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of your books, which I picked up and wore for a crown." The reference is to an
incidental reference, in the first vol. of The Stones of Venice (1851), to the "spirituality
of Elizabeth Barrett": Vol. IX. p. 228.]



1855] LIKES AND DISLIKES 193

Habakkuk, but, not having known him, cannot quite say whether I
should have liked him or not. My chief antipathy, putting monsters
Judas and Nabal and such like out of the question, is Jacob.

In History, I am absolutely at a dead stand between Cromwell and
St. Louis; but I suppose if I had known them both I should have
drawn a little more to St. Louis. I have never examined the histories
of rascals enough to make a choice. The first who comes into my head
is King John.

In Romance. I am again divided between Sir Charles Grandison
and Don Quixote. If Don Q. had not been mad, I should have liked
him best on the whrle I believe I do. Of ladies Imogen. I had
liked to have insulted the blessed creature and you, by saying where
she was. For romantic antipathies there are, of course, too many well-
got-up monsters to render the choice either easy or interesting. I
think Glossin in Guy Mannering as disagreeable a fellow as one often
comes across.

Lastly for places. I agree quite with you respecting the old iron
and decayed bonnet for the purely horrible but there is sublimity
in such a scene and some picturesqueness. The principal street of a
modern German town, with a Court in it, is far worse. My greatest
horror in Europe is the main street in Carlsruhe.

If, for an affection, you want a narrower answer than Chamouni, I
am a little puzzled between the top of the Montanvert and a small
rock on the flank of the Breven. 1 I have been happiest on the Montan-
vert, but oftenest at this rock, where I generally pass my evenings
when at Chamouni. Next to the valley of Chamouni, and even run-
ning it rather hard, I love the little Scaliger churchyard at Verona.
I think I have been more intensely happy for a little while in the
churchyard, but not so enduringly.

Now, please, tell me yours. With best regards to Mr. Blackburn,
ever yours affectionately, J. RUSKIN.

To FRANCIS TURNER PALGRAVE 2

DENMARK HILL, March 22 [1855].

DEAR PALGRAVE, I have read your essay with great interest and
satisfaction. As far as regards the method and manner of it you

1 [No doubt the spot described in Vol. IV. p. 3G3 : see also Vol. V. p. xxxiii.,
Vol. XXVI. p. xlvi.]

2 [From Francis Turner Palgrave: His Journals and Memories oj his Life, by
Gwenllian F. Palgrave, 1899, pp. 50-51. The letter refers to the " Essay on the
First Century of Italian Engraving," contributed by Palgrave to the third edition
(1855) of the English translation of Kugler's Handbook of Painting.]

XXXVI. N



194 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1855

know, as well as I, that it is a most valuable contribution to the
history of painting. I shall use it for reference when I come to the
subject of engraving (meaning shortly to have full tilt at Marc-
Antonio J ) however, I have been meaning so many things and so long
that I had better say no more of my meanings till something is done.
I have done something, however, this winter, as I hope to show you
soon in certain drawings which I have got done by carpenters and
painters. I shall be delighted to see you any day next week, or any
other week, in the afternoon, about one or two o'clock, if you will
let me know a day or two before. When I say I have read your
essay, I mean so much of it as refers to people whom I know; which
is not, I am sorry to say, the greater part of it. I have no doubt
if I knew more about it I should find one or two matters to h'ght for;
but at present it all seems to me much of my own way of thinking
and I have not a single cavil to make. You will do immense good
by setting people to think about engraving. Fray come and have a
chat as soon as you can. Believe me always most truly yours,

J. RUSKIN.



To W. J.

DENMARK HILL, March 28, 1855.

DEAR MH. STILLMAN, I have put off answering your letter because
I wished to do so at some length. I cannot do this after all the
delay, and must just say a fe\v words. I am very busy here in
England, and cannot at present separate any time from my busy days,
in order to write regular papers for The Crayon. And this the less,
because with every desire to be of the best use I could to the cause
of Art in America, I should feel it utterly presumptuous to speak to
Americans in the way of advice as Americans unless I had time
for a most earnest inquiry into the condition of Art among them,
and into the tendencies of their national mind. Even had ! such time
at my disposal, I doubt if I should do well in so employing it. I have
often been both amused and irritated at the way in which even the
best- in formed French and Germans speak of our English Art, and I
have no doubt that they equally feel my ignorance in what I say of
theirs. So that except so far as it bears upon my own country, I do
not mean to write about foreign Art. And as for papers on general



1 [Raskin did not "shortly" carry out his i
p. 18.5 ; Vol. XXII. pp. 44, fl73, 447.]

* [From The Crm/on (New York), of which j
editor, No. 1H, May 2, 188.5,, vol. i. p. 23.]



intention ; but see, later, Vol. XXI.
journal Stillman was proprietor and



1855] AMERICAN READERS 195

subjects, all that I have to say I put into my books. But, it occurs
to me that I might be of use by simply answering such questions as
any of your American readers might like definitely to put to me, and
to have definitely answered by me, as far as might be in my power.
And this I should be most willing to do. If any of your readers wish
to know anything that I can shortly tell them, and you will put the
questions in a clear, short way, I will answer, as soon as may be,
according to my ability. I often get letters from private persons
which I have thus to answer, and the correspondence would be just
as easy to me in the public form, and might be more useful.

If this plan seems at all worth thinking of, you must think of it
for me, and put it before your readers in the way you think best,
always understanding that I should not reply at much length, and would
always do so in a very simple way as I should write a letter not as
I write what I want to say as well as I can say it, for that is very
painfully. ... I have much to thank America for heartier apprecia-
tion and a better understanding of what I am and mean, than I have
ever met in England. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than the
thought of being of use to an American ; and, if I can in any way
oblige any of your friends who are interested in Art, I beg that you
will call upon me. . . . Believe me, in haste, faithfully yours,

J. RUSKIN.

To ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING

Saturday, 6th April [1855].

DEAR MRS. BROWNING, It is not often that I have time to see
myself quietly to a letter to any one I care about. It seems to be a
law of nature that the more leisure people have, the less they know
how to use it ; and although I am my own master from dawn to
sunset nominally, I find that time and the hour 1 get the mastery of
me in the end. However, whether I can now write down the half of
what I have to say, or not, does not so much matter as that I should
tell you how thankful I was to get your letter and to know that you
were not seriously ill, and to know also that my line had given so
much pleasure to your husband.' 2 For I know that I shall to-day give
him more in the more confirmed assurance of the good I have had
from reading your books lately ; I clon^t say pleasure for that is the

1 [Macbeth, act i. sc. 3.]

2 [In replying to Ruskin's previous letter (pp. 191-192), Mrs. Browning spoke
of " the pleasure it has given me yes, and given my husband, which is better.
' When has a letter given me so much pleasure?' he exclaimed, after reading it.' ;
(Letters of Mrs. Browning, vol. ii. p. 191).]



196 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [isss

least of it. One may have much pleasure in verses which merely
serve to amuse the hour. But I have had good. My work and my
fortunes such as they have been have made me harder than I like
to be; and every day I find myself more and more dried and stiff I
hope not in reality worse than I was, but very much what a raisin
is to a grape (a raisin with the bloom off), and your poems make me
feel fresh again; they are just like what I suppose the dew and honey
are, mixed, when the bees are out, early, in the bottoms of the cup-
shaped flowers : and coming out of one's daily work to them is just
like leaving a room full of gaslights and ugly people, and plunging
into the spray of a hill cascade and lying down to sleep among the
Alpine roses. I used to think, when I knew no better, that you were
mystical and forced. I always admired you a great deal still I
thought something was sickly in the tone I did not think you were
really great. But you are; and I know it, now. Only there are one
or two things I want to talk to you about.

Whenever I find anybody else who is verily great and there are
not many people whom I put into that circle I am always ready to
believe in them, to almost any extent. I would accept them, faults and
all, reverently, thinking that their faults are a part of them and may
have some secret connection with what is best in them, inseparably, so
that in general I should hold it an impertinence absolutely to pronounce
that they were faults. In art I can say positively that is true, and
that is false; and there can be no mistake in praise or blame. But in
poetry the expression which seems to me now imperfect or objection-
able might possibly, if I could only raise myself quite to the writer's
level, be the only right and clear one to me; and, whether it would be
so or not, still it is interesting as a fact that the good writer did like
that, and feel in it what I cannot feel.

A writer must be very powerful to obtain entire carte-blanche and
submission of this kind ; but I should almost give it to you, except
only in this respect: that assuredly you ought to consider with your-
self, not merely how the poetry may be made absolutely as good as
possible, but how also it may be put into a form which shall do as
much good as possible ; and if an expression, though really a good one.
be such as to startle away a large number of careless readers, who
otherwise might gradually have become careful ones, I think, unless
there be very strong justification for it, you would agree with me in
thinking it right to cancel that expression. For instance, the "nympho-
leptic"" in "The Lost Bower/ 11 I don't, myself, know what it means,

1 [In stanza xlii. : "Though my soul were nympholepttc."]



1855] MRS. BROWNING'S POETRY 197

and I haven't had time to look in the dictionary for it; and what is
still worse, I don't expect to find it when I do look. I mean to mark
things of this kind there are not many, but all those which I feel
painful I will mark. I do not know if your friends usually can feel
such faults, for I suppose you generally find the world divide into
those who can't understand a single syllable of you, and those who
think you cannot do wrong. I should be much disposed to join the
last group, and fling my cap up for you write as you would but my
business is to be a critic, and I find it goes against my conscience to
be in this matter unprofessional. For truly, I want these books of
yours to be estimated as they deserve, and I know that some of these
phrases are heavy impediments.

Among various works I have in hand at present, one is the en-
deavour to revive the art of Illumination. 1 And the day before yester-
day, I made my best workman, who has recovered thoroughly the art
of laying on the gold, copy out the beginning of the Catarina to
Camoens, which, on the whole, is my favourite, 2 and which I mean to
make one of the most glorious little burning books that ever had leaf
turned by white finger. I intended to have begun with a canto of
Dante; but afterwards I thought it would be of better omen to choose
an English poet, and finally I chose this. I shall put one stanza in
each vellum page, with deep blue and purple and golden embroidery ;
but I am afraid (I ought rather to say, I hope) it will not be finished
before you come to England. After that I think I like the "Drama
of Exile " best (all but the first stanza of it). 3 I don't say it is finer than
Milton, but I like it better; it seems to me far more true. That is,
Milton was writing a poem to introduce as much learning and pic-
turesque thought as he could not believing that his angels ever did
what he says they did. But you believe in your angels, and are, I
am certain, much nearer the verity of them than Milton.

1 [See above, pp. 175, 186 n.]

2 [Mrs. Browning's answer (Florence, June 2) to this letter is printed in vol. ii.
pp. 198-202 of The Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, edited by F. G. Kenyon,
1897. In the course of it she says : " My husband is very much pleased, and
particularly pleased that you selected ' Catarina/ which is his favourite among
my poems for some personal fanciful reasons besides the rest. ... I think you
quite wrong in your objection to ' nympholept.' Nympholepsy is no more a Greek
word than epilepsy, and nobody would or could object to epilepsy or apoplexy as
a Greek word. It's a word for a specific disease or mania among the ancients,
that mystical passion for an invisible nymph common to a certain class of vision-
aries. Indeed, I am not the first in referring to it in English literature. De
Quincey has done so in prose, for instance, and Byron talks of ' The nympho-
lepsy of a fond despair,' though he never was accused of being overridden by his
Greek."]

8 [See above, p. 192.]



198 LETTERS OF RUSKIN- VOL. I [isss

I find I can't write any more to-day, so I must just send this, and
go on when I can.

My best regards to your husband. Ever faithfully yours,

J. RUSKIN.

My father and mother beg their compliments. My mother says, if
you would when you write tell her something about your child, it
would greatly gratify her.



To DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI l

24 April, 18.55.

DEAR ROSSETTI, I am so thoroughly unwell with cough and feverish-
ness that I fear I shall scarcely be able to come to school on Thursday,
nor to see you on Friday. I will write again if I am.

Meantime, I should be very grateful if you thought it right to
take me entirely into your confidence, and to tell me whether you
have any plans or wishes respecting Miss Sfiddal] which you are pre-
vented from carrying out by want of a certain income, and if so what
certain income would enable you to carry them out.

In case I should be run over, or anything else happen to me, I
have written to my lawyer to-day, so that the plan we have arranged
at present ' 2 cannot be disturbed by any such accident. It may be as
well that you should keep this letter (if you can keep anything safe
in that disreputable litter of yours), in order to identify yourself as
the Mr. D. Gabriel Ilossetti named in my letter. Believe me always
respectfully and affectionately yours, JOHN RUSKIX. S



To DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 4

Friday.

DKAII ROSSETTI, I have been writing to Miss Siddal to-day, chiefly
to prevent her from writing to rw ; but there are various details sug-
gested in the letter which you and she must consult over. I will come
into town to see you on Tuesday next, and you can then tell me what

! [From Ruskin, Itossetti, and Pre-Kaphaeliti#m, pp. (5!), 70.]

1 [The plan of the purchase by Ruskin of Rossetti's drawings up to a fixed sum
per annum: see Vol. V. p. xlii.]

3 [The next letter in Hiixkin, Roxxetti, and Pre-Raphurlitism (pp. 70-70) has
been printed in Vol. V. pp. xlii.-xlv.]

* [From Rntkin, Rosxrtti, <u\d Pre-RaphaeKtism, pp. 28-31, where the letter is
placed among; those of 1854, but more probably it was later than the one of
April 24, 1865.]



1855] EASE AND EFFORT 199

conclusions you have come to. But don't write, on this subject at least ;
or, if you want to see me before, just write that you want to see me,
and I will come.

Now about yourself and my drawings. I am not more sure of any-
thing in this world (and I am very positive about a great many things)
than that the utmost a man can do is that which he can do without
effort. All beautiful work singing, painting, dancing, speaking is the
easy result of long and painful practice. Immediate effort always leads
to shrieking, blotching, posturing, mouthing.

If you send me a picture in which you try to do your best, you
may depend upon it it will be beneath your proper mark of power, and
will disappoint me. If you make a careless couple of sketches, with
bright and full colour in them, you are sure to do what will please
me. If you try to do more, you may depend upon it I shall say " Thank
you for nothing," very gruffly and sulkily.

I don't say this in the slightest degree out of delicacy, to keep
you from giving me too much time. If I really liked the laboured
sketch better, I would take it at once. I tell you the plain truth
and I always said the same to Turner "If you will do me a drawing
in three days, I shall be obliged to you; but if you take three months
to it, you may put it behind the fire when it is done." And I should
have said precisely the same thing to Tintoret, or any other very
great man.

I don't mean to say you oughtn't to do the hard work. But the
laboured picture will always be in part an exercise not a result. You
oughtn't to do many careless or slight works, but you ought to do them
sometimes ; and, depend upon it, the whole cream of you will be in them.

Well, the upshot of all this is, however, that I am very much struck
by these two sketches of the Passover, 1 and that I want you to work
out the doorway one as soon as possible, with as much labour as you
like; but no more rubbings out. And when it is done, I want you to
give me the refusal of it at the price at which you would sell it to any
indifferent person. I shall be very grateful if you will do this, and if
you will do it soon. But my two sketches 2 are, please, to be done first

1 [The water-colour of this subject (unfinished) has been reproduced on Plate
XXXIV. in Vol. XXXIII. (p. 288). The two designs for the subject, of which
Sir Henry Acland became possessed, are reproduced at p. 68 of H. C. Marillier's
D, G. Rossetti. With regard to the rubbings out, ' ' I had to carry the drawing
off," said Ruskin, " finished or unfinished. You see Rossetti has cut the head of
Christ out and put in a fresh one. He put it in and scraped it out so many
times; that I feared he would end by scraping the whole thing clean away so 1
carried it off" ("Personal Recollections of John Ruskin/' by Selwyn Image, in
St. George, vol. vi. p. 299).]

2 [See above, pp. 166-167-]



200 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [isss

and fast. It may perhaps rather help you than encumber you if I
suggest to you some, for example: 1

1. Buonconte of Montefeltro and Pia of Siena waiting behind him,
Buonconte uttering the line, " Giovanna o altri," etc., with any possible
suggestion of line 102-105 in the distance.

2. Purgatory, canto 7, verse 72 to 78, combined with canto 8,
verse 8 to 15, and 26 to 30; choosing whichever you think it was of
the spirits that sang "Te lucis," and one other as a type of the
crowd.

3. Purgatory, canto 9, verses 60-66.

4. 9, 96-116.

5. 27, 97-108.

6. 28, 52-55, combined with 68, 69. I
merely name them by way of example of the sort of thing I should
like don't limit yourself to these if you have been thinking of any
other.

Stay, I must make out a complete number suppose for seventh
Piccarda and Costanza in the moon. Ever affectionately yours,

J. HUSKIN.

To DANTE GAIWIEL ROSSETTI 2

30 April [1856].

DEAR ROSSETTI, I shall try to get this letter posted early to-
morrow, to wish you a happy month of May. If you would kindly
stay in in the afternoon, my assistant, Mr. Laing, will bring you a note,
which I shall tell him to give into your own hands, with our begin-
nings in it. I am much better, but can^t speak yet clearly, nor hardly
think, and I have had no time yet to think over your letter; but my
feeling at the first reading is that it would be best for you to marry,
for the sake of giving Miss Siddal complete protection and care, and
putting an end to the peculiar sadness, and want of you hardly know
what, that there is in both of you.

I shall be able to send you before the end of the week as much

1 [For No. 1, see Purgatorio, v. 88. The "possible suggestion of line 102-105"
would consist of figures of an angel and a devil. No. 2 is the Valley of the Kings,
with the angels with flaming swords. No. 3 is Dante set down by Lucia at the
gate of Purgatory. No. 4 is the angel guarding the gate. No. 5 is the vision of
Rachel and Leah, quoted in Modern Painters, vol. iii. (Vol. V. pp. 277-278). No. (5
is Matilda in the Garden of Kden, referred to in the same place. For No. 7, see
ParadiMo, iii. (compare Vol. XIX. p. 82). Of the subjects suggested by Kuskin,
Rossetti made water-colour drawings of Nos. 5 and 6. For the " Rachel and Ixjah "
(with a figure of Dante in the background), Ruskin paid thirty guineas, and after-
wards parted with it to Miss Heaton of Leeds. A reproduction of it is given at
pp. 00-<)7 of H. ('. Marillier's Dante dnbrid Jtwaetti (1899).]

2 [From Rutkin, lioxsetti, and Pre-Uaphacliti^m, pp. 7C-77.J



1855] A FRIEND IN NEED 201

as will secure her comfort, with a companion, for a week or two at

Jersey. Then, if she could make up her mind to take you, and go

quietly away together to Vevay for the summer? Ever affectionately

yours, J. RUSKIN.

I write this more hastily than I ought, because I think you will
be anxious to know what I think. I will write at length to-morrow,
or the day after. Don't bring Munro 1 yet. I want to see him, but
I can't see ; and to speak to him, but I can't speak.

To DANTE GABRIEL RossExri 2

[DKNMARK HILL. ? May 1855.]

DEAR ROSSETTI, I am very sorry I could not answer as you bid
me, but I did not know till to-day how my week would be cut out.
I am afraid I cannot come this week, for Inchbold is going to leave
town and I want to see his things, 3 and I can't pay more than one
exploring visit in a week. It is inconceivable how one's time slides
away, and I am afraid I must go down to examine the choir of our
chapel with its newly-painted windows some day soon. 4 Mr. Moore
wanted you very much to come too, but I suppose you cannot leave
your work in the daytime ? at least, for so long.

I forgot to say to you when I saw you that, if you think there
is anything in which I can be of any use to Miss Siddal, you have
only to tell me. I mean, she might be able and like, as the weather
comes finer, to come out here sometimes and take a walk in the
garden, and feel the quiet fresh air, and look at a missal or two, and
she shall have the run of the house; and, if you think she would like
an Albert Diirer or a photograph for her own room, merely tell me,
and I will get them for her. And I want to talk to you about her,
because you seem to me to let her wear herself out with fancies, and
she really ought to be made to draw in a dull way sometimes from
dull things. I have written to her to tell her how much I like the
Witch ; 5 but I don't tell her what I think about her drawing, until
you give me leave. I shall try to find you to-morrow about one, but,
as I see you have scratched out Tuesday, I daresay you may be out.
Never mind. Always yours, J. R.

1 [Alexander Munro, the sculptor ; for whom, see Vol. XIV. p. 119 nJ\

2 From Ruskin, Rossetti, and Pre-Raphaelitism, pp. 79-80.]

3 For Ruskin's notices of his pictures of 1855, see Vol. XIV. pp. 21, 22.]

4 [Camden Church, Peckham Road, where the Rev. Daniel Moore succeeded
(Janon Melvill as incumbent. Ruskin added a chancel to it, with painted windows
and sculptured pillars. The church was much damaged by fire in 1907.]

8 [Possibly an illustration to Rossetti's Sister Helen: see below, p. 236.]



202 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [isss

To DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI l

[May 1855.]

DEAR ROSSETTI, How you must wonder what I am about ! I am
a little tired and shaky have been going to grass, and filing my
teeth for a snarl at Academy. 2 I want you to do me a troublesomish
favour. To come out next Saturday, and sit down, and make out for
me as well as you can what certain colours are that Turner uses, and
how they have been laid on. Come out as early as you can, and lunch.

Meantime, the following is the list of my colours: Emerald-green,
cobalt, smalt, Prussian blue, indigo, pink madder, carmine, Venetian



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