(WITH A NOTE OF CARLYLE'S)
To /ce p. 524
1867] CARLYLE AT MENTONE 525
and a wild drake, and a small twisted shell. 1 That sounds despicable
enough, I fear, to you in your olive woods at the feet of Witches of
Endor; 2 nevertheless, poor as it may be, I think it is my work. For,
Turner being dead, I am quite sure there is no one else in England
now who could have painted that shell, but I ; and it seems to me,
therefore, I must have been meant to do it.
I need not say how happy the kind sentence about your wishing to
have me again on Wednesday evenings made me. Nevertheless, I must
still unselfishly pray that you may be enchanted away by magical " hair
of the head " to Florence at least, if not to Rome. That satiety of
travel is surely a kind of lichenous overgrowing of one's thoughts
when one has been too long at rest very good for most people, if
they would only have patience to take the colouring but surely not
for you ? I think your interest in seeing would increase the more
you were tempted to see, and that the mere change of air and of
slope of sunray, by whatever endurance of irksome motion obtained,
elseif (getClientWidth() > 430)
would be oh, so much better for you than the monotonous effluvium
of Chelsea shore. The fog was so dark to-day that I had candles at
nine-o'clock breakfast. Think of that ! and look up to your sky " with
recognition. 111 2
My mother thanks you much for your good message. I hope to
have some interesting little gossip to write to you about my cousin,
I am so ashamed of my writing. I can't help it, unless I write so
very slow that I should forget what I had to say. Sincere regards to
Lady Ashburton. Ever your affectionate J. RUSKIN.
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 3
DENMARK HILL, 12th March, 1867.
DEAR NORTON, I have drawn your fifty pounds this time, and will
render you, I trust, better account of it. I have not been able to
attend to anything lately, having been in all kinds of bitter, doubtful,
useless, wretchedness of pain, of which it is no use to write. I think
this 7 X 7th year may put some close to it, one way or another. I
hardly know how far it is hurting me perhaps I make more fuss
about pain than other men, because I can't understand how people
1 [The " dead partridge" is at Oxford, Rudimentary Series No. 178 (Vol. XXI.
p. 226, Plate XXXVIII.). The "wild drake" is in the British Museum. The
particular study of a shell, here mentioned, cannot be identified ; there are such
studies in Mrs. Cunliffe's and other collections.]
1 [See Carlyle's letter, Vol. XVII. p. 340 .J
3 [No. 49 in Norton; vol. i. pp. 164-165.]
526 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1867
can give it me and it gives me a horror of human creatures ; I don't
in the least see how it can come right any way, but it must end.
The drawing by Jones will be, I hope, easily gettable ; the Liber
Studiorum is moi-e difficult, impossible, I might say, but perhaps
the prices which had become utterly wild and monstrous may lower
a little in these bad times of trade.
The far-spread calamity caused by these villainous speculators
meets me at every turn ; friend after friend is affected by it, directly
or indirectly, but it does not seem yet to lower art prices, which is
the only good it could do me.
I've been painting a little, and writing some letters on politics,*
but otherwise I'm all but dead and why should I go on whining
about it to you ? Ever, with sincere remembrances to your mother
and sisters, most affectionately yours, J. RUSKIN.
To THOMAS CARLYLE*
DENMARK HILL, 3\st March, 1867.
DEAR MR. CARLYLE, I have had a heavy time of it since I wrote
last, in various ways of which I cannot tell you ; not that there is
anything in my mind which I would not trust you to know, but
because there are some conditions of trouble for which one has no
business to ask sympathy even from one's dearest friends. I am now
recovering some dim tranquillity and writing a few letters on political
econ., which I hope you will sav it was better to write than not,
though I am too unwell to take pains with them : and the entirely
frightful and ghastly series of unnatural storm and frost which lasted
through the beginning of this month (far into it, indeed), followed
by severe March blights and bleak swirlings of bitter rain, has kept
me from any wholesome walking or breathing until I can hardly think
(4th April,} And now I do not know if it is of the least use to
send this to Mentone ; but I will let it take its chance the main thing
that I wanted to say to you being that I have had to meditate
somewhat closely over educational questions lately, and I am more
than ever impressed with the sense of the greatness of the gift you
could bestow in the good close of all your labour by a summary of
your present vision of history, and of its causative forces not writing
* [Time and Tide (Vol. XVII.).]
[At Meiitoue : for Carlyle's letter thence, of February 15, sec Vol. XVII.
p. 339 n.l
1867] SPRING-TIME IN ITALY 527
the history of any country, but marking the conclusions to which you
had come in reading its history yourself; and telling us the events that
were of essential significance; and separating them, in their true rela-
tions, from things useless.
Suppose I were to ask you, for instance, briefly (not being able to
read for myself any history of Spain) what had made the Spaniard of
to-day what he is ? You would sit down in your fender-corner, and
roll me out an entirely clear and round statement of the main dealings
of Providence and of the Devil with him, and of his with them. Now,
if you were to write down such an answer of its quarter of an hour's
length and then amplify and illustrate it as you saw good, it would
be a perfect guide to me, for such labour as I could undertake on the
subject, but which without such a guide would be wholly thrown away
so that indeed I should never undertake it.
Do think of this, in your rambles under the olive trees. I hope,
wherever you are, that this weather has found you still in Italy ; and
that you will outstay the Firefly time. I always think that nothing in
the world can possibly be so touching, in its own natural sweetness,
and in the association with the pensive and glorious power of the scene,
as the space of spring time in Italy during which the firefly makes
the meadows quiver at midnight. And then if you were to get up
to the lakes, in May ! arid go up the Val Formazza over the Gries and
Grimsel, and so to the Giessbach Inn on the lake of Brientz, you would
find that in early June the happiest, coolest, warmest, cosiest, wildest
work ! and two dear good Swiss girls would wait on you, who would
remember my two little girls and me, last year, and do everything they
could and they could a great deal to make you comfortable. And
now I must say good-bye and please forgive this nothing of a letter.
I might have told you a great deal, that only would have vexed you,
nothing is better. Ever your affectionate J. RUSKIX.
To his MOTHER l
CAMBRIDGE, 23rd May, 1867.
MY DEAREST MOTHER, All went well to-day and pleasingly, if
anybody had been there to please. But it is a great deal, yet, to
have one's honour thought of, by Mother and Mistress and by a
loving little cousin like Joan. Else, what good would there be in it ?
The form of admission is first that you put on a scarlet gown, furred
1 [A few lines of this letter Lave been given in Vol. XIX. p. xxvii. Ruskiu
was at Cambridge to receive an honorary degree and deliver the Rede Lecture
(Vol. XIX. pp. 161 seq.).]
528 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1867
with white: then the Latin orator takes you by the hand (right hand
by right hand, which you reach across to him), and leads you up
the middle of the Senate House, to the front of the Vice-Chancellor's
seat. There, putting you to stand by yourself before the Vice-Chan-
cellor, he himself stands aside, turns to the spectators, and delivers
a Latin laudatory speech (recommendatory of you for the honour of
degree), some ten minutes or fifteen minutes long ; in my case, there
being nothing particular to rehearse except that I had written books
"exquisite in language and faultlessly pure in contention with evil
principles," with much more to a similar effect, which, having been
all said in Latin, I wished that the young ladies present could better
understand that learned language than I fear even Cambridge young
ladies may be expected to do (N.B. One a very sweet, though short-
coming, likeness of Rosie, with her rery smile, so that it made me
start). The orator dwelt more on the Crown of Wild Olive than on
any other of my books, which pleased me, as it was the last.
The Oration finished, he takes your hand again and gives it to
the Vice-Chancellor (but it made me think of Somebody else whom
it much more belongs to). The Vice-Chancellor stands up, and after
a little bit more of Latin which I didn't understand, because I was
looking him full in the face (having kept my eyes on the ground
through the Oration, I thought it proper to show that I could look
straight) and I was wondering if he would think it impudent, instead
of minding what he was saying. But presently came "I admit thee
doctor of this University in the name of the Father, and the Son,
and the Holy Ghost."
Which I heard, not inattentively, and retired backwards about six
steps, and then turned and went down to join the rest of the Masters
at the lower part of the Senate House. (The little bit of backing was
said by one of the young ladies here, to have been very gracefully
done.) One can hardly get any directions from anybody, and so I had
to do what seemed to me fittest, out of my head.
After that, I had a walk of a mile and a half in the country, and
thought over many things. I am to have a quite quiet evening here,
with a little music and mineralogy, so I hope to be fresh for my
lecture to-morrow. It is rather bright but terribly cold. I have a
very comfortable room, however, and hope that nothing is now likely
to interfere with my success.
I will telegraph after lecture to-morrow, and then write to Joanna.
Dear love to her. . . .
Ever, my dearest mother, your most affectionate son,
J. UUSKIX, LL.D.
1867] MISS INGELOW'S POEMS 529
To Miss JOAN AGNEW
EASTHAMPSTEAD,' 9th June, '67 (Whit Sunday).
. . . The lecture 2 went off excellently, but Mrs. Cowper had a cold
and could not come, and it put me out a little ; but Mr. Cowper was
there, and Lady Florence and as I was going to praise Edward Jones,
I asked Georgie to come. I never before saw ho\v complete the unity
is between a loving husband and wife. After the lecture Georgie was
in exactly the hot-blushing, oppressed state which she would have been
in if she had been praised herself. I hope there will be a good report
of it published by the Institution itself to-morrow, which I will forth-
with send you.
To Miss JEAN INGELOW
DENMARK HILL, llth June, 1867.
DEAR Miss INGELOW, I shall be deeply and truly grateful for your
book more so the oftener I open it (and that will not be MM-often).
I should be more grateful still if you would come over here some
forenoon and have strawberries and cream (not that I mean to compare
the one visit to the many poems but I could have otherwise got the
poems and I have been long hoping to see you], and look at a
picture or two, if you care to do so, or not, if you do not ; and
give me the comfort of understanding what kind of creature it is that
sings so sweetly in those, to me mysterious, books. Ever respectfully
yours, J. HUSKIN.
To Miss JEAN INGELOW
MELROSE, 2nd July, 1867.
MY DEAR Miss INGELOW, I had hoped, before now, to have called
upon you ; but chance required me suddenly to go into Scotland ; and
once here, I mean to get some sea and mountain air, and see some
" delicate lifting up of wings," 3 and lift up my own weary and penguinish
representatives of wings a little, if I may.
I have brought the Story of Doom with me among few books.
1 [Where Raskin was staying with the Rev. Osborne Gordon.]
2 [On "Modern Art" at the Royal Institution: for the reference in it to
Burne-Jones, see Vol. XIX. pp. 197 seq. (for the references to Burne-Jones, see
pp. 206-^08). Xo abstract of the lecture appeared in the Transactions.]
3 [From Miss Ingelow's "Sea Mews in Winter Time/' one of the "Songs on
the Voices of Birds" included in A Story of Doom, and other Poems (1867).]
xxxvi. 2 L
530 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1867
I have not yet read the Story itself; all the rest is one thing more
beautiful than another. I like the " humble imitation " best of all. 1
Better than the original, which has always seemed to me a little empty
in its pompous melody. The fifth stanza of this is very glorious to
me, in the imagination of it, but I think you should retouch the last
line. It won't scan, as far as I can make it out, without laying full
emphasis on the Ga in Galilean, and it seems to me that syllable won't
rightly bear leaning on. The last line of the eleventh stanza is a very
perfect and sweet illegality; and "the oldest running river " is delicious.
About Laurance, and the bit in page 34. and some other such, I never
cease wondering with a wonder which has been always with me how
women know the way men love. We don't know your way of loving
it is a mystery to us, which we accept but cannot imagine. But you
can imagine ours. How is this? If you care to send me a word and
you should care, I think, because I should value it it would find me
if it rested in the post-office of Keswick, Cumberland. With sincere
regards to your mother (I hope they will be brought by some roses
in the pride of thinking they may deserve painting), believe me, ever
faithfully yours, J. RUSKIX.
To his MOTHER
KESWICK, 4th July, '07.
I had a delightful walk with Mary Kerr up Rhymer's Glen yester-
day. 2 Anything more entirely after Scott's mind couldn't be the little
brook among the rocks, and winding path, and Mel rose tower seen down
the valley, and a very perfectly beautiful Catholic girl of old family for
one's guide, tete-a-tete. Afterwards (I complaining that my walk had
been too short) she took me round by Chiefswood Cottage, Lockhart's
1 ["Song for the Night of Christ's Resurrection (.4 Humble Imitation)." For
quotations by Ruskin from Milton's Ode, see Vol. XXII. p. 257 and Vol. XXVII.
p. 420. The fifth stanza in Miss Ingelow's song is :
" All men of every birth,
Yea, great ones of the earth,
Kings and their councillors, have I drawn down ;
But I am held of Thee,
Why dost Thou trouble me,
To bring me up, dead King, that keep'st Thy crown?
Vet for all courtiers hast but ten
Lowly, unlettered Galilean fishermen."
The last line of the eleventh stanza is :
"His desert princess, being reproved, her laugh denied."
H>r "the oldest running river," see stanza Itt. "Laurance" is one of the poems
in the volume. The " hit in p. 34" is the end of "A Poet in his Youth, and
[See PrtPteritit, iii. f (Vol. XXXV. p. .557).]
1867] PATIENT ENNUI 531
old house l (where Miss Lockhart was born), which is still a lovely place
and prettily kept by its tenant. I was sorry to come away, but I
want to put myself into a regular course of training, which, when one
is staying at anybody's house, is impossible. So I've come here. The
old Royal Oak is now only a commercial Inn. The great Keswick Inn
is at the railroad station. I have come farther on, towards Bassen-
thwaite, and have got quiet rooms, where I shall certainly stay a
few days. It is finer this morning, and I want to get out, so will be
To his MOTHER
KESWICK, 2th July, 1867. Evening.
I am certainly gaining though slowly, faster than I expected, for
when one has been more than a year falling back, one does not expect
to turn and get far up again in a month. However, every day mends
me a little, and above all, I am beginning to recover some of the inno-
cent old delight in the wild, grand, and clear water, without the oppres-
sive melancholy which has lain on me these six years past. Since
Rosie sent me that last rose after refusing her other lover, I have felt
so sure of her that everything else begins to be at peace with me.
But also, I find that as for other people there is a sure reward for
steady perseverance in doing anything, so with me there is great reward
for steady perseverance in doing nothing. I pass hours and hours in
patient ennui not reading, not thinking, not looking at anything-
with only one pleasant feeling to relieve the thirst for employment,
namely, the sense of peace, that I'm not in a hurry, that IVe nothing
to see to, and that there's no fear of the lodge-bell ringing and some-
body coming who must be let in.
Well, after an hour or two of that perfect ennui (on a rainy day,
suppose, though I take the same medicinal idleness on any other day
it is hardest on the wet ones), when I get out, the least things begin
to have a charm which they are wholly incapable of, when the remnant
of one's own busy thoughts still haunts about the brain, or when the
interest and excitement of pleasurable occupation makes the walk after-
wards a blank. The way to make oneself enjoy, is to be resolutely
for a certain time without enjoyment not sulking over it, or being
impatient, but breathing the air and seeing the light with a placid,
beastly, resignation; if one frets one upsets the digestion, and then
1 ["A nice little cottage/' wrote Scott from Abbotsford, "in a gleu belonging
to this property, with a rivulet in front and a grove of trees on the east side to
keep away the cold wind. It is about two miles distant from this house, and a
very pleasant walk reaches to it through my plantations" (Lockliart's Life of
Scott, ed. 1869, vi. 224).]
532 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1867
everything goes wrong. This piece of philosophy is as much as I
ought to indulge in to-night. I don't mind having written a little
more carelessly than usual ; Joan will be there to read this letter.
To his MOTHER
KKSWICK, 1st August, 1867-
It was fine yesterday, and I took a light carriage, and drove with
Downs up Borrowdale, and round under Honistar Crag to Buttermere
and played a little while at the edge of the same stream which I
got scolded for dabbling in till I was too late for dinner, when I was
a boy. The dinner was a very bad one, I remember ; and I used it
afterwards in my speech at Oxford, on education of the lower classes l
because the girl at Buttermere had a piano in the parlour and nothing
in the kitchen.
We came home through the Vale of Newlands. Both passes were
higher and grander than I expected ; but driving a long way through
moors is duller than walking, for at least in walking one has to look
where one is going, and that is amusing.
I've just got your most nice letter of yesterday. I understand
it all perfectly. Tin very glad you like the Selections, and about
Mr. Simon's garden.
To his MOTHER
8/A August, Evening.
I have been walking on the old road between Low-wood and Amble-
side. On the old ground, I should have said, for the old road is no
more. Widened, walled, levelled, deformed desolated with fineries and
town-conveniences and very profoundly woeful to my eyes, and more
so to my mind. But the beauty of the lake and hills is far beyond
all my memories. To SEE it so much more to FEEL and rejoice in it
so much less and yet though less, so much more nobly and rightly !
how strange it is to be old !
I rowed up the Brathay. The stones we used to drift upon are
all taken away, and until one reaches the quite impassable rapid, all
is smooth and like the Thames for the pleasure boats of the villas.
I promised you a long letter, but if it were long to-night it would_
be sad although (as you rightly say, there should be a motive for
climbing among loose rocks) I am able partly to see some God's
reason to be conceivable for sadness itself, when compelled upon us ;
and I would rather have my perfect sadness than the gaiety of the
1 [The lecture is reported (without mention, however, of this incident) in
Vol. XVI. pp. 431-4:10.]
1867] THE "LIBER STUDIORUM" 538
entomologist who breakfasted with me the other day, and who said of
Dante's Inferno, that it was "delightful." More accurately, that it
was " the most delightful part of the book " a speech much to be
remembered, by me.
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON l
AMBLESIDE, 8 August, 1867-
MY DEAR NORTON, I was very glad of your letter. ... I want to
say a word about the Turners, 2 which I am very thankful for all
your kind thoughts about but indeed the only " kindness " of mine
is in putting you, as it were ten years back, on fair terms of pur-
chase. I wish I nod the pleasure of giving; all my art treasures are
now useless to me, except for reference; the whole subject of art is so
painful to me, and the history of Turner and all my own lost oppor-
tunities of saving his work, are a perpetual torment to me, if I begin
thinking of them.
But this was what I wanted to say : Your American friends, even
those who know most of art, may be much disappointed with the
Liber Studiorum, for the nobleness of those designs is not so much in
what is done, as in what is not done in them. Any tyro, looking at
them first, would say, Why, / can do trees better than that figures
better rocks better everything better. *' Yes and the daguerreo-
type similarly better than you" is the answer, first; but the final
answer the showing how every touch in these plates is related to
every other, and has no permission of withdrawn, monastic virtue, but
is only good in its connection with the rest, and in that connection
infinitely and inimitably good ; and the showing how each of the
designs is connected by all manner of strange intellectual chords and
nerves with the pathos and history of this old English country of
ours ; and on the other side, with the history of European mind
from earliest mythology down to modern rationalism and ir-rationalism
all this showing which was what I meant to try for in my closing
work I felt, long before that closing, to be impossible; and the
mystery of it all the God's making of the great mind, and the
martyrdom of it, and the uselessness of it all for ever, as far as human
eyes can see or thoughts travel. All these things it is of no use
I am here among the lakes resting, and trying to recover some
1 [Atlantic Monthly, July 1904, vol. 94, pp. 18-19. No. 50 in Norton; vol. i.
2 [" Some plates from the Liber Studiorum, and some pencil drawings."
534 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1867
tone of body. I entirely deny having lost tone of mind (in spite of
all pain) yet. And yesterday I walked up Helvellyn, and the day
before up Skiddaw (and walked twelve miles besides the hill work
yesterday) both of them 3000 feet of lift so I think there may be
some life in the old dog yet. . . .
All you say of religion is true and right, but the deadly question
with me is What next? or if anything is next? so that I've no
help, but rather increase of wonder and horror from that.
One word more about Turner. You see every great man's work (his
pre-eminently) is a digestion of nature, which makes glorious HUMAN
FLKSH of it. All my first work in Modern Painters was to show that
one must have nature to digest not chalk and water for milk. . . .
Ever lovingly yours, J. RUSKIN.
To WILLIAM WARD a
[AMBI.KSIDK] Auguxt 12th, 1867.
MY DEAR WARD, Write " Derwentwater Inn, Keswick," telling me
if you think a rest in the country would do you good. I think you
should not draw, but walk, and rest, and eat, just as you feel inclined ;
only, when you are kept indoors by wet, practising such outline draw-
ings as will not make you nervous or anxious, but will confirm your
hand. It ought to be as unagitating as the practice of writing.
Yet, if you feel that you would be better for some work from
nature, I could suggest some which would show you what Turner
meant. I think a tour up or down the Meu.te would be highly useful
to you, and to me. Suppose you go and look at Luxemburg ! The
fortress you are now drawing? And then walk up the bank of the
Meuse, and draw Dinant for me; the one you did the yellow sunset of?
I think you ought to fix your mind on this Turner work quite as
the thing you have to do. You know me well enough to trust me
that I do not say this to keep you captive for my own purpose. If
I thought you could be a successful artist, I would not let you copy.
But I think your art gifts are very like mine ; perfect sense of colour,
great fineness of general perception, and hardly any invention. You
might succeed in catching the public with some mean fineness of imita-