irresponsible ways of Rossetti and his fiancee. He loved them as they
were, but wished they could be better, and do as he bade them. " If you
would do what I want," he wrote, "it would be much easier" (p. 227);
they were " absurd creatures," both of them (p. 226) ; and as for Rossetti's
rooms, the "litter" of them was disreputable (p. 198). Yet, curiously
enough, after the death of Rossettfs wife, when he set up house in
Cheyne Walk in a partnership which already was to include Swinburne
and George Meredith, Ruskin proposed himself as another tenant
(pp. 412, 419). Perhaps he did not mean the offer very seriously; at
any rate nothing came of the proposal which was fortunate, we may
be sure, for all parties. Mr. Meredith has given a characteristic
picture of the domestic interior. He drove over to Chelsea to inspect
the apartments, which he had irresponsibly agreed to occupy. "It
was past noon. Rossetti had not yet risen, though it was an exquisite
day. On the breakfast table, on a huge dish, rested five thick slabs
of bacon, upon which five rigid eggs had slowly bled to death.
Presently Rossetti appeared in his dressing-gown with slippers down
elseif (getClientWidth() > 430)
at heel, and devoured the repast like an ogre." This decided Mr.
Meredith. He sent in a quarter's rent in advance, and remained in his
own lodgings. Ruskin, who was a delicate liver, would have done the
same, except that he might have tried to reform the Bohemian master
of the house. Rossetti, moreover, had a catholic taste in live stock.
Now, Ruskin also was fond of animals ; of cats, one may suppose,
1 Letters to William Allingham, p. 163. 2 See p. xxxiv. 3 See below, p. 247 n.
4 I). G. Possetti: His Family Letters, with a Memoir, vol. ii. p. 165.
5 From a letter of 1862 to Mrs. John Simon.
because they are domestic, of dogs because they are obedient, of sheep
because these are gentle. There is a quaint entry in one of his later
diaries noting his pleasure in giving orders that a sheep was to be
allowed a free run over the Brantwood grounds. But a pet sheep is
one thing. Rossetti's animal friends at Chelsea included owls, rabbits,
dormice, hedgehogs, a woodchuck, a marmot, a kangaroo, wallabies,
a deer, armadillos, a raccoon, a raven, a parrot, chameleons, lizards,
salamanders, a laughing jackass, a zebu, a succession of wombats, and
at one time, I believe, a bull. Ruskin, who was an occasional visitor,
must have been devoutly thankful that he had not exchanged the
peaceful amenities of Denmark Hill for the menage and menagerie of
At Rossetti's Ruskin must often have met Swinburne, whom, how-
ever, he knew already through Lady Trevelyan. Among Ruskiifs
papers there is, in the poet's hand, a copy of a song which after-
wards appeared in Poenis and Ballads, It was sent to Ruskin with
the following letter, which I am permitted to print :
"22A DORSET STREET, PORTMAN SQUARE,
"Aug. 11 .
" MY DEAR RUSKIN, I send you the song you asked for, finding that I
can remember it after dinner. Nevertheless it has given me far more
labour to recollect and transcribe than it did originally to compose. But
your selection of it as a piece of work more satisfactory than usual gave
me so much pleasure that I was determined to send it when I could.
" Since writing the verses (which were literally improvised and taken
down on paper one Sunday morning after breakfast) I have been told more
than once, and especially by Gabriel Rossetti, that they were better than
the subject. Three or four days ago I had the good fortune to be able to
look well over the picture which alone put them into my head, and came
to the conclusion which I had drawn at first, that whatever merit my song
may have, it is not so complete in beauty, in tenderness and significance,
in exquisite execution and delicate strength as Whistler's picture. Whistler
himself was the first critic who so far overpraised my verse as to rank it
above his own painting. I stood up against him for himself, and will, of
course, against all others.
" I am going to take Jones (unless I hear from Whistler to the contrary)
on Sunday next in the afternoon to W.'s studio. I wish you could accom-
pany us. Whistler (as any artist worthy of his rank must be) is of course
desirous to meet you, and to let you see his immediate work. As (I think)
he has never met you, you will see that his desire to have it out with you
face to face must spring simply from knowledge and appreciation of your
own works. If this meeting cannot be managed, I must look forward to
the chance of entrapping you into my chambers on my return to London.
If I could get Whistler, Jones, and Howell to meet you, I think we
might so far cozen the Supreme Powers as for once to realise a few not
"Yours very sincerely,
" A. C. SWINBURNE."
The song in the poet's hand is "Before the Mirror: Verses written
under a Picture. Inscribed to J. A. Whistler." 1 In the same envelope
Ruskin preserved a copy (in some other hand) of " Itylus, 1863,"
another of the pieces which haunt the memory of every reader of
Poems and Ballads. The publication of the volume in 1866 caused,
among self-appointed censors of morals, a commotion, now not very
easy to understand. Ruskin, as will be seen from a letter in this
volume (p. 521), approved Mr. W. M. Rossetti's defence. He himself
had been appealed to by private friends to remonstrate with the young
author on the error of daring ways. He was not usually averse from
reading moral lectures, but he utterly declined the presumption of
endeavouring to set rules and limits to the genius of his friend. Two
letters may here be quoted as the tribute of one of the Victorian
masters of prose to a compeer among the Victorian masters of verse:
"(14 Sept. '66.) He is infinitely above me in all knowledge and
power, and I should no more think of advising or criticising him
than of venturing to do it to Turner if he were alive again."
"(17 Sept. '66.) As for Swinburne not being my superior, he is
simply one of the mightiest scholars of his age in Europe knows
Greek, Latin, and French as well as he knows English can write
splendid verse with equal ease in any of the four languages knows
nearly all the best literature of the four languages as well as I
know well better than I know anything. And in power of
imagination and understanding simply sweeps me away before him
as a torrent does a pebble. I'm righter than he is so are the
lambs and the swallows, but they're not his match."
Mr. Swinburne did not long stay with Rossetti in Cheyne Walk,
and Ruskin's visits were soon to cease. That Ruskin and Rossetti
would in the end fall out was inevitable. For one thing, Rossetti, in
the period of his life which succeeded the death of his wife, quarrelled
with most of his old friends. For another thing, Ruskin was didactic
and Rossetti impatient. Rossetti was not deliberately assertive; but
1 The MS. shows a few small variations from the printed text.
his personality fascinated most men who came under his spell; he was
accustomed to speak, and to have his words accepted without question.
It was from Ituskin alone among his friends that he heard unfavourable
criticism. A rift in the lute is discernible in a letter as early as I860
(pp. 342-343). In the later letters of the series (1865), the rupture is
declared. Rossetti, whose suspiciousness of his friends was soon to
become a form of mania, was aggrieved by reports which reached him,
and which he did not stop to verify, that drawings by himself and his
wife were being sold by Ruskin. On his side, Ruskin was out of
sympathy with the new, and more voluptuous, development of Rossetti's
art, and loudly intolerant of his technical faults (p. 489). Rossetti
renewed his complaints about Ruskin's disposal of his drawings ; Ruskin
retorted with pungent remarks on Rossettrs associates (p. 491). Rossetti,
it is clear, while maintaining his own opinions, still wrote kindly, and
even affectionately. But the bond of sympathy was broken. "We
cannot at present be companions any more, 1 ' 1 wrote Ruskin, " though
true friends, I hope, as ever 11 (p. 493). So Ruskin wrote in 1865,
and for a while the friendship was kept in being. " Ruskin called on
Gabriel on Wednesday,"" says Mr. W. M. Rossetti in his diary for
December 7, 1866, " and all went off' most cordially, Ruskin expressing
great admiration of the ' Beatrice in a Death-trance. 1 " l This was the
" Beata Beatrix 11 bought, perhaps at Ruskin's suggestion, by his friend
Mrs. Cowper-Temple, and now in the National Gallery by her bequest.
In 1868 Ruskin sought, we are told, to enlist Rossetti's co-operation
" in efforts for social amelioration on a systematic scale " ; 2 the actual
suggestion was probably that Rossetti should join the Committee on
the Unemployed, in which, as other letters of the period show, Ruskin
was deeply interested (pp. 558, 559). This, however, was not at
all in Rossetti's line, and the two friends hereafter met seldom, if
at all. They continued, however, occasionally to correspond, and
remained on perfectly friendly terms. Ruskin showed " kind and un-
assuming generosity " to an Italian friend of Rossetti, 3 and " there
is a letter from Ruskin to Rossetti, as late as August 1870, perfectly
amicable, and including a reference to the Poems then published." 4
The break in their personal intercourse in no way affected Ruskin's
appreciation of his friend's genius. In The Three Colours of Pre-
Raphaelitism, written in 1878, he mentioned many of Rossetti's pictures
as " of quite imperishable power and value, as also many of the
1 Itossetti Papers, p. 199. - Memoir of I). <i. Koxsi'Ui, vol. i. p. 262.
3 Jloxttetti Pa/tern, p. 301. * Memoir, vol. i. p. 263.
poems to which he gave up part of his painter's strength. 1 ' 1 Ruskin's
references to Rossetti in The Art of England (1883) show how warmly
he cherished the memory of his friend ; 2 and Mr. Hall Caine, who saw
much of Rossetti in his later years, tells me that he never spoke of
Ruskin but with gratitude and loyalty. In Prceterita, Ruskin had
intended to speak of Rossetti more fully, but a short characterisation
alone was written. " He was really," says Ruskin, " not an English-
man, but a great Italian tormented in the Inferno of England ; doing
the best he could ; but the * could ' shortened by the strength of his
animal passions, without any trained control, or guiding faith." 3 What
he thus spoke of the dead, he had said in effect to his friend, in one
of the letters in this Collection. " I don't say you do wrong, because
you don't seem to know what is wrong, but just to do whatever you
like as far as possible as puppies and tomtits do" (p. 226).
Of the friendship between Ruskin and Rossetti a friendship which
forms not the least interesting episode in the personal history of English
art and literature during the last century there is a memorial at
Oxford in the shape of Rossetti's portrait of Ruskin. Rossetti was
to have painted his portrait for their common friend, Professor Norton. 4
This was never done, but the portrait in red chalk, here reproduced
(Plate B), was made in 1861.
A name familiar to all readers of books about Rossetti and his
circle is that of Charles Augustus Howell, to whom several letters
in this Collection are addressed. Howell was a man of many parts
and adventures. He was born of an English father in Portugal, his
mother being a Portuguese lady of title, a direct descendant, it
appears, of Boabdil il Chico, or as members of the Rossetti circle
preferred to call him, " the cheeky." He had in his youth, as he
used to tell, supported his mother and sisters by diving for trea-
sures in a sunken galleon. He had lived in Morocco as sheik of an
Arab tribe. He was at various times in his later years picture-
dealer, member of the London School Board, and owner of a stud of
race-horses. His adventures lost nothing in his telling of them, and
Ford Madox Brown calls him " the Munchausen of the Pre-Raphaelite
Circle." 5 Ruskin's mother, a shrewd judge of character, used to give to
some of his relations a shorter name. 6 He was a man of remarkable
i Vol. XXXIV. p. 168. 2 Vol. XXXIII. p. 270.
3 See Vol. XXXV. p. 486. 4 See below, pp. 311, 329, 335, 405, 497.
5 See the Life of Ford Mado.r Brown, by F. M. Hueffer, pp. 286-288.
6 See Vol. XIX. p. xxxvii. To the region of romance may be ascribed a
wonderful story about Ruskin recorded by Mr. W. M. Rossetti in his diary, from
Howell's relation, in Rossetti Paper*, p. 334.
assiduity, address, and humour. He fascinated alike Rossetti and
Ruskin. By Ruskin he was employed for some years as private secre-
tary, factotum, and almoner. It is in this capacity that we meet
him in the characteristic series of Ruskin's Letters to which allusion
has been made in a previous volume, 1 and which may here be read
(pp. 502 seq.). Ruskiu presently found reason to cease relations with
his secretary, whose intimacy with Rossetti did not terminate, however,
till 1876. 2
Of the other two members of the original Pre-Raphaelite trio,
Millais was for a time Ruskin's close friend ; this chapter in his life
has already been told (Vol. XII. p. xix.). With Holman Hunt, Ruskin's
friendship, formed at the same time, was enduring, though the painter's
long absences in the East, and perhaps some other things, caused
interruptions. We have heard, however, in a previous volume, how
instantly the old friends returned to the old terms, on the occasion
of a chance meeting at Venice in 1869. Letters in the Collection 3
show how familiar and affectionate those terms were, and in one
written to Ruskin on his eightieth birthday Mr. Hunt speaks of his
" life continuing friendship," and of his home as one in which " as
much as in any you are continually remembered and spoken of with
It was through Rossetti that Ruskin made one of the dearest
friendships of his life. Edward Burne-Jones, and the set to which
he belonged as an Oxford undergraduate, were enthusiastic readers of
Ruskin's books. " Above all things," wrote Burne-Jones to a friend,
"I recommend you to read him; he will do you more good in twenty
chapters than all the mathematics ever written 11 ; and, so again, of the
second volume of Stones of Venice, " his style is more wonderful than
ever ; there never was such mind and soul so fused through language
yet."" 4 Presently he found some occasion for writing to Ruskin. "I'm
not E. C. B. Jones now, I've dropped my personality," he wrote when
Ruskin had replied; "I'm a correspondent with Ruskin, and my future
title is 'the man who wrote to Ruskin and got an answer by return.'" 5
Burne-Jones came up to London to sit at the feet of Rossetti, and
Rossetti took him to see Ruskin. "Just come back from being with
our hero for four hours," he wrote " so happy we've been : he is so
1 Vol. XVIII. pp. xlviii.-xlix.
2 Sue W. M. Rossetti's L>. G. liossetti, Letter* and Memoir, vol. i. pp. 349, 350.
3 See, for instance, Vol. XXXVII. pp. 438, 544, 562.
4 Memorials of Edu-ard Hume-Jones, by G. B.-J., 1904, vol. i. pp. 79, 85.
* IIM., p. 127.
i 1 1 K ii s k in
1 S ( J I .
kind to us, calls us his dear boys and makes us feel like such old, old
friends. . . . Oh ! he is so good and kind better than his books, which
are the best books in the world." l The affection was reciprocated, and
Ruskin from the first admired and encouraged the talent of the young
painter. Wherever he went, he was loud in the praise of his young
friend. " Jones, you are gigantic ! " he exclaimed in his enthusiastic
way, after looking at a design at Little Holland House. " The alli-
teration," we are told, " delighted the ear of Tennyson," and " Gigantic
Jones'" became a nickname. 2 In 1861 Burne-Jones married, and his
wife was added to the circle of Ruskin's friends. His first impression
of Lady Burne-Jones is given in a letter which Professor Norton has
printed (below, p. 367). Ruskin was godfather to their boy; and
they became his " dear children," or " Ned " and " Georgie." Ruskin's
parents, always a little suspicious and jealous at first of their son's
friends, speedily relaxed, and Burne-Jones and his wife became frequent
visitors at Denmark Hill. A reference to Burne-Jones's water-colour
of "Fair Rosamond," now at Brantwood, illustrates prettily the rela-
tions between Ruskin and his father. The old gentleman had bought
the drawing, without his son's knowledge ; but " I keep nothing long
from John," he wrote presently, and great was his joy when he found
that the drawing was a favourite with his son. "I'm pleased more
than you are," wrote Ruskin, when he heard what had happened, " that
my father likes Rosamond." 3 In 1862 Burne-Jones was threatened
with serious illness (p. 405). Ruskin decided that change of air and
scene was necessary, and carried the painter and his wife abroad with
him. Some notice of this journey has been given in a previous
volume, 4 and references to it occur in the letters. 5 "As for that same
Ruskin," Burne-Jones wrote of it, "what a dear he is; of his sweet-
ness, his talk, his look, how debonnaire to every one, of the nimbus
round his head and the wings to match, consult some future occasions
of talk.' 16 The designs for "Cupid and Psyche," made by the artist
a few years afterwards, were given to Ruskin in gratitude for his
hospitality on this foreign tour. Ruskin in his turn presented them
to Oxford " a precious gift," he said, " in the ratified acceptance
of which my University has honoured with some fixed memorial the
aims of her first Art-teacher." 7 Another plan which Ruskin carried
1 Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones, vol. i. p. 147.
2 Ibid., p. 182. Compare the Memoir of Tennyson, vol. i. p. 428.
3 See below, p. 439. 4 Vol. XVII. pp. Hi., liii.
5 See, e.g., Vol. XXXVII. pp. 578-9. 6 Memorial*, vol. i. p. 249.
7 The Three Colour* of Pre-Raphaditism, 26 n. (Vol. XXXIV. p. 173). For
Ruskin's note on the designs, see Vol. XXI. p. 140.
out, to his own content, and not less, it seems, to that of his friend,
was his introduction of Burne-Jones to the school-circle of The Ethics
of the Dust an episode which has already been mentioned. 1 This was
a time when Ruskin was passing through a phase of much despon-
dency and had banished himself to long periods of solitude among the
Savoy mountains. The letters which Burne-Jones wrote to him are
full of a beautiful and tender solicitude. 2 " Wouldn't cheery company
do you a little good?" he wrote in one of them. "How I wish you
were here in London. I feel so certain that you would be better for
a little sympathetic circle of men to see you sometimes. Gabriel
[Rossetti] sends much love to you ; I know how glad he would be if
you were amongst us ; a little three or four of us this winter might
be so quiet and happy if you would but come." 3 Ruskin did not at
that time come; but presently he returned home, and he "used still,"
says Lady Burne-Jones, "to fetch or send for us to Denmark Hill
to dine with him and his mother." 4 At other times he would go
to the artist's studio, and paint there.
The friendship between the two men, though it was not to be
broken, suffered at one time a certain change. Burne-Jones never lost
his personal affection for the man, but his attitude towards the critic
was greatly modified. It had been at first the attitude depicted in
one of his letters a prostrate admirer before an aureoled Presence.
Naturally this could not endure; and in 1871 we hear of Burne-Jones
writing to Professor Norton : " Ruskin, I see never and when I see him,
he angers me." And, again : " When we meet, he quarrels with my
pictures and I with his writing, and there is no peace between us and
you know all is up when friends don't admire each other's work." 5
But happily all was not up. Ruskin's heresies about Michael Angelo,
which were one cause of disagreement, were forgiven ; and the friends
were soon back on their old affectionate terms. In 1875 Burne-Jones
spent some happy hours with Ruskin at Oxford. In the Memorials
of the painter we are given glimpses, too, of Ruskin carrying off' his
friend to see Carlyle, and bringing Cardinal Manning to his studio.
The popular agitation upon the Eastern Question, the protest against
restorations in Venice, were occasions of public co-operation. A little
later, Burne-Jones gave a signal proof of his friendship in appearing
as a witness on Ruskin's side in the Whistler case. 6 The letters
to Ruskin were tenderly affectionate to the end, and often contained
1 See Vol. XVIK. pp. Ixiii. .\cr/. 2 See Vol. XVII. pp. Ixxiii.-lxxiv.
3 Memorials of Edward Hume-Jones, vol. i. p. 251. * //>>/., p. 300.
5 //////., vol. ii. pp. 17. 18. See Vol. XXIX. p. xxiv.
the amusing caricatures of which some examples have been printed in
the Memorials. One of them was endorsed by Ruskin "Ned's miracu-
lous portrait of himself." If Ruskin was in town and delayed coming
to call, Burne-Jones would write in humorous expostulation : " Ho !
very well ! but never mind ! Everybody has seen you but me every-
body. They say to me, ' Of course you've seen him.' I say Yes and
my expression is horrible and petrifying. Everybody has seen you
Tomkins Simpkins Robinson Parkins Gotto Marshall Snellgrove
Gladstone Fortnum Mason everybody in short but me. ... If
you don't make an appointment with me, all England shall hear of
it. But I am weak and shall forgive, I know." Ruskin's Prccterita
recalled many associations to Burne-Jones, who seldom let a chapter
appear without writing about it. " I wish," he said in one of such
letters, " I had lived with you always and that we had been monks
painting books and being always let off divine service because of
our skill in said painting. My dear, there has been nothing in my
life so sweet to look back upon as that journey to Milan twenty-five
years ago." Recollections of Burne-Jones were among the sweetest
that came to Ruskin also in the evening of his days, as we have
seen in the story of his "dear brother Ned."
With other artists Ruskin's relations were less close than with
Richmond, Rossetti, Holman Hunt, and Burne-Jones, but he was on
terms of friendship or acquaintance with many. Turner was his
friend, as well as the god of his idolatry. J. D. Harding had been
his drawing-master and travelling companion. He corresponded with
Clarkson Stanfield. Samuel Prout was a neighbour, as well as a friend ;
interesting letters to him and from him have been given in previous
volumes. 2 For old William Hunt he entertained a warm affection
and regard, as some letters to the artist's daughter are here to testify
These painters were of the circle which gathered at his father's table. 3
The issue of Academy Notes, and his vogue as the author of Modern
Painters, enlarged the circle. Through Robert Browning, as already
related, 4 Ruskin made the personal acquaintance of Leighton, whose
1 Vol. XXXV. p. xliii. One of Burne-Jones's latest messages to Euskin was
to send him a photograph of Philip Burne-Jones's portrait of himself inscribed
" To my beloved Oldie, this photograph of Phil's picture of a most ancient Ned.
June 1st, 1898." On June 17 he 'died.
2 To him, Vol. III. p. 662 ; from him. Vol. XXXV. p. 399. For letters to
Clarkson Stanfield, see Vol. VII. pp. li., liii.
3 See Vol. XXXIV. p. 98, and Praterita, Vol. XXXV. pp. 401, 402.
4 Vol. V. p. xlv.
talent he was among the first to acclaim. 1 Leighton, it is interesting
to know, was one of the young painters who had taken to heart the
injunction given to them in the first volume of Modern Painters; the
preparation for an historical painter must be, he felt, the faithful
study of nature. 2 He valued highly, as his letters show, Ruskin's
criticism of his pictures, though modestly disclaiming the more enthu-
siastic of the praise. Ruskin had written in 1864 of " the development
of what he calls 'enormous power and sense of beauty." 1 " Leighton
did not deny that he had some sense of beauty, but " I have not" he
wrote, " and never shall have enormous power. 11 3 Ruskin was " in one
of his queer moods," he writes at another time (1861), "when he
came to breakfast with me he spent his time looking at my port-
folio and praised my drawings most lavishly he did not even look at
the pictures. However, nothing could be more cordial than he is to
me." 4 The letters included in this Collection contain Ruskin's criti-
cisms of some of his pictures of 1863 (pp. 445-44-7), while others