleasant company. He was a 
thorough boy among boys — Matson, Willoughby, Tom Dale, 
and the rest. He joined in their pranks, and contributed to 
their amusement with his ready good-humour and unflagging 


Mr. Dale told him thei-e was plenty of time before October, 
and no fear about his passing, if he worked hard. He found the 
work easy, except epigram-writing, which he thought ' exces- 
sively stupid and laborious,' but helped himself out, when 
scholarship failed, with native wit. Some of his exercises 
remain, not very brilliant Latinity ; some he saucily evaded, 

' Subject : iVb« sapere maximum est malum. 

' Non sapere est grave ; sed, cwm dura epigrammata oportet 
Scribere, tunc sentia prsecipue ease malum.' 

In Switzerland and Italy, during the autumn of 1835, he 
had made a great many drawings, carefully outlined in pencil 
or pen on gray paper, and sparsely touched with body colour, 
in direct imitation of the Prout lithographs. Prout's original 
coloured sketches he had seen, no doubt, in the exhibition ; 
but he does not seem to have thought of imitating them, for 
his work in this kind was all intended to be for illustration of 
his MS. books. The ' Italy ' vignettes likewise, with all their 
inspiration, suggested to him only pen-etching; he was 
hardly conscious that somewhere there existed the tiny, 
delicious, coloured picttires that Turner had made for the 
engraver. Still, now that he could draw really well, his father, 
who painted in watei'-colours himself, complied with the 
demand for better teaching than Runciman's, went straight 
to the Pi-esident of the Old Water-Colour Society, and 
engaged him for the usual course of half a dozen lessons 
at a guinea apiece. Copley Fielding, beside being president, 
could draw mountains as nobody else but Turner could, in 
water-colour ; he had enough mystery and poetry to interest 
the younger Ruskin, and enough resemblance to ordinary 
views of Nature to please the elder. 

So they both went to Newman Street to his painting-room, 
and John worked through the course, and a few extra lessons, 
but, after all, fomid Fielding's art was not what he wanted. 
Some sketches exist, showing the influence of the spongy 
style ; but his characteristic way of work remained for him to 
devise for himself, by following at firet the highest masters he 


knew, and by superadding to the lessons he could get from 
them an expression of his own sincere feeling. 

At the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1836 Turner showed 
the first striking examples of his later style in ' Juliet and her 
Nurse,' ' Mercury and Argus,' and ' Rome from Mount Aven- 
tine.' The strange idealism, the unusualness, the mystery, of 
these pictures, united with evidence of intense significance and 
subtle observation, appealed to young Ruskin as it appealed 
to few other spectators. Here was Venice as he saw her in 
his own dreams ; here were mountains and skies such as he 
had watched, and studied, and attempted to describe in his 
own poems. It was not for nothing that he had been 
devoted to Nature, that he had tried to set down her 
phenomena in writing, and to represent her forms with 
severe draughtsmanship ; that he had studied the geology of 
mountains as well as the poetry of them. In Turner's work 
he saw both sides of his own character reflected, both aspects 
of Nature recorded. It was not the mere matter-of-fact map 
of the place which would have appealed to merely matter-of- 
fact people, interested in science. Nor was it simply a vague 
Miltonian imagination, which would have appealed to the 
mere sentimentalist. But Turner had been able to show, 
and young Ruskin to appreciate, the combination of two 
attitudes with regard to Nature : the scientific, inquisitive 
about her facts, her detail ; and the poetical, expatiating in 
effect, in breadth and mystery. 

There may have been other people who appreciated these 
pictures ; if so, they said nothing. On the contrary, public 
opinion regretted this change for the worse in its old 
favourite, the draughtsman of Oxford colleges, the painter 
of shipwrecks and castles. And Blackwood's Magazine, which 
the Ruskins, as Edinburgh people and admirers of Christopher 
North, read with respect, spoke about Turner, in a review of 
the picture-season, with that freedom of speech which Scotch 
reviewei's claim as a heritage from the days of Jeffrey. Young 
Ruskin at once dashed off an answer, indignant not so much 
that Turner was attacked, but that he should have been 


attacked by a wi-iter whose article showed that he was not a 
tpalified critic of art, and that this should have been printed 
in ' Maga.' 

The critic had found that Turner was 'out of nature'; 
Ruskin tried to show that the pictures were full of facts, 
studied on the spot and thoroughly understood, but treated 
with poetical license — Turner being, like Shakespeare, an 
idealist, in the sense of allowing himself a free treatment of 
his material. The critic pronounced Turner's colour bad, 
his execution neglected, and his chiaroscuro childish; in 
answer to which Ruskin explained that Turner's reasoned 
system was to represent light and shade by the contrast of 
warm and cold colour, rather than by the opposition of white 
and black which other painters used. He denied that his 
execution was other than his aims necessitated, and main- 
tained that the critic had no right to force his cut-and-dried 
academic rules of composition on a great genius; at the 
same time admitting that ' the faults of Tui-ner are numerous, 
and perhaps more egregious than those of any other great 
existing artist; but if he has greater faults, he has also 
greater beauties. 

' His imagination is Shakespearian in its mightiness. Had 
the scene of "Juliet and her Nurse" risen up before the 
mind of a poet, and been described in " words that bum," it 
had been the admiration of the world. . . . Many-coloured 
mists are floating above the distant city, but such mists as 
you might imagine to be ethereal spu'its, souls of the mighty 
dead breathed out of the tombs of Italy into the blue of her 
bright heaven, and wandering in vague and infinite glory 
around the eai-th that they have loved. Instinct with the 
beauty of uncertain light, they move and mingle among the 
pale stars, and rise up into the brightness of the illimitable 
heaven, whose soft, sad blue eye gazes down into the deep 
waters of the sea for ever — that sea whose motionless and 
silent transparency is beaming with phosphor light, that 
emanates out of its sapphire serenity hke bright dreams 
breathed into the spirit of a deep sleep. And the spu'es of 


the glorious city rise indistinctly bright into those living 
mists, like pyramids of pale fire from some vast altar ; and 
amidst the glory of the dream there is, as it were, the voice 
of a multitude entering by the eye, aiising from the stillness 
of the city like the summer wind passing over the leaves of 
the forest, when a murmur is heard amidst their multitudes. 

' This, O Maga, is the picture which your critic has pro- 
nounced to be like "models of different pai-ts of Venice, 
streaked blue and white, and thi-own into a flour-tub ■" !' 

Before sending this reply to the editor of Blackteood, as 
had been intended, it was thought only right that Turner 
should be consulted, as he was the person most interesbed. 
The MS. was enclosed to his address in London, with a 
courteous note from Mr. John James Ruskin, asking his 
permission to publish. Turner replied, expressing the scorn 
he felt for anonymous attacks, and jestingly hinting that the 
ai-t-critics of the old Scotch school found their ' meal-tub ' in 
danger from his * flour-tub ' ; but ' he never moved in such 
matters,' so he sent on the MS. to Mr. Munro of Novai-, who 
had bought the picture. 

Thus the essay was lost until another copy turned up 
among old papers, enabling us to add an important link to 
the history of a great enterprise, for this was the 'first 
chapter,' the germ of ' Modern Painters.' 

Ten days or so after this episode John Ruskin was matri- 
culated at Oxford (October 18, 1836). He tells the story of 
his first appearance as a gownsman in one of those gossiping 
letters in verse which show his improvisional humorous talent 
to the best advantage : 

' A night, a day past o'er — the time drew near — 
The morning came — I felt a little queer ; 
Came to the push ; paid some tremendous fees ; 
Past ; and was capped and gowned with marvellous ease. 
Then went to the Vice-Chancellor to swear 
Not to wear boots, nor cut or comb my liair 
Fantastically — to shun all such sins 
As playing marbles or frequenting inns ; 


Always to walk with breeches black or browu oji ; 
When I go out, to put my cap and gown on ; 
With other regulations of the sort, meant 
For the just ordering of my comportment. 
Which done, in less time than I can rehearse it, I 
Found myself member of the Uuiversity !' 

In pursuance of his plan for getting the best of everytliing, 
his fatlier had chosen the best college, as far as he knew, 
that in Avhich social and scholastic advantages were believed 
to be found in pre-eminent combination, and he had chosen 
what was tliought to be the best position in the college ; so 
that it was as gentleman-commoner of Chi'ist Church that 
Jolin Ruskin made his entrance into the academic world. 

In ' Praeteiita ' he hints that there was some feai" of his 
failing if he had tried for the ordinary matriculation ; and, 
indeed, he was ' shaky ' in ' scholarship,' as Mr. Dale reported 
(in official terms) to the parents at the end of this King's 
College year. Mi-s. Dale roundly told Mr. J. J. Ruskin that 
John had been neglected between ten and twelve, reflecting 
thereby upon Dr. Andrews. But if his classics were not up 
to the mark, his ' English ' was very faa* beyond the average, 
and examiners of fifty years ago did not so entirely neglect 
' the modern side ' as to ignore clever essay-writing. 

After matriculation, the Ruskins made a fortnight's tour 
to Southampton and the coast, and returned to Heme Hill. 
John went back to King's College, and in December was 
examined in the subjects of his lectures. He wrote to his 
father on Christmas Eve about the examination in English 
Uterature: 'The students were numerous, and so were the 
questions ; the room was hot, the papers long, the pens bad, 
the ink psJe, and the interrogations difficult. It lasted only 
three hom-s. I wrote answers in very magnificent style to all 
the questions except three or four; gave in my paper aad 
heard no more of the matter: sic transeuvi bore-ia mutidV 
He goes on to mention his ' very longitudinal essay,' which, 
since no other essays are reported in his letters about King's 
College, must be the paper published in 1893, in answer 
to the question, ' Does the perusal of works of fiction act 


favoiirably or unfavourably on the moral character ?' It would 
have been strange if any college had refused a candidate with 
such evidence of brains and the will to use them. 

At his farewell interview with Mr. Dale he was asked, as 
he writes to his father, what books he had read, and replied 
with a pretty long list, including Quintilian and Grotius. 
Mr. Dale inquired what ' light books ' he was taking to 
Oxford: 'Saussure, Humboldt, and other works on natural 
philosophy and geology,' he answered. 'Then he asked if 
I ever read any of the modem fashionable novels ; on this 
point I thought he began to look positive, so I gave him 
a negative, with the exception of Bulwer's, and now and 
then a laughable one of Theodore Hook's or Captain 
Marryat's.' And so, with much excellent advice about 
exercise and sleep, and the way to win the Newdigate, he 
parted from Mr. Dale. 

This Christmas was marked by his first introduction to the 
scientific world. Mr. Charlesworth, of the British Museum, 
invited him to a meeting of the Geological Society (January 4, 
1837), with promise of introductions to Buckland and Lyell. 
The meeting, as he wi'ote, was ' amusing and interesting, and 
very comfortable for frosty weather, as Mr. Mui-chison got 
warm and Mr. Greenau (sic) witty. The warmth, however, 
got the better of the wit.' 

The Meteorological Society also claimed his attention, and 
in this month he contributed a paper which ' Richard says 
will frighten them out of their meteorological wits, contain- 
ing six close- written folio pages, and having, at its conclusion, 
a sting in its tail, the very agreeable announcement that it 
only commences the subject.' 


A LOVE-STORY. (1836-1839.) 

' I loved a certain person ardently, and my love was not returned. 
Yet out of that I have written these songs.'— ZeaMs of Grass. 

EARLY in 1836 the quiet of Heme Hill was fluttered by 
a long-promised, long-postponed visit. Mr. Domecq 
at last brought his four younger daughters to make the 
acquaintance of their English friends. The eldest sister had 
lately been married to a Count Maison, heir to a peer of 
France; for Mr. Domecq, thanks in great measure to his 
partner's energy and talents, was prosperous and wealthy, 
and moved in the enchanted circles of Parisian society. 

To a romantic schoolboy in a London suburb the appari- 
tion was dazzling. Any of the' sisters would have charmed 
him, but the eldest of the four, Adele Clotilde, bewitched 
him at once with her graceful figure and that oval face which 
was so admired in those times. She was fair, too — another 
recommendation. He was on the brink of seventeen, at the 
ripe moment, and he fell passionately in love with her. She 
was only fifteen, and did not understand this adoration, 
unspoken and unexpressed except by intensified shyness ; for 
he was a very shy boy in the drawing-room, though brimming 
over with life arid fun among his schoolfellows. His mother's 
ideals of education did not include French gallantry ; he felt 
at a loss before these Paris-bred, Paris-dressed young ladies, 
and encumbered by the very strength of his new-found 


And yet he possessed advantages, if he had known how to 
use them. He was tall and active, light and lithe in gesture, 
not a clumsy hobbledehoy. He had the face that caught the 
eye, in Rome a few years later, of Keats' Severn, no mean 
judge, surely, of faces and poets' faces. He was undeniably 
clever ; he knew all about minerals and mountains ; he was 
quite an artist, and a printed poet. But these things weigh 
little with a girl of fifteen who wants to be amused ; and so 
she only laughed at Johii. 

He tried to amuse her, but he tried too seriously. He 
wrote a story to read hei-, ' Leoni, a Legend of Italy ' (for of 
course she understood enough English to be read to, no doubt 
to be wooed in, seeing her mother was English), The story 
was of brigands and true lovers, the thing that was popular 
in the romantic period. The costumery and mannerisms of 
the little romance are out of date now, and seem ridiculous 
as an old-fashioned dress does, though Mr. Pringle and the 
public were pleased with it then, when it was printed in 
' Friendship's Oifering.' But the note of passion was too real 
for the girl of fifteen, and she only laughed the more. 

When they left, he was alone with his poetry again. But 
now he had no interest in his tour-book ; even the mountains, 
for the time, had lost their power, and all his plans of great 
works were dropped for a new style of verse — the love-poems 
of 1836. 

His father, from whom he kept nothing, approved the 
verses, and did not disapprove his views on the young lady. 
Indeed, it is quite plain, from the correspondence of the two 
gentlemen, that Mr. Domecq intended his friend and partner's 
son to become his own son-in-law. He had the greatest 
respect for the Ruskins, and every resison for desiring to link 
their fortunes still more closely with those of his own family. 
But to Mrs. Ruskin, with her religious feelings, it was intoler- 
able, unbelievable, that the son whom she had brought up in 
the nurture and admonition of the strictest Protestantism 
should fix his heart on an alien in race and creed. The 
wonder is that their relations were not more strained ; there 


are few young men who would have kept unbroken allegiance 
to a mother whose sympathy failed them at such a crisis. 

To end the story we must anticipate a little ; there are so 
many strands in this complex life that they cannot be followed 
all at once. When we have traced this one out, we can 
resume the history of John Ruskin as student and poet and 
youthful savant. 

As the year went on his passion seemed to grow in the 
absence of the beloved object. His only plan of winning her 
was to win his spurs first ; but as what ? Clearly his forte, it 
seemed, was in writing. If he could be a successful writer of 
romances, of songs, of plays, surely she would not refuse him. 
And so he began another romantic story, ' Velasquez, the 
Novice,' opening with the monks of St. Bernard, among 
whom had been, so the tale ran, a mysterious member, whose 
papers, when discovered, made him out the hero of adven- 
tures in Venice. He began a play, which was to be another 
great work, ' Marcolini.' To this he has alluded in terms 
which leave one in doubt whether its author has re-read it 
since it was written under the mulberry-tree in Heme Hill 
garden that summer of 1836. Partly Shakesperian, but more 
Byronic in form, it does not depend merely on description, 
but shows a dramatic power of character and dialogue indi- 
cated by many earlier attempts at stories and scenes. The 
weakness of ' Marcolini ' is in the arrangement and disposition 
of the plot ; he has no playwright''s eye for situations. But 
the conversation is animated, and the characters finely drawn, 
with more discrimination than one would expect from so 
yoimg an author. 

This work was interrupted at the end of Act III. by press- 
ing calls to other studies, which have been described ; and 
then by the attempt to win the distinction he sought in the 
Newdigate prize at Oxford. But it was not that he had 
forgotten Adele. From time to time he wrote verses to her 
or about her ; and as in 1838 she was sent to school with her 
sisters at Newhall, near Chelmsford, to ' finish ' her in English, 
in that August he saw her again. She had lost some of her 


first girlish prettiness, but that made no difference. And 
when the Domecqs came to Heme Hill at Christmas, he 
was as deeply in love as ever. But she still laughed at 

His father was fond of her, liked all the sisters, and 
thought much of them as girls of fine character, but he 
liked Adele best. He seems to have been fond of his partner, 
too, worked very hard in his interests, and behaved very well 
to his heirs afterwards through many years of responsible and 
difiicult management of their business. And at this time, 
when he went down to the convent school in Essex, as he 
often did, he must have had opportunities for seeing how 
hopeless the case was. Mr. Domecq recognised it, too, but 
thought, it seems (they manage these things differently in 
France), that any of his daughters would do as well, and 
early in 1839 entertained an offer from Baron Duquesne, a 
rich and handsome young Frenchman. They kept this from 
John, fearing he would break down at the news, so fully did 
they recognise the importance of the affair. They even 
threw other girls in his way. It was not difiicult, for by now 
he had made his mark in magazine literature, and was a 
iteady, rising young man, with considerable expectations. 
But he could not think of any other girl. 

In February or March, 1839, Mr. Domecq died. The 
Maisons came to England, and the marriage was proposed. 
Adele stayed at Chelmsford until September, when he wrote 
the long poem of ' Farewell,' dated the eve of their last meet- 
ing and parting. One sees that he has been reading his 
Shelley ; one sees that he knows he is writing ' poetry ' ; but 
at the same time it is certain that his disappointment was 
deep, after nearly four years of hope and effort and real 
fidelity at a period of life when, if ever, a lover's unfaithful- 
ness might be easily pardoned, placed as he was among new 
scenes and new people, among success and flattery and awaken- 
ing ambitions. But in this disappointment there is no anger, 
no bitterness, no reproach. She is still to be his goddess of 
stone — calm and cold, but never to be forgotten. 


At twenty young men do not die of love ; but I find that 
a fortnight after writing this he was taken seriously ill. 
During the winter of 1839-40 the negotiations for the 
marriage in Paris went on. It took place in March. They 
kept the news from him as long as they could, for he was in 
the schools next Easter term, and Mr. Brown (his college 
tutor) had seemed to hope he would get a First, so his mother 
wrote to her husband. In May he was pronounced consump- 
tive, and had to give up Oxford, and all hope of the distinc- 
tion for which he had laboured, and with that any plans bhat 
might have been entertained for his distinction in the Church. 
And his parents' letters of the period put it beyond a doubt 
that this first great calamity of his life — how far-reaching 
cannot well be told — was the direct consequence of that un- 
fortunate matchmaking. 

For nearly two years he was dragged about from place to 
place, and from doctor to doctor, in search of health. Thanks 
partly to wise treatment, more to new faces, and most to a 
plucky determination to employ himself usefully with his pen 
and his pencil, he gradually freed himself from the spell, and 
fifty years afterwards could look back upon the story as a 
pretty comedy of his youthful days. How pretty, at any 
rate, the actress must have been, if we do not believe his own 
words, and taste, we can judge fi-om a little side-glimpse of 
the sequel afforded us by a writer whose connoisseurship in 
pretty girls we can trust, Mrs. Richmond Ritchie (Miss 
Thackeray) : 

'The writer* can picture to herself something of the 
charm of these most charming sisters ; for once, by chance, 
travelling on Lake Leman, she found herself watching a lady 
who sat at the steamer's end, a beautiful young woman, all 
dressed in pale gray, with a long veil floating on the wind, 
who sat motionless and absorbed, looking towards the distant 
hills, not unlike the vision of some guiding, wistful Ariel at. 
the prow, while the steamer sped its way between the banks. 
The story of the French sisters has gained an added interest 
* In Harper's Magazine, March, 1890. 


from the remembrance of those dark, lovely eyes, that charm- 
ing countenance ; for afterwai'ds, when I knew her better, the 
lady told me that her mother had been a Domecq, and had 
once lived with her sisters in Mr. Ruskin's home. Circum- 
stances had divided them in after-days, but all the children 
of the family had been brought up to know Mr. Ruskin by 
name, and to love and appreciate his books. The lady sent 
him many messages by me, which I delivered in after-days, 
when, alas ! it was from Mr. Ruskin himself I learned that 
the beautiful traveller — Isabelle,* he called her — ^had passed 
away before her time to those distant hills where all our 
journeys end.' 

* Daughter of Comtesse Maison (Mathilde Domecq). The sisters 
all married Frenchmen of title, and were well known and highly re- 
spected in French society. Mme. Duquesne has Ion? been dead. 


'KATA PHUSIN.' (1837,1838.) 

' And you, painter, who are desirous of great practice, understand 
tliat if you do not rest it on the good foundation of Nature, you will 
labour with little honour and less profit ; and if you do it on a good 
ground, your works will be many and good, to your great honour and 
advantage.' — Leonardo da Vinci. 

DEVOTED as she was to her husband, Mrs. Ruskin felt 
bound to watch over her son at Oxford. It was his 
health she was always anxious about; doctoring was 
her forte. He had suffered from pleurisy ; caught cold 
easily ; was feared to be weak in the lungs ; and nobody but 
his mother understood him. So taking Mai-y Richardson, 
she went up with him (Januaiy, 1837), and settled in 
lodgings at Mr. Adams' in the High. Her plan was to 
make no inti'usion on his college life, but to requii-e him 
to report himself every day to her. She would not be dull ; 
she could drive about and see the country, and to that end 
took her own carriage to Oxford, the ' fly ' which had been 
set up two years before. John had been rather sarcastic 
about its genteel appearance. ' No one,' he said, ' would sit 
down to (IraAv the form of it.' However, she and Mary di'ove 
to Oxford, and reckoned that it would only mean fifteen 
months' absence from home altogether, great part of which 
deserted papa would spend in travelling. 

John went into residence in Peckwater. At first he spent 
every evening with his mother and went to bed, as Mr. Dale 
had told him, at ten. After a few days Professor Powell 


asked him to a musical evening; he excused himself, and 
explained why. The Professor asked to be introduced, 
whereupon says his mother, 'I shall return the call, but 
make no visiting acquaintances.' 

The ' early-to-bed ' plan was also impracticable. It was 
not long before somebody came hammering at his ' oak ' just 
as he was getting to sleep, and next morning he told his 
mother that he really ought to have a glass of wine to give. 
So she sent him a couple of bottles over, and that very night 
' Mr. Liddell and Mr. Gaisford' (junior) turned up. 'John 
was glad he had wine to offer, but they would not take any ; 
they had come to see sketches. John says Mr. Liddell 
looked at them with the eye of a judge and the delight of 
an artist, and swore they were the best sketches he had 
ever seen. John accused him of quizzing, but he answered 
that he really thought them excellent.' John said that it 
was the scenes which made the pictures ; Mr. Liddell knew 
better, and spread the fame of them over the college. Next 
morning ' Lord Emlyn and Lord Ward called to look at the 
sketches,' and when the undergraduates had dropped in one 
after another, the Dean himself, even the terrible Gaisford, 
sent for the portfolio, and returned it with august approval. 

Liddell, afterwards Dean of Christ Church ; Newton, after- 
wards Sir Charles, of the British Museum ; Acland, afterwards 
Sir Henry, the Professor of Medicine, thus became John 
Ruskin's friends : the first disputing with him on the burning 
question of Raphael's art, but from the outset an admirer of 
' Modern Painters,' and always an advocate of its author ; the 
second differing from him on the claims of Greek archseology, 
but nevertheless a close acquaintance through many long 
years ; and the third for half a century the best of friends 
and counsellors. It was a happy destiny that brought him 
to Christ Church among such men. 

The dons of his college he was less likely to attract. 
Dr. Buckland, the famous geologist, and still more famous 
lecturer and talker, took notice of him and employed him in 
drawing diagrams for lectures. The Rev. Walter Brown, his 


college tutor, afterwards Rector of Wendlebury, won his 
good-will and remained his friend. His private tutor, the 
Rev. Osborne Gordon, was always regarded with affectionate 
respect. But the rest seem to have looked upon him as a 
somewhat desultory and erratic young genius, who might or 
might not turn out well. For their immediate purpose, the 
Schools, and Church or State preferment, he seemed hardly 
the fittest man. 

The gentlemen-commoners of Christ Church were a puzzle 
to Mrs. Ruskin ; noblemen of sporting tastes, who rode and 
betted and drank, and got their impositions written ' by men 
attached to the University for the purpose, at Is. 6d. to 
2s. 6d., so you have only to reckon how much you will give 
to avoid chapel.' And yet they were very nice fellows. If 
they began by riding on John's back round the quad, they 
did not give him the cold shoulder — quite the reverse. He 
was asked everywhere to wine ; he beat them all at chess ; 
and they invaded him at all hours. 'It does little good 
sporting his oak,' wrote his mother, describing how Lord 
Desart and Grimston climbed in through his window while 
he was hard at work. ' They say midshipmen and Oxonians 
have more lives than a cat, and they have need of them if 
they run such risks.' 

Once, but once only, he was guilty, as an innocent fresh- 
man, of a breach of the laws of his order. He wrote too 
good an essay. He tells his father : 


' February, 1837. 
' Yesterday (Saturday) forenoon the Sub-dean sent for me, 
took me up into his study, sat down with me, and read over 
my essay, pointing out a few verbal alterations and suggesting 
improvements ; I, of course, expressed myself highly grateful 
for his condescension. Going out, I met Strangeways. " So 
you're going to read out to-day, Ruskin. Do go it at a good 
rate, my good fellow. Why do you write such devilish good 
ones ?" Went a little farther and met March. " Mind you 
stand on the top of the desk, Ruskin ; gentlemen-commoners 


never stand on the steps." I asked him whether it would 
look more dignified to stand head or heels uppermost. He 
advised heels. Then met Desart. " We must have a grand 
supper after this, Ruskin ; gentlemen -commoners always 
have a flare-up after reading their themes." I told him I 
supposed he wanted to " pison my rum-and-water." ' 

And though they teased him unmercifully, he seems to 
have given as good as he got. At a big wine after the 
event, they asked him whether his essay cost 2s. 6d. or 5s. 
What he answered is not reported; but they proceeded to 
make a bonfire in Peckwater, while he judiciously escaped 
to bed. 

So for a home-bred boy, thrown into rather difficult 
surroundings, his first appearance at Christ Church was dis- 
tinctly a success. 'Collections' in March, 1837, went off 
creditably for him. Hussey, Kynaston, and the Dean said 
he had taken great pains with his work, and had been a 
pattern of regularity ; and he ended his first term very well 
pleased with his college and with himself. 

In his second term he had the honour of being elected to 
the Christ Church Club, a very small and very exclusive 
society of the best men in the college : ' Simeon, Acland, and 
Mr. Denison proposed him ; Lord Carew and Broadhurst 
supported.' And he had the opportunity of meeting men 
of mark, as the following letter recounts. He writes on 
April 22, 1837 : 

' My dearest Father, 

' When I returned from hall yesterday — where a 
servitor read, or pretended to read, and Decanus growled at 
him, " Speak out !" — I found a note on my table from Dr. 
Buckland, requesting the pleasure of my company to dinner, 
at six, to meet two celebrated geologists. Lord Cole and 
Sir Philip Egerton. I immediately sent a note of thanks 
and acceptance, dressed, and was there a minute after the 
last stroke of Tom. Alone for five minutes in Dr. B.'s 


drawing-room, who soon afterwards came in with Lord Cole, 
introduced me, and said that as we were both geologists he 
did not hesitate to leave us together while he did what he 
certainly very much required — brushed up a little. Lord 
Cole and I were talking about some fossils newly arrived 
from India. He remarked in the course of conversation that 
his friend Dr. B.'s room was cleaner and in better order than 
he remembered ever to have seen it. There was not a chair 
fit to sit upon, all covered with dust, broken alabaster 
ceindlesticks, withered flower -leaves, frogs cut out of ser- 
pentine, broken models of fallen temples, torn papers, old 
manuscripts, stuffed reptiles, deal boxes, brown paper, wool, 
tow and cotton, and a considerable variety of other articles. 
In came Mrs. Buckland, then Sir Philip Egerton and his 
brother, whom I had seen at Dr. B.'s lecture, though he is 
not an undergraduate. I was talking to him till dinner-time. 
AVhile we were sitting over our wine after dinner, in came 
Dr. Daubeny, one of the most celebrated geologists of the 
day — a curious little animal, looking through its spectacles 
with an air very distinguee — and Mr. Darwin, whom I had 
heard read a paper at the Geological Society. He and I 
got together, and talked all the evening.' 

There is no quizzing of Mr. Darwin ; John Ruskin knew a 
first-rate man when he met him. 

The long vacation of 1837 was passed in a tour through 
the North, during which his advanced knowledge of art was 
shown in a series of admirable drawings. Their subjects are 
chiefly architectural, though a few mountain drawings are 
found in his sketch-book for that summer. 

TTie interest in ancient and picturesque buildings was no 
new thing, and it seems to have been the branch of art-study 
which was chiefly encouraged by his father. During this 
tour among Cumberland cottages and Yorkshire abbeys, a 
plan was formed for a series of papers on architecture, perhaps 
in answer to an invitation from his friend Mr. Loudon, who 
had started an architectural magazine. In the summer he 


began to wiite ' The Poetry of Architecture ; or, The Archi- 
tectiire of the Nations of Europe considered in its Association 
with Natural Scenery and National Character,' and the 
papers were worked off month by month from Oxford, or 
wherever he might be, with a steadiness* that showed his 
power of detaching himself from immediate surroundings, 
like any experienced litterateur. This piece of work is a 
valuable link in the development of his 'Seven Lamps,' 
anticipating many of his conclusions of later days, and ex- 
hibiting his literary style as very near maturity. It deals 
chiefly with the countries he had visited — the English Lake- 
land, France, Switzerland, and North Italy — but some little 
notice of Spain suggests occasional collaboration with his father. 

The papers terminated with the termination of the 
magazine in January, 1839. They are bright and amusing, 
full of pretty description and shrewd thoughts. They parade 
a good deal of classical learning and travelled experience; 
readers of the magazine took their author for some dilettante 
Don at Oxford. The editor did not wish the illusion to be 
dispelled, so John Ruskin had to choose a nom de plume. 
He called himself ' Kata Phusin ' (' according to nature '), for 
he had begun to read some Aristotle. No phrase woula 
have bettei- expressed his point of view, that of common- 
sense extended by experience, and confirmed by the appeal 
to matters of fact, rather than to any authority, or tradition, 
or committee of taste, or abstract principles. 

While these papers were in process of publication ' Kata 
Phusin ' plunged into his first controversy. Mr. Arthur 
Parsey had published a treatise on 'Perspective Rectified,' 
with a new discovery that was to upset all previous practice. 
He said, in effect, that when you look at a tower the top is 
farther from the eye than the bottom, therefore it must look 
narrower, therefore it should be drawn so. This was ' Parsey's 
Convergence of Perpendiculars,' according to which vertical 

* Though not without labour. His mother, writing February 15, 
1838, announces that the ' chapter on Chimneys ' has been sent to 
Loudon, and expresses her thankfulness that it is ' off his mind.' 


lines should have a vanishing point, even though they are 
assumed to be paiallel to the plane of the picture. 

He had been discussed by one, and ridiculed by another, of 
the contributors to the magazine, when ' Kata Phusin' joined 
in with the remark that the convergence is perceptible only 
when we stand too close to the tower to draw it (when, of 
couree, the verticals ai-e not parallel to the plane of the 
pictui-e), and tlmt we never can di-aw it at all until we are so 
fai- away that the eye is practically equidistant from all parts, 
top and bottom. You see that in reflections too, he said ; 
the vertical lines do converge when your eye ranges round the 
horizon, and from zenith to nadir ; but, as a matter of fact, 
in a picture we include so small a piece of the whole field of 
vision that the convergence is practically reduced to nii. 

A writer signing himself ' Q.' gravely reviews the situation, 
and gives the palm to ' Kata Phusin ' ; yet, he says, the con- 
vergence is there. To which ' Kata Phusin ' answers that of 
coiu-se it is, and all artists know it ; but they know also that 
the limited angle of their picture's scope makes away with 
the difficulty. 

Parsey was not satisfied. ' Kata Phusin ' appeals to obser- 
vation. He says he is looking out of his window at one of 
the most noble buildings in Oxford, and the vertical lines of 
it do fall exactly on the sashes of his window-frame. He 
suggests a new line of defence — that, to see a picture properly, 
the eye must be opposite the point of sight, and the angle of 
vision is the same for the picture placed at the right distance 
as for the actual scene ; so whatever convergence there is in 
the scene, there is also in the picture, when rightly viewed. 
And so the discussion dragged on, ' Kata Phusin ' appealing 
to common-sense and common practice, as against the mathe- 
maticians and the theorists ; and the editor gave him the last 
word to conclude the series. 

None of the disputants were bold enough to remark that 
the great science of perspective is, after all, only an ab- 
straction ; that the ' plane of the picture ' is a mere assumption, 
made for the convenience of geometrical draughtsmen ; and 


that, if you draw what you really see, you would draw the 
top of a tower greater than its base, owing to the structure 
of the lens of the eye, as discussed, with curious experiment 
and improved knowledge of optics, by Dr. P. H. Emerson 
and Mr. Goodall in a recent tract. 

During this controversy, and just before the summer tour 
of 1838 to Scotland, John Ruskin was introduced to Miss 
Charlotte Withers, a young lady who was as fond of music 
as he was of drawing. They discussed their favourite studies 
with eagerness, and, to settle the matter, he wrote a long 
essay on 'The Comparative Advantages of the Studies of 
Music and Painting,' in which he sets painting as a means of 
recreation and of education far above music. He allows to 
music a greater power of stirring emotion, but finds that 
power strongest in proportion as the art is diminished ; so 
that the .iEolian harp is the most touching of all melody, 
and next to it, owing partly to associations, the Alp-horn. 

To the higher forms of music he awards no such power of 
compelling emotion, and finds no intellectual interest in them 
to make up for the loss ; whereas in painting, the higher the 
art, the stronger the appeal both to the senses and the 
intellect. He describes an ideal ' Crucifixion by Vandyke or 
Guido,' insisting on the complexity of emotions and trains of 
thought roused by such a picture. He goes into ecstasies 
over a typical 'Madonna of Raphael,' discusses David's 
' Horatii,' and concludes that even in landscape this double 
office of painting, at once artistic and literary, gives it a 
supremacy to which music has no claim. As a practical 
means of education, he finds little difficulty in showing that, 
' with regard to drawing, the labour and time required is the 
same (as for music), but the advantages gained will,' he thinks, 
'be found considerably superior. These are four; namely, 
(1) the power of appreciating fine pictures ; (2) the agreeable 
and interesting occupation of many hours ; (8) the habit of 
quick observation, and exquisite perception of the beauties 
of Nature ; and, lastly, the power of amusing and gratifying 


Already at nineteen, then, we see hhn as a writer on art, 
not fiiU-fledged, but sturdily taking his own line and making 
up his mind upon the first great questions. As ' Kata Phusin ' 
he was attracting some notice. Towards the end of 1838 a 
question arose as to the best site for the proposed Scott 
memorial at Edinburgh, and a writer in the Architectural 
Magazine quotes 'Kata Phusin' as the authority in such 
matters, saying that it was obvious, after those papers of his, 
that design and site should be simultaneously considered ; on 
which the editor ' begs the favour of " Kata Phusin " to let 
our readers have his opinion on the subject, which we certainly 
think of considerable importance.' 

So he discusses the question of monuments in general, and 
of this one in particular, in a long paper, coming to no very 
decided opinion, but preferring, on the whole, a statue group 
with a colossal Scott on a rough pedestal, to be placed on 
Salisbury Crags, ' where the range gets low and broken 
towards the north at about the height of St. Anthony's 
Chapel.' His paper did not influence the Edinburgh Com- 
mittee, but it was not without effect, as the following extract 

• Bayswatee, 

' Nmiemher 30, 1838. 

'Dear Sir, 

' . . . Your son is certainly the greatest natural genius 
that ever it has been my fortune to become acquainted with, 
and I cannot but feel proud to think that at some future 
period, when both you and I are under the tin:f, it will be 
stated in the literary history of your son's life that the first 
article of his which was published was in LoudorCs Magazine 
of Natural History. 

' Yours very sincerely, 

'J. C. LODDON.' 


*0s ol iraTSes teurSoP' d 8' aliriXos <B5' iy6pevev 
*ASi) Ti t4 itt6/jui Tol, Kal i^t/iepos & AA.<j>vi (pmvii' 
Adadeo r&s aipiyyo^^' ivlxriaai yd,p ielSav. 

Theooeitus, vm. 

OF all the prizes which Oxford could bestow, the Newdi- 
gate used to be the most popular. Its fortunate 
winner was an admitted poet in an age when poetry 
was read, and he appeared in hie glory at Commemoration, 
speaking what the ladies could understand and admire. The 
honour was attainable without skill in Greek particles or 
in logarithms ; and yet it had a real value to an intending 
preacher, for the successful reciter might be felt to have put 
his foot on the pulpit stairs. John Ruskin was definitely 
meant for the Church, and he went to Oxford in the avowed 
hope of getting the Newdigate, if nothing else. His last talk 
with Mr. Dale was chiefly about ways and means to this end ; 
and before he went up he had begun 'The Gipsies' for 
March, 18S7. 

Tlie prize was won that year by Arthur Pem-hyn Stanley, 
afterwards Dean of Westminster. Our candidate and his old 
schoolfellow, Henry Dart, of Exeter College, set to work on 
the next subject, ' The Exile of St. Helena,' and after the 
long vacation read their work to each other, accepting the 
hints and corrections of a friendly rivalry. 

Meantime his old nurse Anne (it is trivial, but a touch 
of nature), being at Oxford in attendance on the ladies, and 


keen, as she always was, for Master John's success, heard from 
the keeper of the Reading-room of criticisms on his published 
verses. She brought the news to his delighted mother. ' He 
was pleased,' she writes, ' but says that he forms his own 
estimate of his poems, and reviews don't alter it ; but " How 
my father will be delighted ! How he will crow !" ' Which 
historiette repeated itself many a time in the family 

In Lent term, 1838, he was hard at work on the new poem. 
He wrote : ' I must give an immense time every day to the 
Newdigate, which I must have, if study will get it. I 
have much to revise. You find many faults, but there are 
hundreds which have escaped your notice, and many lines 
must go out altogether which you and I should wish to stay 
in. The thing must be remodelled, and I must finish it while 
it has a freshness on it, otherwise it will not be written 
well. The old lines are hackneyed in my ears, even as a very 
soft Orleans plum, which your Jewess has wiped and re-wiped 
with the corner of her apron, till its polish is perfect, and its 
temperature elevated.' 

In this March he got through his ' Smalls.' ' Nice thing 
to get over ; quite a joke, as everybody says when they've got 
through with the feathers on. It's a kind of emancipation 
from freshness — a thing unpleasant in an egg, but dignified 
in an Oxonian — very. Lowe very kind ; Kynaston ditto — 
nice fellows — urbane. How they do frighten people ! There 
was one man all but crying with mere fear. Kynaston had to 
coax him like a child. Poor fellow ! he had some reason to 
be afraid ; did his logic shockingly. People always take up 
logic because they fancy it doesn't require a good memory, 
and there is nothing half so productive of pluck ; they never 
know it. 

' I was very cool when I got into it ; found the degree 
of excitement agreeable ; nibbled the end of my pen, and 
grinned at Kynaston over the table as if / had been going to 
pluck him. They always smile when they mean pluck.' 

The Newdigate for 1838, for all his care and pains, was 


won by Dart. He was, at any rate, beaten by a friend, and 
with a poem which his own honourable sympathy and assist- 
ance had helped to perfect. 

Another trifling incident lets us get a glimpse of the family 
life of our young poet. The Queen's coronation in June, 
1838, was a great event to all the world, and Mr. Ruskin was 
anxious for his son to see it. Much correspondence ensued 
between the parents, arranging everything for him, as they 
always did — which of the available tickets should be accepted, 
and whether he could stand the fatigue of the long waiting, 
and so forth. Mrs. Ruskin did not like the notion of her boy 
sitting perched on rickety scaflblding at dizzy altitudes in the 
Abbey. Mr. Ruskin, evidently determined to carry his point, 
went to Westminster, bribed the carpenters, climbed the 
structure, and reported all safe to stand a century, ' though,' 
said he, ' the gold and scarlet of the decorations appeared 
very paltry compared with the Wengem Alp.' But he could 
not find No. 447, and wrote to the Heralds' Office to know if 
it was a place from which a good view could be got. Blue- 
mantle replied that it was a very good place, and Lord 
Brownlow had just taken tickets for his sons close by. Then 
there was the great question of dress. He went to Owen's 
and ordered a white satin waistcoat with gold sprigs, and a 
high dress-coat with bright buttons, and asked his wife to see 
about white gloves at Oxford — a Court white neck-cloth or a 
black satin would do. 

Picture, then, the young Ruskin in those dressy days. A 
portrait was once sent to Brantwood of a dandy in a green 
coat of wonderful cut, supposed to represent him in his youth, 
but suggesting Lord Lytton's ' Pelham ' rather than the 
homespun-suited seer of Coniston. ' Did you ever wear 
a coat like that ? I asked. ' I'm not so sure that I didn't,' 
said he. 

After that, they went to Scotland and the North of England 
for the summer, and more fine sketches were made, some of 
which hang now in his drawing-room, and compare not un- 
favourably with the Prouts beside them. In firmness of line 


iiiid fulness of insight they are masterly, and mark a rapid 
progress, all the more astonishing when it is recollected how 
little time could have been spared for practice. The subjects 
are chiefly architectural — castles and churches and Gothic 
details — and one is not surprised to find him soon concerned 
with the Oxford Society for Promoting the Study of Gothic 
Architecture. ' They were all reverends,' says a letter of the 
time, ' and wanted somebody to rouse them.' 

Science, too, progressed this year. We read of geological 
excursions to Shotover with Lord Carew and Lord Kildare — 
one carrying the hammer and another the umbrella — and 
actual discoveries of saurian remains; and many a merry 
meeting at Dr. Buckland's, in which, at intervals of scientific 
talk, John romped with the youngsters of the family. After 
a while the Dean took the opportunity of a walk through 
Oxford to the Clarendon to warn him not to spend too much 
time on science. It did not pay in the Schools nor in the 
Church, and he had too many irons in the fire. 

Drawing, and science, and the prose essays mentioned in 
the last chapter, and poetry, all these were his by -play. 
Of the poetry, the Newdigate was but a little part. In 
' Friendship's Offering ' this autumn he published ' Remem- 
brance,' one of many poems to Adele ; ' Christ Church,' of 
which Mr. Harrison said that the last stanza was unintel- 
ligible, but he would print it for the people who liked their 
poetry so ; and the ' Scythian Grave.' In reading Herodotus 
he had been struck — as who is not.'' — ^by the romantic pic- 
turesqueness of the incomparable old chronicler. Several 
passages of Greek history — the story of the Athenian 
fugitive from the massacre at iEgina, and the death of 
Aristodemus at Plataea — offered telling subjects for lyrical 
verse; the death of Arion, and the dethronement of 
Psammenitus were treated, later, at length ; but, above all, 
the account of the Scythians, with their wild primitive life 
and manners, fascinated him. Instead of gathering from 
their history such an idyl as Mr. William Morris would have 
made, he fixed upon only the most gruesome points — ^their 


fierce struggle with the Persians, cruelty and slavery, burial- 
rites and skull-goblets — which he set himself to picture with 
ghastly realism. 

In these poems there is a strong tinge of the horrible, 
which, to judge from Mr. Ruskin's expressed opinions on art, 
we should hardly suspect ever to have been his taste. But 
during all his boyhood and youth there were moments of 
weakness when he allowed himself to be carried away by a 
sort of nightmare, the reaction from healthy delight in 
natural beauty. In later life he learned to put limits to art, 
and to refuse the merely horrible as its material — at least, to 
confine it to necessary revelations of actual suffering. As an 
undergraduate, however, writing for effect, he gave free rein 
to the morbid imaginations to which his unhappy affaire de 
cosur and the mental excitement of the period predisposed 
him. Mr. Harrison, his literary Mentor, approved these 
poems, and inserted them in ' Friendship's Offering,' along 
with love-songs and other exercises in verse. One had a great 
success and was freely copied — ^the sincerest flattery — and the 
preface to the annual for 1840 publicly thanked the ' gifted 
writer ' for his ' valuable aid.' 

At the beginning of 1839 he went into new rooms vacated 
by Mr. Meux, and set to work finally on ' Salsette and 
Elephanta.' He ransacked all sources of information, coached 
himself in Eastern scenery and mythology, threw in the 
Aristotelian ingredients of terror and pity, and wound up 
with an appeal to the orthodoxy of the examiners, of whom 
Keble was the chief, by prophesjdng the prompt extermina- 
tion of Brahminism under the teaching of the missionaries. 
And while he wrote, his parents kept it from him day after 
day that his lady-love could be his no longer. 

This third try won the prize. Keble sent for him, to make 
the usual emendations before the great work could be given 
to the world with the seal of Oxford upon it. John Ruskin 
seems to have been somewhat refractory under Keble's hands, 
though he would let his fellow-students, or his father, or 
Mr. Harrison, work their will on his MSS. or proofs ; being 


Rlways ciisier to lead than to drive. Somehow he came to 
teruiB with the Trofessor, and then the Dean, taking an 
unexpected interest, was at pains to see that his printed copy 
was flawless, and to coach him for the recitation of it at the 
great day in the Sheldoniun (June 12, 1839). 

And now that friends and strangers, publishers in London 
and professors in Oxford, concurred in their applause, it 
surely seemed that he had found his vocation, and was well 
on the highroad to fume as a pueU 


THE BROKEN CHAIN. (1840-1841.) 

' But nevermore the same two sister pearls 
Ban down the silken thread to kiss each other 
On her white neck ; so is it with this rhyme,' 


THAT 8th of February, 1840, when John Ruskin came of 
age, it seemed as though all the gifts of fortune had 
been poured into his lap. What his father's wealth 
and influence could do for him had been supplemented by a 
personal charm, which found him friends among the best 
men of the best ranks. What his mother's care had done in 
fortifying his health and forming his character, native energy 
had turned to the best advantage. He had won a reputation 
already much wider and more appreciable, as an artist and 
student of science, and as a writer of prose and verse, than 
undergraduates are entitled to expect; and, for crowning 
mercy, his head was not turned. He was reading extremely 
hard — ' in ' for his degree examination next Easter term. 
His college tutor hoped he would get a First. From that it 
was an easy step to Holy Orders, and with his opportunities 
preferment was certain. 

On his twenty-first birthday, his father, who had sym- 
pathized with his admiration for Turner enough to buy two 
pictures — the ' Richmond Bridge ' and the ' Gosport ' — for 
their Heme Hill drawing-room, now gave him a picture all 
to himself for his new rooms in St- Aldate's, — the ' Winchel- 


sea,' and settled on him a handsome allowance of pocket- 
money. The first use he made of his wealth was to buy another 
Turner. In the Easter vacation he met Mr. Griffith, the 
dealer, at the private view of the old Water-colour Society, 
and hearing that the ' Harlech Castle ' was for sale, he bought 
it there and then, with the characteristic disregard for money 
which has always made the vendors of pictures and books 
and minerals find him extremely pleasant to deal with. But 
as his love-affair had shown his mother how little he had 
taken to heart her chiefest care for him, so this first business 
transaction was a painful awakening to his father, the canny 
Scotch merchant, who had heaped up riches hoping that his 
son would gather them. 

This ' Harlech Castle ' transaction, however, was not 
altogether unlucky. It brought him an introduction to the 
painter, whom he met when he was next in town, at Mr. 
Griffith's house. He knew well enough the popular idea of 
Turner as a morose and niggardly, inexplicable man. As he 
had seen faults in Turner's painting, so he was ready to 
acknowledge the faults in his character. But while the rest 
of the world, with a very few exceptions, dwelt upon the 
faults, Ruskin had penetration to discern the virtues which 
they hid. Few passages in his autobiography are more 
striking than the transcript from his journal of the same 
evening recording his first impression : 

'"I found in him a somewhat eccentric, keen-mannered, 
matter-of-fact, English -minded — gentleman; good-natured 
evidently, bad-tempered evidently, hating humbug of all 
sorts, shrewd, perhaps a little selfish, highly intellectual, the 
powers of the mind not brought out with any delight in 
their manifestation, or intention of display, hut flashing out 
occasionally in a word or a look." Pretty close, that,' he 
adds later, ' and full, to be set down at the first glimpse, and 
set down the same evening.' 

Turner was not a man to make an intimate of, all at once ; 
the acquaintanceship continued, and it ripened into as close 
a confidence as the eccentric painter's habits of life permitted. 


He seems to have been more at home with the father than 
with the son ; but even when the young man took to writing 
books about him, he did not, as Carlyle is reported to have 
done in a parallel case, show his exponent to the door. 

The occasion of John Ruskin's coming to town this time 
was not a pleasant one — ^nothing less than the complete 
breakdown of his health ; we have heard the reasons why in 
the last chapter but one. It is true that he was working very 
hard during this spring ; but hard reading does not of itself 
kill people, only when it is combined with real and prolonged 
mental distress, acting upon a sensitive temperament. The 
case was thought serious ; reading was stopped, and the 
patient was ordered abroad for the winter. 

Prom February to May, and such a change ! Then he had 
seemed so near the top of the hill, and the prospect was 
opening out before him ; now cloud and storm had come 
suddenly down ; the path was lost, the future blotted out. 
Disappointed in love, after four years of hope and effort ; 
disappointed in ambition, after so nearly gathering the fruits 
of his labour ; to be laid aside, to be sent away out of the 
battlefield as a wounded man — perhaps to die. 

For that summer there was no hurry to be gone ; rest was 
more needed than change, at first. Late in September the 
same family-party crossed the sea to Calais. How different 
a voyage for them all from the merry departures of bygone 
Mays ! Which way should they turn ? Not to Paris, for 
there was the cause of all these ills ; so they went straight 
southwards, through Normandy to the Loire, and saw the 
chateaux and churches from Orleans to Tours, famous for 
their Renaissance architecture and for the romance of their 
chivalric history. Amboise especially made a strong im- 
pression upon the languid and unwilling invalid. It stirred 
him up to write, in easy verse, the tale of love and death 
that his own situation too readily suggested. In 'The 
Broken Chain ' he indulged his gloomy fancy, turning, as it 
was sure to do, into a morbid nightmare of mysterious horror, 
not without reminiscence of Coleridge's ' Christabel.' But 


through it all he preserved, so to speak, his dramatic in- 
cognito ; his own disappointment and his own anticipated 
death were the motives of the tale, but treated in such a 
manner as not to betray his secret, nor even to wound the 
feelings of the lady who now was beyond appeal from an 
honourable lover — taking his punishment like a man. 

This poem lasted him, for private writing, all through that 
journey — a fit emblem of the broken life which it records. 
A healthier source of distraction was his drawing, in which 
he had received a fresh impetus from the exhibition of David 
Roberts' sketches in the East. More delicate than Proufs 
work, entering into the detail of architectural form more 
thoroughly, and yet suggesting chiaroscuro with broad washes 
of quiet tone and touches of light, cleverly introduced — ' that 
marvellous pop of light across the foreground,' Harding said 
of the picture of the Great Pyramid — ^these drawings were a 
mean between the limited manner of Prout and the inimitable 
fulness of Turner. Ruskin took up the fine pencil and the 
broad brush, and, with that blessed habit of industry which 
has helped so many a one through times of trial, made sketch 
after sketch on the half-imperial board, finished just so far as 
his strength and time allowed, as they passed from the Loire 
to the mountains of Auvergne, and to the valley of the 
Rhone, and thence slowly round the Riviera to Pisa and 
Florence and Rome. 

He was not in a mood to sympathize readily with the 
enthusiasms of other people. They expected him to be 
delighted with the scenery, the buildings, the picture-galleries 
of Italy, and to forget himself in admiration. He did admire 
Michelangelo ; and he was interested in the back-streets and 
slums of the cities. Something piquant was needed to arouse 
him ; the mild ecstasies of common connoisseurship hardly 
appeal to a young man between life and death. He met the 
friends to whom he had brought introductions — Mr. Joseph 
Severn, who had been Keats' companion, and was afterwards 
to be the genial Consul at Rome, and the two Messrs. Rich- 
mond, then studying art in the regular professional way ; one 


of them to become a celebrated portrait -painter, and the 
father of men of maik ; the present R.A., the architect and a 
Canon of Carlisle. But his views on art were not theirs ; he 
was already too independent and outspoken in praise of his 
own heroes, and too sick in mind and body to be patient and 
to learn. 

They had not been a month in Rome before he took the 
fever. As soon as he was recovered, they went still farther 
South, and loitered for a couple of months in the neighbour- 
hood of Naples, visiting the various scenes of interest — 
Son-ento, Amalfi, Salerno. The adventures of this journey 
are partly told in letters to Mr. Dale, printed in the volume 
above mentioned, and in the ' Letters addressed to a College 
Friend' — books which, though not published by himself as 
part of his works, are interesting as contributions to his 
biography. In them the reader may trace, more fully than 
we can here detail, his occupations and travels, and find many 
a quaint remark and admirable bit of description, anticipating 
and explaining the wealth of language so soon to be displayed 
in his writings on art. 

On the way to Naples he had noted and sketched the winter 
scene at La Riccia, which he afterwards used for a glowing 
passage in ' Modern Painters ' ; and he had ventured into a 
village of brigands to draw such a castle as he had once 
imagined in his ' Leoni.' From Naples he wrote an account 
of a landslip near Giagnano, and sent it home to the 
Ashmolean Society. He seemed better ; they turned home- 
wards, when suddenly he was seized with all the old symptoms 
worse than ever. After another month at Rome, they 
travelled slowly northwards from town to town ; spent ten 
days of May at Venice, and passed through Milan and Turin, 
and over the Mont Cenis to Geneva. 

At last he was among the mountains again — the Alps that 
he loved. It was not only that the air of the Alps braced 
him, but the spirit of mountain -worship stirred him as 
nothing else could. At last he seemed himself, after more 
than a year of intense depression ; and he records that one 


day, in church at Geneva, he resolved to do something, to he 
something useful. That he could make such a resolve was a 
sign of returning health ; but if, as I find, he had just been 
reading Carlyle's lately-published lectures on ' Heroes,' though 
he did not accept Carlyle's conclusions nor admire his style, 
might he not, in spite of his criticism, have been spurred the 
more into energy by that enthusiastic gospel of action ? 

They travelled home by Basle and Laon ; but London in 
August, and the premature attempt to be energetic, brought 
on a recurrence of the symptoms of consumption, as it was 
called. He wished to try the mountain-cure again, and set 
out with his friend Richard Fall for a tour in Wales. But 
his father recalled him to Leamington to try iron and dieting 
under Dr. Jephson, who, if he was called a quack, was a 
sensible one, and successful in subduing for several years to 
come the more serious phases of the disease. The patient 
was not cured ; he suffered from time to time from his chest, 
and still more from a weakness of the spine, which during all 
the period of his early manhood gave him trouble, and finished 
by bending his tall and lithe figure into something that, 
were it not for his face, would be deformity. In 1847 he was 
again at Leamington under Jephson, in consequence of a 
relapse into the consumptive symptoms, after which we hear 
no more of it. He outgrew the tendency, as so many do. 
But nevertheless the alarm had been justifiable, and the 
malady had left traces which, in one way and another, 
haunted him ever after ; for one of the worst effects of illness 
is to be marked down as an invalid. 

At Leamington, then, in September, 1841, he was finding 
a new life imder the doctor's dieting, and new aims in life, 
which were eventually to resolder for awhile the broken 
chain. Among the Scotch friends of the Ruskins there was a 
family at Perth whose daughter came to visit at Heme Hill, 
more lovely and more lively than his Spanish Princess had 
been. The story goes that she challenged the melancholy 
John, engrossed in his drawing and geology, to write a fairy- 
tale, aa the least likely task for him to fulfil. Upon which 


he produced, at a couple of sittings, ' The King of the Golden 
River,' a pretty medley of Grimm's grotesque and Dickens 
kindliness and the true Ruskinian ecstasy of the Alps. 

He had come through the valley of the shadow, that 
terrible experience which so few survive; fewer still emerge 
from it without loss of all that makes their life worth the 
living. But though for awhile he was ' hard bested,' he fought 
a good fight, and kept his faith in God, and in Nature, and 
in the human heart. 


THE GRADUATE OP OXFORD. (1841, 1842.) 

• Enough of Science and of Art ; 
Close up those barren leaves ; 
Come forth, and bring with you a heart 
That watches and receives.' 


READY for work again, and in reasonable health of 
mind and body, John Ruskin sat down in his little 
study at Heme Hill in November, 1841, with his 
private tutor, Osborne Grordon. There was eighteen months' 
leeway to make up, and the dates of ancient history, the 
details of schematized Aristotelianism, soon slip out of mind 
when one is sketching in Italy. But he was more serious now 
about his work, and aware of his deficiencies. To be useful 
in the world, is it not necessary first to understand all possible 
Greek constructions ? So said the voice of Oxford ; but our 
undergraduate was saved, both now and afterwards, from this 
vain ambition. ' I think it would hardly be worth your 
while,' said Gordon, with Delphic double-entendre. 

He could not now go in for honours, for the lost year had 
superannuated him. So in April he went up for a pass. In 
those times, when a pass-man showed unusual powers, they 
could give him an honorary class : not a high class, because 
the range of the examination was less than in the honour- 
school. This candidate wrote a poor Latin prose, it seems ; 
but his divinity, philosophy, and mathematics were so good 
that they gave him the best they could — an honorai'y double 


fourth — upon which he took his B.A. degree, and could 
describe himself as ' A Graduate of Oxford.' 

It is noteworthy that our greatest master of English wrote 
a poor Latin prose. So much the worse, many will say, for 
Latin prose. The divinity, by which is meant Bible-know- 
ledge, was thoroughly learnt from his mother's early lessons. 
Not long after, he was contemptuously amused at a Scotch 
reviewer, who did not know what a * chrysoprase ' was. As 
the word occurs in the Revelation, he assumed- that everyone 
ought to know it, whether mineralogist or not. And his 
works teem with Biblical quotations — see their indexes for the 
catalogue. The mathematics were not elaborate in the old 
Oxford pass-school ; geometry and the elements of trigo- 
nometry and conies, thoroughly got by heart, and frequently 
alluded to in early works, sum up his studies. The philosophy 
meant the usual logic from Aldrich, with Bacon and Locke, 
Aristotle and Plato, analyzed into rather thin abstract. But 
Ruskin, with his thoroughness in all matters of general 
interest, took in the teaching of his books, and inwardly 
digested it. ' Modem Painters,' even in its literary style, is 
imbued with Locke; Aristotle is his leader and antagonist 
alternately throughout the earlier period of art criticism, and 
Plato his guide and philosopher ever after. Some Scotch 
philosophy he had read; Thomas Brown, his parents' old 
friend ; Dugald Stewart and the rest of the school ; and 
their teaching comes out in the scheme of thought that 
underlies his artistic theories. 

It is worth while dwelling upon his acquirements at this 
moment — ^taking stock, as it were — because he was on the 
brink of his first great work. ' Modern Painters ' has been 
usually looked upon as the sudden outburst of a genius; 
young, but mature; complex, but inexplicable; to be 
accepted as a gospel or to be decried as the raving of a 
heretic. But we cannot trace the author's life without seeing 
that the book is only one episode in an interesting develop- 
ment. We have been gradually led up to it, and as gradually 
we shall be led away from it ; and the better we understand 


the circumstances of its production, the better we shall be 
able to appreciate it, to weigh it, and to keep what is perma- 
nent in it. 

All this religious and useful learning was very lightly 
carried by oui- Oxford graduate. He could now take no high 
academic position, and the continued weakness of his health 
kept him from taking steps to enter the Church ; and his real 
interest in art was not crowded out even by the last studies 
for his examination. While he was working with Gordon, in 
the autumn of 1841, he was also taking lessons from J. D. 
Harding ; and the famous study of ivy, his first naturalistic 
sketching, to which we must revert, — this must have been 
done a week or two before going up for his examination. 

The lessons from Harding were a useful counter-stroke to 
the excessive and exaggerated Tumerism in which he had 
been indulging through his illness. The drawings of Amboise, 
the coast of Genoa, and the Glacier des Bois, though pub- 
lished later, were made before he had exchanged fancy for 
fact ; and they bear, on the face of them, the obvious marks 
of an unhealthy state of mind. Harding, whose robust 
common-sense and breezy mannerism endeared him to the 
British amateur of his generation, was just the man to 
correct any morbid tendency. He had religious views in 
sympathy with his pupil, and he soon inoculated Ruskin 
with his contempt for the minor Dutch school — those 
bituminous landscapes, so unlike the sparkling freshness that 
Harding's own water-colour illustrated, and those vulgar 
tavern scenes, painted, he declared, by sots who disgraced 
art alike in their works and in their lives. 

Until this epoch, John Ruskin had found much that 
interested him in the Dutch and Flemish painters of the 
seventeenth century. He had classed them all together as 
the school of which Rubens, Vandyck, and Rembrandt were 
the chief masters, and those as names to rank with Raphael 
and Michelangelo and Velasquez. He was a humorist, not 
without boyish delight in a good Sam-Wellerism, and so 
could be amused with the ' drolls,' until Harding appealed to 


his religion and morality against them. He was a chiar- 
oscurist, and not naturally offended by their violent light and 
shade, until George Richmond showed him the more excel- 
lent way in colour, the glow of Venice, first hinting it at 
Rome in 1840, and then proving it in London in the spring 
of 1842, from Samuel Rogers' treasui-es, of which the chief 
(now in the National Gallery) was the ' Christ appearing to 
the Magdalen.' 

Much as the author of ' Modern Painters ' owed to these 
friends and teachers, and to the advantages of his varied 
training, he would never have written his great work without 
a farther inspiration. Harding's especial forte was his 
method of drawing trees. He looked at Nature with an eye 
which, for his period, was singularly fresh and unprejudiced ; 
he had a strong feeling for truth of structure as well as 
for picturesque effect, and he taught his pupils to observe 
as well as to draw. But in his own practice he rested too 
much on having observed ; formed a style, and copied himself 
if he did not copy the old masters. Hence he held to rules 
of composition and conscious graces of arrangement ; and 
while he taught naturalism in study, he followed it up with 
teaching artifice in practice. 

Turner, who was not a drawing-master, lay under no 
necessity to formulate his principles and stick to them. On 
the contrary, his style developed like a kaleidoscope, ever 
changing into something more rich and strange. He had 
been in Switzerland and on the Rhine in 1841, ' painting his 
impressions,' making water-colour notes from memory of 
effects that had struck him. From one of these, ' Spliigen,' 
he had made a finished picture, and now wished to get 
commissions for more of the same class. Ruskin was greatly 
interested in this series, because they were not landscapes of 
the ordinary type, scenes from Nature squeezed into the 
mould of recognised artistic composition, nor, on the other 
hand, mere photographic transcripts ; but dreams, as it were, 
of the mountains and sunsets, in which Turner's wealth of 
detail was suggested, and his intuitive knowledge of form 


expressed, together with the unity which comes of the faithful 
record of a single impression. Nothing had been done like 
them before, in landscape. They showed that an artistic 
result might be obtained without the use of the ordinary 
tricks and professional rules ; that there was a sort of com- 
position possible, of which the usual hackneyed arrangements 
were merely frigid and vapid imitations ; and that this higher 
kind of art was only to be learnt by long watching of Nature 
and sincere rendering of her motives, her supreme moments, 
the spirit of her scenes. 

The lesson was soon enforced upon his mind by example. 
One day, while taking his student's constitutional, he noticed 
a tree-stem with ivy upon it, which seemed not ungraceful, 
and invited a sketch. As he drew he fell into the spirit of 
its natiu:al arrangement, and soon perceived how much finer 
it was as a piece of design than any conventional rearrange- 
ment would be. Harding had tried to show him how to 
generalize foliage; but in this example he saw that not 
generalization was needed to get its beauty, but truth. If 
he could express his sense of the charm of the natural 
arrangement, what use in substituting an artificial com- 
position ? 

In that discovery lay the germ of his whole theory of art, 
the gist of his mission. Understanding the importance of it, 
we shall imderstand his subsequent writing, the grounds of 
his criticism and the text of his art-teaching. If it can be 
summed in a word, the word is ' sincerity.' Be sincere with 
Nature, and take her as she is ; neither casually glancing at 
her ' effects ' nor dully labouring at her parts, with the in- 
tention of improving and blending them into something 
better, but taking her all in all. On the other hand, be 
sincere with yourself, knowing what you truly admire, and 
painting that, refusing the hypocrisy of any ' grand style ' or 
' high art,' just as much as you refuse to pander to vulgar 
tastes. And then vital art is produced, and, if the workman 
be a man of great powers, great art. 

All this followed from the ivy sketch on Tulse Hill in May, 


1842. It did not follow all at once; repeated experiment 
was needed to give the grounds from which the induction 
was drawn. At Fontainebleau soon after, under much the 
same circumstances, a study of an aspen -tree, idly begun, 
but carried out with interest and patience, confirmed the 
principle. At Geneva, once more in the church where he 
had formed such resolutions the year before, the desire came 
over him with renewed force ; now not only to be definitely 
employed, but to be employed in the service of a definite 
mission, which, be it observed, was, in art, exactly what 
Carlyle had preached in every other sphere of life in that book 
of ' Heroes :' the gospel of sincerity ; the reference of greatness 
in any form to honesty of purpose as the underlying motive 
of a perspicuous intellect and a resolute will — ^these last being 
necessary conditions of success, but the sincerity being the 
chief thing needful. 

The design took shape. At Chamouni he studied plants 
and rocks and clouds, not as an artist to make pictures out of 
them, nor as a scientist to class them and analyze them; but to 
learn their aspects and enter into the spirit of their growth and 
structure. And though on his way home through Switzerland 
and down the Rhine he made a few drawings in his old style 
for admiring friends, they were the last of the kind that he 
attempted. Thenceforward his path was marked out; he 
had found a new vocation. He was not to be a poet, — that 
was too definitely bound up with the past which he wanted 
to forget, and with conventionalities which he wished to 
shake off; not to be an artist, struggling with the rest to 
please a public which he felt himself called upon to teach ; 
not a man of science, for his botany and geology were to be 
the means, and not the ends, of his teaching ; but the mission 
was laid upon him to tell the world that Art, no less than 
other spheres of life, had its Heroes ; that the mainspring of 
their energy was Sincerity, and the burden of their utterance, 


THE ART CRITIC. (1842-1800.) 

' The almost unparalleled example of a raan winning for himself the 
nnanimous plaudits of his generation .and time, and then casting them 
away like dnat, that he may build his monument — aire perermius.' — 
Ifuskin on Turner, 1844. 


'TURNER AND THE ANCIENTS.' (1842-1844.) 

Aeistotlb : Hth., i. 4. 

THE neighbour, or the Oxonian friend, who climbed the 
steps of the Heme Hill house and called upon Mrs. 
Ruskin, in the autumn and winter of 1842, would 
leam that Mr. John was hard at work in his own study over- 
head. Those were its windows, on the second-floor, looking 
out upon the front -garden ; the big dormer-window above 
was his bedroom, from which he had his grand view of low- 
land, and far horizon, and unconfined sky, comparatively clear 
of London smoke. In the study itself, screened from the 
road by russet foliage and thick evergreens, great things were 
going on. But Mr. John could be interrupted, would come 
running lightly downstairs, with both hands out to greet the 
visitor ; would show the pictures, eagerly demonstrating the 
beauties of the last new Turners, ' Ehrenbreitstein ' and 
' Lucerne,'' just acquired, and anticipating the sunset glories 
and mountain gloom of the ' Goldau ^ and ' Dazio Grande,' 
which the great artist was ' realizing ' for him from sketches 
he had chosen at Queen Anne Street. He was very busy — 
but never too busy to see his friends — writing a book. 

And, the visitor gone, he woidd run up to his room and his 
writing, sure of the thread of his ideas and the flow of his 
language, with none of that misery and despair of soul which 
an inten'uption brings to many another author. In the 


afternoon his careful mother would turn him out for a tramp 
round the Norwood lanes ; he might look in at the Poussins 
and Claudes of the Dulwich Gallery, or, for a longer excursion, 
go over to Mr. Windus, and his roomful of Turner drawings, 
or sit to Mr. George Richmond for the portrait at full length 
with desk and portfolio, and Mont Blanc in the background. 
Dinner over, another hour or two's writing, and early to bed, 
after finishing his chapter with a flourish of eloquence, to be 
read next morning at breakfast to father and mother and 
Mary. The vivid descriptions of scenes yet fi'esh in their 
memory, or of pictures they treasured, the ' thoughts ' as they 
used to be called, allusions to sincere beliefs and cherished 
hopes, never failed to win the praise that pleased the young 
writer most, in happy tears of unrestrained emotion. These 
old-fashioned folk had not learnt the trick of nil admirari. 
Quite honestly they would say, with the German musician, 
' When I hear good music, then must I always weep.' 

We can look into the little study, and see what this writing 
was that went on so busily and steadily. It was the long- 
meditated defence of Turner, provoked by Blackwood's 
Magazine six years before, encouraged by Carlyle's ' Heroes,' 
and necessitated by the silence, on this topic, of the more 
enlightened leaders of thought in an age of cut -and -dry 
connoisseurship and critical cant. True, there were teachers, 
like Prout and Harding, right, but narrow in range. The 
moment any author ventured upon the subject of ' high art,' 
his principles of beauty and theories of sublimity stood in 
the way of candour and common-sense. 

But 'Kata Phusin' had been to college, and read his 
' Ethics,' and he had marked such a passage as this : ' We 
must not forget the difference between reasoning Jrom 
principles and reasoning to principles. Plato was quite right 
in pointing this out, and in saying that it is as important in 
philosophy as in running races to know where your starting- 
point is to be. Now you and I,' quoth Aristotle, ' can reason 
only upon what we know — not on what we ought to know, or 
might be supposed to know, but upon what each of us has 


ascertained to be matter of fact. Fact, then— the particular 
fact — is our starting-point. Take care of the facts,' he says, 
to put him into plain English, ' and the principles will take 
care of themselves.' Which Aristotle did, and in the sphere 
of Ethics found that the observed facts of conscience and 
conduct were not truly explained by the old moral philosophy 
of the Sophists and the Academy. Just in the same way our 
young Aristotelian, by beginning with the observed facts of 
nature — truths, he called them — and the practice (not the 
precept) of great artists, superseded the eighteenth-century 
Academic ai-t-theories, and created a perfectly new school of 
criticism, which, however erring or incomplete in details or 
misapplied in corollaries, did for English art what Aristotle 
did for Greek Ethics. He brought the whole subject to the 
bar of common-sense and common understanding. He took 
it out of the hands of adepts and initiated jargoners, and 
made it public property, the right and the responsibility 
of all. 

Though John Ruskin had the honour of doing this work 
in the world of art, others were doing similar work in other 
spheres. Most of our soundest thinkers of the nineteenth 
centmy were brought up on the ' Ethics,' and learnt to take 
fact for their starting-point. The physical -science school, 
whether classically trained or not, was working in the same 
cause — the substitution of observation and experiment for 
generalization and a priori theories. And it is curious, as 
showing how accurately the young Ruskin was representative 
of the spirit of his age, that at the very moment when he 
was propounding his revolutionary art -philosophy, John 
Stuart Mill was writing that ' Logic ' which was to convert 
the old hocus-pocus of Scholasticism into the method of 
modem scientific inquiry. 

In his later works Mr. Ruskin appeared as somewhat of a 
reactionary — laudator temporis acti — opponent of modernism ; 
but, like many men of note, he began as a Progressist, the 
preacher of hope, the darter of new lights, the destroyer of 
pythons, of tyrannic superstitions quibus lumen adempttim. 


His youth was an epoch of intellectual reform, one of many 
such epochs, when the house of life was being set in order for 
another period's work and wage-earning — no new thing, but 

There had been such a clearance begun 170 years before 
by John Locke, when he took fact for his starting-point 
in a revolt from the tyranny of philosophical dogma. And 
it was not at all strange that our young author should model 
his manifesto upon so renowned a precedent ; that his style 
in the opening chapters of his work, his arrangement in 
divisions and subdivisions, even his marginal summaries, 
should recall the ' Essay on the Human Understanding,' from 
which the scheme and system of his thought were derived. 

He began, like Locke, by showing that public opinion and 
the dicta of tradition were no valid authorities. If painting 
be an expression of the human mind — as, in another way, 
language is — and if the contents of the mind are Ideas, then, 
he said, the best painting is that which contains the greatest 
number of the greatest Ideas. Locke had shown that all 
Ideas are derived from Sensation, from Reflection, and 
from the combination of both ; the Ideas which painting can 
express must be similarly derived. And since the mind which 
we share with the Deity is nobler than the senses which we 
share with beasts, it was logical to conclude that, in propor- 
tion as the Ideas expressed in painting are intellectual and 
moral, the art that expresses them is fuller and higher. 
Ideas of Imitation, involving only the illusion of the senses, 
are the lowest of all ; those of Power, artistic execution, are a 
step higher, but still so much in the realm of Sensation as to 
be hardly matter of argument ; and therefore the Ideas of 
Truth, of Beauty, and of Relation (or the imaginative present- 
ment of poetical thought in the language of painting), are the 
three chief topics of his inquiry. 

For the present he will discuss Truth, the more readily as it 
was the general complaint that Turner was untrue to Nature. 
What is Truth ? 

Aristotle has stated plainly enough, ' Particular fact is our 


starting-point.' But, unfortunately, Sir Joshua Reynolds, our 
old friend Northcote's master, the greatest English artist and 
art-theorist, had taught a modified Academic doctrine ol 
Ideas, not Lockeian, but Platonic ; and our young philosopher 
lost his way for the time in trying to reconcile one favourite 
authority with another. But he was able to show that old- 
fashioned generalization was not Truth, and, quitting the 
formal doctrinaire tone of his opening chapters, plunged 
eagerly into the illustration of his theme, namely, that Truth 
in landscape art was the expression of natural law by exhibit- 
ing such facts as tell the story of the scene. For example, 
Canaletto, with all his wonderful mechanism, when he painted 
Venice, lost the fulness of detail and glory of light and colour ; 
Prout secured only the picturesqueness with his ' five strokes 
of a reed pen ' ; Stanfield only the detail ; while Turner gave 
the full character of the place in its detail, colour, light, 
mystery, and poetical effect. 

In the analysis of natural fact, as shown in painting, there 
was fill! scope for the power of descriptive writing which, as 
we have seen, was John Ruskin's peculiar gift and study. 
When he came to compare Gaspar Poussin's picture of La 
Riccia with the real scene as he had witnessed it, he had the 
description ready to hand in his journal of two years before ; 
and a careful drawing on the spot, not indeed realizing the 
colour, which he could not then attempt, but recording ' the 
noonday sun slanting down the rocky slopes of La Riccia, and 
its masses of entangled and tall foliage,' with their autumnal 
tints suggested so far as his water-colour wash on gray paper 

A still happier adaptation of accumulated material was his 
word-picture of a night on the Rigi, with all its wonderful 
successive effects of gathering thunder, sunset in tempest, 
serene starlight, and the magic glories of Alpine sunrise, taken 
from the true story of his visit there, eight years before, as 
described in a rhyming letter to Richard Fall, and ingeniously 
embroidered with a running commentary on a series of draw- 
ings by Turner. 


Then, passing to the forms of mountains, he warmed with 
his old enthusiasm. Years of study and travel had taught 
him to combine scientific geology with the mystery and 
poetry of the Alps. Byron and Shelley had touched the 
poetry of them ; a crowd of earnest investigators were woi'k- 
ing at geology ; but none beside this youth of twenty-three 
had made them the topic of literature so lofty in aim and so 
masterly in execution. 

And as the year ran out, he was ending his work, happy in 
the applause of his little domestic circle, and conscious that 
he was preaching the crusade of Sincerity, the cause of justice 
for the greati^st landscape artist of any age, and justice, at 
the hands of a heedless public, for the glorious works of the 
supreme Artist of the universe. Let our young painters, he 
concluded, go humbly to Nature, ' rejecting nothing, selecting 
nothing, and scorning nothing,' in spite of Academic theorists, 
and in time we should have a school of landscape worthy of 
the inspiration they would find. 

There was his book ; the title of it, ' Turner and the 
Ancients.' Before publishing, to get more experienced 
criticism than that of the breakfast-table, he submitted it to 
his friend, Mr. W. H. Harrison. The title, it seemed, was 
not explicit enough, and after debate they substituted 
' Modern Painters : their Superiority in the Art of Landscape 
Painting to all the Ancient Masters proved by Examples of 
the True, the Beautiful, and the Intellectual, from the Works 
of Modern Artists, especially from those of J. M. W. Turner, 
Esq., R.A.' And as the severe tone of many remarks was 
felt to be hardly supported by the age and standing of so 
young an author, he was content to sign himself ' A Graduate 
of Oxford.' 

It is odd how easily men of note become the heroes of 
myths. The too common discouragement of young geniuses, 
the old story of the rejected manuscript, disdainful publishers, 
and hope defended, experienced by so many as to be typical 
of ihe embryo stage of a literary reputation, all this has been 
tacked on to Mr. Ruskin's supposed first start. Anecdotes 


are told of his father hawking the MS. from office to office 
until it found acceptance with Messrs. Smith and Elder. 
Absurd, since young Ruskin had been doing business for seven 
years past with that firm ; he was perfectly well known to 
them as one of the most ' rising ' youths of the time, and 
their own literary editor, Mr. Harrison, was his private 
Mentor, who revised his proofs and inserted the punctuation, 
which he usually indicated only by dashes. And yet there is 
the half-truth in it that his business dealings with the pub- 
lishers were generally conducted through his father, who 
made very fair terms for him, as things went then. 

In May, 1843, ' Modern Painters,' vol. i., was published, 
and it was soon the talk of the art-world. It was meant 
to be audacious, and naturally created a storm. The free 
criticisms of public favourites made an impression, not 
because they were put into strong language, for the tone of 
the press was stronger then than it is now, as a whole, but 
because they were backed up by illustration and argument. 
It was evident that the author knew something of his subject, 
even if he were all wrong in his conclusions. He could not 
be neglected, though he might be protested against, decried, 
controverted. Artists especially, who do not usually see their 
works as others see them, and are not accustomed to think of 
themselves and their school as mere dots and spangles in the 
perspective of history, could not be entirely content to be 
classed as Turner's satellites. Even the gentle Prout was 
indignant, not so much at the ' five strokes of a reed pen,' 
but at the want of reverence with which his masters and 
friends were treated. Harding thought that his teaching 
ought to have been more fully acknowledged. Turner was 
embarrassed at the greatness thrust upon him. And while 
the book contained something that promised to suit every 
kind of reader, everyone found something to shock him. 
Critics were scandalized at the depreciation of Claude ; the 
religious were outraged at the comparison of Turner, in a 
passage omitted from later editions, to the Angel of the Sun, 
in the Apocalypsa 


But the descriptive passages were such as had never 
appeared before in prose ; and the obvious usefulness of the 
analyses of natural form and effect made many an artist read 
on, while he shook his head. Some readily owned their 
obligation to the new teacher. Holland, for one, wrote to 
Hai-rison that he meant to paint the better for the snubbing 
he had got. Of professed connoisseurs, such as reviewed the 
book adversely in Blackwood and the AthencEum, not one 
undertook to refute it seriously. They merely attacked a 
detail here and there, which the author discussed in two or 
three replies, with a patience that showed how confident he 
was in his position. 

He had the good word of some of the best judges of 
literature. 'Modern Painters' lay on Rogers' table; and 
Tennyson, who a few years before had beaten young Ruskin 
out of the field of poetry, v/as so taken with it that he wrote 
to his publisher to borrow it for him, ' as he longed very much 
to see it,' but could not afford to buy it. Sir Henry Taylor 
wrote to Mr. Aubrey de Vere, the poet, begging him to read 
' a book which seems to me to be far more deeply founded in 
its criticism of art than any other that I have met with - . . 
written with great power and eloquence, and a spirit of the 
most diligent investigation. ... I am told that the author's 
name is Ruskin, and that he was considered at college as an 
odd sort of man who would never do anything.'* When the 
secret of the ' Oxford Graduate ' leaked out, as it did very 
soon, through the proud father, Mr. John was lionized. 
During the winter of 1843 he met celebrities at fashionable 
dinner-tables ; and now that his parents were established in 
their grander house on Denmark Hill, they could duly return 
the hospitalities of the great world. 

It was one very satisfactory result of the success that the 
father was more or less converted to Tumerism, and lined his 
walls with Turner drawings, which became the great attraction 
of the house, far outshining its seven acres of garden and 
orchard and shrubbery, and the ampler air of cultured ease. 

* From a letter kindly communicated by Mr. de Vere. 


For a gift to his sou he bought 'The Slave Ship,' one of 
THirner's latest and most disputed works ; and he was all 
eagei-ness to see the next volume in preparation. 

It was intended to carry on the discussion of ' Truth,' with 
further illustrations of mountain-form, trees and skies. And 
so in May, 1844, they all went away again, that the artist- 
author might prepare drawings for his plates. He was going 
to begin with the geology and botany of Chamouni, and work 
through the Alps, eastward. 

At Chamouni they had the good fortune to meet with 
Joseph Coutet, a superannuated guide, whom they engaged 
to accompany the eager but inexperienced mountaineer. 
Coutet was one of those men of natural ability and kindli- 
ness whose friendship is worth more than much intercourse 
with worldly celebrities, and for many years afterwards Mr. 
Ruskin had the advantage of his care — of something more 
than mere attendance. At any rate, under such guidance, he 
could climb where he pleased, free from the feeling that people 
at home were anxious about him. 

He was not unadventurous in his scramblings, but with no 
ambition to get to the top of everything. He wanted to 
observe the aspects of mountain-form; and his careful out- 
lines, slightly coloured, as his manner then was, and never 
aiming at picturesque treatment, record the structure of the 
rocks and the state of the snow with more than photographic 
accuracy. A photograph often confuses the eye with un- 
necessary detail ; these drawings seized the leading lines, the 
important features, the interesting points. For example, in 
his Matterhom (a drawing of 1849), as Mr. Whymper remarks 
in ' Scrambles among the Alps,' there are particulars noted 
which the mere sketcher neglects, but the climber finds out, 
on closer intercourse, to be the essential facts of the moimtain's 
anatomy. All this is not picture-making, but it is a very 
valuable contribution and preliminary to criticism. 

From Chamouni this year they went to Simplon, and met 
J. D. Forbes, the geologist, whose ' viscous theory ' of glaciers 
Mr. Ruskin adopted and defended with warmth later on, and 


to the Beir Alp, long before it had been made a place of 
popular resort by Professor Tyndall's notice. The ' Panotama 
of the Simplon from the Bell' Alp ' is still to be found in the 
St. George's (Ruskin) Museum at Sheffield, as a record of the 
draughtsmanship in this period. Thence to Zermatt with 
Osborne Gordon ; Zermatt, too, unknown to the fashionable 
tourist, and innocent of hotel luxuries. It is cui-ious that, at 
first sight, he did not care for the Matterhorn. It was entirely 
unlike his ideal of mountains. It was not at all like Cumber- 
land. But in a very few years he had come to love the Alps 
for their own sake, and we find him regretting at Ambleside 
the colour and light of Switzerland, the mountain glory 
which our humbler scenery cannot match. And yet he has 
come back to it for a home, not ill-content. 

After another visit to Chamouni, he crossed Prance to 
Paris, where something awaited him that upset all his plans, 
and turned his energies into an unexpected channel. 


CHRISTIAN ART. (1845-1847.) 

' They might chirp and chatter, come and go 

For pleasure or profit, her men alive — 

My business was hardly with them, I trow, 

But with empty cells of the human hive ; 

With the chapter-room, the cloister-porch, 

The church's apsis, aisle or nave. 
Its crypt, one fingers along with a torch, 
Its face, set full for the sun to shave.' 

Old Pictures in Florence. 

AT Paris, on the way home in 1844, Mr. Ruskin had 
spent some days in studying Titian and Bellini and 
Perugino. They were not new to him ; but now that 
he was an art-critic, it behoved him to improve his acquaint- 
ance with the old masters. ' To admire the works of Pietro 
Perugino' was one thing; but to understand them was 
another, a thing which was hardly attempted by ' the Land- 
scape Artists of England ' to whom the author of ' Modern 
Painters' had so far dedicated his services. He had been 
extolling modernism, and depreciating ' the Ancients ' because 
they could not draw rocks and clouds and trees; and he 
was fresh from his scientific sketching in the happy hunting- 
ground of the modem world. A few days in the Louvre 
made him the devotee of ancient art, and taught him to lay 
aside his geology for history. 

In one way the development was easy. The patient 
attempt to copy mountain-form had made him sensitive to 


harmony of line ; and in the great composers of Florence and 
Venice he found a quality of abstract design which tallied 
with his experience of what was beautiful in Nature. 
Aiguilles and glaciers, drawn as he drew them, and the 
figure-subjects of severe Italian draughtsmen, are beautiful 
by the same laws of composition, however different the 
associations they suggest. With the general public, and 
with many artists, associations easily outweigh abstractions ; 
but this was an analytic mind, bent, then, upon the problems 
of form, and ready to acknowledge them no less in Madonnas 
than in mountains. 

But he had been learning these laws of beauty from Turner 
and from the Alps ; how did the ancients come by them ? They 
could be found only in a thorough study of their lives and 
times, to begin with, to which he devoted his winter, with 
Rio and Lord Lindsay and Mrs. Jameson for his authori- 
ties. He found that his foes, Gaspar Poussin and Canaletto, 
and the Dutch landscapists, were not the real old masters ; 
that there had been a great age of art before the era of 
Vandyck and Rubens, — even before Michelangelo and 
Raphael ; and that, towards setting up as a critic of the 
present, he must understand the past out of which it had 
grown. So he determined to go to Florence and Venice, and 
to study the religious painters at first hand. 

Mountain-study and Turner were not to be dropped. For 
example, to explain the obvious and notorious licences which 
Turner took with topography, it was necessary to see in what 
these licences consisted. Of the later Swiss dryings, one 
of the wildest and most impressive was the ' St. Gothard ' ; 
Ruskin wanted to find Turner's point of view, and to see 
what alterations he had made. He told Tmrner so, and the 
artist, who knew that his picture had been realized from a 
very slight sketch, was naturally rather opposed to this test, 
as being, from his point of view, merely a waste of time and 
trouble. He tried to persuade the Ruskins that the Swiss 
Sonderbund war, then going on, made travelling unsafe, and 
so forth. But in vain. Mr. John was allowed to go, for the 


first time, alone, without his parents, taking only a servant, 
and meeting the trustworthy Coutet at Geneva. 

With seven months at his own disposal, he did a vast 
amount of work, especially in drawing. The studies of 
mountain-form and Italian design, in the year before, had 
given him a greater interest in the ' Liber Studiorum,' 
Turner''s eai'ly book of Essays in Composition. He found 
there that use of the pure line, about which he has since said 
so much; together with a thoughtfully devised scheme of 
light-and-shade in mezzotint ; devoted to the treatment of 
landscape in the same spirit as that in which the Italian 
masters treated figure-subjects in their pen-and-bistre studies. 
And just as he had imitated the Rogers vignettes in his 
boyhood, now in his youth he tried to emulate the fine 
abstract flow and searching expressiveness of the etched line, 
and the studied breadth of shade, by using the quill-pen with 
washes of monochrome, or sometimes with subdued colour. 
This dwelling upon outline as not only representative, but 
decorative in itself, has sometimes led Mr. Ruskin into over- 
emphasis and a mannered grace ; but the value of his pen- 
and-wash style has never been fairly tested in landscape. 
His best drawings are known to very few ; some of his finest 
work was thrown away on subjects which were never com- 
pleted, or were ruined by rough experiments when he had 
tired of them ; and no other man with his feeling and know- 
ledge has attempted to work in the same method. 

At first he kept pretty closely to monochrome. His object 
was form, and his special talent was for draughtsmanship 
rather than for colour, which developed quite late in his life. 
But it was this winter's study of the ' Liber Studiorum ^ that 
started him on his own characteristic course ; and while we 
have no pen-and-wash work of his before 1845 (except a few 
experiments after Prout), we find him now using the pen 
continually diuring the ' Modern Painters ' period. 

On reaching the Lake of Geneva he wrote, or sketched, 
one of his best-known pieces of verse, ' Mont Blanc Revisited,' 
and a few other poems followed, the last of the long series 


which had once been his chief interest and aim in life. With 
this lonely journey there came new and deeper feelings ; with 
his increased literary power, fresh resources of diction ; and 
he was never so near being a poet as when he gave up writing 
verse. Too condensed to be easily understood, too solemn in 
their movement to be trippingly read, the lines on ' The 
Arve at Cluse,' on ' Mont Blanc,' and ' The Glacier,' should 
not be passed over as merely rhetorical. And the reflections 
on the loungers at Conflans are full of significance of the 
spirit in which he was gradually approaching the great 
problems of his life, to pass through art into the earnest 
study of human conduct and its final cause. 

'Why Stand ye heeb all the Day Idle?' 

•Have you in heaven no hope — on earth no care- 
No foe in hell, ye things of Btye and stall, 

That congregate like flies, and make the air 
Eank with your fevered sloth ; that hourly call 

The sun, which should your servant be, to bear 
Dread witness on you, with uncounted wane 

And unregarded rays, from peak to peak 
Of fiery-gnomoned mountain moved in vain I 

Behold, the very shadows that ye seek 
For slumber, write along the wasted wall 

Your condemnation. They forget not, they, 
Their ordered functions ; and determined fall 

Nor useless perish. But you count your day 

By sins, and write your difference from clay 

In bonds you break, and laws you disobey. 

' God ! who has given the rocks their fortitude, ,^- 
Their sap unto the forests, and their food 

And vigour to the busy tenantry 

Of happy soulless things that wait on Thee, 
Hast Thou no blessing where Thou gav'st Thy blood I 

Wilt Thou not make Thy fair creation whole ? 
Behold and visit this Thy vine for good — 

Breathe in this human dust its living soul.' 

He was still deeply religious — more deeply so than before, 
and found the echo of his own thoughts in George Herbert, 
with whom he 'communed in spirit' while he travelled 


thraugh the Alps, But the forms of outward religion were 
losing their hold over him in proportion as his inward 
religion became more real and intense. It was only a few 
days after writing these lines that he ' brake the Sabbath ' 
for the first time in his life, by climbing a hill after chm-ch. 
That was the first shot fired in a wai-, in one of the strangest 
and saddest wai-s between conscience and reason that biography 
recowls ; strange because the opposing forces were so nearly 
matclied, and sad because the struggle lasted until their field 
of battle was desolated before either won a victory. Thirty 
yeai-s later, the devei-est of his Oxford hearere* drew his 
portrait under the name of the man whose sacred verse was 
his guide and mainstay in tliis youthful pilgrim's progress, 
and the woiils put into his mouth summed up with merciless 
insight tlie issue of tliose conflicts. ' " For I ! Whom am I 
that speak to you ? Am I a believer ? No. I am a doubter 
too. Once I could pray every morning, and go forth to my 
day's labour stayed and comforted. But now I can pray no 
long-ei-. You have taken my God away fi-om me, and I know- 
not where you have laid Him. My only consolation in m\- 
misery is that I am inconsolable for His loss. Yes," cried 
Mr. Herbert, his voice rising in a kind of threatening wail, 
"■ tliough you have made me miserable, I am not yet content 
with my misei-y. And though I too have said in my heart 
that there is no God, and that there is no more profit in 
wisdom than in folly, yet there is one folly that I will not 
give tongue to. I will not say Peace, peace, when there is no 
pe.ace." ' 

Later on we have to tell how he dwelt in that Doubting 
Castle, and how he escaped. But the pilgrim had not yet 
met Giant Despair ; and his progress was very pleasant in that 
spring of ISJ'O, the year of fine weathei", as he drove round 
the Riviei-a, and the cities of Tuscany opened out their 
treasui-es to him. Thei-e was Lucca, with San Fi-edimio and 
the glories of twelfth-century ai-chitecture ; Fra Bartolommeo's 
picture of the Madonna with the Magdalen and St. Catherine 
♦ W. H. Mallock, ' The New Republic.' 


of Siena, his initiation into the significance of early religious 
painting ; and, taking hold of his imagination, in her marble 
sleep, more powerfully than any flesh and blood, the dead 
lady of St. Martin's Church, Ilaria di Caretto. There was 
Pisa, with the jewel shrine of Sta. Maria della Spina, then 
midestroyed; the excitement of street sketching among a 
sympathetic crowd of fraternizing Italians ; the Abbe Rosini, 
Professor of Fine Arts, whom he made friends with, endured 
as lecturer, and persuaded into scaffold-building in the Campo 
Santo for study of the frescoes. And there was Florence, 
with Giotto's campanile, where the young Protestant 
frequented monasteries, made hay with monks, sketched 
with his new-found friends Rudolf Durheim of Berne and 
Dieudonn^ the French purist ; and spent long days copying 
Angelico and annotating Ghirlandajo, fevered with the sun 
of Italy at its strongest, and with the rapture of discovery, 
' which turns the unaccustomed head like Chianti wine.' 

Coutet got him away, at last, to the Alps ; worn out and 
in despondent reaction after all this excitement. He spent 
a month at Macugnaga, reading Shakespeare and trying to 
draw boulders ; drifting gradually back into strength enough 
to attack the next piece of work, the study of Turner sites 
on the St. Gothard, where he made the drawings afterwards 
engraved in ' Modern Painters.' In August, J. D. Harding 
was going to Venice, and arranged for a meeting at Baveno, on 
the Lago Maggiore. Gossip had credited him with a share in 
' Modern Painters ' ; now the tables were turned, and Griffitli 
the picture-dealer wanted to know if it was true that John 
Ruskin had helped Harding with his new book, just out. 
They sketched together, Ruskin perhaps emulating his 
friend's slap-dash style in the 'Sunset' reproduced in his 
' Poems,' and illustrating his own in the ' Water-mill.' And 
so they drove together to Verona and thence to Venice. 

At Venice they stayed in Danieli's Hotel, on the Riva dei 
Schiavoni, and began by studying picturesque canal-life. 
Mr. Boxall, R.A., and Mrs. Jameson, the historian of Sacred 
and Legendary Art, were their companions. Another old 


friend, Joseph Severn, had in 1843 gained one of the prizes 
at the Westminster Hall Cartoons Competition ; and a letter 
from Mr. Ruslcin, referring to the work there, shows how he 
still pondered on the subject that had been haunting him in 
the Alps. ' With your hopes for the elevation of English 
art by means of fresco I cannot sympathize. ... It is not 
the material nor the space that can give us thoughts, passions, 
or power. I see on our Academy walls nothing but what is 
ignoble in small pictures, and would be disgusting in large 
ones. ... It is not the love of fresco that we want ; it is 
the love of God and His creatures; it is humility, and 
charity, and self-denial, and fasting, and prayer; it is 
a total change of character. We want more faith and less 
reasoning, less strength and more trust. You want neither 
walls, nor plaster, nor colours — fa ne fait rien a V affaire ; it 
is Giotto, and Ghirlandajo, and Angelico that you want, and 
that you will and must want until this disgusting nineteenth 
century has — I can't say breathed, but steamed its last.' So 
early he had taken up and wiapped round him the mantle of 

But he was suddenly to find the sincerity of Ghirlandajo 
and the religious significance of Angelico united with the 
matured power of art. Without knowing what they were to 
meet, Hai'ding and he found themselves one day in the Scuola 
di S. Rocco, and face to face with Tintoret. 

It was the fashion before Mr. Ruskin's time, and it has 
been the fashion since, to undervalue Tintoret. He is not 
pious enctogh for the purists, nor decorative enough for the 
Pre-Raphaelites. The ruin or the restoration of almost all 
his pictm-es makes it impossible for the ordinary amateur to 
judge them ; they need reconstruction in the mind's eye, and 
that is a dangerous process. Mr. Ruskin himself, as he grew 
older, found more interest in the playful industry of Carpaccio 
than in the laborious games, the stupendous Titan-feats of 
Tintoret. But at this moment, solemnized before the 
problems of life, he found these problems hinted in the 
mystic symbolism of the school of S. Rocco ; with eyes now 


opened to pre-Reformation Christianity, he found its com- 
pleted outcome in Tintorefs interpretation of the life of 
Christ and the types of the Old Testament ; fresh from the 
stormy grandeur of the St. Gothard, he found the lurid skies 
and looming giants of the Visitation, or the Baptism, or the 
Crucifixion, re-echoing the subjects of Turner as 'deep 
answering to deep ' ; and, with Harding of the Broad Brush, 
he recognised the mastery of landscape execution in the 
Flight into Egypt, and the St. Mary in the Desert. 

He devoted the rest of his time chiefly to cataloguing and 
copying Tintoret. The catalogue appeared in ' Stones of 
Venice,' which was suggested by this visit, and begun by 
ome sketches of architectural detail, and the acquisition of 
daguerreotypes— a new invention which delighted Mr. Ruskin 
immensely, as it had delighted Turner, with trustworthy 
records of detail which sometimes eluded even his industry 
and accuracy. 

At last his friends were gone ; and, left alone, he overworked 
himself, as usual, before leaving Venice with crammed port- 
folios and closely -written note -books. At Padua he was 
stopped by a fever ; all through France he was pursued by 
what, from his account, appears to have been some form of 
diphtheria, averted only, as he believed, in direct answer to 
earnest prayer. At last his eventful pilgi'image was ended, 
and he was restored to his home and his parents. 

It was not long before he was at work again in his new 
study, looking out upon the quiet meadow and grazing cows 
of Denmark Hill, and rapidly throwing into forni the fresh 
impressions of the summer. Still thoroughly Aristotelian 
and Lockeian in method, he found no difficulty in making his 
philosophy the vehicle of religious thought. He was strongly 
influenced by the sermons of Canon Melvill — the same preacher 
whom Browning in his youth admired — a good orator and 
sound analytic expositor, though not a great or independent 
thinker. Osborne Gordon had recommended him to read 
Hooker, and he caught the tone and style of the ' Ecclesi- 
astical Polity ' only too readily, so that much of his work of 


that winter, the more philosophical part of vol. ii., was 
damaged by inversions, and Elizabethan quaintness as of 
rufF and train, long epexegetical sentences, and far-sought 
pomposity of diction. It was only when he had waded 
through the philosophic chaos, which he set himself to survey, 
that he could lay aside his borrowed stilts, and stand on his 
own feet, in the Tintoret descriptions — ^rather stiff, yet, from 
foregone efforts. But, after all, who writes philosophy in 
graceful English ? 

This volume, like the first, was wi-itten in the winter, in 
one long spell of hard work, broken only by a visit to Oxford 
in January as the guest of Dr. Greswell, Head of Worcester, 
at a conference for the promotion of art. Smith and Elder 
accepted the book on Mr. J. J. Ruskin's terms (so his wife 
wrote), for they had already reported it as called for by the 
public. The first volume had been reprinted once, and was 
going into a third edition. 

When his book came out he was away again in Italy, trpng 
to show his father all that he had seen in the Campo Santo 
and Giotto's Tower, and to explain 'why it more than 
startled him.' The good man hardly felt the force of it all 
at once. How should he ? And there were little passages of 
arms and some heart -quaking and head -shaking, until Mr. 
Dale, the old schoolmaster, wrote that he had heard no less a 
man than Sydney Smith mention the new book in public, in 
the presence of ' distinguished literary characters,' as a work 
of ' transcendent talent, presenting the most original views, 
in the most elegant and powerful language, which would work 
a complete revolution in the world of taste.' 

^Vhen he returned home it was to find a respectful welcome. 
His word on matters of Art was now really worth something, 
and before long it was called for. The National Gallery was 
comparatively in its infancy. It had been established less 
than twenty-five years, and its manager, Mr. Eastlake (after- 
wards Sir Charles), had his hands full, what with rascally 
dealers in forged old masters, and incompetent picture- 
cleaners, and an economical Government, and a public that 


neither knew its own mind nor trusted his judgment. A 
great outcry was set up against him for buying bad works, 
and spoiling the best by restoration. Mr. Ruskin wrote very 
temperately to the Times, pointing out that the damage had 
been slight compared with what was being done everywhere 
else, and suggesting that, prevention being better than cure, 
the pictures should be put under glass, for then they would 
not need the recurring attentions of the restorer. But he 
blamed the management for spending large sums on added 
examples of Guido and Rubens, while they had no Angelico, 
no Ghirlandajo, no good Pemgino, only one Bellini, and, in 
a word, left his new friends, the early Christian artists, un- 
represented. He suggested that pictures might be picked up 
for next to nothing in Italy ; and he begged that the collection 
might be made historical and educational by being fully re- 
presentative, and chronologically arranged. 

Such ideals cannot be realized at a stroke ; but as we walk 
round our Gallery now we can be thankful that his voice was 
raised, and not in vain ; and rejoice that in many a case justice 
has been done to ' the wronged great soul of an ancient 


•THE SEVEN LAMPS.' (1847-1849.) 

' They dreamt not of a perishable home 
Who thus could build.' 


HAVE you read an Oxford Graduate's " Letters on 
Art".?' wrote Miss Mitford, of 'Our Village,' on 
January 27, 1847. 'The author, Mr. Ruskin, was 
here last week, and is certainly the most charming person 
that I have ever known.' The friendship thus begun lasted 
until her death. She encouraged him in his work ; she 
delighted in his success ; and, in the grave reverses which were 
to befall him, he found her his most faithful supporter and 
most sympathetic consoler. In return, ' his kindness cheered 
her closing days ; he sent her every book that would interest 
and every delicacy that would strengthen her, attentions 
which will not surprise those who have heard of his large and 
thoughtful generosity.'* 

It was natural that a rising man, so closely connected with 
Scotland, should be welcomed by the leaders of the Scottish 
school of literature. Sydney Smith, a former Edinburgh 
professor, had praised the new volume. John Murray, as it 
seems from letters of the period, made overtures to secure 
the author as a contributor to his Italian guide-books. 
I^ckhart employed him to write for the Quarterly Review. 
Lockhart was a person of great interest for young Ruskin, 

* ' The Friendships of Mary Eussell Mitford,' edited by the Eev. A. 
G. L'Eslrange. 


who worshipped Scott ; and Lockhart's daughter, even with- 
out her personal charm, would have attracted him as the 
actual grandchild of the great Sir Walter. It was for her 
sake, he says, rather than for the honour of writing in the 
famous Quarterly, that he undertook to review Lord 
Lindsay's ' Christian Art.' 

He was known to be a suitor for Miss Lockharfs hand. 
His father, in view of the success he desu'ed, had been in 
February looking out for a house in the Lake District; 
hoping, no doubt, to see him settled there as a sort of 
successor to Wordsworth and Christopher North. In March, 
John Ruskin betook himself to the Salutation at Ambleside, 
with his constant attendant and amanuensis George, for 
quiet after a tiring winter in London society, and for his 
new labour of reviewing. But he did not find himself so 
fond of the Lakes as of old. He wrote to his mother 
(Sunday, March 28, 1847) : 

' I finished — and sealed up — and addressed — my last bit of 
work, last night by ten o''clock — ^ready to send by to-day's 
post — so that my father should receive it with this. I could 
not at all have done it had I stayed at home : for even with 
all the quiet here, I have had no more time than was necessary, 
for exercise. I find the rowing very useful, though it makes 
me melancholy with thinking of 1838, — and the lake, when 
it is quite calm, is wonderfully sad and quiet: — no bright 
colours — no snowy peaks. Black water — as still as death ; — 
lonely, rocky islets — leafless woods, — or worse than leafless — ^the 
brown oak foliage hanging dead upon them ; gray sky ; — far- 
otF, wild, dark, dismal moorlands ; no sound except the 
rustling of the boat among the reeds. 

' One o'clock. — I have your kind note and my father's, and 
am very thankful that you like what I have written, for I 
did not at all know myself whether it were good or bad.' 

In the early summer he went to Oxford, for a meeting of 
the British Association. He said (June 27, 1847) . 

' I am not able to -vvrite a full account of all I see, to amuse 
you, for I find it necessary to keep as quiet as I can, and I 


fear it would only annoy you to be told of all the invitations 
I refuse, and all the interesting matters in which I take no 
part. There is nothing for it but throwing one's self into 
the stream, and going down with one's arms under water, 
ready to be carried anywhere, or do anything. My friends 
are all busy, and tired to death. All the members of my 
section, but especially (Edward) Forbes, Sedgwick, Murchison, 
and Lord Northampton — and of course Buckland, are as kind 
to me as men can be ; but I am tormented by the pei-petual 
sense of my unmitigated ignorance, for I know no more now 
than I did when a boy, and I have only one perpetual feeling 
of being in everybody's way. The recollections of the place, 
too, and the being in my old rooms, make me very miserable. 
I have not one moment of profitably spent time to look back 
to while I was here, and much useless labour and disappointed 
hope ; and I can neither bear the excitement of being in the 
society where the play of mind is constant, and rolls over me 
like heavy wheels, nor the pain of being alone. I get away 
in the evenings into the hayfields about Cumnor, and rest ; but 
then my failing sight plagues me. I cannot look at anything 
as I used to do, and the evening sky is covered with swim- 
ming strings and eels. My best time is while I am in the 
section room, for though it is hot, and sometimes wearisome, 
yet I have nothing to say, — ^little to do, — nothing to look at, 
and as much as I like to hear.' 

He had to undergo a second disappointment in love ; his 
health broke down again, and he was sent to Leamington to 
his former doctor, Jephson, once more a ' consumptive ' 
patient. Dieted into health, he went to Scotland with a 
new-found friend, Mr. William Macdonald Macdonald of 
St. Martin's and Crossmount. But he had no taste for sport, 
and could make little use of his opportunities for distraction 
and relaxation. One battue was enough for him, and the 
rest of the visit was spent in morbid despondency, digging 
thistles, and brooding over the significance of the curse of 
Eden, so strangely now interwoven with his own life — 
' Thorns also and thistles,' 


At Bower's Well, Perth, where his grandparents had spent 
their later years, and where his parents had been married, 
lived some old acquaintances of the Ruskin family. Their 
daughter used to visit at Denmark Hill. It was for her 
that, some years earlier, 'The King of the Golden River' 
had been written. She had grown up into a perfect Scotch 
beauty, with every gift of health and spirits which would com- 
pensate — the old folk thought — for his retiring and morbid 
nature. They were anxious, now more than ever, to see him 
settled. They pressed him, in letters still extant, to propose. 
We have seen how he was situated, and can understand how 
he persuaded himself that fortune, after all, was about to 
smile upon him. Her family had their own reasons for pro- 
moting the match, and all united in hastening on the event — 
alike ' dreaming of a perishable home.' 

In the Notes to Exhibitions added to a new edition of 
' Modern Painters,' then in the press, the author mentions 
a 'hurried visit to Scotland in the spring' of 1848. This 
was the occasion of his marriage at Perth, on April 10. The 
young couple spent rather more than a fortnight on the way 
South, among Scotch and English lakes, intending to make 
a more extended tour in the summer to the cathedrals and 

The pilgrimage began with Salisbury, where a few days' 
sketching in the damp and draughts of the cathedral laid 
the bridegroom low, and brought the tour to an untimely 
end. When he was thought to be recovered, the whole 
family started for the Continent; but a relapse in the patient's 
condition brought them back. At last, in August, the young 
people were seen safely off to Normandy, where they went 
by easy stages from town to town, studying the remains of 
Gothic building. In October they returned, and settled in a 
house of their own, at 31, Park Street, where during the 
winter Mr. Ruskin wrote 'The Seven Lamps of Architecture,' 
and, as a bit of by-work, a notice of Samuel Prout for the 
Art Journal. 

This was Mr. Ruskin's first illustrated volume. The plates 


were engraved by himself in soft-ground etching, such as 
Prout had used, from drawings he had made in 1846 and 
1848. Some are scrappy combinations of various detail, but 
othei-s, such as the Byzantine capital, the window in Giotto's 
Campanile, the arches fi-om St. Lo in Normandy, from St. 
Michele at Lueoi, and from the Ca' Foscari at Venice, are 
efiFective studies of thj actual look of old buildings, seen as 
they are shown us in Nature, with her light and shade added 
to all the facts of form, and her own last touches in the way 
of weather-softening, and settling-faults, and tufted, nestling 

Revisiting the Hotel de la Cloche at Dijon in later years, 
Mr. Ruskin showed me the room where he had ' bitten ' the 
last plate in his wash-hand basin, as a careless makeshift for 
the regular etcher's bath. He was not dissatisfied with his 
work himself ; the public of the day wanted something more 
finished. So the second edition appeared with the subjects 
elaborately popularized in fashionable engraving. More 
recently they have undergone reduction for a cheap issue. 
But any true lover of Ruskin knows the value of the real 
original ' Seven Lamps ' with its San Miniato cover and 
autograph plates. 

As to its reception, or at least the anticipation of it, Chai-- 
lotte Bronte bears witness in a letter to the publishei-s. 
'I have lately been reading "Modern Painters," and have 
derived from the work much genuine pleasure, and, I hope, 
some edification; at any rate, it has made me feel how 
ignorant I had previously been on the subject which it treats. 
Hitherto I have only had instinct to guide me in judging of 
art ; I feel now as if I had been walking bhndfold— this book 
seems to give me new eyes. I do wish I had pictures within 
reach by which to test the new sense. Who can read these 
gloAving descriptions of Turner's work without longing to see 

'I like this author's style much; there is both energy and 
beauty in it. I like himself, too, because he is such a hearty 
admirer. He does not give half-measure of praise or veneration. 


He eulogizes, he reverences, with his whole soul. One can 
sympathize with that sort of devout, serious admiration, 
for he is no rhapsodist; one can respect it; yet, possibly, 
many people would laugh at it. 

' I congratulate you on the approaching publication of Mr. 
Ruskin's new work. If " The Seven Lamps of Architecture " 
resemble their predecessor, " Modern Painters," they will be 
no lamps at all, but a new constellation, — seven bright stars, 
for whose rising the reading world ought to be anxiously 

The book was announced for his father's birthday. May 10, 
1849, and it appeared while they were among the Alps. The 
earlier part of this tour is pretty fully described in ' Praeterita,' 
II. xi., and ' Fors,' letter xc, and so the visit of Richard 
Fall, the meeting with Sibylla Dowie, and the death of cousin 
Mary need not be dwelt on here. From the letters that 
passed between father and son we find that Mr. John had 
been given a month's leave from July 26 to explore the 
Higher Alps, with Coutet his guide and George his valet. 
The old people stayed at the Hotel des Bergues, and thought 
of little else but their son and his affairs, looking eagerly 
from day to day for the last news, both of him and of his 

Mr. Ruskin senior writes from Geneva on July 29 : ' Miss 
Tweddale says your book has made a great sensation.'' On 
the 31st : ' Thiers has surprised and delighted the Chamber 
of Deputies by your doctrine of no such thing as Liberty. 
I think he has borrowed,' On August 4 : ' The Spectator, 
which Smith sets great value on, has an elaborate favourable 
notice on "Seven Lamps," only ascribing an mfirrmty of 
temper, quoting railroad passage in proof. Anne was told by 
American family servant that you were in American paper, 
and got it for us, the New York Tribune of July 13 ; first 
article is your book. They say they are willing to be learners 
from, rather than critics of, such a book, etc. The Daily 
News (some of the Punch people's paper) has a capital notice. 
It begins : " This is a masked battery of seven pieces, which 


blaze away to the total extinction of the small architectural 
lights we may boast of, etc., etc." ' On August 5 : ' I have, 
at a shameful charge of ten francs, got August magazine and 
Dickens, quite a prohibition for parcels from England. In 
British Quarterly, under aesthetics of Gothic architecture 
they take four works, you first. ... As a critic they almost 
rank you with Goethe and Coleridge, and in style with Jeremy 
Taylor.' The qualified encouragement of these remarks was 
farther qualified with detailed advice about health, and 
warnings against the perils of the way, to which Mr. John 
used to answer on this wise : 


' Sunday afternoon 

' {July 29, 1849). 
' My dearest Father, 

' (Put the three sheets in order first, 1, 2, 3, then read 
this, front and hack, and then 2, and then 3, front and back.) 
You and my mother were doubtless very happy when you 
saw the day clear up as you left St. Martin's. Truly it was 
impossible that any day could be more perfect towards its 
close. We reached Nant Bourant at twelve o'clock, or a little 
before, and Coutet having given his sanction to my wish to 
get on, we started again soon after one— and reached the top 
of the Col de Bonhomme about five. You would have been 
delighted with that view — ^it is one upon those lovely seas of 
blue mountain, one behind the other, of which one never 
tires — ^this, fortunately, westward— so that all the blue ridges 
and ranges above Conflans and Beaufort were dark against 
the afternoon sky, though misty with its light ; while east- 
ward a range of snowy crests, of which the most important 
was the Mont Iseran, caught the sunlight ftdl upon them. 
The sun was as warm, and the air as mild, on the place where 
the English travellers sank and perished, as in our gai-den at 
Denmark Hill on the summer evenings. There is, however, 
no small excuse for a man's losing courage on that pass, if the 
weather were foul. I never saw one so literally pathless — so 
void of all guide and help from the lie of the ground — so 


embarrassing from the distance which one has to wind round 
mere brows of craggy precipice without knowing the direction 
in which one is moving, while the path is perpetually lost in 
heaps of shale or among clusters of crags, even when it is free 
of snow. All, however, when I passed was serene, and even 
beautiful — owing to the glow which the red rocks had in the 
sun. We got down to Chapiu about seven — itself one of the 
most desolately-placed villages I ever saw in the Alps. Scot- 
land is in no place that I have seen, so barren or so lonely. 
Ever since I passed Shapfells, when a child, I have had an 
excessive love for this kind of desolation, and I enjoyed my 
little chalet window and my chalet supper exceedingly 
(mutton with garlic).' 

He then confesses that he woke in the night with a sore 
throat, but struggled on next day down the All^e Blanche to 

' I never saw such a mighty heap of stones and dust. The 
glacier itself is quite invisible from the road (and I had no 
mind for extra work or scrambling), except just at the bottom, 
where the ice appears in one or two places, being exactly of 
the colour of the heaps of waste coal at the Newcastle pits, 
and admirably adapted therefore to realize one's brightest 
anticipations of the character and style of the Allee Blanche. 

' The heap of its moraine conceals, for the two miles of its 
extent, the entire range of Mont Blanc from the eye. At 
last you weather the mighty promontory, cross the torrent 
which issues from its base, and find yourself suddenly at the 
very foot of the vast slope of torn granite, which from a point 
not 200 feet lower than the summit of Mont Blanc, sweeps 
down into the valley of Cormayeur. 

' I am quite unable to speak with justice — or think with 
clearness — of this marvellous view. One is so unused to see a 
mass like that of Mont Blanc without any snow that all my 
ideas and modes of estimating size were at fault. I only felt 
overpowered by it, and that — as with the porch of Rouen 
Cathedral — look as I would, I could not see it. I had not 


mind enough to grasp it or meet it. I tried in vain to fix 
some of its main featm-es on my memory ; .tlien set the mules 
to graze again, and took my sketch-boolc, and marked the out- 
lines — but where is the use of marking contours of a mass of 
endless — countless — fantastic rock — 12,000 feet sheer above 
the valley ? Besides, one cannot have sharp sore-throat for 
twelve hours without its bringing on some slight feverish- 
ness ; and the scorching Alpine sun to which we had been 
exposed without an instant's cessation from the height of the 
col till now — i.e., from half-past ten to three — had not 
mended the matter ; my pulse was now beginning slightly 
to quicken and my head slightly to ache — and my impression 
of the scene is feverish and somewhat painful ; I should think 
like yours of the valley of Sixt.' 

So he finished his drawing, tramped down the valley after 
his mule, in dutiful fear of increasing his cold, and found 
Cormayeur crowded, only an attic ' au quatrieme ' to be had. 
After trying to doctor himself with gray pill, kali, and senna, 
Coutet cured his throat with an alum gargle, and they went 
over the Col Ferret. 

The courier Pfister had been sent to meet him at Martigny, 
and bring latest news and personal report, on the strength of 
which several days passed without letters, but not without a 
remonstrance from headquarters. On August 8 he writes 
from Zermatt : 

'I have your three letters, with pleasant accounts of 
critiques, etc., and painful accounts of your anxieties. I 
certainly never thought of putting in a letter at Sion, as I 
arrived there about three hours after Fister left me, it being 
only two stages from Martigny ; and besides, I had enough to 
do that morning in thinking what I should want at Zermatt, 
and was engaged at Sion, while we changed horses, in buying 
wax candles and rice. It was unlucky that I lost post at 
Visp," etc. 

A few days later he says : 

' On Friday I had such a day as I have only once or twice 


had the like of among the Alps. I got up to a promontory 
projecting from the foot of the Matterhorn, and lay on the 
rocks and drew it at my ease. I was about three hours at 
work as quietly as if in my study at Denmark Hill, though on 
a peak of barren crag above a glacier, and at least 9,000 feet 
above sea. But the Matterhorn, after all, is not so fine a 
thing as the aiguille Dru, nor as any one of the aiguilles of 
Chamouni : for one thing, it is all of secondary rock in 
horizontal beds, quite rotten and shaly ; but there are other 
causes of difference in impressiveness which I am endeavouring 
to analyze, but find considerable embarrassment in doing so. 
There seems no sufficient reason why an isolated obelisk, one- 
fourth higher than any of them, should not be at least as 
sublime as they in their dependent grouping ; but it assuredly 
is not. For this reason, as well as because I have not found 
here the near studies of primitive rock I expected, — for to my 
great surprise, I find the whole group of mountains, mighty 
as they are, except the inaccessible Monte Rosa, of secondary 
limestones or slates, — I should like, if it were possible, to spend 
a couple of days more on the Montanvert, and at the bases of 
the Chamouni aiguilles, sleeping at the Montanvert.' And 
so on, apologetically begging (as other sons beg money) 
for time, to gather the material of ' Modem Painters,' 
volume iv. 

' I hope you will think whether the objects you are after 
are worth risks of sore throats or lungs,' replied his father, for 
he had ' personified a perpetual influenza ' until they got him 
to Switzerland, and they were very anxious ; indeed, Pfister's 
news from Martigny had scared his mother — not very well her- 
self — ^into wild plans for recapturing him. However, Osborne 
Gordon was going to Chamouni with Mr. Pritchard, and so 
they gave him a little longer. And he made the best use of 
his time. 

' Monday evening 

' (August 20, 1849). 
'My dearest Father, 

I have to-night a packet of back letters from Vi&ge 
. . . but I have really hardly time to read them to-night, I 


had so many notes to secure when I came from the hills. I 
walk up every day to the base of the aiguilles without the 
slightest sense of fatigue ; work there all day hammering and 
sketching; and down in the evening. As far as days by 
myself can be happy they aie so, for I love the place with all 
my heai't. I have no over-fatigue or labour, and plenty of 
time. By-the-by, though in most respects they are incapable 
of improvement, I recollect that I thought to-day, as I was 
breaking last night's ice away from the rocks of which I wanted 
a specimen, with a shaa-pish wind and small pepper and salt- 
like sleet beating in my face, that a hot chop and a glass of 
sherry, if they were to be had round the corner, would make 
the thing more perfect. Theie was however nothing to be 
had round the corner but some Iceland moss, which belonged 
to the chamois, and an extra allowance of north wind.' 

This next is scribbled on a tiny scrap of paper : 

'Glacier of Gkeppond, 
'August 21. 
' My dearest Father, 

' I am sitting on a gray stone in the middle of the 
glacier, waiting till the fog goes away. I believe I may wait. 
I write this line in my pocket-book to thank my mother for 
hers which I did not acknowledge last night. I am glad and 
sorry that she depends so much on my letters for her comfort. 
I am sending them now every day by the people who go down, 
for the diligence is stopped. You may run the chance of 
missing one or two therefore. I am quite well, and very 
comfortable — sitting on Joseph's knapsack laid on the stone. 
The fog is about as thick as that of London in November, — 
only white ; and I see nothing near me but fields of dampish 
snow with black stones in it.' 

And then : 

' I cannot say that on the whole the aiguilles have treated 
me well. I went up Saturday, Monday and Tuesday to their 


feet, and never obtained audience until to-day, and then they 
retired at twelve o'clock ; but I have got a most valuable 

Meantime : 

• Geneva, 
' Monday, 

' AwjWt 20, 1849. 
'My deauest John, 

' I do not know if you have got all my letters, fully 
explaining to you in what way the want of a single letter, on 
two occasions, did so much mischief — made such havoc in our 
peace. I think my last Thursday's letter entered on it. We 
are grateful for many letters — ^that have come. It was merely 
the accident of the moment when first by illness and then by 
precipices we were most anxious — ^being exactly the moment 
the letters took it into their heads to be not forthcoming. 
Not writing so often would only keep us more in the dark, 
with little less anxiety. Please say if you get a letter every 
day ;' and so forth. 

Space can hardly be afforded for more than samples of this 
voluminous correspondence, or interesting quotations might 
be given about the ' ghost-hunt yesterday and a crystal-hunt 
to-day,' and life at the Montanvert, until at last (August 28) : 

'I have taken my place in diligence for Thursday, and 
hope to be with you in good time. But I quite feel as if I 
were leaving home to go on a journey. I shall not be 
melancholy, however, for I have really had a good spell 
of it. . . . Dearest love to my mother. I don't intend to 
write again. 

' Ever, my dearest father; 

' Your most affectionate son, 



• STONES OF VENICE.' (1849-1851.) 

* I stood in Vemce, on the Bridge of Sigha, 
A palace and a prison on each hand ; 
I saw from out the wave her structures rise 
As from the stroke of the enchanter's wand.' 


' And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from 
God, out of heaven.' — Rev. xxi. 2. 


BOOK about Venice had been planned in 1845, during 
Sir. Ruskin's first long working visit. He had made 
so many notes and sketches both of architecture and 
painting that the material seemed ready to hand; another 
visit would fill up the gaps in his information ; and two or 
three months'' hard writing would work the subject off, and 
set him fee to continue ' Modem Painters.' So before 
leaving home in 1849, he had made up his mind that the 
next work would be ' The Stones of Venice,' which, on the 
appearance of 'The Seven Lamps,' was announced by the 
publishers as in preparation. 

Like ' The Seven Lamps,' this new book was not to be a 
manual of practical architecture, but the further illustration 
of doctrines peculiar to the author ; the reaction, that is to 
say, of society upon art ; the close connection, in this case, 
of style in architectiu« with the life, the religious tone, the 
moral aims, of the people who produced it. Venice was the 
nearest analogy in the past, among the great influential 
nations of history, to om* own country. It was free, but 


aristocratic and conservative ; Christian, but independent of 
the Pope ; it pursued a course of ' spirited foreign policy ' in 
contrast with — but as a consequence of — its apparently peace- 
ful function of commerce. So that, by its example, the lessons 
of national virtue which, since 1845, the author had felt 
called upon to preach, could be illustrated and enforced in 
a far more interesting way than if he had merely written a 
volume of essays on political morality. But in the end the 
inquiry branched out in so many directions that the main 
purpose was all but hidden among flowers of rhetoric and 
foliage of technical detail, which most readers took for the 
sum and substance of its teaching. 

He left home again early in October ; by the end of 
November he was settled with his wife at Venice for the 
winter. He expected to find without much trouble all the 
information he wanted as to the dates, styles and history of 
Venetian buildings ; but after consulting and comparing all 
the native writers, it appeared that the questions he asked of 
them were just the questions they were unprepared to answer, 
and that he must go into the whole matter afresh. So he 
laid himself out that winter for a thorough examination of 
St. Mark's and the Ducal Palace and the other remains — 
drawing, and measuring, and comparing their details ; only to 
find that the work he had undertaken was like a sea ' chi sempre 
si fa maggiore.' The old buildings were a patchwork of all 
styles and all periods. In St. Mark's alone, every pinnacle 
called for separate study ; every capital and balustrade, on 
minute inquiry, turned out to have its own independent 
history. So that, after all his labour, he could give no com- 
plete and generalized survey of the subject, chronological and 
systematic, without much more time and thought. But at 
any rate, the details he had in his note-books were the result 
of personal observation ; he was no longer trusting to second- 
hand information or the vague traditions of the tribe of 

His father had gone back to England in September out of 
health, and the letters from home did not report improve- 


nient. His mother, too, was beginning to fear the loss of her 
sight ; and he could not stay away from them any longer. In 
February, 1850, he broke oiF his work in the middle of it, 
and returned to London, arriving about the middle of April. 
The rest of the year he spent in writing the first volume of 
' Stones of Venice,' and in preparing the illustrations, together 
with ' Examples of the Architecture of Venice,' a portfolio of 
large lithographs and engravings in mezzotint and line, to 
accompany the work. 

The illustrations to the new book were a great advance 
upon the rough soft-ground etchings of ' Seven Lamps.' He 
secm-ed the services of some of the finest engravers who 
ever handled the tools of their art. The English school of 
engraving was then in its last and most accomplished period. 
Photography had not yet begun to supersede it, and the 
demand for delicate work in book-illustration had encouraged 
minuteness and precision of handling to the last degree. In 
this excessive refinement there were the symptoms of decline ; 
but it was most fortunate for Mr. Ruskin that his drawings 
could be interpreted by such men as Armytage and Cousen, 
Cuff and Le Keux, Boys and Lupton, and not without 
advantage to them that their masterpieces should be pre- 
served in his works, and praised as they deserved in his 
prefaces. Sometimes, as it often happens when engravers 
work for an artist who sets the standard high, they found 
Mr. Ruskin a hard taskmaster. The mere fact of their skill 
in translating a sketch from a note-book into a gem-like 
vignette, encouraged him to ask for more ; so that some of 
the subjects which became the most elaborate were at first 
comparatively rough drawings, and were gradually worked 
up from successive retouchings of the proofs by the infinite 
patience of both parties. In other cases working drawings 
were prepared by Mr. Ruskin, as refined as the plates. How 
steady his hand was, and how trained his eye, can be seen by 
anyone who looks carefully at the etchings by him — not 
after him — in 'Modern Painters,' which show that he was 
fully competent to have produced his own illustrations had 


it been worth his while. The photogravure facsimiles in 
' Poems,' the ' Poetry of Architecture,' and ' Studies in Both 
Arts' bear witness that, while in one mood he does those 
roughly-sketched chiaroscuro studies like the ' Seven Lamps ' 
illustrations, at other times he can ' curb the liberal 
hand ' and rival a cameo in refinement. Like much else of 
his work, these plates for ' Stones of Venice ' were in advance 
of the times. The publisher thought them ' caviai-e to the 
general,' so Mr. J. J. Ruskin told his son ; but gave it as 
his own belief that 'some dealers in Ruskins and Turners 
in 1890 will get great prices for what at present will not 

- Early in 1850, his father, at his mother's desire, and with 
the help of Mr. W. H. Harrison, collected and printed his 
poems, with a number of pieces that still remained in MS., 
the author taking no part in this revival of bygones, which, 
for the sake of their associations, he was not anxious to re- 
call, — though his father still believed that he might have been 
a poet, and might to have been one. This is the volume of 
' Poems, J. R., 1850,' so highly valued by collectors. 

Another resurrection was ' The King of the Golden River,' 
which had lain hidden for the nine years of the Ars Poetica. 
He allowed it to be published, with woodcuts by the famous 
' Dicky ' Doyle. The little book ran through three editions 
that year, and, partly because School Boards have adopted it 
as one of their prizes, it still finds a steady sale. The first 
issue must have been torn to rags in the nxurseries of the last 
generation, since copies are so rare as to have brought ten 
guineas apiece instead of the six shillings at which they were 
advertised in 1850. 

A couple of extracts from letters of 1850 will give some 
idea of Mr. Ruskin's impressions of London society and the 
Drawing Room : 

' My dearest Mother, 

' Horrible party last night — stifiF— large — dull — fidgety 
— strange, — run-against-everybody-know-nobody sort of party. 


Naval people. Young lady claims acquaintance with me — I 
know tis mucli of her as of Queen Pomaie — Talk : get away 

as soon as I can — ask who she is — Lady ( ) ; — as wise as 

I was before. Introduced to a black man with chin in collar. 
Black man condescending — I abuse different things to black 
man : chiefly the House of Lords. Black man says he lives in 
it — asks where I live — don't want to tell him — obliged — 

go away and ask who he is — ( ) ; as wise as I was before. 

Introduced to a yoimg lady — young lady asks if I like 

drawing — go away and ask who she is — Lady ( ). Keep 

away, with back to wall and look at watch. Get away at 
last. Very sulky this morning — hope my father better — 
dearest love to you both.' 

•Park Street, 
' 4 o^ clock 

' (May, 1850). 

' My dearest Father, 

' We got through gloriously, though at one place 
there was the most awkward crush I ever saw in my life 
— the pit at the Surrey, which I never saw, may perhaps show 
the like — nothing else. The floor was covered with the ruins 

of ladies' dresses, torn lace and fallen flowers. But E was 

luckily out of it, and got through imscathed — and heard 
people saying " What a beautiful dress !" just as she got up 
to the Queen. It was fatiguing enough but not so awkward 
as I expected. . . . 

' The Queen looked younger and prettier than I expected 
— very like her pictures, even like those which ai-e thought to 
flatter most — but I only saw the profile — I could not see the 
front face as I knelt to her, at least without an uptmiiing of 
the eyes which I thought would be imseemly — and there 
were but some two to three seconds allowed for the whole 

' The Queen ^ave her hand very graciously : but looked 
boi-ed ; poor thing, well she might be, with about a quarter 
of a mile square of people to bow to. 

' 1 met two people whom I have not seen for many a day. 


Kildare and Scott Murray— had a chat with the former and 
a word with Murray, but nothing of interest. 
' Dearest love to my mother. 

' Ever, my dearest father,' etc. 

As one of the chief literary figures of the day, Mr. Ruskin 
could not avoid society, and, as he tells in ' Prasterita,' he was 
rewarded for the reluctant performance of his duties by meet- 
ing with several who became his lifelong friends. Chief 
among these he mentions Mr. and Mrs. Cowper-Temple, 
afterwards Lord and Lady Movmt Temple. The acquaint- 
ance with Samuel Rogers, inauspiciously begun many years 
before, now ripened into something like friendship ; Monckton 
Milnes (Lord Houghton) and other men of letters were met 
at Rogers' breakfasts. A little later a visit to the Master of 
Trinity, Whewell, at Cambridge, brought him into contact 
with Professor Willis, the authority on Gothic architecture, 
and other notabilities of the sister University. There also he 
met Mr. and Mrs. Marshall of Leeds (and Coniston) ; and he 
pursued his journey to Lincoln, with Mr. Simpson, whom he 
had met at Lady Davy's, and to Farnley for a visit to 
Mr. F. H. Fawkes, the owner of the celebrated collection of 
Turners (April, 1851). 

In London he was acquainted with many of the leading 
artists and persons interested in art. Of the ' teachers ' of 
the day he was known to men so diverse as Carlyle — and 
Maurice, with whom he corresponded in 1851 about his 
' Notes on Sheepfolds ' — and C. H. Spurgeon, to whom his 
mother was devoted. He was as yet neither a hermit, nor a 
heretic : but mixed freely with all sorts and conditions, with 
one exception, for Puseyites and Romanists were yet as 
heathen men and publicans to him; and he noted with 
interest, while writing his review of Venetian history, that 
the strength of Venice was distinctly Anti-Papal, and her 
virtues Christian but not Roman. Reflections on this 
subject were to have formed part of his great work, but the 
first volume was taken up with the d priori development of 


architectural forms ; and the treatment in especial of Venetian 
matters had to be indefinitely postponed, until another visit 
had given him the opportunity of gathering his material. 

Meanwhile, his wide sympathies had turned his mind 
toward a subject which then had received little attention, 
though since then loudly discussed — the reunion of (Protes- 
tant) Christians. 

He put together his thoughts in a pamphlet on the text 
' There shall be one fold and one Shepherd,' calling it, in 
allusion to his architectural studies, ' Notes on the Construc- 
tion of Sheepfolds.'' He proposed a compromise, trying to 
prove that the pretensions to priesthood on the high Anglican 
side, and the objections to episcopacy on the Presbyterian, 
were alike untenable ; and hoped that, when once these differ- 
ences — such little things he thought them — were arranged, a 
united Church of England might become the nucleus of a 
world-wide federation of Protestants, a civitas Dei, a New 

There were many who agreed with his aspirations ; he 
received shoals of letters from sympathizing readers, most of 
them praising his aims and criticising his means. Others 
objected rather to his manner than to his matter ; the title 
savoured of levity, and an art-critic writing on theology was 
supposed to be wandering out of his province. Tradition says 
that the ' Notes ' were freely bought by Border farmers under 
a rather laughable mistake ; but surely it was no new thing 
for a Scotch reader to find a religious tract under a catching 
title ; and their two shillings might have been worse spent. 
There were a few replies ; one by Mr. Dyee, the clerical R.A., 
who defended the Anglican view with mild persiflage and the 
usual commonplaces. And there the matter ended, for the 
public. For Mr. Ruskin, it was the beginning of a train of 
thought which led him far. He gradually learnt that his 
error was not in asking too much, but in asking too little. 
He wished for a union of Protestants, forgetting the sheep 
that are not of that fold, and little dreaming of the answer he 
got, after many days, in ' Christ's Folk in the Apennine.' 


Meanwhile the first volume of 'Stones of Venice' had 
appeared. Its reception was indirectly described in a 
pamphlet entitled ' Something on Ruskinism, with a " Vesti- 
bule" in Rhyme, by an Architect' — a Puginist, it seems, 
who felt that his, craft was in danger. He complains bitterly 
of the ' ecstasies of rapture ' into which the newspapers had 
been thrown by the new work : 

' Your book — since reviewers so swear— may be rational, 
Still, 'tis certainly not either loyal or national ;' 

for it did not join in the chorus of congratulation to Prince 
Albert and the Rritish public on the Great Exhibition of 
1851, the apotheosis of trade and machinery. The ' Archi- 
tect ' finds also — what may surprise the modem reader who 
has not noticed that many an able writer has been thought 
unreadable on his first appearance — that he cannot under- 
stand Mr. Ruskin's language and ideas : 

' Your style is so soaring — and some it makes sore — 
That plain folks can't make out your strange mystical lore.' 

He will allow the author to be quite right, when he finds 
something to agree upon ; but the moment a sore point is 
touched, then Ruskin is ' insane.' In one respect the ' Archi- 
tect ' hit the nail on the head : ' Readers who are not 
reviewers by profession can hardly fail to perceive that 
Ruskinism is violently inimical to sundry existmg interests.'' 

The best men, we said, were the first to recognise Mr. 
Ruskin's genius, Let us throw into the opposite scale an 
opinion of more weight than the ' Architect's,' in a transcript 
of the original letter from Carlyle. 

< Chelsea, 

'March 9, 1851. 
' Dear Ruskiv, 

' I did not know yesterday till your servant was gone 
that there was any note in the parcel ; nor at all what a feat 
you had done ! A loan of the gallant young man's Memoirs 
was what I expected ; and here, in the most chivalrous style, 
comes a gift of them. This, I think, must be in the style 


prior to the Renaissance ! What can I do but accept your 
kindness with pleasure and gratitude, though it is far beyond 
my deserts ? Perhaps the next man I meet will use me as 
much below them ; and so bring matters straight again ! 
Truly I am much obliged, and return you many hearty 

' I was already deep in the ' Stones ' ; and clearly purpose 
to hold on there. A strange, unexpected, and I believe, most 
true and excellent Sermon in Stones — as well as the best 
piece of schoolmastering in Architectonics ; from which I 
hope to learn in a great many ways. The spirit and purport 
of these critical studies of yours are a singular sign of the 
times to me, and a very gratifying one. Right good speed 
to you, and victorious arrival on the farther shore ! It is a 
quite new " Renaissance," I believe, we are getting into just 
now : either towards new, wider manhood, high again as the 
eternal stars ; or else into final death, and the mask of 
Gehenna for evermore ! A dreadful process, but a needful 
and inevitable one ; nor do I doubt at all which way the 
issue will be, though which of the extant nations are to get 
included in it, and which is to be trampled out and abolished 
in the process, may be very doubtful. God is great : and 
sure enough, the changes in the " Construction of Sheepfolds " 
as well as in other things, will require to be very considerable. 

' We are still labouring under the foul kind of influenza 
here, I not far from emancipated, my poor wife still deep in 
the business, though I hope past the deepest. Am I to 
understand that you too are seized .'' In a day or two I hope 
to ascertain that you are well again. Adieu ; here is an 
interruption, here also is the end of the paper. 

' With many thanks and regards.' 

[Signature cut away.j 

Charlotte Bronte wrote to one of her ftiends : ' The 
" Stones of Venice " seem nobly laid and chiselled. How 
grandly the quarry* of vast marbles is -disclosed ! Mr. 

♦ An allusion to the title of the first chapter. 


Ruskiu seems to me one of the few genuine writers, aa 
distinguished from book-makers, of this age. His earnest- 
ness even amuses me in certain passages, for I cannot help 
laughing to think how utilitarians will fume and fret over 
his deep, serious and (as they will think) fanatical reverence 
for Art; 

But Mr. Ruskin himself would hardly share Charlotte 
Bronte's contempt for the utilitarians. A short while ago 
one of her own people, a Yorkshire working man not far 
from Haworth, got up in a public discussion, and said that 
he had once talked with Mr. Ruskin, and tried to say how 
much he had enjoyed his works. 'And he said to me, "I 
don't care whether you enjoyed them ; did they do you any 

As soon as the first volume of ' Stones of Venice ' and the 
' Notes on the Construction of Sheepfolds ' were published, 
Mr. Ruskin took a short Easter holiday at Matlock, and set 
to work at a new edition of 'Modem Painters.' This was 
the fifth reprint of the first volume, and the third of vol. ii. 
They were carefully and conscientiously revised ; some passages 
of rough, youthful criticism were cancelled, and wisely ; for 
more lasting good is done by expounding what is noble than 
by satirizing what is base. The work was left in its final 
form, except for notes added in later years ; and the Post- 
script indulges, most justifiably, in a little triumph at the 
changed tone of public criticism upon Turner. 

But it was too late to have been much service to the great 
artist himself. In 1845 — after saying good-bye and ' Why 
mil you go to Switzerland ? there will be such a Jidge about 
you when you're gone ' — Turner was attacked by some form 
of paralysis or mental decay, and was never himself again. 
The last drawings he did for Mr. Ruskin (January, 184)8), the 
' Briinig ' and the ' Descent from the St. Gothard to Airolo,' 
showed his condition unmistakably ; and the lonely restlessness 
of the last, disappointing years were, for all his friends, a 
melancholy ending to a brilliant career. Mr. Ruskin wrote : 

' This year (1851) he has no picture on the walls of the 


Academy ; and the Times of May 3 says : " We miss those 

works of INSPIRATION !" 

' We miss ! Who misses ? The populace of England rolls 
by to weary itself in the great bazaar of Kensington,* little 
thinking that a day will come when those veiled vestals and 
prancing amazons, and goodly merchandise of precious stones 
and gold, will all be forgotten as though they had not been ; 
but that the light which has faded from the walls of the 
Academy is one which a million Koh-i-noors could not re- 
kindle; and that the year 1851 will, in the far future, be 
remembered less for what it has displayed, than for what it 
has withdrawn.' 

Too truly prophesied ; for Turner was in his last illness, 
hiding like a wild animal wounded to death. On Decem- 
ber 19, in the evening, the sunset shone upon his dishonoured 
corpse through the chamber window in Chelsea. Just so it 
shone upon another death -bed, for the sainted maid of 
Florence, prefiguring, they said, the aureole. 

'The Sun is God, my dear,' Turner had told his house- 
keeper. Was there no ' healing in his wings ' for the fallen 
hero ? or was that reserved only for the spotless soul of Ida ? 
Were there still other sheep ? stones which the builders of 
sheepfolds rejected, all manner of precious stones ? 

*■ The Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. 

PRE-RAPHAELITISM. (1851-1853.) 

' Don't go yet ! Are you aware that there will be a torch-race this 
evening on horseback, to the glory of Artemis ? 

' That ia entirely new to me, said Socrates. And do you mean that 
they will really have torches, and pass them from rider to rider in the 
race ?'— Plato, Mepitblic, 328. 

THE Times, in May 1851, missed 'those works of in- 
spiration,' as Ruskin had at last taught people to call 
Turner's pictures. But the acknowledged mouthpiece 
of public opinion found consolation in castigating a school of 
young artists who had ' unfortunately become notorious by 
addicting themselves to an antiquated style and an affected 
simplicity in painting. . . . We can extend no toleration to 
a mere servile imitation of the cramped style, false perspective, 
and crude colour of remote antiquity. We want not to see 
what Fuseli termed drapery " snapped instead of folded " ; 
faces bloated into apoplexy, or extenuated into skeletons; 
colour borrowed from the jars in a druggist's shop, and ex- 
pression foi'ced into caricature. . . . That morbid infatuation 
which sacrifices truth, beauty, and genuine feeling to mere 
sccentricity deserves no quarter at the hand of the public' 

Mr. Ruskin knew nothing personally of these yoimg inno- 
vators, and had not at first sight wholly approved of the 
apparently Puseyite tendency of Rossetti's 'Ecce Ancilla 
Domini,' Millais' 'Carpenter's Shop,' and Holman Hunt's 
' Early Christian Missionary,' exhibited the year before. All 
these months he had been closely kept to his 'Sheepfolds' 


and ' Stones of Venice ^ ; but now he was correcting the proofs 
of ' Modem Painters,' vol. i., as thus : 

' Chapter the last, section 21 : The duty and after privileges 
of all students. . . . Go to Nature in all singleness of heart, 
and walk with her laboriously and trustingly, having no other 
thoughts but how best to penetrate her meaning, and re- 
member her instruction ; rejecting nothing, selecting nothing, 
and scorning nothing ; believing all things to be right and 
good, and rejoicing always in the truth.' 

He went to the Academy to look at the false perspective 
and snapped draperies, the infatuated untruth and eccentric 
ugliness. Yes ; the faces were ugly : Millais' ' Mariana ' was a 
piece of idolatrous Papistry, and there was a mistake in the 
perspective. Collins'' ' Convent Thoughts ' — more Popery ; 
but very careful, — ' the tadpole too small for its age ' ; but 
what studies of plants ! And there was his own ' Alisma 
Plantago,' which he had been drawing for ' Stones of Venice ' 
(vol. i., plate 7) and describing : ' The lines through its body, 
which are of peculiar beauty, mark the different expansions 
of its fibres, and are, I think, exactly the same as those which 
would be traced by the currents of a river entering a lake of 
the shape of the leaf, at the end where the stalk is, and pass- 
ing out at its point.' Curvature was one of the special 
subjects of Mr. Ruskin, the one he found most neglected by 
ordinary artists. TTie ' Alisma ' was a test of observation and 
draughtsmanship. He had never seen it so thoroughly or so 
well drawn, and heartily wished the study were his. 

Looking again at the other works of the school, he found 
that the one mistake in the ' Mariana ' was the only error in 
perspective in the whole series of pictures ; which could not 
be said of any twelve works, containing architecture, by 
popular artists in the exhibition ; and that, as studies both 
of drapery and of every other minor detail, there had been 
nothing in art so earnest or so complete as these pictures 
since the days of Albert Diirer. 

He went home, and wrote his verdict in a letter to the 
Times. After subsequent examination of Hunt's 'Two 


Gentlemen of Verona,' and Millais' 'Return of the Dove' 
he wrote again, pointing out beauties, and indications of 
power in concejjtion, and observation of Nature, and handling, 
where at first he, like the rest of the public, had been re- 
pelled by the wilful ugliness of the faces. Meanwhile the 
Pre-Raphaelites wrote to tell him that they were neither 
Papists nor Puseyites. The day after his second letter was 
published he received an ill-spelt missive, anonymously 
abusing them. This was the sort of thing to interest his 
love of poetical justice. He made the acquaintance of 
several of the Brethren. ' Charley ' Collins, as his friends 
affectionately called him, was the son of a respected R.A., 
and the brother of Wilkie Collins ; himself afterwards the 
author of a delightful book of travel in France, 'A Cruise 
upon Wheels.' Mr. Millais turned out to be the most 
gifted, charming and handsome of young artists. Mr. 
Holman Hunt was already a Ruskin-reader, and a seeker 
after truth, serious and earnest in his religious nature as in 
his painting. 

The Pre-Raphaelites were not, originally, Mr. Ruskin's 
pupils, nor was their movement, directly, of his creation. 
But it was the outcome of a general tendency which he, more 
than any man, had helped to set in motion ; and it was the 
fulfilment, though in a way he had not expected, of his 
wishes. His advice to go to Nature, selecting nothing, 
rejecting nothing and scorning nothing, had been offered to 
landscape students, and it had involved the acceptance of 
Turner as their great exemplar and ultimate standard. It 
was beginning to be accepted by many, but with timidity 
and modifications ; and, to indulge for a moment in the 
' might have been,' if the Pre-Raphaelite revolution had not 
happened, a school of modern landscape, naturalistic on the 
one hand, idealistic and poetical on the other, would probably 
have developed constitutionally, so to speak ; with Mr. Ruskin 
as its prophet and Turner as its forerunner, — a school which 
would have been as truly national as the great school of 
portraiture had been, and as representative in one direction 


of the spirit of the age, as the sixteenth-century Venetians in 
their own time. 

But history does not behave so reasonably. There are 
more wheels in the machine than we can count, ' cycle on 
epicycle,' not to hint at cometary orbits unknown to the 
almanac. The naturalistic movement, which had engaged 
Mr. Ruskin's whole attention at his start, was only one side 
of the nation's life. The other side was reactionary, leading 
to Tractarianism in some, in others to historical research, to 
Gothic revivals in architecture and painting and poetry ; in 
all cases betraying itself in the harking back to bygones, 
rather than in progressive modernism. The lower class of 
minds took one side or the other, and became merely radical 
and materialist, or Puseyite and romantic, as their sympathies 
led them. But the problem, to a thinker, was to mediate 
between these opposing tendencies ; to find the higher term 
that embraced them both; to unite the two aims without 

So Mr. Ruskin, who began as a naturalist, was met first 
by ancient Christian art, and spent his early manhood in 
dissolving the antithesis between modern English landscape- 
study, and the standpoint of Angelico. No sooner had he 
succeeded than a new element appeared — an element of life, 
as he perceived, and therefore necessary to accept — but at 
first sight irreconcilable with his arrangement of the world. 
So he brought it into his scheme, bit by bit : first the 
naturalism of the Pre-Raphaelites ; later on, their treatment 
of imaginative subjects. 

His attraction to Pre-Raphaelitism was none the less real 
because it was sudden, and brought about partly by the 
personal influence of his new allies. And in i-e-arranging his 
art-theory to take them in, he had before his mind rather 
what he hoped they would become than what they were. 
For a time, his influence over them was great; their first 
three years were their own ; their next three years were prac- 
tically his; and some of them, the weaker brethren, leant 
upon him until they lost the command of their own powers. 


No artist can afford to use another man's eyes; still less, 
another man's brain and heart. Mr. Ruskin, great as an 
exponent, was in no sense a master of artists; and if he 
cheered on the men who, he believed, were the best of the 
time, it did not follow that he should be saddled with the 
responsibility of directing them. 

The famous pamphlet on ' Pre-Raphaelitism ' of August 
1851 showed that the same motives of Sincerity impelled 
both the Pre-Raphaelite Brethren and Turner, and in a 
degree, men so different as Prout, old Hunt, and Lewis. All 
these were opposed to the Academical School who worked by 
rule of thumb ; and they differed among one another only in 
differences of physical power and moral aim. Which was all 
perfectly time, and much truer than the cheap criticism which 
could not see beyond superficial differences, or the fossil 
theories of the old school, defended in the pamphlet war by 
men like Rippingille.* But Pre-Raphaelitism was an un- 
stable compound, liable to explode upon the experimenter, 
and its component parts to return to their old antithesis of 
crude naturalism on the one hand, and affectation of piety or 
poetry or antiquarianism, on the other. And that their new 
champion did not then foresee. All he knew was that, just 
when he was sadly leaving the scene. Turner gone and night 
coming on, new lights arose. It was really far more note- 
worthy that Millais and Rossetti and Hunt were men of 
genius, than that the 'principles' they tried to illustrate 
were sound. Mr. Ruskin, always safe in his intuitions, 
divined their power, and generously applauded the dexterous 
troop in their unexpected Lampadephoria. 

Indirectly he found his reward. For like Socrates in the 
dialogue, by joining in the festival he found youths to 
discourse with, and with them gradually evolved his own 
Republic, the ideal of life which is his real contribution to 
human progress. ' What good have his writings done us ?' 
Hitherto they have been for our enjoyment; or, like the 
'Seven Lamps,' vague outcries; or, like the ' Sheepfolds,' 
* To whose paper Mr. Ruskin had formerly conlributed 


tentative ideals. In the later volumes of ' Stones of Venice 
we find distinct aims prefigured. 

Immediately after finishing the pamphlet on ' Pre- 
Raphaelitism,' he left for the Continent with his wife and 
friends, the Rev. and Mrs. Daniel Moore ; spent a fortnight 
in his beloved Savoy with the Pritchards ; and then crossed 
the Alps with Mr. Newton. On the first of September he 
was at Venice, for a final spell of labour on the palaces 
and churches. 

He settled at the Casa Wetzlar, Campo Sta. Maria 
Zobenigo, and one of his first visitors was Dean Milman. 
' I am amused at your mode of ciceronizing the Dean of 
St. Paul's,' wrote his father, who kept up the usual close 
correspondence, and made himself useful in looking up 
books of reference and consulting authorities like Mr. James 
Fergusson, — for these chapters of easy eloquence were not 
written without a world of pains. The engravers and the 
business department of the new publications also required his 
co-operation, for they were now becoming large ventures. 
During the three and a half years preceding the summer of 
1851 Mr. Ruskin seems to have spent ■£'1,680 of profits from 
his books, making by his wiitings at this period only about 
a third of his annual outlay ; so that the estimated cost of 
these great illustrated volumes, some ^£"1,200, was a matter 
of anxiety to his father, who, together with the publisher, 
deprecated large plates and technical details, and expressed 
some impatience to see results from this visit to Venice. He 
looked eagerly for every new chapter or drawing as it was 
sent home for criticism. Some passages, such as the descrip- 
tion of the Calle San Moise (' Stones of Venice,' II. iv.) were 
unfavourably received by him. Another time he says, ' You 
have a very great difficulty now in writing any more, which 
is to write up to yourself :' or again, — ' Smith reports slow 
sale of " Stones of Venice " (vol. I.) and " Pre-Raphaelitism." 
The times are sorely against you. The Exhibition has im- 
poverished the country, and literature of a saleable character 
seems chiefly confined to shilling books in green paper, to be 


had at railway-stations. Smith will have an account against 
us.' He alwa)'s sent adverse press-notices, on the principle 
that it was good for John : and every little discouragement 
or annoyance was discussed in full. 

The most serious news, threatening complete interruption 
of the work i-apidly progressing in spite of all, was of 
Turner's death (December 19, 1851). Old Mr. Ruskin heard 
of it on the 21st, a ' dismal day ' to him, spent in sad con- 
templation of the pictures his son had taught him to love. 
Soon it came out that John Ruskin was one of the executors 
named in the will, with a legacy of =£"20 for a mourn- 
ing ring : — ' Nobody can say you were paid to praise,' 
says his father. It was gossipped that he was expected to 
write Turner's biography, — ' five years' work for you,' says 
the old man, full of plans for gathering material. But when 
one scandal after another reached his ears, he changed his 
tone, and suggested dropping personal details, and giving a 
' Life of his Art ' in the intended third and final volume of 
' Modern Painters.' Something of the sort was done in the 
Edinburgh Lectures and at the close of vol. v. of ' Modem 
Painters ' : and the official life was left to Walter Thornbury, 
with which Mr. Ruskin perhaps did not wish to interfere. 
But he collected a mass of still unpublished material about 
Turner, which goes far to prove that the kindly view he took 
of the strange man's morbid and unhappy life was not with- 
out justification. At the time, so many legal complications 
developed that Mr. Ruskin was advised to resign his executor- 
ship ; later on he was able to fulfil its duties as he conceived 
them, in ari'anging Turner's sketches for the National Gallery. 

Others of his old artist-friends were now passing away. 
Early in January Mr. J. J. Ruskin called on William Hunt 
and found him feeble : ' I like the little Elshie,' he says, 
nicknaming him after the Black Dwarf, for Hunt was some- 
what deformed : ' he is softened and humanized. There is a 
gentleness and a greater bonhomie — less reserve. I had sent 
him " Pre-Raphaelitism." He had marked it very much with 
pencil. He greatly likes your notice of people not keeping 


to their last. So many clever artists, he says, have been 
ruined by not acting on your principles. I got a piece of 
advice from Hunt, — never to commission a picture. He 
could not have done my pigeon so well had he felt he was 
doing it for anybody.' The pigeon was a drawing he had 
just bought ; in later years at Brantwood. 

In February 1852 a dinner-party was given to celebrate 
in his absence John Ruskin's thirty-third birthday. ' On 
Monday, 9th, we had Oldfield, (Newton was in Wales,) 
Harrison, George Richmond, Tom, Dr. Grant, and Samuel 
Prout. The latter I never saw in such spirits, and he went 
away much satisfied. Yesterday at church we were told that 
he came home very happy, ascended to his painting -room, 
and in a quarter of an hour ii'om his leaving our cheei-ful 
house was a corpse, from apoplexy. He never spoke after 
the fit came on. He had always wished for a sudden death.' 

Next year, in November 1853, he tells of a visit paid, by 
John's request, to W. H. Deverell, the young Pre-Raphaelite, 
whom he found ' in squalor and sickness — with his Bible open 
— and not long to live — while Howard abuses his picture at 

Early in 1852 Charles Newton was going to Greece on a 
voyage of discovery, and wanted John Ruskin to go with 
him. But the pai-ents would not heax of his adventuring 
himself at sea ' in those engine-vessels.' ' Steam is infernal,' 
said the father of John Ruskin. ' Better have ships only 
with sails, machinery only with water-force, and carriages 
with horses. We went more slowly — so much the better ; 
what do we hurry for ? We neither gain more, nor enjoy 
more. We are neither richer nor happier. The country, 
except to those who live in it, — and to those, all of it except 
their own neighbourhood, is for ever lost. We see nothing 
of it : we do not even breathe pui-e air. Steam and hydrogen 
are the odoure of travellers from the engines, and we carry 
smoke with us to obscure the landscape.' So Newton went 
alone, and ' dug up loads of Phoenician antiquities.' 

One cannot help regretting that Mr. Ruskin lost this 


opportunity of familiarizing himself with the early Greek art 
which, twenty years later, he tried to expound. For the time 
he was well enough employed on the ' Stones of Venice.' He 
tells the story of his ten months'" stay in a letter to his 
venerable friend Rogers the poet, dated June 33 (1852). 

'I was out of health and out of heart when I first got 
here. There came much painful news from home, and then 
such a determined course of bad weather, and every other 
kind of annoyance, that I never was in a temper fit to write 
to anyone : the worst of it was that I lost all feelmg of 
Venice, and this was the reason both of my not writing to 
you and of my thinking of you so often. For whenever I 
found myself getting utterly hard and indiflFerent, I used to 
read over a little bit of the " Venice " in the " Italy," and it 
put me always into the right tone of thought again, and for 
this I cannot be enough grateful to you. For though I 
believe that in the summer, when Venice is indeed lovely, 
when pomegranate blossoms hang over every garden-wall, and 
green sunlight shoots through every wave, custom will not 
destroy, or even weaken, the impression conveyed at first ; it 
is far otherwise in the length and bitterness of the Venetian 
winters. Fighting with frosty winds at every turn of the 
canals takes* away all the old feeling of peace and stillness ; 
the protracted cold makes the dash of the water on the walls 
a sound of simple discomfort, and some wild and dark day 
in February one starts to find oneself actually balancing in 
one's mind the relative advantages of land and water can-iage, 
comparing the Canal with Piccadilly, and even hesitating 
whether for the rest of one's life one would rather have a 
gondola within call or a hansom. When I used to get into 
this humour I always had recourse to those lines of yours : — 

' " The sea is in the broad, the narrow streets, 
Ebbing and flowing,-" etc. ; 

and they did me good service for many a day ; but at last a 
time came when the sea was not in the narrow streets, and 
was always ebbing and not flowing; and one day, when I 
found just a foot and a half of muddy water left under the 
Bridge of Sighs, and ran aground in the Grand Canal as I 


was going home, I was obliged to give the canals up. I have 
never recovered the feeling of them.' 

He then goes on to lament the decay of Venice, the idle- 
ness and dissipation of the populace, the lottery gambling ; 
and to forebode the ' destruction of old buildings and erection 
of new ' changing the place ' into a modern town — a bad 
imitation of Paris.' Better than that he thinks would be 
utter neglect ; St. Mark's Place would again be, what it was 
in the early ages, a gi-een field, and the front of the Ducal 
Palace and the marble shafts of St. Mark's would be rooted 
in wild violets and wreathed with vines. ' She will be 
beautiful again then, and I could almost wish that the time 
might come quickly, were it not that so many noble pictures 
must be destroyed first. ... I love Venetian pictures more 
and more, and wonder at them every day with greater 
wonder ; compared with all other paintings they are so easy, 
so instinctive, so natural ; everything that the men of other 
schools did by rule and called composition, done here by 
instinct and only called truth. 

' I don't know when I have envied anybody more than I 
did the other day the directors and clerks of the Zecca. 
There they sit at inky deal desks, counting out rolls of 
money, and curiously weighing the irregular and battered 
coinage of which Venice boasts ; and just over their heads, 
occupying the place which in a London counting-house would 
be occupied by a commercial almanack, a glorious Bonifazio 
— 'Solomon and the Queen of Sheba' ; and in a less honour- 
able corner three old directors of the Zecca, very mercantile- 
looking men indeed, counting money also, like the living 
ones, only a little more living, painted by Tintoret ; not to 
speak of the scattered Palma Vecchios, and a lovely Benedetto 
Diana which no one ever looks at. I wonder when the 
European mind will again awake to the great fact that a 
noble picture was not painted to be hung; but to be seen ? 
I only saw these by accident, having been detained in Venice 
by some obliging person who abstracted some [of his wife's 
jewels] and brought me thereby into various relations with 
th* Jiesuectable body of people who live at the wrong end of 


the Bridge of Sighs — ^the police, whom, in spite of traditions 
of terror, I would very willingly have changed for some of 
those their predecessors whom you have honoured by a note 
in the " Italy." The present police appear to act on exactly 
contrary principles ; yours found the purse and banished the 
loser ; these dorCt find the jewels, and won't let me go away. 
I am afraid no punishment is appointed in Venetian law for 
people who steal tkne.'' 

Mr. Ruskin returned to England in July 1852, and 
settled next door to his old home on Heme Hill. He said 
he could not live any more in Park Street, with a dead brick 
wall opposite his windows. And so, under the roof where he 
wrote the first volume of 'Modern Painters,' he finished 
' Stones of Venice.' These later volumes give an account of 
St. Mark's and the Ducal Palace and other ancient buildings ; 
a complete catalogue of Tintoret's pictures, — ^the list he had 
begun in . 1845 ; and a history of the successive styles of 
architecture, Byzantine, Gothic, and Renaissance, inter- 
weaving illustrations of the human life and character that 
made the art what it was. 

The kernel of the work was the chapter on the Nature of 
Gothic; in which he showed, more distinctly than in the 
' Seven Lamps,' and connected with a wider range of thought, 
suggested by Pre-Raphaelitism, the great doctrine that art 
cannot be produced except by artists ; that architecture, in 
so far as it is an art, does not mean mechanical execution, by 
unintelligent workmen, from the vapid working-drawings of 
an architect's office ; and, just as Socrates postponed the day 
of justice until philosophers should be kings and kings 
philosophers, so Ruskin postponed the reign of art until 
workmen should be artists, and artists workmen. 

It was no idle dream. The day dawned early when that 
chapter ' on the Nature of Gothic ' was taken as the manifesto 
of Maurice and Kingsley's Working Men's College: and 
surely the sun had risen, when the same words were chosen 
for his loving adornment by our great art-craftsman, William 



' Let him go up into the public chair ; 
We'll hear him.' 

Julius Gcesar, 

BY the end of July 1853 ' Stones of Venice ' was finished, 
as well as a description of Giotto's works at Padua, 
written for the Arundel Society. The social duties of 
the season were over; and Mr. Ruskin took a cottage in 
Glenfinlas, where to spend a well-earned holiday. He 
invited Mr. Millais, by this time an intimate and heartily- 
admired friend,* to go down into Scotland with him for the 
summer's rest, — such rest as two men of energy and talent 
take, in the change of scene without giving up the habit of 
work. Mr. Ruskin devoted himself first to foreground 
studies, and made careful drawings of rock-detail ; and 
then, being asked to give a course of lectures before the 
Philosophical Society of Edinburgh, he was soon busy writing 
once more, and preparing the cartoon-sketches, ' diagrams ' 
as he calls them, to illustrate his subjects. Dr. Acland had 
joined the party ; and one day, in the ravine, it is said that 
he asked Millais to sketch their host as he stood contempla- 
tively on the rocks, with the torrent thundering beside him. 
The sketch was produced at a sitting ; and, with additional 

* ' What a beauty of a man he is !' wrote old Mr. Buskin, ' and high 
in intellect. . . . Millais' sketches are " prodigious " ! Millais is the 
painter of the age.' ' Capable, it seems to me, of almost everything, if his 
life and strength be spared,' said the younger Ruskin to Miss Mitford. 


work in the following winter, became the well-known portrait 
now at Oxford, in the possession of Sir Henry Acland, much 
the best likeness of this early period. 

Another portrait was painted — in words — by one of his 
audience at Edinburgh on November 1, when he gave the 
opening lecture of his course, his first appearance on the 
platform. The account is extracted from the Edinburgh 
(jMar^Ziflw of November 19, 1853 : 

' Before you can see the lecturer, however, you must get 
into the hall, and that is not an easy matter, for, long before 
the doors are opened, the fortunate holders of season tickets 
begin to assemble, so that the crowd not only fills the 
passage, but occupies the pavement in front of the entrance 
and overflows into the road. At length the doors open, and 
you are carried through the passage into the hall, where you 
take up, of course, the best available position for seeing and 
hearing. . . . After waiting a weary time . . . the door by 
the side of the platform opens, and a thin gentleman with 
light hair, a stiff white cravat, dark overcoat with velvet 
collar, walking, too, with a slight stoop, goes up to the desk, 
and looking round with a self-possessed and somewhat formal 
air, proceeds to take off his great-coat, revealing thereby, in 
addition to the orthodox white cravat, the most orthodox of 
white waistcoats. ... " Dark hair, pale face, and massive 
marble brow — that is my ideal of Mr. Ruskin," said a young 
lady near us. This proved to be quite a fancy portrait, as 
unlike the reality as could well be imagined. Mr. Ruskin 
has light sand-coloured hair ; his face is more red than pale ; 
the mouth well cut, with a good deal of decision in its curve, 
though somewhat wanting in sustained dignity and strength ; 
an aquiline nose ; his forehead by no means broad or 
massive, but the brows full and well bound together ; the 
eye we could not see, in consequence of the shadows that 
fell upon his countenance from the lights overhead, but 
we are sure that the poetry and passion we looked for 
almost in vain in other features must be concentrated there.* 

* ' Maxy Eussell Mitford found him as a young man " very eloquent 
and distinguished-looking, tall, fair, and slender, with a gentle play- 


After sitting for a moment or two, and glancing round at 
the sheets on the wall as he takes off his gloves, he rises, and 
leaning slightly over the desk, with his hands folded across, 
begins at once, — "You aie proud of youi- good city of 
Edinburgh," etc. 

' And now for the style of the lecture. Properly speaking, 
there were two styles essentially distinct, and not well blended, 
— a speaking and a writing style ; the former colloquial and 
spoken off-hand ; the latter rhetorical and carefully read in 
quite a different voice, — we had almost said intoned. . . . 
His elocution is peculiar ; he has a difficulty in sounding the 
letter "r"; and there is a peculiar tone in the rising and 
falling of his voice at measured intervals, in a way scarcely 
ever heard, except in the pubUc lection of the service 
appointed to be read in churches. These are the two things 
with which, perhaps, you are most sui-prised, — ^his dress and 
manner of speaking — both of which (the white waistcoat 
notwithstanding) are eminently clerical. You naturally ex- 
pect, in one so independent, a manner free from conventional 
restraint, and an utterance, whatever may be the power of 
voice, at least expressive of a strong individuality ; and you 
find instead a Christ Church man of ten years' standing, who 
has not yet taken orders; his dress and manner derived 
from his college tutor, and his elocution from the chapel- 

The lectures were a summing up, in popular form, of the 
chief topics of Mr. Ruskin's thought during the last two 
years. The first stated, with more decision and warmth 
than part of his audience approved, his plea for the Gothic 

fulness, and a sort of pretty waywardness that was quite charming." 
Sydney Dobell, again, in 1852, discovered an earnestness pervading 
every feature, giving power to a face that otherwise would be merely 
lovable for its gentleness. And, finally, one who visited him at 
Denmark Hill characterized him as emotional and nervous, with a soft, 
genial eye, a mouth " thin and severe," and a voice that, though rich 
and sweet, yet had a tendency to sink into a plaintive and hopeless tone. 
This is interesting enough, of course, but after all the man is in his 
books, not in his person.' — Literary World, May 19, 1893. 


Revival, for the use of Gotliic as a domestic style. He tried 
to show by the analogy of natural forms that the Gothic 
arch and gable were in themselves more beautiful, and more 
logical in construction, than the horizontal lintel and low 
pediment of the ordinary Renaissance-Classic then in vogue. 
The next lecture, given three days later, went on to contrast 
the wealth of ornament in mediaeval buildings with the poor 
survivals of conventionalized patterns which did duty for 
decoration in nineteenth-century ' Greek ' architecture ; and 
he raised a laugh by comparing a typical stonemason's lion 
with a real tiger's head, drawn in the Edinburgh zoological 
gardens by Mr. Millais. He showed how a gradual 
Gothicizing of the common dwelling-house was possible, by 
introducing a porch here and an oriel window there, piece by 
piece, as indeed had been done in Venice. And he pointed 
out that this kind of work would give opportunities for freer 
and more artistic workmanship ; it would be an education in 
itself, and raise the builder's man from a mere mechanical 
drudge into an intelligent and interested craftsman. 

The last two lectures, on November 15 and 18, were on 
Painting ; briefly reviewing the history of landscape and the 
life and aims of Turner; and finally. Christian art and 
Sincerity in imagination, which was now put forth as the 
guiding principle of Pre-Raphaelitism. 

Public opinion was violently divided over these lectures ; 
and they were the cause of much trouble at home. The fact 
of his lecturing at all aroused strong opposition from his 
friends and remonstrances from his parents. Before the 
event his mother wrote : ' I cannot reconcile myself to the 
thought of your bringing yourself personally before the world 
till you are somewhat older and stronger.' Afterwards, his 
father, while apologizing for the word 'degrading,' is dis- 
gusted at his exposing himself to such an interruption as 
occurred, and to newspaper comments and personal references. 
The notion of an ' itinerant lecturer ' scandalizes him. He 
hears from Harrison and Bolding that John is to lecture 
even at their very doors — in Camberwell. ' I see small bills 


up,' he wi'ites, ' with the lecturers' names ; among them 

Mr. who gets your old clothes !' And he bids him 

write to the committee that his parents object to his ful- 
filling the engagemenb. He postponed his lecture — for ten 
years;* but accepted the Presidency of the Camberwell 
Institute, which enabled him to appear at their meetings 
without offence to any. 

The printed Edinburgh lectures were fiercely assailed by 
the old school ; but little damage was done, except to their 
own cause, by writers who held, with the Athenaeum of that 
date, that the Middle Ages were characterized by canni- 
balism and obscenity ; and that Dante seldom drew an 
image from natui-e ; who, in the act of defending Greek art 
against Ruskin the Goth, had never heard of the important 
Stele of Ai'istion, known as ' The Soldier of Marathon ' ; 
who, as judges of modern art, found that ' water-colour 
painting can scarcely satisfy the mind craving for human 
action and human passion ' ; and objected to the painting of 
contemporary history because ' we have had enough of por- 
traits, and as for modern battles, they are mere affairs of 
smoke and feathers.' 

While staying at Edinburgh, Mr. Ruskin met the various 
celebrities of modern Athens, some of them at the table of 
his former fellow-traveller in Venice, Mrs. Jameson. One 
lifelong friendship was begun during this time, with Dr. 
John Brown, the author of ' Rab and his Friends ' and ' Pet 
Maijorie,' who met Mr. Ruskin at Sir Walter Trevelyan's, 
near Otterbum, and corresponded till his death in 1882, on 
terms of the greatest affection. 

The next May (1854<) the Pre-Raphaelites again needed 
his defence. Mr. Holman Hunt exhibited the ' Light of 
the World ' and the ' Awakening Conscience,' two pictures 
whose intention was misunderstood by the public, though as 
serious, as sincere, as the religious paintings of the Campo 
Santo of Pisa. Mr. Ruskin made them the theme of two 
more letters to the Times; mentioning, by the way, the 

* See Book III., chapter vi. 



'spurious imitations of Pre-Raphaelite work' which were 
already becoming common. And on starting for his summer 
tour on the Continent, he left a new pamphlet for publication 
on the opening of the Crystal Palace. There had been much 
rejoicing over the 'new style of architecture' in glass and 
iron, and its purpose as a palace of art. Mr. Ruskin who 
had declined, in the last chapter of the ' Seven Lamps,' to 
join in the cry for a new style, was not at all ready to accept 
this as any real artistic advance ; and took the opportunity 
to plead again for the great buildings of the past, which 
were being destroyed or neglected, while the British public 
was glorifying its gigantic greenhouse. The pamphlet prac- 
tically suggested the establishment of the Society for the 
preservation of ancient buildings, which has since come into 

This summer of 1854 he projected a study of Swiss history : 
to tell the tale of six chief towns — Geneva, Fribourg, Basle, 
Thun, Baden and SchafFhausen, to which in 1858 he added 
Rheinfelden and Bellinzona. He intended to illustrate the 
work with pictures of the places described. He began with 
his drawing of Thun, a large bird's-eye view of the town 
with its river and bridges, roofs and towers, all exquisitely 
defined with the pen, and broadly coloured in fluctuating 
tints that seem to melt always into the same aerial blue; 
the blue, high up the picture, beyond the plain, deepening 
into distant mountains. Suppose a Whistler etching and a 
Whistler colour-sketch combined upon one paper, and you 
form an idea of the style of this series ; except that Mr. 
Ruskin's work, being calculated for book-illustration, and 
not for decoration, can only be seen in the hand, and totally 
loses its effect by hanging — especially by exhibition hanging. 
But the delicate detail and studied use of the line are there, 
together with a calculated unity of effect and balance of 
colour which had noi, yet begun to degenerate into a 
mannered purple. 

But his father wanted to see ' Modem Painters ' completed ; 
and so he began his third volume at Vevey, with the dis- 


eussion of the grand style, in which he at last broke loose 
from Reynolds, as was inevitable, after his study of Pre- 
Raphaelitism, and all the varied experiences of the last ten 
years. The lesson of the Tulse Hill ivy had been brought 
home to him in many ways : he had found it to be more and 
more true that Nature is, after all, the criterion of art, and 
that the greatest painters were always those whose aim, so 
far as they were conscious of an aim, was to take fact for 
their starting-point. Idealism, beauty, imagination, and the 
rest, though necessary to art, could not, he felt, be made the 
object of study ; they were the gift of heredity, of circum- 
stances, of national aspirations and virtues ; not to be 
jnoduced by the best of rules, or achieved by the best of 

What his own view of his own work was can be gathered 
from a letter to an Edinburgh student, written on August 6, 
1854 : ' I am sure I never said anything to dissuade you from 
trying to excel or to do great things. I only wanted you 
to be sure that your efforts were made with a substantial 
basis, so that just in the moment of push your footing might 
not give way beneath you ; and also I wanted you to feel 
that long and steady effort made in a contented way does 
more than violent effort made from some strong motive and 
under some enthusiastic impulse. And I repeat — for of this 
I am perfectly sure — that the best things are only to be done 
in this way. It is very difficult thoroughly to understand 
the difference between indolence and reserve of strength, 
between apathy and severity, between palsy and patience ; 
but there is all the difference in the world; and nearly as 
many men are ruined by inconsiderate exertions as by idleness 
itself. To do as much as you can heartily and happily do 
each day in a well-determined direction, with a view to far- 
off results, with present enjoyment of one's work, is the only 
proper, the only essentially profitable way.' 

This habit of great industry not only enabled Mr. Ruskin 
to get through a vast amount of work, but it helped him 
over times of trouble, of which his readers and acquaintances, 


for the most part, had little idea. To them he appeared as 
one of those deities of Epicurus, sipping his nectar and 
hurling his thunderbolts, or, when it pleased him, showering 
the sunshine of his eloquence upon delighted crowds. He 
had wealth and fame, the society of wit and genius ; the 
delight of travel and intense appreciation of all the pleasures 
that travelling afforded. The fancy of the outside public 
pictured him in the possession of rare works of art, of 
admiring friends, of a beautiful wife. They did not know 
how the labour involved in his work and the drawback of 
constant ill - health made society distasteful to him and 
domestic life difficult. They did not see the disappointment 
and disillusioning of a young girl who found herself married 
to a man with whom she had nothing in common ; in habits 
of thought and life, even more than in years, her senior ; 
taking ' small notice, or austerely,' of the gayer world she 
preferred, ' his mind half-buried in some weightier argument, 
or fancy-borne perhaps upon the rise and long roll ' of his 
periods. And his readers and the public were intensely 
puzzled when she left him with apparent suddenness, and 
the separation ended in the annulment of the marriage. 



' Sighiug, I turned at last to win 
Once more tbe London dirt and din.' 


PHILANTHROPIC instincts, and a growing sense of the 
necessity for social reform, had led Mr. Ruskin for some 
years past towards a group of liberal thinkers with 
whom he had little otherwise in common. At Venice, in 
1852, he had written several articles on education, taxation, 
and so forth, with which he intended to plunge into active 
politics. His father, like a cautious man of business who 
knew his son's powers and thought he knew their limitations, 
was strongly opposed to this attempt, and used every argu- 
ment against it. He appealed to his son's sensitiveness, and 
assured him that he would be ' flayed ' unless he wrapped 
himself in the hide of a rhinoceros. He assiured him that, 
without being on the spot to follow the discussions of poli- 
ticians, it was useless to offer them any opinions whatsoever. 
And he ended by declaring that it would be the ruin of his 
business and of his peace of mind if the name of Ruskin 
were mixed up with Radical electioneering : not that he was 
unwilling to suffer martyrdom for a cause in which he believed, 
but he did not believe in the movements afoot, — neither the 
Tailors' Cooperative Society, in which their friend Mr. F. J. 
Fumivall was interested, nor in any outcome of Chartism or 
Chartist principles. And so for a time the matter dropped. 
In 1854, tlie Rev. F. D. Maurice founded the Worldng 


Men's College. Mr. Fmnivall (as he states in a letter to Mr. 
T. J. Wise, printed in 'Letters to William Ward,' 1893) 
sent the circulars to John Ruskin ; who thereupon wrote to 
Maurice,* and offered his services. At the opening lecture 
on October 30, 1854, at St. Martin's Hall, Longacre, Mr. 
Furnivall distributed to all comers a reprint of the chapter 
' On the Nature of Gothic,' which we have already noticed as 
a statement of the conclusions drawn from the study of art 
respecting the conditions under which the life of the work- 
man should be regulated. Mr. Ruskin thus appeared as 
contributing, so to say, the manifesto of the movement. 

He took charge from the commencement of the drawing- 
classes, — first at 31 Red Lion Square, and afterwards at Great 
Ormond Street ; also superintending classes taught by Messrs. 
Jeft'ery and E. Cooke at the Working Women's (afterwards 
the Working Men and Women's) College, Queen Square. 

Li this labour he had two allies ; one a friend of Maurice's, 
Mr. Lowes Dickinson, the well-known artist, whose portrait 
of Mamice was mentioned with honour* in the ' Notes on the 
Academy ' ; his portrait of Kingsley hangs in the hall of the 
novelist-professor's college at Cambridge. The other helper 
was a new friend of Mr. Ruskin's. 

To people who know him only as the elegant theorist of 
art, sentimental and egotistic, as they will have it, there must 
be something strange, almost irreconcilable, in his devotion, 
week after week and year after year, to these night-classes. 
Still more must it iastonish them to find the mystic author of 
the ' Blessed Damozel,' the passionate painter of the ' Venus 
Verticordia,' working by Ruskin's side in this rough navvy- 
labour of philanthropy. 

It was early in 1854 that a drawing of D. G. Rossetti was 
sent to Mr. Ruskin by a friend of the painter's. The critic 
already knew Millais and Hunt personally, but not Rossetti. 
He had scarcely noticed his works, as they were not exhibited 
at the Academy. Mr. Ruskin was just bringing out the 
Edinburgh Lectures in book form, and busy with the defence 
*With whom he had correspouded in 1851. See p. 124, 


of the Pre-Raphaelites. He wrote kindly, signing himself 
'yours respectfully,' which amused the young painter. He 
made acquaintance, and in the appendix to his book placed 
Rossetti's name with those of Millais and Hunt, especially 
praising their imaginative power, as rivalling that of the 
greatest of the old masters. 

He did more than this. He agreed to buy, up to a certain 
sum every yeai", any drawings that Rossetti brought him, at 
their market price ; and his standard of money -value for 
works of ai't has never been niggardly. This sort of help, 
the encouragement to work, is exactly what makes progress 
possible to a young and independent artist ; it is better for 
him than fortuitous exhibition triumphs — much better than 
the hack-work which many have to undertake, to eke out 
their livelihood. And the mere fact of -being bought by the 
eminent art-critic was enough to encourage other patrons. 

' He seems in a mood to make my fortune,' said Rossetti 
in the spring of 1854 ; and early in 1855 Mr. Ruskin wrote : — 
' It seems to me that, of all the painters I know, you on the 
whole have the greatest genius ; and you appear to me also 
to be — as far as I can make out — a very good sort of person. 
I see that you are unhappy, and that you can't bring out 
your genius as you should. It seems to me then the proper 
and necessary thing, if I can, to make you more happy ; and 
that I shall be more really useful in enabling you to paint 
properly, and keep your room in order, than in any other way.' 

He did his best to keep that room in order in every sense. 
Anxious to promote the painter's maniage with Miss Siddal — 
' Princess Ida,' as Mr. Ruskin called her, — he offered a similar 
ari-angement to that which he had made with Rossetti ; and 
began in 1855 to give her ^£"150 a year in exchange for 
drawings up to that value. Rossetti's poems also found a 
warm admirer and advocate. In 1856 'The Burden of 
Nineveh' was published anonymously in the Oaoford and 
Cambridge Magazine ; Mr. Ruskin wrote to Rossetti that it 
was ' glorious,' and that he wanted to know who was the 
author, — perhaps not without a suspicion that he was 


addressing the man who could tell. In 1861 he guaranteed, 
or advanced, the cost of ' The Early Italian Poets,' up to 
,£100, with Smith and Elder ; and endeavoured, but unsuc- 
cessfully, to induce Thackeray to find a place for other 
poems in The ComhUl Magazine. 

Mr. W. M. Rossetti, in his book on his brother 'as 
Designer and Writer ' and in ' His Family Letters ' draws a 
pleasant picture of the intimacy between the artist and the 
critic. ' At one time,' he says, ' I am sure they even loved 
one another.' But in 1865 Rossetti, never very tolerant of 
criticism and patronage, took in bad part his friend's remon- 
strances about the details of ' Venus Verticordia.' Mr. Ruskin, 
no doubt, wrote freely ; for their comradeship had seemed to 
warrant unreserved confidence and undisguised judgments. 
Eighteen months later, Mr. Ruskin tried to renew the old 
acquaintance. Rossetti did not return his call ; and farther 
efforts on Mr. Ruskin's part, up to 1870, met with little 
response. But the lecture on Rossetti in ' The Art of 
England ' shows that on one side at least ' their parting,' as 
Mr. W. M. Rossetti says, 'was not in anger;' and the portrait 
of 1861, now in the Oxford University Galleries, will remain as 
a memorial of the ten years' friendship of the two famous men. 

At Red Lion Square, during Lent term 1855, the three 
teachers worked together every Thursday evening. With 
the beginning of the third term, March 29, the increase of 
the class made it more convenient to divide their forces. 
Rossetti thenceforward taught the figure on another night 
of the week ; while the elementary and landscape class con- 
tinued to meet on Thursdays under Ruskin and Lowes 
Dickinson. In 1856 the elementary and landscape class was 
further divided, Mr. Dickinson taking Tuesday evenings, and 
Mr. Ruskin continuing the Thursday class, with the help of 
Mr. William Ward as under-master. Later on, Messrs. G. 
Allen, J. Bunney, and W. Jeffery were teachers. Mr. (later 
Sir Edward) Burne-Jones, met in 1856 at Rossetti's studio, 
was also pressed into the service for a time. 

There were four terms in the Working Men's College year, 


the only vacation, except for the fortnight at Christmas, 
being from the beginning of August to the end of October. 
Mr. Ruskin did not always attend throughout the summer 
term, though sometimes his class came down to him into the 
country to sketch. He kept up the work without other 
intermission until May 1858, after which the completion of 
' Modern Paintei-s ' and many lecture-engagements took him 
away for a time. In the spring of 1860 he was back at his 
old post for a term ; but after that he discontinued regular 
attendance, and went to the Working Men's College only at 
intervals, to give addresses or informal lectures to students 
and friends. On such occasions the ' drawing-room ^ or first 
floor of the house in which the College was held would be 
always crowded, with an audience who heard the lecturer at 
his best ; speaking freely among friends out of a full treasui-e- 
house 'things new and old' — accounts of recent travel, 
lately-discovered glories of art, and the growing burden of 
the prophecy that in those years was beginning to take more 
definite shape in his mind. 

As a teacher, Mr. Ruskin was most delightful. He spared 
no pains to make the work interesting. He provided — Mr. 
E. Cooke informs me that he was the first to provide — casts 
from natural leaves and fruit in place of the ordinary con- 
ventional ornament; and he sent a tree to be fixed in a 
corner of the class-room for light and shade studies. Mr. 
W. Ward in the preface to the volume of letters already 
quoted says that he used to bring his minerals and shells, 
and rare engravings and drawings, to show them. ' His 
delightful way of talking about these things afibrded us most 
valuable lessons. To give an example : he one evening took 
for his subject a cap, and with pen and ink showed us how 
Rembrandt would have etched, and Albert Diirer engraved 
it. This at once explained to us the different ideas and 
methods of the two masters. On another evening he would 
take a subject from Turner's "Liber Studiorum," and with a 
large sheet of paper and some charcoal, gradually block in 
the subject, explaining at the same time the value and effect 


of the lines and masses.'' And for sketching from nature he 
would take his class out into the country, and wind up with 
tea and talk. ' It was a treat to hear and see him with his 
men,' writes Dr. Fumivall. 

His object in the work, as he said before the Royal 
Commission on National Institutions, was not to make artists, 
but to make the workmen better men, to develop their 
powers and feelings, — to educate them, in short. He always 
has urged young people intending to study art as a pro- 
fession to enter the Academy Schools, as Turner and the 
Pre-Raphaelites did, or to take up whatever other serious 
course of practical discipline was open to them. But he 
held very strongly that everybody could learn drawing, that 
their eyes could be brightened and their hands steadied, and 
that they could be taught to appreciate the great works of 
nature and of art, without wanting to make pictm'es or to 
exhibit and sell them. 

It was with this intention that he wrote the ' Elements of 
Drawing ' in 1856, supplemented by the ' Elements of Per- 
spective ' in 1859 ; which, though out of chronological order, 
may be noticed here as an outcome of his teaching, and a 
type of it. The ' Elements of Drawing ' are taught in three 
letters addressed to the general amateur ; the first devoted to 
practice with the point and brush, suggesting various ways 
of making such drudgery interesting. The methods of 
Rembrandt's etching and Dlirer's woodcut and Turner's 
mezzotint are illustrated, and applied to naturalistic land- 
scape. In the next letter hints are given for sketching 
from Nature, especially showing the importance of matching 
colours, as students are now taught to do in the better 
schools. For the rest, the methods of old William Hunt 
are followed, in the use of body-colour and broken tints. 
Finally, the laws of Colour and Composition are analyzed — 
not for the sake of teaching how to colour and how to com- 
pose, but, as he says again and again, to lead to greater 
appreciation of good colour and good composition in the 
works of the masters. 


In spite of the repeated statement that the book was not 
intended to show a short cut to becoming an artist, it has 
often been misused and misunderstood; so much so, that 
after it had proved its popularity by a sale of 8,000, the 
author let it go out of print, intending to supersede it with 
a more carefully stated code of directions. But the new 
work, ' The Laws of Fesole,' was never finished ; and mean- 
while the ' Elements of Drawing ' remains, if not a standard 
text-book of art, yet a model of method and a type of 
object-lessons of the greatest value to those who wish to 
substitute a more natural, and more truly educational method 
for the old rigid learning by rote and routine. 

The illustrations for the book were characteristic sketches 
by the author, beautifully cut by his pupil, W. H. Hooper, 
who was one of a band of engravers and copyists formed by 
these classes at the Working Men's College. In spite of the 
intention not to make artists by his teaching, Mr. Ruskin 
could not prevent some of his pupils from taking up art as a 
profession ; and those who did so became, in their way, first- 
rate men. George Allen as a mezzotint engraver, Arthur 
Burgess as a draughtsman and wood-cutter, John Bunney as 
a painter of architectural detail, W. Jeffery as an artistic 
photographer, E. Cooke as a teacher, William Ward as a 
facsimile copyist, have all done work whose value deserves 
acknowledgment, all the more because it was not aimed at 
popular effect, but at the severe standard of the greater 
schools. But these men were only the side issue of the 
Working Men's College enterprise. Its real result was in 
the proof that the labouring classes could be interested in 
Art ; and that the capacity shown by the Gothic workman 
had not entirely died out of the nation, in spite of the 
interregnum, for a full century, of manufacture. And the 
experience led Mr. Ruskin forward to wider views on the 
nature of the arts, and on the duties of philanthropic effort 
and social economy. 



' Nor feared to follow, in the offence 
Of false opinion, his own sense 
Of justice unsabdued.' 

RoBEET, Lord Lytton. 

IT was in the year 1855 that Mr. Ruskin first published 
'Notes on the Royal Academy and other Exhibitions.' 
He had been so often called upon to write his opinion 
of Pre-Raphaelite pictures, either privately or to the news- 
papers, or to mark his friends' catalogues, that he found at 
last less trouble in printing his notes once for all. The 
new plan was immediately popular; three editions of the 
pamphlet were called for between June 1 and July 1. 
Next year he repeated the 'Notes' and six editions were 
sold; which indicated a great success in those times, when 
literature was not spread broadcast to the millions, as it is 
nowadays, and when the reading public was comparatively 

In spite of a dissentient voice here and there, Mr. Ruskin 
was really by that time recognised as the leading authority 
upon taste in painting. He was trusted by a great section 
of the public, who had not failed to notice how completely 
he and his friends were winning the day. The proof of it 
was in the fact that they were being imitated on all sides ; 
Ruskinism in writing and Pre-Raphaelitism in painting were 
becoming fashidnable. Many an artist, who had abused the 


new-fangled style three years ago, now did his best to learn 
the tiick of it and share the success. It seemed easy : you 
had only to exaggerate the colour and emphasise the detail, 
people tiiought, and you could ' do a Millais '; and if Millais 
sold, why shouldn't they ? And thus a great mass of imitative 
rubbish was produced, entirely wanting in the freshness of 
feeling and sincerity of conception which were the real virtues 
of the school. 

But at the same time the movement gave rise to a new 
method of landscape-painting, which was very much to 
Mr. Ruskin's mind ; not based on Turner, and therefore not 
secured from the failure that all experiments risk ; and yet 
safe in so far as it kept to honest study of nature. So that, 
beside the Pre-Raphaelites proper, with their poetic figure- 
pieces, the ' Notes on the Academy ' had to keep watch over 
the birth of the Naturalist-landscape school, a group of 
painters who threw overboard the traditions of Turner and 
Prout, and Constable and Harding, and the rest, just as the 
Pre-Raphaelite Brethren threw over the Academical masters. 
For such men then- study was their picture ; they devised 
tents and huts in wild glens and upon waste moors, and 
spent weeks in elaborating their details directly from nature, 
instead of painting at home from sketches on the spot. 

This was the fulfilment of Mr. Ruskin's advice to young 
artists ; and so far as young artists worked in this way, for 
purposes of study, he encouraged them. But he did not fail 
to point out that this was not all that could be required of 
them. Even such a work as Brett's ' Val d'Aosta,' marvellous 
as it was in observation and finish, was only the beginning of 
a new era, not its consummation. It was not the painting of 
detail that could make a great artist ; but the knowledge of 
it, and the masterly use of such knowledge. A great land- 
scapist would know the facts and effects of nature, just as 
Tintoret knew the form of the human figure ; and he would 
treat them with the same freedom, as the means of expressing 
great ideas, of affording by the imagination noble grounds 
for noble emotion, which, as Mr. Ruskin had been writing at 


Vevey in 1854, was poetry. Meanmhile the public and the 
critic ought to become familiar with the aspects of nature, in 
order to recognise the difference between the true poetry of 
painting, and the mere empty sentimentalism which was only 
the rant and bombast of landscape art. 

With such feelings as these he wrote the third and fourth 
volumes of ' Modern Painters.' The work was afterwards 
interrupted only by a recurrence of his old cough, in the 
exceptionally cold summer of 1855. He went down to 
Tunbridge Wells, where his cousin, William Richardson of 
Perth, was practising as a doctor ; it was not long before the 
cough gave way to treatment, and he was as busy as ever. 
About October of that year he wrote to Carlyle as follows, 
in a letter printed by Professon C. E. Norton, conveniently 
summing up his year : — 

' Not that I have not been busy — and very busy, too. I 
have written, since May, good six hundred pages, had them 
rewritten, cut up, corrected, and got fairly ready for press — 
and am going to press with the fii'st of them on Gunpowder 
Plot day, with a great hope of disturbing the Public Peace 
in various dii'ections. Also, I have prepared about thirty 
drawings for engravers this year, retouched the engravings 
(generally the worst part of the business), and etched some 
on steel myself. In the course of the six hundred pages I 
have had to make various remarks on German Metaphysics, 
on Poetry, Political Economy, Cookery, Music, Geology, 
Dress, Agriculture, Horticulture, and Navigation,* all of 
which subjects I have had to " read up " accordingly, and 
this takes time. Moreover, I have had my class of workmen 
out sketching every week in the fields during the summer; 
and have been studying Spanish proverbs with my father's 
partner, who came over from Spain to see the Great Ex- 
hibition. I have also designed and drawn a window for the 
Museum at Oxford ; and have every now and then had to 

* Moat of these subjects will be easily recognised in 'Modern 
Painters,' vols. iii. and iv. The 'Navigation' refers to the 'Harbours 
of England.' 


look over a parcel of five or six new designs for fronts and 
backs to the said Museum. 

'During my above-mentioned studies of horticulture, 1 
became dissatisfied with the Linnajan, Jussieuan, and Every- 
body -elseian arrangement of plants, and have accordingly 
an-anged a system of my own ; and unbound my botanical 
book, and rebound it in brighter green, with all the pages 
through-other, and backside foremost — so as to cut off all 
the old paging numerals ; and am now printing my new 
arrangement in a legible manner, on interleaved foolscap. I 
consider this arrangement one of my great achievements of 
the year. My studies of political economy have induced me 
to think also that nobody knows anything about that ; and 
I am at present engaged in an investigation, on independent 
principles, of the natures of money, rent, and taxes, in an 
abstract form, which sometimes keeps me awake all night. 
My studies of German metaphysics have also induced me to 
think that the Germans don't know anything about them ; 
and to engage in a serious enquiry into the meaning of 
Bunsen's great sentence in the beginning of the second volume 
of the " Hippolytus," about the Finite realization of Infinity; 
which has given me some trouble. 

' The course of my studies of Navigation necessitated my 
going to Deal to look at the Deal boats; and those of 
geology to rearrange all my minerals (and wash a good many, 
which, I am sorry to say, I found wanted it). I have also 
several pupils, far and near, in the art of illumination ; an 
American young lady to direct in the study of landscape 
painting, and a Yorkshire young lady to direct in the purchase 
of Turners, — and various little bye things besides. But I am 
coming to see you.' 

The tone of humorous exaggeration of his discoveries and 
occupations was very characteristic of Mr. Ruskin, and it was 
likely to be brought out all the more in writing to another 
humourist like Carlyle. But he was then growing into the 
habit of leaving the matter in hand as he often did after- 
wards, to follow side issues, and to take up new studies with a 


hasty and divided attention; the result of which was seen 
in his sub-title for the third volume of ' Modem Painters ' — 
' Of Many Things ' : which amused his readers not a little. 
But that he still had time for his friends is seen in the account 
of a visit to Denmark Hill, written this year by James 
Smetham, an artist who at one time promised to do great 
things. He was at any rate a singularly charming and 
interesting man, admired by Mr. Ruskin for his personal 
character, and known now by the volume of his published 
letters. He wrote : 

' I walked there through the wintry weather, and got in 
about dusk. One or two gossiping details will interest you 
before I give you what I care for ; and so I will tell you that 
he has a large house with a lodge, and a valet and footman 
and coachman, and grand rooms glittering with pictures, 
chiefly Turner's, and that his father and mother live with 
him, or he with them. . . . His father is a fine old gentleman, 
who has a lot of bushy gray hair, and eyebrows sticking up 
all rough and knowing, with a comfortable way of coming up 
to you with his hands in his pockets, and making you comfort- 
able, and saying, in answer to your remark, that " John's " 
prose works are pretty good. His mother is a ruddy, 
dignified, richly -dressed old gentlewoman of seventy -five, 
who knows Chamonix better than Camberwell ; evidently a 
good old lady, with the " Christian Treasury " tossing about 
on the table. She puts "John" down, and holds her own 
opinions, and flatly contradicts him ; and he receives all her 
opinions with a soft reverence and gentleness that is pleasant 
to witness. 

' I wish I could reproduce a good impression of " John " for 
you, to give you the notion of his " perfect gentleness and 
lowlihood." He certainly bursts out with a remark, and in a 
contradictious way, but only because he believes it, with no 
air of dogmatism or conceit. He is different at home from 
that which he is in a lecture before a mixed audience, and 
there is a spiritual sweetness in the half-timid expression of 
his eyes ; and in bowing to you, as in taking vidne, with (if I 


heai-d aright) " I drink to thee," he had a look that has 
followed me, a look bordering on tearful. 

'He spent some time in this way. Unhanging a Turner 
from the wall of a distant room, he brought it to the table 
and put it in my hands ; then we talked ; then he went up 
into his study to fetch do\vn some illustrative print or 
drawing ; in one case, a literal view which he had travelled 
fifty miles to make, in order to compare with the picture. 
And so he kept on gliding all over the house, hanging and 
unhanging, and stopping a few minutes to talk.' 

But it was not only from his mother that he could brook 
contradiction, and not only in conversation that he showed 
himself — contrary to the general opinion of him — amenable 
to correction, when it came from persons whom he could 
respect. And yet there were many with whom he had to 
deal who did not look at things in his light ; who took his 
criticism as personal attack, and resented it with a bitterness 
it did not deserve. There is a story told (but not by himself) 
about one of the ' Notes on the Academy,' which he was then 
publishing — ^how he wrote to an artist therein mentioned that 
he regretted he could not speak more favourably of his 
pictiu:e, but he hoped it would make no difference in their 
friendship. The artist replied (so they say) in these terms : 
'Dear Ruskin, — Next time I meet you, I shall knock you 
down ; but I hope it will make no difference in our friend- 
ship.'' ' Damn the fellow ! why doesn't he stand up for his 
friends?' said another disappointed acquaintance. Perhaps 
Mr. Ruskin, secm-e in his 'house with a lodge, and a valet 
and footman and coachman,' hardly realized that a cold word 
from his pen sometimes meant the failure of an important 
Academy picture, and serious loss of income — that there was 
bitter tmth underlying PuncKs complaint of the R. A. : — 

' I paiiits and paints. 
Hears no complaints, 

And sells before I'm dry ; 
Till savage Baskin 
Sticks his tusk in, 
And nobody wiU buy.' 


Against these incidents should be set such a fine anecdote 
as the following, told by Mr. J. J. Ruskin in a letter of 
June 3, 1858. 'Vokins wished me to name to you that 
Carrick, when he read your criticism on " Weary Life," came 
to him with the cheque Vokins had given, and said your 
remarks were all right, and that he could not take the price 
paid by Vokins the buyer; he would alter the picture. 
Vokins took back the money, only agreeing to see the 
picture when it was done,' 

As a public man, it was his duty to ' be just and fear not '; 
and, hard as it is to be just, when one looks over these ' Notes 
on the Academy ' at this safe distance of time, one is surprised 
to see with what shrewdness he put his finger upon the weak 
points of the various artists, and no less upon their strong 
points ; how many of the men he praised as beginners have 
since risen to eminence, how many he blamed have sunk 
from a specious popularity into oblivion. Contrast his career 
as a critic with that of other well-known men, the Jeffreys 
and the Giffords, not to mention writers of a later date; 
and note that his error was always to encourage too freely, 
not to discourage hastily. The men who laid their faihire 
to his account were the weaklings whom he urged to 
attempts beyond their powers, with kindly support, mis- 
construed into a prophecy of success. No article of his 
snuffed out a rising Keats, or drove a young Chatterton 
to suicide. And he never stabbed in the dark. 'Tout 
honnete homme doit avouer les livres qu'il publie,' says 
his proto-type Rousseau: and Mr. Ruskin, after publishing 
his first juvenile essays under a transparent pseudonym, 
always had the courage of his opinions and took the conse- 
quences of his criticisms. 

His relations with Carlyle show how far he was above the 
conceit of the ordinary clever man. The same comes out in 
his dealings with other of his friends, — for example, the 
Brownings. A letter from Mrs. Browning describes a visit 
to Denmark Hill, and ends, — ' I like Mr. Ruskin very much, 
and so does Robert : very gentle, yet earnest — refined and 


truthful. I like him very much. We count him one among 
the valuable acquaintances made this year in England.' This 
has been dated 1855 ; but Mr. Ruskin, writing to Miss 
Mitford from Glenfinlas 17th August 1853, says, ' I had the 
pleasure, this spring, of being made acquainted with your 
dear Elizabeth Browning, as well as with her husband. I 
was of course prepaied to like lier, but I did not expect to 
like him as much as I did. I think he is really a very fine 
fellow, and she is the only sensible woman I have yet met 
with on the subject of Italian politics. Evidently a noble 
creatm-e in all things.' In June 1850, Mr. Ruskin had met 
Robert Browning, on the invitation of Coventry Patmore, 
and said he liked him. ' He is the only pei-son whom I have 
ever heard talk rationally about the Italians, though on the 
Liberal side.' 

In these volumes of ' Modem Painters ' he had to discuss 
the Mediaeval and Renaissance spirit in its relation to ai-t, 
and to illustrate from Browning's poetry, ' unerring in every 
sentence he writes of the Middle Ages, always vital and right 
and profoxmd ; so that in the matter of art there is hardly a 
principle connected with the mediaeval temper that he has 
not struck upon in those seemingly careless and too rugged 
lines of his.' This was written twenty-five years before the 
Browning Society was heard of, and at a time when the style 
of Browning was an offence to most people. To Mr. Ruskin, 
also, it had been something of a puzzle ; and he wrote to the 
poet, asking him to explain himself ; which the poet accord- 
ingly did, in a letter too interesting to remain unprinted, 
showing as it does the candid intercom-se of two such 
di liferent minds. 

' Paris, 

'Dec. lath, '55. 

'My dear Ruskin, — for so you let me begin, with th<» 
honest friendliness that befits, — 

' You never were more in the wrong than when yov 
professed to say " your unpleasant things " to me. This is 
pleasant and proper at all points, over-liberal of praise here 


and there, kindly and sympathetic everywhere, and with 
enough of yourself in even — what I fancy — ^the misjudging, 
to make the whole letter precious indeed. I wanted to thank 
you thus much at once, — ^that is, when the letter reached me ; 
but the strife of lodging-hunting was too sore, and only now 
that I can sit down for a minute without self-reproach do I 
allow my thoughts to let go south-aspects, warm bedrooms, 
and the like, and begin as you see. For the deepnesses you 
think you discern, — ^may they be more than mere black- 
nesses ! For the hopes you entertain of what may come of 
subsequent readings, — all success to them ! For your bewil- 
derment more especially noted — how sha\\ I he\p that ? We 
don't read poetry the same way, by the same law ; it is too 
clear. I cannot begin writing poetry till my imaginary 
reader has conceded licences to me which you demur at 
altogether. I know that I don't make out my conception by 
my language, all poetry being a putting the infinite within 
the finite. You would have me paint it all plain out, 
which can't be ; but by various artifices I try to make shift 
with touches and bits of outlines which succeed if they bear 
the conception from me to you. You ought, I think, to 
keep pace with the thought tripping from ledge to ledge of 
my " glaciers," as you call them ; not stand poking your 
alpenstock into the holes, and demonstrating that no foot 
could have stood there ; — suppose it sprang over there ? In 
prose you may criticise so — because that is the absolute 
representation of portions of truth, what chronicling is to 
history — ^but in asking for more uUimates you must accept 
less mediates, nor expect that a Druid stone-circle will be 
traced for you with as few breaks to the eye as the North 
Crescent and South Crescent that go together so cleverly in 
many a suburb. Why, you look at my little song as if it 
were Hobbs' or Nobbs' lease of his house, or testament of his 
devisings, wherein, I grant you, not a " then and there," " to 
him and his heirs," " to have and to hold," and so on, would 
be superfluous ; and so you begin : — " Stand still, — why ?"* 

* Beferring to the poem, ' Stand still, true poet that you are,' with 
tbs line, ' And Hobbs, Nobbs, Stokes, and Nokes combine.' 


For the reason indicated in the verse, to be sure, — to let me 
draw him — and because he is at present going his way, and 
fancying nobody notices him, — and moreover, "going on" 
(as we say) against the injustice of that, — and lastly, inasmuch 
as one night he'll fail us, as a star is apt to drop out of 
heaven, in authentic astronomic records, and I want to make 
the most of my time. So much may be in "stand still." 
And how much more was (for instance) in that " stay !" of 
Samuel's (I. xv. 16). So could I twit you through the whole 
series of your objurgations, but the declaring my own notion 
of the law on the subject will do. And why, — I prithee, 
friend and fellow-student, — why, having told the Poet what 
you read, — may I not turn to the bystanders, and tell them 
a bit of my mind about their own stupid thanklessness and 
mistaking? Is the jump too much there.? The whole is all 
but a simultaneous feeling with me. 

' The other hard measure you deal me I won't bear — 
about my requiring you to pronounce words short and long, 
exactly as I like. Nay, but exactly as the language likes, in 
this case. Foldskirts not a trochee.-' A spondee possible 
in English.? Two of the "longest monosyllables" con- 
tinuing to be each of the whole length when in junction ? 
Sentence : let the delinquent be forced to supply the stone- 
cutter with a thousand companions to " Affliction sore — long 
time he bore," after the fashion of " He lost his life — by 
a penknife" — "He turned to clay — last Good Friday," 
" Departed hence — nor owed six-pence," and so on — so would 
pronoimce a jury accustomed from the nipple to say lord and 
landlord, bridge and Cambridge, Gog and Magog, man and 
woman, house and workhouse, coal and charcoal, cloth and 
broad-cloth, skirts and fold-skirts, more and once more, — 
in short ! Once mcrre I prayed ! — ^is the confession of a self- 
searching professor ! " I stand here for law !" 

' The last charge I cannot answer, for you may be right in 
preferring it, however unwitting I am of the fact. I may 
put Robert Browning into Pippa and other men and maids. 
If so, peccavi : but I don't see myself in them, at all events. 


' Do you think poetry was ever generally understood — or 
can be ? Is the business of it to tell people what they know 
already, as they know it, and so precisely that they shall be 
able to cry out — " Here you should supply this — that, you 
evidently pass over, and I'll help you from my own stock " ? 
It is all teaching, on the contrary, and the people hate to 
be taught. They say otherwise, — make foolish fables about 
Orpheus enchanting stocks and stones, poets standing up and 
being worshipped, — all nonsense and impossible dreaming. 
A poet's aifair is with God, — ^to whom he is accountable, and 
of whom is his reward ; look elsewhere, and you find misery 
enough. Do you believe people understand "Hamlet"? 
The last time I saw it acted, the heartiest applause of the 
night went to a little by-play of the actor's own — ^who, to 
simulate madness in a hurry, plucked forth his handkerchie 
and flourished it hither and thither : certainly a third of the 
play, with no end of noble things, had been (as from time 
immemorial) suppressed, with the auditory's amplest acqui- 
escence and benediction. Are these wasted, therefore ? No — 
they act upon a very few, who react upon the rest: as 
Goldsmith says, "some lords, my acquaintance, that settle 
the nation, are pleased to be kind." 

' Don't let me lose my lord by any seeming self-sufficiency 
or petulance: I look on my own shortcomings too sorrow- 
fully, try to remedy them too earnestly: but I shall never 
change my point of sight, or feel other than disconcei'ted 
and apprehensive when the public, critics and all, begin to 
understand and approve me. But what right have you to 
disconcert me in the other way ? Why won't you ask the 
next perfumer for a packet of orm-root ? Don't everybody 
know 'tis a corruption of iw-root — the Florentine lily, the 
giaffgolo, of world-wide fame as a good savour? And 
because "iris" means so many objects already, and I use 
the old word, you blame me ! But I write in the blind-dark, 
and bitter cold, and past post-time as I fear. Take my 
truest thanks, and understand at least this rough writing, 


and, at all events, the real affection with which I venture to 
regard you. And " I " means my wife as well as 

' Yours ever faithfully, 

'RoBEiiT Browning.' 

That Mr. Ruskin was open to conviction and conversion 
could be shown from the difference in his tone of thought 
about poetry before and after this period ; that he was the 
best of friends with the man who took him to task for 
narrowness, may be seen from the following letter, written 
on the next Chi-istmas Eve. 

' My dear Mr. Ruskin, — 

' Your note having just arrived, Robert deputes me 
to write for him while he dresses to go out on an engagement. 
It is the evening. All the hours are wasted, since the 
morning, through our not being found at the Rue de 
Grenelle, but here — and our instinct of self-preservation or 
self-satisfaction insists on our not losing a moment more by 
our own fault. 

' Thank you, thank you for sending us your book, and also 
for writing my husband's name in it. It will be the same 
thing as if you had written mine — except for the pleasure, as 
you say, which is greater so. How good and kind you are ! 

'And not well. That is worst. Surely you would be 
better if you had the summer in winter we have here. But 
I was to write only a word — Let it say how affectionately we 
regard you. 

'Elizabeth Barrett Browning. 

' 3, Ede du Colysee, 

' Thursday Evening, Mth ' (December, 1855). 

So it came true — 

' I've a rriend, over the sea ; 
I like him, but he loves me. 
It all grew out of the books I write. . . / 



'Pitch thy behaviour low, thy projects high.' 

George Hekbeet. 

THE humble work of the drawing -classes at Great 
Ormond Street was teaching Mr. Ruskin even more 
than he taught his pupils. It was showing him how 
far his plans were practicable ; how they should be modified ; 
how they might be improved ; and especially what more, 
beside drawing-classes, was needed to realize his ideal. It 
brought him into contact with imeducated men, and the 
seamy side of civilization, as it is usually thought to be — 
poverty and ignorance, and, most difficult of all to treat, the 
incompetence and the predestinated unsuccess of too many an 
ambitious nature. That was, after all, the great problem 
which was to occupy him ; but meanwhile he was anxiously 
willing to co-operate with every movement, to join hands 
with any kind of man, to go anywhere, do anything that 
might promote the cause he had at heart. 

Already at the end of 1854 he had given three lectures, 
his second course, at the Architectural Museum, specially 
addressed to workmen in the decorative trades. His subjects 
were design and colour, and his illustrations were chiefly 
drawn from mediaeval illumination, which he had long been 
studying. These were informal, quasi-private affairs, which 
nevertheless attracted notice owing to the celebrity of the 
speaker. It would have been better if his addresses had been 


carefully prepared and authentically published ; for a chance 
word here and there raised replies about matters of detail 
in which his critics thought they had gained a technical 
advantage, adding weight to his father's desire not to see him 
' expose himself in this way. There were no more lectures 
until the beginning of 1857. 

On January 23rd, 1857, he spoke before the Architectural 
Association upon ' The Influence of Imagination in Archi- 
tecture,' repeating and amplifying what he had said at Edin- 
burgh about the subordinate value of mere proportion, and 
the importance of sculptured ornament based on natural 
forms. This of course would involve the creation of a class 
of stone-carvers who could be trusted with the execution of 
such work. Once grant the value of it, and public demand 
would encourage the supply, and the workmen would raise 
themselves in the effort. 

A louder note was sounded in an address at the St. Martin's 
School of Art, Castle Street, Long Acre (April 2nd, 1857), 
where, speaking after George Cruikshank, his old friend — 
practically his first master — and an enthusiastic philanthropist 
and temperance advocate, Mr. Ruskin gave his audience a 
wider view of art than they had known before : ' the kind of 
painting they most wanted in London was painting cheeks 
red with health.' This was anticipating the standpoint of 
the Oxford Lectures, and showed how the inquiry was 
beginning to take a much broader £ispect. 

Another work in a similar spirit, the North London School 
of Design, had been prosperously started by a circle of men 
under Pre-Raphaelite influence, and led by Thomas Seddon. 
He had given up historical and poetic painting for naturalistic 
landscape, and had returned from the East with the most 
valuable studies completed, only to break down and die 
prematurely. His friends, among them Mr. Holman Himt, 
were collecting money to buy from the widow his pictui-e of 
Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, to present it to the 
National Gallery as a memorial of him ; and at a meeting for 
the purpose, Mr. Ruskin spoke warmly of his laboxu-s in the 


cause of the working classes. ' The blood of the martyrs is 
the seed of the Church,' said the early Christians, and this 
public recognition sealed the character of the Pre-Raphaelite 
philanthropic movement; though at what cost, the memoir 
of Thomas Seddon by his brother too amply proves. 

The next step in the propaganda was of a still more public 
nature. In the summer of 1857 the Art Treasures Exhibition 
was held at Manchester, and Mi-. Ruskin was invited to 
lecture. The theme he chose was ' The Political Economy 
of Art.' He had been studying political economy closely for 
some time back, but, as we saw from his letter to Carlyle, he 
had found no answer in the ordinary text -books for the 
questions he tried to put. He wanted to know what Bentham 
and Ricardo and Mill, the great authorities, would advise him 
as to the best way of employing artists, of educating work- 
men, of elevating public taste, of regulating patronage ; but 
these subjects were not in their programme. And so he put 
together his own thoughts into two lectures upon Art con- 
sidered as Wealth : first, how to get it ; next, how to use it.* 

He compared the body politic to a farm, of which the 
economy,' in the original sense, consisted, not in sparing, still 
less in standing by and criticising, but in active direction and 
management. He thought that the government of a state, 
like a good farmer or housekeeper, should not be content with 
laissezjuire, but should promote everything that was for the 
true interests of the state, and watch over all the industries 
and arts which make for civilization. It should undertake 
education, and be responsible for the employment of the 
artists and craftsmen it produced, giving them work upon 
public buildings, as the Venetian state used to do. Meantime 
he showed what an enlightened public might aim at, what 
their standards of patronage should be ; how, for example, 
each and all might help the cause by preferring artistic 
decorative work, in furniture and plate and dress, to the 

* July 10 and 13, 1857. He went to Manchester from Oxford, 
where he had been staying with the LiddeUs, writing euthnsiastically 
of the beauty of their children and the charm of their domestic life. 


mechanical products of inartistic manufacture; how they 
might help in preserving the great standard buildings and 
pictures of the past, not without advantages to their own 
art-production ; how they might deal directly with the artist 
rather than the dealer ; and serve the cause of education by 
placing works of art in schools. And he concluded by 
suggesting that the mediaeval guilds of craftsmen, if they 
could be re-established, would be of great service, especially 
:n substituting a spirit of cooperation for that of com- 

There were very few points in these lectures that were not 
vigorously contested at the moment, and conceded in the 
sequel, — ^in some form or other. The paternal function of 
government, the right of the state to interfere in matters 
beyond its traditional range, its duty with regard to educa- 
tion, — all this was quite contrary to the prevailing habits of 
thought of the time, especially at Manchester, the head- 
quarters of the laissezjhire school : but to Mr. Ruskin, who, 
cmiously enough, had just then been referring sarcastically to 
German philosophy, knowing it only at second-hand, and 
unaware of Hegel's political work, — ^to him this Platonic con- 
ception of the state was the only possible one, as it is to most 
people nowadays. In the same way, his practical advice has 
been axicepted, perhaps unwittingly, by our times. We do 
now understand the difference between artistic decoration and 
machine-made wares; we do now try to preserve ancient 
monuments, and to use art as a means of education. And 
we are in a fair way, it seems, of lowering the price of 
pictures, as he bids us, to ' not more than ^^500 for an oil 
picture and ,£100 for a water-colour.' 

Erom Manchester he went with his parents to Scotland; 
for his mother, now beginning to grow old, wanted to revisit 
the scenes of her youth. They went to the Highlands and 
as far north as the Bay of Cromarty, and then returned by 
way of the Abbeys of the Lowlands, to look up Turner sites, 
as he had done in 1845 on the St. Gothard. From the 
enjoyment of this holiday he was recalled to London by a 


letter from Mr. Wornum saying that he could arrange the 
Turner drawings at the National Gallery. 

Mr. Ruskin''s first letter on the National Gallery, in 1847, 
has been noticed. He had written again to the Times 
(Dec. 29th, 1852), pressing the same point — namely, that if 
the pictures were put under glass, no cleaning nor restoring 
would be needed ; and that the Gallery ought not to be con- 
sidered as a grand hall, decorated with pictures, but as a 
convenient museum, with a chronological sequence of the 
best works of all schools, — every picture hung on the line 
and accompanied by studies for it, if procurable, and en- 
gravings from it. 

Now, — in 1857, — question was raised of removing the 
National Gallery from Trafalgar Square. The South 
Kensington Museum was being formed, and the whole 
business of arranging the national art treasures was gone 
into by a Royal Commission, consisting of Lord Broughton 
(in the chair), Dean Milman, Prof. Faraday, Prof. Cockerell, 
and Mr. George Richmond. Mr. Ruskin was examined 
before them on April 6th, and re-stated the opinions he had 
written to the Times, adding that he would like to see two 
National Galleries, — one of popular interest, containing such 
works as would catch the public eye and enlist the sympathy 
of the untaught ; and another containing only the cream of 
the collections, in pictures, sculpture and the decorative 
crafts, arranged for purposes of study. This was suggested 
as an ideal ; of course, it would involve more outlay, and less 
display, than any Parliamentary vote would sanction, or 
party leader risk. 

Another question of importance was the disposal of the 
pictures and sketches which Turner had left to the nation. 
Mr. Ruskin was one of the executors under the will ; but, on 
finding that, though Turner's intention was plain, there were 
technical informalities which would make the administration 
anything but easy, he declined to act. It was not until 1856 
that the litigation was concluded, and Turner's pictures and 
sketches were handed to the Trustees of the National Gallery. 


Mr. Ruskin, whose want of legal knowledge had made his 
services useless before, now felt that he could carry out the 
spirit of Turners will by offering to arrange the sketches; 
which were in such a state of confusion that only some person 
with knowledge of the artist's habits of work and subjects 
could, so to speak, edit them ; and the editor would need no 
ordinary skill, patience and judgment, into the bargain. 

Meanwhile, for that winter (1856-7) a preliminary exhibi- 
tion was held of Turner's oil-paintings, with a few water- 
colom-s, at Marlborough House, then the headquarters of the 
Department of Science and Art, soon afterwards removed to 
South Kensington. Mr. Ruskin wrote a catalogue, with 
analysis of Turner's periods of development and character- 
istics ; which made the collection intelligible and interesting 
to curious sight-seers. They showed their appreciation by 
taking up five editions in rapid succession.* 

Just before lecturing at Manchester, he wrote again on 
the subject to the Times; and in September his friend 
R. N. Wornum, Director of the National Gallery in succes- 
sion to Eastlake and Uwins, wrote — as we saw — that he 
might arrange the sketches as he pleased. He returned 
from Scotland, and set to work on October 7th. 

It was strange employment for a man of his powers; 
almost as removed from the Epicurean Olympus of ' cultured 
ease ' popularly assigned to him, as night-school teaching and 
lecturing to workmen. But, beside that it was the carrying 
out of Turner's wishes, Mr. Ruskin always had a certain 
love for experimenting in manual toil ; and this was work in 
which his extreme neatness and deftness of hand was needed, 
no less than his knowledge and judgment. During the 
winter, for full six months, he and his two assistants worked, 
all day and every day, among the masses of precious rubbish 

* Up to 1857 Claude's name nearly always appears in the annual 
reports of the National Gallery among the ' pictures most frequently 
copied.' In that year Turner's pictures were exhibited. Claude thence- 
forth lost the favour of the copyists. Turner gained it at once, and has 
kept it ever since. 


that had been removed from Queen Anne Street to the 
National Gallery. 

Mr. J. J. Ruskin wrote, on February 19 and 21, 1852 : — 

'I have just been through Turner's house with Griffith. 
His labour is more astonishing than his genius. There are 
i&80,000 of oil pictures done and undone — Boxes half as big 
as your Study Table, filled with Drawings and Sketches. 
There are Copies of Liber Studiorum to fill all your Drawers 
and more, and House Walls of proof plates in Reams — they 
may go at 1/- each. . . . 

' Nothing since Pompeii so impressed me as the interior of 
Turner's house ; the accumulated dust of 40 years partially 
cleared off; Daylight for the first time admitted by opening 
a window on the finest productions of art buried for 40 years. 
The Drawing Room has, it is reckoned, ^^25,000 worth of 
proofs, and sketches, and Drawings, and Prints. It is amusing 
to hear Dealers saying there can be no Liber Studiomms — 
when I saw neatly packed and well labelled as many Bundles 
of Liber Studiorum as would fill your entire Bookcase, and 
England and Wales proofs in packed and labelled Bimdles 
like Reams of paper, as I told you, piled nearly to Ceiling . . . 

'The house must be dry as a Bone — the parcels were 
apparently quite uninjured. The very large pictures were 
spotted, but not much. They stood leaning one against 
another in the large low Rooms. Sovae finished go to Nation, 
many imfinished not: no frames. Two are given un- 
conditional of Gallery Building — very fine : if (and this is a 
condition) placed beside Claude. The style much like the 
laying on in Windmill Lock in Dealer's hands, which, now it 
is cleaned, comes out a real Beauty. I believe Turner loved 
it. The will desires all to be framed and repaired and put 
into the best showing state ; as if he could not release his 
money to do this till he was dead. The Top of his Gallery 
is one ruin of Glass and patches of paper, now only just 
made weather-proof . . . 

' I saw in Turner's Rooms, Geo. Morlamds and Wilsons and 
Claudes and portraits in various stiles all by Twner. He 


copied every man, was every man first, and took up his own 
style, casting all others away. It seems to me you may keep 
your money and revel for ever and for nothing among Turner's 

Turner used frequently to sketch on thin paper which he 
folded across and across for packing, or rolled in tight bundles 
to go into his pockets. When he got his sketches home, as 
they were only powr servir and of no value to any one but 
himself, they were crammed into drawers, anyhow, and left 
there, decade after decade. His sketch-books had rotted to 
pieces with the damp, their pages pressed together into 
mouldering masses. Soft chalk lay loose among the leaves, 
crushed into powder when the book was packed away. He 
economized his paper by covering both sides, and of course 
did not trouble to ' fix ' his sketches, still less to mount and 
frame them, as the proud amateur is careful to do. 

Among the quantities so recklessly thrown aside for dust, 
damp, soot, mice and worms to destroy — some 16,000 Mr. 
Ruskin reckoned at first, 19,000 later on — ^there were many 
fine drawings, which had been used by the engravers, and vast 
numbers of interesting and valuable studies in colour and in 
pencil. Four hundred of these were extricated from the 
chaos, and with infinite pains cleaned, flattened, mounted, 
dated and described, and placed in sliding frames in cabinets 
devised by Mr. Ruskin, or else in swivel frames, to let both 
sides of the paper be seen. The first results of the work 
were shown in an Exhibition at Marlborough House during 
the winter, for which Mr. Ruskin wrote another catalogue. 
Of the whole collection he began a more complete account, 
which was too elaborate to be finished in that form ; but in 
1881 he published a ' Catalogue of the Drawings and Sketches 
of J. M. W. Turner, R.A., at present exhibited in the 
National Gallery,' so that his plan was practically fulfilled. 

The collection — a monument of one great man's genius and 
another's patience — is still housed downstairs at Trafalgar 
Square, and it has never been so honourably viewed and so 
freely used as Mr. Ruskin once hoped. But in proportion 


to the means at the disposal of the powers that be, Turner 
is well treated. The sketches can at least be got at by those 
who know about them and care to study them, and many 
of the pictures are now better shown than formerly. The 
historical arrangement of the various schools, also, has been 
improved with every successive rehanging ; and the primitive 
masters, once neglected, have now almost the lion's share of 
the show. Such are Time's revenges. 

During 1858 Mr. Ruskin continued to lecture at various 
places on subjects connected with his Manchester addresses, — 
the relation of art to manufacture, and especially the de- 
pendence of all great architectural design upon sculpture or 
painting of organic form. The first of the series was given 
at the opening of the South Kensington Museum, January 
12th, 1858, entitled 'The Deteriorative Power of Con- 
ventitonal Art over Nations'; in which he showed that 
naturalism, as opposed to meaningless pattern-making, was 
always a sign of life. For example, the strength of the Greek, 
Florentine and Venetian art arose out of the search for truth, 
not, as it is often supposed, out of striving after an ideal of 
beauty ; and as soon as nature was superseded by recipe, the 
greatest schools hastened to their fall. From which he con- 
cluded that modem design should always be founded on 
natural form, rather than upon the traditional patterns of 
the east or of the mediaevals. 

On February 16th he spoke on 'The Work of Iron, in 
Nature, Art and Policy,' at Tunbridge Wells; a subject 
similar to that of his address to the St. Martin's School of 
the year before, but amplified into a plea for the use of 
wrought-iron ornament, as in the new Oxford Museum, then 

The Oxford Museum was an experiment in the true Gothic 
revival. There had been plenty of so-called Gothic archi- 
tecture ever since Horace Walpole ; but it had aimed rather 
at imitating the forms of the Middle Ages than at reviving 
the spirit. The architects at Oxford, Sir Thomas Deane and 
Mr. Woodward, had allowed their workmen to design parts 


of the detail, such as capitals and spandrils, quite in the 
spirit of Mr. Ruskin's teaching, and the work was accordingly 
of deep interest to him. So far back as April 1856, he had 
given an address to the men employed at the Museum, whom 
he met, on Dr. Acland's invitation, at the Workmen's Read- 
ing Rooms. He said that his object was not to give labouring 
men the chance of becoming masters of other labouring men, 
and to help the few at the expense of the many, but to lead 
them to those sources of pleasure, and power over their own 
minds and hands, that more educated people possess. He 
did not sympathize with the socialism that had been creeping 
into vogue since 1848. He thought existing social arrange- 
ments good, and he agreed with his friends, the Carlyles, who 
had found that it was only the incapable who could not get 
work. But it was the fault of the wealthy and educated that 
working people were not better trained ; it was not the work- 
ing-men's fault, at bottom. The modem architect used his 
workman as a mere tool ; while the Gothic spirit set him free 
as an original designer, to gain — not more wages and higher 
social rank, but pleasure and instruction, the true happiness 
that lies in good work well done. 

That was his view in those times. The Oxford Museum 
prospered, and Dr. Acland and he together wrote a small 
book, reporting its aims and progress in 1858 and 1859, 
illustrated with an engraving of one of the workmen's 
capitals. It was no secret, then, that the Museum was an 
experiment ; and, like all experiments, it left much to be 
desired; but it paved the way, on the one hand, to the 
general adoption of Gothic for domestic purposes, and on the 
other, to the recognition of a new class of men — the art- 

Parallel with this movement for educating the 'working- 
class ' there was the scheme for the improvement of middle- 
class education, which was then going on at Oxford — the 
beginning of University Extension — supported by the Rev. 
F. Temple (Archbishop of Canterbury), and Mr. (aftei-- 
wards Sir) Thomas Dyke Acland. Mr. Ruskin was heartily 


for them ; and in a letter on the subject, he tried to show 
how the teaching of Art might be made to work in with the 
scheme. He did not think that in this plan, any more than 
at the Working Men's College, there need be an attempt to 
teach drawing with a view to forming artists ; but there were 
three objects they might hold in view : the first, to give every 
student the advantage of the happiness and knowledge which 
the study of Art conveys ; the next, to enforce some know- 
ledge of Art amongst those who were likely to become 
patrons or critics ; and the last, to leave no Giotto lost among 
hill shepherds. The study of art-history he considered un- 
necessary to ordinary education, and too wide a subject to be 
treated in the usual curriculum of schools ; but the practice 
of drawing might go hand in hand with natural history, and 
the habit of looking at things with an artist's eye would be 
invaluable. He proposed a plan of studies, interweaving the 
art-lessons with every other department, instead of relegating 
them to a poor hour a week of idling or insubordination 
under a master who ranked with the drill-sergeant. Some- 
thing has been done, both by the delegates for local examina- 
tions (whom this movement created) and by the schools 
themselves, to improve the teaching of drawing ; but nothing 
like Mr. Ruskin's proposal has been attempted — simply 
because it would involve the employment of schoolmasters 
who could draw ; and the introduction of the object-lesson 
system into the higher forms. 

This intercourse with Oxford and willingness to help, 
even at the lower end of the ladder, is a pleasant episode 
in the life of a man struggling in the wider world against 
Academicism and the various fallacies of traditional creeds 
and cultures. That his work had won him a high place in 
the esteem of his college, is shown by their giving him the 
highest honour in their power. In 1858 ' Honorary Student- 
ships ' were created at Christ Church by the Commissioners' 
ordinances. At the first election ever held, Dec. 6, 1858, 
there were chosen for the compliment Mr. Ruskin, Mr. Glad- 


stone, Sir G. Comewall Lewis, Dr. (Sir) H. W. Acland, 
and Sir F. H. Gore Ouseley. At the second, Dec. 15, 1858, 
were elected Henry Hallam, the Earl of Stanhope, the Earl 
of Elgin, the Marquis of Dalhousie and Viscount Canning.* 
' Noscitur^ it is said, ' a sociis!' 

* From the Miuute-Book, found and kindly communicated by the 
Rev. E. L. Sampson, censor of Christ Church. 




' The best iu this kind are but shadows.' 

Midsummer Night's Dream. 

OXFORD and old friends did not monopolise Mr. Ruskin's 
attention: he was soon seen at Cambridge — on the 
same platform with Mr. Richard Redgrave, R.A., the 
representative of Academicism and officialism — at the opening 
of the School of Art for workmen on October 29th, 1858. 
His Inaugural Address struck a deeper note, a wider chord, 
than previous essays ; it was the forecast of the last volume 
of ' Modem Painters,' and it sketched the train of thought 
into which he had been led during his tour abroad, that 

The battles between faith and criticism, between the 
historical and the scientific attitudes, which had been going 
on in his mind, were taking a new form. At the outset, we 
saw, naturalism overpowered respect for tradition — in the 
first volume of 'Modem Painters'; then the historical 
tendency won the day, in the second volume. Since that 
time, the critical side had been gathering strength, by his 
alliance with liberal movements and by his gradual detach- 
ment from associations that held him to the older order 
of thought. And just as in his lonely journey of 1845 he 
first took independent ground upon questions of religion and 
social life, so in 1858, once more travelling alone, he was led 
by his meditations, — freed from the restraining presence of 


his parents, — to conclusions which he had been all these 
years evading, yet finding at last inevitable. 

He went abroad for a third attempt to write and illustrate 
his History of Swiss Towns. The drawings of the year 
were still in the style of fine pen-etching combined with 
broadly gradated and harmonious tints of colour ; or, when 
they were simply pen or pencil outlines, they were much 
more refined than those of ten years earlier. He spent May 
on the Upper Rhine between Basle and Schaff hausen, June in 
the neighbourhood of the Swiss Baden, July at Bellinzona. 
In reflecting over the sources of Swiss character, as connected 
with the question of the nature and origin of art in morality, 
he was struck with the fact that all the virtues of the Swiss 
did not make them artistic. Compared with most nations 
they were as children in painting, music and poetry. And, 
indeed, they ranked with the early phases of many great 
nations — the period of pristine simplicity 'uncorrupted by 
the arts.' 

From Bellinzona he went to Turin on his way to the 
Vaudois Valleys, where he meant to compare the Walden- 
sian Protestants with the Swiss. Accidentally he saw Paul 
Veronese's 'Queen of Sheba' and other Venetian pictures; 
and so fell to comparing a period of fully ripened art with 
one of artlessness ; discovering that the mature art, while it 
appeared at the same time with decay in morals, did not 
spring from that decay, but was rooted in the virtues of 
the earlier age. He grasped a clue to the puzzle, in the 
generalisation that Art is the product of human happiness ; 
it is contrary to asceticism ; it is the expression of pleasure. 
But when the turning point of national progress is once 
reached, and art is regarded as the laborious incitement to 
pleasure, — no longer the spontaneous blossom and fruit of it, 
— ^the decay sets in for art as for morality. Art, in short, is 
created hy pleasure, not^r pleasure. 

And so both the ascetics who refuse art are wrong, and 
the Epicureans who make it a means of pleasure-seeking ; the 
latter obviously and culpably, because in their hands it 


becomes rapidly degraded into a mere sensational or sensual 
stimulus, and loses its own finest qualities — ^technically as 
well as morally. But the ascetics are wrong, too ; because 
we cannot place ourselves at the fountain head again, and 
resume the pristine simplicity of nascent society. Such was 
the claim of the Modern Vaudois whom he had gone forth to 
bless as descendants of those ' slaughtered saints whose bones 
lay scattered on the Alpine mountains cold.' He found 
them keeping but the relics and grave clothes of a pure faith ; 
and that at the cost of abstention from all service to the 
struggling Italy of their time, — at the cost, too, of a flat 
refusal to reverence the best achievements of the past. No 
doubt there were exemplary persons among them; but the 
standard of thought, the attitude of mind, of the Walden- 
sians, Mr. Ruskin now perceived to be quite impossible for 
himself. He could not look upon every one outside their 
fold as heathens and publicans ; he could not believe that the 
pictures of Paul Veronese were works of iniquity, nor that 
the motives of great deeds in earlier ages were lying super- 
stitions. He took courage to own to himself and others that 
it was no longer any use trying to identify his point of view 
with that of Protestantism. He saw both Protestants and 
Roman Catholics, in the perspective of history, converging 
into a primitive, far distant, ideal unity of Christianity, in 
which he still believed ; but he could take neither side, after 

The first statement of the new point of view was, as we 
said, the Inaugural Lecture of the Cambridge School of Art. 
The next important utterance was at Manchester, Feb. 22nd, 
1859, where he spoke on the ' Unity of Art,' by which he 
meant — not the fraternity of handicrafts with painting, as 
the term is used nowadays — ^but that, in whatever branch of 
Art, the spirit of Truth or Sincerity is the same. In this 
lecture there is a very important passage showing how he 
had at last got upon firm ground in the question of art and 
morality : — ' / do not say in the least that in order to be a 
good painter you must be a good man ; but I do say that 


in order to be a good natural painter there must be strong 
elements of good in the mind, however warped by other parts 
of the character.' So emphatic a statement deserves more 
attention than it has received from readers and writers who 
assume to judge Mr. Ruskin's views after a slight acquaint- 
ance with his earlier works. He was well aware himself that 
his mind had been gradually enlarging, and his thoughts 
changing; and he soon saw as great a difference between 
himself at forty and at twenty-five, as he had formerly seen 
between the Boy poet and the Art critic. He became as 
anxious to forget his earlier great books, as he had been to 
forget his verse- writing ; and when he came to collect his 
' Works,' these lectures, under the title of ' The Two Paths,' 
were (with 'The Political Economy of Art') the earliest 
admitted into the library. 

After this Manchester lecture he took a driving tour in 
Yorkshire — posting in the old-fashioned way — halting at 
Bradford for the lecture on 'Modern Manufacture and 
Design ' (March 1) and ending with a visit to the school at 
Winnington, of which more in a later chapter. 

In 1859 the last Academy Notes, for the time being, 
were published. The Pre-Raphaelite cause had been fully 
successful, and the new school of naturalist landscape was 
rapidly asserting itself. Old friends were failing, such as 
Stanfield, Lewis, and Roberts: but new men were growing 
up, among whom Mr. Ruskin welcomed G. D. Leslie, 
F. Goodall, J. C. Hook, — who had come out of his 'Pre- 
Raphaelite measles' into the healthy naturalism of 'Luff 
Boy!' — Clarence Whaite, Henry Holiday, and John Brett, 
who showed the ' Val d'Aosta.' Mr. Millais' ' Vale of Rest ' 
was the picture which attracted most notice: something of 
the old rancour against the school was revived in the Mommg 
Herald, which called his works 'impertinences,' 'contemptible,' 
'indelible disgrace,' and so on. It was the beginning of a 
transition from the delicacy of the Pre-Raphaelite Millais to 
his later style ; and as such the preacher of ' All great art is 
delicate' could not entirely defend it. But the serious strength 


of the imagination and the power of the execution he praised 
with unexpected warmth. 

He then started on the last tour abroad with his parents. 
He had been asked, rather pointedly, by the National Gallery 
Commission, whether he had seen the great German museums, 
and had been obliged to reply that he had not. Perhaps it 
occurred to him or to his father that he ought to see the 
pictures at Berlin and Dresden and Munich, even though he 
heartily disliked the Germans with their art and their language 
and everything that belonged to them, — except Holbein and 
Diirer. By the end of July the travellers were in North 
Switzerland ; and they spent September in Savoy, returning 
home by October 7th. 

Old Mr. Ruskin was now in his seventy-fifth year ; and his 
desire was to see the great work finished before he died. 
There had been some attempt to write this last volume of 
' Modem Painters ' in the previous winter, but it had been 
put off until after the visit to Germany had completed 
Mr. Raskin's study of the great Venetian painters — especially 
Titian and Veronese. Now at last, in the autumn of 1859, 
he finally set to work on the writing. 

He had to do for Vegetation, Clouds, and Water, what 
Vol. IV. had done for Mountains : and also to treat of the 
laws of Composition. To do this on a scale corresponding 
with his foregoing work, would have needed four or five more 
volumes. As it was, the author dropped the section on 
Water, with promises of a book which he never wrote, and 
the rest was only sketched — somewhat ampler in detail than 
con-esponding parts of the ' Elements of Drawing,' but still 
inadequately and half-heartedly, as an artist would com- 
plete a work when the patron who commissioned it had died. 

The whole book had been simply the assertion of Turner's 
genius — ^plucky and necessary in the young man of 1843, but 
superfluous in 1860, when his main thesis was admitted, and 
his own interests, as well as the needs of a totally different 
period, had drifted far away from the original subject. 
Turner was long since dead ; his fame thoroughly vindicated ; 


his bequest to the nation dealt with, so far as possible. The 
Early Christian Art was recognised — almost beyond its 
claims; for Angelico and his circle, great as they were in 
their age, had begun to lead modern religious painters into 
affectation. The Pre - Raphael ites and naturalistic land- 
scapists no longer needed the hand which ' Modern Painters ' 
had held out to them by the way. Of the great triad of 
Venice, Tintoret had been expounded, Veronese and Titian 
were now taken up and treated with tardy, but ample 

And now, after twenty years of labour, Mr. Ruskin had 
established himself as the recognised leader of criticism and 
the exponent of painting and architecture. He had created 
a department of literature all his own, and adorned it with 
works of which the like had never been seen. He had 
enriched the art of England with examples of a new and 
beautiful draughtsmanship, and the language with passages 
of poetic description and eloquent declamation, quite, in 
their way, unrivalled. As a philosopher he had built up a 
theory of art, as yet uncontested ; and had treated both its 
abstract nature and its relations to human conduct and 
policy. As a historian, he had thrown new light on the 
Middle Ages and Renaissance, illustrating, in a way then 
novel, their chronicles by their remains. He had beaten 
down opposition, risen above detraction, and won the prize 
of honour — only to realise, as he received it, that the fight 
had been but a pastime tournament, after all ; and to hear, 
through the applause, the enemy's trumpet sounding to 
battle. For now, without the camp, there were realities to 
face ; as to Art — ' the best in this kind are but shadows.' 


EEB.MIT AND EEBETIO. (1860-1870.) 

' Hush I you must not speak about it yet, but I have made a great 
discovery. The fact is that the strongest man upon earth is he who 
stands most alone.' — Ibsen's Enemy of Society. 


•UNTO THIS LAST.' (1860-1861.) 

' He was forty before he talked of any mission from Heaven.' — The 
Hero as Prophet. 

' In this way he has lived till past forty ; old age is now in view of 
him, and the earnest portal of death and eternity.' — The Hero as King. 


AT forty years of age Mr. Ruskin finished 'Modern 
Painters,' and concluded the whole cycle of work by 
which he is popularly known as a writer on art. 
From that time art was sometimes his text, rarely his theme. 
He used it as the opportunity, the vehicle, so to say, for 
teachings of far wider range and deeper import; teachings 
about life as a whole, conclusions in ethics and economics 
and religion, to which he sought to lead others, as he was 
led, by the way of art. And in this later period, when he 
spoke of art in especial, the greater range of his inquiry 
naturally modified his aim and standpoint ; just as, in a vast 
wall-painting, the detail is viewed and treated otherwise than 
when it formed the subject of separate still-life studies. 
Some observers prefer the still-life; and indeed it may be 
good work. But the broad treatment is the greater. 

If we want to understand Mr. Ruskin, there is only one 
way of studying him; and that is to trace from point to 
point the growth of his mind. Now all those books, — 
'Modern Painters,' 'Stones of Venice,' 'Seven Lamps,' the 
earlier Lectures and Letters on Art, — are works of a young 
man, not yet forty ; that is to say, before the age at which 


most great authors, painters, aiid thinkers have done their 
best. They contain much that is valuable and much that is 
characteristic; but they are only the forecourt, not the 
presence-chamber. They lead to his final conclusions, but 
they do not express them. What the juvenile poems are to 
these works, they ai-e to the later works, — seedlings and 
saplings, so like and so unlike the full-grown plant. It is no 
use quarrelling with the author for not composing a con- 
sistent explanation of his views : though it would have been 
convenient for students ; who might as well wish that Plato 
had left them a handbook of his philosophy, or that Shakspere 
had appended notes to ' Hamlet.' 

During the time when he was preaching his later doctrines, 
Mr. Ruskin wished to suppress the interfering evidences of 
the earlier; not so much because they contained mistaken 
estimates and misleading statements, as because they betrayed 
a tone of thought which differed from the tone of his later 
period as much as a stained window differs from a Tintoret. 
He let his works on art run out of print, not for the benefit 
of second-hand booksellers, but in the hope that he could fix 
Ills audience upon the burden of his prophecy for the time 
being. But the youthful works were still read ; high prices 
were paid for them, or they were smuggled in fi'om America. 
And when the epoch of ' Fors ' had passed, he agreed to the 
reprinting of all that early material. He called it obsolete 
and trivial ; others find it interestingly biographical — ^perhaps 
even classical. 
^ But when we read articles professing to analyse his life- 
work, and find that they estimate his art-theory from a few 
passages in ' Modern Painters ' I. and II., obviously immature ; 
when, on the other hand, magazine-writers criticise, as axioms 
of his social science, without tracing their origin and import, 
the winged words with which he tried, in his failing powers 
and forlorn hopes, to arouse the dull conscience of a Philistine 
public ; when men of a different generation, an alien race, of 
traditions dissimilar and irreconcilable temperament, hastily 
sample his paragraphs as customs-ofiicers gauge a cargo ; we 


turn at last to the historical method, and ask whether these 
things should be so. And as a geologist, puzzled at some 
inversion of strata, Nature's paradox, yet, on accurately plot- 
ting it out upon his map or model, sees the fitness and 
necessity of the phenomenon; so, with the biographical 
scheme understood, the discrepancies and difficulties of 
Ruskin fall into their place and explain themselves. He at 
last stands revealed, and then can be appreciated, as we 
appreciate any other thinking, growing man, — say Plato, 
Titian, Goethe, — who has left a long life's work behind him. 

This year, then, 1860, the year of the Italian Kingdom, of 
Gaaibaldi, and of the beginning of the American war, marks 
his turning point, from the early work, summed up in the 
old ' Selections,' to the later work, which no one has yet 
thoroughly examined in print. 

Until he was forty, Mr. Ruskin was a writer on art ; after 
that his art was secondary to ethics. Until he was forty he 
was a believer in English Protestantism ; afterwards he could 
not reconcile current beliefs with the facts of life as he saw 
them, and had to reconstruct his creed from the foundations. 
Until he was forty he was a philanthropist, working heartily 
with others in a definite cause, and hoping for the amend- 
ment of wrongs, without a social upheaval. Even in the 
beginning of 1860, in his evidence before the House of 
Commons Select Committee on Public Institutions, he was 
ready with plans for amusing and instructing the labouring 
classes, and noting in them a 'thirsty desire' for improve- 
ment. But while his readiness to make any personal sacrifice, 
in the way of social and philanthropic experiment, and his 
interest in the question were increasing, he became less and 
less sanguine about the value of such efforts as the Working 
Men's College, and less and less ready to co-operate with 
others in their schemes. He began to see that no tinkering 
at social breakages was really worth while; that far more 
extensive repairs were needed to make the old ship sea- 

So he set himself, by himself, to sketch the plans for the 


repairs. Naturally sociable, and accustomed to the friendly 
give-and-take of a wide acquaintance, he withdrew from the 
busy world into a busier solitude. During the next few 
years he lived much alone among the Alps, or at home, 
thinking out the problem; sometimes feeling, far more 
acutely than was good for clear thought, the burden of the 
mission that was laid upon him. In March 1863 he wrote 
from his retreat at Momex to Mr. Norton : — ' The loneliness 
is very great, and the peace in which I am at present is only 
as if I had buried myself in a tuft of grass on a battlefield 
wet with blood — for the cry of the earth about me is in my 
ears continually, if I do not lay my head to the very ground.' 
And, a few months later: — 'I am still very imwell, and 
tormented between the longing for rest and lovely life, and 
the sense of this terrific call of human crime for resistance 
and of human misery for help, though it seems to me as the 
voice of a river of blood which can but sweep me down in 
the midst of its black clots, helpless.' 

Sentences like these, passages here and there in the last 
volume of ' Modern Painters,' and still more, certain passages 
omitted from that volume, show that about 1860 something 
of a cloud had been settling over him, — a sense of the evil of 
the world, a horror of great darkness. In his earlier years, 
his intense emotion and vivid imagination had enabled him 
to read into pictures of Tintoret or Turner, into scenes of 
nature and sayings of great books, a meaning or a moral 
which he so vividly communicated to the reader as to make 
it thenceforward part and parcel of the subject, however it 
came there to begin with. It is useless to wonder whether 
Turner, for instance, consciously meant what Ruskin found 
in his works. A great painter does not paint without 
thought, and such thought is apt to show itself whether he 
will or no. • But it needs a powerful sympathy to detect and 
describe the thought. And when that powerful sympathy 
was given to suffering, to wide-spread misery, to crying 
wrongs ; joined also with an intense passion for justice, which 
had already shown itself in the defence of slighted genius and 


neglected art ; and to the Celtic temperament of some high- 
strung seer and trance-prophesying bard ; it was no wonder 
that Mr. Ruskin became like one of the hermits of old, who 
retreated from the world to return upon it with stormy 
messages of awakening and flashes of truth more impressive, 
more illuminating than the logic of schoolmen and the state- 
craft of the wise. 

And then he began to take up an attitude of antagonism 
to the world, he who had been the kindly helper and minister 
of delightful art. He began to call upon those who had ears 
to hear to come out and be separate from the ease and 
hypocrisy of Vanity Fair. Its respectabilities, its orthodoxies, 
he could no longer abide. Orthodox religion, orthodox 
morals and politics, orthodox art and science, alike he 
rejected ; and was rejected by each of them as a brawler, a 
babbler, a fanatic, a heretic. And even when kindly Oxford 
gave him a quasi-academical position, it did not bring him, 
as it brings many a heretic, back to the fold. 

In this period of storm and stress he stood alone. The old 
friends of his youth were one by one passing away, if not from 
intercourse, still from full sympathy with him in his new 
mood. His parents were no longer the guides and com- 
panions they had been ; they did not understand the business 
he was about. And so he was left to new associates, for he 
could not live without some one to love, — ^that is the natvue 
of the man, however lonely in his work and wanderings. 

The new friends of this period were, at first, Americans ; 
as the chief new friends of his latest period (the Alexanders) 
were American, too. Mr. Charles Eliot Norton, after being 
introduced to him in London, met him again by accident on 
the Lake of Geneva — the story is prettily told in ' Praeterita.' 
And Mr. Ruskin adds, 'Norton saw all my weaknesses, 
measured all my narrownesses, and, from the first, took 
serenely, and as it seemed of necessity, a kind of paternal 
authority over me, and a right of guidance. ... I was 
entirely conscious of his rectorial power, and affectionately 
submissive to it, so that he might have done anything with 


me, but for the unhappy difference in our innate, and un- 
changeable, political faiths.' So, after all, he stood alone. 

Another friend about this time was Mrs. H. Beecher Stowe, 
to whom he wrote on June 18th, 1860, from Geneva : — ' It 
takes a great deal, when I am at Geneva, to make me wish 
myself anywhere else, and, of all places else, in London; 
nevertheless, I very heartily wish at this moment that I were 
looking out on the Norwood Hills, and were expecting you 
and the children to breakfast to-morrow. 

' I had very serious thoughts, when I received your note, of 
running home ; but I expected that very day an American 
friend, Mr. Stillman, who, I thought, would miss me more 
here than you in London, so I stayed. 

' What a dreadful thing it is that people should have to go 
to America again, after coming to Europe ! It seems to me 
an inversion of the order of nature. I think America is a 
sort of " United " States of Probation, out of which all wise 
people, being once delivered, and having obtained entrance 
into this better world, should never be expected to return* 
(sentence irremediably ungrammatical), particularly when they 
have been making themselves cruelly pleasant to friends here. 
My friend Norton, whom I met first on this very blue lake 
water, had no business to go back to Boston again, any more 
than you. . . . 

' So you have been seeing the Pope and all his Easter per- 
formances ! I congratulate you, for I suppose it is something 
like "Positively the last appearance on any stage." What 
was the use of thinking about him ? You should have had 
yoiu" own thoughts about what was to come after him. I 
don't mean that Roman Catholicism will die out so quickly. 
It will last pretty nearly as long as Protestantism, which 
keeps it up ; but I wonder what is to come next. That is 
the main question just now for everybody." 

Mr. Stillman had been a con-espondent about 1851, — 
'involved in mystical speculations, partly gi-owing out of 

* ' Good Americans when they die go to Paris.' — ' The Autocrat of the 
Breakfast Table,' quoting from Lewis Appleton, 


the second volume of " Modern Painters," ' as he says of him- 
self in an article on ' John Ruskin ' in the Century Magazine 
(January, 1888). He tells us that he wrote to the author 
for counsel, and quotes a long letter in which Mr. Ruskin 
advises ' on no account to agitate nor grieve yourself, nor 
look for inspirations — for assuredly many of our noblest 
English minds have been entirely overthrown by doing so 
— but go on doing what you are sure is quite right — that is, 
striving for constant purity of thought, purpose and word.' 

With Mr. Stillman he spent July and August of 1860 at 
Chamouni. He did but little drawing, and in the few 
sketches that remain of that summer there is evidence that 
his mind was far away from its old love of mountains and of 
streamlets. His lonely walks in the pinewoods of the Arveron 
were given to meditation on a great problem which had been 
set, as it seemed, for him to solve, ever since he had written 
that chapter on ' The Nature of Gothic' Now at last, in the 
solitude of the Alps, he could grapple with the questions he 
had raised ; and the outcome of the struggle was ' Unto this 

The year before, from Thun and Bonneville and Lausanne 
(August and September 1859) he had written letters to 
Mr. E. S. Dallas, suggested by the strikes in the London 
building trade. In these he appears to have sketched the 
outline of a new conception of social science, which he was 
now elaborating with more attempt at system and brevity 
than he had been accustomed to use. 

These new papers, painfully thought out and carefully set 
down in his room at the Hotel de I'Union, he used — as long 
before he read his daily chapter to the breakfast party at 
Heme Hill — to read to Mr. Stillman : and he sent them to 
the Cornhill Magazine, started the year before by Smith and 

* The title, quaintly but aptly hinting the gist of the work, was 
taken from the motto prefixed to the collected series : — ' Friend, I do 
thee no wrong. Didst not thou agree with me for a penny ? Take 
that thine is, and go thy way. I will give unto this last eveu as 
unto thee.' 


Elder. Mr. Ruskin had already contributed to it a paper on 
'Sir Joshua and Holbein,' a stray chapter from Vol. V., 
' Modern Painters.' His reputation as a writer and philan- 
thropist, together with the friendliness of editor and pub- 
lisher, secured the insertion of the first three, — from August 
to October. The editor then wrote to say that they were so 
unanimously condemned and disliked, that, with all apologies, 
he could only admit one more. The series was brought 
hastily to a conclusion in November : and the author, beaten 
back as he had never been beaten before, dropped the subject, 
and ' sulked,' so he called it, all the winter. 

It is pleasant to notice that neither Thackeray, the editor 
nor Smith, the publisher quarrelled with the author who had 
laid them open to the censure of their public, — nor he with 
them. On December 21st, he wrote to Thackeray, in answer, 
apparently, to a letter about lecturing for a charitable pur- 
pose : and continued : — * The mode in which you direct your 
charity puts me in mind of a matter that has lain long on my 
mind, though I never have had the time or face to talk to 
you of it. In somebody's drawing-room, ages ago, you were 
speaking accidentally of M. de Marvy.* I expressed my 
great obligation to him ; on which you said that I could 
prove my gratitude, if I chose, to his widow, — ^which choice 
I then not accepting, have ever since remembered the circum- 
stance as one peculiarly likely to add, so far as it went, to the 
general impression on your mind of the hoUowness of people's 
sayings and hardness of their hearts. 

' The fact is, I give what I give almost in an opposite way 
to yours. I think there are many people who will relieve 
hopeless distress for one who will help at a hopeful pinch ; 
and when I have the choice I nearly always give where I 
think the money will be fruitful rather than merely helpful. 
I would lecture for a school when I would not for a distressed 
author; and would have helped De Marvy "to perfect his 

* Louis Marvy, an engraver, and political refugee after the French 
EeTolution of 1848. He produced the plates, and Thackeray the text, 
of ' Landscape Painters of England, in a series of steel engravings, with 
short Notices.' 


invention, but not — unless I had no other object — his widow 
after he was gone. In a word, I like to prop the falling more 
than to feed the fallen.' 

The winter passed without any great undertakings. Mr. 
G. F. Watts proposed to add Mr. Ruskin's portrait to his 
gallery of celebrities ; but he was in no mood to sit. Rossetti 
did, however, sketch him this year. In March he presented a 
series of Turner drawings to Oxford, and another set of 
twenty-five to Cambridge. The address of thanks with the 
great seal of Oxford University is dated March 23rd, 1861 ; 
the Catalogue of the Cambridge collection is dated May 28th. 

During this month he paid a visit to Winnington, and 
some time in the early part of the year went to Ireland as the 
guest of friends in county Kildare. 

On April 2nd he addressed the St. George's Mission 
Working Men's Institute, and shortly afterwards, though at 
this time in a much enfeebled state of health, gave a lecture 
before 'a most brilliant audience,' as the London Review 
reported, at the Royal Institution (April 19th, 1861). 
Carlyle wrote to his brother John : — ' Friday last I was 
persuaded — in fact had inwardly compelled myself as it were 
— to a lecture of Ruskin's at the Institution, Albemarle 
Street. Lecture on Tree Leaves as physiological, pictorial, 
moral, symbolical objects. A crammed house, but tolerable 
even to me in the gallery. The lectiu:e was thought to 
" break down," and indeed it quite did " as a lecture " ; but 
only did from embarraa de richesses — a rare case. Ruskin did 
blow asunder as by gunpowder explosions his leaf notions, 
which were manifold, curious, genial ; and in fact, I do not 
recollect to have heard in that place any neatest thing I liked 
so well as this chaotic one.' 

Papers on 'Illuminated Manuscripts' (read before the 
Society of Antiquaries on June 6th) and on ' The Preserva- 
tion of Ancient Buildings ' (read to the Ecclesiological Society 
a fortnight later) show that old interests were not wholly 
forgotten, even in the stress of new pursuits, by this man of 
many-sided activity. 


•MUNERA PULVERIS.' (1861-1862.) 

' Nor kind nor coinage buys 
Aught above its rate ; 
, Fear, Craft and Avarice 

Cannot rear a State.' 


IT is not every traveller nowadays who knows the Saleve. 
One goes through the Alps too quickly to linger 
among the foothills, and a mere three thousand feet of 
crag above the plain does not stop the way to aiguilles and 
glaciers. But the tourist of the future, after seeing Voltaire's 
Femex in the morning, will perhaps pick his way among the 
fields beyond Carouge and through the gorge of Monnetier, 
or drive on his pilgrimage by Annemasse round the Petit 
Saleve, to another shrine at Mornex. There, two thousand 
feet above sea-level, basking in the morning sun, and looking 
always over the broad valley of the Arve at Mont Blanc and 
its panorama, are country retreats of the modem Genevese, 
beneath the old mother-castle ' of Savoy ': and there, with its 
shady little garden and rustic summer-house, is the chalet, or 
cottage ornie, where Mr. Ruskin went into hermitage, and 
wrote his ' Political Economy.' You can enter, now : it is a 
place of public entertainment ; and in the cool, broad- 
windowed dining-room, you can drink a glass to the memory. 
His retreat is described in one of his letters home : — 

' My dearest Mother, 

'This ought to arrive on the evening before your 
birthday : it is not possible to reach you in the morning, 


not even by telegraph as I once did from Mont Cenis, for— 
(and may Heaven be devoutly thanked therefore)— there are 
yet on Mont Saleve neither rails nor wires. 

' The place I have got to is at the end of all carriage-roads, 
and I am not yet strong enough to get farther, on foot, than 
a five or six miles' circle, within which is assuredly no house 
to my mind. I cast, at first, somewhat longing eyes on a 
true Savoyard chateau— notable for its lovely garden and 
orchard— and its unspoiled, unrestored, arched gateway 
between two round turrets, and Gothic - windowed keep. 
But on examination— finding the walls, though six feet 
thick, rent to the foundation— and as cold as rocks, and the 
floors all sodden through with walnut oil and rotten-apple 
juice— heaps of the farm stores having been left to decay in 
the ci-devant drawing room, I gave up all mediaeval ideas, 
for which the long-legged black pigs who lived like gentle- 
men at ease in the passage, and the bats and spiders who 
divided between them the comers of the turret-stair, have 
reason — if they knew it — ^to be thankful. 

'The worst of it is that I never had the gift, nor have I 
now the energy, to make anything of a place ; so that I shall 
have to put up with almost anything I can find that is 
healthily habitable in a good situation. Meantime, the air 
here being delicious and the rooms good enough for use and 
comfort, I am not troubling myself much, but trying to put 
myself into better health and humour; in which I have 
already a little succeeded.' 

After describing the flowers of the Saleve he continues : 

' My Father would be quite wild at the " view " from the 
garden teirace — but he would be disgusted at the shut in 
feeling of the house, which is in fact as much shut in as our 
old Heme Hill one ; only to get the " view " I have but to 
go as far down the garden as to our old " mulberry tree." 
By the way there's a magnificent mulberry tree, as big as a 
common walnut, covered with black and red fruit on the 
other side of the road. Coutet and Allen are very anxious 


to do all they can now that Crawley is away ; and I don't 
think I shall manage very badly,' etc. 

Of his lonely rambles, he wrote later on : — 

• Keswick, 

' 16<A August, 1867. 

'The letter I have sent to Joanna to-day will seem a 
strange answer to your hope " that I have always some one 
with me on my mountain rambles " — but that would be quite 
impossible. If I have a definite point to reach, and common 
work to do at it — ^I take people — anybody — with me ; but all 
my best mental work is necessarily done alone; whenever I 
wanted to think, in Savoy, I used to leave Coutet at home. 
Constantly I have been alone on the Glacier des Bois — and 
far among the loneliest aiguille recesses. I found the path 
up the Brezon above Bonneville in a lonely walk one Sunday ; 
I saw the grandest view of the Alps of Savoy I ever gained, 
on the 2nd of January, 1862, alone among the snow wreaths 
on the summit of the Saleve. You need not fear for me on 
" Langdale Pikes " after that ; humanly speaking I have never 
the least fear on these lonely walks — I always think them the 
safest — for as I never do anything foolhardy, nor without 
carefid examination of what I am about, I have always, even 
in my naughtiest times, felt that I should be taken care of, 
and that — ^though if I was to suffer any accident, it might 
come, of course, at any time — yet it was more likely to come 
when I had people with me, than when I was alone. 

'And, in mere paltry and arithmetical calculation of 
danger, I assure you there is more, nowadays, in a walk in 
and out of London — from possible explosion of all sorts of 
diabolical machines and compositions, with which its shops 
and back streets are filled — ^than in twenty climbings of the 
craggiest peaks in Cumberland. 

'I have however been very shy of the hogs which are a 
new acquaintance to me, and of which I had heard awful 
stories — usually I have gone a good way round, to avoid 
them. But that hot day, whether I would or no, I couldn't 


get from one pike of Langdale to the other without crossing 
one. I examined it carefully — and I am sure all the bog- 
stories about these mountain bogs are nonsense : it was as 
sound brown earth under the squashy grass as anybody need 
wish to walk on — though, of course, in a dark night — one 
might have tumbled into pools, as one might on Clapham 
Common into a horsepond.' 

After a winter among the Alps, including a short stay at 
Lucerne, hearing that the Turner drawings in the National 
Gallery had been mildewed, he ran home to see about them 
in February 1862 ; and was kept until the end of May. He 
found that his political economy work was not such a total 
failure as it had seemed. Mr. Froude, then editor of Fraser's 
Magazine, thought there was something in it, and would give 
him another chance. So, by way of a fresh start, he had his 
four Comhill articles published in book form ; and almost 
simultaneously, in June 1862 the first of the new series 

The author had then returned to Lucerne ; and he soon 
crossed the St. Gothard to Milan, where he tried to forget 
the harrowing of hell in a close study of Luini, and in 
copying the ' St. Catherine ' now at Oxford. Mr. Ruskin has 
never said so much about Luini as, perhaps, he intended. A 
short notice in the ' Cestus of Aglaia,' and occasional refer- 
ences scattered up and down his later works, hardly give the 
prominence in his writings that the painter held in his 

He re-crossed the Alps, and settled to his work on political 
economy at Mornex, where he spent the winter except for a 
short run home, which gave him the opportunity of addressing 
the Working Men's College on November 29. 

In September the second article appeared in Fraser. 
•Only a genius like Mr. Ruskin could have produced such 
hopeless rubbish,' says a newspaper of the period. Far worse 
than any newspaper criticism was the condemnation of 
Denmark Hill. His father, whose eyes had glistened over 


early poems and prose eloquence, strongly disapproved of this 
heretical economy. It was a bitter thing that his son should 
become prodigal of a hardly earned reputation, and be 
pointed at for a fool. And it was intensely painful for a son 
' who had never given his father a pang that could be avoided,' 
as old Mr. Ruskin had once written, to find his father, with 
one foot in the grave, turning against him. In December the 
third paper appeared. History repeated itself, — as usual, 
with variations. This time not only the public but the 
publisher interfered; and with the fourth paper the heretic 
was gagged. A year after, his father died ; and these Fraser 
articles were laid aside until the end of 1871, when they were 
taken up again, and published on New Year's Day 1872, as 
' Munera Pulveris.' 

It is hardly necessary here, and now, to discuss or to defend 
Mr. Ruskin's protest against the political economy of the old 
school. Step by step it has won its way to audience, and, in 
most quarters, to approval of the main theses it advanced. 
And even if it be said that the victory was gained in disguise, 
— for other men have entered into his labours and restated 
his ideas, — the fact remains that we owe the larger hope and 
kindlier authority of what was once the ' dismal science ' to the 
daring pioneer- work of ' Unto this Last' and ' Munera Pulveris.' 

From the outset, Mr. Ruskin was not without supporters. 
Carlyle wrote on June 30, 1862 : — ' I have read, a month ago, 
your First in Fraser, and ever since have had a wish to say 
to it and you, Euge, macte nova virtute. I approved in every 
particular ; calm, definite, clear ; rising into the sphere of 
Plato (our almost best), wh** in exchange for the sphere of 
Macculloch, Mill and Co. is a mighty improvement ! Since 
that, I have seen the little green book, too ; reprint of your 
CornhiU operations, — about f of wh** was read to me {Jcnown 
only from what the contradict" of sinners had told me of it) : 
— in every part of wh** I find a high and noble sort of truth, 
not one doctrine that I can intrinsically dissent from, or 
count other than salutary in the extreme, and pressingly 
needed in EngP above all.' 


Ersl le of Linlathen wrote to Carlyle, 7 August 1862 :— 
' I am thankful for any unveiling of the so-called science of 
political economy, according to which, avowed selfishness is 
the Rule of the World. It is indeed most important preach- 
ing — to preach that there is not one God for religion and 
another God for human fellowship — and another God for 
buying and selling — that pestilent polytheism has been 
largely and confidently preached in our time, and blessed are 
those who can detect its mendacities, and help to disenchant 
the brethren of their power. 

' I feel much self-condemnation on reading this little book 
— not that it declares what I did not know before, as to every 
man's duty to every man — and I can only wish the writer 
increased light and increased power, to carry on his good 
work.' [Then, referring to the cataract which was threaten- 
ing him with blindness, he adds — ] ' The little book is 
valuable on its own account, and coming from you, it is 
doubly so.' 

Mr. J. A. Froude, then editor of Fraser, and to his dying 
day Mr. Ruskin's intimate and affectionate friend, wrote to 
him on October 24 (1862 .?)— ' The world talks of the article 
in its usual way. I was at Carlyle's last night. . . . He said 
that in writing to your father as to subject he had told him 
that when Solomon's temple was building it was credibly re- 
ported that at least 10,000 sparrows sitting on the trees round 
declared that it was entirely wrong — quite contrary to received 
opinion — hopelessly condemned by public opinion, etc. Never- 
theless it got finished and the sparrows flew away and began 
to chirp in the same note about something else,' 


' In delectu autem narrationum et experimentorum melius hominibna 
cavisse uos arbitramur quam qui adhuc in historia naturali veraati sunt.' 
—Bacon, Inst. Magna. 

OUR hermit among the Alps of Savoy differed in one 
respect from his predecessors. They, for the most 
part, saw nothing in the rocks and stones around them 
except the prison walls of their seclusion ; he could not be 
within constant sight of the mountains without watching 
them and thinking over them, and the wonders of their 
scenery and structure. And it was well for him that it 
could be so. The terrible depression of mind which his social 
and philanthropic work had brought on, found a relief in the 
renewal of his old mountain-worship. After sending off the 
last of his Fraser papers, in which, when the verdict had 
twice gone against him, he tried to show cause why sentence 
should not be passed, the strain was at its severest. He felt, 
as few others not directly interested felt, the sufferings of the 
outcast in English slums and Savoyard hovels ; and heard the 
cry of the oppressed in Poland and in Italy : and he had been 
silenced. What could he do but, as he said in the letters to 
Mr. Norton, ' lay his head to the very ground,' and try to 
forget it all among the stones and the snows ? 

He wandered about geologizing, and spent a while at 
Talloires on the Lake of Annecy, where the old Abbey had 
been turned into an inn, and one slept in a monk's cell and 


meditated in the cloister of the monastery, St. Bernard of 
Menthon's memory haunting the place, and St. Germain's 
cave close by in the rocks above. About the end of May 
Mr. Ruskin came back to England, and was invited to lecture 
again at the Royal Institution. The subject he chose was 
' The Stratified Alps of Savoy.' 

At that time many distinguished foreign geologists were 
working at the Alps ; but little of conclusive importance 
had been published, except in papers embedded in Trans- 
actions of various societies. Professor Alphonse Favre's 
gi'eat work did not appear until 1867, and the ' Mechanismus 
der Gebirgsbildung ' of Professor Heim not till 1878 ; so that 
for an English public the subject was a fresh one. To Mr. 
Ruskin it was familiar : he had been elected a Fellow of the 
Geological Society in 1840, at the age of twenty-one; he 
had worked through Savoy with his Saussure in hand nearly 
thirty years before, and, many a time since that, had spent 
the intervals of literary business in rambling and climbing 
with the hammer and note-book. Indeed, on all his travels 
and even on his usual afternoon walks he was accustomed to 
keep his eyes open for the geology of any neighbourhood he 
was in ; and his servant regularly carried a bag for specimens, 
which rarely came home empty. The note-books of the 
'Modern Painters' period contain infinite memoranda and 
diagrammatic sketches, of which a very small fraction have 
been used. In the field he had compared Studer's meagre 
sections, and consulted the available authorities on physical 
geology, though he had never entered upon the more popular 
sister-science of palaeontology. He left the determination of 
strata to specialists : his interest was fixed on the structure of 
mountains — the relation of geology to scenery; a question 
upon which he had some right to be heard, as knowing more 
about scenery than most geologists, and more about geology 
than most artists. His dissent from orthodox opinions was 
not the mere blunder of an ill-informed amateur ; it was a 
protest against the adoption of certain views which had 
become fashionable, owing chiefly to the popularity of the 


men who had propounded them. Parallel with the state- 
religion in England there has been a state-science; the 
prestige of the science-bishops has been no doubt as wisely 
used as that of the church-bishops : it has certainly prevailed 
with their own inferior clergy and laity in much the same 
way. Mr. Ruskin, who had been the admirer and to some 
extent the personal pupil of several of the leading geologists 
of the last generation, questioned the infallibility of the more 
recent school, and now, as the Journal de Geneve reported, ' la 
foule se pressait dans les salles de 1' Institut royale de Londres, 
pour entendre la lecture des fragments d'un ouvrage scien- 
tifique, dont I'auteur compte parmi les ecrivains les plus 
estim^s de I'Angleterre. M. Ruskin s'est fait connaitre 
depuis longtemps par des publications remarquables sur Tart 
en g^n^ral et la peinture en particulier, mais il se pr^sentait 
cette fois k son auditoire sous un nouveau jour. C'^tait 
le geologue que Ton venait entendre, et I'dvdnement a 
prouve qu'il n'etait point infdrieur au litterateur et au 

The main object of this lecture was to draw attention to a 
series of mountain forms which could not have been produced 
merely by erosion, conditioned as they are by internal struc- 
ture and original elevation;* and to protest against the 
extravagant application of the glacier-theories then coming 
into vogue. In this, also, he was doing pioneer work : for the 
views of 1863 have gradually undergone very considerable 
modification, in the direction which Mr. Ruskin then 
endeavoured to indicate. 

As examples of Savoy mountains this lecture described in 
detail the Salfeve, on which he had been living for two winters, 
and the Brezon, the top of which he had tried to buy from 
the commune of Bonneville — one of his many plans for settling 
among the Alps. The commune thought he had found a 
gold-mine up there, and raised the price out of all reason. 
Other attempts to make a home in the chateaux or chalets of 

* Described in farther detail in 'The Limestone Alps of Savoy': 
supplementary volume to ' Deuoalion.' 


Savoy were foiled, or abandoned, like his earlier idea to live in 
Venice. But his scrambles on the Saleve led him to hesitate 
in accepting the explanation given by Alphonse Favre of the 
cm-ious north-west face of steeply inclined vertical slabs, 
M'hich he suspected to be created by cleavage, on the analogy 
of other Jinassic precipices. The Brezon — brisarit, breaking- 
wave — he took as t\'pe of the billowy form of limestone Alps 
in general, and his analysis of it was serviceable and substan- 
tially correct. 

This lecture was followed in 1864 by desultory correspond- 
ence with Mr. Jukes and others in the Reader, in which he 
merely restated his conclusions, too slightly to convince. 
Had he devoted himself to a thorough examination of the 
subject — but this is in the region of what might have been. 
He was more seriously engaged in other pursuits, of more 
immediate importance. Three days after his lecture he was 
being examined before the Royal Academy Commi^ion, and 
after a short summer visit to various friends in the north of 
England, he set out again for the Alps, partly to study the 
geology of Chamouni and North Switzerland, partly to con- 
tinue his drawings of Swiss towns at Baden and LaufFenburg, 
with his pupil John Bunney. But even there the biuden of 
his real mission could not be shaken off, and though again 
seeking health and a quiet mind, he could not quite keep 
silence, but wrote letters to English newspapers on the 
depreciation of gold (repeating his theory of currency"), and 
on the wrongs of Poland and Italy; and he put together 
more papers, never published, in continuation of his ' Mimera 

But this desultory habit, by which Mr. Ruskin''s strength 
was broken up into many channels, — ^while it prevented his 
doing any one great work with convincing thoroughness in 
his later period, — was not by any means an imbalanced mis- 
fortune. It is quite impossible for a man who has no feeling 
for art and no interest in science to regard life as a whole, — 
especially modem life : and this !Mr. Buskin was better fitted 
than any of his contemporaries to do. 


[n the last century, Samuel Johnson, great thinker as he 
was, found his influence decisively limited by his ignorance of 
the arts, and his consequent inability to take into his purview 
a whole range of emotions, activities and influences which are 
really important in the sphere of ethics, as motives of action 
and indices of character. So in this century, Johnson's spiritual 
successor, Carlyle, from a similar lack of sympathy with art 
and an indolence in acquiring even the radiments of physical 
science, — from a certain want of ear for poetry* and eye for 
nature, — was left short-handed, short-sighted, in many an 
enterprise. In framing an ideal of life he is narrow, ascetic, 
rude, as compared with the wider and more refined culture of 
a Ruskin. 

Something of this contempt for scientific facts and theories 
which he had never faced, and easy admission of mysteries he 
cared not to solve, is traceable in a letter written soon after 
the period we have been describing, and in sequel to the 
Savoy Alps discussion. I print it, with a few others of his, 
from the originals, as illustrating the intercourse of our British 
Elijah with his Elisha. Since about 1850, Carlyle had been 
gradually becoming more and more friendly with Mr. Ruskin ; 
and now that this social and economical work had been taken 
up, he began to have a real esteem for him, though always 
with a patronizing tone, which the younger man's open and 
confessed discipleship accepted and encouraged. This letter 
especially shows both men in an unaccustomed light : Ruskin, 
hating tobacco, sends his ' master ' cigars ; Carlyle, hating 
cant, replies rather in the tone of the temperance advocate, 
taking a little wine for his stomach's sake : — 

' Chelsea, 
' Dear Ruskin, ' 22 Fehv, 1865. 

' You have sent me a munificent Box of Cigars ; for 
wh*^ what can I say in ans' ? It makes me both sad and glad. 
Ay de mi. 

* As proved by his line — 'And weave for God the garment thou 
seest Him by,'— if proof be needed. It is not suggested that he did not 
find, and admirably illustrate, the ethical interest of poetry. 


" We are sucb stuff, 
Gone with a puff — 
Then think, and smoke Tobacco !" 

' The AVife also has had her Flowers ; and a letter wh'' has 
charmed the female mind. You forgot only the first chapter 
of " Aglaia " ; — don't forget ; and be a good boy for the 

' The Geology Book wasn't Jukes ; I found it again in the 
Magazine, — reviewed there : " Phillips,"* is there such a name ? 
It has ag" escaped me. I have a notion to come out actually 
some day soon ; and take a serious Lecture from you on what 
you i-eally know, and can give me some intelligible outline 
of, ab' the Rocks, — bones of our poor old Mother ; wh*" have 
always been venerable and strange to me. Next to nothing 
of rational could I ever leam of the subject. That of a 
central fire, and molten sea, on wh'' all mountains, continents, 
and strata are spread floating like so many hides of leather, 
knocks in vain for admittance into me these forty years • 
who of mortals can really believe such a thing ! And that, 
in descending into mines, these geological gent" find them- 
selves approaching sensibly their central fire by the sensible 
and undeniable increase of temperature as they step down, 
romid after round, — has sdways appeared to argue a length 
of ear on the part of those gent", wh*" is the real miracle of 
the phenomenon. Alas, alas : we are dreadful ignoramuses 
all of us ! — ^Ans' nothing ; but don't be surprised if I turn up 
some day. 

' Yours ever 

'T. Carlyle.' 

* ' Jukes,' — Mr. J. B. Jukes, F.E.S., with whom Mr. Buskin had 
been discussing in the Reader. ' Phillips,' the Oxford Professor of 
Geology, and a friend of Mr, Euskin's. 




' Wherefore we ought alle women to obeye 
In al goodnesse : I can no more saye.' 


WIDER aims and weaker health had not put an end 
to Mr. Ruskin's connection with the Working Men's 
College, though he did not now teach a drawing-class 
regularly. He had, as he said, ' the satisfaction of knowing 
that they had very good masters in Messrs. Lowes Dickinson, 
Jeffery and Cave Thomas,' and his work was elsewhere. He 
was to have lectured there on December 19th, 1863; but 
he did not reach home until about Christmas; better than 
he had been; and ready to give the promised address on 
January 30th, 1864. Beside which he used to visit the 
place occasionally of an evening to take note of progress, and 
some of his pupils were now more directly under his care. 

This more than ten years' connection with a very practical 
work of education must not be forgotten when we try to 
estimate his ideals of culture and social arrangements, which 
hasty readers are apt to suppose the table-talk of an arm- 
chair philosopher. So energetic a man, one who spent no 
time in the ordinary recreations of life — more the pity, 
ultimately, for his own usefulness and happiness in later 
periods — so busy a mind, found opportunity for many occu- 
pations. And he does not deserve to be rated as a dilettante 
or a visionary simply because other folk cannot imagine how 
he managed to do more work than they. 


It was fi'om one of these visits to the College, on 
Februai-y 27th, that he returned, past midnight, and found 
his father waiting up for him, to read some letters he had 
written. Next morning the old man, close upon seventy- 
nine yeai-s of age, was struck with his last illness ; and died 
on the 3i"d of March. He was buried at Shirley Church, 
near Addington, in Surrey, not far from Ci'oydon ; eind the 
legend on his tomb records : ' He was an entirely honest 
merchant, and his memory is to all who keep it deaj- and 
helpful. His son, whom he loved to the uttermost, and 
taught to speak truth, says this of him.' 

Mr. John James Ruskin, like many other of our successful 
merchants, had been an open-handed patron of art, and a 
cheerful giver, not only to needy Mends and relatives, but 
also to various charities. For example, as a kind of personal 
tribute to Osborne Gordon, his son's tutor, he gave ^^5000 
toward the augmentation of poor Christ-Church livings. 
His son's open-handed way with dependants and servants 
was learned fi-om the old merchant, who, unlike many hard- 
working money-makers, was always ready to give, though 
he could not bear to lose. In spite of which he left a con- 
siderable fortune behind him, — considerable when it is under- 
stood to be the earnings of his single-handed industry and 
steady sagacity in legitimate business, without indulgence in 
speculation. He left ^"120,000, with various other property, 
to his son. To his wife he left his house and ^^7,000, and 
a void which it seemed at first nothing could fill. For of 
late years the son had drifted out of their horizon, with ideas 
on religion and the ordering of life so very different from 
theirs ; and had been much away from home — ^he sometimes 
said, selfishly, but not without the greatest of all excuses, 
necessity. And so the two old people had been brought 
closer than ever together ; and she had lived entirely for her 
husband. But, as Browning said, — ' Put a stick in anywhere, 
and she will run up it ' — so the brave old lady did not faint 
under the blow, and fade away, but transferred her affections 
and interests to her son. Before his father's death the 


difference of feeling between them, arising out of the heretical 
economy, had been healed. Old Mr. Ruskin's will treated 
his son with all confidence in spite of his unorthodox views 
and unbusiness-like ways. And for nearly eight years longer 
his mother lived on, to see him pass through this probation- 
period into such recognition as an Oxford Professorship 
implied, and to find in her last years his later books 
' becoming more and more what they always ought to have 
been to ' her. 

At the same time, her failing sight and strength needed a 
constant household companion. Her son, though he did not 
leave home yet awhile for any long journeys, could not be 
always with her. Only six weeks after the funeral he was 
called away for a time. Before going he brought his pretty 
young Scotch cousin. Miss Joanna Ruskin Agnew to Denmark 
Hill for a week's visit. She recommended herself at once to 
the old lady, and to Carlyle, who happened to call, by her 
frank good-nature and unquenchable spirits ; and her visit 
lasted seven years, until she was married to the son of the 
Ruskins' old friend, Joseph Severn, British Consul at Rome. 
Even then she was not allowed far out of their sight, but 
settled in the old house at Heme Hill : ' nor virtually,' says 
Mr. Ruskin in the last chapter of ' Praeterita,' ' have she 
and I ever parted since.' 

All through that year he remained at home, except for 
short necessary visits, and frequent evenings with Carlyle. 
And when, in December, he gave those lectures in Manchester 
which afterwards, as 'Sesame and Lilies,' became his most 
popular work, we can trace his better health of mind and 
body in the brighter tone of his thought. We can hear the 
echo of Carlyle's talk in the heroic, aristocratic. Stoic ideals, 
and in the insistence on the value of books and free public 
libraries,* — Cai-lyle being the founder of the London Library. 

* The first lecture, ' On Kings' Treasuries,' was given, December 6th, 
1864, at Busholme Town HaJl, Manchester, in aid of a library fund for 
the Busholme Institute. The second, ' Queens' Gardens,' was given, 
December 14th, at the Town Hall, King Street, now the Free Reference 
Library, Manchester, in aid of schools for Ancoats. 


And we may suspect that his thoughts on women's influence 
and education had been not a little directed by those months 
in the company of ' the dear old lady and ditto young ' to 
whom Carlyle used to send his love. 

These lectures were the following up of his economic 
writing in this sense, — that he had required a certain moral 
culture as the necessai-y condition for realising his plans. It 
was as if one should say, 'Here is an engine; on these 
principles it works ; but it must be kept clean, oiled and 
polished.' He did not demand, — and this is important to 
note, — he did not demand a state of society hopelessly 
unlike the present, such as the altruistic guild-brethren of 
Mr. Morris's Epoch of Rest, or the clock-work harmony of 
Mr. Bellamy's American Utopia. He took human nature as 
it is, but at its best ; not, as the older economists did, at its 
worst. He tried to show how the best could be brought out, 
and what the standards should be towards which education 
and legislation should direct immediate public attention. 
' Sesame and Lilies ' puts in popular form his explanation 
of the phrase in ' Munera Pulveris,' — ' certain conditions of 
moral culture.'' 

In 1864 a new series of papers on Art was begun, the only 
published work upon Art of all these ten years. The papers 
ran in the Art Journal from January to July 1865, and from 
January to April 1866, under the title of ' Tlie Cestus of 
Aglaia,' by which was meant the Girdle, or restraining law, 
of Beauty, as personified in the wife of Hephaestus, ' the Lord 
of Labour.' Their intention was to suggest, and to evoke 
by correspondence, ' some laws for present practice of art in 
our schools, which may be admitted, if not with absolute, at 
least with a sufficient consent, by leading artists.' As a first 
step the author asked for the elementary rules of drawing. 
For his own contribution he showed the value of the ' pure 
line,' such as he had used in his own early drawings, learnt 
originally from Cruikshank etchings and Prout lithographs, 
and practised — with what success can be judged from such 
drawings as the ' Rouen ' reproduced in the ' Poems.' Later 


on, he had adopted a looser and more picturesque style of 
handling the point; and in the 'Elements of Drawing' he 
had taught his readers to take Rembrandt's etchings as exem- 
plary. But now he felt that this ' evasive ' manner, as he 
called it, had its dangers. It had, in fact, originated the 
ordinary type of popular free draughtsmanship, degenerating 
sometimes into that black blotting and scribbling with which 
Mr. Ruskin's ideals of delicacy, purity, dignity, to say nothing 
of the actual fineness of organic form, have nothing in 
common. And so these papers attempted to supersede the 
amateurish object lessons of the earlier work by stricter rules 
for a severer style ; prematurely, as it proved, for the chapters 
came to an end before the promised code was formulated; 
though they contained interesting — if rather free — criticism 
of current art, and many passages of lively wit and pretty 
description. The same work was taken up again in 'The 
Laws of Fesole'; but the use of the pure line, which 
Mr. Ruskin's precepts failed to enforce, was, in the end, 
taught to the public by the charming practice of Mr. Walter 
Crane and Miss Greenaway. 

A lecture at the Camberwell Working Men's Institute on 
' Work and Play ' was given on January 24th, 1865 ; which, 
as it was printed in 'The Crown of Wild Olive,' we will 
notice further on. Various letters and papers on political 
and social economy and other subjects hardly call for separate 
notice : with the exception of one very important address to 
the Royal Institution of British Architects, given April 15th, 
' On the Study of Architecture in our Schools.' 


'ETHICS OF THE DUST.' (1865.) 

'Si cette enfant m'^tait confine je ferais d'elle, non pas une savante, 
cai' je lui veux du bien, mais une enfant brillaute d'intelligence et de 
vie et en laquelle toutes les belles choses de la nature et d'art se refl^terait 
aveo un doux ^clat. Je la feraia vivre en sympathie avec lea beaux 
paysages, avec les segues id^ales de la po^sie et de I'hiatoire, avec la 
musique noblemeut 6mue. Je lui rendrais aimable tout ce que je 
voudrais lui faire aimer.' — Anatole France, Le Grime de Sylvestre 

WRITING to his father from Manchester about the 
lecture of Februaiy %% 1859—' The Unity of Art ' 
— ^Mr, Ruskin mentions, among various people of 
interest whom he was meeting, such as Sir Elkanali Armitage 
and Mre. Gaskell, how ' JMiss Bell and foui- young ladies came 
from Chester to hear me, and I promised to pay them a 
visit on my way home, to their apparent great content- 

The visit was paid on his way back fi-om Yorkshire. He 
wi-ote : — 


'NoRTHWiCH, Cheshire, 
' 12 March, 1859. 

' This is such a nice place that I am going to stay till 
Monday : an enormous old-fashioned house — fuU of galleries 
and up and down stairs — but with magnificently large rooms 
where wanted : the drawing-room is a huge octagon — I suppose 
at least forty feet high — like the tower of a castle (hung half 


way up all round with large and beautiful Turner and Raphael 
engravings) and with a baronial fireplace : — and in the even- 
ing, brightly lighted, with the groups of girls scattered round 
it, it is a quite beautiful scene in its way. Their morning 
chapel, too, is very interesting : — ^though only a large room, 
it is nicely fitted with reading desk and seats like a college 
chapel, and two pretty and rich stained-glass windows — and 
well-toned organ. They have morning prayers with only one 
of the lessons — and without the psalms: but singing the 
Te Deum or the other hymn — and other choral parts : and 
as out of the thirty-five or forty girls perhaps twenty-five or 
thirty have really available voices, well trained and divided, it 
was infinitely more beautiful than any ordinary church service 
— like the Trinita di Monte Convent service more than any- 
thing else, and must be very good for them, quite different in 
its effect on their minds from our wretched penance of college 

' The house stands in a superb park, fidl of old trees and 
sloping down to the river ; with a steep bank of trees on the 
other side; just the kind of thing Mrs. Sherwood likes to 
describe : — and the girls look all healthy and happy as can 
be, down to the little six-years-old ones, who I find know me 
by the fairy tale as the others do by my large books : — so I 
am quite at home. 

' They have my portrait in the library with three others — 
Maurice, the Bp. of Oxford, and Archdeacon Hare, — so that 
I can't but stay with them over the Sunday.' 

It was not an ordinary school — still less a pensionnat de 
demoiselles of the type described in ' Le Crime de Sylvestre 
Bonnard,'* in which the pettiness and tyranny of the woi-st 

* The quotation at the head of the chapter is one marked with 
approval by Mr. Ruskin, who was greatly interested in the book on its 
appearance, not only for its literary charm and tender characterisation, 
but ' as finding there some image of himself ' in the old Membre de 
rinatitut with his 'bon dos rond' and his passion for missals and 
Gothic architecture, and Benedictine monks, and natural scenery ; and 


kind of schoolmistress of — let us hope — a bygone age, are 
pilloried. The principles of Winnington were advanced ; the 
theology, — Bishop Colenso's daughter was among the pupils • 
the Bishop of Oxford had introduced Mr. Ruskin to the 
managers, who were pleased to invite the celebrated art-critic 
to visit whenever he travelled that way, whether to lecture at 
provincial towns, or to see his friends in the north, as he often 
used. And so between March 1859 and May 1868, after 
which the school was removed, he was a frequent visitor ; and 
not only he, but other lions whom the ladies entrapped : — 
mention has been made in print (in ' The Queen of the Air ') 
of Charles Halle, whom Mr. Ruskin met there in 1863 and 
greatly admired. 

' I like Mr. and Mrs. Halle so very much,' he wrote home, 
' and am entirely glad to know so great a musician and 
evidently so good and wise a man. He was very happy 
yesterday evening, and actually sat down and played 
quadrilles for us to dance to — which is, in its way, some- 
thing like Titian sketching patterns for ball-dresses. But 
afterwards he played Home, sweet Home, with three varia- 
tions — quite the most wonderful thing I have ever heard in 
music. Though I was close to the piano, the motion of the 
fingers was entirely invisible — a mere mist of rapidity; the 
hands moving slowly and softly, and the variation, in the ear, 
like a murmur of a light fountain, far away. It was beautiful 
too to see the girls' faces round, the eyes all wet with feeling, 
and the little coral mouths fixed into little half open gaps 
with utter intensity of astonishment.'' 

Mr. Ruskin could not be idle on his visits ; and as he was 
never so happy as when he was teaching somebody, he improved 
the opportunity by experiments in a system of education 
' tout intime et parfaitement incompatible avec Torganisation 
des pensionnats les mieux tenus,' and yet permitted there for 

his defiance of the Code Napoleon and the ways of the modern world ; 
with many another touch for which one could have sworn he had sat to 
the painter. 


his sake. Among other things, he devised singing dances for 
a select dozen of the girls, with verses of his own writing, 
' noblement ^mues ' ; one, a maze to the theme of ' Twist ye, 
twine ye,' based upon the song in ' Guy Mannering,' but going 
far beyond the original motive in its variations weighted with 
allegoric thought : — 

' Earnest Gladness, idle Fretting, 
Foolish Memory, wise Forgetting ; 
And trusted reeds, that broken lie, 
Wreathed again, for melody. . . . 

' Vanished Truth, but Vision staying ; 
Fairy riches, lost in weighing ; 
And fitful grasp of flying Fate, 
Touched too lightly, traced too late. . . .' 

Deep as the feeling of this little poem is, there is a nobler 
chord struck in the Song of Peace, the battle-cry of the good 
time coming ; in the faith — who else has found it ? — that 
looks forward to no selfish victory of narrow aims, but to the 
full reconciliation of hostile interests and the blind internecine 
struggle of this perverse world, in the clearer light of the 
millennial morning. 'Thine arrows are sharp in the hearts 
of the King's enemies, whereby the people fall tmder thee ;' — 
' Yea, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through 
Him that loved us.' 

' Put off, put off your mail, ye kings, and beat your brands to dust ; 
A surer grasp your hands must know, your hearts a better trust : 
Nay, bend aback the lance's point, and break the helmet bar, — 
A noise is on the morning winds, but not the noise of war ! 

' Among the grassy mountain-paths the glittering troops increase : 
They come ! they come ! — how fair their feet — ^they come that publish 

peace ; 
Yea, Victory 1 fair Victory I our enemies' and ours, 
And all the clouds are clasped in light, and all the earth with flowers. 

' Ah ! still depressed and dim with dew, but yet a little while 
And radiant with the deathless Eose the wilderness shall smile. 
And every tender living thing shall feed by streams of rest, 
No lamb shall from the fold be lost, nor nursling from the nest.' 


These dances were not mere play. They were taught as 
lessons, and practised as recreation. ' On n'apprend pas en 
s'amusant,' says the villain of the story to M. Bonnard. ' On 
n'apprend qu'en s'amusant,' he replies, — vigorously underlined 
and side-lined by Mr. Ruskin. ' Pous digerer le savoir, il 
faut I'avoir avale avec app^tit.' The art of teaching is to 
stimulate that appetite in a natural and healthy way. ' On 
n'est pas sur la terre pour s'amuser et pour faire ses quatre 
cents volont^s,' says the objector, again ; to which he 
answers : ' On est sur la terre pour se plaire dans le beau et 
dans le bien et pour faire ses quatre cents volontes quand 
elles sont nobles, spirituelles et genereuses. Une education 
qui n'exerce pas les volontds est une education qui deprave les 
ames. II faut' — here the pencil-marks are very thick — ' il faut 
que I'instituteur enseigne k vouloir.' 

' Je crus voir,' continues M. Bonnard, ' que maitre Mouche 
m'estimait un pauvre homme ' ; and I observe that Mr. 
Ruskin's method of teaching, as illustrated in 'Ethics of 
the Dust,' has been variously pooh-poohed by his critics. It 
has seemed to some absurd to mix up Theology, and Crystal- 
lography, and Political Economy, and Mythology, and Moral 
Philosophy, with the chatter of school-girls and the romps of 
the playground. But it should be understood, before reading 
this book, which is practically the report of these Winnington 
talks, that it is printed as an illustration of a method. The 
method is the Kindergarten method carried a step, many 
steps, further. With very small children it is comparatively 
easy to teach as a mother teaches ; but with children of larger 
growth it is not the first-comer who can replace the wise 
father, whose conversation and direction and example would 
form an ideal education. Still, an experiment like this was 
worth making. It showed that play-lessons need not want 
either depth or accuracy ; and that the requirement was 
simply capacity on the part of the teacher. 

The following letter from Carlyle was written in acknow- 
ledgment of an early copy of the book, of which the preface 
is dated Christmas, 1865. 


• Chelsea, 

'20 Deer 1665. 

' Dear Ruskin, 

' Don't mind the " Bewick " ;* the indefatigable Dixon 
has sent me, yesterday, the Bewick's " Life " as well (hunted it 
up from the " Misses Bewick " or somebody, and threatens to 
involve me in still farther bother about nothing) — and I read 
the greater part of it last night before going to bed. Peace 
to Bewick : not a great man at all ; but a very true of his 
sort, a well completed, and a very enviable, — living there in 
communion with the skies and woods and brooks, not here in 
d" with the London Fogs, the roaring witchmongeries and 
railway yellings and bowlings. 

' The " Ethics of the Dust," wh*" I devoured with' pause, 
and intend to look at ag", is a most shining Performance ! 
Not for a long while have I read anything tenth-part so 
i-adiant with talent, ingenuity, lambent fire (sheet — and other 
lightnings) of all commendable kinds ! Never was such a 
lecture on Crystallography before, had there been nothing 
else in it, — and there are all manner of things. In power of 
expression I pronounce it to be supreme ; never did anybody 
who had sitch things to explain explain them better. And 
the bit of Egypt" mythology, the cunning Dreams ab* Pthah, 
Neith, &c, apart from their elucidative quality, wh** is ex- 
quisite, have in them a poetry that might fill any Tennyson 
with despair. You are very dramatic too ; nothing wanting 
in the stage-direct"', in the pretty little indicat"' : a very 
pretty stage and dramatis personcB altogeth'. Such is my 
first feeling ab* y* Book, dear R. — Come soon, and I will tell 
you all the faults of it, if I gradually discover a great many. 
In fact, come at any rate ! 

' Y™ ever, 

' T. Caelyle.' 

The Real Little Housewives, to whom the book was 
dedicated, were not quite delighted — at least, they said they 

* Bewick was being studied by Mr. Ruskin in connection with the 
problem of the Pure Line, for ' Ceatus of Aglaia.' 


were not — at the portraits drawn of them, in their pinafores, 
so to speak, with some little hints at failings and faults which 
they recognised through the mask of dramatis personce. Miss 
' Kathleen ' disclaimed the singing of ' Vilikins and his Dinah,' 
and so on. It is difficult to please everybody. The public 
did not care about the book ; the publisher hoped Mr. Ruskin 
would write no more dialogues : and so it remained, little 
notited, for twelve years. In 1877 it was republished and 
found to be interesting, and in the next twelve years 8,000 
copies were called for. This was only one of many cases in 
which Mr. Ruskin was in advance of his age. 


•THE CROWN OF WILD OLIVE." (1865-1866.) 

' Still to oar gains our chief respect is had : 
Beward it is that makes us good or bad.' 


MENTION has been made of an address to working men 
at the Camberwell Institute, January 24th, 1865. 
This lecture was published in 1866, together with two 
others,* under the title of ' The Crown of Wild Olive ' — that 
is to say, the reward of human work, a reward ' which should 
have been of gold, had not Jupiter been so poor,' as Aris- 
tophanes said. 

What. work is thus rewarded .'' the speaker asked. What 
reward is to be hoped for ? And how does it influence, how 
ought it to influence, the aims and the conduct of the various 
classes of men who make up the active world, the three great 
distinct castes of labourers, traders, and soldiers.? In fact, 
these three lectures, on Work, Traffic, and War, — one before 
a suburban institute, one at a great manufacturing centre, 
and one addressed to the young soldiers of Woolwich, — 
sketch out Mr. Ruskin's political ethics in sequel to his 
economy and educational ideals. 

True work, he said, meant the production (taking the word 
production in a broad sense) of the means of life ; not the 
using of them as mere counters for gambling. So that a 
great part of commerce, as it is generally practised, is not 

* Republished in 1873, with a fourth lecture added, and a Preface 
and notes on the political growth of Prussia, from Carlyle's ' Frederick.' 


work, and deserves no consideration, still less justification, by 
political science. On the other hand, if true work were 
properly understood and its laws made plain, it would appeal- 
that every one ought to take some share in it, according to 
his powers : some working with the head, some with the 
hands ; but all acknowledging idleness and slavery to be alike 
immoral. And, as to the remuneration, he said, as he had 
said before in ' Unto this Last,' Justice demands that equal 
energy expended should bring equal reward. He did not 
consider it justice to cry out for the equalization of incomes, 
for some are sure to be more diligent and saving than others ; 
some work involves a great preliminary expenditure of energy 
in qualifying the worker, as contrasted with unsldlled labour. 
But he did not allow that the possession of capital entitled 
a man to unearned increment ; and he thought that, in a 
community where a truly civilized morality was highly de- 
veloped, the general sense of society would recognise an 
average standard of work and an average standard of pay 
for each class. Where aU took their share, many hands 
would make light work. Where all received their fair reward, 
although absolute equality would be impossible, great in- 
equality could not prevail, and the struggle for life would be 
minimised. Such was his first suggestion for an organization 
of labour, extremely ridiculous thirty years ago ; not quite so 
ridiculous now. 

In the next two lectures he spoke of the two great forms 
of Play, the great Games of Money-making and War. He 
had b^n invited to lecture at Bradford, in the hope that he 
woidd give some usefiil advice towards the design of a new 
Exchange which was to be buUt ; in curious forgetftdness, it 
would appear, of his work during the past ten years and 
more. It might have been expected, after all he had written, 
that he would have remarks to make on the architecture of 
an ' Exchange,' of all places, which an unprepared audience 
would hardly welcome ; and indeed the picture he drew them 
of an ideal ' Temple to the Goddess of Getting-on ' was as 
daring a sermon as ever prophet preached. But when he 


came to tell them that the employers of labour might be 
true captains and kings, the leaders and the helpers of their 
fellow-men, and that the function of commerce was not to 
prey upon society but to provide for it, there were many of 
his hearers whose hearts told them that he was right, and 
whose lives have shown, in some measure, that he did not 
speak in vain. 

Still stranger, to hearers who had not noted the conclusion 
of his third volume of ' Modern Painters,' was his view of 
war, in the address to the Royal Military Academy at 
Woolwich, in December 1865. The common view of war as 
destroyer of arts and enemy of morality, the easy acceptance of 
the doctrine that peace is an unqualified blessing, the obvious 
evils of battle and rapine and the waste of resources and life 
throughout so many ages, have blinded less clear-sighted 
and less widely-experienced thinkers to another side of the 
teaching of history, which Mr. Ruskin dwelt upon with 
unexpected emphasis. He showed that in Greece and Rome 
and in the Middle Ages, war had brought out the highest 
human faculties, and in doing so had stimulated the arts. 
This was not the case, he said, in civil wars, such as that 
waging in America; though perhaps we may now see that 
even there the great war did eventually develop national 
virtues and powers hardly known before. But he showed 
that, as Bacon said, ' No Body can be healthful without 
Exercise, neither Naturall Body, nor Politique: and cer- 
tainly, to a Kingdom or Estate, a lust and Honourable 
Warre, is the true Exercise.'' As little John Ruskin had 
written in 1828, "'Tis vice, not war, that is the curse of 
man ' : but the aim of public morality was to limit war to 
'just and honourable ' occasions, and to confine it to those on 
either side who had a direct interest in it, and could wage it 
in a just and honourable manner. 

It i* curious that Ruskin the Goth, who had begun bj 
attacking the ' Greek ' tradition in art, should now be of all 
men the most complete exponent of the Greek spirit in 
policy. They had permitted only their freemen, their 


gentlemen, to fight ; their public morality called a slave a 
slave, but did not expect him, or allow him, to share in the 
terrible, fascinating game. And Mr. Ruskin showed how 
that policy was rewarded. But modern war, horrible, not 
from its scale, but from the spirit in which the upper classes 
set the lower to fight like gladiators in the arena, he de- 
nounced; and called upon the women of England, with 
whom, he said, the real power of life and death lay, to mend 
it into some semblance of antique chivalry, or to end it in 
the name of religion and humanity. 

In the New Review for March 1892, there appeared a 
series of ' Letters of John Ruskin to his Secretary,' which, 
as the anonymous contributor remarked, illustrate ' Ruskin 
the worker, as he acts away from the eyes of the world; 
Ruskin the epistolographer, when the eventuality of the 
printing-press is not for the moment before him ; Ruskin the 
good Samaritan, ever gentle and open-handed when true 
need and a good cause make appeal to his tender heart; 
Ruskin the employer, considerate, generous — an ideal master.' 

Charles Augustus HoweU became known to Mr. Ruskin 
(in 1864 or 1865) through the circle of the Pre-Raphaelites ; 
and, as the editor of the letters puts it, ' by his talents 
and assiduity' became the too-trusted friend and protege 
of Mr. Ruskin, Mr. Gabriel Rossetti and others of their 
acquaintance. It was he who proposed and carried out the 
exhumation, reluctantly consented to, of Rossetti's manuscript 
poems from his wife's grave, in October 1869 ; for which 
curious service to literatvu'e let him have the thanks of pos- 
terity. But he was hardly the man to carry out Mr. Ruskin's 
secret charities, and long before he had lost Rossetti's con- 
fidence* he had ceased to act as Mr. Ruskin's secretary. 

From these letters, however, several interesting traits and 
incidents may be gleaned, such as anecdotes about the canary 
which was anonymously bought at the Ci-ystal Palace Bird 
Show (February 1866) for the owner's benefit : about the 

* lu the maimer described by Mr. W. M. Rossetti at p. 351, voL i, 
of ' D. G. Rossetti, his family letters,' to which the reader is referred. 


shopboy whom Mr. Ruskin was going to train as an artist ; 
and about the kindly proposal to employ the aged and im- 
poverished Cmikshank upon a new book of faiiy tales, and ^ 
the struggle between admiration for the man and admission 
of his loss of power, ending in the free gift of the hundred 
pounds promised. 

In April 1866, after writing the Preface to ' The Crown of 
Wild Olive,' and preparing the book for publication, Mr. 
Ruskin was carried off to the Continent for a holiday with 
Sir Walter and Lady Ti'evelyan, her niece Miss Constance 
Hilliard (Mrs. Churchill), and Miss Agnew (Mrs. Severn), 
for a thorough rest and change after three years of uninter- 
mitting work in England. They intended to spend a couple 
of months in Italy. On the day of starting, Mr. Ruskin 
called at Cheyne Walk with the usual bouquet for Mrs. 
Carlyle, to learn that she had just met with her death, in 
trying to save her little dog, the gift of Lady Trevelyan. 
He rejoined his friends, and they crossed the Channel gaily, 
in spite of what they thought was rather a cloud over him. 
At Paris they read the news. ' Yes,' he said, ' I knew. But 
there was no reason why I should spoil your pleasure by 
telling you.' 

After the proper interval he wrote to Carlyle. The letter 
of condolence brought the following reply, addressed ' Poste 
Restante, Milan ' :— 

' Chelsea, 
' London, 

' 10 May, 1866. 
' Deae RusKm, 

'Y' kind words from Dijon were welcome to me: 
thanks. I did not doubt y* sympathy in what has come; 
but it is better that I see it laid before me. You are y'self 
very unhappy, as I too well discern ; heavy-laden, obstructed 
and dispirited ; but you have a great work still ahead ; and 
will gradually have to gird y'self up ag=' the lieat of the day, 
wh'' is coming on for you, — as the night too is coming. 
Think valiantly of these things.' 


After gmng way to his giief — ' my life all laid in ruins, 
and the one light of it as if gone out,' — he continues : — 
• 'Come and see me when you get home; come oftener and 
"see me, and speak Tnare frankly to me (for I am very true to 
y' highest interests and you) while I still remain here. You 
can do nothing for me in Italy ; except come home im- 
proved,' — ^in health and spirits ; and so on. 

But before this letter reached Mr. Ruskin, he too had been 
in the presence of death, and had lost one of his most valued 
friends. Their journey to Italy had been undertaken chiefly 
for the sake of Lady Trevelyan's health, as the following 
extracts indicate : — 

' Paeis, 

' ind May, 1866. 

' Lady Trevelyan is much better to-day, but it is not safe 
to move her yet — till to-morrow. So I'm going to take the 
children to look at Chartres cathedi-al — we can get three 
hours there, and be back to seven o'clock dinner. We drove 
round by St. Cloud and Sevres yesterday; the blossomed 
trees being glorious by the Seine, — the children in high 
spirits. It reminds me always too much of Turner — every 
bend of these rivers is haunted by him.' 

' Dijon, 

' Sunday, 

• eth May, 1866. 

' Lady Trevelyan is much better, and we hope all to get on 
to Neufchatel to-morrow. The weather is quite fine again 
though not warm ; and yesterday I took the children for a 
drive up the Uttle vaUey which we used to drive through on 
leaving Dijon for Paris. There are wooded hills on each 
side, and we got into a sweet valley, as full of nightingales as 
our garden is of thrushes, and with slopes of broken rocky 
ground above, covered with the lovely blue milk-wort, and 
purple columbines, and geranium, and wild strawberry-flowers. 
The children were intensely delighted, and I took great care 
that Constance should not run about so as to heat herself, 
and we got up considerable bit of hiU quite nicely, and with 


greatly increased appetite for tea, and general mischief. They 
have such appetites that I generally call them " my two little 
pigs." There is a delightful Fi-ench waiting-maid at dinner* 
here — who says they are both " charmantes," but highly' 
approves of my title for them, nevertheless.' 

' Neupchatel, 

' 10<A May, 186G. 

'Lady Trevelyan is still too weak to move. We had 
(the children and I) a delightful day yesterday at the Pierre 
k Bot, gathering vetches and lilies of the valley in the woods, 
and picnic afterwards on the lovely mossy grass, in view of all 
the Alps — Jungfrau, Eiger, Blumlis Alp, Altels, and the 
rest, with intermediate lake and farmsteads and apple- 
blossoms — very heavenly.' 

Here, within a few days, Lady Trevelyan died. Through- 
out her illness she had been following the progress of the 
new notes on wild-flowers (afterwards to be 'Proserpina') 
with keen interest, and Sir Walter lent the help of an 
authority on botanical science to Mr. Ruskin's more poetical 
and artistic observations. For the sake of this work, and for 
the ' children,' and with a wise purpose of bearing up under 
the heavy blow that had fallen, the two friends continued 
their journey for a while among the mountains. 

From Thun, on May 21st, he could write to Howell, with 
the stoicism he aff'ects when he least feels it : — ' I've had a 
rather bad time of it at Neuchatel, what with death and the 
north wind ; both devil's inventions as far as I can make out. 
But things are looking a little better now, and I had a lovely 
three hours' walk by the lake shore, in cloudless calm, from 
five to eight this morning, under hawthorn and chestnut — 
here just in full blossom, and among other pleasantnesses — 
too good for mortals, as the north wind and the rest of it are 
too bad. We don't deserve either such blessing or cursing, 
it seems to poor moth me.' 

From Thun he went to Interlachen and the Giessbach, 
with his remaining friends : and he occupied himself closely 


in tracing Studer's sections across the gi-eat lake-furrow of 
central Switzerland — 'something craggy for his mind to 
break upon,' as Byron said when he was in trouble. At the 
Giessbach there was not only geology and divine scenery, 
enjoyable in lovely weather, but an interesting figure in the 
foreground, the widowed daughter of the hotel landlord, 
beautiful and consumptive, but br'ave as a Swiss girl should 
be. They sJl seem to have fallen in love with her, so to 
speak ; the young English girls as much as the impression- 
able art-critic: and the new human intei-est in her Alpine 
tragedy relieved, as such interests do, the painfulness of the 
circumstances through which they had been passing. Her 
sister Marie was like an Allegra to this Penserosa; bright 
and brilliant in native genius. She played piano-duets with 
the young ladies ; taught Alpine botany to the savants ; 
guided them to the secret dells and unknown points of view ; 
and with a sympathy unexpected in a stranger, beguiled 
them out of their grief, and won their admiration and 
gratitude. Marie of the Giessbach was often referred to in 
letters of the time, and for many years after, with warmly 
affectionate remembrances. 

A few bits from his letters to his mother, which I have 
been permitted to copy, will indicate the impressions of this 
summer's tour. 

' H6tel du Giesbach, 

' eth June, 1666. 
' My dearest Mother, 

' Can you at all fancy walking out in the morning in a 
garden fiiU of lilacs just in rich bloom, and pink hawthorn in 
masses ; and along a little terrace with lovely pinks coming into 
cluster of colour all over the low wall beside it ; and a sloping 
bank of green sward fi'om it — and below that, the Giesbach ! 
Fancy having a real Alpine waterfall in one's garden, — seven 
himdred feet high. You see, we are just in time for the 
spring, here, and the strawberries are ripening on the rocks. 
Joan and Constance have been just scrambling about and 
gathering them for me. Then there's the blue-green lake below, 


and Interlaken and the lake of Thun in the distance. I think 
I never saw anything so beautiful. Joan will write to you about 
the people, whom she has made great friends with, already.' 

' Ith June, 1866. 
' I cannot tell you how much I am struck with the beauty 
of this fall : it is different from everything I have ever seen 
in torrents. There are so many places where one gets near it 
without being wet, for one thing ; for the falls are, mostly, 
not vertical so as to fly into mere spray, but over broken rock, 
which crushes the water into a kind of sugar-candy-like foam, 
white as snow, yet glittering ; and composed, not of bubbles, 
but of broken-up water. Then I had forgotten that it 
plunged straight into the lake ; I got down to the lake shore 
on the other side of it yesterday, and to see it plunge clear 
into the blue water, with the lovely mossy rocks for its flank, 
and for the lake edge, was an unbelievable kind of thing ; it 
is all as one would fancy cascades in fairyland. I do not often 
endure with patience any cockneyisms or showings off at these 
lovely places. But they do one thing here so interesting that 
I can forgive it. One of the chief cascades (about midway up 
the hill) falls over a projecting rock, so that one can walk 
under the torrent as it comes over. It leaps so clear that one 
is hardly splashed, except at one place. Well, when it gets 
dark, they burn, for five minutes, one of the strongest steady 
fireworks of a crimson colour, behind the fall. The red light 
shines right through, turning the whole waterfall into a 
torrent of fire.' 

' lUh June, 1866. 
'We leave, according to our programme, for Interlachen 
to-day, — with great regret, for the peace and sweetness of 
this place are wonderful, and the people are good ; and 
though there is much drinking and quarrelling among the 
younger men, there appears to be neither distressful poverty, 
nor deliberate crime : so that there is more of the sense I 
need, and long for, of fellowship with human creatures, than 
in any place I have been at for years. I believe they don't 


so much as lock the house-doors at night ; and the faces of the 
older peasantry are really very beautiful. I have done a good 
deal of botany, and find that wild-flower botany is more or 
less exhaustible, but the cultivated flowers are infinite in their 
caprice. The forget-me-nots and milkworts are singularly 
beautiful here, but there is quite as much variety in English 
fields as in these, as long as one does not climb much — and 
I'm very lazy, compared to what I used to be.' 

' Lautbrbrunnen, 

' 13th June, 1866. 

' We had a lovely evening here yesterday, and the children 
enjoyed and understood it better than anything they have yet 
seen among the Alps. Constance was in great glory in a 
little walk I took her in the twilight through the upper 
meadows : the Staubbach seen only as a grey veil suspended 
from its rock, and the great Alps pale above on the dark sky. 
She condescended nevertheless to gather a great bunch of the 
white catchfly,-; — ^to make " pops " with, — her friend Marie at 
the Giesbach having shown her how a startling detonation 
may be obtained, by skilful management, out of its globular 

' This morning is not so promising, — one of the provoking 
ones which will neither let you stay at home with resignation, 
nor go anywhere with pleasure. I'm going to take the 
children for a little quiet exploration of the Wengern path, 
to see how they like it, and if the weather betters — we may 
go on. At all events I hope to find an Alpine rose or 

In June 1866 the Professorship of Poetry at Oxford was 
vacant; and Mr. Ruskin's friends were anxious to see him 
take the post. He, however, felt no especial fitness or 
inclination for it, and the proposal fell through. Three 
years later he was elected to a Professorship that at this 
time had not been founded. ' Tout vient a qui salt attendre.' 

After spending June in the Oberland, he went homewards 


through Berne, Vevey and Geneva, to find his private secretary 
with a bundle of begging letters, and his friend Carlyle busy 
with the defence of Governor Eyre. 

In 1865 an insurrection of negroes at Morant Bay, Jamaica, 
had threatened to take the most serious shape, when it was 
stamped out by the high-handed measures of Mr. Eyre. 
After the first congratulations were over another side to the 
question called for a hearing. The Baptist missionaries 
declared that among the negroes who were shot and hanged 
in terror em were peaceable subjects, respectable members of 
their own native congregations, for whose character they 
could vouch: they added that the gravity of the situation 
had been exaggerated by private enmity and jealousy of their 
work and creed : and sympathisers at home pointed out 
that the executions were not even 'judicial' murders, since 
Mr. Eyre was not governor of Jamaica, and really had no 
right to take extreme measures. A strong committee was 
formed under Liberal auspices, supported by such men as 
John Stuart Mill and Thomas Hughes, the author of ' Tom 
Brown's Schooldays ' — men whose motive was above suspicion 
— to bring Mr. Eyre to account. 
% Carlyle, who admired the strong hand, and had no interest 
in Baptist missionaries, accepted Mr. Ejrre as the saviour of 
society in his West Indian sphere ; and there were many, 
both in Jamaica and at home, who believed that, but for his 
prompt action, the white population would have been 
massacred with all the horrors of a savage rebellion. Mr. 
Ruskin had been for many years the ally of the Broad 
Church and Liberal party ; he had supported the candida- 
ture of Mr. Mill and Mr. Hughes in Westminster and 
Lambeth. But he was now coming more and more under 
the personal influence of Carlyle ; and when it came to the 
point of choosing sides, declared himself, in a letter to the 
Daily Telegraph (Dec. 20th, 1865) a Conservative and a sup- 
porter of order ; and joined the Eyre Defence Committee 
with a subscription of £\00. The prominent part he took, 
for example in the meeting of September 1866, was no doubt 


forced upon him by his desire to save Carlyle, whose recent 
loss and shaken nerves made such business especially trying 
to him. Letters of this period remain, in which Carlyle 
begs Ruskin to ' be diligent, I bid you !' — and so on, 
adding 'I must absolutely shut wp in that direction, to 
save my sanity.' And so it fell to the younger man to 
work through piles of pamphlets and newspaper corre- 
spondence, to interview politicians and men of business, and 
— what was so very foreign to his habits — to take a leading 
share in a party agitation. 

But in all this he was true to his Jacobite instincts. He * 
had been brought up a Tory; and though he had drifted 
into an alliance with the Broad Church and philosophical 
Liberals, he was never one of them. Now that his father was 
gone, perhaps he felt a sort of duty to own himself his father's 
son ; and the failure of liberal philanthropy to realize his 
ideals, and of liberal philosophy to rise to his economic 
standards, combined with Carlyle to induce him to label 
himself Conservative. But his conservatism could not be 
accepted by the party so called. Fortunately, he did not 
need or ask their recognition. He took no real interest in 
party politics, and never in his life voted at a Parliamentary 
election. He only meant to state in the shortest terms that 
he stood for loyalty and order. 


•TIME AND TIDE.' (1867.) 

' Yea, the voiceless wrath of the wretched 
And their unlearned discontent, 
We must give it voice and wisdom, 
Till the waiting-tide be spent.' 

W. Morris, Poems by the Way. 

DEAR Ruskin,' writes Carlyle from Mentone* (Feb- 
ruary 15th, 1867), 'if the few bits of letters I have 
written from this place had gone by the natv/rcd 
priority and sequence, this would have been the first, or 
among the very first : — and indeed it is essentially so — ^the 
first that I have written except upon compulsion, or in answer 
to something written. My aversion to writing is at all times 
great. But I begin to feel a great want of having some news 
from you, at least of hearing that you are not fallen unwell ; 
and there is no other method of arousing you to your duty.' 

He goes on to tell how ' the impetuous Tyndall tore me 
out from the sleety mud abysses of London, as if by the hair 
of the head ; and dropped me here ' : and then follows a long 
story about the place and the people. At last : — 

' Often I begin to think of my route home ag", and what I 
shall next do then. . . . The only point I look forward to 
with any fixed satisfact" as yet, is that of having Ruskin 

* The letter mentioned in ' Time and Tide,' letter 6 : ' I heard from 
him last week at Mentone,' etc. 


again eve^ Wedny evs, and tasting a little human conversat" 
once in the week, if oftener be not practicable ! . . . Adieu 
my Friend, I want a little Note from you quam primum. I 
send many regards to the good and dear old lady, and am 

' Y" gTatefully, 

' T. Caelyle; 

One reason why Mr. Ruskin had not wiitten was, perhaps, 
that he had already begun the series of letters published as 
'Time and Tide by Weare and Tyne,' which is the same 
thing as saying that he was engaged upon a new and im- 
portant book. These letters were addressed* to Thomas 
Dixon, a working cork-cutter of Sunderland, whose portrait 
by Professor Legros is familiar to visitors at the South 
Kensington Museum. He was one of those thoughtful, self- 
educated working men in whom, as a class, Mr. Ruskin had 
been taking a deep interest for the past twelve years, an 
interest which had purchased him a practical insight into 
their various capacities and aims, and the right to speak 
without fear or favour. At this time there was an agitation 
for Parliamentary reform, and the better representation of 
the working classes ; and it was on this topic that the letters 
were begun, though the writer went on to criticise the various 
social ideals then popular, and to propose his own. He had 
already done something of the sort in ' Unto this Last ' ; 
but ' Time and Tide ' is much more complete, and the result 
of seven years' farther thought and experience. His ' Fors 
Clavigera ' is a continuation of these letters, but written at 
a time when other work and ill health broke in upon his 
strength. ' Time and Tide ' is not only the statement of his 
social scheme as he saw it in his central period, but, written 
as these letters were — at a stroke, so to speak — condensed in 
exposition and simple in language, they deserve the most 
careful reading by the student of Rtiskin. 

* During February, March and April, 1867, and published in the 
Manchester Examiner and Leeds Mercury. 


The earlier letters are mainly a criticism of popular ideals, 
and the panaceas which were prescribed for the Body Politic. 
There was Parliamentary Reform, there was Co-operation, as 
popularly understood, and there was the Redistribution of 
Land, already beginning to be demanded ; all these he 
criticised as inadequate. The mere preaching of Thrift, of 
Education and of Religion he regarded as a delusion or a 
mockery. Competition and Imssez-fawe he denounced. 

Then he proceeded to construct his own ideal, as Plato had 
done in his ' Republic,' only within stricter limits. He points 
out repeatedly that this is an ideal, and not a suggestion for 
immediate adoption; and yet it differs from other people's 
Utopias in being far nearer realization. It is, indeed — 
though he does not definitely say so — based on a system 
which has already worked well, the system by which the 
barbarian Teutonic tribes and degraded Latin races of the 
lower empire, were gradually developed into the great 
kingdoms of Eiu'ope, evolving the religion, laws, arts and 
scishces which the Renaissance found at its coming. And if 
it be true that we are now in much the same position, mutatis 
mutandis, as in Charlemagne's days — our degenerate ' upper 
classes^ with their Renaissance culture and traditions re- 
presenting the Roman element, and our discontented ' lower 
classes,' with their restlessness and vitality and overwhelming 
preponderance representing the invaders — if the problem be 
to weld these into a new cohesion, and out of them to create 
a new civilization, then it was surely well thought of, to 
apply the ancient ciu-e, mutatis m,utandis, to the parallel case. 

To state the ideal constitution as shortly and conveniently 
as possible, we might put it under four heads, though the 
author does not so divide it ; but he seems to have adopted, 
and adapted, from the Middle Ages their guild system, 
their chivalry, their church, and something of their feudal 

To get entirely rid of competition, he proposed a,n 
organisation of labour akin to the ancient guilds, which he 
regarded as the combination, in each trade and in every kind 


of manufacture, agriculture and art, of all the masters with 
all the men. But while the old guilds were local, he would 
have them universal. By their own niles, and for their own 
adyantage, they would secure good workmanship, honest 
production; they would fix fair wages for their men and 
provide against the bankruptcy of their members who were 
masters. Retail trade would be neither precarious nor de- 
grading if it were carried on by the salaried officei-s of the 
guild. The workman, holding a well-defined position, and 
possessing some share of contaol, through the trade council, 
over his work and his wages, would have no groimd for 
discontent. And the masters, for Carlyle's Elisha had no 
idea of a worid without masters, would be ' captains of 
labour,'' the Mends and not the enemies of their men ; with 
their superior talents recognised and used, not without a 
certain pecuniary advantage, but without that disproportion 
of income, and of responsibility, which is the plague of 
modem commerce and manufacture. 

Book-learning was not Mr. Ruskin''s notion of education : 
and while he would have everybody educated, he would not 
make every boy and girl learned, for, as Sylvestre Bonnard 
says, he wished them well. The physical and moral education 
he proposed would make finer creatures of them ; would go 
a long way, of itself, to eradicate disease and stupidity and 
vulgarity. To do this more efectuaUy he proposed to 
r^ulate marriage by permitting it only to those young 
people who had qualified themselves by attaining a certain 
standard of general physical and moral culture — ' bachelors ' 
and 'rosieres'' they might be dubbed, on the analc^ of 
chivalry. To ensure the sufficient and yet frugal bringing 
up of a &mily, he would secure them an income from the 
state, if necessary, for the first seven years ; or, if they were 
of the wealthier class, keep them down to that income, and 
reserve the surplus for their use later on. Indeed he would 
hmit all incomes to some fixed maximiun; on attaining 
which, if a man were independent, he might retire, to pursue 
his own hobbies or to serve the state. But, in his Pohty, it 


would be the part of gentlefolks— for some would still be 
unavoidably both wealthier and more refined than others— 
to set the example of plain living and high thinking. 

As to the church, that, as in the ' Notes on Sheepfolds,' was 
to be strictly a state-church, in the sense that such officers as 
it possessed would be salaried by the government ; and that 
their work would be in harmony with the state, not opposed 
to it, nor independent of it, in sects and schisms. These 
clergy would be confined to pastoral care, and have no right 
to preach their varying views of dogma. Names, of course, 
matter nothing in schemes of this sort ; but in calling these 
officers ' Bishops ' and suggesting that they should have the 
oversight of a hundred families each, Mr. Ruskin points to 
the practice of the primitive church. Though at this time 
he had renounced any definite adhesion in orthodox religion, 
he did not think that human nature, as a whole, would or 
could become completely irreligious; but he leaves it quite 
open to the families of his ideal state whether they will 
admit the administrations of their bishops, or not. 

Finally, he adapted the feudalism of the Middle Ages 
in the sense that the whole body politic would be distinctly 
organic, and not anarchic : that its organisation would be 
based on a military scheme. He had said, in ' The Crown of 
Wild Olive,' that a military despotism is the only cure for 
a diseased society; and while minimising the occasions and 
opportunities for war, he felt that, to effect the development 
of the present ' Dark Age ' into a more perfect civilisation, 
some use of force would be necessary in the administration. 
Believing strongly in human nature, he did not pretend that 
everybody is virtuous. Laws must be made, and laws must 
be administered : and to do this effectively requires the strong 
hand. In his state every man would be a soldier (as in 
Switzerland) ; but just as in the guilds some would necessarily 
be differentiated into mastership, so, in the whole of society, 
individuals and families would rise into eminence and take 
the lead. And as the captains, judges, bishops, and school- 
masters would be salaried state officials, so to these distin- 

' TIME AND TIDE ' 239 

guished men and families he would be glad to assign such 
moderate incomes as might keep them in the public service, 
with such estates in land as might afford them the means of 
exemplifying the arts and graces of life ; not to be landlords, 
but only the tenants of the state, just as the agriculturists, 
through their guild, are to have the use of the soil rent-free. 

Such, in rough outline, is the ideal commonwealth of ' Time 
and Tide.' The scheme has the support of historical analogy : 
it is in harmony with modern scientific views of the evolution 
of mankind ; it is elastic enough to give play to the varying 
aims of individuals and classes ; and since it does not premise 
universal- virtue, nor promise universal happiness, it is not 
rightly described as Utopian. 

Before this work was ended, Carlyle had come back to 
Chelsea, and was begging his friend, in the warmest terms, 
to come and see him. Shortly afterward, a passage which 
Mr. Ruskin would not retract gave offence to Carlyle. But 
the difference was healed, and later letters reveal the sage of 
Chelsea just as kindly and affectionate as ever. It is a poor 
friendship that is broken by a free speech : and this friend- 
ship, between the two greatest writers of their age, between 
two men, we may add, of vigorous individuality, outspoken 
opinions, and widely different tastes and sympathies, is a fine 
episode in the history of both. 

In May, Mr. Ruskin was invited to Cambiidge to receive 
the honorary degree of LL.D., and to deliver the Rede 
Lecture. The Cambridge Chronicle of May 25th, 1867, 
says : ' The body of the Senate House was quite filled with 
M.A.'s and ladies, principally the latter, whilst there was a 
large attendance of undergraduates in the galleries, who gave 
the lecturer a most enthusiastic reception.' A brief report 
of the lecture wais printed in the newspaper; but it was 
not otherwise published, and the manuscript seems to have 
been mislaid for thirty years. I take the liberty of copying 
the opening sentences as a specimen of that Academical 
oratory which Mr. Ruskin then adopted, and used habitually 
in his earlier lectures at Oxford. 


The title of the discourse was ' The Relation of National 
Ethics to National Arts.' — ' In entering on the duty to-day 
entrusted to me, I should hold it little respectful to my 
audience if I disturbed them by expression of the diffidence 
which they know that I must feel in first speaking in this 
Senate House; diffidence which might well have prevented 
me from accepting such duty, but ought not to interfere 
with my endeavour simply to fulfil it. Nevertheless, lest 
the direction which I have been led to give to my discourse, 
and the narrow limits within which I am compelled to confine 
the treatment of its subject may seem in anywise inconsistent 
with the purpose of the founder of this Lecture — or with the 
expectations of those by whose authority I am appointed to 
deliver it, let me at once say that I obeyed their command, 
not thinking myself able to teach any dogma in the philosophy 
of the arts, which could be of any new interest to the members 
of this University : but only that I might obtain the sanction 
of their audience, for the enforcement upon other minds of 
the truth, which — after thirty years spent in the study of art, 
not dishonestly, however feebly — is manifest to me as the 
clearest of all that I have learned, and urged upon me as the 
most vital of all I have to declare.' 

He then distinguished between true and false art, the true 
depending upon sincerity, whether in literature, music or the 
formative arts : he reinforced his old doctrine of the dignity 
of true imagination as the attribute of healthy and earnest 
minds ; and energetically attacked the commercial art-world 
of the day, and the notion that drawing-schools were to be 
supported for the sake of the gain they would bring to our 
manufacturers. ' Mr. Ruskin concluded his lecture,' says the 
Chronicle, ' with a very fine peroration, the first part of which 
he addressed to the younger members of the academic body, 
the second to the elder. On the younger men he urged the 
infinite importance of a life of virtue and the fact that the 
hereafter must be spent in God's presence or in darkness. 
Their time in this miracle of a universe was but as a moment ; 
with one brief astounded gaze of awe they looked on all 


aiound them — saw the planets roll, heard the sound of the 
sea, and beheld the surroundings of the earth ; they were 
opened for a moment as a sheet of lightning, and then 
instantly closed again. Their highest ambition during so 
short a stay should be to be known for what they were — to 
spend those glittering days in view of what was to come after 
them. Then on the Masters of this, which had for years 
been pre-eminent as the school of science, he urged that their 
continued prosperity must rest on their observance of the 
command of their Divine Master, in whose name they existed 
as a society — " Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His 
righteousness." . . . All mere abstract knowledge, indepen- 
dent of its tendency to a holy life, was useless. . . His 
concluding remarks were an eloquent exhortation to the 
seniors diligently to perform the solemn trust given to them 
in the proving of youth — " Lead them not into temptation, 
but deliver them from evil.'" 

'Long and hearty cheere gi-eeted the learned lecturer 
from all parts of the Senate House as he resumed his seat.'' 

In this lectm-e we see the germ of the ideas, as well as the 
beginning of the style, of the Oxford Inaugural course, and 
the ' Eagle''s Nest ' ; something quite difiFerent in type from 
the style and teaching of the addresses to working men, or to 
mixed popular audiences at Edinbm-gh or Manchester, or 
even at the Royal Institution. At this latter place, on 
June 4th, Sir Henry Holland in the chair, he lectured on 
' The Present State of Modem Art, with reference to advis- 
able arrangement of the National Gallery,'' repeating much of 
what he had said in ' Time and Tide ' about the taste for the 
horrible and absence of true feeling for pure and dignified art 
in the theatrical shows of the day, and in the admiration for 
Gustave Dore, then a new fashion. Mr. Ruskin could never 
endure that the man who had illustrated Balzac''s 'Contes 
Drolatiques' should be chosen by the religious public of 
England as the exponent of their most sacred aspirations 
and ideals. 

In July he went to Keswick for a few weeks, from whence 


he wrote the rhymed letters to his cousin at home, quoted 
(with the date wrongly given as 1857) in ' Praeterita ' to illus- 
trate his ' heraldic character ' of ' Little Pigs ' and to shock 
exoteric admirers. Like, for example, Rossetti and Carlyle, 
Mr. Ruskin was fond of playful nicknames and grotesque 
terms of endearment. He never stood upon his dignity with 
intimates; and was ready to allow the liberties he took, 
much to the surprise of strangers. 

He reached Keswick by July 4, and spent his time chiefly 
in walks upon the hills, staying at the Derwentwater Hotel. 
He wrote :— 

' Keswick, 

' I9th July, '67, 

' Afternoon, J past 3. 
'My dearest Mother, 

'As this is the last post before Sunday I send one 
more line to say IVe had a delightful forenoon's walk — since 
J past ten — by St. John's Vale, and had pleasant thoughts, 
and found one of the most variedly beautiful torrent beds I 
ever saw in my life ; and I feel that I gain strength, slowly 
but certainly, every day. The great good of the place is that 
I can be content without going on great excursions which 
fatigue and do me harm (or else worry me with problems ;) — 
I am content here with the roadside hedges and streams ; and 
this contentment is the great thing for health, — and there is 
hardly anything to annoy me of absurd or calamitous human 
doing ; but still this ancient cottage life — very rude, and 
miserable enough in its torpor — but clean, and calm, not a 
vile cholera and plague of bestirred pollution, like back 
streets in London. There is also much more real and deep 
beauty than I expected to find, in some of the minor pieces of 
scenery, and in the cloud effects.' 

'I have the secret of extracting sadness from all things, 
instead of joy, which is no enviable talisman. Forgive me if 
I ever write in a way that may pain you. It is best that you 
should know, when I write cheerfully, it is no pretended cheer- 
fulness ; so when I am sad — I think it right to confess it.' 


' 3Qth July. 

' Downes* arrived yesterday quite comfortably and in fine 
weather. It is not bad this morning, and I hope to take 
him for a walk up Saddleback, which, after all, is the finest, 
to my mind, of all the Cumberland hills — though that is not 
saying much ; for they are much lower in effect, in proportion 
to their real height, than I had expected. The beauty of 
the country is in its quiet roadside bits, and rusticity of 
cottage life and shepherd labour. Its mountains are sorrow- 
fully melted away from my old dreams of them.' 

Next day he ' went straight up the steep front of Saddle- 
back by the central ridge to the summit. It is the finest 
thing I've yet seen, there being several bits of real crag-work, 
and a fine view at the top over the great plains of Penrith on 
one side, and the Cumberland hills, as a chain, on the other. 
Fine fresh wind blowing, and plenty of crows. Do you 
remember poor papa's favourite story about the Quaker whom 
the crows ate on Saddleback ? There were some of the 
biggest and hoarsest-voiced ones about the cliff that I've 
ever had sympathetic croaks from ; — and one on the top, or 
near it, so big that Downes and Crawley, having Austrian 
tendencies in politics, took it for a " black eagle." Downes 
went up capitally, though I couldn't get him down again, 
because he would stop to gather ferns. However, we did it 
all and came down to Threlkeld — of the Bridal of Triermain, 

' The King his way pursued 
By lonely Threlkeld's waste and wood,' 

in good time for me to dress and, for a wonder, go out to 
dinner with Acland's friends the Butlers.' 

As an episode in this visit to Keswick, ten days were given 
to the neighbourhood of Ambleside, ' to show Downes 

* The gardener at Denmark HilL 



• Waterhead, 

' Windermere, 

' 10th August, 1867, 

' I was at Coniston to-day. Our old Waterhead Inn, where 
I was so happy playing in the boats, eamts no more. — Its 
place is grown over with smooth Park grass — the very site of 
it forgotten ! and, a quarter of a mile down the lake, a vast 
hotel built in the railroad station style — making up, I 
suppose, its fifty or eighty beds, with coffee-room — smoking- 
room — and every pestilent and devilish Yankeeism that 
money can buy, or speculation plan. 

"ITie depression, whatever its cause, does not affect my 
strength. I walked up a long hill on the road to Coniston 
to-day (gathering wild raspberries) — ^then from this new Inn, 
two miles to the foot of Coniston Old Man; up it; down 
again — (necessarily !) — and back to dinner, without so much 
as warming myself — ^not that there was much danger of doing 
that at the top ; for a keen west wind was blowing drifts of 
cloud by, at a great pace ; and one was glad of the shelter of 
the- pile of stones, the largest and oldest I ever saw on a 
mountain top. I suppose the whole mountain is named from 
it. It is of the shape of a beehive, strongly built, about 
15 feet high (so that I made Downes follow me up it before 
I would allow he had been at the top of the Old Man) and 
covered with lichen and short moss. Lancaster sands and 
the Irish sea were very beautiful, and so also the two lakes of 
Coniston and Windermere, lying in the vastest space of sweet 
cultivated country I have ever looked over, — a great part of 
the view from the Rigi being merely over black pine forest, 
even on the plains. Well, after dinner, the evening was very 
beautiful, and I walked up the long hill on the road back 
from Coniston — and kept ahead of the carriage for two miles ; 
I was sadly vexed when I had to get in : and now — I don't 
feel as if I had been walking at all — and shall probably lie 
awake for an hoxu: or two — and feeling as if I had not had 
exercise enough to send me to sleep.' 


' Langdale, 

'13;^ Atigust, 

' Evening. 

' It is perfectly calm to-night, not painfully hot — and the 
full moon shining over the mountains, opposite my window, 
which are the scene of Wordsworth's " Excursion." It was 
terribly hot in the earlier day, and I did not leave the house 
till five o'clock. Then I went out, and in the heart of Lang- 
dale Pikes found the loveliest rock-scenery, chased with silver 
waterfalls, that I ever set foot or heart upon. The Swiss 
torrent-beds are always more or less savage, and ruinous, with 
a terrible sense of overpowering strength and danger, lulled. 
But here, the sweet heather and ferns and star mosses nestled 
in close to the dashing of the narrow streams ; — while every 
cranny of crag held its own little placid lake of amber, 
trembling with falling drops — but quietly trembling — not 
troubled into ridgy wave or foam — the rocks themselves, ideal 
rock, as hard as iron — no — not quite that, but so hard that 
after breaking some of it, breaking solid white quartz seemed 
like smashing brittle loaf sugar, in comparison — and cloven 
into the most noble masses ; not grotesque, but majestic and 
full of harmony with the larger mountain mass of which they 
formed a part. Fancy what a place ! for a hot afternoon 
after five, with no wind — and absolute solitude ; no creature 
— except a lamb or two — to mix any ruder sound or voice 
with the plash of the innumerable streamlets.' 

After spending September with his mother at Norwood 
under the care of Dr. Powell, he was able to return home, 
prepare ' Time and Tide ' for publication, and write the 
preface on Dec. 14th. On the 19th the book was out, and 
immediately bought up. A month later the second edition 
was issued. 



' And whenever the way seemed long, 
Or his heart began to fail, 
She would sing a more wonderful song, 
Or tell a more marvellous tale.' 


OF less interest to the general reader, though too im- 
portant a part of Mr. Ruskin's life and work to be 
passed over without mention, are his studies in 
Mineralogy. We have heard of his early interest in spars 
and ores ; of his juvenile dictionary in forgotten hieroglyphics ; 
and of his studies in the field and at the British Museum. 
He had made a splendid collection, and knew the various 
museums of Europe as familiarly as he knew the picture- 
galleries. In the 'Ethics of the Dust' he had chosen 
Crystallography as the subject in which to exemplify his 
method of education ; and in 1867, after finishing the letters 
to Thomas Dixon, he took refuge, as before, among the 
stones, from the stress of more agitating problems. 

In the lectiu-e on the Savoy Alps in 1863 he had referred 
to a hint of Saussure's, that the contorted beds of the lime- 
stones might possibly be due to some sort of internal action, 
resembling on a large scale that separation into concentric or 
curved bands which is seen in calcareous deposits. The con- 
tortions of gneiss were similarly analogous, it was suggested, 
to those of the various forms of silica. Mr. Ruskin did not 
adopt the theory, but put it by for examination in contrast 


with the usual explanation of these phenomena, as the simple 
mechanical thrust of the contracting surface of the earth. 

In 1863 and 1866 he had been among the Nagelfliih of 
Northern Switzerland, studying the pudding-stones and 
breccias. He saw that the difference between these forma- 
tions, in their structural aspect, and the hand-specimens in 
his collection of pisolitic and brecciated minerals was chiefly 
a matter of size; and that the resemblances in form were 
very close. And so he concluded that if the structure of the 
minerals could be fully understood, a clue might be found to 
the very puzzling question of the origin of mountain- 

Hence his attempt to analyze the structure of agates and 
similar banded and brecciated minerals, in the series of 
papers in the Geological Magazine ;* an attempt which, 
though it was never properly concluded, and fails to come to 
any general conclusion, is extremely interestingf as an account 
of beautiful and curious natural forms too little noticed by 
ordinary scientific mineralogists. 

Mr. Ruskin began by naming the different ways in which 
solid rocks became fragmentary ; of which one was by homo- 
geneous segregation, as seen in oolites and pisolites ; and 
another, by segregation of distinct substances from a homo- 
geneous paste. He showed how this latter way might explain 
some curious conditions of jasper ; how an example of brec- 
ciated malachite proved that the banded structure was not 
prior to the fractures, but that both tendencies were at work 
together ; and how in many forms of agate the same pheno- 
mena made it impossible to believe that simple successive 
deposition, and violent concussion from without, wholly 
explained their origin. He thought that enough attention 
had not been drawn to the processes of segregation ; and 

* August and November, 1867, January, April and May, 1868, 
December, 1869, and January, 1870, illustrated with very fine mezzotint 
plafiea and woodcuts. 

f See the testimony of Prof. Rupert Jones, F.R.S., in the ' Proceed- 
ings of the Geologists' Association,' vol. iv., No. 7. 


suggested that many conglomerates might not be merely a 
collection of pebbles, but concretionary, like orbicular granite 
(Napoleonite) and other nodule -structures in metamorphic 

On these analogies he suspected that some contortions and 
faults on a large scale might not be the result of mechanical 
violence, but colossal phenomena of retractation and con- 
traction; and even that many appai-ent strata had been 
produced by segregation. This idea, he said, had been 
suggested to him in a paper by Mr. George Maw, the son 
of the Mr. Maw who took him to task years before about 
' Reflections in Water.' I have not seen the paper alluded 
to, and I should not like to fix Mr. Ruskin's heresies on its 
author, who is so well known in the world of science by his 
work in geology and botany, and to the public by the 
encaustic tiles and lustre pottery of his firm. But while 
palaeontology makes it evident that the great limestone 
strata of the Alps are the result of successive deposition, it 
does seem probable that Mr. Ruskin was right in his hesita- 
tion to accept the compression-theory of mountain origin.* 

In the following papers, written during 1868, he described 
the different states of semi-crystalline silica, and the two 
great families of agates, and drew attention to the com- 
plexity of the laws under which they had been formed, and 
the insufficiency of the old theory. Meanwhile the conditions 
of crystallisation were becoming the subject of a new school 
of research, led by Dr. Clifton Sorby, to which Mr. Ruskin 
looked with eagerness for the clearing up of his difficulties ; 
but his Oxford Professorship, with the many new enterprises 
of the next ten years, forced him to lay aside the agate- 
question as a serious study. And though from time to time 
the results of the new investigations were kindly communi- 
cated to him by Dr. Sorby and Mr. Clifton Ward, and 
followed by him in the published memoirs of the microscopic 
mineralogists; though Professor Chandler Roberts helped 

* See ' The Origin of Mouutain-Ranges,' by T. Mellard Beade, C.B 
F.G.S., etc. (1886). 


him in the chemistry of gelatinous states of silica, Mr. Henry 
Willett in the study of flints, and many others in various 
departments ; he never was able to bring himself to handle 
the modern microscope and work out the whole business 
afresh, from the modern point of view. He had to leave his 
pet study, very reluctantly, to younger men; not without 
parting cautions against hasty theorising, nor without claims 
for a wider scope in their view of the subject. 

The student who cares to make himself acquainted with 
the spirit in which Mr. Ruskin approached one department 
of the subject, should take the 'Catalogue of a series of 
specimens in the British Museum (Natural History), illus- 
trative of the more common forms of Native Silica, arranged 
[presented for the most part] and described by John Ruskin, 
F.G.S.,' and spend a few hours at Cromwell Road with the 
pamphlet in his hand, over the mineral cases, just as tourists 
in Venice are seen comparing his notes with the pictures in 
the Academy. And as the shilling catalogue is by no means 
abstruse, and the specimens are more beautiful than most 
picture-shows, the unscientific reader would not find his time 
lost in learning something new about Nature, and something 
new to most readers, I suspect, about Ruskin. 

One other outcome of the analogy between minerals and 
mountains, was Mr. Ruskin's scepticism in the matter of 
cleavage and jointing, which he thought insufficiently studied 
and explained by the holders of the mechanical theory, and 
suspected to be rather akin to crystalline cleavage, both in 
aspects and origin. Not to dwell on these details, I merely 
note that a great recent authority. Professor Prestwich,* says, 
after weighing the evidence : ' The system of joints, therefore, 
seems to me to be not a simple mechanical action, but one 
combined with a condition of crystallisation; and though, 
from the influences of other mechanical forces to which the 
rocks have been exposed, and from the varying proportions 
of their constituent ingredients, we cannot expect the angles 
to present the exact definition which a crystal of the pure 
* Geology (1886), vol. i., p. 283. 


mineral would have, still there is every appearance of the 
plane-lines of shi'inkage and jointing having been guided in 
many cases, if not in all, by planes of crystalline cleavage, in 
consequence of these being those of least resistance.' 

We must now recover the thread of our story and carry 
it hastily over the year spent chiefly, though by no means 
wholly, in these mineral researches. And first to tell a 
characteristic anecdote, preserved in ' Arrows of the Chace.' 
' The Daily Telegraph of January 21st, 1868, contained a 
leading article upon the following facts. It appeared that 
a girl, named Matilda Griggs, had been nearly muidered by 
her seducer, who, after stabbing her in no less than tliirteen 
places, had then left her for dead. She had, however, still 
strength enough to crawl into a field close by, and there 
swooned. The assistance she met with in this plight was of 
a rare kind. Two calves came up to her, and disposing 
themselves on either side of her bleeding body, thus kept her 
warm and partly sheltered from cold and rain. Temporarily 
preserved, the girl eventually recovered, and entered into 
recognizances, under a sum of forty pounds, to prosecute her 
murderous lover. But "she loved much," and, failing to 
prosecute, forfeited her recognizances, and was imprisoned by 
the Chancellor of the Exchequer for her debt. " Pity the 
poor debtor," wrote the Daily Telegraph, and in the next 
day's issue appeared the following letter, probably not in- 
tended for the publication accorded to it. " Sir, — ^Except in 
' Gil Bias,' I never read of anything Astraean on the earth so 
perfect as the story in your fourth article to-day. I send 
you a cheque for the Chancellor. If forty, in legal terms, 
means four hundred, you must explain the farther require- 
ments to your impulsive public. 

' I am. Sir, 

' Your faithful servant, 

'J. RuSKIN."' 

The writer of letters like this naturally had a large cor- 
respondence, beside that which a circle of private friends and 


numberless admirers and readei-s elicited. About this time 
it grew to such a pitch that he was obliged to print a form 
excusing him from letter-writing on the ground of stress of 
work. And indeed this year, though he did not publish his 
annual volume, as usuaJ, he was fully occupied with frequent 
letters to newspapers, several lectures and addresses, a preface 
to the reprint of his old friend Cruikshank's ' Grimm,' and 
the beginning of a new botanical work, ' Proserpina,' in 
addition to the minei'alogy, and, I believe, a renewed interest 
in classical studies. Of the public addresses the most im- 
portant was that on 'The Mystery of Life and its Ai-ts,' 
delivered in the theatre of the Royal College of Science, 
Dublin (May 13th), and printed in ' Sesame and Lilies.' 

After this visit to Ireland he spent a few days at Win- 
nington; and late in August crossed the Channel, for rest 
and change at Abbeville. For the past five years Mr. 
Ruskin had found very little time for drawing ; it was twenty 
years since his last sketching of French Gothic, except for a 
study (now at Oxford), of the porch at Amiens, in 1856. 
He took up the old work where he had left it, after writing 
the 'Seven Lamps,' with fresh interest and more advanced 
powers of draughtsmanship, as shown in the pictui-e engraved 
as frontispiece to his ' Poems,' and in the pencil study of 
the Place Amiral Courbet, now in the drawing school at 

The following are extracts from the usual budget of home- 
letters ; readers of ' Fors ^ will need no further introduction to 
their old acquaintance, the tallow-chandler. 

' Abbeville, 
' Friday, 

' ISth Sept., 1868. 

' You seem to have a most uncomfortable time of it, with 
the disturbance of the house. However, I can only leave 
you to manage these things as you think best — or feel 
pleasantest to yourself. I am saddened by another kind of 
disorder. France is in everything so fallen back, so desolate 


and comfortless, compared to what it was twenty years ago — 
the people so much rougher, clumsier, more uncivil — every- 
thing they do, vulgar and base. Remnants of the old nature 
come out when they begin to know you. I am drawing at a 
nice tallow-chandler's door, and to-day, for the first time had 
to go inside for rain. He was very courteous and nice, and 
warned me against running against the candle-ends — or 
bottoms, as they were piled on the shelves, saying — " You 
must take care, you see, not to steal any of my candles " — or 
" steal Jram my candles," meaning not to i-ub them off on 
my coat. He has a beautiful family of cats — papa and 
mamma and two superb kittens — ^half Angora.' 

' %%nd Sept. 
' I am going to my cats and tallow-chandler. ... I was 
very much struck by the superiority of manner, both in him 
and in his two daughters who serve at the counter, to persons 
of the same class in England. When the girls have weighed 
out their candles, or written down the orders that are sent 
in, they instantly sit down to their needlework behind the 
counter, and are always busy, yet always quiet; and their 
father, though of course there may be vulgar idioms in his 
language which I do not recognize, has entirely the manners 
of a gentleman.' 

' 30<A Sept. . 

' I have one advantage here I had not counted on. I see 
by the papers that the weather in England is very stormy 
and bad. Now, though it is showery here, and breezy, it 
has always allowed me at some time of the day to draw. 
The air is tender and soft, invariably — even when blowing 
with force ; and to-day, I have seen quite the loveliest sunset 
I ever yet saw, — one at Boulogne in '61 was richer; but for 
delicacy and loveliness nothing of past sight ever came near 

Earlier on the same day he had written : — 

' I am well satisfied with the work I am doing, and even 
with my own power of doing it, if only I can keep myself 


from avariciously trying to do too much, and working 
hm-riedly. But I can do very little quite well, each day: 
with that however it is my bounden duty to be content. 

' And now I have a little piece of news for you. Our old 
Heme Hill house being now tenantless, and requiring some 
repaire before I can get a tenant, I have resolved to keep it 
for myself, for my rougher mineral work and mass of 
collection; keeping only my finest specimens at Denmark 
Hill. My first reason for this, is affection for the old 
house : — my second, want of room ; — ^my third, the incom- 
patibility of hammering, washing, and experimenting on 
stones, with cleanliness in my stores of drawings. And my 
fourth is the power I shall have, when I want to do anything 
very quietly, of going up the hill and thinking it out in the 
old gai-den, wheie your greenhouse still stands, and the 
aviaiy — without feai* of interruption from callers. 

' It may perhaps amuse you, in hours which otherwise 
would be listless, to think over what may be done with the 
old house. I have ordered it at once to be put in proper 
repair by Mr. Snell ; but for the furnishing, I can give no 
directions at present : it is to be very simple, at all events, 
and calculated chiefly for museum work and for stores of 
stones and books : and you really must not set your heart on 
having it ftu-nished like Buckingham Palace. 

' I have bought to day, for five pounds, the front of the 
porch of the Church of St. James. It was going to be 
entirely destroyed. It is worn away, and has little of its old 
beauty ; but as a remnant of the Gothic of Abbeville — as I 
happen to be here — and as the chiu;ch was dedicated to my 
father's patron saint (as distinct fit)m mine) I'm glad to have 
got it. It is a low arch — with tracery and niches, which ivy, 
and the Erba della Madonna, will grow over beautifully, 
wherever I rebuild it.' 

At Abbeville Mr. Ruskin had with him as usual his valet 
Crawley ; and as before he sent for Downes the gardener, to 
give him a holiday, and to enjoy his raptures over every new 


sight. Mr. C. E. Norton came on a short visit, and Mr. 
Ruskin followed him to Paris, where he met the poet Long- 
fellow (October 7). At last on Monday, 19th October, he 
wrote: — 'Only a line to-day,, for I am getting things 
together, and am a little tired, but very well, and glad to 
come home, though much mortified at having failed in half 
my plans, and done nothing compared to what I expected. 
But it is better than if I were displeased with all I had done. 
It isn't Turner — and it isn't CoiTeggio — it isn't even Prout — 
but it isn't bad.' 

Returning home, he gave an account of his autumn's work 
in the lecture at the Royal Institution, January 29th, 1869, 
on the ' Flamboyant Architecture of the Valley of the 
Somme.' This lecture was never published in full ; but part 
of the original text is printed in the third chapter of the 
work we have next to notice, ' The Queen of the Air.' 


•THE QUEEN OP THE AIR.' (1869.) 

« For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the 
things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto 
themselves.'— St. Paul (Eom. ii. 14). 

IN spite of a 'classical education' and the influence of 
Aristotle upon the immature art-theories of his earlier 
works, Mr. Ruskin was known, in his younger days, as a 
Goth, and the enemy of the Greeks. When he began life, 
his sense of justice made him take the side of Modern 
Painters against classical tradition ; his sympathy, much 
wider than that of ordinai-y critics, led him to praise Gothic 
architecture, and his common sense prompted him to recom- 
mend it as a domestic style more convenient than the 
pseudo-classic of the decadent Renaissance. Later on, when 
considering the great questions of education and the aims of 
life, he entirely set aside the common routine of Greek and 
Latin grammar as the all-in-all of culture. But this was not 
because he shared Carlyle's contempt for classical studies. 

In ' Modern Painters,' vol. iii., he had followed out the 
indications of nature-worship, and tried to analyse in general 
terms the attitude of the Greek spirit towards landscape 
scenery, as betrayed in Homer and Aristophanes and the 
poets usually read. Since that time his interest in Greek 
literature had been gradually increasing. He had made 
efforts to improve his knowledge of the language; and he 
had spent many days in sketching and studying the terra« 


cottas and vases and coins at the British Museum. He had 
also taken up some study of Egyptology, through Champollion 
and Bunsen and Birch, in the hope of tracing the origin of 
Greek decorative art. At that stage of archaeological discovery 
it was not so clearly seen as it is to-day that Egypt was only 
one factor in the development of Greece. The discoveries at 
Hissarlik and Mycenae, and in Cypnis and elsewhere, had not 
shown the Aryan and Assyrian parentage of many Greek 
customs and myths and forms of art. Comparative mythology, 
twenty-five years ago, was a department of philology, intro- 
duced to the English public chiefly by Professor Max Miiller. 
Under his influence Mr. Ruskin entered step by step upon an 
inquiry which afterwards became of singular importance in 
his life and thought. 

In 1865 he had told his hearers at Bradford that Greek 
Religion was not, as commonly supposed, the worship of 
Beauty, but of Wisdom and Power. They did not, in their 
great age, worship ' Venus,' but Apollo and Athena. And 
he regarded their m3rthology as a sincere tradition, eflfective 
in forming a high moral type, and a great school of art. In 
the 'Ethics of the Dust' he had explained the myth of 
Athena as parallel to that of Neith in Egypt; and in his 
fable of Neith and St. Barbara he had hinted at a comparison, 
on equal terms, of Ancient and Mediaeval mythology. He 
ended by saying that, though he would not have his young 
hearers believe 'that the Greeks were better than we, and 
that their gods were real angels,' yet their art and morals 
were in some respects greater, and their beliefs were worth 
respectful and sympathetic study. 

The ' Queen of the Air ' is his contribution to this study. 
Like much of his work, it is only a fragment indicating what 
he would have done, and began to do. Ever since he has 
been accumulating material for farther investigation of the 
vast, bewildering sphere which embraces, too amply for 
one man's review, the orbits of art, and science, and ethics, 
and religion, as they rise and set upon his limited horizon, 
and roll, in a mazy dance, by laws that elude his reckonings, 


round some ' far-ofF, divine event, to which the whole creation 

On March 9th, 1869, his lecture at University College, 
London, on ' Greek Myths of Cloud and Storm,' began with 
an attempt to explain in popular terms how a myth differs 
from mere fiction on the one hand and from allegory on the 
other, being ' not conceived didactically, but didactic in its 
essence, as all good art is.' He showed that Greek poetry 
dealt mth a series of Nature- myths with which were inter- 
woven ethical suggestions; that these were connected with 
Egyptian beliefs, but that the full force of them was only 
developed in the central period of Greek history, and their 
interpretation was to be read in a sympathetic analysis of 
the spirit of men like Pindar and Aeschylus. 'The great 
question,' he said, ' in reading a story is, always, not what 
wild hunter dreamed, or what childish race first dreaded it ; 
but what wise man first perfectly told, and what strong people 
first perfectly lived by it. And the real meaning of any 
myth is that which it has at the noblest age of the nation 
among whom it was current.' This, of course, is a higher 
view than that of the anthropological and archaeological 
specialist : but at the same time, the historical method is 
necessary as a preliminary and a check upon the tendency to 
fanciful interpretation, which Mr. Ruskin, in common with 
the whole philological school, does not escape. With certain 
amendments, however, his work is most valuable, as an exposi- 
tion of the system of Greek religion, the worship of four 
groups of nature-powers, in earth, water, fire and air ; and 
rising out of a low animism and fetishism into high moral 
and intellectual conceptions. 

He traced with appreciation the development of the notion 
of Athena, as the chief power of the air, from her character of 
actual atmosphere to that of the breath of human life ; and 
thence to the higher belief in a Divine spirit, indistinguishable 
at first, and among simple folk always, from the material 
breath in the nostrils of man ; but leading up to healthy views 
of morality and sincere faith in Omnipresent Deity, not far 


remote in its practical outcome from that which we have 
received from the Hebrews. 

In the next chapter he worked out, as a sequel to his 
lecture, two groups of Animal-myths ; those connected with 
birds, and especially the dove, as type of Spirit, and those 
connected with the serpent in its various significances. 
These two studies were continued, more or less, in 'Love's 
Meinie ' and in the lecture printed in ' Deucalion,' as the third 
group, that of Plant-myths, was carried on in ' Proserpina.' 
The volume contained also extracts from the lecture on the 
Architecture of the Valley of the Somme, and two numbers 
of the ' Cestus of Aglaia,' and closed with a paper on The 
Hercules of Camarina, read to the South Lambeth Art 
School on Mai'ch 15th. This study of a Greek coin had 
already formed the subject of an address at the Working 
Men's College, and anticipated the second course of Oxford 
Lectures. For the rest, ' The Queen of the Air ' is marked 
by its statement, more clearly than before in Mr. Ruskin's 
writing, of the dependence of moral upon physical life, and of 
physical upon moral science. He speaks with respect of the 
work of Darwin and Tyndall ; but, as formerly in the Rede 
Lecture, and afterwards in the ' Eagle's Nest,' he claims that 
natural science should not be pursued as an end in itself, 
paramount to all other conclusions and considerations ; but 
as a department of study subordinate to ethics, with a view to 
utility and instruction. In later times it was this principle 
which guided Mr. Ruskin in the view he took of Vivi-' 
section, and other forms of scientific research. Premising 
that science was subordinate to ethics, when the two clashed, 
as he held they did in some cases, science, he thought, was to 
give way. 

Before this book was quite ready for publication, and after 
a sale of some of his less treasured pictures at Christie's, 
Mr. Ruskin left home for a journey to Italy, to revisit the 
subjects of 'Stones of Venice,' as in 1868 he had revisited: 
those of the ' Seven Lamps.' At Vevey, on the way, he| 
wrote his preface (May 1st). 


By quiet stages he passed the Simplon, writing from 
Domo d'Ossola, 6th May 1869 :— 

' My dearest Mother, 

' I never yet had so beautiful a day for the Simplon as 
this has been ; though the skin of my face is biu:ning now all 
over — to keep me well in mind of its sunshine. I left Brieg 
at 6 exactly — light clouds breaking away into perfect calm of 
blue. Heavy snow on the col — about a league — with the 
wreaths in many places higher than the carriage. Then, 
white crocus all over the fields, with Soldanelle and Primula 
faxinosa. I walked about three miles up, and seven down, 
with great contentment ; the waterfalls being all in rainbows, 
and one beyond anything I ever yet saw ; for it fell in a pillar 
of spray against shadow behind, and became rainbow alto- 
gether. I was just near enough to get the belt broad, and 
the down part of the arch : and the whole fall became orange 
and violet against deep shade. To-morrow I hope to get 
news of you all, at Baveno.' 

' Baveno, 

' Thursday, 

'6th May, 1869. 

' It is wet this morning, and very dismal, for we are in a 
ghastly new Inn, the old one being shut up; and there is 
always a re-action after a strong excitement like the beauty 
of the Simplon yesterday, which leaves one very dull. But it 
is of no use growling or mewing. I hope to be at Milan 
to-morrow — at Verona for Sunday. I have been reading 
Dean Swift's life, and 'Gulliver's Travels' again. Putting 
the delight in dirt, which is a mere disease, aside, Swift is 
very like me, in most things : — in opinions exactly the same.' 

At Milan, next day, he went to see the St. Catherine of 
Luini which he had copied, and found it wantonly damaged 
by the carelessness of masons who put their ladders up against 
it, just as if it were a bit of common, whitewashed wall. 

On the 8th he reached Verona after seventeen years' 
absence, and on the 10th he was in Venice. There, looking 


at the works of the old painters with a fresh eye, and with 
feelings and thoughts far different from those with which he 
had viewed them as a young man, in 1845, he saw beauties 
he had passed over before, in the works of a painter till then 
little regarded by connoisseurs, and entirely neglected by the 
public. Historians of art like Crowe and Cavalcaselle* had 
indeed examined Carpaccio's works and investigated his life, 
along with the lives and works of many another obscure 
master: artists like Mr. Hook and Mr. Burne- Jones had 
admired his pictures ; Mr. Ruskin had mentioned his back- 
grounds twice or thrice in ' Stones of Venice.' But no writer 
had noticed his extraordinary interest as an exponent of the 
mythology of the Middle Ages, as the illustrator of poetical 
folk-lore derived from those antique myths of Greece, and 
newly presented by the genius of Christianity. 

This was a discovery for which Mr. Ruskin was now ripe. 
He saw at once that he had found a treasure-house of things 
new and old. He fell in love with St. Ursula as, twenty-four 
years earlier, he had fallen in love with the statue of Ilaria at 
Lucca ; and she became, as time after time he revisited Venice 
for her sake, a personality, a spiritual presence, a living ideal, 
exactly as the Queen of the Air might have been to the 
sincere Athenian in the pagan age of faith. The story of her 
life and death became an example, the conception of her 
character, as read in Carpaccio's picture, became a standard 
for his own life and action in many a time of distress and 
discouragement. The thought of 'What would St. Ursula 
say?' led him — not always, but far more often than his 
correspondents knew — to burn the letter of sharp retort upon 
stupidity, and impertinence, and to force the wearied brain 
and ovei strung nerves into patience and a kindly answer. 
And later on, the playful credence which he accorded to the 
myth deepened into a renewed sense of the possibility of 
spiritual realities, when he learnt to look, with those mediaeval 
believers, once more as a little child upon the unfathomable 
mysteries of life. 

* Their ' History of Painting in North Italy,' containing a detailed 
account of Carpaccio, was published in 1871. 


But this anticipates the story ; at the time, he found in 
Carpaccio the man who had touched the full chord of his 
feelings and his thoughts, just as, in his boyhood, Turner 
had led him, mai-velling, through the fire and cloud to the 
mountain-altar; and as, in his youth, Tintoret had inter- 
preted the storm and stress of a mind awakening to the 
terrible realities of the world. It was no caprice of a change- 
ful taste, nor love of stai-tling paradox, that brought him to 
' discover Carpaccio '; it was the logical sequence of his 
studies, and widening interests, and a view of art embracing 
far broader issues than the connoisseurship of 'Modem 
Painters,' or the didacticism of 'Seven Lamps,' or the 
historical research of ' Stones of Venice.' 

Soon after the 'Queen of the Air' was published Carlyle 
wrote : — 

' Chelsea, 

' Aug* nth, 18e9. 

' Deab RusKm, 

'Y' excell' kind and loving little note from Vevey 
reached me; but nothing since, not even precise news at 
second hand, wh'' I much desired. The blame of my not 
answering and inciting was not mine, but that of my poor 
rebelKous right-hand, — wh'' often refuses altog' to do any 
writing for me that can be read ; having already done too 
much, it probably thinks !* 

. . . ' what I wish now is to know if you are at home, and 
to see you instantly if so. Inst^^ ! For I am not unlikely to 
be off in a few days (by Steamer Some whither) and ag" miss 
you. Come, I beg, quam primilm ! 

' Last week I got y' " Queen of the Air," and read it. Euge, 
Etiffe. No such Book have I met with for long years past. 
The one soul now in the world who seems to feel as I do on 
the highest matters, and speaks mir aus dem Herzen, exactly 
what I wanted to hear ! — As to the natural-history of those 
old myths I remained here and there a little uncert" ; but as 

* Carlyle was then losing the use of his hand, and this letter is 
scribbled in bine pencil. 


to the meanings you put into them, never anywhere. All 
these things I not only "agree" with, but w^ use Thor's 
Hammer, if I had it, to enforce and put in action on this 
rotten world. Well done, well done ! — and pluck up a heart, 
and continue ag" and ag". And don't say " most g* tho*" are 
dressed in shromls'": many, many are the Phoebus Apollo 
celestial arrows you still have to shoot into the foul Pythons, 
and poisonous abominable Megatheriums and Plesiosaurians 
that go staggering ab', large as cathedrals, in our sunk Epoch 


VERONA AND OXFORD. (1869-1870.) 

' A professorship 
At Basil I Since you see so much in it, 
And think my life was reasonably drained 
Of life's delights to render me a match 
For duties arduous as such post demands, — 
Be it far from me to deny my power.' 

Browning's Paracelsus. 

THE main object of this journey was, however, not to 
study mythology, but to continue the revision of old 
estimates of architecture, and after seventeen years to 
look with a fresh eye at the subjects of ' Stones of Venice.' 

The chiu-ches and monuments of Verona had been less 
thoroughly studied than those of Venice, and now they were 
threatened with imminent restoration. On May 25th Mr. 
Ruskin wrote : — ' It is very strange that I have just been in 
time — after 17 years' delay — ^to get the remainder of what I 
wanted from the red tomb of which my old drawing hangs in 
the passage' — (the Castelbarco monument; the drawing is 
reproduced in 'Studies in Both Arts.') 'To-morrow they 
put up scaffolding to retouch, and I doubt not, spoil it for 
evermore.' He succeeded in getting a delay of ten days, to 
enable him to paint the tomb in its original state ; but before 
he went home it ' had its new white cap on and looked like a 
Venetian gentleman in a pantaloon's mask.' He brought 
away one of the actual stones of the old roof. 

On June 3 he wrote : — ' I am getting on well with all my 


own work ; and much pleased with some that Mr. Bunney is 
doing for me ; so that really I expect to carry off a great 
deal of Verona. . . . The only mischief of the place is its 
being too rich. Stones, flowers, mountains — all equally asking 
one CO look at them ; a history to every foot of ground, and 
a picture on every foot of wall ; frescoes fading away in the 
neglected streets — like the colours of the dolphin.' 

As assistants in this enterprise of recording the monuments 
of Venice and Verona, and of recording them more fully and 
in a more interesting way than by photography, he took with 
him Arthur Burgess and John Bunney, his former pupils. 
Mr. Burgess was the subject of a memoir by Mr. Ruskin in 
the Century Guild Hobby Horse (April 1887), appreciating 
his talents and lamenting his loss. Mr. Bunney, who had 
travelled with Mr. Ruskin in Switzerland in 1863, and had 
lately lived near Florence, thenceforward settled in Venice, 
where he died in 1882, after completing his great work, the 
St. Mark's now in the Ruskin Museum at Sheffield. A 
memoir of him by Mr. Wedderbum appeared in the catalogue 
of the Venice Exhibition, at the Fine Art Society's Gallery 
in November 1882. 

At Venice Mr. Ruskin had met his old friend Mr. Rawdon 
Brown,* and Count Giberto Borromeo, whom he visited at 
Milan on his way home, with deep interest in the Luinis and 
in the authentic bust of St. Carlo, so closely resembling Mr. 
Ruskin himself. Another noteworthy encounter is recorded 
in a letter of May 4th, 

' As I was drawing in the square this morning, in a lovely, 
quiet, Italian light, there came up the poet Longfellow with 
his little daughter — a girl of 12 or 13, with sfnngy-c\xA<i.A. 
flaxen hair, — curls, or waves, that wouldn't come out in damp, 
I mean. They stayed talking beside me some time. I don't 
think it was a very vain thought that came over me, that if a 
photograph could have been taken of the beautiful square of 

* Whose book on the English in Italy (from Venetian documents) 
was shortly to be published, with funds supplied by Mr. Buskin. 


Verona, in tliat soft light, with Longfellow and his daughter 
talking to me at iny work — some people both in England and 
America would have liked copies of it.' 

Readers of ' Fors ' will recognise an incident noted on the 
18th of June. ' Yesterday, it being quite cool, I went for a 
walk ; and as I came down fi'om a leather quiet lullside, a mile 
or two out of town, I past a house where the women were 
at work spinning the silk off the cocoons. There was a sort 
of whirring sound as in an English mill ; but at intervals 
they sang a long sweet chant, all together, lasting about two 
minutes — then pausing a minute and then beginning again. 
It was good and tender music, and the multitude of voices 
prevented any sense of failure, so that it was very lovel}' and 
sweet, and like the things that I mean to try to bring to 
pass.' For he was already meditating on the thoughts that 
issued in tlie proposals of St. Greorge's Guild, and tlie daily 
letters of this summer are full of allusions to a scheme for a 
great social movement, as well as to his plans for the control 
of Alpine torrents and the better irrigation of their valleys. 
On the 2nd of June he ;vTote : — ' I see more and more clearly 
every day my power of shoiving how the Alpine torrents may 
be — not subdued — but " educated." A ton-ent is just like a 
human creature. Left to gain full strength in wantonness 
and rage, no power can any more redeem it : but watch the 
channels of every early impulse, and fence tJiem, and your 
torrent becomes the gentlest and most blessing of servants.' 

His motlier was anxious for him to come home, being 
persuaded that he was overworking himself in the continued 
heat which his letters reported. But he was loath to leave 
Italy, in which, he said, his work for the future lay. He 
made two moi« visits to Venice, to draw some of the sculp- 
tured details, now quickly perishing, and to make studies of 
Tintoret and Cai-paccio. Among other friends who met him 
there was Mr. Holman Hunt, with whom he went i-ound his 
favourite Scuola di San Rocco (1st August). Two days later 
he wrote : — ' You will never believe it ; but I have actually 


been trying to draw — a baby. The baby which the priest is 
holding in the little copy of Tintoret by Edward Jones which 
my father liked so much, over the basin stand in his bed- 
room.* All the knowledge I have gained in these 17 years 
only makes me more full of aj^e and wonder at Tintoret. 
But it is so sad — so sad ; — no one to care for him but me, and 
all going so fast to ruin. He has done that infant Christ in 
about five minutes — and I worked for two hours in vain, and 
could not tell why in vain — the mystery of his touch is so great.' 

Final farewell was said to Verona on the 10th of August, 
for the homeward journey by the St. Gothard, and Giessbach, 
where he found the young friend of 1866 now near her end, 
— and Thun, where he met Professor C. E. Norton. On the 
way he wrote : — 


' Saturday, 

' 14«A August, 1869. 

' My dearest Mothee, 

'Yesterday — exactly three months from the day on 
which I entered Verona to begin work, I made a concluding 
sketch of the old Broletto of Como, which I drew first for the 
7 lampsf — I know not how many years ago, — and left Italy, 
for this time — ^having been entirely well and strong every day 
of my quarter of a year's sojourn there. 

' This morning, before breakfast, I was sitting for the first 
time before Luini's Crucifixion : for all religious-art qualities 
the greatest picture south of the Alps — or rather, in 

' And just after breakfast I got a telegram from my cousin 
George announcing that I am Professor of Art — the first — at 
the University of Oxford. 

' Which will give me as much power as I can well use — and 
would have given pleasure to my poor father — and therefore 
to me — once. It will make no difference in my general plans, 

, * Mr. and Mrs. Burne-Jones had been in Venice in June, 1862 ; the 
artist, then young and comparatively unknown, with a commission to 
copy for Mr. Buskin. 

-j- ' Stones of Venice,' vol. 1., plate 6. 


about travel etc. I shall think quietly of it as I drive up 
towards St. Gothard to-day. 

' Ever, my dearest mother, ever your loving son, 


Six years earlier, while being examined before the Royal 
Academy commission, he had been asked : ' Has it ever struck 
you that it would be advantageous to art if there were at the 
universities professors of art who might give lectures and give 
instruction to young men who might desire to avail themselves 
of it, as you have lectures on geology and botany ?' To which 
he had replied : ' Yes, assuredly. The want of interest on 
the part of the upper classes in art has been very much at 
the bottom of the abuses which have crept into all systems of 
education connected with it. If the upper classes could only 
be interested in it by being led into it when young, a great 
improvement might be looked for, therefore I feel the ex- 
pediency of such an addition to the education of our 
universities.' His interest in the first phase of University 
Extension, and his gifts of Turners to Oxford and Cambridge, 
had shown that he was ready to go out of his way to help in 
the cause he had promoted. His former works on art, and 
reputation as a critic, pointed to him as the best qualified 
man in the country for such a post. He had been asked by 
his Oxford friends, who were many and influential, to stand 
for the Professorship of Poetry, three years earlier. There 
was no doubt that the election would be a popular one, and 
creditable to the University. On the other hand, Mr. Ruskin 
as Professor would have a certain sanction for his teaching, 
he believed ; the title, and the salary of ■^£'358 a year were 
hardly an object to him; but the position, as accredited 
lecturer and authorised instructor of youth opened up new 
vistas of usefulness, new worlds of work to conquer ; and he 
accepted the invitation. On August 10th he was elected 
Slade Professor.* 

* The electors were the Very Reverend Dr. Liddell, Dean of Ch. Ch., 
Dr. Acland, and the Rev. G. Eawlinson, being three of the curators of 
the University galleries, the Rev. H. O. Coxe, Bodley's Librarian, Sir 


He retmned home by the end of August to prepare him- 
self for his new duties. During the last period he had been 
giving, on an average, half a dozen lectures a year, which 
amply filled his amiual volume. Twelve lectures were required 
of the professor. Many another man would have read his 
twelve lectures and gone his way ; but Mr. Ruskin was not 
going to work in that perfunctory mannei-. He undertook 
to revise his whole teaching; to write for his hearers a 
completely new series of treatises on art, beginning with first 
principles and broad generalisations, and proceeding to the 
different departments of sculpture, engraving, landscape- 
painting and so on ; then taking up the history of art : — an 
encyclopaedic scheme, for which, no doubt, he was qualified ; 
which he could have carried out if he had found nothing else 
to do. But he took this Oxford work not as a substitute for 
other occupation, exonerating him from farther claims upon 
his energy and time ; nor as a bye-play that could be slurred. 
He tried to do it thoroughly, and to do it in addition to the 
various work already in hand, under which, as it was, he used 
to break down, yearly, after each climax of eflRort. 

This autumn and winter, with his first and most important 
course in preparation, he was still writing letters to the Daily 
Telegraph ; being begged by Carlyle to come — * the sight of 
your face will be a comfort,' says the poor old man — and 
undertaking lectures at the Royal Artillery Institution, 
Woolwich, and at the Royal Institution, London. The 
Woolwich lecture, given on December 14th, was that added 
to later editions of the 'Crown of Wild Olive,' under the 
title of ' The Future of England.' The other, February 4th, 
1870, on ' Verona and its Rivers,' involved not only a lecture 
on art and history and contemporary political economy, but 
an exhibition of the drawings which he and his assistants had 
made during the preceding summer. 

Four days later he opened a new period in his career with 
his inaugural Lecture in the Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford, 

Francis Grant, President of the Boyal Academy of London, George 
Grote, Esq., President of University College, London, and R. Fisher, Esq., 
one of the executors of the will of the late Felix Slade, Esq., the donor. 



' Essa e la luce etema di Sigieri, 
C!he l^^endo nel vico degli strami 
SiUogizzo invidiosi verL' 

Dante, Farad, x. 136. 



' CSauuot we hire some Abelard to lecture to us 1' 

Thoreau, Walderi. 

ON Tuesday, 8th February, 1870, the Slade Professor's 
lecture-room was crowded to ovei-flowing with members 
of the University, old and young, and their friends, 
who flocked to hear, and to see, the author of ' Modern 
Painters.' The place was densely packed long before the 
time; the ante-rooms were filled with personal friends of 
Mr. Ruskin, hoping for some corner to be found them at the 
eleventh hour; the doors were blocked open, and besieged 
outside by a disappointed multitude. 

Professorial lectures are not usually matters of gi-eat 
excitement : it does not often happen that the accommoda- 
tion is foimd inadequate. After some hasty arrangements 
Sir Hem-y Acland pushed his way to the table, announced 
that it was impossible for the lecture to be held in that 
place, and begged the audience to adjom-n to the Sheldonian 
Theatre. At last, welcomed by all Oxford, the Slade 
Professor appeared, to deliver his inaugural addiess. 

Those earlier courses are still fresh in the memory of many 
a young hearer who has forgotten, in the stress of busy life, 
much else of what he saw and learned at Oxford, twenty 
years ago. We undergraduates used to run out to the 
Museum or to the Drawing School, where the lectures were 
given, in a scrambling hurry from our Ethics or Prose Class, 


or of an afternoon leaving the hasty luncheon, — and giving 
up the river — grumbling at the awkward hours which, as the 
Professor often told us, he could never arrange to suit every- 
body. And when we reached the place it was to find half 
the seats taken by earlier comers, whose broad hats, then in 
the fashion, were completely in the way of seeing the lecturer 
and the illustrations he had brought. But still we went, 
crowds of us ; for there was always something to interest, 
and a dim sense that it was an opportunity which might soon 
be lost, of hearing one that spoke with authority, and not as 
the dons.* 

It was not strictly academic, the way he used to come in, 
with a little following of familiars and assistants, — exchange 
recognition with friends in the audience, arrange the objects 
he had brought to show, — fling off his long-sleeved Master's 
gown, and plunge into his discourse. His manner of delivery 
had not altered much since the time of the Edinburgh 
Lectures. He used to begin by reading, in his curious 
intonation, the carefully-written passages of rhetoric, which 
usually occupied only about the half of his hour. By-and-by 
he would break ofl^, and with quite another air extemporise the 
liveliest interpolations, describing his diagrams or specimens, 
restating his arguments, re-enforcing his appeal. His voice, 
till then artificially cadenced, suddenly became vivacious ; his 
gestures, at first constrained, became dramatic. He used to 
act his subject, apparently without premeditated art, in the 
liveliest pantomime. He had no power of voice-mimicry, 
and none of the ordinary gifts of the actor. A tall and slim 
figure, not yet shortened from its five feet ten or eleven by 
the habitual stoop, which ten years later brought him 
down to less than middle height; a stiff, blue frock-coat; 
prominent, half-starched wristbands, and tall collars of the 
Gladstonian type ; and the bright blue stock which every one 
knows for his heraldic bearing : no sings or gewgaws, but a 
long thin gold chain to his watch : — a plain old-English 

* The inaugural course was given Feb. 8, 16, 23 ; March 3, 9, 16 and 
23, 1870. 


gentleman, neither fashionable bourgeois nor artistic mounte- 

But he gave himself over to his subject with such 
vmreserved intensity of imaginative power, he felt so vividly 
and spoke so from the heart, that he became whatever he 
talked about, never heeding his professorial dignity, and 
never doubting the sympathy of his audience. Lecturing on 
birds, he strutted like the chough, made himself wings like 
the swallow; he was for the moment a cat, in explaining 
that engraving was the art of scratching. If it had been an 
affectation of theatric display, we ' emancipated school-boys,' 
as the Master of University used to call us, would have seen 
through it at once, and scorned him. But it was so evidently 
the expression of his intense eagerness for his subject, so 
palpably true to his purpose, and he so carried his hearers 
with him, that one saw in the grotesque of the performance 
only the guarantee of sincerity. 

If one wanted more proof of that, there was his face, 
still young-looking and beardless ; made for expression, and 
sensitive to every change of emotion. A long head, with 
enormous capacity of brain, veiled by thick wavy hair, not 
affectedly lengthy but as abundant as ever, and darkened 
into a deep brown, without a trace of grey ; and short light 
whiskers growing high over his cheeks. A forehead not on 
the model of the heroic type, but as if the sculptor had 
heaped his clay in handfuls over the eyebrows, and then 
heaped more. A big nose, aquiline, and broad at the base, 
with great thoroughbred nostrils and the ' septum ' between 
them thin and deeply depressed ; and there was a turn down 
at the comers of the mouth, and a breadth of Jower lip, that 
reminded one of his Verona griffin, half eagle, half lion; 
Scotch in original type, and suggesting a side to his character 
not all milk and roses. And under shaggy eyebrows, ever so 
far behind — Karrjpeifiel'; — the fieriest blue eyes, that changed 
with changing expression, from grave to gay, from lively to 
severe; that riveted you, magnetised you, seemed to look 
through you and read your soul ; and indeed, when they 


lighted on you, you felt you had a soul of a sort. What 
they really saw is a mystery. Some who had not persuaded 
them to see as others see, maintained that they only saw 
what they looked for ; others, who had successfully deceived 
them, that they saw nothing. No doubt they might be 
deceived ; but I know now that they often took far shrewder 
measurements of men — I do not say of women — than anybody 

For the Inaugural Course, he was, so to speak, on his best 
behaviour, guarding against too hasty expression of indi- 
viduality. He read careful orations, stating his maturest 
views on the general theory of art, in picked language, 
suited to the academic position. The little volume is most 
valuable as giving Ruskin on Art at his best. It is not 
discursive or entertaining, like ' Modem Painters,' and con- 
tains no pictures either with pen or pencil; but it is 
crammed full of thought, and of the results of thought ; 
for any one whose general knowledge is equal to interpreting 
it, the most valuable guide. One understands why the 
public which loves its ' Modem Painters ' does not read the 
' Lectures on Art,' but it is surely an oversight on the part 
of many would-be critics of Ruskinism to ignore the re- 
statement, in a serious course of lectures before an educated 
audience, of views which youthful works either failed to 
expound, or expounded in a loose and inadequate manner. 

The Slade Professor was also expected to organise and 
superintend the teaching of drawing ; and his first words in 
the first lecture expressed the hope that he woidd be able to 
introduce some serious study of Art into the University, 
which, he thought, would be a step toward realising some of 
his ideals of education. He had long felt that mere talking 
about Art was a makeshift, and that no real insight could be 
got into the subject without actual and practical dealing with 
it. He found a South Kensington School in existence at 
Oxford, with an able master, Mr. Alexander Macdonald; 
and though he did not entirely approve of the methods in 
use, tried to make the best of the materials tp his band. 


accepting but enlarging the scope of the system. The South 
Kensington method had been devised for industrial designing, 
primai-ily ; Mr. Ruskin's desire was to get undergraduates to 
take up a wider subject, to familiarise themselves with the 
technical excellences of the great masters, to study nature, 
and the diffei-ent processes of art, — drawing, painting and some 
forms of decorative work, such as, in especial, goldsmiths' 
work, out of which the Florentine school had sprung. He 
did not wish to train artists, but, as before in the Working 
Men's College, to cultivate the habit of mind that looks at 
nature and life, not analytically, as science does, but for the 
sake of external aspect and expression. By these means he 
hoped to breed a race of judicious patrons and critics, the 
best service any man can render to the cause of art. 

And so he got together a mass of examples in addition to 
the Turners which he had already given to the University 
galleries. He placed in the school a few pictures by Tintoret, 
some drawings by Rossetti, Hohnan Hunt, and Bume-Jones, 
and a great number of fine casts and engravings. Ha arranged 
a series of studies by himself and others, as ' copies,' fitted, 
hke the Turners in the National Gallery, with shding fi-ames 
in cabinets for convenient reference and removal. After 
spending most of his first Lent Term in this work, he went 
home for a month to prepai-e a catalogue, which was published 
the same year : the school not being finally opened until 
October 1871. During these first visits to Oxford he was 
the guest of Sir Henry Acland; on April 29, 1871, Pro- 
fessor Ruskin, already honorary student of Christ Church, 
was elected to an honorary fellowship at Corpus, and enabled 
to occupy rooms, vacated by the Rev. Henry Fumeaux, who 
gave up his fellowship on marrying Mr. Arthur Severn's twin- 

* In a charming paper {Pelican Record for Jnne, 1894) Mr. J. W. 
Oddie gives some reminiscences of ' Buskin at Corpos'; describing the 
ceremony of his admission, his quaint and humorous conversation in 
the Common Boom, and his rooms (Fellows' buildings, No. f2 staircase, 
first floor right) with their Turners and Titian, Baphael portrait and 
Meissouier ' Napoleon.' 
18— '2 


After this work well began, he went abroad for a vacation 
tour with a party of friends — as in 1866 ; Lady Trevelyan's 
sister, Mrs. Hilliard, to chaperone the same young ladies, and 
three servants with them. They started on April 27th ; 
stayed awhile at Meurice's to see Paiis ; and at Geneva, to 
go up the Saleve, twice, in bitter black east wind. Then 
across the Simplon to Milan and Venice, where he made the 
careful drawing given to the Oxford Schools (engraved in 
Cook's ' Studies in Ruskin '). This however was to be a com- 
plete holiday, and he devoted himself to his company. After 
a month at Venice and Verona, where he recurred to his 
scheme against inundation, then ridiculed by Punch, but 
afterwards taken up seriously by the Italians, they went to 
Florence, and met Professor Norton. In the end of June 
they tiu^ned homewards, by Pisa and Lucca, Milsin and Como, 
and went to visit their friend Mai-ie of the Giessbach. 

At the Giessbach they spent a fortnight, enjoying the July 
weather and glorious walks,* in the middle of which war was 
suddenly declared between Germany and France. The 
summons of their German waiter to join his i-egiment, 
brought the news home to them, as such personal examples 
do, more than columns of newspaper print ; and as hostilities 
were rapidly beginning, Mr. Ruskin, with the gloomiest fore- 
bodings for the beautiful country he loved, took his party 
home straight across France, before the ways should be closed. 

August was a month of feverish suspense to everybody ; to 
no one more than to Mr. Ruskin, who watched the progress 
of the armies while he worked day by day at the British 
Museum preparing lectures for next term. This was the 
course on Greek relief- sculpture, published as 'Aratra 
Pentelici.'f It was a happy thought to illustrate his subject 
from coins, rather than from disputed and mutilated 
fragments ; and he worked into it his revised theory of the 
origin of art — not Schiller's nor Herbert Spencer's, and yet 

* During one of which occurred the adventure of the snake that 
showed presence of mind, told in the ' Eagle's Nest,' § 101. 
t Delivered Nov. 24, 26, Dec. 1, 3, 8 and 10, 1870. 


akin to theirs of the ' Spieltrieb,' — involving the notion of 
doll-play ; — man as a child, re-creating himself, in a double 
sense ; imitating the creation of the world, and really creating 
a sort of secondary life in his art, to play with, or to worship. 
This book, too, the critics of Ruskin have unanimously over- 
looked; except for the last lecture of the series (published 
separately) in which the Professor compared — as the outcome 
of classic art in Renaissance times — Michelangelo and Tintoret, 
greatly to the disadvantage of Michelangelo. This heresy 
against a popular creed served as text for some severe criticism 
of Mr. Ruskin's ar-t teaching by followers of the academic 
school ; but as he said in a prefatory note to the pamphlet, 
readers ' must observe that its business is only to point out 
what is to be blamed in Michael Angelo, and that it assumes 
the fact of his power to be generally known,' and he refers to 
Mr. Tyrwhitt's ' Lectures on Christian Art ' for the opposite 
side of the question. 

Meanwhile the war was raging. Mr. Ruskin was asked by 
his friends to raise his voice against the ravage of France ; 
but he replied that it was inevitable. At last, in October, he 
read how Rosa Bonheur and Edouard Frere had been 
permitted to pass through the German lines, and next day 
came the news of the bombardment of Strasburg, with 
anticipations of the destruction of the Cathedral, library, 
and picture galleries, foretelhng, as it seemed, the more 
terrible and irreparable ruin of the treasure-houses of art in 
Paris. His heart was with the French, and he broke silence 
in the bitterness of his spirit, upbraiding their disorder and 
showing how the German success was the victory of ' one of 
the truest monarchies and schools of honour and obedience 
yet organised under heaven.' He hoped that Germany, now 
that she had shown her power, would withdraw, and demand 
no indemnity. But that was too much to ask. 

Before long Paris itself became the scene of action, and in 
January 1871 was besieged and bombai-ded. So much of 
Mr. Ruskin's work and affection had been given to French 
Gothic that he could not endure to think of his beloved 


Sainte Chapelle as being actually under fire — to say nothing 
of the horror of human suffering in a siege. He joined 
Cardinal (then Aixhbishop) Manning, Professor Huxley, Sir 
John Lubbock and Mr. James Knowles in forming a ' Paris 
Food Fund,' which shortly united with the Lord Mayor's 
committee for the general relief of the besieged. The day 
after writing on the Sainte Chapelle he attended the meeting 
at the Mansion House, and gave a subscription of ^£'50. He 
followed events anxiously through the storm of the Commune 
and its fearful ending, angered at the fratricide and anarchy 
which no Mansion-House help could avert or repair. 

It was no time for talking on art, he felt : instead of the 
full course, he could only manage three lectures on landscape, 
and these not so completely prepai-ed as to make them ready 
for printing. Before Christmas he had been once more to 
Woolwich, where Colonel Brackenbury invited him to address 
the cadets at the prize-giving of the Science and Art depart- 
ment,* in which the Rev. W. Kingsley, an old friend of Mr. 
Ruskin's and of Turner's, was one of the masters. Two of 
the lectures of the ' Crown of Wild Olive ' had been given 
there, with more than usual animation, and enthusiastically 
received by crowded and distinguished audiences, among 
whom was Prince Arthur (the Duke of Connaught), then at 
the Royal Military Academy. This time it was the ' Story 
of Arachne,' an address on education and aims in life ; open- 
ing with reminiscences of his own childhood, and pleasantly 
telling the Greek myths of the spider and the ant, with in- 
terpretations for the times. 

The three lectures on landscape,f or rather, the contrast of 
the Greek and Gothic spirit as seen chiefly in landscape 
painters, were briefly reported in the Athenomm. In these 
he dwelt on the necessity of human and historic interest in 
scenery ; and compared Greek ' solidity and veracity ' with 
Gothic 'spirituality and mendacity,' Greek chiaroscuro and 
tranquil activity with Gothic colour and 'passionate rest.' 
Botticelli's ' Nativity ' (now in the National Gallery) was then 
* Deo. 13, 1870. f Given Jan. 20, Feb. 9 and 23, isn. 


being shown at the Old Masters' Exhibition, and Mr. Ruskin 
took it, along with the works of Cima, as a type of one form 
of Greek Art. Rubens and Rembrandt he considered as less 
refined developments of the same spirit. 

In the greatest painters, he said, the excellences of the 
two schools were united : Titian and Tintoret were Gothic 
colourists approaching the Greek ideal : Holbein and Turner 
were chiaroscurists of the Greek type, blossoming into colour. 
In landscape, he said, there was little that perfectly illustrated 
the Gothic spirit. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and 
their school tried to revive it, but they undervalued the 
difficulty of their art, and took refuge in dramatic sensation 
instead of making themselves the competent exponents of 
real beauty ; and failed. 

This 1871 was an eventful year in Mr. Ruskin's home life. 
In April his cousin, Miss Agnew, who had been seven years 
at Denmark Hill, was married to Mr. Arthur Severn, and left 
her friends as sheep without a shepherdess. Mr. Ruskin, who 
had added to his other work the additional labour of ' Fors 
Clavigera,' went for a summer's change to Matlock. July 
opened with cold, dry, dark weather, dangerous for out-of-door 
sketching. One morning early — for he was always an early 
riser — he took a chill while painting a spray of wild rose 
before breakfast (the drawing now in the Oxford Schools). 
He was already overworked, and it ended in a severe attack 
of internal inflammation which nearly cost him his life. He 
was a difficult patient to deal with. Though one of his best 
friends wsis a physician and another a surgeon he usually pre- 
ferred to be his own doctor, as long as he could, believing more 
in diet and exercise than in medicine. The local practitioner 
who attended him used to tell how he refused remedies, and in 
the height of the disease asked what would be worst for him. 
I was told at Matlock that the answer was 'sherry'; Mr. 
Ruskin himself said it was beef ! Anyhow, he took it ; and 
to everybody's surprise, recovered.* 

* Mrs. Arthur Severn, in a note on the proof, says : ' It was a slice 
of cold roast beef he hungered for, at Matlock (to our horror, and dear 


But it had been a painful scare to his friends — especially to 
those who could get no news. Carlyle, who had been in the 
Highlands, with his right hand useless, and his amanuensis, 
Miss Aitken, far away, was surprised and distressed at the 
silence of his friend, and at last wrote anxiously : — . . . 
' There came the most alarming rumours of your illness at 
Matlock ; and both Lady Ashburton and myself (especially 
the latter pai-ty, for whom I can answer best) were in a state 
really deserving pity on your account, till the very newspapers 
took compassion on us, and announced the immediate danger 
to be past. . . . Froude has returned, and is often asking 
about you ; as indeed are many others, to whom the radiant 
qualities which the gods have given you and set you to work 
with, in such an element, are not unknown. Write me a word 
at once, dear Ruskin.' 

During the illness at Matlock his thoughts revei'ted to 
the old ' Iteriad ' times of forty years before, when he had 
travelled with his parents and cousin Mary from that same 
' New Bath Hotel,' where he was now lying, to the Lakes ; 
and again he wearied for ' the heights that look adown upon 
the dale. The crags are lone on Coniston.'' If he could only 
lie down there, he said, he shovdd get well again. 

He had not fully recovered before he heard that Mr. W. J. 
Linton, the poet and wood-engraver, wished to sell a house 
and land at the very place : ,£1500, and it could be his. 
Without question asked he bought it at once; and as it 

Lady Mount Temple's, who were nursing him) : there was none in the 
hotel, and it was late at night ; and Albert Goodwin went off to get 
some, somewhere, or anywhere. All the hotels were closed ; but at 
last, at an eating-house in Matlock Bath, he discovered some, and came 
back triumphant with it, wrapped up in paper ; and J. R. enjoyed his 
late supper thoroughly; and though we all waited anxiously till the 
morning for the result, it had done no harm 1 And when he was told 
pepper was bad for him, he dredged it freely over his food in defiance ! 
It was directly after our return to Denmark Hill he got Linton's letter 
offering him this place (Brantwood). There are, I believe, ten acres of 
moor belonging to Brantwood.' Mr. Albert Goodwin, E.W.S., the 
landscape painter, travelled, about this time, in Italy with Mr. Buskin. 


would be impossible to lecture at Oxford so soon after his 
illness, he set off, before the middle of September, with his 
friends the Hilliards to visit his new possession. They found 
a rough-cast country cottage, old, damp, decayed ; smoky 
chimneyed and rat-riddled ; but ' five acres of rock and moor 
and streamlet; and,' he wrote, 'I think the finest view I 
know in Cumberland or Lancashire, with the sunset visible 
over the same.' 

The spot was not, even then, without its associations : 
Gerald Massey the poet, Mr. W. J. Linton, and his wife 
Mrs. Lynn Linton the novelist. Dr. G. W. Kitchin (Dean of 
Durham) had lived and worked there, and former inhabitants 
had adorned it outside with revolutionary mottoes — ' God 
and the people,' and so on. It had been a favourite point 
of view of Wordsworth's; his 'seat' was pointed out in 
the grounds. Tennyson had lived for a while close by: his 
' seat,' too, was on the hill above Lanehead. 

But the cottage needed thorough repair, and that cost 
more than rebuilding, not to speak of the additions of later 
years, which have ended by making it into a mansion sur- 
rounded by a hamlet. And there was the furnishing ; for 
Denmark Hill, where his mother lived, was still to be head- 
quarters. Mr. Ruskin gave carte-blanche to the London 
upholsterer with whom he had been accustomed to deal ; and 
such expensive articles were sent that when he came down for 
a month next autumn, he reckoned that, all included, his 
country cottage had cost him not less than ^4000. 

But he was not the man to spend on himself without 
sharing his wealth with others. On Nov. 22nd, Convocation 
accepted a gift from the Slade Professor of £5000 to endow 
a mastership of drawing at Oxford, in addition to the pictures 
and ' copies ' placed in the schools ; he had set up a relative 
in business with d£'15,000, which was unfortunately lost; 
and at Christmas he gave ^^7000, the tithe of his remain- 
ing capital, to the St. George's Fund ; of which more here- 

On November 23rd he was elected I>ord Rector of St. 


Andrew's University by 86 votes against 79 for Lord Lytton. 
After the election it was discovered that, by the Scottish 
Universities Act of 1858, no one holding a professorship at a 
British University was eligible. Professor Ruskin was dis- 
qualified, and gave no address ; and Lord Neaves was chosen 
in his place. 

Mrs. Ruskin was now ninety years of age : her sight was 
nearly gone, but she still retained her powers of mind, and 
ruled with severe kindliness her household and her son. Her 
old servant Anne had died in March. Anne had nursed John 
Ruskin as a baby, and had lived with the family ever since, 
devoted to them, and ready for any disagreeable task, ' so that 
she was never quite in her glory,' ' Praaterita ' says, ' unless 
some of us were ill. She had also some parallel speciality for 
saying disagreeable things, and might be relied upon to give 
the extremely darkest view of any subject, before proceeding 
to ameliorative action upon it. And she had a very credit- 
able and republican aversion to doing immediately, or in set 
terms, as she was bid ; so that when my mother and she got 
old together, and my mother became very imperative and 
particular about having her teacup set on one side of her 
little round table, Anne would observantly and punctiliously 
put it always on the other : which caused my mother to state 
to me, every morning after breakfast, gravely, that if ever a 
woman in this world was possessed by the Devil, Anne was 
that woman.' 

But this gloomy Calvinism was tempered with a bene- 
volence quite as uncommon. It was from his parents that 
Mr. Ruskin learned never to turn off a servant, and the 
Denmark Hill household was as easy-going as the legendary 
' baronial ' retinue of the good old times. A young friend 
asked Mrs. Ruskin, in a moment of indiscretion, what such 
a one of the ancient maids did, — for there were several 
without apparent occupation about the house. Mrs. Ruskin 
drew herself up and said, 'She, my dear, puts out the 

And yet, in her blindness, she could read character un- 


hesitatingly. That was, no doubt, why people feared her. 
When Mr. Secretary Howell, in the days when he was still 
the oracle of the Ruskin-Rossetti circle, had been regaling 
them with his wonderful tales, after dinner, she would throw 
her netting down and say, ' How can you two sit there and 
listen to such a pack of lies.!" She objected strongly, in 
these later years, to the theatre ; and when sometimes her son 
would wish to take a party into town to see the last new 
piece, her permission had to be asked, and was not readily 
granted, unless to Miss Agnew, who was the ambassadress in 
such affairs of diplomacy. But while disapproving of some of 
his worldly ways, and convinced that she had too much 
indulged his childhood, the old lady loved him with all the 
intensity of the strange fierce lioness nature, which only one 
or two had ever had a glimpse of. And when (Dec. 5th, 
1871) she died, trusting to see her husband again — not to be 
near him, not to be so high in heaven, but content if she 
might only see him, she said — her son was left ' with a sur- 
prising sense of loneliness.' He had loved her truly, obeyed 
her strictly and tended her faithfully ; and even yet hardly 
realized how much she had been to him. He buried her in 
his father's grave, and wrote upon it, ' Here beside my father's 
body I have laid my mother's : nor was dearer earth ever 
returned to earth, nor purer life recorded in heaven.'* 

* This inscription was added about 1885 : the monument was 
Mr. Euskin's design. The place had been chosen rather for its 
picturesque surroundings than for family associations ; Shirley being 
merely a favourite drive. Its name is now well known to garden- 
lovers from the Shirley poppy, first grown there by the clergyman of 
the place, Canon Wilkes. 


•FOES' BEGUN. (1871-1872.) 

* Nous ne recevons Texistence 
Qu'afin de travailler pour nous, ou pour autrui ; 
De ce devoir aacr^ quiconque se dispense 
Est puni par la Providence, 
Par le besoin, ou par I'ennui.' 


ON January 1st, 1871, was issued a small pamphlet, 
headed ' Fors Clavigera,'" in the form of a letter to 
the working men and labourers of England, dated 
from Denmark Hill, and signed ' John Ruskin.' It was not 
published in the usual way, but sold by the author's engraver, 
Mr. George Allen, at Heathfield Cottage, Keston, Kent. It 
was not advertised ; press-copies were sent to the leading 
papers ; and of course the author's acquaintance knew of its 
publication. Strangers, who heard of this curious proceeding, 
spread the report that in order to get Ruskin's latest, you had 
to travel into the country, with your sevenpence in your hand, 
and transact your business among Mr. Allen's beehives. So 
you had, if you wanted to see what you were buying ; for no 
arrangements were made for its sale by the booksellers : 
sevenpence a copy, carriage paid, no discount, and no abate- 
ment on taking a quantity. 

By such pilgrimages, but more easily through the post, the 
new work filtered out, in monthly instalments, to a limited 
number of buyers. After three years the price was raised to 
tenpence. In 1875 the first thousands of the earlier numbers 

' PORS ' BEGUN 285 

were sold : — ' the public has a very long nose,' Mr. Ruskin 
once said, 'and scents out what it wants, sooner or later.' 
A second edition was issued, bound up into yearly volumes, 
of which eight were ultimately completed. Meanwhile the 
work went on, something in the style of the old Addison 
Spectator ; each part containing twenty pages, more or less, 
by Mr. Ruskin, with added contributions from various 

' Fors Clavigera ' is practically a continuation of ' Time 
and Tide,' and addressed, not to ' working men ' only, but to 
the workers of England, those who, like Thomas Dixon, had 
ears to hear, in whatever rank of life. Its name, like itself, 
is mystic, and changes content as it goes on. The Fate or 
Force that bears the Club, or Key, or Nail : that is, in three 
aspects, — as Following, or Fore-ordaining, Deed (or Courage), 
and Patience, and Laws, unknown or known, of nature and 
life ; so that the ' Third Fors,' that plays so large a part in 
this later period, is simply Fortune. The general sense of 
the title expresses the general drift of the work ; to show 
that life is to be bettered by each man's honest eiFort, and 
to be borne, in many things he cannot better, by his wise 
resignation ; but that above all, and through all, and in all, 
there works a Power outside of him, to will and to do, to 
reward and to punish, eventually, by laws which, if he 
choose, he may partially understand, and, for the remainder, 
may trust. 

To read ' Fors ' is like being out in a thunderstorm. At 
first, you open the book with interest, to watch the signs of 
the times. While you climb your mountain — shall we say 
the Old Man of Coniston ? — at unawares there is a darkening 
of the cloud upon you, and the tension of instinctive dread, 
as image after image arises of misery, and murder, and 
lingering death, with here and there a streak of sun in the 
foreground, only throwing the wildness of the scene into more 
rugged relief; and through the gaps you see broad fields of 
ancient history, like lands of promise left behind. By-and-by 
the gloom wraps you. The old thunder of the Ruskinian 


paragraph, shortened now to whip-lash cracks, reverberates 
unremittingly from point to point, raising echoes, sounding 
deeps ; allusions, suggestionsj intimations, stirring the realm 
of chaos, that ordinarily we are glad to let slumber, but now 
terribly discern, by flashes of thought, most unexpectedly 
arriving. Fascinated by the hammer-play of Thor, berserk- 
ing among Rime-giants — customs that ' hang upon us, heavy 
as frost ' — ^you begin to applaud; when a sudden stroke rolls 
your own standpoint into the abyss. But if you can climb 
forward, undismayed, to the summit, the storm drifts by ; 
and you see the world again, all new, beneath you — ^how 
rippling in Thor's laughter, how tenderly veiled in his tears ! 

The charm of ' Fors ' is neither in epigram nor in anecdote, 
but in the sustained vivacity that runs through the texture 
of the work ; the reappearance of golden threads of thought, 
glittering in new figures, and among new colours; and 
throughout all the variety of subject a unity of style unlike 
the style of his earlier works, where flowery rhetorical 
passages are tagged to less interesting chapters, separately 
studied sermonettes interposed among the geology, and 
Johnson, Locke, Hooker, Carlyle — or whoever happened to 
be the author he was reading at the time — frankly imitated. 
It was always clever, but often artificial ; like the composition 
of a Renaissance painter who inserts his bel corpo ignvdo to 
catch the eye. In 'Fors,' however, the web is of a piece, 
all sparkling with the same life; though as it is gradually 
unwound from the loom it is hard to judge the design. 
That can only be done when it is reviewed as a whole — an 
easy task now, since the 96 letters have been printed in foiu- 
small volumes. 

At the time, his mingling of jest and earnest was mis- 
understood even b^ friends. The author learnt too painfully 
the danger of seeming to trifle with cherished beliefs. He 
forswore levity, but soon relapsed into the old style, out of 
sheer sincerity : for he was too much in earnest not to be 
frankly himself in his utterances, without writing up to, or 
down to, any other person's standard. 


With all the declamation, and all the wit, there was 
substance enough of solid and reasonable purpose to knit the 
work together. It was hardly, as one of his old friends said, 
his mind's wastepaper basket ; but the unfolding of wrappings, 
perhaps unnecessary, round a definite proposal. He began 
by declining all connection with ordinary political life in any 
form ; he said that the existing order of things was wholly 
wrong, and just for that reason the existing methods of 
government could not set them right, by acts of a parliament 
which he simply declined to recognise as efficient to cope with 
the question. Instead of that, rescue was to come from in- 
dividuals, as it has always done before in times of barbarism 
and anarchy. If men would, each in his place, carry out the 
rudiments of justice and social morality — doing good work 
well, helping others, harming none, and showing themselves 
law-worthy — if such-minded men and women would withdraw 
from the struggle for success in the world and set the example 
of better things in a wholesome country life ; that, he felt, 
would really effect a change. It was like the old scheme of 
St. Benedict ; the formation of agricultural communities ; by 
which Europe was, even more than by the feudal and chivalric 
institutions imitated in ' Time and Tide,' founded and civilised 
out of swampy forests and lawless barbarism. 

Mr. Ruskin did not wish to lead a colony or to head a 
revolution. He had been pondering for fifteen years the 
cause of poverty and crime, and the conviction had grown 
upon him that modem commercialism was at the root of it 
all. Other men in other lands were being gradually led to the 
same conclusion by different ways ; and French Communism, 
German Socialism, Russian Anarchism, were the expressions 
of a kindred movement — but very diflferently developed. On 
the Continent the wrong was open and obvious, in the form 
of tyrannical government in church and state; the remedy 
suggested by precedent was violent rebellion. Here, in 
England, with apparent liberty of conduct and opinion, the 
same evils took a more subtle shape ; and were practised by 
the kindliest men and women with the best intentions. The 


slow and sure pace of our constitutional reforms accustomed 
us to a grumbling content, and a disinclination for extreme 

Mr. Ruskin's attacks on commercialism — his analysis of its 
bad influence on all sections of society — were too vigorous 
and uncompromising for the newspaper editors who received 
' Fors,' and even for most of his private friends. There were, 
however, some who saw what he was aiming at : and let it be 
remarked that his first encouragement came from the highest 
quarters. Just as Sydney Smith, the chief critic of earlier 
days, had been the first to praise ' Modern Painters,' in the 
teeth of vulgar opinion, so now Carlyle spoke for ' Fors.' 

*5, Cheynb Row, 
• Chelsea, 

' April ZOth, 1871. 
'Dear Ruskin, 

' This " Fors Clavigera,'"' Letter 5th, which I have just 
finished reading, is incomparable ; a quasi-sacred consolation 
to me, which almost brings tears into my eyes ! Every word 
of it is as if spoken, not out of my poor heart only, but out 
of the eternal skies ; words winged with Empyrean wisdom, 
piercing as lightning, — and which I really do not remember 
to have heard the like of. Continue, while you have such 
utterances in you, to give them voice. They will find and 
force entrance into human hearts, whatever the "angle of 
incidence " may be ; that is to say, whether, for the degraded 
and inhuman Blockheadism we, so-called " men," have mostly 
now become, you come in upon them at the broadside, at the 
top, or even at the bottom. Euge, Euge !- — 

' Yours ever, 

'T. Carlyle.' 

Others, like Sir Arthur Helps, joined in this encouragement. 
But the old struggle with the newspapers began over again. 

They united in considering the whole business insane, 
though they did not doubt his sincerity when Mr. Ruskin 
put doAvn his own money, the tenth of what he had, as he 


recommended his adherents to do. By the end of the year 
he had set aside ■i'TOOO toward establishing a company to be 
called of ' St. George,' as representing at once England and 
agriculture. Sir Thomas Dyke Acland and the Right Hon. 
W. Cowper-Temple (afterwards Lord Mount Temple), though 
not pledging themselves to approval of the scheme, undertook 
the trusteeship of the fund. A few friends subscribed ; in 
June 1872, after a year and a half of 'Fors,' the first 
stranger sent in his contribution, and at the end of three 
years ^"236 13*. were collected, to add to his d&TOOO, and a 
few acres of land were given. A start was made, of which we 
shall have to trace the fortunes in the sequel. 

Meanwhile Mr. Ruskin practised what he preached. He 
did not preach renunciation ; he was not a Pessimist any 
more than an Optimist. Sometimes he felt he was not doing 
enough; he knew very well that others thought so. I 
remember his saying, in his rooms at Oxford in one of those 
years : ' Here I am, trying to reform the world, and I suppose 
I ought to begin with myself. I am trying to do St. Bene- 
dict's work, and I ought to be a saint. And yet I am living 
between a Turkey carpet and a Titian, and drinking as much 
tea' — ^taking his second cup — 'as I can swigP 

That was the way he put it to an undergraduate ; to a lady 
friend he wrote later on, ' I'm reading history of early saints, 
too, for my Amiens book, and feel that I ought to be 
scratched, or starved, or boiled, or something unpleasant ; 
and I don't know if I'm a saint or a sinner in the least, in 
mediaeval language. How did the saints feel themselves, I 
wonder, about their saintship !' 

It is very easy to preach, and not so difficult to practise 
the great Renunciation. But what then .'' It is very hard 
to see clearly, and infinitely hard to follow, the straight path 
of even-handed justice, and the fulfilment of duty to all the 
complex claims of life in the midst of a crooked and perverse 

K he had forsaken all and followed the vocation of 
St. Francis, — he has discussed the question candidly in ' Fors ' 


for May 1874, — ^would not his work have been more eiFectual, 
his example more inspiring ? Conceivably : but that was not 
his mission. His gospel was not one of asceticism ; it called 
upon no one for any sort of suicide, or even martyrdom. He 
required of his followers that they should live their lives to 
the full in ' Admiration, Hope and Love ': and not that they 
should sacrifice themselves in fasting and wearing of camels'- 
hair coats. He wished them to work, to be honest, and just, 
in all things immediately attainable. He asked the tenth of 
their living — not the widow's two mites ; and it was deeply 
painful to him to find, sometimes, that they had so interpreted 
his teaching : as when he wrote, later, to Miss Beever : — ' One 
of my poor " Companions of St. George " who has sent me, 
not a widow's but a parlour-maid's (an old schoolmistress) 
" all her living," and whom I foimd last night, dying, slowly 
and quietly, in a damp room, just the size of your study 
(which her landlord won't mend the roof of), by the light of 
a single tallow candle, — dying, I say, slowly of consumption, 
not yet near the end, but contemplating it with sorrow, 
mixed partly with fear lest she should not have done all she 
could for her children! The sight of this and my own 
shameful comforts, three wax candles and blazing fire and 
dry roof, and Susie and Joanie for friends ! Oh me, Susie, 
what is to become of me in the next world, who have in this 
life all my good things !' 

— ^AU ? No, not neai-ly all. But even of what he had no 
man was ever readier to spend and sacrifice. 

After carrying on ' Fors ' for some time his attention was 
drawn by Mr. W. C. Sillar to the question of ' Usury.' At 
first he had seen no crying sin in Interest. He had held that 
the 'rights of capital' were visionary, and that the tools 
should belong to him that can handle them, in a perfect state 
of society ; but he thought that the existing system was no 
worse in this respect than in others, and his expectation of 
reform in the plan of investment went hand-in-hand with his 
hope of a good time coming in everything else. So he quietly 
accepted his rents, as he accepted his Professorship, for example, 


thinking it his business to be a good landlord and spend his 
money generously, just as he thought it his business to retain 
the existing South Kensington drawing school, and the Oxford 
system of education — not at all his ideal — and to make the 
best use of them. 

A lady who was his pupil in di-awing, and a believer in his 
ideals of philanthropy. Miss Octavia Hill, undertook to help 
him in 1864 in efforts to reclaim part — though a very small 
part — of the lower-class dwellings of London. Half a dozen 
houses in Marylebone left by Mr. Ruskin's father, to which 
he added three more in Paradise Place, as it was euphemistic- 
ally named, were the subjects of their experiment. They 
were ridiculed at first; but by the noblest endeavour they 
succeeded, and set an example which has been followed in 
many of our towns with great results. They showed what a 
wise and kind landlord could do by caring for tenants, by 
giving them habitable dwellings, recreation ground and 
fixity of tenure, and requiring in return a reasonable and 
moderate rent. Mr. Ruskin got five per cent, for his capital, 
instead of twelve or more, which such property generally 
returns, or at that time returned. 

But when he began to write against rent and interest there 
were plenty of critics ready to cite this and other investments 
as a damning inconsistency. He was not the man to offer 
explanations at any time. It was no defence to say that he 
took less and did more than other landlords. And so he was 
glad to part with the whole to Miss Hill ; nor did he care to 
spend upon himself the ,£3500, which I believe was the price. 
It went right and left in gifts : till one day he cheerfully re- 

' It's a' gane awa' 
Like snaw aflf a wa'.' 

' Is there really nothing to show for it ?' he was asked. 
' Nothing,' he said, ' except this new silk umbrella.' 

The tea-shop was one of Mr. Ruskin's 'experiments' in 
connection with 'Fors.' He himself disliked the word, be- 
cause it savoured of failure. But words are what we make of 


them; and in this case he made experiment mean success. 
He had talked so much of the possibility of carrying on 
honest and honourable retail trade, that he felt bound to 
exemplify his principles. He took a house, No. 19, Padding- 
ton Street, with a corner shop, near his Marylebone property, 
and set himself up in business as a teaman. Mr. Arthur 
Severn painted the s'gn, in neat blue letters; the window- 
was decked with fine old china, bought from a Cavaliere near 
Siena, whose unique collection had been introduced to notice 
by Professor Norton ; and Miss Harriet Tovey, an old servant 
of Denmark Hill, was established there, like Miss Mattie in 
' Cranford,' or rather like one of the salaried officials of ' Time 
and Tide,' to dispense the unadulterated leaf to all comers. 
No advertisements, no self-recommendation, no catchpenny 
tricks of trade were allowed ; and yet the business went on, 
and, I am assured, prospered with legitimate profits. 

At first, various kinds of the best tea only were sold ; but 
it seemed to the tenant of the shop that coffee and sugar 
ought to be included in the list. This was not at all in 
Mr. Ruskin's programme, and there were great debates at 
home about it. At last he gave way, on the understanding 
that the shop was to be responsible for the proper roasting of 
the coffee according to the best recipe. 

After some time Miss Tovey died. And when, in the 
autumn of 1876, Miss Octavia Hill proposed to take the 
house and business over and work it with the rest of the 
Marylebone property, the offer was thankfully accepted. 

Another of his principles was cleanliness; 'the speedy 
abolition of all abolishable filth is the first process of educa- 
tion.' Indeed, it was one of his chief differences with an ill 
world that fouled its own nest — with sewage in its rivers and 
smoke in its lungs. There was ' nothing so small and mean,' 
as his George Herbert had said, that it did not come into his 
province. If the prophet had bidden us do some great thing ! 
But his teaching was to attack the enemy in detail, and carry 
on a guerilla warfare with all the powers of darkness. 

It was a very unimportant outpost of the Devil, it might 


appear, that he attacked when he undertook to keep pertain 
streets, not crossings only, cleaner than the public seemed to 
care for, between the British Museum and St. Giles'. But 
that labour came to his hand, and he did it with his might. 
He took the broom himself, for a start, put on his gardener, 
Downes, as foreman of the job, and engaged a small staff of 
helpers. The work began, as he promised, in a humorous 
letter to the Pall Mall Gazette upon New Year's Day, 1872, 
and he kept his three sweepers at work for eight hours daily 
' to show a bit of our London streets kept as clean as the 
deck of a ship of the line.' 

There were some difficulties, too. One of the staff was an 
extremely handsome and lively shoeblack, picked up in St. 
Giles'. It turned out that he was not unknown in the world : 
he had sat to artists — to Mr. Edward Clifford, to Mr. Severn ; 
and went by the name of 'Cheeky.' Every now and then 
Mr. Ruskin ' and party ' drove round to inspect the works. 
Downes could not be everywhere at once : and Cheeky used 
to be caught at pitch and toss or marbles in unswept Museum 
Street. Mr. Ruskin rarely, if ever, dismissed a servant ; 
but street sweeping was not good enough for Cheeky, and so 
he enlisted. The army was not good enough, and so he 
deserted ; and was last seen disappearing into the darkness, 
after calling a cab for his old friends one night at the Albert 

The Oxford diggings and St. George's farms afterwards 
claimed Downes' services. Enough however had been done 
to set the example, and to show that 

' Who sweeps a — street — as for Thy laws, 
Makes that, and the action, fine.' 

One more escapade of this most unpractical man, as they 
called him. Since his fortune was rapidly melting away, 
he had to look to his works as an ultimate resource : they 
eventually became his only means of livelihood. One might 
suppose that he would be anxious to put his publishing busi- 
ness on the most secure and satisfactory footing ; to facilitate 


sale, and to ensure profit. But he had views. He objected 
to advertising ; though he thought that in his St. George's 
Scheme he would have a yearly Book Gazette drawn up by 
responsible authorities, indicating the best works. He dis- 
trusted the system of unacknowledged profits and percentages, 
though he fully agreed that the retailer should be paid for his 
work, and wished, in an ideal state, to see the shopkeeper a 
salaried official. He disliked the bad print and paper of the 
cheap literature of that day, and knew that people valued 
more highly what they did not get so easily. He had 
changed his mind with regard to one or two things — religion 
and glaciers chiefly — about which he had written at length in 
earlier works. 

So he withdrew his most popular books — ' Modern 
Painters ' and the rest — from circulation, though he was per- 
suaded by the publisher to reprint " Modem Painters and 
' Stones of Venice ' once more — ' positively for the last time,' 
as they said the plates would give no more good impressions. 
He had his later writings printed in a rather expensive style ; 
at first by Smith & Elder, after two years by Messrs. Watson 
& Hazell (now Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ltd.), and the 
method of publication is illustrated in the history of ' Sesame 
and Lilies,' the first volume of these ' collected works.' It 
was issued by Smith & Elder, May, 1871, at 7*., to the trade 
only, leaving the retailer to fix the price to the public. In 
September, 1872, the work was also supplied by Mr. George 
Allen, and the price raised to 9*. 6d. (carriage paid) to trade 
and public alike, with the idea that an extra shilling, or 
nearly ten per cent., might be added by the bookseller for his 
trouble in ordering the work. If he did not add the com- 
mission, that was his own aflFair; though with postage of 
order and payment, when only one or two copies at a time 
were asked for, this did not leave much margin. So it was 
doubled, by the simple expedient of doubling the price ! — or, 
to be accurate, raising it to 18*. (carriage paid) for 20«. over 
the counter. It was freely prophesied by business men that 
this would not do : however, at the end of fifteen years the 


sixth edition of this work in this form was being sold, in spite 
of the fact that, five years before, a smaller reprint of the 
same book had been brought out at 5s., and was then in its 
fourth edition of 3,000 copies each. 

Compared with the enormous sale of sensational novels and 
school books, this is no great matter ; but for a didactic 
work, offered to the public without advertisement, and in the 
face of the almost universal opposition of the book-selling 
trade, it means not only that, as an author, Mr. Ruskin had 
made a secure reputation, but also that he deserved the curious 
tribute once paid him by the journal of a big modem shop 
(Compton House, Liverpool) as a ' great tradesman.' 

His high prices were a stumbling block to most of his 
readers; and he finally withdrew his objection to cheap- 
ness, on finding that it need not mean bad printing, and 
that there are many people who, though they cannot afford 
the old-fashioned scholar's library, have the old-fashioned 
scholar's respect for books. Formerly, when clerks from 
Glasgow or working men from Manchester wrote to say that 
they really wanted to read him, but really could not afibrd, 
he replied with a growl that if a child in the gutter wanted a 
picture book he would say, ' Come out of that, first !' Which, 
though a hard saying, truly represented his attitude. He 
distrusted people who lamented their dismal lot, and showed 
no courage to mend it : who protested a thirst for Nature 
and Art, and yet took no steps to enjoy what they could get, 
or to get. what they could enjoy, — 'So here we sit sullen in 
the black slime ' — or d attristiam nella belletta negra. If they 
bought anything of his, there was ' Fors,' in which he was 
giving his best, at the price, as he said, of two pots of beer a 
month 1 


OXFORD TEACHING. (1872-1875.) 

' How should he care what men may say, 
Who see no heaven day by day, 
And dream not of his hidden way 1 

' For though betwixt dull earth and him 
Such clouds and mists deceptive swim, 
That to his eyes life's wa.ys look dim ; 

' Yet when on high he lifts his gaze 
He sees the stars' untroubled ways 
And the divine of endless days.' 

To 'the Ethereal Euskin' {Spectator, Juue 5th, 1875). 

EARLY in 1872, after bringing out 'Munera Pulveris,' 
the essays he had written ten years before for Fraser on 
economy; after getting those street-sweepers to work 
near the British Museum, where he was making studies of 
animals and Greek sculpture ; and after once more addressing 
the Woolwich cadets, this time* on the Bird of Calm (the 
mythology of the Halcyon), Professor Ruskin went to Oxford 
to give a course of ten lecturesf on the Relation of Natural 
Science to Art, afterwards published under the title of ' The 
Eagle's Nest.' He wrote to Professor Norton, ' I am, as 
usual, unusually busy. When I get fairly into my lecture work 
at Oxford I always find the lecture would come better some 
other way, just before it is given, and so work from hand to 

* January 13, 1872. 

t Feb. 8, 10, 15, 17, 22, 24, 29 ; March 2, 7, and 9. 


mouth. I am always unhappy, and see no good in saying so. 
But I am settling to my work here — ^recklessly — to do my 
best with it : feeling quite sure that it is talking at hazard 
for what chance good may come. But I attend regularly in' 
the schools as mere drawing-master, and the men begin to 
come in one by one, about fifteen or twenty already ; several 
worth having as pupils in any way, being of temper to make 
good growth of.' 

Why was he always unhappy ? — It was not that Mr. W. 
B. Scott criticised ' Mr. Ruskin's influence' in that March ; or 
that by Easter he had to say farewell to his old home on 
Denmark Hill, and settle 'for good' at Brantwood. Nor 
that he could go abroad again for a long summer in Italy 
with Mr. and Mrs. Severn and the Hilliards and Mr. Albert 
Goodwin : though it was a busy time they spent. They 
started about the middle of April, and on the journey out he 
wrote, beside his ' Fors,' which always went on, a preface to 
the Rev. R. St. John Tyrwhitt's ' Christian Art and Symbo- 
lism.' He drew the Apse at Pisa, half-amused and half- 
woi-ried by the little ragamuffin who varied the tedium of 
watching his work by doing horizontal-bar tricks on the rail- 
ings of the Cathedral green. Then to Lucca, where, to show 
his friends something of Italian landscape, he took them for 
rambles through the olive farms and chestnut woods, among 
which Miss Hilliard lost her jewelled cross. Greatly to Mr. 
Ruskin's delight, as a firm believer in Italian peasant-virtue, 
it was found and returned without hint of reward. 

At Rome they visited old Mr. Severn, and then went 
homeward by way of Verona, where Mr. Ruskin wrote an 
account of the Cavalli monuments for the Arundel Society, 
and Venice, where he returned to the study of Carpaccio. 
At Rome he had been once more to the Sistine, and found 
that on earlier visits the ceiling and the Last Judgment had 
taken his attention too exclusively. Now that he could look 
away from Michelangelo he become conscious of the claims of 
Botticelli's frescoes, which represent, in the Florentine school, 
somewhat the same kind of interest that he had found in 


Carpaccio. He became enamoured of Botticelli's Zipporah, 
and resolved to study the master more closely. On reaching 
home he had to prepare ' The Eagle's Nest ' for publication ; 
in the preface he gave special importance to Botticelli, and 
amplified it in lectures on early engraving, that autumn ;* in 
which he quoted with appreciation the passage on the Venus 
Anadyomene from Mr. Pater's ' Studies in the Renaissance ' 
just published. 

This sudden enthusiasm about an unknown painter amused 
the Oxford public: and it became a standing joke among 
the profane to ask who was Ruskin's last great man. It 
was in answer to that, and in expression of a truer under- 
standing than most Oxford pupils attained, that Bourdillon 
of Worcester wrote on ' the Ethereal Ruskin,' — that was 
Carlyle's name for himf : — 

' To us this star or that seems bright, 
And oft some headlong meteor's flight 
Holds for awhile our raptured sight. 

' But he discerns each noble star ; 
The least is only the most far, 
Whose worlds, may be, the mightiest are.' 

The critical value of this course however, to a student of art- 
history, is impaired by his using as illustrations of Botticelli, 
and of the manner of engraving which he took for standard, 
certain plates which were erroneously attributed, and impres- 
sions of them which perhaps misrepresent their original con- 
dition, as intended by the artist. ' It is strange,' he wrote in 
despair to Professor Norton, ' that I hardly ever get anything 
stated without some grave mistake, however true in my main 
discourse.' But in this case a fate stronger than he had taken 
him unawares. The circumstances do not extenuate the error 

* ' Ariadne Florentina,' delivered on Nov. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 and Dec. 
7, and repeated on the following Thursdays. Mr. Buskin's first mention 
of Botticelli was in the course on Landscape, Lent Term, 1871. 

t In a copy of ' The Early Kings of Norway ' is this inscription : 
' To my dear and ethereal Euskin, whom God preserve. Chelsea, 4 May 
1875.' The signature alone is in Carlyle's hand. 


of the Professor, but they explain the difficulties under whicl 
his work was done. 

For on his return to England this August, 1872, an event 
had happened, too important in its consequences to be left 
unnoticed, though too painful for more than a passing 

Many of his readers know, and many more must suspect, 
that there was some reason for his being ' always unhappy,' — 
that something at this period came to a crisis, that it turned 
out unfortunately, and wrecked, ' on a low lee shore,' a career 
which though stormy had been prosperous, and was now 
approaching the desired haven. The cloud that rested on his 
own life was, without doubt, the result of a strange and wholly 
unexpected tragedy in another's. 

It was an open secret — his attachment to a lady, who had 
been his pupil, and was now generally understood to be his 
fiancee. She was far younger than he ; but at fifty-three he 
was not an old man ; and the friends who fully knew and 
understood the affair favoured his intentions, and joined in 
the hope, and in auguries for the happiness which he had 
been so long waiting for, and so richly deserved. But now 
that it came to the point the lady finally decided that it was 
impossible. He was not at one with her in religious matters. 
He could speak lightly of her Evangelical creed — ^it seemed 
he scoffed in ' Fors ' at her faith. She could not be unequally 
yoked with an unbeliever. To her, the alternative was plain ; 
the choice was terrible : yet, having once seen her path, she 
turned resolutely away. 

Three years after, as she lay dying, he begged to see her 
once more. She sent to ask whether he could yet say that he 
loved God better than he loved her ; and when he said ' No,' 
her door was closed upon him for ever. 

Meanwhile, in the bitterest despair he sought refuge, as he 
had done before, in his work. He accepted the lesson, though 
he, too, could not recant ; still he tried to correct his apparent 
levity in the renewed seriousness and more earnest tone of 
' Fors,' speaking more plainly and more simply, but without 


concession. He wrote on the next Christmas Eve to a 
Aberdeen Bible- class teacher : — 

' If you care to give your class a word directly from me, say 
to them that they will find it well, throughout life, never to 
trouble themselves about what they ought not to do, but 
about what they ought to do. The condemnation given from 
the Judgment Throne — most solemnly described — is all for 
the imdones and not for the dones. People are perpetually 
afraid of doing wrong ; but unless they are doing its reverse 
energetically, they do it all day long, and the degree does not 

'Make your young hearers resolve to be honest in their 
work in this life. Heaven will take care of them for the 

That was all he could say: he did not know there was 
another life : he hoped there was : and yet, if he were not a 
saint or a Christian, was there any man in the world who was 
nearer to the kingdom of heaven than this stubborn heretic ? 

His heretical attitude was singular. He was just as far 
removed from adopting the easy antagonism of science to 
religion as from siding with religion against- science. In a 
paper singularly interesting — and in his biography important 
— on the ' Nature and Authority of Miracle,' read to the 
Metaphysical Society (Feb. 11th, 1873), he tried to clear up 
his position. 

' The phenomena of the universe,' he said, ' with which we 
are acquainted, are assumed to be, under general conditions, 
constant, but to be maintained in that constancy by a supreme 
personal mind ; and it is farther supposed that, under par- 
ticular conditions, this ruling Person interrupts the constancy 
of these phenomena, in order to establish a particular relation 
with inferior creatiures.' He thought that the religious mind 
was sometimes hasty in claiming that miracles were worked 
for private advantage — but he believed that mii-acles have 
happened and do happen. 'A human act may be super- 
doggish, and a divine act super-human, yet all three acts 
absolutely natural. . . . We can only look for an imperfect 


and interrupted, but may surely insist on an occasions 
manifestation of miraculous credentials by every minister or 
religion. ... " These signs shall follow them that believe " 
are words which admit neither of qualification nor misunder- 
standing ; and it is far less arrogant in any man to look for 
such Divine attestation of his authority as a teacher, than to 
claim, without it, any authority to teach. And assuredly it 
is no proof of any unfitness or unwisdom in such expectations 
that, for the last thousand years, miraculous powers seem to 
have been withdrawn from, or at least, indemonstrably pos- 
sessed by, a church which, having been again and again warned 
by its Master that Riches were deadly to Religion, and Love 
essential to it, has nevertheless made wealth the reward of 
theological learning, and controversy its occupation.' 

With that year expired the term for which he had been 
elected to the Slade Professorship, and in January 1873 he 
was re-elected. In his first three years he had given five 
courses of lectures designed to introduce an encyclopaedic 
review and reconstruction of all he had to say upon art. 
Beginning with general principles, he had proceeded to their 
application in history, by tracing certain phases of Greek 
sculpture, and by contrasting the Greek and the Gothic 
spirit as shown in the treatment of landscape, from which he 
went on to the study of early engraving. The application of 
his principles to theory was made in the course on- Science 
and Art (' The Eagle's Nest '). Now, on his re-election, he 
proceeded to take up these two sides of his subject, and to 
illustrate his view of the right way to apply science to art, by 
a course on Birds, in Nature, Art and Mythology, and next 
year by a study of Alpine forms. The historical side was 
continued with lectures on Niccola Pisano and early Tuscan 
sculpture, and in 1874 with an important, though unpub- 
lished, course on Florentine Art. 

It is to this cycle of lectures that we must look for that 
matured Ruskinian theory of art which his early works do 
not reach; and which his writings between 1860 and 1870 
do not touch. Though the Oxford lectures' are only a frag- 


ment of what he ought to have done, they should be sufficii 
to a careful reader; though theu* expression is sometimes 
obscured by difliise treatment, they contain the root of the 
matter, thought out for fifteen years since the close of the 
more briUiant, but less profound, period of 'Modern Painters \ 

The course on Birds* was given in the drawing school at 
the University Galleries. The room was not large enough 
for the numbers that crowded to hear Professor Ruskin, and 
each of these lectures, like the previous and the following 
courses, had to be repeated to a second audience. Great 
pains had been given to their preparation — much greater than 
the easy utterance and free treatment of his theme led his 
hearers to believe. For these lectures and their sequel, pub- 
lished as 'Love's Meinie,'' he collected an enormous number of 
skins — ^to compare the plumage and wings of different species ; 
for his work was with the outside aspect and structure of 
birds, not with their anatomy. He had models made, as 
large as swords, of the different quill-feathers, to experiment 
on their action and resistance to the air. He got a valuable 
series of drawings by H. S. Marks, R.A., and made many 
careful and beautiful studies himself of feathers and of birds 
at the Zoological Gardens, and the British Museum; and 
after all, he had to conclude his work saying, ' It has been 
throughout my trust that if death should write on these, 
" What this man began to build, he was not able to finish," 
God may also write on them, not in anger, but in aid, " A 
stronger than he cometh." ' 

Two of the lectures on birds were repeated at Eton-f before 
the boys' Literary and Scientific Society and their friends; 
and between this and 1880 Mr. Ruskin often went to address 
the same audience, with the same interest in young people 
that had taken him in earlier years to Woolwich. 

After a long vacation at Brantwood, the first spent there, 
he went up to give his course on Early. Tuscan Art (' Val 

♦ March 15, May 2 and 9 ; repeated March 19, May 5 and 12, 1873. 
t May 10 and 17. 


d'Aino').* The lectures were printed separately and sold p*- 
the conclusion, and the first numbers were sent to Carlyl ^ 
whose unabated interest in his friend's work was shown in his 
letter of Oct. 31st: — 'After several weeks of eager expec- 
tation I received, morning before yesterday, the sequel to 
your kind little note, in the shape of four bright quarto 
lectures (forwarded by an Aylesbury printer) on the His- 
torical and Artistic Development of Val d'Amo. Many 
thanks to you for so pleasant and instructive a gift. The 
work is full of beautiful and delicate perceptions, new ideas, 
both new and true, which throw a brilliant illumination over 
that important piece of History, and awake fresh curiosities 
and speculations on that and on other much wider subjects. 
It is all written with the old nobleness and fire, in which no 
other living voice, to my knowledge, equals yours. Perge, 
perge ; — and, as the Irish say, " more power to your elbow f 
I have yet read this " Val d'Amo " only once. Froude snatched 
it away from me yesterday; and it has then to go to my 
brother at Dumfries. After that I shall have it back.' . . . 

During that summer and autumn Mr. Ruskin suffered from 
nights of sleeplessness or imnaturally vivid dreams, and days 
of unrest and feverish energy, alternating with intense fatigue. 
The eighteen lectures in less than six weeks, a ' combination 
of prophecy and play-acting,' as Carlyle had called it in his 
own case, and the unfortunate discussion with an old-fashioned 
economist who undertook to demolish Ruskinism without 
understanding it, added to the causes of which we are already 
aware, brought him to New Year 1874, in ' failing strength, 
care, and hope.' He sought quiet at the seaside, but found 
modem hotel-life intolerable ; he went back to town and 
tried the pantomimes for distraction, — saw Kate Vaughan in 
Cinderella, and Violet Cameron in Jack in the Box, over and 
over again, and found himself ' now hopelessly a man of the 
world ! — of that woeful outside one, I mean. It is now Sun- 
day ; half-past eleven in the morning. Everybody else is 

* On Mondays and Thursdays, Oct. 21, 23, 27, 30, Nov. 3, 6, 10, 13, 
17, 20 ; repeated on the Wednesdays and Fridays following. 


gone to church — and I am left alone with the cat, in i 
world of sin.' Thinking himself better, he went to Oxford, 
and announced a course on Alpine form ; but after a week 
was obliged to retreat and go home to Coniston, still hoping 
to return and give his lectiures. But it was no use. The 
gloom without deepened the gloom within ; and he took the 
wisest course in trying Italy, alone this time with his old 
servant Crawley. 

The greater part of 1874 was spent abroad — first travelling 
through Savoy and by the Riviera to Assisi, where he fell 
dangerously ill again, as at Matlock in 1871. He dreamt in 
his illness that they had made him a brother of the third 
degree of the order of St. Francis — a fancy that took strong 
hold of his mind ; and he wrote his ' Fors' for May under great 
temptation to follow St. Francis, not in adopting his creed, 
but in imitating his renunciation. But saving commonsense 
reminded him of his duties to his pupils at Oxford, and he 
contented himself with playing at monks with the last sur- 
vivors of the great Franciscan convent. He wrote to Miss 
S. Beever : — 

' The Sacristan gives me my coffee for lunch in his own 
little cell, looking out on the olive woods ; then he tells me 
stories of conversions and miracles, and then perhaps we go 
into the sacristy and have a reverent little poke-out of relics. 
Fancy a great carved cupboard in a vaulted chamber full of 
most precious things (the box which the Holy Virgin's veil 
used to be kept in, to begin with), and leave to rummage in 
it at will ! Things that are only shown twice in the year or 
so, with fumigation ! all the congregation on their knees — 
and the sacristan and I having a great heap of them on the 
table at once, like a dinner service ! I really looked with 
great respect on St. Francis's old camel-hair dress.' 

Thence he went to visit Mrs. and Miss Yule at Palermo, 
deeply interested in Scylla and Charybdis, Etna and the 
metopes of Selinus. His interest in Greek art had been 
shown, not only in a course of lectures, but in active support 
to archaeological explorations. He said once, 'I believe 


heartily in diggings, of all sorts.' Meeting General L. " 
di Cesnola and hearing of the wealth of ancient remains ju 
C)-prus then newly discovered, Mr. Ruskin placed ,£'1000 at 
his disposal. In spite of the confiscation of half the treasure- 
trove by the local Grovemment, Greneral di Cesnola was able, 
in April 1875, to announce that he had shipped a cargo of 
antiquities, including many vases, terra-cottas, and fiagments 
of sculpture, which proved most valuable as illustrations of 
the gi-owi;h of Greek art from the earhest Egypto- Assyrian 
form into the later periods. 

The landscape of Theocritus and the remains of ancient 
glories roused him to energetic sketching — a sign of returning 
strength, which continued when he reached Rome, and enabled 
him to make a very fine copy of Botticelli's Zipporah, and 
other details of the Sistine frescoes. 

The account of this journey can be gathered in more detail 
than we can spare it here, in ' Hortus Inclusus ' and ' Fors.' 
Late in October he reached England, just able to give the 
promised Lectures on Alpine forms,* — I remember his curious 
attempt to illustrate the neve-masses by pouring flonr on a 
model ; — and a second course on the Aesthetic and Mathe- 
matic schools of Florence ;f and a lecture on Botticelli at 
Eton, of which the Literary and Scientific Society's minute- 
book contains the following report : — 

' On Saturday, Dec 12th (1874), Professor Ruskin lectured 
before a crowded, influential and excited audience, which 
comprised our noble Society and a himdred and thirty gentle- 
men and ladies, who eagerly accepted an invitation to hear 
Professor Ruskin " talk " to us on Botticelli. 

' It is utterly impossible for the unfortunate secretary of 
the Society to transmit to writing even an abstract of this 
address; and it is some apology for him when beauty of 
expression, sweetness of voice, and el^ance in imagery defy 
the utmost efiForts of the pen.' 

Just before leaving for Italy he had been told that the 

* Oct 27, 30 ; Nov. 3 and 6, 1874. 

+ Nov. 10. 13, 17, 20, 24, 27 ; Dea 1 and 4, 1874. 


Royal Institute of British Architects intended to present hii 
with their Gold Medal in acknowledgment of his services to 
the cause of architecture ; and during his journey official 
announcement of the award reached him. He dictated from 
Assisi, where he was at the moment (June 12, 1874) seriously 
ill, a letter to Sir Gilbert Scott, explaining why he declined 
the honour intended him. He said in effect that if it had 
been offered at a time when he had been writing on architec- 
ture it would have been welcome ; but it was not so now that 
he felt all his efforts to have been in vain and the profession 
as a body engaged in work — such as the ' restoration ' of 
ancient buildings — with which he had no sympathy. ' That 
I have myself failed, I have, as you tell me, again and again 
confessed. That I bftve made the most fatal mistakes, I have 
also confessed. That I have received no help, but met the 
most scornful opposition in every effort I have ever made 
which came into collision with the pecuniary interests of 
modem builders, may, perhaps in a degree more than I know, 
have occasioned my failure.' It had been represented to him 
that his refusal to accept a Royal Medal would be a reflection 
upon the Royal donor. To which he replied, 'Having 
entirely loyal feelings towards the Queen, I will trust to her 
Majesty's true interpretation of my conduct ; but if formal 
justification of it be necessary for the public, would plead that 
if a Peerage or Knighthood may without disloyalty be refused, 
surely much more the minor grace proceeding &om the 
monarch may be without impropriety declined by any of her 
Majesty's subjects who wish to serve her without reward, 
under the exigency of peculiar circumstances.' 

It was only the term before that Prince Leopold had been 
at Oxford, a constant attendant on Mr. Ruskin's lectures, and 
a visitor to his drawing school. The gentle Prince, with his 
instinct for philanthropy, wa.s not to be deterred by the 
utterances of ' Fors ' from respecting the genius of the Pro- 
fessor ; and the Professor, with his old-world, cavalier loyalty, 
readily returned the esteem and affection of his new pupil. 
A sincere friendship was formed, lasting until the Prince's 


death, which nobody lamented more bitterly than the ma 
who had found so much in him and hoped so much froui 

At the end of the next summer term (June 1875) Princess 
Alice and her husband, with Prince Arthm- and Prince Leopold, 
were at Oxford. Mr. Ruskin had just made arrangements com- 
pleting his gifts to the University galleries and schools. The 
Royal party showed great interest in the Professor and his 
work. The Princess, the Grand Duke of Hesse, and Prince 
Leopold acted as witnesses to the deed of gift ; and Prince 
Arthur and Prince Leopold accepted the trusteeship. 

With all the Slade I^ofessor's generosity, the Ruskin draw- 
ing school, founded in these fine galleries to which he had so 
largely contributed, in a palatial hall handsomely furnished, 
and hung with Tintoret and Luini, Burne- Jones and Rossetti, 
and other rare masters, ancient and modem ; with the most 
interesting examples to copy — at the most convenient of 
desks, we may add — yet in spite of it all, the drawing school 
was not a popular institution. When the Professor was per- 
sonally teaching, he got some fifteen or twenty — if not to 
attend, at any rate to join. But whenever the chief attrac- 
tion could not be counted on, the attendance sank to an 
average of two or three. The cause was simple. An under- 
graduate is supposed to spend his morning in lectures, his 
afternoon in taking exercise, and his evening in college. 
There is simply no time in his scheme for going to a drawng 
school. If it were recognised as part of the curriculum, if it 
counted in any way along with other studies, or contributed 
to a ' school ' akin to that of music, practical art might 
become teachable at Oxford; and Professor Ruskin's gifts and 
endowments — ^to say nothing of his hopes and plans — ^would 
not be wholly in vain. 

It could not be hid, also, that Professor Ruskin's heart was 
elsewhere, though he put so much work — and money — into 
the foundation of a drawing school : as it were, to excuse his 
waning interest in art-teaching, and growing disbelief in the 
value of lectures. He found, as he said to a Glasgow man 


who invited him to hold forth there, that everybody wani 
to hear — nobody to uead — ^nobody to think ; ' To be excited 
for an hour, and, if possible, amused ; to get the knowledge 
it has cost a man half his life to gather, first sweetened up to 
make it palatable, and then kneaded into the smallest possible 
pills — and to swallow it homoeopathically and be wise. , . , It 
is not to be done. A living comment quietly given to a class 
on a book they are earnestly reading — ^this kind of lecture is 
eternally necessary and wholesome.' 

He really wanted to be the guide, philosopher and friend 
of some of those ' worth having in any way — of temper to 
make good growth of : ' and to attract — not the would-be 
amateurs and dilettanti, or the academically and profession- 
ally successful men — ^but those who were going to be the real 
thinkers and workers. 

As he could not make the undergraduates draw, he made 
them dig. He had noticed a very bad bit of road on the 
Hinksey side, and heard that it was nobody's business to 
mend it : meanwhile the farmers' carts and casual pedestrians 
were bemired. He sent for his gardener Downes, who had 
been foreman of the street-sweepers ; laid in a stock of picks 
and shovels ; took lessons in stone -breaking himself, and 
called on his friends to spend their recreation times in doing 
something useful. In spite of a good deal of ridicule, some- 
thing useful was actually done. More picks were broken and 
more time was lost than a regular business-contractor would 
have liked : but the men had their lesson and the cottagers 
their road. It was maliciously said that the 'Hinksey 
diggings' were abandoned because the rustics jeered at the 
diggers. The work was stopped when the work was finished ; 
it was no part of the scheme to take all the bad roads of the 
county off the Surveyor's hands. Of jeers, none were offered 
that I remember : I recollect an oration of encouragement 
and thanks from one of the farmers — who explained the 
reason why the road was neglected, and described the rights 
accruing to us by law or by custom, for keeping it up. I 
believe we were entitled to graze a cow on a common — or 


something of the sort : at the time, however, we did not 
viilue tlie privilege as we ought, and I am afi'aid it was we 
who jeered at the rustic : the Professor being absent — be it 

Many of the disciples met at the weekly open breakfasts at 
the Pi-ofessor's I'ooms in Corpus ; and he was glad of a talk to 
them on other" things beside di-awing and digging. Some 
were attracted chiefly by the celebrity of the man, or by the 
curiosity of his humorous discourse ; but there were a few 
who pai-tly gi-asped one side or other of his mission and 
character. The most brilliant undergraduate of the time, 
seen at this bi^eakfast table, but not one of the diggers, was 
W. H. Mfdlock, afterwards %videly known as the author of ' Is 
Life Woi-th Living!'' He was the only man. Professor 
Ruskin said, who really undei-stood him — ^i-eferring to ' The 
New Republic' But while Mallock saw the reactionary and 
pessimistic side of his Oxford teacher, there was a progressist 
and optimistic side which does not appear in his ' Mr. 
Herbert.' That was discovered by another man whose 
career, short as it was, proved even more influential. Arnold 
Tojmbee was one of the Professor's warmest admirers and 
ablest pupils : and in his philanthropic work the teaching of 
' Unto this Last ' and ' Foi-s ' was illustrated — not exclusively 
— ^but truly. ' No tme disciple of mine will ever be a 
Ruskinian ' (to quote ' St. Mark's Rest ';) ' he will follow, not 
me, but the instincts of his own soul, and the guidance of 
its Creator.' 

Like all energetic men, Mr. Ruskin was fond of setting 
other people to work. One of his plans was to form a little 
Ubrary of standard books (' Bibliotheca Pastonim ') suitable 
for the kind of people who, he hoped, would join or work 
under his St. Greorge's Company. The first book he chose 
was the ' Economist ' of Xenophon, which he asked two of 
his young friends to translate. To them and their work he 
would give his afternoons in the rooms at Corpus, -with 
curious patience in the midst of pre-occupying labour and 
severest trial ; for just then he was lecturing at the London 


Institution on the Alps* — reading a paper to the Met 
physical Societyf — writing the Academy Notes of 1875, and 
' Proserpina,' etc. — as well as his regular work at ' Fors,' and 
the St. George's Company was then taking definite form ; — 
and all the while the lady of his love was dying under the 
most tragic circumstances, and he forbidden to approach her. 

At the end of May she died. On the 1st of June the 
Royal party honoured the Slade Professor with their visit — 
little knowing how valueless to him such honours had become. 
He went northj and met his translators at Brantwood to 
finish the Xenophon, — and to help dig his harbour and cut 
coppice in his wood. He prepared a preface ; but the next 
term was one of greater pressure, with the twelve lectures on 
Sir Joshua Reynolds to deliver. He wrote, after Christmas : — 

' Now that I have got my head fairly into this Xenophon 
business, it has expanded into a new light altogether ; and I 
think it would be absurd in me to slur over the life in one 
paragraph. A hundred- things have come into my head as I 
arrange the dates, and I think I can make a much better 
thing of it — with a couple of days' work. My head would 
not work in town — merely turned from side to side — never 
nodded (except sleepily). I send you the proofs just to show 
you Pm at work. Pm going to translate all the story of 
Delphic answer before Anabasis: and his speech after the 
sleepless night.' 

Delphic answers — for he was just then brought into con- 
tact with ' spiritualism '; and sleepless nights — for the excite- 
ment of overwork was telling upon him — were becoming too 
frequent in his own experience; and yet he could stop to 
explain himself, with forbearance, in answer to remarks on 
the aforesaid proofs : — ' I had no notion you felt that flaw so 

* 'The Simple Dynamic Conditions of Glacial Action among the 
Alps,' March 11, 187&. 

t ' Social Policy based on Natural Selection,' May 11. 

j On a posting tour through Yorkshire. He made three such tours 
in 1875 — southward in January, northward in June aiid July, and 
southward in September ; and another northward in April and May, 


seriously, or would have written at once. I should never ca" 
inspired prophecy " Classical," — nor the Sermon on th^ 
Mount — nor the like of it. All inspired writing stands on a 
nobler authority. " Hail thou that art highly favoured " 
does not contain constant truth, for all, — but instant truth 
— for Mary. If we criticise it as language, or " Scripture " 
writing — we must do so in its Greeh or Roman words. But 
" quanto quisque sibi plura negaverit Ab Dis plura feret " is 
classic. Eternal truth, in the best possible words. Whereas, 
" if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out " is not constant truth 
unless received in a certain temper and admitting certain 
conditions. It is then much more than constant truth. 
Scripture and Writing — Picture and Painting are always used 
by me as synonymous terms.' 

The lectures on Reynolds went off with Mat,* in spite of 
less pains bestowed on their preparation. The brilliancy of 
rhetoric, the magic of oratory, the astonishing reaches of 
thought, were utterly unlike the teaching of the scribes or 
Pharisees of modern times. It was no imitable trick of in- 
tellectual power which transmuted the scribbled jottings of 
his MS. for this series into the magnificent flow of rolling 
paragraph and rounded argument, that thrilled a captious 
audience with unwonted emotion, and almost persuaded many 
a careless or cynic hearer to abjure his worship of muscle 
or of brain for the nobler gospel of ' the Ethereal Ruskin.' 
In spite of strangeness, and a sense of antagonism to his 
surrovmdings, which grew from day to day, he did useful 
work which none other could do in the University, and 
wielded an enormous influence for good. That this was then 
acknowledged was proved by his re-election, early in 1876 : 
but his third term of three years was a time of weakened 
health. The cause of it, the greatest sorrow of his life, we 
have just revealed. At the time, the public put it down to 
disappointed egotism, or whatever they fancied. But re- 
peated absence from his post and inability to fulfil his duties 
made it obviously his wisest course, at the end of that third 
term, to resign the Slade Professorship. 

* Nov. 2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, and 27 ; 1875. 


ST. GEOEGE AND ST. MARK. (1875-1877.) 

' A curious volume, patch'd and torn, 
That all day long, from earliest morn, 
Had taken captive her two eyes 
Among its golden broideries ; 
Perplexed her with a thousand things,— 
The stars of Heaven, and angels' wings, 
Moses' breastplate, and the seven 
Candlesticks John saw in Heaven, 
The winged lion of St. Mark, 
And the Covenantal Ark.' 


IN the book his Bertha of Canterbury was reading at twi- 
light on the Eve of St. Mark, Keats might have been 
describing 'Fors.' Among its pages, fascinating with 
their golden broideries of romance and wit, perplexing with 
mystic vials of wrath as well as all the Seven Lamps and 
Shekinah of old and new Covenants commingled, there was 
gradually unfolded the plan of ' St. George's Work.' 

The scheme was not easy to apprehend ; it was essentially 
different from anything then known, though superficially like 
several bankrupt Utopias. Mr. Ruskin did not want to 
found a phalanstery, or to imitate Robert Owen or the 
Shakers. That would have been practicable — and useless. 
% He wanted much more. He aimed at the gradual intro- 
duction of higher aims into ordinary life : at giving true 
refinement to the lower classes, ti'ue simplicity to the upper. 
He proposed that idle hands should reclaim waste lands; 


that healthy work and country homes should be oifered t( 
townsfolk who would ' come out of the gutter.' He askea 
landowners and employers to furnish opportunities for such 
reforms ;— which would involve no elaborate organization nor 
unelastic rules ; — simply the one thing needful, the refusal of 

As before, he scorned the idea that real good could be 
done by political agitation. Any government would work, 
he said, if it were an efficient government. No government 
was efficient unless it saw that every one had the necessaries 
of life, for body and soul ; and that every one earned them 
by some work or other. Capital — that is, the means and 
material of labour, should therefore be in the hands of the 
Government, not in the hands of individuals : this reform 
would result easily and necessarily from the forbidding of 
loans on interest. Personal property would still be in private 
hands; but as it could not be invested and turned into 
capital, it would necessarily be restricted to its actual use, 
and great accumulation would be valueless. 

This is, of course, a very sketchy statement of the ground- 
work of ' Fors,' but to most readers nowadays as comprehen- 
sible as, at the time of its publication, it was incomprehensible. 
For when, long after 'Fors' had been written, Mr. Ruskin 
found other writers advocating the same principles and 
calling themselves Socialists, he said that he too was a 

But the Socialists of various sects have complicated, and 
sometimes confused, their simple fundamental principles with 
various ways and means ; to which Mr. Ruskin could not 
agree. He had his own ways and means. He had his 
private ideals of life, which he expounded, along with his 
main doctrine. He thought, justifiably, that theory was 
useless without practical example ; and so he founded St. 
George's Company (in 1877 called St. George's Guild) as his 

The Guild grew out of his call, in 1871, for adherents : 
and by 1875 began to take definite form. Its objects were 


to set the example of a common capital as opposed to 
National debt, and of co-operative labour as opposed to com- 
petitive struggle for life. Each member was required to do 
some work for his living — without too strict limits as to the 
kind — and to practise certain precepts of religion and morality, 
broad enough for general acceptance. He was also required 
to obey the authority of the Guild, and to contribute a tithe 
of his income to a common fiind, for various objects. These 
objects were — first : to buy land for the agricultural members 
to cultivate, paying their rent, not to the other members, but 
to the company; not refusing machinery, but preferring 
manual labour. Next, to buy mills and factories, to be like- 
wise owned by the Guild and worked by members — using 
water power in preference to steam (steam at first not for- 
bidden) — and making the lives of the people employed as well 
spent as might be, with a fair wage, healthy work, and so 
forth. The loss on starting was to be made up from the 
Guild store, but it was anticipated that the honesty of the 
goods turned out would ultimately make such enterprises 
pay, even in a commercial world. Then, for the people 
employed and their families, there would be places of recrea- 
tion and instruction, supplied by the Guild, and intended to 
give the agricultural labourer or mill-hand, trained from 
infancy in Guild schools, some insight into Literature, 
Science and Art — and tastes which his easy position would 
leave him free to cultivate. 

So far the plan was simple. It was not a colony— hat 
merely the working of existing industries in a certain way. 
Anticipating further development of the scheme, Mr. Ruskin 
looked forward to a guild coinage, as pretty as the Florentines 
had ; a costume as becoming as the Swiss : and other Platonic- 
ally devised details, which were not the essentials of the pro- 
posal, and never came into operation. But some of his plans 
were actually realised. 

The chief objects of 'St. George' come under three heads, 
as we have just noticed : agricultural, industrial, and educa- 
tional. The actual schools would not be needed until the 


farms and mills had been so fai* established as to secure a 
permanent attendance. But meanwhile provision was being 
made for them, both in literature and in art. The ' Biblio- 
theca Pastorum ' was to be a comprehensive little library — 
far less than the 100 books of the Pall Mall Gazette — and yet 
bringing before the St. George's workman standard and serious 
writing of all times. It was to include, in separate volumes, 
the Books of Moses and the Psalms of David and the Revela- 
tion of St. John. Of Greek, the Xenophon, and Hesiod, which 
Mr. Ruskin undertook to translate into prose. Of Latin, the 
first two Greorgics and sixth ^neid of Virgil, in Gawain 
Douglas' translation. Dante ; Chaucer, excluding the ' Can- 
terbury Tales ' — but including the ' Romance of the Rose '; 
Gotthelf 's ' Uhic the Farmer,' from the French version which 
Mr. Ruskin had loved ever since his father used to read it 
him on their first toms in Switzerland ; and an early English 
history by an Oxford friend. Later were published Sir PhUip 
Sidney's psalter, and Mr. Ruskin's own biography of Sir Her- 
bert Edwardes, under the title of ' A Knight's Faith.' 

These books were for the home library; reference works 
were bought to be deposited in central libraries, along with 
objects of art and science. It was not intended to keep the 
Guild property centralised ; but rather to spread it, as its other 
work was spread, broad-cast. A number of books and other 
objects were bought with the Guild money, and lent or given 
to various schools and colleges and institutions where work 
akin to the objects of the Guild was being done. But for the 
time Mr. Ruskin fixed upon Sheffield as the place of his first 
Guild Museum, — being the home of the typical English in- 
dustry — central to all parts of England, near beautiful hill- 
country, and yet not far from a number of manufacturing 
towns in which, if St. George's work went on, supporters and 
recruits might be found. 

The people of Sheffield were already, in 1875, building a 
museum of their own, and naturally thought that the two 
might be conveniently worked together. But that was not 
at all what Mr. Ruskin wished. Not only was his museum 


to be primarily the storehouse of the Guild, rather than one 
among many means of popular education; but the objects 
which he intended to place there were not such as the public 
expected to see. He had no interest in a vast accumulation 
of articles of all kinds. He wanted to provide for his friends' 
common treasury a few definitely valuable and interesting 
examples, — interesting to the sort of people that he hoped 
would join the Guild or be bred up in it ; and valuable 
according to his own standard and experience. The complete 
sets of stuffed animals or fossils, for example, that are found 
in any provincial museum ; the ordinary books and pictures 
and casts of the town library and gallery : all that can be 
readily seen elsewhere — not to say all that is of doubtful 
worth, — was to be excluded. Fine specimens of natural pro- 
ducts, such as precious stones and the more beautiful 
minerals ; casts from the best and least-known sculpture ; 
expensive reference books; a few genuine pictures by old 
masters ; plenty of good copies, such as could now be pro- 
duced by artists whom he had trained, and records of archi- 
tecture which was rapidly passing away: — every separate 
object separately noteworthy — this was the kind of material 
which would interest the mind and stimulate the imagination, 
more than a wearisome multitude of mediocrities. 

In September 1875, while travelling by short stages from 
Brantwood to London, Mr. Ruskin stayed a couple of days 
at Sheffield to inspect a cottage at Walkley, in the outskirts 
of the town, and to make arrangements for founding the 
museum — humbly to begin with, but hoping for speedy in- 
crease. He engaged as curator, at a salary of =£'40 a year 
and free lodging on the premises, his former pupil at the 
Working Men's College, Henry Swan, who had done occa- 
sional work for him in drawing and engraving. Swan was a 
Quaker, and a remarkable man in his way; enthusiastic in 
his new vocation, and interested in the social questions which 
were being discussed in ' Fors.' Under his care the Museum 
remained at Walkley, accumulating material in the tiny and 
hardly accessible cottage, — being so to speak in embryo, until 


the way should be clear for its removal or enlargement, which 
took place in 1890. 

When Mr. Ruskin came back on his posting tour of April 
1876, he stayed again at Sheffield, to meet a few friends of 
Swan's, — Secularists, Unitarians, and Quakers, who professed 
Communism. They had an interview (repoi-ted in the Shef- 
field DaUy Telegrap\ April 28th, 1876), which brought out 
rather curiously the points of difference between their opinions 
and his. They refused to join the Guild because they would 
not promise obedience, and help in its objects. Mr. Ruskin, 
however, was willing to advance theirs. A few weeks after- 
wards he invited them to choose a piece of ground for their 
Communist experiment. They chose a farm of over thirteen 
acres at Abbeydale, which the Guild bought in 1877 at a 
cost of dP2,287 16«. 6d. for their use, — the communists agree- 
ing to pay the money back in instalments, without interest, 
by the end of seven years : when the farm should be their 

When it was actually in their hands they found that they 
knew nothing of farming, — and besides, were making money 
at trades they did not really care to abandon. They engaged 
a man to work the farm for them : and then another. They 
were told that the land they had chosen was — for farming 
pinposes — ^worthless. Their capital ran short ; and they tried 
to make money by keeping a tea-garden. The original pro- 
poser of the scheme wrote to Mr. Ruskin, who sent ,£100 : — 
the others returned the money. Mr. Ruskin declined to take 
it back, and began to perceive that the Communists were 
trifling. They had made no attempt to found the sort of 
commimity they had talked about; neither their plans nor 
his were being carried out. So when the original proposer 
and a friend of his named Riley approached Mi-. Ruskin again, 
they found little difficulty in persuading him to try them as 
managei-s. The rest, finding themselves turned out by Riley, 
vainly demanded ' explanations ' from Mr. Ruskin, who then 
was drifting into his first attack of brain fever. So they 
declined further connection with the fai-m ; the Guild accepted 


their resignation, and undertook for the time nothing more 
than to get the land into good condition again. 

This was not the only land held by the St. George's Guild. 
It acquired the acre of ground on which the Sheffield Museum 
stood, and a cottage with a couple of acres near Scarborough. 
Two acres of rock and moor at Barmouth had been given by 
Mrs. Talbot in 1872 ; and in 1877 Mr. George Baker, then 
Mayor of Birmingham, gave twenty- acres of woodland at 
Bewdley in Worcestershire, to which at one time Mr. Ruskin 
thought of moving the museum, before the present building 
was found for it by the Sheffield Corporation at Meersbrook 
Park. On the resignation of the original Trustees, in 1877, 
Mr. Q. Talbot and Mr. Baker were offered the trust : and on 
the death of Mr. Talbot the trust was accepted by Mr. John 
Henry Chamberlain. After he died it was taken by Mr. 
George Thomson of Huddersfield, whose woollen mills, trans- 
formed into a co-operative concern, though not directly in 
connection with the Guild, have given a widely known ex- 
ample of the working of principles advocated in ' Fors.' 

In the middle of 1876, Mr. Egbert Rydings, the auditor of 
the accounts which, in accordance with his principles of ' glass 
pockets,' Mr. Ruskin published in ' Fors,' proposed to start a 
homespun woollen industry at Laxey, in the Isle of Man, 
where the old women who formerly spun with the wheel had 
been driven by failure of custom to work in the mines. The 
Guild built him a water mill, and in a few years the demand 
for a pure, rough, durable cloth, created by this and kindred 
attempts, justified the enterprise. Mr. Ruskin set the 
example, and had his own grey clothes made of Laxey stufiFs 
— whose chief drawback is that they never wear out. A little 
later a similar work was done, with even greater success, by 
Mr. Albert Fleming, another member of the Guild ; who 
introduced old-fashioned spinning and hand-loom weaving at 
Langdale. The new material was speedily taken up by the 
public, not only as a staple of domestic use, but as a fine 
material for embroidery and lace-work : and employment was 
found for a great number of idle hands. Later, the Ruskin 


Linen Industry, as it is called, was carried on at Keswick 
under Miss Twelves ; the Langdale Linen, with headquartei-s 
at Elterwater, Ambleside, was taken over by Miss Mary 
Augusta Smith ; and similar enterprises are prosecuted in 
other places, with no signs of failure: showing that the 
seed of ' Fors ^ where it fell on good ground was capable of 
bearing an abundant harvest. 

To return fiom Mr. Ruskin's work to his life. We left 
him at Sheffield, posting northwards, in April 1876, after his 
interview with the Communists. The story of that journey 
was told many years afterwards, at the opening of the new 
Sheffield museum, by Mr. Arthur Severn, a famous raconteur, 
whose description of the adventures of their cruise upon 
wheels includes so bright a picture of Mr. Ruskin, that I 
must use his words as they were reported on the occasion in 
the magazine Igdrasil: — 

. . . ' With the Professor, who dislikes railways very much, 
it was not a question of ti-avelling by rail. He said, " I will 
take you in a carriage and with horses, and we will drive the 
whole way from London to the North of England. And I 
will not only do that, but I vnW do the best in my power to 
get a postilion to ride, and we will go quite in the old- 
fashioned way." . . . The Professor went so far that he 
actually built a carriage for this drive. It was a regular 
posting carriage, with good strong wheels, a place behind for 
the luggage, and cunning drawers inside it for all kinds of 
things that we might require on the journey. We started off 
one fine morning from London — ^I must say without a postilion 
— ^but when we arrived at the next town, about twenty miles 
off, having telegraphed beforehand that we were coming, there 
was a gorgeous postilion ready with the fresh horses, and we 
started off in a right style, according to the Professor's wishes. 

' After many pleasant days of travelling, we at last arrived 
at Sheffield, and I well remember that we created no small 
sensation as we clattered up to the old posting inn. I think 
it was the King''s Head. We stayed a few days, and visited 


the old Museum at Walkley ; and I remember the look of 
regret on the Professor's face when he saw how cramped the 
space was there for the things he had to show. However, 
with his usual kindliness, he did not say much about it at the 
time, and he did not complain of the considerable amount of 
room it was necessary for the curator and his family to take 
up in that place. We stayed about two days looking at the 
beautiful country, — and I am glad to say there was a good 
deal still left, — and then the Professor gave orders that the 
carriage should be got ready to take us on our journey, and 
that a postilion should be forthcoming, if possible. I re- 
member leaving the luncheon table and going outside to see 
if the necessary arrangements were complete. Sure enough, 
there was the carriage at the door, and a still more gorgeous 
postilion than any we had had so far on our journey. His 
riding breeches were of the tightest and whitest I ever saw ; 
his horses were an admirable pair, and looked like going. A 
very large crowd had assembled outside the inn, to see what 
extraordinary kind of mortals could be going to travel in 
such a way. 

' I went to the room where the Professor was still at 
luncheon, and told him that everything was ready, but that 
there was a very large crowd at the door. He seemed rather 
amused ; and I said, " You know. Professor, I really don't 
know what the people expect — whether it is a bride and 
bridegroom, or what." He said, "Well, Arthur, you and 
Joan shall play at being bride and bridegroom inside the 
carriage, and I will get on the box." He got Mrs. Severn on 
his arm, and had to hold her pretty tightly as he left the 
door, because when she saw the crowd outside she tried to 
beat a retreat. At last he got her into the carriage, I was 
put in afterwards, and he jumped up on the box. The crowd 
closed in, and looked at us as if we were a sort of menagerie. 
I was much amused when I thought how little these eager 
people knew that the real attraction was on the box ; I felt 
inclined to put my head out of the window, and say, " My 
good people, there is the man you should look at, — not us." 


I did wot like to do so ; and the Professor gave the word to 
be off, the postilion cracked his whip, and we went ofF in 
grand style, amidst the cheers of the crowd. 

' We very soon got to one of the steep hills which seem to 
abound here, and went up at a hand gallop. Towards the 
top of it one of the horses turned out to be very restless, and 
it was evidently a sort of jibber. The gorgeous postilion 
had great difficulty to control it ; and at last (I hardly like 
to mention such things), but in his efforts to control this 
wild Sheffield animal these gorgeous riding trousers went 
off " pop." They cracked like a sail in a gale of wind. The 
horse became still more restive, and at last the whole thing 
came to a standstill. We had to get out, and the Professor 
got down from the box. 

' He treats any little accident like that with the utmost 
coolness, and he seemed glad of the delay, because it enabled 
him to look at the view, which he was pleased to show us. 
We turned furtively round every now and then to see how 
the postilion was going on and what he was doing. He took 
the saddle off the horse he was riding, and put it on the 
restive one. We were amused at his cleverness, for whenever 
he saw we were looking towards him he always managed to 
get a horse between us and the accident which had happened 
to his trousers. When everything was ready we got in again, 
and at last arrived at Brantwood, after a most delightful 
three weeks and a half of travelling, getting there one sunny 
afternoon, and hardly knowing how we had reached there, 
the journey had been so pleasant. The Professor took a 
chess-board on that occasion, and over some of the long, and 
to him rather dreary Yorkshire moors, we used to play games 
at chess.' 

On one of these posting excursions, they came to Hardraw. 
(Mrs. Alfred Hunt tells the story in her edition of Turner's 
' Richmondshire '; Mr. Severn's account is somewhat different.) 
After examining the Fall, Mrs. Severn and Mr. Ruskin left 
Mr. Severn to sketch, and went away to Hawes to order their 


tea. When they were gone, a man who had been standing 
by came up and asked if that were Professor Ruskin. ' Yes,' 
said Mr. Severn, ' it was ; he is very fond of the Fall, and 
much puzzled to know why the edge of the clifF is not worn 
away by the water, as he expected to find it after so many 
years.' ' Oh,' said the other, ' there are twelve feet of 
masonry up there to protect the rock. I'm a native of the 
place, and know all about it.' ' I wish,' said Mr. Severn, 
absently, as he went on drawing, ' Mr. Ruskin knew that ; he 
would be so interested.' And the stranger ran off. When 
the sketcher came in to tea he felt there was something 
wrong. ' You're in for it !' said his wife. ' Let us look at 
his sketch first,' said Mr. Ruskin ; and luckily it was a very 
good one. By and by it all came out ; — ^how the Yorkshire- 
man had caught the Professor, and eagerly described the 
horrible Vandalism, receiving in reply some very emphatic 
language. Upon which he took off his hat and bowed low : 
' But, sir,' he faltered, ' the gentleman up there said I was to 
tell you, and you would be so interested !' The Professor, 
suddenly mollified, took off his hat in turn, and apologised 
for his reception of the news : ' but,' said he, ' I shall never 
care for Hardraw Waterfall again.' 

'The Professor,' said Mr. Severn, 'dislikes railways very 
much :' and on his arrival at Brantwood after that posting 
journey he wrote a preface to ' A Protest against the Exten- 
sion of Railways in the Lake District,' by Mr. Robert 
Somervell. Mr. Ruskin's dislike of railways has been the 
text of a great deal of misrepresentation, and his use of 
them, at all, has been often quoted as an inconsistency. 
As a matter of fact, he never objected to main lines of 
railway communication ; but he strongly objected, in common 
with a vast number of people, to the introduction of rail- 
ways into districts whose chief interest is in their scenery ; 
especially where, as in the English Lake district, the scenery 
is in miniature, easily spoiled by embankments and viaducts, 
and by the rows of ugly buildings which usually grow up 
round a station ; and where the beauty of the landscape can 


only be felt in quiet walks or diives thi'ough it. Many years 
later, after he had said all he had to say on the subject again 
and again, and was on the brink of one of his illnesses, he 
wrote in violent language to a correspondent who tried to 
' draw ' him on the subject of another proposed railway to 
Ambleside. But his real opinions were simple enough, and 
consistent with a practicable scheme of life — as can be read 
in the preface to Mr. Somerveirs tract, reprinted in ' On the 
Old Road,' vol. i., p. 682. 

In August 1876 he left England for Italy. He travelled 
alone, accompanied only by his new servant Baxter, who 
had lately taken the place vacated by Crawley, Mr. 
Ruskin's former valet of twenty years' service. He crossed 
the Simplon to Venice, where he was welcomed by an old 
friend, Mr. Rawdon Brown, and a new friend, Prof. C. H. 
Moore of Harvard. He met two Oxford pupils, Mr. J. Reddie 
Anderson, whom he set to work on Carpaccio ; and Mr. 
Whitehead — ' So much nicer they all are,' he wrote in a pri- 
vate letter, 'than I was at their age;' — also his pupil Mr. 
Bunney, at work on copies of pictures and records of archi- 
tecture, the legacy of St. Mark to St. George. Two young 
artists were brought into his circle, during that winter — both 
Venetians, and both singularly interesting men: Giacomo 
Boni, the capo d' opera of the Ducal Palace, who was doing 
his best to preserve, instead of ' restoring,' the ancient sculp- 
tures ; and Angelo Alessandri, a painter of more than usual 
seriousness of aim and s)rmpathy with the fine qualities of the 
old masters. 

Mr. Ruskin had been engaged on a manual of drawing for 
his Oxford schools, which he now meant to complete in two 
parts : ' The Laws of Fesole ' — ^teaching the principles of Plo- 
rentine draughtsmanship; and 'The Laws of Rivo Alto' — about 
Venetian colour. Passages for this second part were written. 
But he found himself so deeply interested in the evolution of 
Venetian art, and in tracing the spirit of the people as shown 
by the mythology illustrated in the pictures and sculptures, 
that his practical manual became a sketch of art history, 


' St. Mark's Rest ' — as a sort of companion to ' Mornings in 
Florence,' which he had been working at during his last visit 
to Italy. His intention was to supersede ' Stones of Venice ' 
by a smaller book, giving more prominence to the ethical side 
of history, wliich should illustrate Carpaccio as the most im- 
portant figure of the transition period, and do away with the 
exclusive Protestantism of his earlier work. 

He set himself to this task, with Tintorefs motto — 
' Sempre si fa il mare maggiore,' and worked with feverish 
energy, recording his progress in letters home (with which 
the reader may compare letters to Miss Beever in ' Hortus 
Inclusus,' pages 36-46). 

' 13 Nov. — I never was yet, in my life, in such a state of 
hopeless confusion of letters, drawings and work : chiefly 
because, of course, when one is old, one's done work seems all 
to tumble in upon one, and want rearranging, and everything 
brings a thousand old as well as new thoughts. My head 
seems less capable of accounts every year. I can't _/?a? my 
mind on a sum in addition — it goes off, between seven and 
nine, into a speculation on the seven deadly sins or the nine 
muses. My table is heaped with unanswered letters, — 
MS. of four or five different books at six or seven different 
parts of each, — sketches getting rubbed out, — others getting 
smudged in, — parcels from Mr. Brown unopened, parcels ^r 
Mr. Moore unsent ; my inkstand in one place, — too probably 
upset, — my pen in another ; my paper under a pile of books, 
and my last carefully written note thrown into the waste- 
paper basket. 

' 3 Dec. — I'm having nasty foggy weather just now, — ^but 
it's better than fog in London, — and I'^ really resting a 
little, and trying not to be so jealous of the flying days. I've 
a most curr^ room [at the Grand Hotel] — I've gone out of 
the very expensive one, and only pay twelve francs a day; 
and I've two windows, one with open balcony and the other 
covered in with glass. It spoils the look of window dread- 
fully, but gives me a view right away to Lido, and of the 
whole sunrise. Then the bed is curtained ofi' from rest of 


room like that [sketch of window and room] with fine flour- 
ishing white and gold pillars — and the black place is where 
one goes out of the room beside the bed.' 

' 9 Dec. — I hope to send home a sketch or two which will 
show I'm not quite losing my head yet. ... I must show at 
Oxford some reason for my staying so long in Venice.' 

Beside studies in the Chapel of St. George, he copied Car- 
paccio's 'Dream of St. Ursula' which was taken down — 
it had been ' skied ' at the Academy until then — and placed 
in the sculpture gallery ; and he laboured to produce a 

' 24 Dec. — ^I do think St. Ursula's lips are coming pretty 
— and her eyelids — ^but oh me, her hair ! Toni, Mr. Brown's 
gondolier, says she's all right — and he's a grave and close 
looking judge, you know.' 

Christmas Day was a crisis in his life. He was attacked 
by illness ; severe pain, followed by a dreamy state in which 
the vividly realized presence of St. Ursula mingled with 
memories of his dead lady, whose ' spirit ' had been shown 
him just a year before by a 'medium' met at a country 
house. Since then he had watched eagerly for evidences of 
another life : and the sense of its conceivability grew upon 
him, in spite of the doubts which he had entertained of the 
immortality of the soul. At last, after a year's earnest desire 
for some such assurance, it seemed to come to him. What 
others call coincidences, and accidents, and states of mind 
flashed, for him, into importance ; times and seasons, 
names and symbols, took a vivid meaning. His intense 
despondency changed for a while into a singular happiness — 
it seemed a renewed health and strength: and instead of 
despair, he rejoiced in the conviction of guarding Providences 
and helpful influences. 

Readers of 'Fors' had traced for some years back the 
reawakening of a religious tone, now culminating in a 
pronounced mysticism which they could not understand, 
and in a recantation of the sceptical judgments of his 
middle [Jeriod, He found, now, new excellences in the early 


Christian painting ; he depreciated Turner and Tintoret, and 
denounced the frivolous art of the day. He searched the 
Bible more diligently than ever for its hidden meanings ; and 
in proportion as he felt its inspiration, he recoiled from the 
conclusions of modem science, and wrapped the prophet's 
mantle more closely round him, as he denounced with growing 
fervour the crimes of our unbelieving age. 



' Qnam psene fnrvae regna Proserpina 
.... vidimos,' 

HORACK, Od. n. 13, 

THROUGHOUT Mr. Raskin's life, but never more than 
in this period, we have had to trace different interests 
and lines of work, running at cross purposes, like the 
* cleavage planes ' he has described in the Alps. To render 
the mere quantity of detail by which alone, as he says, the 
size of a subject can be su^ested — and yet to keep the 
breadth of effect, and choose the leading hnes that will give 
the whole truth in its proper relations and perspective, would 
need a Turner in literary art. We must look back, now and 
then, to retrace lines of work which have been perforce 

In the summer of 1875, while his two pupils were harbour- 
digging and Xenophon-translating at Brantwood, Mr. Ruskin 
wrote : — 

' I b^;in to £Lsk myseL^ with somewhat pressing arithmetic, 
how much time is likely to be left me, at the age of fifty-six, 
to complete the various designs for which, until past fifty, I 
was merely collecting material. Of these materials I have 
now enough by me for a most interesting (in my own opinion) 
history of fifteenth century Florentine Art, in six octavo 
volumes ; an analysis of the Attic art of the fifth century B.C. 
in three volumes; an exhaustive history of northern thirteenth- 
century art, in ten volumes ; a life of Sir Walter Scott, with 


analysis of modem epic art, in seven volumes ; a life of Xeno- 
phon, with analysis of the general principles of education, in 
ten volumes ; a commentary on Hesiod, with final analysis of 
the principles of Political Economy, in nine volumes ; and a 
general description of the geology and botany of the Alps, in 
twenty-four volumes.' The estimate of volumes was — ^perhaps 
— in jest ; but the plans for harvesting his material were in 

' Proserpina ' — so named from the Flora of the Greeks, the 
daughter of Demeter, Mother Earth, — grew out of notes 
already begun in 1866. It was little like an ordinary botany 
book ; — ^that was to be expected. It did not dissect plants ; 
it did not give chemical or histological analysis : but with 
bright and curious fancy, with the most ingenious diagrams 
and perfect drawings — beautifully engraved by Burgess and 
Allen — illustrated the mystery of growth in plants and the 
tender beauty of their form. Though this was not science, 
in strict terms it was a field of work which no one but Mr. 
Ruskin had cultivated. He was helped by a few scientific 
men like Professor Oliver, who saw a value in his line of 
thought, and showed a kindly interest in it. 

' Deucalion ' — from the mythical creator of human life out 
of stones — was begun as a companion work : to be published 
in parts, as the repertory of Oxford lectures on Alpine form, 
and notes on all kinds of kindred subjects. For instance, 
before that hasty journey to Sheffield he gave a lecture at the 
London Institution on 'Precious Stones' (February 17th, 
repeated March 28th, 1876. A lecture on a similar subject 
was given to the boys of Christ's Hospital on April 15th). 
For this lecture, as usual, he sought help from his pupils, and 
sent a pressing note by the college-messenger one morning to 
bid one of his younger friends run to various professors, and 
make inquiries about etymological and mineralogical details : 
— ' What else are the professors there for ?'' he would say ; 
and he would be greatly impressed if we could answer his 
questions without appeal to the higher powers. The day after 
the first lecture he wrote : — 


'Those French derivations are like them. No authorities 
on Heraldry ai'e of the slightest value after the fifteenth 
century — even Guillim is only good for something in 
the first edition, the rest nowhere. My pearl is all right 
— I got it from the book of St. Albans, 1480 — but my 
shield is not absolutely in the old terms. I invent Colom- 
bin, for the old "plumby," and use "^carlate" for tenne 
— mine is to be the norma for St. George's heraldry, not 
a merely historical summary. I hope to be back on Satur- 
day evening. . . . The lecture went well and pleased my 
audience — and pleased myself better than usual in that 
I really got everything said that I intended, of impor- 
tance. . . .' 

This lecture, called ' The Iris of the Earth,' stood first in 
Part III. of ' Deucalion ' : and the work went on, in studies 
of the forms of silica, on the lines marked out ten years before 
in the papers on Banded and Brecciated concretions ; now 
carried forward with much kind help from the Rev. J. Clifton 
Ward, of the Geological Survey, and Mr. Henry Willett, 
F.G.S., of Brighton. 

On the way home over the Simplon in May and June 1877, 
travelling first with Signor AJessandi'i, and then with Mr. G. 
Allen, Professor Ruskin continued his studies of Alpine 
flowers for ' Proserpina.' In the autumn he gave a lecture at 
Kendal (Oct. 1st, repeated at Eton College Dec. 8th) on 
' Yewdale and its Streamlets.' 

' Yewdale ' — ^reprinted as Part V. of ' Deucalion ' — ^took 
an unusual importance in his own mind, not only because it 
was a great success as a lecture, — ^though some Kendalians 
complained that there was not enough ' information ' in it : — 
but because it was the first given since that Christmas at 
Venice, when a new insight had been granted him, as he felt, 
into spiritual things, and a new burden laid on him, to with- 
stand the rash conclusions of ' science falsely so called,' and 
to preach in their place the presence of God in nature and in 

Writing to Miss Beever about his Oxford course of that 


autumn, ' Readings in Modem Painters,'* he said, on the 
2nd December : — ' I gave yesterday the twelfth and last of 
my course of lectures this term, to a room crowded by six 
hundred people, two-thirds members of the University, and 
with its door wedged open by those who could not get in ; 
this interest of theirs being granted to me, I doubt not, 
because for the first time in Oxford I have been able to speak 
to them boldly of immortal life, I intended when I began 
the course only to have read ' Modem Painters ' to them ; 
but when I began, some of your favourite bitsf interested the 
men so much, and brought so much larger a proportion of 
undergraduates than usual, that I took pains to re-inforce 
and press them home ; and people say I have never given 
so useful a course yet. But it has taken all my time and 

He wrote again, on Dec. 16th, from Heme Hill : — ' It is a 
long while since I've felt so good-for-nothing as I do this 
morning. My very wristbands curl up in a dog's-eared and 
disconsolate manner ; my little room is all a heap of disorder. 
I've got a hoarseness and wheezing and sneezing and coughing 
and choking. I can't speak and I can't think ; I'm miserable 
in bed and useless out of it ; and it seems to me as if I could 
never venture to open a window or go out of a door any 
more. I have the dimmest sort of diabolical pleasure in 
thinking how miserable I shall make Susie by telling her all 
this ; but in other respects I seem entirely devoid of all moral 
sentiments. I have arrived at this state of things, first by 
catching cold, and since trying to "amuse myself" for three 
days.' He goes on to give a list of his amusements — Pick- 
wick, chivalric romances, the Dcnly Telegraph, Staunton's 
games of chess, and finally analysis of the Dock Company's 
bill of charges on a box from Venice. 

* Nov. 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 24, 27, 29 and Dec. 1, 1877. These 
lectures were never prepared for publication as a course ; the last 
lecture was printed in the Nineteenth Century for January, 1878. 

t Miss Beever had published early in 1875 the extracts from ' Modem 
Painters ' so widely known as ' Frondes Agrestes,' 


Ten days after he wi-ote from Oxford, in his whimsical 
style : — ' Yestei"day I had two lovely services in my own 
cathedral. You know the Catlwdral of Oxford is the chapel 
of Chiist Chui"ch College, and I have my high seat in the 
chancel, as an honorary student, besides being bred there, and 
so one is ever so proud and ever so pious all at once, which is 
ever so nice you know : and my own dean, that's the Dean of 
Christ Church, who is as big as any bishop, read the services, 
and the psalms and anthems were lovely ; and then I dined 
with Henry Acland and his family . . but I do wish I could 
be at Brantwood too.' Nest day it was ' Cold quite gone.' 
But he was not to be quit so easily this time of the results of 
overwork and worry. 

He had been passing through the unpleasant experience of 
a misunderstanding with one of his most trusted friends and 
helpers. His work on behalf of the St. George's Guild had 
been energetic and sincere : and he had received the support 
of a number of strangers, among whom were people of re- 
sponsible station and position. But he was surprised to find 
that many of his personal friends held aloof. He was still 
more surprised to learn, on returning from Venice, full of new 
hope and stronger convictions in his mission, that the caution 
of one upon whom he had counted as a firm ally had dis- 
suaded an intending adherent fi'om joining in the work. A 
man of the world, accustomed to overreach and to be over- 
reached, would have taken the discovery coolly, and accepted 
an explanation. But Mr. Ruskin was never a man of the 
world ; and now, much less than ever. He took it, not as an 
error, nor even so much as a personal attack, but as treason 
to the great work of ■which he felt himself to be the 
missionary. It chilled his hopes and dashed his zeal : and as 
it is always the most generous of men whose suspicions, once 
aroused, are fiercest, he was quite unable to forgive and 
forget. Tliroaghout the autumn and winter the discovery 
rankled, and preyed on his mind. As for the sake of 
absolute candour he had published in ' Fors ' everything that 
related to the Guild work, — even his own private affairs and 


confessions, whatever they risked, — he felt that this too must 
out ; in order that his supporters might judge of his conduct 
and that nothing affecting the enterprise might be kept back. 
And so, at Christmas, he sent the correspondence to his 

Years afterwards, by the intervention of friends, this breach 
was healed : but what suffering it cost can be learnt from the 
sequel. To Mr. Ruskin it was the beginning of the end. 
His Aberdeen correspondent asked just then for the usual 
Christmas message to the Bible class : and instead of the 
cheery words of bygone years, received the couplet from 
Horace : — 

' Inter spem curamque, timorea inter et iras, 
Omnem crede diem tibi diluxisse supremuni.' 

' Amid hope and sorrow, amid fear and wrath, believe every day that 
has dawned on thee to be thy last.' 

From Oxford, early in January 1878, he went on a visit to 
Windsor Castle, whence he wrote: 'I came to see Prince 
Leopold, who has been a prisoner to his sofa lately, but I 
trust he is better ; he is very bright and gentle under severe 
and almost continual pain.' No less gentle, in spite of the 
severe justice he was inflicting upon himself even more than 
upon his friend, was the author of ' Fors,' as the letters of the 
time to his invalid neighbour, in 'Hortus Inclusus' show. 
How ready to own himself in the wrong, — at that very 
moment when he was being pointed at as the most obstinate 
and egotistic of men, — ^how placable he really was and open 
to rebuke, he showed, when, from Windsor, he went to 
Hawarden. Nearly three years before he had written roughly 
of Mr. Gladstone ; as a Conservative, he was not predisposed 
in favour of the leader of the party to whom he attributed 
most of the evils he was combating. Mr. Gladstone and he 
had often met, and by no means agreed together in conversa- 
tion. But this visit convinced him that he had misjudged 
Mr. Gladstone ; and he promptly made the fullest apology in 
the current number of 'Fors,' saying that he had written 


under a complete misconception of his character. In re- 
printing the old pages he not only cancelled the offending 
passage, but he left the place blank, with a note in the 
middle of it, as ' a memorial of rash judgment.' 

He went slowly northward, seeking rest at Ingleton; 
whence he wrote, January 17th : — ' I've got nothing done all 
the time I've been away but a few mathematical figures 
[crystallography, no doubt, for " Deucalion "], and, the less I 
do the less I find I can do it ; and yesterday, for the first 
time these twenty years, I hadn't so much as a " plan " in my 
head all day.' Arrived at Brantwood, as rest was useless, he 
tried work. Mr. Willett had asked him to reprint ' The Two 
Paths,' and he got that ready for press, and wrote a short 
preface. At Venice, Mr. J. R. Anderson had been working 
out for him the myths illustrated by Carpaccio in the Chapel 
of S. Giorgio de' Schiavoni ; and the book had been waiting 
for Mr. Ruskin's introduction until he was surprised by the 
publication of an almost identical inquiry by M. Clermont- 
Ganneau. He tried to fulfil his duty to his pupil by writing 
the preface immediately; most sorrowfully feeling the in- 
adequacy of his strength for the tasks he had laid upon it. 
He wrote : ' My own feeling, now, is that everything which 
has hitherto happened to me, and been done by me, whether 
well or ill, has been fitting me to take greater fortune 
more prudently, and to do better work more thoroughly. 
And just when I seem to be coming out of school, — very sorry 
to have been such a foolish boy, yet having taken a prize or 
two, and expecting now to enter upon some more serious 
business than cricket, — I am dismissed by the Master I hoped 
to serve, with a — " That's all I want of you, sir." ' 

In such times he found relief by reverting to the past. He 
wrote in the beginning of Febniary a paper for the University 
Magazine on ' My First Editor,' W. H. Harrison, and forgot 
himself — almost---in bright reminiscences of youthful days 
and early associations. Next, £is Mr. Marcus Huish, who had 
shown great friendliness and generosity in providing prints 
for the Sheffield museum, was now proposing to hold an 


Exhibition of Mr. Ruskin's ' Turners ' at the Fine Art Gal- 
leries in New Bond Street, it was necessary to arrange the 
exhibits and to prepare the catalogue. For the next fort- 
night he struggled on with this labour, and with his last 
' Fors ' — ^the last he was to write in the long series of more 
than seven years.* How little the thousands who read the 
preface to his catalogue, with its sad sketch of Turner's fate, 
and what they supposed to be its ' customary burst of ter- 
minal eloquence,' understood that it was indeed the cry of one 
who had been wounded in the house of his friends, and was 
now beheving every day that dawned on him to be his last. 
He told of Turner's youthful picture of the Coniston Fells 
and its invocation to the mists of morning, bidding them ' in 
honour to the world's great Author, rise,' — and then how 
Turner's ' health, and with it in great degree his mind, failed 
suddenly with a snap of some vital chord,' after the sunset 
splendours of his last, dazzling efforts. . , . ' Morning breaks, 
as I write, along those Coniston Fells, and the level mists, 
motionless and grey beneath the rose of the moorlands, veil 
the lower woods, and the sleeping village, and the long lawns 
by the lake-shore. 

' Oh that some one had but told me, in my youth, when all 
my heart seemed to be set on these colours and clouds, that 
appear for a little while and then vanish away, how little my 
love of them would serve me, when the silence of lawn and 
wood in the dews of morning should be completed ; and all 
my thoughts should be of those whom, by neither, I was to 
meet more !' 

The catalogue was finished, and hurried off to the printers. 
A week of agitating suspense at home, and then it could no 
longer' be concealed. Friends and foes alike were startled 
and saddened with the news of his ' sudden and dangerous 

It was some form of inflammation of the brain — the result 
of overwork, but still more immediately of the emotional 

♦ ' Fors ' was taken up again, at intervals, later on ; but never with 
the same purpose and continuity. 


strain froiji which he had been suffering. It took him quite 
at unawares ; for though he knew as well as others that he 
had lost that peace and strength which he had found in 
Venice, and that his mind was alternately stimulated to un- 
wonted activity and depressed into helplessness, yet he had 
not received definite warning, as from any sort of headache 
— to which he had always been a stranger — nor from 
approach to the delirium which now was the chief feature of 
his disease. 

On March 4th, the Turner Exhibition opened, and day by 
day the bulletins from Brantwood announcing his condition 
were read by multitudes of visitors with eager and sorrowful 
interest. Newspapers all the world over copied the daily 
reports : even in the towns of the Far West of America the 
same telegrams were posted, and they say even a more 
demonstrative sympathy was shown. Nor was the feeling 
confined to the English-speaking public. The Oxford Proctor 
in Convocation of April 24th, when the patient after the first 
burst of the storm was slowly drifting back into calmer waters, 
thought it worth while, in the course of his speech, to men- 
tion that in Italy, where he had lately been on an Easter 
vacation tour, he had witnessed a widespread anxiety about 
Mr. Ruskin, and prayers put up for his recovery : ' Nee 
multum abfuit quin nuper desideraret Academia morbo letali 
abreptum Professorem, in sua materie unicum, Joannem 
Ruskin. " Sed multae vurbes et publica vota vicerunt.'" Neque 
id indignum memoratu puto quod nuperrime mihi in Italia 
commoranti contigit videre quantae sollicitudines ob ejus 
salutem, quantae preces moverentur, in ea terra cujus ille artes 
et monumenta tam disertissime illustraverit.'' 

By May 10th he was so much better that he could com- 
plete the catalogue with some gossip about those Alpine 
drawings of 1842 which he regarded as the climax of Turner's 
work. The first — and best in some ways — of the series was 
the Spliigen, which had been bought by Mr. Munro, of Novar, 
in the absence of Mr. Ruskin's father ; and now he believed it 
had been sold lately at Christie's. 


Without any word to him, the diHgence of kind friends and 
the help of a wide circle of admirers traced the drawing, and 
subscribed its price — 1000 guineas, to which Mr. Agnew 
generously added his commission — and it was presented to 
Mr. Ruskin as a token of sympathy and respect. It was a 
timely and very welcome tribute. It showed him that he still 
had the heart of the public : that they cared for himself, if 
not for his schemes. He would have preferred support for 
St. George's work, but he was not insensible to the personal 
compliment implied, and by way of some answer he spent the 
first few days of his convalescence in arranging and anno- 
tating a series of drawings by himself, and engravings, illus- 
trating the Turners, to add to his show during the remainder 
of the season. When they were sent off (early in June) to 
Bond Street, he left home with the Severns to complete his 
recovery at Malham. 

There was another reason why that spontaneous testimonial 
was welcome at the moment, for a curious and unaccustomed 
ordeal was impending for his claims as an art critic. On his 
return from Venice after months of intercourse with the great 
Old Masters, he found the Grosvenor Gallery just opened for 
the first time, with its memorable exhibition of the different 
extra-academical schools. It placed before the public, in 
sharp contrast, the final outcome of the Pre-Raphaelitism for 
which he had fought many a year before, and samples of the 
last new fashion from Paxis. The maturer works of Mr. 
Bume-JoneS had been practically unseen by the public, and 
Mr. Ruskin took the opportunity of their exhibition to write 
his praise of the youngest of the Old Masters in the current 
number of ' Fors,' and afterwards in two papers on the ' Three 
Colours of Pre-Raphaelitism ' {Nineteenth Centwry Magazine, 
November and December 1878). But in the same ' Fors ' he 
dismissed with half a paragraph of contempt Mr. Whistler's 
eccentric sketch of Fireworks. Long before, in 1863, when he 
was working with various artists connected with the Pre- 
Raphaelite circle, Mr. Whistler had made overtures to the 
great critic through Mr. Swinburne the poet ; but he had not 


been taken seriously. Now he had become the missionary in 
England of the new French gospel of ' impressionism,' which 
to Mr. Raskin was one of those half-truths which are ever the 
worst of heresies. Mr. Whistler appealed to the law. He 
brought an action for libel, which was tried on November 25th 
and 26th before Bai'on Huddleston, and recovered a farthing 
damages. Mr. Ruskin's costs — amounting to ^£"386 12*. M. — 
were paid by a public subscription to which one hundred and 
twenty persons, including many strangers, contributed. 

By that time he was fully recovering from his illness, back 
at Coniston, after a short visit to Liverpool. It was for- 
bidden to him to attempt any exciting work. He had given 
up ' Fors ' and Oxford lecturing, and was devoting himself 
again to quiet studies for ' Proserpina ' and ' Deucalion.' On 
the first day of the trial the St. George's Guild was registered 
as a Company ; on the second day he wrote to Miss Beever : — 

'I have entirely resigned all hope of ever thanking you 
rightly for bread, sweet odours, roses and pearls, and must 
just allow myself to be fed, scented, rose-garlanded and be- 
pearled, as if I were a poor little pet dog, or pet pig. But 
my cold is better, and I am getting on with this botany ; but 
it is really too important a work to be pushed for a week or 
a fortnight.' Then he goes into details about the plans for 
his botany, which occupied him chiefly for the rest of the 

Early in 187-9 his resignation of the Slade Professorship 
was announced ; followed by what was virtually his election 
to an honorary doctor's degree ; or, as officially worded — 
' the Hebdomadal Council resolved on June 9, 1879, to pro- 
pose to Convocation to confer the degree of D.C.L. honoris 
causa upon John Ruskin M.A., of Ch. Ch., at the encaenia of 
that year ; but the proposal, though notified in the Gazette 
of June 10, was not submitted to vote owing to the inability 
of Mr. Ruskin to be present at the encaenia.' The degree 
was conferred, in his absence, in 1893. 

He was now more free than ever to spend his time in the 
researches which had always interested him, and which, he 


sometimes imagined, were his Jbrte. The severe winter of 
1878-9 was particularly favourable for watching the pheno- 
mena of icicles and ice-formation, and this study commended 
itself to him in a twofold sense. On the one hand it illus- 
trated the great problem of crystallisation in general, and on 
the other it touched the question of glaciers. Enough has 
been said (book iii., chap. 3) to show the attitude he had 
taken for fifteen years past, as a disciple of Forbes, against 
the ordinary theory of glacial action, to which he had assented 
in ' Modern Painters,' vol. iv. But he was now confirmed in 
his views of what he, and a group of Forbes' friends, con- 
sidered to be the unfair action of Professor Tyndall, whose 
contributions did not warrant, as they thought, his treatment 
of the pioneer, in this country, of Alpine investigations. Mr. 
Ruskin did not make the most of his position in the eyes of 
the public by inserting his remarks on Professor Tyndall, — 
insufficiently supported with argument and illustration, — 
among very different kinds of matter in ' Fors,' and by allow- 
ing himself to write at moments when the ill-health of three 
years left him — ' the greatest gladiator of the age,' as he has 
been called — ^hardly a match for the cool fence of his op- 

But it was his wish now to go into the subject again, in 
' Deucalion.' The following letter to a friend at Chamouni 
(July 25th, 1879) will show, at any rate, the kind of method 
upon which he was intending to work, and the extreme views 
he had come to take : — 

' Yes. Chamouni is as a desolated home to me — I shall 
never, I believe, be there more : I could escape the riffraff 
in winter, and early spring; but that the glaciers should 
have betrayed me, and their old ways know them no more, is 
too much. 

' . . . I was gladly surprised to hear of your going to the 
aiguille du Tour, if the whole field round it is still pure ; but 
all's so wrecked ; perhaps it's all mud and stones by this time. 

' However, the thing I want of you is to get as far up the 
old bed of the glacier des Bois as you can, and make a good 


graphic sketch for me of any hit of rock that you can find 
of the true bottom among the debris. Graphic, I say, — as 
opposed to coloury or shadowy ; show me the edges and ins 
and outs, well — with any notes of the direction and effect of 
former ice on it you can make for yourself. You know I 
don't believe the ice ever moves at the bottom of a glacier at 
all, — in a general way, but on so steep a slope as that of the 
Bois, it may sometimes have been dragged a little at the 
bottom, as it is ordinarily at the sides. Anyhow, sketch me 
a bit of the rocks and tell me how the boulders are lodged, 
whether merely dropped promiscuously, or driven into par- 
ticular lines or corners. 

' Please give my love to the big old stone under the Breven, 
a quarter of a mile above the village, unless they've blasted it 
up for hotels.' 

A little later he planned to write a ' Grammar of Ice,' with 
the same pupil's help, and he plunged into the study of crys- 
tallisation. Somewhere at Brantwood there is a deep drawer 
full of material for ' Deucalions ' that never were published, 
for the storm-cloud came down upon him just as he was 
beginning to find his way out of the wood. 

Whatever might have been the value of Mr. Ruskin's work 
on this subject after the serious study of his later years, no 
reader of his can help regretting the abandonment of one 
book that he began. It was to be a manual of the actual 
forms, the phenomenology, of native gold and silver and other 
minerals which crystallise into fronds and twigs and tangles, 
and pretty, plant-like shapes, unregarded by the mathe- 
matician and quite unexplained by the elementary laws of 
crystallography. Illustrated from the beautiful specimens in 
his collection, with such exquisite drawings as he made of 
these tiny still-life subjects, it would have been a fairy-book 
of science. But the ' third Fors ' was jealous ; or perhaps 
'Proserpine' and ' Deucalion' quarrelled over these flowers of 
the under-world, and left them in the babies' limbo among 
the things that might have been. 




' In that Library I pass away most of the Days of my Life, and most 
of the Hours of the Day. In the Night I am never there. There is 
within it a Cabinet, handsome and neat enough, with a very convenient 
Fireplace for the Winter, and Windows that afford a great deal of light, 
and very pleasant Prospects.' — Cotton's Montaigne. 

SIXTY years of one of the busiest lives on record were 
beginning to tell upon Mr. Ruskin. He would not 
confess to old age, but his recent illness had shaken him 
severely. The next three years were spent chiefly at Coniston, 
in comparative retirement ; but neither in despair, nor idle- 
ness, nor loneliness. He had always lived a sort of dual life, 
solitary in his thoughts, but social in his habits : liking 
company, especially of young people ; ready, in the intervals 
of work, to enter into their employments and amusements, 
and curiously able to forget his cares in hours of relaxation. 
Sometimes, when earnest admirers made the pilgrimage to 
their Mecca — ' holy Brantwood ' as a scoffing poet called it — 
they were sm-prised, and even shocked, to find the Prophet of 
' Fors ' at the head of a merry dinner-table, and the Professor 
of Art among surroundings which a London or a Boston 
' aesthete ' would have ruled to be in very poor taste. 

Shall I take you for a visit there, — to Brantwood as it was 
in those old times } 

It is a weary way to Coniston, whatever road you choose. 
The inconvenience of the railway route was perhaps one 
reason of Mr. Ruskin's preference for driving, on so many 


occasions. After changing and changing trains, and stopping 
at many a roadside station, at last you see, suddenly, over the 
wild undulating country, the Coniston Old Man and its 
crags, abrupt on the left, and the lake, long and narrow, on 
the right. Across the water, tiny in the distance and quite 
alone amongst forests and moors, there is Brantwood ; and 
beyond it everything seems uncultivated, uninhabited, except 
for one grey farmhouse high on the fell, where gaps in the 
ragged larches show how bleak and storm-swept a spot it is. 

To come out of the station after long travel, and to find 
yourself face to face with magnificent rocks, and white 
cottages among the fir-trees, is a surprise like walking for 
the first time down the High Street of Edinbui-gh to Holy- 
rood. And as you are whirled down through the straggling 
village, and along the shore round the head of the lake, the 
panorama, though not Alpine in magnitude, is almost Alpine 
in chai'acter. The valley, too, is not yet built up ; it is still 
the old-fashioned lake country, almost as it was in the days 
of the ' Iteriad '; still in touch with the past. You drive up 
and down a narrow, hilly lane, catching peeps of mountains 
and sunset through thick, overhanging trees ; you turn shaip 
up through a gate under dark firs and larches; and the 
carnage stops in what seems in the twilight a sort of court, — 
a gravelled space, one side formed by a rough stone wall 
crowned with laurels and almost precipitous coppice, the 
hrant (or steep) wood above, and the rest is Brantwood, with 
a capital B.* 

You expect that Gothic porch you have read of in 
' Lectures on Architecture and Painting,' and you are sur- 
prised to find a stucco classic portico in the corner, painted 
and grained, and heaped around with lucky horseshoes, 
brightly blackleaded, and mysterious rows of large blocks of 

* The archway supporting a great pile of new buildings did not exist 
in the time when this visit is supposed to be made. Since that time 
new stables and greenhouses also have been built ; but the low, colour- 
washed and evergreen-covered front remains as it was in Mr. Buskin's 


slate and basalt and trap— a complete museum of local 
geology, if only you knew it — very unlike an ideal entrance ; 
still more unlike an ordinary one. While you wait you can 
see through the glass door a roomy hall, lit with candles, and 
hung with large drawings by Bume-Jones and by the master 
of the house. His soft hat, and thick gloves, and chopper, 
lying on the marble table, show that he has come in from his 
afternoon's woodcutting. 

But if you are expected you will hardly have time to look 
round, for Brantwood is nothing if not hospitable. The 
honoured guest — and all guests are honoured there — after 
welcome, is ushered up a narrow stair, which betrays the 
original cottage, into the ' turret room.' It had been ' the 
Professor's' until after his illness, and he papered it with 
naturalistic pansies, to his own taste, and built out at one 
corner a projecting turret to command the view on all sides, 
with windows strongly latticed to resist the storms ; for 
Ruskin can say with Montaigne ' my House is built upon an 
Eminence, as its Name imports, and no part of it is so much 
expos'd to the Wind and Weather a^ that.' There is old- 
fashioned solid comfort in the way of furniture ; and pictures, 
— a Durer engraving, some Fronts and Turners, a couple of 
old Venetian heads, and Meissonier's ' Napoleon,' over the fire- 
place — a picture which Mr. Ruskin bought for one thousand 
guineas, showed for a time at Oxford, and hung up here in a 
shabby little frame to be out of the way.* It gives you a 
curious sense of being in quite a new kind of place.' 

If you are a man, you are told not to dress ; if you are a 
lady, you may pijt on your prettiest gown. They dine in the 
new room, for the old dining-toom was so small that one 
could not get round the table. The new room is spacious 
and lofty compared with the rest of the house ; it has a long 
window with thick red sandstone muUions — there at last is 
a touch of Gothicism — to look down the lake, and a bay 
window opens on the narrow lawn sloping steeply down to 
the road in front, and the view of the Old Man. The walls, 

* Sold in 1882 for 5,900 guineas. 


painted ' duck egg,' are hung with old pictures ; the Doge 
Gritti, a bit saved from the great Titian that was burnt in 
the fire at the Ducal Palace in 1574 ; a couple of Tintorets ; 
Turner and Reynolds, each painted by himself in youth; 
Raphael by a pupil, so it is savd ; portraits of old Mr. and 
Mrs. Ruskin, and little John and his 'boo hills.' There he 
sits, no longer little, opposite : and you can trace the same 
curve and droop of the eyebrows prefigured in the young face 
and preserved in the old, and a certain family likeness to his 
handsome young father. 

Since Mr. Ruskin's illness his cousin, Mrs. Arthur Severn, 
has become more and more indispensable to him : she sits at 
the head of the table and calls him ' the coz.' An eminent 
visitor was once put greatly out of countenance by this 
apparent irreverence. After obvious embarrassment, light 
dawned upon him towards the close of the meal. ' Oh !' said 
he, ' it's " the coz " you call Mr. Ruskin. I thought you were 
saying " the cuss .'" ' 

There are generally two or three young people staying in 
the house, salaried assistants* or amateur, occasional helpers ; 
but though there is a succession of visitors from a distance, 
there is not very frequent entertainment of neighbours. 

A Brantwood dinner is always ample ; there is no asceticism 
about the place ; nor is there any affectation of ' intensity ' 
or of conversational cleverness. The neat things you meant 

* The face moat familiar at Brantwood in those times was ' Laurie's.' 
A strange, bright, gifted boy — admirable draughtsman, ingenious 
mechanician, marvellous actor ; the imaginer of the quaintest and 
drollest humours that ever entered the head of man ; devoted to boats 
and boating, but unselfishly ready to share all labours and contribute 
to all diversions; painstaking and perfect in his work, and brilliant in 
his wit, — Laurence Hilliard was dearly loved by his friends, and is still 
loved by them dearly. He was Mr. Buskin's chief secretary at Brant- 
wood from Jan. 1876 to 1882, when the death of his father, and ill- 
health, led him to resign the post. He continued to live at Conistbn, 
and was just beginning to be famous as a painter of still life and land- 
scape when he died of pleurisy on board a friend's yacht in the .^gean, 
April nth, 1887, aged thirty -two. 


to say are forgotten, — ^you must be hardened indeed to say 
them to Mr. Ruskin's face; but if you were shy, you soon 
feel that there was no need for shyness; you have fallen 
among friends ; and before dessert comes in, with fine old 
sherry — the pride of your host, as he explains — you feel that 
nobody understands you so well, and that all his books are 
nothing to himself. 

It is not a mere show, this kindliness and consideration. 
Two young visitors, once staying at Brantwood with Mr. 
Raskin alone, mistook the time and appeared an hour late 
for dinner. Not a hint or a sign was given that might lead 
them to suspect their error ; their hungry host was not only 
patient, but as charming as possible. Only next day they 
learnt from the servants that the dinner and the master had 
waited an hour for them. 

They don't sit over their wine, and smoking is not allowed. 
Mr. Ruskin goes off to his study after dinner — it is believed 
for a nap, for he was at work early and has been out all 
the afternoon. In the drawing-room you see pictures, — ^water- 
colours by Turner and Hunt, drawings by Prout and Ruskin, 
an early Burne-Jones, a sketch in oil by Gainsborough. The 
furniture is the old mahogany of Mr. Ruskin's childhood, with 
rare things interspersed, — like the cloisonne vases on the 

Soon after nine Mr. Ruskin comes in with an armful of 
things that are going to the Sheffield museum, and while his 
cousin makes his tea and salted toast, he explains his last 
acquirements in minerals or missals, eager that you should 
see the interest of them ; or displays the last studies of Mr. 
Rooke or Mr. Fairfax Murray, copies from Carpaccio or bits 
of Gothic architectxire. (Mr. Ruskin about this time was 
anxious to secure memorials of old buildings and sculpture 
before 'restoration.' In 1880 he published an appeal for 
subscriptions towards work in St. Mark's, which was being 
restored ; but he met with no response. Perhaps, in the 
opinion of the public, Ongania's great work partly forestalled 
the necessity.) Mr. Ruskin likes, you find, to talk about 


the museum, then newly honoured by Prince Leopold's visit 
(October 23, 1879). He tells you why he put it at Sheffield, 
and why, after all, it is not at Sheffield, but so far out of the 
town — in order to entice workmen out of the smoke to study 
in a country retreat, where there will be always pretty things 
for them to see and light to read by. He hopes to get it 
filled with men who will add to scientific teaching the study 
of art and nature, and, in short, to make it ' a working-man's 
Bodleian library.' He plans also to join a school to the 
museum, where Sheffield girls and boys may be taught to 
carve from the natural leaves, instead of the conventional 
pattern-drawing which he considers the fallacy of modem 
popular art-teaching. 

Then, sitting in the chair in which he preached his baby- 
sermon, he reads aloud a few chapters of Scott or Miss 
Edgeworth, or, with judicious omissions, one of the older 
novelists ; or translates, with admirable facility, a scene of 
Scribe or George Sand. When his next work comes out 
you will recognise this evening's reading in his allusions and 
quotations, perhaps even in the subjects of his writing, for at 
this time he is busy on the articles of 'Fiction, Fair and Foul.' 

After the reading, music ; a bit of his own composition, 
'Old ^gina's Rocks,' or 'Cockle-hat and Staff'; his cousin's 
Scotch ballads or Christy Minstrel songs ; and if you can sing 
a new ditty, fresh from London, now is your chance. You 
are surprised to see the Prophet clapping his hands to 
' Camptown Races,' or the ' Hundred Pipers,' — chorus given 
with the whole strength of the company ; but you are in 
a house of strange meetings. 

By about half-past ten his day is over ; a busy day, that 
has left him tired out. You will not easily forget the way 
he ht his candle — ^no lamps allowed, and no gas — and gave 
a last look lovingly at a pet picture or two, slanting his 
candlestick and shading the light with his hand, before he 
went slowly upstairs to his own little room, literally lined 
with the Turner drawings you have read about in ' Modern 


You may be waked by a knock at the door, and ' Are you 
looking out ?' And pulling up the blind, there is one of our 
Coniston mornings, with the whole range of mountains in one 
quiet glow above the cool mist of the valley and lake. 
Going down at length on a voyage of exploration, and turn- 
ing in perhaps at the first door, you intrude upon ' the 
Professor ' at work in his study, half sitting, half kneeling at 
his round table in the bay window, with the early cup of 
coffee, and the cat in his crimson arm-chair. There he has 
been working since dawn perhaps, or on dark mornings by 
candlelight. Like Montaigne, he does not pass the night in 
his study, but he takes ' to-day ' (his motto) by the forelock. 
And he does not seem to mind the interruption; after a 
welcome he asks you to look round while he finishes his 
paragraph, and writes away composedly. 

A long, low room, evidently two old cottage-rooms thrown 
into one ; papered with a pattern specially copied from Marco 
Marziale's ' Circumcision ' in the National Gallery ; and hung 
with Turners. A great early Turner* of the Lake of Geneva 
is over the fireplace. You are tempted to make a mental 
inventory. Polished steel fender, very anaesthetic; curious 
shovel — ^his design, he will stop to remark, and forged by the 
village smith. Red mahogany furniture, with startling shiny 
emerald leather chair-cushions ; red carpet and green curtains. 
Most of the room crowded with bookcases and cabinets for 
minerals, 'handsome and neat enough.' Scales in a glass 
case ; heaps of mineral specimens ; books on the floor ; rolls 
of diagrams ; early Greek pots from C)rprus ; a great litter of 
things and yet not disorderly nor dusty. 'I don't under- 
stand,' he once said, ' why you ladies are always complaining 
about the dust ; my bookcases are never dusty !' The truth 
being that, though he rose early, the housemaid rose earlier. 

Before you have finished your inventory he breaks off work 
to show you a drawer or two of minerals, fairy-land in a cup- 
board; or some of his missals. King Hakon's Bible, or the 
original MS. of the Scott he was reading last night; or, 

* Since sold, and replaced by a della Bobbia Madonna. 


opening a door in a sort of secretaire, pulls out of their 
sliding cases frame after frame of Turners, — ^the Bridge of 
Nami, the Falls of Terni, Florence, or Rome, and many 
more, — to hold in your hand, and take to the light, and look 
into with a lens, — quite a different thing from seeing pictures 
in a gallery. 

At breakfast, when you see the post-bag brought in, you 
understand why he tries to get his bit of -writing done early. 
The letters and parcels are piled in the study, and after 
breakfast, at which, as in old times, he reads his last-written 
passages, — ^how much more interesting they will always look 
to you in print! — after breakfast he is closeted with an 
assistant, and they work through the heap. Private friends, 
kno\vii by handwriting, he puts aijide ; most of the morning 
will go in answering them. Business he talks over, and gives 
brief directions. But the bulk of the correspondence is from 
strangers in all parts of the world, — admirers' flattery; 
students' questions ; begging-letters for money, books, influ- 
ence, advice, autographs, criticism on enclosed MS. or accom- 
pan)dng pictiu^; remonstrance or abuse from dissatisfied 
readers, or people who object to his method of publication, 
or wish to convert him to their own religion, whatever it 
happens to be. And so the heap is gradually cleared, with 
the help of the waste-paper basket ; the secretary's work cut 
out, his own arranged ; and by noon a long row of letters and 
envelopes have been set out to dry — Mr. Ruskin uses no 
blotting-paper, and, as he dislikes the vulgar method of fas- 
tening envelopes, the secretary's work will be to seal them all 
with red wax, and the seal with the motto ' To-day ' cut in 
the apex of a big specimen of chalcedony. 

If you take, as many do, an interest in the minutiae of 
portrait painting, and think the picture more finished for 
its details, you may notice that he writes on the flat table, 
not on a desk ; that he uses a cork penholder and a fine 
steel pen, though he is not at all a slave to his tools, and 
differs from others rather in the absence of the sine qua non 
&om his conditions. He can write anywhere, on anything. 


with anything ; wants no pen-wiper, no special form of paper, 
or other ' fad.' Much of his work is written in bound note- 
books, especially when he is abroad, to prevent the loss and 
disorder of multitudinous foolscap. He generally makes a 
rough syllabus of his subject, in addition to copious notes 
and extracts from authorities, and then writes straight off; 
not without a noticeable hesitation and revision, even in his 
letters. His rough copy is transcribed by an assistant, 
and he often does not see it again until it is in proof.* 
Formerly he set no store by his MSS. His cousin says that 
her early recollections of Denmark Hill include a vision of 
crumpled foolscap sticking out of the grate every morning ; 
Mr. Ruskin's copy and proofs kept the housemaids in fire- 
lighting, until she begged the interesting sheets. But there 
are no important works of Ruskin complete in MS. as there 
are of Scott; only odd lectures and chapters of his later 

Printers' proofs are always a trial to Mr. Ruskin, and he is 
glad to shift the work on to an assistant's shoulders, such as 
Mr. Harrison was, who saw all his early works through the 
press. But he is extremely particular about certain matters, 
such as the choice of type and arrangements of the page ; 
though his taste does not coincide with that of the leaders of 
recent fashions. Mr. Jowett (of Messrs. Hazell, Watson, & 
Viney, Limited) says, in HazeWs Magazine for September 
1892, that Mr. Ruskin made the size of the page a care- 
ful study, though he adopted many varieties. The 'Fors' 
page is diflFerent from, and not so symmetrical as that 
of the octavo ' Works Series,' although both are printed on 
the same sized paper, — medium 8vo. Then there is the 
' Knight's Faith ' and ' Ulric,' in both of which the type 
(pica modern — ' this delightful type,' wrote Mr. Ruskin) and 
the size of the page are different from any other ; yet both 
were his choice. The ' Ulric ' page was imitated from an old 
edition of Miss Edgeworth. The first proof he criticised 
thus, — ' Don't you think a quarter inch off this page, as 

* In later years he sometimea had his copy type- written. 


enclosed, would look better ? The type is very nice. How 
delicious a bit of Miss Edgeworth's is, like this !' ' Ida ' was 
another page of his choice, and greatly approved. His title 
pages, too, were arranged with great care ; he used to draw 
them out in pen and ink, indicating the size and position of 
the lines and letters. He objected to ornaments and to any- 
thing like blackness and heaviness, but he was very particular 
about proportions and spacing, and about the division of 
words. Mr. Jowett tells that in issuing ' Ulric ' in parts, the 
word ' stockings ' happened to be divided ; ' and thus " stock-" 
ended one part, and " ings " began the next ! In all my corre- 
spondence with him,' says Mr. Jowett, ' I never knew Mr. 
Ruskui so annoyed. — " Dear Jowett, — I'm really a little cross 
with you — for once — for doing such an absurd thing as 
jointing a word between the two parts. Did I really pass 
Part II. with half a word at the end .?" This unfortunately 
was followed by many weeks' silence, and entire abstinence 
from any kind of work. The Master had been seriously ill ! 
The silence was broken by the following : — " My dear 
Jowett, — that unlucky extra worry with ' Ulric ' was just the 
drop too much, which has cost me a month's painful illness 
again. . . ." ' 

But to return to Brantwood in 1880. 

In the morning everybody is busy. There are drawings 
and diagrams to be made, MS. to copy, references to look up, 
parcels to pack and unpack. Someone is told off to take you 
round, and you visit the various rooms and see the treasures, 
inspect the outhouse with its workshop for carpentry, framing 
and mounting, casting leaves and modelling ; one work or 
another is sure to be going on ; perhaps one of the various 
sculptors who have made Mr. Ruskin's bust is busy there. 
Down at the Lodge, a miniature Brantwood, turret and all, 
the Severn children live when they are at Coniston. Then 
there are the gardens, terraced in the steep, rocky slope, and 
some small hot-houses, which Mr. Ruskin thinks a superfluity, 
except that they provide grapes for sick neighbours. 

Below the gardens a path across a field takes you to the 


harbour, begun in play by the Xenophon translators and 
finished by the village mason, with its fleet of boats, — chief 
of them the 'Jumping Jenny' (called after Nanty Ewart's 
boat in ' Redgauntlet '), Mr. Ruskin's own design and special 
private water-carriage, which, you are told, one day in a big 
storm he insisted on rowing by himself up the lake, while all 
the household turned out on to the terrace to watch, in real 
terror. Laurie can imitate the cook to perfection : — ' Eh, 
dear, the Maister's gone ! . . . Eh, now, look ye, there he is, 
riding on f white horseg ! Eh, there, he's going ; he's 
going ; he's gone !' An hour or so afterwards he walked in, 
drenched, but triumphant in the seaworthy qualities of his 
' Jump.' 

Outside the harbour the sail-boats are moored, Mr. Severn's 
Lily of Brantwood, Hilliard's boat, and his Snail, an unfor- 
tunate craft brought from Morecambe Bay with great expec- 
tations that were never realized ; though Mr. Ruskin always 
professed to believe in her, as a real sea-boat (see ' Harbours 
of England ') such as he used to steer with his friend Huret, 
the Boulogne fisherman, in the days when he, too, was smitten 
with sea-fever. 

After luncheon, if letters are done, all hands are piped to 
the moor. With billhooks and choppers the party winds up 
the wood paths, ' the Professor ' first, walking slowly, and 
pointing out to you his pet bits of rock-cleavage, or ivied 
trunk, or nest of wild-strawberry plants. You see, perhaps, 
the ice-house — tunnelled at vast expense into the rock and 
filled at more expense with the best ice ; opened at last with 
great expectations and the most charitable intent — for it was 
planned to supply invalids in the neighbourhood with ice, as 
the hothouses supplied them with grapes ; and revealing, after 
all, nothing but a puddle of dirty water. You see more suc- 
cessful works, — the Professor's little private garden, which he 
is supposed to cultivate with his own hands ; various little 
wells and watercourses among the rocks, moss-grown and fern- 
embowered ; and so you come out on the moor. 

There great works go on. Juniper is being rooted up ; 


boggy patcl^es drained and cultivated ; cranberries are being 
planted, and oats grown ; paths engineered to the best points 
of view ; rocks bared to examine the geology, — though you 
cannot get the Professor to agree that every inch of his 
territory has been glaciated. These diversions have their 
serious side, for he is really experimenting on the possibility 
of reclaiming waste land ; perhaps too sanguine, you think, 
aiid not counting the cost. To which he replies that, as long 
as there ai-e hands unemployed and misemployed, a govern- 
ment such as he would see need never be at a loss for labourers. 
If corn can be made to grow where juniper grew before, the 
benefit is a positive one, the expense only comparative. And 
so you take your pick with the rest, and ai-e almost persuaded 
to become a companion of St. George. 

Not to tire a new-comer, he takes you away after a while 
to a fine heathery promontory, where you sit before a most 
glorious view of lake and mountains. This, he says, is his 
' Naboth''s vineyard ' ;* he would like to own so fine a point 
of vantage. But he is happy in his country retreat, far 
happier than you thought him ; and the secret of his happi- 
ness is that he has sympathy with all aroimd him, and hearty 
interest in everything, from the least to the greatest. 

Coming down from the moor after the round, when you 
reach the front door you must see the performance of the 
waterfall : everybody must see that. On the moor a reservoir 
has been dug and dammed, with ingenious flood-gates,-^Mr. 
Ruskin's device, of course, — and a channel led down through 
the wood to a rustic bridge in the rock. Some one has stayed 
behind to let out the water, and down it comes ; first a black 
stream and then a white one, as it gradually clears ; and the 
rocky wall at the entrance becomes for ten minutes a cascade. 
This too has its uses ; not only is there a supply of water in 
case of fire (the exact utilisation of which is yet undecided), 
but it illustrates one of his doctrines about the simplicity with 
which works of irrigation could be carried out among the hills 
of Italy. 

* Since then become part of the Brantwood estate, 


And so you go in to tea and chess, for he loves a good 
game of chess with all his heart. He loves many things, you 
have found. He is different from other men you know, just 
by the breadth and vividness of his sympathies, by power of 
living as few other men can live, in Admiration, Hope and 
Love. Is not such a life worth living, whatever its monu- 
ment be ? 


•FORS' RESUMED. (1880-1881.) 

' How can he give his neighbour the real ground, 
His own conviction V 

Browning's Karshish. 

RETIREMENT at Brantwood, as the reader may suspect, 
was only partial. All Mr. Ruskin's habits of life made 
it impossible for him to be idle, much as he acknow- 
ledged the need of thorough rest. And he was a man with a 
mission. His work was not of the sort that could be laid 
aside and done with. He could not be wholly ignorant of 
the world outside Coniston ; though sometimes for weeks 
together he tried to ignore it, and refused to read a news- 
paper. The time when General Gordon went out to Khar- 
toum was one of these periods of abstraction, devoted to 
mediaeval study. Somebody talked one morning at breakfast 
about the Soudan. ' And who is the Soudan .?' he earnestly 
inquired, connecting the name, as it seemed, with the Soldan 
of Babylon, in crusading romance. 

' The man is apathetic, you deduce ) 
Contrariwise, he loves both old and young, 
Able and weak, affects the very brutes 
And birds— how say I ? flowers of the field — 
As a wise workman recognises tools 
In a master's workshop, loving what they makeu 
Thus is the man as harmless as a lamb : 
Only impatient, let him do his best. 
At ignorance and carelessness and sin.' 


'Don't you know,' he wrote to a friend (January 8th, 
1880), ' that I am entirely with you in this Irish misery, and 
have been these thirty years ? — only one can't speak plain 
without distinctly becoming a leader of Revolution ? I know 
that Revolution must come in all the world — but I can't act 
with Danton or Robespierre, nor with the modern French 
Republican or Italian one. I cmiM with you and your Irish, 
but you are only at the beginning of the end. I have spoken, 
— and plainly too, — for all who have ears, and hear.' 

If he had spoken plainly about ' Landlordism,' as they call 
it, he had spoken plainly too on the subject of Capital. 
Nowadays every well-informed person knows that a vast 
number of influential thinkers hold — rightly or wrongly — 
that the private exploitation of labour is an error, if not a 
crime. But even in 1880, the doctrine of Collectivism was 
too strange, even to educated people, to be heard with any- 
thing but the extremest impatience. The author of ' Fors ' 
had tried to show that the nineteenth-century commercialist 
spirit was not new ; that the tjrranny of capital was the old 
sin of usury over again; and he asked why preachers of 
religion did not denoimce it, — why, for example, the Bishop 
of Manchester did not, on simply religious grounds, oppose 
the teaching of the ' Manchester School,' who were the chief 
supporters of the commercialist economy. Not until the end 
of 1879 had Dr. Fraser been aware of the challenge ; but at 
length he wrote, justifying his attitude. The popular and 
able bishop had much to say on the expediency of the com- 
mercial system and the error of taking the Bible literally ; 
but he did not seem to have any conception of Mr. Ruskin's 
standpoint; he seemed imaware of the revolution in 
economical thought which ' Unto this Last ' and ' Fors ' had 
been pioneering. 

' I'm not gone to Venice yet,' wrote Mr. Ruskin to Miss 
Beever, ' but thinking of it hourly. Fm very nearly done 
with toasting my bishop ; he just wants another turn or two 
and then a little butter.' The toasting and the buttering, 
both neatly done, appeared in the Contemporary Review for 


February 1880; reprinted in the 'Old Road' (vol. ii., 
pp. 202-238) ; and if the reader have insight into the course 
of modern thought, he will see that Mr. Ruskin's rejoinder 
was much more than a bit of clever persiflage. 

This incident led him to feel that the mission of ' Fors ' 
was not finished. If bishops were still unenlightened, there 
was yet work to do. And so he gave up Venice, and resumed 
his crusade. 

Brantwood life was occasionally interrupted by. short ex- 
cursions to London or elsewhere. In the autumn Mr. 
Ruskin had heard Professor Huxley on the evolution of 
reptiles ; and this suggested another treatment of the subject, 
from his own artistic and ethical point of view, in a lecture 
oddly called 'A Caution to Snakes,' given at the London 
Institution, March 17th, 1880 (repeated March 23rd, and 
printed in 'Deucalion,' part vii.). In the course of this 
address he gave some notes of his observations on the motion 
of snakes, and claimed to be the first to have explained how 
they did not creep or drag themselves along, but travelled by 
a sort of skating action. Whether he was right in believing 
this to be a discovery or no, it was the result of much watch- 
ing of the ways of adders in freedom on his moor, in addition 
to study at the Zoological Gardens, where he used to get the 
cases opened, to ' make friends ' with the snakes. 

Mr. Ruskin was not merely an amateur zoologist and 
F.Z.S., but a devoted lover and keen observer of animals. It 
would take long to tell the story of all his dogs, from the 
spaniel Dash, commemorated in his earliest poems, and 
Wisie, whose sagacity is related in ' Praeterita,' down through 
the long line of bulldogs, St. Bernards, and collies, to 
Bramble, the reigning favourite ; and all the cats who made 
his study their home, or were flirted with abroad. To Miss 
Beever, from Bolton Abbey (January 24th, 1875) he describes 
the Wharfe in flood, and then continues : ' I came home (to 
the hotel) to quiet tea, and a black kitten called Sweep, who 
lapped half my cream-jugful (and yet I had plenty), sitting 
on my shoulder.' Grip, the pet rook at Denmark Hill, is 


mentioned in ' My First Editor,' as celebrated in verse by 
Mr. W. H. Harrison. 

Kindness to animals has often been noted as one of the 
most striking traits of Mr. Ruskin, — a sympathy with them 
which went much deeper than benevolent sentiment, or the 
curiosity of science. He cared little about their organisa- 
tion and anatomy, much about their habits and characters. 
He had not Thoreau's powers of observation and intimate 
acquaintance with all the details of wild life, but his attitude 
towards animals and plants was the same ; hating the science 
that murders to dissect ; resigning his Professorship at 
Oxford, finally, because vivisection was introduced into the 
University ; and supporting the Society for the Prevention of 
Cruelty to Animals with all his heart. But, as he said at the 
Annual Meeting in 1877, he objected to the sentimental 
fiction and exaggerated statements which some of its members 
circulated. ' They had endeavoured to prevent cruelty to 
animals,' he said, ' but they had not enough endeavoured to 
promote affection for animals. He trusted to the pets of 
children for their education, just as much as to their tutors.' 

It was to carry out this idea (to anticipate a little) that 
he founded the Society of Friends of Living Creatures, which 
he addressed. May 23rd, 1885, at the club, Bedford Park, in 
his capacity of — not president — ^but ' papa.' The -members, 
boys and girls from seven to fifteen, promised not to kill nor 
hurt any animal for sport, nor tease creatures ; but to make 
fiiends of their pets and watch their habits, and collect facts 
about natural history. 

I remember, on one of the rambles at Coniston in the early 
days, how we found a wounded buzzard, — one of the few 
creatures of the eagle kind that our English mountains still 
breed. The rest of us were not very ready to go near the 
beak and talons of the fierce-looking, and, as we supposed, 
desperate bird. Mr. Ruskin quietly took it up in his arms, 
felt it over to find the hurt, and carried it, quite unresist- 
ingly, out of the way of dogs and passers-by, to a place where 
it might die in solitude or recover in safety. He often told 


Ins Oxford hearers that he would rather they learned to love 
birds than to shoot them ; and his wood and moor were 
harbours of refuge for hunted game or ' vermin '; and his 
windows the rendezvous of the little birds. 

He had not been abroad since the spring of 1877, and in 
August 1880 felt able to travel again. He went for a tour 
among the northern French cathedrals, staying at old haunts, 
— Abbeville, Amiens, Beauvais, Chartres, Rouen, — and then 
returned with Mr. A. Severn and Mr. Brabazon to Amiens, 
where he spent the greater part of October. He was writing 
a new book — the ' Bible of Amiens ' — which was to be to the 
' Seven Lamps ' what ' St. Mark's Rest ' was to ' Stones of 

Before he returned, the secretary of the Chesterfield Art 
School had written to ask him to address the students. Mr. 
Ruskin, travelling without a secretary, and in the fiush of 
new work and thronging ideas, put the letter aside ; he carried 
his letters about in bundles in his portmanteau, as he said in 
his apology, ' and looked at them as Ulysses at the bags of 
^olus.' Some wag had the impudence to forge a reply, 
which was actually read at the meeting in spite of its ob- 
viously fictitious style and statements : — 

♦Haelesden (1), 
' London, 

' Friday. 
' My dear Sia, 

'Your letter reaches me here. Have just returned 
[commercial English, not Ruskin] from Venice [where he had 
meant to go, but did not go] where I have ruminated (!) in 
the pasturages of the home of art (!) ; the loveliest and holiest 
of lovely and holy cities, where the very stones cry out, elo- 
quent in the elegancies of iambics' (!!) — and so forth. 

However, it deceived the newspapers, and there was a fine 
storm, which Mr. Ruskin rather enjoyed. For though the 
forgery was clumsy enough, it embodied some apt plagiarism 


from a letter to the Mansfield Art School on a similar occa- 

Not long before, a forgery of a more serious kind had been 
committed by one of the people connected with St. George's 
Guild, who had put Mr. Ruskin's name to cheques. The 
bank authorities were long in tracing the crime. They even 
sent a detective to Brantwood to watch one of the assistants, 
who never knew — ^nor will ever know — ^that he was honoured 
with such attentions ; and certainly neither Mr. Ruskin nor 
any of his friends for a moment believed him guilty. He had 
sometimes imitated Mr. Ruskin's hand; a dangerous jest. 
The real culprit was discovered at last, and Mr. Ruskin had 
to go to London as a witness for the prosecution. ' Being in 
very weak health,' the Times report said (April 1st, 1879), 
' he was allowed to give evidence from the bench.' He had 
told the Sheffield communists that ' he thought so strongly on 
the subject of the repression of crime that he dare not give 
expression to his ideas for fear of being charged with cruelty'; 
but no sooner was the prisoner released than he took him 
kindly by the hand and gave the help needed to start him 
again in a better career. 

Though he did not feel able to lecture to strangers at 
Chesterfield, he visited old friends at Eton, on November 6th, 
1880, to give an address on Amiens. For once he forgot his 
MS., but the lecture was no less brilliant and interesting. It 
was practically the first chapter of his new work, the ' Bible 
of Amiens,' — itself intended as the first volume of ' Our 
Fathers have Told us : Sketches of the History of Christendom, 
for Boys and Girls who have been held at its Fonts.' The 
distinctly religious tone of the work was noticed as marking, 
if not a change, a strong development of a tendency which 
had been strengthening for some time past. He had come 
out of the phase of doubt, into acknowledgment of the real 
and wholesome influence of serious religion ; into an attitude 

* Printed as appendix to ' A Joy for Ever.' The Chesterfield letter 
and correspondence are given in extenso in 'Igdrasil' (vol. i., pp. 215, 


of mind in which, without unsaying anything he had said 
against narrowness of creed and inconsistency of practice, 
without stating any definite doctrine of the after life, or 
adopting any sectarian dogma, he regarded the fear of God 
and the revelation of the Divine Spirit as great facts, as 
motives not to be neglected in the study of history, and the 
groundwork of civilisation and the guide of progress. 

Early in 1879 the Rev. F. A. Malleson, vicar of Broughton, 
near Coniston, had asked him to write, for the Furness 
Clerical Society's Meetings, a series of letters, on the Lord's 
Prayer. In them he dwelt upon the need of living faith in 
the Fatherhood of God, and childlike obedience to the com- 
mands of old-fashioned religion and morality. He criticised 
the English liturgy as compared with mediaeval forms of 
prayer ; and pressed upon his hearers the strongest warnings 
against evasion, or explaining away of stem duties and simple 
faiths. He concluded : ' No man more than I has ever loved 
the place where God's honour dwells, or yielded truer alle- 
giance to the teaching of His evident servants. No man at 
this time grieves more for the damage of the Church which 
supposes him her enemy, while she whispers procrastinating 
pax vobiscum in answer to the spurious kiss of those who 
would fain toll curfew over the last fires of English faith, and 
watch the sparrow find nest where she may lay her young, 
around the altars of the Lord.' 

But if the Anglican Church refused him, the Roman Qhurch 
was eager to claim him. His interest in medisevalism seemed 
to point him out as ripe for conversion. Cardinal Manning, 
an old acquaintance, showed him special attention, and in- 
vited him to charming tite-a-tite luncheons. It was com- 
monly reported that he had gone over, or was going. But 
two letters (of a later date) show that he was not to be 
caught. To a Glasgow correspondent he wrote in 1887 : ' I 
shall be entirely grateful to you if you will take the trouble 
to contradict any news gossip of this kind, which may be 
disturbing the minds of any of my Scottish friends. I was, 
am, and can be, only a Christian Catholic in the wide and 


eternal sense. I have been that these five-aaid-twenty years 
at least. Heaven keep me from being less as I grow older ! 
But I am no more likely to become a Roman Catholic than a 
Quaker, Evangelical, or Turk.' To another, next year, he 
^vrote : ' I fear you have scarcely read enough of " Fors " to 
know the breadth of my own creed or communion. I gladly 
take the bread, water, wine, or meat of the Lord's Supper* 
with members of my own family or nation who obey Him, 
and should be equally sure it was His giving, if I were myself 
worthy to receive it, whether the intermediate mortal hand 
were the Pope's, the Queen's, or a hedge-side gipsy's.' 

At Coniston he was on friendly terms with Father Gibson, 
the Roman Catholic priest, and gave a window to the chapel, 
which several of the Brantwood household attended. But 
though he did not go to Church, he contributed largely to 
the increase of the poorly-endowed curacy, and to the charities 
of the parish. The religious society of the neighbourhood 
was hardly of a kind to attract him, unless among the reli- 
gious society should be included the Thwaite, where lived the 
survivors of a family long settled at Coniston, — Miss Mary 
Beever, scientific and political ; and Miss Susanna, who won 
Mr. Ruskin's admiration and affection by an interest akin to his 
own in nature and in poetry, and by her love for animals, and 
bright, unfailing wit. Both ladies were examples of sincerely 
religious life, ' at once sources and loadstones of all good to 
the villp,ge,' as he wrote in the preface to ' Hortus Inclusus,' 
the collection of his letters to them since first acquaintance 
in the autumn of 1873. The elder Miss Beever died at an 
advanced age on the last day of 1883 ; Miss Susanna survived 
until October 29, 1893. 

In children he took a warm and openly-expressed interest. 
He used to visit the school often, and delighted to give them 
a treat. On January 13th, 1881, he gave a dinner to 315 
Coniston youngsters, and the tone of his address to his young 
* Compare the lines in Longfellow's ' Golden Legend ':— 
' A holy family, that makes 
Each meal a Supper of the Lord.' 


guests is noteworthy as taken in connection with the drift of 
his religious tendency during this period. He dwelt on a 
verse of the Sunday School hymn they had been singing : 
- Jesu, here from sin deliver.' ' That is what we want,' he 
said ; ' to be delivered from our sins. We must look to the 
Saviour to deliver us from our sin. It is right we should be 
punished for the sins which we have done ;. but God loves us, 
and wishes to be kind to us, and to help us, that we may not 
wilfully sin.' Words like these were not lightly spoken : we 
must take them, with their full weight, to represent his real 

At this time he used to take the family prayers himself at 
Brant wood: preparing careful notes for a Bible -reading, 
which sometimes, indeed, lasted longer than was convenient 
to the household ; and writing collects for the occasion, still 
existing in manuscript, and deeply interesting as the prayers 
of a man who had passed through so many wildernesses of 
thought and doubt, and had returned at last — not to the fold 
of the Church, but to the footstool of the Father. 


THE RECALL TO OXFORD. (1882-1883.) 

' Cras ingens iterabimua sequor.' 


THIS Brantwood life came to an end with the end of 
1881. Early in the next year Mr. Ruskin went for 
change of scene to stay with the Severns at his old 
home on Heme Hill. He seemed much better, and ventured 
to reappear in public. On March 8rd he went to the National 
Gallery to sketch Turner's Python. On the unfinished draw- 
ing is written : ' Bothered away from it, and never went again. 
No light to work by in the next month.' An artist in the 
Gallery had been taking notes of him for a surreptitious 
portrait — an embarrassing form of flattery. 

He wrote : ' No — I won't believe any stories about over- 
work. It's impossible, when one's in good heart and at really 
pleasant things. I've a lot of nice things to do, but the heart 
fails, — after lunch, particularly !' Heart and head did, how- 
ever, fail again ; and another attack of brain fever followed. 
Sir William Gull brought him through, and won his praise 
as a doctor and esteem as a friend. Mr. Ruskin took it as 
a great compliment when Sir William, in acknowledging 
his fee, wrote that he should keep the cheque as an auto- 

By Easter Monday the patient was better again, and 
plunging into work in spite of everybody. He wrote : ' The 
moment I got your letter to-day recommending me not to 


write books (I finished it, however, with great enjoyment 
of the picnic, before proceeding to act in defiance of the rest), 
I took out the last proof of last " Proserpina " and worked for 
an hour and a half on it; and have been translating some 
St. Benedict material since — with much comfort and sense of 
getting — as I said — ^head to sea again — (have you seen the 
article on modem rudders in the Telegraph? Anyhow I'll 
send you a lot of collision and other interesting sea-subjects 
by to-mon-ow's post). This is only to answer the catechism. 

'Love and congratulations to the boys. Salute Tommy 
for me in an affectionate — and apostolic — manner — especially 
since he carried up the lunch ! — Also, kindest regards to all 
the other servants. I daresay they're beginning really to miss 
me a little by this time. 

' What state are the oxalises in — anemones ? Why can't 
we invent seeing, instead of talking, by telegraph ? 

' I've just got a topaz of which these are two contiguous 
planes ! [sketch of sides nearly two inches long] traced as it 
lies — and the smaller plane is blindingly iridescent in sunshine 
with rainbow colours ! I've only found out this in Easter 
Sunday light.' 

Again: 'I was not at all sure, myself, till yesterday, 
whether I would go abroad ; also I should have told you 
before. But as you have had the (sorrowful .'') news broken 
to you — and as I find Sir William Gull perfectly fixed in his 
opinion, I obey him, and reserve only some liberty of choice 
to myself — respecting, not only climate, — but the general 
appearance of the — inhabitants, of the localities, where for 
antiquarian or scientific research I may be induced to prolong 
my sojourn. — ^Meantime I send you — to show you I haven't 
come to town for nothing, my last bargain in beryls, with a 
little topaz besides. . . .' 

But the journey was put off week after week. There was 
so much to do, buying diamonds for Sheffield museum, and 
planning a collection of models to show the normal forms of 
crystals, and to illustrate a subject which he thought many 
people would find interesting, if they could be got over its 


first difficulties. Not only Sheffield was to receive these gifts 
and helps : Mr. Ruskin had become acquainted with the Rev. 
J. P. Faunthorpe, Principal of Whitelands College for Pupil 
Teachers, and had given various books and collections to 
illustrate the artistic side of education. Now he instituted 
there the May Queen Festival, in some sort carrying out his 
old suggestion in ' Time and Tide.' Mr. A. Severn designed 
a gold cross, and it was presented, with a set of volumes of 
Ruskin's works, sumptuously bound, to the May Queen and 
her maidens. The pretty festival became a popular feattu'e 
of the school, ' patronised by royalty,' and Mr. Ruskin con- 
tinued his annual gift to Whitelands, and kept up a similar 
institution at the High School at Cork. 

At last, in August, he started for the Continent, and stayed 
a while at Avallon in central France, a district new to him. 
There he met Mr. Frank Randall, one of the artists working 
for St. George's Guild, and explored the scenery and anti- 
quities of a most interesting neighbourhood. He drove over 
the Jura in the old style, revisited Savoy, and after weeks of 
bitter bise and dark weather, a splendid sunset cleared the 
hills. He wrote to Miss Beever : — ' I saw Mont Blanc again 
to-day, unseen since 1877 ; and was very thankful. It is a 
sight that always redeems me to what I am capable of at my 
poor little best, and to what loves and memories are most 
precious to me. So I write to you, one of the true loves left. 
The snow has fallen fresh on the hills, and it makes me feel 
that I must be soon seeking shelter at Brantwood and the 

But he went forward, exhilarated by the drive through 
Savoy with a famous coachman, renowned for his whip- 
cracking and his dog Tom. He won the Professor's heart by 
his dashing style and kindliness to his beasts ; and on parting 
he gave the man twenty francs as a bonne main, and two 
francs over, as he said, for a borme patte to Tom. 

At Annecy he was pleased to find the waiter at the Hotel 
Verdun remembered his visit twenty years before; — every- 
where he met old friends, and saw old scenes that he had 


feared he never would revisit. After crossing the Cenis and 
hastening through Turin and Genoa, he reached Lucca, to be 
awaited at the Albergo Reale dell' Universo by a crowd, 
every one anxious to shake hands with Signor Ruskin. No 
wonder ! — for instead of allowing himself to be a mere 
Number-so-and-so in a hotel, wherever he felt comfortable — 
and that was everywhere except at pretentious modern hotels — 
he made friends with the waiter, chatted with the landlord, 
found his way into the kitchen to compliment the cook, and 
forgot nobody in the establishment, — not only in ' tips,' but in 
a frank and sympathetic address which must have contrasted 
curiously, in their minds, with the reserve and indifference of 
other English tourists. 

At Florence he met Mr. Henry Roderick Newman, an 
American artist who had been at Coniston and was working 
for the Guild. He introduced Mr. Ruskin to Mrs. and Miss 
Alexander. In these ladies' home he found his own aims, in 
religion, philanthropy, and art, realised in an unexpected way. 
Miss Alexander's drawing at first struck him by its sincerity. 
He had been always the enemy of that acquired skill and 
paraded cleverness which becomes so fatiguing to the ex- 
perienced critic. He had always called out for human interest, 
the evidence of sympathy, the poetry of feeling, in art : and 
he found this in Miss Alexander, — not professionally learned, 
but full of observation and the tokens of affectionate interest 
in her subject. Not only did she draw beautifully, but she 
also wrote a beautiful hand ; and it had been one of his old 
savings that missal- writing, rather than missal-painting, was 
the admirable thing in mediaeval art. The legends illustrated 
by her drawings were collected by herself, through an intimate 
acquaintance with Italians of all classes, from the nobles to 
the peasantry, whom she understood and loved, and by whom 
she was loved and understood. By such intercourse she had 
learned to look beneath the surface. In religious matters her 
American common-sense saw through her neighbours — saw 
the good in them as well as the weakness — and she was as 
friendly, not only in social intercourse, but in spiritual things, 


with the worthy village-priest as with T. P. Rossetti,* the 
leader of the Protestant 'Brethren,' whom she called her 
pastor. And Mr. Raskin, who had been driven away from 
Protestantism by the poor Waldensian at Turin, and had 
wandered through many realms of doubt and voyaged through 
strange seas of thought, alone, found harbour at last with the 
disciple of a modem evangelist, the frequenter of the little 
meeting-house of outcast Italian Protestants. 

Ruskin's art-criticism fought its way to the front long ago. 
His economy is now widely accepted. His religious teaching 
has hardly been listened to. That must wait until the nine- 
teenth century — as he put it in 1845 — 'has, I cannot say 
breathed, but steamed its last.' 

One evening before dinner he brought back to the hotel at 
Florence a drawing of a lovely girl lying dead in the sunset ; 
and a little note-book. ' I want you to look over this,' he 
said, in the way, but not quite in the tone, with which the 
usual MS. ' submitted for criticism ' was tossed to a secretary 
to taste. It was ' The True Story of Ida ; written by her 

An appointment to meet Mr. E. R. Robson, who was 
making plans for an intended Sheffield museum, took Mr. 
Ruskin back to Lucca, to discuss Romanesque mouldings and 
marble facings. Mr. Charles Fairfax Murray also met Mr. 
Ruskin at Lucca with drawings commissioned for St. George's 
Guild. But he soon returned to his new friends, and did not 
leave Florence finally until he had purchased the wonderful 
collection of 110 drawings, with beautifully written text, in 

* A cousin of the artist, and in his way no less remarkable a man. 
It is hardly too much to say that he did for evangelical religion in Italy 
what Gabriel Eossetti did for poetical art in England : he showed the 
way to sincerity and simplicity. A short account of hia life is given in 
' D. G. Bossetti, his family letters,' vol. i., p. 34. The circumstances of 
his death are touchingly related by Miss Alexander in ' Christ's Folk in 
the Apennine,' edited by Mr. Buskin. 

t This title was altered by Mr. Buskin to 'The Story of Ida. 
Epitaph on an Etrurian Tomb. By Francesca.' 


which Miss Alexander had enshrined ' The Roadside Songs of 

Returning homewards by the Mont Cenis he stayed a while 
at Talloires, a favourite haunt, extremely content to be among 
romantic scenery, and able to work steadily at a new edition 
of his books in a much cheaper form, of which the first 
volumes were at this time in hand. He had been making 
further studies, also, in history and Alpine geology ; but at 
last the snow drove him away from the mountains. So he 
handed over the geology to his assistant, who compiled ' The 
Limestone Alps of Savoy ^ (supplementary to ' Deucalion ') 
' as he could, not as he would,' while Mr. Ruskin wrote out 
the new ideas suggested by his visit to Citeaux and St. 
Bernard's birthplace. These notes he completed on the 
journey home, and gave as a lecture on ' Cistercian Architec- 
ture ' (London Institution, December 4!th, 1882), in place of 
the previously advertised lecture on crystallography. 

He seemed now to have quite recovered his health, and to 
be ready for re-entry into public life. What was more, 
he had many new things to say. The attacks of brain fever 
had passed over him like passing storms, leaving a clear sky. 

After his retirement from the Oxford Professorship, a sub- 
scription had been opened for a bust by Sir Edgar Boehm, in 
memorial of a University benefactor; and the clay model 
(now in the Sheffield Museum) was placed in the Drawing 
School pending the collection of the necessary £3,20. The 
Oxford University Herald, in its article of June 5th, 1880, 
no doubt expressed the general feeling, or at any rate the 
feeling of the clerical party, then still in the majority, in its 
praise as well as in its criticism of Professor Ruskin. He 
himself claimed to have ' harked back ' to old standards of 
thought, in opposition to contemporary religious and scientiiSc 
enlightenment ; and the reader, who has followed his course 
thus far, must judge his judges from a higher and more 
panoramic standpoint than perhaps was possible to them. 
But after reciting his benefactions to the University with 
becoming appreciation, the Herald continued : — 


' Mr. Ruskin has enjoyed renown and felt the breath of 
high reputation in every possible form, in the highest possible 
perfection, and with the highest desert. He has been famous 
while young, which is proverbially a thing for gods : he has 
been one of the best abused men in England ; he has been 
one of the best praised, and that in all forms — critically and 
passionately, wisely and fanatically — for his merits and for 
his frailties. He has been an acknowledged chief among the 
chiefs of literature; he has been adored by girls and under- 
gi'aduates ; a large circle of friends has partly understood him, 
and still regards him with genuine admiration and aflPection ; 
he has laboured hard for labouring men, and dispersed abroad 
and given to the poor for more than fifty years of his life. 
His name and his work are indissolubly connected with 
Oxford, and it is a great pity he ever left us. He has of 
couise suffered from his own powers, as all men, being human, 
must suffer. The intensity of his own perceptions always 
gave him difficulty in receiving any knowledge from others, 
|and it has taken the form of subjectivity or egotism. He is 
unable to endure authority on any subject, or even to accept 
testimony. His life has been spoiled by his continual attempts 
to substitute a Christianity of his own for the Church of 
England ; he has his own political economy ; he has systema- 
tised an excellent botany of his own, a mineralogy of his own, 
a geology of his own, he has driven himself frantic by con- 
'ducting a magazine of his own; he has separated himself 
from everybody whose mind is not a minute copy of his 

' We know not what might have been the result if, during 
his residence here, Professor Ruskin had had the sympathy or 
genuine interest of men of his own age engaged in the work 
of the University, or if Art had been admitted to be a part 
of that work. But in any case he has done Oxford great 
honour, and made great sacrifices for her, and it is time that 
some acknowledgment should be made to the foremost name 
in modem English literature strictly so called : to an Oxonian 
who has attempted and achieved beyond others • to the 


kindest heart and keenest benevolence in England ; to the 
poet, painter, and interpreter of the Word of God in 
Nature, who is best worthy to succeed Wordsworth and 

It was natural, therefore, that on recovering his health he 
should resume his post. Professor W. B. Richmond, the son 
of his old friend Mr. George Richmond, gracefully retired, 
and the Oxford University Gazette of January 16th, 1883, 
announced the re-election. On March 2nd he wrote that he 
was ' up the Old Man yesterday '; as much as to say that he 
defied catechism, now, about his health ; and a week later he 
gave his first lecture. The St. James's Budget of March 16th 
gave an account of it in these terms : — 

' Mr. Ruskin's first lecture at Oxford attracted so large an 
audience that, half an hour before the time fixed for its 
delivery, a greater number of persons were collected about 
the doors than the lecture-room could hold. Immediately 
after the doors were opened the room was so densely 
packed that some undergraduates found it convenient to 
climb into the windows and on to the cupboards. The 
audience was composed almost equally of undergraduates 
and ladies ; with the exception of the vice-chancellor, heads 
of houses, fellows, and tutors were chiefly conspicuous by 
their absence. 

' It is, no doubt, difficult to know what should be the plan 
of a lecture before such an audience. Mr. Ruskin's, if some- 
what unconnected, was at any rate interesting. He carried 
his audience with him to the end, as well in his lighter as in 
his more impassioned periods. Perhaps the most interesting 
part of his lecture was the beginning, in which he spoke of 
the late Mr. Rossetti, and compared his work with that of 
Holman Hunt.' — I omit an abstract of the lecture, which can 
be read in full in the ' Art of England.' The reporter con- 
tinued : ' He had made some discoveries : two lads and two 
lasses, who, though not artists,* could draw in a way to 

* ' Though not artists ' was a slip on the reporter's part, and contra- 
dicted by the subsequent ' two young Italian artists.' The reference 


please even him. He used to say that, except in a pretty 
graceful way, no woman can draw ; he had now almost come 
to think that no one else can. (This statement the under- 
graduates received with gallant, if undiscriminating, applause.) 
To many of his prejudices, Mr. Ruskin said, in the last few 
years the axe had been laid. He had positively found an 
American, a young lady, whose life and drawing were in 
every way admirable. (Again great and generous applause 
on the part of the undergraduates, stimulated, no doubt, by 
the knowledge that there were then in the room two fair 
Americans, who have lately graced Oxford by their presence.) 
At the end of his lecture Mr. Ruskin committed himself to a 
somewhat perilous statement. He had found two young 
Italian artists in whom the true spirit of old Italian art had 
yet lived. No hand like theirs had been put to paper since 
Lippi and Leonardo. 

'Mr. Ruskin concluded by showing two sketches of his 
own, harmonious in colour, and faithful and tender in touch, 
of Italian architecture, taken from the Duomo of Lucca, to 
show that though he was growing older his hand had not lost 
its steadiness. And so he concluded a lecture which, though 
it seemed to lack some guiding principle, yet carried the 
audience with it throughout, and seemed all too short to 
those who were fortunate enough to hear it.' 

Three more lectures of the course were given in May, and 
each repeated to a second audience. Coming to London, 
Mr. Ruskin gave a private lecture on June 5th to some two 
hundred hearers at the house of Mrs. W. H. Bishop, in Ken- 
sington, on Miss Kate Greenaway and Miss Alexander. ' I 
have never, until to-day,' he said, ' dared to call my friends 
and my neighbours together to rejoice with me over any 
recovered good or rekindled hope. Both in fear and much 
thankfulness I have done so now ; yet, not to tell you of any 
poor little piece of upgathered silver of my own, but to show 

was to Misses Alexander and Greenaway, and Messrs. Boni and 


you the fine gold which has been sti-angely ti-usted to uie, 
and which before was a treasure hid in a mountain field of 
Tuscany.' The Spectator shared his enthusiasm for the pen 
and ink drawings of Miss Alexander's 'Roadside Songs of 
Tuscany,' and concluded a glowing account of the lectuie by 
saying : ' All Professor Riiskin's friends must be glad to see 
how well his Oxford work has agreed with him. He has gift' 
of insight and power of reacliing the best feelings and highest 
hopes of our too indifferent generation which are very rare. 
Agree or disagree witli some of his doctrines as we may, 
he constrains tlie least hopeful of his listenei-s to remember 
that man is not yet bereft of that "bi"eath of life" which 
enables him to live in spiritual places that ai-e not yet 
altogether depopulated by the menacing army of physical 

With much encouragement in his work, he returned to 
Bi-antwood for the summer, and resolved upon another visit 
to Savoy for more geology, and another breath of health- 
gix-ing Alpine air. But he found time only for a short tour 
in Scotland before returning to Oxford to complete the series 
of lectures on Recent English Ai-t. Diu:ing this tei-m he was 
prevailed upon to allow himself to be nominated as a candi- 
date for the Rectoi-ship of the Univei-sity of Glasgow. He 
had been asked to stand in the Conservative interest in 1880, 
and he had been worried into a rather rough reply to the 
Liberal party, when after some correspondence tiej' asked 
him whether he sympathised with Lord Beaconsfield or 
Mr. Gladstone. ' What, in the devil's name,' he exclaimed, 
have you to do with either Mr. D'Israeli or Mr. Gladstone ? 
You ai-e students at the Univei'sity, and have no more busi- 
ness with politics than you have with rat-catching. Had you 
ever read ten words of mine with understanding, you would 
have known that I care no more either for Mr. D'Israeli or 
Mr. Gladstone than for two old bagpipes with the drones 
going by steam, but that I hate all Libei-alism as I do Beelze- 
bub, and that, with Cai-lyle, I stand, we two alone now in 
England, for God and iiie Queen.' After that, though he 


might explain* that he never, under any conditions of provo- 
cation or haste, would have said that he hated Liberalism 
as he did Mammon, or Belial, or Moloch ; that he ' chose the 
milder fiend of Ekron as the true exponent and patron of 
Liberty, the God of Flies,' still the matter-of-fact Glaswegians 
were minded to give the scoffer a wide berth. He was put 
up as an independent candidate in the three-cornered duel ; 
and, as such candidates usually fare, he fared badly. The 
only wonder is that three hundred and nineteen students were 
found to vote for him, instead of siding, in political ortho- 
doxy, with Mr. Fawcett or the Marquis of Bute. 

At last a busy and eventful year came to a close at 
Coniston, with a lecture at the village Institute on his old 
friend Sir Herbert Edwardes (December 22nd), and in 
kindly intercourse with young friends in his mountain home 
and theirs. His interest in the school and the school- 
children was unabated, and he was always planning new 
treats for them, or new helps to their lessons. He had set 
one of the assistants to make a large hollow globe, inside of 
which one could sit and see the stars as luminous points 
pricked through the mimic ' vault of heaven,' painted blue 
and figured with the constellations. By a simple arrangement 
of cogs and rollers the globe revolved, the stars rose and set, 
and the position of any star at any hour of the year could be 
roughly fixed. But the inclement climate of Coniston, and 
the natural roughness of children, soon wrecked the new toy. 

About this time he was anxious to get the village children 
taught music with more accuracy of tune and time than the 
ordinary singing-lessons enforced. He made many experi- 
ments with different simple instruments, and fixed at last 
upon a set of bells, which he wanted to introduce into the 
school. But it was difficult to interfere with the routine 
of studies prescribed by the code ; and Mr. Ruskin's theories 
of education could have been carried out only in a completely 
independent school. Considering, too, that he scorned ' the 
three R's,' a school after his own heart would have been a 
* Epilogue to ' Arrows of the Chace.' 


very diffei-ent place from any that earas the Government 
grant ; mid he very strongly believed that if a village child 
Iccuiit the rudiments of religion and morality, sound rules of 
heaJtli and manners, and a habit of using its eyes and ears in 
the practice of some good handicraft or ai't and simple music, 
and in natui'al philosophy, taught by object lessons — then 
book-leai'ning would either come of itself, or be passed aside 
as unnecessai'y or superfluous. This was his motive in a 
well-known incident which has sometimes puzzled his public. 
Once, when new buildings were going on, the mason wanted 
ail advance of money, which Mr. Ruskin gave him, and then 
held out the paper for him to sign the receipt. ' A gi-eat 
deal of hesitation and embai-rassment ensued, somewhat to 
Mr. Ruskin''s smprise, as. he knows a north-countryman a 
gi"eat deal too well to expect embaiTassment from him. At 
last the man said, in dialect : " Ah mun put ma mark !" He 
could not write. ]\Ir. Ruskin rose at once, stretched out 
both hands to the astonished rustic, with the words : " I am 
proud to know you. Now I understand why you are such an 
entirely good workman." '* 

Unlike Wordsworth, who wiote about the peasantry ^rith- 
out much direct intercourse with them (after his school-days), 
Mr. Ruskin was fond of visiting his neighboui-s in their 
homes and took a very genuine interest in their hves and 
affairs. Many of them who knew little or nothing about his 
life and affaii-s, and were puzzled at first by his manner — so 
different from anything Uiey had known — came at last to 
regard him as a real friend ; to some of them he was as much 
of a hero as he was to the undergraduates at Oxford. At 
first they asked ' What is he ? where does he come from .?' 
with the northern distrust of a stranger. They found out 
that ' he stoodied a deal,' and that accoimted for everything : 
and by-and-by one heard here and there a phi-ase that 
me£uit more than much newspaper exilogy : ' Eh ! he's a 
grand chap, is Maisther Rooskin !' 

* From an ai'ticle by Miss MTakefield in MuiTay's Magazine, Nuv. 


THE STORM-CLOUD. (1884-1888.) 

' Ther saugh I BucUe tempeste aryse 
That every herte myght agryse 
To see hyt peynted on the walk.' 

Chaucer, House of Fame. 

' /^F course I needn't wish you a happy Christmas,'' wrote 
W Professor Euskin (December Sith, 1883), ' Til wish 
you — what it seems to me most of us more need, and 
particularly my poor self — a wise one ! When are you 
coming — in search of wisdom of course — to see me? I ought 
to call first, oughtn't I ? but I don't feel able for long days 
out just now. Could you lock up house for a couple of days 
over there, and come and stay with me over here ? It seems 
to me as if it would be rather nice. The house is — as quiet 
as you please. I'd lock you both out of my study, and you 
might really play hide-and-seek in the passages about the 
nursery all day long. Will you come ?'' 

His great improvement in health had seemed to justify his 
two chief assistants in feeling that their constant attendance 
was no longer necessary to him. One set up house at Coniston, 
the other not far away, both ready to give what help was 
called for ; while the main business-correspondence was under- 
taken by Miss S. D. Anderson. During the Sevems' absence 
Miss Anderson also was away for a holiday ; and the loneli- 
ness, though only temporary, was tedious to him, and not 
good for him. He was not very well : put off the visitors, 
and wrote again : ' I'm better, and hope to be presentable on 


Monday. — I'm sending the cairiage for you. I wonder if the 
model* could come on the top of it? I've got some very 
interesting junctions of schist and granite from Skiddaw, 
and a crystal or two for you to see.' 

Again : ' Mind, you're both due on Monday. Such 
colours ! Such brushes ! Such — everything waiting !' 

The truant, recaptured, was soon set to work with Messrs. 
Newman's extra-luminous water-colours, specially prepared 
for the great diagi'ams of sunsets to illustrate the lecture, 
shortly to be given, on ' The Storm Cloud of the Nineteenth 

It had been a favourite subject of study with the author of 
'Modem Painters.' His journals for fifty years past had 
kept carefiil account of the weather, and effects of cloud. 
He had noticed since 1871 a prevalence of chilly, dark Ime, as 
it would be called in France ; but different in its phenomena 
from anything of his earlier days. The ' plague wind,' so he 
named it — ^tremulous, intermittent, blighting grass and trees 
— blew from no fixed point of the compass, but always 
brought the same dirty sky in place of the healthy rain-cloud 
of normal summers ; and the very thunder-storms seemed to 
be altered by its influence into fold and powerless abortions 
of tempest. Landscape painting, under its lurid light which 
blanched the sun instead of reddening it, seemed to be 
deteriorating by the mere physical impossibility of seeing and 
studying the blue skies of his youth. Nature and Art seemed 
to be suffering together — the times were out of joint ; and 
these were but signs and warnings of a more serious gloom. 
For, feehng as he did the weight of human wrong against 
which it was his mission to prophesy, believing in a Divine 
government of the world in all its literalness, he had the 
courage to appear before a London audience,f like any seer 

* A geological model of the neighbourhood of Coniston, which was 
being made under his direction. 

t London Institution, February 4th, 1884 ; repeated with variations 
and additions a week later. The occupations of his remaining weeks in 
Loudon are told in the following extracts from letters written to friends 
at Brantwood in February 1884: — 


of old, and to tell them that this eclipse of heaven was— if 
not a judgment — at all events a symbol of the moral darkness 
of a nation that had ' blasphemed the name of God deliber- 
ately and openly ; and had done iniquity by proclamation, 
every man doing as much injustice to his brother as it was in 
his power to do.' 

It sounded like a voice crying in the wilderness ; to those 
that sat at ease, a jest ; to many who, without his religious 
feeling and without his ardent emotional temperament, were 
yet working for the same ends of justice to the oppressed, it 
seemed like fanaticism, out of place in these latter days. 
But to him, growing old, and wearying for the Kingdom of 
Heaven which he despaired at last of seeing, there was but 
one reality — the great fact, as he knew it, of God above, and 
man either obeying or withstanding Him. Civihzation, Art, 
Science, and all the pride of human progress, he weighed in 
the balance against the stern law of right and wrong, which 

' I want to know all about the bells, and what the children [at the 
school] are making of them : I bought the compass (seaman's on card), 
and another of needle, for the big school, yesterday; and another on 
card for the infants, and I want to know how the bricks get on. What 
a blessed time it takes to get anything done ! 

' I had rather a day of it yesterday. Into National Gallery by half- 
past eleven — went all over it, noting things for lecture to the Academy 
girls on Saturday. Then a nice half hour in a toy-shop, buying toys 
for the cabman's daughter [Miss Greena way's little model] — ^kaleidoscope, 
magnetic fish, and skipping rope. Out to Holloway — sate for my 
portrait to K. G. — cabman's daughter at four — had tea, muffins, magnetic 
fishing, skipping, and a game at marbles. Back across town to Sanger's 
Amphitheatre over Westminster Bridge. Saw pretty girl ride haute 
icole, and beginning of pantomime, but pantomime too stupid ; so I 
came away at half past ten, walked a mile homewards in the moonlight 

— shower coming on took cab up the hill, and had pretty to boil 

eggs for my supper. 

' I really shall be rather sorry to leave town ; but there's something 
to be said for the country, too. . . . 

'Please find a catalogue of 108 or 110 minerals, written by me, of 
my case at the British Museum. You'll easily guess which it is among 
the MSS. in top drawer of study book-case, west side, farthest from 
fire. I want it here by Monday, for I'm going on Tuesday to have a 


' our fathei-s have told us.' It had always been the burden of 
his teaching ; and amidst all minor interests and occupations, 
the note sounded louder and deeper than before, now that he 
had shaken off the hesitancy of philosophic doubt, and saw 
the space naiTowing between him and ' the earnest portal of 

In the autumn, at Oxford, he took up his parable again 
His lectures on ' The Pleasures of England ' he intended as a 
sketch of the main stream of history fi-om his own religious 
standpoint. It was a noble theme, and one which his breadth 
of outlook and detailed experience would have fitted him to 
handle; but he was already neaiing the limit of his vital 
powers. He had been suffering from depression throughout 
the summer, unrelieved by the energetic work for St. George's 
Museum, whidi in other days might have been a relaxation 
from more serious thought. He had been editing IMiss 
Alexander's ' Roadside Songs of Tuscany,' and recasting 
eai-lier works of his own, incessantly busy ; presuming upon 

long day at the case. They're going to exhibit the two diamonds and 
ruby on loan, the first time they've done so. 

' I had rather a day of it yesterday. Out at half-past ten, to china- 
shop in Grosveuor Place and glass-shop in Palace Boad. Bought 
cofiFee- and tea-cups for Academy girls to-morrow, and a blue bottle for 
myself. Then to Boehm's, and ordered twelve medallions : flattest bas- 
relief size-of-life profiles, chosen British types — six men and six girls. 
Then to Kensington Museum, and made notes for to-morrow's lecture. 
Then to British Museum, and worked for two hours arranging agates. 
Then into city, and heard Mi-. Gale's lecture on British Sports at 
London Institution. Then home to supper, and exhibited crockery 
and read my lettera before going to bed. 

'But Pm rather sleepy this afternoon — however, Pm going to the 
Princess's to see Glaudian (by the actor's request) — hope I shan't fall 

These are only scraps, to show that his prophetic function was not 
all- sackcloth and ashes. He was none the less a prophet for being 
Jonah's opposite. He took a deep interest in the modern Nineveh. 
The next letter ends : ' What is the world coming to ? I wish I could 
stay to see J' 

(Miss Kate Greeiiaway wishes it to be stated that the portrait, men- 
tioned in one of the above letters, was not completed.) 


the health he had enjoyed, and taking no hints nor advice 
from anxious friends, who would have been glad to have seen 
the summer spent in change of scene and holiday-making. 

At Oxford he was watched with concern — ^restless and 
excited, too absorbed in his crusade against the tendencies 
of the modem scientific party, too vehement and unguarded 
in his denunciations of colleagues, too bitter against the new 
order of things which, to his horror, was introducing vivi- 
section in the place of the old-fashioned natural history he 
loved, and speculative criticism instead of 'religious and 
useful learning.' 

He was persuaded to cancel his last three attacks on 
modern life and thought — ' The Pleasures of Truth,' of 
' Sense,' and of ' Nonsense ' — and to substitute readings from 
earlier works, hastily arranged and re- written ; and his friends 
breathed more freely when he left Oxford without another 
serious attack of brain-disease. He ^vrote on December 1st, 
1884, to Miss Beever : ' I gave my fourteenth, and last for 
this year, lecture with vigour and effect, and am safe and 
well (D.G.) after such a spell of work as I never did before.' 
To another correspondent, a few days later : ' Here are two 
lovely little songs for you to put tunes to, and sing to me. 
You'll have both to be ever so good to me, for I've been 
dreadfully bothered and battered here. I've bothered other 
people a little, too, — which is some comfort !' 

But in spite of everything, the vote was passed to establish 
a physiological laboratory at the museum ; to endow vivi- 
section — which to him meant not only cruelty to animals, but 
a complete misunderstanding of the purpose of science, and 
defiance of the moral law. He resigned his Professorship, 
with the sense that all his work had been in vain, that he was 
completely out of touch with the age, and that he had best 
give up the unequal fight. 

In former times when he had found himself beaten in his 
struggles with the world, he had turned to geology for a 
resource and a relief; but geology, too, was part of the field 
of battle now. The memories of his early youth and the 


bright days of his boyhood came back to him as the only 
antidote to the distresses and disappointments of his age, and 
he strove to forget everything in ' bygones ' — ' Praeterita.' 

It was Professor Norton who suggested that he should 
write his own life. He had begun to tell the story, bit by 
bit, in ' Fors.' On the journey of 1882 he made a point of 
revisiting most of the scenes of youthful work and travel, to 
revive his impressions ; but the meeting with Miss Alexander 
gave him new interests, and his return to Oxford, starting 
him, so to say, on a new lease of life, put the autobiography 
into the background. 

Now, at last, he collected the scattered notes, and com- 
pleted his first volume, which brings the account up to the 
time of his coming of age. It is not a connected and syste- 
matic biography ; it omits many points of interest, especially 
the steps of his early successes and mental development ; but 
it is the brightest conceivable picture of himself and his sur- 
roimdings — ' scenes and thoughts perhaps worthy of memory,' 
as the title modestly puts it — told with inimitable ease and 
graphic power. Readers who knew him as a landscape- 
painter in prose were surprised at his insight into human 
character, and his skill in portraiture. Nothing could be 
livelier in anecdote, or happier in humorous expression, — ^the 
more surprising when one knows the difficult circumstances 
under which the book was written. Above all, it reveals the 
pathetic side of the author's life, — his early limitations and 
struggles, — in a way which taught a new sympathy for the 
man whose position had been envied, whose self-reliance and 
gladiatorial energy had been admired and feared, by readers 
who little understood how much tenderness they masked, and 
how many trials they had surmounted. 

We have traced, even more fully than he has told, a life 
which was a battle with adversities from the beginning. 
Over-stimulus ki childhood; intense application to work in 
youth and middle age, under conditions of discouragement, 
both public and private, which would have been fatal to many 
another man ; and this, too, not merely hard work, but work 


of an intense emotional nature, involving — in his view at least 
— ^wide issues of life and death, in which he was another 
Jacob wrestling with the angel in the wilderness, another 
Savonarola imploring reconciliation between God and man. 

Without a life of singular temperance — ^the evidence of 
which is seen in still undimmed clearness of eye and unfailing 
fulness of hair and beard — without unusual moral principle 
and self-command, he would long ago have fallen in the race, 
like other men of genius of his passionate type. He outlived 
'consumptive' tendencies in youth; and the repeated indica- 
tions of over-strain in later life, up to the time of his first 
serious break-down in 1878, had issued in nothing more than 
the depression and fatigue with which most busy men are 
familiar. He had been accustomed to hear himself called 
mad, — the defence of Turner was thought by the dilettanti 
of the time to be possible only to a lunatic ; the author of 
' Stones of Venice,'' we saw, was insane in the eyes of his critic, 
the architect ; it was seriously whispered when he wrote on 
Political Economy that Ruskin was out of his mind ; and so 
on. Every new thing he put forward ' made Quintilian stare 
and gasp,' and soi-disant friends shake their heads, until a 
still newer nine-days'- wonder appeared from his pen : the fact 
being that all along he was simply ahead of his public, one of 
the very few men of broad outlbok, of panoramic genius (to 
quote Carlyle on Goethe) in a hive of clever critics and myopic 

But the break-down of 1878, so difficult to explain to his 
public, made it appear that the common reproach might after 
all be coming true. The recurrence of a similar illness in 
1881 and 1882 made it still more to be feared. It seemed as 
though his life's work was to be invalidated by his age's failure ; 
it seemed that the stale, shallow reproach might only too 
easily be justifiable. 

We cannot but ask. How far was there ground for this fear.'' 
This is hardly the place to discuss the general question of the 
connection of insanity with genius. That some obscure rela- 
tion of the sort does exist, cannot be denied ; at any rate, 


that the busy brain of a great man is more liable than others 
to fail, partially or wholly, finally or transiently. The busi- 
ness of the public — and more especially of the critics who 
assume to lead the public's judgment — is to distinguish 
between the normal career of genius and its aberrations. The 
dividing line is sometimes easy to draw. Nobody doubts the 
value of Kant's or Wordsworth's work, although there was a 
gloom over their later days. At other times the line is more 
difficult to lay down, as in the case of Turner. In some of 
his most brilliant work one feels the presence of morbid 
conditions long before they can be diagnosed with cer- 

But in the life of a thinker and leader of men, like Ruskin, 
the question becomes more than a matter of curiosity. We 
all admit him to be sincere ; but is he sound .'' Or, if infalli- 
bility be put out of the question, is he more — or less — logical, 
rational, coherent in mental development, than other men 
to whom we listen, and in whom we trust for opinion and 
advice .? 

To this there is only one answer. The more I study his 
life the more I see that his work is not irresponsible and 
eccentric. The careful student should be able to trace his 
genius, down to the end, in continuous and rational progres- 
sion. Passing over defined intervals of mental disease, and 
allowing for vehemence of expression — partly characteristic, 
partly the temporary efiect of the penwrnibra of the storm- 
cloud — his mental development, I make bold to say, is normal 
and logical throughout his life. And I beheve that when his 
work can be looked back upon as a whole, with proper under- 
standing of its environment and with full knowledge of its 
circumstances, the common reproach of insanity made against 
each new manifestation of his mind will then be scorned as 
an exploded prejudice. 

But these attacks of mental disease, which at his recall to 
Oxford seemed to have been safely distanced, after his resig- 
nation began again at more and more frequent intervals. 
Crash after crash of tempest fell upon him — clearing away 


for a while only to return with fiercer fury, until they left 
him beaten down and helpless at last, to learn that he must 
accept the lesson and bow before the storm. Like another 
prophet who had been very jealous for the Lord God of 
Hosts, he was to feel tempest and earthquake and fire pass 
over him, before hearing the still small voice that bade him 
once more take courage, and live in quietness and in con- 
fidence, for the sake of those whom he had forgotten, when 
he cried, ' I, even I only, am left.' 

From one who has been out in the storm the reader will 
not expect a cool recital of its effects. The delirium of brain- 
fever brings strange things to pass ; and, no doubt, afforded 
ground for the painful gossip, of which there has been more 
than enough, — much of it absurdly untrue, the romancing of 
ingenious newspaper-correspondents ; some of it, the lie that 
is half a truth. For in these times there were not wanting 
parasites such as always prey upon creatures in disease, as well 
as weak admirers who misunderstood their hero's natural 
character, and entirely failed to grasp his situation. 

Let such troubles of the past be forgotten : all that I now 
remember of many a weary night and day is the vision of a 
great soul in torment, and through purgatorial fires the in- 
effable tenderness of the real man emerging, with his passion- 
ate appeal to justice and baffled desire for truth. To those 
who could not follow the wanderings of the wearied brain it 
was nothing but a horrible or a grotesque nightmare. Some, 
in those trials, learnt as they could not otherwise have learnt 
to know him, and to love him as never before. 

There were many periods of health, or comparative health, 
even in those years. While convalescent from the illness of 
1885 he continued ' Prasterita ' and ' Dilecta,' the series of 
notes and letters illustrating his life. In connection with early 
reminiscences, he amused himself by reproducing his favourite 
old nursery book, ' Dame Wiggins of Lee.' He edited the 
works of one or two friends, wrote occasionally to newspapers 
— notably on books and reading, to the Pall Mall Gazette, in 
the ' Symposium ' on the best hundred books. He continued 


his arrangements for the Museum, and held an exhibition 
(June 1886) of the drawings made under his direction for the 

He was already drifting into another illness when he sent 
the famous reply to an appeal for help to pay off the debt on 
a chapel at Richmond. The letter is often misquoted for the 
sake of raising a laugh, so that it is not out of place to reprint 
it as a specimen of the more vehement expressions of this 
period. The reader of his life must surely see, through the 
violence of the wording, a perfectly consistent and reasonable 
expression of Mr. Ruskin's views : — 

'Bkantwood, Coniston, 
' Lancashire, 

'May nth, 1886. 

' I am scornfully amused at your appeal to me, of all 
people in the world the precisely least likely to give you a 
farthing ! My first word to all men and boys who care to 
hear me is " Don't get into debt. Starve and go to heaven — 
but don't borrow. Try first begging, — I don't mind, if it's 
really needful, stealing ! But don't buy things you can't pay 
for !" 

' And of all manner of debtors, pious people building 
churches they can't pay for are the most detestable nonsense 
to me. Can't you preach and pray behind the hedges — or in 
a sandpit — or a coal-hole — first ? 

' And of all manner of churches thus idiotically built, iron 
churches are the damnablest to me. 

* The Academy of June 12, 1886, noticing Mr. Albert Goodwin's 
drawings at the Fine Art Society, continues : — 

' In the same room are a series of drawings made for St. George's 
Guild, under the direction of Mr. Buskin — ^mostly studies of pictures 
and architecture in Italy. The artists are Sig. Alessandri and Messrs. 
Frank Eandall, Fairfax Murray, Thomas Booke, and W. G. CoUing- 
wood. They are, without exception, beautiful examples of thorough 
workmanship and true colour. Mr. Eooke's " Cottages at St. Martins, 
etc.," reminds us of the days of the Pre-Eaphaelites. Mr. Bobson'a 
design for the proposed museum at Bewdley is also shown.' 


'And of all the sects of believers in any ruling spirit — 
Hindoos, Turks, Feather Idolaters, and Mumbo Jumbo, Log 
and Fire worshippers, who want churches, your modern English 
Evangelical sect is the most absurd, and entirely objectionable 
and unendurable to me ! All which they might very easily 
have found out from my books — any other sort of sect would ! 
— before bothering me to write it to them. 

' Ever, neverjbheless, and in all this saying, your faithful 

'John Ruskin.' 

The recipient of the letter promptly sold it* Only three 
days later, Mr. Ruskin was writing one of the most striking 
passages in ' Prasterita' (vol. ii., chap. 5.) — ^indeed, one of the 
daintiest landscape pieces in all his works, describing the blue 
Rhone as it flows under the bridges of Geneva. 

This energetic letter-writing made people stare ; but a more 
serious result of these periods between strength and helpless- 
ness was the tendency to misunderstanding with old friends. 
Mr. Ruskin had spoiled many of them, if I may say so, by too 
uniform forbearance and unselfishness : and now that he was 
not always strong enough to be patient, difficulties ensued 
which they had not always the tact to avert. ' The moment 
I have to scold people they say Fm crazy,' he said, piteously, 
one day. And so, one hardly knows how, he found himself 
at strife on all sides. Before he was fully recovered from the 
attack of 1886 there were troubles about the Oxford drawing 
school ; and he withdrew most of the pictures he had there on 
loan. How little animosity he really felt against Oxford is 
shown from the fact that early in the next year (February 
1887) he was planning with his cousin, Mr. Wm. Richardson, 
to give d&5000 to the drawing school, as a joint gift in 
memory of their two mothers. Mr. RichaTdson's death, and 
Mr. Ruskin's want of means, — ^for he had already spent all his 
capital, — ^put an end to the scheme. But the remaining 

* I was informed that this letter had fetched £lO. Mr. J. H. School- 
ing tells me that the recipient got onlj' a guinea for it. 


loans, including important and valuable drawings by himself, 
he did not withdraw, and it is to be hoped they may stay 
there to show not only the artist's hand but the friendly 
heai't of the founder and benefactor. 

In April 1887 came the news of Laurence HiUiard's death 
in the jEgean, with a shock that intensified the tendency to 
another recurrence of illness. For months the situation caused 
great anxiety. In August he posted with Mi-s. A. Severn 
towai"ds the south, and took up his quarters at Folkestone, 
moving soon after to Sandgate, where he remained, with short 
visits to town, until the following summer — better, or worse, 
fix)m week to week — sometimes writing a little for ' Praeterita,'' 
or preparing material for the continuation of unfinished 
books ; but bringing on his malady with each new effort. In 
June 1888 he went with Mr. Arthur Severn to Abbeville, and 
made his headquarters for nearly a month at the Tete de 
Boeuf. Here he was arrested for sketching the fortifications, 
and examined at the police station, much to his amusement. 
At Abbeville, too, he met Mr. Detmar Blow, a young archi- 
tect, whom he asked to accompany him to Italy. They 
stayed awhile at Paris, — di'ove, as in 1882, over the Jura, and 
up to Chamouni, where Mr. Ruskin wrote the epilogue to the 
reprint of ' Modem Painters ' ; then, by Martigny and the 
Simplon, they went to visit Mrs. and Miss Alexander at 
Bassano ; and thence to Venice. They returned by the 
St. Gotthard, reaching Heme Hill early in December. 

But this journey did not, as it had been hoped, put him in 
possession of his strength like the journey of 1882. Then, he 
had returned to public life mth new vigoiu: ; now, his best 
hours were hours of feebleness and depression ; and he came 
home to Brantwood in the last days of the year, wearied to 
death, to wait for the end. 



DATUR HORA QUIETI. (1889-1899.) 

' But it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.' — 
Zech. xiv. 7. 

IN the summer of 1889, at Seascale, on the Cumberland 
coast, Mr. Ruskin was still busy upon ' Prasterita.' He 
had his task planned out to the finish: in nine more 
chapters he meant to conclude his third volume with a review 
of the leading memories of his life, down to the year 1875, 
when the story was to close. Passages here and there Avere 
written, material collected from old letters and journals, and 
the contents and titles of the chapters arranged ; but the 
intervals of strength had become fewer and shorter, and at 
last, in spite of all his courage and energy, he was brought 
face to face with the fact that his powers were ebbing away, 
and that head and hand would do their work no more. 

He could not finish ' Praeterita ' ; but he could not leave 
it without record of one companionship of his life, which was, 
it seemed, all that was left to him of the old times and the 
old folks at home. And so, setting aside the plans he had 
made, he devoted the last chapter, as his forebodings told him 
it must be, to his cousin, Mrs. Arthiu: Severn, and wrote the 
story of ' Joanna's Care.' 

In his bedroom at Seascale, morning after morning, he 
still worked, or tried to work, as he had been used to do on 
journeys farther afield in brighter days. But now he seemed 
lost among the papers scattered on his table ; he could not 
fix his mind upon them, and turned from one subject to 


another in despair ; and yet patient, and kindly to those with 
him whose help he could no longer use, and who dared not 
show — though he could not but guess — how heeirt-breaking 
it was. 

They put the best face upon it, of course : drove in the 
afternoons about the country — to Muncaster Castle, to Calder 
Abbey, where he tried to sketch once more ; and when the 
proofs of ' Joanna's Care ' were finally revised, to Wastwater. 
But travelling now was no longer restorative. 

It added not a little to the misfortunes of the time that 
two of his best friends in the outside world were disputing 
over a third. By nobody more than by Mr. Ruskin was 
Carlyle's reputation valued, and yet he acknowledged that 
Mr. Froude was but telling the truth in the revelations which 
so surprised the public ; and much as he admired Mr. Norton, 
he deprecated the attack on Carlyle's literary executor, whose 
motiveshe understood and approved. 

In August, after his return to Coniston, the storm-cloud 
came down upon him once more. It was only in the summer 
of 1890 that he was able to get about. But firmly con- 
vinced that his one chance lay in absolute rest and quiet, he 
has since wisely refused any sort of exertion, and has been re- 
warded by a steady improvement in health and strength. 

In the meantime he was obliged to hand over to others 
such parts of his work as others could do. The St. 
Greorge's Guild still continued in existence, though it natur- 
ally lost much of its interest, and the whole of its distinctive 
mission, when he ceased to be able to direct it on the lines 
marked out in 'Fors.' Contributions from the friends and 
companions of the Guild have, at a rough calculation from 
published accounts, nearly equalled the original i&TOOO which 
he gave to start the fund. The agricultiu-al schemes have 
been left in abeyance, but the educational side, less important 
though more attainable, has prospered. Very many schools 
and colleges have benefited by its gifts and loans, but the 
Museum at Sheffield is looked upon as its chief outward and 
visible sign. 


It had quite outgrown its cottage at Walkley, never in- 
tended for more than temporary premises ; and for ten years 
there had been talk of new buildings, at first on the spot, 
then on the Guild's ground at Bewdley, where, at one time, 
Mr. Ruskin planned a fairy palace in the woods, with 
cloistered hostelries for the wandering student. Such schemes 
were stopped less by his illness than by want of means. 
More careful of others' property than his own, he kept half 
the fund, and bought land and consols as a permanent endow- 
ment. The rest he spent on pictures, books, casts, coins, and 
minerals. If sometimes he bought objects that seemed ex- 
pensive, or paid liberally for work, it must be remembered 
that the rule of the Museum was to have only the best of 
everything, and the rule of the Guild was that the labourer 
is worthy of his hire. There was no waste in useless salaries 
or accumulated specimens. Mr. Ruskin's judgment as buyer 
was invaluable, and freely given; after all, what he spent 
was his own gift, to which he added in kind as time went on. 
So there was no money for building. 

Sheffield, moreover, did not wish to lose the Museum, and 
offered to house it if the Guild would present it to the town. 
That was, of course, out of the question. But a new offer to 
take over the collection on loan, the Guild paying a curator, 
was another matter, and was thankfully accepted. The Cor- 
poration fulfilled their share of the bargain with generosity. 
An admirable site was assigned at Meersbrook Park, in a fine 
old hall surrounded with trees, and overlooking a broad view 
of the town and country. On April 15th, 1890, the Museum 
was opened by the Earl of Carlisle, in presence of the Cor- 
poration, the Trustees of the Guild, and a large assembly of 
Mr. Ruskin's friends and Sheffield townspeople. Since then 
the attendance of visitors and students shows that the col- 
lection is appreciated by the public ; and it is to be hoped 
that though nominally a loan it will remain there in per- 
petuity, and that it will be maintained and used with due 
regard to the intentions of the founder. 

Many other plans had to be modified, as Mr. Ruskin found 


himself less able to work, and was obliged to hand ovei his 
business to others. With his early books he had been dis- 
satisfied, as expressing immature views. 'The Stones of 
Venice ' had been recast into two small volumes, and ' St. 
Mark's Rest ' written in the attempt to supplement and cor- 
rect it. But the original book was obviously in demand, and 
a new edition was brought out in 1886. 

' Modern Painters ' had been also on the condemned list. 
The aggressive Protestantism and the geological theories in- 
volved in his descriptions of mountains he condemned as 
errors ; moreover, at the time of the last edition published by 
Messrs. Smith & Elder (1873), he had been told that the 
plates, which he considered a very important part of the 
work, would not stand another impression; and so he de- 
stroyed nine of them, in order that no subsequent edition 
might be brought out in the original form. He reprinted 
vol. ii. in a cheap edition, and began to recast the rest, with 
annotations and additions, as 'In Montibus Sanctis,' and 
' Coeli Enarrant '; while Miss S. Beever's selections (' Frondes 
Agrestes') found a ready sale. But this did not satisfy the 
public, and there was a continual cry for a reprint, to which, 
at last, he yielded. Early in 1889 the ' Complete Edition ' 
appeared ; with the cancelled plates reproduced. Sets of 
the original volumes had reached the price of ,£50, and 
their owners not unnaturally felt aggrieved at the deprecia- 
tion of their property. But the new edition was not an 
exact reproduction of the old. No connoisseur would accept 
photogravure reproductions and modern copies as equivalent 
in value to autograph etchings and old masterpieces of en- 
graving, and the edition of ' 1888 ' (as it is dated), however 
useful to the general reader, cannot replace the original on 
the shelves of the intelligent book-lover. Indeed, in spite of 
a rapid sale of two large issues, which shows the reality of the 
demand for the reprint, the original volumes maintain a con- 
siderable value in the market. 

While working at ' Praeterita,' Mr. Ruskin had looked up 
those old writings in verse with which he had made his first 


reputation in his youth. He had been often pressed to 
reprint his volume of Poems ; and with a natural interest in 
his ' first-born,' and in everything that recalled early days, he 
acceded to the demand — the more readily that American 
' pirated ' editions were already in the field, and verses falsely 
attributed to him were in circulation, both in print and in 
MS. Though he had never set great store by his verse- 
writing, he had never wished to destroy the evidences of his 
early industry. In 1849 he printed a thin quarto containing 
the ' Scythian Guest,'* with a preface in which he said : 
' However unwilling I might be to stand for public judgment 
as a poet by bringing together those uncollected productions, 
I cannot pretend to think them so wholly bad that no sample 
should be rescued and preserved.' Next year was printed a 
tolerably full collection. In ' The Queen of the Air ' he 
gave a specimen of his earliest attempts, and in ' Praeterita ' 
quoted others, and alluded to many more. Now at last he 
handed over the carefully preserved MSS. to one of his 
assistants, and the Poems of John Ruskin appeared in 1891. 
The volumes form an authentic record of the development of 
a remarkable mind. 'Praeterita' tells what the old man 
thought of his boyhood; the Poems, without the self-con- 
sciousness of most diary-writers, reveal him as he really was. 
Taken in this light, they are unique in literary history ; and 
the plates, in photogravure facsimile of his drawings, illus- 
trate the progi'ess of his artistic powers. 

These volumes were the first published by Mr. Ruskin after 
the passing of the American Copyright Act. He had always 
felt it a grievance that the enormous popularity of his works 
in America meant an enormous piracy. Towards the end of 
the ' Fifties,' Mr. Wiley of New York had begun to print 
cheap Ruskins; not, indeed, illegally, but without proper 
acknowledgment to the author, and without any reference 
to the author's wishes as to form and style of production. 
An artist and writer on art, insisting on delicacy and refine- 

* Now excessively rare. I owe the notice to the kindness of Mr, 
T. J. Wise. 


ment as the first necessity of draughtsmanship, and himself 
sparing no trouble or expense in the illustrations of his own 
works, was naturally dissatisfied with the wretched ' Arto- 
types' with which the American editions caricatured his 
beautiful plates. Not only that, but it was a common 
practice to smuggle these editions, recommended by their 
cheapness, into other countries. Mr. Wiley sent, on an 
average, five hundred sets of ' Modern Painters ' to Europe 
every year, the greater number to England. His example 
was followed by other American publishers, so that in New 
York alone there came to be half a dozen houses advertising 
Ruskin's works, and many more throughout the cities of the 
States. Mr. Wiley, the first in the field, proposed to pay up 
a royalty upon all the copies he had sold if Mr. Ruskin would 
recognise him as accredited publisher in America. The offer 
of so large a sum would have been tempting, had it not 
meant that Mr. Ruskin must condone what he had for years 
denounced, and sanction what he strongly disapproved. The 
case would have been different if proposals had been made to 
reproduce his books in his own style, under competent super- 
vision. This was done in 1890, when arrangements were 
made with Messrs. Charles E. Merrill & Co., of New York, 
to bring out the ' Brantwood ' edition of Ruskin, under the 
editorship of Professor C. E. Norton. 

Though the sale of Mr. Ruskin's books in America has 
never, until so recently, brought him any profit, his own 
business in England, started in 1871 with the monthly 
pamphlet of ' Fors,' and in 1872 with the volume of ' Sesame 
and Lilies,' has singularly prospered. Mr. George Allen, 
who, while building up an independent connection, still 
remains the sole publisher of Mr. Ruskin's works, says that 
the ventm-e was successful from its earliest years. It was 
found that the booksellers were not indispensable, and that 
business could be done through the post as well as over 
the counter. In spite of occasional difficulties, such as the 
bringing out of works in parts, appearing irregularly or 
stopping outright at the author's illnesses, there has been 


a steady increase of profit, rising of late years (according to 
Mr. Allen) to an average of dg^OOO. 

Fortunate it was for Mr. Ruskin that his bold attempt 
succeeded. The ^"200,000 he inherited from his parents 
had gone, — chiefly in gifts and in attempts to do good. 
The interest he used to spend on himself; the capital he 
gave away until it totally disappeared, except what is repre- 
sented by the house he lived in and its contents. The sale 
of his books was his only income, and a great part of that went 
to pensioners to whom in the days of his wealth he pledged 
himself, to relatives and friends, discharged servants, in- 
stitutions in which he took an interest at one time or other. 
But he had sufficient for his wants, and no need to fear 
poverty in his old age. 

Though he no longer read proofs nor wrote business 
letters, he took an interest in all that went on. His desire, 
often expressed, was to see his works completely accessible to 
the public, and as cheap as possible consistent with good 
form. He deputed two of his nearest friends to manage 
the details of business, without giving him unnecessary 
trouble ; but his readers may be assured that those in charge 
were acting under his eye, and sincerely endeavouring to con- 
sult his wishes and interests, which constant intercourse gave 
them every opportunity of understanding. The 'Poems,' 
' Poetry of Architecture,' ' Studies in Both Arts,' ' Ruskin 
Reader,' ' Selections,' ' Lectures on Landscape,' and cheap re- 
prints of nearly all his works, were published by his permission 
and for his profit. 'Modem Painters' and 'Stones of Venice,' 
on account of their delicate illustrations, which cannot easily 
be reproduced, for a long time defied all attempts to cheapen 
them. But readers who still cry out for ' cheap Ruskin ' 
should consult Mr. Allen's list. 

In this quiet retreat at Brantwood the echoes of the outer 
world did not sound very loudly. Mr. Ruskin had been too 
highly praised and too roundly abused, during fifty years 
of public life, to care what magazine critics and journalists 
said of him. Other men of his standing could solace 


themselves, if it be solace, in the consciousness that a gi'ateful 
country has recognised theii* talents or their semces. But 
civic and academic honours were not likely to be showered 
on a man who had spent his life in strenuous opposition to 
academicism in art and lettei-s, and in vigorous attacks upon 
both political parties, and upon the established order of 

And yet Oxford and Cambridge awarded him the highest 
honours in their gift.* In 1873 the Royal Society of 
Painters in Watercolom-s voted him honorary member, a 
recognition which gave him great pleasure at the time. 
At different dates he was elected to various societies — 
Geological, Zoological, Ai-chitectural, Horticultural, His- 
toricid. Anthropological, Metaphysical ; and to the Athenaeum 
and Alpine Clubs. But he did not seek distinctions, and 
he even declmed them, as in the case of the medal of the 
Royal Institute of British Ai'chitects. Many years before, in 
his youth, he received the diploma of a great Italian academy. 
He was very busy at the moment, travelling, and not sure of 
his ItaJian or the proper form of reply, — so he told me once, — 
and he put off his acknowledgment untU he forgot all about 
it. Long after, he recollected the discourtesy with shame ; 
but it was too late, then, to repair the slip, and he was glad 
to hear no more of the onerous compliment. He appears 
however in 1877 as Hon. Associate of the Academy of 

His works have not been popularised abroad by transla- 
tions, to which he was opposed, feeling not only that his style 
would be difficult to render, but that the audiences they 
would address could hardly be open to the appeal he makes 
so distinctly to the mind and associations of an English- 
speaking race. But his name is well enough known in Italy, 
and better kno^vn in France. In 1864 M. Joseph Milsand, 

* The Oxford Honorary D.C.L., offered in 1879, was conferred upon 
him Nov. 7, 1893, by a resolution of Convocation ' to dispense with his 
attendance in the House for admission to the degree with the customary 
formalities, any usage or precedent notwithstanding.' 


Browning's friend, in his ' Esthetique Anglaise,' more recently 
M. Ernest Chesneau in his ' i^cole Anglaise,'* M. Marcel 
Fouquier, M. Robert de la Sizeranne in a series of brilliant 
papers in the Revue des Deux Mondes, and other French 
writers, have introduced him to their countrymen, so efficiently 
tMt ' le Ruskinisme ' has become quite the Paris fashion. 
The diplomas of honorary membership received in 1892 from 
the Royal Academies of Antwerp and Brussels show that he 
is not unknown in Belgium, and he was elected an honorary 
member of the American Academy. 

A more striking form of distinction than empty titles is 
the fact that Mr. Ruskin was the first writer whose con- 
temporaries, during his lifetime, formed societies to study his 
work. The first Ruskin Society was founded in 1879 at 
Manchester, and was followed by the Societies of London, 
Glasgow and Liverpool, still in working. In 1887 the Ruskin 
Reading Guild was formed in Scotland, with many local 
branches in England and Ireland, and a journal, subsequently 
re-named Igdrasil, to promote study of literary and social 
subjects in Ruskin, and in writers like Carlyle and Tolstoi' 
taking a standpoint similar to his. In 1896, Ruskin Societies 
were formed at Birmingham and in the Isle of Man. Many 
classes and clubs for the study of Ruskin are also in operation 
throughout America. 

A number of other societies for philanthropic purposes — 
such as the Social Unions in some large cities — trace their 
motive power chiefly to Ruskin, through many able thinkers 
and workers who are making themselves a place in the front 
rank in modem life. For though he looked fondly back to old 
times for his personal ideals, Ruskin's teaching was essentially 
modern. Its atmosphere was that of the time coming; its 
ideas were those that commend themselves to the vanguard of 
progress, — not the ' progress ' of old-fashioned Liberalism, but 
of an age which has been bom since Ruskin's voice began to 

* The English translation of which was edited by Mr. Buskin. He 
commissioned M. Chesneau to write a life of Turner, which, after the 
expenditure of £250, was abandoned. 


fail, and is now beginning to realize that he was its true 
father and pioneer. 

A curious indication of this is the fact that in the State of 
Tennessee there is a town, built and owned by Socialists, who 
are engaged in the printing and publication, on the most 
extensive scale, of literature devoted to the cause they re- 
present. They proposed in 1896 to offer to ' a reading con- 
stituency of 100,000 per week a series of special articles by 
thoroughly representative Socialists of all nations, under the 
general title of " Ruskin Labor Letters to American Work- 
ing-men.'" ' Their organization calls itself ' the Ruskin Co- 
operative Association,' and the name they have chosen for 
their town is ' Ruskin.' 

Not long since, talking over his ' failures,' Mr. Ruskin said 
it was some comfort to him that he was not without successors, 
and he instanced Count Leo Tolsto'i as one who was, in a way, 
carrying out the work he had hoped to do. About the same 
time, in the Cornhill Magazine, in which ' Unto this Last ' 
appeared over thirty years before, a contributor reported a 
talk with the great Russian : — ' Ruskin he thought one of the 
greatest men of the age ; and it pained him to notice that 
English people generally were of a different opinion. But 
" no man is a prophet in his own country," and the greatest 
men are seldom recognised in their own times for the very 
reason that they are so much in advance of the age. Their 
contemporaries are unable to understand them.' 

So Tolstoi speaks ; so all the best men of his time have 
spoken about Ruskin ; and after theirs, what testimony can 

be added .^ 


It is long since we travelled there together and shared the 
diversions of Brantwood. Shall we go once more to the 
place as it is to-day .? Or — ' that I may not piece pure truth 
with fancy ' — shall I set down simply some notes of a visit, 
written at the time 1 

It is New-year's-eve of 1897 ; midwinter in the north, — 
and yet not so far north but that our winters are mostly 


open and mild, and even their frosts are kindly. The Gulf 
Stream warms our coast, and the dales lie low and sheltered 
when snow shines keen on Helvellyn top and on the Coniston 
Old Man. You may find colder weather in Italy, for the 
time of year, and drearier scenes at Venice and Como. Our 
fields are richly green ; the waysides lovely with ivy-wreaths, 
and fringed polypody, and mosses rooted in the rain-washed 
rock. There is no landscape more finished in its detail. And 
we have wealth of evergreen trees among the brown copse ; 
this year, too, scarlet clouds of hips and haws blui-ring the 
woods with more than autumnal colour. 

The study-windows at Brantwood yesterday looked out 
upon a spread of grey lake, overflowing the low fields by 
Coniston hall, and ridged into foam under a strong south 
wind. Above the gleaming wet roofs of the distant village 
ranges of crag, russet with fern, rose abruptly into the soft 
grey ceiling of cloud, and along their precipices there stood 
white waterfalls, forked and zigzagged like fixed lightnings. 

Beside the window — you have seen him, if you know one 
portrait, compared with which the rest are almost caricatures. 
Many excellent attempts of good photographers have posed 
him in unwonted attitudes, or dragged him into groups, or 
failed, by unskilful lighting, to catch the modelling of the 
head. This one is Mr. Ruskin himself, as he sits in his 
accustomed seat of now-a-days. It used to be on the opposite 
side of the little octagon table in the bay window, where he 
always sat for light to write by, and bade his visitor take the 
armchair beside the fire, turning out the cat from her comfort- 
able place. But the days of his writing are over, and the 
time has come for him to rest in the shadowy comer among 
the bookshelves. 

This photograph by Mr. Hollyer* is ' a thing to wonder 
on,' almost reaching the imaginative portraiture of a Watts 
or a Tintoret in its seizure of essential characteristics — the 
face monumental in extremes of strength and refinement, 

* Eeproduced, but inadequately, in The Commonwealth for July, 


wandering white beard and ample wavy hair ; the repose of 
delicate folded hands, and the twilight of the curtained nook, 
with just the gleaming lights that Rembrandt or Velasquez 
would have noted and struck in from a loaded brush. But it 
is all the simple truth, as far as a photograph can show it. 

Yesterday there was more to see than any photograph can 
show ; for the weak wnter twilight was not the only light, 
and the grey of the raincloud not the only colour in the 
room. Warm glow from the hearth, and the radiance of 
flowers in rich masses — anemones, cyclamen, primulas, 
grouped there by loving hands, on the table, round the 
window-sill, on every available standing-spot, made the place 
like a shrine on a feast-day. 

He looked up, and half rose, with outstretched hand, and 
the smile of old acquaintance ; pushing back a heap of books 
and letters at his elbow : — Christmas letters from friends all 
round the world, old favoiuite volumes of Carlyle, a Words- 
worth in its latest, daintiest dress, children's stories of the 
season, and on the top of the heap, with gold spectacles 
between its leaves, a booklet of religious thought. With 
such companions one travels gladly, approaching ' the earnest 
portals of eternity.'' 

You would think him older than his years ; but so he must 
always have seemed. You remember that he was already a 
writer, not without success, on the verge of celebrity, sixty 
years ago. K ' actions are epochs,' how many an age has 
passed over him. And the years of later trial have left their 
mark in the ageing of the bowed frame and quiet voice. But 
in this repose there is more restraint than feebleness ; now 
and again a word flashing waywardly out, or a gesture im- 
pulsive as ever, betrays the fund of latent strength, and health 
in some measm'e regained. 

He had been out for a walk in the morning, he said, — 
' But the wind was too much for me ; and so I went into the 
garden, and took refuge in the greenhouse.' The afternoon 
was not tempting enough for the usual tramp along the lake- 
side or through the wood. So he sat talking over the doings 


of the season, and such news as the last few days had brought. 
There was a debate in the French Chamber of Leputies, in 
which M. Aynard, writer on art and representative of Lyons, 
had ended a brilliant speech on art-education with a reference 
to B-uskin, followed by ' vifs applaudissements.' There were 
messages from societies, and readers in America and else- 
where. There was the Peterborough ' restoration ' affair, for 
which he still has language at command, — it was only the 
other day that he dictated a letter to the Times about it, — 
Oh Ruskinian inconsistency ! — ^within an hour or so after 
declining personal answers to a budget of pressing correspon- 
dence, on the plea of needful repose. 

TTiere are still many who fail to realize this need, and con- 
tinue to write to him as to a man in active life. After all 
these years there come frequent letters, demanding his advice, 
opinion, sympathy, money, influence, autogiaph, and so forth. 
In a word it may be said that such appeals are useless. To 
his personal friends Mr. Raskin is always accessible, as they 
know. From his readers he is glad to get the kindly expression 
of their feeling for him. But for the rest, he has stated his 
thoughts and given his advice fully in print ; any influence he 
can use or gifts in his keeping have been, among so wide an 
acquaintance, long bespoken ; he declines to write any more 
autographs — though he takes pen in hand on occasion. 'I 
think I have done enough of that sort of thing,' he says. ' I 
feel that if I answer one, I may have to answer hundreds.' 
And all true friends must surely respect this feeling. 

Last summer, on the steamboat, there was a fine old gentle- 
man, who when we came over against Brantwood took off his 
hat and stood with his grey hair to the wind until the place 
was out of sight. That was a truer tribute than waylaying 
a celebrity on his private walks, and besieging his windows 
with the mockery of hero-worship. 

The talk at last fell on more homely topics, for Mr. Ruskin 
has always a kindly interest in his neighbours of the village. 
Lately, to forward the building of a Recreation-room, library 
and museum, to which he had already given a collection of 


minerals, he sent a number of little sketches, looked out and 
signed for the purpose ; which found a ready sale and — this 
is not unworthy of note — purchasers, for the most part, among 
Coniston folk themselves. For he dwells among his own 
people. I doubt if there is a child in the dale but regards 
him with some mystery of reverence such as their forefathers 
gave to the gentle hermit and tutelary saint of the country- 

What more is there to say ? He dwells among his own 
people. Those who live with him are his by blood and by adop- 
tion. He sees their children growing up around him in the 
house that he has built for them : and lifting his eyes to 
the hills — behold — beyond — shall he not see of the travail of 
his soul ? 

For now the storm-cloud has drifted away, and there is 
light in the west, a mellow light of evening time, such as 
Turner painted in his pensive Epilogue. 'Datur Hora 
Quieti ': there is more work to do, but not to-day. The 
plough stands in the furrow ; and the labourer passes peace- 
fully from his toil, homewards. 


, . . ' We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it.' . . . 

The Seven Seas. 

SO far I wrote while he was still with us, and seemed, for 
all that we could forecast, likely to enjoy many a year 
of the same repose. His mother, we used to say, lived to 
her ninetieth year ; and in spite of all he had come through 
he showed many signs of reserve strength. The absolute 
quiet and ease of circumstances, the watchful attendance of 
Mrs. Severn and of his faithful valet Baxter, husbanded the 
resources of life ; and he took kindly to the inaction which 
others feared for him. With his daily walk, his books and 
papers, and the small circle of intimates — for visitors were 
rare — ^he declared himself perfectly happy, and said, smiling, 
that he had earned a holiday. 

His eightieth birthday was the signal for an outburst of 
congratulations almost greater than even admirers had ex- 
pected. The post came late and loaded with flowers and 
letters, and all day long telegrams arrived from all parts of 
the world, until they lay in heaps, unopened for the time 
being. A great address had been prepared, with costly illu- 
mination on vellum, and binding by Mr. Cobden Sanderson. 
' Year by year,' it said, ' in ever widening extent, there is an 
increasing trust in your teaching, an increasing desire to realize 
the noble ideals you have set before mankind in words which 
we feel have brought nearer to our hearts the kingdom of 
God upon earth. It is our hope and prayer that the joy and 


peace you have brought to others may return in full measure 
to your own heart, filling it with the peace which comes from 
the love of God and the knowledge of the love of your fellow- 
men.' Among those who subscribed to these sentiments were 
various people of importance, such as Royal Academicians, 
the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolours, the Trustees 
of the British Museum and of the National Gallery, the 
St. George's Guild and Ruskin Societies, with many others ; 
and the address was presented by a deputation who reported 
that they had found him looking well ' and extremely 

A similar illuminated address from the University of Oxford 
ran thus : — ' We venture to send you, as you begin your 
eighty-first year, these few words of greeting and good-will, 
to make you sore that in Oxford the gratitude and reverence 
with which men think of you is ever fresh. You have helped 
many to find in life more happiness than they thought it 
held ; and we trust there is happiness in the latter years of 
your long life. You have taught many to see the wealth of 
beauty in nature and in art, prizing the remembrance of it ; 
and we trust that the sights you have best loved come back 
to your memory with imfading beauty. You have encouraged 
many to keep a good heart through dark days, and we trust 
that the courage of a constant hope is yours.' 

The London Ruskin Society sent a separate address ; and 
to show that if not a prophet in his own country he was at 
any rate a valued friend, the Coniston Parish Council resolved 
* and carried unanimously,' says the local journal, ' with 
applause,' — 'That the congratulations of this council be 
offered to Mr. John Ruskin, on the occasion of his eightieth 
birthday, together with the warm thanks which they and all 
their neighbours feel for the kindness he has shown, and the 
many generous acts he has done to them and theirs during 
twenty-seven years of residence at Coniston, where his presence 
is most truly appreciated, and his name will always be most 
gratefully remembered.' 

But as the year went on he did not regain his usual summer 


strength. Walking out had become a greater weariness to 
him, and he had to submit to the humiliation of a bath-chair. 
To save himself even the labour of creeping down to his study, 
he sat usually in the turret-room upstairs, next to his bed- 
chamber, but still with the look of health in his face, and 
the fire in his eyes quite unconquered. He would listen while 
Baxter read the news to him, following public events with 
interest, or while Mrs. Severn or Miss Severn read stories, 
novel after novel ; but always liking old favourites best, and 
never anything that was unhappy. Some pet books he would 
pore over, or drowse over, by the hour. The last of these 
was one in which he had a double interest, for it was about 
ships of war, and it was written by the kinsman of a dear 
friend. Some of the artists he had loved and helped had 
failed him or left him, but Bume-Jones was always true. 
One night, going up to bed, the old man stopped long to 
look at the photograph from Philip Bume-Jones's portrait 
of his father. ' That's my dear brother Ned,' he said, nodding 
good-bye to the picture as he went. Next night the great 
artist died, and of all the many losses of these later years 
this one was the hardest to bear. 

So when a little boy lent him ' A Fleet in Being ' he read 
and re-read it ; then got a copy for himself, and might have 
learnt it by heart, so long he pored over it. But when the 
little boy or his sisters went to visit the 'Di Pa' (Dear 
Papa), as he liked children to call their old friend, he had 
now scarcely anything to talk about. ' He just looked at us, 
and smiled,' they would report ; ' and we couldn't think what 
to say.' 

But he had his ' bright days,' when he would hear business 
discussed, though a very little of it was wearisome. It was 
impossible to bring before him half the wants and wishes of 
his correspondents, who could not yet realize his weakness, 
and besought the notice they fancied so easily given. Yet 
in that weakness one could trace no delusions, none of the 
mental break-down which was taken for granted. If he gave 
an opinion it was clear and sound enough ; of course with the 


old Ruskinian waywardness of idea which always puzzled 
his public. But he knew what he was about, and knew what 
was going on. He was just like the aged Queen Aud in the 
saga, who ' rose late and went to bed early, and if anyone 
asked after her health she answered sharply.' 

But all the love and care spent on him could not keep him 
with us. There came the Green Yule that makes a fat kirk- 
yard, and in January of 1900 hardly a house in the neighbour- 
hood was free from the plague of influenza. In spite of 
strictest precautions it invaded Brantwood, and we all said, 
' If only he can be kept !' 

To some the 18th of January is a date of evil omen, but 
they hardly anticipated what evil it would bring them. That 
day he was remarkably well, as people often are before an 
illness — ' fey,' as the old Northern folk-lore has it. Towards 
evening, when Mrs. Severn went to him for the usual reading 
— it was Edna Lyall's ' In the Golden Days ' — his throat was 
irritable and he ' ached all over.' They put him to bed and 
sent for Dr. Parsons, his constant medical attendant, who 
found his temperature as high as 102°, and feared the con- 
sequences. But the patient, as he always did, refused to be 
considered ill, and ate his dinner, and seemed next day to be 
really better. There was no great cause for alarm, though 
naturally some for anxiety ; and in reasonable hopes of amend- 
ment, the slight attack was not made public. 

On Saturday morning, the 20th, all appeared to be going well 
until about half-past ten. Suddenly he collapsed and became 
unconscious. It was the dreaded failure of heart after in- 
fluenza. His breathing weakened, and through the morning 
and through the afternoon in that historic little room, lined 
with his Turners, he lay, falling softly asleep. No efforts 
could revive him. There was no struggle; there were no 
words. The bitterness of death was spared him. And when 
it was all over, and those who had watched through the day 
turned at last from his bedside, ' sunset and evening star ' 
shone bright above the heavenly lake and the clear-cut blue 
of Coniston fells. 


But sweet as his setting out was for him, we were a sad 
little group in the twilight below. How marble-calm and 
dear the face was when I lifted the covering : how unbeliev- 
able that the great heart was still. Was it this I had feared, 
this lovely death, serenely arriving.? Of all the thoughts 
that might — one remembers — have crowded to mind around 
Ruskin's deathbed, one only shaped itself into words, again 
and again repeating : ' Let me die the death of the righteous, 
and let my last end be like his.' 

While we still talked in whispers round the fire the news 
was abroad. It could not have been wholly unexpected, but 
it came as a shock to many a reader of the Saturday evening 
paper, who was hoping or fearing far different tidings of 
death or victory at the war ; and even such great events, for 
many, seemed to stand still when they knew that we had lost 
the last of the great old men. 

Next morning brought messages of hurried condolence, 
and the Monday such a chorus from the press as made all 
the praises of his lifetime seem trifling and all its blame 
forgotten. If only, in his years of struggle and despair, he 
had known the place he should win ! 

On the Tuesday came a telegram ofTering a grave in West- 
minster Abbey, the highest honour our nation can give to its 
dead. But his own mind had long since been made plain on 
that, point, and his wishes had not been forgotten. ' If I die 
here,' he used to say, ' bury me at Coniston. I should have 
liked, if it happened at Heme Hill, to lie with my father and 
mother in Shirley churchyard, as I should have wished, if I 
died among the Alps, to be buried in the snow.' And indeed 
to send Ruskin's dead body by rail, and drag it through 
London streets to a grave, however honourable, among 
strangers, would have been, to all who love him and his 
teaching, little short of a mockery. 

Another desire, strongly expressed, was for a cast of his 
face and hand, as, no doubt, has been not unusual when 
great men have died. But I remember too well his anger, at 
Lucca years ago, with an Italian who had dared so to profane 


a face he loved. Mr. Ruskin had asked at a shop whether 
they sold a cast of the effigy of Ilai-ia di Caretto, and was 
told ' No.' Next morning, going into the church, we found 
the dead lady's face— he always thought of that wonderful 
sculpture as the dead lady, and not mere lifeless marble — we 
found it wet and fouled, and knew what had been done. 
When the man came with the ghastly white mask, trium- 
phant in anticipation of the Signor's gratitude, there was 
such a storm as few people would have anticipated or under- 
stood. Such being his feelings, who would dare to outrage 
them on his own person ? 

We carried him on Monday night down from his bed- 
chamber and laid him in the study. There was a pane of 
glass let into the coffin-lid, so that the face might be kept 
in sight; and there it lay, among lilies of the valley, and 
framed in the wreath sent by Mr. Watts, the great painter, 
a wreath of the true Greek laurel, the victor's crown, from 
the tree growing in his garden, cut only thrice before, for 
Tennyson and Leighton and Bume-Jones. It would be too 
long to tell of all such tokens of affection and respect that 
were heaped upon the coffin, — from the wreath of the Princess 
Louise down to the tributes of humble dependents, — above a 
hundred and twenty-five, we counted ; some of them the 
costliest money could buy, some valued no less for the feeling 
they expressed. I am not sure that the most striking was 
not the village tailor's, with this on its label — ' There was a 
man sent from God, and his name was John.' 

On the Wednesday we made our sad procession to the churchy 
through storm and flood. The village was in mourning, and 
round the churchyard gates men, women, and children stood 
in throngs. The coffin was carried in by eight of those who 
had been in his employ, and the church filled noiselessly with 
neighbours and friends, who after a hymn, and the Lord's 
Prayer, and a long silence, passed up the aisles for their last 
look, and to heap more offerings of wreaths and flowers 
around the bier. At dusk tall candles were lit, and so 
through the winter's night watch was kept. 


Thursday, the 25th, brought together a great assembly, 
great for the remoteness of the place and the inclemency of 
the weather. The country folk have a saying ' Happy is the 
dead that the rain rains on': and the fells were darkly 
clouded down and the beck roared by, swollen to a torrent. 
The church was far too small to hold the congregation, which 
included most of his personal friends and the representatives 
of many public bodies. A crowd stood outside in the storm 
while the service went on. 

It began with a hymn written for the occasion by Canon 
Rawnsley : — 

' " Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy 
head to-day ? And he said, Yea, I know it." 

' The prophets cease from out the land, 
The counsellors are gone, 
The lips to kindle and command 
Are silent one by one. 

' Our master taken from our head, 

In sorrow, here we pray — 
Lord, teach us in his steps to tread ; 
Be Thou our guide and stay, 

' Till all the righteousness he loved, 

The sympathy he sought, 
The truth by deed and word he proved, 
Be made our daily thought. 

' He gave us eyes, for we were blind ; 

He bade us know and hear ; 
By him the wonder of the mind 

Of God, on earth was clear. 

' We knew the travail of his soul, 

We thank Thee for his rest ; 
Lord, lead us upward to his goal — 
The pure, the true, the best 1' 

Sung by all to the old tune all know, 'Dundee's wild 
warbling measure," it went straighter to the heart than any 
cathedral anthem. Canon Rawnsley and the Rev. E. W. 
Oak, Vicar of Hawkshead, Brantwood's parish church, read 
the Psalms. A hymn, ' Comes at times a stillness as of even,' 


was sung by his friend Miss Wakefield ; and the lesson read 
by Canon Richmond, arrived officially to represent the 
Bishop of Carlisle, but to most of us representing with 
touching associations all the old times and comradeships of 
his youth and early manhood. The Rev. Charles Chapman, 
Vicar of Coniston, and the Rev. Reginald Meister, on behalf 
of the Dean of Christ Church, also took part in the service. 
When the Dead March sounded the coffin was covered with 
a pall given by the Ruskin Linen Industry of Keswick, lined 
with bright crimson silk, and embroidered with the motto, 
' Unto This Last,' and with his favourite wild roses showered 
over the gray field, just as they fall in the Prhnavera of 
Botticelli. There was no black about his burying, except 
what we wore for our own sorrow ; it was remembered how 
he hated black, so much that he would even have his mother's 
coffin painted blue ; and among the white and green and 
violet of the wreaths that filled the chancel, none was more 
significant in its sympathy than Mrs. Severn's great cross of 
red roses. 

As we carried him down the churchyard path, a drop or two 
fell from the boughs, but a gleam of sunshine, the first after 
many days, shot along the crags from under the cloud, and 
the wind paused. Standing there by the graveside, who 
could help being thankful that he had found so lovely a 
resting-place after so tranquil a falling to sleep? At his 
feet, parted only by the fence and the garden, is the village 
school ; and who does not know how he loved the children of 
Coniston ? At his right hand are the graves of the Beevers ; 
his last old friend. Miss Susan Beever, lies next to him. 
Over the spot hang the thick boughs of a fir-tree — who 
does not know what he has written of his favourite mountain- 
pine ? And behind the church, shut in with its dark yews, 
rise the crags of Coniston, those that he wearied for in his 
boyhood, and prayed, in mortal sickness, to lie down 
beneath : — ' The crags are lone on Coniston.' 


It is his birthday once more. We have just been to take 


the children's posy of the year''s first flowers, no longer to set 
on his table, but to hide in his tomb. 

It is a glorious day of frost and sun — bluest of skies, 
brightest of mountain-tops, with those noble brows of russst 
and purple crag overlooking the churchyard's golden green. 

All our wreaths lie still there, withering away, forlorn 
tributes of affection. But there are whiter wreaths on the 
grave than any we laid — garlands of snow, unsullied, from 


The Book-lover and collector of Editions will consult ' A Biblio- 
graphy of the Writings in Prose and Verse of John Ruskin, 
LL.D., edited by Thomas J. Wise, London. Printed for sub- 
scribers only, 1889 — 1893/ The general reader will be content 
with short notices, briefly recording Mr. Ruskin's literary activity. 
With permission from Mr. Wise and his co-editor, Mr. James P. 
Smart, Jun., to avail myself of their work, I have rearranged the 
titles of Mr. Ruskin's writings, whether issued separately or in 
periodicals, under the dates of their first appearance in print ; 
and I have omitted several mere compilations not actually edited 
by him, and reports of lectures not furnished by him, as well as 
minor letters given in ' Arrows of the Chace ' and ' Ruskiniana/ 
or mentioned in the great Bibliography as uncollected. 

The publisher's name is given in brackets after each work : 
English editions only are named. Works without name of 
magazine or publisher were printed for private circulation. 

1834. — 'Enquiries on the Causes of the Colour of the Water of 
the Rhine '; ' Note on the Perforation of a Leaden Pipe by 
Rats': and 'Facts and Considerations on the Strata of 
Mont Blanc,' etc. (Loudon's 'Mag. of Nat. Hist.' for 
Sept., Nov., and Dec), reprinted in ' On the Old Road.' 

1835. — Saltsburg, and Fragments from a MetricalJoumal ('Friend- 
ship's Offering,' Smith, Elder and Co.).* 

* All the poems — their titles are given in italics — were reprinted in 
'The Poems of John Euskin' 1891 (George Allen) ; and all except those 
of 1835 in ' Poems— J. E.,' 1850. 


] 836. — ' The Induration of Sandstone '; ' Observations on the 
Causes which occasion the Variation of Temperature be- 
tween Spring and River Water ' (Loudon's ' Mag. Nat. 
Hist.' for Sept. and Oct.), reprinted in ' On the Old Road.' 

1836. — The Months (' Friendship's Offering '). 

1837. — The Last Smile {' Friendship's Offering '). 

1837. — 'Leoni, a legend of Italy' ('Friendship's Offering'), re- 
printed separately with preface in 1868. 

1837-8. — 'The Poetry of Architecture'; a series of articles 
(Loudon's 'Architectural Magazine'), reprinted in 1892 
(George Allen). 

1838. — 'The Convergence of Perpendiculars,' five articles; and 
'The Planting of Churchyards ' (Loudon's ' Arch. Mag.'). 

1838. — The Scythian Grave, Remembrance, and Christ Church, 
Oxford (' Friendship's Offering '). 

1839. — 'Whether Works of Art may, with Propriety, be combined 
with the Sublimity of Nature ; and what would be the 
most appropriate Situation for the Proposed Monument 
to the Memory of Sir Walter Scott, in Edinburgh' 
(Loudon's ' Arch. Mag.' for January). 

1839. — Song — We care not what Skies: song — Though thou hast 
not a Feeling : and Horace — Iter ad Brundusium (' London 
Monthly Miscellany ' for January). 

1839. — Memory, and The Name ('London Monthly Misc.' for 

1839. — Canzonet — The Winter's Chill : Fragments from a Meteoro- 
logical Journal : canzonet — There's a Change : and The 
Mirror (' London Monthly Misc.' for March). 

1839. — Song of the Tyrolese ('London Monthly Misc.' for April). 

1839. — Salsette and Elephanta (Newdigate prize poem), printed 
separately and in ' Oxford Prize Poems ' (J. Vincent), new 
edition, 1879 (Allen). 

1 839. — ' Remarks on the Present State of Meteorological 
Science ' (Trans. Met. Soc), reprinted in ' Monthly Met. 
Mag.' for April, 1870 ; and in 'On the Old Road.' 

1839. — Scythian Banquet Song (' Friendship's Offering '). 

1840. — The Scythian Guest ('Friendships Offering') reprinted 
with preface, 1849. 


1840-43.— rAe Broken Chain (' Friendship's OiTering'). 

1840.— To [Adele] ('Friendship's OflFering'). 

1841. — The Tears of Psammcnitus . The Two Paths: The Old 
Waterwheel : Farewell : The departed Light ; and' Agonia 
(' Friendship's Offering '). 

1842. — The Last Song ofArion, and The Hills of Carrara (' Friend- 
ship's Offering '). 

1843. — 'Modern Painters/ Vol. I. Seven editions of this 
volume were published separately up to 1867 (Smith, 
Elder & Co.). For subsequent editions see under I860. 

1 844. — The Battle of Montenotte, and A Walk in Chamouni (' Friend- 
ship's Offering '). 

1845. — La Madonna dell' Acqua (Heath's ' Book of Beauty'). 

1845. — The Old Seaman; and The Alps, seen from Marengo 
(' Keepsake '). 

1846. — 'Modern Painters/ Vol. H. Five editions of this volume 
were published separately up to 1869 (Smith, Elder). 
Also rearranged edition in 2 vols. (Allen). For other 
editions see under I860, 

1846. — Mont Blanc; and The Arve at Cluse (' Keepsake '). 

1846. — Lines written among the Basses Alpes ; and The Glacier 
(Heath's ' Book of Beauty '). 

1847. — 'Lord Lindsay's "Christian Art'" ('Quarterly Review' 
for June), reprinted in 'On the Old Road.' 

1848.— 'Eastlake's " History of Oil Painting" ' ('Quarterly Re- 
view ' for March), reprinted in ' On the Old Road.' 

1849. — 'Samuel Prout' ('Art Journal' for March), reprinted 
separately 1870, and in ' On the Old Road.' 

1849. — ' The Seven Lamps of Architecture,' two editions (Smith, 
Elder), and subsequent issues (Allen). Reprinted in a 
cheap form, with reduced plates (Allen). 

1850. — ' Poems — J. R.' ; containing the above-mentioned, with 

1851.— 'The King of the Golden River' (written 1841), seven 
editions (Smith, Elder), and subsequent editions (Allen). 

1851. — 'The Stones of Venice/ Vol. I., two editions of this 
volume published separately (Smith, Elder). For other 
editions see under 1853. 


1851. — 'Examples of the Architecture of Venice' (Smith, Elder, 
& Co., and Colnaghi), reissued 1887 (Allen). 

1851. — 'Notes on the Construction of Sheepfolds': two editions 
(Smith, Elder), and subsequent reissues (Allen), also re- 
printed in 'On the Old Road.' With this may br 
named : — 

' Two Letters concerning Notes, etc.,' addressed to the 
Rev. F. D. Maurice, 1851 : printed by Dr. F. J. Furnivall, 

1851 — ' Pre-Raphaelitism,' two editions (Smith, Elder), reprinted 
in ' On the Old Road.' 

1852.—' The National Gallery ' (letters to ' The Times '), printed 
separately ; also in ' Arrows of the Chace.' 

1853. — 'The Stones of Venice,' Vols. II. and III., two editions 
of each published separately (Smith, Elder). The three 
vols, were published together in 1874, the so-called 
'Autograph' edition (Smith, Elder), and reprinted 1886 
(Allen). In 1879 appeared the Travellers' edition, 
abridged (Allen). With this may be named : — ' On the 
Nature of Gothic, etc' (from ' Stones of Venice ') printed 
by F. J. Furnivall, 1854; two issues (Smith, Elder), and 
reprinted at the Kelmscott Press by William Morris, 1892 

1853-60. — 'Giotto and his Works in Padua' in three parts; 
collected into one vol. 1877 (Arundel Society). 

1854. — 'Lectures on Architecture and Painting' (Edinburgh, 
Nov., 1853) ; two editions (Smith, Elder), new edition, 1891 

1 854. — ' Letters to " The Times " on the Principal Pre-Raphaelite 
Pictures in the Exhibition': printed separately, reprinted 
1876, also in 'Arrows of the Chace.' 

1854. — 'The Opening of the Crystal Palace,' etc. (Smith, Elder); 
reprinted in ' On the Old Road.' 

1855. — 'Notes on some of the Principal Pictures in . , . the 
Royal Academy '; three editions (Smith, Elder). 

1856. — 'Notes on . . . the Royal Academy, etc' No. II., six 
editions (Smith, Elder). 

1856.— 'Modem Painters,' Vols. III. and IV.: two editions of 


each (Smith, Elder); for subsequent issues see under 
1856. — 'The Harbours of England/ two editions (E. Gambart 
& Co.) ; edition 3 (Day & Son) ; edition 4 (T. J. AUman) ; 
edition 5, dated 1877 (Smith, Elder). Reprinted with 
reduced plates, and preface by T. J. Wise, 1895 (Allen). 
1857. — 'Notes on . . , the Royal Academy, etc.,' No. III., two 

editions (Smith, Elder). 
1857. — 'Notes on the Turner Gallery at Marlborough House'; 

five editions variously revised (Smith, Elder). 
1857. — 'Catalogue of the Turner Sketches in the National 

Gallery,' Part I. ; also enlarged edition, 1857. 
1857. — 'Catalogue of the Sketches and Drawings by J. M. W. 
Turner, R. A., exhibited at Marlborough House,' 1857-8; 
also enlarged edition, 1858. 
1857. — 'The Elements of Drawing': eight 'thousands' (Smith, 
Elder) ; new edition, 1892 (Allen) ; partly reprinted in 
' Our Sketching Club ' by the Rev. R. St. J. Tyrwhitt ; 
four editions (Macmillan). 
1857. — 'The Political Economy of Art,' three editions (Smith, 
Elder); reprinted in 'A Joy for Ever (and its price in 
the market) ' (Allen) : which includes the following 
pamphlets : — 

'Education in Art,' 1858 (Trans. Nat. Assoc, for the 

Promotion of Social Science) ; ' Remarks addressed to the 

Mansfield Art Night Class,' 1873 ; and 'Social Policy,' etc. 

(a paper for the Metaphysical Society), 1 875< 

1858. — 'Notice respecting some artificial sections illustrating the 

Geology of Chamouni ' (Proc. Royal Soc. of Edinburgh). 
1858. — 'Notes on . . . the Royal Academy,' etc. No. IV. 

(Smith, Elder). 
1858. — 'Inaugural Address at the Cambridge School of Art' 
(Deighton, Bell & Co,, and Bell & Daldy); another 
edition printed for the Committee of the School ; repub- 
lished separately, 1879 (Allen), and reprinted in 'On the 
Old Road." 
1859.— 'The Oxford Museum,' by Henry W. Acland, M.D., etc., 
and John Ruskin ; various issues forming four editions 


(Parker, and Smith, Elder.) Mr. Ruskin's contributions 
were reprinted in 'Arrows of the Chace.' New edition, 
with portraits and additions, 1893 (Allen). 

1859. — 'Notes on . . . the Royal Academy,' etc., No. V. (Smith, 

1859. — 'The Two Paths' (Smith, Elder) and subsequent editions 
(Allen). The work includes : — ' The Unity of Art ' (lecture 
at Manchester, Feb. 22, 1859), privately printed. 

1859.—' The Elements of Perspective ' (Smith, Elder). 

I860. — 'Sir Joshua and Holbein' (' Cornhill Mag.' for March); 
reprinted in ' On the Old Road.' 

I860.— 'Modern Painters,' Vol. V. (Smith, Elder). The five 
volumes of ' Modem Painters ' were published together 
in the issue known as the Autograph Edition in 1873 
(Smith, Elder). They were reprinted with additions and 
index in 1888, and again in 1892 (Allen). With these 
may be named: — 'Frondes Agrestes' (selections from 
' Modem Painters ' by Miss Susanna Beever), edited by 
Mr. Ruskin, 1875 (Allen). 'In Montibus Sanctis, Studies 
of Mountain Form and its Visible Causes, collected and 
completed out of Modem Painters ': two parts only ap- 
peared, 1884-5 (Allen); and ' Coeli Enarrant, Studies of 
Cloud Form, etc.,' 1885 (Allen). 

The well-known ' Selections from the writings [above- 
named] of John Ruskin' were first published in 1861 
(Smith, Elder). 

In 1893 appeared a recast of 'Selections,' with the 
passages printed in ' Frondes Agrestes ' replaced by other 
extracts from the same works : also a companion volume 
containing selections from the later works of I860 onwards 

With these may be mentioned 'The Ruskin Reader,' 
extracts from ' Modem Painters,' ' Stones of Venice,' and 
' Seven Lamps,' 1895 (Allen). 

Also ' Studies in Both Arts,' ten plates from drawings 
by Mr. Ruskin, with illustrative extracts ; 1895 (Allen). 

I860. [Unto this Last,] four Essays on the first principles of 
Political Economy (' Cornhill Magazine ') ; reprinted as 


' Unto this Last/ 1 862 (Smithj Elder & Co.), and subse- 
quent editions (Allen). With this may be named : — ' The 
Rights of Labour according to John Ruskin,' arranged by 
Thomas Barclay (extracts from ' Unto this Last/ with a 
letter from Mr. Ruskin), 1887 (C. Men-ick, Leicester); 
edition 2 (n.d.) ; edition 3, 1889 (W. Reeves). 

1861. — 'Tree Twigs ' (Proceedings of the Royal Institution), re- 
printed separately ; also in ' On the Old Road.' 

1862-3. — [Munera Pulveris] : Essays in Political Economy 
('Eraser's Magazine'); reprinted as 'Munera Pulveris'; 
other editions (Allen). 

1863. — 'Forms of the Stratified Alps of Savoy' (Proceedings of 
the Royal Institution), reprinted separately : also reprinted 
with variations in ' The Geologist ' for July, 1 863 ; and 
reported fully in French in the ' Journal de Geneve,' 
Sept. 2nd, 1863 ; also in ' On the Old Road.' 

1865. — 'Sesame and Lilies'; four editions (Smith, Elder); and 
many editions (Allen) in original form. Revised and en 
larged by the addition of lecture on ' The Mystery of Life ' 
(printed in Dublin Afternoon Lectures, 1869), in which 
form five editions have appeared (Allen). The Lecture on 
the Queen's Gardens was printed as a pamphlet in aid of 
the St. Andrew's Schools Fund, 1864. 

1865. — ' Notes on the Shape and Structure of some parts of the 
Alps,' etc. (' Geol. Mag.' for Feb. and May). 

1865-6. — 'The Cestus of Aglaia'; nine papers in the 'Art 
Journal,' partly reprinted in ' On the Old Road ' and in 
' The Queen of the Air.* 

1866. — 'The Ethics of the Dust' (Smith, Elder), and subsequent 
editions (Allen). 

1866.— 'The Crown of Wild Olive'; three editions (Smith, 
Elder), and subsequent editions (Allen). Of these lectures 
were printed separately : ' War,' 1866 ; and (' The Future 
of England') a paper read at the Royal Artillery Insti- 
tution, Woolwich, 1869. 

1867. — ' Report on the Turner Drawings in the National Gallery' 
(Annual Reports, Nat. Gall.). 

1867. — 'Time and Tide by Weare and Tyne '; twenty-five 


letters first published in the ' Manchester Examiner ' and 
the 'Leeds Mercury'; two editions (Smith, Elder), and 
subsequent editions (Allen). 

1867-70. — 'On Banded and Brecciated Concretions'; seven 
papers in the ' Geol. Mag.' 

1868. — Introduction to ' German Popular Stories/ illustrated by 
Cruikshank (John Camden Hotten). 

1868. — (First) ' Notes on the General Principles of Employment 
for the Destitute and Criminal Classes'; two issues in the 
same year. 

1 869. — Catalogue of Pictures sold at Christie's. 

I869. — Catalogue of Pictures in Illustration of Lecture on the 
Flamboyant Architecture of the Valley of the Somme. 

I869. — 'The Queen of the Air'; two editions (Smith, Elder), 
and others subsequently (Allen). 

1870. — ' Verona and its Rivers ' (Proceedings of the Royal Insti- 
tution), abstract reprinted in ' On the Old Road '; also at 
length in 'Verona, and other Lectures,' 1894 (Allen). 

' Catalogue of Drawings and Photographs ' (illustrating 
the above lecture), reprinted in ' On the Old Road.' 

1870. — ' Lectures on Art'; three editions (Clarendon Press), and 
small edition (Allen). 

1 870. — ' Catalogue of Examples arranged for Elementary Study 
in the University Galleries ' (Clarendon Press). With this 
may be named : ' Catalogue of the Reference Series ' 
(1871); 'Catalogue of the Educational Series' (1871 and 
1874) ; and ' Instructions in Elementary Drawing' (1872), 
five editions. 

1871. — 'The Range of Intellectual Conception proportioned to 
the Rank in Animated Life'; a paper for the Metaphysical 
Society ; also printed in the ' Contemporary Review ' for 
June, and in ' On the Old Road.' 

1871-84. — 'Fors Clavigera.' Letters 1 — 84 published monthly 
from Jan. 1st, 1871 to Dec. 1st, 1877. Letters 85—96 
(1 — 12 of the New Series) published at intervals from 
1878-84 ; afterwards collected in eight volumes (Allen) 
and in four small volumes, uniform with the cheap editions 
of Mr. Ruskin's works, I896 (Allen). 


With this may be named: — 'Index to Vols. I. and II.,' 
1873 ; ' Index to Vols. III. and IV.,' 1875 (Allen). Article 
on J. D. Forbes, chiefly from ' Fors ' No. 34, in Rendu's 
'Glaciers of Savoy,' translated by Alfred Wills, Q.C. (Mac- 
millan). ' Letter to Young Girls,' from ' Fors ' Nos. 65 
and 66 ; eighteen editions up to 1 890 (Allen). Also the 
following publications relating to St. George's Guild : — 
'Abstract of the Objects and Constitution,' 1878 ; ' Memor- 
andum and Articles of Association,' 1878 ; ' Master's Re- 
port" for 1879, 1881, 1884., 1885 ; 'General Statement ex- 
plaining the Nature and Purposes,' 1882, two editions 
(Allen) ; ' Contents of large sliding frames ' (in Museum), 
1879 ; ' Catalogue of drawings made for the Guild and Ex- 
hibited at the Fine Art Society's Gallery,' 1886; and 
' Catalogue of Minerak in the Museum.' 

1872. — ' Aratra PenteUci,' several editions (Allen). 

1872. — ' The Relation between Michael Angelo and Tintoret,' 
several editions (Allen). 

1872. — 'The Eagle's Nest,' several editions (Allen). 

1872. — 'Monuments of the CavaUi Family, Verona' (Arundel 
Society) ; reprinted in ' On the Old Road.' 

1872. — Preface to 'Christian Art and Symbohsm' by the Rev. 
R. St. J. Tyrwhitt (Smith, Elder), reprinted in 'On the 
Old Road.' 

1873. — ' The Nature and Authority of Miracle ': A paper for the 
Metaphysical Society, reprinted privately; published in 
the 'Contemporary Review ' for March, 1873, and in 'On 
the Old Road.' 

1873. — 'Love's Meinie,' Parts I. and II. published separately, 
two editions ; Part III. was issued in 1881. The complete 
volume in 1882 (Allen). 

1873. — 'Ariadne Florentina,' six lectures issued separately ; sub- 
sequently as one volume, in several editions (Allen). 

1 874. — ' Val d' Amo,' ten lectures issued separately ; subse- 
quently as one volume, in several editions (Allen). 

1875. — ' Notes on . . . the Royal Academy,' four editions (AUen 
and Ellis & White). 

1875-7.^-' Mornings in Florence'; six parts issued separately, in 


several editions (Allen). With this may be named :— ' The 
Shepherd's Tower' (photographs of Giotto's Campanile), 
1881 (William Ward). 

1875-S6. — ' Proserpina/ ten parts in several editions ; collected 
into two volumes (Allen). 

1875-83. — 'Deucalion/ eight parts, some of which ran to two 
editions ; collected into two volumes (Allen). With this 
may be named :— ' Yewdale and its Streamlets/ reprinted 
from the 'Kendal Mercury,' 1877; 'The Limestone Alps 
of Savoy,' by W. G. CoUingwood ; edited with introduction 
by Mr. Ruskin as supplement to ' Deucalion,' 1884 (Allen). 

187(5. — 'Modern Warfare' ('Eraser's Mag.' for July), reprinted 
in ' Arrows of the Chace.' 

1876.— Preface and Notes to 'The Art Schools of Mediaeval 
Christendom,' by Miss A. C. Owen (Mozley & Smith) ; re- 
printed in ' On the Old Road.' 

1876. — Preface to • A Protest against the Extension of Railways 
in the Lake District,' by Robert Somervell (J. Gamett, and 
Simpkin & Marshall) ; reprinted in ' On the Old Road.' 

1876. — 'Bibliotheca Pastorum, Vol. I.; The Economist of 
Xenophon,' translated by A. D. O. Wedderbum, and W. 
G. CoUingwood ; edited with preface by Mr. Ruskin (Ellis 
& White, and Allen). 

1877. — 'Bibliotheca Pastorum, Vol. II., Rock Honeycomb'; 
Sir Philip Sidney's ' Psalter,' with Preface and Commentary 
by Mr. Ruskin (Ellis & White, and Allen). Vol. III. was 
not published. 

1877. — ' Guide to the Principal Pictures in the Academy of Fine 
Arts at Venice,' in two parts ; two editions (Venice, and 

1877-84. — 'St. Mark's Rest' in three parts; together with — 
Appendix, ' Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus ' by A. D. O. Wed- 
derbum, 1882; First Supplement, 'The Shrine of the 
Slaves' by Mr. Ruskin (also translated into Italian by 
Conte Cav. G. P. Zanelli, 1885) ; and Second Supplement, 
'The Place of Dragons' by J. R. Anderson, 1879 (the 
above pubhshed by Allen) ; and ' Illustrative Photographs ' 
(William Ward). 


1877-8. — 'The Laws of F6sole,' in four parts in various editions ; 
collected into one volume, 1879 ; edition 2, 1882 (Allen). 

1878. — 'An Oxford Lecture' ('Nineteenth Century' for Jan.), 
reprinted in ' On the Old Road.' 

1878. 'My First Editor' ('University Magazine' for April), re- 
printed in ' On the Old Road.' 

1878. — ' Notes on the Turner Exhibition at the Fine Art Society's 
Galleries '; twelve issues and illustrated edition (Fine Art 

1878. — 'The Three Colours of Pre-Raphaelitism ' ('Nineteenth; 
Century ' for Nov. and Dec), reprinted in ' On the Old 

1879-80. — 'Notes on the Prout and Hunt Exhibition'; four 
issues and illustrated edition (Fine Art Society), 

1879-80. — 'Circular respecting Memorial Studies at St. Mai-k's '; 
three issues (Fine Art Society). 

1879-80. — 'The Lord's Prayer and the Church': Letters, etc. 
Edited by the Rev. F. A. Malleson, M.A. Three editions, 
varying in contents (Strahan & Co.). Mr. Ruskin's 
' Letters,' reprinted in ' The Contemporaiy Review ' for 
December, 1879; also in 'On the Old Road.' The 
original volume republished with additions, 1 896 (Allen). 

X880. — 'Usury, a Reply and a Rejoinder' ('Contemporary Re- 
view ' for February) ; reprinted in ' On the Old Road.' 

1880. — 'Elements of English Prosody' (Allen). 

1880. — ' Letters on a Museum or Picture Gallery ' ('Art Journal ' 
for June and August) ; reprinted in ' On the Old Road.' 

1880. 'Arrows of the Chace'; letters to newspapers collected 

by A. D. O. Weddevburn, two vols. (Allen). With this 
may be mentioned ' Ruskiniana,' letters collected by A. D. 
O. Wedderburn and published in 'Igdrasil' magazine 
(Allen), and afterwards privately reprinted. 

1880-81.— 'Fiction, Fair and Foul': five papei-s (in the 'Nine- 
teenth Century') ; reprinted in ' On the Old Road.' 

1880-85.—' The Bible of Amiens ': five pai-ts, afterwards collected 
into one vol. ; separate travellers' edition of Chap. IV., 
1881 (AUen). 

1881. 'Catalogue of the Drawings and Sketches of J. M. W. 

27 2 


Turner, R.A., at present in the National Gallery'; two 

editions and two special editions (Allen). 
188S. — ' The Art of England ': seven lectures issued separately ; 

afterwards collected into one vol. ; two editions both of 

parts and vol. (Allen). 
1883. — 'Catalogue of Siliceous Minerals given to St. David's 

School ' (Rev. W. H. Churchill), Reigate. 
1883. — Preface to 'The Story of Ida,' by Francesca Alex- 
ander ; several editions (Allen). 
1883. — Introduction to 'The Study of Beauty and Art in 

Large Towns,' by T. C. Horsfall (Macmillan) ; reprinted in 

' On the Old Road.' 
1884 — 'The Storm Cloud of the Nineteenth Century '; issued in 

two parts, afterwards in one volume (Allen). 
1884. — ' Catalogue of Minerals given to Kirkcudbright Museum.' 
1884. — ' Catalogue of a series of Specimens in the British 

Museum (Nat. Hist.), illustrative of the more common 

forms of native Silica ' (Allen). 
1884-5. — 'The Pleasures of England': four lectures issued 

separately (Allen). The course is reported in ' Studies in 

Ruskin,' by E. T. Cook, M.A., 1890 (Allen). 
1885. — Preface and Notes to 'Roadside Songs of Tuscany,' by 

Miss Alexander (Allen). 
1885. — Preface and Notes to ' The English School of Painting, 

by E. Chesneau, three editions (Cassell). 
1885. — Introduction to 'Usury,' by R. G. Sillar, two editions (A. 

Southey) ; reprinted in ' On the Old Road.' 
1885. — 'The Bishop of Oxford and Prof. Ruskin on Vivisection' 

(Victoria Street Society for the Protection of Animals from 

1885. — 'On the Old Road ' (reprint of magazine articles), edited 

by A. D. O. Wedderburn (Allen). 
1885.— 'Bibliotheca Pastorum,' Vol. IV. 'A Knight's Faith' 

(life of Sir Herbert Edwardes) ; issued in three parts, 

collected into one volume (Allen). 
1885-89. — ' PrsBterita ' : twenty-eight parts, of which twenty- 
four are collected into two volumes ; Vol. I. has run to two 

editions (Allen). 


1886-87. — 'Dilecta': correspondence, etc., illustrating ' Praete- 

rita '; two parts (Allen). 
1886-88. — Preface and Notes to ' Ulric, the Farm Servant,' by 

Gotthelf, translated by Mrs. Firth (Allen). 
1887.— 'Arthur Burgess' ('Century Guild Hobby Horse' for 

1887. — ' Hortus Inclusus': letters to Misses Mary and Susanna 

Beever, edited by Albert Fleming, two editions (Allen). 
1887-89. — ' Christ's Folk in the Apennine,' by Francesca Alex- 
ander, edited by Mr. Ruskin ; six parts issued (Allen). 
1888. — Preface and Notes to "A Popular Handbook to the 

National Gallei-y,' by E. T. Cook (Macmillan). 
1888. — 'The Black Arts: a reverie in the Strand' ('Magazine 

of Art ' for January). 
1897. — ' Lectures on Landscape, delivered in 1871 ' (Allen). 

To these may be added, though not pubhshed by or for 
Mr. Ruskin : — ' Three letters and an essay, by John 
Ruskin, 1836 — 1841 ; found in his Tutor's desk' (Allen), 
and ' Letters addressed to a College Friend during the 
years 1840—1845, by John Ruskin' (Allen). 

Abo a series of volumes privately printed by Mr. T. J. 
Wise (1892—1896) of Letters to Messrs. F. S. Ellis, W. 
Ward (2 vols.), Ernest Chesneau, and the Rev. J. P. 
Faunthorpe (2 vols.), and a collection of ' Letters on Art 
and Literature ' to various correspondents. 

Since this list was compiled, 'Modem Painters' and 
others of the lai-ger works have been issued in reduced 
form, in the series of cheap editions. 


Abbeville, 251-254, 357, 385 
Aoland, Sir H. W., M.D., 68, 60, 

141, 177, 179, 267 
Acland, Sir T. D., 178, 289 
Adairs and Agnews, 4, 5, 8 
Agnew, Miss (Mrs. Arthur Severn), 

8, 212, 226, 229, 279, 283 
Alessandri, Angelo, 323, 329, 370 
Alexander, Mrs., and Miss Fran- 

oesca, 365-367, 370, 377, 385 
Alice, Princess, 307 
AUen, Mr. George, 152, 165, 284, 

294 391 
Alps, '38-43, 76, 92, 95, 96, 102, 

113-118, 200, 204-207, 229-231, 

247, 259, 367 

Amiens, Bible of,' 357, 358 
Anderson, Mr. J. B., 323, 333 

, Miss S. D., 374 

Andrews, Dr., and family, 28, 29, 

32, 35, 40 
Animals, love of, 366, 378; see 

Dogs, Vivisection 
Anne, Kurse, 14, 26, 66, 112, 

•Arachne,' 14, 278 
' Aratra Pentelici,' 276 
Architects, Boyal Institnte of 

British, 306 
Architectural Association, lecture 

to, 169 
Architecture, 61-65, 110, 140, 144, 

146, 169, 251, 253, 263, 367; 

and see ' Seven Lamps,' ' Stones 

of Venice ' 
' Ariadne Florentina,' 298 
Armytage, J. C, 121 

Art, 181, 213, 240, 267, 274, 277, 
278 ; and see Architecture, 
Drawing, Painting 

Arthur, Prince, 278, 307 

Assisi, 304 

Avallon, 364 

Baker, Mr. George, 318 
Baxter, Mr. Peter, 323, 400 
Beever, Mies Mary, 360 
, Miss Susanna, 290, 304, 

324, 329, 337, 364, 360, 364, 

378, 389, 407 
' Bibhotheca Pastorum,' 309, 315 
Bishop, Mrs. W. H., 370 
Blow, Mr. Detmar J., 386 
Boats, 169, 360 
Boehm, Sir Edgar, 367, 377 
Boni, Cav. G., 323, 370 
Botticelli, 297, 305 
Bourdillon, Mr. F. W., 298 
Boys, T., 121 

Bradford lectures, 183, 223 
Brantwood, 15, 281, 297, 302, 310, 

340-361, 395-399 
Brown, Dr. John, 145 

, Rawdon, 264, 323 

, Prof. Thomas, 7, 9, 80 

, Rev. Walter, 55, 58 

Browning, Robert and £. Barrett, 

18, 162-167, 211 
Buckland, Dr., 60, 58-61, 69, 109 
Bnnney, J. W., 162, 156, 207, 

264, 323 
Burgess, Arthur, 155, 264 
Bume-Jones, Sir E., 163, 260, 

266, 336, 342, 402 



Camberwell lectnrea, 144, 214, 

Cambridge lectures, 180, 239-241 

, gift of Turners, 197 

, hon. LL.D., 239 

Cariyle, Thomas, 74, 77, 84, 124, 

126, 158, 197, 202, 208, 212, 

220, 226, 232-235, 239, 261, 

268, 280, 288, 298, 303, 387 
Carpaooio, 103, 260, 261, 297, 323, 

Carriok and Vokins, 162 
Cesnola, Gen. L. P. di, 305 
■CestuB of Aglaia,' 213, 220 
Chamberlain, John Henry, 318 
Chamouni, 39, 43, 84, 95, 116, 

195, 338, 386 
Chesneau, Ernest, 394 
Chesterfield forgery, 357 
Christ's Hospital lecture, 328 
Citeaux, 367 

Collins, Charles AUston, 131, 132 
Coniston, 37, 244, 280, 334, 340, 

341, 346, 356, 373-375, 399 
Coniston lecture, 372 
Cooke, Mr. E., 160, 153, 155 
Copley, J. 8., R.A., 12 
Cousen, J., 121 
Coutet, Joseph, 95, 99, 102, 112- 

Covenanters, 6 
Cowper - Temple, Mr. and Mrs. 

(Lord and Lady Mount Temple), 

124, 289 
Cox family, 7, 8 
Crawley, Mr. F., 243, 253, 304, 

' Crown of Wild OUve,' 222-225, 

Croydon, 7, 12, 19 
Crnikshank, G-eorge, 33, 169, 226 
Cuff, R. P., 121 
Cyanometer, 42 

Dale, Rev. T., 40-50, 67, 66, 106 
Dart, Henry, 66, 68 
Darwin, Charles, 61 
Denmark Hill, 94, 104, 253, 297 
' Deucalion,' 328, 329, 339, 365 
Deverell, W. H., 137 

Dickinson, Mr. Lowes, 160, 152, 

Dixon, Thomas, 235 
Dogs, 19, 355, 364 
Domecq, Ad^le, 51-66, 69 

, Peter, 9, 17, 61-54 

Downes, David, 243, 253, 293, 

Drawings by Mr. Ruskin, 33-35, 
38-40, 42, 45, 58, 61, 68, 76, 
81-84, 95, 99, 111, 121, 122, 
146, 181, 213, 251, 254, 263, 
Dublin lecture, 251 

' Eagle's Nest,' 296 
Edinburgh lectures, 141-145 
Education, 177, 178, 218, 219, 

237, 265, 372, 373 
Bdwardes, Sir Herbert, 315, 372 
' Elements of Drawing,' 154 
' Ethics of the Dust,' 219-221 
Eton lectures, 302, 305, 329, 358 
Eyre, Governor, 232 

Fall, Richard, 36, 43, 50, 77, 91, 
Faunthorpe, Rev. J. P., 364 
Fielding, Copley, 45 
Fleming, Mr. Albert, B18 
Florence, 102, 365 
Forbes, J. D., 95, 338 
' Fors Clavigera,' 4, 31, 265, 284- 

290, 312, 332, 334, 336, 354 
'Friendship's OfEering,' 42,43, 52, 

Friends of Living Creatures, 

Society of, 356 
Froude, J. A., 201, 203, 387 
Furneaux, Rev. H., 275 
FurnivaU, Dr. F. J., 149, 150 

Gaisford, Dean, 58, 69, 71 
Gale, Mr. Frederick, 377 
Geneva, 77, 84, 99, 112 
Geology, 41, 61, 204-209 ; and see 

Deucalion, Glaciers, Minerals 
Gibson, Father, 360 
Giessbaoh, 228-230, 266, 276 
Giotto, 102. 141 
Glaciers, Theory of, 95, 338, 339 



Gladstone, Mr., 178, 332, 371 
Glasgow Rectorship contest, 371 
Glenfarg, 23 
Glenfinlas, 141 
Globe models, 21, 372 
Goodwin, Mr. Albert, R.W.8., 

280, 297 
Gordon, Rev. Osborne, 58, 79, 96, 

104, 116 
Gothic Revival, 69, 144 ; and see 

Gray, Mr. and Mrs. Richard, 14, 

Greenaway, Miss Kate, R.I., 370, 

376, 377 
Griffith, Mr., 73, 174 
Gull, Sir Wm., M.D., 362 

Halle, Sir Charles, 217 
Harding, J. D., 81-83, 93, 102 
Hardraw Fall, 321, 322 
Harlech Castle, 35, 73 
Harrison, W. H., 69, 70, 92, 93, 

122, 137, 144, 333, 356 
' Harry and Lucy,' 20, 21, 24-26 
Hastings, 21 
Hazell, Watson and Viney, 294, 

Helps, Sir Arthur, 288 

Heme Hill, 16, 49, 77, 79, 87, 

140, 253, 362 
Hill, Miss Octavia, 291, 292 
Hilliard, Mrs., 276, 297 
'■ — , Miss Constance (Mrs.W. 

H. Churchill), 226-231, 297 
Hilliard, Laurence Jermyn, 343, 

Hooper, W. H., 155 
Howell, C. A. 225, 228, 283 
Hunt, Holman, 130-132, 145, 169, 

265, 369 
Hunt, 'Old' William, 134, 136, 


Ilaria di Caretto, 102, 260, 405 

Jacobites, 4, 25, 233 
Jameson, Mrs., 102, 145 
JefEery, W., 150, 152, 155, 210 

Jephson, Dr., 77, 109 
Jowett, Mr. H., 348 

'KataPhusin,' 62-65 

Keble, 70 

Kendal lecture, 329 

Keswick, 17, 242, 243 

' King of the Golden River,' 78, 

no, 122 
King's College, London, 44, 49 
Kingsley, Rev. W., 278 

Lake District, 17, 27, 30-32, 96, 
108, 200, 242-245, 322 

' Laws of F^sole,' 323 

Leamington, 77, 109 

Lectures by Mr. Ruskin, 141-145, 
168-171, 176, 180, 182, 183, 197, 
201, 205, 212, 214, 222-224, 239- 
241, 251, 254, 256-258, 268, 271, 
272,276, 278, 296,298, 301-305, 
310, 311, 328-330, 358, 367-370, 

Le Kenx, J. H., 121 

'Leoni,'62, 76 

Leopold, Prince, 306, 332, 345 

Lewis, John P., R.A., 134, 183 

Liddell, Dean, 58, 170, 267 

Linen Industries, 318, 319 

Lockhart, J. G., 107 

London Institution lectures, 328, 
367, 375 

Longfellow, 254, 264 [359 

'Lord's Prayer, Letters on the,' 

Loudon, J. C., and his Magazines, 
41, 42, 61-65 

' Love's Meinie,' 302 

Lucca, 101, 297, 365, 366, 370 

Luini, 201 

Lupton, Thomas, 121 

Macdonald, Mr. Alex., 274 

of St. Martin's, 109 

Mallook, Mr. W. H., 101, 309 
Manchester lectures, 170, 182, 

212, 215 
Manning, Cardinal, 359 
' Marcolini,' 53 
Marks, H. Staoey, R.A., 302 
Matlock, 31, 128, 278 



Matterhorn, 116 

Maurice, Rev. F. D., 124, 150 

Maw, Mr. George, 248 

May Queens, 364 

Meissonier's ' Napoleon,' 275, 342 

Metaphysical Society, 300, 310 

Meteorological Society, 50 

Millais, Sir J. E., 130-132, 141, 

144, 183 
Milman, Dean, 40, 135, 172 
Milsand, Joseph, 393 
Minerals and Crystals, 32, 41, 80, 

246-250, 328, 329, 339, 363, 376 ; 

see ' Deucalion,' Geology 
Mitford, Miss, 107, 141, 142 
' Modern Painters,' 43, 48, 80, 88- 

94, 102, 116, 121, 128, 158, 160, 

180, 184, 224, 255, 330, 385, 389, 

Moore, Prof. 0. H., 323 

, Rev. Daniel, 135 

Momex, 192, 198-201 
' Mornings in Florence,' 324 
' Mnnera Pulveris,' 201-203 
Munro of Novar, 48, 335 
Murray, Mr. C. F., 344, 366 
Mythology, 256-258 

National Gallery, 105, 106, 172, 

201, 241, 362. 376 
Newman, Mr. H. R., 365 
Newton, Sir Charles, 58, 137 
Northcote, James, B.A., 12, 15 
Norton, Prof. C. E., 158, 192, 

193, 204, 254, 276, 296, 298, 
'Notes on the Construction of 

Sheepfolds,' 125 

Oliver, Prof., 328 

Oxford, Mr. Eiiskin at, 31, 48, 

55, 57-61, 66-72, 79, 105, 108, 

272-275, 309, 331, 368 
Oxford, Professorship of Poetry, 

Oxford, Slade Professorship, 266- 

268, 301, 311, 369, 378 
Oxford, Mr. Ruskin's lectures, 

177, 271, 272, 276, 278, 296, 298, 

301-305, 311, 330, 369, 377, 378 

Oxford Drawing School, 274, 275, 

307, 384 
Oxford, Hinksey diggings, 308 
, gifts to, 197, 211, 281 

307, 384 
Oxford Museum, 158, 176 
, Ml'. Ruskin's degrees 

etc., 80, 178, 275, 337, 393 
Oxford Bust, 367 
, Proctor's speech, 335 

Painting, 64, 130-134, 157 ; and 

see Art 
Palermo, 304 

Paris, 17, 40, 51, 97, 227, 254, 277 
Parsey's Perspective, 62-64 
Patmore, Coventry, 29, 163 
Pedigree of Mr. Buskin, 8 
Perth, 11, 12, 15, 17, 77, 110 
Photography, Mr. Ruskin's early 

use of, 104 
Pisa, 102, 297 
Plague wind, 375 
Poems by Mr. Ruskin, 22-28, 31, 

32, 35-45, 48, 53, 54, 69, 74, 99, 

100, 122, 218, 390 
Poems, Newdigate, 66-71 
' Poetry of Architecture,' 62-65 
Political Economy, 177, 191, 207, 

213, 222-224, 354; and see 

' Fors Clavigera,' ' Munera 

Pulveris,' St. George's Guild, 

'Time and Tide,' 'Unto this 

' Political Economy of Art,' 170 
Politics, Mr. Ruskin's attitude, 

233, 236, 354, 371 
Posting tours, 16, 31, 183, 310, 

319-321, 364 
'Praeterita,' 14, 31, 49, 193, 212, 

242, 282, 379, 386 
Pre-Raphaelitism, 130-134, 140, 

146, 156, 183 
Pringle, Thomas, 42, 43, 52 
' Proserpina,' 328, 363 
Prout, Samuel, 38, 42, 75, 91, 93, 

110, 134, 137 
Publishing arrangements of Mr. 

Ruskin, 92, 93, 105, 135, 294- 

295, 389-392 


' Queen of the Air,' 256-258, 390 

Railways, 137, 322 
Randall, Mr. Frank, 364 
Religious development, 18,52, 80, 

100, 101, 120, 124, 125, 181, 238, 

299-301, 325, 326, 358-361 , 
Reynolds, lectures on, 311 
Richardson families, 7, 8, 26 

, Charles, 28, 42 

, Jessie, 15, 23 

, Mary (Mrs. Bolding), 

26, 57, 112 
Richardson, Dr. Wm., 158 

, Mr. Wm., 384 

Richmond, George, R.A., 75, 82, 

88, 137, 172 
Richmond, Sir W. B., R.A., 369 
Roberts, David, R.A., 75, 183 
Robson, Mr. B. R., 366 
Rogers, Samuel, 38, 42, 82, 94, 

124, 138 
Rome, 75, 76, 82, 297 
Rooke, Mr. T., R.W.S., 344 
Ross family, 5, 8 
Rossetti, D. G., 130, 150-153, 197, 

225, 369 
Rossetti, T. P., 366 
Rowbotham, Mr., 35, 36 
Royal Academy, 46, 131, 154 

, Notes, 156, 183 

Royal Institution lectures, 197, 

241, 254, 268, 310 
Runciman, Mr., 33-35 
Ruskin family, 6-8, 44 
, Mr. John James, 7-12, 

16, 22, 38, 44, 45, 48, 68, 72, 

93, 94, 105, 112, 118, 135-137, 

144, 149, 160, 162, 174, 184, 

201-203, 211 
Ruskin, Mrs. (mother of John 

Ruskin), 9-15, 18, 20, 26, 52, 

57, 144, 160, 171, 212, 282, 283 
Ruskin Societies, 394, 401 
' Ruskin, Tennessee,' 395 
Rydings, Mr. E., 318 

St. Andrew's Rectorship, 282 
St. George's Guild, 289, 312-319, 
331, ^37, 383, 387 

' St. Mark's Rest,' 309, 389 

St. Ursula, 260, 325 

Sandgate, 385 

SausRure, 41, 50, 246 

Scottish origin of Mr. Ruskin, 

3-12, 18, 23, 28 [327 

Scott, Sir Walter, 23, 65, 108, 
Seascale, 386 
Seddon, Thomas, 169 
' Sesame and Lilies,' 213, 294 
'Seven Lamps,' 62, 110, 112 
Severn, Mr. Arthur, R.L, 279, 

292, 293, 297, 319, 364, 385 
Severn, Mrs. Arthur (Miss 

Agnew), 343, 385, 386, '400, 403 
Severn, Joseph, 52, 75, 103, 212, 

Sheffield communists, 317 
museum (St. George's), 

96, 315-317, 344, 363, 366, 387, 

Sillar, Mr. W. C, 290 
Sizeranne, M. Robert de la, 394 
Smetham, James, 160 
Smith, Elder and Co., 42, 93, lOi, 

135, 152, 196, 294 
Smith, Sydney, 105 
Socialism, 313, 395 
Somervell, Mr. R., 322 
Sorby, Dr. Clifton, 248 
South Kensington Museum 

lecture, 176 
Spurgeon, C. H., 124 
Stanfield, Clarkson, R.A., 91, 183 
Stillman, Mr. W. J., 194 
'Stones of Venice,' 119-128, 131, 

135, 140, 263, 389 
Stowe, Mrs. H. B., 194 
Street-sweeping, 293 
Swan, Henry, 316 
Swiss Towns, proposed history of, 

146, 181 

Talbot, Mrs. and Mr. Q., 318 
Talloires, 204, 367 
Taylor, Sir Henry, 94 
Tea-shop, 291 

Telford, Mr. Henry, 9, 16, 38 
Tennyson, 94, 281 
Thackeray, 196 



Thackeray, Miss (Mrs. Richmond 
Ritchie), 55 

Thomson, Mr. George, 318 

Thornbury, Walter, 136 

' Time and Tide,' 235-239, 245 

Tintoret, 103-105, 139, 266 

Tolstoi, 395 

Tovey, Harriet, 295 

Toynbee, Arnold, 309 

Trevelyan, Sir W. and Lady, 145, 

Tunbridge Wells, 27, 158, 176 

Turner, death of, 129, 136 

, Mr. Ruskin's study of, 

38-43, 45, 82, 87, 95, 99, 154, 
171-176, 192, -227, 362, 394 

Turner, Mr. Ruskin's defence of, 
46-48, 88-93, 144 

Turner, Mr. Ruskin's acquaint- 
ance with, 73, 98, 128 

Turner, Mr. Ruskin's executor- 
ship, 136, 172-175 

Turner, Mr. Ruskin's exhibition, 

Tweddale family, 6, 8 

'Two Paths,' 183, 333 

Tyrwhitt, Rev. R. St. J., 277, 

University College, London, 

lecture, 257 
' Unto this last,' 195, 223 


Venice, 43, 48, 76, 102-104, 119- 

121, 135-140, 259, 264,297, 323- 

325, 393 
Vere, Mr. Aubrey de, 94 
Verona, 43, 263-266 
Vivisection, 258, 378 

Waldensians, 181, 182, 366 

Wales, 34, 35 

Ward, Rev. J. Clifton, 329 

, Mr. W., 152, 153, 155 

Waterloo, 17, 27 
Watts, G. F., E.A., 197, 405 
Wedderburn, Mr. A. D. 0., 264 
Whistler, Mr. J. McN., 336 
Wniett, Mr. Henry, 249, 329, 333 
Windus, Mr., 88 
Winnington, 197, 215-221 
Withers, Charlotte, 64 
Woolwich lectures, 224, 268, 278. 

Working Men's College, 150-156, 

168, 201, 210 
Wornum, R. N., 172, 173 

'Xenophon's Economist,' 309-311 

' Tewdale ' lecture, 329 
Yule, Mrs. and Miss, 304 

Zermatt, 96, 115 










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Balfour (Andrew). VENGEANCE IS 

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Eliot (aeorge), THE MILL ON THE 

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