1 [Song of Solomon, i. 5.]
2 Compare Ruskin's words on this point to Rossetti himself; above, p. 341.]
* "The last part of Unto this Last, Vol. XVII. pp. 77 seq.]
4 In her "Tale of Villafranca." In one of her letters of the time, Mrs. Brown-
ing describes the Peace as a "blow on the heart" (Letters of Elizabeth Barrett
Browning, vol. i. p. 320).]
5 [See above, p. 331.]
348 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I
have. You also can write what you feel I can't. I can only say what
I think in a slow way which nobody will listen to. I'm obliged, I
find, now at last quite to hold my tongue, and am taking quietly to
birds and beasts and worms and bones finding some peace in them.
People are indeed shooting all the birds as fast as they can ; still
there are some yellow-hammers and robins left and a few field-mice
and squirrels Cathedrals and pictures there will soon be an end of.
I've been working pretty hard, too, to get my book done (are you
going to stay in Florence long enough now for me to send it you
there ?), and have now fallen into the lassitude of surrendered effort
and the disappointment of discovered uselessness, having come to see
elseif (getClientWidth() > 430)
the great fact that great Art is of no real use to anybody but the
next great Artist ; that it is wholly invisible to people in general
for the present and that to get anybody to see it, one must begin
at the other end, with moral education of the people, and physical,
and so I've to turn myself quite upside down, and I'm half broken-
backed and can't manage it.
I should hardly have had spirit to write to you even now, but
that there is in to-day's paper at last something like a Voice from
England. Late how late ! Yet, thank heaven, at last a voice, and I
suppose she has been in an occult and cowardly way, yet still, posi-
tively, helping for some time back. I never thought to have to thank
Lord John for anything ; here, however, is whether his own or not
the first piece of steady utterance we've had. 1 Now, if Italy can only
be true to herself; but alas, for her inveterate Idleness. What do you
think she can do, in way of foodful, soulful work ? However, with
what oscillation or failure may be appointed for her, she will as all
nations will now go forward, I believe, not Hades-way, as Carlyle says.
There are more now in the world who see than ever before, that I
can hear of.
Just a line, please, to say if I may send book. Love to Mr.
Browning. Ever faithfully and devotedly yours, J. Rrsiux.
We always want to hear of Penini my mother, as you know, with
1 [Lord John Russell's despatch of October 27, 1800 (published in the Times of
November 5), to Sir James Hudson, British Minister to the Court of Sardinia,
justifying the King for furnishing the assistance of his arms to the Roman and
Neapolitan States, and quoting Vattel : " When a people for good reasons take up
arms against an oppressor, it is but an act of justice to yourselves to assist brave
men in the defence of their liberties." '* H. M. Government," he said, "turn their
eyes to the gratifying prospect of a people building up the edifice of their liberties
and consolidating the work of their independence amid the sympathy and good
wishes of Europe."]
i860] "UNTO THIS LAST" 349
To Dr. JOHN BROWN 1
llth November, 1860.
DEAR DR. BROWN, I have your kind letter, and am thankful at
least to hear that Mrs. Brown's health is no worse, and most happy
to hear of the new book, which, now that I have for the most part
done my own troublous businesses, I shall have time to read and enjoy.
I am glad you like the last paper better, and shall be gladder still
when you perceive this main fact concerning me and my work, that all
those descriptions and sentimentalisms are of an entirely second-rate and
vulgar kind, quite and for ever inferior to either Tennyson, Browning,
Lowell, or any other. . . . The value of these papers on economy is
in their having for the first time since money was set up for the
English Dagon, declared that there never was nor will be any vitality
nor Godship in him, and that the value of your ship of the line is by
no means according to the price you have given for your guns, but
to the price you have given for your Captain. For the first time, I
say, this is declared in purely accurate scientific terms ; Carlyle having
led the way, as he does in all noble insight in this generation. . . .
Remember me affectionately to Noel Paton. 2
To ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING 3
DENMARK HILL, 25th November, '60.
DEAR MRS. BROWNING, Not two years, but two days, this time,
and those already too long to have delayed my thanks for your com-
forting letter, chiefly to me comforting in its own cheerfulness and
happy account of your hopes for Italy. Too sanguine, as I think :
my word "idleness" referring not to immediate work done, but to
the habit of national life, not for yet half a century, as I suppose,
to be cured. Nay, already it begins to show at least by the accounts
we have here quite as much dark as bright. And indeed it will be
strange to me if the just cause of the Italians is allowed by Heaven
to prosper, in spite of the crimes and withdrawal of aid among and by
the natives who should have helped her. I believe the work will not r
1 [No. 5 of " Letters from John Ruskin " in Letters of Dr. John Brown, 1907)
p. 293. Part of this letter has been already given in Vol. XVII. p. xxxiv. For
the " new book/' see below, p. 365 n.~\
2 [For whom, see Vol. XIV. p. 50 n.]
3 [Written when the result of the long Italian siege of Gaeta, the last re-
maining stronghold of the Neapolitan Government, was still in suspense. Gaeta fell
on January 15, 1861 ; the Kingdom of Naples was annexed by plebiscite, and Victor
Emmanuel was proclaimed King of Italy at Turin.]
350 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [is6o
cannot be done ; and that we, and Prussia, chiefly, shall be punished
hereafter for having hindered it. If the Italians had any real life
in them, Gaeta already had been drawn into the sea with ropes, as
Hushai said to Absalom. 1 But it is not life. It is only galvanism
or at least the first staggering motion of a man, blind and bound for
half his life, at first loosening and light. I tremble every paper I
open, but am prepared for the worst; perhaps my present despondency
is because I have thoroughly anticipated all the probable worsts. I
think of Venice as utterly destroyed, with Verona ; and with all the
pictures in them, which, to me, means nearly half the pictures in the
world. I think of Italy in a state of utter anarchy and helplessness,
and Russia and England fighting for, or dividing, her spoil, as chance
may rule it.
Supposing all were true which you say so kindly about what I
have been able myself to do, you must consider how empty it all looks,
in the face of these things ; nay, as regards itself it is in its outcome
useless. I have got people to look a little at thirteenth-century
Gothic, just in time to see it wholly destroyed (every cathedral of
importance is already destroyed by restoration) and have made them
think about Turner only when he has been ten years dead, and when
all his greatest works, without exception, are more or less in a state
of decay, and all the loveliest of them, utterly and for ever, destroyed.
What I am now to do, I know not. I am divided in thought between
many things, and the strength I have to spend on any seems to me
nothing. I find the study of the figure in art, and of human in-
terests in literature, wholly incompatible with the pursuit of landscape.
Natural history will go with landscape, but men are too beautiful and
too wicked the moment I begin to draw them at all intelligently, I
care for nothing else; a girl's hair and lips are lovelier than all clouds;
a man^s forehead grander than all rocks. If I begin to think and
write about the creatures, I get enraged and miserable. If I don't, I
feel like a baby, or a brute. I never shall draw thoroughly well, nor
write thoroughly well. I believe Natural History would be the best
thing for me ; but I neither like to give up my twenty years'" cherished
plans about Turner on the one side, nor to shrink behind the hedges
from the battle of life on the other. The strange thing of all is that
whenever I work selfishly buy pictures that I like, stay in places that
I like, study what I like, and so on I am happy and well ; but when
I deny myself, and give all my money away, and work at what seems
useful, I get miserable and unwell. The things I most regret in all
my past life are great pieces of virtuous and quite heroical self-denial;
1 [2 Samuel xvii. 13.]
1860] TURNERS FOR STUDY 351
which have issued in all kinds of catastrophe and disappointment,
instead of victory. Everything that has turned out well Fve done
merely to please myself, and it upsets all one's moral principles so.
Mine are going I don't know where.
I hope the book will get to you safely it is very little for the
work it cost me. Half the plates failed and had to be cancelled. 1
Fm so glad, and so is my mother, to hear that Penini has no
application does in any wise, in short, admit human imperfection.
We were afraid he would get ill and weak from his sensibility the
poems frightened us. I am so glad also to hear that Mr. Browning
has been at work. So glad of all that you are, and have done and
said, and are doing and saying. Ever yours and his in all affection,
DENMARK HILL, December 17th, 1860.
DEAR WARD, I've told Allen all about the drawings he has to show
for examples of sketching. Of the Turners, make him give you espe-
cially the body colours out of table on my right hand. The "Rouen"
and " Yarmouth " (storm) 3 in that series are the most instructive draw-
ings perhaps in the house. But if the Misses Dundas 4 can manage to
come on Wednesday instead, I'll be home by then (though they should
come before to see the drawings), and on Thursday would stay at home
for them. If you don't come to-morrow, write both to Allen here, and
to me, care of the Earl of Lovelace, Worsley Towers, Ripley, Surrey,
to say if Wednesday or Thursday, as I needn't hurry home if the
young ladies are away to Nice. Yours affectionately, J. R.
To W. JI. THACKERAY 5
DENMARK HILL, 2lst December, I860.
DEAR, MR. THACKERAY, I think (or should think if I did not
know) that you are quite right in this general law about lecturing,
though, until I knew it, I did not feel able to refuse the letter of
request asked of me.
1 [See above, p. 340.]
! [No. 24 in Ward; vol. i. pp. 52-53.]
3 [For the " Rouen," see Vol. XIII. p. 451. The ' e Yarmouth Sands" (in which
there is a heavy storm-cloud) was afterwards given to Cambridge : see Vol. XIII.
p. 558 (No. 10).]
4 [See above, p. 343.]
5 [From Records of Tennyson, Raskin, and Browning, by Anne Ritchie, 1892,
pp. 126-127. For M. Louis Marvy, see Vol. VIII. pp. 16, 279.]
852 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. 1 [i860
The mode in which you direct your charity puts me in mind of
a matter that has lain long on my mind, though I never have had
the time or face to talk to you of it.
In somebody's drawing-room ages ago you were speaking acci-
dentally of M. de Marvy. I expressed my great obligation to him,
on which you said that I could now prove my gratitude, if I chose,
to his widow, which choice I then not accepting, have ever since
remembered the circumstance as one peculiarly likely to add, so far
as it went, to the general impression on your mind of the hollowness
of people's sayings and hardness of their hearts.
The fact is, I give what I give almost in an opposite way to
yours. I think there are many people who will relieve hopeless
distress for one who will help at a hopeful pinch, and when I have
choice I nearly always give where I think the money will be fruitful
rather than merely helpful. I would lecture for a school when I
would not for a distressed author, and would have helped De Marvy
to perfect his invention, but not unless I had no other object his
widow after he was gone. In a word, I like to prop the falling
more than to feed the fallen. 1 This, if you ever find out anything
of my private life, you will know to be true; but I shall never feel
comfortable, nevertheless, about that Marvy business unless you send
to me for ten pounds for the next author, or artist, or widow of
either, whom you want to help.
And with this weight at last oft my mind, I pray you to believe
me always faithfully, respectfully yours, J. HUSKIN.
All best wishes of the season to you and your daughters.
To Dr. \V. C. BENNETT 2
DENMARK HILL, December 20M, I860.
DEAR MR. BENNETT, Christmas visits, and Christmas thoughts,
coming in crowds, admit hardly of any due or kind return in accept-
able time : but pray believe in my sincerity of thanks for your beau-
tiful little book. I am very glad to have the detached poems in this
1 [Hut Iluskin's practice was more indulgent. "I don't know," says Lady
Ritchie, "if it is quite fair to quote the story of the man who had grossly lied
and cheated at Brantwood for years, and who.se wages Mr. Kuskin went on paying
because he could not give him a character and could not let him and his children
[No. 28 in Art and Literature, pp. 74, ~o.]
A SCHEME OF EDUCATION 358
form. 1 I will also endeavour to see the pictures of Mr. Benton, of
which you speak so highly and, I doubt not, justly.
I admire, more and more, the gentle and loving mind which dis-
plays itself in all your poems ; and with most true wishes that you may
long enjoy what you enjoy, and love what you love, remain, with all
Christmas warmth of salutation, gratefully yours, J. RUSKIN.
To COLONEL ROBERTSON 2
DEAR COLONEL ROBERTSON, It may perhaps he useful to you to
have the Copy you sent me of your scheme of Education, so I return
it. It is very good ; but, like the scheme of a battle, will I suppose
lead in the course of it to unforeseen eventualities. I don't know if in
my last letter I said how strongly I felt that a boy's likings ought to
be consulted in every way. Teach a duck always to swim but don't
allow it to swim inelegantly. Put its whole strength and self-command
into its swimming. People are always trying nowadays to teach ducks
to fly and swallows to swim. Most truly yours, J. RUSKIN.
[In the spring of this year Ruskin gave some lectures (Vol. XVII. p. xxxvi.).
In June he went by himself to Boulogne, where he stayed for some weeks. In
August he went on a visit to Ireland. In September he left for Switzerland, where
he remained until the end of the year. Letters to his father, in addition to those
here given, are printed in Vol. XVII. (see its "contents," pp. xii.-xiii.).]
To JOSEPH SEVERN 3
DENMARK HILL, 23rd January, 1861.
DEAR MR. SEVERN, Indeed it gives me great and unqualified plea-
sure to hear that you wish to obtain the Roman Consulate. What
testimonial can I offer to you, that will not be a thousand-fold out-
testified by the consent of all who know you, and who knew, in those
1 [Dr. Bennett was in the habit of printing his poems on slips and sending them
to his friends. A collection of poems thus printed, consisting of copies presented
to Sir T. X. Talfourd, is in the British Museum.]
2 [Xo. 35 in Letters to Various Correspondents, pp. 98, 99.]
3 [Life and Letters of Joseph Severn, pp. 217-218. Severn was appointed to the
consulship a few days later, and held the post till 18~2.]
354 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1861
old times of happy dwelling in the ruinous Immortality of Rome :
where English and Italians alike used always to think of Mr. Severn
as of a gleam of living sunshine in which there was no malaria of
mind and which set at one, and melted into golden fellowship, all
comfortless shadows and separations of society or of heart. 1 Consul !
Truly and with most prosperous approbation, it must be ! I shall say
with Menenius, "Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee." 2 As for
Raphael Cartoons or frescoes you know I mind them not profoundly,
but all that I do mind profoundly, I know that you have eye for also,
and as I cannot fancy anything pleasanter for English people at Rome
than to have you for Consul, so I can fancy nothing more profitable
for English people at home than that your zeal and judgment should be
on the watch for [such] straying treasures as in these changeful times may
be obtainable of otherwise unhoped-for Italian art. I would say much
more, but in the hearing of your many and dear friends I feel all
that I can say would be but impertinence, and so pray you only to
believe in my most earnest wishes for your success, on all conceivable
grounds : and to believe me here and at Rome and everywhere, affec-
tionately yours, J. RUSKIN.
Sincerest regards to Miss Severn. I rejoice to hear Mr. Newton's
coming: to Rome. 3
To DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 4
[DKNMARK HILL, January 24, 1801.]
DEAR ROSSETTI, I sate up till late last night reading poems. They
are full of beauty and power. But no publisher I am deeply grieved
to know this would take them, so full are they of quaintnesses and
1 [Compare the description of Severn in 1'rteferita, Vol. XXXV. p. 2~H.]
2 [" Vulmnnin. Honourable Menenius, my boy Marcius approaches ; for the love
of Juno, let's go.
MettenitiK. Ha! Marcius coming home?
Vol. Ay, worthy Menenius; and with most prosperous approbation.
Men. Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee." Coriotanng, Act ii. sc. 1.]
3 [Miss Mary Severn was married to Mr. (afterwards Sir) Charles Newton ; her
elder sister, Claudia, to Mr. Frederick Gale, the well-known amateur cricketer ;
and their youngest brother to Miss J. 11. Agnew (Mrs. Arthur Severn).]
4 [Raskin, Itosxetti, and Pre-Kaphaelitittm, pp. 2:>H-2ol>. The "letter relates to
MS. poems by Christina Kossetti which Dante Gabriel had left with Kuskin, with
a view to his facilitating some move for publication. The set of poems probably
comprised many of those which were published by Messrs. Macmillan in 1815^
in the GMin- Market volume, and which immediately commanded a large measure
of general attention, for which Mr. Ruskin was apparently not quite prepared "
(W. M. II.). For Rossetti's comment on Rn^kin'> strictures, and Ruskin's later
appreciation of the poems, see the Introduction, above, p. xlvii.J
1861] CHRISTINA ROSSETTI'S POEMS 355
offences. Irregular measure (introduced to my great regret, in its
chief wilfulness, by Coleridge) is the calamity of modern poetry. The
Iliad, the Dlvina Commedia, the ^Eneid, the whole of Spenser, Milton.
Keats, are written without taking a single license or violating the
common ear for metre; your sister should exercise herself in the
severest commonplace of metre until she can write as the public like.
Then if she puts in her observation and passion all will become
precious. But she must have the Form first. All love to you and
reverent love to Ida. Ever affectionately yours, J. RUSKIN.
To WILLIAM WARD*
DENMARK HILL, February 22nd, 1861.
MY DEAR WARD, I will furnish the materials i.e., paper, pencils,
casts, but not drawing-boards or other apparatus of room furniture.
I think long tables, and rough boards with a prop, will do well
enough. Take this note with you to Winsor and Newton's; and get
what materials you want, after arranging with Mr. Robins about
tables, and tell them to put them to my account. J. RUSKIN.
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 2
[DENMARK HILL] 25 February, 1861.
MY DEAR NORTON, I received your kindest letter this morning.
I am so glad your memory is truer than your note-book about me.
Am I to write about myself then ? First, thank you for the anecdote
about the Bishops, from the St. Louis book, which I will get directly.
I never heard of it. 3 I should like you to have two leaves of the
1 [No. 27 in Ward; vol. i. pp. 57-58. "The Rev. C. M. Robins, of 14 Clement's
Inn, who had a Mission Chapel in the neighbourhood, had in 1861 started the
Colonnade YForking Men's Club iu Clare Market. A drawing class was formed,
Ruskin finding materials, whilst Mr. Ward undertook the teaching. Unfortunately
the class lasted for one term only. It appears that the men expected the teaching
to aid and advance them in their various trades, but the knowledge imparted was
not of a sufficiently technical character for that purpose " (W. W.).]
2 [Atlantic Monthly, July 1904, vol. 94, pp. 10-11 (the first sentence being
omitted). No. 25 in Norton ; vol. i. pp. 104-109. A part of the letter (" I suppose,
on the whole, . . . wrong could be") had previously been printed by Professor
Norton in his Introduction (p. xiii.) to the American "Brantwood edition" of
Munera Pulreris, 1891.]
3 ["Memoires de Jean Sire de Joinville, ou Histoire et Chronique du Roi Saint Louis.
The most delightful personal narrative and biographical sketch which the Middle
Ages have bequeathed to us. It is incomparable in its simplicity, sincerity, and
vividness." C. E. N.]
856 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1861
St. Louis missal ; * it is imperfect as it is (wanting three psalms) so
that there is no harm in its losing two leaves more, since they will give
you pleasure, and be more useful in America than here. If these sink
on the way, I will send two others, but I hope they won't sink.
One, from the later part of the book, is all charged with St. Louis's
crest; the other is an exquisite example of thirteenth-century linear
ornamentation. The book, I grieve to say, was in all probability never
in his hands; not only it wants three psalms, but some of its leaves
are unfinished. (By the way, I will send an unfinished one as well, so
that will be three.) There is no shadow of doubt of its having been
done for him, but it must have been while he was away on his last
fatal crusade, and it then remained unfinished in the Sainte Chapelle
Touching my plans, they are all simplified into one quiet and
long : to draw as well as I can, without complaining or shrinking
because that is ill, for ten years at least, if I live so long : in hopes
of doing, or directing some few serviceable engraved copies from
Turner and Titian. I am getting now into some little power of work
again. My eyes serve me well, and as I have no joy in what I do
(the utmost I can do being to keep myself from despair about it and
do it as I would break stones), I am not tempted to overwork myself.
I hope to finish my essay on Political Economy some day soon, then
to write no more. I felt so strongly the need of clear physical health
in order to do this, and that my present life so destroyed my health,
that I was in terrible doubt as to what to do for a long time this
last summer and winter. It seemed to me that to keep any clear-
headedness, free from intellectual trouble and other pairs, no life
would do for me but one as like Veronese's as might be, and I was
seriously, and despairingly, thinking of going to Paris or Venice and
breaking away from all modern society and opinion, and doing I don't
know what. Intense scorn of all I had hitherto done or thought, still
intenser scorn of other people's doings and thinkings, especially in
religion ; the perception of colossal power more and more in Titian
and of weakness in purism, and almost unendurable solitude in my
own home, only made more painful to me by parental love which did
not and never could help me, and which was cruelly hurtful without
knowing it ; and terrible discoveries in the course of such investigation
as I made into grounds of old faith were all concerned in this: and
it would have been, but for the pain which I could not resolve to give
I don't in the least know what might have been the end of it, if
1 [Sec below, ]>. ooO.]
1861] -THINGS THAT INFLUENCED ME" 357
a little child (only thirteen last summer) hadn't put her fingers on
the helm at the right time, and chosen to make a pet of herself for
me, and her mother to make a friend of herself . . . certainly the
ablest and I think the best woman I have ever known. . . . For the
present I settle down to my work, without the least further care as to
what is to come of it having no pleasure in it and expecting none,
but believing that I am in a better state than I was, understanding
a few things about Angelico again, which I had lost, and do not think
that I shall now lose any more.
You have also done me no little good, and I don't feel alone, now
that I've you on the other side of the Atlantic, and Rosie and her
mother by the Mediterranean, all wishing me well, and I don't think
there's any chance now of my going all to pieces. You see I answer
letters more prettily than I used to, don't I ?
So there's a letter about myself and nothing else. I wonder I