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P.S. I ought to tell you that we have sent cards to no one, or
most certainly this formality would not have been omitted with Miss
Mitford.



To GEORCJE RICHMOND

DKNMAKK HILL, 1st of May [1848].

MY DEAR RICHMOND, I found on my return home with my wife
on Thursday your drawing of my father 1 placed opposite me in my
own little study, and it is quite impossible to tell you how happy I
am every moment in looking at it, nor how much it wins from me
of fresh affection and admiration every day. I am but just beginning
to understand it, and to see what you have put into it, and now I
am glad that you chose that look of gentleness rather than the more
frequent (not more characteristic) gloom or severity, for the portrait
is becoming more and more alive every day, and it gladdens me to
see my father smiling on me.

I am coming to see you as soon as I can. I have been committing
and causing my wife to commit all kinds of breaches of etiquette,
sending no cards to any one to begin with. I daresay I shall bring
her to see you some day soon, and Mrs. Richmond, which I suppose
will be another, but a more pardonable one. When will you come
and see me, and tell me whether it is of any use to write or think
about painting any more, now, or whether there will be no painting to
be loved but that " which more becomes a man than gilt his trophy v ? -
I feel very doubtful whether I am not wasting my life, and very sad
about all. Alas poor Milan, and my beloved spire, and now Verona
in the thick of it. And I have had the pleasure of finding that there
is verily nothing in England or Scotland which has any power upon
me (in the way of hills, I mean). I believe the Lowland pastures and
winding brooks are the only things here.

1 [The crayon drawing is nt Brantwood.]

2 [Coriolanuf, Act i. sc. 3.]



1848] ALPINE PLANTS 89

What fine things (the red and blue Christian excepted) Palmer has
in the Water Colour, 1 but the wretches the best of them all up at
the ceiling.

Kindest regards to Mrs. Richmond, and best love to Mary, Julia,
Laura, and Tom. I have not seen your brother for a melancholy time;
kindest remembrances to him. Ever affectionately yours,

J. RUSKIN.



To MAHY RUSSELL MrrroRD 2

DENMARK HILL, August 7, 1848.

DEAR Miss MITFORD, I could not answer your kind note when
I received it, being fairly laid up at the time in pillows and coverlets;
and I am now just leaving home again, and have many things to
arrange before half-past ten (it being now half-past seven), so that
I have but time to pack, I hope safely, these two flowers, the
ranunculus, the hardiest and highest (and most scornful of all common
flower comforts, such as warmth, fellowship, or good entertainment
in the way of board and lodging) of all Alpine plants; a loose stone
or two, and a drop of dirty ice-water being all it wants ; and the
soldanella, of which the enclosed little group is a fair specimen, which
is equally distinguished for its hurry to be up in the spring. I shall
be happy in thinking that my poor pets, in my exile, have at least
the consolation of some share in Miss Mitford's regards. I was
delighted to hear of your most enjoyable little trip. I have sent this,
however, for safety to Reading. I trust you will now have better
weather than hitherto.

I am going to take your advice, and try France for a week or two.
My wife desires her most sincere regards (best thanks from me for your
kind expressions towards her), and my mother and father beg to join
theirs. Ever, my dear Madam, believe me faithfully and respectfully
yours,

J. RUSKIX.

1 [Samuel Palmer's drawings in the Exhibition were : (51) Mountain Flocks ;
(122) Woodland Scenery ; (175) The Ruins of a Monastery ; (204) Christian descend-
ing into the Valley of Humiliation (Pilgrim's Progress) ; (217) Mercury driving
away the Cattle of Admetus ; and (251) Crossing the Common.]

* [The Friendships of Mary Russell Mitford, vol. ii. p. 127. Reprinted (with the
omission of the last sentence) in Igdrasi/, April 1890, vol. i. p. 124, and thence in
Ruskiniana, part i., 1880, p. 12. The date lias hitherto been wrongly given as
" 1854."]



90 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [18*8



To his FATHER

LISIEUX, 2-ith August, Thursday [1848].

As I have been more delighted than ever with this country, I have
been more disgusted than ever with its inhabitants not but that we
have met with sensible and agreeable people, and that all are so far
sensible that we have not spoken to one person who does not regret
all that has lately happened of tumult and disorder, for the substan-
tial reason that all have suffered for it. Hut the mental and moral
degradation are beyond all I conceived it is the very reign of sin,
and of idiotism.

It has made me think something more seriously than usual of all
the old difficulties which so often have arisen in men's minds respect-
ing God's government of this world, and many other difficulties which
stand in the way of one's faith. I believe that you, as well as I, are
in this same condition, are you not, father ? Neither of us can believe,
read what we may of reasoning or of proof; and I tell you also frankly
that the more I investigate and reason over the Bible as I should
over any other history or statement, the more difficulties I find, and
the less ground of belief; and this I say after six years of very patient
work of this kind, at least in those hours set apart for such study.

Now, this is very painful especially so, it seems to me, in a time
like the present, full of threatening, and in which wickedness is so often
victorious and unpunished ; nothing but sorrow can come from a doubt-
ful state of mind even in this world. I was reading, too, those opening
thoughts of Pascal x in which he assumes that there is no proof of there
being a God ; but, as he has a right also to assume, that there is no
proof of there being none (certainly the difficulties on that side are
quite as great as on the other) and there shows the utter absurdity,
in the state of equal chance, of not risking our a//, our life, conduct, etc.,
on the chance of there being a good God for if there be, the gain is
infinite ; and if not, the loss is nothing. Now, I think this is good
logic, and I began to consider what we have to risk on that side.
Pascal says the first thing we have to give up or lay in the stake,
for eternal life, is our human reason. Now, it had struck me before
reading this, after I had fully stated to myself and admitted the diffi-
culty of belief in the Bible if I treated it as another history that it
was natural and likely that this should be so. Christ's words are, "This

1 [See the opening pages of the second part of the Pens fen ; and, a little later,
where Pascal says : " Let us weigh the two cases : if you gain, you gain all ; if you
lose, you lose nothing. Wager then unhesitatingly that lie is."]



1848J FAITH AND REASON 91

is the work of God, that ye believe in Him whom He has sent. 11 1 Now,
if faith be a work, it cannot be the result of reasoning, because other-
wise we could not avoid it nor help it, and any philosopher who would
read the Bible and study it must believe as he must, unless he be a
fool as well as a philosopher, believe Euclid or Thucydides. But now
God does not choose that faith shall be obligatory or easy. He chooses
that it shall be a work and deserving of reward. He has certainly a
right to demand from us something anything in return for the great
gift of eternal life. Now, what can He ask of us ? He has no pleasure
in our pain. He cannot ask penance. He cannot ask His own gifts
back again : of what use to Him are they sacrifice offerings ? But
there is one thing which He has made it ours to give. He has put it
into our hands that we may give it or withhold as we choose that is
confidence. He asks us to trust Him to trust Him without proof.
This is certainly the highest honour we can pay Him ; but to trust
Him with proof would be no honour at all we do as much for men
every day. If there were enough proof it would be no longer ours to
refuse to trust if we choose. But we can ; God has not forced our con-
fidence. Nay, He has made it rather difficult for us to give it Him.
But He has made it possible for us to give it Him, and has made it
almost as difficult, if we think at all, to refuse it. Now, on this He
makes our life hinge. "Will you believe Me against part of your
reason ; will you take your chance, will you choose your side, and risk
all for Me before I have given you all the proof that your heart
desires that I am ? You can do no better and this is all that you
can do for Me and that I demand."

Now, is not this fair ? and can we not believe if we will ? Suppose
we give up all reasoning about the matter and resolutely determine
to believe with all our hearts, I fancy that this choice and determina-
tion once made, convincing proofs will soon be vouchsafed. But you
and I have begun at the wrong end, and have impertinently asked for
the proofs first is not this so, my dearest father and do not you
think it is high time for us both to try the other way ? If one were
to calculate averageable life at eighty years, with a doubtful evening
after that time, and suppose this represented by a day of sixteen hours
from six morning till ten night, I am now at noon, you at six in the
evening with both of us the day is far spent 2 I never think my day
worth much after twelve o'clock. And yet I fear forgive me if I am
wrong that neither of us have either chosen our master or begun
our work.

1 [John vi. 29.]

2 [See Romans xiii. 12.]



92 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [18*9

I have your letter with proofs, which I have corrected, and re-
enclose. Thank God, my mother is better. I had no idea of the
seriousness of the illness, but I trust that after it she may be better
than she has been for some years. As for the Turners, pray do not
annoy yourself; I daresay Turner will give me the sketches, but I do
not care; at any rate do not let us offend him, but get the rest of our
drawings, if possible, as we have got the two, perhaps least agreeable
for the rise in price we are indebted partly to ourselves my book must
have done it, or it must have had no effect at all; let us only think
whether the drawings still are not well worth the money. To compare
any new one with Coblent/ is vain ; I expect nothing like it, but I
would not give that drawing for ^500 unless I were starving. 1 All the
others have water in them except two, and, by your account of the
colour, I cannot help hoping much even from Brunig. All Turner's
green and blue drawings that I ever saw were magnificent. How does
it compare with our bad Altdorf, 2 with the crutches ? the dark colour
in the middle of that, the trees, I think really bad.



1849

[The Sewn Lamps of Architecture was published in the spring of this year, after
which Ruskiu and his parents went abroad, his wife going meanwhile to her parents
in Scotland. This tour is described in Preeterita, ii. ch. xi. During a portion of
it Ruskin left his parents at Vevay and went to Zermatt, etc. Letters written to
them thence are given in Vol. V. pp. xxiii.-xxxi. After a short time in London,
Ruskin started with his wife for Venice, where he spent the winter at work upon
The Stones of Venice. A letter written thence to his father in December is given
in Vol. IX. pp. xxix.-xxx.]



To his FATHER

[31 PARK STRKKT,] Wednesday [January 31, 1849].

I little thought when I saw you into your carriage at ten o'clock
yesterday morning, that at the same hour that evening I should be
performing the same agreeable duty to Madlle. Jenny Lind. But so
it was, for a note came for me as soon as I got home, from Mr.
George, 3 asking me to dine with her and his sister and him, in a quiet
way, at half-past six. I found, when I went, only Mr. George and

1 [For the drawing in question, see Vol. XIII. pp. 454, o99.]

1 i Perhaps the drawing mentioned in Vol. XIII. p. 598.]

3 [A friend of Iluskin and his father, much beloved by them both.]



1849] JENNY LIND 93

his sister, two lady friends staying in the house. Dr. Skiey, and Jenny
Lind. I was much surprised at first, the fact being that she is very
remarkably plain, and she was fatigued by the concert the night before ;
her manner most sweet and ladylike. Conversation at dinner turned
chiefly on Alps and Alpine and Swedish scenery : speaking of the French,
she said they seemed to be a nation shut out from the common portion
of God's blessing upon men, and deservedly so. I interceded for them,
and said that the peasantry were not altogether spoiled, that they
only wanted an honest government and true religion. "You have said
All in that last word," she replied.

After coffee she sat down at the piano and sang several little what
Cattermole would call "far away bits" of Swedish song. I said that I
had heard she herself chiefly liked Mendelssohn ? " If I like him," she
said, with singular intensity evidently translating the French of her
thought "Si je 1'aime ! " then pausing for an instant "Did you know
him?" "No." "Better for you you did not." "How so?" "The
loss too great," she said, her voice evidently faltering a little. I had
no idea she was personally so attached to him, or I should not have
spoken of him.

I said it was better to have known and to remember. She re-
mained quiet for half a minute, and then sang Bellini's " Qui la voce "
very gloriously, prolonging the low notes exactly like soft wind among
trees the higher ones were a little too powerful for the room, but the
lowest were heard dying away as if in extreme distance for at least
half a minute, and then melted into silence. It was in sound exactly
what the last rose of Alpine sunset is in colour.

She then rose, and soon after left us to my great disappointment,
for I was in hopes of getting a little quiet talk with her, and perhaps
of getting her to see the Turners at Denmark Hill. However, when I
began speaking to my mother about it this morning she was horrified,
so it is just as well I did not. She seems to look upon her just as
on an ordinary actress.

Mr. George has been unwell with influenza and was afraid to go
to the door with her, so I saw her shawled and took her to her
carriage. Meantime Effie had gone to Mrs. Milman's, where, after
Jenny Lind's departure, I followed her, and found Dr. and Miss Buck-
land and Frank Buckland, Mr. and Mrs. Liddell, Lady Lyell and her
sister, Lord Lansdowne, Lady Mary Wood, Professor Taylor, and a
good many more. I had a long talk with Lord Lansdowne about Nor-
mandy, and Effie about something else. I will get her to send you a
line herself, for she knows much more about the whole of it than I,
but I will try and remember something for to-morrow.



94 LETTERS OF RUSK IN VOL. I [1849

To the Rev. CANON DALE 1

DENMARK HILL, 22nd March [1849].

DEAR MR. DALE, I was much struck by your appeal and interested
by your report, respecting your enormous and oppressive charge and
burden in that unhappy parish. I will send you the other half of the
enclosed note to-morrow or perhaps, I had better wait until you favour
us with a single line saying you have this. I am afraid I may not be
able to get into town on Tuesday, or I would not give you this
trouble. I trust Mrs. Dale is better and gains strength. With sincere
regards to her and to all my friends, ever faithfully and gratefully
yours, J. RUSKIN.

I am very sorry both for the cause and the fact of your leaving
us in the city and the more so because I am vexed at the way in
which people take up the question of choice of a successor; instead of
simply considering who would be most useful, and who would leave
you least cause to regret the necessity of your own abandonment of us.
I hear everybody talking about clergymen's incomes as if the founder
of that lecture had meant it only to provide a poor clergyman with a
living. What business have they with that matter? The man that
preaches most truth and with most power is the man that should have
it if he had a million a year besides; though of two good men, one
would of course give it to the poorest ; but it is a bitter shame, in
my mind, and a foul want of charity to accuse Mr. Melvill of avarice
because he comes forward for this thing. Cannot they understand that
such a man may feel it painful to hold his tongue, and may feel that
he has no power of doing the good he was meant to do and this is
the thing he needs?

To GF.ORGK RICHMOND

PAVILION HOTKL, FOLKESTONE, }Sth April [1849].

DEAR RICHMOND, >I was not less vexed as you may well suppose
to leave home without seeing you except that only to see you
to say good-bye would have been little good ; but I am more than

[Ruskin's former tutor : see Vol. I. p. \x.\iii., and above, p. 0. From The
Life and Jitter* of Thomas f'clhain Dale, edited by his daughter, Helen Pelham
Dale, 1H04, vol. i. pp. 48-49. 'Hie letter was written after Canon Dale (father
of the llc-v. T. P. Dale) had gone from the parish of St. Bride's to that of
St. Pancrns. In consequence of his arduous parochial duties, he resigned in 184!)
the Golden Lectureship (in the gift of the Haberdashers' Company) at St. Margaret's,
Lothbury, which lie had held since 1841. Mr. Melvill (for whom, see Vol. XXXV.
p. 88(5), who was a candidate for the lectureship, was criticised as a "pluralist."
He was elected, and held the lectureship from 1850 to 1850.]



1849] INVITATION TO CHAMOUN1 95

consoled by the chance your letter holds out of our seeing you in Swit-
zerland. I hasten to tell you exactly what we propose. I have an
appointment with a friend 1 at the foot of Mont Cenis for 6th May,
D. F., with whom I hope to pass ten days. I shall then be with my
Father and Mother, for two months, at one of two places, Vevay or
Chamouni; and we sincerely hope that it may be in your power to
join us ; and if you will come to either place, I think I never promised
myself so much happiness in anything as I do in going with you into
some pet places that I know of around them. If, therefore, you can
set oft' any time this two months, you have nothing to do but to come
straight to Geneva, and ask where we are from the landlord of the
Hotel des Bergues, to whom all our letters will be addressed ; or if
you will send me a line addressed Hotel des Bergues, a week before,
I would either be there to meet you myself, or send a letter with
exact information. But indeed we can be only at one of the two
places; and although I speak only of my own pleasure, I do think
that I could make you very happy : you would come on excursions
with me all day; and in the evening, you could either be quiet in
our little room with us, if you liked, or if you wanted a little company,
there is always enough in the Chamouni and Vevay table d'hotes. If,
however, you cannot come till after the two months, you would find
me, as I propose to stay in Switzerland after my father and mother
return, in a much more savage place Zermatt, at the foot of Monte
Rosa : then you would have much less comfortable quarters, and no
company but the goats, and me scenery so sublime that my mother
thinks it would be oppressive to you, and make you melancholy ;
she, however, is personally interested in getting you to Chamouni. But
pray try and come to one place or the other I shall be so bitterly
disappointed now if you do not. I am thankful that at any rate you
purpose resting. Pray take strong measures at once ; there is nothing
like thorough dealing with illness in good time. Do not tamper nor
procrastinate. I have heard much that has made me anxious about
you pray get a positive opinion from a good physician, and act upon
it sternly. I am to be here still revising proofs until Monday; and
should be very grateful for another line, confirming the hope of seeing
you among the Alps.

Love to Tom poor fellow and Mary and Julia and Laura and
Willy ; all our kindest regards to Mrs. Richmond. Ever most affec-
tionately yours, J. RUSKIN.

A letter would reach me here sent on Saturday.

1 [Richard Fall : see Prceterita, Vol. XXXV. p. 440.]



96 LETTERS OF RUSKIX VOL. I [18*9



To Miss J. WEDDBRBURN 1

PRINCE or PRINCESS something or other near BOULOGNE,
Monday, 2Uh April [1849].

MY DEAR Miss WEDDERBURN, I was released from printers 1 demons
on Saturday afternoon, and I write to you as soon as I can.

It often happens to me to be asked by painters to look at their
pictures. I never go, if I can help it ; when I do, I say as many
civil things as I can, quickly, and bow myself out. If I thought you
like people in general, I should do the same to you, now especially,
for my hand is tired with writing and my eyes with touching etchings
that have failed me : but you are a very extraordinary person, and I
believe you will not quarrel with me for treating you as if you had
more sense than most. I hare heard that you don't like blame ; but
I don't care. Nobody does, for that matter; but I don't believe that
you cannot take it as well as any one else, and I should think you
had so little of it that it would be an agreeable change, so I shall
write exactly what I felt about your picture.

In the first place, I don't like an ehilmrate jest. No jest will bear
the time necessary to paint it, unless it involves the portraiture of
human character also, as with Wilkie, Hogarth, and Teniers. But
there is not much jest in a pair of horses frightened by a steam
whistle and the little that there is evaporates long before you have
laid your first coat of colour. Your subject would have made a
vignette for Punch, but is not fit for canvas, and even in Punch
would have needed some word fun to carry it off'. Moreover, the jest
is not even one which exhibits your animals : neither horses nor men
are seen to advantage kicking. It is a menu expression of resistance.

In the second place, do not suppose that you can dispense with
those ordinary occurrences of sublimity and beauty which have been
the subject and food of painting from the earliest ages : there has
been machinery in the world since the clays of Cheops, if not of
Asshur; and that machinery has been historically represented on works
of art as our railroads ought to be, if we built pyramids; but
machinery never has been chosen as a subject, nor can ever become
an agreeable one. You may say you like it; I say your taste is
morbid and must be changed. There are certain licences of taste,

1 [Afterwards Mrs. Hugh HIackburn : see Vol. XXXIV. p. 4152. Ruskin refers to
this letter, written in his carriage on board the steamer, in Prttteritu, Vol. XXXV.
p. 4'37. At the head of the sheet Ruskin wrote: "Shaky steamer made my hand
worse even than usual." His "release" refers to .Srri'/i Lamps of Architecture,
which had been passed for the press.]



1849] THE CHOICE OF A SUBJECT 97

beyond which no one may safely go. One person may legitimately
like beef, and another mutton ; but when my wife was a little girl
and took to eating slate-pencil, her governess whipped her until she
left off; and you ought to be whipped till you give up painting
railroads. There is no nourishment in them.

But the strange thing is that you have not only chosen the ugliest
subject you could get, but the ugliest possible conditions of it ! There
are sublimities about certain railroad phenomena one in the bulk and
length and weight of the carriages drawn which you have lost by
drawing only the engine. Another in the blackness, fire, and fury of
the engine itself, 1 which you have lost by painting it in broad daylight,
and of the pastoral colour of bright green. Another in the length of
the line which you have lost by putting a bit of it only, straight
across your picture ; and another in the height of the embankments,
which you have lost by putting them below you. Don't tell me you
drew it as it was. A change of ten feet in your position might have
given you a sublime subject. I don't know how without extreme
ingenuity you could get into a position so universally bad ; and as
if not content with that, you must needs pull the rein of your horse
exactly parallel with your rail, as if you were a bricklayer and were
going to build over your picture I am losing my temper and must
put up my things besides; for the coast of France enlarges. I have
a great deal more to say yet.

(CHAMPAGXOLE, JURA, Saturday evening.} You will say I have
taken my time to recover my temper, but I have been on French
roads ever since, and they are not calculated to calm one, any more
than your grasshopper railroad. Where was I ? On the tight-rope, I
see and I have not done with the rail, neither : but what I have to
say next is apropos of general colour.



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