dated conjecturally " 1855," but the formality of its address implies that it is the
first of the series. For an account of J. J. Laing, see the Introduction (above).]
146 LETTERS OF 11USK1N VOL. I [isss
If you think that a Romanist Church is a temple of Baal if you
think it an idolatrous temple in the same sense that a temple of
Jupiter or Diana was I should say, Give no help to such work. If, on
the contrary, you think it a Christian Church in which, though certain
erroneous and some blasphemous rites are occasionally performed, yet
God and Christ are in the main worshipped I would make no objec-
tion to work at it, being paid for my work.
I can only tell you, therefore, what I should do myself in your
case. I would rather, if it might be, choose a Protestant service : but,
if the opportunity seemed in any wise specially opened to me, I would
take the place, trusting both that I might learn what would be very
useful to me respecting ancient art, and Romanist traditions of art;
and that also I might be of use among Roman Catholic workmen
or other persons with whom, in my labour, I might happen to be
elseif (getClientWidth() > 430)
Your other question I can answer more easily. If you are out of
employment in wood drawing, it would be immeasurably more advan-
tageous to you to maintain yourself by that work and obtain hours
for exercise and study, than to go into an Architect's office provided
that you know at present enough to enable you to undertake practical
work otherwise I suppose technical matters are not easilv learned after
a certain age : one does not like going back to the alphabet.
I don't want to delay this line any longer. Will you tell me, when
you have determined what kind of life you are going to lead, and
then I shall be able to suggest method and subject of reading, as you
wish me to do so? You speak also of temptations to excitement, to
idleness, and sin. Would you mind being a little more explicit, and
telling me what temptations try you most? I may perhaps be able
to help you a little. Yours most truly, J. RUSK IN.
To F. J. FlTRNIVALL 1
CHARLKS STRKKT, (ROSVKNOR SgrARE
May \2th .
DEAR FHKXIVALL, You are very good not to be offended with me
never thanking you for your most interesting book on Words. 2 But
I am afraid it will not convert me, for this single reason that a clever
man will bring good out of whatever he examines, and might, for
1 [No. 4 in /''urnivaU, pp. 14-15.]
2 [Dr. Furnivall, who was in the hahit of lending various books to Kuskin. hail
perhaps sent him Trench's OH the Study of Word* (1851).]
1853] PATMOBJE'S POEMS v 147
instance, deduce quite as many, quite as interesting and more accu-
rate conclusions from the study of Dress than this little volume does
from that of Words, without making Costume, for that reason, one of
the noble sciences.
I shall be delighted to see you and your lady friends, and their
impedimenta in the shape of husbands, either on Wednesday, Friday,
or Saturday, between two and five o'clock. I am obliged to limit the
hour, for I am busy till two, and we dine at five. But please let me
know as soon as you can what day you fix.
Write to, or come to tea at, above address for a month to come.
I am at Denmark Hill in day time, generally, but my letters come
better here. Yours affectionately, J. RUSKIN.
6 CHARLES STREET, GROS. SQ., 2nd June ,
DEAR PATMORE, I received the volume of poems, with the letter,
and am very much interested in them ; their versification is quite
beautiful, and much of their thought. If they were Tennyson's, every-
body would be talking of them, but they are a little too like Tennyson
to attract attention as they should.
I am horribly busy at present, but I really shall be done with
such work this spring, D.V., and hope hereafter to see more of you
and Mrs. Patmore, who I hope is well. With sincere regards to her,
believe me faithfully yours, J. RUSKIN.
To HEXRY ACLAND, M.I).
^V"ALLI^ T GTON, 2 Saturday, '26th June ,
DEAR ACLAND, I have not answered either your letter or Mrs.
Acland's, because there has been some uncertainty as to our nest in the
Highlands, which indeed is not yet quite done away with, but I think
there can be little doubt that we shall be nearer you at Edinburgh
than we at first intended ; and, most certainly, not farther away. I
1 [Memoirs and Correspondence of Coventry Patmore, by Basil Champueys, 1900,
vol. ii. pp. 277-278, where the letter is conjecturally dated " 1850," but the address
fixes the year as 1853. The letter seems to refer to a copy of Patmore's early Poems
(1844), which the poet may have sent to Ruskin.]
2 [Where Ruskin was staying with Sir Walter and Lady Trevelyan : see Vol. XII.
148 LETTERS OF RUSKIN Voi, I [1853
hope to get somewhere about Callander or Killin within about four
hours of Edinburgh in the first rase, and I suppose six or seven in the
second ; in fact, I mean to stop wherever Millais likes, so that we can
find a place to put our heads into, and certainly he will want to stop
at the first Highland place we reach. So I do hope you will be able
to get a few days more leave, and to come and join us: I will write to
you (as soon as we are settled) both at Oxford and to Dr. Alison's 1 to
make .sure. Millais is in such a state of excitement at some bits of
streams with a few pebbles and some trout in them which run over the
Northumberland moors here, that I don't know what will become of him
in the Highlands. We are going to post over Carter Fell and down
to Jedburgh and Melrose so to Edinburgh. What dear people there
are here at Wellington ! I called on Richmond after I saw you, and
frightened him a little, I hope, for he was talking of musts and other
such ridiculous words, and yet lay down on the floor while talking to me.
Our best love to Mrs. Acland. There was no mistake as far as I
could make out, about anything. You said you were coming about
the 20th of July, did you not? We shall be in the Highlands from
1st July to the middle of August, if not longer. Ever affectionately
yours, J. RUSKIN.
To RAWDON BROWN
GLKXFINLAS, '2(}th July.
DEAR MR. BROWN, I did not much wonder that the abominable
delay and vacillation of the bookseller's and editor's proceedings had
reduced you to the state of despair expressed in your last letter, in
which you had reported to the shade of Giustiniani that he was likely
to have to wait till 1856 before his second appearance at the court of
London.- But I hope, nevertheless, we shall manage to raise the gliost
sooner than that, though I am a good deal provoked at not having
yet received any of Mr. Rich's MSS. to look over. I am expecting
them daily, however, now ; and as before he began making his selections
he intended to acquaint himself thoroughly with the various topics
chiefly touched upon in the letters, I imagine the main part of the
work is already done, and that there will be no difficulty whatever in
1 [W. I'. Alison, Professor of Medicine at Edinburgh, with whom Acland was
2 [The letter refers to the following work, for the puhlication of which Kuskin
was making arrangements, on Brown's behalf, with Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co.:
J''mtr Years at the Court of Henri/ VIII. Selection of Despatches written by the
Venetian Amhuxmidor, Sebastian (ttnxtiitian, and addrcwd to the Signury of Venice,
January L.'th, /."</,T, to July JHth, 151!). Translated by Kawdon lirown : Smiili,
Elder & Co., 18.54, 2 vols. For another reference to the book, see the letter of
April -2, 154 (Mow, p. 1(52); and compare Vol. X. p. 3~>.'? n., Vol. XI. p. 1'Mo.j
1853] "THE STONES OF VENICE" 149
bringing the book out next season. They already wish to advertise it,
and I don't think they would venture to do this more than four or five
months before publication : it is therefore time to determine the title,
and as I do not quite recollect whether you authorized us to make this
important selection, / stop the advertisement until you are consulted.
The publishers especially wish that the first part of the title should
be " Leaves from the Golden Book of Venice " ; which, considering the
whole correspondence as peculiarly illustrative of the character of the
Noblesse of Venice, might perhaps be allowable, though rather a bold
metaphor: it would catch the public eye and attention, and as some
allusion might be made in the preface to probable subsequent publica-
tions of other writings of the Venetian ambassadors, might be sufficiently
explained. But I have written to the publisher to furnish you with
some selections of other titles, which will be forwarded to you together
with this letter.
I shall now be able to attend to this business, and as far as I can
be of any use, you may thoroughly depend upon me. I was much
thrown off my work when I first got back to London by business con-
nected with Turner's will, his house being in great disorder and his
loose drawings left by hundreds crumpled up in bundles, which I had
to unfold, name, number, and secure; and when I had got through
this, with the help of another executor, and then got quit of the
whole business which will be, I suppose, a succession of Chancery suits
for the next hundred years I found that my own memoranda 1 would
take up two volumes instead of one, and not being very well in the
winter, and able only to work for a few hours each day, the thing
occupied me twice as long as I expected. But I find the book pleases
people, and I believe it will be worth the trouble, eventually. You will
receive the second volume in the first box which we have to send to
Venice, together with one for Lorenzi and one for St. Mark's Library,
and I shall burden you also with one for the Count Morosini ; ' 2 the
indexes have detained the third volume, as I could not finish them till
all the sheets were thrown off, but it will soon be out now.
Effie sent you yesterday the publisher's letter about the Giustiniani
binding ; I would not recommend you to allow them to go to much
expense in this matter, as the increase of price involved by a hand-
some binding often checks the sale of a book more than the effect of
the binding forwards it. Few people care much in reality about
bindings of books, unless it be of their own favourite volumes, or of
1 [That is, on Venice.]
2 [For Lorenzi, see below, pp. 439, 480. The Count Carlo Morosini is mentioned,
and a letter from him to the author is printed, in Stones of Venice, vol. iii.
(Vol. XI. pp. 100, 257).]
150 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I
important series in the general effect of their bookcases: in the case of
a single volume, unknown by its contents, I believe the outside has
much less influence with the purchaser than is commonly supposed. But
I am always giving people credit for more sense than they possess, and
may be quite wrong in this, only it was altogether against my will
that my own books were so showily bound, 1 and I think their sale has
been hurt by it.
I suppose Effie has told you all about our present abode, and com-
panions ; 2 as these will be in a minute or two more riotous for their
breakfast, I must say good-bye, hoping to have more interesting in-
formation for you in a few days. Ever affectionately yours,
To J. J. LAIXG s
GLKNFINLAS, September 2, 1853.
I should have written to you before now, if I had not felt ex-
treme difficulty, as I more and more considered your particular case in
saying anything that might not involve some risk of discouraging you
unnecessarily. When a young man has not made any serious effort to
check a sinful feeling, it is often possible to assist him to do so but
when, as in your case, it has come to very solemn and prayerful re-
sistance there can be but little said by a stranger. On the one hand,
however, it may perhaps check an unjustifiable despondency in you if
I put you in mind that the greatest and most holy men have suffered
grievously from this temptation, and that the annals of all ascetics are
filled with records of perpetual struggle against it never of final
victory on the other hand, you know that with every temptation there
is a " way to escape," 4 but it cannot be, when the passions are strong,
without much suffering ; and the only way to meet the trial is, I
affirm boldly, to front it ax a suffering, and bear it like burning or
the rack ; endeavouring to look upon it as much as possible as a
species of torment which you are called upon to endure now, instead
of the physical torments and persecutions of other days. . . .
To pass to architecture. I must tell you that Mel rose is not a
very good study for you, with the exception of the cloister arches,
which are wonderfully fine in leaf ornament, and the little dog-toothed
1 [See the facsimiles of bindings in Vol. III. p. Ivii., Vol. VIII. p. 185, Vol. IX.
[See above, p. 144 . '-]
3 [From "Some Ruskin Letters" in the \\'a<t minster Gazette, August 27, 1804,
where the date was wrongly given as " 1857."]
* [1 Corinthians x. 13.]
1853] EDINBURGH AND OXFORD 151
arches opposite them are very beautiful, and the only old part of the
building. All the rest of it is evidently much antedated l in the guide-
books it must be much earlier than 1400-1450.
I have ordered a second volume 2 to come to you, and remain very
truly yours, J. RUSKIN.
To HENRY ACLAND, M.D.
[GLENFINLAS] 6th September .
DEAR ACLAND, I not only meant to write to you long ago, but
actually began a letter and left the first page of it in my desk, till the
lapse of time left it high and dry on the sands of bygone hour-glasses,
utterly inapplicable to things as they were.
I was so delighted to hear you had been drawing a bluebell at
Dunblane, for I was quite sure you would get a new pleasure in art,
only tell Mrs. Acland that I was just as frightened as she says she
is of me, lest she should be very angry at you being led away from
symbolical art, and very sorry at the loss of all the sketches she had
hoped for; but I am partly put at my ease by the account of your
first Pre-Raphaelite experiment, which, though it could in the nature of
things only terminate as it did, considering the ambition of it, must
have a great deal in it still that Mrs. Acland may be very proud of.
I am truly thankful that you and she are pleased with my book,
for I should be grieved to feel that I had wasted so much of the best
part of my life as I have given to working it out, and sometimes, as
I got wearied of it, I began to suspect so. And I am very glad also
to know that the Oxford people would like or suppose they would
like to have me lecture to them, but I must try my hand first at
Edinburgh ; perhaps I shall find I have not voice or manner to make
any impression, and besides, the lectures I prepare for Edinburgh would
not do for Oxford not that I think you Oxford people such great
folks in comparison, but only I have illustrated my Edinburgh lectures
from Scotch scenery and architecture, chiefly Dunblane, Crichtoun,
Holyrood, Melrose, etc., 3 and have enlarged on the topics which could
thus be illustrated; at Oxford I should speak of quite other matters.
If I find I get on well at Edinburgh, however, I will consider what I
could say, as I fully feel the value of such an audience.
1 [That is, in the guide-books which assign the same date to all parts of the
building. By "it" in the next line, Ruskin must mean the best, and, according
to him, the oldest part, as indicated above.]
2 [Of The Stones of Venice.}
* [See Lectures on Architecture and Painting, 14 (and Fig. 7), 22, 24
(Vol. XII. pp. 31, 45, 48).]
152 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I
At all events I will certainly come to Oxford to see you and Mrs.
Acland soon I mean, before I go abroad in the spring but I hardly
know yet when it can be, because poor Millais has been so hindered
by the weather that it is a question whether the background of the
portrait l can be finished before I go to Edinburgh, so I stay here to
the last day I can spare, and shall have to pay a visit to Kffie's
parents after the end of the lectures, llth November, and my father
and mother are wearying to see me already, so I fancy it will be in
the earliest spring that I shall be able to get to Oxford.
Your little Harry is too clever a child to expect anybody to love
him without having seen him out of his long clothes, so I shall send
him no messages till I have made his better acquaintance.
Our best love to Mrs. Acland.
Millais 1 sincere regards, but he says he can't come to Oxford (I
don't know why) even in the hope of shuttlecock in the Radcliffe. 2
He may come, for all that. Ever affectionately yours,
To the Rev. W. L. BROWN
EDINBURGH, 8//t November .
DEAR MR. BROWN, I have really appeared very ungrateful to you,
but I only delayed answering your first letter till I could do so with
care ; and I wanted complete rest when I went into the Highlands,
and now I cannot sit down to answer, but merely to thank you. I
have been very busy about my lectures, and have only to-day obtained
a little leisure much to my regret, by the intervention of a violent
cold and hoarseness which has forced me to put off speaking for a day
or two at least ; but as I am a little feverish and unwell, I will not
set myself to answer the various points in your letter, at present.
Only this much. That the system of our universities is not so bad,
it seems to me, in itself, as in being considered the end of a youth's
efforts for many previous years. It is vain to say that University
distinction ought not to be made an end. It is so by all weak young
men ; including all men up to my calibre, and perhaps some consider-
ably above it, and therefore many who have power enough to make
them of considei-able importance. The very few who have perfectly
rational parents, and perfectly well educated minds, may turn our
university system to good advantage, but they would do the same with
I will tell you frankly what I feel respecting myself. I was as
1 [Of Ruskin : see the frontispiece to Vol. XII.]
' [The Infirmary.]
1853] SELF-EDUCATION 153
fond of nature at five years old as I am now, and had as good an
ear for the harmony of words : only I was ready to take more licenses
than I should allow myself now that is to say, that the eye for colour
and form, the affection for the mysterious, and the ear for sound, God
gave me when I was born, as He does, it is my entire conviction,
whatever is to constitute the man's real power, to every man. My
mother early made me familiar with the Bible, and thereby rather
aided than checked my feeling for what was beautiful in language. I
owe much to having early learned the 32nd of Deuteronomy and the
15th Exodus thoroughly by heart. My mother had excellent taste in
reading, besides being an unwearied reader. She could not have given
me the ear, but the ear being there, she educated the taste in emphasis
and never allowed a theatrical or false one. 1 Here is one of the be-
ginnings of wholesome education. There was no teaching of elocution,
but merely of common sense and plainness.
I was naturally vain and cowardly ; it took all the best care of
my father and mother to keep me from lyin.r; ; and the vanity, they,
not perceiving and partly sharing in, encouraged in the most fatal
way. Here was one of the things which should have been set at, and
crushed, if not annihilated, which I suppose it could not have been.
I went on till I was to go to College, educating myself in miner-
alogy, drawing, and the power of stringing words together, which I
called poetry. My intense vanity prevented my receiving any educa-
tion in literature (which otherwise might have been possible), except
what I picked up myself; but my father never in any instance read
a book to me which was bad in style, his taste being excellent ; and
having Johnson, Goldsmith, and Richardson read to me constantly, led
me in the right way. I imitated Johnson for a long time; perhaps if
I were to look at these imitations I might find them bombastic ; but
if I do not write bombast now, it is only my own choice thus exer-
cised that has rescued me from the danger of it, for I never would
receive a hint from any one. Do you not recollect my coming to you
to ask how far I might hold to my own judgment against Keble's ?
I recollect now how right, of course, Keble was ; but I was not the
least benefited by his remarks, only thought him " no poet " for his
pains. 3 Education might perhaps have been possible here (but for
the intense vanity), and perhaps some of the remarks you made on
1 [Compare Prceterita, Vol. XXXV. p. 41.]
2 [In Prafterita, i. 68, he names Johnson and Goldsmith, but not Richardson,
as being 1 read aloud to him (Vol. XXXV. p. Gl). For his own reading of Richard-
son, see ii. 70 (ibid., p. 308).]
3 [Keble "cut out all my best bits from my prize poem": Prfgterita, ii. 193
(Vol. XXXV. p. 422).]
154 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [IBSS
one or two prose essays I sent you had more effect on me. But, on
the whole, I am conscious of no result from the University in this re-
spect, except the dead waste of three or four months in writing poems
for the Newdigate, a prize which I would unhesitatingly do away
with. No man who could write poetry ever wanted a prize to make
him do it, and the present of a small book to a child at five years
old will do more than three years' 1 labour with him at fifteen.
Touching mineralogy and drawing, my whole heart went to these ;
and if education had been understood at the time, and the university
system other than it was, I should have had the best masters in both,
and obtained complete knowledge of the one, and power in the other,
by the time I was twenty. As it is, they were both learned in play
hours, which ought to have been play hours, and all my most precious
time was given to the attempt to learn things which I never could
learn : at least at that time. The result was that I knew neither the
one thing nor the other, and left the University with broken health
and lost hope an execrable scholar, with a smattering of mineralogy
and geology, and about as much power of drawing as I ought to have
had at fifteen.
I recovered my health by vomiting up, so to speak that is, to my
totally forgetting whatever I had learned by force all my life, more
especially all my Greek history and Latin grammar. I can't translate
three sentences to this day without a mistake. And when I was two-
and-twenty, going into a small lodging at Leamington with a few
books in the bottom of my portmanteau, my education properly so
called began by my beginning to acquaint myself with modern history.
I then began to draw, for the first time carefully, and under good
masters ; and have got on pretty well, in judgment, but shall regret
to the end of my life the loss of the dexterity of hand and quickness
of eye only to be gained in childhood. About six-and-twenty, my
disgust for Greek and Latin having subsided, I set myself to learn
Greek grammar properly ; enjoyed it ; and should have made some
progress, had not I still had to learn so much about art, which I
felt was of more importance to me. Had I known as much [as] I
ought of art and of mineralogy at that time, I should by this time, as
far as I can judge, have been an excellent Greek scholar also, and in
strong instead of feeble health.
You must believe, my dear Mr. Brown, that I should not write
thus frankly to you, or have so long expressed, and with all sincerity,
the high value I set on your friendship and advice, if I had thought
you to blame in this matter. I look upon you as I do on my father
and mother, as doing all you could, and quite paralv/ed by the system.
1853] THE GROWTH OF OPINIONS 155
My political opinions have been formed entirely by thinking out in
quiet walks they are as yet partly unformed. Half the men I meet
seem never to have thought upon the subject.
My religious opinions were originally taught me by my mother
dogmatically. I have seen no ground for changing them, though much
disturbed by Church divisions. It has always seemed to me that unless
religion could be taught dogmatically, it was of no use to teach it
My body, in all manly developments, has been entirely neglected;
and unless I had run the risk of my life daily, must have been so in
the present system, as I never had strength for athletic exercise except
in a systematic way under the eye of a master.
How garrulous one gets, talking about myself! I intended to write
only a few lines, and have left the principal points of your letter