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this to anybody.

Finally, my distinction between things as they are and ought to
be is rascally things are as they ought to be. (If my drawing master
had but told me this, I should have been a good artist by this time,
but the fellow talked about improving nature, and be d -d to him.)
Only before going to nature we must be told what they are, because
we cannot find out for ourselves quickly enough. I don't know about
Edinburgh. Wish I could come. Wish you a pleasant journey and
sojourn. Ever affectionately yours, J. RUSKIN.


[The second volume of Modern Painters appeared in April of this year. Iluskiu
then went to Switzerland and Italy with his parents: see Vol. VIII. pp. xx.-xxiii.]


PISA, June 27th, 1846.

MY DEAR SIR, I should have answered your very kind letter before,
had I not unfortunately been for a week or two out of the way of
receiving letters at all, so that the time between your writing and my
receiving was longer than it should have been. I need not say that I
am grateful to you for expressing your feelings to me, and that the
support of such assurances of sympathy is in every way precious. You
appear to feel at present perhaps a little too enthusiastically ; as I
suppose is generally the case with our first reception of that for which
we are prepared by previous tendencies of feeling in the same direc-
tion. ... I have to thank you for your invitation to Edinburgh ;
it is not impossible I may have the pleasure of seeing you there at no
very far-off day, but it will be admiration and not curiosity that brings
me there, for many of my very earliest memories are connected with
the old city, though more of them with the country north of the
Forth, I having been half bred at Perth, and having some impressions
of the Grampians and the Tay in consequence, which even your friend

1 [See Vol. IV. pp. 1W- 1^(5.1

- [From the ''Letters from John Kuskin to Dr. Brown" (No. 1) in fatter* of
Dr. John Hrou-n, edited by his son and 1). \Y. Forrest, 11)07, pp. 287-^80. l>r.
IJrown, at this time unknown to the author, had written to him in appreciation
of Modern Painters: for Kuskiu's relations with him, see the Introduction (above).]


Mr. Hill, 1 in his pretty vignette to Scott's Fair Maid, has very suffi-
ciently failed of realising. It is not his fault, I suppose, he could not
paint all the stones that I used to build piers with in the clear

One thing I was glad to see, or rather to conjecture, from your
note, that your father, whom I suppose a Presbyterian clergyman, had
not been alarmed by the frequent expressions of admiration for Romanist
works of art. These might have given rise to some dangerous sur-
mises, considering the late melancholy schisms in the quarter from
which they come, 2 and I fear may in some respects diminish with certain
classes of readers the usefulness of the book. I am the more anxious
on this head, because I have not yet been able to come to any steady
opinion respecting the real operation of art as directed to religious
subjects on the minds of the common people ; in landscape I have no
doubt whatsoever, and it was therefore to landscape that I chiefly referred
at the close of the loth Chapter : 3 neither have I any doubt of the
effect of religious art, even of that which is much infected with
Romanism, upon the minds of thoughtful and charitable persons who
will receive the good of it as it was meant ; but whether it had not been
better for Italy on the whole that none had ever existed, or how far
we may hope for good from a revival of a purified form of it, I dare
not say; it is a subject requiring attentive examination before writing
anything further respecting such art; and unfortunately it is almost
impossible to carry on an investigation of the kind without spending
more time abroad than I can spare. Respecting church decoration,
I have spoken more boldly, 4 my jnind being more made up. I do not
think it of much importance in itself; nay, I think that if much
importance were ever attached to it by us, so as to leave it to be at
all inferred that a church was less a church without it than with it,
instant and great evil would follow. But I think the feeling in us is
of importance which, of the two, would rather decorate and delight in
decorating the church than our own houses, and would endeavour to
manifest in buildings dedicated to God's service the highest qualities
of intelligence and feeling with which He has gifted us. I shall probably
find some topic for a longer letter in your papers when they arrive ;
meantime, I wish you would let me know why, of all things in the world,

1 [David Octavius Hill (1802-1870), landscape painter, referred to below,
pp. 6", 177- His vignette is on p. 14 in vol. xi. of the " Abbotsford " illustrated
edit : on of the Warerley Novels, 1846.]

2 [Modern Painters was published as by "A Graduate of Oxford," and the refer-
ence here is therefore to Puseyism.]

3 [See in this edition, Vol. IV. pp. 215-216.]

4 [See perhaps Vol. IV. pp. 215-218.]


you should differ with me upon railroads; 1 I am quite at a loss to con-
jecture what can be said in their defence; granting that their effect on
natural scenery is trivial, that their interference with the rest and char-
acter of rural life is of no moment, and that sometimes the power of
rapid locomotion may be of much service to us or save us from some
bitter pain or accident which our absence at the moment must have
involved, yet the general effect of them is to render all the time that we
pass in locomotion the same, except in feverishness, as that passed at
home, and to enable us to get over ground which formerly conveyed to
us a thousand various ideas, and the examination of which was fertile in
lessons of the most interesting kind, while we read a page of the morn-
ing paper. One traveller is now the same as another : it matters not
whether you have eyes or are asleep or blind, intelligent or dull, all
that you can know, at best, of the country you pass is its geological
structure and general clothing; your study of humanity is limited to
stokers and policemen at the stations, and of animal life to the various
arrangements of black and brown dots on chessboard-looking fields.
I can safely say that my only profitable travelling has been on foot,
and that I think it admits of much doubt whether not only railroads
but even carriages and horses, except for rich people or conveyance of
letters and merchandise, be not inventions of the Evil one. How much
of the indolence, ill-health, discomfort, thoughtlessness, selfishness, sin,
and misery of this life do you suppose may be ultimately referable
altogether to the invention of those two articles alone, the carriage
and the bridle ? I am not jesting. Think of it and tell me, believing
me always very gratefully yours,



LUCKHNK, 30th Aug. [1846].

MY DEAR RICHMOND, I have not written to you hitherto, because
I had nothing to tell you about Italy but what was disagreeable,
and I knew you would hear of us through Boxall.* His last letter,
however, gave me a very bad account of you overwork and so on
and I am anxious to have a line from you. It is too late now for you
to come here to Switzerland, I mean for me, but it is the place you

1 [See the passage at the beginning of Modern Painters, vol. ii. (Vol. IV.
pp. :K5, .'37).l

2 [Sir William Boxall, R.A., whose acquaintance lluskin had made at Venice
in the preceding year : see I'rateritn, Vol. XXXV. p. 373.]


ought always to come to, and I hope in returning we may cross your
coming out. I wonder you did not give up everything when you
found yourself overworked and come out with Acland or at least
make an appointment with him somewhere. I had the good fortune to
meet with him at Chamouni, and we had one day together Mrs. Acland
giving him up for a glacier ramble, and waiting for us at the edge
of the ice, to make tea in the most benevolent and delightful way
conceivable, and then walking, or to speak more correctly, skimming,
down the hill with us like a swallow; but they professed themselves
obliged to go away the next day. I did not like to press them to
stay, and I think perhaps they had some notions which on my account
prevented their staying, when they could ; however, away they went,
much to my sorrow, for Acland had unluckily met with Forbes the
day before, and Forbes had set him on a nasty, useless, ugly, bother-
ing glacier walk in which we lost our day and I couldn't take him
to any of the noble places. We found some beasts in the ice, however,
which pleased him, and perhaps for practical purposes he learned as
much upon it as he could anywhere, but he got no conception of
Chamouni. I was only there four days myself. I didn't want to go
at first, because it always gives me too much vexation to leave it.
But we went because it was said some rocks were bared on the Mont
Blanc in unusual places, All newspaper the Mont Blanc is as change-
less as the blue sky above it; but though we had wretched weather,
I never thought Chamouni so unearthly it is quite awful, and quite
alone nothing that I have yet seen can be compared with it in any
wise ; its inexhaustibleness and perpetual freshness to me I am truly
thankful for other scenery palls. I never entered it with so much
wonder, nor left it with so strong regret ; when you come abroad you
should really go there, and not to Italy. Italy is quite killing now
for any one who cares about it; the destruction I saw last year
gave me a good idea of the extent of it, but none of its pace.
The rate at which Venice is going is about that of a lump of sugar
in hot tea. It is the same everywhere one roar of " Down with
it rase it rase it, even to the ground " from one side of Europe
to the other, and such idiocies, building everywhere, instead all
nations agreeing to be unnational, apeing each other in ape's tricks ;
as Southey well said, disease is contagious, madness and folly in-
fectious, but health incommunicable, wisdom and virtue hardly to be
communicated. 1 They have pulled clown their grand old bridge, here,

1 [' ' Disease, vice, folly and madness are contagious ; while health and under-
standing are incommunicable," etc. Sir Thomas More; or, Colloquies on the Progress
and Prospects of Society, 1829, vol. i. p. 37.]



to build hotels on the site of it; they have built a bridge at Berne-
such a bridge look here

there's a design for you lower arch a semicircle, upper one less than
semicircle so as to get it narrowest at top, and this pretty vandyke
outside by way of variety. I am getting very hopeless. I can't see
what people are coming to ; there seems no counter current, no defence,
no recovery; all that they do is wrong all that is right they destroy.
Whenever I go I find change, and all change for the worse. I can't
get on myself neither. I work hard, but I find myself always exactly
in the position of Hunt. I can do nothing that I haven't before me;
I cannot change, or arrange, or modify in the least, and that amounts
to a veto on producing a great picture, because nature don't stay long
enough. I have just been up here looking at Turner's subject, and
to see the way the fellow picks out the plums! the beautiful way in
which he knows what's good for him, and brings out glories by the
most insignificant changes. Anybody can pick out the picturesque
things and leave the plain ones, but he doesn't do this nor will this
do, as you know but of the ugly things he takes and misses
and cuts and shuffles till everything turns up trumps, and that's just
what isn't in me. I can only feel it when it is done. I have got
some useful bits of detail, however, especially in architecture though
in Italy I lost the greater part of my time because I had to look
over the first volume of Modern Painters^ which I wanted to bring
up to something like the standard of knowledge in the other. When
it is sent you, you needn't if you have time to look at it at all
look at anything but the additions to the chapter headed the "appli-
cation," * where there is something that may interest you about the
Titian landscape and perhaps in the chapter on vegetation, too, where

1 [1'art ii. sec. i. ch. vii. ('' Genersil Application of the Foregoing Principles"),
a chapter much altered in the third edition (of 184G).J


you will see I have mentioned Palmer in a way which I hope he
will like 1 not that I did it to please him, for in these matters I
forget that I have friends as much as I can; and you will see I have
pitched into Harding 2 though I have every reason to be grateful to
him for much kindness and I am afraid he won't understand it, but I
can't help it. I am not going to write any more for some time, for I
have got a kind of stagger this year in Italy; the Romanism there is
so awful, and the whole state of the people so wrong, that I think
there their art can only have done them mischief and I want to learn
more of the real bearings of it on their history before I venture any more
assertions. It is an awkward thing to come from Venice to Florence.
After that Venetian Academy, Padua and the Campo Santo don't come
nice at all ; nobody held his own but Masaccio. I have been tormented,
too, by counter reports about Turner some say he is quite gone, others
that he is better than last year. I find myself thrown back upon him
always from nature, and I don't know how to get over his failure or
do without him, when fail he must. It has come so suddenly, too, just
after his grandest time. It's hardly any use your troubling yourself
to write now, if you are to be at home in October ; if not, send me
a line to Billiter St. to say if you are coming abroad and how you
are. We shall return, I believe, by Dijon and Troves towards the end
of September unless we are driven away sooner by the rain all the
year's rain is coming at last, and the Reuss here is running about
the town as if it didn't know the way through it; the lower streets
look more like Venice than Lucerne. I suppose we are going to have
our share of the hailstones, like you ; it has been a strange season
intensely hot, storms, whirlwinds, and now earthquakes in the south
and floods here.

I trust that all your family have escaped the illnesses which we hear
of about London. My Father and Mother desire their kindest regards.
Ever, my dear Richmond, yours affectionately, J. RUSKIN.

Acland says the portrait of his wife turned out in every way
delicious he didn't say delicious I forget what it was he said, but
it was quite as strong and less culinary.

1 [The passage, containing the mention of Samuel Palmer (for whom, see
p. 52), appeared in eds. 3 and 4 only : see Vol. III. p. 604 .]

2 [See Vol. lit. p. 201.]




DENMARK HILL, October 28th, 1846.

MY DEAR SIR, I ought before to have thanked you for your
obliging present of Wit and Humour two characters of intellect in
which I am so eminently deficient, as never even to have ventured upon
a conjecture respecting their real nature. Yours very truly,


[In the spring of this year lluskin went to the Lake District. Some letters
written thence to his mother are given in Vol. VIII. pp. xxv.-xxxi. He was also
at Leamington and in Scotland : ibid., pp. xxvii.-xxviii.J


DENMARK HILL, llth Feb. [1847].

MY DEAR Sm, I was much grieved this evening by receiving
your letter written under circumstances of illness and fatigue, and
expressing feelings so unnecessarily, unwarrantably painful, and more
that my delay in thanking you for your paper in the North British 3
had left you so long in this state of anxiety. I hope you will not
give the subject one thought more, except so far as it may be a
source of pleasure to you to know that you have infinitely delighted
an old and tender-hearted friend of mine, who could never forget the
critique in Blackwood, and who certainly would have shrunk like a
sea-anemone at .shadow, had any part of the present one been unkind
or unjust. I do not think there is one whit more fault-finding than
is fully and fairly warrantable, certainly no more than is expedient,

1 [Raskin's publisher. The book referred to is Wit and Ilumour selected from
the English Poets, with an Illustrative Essay and Critical Comments. By Leigh Hunt.
Smith, Elder & Co., 184G. The letter is given in facsimile in the Strand Magazine,
December 1895, p. 670.]

* [No. 2 of the "Letters from John lluskin to Dr. Brown" in Letters of Dr.
John Brown, 1907, pp. 290-291. The last portion (after "third volume") was not
there given.]

* [A review of Modern Painters, vol. ii., in the North British Review, February
1847, vol. vi. pp. 401-430: an extract from it is given in Vol. IV. p. xli. For the
"critique in lilacku'ood" a violent attack on Modern Painters, vol. i. see Vol. III.
p. xliii.]


for I fear that if your kind spirit of praise had thoroughly pervaded
the article there had been much chance of all being set down as the
work of my friends and private abettors, and much of the credit it
will now carry refused in consequence. Nevertheless, for my own part,
I was glad to hear you had not written the passages in question, for,
though preparing to consider them and benefit by them as I best
might, I was a little aghast at the request that I would never be
eloquent any more ; l for I do think that some things cannot be said
except passionately and figuratively, and my own tendencies at present
are so entirely prosaic, and such delight as I once had in, or power
over, the fancy so fast evaporating or freezing, or sinking, as Words-
worth has it, from the fountain into the "comfortless and hidden tc'e//," 2
that it pains me to be thrust away from the last hold that I had, or
thought I had, upon the altar, and ordered into the ice-house of mere
philosophy, there to be kept cool and dry. Yet I am not sure but
your friend is right, altogether right, and I am sure that your feel-
ings of pleasure, not to say your expressions, are overcharged I mean
in your letters to me expressions which could be warranted only by
the elaborate work of an aged man. There is nothing in the book
which is not less than I ought to have done, considering the singular
advantages I have had, and I am either a very stupid, or at least
very slow person, or else the multiplication of opportunity has a
tendency to deaden both energy and imagination, for I am always
busy, and yet with no effect proportioned to the time, or coequal with
the results which I see obtained in every direction around me by my
inferiors in age, leisure, education, and opportunity. Alas, it will be
long before you have any third volume. I hope Mr. Hill 3 would give
you my reasons for not sending the Slaver, and that you thought
them just. I do not know what pictures you have got, but I have
often found that as clergymen can never tell what will be the effect
of their sermons, and often find that most good has been done by
passages or discourses to which they had given the least measure of
time and pains, so the more I see of public judgment the less I can
calculate of the effect of this picture or that, the less [I am] able to
advise a popular selection. Many that I should have thought incompre-
hensible or violent I find are admired ; some whose quietness I should

1 ["We wish that, in his third and, in some respects, most important volume,
the author would determine at once and for good not to be eloquent any more "
(p. 429). The system of editorial interpolation in the articles of contributors has
been a fruitful source of literary misunderstandings : see for a case in point the
Memoirs and Correspondence of Coventry Patmore, vol. i. p. 193.]

2 [Wordsworth, "A Complaint"; quoted also in Vol. XXXV. p. 012.]
8 [See above, p. Gl ; for Turner's "Slaver," see Vol. III. p. 57-.]


have thought popular I find despised. Nor have I any hope of much
effect from a single exhibition ; it is only through continual teaching, a
home examination of engravings, that real good is done. Your article
will be in both ways useful, and I much thank you for it, always with
protest against its over praise.

I am very sorry to hear you have been so seriously ill ; please
write and tell me when you are thoroughly better. Yours ever truly,



[Early in 1847.]

What you say of the want of feeling for Religious Art in England
is too true, but happily it exists more among the artists than the
public. There is a violent current of feeling turned that way at
present, and I anticipate much from Lord Lindsay's forthcoming book. 2
Produce anything we shall not, at present, but I fully anticipate seeing
the Carraccis and Murillos and Carlo Dolcis, and coarse copies of
Titian and Rubens, and all the tribe of the potsherd painters, and
drunkard painters, cleared out one by one from our galleries ; their
places supplied by Angelico, Francia, and Perugino so far as the works
of these great men are rescuable from the grasping apathy of the
Italians, who hold them fast, as a dead man holds what was once near
his heart, though it is no use to him now. You may regret the state
of things in England, but in Italy it is something frightful. With us
it is ignorance and bad teaching ; with them a mortal corruption
of the whole mind. But there is one element in the English mind
which will, I fear, keep it from doing anything very pure in art
its consciousness of the ridiculous. So long as a painter dreads giving
a ludicrous idea so long as he feels himself in danger of laughing, or
mocking at anything so long he is always tumbling on the other
side and losing sight of Truth in the effort to be sublime losing sight
of that genuine, heartfelt, faithful, loving reali/ation which is the soul
of Religious Art. Now the state of Italy at the time of her greatest
art was something to put laughing nearly out of the question. Battles
like Montaperti or Meloria, governors like Eccelino, kings like Charles
of Anjou, 3 keep the corners of people's mouths down wonderfully : and

1 [From The Life and Letter* uf Joseph Secern, by William Sharp, 1892, pp. 211-
212. For Ruskin'ti first acquaintance with Severn, see Pra'terita, Vol. XXXV.
p. 274. For an earlier letter to him (1H46), see Vol. IV. p. 3!).'?.]

2 [Sketcltt'ti of the History of Christian Art; for Uu.-kiu's review of the book, see
Vol. XII.]

3 [For the battles of Montaperti (ll'(iO) and Meloria (1284), and for Charles
of Anjou, see Vol. XXIII. pp. 79, 102, 13G svq. ; arid for f.cceliuo, Vol. XII.

p. iy~ /I. J


at the time of the great burst of Florentine intellect, at the time of
Dante the great representation of all the brightest qualities of the
Italian mind the public and private suffering and exertion was so great
that I should hardly think a man in Florence ever smiled. The portrait
of Dante, which has been drawn with extreme love and faithfulness by
Giotto, 1 and which is beyond all comparison the finest example of that
master I have ever seen, is in its quiet, earnest, determined, gentle
sadness, the very type of the spirit of the good men of his time (and
in his time men were either very good or very bad) ; it is the " sad-
wise valour, the brave complexion, which leads the van and swallows up
the cities." 2 But you cannot conceive a smile on such a face (and the
Italians, even in their degradation, retain this peculiar incapacity, they
seem insensible to the ridiculous). Hence you will find, in all the works
of the time, a fervent desire to put pure truth before you, by what-
ever means, or image, it can be suggested. When Dante tells you that
the head of Ugolino was in Hell so above that of the Archbishop
Ruggieri that the one seemed to be hat to the other, 3 he has evidently
not the slightest idea or fear of making you smile. His own feelings
are too intense and serious to admit of any the slightest degradation
by the image, and he says just what will make you understand the
position of the heads thoroughly. And so always : the souls meet and
kiss in Purgatory (come) S'ammusa Vuna con Taltra formica, Forse a
spiar lor via e lor fortuna.*- Guido Guinicelli plunges into the fire,
come per Tacqua il pesce andando al fondo? To anybody who has ever
seen an ant or a fish, these images explain the whole thing in a

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