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2 [First printed in the English Illustrated Magazine, vol. x., No. 119, August
1893, pp. 784-785. Next as No. 5 in Art and Literature, pp. 20-22.]

174 LETTERS OF RUSKIN Voi, I [1854

You are, I see, still under the impression that people can become
great painters, or great anything else, by application. If you read
my books a little more carefully you will see this denied in every
other page nearly. 1 A great painter, a great man, is born great born
for ever. No other person can ever approach or liken himself in the
slightest degree to him. A man is born a painter as a hippopotamus
is born a hippopotamus : and you can no more make yourself one
than you can make yourself a giraffe. Moreover a great man's work
always tells more in advancing him than other people's, so that the
older other people are, the farther they are off from the great men.
A little baby is very like a big baby Infant Chalon 2 like Infant
Michael Angelo. When they are each seventy years old, the difference
is infinite. I don't know what you are : nor can you yourself know
till you give up wishing to be what you are not. All work may be
made to benefit you, if you do it wisely. All work will injure you,
if you strive to do it egotistically. Your wood drawing may be made
most beneficial to you, if you just try to bring out all the virtues of
the Wood, instead of the virtues of J. J. Laing.

The best thing you can at present think of is making your work
pay that is to say, getting much effect with few touches. You have
got into a cramped and minute way of work, and should study coarse-
ness. The drawing of Lucca you made for the Builder was uselessly
fine. A lovely drawing, but nobody could have cut it at the required
cost. Have you my pamphlet on Pre-Raphaelitism ? In haste, yours
affectionately, J. R.

I shall trust to you, then, not to be in want of money without
letting me know.


PARIS, 24th September, '54.

DKAR LADY TRKVKLYAX, I received your letter two days ago at
Sens, and we are all most truly sorry for Sir Walter, and for you.
Poor Sir Walter has indeed had much to suffer first in his anxiety
about your health, and then when you were getting better these bitter
sorrows striking him again and again, like the Northumberland rain
beating on his bare forehead as we crossed the moor. You are both
of you good people, and I think that must be the reason you have
so much to suffer you would have been too happy, but for such

1 [See, for instance, Vol. V. pp. (>7-(>8 ; Vol. XII. p. ,344.]
- fSee Vol. X. p. 7 n. ; Vol. XII. p. 4(55 ; and below, p. 2J)0.]
' [For Raskin's friendship with Pauline, Lady Trevelyan, see the Introduction

1854] PLANS BY THE WAY 175

things as these. Men must have sorrow in this world, and it takes
hard blows to make them sorrowful when they are good.

I should think you must often have read the verses for the twentieth
Sunday after Trinity in the Christian Year 1 as you were wandering
among the Scotch hills. I had some times of painful feeling myself
when I came abroad first, and I found that book very useful to me.
I did not understand it before. But I have got over my distress and
darkness now, thank God, and I am very full of plans, and promises,
and hopes, and shall have much to talk to you about when I see
you, though I do not think I shall be able to come north this
autumn now. I have stayed so much longer than I intended in
Switzerland, and I have been sadly idle, and want to do something.
Not exactly idle either, for I have been learning a good many things,
and have convinced myself of some things which I had long suspected ;
for instance, that most Raphaels are not worth ten pounds apiece I
settled that matter only yesterday in the Louvre; and you may tell
Sir Walter I have great misgivings that the science of geology is good
for very little. It never tells me anything I want to know.

I think that seems to be one of the wants of this age people that
will tell one what one wants to know, as you do about my flowers
(I have a whole parcel for you dried to find out from Source of
Arveron and the front of the Cathedral at Sion 2 ), and I am going to
set myself up to tell people anything in any way that they want to
know, as soon as I get home. I am rolling projects over and over
in my head. I want to give short lectures to about 00 at once in
turn, of the sign painters, and shop decorators, and writing masters,
and upholsterers, and masons, and brickmakers, and glass-blowers, and
pottery people, and young artists, and young men in general, and
school-masters, and young ladies in general, and school-mistresses; and
I want to teach Illumination to the sign painters and the younger
ladies ; and to have prayer books all written again (only the Liturgy
altered first, as I told you), and I want to explode printing, and
gunpowder the two great curses of the age; 3 I begin to think that
abominable art of printing is the root of all the mischief it makes
people used to have everything the same shape. And I mean to lend
out Liber Studiorums and Albert Durers to everybody who wants
them ; and to make copies of all fine thirteenth-century manuscripts,
and lend them out all for nothing, of course ; and to have a room

1 [''Where is thy favoured haunt," etc.: compare Vol. V. p. xxxiv. ; aiid for
other references by Ruskin to the Christian Year, see Vol. XXVIII. p. 56(>,
Vol. XXIX. pp. 117, 194, Vol. XXXIII. p. 449.]

2 [The Sion flowers are described and named in Modern Painters, vol. iv.
(Vol. VI. p. 413 and n.)]

3 Compare Vol. XXVII. p. 264, Vol. XXIX. p. 205 and n.]


where anybody can go in all day and always see nothing in it but
what is good, with a little printed explanatory catalogue saying why
it is good ; and I want to have a black hole, where they shall see
nothing but what is bad, filled with Claudes, and Sir Charles Barry's
architecture, and so on ; and I want to have a little Academy of my
own in all the manufacturing towns, and to get the young artists-
Pre-Raphaelite always to help me; and I want to have an Academy
exhibition, an opposition shop, where all the pictures shall be hung
on the line in nice little rooms decorated in a Giottesque manner
and no bad pictures let in, and none good turned out, and very few
altogether and only a certain number of people let in each day, by
ticket, so as to have no elbowing. And as all this is merely by the
vay, while I go on with my usual work about Turner, and collect
materials for a great work I mean to write on politics founded on
the thirteenth century I shall have plenty to do when I get home.

We stayed in the Alpine air, thinking it healthier than London
air just now; my father and mother waited for me at, Geneva, and I
went to the Montanvert and into the Valais, for a month. I have got
rather beaten again by those big Alps it is very ungenerous of them
to take such advantage of their size. But I will take the conceit out
of them yet, some day. Meantime I am enjoying a little of the
Louvre. Nothing is more curious than the effect of perfect art upon
one's mind, after being a long time among wild nature. I always go
straight to Paul Veronese, if I can after leaving Chamouni ; this time
I had very nearly cried : the great painting seemed so inexpressibly
sublime more sublime even than the mountains owing to the greater
comprehensibility of the power. The mountains are part of the daily,
but far off, mystery of the universe but Veronese's painting ah /ays
makes me feel as if an archangel had come down into the room, and
were working before my eyes. I don't mean in the piety of the paint-
ing, but in its power. I would go to Tintoret if I could, but there
are no Tintorets in the Louvre except one hung sixty feet from the
floor 1 and after Tintoret there is nothing within a hundred nnles of
Veronese. The Titians and Giorgioncs are all very well but quite
human. Veronese is superhum&n.

I find Angelico's and Perugino's rather thin and poor work after
Alps. Or perhaps I am getting every day more fond of matter of fact,
and don't care to make the effort of the fancy they ask of one. As
I said, I have made up my mind that Raphael is a take-in ; I must
be a little cautious, however, before I communicate the discovery to the
public. I am going to take three more days here, and then we go

1 [See Vol. XII. p. 411 and .]

1854] LINDLEY'S "BOTANY' 177

leisurely homewards by Amiens we hope to be at Denmark Hill by
the 2nd or 3rd August. Then I must run to Oxford on the 14th
about Acland's museum, and stay two or three days; but shall after
that, I hope, settle at D. Hill for the winter. Please write to tell
me all about the drawing you have done. I shall want you to help
me a great deal, when I get my plans organised, and with my flowers,
directly. I have got a book by Lindley on Botany, 1 which tells me
larkspurs and buttercups are the same thing. I don't believe it, and
won't and of course it doesn't tell me the name of any of my flowers.
I have got such a pretty blue one for mosaic. I suppose you will
say it isn't blue, but red, or yellow, or any colour but blue at all
events it appears to me Blue, and I mean to call it a blue flower.
Please tell me how you liked Dunblane Abbey, and Doune if you
were there ; but I suppose you have been there often. Mr. Hill 2 showed
me some sketches of grand subjects about the Bridge of Allan.

My father and mother join in sincere regards to Sir Walter and
you. Believe me always affectionately yours, J. RUSKIN.



DEAR ROSSETTI, I think you are mistaken respecting that play. I
have read a great deal. Portions are good descriptively, and some
Potiphar's wife is good ; but as a whole it is wrong. But can you
dine with us on Thursday at 6? (and not be too P.R.B. as Stanfield
is coming too !) but I've no other time for a chat. Ever affection-
ately yours, J. RUSKIN.


[October, 1854.]

DEAR DICKINSON, I think it will be best if you help Rossetti's
men on with their birds, etc., playing into his hands as much as you
can, so as to get as much clone on the movable and corruptible models

1 [See Vol. XXV. p. 230 .]

2 [See above, p. 61. Ruskin met him in Edinburgh in 1853, describing him as
"a. landscape painter, amiable and unobtrusive; must be attended to."]

3 [From Ruskin, Rossetti, and Pre-Raphaelitism, pp. 31-32. The play is Joseph
and his Brethren, by Charles Jeremiah Wells, published by him in 1824 under the
pseudonym of "H. L. Howard"; praised by Rossetti in his supplementary chapter
to Gilchrist's Life of Blnke ; reprinted in 18J6 by Swinburne with a eulogistic in-

4 [Xo. 2 (pp. 5-6) in Letters on Art and Literature by John Ruskin, edited by
Thomas J. Wise, privately printed, 1894. (The book is hereafter referred to as
Art and Literature.} Mr. Lowes Dickinson, painter, assisted Ruskin at the drawing-
classes of the Working Men's College. " I was proud and happy," he says, " to



as may be. On the Thursdays I shall keep mostly to stones and
leaves, not disturbing your models. I have no doubt the whole thing
will go on better, if we all keep to this somewhat humbler material
of study. Most truly yours and gratefully, J. RUSKIN.


October Wth, 1854.

DEAR FURNIVALL, I don't want to move in the matter of the
chapter 2 myself, having been pamphleteering, etc., as much as I care
to do lately, and they say I merely get up Jobs for Smith and Elder.
Print the chapter as you think best, just as it is saying, if you like,
" by the author's permission for the Workmen's College." If you lose
by it, I will stand the loss ; if you make anything, give it to the
college funds.

I have your two notes to answer. I never said 3 that I wanted
people to believe in material hell ; all I said was that eternal torment
of some sort or other had been believed bv all great men, and all
great nations, from the beginning of time ; by Egyptians, Jews, Greeks,
Italians, and Goths; and that I had little patience with the form of
modern conceit which supposes itself more loving and compassionate
than St. John. Faithfully yours, J. RUSKIN.

I write to Smith and Elder to tell them to send you another second
volume ; you had better keep the new one, and tear up the old one
for the printer when you get it back. I also write to ask Smith and
Elder to send you the necessary wood blocks. Please send a line to

work with him and under him during the four or five years lie held the leader-
ship, so ahly, so courteously, so iudefatigably. He was himself a very great artist.
His aim was not to make great artists of working men though, as might have
heen anticipated, more than one or two of the students did become professional
artists of repute but that all men should he taught and encouraged to note and
observe, to perceive, and not merely to see, the wonder and beauty of this myste-
rious universe into which we are born. To teach under the great master was to
learn, and 1 hope never to forget my indebtedness for all I learned from him n<
I stood by his side as assistant and student during those precious years of his work
and sacrifice at the Working Men's College" (The Working Men's College, 185.';-
1904, edited by the Rev. J. Llewelyn Davies, pp. 24-35).]

1 [No. 12 iu Furnimll, pp. 36-39.]

- [Chapter vi. of vol. ii. of The Stones of Venice ("On the Nature of Gothic' 1 ).
For particulars of its separate publication, see Vol. X. pp. lx., Ixviii. Ruskin's
"pamphleteering" and other publications at this time had been Giotto and hi*
Work* in Ptulua, Lecturer on Architecture and /^tinting, and The Opening of the
('rytitnl PaluceJ]

3 [Presumably, either in conversation or at the Working Men's College ; but
see also vol. iii. of Stones of Venice, Vol. XI. p. 1G-5, and the Preface to vol. iii.
of Modern Painter*, Vol. V. p. 8.J

1854] BRITOMART 179

them saying where the blocks are to be sent and when. I want Mr.
Burton's exact address I can't read it on his letter.

I think you had better begin your chapter with " I shall endeavour "
missing the word therefore line 12, p. 151. You must miss the
45th paragraph, beginning the next with What then, p. 184, lina 2
from bottom ; and you must miss from 17th line p. 224 to the
beginning of CVIth paragraph. 1 With best thanks for doing all this,
yours always.


DENMARK HILL, 1st November, Evening [? 1854].

MY DEAR LAING, After a very fatiguing day, I can only for it is
near midnight write you this line to say I accept your promise, and
am about to pray for you that you may be enabled to keep it. Only
remember that no human strength can keep it except by instant
flight from all temptation instantly turning the thoughts in another
direction. No reasoning or resolution will stand. To turn away the
eyes and thoughts is the only way.

If you have not been hitherto enabled to do this, you will find
that in perfect chastity, of thought and body, there is indeed a
strange power, rendering every act of the soul more healthy and
spiritual, and giving a strength which otherwise is altogether unattain-
able. Spenser has set it forth perfectly under the image of the all-
conquering Britomart. 3 When I say "no human strength can keep it
except," etc., I mean not that even by flight human strength can
conquer without perpetual help. But God has appointed that His help
shall be given only to those who "turn their eyes from beholding
vanity"; 4 nay, it is by this help that those eyes are turned. I can
only say a word on the question of your letter to which this leads.
I never met with but one book in my life that was clear on the
subject of works and faith, and that book is the Bible. Read it
only on this subject. And I think you will come to the conclusion
that though works are not the price of salvation, they are assuredly
the way to it, and the only way. I do not mean the Way in the
sense in which Christ is the Way, but the way in the sense of the
Strait Gate. 5 For Christ the Door is not strait, and Christ the Way

1 [For the omissions actually made in the separate reprint, see Vol. X. p. Ixviii.]

2 ["Some Ruskin Letters," in the English Illustrated Magazine, August 189.3,
pp. 782, 784.]

3 [Compare Vol. X. p. 383.]

4 [Psalms cxix. 37-]

5 [The Bible references here are: John xiv. 6; Matthew vii. 13; Luke xvii. 10;
Matthew vii. 24; Philippians ii. 13; John vii. 17. j


not narrow. But the short of it is Christ says "When ye have
done all that is commanded you, then say we are unprofitable ser-
vants." He does not say Do nothing that is commanded you, and
all is right if you say you are unprofitable. Read the Sermon on
the Mount- It is work, work, work, from beginning to end. And I
believe all the divisions of Christians are caused by their hatred of
the simple text " Whoso heareth my words and doeth them/' 1 The
Romanists substitute paying and praying for doing; the Scotch, believ-
ing for doing; the English, reverence for doing; and so on. Plain
taking up of the hard, heavy cross is the last thing with them all.
Strive always to do acknowledge continually that it is Christ which
worketh in you, both to will and do. And you will soon know the
doctrine whether it be of God. Ever affectionately yours,



2nd November [1854].

DEAR PATMORE, I cannot tell you how much I admire your book. I
had no idea that you had power of this high kind. I think it will
at all events it ought to become one of the most popular books in the
language and blessedly popular, doing good wherever read. With
sincere regards to Mrs. Patmore, yours ever faithfully,


To J. J. LAING 2

Sunday, November frtk [1854].

MY DEAR LAING, After sitting up to write to you I put the letter
very carefully in my pocket-book to post, in town, next morning
and walked about for two days and a half with it in my pocket, under
the impression of having posted it. I don't understand how men of
much business manage. I am always doing these kind of things !

I forgot to say that the pleasantest and most useful reading I know,
on nearly all religious questions whatsoever, are Rijlc''s Tract*.' 31 I
forget his Christian name, but you will be sure to find them at Edin-
burgh. They are not professedly doctrinal, but chiefly exhortations.
The doctrine, however, comes in incidentally, very pure and clear.

1 [Memoir* and Correspondence of Coventry Patmorr, vol. ii. p. '278. 1 lie " book
is The Betrothal (1854), the first part of The Angel in the House.]

- [First printed (with .some omissions and mistakes) in the \Ventminstar (layette,
27th August 1894. Next as No. 6 in Art ami Literature, pp. 2.S-24.]

3 [J. C. Kyle (181 (5-1 !)<)<)), afterwards (1880) Bishop of Liverpool; a voluminous
writer of evangelical tracts.]


I hope you will soon get another situation, as you have differed with
your master.

I shall be glad of the illumination, if you can do it, this Autumn,
as I shall have, I hope, a good many people to show it to.

I am truly happy that you feel pozver in yourself to do something.
With best wishes, believe me, faithfully yours, J. RUSKIN.


November I"7th, 1854.

DEAR FURNIVALL, I am very anxious to get the room left open for
the men to practise in during the day. Several of them, and especially
the best draughtsmen of them all, have very earnestly pleaded for this.
I do not know how the organization of the house is managed, and do
not like to trouble Maurice about it. Can you tell me, or get it
done for me ? And, if it can be done, despatch the two notes enclosed,
merely filling up the blanks left in them for hours. What nice people
Mr. and Mrs. Burton are immensely nice ! Ever affectionately yours,



[November, 1854.]

DEAR RICHMOND, The enclosed scrap, expressing opinion that you
ought to be sent to Rome forthwith, may amuse you a little. Accept
with the writer's thanks, mine, for the loan of the beautiful drawing,
nor less for kind long letter about brush work.

I quite agree with you that one can only draw accurately with
the point. But at the Louvre, this year, 2 I made up my mind con-
clusively that the Raphaels were worth about ^10 apiece, not more
the Leonardos were all mere black and white studies not paintings
at all and that, on the whole, there was nobody in the world worth
looking at but Paul Veronese and Titian no Tintorets being in the
Louvre. Now I fancy Paul didn't deal much in silver point, what-
ever he did with silver colour. I think I shall make my men :! work
firmly with pen and ink, and lay flat coats of grey over the whole, as
soon as possible. I shall see how they get on. Ever affectionately
yours, J. RUSKIN.

I made your man I forget his name take the drawing entirely
under his charge.

No. 13 in Furnivall, pp. 40-41.]

For Ruskin's Notes on the Louvre in 1854, see Vol. XII. p. 471.]

At the Working Men's College.]



OXKORD, 18th Nov. [1854].

DEAR PATMORE, I only got your note yesterday afternoon, owing
to my absence from London for the moment. What you tell and show
me of the notices of the Angel is only consistent with what I have
long observed of press criticism. No thoroughly good thing can be
praised or felt at once.

You need be under no apprehension as to the ultimate succecs of
your poem. I don't think you will even need much patience. It has
purpose and plain meaning in every line, it is fit for its age and for
all ages and it will get its place. Its only retarding element is the
strong resemblance to the handling of Tennyson, but this will not
tell against it ultimately any more than Bonifazio's resemblance to
Titian ought to make us cast Bonifazio out of our galleries.

The circumstances of my own life unhappily render it impossible
for me to venture to write a critique on it for any publication, 2 but
whatever my private influence can do shall be done.

Believe me, with regards to Mrs. Patmore, faithfully and respect-
fully yours, J. UUSKIN.


[DENMARK HILT,] Monday Afternoon {December \\tlt, 1854].

DEAR FURNIVALL, I have just returned from a visit to my old
engraver, Mr. Lupton, who has most kindly promised to help me in
all ways in my plan for etching the Turner drawings, and here I find
your delightfully encouraging letter, falling precisely in with some
plans I had been thinking over. If my health is spared I mean to
give some lectures in May. 4 I did not intend to make people pay for

1 [Afewjirtf and Correspondence of Coventry Patmore, vol. ii. pp. 278-271). Patmore
wrote to Monckton Millies about the press criticisms thus : " If you have seen the
minor literary journals, you will be somewhat surprised by the contempt with which
the Angel has, in most cases, been received. The literary Gazette says it is so
bad that it would pass for a joke, but for the respectable name of the Publisher
(.F. Parker & Son). The Athena'nm goes out of its way to write a contemptuous
squib in rhyme. . . . Tnless the Quarterlies come to my rescue, my poetical career
is at an end : for though while men like yourself, Carlyle, Tennyson, and Ruskin
think highly of what I do, my confidence cannot be exhausted, my ability to print
books at my own cost, and to devote to verse time that could be turned to
immediate advantage, is" (Memoirs and Corre#}tondeniw, vol. i. p. 17<>).]

* [At a later time (October 1800), however, Ruskin wrote in the Critic in defence
of Patmore : see Vol. XXXIV. p. 4m.]
[No. 14 in Furnivall, pp. 42-4;}.]

4 [That i.s, at the Working Men's College.]


the lectures, but hoped to be able to persuade them to spend their
money as I wanted, after the lectures. But we can talk over this.

I will come to the tea, of course, and with great pleasure only in
talking over the tea arrangements, if you can arrange that I haven't
to sit in a draught, I shall be much obliged. Please ask Mr. Dickinson
to come to the room on Thursday, as I shall like him to see what
the men are doing, if he would be so good. I have never thanked
you for those books. I have got nearly through the sacrifice sermons ;
they are quite noble. It seems to me a little too much is taken for
granted for instance, the manner in which the necessity for sacrificing
Isaac was impressed on Abraham's mind. But they are full of sugges-
tion, and of tenderness. I have plenty of the pamphlet, thank you,

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