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at present the Gothic don^t want any more. Affectionately yours,


I hope you did not get cold with carrying those things out for me
on Saturday.


December 16th, 1854.

DEAR FDRNIVALL, The cathedrals were built by companies of men
who travelled about, popularly known as "Logeurs du Bon Dieu." 2
They had a Master of Works, whose name might, or might not, be of
celebrity. He would sketch, plan, and give each inferior workman his
bit to do, as he liked best. I will bring you a book, which has
something about it, on Wednesday. Always yours, J. R.


[Ruskin was at home at Denmark Hill for the greater part of this year, at
work on the third volume of Modern Painters. For a letter to Mrs. Carlyle, giving
a lively account of his occupations, see Vol. V. p. xlix.]



Monday, 23rd January [1855],

DEAR MR. CARLYLE, I had some thoughts of making a true foray
upon you this evening having been rendered desperate by Woolner's
telling me that it was three years since I had seen you but this

1 [No. 15 in Fumivall, p. 44.]

2 [See Vol. XVII. p. 280, and Vol. XX. p. 67.]

3 [For Ruskiu's friendship with Carlyle, see the Introduction (above).]


morning it looks so much as if, could I once get to Chelsea, you
might have some difficulty in getting quit of me again till a thaw
came, that I will not venture. Only I warn you that I really must
come and see you one of these days if you won't come and see us.

People are continually accusing me of borrowing other men's thoughts,
and not confessing the obligation. I don't think there is anything of
which I am more utterly incapable than of this meanness ; but it is
very difficult always to know how much one is indebted to other people,
and it is always most difficult to explain to others the degree in which
a stronger mind may guide you, without your having at least inten-
tionally borrowed this or the other definite thought. The fact is, it
is very possible for two people to hit sometimes on the same thought,
and I have over and over again been somewhat vexed as well as sur-
prised at finding that what I really ///if/, and knew I had, worked out
for myself, corresponded very closely to things that you had said much
better. I entreat you not to think when (if you have ever patience to
do so) you glance at anything I write and when you come, as you
must sometimes, on bits that look like bits of yourself spoiled to think
that I have been mean enough to borrow from you knowingly, and
without acknowledgment. How much your general influence has told
upon me, I know not, but I always confess it, or rather boast of it,
in conversation about you, and you will see what considering the way
malicious people catch at such confessions is certainly a very frank
one, at the close of the lecture of which I send you a Builder con-
taining a report. I have marked the passage, p. 639. *

With sincere regards to Mrs. Carlyle. believe me, my dear Sir,
most faithfully yours, J. RUSKIN.


[DENMARK HILL] February 5th, 1855.

MY DEAR WARD, I was just going to write to you about your
drawing, which is very good, though I can't give you much for it, or
I should unjustifiably raise the hopes of the other men. We must
finish a little more before we can command price. I am only going
to give you ten shillings for this. It is worth that to me, though

1 [A report of Ruskin's third lecture on "Decorative Colour" (December J),
1854) : see Vol. XII. p. 507 and n., and on the subject of Plagiarism generally,
Vol. V. p. 427.]

2 [This letter, the first from Kuskin to Mr. Ward, a pupil in his drawing-class
at the Working Men's College, u-ho became Ruskin's assistant and an accom-
plished copyist of Turner (see the Introduction, above), is reprinted from Letter*

from Huskin to William Ward, edited hi/ Thomas J. H'/.vf, privately printed, 1893
(hereafter referred to as Ward), vol. i. pp. .3-5.]


mure to you ; but as you get on you will put more value on your
work, in less time. I will send you a prettier model ; and then, I
think, you will make a very lovely drawing.

Don't allow yourself to dwell on the evil, or you will fall into
despair; and you will come across veins of good some day. There
are beautiful people beautiful in sense of all goodness in the world,
here and there; the worst of it is, most of them are apt to be

I am more oppressed and wonderstruck by people's absurdity than
anything else in the world; and then, what wonderful power a single
fool has the wrong way !

But you know all your annoyance, as well as mine, comes of their
disbelief. If you really suppose there is a master to the household,
you have nothing to do but to attend to his business, and be quiet
and comfortable. Truly yours, J. RUSKIX.

Always write to me when it does you good, as it does me good too.



MY DEAR WARD, I am much obliged to you for both your letters,
and for this last the more in acknowledging the first. I should be
glad indeed if I thought that so many of the workmen were of your
mind as to admit of your using that large " we would relieve ourselves. 11
At all events I am truly glad to know whom I can count upon to
help themselves in such a spirit.

But, as I said to you, I do not count upon such a temper as an
available practical element. All I hope for is to be able to show,
and to make men understand, how they may live more comfortably
get better wages and be happier and wiser than they are at present.
If, after that, they are led on to better things well ! But at present,
it seems to me, that good fellowship reciprocal help exercise of
brains with the hands and such other matters, may be got out of
(or into) thousands who would not listen for a moment if one were
to begin talking to them of the Influences of the Holy Spirit. All
these things are His influences ; but I think we have to advise and
preach them just as simply as one would advise children, who were
fighting in a ditch, to get out of it, wash their faces, and be friends
without endeavouring, at that moment, to instil into them any very
high principles of religion.

1 [No. 2 in Ward, vol. i. pp. 6-9.]


1 am very glad you are thinking of the Protestant Convent plan. 1
I have no doubt we shall carry it out, and that all over the country;
but just because it is so important a scheme, we must not attempt it
till we are sure of succeeding. Let us all work, but still the main
word for us all must be patience. I hope to meet you, then, at
Norwood on Saturday. Truly yours always, J. RUSKIN.



MY DEAR LAING, I wanted to think more over this matter, and I
have not time. I shall put the points which need thought before you
as clearly as I can. I could give you the bare means of support in
London, at all events for some time, and you could be of great use
to me, and would have much leisure to study what you liked. But,
in the first place, your connecting yourself with me, and distinctly
declaring yourself to have adopted my principles, might very possibly
be seriously prejudicial to all your prospects in life. It might, or
might not, but the alternative is one on which you ought to have the
best advice. I do not doubt that you will endeavour, when you obtain
influence or employment, to carry out my views; but I believe that a
distinct adherence to me at present might be adverse to your obtaining
employment. The architects are, of course, all hostile to me. Scandal
and determined, carefully studied calumny have for the present destroyed
what influence I had over the very senseless people who form the
larger portion of the upper classes of society, and it may be long
God knows how long before my good word is good for anything

Farther, I do not like to take you away from your own country
and your relations. If I did, your mother would look upon me as in
some sort responsible for your future fate, and I cannot take this
responsibility. I would take it in your case more willingly than in

1 ["At this time (18.55) Mr. Ruskin had an idea of forming a community of
Art Workers, who were to he employed by the public in copying' illuminated MSS.,
and various other kinds of Art work. Nothing ever came of the scheme in this
particular form, hut the idea was carried out by the employment by Mr. Ruskin
himself of people to work for him in copying pictures, making architectural draw-
ings, engravings, etc., always in the hope that the public would become interested
in the work, and assist with their patronage. It cannot be going too far to say
that the formation of the (Juild of St. George was in reality a late development of
the ' Protestant Convent Plan ' " (W. W.).]

[From the Knglixh Illustrated Mayaxinc, August 1893, p. 785. luting accepted
Ruskin's offer, and became installed as one of his assistants, in which capacity he
is referred to below, p. 200.]

1855] AN OFFER OF HELP 187

that of any one that I know, but I am not learned in the ways of
men, and my pursuits are already so much too numerous and too
difficult for me that I am compelled, above all things, to avoid any
responsibility or ground for anxiety in matters in which I have little
experience. If you came to London I would do you what kindness
I could, but your success would depend entirely on your own per-
severance and on opportunities which might never occur, and which
/ could not hunt up for you.

If, under these circumstances, after considering them carefully, you
like to run the risk, I will give you at the rate of a year
from the day you set foot in London, continuing this salary as long
as I see you are studying properly and conducting yourself well; or
until you are able to find a better position for yourself. I would first
wish you to learn to draw as far as I could show you how in an
artistical way, and then your work for me would consist sometimes in
copying missals, sometimes in making the most careful and perfect
drawings of the architecture of Northern France, where you would be
much better off for your a year than in England.

If things go as I hope, I might be able to bring you forward as
an architect ; that is to say, if you have really powers of design ; and
gradually you would be thus able to shake yourself free of my help,
and obtain an honourable position. But this is contingent on your
powers of invention, and on my recovering my influence. You might
not be able to do this, and might remain, making drawings for me
at a year, until you were disgusted. And then remember, I
will not be accused of having spoiled your prospects in life. I make
you this offer, not being at all able to say whether it would be wise
in you to accept it -or not it is certainly for you to decide. But one
thing be assured of, that though I cannot help you, I will not hinder
you in advancement; that you should be at liberty at all times to
look after any situation that offered, and at any moment to quit
mine. And if as might possibly happen your drawings came to have
market value, you should have a certain time at your disposal for the
execution of works of a saleable kind.

Do not answer this hastily. Ask much advice about it. Faithfully
yours, J. RUSKIN.

Of course, the advantage of the thing would be your having leisure,
power of studying what you chose, occasional use of valuable books in
my library, and the run of the British Museum besides the estimable
advantage of being under positive orders always to go to bed at ten
o'clock. The disadvantages are very poor lodging little can be had

188 LETTERS OF RUSKIN Voi, I [1855

for a year in London ; slight chance of getting on ; danger of
getting associated in my warfare; chance of illness far from friends
in France. As far as regards me, you need not trouble your mind at
all. Your work would be worth much more to me than what I offer
you, and I should like to have you near me. On the other hand, I
could not help being anxious about you, and worried if you did not
get on. So that I really cannot tell whether I should like you to
come or not; and if you come, you need of course feel under no
obligation to me; and if you refuse, you need not fear offending me.
I shall be in either case precisely the same to you that I have been.
You understand that you will have to find board, lodging, and all
for this salary. I live in my father's and mother's house, where I
cannot give rooms to any one.


DENMARK HILL, 13 February, 1856.

MY DEAR SIR, I was much gratified by receiving your letter, as
it assured me of being able to send a satisfactory reply to Mr. Still-
man, and, which is a matter of somewhat more importance, assured
me of the American public being well and faithfully guided in matters
of art, so far as they trust to the London correspondent of the

I will not thank you for your letter in the Artist ; z for I believe
that you are one of the few who understand the real rank of a critic,
and who do not think that the assertion of truth ought to be con-
sidered as a personal favour. But I may perhaps express to you the
pleasure I felt (and it is the very rarest of all the pleasures I have)
in meeting with some one who can understand, or who will take the
pain? to understand, what I have written, reasonably. I know plenty
of people who can be tickled by fine words, or moved by the expres-
sion of a sentiment they like. But of people who can see the four
sides of a square at once, or follow the steps of an argument for ten

1 [From Ruskin, Kosxefti, and Pre-Raptiaclitism, pp. 69 -4. The letter refers to
the American art-paper The ('rayon: a Journal devoted to the Graphic Arts, and the
Literature de.rnted to them (New York : Stillman <fc Durand, Proprietors, 1855).
Its editor, W. J. Stillman, had asked Kuskin to name some person who could write a
monthly summary of art-matters in England. Kuskin recommended W. M. Kossetti,
who contributed a series of "Art News from London," vol. i. pp. 2(>.'5, '.Vl~, etc.]

1 ["There was a short-lived art-review in London entitled the Artist, to which
I was a contributor ; and, finding there some petulant mis-statements as to Kuskin's
published opinions on some questions of architectural or other art, I wrote to
correct them" (W. M. Rossetti's Some Reminiscences, 190(5, vol. i. p. 180.]

1855] CAYLEY'S "DANTE" 189

minutes, I do not, among all my acquaintance, know half-a-dozen. I
have written to Mr. Stillman, and hope you will soon hear from
him. Believe me, with many thanks, very faithfully yours,



[? February 1855.]

DEAR ROSSETTI, Will you thank Mr. Cayley exceedingly for his
kind present? I deeply regret that I cannot give him and you the
pleasure which I am conceited enough to think you would both feel
in my concurrence in your estimate of this translation. I think Mr.
Cayley has failed simply by endeavouring the impossible. No poem
can be translated in rhyme, for the simple reason that in composition
a poet arranges his thoughts somewhat with respect to the rhyme.
The translator cannot do this, and therefore must sacrifice all grace
and flow to his rhyme, and often truth also. You call this a literal
translation. I open it at random, and I come upon the reading of
the exquisite Come i gru, etc. 2 Now observe

" And as the cranes, chanting their lays, do fly."

This " do fly " is bad English that is to say, useless double wording
for the sake of the rhyme. But also Dante doesn't say " fly." He
says "go." The "fly 1 is for the sake of the rhyme, and substitutes
insipidity for simplicity. But further " chanting their lays" Lai
is not lays. A lay may be a merry song. Lai are lamentations as
accurately as possible translated by Cary " dolorous notes." Here the
apparent literalness of the new translation is actual infidelity. Further

" In one long line upon the air outspread."

" Outspread " is for the rhyme. It is not in Dante, and it is nonsense.
A line cannot be spread. It can only be extended or continued.
Cary is accurate " Stretched out in long array," only using "sky"
for " air " in the line before.

And so I could go on. I write this for you only, because I think
your taste is as yet unformed in verse, and, so that the thought be
good, you have not enough studied modes of expression. Would you

1 [From Ruskin, Rossetti, and Pre-Raphaelitism , pp. 56-58. The "present" was a
copy of Dante's Divine Comedy, translated in the original ternary rhyme, by C. B.
Cayley, B.A., 1851-1855. Ruskin occasionally cites Cayley's translation, though
more often Cary's: see General Index.]

2 [Inferno, v. 46 :

" E come i gru van cautando lor lai,
Facendo in aer di se lunga riga."]

190 LETTERS OF RUSKIN Voi, 1 [1855

kindly thank Mr. Cayley simply for me ? if he wants to know my
opinion, telling him as gently as possible. I am particularly sulky at
his retaining that old blunder about Semiramis succe instead of sugge
making milk and water of the sting of the whole passage. 1

Please give the enclosed to youi brother. I was utterly astonished
the other day by finding it in my letter-drawer. You see by the date
how long it has been there. I have written to your pupil ; 2 there is
some treason in the letter about you; ask her to show it you.

I am afraid I must put off the pleasure of seeing you and your
brother on Tuesday, because I want you both to come and dine with
us, and I am in arrears of work and it is tumbling on my head, and
I can"t get two evenings this week. I will write again to-night to
tell you which day I want you to come if you can ; but it will be
after Tuesday. Ever most truly yours, J. RUSKIN.


[DKNMAKK HIM,, ? March, 18.55.]

DKAR ROSSETTI, I expect Kingsley, the Alton Loc'ke, to come out
here on Monday in order to be converted to Praeraphaelitism. I have
borrowed one of InchboWs pictures, 4 but I can't show him anything
with feeling in it. Could you lend me that end of Blackfriars Bridge 5
the black drawing, I mean till Tuesday ; and, if you have any
other ideas by you that you could spare for me to talk over with
him. it would be, I think, a thoroughly proper thing to send them
for him to see I mean by " proper " it would be wrong not. For
he ought to understand what sort of work you and all of us are
about. I can show him Miss Siddal's, but he may think them morbid.
Please don't be ridiculous and say you've nothing fit to be seen.
I will bring what you send back with me on Tuesday, and have sent
a folio in case you have not one at hand.

1 [hij'erno, v. 58, 5S), where the ordinary reading is :

" Ell' e Semiramis, di cui si legge,

Che succedette a Nino, e fu sun sposu."

" This is Semiramis, who, as you read,

Ruled after Niims, and had been his bride" (Cayley).

An old variant is, however: " Che sugger dette a Nino, e fu sua sposa" " \Vlio
suckled Ninus, and was his wife" 11 reading which the modern editors do not
accept. A letter from Cayley to W. M. Kossetti, showing cause against this
readinir, is printed in Hoftttetti Pavers, p. 8(5.1

: [Miss Siddal.]
[From Ruxkin, Ihimetti, and Pre-Jtajihaelitism, pp. !)f>-l>7.]

4 fU'hich lluskin had praised in Acndi-iny Notes, I$. r >5 : see Vol. XIV. p. 21.]

" [A preparatory drawing for the picture "Found."]


My best regards to your brother. I have a letter from America,
saying he was just going to be written to. I suppose he has heard
by this time. Ever most truly yours, J. RUSKIN.


DENMARK HILL, March &th, 1855.

DEAR MRS. BROWNING, I have only not written to you because
it was impossible for me to say, in any manner of writing, all that I
wanted to say but I must now, though merely a line to ask if you
are still at Florence, and if I may write to you there to tell you of
my last visit to your dear Miss Mitford, 1 and about her last letters
to me. I have very little time for writing, and I should like to know
that the letter in which I gave you this account would not be lost.
I am nervous about foreign letters, for I have often been made so
anxious by their missing me, or my friends, and I fear that one has
been lost which I sent to Dresden to two American gentlemen whom
your husband was so good as to make known to me. I \vrote asking
them to come to Denmark Hill, but have never heard of them since,
and I should be grateful if you could assure them that the letter which
they sent me from your husband was not received with inattention.

I will only add to this line of bare inquiry that I have been
lately reading your poems with an admiration which I fear you might
be offended with me if I were to express to the full (I am not sure,
by-the-bye, if I could) to yourself, but at least you will permit me
to thank you for the hallowing and purifying influence of their every
line a baptism of most tender thoughts, which to me -whom many
untoward circumstances of life have had too much power to harden and
darken into deadness and bitterness is of unspeakable preciousness.

I trust that you may be a little pleased by some things I shall
have to say of you in the book I am about just no\v. 2 I am going
to bind your poems in a golden binding, and give them to my class of
working men as the purest and most exalting poetry in our language.

Only, pray, in the next edition, alter that first verse of the " Drama

1 [Who had died on January 10. The letter in which he described his last visit
is not available ; Mrs. Browning's reply to it (November 5, 1855) is printed at vol. ii.
p. 216 of the Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. See the Introduction, above,
p. xxx.]

2 [In Modern Painters, vol. iii., there is only a bare mention of Mrs. Browning
(Vol. V. p. 323) ; the reference is, therefore, probably to The Elements of Drawing
(Vol. XV. pp. 224, 227), which, though not definitely taken in hand till the winter
of 1856-1857, nor published till June 1857, was in Ruskin's mind at a much
earlier date.]


of Exile" Gehenna and when a 1 and I must try to coax you to
send some of the long compounded Greek words which I, for one,
can't understand so much as a syllable of about their Greek business.
Please send me the merest line to say if this reaches you. Give my
sincerest regards to Mr. Browning, and believe me faithfully and respect-
fully yours, J. RUSKIN.

I have just heard from one of your friends that you have a bad
cough. Please let me know of your health. 2


17th March [? 1855].

MY DEAR MRS. BLACKBURN, I sent you a horrible scrawl of a letter
the other day ; and put off the answer to your interesting questions
about people and places, not because I wanted time to think over them,
but because I wanted to explain why I must answer at random or
nearly so. First my knowledge of history is limited to few times, to
few places, and few people. Secondly, my knowledge of Romance is
nearly as narrow in compass, and perhaps even more vague in memory ;
and thirdly, I love and hate so many places so very cordially that I
know not which to choose to make an example of. And besides all
this, it is no use beginning to think about it for if one once begins
weighing characters, one might spend one's life in reflection and re-
investigation before one could be willing to answer. So I shall answer
just at random, as if you had asked me across the table ; and though
I have been all this time in writing, that is not because I wanted to
think over the questions, but because I had this long explanation to
write before venturing to answer.

In the Bible, then, my favourite, on the whole, is Job Daniel is a
little too high above me and John too fond of saying the same thing
over and over again. I should have liked excessively to have known

1 [" Kejoice in the clefts of Gehenna,

My exiled, my host !
Earth has exiles as hopeless as when a
Heaven's empire was lost."]

2 [Mrs. Browning's reply (Florence, Marcli 17) to this letter is printed in
vol. ii. pp. 190-li)2 of The Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, edited by F. (J.
Kenyon, 1897. In the course of it she says: "The soul of a cynic, at its third
stage of purification, might feel the value of 'gold' laid on the binding of a book
by the hand of John Iluskin. Much more I, who am apt to get too near that
ugly f sty of Epicurus' sometimes! Indeed you have gratified me deeply. 'Hie re
was ' once on a time,' as is said in the fairy tales, a word dropped by you in one

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