I have your books and thank you deeply for them. What do you
think of my trust in your friendship when I tell you that I haven't
yet read a word ! Ever yours affectionately, J. RUSKIN.
To Mrs. JOHN SIMON
[Nov. 28, 1857.]
MY DEAE S., I just write a line to relieve your mind, and say I
understand all that about the inspiration, and think it helpful and
nice; and I think you are quite right in the main about Turner. But
the odd thing is that there should have been plenty men of irregular
or even wicked lives who could yet draw a pretty face sometimes, or
a handsome one; and besides, they show degradation in all they do
of animals or living creatures, as much at least as in their human
figures. But Turner discerns the most exquisite subtleties of beauty
in a fawn the utmost majesty in an eagle the utmost naivete and
innocence in a donkey and yet never draws one beautiful or even
pretty human face or form. I am so much the more struck with this
at present that I see his hard tries to do it sometimes to paint the
landing of Prince Regents the opening of the Walhalla or the part-
ing of Romeo and Juliet and it seems so ama/ing to me that he
elseif (getClientWidth() > 430)
should be able to paint a fawn rightly, but not an Italian girl and
a pig, but not a Prince Regent and a donkey, but not a German
philosopher. I don't know when I have been so entirely puzzled about
anything I've got the toothache with thinking over it. Ever yours
affectionately, J. RUSKIN.
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON l
DKN.MAHK HILL, 5th December, 18o7.
DEAR NORTON, I am now beginning to be seriously anxious lest
you should not have got either of my letters and if not, what you are
thinking of me by this time I cannot guess kindly and merciful as I
1 [Atlantic Monthly, June 1904, vol. !M, pp. 71)1), 800. No. I "2 in Norton; vol. i.
pp. 5()-. r >8.]
1857] THE TURNER SKETCHES 271
know your judgment always is. I sent you one letter from Manchester,
not a long one, but still a " letter " ; then a " salutation " rather than
letter, posted as I thought very cleverly, so as to get over the water
just in time for your birthday, about ten days afterwards. Just
about then No, it must have been later, perhaps five days after the
16th, I got your letter of the 30th October; but I supposed at all
events my birthday letter would have reached you and explained
matters. My letters were directed Cambridge, near Boston. I knew
nothing of Rhode Island or Newport, 1 nor do I know more now, but
thi^ line must take its chance.
I was delighted with the magazine 2 and all that was in it but I
won't write more just now, for I feel doubtful even of your Rhode
Island address and in despair lest I should never catch you with a
letter in that fearful American Wilderness, from which you will shoot
barbed arrows at me, or poisoned ones of silence. Ever affectionately
yours, J. RUSKIN.
I see you are to stay at Rhode Island some months, so I may risk
a little bit more chat not that I can chat at present, for my head
and hands are full to choking and perpetual slipping through thoughts
and fingers. IVe got all the Turner sketches in the National Gallery
to arrange, 19,000 : of these some 15,000 I had never seen before,
and though most of them quite slight and to other people unintelli-
gible, to me they are all intelligible and weary me by tha quantity
of their telling, hundreds of new questions beyond what they tell
being suggested every hour. Besides this I have to plan frames
measure mount catalogue all with single head and double hands
only : and under the necessity of pleasing other people no less than
of satisfying myself and Fve enough to do. 3 (I didn't know there
was anything graphic on this side of the paper. 4 )
I'm very grateful for your faith in me through all this unhappy
accident of silence. Ever affectionately yours, J. RUSKIX.
What a glorious thing of Lowell's that is 5 but it's too bad to
quiz Pallas, I can stand it about anybody but her.
1 ["I was spending the winter in Newport." C. E. N.]
2 The first number of the Atlantic Monthly that for November.]
3 [For lluskin's account of the condition in which he found these draM'ings,
and of his work on them, see the Preface to vol. v. of Modern Painters (Vol. VII.
p. 415), and Vol. XIII. pp. xxxvi.-xxxvii., 311) seq.']
4 ["Two fragments of drawing." C. E. N.]
5 f ffr rj^ " " "
The Origin of Didactic Poetry," in the Atlantic Monthly for November 1857
(the first number), vol. i. pp. 110-112.]
272 LETTERS OF RUSK1N VOL. I
To DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI l
[DENMARK HILL. ? 1857-]
MY DEAR ROSSETTI, I was put out to-day, as you must have seen,
for I can't hide it when I am vexed. I don't at all like my picture
now; the alteration of the head from the stoop forward to the throw
back makes the whole figure quite stiff and stupid ; besides, the off
cheek is a quarter of a yard too thin.
If there is any one else who would like the picture, let them have
it, and let the debt stand over; but if you would like to have it off
your mind, you must take out the head and put it in as it was at
first, or I never could look at it.
That "Magdalene" 2 is magnificent to my mind, in every possible
way : it stays by me.
I must see Ida ; I want to tell her one or two things about her
way of study. I can't bear to see her missing her mark only by a
few inches, which she might as easily win as not. Ever affectionately
yours, J. RUSKIN.
To DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 3
[DENMARK HILL. ?1857.]
DEAR ROSSETTI, All's quite right. I don't want the money a bit,
and I think your note reads rather sulky in talking about wanting to
send it back. "Stays by me" meant stays in my eyes and head.
But I do wish you could get the "Magdalene" for me. I would give
that oil picture for it willingly, at 50 guineas.
You are a conceited monkey, thinking your pictures right when I
tell you positively they are wrong. What do you know about the
matter, I should like to know ?
You'll find out in six months what an absurdity that " St. Catha-
rine" is. Yours affectionately, J. R.
1 [From Itnxkin, Itosxctti, and Pre-RaphacKtitm, pp. 183-184. The picture referred
to must he the "St. Catharine " (.see above, p. '2'M) an oil-picture (shown at the
Burlington Fine Arts Club in 1883) representing a medieval artist painting from
a lady a full-length picture of St. Catharine, with her wheel.]
J ["Mary Magdalene at the door of Simon the Pharisee" : see above, p. 1(58.]
* [From Jiuskin, Rnsm-tti, and Pre-Raphaelittem, p. 184.]
1857] THE OXFORD UNION 273
To DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI *
[DENMARK HILL. ? 1857.]
DEAR ROSSETTI, You must not take that Turner it has been hawk-
ing about in London this 18 months it is the worst drawing Turner
ever made. I would not give %Q for it, suspecting it even of being
retouched. McCracken 2 ought not to have tried to fasten it on you.
It was quite fair two years ago but not after he had tried to sell it
everywhere and failed.
Don't annoy yourself about anything you owe me but do your
commissions for other people and Llandaff 3 as fast as you can.
Or if you like to do another side of the Union 4 I will consider
that as 70 guineas off my debt : provided there's no absolute nonsense
in it, and the trees are like trees, and the stones like stones.
I hope to see you to-morrow, but write this in case of missing
you. Yours always affectionately, J. RUSKIN.
To WILLIAM MICHAEL ROSSETTI 5
29 Dec., '57.
DEAR ROSSETTI, I'll look to the accounts 6 directly. Miss Swale
and Miss Heaton I have down as received, Marshall I have not; which
surprises and vexes me, as I thought I had been perfectly methodical
in the whole affair. I remember Gabriel's giving me something, and
my giving him a receipt, so I have no doubt your account is right.
Would Mrs. Seddon kindly take the trouble to come to the bank her-
self? I would meet her there, and the whole sum might be at once
transferred into her name. Any day at three o'clock would do for me.
The Roof 7 is and is not satisfactory. Clever but not right. You
know the fact is they're all the least bit crazy, and it's very difficult
to manage them. Yours always truly, J. RUSKIX.
If you use enclosed card, 8 you'll hear me go over a good deal I'va
said before, but I hope more clearly.
1 [From Ruskin, Rossetti, and Pre-Raphaelitism, pp. 191-192.]
2 [For McCracken, see Vol. IV. p. 38, Vol. V. p. xli., Vol. XII. p. xlvii.]
3 A triptych for Llandaff Cathedral ; sketches for it were made in 1856 ; the
work itself was executed 1860-1864.]
4 [The Hall of the Union Debating Society at Oxford : see Vol. XVI. p. xlviii.]
5 [From Ruskin, Rossetti, and Pre-Raphaelitism, pp. 192-193.]
6 [Of the Seddon Memorial Fund : see Vol. XIV. pp. 464-465 n., and above,
7 [Of the Oxford Union Debating Society.]
8 [For the lecture on " Conventional Art," delivered on January 13, 1858 (Two
Paths, Vol. XVI.).]
274 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I
[In the early part of the year Ruskin was still eugaged in sorting the Turner
water-colours at the National Gallery. He also gave several lectures (Vol. XVI.
p. xvii.). He went abroad by himself from May till September (Vol. VII. p. xxviii.).
Many letters to his parents, besides those here given, are printed in those volumes
(see Contents, Vol. VII. pp. xi., xii., Vol. XVI. pp. x., xi.).]
To JOHN SCOTT l
DENMARK HILL, January 3rd, 1858.
DEAR MR. SCOTT, I have been looking at the collier in the plate
Mr. Mackay spoke of, and I do think her jib is too small, but also
this afternoon in Guesses at Truth I met with Coleridge's criticism on
Chantrey's " Wordsworth " : 2 " it's a great deal more like Wordsworth
than Wordsworth himself." So I think of this ship of Turner's. Tell
Mr. Mackay " it's a great deal more like a ship than a ship is itself."-
Always truly yours, J. RUSKIN.
To J. H. LE KEUX S
DEAR LE KEUX, The subjects of the next volume are Trees,
Clouds, Waves, Buildings, Dragons, Moral Sentiments, and things in
general. You shall engrave a dragon or a moral sentiment if you
like : but something, please, for I shall be sadly short of my illustra-
tions in this volume. Yours always most truly, J. RUSKIN.
To F. J. FURNIVALI, 4
DEAR FURNIVALL, I am investigating the coils of the Dragon of
the Hesperides, and the awfulness of Squints and Casts in the eye as
elements of the Sublime.
I can get myself into no other coils, nor squint at any other
subject, at present. Your question, and Brown's letter, require a
1 [No. 11 in Art and Literature, p. 34. The letter was printed in Sotheby's
Sale Catalogue for 28th April 1891', and quoted in the Sunday Sun, April 4, 189]
2 [Chantrey's bust of Wordsworth. The reference is to Guesses at Truth, first
series, j,. 395 (ed. 1847).]
3 [No. 8 in Art and Literature, p. 28 (where it is wrongly dated "1855" and
explained as referring to vol. iii. of Modern Painters). The reference is obviously
to vol. v. For Mr. J. II. Le Keux, see Vol. V. p. Ixii. and Vol. VI. p. xxvii. ; he
engraved four plates for the fifth volume (see Vol. VII. p. xiii.).]
4 [No. 28 in /-'urmmll, pp. 08-69.]
1858] SPURGEON 275
stout quarto volume with notes in answer, and I can't write it just
now. The enclosed two scraps of paper contain verily all / can say,
or mean to say. Let Brown speak for himself. There is much sense
in his letter, and, if given as suggestions, many of the propositions
may be useful. If you try to fix notions yet on such matters you
will get into a fix.
If you look at page 59 of the book I send, Oxford Associate
Examination^ you will find my idea of arrangement of subjects, which
you may refer to if you like; but send me back the book, as I can't
get another. Please don't talk more nonsense than you can help here,
about asking Blackies to tea. I shall never hear the end of your last
attack on Mrs. Edwardes. Ever affectionately yours, J. RUSKIN.
To Mr. and Mrs. BROWNING
24 January .
DEAR MR. AND MRS. BROWNING, I only received your letters yester-
day evening, and am so very sorry you vexed yourselves for a moment
about my letters for I know you care for me, as I do for you, to the
point of full faith that whether we write or not we are not forgetful
of each other, and all that I needed to be assured of was that Casa
Guidi was enough address, and knowing that, I will write whenever
I like, and never question about answers or any other forms; only
indeed I had no letter about Penini 2 from Lucca it must have mis-
carried I heard he had been ill only lately, through Miss Heaton. My
mother rejoices in his getting stronger after eight, which she declares
to be a critical age, and I rejoice in your being teazed out of the rosy
domino. I do think that is a piece of civilization which profoundly
needs recalling; it is so tiresome that one can't meet some people with-
out recognition, it would be delightful to be able to wear masks again.
Now for the questions. First touching Spurgeon. His doctrine is
simply Bunyan's, Baxter's, Calvin's, and John Knox's in many respects
not pleasant to me, but I dare not say that the offence is the doctrine's
and not mine. It is the doctrine of Romish saints and of the Church
of England. Why should we find fault with it specially in Spurgeon
and not in St. Francis or Jeremy Taylor? The "Turn or Burn" is
merely a vulgar modernism of Proverbs i. 23-32, but the vulgarity of it
is the precise character which makes it useful to vulgar people; and
it is certainly better to save them vulgarly than lose them gracefully
1 [Ruskin's letter to Temple on " The Arts as a Branch of Education " : see
now Vol. XVI. p. 449.1
2 [" Penini," " Peni, ' " Pen/' the pet-names of Mr. Robert Wiedemann Browning,
the poet's son.]
276 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [isss
as our polite clergymen do. Evangelicalism (Dissenter's Evangel at
least) is, I confess, rather greasy in the finger; sometimes with train
oil ; but Spurgeon's is olive, with the slightest possible degradation
sometimes in the way of Castor. As for his views of dancing, he
and I agree in them altogether [erased] no, I won't say that, but just
before we say more on the subject look at the enclosed woodcut
from Punch? and be so kind as to compare it with the dance in Simon
Mem mi's no, in whosoever's the last German professor says it is Call
of St. Hanieri 2 in the Campo Santo of Pisa, and tell me your conclu-
Next, for my last little book, 3 I am so glad it has been calumnied
to you (iattd is a nasty, long, useless finish of an ugly word, isn't it ?),
because you really will be pleased when you see what it does say about
Italy. I despatch it to Casa Guidi by this post. I can't write any
more this evening. I'll write again in no time all our loves to you
both. Ever your affectionate J. RUSKIN.
The leaf of Punch will be sent in another letter it might be seen
through this, and stopped.
To WILLIAM WARD*
DENMARK HIIX, January 25th, 1858.
MY DEAR WARD, I will bring a cheque for ten pounds with me to
the college on Thursday which will be due to you from New Year's
Day for six weeks and a bit which please keep account of.
Don't make any appointment for Friday or Saturday, but come to
Marlborough House, 5 as I want to employ you there on some drawings
for me. But call as soon as possible between ten and eleven, morning,
on Mrs. La Touche, 10 Great Cumberland Street. She wishes you to
teach her daughter. 6 Draw the ball with her first then casts. Truly
yours always, J. RUSKIN.
He at Marlborough House next Friday morning, at eleven o'clock
with some pencils, lampblack, and pen, and white paper on small
boards, a foot or so square and wait till I come.
1 [An illustrated skit in Punch of January 16, 1858, on "The Spurgeon Quad-
rilles," "as authorized by the reverend gentleman who has discovered that dancing
is proper, hut that partners heing of opposite sexes is not so."]
2 [For this fresco, see Vol. XXXV. pp. 353-J154, 381).]
' [The Political Economy of Art, published in December 1857 : for its references
to Italy, see Vol. XVI. pp. (>8 seq.}
f"No. 18 in Ward; vol. i. pp. 27-28.]
* [See above, p. 201 n.]
" [Miss Rose La Touche. See Pra-tenta, Vol. XXXV. p. 525.]
A P\(iK KHOM TlHNKK s NoTE-BOOK
'I'n ftii-c p. :'
1858] FROISSART 277
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON l
[February 28, 1858.]
MY DEAR NORTON, Your letter for my birthday and the two little
volumes of Lowell 2 reached me as nearly as possible together the
letter on the ninth of February so truly had you calculated. I know
you will have any patience with me, so here is the last day of the
month, and no thanks sent yet.
To show you a little ... is the machicolation of the tower.
Fancy all this coming upon me in an avalanche all in the most
fearful disorder and you will understand that I really can hardly
understand anything else, or think about anything else.
Thank you, however, at least for all that I can't think about.
Certainly I can't write anything just now for the magazine. 3 Thank
you for your notice of my mistake about freiio in Dante 4 I have no
doubt of your being quite right. . . .
I've been reading Froissart lately, and certainly, if we ever advance
as much from our own times as we have advanced from those of
Edward III., we shall have a very pretty free country of it. Chivalry,
in Froissart, really seems to consist chiefly in burning of towns and
murdering women and children.
Well no more at present from as our English clowns say at
the ends of their letters. I assure you this is a longer letter than
IVe written to anybody this four months. Sincerest regards to your
mother and sisters. Ever affectionately yours, J. RusKiN. 5
1 [Atlantic Monthly, June 1904, vol. 93, p. 800. No. 13 in Norton, vol. i.
pp. 59-62. Part of the letter ("To show you . . . machicolation of the tower")
is not here reprinted, as it has already been given in Vol. XIII. pp. 324-325 n.
The passage describes some of Turner's sketch-books in the National Gallery, and
was accompanied by facsimiles. One of these (previously published by Mr. Norton)
has been reproduced in Vol. XIII. ; others, first published in Norton, are here
2 [The Poetical Works of James R. Lowell, complete in two volumes (12mo) :
Boston, Ticknor & Fields, 1858. The frontispiece to vol. i. is a portrait of
the author ; vol. ii. contains A Fable for Critics, with a new preface (see below,
3 [The Atlantic Monthly.]
4 [So in Norton, but without explanation, and the Editors are unaware of any
passage in Ruskin to which it can refer. Perhaps freno is a misprint for bruno,
in which case see Vol. V. p. 300 and n.]
6 [Ruskin went abroad shortly after the date of his last letter to Professor
Norton, whose next letter was from Ruskin's father :
"LONDON, 31 May, 1858. MY DEAR SIR, Being authorized to open Letters
addressed to my Son Mr. J. Ruskin during his absence (a privilege not always
accorded to Fathers), I have had the pleasure of perusing your Letter of 17 May,
and a part of it requiring immediate reply will account for my intruding my
Correspondence upon you.
" I beg of you to detain the Drawing of the Block of Gneiss, being quite certain
278 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1858
TO J. J. LAINO 1
2nd March, 1858.
DKAR LAIXG, Write immediately to and say that you cannot
stay in your present position unless your salary is paid regularly. If
he is offended, you may come to me. I never intended you to take
my place when the salary was not a settled matter. Leave it instantly,
unless it is paid, and stipulate for a regular sum, not one dependent
on work, or come to me.
Only if you do so at your old salary you must observe the
following conditions :
1st. You must now work for me only, and put all other matters
out of your head. If you think you are not getting on with me,
my son would so wish. He will tell you himself when he wants it your Letter
will go to him to-morrow, at Lucerne.
"He has spent seven months, nearly, in reducing to something of Order a Chaos
of 19,000 Drawings and Sketches by Turner, now National property getting
mounted or framed a few hundred of such Drawings as he considered might be
useful or interesting to young Artists or the public. These are at Marlborough
House, and he is gone to make his own Sketches of any Buildings aLout the
Rhine or Switzerland or north of Italy in danger of falling or of being restored.
His seven-months work, though a work of Love, was still work, and though sorry
to have him away I was glad to get him away to fields and pastures new. It may
be the end of October before he returns D. V. to London. I conclude you have
seen his Notes on Exhibitions, or I would send one. The public seem to take
more interest in the Pictures as Artists take more pains. It is long since I have
bought a Picture (my Son going sufficiently deep into the Luxury), but I was
tempted by 3 Small ones at the first glance, Plassan's Music Lesson, French E.rhn. ;
Lewis's Inmate of the Harem, ' Rl. Academy, Lewis's Lilies & Roses, Constantinople,
Rl. Ac'y. I did not tell my Son I had bought the first till his Notes were printed
not that it could bias him, but it might have cramped his Critique. When his
Notes were out I told him the picture was his, and I was e:lad he had spoken,
nay written, so well of it [see Vol. XIV. p. 1.59]. As the Timcx calls the Inmate
of the Harem a Masterpiece of Masterpieces, and the Spectator stiles it a marvelous
Gem, it is a pretty safe purchase. I had it at home before the public saw it.
I forward to my Son your Photograph of the Giorgione, and I cut out and
send Stillman's Lecture, as the present Post Master of France, Nap'n 3rd, is not
to be trusted with a newspaper. You are fortunate in possessing a picture of
Gainsborough neither spot nor blot of him ever appear for sale here.
"If I have used a freedom in my mode of addressing you at the commence-
ment of this Letter, you have yourself occasioned it. In the too few visits you
made to us here you almost endeared yourself to Mrs. Ruskin and me as you had
already done to my Son. We beg to offer our united Regards and best wishes for
your Health. I am, my dear Sir, yours very truly, JOHN JAMKS RrsKi.v.
" Will you present our Kind Remembrances to your Mother and Sisters. I
send a copy of Notrx to make sure."
This letter was printed in the Atlantic Afonthly, June 1904, vol. 93, pp. 800-801 ;
and as No. 14 in Norton, vol. i. pp. 02-65.]
'["Some Ruskin Letters," in the English Il/nxt rated Miiytizinr, August 1893,
p. 782. Laing, it will be seen, was now proposing to return to Ruskiii'a employment.]
2nd. You must do what I bid you, about not working at late
hours. I was more displeased by your disobeying my positive orders
on this point, given you before you went to Chartres, than pleased
by all the work you did. Understand, once for all, I will not have
this done. You may think I have no right to dictate to you in this
matter, but your ill-health gives me trouble and anxiety, and unless
you choose to let me regulate your hours of work, I will not have you
working for me.
3rd. You are not to come to me with new plans once a fortnight,
or with speculations about your not getting on. I have no time for
that kind of thing. You shall be at liberty to leave me whenever
you like, but don't talk about it until you intend doing it.
I would rather for the present year you stayed with at a
fixed salary, but you may come to me whenever you like on these
terms. I send the thing, and remain yours affectionately,
To Mr. and Mrs. BROWNING
Monday, 29th March .
DEAR MR. AND MRS. BROWNING, You are the only husband and wife
whom I write single letters to this way, but I never think of you two
separately never of one without the other: I like getting those nice
double letters too l a bit of white and brown like a blackcock's breast.
Only, dear lady, this time you are the least bit in the world too
white, more innocent and feminine in your defence of flounces than
you ought to be Aurora would really have put her cousin all out in
his plans if she had been such a bad political economist. Think it
over again. I assure you, as Albert Diirer did his friend of his picture, 2
my book is all right, in its principles. How far its proposals are
right is questionable, but its principles are every one mathematically
demonstrable (or arithmetically, which is as strong, if not as grand,
I've just come back from Spurgeon's 3 he is a little bit emptier
than he was at first : he ought to be shut up with some books or
sent out into the fields. And touching that great question you put to