plished science, or better deserved success.)
In another case, the bonnet was overwhelmed by the circular orb
of the dark hair in front of it: but I have been haunted by a sorrow-
ful suspicion, all yesterday afternoon and this morning (Monday), that
the said noble orb of darkness was fastened over a cushion ; it is the
wickedest thing that ladies do, to extend their chevelure in this hollow
manner, for it is not fair to the women who have the mass of hair
naturally. If a woman paints, it is quite fair everybody knows paint
from blushes but the extended tresses (much more, and dreadful to
think of, the false tresses among true) are an unfair appropriation
290 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1858
LANSLEBOURG, l*t Sept., '58.
I don't think women were in general meant to reason. I never
knew but one rational woman in my life, and that is my own mother
(when one doesn't talk about actors or Mr. Gladstone, or anybody she
has taken an antipathy to). . . . For the Imaginative side there is more
to be said. The great painters evidently have all their ideas so com-
elseif (getClientWidth() > 430)
pletely "imaged" before they begin that they would paint you the
grief of the people they have put into their picture from the other
side, if you wanted it.
To his FATHER
Sunday Evening, PARIS, 12th September, 1858.
I never was present at so disgraceful an English service as this
morning. Rue d'Aguesseau is shut up, and the church was a school
for gymnastics, with all the ropes and poles swinging among the chairs,
and a tattered canvas covering over the broken glass of the roof. The
sermon worse than the church, utterly abominable and sickening in its
badness. I went away straight to the Louvre, and found it worse
arranged than ever, and the great Paul Veronese 2 (which I thought
more of than ever) with its varnish chilled and in a shocking state.
Came back through Tuileries a wonderful view, it being a quite cloud-
less day, with exquisite quietness of air, yet not sultry; all Paris under
fourteen years old was in the gardens, and a good deal of old Paris
besides, and I am amazed to find that the Parisians will not for a
moment bear comparison with the Turinoises.
I can only explain to you the difference by the fact that the Turi-
noises always reminded me of Titian at their best, and of Sir Peter
Lely at their worst: but these Paris women remind me of no one but
Chalon. 3 There is a terrible and strange hardness into which the tin-
amiable ones settle as they grow old. An Italian woman, at the worst,
degrades herself into an animal ; but the French woman degrades her-
self into a Doll; the gardens looked to me as if they were full of
automata or waxworks. So with the men the sexagenarians for the
1 [This extract is No. 158 in Sotheby's Sale Catalogue, February 26, 1906. The
word "grief" in the last line but one must be a misprint; perhaps for "chief."
For other letters to the same correspondent, see below, pp. 312, 424, and Vol. XXXVII.
p. 732. In one of those at the latter place, Ruskin calls her "My dear ward."
She was a friend of Ruskin and his father (see below, p. 436), and she drew
under Ruskin's instructions, but was not his "ward" in any other sense.]
2 [Kither the " Wedding Feast at Cana " or the " Dinner at Simon the Pharisee's " :
see Vol. XII. p. 44!).]
1 [See above, p. 174.]
1858] A CHILD OF ITALY 291
most part have a quite cruel and heartless expression without the least
grandeur; an Italian, however ferocious or sensual, always looks like
a man, or like a beast ; but these French look like nutmeg-graters they
don't make tigers, or snakes, or sloths of themselves, but thumbscrews.
The children, of course, always pretty, but spoiled by over-dressing;
even the poorest get themselves up with little short petticoats and caps,
and boots, and all sorts of artificial ness. In Italy one constantly sees
a wild, graceful, confessed poverty, without abject misery; but here,
there is no interval between starvation and toilette. One of the finest
things I saw at Turin was a group of neglected children at play on a
heap of sand 1 one girl of about ten, with her black hair over her
eyes and half naked, bare-limbed to above the knees, and beautifully
limbed, lying on the sand like a snake; an older one did something to
offend her, and she rose with a spring and a shriek like a young eaglet's
as loud as an eaglet's at least, but a good deal sweeter, for eagles have
riot pleasant voices. The same girl, here, in the same station of life,
would have had her hair combed and plaited into two little horns on
each side of her head would have had a parasol and pink boots, and
would have merely pouted at her companion instead of shrieking at
her. I don't, of course, think it proper for girls to lie bare-legged
on heaps of sand, or to shriek when they are displeased ; but it is
picturesque, if not pleasing, and I think also, something better than
a picture might have been made of the little Italian eaglet, if any-
body had taken her in hand : but nothing whatever of the parasoled
and pink-booted children.
I walked after dinner to Notre Dame (now utterly destroyed I
went merely to make sure of that fact) and so back to see sunset
from the fountains of the Place de la Concorde, which were beautiful
beyond description in the golden twilight.
I can't tell till to-morrow at Calais about the boats or trains, but
will telegraph to you by which train I come. I left Geneva at six
o'clock yesterday morning, dined at Tonnerre, and arrived here comfort-
ably at ten minutes past nine.
And thus, I hope, terminates my diary for the year 1858, except
my small notes of weather and work which I keep at home.
To ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING
[DENMARK HILL] October 14th, 1858.
DEAR MRS. BROWNING, You must, of course, be quite sure by this
time that something has been the matter with me. Well, it is quite
1 [The scene is described in The Cestus of Aglaia (Vol. XIX. p. 82).]
292 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [IBS*
true. I have had cloud upon me this year, and don't quite know the
meaning of it ; only I've had no heart to write to anybody. I suppose
the real gist of it is that next year I shall be forty, 1 and begin to
see what life and the world mean, seen from the middle of them
and the middle inclining to the dustward end. I believe there is some-
thing owing to the violent reaction often after the excitement of the
arrangement of Turner's sketches ; " something to my ascertaining in
the course of that work how the old man's soul had been gradually
crushed within him, leaving him at the close of his life weak, sinful,
desolate nothing but his generosity and kindness of heart left ; some-
thing to my having enjoyed too much of lovely things, till they almost
cease to be lovely to me, and because I have no monotonous or dis-
agreeable work by way of foil to them ; but, however it may be, I am
not able to .vrite as I used to do, nor to feel, and can only make up
my mind to the state as one that has to be gone through, and from
which I hope some day to come out on the other side.
The year stole away without my knowing how ; nevertheless, I
went to the north of Switzerland to sketch Habsburg, Konigsfeld,
Morgarten, and Griitli. None of them, I'm sorry to say, much worth
drawing. Habsburg has only a window or two and a rent or two of
old wall left; Morgarten is beside the ugliest and dullest lake in all
Switzerland. I went on to Bellinzona and stayed there long six weeks
but got tired of the hills and began to think life in the City Square
was the real thing. Away I went to Turin ! of all places found
drums and fifes, operas and Paul Veroneses, stayed another six weeks,
and got a little better, and I begin to think nobody can be a great
painter who isn't rather wicked in a noble sort of way.
I merely write this, not by way of a letter, but just that you may
know there is something the matter with me, and that it isn't that
I don't think of you nor love you.
Don't answer this till I send you another; 3 perhaps I shall be in a
better humour. I had nearly come to see you at Havre, but couldn't.
They wanted me so much at home after I had been four months away.
Ever affectionately Robert's and yours, J. RUSKIN.
1 [On "8 February 18.59," says Mr. AV. M. Ilossetti, "I was asked by Ruskin
to meet him at Long's Hotel iu Bond Street, share his dinner there, and go on
to the National Gallery. As we were leaving the hotel, he said to me, 'To-day
1 am forty years old : how much time gone, and how much work demanding to
be done!'" (Xnme Keminiscencex, HMHj, vol. i. p. 181). 1
' [Compare what Ruskin says on this subject in Vol. VII. p. .5.]
3 [Hut the other was long delayed, as Mrs. Browning complained in her reply
of January 1, 18-V.t : see the Letter* of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, vol. ii. p. )9.J
1858] THE SENSE OF REACTION 293
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON l
DENMARK HILL, 24A October, '58.
DEAR NORTON, At last I begin to write letters again. I have been
tired, ill, almost, and much out of heart during the summer ; not fit
to write to you, perhaps chiefly owing to the reaction from the intense
excitement of the Turner work ; partly because at 39 one begins to
feel a life of sensation rather too much for one. I believe I want
either to take up mathematics for a couple of years, or to go into my
father's counting-house and sell sherry for the same time for other-
wise, there seems to me a chance of my getting into a perfect Dryasdust.
I actually found the top of St. Gothard "dull" this year. Besides
this feeling of weariness, I have more tiresome interruption than I can
bear; questions begging for opinions on pictures, etc. all which I
must put a stop to, but don't yet see my way clearly to the desired
result; the upshot of the matter being that I am getting every day
more cold and sulky and dislike writing letters even to my best
friends ; I merely send this because I want to know how you are.
I went away to Switzerland this year the moment Academy was
over; and examined with a view to history Habsburg, Zug, Morgarten,
Griitli, Altdorf, Biirglen, and Bellinzona sketching a little, but gener-
ally disgusted by finding all traditions about buildings and places un-
traceable to any good foundation; the field of Morgarten excepted,
which is clear enough. Tell's birthplace, Biirglen, is very beautiful.
But somehow, I tired of the hills for the first time in my life, and
went away where do you think ? to Turin, where I studied Paul
Veronese in the morning and went to the opera at night for six weeks !
And I've found out a good deal more than I can put in a letter
in that six weeks, the main thing in the way of discovery being that,
positively, to be a first-rate painter you mustn't be pious; but rather
a little wicked, and entirely a man of the world. I had been inclining
to this opinion for some years ; but I clinched it at Turin.
Then from Turin I came nearly straight home, walking over the
Cenis, and paying a forenoon visit to my friends at Chamouni, walking
over the Forclaz to them from St. Gervais and back by the road
and I think I enjoyed that day as if it had been a concentrated month :
but yet the mountains are not what they were to me. A curious
mathematical question keeps whispering itself to me every now and
then, Why is ground at an angle of 40, anything better than "round
1 [Atlantic Monthly, June TJ04, vol. 93, pp. 801-802. No. 15 in Norton, vol. i.
294 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [ISSB
at an angle of 30 or of 20 or of 10 or of nothing at all? It i*
but ground, after all.
Apropos of St. Gervais and St. Martin's you may keep that block
of gneiss altogether if you like it; I wish the trees had been either
in the sky, or out of it. 1
Please a line to say how you are. Kindest regards to your Mother
and Sisters. My Father and Mother are well and beg kindest regards
I have written your initials and mine in the two volumes of Lowell 2
(how delightful the new prefaces to the Fable /). He does me more
good in my dull fits than anybody, and makes me hopeful again. What
a beautiful face he has ! Ever affectionately yours, J. RUSKIX.
To J. J. LAIXG S
DEAR LAIKG, I am much pleased with all your letters, and all
shall be done as you wish. The money will come to-morrow. I was
not surprised at your account, but I had not had time to turn round
since I got to London.
One sentence surprised me your saying " Don't think I want to
equal you." Why should not I think this? Do you really suppose
Jthat I want to keep you back ? I have many faults sensuality,
covetousness, laziness lots of things I could tell you of but God
knows, and I take Him solemnly to witness thereto this day, that
if I could make you, or any one, greater than myself in any way
whatever, I would do so instantly, and my only vexation with my
pupils is when I can't get them to do what I think good for them ;
my chief joy, when they do great things. Truly yours, J. R.
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 4
[DENMARK HILL] 2Qth November .
DEAR NORTON', I'm so intensely obliged to you for your letter and
consolations about Paolo Veronese and Titian, and Turner and Cor-
reggio and Tintoretto. Paolo and Titian are much deeper, however,
1 [See above, p. 277- "Some trees originally painted agninst the sky had been
practically washed out, leaving only traces" (C. . N.). The drawing is here repro-
duced (Plate XVII.).]
' [See above, p. 277.]
J ["Some lluskin Letters," in the English Illustrated Magazine, August 1893,
4 [Atlantic Monthly, June 1904, vol. 93, pp. 802-803 (the postscript was omitted).
No. 1C in Xorton ; vol. i. pp. 72-7-x]
1858] VERONESE'S "QUEEN OF SHEBA" 295
than you know yet, immensely deeper than I had the least idea
of till last summer. Paolo's as full of mischief as an egg's full of
meat always up to some dodge or other just like Tintoretto. In
his Solomon receiving Queen of Sheba, one of the golden lions of
the Throne is put into full light, and a falconer underneath holds a
white falcon, as white as snow, just under the lion, so as to carry
Solomon on the lion and eagle, and one of the elders has got a
jewel in his hand with \vhich he is pointing to Solomon, of the form
of a cross; the Queen's fainting, but her dog isn't, a little King
Charles spaniel, about seven inches high, thinks it shocking his
mistress should faint, stands in front of her on all his four legs apart,
snarling at Solomon with all his might; Solomon all but drops his
sceptre, stooping forward eagerly to get the Queen helped up such
a beautiful fellow, all crisped golden short hair over his head and
the fine Arabian arched brow and I believe after all you'll find the
subtlest and grandest expression going is hidden under the gold and
purple of those vagabonds of Venetians. 1
Yes, I should have been the better of you a good deal. I can
get on splendidly by myself if I can work or walk all day long
but I couldn't work, and got low because I couldn't.
I can't write more to-day but I thought you'd like this better
I'm better now, a little, but doubtful and puzzled about many
things. Lowell does me more good than anybody, what between en-
couraging me and making me laugh. Mr. Knott 2 makes me laugh
more than anything I know in the world the punning is so rapid
and rich, there's nothing near it but Hood, and Hood is so awful
under his fun that one never can laucHh. 3
Questl poverl what are we to do with them ? You don't mean to
ask me that seriously? Make pets of them, to be sure they were
sent to be our dolls, like the little girls' wax ones only we can't pet
them until we get good floggings for some people, as well. Always
yours affectionately, J. RUSKIX.
Good of you to send me that birthday letter. I'm so glad you
1 [For other descriptions of Veronese's "Queen of Sheba" at Turin, see Vol. VII.
pp. 293-294; and Vol. XVI. pp. xxxvii.-xl., 185-186. A reproduction of the picture
is Plate III. in the latter volume (p. 186).]
! ["Lowell's rollicking poem, 'The Unhappy Lot of Mr. Knott.'" C. E. N.]
3 [For Ruskin's view of Hood's "exquisite puns," see Fors C'lavigera, Letter 82
(Vol. XXIX. p. 223).]
296 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [isss
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON l
DKNMARK HILL, 28th December) 18.58.
DEAR NORTON*, I am sadly afraid you have not got my answer to
your kind letter written on your birthday. The answer was short,
but instant ; and you must rightly have thought me unfeeling when
you received none it is doubly kind of you to send me this poem of
Lowell's and your good wishes.
Indeed, I rather want good wishes just now, for I am tormented
by what I cannot get said, nor done. I want to get all the Titians,
Tintorets, Paul Veroneses, Turners, and Sir Joshuas in the world into
one great fireproof Gothic gallery of marble and serpentine. I want
to get them all perfectly engraved. I want to go and draw all the
subjects of Turner's 19,000 sketches in Switzerland and Italy, elabo-
rated by myself. I want to get everybody a dinner who hasn't got
one. I want to macadamize some new roads to Heaven with broken
fools'-heads. I want to hang up some knaves out of the way, not
that I've any dislike to them, but I think it would be wholesome for
them, and for other people, and that they would make good crows'
meat. I want to play all day long and arrange my cabinet of
minerals with new white wool. I want somebody to amuse me when
I'm tired. I want Turner's pictures not to fade. I want to be able to
draw clouds, and to understand how they go, and I can't make them
stand still, nor understand them they all go sideways, TrAayuu 2
(what a fellow that Aristophanes was ! and yet to be always in the
wrong in the main, except in his love for yEschylus and the country.
Did ever a worthy man do so much mischief on the face of the
Earth?) Farther, I want to make the Italians industrious, the Ameri-
cans quiet, the Swiss romantic, the Roman Catholics rational, and the
English Parliament honest and I can't do anything and don't under-
stand what I was born for. I get melancholy overeat invself, over-
sleep myself get pains in the back don't know what to do in any
wise. What with that infernal invention of steam, and gunpowder,
I think the fools may be a puff or barrel or two too many for us.
Nevertheless, the gunpowder has been doing some work in China
1 [Atlantic Monthly, June 1904, vol. 93, pp. 803-804. No. 17 in Norton ; vol. i.
2 [Cloudt, 325. See the Preface to the second edition of Modern Painters,
vol. i., where Ru*kin quotes and comments upon the passage (Vol. III. p. -<>
1859] LOWELL'S "GODMINSTER" 297
Meantime, thank you for Lowell. 1 It is very beautiful, but not, I
think, up to his work. Don't let him turn out any but perfect work
(except in fun). I don't quite understand this. Where is " God-
minster"? How many hostile forms of prayer are in the bells of the
place that woke him ? or where was it ? " Ointment from her eyes "
is fine, read in the temper it was written in; but the first touch of
it on the ear is disagreeable too much of " eyesalve " in the notion.
I've ordered all IVe been writing lately to be sent to you in a
parcel. Thank you always for what you send me. Our sincerest
regards to you all. Ever affectionately yours, J. RUSKIN.
P./S. I want also to give lectures in all the manufacturing towns,
and to write an essay on poetry, and to teach some masters of schools
to draw; and I want to be perfectly quiet and undisturbed and not
to think, and to draw, myself, all day long, till I can draw better ; and
I want to make a dear High Church friend of mine sit under Mr.
[In the early part of this year, Ruskin gave lectures afterwards published in
The Two Paths. Letters to his father of that time are printed in Vol. VII.
pp. xlvii.-xlix., and Vol. XVI. pp. Ixi.-lxv. He then went abroad with his parents,
studying the German pictures among other things. Letters to Clarkson Stanfield
giving his impressions of them are printed in Vol. VII. pp. li.-liv. Returning home
at the end of September, he settled down to finish the last volume of Modern
To Dr. CHAMBERS 3
3rd January, 1859.
MT DEAR CHAMBERS, As I said in my note yesterday, what I am
going to suggest to you here will be nothing more than would have
1 [His poem of " Godminster Chimes." The verses Ruskin refers to are :
" Whilst thus I dream, the bells clash out
Upon the Sabbath air ;
Each seems a hostile faith to shout,
A selfish form of prayer.
One Mary bathes the blessed feet
With ointment from her eyes,
With spikenard one, and both are sweet,
For both are sacrifice."]
2 [For Ruskin's regard for Mr. Spurgeon, see Vol. XXXIV. pp. 659-G61. A
copy of the fourth volume of Modern Painters bears the autograph inscription,
"The Revd. C. H. Spurgeon, with the author's sincerest regards. February 1857"
(Quaritch's Catalogue, No. 252, 1906).]
3 [Dr. Chambers had been selected as physician to accompany the Prince of
Wales (his present Majesty), with Colonel Bruce, Captain Grey, and the Rev. C.
298 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1859
been, I doubt not, suggested to you as clearly by your own reflec-
tions; and I only put it down in order to give you more confidence
in the truth of the conclusions which you will see are substantially
the same whatever side of the subject an earnest man approaches it
upon vours, the scientific, and mine, the aesthetic.
Of course the first thing one has to urge on a young Prince is in
this as in all other matters, that he should think for himself. Not,
that is, take up an opinion carelessly, and maintain it positively,
because it is his, but that he should himself do the hard and painful
work of making the thought really his own, and for himself testing
its truth. A King is, of course, exposed to all kinds of efforts to
deceive him ; the interest in obtaining his approval is so great that
all mean persons are for ever striving to blind him to the merits of
others and recommend their own impartial teaching is a thing almost
impossible in his case. I am myself rough and bold enough in general
in what I say, but I never would say so hard a thing of a living artist
in the Prince's hearing as I would say in the hearing of a person of
small power ; so that the honestest men are influenced and warped by
his rank, and the dishonest men put to their skilfuliest pinches. Above
all, therefore, let him be taught to ask of himself sternly, "Is this so
indeed? Do I personally and for myself judge that it is j>o?" You
must struggle, therefore, to get his mind to act as freely as possible,
never, so far as you have power, to let him admire a picture because
it has fame ; if possible, let him judge of it before knowing its master.
Never tell him whom a picture is by, till he has guessed ; this I mean
in the ordinary course of guidebook study. The study of art may be
made far more amusing as well as more useful by such methods. When-
ever you know that a picture or statue is a celebrated one, be unhesi-
tating in setting him the example of unbiassed judgment. Think of
it exactly as if it were just done by a young painter or sculptor, and
criticise it as boldly. I am entirely convinced that as a well-founded
reverence is the most precious of all the results which the study of
art produces on the human mind, so an ill-founded reverence that is
to say, a reverence founded on public opinion, instead of your own
perception of the goodness of the thing is the most harmful of all
obstacles to the attainment of real knowledge. Public opinion should
be respected always so far as to give the most diligent study to what
it has declared to be admirable. Hut let your study be honest as
Tarver, on a visit to Italy. The Prince, it was announced (Times, January 4,
1850), was to pursue his studies there for five months ; he went to Home, but owiii
to the outbreak of war in Italy, returned home quickly (see Sir. T. Martin's Life
of the Prince Consort, vol. iv. p. 4J54).]
1859] THE EDUCATION OF A PRINCE 299
well as diligent, and if at the end of it you don't like the thing, be
sure to declare this fact boldly to yourself and others; if you, as a
man of science, can detect an anatomical fault in a chef d'ceuvre, mind
and declare it; don't be deterred by fear of being thought narrow-
minded. By the way, however, note that an anatomical fault is only
rightly condemned when it is a fault of representation, not of omission.
You must not find fault with Titian if he conceals a muscle which is
generally visible. But you may find fault with even Michael Angelo