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Title: Fors Clavigera (Volume 6 of 8)

Letters to the workmen and labourers of Great Britain

Author: John Ruskin

Release date: March 1, 2023 [eBook #70181]

Language: English

Original publication: United Kingdom: George Allen, 1871

Credits: Jeroen Hellingman and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at for Project Gutenberg (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)


Newly Designed Front Cover.

Original Title Page.



Vol. VI.




(In the house of a friend who, being ashamed of me and my words, requests that this Fors may not be dated from it.)

Live and learn.’ I trust it may yet be permitted me to fulfil the adage a few years longer, for I find it takes a great deal of living to get a little deal of learning. (Query, meaning of ‘deal’?—substantive of verb deal—as at whist?—no Johnson by me, and shall be sure to forget to look when I have.) But I have learned something this morning,—the use of the holes in the bottom of a fireshovel, to wit. I recollect, now, often and often, seeing my mother sift the cinders; but, alas, she never taught me to do it. Did not think, perhaps, that I should ever have occasion, as a Bishop, to occupy myself in that manner; nor understand,—poor sweet mother,—how advisable it might be to have some sort of holes in my shovel-hat, for sifting cinders of human soul. [2]

Howsoever, I have found out the art, this morning, in the actual ashes; thinking all the time how it was possible for people to live in this weather, who had no cinders to sift. My hostess’s white cat, Lily, woke me at half-past five by piteous mewing at my window; and being let in, and having expressed her thanks by getting between my legs over and over again as I was shaving, has at last curled herself up in my bed, and gone to sleep,—looking as fat as a little pillow, only whiter; but what are the cats to do, to-day, who have no one to let them in at the windows, no beds to curl up into, and nothing but skin and bones to curl?

‘It can’t be helped, you know;—meantime, let Lily enjoy her bed, and be thankful, (if possible, in a more convenient manner). And do you enjoy your fire, and be thankful,’ say the pious public: and subscribe, no doubt, at their Rector’s request, for an early dole of Christmas coals. Alas, my pious public, all this temporary doling and coaling is worse than useless. It drags out some old women’s lives a month or two longer,—makes, here and there, a hearth savoury with smell of dinner, that little knew of such frankincense; but, for true help to the poor, you might as well light a lucifer match to warm their fingers; and for the good to your own hearts,—I tell you solemnly, all your comfort in, such charity is simply, Christ’s dipped sop, given to you for signal to somebody else than Christ, that it is his hour to find the windows of your soul open—to the Night, [3]whence very doleful creatures, of other temper and colour than Lily, are mewing to get in.

Indeed, my pious public, you cannot, at present, by any coal or blanket subscription, do more than blind yourselves to the plain order “Give to him that asketh thee; and from him that would borrow of thee, turn not thou away.”

To him that asketh us, say the public,—but then—everybody would ask us.

Yes, you pitiful public,—pretty nearly everybody would: that is indeed the state of national dignity, and independence, and gushing prosperity, you have brought your England into; a population mostly of beggars, (at heart); or, worse, bagmen, not merely bearing the bag—but nothing else but bags;—sloppy star-fishy, seven-suckered stomachs of indiscriminate covetousness, ready to beg, borrow, gamble, swindle, or write anything a publisher will pay for.

Nevertheless your order is precise, and clear; ‘Give to him that asketh thee’—even to the half of your last cloak—says St. Martin; even to the whole of it, says Christ: ‘whosoever of you forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be my disciple.’

‘And you yourself, who have a house among the lakes, and rooms at Oxford, and pictures, and books, and a Dives dinner every day, how about all that?’

Yes, you may well ask,—and I answer very distinctly and frankly, that if once I am convinced (and it is [4]not by any means unlikely I should be so) that to put all these things into the hands of others, and live, myself, in a cell at Assisi, or a shepherd’s cottage in Cumberland, would be right, and wise, under the conditions of human life and thought with which I have to deal—very assuredly I will do so.

Nor is it, I repeat, unlikely that such conviction may soon happen to me; for I begin to question very strictly with myself, how it is that St. George’s work does not prosper better in my hands.

Here is the half-decade of years, past, since I began the writing of Fors, as a byework, to quiet my conscience, that I might be happy in what I supposed to be my own proper life of Art-teaching, at Oxford and elsewhere; and, through my own happiness, rightly help others.

But Atropos has ruled it quite otherwise. During these five years, very signal distress has visited me, conclusively removing all possibilities of cheerful action; separating and sealing a great space of former life into one wide field of Machpelah; and leaving the rest sunless. Also, everything I have set hand to has been unprosperous; much of it even calamitous;—disappointment, coupled with heavy money loss, happening in almost every quarter to me, and casting discredit on all I attempt; while, in things partly under the influence and fortune of others, and therefore more or less successful,—the schools at Oxford especially, which owe the greater part of their efficiency to the fostering zeal of Dr. Acland, [5]and the steady teaching of Mr. Macdonald,—I have not been able, for my own share, to accomplish the tenth part of what I planned.

Under which conditions, I proceed in my endeavour to remodel the world, with more zeal, by much, than at the beginning of the year 1871.

For these following reasons.

First, that I would give anything to be quit of the whole business; and therefore that I am certain it is not ambition, nor love of power, nor anything but absolute and mere compassion, that drags me on. That shoemaker, whom his son left lying dead with his head in the fireplace the other day,1—I wish he and his son had never been born;—but as the like of them will be born, and must so die, so long as things remain as they are, there’s no choice for me but to do all I know to change them, since others won’t.

Secondly. I observe that when all things, in early life, appeared to be going well for me, they were by no means going well, in the deep of them, but quite materially and rapidly otherwise. Whence I conclude that though things appear at present adverse to my work and me, they may not at all be adverse in the deep of them, but quite otherwise.

Thirdly. Though in my own fortune, unprosperous, and in my own thoughts and labour, failing, I find more and more every day that I have helped many persons [6]unknown to me; that others, in spite of my failures, begin to understand me, and are ready to follow; and that a certain power is indeed already in my hands, woven widely into the threads of many human lives; which power, if I now laid down, that line (which I have always kept the murmur of in my ears, for warning, since first I read it thirty years ago,)—

“Che fece per viltate’l gran rifiuto,”2

would be finally and fatally true of me.

Fourthly, not only is that saying of Bacon’s of great comfort to me, “therefore extreme lovers of their country, or masters, were never fortunate; neither can they be, for when a man placeth his thoughts without himself, he goeth not his own way,”3 for truly I have always loved my masters, Turner, Tintoret, and Carlyle, to the exclusion of my own thoughts; and my country more than my own garden: but also, I do not find in the reading of history that any victory worth having was ever won without cost; and I observe that too open and early prosperity is rarely the way to it.

But lastly, and chiefly. If there be any truth in the vital doctrines of Christianity whatsoever,—and [7]assuredly there is more than most of us recognise, or than any of us believe,—the offences committed in this century by all the nations of Christendom against the law of Christ have been so great, and insolent, that they cannot but be punished by the withdrawal of spiritual guidance from them, and the especial paralysis of efforts intelligently made for their good. In times of more ignorant sinning, they were punished by plagues of the body; but now, by plagues of the soul, and widely infectious insanities, making every true physician of souls helpless, and every false effort triumphant. Nor are we without great and terrible signs of supernatural calamity, no less in grievous changes and deterioration of climate, than in forms of mental disease,4 claiming distinctly to be necromantic, and, as far as I have examined the evidence relating to them, actually manifesting themselves as such. For observe you, my friends, countrymen, and brothers—Either, at this actual moment of your merry Christmas-time, that has truly come to pass, in falling London, which your greatest Englishman wrote of falling Rome, “the sheeted dead, do squeak and gibber in your English streets,”—Or, such a system of loathsome imposture and cretinous [8]blasphemy is current among all classes of England and America, as makes the superstition of all past ages divine truth in comparison!

One of these things is so—gay friends;—have it which way you will: one or other of these, to me, alike appalling; and in your principal street of London society, you have a picture of highly dressed harlots gambling, of naked ones, called Andromeda and Francesca of Rimini, and of Christ led to be crucified, exhibited, for your better entertainment, in the same room; and at the end of the same street, an exhibition of jugglery, professedly imitating, for money, what a large number of you believe to be the efforts of the returned Dead to convince you of your Immortality.

Meantime, at the other end—no, at the very centre of your great Babylon, a son leaves his father dead, with his head, instead of a fire, in the fireplace, and goes out himself to his day’s darg.

‘We are very sorry;—What can we do? How can we help it? London is so big, and living is so very expensive, you know.’

Miserables,—who makes London big, but you, coming to look at the harlotries in it, painted and other? Who makes living expensive, but you, who drink, and eat,5 and dress, all you can; and never in your lives did one stroke of work to get your living,—never [9]drew a bucket of water, never sowed a grain of corn, never spun a yard of thread;—but you devour, and swill, and waste, to your fill, and think yourselves good, and fine, and better creatures of God, I doubt not, than the poor starved wretch of a shoemaker, who shod whom he could, while you gave him food enough to keep him in strength to stitch.

We, of the so-called ‘educated’ classes, who take it upon us to be the better and upper part of the world, cannot possibly understand our relations to the rest better than we may where actual life may be seen in front of its Shakespearean image, from the stalls of a theatre. I never stand up to rest myself, and look round the house, without renewal of wonder how the crowd in the pit, and shilling gallery, allow us of the boxes and stalls to keep our places! Think of it;—those fellows behind there have housed us and fed us; their wives have washed our clothes, and kept us tidy;—they have bought us the best places,—brought us through the cold to them; and there they sit behind us, patiently, seeing and hearing what they may. There they pack themselves, squeezed and distant, behind our chairs;—we, their elect toys and pet puppets, oiled, and varnished, and incensed, lounge in front, placidly, or for the greater part, wearily and sickly contemplative. Here we are again, all of us, this Christmas! Behold the artist in tumbling, and in painting with white and red,—our object of worship, and applause: here sit we [10]at our ease, the dressed dolls of the place, with little more in our heads, most of us, than may be contained inside of a wig of flax and a nose of wax; stuck up by these poor little prentices, clerks, and orange-sucking mobility, Kit, and his mother, and the baby—behind us, in the chief places of this our evening synagogue. What for? ‘They did not stick you up’ say you,—you paid for your stalls with your own money. Where did you get your money? Some of you—if any Reverend gentlemen, as I hope, are among us,—by selling the Gospel; others by selling Justice; others by selling their Blood—(and no man has any right to sell aught of these three things, any more than a woman her body,)—the rest, if not by swindling, by simple taxation of the labour of the shilling gallery,—or of the yet poorer or better persons who have not so much, or will not spend so much, as the shilling to get there? How else should you, or could you, get your money,—simpletons?

Not that it is essentially your fault, poor feathered moths,—any more than the dead shoemaker’s. That blasphemous blockheadism of Mr. Greg’s,6 and the like of him, that you can swill salvation into other people’s bodies out of your own champagne-bottles, is the main root of all your national miseries. Indeed you are willing enough to believe that devil’s-gospel, you rich ones; or [11]most of you would have detected the horror of it before now; but yet the chief wrong lies with the assertors of it,—and once and again I tell you, the words of Christ are true,—and not their’s; and that the day has come for fasting, and prayer, not for feasting; but, above all, for labour—personal and direct labour—on the Earth that bears you, and buries—as best it can.

9th December.—I heard yesterday that the son of the best English portrait-painter we have had since Gainsborough, had learnt farming; that his father had paid two hundred pounds a year to obtain that instruction for him; and that the boy is gone, in high spirits, to farm—in Jamaica! So far, so good. Nature and facts are beginning to assert themselves to the British mind. But very dimly.

For, first, observe, the father should have paid nothing for that boy’s farming education. As soon as he could hold a hoe, the little fellow should have been set to do all he could for his living, under a good farmer for master; and as he became able to do more, taught more, until he knew all that his master knew,—winning, all the while he was receiving that natural education, his bread by the sweat of his brow.

‘But there are no farmers who teach—none who take care of their boys, or men.’

Miserables again, whose fault is that? The landlords choose to make the farmers middlemen between the peasants and themselves—grinders, not of corn, but of [12]flesh,—for their rent. And of course you dare not put your children under them to be taught.

Read Gotthelf’s ‘Ulric the Farm Servant’ on this matter. It is one of his great novels,—great as Walter Scott’s, in the truth and vitality of it, only inferior in power of design. I would translate it all in Fors, if I had time; and indeed hope to make it soon one of my school series, of which, and other promised matters, or delayed ones, I must now take some order, and give some account, in this opening letter of the year, as far as I can, only, before leaving the young farmer among the Blacks, please observe that he goes there because you have all made Artificial Blacks of yourselves, and unmelodious Christys,—nothing but the whites of your eyes showing through the unclean skins of you, here, in Merry England, where there was once green ground to farm instead of ashes.

And first,—here’s the woodcut, long promised, of a rose-leaf cut by the leaf-cutting bee, true in size and shape; a sound contribution to Natural History, so far as it reaches. Much I had to say of it, but am not in humour to-day. Happily, the letter from a valued Companion, Art. III. in Notes, may well take place of any talk of mine.7


Secondly, I promised a first lesson in writing, of which, [13]therefore, (that we may see what is our present knowledge on the subject, and what farther we may safely ask Theuth8 to teach,) I have had engraved two examples, one of writing in the most authoritative manner, used for modern service, and the other of writing by a practised scribe of the fourteenth century. To make the comparison fair, we must take the religious, and therefore most careful, scripture of both dates; so, for example of modern sacred scripture, I take the casting up of a column in my banker’s book; and for the ancient, a letter A, with a few following words, out of a Greek Psalter, which [14]is of admirable and characteristic, but not (by any honest copyist,) inimitable execution.

Hurried writing.

Here then, first, is modern writing; in facsimile of which I have thought it worth while to employ Mr. Burgess’s utmost skill; for it seems to me a fact of profound significance that all the expedients we have invented for saving time, by steam and machinery, (not to speak of the art of printing,) leave us yet so hurried, and flurried, that we cannot produce any lovelier calligraphy than this, even to certify the gratifying existence of a balance of eleven hundred and forty-two pounds, thirteen shillings, and twopence, while the old writer, though required, eventually, to produce the utmost possible number of entire psalters with his own hand, yet has time for the execution of every initial letter of them in the manner here exhibited.

Respecting which, you are to observe that this is pure writing; not painting or drawing, but the expression of form by lines such as a pen can easily produce, (or a brush used with the point, in the manner of a pen;) and with a certain habitual currency and fluent [15]habit of finger, yet not dashing or flourishing, but with perfect command of direction in advance, and moment of pause, at any point.

Greek handwriting: αγαπήσω σε κύριη ἠ ισχύς μουagapēsō se kyriē ē ischys mou

You may at first, and very naturally, suppose, good reader, that it will not advance your power of English writing to copy a Greek sentence. But, with your pardon, the first need, for all beautiful writing, is that your hand should be, in the true and virtuous sense, free; that is to say, able to move in any direction it is ordered, and not cramped to a given slope, or to any given form of letter. And also, whether you can learn Greek or not, it is well, (and perfectly easy,) to learn the Greek alphabet, that if by chance a questionable word occur in your Testament, or in scientific books, you may be able to read it, and even look it out in a dictionary. And this particular manner of Greek writing I wish you to notice, because it is such as Victor [16]Carpaccio represents St. Jerome reading in his study; and I shall be able to illustrate by it some points of Byzantine character of extreme historical interest.

Copy, therefore, this letter A, and the following words, in as perfect facsimile as you can, again and again, not being content till a tracing from the original fits your copy to the thickness of its penstroke. And even by the time next Fors comes out, you will begin to know how to use a pen. Also, you may at spare times practise copying any clearly-printed type, only without the difference of thickness in parts of letters; the best writing for practical purposes is that which most resembles print, connected only, for speed, by the current line.

Next, for some elementary practice of the same kind in the more difficult art of Reading.

A young student, belonging to the working classes, who has been reading books a little too difficult or too grand for him, asking me what he shall read next, I have told him, ‘Waverley’—with extreme care.

It is true that, in grandeur and difficulty, I have not a whit really lowered his standard; for it is an achievement as far beyond him, at present, to understand ‘Waverley,’ as to understand the ‘Odyssey;’ but the road, though as steep and high-reaching as any he has travelled, is smoother for him. What further directions I am now going to give him, will be good for all young men of active minds who care to make such activity serviceable. [17]

Read your ‘Waverley,’ I repeat, with extreme care: and of every important person in the story, consider first what the virtues are; then what the faults inevitable to them by nature and breeding; then what the faults they might have avoided; then what the results to them of their faults and virtues, under the appointment of fate.

Do this after reading each chapter; and write down the lessons which it seems to you that Scott intended in it; and what he means you to admire, what to despise.

Secondly,—supposing you to be, in any the smallest real measure, a Christian,—begin the history of Abraham, as preparatory to that of the first Law-giver whom you have in some understanding to obey. And the history of Abraham must be led up to, by reading carefully from Genesis ix. 20th, forward, and learning the main traditions which the subsequent chapters contain.

And observe, it does not matter in the least to you, at present, how far these traditions are true. Your business is only to know what is said in Genesis. That does not matter to you, you think? Much less does it matter what Mr. Smith or Mr. Robinson said last night at that public meeting; or whether Mr. Black, or his brother, shot Mrs. White; or anything else whatever, small or great, that you will find said or related in the morning papers. But to know what is said in Genesis will enable you to understand, in some sort, the [18]effect of that saying on men’s minds, through at least two thousand years of the World’s History. Which, if you mean to be a scholar and gentleman, you must make some effort to do.

And this is the way to set about it. You see the tenth chapter of Genesis names to you the children, and children’s children, of Noah, from whom the nations of the world (it says) came, and by whom the lands of the world (it says) were divided.

You must learn them by rote, in order. You know already, I suppose, the three names, Shem, Ham, and Japheth; begin with Shem, and learn the names of his sons, thus:

Elam. Asshur. Arphaxad. Lud. Aram.
(In his days was the earth divided.)


Now, you see that makes a pretty ornamental letter T, with a little joint in the middle of its stalk.

And this letter T you must always be able to write, out of your head, without a moment’s hesitation. However stupid you may be at learning by rote, thus much can always be done by dint of sheer patient repetition. Read the centre column straight down, over and again, for an hour together, and you will find it at last begin to stick in your head. Then, as soon as it is fast there, say it over and over again when it is dark, or when you are out walking, till you can’t make a mistake in it.

Then observe farther that Peleg, in whose days the earth was divided, had a brother named Joktan, who had thirteen children. Of these, you need not mind the names of ten; but the odd three are important to you. Sheba, Ophir, and Havilah. You have perhaps heard of these before; and assuredly, if you go on reading Fors, you will hear of them again.

And these thirteen children of Joktan, you see, had their dwelling “from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar, a mount of the East.” I don’t know anything about Mesha and Sephar, yet; but I may: in the meantime, learn the sentence, and recollect that these people are fixed somewhere, at any rate, because they are to be Masters of Gold, which is fixed in Eastern, or Western, mountains; but that the children of the other brother, Peleg, can go wherever they like, [20]and often where they shouldn’t,—for “in his days was the earth divided.” Recollect also that the children of both brothers, or, in brief, the great Indian gold-possessing race, and the sacred race of prophets and kings of the higher spiritual world, are in the 21st verse of this chapter called “all the children of Eber.” If you learn so much as this well, it’s enough for this month: but I may as well at once give you the forms you have to learn for the other two sons.

Cush. Mizraim. Phut. Canaan.
Nimrod. Sidon, his first-born, and Heth.

The seventh verse is to be noted as giving the gold-masters of Africa, under two of the same names as those of Asia, but must not be learned for fear of confusion. The form above given must be amplified and commented on variously, but is best learned first in its simplicity.

Gomer. Magog. Madai. Javan. Tubal. Meshech. Tiras.


I leave this blunt-stalked and flat-headed letter T, also, in its simplicity, and we will take up the needful detail in next Fors.

Together with which, (all the sheets being now printed, and only my editorial preface wanting,) I doubt not will be published the first volume of the classical series of books which I purpose editing for St. George’s library;—Xenophon’s Economist, namely, done into English for us by two of my Oxford pupils; this volume, I hope, soon to be followed by Gotthelf’s Ulric the Farm-servant, either in French or English, as the Second Fors, faithfully observant of copyright and other dues, may decide; meantime, our first historical work, relating the chief decision of Atropos respecting the fate of England after the Conquest, is being written for me by a friend, and Fellow of my college of Corpus Christi, whose help I accept, in St. George’s name,—all the more joyfully, because he is our head gardener, no less than our master-historian.

And for the standard theological writings which are ultimately to be the foundation of this body of secular literature, I have chosen seven authors, whose lives and works, so far as the one can be traced or the other certified, shall be, with the best help I can obtain from the good scholars of Oxford, prepared one by one in perfect editions for the St. George’s schools. These seven books will contain, in as many volumes as may be needful, the lives and writings of [22]the men who have taught the purest theological truth hitherto known to the Jews, Greeks, Latins, Italians, and English; namely, Moses, David, Hesiod, Virgil, Dante, Chaucer, and, for seventh, summing the whole with vision of judgment, St. John the Divine.

The Hesiod I purpose, if my life is spared, to translate myself (into prose), and to give in complete form. Of Virgil I shall only take the two first Georgics, and the sixth book of the Æneid, but with the Douglas translation;9 adding the two first books of Livy, for completion of the image of Roman life. Of Chaucer, I take the authentic poems, except the Canterbury Tales; together with, be they authentic or not, the Dream, and the fragment of the translation of the Romance of the Rose, adding some French chivalrous literature of the same date. I shall so order this work, that, in such measure as it may be possible to me, it shall be in a constantly progressive relation to the granted years of my life. The plan of it I give now, and will explain in full detail, that my scholars may carry it out, if I cannot. [23]

And now let my general readers observe, finally, about all reading,—You must read, for the nourishment of your mind, precisely under the moral laws which, regulate your eating for the nourishment of the body. That is to say, you must not eat for the pleasure of eating, nor read, for the pleasure of reading. But, if you manage yourself rightly, you will intensely enjoy your dinner, and your book. If you have any sense, you can easily follow out this analogy: I have not time at present to do it for you; only be sure it holds, to the minutest particular, with this difference only, that the vices and virtues of reading are more harmful on the one side, and higher on the other, as the soul is more precious than the body. Gluttonous reading is a worse vice than gluttonous eating; filthy and foul reading, a much more loathsome habit than filthy eating. Epicurism in books is much more difficult of attainment than epicurism in meat, but plain and virtuous feeding the most entirely pleasurable.

And now, one step of farther thought will enable you to settle a great many questions with one answer.

As you may neither eat, nor read, for the pleasure of eating or reading, so you may do nothing else for the pleasure of it, but for the use. The moral difference between a man and a beast is, that the one acts primarily for use, the other for pleasure. And all acting for pleasure before use, or instead of use, is, in one word, ‘Fornication.’ That is the accurate meaning [24]of the words ‘harlotry,’ or ‘fornication,’ as used in the Bible, wherever they occur spoken of nations, and especially in all the passages relating to the great or spiritual Babylon.

And the Law of God concerning man is, that if he acts for use—that is to say, as God’s servant;—he shall be rewarded with such pleasure as no heart can conceive nor tongue tell; only it is revealed by the Spirit, as that Holy Ghost of life and health possesses us; but if we act for pleasure instead of use, we shall be punished by such misery as no heart can conceive nor tongue tell; but which can only be revealed by the adverse spirit, whose is the power of death. And that—I assure you—is absolute, inevitable, daily and hourly Fact for us, to the simplicity of which I to-day invite your scholarly and literary attention. [25]


The St. George’s Company is now distinctly in existence; formed of about twenty accepted Companions, to whose number I am daily adding, and to whom the entire property of the Company legally belongs, and who have the right at any moment to depose the Master, and dispose of the property in any manner they may think fit. Unless I believed myself capable of choosing persons for Companions who might be safely entrusted with this power I should not have endeavoured to form the society at all. Every one of these Companions has a right to know the names and addresses of the rest, which the Master of the Company must furnish him with; and of course the roll of the names, which will be kept in Corpus Christi College, is their legal certificate. I do not choose to begin this book at the end of the year, but at the beginning of the next term it will be done; and as our lawyer’s paper, revised, is now—15th December—in my hands, and approved, the 1st of January will see us securely constituted. I give below the initials of the Companions accepted before the 10th of this month, thinking that my doing so will be pleasing to some of them, and right, for all.

Initials of Companions accepted before 10th December, 1875. I only give two letters, which are I think as much indication as is at present desirable:— [26]

  • 1. D. L.
  • 2. F. C.
  • 3. L. B.
  • 4. B. B.
  • 5. F. T.
  • 6. R. T.
  • 7. G. S.
  • 8. B. A.
  • 9. A. H.
  • 10. T. D.
  • 11. M. K.
  • 12. S. B.
  • 13. G. A.
  • 14. A. H.
  • 15. W. S.
  • 16. W. S.
  • 17. J. B.
  • 18. B. G.
  • 19. H. L.
  • 20. J. F.
  • 21. J. M.
  • 22. R. S.
  • 23. H. C.
  • 24. J. T.
  • 25. J. S.

This ‘Fors’ is already so much beyond its usual limits, and it introduces subject-matter so grave, that I do not feel inclined to go into further business details this month; the rather because in the February ‘Fors,’ with the accounts of the Company, I must begin what the Master of the Company will be always compelled to furnish—statement of his own personal current expenditure. And this will require some explanation too long for to-day. I defer also the Wakefield correspondence, for I have just got fresh information about the destruction of Wakefield chapel, and have an election petition to examine:

I. Our notes for the year 1876 may, I think, best begin with the two pieces of news which follow; and which, by order of Atropos, also followed each other in the column of the ‘Morning Advertiser,’ from which I print them.

For, though I am by this time known to object to Advertisement in general, I beg the public to observe that my objection is only to bought or bribed Advertisement (especially if it be Advertisement of one’s self). But that I hold myself, and this book of mine, for nothing better than Morning, Noon, and [27]Evening Advertisers, of what things appear verily noteworthy in the midst of us. Whereof I commend the circumstances of the death, beneath related, very particularly to the attention of the Bishops of London and York.

Shocking Death from Starvation.—Last night Mr. Bedford, the Westminster coroner, held an inquest at the Board-room, Dean Street, Soho, on the body of Thomas Gladstone, aged 58, of 43, King Street, Seven Dials, a shoemaker, who was found dead on Thursday last.

William Gladstone, a lad of 15, identified the body as that of his father, with whom he and three other children lived. Deceased had been ailing for some time past, and was quite unable to do any work. The recent cold weather had such an effect upon him that he was compelled to remain in his room on Wednesday last, and at three the next morning witness found him sitting up in bed complaining of cold, and that he was dying. Witness went to sleep, and on awaking at eight that morning he found deceased with his head in the fireplace. Thinking he was only asleep, witness went to work, and on returning two hours later he was still in the same position, and it was then found that he was dead.

Coroner.—Why did you not send for a doctor?

Witness.—I didn’t know he wanted one until he was dead, and we found out amongst us that he was dead.

Jane Gladstone, the widow, said she had been living apart from her husband for some months, and first heard of his death at 2.30 on Thursday afternoon, and upon going to his room found him dead lying upon a mattress on the floor. He was always ailing, and suffered from consumption, for which he had received advice at St. George’s Hospital. They had had seven children, and for some time prior to the separation they had been in the greatest distress; and on the birth of her last child, on December 7, 1874, [28]they applied at the St. James’s workhouse for relief, and received two loaves and 2 lb. of meat per week for a month, and at the end of that time one of the relieving officers stopped the relief, saying that they were both able to work. They told the relieving officer that they had no work, and had seven children to keep, but he still refused to relieve them.

By the Coroner.—They did not ask again for relief, as deceased said “he had made up his mind that, after the way he had been turned away like a dog, he would sooner starve,” and she herself would also rather do so. Deceased was quite unable to earn sufficient to maintain the family, and their support fell mainly upon her, but it was such a hard life that she got situations for two of the boys, got a girl into a school, and leaving the other three boys with deceased, took the baby and separated from him. He was in great want at that time.

The Coroner.—Then why did you not go to the workhouse and represent his case to them?

Witness.—What was the good when we had been refused twice?

Mr. Green, the coroner’s officer, said that he believed the witness had been in receipt of two loaves a week from the St. James’s workhouse, but had not called lately for the loaves.

The Coroner said he hardly thought that so poor a woman would refuse or neglect to apply for so valuable a contribution to the needs of a family as two loaves of bread; and some of the jury said that Mr. Green must be mistaken, and that such a statement should be made upon oath if at all. The officer, however, was not sworn.

John Collins, of 43, King Street, said that about eleven o’clock on Thursday morning he met a gentleman on the stairs, who said that he had been up to the room of deceased to take him some work to do, but that the room door was locked, and a child had called out, “Father is dead, and you can’t come in.” Witness at [29]once went for the police, who came, and broke open the door. Upon going into the room witness found a piece of paper (produced) in which was written, “Harry, get a pint of milk for the three of you; father is dead. Tell your schoolmaster you can’t come to school any more. Cut your own bread, but don’t use the butter.” He believed that the eldest boy had returned home at ten o’clock in the morning, and finding two of the boys at school had left the note for them.

Police-constable Crabb, 18 C R., deposed to breaking open the door and finding deceased dead on the floor, with a little child crouching by him shivering with cold.

Dr. Howard Clarke, of 19, Lisle Street, Leicester Square, and Gerrard Street, Soho, said that he was called to see the deceased, and found him lying upon the floor of his room dead and cold, with nothing on him but stockings and a shirt, the room being nearly destitute of furniture. The place was in a most filthy condition, and deceased himself was so shockingly dirty and neglected, and so overrun with vermin, that he (witness) was compelled to wash his hands five times during the post-mortem examination. By the side of the corpse sat a little child about four years old, who cried piteously, “Oh, don’t take me away; poor father’s dead!” There was nothing in the shape of food but a morsel of butter, some arrowroot, and a piece of bread, and the room was cold and cheerless in the extreme. Upon making a post-mortem he found the brain congested, and the whole of the organs of the body more or less diseased. The unfortunate man must have suffered fearfully. The body was extremely emaciated, and there was not a particle of food or drop of liquid in the stomach or intestines. Death had resulted probably from a complication of ailments, but there was no doubt whatever that such death had been much accelerated by want of the common necessaries of life.

The Coroner.—Starvation, in short? [30]

Witness.—Precisely so. I never in all my experience saw a greater case of destitution.

The Coroner.—Then I must ask the jury to adjourn the case. Here is a very serious charge against workhouse officials, and a man dying clearly from starvation, and it is due alike to the family of the deceased, the parish officials, and the public at large, that the case should be sifted to the very bottom, and the real cause of this death elucidated.

Adjourned accordingly.

Shocking Discovery.—A painful sensation was, says the ‘Sheffield Telegraph,’ caused in the neighbourhood of Castleford, near Pontefract, on Friday evening, by the report made to a police-constable stationed at Allerton Bywater that a woman and child had been found dead in bed in Lock Lane, Castleford, under most mysterious circumstances, and that two small children were also found nearly starved to death beside the two dead bodies. The report, however, turned out to be correct. The circumstances surrounding the mystery have now been cleared up. An inquest, held on Saturday at Allerton Bywater, before Dr. Grabham, of Pontefract, reveals the following:—It appears on Sunday, the 28th ult., John Wilson, miner, husband of Emma Wilson, aged thirty-six years (one of the deceased), and father of Fred, aged eighteen months (the other deceased), left home to proceed to his employment at Street House Colliery, and would remain away all the week. Mrs. Wilson was seen going into her house on Monday evening, but was not seen again alive. There were besides the woman three children of very tender years in the house. The neighbours missed the woman and children from Monday night, but finding the blinds were drawn down, concluded that the family had gone to the husband. On Friday evening a neighbour, named Ann Foggett, rapped at the door, and hearing the faint bark of a dog, which was found to be fastened up in a [31]cupboard, continued to knock at the door, and ultimately heard the voice of a child. The door was subsequently burst open, and on proceeding upstairs the sight was horrifying. On the bed lay the mother and infant child dead, beside whom were two other small children in their night dresses. They, too, were nigh death’s door, having been without proper food and clothing evidently since their mother’s death, which must have occurred on the Monday night. Beside the corpse of the mother lay a knife and portions of a loaf of bread, which had been no doubt taken to her by the children to be supplied with some, but being unable to get an answer from her, they had nibbled the middle of the loaf clean away. A post-mortem examination showed that the mother had died from heart disease, and the child on the following day from starvation. The jury returned a verdict to that effect.—Morning Advertiser, December 7th, 1875.

II. The following is sent me by a correspondent. Italics mine throughout. The passage about threshing is highly curious; compare my account of the threshers at Thun. Poor Gilbert had been doubtless set to thresh, like Milton’s fiend, by himself, and had no creambowl afterwards.

Gilbert Burns to James Currie, M.D.

The evils peculiar to the lower ranks of life derive their power to wound us from the suggestions of false pride, and the contagion of luxury, rather than from the refinement of our taste. There is little labour which custom will not make easy to a man in health, if he is not ashamed of his employment, or does not begin to compare his situation with those who go about at their ease. But the man of enlarged mind feels the respect due to him as a man; he has learnt that no employment is dishonourable in itself; that, while he performs aright the duties of the station in which God has placed him, he is as great as a [32]king in the eyes of Him whom he is principally desirous to please. For the man of taste, who is constantly obliged to labour, must of necessity be religious. If you teach him only to reason, you may make him an atheist, a demagogue, or any vile thing; but if you teach him to feel, his feelings can only find their proper and natural relief in devotion and religious resignation. I can say from my own experience that there is no sort of farm labour inconsistent with the most refined and pleasurable state of the mind, that I am acquainted with, threshing alone excepted. That, indeed, I have always considered insupportable drudgery, and think the man who invented the threshing-machine ought to have a statue among the benefactors of his country.

Perhaps the thing of most importance in the education of the common people is to prevent the intrusion of artificial wants. I bless the memory of my father for almost everything in the dispositions of my mind and the habits of my life, which I can approve of, and for none more than the pains he took to impress my mind with the sentiment that nothing was more unworthy the character of a man than that his happiness should in the least depend on what he should eat and drink.

To this hour I never indulge in the use of any delicacy but I feel a degree of reproach and alarm for the degradation of the human character. If I spent my halfpence in sweetmeats, every mouthful I swallowed was accompanied with shame and remorse. … Whenever vulgar minds begin to shake off the dogmas of the religion in which they have been educated, the progress is quick and immediate to downright infidelity, and nothing but refinement of mind can enable them to distinguish between the pure essence of religion and the gross systems which men have been perpetually connecting it with. Higher salaries for village schoolmasters, high English reading-classes, village libraries,—if once such high education were to become general, the [33]low delights of the public-house, and other scenes of riot, would be neglected; while industry, order, and cleanliness, and every virtue which taste and independence of mind could recommend, would prevail and flourish. Thus possessed of a virtuous and enlightened populace, with delight I should consider my country at the head of all the nations of the earth, ancient or modern.—From the ‘Life of Robert Burns.’

III. The following letter is, as I above said, from a valued, and, at present, my most valued,—Companion;—a poor person, suffering much and constant pain, confined to her room, and seeing from her window only a piece of brick wall and a little space of sky. The bit about the spider is the most delightful thing to me that has ever yet come of my teaching:—

I have told the only two children I have seen this summer, about the bees, and both were deeply interested, almost awe-stricken by the wonderful work. How could they do it without scissors? One, an intelligent boy of six years, is the well-cared-for child of well-to-do parents. He came into my room when I was sorting some of the cut leaves, and I gave him a very cleanly-cut specimen, saying, “What do you think cut this, Willie?” “It was somebody very clever, wasn’t it?” he asked. “Very clever indeed,” I said. “Then it was Miss Mildred!”—his governess. “No, not Miss Mildred,” I replied. He stood silent by the side of the bed for a minute, looking intently at the leaf in his hand, and evidently puzzling out some idea of his own; and I waited for it—a child’s own thoughts are lovely;—then my little visitor turned eagerly to me: “I know,—I know who did it: it was God.”

My second pupil is a girl of twelve years. She was a veritable “little ragamuffin” when—ten months back—we took her, [34]motherless, and most miserably destitute, into our home, in the hope of training her for service; and my sister is persistently labouring—with pleasing success, and disheartening failure—to mould her into an honest woman, while I try to supplement her efforts by giving the child—Harriett—lessons according to ‘Fors.’ But I regret to say it is only partially done, for I am but a learner myself, and sorely hindered by illness: still the purpose is always in my mind, and I do what I can.

Taking advantage of every trifle that will help to give Harriett a love for innocent out-of-door life, we told her—as soon as we could show her some of the cut leaves—of the work of the cutter bees, much to her delight. “And then she forgot all about them,” many persons would assert confidently, if they heard this story.

Not so, for some weeks after she told me with great pride that she had two of “the bees’ leaves,” thinking they were probably only eaten by caterpillars. I asked to see them; and then, how she obtained them. She had found them in a glass of withered flowers sent out of the parlour, and carefully dried them—(she had seen me press leaves); and she added, “all the girls” in her class in the Sunday-school “did want them.” I wondered why the leaves were taken there, until I discovered that she keeps them in her Testament.

So far the possibility; may I now give a proof of the utility of such teaching? When Harriett first came to us, she had an appetite for the horrible that quite frightened me, but it is gradually, I hope, dying out, thanks to the substitution of child-like pleasures. Imagine a child of eleven years coolly asking—as Harriett did a few days after she came—“If you please, has anybody been hanged, or anything, this week?” and she added, before I could reply, and looking quite wistfully at a newspaper lying near, “I should love to hear about it, please.” I could have cried, for I believe there are many lovable [35]young ladies in this town who are fretting out weary lives, to whom work would be salvation, and who can tell the number of such children all about them, who have not a soul to care how they live, or if they die.

Harriett used to catch and kill flies for pleasure, and would have so treated any living insect she saw; but she now holds bees in great respect, and also, I hope, some other insect workers, for one day she was much pleased to find one of the small spotted spiders, which had during the night spun its web across the fire-grate. She asked me many questions about it, (I permit her to do so on principle, at certain times, as a part of her education); she said it was “a shame” to break “such beautiful work,” and left it as long as she could; and then, (entirely of her own accord) she carefully slipped her dusting brush under web and spider, and so put the “pretty little dear” outside the window, with the gentle remark, “There, now you can make another.” Was not this hopeful? This child had lived all her life in one of the low, crowded courts in the centre of the town, and her ignorance of all green life was inconceivable. For instance, to give her a country walk I sent her last March with a parcel to a village near the town, and when she came back—having walked a mile through field-paths—she said she did not think there were “such a many trees and birds in the world.” And on that memorable day she first saw the lambs in the field—within two miles of the house where she was born. Yet she has the purest love for flowers, and goes into very real ecstasies over the commonest weeds and grasses, and is nursing with great pride and affection some roots of daisy, buttercup, and clover which she has brought from the fields, and planted in the little yard at the back of our house; and every new leaf they put forth is wonderful and lovely to her, though of course her ideas of “gardening” are as yet most elementary, and will be for some time, apparently. But it is really helpful to me to see her happiness [36]over it, and also when my friends send me a handful of cut flowers—we have no garden; and the eagerness with which she learns even their names, for it makes me feel more hopeful about the future of our working classes than some of your correspondents.

The despairing letter from Yorkshire in last ‘Fors’—on their incapacity to enjoy wholesome amusements—has prompted me, as I am writing to you, to tell you this as an antidote to the pain that letter must have given you. For if we can do nothing for this generation, cannot we make sure that the next shall be wiser? Have not young ladies a mighty power in their own hands here, if they but use it for good, and especially those who are Sabbath-school teachers? Suppose each one who has a garden felt it to be her duty to make all her scholars as familiar with all the life in it as she is herself, and every one who can take a country walk her duty to take her girls with her—two or three at a time—until they know and love every plant within reach; would not teacher and pupils learn with this much more that would also be invaluable?10 And if our Sunday-school children were not left to killing flies and stoning cats and dogs during the week, would there be so many brutal murders and violent assaults? The little English heathen I have named has attended a Sunday-school for about six years, and the Sunday-school teachers of this town are—most of them—noble men and women, who devoutly labour year after year “all for love, and nothing for reward.” But even good people too often look on the degradation of the lower classes as a matter of course, and despise them for ignorance they cannot help. Here the sneer of “those low shoemakers” is for ever on the lip, yet few ask how they became so much lower than ourselves; still I have very pleasing proof of what may be done even for adults by a little wise guidance, but I must not enter into that subject. Pray forgive me for writing so [37]much: I have been too deeply interested, and now feel quite ashamed of the length of this.

Again thanking you most earnestly for all you have taught me to see and to do,

I remain, very faithfully yours.

IV. What the young ladies, old ladies, and middle aged-ladies are practically doing with the blessed fields and mountains of their native land, the next letter very accurately shows. For the sake of fine dresses they let their fathers and brothers invest in any Devil’s business they can steal the poor’s labour by, or destroy the poor’s gardens by; pre-eminently, and of all Devil’s businesses, in rushing from place to place, as the Gennesaret swine. And see here what comes of it.

A gentleman told me the other night that trade, chiefly in cotton from India, was going back to Venice. One can’t help being sorry—not for our sake, but Venice’s—when one sees what commercial prosperity means now.

There was a lovely picture of Cox’s of Dollwydellan (I don’t think it’s spelt right) at the Club. All the artists paint the Slidr valley; and do you know what is being done to it? It’s far worse than a railway to Ambleside or Grasmere, because those places are overrun already; but Dollwydellan is such a quiet out-of-the-way corner, and no one in the world will be any the better for a railway there. I went about two months ago, when I was getting better from my first illness; but all my pleasure in the place was spoiled by the railway they are making from Betwys. It is really melancholy to see the havoc it makes. Of course no one cares, and they crash, and cut, and destroy, like utter barbarians, as they are. Through the sweetest, wildest little glens, the line is cleared—rocks are blasted for it, trees lie cut—anything and everything is sacrificed—and for what? The tourists will see nothing if they [38]go in the train; the few people who go down to Betwys or Llanwrst to market, will perhaps go oftener, and so spend more money in the end, and Dollwydellan will get some more people to lodge there in the summer, and prices will go up.11 In the little village, a hideous ‘traction engine’ snorted and puffed out clouds of black smoke, in the mornings, and then set off crunching up and down the roads, to carry coals for the works, I think; but I never in my life saw anything more incongruous than that great black monster getting its pipes filled at a little spring in the village, while the lads all stood gaping round. The poor little clergyman told us his village had got sadly corrupted since the navvies came into it; and when he pointed out to us a pretty old stone bridge that was being pulled down for the railway, he said, “Yes, I shall miss that, very much;” but he would not allow that things so orthodox as railways could be bad on the whole. I never intended, when I began, to trouble you with all this, but Cox’s picture set me off, and it really is a great wrong that any set of men can take possession of one of the few peaceful spots left in England, and hash it up like that. Fancy driving along the road up the Slidr valleys and seeing on boards a notice, to “beware when the horn was blowing,” and every now and then hearing a great blasting, smoke, and rocks crashing down. Well, you know just as well as I how horrible it all is. Only I can’t think why people sit still, and let the beautiful places be destroyed.

The owners of that property,—I forget their name, but they had monuments in the little old church,—never live there, [39]having another ‘place’ in Scotland,—so of course they don’t care.12

V. A fragment to illustrate the probable advantage of sulphurous air, and articles, in the country.

I did not think to tell you, when speaking of the fatality of broken limbs in our little dressmaker and her family, that when in St. Thomas’s Hospital with a broken thigh, the doctors said in all probability the tenderness of her bones was owing to the manufacture of sulphur by her mother’s grandfather. Dr. Simon knows her family through operating on the brother of our dressmaker, and often gave them kindly words at the hospital.

I am, dear Sir,
Yours faithfully.


1 See first article in Notes. 

2 Inferno, III. 60. I fear that few modern readers of Dante understand the dreadful meaning of this hellish outer district, or suburb, full of the refuse or worthless scum of Humanity—such numbers that “non haverei creduto, che morte tanta n’ havesse disfatta,”—who are stung to bloody torture by insects, and whose blood and tears together—the best that human souls can give—are sucked up, on the hell-ground, by worms. 

3 Essay XI. 

4 I leave this passage as it was written: though as it passes through the press, it is ordered by Atropos that I should hear a piece of evidence on this matter no less clear as to the present ministry of such powers as that which led Peter out of prison, than all the former, or nearly all, former evidence examined by me was of the presence of the legion which ruled among the Tombs of Gennesaret. 

5 See second article in Notes. 

6 Quoted in last Fors, p. 341, lines 18–22, from ‘Contemporary Review.’ Observe that it is blasphemy, definitively and calmly uttered, first against Nature, and secondly against Christ. 

7 The most valuable notes of the kind correspondent who sent me this leaf, with many others, and a perfect series of nests, must be reserved till spring-time: my mind is not free for them, now. 

8 Compare Letter XVI. 11, and XVII. 7. 


“A Bishop by the altar stood,

A noble Lord of Douglas blood,

With mitre sheen, and rocquet white,

Yet showed his meek and thoughtful eye

But little pride of prelacy;

More pleased that, in a barbarous age,

He gave rude Scotland Virgil’s page,

Than that beneath his rule he held

The bishopric of fair Dunkeld.”

10 Yes, dear lady; see, therefore, the next article. 

11 Yes, my dear, shares down; and—it is some poor comfort for you and me to know that. For as I correct this sheet for press, I hear from the proprietor of the chief slate quarry in the neighbourhood, that the poor idiots of shareholders have been beguiled into tunnelling four miles under Welsh hills—to carry slates! and even those from the chief quarry in question, they cannot carry, for the proprietors are under contract to send them by an existing line. 

12 Will any charitable Christian tell me who the owners are?—in the meantime, “confusion on their banners wait.” 



There were more, and more harmful misprints in last ‘Fors’ than usual, owing to my having driven my printers to despair, after they had made all the haste they could, by late dubitation concerning the relative ages of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, which forced me to cut out a sentence about them, and displace corrected type. But I must submit to all and sundry such chances of error, for, to prevent them, would involve a complete final reading of the whole, with one’s eye and mind on the look-out for letters and stops all along, for which I rarely allow myself time, and which, had I a month to spare, would yet be a piece of work ill spent, in merely catching three t’s instead of two in a “lettter.” The name of the Welsh valley is wrong, too; but I won’t venture on correction of that, which I feel to be hopeless; the reader must, however, be kind enough to transfer the ‘and,’ now the sixth word in the upper line of the [42]note at page 38, and make it the fourth word, instead; to put a note of interrogation at the end of clause in the fourth line of page 35, and to insert an s, changing ‘death’ into ‘deaths’ in the third line of page 27;—the death in Sheffield being that commended to the Episcopic attention of York, and that in London to the Episcopic attention of London.

And this commendation, the reader will I hope perceive to be made in sequel to much former talk concerning Bishops, Soldiers, Lawyers, and Squires;—which, perhaps, he imagined me to have spoken jestingly; or it may be, in witlessness; or it may be, in voluble incipient insanity. Admitting myself in no small degree open to such suspicion, I am now about to re-word some matters which madness would gambol from; and I beg the reader to observe that any former gambolling on my part, awkward or untimely as it may have seemed, has been quite as serious, and intentionally progressive, as Morgiana’s dance round the captain of the Forty Thieves.

If, then, the reader will look at the analysis of Episcopacy in ‘Sesame and Lilies,’ the first volume of all my works; next at the chapter on Episcopacy in ‘Time and Tide;’ and lastly, refer to what he can gather in the past series of ‘Fors,’ he will find the united gist of all to be, that Bishops cannot take, much less give, account of men’s souls unless they first take and give account of their bodies: and that, [43]therefore, all existing poverty and crime in their dioceses, discoverable by human observation, must be, when they are Bishops indeed, clearly known to, and describable by them, or their subordinates. Of whom the number, and discipline in St. George’s Company, if by God’s grace it ever take the form I intend, will be founded on the institution of the same by the first Bishop, or more correctly Archbishop, whom the Christian church professes to obey. For what can possibly be the use of printing the Ten Commandments which he delivered, in gold,—framing them above the cathedral altar,—pronouncing them in a prelatically sonorous voice,—and arranging the responsive supplications of the audience to the tune of an organ of the best manufacture, if the commanding Bishops institute no inquiry whatever into the physical power of—say this starving shoemaker in Seven Dials,—to obey such a command as ‘thou shalt not covet’ in the article of meat; or of his son to honour in any available measure either the father or mother, of whom the one has departed to seek her separate living, and the other is lying dead with his head in the fireplace.

Therefore, as I have just said, our Bishops in St. George’s Company will be constituted in order founded on that appointed by the first Bishop of Israel, namely, that their Primate, or Supreme Watchman, shall appoint under him “out of all the people, able men, such as [44]fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness, and place such over them to be rulers (or, at the least, observers) of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens;”1 and that of these episcopic centurions, captains of fifty, and captains of ten, there will be required clear account of the individual persons they are set over;—even a baby being considered as a decimal quantity not to be left out of their account by the decimal Bishops,—in which episcopacy, however, it is not improbable that a queenly power may be associated, with Norman caps for mitres, and for symbol of authority, instead of the crosier, (or crook, for disentangling lost sheep of souls from among the brambles,) the broom, for sweeping diligently till they find lost silver of souls among the dust.

You think I jest, still, do you? Anything but that; only if I took off the Harlequin’s mask for a moment, you would say I was simply mad. Be it so, however, for this time.

I simply and most utterly mean, that, so far as my best judgment can reach, the present Bishops of the English Church, (with only one exception, known to me,—the Bishop of Natal,) have forfeited and fallen from their Bishoprics by transgression; and betrayal of their Lord, first by simony, and secondly, and chiefly, by lying for God with one mouth, and contending for their own personal interests as a professional body, as [45]if these were the cause of Christ. And that in the assembly and Church of future England, there must be, (and shall be so far as this present body of believers in God and His law now called together in the name of St. Michael and St. George are concerned,) set up and consecrated other Bishops; and under them, lower ministering officers and true “Dogs of the Lord,” who, with stricter inquisition than ever Dominican, shall take knowledge—not of creeds, but of every man’s way and means of life; and shall be either able to avouch his conduct as honourable and just, or bound to impeach it as shameful and iniquitous, and this down to minute details;—above all, or before all, particulars of revenue, every companion, retainer, or associate in the Company’s work being bound to keep such accounts that the position of his affairs may be completely known to the Bishops at any moment: and all bankruptcies or treacheries in money matters thus rendered impossible. Not that direct inquisition will be often necessary; for when the true nature of Theft, with the other particulars of the Moral Law, are rightly taught in our schools, grown-up men will no more think of stealing in business than in burglary. It is merely through the quite bestial ignorance of the Moral Law in which the English Bishops have contentedly allowed their flocks to be brought up, that any of the modern English conditions of trade are possible.

Of course, for such work, I must be able to find [46]what Jethro of Midian assumes could be found at once in Israel, these “men of truth, hating covetousness,” and all my friends laugh me to scorn for thinking to find any such.

Naturally, in a Christian country, it will be difficult enough; but I know there are still that kind of people among Midianites, Caffres, Red Indians, and the destitute, afflicted, and tormented, in dens and caves of the earth, where God has kept them safe from missionaries:—and, as I above said, even out of the rotten mob of money-begotten traitors calling itself a ‘people’ in England, I do believe I shall be able to extricate, by slow degrees, some faithful and true persons, hating covetousness, and fearing God.

And you will please to observe that this hate and fear are flat opposites one to the other; so that if a man fear or reverence God, he must hate covetousness; and if he fear or reverence covetousness, he must hate God; and there is no intermediate way whatsoever. Nor is it possible for any man, wilfully rich, to be a God-fearing person; but only for those who are involuntarily rich, and are making all the haste they prudently and piously can, to be poor; for money is a strange kind of seed; scattered, it is poison; but set, it is bread: so that a man whom God has appointed to be a sower must bear as lightly as he may the burden of gold and of possessions, till he find the proper places to sow them in. But persons desiring to be rich, and accumulating [47]riches, always hate God, and never fear Him; the idol they do fear—(for many of them are sincerely religious) is an imaginary, or mind-sculptured God of their own making, to their own liking; a God who allows usury, delights in strife and contention, and is very particular about everybody’s going to his synagogues on Sunday.

Indeed, when Adam Smith formally, in the name of the philosophers of Scotland and England, set up this opposite God, on the hill of cursing against blessing, Ebal against Gerizim; and declared that all men ‘naturally’ desired their neighbours’ goods; and that in the name of Covetousness, all the nations of the earth should be blessed,—it is true, that the half-bred and half-witted Scotchman had not gift enough in him to carve so much as his own calf’s head on a whinstone with his own hand; much less to produce a well molten and forged piece of gold, for old Scottish faith to break its tables of ten commandments at sight of. But, in leaving to every artless and ignorant boor among us the power of breeding, in imagination, each his own particular calf, and placidly worshipping that privately fatted animal; or, perhaps,—made out of the purest fat of it in molten Tallow instead of molten Gold,—images, which may be in any inventive moment, misshapen anew to his mind, Economical Theology has granted its disciples more perfect and fitting privilege.

From all taint or compliance with such idolatry, the [48]Companions of St. George have vowed to withdraw themselves; writing, and signing their submission to, the First and great Commandment, so called by Christ,—and the Second which is like unto it.

And since on these two hang all the Law and the Prophets, in signing these two promises they virtually vow obedience to all the Law of which Christ then spoke; and belief of all the Prophets of which Christ then spoke. What that law is; who those prophets are;—whether they only prophesied ‘until John,’ or whether St. Paul’s command to all Christians living, “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy,”—is an important little commandment following the two great ones, I cannot tell you in a single letter, even if I altogether knew myself. Partly I do know;—and can teach you, if you will work. No one can teach you anything worth learning but through manual labour; the very bread of life can only be got out of the chaff of it by “rubbing it in your hands.”

You vow, then, that you will at least strive to keep both of these commandments—as far as, what some would call the corruption, but what in honest people is the weakness, of flesh, permits. If you cannot watch an hour, because you don’t love Christ enough to care about His agony, that is your weakness; but if you first sell Him, and then kiss Him, that is your corruption. I don’t know if I can keep either you or myself [49]awake; but at least we may put a stop to our selling and kissing. Be sure that you are serving Christ, till you are tired and can do no more, for that time: and then, even if you have not breath enough left to say “Master, Master” with,—He will not mind.

Begin therefore ‘to-day,’—(which you may, in passing, note to be your present leader’s signal-word or watch-word),—to do good work for Him—whether you live or die,—(see first promise asked of you, Letter II., page 21, explained in Letter VII., page 19, etc.,)—and see that every stroke of this work—be it weak or strong, shall therefore be done in love of God and your neighbour, and in hatred of covetousness. Which that you may hate accurately, wisely, and well, it is needful that you should thoroughly know, when you see it, or feel it. What covetousness is, therefore, let me beg you at once clearly to understand, by meditating on these following definitions.

Avarice means the desire to collect money, not goods. A ‘miser’ or ‘miserable person’ desires to collect goods only for the sake of turning them into money. If you can read French or German, read Molière’s l’Avare, and then get Gotthelf’s ‘Bernese Stories,’ and read ‘Schnitzfritz,’ with great care.

Avarice is a quite natural passion, and, within due limits, healthy. The addition of coin to coin, and of cipher to cipher, is a quite proper pleasure of human life, under due rule; the two stories I ask you to read [50]are examples of its disease; which arises mainly in strong and stupid minds, when by evil fortune they have never been led to think or feel.

Frugality. The disposition to save or spare what we have got, without any desire to gain more. It is constantly, of course, associated with avarice; but quite as frequently with generosity, and is often merely an extreme degree of housewifely habit. Study the character of Alison Wilson in ‘Old Mortality.’

Covetousness. The desire of possessing more than we have, of any good thing whatsoever of which we have already enough for our uses, (adding house to house, and field to field). It is much connected with pride; but more with restlessness of mind and desire of novelty; much seen in children who tire of their toys and want new ones. The pleasure in having things ‘for one’s very own’ is a very subtle element in it. When I gave away my Loire series of Turner drawings to Oxford, I thought I was rational enough to enjoy them as much in the University gallery as in my own study. But not at all! I find I can’t bear to look at them in the gallery, because they are ‘mine’ no more.

Now, you observe, that your creed of St. George says you believe in the nobleness of human nature—that is to say, that all our natural instincts are honourable. Only it is not always easy to say which of them are natural and which not. [51]

For instance, Adam Smith says that it is ‘natural’ for every person to covet his neighbour’s goods, and want to change his own for them; wherein is the origin of Trade, and Universal Salvation.

But God says, ‘Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s goods;’ and God, who made you, does in that written law express to you His knowledge of your inner heart, and instruct you in the medicine for it. Therefore on due consideration, you will find assuredly it is quite unnatural in you to covet your neighbour’s goods.

Consider, first, of the most precious, the wife. It is natural for you to think your own the best and prettiest of women; not at all to want to change her for somebody else’s wife. If you like somebody else’s better than yours, and this somebody else likes yours better than his, and you both want to change, you are both in a non-natural condition, and entirely out of the sphere of happy human love.

Again. It is natural for you to think your own house and garden the nicest house and garden that ever were. If, as should always be, they were your father’s before you, and he and you have both taken proper care of them, they are a treasure to you which no money could buy,—the leaving them is always pain,—the return to them, a new thrill and wakening to life. They are a home and place of root to you, as if you were founded on the ground like its walls, or grew into it like its flowers. You would no more [52]willingly transplant yourself elsewhere than the espalier pear-tree of your own graffing would pull itself out by the roots to climb another trellis. That is the natural mind of a man. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house.” You are in an entirely non-natural state if you do, and, properly speaking, never had a house in your life.

“Nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant.” It is a ‘natural’ thing for masters to get proud of those who serve them; and a ‘natural’ thing for servants to get proud of the masters they serve. (You see above how Bacon connects the love of the master with the love of the country.) Nay, if the service has been true, if the master has indeed asked for what was good for himself, and the servant has done what was good for his master, they cannot choose but like each other; to have a new servant, or a new master, would be a mere horror to both of them. I have got two Davids, and a Kate, that I wouldn’t change for anybody else’s servants in the world; and I believe the only quarrel they have with me is that I don’t give them enough to do for me:—this very morning, I must stop writing, presently, to find the stoutest of the Davids some business, or he will be miserable all day.

“Nor his ox, nor his ass.” If you have petted both of your own, properly, from calf and foal, neither these, nor anything else of yours, will you desire to change [53]for “anything that is his.” Do you really think I would change my pen for your’s, or my inkstand, or my arm-chair, or my Gainsborough little girl, or my Turner pass of St. Gothard? I would see you—— very uncomfortable—first. And that is the natural state of a human being who has taken anything like proper pains to make himself comfortable in God’s good world, and get some of the right good, and true wealth of it.

For, you observe farther, the commandment is only that thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s goods. It does not say that you are not to covet any goods. How could you covet your neighbour’s, if both your neighbour and you were forbidden to have any? Very far the contrary; in the first piece of genealogic geography I have given you to learn, the first descriptive sentence of the land of Havilah is,—“where there is gold;” and it goes on to say, “And the gold of that land is of the best: there is bdellium, and the onyx stone.” In the Vulgate, ‘dellium’ and ‘lapis onichinus.’ In the Septuagint, ‘anthrax,’ and the ‘prase-stone.’

Now, my evangelical friends, here is this book which you call “Word of God,” and idolatrously print for your little children’s reading and your own, as if your eternal lives depended on every word of it. And here, of the very beginning of the world—and the beginning of property—it professes to tell you something. [54]But what? Have you the smallest idea what ‘dellium’ is? Might it not as well be bellium, or gellium, or pellium, or mellium, for all you know about it? Or do you know what an onyx is? or an anthrax? or a prase? Is not the whole verse pure and absolute gibberish and gabble to you; and do you expect God will thank you for talking gibberish and gabble to your children, and telling them—that is His Word? Partly, however, the verse is only senseless to you, because you have never had the sense to look at the stones which God has made. But in still greater measure, it is necessarily senseless, because it is not the word of God, but an imperfectly written tradition, which, however, being a most venerable and precious tradition, you do well to make your children read, provided also you take pains to explain to them so much sense as there is in it, and yourselves do reverently obey so much law as there is in it. Towards which intelligence and obedience, we will now take a step or two farther from the point of pause in last Fors.

Remember that the three sons of Noah are, respectively,

Shem, the father of the Imaginative and Contemplative races.
Japheth, the,, father,, of,, the,, Practical and Constructive.
Ham, the,, father,, of,, the,, Carnal and Destructive.

The sons of Shem are the perceivers of Splendour;[55]—they see what is best in visible things, and reach forward to the invisible.

The sons of Japheth are the perceivers of Justice and Duty; and deal securely with all that is under their hand.

The sons of Ham are the perceivers of Evil or Nakedness; and are slaves therefore for ever—‘servants of servants’: when in power, therefore, either helpless or tyrannous.

It is best to remember among the nations descending from the three great sires, the Persians, as the sons of Shem; Greeks, as the sons of Japheth; Assyrians, as the sons of Ham. The Jewish captivity to the Assyrian then takes its perfect meaning.

This month, therefore, take the first descendant of Ham—Cush; and learn the following verses of Gen. x.:—

“And Cush begat Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one in the earth.

“He was a mighty hunter before the Lord.

“And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel in the land of Shinar.

“Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh.”

These verses will become in future a centre of thought to you, whereupon you may gather, as on one root-germ, what you farther learn of the influence of hunting on [56]the minds of men; and of the sources of Assyrian power, and causes of the Assyrian ruin in Birs Nemroud, out of which you have had those hunting-pieces brought to the narrow passage in the British Museum.

For further subject of thought, this month, read of Carey’s Dante, the 31st canto of the ‘Inferno,’ with extreme care; and for your current writing lesson, copy these lines of Italics, which I have printed in as close resemblance as I can to the Italics of the Aldine edition of 1502.

P ero che come in su la cerchia tonda
Monte reggion di torri si corona,
Cosi la proda che’l pozzo circonda
T orregiavan di mezza la persona
Gli orribili giganti; cui minaccia
Giove del cielo anchora, quando tona.

The putting of the capital letters that begin the stanza, outside, is a remaining habit of the scribes who wrote for the illuminator, and indicated the letter to be enlarged with ornament at the side of the text.

Of these larger capitals, the A given in last Fors, is of a Byzantine Greek school, in which though there is much quiet grace, there is no elasticity or force in the lines. They are always languid, and without spring or evidence of nervous force in the hand. They are not, therefore, perfect models for English writers, though they are useful as exercises in tranquillity of [57]line: and I chose for that and many more reasons, that letter and sentence for our first exercise. But my letter B is to be given from the Northern Schools; and will have spring and power in it, which you cannot at once hope to imitate in a complete letter; and must be prepared for by copying a mere incipient fragment or flourish of ornamental line.

Shell of snail.

This line has been drawn for you, very leisurely indeed, by one of the gentlest of the animals living on our English south downs,—and yet, quietly done as it is, being the result of wholly consistent energy, it is a line which a Byzantine Greek would never have produced [58]in writing, nor even in architecture, except when he was imitating an Ionian one.

You are to draw a horizontal line through the point in the centre of this figure. Then measure the breadth of the six coils on each side, counting from the centre backwards and forwards.

Then draw a vertical line through centre, and measure the breadths above and below. Then draw the complete curve lightly through these fixed points—alter it to your mind—and then paint over it the determined line, with any dark colour and a camel’s hair brush.

The difficulty is to draw it so that there shall not be the smallest portion of it which is not approaching the inner curve, and narrowing the intermediate space. And you will find no trick of compasses will draw it. Choose any number of centres you like, and still I defy you to draw the curve mechanically; it can be done only as I have done it myself, with the free hand, correcting it and correcting till I got it right.2

When you have succeeded, to any moderate extent, in doing this, your hand will have begun to receive the power of executing a serene and dignified flourish instead of a vulgar ‘dash.’ And you may also begin to understand that the word ‘flourish’ itself, as applied to writing, means the springing of its lines into floral exuberance,—therefore, strong procession and growth, which must be in a spiral line, for the stems of plants [59]are always spirals. (See ‘Proserpina,’ Number IV.); and that this bursting out into foliage, in calm swiftness, is a totally different action from the impudent and useless sweeps and loops of vulgar writing.

Further. As your eyes get accustomed to the freely drawn, unmechanical, immeasurable line, you will be able, if you care about architecture, to know a Greek Ionic volute from a vulgar day-labourer’s copy of it—done with compasses and calculations. And you will know how the volute of the throne of Lippi’s Madonna, (though that is studied from the concave side of the shell) shows him to have been Etruscan-bred; and you will begin to see what his power was; and to laugh at the books of our miserable modern builders, filled with elaborate devices for drawing volutes with bits of circles:—the wretches might as well try to draw the lips of Sir Joshua’s Circe,—or the smile in her cat’s triangular eyes, in that manner. Only in Eleutheria of soul and body, shall any human creature draw so much as one rightly bending line.

Any human creature, I say. Little freedom, either of body or soul, had the poor architect who drew this our first model line for us; and yet and yet, simple as his life and labours may be, it will take our best wits to understand them. I find myself, at present, without any startpoint for attempt to understand them. I found the downs near Arundel, being out on them in a sunny day just after Christmas, sprinkled all over with [60]their pretty white shells, (none larger than a sixpence, my drawing being increased as about seven to one, in line, or fifty to one, square,) and all empty, unless perchance some spectral remnant of their dead masters remain inside;—and I can’t answer a single question I ask myself about them. I see they most of them have six whirls, or whorls. Had they six when they were young? have they never more when they are old? Certainly some shells have periodical passion of progress—and variously decorative stops and rests; but these little white continuities down to this woful time of their Christmas emptiness, seem to have deduced their spiral caves in peace.

But it’s of no use to waste time in ‘thinking.’ I shall go and ask some pupil of my dear old friend Dr. Gray at the British Museum, and rejoice myself with a glance at the volutes of the Erectheium—fair home of Athenian thought. [61]


I. I am surprised to find that my Index to Vols. I. and II. of Fors does not contain the important article ‘Pockets’; and that I cannot therefore, without too much trouble, refer to the place where I have said that the Companions of St. George are all to have glass pockets; so that the absolute contents of them may be known of all men. But, indeed, this society of ours is, I believe, to be distinguished from other close brotherhoods that have been, or that are, chiefly in this, that it will have no secrets, and that its position, designs, successes, and failures, may at any moment be known to whomsoever they may concern.

More especially the affairs of the Master and of the Marshals, when we become magnificent enough to have any, must be clearly known, seeing that these are to be the managers of public revenue. For although, as we shall in future see, they will be held more qualified for such high position by contentment in poverty than responsibility of wealth; and, if the society is wise, be chosen always from among men of advanced age, whose previous lives have been recognized as utterly without stain of dishonesty in management of their private business,—the complete publication of their accounts, private as well as public, from the day they enter on the management of the Company’s funds, will be a most wholesome check on the glosses with which self-interest, in the minds even of the honestest people, sometimes may colour or [62]confuse their actions over property on a large scale; besides being examples to the accountants of other public institutions.

For instance, I am myself a Fellow of the Horticultural Society; and, glancing the other day at its revenue accounts for 1874, observed that out of an expenditure of eleven thousand odd pounds, one thousand nine hundred and sixty-two went to pay interest on debts, eleven hundred and ninety to its ‘salaries’—two hundred to its botanical adviser, a hundred and fifty to its botanical professor, a hundred and twenty-six to its fruit committee, a hundred and twenty to its floral committee, four hundred and twenty to its band, nine hundred and ten to its rates and taxes, a hundred and eighty-five to its lawyers, four hundred and thirty-nine to its printers, and three pounds fifteen shillings to its foreign importations’ account, (being interest on Cooper’s loan): whereupon I wrote to the secretary expressing some dissatisfaction with the proportion borne by this last item to the others, and asking for some further particulars respecting the ‘salaries’; but was informed that none could be had. Whereas, whether wisely or foolishly directed, the expenditure of the St. George’s Company will be always open, in all particulars, to the criticism not only of the Companions, but of the outside public. And Fors has so arranged matters that I cannot at all, for my own part, invite such criticism to-day with feelings of gratified vanity; my own immediate position (as I generally stated in last letter) being not in the least creditable to my sagacity, nor likely to induce a large measure of public confidence in me as the Company’s Master. Nor are even the affairs of the Company itself, in my estimate, very brilliant, our collected subscriptions for the reform of the world amounting, as will be seen, in five years, only to some seven hundred and odd pounds. However, the Company and its Master may perhaps yet see better days.

First, then, for the account of my proceedings in the Company’s affairs. Our eight thousand Consols giving us £240 a year, I [63]have appointed a Curator to the Sheffield Museum, namely, Mr. Henry Swan, an old pupil of mine in the Working Men’s College in London; and known to me since as an estimable and trustworthy person, with a salary of forty pounds a year, and residence. He is obliged at present to live in the lower rooms of the little house which is to be the nucleus of the museum:—as soon as we can afford it, a curator’s house must be built outside of it.

I have advanced, as aforesaid, a hundred pounds of purchase-money, and fifty for current expenses; and paid, besides, the lawyers’ bills for the transfer, amounting to £48 16s. 7d.; these, with some needful comments on them, will be published in next Fors; I have not room for them in this.

I have been advised of several mistakes in my subscribers’ list, so I reprint it below, with the initials attached to the numbers, and the entire sum, (as far as I can find out,) hitherto subscribed by each; and I beg of my subscribers at once to correct me in all errors.

The names marked with stars are those of Companions. The numbers 10, 17, 36, 43, and 48 I find have been inaccurately initialled, and are left blank for correction.

List of Subscriptions

£ s. d.
1. D. L.* 24 0 0
2. R. T.* 80 0 0
3. T. K. 5 0 0
4. C. S. 75 0 0
5. A. R. 20 0 0
6. J. M.* 4 4 0
7. P. S. 45 0 0
8. D. A. 20 0 0
9. A. B. 25 0 0
10. 1 1 0
11. G. S.* 2 2 0
12. J. S. 4 0 0 [64]
13. B. A. 9 0 0
14. A. P. 13 10 0
15. W. P. 5 0 0
16. A. H.*. 25 0 0
17. 1 1 0
18. F. E. 10 0 0
19. J. S. 25 0 0
20. — D. 2 0 0
21. C. W. 10 10 0
22. S. B.*. 2 0 0
23. E. G. 6 1 0
24. — L. 1 1 0
25. S. W. 55 0 0
26. B. B.*. 2 3 4
27. J. W. 1 1 0
28. E. F. 50 0 0
29. L. L. 1 5 0
30. A. A. 0 2 6
31. T. D. 5 0 0
32. M. G. 3 3 0
33. J. F. 40 0 0
34. W. S. 10 0 0
35. H. S. 9 0 0
36. 1 1 0
37. A. H. 10 0 0
38. S. S. 1 0 0
39. H. W. 50 0 0
40. J. F. 8 0 0
41. J. T. 5 0 0
42. J. O. 25 0 0
43. 1 1 0
44. A. C. 1 0 0
45. J. G. 5 0 0
46. T. M. 5 5 0
47. J. B.*. 2 11 0
48. 1 1 0 [65]
49. J. D. 0 5 0
50. G. 15 15 0
51. F. B. 1 1 0
52. C. B. 6 0 0
53. H. L. 10 0 0
54. A. G. 0 10 0
£741 14 10

II. Affairs of the Master.

When I instituted the Company by giving the tenth of my available property to it, I had, roughly, seventy thousand pounds in money or land, and thirty thousand3 in pictures and books. The pictures and books I do not consider mine, but merely in my present keeping, for the country, or the persons I may leave them to. Of the seventy thousand in substance, I gave away fourteen thousand in that year of the Company’s establishment, (see above, Letter XLIX., p. 2,) and have since lost fifteen thousand by a relation whom I tried to support in business. As also, during my battle with the booksellers, I have been hitherto losing considerably by my books, (last year, for instance, paying three hundred and ninety-eight pounds to my assistant, Mr. Burgess, alone, for plates and woodcutting, and making a profit, on the whole year’s sales, of fifty pounds), and have been living much beyond my income besides, my seventy thousand is reduced to certainly not more than thirty; and it is very clear that I am too enthusiastically carrying out my own principles, and making more haste to be poor than is prudent, at my present date of possible life, for, at my current rate of expenditure, the cell at Assisi, above contemplated as advisably a pious mortification of my luxury, would soon [66]become a necessary refuge for my ‘holy poverty.’ The battle with the booksellers, however, is now nearly won; and the publishing accounts will soon show better balance: what changes in my mode of living may, nevertheless, be soon either exemplary or necessary will be better understood after I have given account of it for a year.

Here are my opening expenses, then, from 1st January to 20th, and in each following Fors they will be given from 20th to 20th of the month. I content myself, being pressed for space in this number, with giving merely the sums of cheques drawn; somewhat lengthy gossiping explanation of items being also needed, which will come in due place. The four first large sums are, of course, payments of Christmas accounts.

£ s. d. £ s. d.
Balance in Bank, 1st Jan. 1876 1344 17 9
Paid by cheque:
Jan. 1. Jackson, (outdoor Steward, Brantwood) 50 0 0
1. Kate Smith, (indoor Stewardess, Brantwood) 160 0 0
1. David Downes, (Steward in London) 115 0 0
1. David Fudge, (Coachman in London) 60 0 0
1. Secretary, 1st quarter, 1876 25 0 0
4. Frederick Crawley, in charge of school-rooms at Oxford 10 0 0
6. Self, pocket-money 20 0 0
17. Arthur Burgess, assistant engraver 27 10 0
20. New carriage 190 0 0
20. Gift to Carshalton, for care of spring 110 0 0
20. Madame Nozzoli, charities at Florence 10 0 0
20. Mrs. Wonnacott, charities at Abingdon 3 10 0
20. William Ward, for two copies of Turner 21 0 0
20. Charles Murray, for rubbings of brasses, and copy of Filippo Lippi 15 0 0
——— 817 0 0
Balance Jan. 20 527 17 9


III. I am gradually rising into greater indignation against the baseness and conceit of the modern scientific mob, than even against the mere money-seekers. The following fragment of a letter from a Companion bears notably on this matter:—

“The only earnest folks I know are cold-hearted ‘Freethinkers,’ and not very earnest either. My church-going friends are not earnest, except about their form of sound words. But I get on best with them. They are warmer, and would be what I wish, were circumstances not so dead set against it. My ‘Freethinking’ acquaintances say that with Carlyle the last of the great dreamers who have impeded the advance of science will pass away, and that, in fact, he is dead already, for nobody minds him. I don’t heed such words now as I used to do. Had I lived when Socrates was condemned, I would have felt hope extinguished; yet Jesus came long after him, and I will not fear that God will fail to send His great and good men, any more than that the sun will forget to rise.

“My Freethinking friends sneer even at the mention of any God; and their talk of methods of reformation that infer any wisdom above their own has long since sickened me. One Sunday evening last year, I accompanied one of them to what they call the ‘Eclectic Hall’ here, to hear a Mrs. Law speak. There were from two to three hundred present,—few women—almost all toil-worn looking men. Mrs. Law, the lecturess—a stout, coarse-looking lady, or woman who might have been a lady—based her address on another by Mr. Gladstone, M.P. One thing she said will give you an idea of the spirit of her lecture, which was full of sadness to me, because highly appreciated by her audience: ‘Jesus tells you,’ she shouted, ‘ “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven,” but I tell you, Blessed are the rich, for theirs is no myth-world, but this substantial one with its tangible, satisfying joys.’

“I got one of them to read the October Letter—and then [68]Volumes I. and IV. of Fors. Another young fellow, a Londoner, read them too, and then at leisure moments there was a talk over them for some days. But, with the exception of the first referred to, they talked pitifully enough. Your incidental remark about destroying the new town of Edinburgh, and other items of dubious sort, blinded them to any good, and it was a blessing when something else came athwart their vacant minds, and they ceased to remember you.”

IV. I am grateful for the following note on the name ‘Sheffield’:—

“Sir,—The town, in all probability, took its name from the river ‘Sheaf,’ which flows into the Don.

“Doncaster is a case in point out of hundreds of others. It may be that the river has been named in recent times, but it is unlikely; for as a rule a river always has some name by which it is known before any settlements are made on its banks.”

V. I must now request my reader’s attention somewhat gravely to the questions in debate between my correspondents at Wakefield; not that these are in themselves of any importance, but they are of extreme importance in their general issue. In the first place, observe the extreme difficulty of writing history. You shall have one impertinent coxcomb after another in these days, writing constitutional Histories of England and the like, and telling you all the relationships and all the motives of Kings and Queens a thousand years dead; and here is question respecting the immediate ancestor of a living lady, which does not appear at once or easily determinable; and which I do not therefore pursue;—here again is question respecting the connection of her husband with the cases of bribery reported in the subjoined evidence on the Wakefield election petition, also indeterminable;—here are [69]farther two or three questions respecting the treatment of his workmen, respecting which the evidence is entirely conflicting; and finally, here is the chapel on Wakefield bridge pulled down,4 a model of it built in its place, and the entire front of the historical building carried away to decorate a private boathouse; and I, quite as knowing in architecture as most people, am cheated into some very careful and quite useless work, and even into many false conclusions, by the sculpture of the sham front, decayed and broken enough in thirty years to look older than sculpture of 500 years B.C. would, or does, in pure air.

Observe, in the second place, how petulant and eager people are, the moment a single word touches themselves, while universal abuses may be set before them enough to bring all the stones in heaven but what serve for the thunder, down about their ears,—and they will go on talking about Shakspeare and the musical glasses undisturbed, to the end of their lives; but let a single word glance at their own windows, or knock at their own doors, and—instantly—‘If Mr. Ruskin is what I think him, he will retract,’ etc. etc. But, alas! Mr. Ruskin is not the least what Mrs. Green thinks him,—does not in the smallest degree care for a lady’s “Fie’s,” and, publishing the following letters and newspaper extracts for the general reader’s satisfaction and E. L.’s justification, very contentedly, for his part, ends the discussion, though of course Fors shall be open to any further communication, if not too long, which either Mrs. Green or her husband may desire to have inserted.

In the following letter I have left all the passages containing due apology, while I have removed some which contained matter of further debate, if not offence, thereby much weakening the whole.

“Dear Mr. Ruskin,—I have been away from home, and have only recently seen Mrs. Green’s letter in the Fors of last month. [70]

“I am sorry to have vexed her; I did not think that you would print the passages referring to her husband in the form in which they stood.5

“When you said that you would assume my permission to print passages from the letter, I supposed that they would be those relating to the general life of Wakefield. All that I have written is essentially true, but I do not wish to hold any controversy on the matter, for if I defended myself publicly I should have to wound still further the feelings of one who is no doubt a devoted wife.

“It is for your satisfaction alone that I write these lines. I have been inaccurate on two points, on which I wrote too hastily, from hearsay, gleaned on brief visits to Wakefield. Mr. Green has not a Scotch estate, only occasional shooting, and he is not concerned in the forges that stand near the bridge, as I was wrongly informed.

“I did not say, though I may have led your readers to infer it, that the so-called ‘American devil’ was his. I knew, or rather was told, that it belonged to Whithams, who have the largest foundry. He (Mr. Green) does not forge iron, it seems; he makes it into machines. He can hardly be classed as an engineer; he is a machine-maker. If he is not an ‘iron lord,’ on what is his wealth based?

“Robin the Pedlar is no myth. I often heard him mentioned, when a girl, as being Mrs. Green’s father. I dare say that Mrs. Edward Green never heard of him. She came into the family in its genteeler days; but there are old people in Wakefield who remember all about him. I send by this post a Wakefield paper containing some speeches highly illustrative of the town of which Mr. Green is the hero and model.” (These I do not think it necessary to publish.) “Party feeling still runs high at Wakefield, and when the next election occurs, Mrs. Green expects to find big yellow bills on the gate-pillars of Heath Common, [71]‘Professor Ruskin on Ned Green,’ and she is naturally angry.

“Of course he is not the sole offender. This case occurred to me because he is the most prominent type of the modern successful men who are to inaugurate a new era in the town’s history. It is the blind leader of the blind in the downward way that things are going. Everybody wants to get rich like him; everybody who has greed and competence pushes to the front. The town council promise them that they will make of Wakefield a second Bradford. Meanwhile they squabble about their duties, the streets are filthy, smallpox breeds there, and they set up a hospital in a tent. It catches fire, and nurse and patients are burnt together. I think that was eight or nine years since. Possibly arrangements are better now.

“You say truly that quickly acquired fortunes must be ill acquired, but you must live on my level to realize fully how the prospect and possibility of such gains are disorganizing middle-class life. English people do not lift their families along with them, as we reproach the ‘clannish’ Scotch with doing.

“Ignorant pride on the one hand, envy on the other, breed hate between those who should be a mutual stay. As classes are estranged, so are families.

“In conclusion, I must again say that I shall always feel regret at having pained Mrs. Green, but what I have said is true in all essentials.

“He is the hero of the men who are changing Wakefield so rapidly. I liked it better thirty years since, when, if it was poor, it was clean and honest.

“I am, dear Mr. Ruskin, yours truly,
“E. L.”

I print the following first portion (about the fourth part) of a column and a half of the evidence on the Wakefield election [72]petition, sent me by my correspondent; though I do not suppose it to indicate anything more than compliance on Mr. Green’s part with the ordinary customs of English electioneering.

“The trial of the petition against the return of Mr. Green, the Conservative member for Wakefield, was resumed this morning before Mr. Justice Grove. Mr. Hawkins, Q.C., and Mr. Chandos Leigh again appeared for the petitioners, and Mr. C. Russell, Q.C., and Mr. Forbes for the respondent. There was again a crowded attendance.

John Thompson, a tailor, and a voter in the Northgate Ward, said that about half-past six o’clock, on Sunday, the 1st February—the day before the polling—‘Councillor Joe’ (Mr. J. Howden) called at his house and solicited his vote for Mr. Green. Witness said he did not think that he could give it, but if he did he must ‘have something.’ Mr. Howden said, ‘If it’s worth anything I’ll let you know.’ About half-past one o’clock on the polling day witness again saw him. Mr. Howden said, ‘If you vote for Green, I’ll send you 10s. for your day’s wage.’ Witness said, ‘No;’ and they parted.

Cross-examined: Witness did not say to Mr. Howden that he had already been offered a couple of pounds. He was a strong Radical. Mr. Howden was at witness’s house several times, but he only saw him once. He (witness) voted about half-past two in the afternoon.

Elizabeth Thompson, wife of the last witness, said that on the Saturday and Sunday before the polling day Mr. J. Howden called to solicit her husband’s vote, and he said, ‘If he votes for Green, I’ll see that he is paid.’ On the Monday, when Mr. Howden called, he said, ‘If your husband votes for Green I’ll give him 5s. out of my own pocket, and see that he is ‘tipped’ in the committee room.’ Later in the day, her husband was at home when Howden called, and they left the house together. [73]

Henry Blades, a blacksmith’s striker, and a voter in the Westgate ward, said that on the day of the election Mr. Ough gave him £2 in the Finisher Off public-house, on condition that he voted for Mr. Green. Witness voted in the course of the day.

Cross-examined: Witness, since he received his subpœna, had met Mr. Gill, the respondent’s solicitor, and others, at the Bull Hotel, and put his name to a paper, of the nature of which he was ignorant.

Mr. Russell: Was it not a statement, made by yourself, and taken down in writing, to the effect that you had never received any bribe or offer of a bribe?

Witness: I don’t know. They asked me to sign the paper, and I signed it. I was not sober.

Re-examined by Mr. Hawkins: Witness was sent for to the Bull. He received there, after making his statement, two glasses of beer, and 5s. in money—the latter from Mr. Ough.

Henry Lodge said that on the afternoon of the election he was in Farrar’s beerhouse, in Westgate. Blade was there ‘fresh,’ and taking three half-sovereigns from his pocket, he threw them on the table, and said, ‘That’s the sort to have.’

James Meeghan, an Irish labourer, said that he was a voter for the borough, and on the polling day was canvassed by Mr. Kay for the Conservatives. He met Mr. Kay in the polling booth, and received from him 10s. Before voting, witness said to Mr. Kay that he was a poor man and could not afford to lose his day’s wage. Mr. Kay said, ‘I can’t give you a bribe—that’s against the law; but as you have had to pay your mates for doing your work, you shall have something.’ In the polling station Mr. Kay held a half-sovereign in his hand, behind him, and witness took it.

Cross-examined: Mr. Kay offered witness the 10s. out of his own pocket.

Mr. Russell (to the Judge): What this man says is quite true. [74]Mr. Kay does not deny that he gave him half a sovereign for his loss of time.

Patrick M’Hugh, an Irish labourer, and a voter in the Northgate Ward, said that on the polling day he visited the Conservative Committee-room at the Zetland School, and saw Mr. Tom Howden. Mr. Howden said, ‘Are you going to vote?’ Witness replied, ‘I suppose so;’ and Mr. Howden said, ‘Come this way and I’ll show you how. Witness was taken into a back room, and there Mr. Howden said, ‘Well, how much?’ Witness said, ‘Three,’ and Mr. Howden took them out of his pocket (three sovereigns), and said, ‘See there.’ Witness took the money and voted. He had, since receiving his subpœna, been away from Wakefield.

Cross-examined: Witness had visited Harrogate—staying a week there to take the waters—(laughter),—and afterwards Thirsk. He paid his own expenses and travelled alone, having been recommended by a doctor to go away for the benefit of his health.

Mr. Russell: Who was the doctor?

Witness: Mr. Unthank—(great laughter);—Mr. Unthank being a chemist, and a prominent Liberal. He said that if I could go, and was strong enough, a bit of an out would do me good. (Laughter.) The £3 that I received at the election supported me while I was away.

James Wright, a police officer of the borough of Wakefield, said that on the polling day he was acting as door-keeper at the Zetland Street polling station, and observed Mr. Priestly hand some money to one who presented himself as a voter. Witness followed the voter into the booth, and pointed him out to his superior officer. The man voted, and then left. Mr. Priestly was busily employed during the polling hours in conducting voters from the Conservative committee-room to the polling station. [75]

Cross-examined: At half-past three Priestly was ‘fresh’ in drink, and it was found necessary to keep him out of the polling station. He was in Mr. Green’s employment. Witness could not say what amount of money passed; but some one in the crowd, who also saw the transaction, said to Priestly, ‘You are doing it too brown.’ (Laughter.)”

The letters next following are from an entirely honest engineer workman, a Companion of St. George.

“Dear Master,—I read Mrs. Green’s letter in the November Fors two or three days ago, and yesterday I adopted the hint in it to inquire amongst the workmen. I asked one working beside me, who I knew came from Yorkshire, if he ever worked in Wakefield, and, curiously enough, he belongs there, and was apprenticed in a workshop close to Mr. Green’s. He says he knows the place well, and that certainly when he was there, ‘At six o’clock, or some approximate hour,’ the firm of Green and Son, ‘issued its counter-order’ with a horrible noise; and not only at six o’clock, but also after meals.

“He also tells me that the wages of a working engineer in the workshop of Green and Son average 22s. a week, and I know that here, in London, they average 38s. a week, and Wakefield is close to coal and iron, while London is not. It may be, as I once heard it, urged that the workmen in London are superior as workmen to those in the provinces; but my experience, which has been considerable in London and the provinces as a working engineer, enables me to assert that this is not the case. Also it may be urged that low wages prevail in the provinces, but in Glasgow I got 30s. a week two years ago, and this week meant fifty-one hours, while in Wakefield a week’s work means fifty-four hours.

“Since Mr. Green derives no pecuniary benefit from Wakefield, it is evident from the above that the London and Glasgow engineers are very ingenious persons indeed, if they contrive to get [76]pecuniary benefit from the cities in which they issue their ‘counter-order.’

“Moreover, my fellow-workman tells me that there is a system of piece-work carried on in the workshop of Green and Son, which is extended to the apprentices, so that the boys are set to think, not how to learn to work properly, but how to learn to get hold of the greatest number of shillings they can in a week. In the man the desire for more money is tempered with forethought: he knows that if he earns more than a certain amount the price of his job will be cut down; but the boy does not consider this, and his price, to use the language of the workshop, is cut down accordingly.

“Mrs. Green in her letter says Mr. Green never had a forge. This means that he never had a place which exclusively turned out forgings. But connected with Mrs. Green’s establishment, my fellow-workman tells me, are forges, as indeed there are in every engineering work I have seen. Besides, there is constantly carried on a process of moulding ‘pig iron’ at Mr. Green’s place, which requires the most intense heat, and to which the workmen are exposed, as they are at the forge Mrs. Green speaks of. (In your lectures to the students at Oxford in 1870, you say that work requiring the use of fire must be reduced to its minimum, and speak of its effects in Greek. I know some of its evil effects on the blacksmiths, but I wonder if it is desirable for me to know the meaning of the Greek language you use on that occasion.) (Yes; but you need not be in any hurry about it.)

“It would seem, then, that Mr. Green stays at Heath Hall, and cultivates an ideal refinement in art, while he is instrumental in causing two or three hundred men and boys in Wakefield, from whom he derives no pecuniary benefit, to cultivate there the fine art of music in the shriek and roar of machines all day, to cultivate a trader’s eagerness for bargaining, instead of a wish to do good [77]work, and to cultivate an acquaintance with the sort of work which, over ten years constant experience in it tells me, is the most effective in this country for qualifying themselves and others for admission to the Ophthalmic, Orthopedic, and other institutions mentioned by your correspondent, E. L.

“Last week I had intelligence of the death of a young engineer friend of mine. A boiler burst while he was standing by, and shot him a distance of 60 yards, killing him instantly.

“Dear Master, if I have made a mistake in troubling you with these notes on Mrs. Green’s letter, I am sorry, but I could not resist the impulse to write to you after what I learned from my fellow-workman. I believe the facts are reliable, and at any rate I can give the workman’s name who furnished them, if it is wanted.”

“Dear Master,—Since I wrote to you last I chanced on another workman, who has worked in Green’s shop. He tells me it is known among the workmen as ‘The Port in a Storm.’

“My first informant also, unasked, wrote to Wakefield for further information. He showed me the letter in reply, which says that Green’s whistle (it is also called a ‘buzzard’) was not stopped till force was applied.

“ ‘The Port in a Storm’ means that only when assailed by the fierce storm of hunger do the workmen think of applying for work at Green’s place; that is, when they can’t get work anywhere else in the neighbourhood.”

These letters appear to me entirely to justify the impression under which E. L. wrote; but of course I shall be most happy if Mr. Green will furnish me with more accurate indication of the persons who have made Wakefield the horrible spectacle that it is. For although many of my discreet friends cry out upon [78]me for allowing ‘personalities,’ it is my firm conviction that only by justly personal direction of blame can any abuse be vigorously dealt with. And, as I will answer for the sincerity and impartiality of attack, so I trust to make it always finally accurate in aim and in limitation. [79]

1 Exodus xviii. 21. 

2 The law of its course will be given in the ‘Laws of Fésole,’ Plate V. 

3 An under-estimate, at present prices for Turner drawings, and I have hitherto insured for full thirty thousand, but am now going to lower the insurance, for no money would replace the loss of them, and I less and less regard them as exchangeable property. 

4 I have not space in this Fors to give the letter certifying me of this. 

5 See my reason stated, Letter LIX., p. 322. 



I find it wholly impossible to crush into one Fors what I have been gathering of Bible lesson, natural history lesson, and writing lesson, and to leave room enough for what I have to give of immediate explanation to the Companions, now daily increasing in number. My readers must bear with me—I cannot do more than I am doing, though every day I wonder more at there being so many things apparently my duty to do, while I have only two feeble hands for all of them.

But this much of general statement of the meaning of our Companionship is now absolutely necessary.

Of course, the first natural idea taken up by persons who merely hear talk, or read newspapers, about the Company, is that their domain is intended for a refuge for the persons who join it—that within its walls the poor are at once to be made rich, and the sorrowful happy.

Alas, this is not by any means the notion of the St. George’s Company. It is to be a band of delivering [80]knights—not of churls needing deliverance; of eager givers and servants—not of eager beggars,1 and persons needing service. It is only the Rich, and the Strong, whom I receive for Companions,—those who come not to be ministered unto, but to minister. Rich, yet some of them in other kind of riches than the world’s; strong, yet some in other than the world’s strength. But this much at least of literal wealth and strength they must have,—the power, and formed habit, of self-support. I accept no Companion by whom I am not convinced that the Society will be aided rather than burdened; and although I value intelligence, resolution, and personal strength, more than any other riches, I hope to find, in a little while, that there are people in the world who can hold money without being blinded, by their possession of it, to justice or duty.

The Companions whom I accept will be divided, according to their means and circumstances, into three classes.

The first and highest class will be called “Comites Ministrantes,” “Companions Servant.” It will be composed of the few who devote their main energy to the work of the Company; and who, as I do myself, and as the Master must always, pursue their private avocations only in subjection to its interests, being at the same time in positions absolutely independent, and openly shown to be so. [81]

The second, or middle class, will be called “Comites Militantes,” “Companions Militant.”

These will be persons occupied actually in manual labour on the ground, or in any work which the Master may order, for the fulfilment of the Society’s functions; being dependent on such labour for their maintenance, under the conditions fixed by the Company’s statutes.

The third and lowest order will be called “Comites Consilii,” (Friends of, or in, Council,) “Companions Consular,” who will form the general body of the Society, being occupied in their own affairs as earnestly as before they joined it; but giving it the tenth of their income; and in all points, involving its principles, obeying the orders of the Master. Thus almost any tradesman may continue his trade, being a Companion; but, if a jeweller, he must not sell false jewels; or if a butcher, (I have one accepted already, and I very much want to get a butcher’s daughter, if I could; but she won’t come,) must not sell bad meat.

I at first meant them to be called Censors, or Companions Estimant, because when the Society comes into real work, the sentences of fine, or other disgrace, pronounced by the marshals’ officers, and the general modes of determining quality and value of goods, must be always ratified by majority of this order, of the Companions, in whom also, by virtue of their number, the election, and therefore censorship, of the Master, will necessarily be vested. [82]

To these last, especially, I have now some special matters to write.

Will you please look back to the Fors of December 24th, last year, p. 278, and tell me,—or rather, which is chiefly needful, answer to yourselves, how far you have reflected, since reading it, on the nature of “unfruitful works of darkness;” how many you have abandoned, and how many reproved. It is too probable that you have not, even yet, the slightest idea what works of darkness are. You know,—they can’t mean merely murder, or adultery, or theft. You don’t, when you go to church, mean to pray that you may have grace to give up committing murder or adultery, or that you may ‘rather reprove them’? But what then is it that you pray to give up? If you don’t know, are you not, yet, in the least, ashamed of yourselves, for going every Sunday, if not every day, to pray to God, without having the dimmest idea what you mean to ask Him for?

Well,—not to be farther teazing about it,—in the first and simple sense, works of darkness are useless, or ill-done, or half-done, things, which pretend to be good, or to be wholly done; and so mislead or betray.

In the deeper and final sense, a work of darkness is one that seeks concealment, and conceals facts; or even casts disdain and disgrace on facts.

A work of light is one that seeks light, and that, not for its own sake, but to light all men; so that all workers [83]of good work delight in witnesses; only with true desire that the witnesses’ pleasure may be greater than theirs; and that the Eternal witnesses—the Cloud around us, and Powers above—may have chief pleasure of all:—(see on this matter, ‘Eagle’s Nest,’ page 54). So that, of these works, what was written of St. Bernard must be always true, “Opera sancti Patris velut Sol in conspectu Dei;” for indeed they are a true Light of the world, infinitely better in the Creator’s sight than its dead sunshine; and the discovery by modern science that all mortal strength is from the Sun, while it has thrown foolish persons into atheism, is, to wise ones, the most precious testimony to their faith yet given by physical nature; for it gives us the arithmetical and measurable assurance that men vitally active are living sunshine, having the roots of their souls set in sunlight, as the roots of a tree are in the earth; not that the dust is therefore the God of the tree, but the Tree is the animation of the dust, and the living Soul, of the sunshine. And now you will understand the meaning of the words on our St. George’s wealth,—“Sit splendor.”

And you must take care that your works do shine before men, if it may be, as a lamp; but at least, as a shield;—nay, if your Captain in Heaven wills it, as a sword.

For the failure of all good people nowadays is that, associating politely with wicked persons, countenancing them in their wickedness, and often joining in [84]it, they think to avert its consequences by collaterally labouring to repair the ruin it has caused; and while, in the morning, they satisfy their hearts by ministering to the wants of two or three destitute persons, in the evening they dine with, envy, and prepare themselves to follow the example of, the rich speculator who has caused the destitution of two or three thousand. They are thus destroying more in hours than they can amend in years; or, at the best, vainly feeding the famine-struck populations, in the rear of a devouring army, always on the increase in mass of numbers, and rapidity of march.

Now I call on the St. George’s Company, first, to separate themselves clearly, as a body, from persons who practise recognized, visible, unquestionable iniquity. They are to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of Darkness; but to walk as Children of Light.

Literally, observe. Those phrases of the Bible are entirely evaded, because we never apply them to immediate practice.

St. George’s Companions are to have no fellowship with works of darkness; no companionship whatsoever with recognizable mischief, or mischievous men. Of every person of your acquaintance, you are solemnly to ask yourselves, ‘Is this man a swindler, a liar, a gambler, an adulterer, a selfish oppressor, and task-master?’ [85]

Don’t suppose you can’t tell. You can tell with perfect ease; or, if you meet any mysterious personage of whom it proves difficult to ascertain whether he be rogue or not, keep clear of him till you know. With those whom you know to be honest, know to be innocent, know to be striving, with main purpose, to serve mankind and honour their God, you are humbly and lovingly to associate yourselves: and with none others.

“You don’t like to set yourself up for being better than other people? You dare not judge harshly of your fellow-creatures?”

I do not tell you to judge them. I only tell you not to dine with them, and not to deal with them. That they lose the pleasure of your company, or the profit on your custom, is no crushing punishment. To their own Master they stand or fall; but to your Master, Christ,2 you must stand, with your best might; and in this manner only, self-asserting as you may think it, can you confess Him before men. Why do you suppose that thundrous word of His impends over your denial of Him, “Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before Angels,” but because you are sure to be constantly tempted to such denial?

How, therefore, observe, in modern days, are you so tempted. Is not the temptation rather, as it seems, [86]to confess Him? Is it difficult and shameful to go to church?—would it not require more courage to stay away? Is it difficult or shameful to shut your shop on Sunday, in the East,—or, to abstain from your ride in the Park on Sunday, in the West? Is it dangerous to hold family worship in your house, or dishonourable to be seen with a cross on your Prayer Book? None of these modes or aspects of confession will bring any outcry against you from the world. You will have its good word, on the contrary, for each and all of them. But declare that you mean to speak truth,—and speak it, for an hour; that you mean to abstain from luxury,—and abstain from it, for a day; that you, obeying God’s law, will resolutely refuse fellowship with the disobedient;—and be ‘not at home’ to them, for a week: and hear then what the High Priests’ servants will say to you, round the fire.

And observe, it is in charity for them, much more than by duty to others, that you are required to do this. For half, at least, of these Caiaphas’ servants sin through pure ignorance, confirmed by custom. The essential difference in business, for instance, between a man of honour and a rogue, is that the first tries to give as much to his customer for his money as he can, and the second to give as little; but how many are at present engaged in business who are trying to sell their goods at as high a price as possible, supposing that effort to be the very soul and vital principle of [87]business! Now by simply asserting to these ignorant persons that they are rogues, whether they know it or not; and that, in the present era of general enlightenment, gentlemen and ladies must not only learn to spell and to dance, but also to know the difference between cheating their neighbours and serving them; and that, as on the whole it is inexpedient to receive people who don’t know how to express themselves grammatically, in the higher circles of society, much more is it inexpedient to receive those who don’t know how to behave themselves honestly. And by the mere assertion, practically, of this assured fact to your acquaintance’ faces, by the direct intervention of a deal door between theirs and yours, you will startle them out of their Rogues’ Paradise in a most healthful manner, and be the most orthodox and eloquent evangelical preacher to them that they have ever heard since they were born.

But all this must, of course, be done with extreme tenderness and modesty, though with absolute decision; and under much submission to their elders by young people—especially those living in their father’s houses. I shall not, of course, receive any Companions under age; but already there are some names on my list of young unmarried women: and, while I have shown in all former writings that I hold the power of such to be the greatest, because the purest, of all social ones, I must as definitely now warn them against any manifestation [88]of feeling or principle tending to break the unity of their home circles. They are bound to receive their father’s friends as their own, and to comply in all sweet and subjected ways with the wishes and habits of their parents; remaining calmly certain that the Law of God, for them, is that while they remain at home they shall be spirits of Peace and Humility beneath its roof. In all rightly ordered households, the confidence between the parent and child is such that in the event of a parent’s wish becoming contrary to a child’s feeling of its general duty, there would be no fear or discomfort on the child’s part in expressing its thoughts. The moment these are necessarily repressed, there is wrong somewhere; and in houses ordered according to the ways of modern fashionable life, there must be wrong, often, and everywhere. But the main curse of modern society is that, beginning by training its youth to be ‘independent’ and disobedient, this carefully cultivated independence shows itself, of course, by rejecting whatever is noble and honourable in their father’s houses, and never by healing or atoning what is faultful.

Of all St. George’s young Companions, therefore, he requires first the graces of gentleness and humility; nor, on the whole, much independent action of any kind; but only the quiet resolve to find out what is absolutely right, and so far as it may be kindly and inoffensively practised to fulfil it, at home; and so [89]far as it may be modestly and decorously uttered, to express the same abroad. And a well-bred young lady has always personal power enough of favour and discouragement, among persons of her own age, to satisfy the extremest demands of conscience in this direction.

And now let me see what room I have left for talk of present matters. Here is a piece printed a fortnight since, which I can’t be plagued to keep in type till next month.

I am fifty-seven to-day: and may perhaps be allowed to talk a little of myself.

Among several pretty love-letters from my pets, which only make me sorrier that I’m fifty-seven—but I really don’t think some of the letters could be nicer if I were only twenty-seven—there’s one with a ghost story in it, more precious to me than all the others, seeing I draw more quickly3 near, now, daily, to the Loyal land.

I may as well write it as I read, thus;

“I heard such a pretty story last night of something that happened at a school in Germany, not long since. It was the custom of one of the masters to go round every night to the dormitories to see that the boys were asleep, all right. One night he was astonished to see a lady go up to one of the boys, stoop over [90]him and kiss him, and then vanish. Next morning, news came that the mother of that particular boy had died at the time. Isn’t it lovely? Even A. believes that.”

Yes; and A. does wisely; and so may B., and C.: but yet I should much like to know what particular boy, in what particular school in Germany.

Nevertheless, the story has more value for me because it is written to me by a person who herself saw the shade—or rather light—of her sister, at the time of that sister’s death on the other side of the world; being a member of that branch of my family in which some gift of the Scottish second sight remains, inherited by my maternal grandmother, who ran away with my paternal grandfather when she was not quite sixteen; and my aunt Jessie, (my father’s only sister,) was born a year afterwards; a few weeks after which event, my grandmother, not yet seventeen, was surprised, (by a friend who came into her room unannounced,) dancing a threesome reel, with two chairs for her partners, she having found at the moment no other way of adequately expressing the pleasure she took in this mortal life, and its gifts, and promises.

The latter failed somewhat afterwards; and my aunt Jessie, a very precious and perfect creature, beautiful in her dark-eyed, Highland way; utterly religious, in her quiet Puritan way, and very submissive to Fates mostly unkind, married, or was married to—I never could [91]make out exactly which, or why,—a somewhat rough tanner, with a fairly good business, in the good town of Perth; and, when I was old enough to be taken first to visit them, as aforesaid, my aunt and my uncle the tanner lived in a good square-built gray stone house at the ‘Bridge-End’ of Perth, some fifty yards north of the bridge; their garden sloping steeply to the Tay, which eddied, three or four feet deep of sombre crystal, round the steps where the servants dipped their pails.

My aggrieved correspondent of Wakefield thought to cure me with her delicate ‘Fie,’ of what she supposed my coarse habit of sneering at people of no ancestry. I have it not; yet might have fallen into it in my youth, for I remember now, with more grief and shame than I can speak, being once ashamed of my own father and mother in Mr. Ryman’s shop here in Oxford; nor am I entirely at ease, at this moment, in writing of my uncles the baker and the tanner; yet my readers may trust me when I tell them, that in now remembering my dreams in the house of the entirely honest chief baker of Market Street, Croydon; and of Peter—not Simon—the tanner, whose house was by the riverside of Perth, I would not change the dreams, far less the tender realities, of those early days, for anything I hear now remembered by lords or dames, of their days of childhood in castle halls, and by sweet lawns and lakes in park-walled forest. [92]

I do not mean this for a republican sentiment; quite the opposite. I hate republicans, as I do all other manner of fools. I love Lords and Ladies, (especially unmarried ones, with beautiful three-syllabled Christian-names. I know a simple two-syllabled one, also, very charming); and Earls, and Countesses, and Marquises and Marchionesses, and Honourables, and Sirs; and I bow down before them and worship them, in the way that Mr. Thackeray thought ‘snobs’ did; he never perceiving with all the wit of him, (being mostly spent in mean smell-fungus work which spoiled its scent,) that it is himself the snob truly worships, all the time, and not the Lord he looks at. But my way of worship was Walter Scott’s, which my father taught me (always excepting such recreance as that in Mr. Ryman’s shop). And therefore, when I say I would not change my dreams of Market Street, and Bridge End, and Rose Terrace, (where we used to live after my uncle died, briefly apoplectic, at Bridge End,) for anything that the Palatial and Maxime-Pontifical abodes of Nobles and Bishops give them—I mean simply that I had a home, being a child, and loved it, and did not then, and do not now, covet my neighbour’s house;4 but cling to every likeness findable in these ruinous days to the places of peace given me in that lowly time.

Peace, and the knowledge of God it gave me. For, by the way, observe in that sacredest of benedictions, [93]which my Dean gave me in my own cathedral last Sunday, (I being an honorary student of Christ Church;—and there are only eight, if you please to look in the Oxford Calendar,) “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God;”—observe, I say, for we do not always think of this, it is not the knowledge that is to give peace; but the peace which is to give knowledge; so that as long as we fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness, and bite and devour one another, and are consumed one of another—every traveller paying an eight per cent. tax in his fare, for dividend to a consuming railroad company—we can’t know anything about God at all. And compare again ‘Eagle’s Nest,’ p. 194.

There, then, at Rose Terrace, I lived in peace in the fair Scotch summer days, with my widowed aunt, and my little cousin Jessie, then traversing a bright space between her sixth and ninth year; dark-eyed deeply, like her mother, and similarly pious; and she and I used to compete in the Sunday evening Scriptural examinations; and be as proud as two little peacocks because Jessie’s elder brothers, and sister Mary, used to get ‘put down,’ and either Jessie or I was always ‘Dux.’ We agreed upon this that we would be married, when we were a little older; not considering it preparatorily necessary to be in any degree wiser. [94]

I couldn’t go on about my cousin Jessie, for I was interrupted by the second post with more birthday compliments, from young ladies now about Jessie’s age—letters which of course required immediate answer,—some also with flowers, which required to be immediately put into water, and greatly worried me by upsetting themselves among my books all day afterwards; but I let myself be worried, for love;—and, from a well-meaning and kindly feeling friend, some very respectful and respectable poetry, beautifully written, (and I read part of it, for love, but I had much rather he had sent me sixpence, for I hate poetry, mostly, and love pence, always); and to-day, half-past seven before chapel, my mind is otherwise set altogether, for I am reading Leviticus carefully now, for my life of Moses; and, in working out the law of the feast of harvest, chanced on the notable verse, xxiii. 24: “In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation;” and then flashed on me, all in a minute, the real meaning of Holbein’s introduction to the Dance of Death, (the third woodcut in the first edition), which till this moment I only took for his own symbol of the Triumph of Death, adopted from Orcagna and others, but which I see now, in an instant, to be the un-Holy Convocation; the gathering together to their temple of the Tribes of Death, and the blowing of trumpets on [95]their solemn feast day, and sabbath of rest to the weary in evil doing.

And, busy friends, in the midst of all your charming preparations for the Spring season, you will do well to take some method of seeing that design, and meditating, with its help, upon the grave question, what kind of weariness you will have to rest from. My own thoughts of it are disturbed, as I look, by that drummer-death, in front,5 with his rattling and ringing kettledrums (he the chief Musician in the Psalm for the sons of Korah—Dathan and Abiram, because his sounding is on Skin, with sticks of Bone,) not only because of my general interest in drummers, but because, after being much impressed, when I was a child, by the verses I had to learn about the last trump, out of the 15th of 1st Corinthians,—when I became a man, and put away childish things, I used often to wonder what we should all say of any sacred Saga among poor Indians whose untutored mind sees God in clouds, if it told them that they were all to rise from the dead at the sound of the last drum. [96]

And here I’m interrupted again by a delightful letter about the resurrection of snails, Atropos really managing matters, at present, like the daintiest and watchfullest housewife for me,—everything in its place, and under my hand.

“Dear Mr. Ruskin,—As I have just read the last part of February ‘Fors,’ I want to say what I know about the little shells—(Helix virgata—I suppose). I think—indeed, am pretty sure, nearly, if not quite—all those shells had little live snails in them. I have found them in quantities on the South Downs near Lewes, on Roundway Hill near Devizes, near Lyme Regis, in North Wales; and before any of those places, on our own Hampton Common in Gloucestershire, where my sisters and myself used to gather those and other pretty ones when we were children. If you have any stored by, in a few months I think you will find them (if not shut up) walk away.

“When I was a girl I once had to choose a birthday present from one of my aunts, and asked for ‘Turton’s British Shells,’ for I always wanted to know the name and history of everything I found; then I collected all the land and freshwater shells I could find, as I could not get sea shells—one of my longings—for I never saw the sea till after I was twenty, except for a few hours at Munsley in Norfolk, when I was eight years old. I have my little shells still; and have four or five varieties of Helix virgata: I think the number of rings increases as the shell goes on growing.

‘In the autumn these shells are often suddenly observed in such great numbers as to give rise to the popular notion of their having fallen from the clouds. This shell is very hardy, and appears nearly insensible to cold, as it does not hybernate even when the ground is covered with snow.’ [97]

“I always fancied the Lord let them lie about in such numbers to be food for some little birds, or may be rooks and starlings, robins, etc., in cold weather when there was so little to eat.

“I dare say you know how the blackbirds and thrushes eat the larger snails. I have often seen in the woods a very pretty coloured shell lying on a white stone,—the birds had put it there to crack a hole in it and to take out the snail. The shell looked such a pretty clear colour because it was alive, and yet empty.”

Yes; the Holy Ghost of Life, not yet finally departed, can still give fair colours even to an empty shell. Evangelical friends,—worms, as you have long called yourselves, here is a deeper expression of humility suggested possible: may not some of you be only painted shells of worms,—alive, yet empty?

Assuming my shell to be Helix virgata, I take down my magnificent French—(let me see if I can write its title without a mistake)—“Manuel de Conchyliologie et de Paléontologie Conchyliologique,” or, in English, “Manual of Shell-talking and Old-body-talking in a Shell-talking manner.” Eight hundred largest octavo—more like folio—pages of close print, with four thousand and odd (nearly five thousand) exquisite engravings of shells; and among them I look for the creatures elegantly, but inaccurately, called by modern naturalists Gasteropods; in English, Belly-feet, (meaning, of course, to say Belly-walkers, for they haven’t got any feet); and among these I find, with much pains, one that is rather like mine, of which I am told that it belongs to the sixteenth sort in the second tribe of [98]the second family of the first sub-order of the second order of the Belly-walkers, and that it is called ‘Adeorbis subcarinatus,’—Adeorbis by Mr. Wood, and subcarinatus by Mr. Montagu; but I am not told where it is found, nor what sort of creature lives in it, nor any single thing whatever about it, except that it is “sufficiently depressed” (“assez déprimée”), and “deeply enough navelled” (assez profondement ombiliquée,—but how on earth can I tell when a shell is navelled to a depth, in the author’s opinion, satisfactory?) and that the turns (taken by the family), are ‘little numerous’ (peu nombreux). On the whole, I am not disposed to think my shell is here described, and put my splendid book in its place again.

I next try my English Cuvier, in sixteen octavo volumes; in which I find no notice whatever taken of these minor snails, except a list of thirty-three species, finishing with an etc.; out of which I mark ‘Cretacea,’ ‘Terrestris,’ and ‘Nivea,’ as perhaps likely to fit mine; and then I come, by order of Atropos, on this amazing account of the domestic arrangements of a little French snail, “Helix decollata” (Guillotined snail?) with references to “Cm. Chemn. cxxxvi. 1254–1257,” a species which “has the singular habit of successively fracturing the whorls at the top, (origin, that is,—snails building their houses from heaven towards earth,) of the spire, so that at a particular epoch, of all the whorls of the spire originally possessed by this bulimus, not a single [99]one remains.” Bulimus,—what’s a bulimus? Helix is certainly a screw, and bulimus—in my Riddle’s dictionary—is said to be “empty-bellied.” Then this French snail, revolutionary in the manner of a screw, appears to be a belly-walker with an empty belly, and no neck,—who literally “breaks up” his establishment every year! Query—breaks? or melts? Contraction or confusion?

I must put my fine English book back in its place, too;—but here, at last, comes a ‘work of light’ to help us, from my favourite pupil, who was out with me that day on the Downs, and nearly killed himself with keeping a fox in sight on foot, up and down them;—happily surviving, he has pursued the slower creature for me to its cave of silver earth; and writes thus.

Common garden snail shells of various ages.

“I have sent you two little boxes—one containing common garden snail shells of various ages, and the other black striped Down shells; and you will see that in Box 1 the full-grown ones, with the strong finished lip, have four whorls each, and all the full-grown garden shells I have noticed had the same number, though they varied a little in size. The next largest in the box have only three and a half turns, but if they had lived longer they would have added on another half turn, bigger than all the [100]rest of the shell put together. In fact, if one looks at this shell, one sees that any half whorl is half as large again as all the rest of the shell before it. Then, besides these, there are four or five younger shells, the smallest of which has only two and a half whorls, which exactly correspond to two and a half whorls taken from any of the larger shells; so I think we may conclude that a shell grows by adding on length only to the large end of a tapering tube, like a dunce’s cap, which, however, is curled up like a ram’s horn, to look prettier, take up less room, and allow the occupant to beat a retreat round the corner when a robin comes. By-the-bye, I wonder some birds don’t grow bills like corkscrews, to get at the snails with.

“Then in box No. 2 there are several black striped Down shells, and the full-grown ones have six whorls, and the smallest ones, which died young, some four and some five, according to age; but the dunce’s cap is longer, and so there are more whorls.

“I couldn’t get these facts clearly stated in two handbooks which I read. I suppose they took it for granted that one knew; but I found, what after all would lead one to infer the rest, that the young snail at birth corresponds to the colourless APEX of the shell, and that the colour only comes in that part which grows under the influence of light and air.”

“Another fact is, that all the shells I ever remember looking at grow in the direction of the sun.

“Another fact. Since the shells have been in this room, my chimneypiece has been full of sleepy, small, long-bodied spiders, which had gone to sleep for the winter in these black and white caverns, out of the reach of flocks of half-starved larks and starlings.”

I drew the three advancing stages of the common snail’s houses, thus sent me, forthwith; and Mr. Burgess [101]swiftly and rightly engraves them. Note that the apparent irregularities in the spirals are conditions of perspective, necessarily affecting the deeply projecting forms; note also that each whorl is partly hidden by the subsequent one, built with its edge lapping over it; and finally, that there is really, I believe, a modification, to some extent, and enlargement, of the inner whorls; until the domestic creature is satisfied with its length of cave, and expresses its rest in accomplished labour and full age, by putting that binding lip round its border, and term to its hope.

Wherein, building for the earth, we may wisely imitate it. Of other building, not with slime for mortar, yet heavenward, we may perhaps conceive in due time.

I beg all my readers, but especially my Companions, to read with their best care the paper by Mr. Girdlestone, which, by the author’s kindly gift, I am enabled to send them with this Fors. It is the most complete and logical statement of Economic truth, in the points it touches, that I have ever seen in the English language: and to master it will be the best possible preparation for the study of personal duties to which I shall invite my Companions in my next letter. [103]

1 See note at end of this letter. 

2 I have got no Turks yet in the Company: when any join it, I will give them Koran enough for what I ask of them. 

3 Every day taking more away than the one before it. 

4 Compare Letter XXI., p. 13. 

5 I have desired Mr. Ward to prepare small photographs of this design, in case any reader cares to have it,—but mind, it is not altogether done according to Mr. Stopford Brooke’s notion of the object of true art, “to please”—(see page 88 of the Manual of English Literature, just published by that omniscient divine—under the auspices of the all-and-sundry-scient Mr. T. R. Green, M.A.,—so, if you only want to be pleased, you had better not order it. But at any rate, order, if you wish to understand the next coming Fors, the Etruscan Leucothea, for comparison with your Lippi Madonna. Mr. Ward will have it ready with my signature about the time next Fors comes out;—or you can get it, unmounted, for a shilling, from Mr. Parker’s agent in Rome. 


I. Affairs of the Company.

I give below our banker’s account to the end of last year, drawn up by my friend Mr. W. Walker, whom I asked to take salary as the Company’s accountant, but who, as will be seen by the part of his letter I take leave here to print, gives us his work in true sympathy.

Dear Sir,—I am of the same opinion as your printseller, and agree with him that “it is delightful to do business with you,”—so you must please let me volunteer to be of any practical service so far as keeping accounts, etc., can be useful to you or the St. George’s Company.

I readily accept the duties as honorary but not titled accountant, and as the labour is light, entailing very little trouble, my reward shall be the self-satisfaction in thinking I have done very little in the cause wherein you have done and are doing so very much.

Nevertheless, your kindly worded offer was gratefully received, and I was really pleased.

The enclosed accounts are a mere copy of the ledger items. I would have put all the names of the donors, (I found a few,) but you have a record, if I may judge from the notices in the December number of ‘Fors.’

With sincere respect, yours faithfully,

John Ruskin, Esq., LL.D. Wm. Walker.



Dr. Cr.
1872. £ s. d. 1872. £ s. d.
Nov. 27. To Cash 100 0 0 Dec. 4. By Cheque Book 0 4 2
Dec. 11. To,, Draft at Peckham 25 0 0 Dec. 27. Power of Attorney to receive Dividend on Consols 0 5 0
Dec. 31. By Balance 124 10 10
£125 0 0 £125 0 0
1873. £ s. d. 1873. £ s. d.
Jan. 1. To Balance 124 10 10 March 13. By Postage 0 0 3
Jan. 2. To,, John Ruskin, Esq. 30 0 0
Feb. 10. To,, Ditto 20 0 0
To,, Dividend on Consols, Jan., 1872 29 5 0
To,, Ditto July, 1872 103 5 0
To,, Ditto Jan., 1873 103 5 0
April 15. To,, Draft at Blackheath 7 0 0
June 10. To,, Draft at Bury St. Edmund’s 13 10 0
July 8. To,, R. J. Tyrwhitt 20 0 0
July 9. To,, Dividend on £7000 Consols 103 13 9
July 29. To,, John Ruskin, Esq. 20 0 0
July 30. To,, No. 18 5 0 0 By Balance 579 9 4
£579 9 7 £579 9 7
1874. £ s. d. 1874. £ s. d.
Jan. 1. To Balance 579 9 4 Dec. 10. By Postage 0 0 3
To,, Interest on Current Account Balance 2 13 4 By,, Purchase of £1000 Consols 918 15 0
To,, Draft at Durham by A. Hunt 25 0 0
Jan. 7. To,, Dividend on £7000 Consols 103 13 9
Jan. 17. To,, John Ruskin, Esq. 31 10 0
Feb. 13. To,, Cash 10 0 0
July 1. To,, Interest on Current Account Balance 7 4 8
July 8. To,, Dividend on £7000 Consols 104 2 6
Dec. 3. To,, John Ruskin, Esq. 20 0 0
Dec. 6. To,, Ditto *40 0 0
Dec. 9. To,, Draft at Bilston (Wilkins) 5 0 0
Dec. 11. To,, H. F. Smith 9 0 0
To,, E. R. Gill 5 0 0
To,, Mrs. Barnard 1 13 4
To,, J. Temple 5 0 0
Dec. 28. To,, Draft at Sheffield (Fowler) 20 0 0 By Balance 50 11 8
£969 6 11 £969 6 11
1875. £ s. d. 1875. £ s. d.
Jan. 1. To Balance 50 11 8 Nov. 13. By Cheque to John Ruskin, Esq. 500 0 0
Jan. 7. To,, Dividend on £7000 Consols 104 2 6
Feb. 4. To,, John Ruskin, Esq. 105 10 0
Feb. 8. To,, Draft at Manchester (Walker) 1 1 0
March 1. To,, John Ruskin, Esq. 17 2 0
March 5. To,, Ditto 8 17 0
To,, Draft at Bilston (Wilkins) 8 3 4
April 23. To,, Irvine 1 0 0
May 1. To,, John Ruskin, Esq. 20 0 0
July 7. To,, Dividend on £8000 Consols 119 0 0
July 15. To,, John Ruskin, Esq. 50 0 0
Sept. 11. To,, G. Gilbert 5 0 0
Sept. 28. To,, Draft at Bridgwater (Talbot) 11 0 4
Nov. 23. To,, By G. Allen 12 14 0 Dec. 31. By Balance 14 1 10
£514 1 10 £514 1 10
1876. £ s. d.
Jan. 1. To Balance 14 1 10

* The £40 here acknowledged was an additional subscription from No. 8 subscriber, whose total subscription is therefore £60, not £20, as in above subscriber’s account; in which also the initials of No. 38 should be S. G., and the sum £2 2s. These errors will be corrected in next Fors, in which also I will separate the interest from the subscriptions. 


II. Affairs of the Master.1

£ s. d.
Balance in Bank, 20th Jan., 1876 527 17 9
Received: Mr. Allen, on Publishing Account 50 0 0
Mr. Ellis, on ditto 7 0 0
Lecture, London Institution 10 10 0
595 7 9
Jan. 24. Royal Insurance Company (a) 37 10 0
27. F. Crawley (b) 25 0 0
31. Taxes on Armorial Bearings, etc. 7 19 0
Feb. 4. Warren and Jones—Tea for Shop 36 1 0
6. Buying a lad off who had enlisted and repented 20 0 0
7. Christmas Gifts in Oxford 14 10 0
7. Klein (c) 5 0 0
7. Pocket Money 10 10 0
7. Crawley 5 0 0
8. Miss Rudkin, Clifford Street (d) 14 14 0
11. Dr. Parsons (e) 21 0 0
11. The Bursar of Corpus (f) 27 7 3
13. Professor Westwood (g) 50 0 0
14. Mr. Sly (h), Coniston, Waterhead Inn 33 0 0
19. Downs (i) 25 0 0
20. Subscriptions to Societies, learned and other (k) 37 11 0
——— 360 2 0
Balance Feb. 20 £225 5 9

(a) Insurance on £15,000 worth of drawings and books in my rooms at Oxford. [108]

(b) Particulars of this account to be afterwards given; my Oxford assistant having just lost his wife, and been subjected to unusual expenses.

(c) My present valet, a delightful old German, on temporary service.

(d) Present, on my birthday, of a silk frock to one of my pets. It became her very nicely; but I think there was a little too much silk in the flounces.

(e) My good doctor at Coniston. Had to drive over from Hawkshead every other winter day, because I wouldn’t stop drinking too much tea—also my servants were ill.

(f) About four times this sum will keep me comfortably—all the year round—here among my Oxford friends—when I have reduced myself to the utmost allowable limit of a St. George’s Master’s income—366 pounds a year, (the odd pound for luck).

(g) For copies of the Book of Kells, bought of a poor artist. Very beautiful, and good for gifts to St. George.

(h) My honest host (happily falsifying his name), for friends when I haven’t houseroom, etc. This bill chiefly for hire of carriages.

(i) Downs shall give account of himself in next Fors.


£ s.
Athenæum 7 7
Alpine Club 1 1
Early English Text Society 10 10
Horticultural 4 4
Geological 2 2
Architectural 1 1
Historical 1 1
Anthropological 2 2
Consumption Hospital 3 3
Lifeboat 5 0
£37 11


1 My friends (see a really kind article in the Monetary Gazette,) much doubt, and very naturally, the wisdom of this exposition. I indeed expected to appear to some better advantage; but that the confession is not wholly pleasant, and appears imprudent, only makes it the better example. Fors would have it so. 



I will begin my letter to-day with our Bible lesson, out of which other necessary lessons will spring. We must take the remaining three sons of Ham together, in relation to each other and to Israel.

Mizraim, the Egyptian; Phut, the Ethiopian; Sidon, the Sidonian: or, in breadth of meaning the three African powers,—A, of the watered plain, B, of the desert, and C, of the sea; the latter throning itself on the opposite rocks of Tyre, and returning to culminate in Carthage.

A. Egypt is essentially the Hamite slavish strength of body and intellect.

B. Ethiopia, the Hamite slavish affliction of body and intellect; condemnation of the darkened race that can no more change its skin than the leopard its spots; yet capable, in its desolation of nobleness. Read the “What doth hinder me to be baptized?—If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest” of the [110]Acts; and after that the description in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ (first Monday of March), of the Nubian king, with his sword and his Bible at his right hand, and the tame lioness with her cubs, for his playmates, at his left.

C. Tyre is the Hamite slavish pleasure of sensual and idolatrous art, clothing her nakedness with sea purple. She is lady of all beautiful carnal pride, and of the commerce that feeds it,—her power over the Israelite being to beguile, or help for pay, as Hiram.

But Ethiopia and Tyre are always connected with each other: Tyre, the queen of commerce; Ethiopia, her gold-bringing slave; the redemption of these being Christ’s utmost victory. “They of Tyre, with the Morians—there, even there, was He born.” “Then shall princes come out of Egypt, and Ethiopia stretch forth her hands unto God.” “He shall let go my captives, not for price; and the labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia, shall come over unto thee, and shall be thine.”1

Learn now after the fifteenth, also the sixteenth verse of Genesis x., and read the fifteenth chapter with extreme care. If you have a good memory, learn it by heart from beginning to end; it is one of the most sublime and pregnant passages in the entire compass of ancient literature. [111]

Then understand generally that the spiritual meaning of Egyptian slavery is labour without hope, but having all the reward, and all the safety, of labour absolute. Its beginning is to discipline and adorn the body,—its end is to embalm the body; its religion is first to restrain, then to judge, “whatsoever things are done in the body, whether they be good or evil.” Therefore, whatever may be well done by measure and weight,—what force may be in geometry, mechanism, and agriculture, bodily exercise, and dress; reverent esteem of earthly birds, and beasts, and vegetables; reverent preparation of pottage, good with flesh;—these shall Egypt teach and practise, to her much comfort and power. “And when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he called his sons.”

And now remember the scene at the threshing floor of Atad (Gen. 50th, 10 and 11).

“A grievous mourning.” They embalmed Jacob. They put him in a coffin. They dutifully bore him home, for his son’s sake. Whatsoever may well be done of earthly deed, they do by him and his race. And the end of it all, for them, is a grievous mourning.

Then, for corollary, remember,—all fear of death, and embalming of death, and contemplating of death, and mourning for death, is the pure bondage of Egypt.

And whatsoever is formal, literal, miserable, material, in the deeds of human life, is the preparatory bondage of Egypt; of which, nevertheless, some formalism, some [112]literalism, some misery, and some flesh-pot comfort, will always be needful for the education of such beasts as we are. So that, though, when Israel was a child, God loved him, and called his son out of Egypt, He preparatorily sent him into Egypt. And the first deliverer of Israel had to know the wisdom of Egypt before the wisdom of Arabia; and for the last deliverer of Israel, the dawn of infant thought, and the first vision of the earth He came to save, was under the palms of Nile.

Now, therefore, also for all of us, Christians in our nascent state of muddy childhood, when Professor Huxley is asking ironically, ‘Has a frog a soul?’ and scientifically directing young ladies to cut out frogs’ stomachs to see if they can find it,—whatsoever, I say, in our necessary education among that scientific slime of Nile, is formal, literal, miserable, and material, is necessarily Egyptian.

As, for instance, brickmaking, scripture, flogging, and cooking,—upon which four heads of necessary art I take leave to descant a little.

And first of brickmaking. Every following day the beautiful arrangements of modern political economists, obeying the law of covetousness instead of the law of God, send me more letters from gentlemen and ladies asking me ‘how they are to live’?

Well, my refined friends, you will find it needful to live, if it be with success, according to God’s Law; and to love that law, and make it your meditation all [113]the day. And the first uttered article in it is, “In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread.”

“But you don’t really expect us to work with our hands, and make ourselves hot?”

Why, who, in the name of Him who made you, are you then, that you shouldn’t? Have you got past the flaming sword, back into Eden; and is your celestial opinion there that we miserable Egyptians are to work outside, here, for your dinners, and hand them through the wall to you at a tourniquet? or, as being yet true servants of the devil, while you are blessed, dish it up to you, spiritually hot, through a trap-door?

Fine anti-slavery people you are, forsooth! who think it is right not only to make slaves, but accursed slaves, of other people, that you may slip your dainty necks out of the collar!

“Ah, but we thought Christ’s yoke had no collar!”

It is time to know better. There may come a day, indeed, when there shall be no more curse;—in the meantime, you must be humble and honest enough to take your share of it.

So what can you do, that’s useful? Not to ask too much at first; and, since we are now coming to particulars, addressing myself first to gentlemen,—Do you think you can make a brick, or a tile?

You rather think not? Well, if you are healthy, and fit for work, and can do nothing better,—go and learn. [114]

You would rather not? Very possibly: but you can’t have your dinner unless you do. And why would you so much rather not?

“So ungentlemanly!”

No; to beg your dinner, or steal it, is ungentlemanly. But there is nothing ungentlemanly, that I know of, in beating clay, and putting it in a mould.

“But my wife wouldn’t like it!”

Well, that’s a strong reason: you shouldn’t vex your wife, if you can help it; but why will she be vexed? If she is a nice English girl, she has pretty surely been repeating to herself, with great unction, for some years back, that highly popular verse,—

“The trivial round, the common task,

Will give us all we ought to ask,—

Room to deny ourselves; a road

To bring us daily nearer God.”

And this, which I recommend, is not a trivial round, but an important square, of human business; and will certainly supply any quantity of room to deny yourselves in; and will bring you quite as near God as, for instance, writing lawyers’ letters to make appointments, and charging five shillings each for them. The only difference will be that, instead of getting five shillings for writing a letter, you will only get it for a day and a half’s sweat of the brow.

“Oh, but my wife didn’t mean that sort of ‘common task’ at all!” [115]

No; but your wife didn’t know what she meant; neither did Mr. Keble. Women and clergymen have so long been in the habit of using pretty words without ever troubling themselves to understand them, that they now revolt from the effort, as if it were an impiety. So far as your wife had any meaning at all, it was that until she was made an angel of, and had nothing to do but be happy, and sing her flattering opinions of God for evermore,—dressing herself and her children becomingly, and leaving cards on her acquaintances, were sufficiently acceptable services to Him, for which trivial though they were, He would reward her with immediate dinner, and everlasting glory. That was your wife’s real notion of the matter, and modern Christian women’s generally, so far as they have got any notions at all under their bonnets, and the skins of the dead robins they have stuck in them,—the disgusting little savages. But that is by no means the way in which either your hands are to be delivered from making the pots, or her head from carrying them.

Oh, but you will do it by deputy, and by help of capital, will you? Here is the Grand Junction Canal Brick, Tile, and Sanitary Pipe Company, Limited; Capital, £50,000, in 10,000 shares of £5 each; “formed for the purpose of purchasing and working an estate comprising fifty-eight acres of land known as the ‘Millpost Field,’ and ‘The Duddles,’ situate at Southall, in the county of Middlesex.” You will sit at home, serene [116]proprietor, not able, still less willing, to lift so much as a spadeful of Duddles yourself; but you will feed a certain number of brickmaking Ethiopian slaves thereon, as cheap as you can; and teach them to make bricks, as basely as they can; and you will put the meat out of their mouths into your own, and provide for their eternal salvation by gracious ministries from Uxbridge. A clerical friend of mine in that neighbourhood has, I hear, been greatly afflicted concerning the degenerate natures of brickmakers. Let him go and make, and burn, a pile or two with his own hands; he will thereby receive apocalyptic visions of a nature novel to his soul. And if he ever succeeds in making one good brick, (the clay must lie fallow in wind and sun two years before you touch it, my master Carlyle tells me,) he will have done a good deed for his generation which will be acknowledged in its day by the Stone of Israel, when the words of many a sermon will be counted against their utterers, every syllable as mere insolent breaking of the third commandment.

In the meantime, it seems that no gracious ministries from Uxbridge, or elsewhere, can redeem this untoward generation of brickmakers. Like the navvies of Furness, (Letter XI., p. 5,) they are a fallen race, fit for nothing but to have dividends got out of them, and then be damned. My fine-lady friends resign themselves pacifically to that necessity, though greatly excited, I perceive, at present, concerning vivisection. In which [117]warmth of feeling they are perfectly right, if they would only also remember that England is spending some thirty millions of pounds a year in making machines for the vivisection, not of dogs, but men; nor is this expenditure at all for anatomical purposes; but, in the real root of it, merely to maintain the gentlemanly profession of the Army, and the ingenious profession of Engineers.

Oh, but we don’t want to live by soldiering, any more than by brickmaking; behold, we are intellectual persons, and wish to live by literature.

Well, it is a slavish trade,—true Hamite; nevertheless, if we will learn our elements in true Egyptian bondage, some good may come of it.

For observe, my literary friends, the essential function of the slavish Egyptian, in the arts of the world, is to lose the picture in the letter; as the essential function of the Eleutherian Goth is to illuminate the letter into the picture.

The Egyptian is therefore the scribe of scribes,—the supremely literary person of earth. The banks of Nile give him his rock volume: the reeds of Nile his paper roll. With cleaving chisel, and cloven reed, he writes thereon, exemplarily: the ark which his princess found among the paper reeds, is the true beginning of libraries,—Alexandrian, and all other. What you call Scripture, in special, coming out of it; the first portion written in Egyptian manner, (it is [118]said,) with the finger of God. Scribe and lawyer alike have too long forgotten the lesson,—come now and learn it again, of Theuth, with the ibis beak.2

When next you are in London on a sunny morning, take leisure to walk into the old Egyptian gallery of the British Museum, after traversing which for a third of its length, you will find yourself in the midst of a group of four massy sarcophagi,—two on your left, two on your right. Assume that they are represented by the letters below, and that you are walking in the direction of the arrow, so that you have the sarcophagi A and B on your left, and the sarcophagi C and D on your right.

In my new Elements of Drawing, I always letter the corners of a square all round thus, so that A C is always the diagonal, A B the upright side on the left, and A D the base.

A diagram as described above.

The sarcophagus A is a king’s; B, a scribe’s; C, a queen’s; and D, a priest’s.

A is of a grand basaltic rock with veins full of agates, and white onyx,—the most wonderful piece of crag I know; B and C are of grey porphyry; D of red granite.

The official information concerning sarcophagus A, (Nectabenes,) is to the effect that it dates from the 30th dynasty, or about 380 B.C.

B, (Hapimen,) of the 26th dynasty, or about 525. [119]

C, (the Queen’s,) of the same dynasty and period.

D, (Naskatu,) of the 27th dynasty, or about 500 B.C.

The three sarcophagi, then, B, C, and D, were, (we are told,) cut exactly at the time when, beyond the North Sea, Greek art, just before Marathon, was at its grandest.

And if you look under the opened lid of the queen’s, you will see at the bottom of it the outline portrait, or rather symbol, of her, engraved, with the hawk for her crest, signifying what hope of immortality or power after death remained to her.

But the manner of the engraving you must observe. This is all that the Egyptian Holbein could do on stone, after a thousand years at least of practised art; while the Greeks, who had little more than begun only two hundred years before, were already near to the strength of carving their Theseus, perfect for all time.

This is the Hamite bondage in Art: of which the causes will teach themselves to us as we work, ourselves. Slavery is good for us in the beginning, and for writing-masters we can find no better than these Mizraimites: see what rich lines of Scripture they are, along the black edges of those tombs. To understand at all how well they are done, we must at once begin to do the like, in some sort ourselves.

By the exercise given in Fors of January, if you have practised it, you have learned something of what [120]is meant by merit and demerit in a pure line, however produced. We must now consider of our tools a little.

You can make a mark upon things in three ways—namely, by scratching them, painting on them with a brush, or letting liquid run on them out of a pen. Pencil or chalk marks are merely a kind of coarse painting with dry material.

The primitive and simplest mark is the scratch or cut, which shall be our first mode of experiment. Take a somewhat blunt penknife, and a composition candle; and scratch or cut a fine line on it with the point of the knife, drawing the sharp edge of the knife towards you.

Examine the trace produced through a magnifying glass, and you will find it is an angular ditch with a little ridge raised at its side, or sides, pressed out of it.

Next, scratch the candle with the point of the knife, turning the side of the blade forwards: you will now cut a broader furrow, but the wax or composition will rise out of it before the knife in a beautiful spiral shaving, formed like the most lovely little crimped or gathered frill; which I’ve been trying to draw, but can’t; and if you can, you will be far on the way to drawing spiral staircases, and many other pretty things.

Nobody, so far as I have myself read, has yet clearly explained why a wood shaving, or continuously driven [121]portion of detached substance, should thus take a spiral course; nor why a substance like wax or water, capable of yielding to pressure, should rise or fall under a steady force in successive undulations. Leaving these questions for another time, observe that the first furrow, with the ridge at its side, represents the entire group of incised lines ploughed in soft grounds, the head of them all being the plough furrow itself. And the line produced by the flat side of the knife is the type of those produced by complete excision, the true engraver’s.

Next, instead of wax, take a surface of wood, and, drawing first as deep and steady a furrow in it as you can with the edge of the knife, proceed to deepen it by successive cuts.

You will, of course, find that you must cut from the two sides, sloping to the middle, forming always a deeper angular ditch; but you will have difficulty in clearing all out neatly at the two ends.

And if you think of it, you will perceive that the simplest conceivable excision of a clear and neat kind must be that produced by three cuts given triangularly.3 For though you can’t clear out the hollow with two touches, you need not involve yourself in the complexity of four. [122]

And unless you take great pains in keeping the three sides of this triangle equal, two will be longer than the third. So the type of the primitive incised mark is what grand persons call ‘cuneiform’—wedge-shaped.

Elementary picture of a starfish.

If you cut five such cuneiform incisions in a star group, thus, with a little circle connecting them in the middle, you will have the element of the decorative upper border both on the scribe’s coffin and the queen’s. You will also have an elementary picture of a starfish—or the portrait of the pentagonal and absorbent Adam and Eve who were your ancestors, according to Mr. Darwin.

You will see, however, on the sarcophagi that the rays are not equidistant, but arranged so as to express vertical position,—of that afterwards; to-day observe only the manner of their cutting; and then on a flat surface of porphyry,—do the like yourself.

You don’t know what porphyry is—nor where to get it? Write to Mr. Tennant, 149, Strand, and he will send you a little bit as cheap as he can. Then you must get a little vice to fix it, and a sharp-pointed little chisel, and a well-poised little hammer; and, when you have cut your asterisk, you will know more about Egypt than nine hundred and ninety-nine people out of a thousand,—Oxford scholars and all. Awaiting the result [123]of your experiment, I proceed to the other instrument of writing, the reed, or pen.

Coloured manuscript text.

Of which the essential power is that it can make a narrow stroke sideways, and a broad one when you press it open.

Now our own current writing, I told you, is to be equal in thickness of line. You will find that method the quickest and servicablest. But in quite beautiful writing, the power of the pen is to be exhibited with decision; and of its purest and delicatest exertion, you will see the result on the opposite page; facsimile by Mr. Burgess, coloured afterwards by hand, from a piece of Lombardic writing, of about the eleventh century,—(I shall not say where the original is, because I don’t want it to be fingered)—which the scribe has entirely delighted in doing, and of which every line and touch is perfect in its kind. Copy it, with what precision you can, (and mind how you put in the little blue dash to thicken the s of Fides,) for in its perfect uprightness, exquisite use of the diamond-shaped touches obtained by mere pressure on the point, and reserved administration of colour, it is a model not to be surpassed; standing precisely half-way between old Latin letters and mediæval Gothic. The legend of it is—

“Fides catholica edita ab Athanasio

Alexandrie sedis episcopo.”

Towards the better understanding of which Catholic [124]faith, another step may be made, if you will, by sending to Mr. Ward for the Etruscan Leucothea,4 with Dionysus on her knees, which also stands just half-way in imagination, though only a quarter of the way in time, between the Egyptian Madonna, (Isis with Horus,) of fifteen hundred years before Christ, and the Florentine Madonna by Lippi, fifteen hundred years after Christ. Lippi, being true-bred Etruscan, simply raises the old sculpture into pure and sacred life, retaining all its forms, even to the spiral of the throne ornament, and the transgression of the figures on the bordering frame, acknowledging, in this subjection to the thoughts and laws of his ancestors, a nobler Catholic Faith than Athanasius wrote: faith, namely, in that one Lord by whose breath, from the beginning of creation, the children of men are born; and into whose hands, dying, they give up their spirit.

This photograph of Etruscan art is therefore to be the second of our possessions, and means of study; affording us at once elements of art-practice in many directions, according to our strength; and as we began with drawing the beads of cap, and spiral of chair, in the Lippi, rather than the Madonna, so here it will be well to be sure we can draw the throne, before we try the Leucothea. Outline it first by the eye, then trace the original, to correct your drawing; and by the time [125]next Fors comes out, I hope your power of drawing a fine curve, like that of the back of this throne, will be materially increased; by that time also I shall have got spirals to compare with these Etruscan ones, drawn from shells only an hour or two old, sent me by my good friend Mr. Sillar, (who taught me the wrongness of the infinite spiral of money interest,) by which I am at present utterly puzzled, finding our conclusions in last Fors on this point of zoology quite wrong; and that the little snails have no less twisted houses than the large. But neither for drawing nor architecture is there to-day more time, but only to correct and clarify my accounts, which I have counted a little too far on my power of keeping perspicuous without trouble; and have thereby caused my subscribers and myself a good deal more than was needful.

Henceforward I must ask their permission, unless I receive definite instruction to the contrary, to give names in full, as the subscriptions come in, and give up our occult notation.

I am not quite so well pleased with my good friend Mr. Girdlestone’s pamphlet on luxury as I was with that on classification of society, though I am heartily glad to be enabled by him to distribute it to my readers, for its gentle statements may be more convincing than my impatient ones. But I must protest somewhat against their mildness. It is not now merely dangerous, but criminal, to teach the lie that the poor [126]live by the luxury of the rich. Able men—even Pope himself—have been betrayed into thinking so in old times, (blaming the luxury, however, no less,) but the assertion is now made by no intelligent person, unless with the deliberate purpose of disguising abuses on which all the selfish interests of society depend.

I have to acknowledge a quite magnificent gift of Japanese inlaid work to our Sheffield Museum, from my kind friend Mr. Henry Willett, of Arnold House, Brighton. A series of some fifty pieces was offered by him for our selection: but I have only accepted a tithe of them, thinking that the fewer examples of each school we possess, the better we shall learn from them. Three out of the five pieces I have accepted are of quite unsurpassable beauty, and the two others of extreme interest. They are sent to the Curator at Sheffield. [127]

1 Psalm lxviii. 31; lxxxiii. 7 and 8; lxxxvii. 4; Isaiah xlv. 14. I am not sure of my interpretation of the 87th Psalm; but, as far as any significance exists in it to our present knowledge, it can only be of the power of the Nativity of Christ to save Rahab the harlot, Philistia the giant, Tyre the trader, and Ethiopia the slave. 

2 Letter XVII., p. 6. 

3 You may indeed dip softly into the ground and rise gradually out of it; but this will give you not a clear, but an infinitely graduated excision, exquisite in drawing, but not good for writing. 

4 I take the title of this relief from Mr. Parker’s catalogue, not being certain of the subject myself, and rather conceiving it to be Latona with Apollo. 


I. Affairs of the Company.

I give on next two pages our banker’s account to 14th March of this year. Calling this ‘Account B,’ and that given to the end of last year, in last Fors, ‘Account A,’ the following abstract of both is, I hope, accurate.

By Account A: £ s. d.
Cash paid into bank 653 1 0
Interest accumulated 780 5 6
By Account B:
Cash paid into bank 324 11 1
Interest 119 0 0
Giving total to our credit 1876 17 7
Per contra, we have—
Petty expenses 0 10 9
Purchase of £1000 Consols 918 15 0
Cheques to myself 800 0 0
Balance 157 11 10
1876 17 7

Of the cheques for £800 I will give account presently; but first, we must compare the cash paid in with the subscription list.

The total cash paid in is— Account A 653 1 0
Account B 324 11 1
977 12 1

Now see subscription list, after banker’s account, page 129. [128]


Dr. Cr.
1876. £ s. d. 1876. £ s. d.
Jan. 1. To Balance 14 1 10 Feb. 22. By Charges on two local notes 0 0 10
Jan. 6. To,, Dividend on £8000 Consols 119 0 0 Feb. 25. By,, Postage of Pass Book 0 0 3
Jan. 13. To,, Geo. Allen 24 11 1 March 3. By,, John Ruskin, Esq. 300 0 0
Feb. 15. To,, John Ruskin, Esq. 25 0 0
Feb. 15. To,, Draft at Sheffield 8 0 0
Feb. 15. To,, Draft,, at,, Ambleside 6 0 0
Feb. 15. To,, Draft,, at,, Bridgwater 100 0 0
Feb. 15. To,, Draft,, at,, Birmingham 5 0 0
Feb. 22. To,, Cash 35 0 0
March 4. To,, Draft at Windsor 20 0 0
March 7. To,, Cash 25 0 0
March 7. To,, Draft at Oxford 50 0 0
March 14. To,, Cash 6 0 0
March 14. To,, Draft at Sheffield 20 0 0 March 15. By Balance 157 11 10
£457 12 11 £457 12 11
1876. £ s. d.
March 15. To Balance 157 11 10


Subscription List.

To March 14th of this Year.

£ s. d.
Total in Fors of February 741 14 10
(Corrections received note of.)
No. 8. Additional 40 0 0
No.,, 26. Additional,, 1 5 0
No.,, 38. Subscriptions 1875, 1876 2 2 0
785 1 10

Now continuing the list.

No. 55. J. W. 50 0 0
No.,, 56. The mother of the first donor of land to St. George 100 0 0
No.,, 57. The Curator of our Museum 8 0 0
No.,, 58. B. A., Subscription, 1876 3 0 0
No.,, 59. J. T. S. 50 0 0
No.,, 60. E. L. 20 0 0
No.,, 61. S. I. 2 0 0
No.,, 62. R. R. 5 0 0
No.,, 63. L. L. 0 10 0
1023 11 10
Cash paid in 977 12 1
Balance in my hands 45 19 9

The sum in my hands, thus amounting to £ 845 19s. 9d., has been distributed as follows:—

£ s. d.
Purchase of land and house at Sheffield 600 0 0
Henry Swan—Two quarters’ salary to 31st March, 1876 20 0 0
Expenses of repair, Sheffield 41 0 0
Prints (Colnaghi). See November Fors 29 10 0
Messrs. Tarrant and Mackrell, 29th December, 1876
£20 17 5
26 15 11 47 13 4
Balance in my hands 106 16 5
£845 19 9


Messrs. Tarrant and Mackrell’s accounts follow. I had an offer from Sheffield to do this legal work for nothing; but I wanted to be sure that everything was in due form, and I can trust this London firm. My very good friend Mr. Tarrant must, however, pardon my pointing out to him how much more pleasantly, for all parties, he might be employed, as suggested in Fors XVI., pages 10 and 11, than in taxing this transfer of property to the amount of nearly fifty pounds—(seven pounds odd worth of letters merely). For, were the members of the legal profession employed generally in illuminating initials, and so got out of our way, and the lands of the country properly surveyed and fenced, all that would be really needful for the sale of any portion of them by anybody to anybody else, would be the entry in a roll recording the tenure of so many square miles round each principal town. “The piece of land hitherto belonging to A B, is this day sold to and henceforward belongs to C D, whereof we (city magistrate and a head of any county family) are witnesses.”


Costs of Purchase of Freehold Land and Messuage in Bell Hagg Road, Sheffield.

Sept. 20. £ s. d.
On receipt of letters from Messrs. Webster, and from Mr. Ruskin, as to purchase of land and a house at Sheffield, writing Messrs. Webster, the vendor’s solicitors, to send us contract 0 5 0
Writing Mr. Ruskin as to amount of purchase money, he having stated it to be £600, and Messrs. Webster £630 0 3 6
Oct. 4.
On receipt of draft contract for approval from Messrs. Webster, with abstract of title for inspection, looking through abstract, when we found it would be necessary to have a copy of plan on deed of 1st May, 1857, and an [131]abstract of the Rivelin View Society’s Deed of Covenants, before investigating the title, or approving contract 0 13 4
Writing Messrs. Webster accordingly 0 5 0
Copy contract to keep, fo. 15 0 5 0
Oct. 11.
Perusing abstract of title, nine sheets 1 0 0
Perusing the Rivelin View Company’s Deed of Covenants, four sheets 0 10 0
Perusing and approving draft contract 0 6 8
Writing vendor’s solicitors with contract approved and thereon, and for plan which they had omitted to send 0 5 0
Oct. 13.
Writing Messrs. Webster, acknowledging letter approving of our alterations in contract, and asking for plan which they had omitted to send, although in their letter they stated it was enclosed 0 5 0
Engrossing one part of the contract for signature of Mr. Ruskin, and paid stamp thereon 0 10 6
Drawing plan thereon 0 7 6
Writing Mr. Ruskin, with contract for his signature, and fully thereon, and as to the contents of the Rivelin View Society’s Deed of Covenants, and as to Trustees of the Company to whom the property might be conveyed, and for cheque for £60 for deposit 0 5 0
Oct. 18.
On receipt of letter from Mr. Ruskin with contract signed and cheque for deposit, writing him acknowledging receipt 0 3 6
Writing with appointment to exchange contracts and pay deposit 0 3 6
Attending exchanging contracts, and paying deposit 0 6 8
Oct. 19.
Writing our agents at Sheffield (Messrs. Broomhead and Co.) with abstract of title to examine, with deeds, and instructing them 0 5 0
Oct. 20.
Writing vendor’s solicitors that contract exchanged and deposit paid to their London agent, and as to examination of title deeds 0 5 0 [132]
Oct. 21.
On receipt of abstract from Messrs. Broomhead and Co., with remarks on title, writing them to examine probate of H. Norton’s will in hands of Messrs. Tattershall, and on subject of duties, etc., under that will, and returning abstract to them 0 3 6
Oct. 23.
Attending perusing conditions of sale under which Mr. Bagshawe bought the property before drawing requisitions on title 0 6 8
Oct. 29.
Drawing requisitions and copy 0 10 0
Writing vendor’s solicitors therewith 0 3 6
Nov. 5.
Instructions for deed of conveyance 0 6 8
Drawing same, fo. 16 0 16 0
Fair copy for perusal 0 5 4
Writing Messrs. Webster therewith and fully thereon 0 5 0
Nov. 10.
Engrossing conveyance 0 13 4
Paid parchment 0 5 0
Writing Mr. Ruskin on subject of completion, and for cheque for £540 balance of purchase money, and with consent to be signed by him to conveyance being taken to the Right Hon. W. C. Temple and Sir T. D. Acland as Trustees for the Company, Mr. Ruskin having entered into the contract 0 5 0
Writing vendor’s solicitors, with engrossment for examination, and fully thereon 0 5 0
Writing Messrs. Broomhead, our agents, instructing them to make proper searches in the Land Registry at Wakefield, and as to completion of purchase 0 3 6
Nov. 12.
Writing our agents at Sheffield, with cheque for £540 purchase money, and very fully as to registering deed of conveyance, searches, and settling 0 5 0
Writing Mr. Ruskin acknowledging receipt of his two letters, with two cheques for, together, £540 0 3 6 [133]
Nov. 15.
Attending examining certificates of searches, with abstract, when we found same satisfactory 0 6 8
Nov. 16.
On receipt of conveyance executed by the vendor and his mortgagee, attending stamping, and afterwards, for same 0 6 8
Paid stamp 3 0 0
Writing our agents, with stamped deed conveyance for registration, and fully thereon 0 3 6
Nov. 22.
Making schedule of documents received from agents (Messrs. Broomhead), and writing them acknowledging receipt of deeds, and for account of their charges 0 3 6
Nov. 29.
On receipt of account of agents’ charges, amounting to £10 14s. 11d., writing them with cheque 0 3 6
Writing Mr. Ruskin on subject of insurance 0 5 0
Incidentals 0 10 0
16 1 0
Paid Messrs. Broomhead’s charges 10 14 11
£26 15 11


General Bill of Costs to 10th December, 1875.

Feb. 13.
On receipt of letter from Mr. Ruskin, attending him at Herne Hill, and conferring on course to be taken on subject of letter from Messrs. Griffith and Son, of Dolgelly, as to conveyance of cottage property at Barmouth, and on the necessity of trust deed for the purpose of such conveyance, so as to carry out the wishes of Mr. Ruskin and others for improving the condition of agriculturists, and paid rail 1 2 0
Feb. 15.
Writing Messrs. Griffith and Son, as arranged 0 5 0 [134]
Feb. 18.
Attending Sir Sydney Waterlow, Mr. W. J. Thompson, and others, as to the Industrial Dwellings Company, of which they had been promoters, with a view to obtaining information to guide me in the formation of the St. George’s Company 0 6 8
Feb. 22.
Instructions to counsel to advise in conference on course to be adopted to carry out the scheme 0 6 8
Making copy of Mr. Ruskin’s letter to accompany instructions 0 5 0
Attending counsel therewith, when it was arranged that conference should be postponed until Mr. Ruskin could attend 0 6 8
Writing Mr. Ruskin to let me know on what day he could attend conference 0 5 0
Feb. 23.
On receipt of letter from Messrs. Griffith and Son, writing them fully in reply 0 5 0
March 10.
Attending counsel, Mr. Barber appointing conference for 3.30 on Monday 0 6 8
Writing Mr. Ruskin, with appointment 0 3 6
March 15.
Attending conference with Mr. Ruskin at Mr. Barber’s, when it was decided that he should draw a deed for the purpose of carrying out Mr. Ruskin’s wishes, and paid cab 1 3 0
Paid counsel’s fee and clerk 1 6 0
Drawing proposal circular 0 12 0
March 21.
Attending counsel therewith to settle 0 6 8
Paid his fee and clerk 1 3 6
March 26.
Attending counsel, appointing conference on draft 0 6 8
April 26.
Attending conference 0 13 4
Paid counsel’s fee and clerk 1 6 0
April 29.
Fair copy of proposed circular as settled 0 4 0
Letter to Mr. Ruskin therewith and thereon 0 5 0



£ s. d.
June 9.
On receipt of letter from Mr. Ruskin on draft circular, making copy of Mr. Ruskin’s suggestions to place before counsel three brief sheets 0 10 0
Perusing and considering same 0 10 0
Drawing memoranda of constitution of the Company, to take place of the circular 1 10 0
June 10.
Instructions to counsel to settle same, and with Mr. Ruskin’s suggestions, etc. 0 6 8
Attending counsel therewith 0 6 8
Paid his fee and clerk 2 4 6
June 11.
Long letter to Mr. Ruskin in reply to his of the 27th and 28th ult., and 8th inst. 0 5 0
June 15.
Fair copy memoranda of constitution of the Company, as settled by counsel, fo. 30 0 10 0
Writing Mr. Ruskin therewith and thereon 0 5 0
June 23.
Attending Mr. Ruskin on his calling and handing us print of the proposed memoranda in a number of his ‘Fors Clavigera,’ and with Mr. Ruskin’s suggestions for some alterations; and we were to submit same to counsel, and obtain a conference with him in about a month’s time, which Mr. Ruskin would attend 0 6 8
Oct. 7.
On receipt of the July and October ‘Fors’ from Mr. Ruskin, attending, perusing, and considering remarks and suggestions contained therein, and bearing on the formation of the St. George’s Company, and also your letter to us of the 2nd inst., returning us the draft memoranda sent you on the 15th June, with your remarks thereon, and letter you had received from a correspondent on the subject, attending, perusing, and considering the several letters and documents to enable us to revise the memoranda as desired 1 1 0
Oct. 15.
Writing Mr. Ruskin very fully on subject of revision of [136]memoranda and statutes, and for further information as to marshals, etc. 0 5 0
Oct. 24.
On receipt of letter from Mr. Ruskin withdrawing all reference to marshals from the proposed memoranda, making fresh copy of the memoranda as drawn, and adding in the margin thereof all suggestions and comments thereon contained in the ‘Fors,’ and the several letters we had received in connection with the matter 0 10 0
Oct. 30.
Instructions to counsel to revise memoranda 0 6 8
Attending him therewith and thereon 0 6 8
Paid his fee and clerk 1 3 6
Dec. 10.
Writing Mr. Ruskin, with draft memoranda and counsel’s amendments, and with counsel’s opinion at foot thereof, and also as to insurance of the Sheffield premises 0 5 0
Petty disbursements and incidentals 0 10 0
£22 0 8

II. Affairs of the Master.

£ s. d.
Balance, Feb. 20th 225 5 9
Cash (Portsdown mortgage, paid March 2nd) 1522 12 4
1747 18 1
Feb. 28. Kleina 40 0 0
March 1. Raffaelle Carlofortib 15 0 0
2. Thomas Wade, Esq.c 31 10 0
6. Selfd 35 0 0
6. Arthur Burgess 30 0 0
9. F. Crawleye 40 0 0
10. Charles F. Murray, Esq.f 10 0 0
11. Antonio Valmaranag 50 0 0
16. Antonio Colettih 25 0 0
276 10 0
Balance £1471 8 1

a Travelling and personal expenses since January 1st, of which I have no space for the detail in this Fors; it will be given in its place. Klein has ten pounds a month, himself, besides his expenses in Oxford when I’ve no rooms for him. 

b A youth, whom I am maintaining in art-study at Venice. He has £7 10s. monthly. This payment is to end of April. 

c Water-colour drawing of a cottage at Coniston, likely to be soon destroyed by ‘improvements.’ 

d £10 pocket-money, £25 to St. George, money of his in my hands included in my banker’s January balance, acknowledged in St. George accounts, March 7th. 

e £21 of this my own upholsterer’s and other bills at Oxford; the rest, Crawley will account for. 

f Drawings made for me at Siena. 

g Fifty drawings made for me by Signor Caldara of Venice, being part of a complete Venetian Herbal in process of execution. I count none of my money better spent than this. 

h Annual gift to monastery of Assisi, for 1875; not sent last year because I meant to go there. Due always on the Corpus Domini. 



“Dear Sir,—On referring to Helix ericetorum (the species I take your outline to be enlarged from) in Dr. Turton’s British Land and Fresh-water Shells, with additions by Dr. Gray, I find it stated, on the authority of M. Bouchard, that the eggs of H. ericetorum are laid from July to November, and are from forty to sixty in number, the time of hatching being twenty days after laying, and the length of the snail’s life is eighteen months. It is not, however, stated whether these particulars refer to H. ericetorum in England or France.

“The only extra information I can get from my other book is that heavy rains kill great numbers of them. [138]

“Your drawing refers to the shell of a full-grown snail, shown by its having six whorls, and by the slight reflex curve at the outer end of the spiral.1

“With regard to the formation of the shell, I can state that it was formed by successive additions during the life of the snail, the small dark transparent portion in the centre of the spiral being the nucleus, and the lines and ridges crossing the spiral indicate the different rings or layers of shell added to suit the convenience of the snail.

“I enclose specimens of H. ericetorum from Deal,2 to enable you to compare them with those from Arundel, to make sure that they are the same species.

“I am, dear Sir, your obedient servant,

“H. L.”

IV. “A Swedish newspaper contains a lengthy account of the gallant rescue of a Swedish steamer by the people of the village of Cresswell, Northumberland. Thirteen out of the fifteen male inhabitants manned the boat, to launch which the women waded to their waists. A fisher-girl named Bella Brown ran ten miles to the next lifeboat station for assistance, and had to wade through several bays on an icy January night. The brave girl was seized with cramp on returning, and nearly lost her life.”

V. Part of a letter from one of my best friends, Fellow and Tutor of Corpus, communicating some recent notes on English scenery:—

“I next went to the Isle of Wight, which is very pretty, but all over-builded. It threatens soon to become a mere suburb of London. Portsmouth detained me a day,—all too brief a time [139]for its beauties and horrors, its relics of past naval glories and picturesque bits on land and sea, its nightmare sea-going caldrons, misnamed men-of-war, at the present. I went on board the Thunderer, twin ship of the Devastation. I had expected something ugly and horrible, both inside and out; but my expectations were surpassed tenfold, especially with regard to the inside of the ship. The crew are confined altogether in utterly dark dungeons at each end of the ship, wholly under water, and hardly high enough for a man to walk in upright. An iron-shielded and very high deck in the middle of the ship is the only place where a man can see the light of day, and live when this witch’s kettle is at sea, as the ends of the vessel cut under the waves. The bull of Phalaris would have been an eligible prison to me in comparison of this; victims, at any rate, were not sent to sea in it.”


“Dear Sir,—In this month’s ‘Fors,’ page 107—‘Affairs of the Master,’—if you add up the amounts paid out, I think you will find, instead of £360 2s. 0d., the amount should be £370 2s. 3d., and leaves a proper balance of £225 5s. 6d.

“I hope you will not be offended at me for troubling you with these trifling errors, of no moment; but I have got a singular habit—that I can never pass over a column of added figures, no matter what length, without testing their correctness.

“Yours truly,

E. Rydings.”

(If only my good correspondent—now a Companion—will indulge himself constantly in this good habit as respects the Fors accounts, I shall be much more at ease about them. But his postscript is more important.)

P.S. You say that the girls of St. George’s Company shall learn to spin and weave, etc. There is a good deal of hand-spinning [140]done on this little island, but I am sorry to say that there are no young girls learning now to spin; and in a few years more, the common spinning wheel here will be as great a curiosity as it is in Lancashire, where one is never seen—only at the theatre. I have gone to some little trouble to ascertain why the young girls are not learning now to spin; and the principal reason I can gather is that home-spun ‘Manks-made dresses,’ as they are called, last too long, and therefore do not give the young women a chance of having four or five new dresses in the year. I could give you some interesting information about hand-spinning and weaving here, but must reserve it for another time, and will send you patterns of cloth, etc. All our blankets, sheets, flannels, skirts, jacket cloth, stockings, and yarns, have been spun by my wife and her mother before her. We have now linen sheets in wear, not a hole or a tear in them, that were spun by my wife’s mother,—and she, poor body, has been dead twenty-eight or twenty-nine years,—the flax grown on their own farm. Fine and white they are, and would compare favourably in fineness with machine-made Irish linen. The daughters of Lord Auckland, when he was bishop here, used to go every Saturday afternoon to my wife’s mother’s, (who lived just behind Bishop Court,) to learn to spin.

“But I must write you a special letter on the subject when I have got my patterns ready.”


1 Exaggerated a little, I’m afraid.—J. R. 

2 The shells sent, for which I heartily thank my correspondent, are, I think, the same as mine, only not so white. 



I told you in last Fors to learn the 15th chapter of Genesis by heart. Too probably, you have done nothing of the sort; but, at any rate, let us now read it together, that I may tell you, of each verse, what I wanted, (and still beg,) you to learn it for.

1. “The word of God came to Abram.” Of course you can’t imagine such a thing as that the word of God should ever come to you? Is that because you are worse, or better, than Abram?—because you are a more, or less, civilized person than he? I leave you to answer that question for yourself;—only, as I have told you often before, but cannot repeat too often, find out first what the Word is; and don’t suppose that the printed thing in your hand, which you call a Bible, is the Word of God, and that the said Word may therefore always be bought at a pious stationer’s for eighteen-pence.

Farther, in the “Explanatory and Critical Commentary and Revision of the Translation” (of the [142]Holy Bible) by Bishops and other Clergy of the Established Church, published in 1871, by Mr. John Murray, you will find the interesting statement, respecting this verse, that “This is the first time that the expression—so frequent afterwards—‘the Word of the Lord’ occurs in the Bible.” The expression is certainly rather frequent afterwards; and one might have perhaps expected from the Episcopal and clerical commentators, on this, its first occurrence, some slight notice of the probable meaning of it. They proceed, however, without farther observation, to discuss certain problems, suggested to them by the account of Abram’s vision, respecting somnambulism; on which, though one would have thought few persons more qualified than themselves to give an account of that condition, they arrive at no particular conclusion.

But even their so carefully limited statement is only one-third true. It is true of the Hebrew Law; not of the New Testament:—of the entire Bible, it is true of the English version only; not of the Latin, nor the Greek. Nay, it is very importantly and notably untrue of those earlier versions.

There are three words in Latin, expressive of utterance in three very different manners; namely, ‘verbum,’ a word, ‘vox,’ a voice, and ‘sermo,’ a sermon.

Now, in the Latin Bible, when St. John says “the Word was in the beginning,” he says, the ‘Verbum’ was in the beginning. But here, when somebody [143](nobody knows who, and that is a bye question of some importance,) is represented as saying, “The word of the Lord came to Abram,” what somebody really says, is that “There was made to Abram a ‘Sermon’ of the Lord.”

Does it not seem possible that one of the almost unconscious reasons of your clergy for not pointing out this difference in expression, may be a doubt whether you ought not rather to desire to hear God preach, than them?

But the Latin word ‘verbum,’ from which you get ‘verbal’ and ‘verbosity,’ is a very obscure and imperfect rendering of the great Greek word ‘Logos,’ from which you get ‘logic,’ and ‘theology,’ and all the other logies.

And the phrase “word of the Lord,” which the Bishops, with unusual episcopic clairvoyance, have really observed to ‘occur frequently afterwards’ in the English Bible, is, in the Greek Bible always “the Logos of the Lord.” But this Sermon to Abraham is only ‘rhema,’ an actual or mere word; in his interpretation of which, I see, my good Dean of Christ Church quotes the Greek original of Sancho’s proverb, “Fair words butter no parsneps.” Which we shall presently see to have been precisely Abram’s—(of course cautiously expressed)—feeling, on this occasion. But to understand his feeling, we must look what this sermon of the Lord’s was. [144]

The sermon (as reported), was kind, and clear. “Fear not, Abram, I am thy Shield, and thy exceeding great Reward,” (‘reward’ being the poetical English of our translators—the real phrase being ‘thy exceeding great pay, or gain’). Meaning, “You needn’t make an iron tent, with a revolving gun in the middle of it, for I am your tent and artillery in one; and you needn’t care to get a quantity of property, for I am your property; and you needn’t be stiff about your rights of property, because nobody will dispute your right to Me.”

To which Abram answers, “Lord God, what wilt Thou give me, seeing I go childless.”

Meaning,—“Yes, I know that;—but what is the good of You to me, if I haven’t a child? I am a poor mortal: I don’t care about the Heavens or You; I want a child.”

Meaning this, at least, if the Latin and English Bibles are right in their translation—“I am thy great gain.” But the Greek Bible differs from them; and puts the promise in a much more tempting form to the modern English mind. It does not represent God as offering Himself; but something far better than Himself, actually exchangeable property! Wealth, according to Mr. John Stuart Mill. Here is indeed a prospect for Abram!—and something to refuse, worth thinking twice about. For the Septuagint reads, “Fear not, Abram. I am thy Protector, and thou shalt [145]have an exceeding great pay.” Practically, just as if, supposing Sir Stafford Northcote to represent the English nation of the glorious future, a Sermon of the Lord should come just now to him, saying, “Fear not, Sir Stafford, I am thy Devastation; and thou shalt have an exceeding great surplus.”

On which supposition, Abram’s answer is less rude, but more astonishing. “Oh God, what wilt thou give me? What good is money to me, who am childless?”

Again, as if Sir Stafford Northcote should answer, in the name of the British people, saying, “Lord God, what wilt thou give me? What is the good to me of a surplus? What can I make of surplus? It is children that I want, not surplus!”

A truly notable parliamentary utterance on the Budget, if it might be! Not for a little while yet, thinks Sir Stafford; perhaps, think wiser and more sorrowful people than he, not until England has had to stone, according to the law of Deuteronomy xxi. 18, some of the children she has got: or at least to grapeshot them. I couldn’t get anything like comfortable rooms in the Pea Hen at St. Alban’s, the day before yesterday, because the Pea Hen was cherishing, for chickens under her wings, ever so many officers of the Royal Artillery; and some beautiful sixteen-pounders,—exquisite fulfilments of all that science could devise, in those machines; which were unlimbered in the market-place, on their way to Sheffield—where I [146]am going myself, as it happens. I wonder much, in the name of my mistress, whose finger is certainly in this pie, what business we have there, (both of us,) the black machines, and I. As Atropos would have it, too, I had only been making out, with good Mr. Douglas’s help, in Woolwich Repository on Wednesday last, a German Pea Hen’s inscription on a sixteen-pounder of the fourteenth century:—

Ich bin fürwahr, ein Grober Baur

Ver frist mein ayr, es wurd ihm Saur.

Verse 5th. “And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Tell now the stars, if thou be able to number them. So shall thy seed be.”

Of course you would have answered God instantly, and told Him the exact number of the stars, and all their magnitudes. Simple Abram, conceiving that, even if he did count all he could see, there might yet be a few more out of sight, does not try.

Verse 6th. “And he believed in the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness.”

That, on the whole, is the primary verse of the entire Bible. If that is true, the rest is worth whatever Heaven is worth; if that is untrue, the rest is worth nothing. You had better, therefore, if you can, learn it also in Greek and Latin.

Καὶ ἐπίστευσεν Ἀβραμ τῷ Θεῷ, καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην. [147]

“Credidit Abram Deo, et reputatum est illo in justitiam.”

If, then, that text be true, it will follow that you also, if you would have righteousness counted to you, must believe God. And you can’t believe Him if He never says anything to you. Whereupon it will be desirable again to consider if He ever has said anything to you; and if not, why not.

After this verse, I don’t understand much of the chapter myself—but I never expect to understand everything in the Bible, or even more than a little; and will make what I can of it.

Verses 7th, 8th. “And He said, I the Lord brought thee, to give thee this land, to inherit it.

“But he said, Lord, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?”

Now, I don’t see how he could know it better than by being told so; nor how he knew it any better, after seeing a lamp moving between half-carcases. But we will at least learn, as well as we can, what happened; and think it over.

The star-lesson was of course given in the night; and, in the morning, Abram slays the five creatures, and watches their bodies all day.

‘Such an absurd thing to do—to cut rams and cows in two, to please God!’

Indeed it seems so; yet perhaps is better than cutting men in two to please ourselves; and we spend [148]thirty millions a year in preparations for doing that. How many more swiftly divided carcases of horses and men, think you, my Christian friends, have the fowls fed on, not driven away,—finding them already carved for their feast, or blown into small and convenient morsels, by the military gentlemen of Europe, in sacrifice to—their own epaulettes, (poor gilded and eyeless idols!) during the past seventy and six years of this one out of the forty centuries since Abram?

“The birds divided he not.” A turtle dove, or in Greek ‘cooing dove;’ and a pigeon, or in Greek ‘dark dove;’ or black dove, such as came to Dodona;—these were not to be cut through breast and backbone! Why? Why, indeed, any of this butchery and wringing of necks? Not wholly, perhaps, for Abram’s amusement, or God’s; like our coursing and pigeon-shooting;—but then, all the more earnestly one asks, why?

The Episcopal commentary tells you, (usefully this time) that the beasts were divided, because among all nations it was then the most solemn attestation of covenant to pass between halves of beasts. But the birds?

We are not sure, by the way, how far the cleaving might reach, without absolute division. Read Leviticus i., 15 to 17, and v., 6 to 10. ‘You have nothing to do with those matters,’ you think? I don’t say you have; but in my schools you must know your Bible, and the meaning of it, or want of meaning, at [149]least a little more definitely than you do now, before I let you throw the book away for ever. So have patience with it a little while; for indeed until you know something of this Bible, I can’t go on to teach you any Koran, much less any Dante or Shakspeare. Have patience, therefore,—and you will need, probably, more than you think; for I am sadly afraid that you don’t at present know so much as the difference between a burnt-offering and a sin-offering; nor between a sin-offering and a trespass-offering,—do you? (Lev. v. 15); so how can you possibly know anything about Abram’s doves, or afterwards about Ion’s,—not to speak of the Madonna’s? The whole story of the Ionic migration, and the carving of those Ionic capitals, which our architects don’t know how to draw to this day, is complicated with the tradition of the saving of Ion’s life by his recognition of a very small ‘trespass’—a servant’s momentary ‘blasphemy.’ Hearing it, he poured the wine he was about to drink out upon the ground. A dove, flying down from the temple cornice, dipped her beak in it, and died, for the wine had been poisoned by—his mother. But the meaning of all that myth is involved in this earlier and wilder mystery of the Mount of the Amorite.

On the slope of it, down to the vale of Eshcol, sat Abram, as the sun ripened its grapes through the glowing day; the shadows lengthening at last under the crags of Machpelah;—the golden light warm on Ephron’s field, [150]still Ephron’s, wild with wood. “And as the sun went down, an horror of great darkness fell upon Abram.”

Indigestion, most likely, thinks modern philosophy. Accelerated cerebration, with automatic conservation of psychic force, lucidly suggests Dr. Carpenter. Derangement of the sensori-motor processes, having certain relations of nextness, and behaviour uniformly depending on that nextness, condescendingly explains Professor Clifford.

Well, my scientific friends, if ever God does you the grace to give you experience of the sensations, either of horror, or darkness, even to the extent your books and you inflict them on my own tired soul, you will come out on the other side of that shadow with newer views on many subjects than have occurred yet to you,—novelty-hunters though you be.

“Behold, thy seed shall be strangers, in a land not theirs.” Again, the importunate question returns, ‘When was this written?’ But the really practical value of the passage for ourselves, is the definite statement, alike by the Greeks and Hebrews, of dream, as one of the states in which knowledge of the future may be distinctly given. The truth of this statement we must again determine for ourselves. Our dreams are partly in our power, by management of daily thought and food; partly, involuntary and accidental—very apt to run in contrary lines from those naturally to be expected of them; and [151]partly, (at least, so say all the Hebrew prophets, and all great Greek, Latin, and English thinkers,) prophetic. Whether what Moses, Homer, David, Daniel, the Evangelists and St. Paul, Dante, Chaucer, Shakspeare, and Bacon, think on this matter, or what the last-whelped little curly-tailed puppy of the Newington University thinks, is most likely to be true—judge as you will.

“In the fourth generation they shall come hither again, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”

What was the iniquity of the Amorites, think you, and what kind of people were they? Anything like ourselves? or wide-mouthed and goggle-eyed,—terrifically stalking above the vineyard stakes of Eshcol? If like us, in any wise, is it possible that we also may be committing iniquity, capable of less and more fulness, through such a space as four hundred years? Questions worth pausing at; and we will at least try to be a little clear-headed as to Amorite personality.

We habitually speak of the Holy Land as the Land of ‘Canaan.’ The ‘promised’ land was indeed that of Canaan, with others. But Israel never got it. They got only the Mount of the Amorites; for the promise was only to be perfected on condition of their perfect obedience. Therefore, I asked you to learn Genesis x. 15, and Genesis x. 16, separately. For all the Canaanites were left, to prove Israel, (Judges iii. 3,) and a good many of the Amorites and Jebusites too, (Judges iii. 5–7,) but in the main Israel subdued the last two races, and held the [152]hill country from Lebanon to Hebron, and the capital, Jerusalem, for their own. And if instead of ‘Amorites,’ you will read generally ‘Highlanders,’ (which the word means,) and think of them, for a beginning of notion, simply as Campbells and Macgregors of the East, getting themselves into relations with the pious Israelites closely resembling those of the Highland race and mind of Scotland with its evangelical and economical Lowlanders, you will read these parts of your Bible in at least an incipiently intelligent manner. And above all, you will, or may, understand that the Amorites had a great deal of good in them: that they and the Jebusites were on the whole a generous and courteous people,—so that, when Abram dwells with the Amorite princes, Mamre and Eshcol, they are faithful allies to him; and when he buys his grave from Ephron the Hittite, and David the threshing floor from Araunah the Jebusite, both of the mountaineers behave just as the proudest and truest Highland chief would. ‘What is that between me and thee?’ “All these things did Araunah, as a King, give unto the King—and Araunah said unto the King, The Lord thy God accept thee.” Not our God, you see;—but giving sadly, as the Sidonian widow begging,—with claim of no part in Israel.

‘Mere oriental formulæ,’ says the Cockney modern expositor—‘offers made in fore-knowledge that they would not be accepted.’

No, curly-tailed bow-wow; it is only you and other [153]such automatic poodles who are ‘formulæ.’ Automatic, by the way, you are not; we all know how to wind you up to run with a whirr, like toy-mice.

Well, now read consecutively, but quietly, Numbers xiii. 22–29, xxi. 13–26, Deuteronomy iii. 8–13, and Joshua x. 6–14, and you will get a notion or two, which with those already obtained you may best arrange as follows.

Put the Philistines, and giants, or bulls, of Bashan, out of the way at present; they are merely elements of physical malignant force, sent against Samson, Saul, and David, as a half-human shape of lion or bear,—carrying off the ark of God in their mouths, and not knowing in the least what to do with it. You already know Tyre as the trading power, Ethiopia as the ignorant—Egypt as the wise—slave; then the Amorites, among the children of Ham, correspond to the great mountain and pastoral powers of the Shemites; and are far the noblest and purest of the race: abiding in their own fastnesses, desiring no conquest, but as Sihon, admitting no invader;—holding their crags so that nothing can be taken out of the hand of the Amorite but with the sword and bow, (Gen. xlviii. 22;) yet living chiefly by pasture and agriculture; worshipping, in their early dynasties, the one eternal God; and, in the person of their great high priest, Melchizedec, but a few years before this vision, blessing the father of the faithful, and feeding him with the everlasting sacraments of earth,—bread and wine,—in [154]the level valley of the Kings, under Salem, the city of peace.

Truly, ‘the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full.’

I have given you enough to think of, for this time; but you can’t work it out rightly without a clearly intelligible map of Palestine, and raised models of the districts of Hebron and Jerusalem, which I will provide as soon as possible, according to St. George’s notions of what such things should be, for the Sheffield museum: to the end that at least, in that district of the Yorkshire Amorites, singularly like the Holy Land in its level summits and cleft defiles, it may be understood what England also had once to bring forth of blessing in her own vales of peace; and how her gathering iniquity may bring upon her,—(and at this instant, as I write, early on Good Friday, the malignant hail of spring time, slaying blossom and leaf, smites rattling on the ground that should be soft with flowers,) such day of ruin as the great hail darkened in the going down to Beth-horon, and the sun, that had bronzed their corn and flushed their grape, prolonged on Ajalon, implacable.

“And it came to pass, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold, a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp which passed between those pieces.”

What a lovely vision, half of it, at any rate, to the eye of modern progress! Foretelling, doubtless, smoking furnaces, and general civilization, in this Amorite land of barbarous vines and fig-trees! Yes—my progressive [155]friends. That was precisely what the vision did foretell,—in the first half of it; and not very many summer mornings afterwards, Abram going out for his walk in the dew round his farm,1 saw its fulfilment in quite literal terms, on the horizon. (Gen. xix. 28.) The smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. But what do you make of the other part of the night-vision? Striking of oil? and sale of numerous patent lamps? But Abram never did strike any oil—except olive, which could only be had on the usual terms of laborious beating and grinding, and in moderate quantities. What do you make of the second half of the vision?

Only a minute part of its infinite prophecy was fulfilled in those flames of the Paradise of Lot. For the two fires were the sign of the presence of the Person who accepted the covenant, in passing between the pieces of the victim. And they shone, therefore, for the signature of His Name; that name which we [156]pray may be hallowed; and for what that name entirely means;—‘the Lord, merciful and gracious,—and that will by no means clear the guilty.’

For as on the one side He is like a refiner’s fire, so that none may abide the day of His coming,—so on the other He is the Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. And all the pain of grief and punishment, temporal or eternal, following on the broken covenant; and all the sweet guidance of the lamp to the feet and the light to the path, granted to those who keep it, are meant by the passing of the darkened and undarkened flames.

Finish now the learning this whole chapter accurately, and when you come to the eighteenth verse, note how much larger the promised land was, than we usually imagine it; and what different manner of possession the Israelites got of its borders, by the waters of Babylon, and rivers of Egypt, (compare Jeremiah xxxix. 9, with xliii. 6 and 7) than they might have had, if they had pleased.

And now, when you have got well into your heads that the Holy Land is, broadly, the mountain or highland of the Amorites, (compare Deut. i. 7, 20, 44, Numbers xiii. 29,) look to the verse which you have probably quoted often, “Behold upon the mountains the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings,”—without ever asking what mountains, or what tidings. The mountains are these Amorite crags, and the tidings are of the last destruction of the Hamite power, in the other three great brethren, [157]Cush, Mizraim, and Phut. Read your Nahum through slowly; and learn the eighth and ninth verses of the third chapter, to be always remembered as the completion of the fifteenth, which you know the first half of so well already—though I suppose you rarely go on to its practical close, “Oh Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows; for the wicked shall no more pass through thee”—this ‘passing,’ observe, being the ruinous war of the bitter and hasty nation, (compare Habakkuk i. 6–8, with the last verse of Nahum,) which spiritually is the type of all ruinous and violent passion, such as now passes continually to and fro in this English land of ours.

Three magnified spirals.

I am not much in a humour to examine further to-day the passing of its slower molluscous Assyrians; but may at least affirm what I believe at last to be the sure conclusion of my young hunter of Arundel; that the spiral of the shell uniformly increases its coil, from birth to maturity. Here are examples of the minute species, sent me by Mr. Sillar, in three stages of growth; the little black spots giving them in their natural size (with much economic skill of Mr. Burgess’ touch). The [158]three magnified spirals you may as well copy, and find out how many these little creatures may have. I had taken them for the young of the common snail when I wrote last; but we will have all our facts clear some day, both concerning bees, and slugs, and the larger creatures, industrious or lazy, whom they are meant to teach.

But I want to finish my letter for this time with a word or two more of my Scottish Amorite aunt, after she was brought down into Lowland life by her practical tanner. She, a pure dark-eyed dove-priestess, if ever there was one, of Highland Dodona.2 Strangely, the kitchen servant-of-all-work in the house at Rose Terrace was a very old “Mause” who might well have been the prototype of the Mause of ‘Old Mortality,’3 but had even [159]a more solemn, fearless, and patient faith, fastened in her by extreme suffering; for she had been nearly starved to death when she was a girl, and had literally picked the bones out of cast-out dust-heaps to gnaw; and ever afterwards, to see the waste of an atom of food was as shocking to her as blasphemy. “Oh, Miss Margaret!” she said once to my mother, who had shaken some crumbs off a dirty plate out of the window, “I had rather you had knocked me down.” She would make her dinner upon anything in the house that the other servants wouldn’t eat;—often upon potato skins, giving her own dinner away to any poor person she saw; and would always stand during the whole church service, (though at least seventy years old when I knew her, and very feeble,) if she could persuade any wild Amorite out of the streets to take her seat. Her wrinkled and worn face, moveless in resolution, and patience; incapable of smile, and knit sometimes perhaps too severely against Jessie and me, if we wanted more creamy milk to our porridge, or jumped off our favourite box on Sunday,—(‘Never mind, John,’ said Jessie to me, once, seeing me in an unchristian state of provocation on this subject, ‘when we’re married, we’ll jump off boxes all day long, if we like!’) may have been partly instrumental in giving me that slight bias against the Evangelical religion which I confess to be sometimes traceable in my later works: but I never can be thankful enough for having seen, in her, the Scottish Puritan spirit in its perfect faith and force; and been enabled therefore [160]afterwards to trace its agency in the reforming policy of Scotland with the reverence and honour it deserves.

My aunt was of a far gentler temper, but still, to me, remained at a wistful distance. She had been much saddened by the loss of three of her children, before her husband’s death. Little Peter, especially, had been the corner-stone of her love’s building; and it was thrown down swiftly:—white-swelling came in the knee; he suffered much; and grew weaker gradually, dutiful always, and loving, and wholly patient. She wanted him one day to take half a glass of port wine,—and took him on her knee, and put it to his lips. ‘Not now, mamma;—in a minute,’ said he; and put his head on her shoulder, and gave one long, low sigh, and died. Then there was Catherine; and—I forget the other little daughter’s name. I did not see them; my mother told me of them;—eagerly always about Catherine, who had been her own favourite. My aunt had been talking earnestly one day with her husband about these two children; planning this and that for their schooling and what not: at night, for a little while she could not sleep; and as she lay thinking, she saw the door of the room open; and two spades come into it, and stand at the foot of her bed. Both the children were dead within brief time afterwards. I was about to write ‘within a fortnight’—but I cannot be sure of remembering my mother’s words accurately.

But when I was in Perth, there were still—Mary, her eldest daughter, who looked after us children when Mause [161]was too busy,—James and John, William and Andrew; (I can’t think whom the unapostolic William was named after; he became afterwards a good physician in London, and Tunbridge Wells; his death, last year, is counted among the others that I have spoken of as recently leaving me very lonely). But the boys were then all at school or college,—the scholars, William and Andrew, only came home to tease Jessie and me, and eat the biggest jargonel pears; the collegians were wholly abstract; and the two girls and I played in our quiet ways on the North-inch, and by the ‘Lead,’ a stream, ‘led’ from the Tay past Rose Terrace, into the town for molinary purposes; and long ago, I suppose, bricked over, or choked with rubbish; but then lovely, and a perpetual treasure of flowing diamond to us children. Mary, by the way, was nearly fourteen—fair, blue-eyed, and moderately pretty; and as pious as Jessie, without being quite so zealous. And I scarcely know if those far years of summer sunshine were dreams, or if this horror of darkness is one, to-day, at St. Albans, where, driven out of the abbey, unable to bear the sight of its restorations, and out of the churchyard, where I would fain have stayed to draw, by the black plague-wind, I take refuge from all in an old apple-woman’s shop, because she reminds me of my Croydon Amorite aunt,—and her little window of the one in the parlour beside the shop in Market Street. She sells comic songs as well as apples. I invest a penny in ‘The Union Jack,’ and find, in the course [162]of conversation, that the result of our unlimited national prosperity upon her, is, that where she used to take twopence from one customer, she now takes five farthings from five,—that her rates are twelve shillings instead of six,—that she is very tired of it all, and hopes God will soon take her to heaven.

I have been a little obscure in direction about the Egyptian asterisk in last Fors. The circle in the middle is to be left solid; the rays round are to be cut quite shallow; not in deep furrows, as in wood, but like rising, sharp, cliff-edged harbours with flat bottoms of sand; as little of the hard rock being cut away as may be.

The Etrurian Leucothea has come at last; but please let my readers observe that my signature to it means only that it will answer our purpose, not that it is a good print, for Mr. Parker’s agent is a ‘Grober Baur,’ and will keep neither time nor troth in impressions. Farther, I have now put into Mr. Ward’s hands a photograph from a practice-sketch of my own at Oxford, in pure lead pencil, on grey paper secured with ink on the outlines, and touched with white on the lights. It is of a stuffed Kingfisher,—(one can’t see a live one in England nowadays,) and done at full speed of hand; aid it is to be copied for a balance practice to the slow spiral lines. [163]


I. Affairs of the Company.

I have given leave to two of our Companions to begin work on the twenty acres of ground in Worcestershire, given us by Mr. George Baker, our second donor of land; (it was all my fault that he wasn’t the first). The ground is in copsewood; but good for fruit trees; and shall be cleared and brought into bearing as soon as the two Companions can manage it. We shall now see what we are good for, working as backwoods-men, but in our own England.

I am in treaty for more land round our Sheffield museum; and have sent down to it, for a beginning of the mineralogical collection, the agates on which I lectured in February at the London Institution. This lecture I am printing, as fast as I can, for the third number of ‘Deucalion;’ but I find no scientific persons who care to answer me any single question I ask them about agates; and I have to work all out myself; and little hitches and twitches come, in what one wants to say in print. And the days go.

Subscriptions since March 14th to April 16th. I must give names, now; having finally resolved to have no secrets in our Company,—except those which must be eternally secret to certain kinds of persons, who can’t understand either our thoughts or ways:— [164]

£ s. d.
March. F. D. Drewitt (tithe of a first earning) 1 4 1
Miss M. Guest 2 2 0
April. James Burdon (tithe of wages) 2 10 0
Wm. B. Graham (gift) 1 0 0
Anonymous (post stamp, Birkenhead) 1 10 0
£8 6 1

II. Affairs of the Master.

£ s. d.
March 16. Balance 1471 8 11
21. Miss O. Hill, 1½ year’s rent on Marylebone Freehold 90 5 0
28. R. Forsyth (tea-shop) 54 0 0
April 7. Dividend on £7000 Bank Stock 315 0 0
8. Petty cash (Dividends on small shares in Building Societies and the like) 25 3 3
1956 6 4
March 21. Jackson £50 0 0
22. Self4 100 0 0
23. Warren and Jones 56 16 3
25, and April 7. Crawley 40 0 0
April 1. Secretary 25 0 0
1. Downs 25 0 0
2. Kate, (and 11th April) 45 0 0
6. Burgess 50 0 0
6. David 53 0 0
444 16 3
Balance, April 16. £1511 10 1

III. I have promised an answer this month to the following pretty little letter; and will try to answer fully, though I must go over ground crossed often enough before. But it is often well to repeat things in other times and words:— [165]

“Sir,—Being very much interested in the St. George’s Society, we venture to write and ask you if you will be so kind as to send us the rules, as, even if we could not join it, we should so like to try and keep them. We hope you will excuse our troubling you, but we do not know how else to obtain the rules.

We remain, yours truly.”

My dear children, the rules of St. George’s Company are none other than those which at your baptism your godfather and godmother promised to see that you should obey—namely, the rules of conduct given to all His disciples by Christ, so far as, according to your ages, you can understand or practise them. But the Christian religion being now mostly obsolete, (and worse, falsely professed) throughout Europe, your godfather, and godmother, too probably, had no very clear notion of the Devil or his works, when they promised you should renounce them; and St. George hereby sends you a splinter of his lance, in token that you will find extreme difficulty in putting any of Christ’s wishes into practice, under the present basilisk power of society.

Nevertheless, St. George’s first order to you, supposing you were put under his charge, would be that you should always, in whatever you do, endeavour to please Christ; (and He is quite easily pleased if you try;) but in attempting this, you will instantly find yourself likely to displease many of your friends or relations; and St. George’s second order to you is that in whatever you do, you consider what is kind and dutiful to them also, and that you hold it for a sure rule that no manner of disobedience to your parents, or of disrespect and presumption towards your friends, can be pleasing to God. You must therefore be doubly submissive; first in your own will and purpose to the law of Christ; then in the carrying [166]out of your purpose, to the pleasure and orders of the persons whom He has given you for superiors. And you are not to submit to them sullenly, but joyfully and heartily, keeping nevertheless your own purpose clear, so soon as it becomes proper for you to carry it out.

Under these conditions, here are a few of St. George’s orders for you to begin with:—

1st. Keep absolute calm of temper, under all chances; receiving everything that is provoking and disagreeable to you as coming directly from Christ’s hand: and the more it is like to provoke you, thank Him for it the more; as a young soldier would his general for trusting him with a hard place to hold on the rampart. And remember, it does not in the least matter what happens to you,—whether a clumsy schoolfellow tears your dress, or a shrewd one laughs at you, or the governess doesn’t understand you. The one thing needful is that none of these things should vex you. For your mind is at this time of your youth crystallizing like sugar-candy; and the least jar to it flaws the crystal, and that permanently.

2nd. Say to yourselves every morning, just after your prayers: “Whoso forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be my disciple.” That is exactly and completely true: meaning that you are to give all you have to Christ to take care of for you. Then if He doesn’t take care of it, of course you know it wasn’t worth anything. And if He takes anything from you, you know you are better without it. You will not indeed, at your age, have to give up houses, or lands, or boats, or nets; but you may perhaps break your favourite teacup, or lose your favourite thimble, and might be vexed about it, but for this second St. George’s precept.

3rd. What, after this surrender, you find entrusted to you, take extreme care of, and make as useful as possible. The greater part of all they have is usually given to grown-up people [167]by Christ, merely that they may give it away again: but schoolgirls, for the most part, are likely to have little more than what is needed for themselves: of which, whether books, dresses, or pretty room furniture, you are to take extreme care, looking on yourself, indeed, practically, as a little housemaid set to keep Christ’s books and room in order, and not as yourself the mistress of anything.

4th. Dress as plainly as your parents will allow you: but in bright colours, (if they become you,) and in the best materials,—that is to say, in those which will wear longest. When you are really in want of a new dress, buy it, (or make it) in the fashion: but never quit an old one merely because it has become unfashionable. And if the fashion be costly, you must not follow it. You may wear broad stripes or narrow, bright colours or dark, short petticoats or long, (in moderation,) as the public wish you; but you must not buy yards of useless stuff to make a knot or a flounce of, nor drag them behind you over the ground. And your walking dress must never touch the ground at all. I have lost much of the faith I once had in the common sense and even in the personal delicacy of the present race of average English women, by seeing how they will allow their dresses to sweep the streets, if it is the fashion to be scavengers.

5th. If you can afford it, get your dresses made by a good dressmaker, with utmost attainable precision and perfection: but let this good dressmaker be a poor person, living in the country; not a rich person living in a large house in London. ‘There are no good dressmakers in the country.’ No: but there soon will be if you obey St. George’s orders, which are very strict indeed, about never buying dresses in London. ‘You bought one there, the other day, for your own pet!’ Yes; but that was because she was a wild Amorite, who had wild Amorites to please; not a Companion of St. George.

6th. Learn dressmaking yourself, with pains and time; and [168]use a part of every day in needlework, making as pretty dresses as you can for poor people who have not time nor taste to make them nicely for themselves. You are to show them in your own wearing what is most right, and graceful; and to help them to choose what will be prettiest and most becoming in their own station. If they see that you never try to dress above your’s, they will not try to dress above their’s. Read the little scene between Miss Somers and Simple Susan, in the draper’s shop, in Miss Edgeworth’s Parent’s Assistant; and by the way, if you have not that book, let it be the next birthday present you ask papa or uncle for.

7th. Never seek for amusement, but be always ready to be amused. The least thing has play in it—the slightest word, wit, when your hands are busy and your heart is free. But if you make the aim of your life amusement, the day will come when all the agonies of a pantomime will not bring you an honest laugh. Play actively and gaily; and cherish, without straining, the natural powers of jest in others and yourselves;—remembering all the while that your hand is every instant on the helm of the ship of your life, and that the Master, on the far shore of Araby the blest, looks for its sail on the horizon,—to its hour.

I can’t tell you more till next letter.

IV. Extract from a letter of one of my own girl-pupils and charges:—

“What is to be done with town children? Do you remember going with me to see Mrs. G——, our old servant? She has died since, and left two children for us to love and care for, for her. The elder, Louie, is thirteen; unusually intelligent and refined; I was helping her last night in her work for an examination. She had Tennyson’s ‘Dora’ to learn by heart, and said it beautifully, with so much spirit,—and then, [169]asked me what the harvest was. She said she had such a vague idea about it, she shouldn’t know how to explain it, if the Inspector asked her.

“I am just going to take her down to the picture gallery, to give her a geography lesson on moors and lakes, etc., which is the best I can do for her here; but isn’t that dreadful?

“Much love, dear Godfather,
“Ever your loving Godchild.”

V. I accept the offer of subjoined letter thankfully. Our Companion, Mr. Rydings, is henceforward to be answerable for our arithmetic; and all sums below fifty pounds are to be sent to him, not to me.

“My dear Master,—At page 129, April ‘Fors’ Subscription List, bottom of page 129, balance in hand £106 16s. 5d., should be £107 16s. 5d.

“Yours, ever truly,
Egbert Rydings.

“P.S.—Would it be possible to have these items checked before being printed? I should feel it a pleasure if I could be of use.”


Handwritten note: May the Almighty give us success over these fellows and enable us to get a Peace


1 Abram’s mountain home seems to have been much like Horace’s, as far as I can make out: but see accounts of modern travellers. Our translation “in the plain of Mamre” (Genesis xiii. 28; xiv. 13) is clearly absurd; the gist of the separation between Lot and Abram being Lot’s choice of the plain, as ‘the Paradise of God,’ and Abram’s taking the rock ground. The Vulgate says ‘in the ravine’ of Mamre; the Septuagint, ‘by the oak.’ I doubt not the Hebrew is meant to carry both senses, as of a rocky Vallombrosa; the Amorites at that time knew how to keep their rain, and guide their springs. Compare the petition of Caleb’s daughter when she is married, after being brought up on this very farm, Joshua xv. 17, 18; comparing also xiv. 14, 15, and of the hill country generally, xvi. 15, and Deut. xi. 10–12, 17. 

2 I need scarcely desire the reader to correct the misprint of ‘maternal’ for ‘paternal’ in line 14 of p. 90 in Fors of March. In last Fors, please put the i into ‘material’ in p. 112, line 16, and a comma before and after ‘there’ in p. 113, line 8. 

3 Vulgar modern Puritanism has shown its degeneracy in nothing more than in its incapability of understanding Scott’s exquisitely finished portraits of the Covenanter. In ‘Old Mortality’ alone, there are four which cannot be surpassed; the typical one, Elizabeth, faultlessly sublime and pure; the second, Ephraim Macbriar, giving the too common phase of the character, which is touched with ascetic insanity; the third, Mause, coloured and made sometimes ludicrous by Scottish conceit, but utterly strong and pure at heart; the last, Balfour, a study of supreme interest, showing the effect of the Puritan faith, sincerely held, on a naturally and incurably cruel and base spirit. His last battle-cry—“Down with the Amorites,” the chief Amorite being Lord Evandale, is intensely illustrative of all I have asked you to learn to-day. Add to these four studies, from this single novel, those in the ‘Heart of Midlothian,’ and Nicol Jarvie and Andrew Fairservice from ‘Rob Roy,’ and you have a series of theological analyses far beyond those of any other philosophical work that I know, of any period. 

4 For accounts in London, to save drawing small cheques. I have not room for detail this month, the general correspondence being lengthy. 


[All Signed Petitions against Rydal Railway to be sent immediately to me at Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire.]


Those of my readers who have followed me as far as I have hitherto gone in our careful reading of the Pentateuch, must, I think, have felt with me, in natural consequence of this careful reading, more than hitherto, the life and reality of the record; but, in the degree of this new life, new wonderfulness, and difficult credibility! For it is always easy to imagine that we believe what we do not understand; and often graceful and convenient to consent in the belief of others, as to what we do not care about. But when we begin to know clearly what is told, the question if it be fable or fact becomes inevitable in our minds; and if the fact, once admitted, would bear upon our conduct, its admission can no longer be made a matter of mere social courtesy.

Accordingly, I find one of my more earnest readers [172]already asking me, privately, if I really believed that the hail on Good Friday last had been sent as a punishment for national sin?—and I should think, and even hope, that other of my readers would like to ask me, respecting the same passage, whether I believed that the sun ever stood still?

To whom I could only answer, what I answered some time since in my paper on Miracle for the Metaphysical Society, (‘Contemporary Review’) that the true miracle, to my mind, would not be in the sun’s standing still, but IS in its going on! We are all of us being swept down to death in a sea of miracle; we are drowned in wonder, as gnats in a Rhine whirlpool: unless we are worse,—drowned in pleasure, or sloth, or insolence.

Nevertheless, I do not feel myself in the least called upon to believe that the sun stood still, or the earth either, during that pursuit at Ajalon. Nay, it would not anywise amaze me to find that there never had been any such pursuit—never any Joshua, never any Moses; and that the Jews, “taken generally,” as an amiable clerical friend told me from his pulpit a Sunday or two ago, “were a Christian people.”

But it does amaze me—almost to helplessness of hand and thought—to find the men and women of these days careless of such issue; and content, so that they can feed and breathe their fill, to eat like cattle, and breathe like plants, questionless of the Spirit that makes the grass to grow for them on the mountains, or the [173]breeze they breathe on them, its messengers, or the fire that dresses their food, its minister. Desolate souls, for whom the sun—beneath, not above, the horizon—stands still for ever.

‘Amazed,’ I say, ‘almost to helplessness of hand and thought’—quite literally of both. I was reading yesterday, by Fors’ order, Mr. Edward B. Tylor’s idea of the Greek faith in Apollo: “If the sun travels along its course like a glittering chariot, forthwith the wheels, and the driver, and the horses are there;”1 and Mr. Frederick Harrison’s gushing article on Humanity, in the ‘Contemporary Review’; and a letter about our Cotton Industry, (hereafter to be quoted,2) and this presently following bit of Sir Philip Sidney’s 68th Psalm;—and my hands are cold this morning, after the horror, and wonder, and puzzlement of my total Sun-less-day, and my head is now standing still, or at least turning round, giddy, instead of doing its work by Shrewsbury clock; and I don’t know where to begin with the quantity I want to say,—all the less that I’ve said a great deal of it before, if I only knew where to tell you to find it. All up and down my later books, from ‘Unto This Last’ to ‘Eagle’s Nest,’ and again and again throughout ‘Fors,’ [174]you will find references to the practical connection between physical and spiritual light—of which now I would fain state, in the most unmistakable terms, this sum: that you cannot love the real sun, that is to say physical light and colour, rightly, unless you love the spiritual sun, that is to say justice and truth, rightly. That for unjust and untrue persons, there is no real joy in physical light, so that they don’t even know what the word means. That the entire system of modern life is so corrupted with the ghastliest forms of injustice and untruth, carried to the point of not recognising themselves as either—for as long as Bill Sykes knows that he is a robber, and Jeremy Diddler that he is a rascal, there is still some of Heaven’s light left for both—but when everybody steals, cheats, and goes to church, complacently, and the light of their whole body is darkness, how great is that darkness! And that the physical result of that mental vileness is a total carelessness of the beauty of sky, or the cleanness of streams, or the life of animals and flowers: and I believe that the powers of Nature are depressed or perverted, together with the Spirit of Man; and therefore that conditions of storm and of physical darkness, such as never were before in Christian times, are developing themselves, in connection also with forms of loathsome insanity, multiplying through the whole genesis of modern brains.

As I correct this sheet for press, I chance, by Fors’ [175]order, in a prayer of St. John Damascene’s to the Virgin, on this, to me, very curious and interesting clause: “Redeem me from the dark metamorphosis of the angels, rescuing me from the bitter law-giving of the farmers of the air, and the rulers of the darkness.”

τῆς σκοτεινῆς με τῶν διαμόνων λυτρου μέτημορφῆς, (I am not answerable either for Damascene Greek, or for my MS. of it, in 1396,) τοῦ πικροτάτου λογοθεσίου τῶν τελωνῶν τοῦ ἀέρος καὶ τῶν ἀρχόντων τοῦ σκότους ἐξαίρουσα.”

And now—of this entangling in the shrine of half born and half-sighted things, see this piece of Sir Philip Sidney’s psalm. I want it also for the bit of conchology at the end. The italics are mine.

“And call ye this to utter what is just,

You that of justice hold the sov’raign throne?

And call yee this to yield, O sonnes of dust,

To wronged brethren ev’ry one his own?

O no: it is your long malicious will

Now to the world to make by practice known,

With whose oppression you the ballance fill,

Just to your selves, indiff’rent else to none.

But what could they, who ev’n in birth declin’d,

From truth and right to lies and injuries?

To shew the venom of their cancred mynd

The adder’s image scarcely can suffice. [176]

Nay, scarce the aspick may with them contend,

On whom the charmer all in vaine applies

His skillful’st spells: aye, missing of his end,

While shee self-deaf, and unaffected lies.

Lord, crack their teeth, Lord, crush Thou these lions’ jawes,

Soe lett them sinck as water in the sand:

When deadly bow their aiming fury drawes,

Shiver the shaft, ere past the shooter’s hand.

So make them melt as the dishowsed snaile,

Or as the embrio, whose vitall band

Breakes ere it holdes, and formlesse eyes doe faile

To see the sun, though brought to lightfull land.”

Dishoused’ snail! That’s a bit, observe, of Sir Philip’s own natural history, perfecting the image in the psalm, “as a snail which melteth.” The ‘housed’ snail can shelter himself from evil weather, but the poor houseless slug, a mere slimy mass of helpless blackness,—shower-begotten, as it seems,—what is to become of it when the sun is up!

Not that even houseless snails melt,—nor that there’s anything about snails at all in David’s psalm, I believe, both Vulgate and LXX. saying ‘wax’ instead, as in Psalms lxviii. 2, xcvii. 5, etc.; but I suppose there’s some reptilian sense in the Hebrew, justifying our translation here—all the more interesting to me [177]because of a puzzle I got into in Isaiah, the other day; respecting which, lest you should fancy I’m too ready to give up Joshua and the sun without taking trouble about them, please observe this very certain condition of your Scriptural studies: that if you read the Bible with predetermination to pick out every text you approve of—that is to say, generally, any that confirm you in the conceit of your own religious sect,—that console you for the consequences of your own faults,—or assure you of a pleasant future though you attend to none of your present duties—on these terms you will find the Bible entirely intelligible, and wholly delightful: but if you read it with a real purpose of trying to understand it, and obey; and so read it all through, steadily, you will find it, out and out, the crabbedest and most difficult book you ever tried; horribly ill written in many parts, according to all human canons; totally unintelligible in others; and with the gold of it only to be got at by a process of crushing in which nothing but the iron teeth of the fiercest and honestest resolution will prevail against its adamant.

For instance, take the 16th of Isaiah. Who is to send the Lamb? why is the Lamb to be sent? what does the Lamb mean? There is nothing in the Greek Bible about a Lamb at all, nor is anybody told to send anything. But God says He will send something, apostolically, as reptiles!

Then, are the daughters of Moab the outcasts, as [178]in the second verse, or other people, as in the fourth? How is Moab’s throne to be established in righteousness, in the tabernacle of David, in the fifth? What are his lies not to be, in the sixth? And why is he to howl for himself, in the seventh? Ask any of the young jackanapes you put up to chatter out of your pulpits, to tell you even so much as this, of the first half-dozen verses! But above all, ask them who the persons are who are to be sent apostolically as reptiles?

Meanwhile, on the way to answer, I’ve got a letter,3 not from a jackanapes, but a thoroughly learned and modest clergyman, and old friend, advising me of my mistake in April Fors, in supposing that Rahab, in the 89th Psalm, means the harlot. It is, he tells me, a Hebrew word for the Dragon adversary, as in the verse “He hath cut Rahab, and wounded the Dragon.” That will come all the clearer and prettier for us, when we have worked it out, with Rahab herself and all; meantime, please observe what a busy creature she must have been—the stalks of her flax in heaps enough to hide the messengers! doubtless also, she was able to dye her thread of the brightest scarlet, a becoming colour.4

Well, I can’t get that paper of Mr. Frederick Harrison’s out of my head; chiefly because I know and like its writer; and I don’t like his wasting his time in writing [179]that sort of stuff. What I have got to say to him, anent it, may better be said publicly, because I must write it carefully, and with some fulness; and if he won’t attend to me, perhaps some of his readers may. So I consider him, for the time, as one of my acquaintances among working men, and dedicate the close of this letter to him specially.

My dear Harrison,—I am very glad you have been enjoying yourself at Oxford; and that you still think it a pretty place. But why, in the name of all that’s developing, did you walk in those wretched old Magdalen walks? They’re as dull as they were thirty years ago. Why didn’t you promenade in our new street, opposite Mr. Ryman’s? or under the rapturous sanctities of Keble? or beneath the lively new zigzag parapet of Tom Quad?—or, finally, in the name of all that’s human and progressive, why not up and down the elongating suburb of the married Fellows, on the cock-horse road to Banbury?

However, I’m glad you’ve been at the old place; even though you wasted the bloom of your holiday-spirits in casting your eyes, in that too childish and pastoral manner, “round this sweet landscape, with its myriad blossoms and foliage, its meadows in their golden glory,” etc.; and declaring that all you want other people to do is to “follow out in its concrete results this sense of collective evolution.” Will you only be patient enough, for the help of this old head of mine [180]on stooping shoulders, to tell me one or two of the inconcrete results of separate evolution?

Had you done me the honour to walk through my beautifully developing schools, you would have found, just outside of them, (turned out because I’m tired of seeing it, and want something progressive) the cast of the Elgin Theseus. I am tired thereof, it is true; but I don’t yet see my way, as a Professor of Modern Art, to the superseding it. On the whole, it appears to me a very satisfactory type of the human form; arrived at, as you know, two thousand and two hundred years ago. And you tell me, nevertheless, to “see how this transcendent power of collective evolution holds me in the hollow of its hand!” Well, I hope I am handsomer than the Theseus; it’s very pleasant to think so, but it did not strike me before. May I flatter myself it is really your candid opinion? Will you just look at the “Realization of the (your?) Ideal,” in the number of ‘Vanity Fair’ for February 17th, 1872, and confirm me on this point?

Granting whatever advance in the ideal of humanity you thus conclude, I still am doubtful of your next reflection. “But these flowers and plants which we can see between the cloisters, and trellised round the grey traceries—” (My dear boy, what have you to do with cloisters or traceries? Leave that business to the jackdaws; their loquacious and undeveloped praise is enough for such relics of the barbarous past. You don’t want [181]to shut yourself up, do you? and you couldn’t design a tracery, for your life; and you don’t know a good one from a bad one: what in the name of common sense or common modesty do you mean by chattering about these?) “What races of men in China, Japan, India, Mexico, South America, Australasia, first developed their glory out of some wild bloom?” Frankly, I don’t know—being in this no wiser than you; but also I don’t care: and in this carelessness am wiser than you, because I do know this—that if you will look into the Etruscan room of the British Museum, you will find there an Etruscan Demeter of—any time you please—B.C., riding on a car whose wheels are of wild roses: that the wild rose of her time is thus proved to be precisely the wild rose of my time, growing behind my study on the hillside; and for my own part, I would not give a spray of it for all Australasia, South America, and Japan together. Perhaps, indeed, apples have improved since the Hesperides’ time; but I know they haven’t improved since I was a boy, and I can’t get a Ribston Pippin, now, for love or money.

Of Pippins in Devonshire, of cheese in Cheshire, believe me, my good friend,—though I trust much more than you in the glorified future of both,—you will find no development in the present scientific day;—of Asphodel none; of Apples none demonstrable; but of Eves? From the ductile and silent gold of ancient womanhood to the resonant bronze, and tinkling—not cymbal, but [182]shall we say—saucepan, of Miss Frances Power Cobbe, there is an interval, with a vengeance; widening to the future. You yourself, I perceive, have no clear insight into this solidified dispersion of the lingering pillar of Salt, which had been good for hospitality in its day; and which yet would have some honour in its descendant, the poor gleaning Moabitess, into your modern windily progressive pillar of Sand, with “career open to it” indeed other than that of wife and mother—good for nothing, at last, but burial heaps. But are you indeed so proud of what has been already achieved? I will take you on your own terms, and study only the evolution of the Amazonian Virgin. Take first the ancient type of her, leading the lucent Cobbes of her day, ‘florentes aere catervas.’

“Bellatrix. Non illa colo, calathisve Minervae

Foemineas assueta manus.

Illam omnis tectis agrisqu’ effusa juventus

Turbaque miratur matrum; et prospectat euntem.

Attonitis inhians animis: ut regius ostro

Velet honos leves humeros; ut fibula crinem

Auro internectat; Lyciam ut gerat ipsa pharetram

Et pastoralem praefixa cuspide myrtum.”

With this picture, will you compare that so opportunely furnished me by the author of the ‘Angel in the House,’5 of the modern Camilla, in “white [183]bodice, purple knee-breeches, which she had borrowed from an Ethiopian serenader, red stockings, and shoes.” From this sphere of Ethiopian aspiration, may not even the divinely emancipated spirit of Cobbe cast one glance—“Backward, Ho”?

But suppose I grant your Evolution of the Japanese Rose, and the Virginian Virago, how of other creatures? of other things? I don’t find the advocates of Evolution much given to studying either men, women, or roses; I perceive them to be mostly occupied with frogs and lice. Is there a Worshipful Batrachianity—a Divine Pedicularity?—Stay, I see at page 874 that Pantheism is “muddled sentiment”; but it was you, my dear boy, who began the muddling with your Japanese horticulture. Your Humanity has no more to do with roses than with Rose-chafers or other vermin; but I must really beg you not to muddle your terms as well as your head. “We, who have thought and studied,” do not admit that “humanity is an aggregate of men.” An aggregate of men is a mob, and not ‘Humanity’; and an aggregate of sheep is a flock, and not Ovility; and an aggregate of geese is——perhaps you had better consult Mr. Herbert Spencer and the late Mr. John Stuart Mill for the best modern expression,—but if you want to know the proper names for aggregates, in good old English, go and read Lady Juliana’s list in the book of St. Albans.

I do not care, however, to pursue questions with you [184]of these ‘concrete developments.’ For, frankly, I conceive myself to know considerably more than you do, of organic Nature and her processes, and of organic English and its processes; but there is one development of which, since it is your special business to know it, and I suppose your pleasure, I hope you know much more than I do, (whose business I find by no means forwarded by it, still less my pleasure)—the Development of Law. For the concrete development of beautifully bewigged humanity, called a lawyer, I beg you to observe that I always express, and feel, extreme respect. But for Law itself, in the existent form of it, invented, as it appears to me, only for the torment and taxation of Humanity, I entertain none whatsoever. I may be wrong, and I don’t want to be wrong; and you, who know the law, can show me if I am wrong or not. Here, then, are four questions of quite vital importance to Humanity, which if you will answer to me positively, you will do more good than I have yet known done by Positivism.

1. What is ‘Usury’ as defined by existing Law?

2. Is Usury, as defined by existing law, an absolute term, such as Theft, or Adultery? and is a man therefore a Usurer who only commits Usury a little, as a man is an Adulterer who only commits Adultery a little?

3. Or is it a sin incapable of strict definition, or strictly retributive punishment; like ‘Cruelty’? and is a man criminal in proportion to the quantity of it he commits? [185]

4. If criminal in proportion to the quantity he commits, is the proper legal punishment in the direct ratio of the quantity, or inverse ratio of the quantity, as it is in the case of theft?

If you will answer these questions clearly, you will do more service to Humanity than by writing any quantity of papers either on its Collective Development or its Abstract being. I have not touched upon any of the more grave questions glanced at in your paper, because in your present Mercutial temper I cannot expect you to take cognizance of anything grave. With respect to such matters, I will “ask for you to-morrow,” not to-day. But here—to end my Fors with a piece of pure English,—are two little verses of Sir Philip’s, merry enough, in measure, to be set to a Fandango if you like. I may, perhaps, some time or other, ask you if you can apply them personally, in address to Mr. Comte. For the nonce I only ask you the above four plain questions of English law; and I adjure you, by the soul of every Comes reckoned up in unique Comte—by all that’s positive, all that’s progressive, all that’s spiral, all that’s conchoidal, and all that’s evolute—great Human Son of Holothurian Harries, answer me.

“Since imprisoned in my mother

Thou me feed’st, whom have I other

Held my stay, or made my song? [186]

Yea, when all me so misdeemed,

I to most a monster seemed

Yet in thee my hope was strong.

Yet of thee the thankful story

Filled my mouth: thy gratious glory

Was my ditty all the day.

Do not then, now age assaileth,

Courage, verdure, vertue faileth,

Do not leave me cast away.”

I have little space, as now too often, for any definite school work. My writing-lesson, this month, is a facsimile of the last words written by Nelson; in his cabin, with the allied fleets in sight, off Trafalgar. It is entirely fine in general structure and character.

Mr. Ward has now three, and will I hope soon have the fourth, of our series of lesson photographs, namely,—

  • 1. Madonna by Filippo Lippi.
  • 2. The Etruscan Leucothea.
  • 3. Madonna by Titian.
  • 4. Infanta Margaret, by Velasquez.

On these I shall lecture, as I have time, here and in the ‘Laws of Fésole;’ but, in preparation for all farther study, when you have got the four, put them beside each other, putting the Leucothea first, the Lippi second, and the others as numbered. [187]

Then, the first, the Leucothea, is entirely noble religious art, of the fifth or sixth century B.C., full of various meaning and mystery, of knowledges that are lost, feelings that have ceased, myths and symbols of the laws of life, only to be traced by those who know much both of life and death.

Technically, it is still in Egyptian bondage, but in course of swiftly progressive redemption.

The second is nobly religious work of the fifteenth century of Christ,—an example of the most perfect unison of religious myth with faithful realism of human nature yet produced in this world. The Etruscan traditions are preserved in it even to the tassels of the throne cushion: the pattern of these, and of the folds at the edge of the angel’s drapery, may be seen in the Etruscan tomb now central in the first compartment of the Egyptian gallery of the British Museum and the double cushion of that tomb is used, with absolute obedience to his tradition, by Jacopo della Quercia, in the tomb of Ilaria di Caretto.

The third represents the last phase of the noble religious art of the world, in which realization has become consummate; but all supernatural aspect is refused, and mythic teaching is given only in obedience to former tradition, but with no anxiety for its acceptance. Here is, for certain, a sweet Venetian peasant, with her child, and fruit from the market-boats of Mestre. The Ecce Agnus, topsy-turvy on the [188]finely perspectived scroll, may be deciphered by whoso list.

But the work itself is still sternly conscientious, severe, reverent, and faultless.

The fourth is an example of the highest reach of technical perfection yet reached in art; all effort and labour seeming to cease in the radiant peace and simplicity of consummated human power. But all belief in supernatural things, all hope of a future state, all effort to teach, and all desire to be taught have passed away from the artist’s mind. The Child and her Dog are to him equally real, equally royal, equally mortal. And the History of Art since it reached this phase—cannot be given in the present number of ‘Fors Clavigera.’ [189]


I. Affairs of the Company.

No. 50. G. £10 10s.

This is a subscription of five guineas for each year: this amount completes that sum (with the £15 15s. which appeared at p. 65, February Fors) for each of the five years.

The publication of the following letter, with its answer, will, I hope, not cause Mr. Tarrant any further displeasure. I have only in the outset to correct his statement that the payment of £10 14s. 11d. was on my behalf. It is simply payment to another lawyer. And my first statement was absolutely accurate; I never said Mr. Tarrant had himself taxed, but that he had been “employed in taxing”; I do not concern myself with more careful analysis, when the accounts are all in print. My accusation is against the ‘legal profession generally,’ not against a firm which I have chosen as an entirely trustworthy one, to be employed both in St. George’s business and my own.

Dear Mr. Ruskin,—I have the April ‘Fors,’ in which I see you have published our account of costs against you, amounting to £47 13s. 4d. The document was yours, and you had a perfect right to lay it before your readers, but you are the first client who has ever thought it necessary to put such a document of mine to such a use. I don’t know, however, that it will do me any injury, although the statement preceding it is somewhat inaccurate, [190]because our costs of the transfer of the Sheffield property were £26 15s. 11d., which included a payment of £10 14s. 11d. made on your behalf, leaving our costs at £16 1s., the other portion of the £47 13s. 4d. being costs relating to the constitution of the St. George’s Company, leaving altogether £29 14s. 11d. only payable to us beyond money paid on your account. It is hardly fair, therefore, to say that I employed myself in taxing the transfer of the property to nearly £50.

As to the charge for letters (the writing of which is really not brickmakers’ work), you must bear in mind that the entire of your matters had to be done by correspondence, for which you are fairly chargeable; and I cannot accuse myself of having written a single letter that was unnecessary.

As to the position of the St. George’s Company, it is not a legal company, if by that you mean a company recognized by law: it has neither the advantages nor disadvantages of companies incorporated in accordance with the provisions of the several Acts of Parliament relating to such matters. It is not a legal trust of a charitable nature, if by that term be meant a trust which is liable to the supervision or interference of the Charity Commissioners. It is a number of persons unincorporated, but associated for other purposes than that of gain. It is on a similar footing to such a society as that for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge. The Master will be personally responsible for the debts of the Company contracted by his order. If you desire to have a legal-Company, or the supervision of the Charity Commissioners, you must give way in many points which you have hitherto considered indispensable to your scheme. On the 29th February last we sent you a specimen of the form in which we proposed to draw up the memorandum for each Companion to subscribe. If you will return us this with any remarks upon it which may occur to you, we will at once have it engrossed, and send it you to be signed by all the Companions. [191]

We were expecting a call from you when you were in town some time since, and should have then have discussed this subject with you, and also the subject of the trust deed which will have to be executed by the Master of the Company.

We will act upon your suggestion, and forward the deed of the Sheffield property to Mr. Bagshawe. Shall I also send all the title deeds to him relating to the property? Tell me this.

Faithfully yours,
W. P. Tarrant.

Professor Ruskin,
Arthur Severn, Esq., Herne Hill, S.E.


Patterdale, 6th May, 1876

Dear Mr. Tarrant,—I was surprised and vexed by the opening of your letter of 25th April, showing that you had not in the least hitherto understood the scope or meaning of my present work. There is not the smallest unfriendliness in my publication of your account. No client ever had occasion to do it before, of course;—you never had a client before engaged in steady and lifelong contest with the existing principles of the Law, the Church, and the Army,—had you? The publication of your accounts of course can do you no harm, if they are fair; nor have, or had I, the slightest idea of their being otherwise. All accounts for St. George are to be printed: the senders-in must look to the consequences.

The delay in my returning your draft of the rules of Company is because every lawyer I speak to tells me of a new difficulty. The whole piece of business, you remember, arose from my request to you simply to secure a piece of ground to our trustees, which had been given us by Mr. Baker. Now I find at the last moment that neither Mr. Baker nor anybody else can give us a piece of land at all, but must sell it us.

Next, I want to know if this form, as you have drawn it up, [192]is approved by me, what are you going to do with it? What is the good of it? Will the writing of it in black letter make us a legal company, like a railway company, capable of holding land? Do the Charity Commissioners interfere with their business? or must we blow some people to bits or smash them into jelly, to prove our want of charity,—and get leave, therefore, to do what we like with our own?

Fix your minds, and Mr. Barber’s, on this one point—the grip of the land. If you can’t give us that, send us in your accounts, and let us be done with the matter. If you can, on the document as it stands, write it out on the rubbish your modern stationers call parchment, and do what you will with it, so.

I am really ashamed to give any farther account, just now, of the delays in our land work, or of little crosses and worries blocking my first attempt at practice. One of the men whom I thought I had ready for this Worcestershire land, being ordered, for trial, to do a little bit of rough work in Yorkshire that I might not torment Mr. Baker with his freshmanship, threw up the task at once, writing me a long letter of which one sentence was enough for me,—that “he would do his share, but no more.” These infernal notions of Equality and Independence are so rooted, now, even in the best men’s minds, that they don’t so much as know even what Obedience or Fellowship mean! Fancy one of Nelson’s or Lord Cochrane’s men retreating from his gun, with the avowed resolution to ‘do no more than his share’! However, I know there’s good in this man, and I doubt not he will repent, and break down no more; but I shall not try him again for a year. And I must be forgiven my St. George’s accounts this month. I really can’t let the orchises and hyacinths go out of flower while I’m trying to cast sums; and I’ve been two whole days at work on the [193]purple marsh orchis alone, which my botanical readers will please observe is in St. George’s schools to be called ‘Porphyria veris,’ ‘Spring Purplet.’ It is, I believe, Ophelia’s “long purple.” There are a quantity of new names to be invented for the whole tribe, their present ones being not by St. George endurable.

The subjoined letter gives me great pleasure: it is from a son of my earliest Oxford friend: who, as his father helped me in educating myself, is now helping me in the education of others. I print it entire; it may give some of my readers an idea of the minor hindrances which meet one at every step, and take as much time to conquer as large ones. The work to be done is to place a series of the simple chemical elements as ‘Imps’ in a pretty row of poetical Bottles at Sheffield.

“My dear Mr. Ruskin,—I knocked in vain at your ‘oak’ last night when I came to Corpus to report progress, and also to ask you two questions, which must be put to you by letter, as there is not much time to lose if you wish to have the alkaline earths ready by the time you go to Sheffield. Firstly, do you wish me to see about getting the metals of the alkalies, and if so which of them do you want? Some of them are extremely expensive,—calcium, for instance, being 2d. a grain; but then, as it is very light a very small quantity would be required as a specimen. The other questions were about the amount of the oxides, and about the shape of the bottles to hold them. I have in your absence chosen some long sample bottles which are very beautiful of their kind, and even if they do not meet your approval they can easily be changed when you return to Oxford. I am progressing fairly well with the earths—Magnesia is ready; Alumina and Baryta partly made, but not yet pure, for it is not more easy in chemistry to get a perfect thing than in any other matter with which man has anything to do, and to-day I have been extremely unfortunate [194]with the Baryta, having tried two methods of making it, broken four crucibles, and, worst of all, failed to make it in a state of purity: however I shall have one more try to-morrow, and no doubt shall succeed. If there is any chance of your being in Oxford before Easter, I will not make the Silica, since the process is very beautiful, and one which no doubt you would like to see. Please excuse the length of my letter, and believe me,

“Affectionately yours,
Theodore D. Acland.”

II. Affairs of the Master.

I am aghast at the columnar aspect of any account given in satisfactory detail; and will only gradually, as I have space, illustrate my own expenditure and its course. That unexplained hundred of last month, diminished itself, I find, thus:

£ s. d.
Pocket 10 0 0
Klein, (final account on dismissal to Rotterdam, paying his passage, and a shilling or two over) 30 0 0
Downs, for my London quarterly pensioners 25 0 0
Morley, (Oxford bookbinding) 3 1 6
Easter presents 5 0 0
73 1 6
Leaving a balance of 26 18 6

to be added to the £200 of personal expenses in this month’s accounts. About a hundred and twenty of this has gone in a fortnight’s posting, with Mr. and Mrs. Severn, from London to Coniston, stopping to see St. Albans, Peterborough, Croyland, Stamford and Burleigh, Grantham, Newark, Lincoln, our new ground at Sheffield, Pomfret, Knaresborough, Ripon, Fountain’s, Richmond, Mortham Tower, and Brougham Castle. A pleasant life, you think? Yes,—if I led an unpleasant one, however dutiful, I could not write any of my books, least of all, Fors. But I am glad, if you honestly think it a pleasant life; why, if [195]so, my richer readers, do you drive only round the parks, every day, instead of from place to place through England, learning a thing or two on the road? Of the rest of the ‘self’ money, I leave further account till next month: it is not all gone yet. I give, however, for a typical example, one of Downs’s weekly bills, reaching the symmetrical total of £7 7s. 7d., or a guinea and a penny a day, which I think is about the average. Of the persons named therein as receiving weekly wage, Hersey is our old under-gardener, now rheumatic, and as little able to earn his dinner as I am myself; Rusch, my old lapidary, who cuts in the course of the week what pebbles he can for me; Best, an old coachman, who used to come to us from livery-stable on occasion, and now can’t drive any more; Christy, an old woman who used to work for my mother.

1876. £ s. d.
April 22. Cash in hand 30 12 8
29. Men’s Wages 4 1 0
Coachman’s Book 1 16 10
Charities 0 16 0
Sundries 0 13 9
£7 7 7
April 29. Balance in hand £23 5 1
Men’s Wages.
£ s. d.
April 29. David Downs 1 15 0
Thomas Hersey 1 5 0
John Rusch 1 1 0
£4 1 0
Coachman’s Book.
£ s. d.
April 29. Plate Powder, 1s.; Oil, 10d. 0 1 10
Soap and Sand 0 1 0
Wages 1 14 0
£1 16 10 [196]
£ s. d.
William Best 0 10 0
Mrs. Christy 0 6 0
£0 16 0
£ s. d.
April 22. Postage 0 0 5
24. Rail and ’Bus, British Museum 0 1 0
Cord for Boxes, 1s. 6d.; Postage, 1s.d. 0 3
25. Horse and Cart, Boxes to Station 0 7 6
Carman, 1s.; Booking ditto, 6d. 0 1 6
Postage 0 0 1
26 and 28. Postage 0 0
£0 13 9

After thus much of miniature illustration, I have only to explain of the broad effects in the account below, that my Oxford secretary, who has £200 a year, does such work for me connected with my Professorship as only a trained scholar could do, leaving me free here to study hyacinths. I wish I could give him the Professorship itself, but must do as I am bid by Oxford. My younger secretary, who has £100 a year, is this year put into office, for St. George’s correspondence; and I must beg my good friends—now, I am thankful to say, gathering a little to St. George’s work,—not to think themselves slighted in being answered by his hand, for mine is weary.

1876. £ s. d.
April 16. Balance 1511 10 1
May 1. Half-year’s Stipend of Slade Professorship 179 0 0
1690 10 1
464 11 0
Balance, May 16th £1225 19 1 [197]
April 20 and 30. Self 200 0 0
20. Downs 50 0 0
22. Photographs (Leucothea and Lippi) 16 5 0
25. Tailor’s Account 33 6 0
May 1. Oxford Secretary 100 0 0
1. Raffaelle for May and June 15 0 0
15. Burgess 50 0 0
£464 11 0


“My dear Ruskin,—I enclose two extracts, cut from the same day’s paper, which contain so grimly humorous a parallel between the ways in which the ‘Protestant Church’ and ‘the world’ are engaged in ‘obliterating all traces of the Virgin Mary,’ that I thought you might possibly use them in ‘Fors’ or elsewhere.

“Yours affectionately,
C. Patmore.”

(The following are the two extracts. Before giving them, I must reply to my greatly honoured and loved friend, that both the Bristol destroyers of images and New York destroyers of humanity, are simply—Lost Sheep of the great Catholic Church; account of whom will be required at her hand.)

Iconoclasm at Bristol.—Our Bristol correspondent writes: The removal of the ‘imagery’ from the north porch of Bristol Cathedral has created considerable excitement in the city and in Clifton. As a member of the capitular body who is known to strongly object to the figures was seen near the Cathedral late on Wednesday night, the clerk of the works employed ‘watchers,’ his intention being to refuse admission to other than his own workmen. On Thursday morning he had occasion to leave the works to go to the quarries at Corsham, and while he was absent a gang of men, under the orders of the chapter clerk, entered the gates, and before the clerk of the works, who was telegraphed for, could [198]return, hauled down the four statues and obliterated all traces of the Virgin Mary, doing much damage to other carving in the process of removal. The last has by no means been heard of this affair. The statues cost over £100 each, but the money value of the ‘imagery’ is not considered by the Restoration Committee. Their contention is that, until the work was completed and handed over to the Cathedral body, it belonged to the Restoration Committee; and it is believed that the right of the Chapter to act as they have done will be tested in a court of law. Feeling is so strong against the action of the Dean and Chapter that plenty of money would be forthcoming to prosecute such an inquiry.”—Pall Mall Gazette, April 7, 1876.

“One of the latest ‘sensations’ in New York has been a ‘female boxing match,’ aptly described by the New York Times as a ‘novel and nonsensical exhibition.’ The combatants—or ‘lady contestants,’ as they are called in the report of the proceedings—were two ballet-girls, of the kind known as ‘variety dancers.’ One, Miss Saunders, wore a white bodice, purple knee-breeches, which she had borrowed from an Ethiopian serenader, red stockings, and shoes. The other, Miss Harland, was attired in blue trunks and white tights. Both appeared nervous, were very pale, tried to blush, and ‘partially succeeded.’ When the fighting began, Miss Harland ‘did not know what to do with her hands.’ Miss Saunders, however, had her fists more at command, and, after some preliminary sparring, succeeded in striking her opponent ‘square in the face.’ Miss Harland, on her side, ‘by a vicious blow from the shoulder,’ managed to disarrange Miss Saunders’s back hair. Both ladies then smiled. In the end Miss Harland lost the match, ‘owing to her confirmed habit of swinging her hands around in the air.’ Miss Saunders was declared the winner, and carried off a prize of 200 dols. and a piece of silver plate; Miss Harland received [199]a ten-dollar bill from an amateur who thought she deserved consolation; and the two ‘lady contestants’ left the stage arm-in-arm.”—Pall Mall Gazette, April 7, 1876.

IV. In last Fors, though I thought I knew my ‘Old Mortality’ well enough, I carelessly wrote ‘Elspeth,’ for ‘Elizabeth,’ (meaning Bessie Maclure); and the misprint ‘Arannah’ for ‘Araunah’ escaped my eyes three times over. The more grotesque one of ‘changes’ for ‘charges,’ in p. 168, line 25, was I suppose appointed by Fors to chastise me for incurable flirtation. I wish I knew who these two schoolgirls are, whom I’ve got to finish my letter to if I can, this time.

My dears, will you please, for I can’t rewrite what I’ve said so often, read, when you have opportunity, the letter to a young lady in Fors 34, pp. 29, 30.6 Respecting the third article in that letter, I have now a few words to add; (read also, if you can, what is said of the Word of God, in Letters 45 and 46). I told you in last Fors that you would have great difficulty in getting leave from English society to obey Christ. Fors has since sent me, in support of this statement, a paper called ‘The Christian,’—the number for Thursday, May 11,—in the fifteenth page of which is an article on young ladies headed “What can they do?” from which I take the following passage:—

“There have been times of special prayer for young men and women. Could there not be also for the very large class of young ladies who do not go out into society? They have no home duties to detain them, as many in a humbler condition; they have hours and hours of leisure, and know not how to spend them—partly from need of being directed, but more so from the prejudices [200]and hindrances in their way. Their hearts are burning to do something for Christ, but they are not allowed, partly because it is considered ‘improper,’ and for a variety of reasons.

“There is a cry on every side for labourers. There are numbers longing to respond; if not wholly to dedicate their lives, at least a portion of their days, to active Christian service, and only a wave of united prayer can throw these objections aside, and free the large band who are so willing.

“A bright young Christian came to me this week. She is tired of meetings to which she is constantly taken, but never allowed to work in the inquiry-room at them,—hindered from taking up the least bit of work, till at last she cannot even ask for it. Almost to ‘kill time,’ she has taken up a secular corresponding agency.”

Now that it is ‘considered improper’ by the world that you should do anything for Christ, is entirely true, and always true; and therefore it was that your Godfathers and Godmothers, in your name, renounced the “vain pomp and glory of the world,” with all covetous desires of the same—see baptismal service—(I wonder if you had pretty names—won’t you tell me?) but I much doubt if you, either privately or from the pulpit of your doubtless charming church, have ever been taught what the “vain pomp and glory of the world” was.

Well, do you want to be better dressed than your schoolfellows? Some of them are probably poor, and cannot afford to dress like you; or, on the other hand, you may be poor yourselves, and may be mortified at their being dressed better than you. Put an end to all that at once, by resolving to go down into the deep of your girl’s heart, where you will find, inlaid by Christ’s own hand, a better thing than vanity; pity. And be sure of this, that, although in a truly Christian land, every young girl would be dressed beautifully and delightfully,—in this entirely heathen and Baal-worshipping land of ours, not one girl in ten has either decent or healthy clothing, and that you have no [201]business now to wear anything fine yourself, but are bound to use your full strength and resources to dress as many of your poor neighbours as you can. What of fine dress your people insist upon your wearing, take—and wear proudly and prettily, for their sakes; but, so far as in you lies, be sure that every day you are labouring to clothe some poorer creatures. And if you cannot clothe, at least help, with your hands. You can make your own bed; wash your own plate; brighten your own furniture,—if nothing else.

‘But that’s servant’s work’? Of course it is. What business have you to hope to be better than a servant of servants? ‘God made you a lady’? Yes, he has put you, that is to say, in a position in which you may learn to speak your own language beautifully; to be accurately acquainted with the elements of other languages; to behave with grace, tact, and sympathy to all around you; to know the history of your country, the commands of its religion, and the duties of its race. If you obey His will in learning these things, you will obtain the power of becoming a true ‘lady;’ and you will become one, if while you learn these things you set yourself, with all the strength of your youth and womanhood, to serve His servants, until the day come when He calls you to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

You may thus become a Christ’s lady, or you may, if you will, become a Belial’s lady, taking Belial’s gift of miserable idleness, living on the labour and shame of others, and deceiving them and yourself by lies about Providence, until you perish in hell with the rest of such, shrieking the bitter cry, “When saw we Thee?”


“Sir,—Thinking that it may interest you, I take the liberty of writing to let you know that the ‘Lead’ is not at all in the state [202]you suppose it to be; but still runs down, very clear, by the side of the North Inch and past Rose Terrace, and, judging from the numbers of them at this moment playing by it, affords no small delight to the children.

“I am, yours most respectfully,
A Reader of ‘Fors.’


“My dear Ruskin,—I have just received this month’s ‘Fors,’ but not read it, (of course not; my friends never do, except to find the mistakes,) as I am off to Dublin, but as regards Psalm lxxxvii., (note, p. 110,) I expounded it in a sermon some time since, and was talking of it to a very learned Hebraist last Monday. Rahab, there, is generally understood to mean ‘the monster,’ and has nothing to do, beyond resemblance of sound, with Rahab the harlot. And the monster is the crocodile, as typical of Egypt. In Psalm lxxxix. 10, (the Bible version, not the Prayer Book,) you will see Rahab explained in the margin, by ‘or Egypt.’

“Perhaps Rahab the harlot was called by the same name from the rapacity of her class, just as in Latin lupa.

“The whole Psalm is badly translated, and, as we have it, unintelligible. But it is really charged with deep prophetical meaning. I cannot write more, so believe me,

“Ever yours affectionately,
O. Gordon.

“I hope you will have had a pleasant journey when you receive this. The Greek Septuagint is much better than the English, but not good. As regards the general meaning, you have divined it very correctly.”


1 ‘Early History of Mankind,’ (a book of rare value and research, however,) p. 379. 

2 In the meantime, if any of my readers will look at the leading articles of the ‘Monetary Gazette,’ whose editor I thank with all my heart and soul, for the first honest commercial statements I ever saw in English journals, they will get sufficient light on such matters. 

3 Corr., Art. VI. 

4 See, on that subject, the third number of Deucalion. 

5 Article III. of Correspondence. 

6 I should like my lady readers in general to have, of back Fors numbers, at least, 30, 34, 36, 45, 46, and 48: those who have the complete book should scratch out the eleventh line in p. 18 of the last Index, and put the 10th line of it thus: “Ladies, and girls, advice to, 30, 2; 34, 29; 45, 212; 48, 271.” 



As I am now often asked, in private letters, the constitution of St. George’s Company, and cannot, hitherto, refer, in answer, to any clear summary of it, I will try to write such a summary in this number of Fors; that it may henceforward be sent to inquirers as alone sufficiently explanatory.

The St. George’s Company is a society established to carry out certain charitable objects, towards which it invites, and thankfully will receive, help from any persons caring to give it, either in money, labour, or any kind of gift. But the Company itself consists of persons who agree in certain general principles of action, and objects of pursuit, and who can, therefore, act together in effective and constant unison.

These objects of pursuit are, in brief terms, the health, wealth, and long life of the British nation: the Company having thus devoted itself, in the conviction that the British nation is at present unhealthy, poor, and likely to perish, as a power, from the face of the [204]earth. They accordingly propose to themselves the general medicining, enriching, and preserving in political strength, of the population of these islands; they themselves numbering at present, in their ranks, about thirty persons,—none of them rich, several of them sick, and the leader of them, at all events, not likely to live long.

Whether the nation be healthy, or in unwholesome degradation of body and mind; wealthy, or in continual and shameful distress; strong, or in rapid decline of political power and authority,—the reader will find debated throughout the various contents of the preceding five volumes of Fors. But there is one public fact, which cannot be debated—that the nation is in debt. And the St. George’s Company do practically make it their first, though not their principal, object, to bring that state of things to an end; and to establish, instead of a National Debt, a National Store. (See the last line of the fifth page of the first letter of the series, published 1st January, 1871, and the eleventh, and twenty-seventh, letters, throughout.)

That very few readers of this page have any notion, at this moment, what a National Debt is, or can conceive what a National Store should be, is one of many evil consequences of the lies which, under the title of “Political Economy,” have been taught by the ill-educated, and mostly dishonest, commercial men who at present govern the press of the country. [205]

I have again and again stated the truth in both these matters, but must try once more to do it, emphatically, and intelligibly.

A ‘civilized nation’ in modern Europe consists, in broad terms, of (A) a mass of half-taught, discontented, and mostly penniless populace, calling itself the people; of (B) a thing which it calls a government—meaning an apparatus for collecting and spending money; and (C) a small number of capitalists, many of them rogues, and most of them stupid persons, who have no idea of any object of human existence other than money-making, gambling, or champagne-bibbing. A certain quantity of literary men, saying anything they can get paid to say,—of clergymen, saying anything they have been taught to say,—of natural philosophers, saying anything that comes into their heads,—and of nobility, saying nothing at all, combine in disguising the action, and perfecting the disorganization, of the mass; but with respect to practical business, the civilized nation consists broadly of mob, money-collecting machine, and capitalist.

Now when the civilized mob wants to spend money for any profitless or mischievous purposes,—fireworks, illuminations, battles, driving about from place to place, or what not,—being itself penniless, it sets its money-collecting machine to borrow the sum needful for these amusements from the civilized capitalist.

The civilized capitalist lends the money, on condition [206]that, through the money-collecting machine, he may tax the civilized mob thenceforward for ever. The civilized mob spends the money forthwith, in gunpowder, infernal machines, masquerade dresses, new boulevards, or anything else it has set its idiotic mind on for the moment; and appoints its money-collecting machine to collect a daily tax from its children, and children’s children, to be paid to the capitalists from whom it had received the accommodation, thenceforward for ever.

That is the nature of a National Debt.

In order to understand that of a National Store, my readers must first consider what any store whatever, serviceable to human beings, consists of. A store properly means a collection of useful things. Literally, it signifies only a quantity,—or much of anything. But the heap of broken bottles which, I hear, is accumulating under the principal cliff of Snowdon, through the contributions of tourists from the summit, is not properly to be called a store; though a binful of old wine is. Neither is a heap of cannon-balls a store;1 though a heap of potatoes is. Neither is a cellar full of gunpowder a store; though a cellar full of coals is. A store is, for squirrels, of nuts; for bees, of honey; for men, of food, clothes, fuel, or pretty things, such as toys or jewels,—and, for educated persons, of books and pictures. [207]

And the possession of such a store by the nation would signify, that there were no taxes to pay; that everybody had clothes enough, and some stuff laid by for next year; that everybody had food enough, and plenty of salted pork, pickled walnuts, potted shrimps, or other conserves, in the cupboard; that everybody had jewels enough, and some of the biggest laid by, in treasuries and museums; and, of persons caring for such things, that everybody had as many books and pictures as they could read or look at; with quantities of the highest quality besides, in easily accessible public libraries and galleries.

Now the wretches who have, at present, the teaching of the people in their hands, through the public press, tell them that it is not ‘practical’ to attempt to bring about this state of things;—and that their government, or money-collecting machine, must not buy wine, potatoes, jewels, or pictures for them; but must buy iron plates two feet thick, gunpowder, and red tape. And this popular instruction is given, you will find, in the end, by persons who know that they could not get a percentage themselves, (without the public’s coming to know it,) on buying potatoes or pictures; but can get it, and a large one, on manufacturing iron, on committing wholesale murder, or on tying up papers with red tape.

Now the St. George’s Company propose to themselves,—and, if the God they believe in, lives, will [208]assuredly succeed in their proposition,—to put an end to this rascally and inhuman state of things, and bring about an honest and human state of them, instead. And they have already actually begun the accumulation of a National Store of good and useful things; by the collection and administration of which, they are not themselves to derive any gain whatsoever, but the Nation only.

We are, therefore, at present, as I said at first, a company established for a charitable purpose; the object of charity being the entire body of the British nation, now paying taxes to cheating capitalists. But we hope to include, finally, in our ranks a large number of the people themselves, and to make quite a different sort of people of them, carrying out our company’s laws, to the abolition of many existing interests, and in abrogation of many existing arrangements.

And the laws which we hope thus to see accepted are none of them new; but have been already recommended by all wise men, and practised by all truly prosperous states; nor is there anything whatever new in the modes of administration proposed;—and especially be it noted, there is nothing of the present leader’s fancies, in any part or character of the scheme—which is merely the application, to our nationally diseased thoughts and practices, of the direct precepts of the true sages of past time, who are every one of [209]them in harmony concerning all that is necessary for men to do, feel, and know.

And we hope to establish these laws, not by violence, but by obeying them ourselves, to the extent of which existing circumstances admit; and so gradually showing the advantage of them, and making them acceptable to others. Not that, for the enforcement of some of them, (the abolition of all manufactures that make the air unwholesome, for instance,) we shall hesitate to use the strong hand, when once our hands are strong. But we shall not begin by street riots to throw down our neighbour’s chimneys, or break his machinery;—though what we shall end in doing—God knows, not I,—but I have my own thoughts concerning it; not at present needing exposition.

The Companions, for the most part, will remain exactly in the condition of life they held before entering the Society; but they will direct all their powers, and some part of their revenues, in that condition, to the advance of its interests. We hold it shortsighted and ruinous policy to form separate institutions, or attempt the sudden establishment of new systems of labour. Every one of us must use the advantages he now possesses, whatever they may be, and contend with the difficulties arising out of his present position, gradually modifying it, as he can, into conformity with the laws which the Society desires may be ultimately observed by all its members. [210]

The first of our conditions of Companionship is Honesty. We are a company of honest persons, vowing to have no fellowship with dishonest ones. Persons who do not know the meaning of the word ‘Honesty,’ or who would in anywise, for selfish convenience, tolerate any manner of cheating or lying, either in others or themselves, we class indiscriminately with the self-conscious rogues, for whom we have more respect; and our separation from all such is to be quite manifest and unmistakable. We do not go into monasteries,—we seek no freedom of conscience in foreign lands,—we profess no severities of asceticism at home. We simply refuse to have any dealings with rogues, whether at home or abroad.

I repeat, for this must be strictly understood; we are a company of honest persons; and will add to ourselves none but persons of that quality. We, for our own part, entirely decline to live by passing bad half-crowns, by selling bad goods, or by lying as to their relative quality. And we hold only such communication with persons guilty of such practices, as we should with any other manner of thieves or liars.

It will follow that anything gravely said by a Companion of St. George may be, without investigation, believed; and anything sold by one, without scrutiny, bought for what it is said to be,—of which recovery of old principles of human speech and commerce, no words can set forth the infinitude of beneficial consequences, [211]when it is once brought about among a discernible and every day increasing body of persons.

The second condition of companionship is the resolution, so far as we have ability, to earn our own living with our own hands; and not to allow, much less compel, other people to work for us: this duty being of double force,—first, as necessary to our own health and honour; but much more, as striking home at the ghastly universal crime of modern society,—stealing the labourer’s bread from him, (making him work, that is to say, for our’s, as well as his own,) and then abusing and despising him for the degradation of character which his perpetual toil involves;2 deliberately, in many cases, refusing to encourage him in economy, that we may have him at our mercy to grind in the mill; always selling as much gin and beer to him as we can persuade him to swill, at the rate of twenty-pence for twopence’ worth, (see Letter XXVII.,) to fill our own pockets; and teaching him pious catechisms, that we may keep him our quiet slave.

We cannot, at present, all obey this great law concerning labour, however willing we may be; for we may not, in the condition of life in which we have been brought up, have been taught any manual labour by which we now could make a living. I myself, the present Master of the Society, cannot obey this, its second main law; but then I am only a makeshift Master, taking the place till [212]somebody more fit for it be found. Sir Walter Scott’s life, in the full strength of it at Ashestiel, and early at Abbotsford, with his literary work done by ten, or at latest twelve, in the morning; and the rest of the day spent in useful work with Tom Purdie in his woods, is a model of wise moral management of mind and body, for men of true literary power; but I had neither the country training of body, nor have the natural strength of brain, which can reach this ideal in anywise. Sir Walter wrote as a stream flows; but I do all my brain-work like a wrung sponge, and am tired out, and good for nothing, after it. Sir Walter was in the open air, farm-bred, and playing with lambs, while I was a poor little Cockney wretch, playing, in a dark London nursery, with a bunch of keys. I do the best I can, and know what ought to be; and that is all the Company really need of me. I would fain, at this moment, both for pleasure and duty’s sake, be cutting the dead stems out of my wood, or learning to build a dry stone wall under my good mason, Mr. Usher, than writing these institutes of St. George; but the institutes are needed, and must be written by me, since there is nobody else to write them.

Any one, therefore, may be a Companion of St. George who sincerely does what they can, to make themselves useful, and earn their daily bread by their own labour: and some forms of intellectual or artistic labour, inconsistent (as a musician’s) with other manual labour, [213]are accepted by the Society as useful; provided they be truly undertaken for the good and help of all; and that the intellectual labourer ask no more pay than any other workman. A scholar can generally live on less food than a ploughman, and there is no conceivable reason why he should have more.3 And if he be a false-hearted scholar, or a bad painter or fiddler, there is infinite reason why he should have less. My readers may have been surprised at the instant and eager assertion, as of a leading principle, in the first of these letters, (January ’71,) that people cannot live by art. But I spoke swiftly, because the attempt so to live is among the worst possible ways they can take of injurious begging. There are a few, a very few persons born in each generation, whose words are worth hearing; whose art is worth seeing. These born few will preach, or sing, or paint, in spite of you; they will starve like grasshoppers, rather than stop singing; and even if you don’t choose to listen, it is charitable to throw them some crumbs to keep them alive. But the people who take to writing or painting as a means of livelihood, because they think it genteel, are just by so much more contemptible than common beggars, in that they are noisy and offensive beggars. I am quite willing to pay [214]for keeping our poor vagabonds in the workhouse; but not to pay them for grinding organs outside my door, defacing the streets with bills and caricatures, tempting young girls to read rubbishy novels, or deceiving the whole nation to its ruin, in a thousand leagues square of dirtily printed falsehood, every morning at breakfast. Whatever in literature, art, or religion, is done for money, is poisonous itself; and doubly deadly, in preventing the hearing or seeing of the noble literature and art which have been done for love and truth. If people cannot make their bread by honest labour, let them at least make no noise about the streets; but hold their tongues, and hold out their idle hands humbly; and they shall be fed kindly.

Then the third condition of Companionship is, that, after we have done as much manual work as will earn our food, we all of us discipline ourselves, our children, and any one else willing to be taught, in all the branches of honourable knowledge and graceful art attainable by us. Having honestly obtained our meat and drink, and having sufficiently eaten and drunken, we proceed, during the rest of the day, to seek after things better than meat and drink; and to provide for the nobler necessities of what, in ancient days, Englishmen used to call their souls.

To this end, we shall, as we increase in numbers, establish such churches and schools as may best guide religious feeling, and diffuse the love of sound learning [215]and prudent art. And when I set myself first to the work of forming the Society, I was induced to do so chiefly by the consciousness that the balanced unison of artistic sensibility with scientific faculty, which enabled me at once to love Giotto, and learn from Galileo, gave me singular advantages for a work of this kind. More particularly, the course of study through which, after being trained in the severest schools of Protestant divinity, I became acquainted with the mythology of Greece, and legends of Rome, in their most vivid power over the believing minds of both nations, permits me now to accept with freedom and respect the concurrence of a wider range of persons holding different views on religious subjects, than any other scholar I know, at the present day, in England, would feel himself secure in the hope of reconciling to a common duty, and in uncontested elements of faith.

The scheme, and elementary means, of this common education, I am now occupied in arranging and choosing as I best may.4 In especial, I have set myself to write three grammars—of geology, botany, and zoology, which will contain nothing but indisputable facts in those three branches of proper human learning; and which, if I live a little longer, will embrace as many facts as any ordinary schoolboy or schoolgirl need be taught. In these three grammars, (‘Deucalion,’ ‘Proserpina,’ and ‘Love’s [216]Meinie,’5) I shall accept every aid that sensible and earnest men of science can spare me, towards the task of popular education: and I hope to keep thankful records of the names of the persons who are making true discoveries in any of these sciences, and of the dates of such discovery, which shall be unassailably trustworthy as far as they extend. I hope also to be able to choose, and in some degree provide, a body of popular literature of entirely serviceable quality. Of some of the most precious books needed, I am preparing, with the help of my friends, new editions, for a common possession in all our school libraries.

If I have powers fitted for this task, (and I should not have attempted it but in conviction that I have,) they are owing mainly to this one condition of my life, that, from my youth up, I have been seeking the fame, and honouring the work, of others;—never my own. I first was driven into literature that I might defend the fame of Turner; since that day I have been explaining the power, or proclaiming the praise, of Tintoret,—of Luini,—of Carpaccio,—of Botticelli,—of Carlyle;—never thinking for an instant of myself: and sacrificing what little faculty, and large pleasure, I had in painting, either from nature or noble art, that, if possible, I might bring others to see what I rejoiced in, and understand what I had deciphered. There has been [217]no heroism in this, nor virtue;—but only, as far as I am myself concerned, quaint ordering of Fate; but the result is, that I have at last obtained an instinct of impartial and reverent judgment, which sternly fits me for this final work, to which, if to anything, I was appointed.

And for the right doing of it, and for all future work of the same kind, requiring to be done for the Society by other persons, it is absolutely needful that the person charged with it should be implicitly trusted, and accurately obeyed by the Companions, in all matters necessary to the working of the Society. He cannot lose his time in contention or persuasion; he must act undisturbedly, or his mind will not suffice for its toil; and with concurrence of all the Society’s power, or half their power will be wasted, and the whole perverted, by hesitation and opposition. His authority over them must correspond precisely, in the war against the poverty and vice of the State, to that of a Roman Dictator, in his war against its external enemies.

Of a Roman ‘Dictator,’ I say, observe: not a Roman ‘Emperor.’ It is not the command of private will, but the dictation of necessary law, which the Society obeys:—only, the obedience must be absolute, and without question; faithful to the uttermost,—that is to say, trusting to the uttermost. The practice of faith and obedience to some of our fellow-creatures is the alphabet by which we learn the higher obedience to heaven; [218]and it is not only needful to the prosperity of all noble united action, but essential to the happiness of all noble living spirits.

I have not, in my past letters, much noticed this condition of the Society’s work; because its explanation will involve that of our religious creed to the full; and its enforcement must be in the very teeth of the mad-dog’s creed of modernism, “I will not be dictated to,” which contains the essence of all diabolical error. For, in sum, the moral scale is raised exactly according to the degree and motive of obedience. To be disobedient through temptation, is human sin; but to be disobedient for the sake of disobedience, fiendish sin. To be obedient for the sake of success in conduct, is human virtue; but to be obedient for the sake of obedience, angelic virtue.

The constitution of the Society is to be, therefore, that of an aristocracy electing an absolute chief, (as the Senate of Rome their Dictator, or the Senate of Venice their Doge,) who is to be entirely responsible for the conduct of the Society’s affairs; to appoint its principal officers, and to grant or refuse admission to candidates for Companionship. But he is liable to deposition at any moment, by a vote of the majority of the Companions; and is to have no control over the property of the Society, but through the Trustees in whom that property is vested.

And now, for farther explanation of the details of [219]our constitution and design, I must refer the reader to the Fors for March of this year; and, if he desires to pursue his inquiry, to the 8th, 9th, 11th, 17th, and 19th Letters of the previous series. These state clearly what we propose to do, and how: but, for defence of our principles, the entire series of Letters must be studied; and that with quiet attention, for not a word of them has been written but with purpose. Some parts of the plan are confessedly unexplained, and others obscurely hinted at; nor do I choose to say how much of this indistinctness has been intentional. But I am well assured that if any patient and candid person cares to understand the book, and master its contents, he may do so with less pains than would be required for the reading of any ordinary philosophical treatise on equally important subjects.

Only readers should be clearly aware of one peculiarity in the manner of my writing in Fors, which might otherwise much mislead them:—namely, that if they will enclose in brackets with their pen, passages of evident irony, all the rest of the book is written with absolute seriousness and literalness of meaning. The violence, or grotesque aspect, of a statement may seem as if I were mocking; but this comes mainly of my endeavour to bring the absolute truth out into pure crystalline structure, unmodified by disguise of custom, or obscurity of language; for the result of that process is continually to reduce the facts into a form so [220]contrary, if theoretical, to our ordinary impressions, and so contrary, if moral, to our ordinary practice, that the straightforward statement of them looks like a jest. But every such apparent jest will be found, if you think of it, a pure, very dreadful, and utterly imperious, veracity.

With this understanding, the following series of aphorisms contain the gist of the book, and may serve to facilitate the arrangement of its incidental matter.

1. Any form of government will work, provided the governors are real, and the people obey them; and none will work, if the governors are unreal, or the people disobedient. If you mean to have logs for kings, no quantity of liberty in choice of the wood will be of any profit to you:—nor will the wisest or best governor be able to serve you, if you mean to discuss his orders instead of obeying them. Read carefully on this matter Letter XIII., pp. 7 and 8.

2. The first duty of government is to see that the people have food, fuel, and clothes. The second, that they have means of moral and intellectual education.

3. Food, fuel, and clothes can only be got out of the ground, or sea, by muscular labour; and no man has any business to have any, unless he has done, if able, the muscular work necessary to produce his portion, or to render, (as the labour of a surgeon or physician renders,) equivalent benefit to life. It indeed saves both toil and time that one man should dig, another bake, [221]and another tan; but the digger, baker, and tanner are alike bound to do their equal day’s duty; and the business of the government is to see that they have done it, before it gives any one of them their dinner.

4. While the daily teaching of God’s truth, doing of His justice, and heroic bearing of His sword, are to be required of every human soul according to its ability, the mercenary professions of preaching, law-giving, and fighting must be entirely abolished.

5. Scholars, painters, and musicians, may be advisedly kept, on due pittance, to instruct or amuse the labourer after, or at, his work; provided the duty be severely restricted to those who have high special gifts of voice, touch, and imagination;6 and that the possessors of these melodious lips, light-fingered hands, and lively brains, do resolutely undergo the normal discipline necessary to ensure their skill; the people whom they are to please, understanding, always, that they cannot employ these tricksy artists without working double-tides themselves, to provide them with beef and ale.

6. The duty of the government, as regards the distribution of its work, is to attend first to the wants of the most necessitous; therefore, to take particular charge of the back streets of every town; leaving the fine ones, [222]more or less, according to their finery, to take care or themselves. And it is the duty of magistrates, and other persons in authority, but especially of all bishops, to know thoroughly the numbers, means of subsistence, and modes of life of the poorest persons in the community, and to be sure that they at least are virtuous and comfortable; for if poor persons be not virtuous, after all the wholesome discipline of poverty, what must be the state of the rich, under their perilous trials and temptations?7—but, on the other hand, if the poor are made comfortable and good, the rich have a fair chance of entering the kingdom of heaven also, if they choose to live honourably and decently.

7. Since all are to be made to labour for their living, and it is not possible to labour without materials and tools, these must be provided by the government, for all persons, in the necessary quantities. If bricks are to be made, clay and straw must be provided; if sheep are to be kept, grass; if coats are to be made, cloth; if [223]oakum to be picked, oakum. All these raw materials, with the tools for working them, must be provided by the government, at first, free of cost to the labourer, the value of them being returned to them as the first-fruits of his toil; and no pawnbrokers or usurers may be allowed to live by lending sea to fishermen, air to fowlers, land to farmers, crooks to shepherds, or bellows to smiths.

8. When the lands and seas belonging to any nation are all properly divided, cultivated, and fished, its population cannot be increased, except by importing food in exchange for useless articles,—that is to say, by living as the toy-manufacturers of some independent nation, which can both feed itself, and afford to buy toys besides. But no nation can long exist in this servile state. It must either emigrate, and form colonies to assist in cultivating the land which feeds it, or become entirely slavish and debased. The moment any nation begins to import food,8 its political power and moral worth are ended.

9. All the food, clothing, and fuel required by men, can be produced by the labour of their own arms on the earth and sea; all food is appointed to be so produced, and must be so produced, at their peril. If instead of taking the quantity of exercise made necessary [224]to their bodies by God, in the work appointed by God, they take it in hunting or shooting, they become ignorant, irreligious, and finally insane, and seek to live by fighting as well as by hunting; whence the type of Nimrod in the circle of the Hell-towers, which I desired you to study in Dante. If they do not take exercise at all, they become sensual, and insane in worse ways. And it is physically impossible that true religious knowledge, or pure morality, should exist among any classes of a nation who do not work with their hands for their bread. Read Letter XI. carefully.

10. The use of machinery9 in agriculture throws a certain number of persons out of wholesome employment, who must thenceforward either do nothing, or mischief. The use of machinery in art destroys the national intellect; and, finally, renders all luxury impossible. All machinery needful in ordinary life to supplement human or animal labour may be moved by wind or water: while steam, or any modes of heat-power, may only be employed justifiably under extreme or special conditions of need; as for speed on main lines of communication, and for raising water from great depths, or other such work beyond human strength. [225]

11. No true luxury, wealth, or religion is possible to dirty persons; nor is it decent or human to attempt to compass any temporal prosperity whatever by the sacrifice of cleanliness. The speedy abolition of all abolishable filth is the first process of education;10 the principles of which I state in the second group of aphorisms following.

12. All education must be moral first; intellectual secondarily. Intellectual, before—(much more without)—moral education, is, in completeness, impossible; and in incompleteness, a calamity.

13. Moral education begins in making the creature to be educated, clean, and obedient. This must be done thoroughly, and at any cost, and with any kind of compulsion rendered necessary by the nature of the animal, be it dog, child, or man.

14. Moral education consists next in making the creature practically serviceable to other creatures, according to the nature and extent of its own capacities; taking care that these be healthily developed in such service. It may be a question how long, and to what extent, boys and girls of fine race may be allowed to run in the paddock before they are broken; but assuredly the sooner they are put to such work as they are able [226]for, the better.11 Moral education is summed when the creature has been made to do its work with delight, and thoroughly; but this cannot be until some degree of intellectual education has been given also.

15. Intellectual education consists in giving the creature the faculties of admiration, hope, and love.

These are to be taught by the study of beautiful Nature; the sight and history of noble persons; and the setting forth of noble objects of action.

16. Since all noble persons hitherto existent in the world have trusted in the government of it by a supreme Spirit, and in that trust, or faith, have performed all their great actions, the history of these persons will finally mean the history of their faith; and the sum of intellectual education will be the separation of what is inhuman, in such faiths, and therefore perishing, from what is human, and, for human creatures, eternally true.

These sixteen aphorisms contain, as plainly as I can speak it, the substance of what I have hitherto taught, and am now purposed to enforce practice of, as far as I am able. It is no business of mine to think about possibilities;—any day, any moment, may raise up some one to take the carrying forward of the plan out of my hands, or to furnish me with larger means [227]of prosecuting it; meantime, neither hastening nor slackening, I shall go on doing what I can, with the people, few or many, who are ready to help me.

Such help, (to conclude with what simplest practical direction I can,) may be given me by any persons interested in my plans, mainly by sending me money; secondly, by acting out as much as they agree with of the directions for private life given in Fors; and thirdly, by promulgating and recommending such principles. If they wish to do more than this, and to become actual members of the Company, they must write to me, giving a short and clear account of their past lives, and present circumstances. I then examine them on such points as seem to me necessary; and if I accept them, I inscribe their names in the roll, at Corpus Christi College, with two of our masters for witnesses. This roll of the Company is written, hitherto, on the blank leaves of an eleventh-century MS. of the Gospels, always kept in my rooms; and would enable the Trustees, in case of my death, at once to consult the Companions respecting the disposition of the Society’s property. As to the legal tenure of that property, I have taken counsel with my lawyer-friends till I am tired; and, as will be seen by the statement in the first page of the Correspondence, I purpose henceforward to leave all such legal arrangements to the discretion of the Companions themselves. [229]

1 They may serve for the defence of the store, of course;—so may the broken bottles, stuck on the top of a wall. But the lock of your cupboard is not the contents of it. 

2 See Letter XI. (November ’71,) pages 3 to 7, the most pregnant five pages in the entire series of these letters; and compare that for January of this year, pp. 8–11, and for April, p. 113. 

3 Again, I have more myself—but that is because I have been ill-bred; and I shall be most thankful to take less, as soon as other people cease to be paid for doing nothing. People cry out upon me for asking ten shillings for a year’s Fors; but never object to Mr. Barber’s paying his clerk a guinea for opening his study door to me five times, charging the same to St. George’s account. (See Fors of April, pp. 134, 135, 136.) 

4 See Fors for January of this year, pp. 21, 22. 

5 This book I shall extend, if time be given me, from its first proposed form into a parallel one with the two others. 

6 Such limitation being secured by the severity of the required education in the public schools of art, and thought; and by the high standard of examination fixed, before granting licence of exhibition, in the public theatres, or picture galleries. 

7 Here is just an instance of what might at first seem to be a jest; but is a serious and straightforward corollary from the eternally true fact stated by St. Timothy: “They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition;” and by Horace:

“Quanto quisque sibi plura negaverit

Ab Dis plura feret.”

The passage might at first be thought inconsistent with what is said above of the ‘degradation’ which perpetual toil involves. But toil and poverty are two different things. Poverty ennobles, and secures; toil degrades, and endangers. We are all bound to fulfil our task; but happy only if we can also enter into our rest. 

8 It may always import such food as its climate cannot produce, in exchange for such food as it can; it may buy oranges with corn, or pepper with cheese. But not with articles that do not support life. Separate cities may honourably produce saleable art; Limoges its enamel, Sheffield its whittle; but a nation must not live on enamel or whittles. 

9 Foolish people are continually quibbling and stupifying themselves about the word ‘machine.’ Briefly, any instrument is a machine so far as its action is, in any particular, or moment, beyond the control of the human hand. A violin, a pencil, and a plough, are tools, not machines. A grinding organ, or a windmill, is a machine, not a tool: often the two are combined; thus a lathe is a machine, and the workman’s chisel, used at it, a tool. 

10 The ghastly squalor of the once lovely fields of Dulwich, trampled into mud, and strewn with rags and paper by the filthy London population, bred in cigar smoke, which is attracted by the Crystal Palace, would alone neutralize all possible gentlemanly education in the district. 

11 See an entirely admirable paper on school-sports, in ‘The World’ for February of this year. 


I. Affairs of the Company.

The new purchases of land round our little museum at Sheffield have been made at rather under than over the market price of land in the district; and they will enable me, as I get more funds, to extend the rooms of the museum under skylight as far as I wish. I did not want to buy so soon; but Fors giving me the opportunity, I must take it at her hand. Our cash accounts will in future be drawn up, as below, by our Companion, Mr. Rydings, to whom all questions, corrections, etc., are to be sent, and all subscriptions under fifty pounds.

[For Cash Account, see next page (230).]

The following letter from Messrs. Tarrant will be seen to be in reply to mine of the 6th June, printed in last Fors. From the tone of it, as well as from careful examination of my legal friends, I perceive that it is out of my power to give the Company a legal status, according to the present law of England, unless it be permitted to gather dividends for itself, instead of store for the nation, and to put its affairs in the hands of a number of persons who know nothing about them, instead of in the hands of one person who is acquainted with them.

Under these circumstances, I consider it to be best that the Companions should settle their own legal status with the lawyers; and this the more, as I do not choose to run the Society into farther expense by the continuance of correspondence between these legal gentlemen and me, without the slightest chance of [231]either party ever understanding the other. Accordingly, I hereby authorize Mr. Robert Somervell, of Hazelthwaite, Windermere, to collect the opinions of the other Companions, (a list of whom I have put in his hands,) and to act in their name, as they shall direct him, respecting the tenure of the Company’s lands and property, now and in future. And I hereby hold myself quit of all responsibility touching such tenure, maintaining simply the right of the Master of the Company to direct their current expenditures. [230]

CASH ACCOUNT OF ST. GEORGE’S COMPANY (From March 15th to June 15th, 1876).

Dr. Cr.
1876. £ s. d. 1876. £ s. d.
March 15. To Balance at Union Bank, London (see April Fors, p. 128) 157 11 10 April 17. By Benjamin Bradshawe (advance on new purchase of land at Sheffield) 30 0 0
To,, Balance in Mr. Ruskin’s hand (see May Fors, p. 169) 107 16 5 23. By,, Theodore D. Acland (expenses of chemicals for Sheffield Museum) 5 0 0
March To,, F. D. Drewitt (tithe of first earning) 1 4 1 May 7. By,, Henry Swan (Salary and Expenses at Museum) 55 15 3
To,, Miss M. Guest 2 2 0 23. By,, Mrs. Talbot (repairing expenses on our cottages at Barmouth, with other expenses for educational purposes, afterwards to be explained)
April To,, James Burdon (tithe of wage) 2 10 0 27 0 0
To,, Wm. B. Graham (gift) 1 0 0 26. By,, Benjamin Bagshawe (on completion of purchase at Sheffield) 300 0 0
To,, Anon., post stamp, Birkenhead 1 10 0
April 16 To,, Egbert Rydings 25 0 0
To,, Miss S. Beever 7 0 6
To,, Anon. (tithe gift for half-year 1876) 50 0 0
To,, Rev. R. St. J. Tyrwhitt 20 0 0
To,, No. 50, G. 10 10 0
June 16 To,, Balance due to Mr. Ruskin 31 10 5
£417 15 3 £417 15 3


“Dear Sir,—We have carefully considered the points raised in your letter to us of the 6th inst., and have also consulted Mr. Barber upon them, and with reference thereto we advise you that the law stands shortly thus:—by the 13th Eliz., c. 5, a voluntary settlement of real or personal estate will be void and may be set aside by a creditor of the settlor, upon his showing an intent on the part of the settlor to defraud his creditors; and such an intent may be inferred from the circumstances. The Bankruptcy Act 1869 (32 and 33 Vict., c. 71) contains a still more stringent provision where the voluntary settlor is a trader. These are liabilities and risks which your association cannot avoid; but they are more imaginary than real, as the donors of land to the Company are not likely to make a voluntary gift for the purpose of defeating their creditors. By the 27th Eliz., c. 4, a voluntary gift or settlement of real estate, unless it be in favour of a charity, will be avoided by a subsequent bonâ fide sale for value, even though the purchaser have notice of the voluntary settlement. This, too, is an ordinary risk from which you cannot escape, unless you are willing to submit to the jurisdiction of the Charity Commissioners. It does not often happen that a person who has made a voluntary [232]settlement of real estate seeks to stultify his own act by a subsequent sale of the same estate, but the payment of a small consideration, or even matter ex post facto, would prevent the deed being voluntary, and the risk is not a very serious one.

“We do not recollect Mr. Baker’s name, and we find no mention of it in any of your letters to us: we think you must have meant Mr. Talbot, with whose solicitors we were in communication as to some cottages and land, and it was arranged that that matter should stand over until the St. George’s Company was constituted.

“As to the writing out of the memorandum and rules for signature of the Companions—the case is this: you receive donations from people who give them to you on the faith of a certain scheme of yours being duly carried out; it is therefore necessary that the leading features of that scheme should be reduced to writing, in order that there may be no misunderstanding between the givers and receivers of these donations as to the objects to which they are devoted. The signatures of the Companions are a feature of your published scheme, and in addition will be useful to show who are the acknowledged Companions having a direct interest in it—the right to elect and control the action of the Master, elect Trustees, etc., etc.; and the signatures will be the evidence of the deliberate submission of the Companions to be bound by the rules to which they subscribe their names.

“But all this will not make the St. George’s Company other than a voluntary association of persons which the law will not recognize as a corporation.

“The Companions of St. George will be capable of holding land, but not as the St. George’s Company,—that is, not as a corporation. Land must be held by or for them as individuals. You may have a piece of land conveyed to, say two hundred Companions; naming each of them; but for the sake of convenience [233]you would have it conveyed to two or three who should hold it upon trust for the Companions generally.

“You can only obtain the countenance and supervision of the law for your Company on certain conditions, and when you came to us we were careful to explain this to you. You at once told us the conditions would not do for your Company, therefore we have had to do the best we could for you, treating your Company as an association without the countenance and supervision of the law.

“Forgive us for quoting from a letter of yours to us of the 27th May, 1875. ‘Mr. Barber’s notion is the popular one of a Mob of Directors. But St. George’s Company must have only one Master. They may dismiss him at their pleasure, but they must not bother him. I am going to draw up a form myself, and submit it to Mr. Barber for criticism and completion.’ We think you may rest satisfied with matters as they are.

“We remain, dear Sir,
“Yours very truly,
Tarrant & Mackrell.

“John Ruskin, Esq.
“Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire.”

II. Affairs of the Master.

£ s. d.
Balance, May 16th. 1225 19 1
460 0 0
£765 19 1

Spent. £ s. d.
May 17. a. Messrs. Weldon and Inglis 23 0 0
b. Mr. Stowe, Camberwell Green 11 0 0
Warren and Jones 21 19 3
June 1. c. Annie Brickland 10 0 0
8. d. Furniture of new Lodge 300 0 0
Downs 44 0 9
3. Kate 50 0 0
£460 0 0


a and b. The first of these bills is for a sealskin jacket; the second for a gold and pearl frame to a miniature. Respecting my need for these articles, I have more to say when my lecture on Jewels can be got published: it is fine weather just now, and I can’t see to it.

c. In 1871, in one of my walks at Abingdon, (see Fors, Letters IV. and VI.,) I saw some ragged children playing by the roadside on the bank of a ditch, and gathering what buttercups they could find. Watching them a little while, I at last asked what they were doing. ‘This is my garden,’ answered a little girl about nine years old. ‘Well, but gardens ought to be of use; this is only full of buttercups. Why don’t you plant some strawberries in it?’ ‘I have none to plant.’ ‘If you had a little garden of your own, and some to plant, would you take care of them?’ ‘That I would.’ Thereupon I told her to come and ask for me at the Crown and Thistle, and with my good landlady Mrs. Wonnacott’s help, rented a tiny piece of ground for her. Her father and mother have since died; and her brothers and sisters (four, in all,) are in the Union, at Abingdon. I did not like to let this child go there too; so I’ve sent her to learn shepherding at a kindly shepherd’s; close to Arundel, on the farm of the friend whose son (with perhaps a little help from his sister) took me out foxhunting; and examined the snail-shells for me. This ten pounds is for her board, etc., till she can be made useful.

d. I had settled my servant Crawley, with his wife and his three children, in a good house here at my gate. He spent his savings in furnishing it, in a much more costly manner than I thought quite proper; but that, (as I then supposed,) was his affair, more than mine. His wife died last year: and now both he and I think he will be more useful to me at Oxford than Coniston. So I send him to Oxford,—but have to pay him for his house-furniture, which is very provoking and tiresome, and the kind of expense one does not calculate on. The curious troublesomeness [235]of Fors to me in all business matters has always been one of the most grotesque conditions of my life. The names of Warren and Jones appear for the last time in my accounts, for I have had to give up my tea-shop, owing to the (too surely mortal) illness of my active old servant, Harriet Tovey,—a great grief to me, no less than an utter stop to my plans in London.

III. I somewhat regret, for my friend’s sake, that he desires me to print the subjoined letter in its entirety, if at all. I must print his answer to my question about Usury, for which I am heartily grateful to him, for reference in next Fors; and can only therefore do as he bids me with the rest, which he has written more hastily than is his habit. What answer it seems to me to need will be found in the attached notes.

“Dear Mr. Ruskin,—It did not need your kind letters by the post to assure me that the rebuke pronounced on me by Fors in June was meant in the most friendly spirit—for my good and that of all men. Fors set me thinking, and, as you urged me to say what I thought, I began to write you a letter, partly to show that I am not such so repulsive a person as you paint, (a) or at least that it is not the fault of Comte if I am; partly to show that, whilst agreeing with you very much about modern life, I find other reasons for trusting that the world as a whole improves. I owe you, and the age owes you, profound gratitude for much noble teaching; and it is very sad to me to find you reviling (b) other teachers to whom we owe much, and who know a thousand things about which you have told us nothing. And indiscriminate abuse of all that the human race has now become, wounds my ear as if I heard one cursing our own fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters. If you believe that ‘the entire system of modern life is corrupted [236]with the ghastliest forms of injustice and untruth,’ I wonder that you believe in God, or any future, in effort at all, or in anything but despair. (c)

“But my letter to you grew at last to such a length that I must find for it another place, and you or any reader of Fors who may take the trouble to look, may see what I wish to put to you in the ‘Fortnightly Review.’ I wanted especially to point out that the impression you have conveyed about Comte and his teaching is almost exactly the contrary of the truth. You speak as if Comte were a physiologist, (d) mostly occupied with frogs and lice, whereas he is mostly occupied with history, morality, and religion; as if he insisted on the origin of man from the protozoa, whereas no one has more earnestly repudiated such speculations; as if he claimed political and public careers for women, whereas no one has said more against everything of the kind; as if he looked on modern industrial and social life with admiration, whereas he preaches a regeneration of our lives far more searching than any which you even contemplate; lastly, you speak of him and his students as if they were forbidden all sympathy with the spirit of ages past, whereas the reverence which Comte has expressed for the Middle Age at its best, its religion, its chivalry, its poetry, and its art, far exceeds in depth and completeness of spiritual insight even all the fine things which you yourself have taught us.

“Now I ask you, who love the very soul of truth, to repair an injustice which you have done in representing Comte (e) to teach quite the contrary of what you will find, if you turn to his books, that he does teach. I give a trifling instance. You write as if it were sheer impertinence in me, a student of positivism, (f) to allude to a mediæval building or speak of a tracery. Now the truth is that some of Comte’s profoundest thoughts relate to the moral and spiritual meaning of these sacred relics; and for my own part, though I know nothing of [237]the matter, some of the best seasons of my life have been given to companionship with these most sublime monuments, and study of the ‘writing on the wall,’—or all that men have spared.

“I say nothing about others whose views you may wish to class under the general title ‘Evolution,’ or of a lady whom I am sorry to see you speak of as ‘Cobbe.’ I have never shared all the opinions of those to whom you allude, and they are not followers of Comte. I shall say nothing about them; though I should like to know on what grounds you think yourself entitled to call Mr. Herbert Spencer and Mr. John Stuart Mill—geese. (g) The letter addressed to me in Fors has reference to Positivism, or it should have been addressed to some one else; and I assure you that every one of the doctrines which you ascribe to Positivists are not held by them at all, but quite the contrary are held.

“Whether the world is wholly worse than it was of old, is a very big matter on which I cannot now enter. I do not think it can be settled by statutes, old MSS., or bits from the poets. Thought and life are very wide; and I will listen to the judgment only of those who have patiently weighed the whole of both. (h) The grandest times of art are often those of especial vileness in life and society; and the grandest times of one art are sometimes those of utter decadence in another art, even in the same people and place. When the Theseus was carved, Aristophanes gives us the domestic and public life of the Athenians, and it has its dark side. Titian was the contemporary of Palladio, and also of Philip II.; Milton of Sir Peter Lely and Louis XIV.; so too were Bach and Mozart contemporaries of Greuze and Louis XV. I don’t quite see what is to be made of these violent contrasts. And by the way, I wish you would work out for us the bearing of musical art on the social and moral life of various ages. It always seemed to me you omitted music. [238]

“Now I will try to answer your questions of law about Usury. There is no such thing as usury in law at all,—that is to say, there is no rate of interest above which the lending of money is criminal or unlawful. By the 17 and 18 Vict., c. 90, (passed in 1854,) “all existing laws against usury shall be repealed.” (Caps. mine.) There are a great many cases where courts of law interfere in bargains which seem to them unfair or unreasonable. But they all arise out of the special relations of the parties, and it would take a volume to tell you what these may be. For more than twenty years, as I suppose every one knows who reads a newspaper, there has been known to the law no lawful rate of interest which it is punishable to exceed. I cannot imagine for what end you ask me the question. Lawyers do not make the law, be it good or bad; they follow it like policemen or soldiers who obey orders.

“I reserve what else I have to say. I am sure all that you write to me comes from you in the most friendly feeling, as believe me does from me all that I write to you. Your Fors fills me with melancholy each time I read it. For it reminds me how many of those to whom we might look to bring more order, patience, and faith into the world, are occupied in setting us against one another, in making us rebels against our fathers, and all that they have done for us and taught us.

“Ever gratefully and most sincerely yours,
Frederic Harrison.”

a. I believe there is no other friend, with whom I have had so brief opportunity of intercourse, whom I like so much as I do Mr. Harrison. What reproach this sentence is to me as an artist, I must submit to silently.

b. To ‘revile’ means, in accurate English, to vilify under the influence of passion. It is not an expression which my friend could have used, except thoughtlessly, of any words of mine, uttered of any person living. [239]

c. I do not ‘believe,’—I know, that the entire system of modern life is thus corrupted. But I have long learned to believe in God, without expecting Him to manage everything as I think proper; and I have no occasion for belief in effort, so long as I know the duty of it.

d. Where, and when?

e. The only word I have applied to Comte, in my whole letter, is “unique.” For the justice of which epithet I trusted my friend’s report of him. I have never read a word he has written,—never heard anything about him that interested me,—and never represented, or misrepresented, him, in any manner whatsoever. When I said ‘physiologists,’ I meant physiologists; and no more thought of Comte than of Adam.

f. I did not write to my friend as a ‘student of Positivism,’ for I have no idea what positivism means. I wrote to him as an assertor, in the paper I was reading, of the splendours of Evolution; and therefore ventured to imply, not that it was an impertinence, but an absurdity, in him to linger under the scholastic architecture dimly evolved from the superstition of Magdalen, when he might have disported himself under the commercial architecture more brightly evolved from the moral consciousness of Oriel.

g. Simply because I know a goose when I see one,—and when my friend has himself learned to know geese from swans, he will not think himself ‘entitled’ to call either anything else.

h. Mr. Harrison underlines the word ‘whole.’ I am bound, therefore, to italicize it. Whether my friend will, hereafter, thank me for so faithfully echoing his emphasis on this sentence, my respect for his general common sense makes very doubtful to me. I do not see anything requiring notice in the rest of the letter so far as it regards myself. I seldom flaunt my poor little ragged feathers in my friends’ faces; but must in simplicity [240]confess to my feeling that it is not necessary for the author of ‘Modern Painters’ to defend himself against the charge of uttering “indiscriminate abuse of all that the human race has now become;” nor for the author of ‘Sesame and Lilies,’ to receive lessons in courtesy to women, from modern Anglo-French chivalry, because he chooses to call a Cobbe, a Cobbe, no less plainly than a Plantagenet, a Plantagenet.

IV. “Pious Sentiment.—‘I wish to God we could get a good bloody war somewhere.’ It is not without reluctance that we reproduce these awful words, but they were literally spoken in our hearing in that most sober place of business, Mincing Lane, only a few hours ago. They were spoken by a merchant or broker of gentlemanly appearance and apparent respectability, in a public room, and the most melancholy incident in connection with the utterance is that the atrocious sentiment apparently created no surprise, and was met with no outburst of indignation. We say apparently, for we ourselves were greatly surprised,” (There is nothing whatever to be surprised at, except the frankness of the expression. Modern Liberal Protestantism has always held that you must not kill a man for his creed; but you may, for his money,) “and we felt burning indignation, but we controlled our feelings, and we hope others may have felt as we did, and had equally good reasons for silence. We are accused of taking a pessimist view of mercantile morality and mercantile activity. We commend the expressed wish of an English merchant, publicly expressed, in a public place, where merchants most do congregate, to consideration of those who differ from us in opinion, and we merely place the fact on record without further comment.”—Monetary Gazette, June 14th.

I reprint the paragraph for final illustration to Mr. Harrison of the ‘evolution’ of British character. I wish I had space for [241]some others which the courage of the editor of this excellent journal has exposed; or for the leading article in the same number, which is an admirably temperate and clear estimate of the real value of the work of Adam Smith.

V. Lastly, here is some most valuable evidence from the faithful old friend to whom I wrote, in ‘Time and Tide,’ of the increasing ‘wealth’ of England, which with the example given in the last extract of her increasing morality, may symmetrically close the summary of St. George’s designs, and their cause.

“Dear Sir,—I have read with deep and earnest attention the last small tract of Girdlestone. I feel its tremendous truth, and have long done so too; but there is now a very pressing matter I would like to see gone into, and if possible some remedy proposed for it. It is one I have written many times to you about: I mean the rent question for the poor, the working people. At the present there is a sad depressing trade all over our country, and even in Europe. Yet, despite this awful depression, I note what is termed real estate is now going up gradually in value. I mean property and land. And that in the midst of this very depression and want of all kinds of labour by our workpeople and manufacturers, and in the midst of a tremendous opposition from our foreign competitors; yet nowhere do I see it named in any of our papers in the way I expected to see it treated of: they all seem quite elated with the great advance that has taken place, and the continued activity of all our building trades. Now, it seems to me, here is a question of vital importance that needs some sound information given on it, and some reasons assigned for this strange change in the value of all such property, in a time of such widespread depression of all trade. How are our people and our manufacturers to pay increased rents when there is a depressed trade, [242]and no work for our workmen to do? Our town is now in a sad depressed state—work of all kinds very scarce; yet on all sides I learn the rents are being increased to workmen, manufacturers, and shopkeepers; and I note it also the case in other towns. I would like to see some good report as to the real extent of such advance of property in England. I find the advance in price of hotel, public-house, and such-like property has been something tremendous within these few years, since I wrote you my letters in ‘Time and Tide.’ To me it is something very sad to reflect upon this great change in the value or cost of a house to our workpeople. I find their food, such as butcher’s meat, potatoes, and vegetables, milk, and some other kinds of necessaries, are also increased in price, owing to this advance in rent. So that the outlook for our workpeople, despite all our wealth, is indeed not a very pleasant one, for how are they to tide over this storm with all these necessaries at such prices? I note in the papers the miners of the Forest of Dean in some places are starving. I send you a book:1 you can make any use of it you like. I have here and there marked its pages that I thought might serve in some measure to awaken an interest in this question of the workpeople, versus the rise in the value of their necessaries in dull times.

“Yours respectfully,
Thomas Dixon.”


1 ‘Threading My Way’—an excellent one. 



I find that the letter which I wrote in the Fors of May to those two children, generally pleases the parents and guardians of children. Several nice ones ask me to print it separately: I have done so; and commend it, to-day, to the attention of the parents and guardians also. For the gist of it is, that the children are told to give up all they have, and never to be vexed. That is the first Rule of St. George, as applied to children,—to hold their childish things for God, and never to mind losing anything.

But the parents and guardians are not yet, it seems to me, well aware that St. George’s law is the same for grown-up people as for little ones. To hold all they have,—all their grown-up things,—for God, and never to mind losing anything,—silver or gold, house or lands, son or daughter;—law seldom so much as even attempted to be observed! And, indeed, circumstances have changed, since I wrote that Fors, which have [244]caused me to consider much how curious it is that when good people lose their own son or daughter, even though they have reason to think, God has found what they have lost, they are greatly vexed about it: but if they only hear of other people’s losing their sons or daughters,—though they have reason to think God has not found them, but that the wild beasts of the wilderness have torn them,—for such loss they are usually not vexed in anywise. To-day, nevertheless, I am not concerned with the stewardship of these spirit-treasures, but only with the stewardship of money or lands, and proper manner of holding such by Christians. For it is important that the accepted Companions should now understand that although, in creed, I ask only so much consent as may include Christian, Jew, Turk, and Greek,—in conduct, the Society is to be regulated at least by the Law of Christ. It may be, that as we fix our laws in further detail, we may add some of the heavier yokes of Lycurgus, or Numa, or John the Baptist: and, though the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and turning water into wine, we may think it needful to try how some of us like living on locusts, or wild honey, or Spartan broth. But at least, I repeat, we are here, in England, to obey the law of Christ, if nothing more.

Now the law of Christ about money and other forms of personal wealth, is taught, first in parables, in which He likens himself to the masters of this world, and [245]explains the conduct which Christians should hold to Him, their heavenly Master, by that which they hold on earth, to earthly ones.

He likens himself, in these stories, several times, to unkind or unjust masters, and especially to hard and usurious ones. And the gist of the parables in each case is, “If ye do so, and are thus faithful to hard and cruel masters, in earthly things, how much more should ye be faithful to a merciful Master, in heavenly things?”

Which argument, evil-minded men wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction. And instead of reading, for instance, in the parable of the Usurer, the intended lesson of industry in the employment of God’s gifts, they read in it a justification of the crime which, in other parts of the same scripture, is directly forbidden. And there is indeed no doubt that, if the other prophetic parts of the Bible be true, these stories are so worded that they may be touchstones of the heart. They are nets, which sift the kindly reader from the selfish. The parable of the Usurer is like a mill sieve:—the fine flour falls through it, bolted finer; the chaff sticks in it.

Therefore, the only way to understand these difficult parts of the Bible, or even to approach them with safety, is first to read and obey the easy ones. Then the difficult ones all become beautiful and clear:—otherwise they remain venomous enigmas, with a Sphinx of [246]destruction provoking false souls to read them, and ruining them in their own replies.

Now the orders, “not to lay up treasures for ourselves on earth,” and to “sell that we have, and give alms,” and to “provide ourselves bags which wax not old,” are perfectly direct, unmistakable,—universal; and while we are not at all likely to be blamed by God for not imitating Him as a Judge, we shall assuredly be condemned by Him for not, under Judgment, doing as we were bid. But even if we do not feel able to obey these orders, if we must and will lay up treasures on earth, and provide ourselves bags with holes in them,—God may perhaps still, with scorn, permit us in our weakness, provided we are content with our earthly treasures, when we have got them, and don’t oppress our brethren, and grind down their souls with them. We may have our old bag about our neck, if we will, and go to heaven like beggars;—but if we sell our brother also, and put the price of his life in the bag, we need not think to enter the kingdom of God so loaded. A rich man may, though hardly, enter the kingdom of heaven without repenting him of his riches; but not the thief, without repenting his theft; nor the adulterer, without repenting his adultery; nor the usurer, without repenting his usury.

The nature of which last sin, let us now clearly understand, once for all.

Mr. Harrison’s letter, published in the Fors for June, [247]is perhaps no less valuable as an evidence of the subtlety with which this sin has seized upon and paralyzed the public mind, (so that even a man of Mr. Harrison’s general intelligence has no idea why I ask a question about it,) than as a clear statement of the present condition of the law, produced by the usurers who are ‘law-makers’ for England, though lawyers are not.

Usury is properly the taking of money for the loan or use of anything, (over and above what pays for wear and tear,) such use involving no care or labour on the part of the lender. It includes all investments of capital whatsoever, returning ‘dividends,’ as distinguished from labour wages, or profits. Thus anybody who works on a railroad as platelayer, or stoker, has a right to wages for his work; and any inspector of wheels or rails has a right to payment for such inspection; but idle persons who have only paid a hundred pounds towards the road-making, have a right to the return of the hundred pounds,—and no more. If they take a farthing more, they are usurers. They may take fifty pounds for two years, twenty-five for four, five for twenty, or one for a hundred. But the first farthing they take more than their hundred, be it sooner or later, is usury.

Again, when we build a house, and let it, we have a right to as much rent as will return us the wages of our labour, and the sum of our outlay. If, as in ordinary cases, not labouring with our hands or head, [248]we have simply paid—say £1000—to get the house built, we have a right to the £1000 back again at once, if we sell it; or, if we let it, to £500 rent during two years, or £100 rent during ten years, or £10 rent during a hundred years. But if, sooner or later, we take a pound more than the thousand, we are usurers.

And thus in all other possible or conceivable cases, the moment our capital is ‘increased’ by having lent it, be it but in the estimation of a hair, that hair’s-breadth of increase is usury, just as much as stealing a farthing is theft, no less than stealing a million.

But usury is worse than theft, in so far as it is obtained either by deceiving people, or distressing them; generally by both: and finally by deceiving the usurer himself, who comes to think that usury is a real increase, and that money can grow of money; whereas all usury is increase to one person only by decrease to another; and every grain of calculated Increment to the Rich, is balanced by its mathematical equivalent of Decrement to the Poor. The Rich have hitherto only counted their gain; but the day is coming, when the Poor will also count their loss,—with political results hitherto unparalleled.

For instance, my good old hairdresser at Camberwell came to me the other day, very uncomfortable about his rent. He wanted a pound or two to make it up; and none of his customers wanted their hair cut. I gave him the pound or two,—with the result, I [249]hope my readers have sagacity enough to observe, of distinct decrement to me, as increment to the landlord; and then inquired of him, how much he had paid for rent, during his life. On rough calculation, the total sum proved to be between 1500 and 1700 pounds. And after paying this sum,—earned, shilling by shilling, with careful snippings, and studiously skilful manipulation of tongs,—here is my poor old friend, now past sixty, practically without a roof over his head;—just as roofless in his old age as he was in the first days of life,—and nervously wandering about Peckham Rye and East Norwood, in the east winter winds, to see if, perchance, any old customers will buy some balm for their thinning locks—and give him the blessed balm of an odd half-crown or two, to rent shelter for his own, for three months more.

Now, supposing that £1500 of his had been properly laid out, on the edification of lodgings for him, £500 should have built him a serviceable tenement and shop; another £500 have met the necessary repairing expenses for forty years; and at this moment he ought to have had his efficient freehold cottage, with tile and wall right weatherproof, and a nice little nest-egg of five hundred pounds in the Bank, besides. But instead of this, the thousand pounds has gone in payment to slovenly builders, each getting their own percentage, and doing as bad work as possible, under the direction of landlords paying for as little as possible [250]of any sort of work. And the odd five hundred has gone into the landlord’s pocket. Pure increment to him; pure decrement to my decoratively laborious friend. No gain ‘begotten’ of money; but simple subtraction from the pocket of the labouring person, and simple addition to the pocket of the idle one.

I have no mind to waste the space of Fors in giving variety of instances. Any honest and sensible reader, if he chooses, can think out the truth in such matters for himself. If he be dishonest, or foolish, no one can teach him. If he is resolved to find reason or excuse for things as they are, he may find refuge in one lie after another; and, dislodged from each in turn, fly from the last back to the one he began with. But there will not long be need for debate—nor time for it. Not all the lying lips of commercial Europe can much longer deceive the people in their rapidly increasing distress, nor arrest their straight battle with the cause of it. Through what confused noise and garments rolled in blood,—through what burning and fuel of fire, they will work out their victory,—God only knows, nor what they will do to Barabbas, when they have found out that he is a Robber, and not a King. But that discovery of his character and capacity draws very near: and no less change in the world’s ways than the former fall of Feudalism itself.

In the meantime, for those of us who are Christians, our own way is plain. We can with perfect ease ascertain [251]what usury is; and in what express terms forbidden. I had partly prepared, for this Fors, and am able to give, as soon as needful, an analysis of the terms ‘Increase’ and ‘Usury’ throughout the Old and New Testaments. But the perpetual confusion of the English terms when the Greek and Latin are clear, (especially by using the word ‘increase’ in one place, and ‘generation’ in another, at the English translator’s pleasure,) renders the matter too intricate for the general reader, though intensely interesting to any honest scholar. I content myself, therefore, with giving the plain Greek and plain English of Leviticus xxv. 35 to 37.1

Ἐὰν δὲ πένηται ὁ ἀδελφός σου, καὶ ἀδυνατήσῃ ταῖς χερσὶν αὐτοῦ παρὰ σοὶ, ἀντιλήψῃ αὐτοῦ ὡς προσηλύτου καὶ παροίκου, καὶ ζήσεται ὁ ἀδελφός σου μετὰ σοῦ.

Οὐ λήψῃ παρ’ αὐτοῦ τόκον, οὐδὲ ἐπὶ πλήθει, καὶ φοβηθήσῃ τὸν θεόν σου· ἐγὼ κύριος· καὶ ζήσεται ὀ ἀδελφός σου μετὰ σοῦ.

Τὸ ἀργύριόν σου οὐ δώσεις αὐτῷ τόκῳ, καὶ ἐπὶ πλεονασμῷ οὐ δώσεις αὐτῲ βρώματά σου·

“And if thy brother be poor, and powerless with his hands, at thy side, thou shalt take his part upon thee, to help him,2 as thy proselyte and thy neighbour; [252]and thy brother shall live with thee. Thou shalt take no usury of him, nor anything over and above, and thou shalt fear thy God. I am the Lord, and thy brother shall live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money, for usury; and thou shalt not give him thy food, for increase.”

There is the simple law for all of us;—one of those which Christ assuredly came not to destroy, but to fulfil: and there is no national prosperity to be had but in obedience to it.

How we usurers are to live, with the hope of our gains gone, is precisely the old temple of Diana question. How Robin Hood or Cœur de Lion were to live without arrow or axe, would have been as strange a question to them, in their day. And there are many amiable persons who will not directly see their way, any more than I do myself, to an honest life; only, let us be sure that this we are leading now is a dishonest one; and worse, (if Dante and Shakspeare’s mind on the matter are worth any heed, of which more in due time,) being neither more nor less than a spiritual manner of cannibalism, which, so long as we persist in, every word spoken in Scripture of those who “eat my people as they eat bread,” is spoken directly of us.3 It may be an encouragement to some [253]of us—especially those evangelically bred—in weaning ourselves slowly from such habits, to think of our dear old converted friend, Friday. We need not fear our power of becoming good Christians yet, if we will: so only that we understand, finally and utterly, that all gain, increase, interest, or whatever else you call it or think it, to the lender of capital, is loss, decrease, and dis-interest, to the borrower of capital. Every farthing we, who lend the tool, make, the borrower of the tool loses. And all the idiotical calculations of what money comes to, in so many years, simply ignore the debit side of the book, on which the Labourer’s Deficit is precisely equal to the Capitalist’s Efficit. I saw an estimate made by some blockhead in an American paper, the other day, of the weight of gold which a hundred years’ ‘interest’ on such and such funds would load the earth with! Not even of wealth in that solid form, could the poor wretch perceive so much of the truth as that the gold he put on the earth above, he must dig out of the earth below! But the mischief in real life is far deeper on the [254]negative side, than the good on the positive. The debt of the borrower loads his heart, cramps his hands, and dulls his labour. The gain of the lender hardens his heart, fouls his brain, and puts every means of mischief into his otherwise clumsy and artless hands.

But here, in good time, is one example of honest living sent me, worth taking grave note of.

In my first inaugural lecture on Art at Oxford, given in the theatre, (full crowded to hear what first words might be uttered in the University on so unheard-of a subject,) I closed by telling my audience—to the amusement of some, the offence of others, and the disapproval of all,—that the entire system of their art-studies must be regulated with a view to the primal art, which many of them would soon have to learn, that of getting their food out of the Ground, or out of the Sea.

Time has worn on; and, last year, a Christ-Church man, an excellent scholar, came to talk with me over his brother’s prospects in life, and his own. For himself, he proposed, and very earnestly, considering his youth and gifts, (lying, as far as I could judge, more towards the rifle-ground than in other directions,) to go into the Church: but for his brother, he was anxious, as were all his relatives;—said brother having broken away from such modes of living as the relatives held orthodox, and taken to catching and potting of salmon on the Columbia River; having farther transgressed all the proprieties of civilized society by providing himself violently with the [255]‘capital’ necessary for setting up in that line of business, and ‘stealing a boat.’ How many boats, with nine boilers each in them, the gentlemen of Her Majesty’s navy construct annually with money violently abstracted out of my poor pockets, and those of other peaceful labourers,—boats not to catch salmon with, or any other good thing, but simply to amuse themselves, and blow up stokers with,—civilized society may perhaps in time learn to consider. In the meantime, I consoled my young St. Peter as well as I could for his brother’s carnal falling away; represented to him that, without occasional fishing for salmon, there would soon be no men left to fish for; and that even this tremendous violation of the eighth commandment, to the extent of the abstraction of a boat, might not perchance, with due penitence, keep the young vagabond wholly hopeless of Paradise; my own private opinion being that the British public would, on the whole, benefit more by the proceedings of the young pirate, if he provided them annually with a sufficient quantity of potted salmon, than by the conscientious, but more costly, ministry of his brother, who, provided with the larger boat-apparatus of a nave, and the mast of a steeple, proposed to employ this naval capital only in the provision of potted talk.

And finding that, in spite of the opinion of society, there were still bowels of mercies in this good youth, yearning after his brother, I got him to copy for me some of the brother’s letters from the Columbia River, [256]confessing his piratical proceedings, (as to which I, for one, give him a Christian man’s absolution without more ado;) and account of his farther life in those parts—life which appears to me, on the whole, so brave, exemplary, and wise, that I print the letters as chief article of this month’s correspondence; and I am going to ask the boy to become a Companion of St. George forthwith, and send him a collar of the Order, (as soon as we have got gold to make collars of,) with a little special pictorial chasing upon it, representing the Miraculous Draught of Fishes. [257]


I. Affairs of the Master.

£ s. d.
Balance, June 16 765 19 1
By cash, (rents, etc.,) May and June 180 11 8
946 10 9
328 19 6
Balance, July 16 £617 11 3
June 25. Downs 16 0 0
July 1. St. George Secretary 25 0 0
July,, 1.,, Raffaelle, July and August 15 0 0
July,, 1.,, Gift to poor relation, annual 50 0 0
6. Johns, Camberwell, Bookseller 17 19 6
7. Jackson 40 0 0
7. Joseph Slya 40 0 0
8. Crawley 30 0 0
11. To Assisib 45 0 0
11. Selfc 50 0 0
£328 19 6

a Carriage expenses, of which the out-of-the-wayness of Brantwood incurs many, from April 6th to June 19th. 

b Twenty pounds more than usual, the monks being in distress there. 

c I shall take a fit of selfish account-giving, one of these days, but have neither time nor space this month. 

II. Affairs of the Company.

I have no subscriptions to announce. My friends send me occasional letters inquiring how I do, and what I am doing. Like Mr. Toots, I am very well, I thank them; and they can [258]easily find out what I am doing, and help me, if they like; and if not, I don’t care to be asked questions. The subjoined account gives the detail of Sheffield Museum expenses to end of June. I am working hard at the catalogue of its mineral collection; and the forthcoming number of ‘Deucalion’ will give account of its proposed arrangement. But things go slowly when one has so many in hand, not only because of the actual brevity of time allowable for each, but because, of that short time, much is wasted in recovering the threads of the work.


Dr. £ s. d.
April 1. To Balance in hand 21 3 3
May 9. To,, J. Ruskin, by cheque 55 15 3
£76 18 6
Cr. Current Expenses. £ s. d.
April 26. By H. Swan, (salary) 10 0 0
May 2. By,, Watch Rate 0 5 0
By,, Poor Rate 0 10 0
17. By,, Water Rate 0 5 8
By,, Gas 0 13 3
June 29. By,, Rate on New Land Allotment 0 2 3
—————— 11 16 2
Repairs and Fittings.
April 15. By J. Smith, for making paths 1 19 3
26. By,, J. Ashton, brass taps 0 3 9
By,, S. Bower, card mounts 0 3 10
By,, Walter Nield, cases 5 10 0
By,, J. Smith, paths 1 14 10
May 12. By,, Sheffield Water Works—repairs. 0 5 8
13. By,, Silicate Paint Co. 2 0 9
By,, J. Smith 1 3 8
19. By,, Mr. Bell, for applying silicate 0 15 0
June 4. By,, Mr. Aitken, fixtures, etc., pertaining to the two cottages 1 0 0
26. By,, C. Collingwood, materials for paths 5 4 0
29. By,, G. H. Hovey, floor-cloth 4 11 0
Petty expenses 1 13 5
—————— 26 5 2
Balance in hand 38 17 2
July 20, 1876. Examined and found correct, E. Rydings. £76 18 6


III. I give the following letters without changing a syllable; never were any written with less view to literary fame, and their extreme value consists precisely in their expression of the spirit and force of character which still happily exists in English youth:—

“I hope you flourish still on this terrestrial sphere. I have been watching my chance to hook it for a long time: however, I may get a chance to-morrow. If I do, I will write and let you know immediately. This is a nice country, only there are a great deal too many trees. We have been up to Portland, and are now down at Astoria again, waiting for 250 tons more cargo, and the ship will proceed to Queenstown for orders, so that if I do go home in her, I shall not get home till about, the month of August. There was a bark wrecked here the other night, and the crew spent a night in the rigging; hard frost on, too. We have had snow, ice, frost, and rain in great abundance. The salmon are just beginning here, and are so cheap and fresh. I am steward now, as the other steward has run away.”

*   *   *

“I have just started another business, and knocked off going to sea: yours truly is now going in for salmon fishing. I had quite enough of it, and the ship would have been very unpleasant, because she was very deep, and I think short-handed.

“One night five figures without shoes on (time 1 a.m.) might be seen gliding along the decks, carrying a dingy. We launched her over the side, and put our clothes, provisions, etc., in her, and effected as neat a clear as one could wish to see. We had been watching our chances for the last week or so, but were always baffled by the vigilance of the third mate: however, I happened to hear [260]that he and the boatswain had also arranged to clear, so we all joined together. We were to call the boatswain at twelve o’clock: the third mate and all of us had our clothes up on deck, and the boatswain backed out of it, and the third mate said he wouldn’t go; but it would have been impossible for him to go in the ship, for all must have come out” [gentle persuasion, employed on boatswain, given no account of]. “We started: favoured by the tide, we pulled fifteen miles to the opposite shore; concealed the boat, had breakfast, and slept. At twelve that night we started again, and went oh a sandbank; got off again, and found a snug place in the bush. We hauled the boat up, and built a house, and lay there over a fortnight, happy and comfortable. At last the ship sailed, and we got to work.… We live like princes, on salmon, pastry, game, etc. These fishermen take as many as 250 (highest catch) in one boat in a night. I suppose there are about five hundred boats out every night; and the fish weigh” [up to sixty pounds—by corrections from next letter], “and for each fish they get 10d.—twenty cents. They sell them to canneries, where they are tinned, or salt them themselves. They pay two men a boat from £8 10s. a month. If I can raise coin for a boat and net (£100), I shall make money hand over fist. Land is 10s. an acre: up-country it is cheaper.”

*   *   *

Care of Captain Hodge, Hog’em, Brookfield.

“I am now in pretty steady work, and very snug. All the past week I have been helping Hodge build a house, all of wood; and every morning I sail a boatful of fish up to the cannery, so altogether it is not bad fun. I am getting four pounds a months and if the fishing season is prosperous, I am to get more. A sixty pound salmon is considered a very big one. There is a small stream runs at the back of the house, wherein small trout [261]do abound.… I shall catch some. The houses here generally are about a mile apart, but the one Tom works at is alongside. It is pretty cold of a night-time, but we have a roaring fire. You are not allowed to shoot game during the next three months, but after that you can: there are plenty of grouse, pheasants, ducks, geese, elk, deer, bears, and all sorts, so perhaps I shall do a little of that. There are some splendid trees about, some of which are 10 feet thick, from 100 to 200 feet high, and as straight as an arrow. Some Indians live at the back of us,—civilized, of course: the men work in the boats: some of the squaws have got splendid bracelets; whether they are made of gold or brass I don’t know. It rains here all the winter, and the moss grows on the people’s backs: up around Portland they are called webfeet. There is a train runs from Portland to San Francisco every day. Tom is with a very nice old fellow, who is very fond of him, and gave him a new pair of india-rubber thigh boots the other day, which I consider to be very respectable of him.

“The boats go out of a night-time mostly; they have a little store on board, and we have coffee, cake, and bread and butter, whenever we feel so disposed.”

*   *   *

“In the first place, I will describe all hands belonging to this shanty. Captain Hodge is a man characteristically lovely, resembling Fagin the Jew whilst he is looking for Oliver Twist. Still he is honest—and honest men are scarce: if he is a rum’un to look at, he is a d—l to go. He has a cat whom he addresses in the following strain: ‘It was a bully little dog, you bet it was: it had a handle to it, you bet it had: it was fond of fresh meat, you bet it was.’ The next one is Jem the cook: he is a Chinaman, and holds very long and interesting conversations with me, but as I have not the slightest idea of what they are about, I cannot tell you the details. Then comes Swiggler, who is an old [262]married wretch, and says he is a grandson of a German Count. One or two more of less note, the dog Pompey, and myself.

“I can keep myself in clothes and food, but I can’t start to make money, under £100.

“So F—— will come for £10 a month, will he? He could make that anywhere while the fishing season lasts, but that is only three months; and this is rather a cold, wet climate. I have had my first shot at a bear, and missed him, as it was pretty dark: they are common here, and we see one every day—great big black fellows—about a hundred yards from the house: they come down to eat salmon heads.

“I met an old ‘Worcester’ friend, who had run away from his ship, the other day in Astoria: he was going home overland.

“Hodge offers to board me free all the winter, but as friend Hodge says he can’t afford wages, I’ll see friend Hodge a long way off.

“I am very well and contented, and shall be about a hundred dollars in pocket at the end of the season.”

*   *   *

“We expect the fishing season to last about a fortnight or three weeks more. Tom and I got some old net from Hodge, and went out fishing: we caught about six salmon the first night, for which we got 4s. We went out again on Saturday, and caught eighteen, for which we got 9s. 3d., and as that is extra money we profit a little. There are plenty of bears knocking around here, and Tom and I got a boat and went out one night. We don’t have to go more than two hundred yards from the house. About dusk, out comes old Bruin. I was very much excited, and Tom fired first, and did not hit him; then I had a running shot, and did not hit him either. He has taken a sack of salmon heads, which I put out for a bait, right away to his den, and I have not seen [263]him since. However—the time will come, and when it does, let him look well to himself.

“Did you ever taste sturgeon? I don’t remember ever having any in the ‘old country,’ but it’s very nice.

“Hodge has a fisherman who has caught over eight hundred fish in the last seven nights; he gets 10d. per fish, so he is making money hand over fist.

“I have not decided on any particular plans for the winter, but shall get along somehow.

“Send me any old papers you can, and write lots of times.”

*   *   *

“The last fortnight we have been very busy salting and taking salmon to the cannery. I have been out four times with Hodge, whom I call Bill, and the first drift we got twenty-eight; second, twenty-eight; third and fourth, thirty-one.

“I like this sort of business very well, and am quite contented.

“I wish you would send me out some English newspapers now and then—‘Illustrated London News,’ ‘Graphics,’ etc. It does not much matter if they are not quite new.

“The people out here are a rough lot, but a very goodnatured sort. Hodge has got a nice piece of ground which he intends to cultivate: he put some potatoes in early last year, and has not looked at them since. However, I am to be put on to work there for a bit, and I’ll bet my crop will beat yours.

“There are wild cherries and strawberries growing in the woods, but of course they are not ripe yet.

“My idea was, or is, to stop till I raise money enough to come home and get a farm, which I am able to do in two, three, or four years.”

*   *   *


Alder Point (so called because we’re ‘all dere’),

“I have been paid off now about a month. I received fifty-one dollars (a dollar equals 4s. 2d.), and a present of a pair of gum boots, which every one said was low wages. Tom had fifty, and Jackson a hundred and fourteen dollars. We combined these, and bought a fishing boat for ninety dollars, and sail for five more. We then set about to find a land agent; but they are scarce, so we didn’t find one. Then we went down to the sawmills, and bought 2094 feet of assorted lumber. I can’t tell how they measure this lumber; but our house is 24 feet by 16½, with walls 9 feet high, and a roof about 8 feet slope. The lumber cost twenty-eight dollars; hammer, nails, etc., about fifteen dollars. We then chose a spot close to a stream, and built our house. It’s built very well, considering none of us ever built a house before. It is roofed with shingles—i.e., pieces of wood 3 feet by ½ foot, and very thin; they cost seven dollars per 1000. Our house is divided into two rooms—a bedroom, containing a big fireplace and three bunks; and in the other room we grub, etc. At the back of the house we have the sword of Damocles, a tree which has fallen, and rests on its stump, and we know not at what hour he may fall. In the front we have the Siamese twins, a tree about 200 feet high, with another tree, about 100 feet, growing out of him. Nothing but trees all around us, and the nearest house is two miles away.”

*   *   *

The Alder Point Mansion.

“I have now shifted my quarters, and am living in my own house, built of rough wood, in the woods on the bank of the river, and free from ornament save ‘Sweet Seventeen’ and ‘The Last Days in Old England,’ which I have framed and hung up. [265]

“I am now, to use the words of the poet, ‘head cook and bottle-washer, chief of all the waiters,’ in my own house. It stands in its own grounds—for a simple reason, it couldn’t stand in anybody else’s. It has an elevated appearance,—that is, it looks slightly drunk, for we built it ourselves, and my architectural bump is not very largely developed. Our floor is all of a cant, but Tom settled that difficulty by saying we were to imagine ourselves at sea, and the ship lying over slightly.

“I am very poor,—have not had a red cent for some time; spent it all on the house, boat, etc. We have got grub to last us a month and a half, and ‘what will poor Hally do then, poor thing?’ Probably bust up and retire. I can’t help envying you occasionally. I am a rare cad in appearance; an old blue shirt is my uniform. We live principally on bread and butter and coffee, sometimes varied by coffee and butter and bread. I have made a dresser, and we have six knives, forks, teaspoons, plates, cups and saucers, three big spoons, a kettle, frying-pan, and camp oven, also a condensed sewing machine, which some people call ‘needles.’ ”

*   *   *

“Our house was invaded by wasps the other day for our sugar. I accordingly rigged myself up in shirts, etc., to look something like a man in a diving suit, and went and seized the sugar and put it in the chimney, and then fled for dear life. Whilst I was gone the sugar caught fire, and about forty pounds were burnt, and the chimney also was nearly burned down. Tom and I and hot water then slaughtered about four hundred wasps, but that don’t sweeten the coffee.

“I have just been building a slip to haul our boat up on, as it blows very stiff here in the winter, and there is a good sea in consequence. Tom and I have been bathing this week or so, but the water is cold. We see one mountain from here [266]on whose summit there is snow all the year round. It’s rather monotonous living here; we see no one for days together. I heard there were two bears below here, so at about nine o’clock one night I started in the canoe. The river was smooth as glass, and it was a glorious night; and I guess Bruin thought so too, for he didn’t give me a sight of him. Ducks are beginning to show round here, but my gun, which is a United States musket, don’t do much execution. It is dark here about half-past five or six in the evening, so I don’t know what our allowance of daylight will be in the winter.

“I remain yours, etc.”

*   *   *

“Thus far yours truly is progressing favourably. My latest achievement is in the lifeboat line, which you will hear of, no doubt, from other sources. The bears have all retired for the winter, which shows Bruin’s sense. To-morrow I’m going to work up at Brookfield, clearing land. I shall probably work there three weeks, and then—well, I mean to go to Portland, and work till Christmas.

“Supper is now ready:—

Poisson. Légumes.
Salmon heads and potatoes.

Potatoes and heads of salmon.

Pièce de resistance.
Salmon heads and spuds.

Bread surmounted with butter.

(Note.—You can’t manage the bread without ¾ inch of grease, called for decency’s sake ‘butter.’)

Café avec beaucoup de chicorée.

Finish off.
A smoke. [267]

“Having digested supper, and trimmed the yeast powder tin with lard in it for a lamp, I resume. The sport going on here at this time of the year is sturgeon fishing, with lines a fathom or so, and any number of hooks. The sturgeon run very big: I have seen one that measured eight feet from stem to stern. In the spring there are swarms of smelts; you take them with a net the size of a landing-net, with small meshes. There is good elk shooting, and deer away back in the woods; but you must go after them for about a week, and that is poor fun in this sort of weather. We got one of our big trees down the other day with a big auger: you bore two holes in the tree, stick a live piece of charcoal in it, and blow like mad, and the tree will catch, and in a few days he’ll burn and fall. Very interesting, but it fills up.”

*   *   *

“It’s some time since you last had a letter, and I guess you deserve this. Tom and I are both all right, and the other man, Jackson, is, I think, going home. Since I wrote last the rainy season has commenced, and at times it blows like my namesake ‘Old Harry.’

“During a heavy squall some days ago, when Tom and I were returning from Brookfield, a boat about three-quarters of a mile behind us capsized, and a man and boy who were in her managed to climb on to her bottom. Tom and I bore away and picked them up, and they were truly grateful—not without cause, for, but for our assistance, they must have lost their lives.

“The man was * * *, who has lots of money, but he hasn’t given us any. Perhaps he saw the necessity of our saving him,—made a virtue of a necessity, and virtue is its own reward. So much for my new ten shilling hat, lost in the rescue.

“I am in with all that’s going on in London and England, [268]for I get lots of papers, and as soon as I have done with them they are in great request all along the river. A boat has just called here, and John Elliot, a New Brunswick man, was grateful for a ‘Graphic.’

“The ‘London News’ has just come to hand,—the ‘Prince’s visit to India’ edition,—and is certainly quite a furore amongst the boys. On Tuesday night there was a hurricane here: it blew a great deal of the cannery down, and the place presents the appearance of a wreck. The house was swaying to and fro, and all hands had to leave for their lives. It nearly blew a man 6 ft. 3 in. off the wharf, and everybody was crawling on their hands and knees. Great trees were rooted up by hundreds: and at the next cannery above this, the owner had just left his house and gone to play a game of cards, when a tree came down on his house and smashed it into many pieces.

“I am working here clearing land: I don’t work when it rains, so I get about four days a week to myself. However, this week has been an exception, for we have had three fine days. Snowed thick last week: weather cold and bracing. Am getting one dollar fifteen cents a day’s work, but am living up to it.”

*   *   *

“You doubtless think I am quite uncivilized: however, whilst I am writing a cat is purring on my knees, if that is any evidence of civilization.

“To-morrow I am going out to work for about three weeks, clearing away bush for a Swede. I shall ask a dollar a day, but I don’t expect it. I may add, necessity alone compels me to take this step, as I am beginning to forget what a dollar is like, it is so long since I had one. I am heavy on the axe: I cut down five trees to-day, and the trees out here are by no means small. A troop of five wild-ducks came round here on Saturday, [269]so I loaded my old musket and let rip into the middle of them: singular to relate, they all swam away. Then occurred one of the most vigorous pursuits the human eye has ever witnessed. Hungry H. H. H. v. the ducks. I broke three paddles and my own nose, and then they escaped. However, one white one was sighted, and in the evening the old mud-stick (i.e. musket) was again prepared, and next day we ate wild-duck for dinner.

“On the whole, I like this much better than being on the ship, and I don’t think I shall come home for two or three years.

“I am rigging a model of a ship, and I am not unhandy at it, and I calculate it will fetch me twenty dollars.”

*   *   *

“I will begin by wishing the house a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, if so be it is not too late. We had a quiet Christmas Day with our select few. We were going to have a deer hunt, but the weather, which made a regular old-fashioned Christmas, stopped us. We had a good dinner, but no turkey or sausages. There is a strange old character stopping here, an ex-prizefighter, and in the evening he gave us a short sermon on the Star in the East, and asked us if we remembered Christmas Eve 1800 years ago. He then gave us a step-dance, so as not to dwell too long on one subject. Italian Sam gives a dance on New Year’s night, and I may go.

“I got my discharge from Megler on Tuesday week, after putting in 25½ days’ work since November 1, in consequence of bad weather, for which I had the large sum of 0 to take, being one dollar in debt. However, I struck a job right away, which is pretty stiff work—cutting cord-wood, making one dollar a day and board. Cord-wood is a pile of wood eight feet long, four high, and four broad, about one foot thick, and it is [270]pretty hard work swinging a heavy oaken maul all day long, splitting the wood with wedges. But it’s good for the muscle. Goodbye.”

*   *   *

“It’s about a month since I last wrote to you; I had no writing-paper, and no coin to buy any; however, Oleson paying up enabled me to lay in a stock. The rainy, blowy, galy season has set in, and it is pretty miserable down here. We had a heavy gale the other day, but did not suffer any damage, though many people predicted we should lose our boat; but the gale is over, and the boat is still there, so that it shows public opinion may sometimes err. We were scared lest some of the big trees should come down, but they did not. If you could spare Gladstone for a bit, I would board him free, and he could wire in all round here free gratis for nothing. After the gale, the next day looked fine, so Tom and I (a puff of wind just came, and I thought the house would succumb, but no! it holds its own) went up to Brookfield. Coming back, there were lots of squalls; I was steering, and we saw one coming, so shortened sail: the boat was nearly capsized, and we had to take out the mast and let it rig, and so saved ourselves. There was a boat behind us, and we were watching her as the squall passed up: they shortened sail and tried to run before the wind to Brookfield, but—over she went. So Tom and I made all haste to save the crew. She was about three-quarters of a mile off, so we up sail and ran down for her. The crew, * * * and a boy, were sitting on the bottom of the boat white as ghosts. We took them aboard, picked up his oars and rudder, and then took them ashore to a house where we all got dry clothes and something to eat. They certainly owed their lives to us, and it was very lucky we saw them, for they must otherwise have perished. I lost [271]a new 10s. hat in the rescue. * * * has lots of money; but he has offered us none, yet. Perhaps, as he saw that we must of necessity save him, he made a virtue of a necessity, and virtue they say is its own reward. So much for my new hat.”

IV. I beg all my readers who can afford it, to buy ‘Threading my Way,’ by Robert Dale Owen, (Trübner, 1874). It is full of interest throughout; but I wish my Companions to read with extreme care pages 6 to 14, in which they will find account of the first establishment of cotton industry in these islands; 101 to 104, where they will find the effect of that and other manufacturing industries on the humanities of life; and 215 to 221, where they will find the real statistics of that increased wealth of which we hear so constant and confident boasting.

V.—Part of letter from an honest correspondent expressing difficulties which will occur to many:—

“I thank you for what you say about the wickedness of ‘taking interest’ consisting in the cruelty of making a profit out of the distresses of others. And much of the modern spirit of looking for bargains, and buying in the cheapest market, is precisely the same. But is there not a radical moral difference between such deliberate heartlessness, and simply receiving interest from an ordinary investment? Surely it is very important that this matter should be made clear.”

The difference between deliberate and undeliberate heartlessness;—between being intelligently cruel, with sight of the victim, and stupidly cruel, with the interval of several walls, some months, and aid and abetting from many other equally cruel persons, between him and us, is for God to judge; not for me. But it is very important that this matter should be made clear, and my correspondent’s question, entirely clarified, will stand thus: [272]

“If I persist in extracting money from the poor by torture, but keep myself carefully out of hearing of their unpleasant cries, and carefully ignorant of the arrangements of mechanism which enable me, by turning an easy handle, to effect the compression of their bones at that luxurious distance, am I not innocent?” Question which I believe my correspondent quite capable of answering for himself.

VI.—Part of a letter from my nice goddaughter:—

“I want to tell you about an old woman we sometimes go to see here” (Brighton), “who was ninety-one yesterday. She lived in service till her health failed, and since then she has had her own little room, which is always exquisitely clean and neat. The bed-hangings and chair-covers are all of white dimity, embroidered by her in patterns of her own designing, with the ravellings of old carpets. She has made herself two sets. Her carpet is made in the same way, on coarse holland covered close with embroidery, which, as she says proudly, never wears out. She is still able to work, though her arrangement of colours isn’t quite as good as it used to be. The contrast came into my mind between work like that, and something I was told the other day,4—that it takes a workwoman a week to make one inch of the finest Valenciennes lace, and that she has to do it, sitting in a dark cellar, with the light only admitted through a narrow slit, to concentrate it on the work. It’s enough to make one give up wearing Valenciennes at all!”

This last piece of impassioned young lady’s English, translated into unimpassioned old gentleman’s English, means, I suppose, that “it is very shocking, but not at all enough to make one give up wearing Valenciennes.” Nor should it be. But it [273]should be quite enough to make one inquire into the matter; ascertain with what degree of fineness lace can be made in the open daylight and fresh air of France; request some benevolent lady friend, who has nothing else to do, to undertake the sale of such lace, with due Episcopal superintendence of the relieved workers; and buy one’s lace only from this benevolent lady-Bishop. [275]

1 The twenty-third verse of the same chapter is to be the shield-legend of the St. George’s Company. 

2 Meaning, to do his work instead of him. Compare Acts xx. 35. “I have showed you all things, how that, so labouring, ye ought to support the weak.” 

3 Dear Mr. Ruskin, 8th July, 1876.

I see that you intend to speak on the question of usury in next Fors. Would it not be well, since the Bishops of the Established Church have not a [253]word to offer in defence of their conduct, to appeal to some of the other sects that profess to take the teaching of the Bible and of Christ for their guidance? The Wesleyans, for instance, teach that the Bible was given almost verbally by the Spirit of God; and John Wesley says his followers are “to die sooner than put anything in pawn, or borrow and lend on usury.” Perhaps if you were to challenge the President and Conference, and call on them either to state that they do not accept the teaching of Moses, David, and Christ on this matter, or to bring the sin clearly before the minds of the members of their body, you might force the question on the attention of the professedly religious persons in the country.

A Reader of Fors. 

4 Please, some one, tell me if this something be true, or how far true. 



I have just been down to Barmouth to see the tenants on the first bit of ground,—noble crystalline rock, I am thankful to say,—possessed by St. George in the island.

I find the rain coming through roofs, and the wind through walls, more than I think proper, and have ordered repairs; and for some time to come, the little rents of these cottages will be spent entirely in the bettering of them, or in extending some garden ground, fenced with furze hedge against the west wind by the most ingenious of our tenants.

And in connection with this first—however small—beginning under my own eyes of St. George’s work,—(already some repairs had been made by my direction, under the superintendence of the donor of the land, Mrs. Talbot, before I could go to see the place)—I must state again clearly our St. George’s principle of rent. It is taken first as the acknowledgment [276]of the authority of the Society over the land, and in the amount judged by the Master to be just, according to the circumstances of the person and place, for the tenant to pay as a contribution to the funds of the Society. The tenant has no claim to the return of the rent in improvements on his ground or his house; and I order the repairs at Barmouth as part of the Company’s general action, not as return of the rent to the tenant. The reader will thus see that our so-called ‘rents’ are in fact taxes laid on the tenants for the advancement of the work of the Company. And all so-called rents are, in like manner, taxes laid on the labourer for the advancement of the work of his landlord. If that work be beneficial, on the whole, to the estate, and of all who live on it, the rents are on a right footing; but if they are abstracted by the landlord to his own private uses, he is merely another form of the old mediæval Knight of Evilstone, living as hawk in eyrie.

It chanced, while I set this work on foot at Barmouth, that a paragraph was sent me out of a Carlisle paper, giving the information that all Lord Lonsdale’s tenants have received notice to quit, that the farms might be re-valued. I requested my correspondent to ascertain for me the manner of the holdings on Lord Lonsdale’s estates;—his reply is the third article in our correspondence this month, and I beg to recommend it to the reader’s most earnest attention. What it says of [277]rents, with the exception indicated in my note, is right; and cannot be more tersely or clearly expressed. What it says of ground-produce is only partially right. To discover another America at our own doors would not be any advantage to us;—nor even to make England bigger. We have no business to want England to be bigger, any more than the world to be bigger. The question is not, for us, how much land God ought to have given us; but to fill the land He has given us, with the wisest and best inhabitants we can. I could give a plan, if I chose, with great ease, for the maintenance of a greatly increased quantity of inhabitants, on iron scaffolding, by pulverizing our mountains, and strewing the duly pulverized and, by wise medical geology, drugged, materials, over the upper stages; carrying on our present ingenious manufactures in the dark lower stories. But the arrangement, even if it could be at once achieved, would be of no advantage to England.

Whereas St. George’s arrangements, which are to take the hills, streams, and fields that God has made for us; to keep them as lovely, pure, and orderly as we can;1 to gather their carefully cultivated fruit in due season; and if our children then multiply so that we cannot feed them, to seek other lands to cultivate in like manner,—these arrangements, I repeat, will be found [278]very advantageous indeed, as they always have been; wheresoever even in any minor degree enforced. In some happy countries they have been so, many a long year already; and the following letter from a recent traveller in one of them, may further illustrate the description given in a Fors of early date, of the felicity verily and visibly to be secured by their practice.

“Dear Professor Ruskin,—I have long intended to write to you, but the mountain of matters I had to tell you has increased till Pelion is piled upon Ossa within my mind, and so I must confine myself to one or two points. In the Black Forest, and more especially in remote mountain valleys of Tyrol, I have found the people living more or less according to principles laid down for the Company of St. George. I have seen the rules so much decried, and even ridiculed, in England, wrought into the whole life of the people. One may still find villages and communes where lawsuits are impossible—a head-man of their own deciding all disputes; where the simplest honesty and friendliness are all but universal, and the stranger is taken in only in the better sense of the phrase; where the nearest approach to steam power is the avalanche of early summer; where there are no wheeled vehicles, and all burthens are carried on the backs of men and mules,” (my dear friend, I really don’t want people to do without [279]donkey-carts, or pony-chaises; nay, I was entirely delighted at Dolgelly, the other day, to meet a four-in-hand coach—driven by the coachman’s daughter;) “where rich and poor must fare alike on the simple food and cheap but sound wine of the country; where the men still carve wood, and the women spin and weave, during the long hours of winter; and where the folk still take genuine delight in picturesque dress, and daily church-going, and have not reduced both to the dreary felon’s uniform of English respectability. With these unconscious followers of Ruskin, and Companions of St. George, I formed deep friendships; and for me, if I ever revisit the wild recesses of the Œtzthal, it will almost be like going amongst my own people and to my own home. Indeed, wherever I left the beaten track of tourists, and the further I left it, so did the friendliness of my entertainers increase. It was evident they regarded me not as a mere purse-bearing animal, but as an argosy of quite a different sort—a human spirit coming from afar, from a land ‘belonging,’ as one of them conjectured, ‘to Spain,’ and laden with all kinds of new knowledge and strange ideas, of which they would gladly have some share. And so towards the close of a dinner, or supper, the meek-eyed hostess would come and sit beside me, hoping I had enjoyed a ‘happy meal;’ and after a complimentary sip from my glass, ask me all sorts of delightful and simple questions about myself, and my family, and my country. [280]Or the landlord would come sometimes,—alas, at the very beginning of a meal,—and from huge pipe bowl, wonderfully painted with Crucifixion or Madonna, blow clouds of anything but incense smoke. But the intention of honouring and amusing me were none the less apparent.”

With my friend’s pleasant days among this wise and happy people, I will forthwith compare the very unpleasant day I spent myself on my journey to Barmouth, among unwise and wretched ones; one incident occurring in it being of extreme significance. I had driven from Brantwood in early morning down the valley of the Crake, and took train first at the Ulverston station, settling myself in the corner of a carriage next the sea, for better prospect thereof. In the other corner was a respectable, stolid, middle-aged man reading his paper.

I had left my Coniston lake in dashing ripples under a south wind, thick with rain; but the tide lay smooth and silent along the sands; melancholy in absolute pause of motion, nor ebb nor flow distinguishable;—here and there, among the shelves of grey shore, a little ruffling of their apparent pools marked stray threadings of river-current.

At Grange, talking loud, got in two young coxcombs; who reclined themselves on the opposite cushions. One had a thin stick, with which, in a kind of St. Vitus’s dance, partly affectation of nonchalance, partly real fever [281]produced by the intolerable idleness of his mind and body, he rapped on the elbow of his seat, poked at the button-holes of the window strap, and switched his boots, or the air, all the way from Grange to the last station before Carnforth,—he and his friend talking yacht and regatta, listlessly;—the St. Vitus’s, meantime, dancing one expressing his opinion that “the most dangerous thing to do on these lakes was going before the wind.” The respectable man went on reading his paper, without notice of them. None of the three ever looked out of the windows at sea or shore. There was not much to look at, indeed, through the driving, and gradually closer-driven, rain,—except the drifting about of the seagulls, and their quiet dropping into the pools, their wings kept open for an instant till their breasts felt the water well; then closing their petals of white light, like suddenly shut water flowers.

The two regatta men got out, in drenching rain, on the coverless platform at the station before Carnforth, and all the rest of us at Carnforth itself, to wait for the up train. The shed on the up-line side, even there, is small, in which a crowd of third-class passengers were packed close by the outside drip. I did not see one, out of some twenty-five or thirty persons, tidily dressed, nor one with a contented and serenely patient look. Lines of care, of mean hardship, of comfortless submission, of gnawing anxiety, or ill-temper, characterized every face. [282]

The train came up, and my poor companions were shuffled into it speedily, in heaps. I found an empty first-class carriage for myself: wondering how long universal suffrage would allow itself to be packed away in heaps, for my convenience.

At Lancaster, a father and daughter got in; presumably commercial. Father stoutly built and firm-featured, sagacious and cool. The girl hard and common; well dressed, except that her hat was cocked too high on her hair. They both read papers all the way to Warrington. I was not myself employed much better; the incessant rain making the windows a mere wilderness of dirty dribblings; and neither Preston nor Wigan presenting anything lively to behold, I had settled myself to Mrs. Brown on Spelling Bees, (an unusually forced and poor number of Mrs. Brown, by the way).

I had to change at Warrington for Chester. The weather bettered a little, while I got a cup of tea and slice of bread in the small refreshment room; contemplating, the while, in front of me, the panels of painted glass on its swinging doors, which represented two troubadours, in broadly striped blue and yellow breeches, purple jackets, and plumed caps; with golden-hilted swords, and enormous lyres. Both had soft curled moustaches, languishing eyes, open mouths, and faultless legs. Meanwhile, lounged at the counter behind me, much bemused in beer, a perfect example of the special type of youthful blackguard now developing generally [283]in England; more or less blackly pulpous and swollen in all the features, and with mingled expression of intense grossness and intense impudence,—half pig, half jackdaw.

There got in with me, when the train was ready, a middle-class person of commercial-traveller aspect, who had possessed himself of a ‘Graphic’ from the news-boy; and whom I presently forgot, in examining the country on a line new to me, which became quickly, under gleams of broken sunlight, of extreme interest. Azure-green fields of deep corn; undulations of sandstone hill, with here and there a broken crag at the edge of a cutting; presently the far glittering of the Solway-like sands of Dee, and rounded waves of the Welsh hills on the southern horizon, formed a landscape more fresh and fair than I have seen for many a day, from any great line of English rail. When I looked back to my fellow-traveller, he was sprawling all his length on the cushion of the back seat, with his boots on his ‘Graphic,’—not to save the cushions assuredly, but in the foul modern carelessness of everything which we have ‘done with’ for the moment;—his face clouded with sullen thought, as of a person helplessly in difficulty, and not able to give up thinking how to avoid the unavoidable.

In a minute or two more I found myself plunged into the general dissolution and whirlpool of porters, passengers, and crook-boned trucks, running round corners [284]against one’s legs, of the great Chester station. A simply-dressed upper-class girl of sixteen or seventeen, strictly and swiftly piloting her little sister through the populace, was the first human creature I had yet seen, on whom sight could rest without pain. The rest of the crowd was a mere dismal fermentation of the Ignominious.

The train to Ruabon was crowded, and I was obliged to get into a carriage with two cadaverous sexagenarian spinsters, who had been keeping the windows up, all but a chink, for fear a drop of rain or breath of south wind should come in, and were breathing the richest compound of products of their own indigestion. Pretending to be anxious about the construction of the train, I got the farther window down, and my body well out of it; then put it only half-way up when the train left, and kept putting my head out without my hat; so as, if possible, to impress my fellow-passengers with the imminence of a collision, which could only be averted by extreme watchfulness on my part. Then requesting, with all the politeness I could muster, to be allowed to move a box with which they had occupied the corner-seat—“that I might sit face to the air”—I got them ashamed to ask that the window might be shut up again; but they huddled away into the opposite corner to make me understand how they suffered from the draught. Presently they got out two bags of blue grapes, and [285]ate away unanimously, availing themselves of my open window to throw out rolled-up pips and skins.

General change, to my extreme relief, as to their’s, was again required at Ruabon, effected by a screwing backwards and forwards, for three-quarters of an hour, of carriages which one was expecting every five minutes to get into; and which were puffed and pushed away again the moment one opened a door, with loud calls of ‘Stand back there.’ A group of half a dozen children, from eight to fourteen—the girls all in straw hats, with long hanging scarlet ribands—were more or less pleasant to see meanwhile; and sunshine through the puffs of petulant and cross-purposed steam, promised a pleasant run to Llangollen.

I had only the conventional ‘business man with a paper’ for this run; and on his leaving the carriage at Llangollen, was just closing the door, thinking to have both windows at command, when my hand was stayed by the father of a family of four children, who, with their mother and aunt, presently filled the carriage, the children fitting or scrambling in anywhere, with expansive kicks and lively struggles. They belonged to the lower middle-class; the mother an ideal of the worthy commonplace, evidently hard put to it to make both ends meet, and wholly occupied in family concerns; her face fixed in the ignoble gravity of virtuous persons to whom their own troublesome households have become monasteries. The father, slightly [286]more conscious of external things, submitting benevolently to his domestic happiness out on its annual holiday. The children ugly, fidgety, and ill-bred, but not unintelligent,—full of questionings, ‘when’ they were to get here, or there? how many rails there were on the line; which side the station was on, and who was to meet them. In such debate, varied by bodily contortions in every direction, they contrived to pass the half-hour which took us through the vale of Llangollen, past some of the loveliest brook and glen scenery in the world. But neither the man, the woman, nor any one of the children, looked out of the window once, the whole way.

They got out at Corwen, leaving me to myself for the run past Bala lake and down the Dolgelly valley; but more sorrowful than of late has been my wont, in the sense of my total isolation from the thoughts and ways of the present English people. For I was perfectly certain that among all the crowd of living creatures whom I had that day seen,—scarlet ribands and all,—there was not one to whom I could have spoken a word on any subject interesting to me, which would have been intelligible to them.

But the first broad sum of fact, for the sake of which I have given this diary, is that among certainly not less than some seven or eight hundred people, seen by me in the course of this day, I saw not one happy face, and several hundreds of entirely miserable ones. [287]The second broad sum of fact is, that out of the few,—not happy,—but more or less spirited and complacent faces I saw, among the lower and the mercantile classes, what life or spirit they had depended on a peculiar cock-on-a-dunghill character of impudence, which meant a total inability to conceive any good or lovely thing in this world or any other: and the third sum of fact is, that in this rich England I saw only eight out of eight hundred persons gracefully dressed, and decently mannered. But the particular sign, and prophetic vision of the day, to me, was the man lying with his boots on his ‘Graphic.’ There is a long article in the ‘Monetary Gazette,’ sent me this morning, on the folly of the modern theory that the nation is suffering from ‘over-production.’ The writer is quite correct in his condemnation of the fallacy in question; but it has not occurred to him, nor to any other writer that I know of on such matters, to consider whether we may not possibly be suffering from over-destruction. If you use a given quantity of steam power and human ingenuity to produce your ‘Graphic’ in the morning, and travel from Warrington to Chester with your boots upon it in the afternoon,—Is the net result, production, my dear editor? The net result is labour with weariness A.M.,—idleness with disgust P.M.,—and nothing to eat next day. And do not think our Warrington friend other than a true type of your modern British employer of industry. The universal British public has [288]no idea of any other use of art, or industry, than he! It reclines everlastingly with its boots on its ‘Graphic.’ ‘To-morrow there will be another,—what use is there in the old?’ Think of the quantity of energy used in the ‘production’ of the daily works of the British press? The first necessity of our lives in the morning,—old rags in the evening! Or the annual works of the British naval architect? The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance in January, and old iron in June! The annual industry of the European soldier,—of the European swindler,—of the European orator,—will you tell me, good Mr. Editor, what it is that they produce? Will you calculate for me, how much of all that is, they destroy?

But even of what we do produce, under some colour or fancy, of service to humanity,—How much of it is of any service to humanity, good Mr. Editor? Here is a little bit of a note bearing on the matter, written last Christmas in a fit of incontrollable provocation at a Christian correspondent’s drawl of the popular sentiment, “living is so very expensive, you know!”

Why, of course it is, living as you do, in a saucepan full of steam, with no potatoes in it!

Here is the first economical fact I have been trying to teach, these fifteen years; and can’t get it, yet, into the desperate, leathern-skinned, death-helmeted skull of this wretched England—till Jael-Atropos drive it down, through skull and all, into the ground;—that you can’t [289]have bread without corn, nor milk without kine; and that being dragged about the country behind kettles won’t grow corn on it; and speculating in stocks won’t feed mutton on it; and manufacturing steel pens, and scrawling lies with them, won’t clothe your backs or fill your bellies, though you scrawl England as black with ink as you have strewed her black with cinders.

Now look here: I am writing in a friend’s house in a lovely bit of pasture country, surrounding what was once a bright bit of purple and golden heath—inlaid as gorse and heather chose to divide their possession of it; and is now a dusty wilderness of unlet fashionable villas, bricks, thistles, and crockery. My friend has a good estate, and lets a large farm; but he can’t have cream to his tea, and has ‘Dorset’ butter.2 If he ever gets any of these articles off his own farm, they are brought to him from London, having been carried there that they may pay toll to the railroad company once as they go up, and again as they come down; and have two chances of helping to smash an excursion train.

Meantime, at the apothecary’s shop in the village, I can buy, besides drugs,—cigars, and stationery; and among other stationery, the ‘College card,’ of “eighteen useful articles,”—namely, Bohemian glass ruler, Bohemian glass penholder, pen-box with gilt and diapered lid, pen-wiper [290]with a gilt tin fern leaf for ornament, pencil, india-rubber, and twelve steel pens,—all stitched separately and neatly on the card; and the whole array of them to be bought for sixpence.

What times!—what civilization!—what ingenuity!—what cheapness!

Yes; but what does it mean? First, that I, who buy the card, can’t get cream to my tea? And secondly, that the unhappy wretches,—Bohemian and other,—glass blowers, iron diggers, pen manufacturers, and the like,—who have made the eighteen useful articles, have sixpence to divide among them for their trouble! What sort of cream have they to their tea?

But the question of questions about it all, is—Are these eighteen articles ‘useful articles’? For what? Here’s a—nominal—‘pencil’ on our ‘College card.’ But not a collegian, that I know of, wants to draw,—and if he did, he couldn’t draw with this thing, which is not a pencil, but some sand and coal-dust jammed in a stick. The ‘india-rubber’ also, I perceive, is not india-rubber; but a composition for tearing up the surface of paper,—useful only to filthy blunderers; the nasty glass-handled things, which will break if I drop them, and cut the housemaid’s fingers, I shall instantly turn out of the house; the pens, for which I bought the card, will perhaps be useful to me, because I have, to my much misery, writing to do: but you, happier animals, who may exist without scratching either paper or your [291]heads,—what is the use of them to you? (N.B. I couldn’t write a word with one of them, after all.)

I must go back to my Warrington friend; for there are more lessons to be received from him. I looked at him, in one sense, not undeferentially. He was, to the extent of his experience, as good a judge of art as I. He knew what his ‘Graphic’ was worth. Pronounced an entirely divine verdict upon it. Put it, beneficently, out of its pictorial pain,—for ever.

Do not think that it is so difficult to know good art from bad. The poorest-minded public cannot rest in its bad possessions,—wants them new, and ever new. I have given my readers, who have trusted me, four art-possessions, which I do not fear their wishing to destroy; and it will be a long while before I wish them to get another. I have too long delayed beginning to tell them why they are good; and one of my Sheffield men asked Mr. Swan the other day what I had commended the Leucothea for,—“he couldn’t see anything in it.” To whom the first answer must be—Did you expect to, then? My good manufacturing friend, be assured there was no more thought of pleasing you when Leucothea was carved, than of pleasing—Ganymede, when Rosalind was christened. Some day you will come to “like her name.”

But, whether you ever come to ‘see anything in it’ or not, be assured that this, and the Lippi, and the Titian, and the Velasquez, are, all four, alike in one [292]quality, which you can respect, even if you do not envy. They are work of men doing their best. And whose pride is in doing their best and most. You modern British workmen’s pride, I find more and more, is in doing ingeniously the worst, and least, you can.

Again: they all four agree in being the work of men trained under true masters, and themselves able to be true masters to others. They belong, therefore, to what are properly called ‘schools’ of art. Whereas your modern British workman recognizes no master; but is, (as the result of his increasing intelligence, according to Mr. Mill,) less and less disposed “to be guided in the way which he should go by any prestige or authority.” The result of which is that every British artist has to find out how to paint as he best can; and usually begins to see his way to it, by the time he is sixty.

Thirdly. They belong to schools which, orderly and obedient themselves, understood the law of order in all things. Which is the chief distinction between Art and Rudeness. And the first aim of every great painter, is to express clearly his obedience to the law of Kosmos, Order, or Symmetry.3 The only perfect work of the four [293]I have given, the Titian, binds itself by this symmetry most severely. Absolutely straight lines of screen behind the Madonna’s head,—a dark head on one side, a dark head on the other; a child on one side, a child on the other; a veil falling one way on one side, a scroll curling the other way on the other; a group of leaves in the child’s right hand balanced by another in the Madonna’s left; two opposed sprays of leaves on the table, and the whole clasped by a single cherry. In the Lippi, the symmetry is lateral; the Madonna fronting the group of the child central, with supporting angel on each side. In the Leucothea, the diminishing magnitudes of the attendant goddesses on the right are answered by the diminishing magnitudes from the seated goddess and the child, to the smallest figure at her knee, which clasps both the sides of the chain.

Lastly, in the Velasquez, the little pyramid of a child, with her three tassels and central brooch, and a chair on each side of her, would have been too symmetrical, but for the interferent light in the dog.

I said just now, the Titian was the only perfect one of the four. Everything there is done with absolute rightness: and you don’t see how. The hair in the Lippi is too stiff,—in the Velasquez, too slight; and one sees that it is drawn in the one, dashed in the other; but by Titian only, ‘painted’—you don’t know how.

I say the Titian is the most perfect. It does not [294]follow that it is the best. There are gifts shown in the others, and feelings, which are not in it; and of which the relative worth may be matter of question. For instance, the Lippi, as I told you before, is a painting wrought in real Religion;—that is to say, in the binding of the heart in obedience to the conceived nature and laws of God.

The Titian is wrought in what Mr. Harrison calls the Religion of Humanity: but ought more accurately to call, the Religion of Manity, (for the English use of the word ‘humane’ is continually making him confuse benevolence with religion,)—that is to say, in the binding of the heart in obedience to the nature and laws of Man.

And, finally, the Velasquez is wrought in the still more developed Modern Religion of Dogity, or obedience of the heart to the nature and laws of Dog; (the lovely little idol, you observe, dominant on velvet throne, as formerly the Madonna). Of which religion, as faithfully held by the brave British Squire, in its widest Catholic form of horse-and-dog-ity, and passionately and tenderly indulged by the devoted British matron in the sectarian limitation of Lapdogity,—there is more to be told than Velasquez taught, or than we can learn, to-day. [295]


I. Affairs of the Company.

I leave our accounts now wholly in the hands of Mr. Walker and Mr. Rydings, reserving to myself only the usual—as I understand—and proper functions of Director,—that of spending the Company’s money. I have ordered, as above stated, repairs at Barmouth, which will somewhat exceed our rents, I fancy; and a mineral cabinet for the Museum at Sheffield, in which the minerals are to rest, each in its own little cell, on purple, or otherwise fittingly coloured, velvet of the best. Permission to handle and examine them at ease will be eventually given, as a moral and mineralogical prize to the men who attain a certain proficiency in the two sciences of Mineralogy and Behaviour.

Our capital, it will be observed, is increased, by honest gift, this month, to the encouraging amount of £16 16s.;—the iniquitous interest, of which our shareholders get none, I have pretty nearly spent in our new land purchase.

Cash Account of St. George’s Company.

(From June 15th to Aug. 15th, 1876.)

1876. Dr. £ s. d.
June 29. To Mrs. Jane Lisle 1 1 0
30. To,, Chas. Firth 1 1 0
Aug. 7. To,, G. No. 50. 10 10 0
12. To,, Miss Sargood 2 2 0
Miss Christina Allen 2 2 0
15. To,, Balance due Mr. Ruskin 14 14 5
£31 10 5

1876. Cr. £ s. d.
June 16. By Balance due, Mr. Ruskin 31 10 5
£31 10 5


The Union Bank of London (Chancery Lane Branch) in Account with the St. George’s Fund.

1876. Dr. £ s. d.
March 15. To Balance 157 11 10
May 3. To,, Cash Paid Mr. John Ruskin 17 11 0
6. To,, Ditto draft at Bridgwater (J. Talbot) 9 19 3
9. To,, Ditto draft at Douglas (E. Rydings) 24 18 9
June 9. To,, Ditto Cash 5 0 0
13. To,, Ditto, draft at Bridgwater (F. Talbot) 20 12 6
To,, Ditto, draft at Bilston (Wilkins) 50 0 0
17. To,, Ditto, Cash 20 0 0
July 6. To,, Dividend on £8000 Consols 118 10 0
£424 3 4

1876. Cr. £ s. d.
July 28. By Cheque to Mr. John Ruskin 330 0 0
Aug. 15. To Balance 94 3 4
£424 3 4

II. Affairs of the Master.

It was not my fault, but my printers’ (who deserve raps for it), that mine came before the Company’s in last Fors.4 It is, I think, now time to state, in general comment on my monotonous account, that the current expenses recorded in the bills of Jackson, Kate, Downs, and David, represent for the most part sums spent for the maintenance or comfort of others; and that I could if need were, for my own part, be utterly at ease in the sunny parlour of a village inn, with no more carriage or coachman than my own limbs,—no more service than a civil traveller’s proper share,—and the blessedness of freedom from responsibility from everything. To which condition, if I ever reduce myself by my extravagance, and, (indeed, just after paying my good Mr. Ellis for [297]thirteenth-century MSS.,5 etc., a hundred and forty pounds, I am in treaty to-day with Mr. Quaritch for another, which he says is charged at the very lowest penny at three hundred and twenty)—it will be simply to me only occasion for the loadless traveller’s song; but as it would be greatly inconvenient to other people, I don’t at present intend it. Some day, indeed, perhaps I shall begin to turn a penny by my books. The bills drawn by Mr. Burgess represent now the only loss I incur on them.

£ s. d.
Stated Balance, July 15th 617 11 3
Repayment and other receipts, July and August 406 6 5
1023 17 8
Expenses 427 5 0
Balance, August 15th £596 12 8

£ s. d.
July 16. Geoghegan (blue neckties) 4 0 0
Naval School 5 5 0
17. David 65 0 0
Downs 25 0 0
30. Jackson 50 0 0
Kate 50 0 0
Aug. 1. Herne Hill ground-rent 23 0 0
14. Burgess 40 0 0
15. Ellis and White 140 0 0
Lucy Tovey (gift) 10 0 0
Self (chiefly gone in black quartz from St Gothard Tunnel) 15 0 0
£427 5 0


“My dear Sir,—I duly received your very kind note referring to the ‘notice to quit’ to Lord Lonsdale’s farmers in West [298]Cumberland, and have delayed to reply till I had made special inquiries, and find that, as a rule, these tenants have no leases, but have held their farms from year to year only.

“Formerly, I am told, some had leases; but as these expired they were not renewed, and the supposition now is that all such have run out, and that all now as yearly tenants have had the notice given them simultaneously.

“The notice is clearly given to allow a re-valuation to be made; and when the new rents are arranged, it is expected that leases will then be granted, though it is plain to be seen that all the increased prosperity that the prosperity of recent years of the coal and iron industries have caused to farming, may thus be secured to the landholder; and the farmers, with or without leases, but with higher rents, may be left to bear alone the ebb of the tide that is evidently on the turn; and in any or every case, the general public—the consumers of these farmers’ produce—will have to pay the extra rent, whatever it may be, that Lord Lonsdale may see fit to lay upon the land.6

“I have been studying this matter—the increase of land-rents—for many years, and consider it is very much to blame for the present high prices of all land produce, and the distress amongst the poorest of our population, as well as being a great hindrance to the carrying out of any schemes that have for their object the application of more of our own labour to our own soil. In [299]a letter to my son a few weeks ago, I ventured to say that the man who was the first to demonstrate by actual experiment that English soil could be made to double or quadruple its produce, would earn the name of a new Columbus, in that he had discovered another America at our own doors. This son, my oldest, having shown a turn for mathematics, I was induced to send to Cambridge, my hope being that a good education might fit him to solve some of the problems that are so pressing us for solution (and which I had been essaying myself in the pamphlet on ‘Labour and Capital’); and as he now, on the completion of his second term, holds the second place in his year at St. John’s, there is a hope that he may take a good place in the mathematical tripos for 1878; and yet, since we got introduced to your books—two years ago—both he and I think he had best, so soon as he completes his course, go into farming; and hence the reference to growing crops that appeared in his letter last week, and which I am most happy to find has met with your approbation.” (Yes;—and I trust with higher approbation than mine.)

IV. The following paragraphs from a county paper gladden me exceedingly, by taking from me all merit of originality in any part of the design of the operations of St. George’s Company, while they prove to the most incredulous not only the practicability, but the assured good of such operations, already, as will be seen, carried to triumphant results on a private gentleman’s estate.

The ‘Agricultural Gazette’ gives, as one of a series of papers on “Noteworthy Agriculturists,” a sketch of Mr. William Mackenzie, Achandunie, who, acting for Mr. Matheson, has carried out so many improvements on the Ardross estates. The sketch is in the form of an autobiography, which, as the ‘Gazette’ remarks, carries with it a most pleasant impression of [300]directness and simplicity of character no less than of industry, energy, and success. It is accompanied by a portrait of Mr. Mackenzie, which his friends will recognize as a fair likeness. Mr. Mackenzie states that he was born in 1806, in the parish of Urquhart, Ross-shire, where his ancestors had resided for many generations. His father, who occupied a small farm, died about five years ago at the advanced age of ninety. In 1824, he (Mr. William Mackenzie) entered as an apprentice at Belmaduthy7 Gardens, and after serving there three years, removed to the nurseries of Dickson and Co., Edinburgh, where he remained only a few months. He then went to the Duke of Buccleuch’s gardens at Dalkeith, serving under Mr. Macdonald, who was in advance of his time as a practical gardener. There he assisted in carrying out the improvements which were made in the gardens and pleasure-grounds. New ranges of hothouses and a fine conservatory were erected, into which the hot-water system of heating was, it is believed, first introduced in Scotland. Next Mr. Mackenzie assisted in laying out gardens and grounds at Barcaldine, the seat of Sir Duncan Campbell, in Argyllshire; and coming in 1835 to Rosehaugh, as head-gardener, forester, and superintendent of estate works, he carried out the construction of new gardens, both at Rosehaugh and Kinlochluichart, and the remodelling of private grounds and approaches. These large gardens at Barcaldine and Rosehaugh were made with great care, especially in selecting and preparing the soil for the wall and vinery borders, so that after the lapse, in the one case of thirty years, and in the other of forty years, no decay or canker has appeared among the fruit trees.8 [301]

“In 1847 Mr. Matheson commenced the improvements at Ardross, the property of Alexander Matheson, Esq., M.P. for the county of Ross.

“Ardross proper is surrounded by high hills, and with trifling exceptions was in a state of nature, the whole surface of the district being covered with coarse grass and heather, stunted birches, morass or quagmire, and studded with granite boulders drifted from the hills. The place was under sheep and a few black cattle, and, owing to the coarseness of the herbage the cattle were subject to red water. The tenants’ houses were mere hovels, without chimneys, and with little or no glass in the windows. The population of the district of Ardross proper was, in 1847, only 109 souls; and now, in 1875, the population on the same area is 600, and the number of children attending school is about 140.

“In giving a summary of the improvements, we will begin with the pleasure-grounds.9 They extend to about 800 acres. In forming them, waggons on rails were used for two years in removing knolls, forming terraces, and filling up gullies. The banks of the river and of the burns flowing through the grounds have been planted with upwards of a hundred different varieties of the finest and hardiest ornamental trees that could be procured, from the tulip-tree to the evergreen oak, and from the native pine to the Wellingtonia. Evergreen shrubs cover about 25 acres in detached portions on the banks of the river which flows immediately beneath the castle, as well as on the banks of two romantic burns, with beautiful cascades, and in ravines. The garden is enclosed with a brick-lined wall, and so boggy was the site that the foundation of the wall is more than 6 feet below [302]the sills of some of the doors. The south side is enclosed by a terrace wall 12 feet high, and the north wall is covered with glass, which includes vineries, conservatory, and orchard houses, besides a range of pits, all heated with water. The soil of the garden was prepared and carted a considerable distance,10 as there was none to be got on the site.

“Upwards of 5000 acres of moor ground have been planted, chiefly with Scotch fir and larch, the thinnings of which are now being shipped for pit props, the plants of the oldest woods only having been taken out of the nursery in 1847.

“The extent of arable land may be best explained by stating that there are twenty-seven farms with thrashing mills, paying rents from £50 to £800 each; and upwards of a hundred ploughs are used in cultivating the lands improved. The steam plough is also to be seen at work on some of the farms.” (St. George does not, however, propose entertaining the curious spectator in this manner.) “Cattle reared on the reclaimed land have taken prizes at the Highland Society’s Shows, and at all local shows; and for cereals and green crops, they will bear a favourable comparison with any part of Scotland.

“At one of the detached properties, great care had to be taken, and engineering skill used, in the drainage. Recently a low-lying part of the lands, a mile and a half long by three-quarters broad, was a mixture of the lower stratum of peaty bog, marsh, and spouty sand, charged with ochrey-coloured water, impregnated with sulphur and saltpetre. Attempts made by former occupants to drain this place were fruitless, from want of depth and proper outfall. We found all the pipes in their drains completely choked by deposited ochrey matter. The [303]whole subsoil was running sand. In order to make the drainage perfect, a main leading drain was made, 800 yards long, and in some places 8 feet deep, in which were laid ‘spigot and faucet,’ vitrified pipes 10 to 15 inches in diameter, jointed with cement to prevent sand from getting in, with junctions to receive pipes of smaller sizes, from 10 inches down to 6 inches. Minor drains are from 3½ to 4 feet deep, with tiles of 2 to 4 inch bore, the smaller sizes having collars on the joints. Large stone cisterns are formed to receive the silt, and ventilating shafts with iron gratings are built to give circulation of air. By these means the whole flat is drained effectually, and where bog rushes were the prevailing produce, crops of the richest wheat now grow. The stunted herbage and water were so poisonous that black cattle were known to have turned gray in a season (?).11

“More than fifty miles of private roads have been made, and twelve miles of walks through the pleasure-grounds. One walk is six miles continuous, along the windings of fine scenery of the Alness. Upwards of forty miles of stone dykes and eighty of wire fences have been erected, enclosing the arable land and plantations.

“For twenty years from three to four hundred men were employed; two hundred of them lived in a square of barracks for nearly eleven years, and so orderly were they that the services of a policeman were never required. There are still a number of men employed, but the improvements are now coming to a close.

All the assistance I had in the engineering and planning was [304]that of a young man only seventeen years old when the works were begun, and we never had occasion to employ a man for a single day re-doing work.

“I may further add that I have now the great pleasure of seeing my liberal employer reletting all his farms on the Ardross estate to the same tenants, on a second nineteen years’ lease,” (at increased rents, of course, my friend?) “the second leases having been renewed between two and three years before the expiry of the previous leases, and none of the farms were ever advertised.

“I cannot leave this part of the present brief sketch without noticing a feature in the important work so successfully carried out by my enlightened employer, and one which cannot fail to be a source of great satisfaction to himself. Among the first things he did was to establish a school in the district, with a most efficient teacher, and the result is that sons of the small farmers and labourers are now in respectable positions in various walks of life. They are to be found in the capacities of gardeners, artizans, and merchants, students of law, medicine, and divinity. One of them, Donald Ross, carried the Queen’s prize of £100 in the University, and is now one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools. Another is the chief constable of the county. Others are in the colonies of Australia, New Zealand, and America, all doing well; and out of hundreds working for themselves, to my knowledge, not one has gone astray.12

“I will now advert to the improvements on the west coast estates. A mansion-house was built in the parish of Kintail, with pleasure-grounds and gardens, the former being chiefly reclaimed from the sea. Two islands, which were surrounded by water 11 feet deep on the shore side, are now part of the lawn, the intervening spaces having been filled up by the removal of a hill of rotten rock. [305]This house is let to a shooting tenant. The garden is excellent for fruit, including peaches, nectarines, and apricots, which come to perfection. At Duncraig, recently, a new mansion-house has been built, with all the modern appliances. New gardens have also been made at Duncraig, the site of which was originally a narrow gully running between high ridges of rock. The gardens are upwards of two acres within the walls. The soil is composed of virgin soil and turfy loam, the whole having been carted a considerable distance. The gardens were completed in 1871, and the different kinds of fruit trees, including pears, peaches, and apricots, are now bearing.

“Duncraig is rarely to be surpassed in scenery and beauty. The view is extensive, embracing the Cuchullin hills in Skye,” (etc., etc.) “There are two fresh-water lakes within the grounds, one covering thirty-seven acres, and the other about sixty acres, abounding with excellent trout and char. One of them supplies Duncraig House with water, having a fall of about 300 feet. The pipe in its course supplies the gardens; the livery stables and laundry have also connections for applying hose in cases of fire.

“The conformation of the ground is a mingling of winding valleys with high rock hills, on which grow natural wood, such as birch, oak, ash, and mountain ash. Several of the valleys have been improved and laid out under permanent pasture, making the landscape, as seen from the front of the house, with wood, rock, and winding grassy bay, very picturesque.

“There are twelve miles of private drives and walks—miles of them cut out of the solid rock, and in some places in the face of precipices 100 feet sheer up above the sea. A home-farm is in course of being improved at Achandarroch, a mile south of Duncraig House.”

The ‘Gazette’ adds: Mr. Mackenzie himself farms some of the land which he has reclaimed, and nowhere probably is there a better example of what is possible in the way of agricultural improvement under a northern climate. Excellent crops of [306]barley, clover, wheat, and roots are grown where nothing but a marshy wilderness once existed. Here obviously are the circumstances and the experience which should guide and stimulate the efforts of estate owners and improvers in the way of the reclamation of land which is now waste and worthless.

Holme Head, Carlisle,

“Dear Sir,—When I read the number of ‘Fors’ for last April, and came to your account of the rose-leaf cutting bees, I recollected that I had seen one of these bees making its fragmentary cell in a hole in a brick wall, and that I had often seen the remnants of the cut leaves; but I never had a chance of watching them when at work till last week; and thinking the result may be interesting to you, and may correct the omission you refer to at the foot of page 104 in the April ‘Fors,’ I take the liberty to send them to you.

“I had the opportunity of seeing a great many bees—often half a dozen together—at work upon a solitary dog-rose in front of a house at a small watering-place (Silloth), and I observed that they cut various shapes at different times. I picked off a great many of the leaves that they had been at, and send you herewith one or two specimens. I find that these have occasionally cut through the midrib of the leaf; but this is a rare exception. I found they carried the cuttings to some adjoining sand-hills, where they had bored small holes in the sand; and in these they built their leaf-cells. The pollen in these cells was not purple, but yellow, and may have been gathered from the Hawkweed which covers the banks where their nests are made.

“Since we came home, I have found some more leaves in my own garden similarly cut. The leaves I find to be cut in this way are the rose, French bean, and young laburnum.

“Yours truly,
W. Lattimer.”


V. Part of a letter from the lady who sent me Helix virgata:—

“We live in a poor neighbourhood, and I have come to know the history of many poor working people lately; and I want to understand so much about it, even more than I used to long to understand the mysterious life of shells and flowers. Why aren’t there public baths, etc., for children as much as public schools? They want washing more than teaching. ‘Hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and bodies washed in pure water, is continually sounding in my ears.” (Well—why don’t you go and wash some, then?)

“A poor woman, whose father was a West Country carrier,” (very good, but what is she?—the gist of the story depends on that: at present it’s like one of those French twisty Bulimi, with no beginning to it,) “was so delighted the other day to find we knew the ‘West Country;’ and when I was saying something about our intending to take the children down in May to pick cowslips, her face gleamed with delight as she said, ‘Oh, the years since I’ve seen a cowslip!’ We used to make ‘tisties’ ” (twisties?) “of them, and it sent a thrill of remembrance through me of my own birthday treats, and cowslip-ball days.

“But I’m so glad you like the shells. No, there is nothing about vegetables in the word Bulimus; but ‘empty-bellied’ generally is hungry, and hungry generally eats a great deal when opportunity offers. Now these ‘Bulimi’ eat a great deal, (of vegetables, it happens,) so I suppose some one who named them thought they must be very hungry or ‘empty-bellied.’ That’s the way I read the story.” Well, it’s very accommodating and ingenious of you to read it that way; but many snails, thrushes, blackbirds, or old gentlemen of my acquaintance who ‘eat a great deal,’ appear to me more suggestive of the epithet ‘full-’ than ‘empty-’—waist-coated, shall we say? [308]

VI. Week’s Diary of a Companion of St. George:—

First day.—Received from Sheffield a dainty ‘well-poised little hammer’ and three sharp-pointed little chisels: felt quite cheerful about porphyry-cutting.

Second day.—Sent to the village in the morning for a slab of freestone; employed man in the afternoon to chisel a hole in it, and to fix the porphyry therein with plaster-of-Paris; drew a straight line, thinking it wiser not to begin with an asterisk; turned the points of two chisels without making the least impression on my line;—the process turned out to be skating, not engraving. Tried the third chisel, and, after diligent efforts, made a cut equal in depth to about two grains of sand. This is the Hamite bondage of art. Felt an increasing desire that the Master should try it, and a respect for the ancient Egyptians. Bore patiently the scoffs of the Amorites.

Third day.—Sent chisel to the village to be hardened. Was recommended a lead hammer. Finally, a friend went to the village and brought back with him an iron hammer and two shorter chisels. Was asked by an Amorite gardener how I was ‘getting on’—unconcealed pleasure on his part to hear that I was not getting on at all. Later, accomplished a beautifully irregular star-fish, which looks mashed out rather than cut, not the least like ‘sharp cliff-edged harbours,’ as the Master kindly supposes. I begin to feel for the ancient Egyptians: they must have got a great deal of porphyry-dust into their eyes. I shall rise in the morning to dulled points and splintered chisels; but ‘when you have cut your asterisk, you will know,’ etc., and this is not the voice of a syren, (see ‘Eagle’s Nest,’) but of my honoured Master.… A terrible suspicion occurs to me that he thought no one would or could cut it! Obedience is a fine thing! How it works in the midst of difficulties, dust, and worst of all—doubt!

Fourth day.—I think porphyry-cutting is delightful work: it [309]is true that I have not done any to-day, but I have had my chisels sharpened, and two new ones have arrived from the blacksmith this evening, made out of old files. Also, I have covered my chisels with pretty blue paper, and my hammer with blue-and-white ribbon. I feel the importance of the step gained. Surely I may rest righteously after such labour. If they sing ‘From Egypt lately come,’ in church, I shall think it very personal.

Fifth day.—My piece of porphyry is now enriched by a second star-fish, with a little more backbone in it, and two dividing lines. I worked on the lawn this morning, under the chestnut tree;—the derision of the Amorite gardener (who was mowing the grass with a scythe) was manifested by the remark ‘Is that-t all!’ I told him about the Egyptian tombs, but he probably thinks me mildly insane; he however suggested a flat edge instead of a point to a chisel, and I will try it.

Sixth day.—Had lead hammer cast, and waited for chisel.

Seventh day.—With third hammer and seventh chisel will surely charm the porphyry.

“But, no! my latest asterisk is jagged in outline instead of sharp. I wonder what attempts others have made. Any one living in or near a blacksmith’s shop would have an advantage, for the chisels are always wanting hardening, or rectifying in some way; and my blue papers soon disappeared. If obedience for the sake of obedience is angelic, I must be an exalted creature. One Amorite’s suggestion was, ‘You would do a deal better with a softer material.’ This was the voice of the tempter.

“What is gained?—(besides a lifelong affection for porphyry)—a knowledge of one more thing that I cannot do; an admiration (to a certain extent) of those who could do it; and a wonder as to what the Master will require next of (amongst others) his faithful and obedient disciple.” [310]

VII. Portion of valuable letter from Mr. Sillar:—

Kingswood Lodge, Lee Green, S.E.

“My dear Mr. Ruskin,—It may interest your correspondent, ‘A Reader of Fors,’ and possibly yourself also, to know that interested persons have altered old John Wesley’s rules to suit modern ideas.

“Rules of the Methodist Societies (Tyerman’s Life and Times of Wesley, p. 431).

“Rule.—Leader to receive once a week what members are willing to give towards relief of the poor.

“Altered to ‘support of the Gospel.’

Going to law forbidden, is altered to ‘brother going to law with brother.’

“Original Rule.—The giving or taking things on usury, the words have been added, ‘that is, unlawful interest.’

“Mr. Tyerman remarks, ‘the curious reader will forgive these trifles.’

“I for one do not at all feel disposed to do so.”

(Nor does St. George; nor has he either leave, or hope, to say, “God forgive them.”)


1 What can be done, ultimately, it is not yet in human imagination to conceive. What has been done, by one sensible man, for the land he had under control, may be read in the fourth article of our correspondence. 

2 Most London theatre-goers will recollect the Butterman’s pity for his son, in “Our Boys,” as he examines the remains of the breakfast in their lodgings. 

3 The law of symmetry, however, rests on deeper foundations than that of mere order. It is here, in Greek terms, too subtle to be translated except bit by bit, as we want them.

Τίς οὖν δὴ πρᾶξις φίλη καὶ ἀκόλουθος θεῷ; μία καὶ ἕνα λόγον ἔχουσα ἀρχαῖον, ὅτι τῷ μὲν ὀμοίῳ τὸ ὅμοιον ὄντι μετρίῳ φίλον ἂν εἴη, τὰ δ’ ἄμετρα οὔτ’ ἀλλήλοις οὔτε τοῖς ἐμμέτροις.—(Plato, Laws, Book IV.) 

4 Note by printer:—“We did this to avoid an unseemly division of balance-sheet, and of two evils thought this the least.” 

5 One of these is a perfect English Bible, folio, and in beautiful state, sent to Sheffield for the first volume of our Museum library. Of course I must make St. George a present of it. 

6 As I correct this sheet, Fors places another Carlisle paper in my hand; from which I gather that Lord Lonsdale’s conceptions of what is fit, and not, are probably now changed. But my correspondent is wrong in assuming that the public will have to pay the extra rent. Very probably they will if the farming improvements are fallacious; but if indeed produce can be raised at less expense, the increased rent may represent only the difference between past and present cost of production. In this sense, however, the public do pay Lord Lonsdale’s extra rent, that their market prices, but for his Lordship, would have been lowered. As matters stand, they may be thankful if they are not raised. 

7 I can’t be responsible for these Scotch names. I sent the slip of paper to my printers, and ‘on their eyes be it.’ 

8 Italics mine (throughout the article, the rest of which is in Mr. Mackenzie’s own words). Have the vine-proprietors of Europe yet begun to look to the Earth—not the air, as the power that fails them? (See note d.) 

9 It will, I hope, not be thought an absurdity in the St. George’s Company to retain on their estates ‘pleasure-grounds’ for their tenants, instead of themselves. In this one respect, and in this only, their public work will differ from this admirable piece of ‘private enterprise.’ 

10 Supposing the labour of all navvies, gold-diggers, and bad architects, throughout the world during the last fifty years, had been spent entirely in carting soil to where it was wanted for vegetables,—my dinnerless friends, you would have found the difference, by this time! 

11 This passage, in capitals, being wholly astounding to me, I venture to put a note of interrogation to it. I have long myself been questioning the farmers in Westmoreland about the quantity of rank bog grass they let grow. But their only idea of improvement is to burn the heather; this being a cheap operation, and dangerous only to their neighbours’ woods. Brantwood was within an ace of becoming Brantashes last summer. 

12 The name of the—certainly very efficient—teacher of these young people, and the general principles of their tuition, would have been a desirable addition, St. George thinks, to the information furnished by Mr. Mackenzie. 



I have been not a little pestered this month by the quantities of letters, which I can’t wholly cure myself of the weakness of reading, from people who fancy that, like other political writers of the day, I print, on the most important subjects, the first thing that comes into my head; and may be made immediately to repent of what I have said, and generally to see the error of my ways, by the suggestions of their better judgment.

Letters of this sort do not surprise me if they have a Scottish postmark, the air of Edinburgh having always had a curiously exciting quality, and amazing power over weak heads; but one or two communications from modest and thoughtful English friends have seriously troubled me by the extreme simplicity of their objections to statements which, if not acceptable, I had at least hoped would have been intelligible to them. [312]

I had, indeed, expected difficulty in proving to my readers the mischievousness of Usury; but I never thought to find confusion in their minds between Property itself, and its Interest. Yet I find this singular confusion at the root of the objections made by most of my cavilling correspondents: “How are we to live” (they say) “if, when we have saved a hundred pounds, we can’t make a hundred and five of them, without any more trouble?”

Gentlemen and ladies all,—you are to live on your hundred pounds, saved; and if you want five pounds more, you must go and work for five pounds more; just as a man who hasn’t a hundred pounds must work for the first five he gets.

The following sentence, written by a man of real economical knowledge, expresses, with more than usual precision, the common mistake: “I much fear if your definition of Usury be correct, which is to the effect that it is a sin to derive money from the possession of capital, or otherwise than by our own personal work. Should we follow this proposition to its final logical conclusion, we must preach communism, pure and simple, and contend that property is theft,—which God forbid.”

To this correspondent I answered briefly, “Is my house not my property unless I let it for lodgings, or my wife not my property unless I prostitute her?” [313]

But I believe it will be well, though I intended to enter on other matters this month, to repeat instead once more, in the shortest and strongest terms I can find, what I have now stated at least a hundred times respecting the eternal nature and sanctity of ‘Property.’

A man’s ‘Property,’ the possession ‘proper’ to him, his own, rightly so called, and no one else’s on any pretence of theirs—consists of,

A, The good things,

B, Which he has honestly got,

C, And can skilfully use.

That is the A B C of Property.

A. It must consist of good things—not bad ones. It is rightly called therefore a man’s ‘Goods,’ not a man’s ‘Bads.’

If you have got a quantity of dung lodged in your drains, a quantity of fleas lodged in your bed, or a quantity of nonsense lodged in your brains,—that is not ‘Property,’ but the reverse thereof; the value to you of your drains, bed, and brains being thereby diminished, not increased.

Can you understand that much, my practical friend?1

B. It must be a good thing, honestly got. Nothing that you have stolen or taken by force, nor anything that your fathers stole or took by force, is your property. Nevertheless, the benignant law of Nature concerning [314]any such holding, has always been quite manifestly that you may keep it—if you can,—so only that you acknowledge that and none other to be the condition of tenure.2

Can you understand that much more, my practical friend?

C. It must be not only something good, and not only something honestly got, but also something you can skilfully use.

For, as the old proverb, “You can’t eat your pudding and have it,” is utterly true in its bearing against Usury,—so also this reverse of it is true in confirmation of property—that you can’t ‘have’ your pudding unless you can eat it. It may be composed for you of the finest plums, and paid for wholly out of your own pocket; but if you can’t stomach it—the pudding is not for you. Buy the finest horse on four legs, he is not ‘proper’ to you if you can’t ride him. Buy the best book between boards,—Horace, or Homer, or Dante,—and if you don’t know Latin, nor Greek, nor Christianity, the paper and boards are yours indeed, but the books—by no means.

You doubt this, my practical friend?

Try a child with a stick of barley-sugar;—tell him it is his, but he mustn’t eat it; his face will express to [315]you the fallaciousness of that principle of property in an unmistakable manner. But by the time he grows as old and stupid as you, perhaps he will buy barley-sugar that he can’t taste, to please the public.

“I’ve no pleasure in that picture of Holman Hunt’s,” said a highly practical man of business to a friend of mine the other day, “nor my wife neither, for that matter; but I always buy under good advice as to market value; and one’s collection isn’t complete without one.”

I am very doubtful, my stupid practical friend, whether you have wit enough to understand a word more of what I have got to say this month. However, I must say it on the chance. And don’t think I am talking sentiment or metaphysics to you. This is the practicallest piece of lessoning you ever had in your days, if you can but make it out;—that you can only possess wealth according to your own capacity of it. An ape can only have wealth of nuts, and a dog of bones,3 an earth-worm of earth, a charnel-worm of flesh, a west-end harlot of silk and champagne, an east-end harlot of gauze and gin, a modern average fine lady of such meat and drink, dress, jewels, and furniture, as the vile tradesmen of the day [316]can provide, being limited even in the enjoyment of these,—for the greater part of what she calls ‘hers,’ she wears or keeps, either for the pleasure of others, if she is good, or for their mortification, if she is wicked,—but assuredly not for herself. When I buy a missal, or a picture, I buy it for myself, and expect everybody to say to me, What a selfish brute you are. But when a lady walks about town with three or four yards of silk tied in a bundle behind her, she doesn’t see it herself, or benefit by it herself. She carries it for the benefit of beholders. When she has put all her diamonds on in the evening, tell her to stay at home and enjoy them in radiant solitude; and the child, with his forbidden barley-sugar, will not look more blank. She carries her caparison either for the pleasure or for the mortification of society; and can no more enjoy its brilliancy by herself than a chandelier can enjoy having its gas lighted.

We must leave out of the question, for the moment, the element of benevolence which may be latent in toilette4; for the main economical result of the action of the great law that we can only have wealth according to our capacity, in modern Europe at this hour, is that the greater part of its so-called wealth is composed of things suited to the capacity of harlots and their keepers,—(including in the general term harlot, or daughter of Babylon, both the unmarried ones, and [317]the married ones who have sold themselves for money,)—as of watches, timepieces, tapestries, china, and any kind of pictures or toys good for bedrooms and boudoirs; but that, of any wealth which harlots and keepers of harlots have no mind to, Europe at present takes no cognizance whatsoever.

Now what the difference may be in the quality of property which honest and dishonest women like is—for you, my practical friend—quite an unfathomable question; but you can at least understand that all the china, timepieces, and lewd pictures, which form the main ‘property’ of Paris and her imitators, are verily, in the commercial sense of the word, property; and would be estimated as such by any Jew in any bankruptcy court; yet the harlots don’t lend their china, or timepieces, on usury, nor make an income out of their bed-hangings,—do they? So that you see it is perfectly possible to have property, and a very costly quantity of it, without making any profit of such capital?

But the harlots have another kind of capital which you, my blind practical friend, don’t call ‘Property’; but which I, having the use of my eyes as well as of my hands, do. They have beauty of body;—many of them, also, wit of mind. And on these two articles of property, you observe, my friend, being much more their own, and much more valuable things, if they knew it, than china and timepieces—on these they [318]do make an annual income, and turn them over, as you call it, several times perhaps in the year.

Now if beauty of body and wit of tongue can be thus made sources of income, you will rank them perhaps, even as I do, among articles of wealth.

But, in old usury, there was yet another kind of treasure held account of, namely—Beauty of Heart, and Wit of Brains;—or what was shortly called by the Greek usurers, Psyche—(you may have heard the word before, my practical friend; but I do not expect you to follow me further). And this Psyche, or Soul, was held by the two great old masters of economy—that is to say, by Plato and David—the best property of all that a man had; except only one thing, which the soul itself must be starved without, yet which you would never guess, my practical friend, if you guessed yourself into your grave, to be an article of property at all! The Law of God, of which David says, “My soul fainteth for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments,” or in terms which you can perhaps better understand, “The law of thy mouth is dearer unto me than thousands of gold and silver.”

But indeed the market value of this commodity has greatly fallen in these times. “Damn the Laws of God,” answered a City merchant of standing to a personal friend of mine, who was advising him the other day to take a little of that capital into his business. [319]

Then, finally, there is just one article of property more to be catalogued, and I have done. The Lawgiver Himself, namely; the Master of masters, whom, when, as human dogs, we discover, and can call our own Master, we are thenceforth ready to die for, if need be. Which Mr. Harrison and the other English gentlemen who are at present discussing, in various magazines, the meaning of the word ‘religion’5 (appearing never to have heard in the course of their education, of either the word ‘lictor’ or ‘ligature’) will find, is, was, and will be, among all educated scholars, the perfectly simple meaning of that ancient word; and that there can be no such thing, even for sentimental Mr. Harrison, as a religion of Manity, nor for the most orthodox hunting parson, as a religion of Dogity; nor for modern European civilization as a religion of Bitchity, without such submission of spirit to the worshipped Power as shall in the most literal sense ‘bind’ and chain us to it for ever.

And now, to make all matters as clear as may be, I will put down in the manner of a Dutch auction—proceeding to the lower valuation,—the articles of property, rightly so called, which belong to any human creature.

I. The Master, or Father, in the old Latin phrase, [320]‘Pater Noster;’ of whom David wrote, “Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee;” but this possession, includes in Plato’s catalogue, the attendant spirits, “θεοὺς, ὄντας δεσπότας, καὶ τοὺς τούτοις ἑπομένους”—“the Gods, being Masters, and those next to them,” specially signified in another place as “the Gods, and the Angels, and the Heroes, and the Spirits of our Home, and our Ancestors.”

II. The Law or Word of God, which the Bible Society professes to furnish for eighteenpence. But which, indeed, as often heretofore stated in Fors Clavigera, is by no means to be had at that low figure; the whole long hundred and nineteenth Psalm being little more than one agonizing prayer for the gift of it: and a man’s life well spent if he has truly received and learned to read ever so little a part of it.

III. The Psyche, in its sanity, and beauty (of which, when I have finished my inventory, I will give Plato’s estimate in his own words). Some curious practical results have followed from the denial of its existence by modern philosophers; for the true and divine distinction between ‘genera’ of animals, and quite the principal ‘origin of species’ in them, is in their Psyche: but modern naturalists, not being able to vivisect the Psyche, have on the whole resolved that animals are to be classed by their bones; and whereas, for instance, [321]by divine distinction of Psyche, the Dog and Wolf are precisely opposite creatures in their function to the sheepfold; and, spiritually, the Dominican, or Dog of the Lord, is for ever in like manner opposed to the Wolf of the Devil, modern science, finding Dog and Wolf indistinguishable in their Bones, declares them to be virtually one and the same animal.6

IV. The Body, in its sanity and beauty: strength of it being the first simple meaning of what the Greeks called virtue: and the eternity of it being the special doctrine of the form of religion professed in Christendom under the name of Christianity.

V. The things good and pleasing to the Psyche; as the visible things of creation,—sky, water, flowers, and the like; and the treasured-up words or feats of other Spirits.

VI. The things good and pleasing to the Body; summed under the two heads of Bread and Wine, brought forth by the Amorite King of Salem.

VII. The documents giving claim to the possession [322]of these things, when not in actual possession; or ‘money.’

This catalogue will be found virtually to include all the articles of wealth which men can either possess or lend, (for the fourth, fully understood, means the entire treasure of domestic and social affection;) and the law of their tenure is that a man shall neither sell nor lend that which is indeed his own; neither his God, his conscience, his soul, his body, or his wife’s; his country, his house, nor his tools. But that things which are not ‘his own,’ but over which he has charge or authority, (as of more land than he can plough, or more books than he can read,) these he is bound to lend or give, as he sees they may be made serviceable to others; and not for farther gain to himself. Thus his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury is, under penalties, bound to make his very excellent library at Lambeth serviceable to other scholars; but it is not at all permitted to his Grace, by the laws of God, to use any part of the income derived from his pretty estate on the slope of the Addington Hills, for the purchase of books, by the loan of which, in the manner of Mr. Mudie, to the ignorant inhabitants of the village of Croydon, his Grace may at once add to his income (not more than) five per cent. on the capital thus laid out in literature; and to his dignity as a Christian pastor. I know, as it happens, more about the heather than the rents of his Grace’s [323]estate at Addington; my father and I having taken much pleasure in its bloom, and the gleaming of bluebells amongst it—when he, in broken health, sought any English ground that Scottish flowers grew on, and I was but a child;—so that I thought it would please him to be laid in his last rest at the feet of those brown hills. And thus, as I say, I know somewhat of their flowers, but never inquired into their rents; and perhaps, as I rather hope, the sweet wood and garden ground serve only for his Grace’s entertainment—not emolument: but even if only so, in these hard times his Grace must permit me to observe that he has quite as much earthly ground and lodging as any angel of the Lord can be supposed to require; and is under no necessity of adding to his possessions by the practice of usury. I do not know if the Archbishop has in his library the works of Mr. Thackeray; but he probably has sometimes relieved his studies of the Christian Fathers with modern literature, and may remember a figure of an amiable and economical little school-boy who begins life by lending three halfpence, early in the week, to the boys who had outrun their income, for four halfpence at the week’s end. The figure of the same little boy grown into an Archbishop, and making a few pence extra on his episcopal income by the loan of his old school books, did not, it appears, suggest itself to the lamented author; but here it is, in relief, for us:— [324]

East Surrey Hall, Museum and Library Company


Registered under the Companies Acts, 1862 and 1867.


His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury.


  • Granville Leveson Gower, Esq., High Sheriff of Surrey.
  • S. Birch, Esq., LL.D., etc., British Museum.
  • Rev. Dr. Moffat, late African Missionary.
  • The High Bailiff of the Borough of Southwark.
  • The Mayor of Reigate.

It is proposed to found at Croydon7 an Institution to be called the East Surrey Hall, Museum and Library. This Institution, to be placed in the largest town of Surrey, is intended for the benefit and use of the whole county.

The Hall will be adapted for public meetings of every description, and it is hoped that it will also be an ornament to the town.

In the Museum it is intended to form a collection of objects of historic, scientific, and artistic interest, particularly of such as may be found in the County of Surrey. The Museum will be free.

The Library will consist of standard works of reference, arranged in rooms suitably furnished for the [325]purposes of reading and study. In addition to works on general literature, it is intended to place in this Library, Books, Maps, and everything of the like nature, tending to elucidate the History, Topography, etc., of the County of Surrey, and especially of the Parish of Croydon. In the Company’s Memorandum of Association it is expressly stipulated that one department of this Library shall be Free.

Other parts of the building will be so arranged as to be suitable for occupation, or for letting as offices to Friendly Societies and other Public Bodies.

The Capital required to found this Institution will be raised by means of Donations and One Pound Shares.

The Donations will be applied to carrying out all or any of the above objects, according as the Donor may desire.

The Articles of Association provide that “no dividend shall be declared in any one year exceeding in amount £5 per cent. per annum upon the amount of the Capital of the Company for the time being called up. If, in any one year, the net earnings of the Company would allow of a dividend exceeding in amount the said dividend of £5 per cent. per annum being declared, the Directors shall employ the surplus earnings in improving the buildings of the Company, or in the purchase of additional stock or effects, or otherwise, for the benefit of the Company, as the Directors for the time being shall from time to time determine.” [326]

I am weary, this morning, with vainly trying to draw the Madonna-herb clustered on the capitals of St. Mark’s porch; and mingling its fresh life with the marble acanthus leaves which saw Barbarossa receive the foot of the Primate of Christendom on his neck;—wondering within myself all the while, which did not further my painting, how far the existing Primate of Canterbury, in modestly declining to set his foot upon the lion and the adder, was bettering the temper of the third Alexander; and wondering yet more whether the appointment—as vice-defender of the Faith for Her Majesty—of Lord Lonsdale to be curator of Lancashire souls, in the number implied by the catalogue of livings in his patronage, given in our fourth article of Correspondence, gave to the Lord of the Dales of Lune more of the character of the Pope, or the Lion?

What may be the real value of the Lancashire souls as a property in trust, we may, perhaps, as clearly gather from the following passage of Plato as from any Christian political economist.

“And now, whosoever has been content to hear me speaking of the Gods, and of our dear ancestors, let him yet hear me in this. For next to the Gods, of all his possessions his soul is the mightiest, being the most his own.

“And the nature of it is in all things twofold; the part that is stronger and better, ruling, and the part that is [327]weaker and worse, serving; and the part of it that rules is always to be held in honour before that that serves. I command, therefore, every man that he should rightly honour his soul, calling it sacred, next to the Gods and the higher Powers attendant on them.

“And indeed, to speak simply, none of us honours his soul rightly, but thinks he does. For Honour is a divine good, nor can any evil thing bring it,8 or receive; and he who thinks to magnify his soul by any gifts to it, or sayings, or submittings, which yet do not make it better, from less good, seems indeed to himself to honour it, but does so in nowise.

“For example, the boy just become man thinks himself able to judge of all things; and thinks that he honours his own soul in praising it; and eagerly commits to its doing whatsoever it chooses to do.

“But, according to what has been just said, in doing this he injures and does not honour his soul, which, second to the Gods, he is bound to honour.

“Neither when a man holds himself not guilty of his own errors, nor the cause of the most and the greatest evils that befall him9; but holds others to be guilty of them, and himself guiltless, always;—honouring his own [328]soul, as it seems; but far away is he from doing this, for he injures it; neither when he indulges it with delights beyond the word and the praise of the Lawgiver10;—then he in nowise honours it, but disgraces, filling it with weaknesses and repentances; neither when he does not toil through, and endure patiently, the contraries of these pleasures, the divinely praised Pains, and Fears, and Griefs, and Mournings, but yields under them; then he does not honour it in yielding; but, in doing all these things, accomplishes his soul in dishonour; neither (even if living honourably)11 when he thinks that life is wholly good, does he honour it, but shames it, then also weakly allowing his soul in the thought that all things in the invisible world are evil; and not resisting it, nor teaching it that it does not know but that, so far from being evil, the things that belong to the Gods of that world may be for us the best of all things. Neither when we esteem beauty of body more than beauty of soul, for nothing born of the Earth is more honourable than what is born of Heaven; and he who thinks so of his soul knows not that he is despising his marvellous possession: neither when one desires to obtain money in any dishonourable way, or having so obtained it, is not indignant and unhappy [329]therefore—does he honour his soul with gifts; far otherwise; he has given away the glory and honour of it for a spangle of gold; and all the gold that is on the earth, and under the earth, is not a price for virtue.”

That is as much of Plato’s opinions concerning the Psyche as I can write out for you to-day; in next Fors, I may find you some parallel ones of Carpaccio’s: meantime I have to correct a mistake in Fors, which it will be great delight to all Amorites to discover; namely, that the Princess, whom I judged to be industrious because she went on working while she talked to her father about her marriage, cannot, on this ground, be praised beyond Princesses in general; for, indeed, the little mischief, instead of working, as I thought,—while her father is leaning his head on his hand in the greatest distress at the thought of parting with her,—is trying on her marriage ring!



I. Affairs of the Company.

I am sending in gifts to the men at Sheffield, wealth of various kinds, in small instalments—but in secure forms. Five bits of opal; the market value of one, just paid to Mr. Wright, of Great Russell Street, £3; a beryl, of unusual shape, ditto, £2; a group of emeralds, from the mine of Holy Faith of Bogota, and two pieces of moss gold,—market value £2 10s.,—just paid to Mr. Tennant. Also, the first volume of the Sheffield Library; an English Bible of the thirteenth century,—market value £50,—just paid to Mr. Ellis. I tell these prices only to secure the men’s attention, because I am not sure what acceptant capacity they have for them. When once they recognize the things themselves to be wealth,—when they can see the opals, know the wonderfulness of the beryl, enjoy the loveliness of the golden fibres, read the illuminations of the Bible page,—they will not ask what the cost, nor consider what they can get for them. I don’t believe they will think even of lending their Bible out on usury.

I have no subscriptions, or other progress of the Society, to announce this month.

II. Affairs of the Master.

I am a little ashamed of my accounts this time, having bought a missal worth £320 for myself, and only given one worth £50 to Sheffield. I might state several reasons, more or less excusing this selfishness; one being that the £50 Bible is entirely perfect in every leaf, but mine wants the first leaf of Genesis; and is [332]not, therefore, with all its beauty, fit for the first volume of the library. But it is one of my present principles of action not at all to set myself up for a reformer, and it must be always one not to set up for a saint; and I must beg my severely judging readers, in the meantime, rather to look at what I have done, than at what I have left undone, of the things I ask others to do. To the St. George’s Fund I have given a tenth of my living,—and much more than the tenth of the rest was before, and is still, given to the poor. And if any of the rich people whom we all know will do as much as this, I believe you may safely trust them to discern and do what is right with the portion they keep, (if kept openly, and not Ananias-fashion,) and if you press them farther, the want of grace is more likely on your part than theirs. I have never, myself, felt so much contempt for any living creature as for a miserable Scotch woman—curiously enough of Burns’ country, and of the Holy Willy breed,—whom I once by mischance allowed to come and stay in my house; and who, asking, when I had stated some general truths of the above nature, “why I kept my own pictures;” and being answered that I kept them partly as a national property, in my charge, and partly as my tools of work,—said “she liked to see how people reasoned when their own interests were touched;”—the wretch herself evidently never in all her days having had one generous thought which could not have been smothered if it had touched ‘her own interest,’ and being therefore totally unable to conceive any such thought in others.

Farther, as to the price I ask for my books, and my continuing to take rent for my house property, and interest from the Bank, I must request my readers still for a time to withhold their judgment;—though I willingly insert the following remonstrance addressed to my publisher on the subject by an American Quaker gentleman, whose benevolent satisfaction in sending Mr. Sillar’s three shillings to St. George’s Fund, has induced him farther [333]to take this personal interest in the full carrying out of all my principles.

33, Oak Street, Rochester, N.Y., U.S.A.,

George Allen.

Respected Friend,—I have paid to the Post Office here, to be paid to thee in London, the equivalent of three shillings, which I have been requested to forward to thee for the St. George’s Fund, in payment for W. C. Sillar’s pamphlets on Usury.

Thy friend,
Edward Rushmore.

P.S.—I am a constant reader of Fors Clavigera, and was by it put in the way to obtain W. C. Sillar’s pamphlets. I have abandoned the practice of usury, and take pleasure in the thought that the payment for the pamphlets, though trifling, goes to St. George’s Fund. I sincerely wish Mr. Ruskin could feel it his duty to act promptly in withdrawing his money from usury. I think it would increase tenfold the force of his teaching on the subject. Please show this to him, if convenient.—E. Rushmore.

I am partly, indeed, of my correspondent’s way of thinking in this matter; but I must not allow myself to be dazzled by his munificence into an undue respect for his opinion; and I beg to assure him, and one or two other religious gentlemen who have had the goodness to concern themselves about my inconsistency, that the change in my mode of life which they wish me to carry out, while it would cause no inconvenience to me, seeing that I have before now lived in perfect comfort, and could now live in what is much more to me than comfort—peace—on a couple of guineas a week; plaguing myself no more either with authorship or philanthropy, and asking only so much charity from the Bursar of Corpus as to take charge for me of the sum of £2,000 sterling, and dole me out my guineas from that dead capital [334]monthly,—the surplus, less burial expenses, to be spent in MSS. for Corpus library at my death;—while, I say, this would be an entirely satisfactory arrangement, and serenely joyful release from care, to myself, it would be an exceedingly inconvenient arrangement to a number of persons who are at present dependent on me for daily bread, and who, not sharing my views about Interest, would have no consolation in their martyrdom. For which, and sundry valid reasons besides, I once for all assure my conscientious correspondents that the time is not yet come for me to do more than I have done already, and that I shall receive without cavilling, or asking for more, the tenth part of their own fortunes for St. George, with extreme pleasure.

The Master’s Accounts.

£ s. d.
Aug. 21. Crawleya 30 0 0
George Inn, Aylesburyb 30 0 0
23. Circular notesc 200 0 0
Down’s 50 0 0
25. Annie Brickland 10 0 0
Sept. 1. Raffaelle 10 0 0
Bernard Quaritch 320 0 0
£655 0 0
Balance, Aug. 15th 596 12 8
Sale of £500 Bank Stock 1279 8 0
1876 0 8
655 0 0
Balance, Sept. 15th £1221 0 8

a Quarterly wages. 

b Representing some dinners to friends; also exploring drives in the neighbourhood. 

c Fast melting away in expensive inns, the only ones in which I can be quiet. If some pious young English boys and girls, instead of setting up for clergymen and clergywomen, would set up, on their marriage, for publicans, and keep clean parlours, lavendered sheets, and honest fare, all for honest price, for poor wanderers like myself, I doubt not their reward would be great in Heaven. 


III. From ‘Carlisle Journal.’

“The deceased nobleman was the third Earl of the second creation of the title. He was born on the 27th of March, 1818, and was consequently fifty-eight years of age when he died. He was educated at Westminster and Trinity College, Cambridge, taking the degree of M.A. in 1838. In 1841, he entered the Life Guards as Cornet, and retired as Captain in 1854. From 1847 to 1872 he represented West Cumberland in Parliament in the Conservative interest, and succeeded to the title of Earl of Lonsdale upon the death of his uncle in 1872. He was Lord-Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorum of Cumberland and Westmoreland, Hon. Colonel of the Royal Cumberland Militia, and of Cumberland Rifle Volunteers, and Lieutenant-Colonel of Westmoreland and Cumberland Yeomanry Cavalry.

“The Earl was patron of more than forty church livings in this diocese. The following, forty-three in number, were, for the most part, wholly at his disposal, and of course descend to his successor:—Aikton, Armathwaite, Bootle, Bolton, Bowness, Brigham, Buttermere, Cockermouth, Cleator, Corney, Distington, Embleton, Gosforth, Hensingham, Haile, Kirkandrews-upon-Eden, Kirkbride, Lorton, Loweswater, Morseby, Mosser, St. Bees, Threlkeld, Whicham, Whitbeck; St. James, Christ Church, St. Nicholas, and Holy Trinity, Whitehaven; Askham, Bampton, Barton, Kirkby Stephen, Lowther, Patterdale, Clifton, Ravenstondale, Shap, Startforth (Yorkshire), Bampton Kirk, Orton, St. John’s-in-the-Vale, and Crosthwaite.

“The late Lord Lonsdale never took a prominent public part in political life, although he had a seat in the House of Commons for twenty-five years; but he had won much personal popularity as a country gentleman. In agriculture he was naturally interested, the rental of his landed estates in Cumberland alone being over £40,000 a year, and in Westmoreland nearly as much more; but it was that department concerning the breeding [336]of horses to which he turned most attention. In the development of this taste he became an active member of the Turf. His horse ‘King Lud’ won the Cesarewitch Stakes in 1873, and it was its noble owner’s ambition to win the Cumberland Plate with it the following year. An unfortunate accident, however, lost him the race, and as in the previous year the breakdown of ‘The Preacher’ had also proved a disappointment, he did not try again. But horse-racing was not the only kind of sport with which the late Earl was closely connected. In the hunting-field he was a popular M.F.H., but only the other day it was announced that failing health had compelled him to say that he could not after next season hunt the Cottesmore hounds, of which he has held the mastership for six years.

“The remains of the deceased peer were removed to Lowther Castle on Tuesday evening, and several members of the Town and Harbour Board accompanied them from Whitehaven Castle to the railway station. The hearse was followed by two mourning coaches, containing the Viscount Lowther and Colonel Williams; Mr. R. A. Robinson, Mr. Mawson, and Mr. Borthwick. After these followed servants in the employ of the late lord, the trustees, and other inhabitants.

“The funeral will probably take place to-morrow or on Monday, at the family mausoleum at Lowther.

“The flags on the public buildings of Whitehaven and Carlisle have since Tuesday been displayed half-mast high.”—Carlisle Journal, August 18th, 1876.

The ‘Sportsman’ contains the following memoir of the late Lord Lonsdale as a patron of the Turf:—“When he succeeded his uncle to the title of Earl of Lonsdale in 1872, he relinquished his Parliamentary duties. It was then that the observance of a very ancient custom devolved upon him—that of [337]giving a cup to be raced for on Burgh Marsh, the contest to be confined to horses bred in the barony. The only occasions of race meetings being held on the Marsh, or foreshores of the Solway, are when there is a new Lord-Lieutenant of Cumberland, and from having assisted at the meeting—the management of which was entrusted to Mr. Lawley—I can well remember with what zeal his lordship entered into the rural sports, and the graceful speech he made when he presented the cup to Major Browne, who won with ‘The Crow,’ a son of ‘Grand Secret,’ that had been travelling the county. It was the especial delight of Lord Lonsdale that the winner was ridden by Jem Snowdon—a native of Carlisle; and he presented the jockey with a handsome whip, and complimented the Cumberland horseman on his riding. There were not less than sixty thousand people present, and within almost a stone’s throw of the Grand Stand was the monument put up to mark the spot where died King Edward, who was on his way to Scotland when death overtook him. Lord Lonsdale acted as steward of Carlisle Races for years, and he took a great deal of interest in the meeting, as he also did in the local gathering on Harras Moor, close to Whitehaven.”

IV. I am very grateful for the following piece of letter, (as for all other kindness from the Companion to whom I owe it;) and really I think it is “enough to make one give up wearing Valenciennes.”

“My dear Master,—I have tried in vain to resist those words in the August Fors,—‘some one tell me,’ but at last resolve to say my say, trusting to your indulgence if it is in vain.

“Some years ago, a friend of mine visiting Brussels went over the Royal Lace Manufactory, and seeing a woman busily at work on a very fine, and, according to the then fashion, large, collar, went up to her, and inquired how long she had been over this one [338]piece. The woman answered, four years; and handed the work for my friend to examine more closely, but without changing her position, or lifting her eyes from the spot on which they were fixed; and on being asked the reason of this, said it would take too long time to have again to fix her eyes, so she kept them to the one spot through all the working hours. This is quite true. But the women were working in a large, light room—I doubt the correctness of the dark cellar, and do not see the reason for it—but all who have ever done any fine work can understand the loss of time in moving the eyes. But, after all, is lace-making worse for women than the ceaseless treadle movement of the sewing-machine? Lace-making hurts eyes only; the machine injures the whole woman—so I am told.”

V. A letter from a Methodist minister, though written on the 14th, only reaches me here at Venice on the 28th. It will appear in next Fors. The gist of it is contradiction of Mr. Sillar’s statement that the Wesleyans altered John Wesley’s rules. “The alterations, whether good or bad,” (says my new correspondent,) “were made by himself.” I am not surprised to hear this; for had Wesley been a wise Christian, there would no more, now, have been Wesleyan than Apollosian ministers. [339]

1 I suppose myself, in the rest of this letter, to be addressing a “business man of the nineteenth century.” 

2 Thus, in the earlier numbers of Fors, I have observed more than once, to the present landholders of England, that they may keep their lands—if they can! Only let them understand that trial will soon be made, by the Laws of Nature, of such capacity in them. 

3 A masterless dog, I should have written, but wanted to keep my sentence short and down to my practical friend’s capacity. For if the dog have the good fortune to find a master, he has a possession thenceforth, better than bones; and which, indeed, he will, at any moment, leave, not his meat only, but his life for. 

4 It is a very subtle and lovely one, not to be discussed hurriedly. 

5 See ‘definition’ quoted as satisfactory in ‘Anthropological Magazine,’ “the belief in spiritual beings,” which would make the devil a religious person, inasmuch as he both believes—and fears. 

6 See the last results of modern enlightenment on this subject in Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins’s directions for the scientific representation of Dogs, illustrated by the charming drawings of that great artist;—especially compare the learned outlines of head and paw in Plate II., and the delineation of head without Psyche in Plate III., with the ignorant efforts of Velasquez in such extremities and features in our fourth photograph. Perhaps Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins will have the goodness, in his next edition, to show us how Velasquez ought to have expressed the Scapholinear, Cuneiform, Pisiform, Trapezium, Trapezoid, Magnum, and Unciform bones in those miserably drawn fore-paws. 

7 Being somewhat interested in Croydon, as readers of past Fors know, and in Museums also, I give large print to these proposals. 

8 I have no doubt of the mingled active sense of τίμιος in this sentence, necessary by the context; while also the phrase would be a mere flat truism, if the word were used only in its ordinary passive meaning. 

9 To see clearly that whatever our fates may have been, the heaviest calamity of them—and, in a sort, the only real calamity—is our own causing, is the true humility which indeed we profess with our lips, when our heart is far from it. 

10 Pleasures which the Word of God, or of the earthly Lawgiver speaking in His Name, does not allow, nor praise; for all right pleasures it praises, and forbids sadness as a grievous sin. 

11 This parenthesis is in Plato’s mind, visibly, though not in his words. 



I am able at last to give you some of the long-promised opinions of Carpaccio on practical subjects; not that, except ironically, I ever call them ‘opinions.’ There are certain men who know the truths necessary to human life; they do not ‘opine’ them; and nobody’s ‘opinions,’ on any subject, are of any consequence opposed to them. Hesiod is one of these, Plato another, Dante another, Carpaccio is another. He speaks little, and among the inspired painters may be thought of as one of the lesser prophets; but his brief book is of extreme value.

I have been happy enough to get two of my faithful scholars to work upon it for me; and they have deciphered it nearly all—much more, at all events, than I can tell you either in this Fors, or in several to come. [340]

His message is written in the Venetian manner, by painting the myths of the saints, in his own way.

If you will look into the introduction to the ‘Queen of the Air,’ you will find it explained that a great myth can only be written in the central time of a nation’s power. This prophecy of Carpaccio’s may be thought of by you as the sweetest, because the truest, of all that Venice was born to utter: the painted syllabling of it is nearly the last work and word of her’s in true life. She speaks it, and virtually, thereafter, dies, or begins to die.

It is written in a series of some eighteen to twenty pictures, chiefly representing the stories of St. Ursula, St. George, and St. Jerome.

The first, in thoughtful order, of these, the dream of St. Ursula, has been already partly described in Fors; (August, 1872, p. 14). The authorities of the Venetian Academy have been kind enough to take the picture down and give it me to myself, in a quiet room, where I am making studies, which I hope will be of use in Oxford, and elsewhere.

But there is this to be noted before we begin; that of these three saints, whose stories Carpaccio tells, one is a quite real one, on whose penman’s work we depend for our daily Bible-bread. Another, St. George, is a very dimly real one,—very disputable by American faith, and we owe to him, only in England, certain sentiments;—the Order of the Garter, and sundry sign-boards [341]of the George and Dragon. Venice supposed herself to owe more to him; but he is nevertheless, in her mind also, a very ghostly saint,—armour and all too light to sink a gondola.

Of the third, St. Ursula, by no industry of my good scholars, and none has been refused, can I find the slightest material trace. Under scholarly investigation, she vanishes utterly into the stars and the æther,—and literally, as you will hear, and see, into moonshine, and the modern German meaning of everything,—the Dawn.1 Not a relic, not a word remains of her, as what Mr. John Stuart Mill calls “a utility embodied in a material object.”

The whole of her utility is Immaterial—to us in England, immaterial, of late years, in every conceivable sense. But the strange thing is that Carpaccio paints, of the substantial and indisputable saint, only three small pictures; of the disputable saint, three more important ones; but of the entirely ærial saint, a splendid series, the chief labour of his life.

The chief labour;—and chief rest, or play, it seems also: questionable in the extreme as to the temper of Faith in which it is done.

We will suppose, however, at first, for your better [342]satisfaction, that in composing the pictures he no more believed there ever had been a Princess Ursula than Shakspeare, when he wrote Midsummer Night’s Dream, believed there had been a Queen Hippolyta: and that Carpaccio had just as much faith in angels as Shakspeare in fairies—and no more. Both these artists, nevertheless, set themselves to paint, the one fairies, the other angels and saints, for popular—entertainment, (say your modern sages,) or popular—instruction, it may yet appear. But take it your own way; and let it be for popular amusement. This play, this picture which I am copying for you, were, both of them we will say, toys, for the English and Venetian people.

Well, the next question is, whether the English and Venetians, when they could be amused with these toys, were more foolish than now, when they can only be amused with steam merry-go-rounds.

Below St. George’s land at Barmouth, large numbers of the English populace now go to bathe. Of the Venetians, beyond St. George’s island, many go now to bathe on the sands of Lido. But nobody thinks of playing a play about queens and fairies, to the bathers on the Welsh beach. The modern intellectual teacher erects swings upon the beach. There the suspended population oscillate between sea and sky, and are amused. Similarly in Venice, no decorative painter at Lido thinks of painting pictures of St. Nicholas of the Lido, to amuse the modern Venetian. The white-necktied orchestra [343]plays them a ‘pot-pourri,’ and their steamer squeaks to them, and they are amused.

And so sufficiently amused, that I, hearing with sudden surprise and delight the voice of native Venetian Punch last night, from an English ship, and instantly inquiring, with impatience, why I had not had the happiness of meeting him before, found that he was obliged to take refuge as a runaway, or exile, under the British Flag, being forbidden in his own Venice, for evermore—such the fiat of liberty towards the first Apostolic Vicar thereof.

I am willing, however, for my own part, to take Carpaccio a step farther down in the moral scale still. Suppose that he painted this picture, not even to amuse his public—but to amuse himself!

To a great extent I know that this is true. I know,—(you needn’t ask how, because you can’t be shown how,—but I do know, trust me,) that he painted this picture greatly to amuse himself, and had extreme delight in the doing of it; and if he did not actually believe that the princess and angels ever were, at least he heartily wished there had been such persons, and could be.

Now this is the first step to real faith. There may never have been saints: there may be no angels,—there may be no God. Professors Huxley and Tyndall are of opinion that there is no God: they have never found one in a bottle. Well: possibly there isn’t; [344]but, my good Sheffield friends, do you wish there was? or are you of the French Republican opinion—“If there were a God, we should have to shoot him” as the first great step towards the “abolition of caste” proposed by our American friends?2

You will say, perhaps,—It is not a proper intellectual state to approach such a question in, to wish anything about it. No, assuredly not,—and I have told you so myself, many a time. But it is an entirely proper state to fit you for being approached by the Spirits that you wish for, if there are such. And if there are not, it can do you no harm.

Nor, so long as you distinctly understand it to be a wish, will it warp your intellect. “Oh, if I had but Aladdin’s lamp, or Prince Houssain’s carpet!” thinks the rightly-minded child, reading its ‘Arabian Nights.’ But he does not take to rubbing his mother’s lamps, nor to squatting on scraps of carpet, hopefully.

Well—concerning these Arabian nights of Venice and the Catholic Church. Carpaccio thinks,—“Oh, if there had but been such a Princess as this—if there could but be! At least I can paint one, and delight myself in the image of her!”

Now, can you follow him so far as this? Do you really wish there were such a Princess? Do you so much as want any kind of Princess? Or are your aims fixed on the attainment of a world so constituted [345]that there shall be no Princesses in it any more,—but only Helps in the kitchen, who shall “come upstairs to play the piano,” according to the more detailed views of the American Socialist, displayed in our correspondence.

I believe you can scarcely so much as propose this question to yourselves, not knowing clearly what a Princess is. For a Princess is truly one of the members of that Feudal System which, I hear on all hands, is finally ended. If it be so, it is needful that I should explain to you specifically what the Feudal System was, before you can wish for a Princess, or any other part of it, back again.

The Feudal System begins in the existence of a Master, or Mister; and a Mistress,—or, as you call her, Missis,—who have deputed authority over a piece of land, hereditarily theirs; and absolute authority in their own house, or home, standing on such land: authority essentially dual, and not by any means admitting two masters, or two missises, still less our American friend’s calculated desirable quantity of 150, mixed. And the office of a Master implies the office of Servants; and of a Mistress, the office of Maids. These are the first Four Chemical Elements of the Feudal System.

The next members of it in order of rank are the Master of the Masters, and Mistress of the Mistresses; of whom they hold their land in fee, and who are recognized still, in a sort, as landlord and landlady, though for the most part now degenerate into mere [346]tax-gatherers; but, in their true office, the administrators of law concerning land, and magistrates, and hearers of appeal between household and household:3 their duty involving perfect acquaintance and friendship with all the households under their rule; and their dominion, therefore, not by any possibility extending over very large space of territory,—what is commonly called in England an ‘estate’ being usually of approximately convenient space.

The next members of the Feudal System in order of rank, are the Lord of the Landlords, and Lady of the Landladies; commonly called their Duke, Doge, or leader, and Duchess or Dogaressa: the authority of this fourth member of the Feudal System being to enforce law and hear appeal between Lord and Lord; and to consult with them respecting the harmonious government of their, estates over such extent of land as may from some speciality of character be managed by common law referring to some united interest,—as, for instance, Cumberland, by a law having reference to pastoral life, Cornwall by laws involving the inspection of mines of tin, and the like,—these provinces, or shires, having each naturally a capital city, cathedral, town hall, and municipality of merchants.

As examples of which Fourth Order4 in the Feudal System, the Dukes and Dukedoms of York, Lancaster, [347]Venice, Milan, Florence, Orleans, and Burgundy, may be remembered by you as having taken very practical part in the government, or, it may be, misgovernment, of the former world.

Then the persons of the Fifth Order, in the Feudal System, are the Duke of the Dukes, and Duchess of the Duchesses, commonly called the King and Queen, having authority and magistracy over the Dukes of the provinces, to the extent in which such provinces may be harmoniously joined in a country or kingdom, separated from other portions of the world by interests, manners, and dialect.

Then the Sixth Order in the Feudal System, much, of late years, misunderstood, and even forgotten, is that of the Commander or Imperator of the Kings; having the same authority and office of hearing appeal among the Kings of kingdoms, as they among the Dukes of provinces.

The systems of all human civilized governments resolve themselves finally into the balance of the Semitic and lapetic powers under the anointed Cyrus of the East and Karl of the West.5

The practical power of the office has been necessarily lost since the Reformation; and in recent debates in an English Parliament on this subject, it appeared that [348]neither the Prime Minister of England, nor any of her Parliamentary representatives, had the slightest notion of the meaning of the word.

The reason that the power of the office has been lost since the Reformation, is that all these temporal offices are only perfected, in the Feudal System, by their relative spiritual offices. Now, though the Squire and the Rector still in England occupy their proper symmetrical position, the equally balanced authority of the Duke and Bishop has been greatly confused: that of the King and Cardinal was so even during the fully animated action of both; and all conception of that of the Emperor and Pope is of course dead in Protestant minds.

But there was yet, in the Feudal System, one Seventh and Final Authority, of which the imagination is like to be also lost to Protestant minds. That of the King of Kings, and Ruler of Empires; in whose ordinances and everlasting laws, and in ‘feudom’ or faith and covenant with whom, as the Giver of Land and Bread, all these subordinate powers lived, and moved, and had their being.

And truly if, since we cannot find this King of Kings in the most carefully digested residuum, we are sure that we cannot find Him anywhere; and if, since by no fineness of stopper we can secure His essence in a bottle, we are sure that we cannot stay Him anywhere, truly what I hear on all hands is correct; and the Feudal [349]System, with all consequences and members thereof, is verily at an end.

In the meantime, however, you can now clearly understand the significance, in that system, of the word Princess, meaning a King’s daughter, bred in such ways and knowledges as may fit her for dominion over nations. And thus you can enjoy, if otherwise in a humour for its enjoyment, the story of the Princess Ursula, here following,—though for the present you may be somewhat at a loss to discern the practical bearings of it; which, however, if you will note that the chief work of the Princess is to convert the savage minds of the ‘English,’ or people of Over-sea, from the worship of their god ‘Malcometto,’ to the ‘rule of St. John the Baptist,’—you may guess to be in some close connection with the proposed ‘practice’ of St. George’s Company; not less, indeed, than the functions of Carpaccio’s other two chiefly worshipped saints.

The legends of St. Ursula, which were followed by him, have been collated here at Venice, and reduced to this pleasant harmony, in true help to me, by my good scholar James Reddie Anderson. For whose spirit thus active with us, no less than for the spirit, at rest, of the monk who preserved the story for us, I am myself well inclined to say another Pater and Ave. [350]


There was once a just and most Christian King of Britain, called Maurus. To him and to his wife Daria was born a little girl, the fairest creature that this earth ever saw. She came into the world wrapped in a hairy mantle, and all men wondered greatly what this might mean. Then the King gathered together his wise men to inquire of them. But they could not make known the thing to him, for only God in Heaven knew how the rough robe signified that she should follow holiness and purity all her days, and the wisdom of St. John the Baptist. And because of the mantle, they called her ‘Ursula,’ ‘Little Bear.’

Now Ursula grew day by day in grace and loveliness, and in such wisdom that all men marvelled. Yet should they not have marvelled, since with God all things are possible. And when she was fifteen years old she was a light of all wisdom, and a glass of all beauty, and a fountain of scripture and of sweet ways. Lovelier woman there was not alive. Her speech was so full of all delight that it seemed as though an angel of Paradise had taken human flesh. And in all the kingdom no weighty thing was done without counsel of Ursula.

So her fame was carried through the earth, and a King [351]of England, a heathen of over-seas, hearing, was taken with the love of her. And he set all his heart on having her for wife to his son Æther, and for daughter in his home. So he sent a mighty and honourable embassy, of earls and marquesses, with goodly company of knights, and ladies, and philosophers; bidding them, with all courtesy and discretion, pray King Maurus to give Ursula in marriage to Æther. “But,” he said, “if Maurus will not hear your gentle words, open to him all my heart, and tell him that I will ravage his land with fire, and slay his people, and make himself die a cruel death, and will, after, lead Ursula away with me. Give him but three days to answer, for I am wasted with desire to finish the matter, and hold Ursula in my ward.”

But when the ambassadors came to King Maurus, he would not have his daughter wed a heathen; so, since prayers and gifts did not move him, they spoke out all the threats. Now the land of Britain was little, and its soldiers few, while the heathen was a mighty King and a conqueror; so Maurus, and his Queen, and his councillors, and all the people, were in sore distress.

But on the evening of the second day, Ursula went into her chamber, and shut close the doors; and before the image of the Father, who is very pitiful, prayed all night with tears, telling how she had vowed in her heart to live a holy maiden all her days, having Christ alone for spouse. But, if His will were that she should wed the son of the heathen King, she prayed that wisdom [352]might be given her, to turn the hearts of all that people who knew not faith nor holiness; and power to comfort her father and mother, and all the people of her fatherland.

And when the clear light of dawn was in the air, she fell asleep. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to her in a dream, saying, “Ursula, your prayer is heard. At the sunrising you shall go boldly before the ambassadors of the King of Over-sea, for the God of Heaven shall give you wisdom, and teach your tongue what it should speak.” When it was day, Ursula rose to bless and glorify the name of God. She put on for covering and for beauty an enwrought mantle like the starry sky, and was crowned with a coronet of gems. Then, straightway passing to her father’s chamber, she told him what grace had been done to her that night, and all that now was in her heart to answer to the ambassadors of Over-sea. So, though long he would not, she persuaded her father.

Then Maurus, and his lords and councillors, and the ambassadors of the heathen King, were gathered in the Hall of Council. And when Ursula entered the place where these lords were, one said to the other, “Who is this that comes from Paradise?” For she moved in all noble gentleness, with eyes inclined to earth, learned, and frank, and fair, delightful above all women upon earth. Behind her came a hundred maidens, clothed in white silk, fair and lovely. They shone [353]brightly as the stars, but Ursula shone as the moon and the evening star.

Now this was the answer Ursula made, which the King caused to be written, and sealed with the royal seal, and gave to the ambassadors of the King of Over-sea.

“I will take,” she said, “for spouse, Æther, the son of my lord the King of Over-sea. But I ask of my lord three graces, and with heart and soul7 pray of him to grant them.

“The first grace I ask is this, that he, and the Queen, and their son, my spouse, be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

“The second grace is that three years may be given me, before the bridal, in which to go to and fro upon the sea, that I may visit the bodies of the Saints in Rome, and the blessed places of the Holy Land.

“And for the last grace, I ask that he choose ten fair maidens of his kingdom, and with each of these a thousand more, all of gentle blood, who shall come to me here, in Britain, and go with me in gladness upon the sea, following this my holy pilgrimage.”

Then spake one of the nobles of the land to Maurus, saying, “My lord the King, this your daughter is the Dove of Peace come from Paradise, the same that in the days of the Flood brought to the Ark of Noah the olive-branch of good news.” And at the answer, were the ambassadors so full of joy that they wellnigh could [354]not speak, and with praise and triumph they went their way, and told their master all the sweet answer of Ursula.

Then my lord the King said, “Praised and blessed be the name of our God Malcometto, who has given my soul for comfort that which it desired. Truly there is not a franker lady under the wheel of the sun; and by the body of my mother I swear there is nothing she can ask that I will not freely give. First of the maidens she desires shall be my daughter Florence.” Then all his lords rose, man by man, and gladly named, each, his child.

So the will of Ursula was done; and that King, and all his folk, were baptized into the Holy Faith. And Æther, with the English maidens, in number above ten thousand, came to the land of Britain.

Then Ursula chose her own four sisters, Habila, and Julia, and Victoria, and Aurea, and a thousand daughters of her people, with certain holy bishops, and great lords, and grave councillors, and an abbot of the order of St. Benedict, men full of all wisdom, and friends of God.

So all that company set sail in eleven ships, and passing this way and that upon the sea, rejoiced in it, and in this their maiden pilgrimage. And those who dwelt by the shores of the sea came forth in multitudes to gaze upon them as they passed, and to each man it appeared a delightful vision. For the ships sailed in fair order, side by side, with sound of sweet psalms and [355]murmur of the waters. And the maidens were clad, some in scarlet and some in pure samite, some in rich silk of Damascus, some in cloth of gold, and some in the purple robe that is woven in Judea. Some wore crowns, others garlands of flowers. Upon the shoulder of each was the visible cross, in the hands of each a pilgrim’s staff, by their sides were pilgrims’ scrips, and each ship’s company sailed under the gonfalon of the Holy Cross. Ursula in the midst was like a ray of sunlight, and the Angel of the Lord was ever with them for guide.

So in the holy time of Lent they came to Rome. And when my Lord the Pope came forth, under the Castle of St. Angelo, with great state, to greet them, seeing their blessed assembly, he put off the mantle of Peter, and with many bishops, priests, and brothers, and certain cardinals, set himself to go with them on their blessed pilgrimage.

At length they came to the land of Slavonia, whose ruler was friend and liegeman to the Soldan of Babylon. Then the Lord of the Saracens sent straightway to the Soldan, telling what a mighty company had come to his land, and how they were Christian folk. And the Soldan gathered all his men of war, and with great rage the host of the heathen made against the company of Ursula.

And when they were nigh, the Soldan cried and said, “What folk are ye?” And Ursula spake in answer, [356]“We are Christian folk: our feet are turned to the blessed tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ, for the saving of our souls, and that we may win grace to pass into eternal life, in the blessed Paradise.” And the Soldan answered, “Either deny your God, or I will slay you all with the sword. So shall ye die a dolorous death, and see your land no more.” And Ursula answered, “Even so we desire to be sure witnesses for the name of God, declaring and preaching the glory of His name; because He has made heaven and earth and the sea by His Word; and afterward all living things; and afterward has willed, Himself, to die, for our salvation and glory. And who follows Him shall go to rejoice in His Fatherland and in His Kingdom.”

Then she turned to her people: “My sisters and my brothers, in this place God has given us great grace. Embrace and make it sure, for our death in this place will be life perpetual, and joy, and sweetness never-ending. And there, above, we shall be with the Majesty and the angels of Paradise.” Then she called her spouse to comfort and teach him. And he answered her with these words, “To me it appears three thousand years that death is a-coming, so much have I already tasted of the sweetness of Paradise.”

Then the Soldan gave commandment that they should all be slain with the sword. And so was it done.

Yet when he saw Ursula standing, in the midst of all that slaughter, like the fairest stalk of corn in harvest, [357]and how she was exceeding lovely, beyond the tongues of this earth to tell, he would have saved her alive, and taken her for wife. But when she would not, and rebuked him, he was moved with anger. Now there was a bow in his hand, and he set an arrow on the string, and drew it with all his strength, and it pierced the heart of the glorious maiden. So she went to God.

And one maiden only, whose name was Corbula, through fear hid herself in the ship. But God, who had chosen all that company, gave her heart, and with the dawn of the next day she came forth willingly, and received the martyr’s crown.

Thus all were slain, and all are gone to Paradise, and sing the glad and sweet songs of Paradise.

Whosoever reads this holy history, let him not think it a great thing to say an Our Father, and a Hail Mary, for the soul of him who has written it.

Thus far the old myth. You shall hear now in what manner such a myth is re-written by a great man, born in the days of a nation’s strength.

Carpaccio begins his story with what the myth calls a dream. But he wishes to tell you that it was no dream,—but a vision;—that a real angel came, and was seen by Ursula’s soul, when her mortal eyes were closed.

“The Angel of the Lord,” says the legend. What!—thinks Carpaccio;—to this little maid of fifteen, the [358]angel that came to Moses and Joshua? Not so, but her own guardian angel.

Guardian, and to tell her that God will guide her heart to-morrow, and put His own answer on her lips, concerning her marriage. Shall not such angel be crowned with light, and strew her chamber with lilies?

There is no glory round his head; there is no gold on his robes; they are of subdued purple and gray. His wings are colourless—his face calm, but sorrowful,—wholly in shade. In his right hand he bears the martyr’s palm; in his left, the fillet borne by the Greek angels of victory, and, together with it, gathers up, knotted in his hand, the folds of shroud8 with which the Etrurians veil the tomb. [359]

He comes to her, “in the clear light of morning;” the Angel of Death.

You see it is written in the legend that she had shut close the doors of her chamber.

They have opened as the angel enters,—not one only, but all in the room,—all in the house. He enters by one at the foot of her bed; but beyond it is another—open into the passage; out of that another into some luminous hall or street. All the window-shutters are wide open; they are made dark that you may notice them,—nay, all the press doors are open! No treasure bars shall hold, where this angel enters.

Carpaccio has been intent to mark that he comes in the light of dawn. The blue-green sky glows between the dark leaves of the olive and dianthus in the open window. But its light is low compared to that which enters behind the angel, falling full on Ursula’s face, in divine rest.

In the last picture but one, of this story, he has painted her lying in the rest which the angel came to bring; and in the last, is her rising in the eternal Morning.

For this is the first lesson which Carpaccio wrote [360]in his Venetian words for the creatures of this restless world,—that Death is better than their life; and that not bridegroom rejoices over bride as they rejoice who marry not, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God, in Heaven. [361]


I. Affairs of the Company.

Venice, October 20th.—I have sent for press, to-day, the fourth number of ‘Deucalion,’ in which will be found a statement of the system on which I begin the arrangement of the Sheffield Museum.

There are no new subscriptions to announce. Another donation, of fifty pounds, by Mrs. Talbot, makes me sadly ashamed of the apathy of all my older friends. I believe, in a little while now, it will be well for me to throw them all aside, and refuse to know any one but my own Companions, and the workmen who are willing to listen to me. I have spoken enough to the upper classes, and they mock me;—in the seventh year of Fors I will speak more clearly than hitherto,—but not to them.

Meantime, my Sheffield friends must not think I am neglecting them, because I am at work here in Venice, instead of among them. They will know in a little while the use of my work here. The following portions of letter from the Curator of our Museum, with the piece of biography in it, which I venture to print, in haste, assuming permission, will be of good service to good workers everywhere.

“H. Swan to J. Ruskin.

“Dear Master,—The interest in the Museum seems still increasing. Yesterday (Sunday), in addition to our usual allotment of casual calls at the Museum, we had a visit from a party of working men; two or three of them from Barnsley, but the most Sheffielders, among which last were several of those who came [362]to meet thee on the last occasion. Their object was a double one; first, to see what progress we were making with the Museum; and, secondly, to discuss the subject of Usury, the unlawfulness of which, in its ordinary aspects, being (unlike the land question) a perfectly new notion to all except one or two. The objection generally takes this shape: ‘If I have worked hard to earn twenty pounds, and it is an advantage to another to have the use of that twenty pounds, why should he get that advantage without paying me for it?’ To which my reply has been, There may, or may not, be reasons why the lender should be placed in a better position for using his powers of body or mind; but the special question for you, with your twenty pounds, now is, not what right has he to use the money without payment—(he has every right, if you give him leave; and none, if you don’t;)—the question you have to propose to yourself is this, ‘Why should I, as a man and a Christian, after having been paid for what I have earned, expect or desire to make an agreement by which I may get, from the labour of others, money I have not earned?’ Suppose, too, bail for a hundred pounds to be required for a prisoner in whose innocence you believed, would you say ‘I will be bail for the hundred pounds, but I shall expect five pounds from him for the advantage he will thereby get?’ No; the just man would weigh well whether it be right or no to undertake the bail; but, having determined, he would shrink from receiving the unearned money, as I believe the first unwarped instinct of a good man does still in the case of a loan.

“Although, as I have said, all question as to the right of what is called a moderate rate of interest was new to most of our visitors, yet I found a greater degree of openness to the truth than might have been expected. One of the most interesting parts of the discussion was the relation by one of the party of his own experiences, in years past, as a money-lender. ‘In the place where I used to work at that time,’ said he, ‘there was a very many of [363]a good sort of fellows who were not so careful of their money as I was, and they used often to run out of cash before the time came for them to take more. Well, knowing I was one that always had a bit by me, they used to come to me to borrow a bit to carry them through to pay-day. When they paid me, some would ask if I wanted aught for the use of it. But I only lent to pleasure them, and I always said, No, I wanted nought. One day, however, Jack —— came to me, and said, “Now, my lad, dost want to get more brass for thyself, and lay by money? because I can put thee in the way of doing it.” I said that was a great object for me. “Well,” said he, “thou must do as I tell thee. I know thou’rt often lending thy brass to them as want a lift. Now thou must make them pay for using thy money, and if thou works as I tell thee, it’ll grow and grow. And by-and-by they’ll be paying and paying for the use of their own money over and over again.” Well, I thought it would be a good thing for me to have the bits of cash come in and in, to help along with what I earned myself. So I told each of the men, as they came, that I couldn’t go on lending for nothing, and they must pay me a bit more when they got their pay. And so they did. After a time, Jack —— came again, and said, “Well, how’rt getting on?” So I told him what I was doing, and that seemed all right. After a time, he came again, and said, “Now thou finds what I said was right. The men can spare thee a bit for thy money, and it makes things a deal more comfortable for thyself. Now I can show thee how a hundred of thy money shall bring another hundred in.” “Nay,” said I, “thou canst not do that. That can’t be done.” “Nay, but it can,” said Jack. And he told me how to manage; and that when I hadn’t the cash, he would find it, and we’d halve the profits. [Say a man wants to borrow twenty pounds, and is to pay back at three shillings a week. The interest is first deducted for the whole time, so that if he agrees to pay only five per cent. he will receive but nineteen pounds; then the interest is more [364]than five per cent. on the money actually out during the very first week, while the rate gradually rises as the weekly payments come,—slowly at first, but at the last more and more rapidly, till, during the last month, the money-lender is obtaining two hundred per cent. for the amount (now, however, very small) still unpaid.]

“ ‘Well, it grew and grew. Hundreds and hundreds I paid and received every week, (and we found that among the poorest little shops it worked the best for us). At last it took such hold of me that I became a regular bloodsucker—a bloodsucker of poor folk, and nothing else. I was always reckoning up, night and day, how to get more and more, till I got so thin and ill I had to go to the doctor. It was old Dr. Sike, and he said, “Young man, you must give up your present way of work and life, or I can do nothing for you. You’ll get worse and worse.”

“ ‘So I thought and thought, and at last I made up my mind to give it all up, though I was then getting rich. But there was no blessing on what I’d got, and I lost it every farthing, and had to begin again as poor as I was when I first left the workhouse to learn a trade. And now, I’ve prospered and prospered in my little way till I’ve no cause to worry anyways about money, and I’ve a few men at work with me in my shop.

“ ‘Still, for all that, I don’t see why I shouldn’t have interest on the little capital I’ve saved up honestly; or how am I to live in my old age?’

“Another workman suggested, ‘Wouldn’t he be able to live on his capital?’ ‘Aye, but I want to leave that to somebody else,’ was the answer. [Yes, good friend, and the same excuse might be made for any form of theft.—J. R.]

“I will merely add, that if there were enforced and public account of the amount of monies advanced on loan, and if the true conditions and workings of those loans could be shown, there would be revealed such an amount of cruel stress upon the foolish, weak, and poor of the small tradesmen (a class far more [365]numerous than are needed) as would render it very intelligible why so many faces are seamed with lines of suffering and anxiety. I think it possible that the fungus growth and increasing mischief of these loan establishments may reach such a pitch as to necessitate legislative interference, as has been the case with gambling. But there will never fail modes of evading the law, and the sufficient cure will be found only when men shall consider it a dishonour to have it imputed to them that any portion of their income is derived from usury.”

The Union Bank of London (Chancery Lane Branch) in Account with the St. George’s Fund.

1876. Dr. £ s. d.
Aug. 16. To Balance. 94 3 4
Oct. 12. ” Draft at Bridgwater (per Mr. Ruskin) 50 0 0
24. ” (J. P. Stilwell) 25 0 0
£169 3 4
Cr. £ s. d.
Oct. 12. By Postage of Pass Book 0 0 3
25. Balance 169 3 1
£169 3 4

II. Affairs of the Master.

£ s. d. £ s. d.
Sept. 15. Balancea 1221 0 8
20. Kate 100 0 0
26. —— at Venice, Antoniob 50 0 0
Oct. 1. Secretary 25 0 0
3. Downs 50 0 0
5. Giftc 20 0 0
10. Loan 200 0 0
Jackson 50 0 0
——— 495 0 0
Oct. 15. Balance £726 0 8

a By report from Bank; but the ‘repayments’ named in it should not have been added to the cash account, being on separate account with the Company. I will make all clear in December. 

b For Signora Caldara (Venetian botany). 

c Nominally loan, to poor relation, but I do not suppose he will ever be able to pay me. The following £200 I do not doubt receiving again. 


III. I print the following letter with little comment, because I have no wish to discuss the question of the uses of Dissent with a Dissenting Minister; nor do I choose at present to enter on the subject at all. St. George, taking cognizance only of the postscript, thanks the Dissenting Minister for his sympathy; but encourages his own servant to persist in believing that the “more excellent way” (of Charity), which St. Paul showed, in the 13th of Corinthians, is quite as truly followed in devoting the funds at his said servant’s disposal to the relief of the poor, as in the maintenance of Ruskinian Preachers for the dissemination of Ruskinian opinions, in a Ruskinian Society, with the especial object of saving Mr. Ruskin’s and the Society’s souls.

“Dear Mr. Ruskin,—Mr. Sillar’s ‘valuable letter’ in last month’s Fors, (a) would have been more valuable if he had understood what he was writing about. Mr. Tyerman (in his ‘Life and Times of Wesley,’ p. 431,) gives the trifling differences between the present Rules of the Methodist Societies and the first edition issued in 1743. Instead of ‘interested persons having altered old John Wesley’s rules’ (he was forty years old when he drew them up) ‘to suit modern ideas’—the alterations, whether good or bad, were made by himself.

“The first contributions in the ‘Classes’ were made for the express purpose of discharging a debt on a preaching house. Then they were devoted ‘to the relief of the poor,’ there being at the time no preachers dependent on the Society for support. After 1743, when circuits had been formed and preachers stationed in certain localities, their maintenance gradually became the principal charge upon the Society’s funds. (See Smith’s ‘History of Methodism,’ vol. i., p. 669.) In 1771 Wesley says expressly that the contributions are applied ‘towards the expenses of the Society.’ (b) (‘Journal,’ vol. iii., p. 205.) Certainly Methodism, thus supported, has done far more to benefit the [367]poor and raise them, than any amount of mere almsgiving could have done. Methodist preachers have at least one sign of being in the apostolical succession. They can say, with Paul, ‘as poor, yet making many rich.’ (c)

“ ‘Going to law’ was altered by Mr. Wesley to ‘brother going to law with brother,’ in order, no doubt, to bring the rule into verbal agreement with 1 Cor. vi. 6. (d)

“ ‘Usury’ was defined by Mr. Wesley to be ‘unlawful interest,’ (e) in accordance with the ordinary notions of his day. He was greatly in advance of his age, yet he could scarcely have been expected to anticipate the definition of Usury given, as far as I know, (f) for the first time in Fors for August, 1876. I don’t see why we Methodists should be charged with breaking the laws of Moses, David, and Christ (Fors, p. 253), if we consider ‘old John Wesley’s’ definition to be as good as the ‘modern idea.’

“Of course St. George, for whom I have the greatest respect and admiration, will correct Mr. Sillar’s mistake.

“I am, Sir,

Another Reader of Fors (which I wish you would sell a little cheaper), and

A Methodist Preacher.

“P.S.—Why should you not copy old John Wesley, and establish your St. George’s Company on a legal basis? In 1784 he drew up a Deed of Declaration, which was duly enrolled in Chancery. It stated the purposes for which his Society was formed, and the mode in which it was to be governed. A Deed of Trust was afterwards drawn up for one of our chapels, reciting at length this Deed of Declaration, and all the purposes for which the property was to be used. All our other property is settled on the same trusts. A single line in each subsequent chapel deed—stating that all the trusts are to be the same as those of the ‘Model Deed,’ as we call the first one—obviates [368]the necessity and expense of repeating a very long legal document.

“Success to St. George,—yet there is, I think, ‘a more excellent way.’ ”

a. Mr. Sillar’s letter did not appear in last month’s Fors. A small portion of it appeared, in which I regret that Mr. Sillar so far misunderstood John Wesley as to imagine him incapable of altering his own rules so as to make them useless.

b. I wish the Wesleyans were the only Society whose contributions are applied to no better purpose.

c. I envy my correspondent’s complacency in his own and his Society’s munificence, too sorrowfully to endeavour to dispel it.

d. The ‘verbal’ agreement is indeed secured by the alteration. But as St. Paul, by a ‘brother,’ meant any Christian, I shall be glad to learn from my correspondent whether the Wesleyans understand their rule in that significance.

e. Many thanks to Mr. Wesley. Doubtless his disciples know what rate of interest is lawful, and what not; and also by what law it was made so; and always pause with pious accuracy at the decimal point whereat the excellence of an investment begins to make it criminal. St. George will be grateful to their representative for information on these—not unimportant—particulars.

f. How far that is, my correspondent’s duly dissenting scorn of the wisdom of the Greeks, and legality of the Jews, has doubtless prevented his thinking it necessary to discover. I must not waste the time of other readers in assisting his elementary investigations; but have merely to point out to him that definitions either of theft, adultery, usury, or murder, have only become necessary in modern times; and that Methodists, [369]and any other persons, are charged by me with breaking the law of Moses, David, and Christ, in so far only as they do accept Mr. John Wesley’s, or any other person’s, definition instead of their utterly unquestionable meaning. (Would T. S., of North Tyne, reprint his letters for me from the Sunderland paper, to be sent out with December Fors?)

IV. I reprint the following paragraph chiefly as an example of our ineffable British absurdity. It is perfectly right to compel fathers to send their children to school; but, once sent, it is the schoolmaster’s business to keep hold of them. In St. George’s schools, it would have been the little runaway gentleman who would have got sent to prison; and kept, sotto piombi, on bread and water, until he could be trusted with more liberty. The fate of the father, under the present application of British law, leaves the problem, it seems to me, still insoluble but in that manner. But I should like to know more of the previous history of parent and child.

“The story of George Widowson, aged fifty-seven, told at the inquest held on his remains at Mile End Old Town on Wednesday, is worth recording. Widowson was, as appears by the evidence of his daughter, a sober, hard-working man until he was sent to prison for three days in last December in default of paying a fine for not sending his son, a boy eleven years of age, to school. The deceased, as several witnesses deposed, constantly endeavoured to make the child go to school, and had frequently taken him there himself; but it was all in vain. Young Widowson when taken to school invariably ran away, the result being that his father was driven to distraction. His imprisonment in December had preyed on his mind, and he took to drinking. He frequently threatened to destroy himself rather than be imprisoned again. Hearing that another summons was about to be issued against him, he broke up his home, and on [370]the night of the 30th ultimo solved the educational problem by throwing himself into the Regent’s Canal. Fear of being again sent to prison by the School Board was, his daughter believed, the cause of his committing this act. The jury returned a verdict in accordance of this opinion; and although George Widowson was wrong to escape from the clutches of the friends of humanity by putting an end to his life, those who blame him should remember that imprisonment to a bonâ fide working man of irreproachable character, is simply torture. He loses all that in his own eyes makes life worth preservation.”—Pall Mall Gazette, July 7th, 1876.

V. The next extract contains some wholesome comments on our more advanced system of modern education.

Indian Civil Service.—At a meeting of the Indian section of the Society of Arts, under the presidency of Mr. Andrew Cassels, a paper on ‘Competition and its Effects upon Education’ was read by Dr. George Birdwood. In the course of his remarks, he commented at length upon the India Office despatch of Feb. 24, regarding ‘the selection and training of candidates for the Indian Civil Service,’ and feared that it would but serve to confirm and aggravate and rapidly extend the very worst evil of the old system of competition—namely, the degeneration of secondary education throughout England.… The despatch tended to make over all the secondary schooling of the country to the crammers, or to reduce it to the crammers’ system. They were making the entrance examinations year by year more and more difficult—as their first object must necessarily now be, not the moral and intellectual discipline of the boyhood of England, but to show an ever-growing percentage of success at the various competitive examinations always going on for public services. ‘The devil take the hindermost’ [371]was fast becoming the ideal of education, even in the public schools. If they seriously took to cramming little fellows from twelve to fourteen for entrance into public schools, the rising generation would be used up before it reached manhood. A well-known physician, of great experience, told him that the competition for all sorts of scholarships and appointments was showing its evil fruits in the increase of insanity, epilepsy, and other nervous diseases amongst young people of the age from seventeen to nineteen, and especially amongst pupil-teachers; and if admission into the public schools of England was for the future to be regulated by competition, St. Vitus’s dance would soon take the place of gout, as the fashionable disease of the upper classes. This was the inevitable result of the ill-digested and ill-regulated system of competition for the public services, and especially the Indian Civil Service, which had prevailed; and he feared that the recent despatch would only be to hasten the threatened revolution in their national secondary schools, and the last state of cramming under the despatch would be worse than the first.… The best of examiners was the examiner of his own pupils; for no man could measure real knowledge like the teacher. What should be aimed at was regular moderate study and sound and continuous discipline to start the growing man in life in the healthiest bodily and moral condition possible. He objected to children striving for prizes, whether in games or in studies. The fewer prizes won at school, the more would probably be won in life. Let their only anxiety be to educate their children well, and suffer no temptation to betray them into cramming, and the whole world was open to them.”—Daily Telegraph.

VI. The development of ‘humanity’ in America is so brilliantly illustrated in the following paragraphs, that I have thought them worth preserving:— [372]

From ‘The American Socialist, devoted to the Enlargement and Perfection of Home.’


“An American, visiting Europe, notices how completely there the various functions of the social body are performed. He finds a servant, an officer, a skilled workman, at every place. From the position of the stone-breaker on the highway, up to that of the highest Government official, every post is filled; every personal want of the traveller or the citizen is attended to. Policemen guard him in the streets, lackeys watch for his bidding at the hotels, railroad officials with almost superfluous care forward him on his way. As compared with American railroad management, the great English roads probably have four employés to our one. This plentitude of service results from three things—viz., density of population, which gives an abundant working class; cheapness of labour; and the aristocratic formation of society that tends to fix persons in the caste to which they were born. The effect is to produce a smoothness in the social movement—an absence of jar and friction, and a release in many cases from anxious, personal outlook, that are very agreeable. The difference between English and American life in respect to the supply of service is like that between riding on a highly-finished macadamized way, where every rut is filled and every stone is removed, and picking one’s way over our common country roads.

“Another thing that the traveller observes in Europe is the abundance everywhere of works of art. One’s sense of beauty is continually gratified; now with a finished landscape, now with a noble building, now with statues, monuments, and paintings. This immense accumulation of art springs in part of course from the age of the nations where it is found; but it is also due in a very great degree to the employment given to artists by [373]persons of wealth and leisure. Painting, sculpture, and architecture have always had constant, and sometimes munificent, patrons in the nobility and the Established Church.

“Observing these things abroad, the American asks himself whether the institutions of this country are likely to produce in time any similar result here. Shall we have the finished organization, the mutual service, and the wealth of art that characterize European society? Before answering this, let us first ask ourselves whether it is desirable that we should have them in the same manner that they exist abroad? Certainly not. No American would be willing to pay the price which England pays for her system of service. The most painful thing which one sees abroad is the utter absence of ambition in the class of household servants. Men who in this country would be looking to a seat in the legislature,9 and who would qualify themselves for it, there dawdle away life in the livery of some noble, in smiling, aimless, do-nothing content, and beget children to follow in their steps. On seeing these servile figures, the American thanks heaven that the ocean rolls between his country and such a system. Rather rudeness, discomfort, self-service, and poverty, with freedom and the fire of aspiration, than luxury purchased by the enervation of man!

“Still, cannot we have the good without the bad? Cannot we match Europe in culture and polish without sacrificing for it our manhood? And if so, what are the influences in this country that are working in that direction? In answering this question, we have to say frankly that we see nothing in democracy alone that promises to produce the result under consideration. In a country where every one is taught to disdain a situation [374]of dependence, where the hostler and the chambermaid see the way opened for them to stand even with the best in the land, if they will but exercise their privilege of ‘getting on,’ there will be no permanent or perfect service. And so long as every man’s possessions are divided and scattered at his death, there will be no class having the secured leisure and the inducement to form galleries of art. Why should John Smith take pains to decorate his house with works of art, when he knows that within a year after his death it will be administered upon by the Probate Court, and sold with its furniture for the benefit of his ten children?” (Well put,—republican sage.)

“In a word, looking at the æsthetic side of things, our American system must be confessed to be not yet quite perfect.” (You don’t say so!) “Invaluable as it is for schooling men to independence and aspiration, it requires, to complete its usefulness, another element. The Republic has a sequel. That completing element, that sequel, is Communism. Communism supplies exactly the conditions that are wanting in the social life of America, and which it must have if it would compete with foreign lands in the development of those things which give ease and grace to existence.

“For instance, in respect to service: Communism, by extinguishing caste and honouring labour, makes every man at once a servant and lord. It fills up, by its capacity of minute organization, all the social functions as completely as the European system does; while, unlike that, it provides for each individual sufficient leisure, and frequent and improving changes of occupation. The person who serves in the kitchen this hour may be experimenting with a microscope or giving lessons on the piano the next. Applying its combined ingenuity to social needs, Communism will find means to consign all repulsive and injurious labour to machinery. It is continually interested to promote labour-saving improvements. The service that is performed [375]by brothers and equals from motives of love will be more perfect than that of hired lackeys, while the constantly varying round of occupation granted to all will form the most perfect school for breadth of culture and true politeness. Thus Communism achieves through friendship and freedom that which the Old World secures only through a system little better than slavery.

“In the interest of art and the cultivation of the beautiful, Communism again supplies the place of a hereditary aristocracy and a wealthy church. A Community family, unlike the ephemeral households of ordinary society, is a permanent thing. Its edifice is not liable to be sold at the end of every generation, but like a cathedral descends by unbroken inheritance. Whatever is committed to it remains, and is the care of the society from century to century. With a home thus established, all the members of a Community are at once interested to gather about it objects of art. It becomes a picture-gallery and a museum, by the natural accretion of time, and by the zeal of persons who know that every embellishment added to their home will not only be a pleasure to them personally, but will remain to associate them with the pleasure of future beholders in all time to come.

“Thus in Communism we have the conditions that are necessary to carry this country to the summit of artistic and social culture. By this route, we may at one bound outstrip the laboured attainments of the aristocracies of the Old World. The New York Central Park shows what can be achieved by combination on the democratic plan, for a public pleasure-ground. No other park is equal to it. Let this principle of combination be extended to the formation of homes as well as to municipal affairs, and we shall simply dot this country over with establishments10 as much [376]better than those of the nobles of England as they are better than those of a day-labourer. We say better, for they will make art and luxury minister to universal education, and they will replace menial service with downright brotherhood. Such must be the future of American society.”

To the Editor of the ‘American Socialist.’

“In your first issue you raise the question, ‘How large ought a Home to be?’ This is a question of great interest to all; and I trust the accumulated answers you will receive will aid in its solution.

“I have lived in homes varying in numbers from one (the bachelor’s home) to several hundred; and my experience and observation lead me to regard one hundred and twenty-five as about the right number to form a complete home. I would not have less than seventy-five nor more than one hundred and fifty. In my opinion a Home should minister to all the needs of its members, spiritual, intellectual, social, and physical. This ordinary monogamic homes cannot do; hence resort is had to churches, colleges, club-rooms, theatres, etc.; and in sparsely settled regions of country, people are put to great inconvenience and compelled to go great distances to supply cravings as imperative as the hunger for bread. This view alone would not limit the number of persons constituting a Home; but I take the ground that in a perfect Home there will be a perfect blending of all interests and perfect vibration in unison of all hearts; and of course thorough mutual acquaintance. My experience and observation convince me that it is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to secure these results in a family of over one hundred and fifty members.

“In simply a monetary view it is undoubtedly best to have large Homes of a thousand or more; but money should not have great weight in comparison with a man’s spiritual, intellectual, and social needs.—D. E. S.” [377]

1 The primary form in which the legend shows itself is a Nature myth, in which Ursula is the Bud of flowers, enclosed in its rough or hairy calyx, and her husband, Æther—the air of spring. She opens into lovely life with ‘eleven’ thousand other flowers—their fading is their sudden martyrdom. And—says your modern philosopher—‘That’s all’! 

2 Correspondence, Article VI. 

3 Compare the last page of Fors, October 1875. 

4 I. Servant. II. Master. III. Lord. IV. Duke. 

5 I want to write a long note on Byzantine empire,—Commanders of the Faithful,—Grand Turks,—and the “Eastern question.” But can’t: and perhaps the reader will be thankful. 

6 This Life of St. Ursula has been gathered from some of the stories concerning her which were current through Italy in the time of Carpaccio. The northern form of the legend, localized at Cologne, is neither so lovely nor so ancient. 

7 Molto incarnalmente. 

8 I could not see this symbol at the height at which the picture hung from the ground, when I described it in 1872. The folds of the drapery in the hand are all but invisible, even when the picture is seen close; and so neutral in their gray-green colour that they pass imperceptibly into violet, as the faint green of evening sky fades into its purple. But the folds are continued under the wrist in the alternate waves which the reader may see on the Etruscan tomb in the first room of the British Museum, with a sculpturesque severity which I could not then understand, and could only account for by supposing that Carpaccio had meant the Princess to “dream out the angel’s dress so particularly”! I mistook the fillet of victory also for a scroll; and could not make out the flowers in the window. They are pinks, the favourite ones in Italian windows to this day, and having a particular relation to St. Ursula in the way they rend their calyx; and I believe also in their peculiar relation to the grasses, (of which more in ‘Proserpina’). St. Ursula is not meant, herself, to recognize the angel. He enters under the door over which she has put her little statue of Venus; and through that door the room is filled with light, so that it will not seem to her strange [359]that his own form, as he enters, should be in shade: and she cannot see his dark wings. On the tassel of her pillow, (Etrurian also,) is written “Infantia”; and above her head, the carving of the bed ends in a spiral flame, typical of the finally ascending Spirit. She lies on her bier, in the last picture but one, exactly as here on her bed; only the coverlid is there changed from scarlet to pale violet. See notes on the meaning of these colours in third ‘Deucalion.’ 

9 May St. George be informed of how many members the American Legislature is finally to be composed; and over whom it is to exercise the proud function of legislation, which is to be the reward of heroic and rightly-minded flunkeys? 

10 As a painter, no less than a philanthropist, I am curious to see the effect of scenery, in these ‘polite’ terms of description, “dotted over with establishments.” 



I have set my writing-table close to the pillars of the great window of the Ca’ Ferro, which I drew, in 1841, carefully, with those of the next palace, Ca’ Contarini Fasan. Samuel Prout was so pleased with the sketch that he borrowed it, and made the upright drawing from it of the palace with the rich balconies, ‘which now represents his work very widely as a chromolithotint.1

Between the shafts of the pillars, the morning sky is seen pure and pale, relieving the grey dome of the church of the Salute; but beside that vault, and like it, vast thunderclouds heap themselves above the horizon, catching the light of dawn upon them where they rise, far westward, over the dark roof of the ruined Badia;—but all so massive, that, half an hour ago, in the dawn, I scarcely knew the Salute dome and towers [378]from theirs; while the sea-gulls, rising and falling hither and thither in clusters above the green water beyond my balcony, tell me that the south wind is wild on Adria.

Dux inquieti turbidus Adriæ.”—The Sea has her Lord, and the sea-birds are prescient of the storm; but my own England, ruler of the waves in her own proud thoughts, can she rule the tumult of her people, or, pilotless, even so much as discern the thunderclouds heaped over her Galilean lake of life?

Here is a little grey cockle-shell, lying beside me, which I gathered, the other evening, out of the dust of the Island of St. Helena; and a brightly-spotted snail-shell, from the thistly sands of Lido; and I want to set myself to draw these, and describe them, in peace.

‘Yes,’ all my friends say, ‘that is my business; why can’t I mind it, and be happy?’

Well, good friends, I would fain please you, and myself with you; and live here in my Venetian palace, luxurious; scrutinant of dome, cloud, and cockle-shell. I could even sell my books for not inconsiderable sums of money if I chose to bribe the reviewers, pay half of all I got to the booksellers, stick bills on the lamp-posts, and say nothing but what would please the Bishop of Peterborough.

I could say a great deal that would please him, and yet be very good and useful; I should like much again [379]to be on terms with my old publisher, and hear him telling me nice stories over our walnuts, this Christmas, after dividing his year’s spoil with me in Christmas charity. And little enough mind have I for any work, in this seventy-seventh year that’s coming of our glorious century, wider than I could find in the compass of my cockle-shell.

But alas! my prudent friends, little enough of all that I have a mind to may be permitted me. For this green tide that eddies by my threshold is full of floating corpses, and I must leave my dinner to bury them, since I cannot save; and put my cockle-shell in cap, and take my staff in hand, to seek an unincumbered shore. This green sea-tide!—yes, and if you knew it, your black and sulphurous tides also—Yarrow, and Teviot, and Clyde, and the stream, for ever now drumly and dark as it rolls on its way, at the ford of Melrose.

Yes, and the fair lakes and running waters in your English park pleasure-grounds,—nay, also the great and wide sea, that gnaws your cliffs,—yes, and Death, and Hell also, more cruel than cliff or sea; and a more neutral episcopal person than even my Lord of Peterborough2 stands, level-barred balance in hand,—waiting (how long?) till the Sea shall give up the dead which are in it, and Death, and Hell, give up the dead which are in them. [380]

Have you ever thought of, or desired to know, the real meaning of that sign, seen with the human eyes of his soul by the disciple whom the Lord loved? Yes, of course you have! and what a grand and noble verse you always thought it! “And the Sea——” Softly, good friend,—I know you can say it off glibly and pompously enough, as you have heard it read a thousand times; but is it, then, merely a piece of pomp? mere drumming and trumpeting, to tell you—what might have been said in three words—that all the dead rose again, whether they had been bedridden, or drowned, or slain? If it means no more than that, is it not, to speak frankly, bombast, and even bad and half unintelligible bombast?—for what does ‘Death’ mean, as distinguished from the Sea,—the American lakes? or Hell as distinguished from Death,—a family vault instead of a grave?

But suppose it is not bombast, and does mean something that it would be well you should think of,—have you yet understood it,—much less, thought of it? Read the whole passage from the beginning: “I saw the Dead, small and great, stand before God. And the Books were opened;”—and so to the end.

Stand’ in renewed perfectness of body and soul—each redeemed from its own manner of Death.

For have not they each their own manner? As the seed by the drought, or the thorn,—so the soul by the soul’s hunger, and the soul’s pang;—athirst in the springless sand; choked in the return-wave of Edom; grasped by [381]the chasm of the earth: some, yet calling “out of the depths;” but some—“Thou didst blow with Thy wind, and the sea covered them; they sank as lead in the mighty waters.” But now the natural grave, in which the gentle saints resigned their perfect body to the dust, and perfect spirit to Him who gave it;—and now the wide sea of the world, that drifted with its weeds so many breasts that heaved but with the heaving deep;—and now the Death that overtook the lingering step, and closed the lustful eyes;—and now the Hell, that hid with its shade, and scourged with its agony; the fierce and foul spirits that had forced its gates in flesh:3—all these the Loved Apostle saw compelled to restore their ruin; and all these, their prey, stand once again, renewed, as their Maker made them, before their Maker. “And the Sea gave up the Dead which were in it, and Death, and Hell, the dead which were in them.”

Not bombast, good reader, in any wise; nor a merely soothing melody of charming English, to be mouthed for a ‘second lesson.’

But is it worse than bombast, then? Is it, perchance, pure Lie?

Carpaccio, at all events, thought not; and this, as I have told you, is the first practical opinion of his I want you to be well informed of.

Since that last Fors was written, one of my friends found for me the most beautiful of all the symbols in [382]the picture of the Dream;—one of those which leap to the eyes when they are understood, yet which, in the sweet enigma, I had deliberately twice painted, without understanding.

At the head of the princess’s bed is embroidered her shield; (of which elsewhere)—but on a dark blue-green space in the cornice above it is another very little and bright shield, it seemed,—but with no bearing. I painted it, thinking it was meant merely for a minute repetition of the escutcheon below, and that the painter had not taken the trouble to blazon the bearings again. (I might have known Carpaccio never would even omit without meaning.) And I never noticed that it was not in a line above the escutcheon, but exactly above the princess’s head. It gleams with bright silver edges out of the dark-blue ground—the point of the mortal Arrow!

At the time it was painted the sign would necessarily have been recognised in a moment; and it completes the meaning of the vision without any chance of mistake.

And it seems to me, guided by such arrow-point, the purpose of Fors that I should make clear the meaning of what I have myself said on this matter, throughout the six years in which I have been permitted to carry on the writing of these letters, and to preface their series for the seventh year, with the interpretation of this Myth of Venice.

I have told you that all Carpaccio’s sayings are of knowledge, not of opinion. And I mean by knowledge, [383]communicable knowledge. Not merely personal, however certain—like Job’s ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth,’ but discovered truth, which can be shown to all men who are willing to receive it. No great truth is allowed by nature to be demonstrable to any person who, foreseeing its consequences, desires to refuse it. He has put himself into the power of the Great Deceiver; and will in every effort be only further deceived, and place more fastened faith in his error.

This, then, is the truth which Carpaccio knows, and would teach:—

That the world is divided into two groups of men; the first, those whose God is their God, and whose glory is their glory, who mind heavenly things; and the second, men whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame,4 who mind earthly things. That is just as demonstrable a scientific fact as the separation of land from water. There may be any quantity of intermediate mind, in various conditions of bog;—some, wholesome Scotch peat,—some, Pontine marsh,—some, sulphurous slime, like what people call water in English manufacturing towns; but the elements of Croyance and Mescroyance are always chemically separable out of the putrescent mess: by the faith that is in it, what life or good it can still keep, or [384]do, is possible; by the miscreance in it, what mischief it can do, or annihilation it can suffer, is appointed for its work and fate. All strong character curdles itself out of the scum into its own place and power, or impotence: and they that sow to the Flesh do of the Flesh reap corruption; and they that sow to the Spirit, do of the Spirit reap Life.

I pause, without writing ‘everlasting,’ as perhaps you expected. Neither Carpaccio nor I know anything about Duration of life, or what the word translated ‘everlasting’ means. Nay, the first sign of noble trust in God and man, is to be able to act without any such hope. All the heroic deeds, all the purely unselfish passions of our existence, depend on our being able to live, if need be, through the Shadow of Death: and the daily heroism of simply brave men consists in fronting and accepting Death as such, trusting that what their Maker decrees for them shall be well.

But what Carpaccio knows, and what I know also, are precisely the things which your wiseacre apothecaries, and their apprentices, and too often your wiseacre rectors and vicars, and their apprentices, tell you that you can’t know, because “eye hath not seen nor ear heard them,” the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God has revealed them to us,—to Carpaccio, and Angelico, and Dante, and Giotto, and Filippo Lippi, and Sandro Botticelli, and me, and to every child that has been taught to know its Father in heaven,—by the [385]Spirit: because we have minded, or do mind, the things of the Spirit in some measure, and in such measure have entered into our rest.

“The things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” Hereafter, and up there, above the clouds, you have been taught to think;—until you were informed by your land-surveyors that there was neither up nor down; but only an axis of x and an axis of y; and by aspiring aeronauts that there was nothing in the blue but damp and azote. And now you don’t believe these things are prepared anywhere? They are prepared just as much as ever, when and where they used to be: just now, and here, close at your hand. All things are prepared,—come ye to the marriage. Up and down on the old highways which your fathers trod, and under the hedges of virgin’s bower and wild rose which your fathers planted, there are the messengers crying to you to come. Nay, at your very doors, though one is just like the other in your model lodging houses,—there is One knocking, if you would open, with something better than tracts in His basket;—supper, and very material supper, if you will only condescend to eat of angel’s food first. There are meats for the belly, and the belly for meats; doth not your Father know that ye have need of these things? But if you make your belly your only love, and your meats your only masters, God shall destroy both it and them.

Truly it is hard for you to hear the low knocking in [386]the hubbub of your Vanity Fair. You are living in the midst of the most perfectly miscreant crowd that ever blasphemed creation. Not with the old snap-finger blasphemy of the wantonly profane, but the deliberate blasphemy of Adam Smith: ‘Thou shalt hate the Lord thy God, damn His laws, and covet thy neighbour’s goods.’ Here’s one of my own boys getting up that lesson beside me for his next Oxford examination. For Adam Smith is accepted as the outcome of Practical Philosophy, at our universities; and their youth urged to come out high in competitive blasphemy. Not the old snap-finger sort,5 I repeat, but that momentary sentiment, deliberately adopted for a national law. I must turn aside for a minute or two to explain this to you.

The eighth circle of Dante’s Hell (compare Fors of December, 1872, p. 13,) is the circle of Fraud, divided into ten gulphs; in the seventh of these gulphs are the Thieves, by Fraud,—brilliantly now represented by the men who covet their neighbours’ goods and take them in any way they think safe, by high finance, sham companies, cheap goods, or any other of our popular modern ways.

Now there is not in all the Inferno quite so studied [387]a piece of descriptive work as Dante’s relation of the infection of one cursed soul of this crew by another. They change alternately into the forms of men and serpents, each biting the other into this change—

“Ivy ne’er clasped

A doddered oak, as round the other’s limbs

The hideous monster intertwined his own;

Then, as they both had been of burning wax,

Each melted into other.”

Read the story of the three transformations for yourself (Cantos xxiv., xxv.), and then note the main point of all, that the spirit of such theft is especially indicated by its intense and direct manner of blasphemy:—

“I did not mark,

Through all the gloomy circle of the abyss,

Spirit that swelled so proudly ’gainst its God,

Not him who headlong fell from Thebes.”

The soul is Vanni Fucci’s, who rifled the sacristy of St. James of Pistoja, and charged Vanni della Nona with the sacrilege, whereupon the latter suffered death. For in those days, death was still the reward of sacrilege by the Law of State; whereas, while I write this Fors, I receive notice of the conjunction of the sacred and profane civic powers of London to de-consecrate, and restore to the definitely pronounced ‘unholy’ spaces [388]of this world, the church of All-Hallows, wherein Milton was christened.

A Bishop was there to read, as it were, the Lord’s Prayer backwards, or at least address it to the Devil instead of to God, to pray that over this portion of British Metropolitan territory His Kingdom might again come.

A notable sign of the times,—completed, in the mythical detail of it, by the defiance of the sacred name of the Church, and the desecration of good men’s graves,6 lest, perchance, the St. Ursulas of other lands should ever come on pilgrimage, rejoicing, over the sea, hopeful to see such holy graves among the sights of London.

Infinitely ridiculous, such travelling as St. Ursula’s, you think,—to see dead bodies, forsooth, and ask, with every poor, bewildered, Campagna peasant, “Dov’ è San Paolo?” Not at all such the object of modern English and American tourists!—nay, sagacious Mr. Spurgeon came home from his foreign tour, and who more proud than he to have scorned, in a rational manner, all relics and old bones? I have some notes by me, ready for February, concerning the unrejoicing manner of travel adopted by the sagacious modern tourist, and his objects of contemplation, for due comparison with St. Ursula’s; [389]but must to-day bring her lesson close home to your own thoughts.

Look back to the seventh page, and the twenty-fourth, of the Fors of January, for this year. The first tells you, what this last sign of Church desecration now confirms, that you are in the midst of men who, if there be truth in Christianity at all, must be punished for their open defiance of Heaven by the withdrawal of the Holy Spirit, and the triumph of the Evil One. And you are told in the last page that by the service of God only you can recover the presence of the Holy Ghost of Life and Health—the Comforter.

This—vaguely and imperfectly, during the last six years, proclaimed to you, as it was granted me—in this coming seventh year I trust to make more simply manifest; and to show you how every earthly good and possession will be given you, if you seek first the Kingdom of God and His Justice. If, in the assurance of Faith, you can ask and strive that such kingdom may be with you, though it is not meat and drink, but Justice, Peace, and Joy in the Holy Ghost,—if, in the first terms I put to you for oath,7 you will do good work, whether you live or die, and so lie down at night, whether hungry or weary, at least in peace of heart and surety of honour;—then, you shall rejoice, in your [390]native land, and on your nursing sea, in all fulness of temporal possession;—then, for you the earth shall bring forth her increase, and for you the floods clap their hands;—throughout your sacred pilgrimage, strangers here and sojourners with God, yet His word shall be with you,—“the land shall not be sold for ever, for the land is Mine,” and after your numbered days of happy loyalty, you shall go to rejoice in His Fatherland, and with His people. [391]


I. Affairs of the Company.

There is no occasion to put our small account again in print till the end of the year: we are not more than ten pounds ahead, since last month.

I certainly would not have believed, six years ago, that I had so few friends who had any trust in me; or that the British public would have entirely declined to promote such an object as the purchase of land for national freehold.

Next year I shall urge the operatives whom any words of mine may reach, to begin some organization with a view to this object among themselves. They have already combined to build co-operative mills; they would find common land a more secure investment.

I am very anxious to support, with a view to the determination of a standard of material in dress, the wool manufacture among the old-fashioned cottagers of the Isle of Man; and I shall be especially grateful to any readers of Fors who will communicate with Mr. Egbert Rydings (Laxey, Isle of Man,) on this subject. In the island itself Mr. Rydings tells me, the stuffs are now little worn by the better classes, because they ‘wear too long,’—a fault which I hope there may be yet found English housewives who will forgive. At all events, I mean the square yard of Laxey homespun of a given weight, to be one of the standards of value in St George’s currency.

The cheque of £25, sent to Mr. Rydings for the encouragement of some of the older and feebler workers, is the only expenditure, beyond those for fittings slowly proceeded with in our museum at Sheffield, to which I shall have to call attention at the year’s end. [392]

II. Affairs of the Master.

Though my readers, by this time, will scarcely be disposed to believe it, I really can keep accounts, if I set myself to do so: and even greatly enjoy keeping them, when I do them the first thing after my Exodus or Plato every morning; and keep them to the uttermost farthing. I have examples of such in past diaries; one, in particular, great in its exhibition of the prices of jargonel and Queen Louise pears at Abbeville. And my days always go best when they are thus begun, as far as pleasant feeling and general prosperity of work are concerned. But there is a great deal of work, and especially such as I am now set on, which does not admit of accounts in the morning; but imperatively requires the fastening down forthwith of what first comes into one’s mind after waking. Then the accounts get put off; tangle their thread—(so the Fates always instantly then ordain)—in some eightpenny matter, and without Œdipus to help on the right hand and Ariadne on the left, there’s no bringing them right again. With due invocation to both, I think I have got my own accounts, for the past year, stated clearly below.

Receipts. Expenditure. Balance.
£ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d.
February 1344 17 9 817 0 0 527 17 9
March 67 10 0 370 2 3 225 5 6
April 1522 12 4 276 10 0 1471 7 10
May 484 18 3 444 16 3 1511 9 10
June 179 0 0 464 11 0 1225 18 10
July 0 0 0 460 0 0 765 18 10
August 180 11 8 328 19 6 617 11 0
September 0 0 0 427 5 0 190 6 0
October 1279 8 0 655 0 0 814 14 0
November 0 0 0 495 0 0 784 8 0
December 592 15 4 242 0 0 1135 3 4


In the first column are the receipts for each month; in the second, the expenditure; in the third, the balance, which is to be tested by adding the previous balance to the receipts in the first column, and deducting the expenditure from the sum.

The months named are those in which the number of Fors was published in which the reader will find the detailed statements: a grotesque double mistake, in March, first in the addition and then in the subtraction, concludes in a total error of threepence; the real balance being £225 5s. 6d. instead of £225 5s. 9d. I find no error in the following accounts beyond the inheritance of this excessive threepence: (in October, p. 334, the entry under September 1 is misprinted 10 for 15; but the sum is right,) until the confusion caused by my having given the banker’s balance in September, which includes several receipts and disbursements not in my own accounts, but to be printed in the find yearly estimate in Fors of next February. My own estimate, happily less than theirs, brings my balance for last month to £784 8s.; taking up which result, the present month’s accounts are as follows:—

Receipts. £ s. d. £ s. d.
Oct. 15. Balance 784 8 0
Dividend on £6,500 Stock 292 10 0
Rents, Marylebone 90 15 4
Rents, Herne Hill 30 0 0
Oxford, Half-year’s Salary 179 10 0
——— 1377 3 4

Oct. 15 to Nov. 15. Self at Venice 150 0 0
Oct. 24. Burgess 42 0 0
Nov. 1. Raffaelle 15 0 0
” 7. Downs 25 0 0
” 11. Crawley 10 0 0
——— 242 0 0
Balance, Nov. 15 £1135 3 4


III. I have lost the reference to a number of the ‘Monetary Gazette,’ of three or four weeks back, containing an excellent article on the Bishop of Peterborough’s declaration, referred to in the text, that the disputes between masters and men respecting wages were a question of Political Economy, in which the clergy must remain ‘strictly neutral.’

Of the Bishop’s Christian spirit, in the adoption of his Master’s “Who made me a divider?” rather than of the earthly wisdom of John the Baptist, “Exact no more than that which is appointed you,” the exacting public will not doubt. I must find out, however, accurately what the Bishop did say; and then we will ask Little Bear’s opinion on the matter. For indeed, in the years to come, I think it will be well that nothing should be done without counsel of Ursula.

IV. The following is, I hope, the true translation of Job xxii. 24, 25. I greatly thank my correspondent for it.

“Cast the brass to the dust, and the gold of Ophir to the rocks of the brooks.

“So, will the Almighty be thy gold and thy shining silver.8

“Yes, then wilt thou rejoice in the Almighty and raise thy countenance to God.”

V. The following letter from a Companion may fitly close the correspondence for this year. I print it without suppression of any part, believing it may encourage many of my helpers, as it does myself:—

“My dear Master,—I have learnt a few facts about Humber keels. You know you were interested in my little keel scholars, because their vessels were so fine, and because they themselves were once simple bodies, almost guiltless of reading and writing. [395]And it seems as if even the mud gives testimony to your words. So if you don’t mind the bother of one of my tiresome letters, I’ll tell you all I know about them.

“The Humber keels are, in nearly all cases, the property of the men who go in them. They are house and home to the keel family, who never live on shore like other sailors. It is very easy work navigating the rivers. There’s only the worry of loading and unloading,—and then their voyages are full of leisure.

“Keelmen are rural sailors, passing for days and days between cornfields and poppy banks, meadows and orchards, through low moist lands, where skies are grand at sunrise and sunset.

“Now all this evidently makes a happy joyous life, and the smart colours and decoration of the boats are signs of it. Shouldn’t you say so? Well, then, independence, home, leisure and nature are right conditions of life—and that’s a bit of St. George’s doctrine I’ve verified nearly all by myself; and there are things I know about keel folks besides, which quite warrant my conclusions. But to see these very lowly craft stranded low on the mud at low tide, or squeezed in among other ships—big and grimy things—in the docks, you would think they were too low in the scale of shipping to have any pride or pleasure in life; yet I really think they are little arks, dressed in rainbows. Remember, please, Humber keels are quite different things to barges of any kind. And now keels are off my mind—except that if I can ever get anybody to paint me a gorgeous one, I shall send it to you.

“My dear Master, I have thought so often of the things you said about yourself, in relation to St. George’s work; and I feel sure that you are disheartened, and too anxious about it—that you have some sort of feeling about not being sufficient for all of it. Forgive me, but it is so painful to think that the Master is anxious about things which do not need consideration. You said, I think, the good of you was, that you collected teaching and laws for us. But is that just right? Think of your first impulse and [396]purpose. Was not that your commission? Be true to it. To me it seems that the good of you (as you say it) is that you have a heart to feel the sorrows of the world—that you have courage and power to speak against injustice and falsehood, and more than all, that you act out what you say. Everybody else seems asleep or dead—wrapped up in their own comfort or satisfaction,—and utterly deaf to any appeal. Do not think your work is less than it is, and let all unworthy anxieties go. The work is God’s, if ever any work was, and He will look after its success. Fitness or unfitness is no question, for you are chosen. Mistakes do not matter. Much work does not matter. It only really matters that the Master stays with us, true to first appointment; that his hand guides all first beginnings of things, sets the patterns for us,—and that we are loyal.

“Your affectionate servant.”

1 My original sketch is now in the Schools of Oxford. 

2 See terminal Article of Correspondence. 

3 Conf. ‘Inferno,’ XXIII. 123. 

4 Mr. Darwin’s last discoveries of the gestures of honour and courtesy among baboons are a singular completion of the types of this truth in the natural world. 

5 In old English illuminated Psalters, of which I hope soon to send a perfect example to Sheffield to companion our Bible, the vignette of the Fool saying in his heart, ‘There is no God,’ nearly always represents him in this action. Vanni Fucci makes the Italian sign of the Fig,—‘A fig for you!’ 

6 My friend Mr. W. C. Sillar rose in the church, and protested, in the name of God, against the proceedings. He was taken into custody as disorderly,—the press charitably suggested, only drunk;—and was I believe discharged without fine or imprisonment, for we live in liberal days. 

7 Compare Fors of October, 1874, page 224 to end, observing especially the sentence out of 2nd Esdras, “before they were sealed, that have gathered Faith for a Treasure.” 

8 Silver of strength. 



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Volume Year Letters PG ebook Scans
I 1871 I–XII 59456 1
II 1872 XII–XXIV 61591 2
III 1873 XXV–XXXVI 61634 3
IV 1874 XXXVII–XLVIII 67544 4
V 1875 XLIX–LX 68013 5
VI 1876 LXI–LXXII This volume 6
VII 1877 LXXIII–LXXXIV In preparation 7
VIII 1878–’84 LXXXV–XCVI In preparation 8


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Page Source Correction Edit distance
14 caligraphy calligraphy 1
16 farther further 1
22 thoughful thoughtful 1
25 lettters letters 1
26, 303 [Not in source] . 1
29 arrowrcot arrowroot 1
52 your’s yours 1
72 Counciller Councillor 1
73 soliciter solicitor 1
74, 307 1
110 eompass compass 1
112 materal material 1
135 o of 1
146 furwahr fürwahr 1 / 0
152, 152, 152 Arannah Araunah 1
158 Elspeth Elizabeth 4
168 changes charges 1
178 , [Deleted] 1
194 . [Deleted] 1
200 at an 1
201 daceiving deceiving 1
206 binfull binful 1
220 governers governors 1
243 chanced changed 1
261 civilised civilized 1
296 Ryding Rydings 1
309 chesnut chestnut 1
313 their’s theirs 1
355 , 1


Overview of abbreviations used.

Abbreviation Expansion
LL.D. Doctor of Laws
N.B. Nota Bene
P.S. post scriptum