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does walk he walks thoroughly well, most coolly and dextrously. We
have been to-day to the Glacier des Bossons and Cascade des Pelerins.
I am enjoying everything and doing nothing, and expect to get to
my Venetian work much refreshed. I love the place better than ever,
and think it lovelier, and I don't know that I was ever sorrier to
leave it than I shall be on Monday. I hope you will be able com-
fortably to spend some time there in the spring.

It is so strange to return here again and again, and see the same
wreaths of snow hanging on the crests of the Aiguilles. One does
not wonder at the rocks being unchanged. But the same snow
wreaths ! and all else changing, in us. Joseph Couttet looks older. I
saw his nieces at the Cascade des Pelerins, and as I walked up the
Montanvert on Thursday night a woman met me, who bade me good
evening, and said, " Vous montez le Montanvert sans guide Joseph
Couttet n'y est plus." I laughed and said I hoped to have him back
again in the spring. There are an immense number of people here,
of course. Effie counted forty mules at one time on the Montanvert,
and there has been a cockney ascent of Mont Blanc, of which I believe
you are soon to hear in London. 2

1 rThe Rev. Daniel Moore : see Vol. X. p. xxiii. n., and below, p. 141.]

2 [An account of Albert Smith's ascent, and of the illustrated entertainment
describing' it, which he gave in the Egyptian Hall, may be read in ch. ix. of C. E.
Mathews' Annals of Mont B!anc,]


Mr. and Mrs. Eisenkriimer 1 are well, but Mr. Rufenacht has been
attacked by a rush of blood to the head and goes about languidly,
looking much depressed. Effie is much better than when last at
Chamouni, but does not bear the mule jolting well.

I have always forgotten to thank my mother for the magnificent
basket of provisions which we found in the railroad carriage it lasted
us to the Jura with hardly any perceptible diminution, and is laid up
there, I believe, till our return. We had a picnic to-day in the wood
of the Pelerins, having some difficulty in choosing a site. Newton
declared that we were not in search of the picturesque, but of the

There is nothing else to tell you of, except that the Aiguilles are
rather in bad humour, and so I do not know whether I may send
you their compliments.


[VENICK] Sunday, 1th September, 1851.

. . . Next 2 I must tell you what we are about here. I was too much
hurried and plagued at Verona to write you anything like a proper
account of the glorious evening we had there. I told you the Empress
was staying at the Due Torre; and that the Austrian governor had
ordered her some music. Now you recollect that in front of the Due
Torre, on the other side of the little square of St. Anastasia, there is a
straight narrow street going down to the cathedral. Fortunately the
soldiers had been lodged somewhere (perhaps in the Cathedral cloisters)
whence they were obliged to come up this street to the piazza and
just as twilight was passing into night, they came in three divisions,
composed of the three best bands in the place, with as many soldiers
from each of their regiments as could form a circle outside of them,
bearing torches. The bright cluster of lights appeared at the end of
the street so far away that the trumpets could hardly be heard the
soldiers with their torches marching first and the music following
clanging louder and louder until the troop of torch-bearers spread
themselves out into one burning line across the square, and behind

[Who kept the old "Union" inn at Chamouni: see Vol. XXVIII. p. 131.]
1 [The first paragraph of this letter, describing Ruskin's apartments, has already
been given, Vol. X. p. xxviii. The Emperor is his present Majesty Francis
Joseph I. (born 1030), who had succeeded to the throne on the abdication of
his uncle, Frederick I., in December 18-18. He did not marry the late Empress
Elizabeth till 1854. The "Empress" here spoken of was the wife of Ferdinand I.
"a lady-like, melancholy-looking person, very plainly dressed" was Huskin's
description in a letter from Verona of September ].]








the whole three bands at once burst from their march into the
Emperor's Hymn. You know what lovely and solemn lines are formed
by the porch of St. Anastasia and the canopy of the marble tomb
above its cemetery gate all these glorious buildings, with the last
streaks of twilight behind them, suddenly lighted by the torches into
a gloomy crimson, their own red marble flushed by the firelight, and
the burst of solemn and simple music from so many instruments, com-
posed together the finest piece of mere effect I have ever seen in my
life. For there was no pretence, no getting up about it ; the buildings
were there in a natural way and as a matter of course not dressed up
with rags and tinsel and yet such buildings ; for you know that tomb
of St. Anastasia is the one I have asserted to be the loveliest (to my
knowledge) in the world. 1 Of course there was not much sentiment in
the idea of the thing ; it was but a parcel of Croats playing a tune to
a middle-aged lady, and so it fell far short in feeling of the religious
ceremonies I have seen sometimes ; but for intensity and completeness
of stage effect, I never saw anything to beat it or equal it.


VENICE, 3rd October, 1851.

I never have had time to tell you anything about the Emperor's
visit to us ; in fact, I was rather upset by it ; for I am getting into
such quiet ways that sitting up till two that night made me feel very
sleepy the next day, and then we had Roberts to dinner, 2 which tired
me the evening after, so that I did not get quite right again till
yesterday. For the Emperor announced himself for ten o'clock at
night, only about ten o'clock on the previous morning, and there was
little enough time to get ready for him. Everybody on the Grand
Canal was requested by the municipality to illuminate their houses
inside: and the Rialto was done at the public expense. They spent
altogether in Bengal lights and other lamps about three hundred
pounds a large sum for Venice in these days but I never saw the
Rialto look so lovely. There were no devices or letters or nonsense
on it only the lines of its architecture traced in chains of fire, and
two lines of bright ruby lamps set along its arch underneath, so as
to light the vault of it; all streaming down in bright reflection on
the Canal. We went out a little before ten, and rowed down under
it to the part of the Grand Canal nearest the railroad station ; there

1 [See Stones of Venice, vol. i. (Vol. IX. p. 175).]

J [As mentioned in an earlier letter : see Vol. X. p. xxxiii.]


are two churches there, one the Scalzi, the other a small Palladian
one I forget its name opposite each other, and a great breadth of
canal between them, which was literally as full of boats as it could
hold. They were jammed against each other as tight as they could
be leaving just room for each boatman to get his oar down into the
water at the side and so we waited for some half-hour.

It was a strange sight in the darkness: the crowd fixed, yet with
a kind of undulation in it which it could not have had upon land
every gondolier at his stern, balanced, ready for the slightest move-
ment of the boats at his side lest they should oust him out of his
place, and the figures standing up on the lower level, in the open
part of the boats, from one side of the Canal to the other one could
not see on what they stood only here and there the flashing of the
tide beneath, as it flowed fiercely in the torch-light, and beside and
among the figures the innumerable beaks of the gondolas, reared up
with their strange curving crests like a whole field full of dragons,
the black glittering bodies just traceable close beside one one would
have thought Cadmus had been sowing the wrong teeth, and grown
dragons instead of men. There was a boat close beside us with some
singers, beggarly fellows enough, but with brown faces and good voices,
and another with a band in it farther on ; and presently after there
was some report of the Emperor's coining, and they began burning
Bengal lights among the boats, which showed all the fronts of the
palaces far down the canal against the night. And presently the
Emperor did come, in his grey coat and travelling cap; and they
pushed him down the steps into his boat, and then the whole mass
of floating figures and dragons 1 heads began to glide after him. He
had expressly invited everybody who had a gondola to come and meet
him, and there were no measures taken to keep them off', so it was
who should get the closest to him. And one could not see the water,
but the dashing of the oars was like the rushing of a great waterfall ;
and there, standing on the black gliding field, were all the gondoliers
writhing and struggling one could not see what for, but all in violent
and various effort pushing their utmost to keep their boats in their
places and hold others back, and a great roar of angry voices besides.
We had held on for ten minutes or so to the singers who had been
ordered to precede the Emperor up the canal, but we got pushed
away from them, and fell back a few yards into the thick of the
press, and presently came crash up against the bow of the Emperor's
own boat, and so stuck fast. There was no moving for a minute or
two. Effie and I were standing I of course with my hat off and I
made signs to my boatman to keep off the Emperor if he could.


There was no stirring, however, for half a minute, when we managed
to push back the gondola on the other side of us, and slip clear of
the Emperor, who passed ahead, giving us a touch of his cap. We
fell astern of him, but the next moment were pushed forward on the
other side, until our first boatman was exactly abreast of him. This
time it was not a gondola on our other side, but a barge full of very
ill-looking fellows, who I thought might just as well have me between
them and the Emperor as not, so I let Beppo keep his place, which
for the rest he was anxious enough to do, and so rowing and fight-
ing with all his might, and ably seconded by the stern boatman, he
kept guard on the Emperor's flank for a quarter of an hour; the
worst of it was that we were continually forced up against his boat,
and so shook him and splashed him not a little, until at last another
gondola forced its beak in between us and I was glad enough to give
way. It took us something like an hour to get along the whole
course of the canal so impossible was it for the gondolas to move
in the choked breadth of it, and as the Emperor did not arrive till
eleven, and after we got to St. Mark's Place there was music and
showing himself at windows, etc., it was near one before we could get
away towards home, and we left him still at his window. I lay in
bed till eight, but the Emperor reviewed the troops at seven in the
morning. He went away for Trieste at four afternoon.

I hope you will be able to make out this very ill-written letter,
but I am getting sleepy and my hand is cramped with rowing.


VENICE, 20th November, 1851.

I have not much of interest to communicate to you of my own
adventures, but Effie sometimes sees a little of what is going on in
the world. She was out last night at one of her best friends', a young
Italian Countess, or rather German married to an Italian Countess
Palavicini a very amiable creature, only strong Austrian, which, as her
husband is Italian, is unfortunate ; but he is very fond of her and
lives here, instead of at Bologna, where his palace is, that she may see
more of the Austrians. She asked Effie last night to come and meet
the Archduke Albert, the son of the great Archduke Charles. 1 He
came to tea in the quietest English domestic way, or rather in the

1 [The Archduke Albrecht (1817-1895), the eldest son of the Archduke Charles
(who had defeated Napoleon at Aspern). lie was with Radetsky in the Italian
compaigns of 1848-1849 ; and from 1851 to 1860 commanded the forces in Hungary.
In 18G6 he was in command of the Austrian army in Italy.]


German way, which is still quieter than the English. Madame Palavi-
cini remembers playing at battledore and shuttlecock with him eighteen
years ago, when she was a little girl and he a little boy at Vienna
now he is Governor of Hungary, and came to see her, just before
going away in the steamer to Trieste, on his way to his place of duty.
Every one rose when he entered, the officers saluting, or, as Effie says
somewhat vaguely, " doing something " with their swords : * but after
that all was as easy as at any family fireside.

He attacked Effie playfully about the Kossuth doings ; a she pleaded
that she was not to answer for them, being Scotch. " Nay," he said,
" if Kossuth goes to Glasgow, you will see he will be received quite as
well as he is at Birmingham. 11 He was speaking of the reception which,
on the other hand, the Emperor had received in parts of his late
journeys in Gallicia more especially at Czernowitz, where the people
came out of the town and put a man with a torch on each side of the
road at every ten paces for twenty miles (Italian about the same as
one English), and illuminated the town besides. There is something
very grand and wild in this idea of an avenue of Torchmen, 2 twenty
miles long very Highland, only on a grander scale even than the
Highlands. It was the peasants who had done it of themselves, with-
out any preparation.

He is a greater admirer of Palladio at Vicenza, so it was just as
well it was Effie there and not me. She gets on very nicely, Lady Sorel
says, with the foreigners, not being stiff' or shy like most English.

To his FATHER 3

VENICE, December 7, 1851.

The poetry which you quote from Camming is Longfellow's " Psalm
of Life," which of all modern poetry has had most practical in-
fluence on men's minds, since it was written. 4 It is now known by

* Being asked for further information, Effie avers, " It was a very
phabby thing, whatever it was, a sort of back-handed scrape."

1 [The Hungarian patriot had landed at Southampton on October 23, and was
the object of great popular enthusiasm in this country ; addresses were presented
to him at Southampton, Birmingham, and other towns, and he was officially enter-
tained by the Lord Mayor of London. Raskin reflects the opinions of the Austrian
society in which he moved at this time in Venice. Compare the letter to his father
of November 10, printed in Vol. XII. pp. Ixxviii.-lxxix.]

2 [Compare chap. iv. of Scott's Legend of Montrosc.~\

3 [A passage from the beginning of this letter, referring to the death of Raskin's
friend Air. George, is printed in Vol. XI. p. xxvi. n. ; and another line or two,
ibid., p. 340 n.]

4 [For another reference to the " Psalm of Life," see Vol. XXIV. p. xxv. ; and
on Longfellow generally, Vol. IV. p. 355, and Vol. XV. p. 227. For Dr. Cumming,
see below, p. 128.]

1851] THE "PSALM OF LIFE" 123

heart by nearly all the modern reformers and agitators, good and bad,
but does good to all of them. I question whether all Byron's works
put together have had so much real influence, with all their popu-
larity, as this single poem, because Byron's influence is for the most
part on young and comparatively unformed minds Longfellow's of a
reversed kind and on the strongest minds of the day. It has been
a kind of trumpet note to the present generation. You may perhaps
recollect that on the strength of it I bought a small volume of Long-
fellow's earlier poems on our Malvern trip, in which there was a good
deal of stuff; but I read the first stanzas to yon, and you at once
pronounced the man a poet on the strength of them. The character
of Longfellow's poems in general is peculiarly Motive to action ; other
poetry soothes or comforts Longfellow's strengthens, knits up, and
makes resolute : there is no Marseillaise stuff in it, neither ; it is all
good and true, though a great many men who are moving too fast like
it. For my own part, I had rather have written that single stanza,
" Art is long," etc., than all that I ever did in verse put together ;
though, by-the-bye, I do not deny the Scythian pieces to be spirited.


[About 1851.]

I did not, indeed, understand the length to which your views
were carried when I saw you here, or I should have asked you much
more about them than I did, and your present letter leaves me still
thus far in the dark that I do not know whether you only have a
strong conviction that there is such a message to be received from
all things, or whether in any sort you think you have understood and
can interpret it, for how otherwise should your persuasion of the fact
be so strong ? I never thought of such a thing being possible before ;
and now that you have suggested it to me, I can only imagine that
by rightly understanding as much of the nature of everything as
ordinary watchfulness will enable any man to perceive, we might, if we
looked for it, find in everything some special moral lesson or type of
particular truth, and that then one might find a language in the
whole world before unfelt like that which is forever given to the
Ravens or to the lilies of the field by Christ's speaking of them. 2

1 [From " John Ruskin," by W. J. Stillman, in the Century Magazine, January
1888, p. 305 ; reprinted in The Old Rome and the Xew, and other Studies, 1897,
pp. 122-124: "\ had been involved," says Mr. Stillman, "in mystical speculation,
partly growing out of the second volume of Modern Painters, and had written to
him for counsel." For Ruskin's subsequent relations with Stillman, see Vol. XV]].
p. xxi.]

" [Luke xii. 24, 27.]


This I think you might very easily accomplish so far as to give the
first idea and example; then it seems to me that every thoughtful
man who succeeded you would be able to add some types or words
to the new language, but all this quite independently of any Mystery
in the Thing or Inspiration in the Person, any more than there is
Mystery in the cleaning of a Room covered with dust of which you
remember Bunyan makes so beautiful a spiritual application, 1 so that
one can never more see the thing done without being interested. If
there be mystery in things requiring Revelation, I cannot tell on what
terms it might be vouchsafed us, nor in any way help you to greater
certainty of conviction ; but my advice to you would be on no
account to agitate nor grieve yourself nor look for inspiration, for
assuredly many of our noblest English minds have been entirely over-
thrown by doing so but to go on doing what you are quite sure is
right that is, striving for constant purity of thought, purpose, and
word ; not on any account overworking yourself especially in head-
work ; but accustoming yourself to look for the spiritual meaning of
things just as easily to be seen as their natural meaning; and forti-
fying yourself against the hardening effect of your society, by good
literature. You should read much, and generally old books ; but above
all avoid German Books, and all Germanists except Carlyle, whom
read as much as you can or like. Read George Herbert and Spenser
and Wordsworth and Homer, all constantly; Young's Night Thought*,
Crabbe and of course Shakespeare, Bacon and Jeremy Taylor and
Bunyan : do not smile if I mention also Robinson Crusoe and the
Arabian Nights, for standard places on your shelves. I say read
Homer; I do not know if you can read Greek, but I think it would
be healthy work for you to teach it to yourself if you cannot, and
then I would add to my list Plato but I cannot conceive a good
translation of Plato.- I had nearly forgotten one of the chief of
all Dante. But in doing this, do not strive to keep yourself in
an elevated state of spirituality. No man who earnestly believed in
God and the next world was ever petrified or materialized in heart,
whatever society he kept. Do whatever you can, however simple or
commonplace, in your art ; do not force your spirituality on your
American friends. Trv to do what they admire as well as they would
have it, unless it costs you too much but do not despise it because
commonplace. Do not strive to do what you feel to be above your

1 [In the House of the Interpreter in the First Part of The Pilgrim's Prof/rcxs :
"Tliis parlour is the heart of a man that was never sanctified by the sweet Grace
of the Gospel : the fhtxt is his Original Sin," etc.]

2 [Later on lluskin himself tried his hand at translating the first two hooks of
the Laws: see Vol. XXXI. p. xv.

1852] AMERICAN ART 125

strength. God requires that of no man. Do what you feel happy in
doing : mingle some physical science with your imaginative studies ; and
be sure that God will take care to lead you into fulfilment of what-
ever Tasks He has ready for you, and will show you what they are in
His own time.

Thank you for your sketch on American art. I do hope that
your countrymen will look upon it, in time, as all other great nations
have looked upon it at their greatest times, as an object for their
united aim and strongest efforts. I apprehend that their deficiency in
landscape has a deep root the want of historical associations. Every
year of your national existence will give more power to your landscape
painting ; then do you not want architecture ? Our children's taste is
fed with ruins of Abbeys. I believe the first thing you have to do is
to build a few Arabic palaces by way of novelty one brick of jacinth
and one of jasper. . .

Write to me whenever you are at leisure and think I can be of use
to you with sympathy or in any way, and believe me always interested
in your welfare and very faithfully yours, J. RUSKIN.


[Raskin remained on the Continent till July of this year. Besides the letters
here given to his father, others have been printed in Vol. X. pp. xxx.-xlii. On
his return, he settled with his wife in a house on Herne Hill (Vol. X. p. xlii.), and
was absorbed in writing- the second and third volumes of Stones of Venice.]


VENICE, Qth January, 1852.

You say you are sick of the folly of mankind. I have been so a
long time but the great mystery to me is that so much misery is
mere folly ; that so much grievous harm is done in mere ignorance and
stupidity, evermore to be regretted as much as the consequence of
actual crime. You say Turner kept his treasures to rot, 1 not knowing
or understanding the good it would be to give me some. Yes, but in
the same way, I myself, through sheer ignorance of the mighty power
of those Swiss drawings, suffered the opportunity of his chief energy
to pass by, and only got the two St. Gothard and Goldau. Had I

1 [For Ru skin's letter to his father on the death of Turner (19th December 1851),
see Vol. XIII. p. xxii.]


had the least idea at the time of the real power of those sketches,
I should have gone down on my knees to you night after night, till I
had prevailed on you to let me have all that Turner would do. But
I knew it not ; I thought them beautiful, but sketchy and imperfect
compared with his former works. This was not my fault. It was the
necessary condition of my mind in its progress to perfect judgment,
yet it had this irrevocably fatal effect leaving in my heart through my
whole life the feeling of irremediable loss, such as would, if I were not
to turn my thoughts away from it, become in my "memory a rooted
sorrow." 1 I am thankful, indeed, for what I have got, but it is the
kind of thankfulness of a man who has saved the fourth or fifth of
his dearest treasures from a great shipwreck it needs some philosophy
not to think of what he has lost. And this, you see, is a consequence
of innocent ignorance ; one does not see the use of it ; one does not
see what good this gnawing feeling of regret is intended to do, or why
one was not allowed to see what was right in time. The more I
watch the world, the more I feel that all men are blind and wander-
ing. I am more indulgent to their sins, but more hopeless. I feel
that braying in a mortar with a pestle 2 will not make the foolishness
depart out of the world. 3 . . .


VENICE, Sunday, 21th [?25th] January, 1852.

When I said that I could not answer hurriedly to your letter re-
specting religious despondency, I was almost doubtful if I ought, in
my own state of mind, to speak farther on the subject at all. But

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