John Ruskin.

The works of John Ruskin (Volume 36) online

. (page 2 of 74)
Online LibraryJohn RuskinThe works of John Ruskin (Volume 36) → online text (page 2 of 74)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

gallant Marshal.! The seductions of Venice are entwining themselves
around you both, but pray remember mamma; her sight,J I am sorry to
say, is worse a degree. Do get home by 15th or 20th April. Do not
run off to Rome as to Paris. Be content to speak the Lingua Toscana
only this year, and next you may speak the Lingua Toscana in Bocca
Komana. Say if money safe.

"I sent you Mrs. Patmore's, formerly Andrews, letter. They think
they can be at once familiar visiting acquaintance ; but no, we are forced
to repel as civilly as we can ; I only invite her call. We have had to
fight off Mrs. Cockburn, Lady Colquhoun, and Mrs. Colvin, || all trying to
come. We are i.ot able, and very happy in a state of repose. We went

* The " Effie " of this letter is the Phemy for whom The King of the Golden
Hirer was written when she was twelve years old, as told in JHlecta, Part III. 1
[J. R.J

t Radetzky. State official ball at Verona. [J. R.]

% I have much to say yet of my mother's sight, whether failing or persisting.
[J. R.]

Mrs. Coventry Patmore. Of whose daughter Blanche I have somewhat to
say also.* [J. R.]

|| Professor Colvin's mother. [J. R.]

1 Not in Part III. as ultimately issued.

* See letters to her in this Collection (Vol. XXXVII.).



INTRODUCTION xxi

to Richmond * Wednesday. I find Hayes a gentle gentleman,^' a very
pleasing person, nothing extraordinary.

" I see Sharpe f changes Rickman's terms, and divides Tracery Windows

int A.D.

Geometrical 124-5-1315

Curvilinear . 1315-1360

Rectilinear . .... 1360-1500

" Be sure to say, as sure as you can, Where J Letters will find you four-
teen days from date of yours. Mamma joins in most affectionate love to
you and Effie ; again many sincere thanks to both of you, and kind regards
to Miss Ker."

Ruskin, whenever he was away from home, wrote to his father every
day. The number of letters to him is thus very great, but there are
many years when, owing to his being at home, there are few or none.
After his father's death (in 1864), letters to his mother were similarly
sent; but these are much shorter and slighter. The reason is partly
to be found perhaps in lack of intellectual sympathy, but mainly in
the fact that owing to her failing eyesight she could only read with
difficulty. To Buskin's account of his mother given in Prceterita,
nothing need be added beyond such incidental illustration as various
anecdotes related in these Introductions have already afforded, 1 and as
may be found here and there in letters of the present Collection. 2
Ruskin set aside, however, for use " somewhere in Prceterita" an early
letter from his mother, some extracts from which are here printed in
memorial of her unfailing solicitude for the welfare, spiritual as well
as bodily, of her son :

"DENMARK HILL, I2th June, 1843. MY DEAREST JOHN, I have been
made happy by receipt of your Saturday's and Sunday's letters this morn-
ing. Thank God, you keep well. . . . Your dogs are out of patience at
your unaccountable (to them) neglect, and behave with the most reckless

* " Star and Garter." Mr. Hayes, Dr. Grant's eldest (step) daughter's husband ;
she was just married. [J. R.]

t Historian of Cistercian Architecture, Furness Abbey especially. He lived
at Lancaster. 3 [J. R.]

| "Where" and "Letters" to catch my attention, because I never did say
where letters would find me far enough in advance. [J. R.]

Not Mary Kerr, neither Alice of Huntley Burn.* [J. R.]

1 See, for instance, Vol. V. p. xlviii., Vol. XIX. p. xxxvi.

4 See, for instance, p. 468 n.

3 See a reference to him in Vol. XXXVII. p. 35.

* For Mary Kerr and Huntley Burn, see below, p. 530.



xxii INTRODUCTION

impropriety. . . . What strange whims even men of first-rate talents get
into their heads. Does Mr. Gordon forget that we have an Almighty In-
tercessor ? . . . I am sorry, very sorry, that such differences should take
place anywhere, but more especially that they should have arisen in Oxford.
What are the real doctrines of what is termed Puseyism ? Why do they
not state them fairly and in such plain terms as may enable people of
ordinary understandings to know what they do think the truth ? Any
time I have heard Mr. Newman preach, he seemed to me like Oliver
Cromwell to talk that he might not be understood. . . . Surely our
Saviour's consecration must have effected a change in the elements if an
ordinary minister can ; but these are things too much for me. I thank
God I have His word to go to ; and I beseech you to take nothing for
granted that you hear from these people, but think and search for yourself.
As I have said, I have little fear of you, but I shall be glad when you get
from among them. Your book continues to fully answer all my wishes.
This is not saying a little for it. I have written a good deal, and have
said nothing as I would. I slept little last night, and am even more
than usually stupid. God bless you, my own love, and teach and guide
you now and always, prays most earnestly your affectionate mother,

" M. RUSKIN."

Ruskin, as will have been seen, was staying at Oxford, and his mother
was anxious lest the taint of Puseyism should infect him. "I shall be
glad when you get from among them " : this was an attitude of suspi-
cion towards his Oxford associates, as towards Carlyle and others at a
later time, which she steadily maintained, and it caused some necessary
alienation of sympathy and economy of confidence between mother
and son. Traces of irritation will be found occasionally in letters
in this Collection, 1 but the reader should remember that Huskin never
allowed such to appear in his relations with his mother herself. These
were always beautiful, and deeply impressed every one who witnessed
them. The following letter from her, written five years after her
husband's death, when Raskin was making her his daily correspondent,
was also put into type for Prceterita :

"DENMARK HIM., August 23rd, 1869- MY DEAREST, I should be
thankful to pay you with double interest the more than comfort and
pleasure I have had, and I think latterly more than at any former times,
from your letters. I have had some experience of one of your large
grasshoppers, and have no desire to have anything more to do with such
acquaintance. I dislike the insect tribe altogether, except as they excite
my deep reverence towards the Life sustaining them. I am glad you

1 See, fur instance, below, pp. 405, 407.



INTRODUCTION xxiii

come by Dijon. I am thankful for your joy in moss and flowers of
humble growth, and am somewhat impatient to see all your pictures
under your own care.* I am more than delighted to find you resemble
St. Carlo Borromeo ; have you the old picture you bought formerly ? I
am told John Ruskin Simson l shows decided picture-estimating talent. I
trust I may be able to see in some way what you have been employed
about. As I have written, I have always read f your letters myself. I
am reading your Queen of the Air with more and more deep sense of
its merit. Ethics of the Dust is becoming to me more what it ought
always to have been. Dr. Acland's is sweet and good, and Angy 2 also.
Joanna will, I hope, manage very nicely. Cousin George J is good and
kind, and regards you entirely, and is decidedly clever ; I think talented
and upright. A sad blundered scrawl I send. Joan sends love, and
wrote yesterday to Berne.

"I am, my dearest, with a thousand thanks for all the pains you have
taken to give me pleasure and save me anxiety, always your affectionate
Mother, MARGARET RUSKIN."

Another document which Ruskin set aside for use in Proeterita is the
following letter from Carlyle beautiful and characteristic written on
the mother's death :

"CHELSEA, 6 Dec., 1871. DEAR RUSKIN, My heart is sore for you in
these dreary moments. A great change has befallen ; irrevocable, inexorable,
the lot of all the world since it was first made, and yet so strangely
original, as it were miraculous, to each of us, when it comes home to
himself. The Wearied one has gone to her welcome Rest ; and to you
there is a strange, regretful, mournful desolation, in looking before and
back ; to all of us the loss of our Mother is a new epoch in our Life-
pilgrimage, now fallen lonelier and sterner than it ever seemed before. I
cannot come to you ; nor would it be proper or permissible, for reasons
evident. But I beg you very much to come to me at any hour, and let
me see you for a little, after those sad and solemn duties now fallen to
you are performed. Believe always that my heart's sympathies are with
you, and that I love you well. Yours, T. CARLYLE."

* Instead of only her own, and Lucy Tovey's, at Denmark Hill. [J. R.]

t Her sight now beginning to grow dim. See following notice of its injury
in her youth by too fine needlework. [J. R. but this was not written Ed.j

* William the chess-player's son, by his first wife nearly as strong a player
as his father, of whom, with his sister, more hereafter. [J. R.]

"Altogether" had been " alltogether " the "all" is scratched out; the
second n blotted in Joanna. [J. R.]

1 The son of Mrs. Severn's sister Kate ; he died young.

2 Acland's daughter.



xxiv INTRODUCTION

After the death of his mother, Husking daily letter in absence was
sent to his dearly loved cousin, companion, and adopted daughter,
Miss Joan Agnew (Mrs. Arthur Severn). Letters to her begin, indeed,
some years earlier, from the time when she came, as told in Prceterita,
to live at Denmark Hill. It is needless to add anything here to what
Ruskin himself has written of "Joanna's Care." The letters to herself, 1
and not less the frequent references to her in those to others, sufficiently
show how much her affection and companionship meant to him.

Of letters to Huskies school friends and early tutors, it has not
seemed worth while to include many in this Collection, as several have
been printed in a previous volume, 2 while others, which the editors
have seen, are often very long, and seldom very interesting. It is on
the Avhole an extremely serious youth that these early letters disclose ;
but those to a College Friend, printed among his Juvenilia, show that
the young Ruskin knew how desipere in loco.

Of greater interest are those to W. H. Harrison, which begin in
1838. His connection with Ruskin has already been described. 3 He
was Rusk in's "first editor," and the correspondence often discusses
the Poems by "J. R." which appeared in Annuals edited by his
friend. The poet was not so enamoured of his productions as to be
unable to treat them humorously.

Letters to Ruskin's College friends, or tutors, at Christ Church
follow. One of these, with whom he used to correspond at great
length, is the Rev. Walter L. Brown, his tutor there. He is referred
to in Praeterttaf but the correspondence shows that he filled rather a
larger space in Ruskin's thoughts than is there suggested. He died
in 1862, and Ruskin in a letter of condolence to his son (January 31)
writes of him as " the only one of my old masters from whom I could
or would receive guidance." The guidance, if received, was accom-
panied with much objection and criticism on Ruskin's side, as is
sufficiently shown by the letters here selected from a larger number.

In some respects it may be surmised that Ruskin owed more to
Osborne Gordon, who, if less given to discussion of the immensities,
was ever ready to supplement his pupil's enthusiasms by his own cool

1 It should be stated that the letters to Mrs. Severn published in these
volumes have been selected by the editors, and not by her.

1 The Letter* to a Col/eye Friend (Vol. I.). The series of letters to his friend
Edmund Oldtield, on Painted (ilass (collected in Vol. XII.), belong to the
year 1844.

3 Vol. II. p. xix.; Vol. XXXIV. pp. 93 teq.

4 Vol. XXXV. pp. 200, 202, 306.



INTRODUCTION xxv

common sense. This is an aspect of their relationship indicated in
PrceteritaJ- and more fully told at various places in this edition. 2 An
interesting letter to Osborne Gordon, on Modern Painters, has been
given in an earlier volume. 3

The dearest and most enduring of Ruskin's Oxford friendships
was with Henry Acland. Born in 1815, he was four years senior
in age and two years in College standing. He formed, as we have
heard, 4 a protective friendship with the younger man, and nothing
need be added to RuskhVs beautiful account of Acland in Prceierita
while Acland's corresponding tribute to his friend has already been
cited. 5 Ruskin on his side assumed the position of mentor in matters
of art, and the earliest Letters to Acland are written in this role
(below, p. 19). 6 In London, as in Oxford, the friends saw much of
each other. When Acland had been absent from College, owing to
ill-health, he records Ru skin's name among those present at a " wine "
to celebrate his return ; he mentions " a most agreeable party " at
his lodgings in London, with "Richmond, Ruskin, Newton"; and in
November 1841 he records a " day spent," at Herne Hill, "with curious
Ruskin and his more curious household." 7 By good fortune, they met
at Chamouni when Acland was there on his wedding journey, and the
friendship grew yet closer, Ruskin becoming almost " an adopted son,"
as he says, 8 in Mr. and Mrs. Acland's household. Acland was with
him and Millais at Glenfinlas in 1853. 9 Ruskin did what he could
to warn his friend against over-work (pp. 115-116), as in after years
Acland was to try and save Ruskin from its dangers. He could rely
on Acland's good offices as a physician in the case of Rossettfs fiancee,
Miss Siddal (p. 205), and they were closely connected in plans for the
Oxford Museum (Vol. XVI.). It was a source of great pleasure to
both of them that they were elected Hon. Students of Christ Church
at the same time (1859). Acland, as we have seen, 10 when first given
an appointment at Oxford (in 1845), had cherished the design of
getting his friend there in some official capacity also, and letters in
this Collection refer to successive endeavours to get Ruskin elected
Professor of Poetry (p. 524) and Curator of the University Galleries
(p. 542). The opportunity ultimately came with the institution of the

1 Vol. XXXV. pp. 250, 333, 436, 522 n. a e.g., Vol. XVII. p. Ixxv.

3 Vol. III. p. 665. * Vol. XXXV. pp. Ixiii., 197.

6 Vol. XXX. pp. 324, 325.

6 Compare Acland's statement in 1853, Vol. XII. p. xxiii.

7 Sir Henry Acland, a Memoir, by J. B. Atlay, pp. 71, 101.
* Vol. XXXVII. p. 234.

9 See Vol. XII. p. xxiii. 10 Vol. XX. p. xviii.



xxvi INTRODUCTION

Slade Professorship of Fine Art, and Raskin's letter of thanks to Acland
on that occasion has already been printed. 1 The friends now became
nearer to each other than ever. Iluskin, during his Oxford days,
constantly stayed in A eland's house, and letters to Miss Acland 2
pleasantly illustrate lluskin's affectionate relations with the family. 3
Very rarely did her father miss one of Rtiskin's lectures. Many of
those who attended them must remember the stately presence of the
Regius Professor of Medicine (as also frequently that of Liddell), and
the little asides of affectionate reference which Ruskin used to intro-
duce. Acland loyally took up the cudgels for Ruskin in connexion
with the road-digging at Hincksey. 4 Even the dispute about vivisec-
tion, which caused Ruskin's rupture with Oxford, left his friendship
with Acland unimpaired. There is, indeed, among Ruskin's men-
friendships none which was so completely untouched by fret or jar.
The photograph by Miss Acland, which has been given in the pre-
ceding volume, was taken in 1893; it is a beautiful record of "the
two old men of whom, after more than fifty years' friendship, it might
well be said that 'they were lovely and pleasant in their lives.'
It was their last meeting; and the fact that Ruskin was able to enjoy
his friend's society with much of the keen and affectionate eagerness of
old placed it among the happiest memories of his declining years." 5

Another Christ Church friend, also somewhat Ruskin's senior, was
Charles Thomas Newton, mentioned above, who rapidly became distin-
guished as traveller, 6 diplomatist, excavator and archaeologist. They
had many tastes in common, and Ruskin acknowledges the sound, if
chaffing, advice which Newton gave him about his early drawings. 7 A
certain note of Philistinism, perhaps assumed to tease his friend, has
appeared in passages already given in which Ruskin describes Newton
as a travelling companion. When Ruskin was absorbed in "the
picturesque," Newton voted for "the picnicturesque," 8 and when he
dilated upon the beauty of the snows of Chamouni, Newton fixed
his eyes on the moraines and was of opinion that " more housemaids
were wanted in that establishment." 9 There was, Ruskin tells us,

1 Vol. XX. p. xix. * Below, p. 216, and Vol. XXXVII. p. 38.

3 Acland's older brother, it will bu remembered, was one of the original trustees
of the St. George's Guild.

4 See Vol. XX. pp. xli., xliii., xliv.

* J. B. Atlay's .Memoir, p. 47(5.

* His charming Travel* and Dixroreriett in the Levant (18G5) describe his excava-
tions at Halic-.irnassus and elsewhere: see for particulars of his career, Vol. XXXV.
p. 384 n.

7 See Vol. XXXV. pp. 385, Gil. Vol. X. p. xxiv.

Prceterita, ii. $ 150 (Vol. XXXV. p. 385).



INTRODUCTION xxvii

a more fundamental difference between him and his friend. He in
his early years was absorbed in landscape, Italian art, Gothic archi-
tecture ; Newton was a Greek ; and a friendship, which at one time
was close and affectionate, was partly buried beneath the marbles
of Halicarnassus. Yet as late as 1869 Ruskin refers to Newton as
"a sure, and unweariedly kind guide, always near me since we were
at College together." l Among other help thus rendered was a
paper which Newton wrote for Ruskin on Representations of Water
in Ancient Art; to this paper, included as an appendix in Stones of
Venice, one of our letters refers (p. 113).

A mutual friend of Ruskin and Acland was George Richmond, the
painter. He was Ruskin's senior by ten years, and it was through
Acland that they became acquainted. The first meeting was in the
winter of 18401841, when Ruskin was staying at Rome with his
parents. 2 The acquaintance then formed with George Richmond ripened
into a friendship which lasted throughout Ruskin's life. He speaks in
Prceterita of " the privilege " which he and his parents " had in better
and better knowing George Richmond." 3 At first the relationship was
somewhat that of a rebellious youth to a reverend signior, but Ruskin
acknowledges the debt he owed to Richmond's teaching. 4 He saw
much of Richmond in the years when the earlier volumes of Modern
Painters were being written, and it is through Richmond's portraits that
the appearance of " the author of Modern Painters " became known to
the public. "Have you not flattered him?" asked the parents, with
reference to the head given in Vol. XVI. (frontispiece). " No," replied
Richmond; "it is only the truth lovingly told." The portrait here
included (p. Iviii.) is perhaps less pleasing. The anecdote is typical of
the friendship between the two men, as it appears in Ruskin's letters
to Richmond. In the Richmond household, he became almost as much
a member of the family circle as in that of the Aclands; and to
his friend's children, filled somewhat of the same position that their
father had occupied towards him. " Ruskin used to come," says one
of them (Sir William Richmond), "to my father's house to what we
called ' high tea ' ; other friends dropped in to this genial meal and
spent the evening in conversation, almost always finishing up with
music. We children were allowed to sit up and partake of the intel-
lectual as well as emotional feast. How well I remember the gaunt,

1 Vol. XIX. p. 291. It may be added that Newton married Mr. Arthur
Severn's eldest sister.

2 See Prtfterita, Vol. XXXV. p. 275. 3 Vol. XXXV. p. 278.
4 llnd., p. 337.



xxviii INTRODUCTION

delicate-looking young man, with a profusion of reddish hair, 1 shaggy
eyebrows like to a Scotch terrier, under them gleaming eyes which
bore within them a strange light, the like of which I have never seen
except in his. . . . The eyes told of an imaginative fire as well as of
penetrating observation, likewise of the kindness and generosity of his
nature." 2 At Denmark Hill, adds Sir William Richmond, " I spent
many happy days with Ruskin, never to be forgotten." The letters
show how much interest Ruskin took in the development of the young
painter's talent, and some of the later ones in the series tell us with
how wistful and grateful an affection Ruskin looked back in old age
to happy days sj)ent with George Richmond arid his circle. 3

Of Dean Liddell and his family Ruskin has given some notice in
Prceterita.* He hardly, however, does justice there to his early intercourse
with Liddell; the letters already published about Modern Painters 5
show the two men engaged in close and earnest discussion. That
Liddell was one of the early admirers of that book we have already
seen, 6 and his admiration appears again in a letter of sympathy in
some personal trouble which he wrote in 1846 to Acland. "Think
less," he said, "and relax yourself more; do not pore over things.
Look at Nature and read Ruskin's books." " It was to Liddell, in con-
junction with Acland, that Ruskin's election to the Slade Professor-
ship was due, and the letters here printed, or already given, show that
Ruskin and the Dean were on more affectionate terms 8 than the
references in Prceterita might suggest.

With the publication of the first volumes of Modern Painters
Ruskin's correspondence begins to take a wider range. We now see
him as a rising light, admitted into literary and artistic circles (fo'/orc',
p. 37). Among those who sought him out was Samuel Rogers, already
eighty years of age at the date of Ruskin's first letter to him (ibid.}.
Ruskin had been admitted into the Presence before, and had not
shown proper reverence. 9 But he now knew better, and his letters to
the poet, given here, show him as an adept in the art of pleasant
flattery.

1 Raskin's hair, however, was never " reddish " ; it was li^ht brown.
* "Raskin as I Knew Him," in St. Gconje, vol. v. p. 288.

3 See, for instance, Vol. XXXVII. pp. 439, 588. Arnonij the earlier letters to
Richmond, that at p. 5(51 below may be instanced as a ^ood example of Raskin's
wise counsel.

Vol. XXXV. pp. 203-204, 505-508. l In Vol. III. pp. G67-G76.

Vol. III. p. 6(58 w .

J. I. AtUiy's Mcinmr of Ac/and, p. 117.

See the Dean's remark cited in Vol. XX. p. xxxiii.

See Pra-tvritu, Vol. XXXV. p. i3.



INTRODUCTION xxix

With Rogers, Ruskin was only on terms of respectful homage in the
presence of gracious condescension. Of another, and a very different,
literary personage of the day Mary Russell Mitford (1787-1855) he
was a devoted friend. He describes her among the circle of modest
authors, in the days of the Annuals, who were within his ken, through
his " first editor," W. H. Harrison " merry Miss Mitford, actually
living in the country, actually walking in it, loving it. 11 To her studies
of country life, and of children, 1 he attached no small importance
in literary history. Her writings, he said, " have the playfulness and
purity of the Vicar of Wakefield without the naughtiness of its occa-
sional wit, or the dust of the world's great road on the other side
of the hedge." - She, on her part, was an early admirer of Modern
Painters? and was as enthusiastic in praise of the author as of his
book. Ruskin had first been to see her in January 1847. " Have
you read an Oxford Graduate's letters on Art ? " she wrote to a friend
(January 27). "The author, Mr. Ruskin, was here last week, and is
certainly the most charming person I have ever known. The books
are very beautiful, although I do not agree in all the opinions ; but
the young man himself is just what if one had a son one should have
dreamt of his turning out, in mind, manner, conversation, everything." 4
The visit was repeated ; and Miss Mitford was more and more delighted
with him. " He has been here two or three times," she wrote (July 26) ;
" he is by far the most eloquent and interesting young man that I have
ever seen grace itself and sweetness." 5 Miss Mitford was herself a
famous talker: there must have been much in common between the
authoress of Our Village and Ruskin, and each no doubt in turn proved
a sympathetic listener to the other. She was at this time nearing the
end of her life ; she was sixty when Ruskin first met her, in poor
health and not overburdened by worldly goods. In her Recollections of
a Literary Life, published in 1852, she says : " My most kind friend Mr.



Online LibraryJohn RuskinThe works of John Ruskin (Volume 36) → online text (page 2 of 74)