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have the face to send it, but you know you asked me once to write
you a sort of account of the things that made me, as you were
pleased to say, " what I am," which is at present an entirely puzzled,
helpless, and disgusted old gentleman.

As for things that have influenced me, I believe hard work, love
of justice and of beauty, good nature and great vanity, have done all
of me that was worth doing. I've had my heart broken, ages ago,
when I was a boy then mended, cracked, beaten in, kicked about old
corridors, and finally, I think, flattened fairly out. I've picked up
what education I've got in an irregular way and it's very little. I
suppose that on the whole as little has been got into me and out
of me as under any circumstances was probable ; it is true, had my
father made me his clerk I might have been in a fair way of becoming
a respectable Political Economist in the manner of Ricardo or Mill
but granting liberty and power of travelling and working as I chose,
I suppose everything I've chosen to have been about as wrong as
wrong could be. I ought not to have written a word ; but should
have merely waited on Turner as much as he would have let me,
putting in writing every word that fell from him, and drawing hard.
By this time, I might have been an accomplished draughtsman, a fair
musician, and a thoroughly good scholar in art literature, and in good
health besides. As it is, I've written a few second-rate books, which
nobody minds ; I can't draw, I can't play nor sing, I can't ride, I
walk worse and worse, I can't digest. And I can't help it. There !
Good-bye, love to your mother and sisters. Ever affectionately yours,




March, 1861.

DEAR ACLAND, I have the wave safe, it is very beautiful it seems
to me bettered in the near part, less tiny.

I'm so glad you like to have the Turner. 1 I fancied you would
like the Acropolis one, for old times'" sake at Athens. It is also the
best vignette I have ; though not as fine in colour as Turner usually
is ; very full of marvellous drawing, as you will see.

I have two, still Ashestiel and Linlithgow 2 kept for love of Scott,
and for my father, who likes Linlithgow, but both are bad ones. I
have still seven or eight first-rate body colours, small, which will serve
all my purpose of reference when I am myself at work.

Of those sent to Oxford the numbers 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 12, 18, 19, 21,
22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29 are entirely first-raters. 3 The 12 is as peculiar
as it is masterly, but its price is of course absurd. I wanted it a long
time, and at last got it from its possessor (Mrs. Cooper, wife of master
at St. Paul's 4 ) for 50 guineas, on the condition that she might claim
it again for the same sum when she chose. I didn't like the condition?
and offered her the sketch No. 9, for which I had given 40 guineas,
if she would give up Meuse finally. She accepted ; tired of the Yar-
mouth, which I ransomed for 30 the two drawings thus finally costing
me the one 80, the other 40, but I've marked the Meuse only 70, as
there was 10 guineas 1 worth of mere gift in the matter.

No. 17, though containing hardly half-an-hour's work, is so first-rate
that I would have given anything for it, and gave 50, but of course
in the market it would bring only 30 or 35. On the contrary, No. 1
and 2 would, I believe, each fetch from 100 to 120, and 3 and 4 at
least 100 each. No. 21 is the best of the Loire series, is priceless, and
24 nearly so. 28 and 29 entirely magnificent in their own quiet way.
35 is inferior, owing to a repentir in the left corner. Turner never
recovered after a repentir. 25 has two repentirs, if not more, one in
the sun, the other in the flags, but has high qualities here and there.
30 and 36 are full of repentirs and are entirely bad, but I sent them

1 ['Hie "wave" was a drawing by Acland ; the "Turner" a drawing lent or
given to him.]

2 [The "Ashestiel" Ruskin subsequently gave to Cambridge (Vol. XIII. p. .558).
The "Linlithgow'' was shown at the Fine Art Society in 1J/00 (ibid., p. 4.5(5).]

[These are the drawings (chiefly "Rivers of France") presented to Oxford in
18(51 : see Vol. XIII. pp. .551), 5(30. Unfortunately the numbers in the Oxford
Catalogue do not correspond with those in this letter. No. 12 (here) "Scene on
the Meuse" is No. 25 (there); No. !* (here) " Yarmouth " is No. 5 (there).]
4 [See Vol. XIII. p. 4(52.]




with the rest, lest it should be thought I had kept the two best
many people might think them so. They are instructive, as showing
the ruin that comes on the greatest^men when they change their minds

Let me hear you are better. Ever affectionately yours,

J. R.

P.S. The frames into which the drawings are to be put by the
people I've sent down are only temporary, being those they were in
here ; for public use they must have much stronger and better ones.
Williams will tell you about the National Gallery cases and give you
all the information necessary for determining the arrangement.

Yes, if the Oxford people would put up with a thistly teacher, it
is possible to get one useful enough.

Prices paid by me, for the drawings sent to Taylor Gallery,
March 12th, 1861 :

No. of

Price in

No. of

Price in

No. of
































Price in

No. of


Price in

. 15
. 20

2220 g.


[WINNING-TON] Tuesday [March, 1861].

It certainly worries me very much to have this invitation from the
Palmerstons just now not because I want to stay here, but because I
give great pleasure by staying and because I don't want to go tJiere. 1
Nor would it, I fancy, be good for me. I am but just recovering a
little energy and breath ; to-day and yesterday are the first days I
have been able to join in the games with anything like force or
pleasure, and they all notice Mr. Cooke 2 and his sister with great

1 [For Ruskin's account of his visits to Lord Palmerston at Broadlands, see
Praeterita, Vol. XXXV. pp. 504-5.]

2 [The Rev. S. H. Cooke, rector of Btidworth, near Northwich : see Vol. XVIII.
p. Ixvii.]


anxiety that jaded, bilious look in the face. Miss Cooke thought I
must be threatened with disease of the heart, and spoke almost with
tears in her eyes to me about minding what I was about in time she
is herself a sufferer from heart disease. It is terribly hard work, that
talking among people at Broadlands; and the children here will have
their Easter holidays quite spoiled for they don't play with half the
fire and romp when I'm not among them. All my lecture diagrams 1
will be broken, and unfinished, and I shan't get even my lecture well
prepared, for I had just set aside this week of quiet forenoons to do
it in. However, if you are really set upon it, give me four more of
Griffith's or Mrs. Cooper's sketches 2 (which will, I suppose, be soon in
the market) for the four days I lose and I'll leave on Thursday,
call at Chepstow to see what it is like, and go on to Broadlands on
Friday morning, and come up to town with them on Monday. Two
whole days is enough for anybody at these great houses. I write to
Mr. Cowper 3 saying I don't think I can come, but that if I can I'll
telegraph on Thursday and arrive on Friday.

You needn't think I'm in love with any of the girls here, and get
me out of it therefore Kosie's my only pet. But I get thorough
romps and rest here ; and there were a cluster of new girls when I
came, who did not quite get over their shyness till a day or two ago ;
so that the games are ten times as good as they were and it's a great
pity to spoil their holiday, for they'll just give up their plays and
go to sauntering and reading when I'm gone. And besides I don't
think it is the least necessary to accept every invitation one gets from
that kind of people. They'll think twice as much of me if I don't
go this time, and ask me again all the sooner.

You had much better take me at my word, and let me stay here
as I intended till Monday; after Monday I can't stay, positively, as
I've got to examine things, at the Geological Society ; so you'll have
me home on Monday evening (D. T.) either way, positively.

If you make up your mind to-morrow morning about this, send
me telegram what I'm to do.

It's very tiresome the way people notice my face now. A lady, the
mother of one of the girls, was dining here to-day, and I had no
sooner gone out of the room than she asked Miss Bell if I had heart
disease Miss Bell told me, because she thinks herself I don't attach
enough importance to the matter. To-morrow about religion, etc.

1 [The lecture on "Tree Twigs" given at the Royal Institution on April 10:
printed in Vol. VII. p. 4(>7.]

1 [By Turner ; for Mr. Griffith, see Prieteritn, Vol. XXXV. p. 1257.]

I liv l u
[Mr. \\

'illiani (Anvper (Temple).]



\FINNINOTON, 5 April, 1861.

MY DEAR SIR JOHN, I have only received your letter this morning,
and hasten to thank you. It is a very serious piece of comfort to me
to receive such a letter; though I do not think it would be right to
trouble you with any account of the sort of despondency which renders
it so valuable to me (valuable as it must have been at any time chiefly
now), because I know that this discouragement depends much on mere
disturbance of health, and will, if I can get such disturbance ended,
in large measure pass away : but for the present it is not less difficult
to bear because I know it to be unreasonable; and as one form of it
consists in dislike of my own writing drawing doing of whatever
kind, it is a marvellous lightening of it to hear of nice people who
disagree with me in this particular.

Indeed I will write to you, not only in answer to such kind letters
as this, but to tell you how I am "getting on," which (you see what
frank trust I put in you already) you will like to know, after these
grumblings. My hope is to be able to get to Switzerland and to pass
some time in entirely practical geology, taking my thoughts off all
difficult or distressing subjects and forcing me to climb up and run
down a few thousand feet of crag every day. I will write to tell
you, if I can manage this ; and if I can get myself into healthy trim
at all, I will Avrite again to ask you and Lady Naesmyth. At present
I am so lifeless and senseless that I can't bear anybody to see or hear
me. Please don't say to any one that I may be in Switzerland this
year be strict about this, for I don't want to come across common
acquaintances when I am among the Alps.

It is a great pleasure to me that you like the fifth volume. I feared
there were things in it which might give great pain to many of my
friends, from their being left in an imperfectly hinted form, which
might perhaps be taken to mean more harm than good : and yet it
was impossible for me in the space or time, or with the knowledge I
had, to develop them more.

If I go to Switzerland I shall be somewhere about the St. Gothard
or lake of Thun, I fancy, but could come to meet you almost any-

I've begun my relaxation by a fortnight's very pleasant form of
play. Wilmington or more properly Winnington Hall is a young
ladies' school in which mistress and pupils are and have been for some
years back, in various ways, helpers and scholars of mine. I always


spend a day or two here when I pass north or south. The house is in
a large park, sloping down to winding river; meadows and sandstone
hills beyond. The children, having room to run wild, are as active as
hares, and run, or dance, or ball-play me out of breath all day long ;
all day at least in these Easter holidays, for they can work in due
time. They made the Index to the fifth volume, 1 unhelped by me, and
it was much better as they sent it me than it is now the painters
and revisers spoiled it by trying to shorten : the girls were very angry
about it, and I think they would go and print it themselves if they
could get a press like the London workwomen.

How one feels the cwrent of human life in such a place the child
of last year is the woman of this ; and the faces seem to change almost
from day to day it is like a dream. I have very happy evenings
when it is fine; they sing for me in choir, leaving the windows open,
and I can walk away under the quiet trees and hear the clear young
voices ever so far. I'll write again in a fortnight or so. Pray thank
Lady Naesmyth for letting you tell me about her; and believe me
ever gratefully yours, J. RUSKIN.


[DENMARK HILL. 18G1 ? 3/oj/.]

DEAR (I had nearly written Bear) ROSSETTI, I'm so delighted with
the book : I opened at those sonnets about the year, and have been
rambling on all the forenoon. I'm so much obliged about the picture
and will settle about [it] directly, but you must really give me
Norton's to send to him. I'll bring your sister's poems to-morrow.
Ever affectionately yours, J. RUSKIN.

Love to Ida. I like the "inscription" so much.

To Professor RICHARD OWEN, F.R.S. 3

DENMARK HILL, May 12th, 1861.

DEAR PROFESSOR OWEV, How often have I been coming to find
you, to thank you for your kindness, and every day passed and I
could not, and still put off writing, and at last got laid by with

' [See above, p. J520.]

1 [From Ruxkin, Roxsetti, and Pre-Raphaeliti#m, pp. 273-274. "The book " is
The Knrl;/ Italian Ports, published in 1!5(>] (see the Introduction, above, p. xlvi.).
"Those sonnets about the year" are the series written by Fol^ore da San
(Jemignano: see pp. .'W.)-38;} in the ed. of 1874.]

' [N'o. y<! in Letters to Various Correspondents, pp. 100, 101.]


cold. And now I must forthwith get across the water, and shall not
see you till my return. I have always, however, a dim feeling that the
best expression of thanks is to give you no trouble that I can help,
even in reading a note. So I will only say in briefest terms that you
made me very happy, and that of all this long winter in London,
there will remain few things to me so pleasant to remember as the
walk in the park ; the pleasant dinner with its pretty pause of hospi-
tality ; and the reading of Vivien. I wish I could hear the lectures
on the Birds. But I am ordered to migrate instantly: with some
hope, however, of return in the summer. I've got some work about
fresco to do in Italy, 1 which may make me long for a sea breeze
and a green field. Remember me gratefully to Mrs. Owen and heartily
to your son. And believe me, ever faithfully and respectfully yours,


RICHARD OWEN, Esq., etc., etc., etc.

I can't fancy any "titles" that are not impertinences.


13th May [1861].

DEAR MRS. BROWNING, I have your letter this morning, and answer
it before I do anything else, it being a great comfort to me. I am
fighting through all kinds of doubt and wonder ; and have no strength
cannot look things in the face they come instead and grimace at me.
What a strange thing that was of Newman to say I wonder it
" struck " you. To me it seems very weak and foolish in this respect)
that if a man has seen no hand of God on nations till he is (fifty ?)
years old, that which he sees and supposes to be such, in the last
two years, must logically bear only the character of a coincidence ;
not of an evidence. If any person had treated him unkindly or neglected
him, for forty years, and suddenly appeared to observe, or be kind
to, him in the last two, would he not assume either that the char-
acter was changed, or since in the case before us that is impossible
that the last appearances were deceptive ? But the idea of looking
for God's hand in that sense in dealing with nations or with any-
thing is in the very outset absurd ; immeasurably, infinitely absurd.
You cannot tell ichy God acts, unless you could see not only the
Hearts and minds of every man in the nation, hear every one of their
prayers, know all their temptations, and, much more, know all God's

1 [Xot actually undertaken till 1862 : see Vol. XVII. p. liii.]


final purposes respecting them. What seems to you good may be
evil, and vice versa. What seems to you the punishment and reward
of this or that is in reality the punishment and reward of things
you never knew nor heard of things that happened in the Abyss of
time. God's laics you can trace. His Providence Never. If you
could, you would share in that Providence you would be seeing with
God's eyes. But His laws that courage and chastity and honesty
arid patience bring out good ; and cowardice and luxury and folly
and impatience, evil, in their exact and unfailingly measured measure
this is written in letters of Gold and Blood and Tombstone-moss,
on the foreheads and the Skull-foreheads of all nations that march
or moulder, on this earth. I am stunned palsied utterly helpless
under the weight of the finding out the myriad errors that I have
been taught about these things; every reed that I have leant on
shattering itself joint from joint I stand, not so much melancholy
as amazed I am not hopeless, but I don't know what to hope for.
I have that bitter verse pressing me, "I am a worm, and no man." 1
What is a worm to hope for? to keep out of the spade's edgeway
and crawl its time in the twilight, while the great Providence lights
all the stars in their Courses. 2 Many a year ago I wrote this verse : 3

" God guides the stars their wandering way,

He seems to cast their courses free,
Yet binds them to Himself for aye,
And all their chains are charity ! "

I saw the terrible Seeming then ; the charity I see still but not
the Form of it in this time or that ; for this person or that. And
you can't conceive how lonely I am in all this and in more than
this. All my old religious friends are casting me off; or, if they
speak, their words are as the brass and the cymbal. 4 I am ill, and
can't work at things. I have fallen back into the physical sciences,
but they are hard and cold, and I don't care about them, but am
resolved to master my geology thoroughly, and I'm thinking of buying
a little bit of ground, enough to grow currant bushes and red daisies
in, somewhere in Switzerland, 5 and going and living cottage life, walk-
ing and digging, till I've recovered tone of mind ; or making it my
home for I've a horrible feeling just now of having no home. I
shouldn't mind though it were ever so little a one, if only I had one.

I'.salms xxii. C.]

Judges v. 20.]

In 1B42, see Vol. II. p. 212: Ruskin quotes not quite as lie wrote.]

1 Corinthians xiii. 1.]

See, on these schemes, Vol. XVII. pp. xxii. xxiii.]


So you are hopeful about Italy. I neither hope nor fear. I don't
know what God means to do for Europe for India for America.
Italy is but sounding a solitary trumpet tone; I know not whether
she be " Death's angel," the trump an inch from off his lips, which
the next moment shall put out the Sun. Sun indeed ! much sun
spiritual we have on this earth to put out ! ! an Iron Sun. You know
they've just found out that the sun's made half of iron the greatest
physical science discovery, out and out, since Newton's time perhaps
the greatest of all time in its issues.

Photograph of me indeed ! You shan't have anything of the kind.
I can't conceive why I'm so ugly, but I am so ugly the sun says so.
If I get a little strong again I'll let Munro or some other falsifying
friend make me in clay, and put in the little good which that tire-
some iron sun won't, though I know it's there (x) in spite of this
ugliness but the ugliness must be razed down a little before it can
be seen (x) it must be there ; because I know that, not merely in
great human causes, but even to make anybody else very happy, I
shouldn't mind anything that happened to myself. And so Kobert
has made Cytherea in clay. 1 I've been trying to draw her, so hard,
but couldn't. It's very odd we (there's conceit for you !) should take
the same fancy together, but alas ! I've astonished no learned people,
no one but poor myself, to find how little I can do. I've given up
in despair for the time and gone back to the stones. Tell me always
when to write to you. I'm going to write often now. 2 Dear love
to you both. My father and mother send all thanks and regards.
There's actually not a word of Penini for my mother ! Ever affection-
ately yours, J. R.



DEAR DR. BROWN, I return the book so quickly that at first you
may think I haven't read it, but I have, though not to my mother.
Both she and I are somewhat melancholy people, never in the common
sense of the word " low " or " out of spirits," but never " high," and

1 [" Robert has brought me home a most perfect copy," Mrs. Browning wrote
to Miss Browning (May 11, 18G1), "of a small torso of Venus from the Greek
in the clay. It is wonderfully done, say the learned. He says 'all his happiness
lies in clay now"' (Letters of Elisabeth Barrett Browning, vol. ii. p. 443). Ruskin
at this time was drawing from the figure : see Vol. XVII. p. xxxvi.]

2 [But Mrs. Browning died on June 29, six weeks after the date of this letter.]

3 [No. 8 of "Letters of Ruskin" in Letters of Dr. John Brown, 1907, pp. 294-
295. The "book" was Rab, of which an illustrated edition appeared in the follow-
ing year.]


not easily recovering spring after depression. You, with wife and
children and friends, can easily witness, not without noble compassion,
but without more than passing sorrow, what I, having no such sources
of happiness springing beside me day by day, cannot even read of
without a dead loss of energy and health from which I don't recover
for a week. I never read sad stories, " not if I know it," and you
have written this one much too well and forcibly to admit of my
reading it twice. But touching the illustrations there can be no
doubt, I think, line engraving or woodcut, nothing that ends in
" graph " of any sort whatsoever. The best woodcutting of the day
is better than line engraving in general ; to be good, line engraving
must be very costly. I should like costly line engraving best, but
I doubt the courage of any publisher to pay boldly enough, and
cheap line engraving is the worst of all things, worse even than the

The tale is beautifully written and will do good. But to me it has
only done this much harm, given me one more melancholy associa-
tion, like a real one, with the Pentlands.


Sunday, 2nd June, 1861.

DEAR NORTON, I am so very grateful to Miss Agassiz, it is so
nice of her. 2 I do not know anything about these things. If I get
strength again to go on with leaves, I will begin with this letter of
hers and try to work on. I've been so uncomfortable I never have had
the heart to write to you. I set to work really the day I wrote, to
choose your missal leaves, 3 and could not please myself some were not
of nice psalms, nor some of nice letters and so it wasn't done and
wasn't sent, and all's wrong, and I don't know what to do now ; but
truly hope to send the leaves, taken at random (for I shall never be
able to choose) to-morrow, and to abuse Kossetti into sending your
drawing; never were such wicked, good-for-nothing people as he and
I. I stayed at home, as I told you I should, and drew, till I found
finally it was of no use to draw ; I never shall draw well. Then I

1 [No. 2(1 in Norton; vol. i. pp. 109-11.3.]

1 ["In the last volume of Modern Painters Kuskin had written of the arrange-
ment of leaves on the stem. Since its publication the late C'hauncey Wright had
worked out the principle. Miss Agassiz, at my request, made some drawings to
illustrate it, which I was glad to send to Ruskin, with her explanatory letter. "-
C. E. N.]

3 [See above, p. .'350.]


tried to find out where I was in geology and the sciences leaning on
it, and I'm reading in a sick, careless way ; the first books I opened
of the modern writers showing me that I never now could recover the
lost ground of the last twenty years so as to know anything thoroughly.
Then I got a cough and fell ill and so remain not caring much
about it, though I know I ought to care, nor having the heart to go

Online LibraryJohn RuskinThe works of John Ruskin (Volume 36) → online text (page 50 of 74)