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were dry, and established myself till the day after to-morrow, if the
weather be fine. Blessings on the riz de veau ; if it hadn't been for
it, I should have lost the finest valley view I ever saw. You cannot
conceive the effect of the magnificent limestone ranges which border
the valley of the Isere, loaded as they are fathoms deep with the
winter snow, so that the aerial qualities of great Alps are given to the
noble qualities of the lower mountains, and the old town of Conflans,
all towers and crags, comes in exactly where it ought, in glorious ruin.
(N.B. The most miserable wreck of a town I know mighty fine in

1 [Ruskin's servant : see Vol. IV. p. xxiv.]



42 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I

distant effect, but Heaven pity all who live in it.) Conflans used to be
the chief place of the district, but it is now utterly gone to decay, and
the town in which I am lodging, Albertville (formerly THopital), on
the other side of the river, has taken all the blood out of it. There
is a deserted chateau at Conflans, which will come into my study to-
morrow ; its master has just married the daughter of a man who when
young kept the -paste at Chambery, and got turned out for imposing
on travellers; he became a soldier, went to India (this is the waiter's
story), got to be captain and colonel, allied himself in some way with
one of the rajahs, betrayed him to the English, got a great part of
his fortune, returned, and built a street and a chateau and a fountain
at Chambery, and marries his daughter to the young lord of this
castle at Conflans.

(ALBERTVILLE, Wednesday evening.) I have been drawing all day at
Conflans, in lovely weather. I sent George into the town to look at
it. He walked all through it, and came back in great wonder and
disgust, saying he had met just six living creatures in the town two
dogs, three children, and a man out of his mind ! I have been sitting
all day with my back against a wall, and have got a pretty view
certainly, one which I believe I shall like exceedingly in a day or two,
but the place is so lovely that one is disgusted with all one does on
the spot. The vines must be exquisitely lovely here in their season ;
one great big rock like Bowder-stone, 1 covered all over with a trellis,
as your lodge is, for the sake of its heat. Only they let the grass
grow in their very vineyards. . . .-

I am off to-morrow morning early, and hope to post this letter at
Grenoble. I am at the mercy of the postillions in the way of pay-
ment, for nobody here knows the distance to anywhere. I gathered
some hawthorn to-day, and almond blossom. Heard the cuckoo, and
lay on some mossy rocks till after sunset without being cold, besides
sitting out all day. So I consider the summer begun.

A heavenly moonlight to-night, with only half a moon. All the
snowy mountains as clear as by day. I forgot, didn^t I ? to answer
about the money ; you gave me sixty pounds to start with. I have clear
accounts of all. The sixty pounds will, I believe, be just worked out
to-morrow night : ten went, all but half-a-crown, before I got to Calais.

(GRENOBLE, half-past four.) Delicious drive again ; most perfect
vine country, houses now completely Italian ; cows all over the fields,
vines in trellises above, exquisite mountain forms; if you have got the

1 [In Borrowdale.]

5 [The passage here omitted, describing the "vicious-looking population," has
been printed as a note to Ruskin's poem on them : Vol. II. p. ^88.]



1845] CARRARA AND LUCCA 43

Liber Studiorum from Turner, you will find a most accurate study of
the plains and mountains as you approach. 1 The Grande Chartreuse
mountain all over snow; shan't go. George says this place is a regular
old rookery ; it is not a very handsome town, certainly, and the " Hotel
des Ambassadeurs " mighty queer. Off to-morrow early for Gap. Just
time for these few words : table d'hote at five, not washed yet ; post
at six; excuse blotchy seal.



To his FATHER

LUCCA, Saturday Evening, May 3rd ['45].

I sent out in a hurry to the post office on my arrival here, in
hopes that I might have a notice of your having received my Albert-
ville and Grenoble letters, but I find only the duplicate of the Genoa
one : this keeps me a little anxious, for fear my mother should have
got a notice from Annecy of my detained letter, and tormented herself
ill or something. However, it is no use fidgeting myself, as well as you.

I am in glorious quiet quarters in this comfortable house, 2 and at last
settled to something like rest. I pushed on here to-day, not because
I found nothing either at Magra and Carrara, but because I found
too much. I can't recollect when we were there before, visiting the
church at Carrara : at any rate, it is a perfect gem of Italian Gothic,
covered with twelfth-century sculpture of the most glorious richness
and interest, and containing two early statues of the Madonna, which
gave me exceeding pleasure; besides Roman sculptures innumerable
built into walls and altars. At Sarzana, or near it, there is a won-
derful fortress of the Visconti, full of subject; there are castles on
every peak round the Magra valley; the church at Sarzana is most
interesting, and the mountain scenery so exquisite about Carrara that
I saw at once, if I began stopping at all, I might stop all May. So
I broke through all, with many vows of return, and here I am among
the Fra Bartolommeos with every conceivable object of interest or
beauty close at hand, delicious air, and everything as I would have
it (except that the marble post has fallen off one of the tombs of San
Romano since I was here). When I shall get away I cannot tell. I
shall go first to Pisa, and then by Pistoja to Florence. Pistoja is
an important town, and far better for sleeping at than Empoli.

You cannot conceive what a divine country this is just now. The

1 [The Plate called by Turner "Chain of Alps from Grenoble to Chamberi."
The drawing for it is No. 479 in the National Gallery : for a note on it, see
Vol. III. p. 237.]

* [Presumably the Albergo dell' Universe : see Vol. XXIII. p. xl. n.~\



44 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [IMS

vines with their young leaves hang as if they were of thin beaten gold
everywhere the bright green of the young corn sets off the grey
purple of the olive hills, and the spring skies have been every one back-
grounds of Fra Angelico. Such softness I never saw before. The air
too is most healthy ; one can do anything. I walked up to the Carrara
quarries to-day at eleven o'clock in cloudless sunshine; it was warm
certainly, but I did not feel the least oppressed, and yet I have been
sitting out in front of the cathedral, watching the sunset sky and the
groups of people, till it was all but pitch dark, without the slightest
sensation of even coolness.

It was lucky ^ came on here to-day, for this happens to be one of
the only two days in the year on which the "Volto Santo di Lucca" 1
is shown. It is an image of Christ, as large as life, cut in wood, and
certainly brought here before the year 700. Our William Rufus used
to swear by it, " per volto di Lucca " or " per vultum Lucce." The
body is dressed in paltry gold tissue, which has a curious look on a
crucifix, but the countenance, as far as I could see it by the candle-
light, is exceedingly fine.

The people here are very graceful and interesting. Black and
white veils beautifully thrown over the braided hair, and the walk, as
well as the figure, and neck, far finer than at Genoa. To make
amends and balance a little on the other side, the postillions, doga-
niers, and country people appear knaves of the first and most rapacious
water. Never content, get what they will ; always sulky, fifty people
at a time holding out their hands to the carriage; custom-houses
every five miles, one for passports, another for searching luggage, and
all asking barefacedly and determinedly for money. I would give ten
times the sum, willingly, to see something like self-respect and dignity
in the people, but it is one system of purloining and beggary from
beginning to end, and they have not even the appearance of gratitude
to make one's giving brotherly ; they visibly and evidently look on
you as an automaton on wheels, out of which they are to squee/e as
much as they can without a single kindly feeling in return. I gave
up the postillions' payment to Couttet 2 at Digne, finding it bothered
me to death, and I am well out of it. Couttet has fights of a quarter
of an hour at every stage hereabouts : they end with him in his giving
half-a-paul too little ; with me they would end in giving a paul too
much. There was hardly any water in the Magra. 8

> [Sec Vol. X. p. 451 ; Vol. XXVII. p. 312.]

- [The Chamouui guide, now actinic as Kuskin's courier : sec Vol. IV. pp. xxiv.-
xxv.]

:) [Over which, when in flood, his mother had in 1841 been carried : see Pra-teritd,
ii. 2.5 (Vol. XXXV. p. 2<>6).]



1845] FRESCOES AT PISA 45



To his FATHER

PISA, Tuesday Forenoon [May 13, 1845].

. . . l I do believe that I shall live to see the ruin of every-
thing good and great in the world, and have nothing left to hope
for but the fires of the judgment to shrivel up the cursed idiocy of
mankind. I feel so utterly powerless, too, myself; I cannot copy a
single head, and I have no doubt that if I want to take a tracing,
for which you know it is necessary to put the paper upon the picture
I have not the slightest doubt but these conservators, who let the
workmen repairing the roof drop their buckets of plaster over whole
figures at a time, destroying them for ever, will hinder me with my
silky touch and fearful hand from making even so much effort at the
preservation of any one of them. And their foul engravers are worse
than their plasterers; the one only destroy, but the others malign,
falsify, and dishonour. You never saw such atrocities as they call
copies here. And as if they didn't do harm enough when they are
alive, the tombs for their infernal rottenness are built up right over
the walls and plastered up against them as in our parish churches.
Two frescoes of Giotto torn away at one blow to put up a black
pyramid ! 2

It is provoking, too, that I feel I could do a great deal if I had
time, for the lines are so archaic and simple that they are compara-
tively easily copiable, and I could make accurate studies of the whole
now left about a fortieth part but it would take me a year or so.
Giotto's Job is all gone; two of his Friends 1 faces and some servants
are all that can be made out. I shall like to get a study of some
little bit, but don't know what to choose nor where to begin. I think
I shall go off to Florence in despair. Why wasn't I born fifty years
ago ? I should have saved much and seen more, and left the world
something like faithful reports of the things that have been ; but it is
too late now.

Confound this thin paper. I've written on two sheets, and haven't
time to write over again. Give my love to George Richmond and ask

him what the d he means by living in a fine house in York Street,

painting English red-nosed puppets with black shoes and blue sashes,
when he ought to be over here, living on grapes, and copying every-
thing properly.

The weather is very unfavourable to me : it was very draughty in



1 [The beginning of this letter has heen given in Vol. III. p. 205 n.
1 [For this piece of vandalism, see Vol. IV. p. 38.]



46 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. 1

the Campo Santo, so that I could not sit to draw ; and then a thunder-
storm came, and it is now most dark and gloomy.

I am quite well, however, and when the rain came I was luckily
taken to a collection of pictures belonging to an antiquary here who
superintends all the publications (Rosini, I think 1 ). He came to me,
and has told me a great deal, though I find that he does not feel the
art that he has, except as it is curious historically or rare accidentally.
But he has great traditional and technical knowledge of pictures, and
a divine collection. I have seen the first Fra Angelico there that
I have yet met with, and most genuine and glorious ; a first-rate
Pinturicchio, a Gentile Bellini, a divine Perugino, and a most pure
Raffaelle, all in one day, and I feel thrown on my back.

I am quite well, however, and the views and walks are most
precious. Poor little Santo Maria della Spina, they want to pull it
down to widen the quay ; but, as they say in King Lear, " That's but
a trifle here!" 2 I've no doubt it'll be done soon. God preserve us
and give us leave to paint pictures and build churches in heaven that
shan't want repairs.

To GEORGE RICHMOND

FLORENCE, PIAZZA DEL DITOMO, June 4th, 1845.

DEAR RICHMOND, I haven't written to you, because you know it
isn't of any use unless I could write a folio. I haven't written to any-
body else, neither, but that because I couldn't spare time which was
not the case with you. Oh, if I had you but with me. I find my
eye pretty sure, and can swear to a Giotto across a church, any day
though among a host of " Scuola di G.'s" but it takes me a fearful
time before I can make up my mind about the " stato ristorato "s
and you would save me weeks. I've been here a week, and haven't
been into the great gallery only at St. Mark's, and the Novella, and
the Accademia, and the Carmini but I mustn't talk, now, for I have
something else to say to you. I hope this will be sent you by a lady
whom you will have great pleasure in knowing, and who is desirous of
knowing you Mrs. Shuttleworth. Her daughter is the most wonderful
creature that ever touched pencil, I think, and if you don't think so
too I shall be disappointed; but Mrs. Shuttleworth's looking for a
master for her, and asked me, and I am terrified lest they should spoil
her, and so I thought it best to refer to you at once, and please think

1 [For the Abb.! Kosiui, see Pra-terita, ii. 120, 129 (Vol. XXXV. pp. tf.VJ,

302). |

2 [Act v. sc. 0.]



1845] PICTURES AT FLORENCE 47

well about it. I know you will when you once see the drawings; and
don't let them teach her the black network style nor any style. Just
write to Mrs. Shuttleworth at Totteridge, Barnet, Herts and arrange
an hour with her to come and see you, and bring some of her daughter's
drawings, and then you will know what to do. I know how busy you
are, but you must do this for me and you will enjoy the drawings.
I sent you an impudent question the other day, and you send me my
Father's answer. Well, we must hope the best. What do you think
I found here to-day but a glorious little history of Job on a predella
under a " Scuola di G." which I suspect to be Giotto's own J the first
thought of the Campo Santo ; and there is an Elihu here and none
in the Campo unless he is scratched out. I was very much puzzled
for want of him; and I found in the same place a Trionfo della Morte
of a most singular kind but I can't talk of Orcagna's or not the
figure striking at Castvuccio Castracani. But I can't write any more
it's no use. Yours ever affectionately, J. RUSKIN.

Best love to Tom. How does he like Turner this year ? My father
sent me two sketches from Punch? and they have made my mouth
water dreadfully they are so like. Remember me to Mrs. Richmond.
I trust you are all well.

1 [The picture referred to is in tlie Cappella dei Medici at Santa Croce. Ruskin's
note in his Diary of 1845 is as follows :

"It is a Madonna with 'Sanctus Gregorius Papa' on her right, and
'Sanctus Job Propheta' on her left. Underneath are three passages from
the history of Job the destruction of the sons (common enough) ; the
bringing of the intelligence by the servants (in which the expression of
the servants is true and good, and the figure of Job rending his clothes
well told) ; and the conversation with the friends and Elihu (who occurs
here, though not in the Campo Santo) and this figure is also fine."

The "Trionfo della Morte" is in the passage at Santa Croce which leads to the

Sacristy and to the Cappella dei Medici, thus described in the Diary:

"At the farther end of the passage is a commonplace work, interesting
only from the little predella below it, which is a Trionfo della Morte
founded on Orcagna, with these differences that Death, though dressed
in grey in the same way, and not a skeleton but the hand and foot
merely thin and skinny, has got a skull for a head. He rides a bull,
which lie goads with the left hand, throwing with his right his lance at
a young man like Castruccio, who is riding away with a hawk in his fist.
This hawking is used as a type of the vanities of life, not only here and
by Orcagna, but by Simon Memmi in the Spanish Chapel."

For other notes on the frescoes of Job in the Campo Santo at Pisa, see Vol. XII.

pp. 213-214; and on Orcagna's "Trionfo della Morte" there, ibid., p. 224 and n.]

2 [Written skits: see Punch, vol. 8, p. 23b % ; e.g., a motto for Turner's "Morning
returning from the Ball " :

C( Oh ! what a scene! Can this be Venice? No.
And yet methinks it is because I see
Amid the lumps of yellow, red and blue,
Something which looks like a Venetian spire," etc.]



48 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1845



To ha FATHER

FLORENCE, Tuesday Evening, l~th June [1845].

I sit down to tell you more particularly how I feel in Florence.
All that you remember is most true, and to any one who has feeling
all these things are most precious, so long as you can have peace
about them. But Florence is the most tormenting and harassing place
to lounge or meditate in that I ever entered. Get into the current
of people in Cheapside, on the right side of the way, and you are
carried along in comfort, and may be as absent as you like. But
everybody here is idle, and therefore they are always in the way.
The square is full of listless, chattering, smoking vagabonds, who are
always moving every way at once, just fast enough to make it disagree-
able and inevitable to run against them. They are paving, repairing,
gas-lighting, drumming, from morning till night, and the noise, dust,
tobacco smoke, and spitting are so intolerable in all the great thorough-
fares that I have quite given up stopping to look about me. In fact,
it is dangerous to do so, for the Italian carts always drive at anybody
who looks quiet. Out of the town it is a little better, but everything
of life that you see is entirely void of sympathy with the scene. If
there were a shadow of costume or character left in the people of the
upper classes, I should not complain. But there is no costume, except
the great, ugly Leghorn hat; there are no pretty faces I have not seen
one since I left Lucca there are no vestiges of old Florentine faces no-
thing but French beards, staring eyes, and cigars sticking out of mouths
that only know the exercise of eating and spitting. In the galleries
you never can feel a picture, for it is surrounded, if good, by villainous
copyists, who talk and grin, and yawn and stretch, until they infect
you with their apathy, and the picture sinks into a stained canvas.
One sometimes gets a perfect moment or two in the chapels or cloisters
of the churches, but the moment anybody conies it is all over. If
monk, he destroys all your conceptions of monks; if layman, he is
either a French artist with a peaked hat and beard for two, or a lazy
Florentine, who saunters up to look at what you are doing, smokes in
your face, stares at you, spits on what you are studying, and walks
away again; or perhaps nearly as bad as any it is an English cheese-
monger and his wife, who come in and remark, as happened to me
the other day while I was looking at the gates of Ghiberti, those
which M. Angelo said were fit for the gates of heaven. 1 Two English
ladies came and stopped before them. " Dear me," said one, " how

1 ^ee Vol. XVI. p. 40, and Vol. XXIII. p. 243.]



1845] RESTORATION AND NEGLECT 49

dirty they are!" "Oh, quite shocking!" said the other, and away
they went.

Neither if, even in early morning, you can get a quiet hour is
the town itself free from incongruities that destroy all feeling. The
palaces are grand beyond all that I ever dreamed of, and I am never
tired of looking at their big stones. But there is not a single house
left near them of the old town. They stand among new shops and
Parisian rows of Rue Castiglione houses they are gutted inside and
whitewashed their windows are filled with green blinds and coarse
framework, and fat English footmen lounge at their doors. I don't
know how other people feel, but I carft feel a bit, through all this.
I look on the thing merely as so much interesting matter for study,
but it never raises emotion. Now I complained of the way St. Michele
was left at Lucca, 1 but yet, melancholy as it is, it is better so than as
they do things here. All that remains at Lucca is genuine; it is
ruined, but you can trace through all what it has been, and the ruin of
it is very touching you know that there are the very stones that were
laid by the hands of the tenth century. But here, in Giotto's cam-
panile, they are perpetually at work chipping and clearing, and putting
in new bits, which, though they are indeed of the pattern of the old
ones, are certainly wanting in the peculiar touch and character of the
early chisel. So that it is no longer Giotto's ; it is a copy a restored
picture of which parts indeed remain, but whose power of addressing
the feelings as a whole is quite gone. 2 You will ask what I would
have, if I would neither have repairs nor have things ruined. This I
would have : Let them take the greatest possible care of all they have
got, and when care will preserve it no longer, let it perish inch by
inch, rather than retouch it. 3 The Italian system is the direct reverse.
They expose their pictures to every species of injury rain, wind, cold,
and workmen and then they paint them over to make them bright
again. Now, the neglect is bad enough, but the retouching is of
course finishing the affair at once. At the church within ten feet of
me while I write that of the Misericordia, a bit of old Giotto Gothic
they let the hawkers of prints and ribbons make a shop of its
porches, stick bills against its sculptures, and drive nails between its
stones to hang clothes upon. When this has gone on long enough,
they will pull the church down, or replace it in the modern style.

Take them all in all, I detest the Italians beyond measure. I have
sworn vengeance against the French, but there is something in them

1 [In previous letters.]

2 [This is an opinion which Ruskin changed: see Vol. XXIII. pp. 415 *er/.]

3 [Compare the letter on restoration in Vol. XXXIV. p. 532.]
XXXVI. j,



50 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [IMS

that is at least energetic, however bad its principle may be; but these
Italians pah ! they are Yorick's skull with the worms in it l nothing
of humanity left but the smell.

To do the Grand Duke justice, he is, I believe, an excellent man,
and does everything that he thinks good for his people i.e., he pardons
everybody that does anything wrong, until his prisons are choke-full,
and he is bringing Tuscany into a state little better than the Pope's
territories. They manage better at Lucca cut off eight heads there at
once, a fortnight ago.

I have not time to write more this morning Wednesday and I
have expressed myself very badly, for I was half asleep. Two o'clock
I shall send my letter at two instead of the morning, as it gives me
time to get yours if there be any. I have just met Mr. and Mrs.
Pritchard 2 in the Gallery going to Switzerland to-morrow. They
didn't know of Gordon's change of route. She is looking very well ;
he seems a nice person but I can't write any more. Only, please send
me to Bologna they'll come by post well enough two cakes of
Newman's Warm Sepia Soho Square; take care you get the right
shop.

To GEORGE RICHMOND

FLORENCE, 28th June, 1845.

DEAR RICHMOND, I am sure you will believe that it was with
sincere sorrow I received to-day from my father notice of the suffering
you have undergone, and the evil that has visited you ; and though,
perhaps, I only inflict more pain ou you by writing and intruding
myself upon you, yet I know you will excuse this in the assurance of
my sympathy. I felt it the more because I have been, as was natural
here, thinking of you every day, and referring to your judgment so far
as I could conjecture it, and hoping for assistance from you hereafter;
and I was going to muster up some moments to write you, but little
thought I should have so sad an occasion. I much regret my flippant
letter and the trouble I gave you about Mrs. Shuttleworth, coining at
this time; still, I have no doubt that you will have pleasure in both
the mother and the daughter. They have suffered much, and I believe



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