if he shows a muscle which ought to be invisible. The omission may
be a noble sacrifice. The insertion is either an error or an imper-
tinence, and must have been induced either by ignorance or vanity.
Secondly, a King is peculiarly exposed to delight in and encourage
art as a means of luxury or pride to like it for its state and glitter.
Therefore one of the chief results of your travels in Italy ought to
be to convince the Prince of Wales that the ruin of that country,
and nearly of all other countries which have ever been notably ruined,
has been in great part brought about by their refinements of art
applied in luxurious and proud office ; that Emperors, Kings, Doges,
and republics have risen and reigned by simplicity of life; fallen and
perished by luxury of life. Be assured that all the arts, followed in
wantonness, and for show and state, lead straight to destruction. You
will not want for proofs of it, as you wander in Italy. Then, having
convinced the Prince thoroughly of this first great fact, you have
further to show him that art as a means cf Knowledge, as a stimulus
to noble emotion, and as a source of national wealth is of the very
elseif (getClientWidth() > 430)
highest importance among the instruments in a Prince's hands for the
good of the nation he governs; and lead him to look upon it in
general as a dangerous but noble and mighty Influence, infinitely dan-
gerous if abused, infinitely useful and exalting if set to its right work.
Holding these two great principles always in view, you may find end-
less interest in disentangling the various political results of different
schools of art.
Thirdly, a King is exposed, if he has no special feeling which would
naturally make him a lover of art, to be a vigorous despiser of it. He
is apt to think it mere trifling : to consider politics, war, and science
as the only serious pursuits of men ; art as a petty ornament. There-
fore one of the chief objects of your studies in Italy should be the
ascertaining what great men its great artists were, how universal in
power, how lofty in temper, how graceful in companionship ; and the
observing what depth of purpose or meaning there is in all truly
great works. In general it is a good question to ask when you
approve a work of art What was the use of this ? What was it
300 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. 1 [18.59
done for ? Then, you will find in the case of all the mightiest you
can at once answer This was to record the victories of such and such
a republic ; this, to give dignity to its councils of state ; this, to record
its political faith and visibly embody a code of political instruction ;
this, to teach the truths of Revelation or do honour to a God in whom
they believed. And when you can answer none of these things you
will, for the most part, find the work to be a bad one, or to have
been executed at the point of commencing decadence. The habitual
practice of carefully reading the frescoes and sculpture of large build-
ings, as a kind of precious manuscript, 1 is in this respect the most
beneficial of all modes of study.
Lastly, whatever view may be taken of the duties of Princes in
general, certainly at the period in which we live their principal duty
is that of Conservation. We are all disputing what is right, what
wrong ; we shall find out in due time ; in the meantime, let us keep
both. The tendency of Europe is to destroy existing art, and to
amuse herself with clumsily making more : her aim ought to be, to
preserve existing art, and calmly learn how to make more. Point
out this to the Prince, whenever you have an opportunity ; never lose
a chance of exciting his regret for a perishing fresco, or his indigna-
tion for an abolished monument. Take care as he passes through
the studios of the modern artists in Italy to point out to him their
servile egotism servile, in want of originality ; egotistical, in that they
at heart like their own vile imitations better than all they imitate.
Show him the true motives of miserable vanity, and mercenary in-
terest, which rule the modern schools, and teach him how the noblest
patronage of art, for a prince, is nearly always the patronage of those
who cannot flatter him ; others, in the crowd, may wisely, kindly,
impartially, give their hands to the living, let him from his high
throne stretch his sceptre over the dead.
The duties to his own people must be suggested by his own bent,
and his own knowledge. They fall mainly into three divisions em-
ploying the noblest artists when he has work to be done, setting
the right men over the schools of art and the right curators over
the galleries of art, and then helping both, as they ask him to
help them. At present, all that you should try to lead the Prince
to is the assuring his own principles of judgment. The application
of them to the need of the nation will be for after consideration.
And pray be assured, both for your own sake and for his, that right
principles of judgment in art as in other matters are pre-eminently
1 [Compare the description of St. Mark's in St. Mark's Rent, Vol. XXIV.
1859] THE ART OF SIGHT-SEEING 301
those of Common-sense. A great picture is pre-eminently and always
a Rational and Right picture; a noble statement of clear, simple,
absolute, comprehensive Truth. Simple not from shallowness, but
from depth. And therefore, above all things, avoid hurry and quantity
of sight-seeing. A very useful practical rule in this matter is never
to consider that you have seen a picture at all, unless you have
deliberately observed what every figure in it is doing, and considered
whether it is doing it well. This is a plain rule, but you will find
the practice of it steady you in a gallery marvellously; and in-
finitely disquiet and disgust cicerones, chatterers, and important persons
of all species. It is especially to be recommended with Venetian
pictures. All hurried and crowded observation is literally worse than
useless; its conclusions are sure to be wrong, and its impressions
deaden not only past impressions, but the power of receiving future
Much more occurs to me as tangible on this matter, but I have
no doubt it will occur to you also; if there are any points about
which you would like me to say more, tell me, and I will answer all
questions as speedily as possible. I do not name to you any works
for especial study. You know probably my opinions in the main ;
and in a first journey to Italy, special study is hardly possible or
desirable. One must seek first to gain the power of wise choice, after-
wards the time will come for using the power. Believe me, my dear
Chambers, always faithfully yours, J. RUSKIN.
To DANTK GABRIEL RossETTi 1
[DENMARK HILL. ?1859.]
DEAR R., You shall have the picture again immediately. I have
never scrubbed it more by token it has never once been out of the
frame since I had it. It has the most curious look of having been
rubbed but it is impossible unless it was taken out of frame by you.
But this is not the only case of failure of colour from your careless
way of using colours. My pet lady in blue is all gone to nothing,
the green having evaporated or sunk into the dress I send her back
for you to look at and I think the scarlet has faded on the shoe.
You must really alter your way of working, and mind what you are
about. Always affectionately yours, J. RUSKIN.
1 [No. 58 in Raskin, Rossetti, and Pre-Raphaelitisin, pp. 225-226. "The picture"
may be the " St. Catharine/' for which see above, pp. 236, 272. " My pet lady
in blue" is presumably the "Belle Dame satis Merci": see above, pp. 231, 235.]
802 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1859
To DANTE GABRIEL RossETTi 1
[DENMARK HILL. ?1859.]
DEAR ROSSETTI, I am unfortunately hindered from coming to-
morrow but hope to be with you on Wednesday at 3. I won't say
"I hope Miss Herbert isn't coining to-morrow,*" for I want you to
get her beautiful face into your picture as soon as possible but I
hope it will take you a long time, and that I shall be able to come
next time. Ever affectionately yours, J. R.
Keep my letter if you've got one, till I come.
To Mr. and Mrs. BROWNING 2
15/A January, 1859.
DEAR MR. AND MRS. BROWNING, It is very, very good of you to
write to me and to love me a little still indeed I did not pass
through Paris when you were there : you were at Havre, and when I
get to Paris on my road home, a day more or less makes a great
difference to those who are waiting for me, after a four months' 1
absence. I am much helped by all you say in your letters being apt,
in spite of all my certainty of being right in the main, to be seized
with great fits of vexation ; for the truth is that my own proper
business is not that of writing; I am never happy as I write; never
want to utter for my own delight, as you singers do (with all your
pretences to benevolence and all that, you know you like singing just
as well as the nightingales). But Fm truly benevolent, miserably
benevolent. For my own pleasure I should be collecting stones and
mosses, drying and ticketing them reading scientific books walking
all day long in the summer going to plays, and what not, in winter
never writing nor saying a word rejoicing tranquilly or intensely in
pictures, in music, in pleasant faces, in kind friends. But now about
1 [From RusJdn, Rossetti, and Pre-Raphaelitism, p. 236. " Miss Herbert (whose
name off the stage was Mrs. Crabb) was an actress whose beauty was much admired
by Ilossetti. The picture into which Ruskin expected her face to be painted was
'The Seed of David.' . . . My brother did in the first instance paint the head there
of the Madonna from Miss Herbert, but he afterwards substituted the head of
Mrs. William Morris" (W. M. R.). A picture of Miss Herbert, and a reminis-
cence of her beauty, will be found at vol. i. p. 187 of Memorials of Edward
Humect ones J]
1 [The letters to which this is an answer from Mr. and Mr.. Browning
(January 1) arc printed in The Letters of Elizabeth Barrett lirovming, vol. ii.
1859] AGAINST THE GRAIN 303
me there is this terrific absurdity and wrong going on. People kill my
Turner with abuse of him make rifle targets of my Paul Veroneses
make themselves, and me, unendurably wretched by all sorts of ridicu-
lous doings won't let me be quiet. I live the life of an old lady in
a houseful of wicked children 1 can do nothing but cry out they won't
leave me to my knitting needles a moment. And this working in a
way contrary to one's whole nature tells upon one at last people
never were meant to do it. They were meant to be able to give
quiet pieces of advice to each other and show, without any advice,
how things should be done properly (such as they had gift and liking
for). But people were never meant to be always howling and bawling
the right road to a generation of drunken cabmen, their heads up
through the trap-door of the hansom, faces all over mud no right
road to be got upon after all nothing but a drunken effort at turn-
ing, ending in ditch. I hope to get just one more howl executed, from
which I hope great effects upon the Moon and then, see if I don't
take to Kennel and Straw, comfortably.
There was another thing in your letters comforting to me your
delightful want of patriotism loving Italy so much; for I sometimes
think I am going quite wrong when I don't feel happy in coming
home. I have a right to love Italy more now, since it has made Mrs.
Browning so much stronger. Poor Italy, there won't be much of her
left to love, I'm afraid, soon.
I'm so glad to hear of new edition of Aurora. Not that I wanted
it mended I didn't think it had anything in it that could be bettered.
I'm afraid you (Mrs. Browning) have been doing mischief. Why did
you (Robert) let her? Why haven't you (Elizabeth) more faith in
yourself and in the first setting of the first thought? Don't you
(Robert) know that repentirs in pictures are wrong always, and I
believe they are in verses. Have you been getting any good ones
lately? pictures, I mean. Do pray look out if there are any ragged
fragments of Paul Veronese about. I've been working at him lately,
and find he's just as deep as the other two ; and now between Titian
and Tintoret and him, I never know which is noblest or dearest. I've
had to give up all the old monkish pictures, for their sakes.
I'm still unable to write letters with any good in them. Mere com-
plaints which I've no business to send. My kind regards to Miss
Heaton, please, when you see her, and tell her I like Mr. Talfourd's
drawings, and am enjoying her Turners very much, and am very
grateful for having them. I've given up counting days or years, but
1 [Compare above, p. 21J-]
304 LETTERS OF RUSKIN - VOL. I [1859
always I wish you both all that days or years can bring and caift
take away, and am ever yours gratefully and affectionately,
There now, I had nearly missed just the main thing in my letter.
My mother was so grateful to you for the account of Penini. And I
rejoice with you. Think of this as a woman's postscript. I'm so glad
he is going on quietly, not too wonderfully.
To Mr. and Mrs. CARLYLE
[March 1859. >]
DEAR MR. AND MRS. CARLYLE, When may I come and see you ?
Friday Saturday Monday or Tuesday evening ?
I've been in Yorkshire. In, also, lands of figurative Rock and
moor hard work and peat bog puzzle. No end visible.
Not getting on with German.
Frederick yet unread.
All sorts of things gone worse undone Stitches run down.
Entirely dim notions about what Ought to be done. Except that
I ought to come and tell you all about it. Always affectionately
yours, J. RUSKIN.
To COVENTRY PATMORE 2
DEAR PATMORE, Thank you for what you suggest about the
Millais 3 I rather doubt his having any typical intention carried out
so far, though I heard he intended the cloud to be like a coffin. He
has the highest dramatic power; I doubt his reflective faculty.
1 [The letter is undated ; but the first two volumes of Carlyle's Friedrich were
published at the end of 18.38, and in March 1859 Ruskin was in Yorkshire : see
Vol. XVI. p. Ixvi.]
* [From the Life and Lettert of Coventry Patmore, vol. ii. p. 289, where the letter
is conjecturally dated "18.59," because it was in that year that "The Vale of
Rest" was exhibited. In the absence of Patmore's letter, it is impossible to say
with certainty what " the remonstrance about your lines" was. The "hook now
binding" seems, however, from the context to have been Two Paths (issued May 10,
18.59), in which Ruskin depreciated his own descriptive writing as "not worth four
lines of Tennyson" (Vol. XVI. p. 410). It may, therefore, be conjectured that
Ruskin had sent to Patmore proofs of (1) Academy Xotes for 1859, and (2) the
part of Two Pat ha in question. To which, Patmore replied (1) suggesting a further
note about Millais's picture, and (2) questioning Ruskin's depreciation of himself
and exaltation of Tennyson, "your lines" thus being lines to which Patmore had
3 ["The Vale of Rest": see Vol. XIV. p. 212. The picture is now in the Tate
Gallery (No. 1507).]
1859] A LINE OF TENNYSON 305
The remonstrance about your lines is too late as you will see by
book now binding and I hope to be soon sent. I assure you it is
true. My gift is wholly rationalistic and deductive my descriptions
are genuine in emotion, but wholly wanting in highest quality : and I
am in all matters of this one mind, that four lines of Best is worth
any quantity of Seconds. I've written a good deal about waterfalls
pneumatically enough. But the single line,
" That, like a broken purpose, waste in air," l
is worth all put together.
With sincere regards to Mrs. Patmore and best wishes for Tenny-
son's boy 2 believe me faithfully and affectionately yours,
You'll see I don't depreciate myself in all ways.
To COVENTRY PATMORE 3
DEAR PATMORE, My head is good for nothing just now: and I don't
know when I've felt more inclined to knock it off. But I assure
you I forget my own business as well as other people's.
Can you come out to-morrow, Sunday either to dinner at half-
past four or in the evening ?
I should not have forgotten this matter had I ever found I was
useful to my friends. But I have so many enemies that it is enough
to ruin any man that I should take the slightest interest in him. I
assure you this is true but I'll convince you of it when I see you.
Always affectionately yours, J. RUSKIN.
Sincere regards to Mrs. Patmore.
To Mrs. JOHN SIMON
MUXSTER, 2nd June, 1859.
DEAR MRS. SIMON, We are getting on very well and comfortably,
in spite of war. The Germans are very good to us and serve us with
cold soup, cucumbers, oil, melted butter, inconceivable pastry, asparagus
1 [Tennyson : The Princess, vii. 199. Compare what Ruskin says of another
"single line" in Tennyson: Vol. II. p. xxviii. ?i.]
'-' [Patmore'a second son, godson of Tennyson and named after him. Ruskin
gave him a presentation to Christ's Hospital : see Vol. XXXVII. p. 694.]
8 \_Memoirs and Correspondence of Coventry Patmore, vol. ii. p. 297.]
806 LETTERS OF BUSKIN VOL. 1 [1859
white at the wrong end, and everything you can think of that one
can't eat. We find it a difficult matter on German railroads to do
more than sixty miles a day, and are making our way patiently to
Dresden, in fine weather, over flat country, and in a tranquil state
of mind. I find the German Gothic abominable Cologne Cathedral
an enormous failure the Rhine not half so grand as the Thames at
Chelsea, I have, however, two good reasons for admiring the Thames
at Chelsea, 1 so I am perhaps partial. But Cologne Cathedral is
assuredly good for nothing old or new, it is all bad.
I am much puzzled by the German character in its first aspects,
its mixed bluntness and refinement, simplicity and erudition, fine feeling
and intense Egotism. The last quality I think rules all. In painting
it does to utter destruction.
(HANOVER, 3rd June.) I intended to fill this quite up, but I must
send it as it is, for this town is full of wonderful Gothic houses which
I must go and draw, 2 and then the latter might be put off for a week.
I'll write that out about Holiness on Sunday for you. 3
I am sure if John were here, he would long to be back again
under the Markis.* There is not a German Gutter capable of making
away with itself there's a green line of fever at the side of every
street, and black marshes round every fortification. Diisseldorf, Hanim,
Minister, all alike the first more magnificent in Putridity, however,
having black water in its gardens for swans to swim in.
A line will find me at Dresden for three weeks to come^ I hope
we are going first to take a look at Berlin.
Love to John, and a kiss to Boo. All the little German girls are
like Boo, so that I think of her often. My father and mother send
their sincerest regards. Ever affectionately yours, J. RUSKIN.
To Mrs. JOHN SIMON
BERLIN, Tuesday after Whitsunday, 1C.59.
. . . Before I write you anything about Holiness work it a little
out by yourself.
You say " in its old sense of Freedom from all Stain or Blemish
it assuredly does belong to the Lord for ever." I daresay, but. in
1 [Presumably Turner and C'arlyle.j
[The drawing of Hanover is in the collection of Mr. F. R. Hall.]
3 [Ruskin had apparently written something 1 to Mrs. Simon in the sense of a
passaia' presently printed in Modern I'ainlers, vol. v. (Vol. VII. pp. 20G-207), an-1
she had asked for further explanation. See below, pp. 307-308.]
4 [See below, p. ;<OL n.\
1859] "HOLY 5 AND -HELPFUL" 307
that sense, would it be such a grand thing that it did ? May not a
bit of snow be free from all stain a pearl or a diamond free from
Blemish ? You don't talk of Holy Snow and diamonds ?
If ever of the First anywhere was it only because it was White ?
Or because it was something more than white ?
What was that more?
To Mrs. JOHN SIMON
NUREMBERG, 5th July, 1859.
DEAR MRS. SIMON, This is no disappointing place: next to Venice
and Verona, the most interesting and beautiful town I have ever seen.
I hope to get some drawings, 1 though I have already lost great part of
my power of drawing architecture of this kind, in throwing free my
hand for figures. Such a hard try as I've had at a little boy's head
(Veronese), and a lady's wristband (Titian), at Dresden ! 2
The little boy is Veronese's own. His wife and children are being
presented to the Virgin by Faith, Hope, and Charity. Veronese him-
self is in the background, his hands clasped. 3 This little fellow has
hidden himself behind a pillar, and is just making up his mind to
peep round it to see the Madonna, his eyes wide open with resolu-
tion. The Faith is very noble Charity, being a working virtue, has
very stout arms.
Our word " holy " is ^discriminatingly used for various Greek ones.
One of its senses is undoubtedly the Latin sanctiis, or set apart but
this sense is, I believe, an inferior one. The main sense is " Life-
giving," and the word is applied to God as Lord of Life, and giving
help every instant to all Creatures. If you merely read Helpful instead
of Holy, keeping this deep and awful sense of the kind of Help, by
giving the stream of life Tor ever to creation, you will light up half
the texts wonderfully. 4
<< Helpful Helpful Helpful Lord God of Sabaoth (Hosts)? i.e.,
" Look down from the habitation of thy Helpfulness and thy Glory.
Where is thy zeal and thy strength ? "
1 [See, in vol. v. of Modern Painters, the engraved "Moat of Nuremberg"
(Vol. VII. p. 305).]
2 [Probably a study from the " Red Lady " : see Vol. VII. p. 490.]
3 [The picture is more fully described in the same volume : p. 290, where also
Ruskiu's copy of a portion of it is given.]
4 [The Bible references are: Revelation iv. 8 ; Isaiah Ixiii. 15 ; Leviticus xix. 2 ;
Revelation vi. 10; Isaiah xliii. 15; 2 Kings xix. 22; Genesis ix. 4; Matthew vi. 9;
Acts iii. G. On the general subject of "Holy" and " Helpful," compare Modern
Painters, vol. v. (Vol. VII. p. 206); and Vol." XVII. pp. 60, 225, 287.]
808 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1359
"Be ye Helpful for I am helpful."
" How long, Oh Lord, Helpful and True, dost Thou not avenge our
blood on them that dwell on the earth."
(Examine carefully Hannah's use of it, 1st Samuel ii. 2.)
" I am the Lord, your Helpful one, the Creator of Israel, your
So " The Helpful One of Israel " always, and the " Helpful Spirit,"
Life-giving Spirit. Read " life-giving " for helpful, if you like it better,
all through. All the ideas of Awfulness are properly connected with
this primary one. God is chiefly Awful as the Lord of Life, not as
Lord of Death. A child can slay, but God only make alive.
Hence the sacredness of Blood the Blood is the life. (When I
spoke of Healing, it was only with respect to the derivation of the
word, not to its full sense.)
If you examine well the idea of Impurity you will find it is only
the appearance or evidence, in matter, of some contrariety to Life.
All foulness is either corruption, or an impediment to life. Dust is
not foul on the road on your hands it is.
Helpful day is the true meaning of Holy day. He blessed the
seventh day and made it Helpful, Restful, Life-giving. " Hallowed be
thy name " means " Let thy name be Helpful throughout the earth,"
i.e., * In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." That
is " Hallowing " the name.
Most of the prevalent and current notions of sanctity are remnants
of Judaic or Papal superstition. Some are true, but of entirely secon-
dary import. The habit of using Holy as synonymous with Innocent
or Sinless is merely one of the verbal carelessnesses and absurdities
which modern religious phraseology has rendered universal, even among
sensible people. The idea attached to it in most minds is a mixed
one it stands for an aggregation of all manner of things, and may be
laid hold of by any of its sides or meanings to support any sort of
mistake. Much monasticism and other fatal practical error of the
world has arisen out of these ungrammatical and inaccurate apprehen-
sions of the word Holy, supported by the force of the lurking sense
beneath which people could not unmask. Thus "Holy Baptism" is
Holy if it is Life-Giving no otherwise. Holy Church ceases to be
Holy in ceasing to be helpful the Set-apartedness being secondary, and
by itself wrong.
I will write you some more about our journey soon. We are all
quite well ; my father and mother enjoy it more than they ever did
before, partly because thev did not expect to enjoy so much. They