a large girls' school in Cheshire, a pretty old English hall in large
park sloping down to river side ; 1 it is one of my chief pleasures some-
times to go and stay there a few days. Last spring I promised the
children to bring you to them in the autumn ; they did not know you
before. You know Norton sent me the two volume edition, 2 so I had
you all, nearly. We had Columbus and Cromwell and nearly all the
prettiest minor poems on successive evenings ; the last evening I got
a nice blue-eyed girl to be Minerva, and recited the " When wise
Minerva yet was young." 3 You should have heard the silver laughing.
(N.B. I had studied curtseying all the afternoon before in order to
get myself nicely up as Venus.)
I've just seen the new edition of the Bigloivs, with Hughes' preface. 4
1 [Winnington Hall, Northwich : see Vol. XVIII. p. Ixiv. (Plate V.).]
2 [See above, p. 277-]
3 [The first line of the piece called "The Origin of Didactic Poetry" ; referred
to above, p. 271-]
4 [The Biglow Papers. By James Russell Lowell. Newly edited with a Preface
by the Author of Tom J3rown's School Days (London, 1859). In explaining and
elseif (getClientWidth() > 430)
defending Lowell's association of humour and Christianity, Mr. Hughes says (p. xvi.),
' ' Does not the Bible itself sanction the combination by its own example ? " and
proceeds (pp. xvi.-xviii.) to give instances.]
328 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1859
He is a noble fellow and deserves the privilege of editing them, but
one passage in his preface I regret about the sarcasm of the Bible.
He might better have proved his point in other ways, or, rather, had
better not have tried to prove it, for either people feel strongly enough
to understand the Bigloics, or they don't. If they don't, no pre-
cedent or principle will make them comprehend the temper of them.
But I like the rest of preface, and the edition looks well, and will do
I have been interrupted during the day; but would not sleep with-
out thanking you for your letter. How good and kind you Americans
are, when you are. IVe only one English friend, after forty years of
drawing English breath, whom I would class with Norton and you.
Believe me always, gratefully and affectionately yours, J. RUSKIN.
To Mrs. CARLYLE *
DEAR MRS. CARLYLE, I am so very glad you liked the things, and
especially the flowers for indeed the Melancholy 2 is not exactly like-
able. What it means no one knows. "Cavernous meaning" is just
the word for it.
In the main, it evidently means the full sense of the terror, mystery,
turmoil, responsibility of the world, ending in great awe and sadness
and perpetual labour (as opposed to French legcrete) lightly crowned
with budding bay winged, as in true angelic service. (The Wolf
hound of fiercer sorrow laid asleep at her feet.) Strong bodied. Having
the Keys of all knowledge. Compare Tennyson's:
" Seemed to touch it into leaf,
The Words were hard to Understand." 3
Ever affectionately yours, J. RUSKIN.
Poor little Nero! But he will love you just as much, even when he
is blind and move his little paws just as prettily.
[Undated, hut before 1HGO, as Mrs. Carlyle's pet do, Nero, died in January
of that year : see Life of Jane Welsh t'arlyle, by Mrs. Alexander Ireland, p. 2.59.
A previous letter (December 8) announces tbe gift of the Diirer plate.]
[For Diirer's " Melencolia," see Vol. VII. p. .'512 and Plate E.]
' [hi Mcmoriain, Ixix. ]
1859] ROSSETTI'S "BANNER PICTURE" 329
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON *
DENMARK HILL, 10th December, 1859.
MY DEAR NORTON, The first thing I did when I got home was to
go to Rossetti to see about the portrait. I found him deep in work
but, which was worse, I found your commission was not for a little
drawing like Browning's, but for a grand, finished, delicate oil which
R. spoke quite coolly of taking three or four weeks about, wanting I
don't know how many sittings. I had to go into the country for a
fortnight, and have been ill since I came back with cold and such like,
and I don't like the looks of myself however, I'm going to see R.
about it again immediately ; 2 but I'm now worried about another
matter. The drawing he has done for you 3 is, I think, almost the worst
thing he has ever done, and will not only bitterly disappoint you, but
put an end to all chance of R.'s reputation ever beginning in America.
Under which circumstances, the only thing to be done, it seems to me,
is to send you the said drawing indeed, but with it I will send one
he did for me, which at all events has some of his power in it. I
am not sure what it will be, for I don't quite like some bits in the
largest I have, and in the best I have the colour is changing he having
by an unlucky accident used red lead for vermilion. So I shall try
and change the largest with him for a more perfect small one, and
send whatever it is for a New Year's token. I shall put a little pencil
sketch of R.'s in with it the Virgin Mary in the house of St. John 4
not much yet a Thing such as none but R. could do.
I have your kind letter with Lowell's both quite aboundingly
helpful to me. Please take charge of enclosed answer to Lowell. 5
I am finishing 5th vol., 6 and find it is only to be done at all by
working at it to the exclusion of everything else. But that way I
heartily trust in getting it done in spring and having my hands and
soul so far free.
I had heard nothing of that terrible slave affair, 7 till your letter
came. I can understand the effect it may have but here in Europe
1 [Atlantic Monthly, June 1904, rol. 93, pp. 805-806. No. 21 in Norton ; vol. i.
2 [This commission was never executed ; but a crayon portrait, made in 1861,
is in the Oxford University Galleries and is here reproduced (Plate XVIII.).]
3 [The " Banner picture " : see below, pp. 404, 423.]
4 [See No. 79 in the catalogue in H. C. Marillier's Rossetti for various pencil
studies of this subject.]
SThe letter on p. 326, printed by Professor Norton.]
Of Modern Painters.]
John Brown's raid.]
330 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [is 59
many and many a martyrdom must come before we shall overthrow
I hope to write you another line with drawings meantime love and
all good wishes for your Christmas time, and with sincerest regards
to your Mother and Sisters, ever affectionately yours,
To Miss FRANCE 1
MY DEAR Miss FRANCE, I am entirely amazed at your success.
Executively I have not yet seen any copy of this kind of work so
wonderful. I have no time to-day to examine it properly, but only
am sure my astonishment will not diminish as I examine it. I will
write again on Monday (it's no use writing to-morrow). With your
power of prolonged attention, and your singularly fine and firm hand-
ling, you ought to do much. Most truly yours, J. HUSKIN.
Please tell Miss Bell I had a pleasant forenoon yesterday. Miss
Bradford and her cousin came. Also tell Miss Mary the Diirers are
quite right and nice.
To Mr. and Mrs. BROWNING
DENMARK HILT,, llth December .
DEAR MR. AND MRS. BROWNING, It has not lately, I think, been a
time for writing. For looking, working, weeping, not much for talking.
My work does no one much good, but on it must go as so much of
life has already been given to it, though often I feel as if it were the
weakest of vain things and the cheapest of valueless ones at this time,
I mean. Not merely because of the time's sorrows or injustices, or any
other more stern calls : but because even its mechanism is becoming
too strong for any hope of resistance, and what of worth can be done
must be done by accepting that spirit (or that spring, I had better
have said), and out of wheels and spindles bringing what whirring
result one can, till they have had their day, and pass to the bourne
[Written to Miss France (Mrs. Barington Jones, of Dover) when a governess
at Miss Bell's school at Wilmington, lluskin had seen a pen-and-ink copy which
she had made of Albert Diirer's ''Cock and Crest," greatly admired it, and signed
it " Very beautiful, J. Kuskin." The letter was first published (without the post-
script) in the Dorcr K.rprexx, January 25, 1900 ; and next (complete and in facsimile)
in her "Recollections of Mr. Ruskiu" in the Ladia? Pictorial, March 3, 1900.]
1859] FEARLESS WORDS 331
from which it is to be hoped neither wheels nor spindles can return.
The sense of this, and the sight of the mechanical, and worse, art of
Munich (and all Germany in its train), depressed me exceedingly this
summer, and I am only now getting back to something like tranquillity
of mind by ceasing to read the papers, and taking desperately to
buds of trees and wreaths of clouds.
I wrote three letters to one of the Edinburgh papers, whose editor
I knew, concerning European, especially English, political conduct, just
about the time I got your letter. Two of them were printed, after
much delay. The third was declared by the able editor unprintable
" it would lose him a hundred subscribers next morning." x You may
judge by this it was what wise people do not consider a temperate
or chaste production.
The two that were printed bore some bold witness, however, and I
am glad to be able to refer to them, as fearless words, whether wise
or unwise. Some day I will send them to you ; you have at present
enough to think of, and to feel.
So, waiving all talk about such things, I write merely to ask of
Mrs. Browning's health and Penini's, and to say that 1 am very
curious about what I have heard of your taking up art seriously, and
should like infinitely to know what you are doing. I think it pos-
sible you may find a quite new form of expression of yourself in that
Among us at present there is little progress. Hunt spends too
much time on one picture, 2 without adequate result (though a result
indeed which could not be otherwise got). Rossetti is half lost in
mediaevalism and Dante, leaving the opposite party most untoward
advantage, and nearly all the smaller fry have been led astray in
Rossetti's wake. It will all come right again, but time will be needed.
I earnestly hope to get my book done, and all literary work
with it, this winter, and to be able to take a few years of quiet
copying, either nature or Turner or Titian or Veronese or Tintoret
engraving as I copy. It seems to me the most useful thing I can
do. I am tired of talking.
In sincere and continual love to you both, believe me faithfully
yours, J. RUSKIN.
1 [This passage and one in a later letter (below, p. 347) clear up a matter
hitherto left in some obscurity. The two published letters, on "The Italian
Question/' are printed in Vol. XVIII. pp. 537-544. They, and a third which
has never seen the light, were sent, as now appears, to Peter Bayne, then editor
of the Edinburgh Witness. He refused to insert them ; the first two were printed
by the Scotsman, but the third was rejected.]
2 ["The Finding of our Saviour in the Temple" (now in the Birmingham
Gallery), a picture which was the work of years.]
332 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [i860
[The fifth volume of Modern Painters was published in June of this year, and,
after sending it to press, Ruskin left for Switzerland in May, remaining abroad
till September. At Chamouni he wrote Unto this Last : see Vol. XVII. pp. xx. seq.
Several letters dealing with that book are given there.]
To FRANCIS TURNER PALGRAVE
[January 27, I860.]
MY DEAR PALGRAVE, I was very glad to hear from you, though I
cannot be of any use, having just given away my presentation. 1 I
shall not have another for five years.
Your account of Portugal is quite what I should have expected.
I have never had the least curiosity to see either Portugal or Spain.
You must have had a very pleasant tour, however, meeting Tennyson. 2
Yes, Good art is has been will be rare, and I fear your anticipa-
tions respecting our English art are not likely to be fulfilled. The
time has come, I hope, for comfort, peace, and science, but Art
cannot coexist with Steam, or over much iron. The Delphian knew
a little more than people think in his Trrjp.' c-rrl Tr^pxri Ktlrai. 2
I am finishing Modern Painters now as fast as I can, and hope
to get it done in three or four months. Believe me most truly yours,
I think you will ultimately find my statement in The Two Paths a
tolerably true one, that there never have been any great schools of
art save three Athenian, Florentine, Venetian. 4
To Miss E. F. STRONG 5
[LONDON, March '3rd, I860.]
DEAR Miss STRONG, You may do things out of your head purely
to amuse yourself but always look upon them as one of the com-
pletest ways of wasting time.
1 [To Christ's Hospital.]
[In August 1859 Palgrave accompanied Tennyson to Portugal. See F. T. Pal-
grave: Hift Journal* and Memories of his Life, 1899, pp. 58 seq., and Alfred J^ord
Tennygon, a Memoir Inj hi* Son, vol. i. pp. 438 seq.]
' [Herodotus, i. 07: see Vol. VIII. p. 69 n.]
4 [In 20: Vol. XVI. p. 270.]
* [No. 9 in Various Correspondents, pp. 36-37. The letter had previously been
printed in the Literary World for August 24, 1888 (p. 158)- For Miss Strong
(Mrs. Mark Pattisou and, later, Lady Dilke), see Vol. XX. p. 7 .]
i860] SIR ROBERT PEEL 333
Nothing can be starker nonsense than the idea of practice being
needed for invention. All practice destroys invention by substituting
Habit for it. Invention comes of materials first and Heart and
Be sure you have got, or get, a head before you think much of
drawing "out of it." Most truly yours, J. RUSKIN.
To Mrs. JOHN SIMON
[March 21, I860.]
DEAR MRS. SIMON, I trust I shall have better report of you all
to-day, that being very, very sad last night.
I would have come in to ask myself if it had been any good
but you would only have been vexed at not being able to see me.
I had to attend a committee of House of Commons "on Public
Institutions" yesterday. I've got some things said clearly, which I
hope you will like.
You would have been amused at seeing some of their faces as I
got out, in repeated and clear answers, my hatred of Competition.
At last, on my saying finally that all distress mainly came from
adopting for a principle the struggle of man with man, instead of
the help of " man by man," Sir R. Peel burst out with
" Most extraordinary sentiments, I must say, Mr. R."
" Do you think so, Sir Robert ? " (To the reporter) " I hope that
comment is down."
"It's all right," said the Chairman, laughing. What he meant
by "all right," I don't know. 1
Love to John, and three kisses to Boo. Ever affectionately yours,
To Miss JULIA RICHMOND
WINNINGTON HALT,,, 23rd March [I860].
MY DEAR JULIA, You guess rightly that I am out of town, or
I should have taken Papa at his' word, and you at yours, and come
for tea and duets long ago. I have some very nice duets here, by
the way for " Winnington " is a young ladies' school but nothing
like your choral English songs (nor like Laura's musical box!), but
the duets are very good and quartets better (two pianos) and the
1 [For the official report of Sir Robert Peel's examination of Ruskin (which,
however, did not give this comment), see Vol. XVI. pp. 485-487.]
834 LETTERS OF RUSKIN Voi, I [i860
dancing is very pretty for the girls have a great park and no end
of gardens to ran in, and they're as active as hares, and dance like
Will o' the wisps. I shall be back, however, by the end of next week,
and hope to see some of your Easter doings. Papa's interpretation of
the bunch on the Spear l is wholly Unacceptable. I won't listen to
evidence on the subject not that I believe there is any. (How nasty !)
Resides, it isn't a sponge nor a mop neither but clearly a dry fur,
electric almost, with strong repulsion of the Devil. I can't write here
but at odds and ends of time and then I write illegibly (ill enough
certainly at home, but this is unpardonable). I'm so glad to hear
Willie's pictures are getting on, and that Papa is working hard. Love
to you all, and believe me ever faithfully yours, J. RUSKIN.
Never mind how slowly the Diirers get on, but don't tire your-
selves never mind doing the rocks well. Diirer couldn't draw them
himself draw them any way, keeping them quiet enough for back-
ground. I like Horses when they draw railroad carriages, and get out
of the way in time not to be made buffers of have you seen them
doing that? 2
To FREDERIC LEIGHTON 3
[DENMARK HILL, I860.]
DEAR LEIGHTON, Unless I write again I shall hope to breakfast
with you on Friday, and see and know evermore how a lemon differs
from an orange leaf. In cases of doubtful temper, might the former
more gracefully and appropriately be used for bridal chaplet ? Most
truly yours, J. RUSKIN.
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 4
[DENMARK HILL, May 15, 1800.]
DEAR NORTON, My hand is so tired that I cannot write straight
but on this ugly paper ... I have had much trouble in concluding
my own work, owing to various perceptions of sorrowful things con-
nected with the arts; and occurrences of all kinds of insuperable
1 [In Diirer's "Knight and Death": see Vol. VII. p. 310 and Plate D.]
[See Iluskin's description of the railway horse in Vol. XVII. p. 335.]
3 [From The. Life, tetters, and Work of Frederic Isighton, hy Mrs. Russell
Harrington, HKK), vol. ii. p. 42. The letter refers to the celebrated pencil drawing
of a tamon Tree made by Leighton at Capri in 1R.59. In 1883 I^eighton lent the
drawing to Kuskin for his Oxford schools: see Vol. XXXIII. p. 31!), where a repro-
duction of it is given.]
4 [Atlantic Monthly, July 1904, vol. 94, p. i). No. 22 in Norton; vol. i. pp. !K5-!>7.]
1860] MODERN GERMAN ART 335
questions, as you will see in due time. I have still to put in a sen-
tence or two in the last two chapters; else I had hoped to be able to
tell you to-day it was done. But it is so to all intents and purposes,
and I hope (the last sheet revised) to leave for Switzerland on the
I pressed Rossetti hard about the portrait, till I got so pale and
haggard-looking over my book that I was ashamed to be drawn so.
I think your chief object in getting it done would not have been
answered. I hope to get into a natural state of colour (red-nosed
somewhat, by the way) among the Alps, and to send you the portrait
for a New Year's gift, and to behave better in all ways than I've done.
I will tell you by letter from abroad all about myself and my life
which can interest you, or be useful to any one.
I am so very glad that you like the Rossetti. 1 It was really a
nice chance his having done that subject. It came so pat for your
Vita. . . . Ever gratefully and affectionately yours, J. RUSKIN.
P.S. I'm going to have the portrait done : to-morrow R. begins.
TO E. S. DALLAS 2
Tuesday Evening (circa 1860).
MY DEAR DALLAS, The real controversy is not so much between
English and Foreign glass-painting as between the thirteenth century
and modern Germanism. It will rage, inextinguishably, until people
know a little more about drawing and colour generally : and do not
think Winterhalter and Landseer as good as Titian or Rubens. It is
impossible to draw in colour properly on glass : all efforts to do so
are absurd and barbarous, showing a total ignorance of the value of
noble painting. A painted window should be a simple, transparent
harmony of lovely bits of coloured glass easily mended again if smashed,
and pretending to no art but that of lovely colour arrangement, and
clear outline grouping. 3 The style of the thirteenth century is the
only good one but in this style the British are as yet tyros while
the French are masters. A modern English glass painter thinks that
1 [" Ruskin had sent to me Rossetti's characteristic water-colour picture of the
Meeting of Daute and Beatrice at a Wedding-festival " (C. E. N.). For the picture,
see above, p 235 .]
2 [No. 12 in Art and Literature, pp, 35-38.]
3 [For a summary of references on this and other points in the art of glass-
painting, see Vol. XXX. pp, 227-228.]
336 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [i860
to caricature a religious scene, and patch his caricature with gay colours
at random, is thirteenth-century art. The French masters compose
their windows as exquisitely and elaborately as Mozart his music. I
cannot now distinguish between old French thirteenth-century glass,
and modern filling of its rents. The windows of the Sainte Chapelle
are filled with modern glass to a height of about six feet all above
is ancient, but I cannot by either the eye or the judgment discern the
junction. The Germans likewise excel us far (in all instances that I
have seen) in this school of elaborate figure painting on glass. The
whole school is false and ridiculous but our fallacies are the foolishest.
It will be some time, of course, before the school of Mud l in
general Winterhalter and Modern German sentimental glass, is got
rid of, and you must trim sail a little between the parties : but depend
on it the principle is irrefragable Don't try to make a transparent
thing look opaque, just where you want to use its transparency. I
hope to have the pleasure of seeing you some day soon. With compli-
ments to Mrs. Dallas, and my father and mother's kind regards to
you, believe me truly yours, J. RUSKIN.
I scratched out Ary SchefFer's name because, though one of the
heads of the Mud sentiment school, he does draw and feel very beauti-
fully and deeply 2 and doesn't deserve to be classed with the German
window painters : or with the dim blockhead Winterhalter.
To J. H. LE KEUX*
DOVKB, May 22nd, 1860.
DEAR LE KEUX, I cannot tell you how much obliged I am by
your kindness, in all you have done for these plates.
I hope to begin some work of completer character with you soon.
Meantime you would add infinitely to your already great kindness,
by giving some lessons in etching and biting to my man Allen. I
will pay for him whatever he costs you in time, willingly and I don't
think you need fear any rivahhip in skill, though he will be able to
help ine in my own work.
I have told him to call upon you and ask if you could do this.
I want him to have a plate and try to etch something himself, and
then to be shown how to bite it in.
Compare Modern Painters, vol. i. (Vol. III. p. 351).]
Compare Academy Notes, 1S5S, Vol. XIV. j>. 180.]
No. 10 in Various Correspondent*, pp. 38-3'.).]
1860] THE PURGATORY OF AMERICA 337
I was up at five this morning and am sleepy with sea air, so I
can [only] just write this piece of impertinent request, and say good-
bye. You shall have a fifth volume soon, and I hope you will like
what IVe said of your work in it. 1 Most truly yours,
To Mrs. HARRIET BEECHER SxowE 2
GENEVA, June 18, 1860.
DEAR MRS. STOWE, It takes a great deal, when I am at Geneva,
to make me wish myself anywhere else, and, of all places else, in
London ; nevertheless, I very heartily wish at this moment that I were
looking out on the Norwood Hills, and were expecting you and the
children to breakfast to-morrow.
I had very serious thoughts, when I received your note, of running
home ; but I expected that very day an American friend, Mr. S., 3
who, I thought, would miss me more here than you would in London ;
so I stayed.
What a dreadful thing it is that people should have to go to
America again, after coming to Europe ! It seems to me an inversion
of the order of nature. I think America is a sort of " United " States
of Probation, out of which all wise people, being once delivered, and
having obtained entrance into this better world, should never be
expected to return (sentence irremediably ungrammatical), particularly
when they have been making themselves cruelly pleasant to friends
here. My friend Norton, whom I met first on this very blue lake
water, 4 had no business to go back to Boston again, any more
I was waiting for S. at the railroad station on Thursday, and
thinking of you, naturally enough it seemed so short a while since
we were there together. I managed to get hold of Georgie as she
was crossing the rails, and packed her in opposite my mother and
beside me, and was thinking myself so clever, when you sent that
rascally courier for her ! I never forgave him any of his behaviour
after his imperativeness on that occasion.
1 [See Vol. VII. pp. 305, 436.]
1 [From pp. 353-355 of Mrs. Stowe's Life (above, p. 321 n.). Reprinted in
Igdrasil, November 1890, vol. ii. pp. G9, 70, and thence in Ruskiniana, part i., 1890,
pp. 97-98. Also (in part) in W. G. Collingwood's Life and Work of John Ruskin,
1900, p. 194. For other mention of Mrs. Stowe and her daughter, see above,