BOULOGNE, 3rd August, '01.
DEAR MR. SHIELDS, I have not been ill but idle at least, I was
ill when I wrote you last, and have been resting since. The photo
(Vanity Fair) arrived quite safely, but I have not been able to attend
to any business since and really getting this drawing engraved is no
small piece of business. I expect my assistant from London soon now,
and will consult with him, and write to you.
Nothing can be more womierful than the drawing, but I think
your conception of Christian false Christian was no Puritan. I con-
sider Puritanism merely Pachydermatous Christianity, apt to live in
1 [SSi-o above, p. 359 n.]
1861] HINTS ON READING 377
mud. The Christ in Mercy fainting, I think a failure also, but it is
almost impossible in rude outline to give beautiful expression. You
need study among the higher Italians. You have been too much
among the Northerners. Ever yours faithfully, J. RUSKIN. x
To GEORGE ALLEN
BOULOGNE, August 4, 1861.
MY DEAR ALLEN, I shall not be up for a fortnight yet, but it
does not matter ; go on with Geneva 2 as you say. What was it that
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upset you ? Reading for education consists mainly in reading attentively
and only what you wish permanently to know or remember. Never
pass a word, if you can help it, without understanding it, and all
.about it. Read always with maps, if possible, when you read about
places, and leave the book at every sentence if necessary to hunt
down a difficulty. What does Punjaub mean? Where is the district?
How large ? Bunnoo 3 where ? Afghanistan where ? and so on.
What is a " Sikh " how are Sikhs armed what is the origin of their
race? etc., etc. Indian money a rupee how much? a lac of rupees
how much? origin of word rupee? Pronunciation of it? Half a
page read this way is worth more than half a volume read for
.amusement. Always affectionately yours, J. R.
To DANTE GABRIEL RossETTi 4
[DENSIARK HILL. 1861 ? August. ,]
MY DEAR ROSSETTI, I was very glad to hear from you, and will
certainly recommend Mr. Flint's executors if I am referred to by
them to act for their own or the estate's interest as you propose.
1 [The book with the designs by Mr. Shields was published later in the year
by Messrs. Ireland & Co., to whom Ruskin wrote (30th November 1861): "1 have
just received the copy of the Pilgrim's Progress with Mr. Shields's illustrations,
which you favoured me by forwarding'. I have not seen anything at all approach-
ing these designs in power or originality in any modern illustrated work that I
remember. Will you please set aside six copies with good impressions and I will
take them and settle account for all the seven when I am in Manchester, as I
hope to be next week?"]
2 [See above, p. 281 ??.]
3 [Ruskin, it is clear, had been reading Herbert Edwardes' Year on the Punjab
Frontier (published 18(51), which he afterwards re-edited under the title A Knighfs
Faith: see Vol. XXXI.]
* [From Ruskin, Rossetti, and Pre-Raphaelitism, p. 288 (No. 66). Mr. Flint, of
Leeds, one of Rossetti's patrons, had unexpectedly died ; he had advanced several
378 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [isbi
But I hope somebody will soon throw you into prison. We will have
the cell made nice, airy, cheery, and tidy, and you'll get on with
your work gloriously. Love to Ida. Ever affectionately yours,
I will not mention your name. I should recommend the arrange-
ment you propose entirely in their interest.
To LADY NAESMYTH
LLANGOLLEN, N.W., 22nd August.
DEAR LADY NAESMYTH, I have been waiting for a cheerful day
when I might write to you. I have your last kind letter, and am
so very glad you are going to Venice, though I cannot now, as I
could once have clone, rejoice in the privilege of being your guide
there. All my favourite pictures have been, I believe, "restored. 11 I
suppose there is no untouched Titian left, so that I cannot say now
"Look at that till you like it" any more. Nay, I am not sure that
obedience. to such direction is the shortest or safest way of learning.
I believe looking at just that which we ourselves enjoy, in an earnest
and progressive way, is the true way to get on, as well as to be happy
in seeing. Titian's Assumption was once the noblest picture in Kosmos, 1
as far as human creatures know it. But I hear there is more of
cosmetic than of Kosmos in it now. If you mention my name to
Mr. Lorenzi in St. Mark's Library, he will find my Stones of Venice
for you there ; and if you glance at the account of the Scuola di San
llocco in the Venetian Index 2 it will help you with Tintoret. Don't
go to Torcello. I made more fuss about it than it is worth. 3 The
John Bellini in San Zaccaria is the best I know, and it is better to
study him by that and the picture in the Frari than by any in the
Read the chapter on Tombs in The Stones of Venice (it is in the third
volume under either Roman Renaissance or Grotesque Renaissance I
hundred pounds on account of work commissioned, much of which Rossetti had
not even put in hand. The executors were pressing for delivery ; and Rossetti
solicited Kuskin's good offices in inducing them either to wait or to accept other
finished works. For further particulars, see I>. <!. R>>mtrtti : hi* Family Lett I'm, with
a Memoir, vol. ii. p. 1<>7, and H. ('. Marillier's A'imr/7/, p. 104.]
1 (An opinion, however, which Ruskin afterwards modified: see Vol. XXIV.
See now Vol. XI. pp. 403-428.]
In ch. ii. of vol. ii. of The Stones: see Vol. X. pp. 17 *<?7.]
[Compare Vol. XI. p. S~l) and n.]
isei] THE WELSH MOUNTAINS 879
forget which 1 ) the study of Venetian feeling as manifested in them is
It is quite safe and very enjoyable to fasten your gondola without
its felze to a fishing-boat stern, and be butterflied along the long
lagoon channels on a breezy day.
Give yourself time for Verona. It is very lovely.
I am a little better than I was, having been mackerel fishing at
Boulogne; the sea air, and steering, refresh one wonderfully in rough
seas. Still Fm far from right, and mean to persevere in uttermost
idleness. I'm going into Ireland for a day or two to see my little
child-pet, Rosie ; and what I shall do next I have no conception. What-
ever she teazes me into doing, I suppose, but I don't mean to be sent
to her horrible "west coast" if I can help it, and I think rather of
coming to Switzerland for the fall of the leaf. Would you be likely
to be returning towards the end of September ? If I come, I shall
probably come straight to Interlachen first, and perhaps stay there at
all events after mid September, a note there is likely to find me.
I've put off and off writing this, always intending to write you
a nice letter. But I find these Welsh mountains duller than the
sea, and have no talk in me. I work at natural history, slowly, but
it is very dreadful. The immeasurable Wisdom the Merciless laws
the perpetual misery, mystery, misunderstanding the fathomless abyss
of time and space one feels every day more and more like a poor
weary bee I saw yesterday on the top of a thistle, half dead and
falling off the flower into the spikes, and nobody caring for it. Only
a stonechat ready to eat it, and shorten its pain.
I shall be saying something more comfortable still if I don^t stop.
Comfortable or not, I shall always be to Sir John and you, your
faithful and grateful J. RUSKIX.
A note to Post Office, Bangor, would be likely to find me soon.
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 2
HOLYHEAD, 20 August, 1861.
DEAR NORTON, Glad, and glad, and glad again have I been of
your letters though I do not answer them, because if I did, it would
make you sorry. This last, however, I must though but to say it is
1 [The tombs are described in both chapters: see Vol. XI. pp. 81-149.]
2 [Atlantic Monthly, July 1904, vol. 94, pp. 11-12. No. 28 in Norton; vol. u
880 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [is6i
impossible for me to come to America. 1 The one thing I need seems
to be, for the present, rest; and the power of slowly following some
branch of natural history or other peaceful knowledge ; not that natural
history is in one sense peaceful, but terrific; its abysses of life and
pain, of diabolic ingenuity, merciless condemnation, irrevocable change,
infinite scorn, endless advance, immeasurable scale of beings incom-
prehensible to each other, every one important in its own sight and
a grain of dust in its Creator's it makes me giddy and desolate
beyond all speaking; but it is better than the effort and misery of
work for anything human.
It is of no use for me to talk or hear talking as yet. What can
be said for good, I have for the most part well heard and thought of
no one much comforts me but Socrates. Is not this a glorious bit
of anti-materialism, summing nearly all that can be said : Et8u>s 5 yr/s
1 [On this invitation, Professor Norton received the following letter from
Ruskin's father :
" DENMARK HILL, 3 August, 1861. MY DEAR SIR, I have had the pleasure
to receive your most kind Letter of 10 July repeating an Invitation previously
sent to my Son, who will not fail to appreciate your friendship and to value, as
his Mother and I do, these marks of your continued remembrance and regard,
Remembrance and Regard which we well know to be mutual.
" Of his going to America we have neither spoken nor written to him, because
although we have both hoped and desired he might not have occasion to take any
long voyage during our Lives, our first thought now is for his Health, and if that
could be benefited it is not the crossing of the Atlantic nor the Sea of Troubles
raging on the other side of it, that would now dismay us. It is a most pleasing
feature in your Letter that no allusion to any political troubles is found in it. I
doubt not my Son has already answered your Letter and thanked you and family
for all your Kindness. He has been at Boulogne since 17 June, and is recovering
from the exhaustion complained of, and has got quite well of a severe cold which
he took with him. I am happy to say Dr. U r atson, his Physician, saw little the
matter with my Son, and his Mother and I have heard more of his being out of
Health from those to whom he has complained than from himself, which, however,
might arise from consideration for us.
" It seems to me to be as much a want of purpose as a want of Health. He
has done a good deal, but thinks he has done little, and all to little purpose.
"He was somewhat wearied with work, and I think is just beginning to get
wearied with want of work and with not exactly knowing what to turn to next,
but I should )>e sorry to see him begin another work till a pleasant and long
Tour and Journey or Voyage had recruited his frame and spirits. I never saw
him less than cheerful in society, and when Carlyle comes to see him, and with
some ladies, and a few favourite Children, his spirits are exuberant. He lias
promised to pay a visit to an interesting family, the I^atouches, near Dublin, but
the crowd following Majesty there may keep him back.
" Referring to his own letters, allow me to repeat my warmest acknowledgments
for your Kindness and for that of your family, in which Mrs. Ruskin joins, as
she does moreover in kindest regards to yourself, your Mother and Sisters. I
am, my dear Sir, yours very truly, JOHN JA.MKS HI/SKIN."
This letter was No. 27 in Norton; vol. i. pp. 1 14-116.]
1861] THE MYSTERY OF LIFE 381
OVTOS, . . . vow Se [j.6vov apa ov8ajj.ov oWa ere evTV\ws TTCOS SOKCIS crvvapTrdcrai ;
KCU TaSe TO. virepp-tyfOr] /cat TrAiJ^os aTretpa oY d(f>po(rvvr)v riva OUTWS oiei eirraKTw?
?X'v ; J (Memorabilia, i. 4, 8).
This is all well, but it is to me so fearful a discovery to find
how God has allowed all who have variously sought Him in the most
earnest way, to be blinded how Puritan monk Brahmin churchman
Turk are all merely names for different madnesses and ignorances;
how nothing prevails finally but a steady, worldly-wise labour com-
fortable resolute fearless full of animal life affectionate compas-
sionate. I think I see how one ought to live, now, but my own life
is lost gone by. I looked for another world, and find there is only
this, and that is past for me : what message I have given is all wrong :
has to be all re-said, in another way, and is, so said, almost too
terrible to be serviceable. For the present I am dead-silent. Our
preachers drive me mad with contempt if I ever read or listen to a
word ; our politicians, mad with indignation. I cannot speak to the
first any more than I could to pantaloons in a bad pantomime, or to
the last more than to lizards in a marsh. I am working at geology,
at Greek weakly patiently caring for neither; trying to learn to
write, and hold my pen properly reading comparative anatomy, and
gathering molluscs, with disgust.
I have been staying at Boulogne nearly two months. I went out
mackerel fishing, and saw the fish glitter and choke, and the sea foam
by night. I learned to sail a French lugger, and a good pilot at last
left me alone on deck at the helm in mid channel, with all sail set r
and steady breeze. 2 It felt rather grand ; but in fact would have been
a good deal grander if it had been nearer shore bat I am getting on,
if I don't get too weak to hold a helm, for I can't digest anything
I think. I tried Wales after that, but the moorland hills made me
melancholy, utterly. I've come on here to get some rougher sailing if
I can then I'm going over to Ireland for a day or two. . . . Then
I'm going straight to Switzerland, for the fall of the leaf; and what
next I don't know. There's enough of myself for you. . . . I'm so
glad you think hopefully about the war. It interests me no more
than a squabble between black and red ants. It does not matter
whether people are free or not, as far as I can see, till when free they
1 ["Knowing 1 that of earth and of water, both so plentiful, you have in your
body but a small portion, do you really think that mind is the one thing, exist-
ing nowhere else, which you have had the lucky chance to snatch up ? and that
all these mighty and countless things are thus kept in order by some senseless
a [For these experiences, see above, p. 374, and Vol. XVII. p. xxxvii. ; and For*
Clamgera, Letter 74 (Vol. XXIX. p. 51).]
382 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [is&i
know how to choose a master. 1 Write to me, please, Poste Restante,
Interlachen, Switzerland. I'm hoping to find out something of the
making of the Jungfrau, if the snows don't come too soon, and my
poor 42-year-old feet still serve me a little. . . . Ever your affec-
tionate J. RUSKIX.
To THOMAS CARLYLE
HOLYHEAD, Wednesday, 28th Augutt, '61.
DEAR MR. CARLYLE, I was so glad to get Froude's letter, 2 with
your little endorsement, and I would have set to work instantly, but
you can't think how ill I am ; indeed I've not been able to do a
sentence of anything all this summer. The heaviest depression is upon
me I have ever gone through ; the great questions about Nature and
God and man have come on me in forms so strange and frightful
and it is so new to me to do everything expecting only Death, though
I see it is the right way even to play and men who are men nearly
always do it without talking about it.
But all my thoughts and ways are overturned so is my health for
the present, and I can do nothing this year.
I'll write to you and to Mrs. Carlyle from Ireland, where I'm going
to-day, wind and weather serving.
I have written to Mr. Froude by this post, and I am ever your
and Mrs. Carlyle's affectionate servant (though you have Charlotte 3 too),
To his FATHER
HARRISTOWN, Thursday Morning [August 29].
I hope you received the telegram rightly ; it was sent from Dublin
a little after seven, \\ith some difficulty, Crawley 4 having to return
two miles to another station across the town. I had what people
would call a beautiful passage that is to say, an entirely dull one in
huge steamer. I had no idea of the disagreeableness of these large
boats. Their enormous fires vomiting volcanofuls of smoke continu-
ally through two funnels nearly as big as railway tunnels; the colossal
power of the engines making everything else subordinate to it, so
^ [Compare Cestus of Aglaia, 82 (Vol. XIX. p. 129).]
[Probably encouraging Rusk in to continue his essays on Political Economy,
in spite of the suppression of them in the Cornhill Magazine. The later essays
appeared in /'raser'.i Magazine, under Froude's editorship.]
3 L-See "Mrs. Carlyle and her Servants," in From a Woman's Xotc-floak (Mrs.
E. T. Cook), p. 229.]'
4 [Raskin's servant.]
1861] A VISIT TO IRELAND 383
that the feeling is not of being in a boat at all, but on a timber
framework surrounding a fearful engine which is crushing the sea
roaring and storming its way along; the want of all healthy wave
motion, and the substitution for it merely of a continual sense of
giddiness, which makes one fancy one's legs or head are failing some-
how; the whole bow of the boat planked over, not a deck, but a
roof, so [sketch], the top of which is forbidden to passengers, so that
one can't go near the head of the boat ; the huge saloons, and perpetual
draught through all of them, caused by boat's railway speed make
the whole thing the most disagreeable floating contrivance imaginable.
It went over in four hours. Dublin Bay is larger and grander, far,
than I expected, but not half so pretty, and I am entirely aghast at
the town. I expected rather a fine city. It joins the filth of Man-
chester to the gloom of Modena, and the moral atmosphere of St.
Giles's. Far the melancholiest place I ever entered. I couldn't stop
in it there was a train for Harristown, at a quarter before eight.
It set me down at half-past eight, at their stopping station, still
eight miles from Mr. La Touche's; got on Irish car, and took them
a little by surprise at half-past nine. Mr. La Touche, who received
me, seemed entirely glad to see me even by surprise. The children
(I'm happy to say, for I feared they had been getting into late hours)
had all gone to bed but not quite into it and Percy scampered
down bare-footed like a little Irishman ; Rosie followed presently in
tiny pink dressing-gown; and Wisie, like Grisi in Norma all very
happy and very well. Mrs. La Touche looks well, notwithstanding
severe work in receiving Prince of Wales. They gave dtjeuner to
eighty people, and allowed a quantity of the villagers to come on
the lawn to see the Prince, besides feeding them, and making every-
body very happy.
The place is frightfully large the park, I mean : not quite so pretty
as I expected. The stream brown and clear is pretty, and has fine
pebbly bottom, but that is all. Wilmington is far prettier both in
house and grounds. Lord Palmerston's chalk stream and hills are
far more interesting Wallington grander. This is just no end of
trees and park, with peeps of Wicklow hills in the gaps, but no
appearance of pleasant walks or odd, out-of-the-way places; the Adding-
ton Hills and fields incomparably better.
What I have seen of the Irish themselves in just the two hours
after landing, like one's first impression of Calais will, I suppose,
remain as the permanent impression. I had no conception the stories
of Ireland were so true. I had fancied all were violent exaggeration.
But it is impossible to exaggerate.
384 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [is6i
I wanted some tea when I got to the railroad station in Dublin,
having forty minutes to wait before train left for Harristown. The
station smelt close and foul. I crossed to an " Hotel " which had
"refreshment rooms" on its sign. They gave me good tea and good
bread : but the squalor of the rooms, of the waitress, of the old
prints, of the tablecloth! Far worse than the worst of Italy. There,
it is a desolate, savage squalor; this was ale-housy, nasty, ignoble
I never saw its like.
The glare of the eye is very peculiar in the Irish face. And yet,
through it all, such heart, and good-nature, and love of fun. At
the station I was taking my ticket (fearing Crawley would not be
back from telegraph office in time). I was doubtful of a shilling
asked ticket giver if he would take it. " It's good, sir ; if it isn't,
Til know ye when ye come back, and Til thry to pass it upon ye."
Rosie herself wears a little red cap here and is very wild and
very angry at my insisting on staying in my room and doing letters
and geology till lunch time, which takes away all hope of her escaping
any of her lessons. After lunch we're going to build a bridge across
the Liflfey, as I used to do at Coniston and Low-wood at least if it
keeps fine. I have announced my mother's parcel to them and they
are delighted. I'm going to take it down at lunch, but this letter
must be ready for post first. I've tried to write it steadily, but one
can't write about Ireland quite without Irish irregularity.
To his FATHER
BONNKVILLE, Saturday, 5th October, 1861.
I have your kind note of the 2nd, saying you would give half of
all you have if I were feeling like the Nun at Le Puy. 1 Would you
rather, then, have me kept in the ignorance necessary to produce that
state of feeling? It might have been, once. Never can be now once
emerged from it, it is gone for ever, like childhood. I know no
example in history of men once breaking away from their earlv beliefs,
and returning to them again. The Unbeliever may be taught to believe
but not Julian the Apostate to return. However, if you look at
the world take America Austria France and see what their form
of Christianity has clone for them possibly the form that is coming
may do more, and I may be move useful, as I always have been, as
an iconoclast, than as a conservative.
1 [Sec I'ra-tfrlta, Hi. $ 4 (Vol. XXXV. p. 478).]
1861] "FORTUNE" IN JUVENAL 385
To his FATHER
LUCERNE, Sunday, Z^th Oct., 1861.
You will see by my past letters that I have had only one Irish
letter since I wrote first about Rosie. Rosie can't write herself; Emily
is nursing her, and her mother is nursing Miss Bunnett. 1 I could
only have bulletins at the best, and I should only make Rosie more
anxious about herself, by asking for these frequently. I expect a letter,
however, on Wednesday next, or thereabouts, in answer to mine of
I am sorry to say I quite forget where that Gerizim and Ebal
passage is. 2 It is profoundly true. It is not discretion that is wanting,
where there is real talent ; but education. If Spurgeon had been nobly
trained, taught natural history in its great laws, and made to feel
what was dignified in language and bearing, he would not make jests
for a mob on a stuffed Gorilla. Of the two Athenians, Pericles and
Phocion, 3 who had most universal and benevolent influence on their
nation, it is recorded that neither were ever seen to smile from their
youth up. The passage you refer to about Fortune is Juvenal. It is in
" Nullutn numen habes, si sit prudentia ; nos te
Nos facimus, Fortuna, deam cceloque locamus."
You will find it at the end of one of the Satires, but I forget which. 4
The view which Juvenal took of the power of Fortune was, however,
Lucretian, and infidel ; characteristic of the late times of Rome. Not
so Livy, who dwells on her terrible power in the instance of Brutus
and his sons : " Et qui spectator erat amovendus, (he who ought not to
have been allowed to remain even as a spectator) eum ipsum Fortuna
exactorem supplicii dedit." 5 Dante makes her the Ministress of divine
power, adding that she is blessed and rejoices in being so "e beata si
gode "" 6 in another place also speaking of her as typical of the course of
the world . _, ,
" Per6 gin Fortuna la sua ruota,
Come le piace, e '1 villan la sua marra." 7
But Juvenal is right in a certain limited sense.
1 [Rosie's governess.]
2 [Deuteronomy xi. 29.]
3 [For Phocion, compare above, p. 281 ; of Pericles, Plutarch says ( 5) that he
had "an imperturbable gravity of countenance."]
* [Satire x.]
5 Livy, ii. 5, 5.]
6 'Inferno, vii. 96: quoted in Munera Pulveris, Vol. XVII. p. 223 .]
7 [Inferno, xv. 95 : compare the letter of March 19, 1887 (Vol. XXXVII.
xxxvi. 2 B
386 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1861
To Ms FATHER
LrcERNE, 1st November, 1861.
I have your kind note of the 29th about verses, etc. Am very
glad you think me right in not sending the earlier ones. I now
enclose a little note of Hosiers, received yesterday, that you and mama
may see her hand it is a little more slovenly than it used to be,
but I hope this is only owing to enforced idleness making her careless.
In my letter to her mother, I had said she wasn^t to write me letters,