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required brushed up a little. Lord Cole and I were talking about
some fossils newly arrived from India. He remarked in the course of
conversation that his friend Dr. B.'s room was cleaner and in better
order than he remembered ever to have seen it. There was not a
chair fit to sit upon, all covered with dust, broken alabaster candle-
sticks, withered flower-leaves, frogs cut out of serpentine, broken
models of fallen temples, torn papers, old manuscripts, stuffed reptiles,
deal boxes, brown paper, wool, tow and cotton, and a considerable
variety of other articles. In came Mrs. Buckland, then Sir Philip
Egerton and his brother, whom I had seen at Dr. B.'s lecture,
though he is not an undergraduate. I was talking to him till dinner-
time. While we were sitting over our wine after dinner, in came
Dr. Daubeny, 5 one of the most celebrated geologists of the day a
curious little animal, looking through its spectacles with an air very
dl<tt'mguc and Mr. Darwin, whom I had heard read a paper at
the Geological Society. 6 He and I got together, and talked all the

1 [Printed in W. G. Collingwood's Life and Work of John Ruskin, 1SKX), pp. 60-
<51. The letter has been referred to at p. xx. of Vol. XXVI., in connexion with
Raskin's early geological studies.]

2 [For Buckland, and Ruskin's acquaintance with him at Oxford, see Prateritu,
Vol. XXXV. pp. 204, 20.5.]

* [Lord Cole, afterwards (1840) Earl of Enniskillen, l>. 1807, </. 1880. F.R.S.,
D.C.L. of Oxford 1834. Sir Philip Egerton (1800-1881), M.I 1 , for West Cheshire
(183.5-1868), F.G.S. 182'.), author of various palteontological works.]

4 [The great bell in the tower of Christ Church : see Prteteritu, i. 227 n.
(Vol. XXXV. p. 200).]

5 [Charles Daubeny (179.5-18(57), M.L). Oxford, F.R.S., Professor of Chemistry,
1822-1853 ; of Botany, 1834 ; of Rural Economy, 1840 ; author of A Description o)
Actire and Extinct Volcanoes.]

u [See above, p. 1).]


To his FATHER OXFORD, 1838.

I must give an immense time every day to the Newdigate, which I
must have, if study will get it. 1 I have much to revise. You find
many faults, but there are hundreds which have escaped your notice,
and many lines must go out altogether which you and I should wish
to stay in. The thing must be remodelled, and I must finish it while
it has a freshness on it, otherwise it will not be written well. The old
lines are hackneyed in my ears, even as a very soft Orleans plum,
which your Jewess has wiped and re-wiped with the corner of her
apron, till its polish is perfect, and its temperature elevated.

March, 1838.

Nice thing to get over; 2 quite a joke, as everybody says when
they've got through with the feathers on. It's a kind of emancipation
from freshness a thing unpleasant in an egg, but dignified in an
Oxonian very. Lowe very kind; 3 Kynaston ditto nice fellows urbane.
How they do frighten people ! There was one man all but crying with
mere fear. Kynaston had to coax him like a child. Poor fellow ! he
had some reason to be afraid ; did his logic shockingly. People always
take up logic because they fancy it doesn't require a good memory, and
there is nothing half so productive of pluck ; they never know it.

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


[September, 1838.]

My DEAR SIR, I send you the number for December, 5 and hope
to have the pleasure of calling in a day or two with January. I
received your kind letter from Brighton. My tour in Scotland has, I
hope, afforded me too much information to be kept in a detached
heap. I have already referred it all to its regular heads, and I hope

1 [He failed, however, on this occasion ; hut won the prize in the following
year: see Vol. II. pp. xxiii. xxiv.l

The examination for " Smalls."]

3 [Robert Lowe, afterwards Lord Sherbrooke ; at this time an Oxford tutor.]

4 [Editor of the Architectural Magazine and other periodicals to which Ruskin
contributed : see Vol. I. pp. xxxvi., xxxvii.]

5 [No. vii. of The Poetry of Architecture, which appeared in London's Architectural
Magazine for December 1838 (see Vol. I. p. 159). There was no "January" number
of The Poetry, Ruskin contributing instead an article on the Scott Monument (Vol. I.
p. 247). For Loudon, see Vol. I. p. xxxvi., and Vol. XXXV. p. 630.]


it will add interest to my future papers. I think if I were to put it
in the form of a journal, it would lose much of its interest for want
of arrangement. A fact always tells better when it is brought forward
as proving a principle, than when it is casually stumbled upon by the
traveller. Your suggestion relating to Abbotsford tallies exactly with
my intentions when I set off to inspect it. I should not be deterred
by terror of criticism from attacking it both because I am fond of
fighting (verbosely), and because I do not think the antagonists
who would defend it could be very formidable, but there are other
reasons. I took my notebook with me to the place, intending Abbots-
ford to be the subject of No. 1 of a series of papers which I have
alluded to, somewhere, in the Arch. Mag., to be called the Homes
of the Mighty, 1 and for which I hoped your indulgence might find
room once in six months or so but I was grievously foiled. Had
Abbotsford one point about it deserving of praise, or even admitting
of toleration or had it shown the slightest evidence of the superintend-
ence of that mind whose plaything, whose sucking coral, it has been
the case would have been different ; but it does not and what purpose
could it possibly serve to endeavour or pretend to cast a stain upon
a part of Scott's reputation, insignificant enough, it is true, but which
might perhaps give pain to some of those whose affections are gathered
in his memory, and which, while it would have been daring to have
hurled it at the light of his living name, it would be only base to
cast upon the marble of his sepulchre ? Not that I have the vanity
to suppose that my lucubrations could be of a moment's consequence
in themselves, but I do think that in directing attention to the subject
at all, I should become as contemptible as if I were pointing out the
deformity of his limb or triumphing over the one weakness which was
the cause of his ruin and his death. I do not know whether you have
ever passed by Abbotsford but if not, I must beg you to spare me
a moment's time for my justification.

The garden is laid out in a manner peculiarly classical, an Italian
fountain being attached to ;i formidable baronial gateway, which is
joined on the other side to a low arcade covered with creepers, which
succeed perfectly in keeping off all the stray beams of sun which the
rascally climate admits of consequently the walks, instead of glaring
upon the eve with gravelly light, and crunching under your boot-heels,
are softly and pleasantly patched with green, and afford a rich, unctuous
surface. This useful arbour is on one side decorated by groups of
curious sculpture, tastefully built into a red brick wall, and sharing in
the softness of the clamp moss with which the path is protected. The

1 [See The Poetry of Arrhite<-tnr>>, 10i' (Vol. I. p. 78).]


house itself commences with a horrible-looking dungeon keep, which
rises full four feet above the level of the roof, is somewhat more than
two feet in diameter, and possesses the tremendous appurtenances of
six battlements and six arrow slits, as large as life, consequently split-
ting the donjon keep from top to bottom. Access to this place of
defence is obtained by a step ladder on the outside, somewhat wider
than the tower itself, and by which you attain the flagstaff in five
steps. Next comes a large flat side of wall, into the middle of which,
twenty feet from the ground, is built the actual wooden door of the
old Tol booth of Edinburgh, with lock, bars, and all, classically deco-
rated with an architrave, etc. The spectator, after sundry speculations
upon the mode of access to this celestial door, and much conjecture as
to the mode in which very little boys get at the knocker, goes round
to the grand front, which is a splendid combination of the English
baronial, the old Elizabethan, and the Melrose Gothic a jumble of
jagged and flanky towers, ending in chimneys, and full of black slits
with plaster mouldings, copied from Melrose, stuck all over it the
whole being tied together with tremendous stone cables, gracefully
coiled and knotted, and terminating with an edifying combination of
nautical and botanical accuracy in thistle tops. When we enter
through a painted glass door into a hall about the size of a merchant-
man's cabin, fitted up as if it were as large as the Louvre, or Ch.
Ch. hall, Oxford the first thing with which we are struck is a
copy of a splendid arch in the cloisters of Melrose. This arch, exqui-
sitely designed for raising the mind to the highest degree of religious
emotion, charged with the loveliest carving you can imagine, and in its
natural position combining most exquisitely with the heavenward pro-
portions of surrounding curves, has been copied by Scott in plaster,
and made a, fireplace, a polished steel grate and fender being set aside.
I need hardly, I think, go further. This was, to me, the finishing
touch, for it proved to me at once what without such proof not all
the world could have convinced me of, that Scott, notwithstanding all
his nonsense about moonlight at Melrose, had not the slightest feeling
of the real beauty and application of Gothic architecture.

You will judge from this whether any remarks on Abbotsford
would not be more painful than interesting. After all, the cobbler
with the statue of Phidias 1 played hardly a more ridiculous part than
I should by attacking Abbotsford, so that for my own sake I must
keep quiet. I hope you enjoyed your stay at Brighton it is a pretty
place for this season. Present my compliments to Mrs. London, and
believe me, my dear Sir, very respectfully yours, J. RUSKIK.

1 [Not Phidias, but Apelles : see Vol. XXXIV. p. 255 n.]



To W. H. HARRISON 1 [? 1839.1

MY DEAR SIR, At last I return your most interesting letter, with
many thanks for the opportunity of looking over it, and for your kind
long note of yesterday. I hope you did not hurt yourself when you
lost the path among the boughs it is an unluckily arranged place ;
our own servants lose their way very perpetually on dark nights.
There is much that is new to me in Dr. Croly's letter, especially the
latter part of it, where he observes that the " unclean spirits " of
Scripture are not devils, but demons, spirits of dead men. I don't
quite see where he has sufficient proof of this, though I do not see
much to the contrary ; but there seems to me less contradiction in a
fallen angel's entering into a man, and working upon the human soul,
than in tzvo human souls one of a dead person without memory of
its former living state, nor of those periods of time during which it
was released from body inhabiting the same body. I should like to
ask him about this there is certainly no mention in Scripture of more
than one Diabolus. The other parts of the argument are very good,
but I cannot help looking upon the whole question as one upon
which ingenuity is wasted owing to its excessively small importance.
It is plainly stated to all men's convictions that there shall be an
eternal life of the spirit and body together. What will be our faculties
and functions in that state is a subject of the greatest possible interest;
but whether we are, in the meantime, for a thousand years or two, to
be asleep, or dreaming, or decaying, or living in impotence of altering
our condition and in fear of judgment, and in a state which we know
is not to continue, appears to me matter of absolutely no interest
whatsoever. It does not matter one straw to me how total the destruc-
tion of myself, or of those whom I love, may be for any limited time,
however great, provided I have, at the end of that time, assurance of
their resurrection or re-creation. If we perish in the meantime, the
period will pa>s like one moment we shall fall asleep and wake to
Judgment, with no sensation of time having passed over us, though it
were a million of years ; and such appears to me the general sense and
purport of most passages of Scripture at least, unless we take Scripture
as we should take other books, with reference to the knowledge and
feelings of the writer, and not as a delivered infallible message. "Shall
the dust praise thee ? shall it declare thy truth? 1 ' 1 "There is no work,

1 [Iluskin's "First Kclitor": see Vol. XXXIV. pp. xxvii., i>3. For Dr. Cruly,
see Vol. XXXIV. p. <)5 ; Vol. XXXV. p. 140 .]

[I'.sahns xxx. t). The following Jiible references are: Ecclesiastes ix. 10, 5;
Psalms cxv. 17; Ixxxviii. 11.]


nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou
goest." " The dead know not anything." " The dead praise not the
Lord, neither any that go down into silence." " Shall thy loving-
kindness be declared in the grave ? or thy faithfulness in destruction ?
Wilt thou show wonders unto the dead?" and thousands of such
which one must either interpret literally, or else take much of Scripture
as indeed instructive and valuable, when considered with reference to the
local circumstances of its production, but by no means true in every
fact. But I have always thought the subject at once so completely
beyond all reach of legitimate discussion, and so totally devoid of
legitimate interest, that I have never paid it any attention.

To HENRY ACLAXD 1 [ Circa 1840 _j

Some months ago, when I asked you why you had not made
shadow darker than the dark side, you told me you were not aware
that it should be so. And some days ago, when I asked why you
had no yellow ochre, with your Indian red, you replied you did not
know that it was necessary, to make a grey. Now, both of these ad-
missions surprised me because ihe first piece of knowledge is requisite
to the true representation of every solid form ; and the second to the
production of the most important of all colours grey. 2 And both of
them are things that you should have known from the time you first
took up a pencil and a brush.

And your saying this led me to suppose forgive me if incorrectly
that you have paid very little attention to why's and wherefore's,
that you have acquired your very great power of drawing by feeling,
and a high degree of natural taste and intellect, and by the study
of the best masters acquiring of course, in practice, a habit of ob-
serving rules, of whose necessity you were not altogether aware.

Now, if this be so. and you have done so much without study,
you may rely upon it you can do anything and everything with it.
And you will find your art infinitely easier because more of a science,
and infinitely more amusing. And your success in this study will
depend far more on yourself, and on the education you give your own
mind, than on any instruction from men or books, if you accustom

1 [From Sir Henri/ Wenivorth Adnnd : A Ahmoir, by J. B. Atlay, 1903, pp. 101-
iO-i : for lluskin's friendship with Ac-land, see the Introduction (above), lu the
autumn of 1H40 lluskin's Oxford course was interrupted by illness, and he left
England at the end of September to winter abroad with his parents : for his
movements, see Vol. I. p. xxxviii. 71. Several letters written from the Continent
:*.iid elsewhere to his college friend, Edward Clayton, and some to his former tutor,
the Rev. T. Dale, are printed in that volume : see pp. 376-4G5.]

2 [Compare Cast us of Aglaia, 35 (Vol. XIX. p. 88).]


yourself, with every shadow and colour you notice, to inquire Why
is this shadow of such a form, and such a depth ? how will it change as
the sun moves ? how does it depend on the form of the object casting
it? how far is it a repetition of this form? wherein and why does it
differ ? whence the colour is cast why cast when it is possible and so
on with every circumstance if with everything that pleases you or
the contrary you inquire which is right you or it and why right
you will gradually acquire an acquaintance with facts and principles,
which will render your drawings not merely pieces of fine feeling, but
embodied systems of beauty, with the stamp of truth on every line.

I have not time to press upon you the necessity of this study and
partly I am afraid to do so, because I can hardly believe that you are
not engaged in it in some way or [other].

But partly to illustrate my meaning, and partly because I have
some views, which I believe to be my own, on the subject, I have
thrown together, on the enclosed sheets, a few hints relating to the
first principle of composition, showing how it, and all others, are to
be arrived at.

All that I hope is, that I may be able to induce you to follow up
the study of laws and rules, as necessary to all art, by showing you how
high in its order, how far above dry or degraded technicality, that
study ought to be.

Now, I do not say that you will, but I know many people woukl^
when they had read thus far, (if they had your power of drawing) throw
the paper into the fire, muttering Here's a fellow, who never did
anything but a bit of neat pencilling in his life, talking to me about
composition and study as if he were Claude or I a child. But, whether
I am presuming, or conceited, or whatever I may be, consider if, in this
instance, I may not be speaking truth. Might you not double your
power, if you gave some time to technicalities? if they are to be so
called. Do not you feel, in your efforts at fulfilling your really beautiful
and classical conceptions, the want of the mechanical education of the
hand the absence of an accurate knowledge of the truth of effect r
In the management of your light and shade, and other materials of
composition, do you know exactly n-here you depart from truth and
how far and why? Depend upon it, unless you do, you will be sub-
ject to perpetual mortification from a sense of failure, without being
able to detect the reason of it. Your eye will tell you that something
is wrong, and you will feel that your eye knows better what it is about
than your mind.

I know of no book which is a sufficient guide in this study. 1 Most

1 [Hi- lice ultimately Kuskiu wrote his Elements of Drawing (Vol. XV.).]


artists learn their rules mechanically, and never trouble themselves
about the reason of them. You had much better arrive at the rules
bv a process of reasoning you will then feel as well as know them.
And above all, in every good work of art, find out the mainspring
the keynote of its melody. Seek for the primary idea of the artist,
and observe how he has adorned and set it off for it is in the sub-
jugation of his secondary features that his powers of composition are
chiefly shown. Watch nature constantly and let the spirit of your
contemplation be a perpetual " Why."

As I have time by fits and starts I will send you such ideas as
I have received on the subject from the conversation of artists, and
my own modes of accounting for these rules. If you find my letters
a bore, you can throw them into the fire or tell me to mind my
own business. And once more, forgive me for seeming to assume the
slightest claim to be able to teach you. I appreciate and envy
your classical feeling, and fine perception of beauty in the very
highest walks of art. But when I came first to Ch. Ch. I showed
Hill 1 with some pride an effort to solve a problem which had puzzled
Blot. Hill said it was " very fine," but puzzled me with a quadratic
equation. One day I was declaiming to Gordon 2 on the poetical
merits of a noble passage in one of the Dramatists, but could not
construe the first line accurately, when requested so to do. In Draw-
ing only, I learned by grammar thoroughly and it is only as a
grammarian that I speak to you.

I have been chiefly induced to write you all this stuff' because
you have several times said something to me about not being able to
do what I could in some mechanical points. Now, as I believe you
meant what you said and as I can tell you exactly how I have
acquired any power I may have you may as well know it.


HKHNK HILL, September 1st [1840].

DEAR ACLAKD, (Make anybody read this to you, if it hurts you
to read.) I have just received your kind letter, which has done me
a great deal of good and relieved me from feelings which, among
several kinds of vexation that have plagued me lately, are not the

1 [The mathematical tutor : see above, p. 13. Biot (1774-1802), the French
physicist and mathematician : compare, above, p. 11.]

2 [The Rev. Osbonie Gordon, of Christ Church : for whom, see Vol. XXXV
p. 249.]


least painful. I never received any message whatever from Newton. I
had requested you to let me know that you were not angry, and when
no such message or note ever reached me and I was conscious of
having given you sufficient cause for some indignation and heard
nothing from you for three months was there not some cause for
supposing I had offended you ? And indeed it is selfish to say I
am glad to find it otherwise for your protracted illness should give
me more concern than any alienation from me. Besides, when I
thought over what I had written to you when I reflected with how
many men of high talent you must have associated how much more
you had seen than I had of the natural world and how much higher
and purer your taste was than mine (in all things but Turner] I
could not but feel that I had been thoughtless and presuming though
your modesty seems not to have considered it so and that even if it
had been in my power to give you any assistance, it was utterly and
absolutely inconsiderate to endeavour to engage you, when you were
wearied in mind and broken in health, in a study which, if more
interesting, is hardly less laborious than a course of Oxford reading.
I have this instant got your second note, and am very sorry that in
your present state of health I have made you take so much trouble,
but I am very grateful and very happy. As I was saying, when I
reviewed my epistolary misdemeanour I could not but conduct myself
to you much after the manner of my scamp of a spaniel to me when,
with crouched head and depressed tail, he betrays some delinquency
which has altogether escaped my notice, and would do so if it were
not for the fellow's conscience. I shall blow up Newton when I see
him again, for though he has not done any harm in the end, he lias
made me very uncomfortable for three months for I did not make
many friends at college, and could not afford to lose one of them
the best and the only one to whom I had been accustomed to look
up for advice and assistance by my own folly. Weil, enough of the
affair and th.uik you for taking it as you do. I am excessively sorry
to hear of your ill health, and entreat you not to risk it by pro-
tracted labour in town. I have carried the thing too far myself, and
wish all my books had been put on the first bonfire which astonished
my freshman's eyes, before I had used them as I have. I was working
away very hard till a fortnight ago, when a return of the discharge
of blood from my chest interrupted me disagreeably enough; 1 so
Travers- and Sir James Clark have ordered the books to be put in a

1 [See Pra-terita, ii. 10 (Vol. XXXV. p. 2(50).]

: [Benjamin Travers (17B-5-18-">8), P. U.S. 1847 and 18-">0 ; surgeon to (^uccn
Victoria. Tor Sir James Clark, see Vol. XXXV. j. '2W .]

I: J^A \ ,fc- -f^"t yx IM - ,^>-* - =-**


lumber room with my grandmother's samplers and sent me to Italy
for the winter. So I am getting me soft colours and hard colours,
and soft pencils and hard pencils, and tents, and umbrellas, and
Jlacons de voyage and all those one-legged and three-legged diable
boiteux looking contrivances for beguiling your innocence into a sup-
position that you are sitting upon something, and upsetting you the
moment you abandon yourself to your imagination ; and I hope to get
away in about a fortnight, and go by Normandy and Auvergne, seeing
Tours and Blois, and getting a few specimens about the Puy de Dome
and so by Marseilles to Genoa and Naples. 1

As for the perspective, I can tell you all the practical part of it in

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