The tenour of Ruskin's letter may be gathered from Browning's in-
teresting reply :
" 19 WARWICK CRESCENT, Jan. 30th, '65. MY DEAR RUSKIN, I got a letter
from the lady the other day there was no need to trouble you on the
subject, or doubt my ready assent to her request. I will go to you, indeed,
though you doubt it, will do so at an early day, and apprise you properly,
for few things will delight me so much. I have always remembered the
sadness in which you were and will long be, and your Mother's too. Give
her my love, as if it did not go to her at a letter's end her kindness and
other kindness from your house, beside your own, came to me once on a
time when I could string such pearls on a necklace and see them work,
and to double advantage so. I have the shawl your mother netted with
her own hands, and mean it, if God please, for my son's wife one day.
" You are wrong, however, to be angry with my poem ; nor do you state
the facts of it my way. I don't expose jugglery, but anatomize the mood
of the juggler, all morbidness of the soul is worth the soul's study; and
the particular sword which f loveth and maketh a lie' is of wide ramification.
elseif (getClientWidth() > 430)
What I present, thus anatomized, would have its use even were there a
veritable ' mediumship ' of which this of mine were but the simulacrum.
But I meant, beside this, to please myself (and I hope, God) by telling
the truth about a miscreant, whom, by one of the directest interventions
of God's finger I seem ever to have recognised, this poem has already been
the means of properly punishing : I know what I say.
" I don't catch the parallel in the other case of the ( dejection ' what
does that simulate ? or in what need exposure ? Then, to me there is no
1 nastiness ' in it at all, the external circumstance, which seems to arrest
your eye, being, when viewed from a higher point, just the consummate
contrivance of utmost ' niceness ' if men were born ' scatophagi,' and the
repellent properties were found all the same, then ' nastiness,' if you like :
as it is, that quality saves them from abomination, and is precious.
" Let me purify your mind by returning to you and what you assure me
of, and what I believe believe me in turn yours ever affectionately and
gratefully, ROBERT BROWNING."
Browning and Ruskin continued occasionally to correspond x and to
see each other; and on Ruskin's last visit to London, he notes with
special pleasure a meeting with his old friend. 2
It was through Coventry Fatmore that Ruskin became personally
acquainted with the other chief poet of his time. Tennyson, as we
have heard, 3 was an early reader of Modern Painters, and in later years
he spoke of Ruskin as one of the six great masters of English prose. 4
Ruskin, on his side, though he preferred Tennyson's earlier to his
later work, was a strong admirer, as numerous passages in his books
and correspondence sufficiently attest. 5 Of the letters to Tennyson
himself, the first, written in 1855, 6 is a general expression of Ruskin's
debt, and contains an invitation to Denmark Hill, to see the Turners,
which Tennyson seems to have accepted. 7 Presently the poet published
Maud, which was received at the time with much hostility and mis-
understanding. This was the occasion of Ruskin's second letter (p. 230).
The third letter, two years later (p. 264), was sent in connexion with
the edition of Tennyson's Poems illustrated by Rossetti and other Pre-
Raphaelite artists. In 1858 Ruskin and Tennyson met sometimes at
Little Holland House, and it was of these occasions that Tennyson
has recorded some remarks by Ruskin. 8 The publication of the Idyls
called forth another, and a very interesting, letter from Ruskin (p. 320).
The two men met occasionally in later years, and may have been at
the Metaphysical Society's meetings together. On one occasion in the
1 See below, p. 481.
2 See Vol. XXXV. p. xxix. 3 Vol. III. p. xxxvii. 4 Ibid., p. xxxviii. n.
5 See below, pp. 157, 224, 326, 327, 349, 570; and the General Index.
6 This has been printed in Vol. V. p. xlvii.
7 For in noticing their meeting in 1858, the poet's son mentions it as
''again": see the Memoir, vol. i. p. 428.
8 See below, p. liii. : and Vol. XIV. p. 119 n.
'seventies Ruskin lunched with the poet, whose son has recorded an
interesting note of their talk :
" Ruskin lunched with us, adorned by his accustomed blue tie, kind and
courteous as ever. He said that his inclination was to devote himself still
to Art, but that he felt it a duty to give the remainder of his life to the
education of the poorer classes. In his opinion 'Everything bad is to be
found in London and other large cities ; and only in life and work in
country fields is there health for body and for mind. 1 My father and
he deprecated in the strongest possible language the proposed Channel
"Before 'Ruskin took his leave, my father said to him: 'Do you know
that most romantic of lyrics ?
' He turned his charger as he spake,
Upon the river shore ;
He gave his bridle-reins a shake,
Said Adieu for evermore,
My Love !
And adieu for evermore.'
' Do I not ? ' said Ruskin. ' I am so glad you like it, Tennyson ; I place
it among the best things ever done by any one.' " 1
Tennyson was interested in some of Ruskin's later literary criticisms.
Like other persons, he did not accept all the obiter dicta, but he
found them suggestive. He was asked by a friend what he thought
of Ruskin's eulogy of Byron in Fiction, Fair and Foul. Ke agreed
with it in ranking Byron's poetry very high. He did not agree about
the particular lines from The Island? After seeing Ruskin's paper,
Tennyson " read The Island through the other night," he said, " but
did not hnd much in it." " The open vowels are good," he added, of
the passage cited by Ruskin, but " I don't know what is meant by
' Alpine azure,' and certainly that about the rivulet falling from the
cliff' being like a goat's eye is very bad." " What did you think of
the article altogether?" "I think Ruskin's remarks on the passage
in Shakespeare very good 3 on the fitness of the placing of the
With Tennyson's friend, Francis Turner Palgrave, an early admirer
1 Memoir, vol. ii. p. 222. The lines are quoted from the Song of the Rover
in the third canto of Rokeby. They were adapted by Scott from the last verse
of a poem by Captain Ogilvie ; a poem of which ;i version is included also in the
works of Burns ("It was a' for our rightfu' King").
* See Vol. XXXIV. p. 333. 3 Vol. XXXIV. pp. 334-337.
4 William Allinyham: a J>iury, edited by H. Allingham and D. Radford, 1907,
p. 300. On another occasion (ibid., p. 326) Tennyson discussed some remarks
on C'oloridge in Ruskin's Element* <>J Prosody (Vol. XXXI. p. 350). He rather
agreed with Ruskin that the lines in question were bad.
of Modern Painters, 1 Ruskin was also acquainted, and a few letters to
him are included in this Collection.
Another poet whose work Ruskin greatly admired, and whose friendly
acquaintance he valued, was James Russell Lowell. His name often
occurs in the Correspondence, and one letter to him is included (p. 326).
" My dear friend and teacher," Ruskin called him in the last volume
of Modern Painters , 2 and Lowell, on his side, in a published address
on the choice of books, hoped " to see the works of Ruskin within
the reach of every artisan among us," adding in another lecture that
Ruskin held "a divining rod of exquisite sensitiveness for the rarer
and more recondite sources of purifying enjoyment as well as for those
more obvious and nearer to the surface." 3 There is a letter from
Lowell to Professor Norton, 4 which refers to some criticisms by Ruskin
on The Cathedral:
"ELMWOOD, Oct. 15, 1870.
" Of course it could not but be very pleasant to me that Ruskin found
something to like in The Cathedral. There is nobody whom I would
rather please, for he is Catholic enough to like both Dante and Scott. I
am glad to find also that the poem sticks. Those who liked it at first like
it still, some of them better than ever, some extravagantly. At any rate it
wrote itself; all of a sudden it was there, and that is something in its favour.
Now Ruskin wants me to go over it with the file. That is just what I did.
I wrote in pencil, then copied it out in ink, and worked over it as I never
worked over anything before. . . . Now for Raskin's criticisms. As to
words, I am something of a purist, though I like best the word that best
says the thing (you know I have studied lingo a little). I am fifty-one years
old, however, and have in some sense won my spurs. I claim the right
now and then to knight a plebeian word for good service in the field. But
it will almost always turn out that it has after all good blood in its veins, and
can prove its claim to be put in the saddle. Rote is a familiar word all
along our seaboard to express that dull and continuous burden of the sea
heard inland before or after a great storm. The root of the word may be
in rumpere, but is more likely in rotare, from the identity of this sea-music
with that of the rote a kind of hurdy-gurdy with which the jongleurs
accompanied their song. It is one of those Elizabethan words which we
New-Englanders have preserved. It occurs in the ' Mirror for Magistrates '
the sea's rote, which Nares, not understanding, would change to rore ! It
1 See Francis Turner Palgrave: His Journals and Memories of his Life, by
Gwenllian F. Palgrave, 1899, p. 36.
2 Vol. VII. p. 451.
3 Quoted in Mr. Norton's Preface (p. vi.) to the American "Brantwood" edition
of Ariadne Florentine,
4 In vol. ii. pp. 73-76 of Letters of James Russell Lowell, edited by C. B. Norton,
is not to be found in any provincial glossary, but I caught it alive at
Beverley and the Isles of Shoals. Like ' mobled queen/ 'tis good.
"Whiff Ruskin calls 'an American elevation of English loose word.'
Not a bit of it. I always thought 'the rvhift' and wind of his fell sword'
in Hamlet rather fine than otherwise. Ben also has the word.
"Down-shod means shod with down. I doubted about this word myself
but I wanted it. As to misgave, the older poets used it as an active
verb, and I have done with it as all poets do with language ray meaning
is clear, and that is the main point. His objection to ' spume-sliding down
the baffled decuman " I do not understand. I think if he will read over
his 'ridiculous Germanism' (p. 13 .very.) with the context, he will see that
he has misunderstood me. (By the way, 'in our life alone doth Nature
live ' is Coleridge's, not Wordsworth's.) I never hesitate to say anything I
have honestly felt because some one may have said it before, for it will
always get a new colour from the new mind, but here I was not saying
the same thing by a great deal. A T z77 in intellectu quod non prius in sensu
would be nearer though not what I meant. Nature (inanimate), which is
the image of the mind, sympathises with all our moods. I would have
numbered the lines as Ruskin suggests, only it looks as if one valued them
too much. That sort of thing should be posthumous. You may do it for
me, my dear Charles, if my poems survive me. Two dropt stitches I must
take up which I notice on looking over what I have written. Ruskin
surely remembers Carlyle's ' whiff of grapeshot.' That is one. The other
is that rote may quite as well be from the Icelandic at hriota = lo snore;
but my studies more and more persuade me that where there is in English
a Teutonic and a Romance root meaning the same thing, the two are apt
to melt into each other, so as to make it hard to say from which our word
Ruskin, as will be seen, was always critical, but nothing is more
pleasing in his literary letters than their magnificent generosity in.
praise. We shall find an instance presently in the case of the early
work of Mr. Swinburne, with whom Ruskin was acquainted, and
whose genius he greatly admired (p. xlix.). Among younger men, he
was drawn by spiritualistic affinities to Frederic Myers. A poet of a
different order to whom Ruskin was warmly attached, and whose work
he sometimes praised with lavish indulgence, was Miss Jean Ingelow.
Several letters to her are included in our Collection, and some of hers
to him have been quoted in connexion with Pratcrlta. 1
Among the English novelists of the day, Dickens was Ruskin's
favourite. There are letters in this Collection in which, after the
novelist's death, Ruskin writes with disappointment of the characteristics
1 Vol. XXXV. p. Ivi. See also Vol. XXXIV. p. 720.
which impaired the good influence of Dickens ; 1 but a reference to
the passages collected in the General Index will show how diligent
and delighted a reader Dickens had in Ruskin, and how highly he
rated the novelist's power. Ruskin used to present some of his books
to him, and doubtless corresponded with him, but at Dickens' death
all letters were destroyed. Ruskin was also on friendly terms with
Thackeray, as we have already seen, 2 and a letter to him is here in-
cluded (p. 351). There are also two letters to Mrs. Harriet Beecher
Stowe, whom Ruskin had met more than once in Switzerland.
It was through Coventry Patmore, as already related, 3 that Ruskin
came into touch with the Pre-Raphaelites in 1851, but it was not
till 1854 that he saw Rossetti. The beginning of the acquaint-
ance, and the generous assistance which Ruskin gave both to Rossetti
and to his future wife, Miss Siddal, have already been described
(Vol. V. pp. xli., xlii.). He agreed to take all Rossetti's work for
which he cared, up to a fixed sum a year ; and for Miss Siddal's
benefit, he made a similar arrangement. " Mr. Ruskin," wrote Rossetti,
" has now settled on her 150 a year ; and is to have all she does
up to that sum." 4 She was in delicate health, and Ruskin asked
Dr. Acland to prescribe for her ; the prescription was a winter abroad,
and Ruskin gave her the means of going. He greatly admired her
power of design, and he was energetic in spreading the praises of both
artists in helpful quarters. The acquaintance soon passed into a
friendship of sincere affection, it would seem, on both sides. Ruskin
was ten years Rossetti's senior ; the one was thirty-five, the other
twenty-five, when they met. But though Ruskin was the patron and
the elder of the two, they associated for several years on the terms
of easy equality essential to real friendship. Letters both to Rossetti
and to Miss Siddal show how careful Ruskin had been to make light
of the financial assistance. He gave, he said, only to please himself;
Rossetti need feel no more sense of obligation than in accepting "a cup
of tea,"" 5 and Miss Siddal was to " be so good as to consider herself
as a beautiful tree or a bit of a Gothic cathedral," which he was
trying to preserve for merely selfish reasons (p. 204). And on Rossetti
the obligation did not weigh. " I had no idea," he once wrote to
Ford Madox Brown, " that you were so monumental a character as
1 See Vol. XXXVII. pp. 7, 10. - Sea Vol. XVII. pp. xxix. n., 143.
3 Vol. XII. p. xlvi.
4 From a letter of May 3, 1855, in D. G. Rossetti : His Family Letters, ivith a
Memoir, vol. ii. p. 137.
5 Vol. V. p. xliv.
to have a banker a dangerous discovery ! " l The Ruskin bank was
also used, and sooner or later generally later Rossetti gave good
value in drawings for consideration received. Ruskin did not hold
Rossetti too closely to the bargain, though he did indeed object
on one occasion when he had offered funds for a sketching-tour in
Wales and Rossetti assumed that the offer would equally hold for
a trip to Paris (p. 226). The arrangement was the best that could
have been devised by a patron for an artist-client. It relieved
Rossetti of pecuniary anxieties, but did not enslave his art. He
accepted the terms the more gladly, because gratitude was accom-
panied both by respect for Ruskin's genius and by a real liking for
the man. " He is the best friend I ever had," he wrote in one of
his Family Letters 2 (1855); and similarly to William Allingham in
the same year: "I have no more valued friend than he, and shall
have much to say of him." 3 "For Ruskin as a man and as a man
of letters Rossetti had," says Mr. Hall Caine, " a profound admiration.
He thought the prose of much of Modern Painters among the finest
in the language, and he used to say that Ruskin's best talking in
private life was often as vivid and impassioned." 4 For one thing,
Ruskin talked Rossetti into their famous co-operation at the Working
Men's College. " Ruskin," wrote Rossetti to Allingham (November 1854),
" has most liberally undertaken a drawing-class, which he attends
every Thursday evening, and he and I had a long confab about plans
for teaching. He is most enthusiastic about it, and has so infected
me that I think of offering an evening weekly for the same purpose/" 5
A few weeks later (January 1855) Rossetti wrote to the same corre-
spondent that his class had begun : " I intend them to draw only from
nature, and some of them, two or three, show unmistakable aptitude
almost all more than one could ever have looked for. Ruskin's class
has progressed astonishingly, and I must try to keep pace with him."'
" It is to be remembered of Rossetti with loving honour," wrote Ruskin
in after years, " that he was the only one of our modern painters who
taught disciples for love of them." " At the College, then, as often at
Denmark Hill or in Rossetti's studio, he and Ruskin met painting
together, taking counsel on art and poetry, discussing books and
men and policies. The letters of each of the men draw an equally
Huskin, Jiossetti, and Pre-Raphaelitism, p. 102. 2 Vol. ii. p. 137.
Letters of .1). G. liossetti to W. AWnyham, 1897, p. 139.
" Some Personal Memories," in the Daily Neu-s, Feb. 3, 1900. See also Mr.
Hall Caine' s My Mory, p. 120.
Letters to H'. Altinyfunn, p. 83.
Una., p. 98. ' Prtfterita, iii. J$ 13 (Vol. XXXV. p. 48fi).
pleasant picture of their friendship. Ruskin assumed the position of
critic and mentor suggesting subjects (p. 200), pointing out defects
(p. 227), deploring the painter's incessant retouchings (p. 199). Rossetti,
on his side, accepted all this for a while in good part, especially as
he took his own way, nevertheless; and Ruskin, here as always in
private intercourse, was as ready to learn as to teach. He begs
Rossetti's assistance in selection of colours (p. 202) ; he asks to be
allowed to come and see him paint (p. 230). Mr. A. P. Elmslie,
who was a student at the Working Men's College in 1856, has given
an anecdote which illustrates the friendly relations of the two art-
teachers there. Rossetti walked round Ruskin's class-room one even-
ing, when the latter was absent. " How's this ? " he said ; " nothing
but blue studies can't any of you see any colour but blue?" "It
was by Mr. Ruskin's directions," one of the students answered.
" Well, where do you get all this Prussian blue from ? " asked Rossetti ;
and then, opening a cupboard, " Well, I declare, here's a packet with
several dozen cakes of this fearful colour. Oh, I can't allow it ; Mr,
Ruskin will spoil everybody's eye for colour I shall confiscate the
whole lot : I must do it, in the interests of his and my pupils. You
must tell him that I've taken them all away." When a few evenings
later Ruskin was told what had happened, he " burst into one of those
boisterous laughs in which he indulged whenever anything very much
amused him." 1 Ruskin's criticisms of Rossetti's methods were con-
veyed in much the same vein of mock-heroics. His letters of reproof
and remonstrance are entertaining, and should be read with an under-
standing of the mutual banter in which the friends were indulging, 2
and of the playful affection with which Ruskin seasoned his familiar
talk. Ruskin said that he must decline to take drawings "after they
have been more than nine times entirely rubbed out." " You are a
conceited monkey," he wrote, " thinking your pictures right when I
tell you positively they are wrong. What do you know about the
matter, I should like to know ? " (p. 272).
Ruskin appears not to have preserved Rossetti's letters to himself,
but letters to other correspondents suggest the kind of way in which
Rossetti paid Ruskin back. Ruskin was for diligence and concentra-
tion ; and to that end proposed to throw Rossetti into prison : " we
will have the cell made nice, airy, cheery, and tidy, and you'll get
1 Memorials of Edward Burne- Jones, vol. i. p. 192. See also Mr. Elmslie's paper,
p. 44, in The Working Men's College, 1854-1904, edited by the Rev. J. Llewelyn
- Mr. A. C. Benson, in his monograph on Rossetti (" English Men of Letters "
Series), p. 32, seems to me to miss this point.
on with your work gloriously " (p. 378). That was all very well, but
Ruskin himself had allowed ten years to interpose between successive
volumes of Modern Painters, "who, I tell him,"" wrote Rossetti, "will
be old masters before the work is ended." 1 Their views on many sub-
jects differed, and Rossetti, we may be sure, never feigned acquiescence.
Sometimes he was frankly bored; as with the first chapter of Unto
this Last, when it appeared in the Cornhttl: "who could read it,"
he wrote to Allingham, "or anything about such bosh?" 2 "Ruskin
I saw the other day," he says again, " and pitched into, he talked
such awful rubbish ; but he is a dear old chap, too, and as soon as he
was gone I wrote my sorrows to him." 3
To Rossetti the poet as to Rossetti the painter, the friendship was
stimulating and helpful. Rossetti had shown Ruskin his translations
from the Italian. Ruskin greatly admired them (p. 214), and gave
the money-guarantee which seems to have been required to secure their
publication. 4 In 1856 Rossetti had published in the Oxford and
Cambridge Magazine his " Burden of Nineveh." Ruskin had no inkling
of the authorship, and wrote to Rossetti " wild to know the author "
of so "glorious" a poem (p. 243). The sequel is told in a letter to
Allingham. " By-the-bye, it was Ruskin made me alter that line in
The Blessed Damozel. I had never meant to show him any of my
versifyings, but he wrote to me one day asking if I knew the author
of Nineveh and could introduce him beinfj really ignorant, as I
C3 */ o
found so after that the flesh was weak. Indeed, I do not know that
it will not end in a volume of mine, one of these days." 5 It appears
that Rossetti showed Ruskin all his poems, then written, and asked
him to submit one or other of them to Thackeray for the Cornhtll
(p. 342). This was not done; but Ruskin's praise mixed with criti-
cism, sometimes accepted by the poet, sometimes rejected as pedantic
encouraged Rossetti, as we see, to prepare a volume of poems for
publication. 7 It was Rossetti who brought Ruskin to an appreciation
of Robert Browning. " On reading Men and Women, and with it
some of the other works which he didn't know before, Ruskin declared
them rebelliously," wrote Rossetti, " to be a mass of conundrums, and
compelled me to sit down before him and lav siege for one whole
1 f>. G. Rossetti: Family Letters, with a Memoir, vol. ii. p. 139.
- Letters to IV. Allingham, p. 228. ~ I hid., p. 269.
4 See Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co.'s letter in h'ossctti Papers, p. 437.
5 Ihid., p. 194.
c On these points, see the note on p. 341, below.
The scheme \\as abandoned upon the death of his wife ; but the manuscript,
buried with her. was exhumed for publication seven years later.
night; the result of which was that he sent me next morning a
bulky letter to be forwarded to B., in which I trust he told him
he was the greatest man since Shakespeare ! " l He did not quite do
that, if we may judge from Browning's reply. 2 In admiration of Mrs-
Browning's poetry, and especially of Aurora Leigh, Ruskin and Rossetti
were at one. 3 Of the poems of Rossetti's sister, Christina, Ruskin was,
when they were first submitted to him in manuscript, severely critical,
as one of our letters shows (p. 354). Rossetti sent it on to his
brother " with very great regret most senseless, I think. I have told
him something of the sort in my answer." 4 When the poems were
published, however whether with or without revision, I cannot tell
Ruskin pronounced them " very, very beautiful." 5
Thus, then, we may picture the two friends together sometimes
agreeing, sometimes agreeing to differ. Ruskin, who, though not prim,
was not Bohemian, found a good deal to put up with, and chide, in the