The Life of John Ruskin
W. G. Collingwood

Part 3 out of 6

"The Early Italian Poets," up to L100, with Smith and Elder; and
endeavoured, but unsuccessfully, to induce Thackeray to find a place for
other poems in _The Cornhill Magazine._

Mr. W.M. Rossetti, in his book on his brother "as Designer and Writer"
and in his "Family Letters," draws a pleasant picture of the intimacy
between the artist and the critic. "At one time," he says, "I am sure
they even loved one another." But in 1865 Rossetti, never very tolerant
of criticism and patronage, took in bad part his friend's remonstrances
about the details of "Venus Verticordia." Eighteen months later, Ruskin
tried to renew the old acquaintance. Rossetti did not return his call;
and further efforts on Ruskin's part, up to 1870, met with little
response. But the lecture on Rossetti in "The Art of England" shows that
on one side at least "their parting," as Mr. W.M. Rossetti says, "was
not in anger;" and the portrait of 1861, now in the Oxford University
Galleries, will remain as a memorial of the ten years' friendship of the
two famous men.

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

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

As a teacher, Ruskin spared no pains to make the work interesting. He
provided--Mr. E. Cooke informs me that he was the first to
provide--casts from natural leaves and fruit in place of the ordinary
conventional ornament; and he sent a tree to be fixed in a corner of the
class-room for light and shade studies. Mr. W. Ward in the preface to
the volume of letters already quoted says that he used to bring his
minerals and shells, and rare engravings and drawings, to show them.

"His delightful way of talking about these things afforded us most
valuable lessons. To give an example: he one evening took for his
subject a cap, and with pen and ink showed us how Rembrandt would have
etched, and Albert Duerer engraved it. This at once explained to us the
different ideas and methods of the two masters. On another evening he
would take a subject from Turner's 'Liber Studiorum,' and with a large
sheet of paper and some charcoal, gradually block in the subject,
explaining at the same time the value and effect of the lines and

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

His object in the work, as he said before the Royal Commission on
National Institutions, was _not to make artists_, but to make the
workmen better men, to develop their powers and feelings,--to educate
them, in short. He always has urged young people intending to study art
as a profession to enter the Academy Schools, as Turner and the
Pre-Raphaelites did, or to take up whatever other serious course of
practical discipline was open to them. But he held very strongly that
everybody could learn drawing, that their eyes could be brightened and
their hands steadied, and that they could be taught to appreciate the
great works of nature and of art, without wanting to make pictures or to
exhibit and sell them.

It was with this intention that he wrote the "Elements of Drawing" in
1856, supplemented by the "Elements of Perspective" in 1859; the
illustrations for the book were characteristic sketches by the author,
beautifully cut by his pupil, W.H. Hooper, who was one of a band of
engravers and copyists formed by these classes at the Working Men's
College. In spite of the intention not to make artists by his teaching,
Ruskin could not prevent some of his pupils from taking up art as a
profession; and those who did so became, in their way, first-rate men.
George Allen as a mezzotint engraver, Arthur Burgess as a draughtsman
and wood-cutter, John Bunney as a painter of architectural detail, W.
Jeffery as an artistic photographer, E. Cooke as a teacher, William Ward
as a facsimile copyist, have all done work whose value deserves
acknowledgment, all the more because it was not aimed at popular effect,
but at the severe standard of the greater schools. But these men were
only the side issue of the Working Men's College enterprise. Its real
result was in the proof that the labouring classes could be interested
in Art; and that the capacity shown by the Gothic workman had not
entirely died out of the nation, in spite of the interregnum, for a full
century, of manufacture. And the experience led Ruskin forward to wider
views on the nature of the arts, and on the duties of philanthropic
effort and social economy.



It was in the year 1855 that Ruskin first published "Notes on the Royal
Academy and other Exhibitions." He had been so often called upon to
write his opinion of Pre-Raphaelite pictures, either privately or to
the newspapers, or to mark his friends' catalogues, that he found at
last less trouble in printing his notes once for all. The new plan was
immediately popular; three editions of the pamphlet were called for
between June 1 and July 1. Next year he repeated the "Notes" and six
editions were sold.

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

But at the same time the movement gave rise to the Naturalist-landscape
school, a group of painters who threw overboard the traditions of Turner
and Prout, Constable and Harding, and the rest, just as the
Pre-Raphaelite Brethren threw over the Academical masters. For such men
their study was their picture; they devised tents and huts in wild glens
and upon waste moors, and spent weeks in elaborating their details
directly from nature, instead of painting at home from sketches on the

This was the fulfilment of his advice to young artists; and so far as
young artists worked in this way, for purposes of study, he encouraged
them. But he did not fail to point out that this was not all that could
be required of them. Even such a work as Brett's "Val d'Aosta,"
marvellous as it was in observation and finish, was only the beginning
of a new era, not its consummation. It was not the painting of detail
that could make a great artist; but the knowledge of it, and the
masterly use of such knowledge. A great landscapist would know the facts
and effects of nature, just as Tintoret knew the form of the human
figure; and he would treat them with the same freedom, as the means of
expressing great ideas, of affording by the imagination noble grounds
for noble emotion, which, as Ruskin had been writing at Vevey in 1854,
was poetry. Meanwhile the public and the critic ought to become familiar
with the aspects of nature, in order to recognise the difference between
the true poetry of painting, and the mere empty sentimentalism which was
only the rant and bombast of landscape art.

With such feelings as these he wrote the third and fourth volumes of
"Modern Painters," (published respectively January 15 and April 14,
1856). The work was afterwards interrupted only by a recurrence of his
old cough, in the exceptionally cold summer of 1855. He went down to
Tunbridge Wells, where his cousin, William Richardson of Perth, was
practising as a doctor; it was not long before the cough gave way to
treatment, and he was as busy as ever. About October of that year he
wrote to Mrs. Carlyle as follows, in a letter printed by Professor C.E.
Norton, conveniently summing up his year:

"Not that I have not been busy--and very busy, too. I have written,
since May, good six hundred pages, had them rewritten, cut up,
corrected, and got fairly ready for press--and am going to press
with the first of them on Gunpowder Plot day, with a great hope of
disturbing the Public Peace in various directions. Also, I have
prepared above thirty drawings for engravers this year, retouched
the engravings (generally the worst part of the business), and
etched some on steel myself. In the course of the six hundred pages
I have had to make various remarks on German Metaphysics, on
Poetry, Political Economy, Cookery, Music, Geology, Dress,
Agriculture, Horticulture, and Navigation,[6] all of which subjects
I have had to 'read up' accordingly, and this takes time. Moreover,
I have had my class of workmen out sketching every week in the
fields during the summer; and have been studying Spanish proverbs
with my father's partner, who came over from Spain to see the
Great Exhibition. I have also designed and drawn a window for the
Museum at Oxford; and have every now and then had to look over a
parcel of five or six new designs for fronts and backs to the said

[Footnote 6: Most of these subjects will be easily recognised in
"Modern Painters," Vols. III. and IV. The "Navigation" refers to
the "Harbours of England."]

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

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

The tone of humorous exaggeration of his discoveries and occupations was
very characteristic. But he was then growing into the habit of leaving
the matter in hand, as he often did afterwards, to follow side issues,
and to take up new studies with a hasty and divided attention; the
result of which was seen in his sub-title for the third volume of
"Modern Painters"--"Of Many Things"; which amused his readers not a
little. But that he still had time for his friends is seen in the
account of a visit to Denmark Hill, written this year by James Smetham.

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

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

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

And yet there were many with whom he had to deal who did not look at
things in his light; who took his criticism as personal attack, and
resented it with bitterness. There is a story told (but not by himself)
about one of the "Notes on the Academy," which he was then
publishing--how he wrote to an artist therein mentioned that he
regretted he could not speak more favourably of his picture, but he
hoped it would make no difference in their friendship. The artist
replied (so they say) in these terms: "Dear Ruskin,--Next time I meet
you, I shall knock you down; but I hope it will make no difference in
our friendship." "Damn the fellow! why doesn't he stand up for his
friends?" said another disappointed acquaintance. Perhaps Ruskin, secure
in his "house with a lodge, and a valet and footman and coachman,"
hardly realized that a cold word from his pen sometimes meant the
failure of an important Academy picture, and serious loss of
income--that there was bitter truth underlying _Punch's_ complaint of
the Academician:

"I paints and paints.
Hears no complaints,
And sells before I'm dry;
Till savage Ruskin
Sticks his tusk in,
And nobody will buy."

Against these incidents should be set such an anecdote as the following,
told by Mr. J.J. Ruskin in a letter of June 3, 1858:

"Vokins wished me to name to you that Carrick, when he read your
criticism on 'Weary Life,' came to him with the cheque Vokins had
given, and said your remarks were all right, and that he could not
take the price paid by Vokins the buyer; he would alter the
picture. Vokins took back the money, only agreeing to see the
picture when it was done."

John Ruskin in reply said he did not see why Carrick should have
returned the cheque.

A letter from Mrs. Browning describes a visit to Denmark Hill, and
ends,--"I like Mr. Ruskin very much, and so does Robert; very gentle,
yet earnest--refined and truthful. I like him very much. We count him
one among the valuable acquaintances made this year in England." This
has been dated 1855; but Ruskin, writing to Miss Mitford from
Glenfinlas, 17th August, 1853, says, "I had the pleasure this spring, of
being made acquainted with your dear Elizabeth Browning, as well as with
her husband. I was of course prepared to like _her_, but I did not
expect to like _him_ as much as I did. I think he is really a very fine
fellow, and _she_ is the only sensible woman I have yet met with on the
subject of Italian politics. Evidently a noble creature in all things."
In June, 1850, he had met Robert Browning, on the invitation of Coventry
Patmore, and said: "He is the only person whom I have ever heard talk
ration-ally about the Italians, though on the Liberal side."

In these volumes of "Modern Painters" he had to discuss the Mediaeval and
Renaissance spirit in its relation to art, and to illustrate from
Browning's poetry, "unerring in every sentence he writes of the Middle
Ages, always vital and right and profound; so that in the matter of art
there is hardly a principle connected with the mediaeval temper that he
has not struck upon in those seemingly careless and too rugged lines of
his." This was written twenty-five years before the Browning Society was
heard of, and at a time when the style of Browning was an offence to
most people. To Ruskin, also, it had been some, thing of a puzzle; and
he wrote to the poet, asking him to explain himself; which the poet
accordingly did.

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


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

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

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



"_Thursday Evening, 24th" (December_, 1855).



The humble work of the drawing-classes at Great Ormond Street was
teaching Ruskin even more than he taught his pupils. It was showing him
how far his plans were practicable; how they should be modified; how
they might be improved; and especially what more, beside
drawing-classes, was needed to realize his ideal. He was anxiously
willing to co-operate with every movement, to join hands with any kind
of man, to go anywhere, do anything that might promote the cause he had
at heart.

Already at the end of 1854 he had given three lectures, his second
course, at the Architectural Museum, specially addressed to workmen in
the decorative trades. His subjects were design and colour, and his
illustrations were chiefly drawn from mediaeval illumination, which he
had long been studying. These were informal, quasi-private affairs,
which nevertheless attracted notice owing to the celebrity of the
speaker. It would have been better if his addresses had been carefully
prepared and authentically published; for a chance word here and there
raised replies about matters of detail in which his critics thought they
had gained a technical advantage, adding weight to his father's desire
not to see him "expose himself" in this way. There were no more lectures
until the beginning of 1857.

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

A louder note was sounded in an address at the St. Martin's School of
Art, Castle Street, Long Acre (April 3rd, 1857), where, speaking after
George Cruikshank, his old friend--practically his first master--and an
enthusiastic philanthropist and temperance advocate, Ruskin gave his
audience a wider view of art than they had known before: "the kind of
painting they most wanted in London was painting cheeks red with
health." This was anticipating the standpoint of the Oxford Lectures,
and showed how the inquiry was beginning to take a much broader aspect.

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

In the summer of 1857 the Art Treasures Exhibition was held at
Manchester, and Ruskin was invited to lecture. The theme he chose was
"The Political Economy of Art." He had been studying political economy
for some time back, but, as we saw from his letter to Carlyle, he had
found no answer in the ordinary text-books for the questions he tried to
put. He wanted to know what Bentham and Ricardo and Mill, the great
authorities, would advise him as to the best way of employing artists,
of educating workmen, of elevating public taste, of regulating
patronage; but these subjects were not in their programme. And so he put
together his own thoughts into two lectures upon Art considered as
Wealth: first, how to get it; next, how to use it.[7]

[Footnote 7: July 10 and 13, 1857. He went to Manchester from Oxford,
where he had been staying with the Liddells, writing enthusiastically of
the beauty of their children and the charm of their domestic life.]

There were very few points in these lectures that were not vigorously
contested at the moment, and conceded in the sequel--in some form or
other. The paternal function of government, the right of the state to
interfere in matters beyond its traditional range, its duty with regard
to education--all this was quite contrary to the prevailing habits of
thought of the time, especially at Manchester, the headquarters of the
_laissez faire_ school; but to Ruskin, who, curiously enough, had just
then been referring sarcastically to German philosophy, knowing it only
at second-hand, and unaware of Hegel's political work--to him this
Platonic conception of the state was the only possible one, as it is to
most people nowadays. In the same way, his practical advice has been
accepted, perhaps unwittingly, by our times. We do now understand the
difference between artistic decoration and machine-made wares; we do now
try to preserve ancient monuments, and to use art as a means of
education. And we are in a fair way, it seems, of lowering the price of
modern pictures, as he bids us, to "not more than L500 for an oil
picture and L100 for a water-colour."

After a visit to the Trevelyans at Wallington he went with his parents
to Scotland; for his mother, now beginning to grow old, wanted to
revisit the scenes of her youth. They went to the Highlands and as far
north as the Bay of Cromarty, and then returned by way of the Abbeys of
the Lowlands, to look up Turner sites, as he had done in 1845 on the St.
Gothard. From the enjoyment of this holiday he was recalled to London by
a letter from Mr. Wornum saying that he could arrange the Turner
drawings at the National Gallery.

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

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

Another question of importance was the disposal of the pictures and
sketches which Turner had left to the nation. Ruskin was one of the
executors under the will; but, on finding that, though Turner's
intention was plain, there were technical informalities which would make
the administration anything but easy, he declined to act. It was not
until 1856 that the litigation was concluded, and Turner's pictures and
sketches were handed to the Trustees of the National Gallery. Ruskin,
whose want of legal knowledge had made his services useless before, now
felt that he could carry out the spirit of Turner's will by offering to
arrange the sketches; which were in such a state of confusion that only
some person with knowledge of the artist's habits of work and subjects
could, so to speak, _edit_ them; and the editor would need no ordinary
skill, patience and judgment, into the bargain.

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

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

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

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

"I have just been through Turner's house with Griffith. His labour
is more astonishing than his genius. There are L80,000 of oil
pictures done and undone--Boxes half as big as your Study Table,
filled with Drawings and Sketches. There are Copies of Liber
Studiorum to fill all your Drawers and more, and House Walls of
proof plates in Reams--they may go at 1/-each....

"Nothing since Pompeii so impressed me as the interior of Turner's
house; the accumulated dust of 40 years partially cleared off;
Daylight for the first time admitted by opening a window on the
finest productions of art buried for 40 years. The Drawing Room
has, it is reckoned, L25,000 worth of proofs, and sketches, and
Drawings, and Prints. It is amusing to hear Dealers saying there
can be no Liber Studiorums--when I saw neatly packed and well
labelled as many Bundles of Liber Studiorum as would fill your
entire Bookcase, and England and Wales proofs in packed and
labelled Bundles like Reams of paper, as I told you, piled nearly
to Ceiling ...

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

"I saw in Turner's Rooms, _Geo. Morlands_ and _Wilsons_ and
_Claudes_ and _portraits_ in various stiles _all by Turner._ He
copied every man, was every man first, and took up his own style,
casting all others away. It seems to me you may keep your money and
revel for ever and for nothing among Turner's Works."

Among the quantities so recklessly thrown aside for dust, damp, soot,
mice and worms to destroy--some 15,000 Ruskin reckoned at first, 19,000
later on--there were many fine drawings, which had been used by the
engravers, and vast numbers of interesting and valuable studies in
colour and in pencil. Four hundred of these were extricated from the
chaos, and with infinite pains cleaned, flattened, mounted, dated and
described, and placed in sliding frames in cabinets devised by Ruskin,
or else in swivel frames, to let both sides of the paper be seen. The
first results of the work were shown in an Exhibition at Marlborough
House during the winter, for which he wrote another catalogue. Of the
whole collection he began a more complete account, which was too
elaborate to be finished in that form; but in 1881 he published a
"Catalogue of the Drawings and Sketches of J M.W. Turner, R.A., at
present exhibited in the National Gallery," so that his plan was
practically fulfilled.

During 1858 Ruskin continued to lecture at various places on subjects
connected with his Manchester addresses--the relation of art to
manufacture, and especially the dependence of all great architectural
design upon sculpture or painting of organic form. The first of the
series was given at the opening of the Architectural Museum at South
Kensington, January 13th, 1858, entitled "The Deteriorative Power of
Conventional Art over Nations;" in which he showed that naturalism, as
opposed to meaningless pattern-making, was always a sign of life. For
example, the strength of the Greek, Florentine and Venetian art arose
out of the search for truth, not, as it is often supposed, out of
striving after an ideal of beauty; and as soon as nature was superseded
by recipe, the greatest schools hastened to their fall. From which he
concluded that modern design should always be founded on natural form,
rather than upon the traditional patterns of the east or of the

On February 16th he spoke on "The Work of Iron, in Nature, Art and
Policy," at Tunbridge Wells; a subject similar to that of his address to
the St. Martin's School of the year before, but amplified into a plea
for the use of wrought-iron ornament, as in the new Oxford Museum, then
building, and on April 25th he again addressed St. Martin's School.

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

To explain the design of the Oxford Museum and to enlist support, he
wrote two letters to Dr. Acland (May 25th, 1858, and January 20th,
1859), which formed part of a small book, reporting its aims and
progress, illustrated with an engraving of one of the workmen's
capitals. Ruskin himself contributed both time and money to the work,
and his assistance was not unrecognised. In 1858 "Honorary Studentships"
(i.e., fellowships) were created at Christ Church by the Commissioners'
ordinances. At the first election held, December 6th, 1858, there were
chosen for the compliment Ruskin, Gladstone, Sir G. Cornewall Lewis, Dr.
(Sir) H.W. Acland, and Sir F.H. Gore Ouseley. At the second, December
15th, 1858, were elected Henry Hallam, the Earl of Stanhope, the Earl of
Elgin, the Marquis of Dalhousie and Viscount Canning.

Parallel with this movement for educating the "working-class," there was
the scheme for the improvement of middle-class education, which was then
going on at Oxford--the beginning of University Extension--supported by
the Rev. F. Temple (later Archbishop of Canterbury), and Mr. (afterwards
Sir) Thomas Dyke Acland. Ruskin was heartily for them; and in a letter
on the subject, he tried to show how the teaching of Art might be made
to work in with the scheme. He did not think that in this plan, any more
than at the Working Men's College, there need be an attempt to teach
drawing with a view to forming artists; but there were three objects
they might hold in view: the first, to give every student the advantage
of the happiness and knowledge which the study of Art conveys; the next,
to enforce some knowledge of Art amongst those who were likely to become
patrons or critics; and the last, _to leave no Giotto lost among hill



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

The battles between faith and criticism, between the historical and the
scientific attitudes, which had been going on in his mind, were taking a
new form. At the outset, we saw, naturalism overpowered respect for
tradition--in the first volume of "Modern Painters;" then the historical
tendency won the day, in the second volume. Since that time, the
critical side had been gathering strength, by his alliance with liberal
movements and by his gradual detachment from associations that held
him to the older order of thought. As in his lonely journey of 1845
he first took independent ground upon questions of religion and social
life, so in 1858, once more travelling alone, he was led by his
meditations,--freed from the restraining presence of his parents--to
conclusions which he had been all these years evading, yet finding at
last inevitable.

He went abroad for a third attempt to write and illustrate his History
of Swiss Towns. He spent part of May on the Upper Rhine between Basle
and Schaffhausen, June and half of July on the St. Gothard route and at
Bellinzona. In reflecting over the sources of Swiss character, as
connected with the question of the nature of art and its origin in
morality, he was struck with the fact that all the virtues of the Swiss
did not make them artistic. Compared with most nations they were as
children in painting, music and poetry. And, indeed, they ranked with
the early phases of many great nations--the period of pristine
simplicity "uncorrupted by the arts."

From Bellinzona he went to Turin on his way to the Vaudois Valleys,
where he meant to compare the Waldensian Protestants with the Swiss.
Accidentally he saw Paul Veronese's "Queen of Sheba" and other Venetian
pictures; and so fell to comparing a period of fully ripened art with
one of artlessness; discovering that the mature art, while it appeared
at the same time with decay in morals, did not spring from that decay,
but was rooted in the virtues of the earlier age. He grasped a clue to
the puzzle, in the generalisation that Art is the product of human
happiness; it is contrary to asceticism; it is the expression of
pleasure. But when the turning point of national progress is once
reached, and art is regarded as the laborious incitement to
pleasure,--no longer the spontaneous blossom and fruit of it,--the
decay sets in for art as for morality. Art, in short, is created _by_
pleasure, not _for_ pleasure. The standard of thought, the attitude of
mind, of the Waldensians, he now perceived to be quite impossible for
himself. He could not look upon every one outside their fold as heathens
and publicans; he could not believe that the pictures of Paul Veronese
were works of iniquity, nor that the motives of great deeds in earlier
ages were lying superstitions. He took courage to own to himself and
others that it was no longer any use trying to identify his point of
view with that of Protestantism. He saw both Protestants and Roman
Catholics, in the perspective of history, converging into a primitive,
far distant, ideal unity of Christianity, in which he still believed;
but he could take neither side, after this.

The first statement of the new point of view was, as we said, the
Inaugural Lecture of the Cambridge School of Art. The next important
utterance was at Manchester, February 22nd, 1859, where he spoke on the
"Unity of Art," by which he meant--not the fraternity of handicrafts
with painting, as the term is used nowadays--but that, in whatever
branch of Art, the spirit of Truth or Sincerity is the same. In this
lecture there is a very important passage showing how he had at last got
upon firm ground in the question of art and morality: "_I do_ NOT _say
in the least that in order to be a good painter you must be a good man_;
but I do say that in order to be a good natural painter there must be
strong elements of good in the mind, however warped by other parts of
the character." So emphatic a statement deserves more attention than it
has received from readers and writers who assume to judge Ruskin's views
after a slight acquaintance with his earlier works. He was well aware
himself that his mind had been gradually enlarging, and his thoughts
changing; and he soon saw as great a difference between himself at forty
and at twenty-five, as he had formerly seen between the Boy poet and the
Art critic. He became as anxious to forget his earlier books, as he had
been to forget his verse-writing; and when he came to collect his
"Works," these lectures, under the title of "The Two Paths," were (with
"The Political Economy of Art") the earliest admitted into the library.

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

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

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

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

The assertion of Turner's genius had been necessary in 1843, but Turner
was long since dead; his fame was thoroughly vindicated; his bequest to
the nation dealt with, so far as possible. Early Christian Art was
recognised--almost beyond its claims. The Pre-Raphaelites and
naturalistic landscapists no longer needed the hand which "Modern
Painters" had held out to them by the way. Of the great triad of Venice,
Tintoret had been expounded, Veronese and Titian were now taken up and
treated with tardy, but ample recognition.

And now, after twenty years of labour, Ruskin had established himself as
the recognised leader of criticism and the exponent of painting and
architecture. He had created a department of literature all his own. He
had enriched the art of England with examples of a new and beautiful
draughtsmanship, and the language with passages of poetic description
and eloquent declamation, quite, in their way, unrivalled. He had built
up a theory of art, so far uncontested; and thrown new light on the
Middle Ages and Renaissance, illustrating, in a way then novel, their
chronicles by their remains. He had beaten down opposition, risen above
detraction, and won the prize of honour--only to realise, as he received
it, that the fight had been but a pastime tournament, after all; and to
hear, through the applause, the enemy's trumpet sounding to battle. For
now, without the camp, there were realities to face; as to Art--"the
best in this kind are but shadows."





"UNTO THIS LAST" (1860-1861)

At forty years of age Ruskin finished "Modern Painters." From that time
art was sometimes his text, rarely his theme. He used it as the
opportunity, the vehicle, so to say, for teachings of wider range and
deeper import; teachings about life as a whole, conclusions in ethics
and economics and religion, to which he sought to lead others, as he was
led, by the way of art.

During the time when he was preaching his later doctrines, he wished to
suppress the interfering evidences of the earlier. He let his works on
art run out of print, not for the benefit of second-hand booksellers,
but in the hope that he could fix his audience upon the burden of his
prophecy for the time being. But the youthful works were still read;
high prices were paid for them, or they were smuggled in from America.
And when the epoch of "Fors" had passed, he agreed to the reprinting of
all that early material. He called it obsolete and trivial; others find
it interestingly biographical--perhaps even classical.

This year, then, 1860, the year of the Italian Kingdom, of Garibaldi,
and of the beginning of the American war, marks his turning point, from
the early work, summed up in the old "Selections," to the later work.

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

So he set himself, by himself, to sketch the plans for the repairs.
Naturally sociable, and accustomed to the friendly give-and-take of a
wide acquaintance, he withdrew from the busy world into a busier
solitude. During the next few years he lived much alone among the Alps,
or at home, thinking out the problem; sometimes feeling, far more
acutely than was good for clear thought, the burden of the mission that
was laid upon him. In March, 1863, he wrote from his retreat at Mornex
to Norton:

"The loneliness is very great, and the peace in which I am at
present is only as if I had buried myself in a tuft of grass on a
battlefield wet with blood--for the cry of the earth about me is in
my ears continually, if I do not lay my head to the very ground."

And a few months later:

"I am still very unwell, and tormented between the longing for rest
and lovely life, and the sense of this terrific call of human crime
for resistance and of human misery for help, though it seems to me
as the voice of a river of blood which can but sweep me down in the
midst of its black clots, helpless."

Sentences like these, passages here and there in the last volume of
"Modern Painters," and still more, certain passages omitted from that
volume, show that about 1860 something of a cloud had been settling over
him,--a sense of the evil of the world, a horror of great darkness. In
his earlier years, his intense emotion and vivid imagination had enabled
him to read into pictures of Tintoret or Turner, into scenes of nature
and sayings of great books, a meaning or a moral which he so vividly
communicated to the reader as to make it thenceforward part and parcel
of the subject, however it came there to begin with. It is useless to
wonder whether Turner, for instance, consciously meant what Ruskin found
in his works. A great painter does not paint without thought, and such
thought is apt to show itself whether he will or no. But it needs
imaginative sympathy to detect and describe the thought. And when that
sympathy was given to suffering, to widespread misery, to crying wrongs;
joined also with an intense passion for justice, which had already shown
itself in the defence of slighted genius and neglected art; and to the
Celtic temperament of some highstrung seer and trance-prophesying bard;
it was no wonder that Ruskin became like one of the hermits of old, who
retreated from the world to return upon it with stormy messages of
awakening and flashes of truth more impressive, more illuminating than
the logic of schoolmen and the state-craft of the wise.

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

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

The new friends of this period were, at first, Americans; as the chief
new friends of his latest period (the Alexanders) were American, too.
Charles Eliot Norton, after being introduced to him in London in 1855,
met him again by accident on the Lake of Geneva--the story is prettily
told in "Praeterita." Ruskin adds:

"Norton saw all my weaknesses, measured all my narrownesses, and,
from the first, took serenely, and as it seemed of necessity, a
kind of paternal authority over me, and a right of guidance.... I
was entirely conscious of his rectorial power, and affectionately
submissive to it, so that he might have done anything with me, but
for the unhappy difference in our innate, and unchangeable,
political faiths."

So, after all, he stood alone.

Another friend about this time was Mrs. H. Beecher Stowe, to whom he
wrote on June 18th, 1860, from Geneva:

"It takes a great deal, when I am at Geneva, to make me wish myself
anywhere else, and, of all places else, in London; nevertheless, I
very heartily wish at this moment that I were looking out on the
Norwood Hills, and were expecting you and the children to breakfast

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

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

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

W.J. Stillman had been a correspondent about 1851,--"involved in
mystical speculations, partly growing out of the second volume of
'Modern Painters,'" as he said of himself in an article on "John Ruskin"
in the _Century_ Magazine (January, 1888). With him Ruskin spent July
and August of 1860 at Chamouni. He did but little drawing, and in the
few sketches that remain of that summer there is evidence that his mind
was far away from its old love of mountains and of streamlets. His
lonely walks in the pinewoods of the Arveron were given to meditation on
a great problem which had been set, as it seemed, for him to solve, ever
since he had written that chapter on "The Nature of Gothic." Now at
last, in the solitude of the Alps, he could grapple with the questions
he had raised; and the outcome of the struggle was "Unto this Last."

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

These new papers, painfully thought out and carefully set down in his
room at the Hotel de l'Union, he used--as long before he read his daily
chapter to the breakfast party at Herne Hill--to read to Stillman: and
he sent them to the _Cornhill Magazine_, started the year before by
Smith and Elder. Ruskin had already contributed to it a paper on "Sir
Joshua and Holbein," a stray chapter from Vol. V., "Modern Painters."
His reputation as a writer and philanthropist, together with the
friendliness of editor and publisher, secured the insertion of the first
three,--from August to October. The editor then wrote to say that they
were so unanimously condemned and disliked, that, with all apologies, he
could only admit one more. The series was brought hastily to a
conclusion in November: and the author, beaten back as he had never been
beaten before, dropped the subject, and "sulked," so he called it, all
the winter.

It is pleasant to notice that neither Thackeray, the editor nor Smith,
the publisher quarrelled with the author who had laid them open to the
censure of their public,--nor he with them. On December 21st, he wrote
to Thackeray, in answer apparently, to a letter about lecturing for a
charitable purpose: and continued:

"The mode in which you direct your charity puts me in mind of a
matter that has lain long on my mind, though I never have had the
time or face to talk to you of it. In somebody's drawing-room,
ages ago, you were speaking accidentally of M. de Marvy.[8] I
expressed my great obligation to him; on which you said that I
could prove my gratitude, if I chose, to his widow,--which choice I
then not accepting, have ever since remembered the circumstance as
one peculiarly likely to add, so far as it went, to the general
impression on your mind of the hollowness of people's sayings and
hardness of their hearts. The fact is, I give what I give almost in
an opposite way to yours. I think there are many people who will
relieve hopeless distress for one who will help at a hopeful pinch;
and when I have the choice I nearly always give where I think the
money will be fruitful rather than merely helpful. I would lecture
for a school when I would _not_ for a distressed author; and would
have helped De Marvy to perfect his invention, but not--unless I
had no other object--his widow after he was gone. In a word, I like
to prop the falling more than to feed the fallen."

[Footnote 8: Louis Marvy, an engraver, and political refugee after the
French Revolution of 1848. He produced the plates, and Thackeray the
text, of "Landscape Painters of England, in a series of steel
engravings, with short Notices."]

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

On April 2nd he addressed the St. George's Mission Working Men's
Institute, and shortly afterwards, though at this time in a much
enfeebled state of health, gave a lecture before "a most brilliant
audience," as the _London Review_ reported, at the Royal Institution
(April 19th, 1861). Carlyle wrote to his brother John:

"Friday last I was persuaded--in fact had inwardly compelled myself
as it were--to a lecture of Ruskin's at the Institution, Albemarle
Street, Lecture on Tree Leaves as physiological, pictorial, moral,
symbolical objects. A crammed house, but tolerable even to me in
the gallery. The lecture was thought to 'break down,' and indeed it
quite did '_as a lecture_'; but only did from _embarras de
richesses_--a rare case. Ruskin did blow asunder as by gunpowder
explosions his leaf notions, which were manifold, curious, genial;
and in fact, I do not recollect to have heard in that place any
neatest thing I liked so well as this chaotic one."

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

During May, 1861, he paid a visit to the school girls at Winnington, in
June and July he took a holiday at Boulogne with the fisher folk, in
August he went to Ireland as guest of the Latouches of Harristown,
County Kildare, and in September he returned to the Alps, spending the
rest of the year at Bonneville and Lucerne.



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

The author had then returned to Lucerne with Mr. and Mrs. Burne-Jones,
with whom he crossed the St. Gothard to Milan, where he tried to forget
the harrowing of hell in a close study of Luini, and in copying the "St.
Catherine" now at Oxford. Ruskin has never said so much about Luini as,
perhaps, he intended. A short notice in the "Cestus of Aglaia," and
occasional references scattered up and down his later works, hardly give
the prominence in his writings that the painter held in his thoughts. It
was about this time that he was made an Hon. Member of the Florentine

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

His retreat is described in one of his letters home:

"MORNEX, _August_ 31 (1862).


"This ought to arrive on the evening before your birthday: it is
not possible to reach you in the morning, not even by telegraph as
I once did from Mont Cenis, for--(may Heaven be devoutly thanked
therefore)--there are yet on Mont Saleve neither rails nor

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

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

After describing the flowers of the Saleve he continues:

"My Father would be quite wild at the 'view' from the garden
terrace--but he would be disgusted at the shut in feeling of the
house, which is in fact as much shut in as our old Herne Hill one;
only to get the 'view' I have but to go as far down the garden as
to our old 'mulberry tree.' By the way there's a magnificent
mulberry tree, as big as a common walnut, covered with black and
red fruit on the other side of the road. Coutet and Allen are very
anxious to do all they can now that Crawley is away; and I don't
think I shall manage very badly," etc.

A little later he took in addition a cottage in which the Empress of
Russia had once stayed: it commanded a finer view than the larger house,
which has since been turned into a hotel (Hotel et Pension des
Glycines). This place was for some time the hermitage in which he wrote
his political economy. Of his lonely rambles he wrote later on:

"If I have a definite point to reach, and common work to do at
it--I take people--anybody--with me; but all my best _mental_ work
is necessarily done alone; whenever I wanted to think, in Savoy, I
used to leave Coutet at home. Constantly I have been alone on the
Glacier des Bois--and far among the loneliest aiguille recesses. I
found the path up the Brezon above Bonneville in a lonely walk one
Sunday; I saw the grandest view of the Alps of Savoy I ever
gained, on the 2nd of January, 1862, alone among the snow wreaths
on the summit of the Saleve. You need not fear for me on 'Langdale
Pikes' after that."

In September the second article appeared in _Fraser._ "Only a genius
like Mr. Ruskin could have produced such hopeless rubbish," says a
newspaper of the period. Far worse than any newspaper criticism was the
condemnation of Denmark Hill. His father, whose eyes had glistened over
early poems and prose eloquence, strongly disapproved of this heretical
economy. It was a bitter thing that his son should become prodigal of a
hardly earned reputation, and be pointed at for a fool. And it was
intensely painful for a son "who had never given his father a pang that
could be avoided," as old Mr. Ruskin had once written, to find his
father, with one foot in the grave, turning against him. In December the
third paper appeared. History repeated itself, and with the fourth paper
the heretic was gagged. A year after, his father died; and these
_Fraser_ articles were laid aside until the end of 1871, when they were
taken up again, and published on New Year's Day 1872, as "Munera

From the outset, however, he was not without supporters. Carlyle wrote
on June 30, 1862:

"I have read, a month ago, your _First_ in _Fraser_, and ever since
have had a wish to say to it and you, _Euge macte nova virtute._ I
approved in every particular; calm, definite, clear; rising into
the sphere of _Plato_ (our almost best), wh'h in exchange for the
sphere of _Macculloch, Mill and Co._ is a mighty improvement! Since
that, I have seen the little _green_ book, too; reprint of your
_Cornhill_ operations,--about 2/3 of wh'h was read to me (_known_
only from what the contradict'n of sinners had told me of it);--in
every part of wh'h I find a high and noble sort of truth, not one
doctrine that I can intrinsically dissent from, or count other than
salutary in the extreme, and pressingly needed in Engl'd above

Erskine of Linlathen wrote to Carlyle, August 7th, 1862:

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

J.A. Froude, then editor of _Fraser_, and to his dying day Mr. Ruskin's
intimate and affectionate friend, wrote to him on October 24 (1862?):

"The world talks of the article in its usual way. I was at
Carlyle's last night.... He said that in writing to your father as
to subject he had told him that when Solomon's temple was building
it was credibly reported that at least 10,000 sparrows sitting on
the trees round declared that it was entirely wrong--quite contrary
to received opinion--hopelessly condemned by public opinion, etc.
Nevertheless it got finished and the sparrows flew away and began
to chirp in the same note about something else."



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

He wandered about geologizing, and spent a while at Talloires on the
Lake of Annecy, where the old Abbey had been turned into an inn, and one
slept in a monk's cell and meditated in the cloister of the monastery,
St. Bernard of Menthon's memory haunting the place, and St. Germain's
cave close by in the rocks above. At the end of May he came back to
England, and was invited to lecture again at the Royal Institution. The
subject he chose was "The Stratified Alps of Savoy."

At that time many distinguished foreign geologists were working at the
Alps; but little of conclusive importance had been published, except in
papers embedded in Transactions of various societies. Professor Alphonse
Favre's great work did not appear until 1867, and the "Mechanismus der
Gebirgsbildung" of Professor Heim not till 1878; so that for an English
public the subject was a fresh one. To Ruskin it was familiar: he had
been elected a Fellow of the Geological Society in 1840, at the age of
twenty-one; he had worked through Savoy with his Saussure in hand nearly
thirty years before, and, many a time since that, had spent the
intervals of literary business in rambling and climbing with the hammer
and note-book. In the field he had compared Studer's meagre sections,
and consulted the available authorities on physical geology, though he
had never entered upon the more popular sister-science of palaeontology.
He left the determination of strata to specialists: his interest was
fixed on the structure of mountains--the relation of geology to scenery;
a question upon which he had some right to be heard, as knowing more
about scenery than most geologists, and more about geology than most

As examples of Savoy mountains this lecture described in detail the
Saleve, on which he had been living for two winters, and the Brezon, the
top of which he had tried to buy from the commune of Bonneville--one of
his many plans for settling among the Alps. The commune thought he had
found a gold-mine up there, and raised the price out of all reason.
Other attempts to make a home in the chateaux or chalets of Savoy were
foiled, or abandoned, like his earlier idea to live in Venice. But his
scrambles on the Saleve led him to hesitate in accepting the explanation
given by Alphonse Favre of the curious north-west face of steeply
inclined vertical slabs, which he suspected to be created by cleavage,
on the analogy of other Jurassic precipices. The Brezon--_brisant_,
breaking wave--he took as type of the billowy form of limestone Alps in
general, and his analysis of it was serviceable and substantially

This lecture was followed in 1864 by desultory correspondence with Mr.
Jukes and others in _The Reader_, in which he merely restated his
conclusions, too slightly to convince. Had he devoted himself to a
thorough examination of the subject--but this is in the region of what
might have been. He was more seriously engaged in other pursuits, of
more immediate importance. Three days after his lecture he was being
examined before the Royal Academy Commission, and after a short summer
visit to various friends in the north of England, he set out again for
the Alps, partly to study the geology of Chamouni and North Switzerland,
partly to continue his drawings of Swiss towns at Baden and Lauffenburg,
with his pupil John Bunney. But even there the burden of his real
mission could not be shaken off, and though again seeking health and a
quiet mind, he could not quite keep silence, but wrote letters to
English newspapers on the depreciation of gold (repeating his theory of
currency), and on the wrongs of Poland and Italy; and he put together
more papers, not then published, in continuation of his "Munera

Since about 1850, Carlyle had been gradually becoming more and more
friendly with John Ruskin; and now that this social and economical work
had been taken up, he began to have a real esteem for him, though always
with a patronizing tone, which the younger man's open and confessed
discipleship accepted and encouraged. This letter especially shows both
men in an unaccustomed light: Ruskin, hating tobacco, sends his "master"
cigars; Carlyle, hating cant, replies rather in the tone of the
temperance advocate, taking a little wine for his stomach's sake:

"CHELSEA, 22 _Feby_, 1865


"You have sent me a munificent Box of Cigars; for wh'h what can I
say in ans'r? It makes me both sad and glad. _Ay de mi._

"We are such stuff,
Gone with a puff--Then
think, and smoke Tobacco!'

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

"The Geology Book wasn't _Jukes_; I found it again in the
Magazine,--reviewed there: 'Phillips,'[9] is there such a name? It
has ag'n escaped me. I have a notion to come out actually some day
soon; and take a serious Lecture from you on what you really know,
and can give me some intelligible outline of, ab't the
Rocks,--_bones_ of our poor old Mother; wh'h have always been
venerable and strange to me. Next to nothing of rational could I
ever learn of the subject....

[Footnote 9: "Jukes,"--Mr. J.B. Jukes, F.R.S., with whom Ruskin had
been discussing in _The Reader_. "Phillips," the Oxford Professor
of Geology, and a friend of Ruskin's.]

"Yours ever,




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

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

Mr. John James Ruskin, like many other of our successful merchants, had
been an open-handed patron of art, and a cheerful giver, not only to
needy friends and relatives, but also to various charities. For example,
as a kind of personal tribute to Osborne Gordon, his son's tutor, he
gave L5,000 toward the augmentation of poor Christ-Church livings. His
son's open-handed way with dependants and servants was learned from the
old merchant, who, unlike many hard-working money-makers, was always
ready to give, though he could not bear to lose. In spite of which he
left a considerable fortune behind him,--considerable when it is
understood to be the earnings of his single-handed industry and steady
sagacity in legitimate business, without indulgence in speculation. He
left L120,000 with various other property, to his son. To his wife he
left his house and L37,000, and a void which it seemed at first nothing
could fill. For of late years the son had drifted out of their horizon,
with ideas on religion and the ordering of life so very different from
theirs; and had been much away from home--he sometimes said, selfishly,
but not without the greatest of all excuses, necessity. And so the two
old people had been brought closer than ever together; and she had lived
entirely for her husband. But, as Browning said,--"Put a stick in
anywhere, and she will run up it"--so the brave old lady did not faint
under the blow, and fade away, but transferred her affections and
interests to her son. Before his father's death the difference of
feeling between them, arising out of the heretical economy, had been
healed. Old Mr. Ruskin's will treated his son with all confidence in
spite of his unorthodox views and unbusiness-like ways. And for nearly
eight years longer his mother lived on, to see him pass through his
probation-period into such recognition as an Oxford Professorship
implied, and to find in her last years his later books "becoming more
and more what they always ought to have been" to her.

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

All through that year he remained at home, except for short necessary
visits, and frequent evenings with Carlyle. And when, in December, he
gave those lectures in Manchester which afterwards, as "Sesame and
Lilies," became his most popular work, we can trace his better health of
mind and body in the brighter tone of his thought. We can hear the echo
of Carlyle's talk in the heroic, aristocratic, Stoic ideals, and in the
insistence on the value of books and free public libraries,[10]--Carlyle
being the founder of the London Library. And we may suspect that his
thoughts on women's influence and education had been not a little
directed by those months in the company of "the dear old lady and ditto
young" to whom Carlyle used to send his love.

[Footnote 10: The first lecture, "Of Kings' Treasuries," was given,
December 6th, 1864, at Rusholme Town Hall, Manchester, in aid of a
library fund for the Rusholme Institute. The second, "Queens' Gardens,"
was given December 14th, at the Town Hall, King Street, now the Free
Reference Library, Manchester, in aid of schools for Ancoats.]

In 1864 a new series of papers on Art was begun, the only published
work upon Art of all these ten years. The papers ran in _The Art
Journal_ from January to July, 1865, and from January to April. 1866,
under the title of "The Cestus of Aglaia," by which was meant the
Girdle, or restraining law, of Beauty, as personified in the wife of
Hephaestus, "the Lord of Labour." Their intention was to suggest, and to
evoke by correspondence, "some laws for present practice of art in our
schools, which may be admitted, if not with absolute, at least with a
sufficient consent, by leading artists." As a first step the author
asked for the elementary rules of drawing. For his own contribution he
showed the value of the "pure line," such as he had used in his own
early drawings. Later on, he had adopted a looser and more picturesque
style of handling the point; and in the "Elements of Drawing" he had
taught his readers to take Rembrandt's etchings as exemplary. But now he
felt that this "evasive" manner, as he called it, had its dangers. And
so these papers attempted to supersede the amateurish object lesson of
the earlier work by stricter rules for a severer style; prematurely, as
it proved, for the chapters came to an end before the promised code was
formulated. The same work was taken up again in "The Laws of Fesole";
but the use of the pure line, which Ruskin's precepts failed to enforce,
was, in the end, taught to the public by the charming practice of Mr.
Walter Crane and Miss Greenaway.

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



Writing to his father from Manchester about the lecture of February 22,
1859--"The Unity of Art"--Ruskin mentions, among various people of
interest whom he was meeting, such as Sir Elkanah Armitage and Mrs.
Gaskell, how "Miss Bell and four young ladies came from Chester to hear
me, and I promised to pay them a visit on my way home, to their apparent
great contentment."

The visit was paid on his way back from Yorkshire. He wrote:


"12 _March_, 1859.

"This is such a nice place that I am going to stay till Monday: an
enormous old-fashioned house--full of galleries and up and down
stairs--but with magnificently large rooms where wanted: the
drawing-room is a huge octagon--I suppose at least forty feet
high--like the tower of a castle (hung half way up all round with
large and beautiful Turner and Raphael engravings) and with a
baronial fireplace:--and in the evening, brightly lighted, with the
groups of girls scattered round it, it is a quite beautiful scene
in its way. Their morning chapel, too, is very interesting:--though
only a large room, it is nicely fitted with reading desk and seats
like a college chapel, and two pretty and rich stained-glass
windows--and well-toned organ. They have morning prayers with only
one of the lessons--and without the psalms: but singing the Te Deum
or the other hymn--and other choral parts: and as out of the
thirty-five or forty girls perhaps twenty-five or thirty have
really available voices, well trained and divided, it was
infinitely more beautiful than any ordinary church service--like
the Trinita di Monte Convent service more than anything else, and
must be very good for them, quite different in its effect on their
minds from our wretched penance of college chapel.

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

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

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

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

Ruskin could not be idle on his visits; and as he was never so happy as
when he was teaching somebody, he improved the opportunity by
experiments in education permitted there for his sake. Among other
things, he devised singing dances for a select dozen of the girls, with
verses of his own writing; one, a maze to the theme of "Twist ye, twine
ye," based upon the song in "Guy Mannering," but going far beyond the
original motive in its variations weighted with allegoric thought. Deep
as the feeling of this little poem is, there is a nobler chord struck in
the Song of Peace, the battle-cry of the good time coming; in the
faith--who else has found it?--that looks forward to no selfish victory
of narrow aims, but to the full reconciliation of hostile interests and
the blind internecine struggle of this perverse world, in the clearer
light of the millennial morning.

Ruskin's method of teaching, as illustrated in "Ethics of the Dust," has
been variously pooh-poohed by his critics. It has seemed to some absurd
to mix up Theology, and Crystallography, and Political Economy, and
Mythology, and Moral Philosophy, with the chatter of school-girls and
the romps of the playground. But it should be understood, before reading
this book, which is practically the report of these Wilmington talks,
that it is printed as an illustration of a method. It showed that
play-lessons need not want either depth or accuracy; and that the
requirement was simply capacity on the part of the teacher.

The following letter from Carlyle was written in acknowledgment of an
early copy of the book, of which the preface is dated Christmas, 1865.


"_20 Decr, 1865._

"The 'Ethics of the Dust,' wh'h I devoured with't pause, and intend
to look at ag'n, is a most shining Performance! Not for a long
while have I read anything tenth-part so radiant with talent,
ingenuity, lambent fire (sheet--and _other_ lightnings) of all
commendable kinds! Never was such a lecture on _Crystallography_
before, had there been nothing else in it,--and there are all
manner of things. In power of _expression_ I pronounce it to be
supreme; never did anybody who had _such_ things to explain explain
them better. And the bit of Egypt'n mythology, the cunning _Dreams_
ab't Pthah, Neith, etc., apart from their elucidative quality,
wh'h is exquisite, have in them a _poetry_ that might fill any
Tennyson with despair. You are very dramatic too; nothing wanting
in the stage-direct'ns, in the pretty little indicat'ns: a very
pretty stage and _dramatis personae_ altogeth'r. Such is my first
feeling ab't y'r Book, dear R.--Come soon, and I will tell you all
the _faults_ of it, if I gradually discover a great many. In fact,
_come_ at any rate!

"Y'rs ever,


The Real Little Housewives, to whom the book was dedicated, were not
quite delighted--at least, they said they were not--at the portraits
drawn of them, in their pinafores, so to speak, with some little hints
at failings and faults which they recognised through the mask of
_dramatis personae._ Miss "Kathleen" disclaimed the singing of "Vilikins
and his Dinah," and so on. It is difficult to please everybody. The
public did not care about the book; the publisher hoped Mr. Ruskin would
write no more dialogues: and so it remained, little noticed, for twelve
years. In 1877 it was republished and found to be interesting, and in
1905 the 31st thousand (authorised English edition) had been issued. At
that time, however, Sesame and Lilies had run to 160,000 copies.

Winnington Hall, the scene of these pastimes, is now, I understand, used
by Messrs. Brunner, Mond & Co. as a commonroom or clubhouse for the
staff in their great scientific industry.



Mention has been made of an address to working men at the Camberwell
Institute, January 24th, 1865. This lecture was published in 1866,
together with two others,[11] under the title of "The Crown of Wild
Olive"--that is to say, the reward of human work, a reward "which should
have been of gold, had not Jupiter been so poor," as Aristophanes said.

[Footnote 11: Republished in 1873, with a fourth lecture added, and a
Preface and notes on the political growth of Prussia, from Carlyle's

True work, he said, meant the production (taking the word production in
a broad sense) of the means of life; every one ought to take some share
in it, according to his powers: some working with the head, some with
the hands; but all acknowledging idleness and slavery to be alike
immoral. And, as to the remuneration, he said, as he had said before in
"Unto this Last," Justice demands that equal energy expended should
bring equal reward. He did not consider it justice to cry out for the
equalization of incomes, for some are sure to be more diligent and
saving than others; some work involves a great preliminary expenditure
of energy in qualifying the worker, as contrasted with unskilled labour.
But he did not allow that the possession of capital entitled a man to
unearned increment; and he thought that, in a community where a truly
civilized morality was highly developed, the general sense of society
would recognise an average standard of work and an average standard of
pay for each class.

In the next two lectures he spoke of the two great forms of Play, the
great Games of Money-making and War. He had been invited to lecture at
Bradford, in the hope that he would give some useful advice towards the
design of a new Exchange which was to be built; in curious
forgetfulness, it would appear, of his work during the past ten years
and more. Indeed, the picture he drew them of an ideal "Temple to the
Goddess of Getting-on" was as daring a sermon as ever prophet preached.
But when he came to tell them that the employers of labour might be true
captains and kings, the leaders and the helpers of their fellow-men,
and that the function of commerce was not to prey upon society but to
provide for it, there were many of his hearers whose hearts told them
that he was right, and whose lives have shown, in some measure, that he
did not speak in vain.

Still stranger, to hearers who had not noted the conclusion of his third
volume of "Modern Painters," was his view of war, in the address to the
Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, in December 1865. The common view of
war as destroyer of arts and enemy of morality, the easy acceptance of
the doctrine that peace is an unqualified blessing, the obvious evils of
battle and rapine and the waste of resources and life throughout so many
ages, have blinded less clear-sighted and less widely-experienced
thinkers to another side of the teaching of history, which Ruskin dwelt
upon with unexpected emphasis.

But modern war, horrible, not from its scale, but from the spirit in
which the upper classes set the lower to fight like gladiators in the
arena, he denounced; and called upon the women of England, with whom, he
said, the real power of life and death lay, to mend it into some
semblance of antique chivalry, or to end it in the name of religion and

In the _New Review_ for March 1892, there appeared a series of "Letters
of John Ruskin to his Secretary," which, as the anonymous contributor
remarked, illustrate "Ruskin the worker, as he acts away from the eyes
of the world; Ruskin the epistolographer, when the eventuality of the
printing-press is not for the moment before him Ruskin the good
Samaritan, ever gentle and open-handed when true need and a good cause
make appeal to his tender heart; Ruskin the employer, considerate,
generous--an ideal master."

Charles Augustus Howell became known to Ruskin (in 1864 or 1865) through
the circle of the Pre-Raphaelites; and, as the editor of the letters
puts it, "by his talents and assiduity" became the too-trusted friend
and _protege_ of Ruskin, Rossetti and others of their acquaintance. It
was he who proposed and carried out the exhumation, reluctantly
consented to, of Rossetti's manuscript poems from his wife's grave, in
October, 1869; for which curious service to literature let him have the
thanks of posterity. But he was hardly the man to carry out Ruskin's
secret charities, and long before he had lost Rossetti's confidence[12]
he had ceased to act as Ruskin's secretary.

[Footnote 12: In the manner described by Mr. W.M. Rossetti at p. 351,
Vol. I., of "D.G. Rossetti, his family letters," to which the reader is

From these letters, however, several interesting traits and incidents
may be gleaned, such as anecdotes about the canary which was anonymously
bought at the Crystal Palace Bird Show (February 1866) for the owner's
benefit: about the shopboy whom Ruskin was going to train as an artist;
and about the kindly proposal to employ the aged and impoverished
Cruikshank upon a new book of fairy tales, and the struggle between
admiration for the man and admission of his loss of power, ending in the
free gift of the hundred pounds promised.

In April, 1866, after writing the Preface to "The Crown of Wild Olive,"
and preparing the book for publication, Ruskin was carried off to the
Continent for a holiday with Sir Walter and Lady Trevelyan, her niece
Miss Constance Hilliard (Mrs. Churchill), and Miss Agnew (Mrs. Severn),
for a thorough rest and change after three years of unintermitting work
in England. They intended to spend a couple of months in Italy. On the
day of starting, Ruskin called at Cheyne Walk with the usual bouquet for
Mrs. Carlyle, to learn that she had just met with her death, in trying
to save her little dog, the gift of Lady Trevelyan. He rejoined his
friends, and they crossed the Channel gaily, in spite of what they
thought was rather a cloud over him. At Paris they read the news. "Yes,"
he said, "I knew. But there was no reason why I should spoil your
pleasure by telling you."

On his arrival at Dijon he wrote to Carlyle, who in answer after giving
way to his grief--"my life all laid in ruins, and the one light of it as
if gone out,"--continued:--"Come and see me when you get home; come
oftener and see me, and speak _more_ frankly to me (for I am very true
to y'r highest interests and you) while I still remain here. You can do
nothing for me in Italy; except come home improved."

But before this letter reached Ruskin, he too had been in the presence
of death, and had lost one of his most valued friends. Their journey to
Italy had been undertaken chiefly for the sake of Lady Trevelyan's
health, as the following extracts indicate:

"PARIS, _2nd May, 1866_.

"Lady Trevelyan is much better to-day, but it is not safe to move
her yet--till to-morrow. So I'm going to take the children to look
at Chartres cathedral--we can get three hours there, and be back to
seven o'clock dinner. We drove round by St. Cloud and Sevres
yesterday; the blossomed trees being glorious by the Seine,--the
children in high spirits. It reminds me always too much of
Turner--every bend of these rivers is haunted by him."

"DIJON, _Sunday, 6th May, 1866_.

"Lady Trevelyan is _much_ better, and we hope all to get on to
Neufchatel to-morrow. The weather is quite fine again though not
warm; and yesterday I took the children for a drive up the little
valley which we used to drive through on leaving Dijon for Paris.
There are wooded hills on each side, and we got into a sweet
valley, as full of nightingales as our garden is of thrushes, and
with slopes of broken rocky ground above, covered with the lovely
blue milk-wort, and purple columbines, and geranium, and wild
strawberry-flowers. The children were intensely delighted, and I
took great care that Constance should not run about so as to heat
herself, and we got up a considerable bit of hill quite nicely, and
with greatly increased appetite for tea, and general mischief. They
have such appetites that I generally call them 'my two little
pigs.' There is a delightful French waiting-maid at dinner
here--who says they are both 'charmantes,' but highly approves of
my title for them nevertheless."

"NEUFCHATEL, _10th May_, 1866.

"Lady Trevelyan is still too weak to move. We had (the children and
I) a delightful day yesterday at the Pierre a Bot, gathering
vetches and lilies of the valley in the woods, and picnic
afterwards on the lovely mossy grass, in view of all the
Alps--Jungfrau, Eiger, Blumlis Alp, Altels, and the rest, with
intermediate lake and farmsteads and apple-blossom--very heavenly."

Here, within a few days, Lady Trevelyan died. Throughout her illness she
had been following the progress of the new notes on wild-flowers
(afterwards to be "Proserpina") with keen interest, and Sir Walter lent
the help of botanical science to Ruskin's more poetical and artistic
observations. For the sake of this work, and for the "children," and
with a wise purpose of bearing up under the heavy blow that had fallen,
the two friends continued their journey for a while among the mountains.

From Thun they went to Interlachen and the Giessbach. Ruskin occupied
himself closely in tracing Studer's sections across the great
lake-furrow of central Switzerland--"something craggy for his mind to
break upon," as Byron said when he was in trouble. At the Giessbach
there was not only geology and divine scenery, enjoyable in lovely
weather, but an interesting figure in the foreground, the widowed
daughter of the hotel landlord, beautiful and consumptive, but brave as
a Swiss girl should be. They all seem to have fallen in love with her,
so to speak the young English girls as much as the impressionable
art-critic: and the new human interest in her Alpine tragedy relieved,
as such interests do, the painfulness of the circumstances through which
they had been passing. Her sister Marie was like an Allegra to this
Penserosa; bright and brilliant in native genius. She played piano-duets
with the young ladies; taught Alpine botany to the savants; guided them
to the secret dells and unknown points of view; and with a sympathy
unexpected in a stranger, beguiled them out of their grief, and won
their admiration and gratitude. Marie of the Giessbach was often
referred to in letters of the time, and for many years after, with
warmly affectionate remembrances.

A few bits from his letters to his mother, which I have been permitted
to copy, will indicate the impressions of this summer's tour.

"HOTEL DU GIESBACH, _6th June, 1866_,


"Can you at all fancy walking out in the morning in a garden full
of lilacs just in rich bloom, and pink hawthorn in masses; and
along a little terrace with lovely pinks coming into cluster of
colour all over the low wall beside it; and a sloping bank of green
sward from it--and below that, the Giesbach! Fancy having a real
Alpine waterfall in one's garden,--seven hundred feet high. You
see, we are just in time for the spring, here, and the strawberries
are ripening on the rocks. Joan and Constance have been just
scrambling about and gathering them for me. Then there's the
blue-green lake below, and Interlaken and the lake of Thun in the
distance. I think I never saw anything so beautiful. Joan will
write to you about the people, whom she has made great friends
with, already."

"_7th June, 1866_.

"I cannot tell you how much I am struck with the beauty of this
fall: it is different from everything I have ever seen in torrents.
There are so many places where one gets near it without being wet,
for one thing; for the falls are, mostly, not vertical so as to fly
into mere spray, but over broken rock, which crushes the water into
a kind of sugar-candy-like foam, white as snow, yet glittering; and
composed, not of bubbles, but of broken-up water. Then I had
forgotten that it plunged straight into the lake; I got down to the
lake shore on the other side of it yesterday, and to see it plunge
clear into the blue water, with the lovely mossy rocks for its
flank, and for the lake edge, was an unbelievable kind of thing; it
is all as one would fancy cascades in fairyland. I do not often
endure with patience any cockneyisms or showings off at these
lovely places. But they do one thing here so interesting that I can
forgive it. One of the chief cascades (about midway up the hill)
falls over a projecting rock, so that one can walk under the
torrent as it comes over. It leaps so clear that one is hardly
splashed, except at one place. Well, when it gets dark, they burn,
for five minutes, one of the strongest steady fireworks of a
crimson colour, behind the fall. The red light shines right
through, turning the whole waterfall into a torrent of fire."

"_11th June, 1866._

"We leave, according to our programme, for Interlachen
to-day,--with great regret, for the peace and sweetness of this
place are wonderful and the people are good; and though there is
much drinking and quarrelling among the younger men, there appears
to be neither distressful poverty, nor deliberate crime: so that
there is more of the sense I need, and long for, of fellowship with
human creatures, than in any place I have been at for years. I
believe they don't so much as lock the house-doors at night; and
the faces of the older peasantry are really very beautiful. I have
done a good deal of botany, and find that wild-flower botany is
more or less inexhaustible, but the cultivated flowers are infinite
in their caprice. The forget-me-nots and milkworts are singularly
beautiful here, but there is quite as much variety in English
fields as in these, as long as one does not climb much--and I'm
very lazy, compared to what I used to be,"

"_LAUTERBRUNNEN, 13th June, 1866._

"We had a lovely evening here yesterday, and the children enjoyed
and understood it better than anything they have yet seen among the
Alps. Constance was in great glory in a little walk I took her in
the twilight through the upper meadows: the Staubbach seen only as
a grey veil suspended from its rock, and the great Alps pale above
on the dark sky. She condescended nevertheless to gather a great
bunch of the white catchfly,--to make 'pops' with,--her friend
Marie at the Giesbach having shown her how a startling detonation
may be obtained, by skilful management, out of its globular calyx.

"This morning is not so promising,--one of the provoking ones which
will neither let you stay at home with resignation, nor go anywhere
with pleasure. I'm going to take the children for a little quiet
exploration of the Wengern path, to see how they like it, and if
the weather betters--we may go on. At all events I hope to find an
Alpine rose or two."

In June, 1866, the Professorship of Poetry at Oxford was vacant; and
Ruskin's friends were anxious to see him take the post. He, however,
felt no especial fitness or inclination for it, and did not stand. Three
years later he was elected to a Professorship that at this time had not
been founded.

After spending June in the Oberland, he went homewards through Berne,
Vevey and Geneva, to find his private secretary with a bundle of begging
letters, and his friend Carlyle busy with the defence of Governor Eyre.

In 1865 an insurrection of negroes at Morant Bay, Jamaica, had
threatened to take the most serious shape, when it was stamped out by
the high-handed measures of Mr. Eyre. After the first congratulations
were over another side to the question called for a hearing. The Baptist
missionaries declared that among the negroes who were shot and hanged
_in terrorem_ were peaceable subjects, respectable members of their own
native congregations, for whose character they could vouch; they added
that the gravity of the situation had been exaggerated by private enmity
and jealousy of their work and creed. A strong committee was formed
under Liberal auspices, supported by such men as John Stuart Mill and
Thomas Hughes, the author of "Tom Brown's Schooldays"--men whose motive
was above suspicion--to bring Mr. Eyre to account.

Carlyle, who admired the strong hand, and had no interest in Baptist
missionaries, accepted Mr. Eyre as the saviour of society in his West
Indian sphere; and there were many, both in Jamaica and at home, who
believed that, but for his prompt action, the white population would
have been massacred with all the horrors of a savage rebellion. Ruskin
had been for many years the ally of the Broad Church and Liberal party.
But he was now coming more and more under the personal influence of
Carlyle; and when it came to the point of choosing sides, declared
himself, in a letter to the _Daily Telegraph_ (December 20th, 1865), a
Conservative and a supporter of order; and joined the Eyre Defence
Committee with a subscription of L100. The prominent part he took, for
example, in the meeting of September, 1866, was no doubt forced upon him
by his desire to save Carlyle, whose recent loss and shaken nerves made
such business especially trying to him. Letters of this period remain,
in which Carlyle begs Ruskin to "be diligent, I bid you!"--and so on,
adding, "I must absolutely _shut up_ in that direction, to save my
sanity." And so it fell to the younger man to work through piles of
pamphlets and newspaper correspondence, to interview politicians and men
of business, and--what was so very foreign to his habits--to take a
leading share in a party agitation.

But in all this he was true to his Jacobite instincts. He had been
brought up a Tory; and though he had drifted into an alliance with the
Broad Church and philosophical Liberals, he was never one of them. Now
that his father was gone, perhaps he felt a sort of duty to own himself
his father's son; and the failure of liberal philanthropy to realise his
ideals, and of liberal philosophy to rise to his economic standards,
combined with Carlyle to induce him to label himself Conservative. But
his conservatism could not be accepted by the party so called.
Fortunately, he did not need or ask their recognition. He took no
interest in party politics, and never in his life voted at a
Parliamentary election. He only meant to state in the shortest terms
that he stood for loyalty and order.


"TIME AND TIDE" (1867)

The series of letters published as "Time and Tide by Weare and Tyne"
were addressed[13] to Thomas Dixon, a working cork-cutter of Sunderland,
whose portrait by Professor Legros is familiar to visitors at the South
Kensington Museum. He was one of those thoughtful, self-educated working
men in whom, as a class, Ruskin had been taking a deep interest for the
past twelve years, an interest which had purchased him a practical
insight into their various capacities and aims, and the right to speak
without fear or favour. At this time there was an agitation for
Parliamentary reform, and the better representation of the working
classes; and it was on this topic that the letters were begun, though
the writer went on to criticise the various social ideals then popular,
and to propose his own. He had already done something of the sort in
"Unto this Last"; but "Time and Tide" is much more complete, and the
result of seven years' further thought and experience. His "Fors
Clavigera" is a continuation of these letters, but written at a time
when other work and ill health broke in upon his strength. "Time and
Tide" is not only the statement of his social scheme as he saw it in his
central period, but, written as these letters were--at a stroke, so to
speak--condensed in exposition and simple in language, they deserve the
most careful reading by the student of Ruskin.


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