if I put off' any longer, you should have left Bonn. If you are not
going to leave it, don't answer this and I will write again in a few
days; if you are going to leave it, tell me where I may write to you.
Believe me, gratefully yours, J. RUSKIN.
To CHARLKS ELIOT NORTON 3
[Undated, but May 1857.]
DEAR NORTON, Very good it is of you to write to me again ; and
to think of me before the snowy mountains, in spite of my unsym-
pathising answer to your first letter, and my no answer to your second ;
1 [The fourth baronet. He had written to Raskin thanking him for the third
and fourth volumes of Modern ruintrrx. He had not met Kuskin when this letter
was written, but afterwards became on very friendly terms.]
2 [In its imitation of Hooker: see Vol. XXXV. p. 14.]
* [The greater part of this letter ("I went through so much . . . marble and
of Mud") was printed by Professor Norton in his Introduction to the American
"Brautwood") edition of The Stones of Venice (pp. ix.-xii.) : and the same part
1857] THE TURNER SKETCHES 261
which, nevertheless, I was grateful for. And so you are going to
elseif (getClientWidth() > 430)
Venice, and this letter will, I hope, be read by you by the little
square sliding pane of the gondola window. For I hope you hold to
the true Gondola, with Black Felze, eschewing all French and English
substitutions of pleasure-boat and awning. I have no doubt, one day,
that the gondolas will be white instead of black, at the rate they
carry on their reforms at Venice. . . - 1
Well, I suppose that you will look at my Venetian index in The
Stones of Venice, which is in St. Mark's library, so that I need not
tell you what pictures I should like you to see, so now I will tell
you a little about myself here. First, I am not quite sure I shall be
at home at the middle of June but I shall not be on the Continent.
You will, of course, see the exhibition of Manchester, 2 and if not at
home, I shall be somewhere in the North, and my father and mother
will certainly be at home and know where I am, in case we could
plan a meeting. And I shall leave your vignette 3 in my father's care.
Secondly, you will be glad to hear that the National Gallery people
have entrusted me to frame a hundred Turners at their expense in
my own way ; leaving it wholly in my hands. 4 This has given me
much thought, for had I done the thing at my own cost, I could
have mended it afterward if it had gone wrong in any way ; but
now I must, if possible, get it all perfect at first, or the Trustees
won't be pleased. It will all be done by the time you come. Thirdly,
I have been very well all the winter, and have not overworked in
any way, and I am angry with you for not saying how you are.
Fourthly, my drawing-school 5 goes on nicely, and the Marl borough
House people are fraternizing with me. 6 Fifthly, I have written a nice
little book for beginners in drawing, 7 which I intend to be mightily
was repeated in his Introduction (pp. ix.-xi.) to A Joy for Ever, 1891, where it
is wrongly dated "1859." Another part of the letter ("Mind you leave . . .
quiet walks, now") was printed in the same Introduction (p. ix.). The complete
letter was printed in the Atlantic Monthly, May 1904, vol. 93, pp. 585-587. No. 9
in Norton; vol. i. pp. 32-39.]
1 [The passage here omitted has been cited in Vol. IX. pp. xxvii.-xxix. from
one of Mr. Norton's Prefaces, where, however, the text diifered from his subsequent
publication of the same letter (see Vol. XXXVII. p. 685).]
2 [The "Art Treasures" Exhibition of 1857: see A Joy for Ever, Vol. XVI.
3 [See above, p. 246.]
4 [See Vol. XIII. pp. xxxiii.-xxxiv.]
3 [His class at the Working Men's College : see the Introduction, above,
pp. Iviii. set].']
6 [Marlborough House was at that time occupied by the Department of Science
and Art, and Turner's pictures were placed there for exhibition pending the pro-
vision of a suitable room or rooms for their reception at the National Gallery.]
7 [The Elements of Drawing, published in June 1857 ; Vol. XV.]
262 LETTERS OF RUSKIN Voi, I [1857
useful ; and so that is all my news about myself, but I hope to tell
you more, and hear a great deal more when you come.
My father and mother beg their sincere regards to you. Mine, if
you please, to your mother and sisters when you write.
Please write me a line from Venice, if you are not, as I used to
be, out so late in St. Mark's Place or on the lagoons, that you can't
do anything when you come in. I used to be very fond of night
rowings between Venice and Murano and then the crossing back
through the town nt midnight we used to come out always at the
Bridge of Sighs, because I lived either at Uanieli's or at a house
nearly opposite the Church of the Salute. 1
Well, good-bye, I can't write more to-night, though I want to.
Ever, my dear Norton, affectionately yours, J. RUSKIN.
I was half asleep when I wrote that last page, or I wouldn't have
said anything about night excursions, which aren't good for you. Go
to bed. Moonlight's quite a mistake; it is nothing when you are
used to it. The moon is really very like a silver salver, no, more
like a plated one half worn cut and coppery at the edges. It is of
no use to sit up to see that.
If you know Mr. Brown, please give him my kind love ; and say
I shall have written to him by the time you get this.
Mind you leave yourself time enough for Verona. People always
give too little time to Verona ; it is my dearest place in Italy. If
you are vindictive, and want to take vengeance on me for despising
Rome, write me a letter of abuse of Verona. But be sure to do it
before you have seen it ; you can't afterwards. You have seen it, I
believe, but give it time and quiet walks, now.
To DANTE GABUIEL RossKrn 2
[DKNMAHK HJIJ,. ? June 18.57.]
DEAR ROSSETTI, I don't know when I have been more vexed at
being out of town, as I have been since Saturday ; as Ida's mind and
yours must have been somewhat ill at ease thinking I was vexed, or
something of that kind.
I shall rejoice in Ida's success with her picture, as I shall in every
opportunity of being useful either to you or her. The only feeling
1 [A house which now forms part of the Grand Hotel : see Vol. X. p. xxviii.]
1 [From Rnxkin, Rumtrtti, and Pre-liaphaelitism, pp. 1(57-100.1
1857] A LESSON IN BRICKLAYING 263
I have about the matter is of some shame at having allowed the
arrangement between us to end as it did, and the chief pleasure I
could have about it now would be her simply accepting it as she
would have accepted a glass of water when she was thirsty, and never
thinking of it any more.
As for Thursday, just do as you and your sister and she feel it
pleasant or find it convenient. ... I hope to see you and arrange
to-morrow, if you can be at home about four o'clock. If I don't see
you or hear from you I shall expect you to dinner at two if it be
fine. If Ida can't come, it's no reason why Miss Rossetti shouldn't.
Yours affectionately, J. RUSKIN.
If it would be more convenient to you to put it off a week, or
even till full strawberry time, do. The garden is duller than I
expected just now. I shall be at home these three weeks yet. . . .
To Mrs. JOHN SIMON
OXFORD, 3rd July, 1857.
MY DEAR P.R.S., 1 I wish I had better reason for remembering
Foord's address for you and that you had two pictures to frame
instead of one. But though I could easily have done the Folkestone
for John before I left, I did not feel that I could do it with spirit
or heart : being a little hard and weary with London ; so I wait till
I come back and it shall be done then the first thing. Foord's address
is not his address at all, he being a business fiction altogether, but
Mr. Dickinson, Messrs. Foord, 90 Wardour Street, will do all you
I have got lodgings in a farmhouse in the middle of a field, 2 with
a garden of gooseberries and orange lilies ; and a loose stone wall round
it, all over stone-crop. It is two miles and a half from Oxford, and
I write there here I don't know if it is "here or there" grammati-
cally till half-past twelve every day : then walk into Oxford and dine
with my friend Dr. Acland, and after dinner take a lesson in brick-
laying. 3 He is building a study; and I built a great bit yesterday,
which the bricklayer my tutor in a most provoking manner pulled all
down again. But this bit I have done to-day is to stand. With
best love to John, ever affectionately yours, J. RUSKIN.
1 ["Pre-Raphaelite Sister," or "Sibyl," by which name Ruskin was in the
habit of calling her (Vol. XIII. p. 400 ?i.) ; hence in many of the letters she is
addressed as " S."]
2 [At Cowley, where Ruskiu wrote The Political Economy of Art : see Vol. XVI.
3 [Compare Prceterita, Vol. XXXV. pp. 427-423.]
264 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1857
To Mr. WiLKiNs 1
DENMARK HILI^ July 12th, 1867.
MY DEAR SIR, I have looked over your paintings and sketches
with care, and see that they are carefully studied from Nature. But
you have disabled yourself by your endeavours at permanence. It is
necessary that Art should be first good, then permanent : not perma-
nent without being good. Music perishes in a moment. Painting had
better do so, than prolong its existence in a state of paralysis for
want of materials.
I can give you no ether advice than entirely to give up working
at present with any limitation of means. Use all the colours com-
monly used not grossly fugitive and try if you can do half an inch
from Nature, at all near the standard given you by any good Pre-
Raphaelite work. Perhaps Hughes\s "April Love" in the Exhibition 2
is as good a model as you can have. Once manage a bit of drapery
or foliage so as to be anything near that, and you will get on.
I have seen your pictures put up in the order you wished. I am
sorry you gave yourself the trouble of sending them, or coming for
them, as I told Mrs. Wilkins I would send for them myself. 3 Very
truly yours, J. RUSKIN.
To ALFRED TENNYSON 4
EDINBURGH, July 24th, 1857.
MY DEAR SIR, It is a long time since I have heard from you, and
I do not like the mildew to grow over what little memory you may
have of me.
It is, however, no excuse for writing to say that I wanted to
congratulate you on the last edition of your poems. Indeed it might
be, and I hope will be some day, better managed; still, many of the
plates are very noble things, though not, it seems to me, illustrations
of your poems.
1 [No. 9 in Art and Literature, pp. 49-50.]
2 [That is, in the "Art Treasures Exhibition" at Manchester (No. .572). The
picture had been exhibited in London in the previous year : see Academy Notes,
1856, Vol. XIV. p. 08.]
3 [At the foot of this letter Mr. Wilkins has added the following note: "At
Mr. Kuskin's request 1 sent him some of my Studios from Nature (landscape and
portrait), telling him what faults they had, the originals in Nature had the same.
They were all exhibited afterwards, and the best of them were sold."]
* [From Alfred Lord Tennt/aon : a Memoir by A/.v Son, 15597, vol. i. p. 420. The
subject of the letter is the edition of Tennyson's Poems illustrated by Rossetti,
Millais, Holman Hunt, and others. For another reference to it, see Elements of
Drawing, Vol. XV. p. 2^4.]
1857] ILLUSTRATIONS TO TENNYSON 265
I believe, in fact, that good pictures never can be; they are always
another poem, subordinate but wholly different from the poet's concep-
tion, and serve chiefly to show the reader how variously the same
verses may affect various minds. But these woodcuts will be of much
use in making people think and puzzle a little; art was getting quite
a matter of form in book-illustrations, and it does not so much matter
whether any given vignette is right or not, as whether it contains
thought or not ; still more, whether it contains any kind of plain
facts. If people have no sympathy with St. Agnes, or if people as
soon as they get a distinct idea of a living girl who probably got
scolded for dropping her candle-wax about the convent-stairs, and
caught cold by looking too long out of the window in her bed-
gown, feel no true sympathy with her, they can have no sympathy
But we P.R.B.'s must do better for you than this some day :
meantime I do congratulate you on "The wind is blowing in turret
and tree," 1 and Rossetti's Sir Galahad and Lady of Shalott, and one
or two more.
Please send me a single line to Denmark Hill, Camberwell, and
believe me faithfully yours, J. RUSKIN.
TO J. J. LAING 2
ABERFKLDY, August 27th .
MY DEAR LAING, The " long letter " has been put off from day
to day, not because I could not find time for it, but because I am
not at all sure whether I can say anything at present that will be
of use to you. I have not knowledge enough of individual human
character to be able to give advice except in general terms. I am
very glad to hear that you are in good health, and able to spare
time for designs, etc. You know I have always as far as I considered
myself justified in offering you advice dissuaded you from attempts
of this kind, thinking the time is not come for them : but then they
may be a means of advancing you in your profession, which you ought
not to neglect. On this point I am no judge: and therefore cannot,
as I said, give you any serviceable counsel.
But my advice to you, as far as I feel any power of advising you,
1 [Millais's illustration to "The Sisters" (p. 109). Rossetti's "Sir Galahad" is
at p. 305, his " Lady of Shalott " at p. 67.]
2 [First printed in the Westminster Gazette, 27th August 1894 ; next as No. 4
in Art and Literature, pp. 16-19. Hitherto dated "1854"; but Ruskin was not
in Scotland in that year.]
266 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [is 57
is simply to work for Mr. Woodward, 1 and to use all your powers for
the best service of your employer, not thinking' of any other work but
his. When you have nothing to do for him, and want to do some-
thing, design some ornament for any of his buildings, or practise
drawing from nature, showing him what you have designed : and if he
does not see good to use it, taking no offence. Neither think of my
work, nor of prizes, nor of other situations; but do all you can where
you are, only working so far for yourself as to lose no opportunity
of gaining useful knowledge, or of practising any useful kind of art
bearing on your work for Mr. Woodward. If, after fairly doing this,
you don't think you are getting on with Mr. Woodward, try for some
other position : but while you're staying with him, work for him only.
I shall not accept the office of juryman on any competition. It is
not worth my while to give the time necessary to examine designs
merely that I may give a vote. If ever people trust me to choose
a design wholly, I will take the necessary trouble : not otherwise.
You must, of course, consider all this as written without reference to
the usual ways of advance in the architect's profession. To get repu-
tation and business is, in these days (I am sorry to say), a very
different matter from getting to be a good artist. Of such matters
you must judge for yourself. All that / can judge of is your capacity
for advance in your art, and the best means of doing so : and, so far
as these are concerned, I entirely disapprove of all competitions and of
all designing. I had rather hear you had drawn, or carved, a single
hollyhock bud perfectly, than carried off' all the prizes and got all the
great commissions that are at this moment offered or open in Europe.
I say " of all designing," because you have as yet no materials for
design : but so far as you do design it should be only minor orna-
ments, as I said above, for Mr. Woodward's work. You should also
practise moulding in clay whenever you can. Always yours affection-
ately, J. HUSKIN.
To WILLIAM MICHAEL llossKrri 2
[MANCHESTER, 23 September, 1857.]
DEAR ROSSKTTI, I have a confused notion of having intended to
thank you particularly for those recollections of Turner which you got
from your friend for me, and of having never done it, but I was very
1 [Lniinr, as stated in For* Chiriyera (Vol. XXVII. p. lol), had after a \vliile
left Raskin's employment, and entered other employment that of Mr. Woodward,
the architect (for whom, see Vol. XVI. p. xliv. ).]
2 [From Ruiikin, Hosxetti, mid Pre-liuphnclitiani, pp. I78-17D. "I cannot now
recollect who it was that had given me some information about Turner, which I
1857] A NEW COUNTRY 267
glad of them. It is excessively difficult to get any statement of that
kind fairly put down on paper with a name to it; pray thank your
friend for it very heartily for me, and get me any more such things
you can. You must have thought me very hard not to help you with
American Exhibition ; but I have no knowledge of America, and do
not choose to write one word about things which I know nothing of. 1
I am anxious to hear of Gabriel's doings. I heard a malicious
report the other day from an envious person that "he was going to
Florence and we should hear no more of him." Please write me word
to Post Office, Manchester, what he is about. Ever affectionately yours,
Do you know, my bankers say the account for Mrs. Seddon is only
about 380, or was only, about three weeks ago. There was ^60 in
three 20 subscriptions unpaid, I observed. 2
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 3
PENRITH, CUMBERLAND, 24th September, '57.
DEAR NORTON, I was very thankful to know you had arrived safely,
and without getting any blue put on your wings by that Atlantic,
and I am trying to conceive you as very happy in the neighbourhood
of those rattlesnakes, bears, etc., though it seems to me much the
sort of happiness (compared with ours at home here) that a poor little
chimney-sweeper is enjoying below on the doorstep, to whom I have
just imparted what consolation there is in sixpence for the untoward-
ness of his fate, his master having declared that if " he didna get a
job, he suld stop oot all day." You havo plenty "jobs," of course, in
your fine new country ; but you seem to me, nevertheless, " stopping
out all day." I envy your power of enjoyment, however, and respect
it, and, so far, understand it; for truly it must be a grand thing
to be in a country that one has good hope of, and which is always
imparted to Ruskiii : possibly Mr. F. O. Finch, the water-colour painter, whom
I met two or three times about this date. I met him in connexion with the
American Exhibition, alluded to in the letter i.e., an Exhibition in America of
various pictures of the British School, with a certain bias towards Preeraphaelitism.
This was a scheme for which I had been engaged as Secretary" (W. M. R.).]
1 [Compare the letter to Stillman, above, p. 194.]
2 [On this subject, see Vol. XIV. pp. 465-466 .]
3 [Atlantic Monthly, June 1904, vol. 9,3, pp. 797-799. No. 10 in Norton; vol. i.
pp. 50-55. Parts of the letter (' ' it must be a grand thing . . . Britonship,"
and "Truly, however . . . east, to-day") had previously been printed by Professor
Norton in his Introduction (pp. xii.-xiii.) to the American (" Brantwood") edition
of Munera Pulveris, 1891.]
268 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1857
improving, instead of, as I am, in the position of the wicked man in
one of the old paraphrases my mother used to teach me :
Fixed on his house he leans ; his house
And all its props decay,
He holds it fast ; but, while he holds,
The tottering frame gives way." l
And yet, I shouldn't say that, neither, for in all I am doing, or
trying to do, I assume the infancy of my country, and look forward
to a state of things which everybody mocks at, as ridiculous and un-
popular, and which holds the same relation to our present condition
that the said condition does to aboriginal Britonship. Still, one may
look triumphantly to the advance of one's country from its long clothes
to its jacket and yet grudge the loss of the pretty lace on the baby
caps. Not, by the way, that baby caps ever should have any lace
(vide, passim, my political economy). Truly, however, it does look
like a sunset in the east, to-day ; and my baby may die of croup
before it gets its jacket; but I know what kind of omen it is for
your American art, whatever else may flourish among the rattlesnakes,
that the first studies of nature which I get sent me here by way of
present are of Dead leaves, studies of hectic red 2 and " flying gold
of the ruined woodlands" 3 by a young lady. I have accepted them
gratefully, but send her back word that she had better draw buds
I am just returning through Manchester to London to set to work
on the Turner sketches, which are going finally to be entrusted to me
altogether ; 4 and a pretty piece of work I shall have of them ; pretty,
I hope to make it at last, in the most literal sense.
We have had a wonderfully fine summer, and the harvest of oats
in Scotland is quite as pretty as any vintage, prettier, I think, for
a vintage is a great mess, and I always think it such a pity the grapes
should be squeezed. Much more when it comes to dancing among the
grapes with bare feet, and other such arcana of Bacchanalian craft.
1 [From the paraphrase of .Job viii. 11-22 in the Translations and Paraphrases
collected\and jtreparvd by a Committee of the General Assembly. The third Hue is "He
holds it fast, but faster still."]
* [Shelley : Ode to the West Wind :
" O wild West Wind, them breatli of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
3 [Tennyson : Locksh't/ ////. 1
4 [See Vol. XIII. pp. xxxiii.-xxxiv.]
1857] MRS. BEECHER STOWE 269
Besides there is, so far as I know, no instrument employed on vines,,
either for pruning or cutting, half so graceful or metaphorical as the
sickle. I don't know what they used in Palestine for "the clusters
of the vine of the earth," 1 but as far as I remember vintages, it is
hand work. I have never seen a maize or rice harvest (have you?),
and, for the present, think there is nothing like oats : why 1 should
continue to write it in that pedantic manner I know not; the Scotch
word being "aits" and the English " whuts," the h very mute, and
the u full. It has been such fine weather, too, that all our little
rivers are dried up. You never told me enough about what Americans
feel when first they see one of our " celebrated " rivers ; Yarrow, or
Tweed, or Teviot, or such like; consisting, in all probability, of as
much water as usually is obtained by a mischievous boy from the parish
pump, circling round a small stone with a water-wagtail on it.
I have not often been more surprised than I was by hearing of
Mrs. Stowe 2 at Durham. She had an introduction to the librarian,
of course, and there are very notable manuscripts at Durham, as you
probably know; and the librarian is very proud of them, and was
much annoyed when Mrs. Stowe preferred " going in a boat on the
river." This preference would have seemed, even to me, a great manu-
script hunter, quite justifiable in a novelist; but it puzzled me ta
account for Mrs. Stowe's conceding the title of "River" to the water
at Durham, or conceiving the idea of its floating a boat, seeing that
it must, in relation to an American river, bear much the aspect of
a not very large town drain.
I shall write you again when I get some notion of my work for
winter; I hope in time for the letter to get over the water by the
16th November; I have put it down 16th in my diary; and yet in
my memory it always seemed to me you said the 17th. I can't make
out why. I am very glad that you found all well. Present my sincerest
regards to Mrs. Norton and your sisters. My father and mother unite
in kind and grateful remembrances to yourself. Ever affectionately
yours, J. RUSKIN.
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 3
Gth November, 1857.
DEAR NORTON, It is quite inconceivable how time goes, but I
hope this note will catch the steamer, and reach you not long after
1 [Revelation xiv. 18: "Thrust iu thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters
of the vine of the earth."]
2 [For Ruskiu's acquaintance with Mrs. Beecher Stowe, see below, pp. 321, 337.}
3 [No. 11 in Norton; vol. i. pp. 55-56.]
270 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1857
the 16th. I hope you will have believed that I was thinking of you ;
as I shall be, and that I Jove you, and long to see you here again,
where a birthday is something; in that new country one must feel as
if it was birthday all the year round. But I hope you'll have as
many as if you really cared for them.
My true regards to your mother and sister.