To THOMAS CARLYLE
VEVAY, 1st May, 1869.
DEAR MR. CARLYLE, I just got the Frederick in time; it is so
nice to have it in this manageable form with my own marked edition
safe at home. I have been travelling every day since. I could not
write before, nor now, for the sunshine and fresh air of the last four
days have made me dull with their excess of brightness only just this
word of thanks.
I have the Sartor with me also it belongs to me now, more than
any other of your books. I have nearly all my clothes to make fresh,
but more shroud shape than any other.
Fll write again soon. I was very thankful to be with you again.
Always affectionately yours, J. RUSKIN.
To Miss CONSTANCE MILLIARD 3
VERONA, 9th May, 1869.
MY DEAREST CONNIE. Your letter, which came here to-day from
Baveno, did me much good. I wanted a loving word or two very
sadly, for I am more alone among the people here than in a desert ;
they are so sunk beneath all sympathy, and have become detestable
1 [No. 67 in Norton; vol. i. pp. 203-204]
2 [The Queen of the Air was intended to be the first volume of a new series in
elseif (getClientWidth() > 430)
the author's works : see 101 (Vol. XIX. p. 389). The title-page which Professor
Norton suggested seems not to have met Ruskin's views : see below, pp. 571, 572.]
3 [Lady Trevelyau's niece : see the Introduction^ above, p. lxxxix.]j
566 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1869
down to the very children and the best that I can hope of any place
that I care for is that seventeen years of ruin may have passed over
it since I saw it last neglected by every living soul (for if a human
hand touches, it is to destroy). Seventeen years ! There was no
Connie at all when last I saw the marble pillars which now gleam
in the lamplight outside of my tall dark window !
I don't know how the seventeen years have passed. Three, heavily
enough but they're gone, like the rest, and have left nothing of work
done, or so it seems to me.
However, I have been making wonderful plans all the way over the
Alps, which I can't tell you to-night, but which I shall want all sorts
of help in especially Connie and Ettie l sort of help in making things
pretty and tidy ; and cheerful and, if meat, eatable. Nothing I have
ever written is more profoundly true than all about dressing and
cooking in the Ethics (I think I shall call them Ethelics) of the Dust.
(10th May.) My Father's Birthday.
I was up this morning at | past 4, and have been drawing out
of my window a better study of my old favourite tomb that hangs in
the hall in the narrow frame, 2 red, and I've been backwards and forwards
to see the effects of changing light on the Scaliger tombs which are
not 200 yards off' round the corner; and now it's just eight and I'm
going to breakfast, and then to make another bit of drawing at Can
Grande's tomb ; and then at one I'm going to Venice, to see my old
friend Mr. Brown, whom also I haven't seen for seventeen years, and
who is to be waiting at five o'clock for me and I'll soon write you
again from Venice, and am, with dear love to Ethel, ever your loving
cuzzie, J. RUSKIX.
I am so very glad auntie 3 saw you, and that I'm out of the way !
She would be so much happier if she took to loving you a little.
To Miss JOAN AGXKW
VKNICK, 12th May, 18G9.
I can't tell anybody (except ^>t'A.i/, whom I've told already) my great
plan, before I tell you so I shall tell you this main part of it and
then send some more to Dora, 4 and you can lend each other the letters.
The whole upper valley of the Rhone, sixty miles long and two
wide, with three or four miles of hill on each side say some 700
1 [Miss Milliard's sister.]
2 [The old drawing of the Castelbarco Tomb, here referred to, was done in
1852, and is reproduced in Vol. IX., Plate I). The drawing done "out of my
window" was No. lo in Ruskiu's Exhibition of 18(51): see Vol. XIX. p. 452.]
[That is, Ruskin's mother.]
4 [The Dora of the Ethics of the Huxl (Vol. XVIII. p. Ix.xii. /;.).]
9681] ALPINE INUNDATIONS 567
square miles of land is a mere hotbed of pestilence (marsh fever),
and barren of all food, owing to the ravages of the river. Now I see
perfectly how this could be prevented, and it only needs a little good
engineering, and employment of idle hands, to turn the entire valley
into a safe and fruitful and happy region.
Now, nothing in mere farming or gardening would interest me
enough to keep my mind engaged in work in the open air ; but here
is a motive, and an employment which will last to the end of my days.
I am happy here at Venice in looking at my favourite old pictures,
and shall hope every year to do good work on them, and on Italy.
But as soon as I return to town I shall get at the leading members
of the Alpine Club, talk it over with them, and get what help I can
from them, in maturing my plan about the Alps.
Then I'll get me a little garden and barn somewhere in a healthy
nook of hillside, and direct what work can be done, till I'm seventy,
if I live so long. And wee Pussie must come to look and teach Swiss
girls to be kind and tidy.
Here's Crawley come for the letters.
To Mrs. JOHN SIMON
28th May, 1869.
MY DEAR S., I was very glad of your note, though very angry
with you for thinking I didn't know what could or couldn't be done
for the Alps.
It is not to arrest their fall. It is to arrest the Rainfall on their
sides that I mean to work. I will take a single hillside; and so trench
it that I can catch the rainfall of three average years at once, if it
came down in an hour (that's exaggeration, for the rush would carry
all before it). But I will so trench it (as I say) that I can catch
any rainfall without letting a drop go to the valley. It shall all go
into reservoirs, and thence be taken where, and when, it is wanted.
When I have done this for one hillside, if other people don't do it
for other hillsides, and make the lost valleys of the Alps one Paradise
of safe plenty, it is their fault not mine.* But, if I die, I will die
digging like Faust. 1
* Of course, to deal with the ?-az'fall is easy ; but it will be much to
do that. The great devastations are caused by snow melting, and for that
I must have a great work of Fortification at the narrowest point of every
great lateral valley, sacrificing the ground above my fort, and making
it a small lake with capacity of six foot rise in an hour. I know I can
do it, but I must succeed in the less thing first.
1 [See the end of the Second Part of Goethe's Faust.]
568 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1869
I am doing good work here, and hope it will give you some pleasure
to know this, and that I am getting stronger at the same time.
I've written to Couttet asking him about that land if I can have
it, Til begin there at once. 1
Please, when you can, go again on a fine day, and ask for Mrs.
or Miss Scott. 2 You ,will find either of them very dear and good, and
you will be glad they are there. Love to dear John always, and to
whatever is left of little Boo. Ever your affectionate
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 8
VERONA, ALBERGO DUE TORRI, 18th June .
MY DEAREST CHARLES, That is very delightful, your being at Vevay.
I knew we should see each other again. I should have returned by
the Simplon at any rate, for I have a great and strong plan about
the valley of the Rhone. It is very fortunate for me to have come
to look up into it. But as for time of stay, it depends on my
mother and my work here it cannot be long, at the best, but we'll
have a talk. I can't write much to-day. As for Will and Book, I
have been able to do nothing but my work here. I have not even
looked at the draught of the Will, and didn't get it till too late to
answer to London. The only excuse I made to myself for giving you
the burden of seeing that book out, was that no questions might come
to me I intended you to decide.
The moment I found questions sent I wrote home in a great
passion, "Publish, anyhow." After that, they sent to ask me if I
couldn't find a better word for " manifest," 4 and nearly drove me crazy
with the intense desire to knock them all down with the types.
What they're about now I haven't the slightest idea. What I'm
about, I can't tell you to-day. The horror of living among these foul
Italian wretches and seeing them behave exactly like dogs and flies
among the tombs and churches of their fathers, is more than I can
bear, with any power of rational speech left about anything. But I
am doing good work, and I'm very thankful you are at Vevay. Long-
fellow is in search of you on the Rhine. We had an afternoon here. 5
1 [To this proposed purchase, and its abandonment, Iluskin refers in Pr&terita :
Vol. XXXV. p. 437.]
1 [Friends of Iluskin who at his request stayed at Denmark Hill during his
3 [No. in Norton; vol. i. pp. 204-20G.]
* [Iluskin appears to have kept his own word, which occurs several times in
The Queen of the Air (Vol. XIX. pp. 357, 391, 397).]
5 [See the account of this meeting- in a letter from Iluskin to his mother :
Vol. XIX. p. liv.]
1869] HERCULES AGAINST HYDRA 569
He was so nice. I was drawing in the Piazza dei Signori when he
and his youngest daughter came up and stood beside, looking on.
Don't you think that some people would have liked a photograph
of the old square, with those figures on it ? Antwerp spire is very
fine ; but its details are all bad. It is of the last period of Gothic
decline, but a noble piece of proportion and mass.
I did not forget you at Neuchatel. But they had built a modern
church at the castle and made me sick and I wouldn't have had
you go there. Love to you all. Ever your affectionate J. R.
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON l
VERONA, 14th June, 1869.
MY DEAREST CHARLES, . . . Have you studied the architectural
Developments of Montreux, and the quarry opened in the little glade
behind the church, which was one of the spots that were unique in
Europe (Q. also in America ?). The walks on the hill above Montreux
when you get as high as the pines are very lovely. The narcissi are
all over, I suppose ?
I can't tell you anything about my work there's too much in
hand. It is chiefly drawing, however ; but I can do little of that in
the way I try, and must try, to do it.
Everything is a dreadful Problem to me now; of living things,
from the lizards, and everything worse and less than they (including
those Americans I met the other day 2 ), up to Can Grande and of
dead, everything that is dead, irrevocably, how much !
You know I'm going to redeem that Valley of the Rhone. It's
too bad, and can't be endured any longer- I'm going to get civil to
the Alpine Club, and show them how to be a club indeed Hercules's
against Hydra. If they won't attend to me, I'll do one hillside
myself. There shall not one drop of water go down to the Rhone
from my hillside, unless I choose and when it does, it shall water
pretty things all the way down. And before I die I hope to see a
rampart across every lateral valley holding a pure quiet lake full of
fish, capable of six feet rise at any moment over as much surface as
will take the meltings of the glaciers above it for a month. And if
I don't master the Rhone that way, they shall shut me up in Chillon
for the rest of my days if they like.
I'm not mad ; I've had this in my mind for many years, ever since
I wrote the " Mountain Gloom " chapter ; 3 and I planned it all the
No. 69 in Norton; vol. i. pp. 206-208.]
For a second experience of American fellow-travellers, see below, p. 577.]
See Modern Painters, vol. iv. cli. xix. 27, 30 (Vol. VI. pp. 409, 411).]
570 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1869
way from Vevay over the Simplon this last year. How far people
will do it, I know not, but I know it can be done.
I am up always at before 5, and at work at 6, as I used to be
in 1845. But my hand gets shaky by 12 o'clock like this and you
can't read more of it than this in a day, I'm sure. Ever your affec-
tionate J. R.
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON l
VERONA, 16/A June, 1869.
MY DEAREST CHARLES, I have perhaps alarmed you by the appa-
rent wildness and weakness of the two letters I have sent you. But
I am neither wild nor weak, in comparison with what I have been
in former days: and in thinking of me, you must always remember
that it is impossible for you at all to conceive the state of mind of
a person who has undergone as much pain as I have. I trace this
incapability continually in all your thoughts and words about me.
Chiefly, in your thinking it possible (or right, if it were) for me to
But in many other little ways. However, this is to assure you
that I can still write tolerably straight, and add up (a few) figures,
and re-word the matters I have in brain and hand. And I have many
serious ones just now ; the knittings together of former purposes,
with present anger and sorrow. Of which in due time. Ever your
loving friend, JOHN RUSKIN.
To Miss JOAN AGNEW
[VERONA] IQth June, 1809.
I have your nice letter about the novels and Enoch Arden.
Yes, that is what I felt, when I read it how much we have to be
thankful for, in wee Pussies and Cuzzies that are within three days 1 post.
To my mind, the saddest and strangest thing vet so like human
life but the deepest piece of the tragedy is the deceiving of the wife
by the True Dream, "Under the Palm Trees." 2 The Vain Providence,
1 [No. 70 in Xorton ; vol. i. p. 209.]
* [The passage where Annie, praying for a sign whether Enoch be indeed dead -
"Suddenly put her finger on the text,
' Under the palm-tree.' That was nothing to her :
No meaning there : she closed the Hook and slept :
When lo ! her Enoch sitting on a height,
I nder a palm-tree, over him the Sun:
' He is gone,' she thought, ' he is happy. . . . ' "
1869] THE SENSE OF LONELINESS 571
the Good Spirit becoming a Lying one. Every day the world and
its ways get more terrible to me.
But I'm drawing a Griffin ! l
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 2
VERONA, 21st June, '69.
MY DEAREST CHARLES, Do you recollect that line of Horace's about
Ulysses, " Adversis rerum immersabilis undis " ? 3 I do not know any
sentence in any book that has so often helped me as that, but there
is so strange a relation between it and the end of Ulysses in Dante.
I recollect no evidence of Dante's knowing Horace at all : and it is so
very strange to me that he has precisely contradicted Horace, in his
mysterious death, "Infin che il mar fu sopra noi richiuso." 4 It is the
most melancholy piece in all Dante that to me.
I wish I could give you, for an instant, my sense of sailing on
lonely sea, and your writing to me from far away about things so very
practical and important on the shore. Which, of course, I ought to
care for, and to leave all properly arranged "fin che il mar sia sopra
me richiuso." But I don't care about them. Or, take the comic side
of it; Jonathan Oldbuck leaves Lovel, who is sensible and practical,
to bring out his essay on the Prastorium. Lovel doesn't bring it out r
and writes its title-page, calling it " an attempt at identification 5 of the
Kaim of Kinprunes, with the landing place of Agricola," and keeps
teasing Jonathan to write his Will ! . . .
And, indeed, if I were to die now, the life would have been such
a wreck that you couldn't even make anything of the drift-wood. It
really is more important and practical for me to try before I die
to lead itwo or three people to think " whether there be any Holy
Ghost," 6 than even to make sure that you have my watch and seals
to play with though I should like you to have them. Only I'm not
1 [The griffin sustaining the pillar on the north side of the Duomo porch. The
drawing is at Oxford : see Vol. XIX. p. 449, Vol. XX. p. 82.]
2 [Atlantic Monthly, August 1904, vol. 94, pp. 164-165. No. 71 in Norton;
vol. i. pp. 210-214. Some sentences from the letter ("Don't send me any
letters . . . ha dirt got any," and "One doesn't ' attempt' . . . let alone a
bridle ") had been printed by Professor Norton in his Introduction (p. xiii.) to
the American " Brantwood" edition of Queen of the Air, 1891.]
3 [Epistles, I. 2, 22.]
4 [Inferno, xxvi., last line. Ruskin comments on the passage in Munera Pulveris,
93 (Vol. XVII. p. 214), and Eagle's Nest, 75 (Vol. XXII. p. 176).]
5 [See above, p. 565 ; and Scott's Antiquary, chaps, iv. and xiv. Ruskin imagines
what Mr. Norton would have done as Lovel, and, in the matter of the will, makes
Lovel do what Mr. Norton was doing. For in the novel it is Oldbuck who pro-
vides Lovel with a title for his Epic, to which his own essay is to be an appendix.]
6 [Acts xix. 2.]
572 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1869
sure after all whether it is really me, or an ideal of me in your head,
that you love. I don't believe anybody loves me, except my mother
and poor little Joan.
... I really am getting practical. Last night full moon the
metal cross on the tomb summit, which I have named in The Stones
of Venice as " chief of all the monuments of a land of mourning, 1 ' 1 ]
reflected the moonlight as it rose against the twilight, and looked
like a cross of real pale fire for the last time I believe from the old
roof, for they take it off to-day, or to-morrow, to " restore it." Well,
in old times, I should have thought that very pretty ; whereas now I
reflected that with four tallow candles stuck on the cross-ends I could
produce a much brighter effect. And Tin thinking of writing Hamlet's
soliloquy into Norton-&-Millesque. "The question which under these
circumstances must present itself to the intelligent mind, is whether
to exist, or not to exist," etc. . . .
Don't send me any letters that will require any sort of putting
up with or patience, because I haven't got any. Only this I'll say
I've suffered so fearfully from Reticences- all my life that I think sheer
blurting out of all in one's head is better than silence. . . .
By the way, Charles, when I'm dead, do you mean to publish my
sketches entitled " An attempt to draw the cathedral of Verona," etc.,
etc., because that would be quite true; but remember, one doesn't
"attempt" to interpret an inscription. 3 One either does it right or
wrong ; it is either a translation or a mistake. Of course, there are
mistakes in all interpretation, but the gist of them is either a thing
done or undone ; it is not an attempt, except in the process of it.
This Italy is such a lovely place to study liberty in ! There are
the vilest wretches of ape-faced children riding on my griffins 4 all day
long, or throwing stones at the carvings that ever were left to find
the broad way to Hades without so much as a blinker, let alone a
bridle. Can't write any more to-day. Ever your loving J. 11.
To Miss JOAN AGXKW
[VKIIONA] 28th June.
There is something very curious in the Spirit-world of this Verona;
I am sure of that. The principal or at least the most beautiful
1 [Vol. IX. p. 177. For the " restoration " of this Castelbarco Tomb, see
Vol. XIX. pp. xlix., 4.W.]
2 [Compare above, p. 410.]
3 ["This se
3 ["This sentence must have reference to some ill-judged suggestion of mine
which I have quite forgotten, in regard to the title of his book which now stands
in full as The (Jiieen of the Air: being a Study of the Greek Mtjtlut of Cloud and
Storm." C. E. X.]
4 [The griffins on the porch of the cathedral of Verona.]
1869] TINTORET REVIEWED 573
tomb I am at work upon is of Can Mastino della Scala who had
three daughters. The first, Madonna Beatrice, who, the old history
says, " had all the graces that heaven could give a woman beautiful
in all her person wise, having a manly mind, and all lofty customs"
(manners and behaviour !), " so that, by all, she was deservedly called
the Queen " (Regina and, in fact, in other histories she is never
called Beatrice but Reina della Scala ; so that I never knew till the
other day it was not her real name). Then the second daughter was
"Madonna Alta-Luna" ("Lady Moon in her height"). And what do
you think the third was called ? " Madonna Verde " l Lady Green.
Now you must recollect that here in Italy in the heated and arid
ground Green is of all colours the most refreshing so that " Lady
Green " is as pleasant to an Italian ear as Lady Hose would be to
us. And then fancy her memory kept in the garden always by the
green Roses !
To his MOTHER
VENICE, Monday, 2nd July, 18G9.
MY DEAKEST MOTHER, I have been about all day with Holman
Hunt. 2 Wind against me in the Grand Canal just in time for post
and no more. Quite well and ever your loving son, J. RUSKIN.
Not so late as I thought, after all. I am made very thoughtful
by this review of Tintoret after so many seventeen years by think-
ing what grand things I might have done, by this time, if I had
gone on consistently working as I did those angels. 3 And I am so
anxious at least now to spend my last ten years well and so puzzled
what to choose out of the much I can do that no one else can Tintoret
or Turner neither of them visible to any one but me nor the colours
of architecture nor of skies. And life so short at best.
To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 4
VERONA, llth July, 1869.
MY DEAREST CHARLES, I am glad the heat has come, for your
sake and the vines 1 , though on this side of the Alps there has been
no cold, though no settled weather. The heat does not hurt me it
is always cool in the churches and I have not done half the things
1 [See Le Historic e Futti de Veronesi nelli tempi d'il popolo et signori Scaligeri,
by Torello Sarayna : Verona, 1542, p. 35. For other references to the book, see
Vol. XIX. pp. 439 n., 455.]
2 [See Mr. Hunt's recollections: Vol. XXXIV. pp. 661, 662.]
3 [See Plate 11 in Vol. IV. (p. 332).]
4 [No. 72 in Norton; vol. i. pp. 214-216.]
LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1869
I want yet, nor shall I, but must stay as long as I can and do all I
can ; they are destroying so fast, and so vilely, not merely taking away
the old, but putting up new, which destroys all round. They have
pulled down the remains of Theodoric's palace on the hill 1 (there being
no spot of Italian ground on which they could build a barrack but
that) and they have built a barrack about the size of the Vatican,
which, as Murray's Guide complacently and reverently remarks, "forms
a principal object in all the views of Verona." I am in no humour
for talk nor for rest except sleep, of which I get all I can.
Why do you call Byron insincere ? I should call his fault " incon-
tinence of emotion. 11 I call him one of the sincerest, though one of
the vainest, of men ; there is not a line he has written which does
not seem to me as true as his shame for his clubfoot. He dresses his
thoughts, so does Pope, so Virgil, but that is a fault, if a fault,
of manner ; it is not dishonest. And the more I know, whether of
scenery or history, the truer I find him, through his manner. He is
only half educated, like Turner, and is half a cockney, and wholly a
sensualist, and a very different sort of person from a practical and
thorough gentleman like Joinville. 2 But he is not insincere and he
cared for Greece, and could understand all nobleness. If he were
only at Venice now, I think we should have got on with each other.
It is very wonderful to me to be either in Venice, or here. Such a
Dead World of other people's lives and one's own.
Write, care of Rawdon Brown, Esq., Casa della Vida, Venezia.
Love to you all. Ever your affectionate J. RUSKIN.
To his MOTHER
VENICE, Friday, IGth July, 1809.
I have your beautifully written letter of the 12th, and I do not think
I have missed any if I have not properly acknowledged them, it is
only because they are always so beautifully written that I should just
have to say the same thing over and over again, and it would look
as if I only wanted to flatter you.
I will arrange then so as not to have to come abroad again after
coining home. You seem to think I do not like coming home while
you are alone; but you never were more mistaken. If life and time
were unlimited I would come home instantly, and never leave you, but
for little changes of air. But I am fifty, and my sight may fail soon
of its present power and I am quite certain that mv duty is just as
1 [See "Verona and its Rivers," 8, Vol. XIX. p. 433.]
2 [See above, p. o~>o .]
1869] EDUCATION AS SEPARATOR 575
much here, and not at Denmark Hill, as if I were a rector ordered to
a foreign church, or a colonel sent abroad on active service.
I am enjoying Venice very much, however, as a rest. I have not
thought it so beautiful since I was a boy. Whatever I do, or do
not, I will be at home for your birthday, and we will have happy
I think this last letter of yours is the best written of all, it is so