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FORS CLAVIGERA 



LETTERS 



TO THE WORKMEN AND LABOURERS 
OF GREAT BRITAIN. 



r.v 



JOHN RUSKIN, LL.D., 

HONORARY STUDENT OF CHRIST CHURCH, AND SLADE PROFESSOR OF FINE ART. 



Vol. VIII. 




GEORGE ALLEN, 
SUNNYSIDE, ORPINGTON, KENT. 

1878-80-83-84. 






FORS CLAVIGERA 

SECOND SERIES. 
CONTENTS OF VOL. VIII. 






I. Unique Dogmatism. 
II. Let us (all) Eat and Drink. 

III. The Snow-Manger. 

IV. The Convents of St. Quentin. 
V. Whose Fault is it ? 

VI. Lost Jewels. 
VII. Dust of Gold. 
VIII. Ashestiel. 
IX. Invocation. 
X. Retrospect. 
XL Fors Infantle. 
XII. Rosy Vale. 



Janua?y, 1878. 
February, 1878. 
March, 1878. 
March, 1880. 
September, 1880. 
May, 1883. 
September, 1883. 
November, 1883. 
Christmas, 1883. 
March, 1884. 
October, 1884. 
Christmas, 1884. 



FORS CLAVIGERA 

SECOND SERIES. 



" YEA, THE WORK OF OUR HANDS, ESTABLISH THOU IT." 



LETTER THE 85th. 

UNIQUE DOGMATISM. 

THE series of letters which closed last year were 
always written, as from the first they were intended to 
be, on any matter which chanced to interest me, and 
in any humour which chance threw me into. By the 
adoption of the title ' Fors/ I meant (among other 
meanings) to indicate this desultory and accidental 
character of the work ; and to imply, besides, my 
feeling, that, since I wrote wholly in the interests of 
others, it might justifiably be hoped that the chance 
to which I thus submitted myself would direct me 
better than any choice or method of my own. 

So far as regards the subjects of this second series 
of letters, I shall retain my unfettered method, in 
reliance on the direction of better wisdom than mine. 
But in my former letters, I also allowed myself to 
write on each subject, whatever came into my mind, 

2ND SERIES, I.] I 



2 Fors Clavigera. 

wishing the reader, like a friend, to know exactly what 
my mind was. But as no candour will explain this to 
persons who have no feelings in common with me, — 
and as I think, by this time, enough has been shown 
to serve all purposes of such frankness, to those who 
can receive it, — henceforward, I shall endeavour to 
write, so far as I can judge, what may be serviceable 
to the reader, or acceptable by him ; and only in 
some occasional and minor way, what may explain, or 
indulge, my own feelings. 

Such change in my method of address is farther 
rendered necessary, because I perceive the address must 
be made to a wider circle of readers. 

This book was begun in the limited effort to gather 
a society together for the cultivation of ground in a 
particular way ; — a society having this special business, 
and no concern with the other work of the world. But 
the book has now become a call to all whom it can 
reach, to choose between being honest or dishonest ; 
and if they choose to be honest, also to join together 
in a brotherhood separated, visibly and distinctly, from 
cheats and liars. And as I felt more and more led into 
this wider appeal, it has also been shown to me that, 
in this country of England, it must be made under 
obedience to the Angel of England ; — the Spirit which 
taught our fathers their Faith, and which is still 
striving with us in our Atheism. And since this was 
shown to me, I have taken all that I understand of 



Fors Clavigera. 3 

the Book which our fathers believed to be divine, not, 
as in former times, only to enforce, on those who still 
believed it, obedience to its orders ; but indeed for help 
and guidance to the whole body of our society. 

The exposition of this broader law mingling more 
and more frequently in my past letters with that of 
the narrow action of St. George's Guild for the 
present help of our British peasantry, has much 
obscured the simplicity of that present aim, and raised 
up crowds of collateral questions, in debate of which 
the reader becomes doubtful of the Tightness of even 
what might otherwise have been willingly approved by 
him : while, to retard his consent yet farther, I am com- 
pelled, by the accidents of the time, to allege certain 
principles ,of work which only my own long study of 
the results of the Art of Man upon his mind enable 
me to know for surety ; and these are peculiarly 
offensive in an epoch which has long made — not only 
all its Arts mercenary, but even those mercenary forms 
of them subordinate to yet more servile occupations. 

For example ; I might perhaps, with some success, 
have urged the purchase and cultivation of waste land, 
and the orderly and kindly distribution of the food 
produced upon it, had not this advice been coupled 
with the discussion of the nature of Rent, and the 
assertion of the God-forbidden guilt of that Usury, of 
which Rent is the fatal lest form. And even if, in 
subtlety, I had withheld, or disguised, these deeper 



Fors Clavizera 



,v 



underlying laws, I should still have alienated the 
greater number of my possible adherents by the 
refusal to employ steam machinery, which may well 
bear, to the minds of persons educated in the midst 
of such mechanism, the aspect of an artist's idle and 
unrealizable prejudice. And this all the more, because 
the greater number of business-men, finding that their 
own opinions have been adopted without reflection, yet 
being perfectly content with the opinions so acquired, 
naturally suppose that mine have been as confidently 
collected where they could be found with least pains : — 
with the farther equally rational conclusion, that the 
opinions they have thus accidentally picked up them- 
selves are more valuable and better selected than the 
by no means obviously preferable faggot of., mine. 

And, indeed, the thoughts of a man who from his 
youth up, and during a life persistently literary, has 
never written a word either for money or for vanity, 
nor even in the careless incontinence of the instinct 
for self-expression, but resolutely spoken only to teach 
or to praise others, must necessarily be incomprehen- 
sible in an age when Christian preaching itself has 
become merely a polite and convenient profession, — 
when the most noble and living literary faculties, like 
those of Scott and Dickens, are perverted by the will 
of the multitude, and perish in the struggle for its gold ; 
and when the conceit even of the gravest men of 
science provokes them to the competitive exhibition 



Fors Clavigera. 5 

of their conjectural ingenuity, in fields where argument 
is impossible, and respecting matters on which even 
certainty would be profitless. 

I believe, therefore, that it will be satisfactory to 
not a few of my readers, and generally serviceable, if I 
reproduce, and reply to, a portion of a not unfriendly 
critique which, appearing in the 'Spectator' for 22nd 
September, 1877, sufficiently expressed this general 
notion of my work, necessarily held by men who are 
themselves writing and talking merely for profit or 
amusement, and have never taken the slightest pains 
to ascertain whether any single thing they say is true : 
nor are under any concern to know whether, after it 
has been sold in the permanent form of print, it will 
do harm or good to the buyer of it. 

" Mr. Ruskin's unique dogmatism. 

" As we have often had occasion, if not exactly to remark, yet 
to imply, in what we have said of him, Mr. Ruskin is a very 
curious study. For simplicity, quaintness, and candour, his con- 
fidences to ' the workmen and labourers of Great Britain ' in 
1 Fors Clavigera ' are quite without example. For delicate irony 
of style, when he gets a subject that he fully understands, and 
intends to expose the ignorance, or, what is much worse, the 
affectation of knowledge which is not knowledge, of others, no 
man is his equal. But then as. curious as anything else, in that 
strange medley of sparkling jewels, delicate spider-webs, and 
tangles of exquisite fronds which makes " (the writer should be 
on his guard against the letter s in future passages of this descrip- 
tive character) " up Mr. Ruskin's mind, is the high-handed arro- 



JFors C la viper a. 



gance which is so strangely blended with his imperious modesty, 
and that, too, often when it is most grotesque. It is not, indeed, 
his arrogance, but his modest self-knowledge which speaks, when 
he says in this new number of the ' Fors ' that though there are 
thousands of men in England able to conduct the business affairs 
of his Society better than he can, 'I do not believe there is 
another man in England able to organize our elementary lessons 
in Natural History and Art. And I am therefore wholly occupied 
in examining the growth of Anagallis tenella, and completing some 
notes on St. George's Chapel at Venice.' And no doubt he is 
quite right. Probably no one could watch the growth of Ana- 
gallis tenella to equal purpose, and no one else could complete 
his notes on St. George's Chapel without spoiling them. We are 
equally sure that he is wise, when he tells his readers that he must 
entirely decline any manner of political action which might hinder 
him 'from drawing leaves and flowers.' But what does astonish 
us is the supreme confidence, — or say, rather, hurricane of dicta- 
torial passion, — though we do not use the word ' passion ' in the 
sense of anger or irritation, but in the higher sense of mental 
white-heat, which has no vexation in it, (a) — with which this 
humble student of leaves and flowers, of the Anagallis tenella 
and the beauties of St. George's Chapel at Venice, passes judg- 
ment on the whole structure of human society, from its earliest 
to its latest convolutions, and not only judgment, but the 
sweeping judgment of one who knows all its laws of structure 
and all its misshapen growths with a sort of assurance which 
Mr. Ruskin would certainly never feel in relation to the true 
form, or the distortions of the true form, of the most minute 
fibre of one of his favourite leaves or flowers. Curiously enough, 
the humble learner of Nature speaking through plants and trees, 

(a) I don't understand. Probably there is not another so 
much vexed person as I at present extant of his grave. 



Fors Clavipera. 



<v 



is the most absolute scorner of Nature speaking through the 
organization of great societies and centuries of social expe- 
rience, {b) We know well what Mr. Ruskin would say, — that 
the difference is great between the growth that is without moral 
freedom and the growth which has been for century after cen- 
tury distorted by the reckless abuse of moral freedom. And 
we quite admit the radical difference. But what strikes us as 
so strange is that this central difficulty of all, — how much is 
really due to the structural growth of a great society, and quite 
independent of any voluntary abuse which might be amended 
by voluntary effort, and how much is due to the false direc- 
tion of individual wills, never strikes Mr. Ruskin as a difficulty 
at all. (e) On the contrary, he generalizes in his sweeping way, 
on social tendencies which appear to be (d) far more deeply 
ingrained in the very structure of human life than the veins of 
a leaf in the structure of a plant, with a confidence with which 
he would never for a moment dream of generalizing as to the 
true and normal growth of a favourite plant. Thus he tells us 
in the last number of Fors that ' Fors Clavigera is not in any 
way intended as counsel adapted to the present state of the 
public mind, but it is the assertor of the code of eternal laws 
which the public mind must eventually submit itself to, or die ; 
and I have really no more to do with the manners, customs, 
feelings, or modified conditions of piety in the modern England, 
which I have to warn of the accelerated approach either of 

(I?) It would be curious, and much more, if it only were so. 

[c — Italics mine.) On what grounds did the writer suppose 
this ? When Dr. Christison analyzes a poison, and simply states 
his result, is it to be concluded he was struck by no difficulties 
in arriving at it, because he does not advise the public of his 
embarrassments ? 

(d) What does it matter what they appear to be ? 



8 Fors Clavigera. 

Revolution or Destruction, than poor Jonah had with the 
qualifying amiabilities which might have been found in the 
Nineveh whose overthrow he was ordered to foretell in forty 
days.' But the curious part of the matter is that Mr. Ruskin, 
far from keeping to simple moral laws, denounces in the most 
vehement manner social arrangements which seem to most men (e) 
as little connected with them as they would have seemed to 
'poor Jonah.' We are not aware, for instance, that Jonah 
denounced the use of machinery in Nineveh. Indeed, he 
seems to have availed himself of a ship, which is a great com- 
plication of machines, and to have ' paid his fare ' from Joppa 
to Tyre, without supposing himself to have been accessory to 
anything evil in so doing. We are not aware, too, that Jonah 
held it to be wrong, as Mr. Ruskin holds it to be wrong, to 
charge for the use of a thing when you do not want to part 
with it altogether. These are practices which are so essentially 
interwoven alike with the most fundamental as also with the 
most superficial principles of social growth, that any one who 
assumes that they are rooted in moral evil is bound to be very 
careful to discriminate where the evil begins, and show that it 
can be avoided, — just as a naturalist who should reproach the 
trees on a hill-side for sloping away from the blast they have 
to meet, should certainly first ask himself how the trees are to 
avoid the blast, or how, if they cannot avoid it, they are to help 
so altering their growth as to accommodate themselves to it. 
But Mr. Ruskin, though in relation to nature he is a true 
naturalist, in relation to human nature has in him nothing at 
all of the human naturalist. It never occurs to him apparently 
that here, too, are innumerable principles of growth which are 
quite independent of the will of man, and that it becomes the 
highest moralist to study humbly where the influence of the 

(e) What does it matter what they ' seem to most men ' ? 



Fors Clavigera. 



•V 



human will begins and where it ends, instead of rashly and 
Bweepingly condemning, as due to a perverted morality, what 
is in innumerable cases a mere inevitable result of social struc- 
ture. (/) 

" Consider only how curiously different in spirit is the humility 
with which the great student of the laws of beauty watches the 
growth of the Anagallis tenella, and that with which he watches 
the growth of the formation of human opinion. A correspondent 
had objected to him that he speaks so contemptuously of some 
of the most trusted leaders of English workmen, of Goldwin 
Smith, for instance, and of John Stuart Mill. Disciples of such 
leaders, the writer had said, ' are hurt and made angry, when 
names which they do not like are used of their leaders.' Mr. 
Ruskin's reply is quite a study in its way : — 

'Well, my dear sir, I solemnly declare,' etc., down to 'ditches 
for ever.' — See Fors, September, 1877. 

Now observe that here Mr. Ruskin, who would follow the 
lines of a gossamer-thread sparkling in the morning dew with 
reverent wonder and conscientious accuracy, arraigns, first, the 
tendency of man to express immature and tentative views of 

(/) To this somewhat lengthily metaphorical paragraph, the 
needful answer may be brief, and without metaphor. To every 
' social structure ' which has rendered either wide national crime 
or wide national folly ' inevitable ' — ruin is also ' inevitable.' 
Which is all I have necessarily to say ; and which has been by 
me, now, very sorrowfully, — enough said. Nevertheless, some- 
what more may be observed of England at this time, — namely, 
that she has no ' social structure ' whatsoever j but is a mere 
heap of agonizing human maggots, scrambling and sprawling 
over each other for any manner of rotten eatable thing they can 
get a bite of. 



io Fors Clavigera 



& 



passing events, (g) as if that were wholly due, not to a law of 
human nature, ! ! (h) but to those voluntary abuses of human 
freedom which might as effectually be arrested as murder or 
theft could be arrested by moral effort ; next arraigns, if not the 
discovery of the printing press (of which any one would suppose 
that he entertained a stern disapprobation), at least the inevi- 
table (/) results of that discovery, precisely as he would arraign 
a general prevalence of positive vice ; and last of all, that he 
actually claims the power, as an old litterateur, to discern at 
sight ' what is eternally good and vital, and to strike away from 
it pitilessly what is worthless and venomous.' On the first two 
heads, as it seems to us, Mr. Ruskin arraigns laws of nature 
as practically unchangeable as any by which the sap rises in 
the tree and the blossom forms upon the flower. On the last 
head, he assumes a tremendous power in relation to subjects 
very far removed from these which he has made his own, " 

(g) I have never recognized any such tendency in persons 
moderately well educated. What is their education for — if it 
cannot prevent their expressing immature views about anything ? 

(/z) I insert tw r o notes of admiration. What ' law of human 
nature' shall we hear of next? If it cannot keep its thoughts 
in its mind, till they are digested, — I suppose we shall next hear 
it cannot keep its dinner in its stomach. 

(z ) There is nothing whatever of inevitable in the ' universal 
gabble of fools,' which is the lamentable fact I have alleged 
of the present times, whether they gabble with or without the 
help of printing-press. The power of saying a very foolish 
thing to a very large number of people at once, is of course 
a greater temptation to a foolish person than he was formerly 
liable to ; but when the national mind, such as it is, becomes 
once aware of the mischief of all this, it is evitable enough — 
else there were an end to popular intelligence in the world. 



Fors Clavi«era. I i 



w & 



1 have lost the next leaf of the article, and may 

as well, it seems to me, close my extract here, for I 
do not know what subject the writer conceives me to 
have made my own, if not the quality of literature ! 
If I am ever allowed, by public estimate, to know any- 
thing whatever, it is — how to write. My knowledge of 
painting is entirely denied by ninety-nine out of a 
hundred painters of the day ; but the literary men are 
great hypocrites if they don't really think me, as they 
profess to do, fairly up to my work in that line. And 
what would an old litterateur be good for, if he did 
not know good writing from bad, and that without 
tasting more than a half page. And for the moral 
tendency of books — no such practised sagacity is needed 
to determine that. The sense, to a healthy mind, of 
being strengthened or enervated by reading, is just as 
definite and unmistakeable as the sense, to a healthy 
body, of being in fresh or foul air : and no more 
arrogance is involved in perceiving the stench, and 
forbidding the reading of an unwholesome book, than 
in a physician's ordering the windows to be opened in 
a sick room. There is no question whatever concern- 
ing these matters, with any person who honestly desires 
to be informed about them ; — the real arrogance is 
only in expressing judgments, either of books or any- 
thing else, respecting which we have taken no trouble to 
be informed. Here is my friend of the ' Spectator,' for 
instance, commenting complacently on the vulgar gossip 



1 2 Fors C lav i vera 



cV 



about my opinions of machinery, without even taking 
the trouble to look at what I said, else he would have 
found that, instead of condemning machinery, there is 
the widest and most daring plan in Fors for the 
adaptation of tide-mills to the British coasts that has 
yet been dreamt of in engineering ; and that, so far 
from condemning ships, half the physical education of 
British youth is proposed by Fors to be conducted in 
them. 

What the contents of Fors really are, however, it is 
little wonder that even my most studious friends do 
not at present know, broken up as these materials have 
been into a mere moraine of separate and seemingly 
jointless stones, out of which I must now build such 
Cyclopean wall as I shall have time and strength 
for. Therefore, during some time at least, the main 
business of this second series of letters will be only 
the arrangement for use, and clearer illustration, of the 
scattered contents of the first. 

And I cannot begin with a more important subject, 
or one of closer immediate interest, than that of the 
collection of rain, and management of streams. On 
this subject, I expect a series of papers from my friend 
Mr. Henry Willett, containing absolutely verified data : 
in the meantime I beg the reader to give his closest 
attention to the admirable statements by M. Viollet- 
le-Duc, given from the new English translation of his 
book on Mont Blanc, in the seventh article of our 



Fors Clavigera. 13 

Correspondence. I have before had occasion to speak 
with extreme sorrow of the errors in the theoretical 
parts of this work : but its practical intelligence is 
admirable. 



Just in time, I get Mr. Willett's first sheet. His 
preface is too valuable to be given without some farther 
comment, but this following bit may serve us for this 
month : 

" The increased frequency in modern days of upland 
floods appears to be due mainly to the increased want 
of the retention of the rainfall. Now it is true of all 
drainage matters that man has complete power over 
them at the beginning, where they are widely dissemi- 
nated, and it is only when by the uniting ramifications 
over large areas a great accumulation is produced, that 
man becomes powerless to deal satisfactorily with it. 
Nothing ever is more senseless than the direct contra- 
vention of Nature's laws by the modern system of 
gathering together into one huge polluted stream the 
sewage of large towns. The waste and expense in- 
curred, first in collecting, and then in attempting to 
separate and to apply to the land the drainage of large 
towns, seems a standing instance of the folly and per- 
versity of human arrangements, and it can only be 
accounted for by the interest which attaches to the spending 
of large sums of money." (Italics mine.) 



14 Fors Clavigera. 

" It may be desirable at some future time to revert 
to this part of the subject, and to suggest the natural, 
simple, and inexpensive alternative plan. 

11 To return to the question of floods caused by rain- 
fall only. The first and completely remunerating ex- 
penditure should be for providing tanks of filtered water 
for human drinking, etc., and reservoirs for cattle and 
manufacturing purposes, in the upland valleys and moor- 
land glens which form the great collecting grounds of 
all the water which is now wastefully permitted to flow 
either into underground crevices and natural reservoirs, 
that it may be pumped up again at an enormous waste 
of time, labour, and money, or neglectfully permitted to 
deluge the habitations of which the improper erection 
on sites liable to flooding has been allowed. 

" To turn for a moment to the distress and incurred 
expense in summer from want of the very same water 
which has been wasted in winter, I will give three or 
four instances which have come under my own know- 
ledge. In the summer of 1876 I was put on shore 
from a yacht a few miles west of Swanage Bay, in 
Dorsetshire, and then, walking to the nearest village, I 
wanted to hire a pony-chaise from the landlady of the 
only inn, but she was obliged absolutely to refuse me 
because the pony was already overworked by having to 
drag water for the cows a perpendicular distance of 
from two hundred to three hundred feet from the valley 
beneath. Hardly a rain-shoot, and no reservoir, could 



Fors Clavigera. 15 

be seen. A highly intelligent gentleman in Sussex, 
the year before, remarked, ' I should not regret the 
rain coming and spoiling the remainder of my harvest, 
as it would thereby put an end to the great expense I 
am at in drawing water from the river for my flock 
of sheep.' In the village of Farnborough, Kent, there 
are two wells : one at the Hall, 1 60 feet deep, and a 
public one at the north-west of the village. In summer 
a man gets a good living by carting the water for the 
poor people, charging id. for six gallons, and earning 
from 2s. 6d. to 3^. a day. One agricultural labourer 
pays $d. a week for his family supply in summer. ' He 
could catch more off his own cottage, but the spouts 
are out of order, and the landlord won't put them right.' 
I know a farmer in Sussex who, having a seven-years' 
lease of some downland, at his own expense built a 
small tank which cost him £30. He told me at the end 
of his lease the farm would be worth ^30 per annum 
more, because of the tank. The Earl of Chichester, 
who has most wisely and successfully grappled with the 
subject, says that ;£ioo per annum is not an unfrequent 
expenditure by individual farmers for the carting of 
water in summer-time. 

" In my next I will give, by his lordship's kind per- 
mission, a detailed account and plan of his admirable 
method of water supply, superseding wells and pump- 
ing." 



NOTES AND CORRESPONDENCE. 



I. Affairs of the Company. 

I never was less able to give any account of these, for the 
last month has been entirely occupied with work in Oxford ; 
the Bank accounts cannot be in my hands till the year's end ; 
the business at Abbeydale can in no wise be put on clear 
footing till our Guild is registered ; and I have just been- 
warned of some farther modifications needful in our memo- 
randum for registry. 

But I was completely convinced last year that, fit or unfit, 
I must take all these things in hand myself; and I do not 
think the leading article of our Correspondence will remain, 
after the present month, so wholly unsatisfactory. 

II. Affairs of the Master. (12th December, 1877.) 

Since I last gave definite statements of these, showing that 
in cash I had only some twelve thousand pounds left, the 
sale of Turner's drawings, out of the former collection of 
Mr. Munro, of Novar, took place ; and I considered it my duty, 
for various reasons, to possess myself of Caernarvon Castle, 
Leicester Abbey, and the Bridge of Narni ; the purchase of 
which, with a minor acquisition or two besides, reduced my 
available cash, by my banker's account yesterday, to ,£10,223, 
that being the market value of my remaining ^"4000- Bank 
Stock. I have directed them to sell this stock, and buy 

2ND SERIES, I.] 2 



1 8 Notes and Correspo?idence . 

me £9 000 New Threes instead ; by which operation I at 
once lose about sixty pounds a year of interest, (in conformity 
with my views already enough expressed on that subject,) and 
I put a balance of something over ^1500 in the Bank, to 
serve St. George and me till we can look about us a little. 

Both the St. George's and my private account will hence- 
forward be rendered by myself, with all clearness possible to 
me ; but they will no longer be allowed to waste the space of 
Fors. They will be forwarded on separate sheets to the Com- 
panions, and be annually purchaseable by the public. 

I further stated, in last year's letters, that at the close of 
1877 I should present my Marylebone property to St. George 
for a Christmas gift, without interfering with Miss Octavia Hill's 
management of it. But this piece of business, like everything 
else I try to do just now, has its own hitches ; the nature of 
which will be partly understood on reading some recent corre- 
spondence between Miss Hill and myself, which I trust may- 
be closed, and in form presentable, next month. The trans- 
ference of the property will take place all the same ; but it 
will be seen to have become questionable how far Miss Hill 
may now consent to retain her control over the tenants. 

III. We cannot begin the New Year under better auspices 
than are implied in the two following letters. 

To Mr. John Ruskin, LL.D. 

" Honoured Sir, — I send ten shillings, which I beg you to 
accept as a gift for your St. George's Fund. The sum is small, 
but I have been thinking that as you are now bringing some 
plots of land into cultivation, that even so small a sum, if spent 
in the purchase of two or three apple or other fruit trees suitable 
to the locality, they might be pointed to, in a few years' time, 



Notes and Correspondence. 19 

to show what had been the result of a small sum, when wisely 
deposited in the Bank of Nature. 

" Yours very Respectfully, 
" A Garden Workman, 

" This day 80 years old, 

" Joseph Stapleton. 

" November 2$t/i, 1877." 

(The apple-trees will be planted in Worcestershire, and kept 
separate note of.) 

" Cloughton Moor, near Scarborough, 
November 15, 1877. 

" Dear Master, — We have delayed answering your very kind 
letter, for which we were very grateful, thinking that soon we 
should be hearing again from Mr. Bagshawe, because we had 
a letter from him the same day that we got yours, asking for 
particulars of the agreement between myself and Dr. Rooke. 
I answered him by return of post, requesting him likewise to 
get the affair settled as soon as convenient ; but we have not 
heard anything since. But we keep working away, and have 
got the house and some of the land a bit shapely, We are 
clearing, and intend closing, about sixteen hundred yards of 
what we think the most suitable and best land for a garden, 
and shall plant a few currant and gooseberry bushes in, I hope 
directly, if the weather keeps favourable. In wet weather we 
repair the cottage indoors, and all seems to go on very nicely. 
The children enjoy it very much, and so do we too, for you 
see we are all together — ' father's always at home.' I shall never 
be afraid of being out of work again, there is so much to do ; 
and I think it will pay, too. Of course it will be some time 
before it returns anything, excepting tired limbs, and the satis- 
faction that it is, and looks, better. We intend rearing poultry, 
and have a cow, perhaps, when we get something to ^.rov to 



20 Notes and Correspondence. 

feed them with j and to that intent I purpose preparing stone 
this winter to build an outbuilding for them in the spring-time. 
I can do it all myself — the working part ; but should require 
help to purchase lime and timber, but not yet. We shall try 
our best to work and make our arrangements suit your views 
as far as we understand them, and anything you could like us 
to do, we shall be glad to perform. " Yours truly, 

" John Guy. 

" Our gross earnings for the year is ^54 iSs. $^d. Our 
expenses this year have been heavy, with two removals, but we 
have a balance of ^n after paying tenth, for which we enclose 
Post Office order for ^5 gs. 10^. We have plenty of clothing 
and shoes and fuel to serve us the winter through ; so Mary says 
we can do very well until spring." 

IV. The following important letters set the question raised 
about the Bishops' returns of income at rest. I need scarcely 
point out how desirable it would be for these matters to be 
put on so simple footing as to leave no ground for misappre- 
hension by the common people. ' Disingenuousness ' which the 
writer suspects in the ' Humanitarian ' is not usually a fault of 
the lower orders; nor do they ever fail in respect to a good 
and active clergyman. 

"November 28, 1877. 
" Dear Mr. Ruskin, — I see from the November Fors that 
you ask for further explanation of some figures published by a 
' Humanitarian,' of Bishopwearmouth, touching the Bishops' 
incomes of thirty-nine years ago. 'The apparent discrepancy 
between the actual and alleged incomes is very easily explained. 
The larger figures are not, and are not said to be, the incomes 
of the Bishops at all. The estates were then let on 'beneficial ' 
leases ; and the people who held these leases, generally country 



Notes and Correspondence. 21 

squires, were the real owners of the lands, paying to the Bishops 
ancient nominal rents, and occasional lump sums (' fines '), when 
the leases were renewed. The big sums, therefore, are the 
estimated rental of the lands — that is, e.g., in the case of York 
the ,£41,030 represent the rents paid to the country gentlemen 
by their tenants, and the ,£13,798 is the average, one year with 
another, of what the squires paid to the Archbishop in rents 
and fines. The difference, of course, represents the value of 
the lands to the squires. What the figures really show, there- 
fore, is the amount of Church property which, little by little, 
in the course of centuries, through a bad system of tenure, had 
got into the hands of laymen. This bad system has been long 
abolished, under the operation of divers laws passed in 1841, 
and later; and the Bishops have now, as your other table 
shows, much-reduced and unvarying income." 

" It may help you to see how the proportions (in the case of 
different Bishops) of the Bishops' receipts to value of lands, 
vary so much, when I explain that the average episcopal income 
was required, in the forms issued by the Royal Commission, to 
be made out from the actual receipts of a specified period — 
seven years, I think.* Now the separate leaseholds were of 
very various values, some big and some little, and it would 
often happen that several years elapsed without any big ' fine ' 
falling in j and then there might come, in quick succession, the 
renewals of three or four very valuable estates, thus raising 
immensely the average for those particular years. Hence every 
Bishop's return, though accurately given as required, was a very 
rough average, though the return, taken as a whole — that is, as 
regards all the sees together — gave a fair view of the facts. 
The ins and outs of the affair, you see, can only be understood 

* The term had necessarily to be moderate, as it would have been useless 
to ask a Bishop as to the receipts of his predecessor. 



22 Notes and Correspondence. 

by people familiar with the working of the now obsolete system. 
I therefore in my last note abstained from saying more than 
was just sufficient to indicate the blunder, or disingenuousness, 
of the pamphleteer, knowing that it would be useless to burden 
your pages with farther details. To any one who knows the 
facts, the large figures given as the apparent incomes of Bishops 
are simply ludicrous. No Bishop ever had any income ap- 
proaching to ^50,000. That of the late Bishop Sumner, of 
Winchester, was always quoted as exorbitantly vast, and it was 
about ;£i 9,000. I know privately that the late Archbishop of 
Canterbury, with his ^15,000 a year, left his family the noble 
fortune of £600 per annum ! " 

V. "The fate of Cyfarthfa. — Mr. Crawshay has put a 
summary end to all rumours as to the possibility of a start at 
Cyfarthfa. One of his old servants, says the ' Western Mail,' 
wrote to him lately on matters apart from the iron-works ; but 
in the course of his letter he asked his old master whether 
there were any hopes of the works being again started. The 
reply from Mr. Crawshay was as follows : ' Trade is worse 
than ever it was, and I see not the slightest chance of Cy- 
farthfa starting again ; and I believe if it ever does start it 
will be under different circumstances to the present, as it will 
require a large sum to be laid out in improvements, such as 
making steel-works, etc. I am too near my grave to think of 
doing anything of the sort ; and I think so badly of trade 
altogether that I have no wish to see my sons remain in it. 
I am feeling very poorly, and do not think I can possibly 
live very long, and if I am able I shall sell the works before 
I die. There is nothing now to bind me to them, for I have 
been estranged from them by the conduct of the men. I 
always hoped and expected to die with the works going, and 
the same feeling among the men for their employers j but things 



Notes and Correspondence. 23 

have changed, and all is different, and I go to my grave feeling 
I am a perfect stranger, as all my old men are gone, or nearly 
so.' " 

"9, Stevenson Square, Manchester, 
gt/i October, 1877. 

" My dear Sir, — Could you have thought, did you expect, 
that such an utter vindication of your words would embody 
itself in this form ? " T. W. P. 

"J. Ruskin, Esq." 

Yes, my friend, I not only expected, but knew positively 
that such vindication, not of my words only, but of the words 
of all the servants of God, from the beginning of days, would 
assuredly come, alike in this, and in other yet more terrible, 
"forms. But it is to be noted that there are four quite distinct 
causes operating in the depression of English, — especially iron, 
— trade, of which two are our own fault ; and the other two, 
being inevitable, should have been foreseen long since, by 
even the vulgar sagacity of self-interest. 

The first great cause is the separation between masters and 
men, which is wholly the masters' fault, and the necessary 
result of the defiance of every moral law of human relation 
by modern political economy. 

The second is the loss of custom, in consequence of bad 
work — also a result of the teaching of modern political economy. 

The third, affecting especially the iron trade, is that the 
funds which the fools of Europe had at their disposal, with 
which to build iron bridges instead of wooden ones, put up 
spike railings instead of palings, and make machines in sub- 
stitution for their arms and legs, are now in a great degree 
exhausted ; and by the time the rails are all rusty, the bridges 
snapped, and the machines found to reap and thresh no more 
corn than arms did, the fools of Europe will have learned a 



24 Notes and Correspondence, 

lesson or two which will not be soon forgotten, even by them ; 
and the iron trade will be slack enough, thereafter. 

The fourth cause of trade depression, — bitter to the hearts 
of the persons whom Mr. Spencer Herbert calls patriots, — is, 
that the inhabitants of other countries have begun to perceive 
that they have got hands as well as we — and possibly, in 
some businesses, even better hands ; and that they may just 
as well make their own wares as buy them of us. Which 
wholesome discovery of theirs will in due time mercifully put 
an end to the British ideal of life in the National Shop ; 
and make it at last plain to the British mind that the cliffs 
of Dover were not constructed by Providence merely to be 
made a large counter. 

VI. The following paper by Professor VV. J. Beal is sent me 
by a correspondent from a New York journal. The reader is 
free to attach such weight to it as he thinks proper. The 
passage about the Canada thistle is very grand. 

" Interest money is a heavy tax on many people of the United 
States. There is no other burden in the shape of money which 
weighs down like interest, unless it be money spent for intoxi- 
cating liquors. Men complain of high State taxes, of school- 
taxes, and taxes for bridges, sewers, (? grading,) and for building 
churches. For some of these they are able to see an equivalent, 
but for money paid as interest — for the use of money, few 
realize or gain (? guess) what it costs. It is an expensive luxury 
to pay for the mere privilege of handling what does not belong 
to you. People are likely to overestimate your wealth, and 
(make you ?) pay more taxes than you ought to. 

" In most parts of our new country, ten per cent, per annum, 
or more, is paid for the use of money. A shrewd business man 
may reasonably make it pay to live at this rate for a short 
time, but even such men often fail to make it profitable. It 



Notes and Correspondence, 25 

is an uncommon thing for any business to pay a sure and safe 
return of ten per cent, for any length of time. The profits 
of great enterprises, like railroads, manufactories of iron, cloth, 
farm-implements, etc., etc., are so variable, so fluctuating, that 
it is difficult to tell their average profit, or the average profit 
of any one of them. We know it is not uncommon for rail- 
roads to go into the hands of a receiver, because they cannot 
pay the interest on their debts. Factories stop, and often go 
to decay, because they cannot pay running expenses. Often 
they cannot continue without losing money, to say nothing 
about the interest on the capital. Merchants seldom can pay 
ten per cent, on large amounts for any length of time. Even 
six per cent, is a heavy tax on any kind of business. 

" But it was not of these classes that I intended to speak 
at this time. The writer has been most of his life among 
farmers, and has had unusual opportunities for studying their 
management of finances. It may be worse in a new country 
than in an old one, but so far as my knowledge extends, a 
latge majority of the farms of Michigan are covered by a mort- 
gage. The farmer needs capital to" buy sheep, cattle, tools j to 
build houses and barns, and to clear and prepare land for crops. 
He is very likely to underestimate the cost of a farm, and 
what it takes to stock it properly. He invests all his money, 
and perhaps runs in debt, for his land alone, leaving nothing 
with which to furnish it. Quite often he buys more land 
before he has money to pay for it, or even before he has paid 
off the mortgage on his present farm. Times may be easy; 
crops may be good, and high in price, for a few years. He 
overestimates his ability to make money, and runs in debt. 
Fortune changes. He has ' bad luck,' and the debt grows larger 
instead of smaller. 

u Farming is a safe business, but even this has its dark 
side. Good crops are by no means sure, even with good 



26 Notes and Correspondence. 

culture. Blight, drought, insects, fire, sickness, and other cala- 
mities may come when least expected, and with a large debt 
overwhelm the hopeful farmer. 

" I have never seen a farm that for several years together 
paid ten per cent, interest on the capital invested. In an old 
scrap-book I find the following : ' No blister draws sharper 
than does the interest. Of all industries, none is comparable 
to that of interest. It works all day and night, in fair weather 
and in foul. It has no sound in its footsteps, but travels fast. 
It gnaws at a man's substance with invisible teeth. It binds 
industry with its film, as a fly is bound in the spider's web. 
Debts roll a man over and over, binding him hand and foot, 
and letting him hang upon the fatal mesh until the long-legged 
interest devours him. There is but one thing on a farm like 
it, and that is the Canada thistle, which swarms with new plants 
every time you break its roots, whose blossoms are prolific, and 
every flower the father of a million seeds. Every leaf is an 
awl, every branch a spear, and every plant like a platoon of 
bayonets, and a field of them like an armed host. The whole 
plant is a torment and a vegetable curse. And yet, a farmer 
had better make his bed of Canada thistles than to be at ease 
upon interest.' 

" There are some exceptions to the general rule, that no 
man should run in debt. It may be better for one to owe 
something on a house and lot than to move from house to 
house every year or so and pay a high rent. It may do for 
a farmer to incur a small debt on a new piece of land, or on 
some improvement, but be cautious. A small debt will some- 
times stimulate to industry and economy, but a large one will 
often weary, and finally come off victorious. 

" A farmer wishes to save his extra lot for his son, and so pays 
ten per cent. His sons and daughters cannot go to a good 
school or college because of that mortgage. The son sees the 



Notes and Correspondence, 27 

privations of a farmer's life under unfavourable circumstances. 
The lather dies, and leaves the farm to his son with a heavy- 
debt on it, which he in vain attempts to remove, or he sells 
the farm and leaves that kind of drudgery. Very often a farmer 
is keeping more land than he is able to work or manage well. 
He does not know how to get value received, and more, out 
of his hired help. Such a one is unwise not to sell a part, 
clear the debt, and work the remainder better." 

VII. The passage referred to in the text, from Mr. Bucknall's 
translation of M. Viollet-le-Duc's essay on Mont Blanc : — 

" But what is man in presence of the great phenomena which 
geology reveals ? What can he do to utilize or to counteract 
their consequences ? How can such diminutive beings, whose 
most numerous army would be barely noticed on the slopes of 
these mountains, in any degree modify the laws which govern 
the distribution of watercourses, alluvial deposits, denudations, 
and the accumulation and melting of snows on such vast moun- 
tain masses? Is not their impotence manifest? 

" No ; the most terrible and powerful phenomena of Nature 
are only the result of the multiplication of infinitesimal appli- 
ances or forces. The blade of grass or the fibre of moss 
performs a scarcely appreciable function, but which, when 
multiplied, conducts to a result of considerable importance. 
The drop of water which penetrates by degrees into the fissures 
of the hardest rocks, when crystallized as the result of a 
lowering of the temperature, ultimately causes mountains to 
crumble. In Nature there are no insignificant appliances, or, 
rather, the action of Nature is only the result of insignificant 
appliances. Man, therefore, can act in his turn, since these 
small means are not beyond the reach of his influence, and 
his intelligence enables him to calculate their effects. Yet 
owing to his neglect of the study of Nature — his parent and 



28 Notes and Correspondence. 

great nurturer, and thus ignorant of her procedure, man is 
suddenly surprised by one of the phases of her incessant work, 
and sees his crops and habitations swept away by an inunda- 
tion. Does he proceed to examine the cause of what he calls a 
cataclysm, but which is only the consequence of an accumulation 
of phenomena ? No ; he attributes it to Providence, restores 
his dykes, sows his fields, and rebuilds his dwellings ; and then 
.... waits for the disaster — which is a consequence of laws 
he has neglected to study — to occur again. Is it not thus that 
things have been taking place for centuries? — while Nature, 
subject to her own laws, is incessantly pursuing her work with an 
inflexible logical persistency. The periodical inundations which 
lay waste vast districts are only a consequence of the action 
of these laws ; it is for us, therefore, to become acquainted with 
them, and to direct them to our advantage. 

" We have seen in the preceding investigations that Nature 
had, at the epoch of the great glacial debacles, contrived reser- 
voirs at successive stages, in which the torrent waters deposited 
the materials of all dimensions that were brought down — first 
in the form of drift, whence sifting them, they caused them to 
descend lower down ; the most bulky being deposited first, and 
the lightest, in the form of silt, being carried as far as the low 
plains. We have seen that, in filling up most of these reservoirs 
by the deposit of materials, the torrents tended to make their 
course more and more sinuous— to lengthen it, and thus to 
diminish the slopes, and consequently render their flow less 
rapid. We have seen that in the higher regions the torrents 
found points of rest — levels prepared by the disintegration of the 
slopes; and that from these levels they incessantly cause debris 
to be precipitated, which ultimately formed cones of dejection, 
often permeable, and at the base of which the waters, retarded in 
their course and filtered, spread in rivulets through the valleys. 

" Not only have men misunderstood the laws of which 



Notes and Correspondence, 29 

we mention here only certain salient points, but they have 
for the most part run counter to them, and have thus been 
paving the way for the most formidable disasters. Ascending 
the valleys, man has endeavoured to make the great labora- 
tories of the mountains subservient to his requirements. To 
obtain pastures on the slopes, he has destroyed vast forests ; 
to obtain fields suitable for agriculture in the valleys, he has 
embanked the torrents, or has obliterated their sinuosities, thus 
precipitating their course towards the lower regions; or, again, 
bringing the mud-charged waters into the marshes, he has dried 
up the latter by suppressing a great many accidental reserves. 
The mountaineer has had but one object in view — to get rid 
as quickly as possible of the waters with which he is too 
abundantly supplied, without concerning himself with what may 
happen in the lower grounds. Soon, however, he becomes 
himself the first victim of his imprudence or ignorance. The 
forests having been destroyed, avalanches have rolled down in 
enormous masses along the slopes. These periodical avalanches 
have swept down in their course the humus produced by large 
vegetable growths ; and in place of the pastures which the 
mountaineer thought he was providing for his flocks, he has 
found nothing more than the denuded rock, allowing the water 
produced by rain or thawing to flow in a few moments down 
to the lower parts, which are then rapidly submerged and deso- 
lated. To obtain a few acres by drying up a marsh or a small 
lake, he has often lost double the space lower down in conse- 
quence of the more rapid discharge of pebbles and sand. As 
soon as vegetation has attempted to grow on the cones of 
dejection — the products of avalanches, and which consist entirely 
of debris — he will send his herds of goats there, which will destroy 
in a few hours the work of several years. At the terminal point 
of the elevated combes — where the winter causes the snows to 
accumulate — far from encouraging the larger vegetable growths, 



30 Notes and Correspondence. 

which would mitigate the destructive effects of the avalanches, 
he has been in the habit of cutting down the trees, the approach 
to such points being easy, and the cones of dejection favouring 
the sliding down of the trunks into the valley. 

" This destruction of the forests appears to entail consequences 
vastly more disastrous than are generally supposed. Forests 
protect forests, and the more the work of destruction advances, 
the more do they incline to abandon the altitudes in which they 
once flourished. At the present day, around the massif of Mont 
Blanc, the larch, which formerly grew vigorously at an elevation 
of six thousand feet, and marked the limit of the larger vegetable 
growths, is quitting those heights, leaving isolated witnesses in 
the shape of venerable trunks which are not replaced by young 
trees. 

" Having frequently entered into conversation with mountaineers 
on those elevated plateaux, I have taken occasion to explain 
to them these simple problems, to point out to them the fore- 
sight of Nature and the improvidence of man, and to show how 
by trifling efforts it was easy to restore a small lake, to render a 
stream less rapid, and to stop the fall of materials in those terrible 
couloirs. They would listen attentively, and the next day would 
anticipate me in remarking, ' Here is a good place to make 
a reservoir. By moving a few large stones here, an avalanche 
might be arrested.' 

11 The herdsmen are the enemies of the forests ; what they 
want is pasturage. As far as they can, therefore, they destroy 
the forests, without suspecting that their destruction is sure to 
entail that of the greater part of the pastures. 

" We saw in the last chapter that the lowering* of the limit of 
the woods appears to be directly proportioned to the diminution 
of the glaciers ; in fact, that the smaller the volume of the 

* 'Raising,' I think the author must have meant. 



Notes and Correspondence. 31 

glaciers, the more do the forests approach the lower (? higher) 
regions. We have found stumps of enormous larches on the 
beds of the ancient glaciers that surmounted La Flegere, beneath 
the Aiguilles Pourries and the Aiguilles Rouges — i.e., more than 
three hundred feet above the level of the modern Chalet de 
la Flegere, whereas at present the last trees are some yards 
below this hotel, and maintain but a feeble existence. These 
deserts are now covered only with stone debris, rhododendrons, 
and scanty pasturage. Even in summer, water is absent at many 
points, so that to supply their cattle the herdsmen of La Flegere 
have been obliged to conduct the waters of the Lacs Blancs 
into reservoirs by means of a small dyke which follows the 
slopes of the ancient moraines. Yet the bottoms of the trough- 
shaped hollows are sheltered, and contain a thick layer of 
humus, so that it would appear easy, in spite of the altitude 
(6,600 feet), to raise larches there. But the larch is favoured 
by the neighbourhood of snows or ice. And on this plateau, 
whose summits reach an average of 8,500 feet, scarcely a few 
patches of snow are now to be seen in August. 

" Formerly these ancient glacier beds were dotted with small 
tarns, which have been drained off for the most part by the 
herdsmen themselves, who hoped thus to gain a few square 
yards of pasture. Such tarns, frozen from October to May, 
preserve the snow and form small glaciers, while their number 
caused these solitudes to preserve permanent neves, which, 
covering the rocky beds, regarded their disintegration. It was 
then also that the larches, whose stumps still remain, covered 
the hollows and sheltered parts of the combes. The area of 
pasturage was evidently limited ; but the pasturage itself was 
good, well watered, and could not be encroached upon. Now 
both tarns and neves have disappeared, and larches likewise, 
while we see inroads constantly made on the meadows by stony 
debris and sand. 



32 Notes and Correspondence. 

" If care be not taken, the valley from Nant-Borant to Bon- 
horame, which still enjoys such fine pastures, protected by some 
remains of forests, will be invaded by debris ; for these forests 
are already being cleared in consequence of a complete mis- 
understanding of the conditions imposed by the nature of the 
locality. 

" Conifers would seem to have been created with a view to 
the purpose they serve on the slopes of the mountains. Their 
branches, which exhibit a constant verdure, arrest the snows, 
and are strongly enough attached to their trunk to enable them 
to support the load they have to carry. In winter we may see 
layers of snow eight inches or a foot thick on the palmated 
branches of the firs, yet which scarcely make them bend. Thus 
every fir is a shelf which receives the snow and hinders it from 
accumulating as a compact mass on the slopes. Under these 
conditions avalanches are impossible. When the thaws come, 
these small separate stores crumble successively into powder. 
The trunk of the conifer clings to the rocks by the help of 
its roots, which, like wide-spread talons, go far to seek their 
nourishment, binding together among them all the rolling 
stones. In fact, the conifer prefers a rock, settles on it, and 
envelopes it with its strong roots as with a net, which, stretching 
far and wide, go in search of neighbouring stones, and attach 
them to the first as if to prevent all chance of their slipping 
down.* In the interstices debris of leaves and branches accu- 
mulate, and a humus is formed which retains the waters and 
promotes the growth of herbaceous vegetation. 

" It is wonderful to see how, in a few years, slopes, composed 
of materials of all shapes, without any appearance of vegetation, 
become covered with thick and vigorous fir plantations — i.e., 
if the goats do not tear off the young shoots, and if a little 
rest is left to the heaps on which they grow. Then the sterile 

* Compare the chapter on the offices of the Root, in 'Proserpina.' 



Notes and Correspondence. 33 

ground is clothed, and if an avalanche occurs, it may prostrate 
some of the young trees and make itself a passage, but vegetation 
is eager to repair the damage. Does man ever aid in this work ? 
No ; he is its most dangerous enemy. Among these young 
conifers he sends his herds of goats, which in a few days make 
sad havoc, tear off the shoots, or hinder them from growing ; 
moreover, he will cut down the slender trunks for firewood, 
whereas the great neighbouring forest would furnish him, in 
the shape of dead wood and fallen branches, with abundance 
of fuel. 

" We have observed this struggle between man and vegetation 
for several years in succession. Sometimes, but rarely, the rising 
forest gains the victory, and, having reached a certain develop- 
ment, can defend itself. But most frequently it is atrophied, 
and presents a mass of stunted trunks, which an avalanche 

crushes and buries in a few moments. 

# .# * , * * 

" Reservoirs in steps at successive heights are the only means 
for preventing the destructive effects of floods, for regulating 
the streams, and supplying the plains during the dry seasons. 
If, when Nature is left to herself, she gradually fills up those 
she had formed, she is incessantly forming fresh ones ; but 
here man interferes and prevents the work. He is the first 
to suffer from his ignorance and cupidity ; and what he considers 
his right to the possession of the soil is too often the cause of 
injury to his neighbours and to himself. 

"Civilized nations are aware that in the towns they build it 
is necessary to institute sanitary regulations — that is, regulations 
for the public welfare, which are a restriction imposed on the 
absolute rights of property. These civilized nations have also 
established analogous regulations respecting highways, the water- 
courses in the plains, the chase, and fishing; but they have 
scarcely troubled themselves about mountain districts, which 

2ND SERIES. I.] 3 



34 Notes and Correspondence. 

are the sources of all the wealth of the country ; (Italics mine ; 
but the statement needs qualification. — J. R.) for where there 
are no mountains there are no rivers, consequently no culti- 
vated lands; nothing but steppes, furnishing, at best, pasturage 
for a few cattle distributed over immense areas. 

" On the pretext that mountain regions are difficult of access, 
those among us who are entrusted by destiny, ambition, or 
ability, with the management of the national interests, find it 
easier to concern themselves with the plains than with the 
heights. (I don't find any governments, nowadays, concern- 
ing themselves even with the plains, except as convenient fields 
for massacre. — J. R.) 

"We allow that in those elevated solitudes Nature is incle- 
ment, and is stronger than we are j but it so happens that an 
inconsiderable number of shepherds and poor ignorant moun- 
taineers are free to do in those altitudes what their immediate 
interests suggest to them. What do those good people care 
about that which happens in the plains ? They have timber, 
for which the sawmill is ready, and they fell it where the 
transport to that sawmill is least laborious. Is not the incline 
of the couloir formed expressly for sliding the trunks directly 
to the mill? 

" They have water in too great abundance, and they get rid 
of it as fast as they can. They have young fir-plants, of which 
the goats are fond ; and to make a cheese which they sell for 
fifty centimes, they destroy a hundred francs' worth of timber, 
thereby exposing their slopes to be denuded of soil, and their 
own fields to be destroyed. They have infertile marshes, and 
they drain them by digging a ditch requiring two days' work. 
These marshes were filled with accumulations of peat, which, 
like a sponge, retained a considerable quantity of water at the 
time of the melting of the snows. They dry up the turf for 
fuel, and the rock, being denuded, sends in a few minutes 



Notes and Correspondence. 35 

into the torrents the water which that turf held in reserve for 
several weeks. Now and then an observer raises a cry of alarm, 
and calls attention to the reckless waste of territorial wealth. 
Who listens to what he says ? who reads what he writes ? (Punch 
read my notes on the inundations at Rome, and did his best to 
render them useless. — J. R.) 

" Rigorously faithful to her laws, Nature does not carry up 
again the pebble which a traveller's foot has rolled down the 
slope— does not replant the forests which your thoughtless hands 
have cut down, when the naked rock appears, and the soil has 
been carried away by the melted snows and the rain — does not 
restore the meadow to the disappearance of whose soil our want 
of precaution has contributed. Far from comprehending the 
marvellous logic of these laws, you contravene their beneficent 
control, or at least impede their action. So much the worse for 
you, poor mortal ! Do not, however, complain if your lowlands 
are devastated, and your habitations swept away ; and do not 
vainly impute these disasters to a vengeance or a warning on 
the part of Providence. For these disasters are mainly owing 
to your ignorance, your prejudices, and your cupidity." 



FORS CLAVIGERA 

SECOND SERIES. 



YEA, THE WORK OF OUR HANDS, ESTABLISH THOU IT." 



LETTER THE 86th. 

LET US (ALL) EAT AND DRINK. 

In assuming that the English Bible may yet be made 
the rule of faith and conduct to the English people ; 
and in placing in the Sheffield Library, for its first 
volume, a MS. of that Bible in its perfect form, much 
more is of course accepted as the basis of our future 
education than the reader will find taken for the ground 
either of argument or appeal, in any of my writings 
on political economy previous to the year 1875. It 
may partly account for the want of success of those 
writings, that they pleaded for honesty without praise, and 
for charity without reward ; — that they entirely rejected, 
as any motive of moral action, the fear of future judg- 
ment ; and — taking St. Paul in his irony at his bitterest 
word, — " Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die," 
— they merely expanded that worldly resolution into 
its just terms : " Yes, let us eat and drink " — what 

2ND SERIES, II.] 4 



38 Fors Clavigera, 

else ? — but let us all eat and drink, and not a few 
only, enjoining fast to the rest. 

Nor do I, in the least item, now retract the assertion, 
so often made in my former works,* that human probity 
and virtue are indeed entirely independent of any hope 
in futurity ; and that it is precisely in accepting death 
as the end of all, and in laying down, on that sorrow- 
ful condition, his life for his friends, that the hero and 
patriot of all time has become the glory and safety 
of his country. The highest ideals of manhood given 
for types of conduct in ' Unto this Last ; ' and the as- 
sertions that the merchant and common labourer must 
be ready, in the discharge of their duty, to die rather 
than fail, assume nothing more than this ; and all the 
proper laws of human society may be perfectly deve- 
loped and obeyed, and must be so wherever such society 
is constituted with prudence, though none of them be 
sanctioned by any other Divinity than that of our own 
souls, nor their violation punished by any other penalty 
than perfect death. There is no reason that we should 
drink foul water in London, because we never hope to 
drink of the stream of the City of God ; nor that we 
should spend most of our income in making machines 
for the slaughter of innocent nations, because we never 
expect to gather the leaves of the tree for their healing. 

Without, therefore, ceasing to press the works of pru- 
dence even on Infidelity, and expect deeds and thoughts 

* Most carefully wrought out in the preface to the ' Crown of Wild Olive.' 



Fors Clavigera. 39 

of honour even from Mortality, I yet take henceforward 
happier, if not nobier, ground of appeal, and write as a 
Christian to Christians ; that is to say, to persons who 
rejoice in the hope of a literal, personal, perpetual life, 
with a literal, personal, and eternal God. 

To all readers holding such faith, I now appeal, 
urging them to confess Christ before men ; which 
they will find, on self-examination, they are most of 
them afraid to do. 

For going to church is only a compliance with the 
fashion of the day ; not in the least a confession of 
Christ, but only the expression of a desire to be thought 
as respectable as other people. Staying to sacrament is 
usually not much more ; though it may become super- 
stitious, and a mere service done to obtain dispensation 
from other services. Violent combativeness for particular 
sects, as Evangelical, Roman Catholic, High Church, 
Broad Church — or the like, is merely a form of party- 
egotism, and a defiance of Christ, not confession of 
Him. 

But to confess Christ is, first, to behave righteously, 
truthfully, and continently ; and then, to separate our- 
selves from those who are manifestly or by profession 
rogues, liars, and fornicators. Which it is terribly 
difficult to do ; and which the Christian church has at 
present entirely ceased to attempt doing. 

And, accordingly, beside me, as I write, to-day, 
(shortest day, 1877,) lies the (on the whole) honestest 

4 A 



40 Fors Clavigera. 

journal of London, — ' Punch,' — with a moral piece of 
Christian art occupying two of its pages, representing 
the Turk in a human form, as a wounded and all but 
dying victim — surrounded by the Christian nations, under 
the forms of bear and vultures. 

" This witness is true " as against themselves, namely, 
that hitherto the action of the Christian nation to the 
infidel has always been one of rapine, in the broad 
sense, The Turk is what he is because we — have been 
only Christians in name. And another witness is true, 
which is a very curious one ; never, so far as I know, 
yet received from past history, 

Wherever the Christian church, or any section of it, 
has indeed resolved to live a Christian life, and keep 
God's laws in God's name, — there, instantly, manifest 
approval of Heaven is given by accession of zvorldly 
prosperity and victory. This witness has only been un- 
heard, because every sect of Christians refuses to believe 
that the religion of any other sect can be sincere, or 
accepted of Heaven : while the truth is that it does 
not matter a burnt stick's end from the altar, in 
Heaven's sight, whether you are Catholic or Protestant, 
Eastern, Western, Byzantine, or Norman, but only 
whether you are true. So that the moment Venice is 
true to St. Mark, her flag flies over all the Eastern 
islands ; and the moment Florence is true to the Lady 
of Lilies, her flag flies over all the Apennines ; and 
the moment Switzerland is true to Notre Dame des 



Fors Clavigera. 41 

Neiges, her pine-club beats down the Austrian lances ; 
and the moment England is true to her Protestant 
virtue, all the sea-winds ally themselves with her 
against the Armada : and though after-shame and 
infidel failure follow upon every nation, yet the glory 
of their great religious day remains unsullied, and in 
that, they live for ever. 

This is the Temporal lesson of all history, and with 
that there is another Spiritual lesson, — namely, that 
in the ages of faith, conditions of prophecy and 
seer-ship exist, among the faithful nations, in painting 
and scripture, which are also immortal and divine ; — of 
which it has been my own special mission to speak 
for the most part of my life : but only of late I 
have understood completely the meaning of what had 
been taught me, — in beginning to learn somewhat 
more, of which I must not speak to-day ; Fors ap- 
pointing that I should rather say final word respecting 
our present state of spiritual fellowship, exemplified in 
the strikes of our workmen, the misery that accom- 
panies them, and the articles of our current literature 
thereupon. 

The said current literature, on this subject, being 
almost entirely under the command of the Masters, 
has consisted chiefly in lectures on the guilt and 
folly of strikes, without in any wise addressing itself 
to point ,out to the men any other way of settling 
the question. " You can't have three shillings a day 



42 Fors Clavigera. 

in such times ; but we will give you two and sixpence : 
you had better take it — and, both on religious and 
commercial grounds, make no fuss. How much better 
is two-and-sixpence than nothing ! and if once the mill 
stop — think — where shall we be all then ? " " Yes," the 
men answer, " but if to-day we take two and sixpence, 
what is to hinder you, to-morrow, from observing to us 
that two shillings are better than nothing, and we had 
better take that sum on religious and commercial prin- 
ciples, without fuss ? And the day after, may not the 
same pious and moral instructors recommend to us 
the contented acceptance of eighteenpence ? A stand 
must clearly be made somewhere, and we choose to 
make it here, and now." 

The masters again have reason to rejoin : " True, 
but if we give you three shillings to-day, how are we 
to know you will not stand for three and sixpence 
to-morrow, and for four shillings next week ? A stand 
must be made somewhere, and we choose to make it 
here, and now." 

What solution is there, then ? and of what use are 
any quantity of homilies either to man or master, on 
their manner of debate, that show them no possible 
solution in another way ? As things are at present, 
the quarrel can only be practically closed by immi- 
nence of starvation on one side, or of bankruptcy on 
the other : even so, closed only for a moment, — never 
ended, burning presently forth again, to sink silent only 



Fors Clavigera. 43 

in death ; — while, year after year, the agonies of conflict 
and truces of exhaustion produce, for reward of the 
total labour, and fiat of the total council of the people, 
the minimum of gain for the maximum of misery. 

Scattered up and down, through every page I have 
written on political economy for the last twenty years, 
the reader will find unfailing reference to a principle 
of solution in such dispute, which is rarely so much as 
named by other arbitrators ; — or if named, never believed 
in : yet, this being indeed the only principle of decision, 
the conscience of it, however repressed, stealthily modifies 
every arbitrative word. 

The men are rebuked, in the magistral homilies, for 
their ingratitude in striking ! Then there must be a 
law of Grace, which at least the masters recognize. 
The men are mocked in the magistral homilies for 
their folly in striking. Then there must be a law 
of Wisdom, which at least the masters recognize. 

Appeal to these, then, for their entire verdict, most 
virtuous masters, all-gracious and all-wise. These repro- 
bate ones, graceless and senseless, cannot find their way 
for themselves ; you must guide them. That much I 
told you, years and years ago. You will have to do 
it, in spite of all your liberty-mongers. Masters, in 
fact, you must be ; not in name. 

But, as yet blind ; and drivers — not leaders — of the 
blind, you must pull the beams out of your own eyes, 
now ; and that bravely. Preach your homily to your- 



44 Fors Clavigera. 

selves first. Let me hear once more how it runs, to 
the men. " Oh foolish and ungrateful ones," you say, 
" did we not once on a time give you high wages — 
even so high that you contentedly drank yourselves to 
death ; and now, oh foolish and forgetful ones, that 
the time has come for us to give you low wages, 
will you not contentedly also starve yourselves to 
death ? " 

Alas, wolf-shepherds — this is St. George's word to 
you : — 

" In your prosperity you gave these men high wages, 
not in any kindness to them, but in contention for 
business among yourselves. You allowed the men to 
spend their wage in drunkenness, and you boasted of 
that drunkenness by the mouth of your Chancellor of 
the Exchequer, and in the columns of your leading 
journal, as a principal sign of the country's prosperity. 
You have declared again and again, by vociferation of 
all your orators, that you have wealth so overflowing 
that you do not know what to do with it. These men 
who dug the wealth for you, now lie starving at the 
mouths of the hell-pits you made them dig ; yea, their 
bones lie scattered at the grave's mouth, like as 
when ooe cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth. 
Your boasted wealth — where is it ? Is the war 
between these and you, because you now mercilessly 
refuse them food, or because all your boasts of wealth 
were lies, and you have none to give ? 



Fors C lav i gey a. 45 

" Your boasts of wealth were lies. You were working 
from hand to mouth in your best times ; now your 
work is stopped, and you have nothing in the country 
to pay for food with ; still less any store of food laid 
by. And how much distress and wrath you will have 
to bear before you learn the lesson of justice, God only 
knows. But this is the lesson you have to learn." 

Every workman in any craft * must pass his ex- 
amination, (crucial, not competitive,) when he comes 
of age, and be then registered as capable of his pro- 
fession ; those who cannot pass in the higher crafts 
being remitted to the lower, until they find their level. 
Then every registered workman must be employed 
where his work is needed — (You interrupt me to say 
that his work is needed nowhere ? Then, what do you 
want with machinery, if already you have more hands 
than enough, to do everything that needs to be 
done ?) — by direction of the guild he belongs to, and 
paid by that guild his appointed wages, constant and 
unalterable by any chance or phenomenon whatsoever. 
His wages must be given him day by day, from the 
hour of his entering the guild, to the hour of his 



* Ultimately, as often before stated, every male child born in England 
must learn some manner of skilled work by which he may earn his bread. 
If afterwards his fellow- workers choose that he shall sing, or make speeches 
to them instead, and that they will give him his turnip a day, or some- 
what more, for Parliamentary advice, at their pleasure be it. I heard on 
the 7th of January this year that many of the men in Wales were reduced 
to that literal nourishment. Compare Fors, Nov. 187 1, page 6. 



46 Fors Ctavigera. 

death, never raised, nor lowered, nor interrupted ; ad- 
mitting, therefore, no temptation by covetousness, no 
wringing of anxiety, no doubt or fear of the future. 

That is the literal fulfilment of what we are to pray 
for — " Give us each day — our daily bread" observe — 
not our daily money. For, that wages may be constant 
they must be in kind, not in money. So much bread, 
so much woollen cloth, or so much fuel, as the work- 
man chooses ; or, in lieu of these, if he choose, the 
order for such quantity at the government stores ; 
order to be engraved, as he chooses, on gold, or 
silver, or paper : but the " penny " a day to be always 
and everywhere convertible, on the instant, into its 
known measure of bread, cloth, or fuel, and to be the 
standard, therefore, eternal and invariable, of all value 
of things, and wealth of men. That is the lesson you 
have to learn from St. George's lips, inevitably, against 
any quantity of shriek, whine, or sneer, from the 
swindler, the adulterator, and the fool. Whether St. 
George will let me teach it you before I die, is his 
business, not mine ; but as surely as / shall die, these 
words of his shall not. 

And " to-day " (which is my own shield motto) I 
send to a London goldsmith, wmose address was written 
for me (so Fors appointed it) by the Prince Leopold, 
with his own hand, — the weight of pure gold which I 
mean to be our golden standard, (defined by Fors, as 
I will explain in another place,) to be beaten to the 



Fors Ciavigera. 47 

diameter of our old English "Angel," and to bear the 
image and superscriptions above told, (Fors, Oct. 1875, 
p. 287). 

And now, in due relation to this purpose of fixing 
the standard of bread, we continue our inquiry into 
the second part of the Deacon's service — in not only 
breaking bread, but also pouring wine, from house to 
house ; that so making all food one sacrament, all 
Christian men may eat their meat with gladness and 
singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour 
with all the people, their Lord adding to their assembly 
daily such as shall be saved. 

Read first this piece of a friend's recent letter : — 
" My dear Mr. Ruskin, — In reading over again the 
December ' Fors/ I have been struck with your ques- 
tion quoted, ' They have no wine ? ' and the command 
is ' Fill the water-pots with WATER.' I am greatly 
averse to what is called improving, spiritualizing — i.e., 
applying the sacred text in a manner other than the 
simple and literal one ; but Christ's words had doubt- 
less in them a germ of thoughtful wisdom applicable 
to other aims and ends besides the original circum- 
stances ; and it is a singular coincidence that Fors should 
have induced you to close your last year with your 
quotation from the Cana miracle, and that the next 
number should propose to deal with ' filling the water- 
pots (cisterna) with water.' One thing is certain, viz., 
that in many parts of the world, and even in England 



48 Fors Clavigera. 

in summer, the human obedience to the command pre- 
cedent to the miracle would be impossible. Did you 
ever read Kingsley's Sermon on Cana ? If you think 
it well to give a few of the extracts of him ' who 
being dead yet speaketh,' I shall be delighted to 
make them, and send them ; * they are different from 
what one hears in ordinary churches, and are vital 
for St. George." 

" It is, I think in the first place, an important, as well 
as a pleasant thing, to know that the Lord's glory, as 
St. John says, was first shown forth at a wedding, — 
at a feast. Not by helping some great philosopher to 
think more deeply, or some great saint to perform more 
wonderful acts of holiness ; but in giving the simple 
pleasure of wine to simple, commonplace people of whom 
we neither read that they were rich, nor righteous. 

Though no one else cares for the poor, He cares for 
them. With their hearts He begins His work, even as 
He did in England sixty years ago, by the preaching 
of Whitfield and Wesley. Do you wish to know if 
anything is the Lord's work ? See if it is a work 
among the poor. 

But again, the Lord is a giver, and not a task- 
master. He does not demand from us : He gives to 
us. He had been giving from the foundation of the 
world. Corn and wine, rain and sunshine, and fruitful 

* From 'Sermons on National Subjects.' Parker and Son. i860. 



Fors Clavigera. 49 

seasons had been His sending. And now He has 
come to show it. He has come to show men who it 
was who had been filling their heart with joy and 
gladness, who had been bringing out of the earth and 
air, by His unseen chemistry, the wine which maketh 
glad the heart of man. 

In every grape that hangs upon the vine, water is 
changed into wine, as the sap ripens into rich juice. 
He had been doing that all along, in every vineyard 
and orchard ; and that was His glory. Now He was 
come to prove that ; to draw back the veil of custom 
and carnal sense, and manifest Himself. Men had 
seen the grapes ripen on the tree ; and they were 
tempted to say, as every one of us is tempted now, 
' It is the sun, and the air, the nature of the vine 
and the nature of the climate, which make the wine.' 
Jesus comes and answers, ' Not so ; I make the wine ; 
I have been making it all along. The vines, the sun, 
the weather, are only my tools, wherewith I worked, 
turning rain and sap into wine : and I am greater than 
they. I made them ; I do not depend on them ; I 
can make wine from water without vines, or sun- 
shine. Behold, and drink, and see my glory without 
the vineyard, since you had forgotten how to see it in 
the vineyard ! ' 

We, as well as they, are in danger of forgetting who 
it is that sends us corn and wine, and fruitful seasons, 
love, and marriage, and all the blessings of this life. 



50 Fors Clavigera. 

We are now continually fancying that these out- 
ward earthly things, as we call them, in our shallow 
carnal conceits, have nothing to do with Jesus or His 
kingdom, but that we may compete, and scrape, even 
cheat, and lie, to get them* and when we have them, 
misuse them selfishly, as if they belonged to no one but 
ourselves, as if we had no duty to perform about them, 
as if we owed God no service for them. 

And again, we are in danger of spiritual pride ; in 
danger of fancying that because we are religious, and 
have, or fancy we have, deep experiences, and beautiful 
thoughts about God and Christ, and our own souls ; 
therefore we can afford to despise those who do not 
know as much as ourselves ; to despise the common 
pleasures and petty sorrows of poor creatures, whose 
souls and bodies are grovelling in the dust, busied 
with the cares of this world, at their wits' end to 
get their daily bread ; to despise the merriment of 
young people, the play of children, and all those 
everyday happinesses which, though we may turn from 
them with a sneer, are precious in the sight of Him 
who made heaven and earth. 

All such proud thoughts — all such contempt of those 
who do not seem as spiritual as we fancy ourselves — 
is evil. 

See, in the epistle for the second Sunday after the 

* Italics mine. The whole sentence might well have them ; it is supremely 
important 



Fors Clavigera. 51 

Epiphany, St. Paul makes no distinction between rich 
and poor. This epistle is joined with the gospel of 
that day to show us what ought to be the conduct of 
Christians who believe in the miracle of Cana ; what 
men should do who believe that they have a Lord in 
heaven, by whose command suns shine, fruits ripen, 
men enjoy the blessings of harvest, of marriage, of the 
comforts which the heathen and the savage, as well 
as the Christian, man partake. 

My friends, these commands are not to one class, 
but to all. Poor as well as rich may minister to 
others with earnestness, and condescend to those of 
low estate. Not a word in this whole epistle which 
does not apply equally to every rank, and sex, and age. 
Neither are these commands to each of us by our- 
selves, but to all of us together, as members of a 
family. If you will look through them, they are not 
things to be done to ourselves, but to our neighbours ; 
not experiences to be felt about our own souls, but 
rules of conduct to our fellow-men. They are all dif- 
ferent branches and flowers from that one root, ' Thou 
shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' 

Do we live thus, rich and poor ? Can we look 
each other in the face this afternoon and say, each 
man to his neighbour, * I have behaved like a brother 
to you. I have rejoiced at your good fortune, and 
grieved at your sorrow. I have preferred you to 
myself ' ? " 



52 Fors Clavigera. 

Seldom shall you read more accurate or more noble 
words. How is it that clergymen who can speak 
thus, do not see the need of gathering together, into 
one ' little ' flock, those who will obey them ? 

I close our Fors this month with Mr. Willett's 
admirable prefatory remarks on water-distribution, and 
a few words of his from a private letter received at the 
same time ; noting only farther a point or two of my 
own mountain experience. When ' Punch ' threw what 
ridicule he could * on my proposal to form field and 
glen reservoirs on the Apennines to stay the storm- 
waters ; and, calculating ironically the quantity that 
fell per acre in an hour's storm, challenged me to 
stay it, he did not know that all had actually been 
done to the required extent by the engineers of three 
hundred years since, in the ravine above Agubbio, (the 
Agubbio of Dante's Oderigi,) — their rampart standing, 
from cliff to cliff, unshaken, to this day ; and he as 
little foresaw that precisely what I had required to 
be done to give constancy of sweet waters to the 
storm-blanched ravines of Italy, I should be called on 



* It is a grotesque example of the evil fortune which continually waits 
upon the best efforts for essential good made in this unlucky nineteenth 
century, that a journal usually so right in its judgment, and sympathetic in 
its temper, (I speak in entire seriousness,) and fearless besides in express- 
ing both, (see, for instance, the splendid article on the Prince Christian's 
sport in the number for the 12th of this month,) should have taken the 
wrong side, and that merely for the sake of a jest, on the most important 
economical question in physics now at issue in the world ! 



Fors Claz'igera. 53 

in a few years more to prevent the mob of England 
from doing, that they may take them away from the 
fair pastures of the valley of St. John. 

The only real difficulty in managing the mountain 
waters is when one cannot get hold of them, — when 
the limestones are so cavernous, or the sands so porous, 
that the surface drainage at once disappears, as on the 
marble flanks of hill above Lucca ; but I am always 
amazed, myself, at the extreme docility of streams when 
they can be fairly caught and broken, like good horses, 
from their youth, and with a tender bridle-hand. I 
have been playing lately with a little one on my own 
rocks, — now as tame as Mrs. Buckland's leopard,* — and 
all I have to complain of in its behaviour is, that when 
I set it to undermine or clear away rubbish, it takes 
a month to do what I expected it to finish with a 
morning's work on a wet day ; and even that, not 
without perpetual encouragement, approbation, and 
assistance. 

On the other hand, to my extreme discomfiture, I 
have entirely failed in inveigling the water to come 
down at all, when ' it chooses to stay on the hill-side 
in places where I don't want it : but I suppose modern 
scientific drainage can accomplish this, though in my 
rough way I can do nothing but peel the piece of 
pertinacious bog right off the rock, — so beneficently 
faithful are the great Powers of the Moss, and the 

* See 'The World,' January 9th of this year. 

2ND SERIES, II. $ 



54 Fors Clavigera. 

Earth, to their mountain duty of preserving, for man's 
comfort, the sources of the summer stream. 
Now hear Mr. Willett. 

" Three or four times every year the newspapers tell 
us of discomfort, suffering, disease, and death, caused 
by floods. Every summer, unnecessary sums are ex- 
pended by farmers and labourers for water carted from 
a distance, to supply daily needs of man and beast. 
Outbreaks of fever from drinking polluted and infected 
water are of daily occurrence, causing torture and 
bereavement to thousands. 

All these evils are traceable mainly to our wicked, 
wasteful, and ignorant neglect ; all this while, money is 
idly accumulating in useless hoards ; people able and 
willing to work are getting hungry for want of employ- 
ment ; and the wealth of agricultural produce of all 
kinds is greatly curtailed for want of a wise, systematic, 
and simple application of the mutual lazv of supply and 
demand* in the storage of rain-water. 

I can only now briefly introduce the subject, which 
if you consider it of sufficient importance I will follow 
up in future letters. 

While the flooding of the districts south of the 
Thames at London is mainly owing to the contraction 
of the channel by the embankment, thereby causing 

* Somewhere, (I think in ' Munera Pulveris '), "I illustrated the law of 
Supply and Demand in commerce, and the madness of leaving it to its 
natural consequences without interference, by the laws of drought and rain. 



Fors Clavigera. 55 

the flood-tide to form a sort of bore, or advancing 
tidal-wave, as in the Severn and Wye, the periodic 
winter floods near Oxford, and in all our upland 
valleys, are admittedly more frequent and more severe 
than formerly ; and this not on account of the increased 
rainfall.* The causes are to be found rather in — 

I. The destruction of woods, heaths, and moorlands. 

II. The paving and improved road-making in cities 
and towns. 

* On the Continent, however, there has been an increased rainfall in the 
plains, caused by the destruction of the woods on the mountains, and by 
the coldness of t ie summers, which cannot lift the clouds high enough to 
lay snow on the high summits. The following note by Mr. Willett on my 
queries on this matter in last Fors, will be found of extreme value: "I am 
delighted with ' Violet le Due's ' Extracts. Yet is it not strange that he calls 
man 'impotent'? The same hands that can cut down the forests, can plant 
them ; that can drain the morass, can dam up and form a lake ; the same 
child that could lead the goats to crop off the young fir-tree shoots, could 
herd them away from them. I think you may have missed Le Due's idea 
about lower glaciers causing higher forests, and vice versa. ' Forests collect 
snow, retard its rapid thaw, and its collection into denuding slides of snow 
by this lower temperature, and retard the melting of the glacier, which 
therefore grows — i.e., accumulates, — and pushes lower and lower down the 
valley. The reduction in temperature condenses more of the warm vapour, 
and favours growth of conifers, which gradually spread up so that destruction 
of forests in higher regions causes melting and retraction of glaciers.' I will 
send you shortly an old essay of mine in which the storage of water and the 
destructive avalanche were used as illustrating the right and wrong use of 
accumulated wealth. Lord Chichester's agent is at work with the plans and 
details for us, and you shall have them early in the new year (D.V.), and 
for it may I say — 

1 With patient mind, thy path of duty run : 
God nothing does, nor suffers to be done, 
But thou thyself wouldst do, if thou couldst see 
The end of all events as well as He.' " 



56 Fors Clavigera. 

III. The surface drainage of arable and pasture 
lands. 

IV. The draining of morasses and fens ; and, 

V. The straightening and embanking of rivers and 
water-courses. 

All these operations have a tendency to throw the 
rainfall rapidly from higher to lower levels. 

This wilful winter waste is followed by woeful 
summer want. 

1 The people perish for lack of knowledge.' The 
remedy is in our own hands. 

Lord Beaconsfield once wisely said, ' Every cottage 
should have its porch, its oven, and its TANK.' 

And every farm-house, farm-building, and every 
mansion, should have its reservoir ; every village its 
series of reservoirs ; and every town and city its multi- 
plied series of reservoirs, at different levels, and for the 
separate storage of water for drinking, for washing, and 
for streets, and less important purposes. 

I propose in my next to give more in detail the 
operations of the principles here hinted at, and to show 
from what has been done in a few isolated instances, 
what would follow from a wider and more general 
application of them." 






NOTES AND CORRESPONDENCE 



I. Affairs of the Guild. 

I am happy to be able at last to state that the memorandum 
of our constitution, drawn up for us by Mr. Barber, and already 
published in the 55th number of the first series of Fors, has 
been approved by the Board of Trade, with some few, but im- 
perative, modifications, to which I both respectfully and gladly 
submit, seeing them to be calculated in every way to increase 
both our own usefulness, and public confidence in us. 

The organization of the Guild, thus modified, will be, by the 
time this letter is published,' announced, as required by the 
Board, in the public journals ; and, if not objected to on the 
ground of some unforeseen injuriousness to existing interests, 
ratified, I believe, during the current month, or at all events 
within a few weeks. I have prepared a brief abstract of our 
constitution and aims, to be issued with this letter, and sent 
generally in answer to inquiry. 

I- stated in my last letter that I meant to take our accounts 
into my own hands ; — that is to say, while they will always be 
printed in their properly formal arrangement, as furnished by 
our kind accountants, Mr. Rydings and Mr. Walker, I shall 
also give my own abstract of them in the form most intelligible 
to myself, and I should think also to some of my readers. 
This abstract of mine will be the only one given in Fors : 
the detailed accounts will be sent only to the members of the 



58 Notes and Correspondence. 

Guild. Until the registration of the Guild, I am still obliged 
to hold the Abbey Dale estate in my own name ; and as we 
cannot appoint our new trustees till we are sure of our own 
official existence, I am obliged to order the payment of sub- 
scriptions to my own account at the Union Bank, to meet the 
calls of current expenses, for which I have no authority to 
draw on the account of the Guild but by cheque from its 
trustees. 

I shall only farther in the present article acknowledge the 
sums I have myself received since the last statement of our 
accounts. The twenty days since the beginning of the year 
have melted into their long nights without sufficing for half 
the work they had been charged to do ; and have had farther 
to meet claims of unexpected duty, not profitless to the Guild, 
assuredly; but leaving me still unable to give the somewhat 
lengthy explanations of our year's doings, without which our 
accounts would be unintelligible. 

1877. £ s. d. 

Nov. 1. Joseph Stapleton . . . . . . o 10 o 

7. Mr. Talbot (Tithe) 100 o o 

15. John Guy . . . . . . . 5 9 10 

„ Frances M. Henderson 3 3° 

„ Sale of Mr. Sillar's pamphlets on Usury . . o 17 o 

Dec. 1 7. Louisa A. Keighley . . . . . .500 

28. Helen J. Ormerod . . . . . .110 

31. Elizabeth Green ... . . . . o 10 9 

1878. 
Jan. 1. Margaret Cox . . . . . .500 

4. R. B. Litchfield 20 o o 

10. William Hall 220 

20. Ada Hartnell 500 

£148 13 7 

II. Affairs of the Master. 

The lengthy correspondence given in our last article leaves 



Notes and Correspondence. 59 

me no farther space for talk of myself. People say I invite 
their attention to that subject too often : bat I must have a 
long gossip in March. 

HI- "8, Kingsgate Street, Winchester, 2yd Nov., 1877. 

" Dear Sir, — If you will not help us, I do not know who 
will. 

"One of the loveliest parts of the meadows close to the town 
is going to be entirely and irremediably spoiled : an engine- 
house is to be built, and all the drains are to be brought into 
a field in the middle of the Itchen valley, so that the buildings 
will be a blot in the landscape, an eyesore from every point, 
whether looking towards South Cross or back from there to the 
Cathedral and College ; or almost worse than these, from every 
hill round the town they will be the most conspicuous objects. 
I think you know the town ; but do you know that this is its 
prettiest part ? You can have some idea what it would be to 
have a spot which has been dear to you all your life, and 
which you see day by day in all its aspects, utterly ruined ; 
and besides, it seems so wrong that this generation should spoil 
that which is not theirs, but in which none have really more 
than a life interest, but which God has given us to enjoy and 
to leave in its loveliness for those after us. I wish I could 
speak as strongly as I feel, if it would induce you to speak 
for us, or rather that I could show you the real need for 
speaking, as I know you would not keep silence for any but 
good reasons. Surely destroying beauty to save a little money 
is doing the devil's work, though I am told that it is wrong to 

say so. 

"Yours respectfully and gratefully, 

"A. H. W. 

" There is another place where the works might be, where 
they could be planted out, and where the trees would be an 



60 Notes and Correspondence. 

improvement ; some engineers say that the soil too is better 
suited to the purpose. Do help us if you can ! It is a haunting 
misery to me — both what we shall lose, and the sin of it." 

Alas, my poor friend, no mortal can help you. England 
has bred up a race of doggish and vile persons, for the last 
fifty years. And they will do their doggish work, be sure of 
that, whatever you or I can say, until, verily, him that dieth 
of them the dogs shall eat. 

IV. The following admirable letter is enough for its work. 
I have no room for the article it enclosed : — 

"Arnold House, \6tk Dec, 1877. 
" My dear Mr. Ruskin, — It is very singular that the day 
after I wrote to you on the evils of drainage as adopted by 
modern engineers, such an article as the enclosed should appear 
in the ' Times.' The time must come when most of the 
expenditure on these drains will prove useless. But the evil 
continues, viz., of adding daily more streets to the present 
system, often choking the drains and converting them into 
stagnant elongated cesspools, ten times more injurious than the 
old ones, because of the risk of contagious and infectious germs 
being introduced from some house to multiply and infect a 
number. The remedy I think should be, 1st, to prevent addi- 
tions to the present system; 2ndly, to enact that instead of fresh 
constructive works, bearing interest to be paid in rates, each 
house above a certain rental, say above ^20 a year, shall be 
compelled to deodorize and remove its own sewage — i.e., faecal 
matter in its original concentrated form ; and that all smaller 
houses should be done by the municipality or local board, 
who should employ a staff of labourers to do it by districts, 
weekly, the material being very valuable to agriculturists if kept 
concentrated and deodorized by the charcoal of peat or of tan, 



Notes and Correspondence. 61 

of sawdust, and of rubbish of all sorts. Labour of this kind 
would employ a great many now burdensome to the rates, un- 
employed ; land would be fertilized instead of impoverished ; and 
eventually perhaps districts now infested with drains that don't 
drain might be gradually won from the senseless system of 
accumulating streams, to the natural order of distribution and 
deposit under earth for fertilizing objects. 

"Just as 'dirt is something in its wrong place,' so social 
evils are mainly wrong applications of right powers; nay, even 
sin itself is but the misuse of Divine gifts, — the use at wrong 
times and places of right instincts and powers. 

" Pardon these scribblings ; but when I see and feel deeply, 
I think perhaps if I put the thoughts on paper to you, they may 
perhaps take a better form, and be sown in places where they 
may take root and spring up and bear fruit to man's benefit, 
and therefore to the glory of the Great Father. 

" Ever most faithfully and gratefully, 

" Henry Willett." 

V. The following "word about the notice which appeared in 
last Fors about the Cyfarthfa Ironworks " deserves the reader's 
best attention ; the writer's name and position, which I am 
not at liberty to give, being to me sufficient guarantee of its 
trustworthiness. 

"Their owner has lately passed as a martyr to unreasonable 
demands from his workmen, in more than one publication. 
But what are the facts ? Mr. Crawshay held himself aloof from 
the Ironmasters' combination which in 1873 locked out the work- 
men. When the works of the combined masters were reopened, 
it was upon an agreed reduction. Mr. Crawshay's workmen sent 
a deputation to him, offering to work on the terms agreed upon 
at the other works of the district ; but Mr. Crawshay would not 
accede unless his men accepted ten per cent, beloiv the rate that 



62 Notes and Correspondence. 

was to be paid by his rivals in trade, and received by his men's 
fellow-workmen in the same town and district ! In a month 
or two the Associated Masters obtained another reduction of 
ten per cent, from their men. Mr. Crawshay's workmen waited 
upon him, and offered to go in at these new terms. But no : 
they must still accept ten per cent, below their neighbours, or 
be shut out. In another couple of months wages fell another 
ten per cent. Mr. Crawshay's men made the same offer, and 
met with the same rebuff. This was repeated, I think, a fourth 
time — (wages certainly fell forty per cent, in less than a twelve- 
month) — but Mr. Crawshay had nailed his colours to the mast 
for ten per cent, below anybody else. 

"It is quite true, as Lord Aberdare says, that 'the Cyfarthfa 
Works are closed because the men would not work at the wages 
offered them.' But what else is true ? The following : — 

" i. The works presumably could have been worked at a 
profit, with wages at the same rate as was paid at rival works. 

"2. The demand that his men should work at ten per cent, 
less wages than was given in the same market, was the unjusti- 
fiable act of an unscrupulous competition, and the heartless 
act of an unreasonable and selfish master. 

" 3. Had the men submitted to his terms, it would have been 
the immediate occasion of reducing the whole of their fellow- 
workmen in the Associated works. Hence, 

"4. What has been called the unreasonable conduct of in- 
fatuated workmen, can be clearly traced to conduct on their 
masters' part flagrantly unreasonable; and the stand they made 
was recommended alike by justice, by regard for the other 
employers, and by unselfish solicitude for their fellows in the 
trade. 

" I may add — Had the men quietly submitted, the works 
would have run only a short time. Iron-workers are now 
suffering from one of those stages in the march of civilization 






Notes and Correspondence. 63 



which always produces suffering to a few. Steel rails have 
supplanted iron rails, and capitalists who have not adapted 
their plant accordingly must needs stand. Some may perhaps 
feel that a great capitalist who, having amassed an enormous 
fortune, has neither built market, hall, fountain, nor museum 
for the town where he made it, might be expected, at all 
events, to acknowledge his responsibility by adapting his works 
to meet the times, so that a little population of wealth pro- 
ducers might be kept in bread. However that may be, Cyfarthfa 
Works standing has no more to do with strikes and unreason 
of workmen than * Tenterden steeple has to do with Goodwin 
Sands.' The iron-workers — poor creatures ! — had nothing to do 
with putting the knife to their throats by helping Mr. Bessemer 
to his invention of cheap steel ; but of course they have long 
since got the blame of the collapse of the iron trade. All the 
capitalists in all the journals have said so. They might exclaim 
with Trotty Veck, 'We must be born bad — that's how it is.'" 

VI. The following correspondence requires a few, and but a 
few, words of preliminary information. 

For th^ last three or four years it has been matter of con- 
tinually increasing surprise to me that I never received the 
smallest contribution to St. George's Fund from any friend or 
disciple of Miss Octavia Hill's. 

I had originally calculated largely on the support I was 
likely to find among persons who had been satisfied with the 
resultof the experiment made at Marylebone under my friend's 
superintendence. But this hope was utterly disappointed ; and 
to my more acute astonishment, because Miss Hill was wont 
to reply to any more or less direct inquiries on the subject, 
with epistles proclaiming my faith, charity, and patience, in 
language so laudatory, that, on the last occasion of my receiving 
such answer, to a request for a general sketch of the Maryle- 



64 Notes and Correspondence. 

bone work, it became impossible for me, in any human modesty, 
to print the reply. 

The increasing mystery was suddenly cleared, a month or 
two ago, by a St. George's Companion of healthily sound and 
impatient temper, who informed me of a case known to herself, 
in which a man of great kindness of disposition, who was well 
inclined to give aid to St. George, had been diverted from such 
intention by hearing doubts expressed by Miss Hill of my ability 
to conduct any practical enterprise successfully. 

I requested the lady who gave me this information to ascertain 
from Miss Hill herself what she had really said on the occasion 
in question. To her letter of inquiry, Miss Hill replied in the 
following terms : 

" Madam, — In justice to Mr. Ruskin, I write to say that 
there has evidently been some misapprehension respecting my 
words. 

"Excuse me if I add that beyond stating this fact I do not 
feel called upon to enter into correspondence with a stranger 
about my friend Mr. Ruskin, or to explain a private conversation 
of my own. « j am> Madam, yours truly, 

" Octavia Hill." 

Now it would have been very difficult for Miss Hill to have 
returned a reply less satisfactory to her correspondent, or more 
irritating to a temper like mine. For, in the first place, I con- 
sidered it her bounden duty to enter into correspondence with 
all strangers whom she could possibly reach, concerning her 
friend Mr. Ruskin, and to say to them, what she was in the 
habit of saying to me : and, in the second place, I considered 
it entirely contrary to her duty to say anything of me in private 
conversation which she did not " feel called upon to explain " 
to whomsoever it interested. I wrote, therefore, at once myself 
to Miss Hill, requesting to know why she had not replied to 



Notes and Correspondence, 65 

Mrs. 's question more explicitly : and received the following 

reply : — 

" 14, Nottingham Place, Oct. yt/i, 1877. 

" My dear Mr. Ruskin, — I wrote instantly on receiving Mrs. 

's letter to say that my words had been misunderstood. I 

could not enter with a stranger, and such a stranger ! ! (a) into 
anything more concerning a friend, or a private conversation. 

"But if you like to know anything I ever said, or thought, 
about you for the twenty-four years I have known you, 
* most explicitly ' shall you know ; and you will find no trace 
of any thought, much less word, that was not utterly loyal, 
and even reverently tender towards you " (my best thanks ! — 
had I been more roughly handled, who knows what might 
have come of it ?) " Carlyle, who never saw me, told you I 
was faithful. Faithful — I should think so ! I could not be 
anything else. Ask those who have watched my life. I have 
not courted you by flattery ; I have not feigned agreement 
where I differed or did not understand j I have not sought 
you among those I did not trust or respect;" (thanks, again, 
in the name of my acquaintance generally,) " I have not 
worried you with intrusive questions or letters. I have 
lived very far away from you, but has there been thought or 
deed of mine uncoloured by the influence of the early, the 
abiding, and the continuous teaching you gave me ? Have I 
not striven to carry out what you have taught in the place 
where, I have been called to live? Was there a moment when 
I would not have served you joyfully at any cost? Ask those 
who know, if, when you have failed or pained me, (b) I have not 

(a) I have no conception what Miss Hill meant by this admiring paren- 
thesis, as she knew nothing whatever of the person who wrote to her, 
except her curiosity respecting me. 

(b) I should have been glad to have known the occasions on which I did 
either, before being excused. 



66 Notes and Correspondence. 

invariably said, if I said anything, that you might have good 
reasons of which I knew nothing, or might have difficulties I 
could not understand; or that you had had so much sorrow 
in your life, that if it was easier to you to act thus or thus in 
ways affecting me, so far as I was concerned I was glad you 
should freely choose the easier. You have seen nothing of 
me ; (c) but ask those who have, whether for twenty-four years 
I have been capable of any treasonable thought or word about 
you. It matters nothing to me ; (d) but it is sad for you for 
babbling tongues to make you think any one who ought to 
know you, chattered, and chattered falsely, about you. 

" I remember nothing of what I said, (e) but distinctly what I 
thought, and think, and will write that to you if you care. Or 
if you feel there is more that I can do to set the rumour at 
rest than the strong positive assertion I . have made that I have 
been misunderstood, tell me. (/) But my own experience of 
character and of the world makes me resolutely adhere to my belief 

that though Mrs. would vastly like to get behind that, (g) 

that, and nothing else, is the right, true, and wise position as 
far as you and as far as I (h) am concerned. Shall I not leave 
it there, then? 

" I am sorry to write in pencil ; I hope you will not find it 
difficult to read. I am ill, and not able to be up. 

(c) This statement appears to me a singular one ; and the rather that 
Miss Hill, in subsequent letters, implies, as I understand them, that she 
has seen a good deal of me. 

(d) It seems to me that it ought, on the contrary, to matter much. 

(e) I greatly regret, and somehow blame, this shortness of memory. 
The time is not a distant one, — seven or eight weeks. Anything I say, 
myself, earnestly, of my friends, I can remember for at least as many years. 

(/) The only thing to be done, when people have been misunderstood, 
is to state what they said — which in this case Miss Hill has just declared 
impossible for her to do. 

{g) She certainly would — and so should I. 

(h) "As far as I" — am concerned, probably. 



Notes and Correspondence. 67 

" I have tried to answer both points. First, to show that I 
contradicted the statement, and that explanations of what 
I did say (/) (unless to yourself) seem to me most unwise and 
uncalled-for. 

"And, secondly, to assure you, so far as words will, that 
however inadequate you may feel the response the world has 
given, an old friend has not failed you in thought, nor inten- 
tionally, though she seems to have made a confusion, by some 
clumsy words. Hoping you may feel both things, 

" I am, yours as always, 

"Octavia Hill." 

To this letter I replied, that it was very pretty ; but that I 
wanted to know, as far as possible, exactly what Miss Hill had 
said, or was in the habit of saying. 

I received the following reply. The portions omitted are 
irrelevant to the matter in hand, but shall be supplied if Miss 
Hill wishes. 

"14, Nottingham Place, W,, Nov. yd, 1S77. 
"Dear Mr. Ruskin, — I offered immediately, on October 6th, 
on receiving your first letter, to tell you anything I had ever 
said about you. Whatever needed explanation seemed to me 
best said to you. 

* % * # # 

" I have spoken to you, I think, and certainly to others, of 
what appears to me an incapacity in you for management of 
great practical work, — due, in my opinion, partly to an ideal 
standard of perfection, which rinds it hard to accept any limita- 
tions in perfection, even temporarily ; partly to a strange power 

(z) Partly remembered then ? but with a vague sense of danger in explain- 
ing the same, except to myself ! I do not think the explanation would have 
been 'unwise,' as it was certainly not 'uncalled-for.' But I suspect the 
sayings themselves to have been both. 



68 Notes and Correspondence. 

of gathering round you, and trusting, the wrong people, which 
I never could understand in you, as it mingles so strangely 
with rare powers of perception of character, and which always 
seemed to me therefore rather a deliberate ignoring of disqualifi- 
cations, in hope that that would stimulate to better action, but 
which hope was not realized. 

"In Mr. 's case, and so far as I can recollect in every 

case in which I have spoken of this, it has been when I have 
found people puzzled themselves by not finding they can take 
you as a practical guide in their own lives, yet feeling that 
you must mean practical result to follow on your teaching, 

and inclined to think you cannot help them. Mr. and 

I were great friends : when I was a girl, and he a young man, 
we read and talked over your books together. I had not seen 
him for many years till he asked me to come and see him and 
his wife and children. He is a manufacturer, face to face with 
difficult problems, full of desire to do right, with memories of 
ideals and resolutions, building his house, managing his mills, 
with a distinct desire to do well. I found him inclined to 
think perhaps after all he had been wrong, and that you could 
teach him nothing, because he could not apply your definite 
directions to his own life. The object of my words was just this : 
1 Oh, do not think so. All the nobility of standard and aim, 
all the conscience and clear sight of right principles, is there, 
and means distinct action. Do not look to Mr. Ruskin for 
definite direction about practical things : he is not the best 
judge of them. You, near to the necessities of this tangible 
world and of action, must make your own life, and apply prin- 
ciples to it. Necessity is God's, rightly estimated, and cannot 
be inconsistent with right. But listen to the teacher who sees 
nearer to perfection than almost any of us : never lose sight or 
memory of what he sets before you, and resolutely apply it, 
cost what it may, to your own life.' 



Notes and Correspondence. 69 

" I do think you most incapable of carrying out any great 
practical scheme. I do not the less think you have influenced, 
and will influence, action deeply and rightly. 

'.*: 7(P l(c V 

" I have never said, or implied, that I was unable to answer 
any question. I did think, and do think, the explanation of 
what I might have said, except to yourself likely to do you more 
harm than good ; partly because I do strongly think, and cannot 
be sure that I might not have said, that I do feel you to have 
a certain incapacity for practical work ; and all the other side 
it is difficult for the world to see. It is different to say it to 
a friend who reverences you, and one says more completely 
what one means. I was glad when you said, 'Let the thing 
be while you are ill.' God knows I am ill, but remember your 
proposal to leave it was in answer to one offering to tell you 
all. And I never have to any other single creature made my 
health any reason whatsoever for not answering any question, 
or fulfilling indeed any other duty of my not very easy life. 
Clearly, some one has received an impression from what I 

said to Mr. , very different from what I had intended 

to convey, but he seemed in tune with your spirit and mine 
towards you when I spoke. 

" For any pain my action may have given you, I earnestly 
desire to apologize — yes, to ask you to forgive me. I never 
wronged or injured you or your work in thought or word 
intentionally ; and I am, whatever you may think, or seem to 

sa . v > "Faithfully yours, 

"Octavia Hjll." 

To this letter I replied as follows : — 

" Br ant wood, November 4, 1877. 
" My dear Octavia, — I am glad to have at last your letter, 
though it was to Mrs. , and not to me, that it ought at or.ce 

2ND SERIES, II.] 6 



70 Notes and Correspondence. 

to have been addressed, without forcing me to all the trouble of 
getting at it. Your opinions of me are perhaps of little moment 
to me, but of immense moment to others. But for this par- 
ticular opinion, that I trust the wrong people, I wish you to 
give me two sufficient examples of the error you have imagined. 
You yourself will be a notable third ; and at the mouth of 
two or three witnesses, the word will be established. 

" But as I have never yet, to my own knowledge, ' trusted ' 
any one who has failed me, except yourself, and one other person 
of whom I do not suppose you are thinking, I shall be greatly 
instructed if you will give me the two instances I ask for. I 
never trusted even my father's man of business ; but took my 
father's word as the wisest I could get. And I know not a 
single piece of business I have ever undertaken, which has failed 
by the fault of any person chosen by me to conduct it. 

"Tell me, therefore, of two at least. Then I will request 
one or two more things of you ; being always 

"Affectionately yours, 

"J. R. 

" P.S. — Of all injuries you could have done — not me — but 
the cause I have in hand, the giving the slightest countenance 
to the vulgar mob's cry of 'unpractical' was the fatallest." 

The reader may perhaps, at first, think this reply to Miss 
Hill's sentimental letter somewhat hard. He will see by the 
following answer that I knew the ground : — 

" 14, Nottingham Place, W., Nov. 5, 1877. 
" Dear Mr. Ruskin, — You say that I am a notable instance 
of your having trusted the wrong people. Whether you have 
been right hitherto, or are right now, the instance is equally 
one of failure to understand character. It is the only one I 
have a right to give. I absolutely refuse to give other instances. 



Notes and Correspondence. 71 

or to discuss the characters of third parties. My opinion of 
your power to judge character is, and must remain, a matter 
of opinion. Discussions about it would be useless and endless ; 
besides, after your letters to me, you will hardly be astonished 
that I decline to continue this correspondence. 

" I remain, yours faithfully, 

"Octavia Hill." 

I wasj however, a little astonished, though it takes a good 
deal to astonish me nowadays, at the suddenness of the change 
in tone; but it rendered my next reply easier: — 

" Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 

Jth November, 1877. 

" My dear Octavia, — You err singularly in imagining I invited 
you to a 'discussion.' I am not apt to discuss anything with 
persons of your sentimental volubility ; and those with whom 
I enter on discussion do not, therefore, find it either useless 
or endless. 

" I required of yOu an answer to a perfectly simple question. 
That answer I require again. Your most prudent friends will, 
I believe, if you consult them, recommend your rendering it ; 
for they will probably perceive — what it is strange should have 
escaped a mind so logical and delicate as yours — that you 
have a better right to express your ' opinions ' of my discarded 
servants, to myself, who know them, and after the time is 
long past when your frankness could have injured them, than 
to express your 'opinions' of your discarded master, to persons 
who know nothing of him, at the precise time when such 
expression of opinion is calculated to do him the most fatal 
injury. 

" In the event of your final refusal, you will oblige me by 
sending me a copy of my last letter for publication, — your own 
being visibly prepared for the press. « t r 



72 Notes and Correspondence. 

"Should you inadvertently have destroyed my last letter, 
a short abstract of its contents, as apprehended by you, will 
be all that is needful." 

" 14, Nottingham Place, W., %th Nov., 1877. 
" Dear Mr. Ruskin, — I did consult friends whom I consider 
both prudent and generous before I declined to make myself 
the accuser of third persons. 

'■I send you at your request a copy of your last letter; but 
I disapprove of the publication of this correspondence. Such a 
publication obviously could not be complete,* and if incomplete 
must be misleading. Neither do I see what good object it could 
serve. 

" I feel it due to our old friendship to add the expression 
of my conviction that the publication would injure you, and 
could not injure me. 

" I am, yours faithfully, 

" Octavia Hill." 

I saw no occasion for continuing the correspondence farther, 
and closed it on the receipt of this last letter, in a private 
note, which Miss Hill is welcome to make public, if she has 
retained it. 

Respecting the general tenor of her letters, I have only now 
to observe that she is perfectly right in supposing me unfit to 
conduct, myself, the operations with which I entrusted her ; but 
that she has no means of estimating the success of other opera- 
tions with which I did not entrust her, — such as the organization 
of the Oxford Schools of Art ; and that she has become unfor- 
tunately of late confirmed in the impression, too common among 
reformatory labourers, that no work can be practical which is 

* This is not at all obvious to me. I can complete it to the last 
syllable, if Miss Hill wishes. 



Notes and Correspondence. 73 

prospective. The real relations of her effort to that of the St. 
George's Guild have already been stated, (Fors, Oct. 187 1, 
pages 13, 14) \ and the estimate which I had formed of it is 
shown not to have been unkind, by her acknowledgment of it 
in the following letter, — justifying me, I think, in the disappoint- 
ment expressed in the beginning of this article. 

11 14, Nottingham Place, Oct. yd, 1875. 

" My dear Mr. Ruskin, — I send you accounts of both blocks 
of buildings, and have paid in to your bank the second cheque, 
—that for Paradise Place, £20 $s. 8d. I think neither account 
requires explanation. 

' But I have to thank you, more than words will achieve doing, 
in silent gratitude, for your last letter, which I shall treasure as 
one of my best possessions. I had no idea you could have 
honestly spoken so of work which I have always thought had 
impressed you more with its imperfections, than as contributing 
to any good end. That it actually was in large measure derived 
from you, there can be no doubt. I have been reading during 
my holidays, for the first time since before I knew you, the 
first volume of ' Modern Painters,' which Mr. Bond was good 
enough to lend me these holidays; and I was much impressed, 
not only with the distinct recollection I had of paragraph after 
paragraph when once the subject was recalled, — not only with 
the memory of how the passages had struck me when a girl, — 
but how even the individual words had been new to me then, 
and the quotations, — notably that from George Herbert about 
the not fooling, — had first sent me to read the authors quoted 
from. I could not help recalling, and seeing distinctly, how the 
whole tone and teaching of the book, striking on the imagination 
at an impressionable age, had biassed, not only this public work, 
but all my life. I always knew it, but I traced the distinct lines 
of influence. Like all derived work, it has been, as I said, built 
out of material my own experience has furnished, and built very 



74 Notes and Correspondence. 

differently to anything others would have done ; but I know- 
something of how much it owes to you, and in as far as it has 
been in any way successful, I wish you would put it among 
the achievements of your life. You sometimes seem to see so 
few of these. Mine is indeed poor and imperfect and small; 
but it is in this kind of way that the best influence tells, going 
right down into people, and coming out in a variety of forms, 
not easily recognized, yet distinctly known by those who know 
best ; and hundreds of people, whose powers are tenfold my 
own, have received, — will receive, — their direction from your 
teaching, and will do work better worth your caring to have 

influenced. 

11 1 am, yours always affectionately, 

" Octavia Hill." 

With this letter the notice of its immediate subject in Fors 
will cease, though I have yet a word to say for my other 
acquaintances and fellow-labourers. Miss Hill will, I hope, 
retain the administration of the Marylebone houses as long as 
she is inclined, making them, by her zealous and disinterested 
service, as desirable and profitable a possession to the Guild 
as hitherto to me. It is always to be remembered that she 
has acted as the administrator of this property, and paid me 
five per cent, upon it regularly, — entirely without salary, and 
in pure kindness to the tenants. My own part in the work 
was in taking five instead of ten per cent., which the houses 
would have been made to pay to another landlord ; and in 
pledging myself neither to sell the property nor raise the rents, 
thus enabling Miss Hill to assure the tenants of peace in 
their homes, and encourage every effort at the improvement 
of them. 



FORS CLAVIGERA 

SECOND SERIES. 






YEA, THE WORK OF OUR HANDS, ESTABLISH THOU IT. 



LETTER THE 87th. 

THE SNOW MANGER. 

By my promise that, in the text of this series of 
Fors, there shall be " no syllable of complaint, or of 
scorn," I pray the reader to understand that I in 
no wise intimate any change of feeling on my own 
part I never felt more difficulty in my life than I 
do, at this instant, in not lamenting certain things with 
more than common lament, and in not speaking of 
certain people with more than common scorn. 

Nor is it possible to fulfil these rightly warning 
functions of Fors without implying some measure of 
scorn. For instance, in the matter of choice of books, 
it is impossible to warn my scholars against a book, 
without implying a certain kind of contempt for it. 
For I never would warn them against any writer 
whom I had complete respect for, — however adverse 
to me, or my work. There are few stronger adver- 

2ND SERIES, III.] J 



76 Fors Clavigera. 

saries to St. George than Voltaire. But my scholars 
are welcome to read as much of Voltaire as they 
like. His voice is mighty among the ages. Whereas 
they are entirely forbidden Miss Martineau, — not 
because she is an infidel, but because she is a 
vulgar and foolish one.* 

Do not say, or think, I am breaking my word 
in asserting, once for all, with reference to example, 
this necessary principle. This very vow and law that 
I have set myself, must be honoured sometimes in the 
breach of it, so only that the transgression be visibly 
not wanton or incontinent. Nay, in this very instance 
it is because I am not speaking in pure contempt, 
but have lately been as much surprised by the beauty 
of a piece of Miss Martineau's writings, as I have 
been grieved by the deadly effect of her writings gene- 
rally on the mind of one of my best pupils, who had 
read them without telling me, that I make her a defi- 
nite example. In future, it will be ordinarily enough 
for me to say to my pupils privately that they are 
not to read such and such books ; while, for general 
order to my Fors readers, they may be well content, 
it seems to me, with the list of the books I want 
them to read constantly, and with such casual re- 

* I use the word vulgar, here, in its first sense of egoism, not of selfish- 
ness, but of not seeing one's own relations to the universe. Miss Martineau 
plans a book — afterwards popular — and goes to breakfast, "not knowing 
what a great thing had been done." So Mr. Buckle, dying, thinks only — 
he shall not finish his book. Not at all whether God will ever make up His. 



Fors Clavigera. 77 

commendation as I may be able to give of current 
literature. For instance, there is a quite lovely little 
book just come out about Irish children, ' Castle Blair,' 
— (which, let me state at once, I have strong personal, 
though stronger impersonal, reasons for recommending, 
the writer being a very dear friend ; and some Irish 
children, for many and many a year, much more than 
that). But the ///^personal reasons are — -first, that the 
book is good and lovely, and true ; having the best 
description of a noble child in it, (Winny,) that I ever 
read ; and nearly the best description of the next best 
thing — a noble dog ; and reason second is that, after 
Miss Edgeworth's ' Ormond ' and ' Absentee,' this little 
book will give more true insight into the proper way 
of managing Irish people than any other I know.* 

Wherewith I have some more serious recommendations 
to give ; and the first shall be of this most beautiful 
passage of Miss Martineau, which is quoted from 
1 Deerbrook ' in the review of her autobiography: — 

"In the house of every wise parent, may then be 
seen an epitome of life — a sight whose consolation is 
needed at times, perhaps, by all. Which of the little 

* Also, I have had it long on my mind to name the ' Adventures of a 
Phaeton ' as a very delightful and wise book of its kind ; very full of 
pleasant play, and deep and pure feeling ; much interpretation of some 
of the best points of German character ; and, last and least, with pieces 
of description in it which I should be glad, selfishly, to think inferior to 
what the public praise in ' Modern Painters,' — I can only say, they seem to 
mc quite as good. 

7 A 



78 Fors Clavigera. 

children of a virtuous household can conceive of his 
entering into his parents' pursuits, or interfering with 
them ? How sacred are the study and the office, the 
apparatus of a knowledge and a power which he can 
only venerate ! Which of these little ones dreams of 
disturbing the course of his parents' thought or achieve- 
ment ? Which of them conceives of the daily routine 
of the household — its going forth and coming in, its 
rising and its rest — having been different before its 
birth, or that it would be altered by his absence ? It 
is even a matter of surprise to him when it now and 
then occurs to him that there is anything set apart 
for him — that he has clothes and couch, and that his 
mother thinks and cares for him. If he lags behind 
in a walk, or finds himself alone among the trees, he 
does not dream of being missed ; but home rises up 
before him as he has always seen it — his father 
thoughtful, his mother occupied, and the rest gay, 
with the one difference of his* not being there. This 
he believes, and has no other trust than in his shriek 
of terror, for being ever remembered more. Yet, all 
the while, from day to day, from year to year, without 
one moment's intermission, is the providence of his 
parent around him, brooding over the workings of his 
infant spirit, chastening its passions, nourishing its 
affections — now troubling it with salutary pain, now 
animating it with even more wholesome delight. All 

* Italics mine. 



Fors Clavigera. 79 

the while, is the order of the household affairs regu- 
lated for the comfort and profit of these lowly little 
ones, though they regard it reverently, because they 
cannot comprehend it. They may not know of all 
this — how their guardian bends over their pillow 
nightly, and lets no word of their careless talk drop 
unheeded, and records every sob of infant grief, hails 
every brightening gleam of reason and every chirp of 
childish glee — they may not know this, because they 
could not understand it aright, and each little heart 
would be inflated with pride, each little mind would 
lose the grace and purity of its unconsciousness ; but 
the guardianship is not the less real, constant, and 
tender for its being unrecognized by its objects." 

This passage is of especial value to me just now, 
because I have presently to speak about faith, and its 
power ; and I have never myself thought of the innocent 
faithlessness of children, but only of their faith. The 
idea given here by Miss Martineau is entirely new to 
me, and most beautiful. And had she gone on thus, 
expressing her own feelings modestly, she would have 
been a most noble person, and a verily ' great ' writer. 
She became a vulgar person, and a little writer, in 
her conceit ; — of which I can say no more, else I 
should break my vow unnecessarily. 

And by way of atonement for even this involuntary 
disobedience to it, I have to express great shame for 
some words spoken, in one of the letters of the first 



8o Fors Clavivera. 



»' 



series, in total misunderstanding of Mr. Gladstone's 
character. 

I know so little of public life, and see so little of 
the men who are engaged in it, that it has become 
impossible for me to understand their conduct or 
speech, as it is reported in journals. 

There are reserves, references, difficulties, limits, ex- 
citements, in all their words and ways, which are 
inscrutable to me ; and at this moment I am unable 
to say a word about the personal conduct of any one, 
respecting the Turkish or any other national question, — 
remaining myself perfectly clear as to what was always 
needed, and still needs, to be done, but utterly unable 
to conceive why people talk, or do, or do not, as 
hitherto they have spoken, done, and left undone. But 
as to the actual need, it is now nearly two years since 
Mr. Carlyle, Mr. Froude, and several other men of 
1 creditable ' (shall we say ? ) name, gathered together at 
call of Mr. Gladstone, as for a great national need, 
together with a few other men of more retired and 
studious mind, Edward Burne Jones for one, and myself 
for another, did then plainly and to the best of their 
faculty tell the English nation what it had to do. 

The people of England answered, by the mouths of 
their journals, that Mr. Carlyle and Mr. Froude knew 
nothing of history, that Mr. Gladstone was a dishonest 
leader of a party, and that the rest of us were insig- 
nificant, or insane, persons. 



Fors Clavizera. 81 



Y> 



Whereupon the significant and sagacious persons, 
guiding the opinions of the public, through its press, 
set themselves diligently to that solemn task. 

And I will take some pains to calculate for you, 
my now doubtless well-informed and soundly purposed 
readers, what expenditure of type there has been on 
your education, guidance, and exhortation by those 
significant persons, in these last two years. 

I am getting into that Cathedra Pestilentiae again! — - 
My good reader, I mean, truly and simply, that I hope 
to get, for next month, some approximate measure of 
the space in heaven which would be occupied by the 
unfolded tissue or web of all the columns of the 
British newspapers which have during these last two 
years discussed, in your pay, the Turkish question. 
All that counsel, you observe, you have bought with 
a price. Mr. Carlyle and Mr. Froude gave you theirs 
gratis, as all the best things are given ; I put nearly a 
prohibitory tax upon mine, that you might not merely 
travel with your boots on it ; but here was an article 
of counsel made up for your consumption at market 
price. You have paid for it, I can tell you that, ap- 
proximately, just now, one million nine hundred and 
four thousand nine hundred and eighteen pounds. You 
have voted also in your beautiful modern manner, and 
daily directed your governors what they were to do for 

British interests and honour. And your result is 

well, you shall tell me your opinions of that next month ; 



82 Fors Clavigera. 

but — whatever your opinions may be — here IS the 
result for you, in words which are not of the newest, 
certainly, and yet are in a most accurate sense " This 
Evening's News." 

" Quare fremuerunt Gentes, et Populi meditati sunt 
inania. 

" Astiterunt Reges terrae, et Principes convenerunt in 
unum, adversus Dominum et adversus Christum ejus. 

" Disrumpamus vincula eorum, et projiciamus a nobis 
jugum ipsorum. 

" Qui habitat in celis irridebit eos, et Dominus sub- 
sannabit eos. 

" Tunc loquetur ad eos in ira sua, et in furore suo 
conturbabit eos." 

If you can read that bit of David and St. Jerome, 
as it stands, so be it. If not, this translation is closer 
than the one you, I suppose, don't know : — 

" Why have the nations foamed as the sea ; and 
the people meditated emptiness ? 

" The Kings of the earth stood, and the First 
Ministers met together in conference, against the Lord, 
and against His Christ. 

" Let us break, they said, the chains of the Lord 
and Christ. Let us cast away from us the yoke of 
the Lord and Christ. 

" He that inhabits heaven shall laugh at them, and 
the Lord shall mock them. 



Fors Ciavigera. 83 

" Then shall He speak to them in His anger, and 
torment them with His strength." 

There are one or two of the points of difference in 
this version which I wish you to note. Our ' why do 
the heathen rage ' is unintelligible to us, because we 
don't think of ourselves as ' heathen ' usually. But we 
arc ; and the nations spoken of are — the British public, 
— and the All-publics of our day, and of all days. 

Nor is the word ' rage ' the right one, in the least. 
It means to " fret idly," like useless sea, — incapable of 
real rage, or of any sense, — foaming out only its own 
shame. " The wicked are like the troubled sea, when 
it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt ; " 
— and even just now — the purest and best of public 
men spitting out emptiness only and mischief. " Fluc- 
tibus et fremitu assurgens, Benace MARINO." In the 
Septuagint, the word is to neigh like a horse — (" They 
were as fed horses in the morning ; every one neighed 
after his neighbour's wife.") 

Then, I have put the full words ' of the Lord and 
Christ ' in the third verse, instead of ' their,' because 
else people don't see who ' they ' are. 

And in the fourth verse, observe that the ■ anger ' 
of the Lord is the mind in which He speaks to the 
kings ; but His ' fury ' is the practical stress of the 
thunder of His power, and of the hail and death 
with which He ' troubles ' them and torments. Read 
this piece of evening's news, for instance. It is one 



84 Fors Clavigera. 

of thousands such. That is what is meant by " He 
shall vex them in His sore displeasure," which words 
you have chanted to your pipes and bellows so sweetly 
and so long, — ' His so-o-o-ore dis-plea-a-sure.' 

But here is the things nearly at your doors, 
reckoning by railway distance. " The mother got im- 
patient, thrust the child into the snow, and hurried 
on — not looking back." 

But you are not ' vexed,' you say ? No, — perhaps 
that is because you are so very good. And perhaps 
the muffins will be as cold as the snow, too, soon, if 
you don't eat them. Yet if, after breakfast, you look 
out of window westward, you may see some " vexa- 
tion " even in England and Wales, of which more, 
presently, and if you read this second Psalm again, and 
make some effort to understand it, it may be provision- 
ally useful to you, — provisionally on your recognizing 
that there is a God at all, and that it is a Lord that 
reigneth, and not merely a Law that reigneth, accord- 
ing to the latter-day divinity of the Duke of Argyll 
and Mr. George Dawson. Have patience with me. 
I'm not speaking as I didn't mean to. I want you 
to read, and attentively, some things that the Duke of 
Argyll and Mr. Dawson have said ; but you must 
have the caterpillar washed out of the cabbage, first. 

I want you to read, — ever so many things. First 
of all, and nothing else till you have well mastered 
that, the history of Montenegro given by Mr. Gladstone 



Fors Clavigera. 85 

in the 'Nineteenth Century' for May 1877, p. 360. 
After that, ' Some Current Fallacies about Turks,' etc., 
by the Rev. Malcolm MacColl, ' Nineteenth Century,' 
December 1877, p. 831. After that, the Duke of 
Argyll's 'Morality in Politics.' And after that, the 
obituary of ' George Dawson, Politician, Lecturer, and 
Preacher,' by the Rev. R. W. Dale, ' Nineteenth Century,' 
August 1877, p. 44. 

It is an entirely kind and earnest review of one of 
the chief enemies of Evangelicalism, by an Evangelical 
clergyman. The closing passages of it (pp. 59 to 61) 
are entirely beautiful and wise, — the last sentence, let 
me thankfully place for an abiding comfort and power 
in St. George's Schools. 

11 To despise the creeds in which the noblest intellects 
of Christendom in past times found rest, is presumptuous 
folly ; to suppose that these creeds are a final and exact 
statement of all that the Church can ever know, is to 
forget that in every creed there are two elements, — 
the divine substance, and the human form. The form 
must change with the changing thoughts of men ; and 
even the substance may come to shine with clearer 
light, and to reveal unsuspected glories, as God and 
man come nearer together." 

And the whole of the piece of biography thus nobly 
closed is full of instruction ; but, in the course of it, 
there is a statement (pp. 49 — 5 1) respecting which I 
have somewhat contradictory to say, and that very 



86 



Fors Clavigera. 



gravely. I am sorry to leave out any of the piece I 
refer to : but those of my readers who have not access 
to the book, will find the gist of what I must contra- 
dict, qualifiedly, in these following fragments. 

A. " The strength of his (George Dawson's) moral 
teaching was largely derived from the firmness of his 
own conviction that the laws which govern human life 
are not to be evaded ; that they assert their authority 
with relentless severity ; that it is of no use to try to 
cheat them ; that they have no pity ; that we must 
obey them, or else suffer the consequences of our dis- 
obedience. He insisted, with a frequency, an earnestness, 
and an energy which showed the depth of his own sense 
of the importance of this part of his teaching, that what 
a man sows he must also reap, — no matter though he 
has sown ignorantly or carelessly ; that the facts of the 
physical and moral universe have a stern reality ; and 
that, if we refuse to learn and to recognize the facts, 
the best intentions arc unavailing. The iron girder 
must be strong enough to bear the weight that is put 
upon it, or else it will give way, — no matter whether 
the girder is meant to support the roof of a railway 
station, or the floor of a church, or the gallery of a 
theatre. Hard work is necessary for success in busi- 
ness ; and the man who works hardest — other things 
being equal — is most likely to succeed, whether he is 
a saint or a sinner." 

B. " The facts of the universe are steadfast, and not 



Fors Clavigtt 87 

to be changed by human fancies or follies ; the laws 

>f the universe are relentless, and will not relax in 

le presence of human weakness, or give way under 

le pressure of human passion and force." 

C " No matter though you have a most devout and 

ihscientious belief that by mere praying you can save 

a town from typhoid fever ; if the drainage is bad and 

ie water foul, praying will never save the town from 

typhoid." 

Thus far, Mr. Dale has been stating the substance 
if Mr. Dawson's teaching; he now, as accepting that 
substance, so far as it reaches, himself proceeds to 
:arry it farther, and to apply the same truths — ad- 
litting them to be truths — to spiritual things. And 
low, from him we have this following most important 
jgftd noble passage, which I accept for wholly true, 
id place in St. George's schools. 

D. " It would be strange if these truths became false 
as soon as they are applied to the religious side of 
the life of man. The spiritual universe is no more to 
be made out of a man's own head, than the material 
universe or the moral universe. T/iere y too, the con- 
ditions of human life are fixed. There, too, we have 
to respect the facts ; and, whether we respect them or 
not, the facts remain. Tlicn\ too, we have to confess 
the authority of the actual laws ; and, whether we con- 
fess it or not, we shall suffer for breaking them. To 
suppose that, in relation to the spiritual universe, it 



88 Fors Clavigera. 

is safe or right to believe what we think it pleasant 
to believe, — to suppose that, because we think it is 
eminently desirable that the spiritual universe should 
be ordered in a particular way, therefore we are at 
liberty to act as though this were certainly the way 
in which it is ordered, and that, though we happen ' to 
be wrong, it will make no difference, — is preposterous. 
No ; water drowns, fire burns, whether we believe it 
or not. No belief of ours will change the facts, or 
reverse the laws of the spiritual universe. It is our 
first business to discover the laws, and to learn how 
the facts stand." 

I accept this passage — observe, totally, — but I accept 
it for itself. The basis of it — the preceding Dawsonian 
statements, A, B, and C, — I wholly deny, so far as I 
am a Christian. If the Word of Christ be true, the 
facts of the physical universe are not steadfast. They 
are steadfast only for the infidel. But these signs shall 
evermore follow them that believe. " They shall take 
up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it 
shall not hurt them." No matter how bad the drain- 
age of the town, how foul the water, " He shall deliver 
thee from the noisome pestilence ; and though a thousand 
fall at thy right hand, it shall not come nigh thee* 
This, as a Christian, I am bound to believe. This, 
speaking as a Christian, I am bound to proclaim, what- 
ever the consequences may be to the town, or the 
opinion of me formed by the Common Council ; as a 



Fors Clavigera. 89 

Christian, I believe prayer to be, in the last sense, 
sufficient for the salvation of the town ; and drainage, 
in the last sense, insufficient for its salvation. Not 
that you will find me, looking back through the pages 
of Fors, unconcerned about drainage. But if, of the 
two, I must choose between drains and prayer — why, 
" look you " — whatever you may think of my wild and 
whirling words, I will go pray. 

And now, therefore, for St George's schools, I most 
solemnly reverse the statement B, and tell my scholars, 
with all the force that is in me, that the facts of the 
universe are NOT steadfast, that they ARE changed by 
human fancies, and by human follies (much more by 
human wisdoms), — that the laws of the universe are 
no more relentless than the God who wrote them, — 
that they WILL relax in the presence of human weak- 
ness, and DO give way under the pressure of human 
passion and force, and give way so totally, before so 
little passion and force, that if you have but ' faith ' as 
a grain of mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible 
unto you. 

" Are these merely fine phrases, or is he mad, 
as people say ? " one of my polite readers asks of 
another. 

Neither, oh polite and pitying friend. Observe, in 
the first place, that I simply speak as a Christian, and 
express to you accurately what Christian doctrine is. I 
am myself so nearly, as you are so grievously, faithless 



90 Fors Clavigera. 

to less than the least grain of — Colman's — mustard, that 
/ can take up no serpents, and raise no dead. 

But I don't say, therefore, that the dead are not 
raised, nor that Christ is not risen, nor the head of 
the serpent bowed under the foot of the Seed of the 
Woman. I say only, — if my faith is vain, it is because 
I am yet in my sins. And to others I say — what 
Christ bids me say. That, simply, — that, literally, — 
that, positively ; and no more. " If thou wilt believe, 
thou shalt see the salvation of God." 

If thou wilt (wouldest) — Faith being essentially a 
matter of will, after some other conditions are met. 
For how shall they believe on whom they have not 
heard, and how shall they hear without a preacher ? 
Yea ; but — asks St. George, murmuring behind his visor, 
— much more, how shall they hear without — ears. 

He that hath ears, (it is written) — let him hear ; — 
but how of him that hath none ? 

For observe, far the greater multitude of men cannot 
hear of Christ at all. You can't tell an unloving 
person, what love is, preach you till his doomsday. 
What is to become of them, God knows, who is their 
Judge ; but since they cannot hear of Christ, they 
cannot believe in Him, and for them, the Laws of the 
Universe are unchangeable enough. But for those who 
can hear — comes the farther question whether they will. 
And then, if they do, whether they will be steadfast 
in the faith, steadfast behind the shield, point in earth, 



Fors Clavigera. 91 

cross of iron — (compare ' Laws of Fesole,' chapter iii., 
add the old heraldic word ' restrial,' of bearings, first 
written in blood,) — else, having begun in the spirit, 
they may only be " made perfect in the flesh." (Gal. 
iii. 3.) But if, having begun in the Spirit, they grieve 
it not, there will be assuredly among them the chorus- 
leader. He that " leads forth the choir of the Spirit," 
and worketh MIRACLES among you. (Gal. iii. 5.) 

Now, lastly, read in the ninth chapter of Froude's 
History of England, the passage beginning, " Here, 
therefore, we are to enter upon one of the grand 
scenes of history,"* down to, " He desired us each to 
choose our confessor, and to confess our sins one to 
another ; " and the rest, I give here, for end of this 
Fors : — 

" The day after, he preached a sermon in the chapel 
on the 59th Psalm: 'O God, Thou hast cast us off, 
Thou hast destroyed us ; ' concluding with the words, 
! It is better that we should suffer here a short penance 
for our faults, than be reserved for the eternal pains 
of hell hereafter ; ' — and so ending, he turned to us, 
and bade us all do as we saw him do. Then rising 
from his place he went direct to the eldest of the 
brethren, who was sitting nearest to himself, and 
kneeling before him, begged his forgiveness for any 
offence which in heart, word, or deed he might have 

* Octavo edition of 1858, vol. ii., p. 341. 

2ND SERIES, III.] 8 



92 Fors Clavigcra. 

committed against him. Thence he proceeded to the 
next, and said the same ; and so to the next, through 
us all, we following him, and saying as he did, — each 
from each imploring pardon. 

" Thus, with unobtrusive nobleness, did these poor 
men prepare themselves for the end ; not less beautiful 
in their resolution, not less deserving the everlasting 
remembrance of mankind, than those three hundred 
who in the summer morning sate combing their golden 
hair in the passes of Thermopylae. We will not regret 
their cause ; there is no cause for which any man can 
more nobly suffer than to witness that it is better for 
him to die than to speak words which he does not 
mean. Nor, in this their hour of trial, were they left 
without higher comfort. 

" ' The third day after,' the story goes on, ' was the 
mass of the Holy Ghost, and God made known His 
presence among us. For when the host was lifted up, 
there came as it were a whisper of air, which breathed 
upon our faces as we knelt. Some perceived it with 
the bodily senses ; all felt it as it thrilled into their 
hearts. And then followed a sweet, soft sound of 
music, at which our venerable father was so moved, 
God being thus abundantly manifest among us, that 
he sank down in tears, and for a long time could not 
continue the service — we all remaining stupefied, hear- 
ing the melody, and feeling the marvellous effects of if 
upon our spirits, but knowing neither whence it came 






Fors C/avigera. 93 

nor whither it went. Only our hearts rejoiced as we 
perceived that God was with us indeed.' * 

It can't be the end of this Fors, however, I find, 
(15th February, half-past seven morning,) for I have 
forgotten twenty things I meant to say ; and this 
instant, in my morning's reading, opened and read, 
being in a dreamy state, and not knowing well what 
I was doing, — of all things to find a new message ! — 
in the first chapter of Proverbs. 

I was in a dreamy state, because I had got a letter 
about the Thirlmere debate, which was to me, in my 
purposed quietness, like one of the voices on the hill 
behind the Princess Pairzael. And she could not hold, 
without cotton in her ears, dear wise sweet thing. But 
luckily for me, I have just had help from the Beata 
Vigri at Venice, who sent me her own picture and 
St. Catherine's, yesterday, for a Valentine ; and so I 
can hold on : — only just read this first of Proverbs with 
me, please. 

" The Proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, king 
of Israel. 

" To know wisdom and instruction." 

(Not to ' opine ' them.) 

" To perceive the words of understanding." 

(He that hath eyes, let him read — he that hath 
ears, hear. And for the Blind and the Deaf, — if 
patient and silent by the right road-side, — there may 
also be some one to say ' He is coming.') 



94 Fors Clavigera. 

"To receive the instruction of WISDOM, JUSTICE, 
and Judgment, and Equity." 

Four things, — oh friends, — which you have not only 
to perceive, but to receive. And the species of these 
four things, and the origin of their species, — you know 
them, doubtless, well, — in these scientific days ? 

" To give subtlety to the simple ; to the young man, 
knowledge and discretion." 

(Did ever one hear, lately, of a young man's want- 
ing either ? Or of a simple person who wished to be 
subtle ? Are not we all subtle — even to the total 
defeat of our hated antagonists, the Prooshians and 
Rooshians ?) 

" A wise man will hear and will increase learning." 

{e.g. "A stormy meeting took place in the Birmingham 
Town Hall last night. It was convened by the Con- 
servative Association for the purpose of passing a vote 
of confidence in the Government ; but the Liberal Asso- 
ciation also issued placards calling upon Liberals to 
attend. The chair was taken by Mr. Stone, the Pre- 
sident of the Conservative Association, but the greater 
part of his speech was inaudible even upon the platform, 
owing to the frequent bursts of applause, groans, and 
Kentish fire, intermingled with comic songs. Flags 
bearing the words ' Vote for Bright ' and ' Vote for 
Gladstone ' were hoisted, and were torn to pieces by 
the supporters of the Government Dr. Sebastian Evans 
moved, and Alderman Brinsley seconded, a resolution 






Fors Clavigera. 95 

expressing confidence in Her Majesty's Government. 
Mr. J. S. Wright moved, and Mr. R. W. Dale seconded, 
an amendment, but neither speaker could make himself 
heard; and on the resolution being put to the meeting 
it was declared carried, but the Liberal speakers dis- 
puted the decision of the chairman, and asserted that 
two-thirds of the meeting were against the resolution." — 
Pall Mall Gazette, February 13th, 1878.) 

"And a man of understanding shall attain unto wise 
counsels." 

(Yes, in due time ; but oh me — over what burning 
marie, and by what sifting of wheat !) 

" To understand a proverb, and the interpretation." 

(Yes, truly — all this chapter I have known from 
my mother's knee — and never understood it till this 
very hour.) 

" The words of the wise and their dark sayings." 

(Behold this dreamer cometh, — and this is his 
dream.) 

11 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of know- 
ledge : but fools despise wisdom and instruction." 

(e.g. " Herr , one of the Socialist leaders, declaring 

that he and his friends, since they do not fear earthly 
Powers, are not likely to be afraid of Powers of any 
other kind." — Pall Mall Gazette, same date.*) 

* I take this passage out of an important piece of intelligence of a quite 
contrary and greatly encouraging kind. " A new political party has just 
been added to the many parties which already existed in Germany. It 



g 6 Fors Clavigera. 

" My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and 
forsake not the law of thy mother." 

The father is to teach the boy's reason ; and the 
mother, his will. He is to take his father's word, and 
to obey his mother's — look, even to the death. 

(Therefore it is that all laws of holy life are called 
1 mother-laws' in Venice. — Fors, 1877, page 38.) 

" For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy 
head." 

Alas, yes ! — once men were crowned in youth with 
the gold of their father's glory ; when the hoary head 
was crowned also in the way of righteousness. 

And so they went their way to prison, and to 
death. 

But now, by divine liberty, and general indication, 
even Solomon's own head is not crowned by any means. 
— Fors, 1877, p. 138. 

" And chains about thy neck " — (yes, collar of the 

calls itself ' the Christian Social party.' It is headed by several promi- 
nent Court preachers of Berlin, who, alarmed at the progress made by 
the Socialists, have taken this means of resisting their subversive doctrines. 
The object of the party is to convince the people that there can be no 
true system of government which is not based upon Christianity ; and this 
principle is being elaborately set forth in large and enthusiastic meetings. 
Herr Most, one of the Socialist leaders, has given the political pastors an 
excellent text for their orations by declaring that he and his friends, since 
they do not fear earthly Powers, are not likely to be afraid of Powers 
of any other kind. Branches of the Christian Socialist party have been 
formed in several of the most important German towns ; and they con- 
fidently expect to be able to secure a definite position in the next Imperial 
Parliament." 



Fors Clavigera. 97 

knightliest. Let not thy mother's Mercy and Truth 
forsake thee) bind them about thy neck, write them 
upon the tables of thine heart. She may forget : yet 
will not / forget thee. 

(Therefore they say — of the sweet mother laws of 
their loving God and lowly Christ — ' Disrumpamus 
vinculo, eorum et projiciamus a nobis, jugum ipsorum.') 

Nay — nay, but if they say thus then ? 

" Let us swallow them up alive, as the grave." 

(Other murderers kill, before they bury ; — but YOU, 
you observe, are invited to bury before you kill. All 
these things, when once you know their meaning, have 
their physical symbol quite accurately beside them. 
Read the story of the last explosion in Yorkshire — 
where a woman's husband and her seven sons fell — all 
seven — all eight — together : about the beginning of 
barley harvest it was, I think.) 

" And whole as those that go down into the pit." 

(Others murderers kill the body only, but YOU are 
invited to kill ' whole • — body and soul. Yea — and to 
kill with such wholeness that the creatures shall not 
even know they ever had a soul, any more than a frog 
of Egypt. You will not, think you. Ah, but hear yet 
— for second thoughts are best.) 

" We shall find all precious substance. We shall fill 
our houses with spoil." 

(ALL precious substance. Is there anything in those 
houses round the park that could possibly be suggested 



98 Fors Clavigera, 

as wanting ? — And spoil, — all taken from the killed 
people. Have they not sped — have they not divided 
the spoil — to every man a damsel or two. Not one bit 
of it all worked for with your own hand, — even so, 
mother of Sisera.) 

" Cast in thy lot among us." — (The Company is 
limited.) 

" Let us all have one " — (heart ? no, for none of us 
have that ; — mind ? no, for none of us have that ; — but 
let us all have one — ) " purse." And now — that you 
know the meaning of it — I write to the end my 
morning's reading. 

My son, walk not thou in the way with them. 

Refrain thy foot from their path. For their feet run 
to evil, and hasten to shed blood. 

Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any 
bird. 

And they lay wait for their own blood. 

They lurk privily for their own lives. 

SO ARE THE WAYS OF EVERY ONE THAT IS GREEDY 
OF GAIN WHICH TAKETH AWAY THE LIFE OF THE 
OWNERS THEREOF. 

Now, therefore, let us see what these ways are — the 
Viae Peccatorum, — the Pleasantness of them, and the 
Peace. 

The following are portions of a letter from the brother 
of one of my country friends here, who has been pastor 
of the English Baptist church in Tredegar about twenty 
years. 



Fbrs Clavioera. 99 

1 * Tr e i > to '.Mi, 11 th February t 1 878. 
" Some three hundred men are said to have been 
discharged from tjie works last week. The mills are to 
be closed all this week, and the iron-workers do not 
expect to be able to earn a penny. About a day and a 
half per week, on the average, is what they have been 
working for several months. The average earnings have 
been six shillings a week, and out of that they have to 
pay for coal, house-rent, and other expenses, leaving very 
little for food and clothing. The place has been divided 
into districts. I have one of these districts to investigate 
and relieve. In that district there are a hundred and 
thirty families in distress, and which have been relieved 
on an average of two shillings per week for each family 
for the last month. Many of them are some days every 
week without anything to eat, and with nothing but 
water to drink: they have nothing but rags to cover them 
by day, and very little beside their wearing apparel to 
cover them on their beds at night. They have sold or 
pawned their furniture, and everything for which they 
could obtain the smallest sum of money. In fact, they 
seem to me to be actually starving. In answer to our 
appeal, we have received about three hundred pounds, 
and have distributed the greater part of it. We also 
distributed a large quantity of clothing last week which 
we had received from different places. We feel increasing 
anxiety about the future. When we began, we hoped 
the prospect would soon brighten, and that we should 

2ND SERIES, III.] . C) 



ioo Fors Clavigera. 

be able before long to discontinue our efforts. Instead 
of that, however, things look darker than ever. We 
cannot tell what would become of us if contributions to 
our funds should now cease to come in, and we do not 
know how long we may hope that they will continue to 
come in, and really cannot tell who is to blame, nor what 
is the remedy." 

They know not at zvhat they stumble. How should 
they ? 

Well — will they hear at last then ? Has Jael-Atropos 
at last driven her nail well down through the Helmet 
of Death he wore instead of the Helmet of Salvation — 
mother of Sisera ? 



2\D SERIES, IV.] I O 



fl 6vrjT0L(TL SLKaLOTarrj, 7roXvoXf3e, TToOewrj, 
i£ txroTrjros act Ovtjtols ^aipovaa St/catotSj 
TravTifx, , 6\.f3iO[JLOip€, AiKGLLOcrvvr] fieyaXav^-qSj 
rj KaOapcLis yv(x)fJLcu<s aUl ra Seovra ySpa/Jtueis, 
a0pav(TTOs to oweiSoV aei Opaveis. yap airavTas, 
ocrcroL fxr] to crbv rjXOov v7ro fcvyov, aXXcmpocraXXoi, 
7rXd<TTLy£Lv j3piapfj(rL irapeyKXivavTcs aTrXrjo-TW 
acrTa(Tia(TT€, <f>iXrj 7rdvT(nv, cfuXoKOifju epareiVT], 
elprjvrj ^atpouo-a, J3lov £17X01x70, fiifSatov. 
aiet yap to irXtov arvyceig, l(r6Tr)TL 8e ^cupeis. 
kv crol yap cro^trj aperf}? reXos karOXbv i/caVci. 
kXvOl, Bed, KaKtrjv OvryrCov Opavovo~a 81*0.1009, 
<I)S av lcroppo7rtyo-iv del /2io9 taOXos oSevoi 
Ov-qroiv dvdpdiTruiv, 01 dpovprjs Kapirov eSovcnv, 
/cat t,iinav 7rdvT0)v, oirocf kv koXttoktl TL0r)V€t 
yaid Oed /xrJTTjp koX 7t6Vtio9 eu/aA.109 Zevs. 



Thou who doest right for mortals ,— full of blessings, — thou, the 

desired of hearts. 
Rejoicing, for thy equity, in mortal righteousness ; — 
All-honoured, ha fifty -fated, majestic-miened Justice, 
Who dost arbitrate, for j>ure minds, all that ought to be. 
Unmoved of countenance thou ; — (it is they who shall be moved 
That come not under thy yoke, — other always to others, 
Driving insatiably oblique the leaded scales.) 
Thou, — seditionless , dear to all — lover of revel, and lovely, 
Rejoicing in jbeace, zealous for fiureness of life, 
(For thou hatest always the More, and rejoicest i?i equalness. 
For in thee the wisdom of virtue reaches its noble end.) 
Hear, Goddess / — trouble thou justly the mischief of mortals, 
So that always in fair equipoise the noble life may travel 
Of mortal men that eat the fruit of the furrow, 
And of all living creatures, whom nurse in their bosoms 
Earth the Goddess mother, and the God of the deep sea. 

ORPHEUS.— Sixty-third Hymn. 



FORS CLAVIGERA. 

SECOND SERIES. 



" YEA, THE WORK OF OUR HANDS, ESTABLISH THOU IT.' 



LETTER THE 88th. 

THE CONVENTS OF ST. QUENTIN. 

Brantwood, Zth February, 1880. 

It is now close on two years since I was struck by 
the illness which brought these Letters to an end, as 
a periodical series ; nor did I think, on first recovery, 
that I should ever be able to conclude them otherwise 
than by a few comments in arranging their topical 
index. 

But my strength is now enough* restored to permit 
me to add one or two more direct pieces of teaching 
to the broken statements of principle which it has become 
difficult to gather out of the mixed substance of the 
book. These will be written at such leisure as I may 
find, and form an eighth volume, which with a thin ninth, 
containing indices, I shall be thankful if I can issue in 
this tenth year from the beginning of the work. 

To-day, being my sixty-first birthday, I would ask 



104 Fors Clavigera. 

leave to say a few words to the friends who care for 
me, and the readers who are anxious about me, touching 
the above-named illness itself. For a physician's estimate 
of it, indeed, I can only refer them to my physicians. 
But there were some conditions of it which I knew better 
than they could : namely, first, the precise and sharp 
distinction between the state of morbid inflammation of 
brain which gave rise to false visions, (whether in sleep, 
or trance, or waking, in broad daylight, with perfect 
knowledge of the real things in the room, while yet I 
saw others that were not there,) and the not morbid, 
however dangerous, states of more or less excited 
temper, and too much quickened thought, which gradually 
led up to the illness, accelerating in action during the 
eight or ten days preceding the actual giving way of 
the brain, (as may be enough seen in the fragmentary 
writing of the first edition of my notes on the Turner 
exhibition); and yet, up to the transitional moment of 
first hallucination, entirely healthy, and in the full sense 
of the word * sane ' ; just as the natural inflammation 
about a healing wound in flesh is sane, up to the transi- 
tional edge where it may pass at a crisis into morbific, 
or even mortified, substance. And this more or less 
inflamed, yet still perfectly healthy, condition of mental 
power, may be traced by any watchful reader, in Fors, 
nearly from its beginning, — that manner of mental 
ignition or irritation being for the time a great addi- 
tional force, enabling me to discern more clearly, and 






Fors Clavigera. 105 

say more vividly, what for long years it had been in 
my heart to say. 

Now I observed that in talking of the illness, whether 
during its access or decline, none of the doctors ever 
thought of thus distinguishing what was definitely 
diseased in the brain action, from what was simply 
curative — had there been time enough — of the wounded 
nature in me. And in the second place, not perceiving, 
or at least not admitting, this difference ; nor, for the 
most part, apprehending (except the one who really 
carried me through, and who never lost hope — Dr. 
Parsons of Hawkshead) that there were any mental 
wounds to be healed, they made, and still make, my 
friends more anxious about me than there is occasion 
for : which anxiety I partly regret, as it pains them ; 
but much more if it makes them more doubtful than 
they used to be (which, for some, is saying a good 
deal) of the " truth and soberness " of Fors itself. 
Throughout every syllable of which, hitherto written, 
the reader will find one consistent purpose, and per- 
fectly conceived system, far more deeply founded than 
any bruited about under their founders' names ; including 
in its balance one vast department of human skill, — 
—the arts,— which the vulgar economists are wholly 
incapable of weighing ; and a yet more vast realm of 
human enjoyment — the spiritual affections, — which ma- 
terialist thinkers are alike incapable of imagining : a 
system not mine, nor Kant's, nor Comte's ; — but that 



106 Fors Clavigera. 

which Heaven has taught every true man's heart, and 
proved by every true man's work, from the beginning of 
time to this day. 

I use the word ' Heaven ' here in an absolutely literal 
sense, meaning the blue sky, and the light and air of 
it. Men who live in that light, — " in pure sunshine, 
not under mixed-up shade," — and whose actions are 
open as the air, always arrive at certain conditions of 
moral and practical loyalty, which are wholly independent 
of religious opinion. These, it has been the first business 
of Fors to declare. Whether there be one God or 
three, — no God, or ten thousand, — children should have 
enough to eat, and their skins should be washed clean. 
It is not / who say that. Every mother's heart under 
the sun says that, if she has one. 

Again, whether there be saints in Heaven or not, 
as long as its stars shine on the sea, and the thunnies 
swim there — every fisherman who drags a net ashore 
is bound to say to as many human creatures as he 
can, \ Come and dine.' And the fishmongers who 
destroy their fish by .cartloads that they may make the 
poor pay dear for what is left, ought to be flogged 
round Billingsgate, and out of it. It is not I who say 
that. Every man's heart on sea and shore says that — 
if he isn't at heart a rascal. Whatever is dictated in 
Fors is dictated thus by common sense, common equity, 
common humanity, and common sunshine — not by me. 

But farther. I have just now used the word * Heaven ' 



Fors Clavigera. 107 

in a nobler sense also : meaning, Heaven and our Father 
therein. 

And beyond the power of its sunshine, which* all 
men may know, Fors has declared also the power of 
its Fatherhood, — which only some men know, and others 
do not, — and, except by rough teaching, may not. For 
the wise of all the earth have said in their hearts 
always, "God is, and there is none beside Him;" and 
the fools of all the earth have said in their hearts 
always, " I am, and there is none beside me." 

Therefore, beyond the assertion of what is visibly 
salutary, Fors contains also the assertion of what is 
invisibly salutary, or salvation-bringing, in Heaven, to 
all men who will receive such health : and beyond this 
an invitation — passing gradually into an imperious call 
— to all men who trust in God, that they purge their 
conscience from dead works, and join together in work 
separated from the fool's ; pure, undefiled, and worthy 
of Him they trust in. 

But in the third place. Besides these definitions, 
first, of what is useful to all the world, and then of 
what is useful to the wiser part of it, Fors contains 
much trivial and desultory talk by the way. Scattered 
up and down in it, — perhaps by the Devil's sowing 
tares among the wheat, — there is much casual expres- 
sion of my own personal feelings and faith, together 
with bits of autobiography, which were allowed place, 
not without some notion of their being useful, but yet 



108 Fors Clavigera. 

imprudently, and even incontinently, because I could 
not at the moment hold my tongue about what vexed 
or interested me, or returned soothingly to my memory. 
Now these personal fragments must be carefully 
sifted from the rest of the book, by readers who wish 
to understand it, and taken within their own limits, — 
no whit farther. For instance, when I say that "St. 
Ursula sent me a flower with her love," it means that 
I myself am in the habit of thinking of the Greek 
Persephone, the Latin Proserpina, and the Gothic St. 
Ursula, as of the same living spirit; and so far regu- 
lating my conduct by that idea as to dedicate my 
book on Botany to Proserpina ; and to think, when I 
want to write anything pretty about flowers, how St. 
Ursula would like it said. And when on the Christmas 
morning in question, a friend staying in Venice brought 
me a pot of pinks, ' with St. Ursula's love,' the said pot 
of pinks did afterwards greatly help me in my work ; 
- — and reprove me afterwards, in its own way, for the 
failure of it. 

All this effort, or play, of personal imagination is 
utterly distinct from the teaching of Fors, though I 
thought at the time its confession innocent, without in 
any wise advising my readers to expect messages from 
pretty saints, or reprobation from pots of pinks : only 
being urgent with them to ascertain clearly in their 
own minds what they do expect comfort or reproof 
from. Here, for instance, (Sheffield, 12th February,) 



Fors Clavigera. 109 

I am lodging at an honest and hospitable grocer's, who 
has lent me his own bedroom, of which the principal 
ornament is a card printed in black and gold, sacred 
to the memory of his infant son, who died aged 
fourteen months, and whose tomb is represented under 
the figure of a broken Corinthian column, with two 
graceful-winged ladies putting garlands on it. He is 
comforted by this conception, and, in that degree, 
believes and feels with me : the merely palpable fact 
is probably, that his child's body is lying between two 
tall chimneys which are covering it gradually with 
cinders. I am quite as clearly aware of that fact as 
the most scientific of my friends ; and can probably 
see more in the bricks of the said chimneys than they. 
But if they can see nothing in Heaven above the 
chimney tops, nor conceive of anything in spirit greater 
than themselves, it is not because they have more 
knowledge than I, but because they have less sense. 

Less common-sense, — observe : less practical insight 
into the things which are of instant and constant need 
to man. • 

I must yet allow myself a few more words of auto- 
biography touching this point. The doctors said that 
I went mad, this time two years ago, from overwork. 
I had not been then working more than usual, and 
what was usual with me had become easy. But I went 
mad because nothing came of my work. People would 
have understood my falling crazy if they had heard that 



no Fors Clavigera. 

the manuscripts on which I had spent seven years of my 
old life had all been used to light the fire with, like 
Carlyle's first volume of the French Revolution. But 
they could not understand that I should be the least 
annoyed, far less fall ill in a frantic manner, because, 
after I had got them published, nobody believed a word 
of them. Yet the first calamity would only have been 
misfortune, — the second (the enduring calamity under 
which I toil) is humiliation, — resisted necessarily by a 
dangerous and lonely pride. 

I spoke just now of the 'wounds' of which that fire 
in the flesh came ; and if any one ask me faithfully, 
what the wounds were, I can faithfully give the answer 
of Zechariah's silenced messenger, "Those with which I 
was wounded in the house of my friends." All alike, 
in whom I had most trusted for help, failed me in this 
main work : some mocked at it, some pitied, some 
rebuked, — all stopped their ears at the cry : and the 
solitude at last became too great to be endured. I tell 
this now, because I must say some things that grieve 
me to say, about the recent work of one of the friends 
from whom I had expected most sympathy and aid, 
— the historian J. A. Froude. Faithful, he, as it 
appeared to me, in all the intent of history : already 
in the year 1858 shrewdly cognizant of the main 
facts (with which he alone professed himself concerned) 
of English life past and present ; keenly also, and 
impartially, sympathetic with every kind of heroism, 



Fors Clavigera. 1 1 1 

and mode of honesty. Of him I first learned the story 
of Sir Richard Grenville ; by him was directed to the 
diaries of the sea captains in Hakluyt ; by his influence, 
when he edited Fraser's Magazine, I had been led to 
the writing of Munera Pulveris : his Rectorial address 
at St. Andrew's was full of insight into the strength of 
old Scotland ; his study of the life of Hugo of Lincoln, 
into that of yet elder England ; and every year, as Auld 
Reekie and old England sank farther out of memory 
and honour with others, I looked more passionately for 
some utterance from him, of noble story about the brave 
and faithful dead, and noble wrath against the wretched 
and miscreant dead-alive. But year by year his words 
have grown more hesitating and helpless. The first 
preface to his history is a quite masterly and exhaustive 
summary of the condition and laws of England before 
the Reformation ; and it most truly introduces the fol- 
lowing book as a study of the process by which that 
condition and those laws were turned upside-down, and 
inside-out, " as a man wipeth a dish, — wiping it, and 
turning it upside-down ; " so that, from the least thing 
to the greatest, if our age is light, those ages were 
dark ; if our age is right, those ages were wrong, — and 
vice versa. There is no possible consent to be got, or 
truce to be struck, between them. Those ages were 
feudal, ours free ; those reverent, ours impudent ; those 
artful, ours mechanical : the consummate and exhaustive 
difference being that the creed of the Dark Ages was, 



1 1 2 Fors Clavigera. 



<i> 



" I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker 
of heaven and earth ; " and the creed of the Light 
Ages has become, " I believe in Father Mud, the 
Almighty Plastic ; and in Father Dollar, the Almighty 
Drastic." 

Now at the time when Mr. Froude saw and announced 
the irreconcilableness' of these two periods, and then went 
forward to his work on that time of struggling twilight 
which foretold the existing blaze of day, and general 
detection of all impostures, he had certainly not made 
up his mind whether he ought finally to praise the 
former or the latter days. His reverence for the right- 
eousness of old English law holds staunch, even to the 
recognition of it in the most violent states of — literal — 
ebullition : such, for instance, as the effective check given 
to the introduction of the arts of Italian poisoning into 
England, by putting the first English cook who practised 
them into a pot of convenient size, together with the 
requisite quantity of water, and publicly boiling him, — a 
most concise and practical method. Also he rejoices in 
the old English detestation of idleness, and determina- 
tion that every person in the land should have a craft 
to live by, and practise it honestly : and in manifold other 
matters I perceive the backward leaning of his inmost 
thoughts ; and yet in the very second page of this 
otherwise grand preface, wholly in contravention of 
his own principle that the historian has only to do 
with facts, he lets slip this — conciliating is it? or 






Fors Clavigera. 1 1 3 

careless ? or really intended ? — in any case amazing — 
sentence, " A condition of things " (the earlier age) 
" differing both outwardly and inwardly from that into 
which a happier fortune has introduced ourselves!' An 
amazing sentence, I repeat, in its triple assumptions, 
— each in itself enormous : the first, that it is happier 
to live without, than with, the fear of God ; the second, 
that it is chance, and neither our virtue nor our wisdom, 
that has procured us this happiness ; — the third, that 
the ' ourselves ' of Onslow Gardens and their neighbour- 
hood may sufficiently represent also the ourselves of 
Siberia and the Rocky Mountains — of Afghanistan and 
Zululand. 

None of these assumptions have foundation ; . and 
for fastening the outline of their shadowy and meteoric 
form, Mr. Froude is working under two deadly dis- 
advantages. Intensely loving and desiring Truth before 
all things, nor without sympathy even for monkish 
martyrs, — see the passage last quoted in my last 
written Fors, p. 91, — he has yet allowed himself to slip 
somehow into the notion that Protestantism and the 
love of Truth are synonymous ; — so that, for instance, 
the advertisements which decorate in various fresco the 
station of the Great Northern Railway, and the news- 
papers vended therein to the passengers by the morning 
train, appear to him treasures of human wisdom and 
veracity, as compared with the benighted ornamentation 
of the useless Lesche of Delphi, or the fanciful stains 



H4 Fors Clavigera. 

on the tunnel roof of the Lower Church of Assisi. And 
this the more, because, for second deadly disadvantage, 
he has no knowledge of art, nor care for it ; and there- 
fore, in his life of Hugo of Lincoln, passes over the 
Bishop's designing, and partly building, its cathedral, with 
a word, as if he had been no more than a woodman 
building a hut : and in his recent meditations at St. 
Albans, he never puts the primal question concerning 
those long cliffs of abbey- wall, how the men who 
thought of them and built them, differed, in make and 
build of soul, from the apes who can only pull them 
down and build bad imitations of them : but he fastens 
like a remora on the nearer, narrower, copper-coating 
of fact — that countless bats and owls did at last cluster 
under the abbey-eaves ; fact quite sufficiently known 
before now, and loudly enough proclaimed to the 
votaries of the Goddess of Reason, round Jier undefiled 
altars. So that there was not the slightest need for 
Mr. Froude's sweeping out these habitations of doleful 
creatures. Had he taken an actual broom of resolutely 
bound birch twigs, and, in solemn literalness of act, 
swept down the wrecked jackdaws' nests, which at this 
moment make a slippery dunghill-slope, and mere peril 
of spiral perdition, out of what was once the safe and 
decent staircase of central Canterbury tower, he would 
have better served his generation. But after he had, 
to his own satisfaction, sifted the mass of bonedust, 
and got at the worst that could be seen or smelt in 



Fors Clavigera. 1 1 5 

the cells of monks, it was next, and at least his duty, 
as an impartial historian, to compare with them the 
smells of modern unmonastic cells ; (unmonastic, that is 
to say, in their scorn of sculpture and painting, — monastic 
enough in their separation of life from life). Yielding 
no whit to Mr. Froude in love of Fact and Truth, I 
will place beside his picture of the monk's cell, in the 
Dark Ages, two or three pictures by eye-witnesses — 
yes, and by line-and-measure witnesses — of the manu- 
facturer's cell, in the happier times " to which Fortune 
has introduced ourselves." I translate them (nearly as 
Fors opens the pages to me) from M. Jules Simon's 
1 L'Ouvriere,' a work which I recommend in the most 
earnest manner, as a text book for the study of French 
in young ladies' schools. It must, however, be observed, 
prefatorily, that these descriptions were given in 1864; 
and I have no doubt that as soon as this Fors is 
published, I shall receive indignant letters from all the 
places named in the extracts, assuring me that nothing 
of the sort exists there now. Of which letters I must 
also say, in advance, that I shall take no notice ; being 
myself prepared, on demand, to furnish any quantity 
of similar pictures, seen with my own eyes, in the course 
of a single walk with a policeman through the back 
streets of any modern town which has fine front ones. 
And I take M. Jules Simon's studies from life merely 
because it gives me less trouble to translate them than 
to write fresh ones myself. But I think it probable 



1 1 6 Fors Clavigera. 

that they do indicate the culminating power of the 
manufacturing interest in causing human degradation ; 
and that things may indeed already be in some struggling 
initial state of amendment. What things were, at their 
worst, and were virtually everywhere, I record as a most 
important contribution to the History of France, and 
Europe, in the words of an honourable and entirely 
accurate and trustworthy Frenchman. 

" Elbceuf, where the industrial prosperity is so great, 
ought to have healthy lodgings. It is a quite new 
town, and one which may easily extend itself upon 
the hills {coteaux) which surround it. We find already, 
in effect, jasqitd, mi-cote (I don't know what that means, 
— half-way up the hill ?), beside a little road bordered 
by smiling shrubs, some small houses built without care 
and without intelligence by little speculators scarcely 
.less wretched than the lodgers they get together " — (this 
sort of landlord is one of the worst modern forms of 
Centaur, — half usurer, half gambler). " You go up two or 
three steps made of uncut stones " (none the worse for 
that though, M. Jules Simon), " and you find yourself in 
a little room lighted by one narrow window, and of 
which the four walls of earth have never been white- 
washed nor rough-cast. Some half-rotten oak planks 
thrown down on the soil pretend to be a flooring. 
Close to the road, an old woman pays sevenpence half- 
penny a week," (sixty-five centimes, — roughly, forty francs, 
or thirty shillings a year,) " for a mud hut which is 



Fors Clavigera. 1 1 7 

literally naked — neither bed, chair, nor table in it {dest 
en demeurer confondu). She sleeps upon a little straw, 
too rarely renewed ; while her son, who is a labourer at 
the port, sleeps at night upon the damp ground, without 
either straw or covering. At some steps farther on, 
a little back from the road, a weaver, sixty years old, 
inhabits a sort of hut or sentry-box, (for one does not 
know what name to give it,) of which the filth makes 
the heart sick " (he means the stomach too — -fait soulever 
le cceur). " It is only a man's length, and a yard and 
a quarter broad ; he has remained in it night and day 
for twenty years. He is now nearly an idiot, and 
refuses to occupy a better lodging which one proposes 
to him. 

" The misery is not less horrible, and it is much more 
general at Rouen. One cannot form an idea of the 
filth of certain houses without having seen it. The poor 
people feed their fire with the refuse of the apples which 
have served to make cider, and which they get given 
them for nothing. They have quantities of them in 
the corner of their rooms, and a hybrid vegetation comes 
out of these masses of vegetable matter in putrefaction. 
Sometimes the proprietors, ill paid, neglect the most 
urgent repairs. In a garret of the Rue des Matelas, 
the floor, entirely rotten, trembles under the step of the 
visitor ; at two feet from the door is a hole larger than 
the body of a man. The two unhappy women who 
live there are obliged to cry to you to take care, for 

2ND SERIES, IV.] J J 



1 1 8 Fors Clavigera. 

they have not anything to put over the hole, not even 
the end of a plank. There is nothing in their room 
but their spinning-wheel, two low chairs, and the wrecks 
of a wooden bedstead without a mattress. In a blind 
alley at the end of the Rue des Canettes, where the 
wooden houses seem all on the point of falling, a weaver 
of braces lodges with his family in a room two yards 
and a half broad by four yards and three-quarters long, 
measured on the floor ; but a projection formed by the 
tunnels of the chimney of the lower stories, and all the 
rest, is so close to the roof that one cannot make three 
steps upright. When the husband, wife, and four children 
are all in it, it is clear that they cannot move. One 
will not be surprised to hear that the want of air and 
hunger make frequent victims in such a retreat (reduit). 
Of the four children which remained to them in April, 
i860, two were dead three months afterwards. When 
they were visited in the month of April, the physician, 
M. Leroy, spoke of a ticket that he had given them 
the week before for milk. ' She has drunk of it,' said 
the mother pointing to the eldest daughter, half dead, 
but who had the strength to smile. Hunger had reduced 
this child, who would have been beautiful, nearly to the 
state of a skeleton. 

" The father of this poor family is a good weaver. 
He could gain in an ordinary mill from three to four 
francs a day, while he gains only a franc and a half 
in the brace manufactory. One may ask why he stays 



Fors Clavigera. 1 1 9 

there. Because at the birth of his last child he had 
no money at home, nor fire, nor covering, nor light, 
nor bread. He borrowed twenty francs from his patron, 
who is an honest man, and he cannot without paying 
his debt quit that workshop where his work neverthe- 
less does not bring him enough to live on. It is clear 
that he will die unless some one helps him, but his 
family will be dead before him." 

Think now, you sweet milkmaids of England whose 
face is your fortune, and you sweet demoiselles of 
France who are content, as girls should be, with 
breakfast of brown bread and cream, (read Scribe's 
little operetta, La Demoiselle a Marier,) — think, I say, 
how, in this one, — even though she has had a cup of 
cold milk given her in the name of the Lord, — lying 
still there, " nearly a skeleton," that verse of the song 
of songs which is Solomon's, must take a new mean- 
ing for yon : " We have a little sister, and she has 
no breasts : what shall we do for our sister in the day 
of her espousals ? " 

" For the cellars of Lille, those who defend them, 
were they of Lille itself, have not seen them. There 
remains one, No. 40 of the Rue des Etaques ; the 
ladder applied against the wall to go down is in such 
a bad state that you will do well to go down slowly. 
There is just light enough to read at the foot of the 
ladder. One cannot read there without compromising 
one's eyes ; the work of sewing is therefore dangerous 






1 20 Fors Clavigera. 

in that place ; a step farther in, it is impossible, and the 
back of the cave is entirely dark. The soil is damp 
and unequal, the walls blackened by time and filth. 
One breathes a thick air which can never be renewed, 
because there is no other opening but the trapdoor 
(soupirail). The entire space, three yards by four, is 
singularly contracted by a quantity of refuse of all 
sorts, shells of eggs, shells of mussels, crumbled ground 
and filth, worse than that of the dirtiest dunghill. It 
is easy to see that no one ever walks in this cave. 
Those who live in it lie down and sleep where they 
fall. The furniture is composed of a very small iron 
stove of which the top is shaped into a pan, three 
earthen pots, a stool, and the wood of a bed without 
any bedding. There is neither straw nor coverlet. The 
woman who lodges in the bottom of this cellar never 
goes out of it. She is sixty-three years old. The 
husband is not a workman : they have two daughters, 
of which the eldest is twenty-two years old. These 
four persons live together, and have no other domicile. 
" This cave is one of the most miserable, first for the 
extreme filth and destitution of its inhabitants, next by 
its dimensions, most of the cellars being one or two 
yards wider. These caves serve for lodging to a whole 
family ; in consequence, father, mother, and children 
sleep in the same place, and too often, whatever their 
age, in the same bed. The greater number of these 
unhappies see no mischief in this confusion of the 



Fors Clavigera. 1 2 1 

sexes ; whatever comes of it, they neither conceal it, 
nor blush for it ; nay, they scarcely know that the rest 
of mankind have other manners. Some of the caves, 
indeed, are divided in two by an arch, and thus 
admit of a separation which is not in general made. 
It is true that in most cases the back cellar is entirely 
dark, the air closer, and the stench more pestilent. In 
some the water trickles down the walls, and others 
are close to a gully-hole, and poisoned by mephitic 
vapours, especially in summer. 

" There are no great differences between the so-called 
' courettes ' (little alleys) of Lille, and the so-called 
1 forts ' of Roubaix, or the ' convents ' of St. Quentin ; 
everywhere the same heaping together of persons and 
the same unhealthiness. At Roubaix, where the town 
is open, space is not wanting, and all is new, — for 
the town has just sprung out of the ground, — one has 
not, as at Lille, the double excuse of a fortified town 
where space is circumscribed to begin with, and where 
one cannot build without pulling down. Also at Rou- 
baix there are never enough lodgings for the increasing 
number of workmen, so that the landlords may be always 
sure of their rents. Quite recently, a manufacturer 
who wanted some hands brought some workwomen 
from Lille, paid them well, and put them in a far more 
healthy workshop than the one they had left. Never- 
theless, coming on Thursday, they left him on Saturday : 
they had found no place to lodge, and had passed the 



122 Fors Clavigera. 

three nights under a gateway. In this open town, though 
its rows of lodgings are more than half a mile from the 
workshops, they are not a bit more healthy. The houses 
are ill-constructed, squeezed one against another, the 
ground between not levelled, and often with not even a 
gutter to carry away the thrown-out slops, which accu- 
mulate in stagnant pools till the sun dries them. Here 
at hazard is the description of some of the lodgings. 
To begin with a first floor in Wattel Street : one gets 
up into it by a ladder and a trap without a door ; space, 
two yards and a half by three yards ; one window, 
narrow and low ; walls not rough-cast ; inhabitants, 
father, mother, and two children of different sexes, — 
one ten, the other seventeen : rent, one franc a week. 
In Halluin Court there is a house with only two 
windows to its ground floor, one to the back and one 
to the front ; but this ground floor is divided into three 
separate lodgings, of which the one in the middle" — 
(thus ingeniously constructed in the age of light) — 
" would of course have no window at all, but it is 
separated from the back and front ones by two lattices, 
which fill the whole space, and give it the aspect of a 
glass cage. It results that the household placed in this 
lodging has no air, and that none of the three house- 
holds have any privacy, for it is impossible for any person 
of them to hide any of his movements from the two 
others. One of these lodgings is let for five francs a 
month ; the woman who inhabits it has five children, 



Fors Clavigera. 123 

though all young, but she has got a sort of cage made 
in the angle of her room, which can be got up to by a 
winding staircase, and which can hold a bed. This the 
lodger has underlet, at seventy-five centimes a week, to 
a sempstress, abandoned by her lover, with a child of 
some weeks old. This child is laid on the bed, where 
it remains alone all the day, and the mother comes to 
suckle it at noon. A gown and a bonnet, with a little 
parcel which may contain, at the most, one chemise, are 
placed on a shelf, and above them an old silk umbrella 
— an object of great luxury, the debris of lost opulence. 
Nearly all the inhabitants of this court are subject to 
fever. If an epidemic came on the top of that, the 
whole population would be carried off. Yet it is not 
two years since Halluin Court was built." 

Such, Mr. Froude, are the ' fortresses ' of free — as 
opposed to feudal — barons ; such the ' convents ' of 
philosophic — as opposed to catholic — purity. Will you 
not tell the happy world of your day, how it may yet 
be a little happier ? It is wholly your business, not 
mine ; — and all these unwilling words of my tired lips 
are spoken only because you are silent. 



I do not propose to encumber the pages of the few 

last numbers of Fors with the concerns of St. George's 

Guild : of which the mustard-seed state (mingled hopefully 

however with that of cress) is scarcely yet overpast. 



124 Fors Clavigera. 

This slackness of growth, as I have often before stated, 
is more the Master's fault than any one else's, the 
present Master being a dilatory, dreamy, and — to the 
much vexation of the more enthusiastic members of 
the Guild — an extremely patient person ; and busying 
himself at present rather with the things that amuse 
him in St. George's Museum than with the Guild's wider 
cares ; — of which, however, a separate report will be 
given to its members in the course of this year, and 
continued as need is. 

Many well-meaning and well-wishing friends outside 
the Guild, and desirous of entrance, have asked for 
relaxation of the grievous law concerning the contribution 
of the tithe of income. Which the Master is not, however, 
in the least minded to relax ; nor any other of the Guild's 
original laws, none of which were set down without 
consideration, though this requirement of tithe does 
indeed operate as a most stiff stockade, and apparently 
unsurmountable hurdle-fence, in the face of all more or 
less rich and, so to speak, overweighted, well-wishers. 
For I find, practically, that fifty pounds a year can often 
save me five — or at a pinch, seven — of them ; nor should 
I be the least surprised if some merry-hearted apprentice 
lad, starting in life with a capital of ten pounds or so, 
were to send me one of them, and go whistling on 
his way with the remaining nine. But that ever a 
man of ten thousand a year should contrive, by any 
exertion of prudence and self-denial, to live upon so 






Fors Clavigera. 125 

small a sum as nine thousand, and give one thousand 
to the poor, — this is a height of heroism wholly incon- 
ceivable to modern pious humanity. 

Be that as it may, I am of course ready to receive 
subscriptions for St. George's work from outsiders — whether 
zealous or lukewarm — in such amounts as they think fit : 
and at present I conceive that the proposed enlargements 
of our museum at Sheffield are an object with which 
more frank sympathy may be hoped than with the 
agricultural business of the Guild. Ground I have 
enough — and place for a pleasant gallery for such students 
as Sheffield may send up into the clearer light ;* — but I 
don't choose to sell out any of St. George's stock for 
this purpose, still less for the purchase of books for the 
Museum, — and yet there are many I want, and can't 
yet afford. Mr. Quaritch, for instance, has an eleventh 
century Lectionary, a most precious MS., which would 
be a foundation for all manner of good learning to 
us : but it is worth its weight in silver, and inaccessible 
for the present. Also my casts from St. Mark's, of 
sculptures never cast before, are lying in lavender — or 
at least in tow — invisible and useless, till I can build 
walls for them : and I think the British public would not 
regret giving me the means of placing and illuminating 
these rightly. And, in fine, here I am yet for a few 

* An excellent and kind account of the present form and contents of the 
Museum will be found in the last December number of Cassell's Magazine 
of Art. 

2ND SERIES, IV.] I 2 



126 Fors Clavigera. 

years, I trust, at their service — ready to arrange such a 
museum for their artizans as they have not yet dreamed 
of; — not dazzling nor overwhelming, but comfortable, 
useful, and — in such sort as smoke-cumbered skies may 
admit, — beautiful ; though not, on the outside, otherwise 
decorated than with plain and easily-worked slabs of 
Derbyshire marble, with which I shall face the walls, 
making the interior a working man's Bodleian Library, 
with cell and shelf of the most available kind, undis- 
turbed, for his holiday time. The British public are 
not likely to get such a thing done by any one else 
for a time, if they don't get it done now by me, when 
I'm in the humour for it. Very positively I can assure 
them of that ; and so leave the matter to their discretion. 
Many more serious matters, concerning the present day, 
I have in mind — and partly written, already ; but they 
must be left for next Fors, which will take up the 
now quite imminent question of Land, and its Holding, 
and Lordship. 



FORS CLAVIGERA. 

SECOND SERIES. 

YEA, THE WORK OF OUR HANDS, ESTABLISH THOU IT. 



TO THE TRADES UNIONS OF ENGLAND. 
My Dear Friends, Beauvais, August 31, 1880. 

This is the first letter in Fors which has been 
addressed to you as a body of workers separate from 
the other Englishmen who are doing their best, with 
heart and hand, to serve their country in any sphere 
of its business, and in any rank of its people. I have 
never before acknowledged the division marked, partly 
in your own imagination, partly in the estimate of others, 
and of late, too sadly, staked out in permanence by 
animosities and misunderstandings on both sides, between 
you, and the mass of society to which you look for 
employment. But I recognize the distinction to-day, 
moved, for ©ne thing, by a kindly notice of last Fors, 
which appeared in the Bingley Telephone of April 23 rd 
of this year ; saying, " that it was to be wished I would 
write more to and for the workmen and workwomen of 
these realms," and influenced conclusively by the fact 

2ND SERIES.] I2 



I2& Fors Clavigem. 

of your having expressed by your delegates at Sheffield 
your sympathy with what endeavours I had made for 
the founding a Museum there different in principle 
from any yet arranged for working men : this formal 
recognition of my effort, on your part, signifying to me, 
virtually, that the time was come for explaining my 
aims to you, fully, and in the clearest terms possible 
to me. 

But, believe me, there have been more reasons than I 
need now pass in review, for my hitherto silence respecting 
your special interests. Of which reasons, this alone might 
satisfy you, that, as a separate class, I knew scarcely 
anything of you but your usefulness, and your distress ; 
and that the essential difference between me and other 
political writers of your day, is that I never say a word 
about a single thing that I don't know, while they never 
trouble themselves to know a single thing they talk of; 
but give you their own ' opinions ' about it, or tell you 
the gossip they have heard about it, or insist on what 
they like in it, or rage against what they dislike in it ; 
but entirely decline either to look at, or to learn, or to 
speak, the Thing as it is, and must be. 

Now I know many things that are, and many that 
must be hereafter, concerning my own class : but I know 
nothing yet, practically, of yours, and could give you no 
serviceable advice either in your present disputes with 
your masters, or in your plans of education and action 
for yourselves, until I had found out more clearly, what 



Fors Clavigera. 129 

you meant by a Master, and what you wanted to gain 
either in education or action, — and, even farther, whether 
the kind of person you meant by a Master was one in 
reality or not, and the things you wanted to gain by 
your labour were indeed worth your having or not. So 
that nearly everything hitherto said in Fors has been 
addressed, in main thought, to your existing Masters, 
Pastors, and Princes, — not to you, — though these all I 
class with you, if they knew it, as "workmen and 
labourers," and you with them, if you knew it, as capable 
of the same joys as they, tempted by the same passions 
as they, and needing, for your life, to recognize the same 
Father and Father's Law over you all, as brothers in 
earth and in heaven. 

But there was another, and a more sharply restrictive 
reason for my never, until now, addressing you as a 
distinct class ; — namely, that certain things which I knew 
positively must be soon openly debated — and what is 
more, determined— in a manner very astonishing to some 
people, in the natural issue of the transference of power 
out of the hands of the upper classes, so called, into 
yours, — transference which has been compelled by the 
crimes of those upper classes, and accomplished by their 
follies, — these certain things, I say, coming now first into 
fully questionable shape, could not be openly announced 
as subjects of debate by any man in my then official 
position as one of a recognized body of University 
teachers, without rendering him suspected and disliked 



130 Fors Clavigera. 

by a large body of the persons with whom he had to 
act. And I considered that in accepting such a position 
at all I had virtually promised to teach nothing contrary 
to the principles on which the Church and the Schools 
of England believed themselves — whether mistakenly or 
not — to have been founded. 

The pledge was easy to me, because I love the Church 
and the Universities of England more faithfully than most 
churchmen, and more proudly than most collegians ; 
though my pride is neither in my college boat, nor my 
college plate, nor my college class-list, nor my college 
heresy. I love both the Church and the schools of 
England, for the sake of the brave and kindly men 
whom they have hitherto not ceased to send forth into 
all lands, well nurtured, and bringing, as a body, wherever 
their influence extended, order and charity into the ways 
of mortals. 

And among these I had hoped long since to have 
obtained hearing, not for myself, but for the Bible which 
their Mothers reverenced, the laws which their Fathers 
obeyed, and the wisdom which the Masters of all men 
— the dead Senate of the noblest among the nations — 
had left for the guidance of the ages yet to be. And 
during seven years I went on appealing to my fellow 
scholars, in words clear enough to them, though not to 
you, had they chosen to hear : but not one cared nor 
listened, till I had sign sternly given to me that my 
message to the learned and the rich was given, and ended. 



Fors Clavigera. 131 

And now I turn to you, understanding you to be 
associations of labouring men who have recognised the 
necessity of binding yourselves by some common law 
of action, and who are taking earnest counsel as to 
the conditions of your lives here in England, and their 
relations to those of your fellow-workers in foreign lands. 
And I understand you to be, in these associations, dis- 
regardant, if not actually defiant, of the persons on whose 
capital you have been hitherto passively dependent for 
occupation, and who have always taught you, by the 
mouths of their appointed Economists, that they and 
their capital were an eternal part of the Providential 
arrangements made for this world by its Creator. 

In which self-assertion, nevertheless, and attitude of 
inquiry into the grounds of this statement of theirs, you 
are unquestionably right. For, as things are nowadays, 
you know any pretty lady in the Elysian fields of Paris 
who can set a riband of a new colour in her cap in a 
taking way, forthwith sets a few thousands of Lyonnaise 
spinners and dyers furiously weaving ribands of like stuff, 
and washing them with like dye. And in due time the 
new French edict reaches also your sturdy English mind, 
and the steeples of Coventry ring in the reign of the 
elect riband, and the Elysian fields of Spital, or what- 
ever other hospice now shelters the weaver's head, bestir 
themselves according to the French pattern, and bedaub 
themselves with the French dye ; and the pretty lady 
Links herself your everlasting benefactress, and little 



132 Fors Clavigera. 

short of an angel sent from heaven to feed you with 
miraculous manna, and you are free Britons that rule 
the waves, and free Frenchmen that lead the universe, 
of course ; but you have not a bit of land you can 
stand on — without somebody's leave, nor a house for 
your children that they can't be turned out of, nor a 
bit of bread for their breakfast to-morrow, but on the 
chance of some more yards of riband being wanted. 
Nor have you any notion that the pretty lady herself 
can be of the slightest use to you, except as a con- 
sumer of ribands; what God made her for — you do 
not ask : still less she, what God made you for. 

How many are there of you, I wonder, landless, roof- 
less, foodless, unless, for such work as they choose to 
put you to, the upper classes provide you with cellars 
in Lille, glass cages in Halluin Court, milk tickets, for 
which your children still have " the strength to smile — " * 
How many of you, tell me, — and what your united hands 
and wits are worth at your own reckoning ? 

Trade Unions of England — Trade Armies of Christen- 
dom, what's the roll-call of you, and what part or lot 
have you, hitherto, in this Holy Christian Land of your 
Fathers ? Is not that inheritance to be claimed, and 
the Birth Right of it, no less than the Death Right ? 
Will you not determine where you may be Christianly 
bred, before you set your blockhead Parliaments to debate 
where you may be Christianly buried, (your priests also 

* See Fors for March of this year, p. 118, with the sequel. 






Fors Clavigera. 133 



all a-squabble about that matter, as I hear, — as if 
any ground could be consecrated that had the bones of 
rascals in it, or profane where a good man slept !) But 
how the Earth that you tread may be consecrated to 
you, and the roofs that shade your breathing sleep, and 
the deeds that you do with the breath of life yet 
strengthening hand and heart, — this it is your business 
to learn, if you know not ; and this mine to tell you, 
if you will learn. 

Before the close of last year, one of our most earnest 
St. George's Guildsmen wrote to me saying that the Irish 
Land League claimed me as one of their supporters ; and 
asking if he should contradict this, or admit it. 

To whom I answered, on Christmas Day of 1879, as 
follows : — 

BRANTWOOD, Christmas, '79. 

" You know I never read papers, so I have never seen 
a word of the Irish Land League or its purposes ; but 
I assume the purpose to be — that Ireland should belong 
to Irishmen ; which is not only a most desirable, but, 
ultimately, a quite inevitable condition of things, — that 
being the assured intention of the Maker of Ireland, 
and all other lands. 

"But as to the manner of belonging, and limits and 
rights of holding, there is a good deal more to be found 
out of the intentions of the Maker of Ireland, than I fancy 
the Irish League is likely to ascertain, without rueful 



134 Fors Clavigera. 

experience of the consequences of any and all methods 
contrary to those intentions. 

" And for my own part I should be wholly content 
to confine the teaching — as I do the effort — of the St. 
George's Guild, to the one utterly harmless and utterly 
wholesome principle, that land, by whomsoever held, is to 
be made the most of, by human strength, and not defiled,* 
nor left waste. But since we live in an epoch assuredly 
of change, and too probably of Revolution ; and 
thoughts which cannot be put aside are in the minds 
of all men capable of thought, I am obliged also to 
affirm the one principle which can — and in the end 
will — close all epochs of Revolution, — that each man 
shall possess the ground he can use — and no more, — rUSE, 
I say, either for food, beauty, exercise, science, or any 
other sacred purpose. That each man shall possess, for 
his own, no more than such portion, with the further 
condition that it descends to his son, inalienably — right 
of primogeniture being in this matter eternally sure. 
The nonsense talked about division is all temporary ; 
you can't divide for ever, and when you have got down 
to a cottage and a square fathom — if you allow division 
so far — still primogeniture will hold the right of that. 

* And if not the land, still less the water. I have kept by me now for 
some years, a report on the condition of the Calder, drawn up by Mr. James 
Fowler, of Wakefield, in 1866, and kindly sent to me by the author on my 
mention of Wakefield in Fors. I preserve it in these pages, as a piece of 
English History characteristic to the uttermost of our Fortunate Times. See 
appendix to this number. 



Fors Clavigera. 135 

u But though possession is, and must be, limited by use 
(see analytic passages on this head in ' Munera Pulveris '), 
Authority is not. And first the Maker of the Land, and 
then the King of the Land, and then the Overseers of the 
Land appointed by the King, in their respective orders, 
must all in their ranks control the evil, and promote 
the good work of the possessors. Thus far, you will 
find already, all is stated in Fors ; and further, the right 
of every man to possess so much land as he can live on 
— especially observe the meaning of the developed Corn 
Law Rhyme 

" Find'st thou rest for England's head 
Free alone among the Dead?"* 

meaning that Bread, Water, and the Roof over his head, 
must be tax- (i.e. rent-) free to every man. 

" But I have never yet gone on in Fors to examine the 
possibly best forms of practical administration. I always 
felt it would be wasted time, for these must settle them- 
selves. In Savoy the cottager has his garden and 
field, and labours with his family only ; in Berne, the 
farm labourers of a considerable estate live under the 
master's roof, and are strictly domestic ; in England, 
farm labourers might probably with best comfort live in 
detached cottages ; in Italy, they might live in a kind 
of monastic fraternity. All this, circumstance, time, and 
national character must determine ; the one thing St. 

* See 'Fors,' Letter lxxiv. p. 36 (note). 



136 Fors Clavigera. 

George affirms is the duty of the master in every case 
to make the lives of his dependents noble to the best 
of his power." 

Now you must surely feel that the questions I have 
indicated in this letter could only be answered rightly 
by the severest investigation of the effect of each mode 
of human life suggested, as hitherto seen in connection 
with other national institutions, and hereditary customs 
and character. Yet every snipping and scribbling block- 
head hired by the bookseller to paste newspaper 
paragraphs into what may sell for a book, has his 
' opinion ' on these things, and will announce it to you 
as the new gospel of eternal and universal salvation — 
without a qualm of doubt — or of shame — in the entire 
loggerhead of him. 

Hear, for instance, this account of the present pros- 
perity, and of its causes, in the country of those Sea 
Kings who taught you your own first trades of fishing 
and battle : — 

" The Norwegian peasant is a free man on the scanty bit of 
ground which he has inherited from his fathers ; and he has 
all the virtues of a freeman — an open character, a mind clear of 
every falsehood, an hospitable heart for the stranger. His reli- 
gious feelings are deep and sincere, and the Bible is to be found 
in every hut. He is said to be indolent and phlegmatic ; but 
when necessity urges he sets vigorously to work, and never ceases 
till his task is done. His courage and his patriotism are abun- 
dantly proved by a history of a thousand years. 

" Norway owes her present prosperity chiefly to her liberal 






Fors Clavigera. 137 

constitution. The press is completely free, and the power of 
the king extremely limited. All privileges and hereditary titles 
are abolished. The Parliament, or the ' Storthing,' which assembles 
every three years, consists of the ' Odelthing,' or Upper House, 
and of the ' Logthing,' or Legislative Assembly. Every new law 
requires the royal sanction \ but if the l Storthing ' has voted it 
in three successive sittings, it is definitely adopted in spite of 
the royal veto. Public education is admirably cared for. There 
is an elementary school in every village ; and where the popu- 
lation is too thinly scattered, the schoolmaster may truly be said 
to be abroad, as he wanders from farm to farm, so that the most 
distant families have the benefit of his instruction. Every town 
has its public library ; and in many districts the peasants annually 
contribute a dollar towards a collection of books, which, under 
the care of the priest, is lent out to all subscribers. 

" No Norwegian is confirmed who does not know how to read, 
and no Norwegian is allowed to marry who has not been con- 
firmed. He who attains his twentieth year without having been 
confirmed, has to fear the House of Correction. Thus ignorance 
is punished as a crime in Norway, an excellent example for far 
richer and more powerful governments." 

I take this account from a book on the Arctic regions, 
in which I find the facts collected extremely valuable, the 
statements, as far as I can judge, trustworthy, the opinions 
and teachings — what you can judge of by this specimen. 
Do you think the author wise in attributing the prosperity 
of Norway chiefly to her king's being crippled, and her 
newspapers free ? or that perhaps her thousand years of 
courage may have some share in the matter ? and her 
mind clear of every falsehood ? and her way of never 
ceasing in a task till it is done ? and her circulating 



138 Fors Clavigera. 

schoolmasters ? and her collected libraries ? and her pre- 
paration for marriage by education ? and her House of 
Correction for the uneducated ? and her Bible in every 
hut ? and, finally, her granted piece of his native land 
under her peasant's foot for his own ? Is her strength, 
think you, in any of these things, or only in the abolition 
of hereditary titles, the letting loose of her news-mongers, 
and the binding of her king ? Date of their modern 
constitutional measures, you observe, not given ! and 
consequences, perhaps, scarcely yet conclusively ascer- 
tainable. If you cannot make up your own minds on 
one or two of these open questions, suppose you were to 
try an experiment or two ? Your scientific people will 
tell you — and this, at least, truly — that they cannot find 
out anything without experiment : you may also in 
political matters think and talk for ever — resultlessly. 
Will you never try what comes of Doing a thing for a 
few years, perseveringly, and keep the result of that, at 
least, for known ? 

Now I write to you, observe, without knowing, except 
in the vaguest way, who you are ! — what trades you 
belong to, what arts or crafts you practise — or what 
ranks of workmen you include, and what manner of idlers 
you exclude. I have no time to make out the different 
sets into which you fall, or the different interests by whicl 
you are guided. But I know perfectly well what sets yoi 
sliould fall into, and by what interests you should b( 
guided. And you will find your profit in listening whil 



Fors Clavigera. 139 

I explain these to you somewhat more clearly than your 
penny-a-paragraph liberal papers will. 

In the first place, what business have you to call your- 
selves only Trade Guilds, as if ' trade,' and not production, 
were your main concern ? Are you by profession nothing 
more than pedlars and mongers of things, or are you also 
makers of things ? 

It is too true that in our City wards our chapmen have 
become the only dignitaries — and we have the Merchant- 
Tailors' Company, but not the plain Tailors ; and the 
Fishmongers' Company, but not the Fishermen's ; and 
the Vintners' Company, but not the Vinedressers' ; and the 
Ironmongers' Company, but not the Blacksmiths' ; while, 
though, for one apparent exception, the Goldsmiths' 
Company proclaims itself for masters of a craft, what 
proportion, think you, does its honour bear compared with 
that of the Calf-worshipful Guild of the Gold Mongers ? 

Be it far from me to speak scornfully of trade. My 
Father — whose Charter of Freedom of London Town I 

I keep in my Brantwood treasury beside missal and cross — 
sold good wine, and had, over his modest door in Billiter 
Street, no bush. But he grew his wine, before he sold 

; it ; and could answer for it with his head, that no rotten 
grapes fermented in his vats, and no chemist's salt effer- 
vesced in his bottles. Be you also Tradesmen — in your 
place — and in your right ; but be you, primarily, Growers, 
Makers, Artificers, Inventors, of things good and pre- 
cious. What talk you of Wages ? Whose is the Wealth 



140 Fors Clavtgera. 

of the World but yours ? Whose is the Virtue ? Do 
you mean to go on for ever, leaving your wealth to be 
consumed by the idle, and your virtue to be mocked by 
the vile ? 

The wealth of the world is yours ; even your common 
rant and rabble of economists tell you that — " no wealth 
without industry." W T ho robs you of it, then, or beguiles 
you ? Whose fault is it, you clothmakers, that any 
English child is in rags ? Whose fault is it, you shoe- 
makers, that the street harlots mince in high-heeled shoes, 
and your own babes paddle barefoot in the street slime ? 
Whose fault is it, you bronzed husbandmen, that through 
all your furrowed England, children are dying of famine ? 
Primarily, of course, it is your clergymen's and masters' 
fault : but also in this your own, that you never educate 
any of your children with the earnest object of enabling 
them to see their way out of this, not by rising above 
their father's business, but by setting in order what was 
amiss in it : also in this your own, that none of you who 
do rise above your business, ever seem to keep the 
memory of what wrong they have known, or suffered ; 
nor, as masters, set a better example than others. 

Your oivn fault, at all events, it will be now, seeing 
that you have got Parliamentary power in your hands, 
if you cannot use it better than the moribund Parlia- 
mentary body has done hitherto. 

To which end, I beg you first to take these following 
truths into your good consideration. 



Pars Clavigera. 141 

First. Men don't and can't live by exchanging articles, 
but by producing them. They don't live by trade, but 
by work. Give up that foolish and vain title of Trades 
Unions ; and take that of Labourers' Unions. 

And, whatever divisions chance or special need may 
have thrown you into at present, remember there are 
essential and eternal divisions of the Labour of man, into 
which you must practically fall, whether you like it or 
not ; and these eternal classifications it would be infinitely 
better if you at once acknowledged in thought, name, and 
harmonious action. Several of the classes may take finer 
divisions in their own body, but you will find the massive 
general structure of working humanity range itself under 
these following heads, the first eighteen assuredly essential ; 
the three last, making twenty-one altogether, I shall be 
able, I think, to prove to you are not superfluous : — suffer 
their association with the rest in the meantime. 

1. Shepherds. 

2. Fishermen. 

3. Ploughmen. 

4. Gardeners. 

5. Carpenters and Woodmen. 

6. Builders and Quarrymen. 

7. Shipwrights. 

8. Smiths and Miners.* 

9. Bakers and Millers. 
10. Vintners. 

* See note in Appendix II. 



142 Fors Clavigera. 

11. Graziers and Butchers. 

12. Spinners. 

13. Linen and Cotton-workers. 

14. Silk-workers. 

15. Woollen-workers. 

16. Tanners and Furriers. 

17. Tailors and Milliners. 

18. Shoemakers. 

19. Musicians. 

20. Painters. 

21. Goldsmiths. 

Get these eighteen, or twenty- one, as you like to take 
them, each thoroughly organised, proud of their work, and 
doing it under masters, if any, of their own rank, chosen 
for their sagacity and vigour, and the world is yours, and 
all the pleasures of it, that are true ; while all false pleasures 
in such a life fall transparent, and the hooks are seen 
through the baits of them. But for the organization of 
these classes, you see there must be a certain quantity of 
land available to them, proportioned to their multitude : 
and without the possession of that, nothing can be done 
ultimately ; though at present the mere organization of 
your masses under these divisions will clear the air, and 
the field, for you, to astonishment. 

And for the possession of the land, mind you, if you 
try to take it by force, you will have every blackguard 
and vaut-rien in the world claiming his share of it with 
you, — for by that law of force he has indeed as much 



Fors Clavigera. 143 

right to it as you ; but by the law of labour he has not. 
Therefore you must get your land by the law of labour ; 
working for it, saving for it, and buying it, as the spend- 
thrifts and idlers offer it you : but buying never to let go. 

And this, therefore, is practically the first thing you 
have to bring in by your new Parliaments — a system of 
land tenure, namely, by which your organized classes of 
labouring men may possess their land as corporate bodies, 
and add to it — as the monks once did, and as every single 
landlord can, now ; but I find that my St. George's Guild 
cannot, except through complications or legal equivo- 
cations almost endless, and hitherto indeed paralyzing me 
in quite unexpectedly mean and miserable ways. 

Now I hope all this has been clearly enough said, for 
once : and it shall be farther enforced and developed as 
you choose, if you will only tell me by your chosen heads 
whether you believe it, and are any of you prepared to 
act on it, and what kinds of doubt or difficulty occur to 
you about it, and what farther questions you would like 
me to answer. 

And that you may have every power of studying the 
matter (so far as / am concerned), this Fors you shall 
have gratis ; — and the next, if you enable me to make it 
farther useful to you. That is to say, your committees 
of each trade-guild may order parcels of them from my 
publisher in any quantities they wish, for distribution 
among their members. To the public its price remains 
fixed, as that of all my other books. One word only let 

2ND SERIES.] j ^ 



144 Fors Clavigera. 

me say in conclusion, to explain at once what I mean 
by saying that the pleasures of the world are all yours. 

God has made man to take pleasure in the use of his 
eyes, wits, and body. And the foolish creature is con- 
tinually trying to live without looking at anything, 
without thinking about anything, and without doing 
anything. And he thus becomes not only a brute, but 
the unhappiest of brutes. All the lusts and lazinesses 
he can contrive only make him more wretched ; and at 
this moment, if a man walks watchfully the streets of 
Paris, whence I am now writing to you, — a city in which 
every invention that science, wit, and wealth can hit upon 
to provoke and to vary the pleasures of the idle, — he will 
not see one happy or tranquil face, except among the 
lower and very hard-labouring classes. Every pleasure 
got otherwise than God meant it — got cheaply, thievingly, 
and swiftly, when He has ordered that it should be got 
dearly, honestly, and slowly, — turns into a venomous 
burden, and, past as a pleasure, remains as a load, 
increasing day by day its deadly coat of burning mail. 
The joys of hatred, of battle, of lust, of vain knowledge^ 
of vile luxury, all pass into slow torture : nothing remains 
to man, nothing is possible to him of true joy, but in the 
righteous love of his fellows ; in the knowledge of the 
laws and the glory of God, and in the daily use of the 
faculties of soul and body with which that God has 
endowed him. 

Paris, 18M September, 1880. 



NOTES AND CORRESPONDENCE. 



"John Ruskin, Esq. 

" Dear Sir,— May I take an advantage of this note, and call 
your attention to a fact of much importance to Englishmen, and 
it is this ? On reference to some Freethought papers — notably, 
the 'National Reformer' — I find a movement on foot amongst the 
Atheists, vigorous and full of life, for the alteration of the Land 
Laws in our much-loved country. It is a movement of much 
moment, and likely to lead to great results. The first great move 
on the part of Charles Bradlaugh, the premier in the matter, is 
the calling of a Conference to discuss the whole question. The 
meeting is to be attended by all the National Secular Society's 
branches throughout the empire ; representatives of nearly every 
Reform Association in England, Scotland, and Ireland; depu- 
tations from banded bodies of workmen, colliers, etc., — such as 
the important band of Durham miners — trade unionists ; and, in 
fact, a most weighty representative Conference will be gathered 
together. I am, for many reasons, grieved and shocked to find 
the cry for Reform coming with such a heading to the front. 
Where are our statesmen, — our clergy ? The terrible crying evils 
of our land system are coming to the front in our politics without 
the help of the so-called upper classes ; nay, with a deadly hatred 
of any disturbance in that direction, our very clergy are taking up 
arms against the popular cry. 

" Only a week ago I was spending a few days with a farmer 
near Chester, and learned to my sorrow and dismay that the 
Dean and Chapter of that city, who own most of the farms, etc., 



146 Notes and Correspondence. 

in the district wherein my friend resides, refuse now — and only 
now — to accept other than yearly tenants for these farms, have 
raised all the rents to an exorbitant pitch, and only allow the 
land to be sown with wheat, oats, or whatever else in seed, etc., 
on a personal inspection by their agent. The consequence of 
all this is, that poverty is prevailing to an alarming extent : the 
workers, all the bitter, hard toil ; the clergy, one may say, all the 
profits. It is terrible, heart-breaking; I never longed so much 
for heart-searching, vivid eloquence, so that I might move men 
with an irresistible tongue to do the Right. 

u I wonder how many of these great ones of our England have 
seen the following lines from Emerson ; and yet what a lesson is 
contained in them ! 

' God said, I am tired of kings, 
I suffer them no more ; 
Up to my ear the morning brings 
The outrage of the poor. 
Lo ! I uncover the land 
Which I hid of old time in the West, 
As the sculptor uncovers the statue 
When he has wrought his best ; 
I show Columbia, of the rocks 
Which dip their foot in the seas, 
And soar to the air-borne flocks 
Of clouds, and the boreal fleece. 
I will divide my goods ; 
Call in the wretch and slave : 
None shall rule but the humble, 
And none but toil shall have.' 

Boston Hymn. 

" I can only pray and hope that some mighty pen as yours, if 
not yourself, may be moved to show Englishmen the right way 
before it is too late. I have the honour to remain, 

" Your obedient servant." 



Notes and Correspondence. 147 

"Mr. Ruskin. 

" Dear Sir, — I have seen a letter from you to Mr. G. J. Holyoake, 
in which you say ' the only calamity which I perceive or dread 
for an Englishman is his becoming a rascal ; and co-operation 
amongst rascals — if it were possible — would bring a curse. Every 
year sees our workmen more eager to do bad work, and rob their 
customers on the sly. All political movement among such animals 
I call essentially fermentation and putrefaction — not co-operation.' 
" Now, sir, I see, I think, as completely and consequently as 
positively as you possibly can, the truth of your general statement 
— that is, that there is a widespread tendency and habit of pro- 
ducing work that has the appearance of being good when yet it 
is a fraud : its reality is not according to the appearance. But, 
sir, is the part that I have underlined correct? It is said that 
Lancashire sends to India calico with lime or paste put in it to 
make it feel stout ; — is that the workman's fault ? 

11 I myself am a workman in what is called fancy hosiery, and 
to get a living have to make a great quantity of work — in some 
instances turning very good wool into rubbish, when yet I know 
that it is capable of being made into very nice and serviceable 
clothing; but if I made it into anything of the sort I should be 
ruining my employer, because he could not sell it at a profit : 
something at four shillings, that should be fourteen, is what is 
required — I should like to see it stopped. How is it to be done ? 
u If you, sir, were to ask a merchant in these goods why they 
were not made better, more serviceable, and perfect, he would 
most certainly tell you that the Germans are in our market with 
enormous quantities of these goods at terribly low prices, and 
that he has no market for goods of superior quality and higher 
prices. I produced a great novelty about six years ago ; it was 
a beautiful class of goods, and a vast trade came on in them > 
and now those goods are entirely run out in consequence of their 
being made worse, and still worse, till they were turned into 



148 Notes and Correspondence, 

rubbish. Competition did that — * fermentation and putrefaction ; ' 
but I cannot see that the workman was to blame : he was ordered 
to do it. " Yours most respectfully." 

(No answer to this is expected.) 

Answer was sent, nevertheless • promising a more sufficient one 
in Fors ; which may be briefly to the first question, " Is the part 
underlined correct ? " — too sorrowfully, Yes ; and to the second 
question — Is it the workman's fault? — that the workman can 
judge of that, if he will, for himself. Answer at greater length 
will be given in next Fors. 

"Cranleigh, Surrey, May 26th, 1880. 

" Revered Sir, — You ask me how I came to be one of your 
pupils. I have always been fond of books, and in my reading I 
often saw your name; but one day, when reading a newspaper 
account of a book-sale, I saw that one of your books fetched 
^38 for the five volumes : I was struck with the amount, and 
thought that they must be worth reading ; I made up my mind 
to find out more about them, and if possible to buy some. The 
next time I went to London I asked a bookseller to show me 
some of your works : he told me that he did not keep them. I 
got the same answer from about half a dozen more that I tried ; 
but this only made me more determined to get them, and at last 
I found a bookseller who agreed to get me * Fors.' 

" When I got it, I saw that I could get them from Mr. Allen. 
I have done so ; and have now most of your works. 

" I read ' Fors ' with extreme interest, but it was a tough job 
for me, on account of the number of words in it that I had never 
met with before ; and as I never had any schooling worth mention- 
ing, I was obliged to look at my dictionaries pretty often : I think 
I have found out now the meanings of all the English words 
in it. 

" I got more good and real knowledge from ' Fors ' than from 
all the books put together that I had ever read. 



Notes and Correspondence. 149 

" I am now trying to carry out your principles in my business, 
which is that of a grocer, draper, and clothier ; in fact, my shop 
is supposed by the Cranleigh people to contain almost everything 
that folks require. 

" I have always conducted my business honestly : it is not so 
difficult to do this in a village as it is in larger places. As far 
as I can see, the larger the town the worse it is for the honest 
tradesman. [Italics mine. — J. R.] 

" The principal difference I make now in my business, since 
I read 'Fors,' is to recommend hand-made goods instead of 
machine-made. I am sorry to say that most of my customers 
will have the latter. I don't know what I can do further, as I am 
not the maker of the goods I sell, but only the distributor. 

" If I understand your teaching, I ought to keep hand-made 
goods only* and those of the best quality obtainable. If I did 
this, I certainly should lose nearly all my trade ; and as I have a 
family to support, I cannot do so. No ; I shall stick to it, and 
sell as good articles as I can for the price paid, and tell my 
customers, as I always have done, that the best goods are the 
cheapest. 

11 1 know you are right about the sin of usury. I have but little 
time to-day, but I will write to you again some day about this. 

11 1 met with a word (Adscititious) in ' Carlyle,' I cannot find 
in any dictionaries that I can get at. 

" I sent the minerals off yesterday packed in a box.t I am 

half-afraid now that you will not think them good enough for 

the Museum. 

" Your grateful pupil, 

"Stephen Rowland." 
John Ruskin, LL.D. 

* Answered — By no means, but to recommend them at all opportunities. 

f A collection of English minerals and fossils presented by Mr. Rowland to 
St. George's museum, out of which I have chosen a series from the Clifton 
limestones for permanent arrangement. 



APPENDIX I. 



MR. FOWLER'S REPORT ON THE CONDITION OF 
THE CALDER. 

Given in evidence before the Royal Commissioners at Wakefield, 
and published in their Report, page 17 {with some additions). 

It would be difficult to find a more striking instance than that afforded by 
the Calder, of the extent to which our rivers have been defiled by sewage and 
refuse from manufactories. Its green banks and interesting scenery made it 
formerly a pleasant resort for the artizan and operative in hours of leisure, 
while its clear and sparkling waters invited the healthful recreations of boating, 
bathing, and fishing. " In 1826 the water was clear, and the bottom was 
free from mud ; it was a gravelly, sandy bottom, and I have frequently myself 
sent stones into it for boys to dive down after ; the water at a depth of seven 
or eight feet was sufficiently clear to distinguish stones at the bottom ; some 
of the streams running in, for instance the Alverthorpe Beck, at that time were 
full of fish ; there was a great deal of fish in the river. I have frequently 
seen kingfishers there, which shows the general clearness of the water." — 
Extract from Mr. Milners evidence, p. 63. Pike of all sizes, trout up to 
three pounds in weight, salmon trout, dace, and bream were plentiful. Even 
so lately as within the last twenty years, any one with a fly might in an 
afternoon catch a basketful of chub, each weighing at least two or three 
pounds : and during freshes, with a cast net, very frequently ninety or a 
hundred, sometimes even a hundred and fifty pounds, of roach, chub, gudgeon, 
etc., were caught in an evening. On one occasion, where the water was let 
off from a quite short cutting belonging to the Calder and Hebble Navigation 
Company, at least four hundred and fifty pounds of eels were taken ; in fact, 
whenever any one wanted fish, a sackful might readily be obtained. Nothing 



Appendix. 1 5 1 

of this kind has been known, however, since the springing up of manufactories 
in the Vale of the Calder. Soon after the Thornes Soap Works were begun 
near Wakefield, many stones of fish, which had come up the river to spawn, 
were to be seen floating dead upon the surface. During that year all fish 
forsook this part of the stream as regular inhabitants. For some time after, 
however, during freshes, a fish was occasionally to be seen as a curiosity ; 
and so lately as 1858, an experienced fisherman succeeded, on one of several 
persevering trials, in capturing two small chub. 

At present, the condition of the river is most disgusting. Defiled almost 
from its source, it reaches us with the accumulated refuse of Todmorden, 
Hebden Bridge, Sowerby Bridge, Halifax, Elland, Brighouse, Cooper Bridge, 
Holmfirth, Huddersfield, Mirfield, Dewsbury, Earlsheaton, Thornhill, and 
Horbury. At the suspension bridge, about a mile and a half above Wakefield, 
it runs slowly, and in many places is almost stagnant. It has a bluish-black, 
dirty-slate colour ; and a faint, nauseous smell, which leaves an extremely 
unpleasant impression for long after it has been once thoroughly perceived, — 
considerably worse than that made by the Thames after a stage on a penny 
boat. The banks and every twig and weed in reach are coated with soft, 
black slime or mud, which is studded on the edges of the stream with vivid 
patches of annelides. Above are overhanging willows ; and where the branches 
of these touch the water, especially in any quiet pool, large sheets of thin 
bluish or yellowish green scum collect, undisturbed save by the rising to the 
surface of bubbles of foetid gas. Between this point and Wakefield, the refuse 
of extensive soap works and worsted mills enters, causing discolouration for 
several hundred yards. I have, in fact, traced large quantities of soap scum 
beyond Portobello, a distance of about half a mile. Nearer the town, quan- 
tities of refuse from large dye works are continually being discharged, to say 
nothing of the periodical emptying of spent liquor and vat sediments. // is 
noteworthy that whereas formerly goods were brought to Wakefield to be dyed on 
account of the superiority of the water for the purpose, the trade has noiv left 
Wakefield to a considerable extent, and the Wakefield manufacturers have them- 
selves to send away their finer goods from home to be dyed. On the opposite 
side are two full streams, one of sewage, the other apparently from some 
cotton mills ; and here it may be stated that the exact degree to which 
influxes of this kind injure in different cases is extremely difficult to estimate ; 
some manufacturers using ammonia, while others adhere to the old-fashioned 
pigs' dung and putrid urine. The banks on each side are here studded 
with granaries and malting houses, from the latter of which is received that 
most pernicious contamination, the steep-liquor of malt. There is also the 



152 Appendix. 

refuse of at least one brewhouse and piggery, and of a second soap manu- 
factory drained into the river before it reaches the outlet of Ings Beck, at the 
drain immediately above Wakefield Bridge. In this situation, on any warm 
day in summer, torrents of gas may be seen rising to the surface, and every 
now and then large masses of mud, which float for awhile and then, after the 
gas they contain has escaped and polluted the atmosphere, break up and are 
re-deposited, or are at once carried down the river, stinking and putrefying in 
their course. The Calder and Hebble Navigation Company are periodically 
put to great inconvenience and expense in removing collections of this kind, 
the smell of which is often most offensive, and has more than once caused 
serious illness to the workmen employed. About two years ago the mud had 
accumulated to a depth of five feet, and, the water having been drained off, 
at least two thousand tons were removed, but no fish or living being of any 
kind was discovered. At the bridge there has been a water-mill for at least 
seven hundred years, and any one interested in the smell of partially oxidized 
sewage should not omit to. stand over the spray which ascends from the wheel. 
Masses of solid faeces may be seen at the grating through which the water is 
strained. Looking from the bridge westward, except in wet weather, is a 
large, open, shallow, almost stagnant pond of the most offensive character, 
with tracts of dark-coloured mud constantly exposed. The sewer of the town 
and the West Riding Asylum, with the refuse of the worsted, woollen, and 
cloth mills, malt-houses, breweries, brew-houses, slaughter-houses, dye-works, 
fibre mills, soap mills, and grease works enters by the drain just below ; its 
surface covered with froth of every conceivable colour and degree of filthiness, 
overhung by willows, in whose branches are entangled and exposed to view 
the most disgusting objects. , The scum may readily be traced down the river 
for a considerable distance. The last defilement of moment is that from some 
extensive grease works, in which oil of vitriol is largely employed. 

The Ings Beck, to which I have already alluded, merits a few particular 
remarks, being the most important tributary the Calder receives in this district. 
On the day I last examined its outlet, the smell arising was most offensive. 
The general resemblance of the stream was rather to thick soup than water, 
and it had a dirty, greasy, yellowish, indigo-slate colour, where not coated by 
froth, scum, or floating filth. Its bed is silted to a considerable extent by 
black, foetid mud, and its outlet partially obstructed by two large ash heaps. 
It may be observed, however, that this is perhaps the only place in the 
neighbourhood at present where refuse ashes have been tilted, and that, though 
the height of the water in the river alters considerably according to the state 
of the weather, the raising of the bed is due for the most part to matters 



Appendix. 153 

washed down from a higher source. Such is the case with the miscellaneously 
constituted sediment dredged by the Calder and Hebble Navigation Company 
near the Wakefield dam, and with the shoal at Lupset pond above Wakefield ; 
an accumulation of ashes and dye-woods having risen in the latter situation 
during the last five or six years. Walking up the bank of the beck, one may 
form a fair idea of the kind of contamination received. Besides dead dogs, 
tin kettles, broken pots, old pans, boots, hats, etc., we find house-sinks and 
surface drains, public-house refuse and factors' privies flowing in unscrupulously. 
Myriads of annelides in the mud upon the banks subsist on the impurities ; 
that in the neighbourhood of a warm sewer being, in fact, for some distance 
entirely concealed by sheets of moving pink. A railway waggon-maker's 
establishment was a little while ago an artificial manure factory, and con- 
tributed greatly to the general pollution. 

At the bottom of Thornhili Street are two strong foul streams, one of sewage, 
the other, on the day I visited it, discharging deep indigo-coloured stuff. Im- 
mediately above this the beck, though receiving muddy refuse from some cement 
works, was purple coloured, and where the branches of overhanging shrubs 
dipped beneath its surface, a polychrome froth and scum collected. A few 
hundred yards higher, having passed the place of entrance of the purple dye, 
the stream regained nearly its original dirty indigo appearance. Near the Low 
Hill bridge was a fall of hot mauve refuse, with several yards of rainbow- 
coloured scum. Where the water could be seen, in one light it would have a 
bluish tint, in another a dirty yellowish ; and the mud was deep and flocculent. 
Nearer Chald Lane there was an extremely filthy ditch, covered with scum, and 
loaded with the privy and house refuse of a large number of cottages and low 
lodging-houses ; and a little higher two large streams of thick purple dye refuse. 
Above the dam in this situation enter the waste of a dye-works and shoddy 
mill, with the filthy privy and surface drains of Salt Pie Alley. The water 
here is the colour of the contents of a slop-pail, is almost stagnant, coated in 
patches of several yards with scum, and is in other respects very offensive. At 
Brooksbank a kind of long oblong pond is formed, two sides of which are of 
thick mud, one exposing the privy refuse and excrements in three drains from 
the neighbouring cottages and lodging-houses ; and about here does or did 
recently enter the flushings of the cesspools from the prison with its sixteen 
hundred inmates, and the refuse of the chemicals used in the annual manu- 
facture, dyeing, and bleaching of about seven hundred and fifty tons of matting. 
Balne Beck also enters at this point. Going upwards we find the Westgate 
Beck receiving the fouled water and other refuse of two large worsted mills, of 
surface drains, of piggeries, and of privies ; then muddy water, apparently from 



154 Appendix. 

some brick-yards, and hot waste from a large woollen mill. Immediately 
above healthy green confervas begin to show themselves ; long grass floats 
on the surface ; shrubs grow upon the banks ; and if a brown scum collects 
where the branches touch the surface, it has altogether a less disgusting 
character. Fairly out in the country the water is bright and clear, and boys 
bathe in it in summer when deep enough. 

Balne Beck is on the whole as yet tolerably clean, the sid^s only being lined 
with mud patched with red, and the stones at the bottom coated with long trails 
of green confervas. The principal impurities are from a soap-works, a coal- 
mine, a skin-preparing shed, and a brick-field. The Yorkshire Fibre Company 
did a short time since drain a large quantity of poisonous matter into the beck, 
but is at present restrained by an injunction. 

The Water Company's works are situated about two and a half miles below 
Wakefield Bridge, and consequently receive the water in an extremely un- 
favourable condition. It has received the unchecked and accumulating filth 
and pollution of 400,000 inhabitants (number now much greater), and their 
manufactures, to which Wakefield itself, with its 20,000 inhabitants, has contri- 
buted. The large live-stock market also, with its average sale of 800 beasts and 
6,000 sheep, has added a grave pollution. As if to show how completely we 
acquiesce in the abandoned corruption of the stream, the putrefying carcases of 
animals — not only of dogs and cats, but of pigs, sheep, and calves — are allowed 
to drift along with their surfeiting smell, until stopped of themselves at Stanley 
Ferry. 

On stirring up the mud from the bottom, a Winchester quart of gas was 
readily collected by means of an inverted funnel, and was found, on exami- 
nation, to consist chiefly of carbonic acid, light carburetted hydrogen, sulphu- 
retted hydrogen, and free nitrogen. 

It is not easy to estimate accurately the effect of nuisances of this kind on the 
public health. Two years and a half ago, whilst the waterworks were under- 
going improvement, and for some months the supply to the town was merely 
pumped up from the river into the mains without filtration, the actual mortality 
did not appear directly to increase. This, however, may be explained by the 
fact that a peculiar atmospheric condition is necessary in order to develop fully 
the death-bearing properties of impure water ; and it may be added that, as it 
was, and as I had occasion to represent to the Local Board at that time, there 
was a greater amount of diarrhoea, continued fever, erysipelas, diffuse abscess, 
and of cutaneous and subcutaneous cellular inflammation ; while the inflam- 
mation generally was peculiarly liable to take on the erysipelatous form and 
become unmanageable, and the convalescence from various diseases to be 



Appendix. 155 

unwontedly interrupted and prolonged. Possibly this, and even an increased 
death-rate, had it occurred, might have been explained in part by other causes; 
but I cannot resist the conviction that bad water as a beverage, and the taint 
which it communicates to the atmosphere, bear a most important part both in 
causing actual disease and in weakening the power of the constitution to bear 
up against disease, and so shorten life in that way. Greatly improved houses 
have been built for the artizan class during the last few years ; greater attention 
has been paid to the ventilation of mills and workshops ; the agitation for a 
people's park, indicates how wide-awake the population is to the benefit of 
fresh air ; wages have increased ; the character of the food consumed is more 
closely inspected ; the drainage is more efficient ; many open sewers have been 
closed ; bad wells have been stopped ; but both the death-rate and the amount 
of disease have increased ; the former reaching so high as 27 '4 per thousand in 
the present year. The whole of the excess in this mortality is due to prevent- 
able disease, which includes diarrhoea, cholera, and typhoid, the poison of which 
may unquestionably and has frequently been known to be conveyed through 
water. An indication of the extent to which constitutional vigour has at the 
same time diminished, is found in the fact that less than twenty years ago to 
blister, bleed, and purge was the routine of the physicians' practice at the 
dispensary, while cod-liver oil and quinine were unknown. This mode of 
treatment, if it did not cure, certainly did not kill ; for the patients did well 
under it, having strength to bear up against and conquer both disease and 
treatment. Now, I will venture to say, that ninety-nine per cent, of our 
patients would sink under the depletory measures of bygone days ; and during 
last year, in a practice of only 2,700 patients, it was found necessary to pre- 
scribe no less than twenty-three gallons of cod-liver oil, and sixty-four ounces of 
quinine, to say nothing of nourishment and stimulants. An atmosphere satu- 
rated with smoke, and shutting out instead of conveying the light of the sun, 
sedentary habits, dense population, and unhealthy pursuits, have doubtless 
shared in bringing about this general lowness of constitution ; but the healthy 
textural drainage and repair of the body, and consequently the perfect activity 
of its functions, can scarcely take place if, instead of pure water, it be supplied 
with a compound with which it is not organised to operate. 

I have nothing to add respecting the moral contamination of material filthi- 
ness, since that is out of my province. But surely drunkenness and vice, and 
other forms of intellectual insensibility, are fostered, if not originated, by mental 
despair and disappointment ; the things which should, in the ordinary course of 
nature, be pleasing and refreshing to the mind, having ceased to be so. At least 
we are taught that in the heavenly Jerusalem the river which proceeds from 



156 Appendix. 

the throne of God is clear as crystal, giving birth on either side to the tree of 
life for the healing of the nations ; whereas 

" Upon the banks a scurf, 
From the foul stream condensed, encrusting hangs, 
That holds sharp combat with the sight and smell," 
freighted by devils, in the dingy regions of the damned. 

(Signed) James Fowler. 

Wakefield, \$th October, 1866. 

(The Commissioners at this time said the river had received the utmost 
amount of contamination of which a river was capable, — but it is much worse 
now.) 



APPENDIX II, 



The business of mining is put in this subordinate class, because 
there is already more metal of all sorts than we want in the world, 
if it be used prudently ; and the effect of this surplus is even now 
to make mining, on the whole, always a loss. I did not know that 
this law extended even to recent gold-workings. The following 
extract from the ' Athenaeum ' of April 3 of this year is, I suppose, 
trustworthy : — 

A History of the Precious Metals from the Earliest Times to the Present. 
By Alexander Del Mar, M.E. (Bell and Sons.) 

It is not often that a volume which deals with such a subject as that which 
Mr. Del Mar has written on can be considered interesting by the general 
reader. Yet in the present instance this really might be the case if the reader 
were to occupy himself with those chapters in this work which deal with 
mining for the precious metals in America. A residence of some years in 
California has given Mr. Del Mar a practical acquaintance with the manner in 
which mining is conducted, and the history of that industry there from the 
commencement. This knowledge also has enabled him to describe with the 
vividness derived from actual knowledge the operations of the Spaniards in 
Central America while seaching for gold from the fifteenth century onwards. 
The picture Mr. Del Mar draws of the results of the auri sacra fames which 
consumed both earlier and later seekers after wealth is indeed terrible. 
Empires were' overthrown, and their industries and docile populations were 
swept away in numbers almost beyond belief, or ground down by every 
suffering which avarice, cruelty, and sensuality could inflict. The ultimate utter 
exhaustion both of conquerors and conquered marks the period, reaching far 
into the eighteenth century, when forced labour was employed. The state- 



158 Appendix. 

ment that "the Indies had become 'a sort of money '" (p. 63), expresses 
perhaps as forcibly as possible what the fate of the native inhabitants of Southern 
America was under the rule of the Spaniard. And if, during the compara- 
tively short period that has elapsed since the famous discovery of gold at Mill 
Race in California, the reckless consumption of life has not been associated 
with the utter brutality which marked the conduct of the followers of Cortes 
and Pizarro, the economic results are scarcely more satisfactory. Mr. Del Mar 
calculates that the outlay on mining far outweighs the proceeds ; he estimates 
that the ^90,000,000 of gold produced in California from 1848 to 1856 inclu- 
sive M cost in labour alone some ^450,000,000, or five times its mint value " 
(p. 263). Nor is this estimate of the net product even of the " Comstock 
Lode " more favourable to the owners (p. 266). Here also the total cost is 
placed at five times the return. Beyond this the mining country is devastated. 
Destruction of timber, consequent injury to climate, ruin to fertile land by 
hydraulic mining, are but a part of the injury. The scale on which operations 
are carried on may be judged from the fact that the aggregate length of the 
"mining ditches," or aqueducts, employed in bringing water to the mines, is 
put down as 6,585 miles in California in 1879 (p. 290). These works are 
maintained at much cost. The reader will ask, ' How can such an industry 
continue ? The country is desolated, the majority of those employed lose. 
"Why is all this labour thus misapplied ? ' The answer is, The spirit of 
gambling and the chance of a lucky hit lure the venturers on. The multitude 
forget the misfortunes of the many, while they hope to be numbered among the 
fortunate few. 



FORS CLAVIGERA. 

SECOND SERIES. 



"YEA, THE WORK OF OUR HANDS, ESTABLISH THOU IT.' 



AM putting my house in order ; and would fain 
* put my past work in order too, if I could. Some 
guidance, at least, may be given to the readers of 
Fors — or to its partial readers — in their choice of 
this or that number. To this end I have now given 
each monthly part its own name, indicative of its special 
subject. The connection of all these subjects, and of 
the book itself with my other books, may perhaps begin 
to show itself in this letter. 

The first principle of my political economy will be 
found again and again reiterated in all the said books, — 
that the material wealth of any country is the portion 
of its possessions which feeds and educates good men 
and women in it ; the connected principle of national 
policy being that the strength and power of a country 
depends absolutely on the quantity of good men and 
women in the territory of it, and not at all on the 
extent of the territory — still less on the number of vile 

2ND^SERIES.] I 4 



160 Fors Clavigera. 

or stupid inhabitants. A good crew in a good ship, 
however small, is a power ; but a bad crew in the 
biggest ship — none, — and the best crew in a ship cut 
in half by a collision in a hurry, not much the better 
for their numbers. 

Following out these two principles, I have farther, 
and always, taught that, briefly, the wealth of a country 
is in its good men and women, and in nothing else : 
that the riches of England are good Englishmen ; of 
Scotland, good Scotchmen ; of Ireland, good Irishmen. 
This is first, and more or less eloquently, stated in the 
close of the chapter called the Veins of Wealth, of 
1 Unto this Last ' ; and is scientifically, and in sifted 
terms, explained and enforced in ' Munera Pulveris.' I 
have a word or two yet to add to what I have written, 
which I will try to keep very plain and unfigurative. 

It is taught, with all the faculty I am possessed of, 
in ' Sesame and Lilies,' that in a state of society in 
which men and women are as good as they can be, 
(under mortal limitation), the women will be the guiding 
and purifying power. In savage and embryo countries, 
they are openly oppressed, as animals of burden ; in 
corrupted and fallen countries, more secretly and 
terribly. I am not careful concerning the oppression 
which they are able to announce themselves, forming 
anti-feminine-slavery colleges and institutes, etc. ; but 
of the oppression which they cannot resist, ending in 
their destruction, I am careful exceedingly. 






Fors Clavigera. 161 

The merely calculable phenomena of economy are 
indeed supposed at present to indicate a glut of them ; 
but our economists do not appear ever to ask them- 
selves of what quality the glut is, or, at all events, in 
what quality it would be wisest to restrict the supply, 
and in what quality, educated according to the laws 
of God, the supply is at present restricted. 

I think the experience of most thoughtful persons 
will confirm me in saying that extremely good girls, 
(good children, broadly, but especially girls,) usually die 
young. The pathos of their deaths is constantly used 
in poetry and novels ; but the power of the fiction rests, 
I suppose, on the fact that most persons of affectionate 
temper have lost their own May Queens or little Nells 
in their time. For my own part of grief, I have known 
a little Nell die, and a May Queen die, and a queen 
of May, and of December also, die ; — all of them, in 
economists' language, ' as good as gold,' and in Christian 
language, ' only a little lower than the angels, and 
crowned with glory and honour.' And I could count 
the like among my best-loved friends, with a rosary 
of tears. 

It seems, therefore, that God takes care, under present 
circumstances, to prevent, or at least to check, the glut 
of that kind of girls. Seems, I say, and say with 
caution — for perhaps it is not entirely in His good 
pleasure that these things are so. But, they being so, 
the question becomes therefore yet more imperative — 



1 62 Fors Clavigera. 

how far a country paying this enforced tax of its good 
girls annually to heaven is wise in taking little account 
of the number it has left ? For observe that, just 
beneath these girls of heaven's own, come another 
kind, who are just earthly enough to be allowed to 
stay with us ; but who get put out of the way into 
convents, or made mere sick-nurses of, or take to 
mending the irremediable, — (I've never got over the 
loss to me, for St. George's work, of one of the sort). 
Still, the nuns are always happy themselves ; and the 
nurses do a quantity of good that may be thought of 
as infinite in its own way ; and there's a chance of 
their being forced to marry a King of the Lombards 
and becoming Queen Theodolindas and the like : pass 
these, and we come to a kind of girl, just as good, but 
with less strong will # — who is more or less spoilable 
and mis-manageable : and these are almost sure to 
come to grief, by the faults of others, or merely by the 
general fashions and chances of the world. In romance, 
for instance, Juliet — Lucy Ashton — Amy Robsart. In 
my own experience, I knew one of these killed merely 
by a little piece of foolish pride — the exactly opposite 
fault to Juliet's.")* She was the niece of a most trusted 
friend of my father's, also a much trusted friend of 

* Or, it may be, stronger animal passion. — a greater inferiority. 

t Juliet, being a girl of a noble Veronese house, had no business to fall 
in love at first sight with anybody. It is her humility that is the death of 
her ; and Imogen would have died in the same way, but for her helpful 
brothers. Of Desdemona, see Tors' for November 1877 (vol. vii., p. 357). 



Fors Clavigera. 163 

mine in the earliest Heme Hill days of my Cock 
Robin-hood ; when I used to transmute his name, Mr. 
Dowie, into ' Mr. Good-do,' not being otherwise clear 
about its pronunciation. His niece was an old sea- 
captain's only daughter, motherless, and may have been 
about twenty years old when I was twelve. She was 
certainly the most beautiful girl of the pure English- 
Greek* type I ever saw, or ever am likely to see of any 
type whatever. I've only since seen one who could 
match her, but she was Norman-English. My mother 
was her only confidante in her love affairs : consisting 
mostly in gentle refusals — not because she despised 
people, or was difficult to please, but wanted simply 
to stay with her father ; and did so serenely, modestly, 
and with avoidance of all pain she could spare her 
lovers, dismissing quickly and firmly, never tempting 
or playing with them. 

At last, when she was some five or six and twenty, 
came one whom she had no mind to dismiss ; and 
suddenly finding herself caught, she drew up like a 
hart at bay. The youth, unluckily for him, dared not 
push his advantage, lest he should be sent away like 
the rest ; and would not speak, — partly could not, 
loving her better than the rest, and struck dumb, as an 

* By the English-Greek type, I mean the features of the statue of Psyche 
at Naples, with finely-pencilled dark brows, rather dark hair, and bright 
pure colour. I never forget beautiful faces, nor confuse their orders of 
dignity, so that I am quite sure of the statement in the text. 



164 Fors Clavigera. 

honest and modest English lover is apt to be, when 
he was near her ; so that she fancied he did not care 
for her. At last, she came to my mother to ask 
what she should do. My mother said, " Go away for 
a while,' — if he cares for you, he will follow you ; if 
not, there's no harm done." 

But she dared not put it to the touch, thus, but 
lingered on, where she could sometimes see him, — and 
yet, in her girl's pride, lest he should find out she 
liked him, treated him worse than she had anybody 
ever before. Of course this piece of wisdom soon 
brought matters to an end. The youth gave up all 
hope, went away, and, in a month or two after, died 
of the then current plague, cholera : upon which his 
sister — I do not know whether in wrath or folly — told 
his mistress the whole matter, and showed her what 
she had done. The poor girl went on quietly taking 
care of her father, till his death, which soon followed ; 
then, with some kindly woman-companion, went to 
travel. 

Some five or six years afterwards, my father and 
mother and I were going up to Chamouni, by the old 
char-road under the Cascade de Chede. There used to 
be an idiot beggar-girl, who always walked up beside 
the chars, not ugly or cretinous, but inarticulate and 
wild-eyed, moaning a little at intervals. She came to 
be, in time, year after year, a part of the scene, which 
one would even have been sorry to have lost. As we 



Fors Clavigera. 165 

drew near the top of the long hill, and this girl had 
just ceased following, a lady got out of a char at some 
little distance behind, and ran up to ours, holding out 
her hands. 

We none of us knew her. There was something in 
the eyes like the wild look of the other's ; the face 
was wrinkled, and a little hard in expression — Alpine, 
now, in its beauty. " Don't you know Sybilla ? " said 
she. My mother made her as happy as she could for 
a week at Chamouni, — I am not sure if they ever met 
again : the girl wandered about wistfully a . year or two 
longer, then died of rapid decline. 

I have told this story in order to draw two pieces of 
general moral from it, which may perhaps be more 
useful than if they were gathered from fable. 

First, a girl's proper confidant is her father. If there 
is any break whatever in her trust in him, from her 
infancy to her marriage, there is wrong somewhere, — 
often on his part, but most likely it is on hers ; by 
getting into the habit of talking with her girl-friends 
about what they have no business with, and her father 
much. What she is not inclined to tell her father, should 
be told to no one ; and, in nine cases out of ten, not 
thought of by herself. 

And I believe that few fathers, however wrong-headed 
or hard-hearted, would fail of answering the habitual 
and patient confidence of their child with true care 
for her. On the other hand, no father deserves, nor 



1 66 



Fors Clavigera. 



can he entirely and beautifully win, his daughter's 
confidence, unless he loves her better than he does 
himself, which is not always the case. But again here, 
the fault may not be all on papa's side. 

In the instance before us, the relations between the 
motherless daughter and her old sea-captain father 
were entirely beautiful, but not rational enough. He 
ought to have known, and taught his pretty Sybilla, 
that she had other duties in the world than those 
immediately near his own arm-chair ; and she, if 
resolved not to marry while he needed her, should 
have taken more care of her own heart, and followed 
my mother's wise counsel at once. 

In the second place, when a youth is fully in love 
with a girl, and feels that he is wise in loving her, he 
should at once tell her so plainly, and take his chance 
bravely, with other suitors. No lover should have the 
insolence to think of being accepted at once, nor should 
any girl have the cruelty to refuse at once; without 
severe reasons. If she simply doesn't like him, she 
may send him away for seven years or so — he vowing 
to live on cresses, and wear sackcloth meanwhile, or the 
like penance : if she likes him a little, or thinks she 
might come to like him in time, she may let him 
stay near her, putting him always on sharp trial to 
see what stuff he is made of, and requiring, figuratively, 
as many lion-skins or giants' heads as she thinks herself 
worth. The whole meaning and power of true courtship 






Fors Clavigera. 167 

is Probation ; and it oughtn't to be shorter than three 
years at least, — seven is, to my own mind, the orthodox 
time. And these relations between the young people 
should be openly and simply known, not to their 
friends only, but to everybody who has the least 
interest in them : and a girl worth anything ought to 
have always half a dozen or so of suitors under vow 
for her. 

There are no words strong enough to express the 
general danger and degradation of the manners of mob- 
courtship, as distinct from these, which have become 
the fashion, — almost the law, — in modern times : when 
in a miserable confusion of candlelight, moonlight, and 
limelight — and anything but daylight, — in indecently 
attractive and insanely expensive dresses, in snatched 
moments, in hidden corners, in accidental impulses 
and dismal ignorances, young people smirk and ogle 
and whisper and whimper and sneak and stumble 
and flutter and fumble and blunder into what they 
call Love ; — expect to get whatever they like the 
moment they fancy it, and are continually in the 
danger of losing all the honour of life for a folly, and 
all the joy of it by an accident. 

Passing down now from the class of good girls who 
have the power, if they had the wisdom, to regulate 
their lives instead of losing them, to the less fortunate 
classes, equally good — (often, weighing their adversity 
in true balance, it might be conjectured, better,) — who 



1 68 Fors Clavigera. 

have little power of ruling, and every provocation to 
misruling their fates : who have, from their births, much 
against them, few to help, and, virtually, none to guide, 
— how are we to count the annual loss of its girl- wealth 
to the British nation in these ? Loss, and probably 
worse ; for if there be fire and genius in these neglected 
ones, and they chance to have beauty also, they are 
apt to become to us long-running, heavy burdening, 
incalculable compound interest of perdition. God save 
them, and all of us, at last ! 

But, merely taking the pocket-book red-lined balance 
of the matter, what, in mere cash and curricle, do 
these bright reverses of their best human treasures cost 
the economical British race, or the cheerful French ? 
That account you would do well to cast, looking down 
from its Highgate ' upon your own mother — (of 
especially these sort of children ?) city ; or, in Paris, 
from the hill named, from the crowd of its Christian 
martyrs, Mont Martre, upon the island in Seine 
named ' of our Lady ' — the He Notre Dame ; or, from 
top of Ingleborough, on all the south and east of 
Lancashire and Yorkshire, black with the fume of 
their fever-fretted cities, rolling itself along the dales, 
mixed with the torrent mists. Do this piece of statistic 
and arithmetic there, taking due note that each of 
these great and little Babylons, if even on the creditor 
side you may set it down for so much (dubitable) 
value of produce in dynamite and bayonet, in vitriol, 






Fors Clavigera. 169 

brass, and iron, — yet on the debtor side has to account 
for annual deficit zV/dubitable ! — the casting away 
of things precious, the profanation of things pure, 
the pain of things capable of happiness — to what 
sum ? 

I have told you a true story of the sorrow and 
death of a maid whom all who knew her delighted 
in. I want you to read another of the sorrow and 
vanishing of one whom few, except her father, delighted 
in ; and none, in any real sense, cared for. A younger 
girl this, of high powers — and higher worth, as it 
seems to me. The story is told in absolute and simple 
truth by Miss Laffan, in her little grey and red book, 
— 'Baubie Clarke.' (Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh, 
1880.) "It all happened in Edinburgh," Miss Laffan 
says in a private letter to me, " exactly as I relate : 
I went into every place in which this child was, in 
order to describe them and her, and I took great 
pains to give the dialect exactly. I remember how 
disappointed you were to learn that Flitters' death 
was not true ; — this story is quite true, from first to 
last." I must leave my darling Baubie for a moment, 
to explain the above sentence with a word or two about 
my still better beloved Flitters, in ' Tatters, Flitters, 
and the Councillor.' The study of those three children, 
given by Miss Laffan, is, in the deepest sense, more 
true, as well as more pathetic, than that, of Baubie 
Clarke, — for Miss Laffan knows and sees the children 



170 Fors Clavigera. 

of her own country thoroughly,* but she has no clear 
perceptions of the Scotch. Also, the main facts 
concerning Tatters and Flitters and their legal adviser 
are all true — bitterly and brightly true : but the 
beautiful and heroic death was — I could find it in my 
heart to say, unhappily, — not the young girl's. Flitters, 
when last I heard of her, was still living her life of 
song ; such song as was possible to her. The death, 
so faithfully and beautifully told, was actually that of 
an old man, an outcast, like herself. I have no 
doubt Flitters could, and would, have died so, had it 
become her duty, and the entire harmony of the story 
is perfect ; but it is not so sound, for my purpose 
here, as the pure and straightforward truth of Baubie 
Clarke. 

I must give the rude abstract of it at once : Miss 
Laffan's detailed picture will not, I believe, be after- 
wards of less interest. 

Baubie, just thirteen, lived with her father and 
mother, in lodgings, such as the piety of Edinburgh 
provides for her poor. The mother was a hopeless 
drunkard, her father the same — on Saturday nights ; 
during the week carrying advertisement-boards for 
what stipend that kind of service obtains. Baubie, a 

* It is curious, by the way, how totally Miss Edgeworth failed in 
drawing Irish children, though she could do English ones perfectly — and 
how far finer ' Simple Susan ' is than * The Orphans ' — while her Irish men 
and women are perfect, and she is, in fact, the only classical authority in 
the matter of Irish character. 



Fors Clavigera. 171 

vagrant street- singer, is the chief support and guardian 
both of father and mother. She is taken captive one 
day, at a street corner, by a passing benevolent lady ; 
(I can't find out, and Miss Laffan is to be reprehended 
for this omission, if Baubie was pretty ! — in her wild 
way, I gather — yes ;) carried off to an institution of 
sempstresses, where she is cross-examined, with wonder 
and some pity; but found to be an independent British 
subject, whose liberties, at that moment, cannot be 
infringed. But a day or two afterwards, her father 
coming to grief, somehow, and getting sent to prison 
for two months, the magistrate very properly takes 
upon him the responsibility of committing Baubie, in 
the meantime, to Miss Mackenzie's care. (I forget 
what becomes of the mother.) 

She is taken into a charitable, religious, and extremely 
well-regulated institution ; she is washed and combed 
properly, and bears the operation like a courageous 
poodle ; obeys afterwards what orders are given her 
patiently and duly. To her much surprise and dis- 
content, her singing, the chief pleasure and faculty of 
her existence, is at once stopped, under penalties. 
And, while she stays in the institution, she makes no 
farther attempt to sing. 

But from the instant she heard her father's sentence 
in the police court, she has counted days and hours. 
A perfect little keeper of accounts she is : the Judg- 
ment Angel himself, we may not doubt, approving and 



172 Fors Clavigera. 

assisting, so far as needful. She knows the day and the 
hour by the Tron church, at which her father, thinking 
himself daughterless, will be thrust out, wistful, from his 
prison gate. She is only fearful, prudently and beauti- 
fully self-distrusting, of missing count of a day. 

In the dormitory of her institution, on an unregarded 
shutter, in the shade, morning after morning she cuts 
her punctual notch. 

And the weary sixty days pass by. The notches 
are counted true to the last, — and on the last night, 
her measures all taken, and her points and methods of 
attack all planned, she opens the window-sash silently, 
leaps down into the flowerless garden, climbs its wall, 
cat-like, — Lioness-like, — and flies into Edinburgh before 
the morning light. And at noon, her father, faltering 
through the prison gate, finds her sitting on its step 
waiting for him. 

And they two leave Edinburgh together, and are 
seen — never more. 

On the cover of the book which tells you this 
ower-true Scots novel, there is a rude woodcut of Baubie, 
with a background consisting of a bit of a theatre, an 
entire policeman, and the advertisement window of a 
tavern, — with tacit implication that, according to the 
benevolent people of Edinburgh, all the mischief they 
contend with is in theatres, as against chapels ; taverns, 
as against coffee-shops ; and police, as against universal 
Scripture-readers. 



Fors Clavigera. i 73 

Partly, this is true, — in the much greater part it is 
untrue ; — and all through ' Fors ' you will find the 
contrary statement that theatres should be pious places ; 
taverns, holy places, and policemen an irresistibly 
benevolent power : which, indeed, they mostly are 
already ; and what London crossings and cart-drivings 
would be without them we all know. But I can 
write no more on these matters myself, in this Fors, 
and must be content to quote the following extremely 
beautiful and practical suggestion by Sir John Ellesmere, 
and so, for to day, end. 

" I don't care much about music myself. Indeed, I 
often wonder at the sort of passionate delight which 
Milverton, and people like him, have in the tinkling 
of cymbals ; but I suppose that their professions of 
delight are sincere. I proposed to a grave statesman, 
who looked daggers at me for the proposal, that the 
surplus of the Irish Church revenues should be devoted 
to giving opera-boxes to poor people who are very 
fond of music. What are you all giggling at ? I'll bet 
any money that that surplus will not be half so well 
employed. Dear old Peabody used to send orders for 
opera-boxes to poor friends. I v/as once present when 
one of these orders arrived for a poor family devoted 
to music ; and I declare I have seldom seen such joy 
manifested by any human beings. I don't mind telling 
you that since that time, I have sometimes done 



174 Fors Clctvigcra. 

something of the same kind myself. Very wrong, of 
course, for I ought to have given the money to a 
hospital." 

In looking back over Fors with a view to indices, 
I find the Notes and Correspondence in small print a 
great plague, and purpose henceforward to print all 
letters that are worth my reader's diligence in the same- 
sized type as my own talk. His attention is first 
requested to the following very valuable one, originally 
addressed to the editor of the ' Dunfermline Journal ' ; 
whence reprinted, it was forwarded to me, and is here 
gladly edited again ; being the shortest and sensiblest 
I ever got yet on the vegetarian side. 

Vegetarianism. — " Sir, — As a vegetarian, and mother 
of four vegetarian children, will you kindly grant me a 
little space in favour of a cause which editors seemingly 
regard as a subject for jest rather than serious conside- 
ration ? Without aiming at convincing men, I would 
appeal principally to women and mothers ; to consider 
this cause, if they wish to enjoy good rest at nights and 
see robust healthy children who are never fevered with 
fatty soups. Without taking up the question about the 
use or abuse of the lower animals, I would direct your 
attention to our own species — men and women — and 
the benefit of vegetarianism as regards them only, 
economy being one of my pleas ; health, comfort, and 



Fors Clavigera. 175 

cleanliness the others. Look on the lower masses who 
live in fever dens, dress in rags, are constant claimants 
of charity, invariable exhibitions of dirt and disease ; 
and go when you like to their dens, what fries of 
steaks and pork do you not sniff up, with the other 
compounds of abominations ! Look at the other picture. 
Scotsmen are all the world over foremen in workshops 
and leaders of men. Who are the best men in Scotland 
but these porridge-fed, abstemious, clear-headed Aber- 
donians, who only grow weakly and unhealthy when 
they grow out of the diet that made their positions, 
and take to the customs about them ? Is the man 
or woman to be laughed at, or admired, the most who 
can be content with a bit of bread or a basin of 
porridge as a meal, that he may be able to buy clothes 
or books, or take a better house to live in, or have 
something to lay past for education, or to give in 
charity after he has paid his debts ; or. is the custom 
to be advocated that encourages gorging three or four 
times a-day with all sorts of expensive luxuries, meaning, 
to the workman, when his work is slack, starvation 
or dependence ? Sir, to me — a vegetarian both from 
choice and necessity — it appears that no condition of 
life can justify that practice while poverty exists. As 
regards the laws of health I leave the matter to doctors 
to take up and discuss. I have only to say from the 
personal experience of five years that I am healthier 
and stronger than I was before, have healthy, strong 

2ND SERIES.] I £ 



l 7& Fors Clavigera. 

children, who never require a doctor, and who live on 
oatmeal porridge and pease bannocks, but who do not 
know the taste of beef, butter, or tea, and who have 
never lost me a night's rest from their birth. Porridge 
is our principal food, but a drink of buttermilk or an 
orange often serve our dinner, and through the time 
saved I have been able to attend to the health of my 
children and the duties of my home without the 
hindrance of a domestic servant, my experiments in 
that line being a complete failure. 

" I am, etc., Helen Nisbet. 

"35, Lome Street, Leith Walk." 

I am in correspondence with the authoress of this 
letter, and will give the results arrived at in next 
Fors, only saying now that Walter Scott, Burns, and 
Carlyle, are among the immortals, on her side, with a 
few other wise men, such as Orpheus, St. Benedict, 
and St. Bernard ; and that, although under the no less 
wise guidance of the living Esculapius, Sir William 
Gull, (himself dependent much for diet on Abigail's 
gift to David, a bunch of raisins,) I was cured of my 
last dangerous illness with medicine of mutton-chop, 
and oysters ; it is conceivable that these drugs were 
in reality homoeopathic, and hairs of the dogs that bit 
me. I am content to-day to close the evidence for the 
vegetarians with Orpheus' Hymn to the Earth : — 

"Oh Goddess Earth, mother of the happy Gods and 
of mortal men, 



Fars Clavigera. 177 

All-nursing, all-giving, all-bearing, all-destroying ; 

Increasing in blossom, heavy with fruit, overflowing 
with beauty, 

Throne of eternal ordinance, infinitely adorned girl, 

Who bearest in birth-pang all manner of fruit ; 
, Eternal, all-honoured, deep-hearted, happy-fated; 

Rejoicing in meadow-sweetness, deity of flower- 
multitude, 

And joyful in thy Night ; round whom the fair- 
wrought order of the stars 

Rolls in its everlasting nature and dreadful flowing; 

Oh blessed goddess, increase thy fruits in gladness, 

And through thy happy seasons in kindness of soul." 

The second, and in this number terminal letter, 
which I have to recommend to the reader's study, 
is one from the agents to the Dean and Chapter of 
Chester, as follows : — 

"St. Werburgh Chambers, Chester, April 17, 1883. 

"Sir, — Our attention has just been called to an 
anonymous letter contained in your ' Fors ' — letter fifth, 
1880 — reflecting on the Dean and Chapter of Chester 
in the management of their property. The paragraph 
occurs at p. 145-46, and commences thus : 'Only a week 
ago,' etc. ; and ends, ' With an irresistible tongue,' etc. 

" Our answer is : — The Dean and Chapter have never 
refused to grant a lease to an eligible man, but have 
always complied when asked. They have not * raised 



178 Fors Clavigera. 

all the rents,' etc., but have materially reduced most of 
them since they acquired their property. The agents 
never interfere with the modes of farming unless 
manifestly exhaustive ; and the statement that they 
' only allow the land to be sown,' etc., on a ' personal 
inspection of their agents,' is untrue. They never heard 
of any ' poverty prevaling {sic) on their estate to an 
alarming extent,' or to any extent at all. Surely ' the 
Workmen and Labourers of Great Britain ' deserve to 
be approached with verified facts, and not thus. 
" Yours obediently, ToWNSHEND AND BARKUS. 

(Agents to the Dean and Chapter of Chester.) 

"John Ruskin, Esq., LL.D." 

The only notice which it seems to me necessary to 
take of this letter is the expression of my satisfaction 
in receiving it, qualified with the recommendation to 
the Very Rev d - the Dean and Rev ds - the Chapter of 
Chester, to advise their agents that 'prevailing' is 
usually spelt with an ' i.' 

John Ruskin. 

Brantwood, 2yd April, 1883. 




LETTER THE 91st. 



September, 



[883. 



DUST OF GOLD. 



HAVE received several letters from young corre- 
spondents, complaining that I attach too much 
importance to beauty in women, and asking, " What are 
plain girls to do ? " — one of them putting this farther 
question, not easy of answer, " Why beauty is so often 
given to girls who have only the mind to misuse it, and 
not to others, who would hold it as a power for God's 
service ? " To which question, however, it is to be 

XCI.] 



1 80 Fors C laviper a. 



answered, in the first place, that the mystery is quite 
as great in the bestowal of riches and wit ; in the second 
place, that the girls who misuse their beauty, only do 
it because they have not been taught better, and it 
is much more other people's fault than theirs ; in the 
third place, that the privilege of seeing beauty is quite 
as rare a one as that of possessing it, and far more 
fatally misused. 

The question, " What are plain girls to do ? " requires 
us first to understand clearly what " plainness " is. No 
girl who is well bred, kind, and modest, is ever offensively 
plain ; all real deformity means want of manners, or of 
heart. I may say, in defence of my own constant praise 
of beauty, that I do not attach half the real importance 
to it which is assumed in ordinary fiction ; — above all, 
in the pages of the periodical which best represents, as 
a whole, the public mind of England. As a rule, through- 
out the whole seventy-volume series of ' Punch,' — first by 
Leech and then by Du Maurier, —all nice girls are repre- 
sented as pretty ; all nice women, as both pretty and 
well dressed ; and if the reader will compare a sufficient 
number of examples extending over a series of years, 
he will find the moral lesson more and more enforced 
by this most popular authority, that all real ugliness 
in either sex means some kind of hardness of heart, 
or vulgarity of education. The ugliest man, for all 
in all, in ' Punch ' is Sir Gorgius Midas, — the ugliest 
women, those who are unwilling to be old. Generally 



Fors Clavigera. 1 8 1 

speaking, indeed, ' Punch ' is cruel to women above a 
certain age ; but this is the expression of a real truth 
in modern England, that the ordinary habits of life and 
modes of education produce great plainness of mind in 
middle-aged women. 

I recollect three examples in the course of only the 
last four or five months of railway travelling. The 
most interesting and curious one was a young woman 
evidently of good mercantile position, who came into 
the carriage with her brother out of one of the manu- 
facturing districts. Both of them gave me the idea of 
being amiable in disposition, and fairly clever, perhaps 
a little above the average in natural talent ; while the 
sister had good features, and was not much over 
thirty. But the face was fixed in an iron hardness, 
and keenly active incapacity of any deep feeling or 
subtle thought, which pained me almost as much as 
a physical disease would have done ; and it was an 
extreme relief to me when she left the carriage. Another 
type, pure cockney, got in one day at Paddington, a 
girl of the lower middle class, round-headed, and with 
the most profound and sullen expression of discontent, 
complicated with ill-temper, that I ever saw on human 
features : — I could not at first be certain how far this 
expression was innate, and how far superinduced ; but 
she presently answered the question by tearing open 
the paper she had bought with the edge of her hand 
into jags half an inch deep, all the way across. 



1 82 Fors Clavigera. 

The third, a far more common type, was of self- 
possessed and all-engrossing selfishness, complicated with 
stupidity ; — a middle-aged woman with a novel, who 
put up her window and pulled down both blinds (side 
and central) the moment she got in, and read her novel 
till she fell asleep over it : presenting in that condi- 
tion one of the most stolidly disagreeable countenances 
which could be shaped out of organic clay. 

In both these latter cases, as in those of the girls 
described in Fors II., p. 146, the offensiveness of feature 
implied, for one thing, a constant vexation, and diffused 
agony or misery, endured through every moment of 
conscious life, together with total dulness of sensation 
respecting delightful and beautiful things, summed in 
the passage just referred to as "tortured indolence, 
and infidel eyes," and given there as an example of 
" life negative, under the curse," the state of condem- 
nation which begins in this world, and separately 
affects every living member of the body ; the opposite 
state of life, under blessing, being represented by the 
Venice-imagined beauty of St. Ursula, in whose counte- 
nance what beauty there may be found (I have known 
several people who saw none, and indeed Carpaccio has 
gifted her with no dazzling comeliness) depends mainly 
on the opposite character of diffused joy, and ecstasy 
in peace. 

And in places far too many to indicate, both of Fors 
and my Oxford lectures, I have spoken again and again 



Fors Clavigera. 183 

of this radiant expression of cheerfulness, as a primal 
element of Beauty, quoting Chaucer largely on the 
matter ; and clinching all, somewhere, (I can't look for 
the place now,) by saying that the wickedness of any 
nation might be briefly measured by observing how far 
it had made its girls miserable. 

I meant this quality of cheerfulness to be included 
above, in the word "well-bred," meaning original purity 
of race (Chaucer's " debonnairete") disciplined in courtesy, 
and the exercises which develop animal power and 
spirit. I do not in the least mean to limit the word 
to aristocratic birth and education. Gotthelf's Swiss 
heroine, Freneli, to whom I have dedicated, in Proser- 
pina, the pansy of the Wengern Alp, is only a farm- 
servant ; and Scott's Jeanie Deans is of the same type 
in Scotland. And among virtuous nations, or the 
portions of them who remain virtuous, as the Tyrolese 
and Bavarian peasants, the Tuscans (of whom I am 
happily enabled to give soon some true biography and 
portraiture), and the mountain and sea-shore races of 
France, England, Scotland, and Ireland, almost every- 
body is " well-bred," and the girlish beauty universal. 
Here in Coniston it is almost impossible to meet a child 
whom it is not a real sorrow again to lose sight of. So 
that the second article of St. George's creed, " I believe 
in the nobleness of human nature," may properly be 
considered as involving the farther though minor belief 
in the loveliness of the human* form ; and in my next 



184 Fors Clavigera. 

course of work at Oxford, I shall have occasion to insist 
at some length on the reality and frequency of beauty 
in ordinary life, as it has been shown us by the popular 
art of our own day. This frequency of it, however, 
supposing we admit the fact, in no wise diminishes the 
burden to be sustained by girls who are conscious of 
possessing less than these ordinary claims to admira- 
tion ; nor am I in the least minded to recommend the 
redemption of their loneliness by any more than common 
effort to be good or wise. On the contrary, the prettier 
a girl is, the more it becomes her duty to try to be 
good ; and little can be hoped of attempts to cultivate 
the understanding, which have only been provoked by 
a jealous vanity. The real and effective sources of 
consolation will be found in the quite opposite direction, 
of self-forgetfulness ; — in the cultivation of sympathy 
with others, and in turning the attention and the heart 
to the daily pleasures open to every young creature born t 
into this marvellous universe. The landscape of the 
lover's journey may indeed be invested with aetherial 
colours, and his steps be measured to heavenly tunes 
unheard of other ears ; but there is no sense, because 
these selfish and temporary raptures are denied to us, 
in refusing to see the sunshine on the river, or hear 
the lark's song in the sky. To some of my young 
readers, the saying may seem a hard one ; but they may 
rest assured that the safest and purest joys of human 
life rebuke the violence of its passions ; that they are 



Fors Clavigera. 185 

obtainable without anxiety, and memorable without 
regret. 

Having, therefore, this faith, or more justly speaking, 
this experience and certainty, touching the frequency 
of pleasing feature in well bred and modest girls, I did 
not use the phrase in last Fors, which gave (as I hear) 
great offence to some feminine readers, " a girl worth 
anything," exclusively, or even chiefly, with respect to 
attractions of person ; but very deeply and solemnly in 
the full sense of worthiness, or (regarding the range of 
its influence) All-worthiness, which qualifies a girl to be 
the ruling Sophia of an all-worthy workman, yeoman, 
squire, duke, king, or Caliph ; — not to calculate the 
advance which, doubtless, the luxury of Mayfair and 
the learning of Girton must have made since the days 
when it was written of Koot el Kuloob, or Enees-el 
Jelees, that " the sum of ten thousand pieces of gold 
doth not equal the cost of the chickens which she hath 
eaten, and the dresses which she hath bestowed on her 
teachers ; for she hath learned writing, and grammar, 
and lexicology, and the interpretation of the Koran, 
and the fundamentals of law, and religion, and medicine, 
and the computation of the Calendar, and the art of 
playing upon musical instruments," * — not calculating, I 
say, any of these singular powers or preciousnesses, 
but only thinking of the constant value generalized 
among the King's verses, by that notable one, " Every 

* ' Arabian Nights,' Lane's translation, i. 392. 



1 86 Fors Clavigera. 

wise woman buildeth her house ; but the foolish plucketh 
it down with her hands," — and seeing that our present 
modes of thought and elements of education are not 
always so arranged as to foster to their utmost the graces 
of prudence and economy in woman, it was surely no 
over-estimate of the desirableness of any real house- 
builder among girls, that she should have five or six 
suitors at once under vow for her ? Vow,, surely also 
of no oppressive or extravagant nature ! I said nothing 
of such an one as was required by Portia's father of her 
suitors, and which many a lover instinctively makes, in 
his own bosom, — " her, or none." I said nothing of any 
oath of allegiance preventing the freedom of farther 
search or choice ; — but only the promise of the youth 
that, until he saw one better worth winning, he would 
faithfully obey his chosen mistress's will in all things ; 
and suffer such test as she chose to put him to : it 
being understood that at any time he had the power 
as openly to withdraw as he had openly accepted the 
candidature. 

The position of Waverley towards Flora Maclvor, 
of Lord Evandale to Miss Bellenden, of Lovel to Miss 
Wardour, Tressilian to Amy Robsart, or Quentin Durward 
to the Countess Isabel, are all in various ways illustrative 
of this form of fidelity in more or less hopeless endeavour : 
while also the frankness of confession is assumed both 
by Miss Edgeworth and Richardson, as by Shakespeare, 
quite to the point of entire publicity in the social circle 



Fors Clavigera. 187 

of the lovers.* And I am grieved to say that the casual 
observations which have come to my ears, since last Fors 
appeared, as to the absurdity and impossibility of such 
devotion, only further prove to me what I have long 
since perceived, that very few young people, brought up 
on modern principles, have ever felt love, or even know 
what it means, except under the conditions in which 
it is also possible to the lower animals. I could easily 
prove this, if it were apposite to my immediate purpose, 
and if the subject were not too painful, by the evidence 
given me in a single evening, during which I watched 
the enthusiastic acceptance by an English audience of 
Salvini's frightful, and radically false, interpretation of 
Othello. 

Were I to yield, as I was wont in the first series 
of these letters, without scruple, to the eddies of thought 
which turned the main stream of my discourse into 
apparently irrelevant, and certainly unprogressive inlets, 
I should in this place proceed to show how true-love 
is inconsistent with railways, with joint-stock banks, with 
the landed interest, with parliamentary interest, with 
grouse shooting, with lawn tennis, with monthly maga- 
zines, spring fashions, and Christmas cards. But I am 
resolute now to explain myself in one place before 
becoming enigmatic in another, and keep to my one point 

* See the decision of Miss Broadhurst in the thirteenth chapter of the 
" Absentee " ; and the courtships to Harriet Byron, passim. The relations 
of France to Cordelia, of Henry V. to the Princess Katharine, and of the 
Duke to Olivia, are enough to name among the many instances in Shakespeare. 



1 88 Fors C/avigera. 

until I have more or less collected what has been said 
about it in former letters. And thus continuing to insist 
at present only on the worth or price of womanhood itself, 
and of the value of feminine creatures in the economy 
of a state, I must ask the reader to look back to Fors I. 
(Letter IV., p. 12), where I lament my own poverty in 
not being able to buy a white girl of (in jeweller's 
language) good lustre and facetting ; as in another 
place I in like manner bewail the present order of 
society in that I cannot make a raid on my neigh- 
bour's house, and carry off three graceful captives at 
a time ; and in one of the quite most important pieces 
of all the book, or of any of my books, the essential 
nature of real property in general is illustrated by 
that of the two primary articles of a man's wealth, 
Wife, and Home ; and the meaning of the word " mine," 
said to be only known in its depth by any man with 
reference to the first. And here, for further, and in 
its sufficiency I hope it may be received as a final, 
illustration, read the last lines (for I suppose the ter- 
minal lines can only be received as epilogue) of the 
play by which, in all the compass of literature, the 
beauty of pure youth has been chiefly honoured ; there 
are points in it deserving notice besides the one needful 
to my purpose : — 

Prince. " Where be these enemies ? Capulet ! Montague ! 
See what a scourge is laid upon your hate, 



Fors Clavigera. 189 

That Heaven finds means to kill your joys 

with love ! 
And I, for winking at your discords too, 
Have lost a brace of kinsmen : — all are 
punish'd." 
Cap. " brother Montague, give me thy hand : 

This is my daughter's jointure, for no more 
Can I demand." 
Mont. " But I can give thee more : 

For I will raise her statue in pure gold ; 
That while Verona by that name is known, 
There shall no figure at such rate be set, 
As that of true and faithful Juliet." 
Cap. " As rich shall Romeo by his lady lie ; 
Poor sacrifices of our enmity." 
I do not know if in the tumultuous renderings and 
reckless abridgements of this play on the modern stage, 
the audience at any theatre is ever led to think of 
the meaning of the Prince's saying, " That Heaven finds 
means to kill your joys with love!' Yet in that one 
line is the key of Christian theology and of wise natural 
philosophy ; the knowledge of the law that binds the 
yoke of inauspicious stars, and ordains the slumber of 
world-wearied flesh. 

Look back to Friar Laurence's rebuke of the parent's 
grief at Juliet's death, — 

" Heaven and yourself 
Had part in this fair maid ; now Heaven hath all " ; 



I go Fors Clavigera. 

and you will find, in the concluding lines, not only the 
interpretation of the Prince's meaning, but a clear 
light thrown on a question lately, in some one of our 
critical magazines, more pertinently asked than intelli- 
gently answered — " Why Shakespeare wrote tragedies ? " 
One of my chief reasons for withdrawing from the later 
edition of " Sesame and Lilies " the closing lecture, on 
the " Mystery of Life," was the feeling that I had not 
with enough care examined the spirit of faith in God, 
and hope in Futurity, which, though unexpressed, were 
meant by the master of tragedy to be felt by the 
spectator, what they were to himself, the solution and 
consolation of all the wonderfulness of sorrow ; — a faith 
for the most part, as I have just said, unexpressed ; but 
here summed in a single line, which explains the in- 
stinctive fastening of the heart on the great poetic stories 
of grief, — 

11 For Nature's tears are Reason's merriment." 

Returning to the terminal passage of the play, may 
I now ask the reader to meditate on the alchemy of 
fate, which changes the youth and girl into two golden 
statues ? Admit the gain in its completeness ; suppose 
that the gold had indeed been given down, like Danae's 
from heaven, in exchange for them ; imagine, if you will, 
the perfectest art-skill of Bezaleel or Aholiab lavished 
on the imperishable treasures. Verona is richer, is she, 
by so much bullion ? Italy, by so much art ? Old 






Fors Clavigera. 191 

Montague and Capulet have their boy's and girl's " worth " 
in gold, have they ? And though for every boy and 
girl whom now you exile from the gold of English 
harvest and the ruby of Scottish heath, there return 
to you, O loving friends, their corpses' weight, and more, 
in Californian sand, — is your bargain with God's bounty 
wholly to your mind ? or if so, think you that it is to 
His, also ? 

Yet I will not enter here into any debate of loss by 
exile, and national ostracism of our strongest. I keep 
to the estimate only of our loss by helpless, reckless, 
needless death, the enduring torture at the bolted theatre 
door of the world, and on the staircase it has smoothed 
to Avernus. 

' Loss of life ' ! By the ship overwhelmed in the river, 
shattered on the sea ; by the mine's blast, the earth- 
quake's burial — you mourn for the multitude slain. You 
cheer the lifeboat's crew : you hear, with praise and joy, 
of the rescue of one still breathing body more at the 
pit's mouth : — and all the while, for one soul that is saved 
from the momentary passing away (according to your 
creed, to be with its God), the lost souls, yet locked in 
their polluted flesh, haunt, with worse than ghosts, the 
shadows of your churches, and the corners of your streets ; 
and your weary children watch, with no memory of 
Jerusalem, and no hope of return from their captivity, the 
weltering to the sea of your Waters of Babylon. 



FORS CLAVIGERA 






LETTER THE 92nd. 

ASHESTIEL. 

Abbotsford, September 26th, 1883. 

I CAN never hear the whispering and sighing of the 
Tweed among his pebbles, but it brings back to 
me the song of my nurse, as we used to cross by 
Coldstream Bridge, from the south, in our happy days. 

" For Scotland, my darling, lies full in my view, 
With her barefooted lassies, and mountains so blue." 

Those two possessions, you perceive, my poor Euryclea 
felt to be the chief wealth of Scotland, and meant the 
epithet ' barefooted ' to be one of praise. 
• In the two days that have past since I this time 
crossed the Border, I have seen but one barefooted lassie, 
and she not willingly so,^but many high-heeled ones : — 
who willingly, if they might, would have been heeled 
yet higher. And perhaps few, even of better minded 
Scots maidens, remember, with any due admiration, that 

2ND SERIES.] I 9 



194 Fors Clavigera. 

the greater part of Jeanie Deans' walk to London was 
done barefoot, the days of such pilgrimage being now, 
in the hope of Scotland, for ever past ; and she, by help 
of the high chimneys built beside Holyrood and Melrose, 
will henceforward obtain the beatitude of Antichrist, — 
Blessed be ye Rich. 

Nevertheless, it is worthy of note that in the village 
where Bruce's heart is buried, I could yesterday find no 
better map of Scotland than was purchaseable for a 
penny, — no clear sign, to my mind, either of the country's 
vaster wealth, or more refined education. Still less that 
the spot of earth under which the king's heart lies 
should be indicated to the curious observer by a small 
white ticket, pegged into the grass ; which might at first 
sight seem meant to mark the price of that piece of 
goods ; and indeed, if one meditates a little on the 
matter, verily does so ; this piece of pasteboard being 
nothing less than King Robert Bruce's monument and 
epitaph ; and the devotional offering of Scotland in the 
nineteenth century, at his shrine. Economical, even in 
pasteboard, as compared with the lavish expenditure of 
that material by which the ' Scots wha hae,' etc., receive 
on all their paths of pilgrimage the recommendation of 
Colman's mustard. 

So much, looking out on the hillside which Scott 
planted in his pride, and the garden he enclosed in the 
joy of his heart, I perceive to be the present outcome 
of his work in literature. Two small white tickets — one 






Fors Clavigera. 195 



for the Bruce, the other for Michael Scott : manifold 
acreage of yellow tickets — for Colman's mustard. Thus 
may we measure the thirst for knowledge excited by 
modern Scottish religion, and satisfied by modern 
Scottish education. 



Whithorn, October yd, 1883. 

As the sum of Sir Walter's work at Melrose, so here 
the sum of St. Ninian's at Candida Casa, may be set 
down in few and sorrowful words. I notice that 
the children of the race who now for fifteen hundred 
years have been taught in this place the word of Christ, 
are divided broadly into two classes : one very bright 
and trim, strongly and sensibly shod and dressed, satchel 
on shoulder, and going to or from school by railroad ; 
walking away, after being deposited at the small stations, 
in a brisk and independent manner. But up and down 
the earthy broadway between the desolate-looking houses 

» which form the main street of Whithorn, as also in the 
space of open ground which borders the great weir and 
rapid of the Nith at Dumfries, I saw wistfully errant 
groups of altogether neglected children, barefoot enough, 
tattered in frock, begrimed in face, their pretty long 
hair wildly tangled or ruggedly matted, and the total 
bodies and spirits of them springing there by the 
wayside like its thistles, — -with such care as Heaven 
gives to the herbs of the field, — and Heaven's Adversary 
to the seed on the Rock. 



196 Fors Clavigera. 

They are many of them Irish, the Pastor of Whithorn 
tells me, — the parents too poor to keep a priest, one 
coming over from Wigton sometimes for what minis- 
tration may be imperative. This the ending of St. 
Ninian's prayer and fast in his dark sandstone cave, 
filled with the hollow roar of Solway, — now that fifteen 
hundred years of Gospel times have come and gone. 

This the end : but of what is it to be the beginning ? 
■of what new Kingdom of Heaven are these children 
the nascent citizens ? To what Christ are these to be 
allowed to come for benediction, unforbidden ? 

Brantwood, October 10th, 1883. 

The above two entries are all I could get written of 
things felt and seen during ten days in Scott's country, 
and St. Ninian's ; somewhat more I must set down 
before the impression fades. Not irrelevantly, for it is 
my instant object in these resumed letters to index and 
enforce what I have said hitherto on early education; and 
while, of all countries, Scotland is that which presents 
the main questions relating to it in the clearest form, 
my personal knowledge and feelings enable me to arrange 
aught I have yet to say more easily with reference to 
the Scottish character than any other. Its analysis 
will enable me also to point out some specialties in 
the genius of Sir Walter, Burns, and Carlyle, which 
English readers cannot usually discern for themselves. 
I went into the border country, just now, chiefly to see 



Fors Clavigcra. 197 

the house of Ashestiel : and this morning have re-read, 
with better insight, the chapter of Lockhart's Life which 
gives account of the sheriff's settlement there ; in which 
chapter there is incidental notice of Mungo Park's last 
days in Scotland, to which I first pray my readers' close 
attention. 

Mungo had been born in a cottage at Fowlsheils on the 
Yarrow, nearly opposite Newark Castle. He returns after 
his first African journey to his native cottage, where Scott 
visits him, and finds him on the banks of Yarrow, which 
in that place passes over ledges of rock, forming deep 
pools between them. Mungo is casting stone after stone 
into the pools, measuring their depths by the time the 
bubbles take to rise, and thinking (as he presently tells 
Scott) of the way he used to sound the turbid African 
rivers. Meditating, his friend afterwards perceives, on 
further travel in the distant land. 

With what motive, it is important for us to know. As 
a discoverer — as a missionary — or to escape from ennui ? 
He is at that time practising as a physician among his 
own people. A more sacred calling cannot be ; — by 
faithful missionary service more good could be done 
among fair Scotch laddies in a day, than among black 
Hamites in a lifetime ; — of discovery, precious to all 
humanity, more might be made among the woods and 
rocks of Ettrick than in the thousand leagues of desert 
between Atlas and red Edom, Why will he again leave 
his native stream ? 



198 Fors Clavigera. 

It is clearly not mere baseness of petty vanity that 
moves him. There is no boastfulness in the man. " On 
one occasion," says Scott, " the traveller communicated 
to him some very remarkable adventures which had 
befallen him in Africa, but which he had not recorded 
in his book." On Scott's asking the cause of this silence, 
Mungo answered that " in all cases where he had informa- 
tion to communicate, which he thought of importance 
to the public, he had stated the facts boldly, leaving it 
to his readers to give such credit to his statements as 
they might appear justly to deserve ; but that he would 
not shock their faith, or render his travels more mar- 
vellous, by introducing circumstances which, however true, 
were of little or no moment, as they related solely to his 
own personal adventures and escapes." 

Clearly it is not vanity, of Alpine-club kind, that the 
Old Serpent is tempting this man with. But what then ? 
" His thoughts had always continued to be haunted with 
Africa." He told Scott that whenever he awoke suddenly 
in the night, he fancied himself still a prisoner in the 
tent of AH ; but when Scott expressed surprise that he 
should intend again to re-visit those scenes, he answered 
that he would rather brave Africa and all its horrors, 
than " wear out his life in long and toilsome rides over 
the hills of Scotland, for which the remuneration was 
hardly enough to keep soul and body together!' 

I have italicized the whole sentence, for it is a terrific 
one. It signifies, if you look into it, almost total absence 






Fors Clavigera. 199 

of the instinct of personal duty, — total absence of belief 
in the God who chose for him his cottage birthplace, 
and set him his life-task beside it ; — absolute want of 
interest in his profession, of sense for natural beauty, 
and of compassion for the noblest poor of his native 
land. And, with these absences, there is the clear pre- 
sence of the fatallest of the vices, Avarice, — in the exact 
form in which it was the ruin of Scott himself, — the 
love of money for the sake of worldly position. 

I have purposely placed the instinct for natural beauty, 
and compassion for the poor, in the same breath of 
the sentence ; — their relation, as I hope hereafter to show, 
is constant. And the total want of compassion, in its 
primary root of sympathy, is shown in its naked fear- 
someness in the next sentence of the tale. 

" Towards the end of the autumn, Park paid Scott 
a farewell visit, and slept at Ashestiel. Next morning 
his host accompanied him homewards over the wild 
chain of hills between the Tweed and the Yarrow. 
Park talked much of his new scheme, and mentioned 
his determination to tell his family that he had some 
business for a day or two in Edinburgh, and send them 
his blessing from thence without returning to take leave!' 
He had married not long before a pretty and amiable 
woman ; and when they reached the Williamhope Ridge, 
" the autumnal mist floating heavily and slowly down 
the valley of the Yarrow" presented to Scott's imagi- 
nation " a striking emblem of the troubled and uncertain 



200 Fors Clavigera. 

prospect which his undertaking afforded." He remained 
however unshaken, and at length they reached the spot 
where they had agreed to separate. A small ditch 
divided the moor from the road, and in going over it, 
Park's horse stumbled and nearly fell. 

" I am afraid, Mungo," said the sheriff, " that is a 
bad omen." To which he answered, smiling, " Freits 
(omens) follow those who look to them." With this 
expression Mungo struck the spurs into his horse, and 
Scott never saw him again. 

" Freits follow those who look to them." Words abso- 
lutely true, (with their converse, that they cease to follow 
those who do not look to them :) of which truth I will 
ask the consenting reader to consider a little while. 

He may perhaps think Mungo utters it in all wisdom, 
as already passing from the darkness and captivity of 
superstition into the marvellous light of secure Science 
and liberty of Thought. A wiser man, are we to hold 
Mungo, than W r alter, — then ? and wiser — how much 
more, than his forefathers ? 

I do not know on what authority Lockhart interprets 
" freit," as only meaning ' omen.' In the Douglas glossary 
it means ' aid,' \ or protection ' ; it is the word used by 
Jove, declaring that he will not give ' freit ' from heaven 
either to Trojan or Rutulian ; and I believe it always 
to have the sense of serviceable warning — protective, if 
watched and obeyed. I am not here concerned with 
the question how far such guidance has been, or is still, 



Fors Clavigera. 20 \ 

given to those who look for it ; but I wish the reader 
to note that the form of Celtic intellect which rejected 
the ancient faith . was certainly not a higher one than 
that which received it. And this I shall best show by 
taking the wider ground of enquiry, how far Scott's own 
intellect was capable of such belief, — and whether in its 
strength or weakness. 

In the analysis of his work, given in the ' Nineteenth 
Century ' in ' Fiction, Fair and Foul,' I have accepted 
twelve novels as characteristic and essentially good, — 
naming them in the order of their production. These 
twelve were all written in twelve years, before he had 
been attacked by any illness ; and of these, the first 
five exhibit the natural progress of his judgment and 
faith, in the prime years of his life, between the ages 
of forty-three and forty- eight. 

In the first of them, \ Waverley,' the supernatural ele- 
ment is admitted with absolute frankness and simplicity, 
the death of Colonel Gardiner being foretold by the, 
at that time well attested, faculty of second sight, — and 
both the captivity and death of Fergus Mclvor by the 
personal phantom, hostile and fatal to his house. 

In the second, ' Guy Mannering,' the supernatural warn- 
ing is not allowed to reach the point of actual vision. 
It is given by the stars, and by the strains in the thread 
spun at the child's birth by his gipsy guardian. 

In the third, 'The Antiquary,' the supernatural influence 
reduces itself merely to a feverish dream, and to the 



202 Fors Clavigera. 

terror of the last words of Elspeth of the Craigburn- 
foot : " I'm coming, my leddy — the staircase is as mirk 
as a Yule midnight." 

In the fourth, 'Old Mortality/ while Scott's utmost 
force is given to exhibit the self-deception of religious 
pride, imagining itself inspired of heaven, the idea of 
prophetic warning is admitted as a vague possibility, 
with little more of purpose than to exalt the fortitude 
of Claverhouse ; and in the two last stories of his great 
time, 'Rob Roy,' and 'The Heart of Midlothian,' all sug- 
gestion whatever of the interference of any lower power 
than that of the Deity in the order of this world has been 
refused, and the circumstances of the tales are confined 
within the limits of absolute and known truth. 

I am in the habit of placing 'The Heart of Midlothian' 
highest of all his works, because in this element of 
intellectual truth, it is the strictest and richest ; — because, 
being thus rigid, in truth, it is also the most exalted 
in its conception of human character; — and lastly, because 
it is the clearest in acknowledgment of the overruling 
justice of God, even to the uttermost, visiting the sin 
of the fathers upon the children, and purifying the 
forgiven spirit without the remission of its punish- 
ment. 

In the recognition of these sacred laws of life it stands 
alone among Scott's works, and may justly be called the 
greatest : yet the stern advance in moral purpose which 
it indicates is the natural consequence of the discipline 



Fors Clavigera. 203 

of age — not the sign of increased mental faculty. The 
entire range of faculty, imaginative and analytic together, 
is unquestionably the highest when the sense of the 
supernatural is most distinct, — Scott is all himself only 
in ■ Wavcrley ' and the * Lay.' 

No line of modern poetry has been oftener quoted 
with thoughtless acceptance than Wordsworth's : 

11 Heaven lies about us in our infancy." 

It is wholly untrue in the implied limitation ; if life be 
led under heaven's law, the sense of heaven's nearness 
only deepens with advancing years, and is assured in 
death. But the saying is indeed true thus far, that in 
the dawn of virtuous life every enthusiasm and every 
perception may be trusted as of divine appointment ; and 
the maxima reverentia is due not only to the innocence 
of children, but to their inspiration. 

And it follows that through the ordinary course of 
mortal failure and misfortune, in the career of nations no 
less than of men, the error of their intellect, and the 
hardening of their hearts, may be accurately measured 
by their denial of spiritual power. 

In the life of Scott, beyond comparison the greatest 
intellectual force manifested in Europe since Shakespeare, 
the lesson is given us with a clearness as sharp as the 
incision on a Greek vase. The very first mental effort 
for which he obtained praise was the passionate recitation 
of the passage in the ' Eneid,' in which the ghost of 



204 Fors Clavigera. 

Hector appears to Eneas. And the deadliest sign of 
his own approaching death is in the form of incredulity 
which dictated to his weary hand the • Letters on 
Demonology and Witchcraft.' 

Here, for the present, I must leave the subject to 
your own thought,— only desiring you to notice, for 
general guidance, the gradations of impression on the 
feelings of men of strong and well-rounded intellect, by 
which fancy rises towards faith. 

The lowest stage is that of wilfully grotesque fancy, 
which is recognized as false, yet dwelt upon with delight 
and finished with accuracy, as the symbol or parable 
of what is true. 

Shakespeare's Puck, and the Dwarf Goblin of the 'Lay/ 
are precisely alike in this first level of the imagination. 
Shakespeare does not believe in Bottom's translation ; 
neither does Scott that, when the boy Buccleugh passes 
the drawbridge with the dwarf, the sentinel only saw 
a terrier and lurcher passing out. Yet both of them 
permit the fallacy, because they acknowledge the Elfin 
power in nature, to make things, sometimes for good, 
sometimes for harm, seem what they are not. Nearly 
all the grotesque sculpture of the great ages, beginning 
with the Greek Chimsera, has this nascent form of Faith 
for its impulse. 

II. The ghosts and witches of Shakespeare, and the 
Bodach Glas and White Lady of Scott, are expressions 
of real belief, more or less hesitating and obscure. 



Fors Clavigera. 205 

Scott's worldliness too early makes him deny his convic- 
tions, and in the end effaces them. But Shakespeare 
remains sincerely honest in his assertion of the un- 
comprehended spiritual presence ; with this further subtle 
expression of his knowledge of mankind, that he never 
permits a spirit to show itself but to men of the highest 
intellectual power. To Hamlet, to Brutus, to Macbeth, 
to Richard III. ; but the royal Dane does not haunt his 
own murderer, — neither does Arthur, King John ; neither 
Norfolk, King Richard II. ; nor Tybalt, Romeo. 

III. The faith of Horace in the spirit of the fountain 
of Brundusium, in the Faun of his hillside, and in the 
help of the greater gods, is constant, vital, and practical ; 
yet in some degree still tractable by his imagination, 
as also that of the great poets and painters of Christian 
times. In Milton, the tractability is singular ; he hews 
his gods out to his own fancy, and then believes in 
them ; but in Giotto and Dante the art is always sub- 
jected to the true vision. 

IV. The faith of the saints and prophets, rising into 
serenity of knowledge, " I know that my Redeemer 
liveth," is a state of mind of which ordinary men 
cannot reason ; but which in the practical power of 
it, has always governed the world, and must for ever. 
No dynamite will ever be invented that can rule ; — it 
can but dissolve and destroy. Only the Word of God 
and the heart of man can govern. 

I have been led far, but to the saving of future time, 



2o6 Fors Clavigera. 

by the examination of the difference in believing power 
between the mind of Scott and his unhappy friend. I 
now take up my immediate subject of enquiry, the effect 
upon Scott's own mind of the natural scenery of the 
native land he loved so dearly. His life, let me first 
point out to you, was in all the joyful strength of it, 
spent in the valley of the Tweed. Edinburgh was his 
school, and his office ; but his home was always by 
Tweedside : and more perfectly so, because in three 
several places during the three clauses of life. You 
must remember also the cottage at Lasswade for the 
first years of marriage, and Sandy Knowe for his child- 
hood ; but, allowing to Smailholm Tower and Roslin 
Glen whatever collateral influence they may rightly claim 
over the babe and the bridegroom, the constant influences 
of home remain divided strictly into the three seras at 
Rosebank, Ashestiel, and Abbotsford. 

Rosebank, on the lower Tweed, gave him his close 
knowledge of the district of Flodden Field : and his store 
of foot-traveller's interest in every glen of Ettrick, Yarrow, 
and Liddel-water. 

The vast tract of country to which these streams 
owe their power is composed of a finely-grained dark 
and hard sandstone, whose steep beds are uniformly 
and simultaneously raised into masses of upland, which 
nowhere present any rugged or broken masses of crag, 
like those of our Cumberland mountains, and are rarely 
steep enough anywhere to break the grass by weathering ; 






Fors Clavigera. 207 

a moderate shaly — or, rather, gritty — slope of two or 
three hundred feet opposite Ashestiel itself, being notice- 
able enough, among the rounded monotony of general 
form, to receive the separate name of " the Slidders." 
Towards the bottom of a dingle, here and there, a few 
feet of broken bank may show what the hills consist 
of; but the great waves of them rise against the horizon 
without a single peak, crest, or cleft to distinguish one 
from another, though in their true scale of mountain 
strength heaved into heights of 1,500 or 2,000 feet ; and 
covering areas of three or four square leagues for each 
of the surges. The dark rock weathers easily into surface 
soil, which forms for the greater part good pasture, with 
interspersed patches of heath or peat, and, Liddesdale- 
way, rushy and sedgy moorland, good for little to man 
or beast. 

Much rain falls over the whole district ; but, for a 
great part of its falling time, in the softly-diffused form 
of Scotch mist, absorbed invisibly by the grass soil ' r 
while even the heavier rain, having to deal with broad 
surfaces of serenely set rock, and finding no ravines in 
which it can concentrate force, nor any loose lighter soil 
to undermine, threads its way down to the greater glens 
in gradual and deliberate influence, nobody can well see 
how : there are no Lodores nor Bruar waters, still less 
Staubbachs or Giesbachs ; unnoticed, by million upon 
million of feebly glistening streamlets, or stealthy and 
obscure springs, the cloudy dew descends towards the 



208 



Fors Clavigera. 



river, and the mysterious strength of its stately water 
rises or declines indeed, as the storm impends or passes 
away ; yet flows for ever with a serenity of power 
unknown to the shores of all other mountain lands. 

And the more wonderful, because the uniformity of 
the hill-substance renders the slope of the river as steady 
as its supply. In all other mountain channels known to 
me, the course of the current is here open, and there 
narrow — sometimes pausing in extents of marsh cord 
lake, sometimes furious in rapids, precipitate in cataracts, 
or lost in subterranean caves. But the classic Scottish 
streams have had their beds laid for them, ages and 
ages ago, in vast accumulations of rolled shingle, which, 
occupying the floor of the valleys from side to side 
in apparent level, yet subdue themselves with a steady 
fall towards the sea. 

As I drove from Abbotsford to Ashestiel, Tweed and 
Ettrick were both in flood ; not dun nor wrathful, but in 
the clear fulness of their perfect strength : and from the 
bridge of Ettrick I saw the two streams join, and the 
Tweed for miles down the vale, and the Ettrick for 
miles up among his hills, — each of them, in the multi- 
tude of their windless waves, a march of infinite light, 
dazzling, — interminable, — intervaled indeed with eddies of 
shadow, but, for the most part, gliding paths of sunshine, 
far-swept beside the green glow of their level inches, 
the blessing of them, and the guard : — the stately moving 
of the many waters, more peaceful than their calm, only 



Fors Clavigera. 209 

mighty, their rippled spaces fixed like orient clouds, their 
pools of pausing current binding the silver edges with 
a gloom of amber and gold ; and all along their shore, 
beyond the sward, and the murmurous shingle, processions 
of dark forest, in strange majesty of sweet order, and 
unwounded grace of glorious age. 

The house of Ashestiel itself is only three or four 
miles above this junction of Tweed and Ettrick.* It 
has been sorrowfully changed since Sir Walter's death, 
but the essential make and set of the former building 
can still be traced. There is more excuse for Scott's 
flitting to Abbotsford than I had guessed, for this 
house stands, conscious of the river rather than com- 
manding it, on a brow of meadowy bank, falling so 
steeply to the water that nothing can be seen of it 
from the windows. Beyond, the pasture-land rises steep 
three or four hundred feet against the northern sky, 
while behind the house, south and east, the moorlands 
lift themselves in gradual distance to still greater 
height, so that virtually neither sunrise nor sunset can 
be seen from the deep-nested dwelling. A tricklet of 
stream wavers to and fro down to it from the moor, 
through a grove of entirely natural wood, — oak, birch, 
and ash, fantastic and bewildering, but nowhere gloomy, 
or decayed, and carpeted with anemone. Between this 
wild avenue and the house, the old garden remains as 

* I owe to the courtesy of Dr. Matthews Duncan the privilege of quiet 
sight both of the house and its surroundings. 

2ND SERIES.] 20 



210 Fors Clavigera. 

it used to be, large, gracious, and tranquil ; its high 
walls swept round it in a curving line like a war 
rampart, following the ground ; the fruit-trees, trained 
a century since, now with grey trunks a foot wide, 
flattened to the wall like sheets of crag ; the strong 
bars of their living trellis charged, when I saw them, 
with clusters of green-gage, soft bloomed into gold 
and blue ; and of orange-pink magnum bonum, and 
crowds of ponderous pear, countless as leaves. Some 
open space of grass and path, now all redesigned for 
modern needs, must always have divided the garden 
from what was properly the front of the house, where 
the main entrance is now, between advanced wings, 
of which only the westward one is of Sir Walter's 
time : its ground floor being the drawing-room, with 
his own bedroom of equal size above, cheerful and 
luminous both, enfilading the house front with their 
large side windows, which commanded the sweep of 
Tweed down the valley, and some high masses of 
Ettrick Forest beyond, this view being now mostly 
shut off by the opposite wing, added for symmetry ! 
But Sir Walter saw it fair through the morning 
clouds when he rose, holding himself, nevertheless, 
altogether regardless of it, when once at work. At 
Ashestiel and Abbotsford alike, his work-room is strictly 
a writing-office, what windows they have being designed 
to admit the needful light, with an extremely narrow 
vista of the external world. Courtyard at Abbots- 



Fors Clavipera. 2 1 1 



■a 



A 



ford, and bank of young wood beyond : nothing at 
shestiel but the green turf of the opposite fells 
with the sun on it, if sun there were, and silvery 
specks of passing sheep. 

The room itself, Scott's true ' memorial ' if the 
Scotch people had heart enough to know him, or 
remember, is a small parlour on the ground-floor of 
the north side of the house, some twelve feet deep 
by eleven wide ; the single window little more than 
four feet square, or rather four feet cube, above the 
desk, which is set in the recess of the mossy wall, 
the light thus entering in front of the writer, and 
reflected a little from each side. This window is set 
to the left in the end wall, leaving a breadth of some 
five feet or a little more on the fireplace side, where 
now, brought here from Abbotsford, stands the garden 
chair of the last days. 

Contentedly, in such space and splendour of domicile, 
the three great poems were written, ' Waverley ' begun ; 
and all the make and tenure of his mind confirmed, as 
it was to 'remain, or revive, through after time of 
vanity, trouble, and decay. 

A small chamber, with a fair world outside : — such 
are the conditions, as far as I know or can gather, of 
all greatest and best mental work. At heart, the 
monastery cell always, changed sometimes, for special 
need, into the prison cell. But, as I meditate more 
and more closely what reply I may safely make to 



212 Fors Clavigera. 

the now eagerly pressed questioning of my faithful 
scholars, what books I would have them read, I find 
the first broadly-swept definition may be — Books 
written in the country. None worth spending time 
on, and few that are quite safe to touch, have been 
written in towns. 

And my next narrowing definition would be, Books 
that have good music in them, — that are rightly- 
rhythmic : a definition which includes the delicacy of 
perfect prose, such as Scott's ; and which deludes at 
once a great deal of modern poetry, in which a 
dislocated and convulsed versification has been imposed 
on the ear in the attempt to express uneven temper 
and unprincipled feeling. 

By unprincipled feeling, I mean whatever part of 
passion the writer does not clearly discern for right 
or wrong, and concerning which he betrays the reader's 
moral judgment into false sympathy or compassion. 
No really great writer ever does so : neither Scott, 
Burns, nor Byron ever waver for an instant, any more 
than Shakespeare himself, in their estimate of what is 
fit and honest, or harmful and base. Scott always 
punishes even error, how much more fault, to the 
uttermost ; nor does Byron, in his most defiant and 
mocking moods, ever utter a syllable that defames 
virtue or disguises sin. 

In looking back to my former statement in the 
third volume of ' Modern Painters,' of the influence of 



Fors Clavigera. 213 

natural scenery on these three men, I was unjust 
both to it and to them, in my fear of speaking too 
favourably of passions with which I had myself so 
strong personal sympathy. Recent Vandalism has 
taught me, too cruelly, and too late, the moral value 
of such scenes as those in which I was brought up ; 
and given it me, for my duty to the future to teach 
the Love of the fair Universe around us, as the 
beginning of Piety, and the end of Learning. 



The reader may be interested in comparing with 
the description in the text, Scott's first fragmentary 
stanzas relating to the sources of the Tweed. Lockhart, 
vol. i., p. 314. 

" Go sit old Cheviot's crest below, 
And pensive mark the lingering snow 

In all his scaurs abide, 
And slow dissolving from the hill 
In many a sightless soundless rill, 

Feed sparkling Bowmont's tide. 

" Fair shines the stream by bank and lea, 
As wimpling to the eastern sea 

She seeks Till's sullen bed, 
Indenting deep the fatal plain, 
Where Scotland's noblest, brave in vain, 
Around their monarch bled. 



214 Fors Clavigera. 

" And westward hills on hills you see, 
Even as old Ocean's mightiest sea 

Heaves high her waves of foam, 
Dark and snow-ridged from Cutsfeld's wold 
To the proud foot of Cheviot roll'd, 

Earth's mountain billows come." 



LETTER THE 93rd. 

INVOCATION. 

]\ /[ Y Christmas letter, which I have extreme satis- 
-*-*-*■ faction in trusting this little lady to present 
to you, comes first to wish the St. George's Company, 
and all honest men, as merry a Christmas as they 
can make up their minds to ; (though, under present 
circumstances, the merriment, it seems to me, should 
be temperate, and the feasting moderate,) — and in the 
second place, to assure the St. George's Company both 
of its own existence, and its Master's, which, without 

2ND SERIES.] 2 I 



216 Fors Clavigera. 

any extreme refinement of metaphysics, the said Com- 
pany might well begin to have some doubt of — seeing 
that there has been no report made of its business, 
nor record of its additional members, nor catalogue of 
its additional properties, given since the — I don't know 
what day of — I don't know what year. 

I am not going to ask pardon any more for these 
administrative defects, or mysterious silences, because, 
so far as they are results of my own carelessness or 
procrastination, they are unpardonable ; and so far as 
they might deserve indulgence if explained, it could 
only be justified by the details, otherwise useless, of 
difficulty or disappointment in which more than one 
of our members have had their share — and of which 
their explanations might sometimes take a different 
shape from mine. Several have left us, whose seces- 
sion grieved me ; one or two, with my full consent. 
Others, on the contrary, have been working with their 
whole hearts and minds, while the Master was too 
ill to take note of their labour : and, owing, I believe, 
chiefly to that unpraised zeal, but in a measure also 
to the wider reading and better understanding of 
' Fors ' itself, new members are rapidly joining us, 
and, I think, all are at present animated with better 
and more definite hope than heretofore. 

The accounts of the Company, — which, instead of 
encumbering ' Fors,' as they used to do, it seems to 
me now well to print in a separate form, to be pre- 



Fors Clavigera. 217 

tented to the Companions with the recommendation 
not to read it, but to be freely purchaseable by the 
public who may be curious in literature of that kind, 
— do not, in their present aspect, furnish a wide basis 
for the conSdence I have just stated to be increasing. 
But, in these days, that we are entirely solvent, and 
cannot be otherwise, since it is our principal law of 
business never to buy anything till we have got the 
money to pay for it, — that whatever we have bought, 
we keep, and don't try to make a bad bargain good 
by swindling anybody else, — that, at all events, a 
certain quantity of the things purchased on such terms 
are found to be extremely useful and agreeable 
possessions by a daily increasing number of students, 
readers, and spectators, at Sheffield and elsewhere, — 
and that we have at, this Christmas-time of 1883 
£4,000 and some odd hundreds of stock, with, besides 
the lands and tenements specified in my last report, 
conditional promise of a new and better site for 
the St. George's Museum at Sheffield, and of £5,000 
to begin the building thereof, — these various facts 
and considerations do, I think, sufficiently justify the 
Companions of St. George in sitting down peaceful- 
minded, so far as regards their business matters, to 
their Christmas cheer ; and perhaps also the Master in 
calling with confidence on all kind souls whom his 
words may reach, to augment the hitherto narrow 
fellowship. 

2ND SERIES.] 22 



218 Fors Clavigera. 

Of whose nature, I must try to sum in this ' Fors • 
what I have had often to repeat in private letters. 

First, that the St. George's Guild is not a merely 
sentimental association of persons who want sympathy 
in the general endeavour to do good. It is a body 
constituted for a special purpose : that of buying 
land, holding it inviolably, cultivating it properly, and 
bringing up on it as many honest people as it will 
feed. It means, therefore, the continual, however slow, 
accumulation of landed property, and the authoritative 
management of the same ; and every new member 
joining it shares all rights in that property, and has 
a vote for the re-election or deposition of its Master. 
Now, it would be entirely unjust to the Members who 
have contributed to the purchase of our lands, or of 
such funds and objects of value as we require for the 
support and education of the persons living on them, 
if the Master allowed the entrance of Members who 
would have equal control over the Society's property, 
without contributing to it. Nevertheless, I sometimes 
receive Companions whose temper and qualities I like, 
though they may be unable to help us with money, 
(otherwise it might be thought people had to pay for 
entrance,) but I can't see why there should not be 
plenty of people in England both able and willing to 
help us ; whom I once more very solemnly call upon 
to do so, as thereby exercising the quite healthiest 
and straightforwardest power of Charity. They can't 



Fors Clavigera. 219 

make the London or Paris landlords emancipate their 
poor, (even if it were according to sound law to 
make such an endeavour). But they can perfectly 
well become landlords themselves, and emancipate their 
oivn. 

And I beg the readers alike, and the despisers of 
my former pleadings in this matter, to observe that all 
the recent agitation of the public mind, concerning the 
dwellings of the poor, is merely the sudden and febrile, 
(Heaven be thanked, though, for such fever !) recognition 
of the things which I have been these twenty years 
trying to get recognized, and reiterating description 
and lamentation of — leven to the actual printing of my 
pages blood-red — to try if I could catch the eye at 
least, when I could not the ear or the heart. In my 
index, under the head of ' Misery,' I know not yet 
what accumulation of witness may be gathered, — but 
let the reader think, now, only what the single sentence 
meant which I quoted from the Evening news in the 
last ' Fors ' I wrote before my great illness (March, 
1878, p. 84), "The mother got impatient, thrust the 
child into the suow, and hurried on — not looking back." 
TJiere is a Christmas card, with a picture of English 
1 nativity ' for you — O suddenly awakened friends ! 
And again, take this picture of what Mr. Tenniel calls 
John Bull guarding his Pudding, authentic from the 
iron-works of Tredegar, 11th February, 1878 (p. 99): 
H For several months the average earnings have been 



220 Fors Clavigera. 

six shillings a week, and out of that they have to pay 
for coal y and house rent and other expenses, (the rent- 
collector never out of his work), leaving very little for 
food or clothing. In my district there are a hundred 
and thirty families in distress ; they have nothing but 
rags to cover them by day, and very little beside 
that wearing apparel to cover them on their beds at 
night, — they have sold or pawned their furniture, and 
everything for which they could obtain the smallest 
sum of money ; many of them are some days every 
week without anything to eat, — and with nothing but 
water to drink " — and that poisoned, probably. 

Was not this, the last message I was able to bring 
to John Bull concerning his Pudding, enough to make 
him think how he might guard it better ? But on first 
recovery of my power • of speech, was not the news I 
brought of the state of La Belle France worth her 
taking to thought also ? — " In a room two yards and 
a half broad by four yards and three-quarters long, a 
husband, wife, and four children, of whom two were 
dead two months afterwards, — of those left, the eldest 
daughter ' had still the strength to smile.' Hunger 
had reduced this child, who would have been beautiful, 
nearly to the state of a skeleton." ('Fors,' Letter IV. 
New Series, p. 1 1 8, and see the sequel.) 

And the double and treble horror of all this, note 
you well, is that, not only the tennis-playing and 
railroad-flying public trip round the outskirts of it, 



Fors Clavigera. 221 

and whirl over the roofs of it, — blind and deaf; but 
that the persons interested in the maintenance of it 
have now a whole embodied Devil's militia of base 
litterateurs in their bound service ; — the worst form of 
serfs that ever human souls sank into — partly conscious 
of their lying, partly, by dint of daily repetition, 
believing in their own babble, and totally occupied in 
every journal and penny magazine all over the world, 
in declaring this present state of the poor to be 
glorious and enviable, as compared with the poor that 
have been. In' which continual pother of parroquet lie, 
and desperately feigned defence of all things damnable, 
this nineteenth century stutters and shrieks alone 
in the story of mankind. Whatever men did before 
now, of fearful or fatal, they did openly. Attila does 
not say his horse-hoof is of velvet. Ezzelin deigns 
no disguise of his Paduan massacre. Prince Karl of 
Austria fires his red-hot balls in the top of daylight, 
"at stroke of noon, on the shingle roofs of the weavers 
of Zittau in dry July, ten thousand innocent souls 
shrieking in vain to Heaven and Earth, and before 
sunset Zittau is ashes and red-hot walls, — not Zittau, 
but a cinder-heap," * — but Prince Karl never says it 
was the best thing that could have been done for 
the weavers of Zittau, — and that all charitable men 
hereafter are to do the like for all weavers, if feasible. 
But your nineteenth century prince of shams and 

* Friedrich, v. 124. 



222 Fors Clavigera. 

shambles, sells for his own behoof the blood and ashes, 
preaches, with his steam-throat, the gospel of gain from 
ruin, as the only true and only Divine, and fills at the 
same instant the air with his darkness, the earth with 
his cruelty, the waters with his filth, and the hearts 
of men with his lies. 

Of which the primary and all-pestilentialest is the 
one formalized now into wide European faith by political 
economists, and bruited about, too, by frantic clergymen ! 
that you are not to give alms, (any more than you 
are to fast, or pray), — that you are to benefit the 
poor entirely by your own eating and drinking, and 
that it is their glory and eternal praise to fill your 
pockets and stomach, — and themselves die, and be 
thankful. Concerning which falsehood, observe, whether 
you be Christian or not, this unquestionable mark 
it has of infinite horror, that the persons who utter 
it have themselves lost their joy in giving — cannot 
conceive that strange form of practical human felicity 
— it is more ' blessed ' (not benedictum, but beatuni) 
to give than to receive — and that the entire practical 
life and delight of a ' lady ' is to be a ' \odS-giver* 
as of a lord to be a land-giver. It is a degradation 
— forsooth — for your neighbour's child to receive a 
loaf, and you are pained in giving it one ; your own 
children are not degraded in receiving their breakfast, 
are they ? and you still have some satisfaction of a 
charitable nature in seeing them eat it ? It is a 






Fors Clavigera. 223 

degradation to a bedridden pauper to get a blanket 
from the Queen ! how, then, shall the next bedded bride 
of May Fair boast of the carcanet from her ? 

Now, therefore, my good Companions of the Guild, 
— all that are, and Companions all, that are to be, 
— understand this, now and evermore, that you come 
forward to be Givers, not Receivers, in this human 
world : that you are to give your time, your thoughts, 
your labour, and the reward of your labour, so far as 
you can spare it, for the help of the poor and the 
needy, (they are not the same personages, mind : the 
* poor ' are in constant, healthy, and accepted relations 
to you, — the needy, in conditions requiring change) ; 
and observe, in the second place, that you are to 
work, so far as circumstances admit of your doing 
so, with your own hands, in the production of sub- 
stantial means of life — food, clothes, house, or fire — 
and that only by stick labour can you either make 
your own living, or anybody else's. One of our lately 
admitted Companions wrote joyfully and proudly to me 
the other day that she was ' making her own living/ 
meaning that she was no burden to her family, but sup- 
ported herself by teaching. To whom I answered, — 
and be the answer now generally understood by all our 
Companions, — that nobody can live by teaching, any 
more than by learning : that both teaching and learning 
are proper duties of human life, or pleasures of it, but 
have nothing whatever to do with the support of it, 



224 Fors Clavigera. 

Food can only be got out of the ground, or the 
air, or the sea. What you have done in fishing, 
fowling, digging, sowing, watering, reaping, milling, 
shepherding, shearing, spinning, weaving, building, 
carpentering, slating, coal -carrying, cooking, coster- 
mongering, and the like, — that is St. George's work, 
and means of power. All the rest is St. George's play 
or his devotion — not his labour. 

And the main message St. George brings to you is 
that you will not be degraded by this work nor sad- 
dened by it, — you, who in righteous will and modest 
resignation, take it upon you for your servant-yoke, as 
true servants, no less than children, of your Father in 
Heaven ; but, so far as it does mean an acknowledg- 
ment that you are not better than the poor, and are 
content to share their lowliness in that humility, you 
enter into the very soul and innermost good of sacred 
monastic life, and have the loveliness and sanctity of 
it, without the sorrow or the danger ; separating your- 
selves from the world and the flesh, only in their sin 
and in their pain. Nor, so far as the praise of men 
may be good and helpful to you, and, above all, good 
for them to give you, will it ever be wanting. Do you 
yourself — even if you are one of these who glory in 
idleness — think less of Florentine Ida because she is 
a working girl ? or esteem the feeling in which " every- 
body called her ' Signora ' " less honourable than the 
crowd's stare at my lady in her carriage ? 



Fors Clavigera. 225 

But above all, you separate yourself from the world 
in its sorrow. There are no chagrins so venomous as 
the chagrins of the idle ; there are no pangs so sicken- 
ing as the satieties of pleasure. Nay, the bitterest 
and most enduring sorrow may be borne through 
the burden and heat of day bravely to the due time 
of death, by a true worker. And, indeed, it is this 
very dayspring and fount of peace in the bosoms of 
the labouring poor which has till now rendered their 
oppression possible. Only the idle among them revolt 
against their state ; — the brave workers die passively, 
young and old — and make no sign. It is for you 
to pity them, for you to stand with them, for you to 
cherish, and save. 

And be sure there are thousands upon thousands 
already leading such life — who are joined in no recog- 
nized fellowship, but each in their own place doing 
happy service to all men. Read this piece of a friend's 
letter, received only a day or two since, while I was 
just thinking what plainest examples I could give you 
from real life. 

" I have just returned from W , where I lived 

in a house of which the master was a distributor of 
sacks of grain, in the service of a dealer in grain, 
while his two daughters did, one of them the whole 
work of the house, including attendance on the old 
mother who was past work, and the other the managing 
of a little shop in the village, — work, with all " (father 



226 Fors Clavigera. 

and daughters) " beginning at five a.m. I was there 
for some months, and was perfectly dealt with, and 
never saw a fault. What I wanted to tell you was 
that the daughter, who was an admirable cook, was 
conversant with her poets, quoted Wordsworth and 
Burns, when I led her that way, and knew all about 
Brantwood, as she had carefully treasured an account 
of it from an old Art Journal." 

* Perfectly dealt with.' Think what praise is in those 
three words ! — what straightforward understanding, on 
both sides, of true hospitality ! Think, (for one of the 
modes of life quickest open to you — and serviceablest,) 
— what roadside-inns might be kept by a true Gaius 
and Gaia ! You have perhaps held it — in far back 
* Fors ' one of my wildest sayings, that every village 
should have, as a Holy Church at one end, a Holy 
Tavern at the other ! I will better the saying now by 
adding — " they may be side by side, if you will." And 
then you will have entered into another mystery of 
monastic life, as you shall see by the plan given of a 
Cistercian Monastery in the second forthcoming number 
of ' Valle Crucis ' — where, appointed in its due place 
with the Church, the Scriptorium and the school, is the 
Hospitium for entertaining strangers unawares. And 
why not awares also ? Judge what the delight of 
travelling would be, for nice travellers, (read the word 
' nice ' in any sense you will) — if at every village there 
were a Blue Boar, or a Green Dragon, or Silver 



Fors Clavigcra. 227 

Swan * — with Mark Tapley of the Dragon for Ostler 
— and Boots of the Swan for Boots — and Mrs. Lupin 
or Mrs. Lirriper for Hostess — only trained at Girton in 
all that becomes a Hostess in the nineteenth century ! 
Gentle girl-readers mine, is it any excess of Christianity 
in you, do you think, that makes you shrink from the 
notion of being such an one, instead of the Curate's 
wife ? 

My time fails me — my thoughts how much more — 
in trying to imagine what this sweet world will be, 
when the meek inherit it indeed, and the lowliness of 
every faithful handmaiden has been regarded of her 
Lord. For the day will come, the expectation of the 
poor shall not perish for ever. Not by might, nor by 
power, but by His Spirit — the meek shall He guide 
in judgment, and the meek shall He teach His way. 

* "And should I once again, as once I may, 
Visit Martigny, I will not forget 
Thy hospitable roof, Marguerite de Tours, 
Thy sign the Silver Swan. Heaven prosper thee." 

(Rogers' ' Italy'.) 

In my schools at Oxford I have placed, with Mr. Ward's beautiful copy 
of Turner's vignette of the old Cygne, at Martigny, my own early drawing 
of the corridor of its neighbour inn " La Poste. '—once itself a convent. 



228 Fors Clavigera. 



CHRISTMAS POSTSCRIPT. 

In the following alphabetical list of our present 
Companions, I have included only those who, I believe, 
will not blame me for giving their names in full,* and 
in whose future adherence and support I have entire 
trust ; for, although some of them have only lately 
joined us, they have done so, I think, with clearer 
knowledge of the nature and working of the Guild 
than many former Companions who for various causes 
have seen good to withdraw. But some names of 
members may be omitted, owing to the scattered 
registry of them while I was travelling, or perhaps 
forgotten registry during my illnesses. I trust that 
in the better hope and more steady attention which 
I am now able to bring to the duties of the Master- 
ship, the list may soon be accurately completed, and 
widely enlarged. One Companion, ours no more, 
sends you, I doubt not, Christmas greeting from her 
Home, — Florence bennett. Of her help to us 
during her pure brief life, and afterwards, by her 
father's fulfilment of her last wishes, you shall hear at 
another time. 

* I only give the first Christian name, for simplicity's sake, unless the 
second be an indication of family 



Fors Clavigera. 229 



* ADA HARTNELL; 
ALBERT FLEMING. 
ALICE KNIGHT. 

* ANNIE SOMERSCALES. 

* BLANCHE ATKINSON. 
DAVID CAMPBELL. 

* DORA LEES. 
DORA THOMAS. 
EDITH HOPE SCOTT. 
EDITH IRVINE. 

* EGBERT RYDINGS. 

* ELIZABETH BARNARD. 
EMILIE SISSISON. 
EMMELINE MILLER. 
ERNEST MILLER. 

* FANNY TALBOT. 
FERDINAND BLADON. 

* FRANCES COLENSO. 

* GEORGE ALLEN. 
GEORGE NEWLANDS. 
GRACE ALLEN. 
HELEN ORMEROD. 

* HENRIETTA CAREY. 

* HENRY LARKIN. 
HENRY LUXMORE. 
HENRY WARD. 
JAMES GILL. 

*JOHN FOWLER. 
*JOHN MORGAN. 

* JULIA FIRTH. 
KATHLEEN MARTIN. 
MARGARET COX. 
MAUD BATEMAN. 

* REBECCA ROBERTS. 

* ROBERT SOMERVILLE. 
SARAH THOMAS. 



Fors Clavigera. 

* SILVANUS WILKINS. 
♦SUSAN BEEVER. 

WILLIAM MONK. 

* WILLIAM SHARMAN. 

* WILLIAM SMITHERS. 



The names marked with a star were on the original 
roll of the Guild, when it consisted of only thirty-two 
Members and the Master. 




I 



LETTER THE 94th. 

RETROSPECT. 

Brantwood, 31st December, 1883. 

T is a provoking sort of fault in our English lan- 
guage, that while one says defect, defection, and 
defective ; retrospect, retrospection, and retrospective, etc., 
— one says prospect and prospective, but not pro- 
spection ; respect and respective, but not respection ; 
perspective, but not perspect, nor perspection ; pre- 
fect, but not praefection ; and refection, but not 
refect, — with a quite different manner of difference in 

2ND SERIES.] 2 3 



232 Fors Clavigera. 

the uses of each admitted, or reasons for refusal of 
each refused, form, in every instance : and therefore 
I am obliged to warn my readers that I don't mean 
the above title of this latt 'Fors' of 1883 to be 
substantive, but participle ; — that is to say, I don't 
mean that this letter will be a retrospect, or back- 
prospect, of all ' Forses ' that have been ; but that it 
will be in its own tenor, and to a limited distance, 
Retrospects? : only I cut the ' ive ' from the end of 
the word, because I want the retrospection to be 
complete as far as it reaches. 

Namely, of the essential contents of the new series 
of ' Fors ' up to the date of this letter ; and in con- 
nection with them, of the First letter, the Seventeenth, 
and the Fiftieth, of the preceding series. 

I will begin with the seventeenth letter ; which bears 
directly on the school plan given in my report for this 
year. It will be seen that I struck out in that plan 
the three R's from among the things promised to be 
taught, and I wrote privately with some indignation to 
the Companion who had ventured to promise them, 
asking her whether she had never read this seventeenth 
letter ; to which she answered that ' inspectors of schools ' 
now required the three R's imperatively, — to which I 
again answered, with indignation at high pressure, that 
ten millions of inspectors of schools collected on Cader 
Idris should not make me teach in my schools, come to 
them who liked, a single thing I did not choose to. 



Fors Clavigera. 233 

And I do not choose to teach (as usually under- 
stood) the three R's ; first, because, as I do choose to 
teach the elements of music, astronomy, botany, and 
zoology, not only the mistresses and masters capable 
of teaching these should not waste their time on the 
three R's ; but the children themselves would have no 
time to spare, nor should they have. If their fathers 
and mothers can read and count, they are the people 
to teach reading and numbering, to earliest intelligent 
infancy. For orphans, or children whose fathers and 
mothers can't read or count, dame schools in every 
village (best in the almshouses, where there might be 
dames enow) are all that is wanted. 

Secondly. I do not care that St. George's children, 
as a rule, should learn either reading or writing, because 
there are very few people in this world who get any 
good by either. Broadly and practically, whatever 
foolish people read, does them harm, and whatever 
they write, does other people harm : (see my notes 
on Narrs in general, and my own Narr friend in 
particular, ' Fors,' Vol. V., page 125,) and nothing can 
ever prevent this, for a fool attracts folly as decayed 
meat attracts flies, and distils and assimilates it, no 
matter out of what book ; — he can get as much out 
of the Bible as any other, though of course he or she 
usually reads only newspaper or novel.* 

* Just think, for instance, of the flood of human idiotism that spent a 
couple of years or so of its life in writing, printing, and reading the Tichbome 

2ND SERIES.] 2/1 



2 34 



Fors Clavigera. 



But thirdly. Even with children of good average 
sense, — see, for example, what happened in our own 
Coniston school, only the other day. I went in by 



trial, — the whole of that vital energy and time being not only direct loss, 
but loss in loathsome thoughts and vulgar inquisitiveness. Had it been 
spent in pure silence, and prison darkness, how much better for all those 
creatures' souls and eyes ! But, if they had been unable to read or write, 
and made good sailors or woodcutters, they might, instead, have prevented 
two -thirds of the shipwrecks on our own coast, or made a pestilential 
province healthy on Ganges or Amazon. 

Then think farther- —though which of us by any thinking can take measure ? 
— of the pestilence of popular literature, as we perceive it now accommodating 
itself to the tastes of an enlightened people, in chopping up its formerly 
loved authors — now too hard for its understanding, and too pure for its 
appetite — into crammed sausages, or blood-puddings swiftly gorgeable. 
Think of Miss Braddon's greasy mince-pie of Scott ! — and buy, for subject 
of awed meditation, 'No. I, One penny, complete in itself (published by 
Henry Vickers, 317, Strand), the Story of Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, 
— re-arranged and sublimed into Elixir of Dickens, and Otto of Oliver, 
and bottled in the following series of aromatic chapters, headed thus : — 



lap. I. 


At the Mercy of the Parish. 


II. 


In the Clutches of the Beadle 


„ III. 


Among the Coffins. 


„ IV. 


Among Thieves. 


v. 


Fagin the Jew. 


„ VI. 


Before the 'Beak.' 


„ VII. 


Bill Sikes. 


„ VIII. 


Nancy. 


„ IX. 


Nancy Carries on. 


X. 


The Burglary planned. 


„ XI. 


The Burglary. 


„ XII. 


A Mysterious Stranger. 


„ XIII. 


The Murdered Girl. 


„ XIV. 


The Murderer's Flight. 


„ XV. 


The Murderer's Death. 


„ XVI. 


The Jew's Last Night Alive. 



Fors Clavigera. ' 235 

chance during the hour for arithmetic ; and, inserting 
myself on the nearest bench, learned, with the rest of 
the class, how much seven-and-twenty pounds of bacon 
would come to at ninepence farthing a pound, with 
sundry the like marvellous consequences of the laws of 
number ; until, feeling myself a little shy in remaining 
always, though undetectedly, at the bottom of the class, 
I begged the master to let us all rest a little ; and in 
this breathing interval, taking a sovereign out of my 
pocket, asked the children if they had ever been 
shown the Queen's Arms on it ?. 

(Unanimous silence.) 

"At any rate, you know what the Queen's Arms 
are ? " (Not a whisper.) 

" What ! a roomful of English boys and girls, and 
nobody know what the Queen's or the King's Arms 
are — the Arms of England ? " (Mouths mostly a little 
open, but with no purpose of speech. Eyes also, without 
any immediate object of sight.) 

" Do you not even remember seeing such a thing as 
a harp on them ? " (Fixed attention, — no response.) 
" Nor a lion on his hind legs ? Nor three little beasts 
running in each corner ? " (Attention dissolving into 
bewilderment) 

" Well, next time I come, mind, you must be able to 
tell me all about it ; — here's the sovereign to look at, 
and when you've learnt it, you may divide it — if you 
can. How many of you are there here to-day ? " (Sum 



236 Fors Clavigera. 

in addition, taking more time than usual, owing to the 
difficulty of getting the figures to stand still. It is 
established finally that there are thirty-five.) 

" And how many pence in a sovereign ? " (Answer 
instantaneous and vociferous.) 

" And thirty-fives in two hundred and forty ? " (All 
of us at pause. The master comes to the rescue, 
and recommends us to try thirties instead of thirty- 
fives.) 

" It seems, then, if five of you will stand out, the 
rest can have eightpence apiece. Which of you will 
stand out ? " 

And I left that question for them to resolve at their 
leisure, seeing that it contained the essence of an 
examination in matters very much higher than arith- 
metic. 

And now, suppose that there were any squire's sons 
or daughters down here, for Christmas, from Christchurch 
or Girton, who could and would accurately and explicitly 
tell these children " all about " the Queen's Arms : what 
the Irish Harp meant, and what a Bard was, and ought 
to be ; — what the Scottish Lion meant, and how he 
got caged by the tressure of Charlemagne,* and who 
Charlemagne was ; — what the English leopards meant, 
and who the Black Prince was, and how he reigned in 
Aquitaine, — would not all this be more useful, in all 
true senses, to the children, than being able, in two 

* See 'Fors,' Letter XXV., pp. 12, 13, 14. 



Fors Clavigera. 237 

seconds quicker than children outside, to say how 
much twenty-seven pounds of bacon comes to at 
ninepence farthing a pound ? And if then they could 
be shown, on a map, without any railroads on it, — 
where Aquitaine was, and Poitiers, and where Picardy, 
and Crecy, would it not, for children who are likely to 
pass their lives in Coniston, be more entertaining and 
more profitable than to learn where " New Orleans " is, 
(without any new Joan to be named from it), or New 
Jerusalem, without any new life to be lived in it ? 

Fourthly. Not only do the arts of literature and 
arithmetic continually hinder children in the acquisition 
of ideas, — but they are apt greatly to confuse and 
encumber the memory of them. Read now, with renewed 
care, Plato's lovely parable of Theuth and the King of 
Egypt (XVII. 7), and observe the sentences I translated, 
though too feebly. " It is not medicine (to give the 
power) of divine memory, but a quack's drug for memo- 
randum, leaving the memory idle." Y myself, for instance, 
have written down memoranda of many skies, but have 
forgotten the skies themselves. Turner wrote nothing, 
— but remembered all. And this is much more true 
of things that depend for their beauty on sound and 
accent ; for in the present fury of printing, bad verses, 
that could not be heard without disgust, are continually 
printed and read as if there was nothing wrong in 
them ; while all the best powers of minstrel, bard and 
troubadour depended on the memory and voice, as 



238 Fors Clavigera. 

distinct from writing.* All which was perfectly known 
to wise men ages ago, and it is continually intimated 
in the different forms which the myth of Hermes takes, 
from this Ibis Theuth of Egypt down to Correggio's 
most perfect picture of Mercury teaching Cupid to read ; 
— where, if you will look at the picture wisely, you 
see that it really ought to be called, Mercury trying, 
and failing^ to teach Cupid to read! For, indeed, 
from the beginning and to the end of time, Love 
reads without letters, and counts without arithmetic. 

But, lastly and chiefly, the personal conceit and 
ambition developed by reading, in minds of selfish activity, 
lead to the disdain of manual labour, and the desire of 
all sorts of unattainable things, and fill the streets 
with discontented and useless persons, seeking some 
means of living in town society by their wits. I need 
not enlarge on this head ; every reader's experience 
must avow the extent and increasing plague of this 
fermenting imbecility, striving to make for itself what 
it calls a ' position in life.' 

In sight, and thought of all these sources of evil 
in our present staples of education, I drew out the 
scheme of schooling, which incidentally and partially 
defined in various passages of ' Fors ' (see mainly 

* See lives of Beatrice and Lucia, in the first number of ' Roadside 
Songs of Tuscany.' 

f Sir Joshua, with less refinement, gives the same meaning to the myth, 
in his picture of Cupid pouting and recusant, on being required to decipher 
the word, " pinmoney." 



Fors Clavigera. 239 

Letter LXVIL, Vol. VI., p. 225), I now sum as 
follows. 

Every parish school to have garden, playground, 
and cultivable land round it, or belonging to it, 
spacious enough to employ the scholars in fine weather 
mostly out of doors. 

Attached to the building, a children's library, in 
which the scholars who care to read may learn that art 
as deftly as they like, by themselves, helping each other 
without troubling the master ; — a sufficient laboratory 
always, in which shall be specimens of all common 
elements of natural substances, and where simple 
chemical, optical, and pneumatic experiments may be 
shown ; and according to the size and importance of 
the school, attached workshops, many or few, — but 
always a carpenter's, and first of those added in the 
better schools, a potter's. 

In the school itself, the things taught will be music, 
geometry, astronomy, botany, zoology, to all ; drawing, 
and history, to children who have gift for either. And 
finally, to all children of whatever gift, grade, or age, 
the laws of Honour, the habit of Truth, the Virtue of 
Humility, and the Happiness of Love. 

I say, the "virtue of Humility," as including all the 
habits of Obedience and instincts of Reverence which 
are dwelt on throughout ' Fors,' and all my other 
books # — but the things included are of course the 

* Compare especially "Crown of Wild Olive,' pp. 157, 165. I repeat 



240 Fors Clavigera. 

primary ones to be taught, and the thirteenth Aphorism 
of that sixty-seventh letter cannot be too often repeated, 
that " Moral education begins in making the creature 
we have to educate, clean, and obedient." In after 
time, this "virtue of humility" is to be taught to a 
child chiefly by gentleness to its failures, showing it 
that by reason of its narrow powers, it cannot but fail. 
I have seen my old clerical master, the Rev. Thomas 
Dale, beating his son Tom hard over the head with the 
edge of a grammar, because Tom could not construe a 
Latin verse, when the rev. gentleman ought only with 
extreme tenderness and pitifulness to have explained to 
Tom that — he wasn't Thomas the Rhymer. 

For the definitely contrary cultivation of the vice 
of Pride, l compare the education of Steerforth by 
Mr. Creakle. (' David Copperfield/ chap, vi.) 

But it is to be remembered that humility can only 
be truly, and therefore only effectively taught, when the 
master is swift to recognise the special faculties of 
children, no less than their weaknesses, and that it is 
his quite highest and most noble function to discern 

emphatically the opening sentence — " Educate, or Govern, — they are one 
and the same word. Education does not mean teaching people to know 
what they do not know — it means teaching them to behave as they do not 
behave. It is not teaching the youth of England the shapes of letters and 
the tricks of numbers, and then leaving them to turn their arithmetic to 
roguery and their literature to lust. It is, on the contrary, training them 
into the perfect exercise and kingly continence of their bodies and souls, — 
by kindness, by watching, by warning, by precept, and by praise, — but 
above all, by example." 



Fors Clavigera. 241 

these, and prevent their discouragement or effacement 
in the vulgar press for a common prize. See the 
beautiful story of little George, ' Friends in Council.' 

• Next, as to writing. A certain kind of writing, 
which will take from half an hour to an hour for a 
line, will indeed be taught — as long ago promised, 
in St. George's schools ; examples being given of the 
manner of it at p. 11 of Letter XVI., and Vol. VI., 
p. 123 ; but, so far from qualifying the pupil for 
immediately taking a lucrative clerkship in a Govern- 
ment office, or a county banking-house, or a solicitor's 
ante-room, the entire aim of our training will be to 
afoqualify him, for ever, from writing with any degree 
of current speed ; and especially from producing any 
such aeschrography, (as everybody writes Greek- English 
nowadays, I use this term in order more clearly to 
explain myself,) as the entry in my own Banker's book 
facsimiled at p. 1 4, Vol. VI., and the ' Dec' for December 
here facsimiled from a London tradesman's bill just 



iuL, 



sent in, f(_J<_j^ej or the ornamental R engrossed on 

my Father's executor's articles of release, engraved at 
p. 6 of Letter XVI. ; but to compel him, on the con- 
trary, to write whatever words deserve to be written 
in the most perfect and graceful and legible manner 
possible to his hand. 

And in this resolution, stated long since, I am now 
more fixed than ever ; having had much experience 



242 Fors Clavigera. 

lately of handwriting, and finding, first, that the scholar 
who among my friends does the most as well as the 
best work, writes the most deliberately beautiful hand : 
and that all the hands of sensible people agree in 
being merely a reduction of good print to a form 
producible by the steady motion of a pen, and are 
therefore always round, and extremely upright, becoming 
more or less picturesque according to the humour of 
the writer, but never slurred into any unbecoming 
speed, nor subdued by any merely mechanical habit,* 
whereas the writing of foolish people is almost always 
mechanically monotonous ; and that of begging-letter 
writers, with rare exception, much sloped, and sharp 
at the turns. 

It will be the law of our schools, therefore, that the 
children who want to write clerk's and begging-letter 
hands, must learn them at home ; and will not be 
troubled by us to write at all. The children who want 
to write like gentlemen and ladies, (like St. Jerome, or 
Queen Elizabeth, for instance,) will learn, as aforesaid, 
with extreme slowness. And, if you will now read care- 
fully the fiftieth letter, above referred to, you will find 

* Sir Walter's hand, from the enormous quantity and constancy of his 
labour, becomes almost mechanical in its steadiness, on the pages of his 
novels ; but is quite free in his letters. Sir Joshua's hand is curiously 
slovenly ; Tintoret's, grotesque and irregular in the extreme ; Nelson's, 
almost a perfect type : especially in the point of not hurrying, see facsimile 
just before Trafalgar, 'Fors' VI., p. 170. William the Conqueror and his 
queen Matilda could only sign a cross for their names. 



Fors Clavigera. 243 

much to meditate upon, respecting home as well as 

school teaching ; more especially the home-teaching of 

the mining districts (p. 39), and the home library of 

cheap printing, with the small value of it to little 

Agnes (p. 32). And as it chances — for I have no more 

time for retrospect in this letter — I will close it with 

the record of a lesson received again in Agnes's cottage, 

last week. Her mother died three years ago ; and 

Agnes, and her sister Isabel, are at service : — another 

family is in the cottage — and another little girl, 

younger than Agnes, " Jane Anne," who has two elder 

brothers, and one little one. The family have been 

about a year there, beginning farmer's life, after miner's, 

with much ill-fortune, the last stroke of which was the 

carrying away of the entire roof of their grange, at 

midnight, by the gale of 1 ith December, the timbers 

of it thundering and splintering over the roof of the 

dwelling house. The little girl was so terrified that she 

had a succession of fainting fits next day, and was sent 

for a week to Barrow, for change of scene. When I 

went up on Wednesday last to see how things were going 

on, she had come back that morning, and was sitting 

with her child-brother on her lap, in the corner by the 

fireside. I stayed talking to the mother for half an 

hour, and all that time the younger child was so quiet 

that I thought it must be ill ; but, on my asking, — 

" Not he," the mother said, " but he's been jumping 

about all the morning, and making such a fuss about 



244 Fors Clavigera. 

getting his sister back, that now he's not able to 
stir." 

But the dearest child of the cottage was not there. 

Last spring they had a little boy, between these 
two, full of intelligent life, and pearl of chief price 
to them. He went down to the field by the brook- 
side (Beck Leven), one bright morning when his elder 
brother was mowing. The child came up behind 
without speaking ; and the back sweep of the scythe 
caught the leg, and divided a vein. His brother carried 
him up to the house ; and what swift binding could 
do was done — the doctor, three miles away, coming 
as soon as might be, arranged all for the best, and 
the child lay pale and quiet till the evening, speaking 
sometimes a little to his father and mother. But at 
six in the evening he began to sing. Sang on, clearer 
and clearer, all through the night, — so clear at last, 
you might have heard him, his mother said, "far out on 
the moor there." Sang on till the full light of morning, 
and so passed away. 

" Did he sing with words ? " I asked. 

" Oh, yes ; just the bits of hymns he had learnt at 
the Sunday-school." 

So much of his education finally available to him, 
you observe. 

Not the multiplication table then, nor catechism then, 
nor commandments then, — these rhymes only remained 
to him for his last happiness. 






Fors Clavigera. 245 

" Happiness in delirium only," say you ? 

All true love, all true wisdom, and all true knowledge, 
seem so to the world : but, without question, the forms 
of weakness of body preceding death, or those during 
life which are like them, are the testing states, often 
the strongest states, of the soul. The " Oh, I could 
prophesy ! " of Harry Percy, is neither dream, nor 
delirium.- 

And the lesson I received from that cottage history, 
and which I would learn with my readers, is of the 
power for good in what, rightly chosen, has- been rightly 
learned by heart at school, whether it show at the 
time or not. The hymn may be forgotten in the play- 
ground, or ineffective afterwards in restraining contrary 
habits of feeling and life. But all that is good and 
right retains its unfelt authority ; and the main change 
which I would endeavour to effect in ordinary school 
discipline is to make the pupils read less, and remember 
more ; exercising them in committing to memory, not 
by painful effort, but by patient repetition, until they 
cannot but remember, (and observing always that the 
accentuation is right, — for if that be once right, the 
understanding will come in due time), helping farther 
with whatever elementary music, both of chant and 
instrument, may be familiarly attainable. To which 
end, may I modestly recommend all musical clergymen, 
and churchwardens, to dispense — if funds are limited — 
with organs in the church, in favour of harp, harpsi- 



246 Fors Clavigera. 

chord, zittern, or peal of bells, in the schoolroom : and 
to endeavour generally to make the parish enjoy proper 
music out of the church as well as in it, and on Saturday 
as well as Sunday. 

I hope to persevere in these summaries through 
next letter ; meantime, this curiously apposite passage 
in one received this morning, from a much valued 
Companion, needs instant answer (she is the second 
tutress in a school for young girls, which has been 
lately begun by a German lady, who is resolved to 
allow no ' cramming ') : — 

"We have nineteen pupils now, and more are pro- 
mised. The children are all progressing satisfactorily, 
and seem happy, but our path will be up-hill for 
some time to come. Sewing is in a very backward 
condition ; the children think it would be better done 
in the machine. Hardly any of them can write, and 
we can't get any decent large-hand copy-books. And 
they don't like poetry ! What is to be done with 
such matter-of-fact young persons ? On the other 
hand, they are loveable and intelligent children, much 
interested in the garden (they are to have little gardens 
of their own when the spring comes) and the birds. 
Birds, you observe, not merely sparrows ; for though 
we are only on the edge of the Liverpool smoke we 
have plenty of robins and starlings, besides one tomtit, 
and a visit from a chaffinch the other day. We have 
not been able to begin the cookery class yet, for we 









Fors Clavigera. 247 

are not actually living at the school ; we hope to take 
up our abode there next term. Mrs. Green, my 
' principal,' — I don't see why I shouldn't say mistress, 
I like the word much better, — could teach spinning 
if she had a wheel, only then people would say we 
were insane, and take the children away from us. 

" I am very much obliged for last ' Fors,' and delighted 
to hear that there is a new one nearly ready. But 
would you please be a little bit more explicit on the 
subject of ' work ' and ' ladyhood.' Not that what 
you have said already seems obscure to me, but people 
disagree as to the interpretation of it. The other night 
I proposed to a few fellow-disciples that we should 
make an effort to put ourselves in serviceable relation- 
ship to some few of our fellow-creatures, and they told 
me that ' all that was the landlord's business or the 
capitalist's.' Rather disheartening, to a person who has 
no hope of ever becoming a landlord or capitalist." 

Yes, my dear, and very finely the Landlord and 
Capitalist — in the sense these people use the words — 
of land-taxer and labour-taxer, have done that business 
of theirs hitherto ! Land and labour appear to be 
discovering — and rather fast now-a-days — that perhaps 
they might get along by themselves, if they were to try. 
Of that, more next letter ; — for the answers to your 
main questions in this, — the sewing is a serious one. 
The 4 little wretches ' — (this is a well-trained young 
lady's expression, not mine — interjectional on my 



248 Fors Clavigera. 

reading the passage to her) must be got out of all 
that as soon as you can. For plain work, get Miss 
Stanley's book, which gives you the elements of this 
work at Whitelands, — (I hope, however, to get Miss 
Greenaway to sketch us a pattern frock or two, in- 
stead of the trimmed water-butts of Miss Stanley's 
present diagrams) — and for fine work, make them 
every one sew a proper sampler, with plenty of 
robins in it, and your visitors the tomtit and 
chaffinch, and any motto they like in illuminated 
letters, finished with gold thread, — the ground, silk. 
Then, for my meaning as to women's work, what 
should I mean, but scrubbing furniture, dusting walls, 
sweeping floors, making the beds, washing up the 
crockery, ditto the children, and whipping them when 
they want it, — mending their clothes, cooking their 
dinners, — and when there are cooks more than enough, 
helping with the farm work, or the garden, or the dairy ? 
Is that plain speaking enough ? Have I not fifty times 
over, in season and out of season, dictated and insisted 
and asseverated and — what stronger word else there may 
be — that the essentially right life for all woman-kind is 
that of the Swiss Paysanne, — and given Gotthelf 's Freueli 
for the perfect type of it, and dedicated to her in 
' Proserpina ' the fairest pansy in the world, keeping 
only the poor little one of the sand-hills for Ophelia ? 
But in a rougher way yet — take now the facts of such 
life in old Scotland, seen with Walter Scott's own eyes. 






Fors Clavigera. 249 

" I have often heard Scott mention some curious 
particulars of his first visit to the remote fastness of 
one of these Highland friends ; but whether he told 
the story of Invernahyle, or of one of his own relations 
of the Clan Campbell, I do not recollect ; I rather think 
the latter was the case. On reaching the brow of a 
bleak eminence overhanging the primitive tower and its 
tiny patch of cultivated ground, he found his host and 
three sons, and perhaps half a dozen attendant gillies, 
all stretched half asleep in their tartans upon the heath, 
with guns and dogs, and a profusion of game about 
them ; while in the courtyard, far below, appeared a 
company of women, actively engaged in loading a cart 
with manure. The stranger was not a little astonished 
when he discovered, on descending from the height, 
that among these industrious females were the laird's 
own lady, and two or three of her daughters ; but 
they seemed quite unconscious of having been detected 
in an occupation unsuitable to their rank — retired pre- 
sently to their ' bowers,' and when they reappeared in 
other dresses, retained no traces of their morning's work, 
except complexions glowing with a radiant freshness, 
for one evening of which many a high-bred beauty 
would have bartered half her diamonds. He found 
the young ladies not ill informed, and exceedingly 
agreeable ; and the song and the dance seemed to 
form the invariable termination of their busy days." 
You think such barbarism for ever past ? No, my 

2ND SERIES.] 2 5 



5o 



Fors Clavigera. 



dears ; it is only the barbarity of idle gentlemen that 
must pass. They will have to fill the carts — you to 
drive them ; and never any more evade the burden 
and heat of the day — they, in shooting birds and 
each other, or you in walking about in sun-hats and 
parasols, — like this 





V* ^s 



LETTER THE 95th. 

FORS INFANTLffi. 

DO not well know whether it has more distressed, 
-*■ or encouraged me, to find how much is wanting, 
and how much to be corrected, in the hitherto accepted 
modes of school education for our youngest children. 
Here, for the last year or two, I have had the most 
favourable opportunities for watching and trying various 
experiments on the minds of country children, most 
thankfully recognising their native power ; and most 
sorrowfully the inefficiency of the means at the school- 

2XD SERIES.] 26 



252 Fors Clavigera. 

master's disposal, for its occupation and development. 
For the strengthening of his hands, and that of our 
village teachers and dames in general, I have written 
these following notes at speed, for the brevity and 
slightness of which I must pray the reader's indulgence : 
he will find the substance of them has been long and 
deeply considered. 

But first let me fulfil the pledge given in last 
number of 'Fors' by a few final words about the Land 
Question — needless, if people would read my preceding 
letters with any care, but useful, as a general heading 
of them, for those who have not time to do so. 

The plan of St. George's Guild is wholly based on the 
supposed possession of land by hereditary proprietors, 
inalienably ; or if by societies, under certain laws of 
responsibility to the State. 

In common language, and in vulgar thought, the pos- 
session of land is confused with " freedom." But no man 
is so free as a beggar ; and no man is more solemnly a 
servant to Gcd, the king, and the laws of his country, 
than an honest land-holder. 

The nonsense thought and talked about 'Nationalization 
of Land,' like other nonsense, must have its day, I suppose, 
— and I hope, soon, its night. All healthy states from 
the beginning of the world, living on land,* are founded 
on hereditary tenure, and perish when either the lords 
cr peasants sell their estates, much more when they let 

* As distinct from those living by trade or piracy. 



Fors Clavigera. 253 

them out for hire. The single line of the last words of 
John of Gaunt to Richard II., " Landlord of England 
art thou now, not King," expreses the root of the whole 
matter ; and the present weakness of the Peers in their 
dispute with the Commons is because the Upper 
House is composed now no more of Seigneurs, but of 
Landlords. 

Possession of land implies the duty of living on it, 
and by it, if there is enough to live on ; then, having 
got one's own life from it by one's own labour or wise 
superintendence of labour, if there is more land than 
is enough for one's self, the duty of making it fruitful 
and beautiful for as many more as can live on it. 

The owner of land, necessarily and justly left in a 
great measure by the State to do what he will with his 
own, is nevertheless entirely responsible to the State 
for the generally beneficial management of his territory ; 
and the sale of his land, or of any portion of it, only 
allowed under special conditions, and with solemn public 
registry of the transference to another owner : above 
all, the landmarks by which estates are described are 
never to be moved. 

A certain quantity of public land (some belonging to 
the king and signory, some to the guilds of craftsmen, 
some to the town or village corporations) must be set 
aside for public uses and pleasures, and especially for 
purposes of education, which, rightly comprehended, 
consists, half of it, in making children familiar with 

2ND SERIES.] 2*] 



254 Fors Clavigera. 

natural objects, and the other half in teaching the 
practice of piety towards them (piety meaning kindness 
to living things, and orderly use of the lifeless). 

And throughout the various passages referring to this 
subject in ' Fors,' it will be found that I always pre- 
suppose a certain quantity of carefully tended land to 
be accessible near our schools and universities, not for 
exercise merely, but for instruction ; — see last ' Fors/ 
P. 239. 

Of course, schools of this kind cannot be in large 
towns, — the town school must be for townspeople ; but 
I start with the general principle that every school is to 
be fitted for the children in its neighbourhood who are 
likely to grow up and live in its neighbourhood. The 
idea of a general education which is to fit everybody to 
be Emperor of Russia, and provoke a boy, whatever he is, 
to want to be something better, and wherever he was born 
to think it a disgrace to die, is the most entirely and 
directly diabolic of all the countless stupidities into which 
the British nation has been of late betrayed by its avarice 
and irreligion. There are, indeed, certain elements of 
education which are alike necessary to the inhabitants of 
every spot of earth. Cleanliness, obedience, the first laws 
of music, mechanics, and geometry, the primary facts of 
geography and astronomy, and the outlines of history, 
should evidently be taught alike to poor and rich, to 
sailor and shepherd, to labourer and shopboy. But for 
the rest, the efficiency of any school will be found to 



Fors Clavigera. 255 

increase exactly in the ratio of its direct adaptation to 
the circumstances of the children it receives ; and the 
quantity of knowledge to be attained in a given time 
being equal, its value will depend on the possibilities of 
its instant application. You need not teach botany to 
the sons of fishermen, architecture to shepherds, or painting 
to colliers ; still less the elegances of grammar to children 
who throughout the probable course of their total lives 
will have, or ought to have, little to say, and nothing to 
write.* 

Farther, of schools in all places, and for all ages, the 
healthy working will depend on the total exclusion of 
the stimulus of competition in any form or disguise. 
Every child should be measured by its own standard, 
trained to its own duty, and rewarded by its just praise. 
It is the effort that deserves praise, not the success ; nor 
is it a question for any student whether he is cleverer 
than others or duller, but whether he has done the best 
he could with the gifts he has. The madness of the 
modern cram and examination system arises principally 
out of the struggle to get lucrative places ; but partly 
also out of the radical blockheadism of supposing that 
all men are naturally equal, and can only make their 

* I am at total issue with most preceptors as to the use of grammar to 
any body. In a recent examination of our Coniston school I observed that 
the thing the children did exactly best, was their parsing, and the thing 
they did exactly worst, their repetition. Could stronger proof be given 
that the dissection of a sentence is as bad a way to the understanding of it 
as the dissection of a beast to the biography of it ? 



256 Fors Clavigera. 

way by elbowing; — the facts being that every child is 
born with an accurately defined and absolutely limited 
capacity ; that he is naturally (if able at all) able for 
some things and unable for others ; that no effort 
and no teaching can add one particle to the granted 
ounces of his available brains ; that by competition he 
may paralyse or pervert his faculties, but cannot stretch 
them a line ; and that the entire grace, happiness, and 
virtue of his life depend on his contentment in doing 
what he can, dutifully, and in staying where he is, 
peaceably. So far as he regards the less or more 
capacity of others, his superiorities are to be used 
for their help, not for his own pre-eminence ; and his 
inferiorities to be no ground of mortification, but of 
pleasure in the admiration of nobler powers. It is 
impossible to express the quantity of delight I used to 
feel in the power of Turner and Tintoret, when my own 
skill was nascent only ; and all good artists will admit 
that there is far less personal pleasure in doing a thing 
beautifully than in seeing it beautifully done. Therefore, 
over the door of every school, and the gate of every 
college, I would fain see engraved in their marble the 
absolute Forbidding 

fjL7)8ev /caret ipiOeiav 77 Kevoho^iav : 
" Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory : " 

and I would have fixed for each age of children and 
students a certain standard of pass in examination, so 



Fors Clavigera. 257 

adapted to average capacity and power of exertion, that 
none need fail who had attended to their lessons and 
obeyed their masters ; while its variety of trial should yet 
admit of the natural distinctions attaching to progress 
in especial subjects and skill in peculiar arts. Beyond 
such indication or acknowledgment of merit, there 
should be neither prizes nor honours ; these are meant 
by Heaven to be the proper rewards of a man's con- 
sistent and kindly life, not of a youth's temporary and 
selfish exertion. 

Nor, on the other hand, should the natural torpor 
of wholesome dulness be disturbed by provocations, 
or plagued by punishments. The wise proverb ought 
in every schoolmaster's mind to be deeply set — " You 
cannot make a silk purse of a sow's ear ; " expanded 
with the farther scholium that the flap of it will not be 
the least disguised by giving it a diamond earring. If, 
in a woman, beauty without discretion be as a jewel of 
gold in a swine's snout, much more, in man, woman, 
or child, knowledge without discretion — the knowledge 
which a fool receives only to puff up his stomach, and 
sparkle in his cockscomb. As I said,* that in matters 
moral, most men are not intended to be any better 
than sheep and robins, so, in matters intellectual, most 
men are not intended to be any wiser than their cocks 
and bulls, — duly scientific of their yard and pasture, 
peacefully nescient of all beyond. To be proud and 

* Notes on the life of Santa Zita (' Songs of Tuscany.' Part II.). 



258 Fors Clavigera, 

strong, each in his place and work, is permitted and 
ordained to the simplest ; but ultra, — ne sutor, ne 
fossor. 

And it is in the wholesome indisposition of the average 
mind for intellectual labour that due provision is made for 
the quantity of dull work which must be done in stubbing 
the Thornaby wastes of the world. Modern Utopianism 
imagines that the world is to be stubbed by steam, and 
human arms and legs to be eternally idle ; not perceiving 
that thus it would reduce man to the level of his cattle 
indeed, who can only graze and gore, but not dig ! It is 
indeed certain that advancing knowledge will guide us to 
less painful methods of human toil ; but in the true 
Utopia, man will rather harness himself, with his oxen, to 
his plough, than leave the devil to drive it. 

The entire body of teaching throughout the series of 
1 Fors Clavigera ' is one steady assertion of the necessity 
that educated persons should share their thoughts with 
the uneducated, and take also a certain part in their 
labours. But there is not a sentence implying that the 
education of all should be alike, or that there is to be 
no distinction of master from servant, or of scholar from 
clown. That education should be open to all, is as 
certain as that the sky should be ; but, as certainly, it 
should be enforced on none, and benevolent Nature left 
to lead her children, whether men or beasts, to take or 
leave at their pleasure. Bring horse and man to the 
water, let them drink if, and when, they will ; — the 






Fors Clavigera. 259 



child who desires education will be bettered by it, the 
child who dislikes it, only disgraced. 

Of course, I am speaking here of intellectual education, 
not moral. The laws of virtue and honour are, indeed, to 
be taught compulsorily to all men ; whereas our present 
forms of education refuse to teach them to any ; and 
allow the teaching, by the persons interested in their 
promulgation, of the laws of cruelty and lying, until we 
find these British islands gradually filling with a breed of 
men who cheat without shame, and kill without remorse. 

It is beyond the scope of the most sanguine thought 
to conceive how much misery and crime would be effaced 
from the world by persistence, even for a few years, 
of a system of education thus directed to raise the fittest 
into positions of influence, to give to every scale of 
intellect its natural sphere, and to every line of action 
its unquestioned principle. At present wise men, for 
the most part, are silent, and good men powerless ; the 
senseless vociferate, and the heartless govern ; while all 
social law and providence are dissolved by the enraged 
agitation of a multitude, among whom every villain has 
a chance of power, every simpleton of praise, and every 
scoundrel of fortune. 

Passing now to questions of detail in the mode of 
organising school instruction, I would first insist on the 
necessity of a sound system in elementary music. Musi- 
cians, like painters, are almost virulently determined in 
their efforts to abolish the laws of sincerity and purity ; 



260 Fors Clavigera. 

and to invent, each for his own glory, new modes of 
dissolute and lascivious sound. No greater benefit could 
be conferred on the upper as well as the lower classes 
of society than the arrangement of a grammar of simple 
and pure music, of which the code should be alike 
taught in every school in the land. My attention has 
been long turned to this object, but I have never till 
lately had leisure to begin serious work upon it. 
During the last year, however, I have been making 
experiments with a view to the construction of an instru- 
ment by which very young children could be securely 
taught the relations of sound in the octave ; unsuccessful 
only in that the form of lyre which was produced for me, 
after months of labour, by the British manufacturer, was 
as curious a creation of visible deformity as a Greek lyre 
was of grace, besides being nearly as expensive as a piano ! 
For the present, therefore, not abandoning the hope of 
at last attaining a simple stringed instrument, I have 
fallen back — and I think, probably, with final good 
reason — on the most sacred of all musical instruments, 
the 'Bell/ 

Whether the cattle-bell of the hills, or, from the cathedral 
tower, monitor of men, I believe the sweetness of its pro- 
longed tone the most delightful and wholesome for the 
ear and mind of all instrumental sound. The subject is 
too wide to be farther dwelt on here ; of experiment or 
progress made, account will be given in my reports to the 
St. George's Guild. 



Fors Clavigera. 261 

Next for elocution. The foundational importance of 
beautiful speaking has been disgraced by the confusion 
of it with diplomatic oratory, and evaded by the vicious 
notion that it can be taught by a master learned in it as 
a separate art. The management of the lips, tongue, and 
throat may, and perhaps should, be so taught ; but this 
is properly the first function of the singing master. 
Elocution is a moral faculty ; and no one is fit to be the 
head of a children's school who is not both by nature 
and attention a beautiful speaker. 

By attention, I say, for fine elocution means first an 
exquisitely close attention to, and intelligence of, the 
meaning of words, and perfect sympathy with what feeling 
they describe ; but indicated always with reserve. In this 
reserve, fine reading and speaking, (virtually one art), 
differ from " recitation," which gives the statement or 
sentiment with the explanatory accent and gesture of an 
actor. In perfectly pure elocution, on the contrary, the 
accent ought, as a rule, to be much lighter and gentler 
than the natural or dramatic one, and the force of it 
wholly independent of gesture or expression of feature. 
A fine reader should read, a great speaker speak, as a 
judge delivers his charge; and the test of his power 
should be to read or speak unseen. 

At least an hour of the school-day should be spent 
in listening to the master's or some trustworthy visitor's 
reading, but no children should attend unless they were 
really interested ; the rest being allowed to go on with 



262 Fors Clavigera. 

their other lessons or employments ; a large average 
of children, I suppose, are able to sew or draw while 
they yet attend to reading, and so there might be 
found a fairly large audience, of whom however those 
who were usually busy during the lecture should not 
be called upon for any account of what they had heard ; 
but, on the contrary, blamed, if they had allowed their 
attention to be diverted by the reading from what they 
were about, to the detriment of their work. The real 
audience consisting of the few for whom the book had 
been specially chosen, should be required to give perfect 
and unbroken attention to what they heard ; to stop 
the reader always at any word or sentence they did not 
understand, and to be prepared for casual examination 
on the story next day. 

I say ' on the story I for the reading, whether poetry 
or prose, should always be a story of some sort, whether 
true history, travels, romance, or fairy-tale. In poetry, 
Chaucer, Spenser, and Scott, for the upper classes, 
lighter ballad or fable for the lower, contain always 
some thread of pretty adventure. No merely didactic 
or descriptive books should be permitted in the reading 
room, but so far as they are used at all, studied in the 
same way as grammars ; and Shakespeare, accessible 
always at play time in the library in small and large 
editions to the young and old alike, should never be used 
as a school book, nor even formally or continuously read 
aloud. He is to be known by thinking, not mouthing. 



Fors Clavigera. 263 

I have used, not unintentionally, the separate words 
1 reading room ' and library. No school should be con- 
sidered as organized at all, without these two rooms, 
rightly furnished ; the reading room, with its convenient 
pulpit and students' desks, in good light, skylight if 
possible, for drawing, or taking notes — the library with 
its broad tables for laying out books on, and recesses 
for niched reading, and plenty of lateral light kept 
carefully short of glare : both of them well shut off 
from the schoolroom or rooms, in which there must be 
always more or less of noise. 

The Bible-reading, and often that of other books in 
which the text is divided into verses or stanzas, should 
be frequently conducted by making the children read 
each its separate verse in important passages, afterwards 
committing them to memory, — the pieces chosen for 
this exercise should of course be the same at all schools, 
— with wider scope given within certain limits for 
choice in profane literature : requiring for a pass, that 
the children should know accurately out of the passages 
chosen, a certain number, including not less than five 
hundred lines, of such poetry as would always be helpful 
and strengthening to them ; therefore never melancholy, 
but didactic, or expressive of cheerful and resolute feeling. 

No discipline is. of more use to a child's character, with 
threefold bearing on intellect, memory, and morals, than 
the being accustomed to relate accurately what it has 
lately done and seen. The story of Eyes and No Eyes 



264 Fors Clavigera. 

in ' Evenings at Home ' is intended only to illustrate the 
difference between inattention and vigilance ; but the 
exercise in narration is a subsequent and separate one ; 
it is in the lucidity, completeness, and honesty of state- 
ment. Children ought to be frequently required to give 
account of themselves, though always allowed reserve, if 
they ask : " I would rather not say, mamma," should be 
accepted at once with serene confidence on occasion ; but 
of the daily walk and work the child should take pride in 
giving full account, if questioned ; the parent or tutor 
closely lopping exaggeration, investigating elision, guiding 
into order, and aiding in expression. The finest historical 
style may be illustrated in the course of the narration 
of the events of the day. 

Next, as regards arithmetic : as partly stated already 
in the preceding 'Fors,' p. 233, children's time should 
never be wasted, nor their heads troubled with it. The 
importance at present attached to it is a mere filthy 
folly, coming of the notion that every boy is to become 
first a banker's clerk and then a banker, — and that every 
woman's principal business is in checking the cook's 
accounts. Let children have small incomes of pence won 
by due labour, — they will soon find out the difference 
between a threepenny-piece and a fourpenny, and how 
many of each go to a shilling. Then, watch the way 
they spend their money,* and teach them patience in 

* Not in Mrs. Pardiggle's fashion : a child ought to have a certain sum given 
it to give away, and a certain sum to spend for itself wisely ; and it ought not 



Fors Clavigera. 26 







saving, and the sanctity of a time-honoured hoard (but 
for use in a day of need, not for lending at interest) ; 
so they will painlessly learn the great truth known to 
so few of us — that two and two make four, not five. 
Then insist on perfect habits of order and putting-by 
of things ; this involves continually knowing and 
counting how many there are. The multiplication 
table may be learned when they want it — a longish 
addition sum will always do instead ; and the mere 
mechanism of multiplication and division and dotting 
and carrying can be taught by the monitors ; also of 
fractions, as much as that \ means a half-penny and 
\ a farthing.* 

Next for geography. There is, I suppose, no subject 
better taught at elementary schools ; but to the pursuit 
of it, whether in advanced studentship or in common life, 
there is now an obstacle set so ludicrously insuperable, 
that for ordinary people it is simply an end to effort. I 
happen at this moment to have the first plate to finish for 
the ' Bible of Amiens,' giving an abstract of the features 
of France. I took for reduction, as of convenient size, 
probably containing all I wanted to reduce, the map in 
the ' Harrow Atlas of Modern Geography,' and found the 

to be allowed to give away its spending money. Prudence is a much more rare 
virtue than generosity. 

* I heard an advanced class tormented out of its life the other day at our 
school to explain the difference between a numerator and denominator. I 
wasn't sure myself, for the minute, which was which ; and supremely didn't 
care. 



266 Fors Clavigera. 

only clearly visible and the only accurately delineated 
things in it, were the railroads ! To begin with, there 
are two Mont Blancs, of which the freeborn British 
boy may take his choice. Written at some distance 
from the biggest of them, in small italics, are the 
words " Grand St. Bernard," which the boy cannot but 
suppose to refer to some distant locality ; but neither 
of the Mont Blancs, each represented as a circular pimple, 
is engraved with anything like the force and shade of 
the Argonne hills about Bar le Due ; while the southern 
chain of the hills of Burgundy is similarly repre- 
sented as greatly more elevated than the Jura. Neither 
the Rhine, Rhone, Loire, nor Seine is visible except 
with a lens ; nor is any boundary of province to be 
followed by the eye ; patches of feeble yellow and 
pale brown, dirty pink and grey, and uncertain green, 
melt into each other helplessly across wrigglings of 
infinitesimal dots ; while the railways, not merely 
black lines, but centipede or myriapede caterpillars, 
break up all France, as if it were crackling clay, into 
senseless and shapeless divisions, in which the eye 
cannot distinguish from the rest even the great lines 
of railway themselves, nor any relative magnitudes of 
towns, nor even their places accurately, — the measure 
of nonsense and misery being filled up by a mist of 
multitudinous names of places never heard of, much 
less 'spoken of, by any human being ten miles out of 
them. 



Fors Clavigera. 267 

For maps of this kind, there can be no question 
with any reasonable human creature that, first, proper 
physical maps should be substituted ; and secondly, 
proper historical ones ; the diagrams of the railways 
being left to Bradshaw ; and the fungus growths of 
modern commercial towns to the sellers of maps for 
counting-houses. And the Geological Society should, 
for pure shame, neither write nor speak another word, 
till it has produced effectively true models to scale 
of the known countries of the world. These, photo- 
graphed in good side light, would give all that was 
necessary of the proportion and distribution of moun- 
tain ranges ;* and these photographs should afterwards 
be made the basis of beautiful engravings, giving the 
character of every district completely, whether arable, 
wooded, rocky, moor, sand, or snow, with the carefullest 
and clearest tracing of the sources and descent of its 
rivers ; and, in equally careful distinction of magnitude, 
as stars on the celestial globe, the capitals and great 
provincial towns ; but absolutely without names or 
inscriptions of any kind. The boy who cannot, except 
by the help of inscription, know York from Lancaster, 
or Rheims from Dijon, or Rome from Venice, need 
not be troubled to pursue his geographical studies. 

* Of the cheap barbarisms and abortions of modern cram, the frightful 
method of representing mountain chains by black bars is about the most 
ludicrous and abominable. All mountain chains are in groups, not bars, 
and their watersheds are often entirely removed from their points of greatest 
elevation. 



268 Fors Clavigera. 

The keys to every map, with the names, should form 
part of the elementary school geography, which should 
be the same over the whole British Empire, and should 
be extremely simple and brief; concerning itself in no 
wise with manners and customs, number of inhabitants, 
or species of beasts, but strictly with geographical fact, 
completed by so much intelligible geology, as should 
explain whether hills were of chalk, slate, or granite, 
and remain mercifully silent as to whether they 
were Palaeo- or Kaino-zoic, Permian or Silurian. The 
age, or ages of the world, are not of the smallest 
consequence either to ants or myrmidons, — either to 
moths or men. But the ant and man must know 
where the world, now existent, is soft or flinty, cul- 
tivable or quarriable. 

Of course, once a system of drawing rightly made 
universal, the hand-colouring of these maps would be 
one of the drawing exercises, absolutely costless, and 
entirely instructive. The historical maps should also, 
as a matter of course, be of every county in successive 
centuries ; — the state of things in the nineteenth 
century being finally simplified into a general brown 
fog, intensified to blackness over the manufacturing 
centres. 

Next, in astronomy, the beginning of all is to teach 
the child the places and names of the stars when it 
can see them, and to accustom it to watch for the 
nightly change of those visible. The register of the 



Fors Clavigera. 269 

visible stars of first magnitude and planets should be 
printed largely and intelligibly for every day of the year, 
and set by the schoolmaster every day ; and the arc 
described by the sun, with its following and preceding 
stars, from point to point of the horizon visible at the 
place, should be drawn, at least weekly, as the first of 
the drawing exercises. 

These, connected on one side with geometry, on the 
other with writing, should be carried at least as far, and 
occupy as long a time, as the exercises in music ; and 
the relations of the two arts, and meaning of the words 
' composition,' * symmetry,' ' grace,' and ' harmony ' in 
both, should be very early insisted upon and illustrated. 
For all these purposes, every school should be furnished 
with progressive examples, in facsimile, of beautiful 
illuminated writing : for nothing could be more con- 
ducive to the progress of general scholarship and taste 
than that the first natural instincts of clever children 
for the imitation or, often, the invention of picture 
writing, should be guided and stimulated by perfect 
models in their own kind. 

The woodcut prefixed to this number shows very 
curiously what complete harmony there is between a 
clever child's way of teaching itself to draw and write — 
(and no teaching is so good for it as its own, if that can 
be had) — and the earliest types of beautiful national 
writing. The indifference as to the places of the letters, 
or the direction in which they are to be read, and the 

2ND SERIES.] 28 



270 Fors Clavigera. 

insertion of any that are to spare for the filling of corners 
or otherwise blank spaces in the picture, are exactly the 
modes of early writing which afterwards give rise to 
its most beautiful decorative arrangements — a certain 
delight in the dignity of enigma being always at the 
base of this method of ornamentation. The drawing 
is by the same little girl whose anxiety that her doll's 
dress might not hurt its feelings has been already 
described in my second lecture at Oxford, on the Art 
of England. This fresco, executed nearly at the same 
time, when she was six or seven years old, may be 
compared by antiquarians, not without interest, with 
early Lombardic MSS. It needs, I think, no farther 
elucidation than some notice of the difficulty caused 
by the substitution of T for J in the title of ' The 
Jug,' and the reversal of the letter Z in that of ' The 
Zebra,' and warning not to mistake the final E of ' The 
Cake ' for the handle of a spotted tea-cup. The most 
beautifully Lombardic involution is that of " The Fan," 
written — 

T N H 

E A q 

Next, for zoology, I am taking the initiative in what 
is required myself, by directing some part of the funds 
of the St. George's Guild to the provision of strongly 
ringed frames, large enough to contain the beautiful 
illustrations given by Gould, Audubon, and other such 



Fors Clavigera. 271 

naturalists ; and I am cutting my best books to pieces 
for the filling of these frames, which can be easily passed 
from school to school ; and I hope to prepare with speed 
a general text for them, totally incognisant of all quarrel 
or inquiry concerning species, and the origin thereof; 
but simply calling a hawk a hawk, and an owl an 
owl ; and trusting to the scholars' sagacity to see the 
difference ; but giving him all attainable information 
concerning the habits and talents of every bird and 
beast. 

Similarly in botany, for which there are quite unlimited 
means of illustration, in the exquisite original drawings 
and sketches of great botanists, now uselessly lying in 
inaccessible cupboards of the British Museum and other 
scientific institutions. But the most pressing need is 
for a simple handbook of the wild flowers of every 
country — French flowers for French children, Teuton 
for Teuton, Saxon for Saxon, Highland for Scot — 
severely accurate in outline, and exquisitely coloured by 
hand (again the best possible practice in our drawing 
schools) ; with a text regardless utterly of any but the 
most popular names, and of all microscopic observation ; 
but teaching children the beauty of plants as they grow> 
and their culinary uses when gathered, and that, except 
for such uses, they should be left growing. 

And lastly of needlework. I find among the materials 
of ' Fors,' thrown together long since, but never used, 
the following sketch of what the room of the Sheffield 



272 Fors Clavigera. 

Museum, set apart for its illustration, was meant to 
contain. 

" All the acicular art of nations, savage and civilized — 
from Lapland boot, letting in no snow water, to Turkey 
cushion bossed with pearl, — to valance of Venice gold 
in needlework, — to the counterpanes and samplers of our 
own lovely ancestresses — imitable, perhaps, once more, 
with good help from Whitelands College and Girton. 
It was but yesterday my own womankind were in 
much wholesome and sweet excitement, delightful to 
behold, in the practice of some new device of remedy 
for Rents (to think how much of evil there is in the 
two senses of that four-lettered word ! in the two 
methods of intonation of its synonym, Tear !), whereby 
it might be daintily effaced, and with a newness which 
would never make it worse. The process began — 
beautiful even to my uninformed eyes — in the likeness 
of herringbone masonry, crimson on white, but it 
seemed to me marvellous that anything should yet 
be discoverable in needle process, and that of so 
utilitarian character. 

" All that is reasonable, I say, of such work is to be in 
our first Museum room ; all that Athena and Penelope 
would approve. Nothing that vanity has invented for 
change, or folly loved for costliness. 

" Illustrating the true nature of a thread and a needle, 
the structure first of wool and cotton, of fur and hair 
and down, hemp, flax, and silk, microscope permissible, 




Fors Clavigera. 273 

here, if anything can be shown of why wool is soft, and 
fur fine, and cotton downy, and down downier ; and 
how a flax fibre differs from a dandelion stalk, and how 
the substance of a mulberry leaf can become velvet for 
Queen Victoria's crown, and clothing of purple for the 
housewife of Solomon. 

11 Then the phase of its dyeing. What azures and 
emeralds and Tyrian scarlets can be got into fibres of 
thread ! 

" Then the phase of its spinning. The mystery of that 
divine spiral, from finest to firmest, which renders lace 
possible at Valenciennes ; — anchorage possible, after 
Trafalgar, (if Hardy had done as he was bid). 

" Then the mystery of weaving. The eternal harmony 
of warp and woof; of all manner of knotting, knitting, 
and reticulation ; the art which makes garments possible 
woven from the top throughout ; draughts of fishes 
possible, miraculous enough, always, when a pilchard or 
herring shoal gathers itself into companionable catch- 
ableness ; — which makes, in fine, so many nations 
possible, and Saxon and Norman beyond the rest. 

" And, finally, the accomplished phase of needlework — 
the ' Acu Tetigisti ' of all time, which does indeed 
practically exhibit — what mediaeval theologists vainly 
disputed — how many angels can stand on a needle 
point, directing the serviceable stitch, to draw the 
separate into the inseparable." 

Very thankfully I can now say that this vision of 



274 Fors Clavigera. 

thread and needlework, though written when my fancy 
had too much possession of me, is now being in all 
its branches realized by two greatly valued friends, — 
the spinning on the old spinning-wheel, with most happy 
and increasingly acknowledged results, systematized here 
among our Westmorland hills by Mr. Albert Fleming ; 
the useful sewing, by Miss Stanley of Whitelands 
College, whose book on that subject seems to me in 
the text of it all that can be desired, but the diagrams 
of dress may perhaps receive further consideration. For 
indeed the schools of all young womankind are in great 
need of such instruction in dressmaking as shall comply 
with womankind's natural instinct for self-decoration in 
all worthy and graceful ways, repressing in the rich their 
ostentation, and encouraging in the poor their whole- 
some pride. On which matters, vital to the comfort and 
happiness of every household, I may have a word or 
two yet to say in next ' Fors ; ' being content that this 
one should close with the subjoined extract from a letter 
I received lately from Francesca's mother, who, if any 
one, has right to be heard on the subject of education ; 
and the rather that it is, in main purport, contrary 
to much that I have both believed and taught, but, 
falling in more genially with the temper of recent 
tutors and governors, may by them be gratefully acted 
upon, and serve also for correction of what I may 
have myself too servilely thought respecting the need 
of compulsion. 



Fors Clavigera. 275 

"If I have the least faculty for anything in this 
world, it is for teaching children, and making them 
good and perfectly happy going along. My whole prin- 
ciple is that no government is of the least use except 
self-government, and the worst children will do right, 
if told which is right and wrong, and that they must 
act for themselves. Then I have a fashion, told me 
by a friend when Francesca was a baby; which is this, 
— never see evil, but praise good ; for instance, if children 
are untidy, do not find fault, or appear to notice it, but 
the first time possible, praise them for being neat and 
fresh, and they will soon become so. I dare say you 
can account for this, I cannot ; but I have tried it many 
times, and have never known it fail. I have other ideas, 
but you might not approve of them, — the religious in- 
struction I limited to paying my little friends for learning 
Dr. Watts' " Though I'm now in younger days," but I 
suppose that, like my system generally, is hopelessly old 
fashioned. Very young children can learn this verse 
from it : — 

"Til not willingly offend, 
Nor be easily offended ; 
What's amiss I'll strive to mend, 
And endure what can't be mended.' 

There was an old American sea captain who said he 
had been many times round the world comfortably by 
the help of this verse." 



276 Fors Clavigera. 

The following letters necessitate the return to my old 
form of notes and correspondence ; but as I intend now 
the close of ' Fors ' altogether, that I may have leisure 
for some brief autobiography instead, the old book may 
be permitted to retain its colloquial character to the 
end. 

11 Woodburn, Selkirk, N.B., wth December, 1883. 

"Dear Sir, — The Ashesteil number of 'Fors' reaches me as I 
complete certain notes on the relationship of Scott to Mungo 
Park, which will form part of a History of Ettrick Forest, which I 
hope to publish in 1884. This much in explanation of my pre- 
sumption in writing you at all. 

" Having now had all the use of them I mean to take, I send 
you copies of three letters taken by myself from the originals 
— and never published until last year, in an obscure local 
print : — 

" 1. Letter from Mungo Park to his sister. 2. Letter from Scott 
to Mrs. Laidlaw, of Peel (close to Ashesteil), written after the 
bankruptcy of a lawyer brother of the African traveller had in- 
volved his entire family circle in ruin. The * merry friend ' is 
Archibald Park, brother of Mungo (see ' Lockhart,' ch. xiii.) It is 
he Sir Walter refers to in his story about the hot hounds entering 
Loch Katrine (see Introd. ' Lady of Lake.' 3. Letter to young 
Mungo Park, on the death of his father, the above Archibald. 

" I send you these because I know the perusal of letter No. 2 
will give you deep pleasure, and I owe you much. Nothing in 
Sir Walter's career ever touched me more. 

" May I venture a word for Mungo Park ? He brought my 
wife's aunt into this world in the course of his professional practice 
at Peebles j and I have heard about his work there. He was one 
of the most devoted, unselfish men that stood for Scott's hero — 
Gideon Gray. Apropos of which, a story. Park, lost on the 



Fors Clavigera. 277 

moors one wild night in winter, directed his horse to a distant 
light, which turned out to be the candle of a hill-shepherd's cot- 
tage. It so happened that the doctor arrived there in the nick of 
time, for the shepherd's wife was on the point of confinement. He 
waited till all was well over, and next morning the shepherd 
escorted him to where he could see the distant road. Park, 
noticing the shepherd lag behind, asked him the reason, on which 
the simple man replied — ' 'Deed sir, my wife said she was sure 
you must be an angel, and I think sa tae ; so I'm just keeping 
ahint, to be sure I'll see you flee up.' This I have from the 
nephew of Park's wife, himself a worthy old doctor and ex- 
provost of Selkirk. The first motive of Park's second journey 
may have been fame ; I am disposed to think it was. But I am 
sure if auri fames had anything to do with it, it was for his wife 
and children that he wanted it. Read his letters home, as I 
have done, and you will concede to the ill-fated man a character 
higher than last ' Fors ' accords him. 

" If you place any value on these letters, may I venture to ask 
you to discharge the debt by a copy of last F. C. with your 
autograph ? I am not ashamed to say I ask it in a spfrit of blind 
worship. 

" I shall not vex you by writing for your own eyes how much I 
honour and respect you ; but shall content myself with professing 
myself your obedient servant, 

" T. Craig-Brown." 



8th May, 1881. 
Copy of letters lent to me by Mr. Blaikie, Holydean, and taken 
by him from boxes belonging to late Miss Jane Park, niece of 
Mungo Park. 

1. Original letter from Mungo Park to his sister, Miss Bell 
Park, Hartwoodmires, near Selkirk. "Dear Sister, — I have 
not heard from Scotland since I left it, but I hope you are 



278 Fors Clavigera. 

all in good health, and I attribute your silence to the hurry of 
harvest. However, let me hear from you soon, and write how 
Sandy's marriage comes on, and how Jeany is, for I have heard 
nothing from her neither. I have nothing new to tell you. I am 
very busy preparing my book for the press, and all friends here 
are in good health. Mr. Dickson is running about, sometimes in 
the shop and sometimes out of it. Peggy is in very good health, 
and dressed as I think in a cotton gown of a bluish pattern ; a 
round-eared much, (sic, — properly mutch,) or what they call here a 
cap, with a white ribbon ; a Napkin of lawn or muslin, or some 
such thing; a white striped dimity petticoat. Euphy and bill 
(Bell or Bill ?) are both in very good health, but they are gone out 
to play, therefore I must defer a description of them till my next 
letter. — I remain, your loving brother, Mungo Park. — London, 
Sept. 21st, 1795. P.S. — Both Peggy and Mr. Dickson have been 
very inquisitive about you and beg their compliments to you." 

2. (Copy.) Letter from (Sir) Walter Scott to Mrs. Laidlaw, of 
Peel. (See 'Lockhart's Life,' chap, xvii., p. 164.) "My dear 
Mrs. Laidlaw, — Any remembrance from you is at all times most 
welcome to me. I have, in fact, been thinking a good deal about 
Mr. Park, especially about my good merry friend Archie, upon 
whom such calamity has fallen. I will write to a friend in 
London likely to know about such matters to see if possible to 
procure him the situation of an overseer of extensive farms in 
improvements, for which he is so well qualified. But success in 
this is doubtful, and I am aware that their distress must be 
pressing. Now, Waterloo has paid, or is likely to pay me a 
great deal more money than I think proper to subscribe for the 
fund for families suffering, and I chiefly consider the surplus as 
dedicated to assist distress or affliction. I shall receive my 
letter in a few days from the booksellers, and I will send Mr. 
Laidlaw care for £50 and three months, the contents to be 
applied to the service of Mr. Park's family. It is no great 



Fors Clavigera. 279 

sum, but may serve to alleviate any immediate distress ; and you 
can apply it as coming from yourself, which will relieve Park's 
delicacy upon the subject. I really think I will be able to hear 
of something for him ; at least it shall not be for want of asking 
about, for I will lug him in as a postscript to every letter I write. 
Will you tell Mr. Laidlaw with my best compliments — not that I 
have bought Kaeside, for this James will have told him already, 
but that I have every reason to think I have got it ^600 cheaper 
than I would at a public sale ? Mrs. Scott and the young people 
join in best compliments, and I ever am, dear Mrs. Laidlaw, very 
truly yours, Walter Scott. — Edinburgh, 20th Nov. (1815)." 

3. Letter (original) from Sir Walter Scott to Mr. Mungo Park, 
Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Oban. "Sir, — I was favoured with your 
very attentive letter conveying to me the melancholy intelligence 
that you have lost my old acquaintance and friend, your worthy 
father. I was using some interest to get him placed on the 
Superannuated Establishment of the Customs, but God has been 
pleased to render this unnecessary. A great charge devolves on 
you, sir, for so young a person, both for the comfort and support 
of his family. If you let me know your plans of life when settled, 
it is possible I may be of use to you in some shape or other, 
which I should desire in the circumstances, though my powers are 
very limited unless in the way of recommendation. I beg my 
sincere condolence may be communicated to your sister, who I 
understand to be a very affectionate daughter and estimable young 
person. I remain very much your obedient servant, Walter 
Scott. — Edinburgh, 17th May, 1820." 

I am greatly obliged to Mr. Brown for his own letter, 
and for those which I have printed above ; but have 
only to answer that no " word for Mungo Park " was 
the least necessary in reply to what I said of him, nor 
could any word in reply lessen its force, as far as it 



280 Fors Clavigera. 

goes. I spoke of him as the much regretted friend 
of Sir Walter Scott, and as a man most useful in his 
appointed place of a country physician. How useful, 
and honoured, and blessed that function was, nothing 
could prove more clearly than the beautiful fact of the 
shepherd's following him as an angel ; and nothing 
enforce more strongly my blame of his quitting that 
angel's work by Tweedside to trace the lonely brinks of 
useless rivers. The letter to his sister merely lowers 
my estimate of his general culture ; a common servant's 
letter home is usually more interesting, and not worse 
spelt. A ' sacred ' one to his wife, published lately by 
a rabid Scot in reply to the serene sentences of mine, 
which he imagines ' explosive ' like his own, need not be 
profaned by ' Fors' ' print. I write letters with more 
feeling in them to most of my good girl-friends, 
any day of the year, and don't run away from them to 
Africa afterwards. 

A letter from Miss Russell to the Scotsman, written 
soon after last ' Fors ' was published, to inform Scotland 
that Ashesteil was not a farm house, — (it would all, 
with the latest additions, go inside a Bernese farmer's 
granary) — that nobody it belonged to had ever done 
any farming, or anything else that was useful, — that 
Scott had been greatly honoured in being allowed a 
lease of it, that his study had been turned into a 
passage in the recent improvements, and that in the 
dining-room of it, Mrs. Siddons had called for beer, 



Fors Clavigera. 281 

may also be left to the reverential reading of the sub- 
scribers to the Scotsman ; — with this only question, from 
me, to the citizens of Dun Edin, What good is their 
pinnacle in Prince's Street, when they have forgotten 
where the room was, and corridor is, in which Scott 
wrote ' Marmion ' ? 



FORS CLAVIGERA. 

SECOND SERIES. 



"yea, thp: work of our hands, establish thou it." 



LETTER THE 96th. (terminal.) 
ROSY VALE. 

" QT. DAVID, having built a monastery near Meneira, 
which is from him since called St. David's, in a 
place called the Rosy Valley, (Vallis Rosina,) gave this 
strict rule of monastical profession, — ' That every monk 
should labour daily with his hands for the common 
good of the Monastery, according to the Apostle's say- 
ing, He that doth not labour, let him not eat. For 
those who spend their time in idleness debase their 
minds, which become unstable, and bring forth impure 
thoughts, which restlessly disquiet them.' The monks 
there refused all gifts or possessions offered by unjust 
men ; they detested riches ; they had no care to ease 
their labour by the use of oxen or other cattle, for 
every one was instead of riches and oxen to himself 
and his brethren. They never conversed together by 
talking but when necessity required, but each one per- 
formed the labour enjoined him, joining thereto prayer, 

2ND SERIES.] 20, 



284 Fo7's Clavigera. 

or holy meditations on Divine things : and having 
finished their country work, they returned to their 
monastery, where they spent the remainder of the day, 
till the evening, in reading or writing. In the evening, 
•at the sounding of a bell, they all left their work and 
immediately repaired to the church, where they remained 
till the stars appeared, and then went all together to 
their refection, eating sparingly and not to satiety, for 
any excess in eating, though it be only of bread, occa- 
sions luxury. Their food was bread with roots or herbs, 
seasoned with salt, and their thirst they quenched with 
a mixture of water and milk. Supper being ended, 
they continued about three hours in watching, prayers, 
and genuflexions. After this they went to rest, and at 
-cock-crowing they arose again, and continued at prayer 
till day appeared. All their inward temptations and 
thoughts they discovered to their superior. Their cloth- 
ing was of the skins of beasts. Whosoever desired to 
be admitted into their holy convocation was obliged to 
remain ten days at the door of the monastery as an 
offcast, unworthy to be admitted into their society, and 
there he was exposed to be scorned ; but if, during 
that time, he patiently endured that mortification, he 
was received by the religious senior who had charge of 
the gate, whom he served, and was by him instructed. 
In that condition he continued a long time, exercised 
in painful labours, and grievous mortifications, and at 
last was admitted to the fellowship of the brethren. 



Fors Clavigera. 285 

" This monastery appears to have been founded by 
St. David, some time after the famous British synod 
assembled in the year 519, for crushing of the Pelagian 
heresy, which began again to spread after it had been 
once before extinguished by St. Germanus, Bishop of 
Auxerre, and St. Lupus, Bishop of Troyes. This 
monastery is not taken notice of in the Monasticon, 
any more than the other two above, and for the same 
reason, as not coming within any of the orders after- 
wards known in England, and having had but a short 
continuance ; for what became of it, or when it finished, 
is not known." 

I chanced on this passage in the second volume of 
Dugdale's ' Monasticon,' as I was choosing editions of 
it at Mr. Ouaritch's, on one of the curious days which 
I suppose most people recognize as ■ white ' among the 
many-coloured ones of their lives ; that is to say, the 
days when everything goes well, by no management of 
their own. About the same time I received the following 
letter from a very old and dear friend : — 

"In an old 'Fors' you ask for information about 
Nanterre. If you have not had it already, here is 
some. As you know, it is in the plain between 
Paris, Sevres, and Versailles — a station on the Versailles 
line ; a little station, at which few persons ' descend,' 
and fewer still ascend ; the ladies of the still some- 
what primitive and rather ugly little village being 



286 Fors Clavigera. 

chiefly laundresses, and preferring, as I should in their 
place, to go to Paris in their own carts with the clean 
linen. Nanterre has, however, two notable transactions 
in its community. It makes cakes, sold in Paris as 
1 Gateaux de Nanterre,' and dear to childhood's souk 
And — now prick up your ears — it yearly elects a 
Rosiere. Not a high-falutin' aesthetic, self-conscious 
product, forced, and in an unsuitable sphere ; but a real 
Rosiere — a peasant girl, not chosen for beauty, or 
reading or writing, neither of which she may possibly 
possess ; but one who has in some signal, but simple, 
unself-conscious way done her duty in the state of life 
unto which it has pleased God to call her, — done it in 
the open, fresh air, and under the bright sun, in the 
1 fierce white light ' of village public opinion ; who is 
known to young and old, and has been known all 
her life. 

"She is crowned with roses in May, and has a portion 
of rather more than 1,000 francs. She is expected 
soon to marry, and carry on into, the higher functions 
of wife and mother the promise of her maidenhood." 

And with this letter came another, from Francesca,. 
giving me this following account of her servant 
Edwige's * native village. 

" I have been asking her about ' Le Rose ; ' she says 
it is such a pretty place, and the road has a hedge of 

* See ' Roadside Songs of Tuscany,' No. II., p. k 8o. 



Fors Clavigera. 287 

beautiful roses on each side, and there are roses about 

all the houses But now I can hardly finish my 

letter, for since she has begun she cannot stop running 
on about her birthplace, and I am writing in the midst 
of a long discourse about the chestnut-trees, and the high 
wooded hill, with the chapel of the Madonna at its 
summit, and the stream of clear water where she used 
to wash clothes, and I know not what else ! She has 
a very affectionate recollection of her childhood, poor 
as it was ; and I do think that the beautiful country 
in which she grew up gave a sort of brightness to her 
life. I am very thankful that her story is going to be 
printed, for it has been a help to me, and will be, I 
think, to others." 

Yes, a help, and better than that, a light, — as also this 
that follows, being an account just sent me by Francesca, 
of a Rosy Vale in Italy, rejoicing round its Living Rose. 

The Mother of the Orphans. 

" In the beautiful city of Bassano, on the Brenta, between 
the mountains and the plain, Signora Maria Zanchetta 
has passed the eighty-five years of her busy, happy, and 
useful life, bringing a blessing to all who have come 
near her, first in her own family, and afterwards, for the 
last forty-five years, to one generation after another of 
poor orphan girls, to whom she has been more than a 
mother. She always had, from childhood, as she herself 



288 Fors Clavigera. 

told me, a wish to enter a religious life, and her voca- 
tion seems to have been rather for the active than for 
the contemplative side of such a life. She belongs 
to an honourable family of Bassano, and appears to 
have had an especial love and reverence for her parents, 
whom she would never leave as long as they lived. 
After their death she continued to live with an invalid 
sister, Paola, whom she remembers always with great 
tenderness, and who is spoken of still, by those who 
knew her, as something very near a saint. 

" I have often wondered how much of Signora Maria's 
sweet and beautiful Christian spirit, which has brought 
comfort into hundreds of lives, may be owing to the 
influence of the saintly elder sister, whose helpless con- 
dition must have made her seem, to herself and others, 
comparatively useless in the world, but who lived always 
so very near to heaven ! After Paola died, Maria, being 
no longer needed at home, resolved to. give herself entirely 
to some charitable work, and her mind turned to the 
Girls' Orphan Asylum, close to her own house. Her 
brother and other relations would have preferred that 
she should have become a nun in one of those convents 
where girls of noble families are sent for education, con- 
sidering that such a life was more honourable,* and better 
suited to her condition. She told me this part of her 

* Let me earnestly pray the descendants of old Catholic families to think 
how constantly their pride, the primary mortal sin, has been the ruin of all 
they had most confidently founded it on, and all they strove to build on 
such foundation. 



Fors Clavigera. 289 

story herself, and added, ' In the convent I should have 
been paid for my work, but I wanted to serve the Lord 
without recompense in this world, and so I came here 
to the orphans.' There she has lived ever since, wear- 
ing the same dress as the poor girls* living their life, 
entering into all their pleasures, and troubles ; overseeing 
the washing, giving a hand to the mending, leading a 
humble, laborious life, full, one would think, of weari- 
some cares and burdens. A mother's burdens, without 
a mother's instinct to support them ; but still, if one may 
judge by her face, she has lived in perpetual sunshine. 
And how young she looks still ! She must have been 
a delicate blonde beauty in her youth, and she still 
retains a complexion like a sweet-briar rose, and her 
kind blue eyes are as clear and peaceful as an infant's. 
Her hair, still abundant as in youth, is quite white, and 
yet not like snow, unless it be snow with the evening 
sunshine upon it ; one sees in a moment that it has 
once been golden, and it is finer than anything that I 
ever saw, excepting thistledown. Her dress is of the 
poorest and plainest, and yet I cannot feel that she 
would be more beautiful in any other. A blue cotton 
dress, and cap of the same, with a handkerchief and 

* The good Superiora's example, comparing what we are told of the dress 
of the girls themselves at page 301, may well take the place of all I had 
to say in this last Fors, about dress, summed in the simple advice to all 
women of rank and wealth, — Till you can dress your poor beautifully, dres.s 
yourselves plainly ; till you can feed all your poor healthily, live yourselves 
like the monks of Vallis Rosina, and the message of Fors is ended. 



290 Fors Clavigera. 

apron, such as are worn by the contadine, nothing else ; 
but all arranged with scrupulous neatness. There is 
nothing monastic in the dress, nor in the life. Signora 
Maria is free to stay or go as she will ; she is bound 
by no vow, belongs to no order ; there has been nothing 
but the love of God, and of the poor children, to hold 
her to her place all these long years. She has some 
property, but she leaves the use of it to her family, 
taking for herself only just what is sufficient for her 
own maintenance in the asylum, that she may not take 
anything from the orphans. I had long wished to know 
this good Signora Maria, and finally, last May, I had 
the great pleasure of seeing her. I had sent to ask at 
what hour she could see me, to which she replied, ' Any 
time after six in the morning,' which I thought was 
pretty well for eighty-five ! 

" When, the next morning, I went with Edwige to the 
orphan asylum, and we entered the very modest little 
bottega, as they call it, with its low ceiling and counter, 
where they sell artificial flowers, and certain simple 
medicines of their own preparing, in which the Bassano 
people have great faith ; and where also they receive 
orders for ornamental laundry-work, and for embroidery 
of a religious description,* — when, as I was saying, we 
entered this room, half-a-dozen elderly women were 
standing talking together, all in the same old-fashioned 

* I should be inclined considerably to modify these directions of industry, 
in the organization of similar institutions here. 



Fors Clavigera. 291 

blue dresses. I asked if I could see the superiora, at 
which this very pretty and young-looking lady came 
forward ; and I, not dreaming that she could be the 
aged saint for whom I was looking, repeated my 
question. ' A servirla ! ' she replied. I was obliged to 
explain the astonishment, which I could not conceal, 
by saying, that I had expected to see a much older 
Jady. ' I am old,' she answered, ' but I have good 
health, thank the Lord ! ' And then she led us through 
the room where a number of girls were doing the 
peculiar laundry-work of which I have spoken, — one 
•cannot call it ironing, for no iron is used about it ;* 
but with their fingers, and a fine stick kept for the 
purpose, they work the starched linen into all kinds of 
delicate patterns. They all rose and bowed politely as 
we passed, and then the old lady preceded us up the 
stone staircase (which she mounted so rapidly that she 
left us some way behind her), and conducted us to a 
pleasant upper chamber, where we all sat down together. 
On this day, and on those following when I was taking 
her portrait, I gathered many particulars of her own life, 
and also about the institution, which I must write down 
one by one as I can remember them, for I find it 
impossible to arrange them in any order. She told me 
that they were in all seventy-five, between women and 

* I italicize here and there a sentence that might otherwise escape notice 
I might italicize the whole text, if I could so express my sympathy with 
:all it relates. 



292 Fors Clavigera. 

girls. Every girl taken into the institution has a right 
to a home in it for life, if she will ; and many never 
choose to leave it, or if they do leave it they return to 
it ; but others have married, or gone to service, or to 
live with their relations. Once, many years ago, she 
had seven little slave girls, put temporarily under her 
care by a good missionary who had bought them in 
Africa. She seems to have a peculiar tenderness in 
her remembrance of the poor little unbaptized savages. 
' The others call me Superiora,' she said, ' but they 
used to call me Mamma Maria.' And her voice softened 
to more than its usual gentleness as she said those 
words. 

" And now I must leave the dear old lady for a 
moment, to repeat what Silvia told me once about those 
same little slave girls. It was a warm summer's evening, 
and Silvia and I were sitting, as we often do, on the broad 
stone steps of the Rezzonico Palace, between the two 
immense old stone lions that guard the door ; and watch- 
ing the sunset behind the mountains. And Silvia was 
telling me how, when she was a very small child, those 
little African girls were brought to the house, and what 
wild black faces they had, and what brilliant eyes. As 
they were running about the wide lawn behind Palazzo 
Rezzonico (which stands in a retired country place about 
a mile from the city), they caught sight of those stone 
lions by the door, and immediately pressed about them,, 
and fell to embracing them, as if they had been dear 



Fors Clavigera. 293 

friends, and covered them with tears and kisses ; * and 
Silvia thought that they were thinking of their own 
country, and perhaps of lions which they had seen in 
their African deserts. I asked Signora Maria if she knew 
what had become of those poor girls. She said that she 
had heard that two of them afterwards entered a convent ; 
but she had lost sight of them all for many years ; and, 
indeed, they had only remained in Bassano for five months. 
" While I was drawing the old lady's portrait, a tall, 
strong, very pleasant-looking woman of fifty or so 
came in and stood beside me. She wore the same 
dress as the Superiora, excepting that she had no cap, 
nor other covering for her wavy black hair, which was 
elaborately braided, and knotted up behind, in the 
fashion commonly followed by the contadine in this 
part of the country. She had very bright eyes, in 
which a smile seemed to have taken up its permanent 
abode, even when the rest of her face was serious. Her 
voice was soft, — there seems to be something in the 
atmosphere of that orphanage which makes everybody's 
voice soft ! — but her movements were rapid and ener- 
getic, and she evidently had a supply of vigour and 
spirit sufficient for half-a-dozen, at least, of average 
women. She was extremely interested in the progress 
of the picture, (which she said was as much like the 

* This is to me the most lovely and the most instructive fact I ever heard, in 
its witness to the relations that exist between man and the inferior intelligences 
of creation. 



294 • Fors Clavigera. 

Superiora as anything could be that was sitting still), 
but it was rather a grievance to her that the old 
lady would be taken in her homely dress. ' Come 
now, you might wear that other cap ! ' she said, 
bending over the little fair Superiora, putting her 
strong arm very softly around her neck, and speaking 
coaxingly as if to a baby ; then looking at me : ' She 
has such a pretty cap, that I made up for her myself, 
and she will not wear it ! ' ' I wear it when I go 
out,' said Signora Maria, 'but I would rather have 
my likeness in the dress that I always wear at home.' 
I, too, said that I ' would rather draw her just as she 
was. ' I suppose you are right/ said the younger 
woman, regretfully, ' but she is so much prettier in 
that cap ! ' I thought her quite pretty enough in the 
old blue cap, and kept on with my work. Meanwhile 
I asked some questions about the institution. Signora 
Maria said that it was founded in the last century by 
a good priest, D. Giorgio Pirani, and afterwards farther 
endowed by D. Marco Cremona, whom she had herself 
known in his old age. How old this D. Marco was 
she could not remember ; a cast of his face, which 
she afterwards showed me, and which she told me was 
taken after his death, represented a very handsome, 
benevolent-looking man, of about seventy, but I imagine 
(judging from the rest of the conversation) that he 
must have been much older. She told me that the 
founder, D. Giorgio, having inherited considerable pro- 



Fors Clavigera. % 295 

perty, and having no relations that needed it, had 
bought the land and three or four houses, which he 
had thrown into one ; and had given it all for poor 
orphan girls of Bassano. 

"The place accommodates seventy-five girls and women, 
and is always full. Thirty centimes a day are allowed 
for the maintenance of each girl, and were probably 
sufficient in D. Giorgio's time, but times have changed 
since then. However, they do various kinds of work, 
principally of a religious or ecclesiastical nature, making 
priests' dresses, or artificial flowers for the altar, or 
wafers to be used at the communion ; besides sewing, 
knitting, and embroidery of all kinds ; and the women 
work for the children, and the whole seventy- five live 
together in one affectionate and united family. The old 
lady seemed very fond of her ' tose,' as she calls the 
girls, and said that they also loved her, — which I 
should think they would, for a more entirely loveable 
woman it would be hard to find. 

" She has the delightful manners of an old-fashioned 
Venetian, full of grace, sweetness, and vivacity, and 
would think that she failed in one of the first Christian 
duties if she did not observe all the laws of politeness. 
She never once failed, during our rather frequent visits at 
the institution, to come downstairs to meet us, receiving 
me always at the outside door with a kiss on both 
cheeks ; and when we came away she would accompany 
us into the cortile, and stand there, taking leave, with 



296 , Fors Clavigera. 

the sun on her white hair. When, however, she found 
this last attention made me rather uncomfortable, she 
desisted ; for her politeness being rather of the heart 
than of etiquette, she never fails in comprehending 
and considering the feelings of those about her. 

"But to return to our conversation. The woman 
with the black, wavy hair, whose name was, as I found 
out, Annetta, remarked, with regard to the good Don 
Giorgio Pirani, that ' he died so young, poor man ! ' 
As it seemed he had accomplished a good deal in his 
life, I was rather surprised, and asked, ' How young ? ' 
To which she replied, in a tone of deep compassion, 
i Only seventy-five, poor man ! But then he had worn 
himself out with the care of the institution, and he had 
a great deal of trouble.' Annetta calculated age in the 
Bassano fashion ; in this healthy air, and with the 
tisually simple habits of life of the people, longevity is 
the rule, and not the exception. The portrait of Don 
Giorgio's mother hangs beside his in the refectory, 
with an inscription stating that it was painted ' in the 
year of her age eighty-nine ' ; also that her name was 
Daciana Pirani, and that she assisted her two sons, 
Giorgio and Santi, in their charitable work for the 
orphans. The picture itself bears the date 1774, and 
represents a fresh-coloured, erect, very pleasant-looking 
lady, with bright, black eyes, very plainly dressed in a 
long-waisted brown gown and blue apron, with a little 
dark-coloured cap, which time has rendered so indistinct 






Fors Clavigera. 297 

that I cannot quite make out the fashion of it. A plain 
handkerchief, apparently of fine white linen, is folded 
over her bosom, and her arms are bare to the elbows, 
with a fine Venetian gold chain wound several times 
around one of them, — her only ornament, excepting her 
little round earrings. She is .standing by a table, on 
which are her crucifix, prayer-book, and rosary. The 
Superiora told me that when Don Giorgio was engaged 
in building and fitting up his asylum, sometimes at the 
table his mother would observe that he was absent and 
low-spirited, and had little appetite, at which she would 
ask him anxiously, ' What ails you, my son ? ' and he 
would reply, ' I have no more money for my workmen.' 
At this she always said, ' Oh, if that is all, do not be 
troubled ! I will see to it!' And, rising from the table, 
she would leave the room, to return in a few minutes 
with a handful of money, sufficient for the immediate 
expenses. Don Giorgio himself must have had, if his 
portrait tells the truth, a singularly kind, sensible, and 
cheerful face, with more regular beauty than Don Marco 
Cremona, but less imposing, with dark eyes and white 
curling hair. Of Santi Pirani I could learn nothing, 
excepting that he was a priest, an excellent man, and 
his brother's helper. 

"But to return to what I was saying about the Bassano 
fashion of reckoning age. It is not long since a Bassano 
gentleman, himself quite a wonderful picture of vigorous 
health, was complaining to me that the health of the 



Fors Clavigera. 



cb 



city was not what it used to be. ' Indeed,' he said, 
with the air of one bringing forward an unanswerable 
proof of his assertion, ' at this present time, among all 
my acquaintances, I know only one man past a hundred I 
My father knew several ; but now they all seem to drop 
off between eighty and ninety.' And he shook his head 
sadly. I asked some questions about his centenarian 
friend, and was told that he was a poor man, and lived, 
on charity. ' We all give to him,' he said ; ' he always- 
worked as long as he could, and at his age we do not 
think it ought to be expected of him.' 

" As nearly as I can understand, people here begin to 
be considered elderly when they are about eighty, but 
those who die before ninety are thought to have died 
untimely. Signora Maria's family had an old servant, 
by name Bartolo Mosca, who lived with them for seventy- 
two years. He entered their service at fourteen, and left 
it (for a better world, I hope) at eighty-six. He was 
quite feeble for some time before he died, and his master 
kept a servant expressly to wait upon him. A woman 
servant, Maria Cometa, died in their house of nearly the 
same age, having passed all her life in their service. 

" I was much interested in observing Annetta's be- 
haviour to her Superiora ; it was half reverential, half 
caressing. I could hardly tell whether she considered 
the old lady as a patron saint or a pet child. Anxious 
to know what was the tie between them, I asked 
Annetta how long she had been in the place. She did 



Fors Clavigera. 299 

a little cyphering on her fingers, and then said, ' Forty 
years.' In answer to other questions, she told me that 
her father and mother had both died within a few weeks 
of each other, when she was a small child, the youngest 
of seven ; and her uncle, finding himself left with the 
burden of so large a family on his shoulders, had thought 
well to relieve himself in part by putting the smallest 
and most helpless ' with the orphans.' ( She has been 
my mother ever since/ she said, dropping her voice, and 
laying her hand on the little old lady's shoulder. She 
added that some of her brothers had come on in the 
world, and had wished to take her home, and that she 
had gone at various times and stayed in their families, 
but that she had always come back to her place in the 
institution, because she could never be happy, for any 
length of time, anywhere else. I asked if the girls whom 
they took in were generally good, and repaid their kind- 
ness as they should do, to which the old lady replied, 
1 Many of them do, and are a great comfort ; but others 
give us much trouble. What can we do ? We must 
have patience ; we are here on purpose.' ' Besides,' 
said Annetta, cheerfully, ' it would never do for us to 
have all our reward in this world ; if we did, we could 
not expect any on the other side.' 

" The Superiora told me many interesting stories about 
the institution, and of the bequests that had been left to it 
by various Bassano families, of which the most valuable 
appeared to be sonie land in the country with one or two 

2ND SERIES.] "2Q 



300 Fors Clavigera. 

contadine houses, where the girls are sent occasionally to 
pass a day in the open air and enjoy themselves. Many 
families had bequeathed furniture and pictures to the insti- 
tution, so that one sees everywhere massive nutwood chairs 
and tables, carved and inlaid, all of old republican* times. 
One picture, of which I do not recollect the date, but it 
is about two hundred years old, I should think, represents 
a young lady with fair curls, magnificently dressed in 
brocade and jewels, by name Maddalena Bernardi, who 
looks always as if wondering at the simple unworldliness 
of the life about her ; and beside her hangs the last of 
her race (her son, I suppose, for he is much like her in 
feature ; but no one knows now), a poor Franciscan 
frate, ' Who did a great deal for the orphans,' Signora 
Maria says. Next to the frate, between him and good 
Don Giorgio, she showed me a Venetian senator, all 
robe and wig, with a face like nobody in particular, 
scarlet drapery tossed about in confusion, and a back- 
ground of very black thunder-clouds. ' This picture,' she 
said, 'was left us by the Doge Erizzo, and represents one 
of his family. He left us also a hundred and twenty 
staia of Indian corn and two barrels of wine yearly, and 
we still continue to receive them.' She showed me also 
a room where the floor was quite covered with heaps of 
corn, saying, ' I send it to be ground as we need it ; 
but it will not last long, there are so many mouths ! ' 

* Old stately times, Francesca means, when Bassano and Castelfranco, 
Padua and Verona, were all as the sisters of Venice. 



Fors Clavigera. 301 

" During the many days that I visited Signora Maria, 
I noticed several things which seemed to me different 
from other orphan asylums which I have seen. To be 
sure I have not seen a great many ; but from what 
little I have been able to observe, I have taken an im- 
pression that orphan girls usually have their hair cut 
close to their heads, and wear the very ugliest clothes 
that can possibly be obtained, and that their clothes are 
made so as to fit no one in particular. Also I think 
that they are apt to look dull and dispirited, with a 
general effect of being educated by machinery, which is 
not pleasant. Signora Maria's little girls, on the con- 
trary, are made to look as pretty as is possible in the 
poor clothes, which are the best that can be afforded 
for them. Their cotton handkerchiefs are of the gayest 
patterns, their hair is arranged becomingly, so as to 
make the most of the light curls of one, or the heavy 
braids of another, and most of them wear little gold 
earrings. And if one speaks to them, they answer with 
a pleasant smile, and do not seem frightened. I do 
not think that the dear old lady keeps them under an 
iron rule, by any means. Another thing which I noticed 
was that while many of the younger children, who had 
been but a little while in the place, looked rather sickly, 
and showed still the marks of poverty and neglect, the 
older girls, who had been there for several years, had, 
almost without exception, an appearance of vigorous 
health. It was my good fortune to be there once on 



302 Fors Clavigera. 

washing-day, when a number of girls, apparently from 
fifteen to twenty years old, bare-armed (and some of 
them bare-footed), were hanging out clothes to dry in 
the cortile ; and such a picture of health and beauty 
I have seldom seen, nor such light, strong, rapid move- 
ments, nor such evident enjoyment of their work. 

" Next to the room where I did most of my work was 
a long narrow room where many of the women and 
elder girls used to work together. An inscription in 
large black letters hung on the wall, ' Silentium.' I 
suppose it must have been put there with an idea of 
giving an orderly conventual air to the place ; perhaps it 
may have served that purpose, it certainly did no other ! 
The door was open between us, and the lively talking 
that went on in that room was incessant. Once the old 
lady by my side called to them, ' Tose ! ' and I thought 
that she was calling them to order, but it proved that she 
only wanted to have a share in the conversation. When 
not sitting for her portrait she used to sew or knit, as 
she sat beside me. She could do beautiful mending, 
and never wore spectacles. She told me that she had 
worn them until a few years before, when her sight had 
come back quite strong as in yojttJi. 

" But I must allow, in speaking of my friends of 
the orphan asylum, that some of their religious obser- 
vances are a little . . . peculiar. In the large garden, 
on the side where Signora Maria has her flower border 
(' We cannot afford much room for flowers,' Annetta 



Fors Clavigera. 303 

says, ' but they are the delight of the Superiora ! ') 
is a long walk under a canopy of grape-vines, leading 
to a niche where stands, under the thick shade, a large 
wooden Madonna of the Immaculate Conception. She 
is very ugly, and but a poor piece of carving ; a 
stout, heavy woman in impossible drapery, and with 
no expression whatsoever. The seven stars (somewhat 
rusty and blackened by the weather) are arranged 
on a rather too conspicuous piece of wire about the 
head. The last time I saw her, however, she had 
much improved, if not in beauty or sanctity, at least 
in cleanliness of appearance, which Annetta accounted 
for by saying complacently : ■ I gave her a coat of 
white paint myself, oil paint ; so now she will look 
well for a long time to come, and the rain will not 
hurt her.' I observed that some one had placed a 
rose in the clumsy wooden hand, and that her ears 
were ornamented with little garnet earrings. Annetta 
said, ' The girls put together a few soldi and bought those 
earrings for the Madonna. They are very cheap ones, 
and I bored the holes in her ears myself with a gimlet.' 
Before this Madonna the girls go on summer afternoons 
to sing the litanies, and apparently find their devotion 
in no way disturbed by the idea of Annetta's tinkering. 
She seems to do pretty much all the carpentering and 
repairing that are wanted about the establishment, and 
is just as well pleased to ' restore ' the Madonna as 
anything else, I was very sorry, at last, when the time 



304 Fors Clavigera. 

came to say good-bye to the peaceful old house and 
its inmates. The Superiora, on the occasion of her last 
sitting, presented me with a very pretty specimen of 
the girls' work — a small pin-cushion, surrounded with 
artificial flowers, and surmounted by a dove, with 
spread wings, in white linen, its shape, and even 
feathers, quite wonderfully represented by means of 
the peculiar starching process which I have tried to 
describe. I can only hope that the dear old lady may 
be spared to the utmost limit of life in Bassano, which 
would give her many years yet, for it is sad to think 
of the change that must come over the little community 
when she is taken away. She is still the life of the 
house ; her influence is everywhere. She reminds me 
always of the beautiful promise, ' They shall yet bear 
fruit in old age.' Once I was expressing to her my 
admiration for the institution, and she said, 'It is a 
happy institution.' And so it is, but it is she who has 
made it so." 

This lovely history, of a Jife spent in the garden of 
God, sums, as it illumines, all that I have tried to 
teach in the series of letters which I now feel that 
it is time to close. 

The " Go and do thou likewise," which every kindly 
intelligent spirit cannot but hear spoken to it, in each 
sentence of the quiet narrative, is of more searching 
and all-embracing urgency than any appeal I have 



Fors Clavioera. 305 

dared to make in my own writings. Looking back 
upon my efforts for the last twenty years, I believe 
that their failure has been in very great part owing 
to my compromise with the infidelity of this outer 
world, and my endeavour to base my pleading upon 
motives of ordinary prudence and kindness, instead of 
on the primary duty of loving God, — foundation other 
than which can no man lay. I thought myself 
speaking to a crowd which could only be influenced 
by visible utility ; nor was I the least aware how 
many entirely good and holy persons were living in the 
faith and love of God as vividly and practically 
now as ever in the early enthusiasm of Christendom, 
until, chiefly in consequence of the great illnesses which, 
for some time after 1878, forbade my accustomed literary 
labour, I was brought into closer personal relations 
with the friends in America, Scotland, Ireland, and 
Italy, to whom, if I am spared to write any record 
of my life, it will be seen that I owe the best hopes 
and highest thoughts which have supported and guided 
the force of my matured mind. These have shown 
me, with lovely initiation, in how many secret places 
the prayer was made which I had foolishly listened 
for at the corners of the streets ; and on how many 
hills which I had thought left desolate, the hosts of 
heaven still moved in chariots of fire. 

But surely the time is come when all these faithful 
armies should lift up the standard of their Lord, — not 



306 Fors Clavigera. 

by might, nor by power, but by His spirit, bringing 
forth judgment unto victory. That they should no 
more be hidden, nor overcome of evil, but overcome 
evil with good. If the enemy cometh in like a flood, 
how much more may the rivers of Paradise ? Are 
there not fountains of the great deep that open to 
bless, not destroy ? 

And the beginning of blessing, if you will think of 
it, is in that promise, " Great shall be the peace of 
thy children." All the world is but as one orphanage, 
so long as its children know not God their Father ; 
and all wisdom and knowledge is only more bewildered 
darkness, so long as you have not taught them the 
fear of the Lord. 

Not to be taken out of the world in monastic 
sorrow, but to be kept from its evil in shepherded 
peace ; — ought not this to be done for all the children 
held at the fonts beside which we vow, in their name, 
to renounce the world ? Renounce ! nay, ought we 
not, at last, to redeem ? 

The story of Rosy Vale is not ended ; — surely out 
of its silence the mountains and the hills shall break 
forth into singing, and round it the desert rejoice, and 
blossom as the rose ! 



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