pp. 10-11. Athvrtmi awl other Talcs, hy Mary Russell Mitford, was published in
three vois. in 180-1; ''Atherton" occupying vo'l. i.]
1854] MISS MITFORD'S "ATHERTON" 165
of the hedge, as it always is there. I don't know where one can get
a PERFECTLY innocent laugh, except with you. All other laughing
that I know of, even the best, is either a little foolish and therefore
wrong, or a little malicious and therefore wrong too. But I think my
five-minutes-long laugh over Jacob Stokes " passing the greater part of
his time in the air which was not spent in the water " l was absolutely
guiltless and delicious, as well as another, softened by a little pity
for the hedgehog, over Marigold's behaviour to that incomprehensible
animal. Landseer has done much for dogs, but not so much as you.
I have not read the succeeding volumes yet. I keep them literally
for cordials the most happy and healing when one is weary. I sup-
pose it is because such thoughts are always floating in your mind that
you yourself can bear so much, and yet be happy.
(April 9&rd.} I have had one other feast, however, this Sunday
elseif (getClientWidth() > 430)
morning, in your dear friend's poems Eli/abeth Browning. I have
not had my eyes so often wet for these five years. I had no concep-
tion of her power before. I can't tell you how wonderful I think
them. I have been reading the " Valediction," and the " Year's Spin-
ning, 11 and the " Reed," and the " Dead Pan," and " Dead Baby at
Florence," and the " Caterina to Camoens," and all for the first time !
I only knew her mystical things younger, I suppose before.
(Tuesday.) I kept this to put another sheet, but can't keep it
longer. Yours gratefully, J. RUSKIN.
TO F. J. FlTRNIVALL 2
Monday Evening [April 24, 1854].
DEAR FURNIVALL, Many and sincere thanks for your kind note.
You can be of no use to me at present, except by not distrusting me,
nor thinking hardly of me, yourself. You cannot contradict reports ;
the world must for the present have its full swing. Do not vex
yourself about it, as far as you are sorry, lest such powers as I may
have should be shortened. Be assured I shall neither be subdued, nor
materially changed, by this matter. The worst of it for me has long
been passed. If you should hear me spoken ill of, ask people to wait
a little. If they will not wait, comfort yourself by thinking that
time and tide will not wait either.
Your letter has been a great pleasure to me. I shall not probably
1 [See Atherton and other Tales, vol. i. p. 242 ; and for Marigold (a greyhound)
and the hedgehog, p. 220.]
2 [No. 11 in FurnivaU, pp. 34-35.]
166 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [185*
be able to see you before I leave town, but I will write to you from
abroad and let you know as soon as I return. I cannot be very long
away. I shall always, of course, be grateful for a letter from you.
Send it to Denmark Hill with "to be forwarded" on it.
It gave me great delight to know that you and your friends
enjoyed yourselves here the other day. So did I heartily. Believe me
gratefully and truly yours, J. RUSKIN.
To DANTE GABRIEL RossE'm 1
DKNMARK HILI,, 2 May, 1854.
DEAR Mu. ROSSETTI, You must have been surprised and hurt at
my not having written to you before but you may perhaps already
have heard, or at all events will soon hear, that I have had much
upon my mind during the last week, and have been unable to attend
to my daily duties of which one of the most urgent would at another
time have been that of expressing to you my sympathy with you on
the occasion of your late loss. 2
I should be sincerely obliged to you if you would sometimes write
to me (as I shall not, 1 fear, be able to see you before I leave town),
telling me how you are, and what you are doing and thinking of. I
am truly anxious that no sorrow still less, undue distrust of yourself
mav interfere with the exercise of your very noble powers, and I
should deem it a great privilege if you would sometimes allow me to
have fellowship in your thoughts and sympathy with your purposes.
I have ordered my bookseller to send you copies of all that I
have written (though I know not of what use it can possibly be to
you 3 ) ; and if you will insist in having so great an advantage over me
as to give me a little drawing of yours in exchange as Glaucus gave
his golden arms for Diomed's bra/en ones 4 I shall hold it one of my
most precious possessions but besides this, please do a drawing for
me as for Mr. Boyce, 5 for fifteen guineas. Thus I shall have two
1 [From Raskin, Roxxetti, and Pre-llaphuelUism, arranged and edited by W. M.
Rossetti, 18JM), pp. "2-3. For Raskin's friendship with Rossetti, see tlie Intro-
duction (above). J
* [The death of Rossetti's lather, which had occurred on April 2(>, 1854.]
* ["I received from Ruskin," wrote Rossetti to his aunt, " the very valuable
present of all his works including eight volumes, three pamphlets, and some large
folio plates of Venetian architecture. He wished me to accept these as a gift, !>ut
it is such a costly one that I have told him I shall make a small water-colour in
exchange which idea seems to please him" (I'mitr fitihricl Ifotwetti: his /-'aini/i/
Letter*, with a Memoir, vol. ii. p. I -'54.1
4 [Iliad, vi. 2.ml
' [George Price Hoyce, the water-colour painter.]
1854] ROSSETTI, HUNT, AND MILLA1S 167
drawings instead of one. And do them at your pleasure of whatever
subjects you like best.
I send the piece of opal of which I spoke, by parcels-delivery
company, this afternoon. It is not a fine piece, but I think you will
have pleasure in sometimes letting your eye rest upon it. I know no
colours possessing its peculiar character, and a magnifying glass used
to its purple extremity will show wonderful things in it. I hope to
be back in London about the middle of August, and will immediately
come to see your pupil's 1 drawings. A letter directed here Denmark
Hill, Camberwell with " to be forwarded " on it, will always find me.
Meantime believe me always faithfully yours, J. RUSKIN.
To DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 2
GENEVA, 5 June, 1854.
DEAR Mih ROSSETTI, I have just scratched out the Mr. in the above
address [and hope] you will leave it out in your answer to me this time.
[We will not] go on Mr.-ing each other. ... I know that, so far
from being envious of them, you are thoroughly happy in their success ;
but yet you feel that there is as much in you as in them, and you have
a kind of gnawing pain at rot standing side by side with them. You
feel as if it were not worth while now to bring out your modern subjects,
as Hunt has done his first. Now, as to the original suggestion of the
power which there is in modern life if honestly treated, I firmly believe
that, to whomsoever it in reality may belong in priority of time, it
belongs to all three of you equally in right of possession. I think
that you, Hunt, and Millais, would, every one of you, have made the
discovery, without assistance or suggestion from the other. One might
make it quicker or slower than another, and I suppose that, actually,
you were the first who did it. But it would have been impossible for
men of such eyes and hearts as Millais and Hunt to walk the streets
1 [Miss Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal, afterwards married to Rossetti.]
2 [From Raskin, Rossetti, and Pre-Raphaelitism, pp. 11-14, where it is noted
that "the letter is wofully torn." The words in square brackets are Mr. W. M.
Rossetti's conjectural restorations ; except in the second paragraph on p. 168 (not
printed by him), where they ai-e similarly inserted by the present editors. A few
corrections now made are noted in the .Bibliographical Appendix (Vol. XXXVII. ).
Rossetti's subject of modern life was <f ihe picture called 'Found,' which work,"
says Mr. W. M. Rossetti, "he was now inclined to lay aside on the ground that
Hunt, in his picture 'The Awakened Conscience' (begun and finished at a date
later than the beginning of ' Found '), had been treating a modern subject of some-
what similar bearing." Mr. Holman Hunt, however, strongly combats the sugges-
tion that his picture of "The Awakened Conscience" was anticipated in idea by
the design of " Found " : see his Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brother-
hood, 1905, vol. ii. pp. 428 seq. There is a photogravure of the "Found" at p. 44
of H. C. Marillier's D. G. Rossetti.]
168 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1854
of London, or watch the things that pass each day, and not to discover
also what there was in them to be shown and painted. . . .
Now for your subjects. I like the two first the " Found," and the
"Mary Magdalene at the door of Simon's House" 1 exceedingly: the
latter, however, much the best, partly because 1 have naturally a great
dread of subjects altogether painful, and I can be happy in thinking of
Mary Magdalene, but am merely in pain while I think of the other
subject. This first also (the " Found ") is a dreadfully difficult one, and I
can imagine you half-killing yourself in trying to get it what you want,
in vain. There is one word I do not understand in your description of
your third subject 2 the most important word; referring, I suppose, to
some piece of literature I do not know. But as to what you say of your
wish to unite several scenes in it on an elevated (?) horizon, I most
entirely agree with you. No pictures are so interesting [as those] which
tell a story in this consecutive way; and it would [never have] been
given up but for the ridiculous " unities " which the bad [critics of
the] last two centuries insisted upon. The fact is taking [the matter
in the] most prosaic and severe way you merely paint three [several
pictures, and] unite them by interlude of background, instead [of
painting them] separately. ^Vhat possible objection can there be to
[this]? . . .
[I mean to devote myself] to an examination of the spirit ... of the
period 1150-1350 . . . years I imagine the most pregnant and powerful
which have [been in] this world of ours. 8 I shall examine all the archi-
tecture ... in England, France, and Italy ; and I hope to be able to
get [some] knowledge of the literature the hope of your help may
[make me more] sanguine than I was in this respect, and I shall study
the politics as carefully as I have time; in fact, concentrating what
strength I have on this subject for, I daresay, the best part of my life.
Please send me some of your translations 4 when you have time.
At present I am resting among the mountains, find trying to draw
them a little. I do wish, when you find yourself in need of a little
change of thought, you would run as far as Rouen, and look at the
thirteenth-century sculptures, going fast to decay, at the bottom of
the doors of the north and south transepts. I am thinking of casting
them ; but they are so mouldered away or choked with dust [that I
1 [Rossetti made several versions of this subject : see Nos. 78, 83, 108, 169, and
234 in the Chronological List, appended to H. C. Marillier's D. G. Ihstsi-tti.]
2 [" Possibly some subject from Dante's Vita Nuom " (W. M. R.).]
5 [Compare Vol. X. p. 300, Vol. XII. p. 108, Vol. XVI. p. 2"<5 n. ; and, for
Ruskin's intention to write a history of the thirteenth century. Vol. XIX. p. 4(>2.
Vol. XXII. p. 285.]
4 [No doubt, from the Early Italian Poetx: see below, pp. 214, 362.]
1854] REPUTATION 169
fear] the additional bluntness of the cast will set them off [to very
poor] advantage. You would, I think, be infinitely touched [with these
sculptures]. They are on a level with the eye little panels . . . about
150 on each door; . . . the finest things I know in all the world. . . .
I sincerely trust that your best anticipations with respect to your
pupil 1 may be fulfilled. Believe me always most faithfully yours,
A letter sent to No. 7 Billiter Street will always be forwarded.
To F. J. FURNIVALL 2
VEVAY, June Qth, 1854.
DEAR FURNIVALL, I was very glad of your kind letter, very heartily
glad that you liked my lectures, 3 very supremely glad that . . . has
made up his mind to go into Scotland and finish his work properly.
What did he say to you, and what do other people say, about his
reasons for wishing not to go into Scotland ? I have no personal
reason for asking this, but I wish to know for . . .'s own sake, poor
fellow, and you need not fear surprising me by telling me. I know
the facts, but I want to know the sayings !
You need not think it great in me to risk my reputation, such as
it is, for young men. I don't risk my reputation at all. If I don't
know what is good and right, my reputation will not stand for ten
years. If I do, I shall increase my reputation by defending the right
in another's instance, and of another kind. But the fact is that I do
not at all care for reputation in the matter. I must speak if I see
people thinking what I know is wrong, and if there is any chance of
my being listened to. I don't say I wouldn't care for reputation if I
had it, but until people are ready to receive all I say about art as
"unquestionable," just as they receive what Faraday tells them about
chemistry, 4 I don't consider myself to have any reputation at all worth
caring about. I see I can do some good, when people are already
partly of my mind. But I have no authority yet, such as I want to
have, or such as that I feel I deserve to have. I shall get it, but,
I fear, too late to do much good with it. It is an otld world. The
thirteenth-century cathedrals are all being destroyed, just some twenty
years before the world will find out that they were worth keeping.
I like your clever printer's idea about the bird very much. I
couldn't make out the action of it ; the paint had chilled in that
Miss Siddal : see below, p. 190.]
No. 10 in Furnivall, pp. 30-33.]
The Lectures on Architecture and Painting (Vol. XII.), issued in April 1854.
Compare Ruskin's Preface to vol. iii. of Modern Painters (Vol. V. p. 5).]
170 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1854
place. Nor do I understand the meaning of the boy with the trumpet
asleep among the tapestry-corn ; do you ?
I never meant the "Denmark Hill" at the end of my letter as a
date, merely as my general address ; I put no date after it. I have
been looking at Ruth l since I got your letter. It is indeed very
beautiful, and must do infinite good, I should think. I am very
happy among my Alps. I have been drawing a little in a more
finished way than usual, and shall have something to show you, I
hope, when I come back in August. I have found a delightful
anti-socialist book for you, too, but I have quantities of letters to
answer, and must say good-bye. Affectionately, yours always,
To MARY RUSSELL MrrrouD 2
GENEVA, July 29, 1854.
MY DEAR Miss MITFORD, I merely write a single line to tell you
how glad I am to hear from your letter to my father that the
dramatic works will soon be published. 3 I am very curious to see them,
and I am sure by what you say of them that they will be a delight
to us all; also, in my peculiar disposition to general quarrelsomeness
with the public, I begin to put my feathers up, like a fighting cock,
in the hope of discovering something especially good which the public
have not yet acknowledged. I am sure that what has so much of
your own feelings in the woof of it must be good in the abstract ;
but whether good as a play is another matter. I wish it was more
the custom to write in a dramatic form without that subduing and
chiselling, and decorating down to the dimensions, and up to the
sparkle, which is needed for the stage patience and the footlights.
I have met with one example of this kind of writing which has
delighted me beyond measure. You know everything that ever was
written, I believe, but in case by accident almost inconceivable you
should not know Octave Feuillefs Scenes et Proverbes,* I have ordered
my bookseller to send it you instantly, thinking that perhaps you
might be refreshed, even in your present time of extreme pain, by the
exceeding sweetness of " La Clef d'Or." There is something exceed-
ingly like your own thoughts and what can I say more ? in one of
the scenes of it that between Suzanne and her baby at the bridge,
and between her and her husband when she leaves him settling the
1 [Mrs. (iaskell's novel. For a letter to Mrs. (Jaskell, see below, p. 4~9.]
- [The Friendship* f Mar>i Russell Mitford, vol. ii. p. 122. Reprinted in Igdrnnil,
April 1890, vol. i. pp. 123-124, and thence in Iluskiniunu, part i., 1890, pp. 11-12.]
3 [They appeared in 2 vol.s. later in the same yeir, Ii3o4.]
4 [Compare Vol. V. p. .'570.]
1854] THE EFFORT TO EXCEL 171
accounts of the estate with what he thinks a flash of "triomphe
diabolique" in her eyes. "Redemption" is also a fine thing, but
perhaps a little too painful and exciting for you just now.
I do not want to lose this post, and must say good-bye. You
do not know how much you have done for me in showing me how
calamity may be borne. Ever most respectfully and affectionately
yours, J. RUSKIN.
To J. J. LAING 1
FRIBOUBG, August Gtfi, 1854.
DEAR MR. LAIXG, I was indeed very glad, as you thought I should
be, to have your long, chatty letter one can never have letters too
long when one is travelling only some parts of said letter are founded
on a little misapprehension of my meaning. I am sure I never said
anything to dissuade you from trying to excel, or to do great things.
I only wanted you to be sure your efforts were made with a sub-
stantial basis, so that just at the moment of push, your footing might
not give way beneath you : and, also, I wanted you to feel that long
and steady effort made in a contented way does more than violent
efforts made for some strong motive, or under some enthusiastic im-
pulse. And I repeat, for of this I am perfectly sure, that the best
things are only to be done in this way. It is very difficult thoroughly
to understand the difference between indolence and reserve of strength
between apathy and serenity between palsy and patience. But
there is all the difference in the world, and nearly as many men
are ruined by inconsiderate exertion as by idleness itself. To do as
much as you can healthily and happily do each day, in a well-deter-
mined direction, with a view to far-off results, and with present
enjoyment of one's work, is the only proper, the only eventually profit-
able way. I find scattered through your letter some motives which
you have no business to act upon at all "that I may show those of
my own blood that they may be proud of me," " if for nothing else
than to show my prejudiced folks that I could do something," are by
no means sufficient reasons for going into the life class. I am afraid
of this prize-getting temper in you : chiefly, I suppose, because I have
suffered much from it myself vanity of various kinds having caused to
me the waste of half my life, in making me try to do things better
than I could, or to do things that I couldn't do, or to do them in
1 [First printed in the English Illustrated Magazine, vol. x., No. 119, August
1893, pp. "80-781. Next, as No. 3 in Art and Literature, pp. 7-15. Portions of
the letter ("I am sure . . . profitable way") had previously been printed in the
Queen, August 1885 ; thence reprinted in Igdrasil, August 1890, vol. i. pp. 303-304,
and in Ruskiniana, part i., 1890, pp. 57-58 (No. 56). Also in \V. G. Collingwood's
John Buskin, 1900, p. 147.]
172 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1854
ways that would bring me credit, instead of merely in the proper way.
I lost half the gocd of my college life by over exertion in cramming
for honours; half the use of my vacations, when I ought to have been
at rest, in writing prize poems : * not to count the innumerable vexa-
tions and irritations which pride causes, throughout one's life. And I
would the more earnestly press the consideration of this on you be-
cause, though I see you act under the influence of many good and
noble motives, wishing to keep and comfort your mother and to do
good to your fellow creatures, yet it seems to me that you do not
quite know how inexpressibly subtle and penetrating the principle of
pride is: how it mingles itself with, and even pretends itself to be,
and takes the likeness of, the noblest feelings in the world ; and what
a constant struggle it needs even to detect, much more to expel it.
It is like oxygen in iron the hottest fire will not expel it altogether;
and it steals in with the very air we breathe, turning all our steel
into rust. Therefore it is that I urge on you the consideration of
what I know to be true that it is not by any effort of which you can
possibly be vain, that you will do great things. Things that require
steady labour there are indeed for all of us to do, but they are the
coal-heaving part of our life, and to be done with a slow step and a
bent back, patiently, not in a passion, not trying to beat our brother
coal-heavers, but only to carry as many coals as we can comfortably.
But the great things, which require genias to do, are done easily if
you have the genius. If you are to do anything that is really glorious,
and for which men will for ever wonder at you, you will do it as a
duck quacks because it is your nature to quack when it rains.
However, the short and the long of it is that if you can at all
afford time to practise it, I think you should certainly go into the
drawing and modelling classes. As for the life, I don't know. I think
you will have changed some of your ideas about drawing before you
come to it, and then we can talk over the matter. Figure sculpture
cannot now be introduced in architecture, because we have no costume,
and our nakedness is ignoble, so that all our figure sculpture is neces-
sarily mere imitation Greek or imitation mediaeval. It makes me as
sick as if people were to feed me with meat that somebody else had
chewed. We can have l)easts, and plants for beasts, thank God, still
keep their old manners, and their old coats. How far drawing the
human figure from the life is necessary to enable you to understand
beasts I don't know ; but I rather think it might be well, for you
can't get beasts to stand still to be studied, and when you can draw
a m&n you can draw anything.
1 [Compare Vol. XXXV. pp. 612, 013.]
1854] THE GRACE OF GOD 173
You say you must work hard to keep you from evil. Will not hard
play do as well ? I don't think God has put any passions in the human
frame which may not be subdued in a healthy manner as long as it is
necessary to subdue them. I wish you would ask a clergyman about this.
I would accept your promise with gratitude, if I thought that it
would be safe for you to make it. But I believe the.re is no means
of preserving rectitude of conduct and nobleness of aim but the Grace
of God obtained by daily, almost hourly, waiting upon Him, and
continued faith in His immediate presence. Get into this habit of
thought, and you need make no promises. Come short of this and
you will break them, and be more discouraged than if you had made
none. The great lesson we have to learn in this world is to give it all
up. It is not so much resolution as renunciation, not so much courage
as resignation, that we need. He that has once yielded thoroughly to
God will yield to nothing but God.
As to the Missal, it is the first page, 3, 4 Genesis, that I would
like. Mind you don't do it but at your leisure. I shall be delighted
to see you in London. I shall (D. V.) be there from about 1st December,
and all winter. 1 shall be out of town in October and November.
In order to draw the page conveniently I should like you to invent
a little desk for it, to slope to any angle, with little flat ivory teeth
to hold the pages open at any place mere pegs cut the leaves. I
should like the ivory holders to be broad, as at a, b, c, c?, 1 so attached
as always to fit without pressure, sliding out or in according to the
thickness of book opened : then the whole to be enclosed in a good
frame of the best wood, and covered with the finest plate glass ; frame
and glass so lifting together as to show the book to the copyist. If
you can get such a thing well made, subject to the approval of the
Librarian, I will make a present of it to the Advocates'" Library for
this Bible. Ever most truly yours, J. RUSKIN.
To J. J.
[CHAMOU.VI] September 1st .
MY DEAR LAING, I am very thankful to hear of your tolerably
steady health, and consistent employment. At the risk of hurting
your health a little, I answer one or two of the questions you ask
me. Perhaps it is better to hurt you a little at once than to allow
you to overwork yourself.
1 [Ruskin drew a slight pen sketch of the kind of desk suggested.]