in the Alps. Ever, with sincerest remembrances to Mrs. Spurgeon,
affectionately yours, J. RUSKIN.
TO F. J. FURNIVALL 2
LONDON, December 5th, 1862.
MY DEAR FURNIVALL, I'm sick of "feelings," and know nothing
more of them. Do you know that people are being roasted alive in
Italy, and cut into morsels in America? What has anybody to do
with "feelings"? Do you think I'm going to give all the strength
1 [From C. H. Spurgeon's Autobiography, compiled from his Diary, Letters, and
Records, by his wife, and his private secretary, vol. iv., 1900, p. 94. For Ruskin's
conversations with Spurgeon, see Vol. XXXIV 7 . pp. 659-661.]
2 [No. 23 in Furnivall, pp. 59-60.]
426 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1862
and brains I have to a subject for years, and then let Shorter 1 or
anybody else get up and talk of " whatever fallacies I may have fallen
into," when they don't understand one word of what I've written from
beginning to end, and not call them blockheads ?
If Shorter had come to me and asked me to tell him what I
meant, I would have told him civilly. He might have done so when-
elseif (getClientWidth() > 430)
ever he chose. Let him come here, if he likes, after he has got his
feelings mended again. Or no, I haven't an hour to spare. Let him
read some of the critiques 2 that will be out in the next two or three
days, and then fancy what / should be good for if I let my " feelings "
run away with me, and unruffle himself and be wiser next time. Yours
affectionately, J. RUSKIN.
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 3
MORNEX, HAUTE SAVOIE, FRANCE, Shortest day, 18G2.
DEAR NORTON, It is of no use writing till I'm better; though till
I am, I can't write a pleasant word, even to you. I've had a weary
time of it since last I wrote, and have been quite finally worried and
hurt, and the upshot of it is that I've come away here to live among
the hills, and get what sober remnant of life I can, in peace, where
there are no machines, yet, nor people, nor talk, nor trouble, but of
I've become a Pagan, too ; and am trying hard to get some sub-
stantial hope of seeing Diana in the pure glades ; or Mercury in the
clouds (Hermes, I mean, not that rascally Jew-God of the Latins).
Only I can't understand what they want one to sacrifice to them for.
I can't kill one of my beasts for any God of them all unless they'll
come and dine with me, and I've such a bad cook that I'm afraid
there's no chance of that.
You sent me some book, didn't you, a little while ago? I've been
in such confusion, bringing things over here from England, and sending
Turners to Brit. Museum, and upside-downing myself in general, that
I don't know what has happened or come. I'm bitterly sorry to leave
my father and mother, but my health was failing altogether and I had
I'm only in lodgings yet seven miles south of Geneva, nearer the
1 [Secretary of the Working Men's College.]
2 [That is, either of Ruskin's own essays (Afunera Pittivri) in Fraw^a Magazine,
or of Colenso's book (a hove, p. 424). The storm created by this latter may be
judged from the fact that seven pages of the British Museum Catalogue are occupied
with replies, etc.]
* [Atlantic Monthly, July 1904, vol. 04, p. 14. No. 33 in Norton; vol. i.
1862] A NEST AMONG THE ALPS 427
Alps; but I'm going to build myself a nest, high on the hills, where
they are green. Meantime, I've a little garden with a spring in it,
and a grey rough granite wall, and a vine or two; and then a dingle
about three hundred feet deep, and a sweet chestnut and pine wood
opposite; and then Mont du Reposoir, and Mont Blanc, and the
aiguilles of Chamouni, which I can see from my pillow, against the
dawn. And behind me, the slope of the Saleve, up 2000 feet. I can
get to the top and be among the gentians any day after my morning
reading and before four o'clock dinner. Then I've quiet sunset on
the aiguilles, and a little dreaming by the fire, and so to sleep. Your
horrid war troubles me sometimes the roar of it seeming to clang in
the blue sky. You poor mad things what will become of you?
Send me a line to say if you get this. After saying nothing so
long, I want this to go quickly. Ever affectionately yours,
To Mr. and Mrs. CARLYLE
Christmas Evening (not Eve), '62.
DEAR MR. AND MRS. CARLYLE, I'm sitting by a bright wood fire,
which flickers on the walls of a little room about twelve feet square
somewhat stiff in finger, as you may see by the try of pen above and
in limb, from a long walk in the frosty sunshine up and down along
the piny banks of this river of mine, the Arve, now green and clear,
though in summer " drumly " l with glacier dust. The snowy moun-
tains form an unbroken chain beyond the elevated plain, above which
my own hill rises some five or six hundred feet up to my doorstep,
and two thousand feet behind me. I got into my cottage yesterday,
and am congratulating myself (somewhat sadly in an undertone) on
being out of the way of Everything. The month in London was mis-
chievous to me. I got " off" my quiet work, and now my books
seem a little dull to me, and the evenings long, and yet life seems to
pass in nothing but dressing and undressing going to bed and getting
up again, a night older.
I saw Lady Ashburton in Paris for a few moments, and promised
to write to you, and did not having no hope to give you, and think-
ing that you might as well be anxious as hopeless.
I then travelled on through the night, and came in the grey of
dawn to the roots of the Alps; while, I see by the papers, there
were dreadful gales in England, and keen, but healthy north wind was
1 [Tlie word (which often occurs iu Bishop Douglas's Virgil) is used again by
Ruskin in Fors Clavigem: Vol. XXVIII. p. 758.]
428 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1862
breaking the Lake of Geneva into chequers of white and blue dark
blue far laid under the rosy snows of Jura. Now it is quite calm,
with clearest light, and soft mists among the pinewoods at morning.
I've been reading Latter Days 1 again, chiefly " Jesuitism." I can't
think what Mr. Carlyle wants me to write anything more for if people
don't attend to that, what more is to be said ? I feel very lazy, and
think in fact, I'm sure that after February I shan't write anything
more till autumn again. I can't correct press in spring time.
I wish you both a happy New Year with all my heart. Ever your
affectionate J. RUSKIN.
To his FATHER
Sunday, 28/A December, 1862.
I have your kind, somewhat sorrowful, Christmas letter ; and I don't
wonder at your not being quite able to read steadily on Xmas morn-
ing, but as far as I can make out, it is right that I should be here.
To-day showed me how wisely I had chosen the spot for winter's dwell-
ing. It was entirely cloudless (as I thought) every peak of farthest
Savoy clear: and the sun warm on my windows. I went out to go up
the Saleve : I wear one thick coat, instead of a greatcoat over a thin
one, for winter's walking ; and though the frost was firm and the snow
lay crisp in the rock hollows, there was not a breath of air stirring,
and the sun was so hot that I had to take my coat off and climb in
my shirt sleeves, as I do in summer. The snow got gradually deeper,
and near the top the drifts were knee-deep, making it still hotter
work to climb, for it was dry and loose, giving way under the foot.
At last I got to the broad summit, where a light south wind was
blowing ; the most delightful state of air and sun conceivable, if only
one's limbs had not been chilled with the snow. I put my coat on
and crossed to the brow of the cliff towards Geneva, when behold,
the entire valley of Geneva was filled with one mass of white cloud,
as dense in aspect as a glacier, reaching one-third up the Saleve and
Jura on both sides, so that I saw the poor people of Geneva were
buried in fog as complete as that of London ; it reached some way
up the Arve; but stopped about a mile below Mornex while all on
my side was clear in such intense sharpness of cairn light as one never
sees anything to approach in the summer. Mont Blanc looked close
by : the mountains of Annecy glittered with lustrous snow, like wedges
of crystal ; far beyond them, the mountains of the Grande Chartreuse
and Dauphine lost themselves in mere light : there was no mist.
Though I am so much of a heathen, I still pray a little sometimes
1 [t'arlyle's Latter-day Pamphletx.]
1863] "HEATHENISM" 429
in pretty places, though I eschew Camden Chapel: so I knelt on the
turf at the head of the Grande Gorge, and thanked God for bring-
ing me back safe and well to it. I found only one gentian. I came
down at a great pace, and was quite hot, feet and all, when I got
home. I found a sweet letter from Rosie waiting for me. I'm very
glad you were in when Mrs. Jones called, though not glad for the
cause of your being in. She will do capitally with Lady Colquhoun.
Fve warned Miss Bell very carefully already, and explained to her
the necessity and virtue of hypocrisy in her circumstances, and that
it is quite proper to say she believes what she doesn't. I think I've
pretty well lectured her out of any foolish honesty ; but I can't help
people's knowing she knows the Bishop. 1 Rosie's mightily vexed about
my heathenism, (her mother has let her see some bits of letters I
never meant her to see) and sends me a long little lock of hair, to
steady me somewhat if it may be ; of sending which, nevertheless, she
won't take the grace or responsibility herself, but says, " Mama
cut it off for you." " But for the sake of all truth, and Love, you
must not give the one true Good containing all others God up."
I can set her little wits at rest on that matter at any rate, and tell
her that being a heathen is not so bad as all that.
I suppose this will reach you on New Year's morning. You won't
have a happy New Year without me but I may still wish you happy
summer, and summer will soon come.
[At the end of December 1862 Ruskin had returned to Mornex, and there, or
at Annecy, he remained till the end of May 1863. His movements in England
during the summer months are noted in Vol. XVII. p. Ixxii. In September he
returned to the Alps, and had plans of making his home there altogether : see
some letters, etc., given in the same volume, pp. Ixxii. -Ixxvi. In November, how-
ever, he came home, owing to his father's failing health.]
To Professor H. STORY MASKELYNE, F.R.S. 2
MORNEX, 1st Jan., 1863.
DEAR MASKELYNE, Many Happy New Years to you and unwearied
eyes and every possible felicity of cleavage to fortune. I believe these
three wishes will be brought to you by the Bishop of Natal, who may
1 [Colenso, whose daughter was a pupil at Miss Bell's school at Wilmington.]
1 [For whom, see Vol. XIX. pp. 229-230, Vol. XXII. p. 233.]
430 LETTERS OF RUSKIN Voi, I [1863
be glad to refresh himself with a little secure geology after the sandy
study of Theology. Seriously, I shall be grateful to you if you can
give Dr. Colenso any kind of help in research or in sympathy. No
man has, in these days, a harder battle to fight or fewer allies or
a better cause, or a truer heart. I wish I were nearer him, for if
Fm good for little else, I never failed of plain speaking for fear of
the consequences (and never for want of words, by the way, now and
then). How about my chalcedonies ?
The above address will find me whenever you've anything to say.
Ever most truly yours, J. RCSKIN.
To his FATHER
MORN-EX, 2nd January, 1863.
No letter to-day, but papers in plenty. Is not somebody deprived
of them for my good ? I can do quite well with Times if anybody
would like the Posts.
This has been the loveliest day I ever saw in the Alps. Entirely
without cloud ; and in the lower air, dead calm, a silence unparalleled
for in summer there are insects humming, grasshoppers chirping birds
and voices one hears the leaves grow almost. But to-day it was
the stillness of midnight with the light of Paradise. I climbed the Saleve
near the top, a light south wind gradually rose and strengthened
to a fresh breeze at the top : I had to keep in the lee of the crags
when the snow wreaths were deep, and thought I was tired when I
got up; but I was only out of breath, for I found in a few minutes
I could run along the ridge, with the wind, at full speed ; which
pleased me for even at 400 feet I used some years ago to feel a
little headachy. I never saw such a view of Alps in my life far
north, peaks that are never in sight in the clearest summer days, but
are mere grey films, rose with every crag defined, and I could see
into the interstices and chasms of the Aiguille Dru, as if I had been
on the Montanvert. The Jura lay in one long snowy wave as far as
above Neuchatel. The broad summit of the Saleve lay, a league long,
in white ripples of drifted snow, just like the creaming foam from
a steamers wheels, stretched infinitely on the sea, and all the plain
of Geneva showed through its gorges in gold : the winter grass, in
sunshine, being nearly pure gold-colour when opposed to snow. I
raced along the whole ridge then took the steepest ravine of the
Mornex side to go down by, and was too hot, when I got below the
1863] THE SALfeVE IN WINTER 431
There's a great difference between the health one gets out of a
walk like this, and one to the Elephant and Castle and back, or even,
to be quite fair, up to Norwood. The frost pinches so much harder
there, for one thing.
To HENRY ACLAND, M.D.
MORNEX, ISth Jany., 1863.
MY DEAR ACLAND, I forget if I answered the letter you sent me
saying you were coming abroad. I got it too late to reply in time
to catch you before you left to my great vexation, as I should have
liked to have had you with me here a day or two.
In this mid-winter Savoy is still very beautiful. I have been
walking far among the pine glades to-day, all dumb with snow and
soft with frost cloud; and fringed with icicles. On clear days the
great Alpine views are marvellous.
If you have ever anything to say to me, a letter will reach me
here in three days from Oxford. I was pleased to see that your
brother had written a kind letter to the Bishop of Natal. Wrong be
he, or right, the language of clergymen respecting him is in the last
degree unwarrantable and unworthy.
What relation is Sir Peregrine Acland of yours ? I have little
power of conceiving any wickedness greater than his treatment of
those Sussex drawings of Turner's, now Sir A. Hood's. 1 Killing men
is bad work ; killing great men's work is worse. There may be an
excuse or a reason for the one there can be none for the other.
I am pretty well and pretty ill. I don't know which prettiest.
Love to the children, and kind regards to Mrs. Acland. Ever
affectionately yours, J. RDSKIN.
Have you any news of O'Shea ? 2
To hi# FATHER
MORNEX, I8th January, 1863.
I quite agree in your estimate of Dickens. I know no writer
so voluminous and unceasingly entertaining, or with such a store of
laughter legitimate, open-hearted, good-natured laughter ; not at things
merely accidentally ridiculous or at mere indecency as often even in
Moliere and Le Sage, and constantly in Aristophanes and Smollett
1 [See Prasterita, Vol. XXXV. p. 253.]
2 [The sculptor of the Oxford Museum : see Vol. XVI. p. xlix.]
432 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [is6s
but at things inherently grotesque and purely humorous ; if he is ever
severe as on Keep, Stiggins, Squeers, etc. it is always true baseness
and vice, never mere foibles, which he holds up for scorn. And as
you most rightly say of his caricature, the fun is always equal to the
His powers of description have never been enough esteemed. The
storm in which Steerforth is wrecked, in Copperjield ; l the sunset before
Tigg is murdered by Jonas Chuzzlewit; and the French road from
Dijon in Dombey and Son, and numbers of other such bits, are quite
unrivalled in their way. If you think enclosed right, please forward it.
P.S. I am glad you like the leaves. 2 I think, if it is fine to-
morrow, I shall send Crawley down to Geneva and register and despatch
the first juniper bough 3 you can get it framed by Williams from
Foord's; a white mount about 2 inches or 2| inches wide, I think, will
be best and light frame; and then when the second comes, if you
like it better, you can send this at once to Mrs. Newton. It is not
as good, nor nearly as good as I can do, or I should not risk it
The La Touches were at the private view; they say it was so
crowded they could see hardly anything but liked the leaves.
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 4
MORNEX, Wth February, 1863.
MY DEAR NORTON, Glad was I of your letter, for I had been
anxious about you, fearing illness, or disturbance of your happiness by
this war. It is a shame that you are so comfortable but I'm glad
of it, and I shall delight in those thirteenth-century lectures.
It is no use talking about your war. There is a religious phrensy
on such of you as are good for anything, just as wild, foolish, and
fearful as St. Dominic's and as obstinate as de Montforfs. Mahomet's
was mild, Christian-like and rational, in comparison. I have not, how-
ever, seen a single word, spoken or written, by any American since the
1 [Compare Modern Painters, vol. i. (Vol. III. p. 570 .).]
1 [Possibly a beautiful water-colour, signed and dated 18<>3, in the possession
of Miss Harrison the original from which was made the diagram to illustrate the
lecture on "Tree Twigs" (Vol. VII. p. 470). The editors do not know where it
' [The drawing of the juniper bough, signed and dated 18(i3, was given by
Ruskiii to Mr. Pritchard Gordon.]
4 [Atlantic Monthly, July 1904, vol. 94, pp. 14-15. No. 34 in Norton ; vol. i.
pp. 134-137. Some passages of the letter ("The miserablest idiocy . . . liberty,"
and "This fight is partly . . . everywhere") had previously been printed by
Professor Norton in his Introduction (p. x.) to the American "Brantwood" edition
of Ethic* of the. I hint, 1891.]
1863] LINCOLN'S PROCLAMATION 433
war began, which would justify me in assuming that there was any
such noble phrensy in the matter ; but as Lowell and you are in it, I
am obliged to own the nobility, and only wish I could put you both
in strait-waistcoats. The miserablest idiocy of the whole has been
your mixing up a fight for dominion (the most insolent and tyrannical,
and the worst conducted, in all history) with a soi-dlsant fight for
liberty. If you want the slaves to be free, let their masters go free
first, in God's name. If they don't like to be governed by you, let
them govern themselves. Then, treating them as a stranger state, if
you like to say, " You shall let that black fellow go, or " etc., as a
brave boy would fight another for a fag at Eton do so; but you
know perfectly well no fight could be got up on those terms ; and that
this fight is partly for money, partly for vanity, partly (as those
wretched Irish whom you have inveigled into it show) for wild anarchy
and the Devil's cause and crown, everywhere. As for your precious
"A gift of that which is not to be given
By all the assembled powers of earth and heaven " l
if I had it here there's a fine north wind blowing, and I would give
it to the first boy I met to fly it at his kite's tail. Not but that it
may do mischief enough, as idle words have done and will do, to end
As for myself, I am a little better than when I wrote last. I know
you would do me all the good you could, and give me all kinds of
nice sympathy ; but it is all of no use just now. Only don't let me
lose you, but stay, for me to come and ask for affection again when it
will be good to me. I am lost just now in various wonder and sorrow,
not to be talked of. I care mainly about my teeth and liver; if those
would keep right I could fight the rest of it all : but they don't. I
am resting, and mean to rest, drawing, chiefly, and sauntering and
scrambling. The only thing I shall keep doing a sentence of, some-
times only when I can't help it is political economy. Look at the
next Fraser's Magazine (for March); there are, or I hope will be, some
nice little bits about slavery in it. 2 . . . There's no building begun
1 [From Wordsworth's sonnet "On a Celebrated Event in Ancient History "-
the proclamation of the freedom and independence of Greece by T. Quintius
Flaminius in 197 B.C. Ruskin quotes from memory; Wordsworth in the last line
wrote "blended," not "assembled": compare Vol. XVIII. p. 539. The reference
in the letter is to President Lincoln's Proclamation of January 1, 1863, declaring
the slaves free in those regions yet in arms against the United States.]
2 [Chapters v. and vi. of Mnnera Pnlveris appeared in Fraser for April For
the " bits about slavery/' see Vol. XVII. pp. 246, 254.]
xxxvi. 2 E
434 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1863
yet: I'm trying the winter and spring climate first, and finding out
things by talking to the peasants. For this spring I'm well enough
off, with a view from my bedroom window of all the valley of the
Arve from the Saleve to Bonneville, and all the St. Martin's mountains
beyond. But I mean to settle nearer Annecy ; this is not quite warm
enough. . . .
Affectionate regards to your mother and sisters. Ever affectionately
yours, J. RUSKIN.
As soon as Fve got a house, Fll ask you to send me something
American a slave, perhaps. Fve a great notion of a black boy in a
green jacket and purple cap in Paul Veronese's manner. As for con-
centrated wisdom, if I haven't enough to make me hold my tongue,
I haven't enough to put on the end of it.
To his FATHER
MORNEX, 12th February, 1863.
This afternoon at four o'clock I was lying all my length on the
grass on the precise and exact summit of the Saleve, in a calm of
soft sunset like that of Florence or Naples ; the summit, owing to the
strong drift of wind over it in storms, is quite free of snow, and the
perpetual sunshine of these last days has dried it into a summer bank.
All round, the snow lay in sweet, crisp fields; now large in the crystal,
like sea-salt, and therefore, in the low sunshine so full of blue shadow
as not to hurt the eye, and so hard that they neither wet nor chill
the foot. At a quarter before five, as the orange colour was deepen-
ing in the sunset, I was sitting on a rock above the " Grande Gorge,"
holding my straw hat to keep the sun out of my eyes, and bare-
headed. The chain of Alps was ridiculously clear, the crags of the
Reposoir looking (15 miles off) as if they were little rocks rising
directly behind the Saleve snow-fields; but the Jura were all bathed
in purple mist, and the long sweeping side of the Saleve itself; far
towards Annecy, stretched purple ranks of pine.
To Ins FATHER
MORNKX, Sunday, 22nd February, 18G.3.
I have no letter to-day, not having been able to get any up from
Geneva. There were plenty holiday folks, if any would have been
good enough to bring it, for there was no wind to speak of to-day.
1863] GEOLOGY ON THE SALfiVE 435
and a sun as of June, with only two or three degrees of frost, so
that for people with health and animal spirits, it was just as good
as summer. I don't like the cold : feel it inhospitable and ill-natured ;
still there were nooks in the rocks to-day where it was wonderfully
I find Allen will be useful to me in a way I did not expect. His
carpenter's experience in "grain" of wood gives him a keen eye for
rock texture, and I expect with his help to be able to clear up some
points in the structure of the Saleve which are of great interest. I
have hardly any doubt the geologists have mistaken its fractures for
its beds. They all state that it has vertical beds on its face. I
believe they are merely rents, of extraordinary evenness and symmetry. 1
I have had a long day's scramble to most of the accessible parts of
the highest cliff " accessibility " depending more or less on the lines
of the fall of stones than on steepness; one might as well go under
the Confederate batteries as beneath some of the shelves in frosty
weather, when the sun strikes them one has not only the stones to
look out for, but the icicles, which hang fifteen feet and twenty feet
long, and a foot thick where the snow meltings drip from the shelves.
They have a disagreeable resemblance to guttering of tallow candles,
but their fragments below have a pretty, but warning glitter.
However, it has made me pleasantly sleepy after dinner so I
won't force myself to write any more.
To his FATHER
MORNEX, Thursday, 26th February, 1863.
Going down to Geneva with your letter to-day, I got yours of
the 23rd with various enclosures and expression of rejoicing in my