The Project Gutenberg EBook of On the Old Road, Vol. 2 (of 2), by John Ruskin

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Title: On the Old Road, Vol. 2 (of 2)
       A Collection of Miscellaneous Essays and Articles on Art and Literature

Author: John Ruskin

Release Date: April 30, 2007 [EBook #21263]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Janet Blenkinship and the
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Volumes I-II

Vol. II.


Published 1834-1885.


Parliamentary Evidence:—
National Gallery Site Commission. 18573
Select Committee on Public Institutions. 186025
The Royal Academy Commission50
A Museum or Picture Gallery71
The Cavalli Monuments, Verona. 187289
Verona and its Rivers (with Catalogue). 187099
Christian Art and Symbolism. 1872118
Art Schools of Mediæval Christendom. 1876121
The Extension of Railways. 1876125
The Study of Beauty. 1883132
The Color of the Rhine. 1834141
The Strata of Mont Blanc. 1834143
The Induration of Sandstone. 1836145
The Temperature of Spring and River Water. 1836.148
Meteorology. 1839153
Tree Twigs. 1861158
Stratified Alps of Savoy. 1863162
Intellectual Conception and Animated Life. 1871168
Fiction—fair and Foul. 1880-81175
Fairy Stories. 1868290
Home, and Its Economies. 1873299
Usury. A Reply and a Rejoinder. 1880314
Usury. A Preface. 1885340
Notes on the Construction of Sheepfolds. 1851347
The Lord's Prayer and the Church. 1879-81. (Letters and Epilogue.)382
The Nature and Authority of Miracle. 1873418






(Art Journal, June and August, 1880.)

[Pg 3]



Evidence of John Ruskin, Monday, April 6, 1857.

114. Chairman. Has your attention been turned to the desirableness of uniting sculpture with painting under the same roof?—Yes.

What is your opinion on the subject?—I think it almost essential that they should be united, if a National Gallery is to be of service in teaching the course of art.

Sculpture of all kinds, or only ancient sculpture?—Of all kinds.

Do you think that the sculpture in the British Museum should be in the same building with the pictures in the National Gallery, that is to say, making an application of your principle to that particular case?—Yes, certainly; I think so for several reasons—chiefly because I think the taste of the nation can only be rightly directed by having always sculpture and painting visible together. Many of the highest and best points of painting, I think, can only be discerned after some discipline of the eye by sculpture. That is one very essential reason. I think that after looking at sculpture one feels the grace of composition infinitely more, and one also[Pg 4] feels how that grace of composition was reached by the painter.

Do you consider that if works of sculpture and works of painting were placed in the same gallery, the same light would be useful for both of them?—I understood your question only to refer to their collection under the same roof. I should be sorry to see them in the same room.

You would not mix them up in the way in which they are mixed up in the Florentine Gallery, for instance?—Not at all. I think, on the contrary, that the one diverts the mind from the other, and that, although the one is an admirable discipline, you should take some time for the examination of sculpture, and pass afterwards into the painting room, and so on. You should not be disturbed while looking at paintings by the whiteness of the sculpture.

You do not then approve, for example, of the way in which the famous room, the Tribune, at Florence, is arranged?—No; I think it is merely arranged for show—for showing how many rich things can be got together.

115. Mr. Cockerell. Then you do not regard sculpture as a proper decorative portion of the National Gallery of Pictures—you do not admit the term decoration?—No; I should not use that term of the sculpture which it was the object of the gallery to exhibit. It might be added, of course, supposing it became a part of the architecture, but not as independent—not as a thing to be contemplated separately in the room, and not as a part of the room. As a part of the room, of course, modern sculpture might be added; but I have never thought that it would be necessary.

You do not consider that sculpture would be a repose after contemplating painting for some time?—I should not feel it so myself.

116. Dean of St. Paul's. When you speak of removing the sculpture of the British Museum, and of uniting it with the pictures of the National Gallery, do you comprehend the whole range of the sculpture in the British Museum, commencing with the Egyptian, and going down through its regu[Pg 5]lar series of gradation to the decline of the art?—Yes, because my great hope respecting the National Gallery is, that it may become a perfectly consecutive chronological arrangement, and it seems to me that it is one of the chief characteristics of a National Gallery that it should be so.

Then you consider that one great excellence of the collection at the British Museum is, that it does present that sort of history of the art of sculpture?—I consider it rather its weakness that it does not.

Then you would go down further?—I would.

You are perhaps acquainted with the ivories which have been recently purchased there?—I am not.

Supposing there were a fine collection of Byzantine ivories, you would consider that they were an important link in the general history?—Certainly.

Would you unite the whole of that Pagan sculpture with what you call the later Christian art of Painting?—I should be glad to see it done—that is to say, I should be glad to see the galleries of painting and sculpture collaterally placed, and the gallery of sculpture beginning with the Pagan art, and proceeding to the Christian art, but not necessarily associating the painting with the sculpture of each epoch; because the painting is so deficient in many of the periods where the sculpture is rich, that you could not carry them on collaterally—you must have your painting gallery and your sculpture gallery.

You would be sorry to take any portion of the sculpture from the collection in the British Museum, and to associate it with any collection of painting?—Yes, I should think it highly inexpedient. My whole object would be that it might be associated with a larger collection, a collection from other periods, and not be subdivided. And it seems to be one of the chief reasons advanced in order to justify removing that collection, that it cannot be much more enlarged—that you cannot at present put other sculpture with it.

Supposing that the collection of ancient Pagan art could not be united with the National Gallery of pictures, with[Pg 6] which would you associate the mediæval sculpture, supposing we were to retain any considerable amount of sculpture?—With the painting.

The mediæval art you would associate with the painting, supposing you could not put the whole together?—Yes.

117. Chairman. Do you approve of protecting pictures by glass?—Yes, in every case. I do not know of what size a pane of glass can be manufactured, but I have never seen a picture so large but that I should be glad to see it under glass. Even supposing it were possible, which I suppose it is not, the great Paul Veronese, in the gallery of the Louvre, I think would be more beautiful under glass.

Independently of the preservation?—Independently of the preservation, I think it would be more beautiful. It gives an especial delicacy to light colors, and does little harm to dark colors—that is, it benefits delicate pictures most, and its injury is only to very dark pictures.

Have you ever considered the propriety of covering the sculpture with glass?—I have never considered it. I did not know until a very few days ago that sculpture was injured by exposure to our climate and our smoke.

Professor Faraday. But you would cover the pictures, independently of the preservation, you would cover them absolutely for the artistic effect, the improvement of the picture?—Not necessarily so, because to some persons there might be an objectionable character in having to avoid the reflection more scrupulously than otherwise. I should not press for it on that head only. The advantage gained is not a great one; it is only felt by very delicate eyes. As far as I know, many persons would not perceive that there was a difference, and that is caused by the very slight color in the glass, which, perhaps, some persons might think it expedient to avoid altogether.

Do you put it down to the absolute tint in the glass like a glazing, or do you put it down to a sort of reflection? Is the effect referable to the color in the glass, or to some kind of optic action, which the most transparent glass might produce?[Pg 7]—I do not know; but I suppose it to be referable to the very slight tint in the glass.

118. Dean of St. Paul's. Is it not the case when ladies with very brilliant dresses look at pictures through glass, that the reflection of the color of their dresses is so strong as greatly to disturb the enjoyment and the appreciation of the pictures?—Certainly; but I should ask the ladies to stand a little aside, and look at the pictures one by one. There is that disadvantage.

I am supposing a crowded room—of course the object of a National Gallery is that it should be crowded—that as large a number of the public should have access to it as possible—there would of course be certain limited hours, and the gallery would be liable to get filled with the public in great numbers?—It would be disadvantageous certainly, but not so disadvantageous as to balance the much greater advantage of preservation. I imagine that, in fact, glass is essential; it is not merely an expedient thing, but an essential thing to the safety of the pictures for twenty or thirty years.

Do you consider it essential as regards the atmosphere of London, or of this country generally?—I speak of London only. I have no experience of other parts. But I have this experience in my own collection. I kept my pictures for some time without glass, and I found the deterioration definite within a very short period—a period of a couple of years.

You mean at Denmark Hill?—Yes; that deterioration on pictures of the class I refer to is not to be afterwards remedied—the thing suffers forever—you cannot get into the interstices.

Professor Faraday. You consider that the picture is permanently injured by the dirt?—Yes.

That no cleaning can restore it to what it was?—Nothing can restore it to what it was, I think, because the operation of cleaning must scrape away some of the grains of paint.

Therefore, if you have two pictures, one in a dirtier place, and one in a cleaner place, no attention will put the one in the[Pg 8] dirtier place on a level with that in the cleaner place?—I think nevermore.

119. Chairman. I see that in your "Notes on the Turner Collection," you recommended that the large upright pictures would have great advantage in having a room to themselves. Do you mean each of the large pictures or a whole collection of large pictures?—Supposing very beautiful pictures of a large size (it would depend entirely on the value and size of the picture), supposing we ever acquired such large pictures as Titian's Assumption, or Raphael's Transfiguration, those pictures ought to have a room to themselves, and to have a gallery round them.

Do you mean that each of them should have a room?—Yes.

Dean of St. Paul's. Have you been recently at Dresden?—No, I have never been at Dresden.

Then you do not know the position of the Great Holbein and of the Madonna de S. Sisto there, which have separate rooms?—No.

Mr. Cockerell. Are you acquainted with the Munich Gallery—No.

Do you know the plans of it?—No.

Then you have not seen, perhaps, the most recent arrangements adopted by that learned people, the Germans, with regard to the exhibition of pictures?—I have not been into Germany for twenty years.

120. That subject has been handled by them in an original manner, and they have constructed galleries at Munich, at Dresden, and I believe at St. Petersburg upon a new principle, and a very judicious principle. You have not had opportunities of considering that?—No, I have never considered that; because I always supposed that there was no difficulty in producing a beautiful gallery, or an efficient one. I never thought that there could be any question about the form which such a gallery should take, or that it was a matter of consideration. The only difficulty with me was this—the persuading, or hoping to persuade, a nation that if it had pictures at all, it should have those pictures on the line of the eye; that it was[Pg 9] not well to have a noble picture many feet above the eye, merely for the glory of the room. Then I think that as soon as you decide that a picture is to be seen, it is easy to find out the way of showing it; to say that it should have such and such a room, with such and such a light; not a raking light, as I heard Sir Charles Eastlake express it the other day, but rather an oblique and soft light, and not so near the picture as to catch the eye painfully. That may be easily obtained, and I think that all other questions after that are subordinate.

Dean of St. Paul's. Your proposition would require a great extent of wall?—An immense extent of wall.

121. Chairman. I see you state in the pamphlet to which I have before alluded, that it is of the highest importance that the works of each master should be kept together. Would not such an arrangement increase very much the size of the National Gallery?—I think not, because I have only supposed in my plan that, at the utmost, two lines of pictures should be admitted on the walls of the room; that being so, you would be always able to put all the works of any master together without any inconvenience or difficulty in fitting them to the size of the room. Supposing that you put the large pictures high on the walls, then it might be a question, of course, whether such and such a room or compartment of the Gallery would hold the works of a particular master; but supposing the pictures were all on a continuous line, you would only stop with A and begin with B.

Then you would only have them on one level and one line?—In general; that seems to me the common-sense principle.

Mr. Richmond. Then you disapprove of the whole of the European hanging of pictures in galleries?—I think it very beautiful sometimes, but not to be imitated. It produces most noble rooms. No one can but be impressed with the first room at the Louvre, where you have the most noble Venetian pictures one mass of fire on the four walls; but then none of the details of those pictures can be seen.

Dean of St. Paul's. There you have a very fine general effect, but you lose the effect of the beauties of each individual[Pg 10] picture?—You lose all the beauties, all the higher merits; you get merely your general idea. It is a perfectly splendid room, of which a great part of the impression depends upon the consciousness of the spectator that it is so costly.

122. Would you have those galleries in themselves richly decorated?—Not richly, but pleasantly.

Brilliantly, but not too brightly?—Not too brightly. I have not gone into that question, it being out of my way; but I think, generally, that great care should be taken to give a certain splendor—a certain gorgeous effect—so that the spectator may feel himself among splendid things; so that there shall be no discomfort or meagerness, or want of respect for the things which are being shown.

123. Mr. Richmond. Then do you think that Art would be more worthily treated, and the public taste and artists better served, by having even a smaller collection of works so arranged, than by a much larger one merely housed and hung four or five deep, as in an auction room?—Yes. But you put a difficult choice before me, because I do think it a very important thing that we should have many pictures. Totally new results might be obtained from a large gallery in which the chronological arrangement was perfect, and whose curators prepared for that chronological arrangement, by leaving gaps to be filled by future acquisition; taking the greatest pains in the selection of the examples, that they should be thoroughly characteristic; giving a greater price for a picture which was thoroughly characteristic and expressive of the habits of a nation; because it appears to me that one of the main uses of Art at present is not so much as Art, but as teaching us the feelings of nations. History only tells us what they did; Art tells us their feelings, and why they did it: whether they were energetic and fiery, or whether they were, as in the case of the Dutch, imitating minor things, quiet and cold. All those expressions of feeling cannot come out of History. Even the contemporary historian does not feel them; he does not feel what his nation is; but get the works of the same master together, the works of the same nation[Pg 11] together, and the works of the same century together, and see how the thing will force itself upon everyone's observation.

124. Then you would not exclude the genuine work of inferior masters?—Not by any means.

You would have the whole as far as you could obtain it?—Yes, as far as it was characteristic; but I think you can hardly call an inferior master one who does in the best possible way the thing he undertakes to do; and I would not take any master who did not in some way excel. For instance, I would not take a mere imitator of Cuyp among the Dutch; but Cuyp himself has done insuperable things in certain expressions of sunlight and repose. Vander Heyden and others may also be mentioned as first-rate in inferior lines.

Taking from the rise of art to the time of Raphael, would you in the National Gallery include examples of all those masters whose names have come down to the most learned of us?—No.

Where would you draw the line, and where would you begin to leave out?—I would only draw the line when I was purchasing a picture. I think that a person might always spend his money better by making an effort to get one noble picture than five or six second or third-rate pictures, provided only, that you had examples of the best kind of work produced at that time. I would not have second-rate pictures. Multitudes of masters among the disciples of Giotto might be named; you might have one or two pictures of Giotto, and one or two pictures of the disciples of Giotto.

Then you would rather depend upon the beauty of the work itself; if the work were beautiful, you would admit it?—Certainly.

But if it were only historically interesting, would you then reject it?—Not in the least. I want it historically interesting, but I want as good an example as I can have of that particular manner.

Would it not be historically interesting if it were the only picture known of that particular master, who was a follower of Giotto? For instance, supposing a work of Cennino Cen[Pg 12]nini were brought to light, and had no real merit in it as a work of art, would it not be the duty of the authorities of a National Gallery to seize upon that picture, and pay perhaps rather a large price for it?—Certainly; all documentary art I should include.

Then what would you exclude?—Merely that which is inferior, and not documentary; merely another example of the same kind of thing.

Then you would not multiply examples of the same masters if inferior men, but you would have one of each. There is no man, I suppose, whose memory has come down to us after three or four centuries, but has something worth preserving in his work—something peculiar to himself, which perhaps no other person has ever done, and you would retain one example of such, would you not?—I would, if it was in my power, but I would rather with given funds make an effort to get perfect examples.

Then you think that the artistic element should govern the archæological in the selection?—Yes, and the archæological in the arrangement.

125. Dean of St. Paul's. When you speak of arranging the works of one master consecutively, would you pay any regard or not to the subjects? You must be well aware that many painters, for instance, Correggio, and others, painted very incongruous subjects; would you rather keep them together than disperse the works of those painters to a certain degree according to their subjects?—I would most certainly keep them together. I think it an important feature of the master that he did paint incongruously, and very possibly the character of each picture would be better understood by seeing them together; the relations of each are sometimes essential to be seen.

Mr. Richmond. Do you think that the preservation of these works is one of the first and most important things to be provided for?—It would be so with me in purchasing a picture. I would pay double the price for it if I thought it was likely to be destroyed where it was.[Pg 13]

In a note you wrote to me the other day, I find this passage: "The Art of a nation I think one of the most important points of its history, and a part which, if once destroyed, no history will ever supply the place of—and the first idea of a National Gallery is, that it should be a Library of Art, in which the rudest efforts are, in some cases, hardly less important than the noblest." Is that your opinion?—Perfectly. That seems somewhat inconsistent with what I have been saying, but I mean there, the noblest efforts of the time at which they are produced. I would take the greatest pains to get an example of eleventh century work, though the painting is perfectly barbarous at that time.

126. You have much to do with the education of the working classes in Art. As far as you are able to tell us, what is your experience with regard to their liking and disliking in Art—do comparatively uneducated persons prefer the Art up to the time of Raphael, or down from the time of Raphael?—we will take the Bolognese School, or the early Florentine School—which do you think a working man would feel the greatest interest in looking at?—I cannot tell you, because my working men would not be allowed to look at a Bolognese picture; I teach them so much love of detail, that the moment they see a detail carefully drawn, they are caught by it. The main thing which has surprised me in dealing with these men is the exceeding refinement of their minds—so that in a moment I can get carpenters, and smiths, and ordinary workmen, and various classes to give me a refinement which I cannot get a young lady to give me when I give her a lesson for the first time. Whether it is the habit of work which makes them go at it more intensely, or whether it is (as I rather think) that, as the feminine mind looks for strength, the masculine mind looks for delicacy, and when you take it simply, and give it its choice, it will go to the most refined thing, I do not know.

Dean of St. Paul's. Can you see any perceptible improvement in the state of the public mind and taste in that respect since these measures have been adopted?—There has not been time to judge of that.[Pg 14]

127. Do these persons who are taking an interest in Art come from different parts of London?—Yes.

Of course the distance which they would have to come would be of very great importance?—Yes.

Therefore one of the great recommendations of a Gallery, if you wish it to have an effect upon the public mind in that respect, would be its accessibility, both with regard to the time consumed in going there, and to the cheapness, as I may call it, of access?—Most certainly.

You would therefore consider that the more central the situation, putting all other points out of consideration, the greater advantage it would be to the public?—Yes; there is this, however, to be said, that a central situation involves the crowding of the room with parties wholly uninterested in the matter—a situation more retired will generally be serviceable enough for the real student.

Would not that very much depend upon its being in a thoroughfare? There might be a central situation which would not be so complete a thoroughfare as to tempt persons to go in who were not likely to derive advantage from it?—I think that if this gallery were made so large and so beautiful as we are proposing, it would be rather a resort, rather a lounge every day, and all day long, provided it were accessible.

128. Would not that a good deal depend upon its being in a public thoroughfare? If it were in a thoroughfare, a great many persons might pass in who would be driven in by accident, or driven in by caprice, if they passed it; but if it were at a little distance from a thoroughfare, it would be less crowded with those persons who are not likely to derive much advantage from it?—Quite so; but there would always be an advantage in attracting a crowd; it would always extend its educational ability in its being crowded. But it would seem to me that all that is necessary for a noble Museum of the best art should be more or less removed, and that a collection, solely for the purpose of education, and for the purpose of interesting people who do not care much about art, should be provided in the very heart of the population, if possible, that[Pg 15] pictures not of great value, but of sufficient value to interest the public, and of merit enough to form the basis of early education, and to give examples of all art, should be collected in the popular Gallery, but that all the precious things should be removed and put into the great Gallery, where they would be safest, irrespectively altogether of accessibility.

Chairman. Then you would, in fact, have not one but two Galleries?—Two only.

129. Professor Faraday. And you would seem to desire purposely the removal of the true and head Gallery to some distance, so as to prevent the great access of persons?—Yes.

Thinking that all those who could make a real use of a Gallery would go to that one?—Yes. My opinion in that respect has been altered within these few days from the fact having been brought to my knowledge of sculpture being much deteriorated by the atmosphere and the total impossibility of protecting sculpture. Pictures I do not care about, for I can protect them, but not sculpture.

Dean of St. Paul's. Whence did you derive that knowledge?—I forget who told me; it was some authority I thought conclusive, and therefore took no special note of.

130. Chairman. Do you not consider that it is rather prejudicial to art that there should be a Gallery notoriously containing no first-rate works of art, but second-rate or third-rate works?—No; I think it rather valuable as an expression of the means of education, that there should be early lessons in art—that there should be this sort of art selected especially for first studies, and also that there should be a recognition of the exceeding preciousness of some other art. I think that portions of it should be set aside as interesting, but not unreplaceable; but that other portions should be set aside as being things as to which the function of the nation was, chiefly, to take care of those things, not for itself merely, but for all its descendants, and setting the example of taking care of them for ever.

You do not think, then, that there would be any danger in the studying or the copying of works which notoriously were[Pg 16] not the best works?—On the contrary, I think it would be better that works not altogether the best should be first submitted. I never should think of giving the best work myself to a student to copy—it is hopeless; he would not feel its beauties—he would merely blunder over it. I am perfectly certain that that cannot be serviceable in the particular branch of art which I profess, namely, landscape-painting; I know that I must give more or less of bad examples.

Mr. Richmond. But you would admit nothing into this second gallery which was not good or true of its kind?—Nothing which was not good or true of its kind, but only inferior in value to the others.

And if there were any other works which might be deposited there with perfect safety, say precious drawings, which might be protected by glass, you would not object to exhibit those to the unselected multitude?—Not in the least; I should be very glad to do so, provided I could spare them from the grand chronological arrangement.

Do you think that a very interesting supplementary exhibition might be got up, say at Trafalgar Square, and retained there?—Yes, and all the more useful because you would put few works, and you could make it complete in series—and because, on a small scale, you would have the entire series. By selecting a few works, you would have an epitome of the Grand Gallery, the divisions of the chronology being all within the compartment of a wall, which in the great Gallery would be in a separate division of the building.

131. Mr. Cockerell. Do you contemplate the possibility of excellent copies being exhibited of the most excellent works both of sculpture and of painting?—I have not contemplated that possibility. I have a great horror of copies of any kind, except only of sculpture. I have great fear of copies of painting; I think people generally catch the worst parts of the painting and leave the best.

But you would select the artist who should make the copy. There are persons whose whole talent is concentrated in the power of imitation of a given picture, and a great talent it is.[Pg 17]—I have never in my life seen a good copy of a good picture.

Chairman. Have you not seen any of the German copies of some of the great Italian masters, which are generally esteemed very admirable works?—I have not much studied the works of the copyists; I have not observed them much, never having yet found an exception to that rule which I have mentioned. When I came across a copyist in the Gallery of the Vatican, or in the Gallery at Florence, I had a horror of the mischief, and the scandal and the libel upon the master, from the supposition that such a thing as that in any way resembled his work, and the harm that it would do to the populace among whom it was shown.

Mr. Richmond. You look upon it as you would upon coining bad money and circulating it, doing mischief?—Yes, it is mischievous.

Mr. Cockerell. But you admit engravings—you admit photographs of these works, which are imitations in another language?—Yes; in abstract terms, they are rather descriptions of the paintings than copies—they are rather measures and definitions of them—they are hints and tables of the pictures, rather than copies of them; they do not pretend to the same excellence in any way.

You speak as a connoisseur; how would the common eye of the public agree with you in that opinion?—I think it would not agree with me. Nevertheless, if I were taking some of my workmen into the National Gallery, I should soon have some hope of making them understand in what excellence consisted, if I could point to a genuine work; but I should have no such hope if I had only copies of these pictures.

132. Do you hold much to the archæological, chronological, and historical series and teaching of pictures?—Yes.

Are you of opinion that that is essential to the creative teaching, with reference to our future schools?—No. I should think not essential at all. The teaching of the future artist, I should think, might be accomplished by very few pictures of the class which that particular artist wished to[Pg 18] study. I think that the chronological arrangement is in no-wise connected with the general efficiency of the gallery as a matter of study for the artist, but very much so as a means of study, not for persons interested in painting merely, but for those who wish to examine the general history of nations; and I think that painting should be considered by that class of persons as containing precious evidence. It would be part of the philosopher's work to examine the art of a nation as well as its poetry.

You consider that art speaks a language and tells a tale which no written document can effect?—Yes, and far more precious; the whole soul of a nation generally goes with its art. It may be urged by an ambitious king to become a warrior nation. It may be trained by a single leader to become a great warrior nation, and its character at that time may materially depend upon that one man, but in its art all the mind of the nation is more or less expressed: it can be said, that was what the peasant sought to when he went into the city to the cathedral in the morning—that was the sort of book the poor person read or learned in—the sort of picture he prayed to. All which involves infinitely more important considerations than common history.

133. Dean of St. Paul's. When you speak of your objections to copies of pictures, do you carry that objection to casts of sculpture?—Not at all.

Supposing there could be no complete union of the great works of sculpture in a country with the great works of painting in that country, would you consider that a good selection of casts comprising the great remains of sculpture of all ages would be an important addition to a public gallery?—I should be very glad to see it.

If you could not have it of originals, you would wish very much to have a complete collection of casts, of course selected from all the finest sculptures in the world?—Certainly.

Mr. Richmond. Would you do the same with architecture—would you collect the remains of architecture, as far as they are to be collected, and unite them with sculpture and paint[Pg 19]ing?—I should think that architecture consisted, as far as it was portable, very much in sculpture. In saying that, I mean, that in the different branches of sculpture architecture is involved—that is to say, you would have the statues belonging to such and such a division of a building. Then if you had casts of those statues, you would necessarily have those casts placed exactly in the same position as the original statues—it involves the buildings surrounding them and the elevation—it involves the whole architecture.

In addition to that, would you have original drawings of architecture, and models of great buildings, and photographs, if they could be made permanent, of the great buildings as well as the moldings and casts of the moldings, and the members as far as you could obtain them?—Quite so.

Would you also include, in the National Gallery, what may be called the handicraft of a nation—works for domestic use or ornament? For instance, we know that there were some salt-cellars designed for one of the Popes; would you have those if they came to us?—Everything, pots and pans, and salt-cellars, and knives.

You would have everything that had an interesting art element in it?—Yes.

Dean of St. Paul's. In short, a modern Pompeian Gallery?—Yes; I know how much greater extent that involves, but I think that you should include all the iron work, and china, and pottery, and so on. I think that all works in metal, all works in clay, all works in carved wood, should be included. Of course, that involves much. It involves all the coins—it involves an immense extent.

134. Supposing it were impossible to concenter in one great museum the whole of these things, where should you prefer to draw the line? Would you draw the line between what I may call the ancient Pagan world and the modern Christian world, and so leave, to what may be called the ancient world, all the ancient sculpture, and any fragments of ancient painting which there might be—all the vases, all the ancient bronzes, and, in short, everything which comes down to a certain[Pg 20] period? Do you think that that would be the best division, or should you prefer any division which takes special arts, and keeps those arts together?—I should like the Pagan and Christian division. I think it very essential that wherever the sculpture of a nation was, there its iron work should be—that wherever its iron work was, there its pottery should be, and so on.

And you would keep the mediæval works together, in whatever form those mediæval works existed?—Yes; I should not at all feel injured by having to take a cab-drive from one century to another century.

Or from the ancient to the modern world?—No.

Mr. Richmond. If it were found convenient to keep separate the Pagan and the Christian art, with which would you associate the mediæval?—By "Christian and Pagan Art" I mean, before Christ and after Christ.

Then the mediæval would come with the paintings?—Yes; and also the Mahomedan, and all the Pagan art which was after Christ, I should associate as part, and a most essential part, because it seems to me that the history of Christianity is complicated perpetually with that which Christianity was effecting. Therefore, it is a matter of date, not of Christianity. Everything before Christ I should be glad to see separated, or you may take any other date that you like.

But the inspiration of the two schools—the Pagan and the Christian—seems so different, that there would be no great violence done to the true theory of a National Gallery in dividing these two, would there, if each were made complete in itself?—That is to say, taking the spirit of the world after Christianity was in it, and the spirit of the world before Christianity was in it.

Dean of St. Paul's. The birth of Christ, you say, is the commencement of Christian art?—Yes.

Then Christian influence began, and, of course, that would leave a small debatable ground, particularly among the ivories for instance, which we must settle according to circumstances?—Wide of any debatable ground, all the art of a[Pg 21] nation which had never heard of Christianity, the Hindoo art and so on, would, I suppose, if of the Christian era, go into the Christian gallery.

I was speaking rather of the transition period, which, of course, there must be?—Yes.

Mr. Cockerell. There must be a distinction between the terms "museum" and "gallery." What are the distinctions which you would draw in the present case?—I should think "museum" was the right name of the whole building. A "gallery" is, I think, merely a room in a museum adapted for the exhibition of works in a series, whose effect depends upon their collateral showing forth.

135. There are certainly persons who would derive their chief advantage from the historical and chronological arrangement which you propose, but there are others who look alone for the beautiful, and who say, "I have nothing to do with your pedantry. I desire to have the beautiful before me. Show me those complete and perfect works which are received and known as the works of Phidias and the great Greek masters as far as we possess them, and the works of the great Italian painters. I have not time, nor does my genius permit that I should trouble myself with those details." There is a large class who are guided by those feelings?—And I hope who always will be guided by them; but I should consult their feelings enough in the setting before them of the most beautiful works of art. All that I should beg of them to yield to me would be that they should look at Titian only, or at Raphael only, and not wish to have Titian and Raphael side by side; and I think I should be able to teach them, as a matter of beauty, that they did enjoy Titian and Raphael alone better than mingled. Then I would provide them beautiful galleries full of the most-noble sculpture. Whenever we come as a country and a nation to provide beautiful sculpture, it seems to me that the greatest pains should be taken to set it off beautifully. You should have beautiful sculpture in the middle of the room, with dark walls round it to throw out its profile, and you should have all the arrangements made there[Pg 22] so as to harmonize with it, and to set forth every line of it. So the painting gallery, I think, might be made a glorious thing, if the pictures were level, and the architecture above produced unity of impression from the beauty and glow of color and the purity of form.

Mr. Richmond. And you would not exclude a Crevelli because it was quaint, or an early master of any school—you would have the infancy, the youth, and the age, of each school, would you not?—Certainly.

Dean of St. Paul's. Of the German as well as the Italian?—Yes.

Mr. Richmond. Spanish, and all the schools?—Certainly.

136. Mr. Cockerell. You are quite aware of the great liberality of the Government, as we learn from the papers, in a recent instance, namely, the purchase of a great Paul Veronese?—I am rejoiced to hear it. If it is confirmed, nothing will have given me such pleasure for a long time. I think it is the most precious Paul Veronese in the world, as far as the completion of the picture goes, and quite a priceless picture.

Can you conceive a Government, or a people, who would countenance so expensive a purchase, condescending to take up with the occupation of the upper story of some public building, or with an expedient which should not be entirely worthy of such a noble Gallery of Pictures?—I do not think that they ought to do so; but I do not know how far they will be consistent. I certainly think they ought not to put up with any such expedient. I am not prepared to say what limits there are to consistency or inconsistency.

Mr. Richmond. I understand you to have given in evidence that you think a National Collection should be illustrative of the whole art in all its branches?—Certainly.

Not a cabinet of paintings, not a collection of sculptured works, but illustrative of the whole art?—Yes.

137. Have you any further remark to offer to the Commissioners?—I wish to say one word respecting the question of the restoration of statuary. It seems to me a very simple question. Much harm is being at present done in Europe by[Pg 23] restoration, more harm than was ever done, as far as I know, by revolutions or by wars. The French are now doing great harm to their cathedrals, under the idea that they are doing good, destroying more than all the good they are doing. And all this proceeds from the one great mistake of supposing that sculpture can be restored when it is injured. I am very much interested by the question which one of the Commissioners asked me in that respect; and I would suggest whether it does not seem easy to avoid all questions of that kind. If the statue is injured, leave it so, but provide a perfect copy of the statue in its restored form; offer, if you like, prizes to sculptors for conjectural restorations, and choose the most beautiful, but do not touch the original work.

138. Professor Faraday. You said some time ago that in your own attempts to instruct the public there had not been time yet to see whether the course taken had produced improvement or not. You see no signs at all which lead you to suppose that it will not produce the improvement which you desire?—Far from it—I understood the Dean of St. Paul's to ask me whether any general effect had been produced upon the minds of the public. I have only been teaching a class of about forty workmen for a couple of years, after their work—they not always attending—and that forty being composed of people passing away and coming again; and I do not know what they are now doing; I only see a gradual succession of men in my own class. I rather take them in an elementary class, and pass them to a master in a higher class. But I have the greatest delight in the progress which these men have made, so far as I have seen it; and I have not the least doubt that great things will be done with respect to them.

Chairman. Will you state precisely what position you hold?—I am master of the Elementary and Landscape School of Drawing at the Working Men's College in Great Ormond Street. My efforts are directed not to making a carpenter an artist, but to making him happier as a carpenter.

Note.—The following analysis of the above evidence was given in the Index to the Report (p. 184).—Ed.

114-5-6. Sculpture and painting should be combined under same[Pg 24] roof, not in same room.—Sculpture disciplines the eye to appreciate painting.—But, if in same room, disturbs the mind.—Tribune at Florence arranged too much for show—Sculpture not to be regarded as decorative of a room.—National Gallery should include works of all kinds of art of all ages, arranged chronologically (cf. 132). Mediæval sculpture should go with painting, if it is found impossible to combine art of all ages.

117-8. Pictures should be protected by glass in every case. It makes them more beautiful, independently of the preservation,—Glass is not merely expedient, but essential.—Pictures are permanently injured by dirt.

119-20-21. First-rate large pictures should have a room to themselves, and a gallery round them.—Pictures must be hung on a line with the eye.—In one, or at most two, lines.—In the Salon Carre at the Louvre the effect is magnificent, but details of pictures cannot be seen.

122. Galleries should be decorated not splendidly, but pleasantly.

123. Great importance of chronological arrangement. Art the truest history (cf. 125 and 132).

124. Best works of inferior artists to be secured.

125. All the works of a painter, however incongruous their subjects, to be exhibited in juxtaposition.

126. Love of detail in pictures among workmen.—Great refinement of their perceptions.

127. Accessibility of new National Gallery.

128. There should be two galleries—one containing gems, placed in as safe a position as possible; the other containing works good, but inferior to the highest, and located solely with a view to accessibility.

129. Impossible to protect sculpture from London atmosphere.

130. Inferior gallery would be useful as an instructor.—In this respect superior to the great gallery.

131-32. Copies of paintings much to be deprecated.

133. Good collection of casts a valuable addition to a national gallery.—Also architectural fragments and illustrations.—And everything which involves art.

134. If it is impossible to combine works of art of all ages, the Pagan and Christian division is the best.—"Christian" art including all art subsequent to the birth of Christ.

135. Great importance of arranging and setting off sculpture.

136. Recent purchase by Government of the great Paul Veronese.

137. "Restoring" abroad.

138. Witness is Master of the Elementary and Landscape School of Drawing at the Working Men's College in Great Ormond Street.—Progress made by students highly satisfactory.

[Pg 25]


[1] This evidence, given by Mr. Ruskin as stated above, is reprinted from the Report of the National Gallery Site Commission. London: Harrison and Sons. 1857. Pp. 92-7. Questions 2392-2504. The Commission consisted of Lord Broughton (chairman), Dean Milman, Professor Faraday, Mr. Cockerell, R.A., and Mr. George Richmond, all of whom were present on the occasion of Mr. Ruskin giving his evidence.—Ed.



Evidence of John Ruskin, Tuesday, March 20, 1860.

139. Chairman. I believe you have a general acquaintance with the leading museums, picture galleries, and institutions in this metropolis?—Yes, I know them well.

And especially the pictures?—Yes.

I believe you have also taken much interest in the Working Men's College?—Yes, much interest. I have been occupied there as a master for about five years.

I believe you conduct a class on two days in the week?—On one day of the week only.

You have given a great deal of gratuitous instruction to the working classes?—Not so much to the working classes as to the class which especially attends the lectures on drawing, but which of course is connected with the working classes, and through which I know something about them.

140. You are probably able to speak with reference to the hours at which it would be most convenient that these institutions should be opened to the working classes, so that they might enjoy them?—At all events, I can form some opinion about it.

What are the hours which you think would be the most[Pg 26] suitable to the working classes, or those to whom you have imparted instruction?—They would, of course, have in general no hours but in the evening.

Do you think the hours which are now found suitable for mechanics' institutes would be suitable for them, that is, from eight till ten, or from seven till ten at night?—The earlier the better, I should think; that being dependent closely upon the other much more important question, how you can prepare the workmen for taking advantage of these institutions. The question before us, as a nation, is not, I think, what opportunities we shall give to the workmen of instruction, unless we enable them to receive it; and all this is connected closely, in my mind, with the early closing question, and with the more difficult question, issuing out of that, how far you can get the hours of labor regulated, and how far you can get the labor during those hours made not competitive, and not oppressive to the workmen.

141. Have you found that the instruction which you have been enabled to give to the working classes has produced very good results upon them already? I ought perhaps hardly to speak of my own particular modes of instruction, because their tendency is rather to lead the workman out of his class, and I am privately obliged to impress upon my men who come to the Working Men's College, not to learn in the hope of being anything but working men, but to learn what may be either advantageous for them in their work, or make them happy after their work. In my class, they are especially tempted to think of rising above their own rank, and becoming artists,—becoming something better than workmen, and that effect I particularly dread. I want all efforts for bettering the workmen to be especially directed in this way: supposing that they are to remain in this position forever, that they have not capacity to rise above it, and that they are to work as coal miners, or as iron forgers, staying as they are; how then you may make them happier and wiser?

I should suppose you would admit that the desire to rise out of a class is almost inseparable from the amount of self-[Pg 27]improvement that you would wish to give them?—I should think not; I think that the moment a man desires to rise out of his own class, he does his work badly in it; he ought to desire to rise in his own class, and not out of it.

The instruction which you would impart one would suppose would be beneficial to the laborer in the class which he is in?—Yes.

142. And that agrees, does it not, with what has been alleged by many working men, that they have found in their competition with foreigners that a knowledge of art has been most beneficial to them?—Quite so.

I believe many foreigners are now in competition with working men in the metropolis, in matters in which art is involved?—I believe there are many, and that they are likely still more to increase as the relations between the nations become closer.

Is it your opinion that the individual workman who now executes works of art in this country is less intellectually fit for his occupation than in former days?—Very much so indeed.

Have you not some proofs of that which you can adduce for the benefit of the Committee?—I can only make an assertion; I cannot prove it; but I assert it with confidence, that no workman, whose mind I have examined, is, at present, capable of design in the arts, only of imitation, and of exquisite manual execution, such as is unsurpassable by the work of any time or any country; manual execution, which, however, being wholly mechanical, is always profitless to the man himself, and profitless ultimately to those who possess the work.

143. With regard to those institutions in which pictures are exhibited, are you satisfied that the utmost facilities are afforded to the public compatibly with the expense which is now incurred?—I cannot tell how far it would be compatible with the expense, but I think that a very little increase of expense might certainly bring about a great increase of convenience.[Pg 28]

Various plans have been suggested, by different persons, as to an improvement in the National Gallery, with regard to the area, and a better distribution of the pictures?—Yes.

Are you of opinion that at a very small cost it would be possible to increase the area considerably in the case of the National Gallery?—I have not examined the question with respect to the area of the National Gallery. It depends of course upon questions of rent, and respecting the mode in which the building is now constructed, which I have not examined; but in general this is true of large buildings, that expense wisely directed to giving facilities for seeing the pictures, and not to the mere show of the building, would always be productive of far more good to the nation, and especially to the lower orders of the nation, than expense in any other way directed, with reference to these institutions.

144. Some persons have been disposed to doubt whether, if the institutions were open at night, gas would be found injurious to the pictures; would that be your impression?—I have no doubt that it would be injurious to the pictures, if it came in contact with them. It would be a matter of great regret to me that valuable pictures should be so exhibited. I have hoped that pictures might be placed in a gallery for the working classes which would interest them much more than the chefs-d'œuvre of the great masters, and which at the same time would not be a great loss to the nation if destroyed.

145. Have you had any experience of the working of the evening openings of the South Kensington Museum?—No direct experience, but my impression is that the workmen at present being compelled to think always of getting as much work done in a day as they can, are generally led in these institutions to look to the machinery, or to anything which bears upon their trade; it therefore is no rest to them; it may be sometimes, when they are allowed to take their families, as they do on certain evenings, to the Kensington Museum, that is a great step; but the great evil is that the pressure of the work on a man's mind is not removed, and that he has not rest enough, thorough rest given him by proper explanations[Pg 29] of the things he sees; he is not led by a large printed explanation beneath the very thing to take a happy and unpainful interest in every subject brought before him; he wanders about listlessly, and exerts himself to find out things which are not sufficiently explained, and gradually he tires of it, and he goes back to his home, or to his alehouse, unless he is a very intelligent man.

Would you recommend that some person should follow him through the building to explain the details?—No; but I would especially recommend that our institutions should be calculated for the help of persons whose minds are languid with labor. I find that with ordinary constitutions, the labor of a day in England oppresses a man, and breaks him down, and it is not refreshment to him to use his mind after that, but it would be refreshment to him to have anything read to him, or any amusing thing told him, or to have perfect rest; he likes to lie back in his chair at his own fireside, and smoke his pipe, rather than enter into a political debate, and what we want is an extension of our art institutions, with interesting things, teaching a man and amusing him at the same time; above all, large printed explanations under every print and every picture; and the subjects of the pictures such as they can enjoy.

146. Have you any other suggestion to offer calculated to enlighten the Committee on the subject intrusted to them for consideration?—I can only say what my own feelings have been as to my men. I have found particularly that natural history was delightful to them; I think that that has an especial tendency to take their minds off their work, which is what I always try to do, not ambitiously, but reposingly. I should like to add to what I said about the danger of injury to chefs-d'œuvre, that such danger exists, not only as to gas, but also the breath, the variation of temperature, the extension of the canvases in a different temperature, the extension of the paint upon them, and various chemical operations of the human breath, the chance of an accidental escape of gas, the circulation of variously damp air through the ventilators; all[Pg 30] these ought not to be allowed to affect the great and unreplaceable works of the best masters; and those works, I believe, are wholly valueless to the working classes; their merits are wholly imperceptible except to persons who have given many years of study to endeavor to qualify themselves to discover them; but what is wanting for the working man is historical painting of events noble, and bearing upon his own country; the history of his own country well represented to him; the natural history of foreign countries well represented to him; and domestic pathos brought before him. Nothing assists him so much as having the moral disposition developed rather than the intellectual after his work; anything that touches his feelings is good, and puts new life into him; therefore I want modern pictures, if possible, of that class which would ennoble and refine by their subjects. I should like prints of all times, engravings of all times; those would interest him with their variety of means and subject; and natural history of three kinds, namely, shells, birds, and plants; not minerals, because a workman cannot study mineralogy at home; but whatever town he may be in, he may take some interest in the birds and in the plants, or in the sea shells of his own country and coast. I should like the commonest of all our plants first, and most fully illustrated; the commonest of all our birds, and of our shells, and men would be led to take an interest in those things wholly for their beauty, and for their separate charm, irrespective of any use that might be made of them in the arts. There also ought to be, for the more intelligent workman, who really wants to advance himself in his business, specimens of the manufactures of all countries, as far as the compass of such institutions would allow.

147. You have traveled, I believe, a good deal abroad?—Yes.

And you have seen in many foreign countries that far more interest is taken in the improvement of the people in this matter than is taken in this country?—Far more.

Do you think that you can trace the good effects which result from that mode of treatment?—The circumstances are[Pg 31] so different that I do not feel able to give evidence of any definite effect from such efforts; only, it stands to reason, that it must be so. There are so many circumstances at present against us, in England, that we must not be sanguine as to too speedy an effect. I believe that one great reason of the superiority of foreign countries in manufactures is, that they have more beautiful things about them continually, and it is not possible for a man who is educated in the streets of our manufacturing towns ever to attain that refinement of eye or sense; he cannot do it; and he is accustomed in his home to endure that which not the less blunts his senses.

The Committee has been informed that with regard to some of our museums, particularly the British Museum, they are very much overcharged with objects, and I apprehend that the same remark would be true as to some of our picture galleries. Are you of opinion that it would be conducive to the general elevation of the people in this country if our works of art, and objects of interest, were circulated more expeditiously, and more conveniently, than at present, throughout the various manufacturing districts?—I think that all precious works of art ought to be treated with a quite different view, and that they ought to be kept together where men whose work is chiefly concerned with art, and where the artistically higher classes can take full advantage of them. They ought, therefore, to be all together, as in the Louvre at Paris, and as in the Uffizii at Florence, everything being illustrative of other things, but kept separate from the collections intended for the working classes, which may be as valuable as you choose, but they should be usable, and above all things so situated that the working classes could get at them easily, without keepers to watch what they are about, and have their wives and children with them, and be able to get at them freely, so that they might look at a thing as their own, not merely as the nation's, but as a gift from the nation to them as the working class.

You would cultivate a taste at the impressionable age?—Especially in the education of children, that being just the[Pg 32] first question, I suppose, which lies at the root of all you can do for the workman.

148. With regard to the circulation of pictures and such loans of pictures as have heretofore been made in Manchester and elsewhere, are you of opinion that, in certain cases, during a part of the year, some of our best pictures might be lent for particular periods, to particular towns, to be restored in the same condition, so as to give those towns an opportunity of forming an opinion upon them, which otherwise they would not have?—I would rather keep them all in the metropolis, and move them as little as possible when valuable.

Mr. Slaney. That would not apply to loans by independent gentlemen who were willing to lend their pictures?—I should be very glad if it were possible to lend pictures, and send them about. I think it is one of the greatest movements in the nation, showing the increasing kindness of the upper classes towards the lower, that that has been done; but I think nothing can justify the risking of noble pictures by railway, for instance; that, of course, is an artist's view of the matter; but I do not see that the advantage to be gained would at all correspond with the danger of loss which is involved.

149. Mr. Hanbury. You mentioned that you thought it was very desirable that there should be lectures given to the working classes?—Yes.

Do you think that the duplicate specimens at the British Museum could be made available for lectures on natural history, if a part of that institution could be arranged for the purpose?—I should think so; but it is a question that I have no right to have an opinion upon. Only the officers of the institution can say what number of their duplicate specimens they could spare.

I put the question to you because I have observed in the British Museum that the people took a great interest in the natural history department, and, upon one occasion, a friend of mine stopped, and explained some of the objects, and at once a very numerous crowd was attracted round him, and the officials had to interfere, and told him to move on.—So[Pg 33] much more depends upon the explanation than on the thing explained, that I believe, with very simple collections of very small value, but well chosen, and exhibited by a thoroughly intelligent lecturer, you might interest the lower classes, and teach them to any extent.

Would it be difficult to find such lecturers as you speak of?—Not in time; perhaps at present it would be, because we have got so much in the habit of thinking that science consists in language, and in fine words, and not in ascertaining the nature of the thing. The workman cannot be deceived by fine words; he always wants to know something about the thing, and its properties. Many of our lecturers would, I have no doubt, be puzzled if they were asked to explain the habits of a common bird.

150. Is there an increasing desire for information and improvement among the working classes?—A thirsty desire for it in every direction, increasing day by day, and likely to increase; it would grow by what it feeds upon.

To what do you attribute this improvement?—Partly to the healthy and proper efforts which have been made to elevate the working classes; partly, I am sorry to say, to an ambitious desire throughout the nation always to get on to a point which it has not yet reached, and which makes one man struggle with another in every way. I think that the idea that knowledge is power is at the root of the movement among the working classes, much more so than in any other.

Do you consider that the distance of our public institutions is a great hindrance to the working classes?—Very great indeed.

You would, therefore, probably consider it a boon if another institution such as the British Museum could be established in the eastern end of the metropolis?—I should be most thankful to see it, especially there.

151. Mr. Slaney. I think you stated that you considered, that for the working classes it is a great thing to have relaxation of mind after the close occupation of the day; that they would embrace an opportunity of attending popular lectures[Pg 34] on branches of natural history which they could comprehend, if they were given to them in plain and simple language?—Yes.

For instance, if you were to give a popular lecture upon British birds, giving them an explanation of the habits of the various birds, assisted by tolerably good plates, or figures describing the different habits of migration of those that come to us in spring, remain during the summer, and depart in the autumn to distant countries; of those which come in the autumn, remain during the winter, and then leave us; of those which charm us with their song, and benefit us in various ways; do you think that such a lecture would be acceptable to the working classes?—It would be just what they would enjoy the most, and what would do them the most good.

Do you not think that such lectures might be given without any very great cost, by finding persons who would endeavor to make the subjects plain and pleasant, not requiring a very expensive apparatus, either of figures or of birds, but which might be pointed out to them, and explained to them from time to time?—No; I think that no such lectures would be of use, unless a permanent means of quiet study were given to the men between times. As far as I know, lectures are always entirely useless, except as a matter of amusement, unless some opportunity be afforded of accurate intermediate study, and although I should deprecate the idea, on the one side, of giving the chefs-d'œuvre of the highest masters to the workman for his daily experiments, so I should deprecate, on the other, the idea of any economy if I saw a definite plan of helping a man in his own times of quiet study.

152. There are some popular works on British birds which the men might be referred to, containing accounts of the birds and their habits, which might be referred to subsequently?—Yes.

There are several works relating to British birds which are very beautifully illustrated, and to those they might be referred; do you not think that something might also be done[Pg 35] with regard to popular lectures upon British plants, and particularly those which are perhaps the most common, and only neglected because of their being common; that you might point out to them the different soils in which they grow, so that they might be able to make excursions to see them in their wild state?—My wish is, that in every large manufacturing town there should be a perfect collection, at all events of the principal genera of British plants and birds, thoroughly well arranged, and a library associated with it, containing the best illustrative works on the subject, and that from time to time lectures should be given by the leading scientific men, which I am sure they would be willing to give if such collections were opened to them.

I dare say you know that there is one book upon British birds, which was compiled by a gentleman who was in trade, and lived at the corner of St. James's Street for many years, which is prized by all who are devoted to that study, and which would be easily obtained for the working men. Do you not think that this would relax their minds and be beneficial to them in many ways, especially if they were able to follow up the study?—Yes, in every way.

As to plants, might not they interest their wives as well?—I quite believe so.

If such things could be done by subscription in the vicinity of large towns, such as Manchester, would they not be very much responded to by the grateful feelings of the humbler people, who themselves would subscribe probably some trifle?—I think they would be grateful, however it were done. But I should like it to be done as an expression of the sense of the nation, as doing its duty towards the workmen, rather than it should be done as a kind of charity by private subscription.

153. Sir Robert Peel. You have been five years connected with the Working Men's College?—Yes; I think about that time.

Is the attendance good there?—There is a fair attendance, I believe.[Pg 36]

Of the working classes?—Yes; in the other lecture-rooms; not much in mine.

Do they go there as they please without going beforehand for tickets?—They pass through an introductory examination, which is not severe in any way, but merely shows that they are able to take advantage of the classes there; of course they pay a certain sum, which is not at all, at present, I believe, supporting to the college, for every class, just to insure their paying attention to it.

You stated that you did not think lectures would be of any use unless there was what you called active intermediate study?—I think not.

What did you mean by active intermediate study? if a man is working every day of the week until Saturday afternoon, how could that take place?—I think that you could not at all provide lectures once or twice a week at the institutions throughout the kingdom. By intermediate study, I mean merely that a man should have about him, when he came into the room, things that shall tempt him to look at them, and get interested in, say in one bird, or in one plant.

While the lecture was going on?—No, that might be given once a fortnight, or once a month, but that this intermediate attention should be just that which a man is delighted to give to a single plant which he cultivates in his own garden, or a single bird which he may happen to have obtained; the best of all modes of study.

154. You are in favor of the Early Closing Association?—I will not say that I am, because I have not examined their principles. I want to have our labor regulated, so that it shall be impossible for men to be so entirely crushed in mind and in body as they are by the system of competition.

You stated that you would wish the hours during which they would be able to enjoy the institutions to be as early as possible?—Yes, certainly.

But it would be impossible to have them earlier than they are now, on account of the organization of labor in the country.—I do not know what is possible. I do not know[Pg 37] what the number of hours necessary for labor will ultimately be found to be.

Still you are of opinion that, if there was a half-holiday on the Saturday, it would be an advantage to the working classes, and enable them to visit and enjoy these institutions?—Certainly.

155. You observed, I think, that there was a thirsty desire on the part of the working classes for improvement?—Certainly.

And you also stated that there was a desire on their part to rise in that class, but not out of it?—I did not say that they wanted to rise in that class; they wish to emerge from it; they wish to become something better than workmen, and I want to keep them in that class; I want to teach every man to rest contented in his station, and I want all people, in all stations, to better and help each other as much as they can.

But you never saw a man, did you, who was contented?—Yes, I have seen several; nearly all the very good workmen are contented; I find that it is only the second-rate workmen who are discontented.

156. Surely competition with foreigners is a great advantage to the working classes of this country?—No.

It has been stated that competition is an immense advantage in the extension of artistic knowledge among the people of this country, who are rapidly stepping on the heels of foreigners?—An acquaintance with what foreign nations have accomplished may be very useful to our workmen, but a spirit of competition with foreign nations is useful to no one.

Will you be good enough to state why?—Every nation has the power of producing a certain number of objects of art, or of manufacturing productions which are peculiar to it, and which it can produce thoroughly well; and, when that is rightly understood, every nation will strive to do its own work as well as it can be done, and will desire to be supplied, by other nations, with that which they can produce; for example, if we tried here in England to produce silk, we might possibly grow unhealthy mulberry trees and bring up unhealthy silk[Pg 38]worms, but not produce good silk. It may be a question how far we should compete with foreigners in matters of taste. I think it doubtful, even in that view, that we should ever compete with them thoroughly. I find evidence in past art, that the French have always had a gift of color, which the English never had.

157. You stated that you thought that at very little expense the advantages to be derived from our national institutions might be greatly increased; will you state why you think very little expense would be necessary, and how it should be done?—By extending the space primarily, and by adding very cheap but completely illustrative works; by making all that such institutions contain thoroughly accessible; and giving, as I think I have said before, explanations, especially in a visible form, beside the thing to be illustrated, not in a separate form.

But that only would apply to daytime?—To nighttime as well.

But would you not have to introduce a system of lighting?—Yes; a system of lighting I should only regret as applied to the great works of art; I should think that the brightest system of lighting should be applied, especially of an evening, so that such places should be made delightful to the workman, and withdraw him from the alehouse and all other evil temptation; but I want them rather to be occupied by simple, and more or less cheap collections, than by the valuable ones, for fear of fire.

If, at the British Museum, they had printed information upon natural history, that, you think, would do great good?—Yes.

158. You stated that you thought there was far more interest taken in foreign countries in the intellectual development of the working classes than in England?—I answered that question rather rashly. I hardly ever see anything of society in foreign countries, and I was thinking, at the time, of the great efforts now being made in France, and of the general comfort of the institutions that are open.[Pg 39]

Not political?—No.

Still you think that there is more interest taken in the intellectual development of the working classes in foreign countries than in England?—I think so, but I do not trust my own opinion.

I have lived abroad, and I have remarked that there is a natural facility in the French people, for instance, in acquiring a knowledge of art, and of combination of colors, but I never saw more, but far less desire or interest taken in the working classes than in England.—As far as relates to their intellectual development, I say yes; but I think there is a greater disposition to make them happy, and allow them to enjoy their happiness, in ordinary associations, at fêtes, and everything of that kind, that is amusing or recreative to them.

But that is only on Sundays?—No; on all fête days, and throughout, I think you see the working man, with his wife, happier in the gardens or in the suburbs of a town, and on the whole in a happier state; there is less desire to get as much out of him for the money as they can; less of that desire to oppress him and to use him as a machine than there is in England. But, observe, I do not lean upon that point; and I do not quite see how that bears upon the question, because, whatever interest there may be in foreign countries, or in ours, it is not as much as it should be in either.

But you were throwing a slur upon the character of the upper classes in this country, by insinuating that abroad a great deal more interest was taken in the working classes than in England. Now I assert, that quite the contrary is the fact.—I should be very sorry to express all the feelings that I have respecting the relations between the upper classes and the working classes in this country; it is a subject which cannot at present be discussed, and one upon which I would decline any further examination.

159. You stated that the working men were not so happy in this country as they were abroad, pursuing the same occupations?—I should think certainly not.[Pg 40]

You have been in Switzerland?—Yes.

And at Zurich?—Not lately.

That is the seat of a great linen manufacture?—I have never examined the manufactures there, nor have I looked at Switzerland as a manufacturing country.

But you stated that there was much more interest taken in the intellectual developments of the working classes in foreign countries than in England?—Yes; but I was not thinking of Switzerland or of Zurich. I was thinking of France, and I was thinking of the working classes generally, not specially the manufacturing working classes. I used the words "working classes" generally.

Then do you withdraw the expression that you made use of, that in foreign countries the upper classes take more interest in the condition of the working classes, than they do in England?—I do not withdraw it; I only said that it was my impression.

But you cannot establish it?—No.

Therefore it is merely a matter of individual impression?—Entirely so.

You said, I think, that abroad the people enjoy their public institutions better, because inspectors do not follow them about?—I did not say so. I was asked the question whether I thought teaching should be given by persons accompanying the workman about, and I said certainly not. I would rather leave him to himself, with such information as could be given to him by printed documents.

160. Mr. Sclater Booth. With regard to the National Gallery, are you aware that there is great pressure and want of space there now, both with regard to the room for hanging pictures, and also with reference to the crowds of persons who frequent the National Gallery?—I am quite sure that if there is not great pressure, there will be soon, owing to the number of pictures which are being bought continually.

Do you not think that an extension of the space in the National Gallery is a primary consideration, which ought to take precedence of any improvement that might be made in[Pg 41] the rooms as they are, with a view to opening them of an evening?—Most certainly.

That is the first thing, you think, that ought to be done?—Most certainly.

When you give your lectures at the Working Men's College, is it your habit to refer to special pictures in the National Gallery, or to special works of art in the British Museum?—Never; I try to keep whatever instruction I give bearing upon what is easily accessible to the workman, or what he can see at the moment. I do not count upon his having time to go to these institutions; I like to put the thing in his hand, and have it about.

Has it never been a stumbling-block in your path that you have found a workman unable to compare your lectures with any illustrations that you may have referred him to?—I have never prepared my lectures with a view to illustrate them by the works of the great masters.

161. You spoke, and very justly, of the importance of fixing on works of art printed explanations; are you not aware that that has been done to some extent at the Kensington Museum?—Yes.

Do you not think that a great part of the popularity of that institution is owing to that circumstance?—I think so, certainly.

On the whole, I gather from your evidence that you are not very sanguine as to the beneficial results that would arise from the opening of the British Museum and the National Gallery of an evening, as those institutions are at present constituted, from a want of space and the crowding of the objects there?—Whatever the results might be, from opening them, as at present constituted, I think better results might be attained by preparing institutions for the workman himself alone.

Do you think that museums of birds and plants, established in various parts of the metropolis, illustrated and furnished with pictures of domestic interest, and possibly with specimens of manufactures, would be more desirable, considering the mode in which the large institutions are now seen?—I[Pg 42] think in these great institutions attention ought specially to be paid to giving perfect security to all the works and objects of art which they possess; and to giving convenience to the thorough student, whose business lies with those museums; and that collections for the amusement and improvement of the working classes ought to be entirely separate.

If such institutions as I have described were to be established, you would of course desire that they should be opened of an evening, and be specially arranged, with a view to evening exhibition?—Certainly.

It has been stated that the taxpayer has a right to have these exhibitions opened at hours when the workpeople can go to them, they being taxpayers; do not you think that the real interest of the taxpayer is, first, to have the pictures as carefully preserved as possible, and secondly, that they should be accessible to those whose special occupation in life is concerned in their study?—Most certainly.

Is not the interest of the taxpayer reached in this way, rather than by any special opportunity being given of visiting at particular hours?—Most certainly.

162. Mr. Kinnaird. Have you ever turned your attention to any peculiar localities, where museums of paintings and shells, and of birds and plants, might be opened for the purpose referred to?—Never; I have never examined the subject.

Has it ever occurred to you that the Vestry Halls, which have recently been erected, and which are lighted, might be so appropriated?—No; I have never considered the subject at all.

Supposing that suitable premises could be found, do you not think that many people would contribute modern paintings, and engravings, and various other objects of interest?—I think it is most probable; in fact, I should say certain.

You would view such an attempt with great favor?—Yes; with great delight indeed.

You rather look upon it as the duty of the Government to provide such institutions for the people?—I feel that very strongly indeed.[Pg 43]

Do you not think that the plan which has been adopted at Versailles, of having modern history illustrated by paintings, would prove of great interest to the people?—I should think it would be an admirable plan in every way.

And a very legitimate step to be taken by the Government, for the purpose of encouraging art in that way?—Most truly.

Would it have, do you think, an effect in encouraging art in this country?—I should think so, certainly.

Whose duty would you consider it to be to superintend the formation of such collections? are there any Government officers who are at present capable of organizing a staff for employment in local museums that you are aware of?—I do not know; I have not examined that subject at all.

163. Chairman. The Committee would like to understand you more definitely upon the point that has been referred to, as to foreigners and Englishmen. I presume that what you wished the Committee to understand was, that upon the whole, so far as you have observed, more facilities are in point of fact afforded to the working classes, in some way or other, abroad than in this country for seeing pictures and visiting public institutions?—My answer referred especially to the aspect of the working classes as I have watched them in their times of recreation; I see them associated with the upper classes, more happily for themselves; I see them walking through the Louvre, and walking through the gardens of all the great cities of Europe, and apparently less ashamed of themselves, and more happily combined with all the upper classes of society, than they are here. Here our workmen, somehow, are always miserably dressed, and they always keep out of the way, both at such institutions and at church. The temper abroad seems to be, while there is a sterner separation and a more aristocratic feeling between the upper and the lower classes, yet just on that account the workman confesses himself for a workman, and is treated with affection. I do not say workmen merely, but the lower classes generally, are treated with affection, and familiarity, and sympathy by the master or employer, which has to me often been very touching[Pg 44] in separate eases; and that impression being on my mind, I answered, not considering that the question was of any importance, hastily; and I am not at present prepared to say how far I could, by thinking, justify that impression.

164. Mr. Kinnaird. In your experience, in the last few years, have you not seen a very marked improvement in the working classes in this country in every respect to which you have alluded; take the last twenty years, or since you have turned your attention that way?—I have no evidence before me in England of that improvement, because I think that the struggle for existence becomes every day more severe, and that, while greater efforts are made to help the workman, the principles on which our commerce is conducted are every day oppressing him, and sinking him deeper.

Have you ever visited the manufacturing districts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, with a view of ascertaining the state of the people there?—Not with a definite view. My own work has nothing to do with those subjects; and it is only incidentally, because I gratuitously give such instruction as I am able to give at the Working Men's College, that I am able to give you any facts on this subject. All the rest that I can give is, as Sir Robert Peel accurately expressed it, nothing but personal impression.

You admit that the Working Men's College is, after all, a very limited sphere?—A very limited sphere.

165. Sir Robert Peel. You have stated that, in the Louvre, a working man looks at the pictures with a greater degree of self-respect than the same classes do in the National Gallery here?—I think so.

You surely never saw a man of the upper class, in England, scorn at a working man because he appeared in his working dress in the National Gallery in London?—I have certainly seen working men apprehensive of such scorn.

Chairman. Is it not the fact, that the upper and lower classes scarcely ever meet on the same occasions?—I think, if possible, they do not.

Is it not the fact that the laboring classes almost invariably[Pg 45] cease labor at such hours as would prevent them from going to see pictures at the time when the upper classes do go?—I meant, before, to signify assent to your question, that they do not meet if it can be avoided.

Sir Robert Peel. Take the Crystal Palace as an example; do not working men and all classes meet there together, and did you ever see a working man gêné in the examination of works of art?—I am sure that a working man very often would not go where he would like to go.

But you think he would abroad?—I think they would go abroad; I only say that I believe such is the fact.

Mr. Slaney. Do not you think that the light-hearted temperament of our southern neighbors, and the fineness of the climate, which permits them to enjoy themselves more in the open air, has something to do with it?—I hope that the old name of Merry England may be recovered one of these days. I do not think that it is in the disposition of the inhabitants to be in the least duller than other people.

Sir Robert Peel. When was that designation lost?—I am afraid ever since our manufactures have prospered.

Chairman. Referring to the Crystal Palace, do you think that that was an appropriate instance to put, considering the working man pays for his own, and is not ashamed to enjoy his own for his own money?—I have never examined the causes of the feeling; it did not appear to me to be a matter of great importance what was the state of feeling in foreign countries. I felt that it depended upon so many circumstances, that I thought it would be a waste of time to trace it.

166. Sir Robert Peel. You stated that abroad the working classes were much better dressed?—Yes.

Do you think so?—Yes.

Surely they cannot be better dressed than they are in England, for you hardly know a working man here from an aristocrat?—It is precisely because I do know working men on a Sunday and every other day of the week from an aristocrat that I like their dress better in France; it is the ordinary dress belonging to their position, and it expresses momen[Pg 46]tarily what they are; it is the blue blouse which hangs freely over their frames, keeping them sufficiently protected from cold and dust; but here it is a shirt open at the collar, very dirty, very much torn, with ragged hair, and a ragged coat, and altogether a dress of misery.

You think that they are better dressed abroad because they wear a blouse?—Because they wear a costume appropriate to their work.

Are you aware that they make it an invariable custom to leave off the blouse on Sundays and on holidays, and that after they have finished their work they take off their blouse?—I am not familiar, nor do I profess to be familiar, with the customs of the Continent; I am only stating my impressions; but I like especially their habit of wearing a national costume. I believe the national costume of work in Switzerland to be at the root of what prosperity Switzerland yet is retaining. I think, for instance, although it may sound rather singular to say so, that the pride which the women take in their clean chemise sleeves, is one of the healthiest things in Switzerland, and that it is operative in every way on the health of the mind and the body, their keeping their costume pure, fresh, and beautiful.

You stated that the working classes were better dressed abroad than in England?—As far as I know, that is certainly the fact.

Still their better dress consists of a blouse, which they take off when they have finished their work?—I bow to your better knowledge of the matter.

Chairman. Are you aware that a considerable number of the working classes are in bed on the Sunday?—Perhaps it is the best place for them.

167. Mr. Kinnaird. You trace the deterioration in the condition of the working classes to the increase of trade and manufactures in this country?—To the increase of competitive trades and manufactures.

It is your conviction that we may look upon this vast extension of trade, and commerce, and competition, altogether[Pg 47] as an evil?—Not on the vast extension of trade, but on the vast extension of the struggle of man with man, instead of the principle of help of man by man.

Chairman. I understood you to say, that you did not object to trade, but that you wished each country to produce that which it was best fitted to produce, with a view to an interchange of its commodities with those of other countries?—Yes.

You did not intend to cast a slur upon the idea of competition?—Yes, very distinctly; I intended not only to cast a slur, but to express my excessive horror of the principle of competition, in every way; for instance, we ought not to try to grow claret here, nor to produce silk; we ought to produce coal and iron, and the French should give us wine and silk.

You say that, with a view to an interchange of such commodities?—Yes.

Each country producing that which it is best fitted to produce?—Yes, as well as it can; not striving to imitate or compete with the productions of other countries. Finally, I believe that the way of ascertaining what ought to be done for the workman in any position, is for any one of us to suppose that he was our own son, and that he was left without any parents, and without any help; that there was no chance of his ever emerging out of the state in which he was, and then, that what we should each of us like to be done for our son, so left, we should strive to do for the workman.

The following analysis of the above evidence was mainly given in the Index to the Report (p. 153).—Ed.

139. Is well acquainted with the museums, picture galleries, etc., in the metropolis.—Conducts a drawing class at the Working Men's College.

140. Desirableness of the public institutions being open in the evening (cp. 154, 161).

141. Remarks relative to the system of teaching expedient for the working classes; system pursued by witness at the Working Men's College.—Workmen to aim at rising in their class, not out of it (cp. 155).[Pg 48]

142. Backward state, intellectually, of the working man of the present time; superiority of the foreigner.

143. Improvement of the National Gallery suggested (cp. 157, 160).

144. Inexpediency of submitting valuable ancient pictures to the risk of injury from gas, etc. (cp. 146, 157).

145. Statement as to the minds of the working classes after their day's labor being too much oppressed to enable them to enjoy or appreciate the public institutions, if merely opened in the evening.

146. Suggested collection of pictures and prints of a particular character for the inspection of the working classes.—Suggestions with a view to special collections of shells, birds, and plants being prepared for the use of the working classes; system of lectures, of illustration, and of intermediate study necessary in connection with such collections (cp. 151-52).

147. Statement as to greater interest being taken in France and other foreign countries than in England in the intellectual development of the working classes; examination on this point, and on the effect produced thereby upon the character and demeanor of the working people (cp. 158, 163-64).

148. Objection to circulating valuable or rare works of art throughout the country, on account of the risk of injury—Disapproval of inspectors, etc., going about with the visitors (cp. 159).—Advantage in the upper classes lending pictures, etc., for public exhibition.

149. Lectures to working men. Advantage if large printed explanations were placed under every picture (cp. 157, 161).

150. Great desire among the working classes to acquire knowledge; grounds of such desire (cp. 155).—Great boon if a museum were formed at the east end of London.

151. Lectures on natural history for working men.

152. Books available on British birds.

153. Intermediate study essential to use of Lectures.—Good attendance at Working Men's College.—Terms and conditions of admission to it.

154. Approval of Saturday half-holiday movement (cp. 140, 161).

155. See above, s. 142.

156. Competition in trade and labor regarded by witness as a great evil.

157. See above, s. 143, 149.

158-59. Happier condition of lower classes abroad than at home. Their dress also better abroad. 163-64, 166, and see above, s. 142.

160. See above, s. 143, 149, 157.

161. See above, s. 149, 154.

162. Use of existing public buildings for art collections.[Pg 49]

163-64. See above, s. 158-59.

165. Surely England may one day be Merry England again.—When it ceased to be so.

166. See above, s. 158-59.

167. Increase of trade and deteriorated condition of working-classes.—Our duty to them.

[Pg 50]


[2] Reprinted from "The Report of the Select Committee on Public Institutions. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, 27 March 1860," pp. 113-123. The following members of the Committee were present on the occasion of the above evidence being given: -Sir John Trelawny (Chairman), Mr. Sclater Booth, Mr. Du Pre, Mr. Kinnaird, Mr. Hanbury, Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Slaney, and Mr. John Tollemache.—Ed.



Evidence of John Ruskin, Monday, June 8th, 1863.

168. Chairman. You have, no doubt, frequently considered the position of the Royal Academy in this country?—Yes.

Is it in all points satisfactory to you?—No, certainly not.

Do you approve, for example, of the plan by which, on a vacancy occurring, the Royal Academicians supply that vacancy, or would you wish to see that election confided to any other hands?—I should wish to see the election confided to other hands. I think that all elections are liable to mistake, or mischance, when the electing body elect the candidate into them. I rather think that elections are only successful where the candidate is elected into a body other than the body of electors; but I have not considered the principles of election fully enough to be able to give any positive statement of opinion upon that matter. I only feel that at present the thing is liable to many errors and mischances.

Does it not seem, however, that there are some precedents, such, for example, as the Institute of France, in which the[Pg 51] body electing to the vacancies that occur within it keeps up a very high character, and enjoys a great reputation?—There are many such precedents; and, as every such body for its own honor must sometimes call upon the most intellectual men of the country to join it, I should think that every such body must retain a high character where the country itself has a proper sense of the worth of its best men; but the system of election may be wrong, though the sense of the country may be right; and I think, in appealing to a precedent to justify a system, we should estimate properly what has been brought about by the feeling of the country. We are all, I fancy, too much in the habit of looking to forms as the cause of what really is caused by the temper of the nation at the particular time, working, through the forms, for good or evil.

If, however, the election of Academicians were to be confided to artists who were not already Academicians themselves, would it be easy to meet this objection, that they would have in many cases a personal interest in the question; that each might be striving for his own admission to that distinction; whereas, when the election takes place among those who have already attained that distinction, direct personal interest at all events is absent?—I should think personal interest would act in a certain sense in either case; it would branch into too many subtleties of interest to say in what way it would act. I should think that it would be more important to the inferior body to decide rightly upon those who were to govern them, than to the superior body to decide upon those who were to govern other people; and that the superior body would therefore generally choose those who were likely to be pleasant to themselves;—pleasant, either as companions, or in carrying out a system which they chose for their own convenience to adopt; while the inferior body would choose men likely to carry out the system that would tend most to the general progress of art.

169. As I understand you, though you have a decided opinion that it would be better for some other constituent body to elect the members of the Royal Academy, you have not a[Pg 52] decided opinion as to how that constituent body would best be composed?—By no means.

I presume you would wish that constituent body to consist of artists, though you are not prepared to say precisely how they should be selected?—I should like the constituent body to consist both of artists and of the public. I feel great difficulties in offering any suggestion as to the manner in which the electors should elect: but I should like the public as well as artists to have a voice, so that we might have the public feeling brought to bear upon painting as we have now upon music; and that the election of those who were to attract the public eye, or direct the public mind, should indicate also the will of the public in some respects; not that I think that "will" always wise, but I think you would then have pointed out in what way those who are teaching the public should best regulate the teaching; and also it would give the public itself an interest in art, and a sense of responsibility, which in the present state of things they never can have.

Will you explain more fully the precedent of music to which you have just adverted?—The fame of any great singer or any great musician depends upon the public enthusiasm and feeling respecting him. No Royal Academy can draw a large audience to the opera by stating that such and such a piece of music is good, or that such and such a voice is clear; if the public do not feel the voice to be delicious, and if they do not like the music, they will not go to hear it. The fame of the musician, whether singer, instrumentalist, or composer, is founded mainly upon his having produced a strong effect upon the public intellect and imagination. I should like that same effect to be produced by painters, and to be expressed by the public enthusiasm and approbation; not merely by expressions of approbation in conversation, but by the actual voice which in the theater is given by the shout and by the clapping of the hands. You cannot clap a picture, nor clap a painter at his work, but I should like the public in some way to bring their voice to bear upon the painter's work.

170. Have you formed any opinion upon the position of[Pg 53] the Associates in the Royal Academy?—I have thought of it a little, but the present system of the Academy is to me so entirely nugatory, it produces so little effect in any way (what little effect it does produce being in my opinion mischievous), that it has never interested me; and I have felt the difficulty so greatly, that I never, till your lordship's letter reached me, paid much attention to it. I always thought it would be a waste of time to give much time to thinking how it might be altered; so that as to the position of Associates I can say little, except that I think, in any case, there ought to be some period of probation, and some advanced scale of dignity, indicative of the highest attainments in art, which should be only given to the oldest and most practiced painters.

From the great knowledge which you possess of British art, looking to the most eminent painters, sculptors, and architects at this time, should you say that the number of the Royal Academy is sufficient fully to represent them, or would you recommend an increase in the present number of Academicians?—I have not considered in what proportion the Academicianships at present exist. That is rather a question bearing upon the degree of dignity which one would be glad to confer. I should like the highest dignity to be limited, but I should like the inferior dignity corresponding to the Associateship to be given, as the degrees are given in the universities, without any limitation of number, to those possessing positive attainments and skill. I should think a very limited number of Academicianships would always meet all the requirements of the highest intellect of the country.

171. Have you formed any opinion upon the expediency of intrusting laymen with some share in the management of the affairs of the Academy?—No, I have formed no opinion upon that matter. I do not know what there is at present to be managed in the Academy. I should think if the Academy is to become an available school, laymen cannot be joined in the management of that particular department. In matters of revenue, and in matters concerning the general interests and dignity of the Academy, they might be.[Pg 54]

Should you think that non-professional persons would be fitly associated with artists in such questions as the selection and hanging of the pictures sent in for exhibition?—No, I think not.

Some persons have suggested that the president of the Academy should not always nor of necessity be himself an artist; should you approve of any system by which a gentleman of high social position, not an artist, was placed at the head of such a body as the Academy?—"Of such a body as the Academy," if I may be permitted to repeat your words, must of course have reference to the constitution to be given to it. As at present constituted, I do not know what advantage might or might not be derived from such a gentleman being appointed president. As I should like to see it constituted, I think he ought to be an artist only.

172. Have you had any reason to observe or to make yourself acquainted with the working of the schools of the Royal Academy?—Yes, I have observed it. I have not made myself acquainted with the actual methods of teaching at present in use, but I know the general effect upon the art of the country.

What should you say was that effect?—Nearly nugatory: exceedingly painful in this respect, that the teaching of the Academy separates, as the whole idea of the country separates, the notion of art-education from other education, and when you have made that one fundamental mistake, all others follow. You teach a young man to manage his chalk and his brush—not always that—but having done that, you suppose you have made a painter of him; whereas to educate a painter is the same thing as to educate a clergyman or a physician—you must give him a liberal education primarily, and that must be connected with the kind of learning peculiarly fit for his profession. That error is partly owing to our excessively vulgar and excessively shallow English idea that the artist's profession is not, and cannot be, a liberal one. We respect a physician, and call him a gentleman, because he can give us a purge and clean out our stomachs; but we do not call an[Pg 55] artist a gentleman, whom we expect to invent for us the face of Christ. When we have made that primary mistake, all other mistakes in education are trivial in comparison. The very notion of an art academy should be, a body of teachers of the youth who are to be the guides of the nation through its senses; and that is a very important means of guiding it. We have done a good deal through dinners, but we may some day do a good deal more through pictures.

You would have a more comprehensive system of teaching?—Much more comprehensive.

173. Do I rightly understand you that you would wish it to embrace branches of liberal education in general, and not be merely confined to specific artistic studies?—Certainly. I would have the Academy education corresponding wholly to the university education. The schools of the country ought to teach the boy the first conditions of manipulation. He should come up, I say not at what age, but probably at about fourteen or fifteen, to the central university of art, wherever that was established; and then, while he was taught to paint and to carve and to work in metal—just as in old times he would have been taught to manage the sword and lance, they being the principal business of his life,—during the years from fifteen to twenty, the chief attention of his governors should be to make a gentleman of him in the highest sense; and to give him an exceedingly broad and liberal education, which should enable him not only to work nobly, but to conceive nobly.

174. As to the point, however, of artistic manipulation, is not it the fact that many great painters have differed, and do differ, from each other, and would it therefore be easy for the Academy to adopt any authoritative system of teaching, excluding one mode and acknowledging another?—Not easy, but very necessary. There have been many methods; but there has never been a case of a great school which did not fix upon its method: and there has been no case of a thoroughly great school which did not fix upon the right method, as far as circumstances enabled it to do so. The meaning[Pg 56] of a successful school is, that it has adopted a method which it teaches to its young painters, so that right working becomes a habit with them; so that with no thought, and no effort, and no torment, and no talk about it, they have the habit of doing what their school teaches them.

You do not think a system is equally good which leaves to each eminent professor, according to the bent of his genius or the result of his experience, to instruct young men, the instruction varying with the character of each professor?—Great benefit would arise if each professor founded his own school, and were interested in his own pupils; but, as has been sufficiently illustrated in the schools of Domenichino and Guido, there is apt to arise rivalry between the masters, with no correlative advantages, unless the masters are all of one mind. And the only successful idea of an academy has been where the practice was consistent, and where there was no contradiction. Considering the knowledge we now have, and the means we now have of comparing all the works of the greatest painters, though, as you suggest by your question, it is not easy to adopt an authoritative system, yet it is perfectly possible. Let us get at the best method and let us teach that. There is unquestionably a best way if we can find it; and we have now in England the means of finding it out.

The teaching in the Academy is now, under all circumstances, gratuitous; would you wish that system to continue, or should you prefer to see a system of payment?—I am not prepared to answer that question. It would depend upon the sort of system that was adopted and on the kind of persons you received into your schools.

175. I presume you would say that in artistic teaching there are some points on which there would be common ground, and others upon which there must be specific teaching; for instance, in sculpture and painting there is a point up to which the proportions of the human figure have to be studied, but afterwards there is a divergence between the two arts of chiseling marble and laying colors on the canvas?—Certainly. I should think all that might be arranged in an[Pg 57] Academy system very simply. You would have first your teaching of drawing with the soft point; and associated with that, chiaroscuro: you would then have the teaching of drawing with the hard or black point, involving the teaching of the best system of engraving, and all that was necessary to form your school of engravers: you would then proceed to metal work; and on working in metal you would found your school of sculpture, and on that your school of architecture: and finally, and above all, you would have your school of painting, including oil painting and fresco painting, and all painting in permanent material; (not comprising painting in any material that was not permanent:) and with that you would associate your school of chemistry, which should teach what was permanent and what was not; which school of chemistry should declare authoritatively, with the Academy's seal, what colors would stand and what process would secure their standing: and should have a sort of Apothecaries' Hall where anybody who required them could procure colors in the purest state; all these things being organized in one great system, and only possibly right by their connection and in their connection.

176. Do you approve of the encouragement which of late years has been given to fresco painting, and do you look forward to much extension of that branch of art in England?—I found when I was examining the term "fresco painting," that it was a wide one, that none of us seemed to know quite the limitation or extent of it; and after giving a good deal more time to the question I am still less able to answer distinctly on an understanding of the term "fresco painting:" but using the term "decorative painting, applicable to walls in permanent materials," I think it essential that every great school should include as one of its main objects the teaching of wall painting in permanent materials, and on a large scale.

You think it should form a branch of the system of teaching in the Academy?—I think it should form a branch of the teaching in the Academy, possibly the principal branch.[Pg 58]

Does it so far as you know form a separate branch of teaching in any of the foreign academies?—I do not know.

177. Looking generally, and of course without mentioning any names, have you in the course of the last few years been generally satisfied with the selection of artists into the Royal Academy?—No, certainly not.

Do you think that some artists of merit have been excluded, or that artists whom you think not deserving of that honor have been elected?—More; that artists not deserving of the honor have been elected. I think it does no harm to any promising artist to be left out of the Academy, but it does harm to the public sometimes that an unpromising artist should be let into it.

You think there have been cases within the last few years in which persons, in your judgment, not entitled to that distinction have nevertheless been elected?—Certainly.

178. With respect to the selection of pictures for the exhibition, are you satisfied in general with that selection, or have you in particular instances seen ground to think that it has been injudiciously exercised?—In some cases it has been injudiciously exercised, but it is a matter of small importance; it causes heartburning probably, but little more. If a rejected picture is good, the public will see it some day or other, and find out that it is a good picture. I care little about what pictures are let in or not, but I do care about seeing the pictures that are let in. The main point, which everyone would desire to see determined, is how the pictures that are admitted are to be best seen. No picture deserving of being seen at all should be so hung as to give you any pain or fatigue in seeing it. If you let a picture into the room at all, it should not be hung so high as that either the feelings of the artist or the neck of the public should be hurt.

179. Viscount Hardinge. I gather from your evidence that you would wish to see the Royal Academy a sort of central university to which young men from other institutions should be sent. Assuming that there were difficulties in the way of carrying that out, do you think, under the present system, you[Pg 59] could exact from young men who are candidates for admission into the Royal Academy, some educational test?—Certainly; I think much depends upon that. If the system of education which I have been endeavoring to point out were adopted, you would have in every one of those professions very practiced workmen. You could not have any of this education carried out, unless you had thoroughly practiced workmen; and you should fix your pass as you fix your university pass, and you should pass a man in architecture, sculpture, and painting, because he knows his business, and knows as much of any other science as is necessary for his profession. You require a piece of work from him, and you examine him, and then you pass him,—call him whatever you like;—but you say to the public, Here is a workman in this branch who will do your work well.

You do not think there would in such a system be any risk of excluding men who might hereafter be great men who under such a system might not be able to pass?—There are risks in every system, but I think every man worth anything would pass. A great many who would be good for nothing would pass, but your really great man would assuredly pass.

180. Has it ever struck you that it would be advantageous to art if there were at the universities professors of art who might give lectures and give instruction to young men who might desire to avail themselves of it, as you have lectures on botany and geology?—Yes, assuredly. The want of interest on the part of the upper classes in art has been very much at the bottom of the abuses which have crept into all systems of education connected with it. If the upper classes could only be interested in it by being led into it when young, a great improvement might be looked for; therefore I feel the expediency of such an addition to the education of our universities.

181. Is not that want of refinement which may be observed in many of the pictures from time to time exhibited in the Royal Academy to be attributed in a great measure to the want of education amongst artists?—It is to be attributed to[Pg 60] that, and to the necessity which artists are under of addressing a low class of spectators: an artist to live must catch the public eye. Our upper classes supply a very small amount of patronage to artists at present, their main patronage being from the manufacturing districts and from the public interested in engravings;—an exceedingly wide sphere, but a low sphere,—and you catch the eye of that class much more by pictures having reference to their amusements than by any noble subject better treated, and the better treated it was the less it would interest that class.

Is it not often the case that pictures exhibiting such a want of refinement, at the same time fetch large prices amongst what I may call the mercantile patrons of art?—Certainly; and, the larger the price, the more harm done of course to the school, for that is a form of education you cannot resist. Plato said long ago, when you have your demagogue against you no human form of education can resist that.

182. Sir E. Head. What is your opinion of the present mode of teaching in the life school and the painting school, namely, by visitors constantly changing?—I should think it mischievous. The unfortunate youths, I should imagine, would just get what they could pick up; it would be throwing them crumbs very much as you throw bones to the animals in the Zoological Gardens.

Do you conceive that anything which can be properly called a school, is likely to be formed where the teaching is conducted in that way?—Assuredly not.

183. You stated that in the event of the introduction of lay members into the Academy, you would not think it desirable that they should take part in the selection or hanging of pictures for exhibition. Is not there a great distinction between the selection of the pictures and the hanging of the pictures, and might not they take part in the one without taking part in the other?—I should think hardly. My notion of hanging a picture is to put it low enough to be seen. If small it should be placed near the eye. Anybody can hang a picture, but the question should be, is there good painting enough in[Pg 61] this picture to make it acceptable to the public, or to make it just to the artist to show it? And none but artists can quite judge of the workmanship which should entitle it to enter the Academy.

Do you think it depends solely upon the workmanship?—Not by any means solely, but I think that is the first point that should be looked to. An ill-worked picture ought not to be admitted; let it be exhibited elsewhere if you will, but your Academy has no business to let bad work pass. If a man cannot carve or paint, though his work may be well conceived, do not let his work pass. Unless you require good work in your Academy exhibition, you can form no school.

Mr. Reeve. Applying the rule you have just laid down, would the effect be to exclude a considerable proportion of the works now exhibited in the Academy?—Yes; more of the Academicians' than of others.

Sir E. Head. Selection now being made by technical artists?—No.


Lord Elcho. Do you think that none but professional artists are capable of judging of the actual merit or demerit of a painting?—Non-professional persons may offer a very strong opinion upon the subject, which may happen to be right,—or which may be wrong.

Your opinion is that the main thing with respect to the exhibition is, that the pictures should be seen; that they should not be hung too high or too low. That question has been already raised before the Commission, and it has been suggested that two feet from the ground should be the minimum height for the base of the picture, and some witnesses have said that six feet and others eight feet should be the maximum height for the base of the picture; what limit would you fix?—I should say that the horizontal line in the perspective of the picture ought always to be opposite the spectator's eye, no matter what the height may be from the floor. If the horizontal line is so placed that it must be above the spectator's eye, in consequence of the size of the picture, it cannot be[Pg 62] helped, but I would always get the horizontal line opposite the eye if possible.

184. Chairman. Should you concur in the suggestion which a witness has made before this Commission, that it would be an improvement, if the space admitted of it, that works of sculpture should be intermixed in the same apartment with works of painting, instead of being kept as at present in separate apartments?—I should think it would be very delightful to have some works of sculpture mixed with works of painting; that it would make the exhibition more pleasing, and that the eye would be rested sometimes by turning from the colors to the marble, and would see the colors of the paintings better in return. Sir Joshua Reynolds mentions the power which some of the Flemish pictures seemed to derive, in his opinion, by looking at them after having consulted his note-book. Statuary placed among the pictures would have the same effect. I would not have the sculpture that was sent in for the exhibition of the year exhibited with the paintings, but I would have works of sculpture placed permanently in the painting rooms.

Lord Elcho. Supposing there were no works of sculpture available for being placed in the rooms permanently, and supposing among the works sent in for annual exhibition there were works of a character fit to be placed among the paintings, should you see any objection to their being so placed?—That would cause an immense amount of useless trouble, and perpetual quarrels among the sculptors, as to whose works were entitled to be placed in the painting rooms or not.

Are you aware that in the exhibition in Paris in 1855, that was the system adopted?—No. If the French adopted it, it was likely to be useful, and doubtless they would carry it out very cleverly; but we have not the knack of putting the right things in the right places by any means.

Did you see our own International Exhibition last year?—No.

Are you aware that a similar system was resorted to in the exhibition of pictures there?—I should think in our exhi[Pg 63]bitions we must put anything where it would go, in the sort of way that we manage them.

185. At the present moment there are on the books of the Academy five honorary members, who hold certain titular offices, Earl Stanhope being antiquary to the Academy, Mr. Grote being professor of ancient history, Dean Milman being professor of ancient literature, the Bishop of Oxford being chaplain, and Sir Henry Holland being secretary for foreign correspondence; these professors never deliver any lectures and have no voice whatever in the management, but have mere honorary titular distinctions; should you think it desirable that gentlemen of their position and character should have a voice in the management of the affairs of the Academy?—It would be much more desirable that they should give lectures upon the subjects with which they are acquainted. I should think Earl Stanhope and all the gentlemen you have mentioned, would be much happier in feeling that they were of use in their positions; and that if you gave them something to do they would very nobly do it. If you give them nothing to do I think they ought not to remain in the institution.

186. It has been suggested that the Academy now consisting of forty-two might be increased advantageously to fifty professional members, architecture, sculpture, and painting being fairly represented, and that in addition to those fifty there might be elected or nominated somehow or other ten non-professional persons, that is, men taking an interest in art, who had a certain position and standing in the country, and who might take an active part in the management of the affairs of the institution, so tending to bring the Royal Academy and the public together?—I do not know enough of society to be able to form an opinion upon the subject.

Irrespective of society, as a question of art, you know enough of non-professional persons interested in art to judge as to whether the infusion of such an element into the Academy might be of advantage to the Academy and to art generally?—I think if you educate our upper classes to take more interest in art, which implies, of course, to know some[Pg 64]thing about it, they might be most efficient members of the Academy; but if you leave them, as you leave them now, to the education which they get at Oxford and Cambridge, and give them the sort of scorn which all the teaching there tends to give, for art and artists, the less they have to do with an academy of art the better.

Assuming that, at present, you have not a very great number of those persons in the country, do you not think that the mere fact of the adoption of such a principle in any reform in the constitution of the Academy might have the effect of turning attention more to this matter at the Universities, and leading to the very thing which you think so desirable?—No, I should think not. It would only at present give the impression that the whole system was somewhat artificial, and that it was to remain ineffective.

Notwithstanding the neglect of this matter at the Universities, do you think, at the present moment, you could not find ten non-professional persons, of the character you would think desirable, to add to the Academy?—If I may be so impertinent, I may say that you as one of the upper classes, and I as a layman in the lower classes, are tolerably fair examples of the kind of persons who take an interest in art, and I think both of us would do a great deal of mischief if we had much to do with the Academy.

187. Assuming those two persons to be appointed lay members, will you state in what way you think they would do mischief in the councils of the Academy?—We should be disturbing elements, whereas what I should try to secure, if I had anything to do with its arrangements, would be entire tranquillity, a regular system of tuition in which there should be little excitement, and little operation of popular, aristocratic, or any other disturbing influence; none of criticism, and therefore none of tiresome people like myself;—none of money patronage, or even of aristocratic patronage. The whole aim of the teachers should be to produce work which could be demonstrably shown to be good and useful, and worthy of being bought, or used in any way; and after that the[Pg 65] whole question of patronage and interest should be settled. The school should teach its art-grammar thoroughly in everything, and in every material, and should teach it carefully; and that could be done if a perfect system were adopted, and above all, if a few thoroughly good examples were put before the students. That is a point which I think of very great importance. I think it very desirable that grants should be made by the Government to obtain for the pupils of the Academy beautiful examples of every kind, the very loveliest and best; not too many; and that their minds should not be confused by having placed before them examples of all schools and times; they are confused enough by what they see in the shops, and in the annual exhibitions. Let engraving be taught by Marc Antonio and Albert Dürer,—painting by Giorgione, Paul Veronese, Titian and Velasquez,—and sculpture by good Greek and selected Roman examples, and let there be no question of other schools or their merits. Let those things be shown as good and right, and let the student be trained in those principles:—if afterwards he strikes out an original path, let him; but do not let him torment himself and other people with his originalities, till he knows what is right, so far as is known at present.

You are opposed, on the whole, to the introduction of the lay element?—Yes; but I am not opposed strongly or distinctly to it, because I have not knowledge enough of society to know how it would work.

Your not being in favor of it results from your belief that the lay element that would be useful to the Academy does not at present exist in this country; but you think, if it did exist, and if it could be made to grow out of our schools and universities by art teaching, it might, with advantage to the Academy and to artists, be introduced into the Academy?—Yes.

188. Supposing the class of Royal Academicians to be retained, and that you had fifty Royal Academicians, should you think it desirable that their works should be exhibited by themselves, so that the public might see together the works of[Pg 66] those considered to be the first artists of this country?—Certainly, I should like all pictures to be well seen, but I should like one department of the exhibition to be given to the Associates or Graduates. I use that term because I suppose those Associates to have a degree given them for a certain amount of excellence, and any person who had attained that degree should be allowed to send in so many pictures. Then the pictures sent in by persons who had attained the higher honor of Royal Academician should be separately exhibited.

That would act as a stimulus to them to keep up their position and show themselves worthy of the honor?—Yes. I do not think they ought to be mixed at all as they are now.

189. What is your opinion with reference to the present system of traveling studentships?—I think it might be made very useful indeed.

On the one hand it has been suggested that there should be, as is the system adopted by the French Academy, a permanent professor at Rome to look after the students; on the other hand it has been said that it is not desirable, if you have those traveling studentships, that the students should go to Rome, that it is better for them to travel, and to go to Venice or Lombardy, and to have no fixed school in connection with the Academy at Rome. To which of those two systems do you give the preference?—I should prefer the latter; if a man goes to travel, he ought to travel, and not be plagued with schools.

It has been suggested that fellowships might be given to rising artists, pecuniary assistance being attached to those fellowships, the artist being required annually to send in some specimen of his work to show what he was doing, but it being left optional with him to go abroad or to work at home; should you think that would be desirable, or as has been suggested in a letter by Mr. Armitage, supposing those fellowships to be established for four years, that two of those years should be spent abroad and two at home?—Without entering into any detail as to whether two years should be spent abroad and two years at home, I feel very strongly that one of the most[Pg 67] dangerous and retarding influences you have operating upon art is the enormous power of money, and the chances of entirely winning or entirely losing, that is, of making your fortune in a year by a large taking picture, or else starving for ten years by very good small ones. The whole life of an artist is a lottery, and a very wild lottery, and the best artist is liable to be warped away from what he knows is right by the chance of at once making a vast fortune by catching the public eye, the public eye being only to be caught by bright colors and certain conditions of art not always desirable. If, therefore, connected with the Academy schools there could be the means of giving a fixed amount of income to certain men, who would as a consideration for that income furnish a certain number of works that might be agreed upon, or undertake any national work that might be agreed upon, that I believe would be the healthiest way in which a good painter could be paid. To give him his bread and cheese, and so much a day, and say, Here are such and such things we want you to do, is, I believe, the healthiest, simplest, and happiest way in which great work can be produced. But whether it is compatible with our present system I cannot say, nor whether every man would not run away as soon as he found he could get two or three thousand pounds by painting a catching picture. I think your best men would not.

You would be in favor of those fellowships?—Yes.

190. I gather that you are in favor of the encouragement of mural decoration, fresco painting, and so forth. The system that prevails abroad, in France, for instance, is for painters to employ pupils to work under them. It was in that way that Delaroche painted his hemicycle at the Académie des Beaux-Arts, employing four pupils, who worked for him, and who from his small sketch drew the full-sized picture on the walls, which was subsequently corrected by him. They then colored it up to his sketch, after which he shut himself up again, and completed it. On the other hand, if you go to the Victoria Gallery in the House of Lords, you find Mr. Maclise at work on a space of wall forty-eight feet long, paint[Pg 68]ing the Death of Nelson on the deck of the "Victory," every figure being life size, the deck of the ship and the ropes and everything being the actual size, and you see him painting with his own hand each little bit of rope and the minutest detail. Which of the two systems do you think is the soundest and most calculated to produce great and noble work?—The first is the best for the pupils, the other is the best for the public. But unquestionably not only can a great work be executed as Mr. Maclise is executing his, but no really great work was executed otherwise, for in all mighty work, whether in fresco or oil, every touch and hue of color to the last corner has been put on lovingly by the painter's own hand, not leaving to a pupil to paint so much as a pebble under a horse's foot.

191. Do you believe that most of the works of the great masters in Italy were so executed?—No; because the pupils were nearly as mighty as the masters. Great men took such an interest in their work, and they were so modest and simple that they were repeatedly sacrificing themselves to the interests of their religion or of the society they were working for; and when a thing was to be done in a certain time it could only be done by bringing in aid; but whenever precious work was to be done, then the great man said, "Lock me up here by myself, give me a little wine and cheese, and come in a month, and I will show you what I have done."

Do you think it desirable that the pupils should be so trained as to be capable of assisting great masters in such works?—Assuredly.

Note.—The following analysis of the above evidence was given in the Index to the Report (pp. 139, 140).—Ed.

168-69. The Academy not in all points satisfactory. Would wish to see the Academicians not self-elected.—But by a constituency consisting both of artists and the public.—Public influence to be the same in painting as in music.

170. As to the Associates: is in favor of some period of probation.—Their class to be unlimited, with a very limited number of Academicians.

171. Has formed no opinion on the question of introducing lay[Pg 69]men into the Academy; in matters of revenue they might be joined with artists, but not in the selection and hanging of pictures: opposed on the whole to their introduction, considering the present state of art education.—As he would like to see the Academy constituted, thinks the president ought to be an artist.

172. General effect of the Academy's teaching upon the art of the country merely nugatory.—Would have a much more comprehensive system of teaching.

173. The Academy education to correspond wholly to the University education.

174. Not easy but very necessary for the Academy to adopt an authoritative system of teaching.

175. His idea of what the Academy teaching should be; would have a school of chemistry.

176. The teaching of wall-painting in permanent materials should be a branch, possibly the principal branch.

177. Not satisfied with the selection of artists to be members of the Academy.

178. In some cases the selection of pictures has been injudicious, but this a matter of small importance; the main point is how the pictures that are admitted are to be best seen.

179. In favor of an educational test for candidates for admission into the Academy.

180. And of professors of art at the Universities.

181. Causes of the want of refinement observable in many modern pictures; the large prices they fetch harmful.

182. Teaching by visitors constantly changing mischievous.

183. How a picture should be hung.—An ill-worked picture ought not to be admitted by the Academy.—Bearing of this last opinion upon the present Exhibition.

184. Would have works of sculpture placed permanently in the painting-room, but not any of those sent in for the Exhibition of the year.

185. In favor of the present honorary members being made of use in their positions.

186. Introduction of laymen into the Academy deprecated under present circumstances, and why.—Present feeling towards art and artists at the Universities.

187. Desirable that Government grants should be made to obtain for the pupils of the Academy beautiful examples of every kind of art.

188. In favor of separate exhibitions of the works of Associates (or Graduates) and Academicians.

189. In favor of art-fellowships, but not of a fixed school in connection with the Academy at Rome.[Pg 70]

190. Comparison of the French, and English systems (as regards assistance from pupils) in the production of great public paintings.

191. How the works of the Italian masters were executed.—Desirable that pupils should be trained to assist great masters in public works.

[Pg 71]


[3] Reprinted from "The Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the Present Position of the Royal Academy in Relation to the Fine Arts." London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1863 (pp. 546-55. Questions 5079-5142). The Commission consisted of Earl Stanhope (Chairman), Viscount Hardinge, Lord Elcho, Sir E. W. Head, Mr. William Stirling, Mr. H. D. Seymour, and Mr. Henry Reeve, all of whom, except Mr. Seymour, were present at the above sitting.—Ed.



March 20th, 1880.

My dear ——,

192. If I put off writing the paper you asked me for, till I can do it conveniently, it may hang fire till this time next year. If you will accept a note on the subject now and then, keeping them till there are enough to be worth printing, all practical ends may be enough answered, and much more quickly.

The first function of a Museum—(for a little while I shall speak of Art and Natural History as alike cared for in an ideal one)—is to give example of perfect order and perfect elegance, in the true sense of that test word, to the disorderly and rude populace. Everything in its own place, everything looking its best because it is there, nothing crowded, nothing unnecessary, nothing puzzling. Therefore, after a room has[Pg 72] been once arranged, there must be no change in it. For new possessions there must be new rooms, and after twenty years' absence—coming back to the room in which one learned one's bird or beast alphabet, we should be able to show our children the old bird on the old perch in the accustomed corner. But—first of all, let the room be beautifully complete, i.e. complete enough for its proper business.

193. In the British Museum, at the top of the stairs, we encounter in a terrific alliance a giraffe, a hippopotamus, and a basking shark. The public—young and old—pass with a start and a stare, and remain as wise as they were before about all the three creatures. The day before yesterday I was standing by the big fish—a father came up to it with his little boy. "That's a shark," says he; "it turns on its side when it wants to eat you," and so went on—literally as wise as he was before; for he had read in a book that sharks turn on their side to bite, and he never looked at the ticket, which told him this particular shark only ate small fish. Now he never looked at the ticket, because he didn't expect to find anything on it except that this was the Sharkogobalus Smith-Jonesianius. But if, round the walls of the room, there had been all the well-known kinds of shark, going down, in graduated[Pg 73] sizes, from that basking one to our waggling dog-fish, and if every one of these had had a plain English ticket, with ten words of common sense on it, saying where and how the beast lived, and a number (unchangeable) referring to a properly arranged manual of the shark tribe (sold by the Museum publisher, who ought to have his little shop close by the porter's lodge), both father and son must have been much below the level of average English man and boy in mother wit if they did not go out of the room by the door in front of them very distinctly, and—to themselves—amazingly, wiser than they had come in by the door behind them.

194. If I venture to give instances of fault from the British Museum, it is because, on the whole, it is the best-ordered and pleasantest institution in all England, and the grandest concentration of the means of human knowledge in the world. And I am heartily sorry for the break-up of it, and augur no good from any changes of arrangement likely to take place in concurrence with Kensington, where, the same day that I had been meditating by the old shark, I lost myself in a Cretan labyrinth of military ironmongery, advertisements of spring blinds, model fish-farming, and plaster bathing nymphs with a year's smut on all the noses of them; and had to put myself in charge of a policeman to get out again. Ever affectionately yours,

J. Ruskin.

March 29th, 1880.

My dear ——,

195. The only chance of my getting these letters themselves into fairly consistent and Museum-like order is by writing a word or two always the first thing in the morning till I get them done; so, I shall at least remember what I was talking of the day before; but for the rest—I must speak of one thing or another as it may come into my head, for there are too many to classify without pedantry and loss of time.

My requirement of "elegance" in that last letter contemplates chiefly architecture and fittings. These should not only be perfect in stateliness, durability, and comfort, but[Pg 74] beautiful to the utmost point consistent with due subordination to the objects displayed. To enter a room in the Louvre is an education in itself; but two steps on the filthy floor and under the iron forks, half scaffold, half gallows, of the big Norwood glass bazaar, debase mind and eye at once below possibility of looking at anything with profit all the day afterwards. I have just heard that a French picture dealer is to have charge of the picture gallery there, and that the whole interior is to become virtually a large café, when—it is hoped—the glass monster may at last "pay." Concerning which beautiful consummation of Mr. Dickens's "Fairyland" (see my pamphlet[5] on the opening of the so-called "palace"), be it here at once noted, that all idea of any "payment," in that sense, must be utterly and scornfully abjured on the foundation stone of every National or Civic Museum. There must be neither companies to fill their own pockets out of it, nor trustees who can cramp the management, or interfere with the officering, or shorten the supplies of it. Put one man of reputation and sense at its head; give him what staff he asks for, and a fixed annual sum for expenditure—specific accounts to be printed annually for all the world's seeing—and let him alone. The original expenditure for building and fitting must be magnificent, and the current expenditure for cleaning and refitting magnanimous; but a certain proportion of this current cost should be covered by small entrance fees, exacted, not for any miserly helping out of the floor-sweepers' salaries, but for the sake of the visitors themselves, that the rooms may not be incumbered by the idle, or disgraced by the disreputable. You must not make your Museum a refuge against either rain or ennui, nor let into perfectly well-furnished, and even, in the true sense, palatial, rooms, the utterly squalid and ill-bred portion of the people. There should, indeed, be refuges for the poor from rain and cold, and decent rooms accessible to indecent persons, if they like to go there; but neither of these charities should be part of the function of a Civic Museum.[Pg 75]

196. Make the entrance fee a silver penny (a silver groat, typically representing the father, mother, eldest son, and eldest daughter, passing always the total number of any one family), and every person admitted, however young, being requested to sign their name, or make their mark.

That the entrance money should be always of silver is one of the beginnings of education in the place—one of the conditions of its "elegance" on the very threshold.

And the institution of silver for bronze in the lower coinage is a part of the system of National education which I have been teaching these last ten years—a very much deeper and wider one than any that can be given in museums—and without which all museums will ultimately be vain.—Ever affectionately yours,

J. R.

P.S.—There should be a well-served coffee-room attached to the building; but this part of the establishment without any luxury in furniture or decoration, and without any cooking apparatus for carnivora.

Easter Monday, 1880.

Dear ——,

197. The day is auspicious for the beginning of reflection on the right manner of manifestation of all divine things to those who desire to see them. For every house of the Muses, where, indeed, they live, is an Interpreter's by the wayside, or rather, a place of oracle and interpretation in one. And the right function of every museum, to simple persons, is the manifestation to them of what is lovely in the life of Nature, and heroic in the life of Men.

There are already, you see, some quaint restrictions in that last sentence, whereat sundry of our friends will start, and others stop. I must stop also, myself, therefore, for a minute or two, to insist on them.

198. A Museum, primarily, is to be for simple persons. Children, that is to say, and peasants. For your student, your antiquary, or your scientific gentleman, there must be separate accommodation, or they must be sent elsewhere.[Pg 76] The Town Museum is to be for the Town's People, the Village Museum for the Villagers. Keep that first principle clear to start with. If you want to found an academy of painting in Littleborough, or of literature in Squattlesea Mere, you must get your advice from somebody else, not me.

199. Secondly. The museum is to manifest to these simple persons the beauty and life of all things and creatures in their perfectness. Not their modes of corruption, disease, or death. Not even, always, their genesis, in the more or less blundering beginnings of it; not even their modes of nourishment, if destructive; you must not stuff a blackbird pulling up a worm, nor exhibit in a glass case a crocodile crunching a baby.

Neither must you ever show bones or guts, or any other charnel-house stuff. Teach your children to know the lark's note from the nightingale's; the length of their larynxes is their own business, and God's.

I cannot enough insist upon this point, nor too solemnly. If you wish your children to be surgeons, send them to Surgeons' College; if jugglers or necromancers, to Messrs. Maskelyne and Cooke; and if butchers, to the shambles: but if you want them to lead the calm life of country gentlemen and gentlewomen, manservants and maidservants, let them seek none of Death's secrets till they die. Ever faithfully and affectionately yours,

J. R.

Easter Tuesday, 1880.

Dear ——,

200. I must enter to-day somewhat further on the practical, no less than emotional, reason for the refusal of anatomical illustrations to the general public.

It is difficult enough to get one clear idea into anybody, of any single thing. But next to impossible to get two clear ideas into them, of the same thing. We have had lions' heads for door-knockers these hundred and fifty years, without ever learning so much as what a lion's head is like. But with good modern stuffing and fetching, I can manage now to[Pg 77] make a child really understand something about the beast's look, and his mane, and his sullen eyes and brindled lips. But if I'm bothered at the same time with a big bony box, that has neither mane, lips, nor eyes, and have to explain to the poor wretch of a parish schoolboy how somehow this fits on to that, I will be bound that, at a year's end, draw one as big as the other, and he won't know a lion's head from a tiger's—nor a lion's skull from a rabbit's. Nor is it the parish boy only who suffers. The scientific people themselves miss half their points from the habit of hacking at things, instead of looking at them. When I gave my lecture on the Swallow[6] at Oxford, I challenged every anatomist there to tell me the use of his tail (I believe half of them didn't know he had one). Not a soul of them could tell me, which I knew beforehand; but I did not know, till I had looked well through their books, how they were quarreling about his wings! Actually at this moment (Easter Tuesday, 1880), I don't believe you can find in any scientific book in Europe a true account of the way a bird flies—or how a snake serpentines. My Swallow lecture was the first bit of clear statement on the one point, and when I get my Snake lecture published, you will have the first extant bit of clear statement on the other; and that is simply because the anatomists can't, for their life, look at a thing till they have skinned it.

201. And matters get worse and worse every hour. Yesterday, after writing the first leaf of this note, I went into the British Museum, and found a nasty skeleton of a lizard, with its under jaw dropped off, on the top of a table of butterflies—temporarily of course—but then everything has been temporary or temporizing at the British Museum for the last half-century; making it always a mere waste and weariness to the general public, because, forsooth, it had always to be kept up to the last meeting of the Zoological Society, and last edition of the Times. As if there had not been beasts enough before the Ark to tell our children the manners of, on a Sunday afternoon![Pg 78]

202. I had gone into the Museum that day to see the exact form of a duck's wing, the examination of a lively young drake's here at Coniston having closed in his giving me such a cut on the wrist with it, that I could scarcely write all the morning afterwards. Now in the whole bird gallery there are only two ducks' wings expanded, and those in different positions. Fancy the difference to the mob, and me, if the shells and monkey skeletons were taken away from the mid-gallery, and instead, three gradated series of birds put down the length of it (or half the length—or a quarter would do it—with judgment), showing the transition, in length of beak, from bunting to woodcock—in length of leg, from swift to stilted plover—and in length of wing, from auk to frigate-bird; the wings, all opened, in one specimen of each bird to their full sweep, and in another, shown at the limit of the down back stroke. For what on earth—or in air—is the use to me of seeing their boiled sternums and scalped sinciputs, when I'm never shown either how they bear their breasts—or where they carry their heads?

Enough of natural history, you will say! I will come to art in my next letter—finishing the ugly subject of this one with a single sentence from section ix. of the "Tale of a Tub," commending the context of it to my friends of the Royal Academy.

"Last week, I saw a woman flayed, and you will hardly believe how much it altered her person for the worse."—Ever, my dear ——, affectionately yours,

J. R.

7th April, 1880.

My Dear ——,

203. I suppose that proper respect for the great first principles of the British Constitution, that every man should do as he pleases, think what he likes, and see everything that can be seen for money, will make most of your readers recoil from my first principle of Museum arrangement,—that nothing should be let inside the doors that isn't good of its sort,—as from an attempt to restore the Papacy, revive the Inquisition,[Pg 79] and away with everybody to the lowest dungeon of the castle moat. They must at their pleasure charge me with these sinister views; they will find that there is no dexter view to be had of the business, which does not consist primarily in knowing Bad from Good, and Right from Wrong. Nor, if they will condescend to begin simply enough, and at the bottom of the said business, and let the cobbler judge of the crepida, and the potter of the pot, will they find it so supremely difficult to establish authorities that shall be trustworthy, and judgments that shall be sure.

204. Suppose, for instance, at Leicester, whence came first to us the inquiry on such points, one began by setting apart a Hunter's Room, in which a series of portraits of their Master's favorites, for the last fifty years or so, should be arranged, with certificate from each Squire of his satisfaction, to such and such a point, with the portrait of Lightfoot, or Lucifer, or Will o' the Wisp; and due notification, for perhaps a recreant and degenerate future, of the virtues and perfections at this time sought and secured in the English horse. Would not such a chamber of chivalry have, in its kind, a quite indisputable authority and historical value, not to be shaken by any future impudence or infidelity?

Or again in Staffordshire, would it not be easily answered to an honest question of what is good and not, in clay or ware, "This will work, and that will stand"? and might not a series of the mugs which have been matured with discrimination, and of the pots which have been popular in use, be so ordered as to display their qualities in a convincing and harmonious manner against all gainsayers?

205. Nor is there any mystery of taste, or marvel of skill, concerning which you may not get quite easy initiation and safe pilotage for the common people, provided you once make them clearly understand that there is indeed something to be learned, and something to be admired, in the arts, which will need their attention for a time; and cannot be explained with a word, nor seen with a wink. And provided also, and with still greater decision, you set over them masters, in each[Pg 80] branch of the arts, who know their own minds in that matter, and are not afraid to speak them, nor to say, "We know," when they know, and "We don't know," when they don't.

To which end, the said several branches must be held well apart, and dealt with one at a time. Every considerable town ought to have its exemplary collections of woodwork, iron-work, and jewelry, attached to the schools of their several trades, leaving to be illustrated in its public museum, as in an hexagonal bee's cell, the six queenly and muse-taught arts of needlework, writing, pottery, sculpture, architecture, and painting.

206. For each of these, there should be a separate Tribune or Chamber of absolute tribunal, which need not be large—that, so called, of Florence, not the size of a railway waiting-room, has actually for the last century determined the taste of the European public in two arts!—in which the absolute best in each art, so far as attainable by the communal pocket, should be authoritatively exhibited, with simple statement that it is good, and reason why it is good, and notification in what particulars it is unsurpassable, together with some not too complex illustrations of the steps by which it has attained to that perfection, where these can be traced far back in history.

207. These six Tribunes, or Temples, of Fame, being first set with their fixed criteria, there should follow a series of historical galleries, showing the rise and fall (if fallen) of the arts in their beautiful associations, as practiced in the great cities and by the great nations of the world. The history of Egypt, of Persia, of Greece, of Italy, of France, and of England, should be given in their arts,—dynasty by dynasty and age by age; and for a seventh, a Sunday Room, for the history of Christianity in its art, including the farthest range and feeblest efforts of it; reserving for this room, also, what power could be reached in delineation of the great monasteries and cathedrals which were once the glory of all Christian lands.

208. In such a scheme, every form of noble art would take[Pg 81] harmonious and instructive place, and often very little and disregarded things be found to possess unthought-of interest and hidden relative beauty; but its efficiency—and in this chiefly let it be commended to the patience of your practical readers—would depend, not on its extent, but on its strict and precise limitation. The methods of which, if you care to have my notions of them, I might perhaps enter into, next month, with some illustrative detail.—Ever most truly yours,

J. R.

10th June, 1880.[7]

My Dear ——,

209. I can't give you any talk on detail, yet; but, not to drop a stitch in my story, I want to say why I've attached so much importance to needlework, and put it in the opening court of the six. You see they are progressive, so that I don't quite put needlework on a level with painting. But a nation that would learn to "touch" must primarily know how to "stitch." I am always busy, for a good part of the day, in my wood, and wear out my leathern gloves fast, after once I can wear them at all: but that's the precise difficulty of the matter. I get them from the shop looking as stout and trim as you please, and half an hour after I've got to work they split up the fingers and thumbs like ripe horse-chestnut shells, and I find myself with five dangling rags round my wrist, and a rotten white thread draggling after me through the wood, or tickling my nose, as if Ariadne and Arachne had lost their wits together. I go home, invoking the universe against sewing-machines; and beg the charity of a sound stitch or two from any of the maids who know their woman's art; and thenceforward the life of the glove proper begins. Wow, it is not possible for any people that put up with this sort of thing, to learn to paint, or do anything else with their fingers decently:—only, for the most part they don't think their museums are meant to show them how to do anything decently, but rather how to be idle, indecently. Which ex[Pg 82]tremely popular and extremely erroneous persuasion, if you please, we must get out of our way before going further.

210. I owe some apology, by the way, to Mr. Frith, for the way I spoke of his picture[8] in my letter to the Leicester committee, not intended for publication, though I never write what I would not allow to be published, and was glad that they asked leave to print it. It was not I who instanced the picture, it had been named in the meeting of the committee as the kind of thing that people best like, and I was obliged to say why people best liked it:—namely, not for the painting, which is good, and worthy their liking, but for the sight of the racecourse and its humors. And the reason that such a picture ought not to be in a museum, is precisely because in a museum people ought not to fancy themselves on a racecourse. If they want to see races, let them go to races; and if rogues, to Bridewells. They come to museums to see something different from rogues and races.

211. But, to put the matter at once more broadly, and more accurately, be it remembered, for sum of all, that a museum is not a theater. Both are means of noble education—but you must not mix up the two. Dramatic interest is one thing; aesthetic charm another; a pantomime must not depend on its fine color, nor a picture on its fine pantomime.

Take a special instance. It is long since I have been so pleased in the Royal Academy as I was by Mr. Britton Rivière's "Sympathy." The dog in uncaricatured doggedness, divine as Anubis, or the Dog-star; the child entirely childish and lovely, the carpet might have been laid by Veronese. A most precious picture in itself, yet not one for a museum. Everybody would think only of the story in it; everybody be wondering what the little girl had done, and how she would be forgiven, and if she wasn't, how soon she would stop crying, and give the doggie a kiss, and comfort his heart. All which they might study at home among their own children and dogs just as well; and should not come to the museum to plague the real students there, since there is not anything of[Pg 83] especial notableness or unrivaled quality in the actual painting.

212. On the other hand, one of the four pictures I chose for permanent teaching in Fors was one of a child and a dog. The child is doing nothing; neither is the dog. But the dog is absolutely and beyond comparison the best painted dog in the world—ancient or modern—on this side of it, or at the Antipodes, (so far as I've seen the contents of said world). And the child is painted so that child cannot be better done. That is a picture for a museum.

Not that dramatic, still less didactic, intention should disqualify a work of art for museum purposes. But—broadly—dramatic and didactic art should be universally national, the luster of our streets, the treasure of our palaces, the pleasure of our homes. Much art that is weak, transitory, and rude may thus become helpful to us. But the museum is only for what is eternally right, and well done, according to divine law and human skill. The least things are to be there—and the greatest—but all good with the goodness that makes a child cheerful and an old man calm; the simple should go there to learn, and the wise to remember.

213. And now to return to what I meant to be the subject of this letter—the arrangement of our first ideal room in such a museum. As I think of it, I would fain expand the single room, first asked for, into one like Prince Houssain's,—no, Prince Houssain had the flying tapestry, and I forget which prince had the elastic palace. But, indeed, it must be a lordly chamber which shall be large enough to exhibit the true nature of thread and needle—omened in "Thread-needle Street!"

The structure, first of wool and cotton, of fur, and hair, and down, of hemp, flax, and silk:—microscope permissible if any cause can be shown why wool is soft, and fur fine, and cotton downy, and down downier; and how a flax fiber differs from a dandelion stalk, and how the substance of a mulberry leaf can become velvet for Queen Victoria's crown, and clothing of purple for the housewife of Solomon.[Pg 84]

Then the phase of its dyeing. What azures, and emeralds, and Tyrians scarlets can be got into fibers of thread.

214. Then the phase of its spinning. The mystery of that divine spiral, from finest to firmest, which renders lace possible at Valenciennes—anchorage possible, after Trafalgar—if Hardy had but done as he was bid.

Then the mystery of weaving. The eternal harmony of warp and woof, of all manner of knotting, knitting, and reticulation, the art which makes garment possible, woven from the top throughout, draughts of fishes possible, miraculous enough in any pilchard or herring shoal, gathered into companionable catchableness;—which makes, in fine, so many Nations possible, and Saxon and Norman beyond the rest.

215. And finally, the accomplished phase of needlework, the Acu Tetigisti of all time, which does, indeed, practically exhibit what mediæval theologists vainly tried to conclude inductively—How many angels can stand on a needle-point. To show the essential nature of a stitch—drawing the separate into the inseparable, from the lowly work of duly restricted sutor, and modestly installed cobbler, to the needle-Scripture of Matilda, the Queen.

All the acicular Art of Nations, savage and civilized, from Lapland boot, letting in no snow-water—to Turkey cushion bossed with pearl—to valance of Venice gold in needlework -to the counterpanes and samplers of our own lovely ancestresses, imitable, perhaps, once more, with good help from Whiteland's College—and Girton.

216. It was but yesterday, my own womankind were in much wholesome and sweet excitement delightful to behold, in the practice of some new device of remedy for rents (to think how much of evil there is in the two senses of that four-lettered word! as in the two methods of intonation of its synonym tear!) whereby they might be daintily effaced, and with a newness which would never make them worse. The process began beautifully, even to my uninformed eyes, in the likeness of herring-bone masonry, crimson on white, but it[Pg 85] seemed to me marvelous that anything should yet be discoverable in needle process, and that of so utilitarian character.

All that is reasonable, I say of such work is to be in our first museum room. All that Athena and Penelope would approve. Nothing that vanity has invented for change, or folly loved for costliness; but all that can bring honest pride into homely life, and give security to health—and honor to beauty.

J. Ruskin. [Pg 87][Pg 86]


[4] These letters are reprinted from the Art Journal of June and August 1880, where they were prefaced with the following note by the editor in explanation of their origin:—"We are enabled, through Mr. Ruskin's kindness, to publish this month a series of letters to a friend upon the functions and formation of a model Museum or Picture Gallery. As stated in our last issue the question arose thus:—At the distribution of the prizes to the School of Art at Leicester by Mr. J. D. Linton and Mr. James Orrock, members of the Institute of Painters in Water Colors, the latter, after stating the vital importance of study from nothing but the finest models, and expressing his regret that the present price of works of Art of the first class rendered their attainment by schools almost prohibitory, offered drawings by William Hunt and David Cox as a nucleus for a collection. He urged others to follow this example, and with so much success that a few days saw a large sum and many works of Art promised in aid of a students' gallery. The attention of the Leicester Corporation was thereupon drawn to the movement, and they at once endeavored to annex the scheme to their Museum. Failing in this, they in friendly rivalry subscribed a large sum of money, and the question at once arose how best to dispose of it, each naturally thinking his own ideas the best. At this juncture Mr. Ruskin's aid was invoked by one section of the subscribers, and he replied in a letter which, owing to its having been circulated without its context, has been open to some misconstruction. As he was only asked, so he only advised, what should not be done. However, the letter bore its fruits, for both parties have had the attention of the country drawn to their proposals, and so are now more diffident how to set about carrying them into effect than they were before. Under these circumstances Mr. Ruskin has been induced to set out the mode in which he considers an Art Museum should be formed."

The letter which was "open to some misconstruction" may be found in Arrows of the Chace.

[5] Reprinted in vol. i., §§ 253-273.—Ed.

[6] In 1873. See the second lecture of Love's Meinie.—Ed..

[7] Art Journal, August, 1880.

[8] The "Derby Day." See Arrows of the Chase.



[Pg 89][Pg 88]


217. The tomb of Federigo and Nicola Cavalli is in the southernmost chapel of the five which form the east end of the church of St. Anastasia at Verona.

The traveler in Italy is so often called upon to admire what he cannot enjoy, that it must relieve the mind of any reader intending to visit Verona to be assured that this church deserves nothing but extraordinary praise; it has, however, some characters which a quarter of an hour's attention will make both interesting and instructive, and which I will note briefly before giving an account of the Cavalli chapel. This church "would, if the font were finished, probably be the most perfect specimen in existence of the style to which it belongs," says a critic quoted in "Murray's Guide." The conjecture is a bold one, for the font is not only unfinished, and for the most part a black mass of ragged brickwork, but the portion pretending to completion is in three styles; approaches excellence only in one of them; and in that the success is limited to the sides of the single entrance door. The flanks and vaults of this porch, indeed, deserve our almost unqualified admiration for their beautiful polychrome masonry. They are built of large masses of green serpentine alternating with red and white marble, and the joints are so delicate and firm that a casual spectator might pass the gate with contempt, thinking the stone was painted.

218. The capitals on these two sides, the carved central shaft, and the horizontal lintel of this door are also excellent examples of Veronese thirteenth century sculpture, and have merits of a high order, but of which the general observer can[Pg 90]not be cognizant. I do not mean, in saying this, to extol them greatly; the best art is pleasing to all, and its virtue, or a portion of its virtue, instantly manifest. But there are some good qualities in every earnest work which can only be ascertained by attention; and in saying that a casual observer cannot see the good qualities in early Veronese sculpture, I mean that it possesses none but these, nor of these many.

219. Yet it is worth a minute's delay to observe how much the sculpture has counted on attention. In later work, figures of the size of life, or multitudinous small ones, please, if they do not interest, the spectator who can spare them a momentary glance. But all the figures on this door are diminutive, and project so slightly from the stone as scarcely to catch the eye; there are none in the sides and none in the vault of the gate, and it is only by deliberate examination that we find the faith which is to be preached in the church, and the honor of its preacher, conclusively engraved on the lintel and door-post. The spiral flutings of the central shaft are uninterrupted, so as to form a slight recess for the figure of St. Dominic, with, I believe, St. Peter Martyr and St. Thomas Aquinas, one on each side with the symbols of the sun and moon. At the end of the lintel, on the left, is St. Anastasia; on the right, St. Catherine (of Siena); in the center, on the projecting capital, the Madonna; and on the lintel, the story of Christ, in the four passages of the Annunciation, Nativity, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.

220. This is the only part of the front of the church which is certainly part of the first structure in 1260. The two statues of St. Anastasia and St. Catherine are so roughly joined to the lateral capitals as to induce a suspicion that even these latter and the beautiful polychrome vault are of later work, not, however, later than 1300. The two pointed arches which divide the tympanum are assuredly subsequent, and the fresco which occupies it is a bad work of the end of the fourteenth century; and the marble frieze and foundations of the front are at least not earlier than 1426.

Of this portion of the building the foundation is noble, and[Pg 91] its color beautifully disposed, but the sculpture of the paneling is poor, and of no interest or value.

221. On entering the church, and turning immediately to the left, there will be seen on the inner side of the external wall a tomb under a boldly trefoiled canopy. It is a sarcophagus with a recumbent figure on it, which is the only work of art in the church deserving serious attention. It is the tomb of Gerard Bolderius "sui temporis physicorum principi," says his epitaph,[10] not, as far as I can discover, untruly. On the front of the sarcophagus is the semi-figure of Christ rising from the tomb, used generally at the period for the type of resurrection, between the Virgin and St. John; and two shields, bearing, one the fleur-de-lys, the other an eagle. The recumbent figure is entirely simple and right in treatment, sculptured without ostentation of skill or exaggeration of sentiment, by a true artist, who endeavors only to give the dead due honor, and his own art subordinate and modest scope.

This monument, being the best in St. Anastasia, is, by the usual spite of fortune, placed where it is quite invisible except on bright days. On the opposite side of the church, the first monument on the right, well lighted by the tall western window, should be looked at next to the physician's; for as that is the best, this is essentially the worst, piece of sculptured art in the building; a series of academy studies in marble, well executed, but without either taste or invention, and necessarily without meaning, the monument having been erected to a person whose only claim to one was his having stolen money enough to pay for it before he died. It is one of the first pieces extant of entirely mechanical art workmanship, done for money; and the perfection of its details may justify me in directing special attention to it.[Pg 92]

222. There are no other monuments, still less pictures, in the body of the church deserving notice. The general effect of the interior is impressive, owing partly to the boldness and simplicity of the pillars which sustain the roof; partly to the darkness which involves them: these Dominican churches being, in fact, little more than vast halls for preaching in, and depending little on decoration, and not at all on light. But the sublimity of shadow soon fails when it has nothing interesting to shade; and the chapel or monuments which, opposite each interval between the pillars, fill the sides of the aisles, possess no interest except in their arabesques of cinque-cento sculpture, of which far better examples may be seen elsewhere; while the differences in their ages, styles, and purposes hinder them from attaining any unity of decorative effect, and break the unity of the church almost as fatally, though not as ignobly, as the incoherent fillings of the aisles at Westminster. The Cavalli chapel itself, though well deserving the illustration which the Arundel Society has bestowed upon it, is filled with a medley of tombs and frescoes of different dates, partly superseding, none illustrating, each other, and instructive mainly as showing the unfortunate results of freedom and "private enterprise" in matters of art, as compared with the submission to the design of one ruling mind which is the glory of all the chapels in Italy where the art is entirely noble.

223. Instructive, thus, at least, even if seen hastily; much better teaching may be had even from the unharmonious work, if we give time and thought to it. The upper fresco on the north wall, representing the Baptism of Christ, has no beauty, and little merit as art; yet the manner of its demerit is interesting. St. John kneels to baptize. This variation from the received treatment, in which he stands above the Christ, is enough in itself to show that the poor Veronese painter had some intelligence of his subject; and the quaint and haggard figure, grim-featured, with its black hair rising in separate locks like a crown of thorns, is a curious intermediate type between the grotesque conception which we find[Pg 93] in earlier art (or, for instance, on the coins of Florence) and the beautiful, yet always melancholy and severe figures of St. John painted by Cima da Conegliano at Venice. With this stern figure, in raiment of camel's hair, compare the Magdalen in the frescoes at the side of the altar, who is veiled from head to foot with her own, and sustained by six angels, being the type of repentance from the passions, as St. John of resistance to them. Both symbols are, to us, to say the very least, without charm, and to very few without offense; yet consider how much nobler the temper of the people must have been who could take pleasure in art so gloomy and unadorned, than that of the populace of to-day, which must be caught with bright colors and excited by popular sentiment.

224. Both these frescoes, with the others on the north wall of the chapel, and Madonna between four saints on the south side, by the Cavalli tomb, are evidently of fourteenth century work, none of it good, but characteristic; and the last-named work (seen in the plate) is so graceful as to be quite worth some separate illustration. But the one above it is earlier, and of considerable historical interest. It was discovered with the other paintings surrounding the tomb, about the year 1838, when Persico published his work, "Verona, e la sua Provincia," in which he says (p. 13), "levatane l'antica incrostatura, tornarono a vita novella."

It would have been more serviceable to us if we could have known the date of the rough cast, than of its removal; the period of entire contempt for ancient art being a subject of much interest in the ecclesiastical history of Italy. But the tomb itself was an incrustation, having been raised with much rudeness and carelessness amidst the earlier art which recorded the first rise of the Cavalli family.

225. It will be seen by reference to the plate that the frescoes round the tomb have no symmetrical relation to it. They are all of earlier date, and by better artists. The tomb itself is roughly carved, and coarsely painted, by men who were not trying to do their best, and could not have done anything very well, even if they had tried: it is an entirely commonplace[Pg 94] and dull work, though of a good school, and has been raised against the highest fresco with a strange disregard of the merit of the work itself, and of its historical value to the family. This fresco is attributable by Persico to Giotto, but is, I believe, nothing more than an interesting example of the earnest work of his time, and has no quality on which I care to enlarge; nor is it ascertainable who the three knights are whom it commemorates, unless some evidence be found of the date of the painting, and there is, yet, none but that of its manner. But they are all three Cavallis, and I believe them to represent the three first founders of the family, Giovanni, "che fioriva intorno al 1274," his son Nicola (1297), and grandson Federigo, who was Podesta of Vicenza under the Scaligers in 1331, and by whom I suppose the fresco to have been commanded. The Cavallis came first from Germany into the service of the Visconti of Milan, as condottieri, thence passing into the service of the Scaligers. Whether I am right in this conjecture or not, we have, at all events, record in this chapel of seven knights of the family, of whom two are named on the sarcophagus, of which the inscription (on the projecting ledge under the recumbent figure) is:—

S. (Sepulchrum) nobilis et egregii viri Federici et egregii et strenui viri domini Nicolai de Cavalis suorunique heredum, qui spiritum redidit astris Ano Dni MCCCLXXXX.

Of which, I think, the force may be best given thus in modern terms:—

"The tomb of the noble and distinguished Herr Frederic, and of the distinguished and energetic Herr the Lord Nicholas of the house of the Horse, and of their heirs, who gave back his soul to the stars in the year of our Lord 1390."

226. This Frederic and Nicolas Cavalli were the brothers of the Jacopo Cavalli who is buried at Venice, and who, by a singular fatality, was enrolled among the Venetian nobles of the senate in the year in which his brother died at Verona (for I assume the "spiritum redidit" to be said of the first-named brother). Jacopo married Constance della Scala, of Verona,[Pg 95] and had five sons, of whom one, Giorgio, Conte di Schio, plotted, after the fall of the Scaligers, for their restoration to power in Verona, and was exiled, by decree of the Council of Ten, to Candia, where he died. From another son, Conrad, are descended the Cavallis of Venice, whose palace has been the principal material from which recent searchers for the picturesque in Venice compose pictures of the Grand Canal. It forms the square mass of architecture on the left, in the continually repeated view of the Church of the Salute seen from the steps of the Academy.

The genealogy of the family, from the thirteenth century, when they first appeared in Italy, to the founder of this Venetian lordship, had better be set before the reader in one view.[11]

Condottiere in service of the Visconti, 1274.
Condottiere, 1297.
Podesta of Vicenza under the Scaligers, 1331.
Condottiere, 1350.
| | |
Federigo, Jacopo, Nicola,
| | | | |
Federigo, Giovanni, Conrado, Federigo, Giorgio.

Founds Venetian family.

227. Now, as above stated, I believe that the fresco of the three knights was commanded by the Podesta of Vicenza, on his receiving that authority from the Scaligers in 1331, and that it represents Giovanni, Nicola, and himself; while the[Pg 96] tomb of Federigo and Nicola would be ordered by the Venetian Cavallis, and completed without much care for the record of the rise of the family at Verona.

Whether my identification of the figures seen kneeling in the fresco be correct or not, the representation of these three Cavalli knights to the Madonna, each interceded for by his patron saint, will be found to receive a peculiar significance if the reader care to review the circumstances influencing the relation of the German chivalry to the power of the Church in the very year when Giovanni Cavalli entered the ranks of the Visconti.

228. For the three preceding centuries, Milan, the oldest archbishopric of Lombardy, had been the central point at which the collision between the secular and ecclesiastical power took place in Europe. The Guelph and Ghibelline naturally met and warred throughout the plain of Lombardy; but the intense civic stubbornness and courage of the Milanese population formed a kind of rock in their tide-way, where the quarrel of burgher with noble confused itself with, embittered, and brought again and again to trial by battle, that of pope with emperor. In 1035 their warrior archbishop, heading their revolt against Conrad of Franconia, organized the first disciplined resistance of foot-soldiers to cavalry by his invention and decoration of the Carroccio; and the contest was only closed, after the rebuilding of the walls of ruined Milan, by the wandering of Barbarossa, his army scattered, through the maize fields, which the traveler now listlessly crosses at speed in the train between Milan and Arona, little noting the name of the small station, "Legnano," where the fortune of the Lombard republic finally prevailed. But it was only by the death of Frederick II. that the supremacy of the Church was secured; and when Innocent IV., who had written, on hearing of that death, to his Sicilian clergy, in words of blasphemous exultation, entered Milan, on his journey from Lyons to Perugia, the road, for ten miles before he reached the gates, was lined by the entire population of the city, drawn forth in enthusiastic welcome; as they had invented a sacred car for the[Pg 97] advance of their standard in battle, they invented some similar honor for the head of their Church as the harbinger of peace: under a canopy of silk, borne by the first gentlemen of Milan, the Pope received the hosannas of a people who had driven into shameful flight their Caesar-king; and it is not uninteresting for the English traveler to remember, as he walks through the vast arcades of shops, in the form of a cross, by which the Milanese of to-day express their triumph in liberation from Teutonic rule, that the "Baldacchino" of all mediæval religious ceremony owed its origin to the taste of the milliners of Milan, as the safety of the best knights in European battle rested on the faithful craftsmanship of her armorers.

229. But at the date when the Cavalli entered the service of the great Milanese family, the state of parties within the walls had singularly changed. Three years previously (1271) Charles of Anjou had drawn together the remnants of the army of his dead brother, had confiscated to his own use the goods of the crusading knights whose vessels had been wrecked on the coast of Sicily, and called the pontifical court to Viterbo, to elect a pope who might confirm his dominion over the kingdoms of Sicily and Jerusalem.

On the deliberations of the Cardinals at Viterbo depended the fates of Italy and the Northern Empire. They chose Tebaldo Visconti, then a monk in pilgrimage at Jerusalem. But, before that election was accomplished, one of the candidates for the Northern Empire had involuntarily withdrawn his claim; Guy de Montfort had murdered, at the altar foot, the English Count of Cornwall, to avenge his father, Simon de Montfort, killed at Evesham. The death of the English king of the Romans left the throne of Germany vacant. Tebaldo had returned from Jerusalem with no personal ambition, but having at heart only the restoration of Greece to Europe, and the preaching of a new crusade in Syria. A general council was convoked by him at Lyons, with this object; but before anything could be accomplished in the conclave, it was necessary to balance the overwhelming power of[Pg 98] Charles of Anjou, and the Visconti (Gregory X.) ratified, in 1273, the election of Rudolph of Hapsburg.

230. But Charles of Anjou owed his throne, in reality, to the assistance of the Milanese. Their popular leader, Napoleone della Torre, had facilitated his passage through Lombardy, which otherwise must have been arrested by the Ghibelline states; and in the year in which the Visconti pope had appointed the council at Lyons, the Visconti archbishop of Milan was heading the exiled nobles in vain attempts to recover their supremacy over the popular party. The new Emperor Rudolph not only sent a representative to the council, but a German contingent to aid the exiled archbishop. The popular leader was defeated, and confined in an iron cage, in the year 1274, and the first entrance of the Cavalli into the Italian armies is thus contemporary with the conclusive triumph of the northern monarchic over the republican power, or, more literally, of the wandering rider, Eques, or Ritter, living by pillage, over the sedentary burgher, living by art, and hale peasant, living by labor. The essential nature of the struggle is curiously indicated in relation to this monument by the two facts that the revolt of the Milanese burghers, headed by their archbishop, began by a gentleman's killing an importunate creditor, and that, at Venice, the principal circumstance recorded of Jacopo Cavalli (see my notice of his tomb in the "Stones of Venice," Vol. III. ch. ii. § 69) is his refusal to assault Feltre, because the senate would not grant him the pillage of the town. The reader may follow out, according to his disposition, what thoughts the fresco of the three kneeling knights, each with his helmet-crest, in the shape of a horse's head, thrown back from his shoulders, may suggest to him on review of these passages of history: one thought only I must guard him against, strictly; namely, that a condottiere's religion must necessarily have been false or hypocritical. The folly of nations is in nothing more manifest than in their placid reconciliation of noble creeds with base practices. But the reconciliation, in the fourteenth as in the nineteenth century, was usually foolish only, not insincere.[Pg 99]


[9] Published by the Arundel Society (1872), together with a chromo-lithograph after a drawing by Herr Gnauth.—Ed.


Gerardo Bolderio
sui temporis
Physicorum Principi
Franciscus et
Matthaeus Nepotes

[11] I am indebted for this genealogy to the research and to the courtesy of Mr. J. Stefani. The help given me by other Venetian friends, especially Mr. Rawdon Brown, dates from many years back in matters of this kind.


231. The discourse began with a description of the scenery of the eastern approach to Verona, with special remarks upon its magnificent fortifications, consisting of a steep ditch, some thirty feet deep by sixty or eighty wide, cut out of the solid rock, and the precipice-like wall above, with towers crested with forked battlements set along it at due intervals. The rock is a soft and crumbling limestone, containing "fossil creatures still so like the creatures they were once, that there it first occurred to the human brain to imagine that the buried shapes were not mockeries of life, but had indeed once lived; and, under those white banks by the roadside, was born, like a poor Italian gypsy, the modern science of geology." ... "The wall was chiefly built, the moat entirely excavated, by Can Grande della Scala; and it represents typically the form, of defense which rendered it possible for the life and the arts of citizens to be preserved and practiced in an age of habitual war. Not only so, but it is the wall of the actual city which headed the great Lombard league, which was the beginner of personal and independent power in the Italian nation, and the first banner-bearer, therefore, of all that has been vitally independent in religion and in art throughout the entire Christian world to this day." At the upper angle of the wall, looking down the northern descent, is seen a great round tower at the foot of it, not forked in battlements, but with embrasures for guns. "The battlemented wall was the cradle of civic life. That low circular tower is the cradle of modern war and of all its desolation. It is the first European tower[Pg 100] for artillery; the beginning of fortification against gunpowder—the beginning, that is to say, of the end of all fortification."

232. After noticing the beautiful vegetation of the district, Mr. Ruskin described the view from the promontory or spur, about ten miles long, of which the last rock dies into the plain at the eastern gate of Verona. "This promontory," he said, "is one of the sides of the great gate out of Germany into Italy, through which the Goths always entered, cloven up to Innspruck by the Inn, and down to Verona by the Adige. And by this gate not only the Gothic armies came, but after the Italian nation is formed, the current of northern life enters still into its heart through the mountain artery, as constantly and strongly as the cold waves of the Adige itself." ... "The rock of this promontory hardens as we trace it back to the Alps, first into a limestone having knots of splendid brown jasper in it as our chalk has flints, and in a few miles more into true marble, colored by iron into a glowing orange or pale warm red—the peach-blossom marble, of which Verona is chiefly built—and then as you advance farther into the hills into variegated marbles very rich and grotesque in their veinings."

233. After dilating on the magnificent landscape viewed from the top of this promontory, embracing the blue plain of Lombardy and its cities" Mr. Ruskin said:—

"I do not think that there is any other rock in all the world from which the places and monuments of so complex and deep a fragment of the history of its ages can be visible as from this piece of crag with its blue and prickly weeds. For you have thus beneath you at once the birthplaces of Virgil and of Livy—the homes of Dante and Petrarch, and the source of the most sweet and pathetic inspiration to your own Shakespeare—the spot where the civilization of the Gothic kingdoms was founded on the throne of Theodoric; and there whatever was strongest in the Italian race redeemed itself into life by its league against Barbarossa; the beginning of the revival of natural science and medicine in the schools of Padua; the[Pg 101] center of Italian chivalry, in the power of the Scaligers; of Italian cruelty, in that of Ezzelin; and, lastly, the birthplace of the highest art; for among those hills, or by this very Adige bank, were born Mantegna, Titian, Correggio, and Veronese."

234. Mr. Ruskin then referred to a series of drawings and photographs taken at Verona by himself and his assistants, Mr. Burgess and Mr. Bunney, which he had divided into three series, and of which he had furnished a number of printed catalogues illustrated with notes.[13]

I. "Lombard, extending to the end of the twelfth century, being the expression of the introduction of Christianity into barbaric minds; Christianization.

II. "The Gothic period. Dante's time, from 1200 to 1400 (Dante beginning his poem exactly in the midst of it, in 1300); the period of vital Christianity, and of the development of the laws of chivalry and forms of imagination which are founded on Christianity.

III. "The first period of the revival, in which the arts of Greece and some of its religion return and join themselves to Christianity; not taking away its sincerity or earnestness, but making it poetical instead of practical. In the following period even this poetical Christianity expired; the arts became devoted to the pursuit of pleasure, and in that they persist except where they are saved by a healthy naturalism or domesticity.

235. I. "The Lombardic period is one of savage but noble life gradually subjected to law. It is the forming of men, not out of clay but wild beasts. And art of this period in all countries, including our own Norman especially, is, in the inner heart of it, the subjection of savage or terrible, or foolish and erring life, to a dominant law. It is government and conquest of fearful dreams. There is in it as yet no germ[Pg 102] of true hope—only the conquest of evil, and the waking from darkness and terror. The literature of it is, as in Greece, far in advance of art, and is already full of the most tender and impassioned beauty, while the art is still grotesque and dreadful; but, however wild, it is supreme above all others by its expression of governing law, and here at Verona is the very center and utmost reach of that expression.

"I know nothing in architecture at once so exquisite and so wild and so strange in the expression of self-conquest achieved almost in a dream. For observe, these barbaric races, educated in violence—chiefly in war and in hunting—cannot feel or see clearly as they are gradually civilized whether this element in which they have been brought up is evil or not. They must be good soldiers and hunters—that is their life; yet they know that killing is evil, and they do not expect to find wild beasts in heaven. They have been trained by pain, by violence, by hunger and cold. They know there is a good in these things as well as evil: they are perpetually hesitating between the one and the other thought of them. But one thing they see clearly, that killing and hunting, and every form of misery, pleasure, and of passion, must somehow at last be subdued by law, which shall bring good out of it all, and which they feel more and more constraining them every hour. Now, if with this sympathy you look at their dragon and wild beast decoration, you will find that it now tells you about these Lombards far more than they could know of themselves.... All the actions, and much more the arts, of men tell to others, not only what the worker does not know, but what he can never know of himself, which you can only recognize by being in an element more advanced and wider than his.... In deliberate symbolism, the question is always, not what a symbol meant first or meant elsewhere, but what it means now and means here. Now, this dragon symbol of the Lombard is used of course all over the world; it means good here, and evil there; sometimes means nothing; sometimes everything. You have always to ask what the man who here uses it means by it. Whatever is in his mind, that[Pg 103] he is sure partly to express by it; nothing else than that can he express by it."

236. II. In the second period Mr. Ruskin said was to be found "the highest development of Italian character and chivalry, with an entirely believed Christian religion; you get, therefore, joy and courtesy, and hope, and a lovely peace in death. And with these you have two fearful elements of evil. You have first such confidence in the virtue of the creed that men hate and persecute all who do not accept it. And worse still, you find such confidence in the power of the creed that men not only can do anything that is wrong, and be themselves for a word of faith pardoned, but are even sure that after the wrong is done God is sure to put it all right again for them, or even make things better than they were before. Now, I need not point out to you how the spirit of persecution, as well as of vain hope founded on creed only, is mingled in every line with the lovely moral teaching of the 'Divina Conmedia,' nor need I point out to you how, between the persecution of other people's creeds and the absolution of one's own crimes, all Christian error is concluded."

In relation to this Mr. Ruskin referred to the history of the founder of the power of the Scalas, Mastino, a simple citizen, chosen first to be podesta and then captain of Verona, for his justice and sagacity, who, although wise and peaceful in his policy, employed the civil power in the persecution of heresy, burning above two hundred persons; and he also related how Can Signorio della Scala on his death-bed, after giving a pious charge to his children, ordered the murder of his brother—examples of the boundless possibility of self-deception. One of these children killed the other, and was himself driven from the throne, so ending the dynasty of the Scalas. Referring to his illustrations, Mr. Ruskin pointed out the expressions of hope, in the conquest of death, and the rewards of faith, apparent in the art of the time. The Lombard architecture expresses the triumph of law over passion, the Christian, that of hope over sorrow.[Pg 104]

Mr. Ruskin concluded his remarks on this period by commenting on the history and the tomb of Can Grande della Scala, a good knight and true, as busy and bright a life as is found in the annals of chivalry.

237. III. "The period when classical literature and art were again known in Italy, and the painters and sculptors, who had been gaining steadily in power for two hundred years—power not of practice merely, but of race also—with every circumstance in their favor around them, received their finally perfect instruction, both in geometrical science, in that of materials, and in the anatomy and action of the human body. Also the people about them—the models of their work—had been perfected in personal beauty by a chivalric war; in imagination by a transcendental philosophy; in practical intellect by stern struggle for civic law; and in commerce, not in falsely made or vile or unclean things, but in lovely things, beautifully and honestly made. And now, therefore, you get out of all the world's long history since it was peopled by men till now—you get just fifty years of perfect work. Perfect. It is a strong word; it is also a true one. The doing of these fifty years is unaccusably Right, as art; what its sentiment may be—whether too great or too little, whether superficial or sincere—is another question, but as artists' work it admits no conception of anything better.

"It is true that in the following age, founded on the absolutely stern rectitude of this, there came a phase of gigantic power and of exquisite ease and felicity which possess an awe and a charm of their own. They are more inimitable than the work of the perfect school. But they are not perfect." ...

238. This period Mr. Ruskin named "the 'Time of the Masters,' Fifty Years, including Luini, Leonardo, John Bellini, Vitto Carpaccio, Andrea Mantegna, Andrea Verrocchio, Cima da Conegliano, Perugino, and in date, though only in his earlier life, belonging to the school, Raphael.... The great fifty years was the prime of life of three men: John[Pg 105] Bellini, born 1430, died at 90, in 1516; Mantegna, born 1430, died at 76, in 1506; and Vittor Carpaccio, who died in 1522."

"The object of these masters is wholly different from that of the former school. The central Gothic men always want chiefly to impress you with the facts of their subject; but the masters of this finished time desire only to make everything dainty and delightful. We have not many pictures of the class in England, but several have been of late added to the National Gallery, and the Perugino there, especially the compartment with Raphael and Tobit, and the little St. Jerome by John Bellini, will perfectly show you this main character—pictorial perfectness and deliciousness—sought before everything else. You will find, if you look into that St. Jerome, that everything in it is exquisite, complete, and pure; there is not a particle of dust in the cupboards, nor a cloud in the air; the wooden shutters are dainty, the candlesticks are dainty, the saint's scarlet hat is dainty, and its violet tassel, and its ribbon, and his blue cloak and his spare pair of shoes, and his little brown partridge—it is all a perfect quintessence of innocent luxury—absolute delight, without one drawback in it, nor taint of the Devil anywhere." ...

239. After dilating on several other pictures of this class, giving evidence of the entire devotion of the artists of the period to their art and work, Mr. Ruskin adverted to the second part of his discourse, the rivers of Verona. "There is but one river at Verona, nevertheless Dante connects its name with that of the Po when he says of the whole of Lombardy,—

'In sul paese, ch' Adice e Po riga,
Solea valore e cortesia trovarsi
Prima che Federigo avesse briga.'

I want to speak for a minute or two about those great rivers, because in the efforts that are now being made to restore some of its commerce to Venice precisely the same questions are in course of debate which again and again, ever since Venice was a city, have put her senate at pause—namely, how to hold[Pg 106] in check the continually advancing morass formed by the silt brought down by the Alpine rivers. Is it not strange that for at least six hundred years the Venetians have been contending with those rivers at their mouths—that is to say, where their strength has become wholly irresistible—and never once thought of contending with them at their sources, where their infinitely separated streamlets might be, and are meant by Heaven to be, ruled as easily as children? And observe how sternly, how constantly the place where they are to be governed is marked by the mischief done by their liberty. Consider what the advance of the delta of the Po in the Adriatic signifies among the Alps. The evil of the delta itself, however great, is as nothing in comparison of that which is in its origin.

240. "The gradual destruction of the harborage of Venice, the endless cost of delaying it, the malaria of the whole coast down to Ravenna, nay, the raising of the bed of the Po, to the imperiling of all Lombardy, are but secondary evils. Every acre of that increasing delta means the devastation of part of an Alpine valley, and the loss of so much fruitful soil and ministering rain. Some of you now present must have passed this year through the valleys of the Toccia and Ticino. You know therefore the devastation that was caused there, as well as in the valley of the Rhone, by the great floods of 1868, and that ten years of labor, even if the peasantry had still the heart for labor, cannot redeem those districts into fertility. What you have there seen on a vast scale takes place to a certain extent during every summer thunderstorm, and from the ruin of some portion of fruitful land the dust descends to increase the marshes of the Po. But observe further—whether fed by sudden melting of snow or by storm—every destructive rise of the Italian rivers signifies the loss of so much power of irrigation on the south side of the Alps. You must all well know the look of their chain—seen from Milan or Turin late in summer—how little snow is left, except on Monte Rosa, how vast a territory of brown mountain-side heated and barren, without rocks, yet without forest.[Pg 107] There is in that brown-purple zone, and along the flanks of every valley that divides it, another Lombardy of cultivable land; and every drift of rain that swells the mountain torrents if it were caught where it falls is literally rain of gold. We seek gold beneath the rocks; and we will not so much as make a trench along the hillside to catch it where it falls from heaven, and where, if not so caught, it changes into a frantic monster, first ravaging hamlet, hill, and plain, then sinking along the shores of Venice into poisoned sleep. Think what that belt of the Alps might be—up to four thousand feet above the plain—if the system of terraced irrigation which even half-savage nations discovered and practiced long ago in China and in Borneo, and by which our own engineers have subdued vast districts of farthest India, were but in part also practiced here—here, in the oldest and proudest center of European arts, where Leonardo da Vinci—master among masters—first discerned the laws of the coiling clouds and wandering streams, so that to this day his engineering remains unbettered by modern science; and yet in this center of all human achievements of genius no thought has been taken to receive with sacred art these great gifts of quiet snow and flying rain. Think, I repeat, what that south slope of the Alps might be: one paradise of lovely pasture and avenued forest of chestnut and blossomed trees, with cascades docile and innocent as infants, laughing all summer long from crag to crag and pool to pool, and the Adige and the Po, the Dora and the Ticino, no more defiled, no more alternating between fierce flood and venomous languor, but in calm clear currents bearing ships to every city and health to every field of all that azure plain of Lombard Italy....

241. "It has now become a most grave object with me to get some of the great pictures of the Italian schools into England; and that, I think, at this time—with good help—might be contrived. Further, without in the least urging my plans impatiently on anyone else, I know thoroughly that this, which I have said should be done, can be done, for the Italian rivers, and that no method of employment of our idle[Pg 108] able-bodied laborers would be in the end more remunerative, or in the beginnings of it more healthful and every way beneficial than, with the concurrence of the Italian and Swiss governments, setting them to redeem the valleys of the Ticino and the Rhone. And I pray you to think of this; for I tell you truly—you who care for Italy—that both her passions and her mountain streams are noble; but that her happiness depends not on the liberty, but the right government of both."[14][Pg 109]


[12] Report (with extracts) of a paper entitled "A Talk respecting Verona and its Rivers," read by Mr. Ruskin at the Weekly Evening Meeting of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, Feb. 4th, 1870. See Proceedings of the Royal Institution, vol. vi., p. 55.—Ed.

[13] This catalogue (London: Queen Street Printing-Office, 1870) is printed below, p. 109, § 242 seqq.Ed.

[14] See Arrows of the Chace.


(See ante, p. 101.—Ed.)

Drawings and Photographs, illustrative of the Architecture of Verona, shown at the Royal Institution, Feb. 4th, 1870.

SECTION I. Nos. 1 to 7. LOMBARD.

242. (1.) Porch of the Church of St. Zeno. (Photograph.)

Of the 12th century.

(2.) Porch of the South Entrance of the Duomo.

Probably of the 10th or 11th century, and highly remarkable for the wildness of its grotesque or monstrous sculpture, which has been most carefully rendered by the draughts-man, Mr. Bunney.

It will save space to note that the sketches by my two most skillful and patient helpers, Mr. A. Burgess and Mr. Bunney, will be respectively marked (A) and (B), and my own (R).

(3.) Porch of the Western Entrance of the Duomo. (Photograph.)

Later in date—but still of 12th or very early 13th century. Details of it are given in the next drawings.

243. (4.) Griffin (I keep the intelligible old English spelling), sustaining the Pillar on the North Side of the Porch seen in No. 3. (R.)

Painted last summer.

I engraved his head and breast, seen from the other side, in the plate of "True and False Griffins," in "Modern Painters." Only the back of the head and neck of the small dragon he holds in his fore-claws can be seen from this side.

[Pg 110]

(5.) Capital of the Pillar sustained by the Griffin, of which the base is seen in No. 4. (A.)

First-rate sculpture of the time, and admirably drawn.

(6.) Portion of decorative Lombardic molding from the South Side of the Duomo. (A.)

Showing the peculiar writhing of the branched tracery with a serpentine flexure—altogether different from the springing lines of Gothic ornament. It would be almost impossible to draw this better; it is much more like the real thing than a cast would be.

(7.) Lion, with Dragon in its claws, of Lombardic sculpture (now built into a wall at Venice); above it, head of one of the Dogs which support the Tomb of Can Grande, at Verona. (R.)

The lion—in its emaciated strength, and the serpent with its vital writhe and deadly reverted bite, are both characteristic of the finest Lombard work. The dog's head is 14th century Gothic—a masterpiece of broad, subtle, easy sculpture, getting expression with every touch, and never losing the least undulation of surface, while it utterly disdains the mere imitation of hair, or attainment of effect by deep cutting.

SECTION II. Nos. 8 to 38. GOTHIC.

244. (8.) North Porch of the Church of St. Fermo. 13th century. (B.)

Mr. Bunney's drawing is so faithful and careful as almost to enable the spectator to imagine himself on the spot. The details of this porch are among the most interesting in the Gothic of Italy, but I was obliged, last year, to be content with this general view, taken in terror of the whole being "restored"; and with the two following drawings.

(9.) Base of the Central Pillar. North Porch, St. Fermo. (B.)

In facsimile, as nearly as possible, and of the real size, to show the perpetual variety in the touch; and in the disposition and size of the masses.

[Pg 111]

(10.) Shaft-Capitals of the Interior Arch of the North Porch, St. Fermo. (B.)

Contrived so that, while appearing symmetrical, and even monotonous, not one lobe of any of the leaves shall be like another.

Quite superb in the original, but grievously difficult to draw, and losing, in this sketch, much of their grace.

245. (11.) Western Door of the Church of St. Anastasia, with the Tomb of the Count of Castelbarco on the left, over the arch. (Photograph.)

In the door, its central pillar, carved lintels and encompassing large pointed arch, with its deep moldings and flanking shafts, are of the finest Veronese 13th century work. The two minor pointed arches are of the 14th century. The flanking pilasters, with double panels and garlands above, are the beginning of a façade intended to have been erected in the 15th century.

The Count of Castelbarco, the Chancellor of Can Grande della Scala, died about the year 1330, and his tomb cannot be much later in date.

The details of this group of buildings are illustrated under the numbers next in series.

(12.) Pillars and Lintels of the Western Door of St. Anastasia. (Photograph.)

The sculpture of the lintel is first notable for its concise and intense story of the Life of Christ.

1. The Annunciation. (Both Virgin and Angel kneeling.)

2. The Nativity.

3. The Epiphany. (Chosen as a sign of life giver to the

4. Christ bearing His Cross. (Chosen as a sign of His
personal life in its entirety.)

5. The Crucifixion.

6. The Resurrection.

Secondly. As sculpture, this lintel shows all the principal features of the characteristic 13th century design of Verona.

Diminutive and stunted figures; the heads ugly in features, stern in expression; but the drapery exquisitely disposed in minute but not deep-cut folds.

[Pg 112]

(13.) The Angels on the left hand of the subject of the Resurrection in No. 12. (A.)

Drawn of its actual size, excellently.

The appearance of fusion and softness in the contours is not caused by time, but is intentional, and reached by great skill in the sculptor, faithfully rendered in the drawing.

(14.) Sketch of the Capital of the Central Pillar in No. 12. (R.)

(With slight notes of a 16th century bracket of a street balcony on each side.)

Drawn to show the fine curvatures and softness of treatment in Veronese sculpture of widely separated periods.

246. (15.) Unfinished Sketch of the Castelbarco Tomb, seen from one of the windows of the Hotel of the "Two Towers." (R.)

That inn was itself one of the palaces of the Scaligers; and the traveler should endeavor always to imagine the effect of the little Square of Sta. Anastasia when the range of its buildings was complete; the Castelbarco Tomb on one side, this Gothic palace on the other, and the great door of the church between. The masonry of the canopy of this tomb was so locked and dove-tailed that it stood balanced almost without cement; but of late, owing to the permission given to heavily loaded carts to pass continually under the archway, the stones were so loosened by the vibration that the old roof became unsafe, and was removed, and a fine smooth one of trimly cut white stone substituted, while I was painting the rest of the tomb, against time. Hence the unfinished condition of my sketch the last that can ever be taken of the tomb as it was built.

(16.) The Castelbarco Tomb, seen laterally. (B.)

A most careful drawing, leaving little to be desired in realization of the subject. It is taken so near the tomb as to make the perspective awkward, but I liked this quaint view better than more distant ones.

The drawing of the archway, and of the dark gray and red masonry of the tomb is very beautiful.

[Pg 113]

247. (17.) Lion with Hind in its Claws. (A.)

The support of the sarcophagus, under the feet of the recumbent figure in the Castelbarco Tomb.

(18.) Lion with Dragon in its claws. (A.)

The support of the sarcophagus at the head of the figure.

(19.) St. Luke. (A.)

Sculpture of one of the four small panels at the angles of the sarcophagus in the Castelbarco Tomb. I engraved the St. Mark for the illustration of noble grotesque in the "Stones of Venice." But this drawing more perfectly renders the stern touch of the old sculptor.

(20.) Two of the Spurs of the bases of the Nave Pillars in the Church of St. Anastasia. (A.)

Of the real size. Not generally seen in the darkness of the Church, and very fine in their rough way.

248. (21.) Tomb of Can Grande, general view. (R.)

Put together some time since, from Photograph and Sketches taken in the year 1852; and inaccurate, but useful in giving a general idea.

(22.) Tomb of Can Grande. (R.)

Sketch made carefully on the spot last year. The sarcophagus unfinished; the details of it would not go into so small a space.

(23.) The Sarcophagus and recumbent Statue of Can Grande, drawn separately. (R.)

Sketched on the spot last year. Almost a faultless type of powerful and solemn Gothic sculpture. (Can Grande died in 1329.)

(24.) The Two Dogs. (R.)

The kneeling Madonna and sculpture of right hand upper panel of the Sarcophagus of Can Grande.

The drawing of the panel is of real size, representing the Knight at the Battle of Vicenza.

[Pg 114]

(25.) The Cornice of the Sarcophagus of Can Grande. (A.)

Of its real size, admirably drawn, and quite showing the softness and Correggio-like touch of its leafage, and its symmetrical formality of design, while the flow of every leaf is changeful.

249. (26.) Study of the Sarcophagus of the Tomb of Mastino II., Verona. (R.)

Sketched in 1852.

(27.) Head of the recumbent Statue of Mastino II. (A.)

Beautifully drawn by Mr. Burgess.

Can Mastino II. had three daughters:—Madonna Beatrice (called afterwards "the Queen," for having "tutte le grazie che i cieli ponno concedere a femina," and always simply called by historians Lady "Reina" della Scala), Madonna Alta-luna, and Madonna Verde. Lady Reina married Bernabó Visconti, Duke of Milan; Lady Alta-luna, Louis of Brandebourg; and Lady Verde, Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua. Their father died of "Sovereign melancholy" in 1350, being forty-three years old.

(28.) Part of Cornice of the Sarcophagus of Mastino II. (A.)

One of the most beautiful Gothic cornices in Italy; its effect being obtained with extreme simplicity of execution out of two ridges of marble, each cut first into one united sharp edge all along, and then drilled through, and modeled into leaf and flower.

(29.) Sketch, real size, of the pattern incised and painted on the drapery of the Tomb of Can Mastino II. (R.)

It is worth notice for the variety of its pattern; observe, the floral fillings of spaces resemble each other, but are never the same. There is no end, when one begins drawing detail of this kind carefully. Slight as it is, the sketch gives some idea of the easy flow of the stone drapery, and of the care taken by the sculptor to paint his pattern as if it were bent at the apparent fold.

[Pg 115]

250. (30.) Tomb of Can Signorio della Scala.

Samuel Prout's sketch on the spot; (afterwards lithographed by him in his "Sketches in France and Italy";) quite admirable in feeling, composition, and concise abstraction of essential character.

The family palace of the Scaligers, in which Dante was received, is seen behind it.

(31.) A single niche and part of the iron-work of the Tomb of Can Signorio. (R.)

As seen from the palace of the Scaligers; the remains of another house of the same family are seen in the little street beyond.

(32.) Study of details of the top of the Tomb of Can Signorio. (R.)

Needing more work than I had time for, and quite spoiled by hurry; but interesting in pieces here and there; look, for instance, at the varied size and design of the crockets; and beauty of the cornices.

(33.) Bracket under Sarcophagus of Giovanni della Scala. (A.)

Characteristic of the finest later treatment of flowing foliage.

251. (34.) Part of the front of the Ducal Palace, Venice. (R.)

Sketched, in 1852, by measurement, with extreme care; and showing the sharp window traceries, which are rarely seen in Photographs.

(35.) Angle of the Ducal Palace, looking Seaward from the Piazzetta. (R.)

Sketched last year, (restorations being threatened) merely to show the way in which the light is let through the edges of the angle by penetration of the upper capital, and of the foliage in the sculpture below; so that the mass may not come unbroken against the sky.

(36.) Photograph of the Angle Capital of Upper Arcade seen in No. 34.

Showing the pierced portions, and their treatment.

[Pg 116]

(37-38.) Capitals of the Upper Arcade.

Showing the grandest treatment of architectural foliage attained by the 14th century masters; massive for all purposes of support; exquisitely soft and refined in contour, and faultlessly composed.


252. (39.) Study of the top of the Pilaster next the Castelbarco Tomb. (R.)

The wild fig leaves are unfinished; for my assistant having unfortunately shown his solicitude for their preservation too energetically to some street boys who were throwing stones at them, they got a ladder, and rooted them up the same night. The purple and fine-grained white marbles of the pilaster are entirely uninjured in surface by three hundred years' exposure. The coarse white marble above has moldered, and is gray with lichens.

(40.) Study of the base of the same Pilaster, and connected Facade. (R.)

Showing the effect of differently colored marbles arranged in carefully inequal masses.

253. (41.) Interior Court of the Ducal Palace of Venice, with Giant's Stair. (R.)

Sketched in 1841, and perhaps giving some characters which more finished drawing would lose.

(42.) The Piazza d' Erbe, Verona. (R.)

Sketched in 1841, showing general effect and pretty grouping of the later Veronese buildings.

(43.) Piazza de' Signori, Verona.

Sketched last year. Note the bill advertising Victor Hugo's "Homme qui rit," pasted on the wall of the palace.

The great tower is of the Gothic time. Note its noble sweep of delicately ascending curves sloped inwards.

[Pg 117]

(44.) Gate of Ruined School of St. John, Venice. (Photograph.)

Exquisite in floral sculpture, and finish of style.

(45.) Hawthorn Leaves, from the base of Pilaster, in the Church of St. Maria dé Miracoli, Venice. (R.)

In the finest style of floral sculpture. It cannot be surpassed for perfectness of treatment; especially for the obtaining of life and softness, by broad surfaces and fine grouping.

(46.) Basrelief from one of the Inner Doors of the Ducal Palace.

Very noble, and typical of the pure style.

(47.) St. John Baptist and other Saints. (Cima da Conegliano.)

Consummate work; but the photograph, though well taken, darkens it terribly.

(48.) Meeting of Joachim and Anna. (Vettor Carpaccio.) (Photograph.)

(49.) Madonna and Saints. (John Bellini.) Portrait. (Mantegna.)


(50.) Madonna. (John Bellini.)

With Raphael's "Della Seggiola." Showing the first transition from the style of the "Masters" to that of modern times.

The Photographs in the above series are all from the Pictures themselves.

[Pg 118]



254. The writer of this book has long been my friend, and in the early days of friendship was my disciple.

But, of late, I have been his; for he has devoted himself earnestly to the study of forms of Christian Art which I had little opportunity of examining, and has been animated in that study by a brightness of enthusiasm which has been long impossible to me. Knowing this, and that he was able perfectly to fill what must otherwise have been a rudely bridged chasm in my teaching at Oxford, I begged him to give these lectures, and to arrange them for press. And this he has done to please me; and now that he has done it, I am, in one sense, anything but pleased: for I like his writing better than my own, and am more jealous of it than I thought it was in me to be of any good work—how much less of my friend's! I console myself by reflecting, or at least repeating to myself and endeavoring to think, that he could not have found out all this if I had not shown him the way. But most deeply and seriously I am thankful for such help, in a work far too great for my present strength; help all the more precious because my friend can bring to the investigation of early Christian Art, and its influence, the integrity and calmness of the faith in which it was wrought, happier than I in having been a personal comforter and helper of men, fulfilling his life in daily and unquestionable duty; while I have been, perhaps wrongly, always hesitatingly, persuading myself that it was my duty to do the things which pleased me.

255. Also, it has been necessary to much of my analytical[Pg 119] work that I should regard the art of every nation as much as possible from their own natural point of view; and I have striven so earnestly to realize belief which I supposed to be false, and sentiment which was foreign to my temper, that at last I scarcely know how far I think with other people's minds, and see with anyone's eyes but my own. Even the effort to recover my temporarily waived conviction occasionally fails; and what was once secured to me becomes theoretical like the rest.

But my old scholar has been protected by his definitely directed life from the temptations of this speculative equity; and I believe his writings to contain the truest expression yet given in England of the feelings with which a Christian gentleman of sense and learning should regard the art produced in ancient days, by the dawn of the faiths which still guide his conduct and secure his peace.

256. On all the general principles of Art, Mr. Tyrwhitt and I are absolutely at one; but he has often the better of me in his acute personal knowledge of men and their ways. When we differ in our thoughts of things, it is because we know them on contrary sides; and often his side is that most naturally seen, and which it is most desirable to see. There is one important matter, for instance, on which we are thus apparently at issue, and yet are not so in reality. These lectures show, throughout, the most beautiful and just reverence for Michael Angelo, and are of especial value in their account of him; while the last lecture on Sculpture,[16] which I gave at Oxford, is entirely devoted to examining the modes in which his genius failed, and perverted that of other men. But Michael Angelo is great enough to make praise and blame alike necessary, and alike inadequate, in any true record of him. My friend sees him as a traveler sees from a distance some noble mountain range, obscure in golden clouds and[Pg 120] purple shade; and I see him as a sullen miner would the same mountains, wandering among their precipices through chill of storm and snow, and discerning that their strength was perilous and their substance sterile. Both of us see truly, both partially; the complete truth is the witness of both.

257. The notices of Holbein, and the English whom he painted (see especially the sketch of Sir Thomas Wyatt in the sixth lecture), are to my mind of singular value, and the tenor of the book throughout, as far as I can judge—for, as I said, much of it treats of subjects with which I am unfamiliar—so sound, and the feeling in it so warm and true, and true in the warmth of it, that it refreshes me like the sight of the things themselves it speaks of. New and vivid sight of them it will give to many readers; and to all who will regard my commendation I commend it; asking those who have hitherto credited my teaching to read these lectures as they would my own; and trusting that others, who have doubted me, will see reason to put faith in my friend.

Pisa, 30th April, 1872. [Pg 121]


[15] Preface to the above-named book, by the Rev. St. John Tyrwhitt. London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1872.—Ed.

[16] See Mr. Ruskin's pamphlet on "The Relation of Michael Angelo to Tintoret," being (although separately printed) the seventh lecture of the course (1872) published as Aratra PenteliciEd.



258. The number of British and American travelers who take unaffected interest in the early art of Europe is already large, and is daily increasing; daily also, as I thankfully perceive, feeling themselves more and more in need of a guidebook containing as much trustworthy indication as they can use of what they may most rationally spend their time in examining. The books of reference published by Mr. Murray, though of extreme value to travelers, who make it their object to see (in his, and their, sense of the word) whatever is to be seen, are of none whatever, or may perhaps be considered, justly, as even of quite the reverse of value, to travelers who wish to see only what they may in simplicity understand, and with pleasure remember; while the histories of art, and biographies of artists, to which the more earnest student in his novitiate must have recourse, are at once so voluminous, so vague, and so contradictory, that I cannot myself conceive his deriving any other benefit from their study than a deep conviction of the difficulty of the subject, and of the incertitude of human opinions.

259. It seemed to me, on reading the essays collected in this volume, as they appeared in the periodical[18] for which they were written, that the author not only possessed herself a very true discernment of the qualities in mediæval art which were justly deserving of praise, but had unusually clear understanding of the degree in which she might expect to cultivate such discernment in the general mind of polite travelers; nor have I less admired her aptitude in collation of essentially[Pg 122] illustrative facts, so as to bring the history of a very widely contemplative range of art into tenable compass and very graceful and serviceable form. Her reading, indeed, has been, with respect to many very interesting periods of religious workmanship, much more extensive than my own; and when I consented to edit the volume of collected papers, it was not without the assurance of considerable advantage to myself during the labor of revising them.

260. The revision, however, I am sorry to say, has been interrupted and imperfect, very necessarily the last from the ignorance I have just confessed of more than one segment of the great illuminated field of early religious art, to which the writer most wisely has directed equal and symmetrical attention, and interrupted partly under extreme pressure of other occupation, and partly in very fear of being tempted to oppress the serenity of the general prospect, which I think these essays are eminently calculated to open before an ingenious reader, with the stormy chiaroscuro of my own preference and reprobation. I leave the work, therefore, absolutely Miss Owen's, with occasional note of remonstrance, but without retouch, though it must be distinctly understood that when I allow my name to stand as the editor of a book, it is in no mere compliment (if my editorship could indeed be held as such) to the genius or merit of the author; but it means that I hold myself entirely responsible, in main points, for the accuracy of the views advanced, and that I wish the work to be received, by those who have confidence in my former teaching, as an extension and application of the parts of it which I have felt to be incomplete.

Oxford, November 27, 1875.

Note.—The "notes of remonstrance" or approbation scattered through the volume are not numerous. They are given below, preceded in each case by the (italicized) statement or expression: giving rise to them:—

(1) P. 73. "The peculiar characteristic of the Byzantine churches is the dome." "Form derived first from the Catacombs. See Lord Lindsay."[Pg 123]

(2) P. 89. "The octagon baptistry at Florence, ascribed to Lombard kings...." "No; it is Etruscan work of pure descent."

(3) Id. "S. Michele, of Pavia, pure Lombard of seventh century, rebuilt in tenth." "Churches were often rebuilt with their original sculptures. I believe many in this church to be Lombard. See next page."

(4) P. 95. "The revolution begun by Rafaelle has ended in the vulgar painting, the sentimental prints, and the colored statuettes, which have made the religious art of the nineteenth century a by-word for its feebleness on the one side, its superstition on the other." "Excellent; but my good scholar has not distinguished vulgar from non-vulgar naturalism. Perhaps she will as I read on."

[Compare the last note in the book, pp. 487-8, where Miss Owen's statement that "the cause of Rafaelle's popularity ... has been that predominance of exaggerated dramatic representation, which in his pictures is visible above all moral and spiritual qualities," is noted to be "Intensely and accurately true."]

(5) P. 108. "It may be ... it is scarcely credible." "What does it matter what may be or what is scarcely credible? I hope the reader will consider what a waste of time the thinking of things is when we can never rightly know them."

(6) P. 109. On the statement that "no vital school of art has ever existed save as the expression of the vital and unquestioned faith of a people," followed by some remarks on external helps to devotion, there is a note at the word "people." "Down to this line this page is unquestionably and entirely true. I do not answer for the rest of the clause, but do not dispute it."

(7) P. 113. S. Michele at Lucca. "The church is now only a modern architect's copy."

(8) P. 129. "There is a good model of this pulpit" (Niccola's in the Pisan Baptistry) "in the Kensington Museum, through which we may learn much of the rise of Gothic sculpture." "You cannot do anything of the kind. Pisan sculpture can only be studied in the original marble; half its virtue is in the chiseling."

(9) P. 136. "S. Donato's shrine" (by Giovanni Picano) "in Arezzo Cathedral is one of the finest monuments of the Pisan school." "No. He tried to be too fine, and overdid it. The work is merely accumulated commonplace."

(10) P. 170. On Giotto drawing without compasses a circle with a crayon, "not a brush, with which, as Professor Ruskin explained, the feat would have been impossible. See 'Giotto and his Works in Padua.'" "Don't; but practice with a camel's-hair brush till you can do it. I knew nothing of brush-work proper when I wrote that essay on Padua."

(11) P. 179. In the first of the bas-reliefs of Giotto's tower at[Pg 124] Florence, "Noah lies asleep, or, as Professor Ruskin maintains, drunk." "I don't 'maintain' anything of the sort; I know it. He is as drunk as a man can be, and the expression of drunkenness given with deliberate and intense skill, as on the angle of the Ducal Palace at Venice."

(12) P. 179. On Giotto's "astronomy, figured by an old man" on the same tower. "Above which are seen, by the astronomy of his heart, the heavenly host represented above the stars."

(13) P. 190. "The Loggia dei Langi" (at Florence) ... "the round arches, new to those times ... See Vasari." "Vasari is an ass with precious things in his panniers; but you must not ask his opinion on any matter. The round arches new to those times had been the universal structure form in all Italy, Roman or Lombard, feebly and reluctantly pointed in the thirteenth century, and occasionally, as in the Campo Santo of Pisa, and Orcagna's own Or San Michele, standing within three hundred yards of the Loggia arches 'new to those times,' filled with tracery, itself composed of intersecting round arches. Now, it does not matter two soldi to the history of art who built, but who designed and carved the Loggia. It is out and out the grandest in Italy, and its archaic virtues themselves are impracticable and inconceivable. I don't vouch for its being Orcagna's, nor do I vouch for the Campo Santo frescoes being his. I have never specially studied him; nor do I know what men of might there were to work with or after him. But I know the Loggia to be mighty architecture of Orcagna's style and time, and the Last Judgment and Triumph of Death in the Campo Santo to be the sternest lessons written on the walls of Tuscany, and worth more study alone than English travelers usually give to Pisa, Lucca, Pistoja, and Florence altogether."

(14) P. 468. "The Gothic style for churches never took root in Venice." "Not quite correct. The Ducal Palace traceries are shown in the 'Stones of Venice' (vol. ii.) to have been founded on those of the Frari."

(15) P. 471. Mantegna. "No feeling had he for vital beauty of human face, or the lower creatures of the earth." To this Miss Owen adds in a note, "Professor Ruskin reminds me to notice here, in qualification, Mantegna's power of painting inanimate forms, as, e. g., in the trees and leaves of his Madonna of the National Gallery. 'He is,' says Professor Ruskin, 'the most wonderful leaf-painter of Lombardy.'"

[Pg 125]


[17] Preface to the above-named book by Miss A. C. Owen, edited by Mr. Ruskin. London: Mozley & Smith, 1876.—Ed.

[18] The Monthly Packet.Ed.



261. The evidence collected in the following pages, in support of their pleading, is so complete, and the summary of his cause given with so temperate mastery by Mr. Somervell, that I find nothing to add in circumstance, and little to re-enforce in argument. And I have less heart to the writing even of what brief preface so good work might by its author's courtesy be permitted to receive from me, occupied as I so long have been in efforts tending in the same direction, because, on that very account, I am far less interested than my friend in this local and limited resistance to the elsewhere fatally victorious current of modern folly, cruelty, and ruin. When the frenzy of avarice is daily drowning our sailors, suffocating our miners, poisoning our children, and blasting the cultivable surface of England into a treeless waste of ashes,[20] what does it really matter whether a flock of sheep, more or less, be[Pg 126] driven from the slopes of Helvellyn, or the little pool of Thirlmere filled with shale, or a few wild blossoms of St. John's vale lost to the coronal of English spring? Little to anyone; and—let me say this, at least, in the outset of all saying—nothing to me. No one need charge me with selfishness in any word or action for defense of these mossy hills. I do not move, with such small activity as I have yet shown in the business, because I live at Coniston (where no sound of the iron wheels by Dunmail Raise can reach me), nor because I can find no other place to remember Wordsworth by, than the daffodil margin of his little Rydal marsh. What thoughts and work are yet before me, such as he taught, must be independent of any narrow associations. All my own dear mountain grounds and treasure-cities, Chamouni, Interlachen, Lucerne, Geneva, Venice, are long ago destroyed by the European populace; and now, for my own part, I don't care what more they do; they may drain Loch Katrine, drink Loch Lomond, and blow all Wales and Cumberland into a heap of slate shingle; the world is wide enough yet to find me some refuge during the days appointed for me to stay in it. But it is no less my duty, in the cause of those to whom the sweet landscapes of England are yet precious, and to whom they may yet teach what they taught me, in early boyhood, and would still if I had it now to learn,—it is my duty to plead with what earnestness I may, that these sacred sibylline books may be redeemed from perishing.

262. But again, I am checked, because I don't know how to speak to the persons who need to be spoken to in this matter.

Suppose I were sitting, where still, in much-changed Oxford, I am happy to find myself, in one of the little latticed cells of the Bodleian Library, and my kind and much-loved friend, Mr. Coxe, were to come to me with news that it was proposed to send nine hundred excursionists through the library every day, in three parties of three hundred each; that it was intended they should elevate their minds by reading all the books they could lay hold of while they stayed;—and[Pg 127] that practically scientific persons accompanying them were to look out for and burn all the manuscripts that had any gold in their illuminations, that the said gold might be made of practical service; but that he, Mr. Coxe, could not, for his part, sympathize with the movement, and hoped I would write something in deprecation of it! As I should then feel, I feel now, at Mr. Somervell's request that I would write him a preface in defense of Helvellyn. What could I say for Mr. Coxe? Of course, that nine hundred people should see the library daily, instead of one, is only fair to the nine hundred, and if there is gold in the books, is it not public property? If there is copper or slate in Helvellyn, shall not the public burn or hammer it out—and they say they will, of course—in spite of us? What does it signify to them how we poor old quiet readers in this mountain library feel? True, we know well enough,—what the nine hundred excursionist scholars don't—that the library can't be read quite through in a quarter of an hour; also, that there is a pleasure in real reading, quite different from that of turning pages; and that gold in a missal, or slate in a crag, may be more precious than in a bank or a chimney-pot. But how are these practical people to credit us,—these, who cannot read, nor ever will; and who have been taught that nothing is virtuous but care for their bellies, and nothing useful but what goes into them?

263. Whether to be credited or not, the real facts of the matter, made clear as they are in the following pages, can be briefly stated for the consideration of any candid person.

The arguments in favor of the new railway are in the main four, and may be thus answered.

1. "There are mineral treasures in the district capable of development."

Answer. It is a wicked fiction, got up by whosoever has got it up, simply to cheat shareholders. Every lead and copper vein in Cumberland has been known for centuries; the copper of Coniston does not pay; and there is none so rich in Helvellyn. And the main central volcanic rocks, through which the track lies, produce neither slate nor hematite, while[Pg 128] there is enough of them at Llanberis and Dalton to roof and iron-grate all England into one vast Bedlam, if it honestly perceives itself in need of that accommodation.

2. "The scenery must be made accessible to the public."

Answer. It is more than accessible already; the public are pitched into it head-foremost, and necessarily miss two-thirds of it. The Lake scenery really begins, on the south, at Lancaster, where the Cumberland hills are seen over Morecambe Bay; on the north, at Carlisle, where the moors of Skiddaw are seen over the rich plains between them and the Solway. No one who loves mountains would lose a step of the approach, from these distances, on either side. But the stupid herds of modern tourists let themselves be emptied, like coals from a sack, at Windermere and Keswick. Having got there, what the new railway has to do is to shovel those who have come to Keswick to Windermere, and to shovel those who have come to Windermere to Keswick. And what then?

3. "But cheap and swift transit is necessary for the working population, who otherwise could not see the scenery at all."

Answer. After all your shrieking about what the operatives spend in drink, can't you teach them to save enough out of their year's wages to pay for a chaise and pony for a day, to drive Missis and the Baby that pleasant twenty miles, stopping when they like, to unpack the basket on a mossy bank? If they can't enjoy the scenery that way, they can't any way; and all that your railroad company can do for them is only to open taverns and skittle grounds round Grasmere, which will soon, then, be nothing but a pool of drainage, with a beach of broken gingerbeer bottles; and their minds will be no more improved by contemplating the scenery of such a lake than of Blackpool.

4. What else is to be said? I protest I can find nothing, unless that engineers and contractors must live. Let them live, but in a more useful and honorable way than by keeping Old Bartholomew Fair under Helvellyn, and making a steam merry-go-round of the lake country.[Pg 129]

There are roads to be mended, where the parish will not mend them, harbors of refuge needed, where our deck-loaded ships are in helpless danger; get your commissions and dividends where you know that work is needed, not where the best you can do is to persuade pleasure-seekers into giddier idleness.

264. The arguments brought forward by the promoters of the railway may thus be summarily answered. Of those urged in the following pamphlet in defense of the country as it is, I care only myself to direct the reader's attention to one (see pp. 27, 28), the certainty, namely, of the deterioration of moral character in the inhabitants of every district penetrated by a railway. Where there is little moral character to be lost, this argument has small weight. But the Border peasantry of Scotland and England, painted with absolute fidelity by Scott and Wordsworth (for leading types out of this exhaustless portraiture, I may name Dandie Dinmont and Michael), are hitherto a scarcely injured race, whose strength and virtue yet survive to represent the body and soul of England before her days of mechanical decrepitude and commercial dishonor. There are men working in my own fields who might have fought with Henry the Fifth at Agincourt without being discerned from among his knights; I can take my tradesmen's word for a thousand pounds; my garden gate opens on the latch to the public road, by day and night, without fear of any foot entering but my own, and my girl-guests may wander by road, or moorland, or through every bosky dell of this wild wood, free as the heather bees or squirrels.

What effect, on the character of such a population, will be produced by the influx of that of the suburbs of our manufacturing towns, there is evidence enough, if the reader cares to ascertain the facts, in every newspaper on his morning table.

265. And now one final word concerning the proposed beneficial effect on the minds of those whom you send to corrupt us.[Pg 130]

I have said I take no selfish interest in this resistance to the railroad. But I do take an unselfish one. It is precisely because I passionately wish to improve the minds of the populace, and because I am spending my own mind, strength, and fortune, wholly on that object, that I don't want to let them see Helvellyn while they are drunk. I suppose few men now living have so earnestly felt—none certainly have so earnestly declared—that the beauty of nature is the blessedest and most necessary of lessons for men; and that all other efforts in education are futile till you have taught your people to love fields, birds, and flowers. Come then, my benevolent friends, join with me in that teaching. I have been at it all my life, and without pride, do solemnly assure you that I know how it is to be managed. I cannot indeed tell you, in this short preface, how, completely, to fulfill so glorious a task. But I can tell you clearly, instantly, and emphatically, in what temper you must set about it. Here are you, a Christian, a gentleman, and a trained scholar; there is your subject of education—a Godless clown, in helpless ignorance. You can present no more blessed offering to God than that human creature, raised into faith, gentleness, and the knowledge of the works of his Lord. But observe this—you must not hope to make so noble an offering to God of that which doth cost you nothing! You must be resolved to labor, and to lose, yourself, before you can rescue this overlabored lost sheep, and offer it alive to its Master. If then, my benevolent friend, you are prepared to take out your two pence, and to give them to the hosts here in Cumberland, saying—"Take care of him, and whatsoever thou spendest more, I will repay thee when I come to Cumberland myself," on these terms—oh my benevolent friends, I am with you, hand and glove, in every effort you wish to make for the enlightenment of poor men's eyes. But if your motive is, on the contrary, to put two pence into your own purse, stolen between the Jerusalem and Jericho of Keswick and Ambleside, out of the poor drunken traveler's pocket;—if your real object, in your charitable offering, is, not even to lend unto the Lord by giving to the[Pg 131] poor, but to lend unto the Lord by making a dividend out of the poor;—then, my pious friends, enthusiastic Ananias, pitiful Judas, and sanctified Korah, I will do my best in God's name, to stay your hands, and stop your tongues.

Brantwood, 22nd June, 1876.[Pg 132]


[19] Preface to a pamphlet (1876) entitled "A Protest against the Extension of Railways in the Lake District," compiled by Robert Somervell (Windermere, J. Garnett; London, Simpkin, Marshall & Co.). The pamphlet also contained a printed announcement as follows:—"The author of 'Modern Painters' earnestly requests all persons who may have taken interest in his writings, or who have any personal regard for him, to assist him now in the circulation of the inclosed paper, drawn up by his friend Mr. Somervell, for the defense of the Lake District of England, and to press the appeal, so justly and temperately made in it, on the attention of their personal friends."—Ed.

[20] See—the illustration being coincidently given as I correct this page for press—the description of the horrible service, and history of the fatal explosion of dynamite, on the once lovely estates of the Duke of Hamilton, in the Hamilton Advertiser of 10th and 17th June.


266. I have been asked by Mr. Horsfall to write a few words of introduction to the following papers. The trust is a frank one, for our friendship has been long and intimate enough to assure their author that my feelings and even practical convictions in many respects differ from his, and in some, relating especially to the subjects here treated of, are even opposed to his; so that my private letters (which, to speak truth, he never attends to a word of) are little more than a series of exhortations to him to sing—once for all—the beautiful Cavalier ditty of "Farewell, Manchester," and pour the dew of his artistic benevolence on less recusant ground. Nevertheless, as assuredly he knows much more of his own town than I do, and as his mind is evidently made up to do the best he can for it, the only thing left for me to do is to help him all I can in the hard task he has set himself, or, if I can't help, at least to bear witness to the goodness of the seed he has set himself to sow among thorns. For, indeed, the principles on which he is working are altogether true and sound; and the definitions and defense of them, in this pamphlet, are among the most important pieces of Art teaching which I have ever met with in recent English literature; in past Art-literature there cannot of course be anything parallel to them, since the difficulties to be met and mischiefs to be dealt with are wholly of to-day. And in all the practical suggestions and recom[Pg 133]mendations given in the following pages I not only concur, but am myself much aided as I read them in the giving form to my own plans for the museum at Sheffield; nor do I doubt that they will at once commend themselves to every intelligent and candid reader. But, to my own mind, the statements of principle on which these recommendations are based are far the more valuable part of the writings, for these are true and serviceable for all time, and in all places; while in simplicity and lucidity they are far beyond any usually to be found in essays on Art, and the political significance of the laws thus defined is really, I believe, here for the first time rightly grasped and illustrated.

267. Of these, however, the one whose root is deepest and range widest will be denied by many readers, and doubted by others, so that it may be well to say a word or two farther in its interpretation and defense—the saying, namely, that "faith cannot dwell in hideous towns," and that "familiarity with beauty is a most powerful aid to belief." This is a curious saying, in front of the fact that the primary force of infidelity in the Renaissance times was its pursuit of carnal beauty, and that nowadays (at least, so far as my own experience reaches) more faith may be found in the back streets of most cities than in the fine ones. Nevertheless the saying is wholly true, first, because carnal beauty is not true beauty; secondly, because, rightly judged, the fine streets of most modern towns are more hideous than the back ones; lastly—and this is the point on which I must enlarge—because universally the first condition to the believing there is Order in Heaven is the Sight of Order upon Earth; Order, that is to say, not the result of physical law, but of some spiritual power prevailing over it, as, to take instances from my own old and favorite subject, the ordering of the clouds in a beautiful sunset, which corresponds to a painter's invention of them, or the ordering of the colors on a bird's wing, or of the radiations of a crystal of hoarfrost or of sapphire, concerning any of which matters men, so called of science, are necessarily and forever silent, because the distribution of colors in spectra and[Pg 134] the relation of planes in crystals are final and causeless facts, orders, that is to say, not laws. And more than this, the infidel temper which is incapable of perceiving this spiritual beauty has an instant and constant tendency to delight in the reverse of it, so that practically its investigation is always, by preference, of forms of death or disease and every state of disorder and dissolution, the affectionate analysis of vice in modern novels being a part of the same science. And, to keep to my own special field of study—the order of clouds,—there is a grotesquely notable example of the connection between infidelity and the sense of ugliness in a paper in the last Contemporary Review, in which an able writer, who signs Vernon Lee, but whose personal view or purpose remains to the close of the essay inscrutable, has rendered with considerable acuteness and animation the course of a dialogue between one of the common modern men about town who are the parasites of their own cigars and two more or less weak and foolish friends of hesitatingly adverse instincts: the three of them, however, practically assuming their own wisdom to be the highest yet attained by the human race; and their own diversion on the mountainous heights of it being by the aspect of a so-called "preposterous" sunset, described in the following terms:—

A brilliant light, which seemed to sink out of the landscape all its reds and yellows, and with them all life; bleaching the yellowing cornfields and brown heath; but burnishing into demoniac[22] energy of color the pastures and oak woods, brilliant against the dark sky, as if filled with green fire.

Along the roadside the poppies, which an ordinary sunset makes flame, were quite extinguished, like burnt-out embers; the yellow hearts of the daisies were quite lost, merged into their shining white petals. And, striking against the windows of the old black and white checkered farm (a ghastly skeleton in this light), it made them not flare, nay, not redden in the faintest degree, but reflect a brilliant speck of white[Pg 135] light. Everything was unsubstantial, yet not as in a mist, nay, rather substantial, but flat, as if cut out of paper and pasted on the black branches and green leaves, the livid, glaring houses, with roofs of dead, scarce perceptible rod (as when an iron turning white-hot from red-hot in the stithy grows also dull and dim).

"It looks like the eve of the coming of Antichrist, as described in mediæval hymns," remarked Vere: "the sun, before setting nevermore to rise, sucking all life out of the earth, leaving it but a mound of livid cinders, barren and crumbling, through which the buried nations will easily break their way when they rise."

As I have above said, I do not discern the purpose of the writer of this paper; but it would be impossible to illustrate more clearly this chronic insanity of infidel thought which makes all nature spectral; while, with exactly correspondent and reflective power, whatever is dreadful or disordered in external things reproduces itself in disease of the human mind affected by them.

268. The correspondent relations of beauty to morality are illustrated in the following pages in a way which leaves little to be desired, and scarcely any room for dissent; but I have marked for my own future reference the following passages, of which I think it will further the usefulness of the book that the reader should initially observe the contents and connection.[23][Pg 136]

1 (p. 15, line 6—10). Our idea of beauty in all things depends on what we believe they ought to be and do.

2 (p. 17, line 8—17). Pleasure is most to be found in safe and pure ways, and the greatest happiness of life is to have a great many little happinesses.

3 (p. 24, line 10—30). The wonder and sorrow that in a country possessing an Established Church, no book exists which can be put into the hands of youth to show them the best things that can be done in life, and prevent their wasting it.[Pg 137]

4 (p. 28, line 21—36). There is every reason to believe that susceptibility to beauty can be gained through proper training in childhood by almost everyone.

5 (p. 29, line 33—35). But if we are to attain to either a higher morality or a strong love of beauty, such attainment must be the result of a strenuous effort and a strong will.

6 (p. 41, line 16—22). Rightness of form and aspect must first be shown to the people in things which interest[Pg 138] them, and about the rightness of appearance in which it is possible for them to care a great deal.

7 (p. 42, line 1—10). And, therefore, rightness of appearance of the bodies, and the houses, and the actions of the people of these large towns, is of more importance than rightness of appearance in what is usually called art, and pictures of noble action and passion and of beautiful scenery are of far greater value than art in things which cannot deeply affect human thought and feeling.

The practical suggestions which, deduced from these principles, occupy the greater part of Mr. Horsfall's second paper, exhibit an untried group of resources in education; and it will be to myself the best encouragement in whatever it has been my hope to institute of Art School at Oxford if the central influence of the University may be found capable of extension by such means, in methods promoting the general happiness of the people of England.

Brantwood, 28th June, 1883.[Pg 139]


[21] Introduction by Mr. Ruskin to a pamphlet entitled "The Study of Beauty and Art in Large Towns, two papers by T. C. Horsfall" (London, Macmillan & Co., 1883). The first of the two papers was originally read at the Congress at Nottingham of the Social Science Association, and the second at the Manchester Field Naturalists' Society.—Ed.

[22] See "Art of England."

[23] The passages referred to are as follows:—

1. "Our idea of what beauty is in human being's, in pictures, in houses, in chairs, in animals, in cities, in everything, in short, which we know to have a use, in the main depends on what we believe that human beings, pictures, and the rest ought to be and do.

2. "Every bank in every country lane, every bush, every tree, the sky by day and by night, every aspect of nature, is full of beautiful form or color, or of both, for those whose eyes and hearts and brains have been opened to perceive beauty. Richter has somewhere said that man's greatest defect is that he has such a lot of small ones. With equal truth it may be said that the greatest happiness man can have is to have a great many little happinesses, and therefore a strong love of beauty, which enables almost every square inch of unspoiled country to give us pleasant sensations, is one of the best possessions we can have.

3. "It must be evident to everyone who watches life carefully that hardly anyone reaches the objects which all should live for who does not strive to reach them, and that at present not one person in a hundred so much as knows what are the objects which should be sought in life. It is astounding, therefore, that in a country which possesses an Established Church, richly endowed universities, and even several professors of education, no book exists which can be put into the hands of every intelligent youth, and of every intelligent father and mother, showing what our wisest and best men believe are the best things which can be done in life, and what is the kind of training which makes the doing of these things most easy. It is often said that each of us can profit only by his own experience, but no one believes that. No one can see how many well-meaning persons mistake means for ends and drift into error and sin, simply because neither they nor their parents have known what course should be steered, and what equipment is needed, in the voyage of life,—no one can see this and doubt that a 'guidebook to life,' containing the results of the comparison of the experiences of even half-a-dozen able and sincere men, would save countless people from wasting their lives as most lives are now wasted.

4. "That which is true with regard to music is true with regard to beauty of form and color. Because a great many grown-up people, in spite of great efforts, find it impossible to sing correctly or even to perceive any pleasantness in music, it used to be commonly supposed that a great many people are born without the power of gaining love of, and skill in, music. Now it is known that it is a question of early training, that in every thousand children there are very few,—not, I believe, on an average, more than two or three,—who cannot gain the power of singing correctly and of enjoying music, if they are taught well in childhood while their nervous system can still easily form habits and has not yet formed the habit of being insensible to differences of sound.

"There is every reason to believe that susceptibility to beauty of form and color can also be gained through proper training in childhood by almost everyone.

5. "In such circumstances as ours there is no such thing as 'a wise passiveness.' If we are to attain to a high morality or to strong love of beauty, attainment must be the result of strenuous effort, of strong will.

6. "The principle I refer to is, that, as art is the giving of right or beautiful form, or of beautiful or right appearance, if we desire to make people take keen interest in art, if we desire to make them love good art, we must show it them when applied to things which themselves are very interesting to them, and about the rightness of appearance of which it is therefore possible for them to care a great deal.

7. "Success in bringing the influence of art to bear on the masses of the population in large towns, or on any set of people who have to earn their bread and have not time to acquire an unhealthy appetite for nonsense verses or nonsense pictures, will certainly only be attained by persons who know that art is important just in proportion to the importance of that which it clothes, and who themselves feel that rightness of appearance of the bodies, and the houses, and the actions, in short of the whole life, of the population of those large towns which are now, or threaten soon to be, 'England,' is of far greater importance than rightness of appearance in all that which is usually called 'art,' and who feel, to speak of only the fine arts, that rightness of appearance in pictures of noble action and passion, and of beautiful scenery, love of which is almost a necessary of mental health, is of far greater importance than art can be in things which cannot deeply affect human thought and feeling."—Ed.





[Pg 141]

269. I do not think the causes of the color of transparent water have been sufficiently ascertained. I do not mean that effect of color which is simply optical, as the color of the sea, which is regulated by the sky above or the state of the atmosphere, but I mean the settled color of transparent water, which has, when analyzed, been found pure. Now, copper will tinge water green, and that very strongly; but water thus impregnated will not be transparent, and will deposit the copper it holds in solution upon any piece of iron which may be thrown into it. There is a lake in a defile on the northwest flank of Snowdon, which is supplied by a stream which previously passes over several veins of copper; this lake is, of course, of a bright verdigris green, but it is not transparent. Now the coloring effect, of which I speak, is well seen in the water of the Rhone and Rhine. The former of these rivers, when it enters the Lake of Geneva, after having received the torrents descending from the mountains of the Valais, is fouled with mud, or white with the calcareous matter which it holds in solution. Having deposited this in the Lake Leman[25] (thereby gradually forming an immense delta), it issues from the lake perfectly pure, and flows through the[Pg 142] streets of Geneva so transparent, that the bottom can be seen twenty feet below the surface, jet so blue, that you might imagine it to be a solution of indigo. In like manner, the Rhine, after purifying itself in the Lake of Constance, flows forth, colored of a clear green, and this under all circumstances and in all weathers. It is sometimes said that this arises from the torrents which supply these rivers generally flowing from the glaciers, the green and blue color of which may have given rise to this opinion; but the color of the ice is purely optical, as the fragments detached from the mass appear white. Perhaps some correspondent can afford me information on the subject.

J. R.[26]

March, 1834.[Pg 143]


[24] From London's Magazine of Natural History (London, Longmans & Co., 1834), vol. vii., No. 41, pp. 438-9, being its author's earliest contribution to literature.—Ed.

[25] This lake, however, if the poet have spoken truly, is not very feculent:—

"Lake Leman woos me with its crystal face,
The mirror where the stars and mountains view
The stillness of their aspect in each trace
Its clear depth yields of their far height and hue."


[26] In the number of the magazine in which this note appeared was an article by "E. L." on the perforation of a leaden pipe by rats, upon which, in a subsequent number (Vol. vii., p. 592), J. R. notes as follows: "E. S. has been, surely, too inattentive to proportions: there is an inconsistency in the dimensions of a leaden pipe about 1¼ in. in external diameter, with a bore of about ¾ in. in diameter; thus leaving a solid circumference of metal varying from ½ in. to ¾ in. in thickness.—J. R., Sept. 1834."—Ed.


270. The granite ranges of Mont Blanc are as interesting to the geologist as they are to the painter. The granite is dark red, often inclosing veins of quartz, crystallized and compact, and likewise well-formed crystals of schorl. The average elevation of its range of peaks, which extends from Mont Blanc to the Tète Noire, is about 12,000 English feet above the level of the sea. [The highest culminating point is 15,744 feet.] The Aiguille de Servoz, and that of Dru, are excellent examples of the pyramidal and spiratory formation which these granite ranges in general assume. They rise out of immense fields of snow, but, being themselves too steep for snow to rest upon, form red, bare, and inaccessible peaks, which even the chamois scarcely dares to climb. Their bases appear sometimes abutted (if I may so speak) by mica slate, which forms the southeast side of the Valley of Chamonix, whose flanks, if intersected, might appear as (in fig. 72), a, granite, forming on the one side (B) the Mont Blanc, on the other (C) the Mont Breven; b, mica slate resting on the base of Mont Blanc, and which contains amianthus and quartz, in which capillary crystals of titanium occur; c, calcareous rock; d, alluvium, forming the Valley of Chamonix. I should have mentioned that the granite appears to contain a small quantity of gold, as that metal is found among the granite débris and siliceous sand of the river Arve [Bakewell, i. 375]; and I[Pg 144] have two or three specimens in which chlorite (both compact and in minute crystals) occupies the place of mica.

J. R.

March, 1834.

With this paper were printed some observations on it by the Rev. W. B. Clarke, after which (p. 648) appears the following note by J. R.

271. "Twisted Strata.—The contortions of the limestone at the fall of the Nant d'Arpenaz, on the road from Geneva to Chamonix, are somewhat remarkable. The rock is a hard dark brown limestone, forming part of a range of secondary cliffs, which rise from 500 feet to 1000 feet above the defile which they border. The base itself is about 800 feet high. The strata bend very regularly except at e and f,[28] where they appear to have been fractured.[Pg 145]

To what Properties in Nature is it owing that the Stones in Buildings, formed originally of the frailest Materials, gradually become indurated by Exposure to the Atmosphere and by Age, and stand the Wear and Tear of Time and Weather every bit as well, in some instances much better, than the hardest and most compact Limestones and Granite?[29]

272. In addition to the fact mentioned by Mr. Hunter[30] relative to the induration of soft sandstone, I would adduce an excellent example of the same effect in the cathedral of Basle, in Switzerland. The cathedral is wholly built of a soft coarse-grained sandstone, of so deep a red as to resemble long-burned brick. The numerous and delicate ornaments and fine tracery on the exterior are in a state of excellent preservation, and present none of the moldering appearance so common in old cathedrals that are built of stone which, when quarried, was much harder than this sandstone. The pavement in the interior is composed of the same material; and, as almost every slab is a tomb, it is charged with the arms, names, and often statues in low relief, of those who lie below, delicately sculptured in the soft material. Yet, though these sculptures have been worn for ages by the feet of multitudes, they are very little injured; they still stand out in bold and distinct relief: not an illegible letter, not an untraceable ornament is to be found; and it is said, and I believe with truth, that they have now grown so hard as not to be in the least degree farther worn by the continual tread of thousands; and that the longer the stone is exposed to the air, the harder it becomes. The cathedral was built in 1019.[Pg 146]

273. The causes of the different effects of air on stone must be numerous, and the investigation of them excessively difficult. With regard, first, to rocks en masse, if their structure be crystalline, or their composition argillaceous, the effect of the air will, I think, ordinarily, be found injurious. Thus, in granite, which has a kind of parallelogrammatic cleavage, water introduces itself into the fissures, and the result, in a sharp frost, will be a disintegration of the rocks en masse; and, if the felspar be predominant in the composition of the granite, it will be subject to a rapid decomposition. The morvine of some of the Chamouni and Allée Blanche glaciers is composed of a white granite, being chiefly composed of quartz and felspar, with a little chlorite. The sand and gravel at the edge of these glaciers appears far more the result of decomposition than attrition. All finely foliated rocks, slates, etc., are liable to injury from frost or wet weather. The road of the Simplon, on the Italian side, is in some parts dangerous in, or after, wet weather, on account of the rocks of slate continually falling from the overhanging mountains above; this, however, is mere disintegration, not decomposition. Not so with the breccias of Central Switzerland. The rock of Righi is composed of pebbles of different kinds, joined by a red argillaceous gluten. When this rock has not been exposed to the air, it is very hard: you may almost as easily break the pebbles as detach them from their matrix; but, when exposed for a few years to wind and weather, the matrix becomes soft, and the pebbles may be easily detached. I was struck with the difference between this rock and a breccia at Epinal, in France, where the matrix was a red sandstone, like that of the cathedral at Basle. Here, though the rock had every appearance of having been long exposed to the air, it was as hard as iron; and it was utterly impossible to detach any of the pebbles from the bed: it was difficult even to break the rock at all. I cannot positively state that the gluten in these sandstones is calcareous, but I suppose it to have been so. Compact calcareous rock, as far as I remember, appears to be subject to no injury from the weather. Many churches[Pg 147] in Italy, and almost the whole cities of Venice and Genoa, are built of very fine marble; and the perfection of the delicate carvings, however aged, is most remarkable. I remember a church, near Pavia, coated with the finest and most expensive marbles; a range of beautifully sculptured medallions running round its base, though old, were as distinct and fine in their execution as if they had just come out of the sculptor's studio. If, therefore, the gluten of the sandstone be either calcareous or siliceous, it will naturally produce the effect above alluded to, though it is certainly singular that the stone should be soft when first quarried. Sandstone is a rock in which you seldom see many cracks or fissures in the strata: they are generally continuous and solid. Now, there may be a certain degree of density in the mass, which could not be increased without producing, as in granite, fissures running through it: the particles may be supposed to be held in a certain degree of tension, and there may be a tendency to what the French call assaissement (I do not know the English term), which is, nevertheless, resisted by the stone en masse; and a quantity of water may likewise be held, not in a state of chemical combination, but in one of close mixture with the rock. On being broken or quarried, the assaissement may take place, the particles of stone may draw closer together, the attraction become stronger; and, on the exposure to the air, the water, however intimately combined, will, in a process of years, be driven off, occasioning the consolidation of the calcareous, and the near approach of the siliceous, particles, and a consequent gradual induration of the whole body of the stone. I offer this supposition with all diffidence; there may be many other causes, which cannot be developed until proper experiments have been made. It would be interesting to ascertain the relative hardness of different specimens of sandstone, taken from different depths in a bed, the surface of which was exposed to the air, as of specimens exposed to the air for different lengths of time.

J. R.

Herne Hill, July 25, 1836.[Pg 148]


[27] London's Magazine of Natural History, Vol. vii., pp. 644-5. The note was illustrated by engravings from two sketches by the author of the Aiguille de Servoz and of the Aiguille Dru, and by a diagram explanatory of its last sentence but one.—Ed.

[28] "A small neat copy of a sketch carefully taken on the spot," which, according to the editor of the magazine, accompanied this communication, was not, however, published. See the magazine.—Ed.

[29] Loudon's Magazine of Natural History, Vol. ix., No. 65, pp. 488-90.—Ed.

[30] The question here discussed was originally asked in the magazine (Vol. ix., pp. 379-80) by Mr. W. Perceval Hunter with reference to the condition of Bodiam Castle, in Sussex.—Ed.


274. The difference in temperature between river and spring water, which gives rise to the query of your correspondent Indigena (p. 491),[32] may be the result of many causes, the principal of which is, however, without doubt, the interior heat of the earth. It is a well known fact, that this heat increases in a considerable ratio as we descend, making a difference of several degrees between the temperature of the earth at its surface and at depths of 500 or 600 feet; raising, of course, the temperature of all springs which have their source at even moderate depths, and entirely securing them from the effects of frost, which, it is well known, cannot penetrate the earth to a greater depth than 3 or 4 ft.

275. Many instances might be given of the strong effect of this interior heat. The glaciers of the Alps, for instance, frequently cover an extent of three or four square leagues, with a mass of ice 400, 500, or even 600 feet deep, thus[Pg 149] entirely preventing the access of exterior heat to the soil; yet the radiation of heat from the ground itself is so powerful as to dissolve the ice very rapidly, and to occasion streams of no inconsiderable size beneath the ice, whose temperature, in summer, is, I believe, as far as can be ascertained, not many degrees below that of streams exposed to the air; and the radiation of heat from the water of these streams forms vaults under the ice, which are frequently 40 ft. or 50 ft. above the water; and which are formed, as a glance will show, not by the force of the stream, which would only tear itself a broken cave sufficient for its passage, but by the heat which radiates from it, and gives the arch its immense height, and beautifully regular form.

These streams continue to flow in winter as well as in summer, although in less quantity; and it is this process which chiefly prevents the glacier from increasing in size; for the melting at the surface is, in comparison, very inconsiderable, even in summer, the wind being cold, the sun having little power, and slight frosts being frequent during the night. It is also this melting beneath the ice (subglacial, suppose we call it) which loosens the ice from the ground, and occasions, or rather permits, the perpetual downward movement, with which

"The glacier's cold and restless mass
Moves onward day by day."

276. But more forcible and striking evidence is afforded by experiments made in mines of great depth. Between 60 ft. and 80 ft. down, the temperature of the earth is, I believe, the same at all times and in all places; and below this depth it gradually increases. Near Bex, in the Valais, there is a perpendicular shaft 677 ft. deep, or about 732 ft. English, with water at the bottom, the temperature of which was ascertained by Saussure. He does not tell us whether he used Réaumur's or the centesimal thermometer; but the result of his experiment was this:—In a lateral gallery, connected with the main shaft, but deserted, and, therefore, unaffected by[Pg 150] breath or the heat of lamps, at 321 ft. 10 in. below the surface, the temperature of the water and the air was exactly the same, 11½°; or, if the centesimal thermometer was used, 52⅘ Fahr.; if Réaumur's, 57⅞ Fahr.

277. In another gallery, 564 feet below the surface, the water and air had likewise the same temperature, 12½°, either 54⅘ or 6O¼ Fahr. The water at the bottom, 677 feet, was 14°, 57½ or 63¼ Fahr. The ratio in which the heat increases, therefore, increased as we descend, since a difference of 113 feet between the depth of the bottom of the shaft and the lowest gallery makes a greater difference in temperature than the difference of 243 feet between the lowest and upper gallery. This heat is the more striking when it is considered that the water is impregnated with salt; indeed, Saussure appears inclined to consider it accidental, perhaps occasioned by the combustion of pyrites, or other causes in the interior of the mountain ("Voyages dans les Alpes," tom. iv., c. 50). All experiments of this kind, indeed, are liable to error, from the frequent occurrence of warm springs, and other accidental causes of increase in temperature. The water at the bottom of deep lakes is always found several degrees colder than the atmosphere, even when the water at the surface is warmer: but that may be accounted for by the difference in the specific gravity of water at different temperatures; and, as the heat of the sun and atmosphere in summer is greater than the mean heat of the earth at moderate depths, the water at the bottom, even if it becomes of the same heat with the earth, must be colder than that at the surface, which, from its exposure to the sun, becomes frequently warmer than the air. The same causes affect the temperature of the sea; and the greater saturation of the water below with salt renders it yet more susceptible of cold. Under-currents from the poles, and the sinking of the water of low temperature, which results from the melting of the icebergs which float into warmer latitudes, contribute still farther to lower the temperature of the deep sea. If, then, the temperature of the sea at great depths is found not many degrees lower than that at the surface, it[Pg 151] would be a striking proof of the effect produced by the heat of the earth; but I am not aware of the results of the experiments which have been made on this subject.

278. We must, then, rest satisfied with the well-ascertained fact, that the temperature of the earth, even at depths of a few feet, never descends, in temperate latitudes, to the freezing point; and that at the depth of 60 feet it is always the same, in winter much higher, in summer considerably lower, than that of the atmosphere. Spring water, then, which has its source at a considerable depth, will, when it first rises, be of this mean temperature; while, after it has flowed for some distance, it becomes of the temperature of the atmosphere, or, in summer, even warmer, owing to the action of the sun, both directly and reflected or radiated from its bottom. Besides this equable temperature in the water itself, spring or well water is usually covered; and, even if exposed, if the well is very deep, the water will not freeze, or at least very slightly; for frost does not act with its full power, except where there is a free circulation of air. In open ponds, wherever bushes hang over the water, the ice is weak. Indigena's supposition, that there are earthy particles in river water, which render it more susceptible of cold than spring water, cannot be true; for then the relative temperatures would be the same in winter and in summer, which is not the case; and, besides, there are frequently more earthy particles in mineral springs, or even common land springs, than in clear river water, provided it has not been fouled by extraneous matter; for it has a tendency to deposit the earthy particles which it holds in suspension.

279. It is evident, also, that the supposition of Mr. Carr (Vol. v., p. 395) relative to anchor frosts, that the stones at the bottom acquire a greater degree of cold, or, to speak more correctly, lose more heat, than the water, is erroneous. J. G. has given the reasons at p. 770; and the glaciers of Switzerland afford us an example. When a stone is deposited on a glacier of any considerable size, but not larger than 1 foot or 18 inches in diameter, it becomes penetrated with the heat of[Pg 152] the sun, melts the ice below it, and sinks into the glacier. But this effect does not cease, as might be supposed, when the stone sinks beneath the water which it has formed; on the contrary, it continues to absorb heat from the rays of the sun, to keep the water above it liquid by its radiation, and to sink deeper into the body of the glacier, until it gets down beyond the reach of the sun's rays, when the water of the well which it has formed is no longer kept liquid, and the stone is buried in the ice. In summer, however, the water is kept liquid; and circular wells, formed in this manner, are of frequent occurrence on the glaciers, sometimes, in the morning, covered by a thin crust of ice.

Thus, the stones at the bottom of streams must tend to raise, rather than lower, this temperature. Is it possible that, in the agitation of a stream at its bottom, if violent, momentary and minute vacua may be formed, tending to increase the intensity of the cold?

Herne Hill, Sept. 2, 1836.[Pg 153]


[31] London's Magazine of Natural History, vol. ix., pp. 533-536.—Ed.

[32] The query was as follows:—

An Inquiry for the Cause of the Difference in Temperature of River Water and Spring Water, both in Summer and Winter.—In the summer time the river water is much warmer than that from a spring; during the severe frosts of winter it is colder; and when the stream is covered over with ice, the spring, that is, well or pump water is unaffected by frost. Does this difference proceed from the exposure of the surface of the river water, in summer, to the sun's direct influence, and, in winter, to that of frost; while the well water, being covered, is protected from their power? Or is there in river water, from the earthy particles it contains, a greater susceptibility of heat and cold?—Indigena. April 19, 1836.Ed.


280. The comparison and estimation of the relative advantages of separate departments of science is a task which is always partially executed, because it is never entered upon with an unbiased mind; for, since it is only the accurate knowledge of a science which can enable us to present its beauty, or estimate its utility, the branches of knowledge with which we are most familiar will always appear the most important. The endeavor, therefore, to judge of the relative beauty or interest of the sciences is utterly hopeless. Let the astronomer boast of the magnificence of his speculations, the mathematician of the immutability of his facts, the chemist of the infinity of his combinations, and we will admit that they all have equal ground for their enthusiasm. But the highest standard of estimation is that of utility. The far greater proportion of mankind, the uninformed, who are unable to perceive the beauty of the sciences whose benefits they experience, are the true, the just, the only judges of their relative importance. It is they who feel what impartial men of learning know, that the mass of general knowledge is a perfect and beautiful body, among whose members there should be no schism, and whose prosperity must always be greatest when none are partially pursued, and none unduly rejected. We do not, therefore, advance any proud and unjustifiable claims to the superiority of that branch of science for the furtherance of which this society has been formed over all others; but we zealously come forward to[Pg 154] deprecate the apathy with which it has long been regarded, to dissipate the prejudices which that apathy alone could have engendered, and to vindicate its claims to an honorable and equal position among the proud thrones of its sister sciences. We do not bring meteorology forward as a pursuit adapted for the occupation of tedious leisure, or the amusement of a careless hour. Such qualifications are no inducements to its pursuit by men of science and learning, and to these alone do we now address ourselves. Neither do we advance it on the ground of its interest or beauty, though it is a science possessing both in no ordinary degree. As to its beauty, it may be remarked that it is not calculated to harden the mind it strengthens, and bind it down to the measurement of magnitudes and estimation of quantities, destroying all higher feelings, all finer sensibilities: it is not to be learned among the gaseous exhalations of the deathful laboratory; it has no dwelling in the cold caves of the dark earth; it is not to be followed up among the charnel houses of creation. But it is a science of the pure air, and of the bright heaven; its thoughts are amidst the loveliness of creation; it leads the mind, as well as the eye, to the morning mist, and the noonday glory, and the twilight-cloud, to the purple peace of the mountain heaven, to the cloudy repose of the green valley; now expatiating in the silence of stormless ether, now on the rushing of the wings of the wind. It is indeed a knowledge which must be felt to be, in its very essence, full of the soul of the beautiful. For its interest, it is universal, unabated in every place, and in all time. He, whose kingdom is the heaven, can never meet with an uninteresting space, can never exhaust the phenomena of an hour; he is in a realm of perpetual change, of eternal motion, of infinite mystery. Light and darkness, and cold and heat, are to him as friends of familiar countenance, but of infinite variety of conversation; and while the geologist yearns for the mountain, the botanist for the field, and the mathematician for the study, the meteorologist, like a spirit of a higher order than any, rejoices in the kingdoms of the air.[Pg 155]

281. But, as we before said, it is neither for its interest, nor for its beauty, that we recommend the study of meteorology. It involves questions of the highest practical importance, and the solution of which will be productive of most substantial benefit to those classes who can least comprehend the speculations from which these advantages are derived. Times and seasons and climates, calms and tempests, clouds and winds, whose alternations appear to the inexperienced mind the confused consequences of irregular, indefinite, and accidental causes, arrange themselves before the meteorologist in beautiful succession of undisturbed order, in direct derivation from definite causes; it is for him to trace the path of the tempest round the globe, to point out the place whence it arose, to foretell the time of its decline, to follow the hours around the earth, as she "spins beneath her pyramid of night," to feel the pulses of ocean, to pursue the course of its currents and its changes, to measure the power, direction, and duration of mysterious and invisible influences, and to assign constant and regular periods to the seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, which we know shall not cease, till the universe be no more. It may be thought we are exaggerating the effects of a science which is yet in its infancy. But it must be remembered that we are not speaking of its attained, but of its attainable power: it is the young Hercules for the fostering of whose strength the Meteorological Society has been formed.

282. There is one point, it must now be observed, in which the science of meteorology differs from all others. A Galileo, or a Newton, by the unassisted workings of his solitary mind, may discover the secrets of the heavens, and form a new system of astronomy. A Davy in his lonely meditations on the crags of Cornwall, or in his solitary laboratory, might discover the most sublime mysteries of nature, and trace out the most intricate combinations of her elements. But the meteorologist is impotent if alone; his observations are useless; for they are made upon a point, while the speculations to be derived from them must be on space. It is of no avail that[Pg 156] he changes his position, ignorant of what is passing behind him and before; he desires to estimate the movements of space, and can only observe the dancing of atoms; he would calculate the currents of the atmosphere of the world, while he only knows the direction of a breeze. It is perhaps for this reason that the cause of meteorology has hitherto been so slightly supported; no progress can be made by the most gigantic efforts of a solitary intellect, and the co-operation demanded was difficult to obtain, because it was necessary that the individuals should think, observe, and act simultaneously, though separated from each other by distances on the greatness of which depended the utility of the observations.

283. The Meteorological Society, therefore, has been formed, not for a city, nor for a kingdom, but for the world. It wishes to be the central point, the moving power of a vast machine, and it feels that unless it can be this, it must be powerless; if it cannot do all, it can do nothing. It desires to have at its command, at stated periods, perfect systems of methodical and simultaneous observations,—it wishes its influence and its power to be omnipotent over the globe, so that it may be able to know, at any given instant, the state of the atmosphere at every point on its surface. Let it not be supposed that this is a chimerical imagination, the vain dream of a few philosophical enthusiasts. It is co-operation which we now come forward to request, in full confidence, that if our efforts are met with a zeal worthy of the cause, our associates will be astonished, individually, by the result of their labors in a body. Let none be discouraged because they are alone, or far distant from their associates. What was formerly weakness will now have become strength. Let the pastor of the Alps observe the variations of his mountain winds; let the voyagers send us notes of the changes on the surface of the sea; let the solitary dweller in the American prairie observe the passages of the storms, and the variations of the climate; and each, who alone would have been powerless, will find himself a part of one mighty mind, a ray of light entering into one vast eye, a member of a multitudinous power, con[Pg 157]tributing to the knowledge, and aiding the efforts, which will be capable of solving the most deeply hidden problems of nature, penetrating into the most occult causes, and reducing to principle and order the vast multitude of beautiful and wonderful phenomena by which the wisdom and benevolence of the Supreme Deity regulates the course of the times and the seasons, robes the globe with verdure and fruitfulness, and adapts it to minister to the wants, and contribute to the felicity, of the innumerable tribes of animated existence.

Oxford University.
[Pg 158]


[33] From the "Transactions of the Meteorological Society," Vol. i., pp. 56-9 (London, 1839). The full title of the paper was "Remarks on the Present State of Meteorological Science." The Society was instituted in 1823, but appears to have published no previous transactions.—Ed.


284. The speaker's purpose was to exhibit the development of the common forms of branch, in dicotyledonous trees, from the fixed type of the annual shoot. Three principal modes of increase and growth might be distinguished in all accumulative change, namely:—

1. Simple aggregation, having no periodical or otherwise defined limit, and subject only to laws of cohesion and crystallization, as in inorganic matter.

2. Addition of similar parts to each other, under some law fixing their limits and securing their unity.

3. Enlargement, or systematic change in arrangement, of a typical form, as in the growth of the members of an animal.

285. The growth of trees came under the second of these heads. A tree did not increase in stem or boughs as the wrist and hand of a child increased to the wrist and hand of a man; but it was built up by additions of similar parts, as a city is increased by the building of new rows of houses.

Any annual shoot was most conveniently to be considered as a single rod, which would always grow vertically if possible.

Every such rod or pillar was, in common timber trees, typically either polygonal in section, or rectangular.

If polygonal, the leaves were arranged on it in a spiral order, as in the elm or oak.

If rectangular, the leaves were arranged on it in pairs, set alternately at right angles to each other.

Intermediate forms connected each of these types with those of monocotyledonous trees. The structure of the arbor vitæ[Pg 159] might be considered as typically representing the link between the rectangular structure and that of monocotyledons; and that of the pine between the polygonal structure and that of monocotyledons.

Every leaf during its vitality secreting carbon from the atmosphere, with the elements of water, formed a certain quantity of woody tissue, which extended down the outside of the tree to the ground, and farther to the extremities of the roots. The mode in which this descending masonry was added appeared to depend on the peculiar functions of cambium, and (the speaker believed) was as yet unexplained by botanists.

286. Every leaf, besides forming this masonry all down the tree, protected a bud at the base of its own stalk. From this bud, unless rendered abortive, a new shoot would spring next year. Now, supposing that out of the leaf-buds on each shoot of a pentagonal tree, only five at its extremity or on its side were permitted to develop themselves, even under this limitation the number of shoots developed from a single one in the seventh year would be 78,125. The external form of a healthily grown tree at any period of its development was therefore composed of a mass of sprays, whose vitality was approximately distributed over the surface of the tree to an equal depth. The branches beneath at once supported, and were fed by, this orbicular field, or animated external garment of vegetation, from every several leaf of which, as from an innumerable multitude of small green fountains, the streams of woody fiber descended, met, and united as rivers do, and gathered their full flood into the strength of the stem.

287. The principal errors which had been committed by artists in drawing trees had arisen from their regarding the bough as ramifying irregularly, and somewhat losing in energy towards the extremity; whereas the real boughs threw their whole energy, and multiplied their substance, towards the extremities, ranking themselves in more or less cup-shaped tiers round the trunk, and forming a compact united surface at the exterior of the tree.[Pg 160]

288. In the course of arrival at this form, the bough, throughout its whole length, showed itself to be influenced by a force like that of an animal's instinct. Its minor curves and angles were all subjected to one strong ruling tendency and law of advance, dependent partly on the aim of every shoot to raise itself upright, partly on the necessity which each was under to yield due place to the neighboring leaves, and obtain for itself as much light and air as possible. It had indeed been ascertained that vegetable tissue was liable to contractions and expansion (under fixed mechanical conditions) by light, heat, moisture, etc. But vegetable tissue in the living branch did not contract nor expand under external influence alone. The principle of life manifested itself either by contention with, or felicitous recognition of, external force. It accepted with a visible, active, and apparently joyful concurrence, the influences which led the bough towards its due place in the economy of the tree; and it obeyed reluctantly, partially, and with distorted curvatures, those which forced it to violate the typical organic form. The attention of painters of foliage had seldom been drawn with sufficient accuracy to the lines either of branch curvature, or leaf contour, as expressing these subtle laws of incipient volition; but the relative merit of the great schools of figure design might, in absence of all other evidence, be determined, almost without error, by observing the precision of their treatment of leaf curvature. The leaf-painting round the head of Ariosto by Titian, in the National Gallery, might be instanced.

289. The leaf thus differed from the flower in forming and protecting behind it, not only the bud in which was the form of a new shoot like itself, but a piece of permanent work, and produced substance, by which every following shoot could be placed under different circumstances from its predecessor. Every leaf labored to solidify this substance during its own life; but the seed left by the flower matured only as the flower perished.

This difference in the action and endurance of the flower and leaf had been applied by nearly all great nations as a type[Pg 161] of the variously active and productive states of life among individuals or commonwealths. Chaucer's poem of the "Flower and Leaf" is the most definite expression of the mediæval feeling in this respect, while the fables of the rape of Proserpine and of Apollo and Daphne embody that of the Greeks. There is no Greek goddess corresponding to the Flora of the Romans. Their Flora is Persephone, "the bringer of death." She plays for a little while in the Sicilian fields, gathering flowers, then snatched away by Pluto, receives her chief power as she vanishes from our sight, and is crowned in the grave. Daphne, on the other hand, is the daughter of one of the great Arcadian river gods, and of the earth; she is the type of the river mist filling the rocky vales of Arcadia; the sun, pursuing this mist from dell to dell, is Apollo pursuing Daphne; where the mist is protected from his rays by the rock shadows, the laurel and other richest vegetation spring by the river-sides, so that the laurel-leaf becomes the type, in the Greek mind, of the beneficent ministry and vitality of the rivers and the earth, under the beams of sunshine; and therefore it is chosen to form the signet-crown of highest honor for gods or men, honor for work born of the strength and dew of the earth and informed by the central light of heaven; work living, perennial, and beneficent.

J. R. [Pg 162]


[34] Read by Mr. Ruskin at the weekly evening meeting of the Royal Institution (see Proceedings, vol. iii., pp. 358-60), April 19, 1861.—Ed.


290. The purpose of the discourse was to trace some of the influences which have produced the present external forms of the stratified mountains of Savoy, and the probable extent and results of the future operation of such influences.

The subject was arranged under three heads:—

I. The Materials of the Savoy Alps.
II. The Mode of their Formation.
III. The Mode of their subsequent Sculpture.

291. I. Their Materials.—The investigation was limited to those Alps which consist, in whole or in part, either of Jura limestone, of Neocomian beds, or of the Hippurite limestone, and include no important masses of other formations. All these rocks are marine deposits; and the first question to be considered with respect to the development of mountains out of them is the kind of change they must undergo in being dried. Whether prolonged through vast periods of time, or hastened by heat and pressure, the drying and solidification of such rocks involved their contraction, and usually, in consequence, their being traversed throughout by minute fissures. Under certain conditions of pressure, these fissures take the aspect of slaty cleavage; under others, they become irregular cracks, dividing all the substance of the stone. If these are not filled, the rock would become a mere heap of débris, and be incapable of establishing itself in any bold form. This is provided against by a metamorphic action, which either arranges the particles of the rock, throughout, in new and more[Pg 163] crystalline conditions, or else causes some of them to separate from the rest, to traverse the body of the rock, and arrange themselves in its fissures; thus forming a cement, usually of finer and purer substance than the rest of the stone. In either case the action tends continually to the purification and segregation of the elements of the stone. The energy of such action depends on accidental circumstances: first, on the attractions of the component elements among themselves; secondly, on every change of external temperature and relation. So that mountains are at different periods in different stages of health (so to call it) or disease. We have mountains of a languid temperament, mountains with checked circulations, mountains in nervous fevers, mountains in atrophy and decline.

292. This change in the structure of existing rocks is traceable through continuous gradations, so that a black mud or calcareous slime is imperceptibly modified into a magnificently hard and crystalline substance, inclosing nests of beryl, topaz, and sapphire, and veined with gold. But it cannot be determined how far, or in what localities, these changes are yet arrested; in the plurality of instances they are evidently yet in progress. It appears rational to suppose that as each rock approaches to its perfect type the change becomes slower; its perfection being continually neared, but never reached; its change being liable also to interruption or reversal by new geological phenomena. In the process of this change, rocks expand or contract; and, in portions, their multitudinous fissures give them a ductility or viscosity like that of glacier-ice on a larger scale. So that many formations are best to be conceived as glaciers, or frozen fields of crag, whose depth is to be measured in miles instead of fathoms, whose crevasses are filled with solvent flame, with vapor, with gelatinous flint, or with crystallizing elements of mingled natures; the whole mass changing its dimensions and flowing into new channels, though by gradations which cannot be measured, and in periods of time of which human life forms no appreciable unit.[Pg 164]

293. II. Formation.—Mountains are to be arranged, with respect to their structure, under two great classes—those which are cut out of the beds of which they are composed, and those which are formed by the convolution or contortion of the beds themselves. The Savoy mountains are chiefly of this latter class. When stratified formations are contorted, it is usually either by pressure from below, which raises one part of the formation above the rest, or by lateral pressure, which reduces the whole formation into a series of waves. The ascending pressure may be limited in its sphere of operation; the lateral one necessarily affects extensive tracts of country, and the eminences it produces vanish only by degrees, like the waves left in the wake of a ship. The Savoy mountains have undergone both these kinds of violence in very complex modes and at different periods, so that it becomes almost impossible to trace separately and completely the operation of any given force at a given point.

294. The speaker's intention was to have analyzed, as far as possible, the action of the forming forces in one wave of simple elevation, the Mont Salève, and in another of lateral compression, the Mont Brezon: but the investigation of the Mont Salève had presented unexpected difficulty. Its façade had been always considered to be formed by vertical beds, raised into that position during the tertiary periods; the speaker's investigations had, on the contrary, led him to conclude that the appearance of vertical beds was owing to a peculiarly sharp and distinct cleavage, at right angles with the beds, but nearly parallel to their strike, elsewhere similarly manifested in the Jurassic series of Savoy, and showing itself on the fronts of most of the precipices formed of that rock. The attention of geologists was invited to the determination of this question.

The compressed wave of the Brezon, more complex in arrangement, was more clearly defined. A section of it was given, showing the reversed position of the Hippurite limestone in the summit and lower precipices. This limestone wave was shown to be one of a great series, running parallel[Pg 165] with the Alps, and constituting an undulatory district, chiefly composed of chalk beds, separated from the higher limestone district of the Jura and Lias by a long trench or moat, filled with members of the tertiary series—chiefly nummulite limestones and flysch. This trench might be followed from Faverges, at the head of the lake of Annecy, across Savoy. It separated Mont Vergi from the Mont Dorons, and the Dent d'Oche from the Dent du Midi; then entered Switzerland, separating the Moleson from the Diablerets; passed on through the districts of Thun and Brientz, and, dividing itself into two, caused the zigzagged form of the lake of Lucerne. The principal branch then passed between the high Sentis and the Glarnisch, and broke into confusion in the Tyrol. On the north side of this trench the chalk beds were often vertical, or cast into repeated folds, of which the escarpments were mostly turned away from the Alps; but on the south side of the trench, the Jurassic, Triassic, and Carboniferous beds, though much distorted, showed a prevailing tendency to lean towards the Alps, and turn their escarpments to the central chain.

295. Both these systems of mountains are intersected by transverse valleys, owing their origin, in the first instance, to a series of transverse curvilinear fractures, which affect the forms even of every minor ridge, and produce its principal ravines and boldest rocks, even where no distinctly excavated valleys exist. Thus, the Mont Vergi and the Aiguilles of Salouvre are only fragmentary remains of a range of horizontal beds, once continuous, but broken by this transverse system of curvilinear cleavage, and worn or weathered into separate summits.

The means of this ultimate sculpture or weathering were lastly to be considered.

296. III. Sculpture.—The final reductions of mountainform are owing either to disintegration, or to the action of water, in the condition of rain, rivers, or ice, aided by frost and other circumstances of temperature and atmosphere.[Pg 166]

All important existing forms are owing to disintegration, or the action of water. That of ice had been curiously over-rated. As an instrument of sculpture, ice is much less powerful than water; the apparently energetic effects of it being merely the exponents of disintegration. A glacier did not produce its moraine, but sustained and exposed the fragments which fell on its surface, pulverizing these by keeping them in motion, but producing very unimportant effects on the rock below; the roundings and striation produced by ice were superficial; while a torrent penetrated into every angle and cranny, undermining and wearing continually, and carrying stones, at the lowest estimate, six hundred thousand times as fast as the glacier. Had the quantity of rain which has fallen on Mont Blanc in the form of snow (and descended in the ravines as ice) fallen as rain, and descended in torrents, the ravines would have been much deeper than they are now, and the glacier may so far be considered as exercising a protective influence. But its power of carriage is unlimited, and when masses of earth or rock are once loosened, the glacier carries them away, and exposes fresh surfaces. Generally, the work of water and ice is in mountain surgery like that of lancet and sponge—one for incision, the other for ablution. No excavation by ice was possible on a large scale, any more than by a stream of honey; and its various actions, with their limitations, were only to be understood by keeping always clearly in view the great law of its motion as a viscous substance, determined by Professor James Forbes.

297. The existing forms of the Alps are, therefore, traceable chiefly to denudation as they rose from the sea, followed by more or less violent aqueous action, partly arrested during the glacial periods, while the produced diluvium was carried away into the valley of the Rhine or into the North Sea. One very important result of denudation had not yet been sufficiently regarded; namely, that when portions of a thick bed (as the Rudisten-kalk) had been entirely removed, the weight of the remaining masses, pressing unequally on the inferior beds, would, when these were soft (as the Neocomian[Pg 167] marls), press them up into arched conditions, like those of the floors of coal-mines in what the miners called "creeps." Many anomalous positions of the beds of Spatangenkalk in the district of the Lake of Annecy were in all probability owing to this cause: they might be studied advantageously in the sloping base of the great Rochers de Lanfon, which, disintegrating in curved, nearly vertical flakes, each a thousand feet in height, were nevertheless a mere outlying remnant of the great horizontal formation of the Parmelan, and formed, like it, of very thin horizontal beds of Rudisten-kalk, imposed on shaly masses of Neocomian, modified by their pressure. More complex forms of harder rock were wrought by the streams and rains into fantastic outlines; and the transverse gorges were cut deep where they had been first traced by fault or distortion. The analysis of this aqueous action would alone require a series of discourses; but the sum of the facts was that the best and most interesting portions of the mountains were just those which were finally left, the centers and joints, as it were, of the Alpine anatomy. Immeasurable periods of time would be required to wear these away; and to all appearances, during the process of their destruction, others were rising to take their place, and forms of perhaps far more nobly organized mountain would witness the collateral progress of humanity.

J. R. [Pg 168]


[35] Read by Mr. Ruskin at the weekly evening meeting of the Royal Institution (see Proceedings, vol. iv., pp. 142-46), June 5, 1863.—Ed.



298. I suppose this theorem to be a truism; but I venture to state it, because it is surely desirable that it should be recognized as an axiom by metaphysicians, and practically does not seem to me yet to have been so. I say "animated life" because the word "life" by itself might have been taken to include that of vegetables; and I say "animated" instead of "spiritual" life because the Latin "anima," and pretty Italian corruption of it, "alma," involving the new idea of nourishment of the body as by the Aliment or Alms of God, seems to me to convey a better idea of the existence of conscious creatures than any derivative of "spiritus," "pneuma," or "psyche."

I attach, however, a somewhat lower sense to the word "conception" than is, I believe, usual with metaphysicians, for, as a painter, I belong to a lower rank of animated being than theirs, and can only mean by conception what I know of it. A painter never conceives anything absolutely, and is indeed incapable of conceiving anything at all, except as a phenomenon or sensation, or as the mode or locus of a phenomenon or sensation. That which is not an appearance, or a feeling, or a mode of one or the other, is to him nothing.

299. For instance, he would deny the definition of the phenomenon which he is himself first concerned in producing—a line—as "length without breadth." He would say, "That which has no breadth is nothing, and nothing cannot be long." He would define a line as a narrow and long phenomenon, and[Pg 169] a mathematician's idea of it as an idea of the direction of such a phenomenon.

The act of conception or imagination with him, therefore, is merely the memory, simple or combined, of things that he has seen or felt. He has no ray, no incipience of faculty beyond this. No quantity of the sternest training in the school of Hegel, would ever enable him to think the Absolute. He would persist in an obstinate refusal to use the word "think" at all in a transitive sense. He would never, for instance, say, "I think the table," but "I think the table is turning," or is not, as the case might be. And if he were to be taught in any school whatever to conceive a table, his first demand would be that he should be shown one, or referred to other things that had the qualities of one in illustrative degree.

300. And even respecting the constant methods or laws of phenomena, he cannot raise the statement of them into an act of conception. The statement that two right lines can never inclose a space merely appears to him another form of verbal definition, or, at the grandest, a definition in prophetic extent, saying in other words that a line which incloses, or ever may inclose, a space, is not, and never will be, a right one. He would admit that what he now conceives as two things, doubled, would always be what he now conceives as four things. But assuming the existence of a world in which, whenever two things were actually set in juxtaposition with other two things, they became actually three times, or actually five, he supposes that the practice of arithmetic, and laws of it, would change in relation to this new condition in matter; and he accepts, therefore, the statement that twice two are four only as an accident of the existing phenomena of matter.

301. A painter therefore may, I think, be looked upon as only representing a high order of sensational creatures, incapable of any but physical ideas and impressions; and I continue my paper, therefore, only in the name of the docile, and therefore improvable, part of the Brute Creation.

And in their name I would suggest that we should be much more docile than we are if we were never occupied in efforts[Pg 170] to conceive things above our natures. To take an instance, in a creature somewhat lower than myself. I came by surprise the other day on a cuttle-fish in a pool at low tide. On being touched with the point of my umbrella, he first filled the pool with ink, and then finding himself still touched in the darkness, lost his temper, and attacked the umbrella with much psyche or anima, hugging it tightly with all his eight arms, and making efforts, like an impetuous baby with a coral, to get it into his mouth. On my offering him a finger instead, he sucked that with two or three of his arms with an apparently malignant satisfaction, and on being shaken off, retired with an air of frantic misanthropy into the cloud of his ink.

302. Now, it seems to me not a little instructive to reflect how entirely useless such a manifestation of a superior being was to his cuttle-fish mind, and how fortunate it was for his fellow-octopods that he had no command of pens as well as ink, nor any disposition to write on the nature of umbrellas or of men.

It may be observed, further, that whatever ideas he was able to form respecting either were positively false—so contrary to truth as to be worse than none, and simply dangerous to himself, so far as he might be induced to act upon them—that, namely, an umbrella was an eatable thing, or a man a conquerable one, that the individual man who looked at him was hostile to him or that his purposes could be interfered with by ejection of ink. Every effort made by the fish under these convictions was harmful to himself; his only wisdom would have been to lie quietly and unreflectively in his pool.

And with us painters also, the only result of any efforts we make to acquaint ourselves with the subjects of metaphysical inquiry has been an increased sense of the prudence of lying placidly and unreflectively in our pools, or at least limiting ourselves to such gentle efforts of imagination as may be consistent with the as yet imperfectly developed powers, I do not say even of cephalopodic, but of Ascidian nervous centers.

303. But it may be easily imagined how pleasantly, to per[Pg 171]sons thus subdued in self-estimation, the hope presents itself which is involved in the Darwinian theory, that their pools themselves may be capable of indefinite extension, and their natures of indefinite development—the hope that our descendants may one day be ashamed of us, and debate the question of their parentage with astonishment and disgust.

And it seems to me that the aim of elementary metaphysical study might henceforth become more practical than that of any other science. For in hitherto taking little cognizance of the limitation of thought by the structure of the body, we have surely also lost sight of the power of certain modes of thought over the processes of that structure. Taking, for instance, the emotion of anger, of which the cephalopoda are indeed as capable as we are, but inferior to us in being unable to decide whether they do well to be angry or not, I do not think the chemical effect of that emotion on the particles of the blood, in decomposing and otherwise paralyzing or debilitating them, has been sufficiently examined, nor the actual quantity of nervous energy which a fit of anger of given violence withdraws from the body and restores to space, neither the correlative power of volition in restraining the passion, or in directing the choice of salutary thought, as of salutary herbs on streams. And even we painters, who dare not call ourselves capable of thought, are capable of choice in more or less salutary vision. In the degree in which we lose such power of choice in vision, so that the spectral phenomena which are the materials of our industry present themselves under forms beyond our control, we become insane; and although for all our best work a certain degree of this insanity is necessary, and the first occurring conceptions are uncommanded, as in dreams, we have, when in health, always instantaneous power of accepting some, refusing others, perfecting the outlines and colors of those we wish to keep, and arranging them in such relations as we choose.

304. And unquestionably the forms of the body which painters instinctively recognize as best, and call "beautiful," are so far under the command of the plastic force of voluntary[Pg 172] thought, that the original and future authority of such a plastic force over the whole of creation cannot but seem to painters a direct, though not a certain influence; and they would at once give their adherence to the statement made many years since in his opening lectures in Oxford by the present Regius Professor of Medicine (as far as I can recollect approximately, in these terms)—that "it is quite as logical, and far more easy, to conceive of original anima as adapting itself to forms of substance, than of original substance as adapting to itself modes of mind."

305. It is surely, therefore, not too much to expect of future schools of metaphysicians that they will direct mankind into methods of thought which will be at once happy, unerring, and medicinal, and therefore entirely wise; that they will mark the limits beyond which uniformity must be dangerous, and speculation vain; and that they will at no distant period terminate the acrimony of theologians, and the insolences, as well as the sorrows, of groundless faith, by showing that it is appointed for us, in common with the rest of the animal creation, to live in the midst of an universe the nature of which is as much better than we can believe, as it is greater than we can understand.[Pg 173]


[36] Contemporary Review, June, 1871.—Ed.

[Pg 174]



(Nineteenth Century, June, August, Sept., Nov. 1880, and Oct. 1881.)


(Preface to "German Popular Stories," 1868.)[Pg 175]



1. On the first mild—or, at least, the first bright—day of March, in this year, I walked through what was once a country lane, between the hostelry of the Half-moon at the bottom of Herne Hill, and the secluded College of Dulwich.

In my young days, Croxsted Lane was a green byroad traversable for some distance by carts; but rarely so traversed, and, for the most part, little else than a narrow strip of untilled field, separated by blackberry hedges from the better-cared-for meadows on each side of it: growing more weeds, therefore, than they, and perhaps in spring a primrose or two—white archangel—daisies plenty, and purple thistles in autumn. A slender rivulet, boasting little of its brightness, for there are no springs at Dulwich, yet fed purely enough by the rain and morning dew, here trickled—there loitered—through the long grass beneath the hedges, and expanded itself, where it might, into moderately clear and deep pools, in which, under their veils of duckweed, a fresh-water shell or two, sundry curious little skipping shrimps, any quantity of tadpoles in their time, and even sometimes a tittlebat, offered themselves to my boyhood's pleased, and not inaccurate, observation. There, my mother and I used to gather the first buds of the hawthorn; and there, in after years, I used to walk in the summer shadows, as in a place wilder and sweeter than our garden, to think over any passage I wanted to make better than usual in Modern Painters.

So, as aforesaid, on the first kindly day of this year, being thoughtful more than usual of those old times, I went to look again at the place.[Pg 176]

2. Often, both in those days, and since, I have put myself hard to it, vainly, to find words wherewith to tell of beautiful things; but beauty has been in the world since the world was made, and human language can make a shift, somehow, to give account of it, whereas the peculiar forces of devastation induced by modern city life have only entered the world lately; and no existing terms of language known to me are enough to describe the forms of filth, and modes of ruin, that varied themselves along the course of Croxsted Lane. The fields on each side of it are now mostly dug up for building, or cut through into gaunt corners and nooks of blind ground by the wild crossings and concurrencies of three railroads. Half a dozen handfuls of new cottages, with Doric doors, are dropped about here and there among the gashed ground: the lane itself, now entirely grassless, is a deep-rutted, heavy-hillocked cart-road, diverging gatelessly into various brickfields or pieces of waste; and bordered on each side by heaps of—Hades only knows what!—mixed dust of every unclean thing that can crumble in drought, and mildew of every unclean thing that can rot or rust in damp: ashes and rags, beer-bottles and old shoes, battered pans, smashed crockery, shreds of nameless clothes, door-sweepings, floor-sweepings, kitchen garbage, back-garden sewage, old iron, rotten timber jagged with out-torn nails, cigar-ends, pipe-bowls, cinders, bones, and ordure, indescribable; and, variously kneaded into, sticking to, or fluttering foully here and there over all these,—remnants broadcast, of every manner of newspaper, advertisement or big-lettered bill, festering and flaunting out their last publicity in the pits of stinking dust and mortal slime.

3. The lane ends now where its prettiest windings once began; being cut off by a cross-road leading out of Dulwich to a minor railway station: and on the other side of this road, what was of old the daintiest intricacy of its solitude is changed into a straight, and evenly macadamized carriage drive between new houses of extreme respectability, with good attached gardens and offices—most of these tene[Pg 177]ments being larger—all more pretentious, and many, I imagine, held at greatly higher rent than my father's, tenanted for twenty years at Herne Hill. And it became matter of curious meditation to me what must here become of children resembling my poor little dreamy quondam self in temper, and thus brought up at the same distance from London, and in the same or better circumstances of worldly fortune; but with only Croxsted Lane in its present condition for their country walk. The trimly kept road before their doors, such as one used to see in the fashionable suburbs of Cheltenham or Leamington, presents nothing to their study but gravel, and gas-lamp posts; the modern addition of a vermilion letter-pillar contributing indeed to the splendor, but scarcely to the interest of the scene; and a child of any sense or fancy would hastily contrive escape from such a barren desert of politeness, and betake itself to investigation, such as might be feasible, of the natural history of Croxsted Lane.

4. But, for its sense or fancy, what food, or stimulus, can it find, in that foul causeway of its youthful pilgrimage? What would have happened to myself, so directed, I cannot clearly imagine. Possibly, I might have got interested in the old iron and wood-shavings; and become an engineer or a carpenter: but for the children of to-day, accustomed, from the instant they are out of their cradles, to the sight of this infinite nastiness, prevailing as a fixed condition of the universe, over the face of nature, and accompanying all the operations of industrious man, what is to be the scholastic issue? unless, indeed, the thrill of scientific vanity in the primary analysis of some unheard-of process of corruption—or the reward of microscopic research in the sight of worms with more legs, and acari of more curious generation than ever vivified the more simply smelling plasma of antiquity.

One result of such elementary education is, however, already certain; namely, that the pleasure which we may conceive taken by the children of the coming time, in the analysis of physical corruption, guides, into fields more dangerous and desolate, the expatiation of an imaginative liter[Pg 178]ature: and that the reactions of moral disease upon itself, and the conditions of languidly monstrous character developed in an atmosphere of low vitality, have become the most valued material of modern fiction, and the most eagerly discussed texts of modern philosophy.

5. The many concurrent reasons for this mischief may, I believe, be massed under a few general heads.[38]

I. There is first the hot fermentation and unwholesome secrecy of the population crowded into large cities, each mote in the misery lighter, as an individual soul, than a dead leaf, but becoming oppressive and infectious each to his neighbor, in the smoking mass of decay. The resulting modes of mental ruin and distress are continually new; and in a certain sense, worth study in their monstrosity: they have accordingly developed a corresponding science of fiction, concerned mainly with the description of such forms of disease, like the botany of leaf-lichens.

In De Balzac's story of Father Goriot, a grocer makes a large fortune, of which he spends on himself as much as may keep him alive; and on his two daughters, all that can promote their pleasures or their pride. He marries them to men of rank, supplies their secret expenses, and provides for his favorite a separate and clandestine establishment with her lover. On his death-bed, he sends for this favorite daughter, who wishes to come, and hesitates for a quarter of an hour between doing so, and going to a ball at which it has been for the last month her chief ambition to be seen. She finally goes to the ball.

The story is, of course, one of which the violent contrasts and spectral catastrophe could only take place, or be conceived, in a large city. A village grocer cannot make a large fortune, cannot marry his daughters to titled squires, and cannot die without having his children brought to him, if in the neighborhood, by fear of village gossip, if for no better cause.

6. II. But a much more profound feeling than this mere[Pg 179] curiosity of science in morbid phenomena is concerned in the production of the carefulest forms of modern fiction. The disgrace and grief resulting from the mere trampling pressure and electric friction of town life, become to the sufferers peculiarly mysterious in their undeservedness, and frightful in their inevitableness. The power of all surroundings over them for evil; the incapacity of their own minds to refuse the pollution, and of their own wills to oppose the weight, of the staggering mass that chokes and crushes them into perdition, brings every law of healthy existence into question with them, and every alleged method of help and hope into doubt. Indignation, without any calming faith in justice, and self-contempt, without any curative self-reproach, dull the intelligence, and degrade the conscience, into sullen incredulity of all sunshine outside the dunghill, or breeze beyond the wafting of its impurity; and at last a philosophy develops itself, partly satiric, partly consolatory, concerned only with the regenerative vigor of manure, and the necessary obscurities of fimetic Providence; showing how everybody's fault is somebody else's, how infection has no law, digestion no will, and profitable dirt no dishonor.

And thus an elaborate and ingenious scholasticism, in what may be called the Divinity of Decomposition, has established itself in connection with the more recent forms of romance, giving them at once a complacent tone of clerical dignity, and an agreeable dash of heretical impudence; while the inculcated doctrine has the double advantage of needing no laborious scholarship for its foundation, and no painful self-denial for its practice.

7. III. The monotony of life in the central streets of any great modern city, but especially in those of London, where every emotion intended to be derived by men from the sight of nature, or the sense of art, is forbidden forever, leaves the craving of the heart for a sincere, yet changeful, interest, to be fed from one source only. Under natural conditions the degree of mental excitement necessary to bodily health is provided by the course of the seasons, and the various skill[Pg 180] and fortune of agriculture. In the country every morning of the year brings with it a new aspect of springing or fading nature; a new duty to be fulfilled upon earth, and a new promise or warning in heaven. No day is without its innocent hope, its special prudence, its kindly gift, and its sublime danger; and in every process of wise husbandry, and every effort of contending or remedial courage, the wholesome passions, pride, and bodily power of the laborer are excited and exerted in happiest unison. The companionship of domestic, the care of serviceable, animals, soften and enlarge his life with lowly charities, and discipline him in familiar wisdoms and unboastful fortitudes; while the divine laws of seedtime which cannot be recalled, harvest which cannot be hastened, and winter in which no man can work, compel the impatiences and coveting of his heart into labor too submissive to be anxious, and rest too sweet to be wanton. What thought can enough comprehend the contrast between such life, and that in streets where summer and winter are only alternations of heat and cold; where snow never fell white, nor sunshine clear; where the ground is only a pavement, and the sky no more than the glass roof of an arcade; where the utmost power of a storm is to choke the gutters, and the finest magic of spring, to change mud into dust: where—chief and most fatal difference in state—there is no interest of occupation for any of the inhabitants but the routine of counter or desk within doors, and the effort to pass each other without collision outside; so that from morning to evening the only possible variation of the monotony of the hours, and lightening of the penalty of existence, must be some kind of mischief, limited, unless by more than ordinary godsend of fatality, to the fall of a horse, or the slitting of a pocket?

8. I said that under these laws of inanition, the craving of the human heart for some kind of excitement could be supplied from one source only. It might have been thought by any other than a sternly tentative philosopher, that the denial of their natural food to human feelings would have[Pg 181] provoked a reactionary desire for it; and that the dreariness of the street would have been gilded by dreams of pastoral felicity. Experience has shown the fact to be otherwise; the thoroughly trained Londoner can enjoy no other excitement than that to which he has been accustomed, but asks for that in continually more ardent or more virulent concentration; and the ultimate power of fiction to entertain him is by varying to his fancy the modes, and defining for his dullness the horrors, of Death. In the single novel of "Bleak House" there are nine deaths (or left for death's, in the drop scene) carefully wrought out or led up to, either by way of pleasing surprise, as the baby's at the brick-maker's, or finished in their threatenings and sufferings, with as much enjoyment as can be contrived in the anticipation, and as much pathology as can be concentrated in the description. Under the following varieties of method:—

One by assassinationMr. Tulkinghorn.
One by starvation, with phthisisJoe.
One by chagrinRichard.
One by spontaneous combustionMr. Krook.
One by sorrowLady Dedlock's lover.
One by remorseLady Dedlock.
One by insanityMiss Flite.
One by paralysisSir Leicester.

Besides the baby, by fever, and a lively young Frenchwoman left to be hanged.

And all this, observe, not in a tragic, adventurous, or military story, but merely as the further enlivenment of a narrative intended to be amusing; and as a properly representative average of the statistics of civilian mortality in the center of London.

9. Observe further, and chiefly. It is not the mere number of deaths (which, if we count the odd troopers in the[Pg 182] last scene, is exceeded in "Old Mortality," and reached, within one or two, both in "Waverley" and "Guy Mannering") that marks the peculiar tone of the modern novel. It is the fact that all these deaths, but one, are of inoffensive, or at least in the world's estimate, respectable persons; and that they are all grotesquely either violent or miserable, purporting thus to illustrate the modern theology that the appointed destiny of a large average of our population is to die like rats in a drain, either by trap or poison. Not, indeed, that a lawyer in full practice can be usually supposed as faultless in the eye of Heaven as a dove or a woodcock; but it is not, in former divinities, thought the will of Providence that he should be dropped by a shot from a client behind his fire-screen, and retrieved in the morning by his housemaid under the chandelier. Neither is Lady Dedlock less reprehensible in her conduct than many women of fashion have been and will be: but it would not therefore have been thought poetically just, in old-fashioned morality, that she should be found by her daughter lying dead, with her face in the mud of a St. Giles's churchyard.

10. In the work of the great masters death is always either heroic, deserved, or quiet and natural (unless their purpose be totally and deeply tragic, when collateral meaner death is permitted, like that of Polonius or Roderigo). In "Old Mortality," four of the deaths, Bothwell's, Ensign Grahame's, Macbriar's, and Evandale's, are magnificently heroic; Burley's and Oliphant's long deserved, and swift; the troopers', met in the discharge of their military duty, and the old miser's as gentle as the passing of a cloud, and almost beautiful in its last words of—now unselfish—care.

"Ailie" (he aye ca'd me Ailie, we were auld acquaintance), "Ailie, take ye care and hand the gear weel thegither; for the name of Morton of Milnwood's gane out like the last sough of an auld sang." And sae he fell out o' ae dwam into another, and ne'er spak a word mair, unless it something we you'dna mak out, about a dipped candle[Pg 183] being gude eneugh to see to dee wi'. He cou'd ne'er bide to see a molded ane, and there was ane, by ill luck, on the table.

In "Guy Mannering," the murder, though unpremeditated, of a single person, (himself not entirely innocent, but at least by heartlessness in a cruel function earning his fate,) is avenged to the uttermost on all the men conscious of the crime; Mr. Bertram's death, like that of his wife, brief in pain, and each told in the space of half a dozen lines; and that of the heroine of the tale, self-devoted, heroic in the highest, and happy.

Nor is it ever to be forgotten, in the comparison of Scott's with inferior work, that his own splendid powers were, even in early life, tainted, and in his latter years destroyed, by modern conditions of commercial excitement, then first, but rapidly, developing themselves. There are parts even in his best novels colored to meet tastes which he despised; and many pages written in his later ones to lengthen his article for the indiscriminate market.

11. But there was one weakness of which his healthy mind remained incapable to the last. In modern stories prepared for more refined or fastidious audiences than those of Dickens, the funereal excitement is obtained, for the most part, not by the infliction of violent or disgusting death; but in the suspense, the pathos, and the more or less by all felt, and recognized, mortal phenomena of the sick-room. The temptation, to weak writers, of this order of subject is especially great, because the study of it from the living—or dying—model is so easy, and to many has been the most impressive part of their own personal experience; while, if the description be given even with mediocre accuracy, a very large section of readers will admire its truth, and cherish its melancholy. Few authors of second or third rate genius can either record or invent a probable conversation in ordinary life; but few, on the other hand, are so destitute of observant faculty as to be unable to chronicle the broken[Pg 184] syllables and languid movements of an invalid. The easily rendered, and too surely recognized, image of familiar suffering is felt at once to be real where all else had been false; and the historian of the gestures of fever and words of delirium can count on the applause of a gratified audience as surely as the dramatist who introduces on the stage of his flagging action a carriage that can be driven or a fountain that will flow. But the masters of strong imagination disdain such work, and those of deep sensibility shrink from it.[39] Only under conditions of personal weakness, presently to be noted, would Scott comply with the cravings of his lower audience in scenes of terror like the death of Front-de-Bœuf. But he never once withdrew the sacred curtain of the sick-chamber, nor permitted the disgrace of wanton tears round the humiliation of strength, or the wreck of beauty.

12. IV. No exception to this law of reverence will be found in the scenes in Cœur de Lion's illness introductory to the principal incident in the "Talisman." An inferior writer would have made the king charge in imagination at the head of his chivalry, or wander in dreams by the brooks of Aquitaine; but Scott allows us to learn no more startling symptoms of the king's malady than that he was restless and impatient, and could not wear his armor. Nor is any bodily weakness, or crisis of danger, permitted to disturb for an instant the royalty of intelligence and heart in which he examines, trusts and obeys the physician whom his attendants fear.

Yet the choice of the main subject in this story and its companion—the trial, to a point of utter torture, of knightly faith, and several passages in the conduct of both, more especially the exaggerated scenes in the House of Baldring[Pg 185]ham, and hermitage of Engedi, are signs of the gradual decline in force of intellect and soul which those who love Scott best have done him the worst injustice in their endeavors to disguise or deny. The mean anxieties, moral humiliations, and mercilessly demanded brain-toil, which killed him, show their sepulchral grasp for many and many a year before their final victory; and the states of more or less dulled, distorted, and polluted imagination which culminate in "Castle Dangerous" cast a Stygian hue over "St. Ronan's Well," "The Fair Maid of Perth," and "Anne of Geierstein," which lowers them, the first altogether, the other two at frequent intervals, into fellowship with the normal disease which festers throughout the whole body of our lower fictitious literature.

13. Fictitious! I use the ambiguous word deliberately; for it is impossible to distinguish in these tales of the prison-house how far their vice and gloom are thrown into their manufacture only to meet a vile demand, and how far they are an integral condition of thought in the minds of men trained from their youth up in the knowledge of Londinian and Parisian misery. The speciality of the plague is a delight in the exposition of the relations between guilt and decrepitude; and I call the results of it literature "of the prison-house," because the thwarted habits of body and mind, which are the punishment of reckless crowding in cities, become, in the issue of that punishment, frightful subjects of exclusive interest to themselves; and the art of fiction in which they finally delight is only the more studied arrangement and illustration, by colored fire-lights, of the daily bulletins of their own wretchedness, in the prison calendar, the police news, and the hospital report.

14. The reader will perhaps be surprised at my separating the greatest work of Dickens, "Oliver Twist," with honor, from the loathsome mass to which it typically belongs. That book is an earnest and uncaricatured record of states of criminal life, written with didactic purpose, full of the gravest instruction, nor destitute of pathetic studies of noble passion.[Pg 186] Even the "Mysteries of Paris" and Gaboriau's "Crime d'Orcival" are raised, by their definiteness of historical intention and forewarning anxiety, far above the level of their order, and may be accepted as photographic evidence of an otherwise incredible civilization, corrupted in the infernal fact of it, down to the genesis of such figures as the Vicomte d'Orcival, the Stabber,[40] the Skeleton, and the She-wolf. But the effectual head of the whole cretinous school is the renowned novel in which the hunchbacked lover watches the execution of his mistress from the tower of Notre-Dame; and its strength passes gradually away into the anatomical preparations, for the general market, of novels like "Poor Miss Finch," in which the heroine is blind, the hero epileptic, and the obnoxious brother is found dead with his hands dropped off, in the Arctic regions.[41][Pg 187]

15. This literature of the Prison-house, understanding by the word not only the cell of Newgate, but also and even more definitely the cell of the Hôtel-Dieu, the Hôpital des Fous, and the grated corridor with the dripping slabs of the Morgue, having its central root thus in the Ile de Paris—or historically and pre-eminently the "Cité de Paris"—is,[Pg 188] when understood deeply, the precise counter-corruption of the religion of the Sainte Chapelle, just as the worst forms of bodily and mental ruin are the corruption of love. I have therefore called it "Fiction mécroyante," with literal accuracy and precision: according to the explanation of the word, which the reader may find in any good French dic[Pg 189]tionary,[42] and round its Arctic pole in the Morgue, he may gather into one Caina of gelid putrescence the entire product of modern infidel imagination, amusing itself with destruction of the body, and busying itself with aberration of the mind.

16. Aberration, palsy, or plague, observe, as distinguished from normal evil, just as the venom of rabies or cholera differs from that of a wasp or a viper. The life of the insect and serpent deserves, or at least permits, our thoughts; not so the stages of agony in the fury-driven hound. There is some excuse, indeed, for the pathologic labor of the modern novelist in the fact that he cannot easily, in a city population, find a healthy mind to vivisect: but the greater part of such amateur surgery is the struggle, in an epoch of wild literary competition, to obtain novelty of material. The varieties of aspect and color in healthy fruit, be it sweet or sour, may be within certain limits described exhaustively. Not so the blotches of its conceivable blight: and while the symmetries of integral human character can only be traced by harmonious and tender skill, like the branches of a living tree, the faults and gaps of one gnawed away by corroding accident can be shuffled into senseless change like the wards of a Chubb lock.

17. V. It is needless to insist on the vast field for this dice-cast or card-dealt calamity which opens itself in the ignorance, money-interest, and mean passion, of city marriage. Peasants know each other as children—meet, as they grow up in testing labor; and if a stout farmer's son marries a handless girl, it is his own fault. Also in the patrician families of the field, the young people know what they are doing, and marry a neighboring estate, or a covetable title, with some conception of the responsibilities they undertake. But even among these, their season in the con[Pg 190]fused metropolis creates licentious and fortuitous temptation before unknown; and in the lower middle orders, an entirely new kingdom of discomfort and disgrace has been preached to them in the doctrines of unbridled pleasure which are merely an apology for their peculiar forms of ill-breeding. It is quite curious how often the catastrophe, or the leading interest, of a modern novel, turns upon the want, both in maid and bachelor, of the common self-command which was taught to their grandmothers and grandfathers as the first element of ordinarily decent behavior. Rashly inquiring the other day the plot of a modern story[43] from a female friend, I elicited, after some hesitation, that it hinged mainly on the young people's "forgetting themselves in a boat;" and I perceive it to be accepted as nearly an axiom in the code of modern civic chivalry that the strength of amiable sentiment is proved by our incapacity on proper occasions to express, and on improper ones to control it. The pride of a gentleman of the old school used to be in his power of saying what he meant, and being silent when he ought (not to speak of the higher nobleness which bestowed love where it was honorable, and reverence where it was due); but the automatic amours and involuntary proposals of recent romance acknowledge little further law of morality than the instinct of an insect, or the effervescence of a chemical mixture.

18. There is a pretty little story of Alfred de Musset's—"La Mouche," which, if the reader cares to glance at it, will save me further trouble in explaining the disciplinarian authority of mere old-fashioned politeness, as in some sort protective of higher things. It describes, with much grace and precision, a state of society by no means pre-eminently virtuous, or enthusiastically heroic; in which many people do extremely wrong, and none sublimely right. But as there are heights of which the achievement is unattempted, there are abysses to which fall is barred; neither accident[Pg 191] nor temptation will make any of the principal personages swerve from an adopted resolution, or violate an accepted principle of honor; people are expected as a matter of course to speak with propriety on occasion, and to wait with patience when they are bid: those who do wrong, admit it; those who do right don't boast of it; everybody knows his own mind, and everybody has good manners.

19. Nor must it be forgotten that in the worst days of the self-indulgence which destroyed the aristocracies of Europe, their vices, however licentious, were never, in the fatal modern sense, "unprincipled." The vainest believed in virtue; the vilest respected it. "Chaque chose avait son nom,"[44] and the severest of English moralists recognizes the accurate wit, the lofty intellect, and the unfretted benevolence, which redeemed from vitiated surroundings the circle of d'Alembert and Marmontel.[45]

I have said, with too slight praise, that the vainest, in those days, "believed" in virtue. Beautiful and heroic examples of it were always before them; nor was it without the secret significance attaching to what may seem the least accidents in the work of a master, that Scott gave to both his heroines of the age of revolution in England the name of the queen of the highest order of English chivalry.[46]

20. It is to say little for the types of youth and maid which alone Scott felt it a joy to imagine, or thought it honorable to portray, that they act and feel in a sphere[Pg 192] where they are never for an instant liable to any of the weaknesses which disturb the calm, or shake the resolution, of chastity and courage in a modern novel. Scott lived in a country and time, when, from highest to lowest, but chiefly in that dignified and nobly severe[47] middle class to which he himself belonged, a habit of serene and stainless thought was as natural to the people as their mountain air. Women like Rose Bradwardine and Ailie Dinmont were the grace and guard of almost every household (God be praised that the race of them is not yet extinct, for all that Mall or Boulevard can do), and it has perhaps escaped the notice of even attentive readers that the comparatively uninteresting character of Sir Walter's heroes had always been studied among a class of youths who were simply incapable of doing anything seriously wrong; and could only be embarrassed by the consequences of their levity or imprudence.

21. But there is another difference in the woof of a Waverley novel from the cobweb of a modern one, which depends on Scott's larger view of human life. Marriage is by no means, in his conception of man and woman, the most important business of their existence;[48] nor love the only reward to be proposed to their virtue or exertion. It is not in his reading of the laws of Providence a necessity that virtue should, either by love or any other external blessing, be rewarded at all;[49] and marriage is in all cases thought of as a constituent of the happiness of life, but not[Pg 193] as its only interest, still less its only aim. And upon analyzing with some care the motives of his principal stories, we shall often find that the love in them is merely a light by which the sterner features of character are to be irradiated, and that the marriage of the hero is as subordinate to the main bent of the story as Henry the Fifth's courtship of Katherine is to the battle of Agincourt. Nay, the fortunes of the person who is nominally the subject of the tale are often little more than a background on which grander figures are to be drawn, and deeper fates forthshadowed. The judgments between the faith and chivalry of Scotland at Drumclog and Bothwell Bridge owe little of their interest in the mind of a sensible reader to the fact that the captain of the Popinjay is carried a prisoner to one battle, and returns a prisoner from the other: and Scott himself, while he watches the white sail that bears Queen Mary for the last time from her native land, very nearly forgets to finish his novel, or to tell us—and with small sense of any consolation to be had out of that minor circumstance,—that "Roland and Catherine were united, spite of their differing faiths."

22. Neither let it be thought for an instant that the slight, and sometimes scornful, glance with which Scott passes over scenes which a novelist of our own day would have analyzed with the airs of a philosopher, and painted with the curiosity of a gossip, indicates any absence in his heart of sympathy with the great and sacred elements of personal happiness. An era like ours, which has with diligence and ostentation swept its heart clear of all the passions once known as loyalty, patriotism, and piety, necessarily magnifies the apparent force of the one remaining sentiment which sighs through the barren chambers, or clings inextricably round the chasms of ruin; nor can it but regard with awe the unconquerable spirit which still tempts or betrays the sagacities of selfishness into error or frenzy which is believed to be love.

That Scott was never himself, in the sense of the phrase[Pg 194] as employed by lovers of the Parisian school, "ivre d'amour," may be admitted without prejudice to his sensibility,[50] and that he never knew "l'amor che move 'l sol e l'altre stelle," was the chief, though unrecognized, calamity of his deeply checkered life. But the reader of honor and feeling will not therefore suppose that the love which Miss Vernon sacrifices, stooping for an instant from her horse, is of less noble stamp, or less enduring faith, than that which troubles and degrades the whole existence of Consuelo; or that the affection of Jeanie Deans for the companion of her childhood, drawn like a field of soft blue heaven beyond the cloudy wrack of her sorrow, is less fully in possession of her soul than the hesitating and self-reproachful impulses under which a modern heroine forgets herself in a boat, or compromises herself in the cool of the evening.

23. I do not wish to return over the waste ground we have traversed, comparing, point by point, Scott's manner with those of Bermondsey and the Faubourgs; but it may be, perhaps, interesting at this moment to examine, with illustration from those Waverley novels which have so lately retracted the attention of a fair and gentle public,[51] the universal conditions of "style," rightly so called, which are in all ages, and above all local currents or wavering tides of temporary manners, pillars of what is forever strong, and models of what is forever fair.

But I must first define, and that within strict horizon, the works of Scott, in which his perfect mind may be known, and his chosen ways understood.

His great works of prose fiction, excepting only the first half-volume of "Waverley," were all written in twelve years, 1814-26 (of his own age forty-three to fifty-five), the actual time employed in their composition being not more than a couple of months out of each year; and during that time only the morning hours and spare minutes during the[Pg 195] professional day. "Though the first volume of 'Waverley' was begun long ago, and actually lost for a time, yet the other two were begun and finished between the 4th of June and the 1st of July, during all which I attended my duty in court, and proceeded without loss of time or hindrance of business."[52]

Few of the maxims for the enforcement of which, in "Modern Painters," long ago, I got the general character of a lover of paradox, are more singular, or more sure, than the statement, apparently so encouraging to the idle, that if a great thing can be done at all, it can be done easily. But it is that kind of ease with which a tree blossoms after long years of gathered strength, and all Scott's great writings were the recreations of a mind confirmed in dutiful labor, and rich with organic gathering of boundless resource.

Omitting from our count the two minor and ill-finished sketches of the "Black Dwarf" and "Legend of Montrose," and, for a reason presently to be noticed, the unhappy "St. Ronan's," the memorable romances of Scott are eighteen, falling into three distinct groups, containing six each.

24. The first group is distinguished from the other two by characters of strength and felicity which never more appeared after Scott was struck down by his terrific illness in 1819. It includes "Waverley," "Guy Mannering," "The Antiquary," "Rob Roy," "Old Mortality," and "The Heart of Midlothian."

The composition of these occupied the mornings of his happiest days, between the ages of forty-three and forty-eight. On the 8th of April, 1819 (he was forty-eight on the preceding 15th of August), he began for the first time to dictate—being unable for the exertion of writing—"The Bride of Lammermuir," "the affectionate Laidlaw beseeching him to stop dictating when his audible suffering filled every pause. 'Nay, Willie,' he answered, 'only see that the doors are fast. I would fain keep all the cry as well as all the wool to ourselves; but as for giving over work, that can only be[Pg 196] when I am in woolen.'"[53] From this time forward the brightness of joy and sincerity of inevitable humor, which perfected the imagery of the earlier novels, are wholly absent, except in the two short intervals of health unaccountably restored, in which he wrote "Redgauntlet" and "Nigel."

It is strange, but only a part of the general simplicity of Scott's genius, that these revivals of earlier power were unconscious, and that the time of extreme weakness in which he wrote "St. Ronan's Well," was that in which he first asserted his own restoration.

25. It is also a deeply interesting characteristic of his noble nature that he never gains anything by sickness; the whole man breathes or faints as one creature: the ache that stiffens a limb chills his heart, and every pang of his stomach paralyzes the brain. It is not so with inferior minds, in the workings of which it is often impossible to distinguish native from narcotic fancy, and the throbs of conscience from those of indigestion. Whether in exaltation or languor, the colors of mind are always morbid which gleam on the sea for the "Ancient Mariner," and through the casements on "St. Agnes' Eve"; but Scott is at once blinded and stultified by sickness; never has a fit of the cramp without spoiling a chapter, and is perhaps the only author of vivid imagination who never wrote a foolish word but when he was ill.

It remains only to be noticed on this point that any strong natural excitement, affecting the deeper springs of his heart, would at once restore his intellectual powers to their fullness, and that, far towards their sunset: but that the strong will on which he prided himself, though it could trample upon pain, silence grief, and compel industry, never could warm his imagination, or clear the judgment in his darker hours.

I believe that this power of the heart over the intellect is common to all great men: but what the special character of emotion was, that alone could lift Scott above the power[Pg 197] of death, I am about to ask the reader, in a little while, to observe with joyful care.

26. The first series of romances then, above-named, are all that exhibit the emphasis of his unharmed faculties. The second group, composed in the three years subsequent to illness all but mortal, bear every one of them more or less the seal of it.

They consist of the "Bride of Lammermuir," "Ivanhoe," the "Monastery," the "Abbot," "Kenilworth," and the "Pirate."[54] The marks of broken health on all these are essentially twofold—prevailing melancholy, and fantastic improbability. Three of the tales are agonizingly tragic, the "Abbot" scarcely less so in its main event, and "Ivanhoe" deeply wounded through all its bright panoply; while even in that most powerful of the series the impossible archeries and ax-strokes, the incredibly opportune appearances of Locksley, the death of Ulrica, and the resuscitation of Athelstane, are partly boyish, partly feverish. Caleb in the "Bride," Triptolemus and Halcro in the "Pirate," are all laborious, and the first incongruous; half a volume of the "Abbot" is spent in extremely dull detail of Roland's relations with his fellow-servants and his mistress, which have nothing whatever to do with the future story; and the lady of Avenel herself disappears after the first volume, "like a snaw-wreath when it's thaw, Jeanie." The public has for itself pronounced on the "Monastery," though as much too harshly as it has foolishly praised the horrors of "Ravenswood" and the nonsense of "Ivanhoe"; because the modern public finds in the torture and adventure of these, the kind of excitement which it seeks at an opera, while it has no sympathy whatever with the pastoral happiness of Glendearg, or with the lingering simplicities of superstition which give historical likelihood to the legend of the White Lady.[Pg 198]

But both this despised tale and its sequel have Scott's heart in them. The first was begun to refresh himself in the intervals of artificial labor on "Ivanhoe." "It was a relief," he said, "to interlay the scenery most familiar to me[55] with the strange world for which I had to draw so much on imagination." Through all the closing scenes of the second he is raised to his own true level by his love for the queen. And within the code of Scott's work to which I am about to appeal for illustration of his essential powers, I accept the "Monastery" and "Abbot," and reject from it the remaining four of this group.

27. The last series contains two quite noble ones, "Redgauntlet" and "Nigel"; two of very high value, "Durward" and "Woodstock"; the slovenly and diffuse "Peveril," written for the trade;[56] the sickly "Tales of the Crusaders," and the entirely broken and diseased "St. Ronan's Well." This last I throw out of count altogether, and of the rest, accept only the four first named as sound work; so that the list of the novels in which I propose to examine his methods and ideal standards, reduces itself to these following twelve (named in order of production): "Waverley," "Guy Mannering," the "Antiquary," "Rob Roy," "Old Mortality," the "Heart of Midlothian," the "Monastery," the "Abbot," "Redgauntlet," the "For[Pg 199]tunes of Nigel," "Quentin Durward," and "Woodstock."[57]

28. It is, however, too late to enter on my subject in this article, which I may fitly close by pointing out some of the merely verbal characteristics of his style, illustrative in little ways of the questions we have been examining, and chiefly of the one which may be most embarrassing to many readers, the difference, namely, between character and disease.

One quite distinctive charm in the Waverleys is their modified use of the Scottish dialect; but it has not generally been observed, either by their imitators, or the authors of different taste who have written for a later public, that there is a difference between the dialect of a language, and its corruption.

A dialect is formed in any district where there are persons of intelligence enough to use the language itself in all its fineness and force, but under the particular conditions of life, climate, and temper, which introduce words peculiar to the scenery, forms of word and idioms of sentence peculiar to the race, and pronunciations indicative of their character and disposition.

Thus "burn" (of a streamlet) is a word possible only in a country where there are brightly running waters, "lassie," a word possible only where girls are as free as the rivulets, and "auld," a form of the southern "old," adopted by a race of finer musical ear than the English.

On the contrary, mere deteriorations, or coarse, stridulent, and, in the ordinary sense of the phrase, "broad" forms of utterance, are not dialects at all, having nothing dialectic in them; and all phrases developed in states of rude employment, and restricted intercourse, are injurious to the tone and narrowing to the power of the language they affect.[Pg 200] Mere breadth of accent does not spoil a dialect as long as the speakers are men of varied idea and good intelligence; but the moment the life is contracted by mining, millwork, or any oppressive and monotonous labor, the accents and phrases become debased. It is part of the popular folly of the day to find pleasure in trying to write and spell these abortive, crippled, and more or less brutal forms of human speech.

29. Abortive, crippled, or brutal, are however not necessarily "corrupted" dialects. Corrupt language is that gathered by ignorance, invented by vice, misused by insensibility, or minced and mouthed by affectation, especially in the attempt to deal with words of which only half the meaning is understood or half the sound heard. Mrs. Gamp's "aperiently so"—and the "underminded" with primal sense of undermine, of—I forget which gossip, in the "Mill on the Floss," are master-and mistress-pieces in this latter kind. Mrs. Malaprop's "allegories on the banks of the Nile" are in somewhat higher order of mistake: Mrs. Tabitha Bramble's ignorance is vulgarized by her selfishness, and Winifred Jenkins' by her conceit. The "wot" of Noah Claypole, and the other degradations of cockneyism (Sam Weller and his father are in nothing more admirable than in the power of heart and sense that can purify even these); the "trewth" of Mr. Chadband, and "natur" of Mr. Squeers, are examples of the corruption of words by insensibility: the use of the word "bloody" in modern low English is a deeper corruption, not altering the form of the word, but defiling the thought in it.

Thus much being understood, I shall proceed to examine thoroughly a fragment of Scott's Lowland Scottish dialect; not choosing it of the most beautiful kind; on the contrary, it shall be a piece reaching as low down as he ever allows Scotch to go—it is perhaps the only unfair patriotism in him, that if ever he wants a word or two of really villainous slang, he gives it in English or Dutch—not Scotch.

I had intended in the close of this paper to analyze and[Pg 201] compare the characters of Andrew Fairservice and Richie Moniplies, for examples, the former of innate evil, unaffected by external influences, and undiseased, but distinct from natural goodness as a nettle is distinct from balm or lavender; and the latter of innate goodness, contracted and pinched by circumstance, but still undiseased, as an oak-leaf crisped by frost, not by the worm. This, with much else in my mind, I must put off; but the careful study of one sentence of Andrew's will give us a good deal to think of.

30. I take his account of the rescue of Glasgow Cathedral at the time of the Reformation.

Ah! it's a brave kirk—nane o' yere whigmaleeries an curliewurlies and opensteek hems about it—a' solid, weel-jointed mason-wark, that will stand as lang as the warld, keep hands and gunpowther aff it. It had amaist a douncome lang syne at the Reformation, when they pu'd doun the kirks of St. Andrews and Perth, and thereawa', to cleanse them o' Papery, and idolatry, and image-worship, and surplices, and sic-like rags o' the muckle hure that sitteth on seven hills, as if ane wasna braid eneugh for her auld hinder end. Sae the commons o' Renfrew, and o' the Barony, and the Gorbals, and a' about, they behoved to come into Glasgow ae fair morning, to try their hand on purging the High Kirk o' Popish nicknackets. But the townsmen o' Glasgow, they were feared their auld edifice might slip the girths in gaun through siccan rough physic, sae they rang the common bell, and assembled the train-bands wi' took o' drum. By good luck, the worthy James Rabat was Dean o' Guild that year—(and a gude mason he was himsell, made him the keener to keep up the auld bigging), and the trades assembled, and offered downright battle to the commons, rather than their kirk should coup the crans, as others had done elsewhere. It wasna for luve o' Paperie—na, na!—nane could ever say that o' the trades o' Glasgow—Sae they sune came to an agreement to take a' the idolatrous statues of sants (sorrow be on them!) out o' their neuks—And sae[Pg 202] the bits o' stane idols were broken in pieces by Scripture warrant, and flung into the Molendinar burn, and the auld kirk stood as crouse as a cat when the flaes are kaimed aff her, and a'body was alike pleased. And I hae heard wise folk say, that if the same had been done in ilka kirk in Scotland, the Reform wad just hae been as pure as it is e'en now, and we wad hae mair Christianlike kirks; for I hae been sae lang in England, that naething will drived out o' my head, that the dog-kennel at Osbaldistone-Hall is better than mony a house o' God in Scotland.

31. Now this sentence is in the first place a piece of Scottish history of quite inestimable and concentrated value. Andrew's temperament is the type of a vast class of Scottish—shall we call it "sow-thistlian"—mind, which necessarily takes the view of either Pope or saint that the thistle in Lebanon took of the cedar or lilies in Lebanon; and the entire force of the passions which, in the Scottish revolution, foretold and forearmed the French one, is told in this one paragraph; the coarseness of it, observe, being admitted, not for the sake of the laugh, any more than an onion in broth merely for its flavor, but for the meat of it; the inherent constancy of that coarseness being a fact in this order of mind, and an essential part of the history to be told.

Secondly, observe that this speech, in the religious passion of it, such as there may be, is entirely sincere. Andrew is a thief, a liar, a coward, and, in the Fair service from which he takes his name, a hypocrite; but in the form of prejudice, which is all that his mind is capable of in the place of religion, he is entirely sincere. He does not in the least pretend detestation of image worship to please his master, or anyone else; he honestly scorns the "carnal morality[58] as dowd and fusionless as rue-leaves at Yule" of the sermon in the upper cathedral; and when wrapt in critical attention to the "real savor o' doctrine" in the crypt,[Pg 203] so completely forgets the hypocrisy of his fair service as to return his master's attempt to disturb him with hard punches of the elbow.

Thirdly. He is a man of no mean sagacity, quite up to the average standard of Scottish common sense, not a low one; and, though incapable of understanding any manner of lofty thought or passion, is a shrewd measurer of weaknesses, and not without a spark or two of kindly feeling. See first his sketch of his master's character to Mr. Hammorgaw, beginning: "He's no a'thegither sae void o' sense, neither"; and then the close of the dialogue: "But the lad's no a bad lad after a', and he needs some careful body to look after him."

Fourthly. He is a good workman; knows his own business well, and can judge of other craft, if sound, or otherwise.

All these four qualities of him must be known before we can understand this single speech. Keeping them in mind, I take it up, word by word.

32. You observe, in the outset, Scott makes no attempt whatever to indicate accents or modes of pronunciation by changed spelling, unless the word becomes a quite definitely new, and securely writable one. The Scottish way of pronouncing "James," for instance, is entirely peculiar, and extremely pleasant to the ear. But it is so, just because it does not change the word into Jeems, nor into Jims, nor into Jawms. A modern writer of dialects would think it amusing to use one or other of these ugly spellings. But Scott writes the name in pure English, knowing that a Scots reader will speak it rightly, and an English one be wise in letting it alone. On the other hand he writes "weel" for "well," because that word is complete in its change, and may be very closely expressed by the double e. The ambiguous u's in "gude" and "sune" are admitted, because far liker the sound than the double o would be, and that in "hure," for grace' sake, to soften the word; so also "flaes" for "fleas." "Mony" for "many" is again positively[Pg 204] right in sound, and "neuk" differs from our "nook" in sense, and is not the same word at all, as we shall presently see.

Secondly, observe, not a word is corrupted in any indecent haste, slowness, slovenliness, or incapacity of pronunciation. There is no lisping, drawling, slobbering, or snuffling: the speech is as clear as a bell and as keen as an arrow: and its elisions and contractions are either melodious, ("na," for "not,"—"pu'd," for "pulled,") or as normal as in a Latin verse. The long words are delivered without the slightest bungling; and "bigging" finished to its last g.

33. I take the important words now in their places.

Brave. The old English sense of the word in "to go brave," retained, expressing Andrew's sincere and respectful admiration. Had he meant to insinuate a hint of the church's being too fine, he would have said "braw."

Kirk. This is of course just as pure and unprovincial a word as "Kirche," or "église."

Whigmaleerie. I cannot get at the root of this word, but it is one showing that the speaker is not bound by classic rules, but will use any syllables that will enrich his meaning. "Nipperty-tipperty" (of his master's "poetry-nonsense") is another word of the same class. "Curliewurlie" is of course just as pure as Shakespeare's "Hurlyburly." But see first suggestion of the idea to Scott at Blair-Adam (L. vi. 264).

Opensteek hems. More description, or better, of the later Gothic cannot be put into four syllables. "Steek," melodious for stitch, has a combined sense of closing or fastening. And note that the later Gothic being precisely what Scott knew best (in Melrose) and liked best, it is, here as elsewhere, quite as much himself[59] as Frank, that he is laughing at, when he laughs with Andrew, whose "opensteek hems" are only a ruder metaphor for his own "willow-wreaths changed to stone."[Pg 205]

Gunpowther. "-Ther" is a lingering vestige of the French "-dre."

Syne. One of the melodious and mysterious Scottish words which have partly the sound of wind and stream in them, and partly the range of softened idea which is like a distance of blue hills over border land ("far in the distant Cheviot's blue"). Perhaps even the least sympathetic "Englisher" might recognize this, if he heard "Old Long Since" vocally substituted for the Scottish words to the air. I do not know the root; but the word's proper meaning is not "since," but before or after an interval of some duration, "as weel sune as syne." "But first on Sawnie gies a ca', Syne, bauldly in she enters."

Behoved (to come). A rich word, with peculiar idiom, always used more or less ironically of anything done under a partly mistaken and partly pretended notion of duty.

Siccan. Far prettier, and fuller in meaning than "such." It contains an added sense of wonder; and means properly "so great" or "so unusual."

Took (o' drum). Classical "tuck" from Italian "toccata," the preluding "touch" or flourish, on any instrument (but see Johnson under word "tucket," quoting "Othello"). The deeper Scottish vowels are used here to mark the deeper sound of the bass drum, as in more solemn warning.

Bigging. The only word in all the sentence of which the Scottish form is less melodious than the English, "and what for no," seeing that Scottish architecture is mostly little beyond Bessie Bell's and Mary Gray's? "They biggit a bow're by yon burnside, and theekit it ow're wi' rashes." But it is pure Anglo-Saxon in roots; see glossary to Fairbairn's edition of the Douglas "Virgil," 1710.

Coup. Another of the much-embracing words; short for "upset," but with a sense of awkwardness as the inherent cause of fall; compare Richie Moniplies (also for sense of "behoved"): "Ae auld hirplin deevil of a potter behoved just to step in my way, and offer me a pig (earthen pot—etym. dub.), as he said 'just to put my Scotch ointment in';[Pg 206] and I gave him a push, as but natural, and the tottering deevil coupit owre amang his own pigs, and damaged a score of them." So also Dandie Dinmont in the postchaise: "'Od! I hope they'll no coup us."

The Crans. Idiomatic; root unknown to me, but it means in this use, fall total, and without recovery.[60]

Molendinar. From "molendinum," the grinding-place. I do not know if actually the local name,[61] or Scott's invention. Compare Sir Piercie's "Molinaras." But at all events used here with by-sense of degradation of the formerly idle saints to grind at the mill.

Crouse. Courageous, softened with a sense of comfort.

Ilka. Again a word with azure distance, including the whole sense of "each" and "every." The reader must carefully and reverently distinguish these comprehensive words, which gather two or more perfectly understood meanings into one chord of meaning, and are harmonies more than words, from the above-noted blunders between two half-hit meanings, struck as a bad piano-player strikes the edge of another note. In English we have fewer of these combined thoughts; so that Shakespeare rather plays with the distinct lights of his words, than melts them into one. So again Bishop Douglas spells, and doubtless spoke, the word "rose," differently, according to his purpose; if as the chief or governing ruler of flowers, "rois," but if only in her own beauty, rose.[Pg 207]

Christianlike. The sense of the decency and order proper to Christianity is stronger in Scotland than in any other country, and the word "Christian" more distinctly opposed to "beast." Hence the back-handed cut at the English for their over-pious care of dogs.

34. I am a little surprised myself at the length to which this examination of one small piece of Sir Walter's first-rate work has carried us, but here I must end for this time, trusting, if the Editor of the Nineteenth Century permit me, yet to trespass, perhaps more than once, on his readers' patience; but, at all events, to examine in a following paper the technical characteristics of Scott's own style, both in prose and verse, together with Byron's, as opposed to our fashionably recent dialects and rhythms; the essential virtues of language, in both the masters of the old school, hinging ultimately, little as it might be thought, on certain unalterable views of theirs concerning the code called "of the Ten Commandments," wholly at variance with the dogmas of automatic morality which, summed again by the witches' line, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair," hover through the fog and filthy air of our prosperous England.[Pg 208]


[37] Nineteenth Century, June, 1880.

[38] See Time and Tide, § 72.—Ed.

[39] Nell, in the "Old Curiosity Shop," was simply killed for the market, as a butcher kills a lamb (see Forster's "Life,") and Paul was written under the same conditions of illness which affected Scott—a part of the ominous palsies, grasping alike author and subject both in "Dombey" and "Little Dorrit."

[40] "Chourineur" not striking with dagger-point, but ripping with knife-edge. Yet I do him, and La Louve, injustice in classing them with the two others; they are put together only as parts in the same phantasm. Compare with La Louve, the strength of wild virtue in the "Louvécienne" (Lucienne) of Gaboriau—she, province-born and bred; and opposed to Parisian civilization in the character of her seamstress friend. "De ce Paris, où elle était née, elle savait tout—elle connaissait tout. Rien ne l'étonnait, nul ne l'intimidait. Sa science des détails matériels de l'existence était inconcevable. Impossible de la duper!—Eh bien! cette fille si laborieuse et si économe n'avait même pas la plus vague notion des sentiments qui sont l'honneur de la femme. Je n'avais pas idée d'une si complète absence de sens moral; d'une si inconscience dépravation, d'une impudence si effrontément naïve."—"L'Argent des autres," vol. i. p. 358.

[41] The reader who cares to seek it may easily find medical evidence of the physical effects of certain states of brain disease in producing especially images of truncated and Hermes-like deformity, complicated with grossness. Horace, in the "Epodes," scoffs at it, but not without horror. Luca Signorelli and Raphael in their arabesques are deeply struck by it: Dürer, defying and playing with it alternately, is almost beaten down again and again in the distorted faces, hewing halberts, and suspended satyrs of his arabesques round the polyglot Lord's Prayer; it takes entire possession of Balzac in the "Contes Drolatiques"; it struck Scott in the earliest days of his childish "visions" intensified by the ax-stroke murder of his grand aunt (L. i. 142, and see close of this note). It chose for him the subject of the "Heart of Midlothian," and produced afterwards all the recurrent ideas of executions, tainting "Nigel," almost spoiling "Quentin Durward"—utterly the "Fair Maid of Perth": and culminating in "Bizarro" (L. x. 149). It suggested all the deaths by falling, or sinking, as in delirious sleep—Kennedy, Eveline Neville (nearly repeated in Clara Mowbray), Amy Robsart, the Master of Ravenswood in the quicksand, Morris, and Corporal Grace-be-here—compare the dream of Gride, in "Nicholas Nickleby," and Dickens's own last words, on the ground (so also, in my own inflammation of the brain, two years ago, I dreamed that I fell through the earth and came out on the other side). In its grotesque and distorting power, it produced all the figures of the Lay Goblin, Pacolet, Flibbertigibbet, Cockledemoy, Geoffrey Hudson, Fenella, and Nectabanus; in Dickens it in like manner gives Quilp, Krook, Smike, Smallweed, Miss Mowcher, and the dwarfs and wax-work of Nell's caravan; and runs entirely wild in "Barnaby Budge," where, with a corps de drame composed of one idiot, two madmen, a gentleman-fool who is also a villain, a shop-boy fool who is also a blackguard, a hangman, a shriveled virago, and a doll in ribbons—carrying this company through riot and fire, till he hangs the hangman, one of the madmen, his mother, and the idiot, runs the gentleman-fool through in a bloody duel, and burns and crushes the shop-boy fool into shapelessness, he cannot yet be content without shooting the spare lover's leg off, and marrying him to the doll in a wooden one; the shapeless shop-boy being finally also married in two wooden ones. It is this mutilation, observe, which is the very sign manual of the plague; joined, in the artistic forms of it, with a love of thorniness—(in their mystic root, the truncation of the limbless serpent and the spines of the dragon's wing. Compare "Modern Painters," vol. iv., "Chapter on the Mountain Gloom," s. 19); and in all forms of it, with petrifaction or loss of power by cold in the blood, whence the last Darwinian process of the witches' charm—"cool it with a baboon's blood, then the charm is firm and good." The two frescoes in the colossal handbills which have lately decorated the streets of London (the baboon with the mirror, and the Maskelyne and Cooke decapitation) are the final English forms of Raphael's arabesque under this influence; and it is well worth while to get the number for the week ending April 3, 1880, of "Young Folks—a magazine of instructive and entertaining literature for boys and girls of all ages," containing "A Sequel to Desdichado" (the modern development of Ivanhoe), in which a quite monumental example of the kind of art in question will be found as a leading illustration of this characteristic sentence, "See, good Cerberus," said Sir Rupert, "my hand has been struck off. You must make me a hand of iron, one with springs in it, so that I can make it grasp a dagger." The text is also, as it professes to be, instructive; being the ultimate degeneration of what I have above called the "folly" of "Ivanhoe"; for the folly begets folly down, and down; and whatever Scott and Turner did wrong has thousands of imitators—their wisdom none will so much as hear, how much less follow!

In both of the Masters, it is always to be remembered that the evil and good are alike conditions of literal vision: and therefore also, inseparably connected with the state of the health. I believe the first elements of all Scott's errors were in the milk of his consumptive nurse, which all but killed him as an infant (L. i. 19)—and was without doubt the cause of the teething fever that ended in his lameness (L. i. 20). Then came (if the reader cares to know what I mean by "Fors," let him read the page carefully) the fearful accidents to his only sister, and her death (L. i. 17); then the madness of his nurse, who planned his own murder (21), then the stories continually told him of the executions at Carlisle (24), his aunt's husband having seen them; issuing, he himself scarcely knows how, in the unaccountable terror that came upon him at the sight of statuary (31)—especially Jacob's ladder; then the murder of Mrs. Swinton, and finally the nearly fatal bursting of the blood vessel at Kelso, with the succeeding nervous illness (65-67)—solaced, while he was being "bled and blistered till he had scarcely a pulse left," by that history of the Knights of Malta—fondly dwelt on and realized by actual modeling of their fortress, which returned to his mind for the theme of its last effort in passing away.

[42] "Se dit par dénigrement, d'un chrétien qui ne croit pas les dogmes de sa religion."—Fleming, vol. ii. p. 659.

[43] The novel alluded to is "The Mill on the Floss." See below, p. 272, § 108.—Ed.

[44] "A son nom," properly. The sentence is one of Victor Cherbuliez's, in "Prosper Randoce," which is full of other valuable ones. See the old nurse's "ici bas les choses vont de travers, comme un chien qui va à vêpres," p. 93; and compare Prosper's treasures, "la petite Vénus, et le petit Christ d'ivoire," p. 121; also Madame Brehanne's request for the divertissement of "quelque belle batterie à coups de couteau" with Didier's answer. "Hélas! madame, vous jouez de malheur, ici dans la Drôme, l'on se massacre aussi peu que possible," p. 33.

[45] Edgeworth's "Tales," (Hunter, 1827), "Harrington and Ormond," vol. iii. p. 260.

[46] Alice of Salisbury, Alice Lee, Alice Bridgnorth.

[47] Scott's father was habitually ascetic. "I have heard his son tell that it was common with him, if any one observed that the soup was good, to taste it again, and say, 'Yes—it is too good, bairns,' and dash a tumbler of cold water into his plate."—Lockhart's "Life" (Black, Edinburgh, 1869), vol. i. p. 312. In other places I refer to this book in the simple form of "L."

[48] A young lady sang to me, just before I copied out this page for press, a Miss Somebody's "great song," "Live, and Love, and Die." Had it been written for nothing better than silkworms, it should at least have added—Spin.

[49] See passage of introduction to "Ivanhoe," wisely quoted in L. vi. 106.

[50] See below, note, p. 199, on the conclusion of "Woodstock."

[51] The reference is to a series of "Waverley Tableaux" given in London shortly before the publication of this paper.—Ed.

[52] L. iv. 177.

[53] L. vi. 67.

[54] "One other such novel, and there's an end; but who can last forever? who ever lasted so long?"—Sydney Smith (of the Pirate) to Jeffrey, December 30, 1821. (Letters, vol. ii. p. 223.)

[55] L. vi. p. 188. Compare the description of Fairy Dean, vii. 192.

[56] All, alas! were now in a great measure so written. "Ivanhoe," "The Monastery," "The Abbot," and "Kenilworth" were all published between December 1819 and January 1821, Constable & Co. giving five thousand guineas for the remaining copyright of them, Scott clearing ten thousand before the bargain was completed; and before the "Fortunes of Nigel" issued from the press Scott had exchanged instruments and received his bookseller's bills for no less than four "works of fiction," not one of them otherwise described in the deeds of agreement, to be produced in unbroken succession, each of them to fill up at least three volumes, but with proper saving clauses as to increase of copy money in case any of them should run to four; and within two years all this anticipation had been wiped off by "Peveril of the Peak," "Quentin Durward," "St. Ronan's Well," and "Redgauntlet."

[57] "Woodstock" was finished 26th March, 1826. He knew then of his ruin; and wrote in bitterness, but not in weakness. The closing pages are the most beautiful of the book. But a month afterwards Lady Scott died; and he never wrote glad word more.

[58] Compare Mr. Spurgeon's not unfrequent orations on the same subject.

[59] There are three definite and intentional portraits of himself, in the novels, each giving a separate part of himself: Mr. Oldbuck, Frank Osbaldistone, and Alan Fairford.

[60] See note, p. 224.—Ed.

[61] Andrew knows Latin, and might have coined the word in his conceit; but, writing to a kind friend in Glasgow, I find the brook was called "Molyndona" even before the building of the Subdean Mill in 1446. See also account of the locality in Mr. George's admirable volume, "Old Glasgow," pp. 129, 149, etc. The Protestantism of Glasgow, since throwing that powder of saints into her brook Kidron, has presented it with other pious offerings; and my friend goes on to say that the brook, once famed for the purity of its waters (much used for bleaching), "has for nearly a hundred years been a crawling stream of loathsomeness. It is now bricked over, and a carriage-way made on the top of it; underneath the foul mess still passes through the heart of the city, till it falls into the Clyde close to the harbor."



35. "He hated greetings in the market-place, and there were generally loiterers in the streets to persecute him either about the events of the day, or about some petty pieces of business."

These lines, which the reader will find near the beginning of the sixteenth chapter of the first volume of the "Antiquary," contain two indications of the old man's character, which, receiving the ideal of him as a portrait of Scott himself, are of extreme interest to me. They mean essentially that neither Monkbarns nor Scott had any mind to be called of men, Rabbi, in mere hearing of the mob; and especially that they hated to be drawn back out of their far-away thoughts, or forward out of their long-ago thoughts, by any manner of "daily" news, whether printed or gabbled. Of which two vital characteristics, deeper in both men, (for I must always speak of Scott's creations as if they were as real as himself,) than any of their superficial vanities, or passing enthusiasms, I have to speak more at another time. I quote the passage just now, because there was one piece of the daily news of the year 1815 which did extremely interest Scott, and materially direct the labor of the latter part of his life; nor is there any piece of history in this whole nineteenth century quite so pregnant with various instruction as the study of the reasons which influenced Scott and Byron in their opposite views of the glories of the battle of Waterloo.

36. But I quote it for another reason also. The principal greeting which Mr. Oldbuck on this occasion receives in the market-place, being compared with the speech of Andrew[Pg 209] Fairservice, examined in my first paper, will furnish me with the text of what I have mainly to say in the present one.

"'Mr. Oldbuck,' said the town-clerk (a more important person, who came in front and ventured to stop the old gentleman), 'the provost, understanding you were in town, begs on no account that you'll quit it without seeing him; he wants to speak to ye about bringing the water frae the Fairwell spring through a part o' your lands.'

"'What the deuce!—have they nobody's land but mine to cut and carve on?—I won't consent, tell them.'

"'And the provost,' said the clerk, going on, without noticing the rebuff, 'and the council, wad be agreeable that you should hae the auld stanes at Donagild's Chapel, that ye was wussing to hae.'

"'Eh?—what?—Oho! that's another story—Well, well, I'll call upon the provost, and we'll talk about it.'

"'But ye maun speak your mind on't forthwith, Monkbarns, if ye want the stanes; for Deacon Harlewalls thinks the carved through-stanes might be put with advantage on the front of the new council house—that is, the twa cross-legged figures that the callants used to ca' Robbin and Bobbin, ane on ilka door-cheek; and the other stane, that they ca'd Ailie Dailie, abune the door. It will be very tastefu', the Deacon says, and just in the style of modern Gothic.'

"'Good Lord deliver me from this Gothic generation!' exclaimed the Antiquary,—'a monument of a knight-templar on each side of a Grecian porch, and a Madonna on the top of it!—O crimini!—Well, tell the provost I wish to have the stones, and we'll not differ about the water-course.—It's lucky I happened to come this way to-day.'

"They parted mutually satisfied; but the wily clerk had most reason to exult in the dexterity he had displayed, since the whole proposal of an exchange between the monuments (which the council had determined to remove as a nuisance, because they encroached three feet upon the public road) and the privilege of conveying the water to the burgh, through[Pg 210] the estate of Monkbarns, was an idea which had originated with himself upon the pressure of the moment."

37. In this single page of Scott, will the reader please note the kind of prophetic instinct with which the great men of every age mark and forecast its destinies? The water from the Fairwell is the future Thirlmere carried to Manchester; the "auld stanes"[63] at Donagild's Chapel, removed as a nuisance, foretell the necessary view taken by modern cockneyism, Liberalism, and progress, of all things that remind them of the noble dead, of their fathers' fame, or of their own duty; and the public road becomes their idol, instead of the saint's shrine. Finally, the roguery of the entire transaction—the mean man seeing the weakness of the hon[Pg 211]orable, and "besting" him—in modern slang, in the manner and at the pace of modern trade—"on the pressure of the moment."

But neither are these things what I have at present quoted the passage for.

I quote it, that we may consider how much wonderful and various history is gathered in the fact recorded for us in this piece of entirely fair fiction, that in the Scottish borough of Fairport (Montrose, really), in the year 17—of Christ, the knowledge given by the pastors and teachers provided for its children by enlightened Scottish Protestantism, of their fathers' history, and the origin of their religion, had resulted in this substance and sum;—that the statues of two[Pg 212] crusading knights had become, to their children, Bobbin and Bobbin; and the statue of the Madonna, Ailie Dailie.

A marvelous piece of history, truly: and far too comprehensive for general comment here. Only one small piece of it I must carry forward the readers' thoughts upon.

38. The pastors and teachers aforesaid, (represented typically in another part of this errorless book by Mr. Blattergowl,) are not, whatever else they may have to answer for, answerable for these names. The names are of the children's own choosing and bestowing, but not of the children's own inventing. "Robin" is a classically endearing cognomen, recording the errant heroism of old days—the name of the Bruce and of Rob Roy. "Bobbin" is a poetical and symmetrical fulfillment and adornment of the original phrase. "Ailie" is the last echo of "Ave," changed into the softest Scottish Christian name familiar to the children, itself the beautiful feminine form of royal "Louis"; the "Dailie" again symmetrically added for kinder and more musical endearment. The last vestiges, you see, of honor for the heroism and religion of their ancestors, lingering on the lips of babes and sucklings.

But what is the meaning of this necessity the children find themselves under of completing the nomenclature rhythmically and rhymingly? Note first the difference carefully, and the attainment of both qualities by the couplets in question. Rhythm is the syllabic and quantitative measure of the words, in which Robin both in weight and time, balances Bobbin; and Dailie holds level scale with Ailie. But rhyme is the added correspondence of sound; unknown and undesired, so far as we can learn, by the Greek Orpheus, but absolutely essential to, and, as special virtue, becoming titular of, the Scottish Thomas.

39. The "Ryme,"[64] you may at first fancy, is the especially childish part of the work. Not so. It is the espe[Pg 213]cially chivalric and Christian part of it. It characterizes the Christian chant or canticle, as a higher thing than a Greek ode, melos, or hymnos, or than a Latin carmen.

Think of it; for this again is wonderful! That these children of Montrose should have an element of music in their souls which Homer had not,—which a melos of David the Prophet and King had not,—which Orpheus and Amphion had not,—which Apollo's unrymed oracles became mute at the sound of.

A strange new equity this,—melodious justice and judgment, as it were,—in all words spoken solemnly and ritualistically by Christian human creatures;—Robin and Bobbin—by the Crusader's tomb, up to "Dies iræ, dies illa," at judgment of the crusading soul.

You have to understand this most deeply of all Christian minstrels, from first to last; that they are more musical, because more joyful, than any others on earth: ethereal minstrels, pilgrims of the sky, true to the kindred points of heaven and home; their joy essentially the sky-lark's, in light, in purity; but, with their human eyes, looking for the glorious appearing of something in the sky, which the bird cannot.

This it is that changes Etruscan murmur into Terza rima—Horatian Latin into Provençal troubadour's melody; not, because less artful, less wise.

40. Here is a little bit, for instance, of French ryming just before Chaucer's time—near enough to our own French to be intelligible to us yet.

"O quant très-glorieuse vie,
Quant cil qui tout peut et maistrie,
Veult esprouver pour nécessaire,
Ne pour quant il ne blasma mie
La vie de Marthe sa mie:
Mais il lui donna exemplaire
D'autrement vivre, et de bien plaire
A Dieu; et plut de bien à faire:
Pour se conclut-il que Marie
[Pg 214]Qui estoit à ses piedz sans braire,
Et pensoit d'entendre et de taire,
Estleut la plus saine partie.

La meilleur partie esleut-elle
Et la plus saine et la plus belle,
Qui jà ne luy sera ostée
Car par vérité se fut celle
Qui fut tousjours fresche et nouvelle,
D'aymer Dieu et d'en estre aymée;
Car jusqu'au cueur fut entamée,
Et si ardamment enflamée,
Que tousjours ardoit I'estincelle;
Par quoi elle fut visitée
Et de Dieu premier confortée;
Car charité est trop ysnelle."

41. The only law of meter, observed in this song, is that each line shall be octosyllabic:

Qui fut | tousjours | fresche et | nouvelle,
D'autre | ment vi | vret de | bien (ben) plaire
Et pen | soit den | tendret | de taire.

But the reader must note that words which were two-syllabled in Latin mostly remain yet so in the French.

La vi | e de | Marthe | sa mie,

although mie, which is pet language, loving abbreviation of amica through amie, remains monosyllabic. But vie elides its e before a vowel:

Car Mar- | the me | nait vie | active
Et Ma- | ri-e | contemp | lative;

and custom endures many exceptions. Thus Marie may be three-syllabled, as above, or answer to mie as a dissyllable; but vierge is always, I think, dissyllabic, vier-ge, with even stronger accent on the -ge, for the Latin -go.

Then, secondly, of quantity, there is scarcely any fixed law. The meters may be timed as the minstrel chooses—fast or slow—and the iambic current checked in reverted eddy, as the words chance to come.

But, thirdly, there is to be rich ryming and chiming, no matter how simply got, so only that the words jingle and[Pg 215] tingle together with due art of interlacing and answering in different parts of the stanza, correspondent to the involutions of tracery and illumination. The whole twelve-line stanza is thus constructed with two rymes only, six of each, thus arranged:

A A B | A A B | B B A | B B A |

dividing the verse thus into four measures, reversed in ascent and descent, or descant more properly; and doubtless with correspondent phases in the voice-given, and duly accompanying, or following, music; Thomas the Rymer's own precept, that "tong is chefe in mynstrelsye," being always kept faithfully in mind.[65]

42. Here then you have a sufficient example of the pure chant of the Christian ages; which is always at heart joyful, and divides itself into the four great forms; Song of Praise, Song of Prayer, Song of Love, and Song of Battle; praise, however, being the keynote of passion through all the four forms; according to the first law which I have already given in the "Laws of Fésole"; "all great Art is Praise," of which the contrary is also true, all foul or miscreant Art is accusation, διαβολἱ: "She gave me of the tree and I did eat" being an entirely museless expression on Adam's part, the briefly essential contrary of Love-song.

With these four perfect forms of Christian chant, of which we may take for pure examples the "Te Deum," the "Te Lucis Ante," the "Amor che nella mente,"[66] and the "Chant de Roland," are mingled songs of mourning, of Pagan origin (whether Greek or Danish), holding grasp still of the races that have once learned them, in times of suffering and sor[Pg 216]row; and songs of Christian humiliation or grief, regarding chiefly the sufferings of Christ, or the conditions of our own sin: while through the entire system of these musical complaints are interwoven moralities, instructions, and related histories, in illustration of both, passing into Epic and Romantic verse, which gradually, as the forms and learnings of society increase, becomes less joyful, and more didactic, or satiric, until the last echoes of Christian joy and melody vanish in the "Vanity of human wishes."

43. And here I must pause for a minute or two to separate the different branches of our inquiry clearly from one another. For one thing, the reader must please put for the present out of his head all thought of the progress of "civilization"—that is to say, broadly, of the substitution of wigs for hair, gas for candles, and steam for legs. This is an entirely distinct matter from the phases of policy and religion. It has nothing to do with the British Constitution, or the French Revolution, or the unification of Italy. There are, indeed, certain subtle relations between the state of mind, for instance, in Venice, which makes her prefer a steamer to a gondola, and that which makes her prefer a gazetteer to a duke; but these relations are not at all to be dealt with until we solemnly understand that whether men shall be Christians and poets, or infidels and dunces, does not depend on the way they cut their hair, tie their breeches, or light their fires. Dr. Johnson might have worn his wig in fullness conforming to his dignity, without therefore coming to the conclusion that human wishes were vain; nor is Queen Antoinette's civilized hair-powder, as opposed to Queen Bertha's savagely loose hair, the cause of Antoinette's laying her head at last in scaffold dust, but Bertha in a pilgrim-haunted tomb.

44. Again, I have just now used the words "poet" and "dunce," meaning the degree of each quality possible to average human nature. Men are eternally divided into the two classes of poet (believer, maker, and praiser) and dunce (or unbeliever, unmaker, and dispraiser). And in process of[Pg 217] ages they have the power of making faithful and formative creatures of themselves, or unfaithful and de-formative. And this distinction between the creatures who, blessing, are blessed, and evermore benedicti, and the creatures who, cursing, are cursed, and evermore maledicti, is one going through all humanity; antediluvian in Cain and Abel, diluvian in Ham and Shem. And the question for the public of any given period is not whether they are a constitutional or unconstitutional vulgus, but whether they are a benignant or malignant vulgus. So also, whether it is indeed the gods who have given any gentleman the grace to despise the rabble, depends wholly on whether it is indeed the rabble, or he, who are the malignant persons.

45. But yet again. This difference between the persons to whom Heaven, according to Orpheus, has granted "the hour of delight,"[67] and those whom it has condemned to the hour of detestableness, being, as I have just said, of all times and nations,—it is an interior and more delicate difference which we are examining in the gift of Christian as distinguished from unchristian, song. Orpheus, Pindar, and Horace are indeed distinct from the prosaic rabble, as the bird from the snake; but between Orpheus and Palestrina, Horace and Sidney, there is another division, and a new power of music and song given to the humanity which has hope of the Resurrection.

This is the root of all life and all rightness in Christian harmony, whether of word or instrument; and so literally, that in precise manner as this hope disappears, the power of song is taken away, and taken away utterly. "When the Christian falls back out of the bright hope of the Resurrection, even the Orpheus song is forbidden him. Not to have known the hope is blameless: one may sing, unknowing, as the swan, or Philomela. But to have known and fall away from it, and to declare that the human wishes, which are[Pg 218] summed in that one—"Thy kingdom come"—are vain! The Fates ordain there shall be no singing after that denial.

46. For observe this, and earnestly. The old Orphic song, with its dim hope of yet once more Eurydice,—the Philomela song—granted after the cruel silence,—the Halcyon song—with its fifteen days of peace, were all sad, or joyful only in some vague vision of conquest over death. But the Johnsonian vanity of wishes is on the whole satisfactory to Johnson—accepted with gentlemanly resignation by Pope—triumphantly and with bray of penny trumpets and blowing of steam-whistles, proclaimed for the glorious discovery of the civilized ages, by Mrs. Barbauld, Miss Edgeworth, Adam Smith, and Co. There is no God, but have we not invented gunpowder?—who wants a God, with that in his pocket?[68] There is no Resurrection, neither angel nor spirit; but have we not paper and pens, and cannot every blockhead print his opinions, and the Day of Judgment become Republican, with everybody for a judge, and the flat of the universe for the throne? There is no law, but only gravitation and congelation, and we are stuck together in an everlasting hail, and melted together in everlasting mud, and great was the day in which our worships were born. And there is no gospel, but only, whatever we've got, to get more, and, wherever we are, to go somewhere else. And are not these discoveries, to be sung of, and drummed of, and fiddled of, and generally[Pg 219] made melodiously indubitable in the eighteenth century song of praise?

47. The Fates will not have it so. No word of song is possible, in that century, to mortal lips. Only polished versification, sententious pentameter and hexameter, until, having turned out its toes long enough without dancing, and pattered with its lips long enough without piping, suddenly Astræa returns to the earth, and a Day of Judgment of a sort, and there bursts out a song at last again, a most curtly melodious triplet of Amphisbænic ryme, "Ça ira."

Amphisbænic, fanged in each ryme with fire, and obeying Ercildoune's precept, "Tong is chefe of mynstrelsye," to the syllable.—Don Giovanni's hitherto fondly chanted "Andiam, andiam," become suddenly impersonal and prophetic: It shall go, and you also. A cry—before it is a song, then song and accompaniment together—perfectly done; and the march "towards the field of Mars. The two hundred and fifty thousand—they to the sound of stringed music—preceded by young girls with tricolor streamers, they have shouldered soldierwise their shovels and picks, and with one throat are singing Ça ira."[69]

Through all the springtime of 1790, from Brittany to Burgundy, on most plains of France, under most city walls, there march and constitutionally wheel to the Ça-iraing mood of fife and drum—our clear glancing phalanxes;—the song of the two hundred and fifty thousand, virgin-led, is in the long light of July. Nevertheless, another song is yet needed, for phalanx, and for maid. For, two springs and summers having gone—amphisbænic,—on the 28th of August, 1792, "Dumouriez rode from the camp of Maulde, eastwards to Sedan."[70]

48. "And Longwi has fallen basely, and Brunswick and the Prussian king will beleaguer Verdun, and Clairfait and the Austrians press deeper in over the northern marches,[Pg 220] Cimmerian Europe behind. And on that same night Dumouriez assembles council of war at his lodgings in Sedan. Prussians here, Austrians there, triumphant both. With broad highway to Paris and little hindrance—we scattered, helpless here and there—what to advise?" The generals advise retreating, and retreating till Paris be sacked at the latest day possible. Dumouriez, silent, dismisses them,—keeps only, with a sign, Thouvenot. Silent thus, when needful, yet having voice, it appears, of what musicians call tenor quality, of a rare kind. Rubini-esque, even, but scarcely producible to the fastidious ears at opera. The seizure of the forest of Argonne follows—the cannonade of Valmy. The Prussians do not march on Paris this time, the autumnal hours of fate pass on—ça ira—and on the 6th of November, Dumouriez meets the Austrians also. "Dumouriez wide-winged, they wide-winged—at and around Jemappes, its green heights fringed and maned with red fire. And Dumouriez is swept back on this wing and swept back on that, and is like to be swept back utterly, when he rushes up in person, speaks a prompt word or two, and then, with clear tenor-pipe, uplifts the hymn of the Marseillaise, ten thousand tenor or bass pipes joining, or say some forty thousand in all, for every heart leaps up at the sound; and so, with rhythmic march melody, they rally, they advance, they rush death-defying, and like the fire whirlwind sweep all manner of Austrians from the scene of action." Thus, through the lips of Dumouriez, sings Tyrtæus, Rouget de Lisle.[71] "Aux armes—marchons." Iambic measure with a witness! in what wide strophe here beginning—in what unthought-of antistrophe returning to that council chamber in Sedan!

49. While these two great songs were thus being composed, and sung, and danced to in cometary cycle, by the French nation, here in our less giddy island there rose, amidst hours of business in Scotland and of idleness in Eng[Pg 221]land, three troubadours of quite different temper. Different also themselves, but not opponent; forming a perfect chord, and adverse all the three of them alike to the French musicians, in this main point—that while the Ca ira and Marseillaise were essentially songs of blame and wrath, the British bards wrote, virtually, always songs of praise, though by no means psalmody in the ancient keys. On the contrary, all the three are alike moved by a singular antipathy to the priests, and are pointed at with fear and indignation by the pietists, of their day;—not without latent cause. For they are all of them, with the most loving service, servants of that world which the Puritan and monk alike despised; and, in the triple chord of their song, could not but appear to the religious persons around them as respectively and specifically the praisers—Scott of the world, Burns of the flesh, and Byron of the devil.

To contend with this carnal orchestra, the religious world, having long ago rejected its Catholic Psalms as antiquated and unscientific, and finding its Puritan melodies sunk into faint jar and twangle from their native trumpet-tone, had nothing to oppose but the innocent, rather than religious, verses of the school recognized as that of the English Lakes; very creditable to them; domestic at once and refined; observing the errors of the world outside of the Lakes with a pitying and tender indignation, and arriving in lacustrine seclusion at many valuable principles of philosophy, as pure as the tarns of their mountains, and of corresponding depth.[72]

50. I have lately seen, and with extreme pleasure, Mr. Matthew Arnold's arrangement of Wordsworth's poems; and read with sincere interest his high estimate of them. But a great poet's work never needs arrangement by other hands; and though it is very proper that Silver How should clearly understand and brightly praise its fraternal Rydal Mount,[Pg 222] we must not forget that, over yonder, are the Andes, all the while.

Wordsworth's rank and scale among poets were determined by himself, in a single exclamation:

"What was the great Parnassus' self to thee,
Mount Skiddaw?"

Answer his question faithfully, and you have the relation between the great masters of the Muse's teaching and the pleasant fingerer of his pastoral flute among the reeds of Rydal.

Wordsworth is simply a Westmoreland peasant, with considerably less shrewdness than most border Englishmen or Scotsmen inherit; and no sense of humor: but gifted (in this singularly) with vivid sense of natural beauty, and a pretty turn for reflections, not always acute, but, as far as they reach, medicinal to the fever of the restless and corrupted life around him. Water to parched lips may be better than Samian wine, but do not let us therefore confuse the qualities of wine and water. I much doubt there being many inglorious Miltons in our country churchyards; but I am very sure there are many Wordsworths resting there, who were inferior to the renowned one only in caring less to hear themselves talk.

With an honest and kindly heart, a stimulating egoism, a wholesome contentment in modest circumstances, and such sufficient ease, in that accepted state, as permitted the passing of a good deal of time in wishing that daisies could see the beauty of their own shadows, and other such profitable mental exercises, Wordsworth has left us a series of studies of the graceful and happy shepherd life of our lake country, which to me personally, for one, are entirely sweet and precious; but they are only so as the mirror of an existent reality in many ways more beautiful than its picture.

51. But the other day I went for an afternoon's rest into the cottage of one of our country people of old statesman class; cottage lying nearly midway between two village[Pg 223] churches, but more conveniently for downhill walk towards one than the other. I found, as the good housewife made tea for me, that nevertheless she went up the hill to church. "Why do not you go to the nearer church?" I asked. "Don't you like the clergyman?" "Oh no, sir," she answered, "it isn't that; but you know I couldn't leave my mother." "Your mother! she is buried at H—— then?" "Yes, sir; and you know I couldn't go to church anywhere else."

That feelings such as these existed among the peasants, not of Cumberland only, but of all the tender earth that gives forth her fruit for the living, and receives her dead to peace, might perhaps have been, to our great and endless comfort, discovered before now, if Wordsworth had been content to tell us what he knew of his own villages and people, not as the leader of a new and only correct school of poetry, but simply as a country gentleman of sense and feeling, fond of primroses, kind to the parish children, and reverent of the spade with which Wilkinson had tilled his lands: and I am by no means sure that his influence on the stronger minds of his time was anywise hastened or extended by the spirit of tunefulness under whose guidance he discovered that heaven rymed to seven, and Foy to boy.

52. Tuneful nevertheless at heart, and of the heavenly choir, I gladly and frankly acknowledge him; and our English literature enriched with a new and a singular virtue in the aërial purity and healthful rightness of his quiet song;—but aërial only,—not ethereal; and lowly in its privacy of light.

A measured mind, and calm; innocent, unrepentant; helpful to sinless creatures and scathless, such of the flock as do not stray. Hopeful at least, if not faithful; content with intimations of immortality such as may be in skipping of lambs, and laughter of children—incurious to see in the hands the print of the Nails.

A gracious and constant mind; as the herbage of its native hills, fragrant and pure;—yet, to the sweep and the shadow, the stress and distress, of the greater souls of men,[Pg 224] as the tufted thyme to the laurel wilderness of Tempe,—as the gleaming euphrasy to the dark branches of Dodona.

[I am obliged to defer the main body of this paper to next month,—revises penetrating all too late into my lacustrine seclusion; as chanced also unluckily with the preceding paper, in which the reader will perhaps kindly correct the consequent misprints [now corrected, Ed.], p. 203, l. 23, of "scarcely" to "securely," and p. 206, l. 6, "full," with comma to "fall," without one; noticing besides that "Redgauntlet" has been omitted in the list, pp. 198, 199; and that the reference to note should not be at the word "imagination," p. 198, l. 6, but at the word "trade," l. 15. My dear old friend, Dr. John Brown, sends me, from Jamieson's Dictionary, the following satisfactory end to one of my difficulties:—"Coup the crans." The language is borrowed from the "cran," or trivet on which small pots are placed in cookery, which is sometimes turned with its feet uppermost by an awkward assistant. Thus it signifies to be completely upset.]

[Pg 225]

"Abbotsford: April 21, 1817.

"Dear Sir,—Nothing can be more obliging than your attention to the old stones. You have been as true as the sundial itself." [The sundial had just been erected.] "Of the two I would prefer the larger one, as it is to be in front of a parapet quite in the old taste. But in case of accidents it will be safest in your custody till I come to town again on the 12th of May. Your former favors (which were weighty as acceptable) have come safely out here, and will be disposed of with great effect."

"Abbotsford: July 30th.

"I fancy the Tolbooth still keeps its feet, but, as it must soon descend, I hope you will remember me. I have an important use for the niche above the door; and though many a man has got a niche in the Tolbooth by building, I believe I am the first that ever got a niche out of it on such an occasion. For which I have to thank your kindness, and to remain very much your obliged humble servant,

"Walter Scott."
"August 16.

"My Dear Sir,—I trouble you with this [sic] few lines to thank you for the very accurate drawings and measurements of the Tolbooth door, and for your kind promise to attend to my interest and that of Abbotsford in the matter of the Thistle and Fleur de Lis. Most of our scutcheons are now mounted, and look very well, as the house is something after the model of an old hall (not a castle), where such things are well in character." [Alas—Sir Walter, Sir Walter!] "I intend the old lion to predominate over a well which the children have christened the Fountain of the Lions. His present den, however, continues to be the hall at Castle Street."

"September 5.

"Dear Sir,—I am greatly obliged to you for securing the stone. I am not sure that I will put up the gate quite in the old form, but I would like to secure the means of doing so. The ornamental stones are now put up, and have a very happy effect. If you will have the kindness to let me know when the Tolbooth door comes down, I will send in my carts for the stones; I have an admirable situation for it. I suppose the door itself" [he means the wooden one] "will be kept for the new jail; if not, and not otherwise wanted, I would esteem it curious to possess it. Certainly I hope so many sore hearts will not pass through the celebrated door when in my possession as heretofore."

"September 8.

"I should esteem it very fortunate if I could have the door also, though I suppose it is modern, having been burned down at the time of Porteous-mob.

"I am very much obliged to the gentlemen who thought these remains of the Heart of Midlothian are not ill bestowed on their intended possessor."


[62] August, 1880.

[63] The following fragments out of the letters in my own possession, written by Scott to the builder of Abbotsford, as the outer decorations of the house were in process of completion, will show how accurately Scott had pictured himself in Monkbarns.

[64] Henceforward, not in affectation, but for the reader's better convenience, I shall continue to spell "Ryme" without our wrongly added h.

[65] L. ii. 278.

[66] "Che nella mente mia ragiona." Love—you observe, the highest Reasonableness, instead of French ivresse, or even Shakespearian "mere folly"; and Beatrice as the Goddess of Wisdom in this third song of the Convito, to be compared with the Revolutionary Goddess of Reason; remembering of the whole poem chiefly the line:—

"Costei penso chi che mosso l'universo."

(See Lyell's "Canzoniere," p. 104.)

[67] ὡραν της τἑρπσιος—Plato, "Laws," ii., Steph. 669. "Hour" having here nearly the power of "Fate" with added sense of being a daughter of Themis.

[68] "Gunpowder is one of the greatest inventions of modern times, and what has given such a superiority to civilized nations over barbarous"! ("Evenings at Home"—fifth evening.) No man can owe more than I both to Mrs. Barbauld and Miss Edgeworth; and I only wish that in the substance of what they wisely said, they had been more listened to. Nevertheless, the germs of all modern conceit and error respecting manufacture and industry, as rivals to Art and to Genius, are concentrated in "Evenings at Home" and "Harry and Lucy"—being all the while themselves works of real genius, and prophetic of things that have yet to be learned and fulfilled. See for instance the paper, "Things by their Right Names," following the one from which I have just quoted ("The Ship"), and closing the first volume of the old edition of the "Evenings."

[69] Carlyle, "French Revolution" (Chapman, 1869), vol. ii. p. 70; conf. p. 25, and the Ça ira at Arras, vol. iii. p. 276.

[70] Ibid. iii. 26.

[71] Carlyle, "French Revolution," iii. 106, the last sentence altered in a word or two.

[72] I have been greatly disappointed, in taking soundings of our most majestic mountain pools, to find them, in no case, verge on the unfathomable.




"Parching summer hath no warrant
To consume this crystal well;
Rains, that make each brook a torrent,
Neither sully it, nor swell."

53. So was it year by year, among the unthought-of hills. Little Duddon and child Rotha ran clear and glad; and laughed from ledge to pool, and opened from pool to mere, translucent, through endless days of peace.

But eastward, between her orchard plains, Loire locked her embracing dead in silent sands; dark with blood rolled Iser; glacial-pale, Beresina-Lethe, by whose shore the weary hearts forgot their people, and their father's house.

Nor unsullied, Tiber; nor unswoln, Arno and Aufidus; and Euroclydon high on Helle's wave; meantime, let our happy piety glorify the garden rocks with snowdrop circlet, and breathe the spirit of Paradise, where life is wise and innocent.

Maps many have we, nowadays clear in display of earth constituent, air current, and ocean tide. Shall we ever engrave the map of meaner research, whose shadings shall content themselves in the task of showing the depth, or drought,—the calm, or trouble, of Human Compassion?

54. For this is indeed all that is noble in the life of Man, and the source of all that is noble in the speech of Man. Had it narrowed itself then, in those days, out of all the world, into this peninsula between Cockermouth and Shap?[Pg 226]

Not altogether so; but indeed the Vocal piety seemed conclusively to have retired (or excursed?) into that mossy hermitage, above Little Langdale. The Unvocal piety, with the uncomplaining sorrow, of Man, may have a somewhat wider range, for aught we know: but history disregards those items; and of firmly proclaimed and sweetly canorous religion, there really seemed at that juncture none to be reckoned upon, east of Ingleborough, or north of Criffel. Only under Furness Fells, or by Bolton Priory, it seems we can still write Ecclesiastical Sonnets, stanzas on the force of Prayer, Odes to Duty, and complimentary addresses to the Deity upon His endurance for adoration. Far otherwise, over yonder, by Spezzia Bay, and Ravenna Pineta, and in ravines of Hartz. There, the softest voices speak the wildest words; and Keats discourses of Endymion, Shelley of Demogorgon, Goethe of Lucifer, and Burger of the Resurrection of Death unto Death—while even Puritan Scotland and Episcopal Anglia produce for us only these three minstrels of doubtful tone, who show but small respect for the "unco guid," put but limited faith in gifted Gilfillan, and translate with unflinching frankness the Morgante Maggiore.[74]

55. Dismal the aspect of the spiritual world, or at least the sound of it, might well seem to the eyes and ears of Saints (such as we had) of the period—dismal in angels' eyes also assuredly! Yet is it possible that the dismalness in angelic sight may be otherwise quartered, as it were, from[Pg 227] the way of mortal heraldry; and that seen, and heard, of angels,—again I say—hesitatingly—is it possible that the goodness of the Unco Guid, and the gift of Gilfillan, and the word of Mr. Blattergowl, may severally not have been the goodness of God, the gift of God, nor the word of God: but that in the much blotted and broken efforts at goodness, and in the careless gift which they themselves despised,[75] and in the sweet ryme and murmur of their unpurposed words, the Spirit of the Lord had, indeed, wandering, as in chaos days on lightless waters, gone forth in the hearts and from the lips of those other three strange prophets, even though they ate forbidden bread by the altar of the poured-out ashes, and even though the wild beast of the desert found them, and slew.

This, at least, I know, that it had been well for England, though all her other prophets, of the Press, the Parliament, the Doctor's chair, and the Bishop's throne, had fallen silent; so only that she had been able to understand with her heart here and there the simplest line of these, her despised.

56. I take one at mere chance:

"Who thinks of self, when gazing on the sky?"[76]

Well, I don't know; Mr. Wordsworth certainly did, and observed, with truth, that its clouds took a sober coloring in consequence of his experiences. It is much if, indeed, this sadness be unselfish, and our eyes have kept loving watch o'er Man's Mortality. I have found it difficult to make anyone nowadays believe that such sobriety can be; and that Turner saw deeper crimson than others in the clouds of Goldau. But that any should yet think the clouds brightened by Man's Immortality instead of dulled by his[Pg 228] death,—and, gazing on the sky, look for the day when every eye must gaze also—for behold, He cometh with clouds—this it is no more possible for Christian England to apprehend, however exhorted by her gifted and guid.

57. "But Byron was not thinking of such things!"—He, the reprobate! how should such as he think of Christ?

Perhaps not wholly as you or I think of Him. Take, at chance, another line or two, to try:

"Carnage (so Wordsworth tells you) is God's daughter;[77]
If he speak truth, she is Christ's sister, and
Just now, behaved as in the Holy Land."

Blasphemy, cry you, good reader? Are you sure you understand it? The first line I gave you was easy Byron—almost shallow Byron—these are of the man in his depth, and you will not fathom them, like a tarn—nor in a hurry.

"Just now behaved as in the Holy Land." How did Carnage behave in the Holy Land then? You have all been greatly questioning, of late, whether the sun, which you find to be now going out, ever stood still. Did you in any lagging minute, on those scientific occasions, chance to reflect what he was bid stand still for? or if not—will you please look—and what also, going forth again as a strong man to run his course, he saw, rejoicing?

"Then Joshua passed from Makkedah unto Libnah—and fought against Libnah. And the Lord delivered it and the king thereof into the hand of Israel, and he smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein." And from Lachish to Eglon, and from Eglon to Kirjath-Arba, and Sarah's grave in the Amorites' land, "and Joshua smote all the country of the hills and of the south—and of the vale and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed—as the Lord God of Israel commanded."[Pg 229]

58. Thus, "it is written": though you perhaps do not so often hear these texts preached from, as certain others about taking away the sins of the world. I wonder how the world would like to part with them! hitherto it has always preferred parting first with its life—and God has taken it at its word. But Death is not His Begotten Son, for all that; nor is the death of the innocent in battle carnage His "instrument for working out a pure intent" as Mr. Wordsworth puts it; but Man's instrument for working out an impure one, as Byron would have you to know. Theology perhaps less orthodox, but certainly more reverent;—neither is the Woolwich Infant a Child of God; neither does the iron-clad "Thunderer" utter thunders of God—which facts if you had had the grace or sense to learn from Byron, instead of accusing him of blasphemy, it had been better at this day for you, and for many a savage soul also, by Euxine shore, and in Zulu and Afghan lands.

59. It was neither, however, for the theology, nor the use, of these lines that I quoted them; but to note this main point of Byron's own character. He was the first great Englishman who felt the cruelty of war, and, in its cruelty, the shame. Its guilt had been known to George Fox—its folly shown practically by Penn. But the compassion of the pious world had still for the most part been shown only in keeping its stock of Barabbases unhanged if possible: and, till Byron came, neither Kunersdorf, Eylau, nor Waterloo, had taught the pity and the pride of men that

"The drying up a single tear has more
Of honest fame than shedding seas of gore."[78]

Such pacific verse would not indeed have been acceptable to the Edinburgh volunteers on Portobello sands. But[Pg 230] Byron can write a battle song too, when it is his cue to fight. If you look at the introduction to the "Isles of Greece," namely the 85th and 86th stanzas of the 3rd canto of "Don Juan,"—you will find—what will you not find, if only you understand them! "He" in the first line, remember, means the typical modern poet.

"Thus usually, when he was asked to sing,
He gave the different nations something national.
'Twas all the same to him—'God save the King'
Or 'Ca ira' according to the fashion all;
His muse made increment of anything
From the high lyric down to the low rational:
If Pindar sang horse-races, what should hinder
Himself from being as pliable as Pindar?

In France, for instance, he would write a chanson;
In England a six-canto quarto tale;
In Spain, he'd make a ballad or romance on
The last war—much the same in Portugal;
In Germany, the Pegasus he'd prance on
Would be old Goethe's—(see what says de Staël)
In Italy, he'd ape the 'Trecentisti';
In Greece, he'd sing some sort of hymn like this t'ye."

60. Note first here, as we did in Scott, the concentrating and foretelling power. The "God Save the Queen" in England, fallen hollow now, as the "Ca ira" in France—not a man in France knowing where either France or "that" (whatever "that" may be) is going to; nor the Queen of England daring, for her life, to ask the tiniest Englishman to do a single thing he doesn't like;—nor any salvation, either of Queen or Realm, being any more possible to God, unless under the direction of the Royal Society: then, note the estimate of height and depth in poetry, swept in an instant, "high lyric to low rational." Pindar to Pope (knowing Pope's height, too, all the while, no man better); then, the poetic power of France—resumed in a word—Béranger; then the cut at Marmion, entirely deserved, as we shall see, yet kindly given, for everything he names in these[Pg 231] two stanzas is the best of its kind; then 'Romance in Spain on—the last war, (present war not being to Spanish poetical taste,) then, Goethe the real heart of all Germany, and last, the aping of the Trecentisti which has since consummated itself in Pre-Raphaelitism! that also being the best thing Italy has done through England, whether in Rossetti's "blessed damozels" or Burne Jones's "days of creation." Lastly comes the mock at himself—the modern English Greek—(followed up by the "degenerate into hands like mine" in the song itself); and then—to amazement, forth he thunders in his Achilles-voice. We have had one line of him in his clearness—five of him in his depth—sixteen of him in his play. Hear now but these, out of his whole heart:—

"What,—silent yet? and silent all?
Ah no, the voices of the dead
Sound like a distant torrent's fall,
And answer, 'Let one living head,
But one, arise—we come—we come:'
—'Tis but the living who are dumb."

Resurrection, this, you see like Bürger's; but not of death unto death.

61. "Sound like a distant torrent's fall." I said the whole heart of Byron was in this passage. First its compassion, then its indignation, and the third element, not yet examined, that love of the beauty of this world in which the three—unholy—children, of its Fiery Furnace were like to each other; but Byron the widest-hearted. Scott and Burns love Scotland more than Nature itself: for Burns the moon must rise over Cumnock Hills,—for Scott, the Rymer's glen divide the Eildons; but, for Byron, Loch-na-Gar with Ida, looks o'er Troy, and the soft murmurs of the Dee and the Bruar change into voices of the dead on distant Marathon.

Yet take the parallel from Scott, by a field of homelier rest:[Pg 232]

"And silence aids—though the steep hills
Send to the lake a thousand rills;
In summer tide, so soft they weep,
The sound but lulls the ear asleep;
Your horse's hoof-tread sounds too rude,
So stilly is the solitude.

Nought living meets the eye or ear,
But well I ween the dead are near;
For though, in feudal strife, a foe
Hath laid our Lady's Chapel low,
Yet still beneath the hallowed soil,
The peasant rests him from his toil,
And, dying, bids his bones be laid
Where erst his simple fathers prayed."

And last take the same note of sorrow—with Burns's finger on the fall of it:

"Mourn, ilka grove the cushat kens,
Ye hazly shaws and briery dens,
Ye burnies, wimplin' down your glens
Wi' toddlin' din,
Or foamin' strang wi' hasty stens
Frae lin to lin."

62. As you read, one after another, these fragments of chant by the great masters, does not a sense come upon you of some element in their passion, no less than in their sound, different, specifically, from that of "Parching summer hath no warrant"? Is it more profane, think you—or more tender—nay, perhaps, in the core of it, more true?

For instance, when we are told that

"Wharfe, as he moved along,
To matins joined a mournful voice,"

is this disposition of the river's mind to pensive psalmody quite logically accounted for by the previous statement, (itself by no means rythmically dulcet,) that

"The boy is in the arms of Wharfe,
And strangled by a merciless force"?
[Pg 233]

Or, when we are led into the improving reflection,

"How sweet were leisure, could it yield no more
Than 'mid this wave-washed churchyard to recline,
From pastoral graves extracting thoughts divine!"

—is the divinity of the extract assured to us by its being made at leisure, and in a reclining attitude—as compared with the meditations of otherwise active men, in an erect one? Or are we perchance, many of us, still erring somewhat in our notions alike of Divinity and Humanity,—poetical extraction, and moral position?

63. On the chance of its being so, might I ask hearing for just a few words more of the school of Belial?

Their occasion, it must be confessed, is a quite unjustifiable one. Some very wicked people—mutineers, in fact—have retired, misanthropically, into an unfrequented part of the country, and there find themselves safe indeed, but extremely thirsty. Whereupon Byron thus gives them to drink:

"A little stream came tumbling from the height
And straggling into ocean as it might.
Its bounding crystal frolicked in the ray
And gushed from cliff to crag with saltless spray,
Close on the wild wide ocean,—yet as pure
And fresh as Innocence; and more secure.
Its silver torrent glittered o'er the deep
As the shy chamois' eye o'erlooks the steep,
While, far below, the vast and sullen swell
Of ocean's Alpine azure rose and fell."[79]

Now, I beg, with such authority as an old workman may take concerning his trade, having also looked at a waterfall or two in my time, and not unfrequently at a wave, to assure the reader that here is entirely first-rate literary work. Though Lucifer himself had written it, the thing is itself good, and not only so, but unsurpassedly good, the closing[Pg 234] line being probably the best concerning the sea yet written by the race of the sea-kings.

64. But Lucifer himself could not have written it; neither any servant of Lucifer. I do not doubt but that most readers were surprised at my saying, in the close of my first paper, that Byron's "style" depended in any wise on his views respecting the Ten Commandments. That so all-important a thing as "style" should depend in the least upon so ridiculous a thing as moral sense: or that Allegra's father, watching her drive by in Count G.'s coach and six, had any remnant of so ridiculous a thing to guide,—or check,—his poetical passion, may alike seem more than questionable to the liberal and chaste philosophy of the existing British public. But, first of all, putting the question of who writes or speaks aside, do you, good reader, know good "style" when you get it? Can you say, of half a dozen given lines taken anywhere out of a novel, or poem, or play, That is good, essentially, in style, or bad, essentially? and can you say why such half-dozen lines are good, or bad?

65. I imagine that in most cases, the reply would be given with hesitation, yet if you will give me a little patience, and take some accurate pains, I can show you the main tests of style in the space of a couple of pages.

I take two examples of absolutely perfect, and in manner highest, i. e., kingly, and heroic, style: the first example in expression of anger, the second of love.


"We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us,
His present, and your pains, we thank you for.
When we have match'd our rackets to these balls,
We will in France, by God's grace, play a set
Shall strike his father's crown into the hazard."


"My gracious Silence, hail!
Would'st thou have laughed, had I come coffin'd home
That weep'st to see me triumph? Ah, my dear,
Such eyes the widows in Corioli wear
And mothers that lack sons."
[Pg 235]

66. Let us note, point by point, the conditions of greatness common to both these passages, so opposite in temper.

A. Absolute command over all passion, however intense; this the first-of-first conditions, (see the King's own sentence just before, "We are no tyrant, but a Christian King, Unto whose grace our passion is as subject As are our wretches fettered in our prisons"); and with this self-command, the supremely surveying grasp of every thought that is to be uttered, before its utterance; so that each may come in its exact place, time, and connection. The slightest hurry, the misplacing of a word, or the unnecessary accent on a syllable, would destroy the "style" in an instant.

B. Choice of the fewest and simplest words that can be found in the compass of the language, to express the thing meant: these few words being also arranged in the most straightforward and intelligible way; allowing inversion only when the subject can be made primary without obscurity: (thus, "his present, and your pains, we thank you for" is better than "we thank you for his present and your pains," because the Dauphin's gift is by courtesy put before the Ambassador's pains; but "when to these balls our rackets we have matched" would have spoiled the style in a moment, because—I was going to have said, ball and racket are of equal rank, and therefore only the natural order proper; but also here the natural order is the desired one, the English racket to have precedence of the French ball). In the fourth line the "in France" comes first, as announcing the most important resolution of action; the "by God's grace" next, as the only condition rendering resolution possible; the detail of issue follows with the strictest limit in the final word. The King does not say "danger," far less "dishonor," but "hazard" only; of that he is, humanly speaking, sure.

67. C. Perfectly emphatic and clear utterance of the chosen words; slowly in the degree of their importance, with omission however of every word not absolutely required; and natural use of the familiar contractions of final dis[Pg 236]syllable. Thus "play a set shall strike" is better than "play a set that shall strike," and "match'd" is kingly short—no necessity of meter could have excused "matched" instead. On the contrary, the three first words, "We are glad," would have been spoken by the king more slowly and fully than any other syllables in the whole passage, first pronouncing the kingly "we" at its proudest, and then the "are" as a continuous state, and then the "glad," as the exact contrary of what the ambassadors expected him to be.[80]

D. Absolute spontaneity in doing all this, easily and necessarily as the heart beats. The king cannot speak otherwise than he does—nor the hero. The words not merely come to them, but are compelled to them. Even lisping numbers "come," but mighty numbers are ordained, and inspired.

E. Melody in the words, changeable with their passion, fitted to it exactly, and the utmost of which the language is capable—the melody in prose being Eolian and variable—in verse, nobler by submitting itself to stricter law. I will enlarge upon this point presently.

F. Utmost spiritual contents in the words; so that each carries not only its instant meaning, but a cloudy companionship of higher or darker meaning according to the passion—nearly always indicated by metaphor: "play a set"—sometimes by abstraction—(thus in the second passage "silence" for silent one) sometimes by description instead of direct epithet ("coffined" for dead) but always indicative of there being more in the speaker's mind than he has said, or than he can say, full though his saying be. On the quantity of this attendant fullness depends the majesty of style; that is to say, virtually, on the quantity of contained thought in briefest words, such thought being primarily loving and[Pg 237] true: and this the sum of all—that nothing can be well said, but with truth, nor beautifully, but by love.

68. These are the essential conditions of noble speech in prose and verse alike, but the adoption of the form of verse, and especially rymed verse, means the addition to all these qualities of one more; of music, that is to say, not Eolian merely, but Apolline; a construction or architecture of words fitted and befitting, under external laws of time and harmony.

When Byron says "rhyme is of the rude,"[81] he means that Burns needs it,—while Henry the Fifth does not, nor Plato, nor Isaiah—yet in this need of it by the simple, it becomes all the more religious: and thus the loveliest pieces of Chris[Pg 238]tian language are all in ryme—the best of Dante, Chaucer, Douglas, Shakespeare, Spenser, and Sidney.

69. I am not now able to keep abreast with the tide of modern scholarship; (nor, to say the truth, do I make the effort, the first edge of its waves being mostly muddy, and apt to make a shallow sweep of the shore refuse:) so that I have no better book of reference by me than the confused essay on the antiquity of ryme at the end of Turner's "Anglo-Saxons." I cannot however conceive a more interesting piece of work, if not yet done, than the collection of sifted earliest fragments known of rymed song in European languages. Of Eastern I know nothing; but, this side Hellespont, the substance of the matter is all given in King Canute's impromptu

"Gaily" (or is it sweetly?—I forget which, and it's no matter)
"sang the monks of Ely,
As Knut the king came sailing by;"

much to be noted by any who make their religion lugubrious, and their Sunday the eclipse of the week. And observe further, that if Milton does not ryme, it is because his faculty of Song was concerning Loss, chiefly; and he has little more than faculty of Croak, concerning Gain; while Dante, though modern readers never go further with him than into the Pit, is stayed only by Casella in the ascent to the Rose of Heaven. So, Gibbon can write in his manner the Fall of Rome; but Virgil, in his manner, the rise of it; and finally Douglas, in his manner, bursts into such rymed passion of praise both of Rome and Virgil, as befits a Christian Bishop, and a good subject of the Holy See.

"Master of Masters—sweet source, and springing well,
Wide where over all rings thy heavenly bell;

Why should I then with dull forehead and vain,
With rude ingene, and barane, emptive brain,
With bad harsh speech, and lewit barbare tongue
[Pg 239]Presume to write, where thy sweet bell is rung,
Or counterfeit thy precious wordis dear?
Na, na—not so; but kneel when I them hear.
But farther more—and lower to descend
Forgive me, Virgil, if I thee offend
Pardon thy scolar, suffer him to ryme
Since thou wast but ane mortal man sometime."

"Before honor is humility." Does not clearer light come for you on that law after reading these nobly pious words? And note you whose humility? How is it that the sound of the bell comes so instinctively into his chiming verse? This gentle singer is the son of—Archibald Bell-the-Cat!

70. And now perhaps you can read with right sympathy the scene in "Marmion" between his father and King James.

"His hand the monarch sudden took—
'Now, by the Bruce's soul,
Angus, my hasty speech forgive,
For sure as doth his spirit live
As he said of the Douglas old
I well may say of you,—
That never king did subject hold,
In speech more free, in war more bold,
More tender and more true:'
And while the king his hand did strain
The old man's tears fell down like rain."

I believe the most infidel of scholastic readers can scarcely but perceive the relation between the sweetness, simplicity, and melody of expression in these passages, and the gentleness of the passions they express, while men who are not scholastic, and yet are true scholars, will recognize further in them that the simplicity of the educated is lovelier than the simplicity of the rude. Hear next a piece of Spenser's teaching how rudeness itself may become more beautiful even by its mistakes, if the mistakes are made lovingly.

"Ye shepherds' daughters that dwell on the green,
Hye you there apace;
Let none come there but that virgins been
[Pg 240]To adorn her grace:
And when you come, whereas she in place,
See that your rudeness do not you disgrace;
Bind your fillets fast,
And gird in your waste,
For more fineness, with a taudry lace.

Bring hither the pink and purple cullumbine
With gylliflowers;
Bring coronatiöns, and sops in wine,
Worn of paramours;
Strow me the ground with daffadowndillies
And cowslips, and kingcups, and loved lilies;
The pretty paunce
And the chevisaunce
Shall match with the fair flowre-delice."[82]

71. Two short pieces more only of master song, and we have enough to test all by.


"No more, no more, since thou art dead,
Shall we e'er bring coy brides to bed,
No more, at yearly festivals,
We cowslip balls
Or chains of columbines shall make,
For this or that occasion's sake.
No, no! our maiden pleasures be
Wrapt in thy winding-sheet with thee."[83]


"Death is now the phoenix nest,
And the turtle's loyal breast
To eternity doth rest.
Truth may seem, but cannot be;
Beauty brag, but 'tis not she:
Truth and beauty buried be."[84]

72. If now, with the echo of these perfect verses in your mind, you turn to Byron, and glance over, or recall to mem[Pg 241]ory, enough of him to give means of exact comparison, you will, or should, recognize these following kinds of mischief in him. First, if anyone offends him—as for instance Mr. Southey, or Lord Elgin—"his manners have not that repose that marks the caste," etc. This defect in his Lordship's style, being myself scrupulously and even painfully reserved in the use of vituperative language, I need not say how deeply I deplore.[85]

Secondly. In the best and most violet-bedded bits of his work there is yet, as compared with Elizabethan and earlier verse, a strange taint; an indefinable—evening flavor of Covent Garden, as it were;—not to say, escape of gas in the Strand. That is simply what it proclaims itself—London air. If he had lived all his life in Green-head Ghyll, things would of course have been different. But it was his fate to come to town—modern town—like Michael's son; and modern London (and Venice) are answerable for the state of their drains, not Byron.

Thirdly. His melancholy is without any relief whatsoever; his jest sadder than his earnest; while, in Elizabethan work, all lament is full of hope, and all pain of balsam.

Of this evil he has himself told you the cause in a single line prophetic of all things since and now. "Where he gazed, a gloom pervaded space."[86]

So that, for instance, while Mr. Wordsworth, on a visit to town, being an exemplary early riser, could walk, felicitous, on Westminster Bridge, remarking how the city now did like a garment wear the beauty of the morning; Byron,[Pg 242] rising somewhat later, contemplated only the garment which the beauty of the morning had by that time received for wear from the city: and again, while Mr. Wordsworth, in irrepressible religious rapture, calls God to witness that the houses seem asleep, Byron, lame demon as he was, flying smoke-drifted, unroofs the houses at a glance, and sees what the mighty cockney heart of them contains in the still lying of it, and will stir up to purpose in the waking business of it,

"The sordor of civilization, mixed
With all the passions which Man's fall hath fixed."[87]

73. Fourthly, with this steadiness of bitter melancholy, there is joined a sense of the material beauty, both of inanimate nature, the lower animals, and human beings, which in the iridescence, color-depth, and morbid (I use the word deliberately) mystery and softness of it,—with other qualities indescribable by any single words, and only to be analyzed by extreme care,—is found, to the full, only in five men that I know of in modern times; namely, Rousseau, Shelley, Byron, Turner, and myself,—differing totally and throughout the entire group of us, from the delight in clear-struck beauty of Angelico and the Trecentisti; and separated, much more singularly, from the cheerful joys of Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Scott, by its unaccountable affection for "Rokkes blak" and other forms of terror and power, such as those of the ice-oceans, which to Shakespeare were only Alpine rheum; and the Via Malas and Diabolic Bridges which Dante would have condemned none but lost souls to climb, or cross;—all this love of impending mountains, coiled thunder-clouds, and dangerous sea, being joined in us with a sulky, almost ferine, love of retreat in valleys of Charmettes, gulfs of Spezzia, ravines of Olympus, low lodgings in Chelsea, and close brushwood at Coniston.[Pg 243]

74. And, lastly, also in the whole group of us, glows volcanic instinct of Astræan justice returning not to, but up out of, the earth, which will not at all suffer us to rest any more in Pope's serene "whatever is, is right"; but holds, on the contrary, profound conviction that about ninety-nine hundredths of whatever at present is, is wrong: conviction making four of us, according to our several manners, leaders of revolution for the poor, and declarers of political doctrine monstrous to the ears of mercenary mankind; and driving the fifth, less sanguine, into mere painted-melody of lament over the fallacy of Hope and the implacableness of Fate.

In Byron the indignation, the sorrow, and the effort are joined to the death: and they are the parts of his nature (as of mine also in its feebler terms), which the selfishly comfortable public have, literally, no conception of whatever; and from which the piously sentimental public, offering up daily the pure oblation of divine tranquillity, shrink with anathema not unembittered by alarm.

75. Concerning which matters I hope to speak further and with more precise illustration in my next paper; but, seeing that this present one has been hitherto somewhat somber, and perhaps, to gentle readers, not a little discomposing, I will conclude it with a piece of light biographic study, necessary to my plan, and as conveniently admissible in this place as afterwards;—namely, the account of the manner in which Scott—whom we shall always find, as aforesaid, to be in salient and palpable elements of character, of the World, worldly, as Burns is of the Flesh, fleshly, and Byron of the Deuce, damnable,—spent his Sunday.

76. As usual, from Lockhart's farrago we cannot find out the first thing we want to know,—whether Scott worked after his week-day custom, on the Sunday morning. But, I gather, not; at all events his household and his cattle rested (L. iii. 108). I imagine he walked out into his woods, or read quietly in his study. Immediately after breakfast, whoever was in the house, "Ladies and gentlemen, I shall[Pg 244] read prayers at eleven, when I expect you all to attend" (vii. 306). Question of college and other externally unanimous prayer settled for us very briefly: "if you have no faith, have at least manners." He read the Church of England service, lessons and all, the latter, if interesting, eloquently (ibid.). After the service, one of Jeremy Taylor's sermons (vi. 188). After sermon, if the weather was fine, walk with his family, dogs included and guests, to cold picnic (iii. 109), followed by short extempore biblical novelettes; for he had his Bible, the Old Testament especially, by heart, it having been his mother's last gift to him (vi. 174). These lessons to his children in Bible history were always given, whether there was picnic or not. For the rest of the afternoon he took his pleasure in the woods with Tom Purdie, who also always appeared at his master's elbow on Sunday after dinner was over, and drank long life to the laird and his lady and all the good company, in a quaigh of whisky or a tumbler of wine, according to his fancy (vi. 195). Whatever might happen on the other evenings of the week, Scott always dined at home on Sunday; and with old friends: never, unless inevitably, receiving any person with whom he stood on ceremony (v. 335). He came into the room rubbing his hands like a boy arriving at home for the holidays, his Peppers and Mustards gamboling about him, "and even the stately Maida grinning and wagging his tail with sympathy." For the usquebaugh of the less honored week-days, at the Sunday board he circulated the champagne briskly during dinner, and considered a pint of claret each man's fair share afterwards (v. 339). In the evening, music being to the Scottish worldly mind indecorous, he read aloud some favorite author, for the amusement or edification of his little circle. Shakespeare it might be, or Dryden,—Johnson, or Joanna Baillie,—Crabbe, or Wordsworth. But in those days "Byron was pouring out his spirit fresh and full, and if a new piece from his hand had appeared, it was sure to be read by Scott the Sunday evening afterwards; and that with such delighted emphasis as[Pg 245] showed how completely the elder bard had kept up his enthusiasm for poetry at pitch of youth, and all his admiration of genius, free, pure, and unstained by the least drop of literary jealousy" (v. 341).

77. With such necessary and easily imaginable varieties as chanced in having Dandie Dinmont or Captain Brown for guests at Abbotsford, or Colonel Mannering, Counselor Pleydell, and Dr. Robertson in Castle Street, such was Scott's habitual Sabbath: a day, we perceive, of eating the fat, (dinner, presumably not cold, being a work of necessity and mercy—thou also, even thou, Saint Thomas of Turnbull, hast thine!) and drinking the sweet, abundant in the manner of Mr. Southey's cataract of Lodore,—"Here it comes, sparkling." A day bestrewn with coronatiöns and sops in wine; deep in libations to good hope and fond memory; a day of rest to beast, and mirth to man, (as also to sympathetic beasts that can be merry,) and concluding itself in an Orphic hour of delight, signifying peace on Tweedside, and goodwill to men, there or far away;—always excepting the French, and Boney.

"Yes, and see what it all came to in the end."

Not so, dark-virulent Minos-Mucklewrath; the end came of quite other things; of these, came such length of days and peace as Scott had in his Fatherland, and such immortality as he has in all lands.

78. Nathless, firm, though deeply courteous, rebuke, for his sometimes overmuch lightmindedness, was administered to him by the more grave and thoughtful Byron. For the Lord Abbot of Newstead knew his Bible by heart as well as Scott, though it had never been given him by his mother as her dearest possession. Knew it, and what was more, had thought of it, and sought in it what Scott had never cared to think, nor been fain to seek.

And loving Scott well, and always doing him every possible pleasure in the way he sees to be most agreeable to him—as, for instance, remembering with precision, and writing down the very next morning, every blessed word[Pg 246] that the Prince Regent had been pleased to say of him before courtly audience,—he yet conceived that such cheap ryming as his own "Bride of Abydos," for instance, which he had written from beginning to end in four days, or even the traveling reflections of Harold and Juan on men and women, were scarcely steady enough Sunday afternoon's reading for a patriarch-Merlin like Scott. So he dedicates to him a work of a truly religious tendency, on which for his own part he has done his best,—the drama of "Cain." Of which dedication the virtual significance to Sir Walter might be translated thus. Dearest and last of Border soothsayers, thou hast indeed told us of Black Dwarfs, and of White Maidens, also of Gray Friars, and Green Fairies; also of sacred hollies by the well, and haunted crooks in the glen. But of the bushes that the black dogs rend in the woods of Phlegethon; and of the crooks in the glen, and the bickerings of the burnie where ghosts meet the mightiest of us; and of the black misanthrope, who is by no means yet a dwarfed one, and concerning whom wiser creatures than Hobbie Elliot may tremblingly ask "Gude guide us, what's yon?" hast thou yet known, seeing that thou hast yet told, nothing.

Scott may perhaps have his answer. We shall in good time hear.[Pg 247]


[73] September, 1880.

[74] "It must be put by the original, stanza for stanza, and verse for verse; and you will see what was permitted in a Catholic country and a bigoted age to Churchmen, on the score of Religion—and so tell those buffoons who accuse me of attacking the Liturgy.

"I write in the greatest haste, it being the hour of the Corso, and I must go and buffoon with the rest. My daughter Allegra is just gone with the Countess G. in Count G.'s coach and six. Our old Cardinal is dead, and the new one not appointed yet—but the masquing goes on the same." (Letter to Murray, 355th in Moore, dated Ravenna, Feb. 7, 1820.) "A dreadfully moral place, for you must not look at anybody's wife, except your neighbor's."

[75] See quoted infra the mock, by Byron, of himself and all other modern poets, "Juan," canto iii. stanza 80, and compare canto xiv. stanza 8. In reference of future quotations the first numeral will stand always for canto; the second for stanza; the third, if necessary, for line.

[76] "Island," ii. 16, where see context.

[77] "Juan," viii. 5; but, by your Lordship's quotation, Wordsworth says "instrument,"—not "daughter." Your Lordship had better have said "Infant" and taken the Woolwich authorities to witness: only Infant would not have rymed.

[78] "Juan," viii. 3; compare 14, and 63, with all its lovely context 61-68: then 82, and afterwards slowly and with thorough attention, the Devil's speech, beginning, "Yes, Sir, you forget" in scene 2 of "The Deformed Transformed": then Sardanapalus's, act i. scene 2, beginning, "he is gone, and on his finger bears my signet," and finally the "Vision of Judgment," stanzas 3 to 5.

[79] "Island," iii. 3, and compare, of shore surf, the "slings its high flakes, shivered into sleet" of stanza 7.

[80] A modern editor—of whom I will not use the expressions which occur to me—finding the "we" a redundant syllable in the iambic line, prints, "we're." It is a little thing—but I do not recollect, in the forty years of my literary experience, any piece of editor's retouch quite so base. But I don't read the new editions much: that must be allowed for.

[81] "Island," ii. 5. I was going to say, "Look to the context," but am fain to give it here; for the stanza, learned by heart, ought to be our school-introduction to the literature of the world.

"Such was this ditty of Tradition's days,
Which to the dead a lingering fame conveys
In song, where fame as yet hath left no sign
Beyond the sound whose charm is half divine;
Which leaves no record to the skeptic eye,
But yields young history all to harmony;
A boy Achilles, with the centaur's lyre
In hand, to teach him to surpass his sire.
For one long-cherish'd ballad's simple stave,
Rung from the rock, or mingled with the wave,
Or from the bubbling streamlet's grassy side,
Or gathering mountain echoes as they glide,
Hath greater power o'er each true heart and ear,
Than all the columns Conquest's minions rear;
Invites, when hieroglyphics are a theme
For sages' labors or the student's dream;
Attracts, when History's volumes are a toil—
The first, the freshest bud of Feeling's soil,
Such was this rude rhyme—rhyme is of the rude,
But such inspired the Norseman's solitude,
Who came and conquer'd; such, wherever rise
Lands which no foes destroy or civilize,
Exist; and what can our accomplish'd art
Of verse do more than reach the awaken'd heart?"

[82] "Shepherd's Calendar." "Coronatiön," loyal-pastoral for Carnation; "sops in wine," jolly-pastoral for double pink; "paunce," thoughtless pastoral for pansy; "chevisaunce," I don't know (not in Gerarde); "flowre-delice"—pronounce dellice—half made up of "delicate" and "delicious."

[83] Herrick, "Dirge for Jephthah's Daughter."

[84] "Passionate Pilgrim."

[85] In this point compare the "Curse of Minerva" with the "Tears of the Muses."

[86] "He,"—Lucifer; ("Vision of Judgment," 24). It is precisely because Byron was not his servant, that he could see the gloom. To the Devil's true servants, their Master's presence brings both cheerfulness and prosperity; with a delightful sense of their own wisdom and virtue; and of the "progress" of things in general:—in smooth sea and fair weather,—and with no need either of helm touch, or oar toil: as when once one is well within the edge of Maelstrom.

[87] "Island," ii. 4; perfectly orthodox theology, you observe; no denial of the fall,—nor substitution of Bacterian birth for it. Nay, nearly Evangelical theology, in contempt for the human heart; but with deeper than Evangelical humility, acknowledging also what is sordid in its civilization.



79. I fear the editor of the Nineteenth Century will get little thanks from his readers for allowing so much space in closely successive numbers to my talk of old-fashioned men and things. I have nevertheless asked his indulgence, this time, for a note or two concerning yet older fashions, in order to bring into sharper clearness the leading outlines of literary fact, which I ventured only in my last paper to secure in silhouette, obscurely asserting itself against the limelight of recent moral creed, and fiction manufacture.

The Bishop of Manchester, on the occasion of the great Wordsworthian movement in that city for the enlargement, adornment, and sale of Thirlmere, observed, in his advocacy of these operations, that very few people, he supposed, had ever seen Tairlmere. His Lordship might have supposed, with greater felicity, that very few people had ever read Wordsworth. My own experience in that matter is that the amiable persons who call themselves "Wordsworthian" have read—usually a long time ago—"Lucy Gray," "The April Mornings," a picked sonnet or two, and the "Ode on the Intimations," which last they seem generally to be under the impression that nobody else has ever met with: and my further experience of these sentimental students is, that they are seldom inclined to put in practice a single syllable of the advice tendered them by their model poet.

Now, as I happen myself to have used Wordsworth as a daily text-book from youth to age, and have lived, moreover, in all essential points according to the tenor of his teaching, it was matter of some mortification to me, when, at Oxford,[Pg 248] I tried to get the memory of Mr. Wilkinson's spade honored by some practical spadework at Ferry Hincksey, to find that no other tutor in Oxford could see the slightest good or meaning in what I was about; and that although my friend Professor Rolleston occasionally sought the shades of our Rydalian laurels with expressions of admiration, his professorial manner of "from pastoral graves extracting thoughts divine" was to fill the Oxford Museum with the scabbed skulls of plague-struck cretins.

80. I therefore respectfully venture to intimate to my bucolic friends, that I know, more vitally by far than they, what is in Wordsworth, and what is not. Any man who chooses to live by his precepts will thankfully find in them a beauty and rightness, (exquisite rightness I called it, in "Sesame and Lilies,") which will preserve him alike from mean pleasure, vain hope, and guilty deed: so that he will neither mourn at the gate of the fields which with covetous spirit he sold, nor drink of the waters which with yet more covetous spirit he stole, nor devour the bread of the poor in secret, nor set on his guest-table the poor man's lamb:—in all these homely virtues and assured justices let him be Wordsworth's true disciple; and he will then be able with equanimity to hear it said, when there is need to say so, that his excellent master often wrote verses that were not musical, and sometimes expressed opinions that were not profound.

And the need to say so becomes imperative when the unfinished verse, and uncorrected fancy, are advanced by the affection of his disciples into places of authority where they give countenance to the popular national prejudices from the infection of which, in most cases, they themselves sprang.

81. Take, for example, the following three and a half lines of the 38th Ecclesiastical Sonnet:—

"Amazement strikes the crowd; while many turn
Their eyes away in sorrow, others burn
With scorn, invoking a vindictive ban
From outraged Nature."

The first quite evident character of these lines is that they[Pg 249] are extremely bad iambics,—as ill-constructed as they are unmelodious; the turning and burning being at the wrong ends of them, and the ends themselves put just when the sentence is in its middle.

But a graver fault of these three and a half lines is that the amazement, the turning, the burning, and the banning, are all alike fictitious; and foul-fictitious, calumniously conceived no less than falsely. Not one of the spectators of the scene referred to was in reality amazed—not one contemptuous, not one maledictory. It is only our gentle minstrel of the meres who sits in the seat of the scornful—only the hermit of Rydal Mount who invokes the malison of Nature.

What the scene verily was, and how witnessed, it will not take long to tell; nor will the tale be useless: but I must first refer the reader to a period preceding, by nearly a century, the great symbolic action under the porch of St. Mark's.

82. The Protestant ecclesiastic, and infidel historian, who delight to prop their pride, or edge their malice, in unveiling the corruption through which Christianity has passed, should study in every fragment of authentic record which the fury of their age has left, the lives of the three queens of the Priesthood, Theodora, Marozia, and Matilda, and the foundation of the merciless power of the Popes, by the monk Hildebrand. And if there be any of us who would satisfy with nobler food than the catastrophes of the stage, the awe at what is marvelous in human sorrow which makes sacred the fountain of tears in authentic tragedy, let them follow, pace by pace, and pang by pang, the humiliation of the fourth Henry at Canossa, and his death in the church he had built to the Virgin at Spire.

His antagonist, Hildebrand, died twenty years before him; captive to the Normans in Salerno, having seen the Rome in which he had proclaimed his princedom over all the earth, laid in her last ruin; and forever. Rome herself, since her desolation by Guiscard, has been only a grave and a wilderness[89][Pg 250]—what we call Rome, is a mere colony of the stranger in her "Field of Mars." This destruction of Rome by the Normans is accurately and utterly the end of her Capitoline and wolf-suckled power; and from that day her Leonine or Christian power takes its throne in the Leonine city, sanctified in tradition by its prayer of safety for the Saxon Borgo, in which the childhood of our own Alfred had been trained.

And from this date forward, (recollected broadly as 1090, the year of the birth of St. Bernard,) no longer oppressed by the remnants of Roman death,—Christian faith, chivalry, and art possess the world, and recreate it, through the space of four hundred years—the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries.

And, necessarily, in the first of these centuries comes the main debate between the powers of Monk and Knight which was reconciled in this scene under the porch of St. Mark's.

83. That debate was brought to its crisis and issue by the birth of the new third elemental force of the State—the Citizen. Sismondi's republican enthusiasm does not permit him to recognize the essential character of this power. He speaks always of the Republics and the liberties of Italy, as if a craftsman differed from a knight only in political privileges, and as if his special virtue consisted in rendering obedience to no master. But the strength of the great cities of Italy was no more republican than that of her monasteries, or fortresses. The Craftsman of Milan, Sailor of Pisa, and Merchant of Venice are all of them essentially different persons from the soldier and the anchorite:—but the city, under the banner of its caroccio, and the command of its podesta, was disciplined far more strictly than any wandering military squadron by its leader, or any lower order of monks under their abbot. In the founding of civic constitutions, the Lord of the city is usually its Bishop:—and it is curious to hear the republican historian—who, however in judgment blind, is never in heart uncandid, prepare to close his record of the ten years' war of Como with Milan, with this summary[Pg 251] of distress to the heroic mountaineers—that "they had lost their Bishop Guido, who was their soul."

84. I perceive for quite one of the most hopeless of the many difficulties which Modernism finds, and will find, insuperable either by steam or dynamite, that of either wedging or welding into its own cast-iron head, any conception of a king, monk, or townsman of the twelfth and two succeeding centuries. And yet no syllable of the utterance, no fragment of the arts of the middle ages, far less any motive of their deeds, can be read even in the letter—how much less judged in spirit—unless, first of all, we can somewhat imagine all these three Living souls.

First, a king who was the best knight in his kingdom, and on whose own swordstrokes hung the fate of Christendom. A king such as Henry the Fowler, the first and third Edwards of England, the Bruce of Scotland, and this Frederic the First of Germany.

Secondly, a monk who had been trained from youth in greater hardship than any soldier, and had learned at last to desire no other life than one of hardship;—a man believing in his own and his fellows' immortality, in the aiding powers of angels, and the eternal presence of God; versed in all the science, graceful in all the literature, cognizant of all the policy of his age; and fearless of any created thing, on the earth or under it.

And, lastly, a craftsman absolutely master of his craft, and taking such pride in the exercise of it as all healthy souls take in putting forth their personal powers: proud also of his city and his people; enriching, year by year, their streets with loftier buildings, their treasuries with rarer possession; and bequeathing his hereditary art to a line of successive masters, by whose tact of race, and honor of effort, the essential skills of metal-work in gold and steel, of pottery, glass-painting, woodwork, and weaving, were carried to a perfectness never to be surpassed; and of which our utmost modern hope is to produce a not instantly detected imitation.

These three kinds of persons, I repeat, we have to conceive[Pg 252] before we can understand any single event of the Middle Ages. For all that is enduring in them was done by men such as these. History, indeed, records twenty undoings for one deed, twenty desolations for one redemption; and thinks the fool and villain potent as the wise and true. But Nature and her laws recognize only the noble: generations of the cruel pass like the darkness of locust plagues; while one loving and brave heart establishes a nation.

85. I give the character of Barbarossa in the words of Sismondi, a man sparing in the praise of emperors:—

"The death of Frederic was mourned even by the cities which so long had been the objects of his hostility, and the victims of his vengeance. All the Lombards—even the Milanese—acknowledged his rare courage, his constancy in misfortune—his generosity in conquest.

"An intimate conviction of the justice of his cause had often rendered him cruel, even to ferocity, against those who still resisted; but after victory he took vengeance only on senseless walls; and irritated as he had been by the people of Milan, Crema, and Tortona, and whatever blood he had shed during battle, he never sullied his triumph by odious punishments. In spite of the treason which he on one occasion used against Alessandria, his promises were in general respected; and when, after the peace of Constance, the towns which had been most inveterately hostile to him received him within their walls, they had no need to guard against any attempt on his part to suppress the privileges he had once recognized."

My own estimate of Frederic's character would be scarcely so favorable; it is the only point of history on which I have doubted the authority even of my own master, Carlyle. But I am concerned here only with the actualities of his wars in Italy, with the people of her cities, and the head of her religion.

86. Frederic of Suabia, direct heir of the Ghibelline rights, while nearly related by blood to the Guelph houses of Bavaria and Saxony, was elected emperor almost in the exact[Pg 253] middle of the twelfth century (1152). He was called into Italy by the voices of Italians. The then Pope, Eugenius III., invoked his aid against the Roman people under Arnold of Brescia. The people of Lodi prayed his protection against the tyrannies of Milan.

Frederic entered the plain of Verona in 1154, by the valley of the Adige,—ravaged the territory of Milan,—pillaged and burned Tortona, Asti, and Chieri,—kept his Christmas at Novara; marched on Rome,—delivered up Arnold to the Pope[90] (who, instantly killing him, ended for that time Protestant reforms in Italy)—destroyed Spoleto; and returned by Verona, having scorched his path through Italy like a level thunderbolt along the ground.

Three years afterwards, Adrian died; and, chiefly, by the love and will of the Roman people, Roland of Siena was raised to the Papal throne, under the name of Alexander III. The conclave of cardinals chose another Pope, Victor III.; Frederic on his second invasion of Italy (1158) summoned both elected heads of the Church to receive judgment of their claims before him.

The Cardinals' Pope, Victor, obeyed. The people's Alexander, refused; answering that the successor of St. Peter submitted himself to the judgment neither of emperors nor councils.

The spirit of modern prelacy may perhaps have rendered it impossible for an English churchman to conceive this answer as other than that of insolence and hypocrisy. But a faithful Pope, and worthy of his throne, could answer no otherwise. Frederic of course at once confirmed the claims of his rival; the German bishops and Italian cardinals in council at Pavia joined their powers to the Emperor's and Alexander, driven from Rome, wandered—unsubdued in soul—from city to city, taking refuge at last in France.

87. Meantime, in 1159, Frederic took and destroyed Crema, having first bound its hostages to his machines of war. In 1161, Milan submitted to his mercy, and he decreed that[Pg 254] her name should perish. Only a few pillars of a Roman temple, and the church of St. Ambrose, remain to us of the ancient city. Warned by her destruction, Verona, Vicenza, Padua, Treviso, and Venice, joined in the vow—called of the Lombard League—to reduce the Emperor's power within its just limits. And, in 1164, Alexander, under the protection of Louis VII. of France and Henry II. of England, returned to Rome, and was received at Ostia by its senate, clergy, and people.

Three years afterwards, Frederic again swept down on the Campagna; attacked the Leonine city, where the basilica of the Vatican, changed into a fortress, and held by the Pope's guard, resisted his assault until, by the Emperor's order, fire was set to the Church of St. Mary of Pity.

The Leonine city was taken; the Pope retired to the Coliseum, whence, uttering once again his fixed defiance of the Emperor, but fearing treachery, he fled in disguise down the Tiber to the sea, and sought asylum at Benevento.

The German army encamped round Rome in August of 1166, with the sign before their eyes of the ruins of the church of Our Lady of Pity. The marsh-fever struck them—killed the Emperor's cousin, Frederic of Rothenburg, the Duke of Bavaria, the Archbishop of Cologne, the Bishops of Liége, Spire, Ratisbonne, and Verden, and two thousand knights; the common dead were uncounted. The Emperor gathered the wreck of his army together, retreated on Lombardy, quartered his soldiery at Pavia, and escaped in secret over the Mont Cenis with thirty knights.

88. No places of strength remained to him south of the Alps but Pavia and Montferrat; and to hold these in check, and command the plains of Piedmont, the Lombard League built the fortress city, which, from the Pope who had maintained through all adversity the authority of his throne and the cause of the Italian people, they named "Alessandria."

Against this bulwark the Emperor, still indomitable, dashed with his utmost regathered strength after eight years of pause, and in the temper in which men set their souls on a[Pg 255] single stake. All had been lost in his last war, except his honor—in this, he lost his honor also. Whatever may be the just estimate of the other elements of his character, he is unquestionably, among the knights of his time, notable in impiety. In the battle of Cassano, he broke through the Milanese vanguard to their caroccio, and struck down with his own hand its golden crucifix;—two years afterwards its cross and standard were bowed before him—and in vain.[91] He fearlessly claims for himself right of decision between contending popes, and camps against the rightful one on the ashes of the Church of the Virgin.

Foiled in his first assault on Alessandria, detained before it through the inundations of the winter, and threatened by the army of the League in the spring, he announced a truce to the besieged, that they might keep Good Friday. Then violating alike the day's sanctity and his own oath, he attacked the trusting city through a secretly completed mine. And, for a second time, the verdict of God went forth against him. Every man who had obtained entrance within the city was slain or cast from its ramparts;—the Alessandrines threw all their gates open—fell, with the broken fugitives, on the investing troops, scattered them in disorder, and burned their towers of attack. The Emperor gathered their remains into Pavia on Easter Sunday,—spared in his defeat by the army of the League.

89. And yet, once more, he brought his cause to combat-trial. Temporizing at Lodi with the Pope's legates, he assembled, under the Archbishops of Magdebourg and Cologne,[Pg 256] and the chief prelates and princes of Germany, a seventh army; brought it down to Como across the Splügen, put himself there at its head, and in the early spring of 1176, the fifteenth year since he had decreed the effacing of the name of Milan, was met at Legnano by the specter of Milan.

Risen from her grave, she led the Lombard League in this final battle. Three hundred of her nobles guarded her caroccio; nine hundred of her knights bound themselves—under the name of the Cohort of Death—to win for her, or to die.

The field of battle is in the midst of the plain, now covered with maize and mulberry trees, from which the traveler, entering Italy by the Lago Maggiore, sees first the unbroken snows of the Rosa behind him and the white pinnacles of Milan Cathedral in the south. The Emperor, as was his wont, himself led his charging chivalry. The Milanese knelt as it came;—prayed aloud to God, St. Peter, and St. Ambrose—then advanced round their caroccio on foot. The Emperor's charge broke through their ranks nearly up to their standard—then the Cohort of Death rode against him.

90. And all his battle changed before them into flight. For the first time in stricken field, the imperial standard fell, and was taken. The Milanese followed the broken host until their swords were weary; and the Emperor, struck fighting from his horse, was left, lost among the dead. The Empress, whose mercy to Milan he had forbidden, already wore mourning for him in Pavia, when her husband came, solitary and suppliant, to its gate.

The lesson at last sufficed; and Barbarossa sent his heretic bishops to ask forgiveness of the Pope, and peace from the Lombards.

Pardon and peace were granted—without conditions. "Cæsar's successor" had been the blight of Italy for a quarter of a century; he had ravaged her harvests, burnt her cities, decimated her children with famine, her young men with the sword; and, seven times over, in renewed invasion,[Pg 257] sought to establish dominion over her, from the Alps to the rock of Scylla.

She asked of him no restitution;—coveted no province—demanded no fortress, of his land. Neither coward nor robber, she disdained alike guard and gain upon her frontiers: she counted no compensation for her sorrow; and set no price upon the souls of her dead. She stood in the porch of her brightest temple—between the blue plains of her earth and sea, and, in the person of her spiritual father, gave her enemy pardon.

"Black demons hovering o'er his mitered head," think you, gentle sonneteer of the daffodil-marsh? And have Barbarossa's race been taught of better angels how to bear themselves to a conquered emperor,—or England, by braver and more generous impulses, how to protect his exiled son?

The fall of Venice, since that day, was measured by Byron in a single line:

"An Emperor tramples where an emperor knelt."

But what words shall measure the darker humiliation of the German pillaging his helpless enemy and England leaving her ally under the savage's spear?

91. With the clews now given, and an hour or two's additional reading of any standard historian he pleases, the reader may judge on secure grounds whether the truce of Venice and peace of Constance were of the Devil's making: whereof whatever he may ultimately feel or affirm, this at least he will please note for positive, that Mr. Wordsworth, having no shadow of doubt of the complete wisdom of every idea that comes into his own head, writes down in dogmatic sonnet his first impression of black instrumentality in the business; so that his innocent readers, taking him for their sole master, far from caring to inquire into the thing more deeply, may remain even unconscious that it is disputable, and forever incapable of conceiving either a Catholic's feeling, or a careful historian's hesitation, touching the centrally momentous crisis of power in all the Middle Ages![Pg 258] Whereas Byron, knowing the history thoroughly, and judging of Catholicism with an honest and open heart, ventures to assert nothing that admits of debate, either concerning human motives or angelic presences; but binds into one line of massive melody the unerringly counted sum of Venetian majesty and shame.

92. In a future paper, I propose examining his method of dealing with the debate, itself on a higher issue: and will therefore close the present one by trampling a few of the briers and thorns of popular offense out of our way.

The common counts against Byron are in the main, three.

I. That he confessed—in some sort, even proclaimed defiantly (which is a proud man's natural manner of confession)[92]—the naughtiness of his life.

The hypocrisy[93] even of Pall Mall and Petit Trianon does not, I assume, and dares not, go so far as to condemn the naughtiness itself? And that he did confess it, is precisely the reason for reading him by his own motto "Trust Byron." You always may; and the common smooth-countenanced man of the world is guiltier in the precise measure of your higher esteem for him.[Pg 259]

II. That he wrote about pretty things which ought never to be heard of.

In the presence of the exact proprieties of modern Fiction, Art, and Drama, I am shy of touching on the question of what should be mentioned, and seen—and should not. All that I care to say, here, is that Byron tells you of realities, and that their being pretty ones is, to my mind,—at the first (literally) blush, of the matter, rather in his favor. If however you have imagined that he means you to think Dudu as pretty as Myrrha,[94] or even Haidee, whether in full dress or none, as pretty as Marina, it is your fault, not his.

93. III. That he blasphemed God and the King.

Before replying to this count, I must ask the reader's patience in a piece of very serious work, the ascertainment of the real and full meaning of the word Blasphemy. It signifies simply "Harmful speaking"—Male-diction—or shortly "Blame"; and may be committed as much against a child or a dog, if you desire to hurt them, as against the Deity. And it is, in its original use, accurately opposed to another Greek word, "Euphemy," which means a reverent and loving manner of benediction—fallen entirely into disuse in modern sentiment and language.

Now the compass and character of essential Male-diction, so-called in Latin, or Blasphemy, so-called in Greek, may, I think, be best explained to the general reader by an instance in a very little thing, first translating the short pieces of Plato which best show the meaning of the word in codes of Greek morality.

"These are the things then" (the true order of the Sun, Moon, and Planets), "oh my friends, of which I desire that all our citizens and youths should learn at least so much concerning the Gods of Heaven, as not to blaspheme con[Pg 260]cerning them, but to eupheme reverently, both in sacrificing, and in every prayer they pray."—Laws, VII. Steph. 821.

"And through the whole of life, beyond all other need for it, there is need of Euphemy from a man to his parents, for there is no heavier punishment than that of light and winged words," (to them)? "for Nemesis, the angel of Divine Recompense, has been throned Bishop over all men who sin in such manner."—IV. Steph. 717.

The word which I have translated "recompense" is more strictly that "heavenly Justice"—the proper Light of the World, from which nothing can be hidden, and by which all who will may walk securely; whence the mystic answer of Ulysses to his son, as Athena, herself invisible, walks with them, filling the chamber of the house with light, "This is the justice of the Gods who possess Olympus." See the context in reference to which Plato quotes the line.—Laws, X. Steph. 904. The little story that I have to tell is significant chiefly in connection with the second passage of Plato above quoted.

94. I have elsewhere mentioned that I was a homebred boy, and that as my mother diligently and scrupulously taught me my Bible and Latin Grammar, so my father fondly and devotedly taught me my Scott, my Pope, and my Byron.[95] The Latin grammar out of which my mother taught me was the 11th edition of Alexander Adam's—(Edinb.: Bell and Bradfute, 1823)—namely, that Alexander Adam, Rector of Edinburgh High School, into whose upper class Scott passed in October 1782, and who—previous masters having found nothing noticeable in the heavy-looking lad—did find sterling qualities in him, and "would constantly refer to him for dates, and particulars of battles,[Pg 261] and other remarkable events alluded to in Horace, or whatever other authors the boys were reading; and called him the historian of his class" (L. i. 126). That Alex. Adam, also, who, himself a loving historian, remembered the fate of every boy at his school during the fifty years he had headed it, and whose last words—"It grows dark, the boys may dismiss," gave to Scott's heart the vision and the audit of the death of Elspeth of the Craigburn-foot.

Strangely, in opening the old volume at this moment (I would not give it for an illuminated missal) I find, in its article on Prosody, some things extremely useful to me, which I have been hunting for in vain through Zumpt and Matthiæ. In all rational respects I believe it to be the best Latin Grammar that has yet been written.

When my mother had carried me through it as far as the syntax, it was thought desirable that I should be put under a master: and the master chosen was a deeply and deservedly honored clergyman, the Rev. Thomas Dale, mentioned in Mr. Holbeach's article, "The New Fiction," (Contemporary Review for February of this year), together with Mr. Melville, who was our pastor after Mr. Dale went to St. Pancras.

95. On the first day when I went to take my seat in Mr. Dale's schoolroom, I carried my old grammar to him, in a modest pride, expecting some encouragement and honor for the accuracy with which I could repeat, on demand, some hundred and sixty close-printed pages of it.

But Mr. Dale threw it back to me with a fierce bang upon his desk, saying (with accent and look of seven-times-heated scorn), "That's a Scotch thing."

Now, my father being Scotch, and an Edinburgh High School boy, and my mother having labored in that book with me since I could read, and all my happiest holiday time having been spent on the North Inch of Perth, these four words, with the action accompanying them, contained as much insult, pain, and loosening of my respect for my parents, love of my father's country, and honor for its worthies, as it was possible to compress into four syllables[Pg 262] and an ill-mannered gesture. Which were therefore pure, double-edged and point-envenomed blasphemy. For to make a boy despise his mother's care, is the straightest way to make him also despise his Redeemer's voice; and to make him scorn his father and his father's house, the straightest way to make him deny his God, and his God's Heaven.

96. I speak, observe, in this instance, only of the actual words and their effect; not of the feeling in the speaker's mind, which was almost playful, though his words, tainted with extremity of pride, were such light ones as men shall give account of at the Day of Judgment. The real sin of blasphemy is not in the saying, nor even in the thinking; but in the wishing which is father to thought and word: and the nature of it is simply in wishing evil to anything; for as the quality of Mercy is not strained, so neither that of Blasphemy, the one distilling from the clouds of Heaven, the other from the steam of the Pit. He that is unjust in little is unjust in much, he that is malignant to the least is to the greatest, he who hates the earth which is God's footstool, hates yet more Heaven which is God's throne, and Him that sitteth thereon. Finally, therefore, blasphemy is wishing ill to any thing; and its outcome is in Vanni Fucci's extreme "ill manners"—wishing ill to God.

On the contrary, Euphemy is wishing well to everything, and its outcome is in Burns' extreme "good manners," wishing well to—

"Ah! wad ye tak a thought, and men'!"

That is the supreme of Euphemy.

97. Fix then, first in your minds, that the sin of malediction, whether Shimei's individual, or John Bull's national, is in the vulgar malignity, not in the vulgar diction, and then note further that the "phemy" or "fame" of the two words, blasphemy and euphemy, signifies broadly the bearing of false witness against one's neighbor in the one case, and of true witness for him in the other: so that while the peculiar province of the blasphemer is to throw firelight[Pg 263] on the evil in good persons, the province of the euphuist (I must use the word inaccurately for want of a better) is to throw sunlight on the good in bad ones; such, for instance, as Bertram, Meg Merrilies, Rob Roy, Robin Hood, and the general run of Corsairs, Giaours, Turks, Jews, Infidels, and Heretics; nay, even sisters of Rahab, and daughters of Moab and Ammon; and at last the whole spiritual race of him to whom it was said, "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?"

98. And being thus brought back to our actual subject, I purpose, after a few more summary notes on the luster of the electrotype language of modern passion, to examine what facts or probabilities lie at the root both of Goethe's and Byron's imagination of that contest between the powers of Good and Evil, of which the Scriptural account appears to Mr. Huxley so inconsistent with the recognized laws of political economy; and has been, by the cowardice of our old translators, so maimed of its vitality, that the frank Greek assertion of St. Michael's not daring to blaspheme the devil,[96] is tenfold more mischievously deadened and caricatured by their periphrasis of "durst not bring against him a railing accusation," than by Byron's apparently—and only apparently—less reverent description of the manner of angelic encounter for an inferior ruler of the people.

"Between His Darkness and His Brightness
There passed a mutual glance of great politeness."

Paris, September 20, 1880. [Pg 264]


99. I am myself extremely grateful, nor doubt a like feeling in most of my readers, both for the information contained in the first of the two following letters; and the correction of references in the second, of which, however, I have omitted some closing sentences which the writer will, I think, see to have been unnecessary.[97]

North Street, Wirksworth:
August 2, 1880.

Dear Sir,—When reading your interesting article in the June number of the Nineteenth Century, and your quotation from Walter Scott, I was struck with the great similarity between some of the Scotch words and my native tongue (Norwegian). Whigmaleerie, as to the derivation of which you seem to be in some perplexity, is in Norwegian Vægmaleri. Væg, pronounced "Vegg," signifying wall, and Maleri "picture," pronounced almost the same as in Scotch, and derived from at male, to paint. Siccan is in Danish sikken, used more about something comical than great, and scarcely belonging to the written language, in which slig, such, and slig en, such a one, would be the equivalent. I need not remark that as to the written language Danish and Norwegian is the same, only the dialects differ.

Having been told by some English friends that this explanation would perhaps not be without interest to yourself, I take the liberty of writing this letter. I remain yours respectfully,

Thea Berg.

Inner Temple: September 9, 1880.

Sir,—In your last article on Fiction, Foul and Fair (Nineteenth Century, September 1880) you have the following note:[Pg 265]

"Juan viii. 5" (it ought to be 9) "but by your Lordship's quotation, Wordsworth says 'instrument' not 'daughter.'"

Now in Murray's edition of Byron, 1837, octavo, his Lordship's quotation is as follows:—

"But thy most dreaded instrument
In working out a pure intent
Is man arranged for mutual slaughter;
Yea, Carnage is thy daughter."

And his Lordship refers you to "Wordsworth's Thanksgiving Ode."

I have no early edition of Wordsworth. In Moxon's, 1844, no such lines appear in the Thanksgiving Ode, but in the ode dated 1815, and printed immediately before it, the following lines occur.

"But man is thy most awful instrument
In working out a pure intent."

It is hardly possible to avoid the conclusion that Wordsworth altered the lines after "Don Juan" was written. I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

Ralph Thicknesse.

John Ruskin, Esq. [Pg 266]


[88] November, 1880.—Ed.

[89] "Childe Harold," iv. 79; compare "Adonais," and Sismondi, vol. i. p. 148.

[90] Adrian the Fourth. Eugenius died in the previous year.

[91] "All the multitudes threw themselves on their knees, praying mercy in the name of the crosses they bore: the Count of Blandrata took a cross from the enemies with whom he had served, and fell at the foot of the throne, praying for mercy to them. All the court and the witnessing army were in tears—the Emperor alone showed no sign of emotion. Distrusting his wife's sensibility, he had forbidden her presence at the ceremony; the Milanese, unable to approach her, threw towards her windows the crosses they carried, to plead for them."—Sismondi (French edition), vol. i. p. 378.

[92] The most noble and tender confession is in Allegra's epitaph, "I shall go to her, but she shall not return to me."

[93] Hypocrisy is too good a word for either Pall Mall or Trianon, being justly applied (as always in the New Testament), only to men whose false religion has become earnest, and a part of their being: so that they compass heaven and earth to make a proselyte. There is no relation between minds of this order and those of common rogues. Neither Tartuffe nor Joseph Surface are hypocrites—they are simply impostors: but many of the most earnest preachers in all existing churches are hypocrites in the highest; and the Tartuffe-Squiredom and Joseph Surface-Masterhood of our virtuous England which build churches and pay priests to keep their peasants and hands peaceable, so that rents and per cents may be spent, unnoticed, in the debaucheries of the metropolis, are darker forms of imposture than either heaven or earth have yet been compassed by; and what they are to end in, heaven and earth only know. Compare again, "Island," ii. 4, "the prayers of Abel linked to deeds of Cain," and "Juan," viii. 25, 26.

[94] Perhaps some even of the attentive readers of Byron may not have observed the choice of the three names—Myrrha (bitter incense), Marina (sea lady), Angiolina (little angel)—in relation to the plots of the three plays.

[95] I shall have lost my wits very finally when I forget the first time that I pleased my father with a couplet of English verse (after many a year of trials); and the radiant joy on his face as he declared, reading it aloud to my mother with emphasis half choked by tears,—that "it was as fine as anything that Pope or Byron ever wrote!"

[96] Of our tingle-tangle-titmouse disputes in Parliament like Robins in a bush, but not a Robin in all the house knowing his great A, hear again Plato: "But they, for ever so little a quarrel, uttering much voice, blaspheming, speak evil one of another,—and it is not becoming that in a city of well-ordered persons, such things should be—no; nothing of them nohow nowhere,—and let this be the one law for all—let nobody speak mischief of anybody (Μηδἑνα κακηγορεἱτο μηδεις)."—Laws, book ii. s. 935; and compare Book iv. 117.

[97] A paragraph beginning "I find press corrections always irksome work, and in my last paper trust the reader's kindness to make some corrections in the preceding paper," is here omitted, and the corrections made.—Ed.




100. I have assumed throughout these papers, that everybody knew what Fiction meant; as Mr. Mill assumed in his Political Economy, that everybody knew what wealth meant. The assumption was convenient to Mr. Mill, and persisted in: but, for my own part, I am not in the habit of talking, even so long as I have done in this instance, without making sure that the reader knows what I am talking about; and it is high time that we should be agreed upon the primary notion of what Fiction is.

A feigned, fictitious, artificial, supernatural, put-together-out-of-one's-head, thing. All this it must be, to begin with. The best type of it being the most practically fictile—a Greek vase. A thing which has two sides to be seen, two handles to be carried by, and a bottom to stand on, and a top to be poured out of, this, every right fiction is, whatever else it may be. Planned rigorously, rounded smoothly, balanced symmetrically, handled handily, lipped softly for pouring out oil and wine. Painted daintily at last with images of eternal things—

Forever shalt thou love, and she be fair.

101. Quite a different thing from a "cast,"—this work of clay in the hands of the potter, as it seemed good to the potter to make it. Very interesting, a cast from life may perhaps be; more interesting, to some people perhaps, a cast[Pg 267] from death;—most modern novels are like specimens from Lyme Regis, impressions of skeletons in mud.

"Planned rigorously"—I press the conditions again one by one—it must be, as ever Memphian labyrinth or Norman fortress. Intricacy full of delicate surprise; covered way in secrecy of accurate purposes, not a stone useless, nor a word nor an incident thrown away.

"Rounded smoothly"—the wheel of Fortune revolving with it in unfelt swiftness; like the world, its story rising like the dawn, closing like the sunset, with its own sweet light for every hour.

"Balanced symmetrically"—having its two sides clearly separate, its war of good and evil rightly divided. Its figures moving in majestic law of light and shade.

"Handled handily"—so that, being careful and gentle, you can take easy grasp of it and all that it contains; a thing given into your hand henceforth to have and to hold. Comprehensible, not a mass that both your arms cannot get round; tenable, not a confused pebble heap of which you can only lift one pebble at a time.

"Lipped softly"—full of kindness and comfort: the Keats line indeed the perpetual message of it—"For ever shalt thou love, and she be fair." All beautiful fiction is of the Madonna, whether the Virgin of Athens or of Judah—Pan-Athenaic always.

And all foul fiction is leze majesté to the Madonna and to womanhood. For indeed the great fiction of every human life is the shaping of its Love, with due prudence, due imagination, due persistence and perfection from the beginning of its story to the end; for every human soul, its Palladium. And it follows that all right imaginative work is beautiful, which is a practical and brief law concerning it. All frightful things are either foolish, or sick, visits of frenzy, or pollutions of plague.

102. Taking thus the Greek vase at its best time, for the symbol of fair fiction: of foul, you may find in the great entrance-room of the Louvre, filled with the luxurious orfè[Pg 268]vrerie of the sixteenth century, types perfect and innumerable: Satyrs carved in serpentine, Gorgons platted in gold, Furies with eyes of ruby, Scyllas with scales of pearl; infinitely worthless toil, infinitely witless wickedness; pleasure satiated into idiocy, passion provoked into madness, no object of thought, or sight, or fancy, but horror, mutilation, distortion, corruption, agony of war, insolence of disgrace, and misery of Death.

It is true that the ease with which a serpent, or something that will be understood for one, can be chased or wrought in metal, and the small workmanly skill required to image a satyr's hoof and horns, as compared to that needed for a human foot or forehead, have greatly influenced the choice of subject by incompetent smiths; and in like manner, the prevalence of such vicious or ugly story in the mass of modern literature is not so much a sign of the lasciviousness of the age, as of its stupidity, though each react on the other, and the vapor of the sulphurous pool becomes at last so diffused in the atmosphere of our cities, that whom it cannot corrupt, it will at least stultify.

103. Yesterday, the last of August, came to me from the Fine Art Society, a series of twenty black and white scrabbles[99] of which I am informed in an eloquent preface that the author was a Michael Angelo of the glebe, and that his shepherds and his herdswomen are akin in dignity and grandeur to the prophets and Sibyls of the Sistine.

Glancing through the series of these stupendous productions, I find one peculiarly characteristic and expressive of modern picture-making and novel-writing,—called "Hauling" or more definitely "Paysan rentrant du Fumier," which represents a man's back, or at least the back of his waistcoat and trousers, and hat, in full light, and a small blot where his face should be, with a small scratch where[Pg 269] its nose should be, elongated into one representing a chink of timber in the background.

Examining the volume farther, in the hope of discovering some trace of reasonable motive for the publication of these works by the Society, I perceive that this Michael Angelo of the glebe had indeed natural faculty of no mean order in him, and that the woeful history of his life contains very curious lessons respecting the modern conditions of Imagination and Art.

104. I find in the first place, that he was a Breton peasant; his grandmother's godson, baptized in good hope, and christened Jean, after his father, and François after the Saint of Assisi, his godmother's patron. It was under her care and guidance and those of his uncle, the Abbé Charles, that he was reared; and the dignified and laborious earnestness of these governors of his was a chief influence in his life, and a distinguishing feature in his character. The Millet family led an existence almost patriarchal in its unalterable simplicity and diligence; and the boy grew up in an environment of toil, sincerity and devoutness. He was fostered upon the Bible, and the great book of nature.... When he woke, it was to the lowing of cattle and the song of birds; he was at play all day, among "the sights and sounds of the open landscape; and he slept with the murmur of the spinning-wheel in his ears, and the memory of the evening prayer in his heart.... He learned Latin from the parish priest, and from his uncle Charles; and he soon came to be a student of Virgil, and while yet young in his teens began to follow his father out into the fields, and thenceforward, as became the eldest boy in a large family, worked hard at grafting and plowing, sowing and reaping, scything and shearing and planting, and all the many duties of husbandmen. Meanwhile, he had taken to drawing ... copied everything he saw, and produced not only studies but compositions also; until at last his father was moved to take him away from farming, and have him taught painting."[Pg 270]

105. Now all this is related concerning the lad's early life by the prefatory and commenting author, as if expecting the general reader to admit that there had been some advantage for him in this manner of education:—that simplicity and devoutness are wholesome states of mind; that parish curés and uncle Abbés are not betrayers or devourers of youthful innocence—that there is profitable reading in the Bible, and something agreeably soothing—if not otherwise useful—in the sound of evening prayer. I may observe also in passing, that his education, thus far, is precisely what, for the last ten years, I have been describing as the most desirable for all persons intending to lead an honest and Christian life: (my recommendation that peasants should learn Latin having been, some four or five years ago, the subject of much merriment in the pages of Judy and other such nurses of divine wisdom in the public mind.) It however having been determined by the boy's father that he should be a painter, and that art being unknown to the Abbé Charles and the village Curé (in which manner of ignorance, if the infallible Pope did but know it, he and his now artless shepherds stand at a fatal disadvantage in the world as compared with monks who could illuminate with color as well as word)—the simple young soul is sent for the exalting and finishing of its artistic faculties to Paris.

106. "Wherein," observers my prefatory author, "the romantic movement was in the full tide of prosperity."

Hugo had written "Notre Dame," and Musset had published "Rolla" and the "Nuits"; Balzac the "Lys dans la Vallée"; Gautier the "Comédie de la Mort"; Georges Sand "Léone Léonie"; and a score of wild and eloquent novels more; and under the instruction of these romantic authors, his landlady, to whom he had intrusted the few francs he possessed, to dole out to him as he needed, fell in love with him, and finding he could not, or would not, respond to her advances, confiscated the whole deposit, and left him penniless. The preface goes on to tell us how, not feeling himself in harmony with these forms of Romanticism, he takes[Pg 271] to the study of the Infinite, and Michael Angelo; how he learned to paint the Heroic Nude; how he mixed up for imitation the manners of Rubens, Ribera, Mantegna, and Correggio; how he struggled all his life with neglect, and endured with his family every agony of poverty; owed his butcher and his grocer, was exposed to endless worry and annoyance from writs and executions; and when first his grandmother died, and then his mother, neither death-bed was able to raise the money that would have carried him from Barbizon to Gruchy.

The work now laid before the public by the Fine Art Society is to be considered, therefore—whatever its merits or defects may be—as an expression of the influence of the Infinite and Michael Angelo on a mind innocently prepared for their reception. And in another place I may take occasion to point out the peculiar adaptability of modern etching to the expression of the Infinite, by the multitude of scratches it can put on a surface without representing anything in particular; and to illustration of the majesty of Michael Angelo by preference of the backs and legs of people to their faces.

107. But I refer to the book in this paper, partly indeed because my mind is full of its sorrow, and I may not be able to find another opportunity of saying so; but chiefly, because the author of the preface has summed the principal authors of depraved Fiction in a single sentence; and I want the reader to ask himself why, among all the forms of the picturesque which were suggested by this body of literary leaders, none were acceptable by, none helpful to, the mind of a youth trained in purity and faith.

He will find, if he reflect, that it is not in romantic, or any other healthy aim, that the school detaches itself from those called sometimes by recent writers "classical"; but first by Infidelity, and an absence of the religious element so total that at last it passes into the hatred of priesthood which has become characteristic of Republicanism; and secondly, by the taint and leprosy of animal passion idealized[Pg 272] as a governing power of humanity, or at least used as the chief element of interest in the conduct of its histories. It is with the Sin of Master Anthony that Georges Sand (who is the best of them) overshadows the entire course of a novel meant to recommend simplicity of life—and by the weakness of Consuelo that the same authoress thinks it natural to set off the splendor of the most exalted musical genius.

I am not able to judge of the degree of moral purpose, or conviction, with which any of the novelists wrote. But I am able to say with certainty that, whatever their purpose, their method is mistaken, and that no good is ever done to society by the pictorial representation of its diseases.

108. All healthy and helpful literature sets simple bars between right and wrong; assumes the possibility, in men and women, of having healthy minds in healthy bodies, and loses no time in the diagnosis of fever or dyspepsia in either; least of all in the particular kind of fever which signifies the ungoverned excess of any appetite or passion. The "dullness" which many modern readers inevitably feel, and some modern blockheads think it creditable to allege, in Scott, consists not a little in his absolute purity from every loathsome element or excitement of the lower passions; so that people who live habitually in Satyric or hircine conditions of thought find him as insipid as they would a picture of Angelico's. The accurate and trenchant separation between him and the common railroad-station novelist is that, in his total method of conception, only lofty character is worth describing at all; and it becomes interesting, not by its faults, but by the difficulties and accidents of the fortune through which it passes, while, in the railway novel, interest is obtained with the vulgar reader for the vilest character, because the author describes carefully to his recognition the blotches, burrs and pimples in which the paltry nature resembles his own. The "Mill on the Floss" is perhaps the most striking instance extant of this study of cutaneous disease. There is not a single person in the book of the smallest importance to anybody in the world[Pg 273] but themselves, or whose qualities deserved so much as a line of printer's type in their description. There is no girl alive, fairly clever, half educated, and unluckily related, whose life has not at least as much in it as Maggie's, to be described and to be pitied. Tom is a clumsy and cruel lout, with the making of better things in him (and the same may be said of nearly every Englishman at present smoking and elbowing his way through the ugly world his blunders have contributed to the making of); while the rest of the characters are simply the sweepings out of a Pentonville omnibus.[100]

109. And it is very necessary that we should distinguish this essentially Cockney literature, developed only in the London suburbs, and feeding the demand of the rows of similar brick houses, which branch in devouring cancer round every manufacturing town,—from the really romantic literature of France. Georges Sand is often immoral; but she is always beautiful, and in the characteristic novel I have named, "Le Péché de Mons. Antoine," the five principal characters, the old Cavalier Marquis,—the Carpenter,—M. de Chateaubrun,—Gilberte,—and the really passionate and generous lover, are all as heroic and radiantly ideal as Scott's Colonel Mannering, Catherine Seyton, and Roland Graeme; while the landscape is rich and true with the emotion of years of life passed in glens of Norman granite and beside bays of Italian sea. But in the English Cockney school, which consummates itself in George Eliot, the personages are picked up from behind the counter and out of the gutter; and the landscape, by excursion train to Gravesend, with return ticket for the City-road.

110. But the second reason for the dullness of Scott to the uneducated or miseducated reader lies far deeper; and its analysis is related to the most subtle questions in the Arts of Design.[Pg 274]

The mixed gayety and gloom in the plan of any modern novel fairly clever in the make of it, may be likened, almost with precision, to the patchwork of a Harlequin's dress, well spangled; a pretty thing enough, if the human form beneath it be graceful and active. Few personages on the stage are more delightful to me than a good Harlequin; also, if I chance to have nothing better to do, I can still read my Georges Sand or Alfred de Musset with much contentment, if only the story end well.

But we must not dress Cordelia or Rosalind in robes of triangular patches, covered with spangles, by way of making the coup d'œil of them less dull; and so the story-telling of Scott is like the robe of the Sistine Zipporah—embroidered only on the edges with gold and blue, and the embroidery involving a legend written in mystic letters.

And the interest and joy which he intends his reader to find in his tale, are in taking up the golden thread here and there in its intended recurrence—and following, as it rises again and again, his melody through the disciplined and unaccented march of the fugue.

111. Thus the entire charm and meaning of the story of the Monastery depend on the degree of sympathy with which we compare the first and last incidents of the appearance of a character, whom perhaps not one in twenty readers would remember as belonging to the dramatis personæ—Stawarth Bolton.

Childless, he assures safety in the first scene of the opening tale to the widow of Glendinning and her two children—the elder boy challenging him at the moment, "I will war on thee to the death, when I can draw my father's sword." In virtually the last scene, the grown youth, now in command of a small company of spearmen in the Regent Murray's service, is on foot, in the first pause after the battle at Kennaquhair, beside the dead bodies of Julian Avenel and Christie, and the dying Catherine.[101][Pg 275]

Glendinning forgot for a moment his own situation and duties, and was first recalled to them by a trampling of horse, and the cry of St. George for England, which the English soldiers still continued to use. His handful of men, for most of the stragglers had waited for Murray's coming up, remained on horseback, holding their lances upright, having no command either to submit or resist.

"There stands our captain," said one of them, as a strong party of English came up, the vanguard of Foster's troop.

"Your captain! with his sword sheathed, and on foot in the presence of his enemy? a raw soldier, I warrant him," said the English leader. "So! ho! young man, is your dream out, and will you now answer me if you will fight or fly?"

"Neither," answered Halbert Glendinning, with great tranquillity.

"Then throw down thy sword and yield thee," answered the Englishman.

"Not till I can help myself no otherwise," said Halbert, with the same moderation of tone and manner.

"Art thou for thine own hand, friend, or to whom dost thou owe service?" demanded the English captain.

"To the noble Earl of Murray."

"Then thou servest," said the Southron, "the most disloyal nobleman who breathes—false both to England and Scotland."

"Thou liest," said Glendinning, regardless of all consequences.

"Ha! art thou so hot now, and wert so cold but a minute since? I lie, do I? Wilt thou do battle with me on that quarrel?"

"With one to one, one to two, or two to five, as you list," said Halbert Glendinning; "grant me but a fair field."

"That thou shalt have. Stand back, my mates," said[Pg 276] the brave Englishman. "If I fall, give him fair play, and let him go off free with his people."

"Long life to the noble captain!" cried the soldiers, as impatient to see the duel as if it had been a bull.

"He will have a short life of it, though," said the sergeant, "if he, an old man of sixty, is to fight for any reason, or for no reason, with every man he meets, and especially the young fellows he might be father to. And here comes the warden, besides, to see the sword-play."

In fact, Sir John Foster came up with a considerable body of his horsemen, just as his captain, whose age rendered him unequal to the combat with so strong and active a youth as Glendinning, lost his sword.[102]

"Take it up for shame, old Stawarth Bolton," said the English warden; "and thou, young man, get you gone to your own friends, and loiter not here."

Notwithstanding this peremptory order, Halbert Glendinning could not help stopping to cast a look upon the unfortunate Catherine, who lay insensible of the danger and of the trampling of so many horses around her—insensible, as the second glance assured him, of all and forever. Glendinning almost rejoiced when he saw that the last misery of life was over, and that the hoofs of the war-horses, amongst which he was compelled to leave her, could only injure and deface a senseless corpse. He caught the infant from her arms, half ashamed of the shout of laughter which rose on all sides, at seeing an armed man in such a situation assume such an unwonted and inconvenient burden.

"Shoulder your infant!" cried a harquebusier.

"Port your infant!" said a pikeman.

"Peace, ye brutes!" said Stawarth Bolton, "and respect humanity in others, if you have none yourselves. I pardon the lad having done some discredit to my gray hairs, when I see him take care of that helpless creature, which ye would[Pg 277] have trampled upon as if ye had been littered of bitch-wolves, not born of women."

The infant thus saved is the heir of Avenel, and the intricacy and fateful bearing of every incident and word in the scene, knitting into one central moment all the clews to the plot of two romances, as the rich boss of a Gothic vault gathers the shaft moldings of it, can only be felt by an entirely attentive reader; just as (to follow out the likeness on Scott's own ground) the willow-wreaths changed to stone of Melrose tracery can only be caught in their plighting by the keenest eyes. The meshes are again gathered by the master's own hand when the child now in Halbert's arms, twenty years hence, stoops over him to unlace his helmet, as the fallen knight lies senseless on the field of Carberry Hill.[103]

112. But there is another, and a still more hidden method in Scott's designing of story, in which, taking extreme pains, he counts on much sympathy from the reader, and can assuredly find none in a modern student. The moral purpose of the whole, which he asserted in the preface to the first edition of Waverley, was involved always with the minutest study of the effects of true and false religion on the conduct;—which subject being always touched with his utmost lightness of hand and stealthiness of art, and founded on a knowledge of the Scotch character and the human heart, such as no other living man possessed, his purpose often escapes first observation as completely as the inner feelings of living people do; and I am myself amazed, as I take any single piece of his work up for examination, to find how many of its points I had before missed or disregarded.

113. The groups of personages whose conduct in the Scott romance is definitely affected by religious conviction, may be arranged broadly, as those of the actual world, under these following heads:[Pg 278]

1. The lowest group consists of persons who, believing in the general truths of Evangelical religion, accommodate them to their passions, and are capable, by gradual increase in depravity, of any crime or violence. I am not going to include these in our present study. Trumbull ("Red Gauntlet"), Trusty Tomkyns ("Woodstock"), Burley ("Old Mortality"), are three of the principal types.

2. The next rank above these consists of men who believe firmly and truly enough to be restrained from any conduct which they clearly recognize as criminal, but whose natural selfishness renders them incapable of understanding the morality of the Bible above a certain point; and whose imperfect powers of thought leave them liable in many directions to the warping of self-interest or of small temptations.

Fairservice. Blattergowl. Kettledrummle. Gifted Gilfillan.

3. The third order consists of men naturally just and honest, but with little sympathy and much pride, in whom their religion, while in the depth of it supporting their best virtues, brings out on the surface all their worst faults, and makes them censorious, tiresome, and often fearfully mischievous.

Richie Moniplies. Davie Deans. Mause Hedrigg.

4. The enthusiastic type, leading to missionary effort, often to martyrdom.

Warden, in "Monastery." Colonel Gardiner. Ephraim Macbriar. Joshua Geddes.

5. Highest type, fulfilling daily duty; always gentle, entirely firm, the comfort and strength of all around them; merciful to every human fault, and submissive without anger to every human oppression.

Rachel Geddes. Jeanie Deans. Bessie Maclure, in "Old Mortality"—the Queen of all.

114. In the present paper, I ask the reader's patience only with my fulfillment of a promise long since made, to mark the opposition of the effects of an entirely similar religious faith in two men of inferior position, representing in[Pg 279] perfectness the commonest types in Scotland of the second and third order of religionists here distinguished, Andrew Fairservice ("Rob Roy"), and Richie Moniplies ("Nigel").

The names of both the men imply deceitfulness of one kind or another—Fairservice, as serving fairly only in pretense; Moniplies, as having many windings, turns, and ways of escape. Scott's names are themselves so Moniplied that they need as much following out as Shakespeare's; and as their roots are pure Scotch, and few people have a good Scottish glossary beside them, or would use it if they had, the novels are usually read without any turning of the first keys to them. I did not myself know till very lately the root of Dandie Dinmont's name—"Dinmont," a two-year-old sheep; still less that of Moniplies, which I had been always content to take Master George Heriot's rendering of: "This fellow is not ill-named—he has more plies than one in his cloak." ("Nigel," i. 72.) In its first sense, it is the Scotch word for tripe, Moniplies being a butcher's son.

115. Cunning, then, they both are, in a high degree—but Fairservice only for himself, Moniplies for himself and his friend; or, in grave business, even for his friend first. But it is one of Scott's first principles of moral law that cunning never shall succeed, unless definitely employed against an enemy by a person whose essential character is wholly frank and true; as by Roland against Lady Lochleven, or Mysie Happer against Dan of the Howlet-hirst; but consistent cunning in the character always fails: Scott allows no Ulyssean hero.

Therefore the cunning of Fairservice fails always, and totally; but that of Moniplies precisely according to the degree of its selfishness: wholly, in the affair of the petition—("I am sure I had a' the right and a' the risk," i. 73)—partially, in that of the carcanet. This he himself at last recognizes with complacency:—

"I think you might have left me," says Nigel in their[Pg 280] parting scene (i. 286), "to act according to my own judgment."

"Mickle better not," answered Richie; "mickle better not. We are a' frail creatures, and can judge better for ilk ither than in our own cases. And for me—even myself—I have always observed myself to be much more prudential in what I have done in your lordship's behalf, than even in what I have been able to transact for my own interest—whilk last, I have, indeed, always postponed, as in duty I ought."

"I do believe thou hast," answered Lord Nigel, "having ever found thee true and faithful."

And his final success is entirely owing to his courage and fidelity, not to his cunning.

To this subtlety both the men join considerable power of penetration into the weaknesses of character; but Fairservice only sees the surface-failings, and has no respect for any kind of nobleness; while Richie watches the gradual lowering of his master's character and reputation with earnest sorrow.

"My lord," said Richie, "to be round with you, the grace of God is better than gold pieces, and, if they were my last words," he said, raising his voice, "I would say you are misled, and are forsaking the paths your honorable father trode in; and what is more, you are going—still under correction—to the devil with a dishclout, for ye are laughed at by them that lead you into these disordered bypaths" (i. 282).

116. In the third place, note that the penetration of Moniplies,—though, as aforesaid, more into faults than virtues,—being yet founded on the truth of his own nature, is undeceivable. No rogue can escape him for an instant; and he sees through all the machinations of Lord Glenvarloch's enemies from the first; while Fairservice, shrewd enough in detecting the follies of good people, is quite helpless before knaves, and is deceived three times over by his own chosen[Pg 281] friends—first by the lawyer's clerk, Touthope (ii. 21), then by the hypocrite MacVittie, and finally by his true blue Presbyterian friend Laurie.

In these first elements of character the men are thus broadly distinguished; but in the next, requiring analysis, the differences are much more subtle. Both of them have, in nearly equal degree, the peculiar love of doing or saying what is provoking, by an exact contrariety to the wishes of the person they are dealing with, which is a fault inherent in the rough side of uneducated Scottish character; but in Andrew, the habit is checked by his self-interest, so that it is only behind his master's back that we hear his opinion of him; and only when he has lost his temper that the inherent provocativeness comes out—(see the dark ride into Scotland).

On the contrary, Moniplies never speaks but in praise of his absent master; but exults in mortifying him in direct colloquy: yet never indulges this amiable disposition except with a really kind purpose, and entirely knowing what he is about. Fairservice, on the other hand, gradually falls into an unconscious fatality of varied blunder and provocation; and at last causes the entire catastrophe of the story by bringing in the candles when he has been ordered to stay downstairs.

117. We have next to remember that with Scott, Truth and Courage are one. He somewhat overvalued animal courage—holding it the basis of all other virtue—in his own words, "Without courage there can be no truth, and without truth no virtue." He would, however, sometimes allow his villains to possess the basis, without the super-structure, and thus Rashleigh, Dalgarno, Balfour, Varney, and other men of that stamp are to be carefully distinguished from his erring heroes, Marmion, Bertram, Christie of the Clinthill, or Nanty Ewart, in whom loyalty is always the real strength of the character, and the faults of life are owing to temporary passion or evil fate. Scott differs in this standard of heroism materially from Byron,[104][Pg 282] in whose eyes mere courage, with strong affections, are enough for admiration: while Bertram, and even Marmion, though loyal to his country, are meant only to be pitied—not honored. But neither Scott nor Byron will ever allow any grain of mercy to a coward; and the final difference, therefore, between Fairservice and Moniplies, which decides their fate in Scott's hands, is that between their courage and cowardice. Fairservice is driven out at the kitchen door, never to be heard of more, while Richie rises into Sir Richie of Castle-Collop—the reader may perhaps at the moment think by too careless grace on the King's part; which, indeed, Scott in some measure meant;—but the grotesqueness and often evasiveness of Richie's common manner make us forget how surely his bitter word is backed by his ready blow, when need is. His first introduction to us (i. 33), is because his quick temper overcomes his caution,—

"I thought to mysel', 'Ye are owre mony for me to mell with; but let me catch ye in Barford's Park, or at the fit of the vennel, I could gar some of ye sing another sang.' Sae, ae auld hirpling deevil of a potter behoved just to step in my way and offer me a pig, as he said, just to pit my Scotch ointment in, and I gave him a push, as but natural, and the tottering deevil couped owre amang his ain pigs, and damaged a score of them. And then the reird[105] raise"—

while in the close of the events (ii. 365), he wins his wife by a piece of hand-to-hand fighting, of the value of which his cool and stern estimate, in answer to the gay Templar, is one of the great sentences marking Scott's undercurrent of two feelings about war, in spite of his love of its heroism.[Pg 283]

"Bravo, Richie," cried Lowestoffe, "why, man, there lies Sin struck down like an ox, and Iniquity's throat cut like a calf."

"I know not why you should upbraid me with my upbringing, Master Lowestoffe," answered Richie, with great composure; "but I can tell you, the shambles is not a bad place for training one to this work."

118. These then being the radical conditions of native character in the two men, wholly irrespective of their religious persuasion, we have to note what form their Presbyterian faith takes in each, and what effect it has on their consciences.

In Richie, it has little to do; his conscience being, in the deep of it, frank and clear. His religion commands him nothing which he is not at once ready to do, or has not habitually done; and it forbids him nothing which he is unwilling to forego. He pleads no pardon from it for known faults; he seeks no evasions in the letter of it for violations of its spirit. We are scarcely therefore aware of its vital power in him, unless at moments of very grave feeling and its necessary expression.

"Wherefore, as the letter will not avail you with him to whom it is directed, you may believe that Heaven hath sent it to me, who have a special regard for the writer—have besides, as much mercy and honesty within me as man can weel mak' his bread with, and am willing to aid any distressed creature, that is my friend's friend."

So, again, in the deep feeling which rebukes his master's careless ruin of the poor apprentice—

"I say, then, as I am a true man, when I saw that puir creature come through the ha' at that ordinary, whilk is accurst (Heaven forgive me for swearing) of God and man, with his teeth set, and his hands clenched, and his bonnet[Pg 284] drawn over his brows...." He stopped a moment, and looked fixedly in his master's face.

—and again in saving the poor lad himself when he takes the street to his last destruction "with burning heart and bloodshot eye":

"Why do you stop my way?" he said fiercely.

"Because it is a bad one, Master Jenkin," said Richie.

"Nay, never start about it, man; you see you are known. Alack-a-day! that an honest man's son should live to start at hearing himself called by his own name."

"I pray you in good fashion to let me go," said Jenkin. "I am in the humor to be dangerous to myself, or to anyone."

"I will abide the risk," said the Scot, "if you will but come with me. You are the very lad in the world whom I most wish to meet."[106]

"And you," answered Vincent, "or any of your beggarly countrymen, are the last sight I should ever wish to see. You Scots are ever fair and false."

"As to our poverty, friend," replied Richie, "that is as Heaven pleases; but touching our falsity, I'll prove to you that a Scotsman bears as leal and true a heart to his friend as ever beat in an English doublet."

119. In these, and other such passages, it will be felt that I have done Richie some injustice in classing him among the religionists who have little sympathy! For all real distress, his compassion is instant; but his doctrinal religion becomes immediately to him a cause of failure in charity.[Pg 285]

"Yon divine has another air from powerful Master Rollock, and Mess David Black of North Leith, and sic like. Alack-a-day, wha can ken, if it please your lordship, whether sic prayers as the Southrons read out of their auld blethering black mess-book there, may not be as powerful to invite fiends, as a right red-het prayer warm from the heart may be powerful to drive them away; even as the evil spirit was driven by the smell of the fish's liver from the bridal chamber of Sara, the daughter of Raguel!"

The scene in which this speech occurs is one of Scott's most finished pieces, showing with supreme art how far the weakness of Richie's superstitious formality is increased by his being at the time partially drunk!

It is on the other hand to be noted to his credit, for an earnest and searching Bible-reader, that he quotes the Apocrypha. Not so gifted Gilfillan,—

"But if your honor wad consider the case of Tobit—!"

"Tobit!" exclaimed Gilfillan with great heat; "Tobit and his dog baith are altogether heathenish and apocryphal, and none but a prelatist or a papist would draw them into question. I doubt I hae been mista'en in you, friend."

Gilfillan and Fairservice are exactly alike, and both are distinguished from Moniplies in their scornfully exclusive dogmatism, which is indeed the distinctive plague-spot of the lower evangelical sect everywhere, and the worst blight of the narrow natures, capable of its zealous profession. In Blattergowl, on the contrary, as his name implies, the doctrinal teaching has become mere Blather, Blatter, or patter—a string of commonplaces spoken habitually in performance of his clerical function, but with no personal or sectarian interest in them on his part.

"He said fine things on the duty o' resignation to the will of God—that did he"; but his own mind is fixed under ordinary circumstances only on the income and privilege of[Pg 286] his position. Scott however indicates this without severity as one of the weaknesses of an established church, to the general principle of which, as to all other established and monarchic law, he is wholly submissive, and usually affectionate (see the description of Colonel Mannering's Edinburgh Sunday), so that Blattergowl, out of the pulpit, does not fail in his serious pastoral duty, but gives real comfort by his presence and exhortation in the cottage of the Mucklebackits.

On the other hand, to all kinds of Independents and Nonconformists (unless of Roderick Dhu type) Scott is adverse with all his powers; and accordingly, Andrew and Gilfillan are much more sternly and scornfully drawn than Blattergowl.

120. In all the three, however, the reader must not for an instant suspect what is commonly called "hypocrisy." Their religion is no assumed mask or advanced pretense. It is in all a confirmed and intimate faith, mischievous by its error, in proportion to its sincerity (compare "Ariadne Florentina," paragraph 87), and although by his cowardice, petty larceny,[107] and low cunning, Fairservice is absolutely separated into a different class of men from Moniplies—in his fixed religious principle and primary conception of moral conduct, he is exactly like him. Thus when, in an agony of terror, he speaks for once to his master with entire sincerity, one might for a moment think it was a lecture by Moniplies to Nigel.

"O, Maister Frank, a' your uncle's follies and your cousin's fliskies, were nothing to this! Drink clean cap-out, like Sir Hildebrand; begin the blessed morning with brandy-taps like Squire Percy; rin wud among the lasses like Squire John; gamble like Richard; win souls to the Pope and the deevil, like Rashleigh; rive, rant, break the Sabbath, and do the Pope's bidding, like them a' put thegither—but merciful Providence! tak' care o' your young bluid, and gang na near Rob Roy."

[Pg 287]

I said, one might for a moment think it was a Moniplies' lecture to Nigel. But not for two moments, if we indeed can think at all. We could not find a passage more concentrated in expression of Andrew's total character; nor more characteristic of Scott in the calculated precision and deliberate appliance of every word.

121. Observe first, Richie's rebuke, quoted above, fastens Nigel's mind instantly on the nobleness of his father. But Andrew's to Frank fastens as instantly on the follies of his uncle and cousins.

Secondly, the sum of Andrew's lesson is—"do anything that is rascally, if only you save your skin." But Richie's is summed in "the grace of God is better than gold pieces."

Thirdly, Richie takes little note of creeds, except when he is drunk, but looks to conduct always; while Andrew clinches his catalogue of wrong with "doing the Pope's bidding" and Sabbath-breaking; these definitions of the unpardonable being the worst absurdity of all Scotch wickedness to this hour—everything being forgiven to people who go to church on Sunday, and curse the Pope. Scott never loses sight of this marvelous plague-spot of Presbyterian religion, and the last words of Andrew Fairservice are:—

"The villain Laurie! to betray an auld friend that sang aff the same psalm-book wi' him every Sabbath for twenty years,"

and the tragedy of these last words of his, and of his expulsion from his former happy home—"a jargonelle pear-tree at one end of the cottage, a rivulet and flower plot of a rood in extent in front, a kitchen garden behind, and a paddock for a cow" (viii. 6, of the 1830 edition) can only be understood by the reading of the chapter he quotes on that last Sabbath evening he passes in it—the 5th of Nehemiah.

122. For—and I must again and again point out this to the modern reader, who, living in a world of affectation, suspects "hypocrisy" in every creature he sees—the very plague of this lower evangelical piety is that it is not hypocrisy; that[Pg 288] Andrew and Laurie do both expect to get the grace of God by singing psalms on Sunday, whatever rascality they practice during the week. In the modern popular drama of "School,"[108] the only religious figure is a dirty and malicious usher who appears first reading Hervey's "Meditations," and throws away the book as soon as he is out of sight of the company. But when Andrew is found by Frank "perched up like a statue by a range of beehives in an attitude of devout contemplation, with one eye watching the motions of the little irritable citizens, and the other fixed on a book of devotion," you will please observe, suspicious reader, that the devout gardener has no expectation whatever of Frank's approach, nor has he any design upon him, nor is he reading or attitudinizing for effect of any kind on any person. He is following his own ordinary customs, and his book of devotion has been already so well used that "much attrition had deprived it of its corners, and worn it into an oval shape"; its attractiveness to Andrew being twofold—the first, that it contains doctrine to his mind; the second, that such sound doctrine is set forth under figures properly belonging to his craft. "I was e'en taking a spell o' worthy Mess John Quackleben's 'Flower of a Sweet Savour sown on the Middenstead of this World'" (note in passing Scott's easy, instant, exquisite invention of the name of author and title of book); and it is a question of very curious interest how far these sweet "spells" in Quackleben, and the like religious exercises of a nature compatible with worldly business (compare Luckie Macleary, "with eyes employed on Boston's 'Crook in the Lot,' while her ideas were engaged in summing up the reckoning"—Waverley, i. 112)—do indeed modify in Scotland the national character[Pg 289] for the better or the worse; or, not materially altering, do at least solemnize and confirm it in what good it may be capable of. My own Scottish nurse described in "Fors Clavigera" for April, 1873, would, I doubt not, have been as faithful and affectionate without her little library of Puritan theology; nor were her minor faults, so far as I could see, abated by its exhortations; but I cannot but believe that her uncomplaining endurance of most painful disease, and steadiness of temper under not unfrequent misapprehension by those whom she best loved and served, were in great degree aided by so much of Christian faith and hope as she had succeeded in obtaining, with little talk about it.

123. I knew however in my earlier days a right old Covenanter in my Scottish aunt's house, of whom, with Mause Hedrigg and David Deans, I may be able perhaps to speak further in my next paper.[109] But I can only now write carefully of what bears on my immediate work: and must ask the reader's indulgence for the hasty throwing together of materials intended, before my illness last spring, to have been far more thoroughly handled. The friends who are fearful for my reputation as an "écrivain" will perhaps kindly recollect that a sentence of "Modern Painters" was often written four or five times over in my own hand, and tried in every word for perhaps an hour—perhaps a forenoon—before it was passed for the printer. I rarely now fix my mind on a sentence, or a thought, for five minutes in the quiet of morning, but a telegram comes announcing that somebody or other will do themselves the pleasure of calling at eleven o'clock, and that there's two shillings to pay.[Pg 290]


[98] October 1881.

[99] "Jean François Millet." Twenty Etching's and Woodcuts reproduced in Facsimile, and Biographical Notice by William Ernest Henley. London, 1881.

[100] I am sorry to find that my former allusion to the boating expedition in this novel has been misconstrued by a young authoress of promise into disparagement of her own work; not supposing it possible that I could only have been forced to look at George Eliot's by a friend's imperfect account of it.

[101] I am ashamed to exemplify the miserable work of "review" by mangling and mumbling this noble closing chapter of the "Monastery," but I cannot show the web of work without unweaving it.

[102] With ludicrously fatal retouch in the later edition "was deprived of" his sword.

[103] Again I am obliged, by review necessity, to omit half the points of the scene.

[104] I must deeply and earnestly express my thanks to my friend Mr. Hale White for his vindication of Goethe's real opinion of Byron from the mangled representation of it by Mr. Matthew Arnold (Contemporary Review, August, 1881).

[105] "Reirde, rerde, Anglo-Saxon reord, lingua, sermo, clamor, shouting" (Douglas glossary). No Scottish sentence in the Scott novels should be passed without examining every word in it, his dialect, as already noticed, being always pure and classic in the highest degree, and his meaning always the fuller, the further it is traced.

[106] The reader must observe that in quoting Scott for illustration of particular points I am obliged sometimes to alter the succession and omit much of the context of the pieces I want, for Scott never lets you see his hand, nor get at his points without remembering and comparing far-away pieces carefully. To collect the evidence of any one phase of character, is like pulling up the detached roots of a creeper.

[107] Note the "wee business of my ain," i. 213.

[108] Its "hero" is a tall youth with handsome calves to his legs, who shoots a bull with a fowling-piece, eats a large lunch, thinks it witty to call Othello a "nigger," and, having nothing to live on, and being capable of doing nothing for his living, establishes himself in lunches and cigars forever, by marrying a girl with a fortune. The heroine is an amiable governess, who, for the general encouragement of virtue in governesses, is rewarded by marrying a lord.

[109] The present paper was, however, the last.—Ed.


124. Long since, longer ago than the opening of some fairy tales, I was asked by the publisher who has been rash enough, at my request, to reprint these my favorite old stories in their earliest English form, to set down for him my reasons for preferring them to the more polished legends, moral and satiric, which are now, with rich adornment of every page by very admirable art, presented to the acceptance of the Nursery.

But it seemed to me to matter so little to the majestic independence of the child-public, who, beside themselves, liked, or who disliked, what they pronounced entertaining, that it is only on strict claims of a promise unwarily given that I venture on the impertinence of eulogy; and my reluctance is the greater, because there is in fact nothing very notable in these tales, unless it be their freedom from faults which for some time have been held to be quite the reverse of faults by the majority of readers.

125. In the best stories recently written for the young, there is a taint which it is not easy to define, but which inevitably follows on the author's addressing himself to children bred in schoolrooms and drawing-rooms, instead of fields and[Pg 291] woods—children whose favorite amusements are premature imitations of the vanities of elder people, and whose conceptions of beauty are dependent partly on costliness of dress. The fairies who interfere in the fortunes of these little ones are apt to be resplendent chiefly in millinery and satin slippers, and appalling more by their airs than their enchantments.

The fine satire which, gleaming through every playful word, renders some of these recent stories as attractive to the old as to the young, seems to me no less to unfit them for their proper function. Children should laugh, but not mock; and when they laugh, it should not be at the weaknesses and the faults of others. They should be taught, as far as they are permitted to concern themselves with the characters of those around them, to seek faithfully for good, not to lie in wait maliciously to make themselves merry with evil: they should be too painfully sensitive to wrong to smile at it; and too modest to constitute themselves its judges.

126. With these minor errors a far graver one is involved. As the simplicity of the sense of beauty has been lost in recent tales for children, so also the simplicity of their conception of love. That word which, in the heart of a child, should represent the most constant and vital part of its being; which ought to be the sign of the most solemn thoughts that inform its awakening soul and, in one wide mystery of pure sunrise, should flood the zenith of its heaven, and gleam on the dew at its feet; this word, which should be consecrated on its lips, together with the Name which it may not take in vain, and whose meaning should soften and animate every emotion through which the inferior things and the feeble creatures, set beneath it in its narrow world, are revealed to its curiosity or companionship; this word, in modern child-story, is too often restrained and darkened into the hieroglyph of an evil mystery, troubling the sweet peace of youth with premature gleams of uncomprehended passion, and flitting shadows of unrecognized sin.

These great faults in the spirit of recent child-fiction are[Pg 292] connected with a parallel folly of purpose. Parents who are too indolent and self-indulgent to form their children's characters by wholesome discipline, or in their own habits and principles of life are conscious of setting before them no faultless example, vainly endeavor to substitute the persuasive influence of moral precept, intruded in the guise of amusement, for the strength of moral habit compelled by righteous authority:—vainly think to inform the heart of infancy with deliberative wisdom, while they abdicate the guardianship of its unquestioning innocence; and warp into the agonies of an immature philosophy of conscience the once fearless strength of its unsullied and unhesitating virtue.

127. A child should not need to choose between right and wrong. It should not be capable of wrong; it should not conceive of wrong. Obedient, as bark to helm, not by sudden strain or effort, but in the freedom of its bright course of constant life; true, with an undistinguished, praiseless, unboastful truth, in a crystalline household world of truth; gentle, through daily entreatings of gentleness, and honorable trusts, and pretty prides of child-fellowship in offices of good; strong, not in bitter and doubtful contest with temptation, but in peace of heart, and armor of habitual right, from which temptation falls like thawing hail; self-commanding, not in sick restraint of mean appetites and covetous thoughts, but in vital joy of unluxurious life, and contentment in narrow possession, wisely esteemed.

Children so trained have no need of moral fairy tales; but they will find in the apparently vain and fitful courses of any tradition of old time, honestly delivered to them, a teaching for which no other can be substituted, and of which the power cannot be measured; animating for them the material world with inextinguishable life, fortifying them against the glacial cold of selfish science, and preparing them submissively, and with no bitterness of astonishment, to behold, in later years, the mystery—divinely appointed to remain such to all human thought—of the fates that happen alike to the evil and the good.[Pg 293]

128. And the effect of the endeavor to make stories moral upon the literary merit of the work itself, is as harmful as the motive of the effort is false. For every fairy tale worth recording at all is the remnant of a tradition possessing true historical value;—historical, at least in so far as it has naturally arisen out of the mind of a people under special circumstances, and risen not without meaning, nor removed altogether from their sphere of religious faith. It sustains afterwards natural changes from the sincere action of the fear or fancy of successive generations; it takes new color from their manner of life, and new form from their changing moral tempers. As long as these changes are natural and effortless, accidental and inevitable, the story remains essentially true, altering its form, indeed, like a flying cloud, but remaining a sign of the sky; a shadowy image, as truly a part of the great firmament of the human mind as the light of reason which it seems to interrupt. But the fair deceit and innocent error of it cannot be interpreted nor restrained by a willful purpose, and all additions to it by act do but defile, as the shepherd disturbs the flakes of morning mist with smoke from his fire of dead leaves.

129. There is also a deeper collateral mischief in this indulgence of licentious change and retouching of stories to suit particular tastes, or inculcate favorite doctrines. It directly destroys the child's power of rendering any such belief as it would otherwise have been in his nature to give to an imaginative vision. How far it is expedient to occupy his mind with ideal forms at all may be questionable to many, though not to me; but it is quite beyond question that if we do allow of the fictitious representation, that representation should be calm and complete, possessed to the full, and read down its utmost depth. The little reader's attention should never be confused or disturbed, whether he is possessing himself of fairy tale or history. Let him know his fairy tale accurately, and have perfect joy or awe in the conception of it as if it were real; thus he will always be exercising his power of grasping realities: but a confused, careless, or discrediting tenure of[Pg 294] the fiction will lead to as confused and careless reading of fact. Let the circumstances of both be strictly perceived and long dwelt upon, and let the child's own mind develop fruit of thought from both. It is of the greatest importance early to secure this habit of contemplation, and therefore it is a grave error, either to multiply unnecessarily, or to illustrate with extravagant richness, the incidents presented to the imagination. It should multiply and illustrate them for itself; and, if the intellect is of any real value, there will be a mystery and wonderfulness in its own dreams which would only be thwarted by external illustration. Yet I do not bring forward the text or the etchings in this volume as examples of what either ought to be in works of the kind: they are in many respects common, imperfect, vulgar; but their vulgarity is of a wholesome and harmless kind. It is not, for instance, graceful English, to say that a thought "popped into Catherine's head"; but it nevertheless is far better, as an initiation into literary style, that a child should be told this than that "a subject attracted Catherine's attention." And in genuine forms of minor tradition, a rude and more or less illiterate tone will always be discernible; for all the best fairy tales have owed their birth, and the greater part of their power, to narrowness of social circumstances; they belonged properly to districts in which walled cities are surrounded by bright and unblemished country, and in which a healthy and bustling town life, not highly refined, is relieved by, and contrasted with, the calm enchantment of pastoral and woodland scenery, either under humble cultivation by peasant masters, or left in its natural solitude. Under conditions of this kind the imagination is enough excited to invent instinctively (and rejoice in the invention of) spiritual forms of wildness and beauty, while yet it is restrained and made cheerful by the familiar accidents and relations of town life, mingling always in its fancy humorous and vulgar circumstances with pathetic ones, and never so much impressed with its supernatural fantasies as to be in danger of retaining them as any part of its religious faith. The good spirit descends gradually[Pg 295] from an angel into a fairy, and the demon shrinks into a playful grotesque of diminutive malevolence, while yet both keep an accredited and vital influence upon the character and mind. But the language in which such ideas will be usually clothed, must necessarily partake of their narrowness; and art is systematically incognizant of them, having only strength under the conditions which awake them to express itself in an irregular and gross grotesque, fit only for external architectural decoration.

130. The illustrations of this volume are almost the only exceptions I know to the general rule. They are of quite sterling and admirable art, in a class precisely parallel in elevation to the character of the tales which they illustrate; and the original etchings, as I have before said in the Appendix to my "Elements of Drawing," were quite unrivaled in masterfulness of touch since Rembrandt (in some qualities of delineation unrivaled even by him). These copies have been so carefully executed, that at first I was deceived by them, and supposed them to be late impressions from the plates (and what is more, I believe the master himself was deceived by them, and supposed them to be his own); and although on careful comparison with the first proofs they will be found no exception to the terrible law that literal repetition of entirely fine work shall be, even to the hand that produced it,—much more to any other,—forever impossible, they still represent, with sufficient fidelity to be in the highest degree instructive, the harmonious light and shade, the manly simplicity of execution, and the easy, unincumbered fancy, of designs which belonged to the best period of Cruikshank's genius. To make somewhat enlarged copies of them, looking at them through a magnifying glass, and never putting two lines where Cruikshank has put only one, would be an exercise in decision and severe drawing which would leave afterwards little to be learnt in schools, I would gladly also say much in their praise as imaginative designs; but the power of genuine imaginative work, and its difference from that which is compounded and patched together from borrowed sources, is of[Pg 296] all qualities of art the most difficult to explain; and I must be content with the simple assertions of it.

And so I trust the good old book, and the honest work that adorns it, to such favor as they may find with children of open hearts and lowly lives.

Denmark Hill, Easter, 1868. [Pg 297]


[110] This paper forms the introduction to a volume entitled "German Popular Stories, with Illustrations after the original designs of George Cruikshank, edited by Edgar Taylor, with Introduction by John Ruskin, M.A." London: Chatto and Windus, 1868. The book is a reprint of Mr. Edgar Taylor's original (1823) selections of the "Hausmärchen," or "German Popular Stories" of the Brothers Grimm. The original selections were in two octavo volumes; the reprint in one of smaller size, it being (the publisher states in his preface) "Mr. Ruskin's wish that the new edition should appeal to young readers rather than to adults."—Ed.



(Contemporary Review, May 1873.)


(Contemporary Review, February 1880.)


(Pamphlet, 1885.)[Pg 299][Pg 298]


131. In the March number of the Contemporary Review appeared two papers,[112] by writers of reputation, which I cannot but hope their authors will perceive upon reflection to have involved errors only the more grave in that they have become, of late, in the minds of nearly all public men, facile and familiar. I have, therefore, requested the editor's permission to offer some reply to both of these essays, their subjects being intimately connected.

The first of which I speak was Mr. Herbert Spencer's, which appeared under the title of "The Bias of Patriotism." But the real subject of the paper (discussed in its special extent, with singular care and equity) was only the bias of National vanity; and the debate was opened by this very curious sentence,—"Patriotism is nationally, that which Egoism is individually."

Mr. Spencer would not, I think, himself accept this statement, if put into the clear form, "What is Egoism in one man, is Patriotism in two or more, and the vice of an individual, the virtue of a multitude."[113] But it is strange,—however strictly Mr. Spencer may of late have confined his attention to metaphysical or scientific subjects, disregarding[Pg 300] the language of historical or imaginative literature—it is strange, I repeat, that so careful a student should be unaware that the term "patriotism" cannot, in classical usage, be extended to the action of a multitude. No writer of authority ever speaks of a nation as having felt, or acted, patriotically. Patriotism is, by definition, a virtue of individuals; and so far from being in those individuals a mode of egoism, it is precisely in the sacrifice of their egoism that it consists. It is the temper of mind which determines them to defer their own interests to those of their country.

132. Supposing it possible for any parallel sentiment to animate a nation as one body, it could have reference only to the position it held among other families of the world. The name of the emotion would then be properly "Cosmism," and would signify the resolution of such a people to sacrifice its own special interests to those of Mankind. Cosmism hitherto has indeed generally asserted itself only in the desire of the Cosmic nation that all others should adopt its theological opinions, and permit it to adopt their personal property; but Patriotism has truly existed, and even as a dominant feeling, in the minds of many persons who have been greatly influential on the fates of their races, and that one of our leading philosophers should be unconscious of the nature of this sentiment, and ignorant of its political power, is to be noted as painfully characteristic of the present state of England itself.

It does not indeed follow that a feeling of which we are unaware is necessarily extinguished in us; and the faculties of perception and analysis are always so paralyzed by the lingual ingenuities of logic that it is impossible to say, of any professed logician, whether he may not yet be acting under the real force of ideas of which he has lost both the consciousness and conception. No man who has once entangled himself in what Mr. Spencer defines, farther on, as the "science of the relations implied by the conclusions, exclusions, and overlappings of classes," can be expected during the rest of his life to perceive more of any one thing than that it is included, excluded, or overlapped by something else; which is in itself[Pg 301] a sufficiently confused state of mind, and especially harmful in that it permits us to avoid considering whether our intellectual linen is itself clean, while we concern ourselves only to ascertain whether it is included, excluded, or overlapped by our coat collar. But it is a grave phenomenon of the time that patriotism—of all others—should be the sentiment which an English logician is not only unable to define, but attempts to define as its precise contrary. In every epoch of decline, men even of high intellectual energy have been swept down in the diluvium of public life, and the crystalline edges of their minds worn away by friction with blunted ones; but I had not believed that the whole weight of the depraved mob of modern England, though they have become incapable alike of fidelity to their own country, and alliance with any other, could so far have perplexed one of our exactest students as to make him confuse heroism with conceit, and the loves of country and of home with the iniquities of selfishness. Can it be only a quarter of a century since the Last Minstrel died—and have we already answered his "Lives there a man?" with the calm assertion that there live no other than such; and that the "wretch concentered all in self "is the "Patriot" of our generation?

133. Be it so. Let it even be admitted that egoism is the only power conceivable by a modern metaphysician to be the spring of mental energy; just as chemical excitement may be the only power traceable by the modern physician as the source of muscular energy. And still Mr. Spencer's subsequent analysis is inaccurate, and unscholarly. For egoism does not necessarily imply either misapprehension or mismeasurement. There are modes of the love of our country which are definitely selfish, as a cat's of the hearthrug, yet entirely balanced and calm in judicial faculty; passions which determine conduct, but have no influence on opinion. For instance, I have bought for my own exclusive gratification, the cottage in which I am writing, near the lake-beach on which I used to play when I was seven years old. Were I a public-spirited scientific person, or a benevolently pious one, I[Pg 302] should doubtless, instead, be surveying the geographical relations of the Mountains of the Moon, or translating the Athanasian Creed into Tartar-Chinese. But I hate the very name of the public, and labor under no oppressive anxiety either for the advancement of science, or the salvation of mankind. I therefore prefer amusing myself with the lake-pebbles, of which I know nothing but that they are pretty; and conversing with people whom I can understand without pains, and who, so far from needing to be converted, seem to me on the whole better than myself. This is moral egoism, but it is not intellectual error. I never form, much less express, any opinion as to the relative beauties of Yewdale crag and the Mountains of the Moon; nor do I please myself by contemplating, in any exaggerated light, the spiritual advantages which I possess in my familiarity with the Thirty-nine Articles. I know the height of my neighboring mountains to a foot; and the extent of my real possessions, theological and material, to an article. Patriotic egoism attaches me to the one; personal egoism satisfies me in the other; and the calm selfishness with which Nature has blessed all her unphilosophical creatures, blinds me to the attractions—as to the faults—of things with which I have no concern, and saves me at once from the folly of contempt, and the discomfort of envy. I might have written, as accurately, "The discomfort of contempt"; for indeed the forms of petulant rivalry and self-assertion which Mr. Spencer assumes to be developments of egoism, are merely its diseases; (taking the word "disease" in its most literal meaning). A man of sense is more an egoist in modesty than a blockhead is in boasting; and it is neither pride nor self-respect, but only ignorance and ill-breeding, that either disguise the facts of life, or violate its courtesies.

134. It will not, I trust, be thought violation of courtesy to a writer of Mr. Spencer's extending influence, if I urge on his attention the danger under which metaphysicians are always placed of supposing that the investigation of the processes of thought will enable them to distinguish its forms.[Pg 303] 'As well might the chemist, who had exhaustively examined the conditions of vitreous fusion, imagine himself therefore qualified to number or class the vases bent by the breath of Venice. Mr. Spencer has determined, I believe, to the satisfaction of his readers, in what manner thoughts and feelings are constructed; it is time for him now to observe the results of the construction, whether native to his own mind, or discoverable in other intellectual territories. Patriotism is, however, perhaps the last emotion he can now conveniently study in England, for the temper which crowns the joy of life with the sweetness and decorum of death can scarcely be manifested clearly in a country which is fast rendering herself one whose peace is pollution, and whose battle, crime; within whose confines it is loathsome to live, and in whose cause it is disgraceful to die.

135. The chief causes of her degradation were defended, with delicate apology, in the second paper to which I have above referred; the modification by Mr. W. R. Greg of a letter which he had addressed, on the subject of luxurious expenditure and its economical results, to the Pall Mall Gazette; and which Mr. Greg states to have given rise in that journal to a controversy in which four or five combatants took part, the looseness of whose notions induced him to express his own more coherent ones in the Contemporary Review.[114]

I am sorry to find that Mr. Greg looked upon my own poor part in that correspondence as controversial. I merely asked him a question which he declared to be insidious and irrelevant (not considering that if it were the one, it could not be the other), and I stated a few facts respecting which no controversy was possible, and which Mr. Greg, in his own terms, "sedulously abstained" from noticing.

But Mr. Greg felt my question to be insidious because it made him partly conscious that he had only examined one[Pg 304] half of the subject he was discussing, and even that half without precision.

Mr. Goldwin Smith had spoken of a rich man as consuming the means of living of the poor. Mr. Greg, in reply, pointed out how beneficially the rich man spent what he had got. Upon which I ventured to inquire "how he got it"; which is indeed precisely the first of all questions to be asked when the economical relations of any man with his neighbor are to be examined.

Dick Turpin is blamed—suppose—by some plain-minded person for consuming the means of other people's living. "Nay," says Dick to the plain-minded person, "observe how beneficently and pleasantly I spend whatever I get!"

"Yes, Dick," persists the plain-minded person; "but how do you get it?"

"The question," says Dick, "is insidious and irrelevant."

Do not let it be supposed that I mean to assert any irregularity or impropriety in Dick's profession—I merely assert the necessity for Mr. Greg's examination, if he would be master of his subject, of the manner of Gain in every case, as well as the manner of Expenditure. Such accounts must always be accurately rendered in a well-regulated society.

136. "Le lieutenant adressa la parole au capitaine, et lui dit qu'il venait d'enlever ces mannequins, remplis de sucre, de cannelle, d'amandes, et de raisins sees, à un épicier de Bénavente. Après qu'il eut rendu compte de son expédition au bureau, les dépouilles de l'épicier furent portées dans l'office. Alors il ne fut plus question que de se réjouir; je débutai par le buffet, que je parai de plusieurs bouteilles de ce bon vin que le Seigneur Rolando m'avoit vanté."

Mr. Greg strictly confines himself to an examination of the benefits conferred on the public by this so agreeable festivity; but he must not be surprised or indignant that some inquiry should be made as to the resulting condition of the épicier de Bénavente.[Pg 305]

And it is all the more necessary that such inquiry be instituted when the captain of the expedition is a minion, not of the moon, but of the sun; and dazzling, therefore, to all beholders. "It is heaven which dictates what I ought to do upon this occasion,"[115] says Henry of Navarre; "my retreat out of this city,[116] before I have made myself master of it, will be the retreat of my soul out of my body." "Accordingly all the quarter which still held out, we forced," says M. de Rosny, "after which the inhabitants, finding themselves no longer able to resist, laid down their arms, and the city was given up to plunder. My good fortune threw a small iron chest in my way, in which I found about four thousand gold crowns."

I cannot doubt that the Baron's expenditure of this sum would be in the highest degree advantageous to France and to the Protestant religion. But complete economical science must study the effect of its abstraction on the immediate prosperity of the town of Cahors; and even beyond this—the mode of its former acquisition by the town itself, which perhaps, in the economies of the nether world, may have delegated some of its citizens to the seventh circle.[117]

137. And the most curious points in the partiality of modern economical science are that while it always waives this question of ways and means with respect to rich persons, it studiously pushes it in the case of poor ones; and while it asserts the consumption of such an article of luxury as wine (to take that which Mr. Greg himself instances) to be economi[Pg 306]cally expedient, when the wine is drunk by persons who are not thirsty, it asserts the same consumption to be altogether inexpedient, when the privilege is extended to those who are. Thus Mr. Greg dismisses, in one place, with compassionate disdain, the extremely vulgar notion "that a man who drinks a bottle of champagne worth five shillings, while his neighbor is in want of actual food, is in some way wronging his neighbor"; and yet Mr. Greg himself, elsewhere,[118] evidently remains under the equally vulgar impression that the twenty-four millions of such thirstier persons who spend fifteen per cent of their incomes in drink and tobacco, are wronging their neighbors by that expenditure.

138. It cannot, surely, be the difference in degree of refinement between malt liquor and champagne which causes Mr. Greg's undefined sensation of moral delinquency and economical error in the one case, and of none in the other; if that be all, I can relieve him from his embarrassment by putting the cases in more parallel form. A clergyman writes to me, in distress of mind, because the able-bodied laborers who come begging to him in winter, drink port wine out of buckets in summer. Of course Mr. Greg's logical mind will at once admit (as a consequence of his own very just argumentum ad hominem in a previous page[119]) that the consumption of port wine out of buckets must be as much a benefit to society in general as the consumption of champagne out of bottles; and yet, curiously enough, I am certain he will feel my question, "Where does the drinker get the means for his drinking?" more relevant in the case of the imbibers of port than in that of the imbibers of champagne. And although Mr. Greg proceeds, with that lofty contempt for the dictates of nature and Christianity which radical economists cannot but feel, to observe that "while the natural man and the Christian would[Pg 307] have the champagne drinker forego his bottle, and give the value of it to the famishing wretch beside him, the radical economist would condemn such behavior as distinctly criminal and pernicious," he would scarcely, I think, carry out with the same triumphant confidence the conclusions of the unnatural man and the anti-christian, with respect to the laborer as well as the idler; and declare that while the extremely simple persons who still believe in the laws of nature, and the mercy of God, would have the port-drinker forego his bucket, and give the value of it to the famishing wife and child beside him, "the radical economist would condemn such behavior as distinctly criminal and pernicious."

Mr. Greg has it indeed in his power to reply that it is proper to economize for the sake of one's own wife and children, but not for the sake of anybody else's. But since, according to another exponent of the principles of Radical Economy, in the Cornhill Magazine,[120] a well-conducted agricultural laborer must not marry till he is forty-five, his economies, if any, in early life, must be as offensive to Mr. Greg on the score of their abstract humanity, as those of the richest bachelor about town.

139. There is another short sentence in this same page, of which it is difficult to overrate the accidental significance.

"The superficial observer," says Mr. Greg, "recollects a text which he heard in his youth, but of which he never considered the precise applicability—'He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none.'"

The assumptions that no educated Englishman can ever have heard that text except in his youth, and that those who are old enough to remember having heard it, "never considered its precise applicability," are surely rash, in the treatment of a scientific subject. I can assure Mr. Greg that a few gray-headed votaries of the creed of Christendom still read—though perhaps under their breath—the words which[Pg 308] early associations have made precious to them; and that in the bygone days, when that Sermon on the Mount was still listened to with respect by many not illiterate persons, its meaning was not only considered, but very deliberately acted upon. Even the readers of the Contemporary Review may perhaps have some pleasure in retreating from the sunshine of contemporary science, for a few quiet moments, into the shadows of that of the past, and hearing in the following extracts from two letters of Scott's (the first describing the manner of life of his mother, whose death it announces to a friend, the second, anticipating the verdict of the future on the management of his estate by a Scottish nobleman) what relations between rich and poor were possible, when philosophers had not yet even lisped in the sweet numbers of Radical Sociology.

140. "She was a strict economist, which she said, enabled her to be liberal; out of her little income of about £300 a year she bestowed at least a third in well-chosen charities, and with the rest, lived like a gentlewoman, and even with hospitality more general than seemed to suit her age; yet I could never prevail on her to accept of any assistance. You cannot conceive how affecting it was to me to see the little preparations of presents which she had assorted for the New Year, for she was a great observer of the old fashions of her period—and to think that the kind heart was cold which delighted in all these arts of kindly affection."

141. "The Duke is one of those retired and high-spirited men who will never be known until the world asks what became of the huge oak that grew on the brow of the hill, and sheltered such an extent of ground. During the late distress, though his own immense rents remained in arrears, and though I know he was pinched for money, as all men were, but more especially the possessors of entailed estates, he absented himself from London in order to pay, with ease to himself, the laborers employed on his various estates. These amounted (for I have often seen the roll and helped to check it) to nine hundred and fifty men, working at day wages, each[Pg 309] of whom on a moderate average might maintain three persons, since the single men have mothers, sisters, and aged or very young relations to protect and assist. Indeed it is wonderful how much even a small sum, comparatively, will do in supporting the Scottish laborer, who in his natural state is perhaps one of the best, most intelligent, and kind-hearted of human beings; and in truth I have limited my other habits of expense very much since I fell into the habit of employing mine honest people. I wish you could have seen about a hundred children, being almost entirely supported by their fathers' or brothers' labor, come down yesterday to dance to the pipes, and get a piece of cake and bannock, and pence apiece (no very deadly largess) in honor of hogmanay. I declare to you, my dear friend, that when I thought the poor fellows, who kept these children so neat, and well taught, and well behaved, were slaving the whole day for eighteen pence or twenty pence at most, I was ashamed of their gratitude, and of their becks and bows. But after all, one does what one can, and it is better twenty families should be comfortable according to their wishes and habits, than that half that number should be raised above their situation."

142. I must pray Mr. Greg farther to observe, if he has condescended to glance at these remains of almost prehistoric thought, that although the modern philosopher will never have reason to blush for any man's gratitude, and has totally abandoned the romantic idea of making even so much as one family comfortable according to their wishes and habits, the alternative suggested by Scott, that half "the number should be raised above their situation" may become a very inconvenient one if the doctrines of Modern Equality and competition should render the other half desirous of parallel promotion.

143. It is now just sixteen years since Mr. Greg's present philosophy of Expenditure was expressed with great precision by the Common Councilmen of New York, in their report on the commercial crisis of 1857, in the following terms:—[121][Pg 310]

"Another erroneous idea is that luxurious living, extravagant dressing, splendid turn-outs and fine houses, are the cause of distress to a nation, No more erroneous impression could exist. Every extravagance that the man of 100.000 or 1,000,000 dollars indulges in, adds to the means, the support, the wealth of ten or a hundred who had little or nothing else but their labor, their intellect, or their taste. If a man of 1,000,000 dollars spends principal and interest in ten years, and finds himself beggared at the end of that time, he has actually made a hundred who have catered to his extravagance, employers or employed, so much richer by the division of his wealth. He may be ruined, but the nation is better off and richer, for one hundred minds and hands, with 10,000 dollars apiece, are far more productive than one with the whole."

Now that is precisely the view also taken of the matter by a large number of Radical Economists in England as well as America; only they feel that the time, however short, which the rich gentleman takes to divide his property among them in his own way, is practically wasted; and even worse, because the methods which the gentleman himself is likely to adopt for the depression of his fortune will not, in all probability, be conducive to the elevation of his character. It appears, therefore, on moral as well as economical grounds, desirable that the division and distribution should at once be summarily effected; and the only point still open to discussion in the views of the Common Councilmen is to what degree of minuteness they would think it advisable to carry the subsequent subdivision.

144. I do not suppose, however, that this is the conclusion which Mr. Greg is desirous that the general Anti-Christian public should adopt; and in that case, as I see by his paper in the last number of the Contemporary,[122] that he considers the Christian life itself virtually impossible, may I recommend his examination of the manners of the Pre-Christian?[Pg 311] For I can certify him that this important subject, of which he has only himself imperfectly investigated one side, had been thoroughly investigated on all sides, at least seven hundred years before Christ; and from that day to this, all men of wit, sense, and feeling have held precisely the same views on the subjects of economy and charity, in all nations under the sun. It is of no consequence whether Mr. Greg chooses the experience of Boeotia, Lombardy, or Yorkshire, nor whether he studies the relation of work to-day or under Hesiod, Virgil, or Sydney Smith. But it is desirable that at least he should acquaint himself with the opinions of some such persons, as well as with those of the Common Councilmen of New York; for though a man of superior sagacity may be pardoned for thinking, with the friends of Job, that Wisdom will die with him, it can only be through neglect of the existing opportunities of general culture that he remains distinctly under the impression that she was born with him.

145. It may perhaps be well that in conclusion, I should state briefly the causes and terms of the economical crisis of our own day, which has been the subject of the debate between Mr. Goldwin Smith and Mr. Greg.

No man ever became, or can become, largely rich merely by labor and economy.[123] All large fortunes (putting treasure-trove and gambling out of consideration) are founded either on occupation of land, usury, or taxation of labor. Whether openly or occultly, the landlord, money-lender, and capitalist employer, gather into their possession a certain quantity of the means of existence which other people produce by the labor of their hands. The effect of this impost upon the condition of life of the tenant, borrower, and workman, is the first point to be studied;—the results, that is to say, of the mode in which Captain Roland fills his purse.

Secondly, we have to study the effects of the mode in which[Pg 312] Captain Roland empties his purse. The landlord, usurer, or labor-master, does not, and cannot, himself consume all the means of life he collects. He gives them to other persons, whom he employs for his own behoof—growers of champagne, jockeys, footmen, jewelers, builders, painters, musicians, and the like. The division of the labor of these persons from the production of food to the production of articles of luxury is very frequently, and at the present day, very grievously the cause of famine. But when the luxuries are produced, it becomes a quite separate question who is to have them, and whether the landlord and capitalist are entirely to monopolize the music, the painting, the architecture, the hand-service, the horse-service, and the sparkling champagne of the world.

146. And it is gradually, in these days, becoming manifest to the tenants, borrowers, and laborers, that instead of paying these large sums into the hands of the landlords, lenders, and employers, for them to purchase music, painting, etc., with, the tenants, borrowers, and workers had better buy a little music and painting for themselves. That, for instance, instead of the capitalist-employer paying three hundred pounds for a full-length portrait of himself, in the attitude of investing his capital, the united workmen had better themselves pay the three hundred pounds into the hands of the ingenious artist, for a painting in the antiquated manner of Leonardo or Raphael, of some subject more religiously or historically interesting to them; and placed where they can always see it. And again instead of paying three hundred pounds to the obliging landlord, for him to buy a box at the opera with, whence to study the refinements of music and dancing, the tenants are beginning to think that they may as well keep their rents to themselves, and therewith pay some Wandering Willie to fiddle at their own doors, or bid some gray-haired minstrel

"Tune, to please a peasant's ear,
The harp a king had loved to hear."

And similarly the dwellers in the hut of the field and garret[Pg 313] of the city are beginning to think that instead of paying half a crown for the loan of half a fire-place, they had better keep their half-crown in their pockets till they can buy for themselves a whole one.

147. These are the views which are gaining ground among the poor; and it is entirely vain to endeavor to repress them by equivocations. They are founded on eternal laws; and although their recognition will long be refused, and their promulgation, resisted as it will be, partly by force, partly by falsehood, can only be through incalculable confusion and misery, recognized they must be eventually; and with these three ultimate results:—that the usurer's trade will be abolished utterly,—that the employer will be paid justly for his superintendence of labor, but not for his capital, and the landlord paid for his superintendence of the cultivation of land, when he is able to direct it wisely: that both he, and the employer of mechanical labor, will be recognized as beloved masters, if they deserve love, and as noble guides when they are capable of giving discreet guidance; but neither will be permitted to establish themselves any more as senseless conduits through which the strength and riches of their native land are to be poured into the cup of the fornication of its capital.[Pg 314]


[111] Contemporary Review, May 1873.

[112] These were, first, Mr. Herbert Spencer's "Bias of Patriotism," being the ninth chapter of his "Study of Sociology," first published in the Contemporary Review; and, secondly, Mr. W. R. Greg's "What is culpable luxury?" See below, p. 303, § 135.—Ed.

[113] I take due note that Mr. Spencer partly means by his adverbial sentence that Patriotism is individual Egoism, expecting its own central benefit through the Nation's circumferent benefit, as through a funnel: but, throughout, Mr. Spencer confuses this sentiment, which he calls "reflex egoism," with the action of "corporate conscience."

[114] See the letters on "How the Rich Spend their Money" (reprinted from the Pall Mall) in "Arrows of the Chace," vol. ii., where the origin of the discussion is explained.—Ed.

[115] I use the current English of Mrs. Lennox's translation, but Henry's real saying was (see the first—green leaf—edition of Sully), "It is written above what is to happen to me on every occasion." "Toute occasion" becomes "cette occasion" in the subsequent editions, and finally "what is to happen to me" (ce que doit être fait de moi) becomes "what I ought to do" in the English.

[116] Cahors. See the "Memoirs of the Duke of Sully," Book 1. (Bohn's 1856 Edition, vol. i., pp. 118-9.)—Ed.

[117] Where violence and brutality are punished. See Dante's "Inferno," Canto xii.—Ed.

[118] See the Contemporary Review at pp. 618 and 624.—Ed.

[119] Viz.:—That if the expenditure of an income of £30,000 a year upon luxuries is to rob the poor, so pro tanto is the expenditure of so much of an income of £300 as is spent on anything beyond "the simplest necessaries of life."—Ed.

[120] Referring to two anonymous articles on "The Agricultural Laborer," in the Cornhill Magazine, vol. 27, Jan. and June 1873, pp. 215 and 307.—Ed.

[121] See the Times of November 23rd of that year.

[122] "Is a Christian life feasible in these days?"—Ed.

[123] See Munera Pulveris, § 139: "No man can become largely rich by his personal will.... It is only by the discovery of some method of taxing the labor of others that he can become opulent." And see also Time and Tide, § 81.—Ed.



148. I have been honored by the receipt of a letter from the Bishop of Manchester, which, with his Lordship's permission, I have requested the editor of the Contemporary Review to place before the large circle of his readers, with a brief accompanying statement of the circumstances by which the letter has been called forth, and such imperfect reply as it is in my power without delay to render.

J. Ruskin.

Manchester, December 8, 1879.

Dear Sir,—In a letter from yourself to the Rev. F. A. Malleson,[125] published in the Contemporary Review of the current month, I observe the following passage:—"I have never yet heard so much as one (preacher) heartily proclaiming against all those 'deceivers with vain words,' that no 'covetous person, which is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God;' and on myself personally and publicly challenging the Bishops of England generally, and by name the Bishop of Manchester, to say whether usury was, or was not, according to the will of God, I have received no answer from any one of them." I confess, for myself, that until I saw this passage in print a few days ago, I was unaware of the existence of such challenge, and therefore I could not answer it. It appears to have been delivered (A) in No. 82 of a series of letters which, under the title of Fors Clavigera, you have for some time been addressing to the working classes of England, but which, from the peculiar[Pg 315] mode of their publication, are not easily accessible to the general reader and which I have only caught a glimpse of, on the library-table of the Athenæum Club, on the rare occasions when I am able to use my privileges as a member of that Society. I have no idea why I had the honor of being specially mentioned by name (B); but I beg to assure you that my silence did not arise from any discourtesy towards my challenger, nor from that discretion which, some people may think, is usually the better part of episcopal valor, and which consists in ignoring inconvenient questions from a sense of inability to answer them; but simply from the fact that I was not conscious that your lance had touched my shield.

149. The question you have asked is just one of those to which Aristotle's wise caution applies: "We must distinguish and define such words, if we would know how far, and in what sense, the opposite views are true" (Eth. Nic., ix, c. viii. § 3). What do you mean by "usury"? (C) Do you comprehend under it any payment of money as interest for the use of borrowed capital? or only exorbitant, inequitable, grinding interest, such as the money-lender, Fufidius, extorted?

Quinas hic capiti mercedes exsecat, atque
Quanto perditior quisque est, tanto acrius urget:
Nomina sectatur modo sumta veste virili
Sub patribus duris tironum. Maxime, quis non,
Jupiter, exclamat, simul atque audivit?

Hor. Sat. i. 2, 14-18.

Usury, in itself, is a purely neutral word, carrying with it, in its primary meaning, neither praise nor blame; and a "usurer" is defined in our dictionaries as "a person accustomed to lend money and take interest for it"—which is the ordinary function of a banker, without whose help great commercial undertakings could not be carried out; though it is obvious how easily the word may pass into a term of reproach, so that to have been "called a usurer" was one of the bitter memories that rankled most in Shylock's catalogue of his wrongs.[Pg 316]

150. I do not believe that anything has done more harm to the practical efficacy of religions sanctions than the extravagant attempts that are frequently made to impose them in cases which they never originally contemplated, or to read into "ordinances," evidently "imposed for a time"—δικαιὡματα μἑχρι καιρου (Heb. ix. 10)—a law of eternal and immutable obligation. Just as we are told (D) not to expect to find in the Bible a scheme of physical science, so I do not expect to find there a scheme of political economy. What I do expect to find, in relation to my duty to my neighbor, are those unalterable principles of equity, fairness, truthfulness, honesty (E), which are the indispensable bases of civil society. I am sure I have no need to remind you that, while a Jew was forbidden by his law to take usury—i.e., interest for the loan of money—from his brother, if he were waxen poor and fallen into decay with him, and this generous provision was extended even to strangers and sojourners in the land (Lev. xxv. 35-38), and the interesting story in Nehemiah (v. 1-13), tells us how this principle was recognized in the latest days of the commonwealth—still in that old law there is no denunciation of usury in general, and it was expressly permitted in the case of ordinary strangers[126] (Deut. xxiii. 20).

It seems to me plain also that our Blessed Lord's precept about "lending, hoping for nothing again" (Luke vi. 35), has the same, or a similar, class of circumstances in view, and was intended simply to govern a Christian man's conduct to the poor and needy, and "such as have no helper," and cannot, without a violent twist (F), be construed into a general law determining forever and in all cases the legitimate use of capital. Indeed, on another occasion, and in a very memorable parable, the great Founder of Christianity recognizes, and impliedly sanctions, the practice of lending money at interest. "Thou oughtest," says the master, addressing his[Pg 317] unprofitable servant, "thou oughtest"—εδει σε—"to have put my money to the exchangers; and then, at my coming, I should have received mine own with usury."

151. "St. Paul, no doubt, denounces the covetous." (G) But who is the πλεονἑκτης? Not the man who may happen to have money out on loan at a fair rate of interest; but, as Liddell and Scott give the meaning of the word, "one who has or claims more than his share; hence, greedy, grasping, selfish." Of such men, whose affections are wholly set on things of the earth, and who are not very scrupulous how they gratify them, it may, perhaps, not improperly be said (H) that they "have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." But here, again, it would be a manifest "wresting" of the words to make them apply to a case which we have no proof that the Apostle had in contemplation when he uttered them. Rapacity, greed of gain, harsh and oppressive dealing, taking unfair advantage of our own superior knowledge and another's ignorance, shutting up the bowels of compassion towards a brother who we see has need—all these and the like things are forbidden by the very spirit of Christianity, and are manifestly "not according to the will of God," for they are all of them forms of injustice or wrong. But money may be lent at interest without one of these bad passions being brought in to play, and in these cases I confess my inability to see where, either in terms or in spirit, such use of money is condemned either by the Christian code of charity, or by that natural law of conscience which we are told (I) is written on the hearts of men.

152. Let me take two or three simple instances by way of illustration. The following has happened to myself. All my life through—from the time when my income was not a tenth part of what it is now—I have felt it a duty, while endeavoring to discharge all proper claims, to live within that income, so to adjust my expenditure to it that there should be a margin on the right side. This margin, of course, accumulated, and reached in time, say, £1000. Just then, say, the London and North-Western Railway Company proposed[Pg 318] to issue Debenture Stock, bearing four per cent. interest, for the purpose of extending the communications, and so increasing the wealth, of the country. Whom in the world am I injuring—what conceivable wrong am I doing—where or how am I thwarting "the Will of God"—if I let the Company have my £1000, and have been receiving from them £40 a year for the use of it ever since? Unless the money had been forthcoming from some quarter or other, a work which was absolutely necessary for the prosperity of the nation, and which finds remunerative employment (K) for an immense number of Englishmen, enabling them to bring up their families in respectability and comfort, would never have been accomplished. Will you tell me that this method of carrying out great commercial enterprises, sanctioned by experience (L) as the most, if not the only, practicable one, is "not according to the Will of God"?

153. Take another instance. In Lancashire a large number of cotton mills have been erected on the joint-stock principle with limited liability. The thing has been pushed too far probably, and at one time there was a good deal of unwholesome speculation in floating companies. But that is not the question before us; and the enterprises gave working men an opportunity of investing their savings, which was a great stimulus to thrift, and, so far, an advantage to the country. In a mill, which it would perhaps cost £50,000 to build and fit with machinery, the subscribed capital, which would be entitled to a division of profits after all other demands had been satisfied, would not amount probably to more than £20,000. The rest would be borrowed at rates of interest varying according to the conditions of the market. You surely would not maintain that those who lent their money for such a purpose, and were content with 5 or 6 per cent, for the use of it, thus enabling, in good times, the shareholders to realize 20 or 25 per cent, on their subscribed capital, were doing wrong either to the shareholders or anyone else, or could in any sense be charged with acting "not according to the will of God"?

154. Take yet one case more. A farmer asks his landlord[Pg 319] to drain his land. "Gladly," says his squire, "if you will pay me five per cent on the outlay." In other words, "if you will let me share the increased profits to this extent." The bargain is agreeable to both sides; the productiveness of the land is largely increased; who is wronged? Surely such a transaction could not fairly be described as "not according to the will of God"; surely, unless the commerce and productive industries of the country are to be destroyed, and, with the destruction, its population is to be reduced to what it was in the days of Elizabeth, these and similar transactions—which can be kept entirely clear of the sin of covetousness, and rest upon the well-understood basis of mutual advantage, each and all being gainers by them—are not only legitimate, but inevitable (M). And now that I have taken up your challenge, and, so far as my ability goes, answered it, may I, without staying to inquire how far your charge against the clergy can be substantiated, that they "generally patronize and encourage all the iniquity of the world by steadily preaching away the penalties of it" (N), be at least allowed to demur to your wholesale denunciation of the great cities of the earth, which you say "have become loathsome centers of fornication and covetousness, the smoke of their sin going up into the face of Heaven, like the furnace of Sodom, and the pollution of it rotting and raging through the bones and souls of the peasant people round them, as if they were each a volcano, whose ashes brake out in blains upon man and beast."[127] Surely, Sir, your righteous indignation at evil has caused you to overcharge your language. No one can have lived in a great city, as I have for the last ten years, without being aware of its sins and its pollutions. But unless you can prevent the aggregation of human beings into great cities, these are evils which must necessarily exist; at any rate, which always have existed. The great cities of to-day are not worse than great cities always have been (O). In one capital respect, I believe they are better. There is an increasing number of their citizens who are aware of these evils, and who are trying their[Pg 320] best, with the help of God, to remedy them. In Sodom there was but one righteous man who "vexed his soul" at the unlawful deeds that he witnessed day by day, on every side; and he, apparently, did no more than vex his soul. In Manchester, the men and women, of all ranks and persuasions, who are actively engaging in some Christian or philanthropic work, to battle against these gigantic evils, are to be reckoned by hundreds. Nowhere have I seen more conspicuous instances of Christian effort, and of single-hearted devotion to the highest interests of mankind. And though, no doubt, if these efforts were better organized, more might be achieved, and elements, which one could wish absent, sometimes mingle with and mar the work, still a great city, even "with the smoke of its sin going up into the face of Heaven," is the noblest field of the noblest virtues, because it gives the amplest scope for the most varied exercise of them.

If you will teach us clergy how better to discharge our office as ministers of a Kingdom of Truth and Righteousness, we shall all owe you a deep debt of gratitude; which no one will be more forward to acknowledge than, my dear Sir, yours faithfully and with much respect,

J. Manchester.

John Ruskin, Esq.

155. The foregoing letter, to which I would fain have given my undivided and unwearied attention, reached my hands, as will be seen by its date, only in the close of the year, when my general correspondence always far overpasses my powers of dealing with it, and my strength—such as now is left me—had been spent, nearly to lowest ebb, in totally unexpected business arising out of the threatened mischief at Venice. But I am content that such fragmentary reply as, under this pressure, has been possible to me, should close the debate as far as I am myself concerned. The question at issue is not one of private interpretation; and the interests concerned are too vast to allow its decision to be long delayed.

The Bishop will, I trust, not attribute to disrespect the mode of reply in the form of notes attached to special pas[Pg 321]sages, indicated by inserted letters, which was adopted in Fors Clavigera in all cases of important correspondence, as more clearly defining the several points under debate.

156. (A) "The challenge appears to have been delivered." May I respectfully express my regret that your lordship should not have read the letter you have honored me by answering. The number of Fors referred to does not deliver—it only reiterates—the challenge given in the Fors for January 1st, 1875, with reference to the prayer "Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, infidels, and heretics, and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to Thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites," in these following terms: "Who are the true Israelites, my Lord of Manchester, on your Exchange? Do they stretch their cloth, like other people?—have they any underhand dealings with the liable-to-be-damned false Israelites—Rothschilds and the like? or are they duly solicitous about those wanderers' souls? and how often, on the average, do your Manchester clergy preach from the delicious parable, savoriest of all Scripture to rogues (at least since the eleventh century, when I find it to have been specially headed with golden title in my best Greek MS.) of the Pharisee and Publican,—and how often, on the average, from those objectionable First and Fifteenth Psalms?"

(B) "I have no idea why I had the honor of being specially mentioned by name." By diocese, my Lord; not name, please observe; and for this very simple reason: that I have already fairly accurate knowledge of the divinity of the old schools of Canterbury, York, and Oxford; but I looked to your Lordship as the authoritative exponent of the more advanced divinity of the school of Manchester, with which I am not yet familiar.

157. (C) "What do you mean by usury?" What I mean by that word, my Lord, is surely of no consequence to anyone but my few readers, and fewer disciples. What David and his Son meant by it I have prayed your Lordship to tell your flock, in the name of the Church which dictates[Pg 322] daily to them the songs of the one, and professes to interpret to them the commands of the other.

And although I can easily conceive that a Bishop at the court of the Third Richard might have paused in reply to a too curious layman's question of what was meant by "Murder"; and can also conceive a Bishop at the court of the Second Charles hesitating as to the significance of the word "Adultery"; and farther, in the present climacteric of the British Constitution, an elder of the Church of Glasgow debating within himself whether the Commandment which was severely prohibitory of Theft might not be mildly permissive of Misappropriation;—at no time, nor under any conditions, can I conceive any question existing as to the meaning of the words τοκος, fœnus; usura, or usury: and I trust that your Lordship will at once acquit me of wishing to attach any other significance to the word than that which it was to the full intended to convey on every occasion of its use by Moses, by David, by Christ, and by the Doctors of the Christian Church, down to the seventeenth century.

Nor, even since that date, although the commercial phrase "interest" has been adopted in order to distinguish an open and unoppressive rate of usury from a surreptitious and tyrannical one, has the debate of lawfulness or unlawfulness ever turned seriously on that distinction. It is neither justified by its defenders only in its mildness, nor condemned by its accusers only in its severity. Usury in any degree is asserted by the Doctors of the early Church to be sinful, just as theft and adultery are asserted to be sinful, though neither may have been accompanied with violence; and although the theft may have been on the most splendid scale, and the fornication of the most courtly refinement.

So also, in modern days, though the voice of the Bank of England in Parliament declares a loan without interest to be a monster,[128] and a loan made below the current rate of interest, a monster in its degree, the increase of dividends above that[Pg 323] current rate is not, as far as I am aware, shunned by shareholders with an equally religious horror.

158. But—this strange question being asked—I give its simple and broad answer in the words of Christ: "The taking up that thou layedst not down;"—or, in explained and literal terms, usury is any money paid, or other advantage given, for the loan of anything which is restored to its possessor uninjured and undiminished. For simplest instance, taking a cabman the other day on a long drive, I lent him a shilling to get his dinner. If I had kept thirteen pence out of his fare, the odd penny would have been usury.

Or again. I lent one of my servants, a few years ago, eleven hundred pounds, to build a house with, and stock its ground. After some years he paid me the eleven hundred pounds back. If I had taken eleven hundred pounds and a penny, the extra penny would have been usury.

I do not know whether by the phrase, presently after used by your Lordship, "religious sanctions," I am to understand the Law of God which David loved, and Christ fulfilled, or whether the splendor, the commercial prosperity, and the familiar acquaintance with all the secrets of science and treasures of art, which we admire in the City of Manchester, must in your Lordship's view be considered as "cases" which the intelligence of the Divine Lawgiver could not have originally contemplated. Without attempting to disguise the narrowness of the horizon grasped by the glance of the Lord from Sinai, nor the inconvenience of the commandments which Christ has directed those who love Him to keep, am I too troublesome or too exigent in asking from one of those whom the Holy Ghost has made our overseers, at least a distinct chart of the Old World as contemplated by the Almighty; and a clear definition of even the inappropriate tenor of the orders of Christ: if only that the modern scientific Churchman may triumph more securely in the circumference of his heavenly vision, and accept more gratefully the glorious liberty of the free-thinking children of God?

159. To take a definite, and not impertinent, instance, I[Pg 324] observe in the continuing portion of your letter that your Lordship recognizes in Christ Himself, as doubtless all other human perfections, so also the perfection of an usurer; and that, confidently expecting one day to hear from His lips the convicting sentence, "Thou knewest that I was an austere man," your Lordship prepares for yourself, by the disposition of your capital no less than of your talents, a better answer than the barren, "Behold, there thou hast that is thine!" I would only observe in reply, that although the conception of the Good Shepherd, which in your Lordship's language is "implied" in this parable, may indeed be less that of one who lays down his life for his sheep, than of one who takes up his money for them, the passages of our Master's instruction, of which the meaning is not implicit, but explicit, are perhaps those which His simpler disciples will be safer in following. Of which I find, early in His teaching, this, almost, as it were, in words of one syllable: "Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away."

There is nothing more "implied" in this sentence than the probable disposition to turn away, which might be the first impulse in the mind of a Christian asked to lend for nothing, as distinguished from the disciple of the Manchester school, whose principal care is rather to find, than to avoid, the enthusiastic and enterprising "him that would borrow of thee." We of the older tradition, my Lord, think that prudence, no less than charity, forbids the provocation or temptation of others into the state of debt, which some time or other we might be called upon, not only to allow the payment of without usury, but even altogether to forgive.

160. (D) "Just as we are told." Where, my Lord, and by whom? It is possible that some of the schemers in physical science, of whom, only a few days since, I heard one of the leading doctors explain to a pleased audience that serpents once had legs, and had dropped them off in the process of development, may have advised the modern disciple of progress of a new meaning in the simple phrase, "upon thy belly shalt[Pg 325] thou go"; and that the wisdom of the serpent may henceforth consist, for true believers of the scientific Gospel, in the providing of meats for that spiritual organ of motion. It is doubtless also true that we shall look vainly among the sayings of Solomon for any expression of the opinions of Mr. John Stuart Mill; but at least this much of Natural science, enough for our highest need, we may find in the Scriptures—that by the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth;—and this much of Political, that the Blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich—and He addeth no sorrow with it.

(E) "What I do expect to find." Has your Lordship no expectations loftier than these, from severer scrutiny of the Gospel? As for instance, of some ordinance of Love, built on the foundation of Honesty?

161. (F) "Cannot without a violent twist." I have never myself found any person sincerely desirous of obeying the Word of the Lord, who had the least wish, or occasion, to twist it; nay, even those who study it only that they may discover methods of pardonable disobedience, recognize the unturnable edge of its sword—and in the worst extremity of their need, strive not to avert, but to evade. The utmost deceivableness of unrighteousness cannot deceive itself into satisfactory misinterpretation; it is reduced always to a tremulous omission of the texts it is resolved to disobey. But a little while since, I heard an entirely well-meaning clergyman, taken by surprise in the course of family worship in the house of a wealthy friend, and finding himself under the painful necessity of reading the fifteenth Psalm, omit the first sentence of the closing verse. I chanced afterwards to have an opportunity of asking him why he had done so, and received for answer, that the lowliness of Christian attainment was not yet "up" to that verse. The harmonies of iniquity are thus curiously perfect:—the economies of spiritual nourishment approve the same methods of adulteration which are found profitable in the carnal; until the prudent pastor follows the example of the well-instructed dairyman; and pro[Pg 326]vides for his new-born babes the insincere Milk of the Word, that they may not grow thereby.

162. (G) "St. Paul, no doubt, denounces the covetous." Am I to understand your Lordship as considering this undeniable denunciation an original and peculiar view taken by the least of the Apostles—perhaps, in this particular opinion, not worthy to be called an Apostle? The traditions of my earlier days were wont to refer me to an earlier source of the idea; which does not, however, appear to have occurred to your Lordship's mind—else the reference to the authority of Liddell and Scott, for the significance of the noun πλεονἑκτης, ought to have been made also for that of the verb επιθυμἑω. And your Lordship's frankness in referring me to the instances of your own practice in the disposal of your income, must plead my excuse for what might have otherwise seemed impertinent—in noting that the blamelessness of episcopal character, even by that least of the Apostles, required in his first Epistle to Timothy, consists not merely in contentment with an episcopal share of Church property, but in being in no respect either αισχροκορδἡς—a taker of gain in a base or vulgar manner, or φιλἁργυρος—a "lover of silver," this latter word being the common and proper word for covetous, in the Gospels and Epistles; as of the Pharisees in Luke xvi. 14; and associated with the other characters of men in perilous times, 2 Timothy iii. 2, and its relative noun φιλαργαρἱα, given in sum for the root of all evil in 2 Timothy vi. 10, while even the authority of Liddell and Scott in the interpretation of πλεονεξἱα itself as only the desire of getting more than our share, may perhaps be bettered by the authority of the teacher, who, declining the appeal made to him as an equitable μεριστἡς (Luke xii. 14-46), tells his disciples to beware of coveteousness, simply as the desire of getting more than we have got. "For a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth."

163. Believe me, my Lord, it is not without some difficulty that I check my natural impulse to follow you, as a scholar, into the interesting analysis of the distinctions which may be[Pg 327] drawn between Rapacity and Acquisitiveness; between the Avarice, or the prudent care, of possession; between the greed, and the modest expectation, of gain; between the love of money, which is the root of all evil; and the commercial spirit, which is in England held to be the fountain of all good. These delicate adjustments of the balance, by which we strive to weigh to a grain the relative quantities of devotion which we may render in the service of Mammon and of God, are wholly of recent invention and application; nor have they the slightest bearing, either on the spiritual purport of the final commandment of the Decalogue, or on the distinctness of the subsequent prohibition of practical usury.

It must be remembered, also, how difficult it has become to define the term "filthy" with precision, in the present state, moral and physical, of the English atmosphere; and still more so, to judge how far, in that healthy element, a moderate and delicately sanctified appetite for gold may be developed into livelier qualms of hunger for righteousness. It may be matter of private opinion how far the lucre derived by your Lordship from commission on the fares and refreshments of the passengers by the North-Western may be odoriferous or precious, in the same sense as the ointment on the head of Aaron; or how far that received by the Primate of England in royalties on the circulation of improving literature[129] may enrich—as with perfumes out of broken alabaster—the empyreal air of Addington. But the higher class of laborers in the Lord's vineyard might surely, with true grace, receive, from the last unto the first, the reflected instruction so often given by the first unto the last, "Be content with your wages."

(H) "It may, perhaps, not improperly be said," The Bible Society will doubtless in future gratefully prefix this guarantee to their publications.

(I) "Which we are told." Can we then no more find for ourselves this writing on our hearts—or has it ceased to be legible?[Pg 328]

164. (K) "Remunerative employment." I cannot easily express the astonishment with which I find a man of your Lordship's intelligence taking up the common phrase of "giving employment," as if, indeed, labor were the best gift which the rich could bestow on the poor. Of course, every idle vagabond, be he rich or poor, "gives employment" to some otherwise enough burdened wretch, to provide his dinner and clothes for him; and every vicious vagabond, in the destructive power of his vice, gives sorrowful occupation to the energies of resisting and renovating virtue. The idle child who litters its nursery and tears its frock, gives employment to the housemaid and seamstress; the idle woman, who litters her drawing-room with trinkets, and is ashamed to be seen twice in the same dress, is, in your Lordship's view, the enlightened supporter of the arts and manufactures of her country. At the close of your letter, my Lord, you, though in measured terms, indignantly dissent from my statement of the power of great cities for evil, and indeed I have perhaps been led, by my prolonged study of the causes of the Fall of Venice, into clearer recognition of some of these urban influences than may have been possible to your Lordship in the center of the virtues and proprieties which have been blessed by Providence in the rise of Manchester. But the Scriptural symbol of the power of temptation in the hand of the spiritual Babylon—"all kings have been drunk with the wine of her Fornication"—is perfectly literal in its exposition of the special influence of cities over a vicious, that is to say, a declining, people. They are the foci of its fornication, and the practical meaning is that the lords of the soil take the food and labor of the peasants, who are their slaves, and spend them especially in forms of luxury perfected by the definitely so-called "women of the town" who, whether East-cheap Doll, or West—much the reverse of cheap—Nell, are, both in the color which they give to the Arts, and in the tone which they give to the Manners, of the State, a literal plague, pestilence and burden to it, quite otherwise malignant and maleficent than the poor country lassie who loses her snood among the heather.[Pg 329] And when, at last, real political economy shall exhibit the exact sources and consequences of the expenditure of the great capitals of civilization on their own indulgences, your Lordship will be furnished, in the statistics of their most splendid and most impious pleasure, with record of precisely the largest existing source of "remunerative employment"—(if that were all the poor had to ask for), next after the preparation and practice of war. I believe it is, indeed, probable that "facility of intercourse" gives the next largest quantity of occupation; and, as your Lordship rightly observes, to most respectable persons. And if the entire population of Manchester lost the use of its legs, your Lordship would similarly have the satisfaction of observing, and might share in the profits of providing, the needful machinery of porterage and stretchers. But observe, my Lord—and observe as a final and inevitable truth—that whether you lend your money to provide an invalided population with crutches, stretchers, hearses, or the railroad accommodation which is so often synonymous with the three, the tax on the use of these, which constitutes the shareholder's dividend, is a permanent burden upon them, exacted by avarice, and by no means an aid granted by benevolence.

165. (L) "Sanctioned by experience." The experience of twenty-three years, my Lord, and with the following result:—

"We have now had an opportunity of practically testing the theory. Not more than seventeen" (now twenty-three—I quote from a letter dated 1875) "years have passed since" (by the final abolition of the Usury laws) "all restraint was removed from the growth of what Lord Coke calls 'this pestilent weed,'" and we see Bacon's words verified—"the rich becoming richer, and the poor poorer, throughout the civilized world." Letter from Mr. R. Sillar, quoted in Fors Clavigera, No. 43.

(M) "Inevitable." Neither "impossible" nor "inevitable" were words of old Christian Faith. But see the closing paragraph of my letter.

(N) Before you call on me to substantiate this charge, my[Pg 330] Lord, I should like to insert after the words, "steadily preaching," the phrase, "and politely explaining"—with the Pauline qualification, "whether by word, or our epistle."

166. (O) "The great cities of to-day are not worse than great cities always have been," I do not remember having said that they were, my Lord; I have never anticipated for Manchester a worse fate than that of Sardis or Sodom; nor have I yet observed any so mighty works shown forth in her by her ministers, as to make her impenitence less pardonable than that of Sidon or Tyre. But I used the particular expression which your Lordship supposes me to have overcharged in righteous indignation, "a boil breaking forth with blains on man and beast," because that particular plague was the one which Moses was ordered, in the Eternal Wisdom, to connect with the ashes of the Furnace—literally, no less than spiritually, when he brought the Israelites forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the Furnace of Iron. How literally, no less than in faith and hope, the smoke of "the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt," has poisoned the earth, the waters, and the living creatures, flocks and herds, and the babes that know not their right hand from their left—neither Memphis, Gomorrah, nor Cahors are themselves likely to recognize: but, as I pause in front of the infinitude of the evil that I cannot find so much as thought to follow—how much less words to speak!—a letter is brought to me which gives what perhaps may be more impressive in its single and historical example, than all the general evidence gathered already in the pages of Fors Clavigera.

167. "I could never understand formerly what you meant about usury, and about its being wrong to take interest. I said, truly, then that I 'trusted you,' meaning I knew that in such matters you did not 'opine'—and that innumerable things were within your horizon which had no place within mine.

"But as I did not understand I could only watch and ponder. Gradually I came to see a little—as when I read[Pg 331] current facts about India—about almost every country, and about our own trade, etc. Then (one of several circumstances that could be seen more closely) among my mother's kindred in the north, I watched the ruin of two lives. They began married life together, with good prospects and sufficient means, in a lovely little nest among the hills, beyond the Rochdale smoke. Soon this became too narrow. 'A splendid trade,' more mills, frequent changes into even finer dwellings, luxurious living, ostentation, extravagance, increasing year by year, all, as now appears, made possible by usury—borrowed capital. The wife was laid in her grave lately, and her friends are thankful. The husband, with ruin threatening his affairs, is in a worse, and living, grave of evil habits."

"These are some of the loopholes through which light has fallen upon your words, giving them a new meaning, and making me wonder how I could have missed seeing it from the first. Once alive to it, I recognize the evil on all sides, and how we are entangled by it; and though I am still puzzled at one or two points, I am very clear about the principle—that usury is a deadly thing,"

Yes; and deadly always with the vilest forms of destruction both to soul and body.

168. It happens strangely, my Lord, that although throughout the seven volumes of Fors Clavigera, I never have set down a sentence without chastising it first into terms which could be literally as well as in their widest bearing justified against all controversy, you could perhaps not have found in the whole book, had your Lordship read it for the purpose, any saying quite so literally and terrifically demonstrable as this which you have chanced to select for attack. For, in the first place, of all the calamities which in their apparently merciless infliction paralyzed the wavering faith of mediæval Christendom, the "boil breaking forth into blains," in the black plagues of Florence and London, was the fatalest messenger of the fiends: and, in the second place, the broad result of the Missionary labors of the cities of Madrid, Paris, and[Pg 332] London, for the salvation of the wild tribes of the New World, since the vaunted discovery of it, may be summed in the stem sentence—Death, by drunkenness and smallpox.

The beneficent influence of recent commercial enterprise in the communication of such divine grace, and divine blessing (not to speak of other more dreadful and shameful conditions of disease), may be studied to best advantage in the history of the two great French and English Companies, who have enjoyed the monopoly of clothing the nakedness of the Old World with coats of skins from the New.

The charter of the English one, obtained from the Crown in 1670, was in the language of modern Liberalism—" wonderfully liberal,"[130] comprising not only the grant of the exclusive trade, but also of full territorial possession, to all perpetuity, of the vast lands within the watershed of Hudson's Bay. The Company at once established some forts along the shores of the great inland sea from which it derived its name, and opened a very lucrative trade with the Indians, so that it never ceased paying rich dividends to the fortunate shareholders, until towards the close of the last century.

Up to this time, with the exception of the voyage of discovery which Herne (1770-71) made under its auspices to the mouth of the Coppermine River, it had done but little for the promotion of geographical discovery in its vast territory.

169. Meanwhile, the Canadian (French) fur traders had become so hateful to the Indians, that these savages formed a conspiracy for their total extirpation. Fortunately for the white men, the smallpox broke out about this time among the redskins, and swept them away as the fire consumes the parched grass of the prairies. Their unburied corpses were torn by the wolves and wild dogs, and the survivors were too weak and dispirited to be able to undertake anything against the foreign intruders. The Canadian fur traders now also saw the necessity of combining their efforts for their mutual benefit, instead of ruining each other by an insane competition; and consequently formed in 1783 a society which, under[Pg 333] the name of the North-West Company of Canada, ruled over the whole continent from the Canadian lakes to the Rocky Mountains, and in 1806 it even crossed the barrier and established its forts on the northern tributaries of the Columbia river. To the north it likewise extended its operations, encroaching more and more upon the privileges of the Hudson's Bay Company, which, roused to energy, now also pushed on its posts further and further into the interior, and established, in 1812, a colony on the Red River to the south of Winnipeg Lake, thus driving, as it were, a sharp thorn into the side of its rival. But a power like the North-West Company, which had no less than 50 agents, 70 interpreters, and 1120 "voyageurs" in its pay, and whose chief managers used to appear at their annual meetings at Fort William, on the banks of Lake Superior, with all the pomp and pride of feudal barons, was not inclined to tolerate this encroachment; and thus, after many quarrels, a regular war broke out between the two parties, which, after two years' duration, led to the expulsion of the Red River colonists, and the murder of their governor Semple. This event took place in the year 1816, and is but one episode of the bloody feuds which continued to reign between the two rival Companies until 1821.

170. The dissension's of the fur traders had most deplorable consequences for the redskins; for both Companies, to swell the number of their adherents, lavishly distributed spirituous liquors—a temptation which no Indian can resist. The whole of the meeting-grounds of the Saskatchewan and Athabasca were but one scene of revelry and bloodshed. Already decimated by the smallpox, the Indians now became the victims of drunkenness and discord, and it was to be feared that if the war and its consequent demoralization continued, the most important tribes would soon be utterly swept away.

At length wisdom prevailed over passion, and the enemies came to a resolution which, if taken from the very beginning, would have saved them both a great deal of treasure and many crimes. Instead of continuing to swing the tomahawk, they now smoked the calumet, and amalgamated in 1821, under[Pg 334] the name of "Hudson's Bay Company," and under the wing of the Charter.

The British Government, as a dowry to the impoverished couple, presented them with a license of exclusive trade throughout the whole of that territory which, under the name of the "Hudson's Bay and North-West territories," extends from Labrador to the Pacific, and from the Red River to the Polar Ocean.

171. Such, my Lord, have been the triumphs of the modern Evangel of Usury, Competition, and Private Enterprise, in a perfectly clear instance of their action, chosen I hope with sufficient candor, since "History," says Professor Hind, "does not furnish another example of an association of private individuals exerting a powerful influence over so large an extent of the earth's surface and administering their affairs with such consummate skill, and unwavering devotion to the original objects of their incorporation."

That original object being, of course, that poor naked America, having yet in a manner two coats, might be induced by these Christian merchants to give to him that had none?

In like manner, may any Christian householder, who has two houses or perchance two parks, ever be induced to give to him that hath none? My temper and my courtesy scarcely serve me, my Lord, to reply to your assertion of the "inevitableness" that, while half of Great Britain is laid out in hunting-grounds for sport more savage than the Indians, the poor of our cities must be swept into incestuous heaps; or into dens and caves which are only tombs disquieted, so changing the whiteness of Jewish sepulchers into the blackness of Christian ones, in which the hearts of the rich and the homes of the poor are alike as graves that appear not;—only their murmur, that sayeth "it is not enough," sounds deeper beneath us every hour; nay, the whole earth, and not only the cities of it, sends forth that ghastly cry; and her fruitful plains have become slime-pits, and her fair estuaries, gulfs of death; for us, the Mountain of the Lord has become only Golgotha, and the sound of the new song before the Throne is[Pg 335] drowned in the rolling death-rattle of the nations, "Oh Christ; where is thy victory?"

These are thy glorious works, Mammon parent of Good,—and this the true debate, my Lord of Manchester, between the two Angels of your Church,—whether the "Dreamland" of its souls be now, or hereafter,—now, the firelight in the cave, or hereafter, the sunlight of Heaven.

172. How, my Lord, am I to receive, or reply to, the narrow concessions of your closing sentence? The Spirit of Truth was breathed even from the Athenian Acropolis, and the Law of Justice thundered even from the Cretan Sinai; but for us, He who said, "I am the Truth," said also, "I am the Way, and the Life;" and for us, He who reasoned of Righteousness, reasoned also of Temperance and Judgment to come. Is this the sincere milk of the Word, which takes the hope from the Person of Christ, and the fear from the charge of His apostle, and forbids to English heroism the perilous vision of Immortality? God be with you, my Lord, and exalt your teaching to that quality of Mercy which, distilling as the rain from Heaven—not strained as through channels from a sullen reservoir-may soften the hearts of your people to receive the New Commandment, that they Love one another. So, round the cathedral of your city, shall the merchant's law be just, and his weights true; the table of the money-changer not overthrown, and the bench of the money-lender unbroken.

And to as many as walk according to this rule, Peace shall be on them, and Mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

173. With the preceding letter must assuredly end—for the present, if not forever—my own notes on a subject of which my strength no longer serves me to endure the stress and sorrow; but I may possibly be able to collect, eventually, into more close form, the already manifold and sufficient references scattered through Fors Clavigera: and perhaps to reprint for the St. George's Guild the admirable compendium of British ecclesiastical and lay authority on the subject,[Pg 336] collected by John Blaxton, preacher of God's Word at Osmington in Dorsetshire, printed by John Norton under the title of "The English Usurer," and sold by Francis Bowman, in Oxford, 1631. A still more precious record of the fierce struggle of usury into life among Christians, and of the resistance to it by Venice and her "Anthony,"[131] will be found in the dialogue "della Usura," of Messer Speron Sperone (Aldus, in Vinegia, MDXIII.), followed by the dialogue "del Cathaio," between "Portia, sola, e fanciulla, fame, e cibo, vita, e morte, di ciascuno che la conosce," and her lover Moresini, which is the source of all that is loveliest in the Merchant of Venice. Readers who seek more modern and more scientific instruction may consult the able abstract of the triumph of usury, drawn up by Dr. Andrew Dickson White, President of Cornell University ("The Warfare of Science," H. S. King & Co., 1877), in which the victory of the great modern scientific principle, that two and two make five, is traced exultingly to the final overthrow of St. Chrysostom, St. Jerome, St. Bernard, St. Thomas Aquinas, Luther, and Bossuet, by "the establishment of the Torlonia family in Rome." A better collection of the most crushing evidence cannot be found than this, furnished by an adversary; a less petulant and pompous, but more earnest voice from America, "Usury the Giant Sin of the Age," by Edward Palmer (Perth Amboys, 1865), should be read together with it. In the meantime, the substance of the teaching of the former Church of England, in the great sermon against usury of Bishop Jewell, may perhaps not uselessly occupy one additional page of the Contemporary Review:[Pg 337]

174. "Usury is a kind of lending of money, or corne, or oyle, or wine, or of any other thing, wherein, upon covenant and bargaine, we receive againe the whole principall which we delivered, and somewhat more, for the use and occupying of the same; as if I lend 100 pound, and for it covenant to receive 105 pound, or any other summe, greater then was the summe which I did lend: this is that which we call usury: such a kind of bargaining as no good man, or godly man ever used. Such a kind of bargaining as all men that ever feared God's judgments have alwaies abhorred and condemned. It is filthy gaines, and a worke of darkenesse, it is a monster in nature: the overthrow of mighty kingdoms, the destruction of flourishing States, the decay of wealthy cities, the plagues of the world, and the misery of the people: it is theft, it is the murthering of our brethren, its the curse of God, and the curse of the people. This is Usury. By these signes and tokens you may know it. For wheresoever it raigneth all those mischiefes ensue.

"Whence springeth usury? Soone shewed. Even thence whence theft, murder, adultery, the plagues, and destruction of the people doe spring. All these are the workes of the divell, and the workes of the flesh. Christ telleth the Pharisees, You are of your father the divell, and the lusts of your father you will doe. Even so may it truely be sayd to the usurer, Thou art of thy father the divell, and the lusts of thy father thou wilt doe, and therefore thou hast pleasure in his workes. The divell entered into the heart of Judas, and put in him this greedinesse, and covetousnesse of game, for which he was content to sell his master. Judas's heart was the shop, the divell was the foreman to worke in it. They that will be rich fall into tentation and snares, and into many foolish and noysome lusts, which drowne men in perdition and destruction. For the desire of money is the roote of all evil. And St. John saith, Whosoever committeth sinne is of the Divell, 1 Joh. 3-8. Thus we see that the divell is the planter, and the father of usury.

"What are the fruits of usury? A. 1. It dissolveth the[Pg 338] knot and fellowship of mankind. 2. It hardeneth man's heart. 3. It maketh men unnaturall, and bereaveth them of charity, and love to their dearest friends. 4. It breedeth misery and provoketh the wrath of God from heaven. 5. It consumeth rich men, it eateth up the poore, it maketh bankrupts, and undoeth many householders. 6. The poore occupiers are driven to flee, their wives are left alone, their children are hopelesse, and driven to beg their bread, through the unmercifull dealing of the covetous usurer.

175. "He that is an usurer, wisheth that all others may lacke and come to him and borrow of him; that all others may lose, so that he may have gaine. Therefore our old forefathers so much abhorred this trade, that they thought an usurer unworthy to live in the company of Christian men. They suffered not an usurer to be witnesse in matters of Law. They suffer him not to make a Testament, and to bestow his goods by will. When an usurer dyed, they would not suffer him to be buried in places appointed for the buriall of Christians. So highly did they mislike this unmercifull spoyling and deceiving our brethren.

"But what speak I of the ancient Fathers of the Church? There was never any religion, nor sect, nor state, nor degree, nor profession of men, but they have disliked it. Philosophers, Greekes, Latins, lawyers, divines, Catholikes, heretics; all tongues and nations have ever thought an usurer as dangerous as a theefe. The very sense of nature proves it to be so. If the stones could speak they would say as much. But some will say all kindes of usury are not forbidden. There may be cases where usury may stand with reason and equity, and herein they say so much as by wit may be devised to paint out a foule and ugly idoll, and to shadow themselves in manifest and open wickednesse. Whatsoever God sayeth, yet this or this kind of usury, say they, which is done in this or this sort, is not forbidden. It proffiteth the Commonwealth, it relieveth great numbers, the poore should otherwise perish, none would lend them. By like good reason, there are some that defend theft and murder; they say, there may be[Pg 339] some case where it is lawful to kill or to steale; for God willed the Hebrews to rob the Ægyptians, and Abraham to kill his owne sonne Isaac. In these cases the robbery and the killing of his sonne were lawfull. So say they. Even so by the like reason doe some of our countrymen maintayne concubines, curtizans, and brothel-houses, and stand in defence of open stewes. They are (say they) for the benefit of the country, they keepe men from more dangerous inconveniences; take them away, it will be worse. Although God say, there shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, neither shall there be a whorekeeper of the sonnes of Israel: yet these men say all manner of whoredom is not forbidden. In these and these cases it is not amisse to alow it."

"As Samuel sayd to Saul, so may we say to the usurer, Thou hast devised cases and colours to hide thy shame, but what regard hath God to thy cases? What careth He for thy reasons? the Lord would have more pleasure, if when thou heareth His voyce thou wouldest obey Him. For what is thy device against the counsell, and ordinance of God? What bold presumption is it for a mortall man to controule the commandments of immortall God? And to weigh his heavenly wisdome in the ballance of humane foolishnesse? When God sayth, Thou shalt not take usury, what creature of God art thou which canst take usury? When God maketh it unlawfull, what art thou, oh man, that sayst, it is lawfull? This is a token of a desperate mind. It is found true in thee, that Paul sayd, the love of money is the root of all ill. Thou art so given over unto the wicked Mammon, that thou carest not to doe the will of God."

Thus far, the theology of Old England. Let it close with the calm law, spoken four hundred years before Christ, α μἡ κατἑθον, μἡ ανἑλη.[Pg 340]


[124] Contemporary Review, February 1880.

[125] See below (p. 393, § 236), in the eighth letter on the Lord's Prayer.—Ed.

[126] In Proverbs xxviii. 8, "usury" is coupled with "unjust gain," and a pitiless spirit towards the poor, which shows in what sense the word is to be understood there, and in such other passages as Ps. xv. 5 and Ezek. xviii. 8, 9.

[127] See post, p. 394, § 237.—Ed.

[128] Speech of Mr. J. C. Hubbard, M.P. for London, reported in Standard of 26th July, 1879.

[129] See the Articles of Association of the East Surrey Hall, Museum, and Library Company. (Fors Clavigera, Letter lxx.)

[130] "The Polar World," p. 342, Longmans, 1874.


"The dearest friend to me, the kindest man,
The best conditioned and unwearied spirit,
In doing courtesies; and one in whom
The ancient Roman honor more appears,
Than any that draws breath in Italy."

This is the Shakespearian description of that Anthony, whom the modern British public, with its new critical lights, calls a "sentimentalist and speculator!"—holding Shylock to be the real hero, and innocent victim of the drama.



176. In the wise, practical, and affectionate sermon, given from St. Mary's pulpit last autumn to the youth of Oxford, by the good Bishop of Carlisle, his Lordship took occasion to warn his eagerly attentive audience, with deep earnestness, against the crime of debt; dwelling with powerful invective on the cruelty and selfishness with which, too often, the son wasted in his follies the fruits of his father's labor, or the means of his family's subsistence; and involved himself in embarrassments which, said the Bishop, "I have again and again known to cause the misery of all subsequent life."

The sin was charged, the appeal pressed, only on the preacher's undergraduate hearers. Beneath the gallery, the Heads of Houses sate, remorseless; nor from the pulpit was a single hint permitted that any measures could be rationally taken for the protection, no less than the warning, of the youth under their care. No such suggestion would have been received, if even understood, by any English congregation of this time;—a strange and perilous time, in which the greatest commercial people of the world have been brought to think Usury the most honorable and fruitful branch, or rather perennial stem, of commercial industry.

177. But whose the fault that English congregations are in[Pg 341] this temper, and this ignorance? The saying of mine,[133] which the author of this book quotes in the close of his introduction, was written by me with a meaning altogether opposite, and far more forcible, than that which it might seem to bear to a careless interpreter.[134] In the present state of popular revolt against all conception and manner of authority, but more especially spiritual authority, the sentence reads as if it were written by an adversary of the Church,—a hater of its Prelacy,—an advocate of universal liberty of thought and license of crime: whereas the sentence is really written in the conviction (I might say knowledge, if I spoke without deference to the reader's incredulity) that the Pastoral Office must forever be the highest, for good or evil, in every Christian land; and that when it fails in vigilance, faith, or courage, the sheep must be scattered, and neither King nor law avail any more to protect them against the fury of their own passions, nor any human sagacity against the deception of their own hearts.

178. Since, however, these things are instantly so, and the Bishops of England have now with one accord consented to become merely the highly salaried vergers of her Cathedrals, taking care that the choristers do not play at leapfrog in the Churchyard, that the Precincts are elegantly iron-railed from the profane parts of the town, and that the doors of the building be duly locked, so that nobody may pray in it at improper times,—these things being so, may we not turn to the "every-man-his-own-Bishop" party, with its Bible Society, Missionary zeal, and right of infallible private interpretation, to ask at least for some small exposition to the inhabitants of their own country, of those Scriptures which they are so fain to put in the possession of others; and this the rather, because the popular familiar version of the New Testament among us, unwritten, seems to be now the exact contrary of that which we were once taught to be of Divine authority.[Pg 342]

179. I place, side by side, the ancient and modern versions of the seven verses of the New Testament which were the beginning, and are indeed the heads, of all the teaching of Christ:—


Blessed are the Poor in
Spirit, for their's is the
kingdom of Heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for
they shall inherit the

Blessed are they which do
hunger for righteousness,
for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for
they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God.

Blessed are the Peacemakers,
for they shall be called the
children of God.


Blessed are the Rich in
Flesh, for their's is the
kingdom of Earth.

Blessed are they that are
merry, and laugh the last.

Blessed are the proud, in that
they have inherited the

Blessed are they which hunger
for unrighteousness, in
that they shall divide its

Blessed are the merciless, for
they shall obtain money.

Blessed are the foul in heart,
for they shall see no God.

Blessed are the War-makers,
for they shall be adored by
the children of men.

180. Who are the true "Makers of War," the promoters and supports of it, I showed long since in the note to the brief sentence of "Unto this last." "It is entirely capitalists' (i.e., Usurers') wealth[135] which supports unjust Wars." But to what extent the adoration of the Usurer, and the slavery consequent upon it, has perverted the soul or bound the hands of every man in Europe, I will let the reader hear, from authority he will less doubt than mine:—

"Financiers are the mischievous feudalism of the 19th century. A handful of men have invented distant, seductive[Pg 343] loans, have introduced national debts in countries happily ignorant of them, have advanced money to unsophisticated Powers on ruinous terms, and then, by appealing to small investors all over the world, got rid of the bonds. Furthermore, with the difference between the advances and the sale of bonds, they caused a fall in the securities which they had issued, and, having sold at 80, they bought back at 10, taking advantage of the public panic. Again, with the money thus obtained, they bought up consciences, where consciences are marketable, and under the pretense of providing the country thus traded upon with new means of communication, they passed money into their own coffers. They have had pupils, imitators, and plagiarists; and at the present moment, under different names, the financiers rule the world, are a sore of society, and form one of the chief causes of modern crises.

"Unlike the Nile, wherever they pass they render the soil dry and barren. The treasures of the world flow into their cellars, and there remain. They spend one-tenth of their revenues; the remaining nine-tenths they hoard and divert from circulation. They distribute favors, and are great political leaders. They have not assumed the place of the old nobility, but have taken the latter into their service. Princes are their chamberlains, dukes open their doors, and marquises act as their equerries when they deign to ride.

"These new grandees canter on their splendid Arabs along Rotten Ron, the Bois de Boulogne, the Prospect, the Prater, or Unter den Linden. The shopkeepers, and all who save money, bow low to these men, who represent their savings, which they will never again see under any other form. Proof against sarcasms, sure of the respect of the Continental Press, protecting each other with a sort of freemasonry, the financiers dictate laws, determine the fate of nations, and render the cleverest political combinations abortive. They are everywhere received and listened to, and all the Cabinets feel their influence. Governments watch them with uneasiness, and even the Iron Chancellor has his gilded Egeria, who reports to him the wishes of this the sole modern Autocrat"[Pg 344]Letter from Paris Correspondent, "Times," 30th January, 1885.

181. But to this statement, I must add the one made to § 149 (see note) of "Munera Pulveris," that if we could trace the innermost of all causes of modern war, they would be found, not in the avarice or ambition, but the idleness of the upper classes. "They have nothing to do but to teach the peasantry to kill each other"—while that the peasantry are thus teachable, is further again dependent on their not having been educated primarily in the common law of justice. See again "Munera Pulveris," Appendix I.: "Precisely according to the number of just men in a nation is their power of avoiding either intestine or foreign war."

I rejoice to see my old friend Mr. Sillar gathering finally together the evidence he has so industriously collected on the guilt of usury, and supporting it by the always impressive language of symbolical art;[136] for indeed I had myself no idea, till I read the connected statement which these pictures illustrate, how steadily the system of money-lending had gained on the nation, and how fatally every hand and foot was now entangled by it. Yet in commending the study of this book to every virtuous and patriotic Englishman, I must firmly remind the reader, that all these sins and errors are only the branches from one root of bitterness—mortal Pride. For this we gather, for this we war, for this we die—here and hereafter; while all the while the Wisdom which is from above stands vainly teaching us the way to Earthly Riches and to Heavenly Peace, "What doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

Brantwood, 7th March, 1885.
[Pg 345]


[132] Introduction to a pamphlet entitled "Usury and the English Bishops," or more fully, "Usury, its pernicious effects on English agriculture and commerce: An allegory dedicated without permission to the Bishops of Manchester, Peterborough and Rochester" (London: A. Southey, 146, Fenchurch Street, 1885). By R. J. Sillar. (See Fors Clavigera, vol. v. Letter 56.)—Ed.

[133] "Everything evil in Europe is primarily the fault of her Bishops."

[134] "I knew, in using it, perfectly well what you meant." (Note by Mr. Sillar.)

[135] "Cash," I should have said, in accuracy—not "wealth."

[136] Mr. Sillar's pamphlet consists of a collection of paragraphs, all condemnatory of usury, from the writings of the English bishops, from the sixteenth century down to the present time; and is illustrated by five emblematic woodcuts representing an oak tree (English commerce) gradually overgrown and destroyed by an ivy-plant (usury).—Ed.



(Pamphlet, 1851.)


(Letters and Epilogue, 1879-1881.)


(Contemporary Review, March 1873.)[Pg 347][Pg 346]



Many persons will probably find fault with me for publishing opinions which are not new: but I shall bear this blame contentedly, believing that opinions on this subject could hardly be just if they were not 1800 years old. Others will blame me for making proposals which are altogether new: to whom I would answer, that things in these days seem not so far right but that they may be mended. And others will simply call the opinions false and the proposals foolish—to whose goodwill, if they take it in hand to contradict me, I must leave what I have written—having no purpose of being drawn, at present, into religious controversy. If, however, any should admit the truth, but regret the tone of what I have said, lean only pray them to consider how much less harm is done in the world by ungraceful boldness, than by untimely fear.

Denmark Hill,
February, 1851.


Since the publication of these Notes, I have received many letters upon the affairs of the Church, from persons of nearly every denomination of Christians; for all these letters I am grateful, and in many of them I have found valuable information, or suggestion: but I have not leisure at present to follow out the subject farther; and no reason has been shown me for modifying or altering any part of the text as it stands. It is republished, therefore, without change or addition.

I must, however, especially thank one of my correspondents for sending me a pamphlet, called "Sectarianism, the Bane of Religion and[Pg 348] the Church,"[138] which I would recommend, in the strongest terms, to the reading of all who regard the cause of Christ; and, for help in reading the Scriptures, I would name also the short and admirable arrangement of parallel passages relating to the offices of the clergy, called "The Testimony of Scripture concerning the Christian Ministry."[139]


I have only to add to this first preface, that the boldness of the pamphlet,—ungraceful enough, it must be admitted,—has done no one any harm, that I know of; but on the contrary, some definite good, as far as I can judge; and that I republish the whole now, letter for letter, as originally printed, believing it likely to be still serviceable, and, on the ground it takes for argument, (Scriptural authority,) incontrovertible as far as it reaches; though it amazes me to find on re-reading it, that, so late as 1851, I had only got the length of perceiving the schism between sects of Protestants to be criminal, and ridiculous, while I still supposed the schism between Protestants and Catholics to be virtuous and sublime.

The most valuable part of the whole is the analysis of governments, §§ 213-15; the passages on Church discipline, §§ 204-5, being also anticipatory of much that I have to say in Fors, where I hope to re-assert the substance of this pamphlet on wider grounds, and with more modesty.

3rd August, 1875.
[Pg 349]


[137] This pamphlet was originally published in 1851, under the title of "Notes on the Construction of Sheepfolds," by John Ruskin, M.A., author of the "Seven Lamps of Architecture," etc. (Smith, Elder, & Co.). A second edition, with an additional preface, followed in the same year, after which the pamphlet remained out of print till 1875, when it was reprinted in a third, erroneously called a second, edition (George Allen, Sunnyside, Orpington, Kent).—Ed.

[138] London: 1846. Nisbet & Co., Berners Street.

[139] London: 1847. T. K. Campbell, 1, Warwick Square.



182. The following remarks were intended to form part of the appendix to an essay on Architecture: but it seemed to me, when I had put them into order, that they might be useful to persons who would not care to possess the work to which I proposed to attach them: I publish them, therefore, in a separate form; but I have not time to give them more consistency than they would have had in the subordinate position originally intended for them. I do not profess to teach Divinity, and I pray the reader to understand this, and to pardon the slightness and insufficiency of notes set down with no more intention of connected treatment of their subject than might regulate an accidental conversation. Some of them are simply copied from my private diary; others are detached statements of facts, which seem to me significative or valuable, without comment; all are written in haste, and in the intervals of occupation with an entirely different subject. It may be asked of me, whether I hold it right to speak thus hastily and insufficiently respecting the matter in question? Yes. I hold it right to speak hastily; not to think hastily. I have not thought hastily of these things; and, besides, the haste of speech is confessed, that the reader may think of me only as talking to him, and saying, as shortly and simply as I can, things which, if he esteem them foolish or idle, he is welcome to cast aside; but which, in very truth, I cannot help saying at this time.

183. The passages in the essay which required notes, described the repression of the political power of the Venetian Clergy by the Venetian Senate; and it became necessary for me—in supporting an assertion made in the course of the inquiry, that the idea of separation of Church and State was[Pg 350] both vain and impious—to limit the sense in which it seemed to me that the word "Church" should be understood, and to note one or two consequences which would result from the acceptance of such limitation. This I may as well do in a separate paper, readable by any person interested in the subject; for it is high time that some definition of the word should be agreed upon. I do not mean a definition involving the doctrine of this or that division of Christians, but limiting, in a manner understood by all of them, the sense in which the word should thenceforward be used. There is grievous inconvenience in the present state of things. For instance, in a sermon lately published at Oxford, by an anti-Tractarian divine, I find this sentence,—"It is clearly within the province of the State to establish a national church, or external institution of certain forms of worship." Now suppose one were to take this interpretation of the word "Church," given by an Oxford divine, and substitute it for the simple word in some Bible texts, as, for instance, "Unto the angel of the external institution of certain forms of worship of Ephesus, write," etc. Or, "Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the external institution of certain forms of worship which is in his house,"—what awkward results we should have, here and there! Now I do not say it is possible for men to agree with each other in their religious opinions, but it is certainly possible for them to agree with each other upon their religious expressions; and when a word occurs in the Bible a hundred and fourteen times, it is surely not asking too much of contending divines to let it stand in the sense in which it there occurs; and when they want an expression of something for which it does not stand in the Bible, to use some other word. There is no compromise of religious opinion in this; it is simply proper respect for the Queen's English.

184. The word occurs in the New Testament, as I said, a hundred and fourteen times.[140] In every one of those oc[Pg 351]currences, it bears one and the same grand sense: that of a congregation or assembly of men. But it bears this sense under four different modifications, giving four separate meanings to the word. These are—

I. The entire Multitude of the Elect; otherwise called the Body of Christ; and sometimes the Bride, the Lamb's Wife; including the Faithful in all ages;—Adam, and the children of Adam yet unborn.

In this sense it is used in Ephesians v. 25, 27, 32; Colossians i. 18; and several other passages.

II. The entire multitude of professing believers in Christ, existing on earth at a given moment; including false brethren, wolves in sheep's clothing, goats and tares, as well as sheep and wheat, and other forms of bad fish with good in the net.

In this sense it is used in 1 Cor. x. 32, xv. 9; Galatians i. 13; 1 Tim. iii. 5, etc.

III. The multitude of professed believers, living in a certain city, place, or house. This is the most frequent sense in which the word occurs, as in Acts vii. 38, xiii. 1; 1 Cor. i. 2, xvi. 19, etc.

IV. Any assembly of men: as in Acts xix. 32, 41.

185. That in a hundred and twelve out of the hundred and fourteen texts, the word bears some one of these four meanings, is indisputable.[141] But there are two texts in which, if the word had alone occurred, its meaning might have been doubtful. These are Matt. xvi. 18, and xviii. 17.

The absurdity of founding any doctrine upon the inexpressibly minute possibility that, in these two texts, the word might have been used with a different meaning from that which it bore in all the others, coupled with the assumption that the meaning was this or that, is self-evident: it is not so much a religious error as a philological solecism; unpar[Pg 352]alleled, so far as I know, in any other science but that of divinity.

Nor is it ever, I think, committed with open front by Protestants. No English divine, asked in a straightforward manner for a Scriptural definition of "the Church," would, I suppose, be bold enough to answer "the Clergy." Nor is there any harm in the common use of the word, so only that it be distinctly understood to be not the Scriptural one; and therefore to be unfit for substitution in a Scriptural text. There is no harm in a man's talking of his son's "going into the Church; "meaning that he is going to take orders: but there is much harm in his supposing this a Scriptural use of the word, and therefore, that when Christ said, "Tell it to the Church," He might possibly have meant, "Tell it to the Clergy."

186. It is time to put an end to the chance of such misunderstanding. Let it but be declared plainly by all men, when they begin to state their opinions on matters ecclesiastical, that they will use the word "Church" in one sense or the other;—that they will accept the sense in which it is used by the Apostles, or that they deny this sense, and propose a new definition of their own. We shall then know what we are about with them—we may perhaps grant them their new use of the term, and argue with them on that understanding; so only that they will not pretend to make use of Scriptural authority, while they refuse to employ Scriptural language. This, however, it is not my purpose to do at present. I desire only to address those who are willing to accept the Apostolic sense of the word Church; and with them, I would endeavor shortly to ascertain what consequences must follow from an acceptance of that Apostolic sense, and what must be our first and most necessary conclusions from the common language of Scripture[142] respecting these following points:[Pg 353]

(1) The distinctive characters of the Church,
(2) The Authority of the Church.
(3) The Authority of the Clergy over the Church.
(4) The Connection of the Church with the State.

187. These are four separate subjects of question; but we shall not have to put these questions in succession with each of the four Scriptural meanings of the word Church, for evidently its second and third meaning may be considered together, as merely expressing the general or particular conditions of the Visible Church, and the fourth signification is entirely independent of all questions of a religious kind. So that we shall only put the above inquiries successively respecting the Invisible and Visible Church; and as the two last—of authority of Clergy, and connection with State—can evidently only have reference to the Visible Church, we shall have, in all, these six questions to consider:—

(1) The distinctive characters of the Invisible Church.
(2) The distinctive characters of the Visible Church.
(3) The Authority of the Invisible Church.
(4) The Authority of the Visible Church,
(5) The Authority of Clergy over the Visible Church.
(6) The Connection of the Visible Church with the State.

188. (1) What are the distinctive characters of the Invisible Church? That is to say, What is it which makes a person a member of this Church, and how is he to be known for such? Wide question—if we had to take cognizance of all that has been written respecting it, remarkable as it has been always for quantity rather than carefulness, and full of confusion between Visible and Invisible: even the Article of the Church of England being ambiguous in its first clause: "The Visible Church is a congregation of Faithful men." As if ever it had been possible, except for God, to see Faith, or to know a Faithful man by sight! And there is little else written on this question, without some such quick confusion of the Visible and Invisible Church;—needless and unaccountable confusion. For evidently, the Church which is composed of Faithful men is the one true, indivisible, and indiscernible[Pg 354] Church, built on the foundation of Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone. It includes all who have ever fallen asleep in Christ, and all yet unborn, who are to be saved in Him: its Body is as yet imperfect; it will not be perfected till the last saved human spirit is gathered to its God.

A man becomes a member of this Church only by believing in Christ with all his heart; nor is he positively recognizable for a member of it, when he has become so, by any one but God, not even by himself. Nevertheless, there are certain signs by which Christ's sheep may be guessed at. Not by their being in any definite Fold—for many are lost sheep at times; but by their sheeplike behavior; and a great many are indeed sheep, which, on the far mountain side, in their peacefulness, we take for stones. To themselves, the best proof of their being Christ's sheep is to find themselves on Christ's shoulders; and, between them, there are certain sympathies (expressed in the Apostles' Creed by the term "communion of Saints"), by which they may in a sort recognize each other, and so become verily visible to each other for mutual comfort.

189. (2) The Limits of the Visible Church, or of the Church in the Second Scriptural Sense, are not so easy to define: they are awkward questions, these, of stake-nets. It has been ingeniously and plausibly endeavored to make Baptism a sign of admission into the Visible Church: but absurdly enough; for we know that half the baptized people in the world are very visible rogues, believing neither in God nor devil; and it is flat blasphemy to call these Visible Christians; we also know that the Holy Ghost was sometimes given before Baptism,[143] and it would be absurdity to call a man, on whom the Holy Ghost had fallen, an Invisible Christian. The only rational distinction is that which practically, though not professedly, we always assume. If we hear a man profess himself a believer in God and in Christ, and detect him in no glaring and willful violation of God's law, we speak of him as a Christian; and, on the other hand, if we hear him or see him denying Christ, either in his words or conduct, we[Pg 355] tacitly assume him not to be a Christian. A mawkish charity prevents us from outspeaking in this matter, and from earnestly endeavoring to discern who are Christians and who are not; and this I hold[144] to be one of the chief sins of the Church in the present day; for thus wicked men are put to no shame; and better men are encouraged in their failings, or caused to hesitate in their virtues, by the example of those whom, in false charity, they choose to call Christians. Now, it being granted that it is impossible to know, determinedly, who are Christians indeed, that is no reason for utter negligence in separating the nominal, apparent, or possible Christian, from the professed Pagan or enemy of God. We spend much time in arguing about efficacy of sacraments and such other mysteries; but we do not act upon the very certain tests which are clear and visible. We know that Christ's people are not thieves—not liars—not busybodies—not dishonest—not avaricious—not wasteful—not cruel. Let us then get ourselves well clear of thieves—liars—wasteful people—avaricious people—cheating people—people who do not pay their debts. Let us assure them that they, at least, do not belong to the[Pg 356] Visible Church; and having thus got that Church into decent shape and cohesion, it will be time to think of drawing the stake-nets closer.

I hold it for a law, palpable to common sense, and which nothing but the cowardice and faithlessness of the Church prevents it from putting in practice, that the conviction of any dishonorable conduct or willful crime, of any fraud, falsehood, cruelty, or violence, should be ground for the excommunication of any man:—for his publicly declared separation from the acknowledged body of the Visible Church: and that he should not be received again therein without public confession of his crime and declaration of his repentance. If this were vigorously enforced, we should soon have greater purity of life in the world, and fewer discussions about high and low churches. But before we can obtain any idea of the manner in which such law could be enforced, we have to consider the second respecting the Authority of the Church. Now authority is twofold: to declare doctrine, and to enforce discipline; and we have to inquire, therefore, in each kind,—

190. (3) What is the authority of the Invisible Church? Evidently, in matters of doctrine, all members of the Invisible Church must have been, and must ever be, at the time of their deaths, right in the points essential to Salvation. But, (A), we cannot tell who are members of the Invisible Church.

(B) We cannot collect evidence from death-beds in a clearly stated form.

(C) We can collect evidence, in any form, only from some one or two out of every sealed thousand of the Invisible Church. Elijah thought he was alone in Israel; and yet there were seven thousand invisible ones around him. Grant that we had Elijah's intelligence; and we could only calculate on collecting one seven-thousandth part of the evidence or opinions of the part of the Invisible Church living on earth at a given moment: that is to say, the seven-millionth or trillionth of its collective evidence. It is very clear, therefore, we cannot hope to get rid of the contradictory opinions, and keep the consistent ones, by a general equation. But, it has[Pg 357] been said, these are no contradictory opinions; the Church is infallible. There was some talk about the infallibility of the Church, if I recollect right, in that letter of Mr. Bennett's to the Bishop of London. If any Church is infallible, it is assuredly the Invisible Church, or Body of Christ: and infallible in the main sense it must of course be by its definition. An Elect person must be saved, and therefore cannot eventually be deceived on essential points: so that Christ says of the deception of such, "If it were possible" implying it to be impossible. Therefore, as we said, if one could get rid of the variable opinions of the members of the Invisible Church, the constant opinions would assuredly be authoritative: but, for the three reasons above stated, we cannot get at their constant opinions: and as for the feelings and thoughts which they daily experience or express, the question of Infallibility -which is practical only in this bearing—is soon settled. Observe, St. Paul, and the rest of the Apostles, write nearly all their epistles to the Invisible Church:—those epistles are headed,—Romans, "To the beloved of God, called to be saints; "1 Corinthians, "To them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus; "2 Corinthians, "To the saints in all Achaia;" Ephesians, "To the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus; "Philippians, "To all the saints which are at Philippi; "Colossians, "To the saints and faithful brethren which are at Colosse;" 1 and 2 Thessalonians, "To the Church of the Thessalonians, which is in God the Father, and the Lord Jesus; "1 and 2 Timothy, "To his own son in the faith; "Titus, to the same; 1 Peter, "To the Strangers, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God;" 2 Peter, "To them that have obtained like precious faith with us; " 2 John, "To the Elect lady; " Jude, " To them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called."

191. There are thus fifteen epistles, expressly directed to the members of the Invisible Church. Philemon and Hebrews, and 1 and 3 John, are evidently also so written, though not so expressly inscribed. That of James, and that to the[Pg 358] Galatians, are as evidently to the Visible Church: the one being general, and the other to persons "removed from Him that called them." Missing out, therefore, these two epistles, but including Christ's words to His disciples, we find in the Scriptural addresses to members of the Invisible Church, fourteen, if not more, direct injunctions "not to be deceived."[145] So much for the "Infallibility of the Church."

Now, one could put up with Puseyism more patiently, if its fallacies arose merely from peculiar temperaments yielding to peculiar temptations. But its bold refusals to read plain English; its elaborate adjustments of tight bandages over its own eyes, as wholesome preparation for a walk among traps and pitfalls; its daring trustfulness in its own clairvoyance all the time, and declarations that every pit it falls into is a seventh heaven; and that it is pleasant and profitable to break its legs;—with all this it is difficult to have patience. One thinks of the highwayman with his eyes shut in the "Arabian Nights"; and wonders whether any kind of scourging would prevail upon the Anglican highwayman to open "first one and then the other."

192. (4) So much, then, I repeat, for the infallibility of the Invisible Church, and for its consequent authority. Now, if we want to ascertain what infallibility and authority there is in the Visible Church, we have to alloy the small wisdom and the light weight of Invisible Christians, with the large percentage of the false wisdom and contrary weight of Undetected Anti-Christians. Which alloy makes up the current coin of opinions in the Visible Church, having such value as we may choose—its nature being properly assayed—to attach to it.

There is, therefore, in matters of doctrine, no such thing as the Authority of the Church. We might as well talk of the authority of a morning cloud. There may be light in it, but the light is not of it; and it diminishes the light that it[Pg 359] gets; and lets less of it through than it receives, Christ being its sun. Or, we might as well talk of the authority of a flock of sheep—for the Church is a body to be taught and fed, not to teach and feed: and of all sheep that are fed on the earth, Christ's Sheep are the most simple, (the children of this generation are wiser): always losing themselves; doing little else in this world but lose themselves;—never finding themselves; always found by Some One else; getting perpetually into sloughs, and snows, and bramble thickets, like to die there, but for their Shepherd, who is forever finding them and bearing them back, with torn fleeces and eyes full of fear.

193. This, then, being the No-Authority of the Church in matter of Doctrine, what Authority has it in matters of Discipline?

Much, every way. The sheep have natural and wholesome power (however far scattered they may be from their proper fold) of getting together in orderly knots; following each other on trodden sheepwalks, and holding their heads all one way when they see strange dogs coming; as well as of casting out of their company any whom they see reason to suspect of not being right sheep, and being among them for no good. All which things must be done as the time and place require, and by common consent. A path may be good at one time of day which is bad at another, or after a change of wind; and a position may be very good for sudden defense, which would be very stiff and awkward for feeding in. And common consent must often be of such and such a company on this or that hillside, in this or that particular danger,—not of all the sheep in the world: and the consent may either be literally common, and expressed in assembly, or it may be to appoint officers over the rest, with such and such trusts of the common authority, to be used for the common advantage. Conviction of crimes, and excommunication, for instance, could neither be effected except before, or by means of, officers of some appointed authority.

194. (5) This then brings us to our fifth question. What is the Authority of the Clergy over the Church?[Pg 360]

The first clause of the question must evidently be,—Who are the Clergy? And it is not easy to answer this without begging the rest of the question.

For instance, I think I can hear certain people answering, that the Clergy are folk of three kinds;—Bishops, who overlook the Church; Priests, who sacrifice for the Church; Deacons, who minister to the Church: thus assuming in their answer, that the Church is to be sacrificed for, and that the people cannot overlook and minister to her at the same time;—which is going much too fast. I think, however, if we define the Clergy to be the "Spiritual Officers of the Church,"—meaning, by Officers, merely People in office,—we shall have a title safe enough and general enough to begin with, and corresponding too, pretty well, with St. Paul's general expression προἱσταμἑνοι, in Rom. xii. 8, and 1 Thess. v. 13.

Now, respecting these Spiritual Officers, or office-bearers, we have to inquire, first, What their Office or Authority is, or should be? secondly, Who gave, or should give, them that Authority? That is to say, first, What is, or should be, the nature of their office? and secondly, What the extent, or force, of their authority in it? for this last depends mainly on its derivation.

195. First, then, What should be the offices, and of what kind should be the authority, of the Clergy?

I have hitherto referred to the Bible for an answer to every question. I do so again; and, behold, the Bible gives me no answer. I defy you to answer me from the Bible. You can only guess, and dimly conjecture, what the offices of the Clergy were in the first century. You cannot show me a single command as to what they shall be. Strange, this; the Bible gives no answer to so apparently important a question! God surely would not have left His word without an answer to anything His children ought to ask. Surely it must be a ridiculous question—a question we ought never to have put, or thought of putting. Let us think of it again a little. To be sure,—It is a ridiculous question, and we should be[Pg 361] ashamed of ourselves for having put it:—What should be the offices of the Clergy? That is to say, What are the possible spiritual necessities which at any time may arise in the Church, and by what means and men are they to be supplied?—evidently an infinite question. Different kinds of necessities must be met by different authorities, constituted as the necessities arise. Robinson Crusoe, in his island, wants no Bishop, and makes a thunderstorm do for an Evangelist. The University of Oxford would be ill off without its Bishop; but wants an Evangelist besides; and that forthwith. The authority which the Vaudois shepherds need is of Barnabas, the Son of Consolation; the authority which the city of London needs is of James, the Son of Thunder. Let us then alter the form of our question, and put it to the Bible thus: What are the necessities most likely to arise in the Church? and may they be best met by different men, or in great part by the same men acting in different capacities? and are the names attached to their offices of any consequence? Ah, the Bible answers now, and that loudly. The Church is built on the Foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the corner-stone. Well; we cannot have two foundations, so we can have no more Apostles nor Prophets:—then, as for the other needs of the Church in its edifying upon this foundation, there are all manner of things to be done daily;—rebukes to be given; comfort to be brought; Scripture to be explained; warning to be enforced; threatenings to be executed; charities to be administered; and the men who do these things are called, and call themselves, with absolute indifference, Deacons, Bishops, Elders, Evangelists, according to what they are doing at the time of speaking. St. Paul almost always calls himself a deacon, St. Peter calls himself an elder, 1 Peter v. 1; and Timothy, generally understood to be addressed as a bishop, is called a deacon in 1 Tim. iv. 6—forbidden to rebuke an elder, in v. 1, and exhorted to do the work of an evangelist, in 2 Tim. iv. 5. But there is one thing which, as officers, or as separate from the rest of the flock, they never call themselves,—which it would have been[Pg 362] impossible, as so separate, they ever should have called themselves; that is—Priests.

196. It would have been just as possible for the Clergy of the early Church to call themselves Levites, as to call themselves (ex-officio) Priests. The whole function of Priesthood was, on Christmas morning, at once and forever gathered into His Person who was born at Bethlehem; and thenceforward, all who are united with Him, and who with Him make sacrifice of themselves; that is to say, all members of the Invisible Church become, at the instant of their conversion, Priests; and are so called in 1 Peter ii. 5, and Rev. i. 6, and xx. 6, where, observe, there is no possibility of limiting the expression to the Clergy; the conditions of Priesthood being simply having been loved by Christ, and washed in His blood. The blasphemous claim on the part of the Clergy of being more Priests than the godly laity—that is to say, of having a higher Holiness than the Holiness of being one with Christ,—is altogether a Romanist heresy, dragging after it, or having its origin in, the other heresies respecting the sacrificial power of the Church officer, and his repeating the oblation of Christ, and so having power to absolve from sin:—with all the other endless and miserable falsehoods of the Papal hierarchy; falsehoods for which, that there might be no shadow of excuse, it has been ordained by the Holy Spirit that no Christian minister shall once call himself a Priest from one end of the New Testament to the other, except together with his flock; and so far from the idea of any peculiar sanctification, belonging to the Clergy, ever entering the Apostles' minds, we actually find St. Paul defending himself against the possible imputation of inferiority: "If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's" (2 Cor. x. 7). As for the unhappy retention of the term Priest in our English Prayer-book, so long as it was understood to mean nothing but an upper order of Church officer, licensed to tell the congregation from the reading-desk, what (for the rest) they might, one would think, have known without being told,—that[Pg 363] "God pardoneth all them that truly repent,"—there was little harm in it; but, now that this order of Clergy begins to presume upon a title which, if it mean anything at all, is simply short for Presbyter, and has no more to do with the word Hiereus than with the word Levite, it is time that some order should be taken both with the book and the Clergy. For instance, in that dangerous compound of halting poetry with hollow Divinity, called the "Lyra Apostolica," we find much versification on the sin of Korah and his company: with suggested parallel between the Christian and Levitical Churches, and threatening that there are "Judgment Fires, for high-voiced Korahs in their day." There are indeed such fires. But when Moses said, "a Prophet shall the Lord raise up unto you, like unto me," did he mean the writer who signs γ in the "Lyra Apostolica"? The office of the Lawgiver and Priest is now forever gathered into One Mediator between God and man; and THEY are guilty of the sin of Korah who blasphemously would associate themselves in His Mediatorship.

197. As for the passages in the "Ordering of Priests" and "Visitation of the Sick" respecting Absolution, they are evidently pure Romanism, and might as well not be there, for any practical effect which they have on the consciences of the Laity; and had much better not be there, as regards their effect on the minds of the Clergy. It is indeed true that Christ promised absolving powers to His Apostles: He also promised to those who believed, that they should take up serpents; and if they drank any deadly thing, it should not hurt them. His words were fulfilled literally; but those who would extend their force to beyond the Apostolic times, must extend both promises or neither.

Although, however, the Protestant laity do not often admit the absolving power of their clergy, they are but too apt to yield, in some sort, to the impression of their greater sanctification; and from this instantly results the unhappy consequence that the sacred character of the Layman himself is forgotten, and his own Ministerial duty is neglected. Men[Pg 364] not in office in the Church suppose themselves, on that ground, in a sort unholy; and that, therefore, they may sin with more excuse, and be idle or impious with less danger, than the Clergy: especially they consider themselves relieved from all ministerial function, and as permitted to devote their whole time and energy to the business of this world. No mistake can possibly be greater. Every member of the Church is equally bound to the service of the Head of the Church; and that service is pre-eminently the saving of souls. There is not a moment of a man's active life in which he may not be indirectly preaching; and throughout a great part of his life he ought to be directly preaching, and teaching both strangers and friends; his children, his servants, and all who in any way are put under him, being given to him as special objects of his ministration. So that the only difference between a Church officer and a lay member is either a wider degree of authority given to the former, as apparently a wiser and better man, or a special appointment to some office more easily discharged by one person than by many: as, for instance, the serving of tables by the deacons; the authority or appointment being, in either case, commonly signified by a marked separation from the rest of the Church, and the privilege or power[146] of being maintained by the rest of the Church, without being forced to labor with his hands, or incumber himself with any temporal concerns.

198. Now, putting out of the question the serving of tables, and other such duties, respecting which there is no debate, we shall find the offices of the Clergy, whatever names we may choose to give to those who discharge them, falling mainly into two great heads:—Teaching; including doctrine, warning, and comfort: Discipline; including reproof and direct administration of punishment. Either of which functions would naturally become vested in single persons, to the exclusion of others, as a mere matter of convenience: whether those persons were wiser and better than others or not; and[Pg 365] respecting each of which, and the authority required for its fitting discharge, a short inquiry must be separately made.

199. I. Teaching.—It appears natural and wise that certain men should be set apart from the rest of the Church that they may make Theology the study of their lives: and that they should be thereto instructed specially in the Hebrew and Greek tongues; and have entire leisure granted them for the study of the Scriptures, and for obtaining general knowledge of the grounds of Faith, and best modes of its defense against all heretics: and it seems evidently right, also, that with this Scholastic duty should be joined the Pastoral duty of constant visitation and exhortation to the people; for, clearly, the Bible, and the truths of Divinity in general, can only be understood rightly in their practical application; and clearly, also, a man spending his time constantly in spiritual ministrations, must be better able, on any given occasion, to deal powerfully with the human heart than one unpracticed in such matters. The unity of Knowledge and Love, both devoted altogether to the service of Christ and His Church, marks the true Christian Minister; who, I believe, whenever he has existed, has never failed to receive due and fitting reverence from all men,—of whatever character or opinion; and I believe that if all those who profess to be such were such indeed, there would never be question of their authority more.

200. But, whatever influence they may have over the Church, their authority never supersedes that of either the intellect or the conscience of the simplest of its lay members. They can assist those members in the search for truth, or comfort their over-worn and doubtful minds; they can even assure them that they are in the way of truth, or that pardon is within their reach: but they can neither manifest the truth, nor grant the pardon. Truth is to be discovered, and Pardon to be won, for every man by himself. This is evident from innumerable texts of Scripture, but chiefly from those which exhort every man to seek after Truth, and which connect knowing with doing. We are to seek after knowledge as silver, and search for her as for hid treasures; therefore, from[Pg 366] every man she must be naturally hid, and the discovery of her is to be the reward only of personal search. The kingdom of God is as treasure hid in a field; and of those who profess to help us to seek for it, we are not to put confidence in those who say,—Here is the treasure, we have found it, and have it, and will give you some of it; but in those who say,—We think that is a good place to dig, and you will dig most easily in such and such a way.

201. Farther, it has been promised that if such earnest search be made, Truth shall be discovered: as much truth, that is, as is necessary for the person seeking. These, therefore, I hold, for two fundamental principles of religion,—that, without seeking, truth cannot be known at all; and that, by seeking, it may be discovered by the simplest. I say, without seeking it cannot be known at all. It can neither be declared from pulpits, nor set down in Articles, nor in anywise "prepared and sold" in packages, ready for use. Truth must be ground for every man by himself out of its husk, with such help as he can get, indeed, but not without stern labor of his own. In what science is knowledge to be had cheap? or truth to be told over a velvet cushion, in half an hour's talk every seventh day? Can you learn chemistry so?—zoology?—anatomy? and do you expect to penetrate the secret of all secrets, and to know that whose price is above rubies; and of which the depth saith,—It is not in me,—in so easy fashion? There are doubts in this matter which evil spirits darken with their wings, and that is true of all such doubts which we were told long ago—they can "be ended by action alone."[147][Pg 367]

202. As surely as we live, this truth of truths can only so be discerned: to those who act on what they know, more shall be revealed; and thus, if any man will do His will, he shall know the doctrine whether it be of God. Any man,—not the man who has most means of knowing, who has the subtlest brains, or sits under the most orthodox preacher, or has his library fullest of most orthodox books,—but the man who strives to know, who takes God at His word, and sets himself to dig up the heavenly mystery, roots and all, before sunset, and the night come, when no man can work. Beside such a man, God stands in more and more visible presence as he toils, and teaches him that which no preacher can teach—no earthly authority gainsay. By such a man, the preacher must himself be judged.

203. Doubt you this? There is nothing more certain nor clear throughout the Bible: the Apostles themselves appeal constantly to their flocks, and actually claim judgment from them, as deserving it, and having a right to it, rather than discouraging it. But, first notice the way in which the discovery of truth is spoken of in the Old Testament: "Evil men understand not judgment; but they that seek the Lord understand all things," Proverbs xxviii. 5. God overthroweth, not merely the transgressor or the wicked, but even "the words of the transgressor," Proverbs xxii. 12, and "the counsel of the wicked," Job v. 13, xxi. 16; observe again, in Proverbs xxiv. 14, "My son, eat thou honey, because it is good—so shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul, when thou hast found it, there shall be a reward;" and again, "What man is he that feareth the Lord? him shall He teach in the way that He shall choose;" so Job xxxii. 8, and multitudes of places more; and then, with all these places, which express the definite and personal operation of the Spirit of God on every one of His people, compare the place in Isaiah, which speaks of the contrary of this human teaching: a passage which seems as if it had been written for this very day and[Pg 368] hour. "Because their fear towards me is taught by the precept of men; therefore, behold, the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid" (xxix. 13,14). Then take the New Testament, and observe how St. Paul himself speaks of the Romans, even as hardly needing his epistle, but able to admonish one another: "Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind" (xv. 15). Anyone, we should have thought, might have done as much as this, and yet St. Paul increases the modesty of it as he goes on; for he claims the right of doing as much as this, only "because of the grace given to me of God, that I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles." Then compare 2 Cor. v. 11, where he appeals to the consciences of the people for the manifestation of his having done his duty; and observe in verse 21 of that, and I of the next chapter, the "pray" and "beseech," not "command"; and again in chapter vi. verse 4, "approving ourselves as the ministers of God." But the most remarkable passage of all is 2 Cor. iii. 1, whence it appears that the churches were actually in the habit of giving letters of recommendation to their ministers; and St. Paul dispenses with such letters, not by virtue of his Apostolic authority, but because the power of his preaching was enough manifested in the Corinthians themselves. And these passages are all the more forcible, because if in any of them St. Paul had claimed absolute authority over the Church as a teacher, it was no more than we should have expected him to claim, nor could his doing so have in anywise justified a successor in the same claim. But now that he has not claimed it,—who, following him, shall dare to claim it? And the consideration of the necessity of joining expressions of the most exemplary humility, which were to be the example of succeeding ministers, with such assertion of Divine authority as should secure acceptance for the epistle itself in the sacred canon, sufficiently accounts for the apparent inconsistencies which occur in 2 Thess. iii. 14, and other such texts.

204. So much, then, for the authority of the Clergy in[Pg 369] matters of Doctrine. Next, what is their authority in matters of Discipline? It must evidently be very great, even if it were derived from the people alone, and merely vested in the clerical officers as the executors of their ecclesiastical judgments, and general overseers of all the Church. But granting, as we must presently, the minister to hold office directly from God, his authority of discipline becomes very great indeed; how great, it seems to me most difficult to determine, because I do not understand what St. Paul means by "delivering a man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh." Leaving this question, however, as much too hard for casual examination, it seems indisputable that the authority of the Ministers or court of Ministers should extend to the pronouncing a man Excommunicate for certain crimes against the Church, as well as for all crimes punishable by ordinary law. There ought, I think, to be an ecclesiastical code of laws; and a man ought to have jury trial, according to this code, before an ecclesiastical judge; in which, if he were found guilty, as of lying, or dishonesty, or cruelty, much more of any actually committed violent crime, he should be pronounced excommunicate; refused the Sacrament; and have his name written in some public place as an excommunicate person until he had publicly confessed his sin and besought pardon of God for it. The jury should always be of the laity, and no penalty should be enforced in an ecclesiastical court except this of excommunication.

205. This proposal may seem strange to many persons; but assuredly this, if not much more than this, is commanded in Scripture, first in the (much-abused) text, "Tell it unto the Church;" and most clearly in 1 Cor. v. 11-13; 2 Thess. iii. 6 and 14; 1 Tim. v. 8 and 20; and Titus iii. 10; from which passages we also know the two proper degrees of the penalty. For Christ says, Let him who refuses to hear the Church, "be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican," But Christ ministered to the heathen, and sat at meat with the publican; only always with declared or implied expression of their inferiority; here, therefore, is one degree of excom[Pg 370]munication for persons who "offend" their brethren, committing some minor fault against them; and who, having been pronounced in error by the body of the Church, refuse to confess their fault or repair it; who are then to be no longer considered members of the Church; and their recovery to the body of it is to be sought exactly as it would be in the case of an heathen. But covetous persons, railers, extortioners, idolaters, and those guilty of other gross crimes, are to be entirely cut off from the company of the believers; and we are not so much as to eat with them. This last penalty, however, would require to be strictly guarded, that it might not be abused in the infliction of it, as it has been by the Romanists. We are not, indeed, to eat with them, but we may exercise all Christian charity towards them, and give them to eat, if we see them in hunger, as we ought to all our enemies; only we are to consider them distinctly as our enemies: that is to say, enemies of our Master, Christ; and servants of Satan.

206. As for the rank or name of the officers in whom the authorities, either of teaching or discipline, are to be vested, they are left undetermined by Scripture. I have heard it said by men who know their Bible far better than I, that careful examination may detect evidence of the existence of three orders of Clergy in the Church. This may be; but one thing is very clear, without any laborious examination, that "bishop" and "elder" sometimes mean the same thing; as, indisputably, in Titus i. 5 and 7, and I Peter v. I and 2, and that the office of the bishop or overseer was one of considerably less importance than it is with us. This is palpably evident from I Timothy iii., for what divine among us, writing of episcopal proprieties, would think of saying that bishops "must not be given to wine," must be "no strikers," and must not be "novices"? We are not in the habit of making bishops of novices in these days; and it would be much better that, like the early Church, we sometimes ran the risk of doing so; for the fact is we have not bishops enough—by some hundreds. The idea of overseership has been practically lost[Pg 371] sight of, its fulfillment having gradually become physically impossible, for want of more bishops. The duty of a bishop is, without doubt, to be accessible to the humblest clergymen of his diocese, and to desire very earnestly that all of them should be in the habit of referring to him in all cases of difficulty; if they do not do this of their own accord, it is evidently his duty to visit them, live with them sometimes, and join in their ministrations to their flocks, so as to know exactly the capacities and habits of life of each; and if any of them complained of this or that difficulty with their congregations, the bishop should be ready to go down to help them, preach for them, write general epistles to their people, and so on: besides this, he should of course be watchful of their errors—ready to hear complaints from their congregations of inefficiency or aught else; besides having general superintendence of all the charitable institutions and schools in his diocese, and good knowledge of whatever was going on in theological matters, both all over the kingdom and on the Continent. This is the work of a right overseer; and I leave the reader to calculate how many additional bishops—and those hard-working men, too—we should need to have it done, even decently. Then our present bishops might all become archbishops with advantage, and have general authority over the rest.[148]

207. As to the mode in which the officers of the Church should be elected or appointed, I do not feel it my business to[Pg 372] say anything at present, nor much respecting the extent of their authority, either over each other or over the congregation, this being a most difficult question, the right solution of which evidently lies between two most dangerous extremes—insubordination and radicalism on one hand, and ecclesiastical tyranny and heresy on the other: of the two, insubordination is far the least to be dreaded—for this reason, that nearly all real Christians are more on the watch against their pride than their indolence, and would sooner obey their clergyman, if possible, than contend with him; while the very pride they suppose conquered often returns masked, and causes them to make a merit of their humility and their abstract obedience, however unreasonable: but they cannot so easily persuade themselves there is a merit in abstract disobedience.

208. Ecclesiastical tyranny has, for the most part, founded itself on the idea of Vicarianism, one of the most pestilent of the Romanist theories, and most plainly denounced in Scripture. Of this I have a word or two to say to the modern "Vicarian." All powers that be are unquestionably ordained of God; so that they that resist the Power, resist the ordinance of God. Therefore, say some in these offices, We, being ordained of God, and having our credentials, and being in the English Bible called ambassadors for God, do, in a sort, represent God. We are Vicars of Christ, and stand on earth in place of Christ. I have heard this said by Protestant clergymen.

209. Now the word ambassador has a peculiar ambiguity about it, owing to its use in modern political affairs; and these clergymen assume that the word, as used by St. Paul, means an Ambassador Plenipotentiary; representative of his King, and capable of acting for his King. What right have they to assume that St. Paul meant this? St. Paul never uses the word ambassador at all. He says, simply, "We are in embassage from Christ; and Christ beseeches you through us." Most true. And let it further be granted, that every word that the clergyman speaks is literally dictated to him by Christ; that he can make no mistake in delivering his mes[Pg 373]sage; and that, therefore, it is indeed Christ Himself who speaks to us the word of life through the messenger's lips. Does, therefore, the messenger represent Christ? Does the channel which conveys the waters of the Fountain represent the Fountain itself? Suppose, when we went to draw water at a cistern, that all at once the Leaden Spout should become animated, and open its mouth and say to us, See, I am Vicarious for the Fountain. Whatever respect you show to the Fountain, show some part of it to me. Should we not answer the Spout, and say, Spout, you were set there for our service, and may be taken away and thrown aside[149] if anything goes wrong with you? But the Fountain will flow forever.

210. Observe, I do not deny a most solemn authority vested in every Christian messenger from God to men. I am prepared to grant this to the uttermost; and all that George Herbert says, in the end of "The Church-porch," I would enforce, at another time than this, to the uttermost. But the Authority is simply that of a King's Messenger; not of a King's Representative. There is a wide difference; all the difference between humble service and blasphemous usurpation.

Well, the congregation might ask, grant him a King's messenger in cases of doctrine,—in cases of discipline, an officer bearing the King's Commission. How far are we to obey him? How far is it lawful to dispute his commands?

For, in granting, above, that the Messenger always gave his message faithfully, I granted too much to my adversaries, in order that their argument might have all the weight it possibly could. The Messengers rarely deliver their message faithfully; and sometimes have declared, as from the King, messages of their own invention. How far are we, knowing them for King's messengers, to believe or obey them?

211. Suppose, for instance, in our English army, on the eve of some great battle, one of the colonels were to give his order to his regiment: "My men, tie your belts over your eyes, throw down your muskets, and follow me as steadily as you[Pg 374] can, through this marsh, into the middle of the enemy's line," (this being precisely the order issued by our Puseyite Church officers). It might be questioned, in the real battle, whether it would be better that a regiment should show an example of insubordination, or be cut to pieces. But happily in the Church there is no such difficulty; for the King is always with His army: not only with His army, but at the right hand of every soldier of it. Therefore, if any of their colonels give them a strange command, all they have to do is to ask the King; and never yet any Christian asked guidance of his King, in any difficulty whatsoever, without mental reservation or secret resolution, but he had it forthwith. We conclude then, finally, that the authority of the Clergy is, in matters of discipline, large (being executive, first, of the written laws of God, and secondly, of those determined and agreed upon by the body of the Church), in matters of doctrine, dependent on their recommending themselves to every man's conscience, both as messengers of God, and as themselves men of God, perfect, and instructed to good works.[150]

212. (6) The last subject which we had to investigate was, it will be remembered, what is usually called the connection of "Church and State." But, by our definition of the term Church, throughout the whole of Christendom, the Church (or society of professing Christians) is the State, and our subject is therefore, properly speaking, the connection of lay and clerical officers of the Church; that is to say, the degrees in which the civil and ecclesiastical governments ought to interfere with or influence each other.

It would of course be vain to attempt a formal inquiry into[Pg 375] this intricate subject;—I have only a few detached points to notice respecting it.

213. There are three degrees or kinds of civil government. The first and lowest, executive merely; the government in this sense being simply the National Hand, and composed of individuals who administer the laws of the nation, and execute its established purposes.

The second kind of government is deliberative; but in its deliberation, representative only of the thoughts and will of the people or nation, and liable to be deposed the instant it ceases to express those thoughts and that will. This, whatever its form, whether centered in a king or in any number of men, is properly to be called Democratic. The third and highest kind of government is deliberative, not as representative of the people, but as chosen to take separate counsel for them, and having power committed to it, to enforce upon them whatever resolution it may adopt, whether consistent with their will or not. This government is properly to be called Monarchical, whatever its form.

214. I see that politicians and writers of history continually run into hopeless error, because they confuse the Form of a Government with its Nature. A Government may be nominally vested in an individual; and yet if that individual be in such fear of those beneath him, that he does nothing but what he supposes will be agreeable to them, the Government is Democratic; on the other hand, the Government may be vested in a deliberative assembly of a thousand men, all having equal authority, and all chosen from the lowest ranks of the people; and yet if that assembly act independently of the will of the people, and have no fear of them, and enforce its determinations upon them, the Government is Monarchical; that is to say, the Assembly, acting as One, has power over the Many, while in the case of the weak king, the Many have power over the One.

A Monarchical Government, acting for its own interest, instead of the people's, is a tyranny. I said the Executive Government was the hand of the nation:—the Republican[Pg 376] Government is in like manner its tongue. The Monarchical Government is its head.

All true and right government is Monarchical, and of the head. What is its best form, is a totally different question; but unless it act for the people, and not as representative of the people, it is no government at all; and one of the grossest blockheadisms of the English in the present day, is their idea of sending men to Parliament to "represent their opinions." Whereas their only true business is to find out the wisest men among them, and send them to Parliament to represent their own opinions, and act upon them. Of all puppet-shows in the Satanic Carnival of the earth, the most contemptible puppet-show is a Parliament with a mob pulling the strings.

215. Now, of these three states of Government, it is clear that the merely executive can have no proper influence over ecclesiastical affairs. But of the other two, the first, being the voice of the people, or voice of the Church, must have such influence over the Clergy as is properly vested in the body of the Church. The second, which stands in the same relation to the people as a father does to his family, will have such farther influence over ecclesiastical matters, as a father has over the consciences of his adult children. No absolute authority, therefore, to enforce their attendance at any particular place of worship, or subscription to any particular Creed. But indisputable authority to procure for them such religious instruction as he deems fittest,[151] and to recommend it to[Pg 377] them by every means in his power; he not only has authority, but is under obligation to do this, as well as to establish such disciplines and forms of worship in his house as he deems most convenient for his family: with which they are indeed at liberty to refuse compliance, if such disciplines appear to them clearly opposed to the law of God; but not without most solemn conviction of their being so, nor without deep sorrow to be compelled to such a course.

216. But it may be said, the Government of a people never does stand to them in the relation of a father to his family. If it do not, it is no Government. However grossly it may fail in its duty, and however little it may be fitted for its place, if it be a Government at all, it has paternal office and relation to the people. I find it written on the one hand,—"Honor thy Father; "on the other,—"Honor the King:" on the one hand,—"Whoso smiteth his Father, shall be put to death;"[152] on the other,—"They that resist shall receive to themselves damnation." Well, but, it may be farther argued, the Clergy are in a still more solemn sense the Fathers of the People, and the People are their beloved Sons; why should not, therefore, the Clergy have the power to govern the civil officers?

217. For two very clear reasons.[Pg 378]

In all human institutions certain evils are granted, as of necessity; and, in organizing such institutions, we must allow for the consequences of such evils, and make arrangements such as may best keep them in check. Now, in both the civil and ecclesiastical governments there will of necessity be a certain number of bad men. The wicked civilian has comparatively little interest in overthrowing ecclesiastical authority; it is often a useful help to him, and presents in itself little which seems covetable. But the wicked ecclesiastical officer has much interest in overthrowing the civilian, and getting the political power into his own hands. As far as wicked men are concerned, therefore, it is better that the State should have power over the Clergy, than the Clergy over the State.

Secondly, supposing both the Civil and Ecclesiastical officers to be Christians; there is no fear that the civil officer should underrate the dignity or shorten the serviceableness of the minister; but there is considerable danger that the religious enthusiasm of the minister might diminish the serviceableness of the civilian. (The History of Religious Enthusiasm should be written by someone who had a life to give to its investigation; it is one of the most melancholy pages in human records, and one of the most necessary to be studied.) Therefore, as far as good men are concerned, it is better the State should have power over the Clergy than the Clergy over the State.

218. This we might, it seems to me, conclude by unassisted reason. But surely the whole question is, without any need of human reason, decided by the history of Israel. If ever a body of Clergy should have received independent authority, the Levitical Priesthood should; for they were indeed a Priesthood, and more holy than the rest of the nation. But Aaron is always subject to Moses. All solemn revelation is made to Moses, the civil magistrate, and he actually commands Aaron as to the fulfillment of his priestly office, and that in a necessity of life and death: "Go, and make an atonement for the people." Nor is anything more remarkable throughout the[Pg 379] whole of the Jewish history than the perfect subjection of the Priestly to the Kingly Authority. Thus Solomon thrusts out Abiathar from being priest, I Kings ii. 27; and Jehoahaz administers the funds of the Lord's House, 2 Kings xii. 4, though that money was actually the Atonement Money, the Hansom for Souls (Exod. xxx. 12).

219. We have, however, also the beautiful instance of Samuel uniting in himself the offices of Priest, Prophet, and Judge; nor do I insist on any special manner of subjection of Clergy to civil officers, or vice versâ; but only on the necessity of their perfect unity and influence upon each other in every Christian kingdom. Those who endeavor to effect the utter separation of ecclesiastical and civil officers, are striving, on the one hand, to expose the Clergy to the most grievous and most subtle of temptations from their own spiritual enthusiasm and spiritual pride; on the other, to deprive the civil officer of all sense of religious responsibility, and to introduce the fearful, godless, conscienceless, and soulless policy of the Radical and the (so-called) Socialist. Whereas, the ideal of all government is the perfect unity of the two bodies of officers, each supporting and correcting the other; the Clergy having due weight in all the national councils; the civil officers having a solemn reverence for God in all their acts; the Clergy hallowing all worldly policy by their influence; and the magistracy repressing all religious enthusiasm by their practical wisdom. To separate the two is to endeavor to separate the daily life of the nation from God, and to map out the dominion of the soul into two provinces—one of Atheism, the other of Enthusiasm. These, then, were the reasons which caused me to speak of the idea of separation of Church and State as Fatuity; for what Fatuity can be so great as the not having God in our thoughts; and, in any act or office of life, saying in our hearts, "There is no God"?

220. Much more I would fain say of these things, but not now: this only I must emphatically assert, in conclusion:—That the schism between the so-called Evangelical and High Church Parties in Britain, is enough to shake many men's[Pg 380] faith in the truth or existence of Religion at all. It seems to me one of the most disgraceful scenes in Ecclesiastical history, that Protestantism should be paralyzed at its very heart by jealousies, based on little else than mere difference between high and low breeding. For the essential differences in the religious opinions of the two parties are sufficiently marked in two men whom we may take as the highest representatives of each—George Herbert and John Milton; and I do not think there would have been much difficulty in atoning those two, if one could have got them together. But the real difficulty, nowadays, lies in the sin and folly of both parties; in the superciliousness of the one, and the rudeness of the other. Evidently, however, the sin lies most at the High Church door, for the Evangelicals are much more ready to act with Churchmen than they with the Evangelicals; and I believe that this state of things cannot continue much longer; and that if the Church of England does not forthwith unite with herself the entire Evangelical body, both of England and Scotland, and take her stand with them against the Papacy, her hour has struck. She cannot any longer serve two masters; nor make courtesies alternately to Christ and Antichrist. That she has done this is visible enough by the state of Europe at this instant. Three centuries since Luther—three hundred years of Protestant knowledge—and the Papacy not yet overthrown! Christ's truth still restrained, in narrow dawn, to the white cliffs of England and white crests of the Alps;—the morning star paused in its course in heaven;—the sun and moon stayed, with Satan for their Joshua.

221. But how to unite the two great sects of paralyzed Protestants? By keeping simply to Scripture. The members of the Scottish Church have not a shadow of excuse for refusing Episcopacy; it has indeed been abused among them, grievously abused; but it is in the Bible; and that is all they have a right to ask.

They have also no shadow of excuse for refusing to employ a written form of prayer. It may not be to their taste—it may not be the way in which they like to pray; but it is no[Pg 381] question, at present, of likes or dislikes, but of duties; and the acceptance of such a form on their part would go half-way to reconcile them with their brethren. Let them allege such objections as they can reasonably advance against the English form, and let these be carefully and humbly weighed by the pastors of both churches: some of them ought to be at once forestalled. For the English Church, on the other hand, must cut the term Priest entirely out of her Prayer-book, and substitute for it that of Minister or Elder; the passages respecting Absolution must be thrown out also, except the doubtful one in the Morning Service, in which there is no harm; and then there would be only the Baptismal question left, which is one of words rather than of things, and might easily be settled in Synod, turning the refractory Clergy out of their offices, to go to Rome if they chose. Then, when the Articles of Faith and form of worship had been agreed upon between the English and Scottish Churches, the written forms and articles should be carefully translated into the European languages, and offered to the acceptance of the Protestant churches on the Continent, with earnest entreaty that they would receive them, and due entertainment of all such objections as they could reasonably allege; and thus the whole body of Protestants, united in one great Fold, would indeed go in and out, and find pasture; and the work appointed for them would be done quickly, and Antichrist overthrown.

222. Impossible: a thousand times impossible!—I hear it exclaimed against me. No—not impossible. Christ does not order impossibilities, and He has ordered us to be at peace one with another. Nay, it is answered—He came not to send peace, but a sword. Yes, verily: to send a sword upon earth, but not within His Church; for to His Church He said, "My Peace I leave with you."[Pg 382]


[140] I may, perhaps, have missed count of one or two occurrences of the word; but not, I think, in any important passages.

[141] The expression "House of God," in 1 Tim. iii. 15, is shown to be used of the congregation by 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17.

I have not noticed the word κυριακἡ (oikia)] from which the German "Kirche," the English "Church," and the Scotch "Kirk" are derived, as it is not used with that signification in the New Testament.

[142] Any reference except to Scripture, in notes of this kind would, of course, be useless: the argument from, or with, the Fathers is not to be compressed into fifty pages. I have something to say about Hooker; but I reserve that for another time, not wishing to say it hastily, or to leave it without support.

[143] Acts x. 44.

[144] Let not the reader be displeased with me for these short and apparently insolent statements of opinion. I am not writing insolently, but as shortly and clearly as I can; and when I seriously believe a thing, I say so in a few words, leaving the reader to determine what my belief is worth. But I do not choose to temper down every expression of personal opinion into courteous generalities, and so lose space, and time, and intelligibility at once. We are utterly oppressed in these days by our courtesies, and considerations, and compliances, and proprieties. Forgive me them, this once, or rather let us all forgive them to each other, and learn to speak plainly first, and, if it may be, gracefully afterwards; and not only to speak, but to stand by what we have spoken. One of my Oxford friends heard, the other day, that I was employed on these notes, and forthwith wrote to me, in a panic, not to put my name to them, for fear I should "compromise myself." I think we are most of us compromised to some extent already, when England has sent a Roman Catholic minister to the second city in Italy, and remains herself for a week without any government, because her chief men cannot agree upon the position which a Popish cardinal is to have leave to occupy in London.

[145] Matt. xxiv. 4; Mark xiii. 5; Luke xxi. 8; 1 Cor. iii. 18, vi. 9, xv. 33; Eph. iv. 14, v. 6; Col. ii. 8; 2 Thess. ii. 3; Heb. iii. 13; 1 John i. 8, iii. 7; 2 John 7, 8.

[146] εξουσἱα in 1 Cor. ix. 12. 2 Thess, iii. 9.

[147] (Carlyle, "Past and Present," chapter xi.) Can anything be more striking than the repeated warnings of St. Paul against strife of words; and his distinct setting forth of Action as the only true means of attaining knowledge of the truth, and the only sign of men's possessing the true faith? Compare 1 Timothy vi. 4, 20, (the latter verse especially, in connection with the previous three,) and 2 Timothy ii. 14, 19, 22, 23, tracing the connection here also; add Titus i. 10, 14, 16, noting "in works they deny him," and Titus iii. 8, 9, "affirm constantly that they be careful to maintain good works; but avoid foolish questions;" and finally, 1 Timothy i. 4-7: a passage which seems to have been especially written for these times.

[148] I leave, in the main text, the abstract question of the fitness of Episcopacy unapproached, not feeling any call to speak of it at length at present; all that I feel necessary to be said is, that bishops being granted, it is clear that we have too few to do their work. But the argument from the practice of the Primitive Church appears to me to be of enormous weight,—nor have I ever heard any rational plea alleged against Episcopacy, except that, like other things, it is capable of abuse, and has sometimes been abused; and as, altogether clearly and indisputably, there is described in the Bible an episcopal office, distinct from the merely ministerial one; and, apparently, also an episcopal officer attached to each church, and distinguished in the Revelation as an Angel, I hold the resistance of the Scotch Presbyterian Church to Episcopacy to be unscriptural, futile, and schismatic.

[149] "By just judgment be deposed," Art. 26.

[150] The difference between the authority of doctrine and discipline is beautifully marked in 2 Timothy ii. 25, and Titus ii. 12-15. In the first passage, the servant of God, teaching divine doctrine, must not strive, but must "in meekness instruct those that oppose themselves;" in the second passage, teaching us "that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts he is to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world," the minister is to speak, exhort, and rebuke with ALL AUTHORITY—both functions being expressed as united in 2 Timothy iv. 3.

[151] Observe, this and the following conclusions depend entirely on the supposition that the Government is part of the Body of the Church, and that some pains have been taken to compose it of religious and wise men. If we choose, knowingly and deliberately, to compose our Parliament, in great part, of infidels and Papists, gamblers and debtors, we may well regret its power over the Clerical officer; but that we should, at any time, so compose our Parliament, is a sign that the Clergy themselves have failed in their duty, and the Church in its watchfulness;—thus the evil accumulates in reaction. Whatever I say of the responsibility or authority of Government, is therefore to be understood only as sequent on what I have said previously of the necessity of closely circumscribing the Church, and then composing the Civil Government out of the circumscribed Body. Thus, all Papists would at once be rendered incapable of share in it being subjected to the second or most severe degree of excommunication—first, as idolaters, by 1 Cor. v. 10; then as covetous and extortioners (selling absolution,) by the same text; and, finally, as heretics and maintainers of falsehoods, by Titus iii. 10, and 1 Tim. iv. 1.

I do not write this hastily, nor without earnest consideration both, of the difficulty and the consequences of such Church Discipline. But either the Bible is a superannuated book, and is only to be read as a record of past days; or these things follow from it, clearly and inevitably. That we live in days when the Bible has become impracticable, is (if it be so) the very thing I desire to be considered. I am not setting down these plans or schemes as at present possible. I do not know how far they are possible; but it seems to me that God has plainly commanded them, and that, therefore, their impracticability is a thing to be meditated on.

[152] Exod. xxi. 15.




Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire,
20th June, 1879.

223. Dear Mr. Malleson,—I could not at once answer your important letter; for, though I felt at once the impossibility of my venturing to address such an audience as you proposed, I am unwilling to fail in answering to any call relating to matters respecting which my feelings have been long in earnest, if in any wise it may be possible for me to be of service therein. My health—or want of it—now utterly forbids my engagement in any duty involving excitement or acute intellectual effort; but I think, before the first Tuesday in August, I might be able to write one or two letters to your[Pg 383]self, referring to, and more or less completing, some passages already printed in Fors and elsewhere, which might, on your reading any portions you thought available, become matter of discussion during the meeting at some leisure time, after its own main purposes had been answered.

At all events, I will think over what I should like, and be able, to represent to such a meeting, and only beg you not to think me insensible of the honor done me by your wish, and of the gravity of the trust reposed in me.

Ever most faithfully yours,
J. Ruskin.

The Rev. F. A. Malleson.


Brantwood, Coniston, 23rd June, 1879.

224. Dear Mr. Malleson,—Walking, and talking, are now alike impossible to me;[155] my strength is gone for both; nor do I believe talking on such matters to be of the least use except to promote, between sensible people, kindly feeling and knowledge of each other's personal characters. I have every trust in your kindness and truth; nor do I fear being myself misunderstood by you; what I may be able to put into written form, so as to admit of being laid before your friends in council, must be set down without any question of personal feeling—as simply as a mathematical question or demonstration.

225. The first exact question which it seems to me such an assembly may be earnestly called upon by laymen to solve, is surely axiomatic: the definition of themselves as a body, and of their business as such.

Namely: as clergymen of the Church of England, do they consider themselves to be so called merely as the attached servants of a particular state? Do they, in their quality of[Pg 384] guides, hold a position similar to that of the guides of Chamouni or Grindelwald, who, being a numbered body of examined and trustworthy persons belonging to those several villages, have nevertheless no Chamounist or Grindelwaldist opinions on the subject of Alpine geography or glacier walking; but are prepared to put into practice a common and universal science of Locality and Athletics, founded on sure survey and successful practice? Are the clergymen of the Ecclesia of England thus simply the attached and salaried guides of England and the English, in the way, known of all good men, that leadeth unto life?—or are they, on the contrary, a body of men holding, or in any legal manner required, or compelled to hold, opinions on the subject—say, of the height of the Celestial Mountains, the crevasses which go down quickest to the pit, and other cognate points of science—differing from, or even contrary to, the tenets of the guides of the Church of France, the Church of Italy, and other Christian countries?

Is not this the first of all questions which a Clerical Council has to answer in open terms?

Ever affectionately yours
J. Ruskin.


Brantwood, 6th July.

226. My first letter contained a Layman's plea for a clear answer to the question, "What is a clergyman of the Church of England?" Supposing the answer to this first to be, that the clergy of the Church of England are teachers, not of the Gospel to England, but of the Gospel to all nations; and not of the Gospel of Luther, nor of the Gospel of Augustine, but of the Gospel of Christ,—then the Layman's second question would be:

Can this Gospel of Christ be put into such plain words and short terms as that a plain man may understand it?—and, if so, would it not be, in a quite primal sense, desirable that it should be so, rather than left to be gathered out of Thirty-[Pg 385]nine Articles, written by no means in clear English, and referring, for further explanation of exactly the most important point in the whole tenor of their teaching,[156] to a "Homily of Justification,"[157] which is not generally in the possession, or even probably within the comprehension, of simple persons?

Ever faithfully yours,
J. Ruskin.


Brantwood, 8th July.

227. I am so very glad that you approve of the letter plan, as it enables me to build up what I would fain try to say, of little stones, without lifting too much for my strength at once; and the sense of addressing a friend who understands me and sympathizes with me prevents my being brought to a stand by continual need for apology, or fear of giving offense.

But yet I do not quite see why you should feel my asking for a simple and comprehensible statement of the Christian Gospel at starting. Are you not bid to go into all the world and preach it to every creature? (I should myself think the clergyman most likely to do good who accepted the πἁση τη κτἱσει so literally as at least to sympathize with St. Francis' sermon to the birds, and to feel that feeding either sheep or fowls, or unmuzzling the ox, or keeping the wrens alive in the snow, would be received by their Heavenly Feeder as the perfect fulfillment of His "Feed my sheep" in the higher sense.)[158]

228. That's all a parenthesis; for although I should think that your good company would all agree that kindness to animals was a kind of preaching to them, and that hunting and vivisection were a kind of blasphemy to them, I want only to put the sterner question before your council, how this Gospel is to be preached either πανταχοὑ" or to "πἁντα τἁ κτἱσει if first its preachers have not determined quite clearly[Pg 386] what it is? And might not such definition, acceptable to the entire body of the Church of Christ, be arrived at by merely explaining, in their completeness and life, the terms of the Lord's Prayer—the first words taught to children all over the Christian world?

I will try to explain what I mean of its several articles, in following letters; and in answer to the question with which you close your last, I can only say that you are at perfect liberty to use any, or all, or any parts of them, as you think good. Usually, when I am asked if letters of mine may be printed, I say: "Assuredly, provided only that you print them entire." But in your hands, I withdraw even this condition, and trust gladly to your judgment, remaining always

Faithfully and affectionately yours,
J. Ruskin.

The Rev. F. A. Malleson.


πἁτερ ἡμων ο εν τοἱς ουρανὁις

Pater noster qui es in cælis.

Brantwood, 10th July.

229. My meaning, in saying that the Lord's Prayer might be made a foundation of Gospel-teaching, was not that it contained all that Christian ministers have to teach; but that it contains what all Christians are agreed upon as first to be taught; and that no good parish-working pastor in any district of the world but would be glad to take his part in making it clear and living to his congregation.

And the first clause of it, of course rightly explained, gives us the ground of what is surely a mighty part of the Gospel—its "first and great commandment," namely, that we have a Father whom we can love, and are required to love, and to desire to be with Him in Heaven, wherever that may be.

And to declare that we have such a loving Father, whose[Pg 387] mercy is over all His works, and whose will and law is so lovely and lovable that it is sweeter than honey, and more precious than gold, to those who can "taste" and "see" that the Lord is Good—this, surely, is a most pleasant and glorious good message and spell to bring to men—as distinguished from the evil message and accursed spell that Satan has brought to the nations of the world instead of it, that they have no Father, but only "a consuming fire" ready to devour them, unless they are delivered from its raging flame by some scheme of pardon for all, for which they are to be thankful, not to the Father, but to the Son.

Supposing this first article of the true Gospel agreed to, how would the blessing that closes the epistles of that Gospel become intelligible and living, instead of dark and dead: "The grace of Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost,"—the most tender word being that used of the Father?


αγιασθἡτω τὁ οναμἁ σου

Sanctificetur nomen tuum.

Brantwood, 12th July, 1879.

230. I wonder how many, even of those who honestly and attentively join in our Church services, attach any distinct idea to the second clause of the Lord's Prayer, the first petition of it, the first thing that they are ordered by Christ to seek of their Father?

Am I unjust in thinking that most of them have little more notion on the matter than that God has forbidden "bad language," and wishes them to pray that everybody may be respectful to Him?

Is it any otherwise with the Third Commandment? Do not most look on it merely in the light of the statute of swearing? and read the words "will not hold him guiltless" merely[Pg 388] as a passionless intimation that however carelessly a man may let out a round oath, there really is something wrong in it?

On the other hand, can anything be more tremendous than the words themselves—double-negatived:

ου γἁρ μἡ καθαρἱση

For other sins there is washing;—for this, none! the seventh verse, Ex. xx., in the Septuagint, marking the real power rather than the English, which (I suppose) is literal to the Hebrew.

To my layman's mind, of practical needs in the present state of the Church, nothing is so immediate as that of explaining to the congregation the meaning of being gathered in His name, and having Him in the midst of them; as, on the other hand, of being gathered in blasphemy of His name, and having the devil in the midst of them—presiding over the prayers which have become an abomination.

231. For the entire body of the texts in the Gospel against hypocrisy are one and all nothing but the expansion of the threatening that closes the Third Commandment. For as "the name whereby He shall be called is the Lord our Righteousness,"—so the taking that name in vain is the sum of "the deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish."

Without dwelling on the possibility—which I do not myself, however, for a moment doubt—of an honest clergyman's being able actually to prevent the entrance among his congregation of persons leading openly wicked lives, could any subject be more vital to the purposes of your meetings than the difference between the present and the probable state of the Christian Church which would result, were it more the effort of zealous parish priests, instead of getting wicked poor people to come to church, to get wicked rich ones to stay out of it?

Lest, in any discussion of such question, it might be, as it too often is, alleged that "the Lord looketh upon the heart," etc., let me be permitted to say—with as much positiveness[Pg 389] as may express my deepest conviction—that, while indeed it is the Lord's business to look upon the heart, it is the pastor's to look upon the hands and the lips; and that the foulest oaths of the thief and the street-walker are, in the ears of God, sinless as the hawk's cry, or the gnat's murmur, compared to the responses in the Church service, on the lips of the usurer and the adulterer, who have destroyed, not their own souls only, but those of the outcast ones whom they have made their victims.

It is for the meeting of clergymen themselves—not for a layman addressing them—to ask further, how much the name of God may be taken in vain, and profaned instead of hallowed—in the pulpit, as well as under it.

Ever affectionately yours,
J. Ruskin.


ελθἑτω η Βασιλεἱα σου

Adveniat regnum tuum.

Brantwood, 14th July, 1879.

232. Dear Mr. Malleson,—Sincere thanks for both your letters and the proofs[159] sent. Your comment and conducting link, when needed, will be of the greatest help and value, I am well assured, suggesting what you know will be the probable feeling of your hearers, and the point that will come into question.

Yes, certainly, that "His" in the fourth line was meant to imply that eternal presence of Christ; as in another passage,[160][Pg 390] referring to the Creation, "when His right hand strewed the snow on Lebanon, and smoothed the slopes of Calvary," but in so far as we dwell on that truth, "Hast thou seen Me, Philip, and not the Father?"[161] we are not teaching the people what is specially the Gospel of Christ as having a distinct function—namely, to serve the Father, and do the Father's will. And in all His human relations to us, and commands to us, it is as the Son of Man, not as the "power of God and wisdom of God," that He acts and speaks. Not as the Power; for He must pray, like one of us. Not as the Wisdom; for He must not know "if it be possible" His prayer should be heard.

233. And in what I want to say of the third clause of His prayer (His, not merely as His ordering, but His using), it is especially this comparison between His kingdom, and His Father's, that I want to see the disciples guarded against. I believe very few, even of the most earnest, using that petition, realize that it is the Father's—not the Son's—kingdom,[Pg 391] that they pray may come,—although the whole prayer is foundational on that fact: "For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory." And I fancy that the mind of the most faithful Christian is quite led away from its proper hope, by dwelling on the reign—or the coming again—of Christ; which, indeed, they are to look for, and watch for, but not to pray for. Their prayer is to be for the greater kingdom to which He, risen and having all His enemies under His feet, is to surrender His, "that God may be All in All."

And, though the greatest, it is that everlasting kingdom which the poorest of us can advance. We cannot hasten Christ's coming. "Of the day and hour, knoweth none." But the kingdom of God is as a grain of mustard seed:—we can sow of it; it is as a foam-globe of leaven:—we can mingle it; and its glory and its joy are that even the birds of the air can lodge in the branches thereof.

Forgive me for getting back to my sparrows; but truly, in the present state of England, the fowls of the air are the only creatures, tormented and murdered as they are, that yet have here and there nests, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. And it would be well if many of us, in reading that text, "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink," had even got so far as to the understanding that it was at least as much, and that until we had fed the hungry, there was no power in us to inspire the unhappy.

Ever affectionately yours,
J. Ruskin.

I will write my feeling about the pieces of the Life of Christ you have sent me, in a private letter. I may say at once that I am sure it will do much good, and will be upright and intelligible, which how few religious writings are![Pg 392]


γενηθἡτω το θἑλημἁ σου ως εν ουρανὡ, και επἱ γἡς.

Fiat voluntas tua sicut in caelo et in terra.

Brantwood, 9th August, 1879.

234. I was reading the second chapter of Malachi this morning by chance, and wondering how many clergymen ever read it, and took to heart the "commandment for them."

For they are always ready enough to call themselves priests (though they know themselves to be nothing of the sort) whenever there is any dignity to be got out of the title; but, whenever there is any good, hot scolding or unpleasant advice given them by the prophets, in that self-assumed character of theirs, they are as ready to quit it as ever Dionysus his lion-skin, when he finds the character of Herakles inconvenient. "Ye have wearied the Lord with your words" (yes, and some of His people, too, in your time): "yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied Him? When ye say, Everyone that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?"

How many, again and again I wonder, of the lively young ecclesiastics supplied to the increasing demand of our west-ends of flourishing Cities of the Plain, ever consider what sort of sin it is for which God (unless they lay it to heart) will "curse their blessings, and spread dung upon their faces," or have understood, even in the dimmest manner, what part they had taken, and were taking, in "corrupting the covenant of the Lord with Levi, and causing many to stumble at the Law"?

235. Perhaps the most subtle and unconscious way which the religious teachers upon whom the ends of the world are come, have done this, is in never telling their people the meaning of the clause in the Lord's Prayer, which, of all others, their most earnest hearers have oftenest on their lips: "Thy will be done." They allow their people to use it as if their[Pg 393] Father's will were always to kill their babies, or do something unpleasant to them, instead of explaining to them that the first and intensest article of their Father's will was their own sanctification, and following comfort and wealth; and that the one only path to national prosperity and to domestic peace was to understand what the will of the Lord was, and to do all they could to get it done. Whereas one would think, by the tone of the eagerest preachers nowadays, that they held their blessed office to be that, not of showing men how to do their Father's will on earth, but how to get to heaven without doing any of it either here or there!

236. I say, especially, the most eager preachers; for nearly the whole Missionary body (with the hottest Evangelistic sect of the English Church) is at this moment composed of men who think the Gospel they are to carry to mend the world with, forsooth, is that, "If any man sin, he hath an Advocate with the Father;" while I have never yet, in my own experience, met either with a Missionary or a Town Bishop who so much as professed himself "to understand what the will of the Lord" was, far less to teach anybody else to do it; and for fifty preachers, yes, and fifty hundreds whom I have heard proclaiming the Mediator of the New Testament, that "they which were called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance," I have never yet heard so much as one heartily proclaiming against all those "deceivers with vain words" (Eph. v. 6), that "no covetous person which is an idolater hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ, or of God;" and on myself personally and publicly challenging the Bishops of England generally, and by name the Bishop of Manchester, to say whether usury was, or was not, according to the will of God, I have received no answer from any one of them.[162]

13th August.

237. I have allowed myself, in the beginning of this letter, to dwell on the equivocal use of the word "Priest" in the[Pg 394] English Church (see Christopher Harvey, Grosart's edition, p. 38), because the assumption of the mediatorial, in defect of the pastoral, office by the clergy fulfill itself, naturally and always, in their pretending to absolve the sinner from his punishment, instead of purging him from his sin; and practically, in their general patronage and encouragement of all the iniquity of the world, by steadily preaching away the penalties of it. So that the great cities of the earth, which ought to be the places set on its hills, with the temple of the Lord in the midst of them, to which the tribes should go up,[163]—centers to the Kingdoms and Provinces of Honor, Virtue, and the Knowledge of the law of God,—have become, instead, loathsome centers of fornication and covetousness—the smoke of their sin going up into the face of Heaven like the furnace of Sodom, and the pollution of it rotting and raging through the bones and the souls of the peasant people round them, as if they were each a volcano whose ashes broke out in blains upon man and upon beast.[164]

And in the midst of them, their freshly-set-tip steeples ring the crowd to a weekly prayer that the rest of their lives may be pure and holy, while they have not the slightest intention of purifying, sanctifying, or changing their lives in any the smallest particular; and their clergy gather, each into himself, the curious dual power, and Janus-faced majesty in mischief, of the prophet that prophesies falsely, and the priest that bears rule by his means.

And the people love to have it so.

Brantwood, 12th August.

I am very glad of your little note from Brighton. I thought it needless to send the two letters there, which you will find at home; and they pretty nearly end all I want to say; for the remaining clauses of the prayer touch on things[Pg 395] too high for me. But I will send you one concluding letter about them.


τον αρτον ημὡν τον επιοὑσιον δος ημἱν σἡμερον.

Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie.

Brantwood, 19th August.

238. I retained the foregoing letter by me till now, lest you should think it written in any haste or petulance; but it is every word of it deliberate, though expressing the bitterness of twenty years of vain sorrow and pleading concerning these things. Nor am I able to write, otherwise, anything of the next following clause of the prayer;—for no words could be burning enough to tell the evils which have come on the world from men's using it thoughtlessly and blasphemously, praying God to give them what they are deliberately resolved to steal. For all true Christianity is known—as its Master was—in breaking of bread, and all false Christianity in stealing it.

Let the clergyman only apply—with impartial and level sweep—to his congregation the great pastoral order: "The man that will not work, neither should he eat;" and be resolute in requiring each member of his flock to tell him what—day by day—they do to earn their dinners;—and he will find an entirely new view of life and its sacraments open upon him and them.

239. For the man who is not—day by day—doing work which will earn his dinner, must be stealing his dinner;[165] and the actual fact is that the great mass of men, calling themselves Christians, do actually live by robbing the poor of their bread, and by no other trade whatsoever: and the simple examination of the mode of the produce and consumption of European food—who digs for it, and who eats it—will prove that to any honest human soul.[Pg 396]

Nor is it possible for any Christian Church to exist but in pollutions and hypocrisies beyond all words, until the virtues of a life moderate in its self-indulgence, and wide in its offices of temporal ministry to the poor, are insisted on as the normal conditions in which, only, the prayer to God for the harvest of the earth is other than blasphemy.

In the second place. Since in the parable in Luke, the bread asked for is shown to be also, and chiefly, the Holy Spirit (Luke xi. 13), and the prayer, "Give us each day our daily bread," is, in its fullness, the disciples', "Lord, evermore give us this bread,"—the clergyman's question to his whole flock, primarily literal: "Children, have ye here any meat?" must ultimately be always the greater spiritual one: "Children, have ye here any Holy Spirit?" or, "Have ye not heard yet whether there be any? and, instead of a Holy Ghost the Lord and Giver of Life, do you only believe in an unholy mammon, Lord and Giver of Death?"

The opposition between the two Lords has been, and will be as long as the world lasts, absolute, irreconcilable, mortal; and the clergyman's first message to his people of this day is—if he be faithful—"Choose ye this day whom ye will serve."

Ever faithfully yours,
J. Ruskin.


και αφες ημιν τα οφειλἡματα ημων ως και ημιἑς αφἱεμεν τοις οφειλἑταις ημων

Et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.

Brantwood, 3rd September.

240. Dear Mr. Malleson,—I have been very long before trying to say so much as a word about the sixth clause of the Pater; for whenever I began thinking of it, I was stopped[Pg 397] by the sorrowful sense of the hopeless task you poor clergymen had, nowadays, in recommending and teaching people to love their enemies, when their whole energies were already devoted to swindling their friends.

But, in any days, past or now, the clause is one of such difficulty, that, to understand it, means almost to know the love of God which passeth knowledge.

But, at all events, it is surely the pastor's duty to prevent his flock from misunderstanding it; and above all things to keep them from supposing that God's forgiveness is to be had simply for the asking, by those who "willfully sin after they have received the knowledge of the truth."

241. There is one very simple lesson also, needed especially by people in circumstances of happy life, which I have never heard fully enforced from the pulpit, and which is usually the more lost sight of, because the fine and inaccurate word "trespasses" is so often used instead of the single and accurate one "debts." Among people well educated and happily circumstanced it may easily chance that long periods of their lives pass without any such conscious sin as could, on any discovery or memory of it, make them cry out, in truth and in pain,—"I have sinned against the Lord." But scarcely an hour of their happy days can pass over them without leaving—were their hearts open—some evidence written there that they have "left undone the things that they ought to have done," and giving them bitterer and heavier cause to cry, and cry again—forever, in the pure words of their Master's prayer, "Dimitte nobis debita nostra."

In connection with the more accurate translation of "debts" rather than "trespasses,"[166] it would surely be well to keep constantly in the mind of complacent and inoffensive congregations that in Christ's own prophecy of the manner of the last judgment, the condemnation is pronounced only on the sins of omission: "I was hungry, and ye gave Me no meat."[Pg 398]

242. But, whatever the manner of sin, by offense or defect, which the preacher fears in his people, surely he has of late been wholly remiss in compelling their definite recognition of it, in its several and personal particulars. Nothing in the various inconsistency of human nature is more grotesque than its willingness to be taxed with any quantity of sins in the gross, and its resentment at the insinuation of having committed the smallest parcel of them in detail. And the English Liturgy, evidently drawn up with the amiable intention of making religion as pleasant as possible, to a people desirous of saving their souls with no great degree of personal inconvenience, is perhaps in no point more unwholesomely lenient than in its concession to the popular conviction that we may obtain the present advantage, and escape the future punishment, of any sort of iniquity, by dexterously concealing the manner of it from man, and triumphantly confessing the quantity of it to God.

243. Finally, whatever the advantages and decencies of a form of prayer, and how wide soever the scope given to its collected passages, it cannot be at one and the same time fitted for the use of a body of well-taught and experienced Christians, such as should join the services of a Church nineteen centuries old,—and adapted to the needs of the timid sinner who has that day first entered its porch, or of the remorseful publican who has only recently become sensible of his call to a pew.

And surely our clergy need not be surprised at the daily increasing distrust in the public mind of the efficacy of Prayer, after having so long insisted on their offering supplication, at least every Sunday morning at eleven o'clock, that the rest of their lives hereafter might be pure and holy, leaving them conscious all the while that they would be similarly required to inform the Lord next week, at the same hour, that "there was no health in them!"

Among, the much-rebuked follies and abuses of so-called "Ritualism," none that I have heard of are indeed so dangerously and darkly "Ritual" as this piece of authorized[Pg 399] mockery of the most solemn act of human life, and only entrance of eternal life—Repentance.

Believe me, dear Mr. Malleson,

Ever faithfully and respectfully yours,
J. Ruskin.


και μη εισενἑγκης ημας εις πειρασὁν, αλλἁ ρυσαι ημας απο του ονηρου οτι σου εστιν η βασιλεἱα, και η δυναμις, και η δὁξα, εις τους αιὡνας. Αμἡν.

Et ne nos inducas in tentationem; sed libera nos a malo; quia tuum est regnum, potentia, et gloria in sceeula sceculorum. Amen.

Brantwood, 14th September, 1879.

244. Dear Mr. Malleson,—The gentle words in your last letter referring to the difference between yourself and me in the degree of hope with which you could regard what could not but appear to the general mind Utopian in designs for the action of the Christian Church, surely might best be answered by appeal to the consistent tone of the prayer we have been examining.

Is not every one of its petitions for a perfect state? and is not this last clause of it, of which we are to think to-day—if fully understood—a petition not only for the restoration of Paradise, but of Paradise in which there shall be no deadly fruit, or, at least, no tempter to praise it? And may we not admit that it is probably only for want of the earnest use of this last petition that not only the preceding ones have become formal with us, but that the private and simply restricted prayer for the little things we each severally desire, has become by some Christians dreaded and unused, and by others used faithlessly, and therefore with disappointment?

245. And is it not for want of this special directness and simplicity of petition, and of the sense of its acceptance, that the whole nature of prayer has been doubted in our hearts, and disgraced by our lips; that we are afraid to ask God's[Pg 400] blessing on the earth, when the scientific people tell us He has made previous arrangements to curse it; and that, instead of obeying, without fear or debate, the plain order, "Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full," we sorrowfully sink back into the apology for prayer, that "it is a wholesome exercise, even when fruitless," and that we ought piously always to suppose that the text really means no more than "Ask, and ye shall not receive, that your joy may be empty"?

Supposing we were first all of us quite sure that we had prayed, honestly, the prayer against temptation, and that we would thankfully be refused anything we had set our hearts upon, if indeed God saw that it would lead us into evil, might we not have confidence afterwards that He in whose hand the king's heart is, as the rivers of water, would turn our tiny little hearts also in the way that they should go, and that then the special prayer for the joys He taught them to seek would be answered to the last syllable, and to overflowing?

246. It is surely scarcely necessary to say, farther, what the holy teachers of all nations have invariably concurred in showing,—that faithful prayer implies always correlative exertion; and that no man can ask honestly or hopefully to be delivered from temptation, unless he has himself honestly and firmly determined to do the best he can to keep out of it. But, in modern days, the first aim of all Christian parents is to place their children in circumstances where the temptations (which they are apt to call "opportunities") may be as great and as many as possible; where the sight and promise of "all these things" in Satan's gift may be brilliantly near; and where the act of "falling down to worship me" may be partly concealed by the shelter, and partly excused, as involuntary, by the pressure, of the concurrent crowd.

In what respect the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, differ from the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory, which are God's forever, is seldom, as far as I have heard, intelligibly explained from the pulpit; and still less the irreconcilable hostility between the two royalties and realms asserted in its sternness of decision.[Pg 401]

Whether it be, indeed, Utopian to believe that the kingdom we are taught to pray for may come—verily come—for the asking, it is surely not for man to judge; but it is at least at his choice to resolve that he will no longer render obedience, nor ascribe glory and power, to the Devil. If he cannot find strength in himself to advance towards Heaven, he may at least say to the power of Hell, "Get thee behind me;" and staying himself on the testimony of Him who saith, "Surely I come quickly," ratify his happy prayer with the faithful "Amen, even so, come, Lord Jesus."

Ever, my dear friend,
Believe me affectionately and gratefully yours,
J. Ruskin.

Note.—The following further letters from Mr. Ruskin to Mr. Malleson were printed in "Letters to the Clergy."

Sept. 13th.

247. Dear Mr. Malleson,—I am so very grateful for your proposal to edit the letters without any further reference to me. I think that will be exactly the right way; and I believe I can put you at real ease in the doing of it, by explaining, as I can in very few words, the kind of carte blanche I should rejoicingly give you.

Interrupted to-day! more to-morrow with, I hope, the last letter.

J. Ruskin.

14th Sept.

I've nearly done the last letter, but will keep it till to-morrow, rather than finish hurriedly, for the first post. Your nice little note has just come; and I can only say that you cannot please me better than by acting with perfect freedom in all ways; and that I only want to see, or reply to, what you wish me for the matter's sake. And surely there is no occasion for any thought or waste of type about me personally, except only to express your knowledge of my real[Pg 402] desire for the health and power of the Church, More than this praise you must not give me; for I have learned almost everything, I may say, that I know, by my errors.

I am affectionately yours,
J. Ruskin.

17th Oct.

248. I am thankful to see that the letters read clearly and easily, and contain all that was in my mind to get said; and nothing can possibly be more right in every way than the printing and binding,[167] nor more courteous and firm than your preface.

Yes, there will be a chasm to cross—a tauriformis Aufidus[168]—greater than Rubicon, and the roar of it for many a year has been heard in the distance, through the gathering fog on the earth, more loudly.

The River of spiritual Death to this world, and entrance to Purgatory in the other, come down to us.

When will the feet of the Priests be dipped in the still brim of the water? Jordan overflows his banks already.

When you have put your large edition, with its correspondence, into press, I should like to read the sheets as they are issued; and put merely letters of reference to be taken up in a short "Epilogue." But I don't want to do or say anything more till you have all in perfect readiness for publication. I should merely add my reference letters in the margin, and the shortest possible notes at the end.

J. Ruskin. [Pg 403]


[153] These letters were written by Mr. Ruskin to the Rev. F. A. Malleson, Vicar of Broughton-in-Furness, by whom they were read, after a few introductory remarks, before the Furness Clerical Society. They originated, as may be gathered from the first of them, in a request by Mr. Malleson that Mr. Ruskin would address the society on the subject. They have been printed in three forms:—(1) in a small pamphlet (October 1879) "for private circulation only," among the members of the Furness and one or two other clerical societies; (2) in the Contemporary Review of December 1879; (3) in a volume (Strahan & Co., 1880) entitled "The Lord's Prayer and the Church," and containing also various replies to Mr, Ruskin's letters, and an epilogue by way of rejoinder by Mr. Ruskin himself. This volume was edited by Mr. Malleson, with whose concurrence Mr. Ruskin's contributions to it are reprinted here.—Ed.

[154] Called Letter II. in the Furness pamphlet,—where a note is added to the effect that there was a previous unpublished letter.—Ed.

[155] In answer to the proposal of discussing the subject during a mountain walk.—F. A. M.

[156] Art, xi.

[157] Homily xi. of the Second Table.

[158] "Arrows of the Chace."

[159] See postscript to this letter.—Ed.

[160] Referring to the closing sentence of the third paragraph of the fifth 'ter, which seemed to express what I felt could not be Mr. Ruskin's full meaning, I pointed out to him the following sentence in "Modern Painters:"—

"When, in the desert, Jesus was girding Himself for the work of life, angels of life came and ministered unto Him; now, in the fair world, when He is girding Himself for the work of death, the ministrants come to Him from the grave; but from the grave conquered. One from the tomb under Abarim, which His own hand had sealed long ago; the other from the rest which He had entered without seeing corruption."

On this I made a remark somewhat to the following effect: that I felt sure Mr. Ruskin regarded the loving work of the Father and of the Son to be equal in the forgiveness of sins and redemption of mankind; that what is done by the Father is in reality done also by the Son; and that it is by a mere accommodation to human infirmity of understanding that the doctrine of the Trinity is revealed to us in language, inadequate indeed to convey divine truths, but still the only language possible; and I asked whether some such feeling was not present in his mind when he used the pronoun "His," in the above passage from "Modern Painters," of the Son, where it would be usually understood of the Father; and as a corollary, whether, in the letter, he does not himself fully recognize the fact of the redemption of the world by the loving self-sacrifice of the Son in entire concurrence with the equally loving will of the Father. This, as well as I can recollect, is the origin of the passage in the second paragraph in the seventh letter.—F. A. M.

[161] The "Letters to the Clergy" adds note: "Yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father" (John xiv. 9).—Ed.

[162] Fors Clavigera, Letter lxxxii. (See ante, § 148.—Ed.)

[163] "Bibliotheca Pastorum," Vol. i. "The Economist of Xenophon," Pref., p. xii—Ed.

[164] See ante, p. 319, § 154; p. 330, § 166.—Ed.

[165] "Arrows of the Chace."

[166] "Arrows of the Chace."

[167] Referring to the first edition, printed for private circulation.—F. A. M.


"Sic tauriformis volvitur Aufidus,
Qua regna Dauni praefluit Appuli
Quum saevit, horrendamque cultis
Diluviem meditatur agris."

—Hor., Carm., iv. 14.


Brantwood, Coniston, June 1880.

249. My dear Malleson,—I have glanced at the proofs you send; and can do no more than glance, even if it seemed to me desirable that I should do more,—which, after said glance, it does in no wise. Let me remind you of what it is absolutely necessary that the readers of the book should clearly understand—that I wrote these Letters at your request, to be read and discussed at the meeting of a private society of clergymen. I declined then to be present at the discussion, and I decline still. You afterwards asked leave to print the Letters, to which I replied that they were yours, for whatever use you saw good to make of them: afterwards your plans expanded, while my own notion remained precisely what it had been—that the discussion should have been private, and kept within the limits of the society, and that its conclusions, if any, should have been announced in a few pages of clear print, for the parishioners' exclusive reading.

I am, of course, flattered by the wider course you have obtained for the Letters, but am not in the slightest degree interested by the debate upon them, nor by any religious debates whatever, undertaken without serious conviction that there is a jot wrong in matters as they are, or serious resolution to make them a tittle better. Which, so far as I can read the minds of your correspondents, appears to me the substantial state of them.[169][Pg 404]

250. One thing I cannot pass without protest—the quantity of talk about the writer of the Letters. What I am, or am not, is of no moment whatever to the matters in hand. I observe with comfort, or at least with complacency, that on the strength of a couple of hours' talk, at a time when I was thinking chiefly of the weatherings of slate you were good enough to show me above Goat's Water, you would have ventured to baptize me in the little lake—as not a goat, but a sheep. The best I can be sure of, myself, is that I am no wolf, and have never aspired to the dignity even of a Dog of the Lord.

You told me, if I remember rightly, that one of the members of the original meeting denounced me as an arch-heretic[170]—meaning, doubtless, an arch-pagan; for a heretic, or sect-maker, is of all terms of reproach the last that can be used of me. And I think he should have been answered that it was precisely as an arch-pagan that I ventured to request a more intelligible and more unanimous account of the Christian Gospel from its preachers.

251. If anything in the Letters offended those of you who hold me a brother, surely it had been best to tell me between ourselves, or to tell it to the Church, or to let me be Anathema Maranatha in peace,—in any case, I must at present so abide, correcting only the mistakes about myself which have led to graver ones about the things I wanted to speak of.[171]

The most singular one, perhaps, in all the Letters is that[Pg 405] of Mr. Wanstall's, that I do not attach enough weight to antiquity. I have only come upon the sentence to-day (29th May), but my reply to it is partly written already, with reference to the wishes of some other of your correspondents to know more of my reasons for finding fault with the English Liturgy.

252. If people are taught to use the Liturgy rightly and reverently, it will bring them all good; and for some thirty years of my life I used to read it always through to my servant and myself, if we had no Protestant church to go to, in Alpine or Italian villages. One can always tacitly pray of it what one wants, and let the rest pass. But, as I have grown older, and watched the decline in the Christian faith of all nations, I have got more and more suspicious of the effect of this particular form of words on the truthfulness of the English mind (now fast becoming a salt which has lost his savor, and is fit only to be trodden underfoot of men). And during the last ten years, in which my position at Oxford has compelled me to examine what authority there was[Pg 406] for the code of prayer, of which the University is now so ashamed that it no more dares compel its youths so much as to hear, much less to utter it, I got necessarily into the habit of always looking to the original forms of the prayers of the fully developed Christian Church. Nor did I think it a mere chance which placed in my own possession a manuscript of the perfect Church service of the thirteenth century, written by the monks of the Sainte Chapelle for St. Louis; together with one of the same date, written in England, probably for the Diocese of Lincoln; adding some of the Collects, in which it corresponds with St. Louis's, and the Latin hymns so much beloved by Dante, with the appointed music for them.

253. And my wonder has been greater every hour, since I examined closely the text of these and other early books, that in any state of declining, or captive, energy, the Church of England should have contented itself with a service which cast out, from beginning to end, all these intensely spiritual and passionate utterances of chanted prayer (the whole body, that is to say, of the authentic Christian Psalms), and in adopting what it timidly preserved of the Collects, mangled or blunted them down to the exact degree which would make them either unintelligible or inoffensive—so vague that everybody might use them, or so pointless that nobody could be offended by them. For a special instance: The prayer for "our bishops and curates, and all congregations committed to their charge," is, in the Lincoln Service-book, "for our bishop, and all congregations committed to his charge." The change from singular to plural seems a slight one. But it suffices to take the eyes of the people off their own bishop into infinite space; to change a prayer which was intended to be uttered in personal anxiety and affection, into one for the general good of the Church, of which nobody could judge, and for which nobody would particularly care; and, finally, to change a prayer to which the answer, if given, would be visible, into one of which nobody could tell whether it were answered or not.[Pg 407]

254. In the Collects, the change, though verbally slight, is thus tremendous in issue. But in the Litany—word and thought go all wild together. The first prayer of the Litany in the Lincoln Service-book is for the Pope and all ranks beneath him, implying a very noteworthy piece of theology—that the Pope might err in religious matters, and that the prayer of the humblest servant of God would be useful to him:—"Ut Dompnum Apostolicum, et omnes gradus ecclesie in sancta religione conservare digneris." Meaning that whatever errors particular persons might, and must, fall into, they prayed God to keep the Pope right, and the collective testimony and conduct of the ranks below him. Then follows the prayer for their own bishop and his flock—then for the king and the princes (chief lords), that they (not all nations) might be kept in concord—and then for our bishops and abbots,—the Church of England proper; every one of these petitions being direct, limited, and personally heartfelt;—and then this lovely one for themselves:—

"Ut obsequium servitutis nostre rationabile facias."—"That Thou wouldst make the obedience of our service reasonable" ("which is your reasonable service").

This glorious prayer is, I believe, accurately an "early English" one. It is not in the St. Louis Litany, nor in a later elaborate French fourteenth century one; but I find it softened in an Italian MS. of the fifteenth century into "ut nosmet ipsos in tuo sancto servitio confortare et conservare digneris,"—"that Thou wouldst deign to keep and comfort us ourselves in Thy sacred service" (the comfort, observe, being here asked for whether reasonable or not!); and in the best and fullest French service-book I have, printed at Rouen in 1520, it becomes, "ut congregationes omnium sanctorum in tuo sancto servitio conservare digneris;" while victory as well as concord is asked for the king and the princes,—thus leading the way to that for our own Queen's victory over all her enemies, a prayer which might now be advisedly altered into one that she—and in her, the monarchy of England—might find more fidelity in their friends.[Pg 408]

255. I give one more example of the corruption of our Prayer-Book, with reference to the objections taken by some of your correspondents to the distinction implied in my Letters between the Persons of the Father and the Christ.

The "Memoria de Sancta Trinitate," in the St. Louis service-book, runs thus:—

"Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui dedisti famulis tuis in confessione vere fidei eterne Trinitatis gloriam agnoscere, et in potentia majestatis adorare unitatem, quesumus ut ejus fidei firmitate ab omnibus semper muniemur adversis. Qui vivis et regnas Deus, per omnia secula seculorum. Amen."

"Almighty and everlasting God, who has given to Thy servants, in confession of true faith to recognize the glory of the Eternal Trinity, and in the power of Majesty to pray to the Unity; we ask that by the firmness of that faith we may be always defended from all adverse things, who livest and reignest God through all ages. Amen."

256. Turning to our Collect, we find we have first slipped in the word "us" before "Thy servants," and by that little insertion have slipped in the squire and his jockey, and the public-house landlord—and anyone else who may chance to have been coaxed, swept, or threatened into Church on Trinity Sunday, and required the entire company of them to profess themselves servants of God, and believers in the mystery of the Trinity. And we think we have done God a service!

"Grace." Not a word about grace in the original. You don't believe by having grace, but by having wit.

"To acknowledge." "Agnosco" is to recognize, not to acknowledge. To see that there are three lights in a chandelier is a great deal more than to acknowledge that they are there.

"To worship." "Adorare" is to pray to, not to worship. You may worship a mere magistrate; but you pray to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

The last sentence in the English is too horribly mutilated to be dealt with in any patience. The meaning of the great[Pg 409] old collect is that by the shield of that faith we may quench all the fiery darts of the devil. The English prayer means, if it means anything, "Please keep us in our faith without our taking any trouble; and, besides, please don't let us lose our money, nor catch cold."

"Who livest and reignest." Right; but how many of any extant or instant congregations understand what the two words mean? That God is a living God, not a dead Law; and that He is a reigning God, putting wrong things to rights, and that, sooner or later, with a strong hand and a rod of iron; and not at all with a soft sponge and warm water, washing everybody as clean as a baby every Sunday morning, whatever dirty work they may have been about all the week.

257. On which latter supposition your modern Liturgy, in so far as it has supplemented instead of corrected the old one, has entirely modeled itself,—producing in its first address to the congregation before the Almighty precisely the faultfulest and foolishest piece of English language that I know in the whole compass of English or American literature. In the seventeen lines of it (as printed in my old-fashioned, large-print Prayer-Book), there are seven times over two words for one idea.

1. Acknowledge and confess.

2. Sins and wickedness.

3. Dissemble nor cloke.

4. Goodness and mercy.

5. Assemble and meet.

6. Requisite and necessary.

7. Pray and beseech.

There is, indeed, a shade of difference in some of these ideas for a good scholar, none for a general congregation;[172][Pg 410] and what difference they can guess at merely muddles their heads: to acknowledge sin is indeed different from confessing it, but it cannot be done at a minute's notice; and goodness is a different thing from mercy, but it is by no means God's infinite goodness that forgives our badness, but that judges it.

258. "The faultfulest," I said, "and the foolishest." After using fourteen words where seven would have done, what is it that the whole speech gets said with its much speaking? This Morning Service of all England begins with the assertion that the Scripture moveth us in sundry places to confess our sins before God. Does it so? Have your congregations ever been referred to those sundry places? Or do they take the assertion on trust, or remain under the impression that, unless with the advantage of their own candor, God must remain ill-informed on the subject of their sins?

"That we should not dissemble nor cloke them." Can we then? Are these grown-up congregations of the enlightened English Church in the nineteenth century still so young in their nurseries that the "Thou, God, seest me" is still not believed by them if they get under the bed?

259. Let us look up the sundry moving passages referred to.

(I suppose myself a simple lamb of the flock, and only able to use my English Bible.)

I find in my concordance (confess and confession together) forty-two occurrences of the word. Sixteen of these, including John's confession that he was not the Christ, and the confession of the faithful fathers that they were pilgrims on the earth, do indeed move us strongly to confess Christ before men. Have you ever taught your congregations what that confession means? They are ready enough to confess Him in church, that is to say, in their own private synagogue.[Pg 411] Will they in Parliament? Will they in a ballroom? Will they in a shop? Sixteen of the texts are to enforce their doing that.

The most important one (1 Tim. vi. 13) refers to Christ's own good confession, which I suppose was not of His sins, but of His obedience. How many of your congregations can make any such kind of confession, or wish to make it?

The eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth (1 Kings viii. 33, 2 Chron. vi. 26, Heb. xiii. 15) speak of confessing thankfully that God is God (and not a putrid plasma nor a theory of development), and the twenty-first (Job xl. 14) speaks of God's own confession, that no doubt we are the people, and that wisdom shall die with us, and on what conditions He will make it.

260. There remains twenty-one texts which do speak of the confession of our sins—very moving ones indeed—and Heaven grant that some day the British public may be moved by them.

(1.) The first is Lev. v. 5, "He shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing." And if you can get any soul of your congregation to say he has sinned in anything, he may do it in two words for one if he likes, and it will yet be good liturgy.

(2.) The second is indeed general—Lev. xvi. 21: the command that the whole nation should afflict its soul on the great day of atonement once a year. The Church of England, I believe, enjoins no such unpleasant ceremony. Her festivals are passed by her people often indeed in the extinction of their souls, but by no means in their intentional affliction.

(3, 4, 5.) The third, fourth, and fifth (Lev. xxvi. 40, Numb. v. 7, Nehem. i. 6) refer all to national humiliation for definite idolatry, accompanied with an entire abandonment of that idolatry, and of idolatrous persons. How soon that form of confession is likely to find a place in the English congregations the defenses of their main idol, mammon, in the vilest and cruelest shape of it—usury—with which this book has been defiled, show very sufficiently.[Pg 412]

261. (6.) The sixth is Psalm xxxii. 5—virtually the whole of that psalm, which does, indeed, entirely refer to the greater confession, once for all opening the heart to God, which can be by no means done fifty-two times a year, and which, once done, puts men into a state in which they will never again say there is no health in them; nor that their hearts are desperately wicked; but will obey forever the instantly following order, "Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous, and shout for joy, all ye that are true of heart."

(7.) The seventh (Acts xxiv. 14) is the one confession in which I can myself share:—"After the way which they call heresy, so worship I the Lord God of my fathers."

(8.) The eighth (James v. 16) tells us to confess our faults—not to God, but "one to another"—a practice not favored by English catechumens—(by the way, what do you all mean by "auricular" confession—confession that can be heard? and is the Protestant pleasanter form one that can't be?)

(9.) The ninth is that passage of St. John (i. 9), the favorite evangelical text, which is read and preached by thousands of false preachers every day, without once going on to read its great companion, "Beloved, if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things; but if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God." Make your people understand the second text, and they will understand the first. At present you leave them understanding neither.

262. And the entire body of the remaining texts is summed in Joshua vii. 19 and Ezra x. 11, in which, whether it be Achan, with his Babylonish garment, or the people of Israel, with their Babylonish lusts, the meaning of confession is simply what it is to every brave boy, girl, man, and woman, who knows the meaning of the word "honor" before God or man—namely, to say what they have done wrong, and to take the punishment of it (not to get it blanched over by any means), and to do it no more—which is so far from being a tone of mind generally enforced either by the English, or[Pg 413] any other extant Liturgy, that, though all my maids are exceedingly pious, and insist on the privilege of going to church as a quite inviolable one, I think it a scarcely to be hoped for crown and consummation of virtue in them that they should tell me when they have broken a plate; and I should expect to be met only with looks of indignation and astonishment if I ventured to ask one of them how she had spent her Sunday afternoon.

"Without courage," said Sir Walter Scott, "there is no truth; and without truth there is no virtue." The sentence would have been itself more true if Sir Walter had written "candor" for "truth," for it is possible to be true in insolence, or true in cruelty. But in looking back from the ridges of the Hill Difficulty in my own past life, and in all the vision that has been given me of the wanderings in the ways of others—this, of all principles, has become to me surest—that the first virtue to be required of man is frankness of heart and lip: and I believe that every youth of sense and honor, putting himself to faithful question, would feel that he had the devil for confessor, if he had not his father or his friend.

263. That a clergyman should ever be so truly the friend of his parishioners as to deserve their confidence from childhood upwards, may be flouted as a sentimental ideal; but he is assuredly only their enemy in showing his Lutheran detestation of the sale of indulgences by broadcasting these gratis from his pulpit.

The inconvenience and unpleasantness of a catechism concerning itself with the personal practice as well as the general theory of duty, are indeed perfectly conceivable by me: yet I am not convinced that such manner of catechism would therefore be less medicinal; and during the past ten years it has often been matter of amazed thought with me, while our President at Corpus read prayers to the chapel benches, what might by this time have been the effect on the learning as well as the creed of the University, if, forty years ago, our stern old Dean Gaisford, of the House of[Pg 414] Christ, instead of sending us to chapel as to the house of correction, when we missed a lecture, had inquired, before he allowed us to come to chapel at all, whether we were gamblers, harlot-mongers, or in concealed and selfish debt.

264. I observe with extreme surprise in the preceding letters the unconsciousness of some of your correspondents, that there ever was such a thing as discipline in the Christian Church. Indeed, the last wholesome instance of it I can remember was when my own great-great uncle Maitland lifted Lady —— from his altar-rails, and led her back to her seat before the congregation, when she offered to take the Sacrament, being at enmity with her son.[173] But I believe a few hours honestly spent by any clergyman on his Church history would show him that the Church's confidence in her prayer has been always exactly proportionate to the strictness of her discipline; that her present fright at being caught praying by a chemist or an electrician, results mainly from her having allowed her twos and threes gathered in the name of Christ to become sixes and sevens gathered in the name of Belial; and that therefore her now needfulest duty is to explain to her stammering votaries, extremely doubtful as they are of the effect of their supplications either on politics or the weather, that although Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, he had them better under command; and that while the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much, the formal and lukewarm one of an iniquitous man availeth—much the other way.

Such an instruction, coupled with due explanation of the[Pg 415] nature of righteousness and iniquity, directed mainly to those who have the power of both in their own hands, being makers of law, and holders of property, would, without any further debate, bring about a very singular change in the position and respectability of English clergymen.

265. How far they may at present be considered as merely the Squire's left hand, bound to know nothing of what he is doing with his right, it is for their own consciences to determine.

For instance, a friend wrote to me the other day, "Will you not come here? You will see a noble duke destroying a village as old as the Conquest, and driving out dozens of families whose names are in Domesday Book, because, owing to the neglect of his ancestors and rackrenting for a hundred years, the place has fallen out of repair, and the people are poor, and may become paupers. A local paper ventured to tell the truth. The duke's agent called on the editor, and threatened him with destruction if he did not hold his tongue." The noble duke, doubtless, has proper Protestant horror of auricular confession. But suppose, instead of the local editor, the local parson had ventured to tell the truth from his pulpit, and even to intimate to his Grace that he might no longer receive the Body and Blood of the Lord at the altar of that parish! The parson would scarcely—in these days—have been therefore made bonfire of, and had a pretty martyr's memorial by Mr. Scott's pupils; but he would have lighted a goodly light, nevertheless, in this England of ours, whose pettifogging piety has now neither the courage to deny a duke's grace in its church, nor to declare Christ's in its Parliament.

266. Lastly. Several of your contributors, I observe, have rashly dipped their feet in the brim of the water of that raging question of Usury; and I cannot but express my extreme regret that you should yourself have yielded to the temptation of expressing opinions which you have had no leisure either to sound or to test. My assertion, however, that the[Pg 416] rich lived mainly by robbing the poor, referred not to Usury, but to Rent; and the facts respecting both these methods of extortion are perfectly and indubitably ascertainable by any person who himself wishes to ascertain them, and is able to take the necessary time and pains. I see no sign, throughout the whole of these letters, of any wish whatever, on the part of one of their writers, to ascertain the facts, but only to defend practices which they hold to be convenient in the world, and are afraid to blame in their congregations. Of the presumption with which several of the writers utter their notions on the subject, I do not think it would be right to speak farther, in an epilogue to which there is no reply, in the terms which otherwise would have been deserved. In their bearing on other topics, let me earnestly thank you (so far as my own feelings may be permitted voice in the matter) for the attention with which you have examined, and the courage with which you have ratified, or at least endured, letters which could not but bear at first the aspect of being written in a hostile—sometimes even in a mocking spirit. That aspect is untrue, nor am I answerable for it: the things of which I had to speak could not be shortly described but in terms which might sound satirical; for all error, if frankly shown, is precisely most ridiculous when it is most dangerous, and I have written no word which is not chosen as the exactest for its occasion, whether it move sigh or smile. In my earlier days I wrote much with the desire to please, and the hope of influencing the reader. As I grow older and older, I recognize the truth of the Preacher's saying, "Desire shall fail, and the mourners go about the streets;" and I content myself with saying, to whoso it may concern, that the thing is verily thus, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear. No man more than I has ever loved the places where God's honor dwells, or yielded truer allegiance to the teaching of His evident servants. No man at this time grieves more for the danger of the Church which supposes him her enemy, while she whispers procrastinating pax[Pg 417] vobiscum in answer to the spurious kiss of those who would fain toll curfew over the last fires of English faith, and watch the sparrow find nest where she may lay her young, around the altars of the Lord.

Ever affectionately yours,
J. Ruskin. [Pg 418]


[169] The following extracts from letters of Mr. Ruskin to Mr. Malleson were printed in the "Letters to the Clergy":—

"14th May, 1880.—My dear Malleson, ... I had never seen yours at all when I wrote last. I fell first on ——, whom I read with some attention, and commented on with little favor; went on to the next, and remained content with that taste till I had done my Scott (Nineteenth Century).

"I have this morning been reading your own, on which I very earnestly congratulate you. God knows it is not because they are friendly or complimentary, but because you do see what I mean; and people hardly ever do; and I think it needs very considerable power and feeling to forgive and understand as you do. You have said everything I want to say, and much more, except on the one point of excommunication, which will be the chief, almost the only, subject of my final note."

"16th May.—Yes, the omission of the 'Mr.' meant much change in all my feelings towards you and estimates of you; for which change, believe me, I am more glad and thankful than I can well tell you.

"J. Ruskin."

[170] Only a heretic!—F. A. M.

[171] I may perhaps be pardoned for vindicating-at least my arithmetic, which, with Bishop Colenso, I rather pride myself upon. One of your correspondents greatly doubts my having heard five thousand asserters of evangelical principles (Catholic-absolvent or Protestant-detergent are virtually the same). I am now sixty years old, and for forty-five of them was in church at least once on the Sunday,—say once a month also in afternoons,—and you have above three thousand church services. When I am abroad I am often in half-a-dozen churches in the course of a single day, and never lose a chance of listening to anything that is going on. Add the conversations pursued, not unearnestly, with every sort of reverend person I can get to talk to me—from the Bishop of Strasburg (as good a specimen of a town bishop as I have known), with whom I was studying ecstatic paintings in the year 1850—down to the simplest traveling tinker inclined Gospelwards, whom I perceive to be sincere, and your correspondent will perceive that my rapid numerical expression must be far beneath the truth. He subjoins his more rational doubt of my acquaintance with many town missionaries; to which I can only answer, that as I do not live in town, nor set up for a missionary myself, my spiritual advantages have certainly not been great in that direction. I simply assert that of the few I have known,—beginning with Mr. Spurgeon, under whom I sat with much edification for a year or two,—I have not known any such teaching as I speak of.

[172] The only explanation ever offered for this exuberant wordiness is that if worshipers did not understand one term they would the other, and in some cases, in the Exhortation and elsewhere, one word is of Latin and the other of Saxon derivation.[1] But this is surely a very feeble excuse for bad composition. Of a very different kind is that beautiful climax which is reached in the three admirably chosen pairs of words in the Prayer for the Parliament, "peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety."—F. A. M.

(Note 1: The repetition of synonymous terms is of very frequent occurrence in sixteenth century writing, as "for ever and aye," "Time and the hour run through the roughest day" (Macbeth, i. 3).)

[173] In some of the country districts of Scotland the right of the Church to interfere with the lives of private individuals is still exercised. Only two years ago, a wealthy gentleman farmer was rebuked by the "Kirk Session" of the Dissenting Church to which he belonged, for infidelity to his wife.

At the Scottish half-yearly Communion the ceremony of "fencing the tables" used to be observed; that is, turning away all those whose lives were supposed to have made them unfit to receive the Sacrament.


267. Every age of the world has its own special sins, and special simplicities; and among our own most particular humors in both kinds must be reckoned the tendency to parade our discoveries of the laws of Nature, as if nobody had ever heard of a law of Nature before.

The most curious result of this extremely absurd condition of mind is perhaps the alarm of religious persons on subjects of which one would have fancied most of the palpable difficulties had been settled before the nineteenth century. The theory of prayer, for instance, and of Miracles. I noticed a lengthy discussion in the newspapers a month or two ago, on the propriety of praying for, or against rain. It had suddenly, it seems, occurred to the public mind, and to that of the gentlemen who write the theology of the breakfast-table, that rain was owing to natural causes; and that it must be unreasonable to expect God to supply on our immediate demand what could not be provided but by previous evaporation. I noticed farther that this alarming difficulty was at least softened to some of our Metropolitan congregations by the assurances of their ministers, that, although, since the last lecture by Professor Tyndall at the Royal Institution, it had become impossible to think of asking God for any temporal blessing, they might still hope their applications for spiritual advantages would occasionally be successful;—thus implying that though material processes were necessarily slow, and the laws of Heaven respecting matter, inviolable, mental processes might be instantaneous, and mental laws at any moment disregarded by their Institutor: so that the spirit of a man might be brought to maturity in a mo[Pg 419]ment, though the resources of Omnipotence would be overtaxed, or its consistency abandoned, in the endeavor to produce the same result On a greengage.

More logically, though not more wisely, other divines have asserted that prayer is medicinally beneficial to ourselves, whether we obtain what we ask for or not; and that our moral state is gradually elevated by the habit of praying daily that the Kingdom of God may come,—though nothing would more astonish us than its coming.

268. With these doubts respecting the possibility or propriety of miracle, a more immediate difficulty occurs as to its actual nature or definition. What is the quality of any event which may be properly called "miraculous"? What are the degrees of wonderfulness?—what the surpassing degree of it, which changes the wonder into the sign, or may be positively recognized by human intelligence as an interruption, instead of a new operation, of those laws of Nature with which, of late, we have become so exhaustively acquainted? For my own part, I can only say that I am so haunted by doubt of the security of our best knowledge, and by discontent in the range of it, that it seems to me contrary to modesty, whether in a religious or scientific point of view, to regard anything as miraculous. I know so little, and this little I know is so inexplicable, that I dare not say anything is wonderful because it is strange to me, or not wonderful because it is familiar. I have not the slightest idea how I compel my hand to write these words, or my lips to read them: and the question which was the thesis of Mr. Ward's very interesting paper, "Can Experience prove the Uniformity of Nature?"[175] is, in my mind, so assuredly answerable with the negative which the writer appeared to desire, that, precisely on that ground, the performance of any so-called miracle whatever would be morally unimpressive to me. If a second Joshua to-morrow commanded the sun to stand still, and it obeyed him; and he therefore claimed deference as a miracle-worker, I am afraid I should answer, "What! a miracle that[Pg 420] the sun stands still?—not at all. I was always expecting it would. The only wonder, to me, was its going on."

269. But even assuming the demonstrable uniformity of the laws or customs of Nature which are known to us, it remains a difficult question what manner of interference with such law or custom we might logically hold miraculous, and what, on the contrary, we should treat only as proof of the existence of some other law, hitherto undiscovered.

For instance, there is a case authenticated by the signatures of several leading physicists in Paris, in which a peasant girl, under certain conditions of morbid excitement, was able to move objects at some distance from her without touching them. Taking the evidence for what it may be worth, the discovery of such a faculty would only, I suppose, justify us in concluding that some new vital energy was developing itself under the conditions of modern bodily health; and not that any interference with the laws of Nature had taken place. Yet the generally obstinate refusal of men of science to receive any verbal witness of such facts is a proof that they believe them contrary to a code of law which is more or less complete in their experience, and altogether complete in their conception; and I think it is therefore their province to lay down for us the true principle by which we may distinguish the miraculous violation of a known law from the sudden manifestation of an unknown one.

270. In the meantime, supposing ourselves ever so incapable of defining law, or discerning its interruption, we need not therefore lose our conception of the one, nor our faith in the other. Some of us may no more be able to know a genuine miracle, when we see it, than others to know a genuine picture; but the ordinary impulse to regard, therefore, all claim to miraculous power as imposture, or self-deception, reminds me always of the speech of a French lady to me, whose husband's collection of old pictures had brought unexpectedly low prices in the auction-room,—"How can you be so senseless," she said, "as to attach yourself to the study of an art in which you see that all excellence is a[Pg 421] mere matter of opinion?" Some of us have thus come to imagine that the laws of Nature, as well as those of Art, may be matters of opinion; and I recollect an ingenious paper by Mr. Frederic Harrison, some two years ago, on the "Subjective Synthesis,"—which, after proving, what does not seem to stand in need of so elaborate proof, that we can only know, of the universe, what we can see and understand, went on to state that the laws of Nature "were not objective realities, any more than they were absolute truths."[176] Which decision, it seems to me, is as if some modest and rational gnat, who had submitted to the humiliating conviction that it could know no more of the world than might be traversed by flight, or tasted by puncture, yet, in the course of an experiment on a philosopher with its proboscis, hearing him speak of the Institutes of Justinian, should observe, on its return to the society of gnats, that the Institutes of Justinian were not objective realities, any more than they were absolute truths. And, indeed, the careless use of the word "Truth" itself, often misleads even the most accurate thinkers. A law cannot be spoken of as a truth, either absolute or concrete. It is a law of nature, that is to say, of my own particular nature, that I fall asleep after dinner, and my confession of this fact is a truth; but the bad habit is no more a truth than the statement of it is a bad habit.

271. Nevertheless, in spite of the treachery of our conceptions and language, and in just conclusion even from our narrow experience, the conviction is fastened in our hearts that the habits or laws of Nature are more constant than our own and sustained by a firmer Intelligence: so that, without in the least claiming the faculty of recognition of miracle, we may securely define its essence. The phenomena of the universe with which we are acquainted are assumed to be, under general conditions, constant, but to be maintained in that constancy by a supreme personal Mind; and it is farther sup[Pg 422]posed that, under particular conditions, this ruling Person interrupts the constancy of these phenomena, in order to establish a particular relation with inferior creatures.

272. It is, indeed, singular how ready the inferior creatures are to imagine such a relation, without any very decisive evidence of its establishment. The entire question of miracle is involved with that of the special providences which are supposed, in some theories of religion, sometimes to confound the enemies, and always to protect the darlings of God: and in the minds of amiable persons, the natural and very justifiable sense of their own importance to the well-being of the world may often encourage the pleasant supposition that the Deity, however improvident for others, will be provident for them. I recollect a paper on this subject by Dr. Guthrie, published not long ago in some religious periodical, in which the writer mentioned, as a strikingly Providential circumstance, the catching of his foot on a ledge of rock which averted what might otherwise have been a fatal fall. Under the sense of the loss to the cause of religion and the society of Edinburgh, which might have been the consequence of the accident, it is natural that Dr. Guthrie should refer to it with strongly excited devotional feelings: yet, perhaps, with better reason, a junior member of the Alpine Club, less secure of the value of his life, would have been likely on the same occasion rather to be provoked by his own awkwardness, than impressed by the providential structure of the rock. At the root of every error on these subjects we may trace either an imperfect conception of the universality of Deity, or an exaggerated sense of individual importance: and yet it is no less certain that every train of thought likely to lead us in a right direction must be founded on the acknowledgment that the personality of a Deity who has commanded the doing of Justice and the showing of Mercy can be no otherwise manifested than in the signal support of causes which are just, and favor of persons who are kind. The beautiful tradition of the deaths of Cleobis and Bito, indeed, expresses the sense proper to the wisest men, that we are un[Pg 423]able either to discern or decide for ourselves in what the favor of God consists: but the promises of the Christian religion imply that its true disciples will be enabled to ask with prudence what is to be infallibly granted.

273. And, indeed, the relations between God and His creatures which it is the function of miracle to establish, depend far more on the correspondence of events with human volition than on the marvelous character of the events themselves. These relations are, in the main, twofold. Miracles are either to convince, or to assist. We are apt to think of them as meant only to establish faith, but many are for mere convenience of life. Elisha's making the ax-head swim, and the poisoned soup wholesome, were not to convince anybody, but merely to give help in the quickest way. Conviction is, indeed, in many of the most interesting miracles, quite a secondary end, and often an unattained one. The hungry multitude are fed, the ship in danger relieved by sudden calm. The disciples disregard the multiplying of the loaves, yet are strongly affected by the change in the weather.

But whether for conviction, aid (or aid in the terrific form of punishment), the essence of miracle is as the manifestation of a Power which can direct or modify the otherwise constant phenomena of Nature; and it is, I think, by attaching too great importance to what may be termed the missionary work of miracle, instead of what may in distinction be called its pastoral work, that many pious persons, no less than infidels, are apt to despise, and therefore to deny, miraculous power altogether.

274. "We do not need to be convinced," they say, "of the existence of God by the capricious exertion of His power. We are satisfied in the normal exertion of it; and it is contrary to the idea of His Excellent Majesty that there should be any other."

But all arguments and feelings must be distrusted which are founded on our own ideas of what it is proper for Deity to do. Nor can I, even according to our human modes of judgment, find any impropriety in the thought that an energy[Pg 424] may be natural without being normal, and Divine without being constant. The wise missionary may indeed require no miracle to confirm his authority; but the despised pastor may need miracle to enforce it, or the compassionate governor to make it beneficial. And it is quite possible to conceive of Pastoral Miracle as resulting from a power as natural as any other, though not as perpetual. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and some of the energies granted to men born of the Spirit may be manifested only on certain conditions and on rare occasions; and therefore be always wonderful or miraculous, though neither disorderly nor unnatural.

Thus St. Paul's argument to Agrippa, "Why should it be thought with you a thing impossible that God should raise the dead?" would be suicidal, if he meant to appeal to the miracle as a proof of the authority of his mission. But, claiming no authority, he announces as a probable and acceptable fact the opening of a dispensation in which it was as natural for the dead to be raised as for the Gospel to be preached to the poor, though both the one and the other were miraculous signs that the Master of Nature had come down to be Emmanuel among men, and that no prophet was in future to look for another.

We have indeed fallen into a careless habit of using the words supernatural and superhuman, as if equivalent. A human act may be super-doggish, and a Divine act superhuman, yet all three acts absolutely Natural. It is, perhaps, as much the virtue of a Spirit to be inconstant as of a poison to be sure, and therefore always impossible to weigh the elements of moral force in the balance of an apothecary.

275. It is true that, in any abstract reflection on these things, one is instantly brought to pause by questions of the reasonableness, the necessity, or the expedient degree of miracle. Christ walks on the water, overcoming gravity to that extent. Why not have flown, and overcome it altogether? He feeds the multitude by breaking existent loaves; why not have commanded the stones into bread? Or, instead of miraculously feeding either an assembly or a nation, why not[Pg 427][Pg 426][Pg 425] enable them, like Himself, miraculously to fast, for the needful time? And in generally admitting the theories of pastoral miracle the instant question submits itself,—Supposing a nation wisely obedient to divinely appointed ministers of a sensible Theocracy, how much would its government be miraculously assisted, and how many of its affairs brought to miraculous prosperity of issue? Would its enemies be destroyed by angels, and its food poured down upon it from the skies, or would the supernatural aid be limited to diminishing the numbers of its slain in battle,[177] or to conducting its merchant ships safely, or instantaneously, to the land whither they would go?

But no progress can be made, and much may be prevented, in the examination of any really difficult human problem, by thus approaching it on the hypothetical side. Such approach is easy to the foolish, pleasant to the proud, and convenient to the malicious, but absolutely fruitless of practical result. Our modesty and wisdom consist alike in the simple registry of the facts cognizable by us, and our duty, in making active use of them for the present, without concerning ourselves as to the possibilities of the future. And the two main facts we have to deal with are that the historical record of miracle is always of inconstant power, and that our own actual energies are inconstant almost in exact proportion to their worthiness.

276. First, I say, the history of miracle is of inconstant power. St. Paul raises Eutychus from death, and his garments effect miraculous cure; yet he leaves Trophimus sick at Miletum, recognizes only the mercy of God in the recovery of Epaphroditus, and, like any uninspired physician, recommends Timothy wine for his infirmities. And in the second place, our own energies are inconstant almost in proportion to their nobleness. We breathe with regularity, and can calculate upon the strength necessary for common tasks. But the record of our best work, and of our happiest[Pg 428] moments, is always one of success which we did not expect, and of enthusiasm which we could not prolong.

277. And therefore we can only look for an imperfect and interrupted, but may surely insist on an occasional, manifestation of miraculous credentials by every minister of religion. There is no practical difficulty in the discernment of marvel properly to be held superhuman. It is indeed frequently alleged by the admirers of scientific discovery that many things which were wonderful fifty years ago, have ceased to be so now; and I am perfectly ready to concede to them that what they now themselves imagine to be admirable, will not in the future be admired. But the petty sign, said to have been wrought by the augur Attus before Tarquin, would be as impressive at this instant as it was then; while the utmost achievements of recent scientific miracle have scarcely yet achieved the feeding of Lazarus their beggar, still less the resurrection of Lazarus their friend. Our Christian faith, at all events, stands or falls by this test. "These signs shall follow them that believe," are words which admit neither of qualification nor misunderstanding; and it is far less arrogant in any man to look for such Divine attestation of his authority as a teacher, than to claim, without it, any authority to teach. And assuredly it is no proof of any unfitness or unwisdom in such expectations, that, for the last thousand years, miraculous powers seem to have been withdrawn from, or at least indemonstrably possessed, by a Church which, having been again and again warned by its Master that Riches were deadly to Religion, and Love essential to it, has nevertheless made wealth the reward of Theological learning, and controversy its occupation. There are states of moral death no less amazing than physical resurrection; and a church which permits its clergy to preach what they have ceased to believe, and its people to trust what they refuse to obey, is perhaps more truly miraculous in impotence, than it would be miraculous in power, if it could move the fatal rocks of California to the Pole, and plant the sycamore and the vine between the ridges of the sea.[Pg 429]


[174] Contemporary Review, March, 1873.

[175] Read at the November meeting of the Metaphysical Society.

[176] I quote from memory but am sure of the purport of the sentence, though not of its expression.

[177] "And be it death proclaimëd through our host to boast of this."—Henry V.


(Nineteenth Century, January 1878.)


278. I am sure that all in this audience who were present yesterday at Dr. Acland's earnest and impressive lecture must have felt how deeply I should be moved by his closing reference to the friendship begun in our undergraduate days;—of which I will but say that, if it alone were all I owed to Oxford, the most gracious kindness of the Alma Mater would in that gift have been fulfilled to me.

But his affectionate words, in their very modesty, as if even standing on the defense of his profession, the noblest of human occupations! and of his science—the most wonderful and awful of human intelligences! showed me that I had yet not wholly made clear to you the exactly limited measure in which I have ventured to dispute the fitness of method of study now assigned to you in this University.

279. Of the dignity of physical science, and of the happiness of those who are devoted to it for the healing and the help of mankind, I never have meant to utter, and I do not think I have uttered, one irreverent word. But against the curiosity of science, leading us to call virtually nothing gained but what is new discovery, and to despise every use of our knowledge in its acquisition; of the insolence of science, in claiming for itself a separate function of that human mind which in its perfection is one and indivisible, in the image of its Creator; and of the perversion of science, in hoping to[Pg 430] discover by the analysis of death, what can only be discovered by the worship of life,—of these I have spoken, not only with sorrow, but with a fear which every day I perceive to be more surely grounded, that such labor, in effacing from within you the sense of the presence of God in the garden of the earth, may awaken within you the prevailing echo of the first voice of its Destroyer, "Ye shall be as gods."

280. To-day I have little enough time to conclude,—none to review—what I have endeavored thus to say; but one instance, given me directly in conversation after lecture, by one of yourselves, will enable me to explain to you precisely what I mean.

After last lecture, in which you remember I challenged our physiologists to tell me how a bird flies, one of you, whose pardon, if he thinks it needful, I ask for this use of his most timely and illustrative statement, came to me, saying, "You know the way in which we are shown how a bird flies, is, that any one, a dove for instance, is given to us, plucked, and partly skinned, and incised at the insertion of the wing bone; and then, with a steel point, the ligament of the muscle at the shoulder is pulled up, and out, and made distinct from other ligaments, and we are told 'that is the way a bird flies,' and on that matter it is thought we have been told enough."

I say that this instance given me was timely; I will say more—in the choice of this particular bird, providential. Let me take, in their order, the two subjects of inquiry and instruction, which are indeed offered to us in the aspect and form of that one living creature.

281. Of the splendor of your own true life, you are told, in the words which, to-day, let me call, as your Fathers did, words of inspiration—"Yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove, that is covered with silver wings and her feathers with gold." Of the manifold iris of color in the dove's plumage, watched carefully in sunshine as the bird moves, I cannot hope to give you any conception by words; but that it is the most exquisite, in the modesty of its light, and in the myriad mingling of its hue, of all plumage, I may partly prove to you in this one[Pg 431] fact, that out of all studies of color, the one which I would desire most to place within your reach in these schools, is Turner's drawing of a dove, done when he was in happy youth at Farnley. But of the causes of this color, and of the peculiar subtlety in its iridescence, nothing is told you in any scientific book I have ever seen on ornithology.

282. Of the power of flight in these wings, and the tender purpose of their flight, you hear also in your Fathers' book. To the Church, flying from her enemies into desolate wilderness, there were indeed given two wings as of a great eagle. But the weary saint of God, looking forward to his home in calm of eternal peace, prays rather—"Oh that I had wings like a dove, for then should I flee away, and be at rest." And of these wings, and this mind of hers, this is what reverent science should teach you: first, with what parting of plume, and what soft pressure and rhythmic beating of divided air, she reaches that miraculous swiftness of undubious motion, compared with which the tempest is slow, and the arrow uncertain; and secondly, what clew there is, visible, or conceivable to thought of man, by which, to her living conscience and errorless pointing of magnetic soul, her distant home is felt afar beyond the horizon, and the straight path, through concealing clouds, and over trackless lands, made plain to her desire, and her duty, by the finger of God.

283. And lastly, since in the tradition of the Old Covenant she was made the messenger of forgiveness to those eight souls saved through the baptism unto death, and in the Gospel of the New Covenant, under her image, was manifested the well-pleasing of God, in the fulfillment of all righteousness by His Son in the Baptism unto life,—surely alike all Christian people, old and young, should be taught to be gladdened by her sweet presence; and in every city and village in Christendom she should have such home as in Venice she has had for ages, and be, among the sculptured marbles of the temple, the sweetest sculpture; and, fluttering at your children's feet, their never-angered friend. And surely also, therefore, of the thousand evidences which any carefully thoughtful person[Pg 432] may see, not only of the ministration of good, but of the deceiving and deadly power of the evil angels, there is no one more distinct in its gratuitous, and unreconcilable sin, than that this—of all the living creatures between earth and sky—should be the one chosen to amuse the apathy of our murderous idleness, with skill-less, effortless, merciless slaughter.

284. I pass to the direct subject on which I have to speak finally to-day;—the reality of that ministration of the good angels, and of that real adversity of the principalities and powers of Satan, in which, without exception, all earnest Christians have believed, and the appearance of which, to the imagination of the greatest and holiest of them, has been the root, without exception, of all the greatest art produced by the human mind or hand in this world.

That you have at present no art properly so called in England at all—whether of painting, sculpture, or architecture[179]—I, for one, do not care. In midst of Scottish Lothians, in the days of Scott, there was, by how much less art, by so much purer life, than in the midst of Italy in the days of Raphael. But that you should have lost, not only the skill of Art, but the simplicity of Faith and life, all in one, and not only here deface your ancient streets by the Ford of the waters of sacred learning, but also deface your ancient hills with guilt of mercenary desolation, driving their ancient shepherd life into exile, and diverting the waves of their streamlets into the cities which are the very centers of pollution, of avarice, and impiety: for this I do care,—for this you have blamed me for caring, instead of merely trying to teach you drawing. I have nevertheless yet done my best to show you what real drawing is; and must yet again bear your blame for trying to show you, through that, somewhat more.

285. I was asked, as we came out of chapel this morning,[Pg 433] by one of the Fellows of my college, to say a word to the Undergraduates, about Thirlmere. His request, being that of a faithful friend, came to enforce on me the connection between this form of spoliation of our native land of its running waters, and the gaining disbelief in the power of prayer over the distribution of the elements of our bread and water, in rain, and sunshine,—seedtime, and harvest. Respecting which, I must ask you to think with me to-day what is the meaning of the myth, if you call it so, of the great prophet of the Old Testament, who is to be again sent before the coming of the day of the Lord. For truly, you will find that if any part of your ancient faith be true, it is needful for every soul which is to take up its cross, with Christ, to be also first transfigured in the light of Christ,—talking with Moses and with Elias.

The contest of Moses is with the temporal servitude,—of Elijah, with the spiritual servitude, of the people; and the war of Elijah is with their servitude essentially to two Gods, Baal, or the Sun God, in whose hand they thought was their life, and Baalzebub—the Fly God,—of Corruption, in whose hand they thought was the arbitration of death.

The entire contest is summed in the first assertion by Elijah, of his authority as the Servant of God, over those elemental powers by which the heart of Man, whether Jew or heathen, was filled with food and gladness.

And Elijah the Tishbite; who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, "As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word."

286. Your modern philosophers have explained to you the absurdity of all that: you think? Of all the shallow follies of this age, that proclamation of the vanity of prayer for the sunshine and rain; and the cowardly equivocations, to meet it, of the clergy who never in their lives really prayed for anything, I think, excel. Do these modern scientific gentlemen fancy that nobody, before they were born, knew the laws of cloud and storm, or that the mighty human souls of[Pg 434] former ages, who every one of them lived and died by prayer, and in it, did not know that in every petition framed on their lips they were asking for what was not only fore-ordained, but just as probably fore-done? or that the mother pausing to pray before she opens the letter from Alma or Balaclava, does not know that already he is saved for whom she prays, or already lies festering in his shroud? The whole confidence and glory of prayer is in its appeal to a Father who knows our necessities before we ask, who knows our thoughts before they rise in our hearts, and whose decrees, as unalterable in the eternal future as in the eternal past, yet in the close verity of visible fact, bend, like reeds, before the fore-ordained and faithful prayers of His children.

287. Of Elijah's contest on Carmel with that Sun-power in which, literally, you again now are seeking your life, you know the story, however little you believe it. But of his contest with the Death-power, on the Hill of Samaria, you read less frequently, and more doubtfully.

"Oh, thou Man of God, the King hath said, Come down. And Elijah answered and said, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from Heaven, and consume thee, and thy fifty."

How monstrous, how revolting, cries your modern religionist, that a prophet of the Lord should invoke death on fifty men. And he sits himself, enjoying his muffin and Times, and contentedly allows the slaughter of fifty thousand men, so it be in the interests of England, and of his own stock on Exchange.

But note Elijah's message. "Because thou hast sent to inquire of Baalzebub the God of Ekron, therefore, thou shalt not go down from the bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die."

"Because thou hast sent to inquire:" he had not sent to pray to the God of Ekron, only to ask of him. The priests of Baal prayed to Baal, but Ahaziah only questions the fly-god.[Pg 435]

He does not pray "Let me recover," but he asks "Shall I recover of this disease?"

The scientific mind again, you perceive,—Sanitary investigation; by oracle of the God of Death. Whatever can be produced of disease, by flies, by aphides, by lice, by communication of corruption, shall not we moderns also wisely inquire, and so recover of our diseases?

All which may, for aught I know, be well; and when I hear of the vine disease or potato disease being stayed, I will hope also that plague may be, or diphtheria, or aught else of human plague, by due sanitary measures.

288. In the meantime, I see that the common cleanliness of the earth and its water is despised, as if it were a plague; and after myself laboring for three years to purify and protect the source of the loveliest stream in the English midlands, the Wandel, I am finally beaten, because the road commissioners insist on carrying the road washings into it, at its source. But that's nothing. Two years ago, I went, for the first time since early youth, to see Scott's country by the shores of Yarrow, Teviot, and Gala waters. I will read you once again, though you will remember it, his description of one of those pools which you are about sanitarily to draw off into your engine-boilers, and then I will tell you what I saw myself in that sacred country.

Oft in my mind such thoughts awake,
By lone Saint Mary's silent lake;
Thou know'st it well,—nor fen, nor sedge,
Pollute the pure lake's crystal edge;
Abrupt and sheer, the mountains sink
At once upon the level brink;
And just a trace of silver sand
Marks where the water meets the land.

Far in the mirror, bright and blue,
Each hill's huge outline you may view;
Shaggy with heath, but lonely, bare,
[Pg 436]Nor tree, nor bush, nor brake, is there,
Save where, of land, yon slender line
Bears thwart the lake the scatter'd pine.

And silence aids—though the steep hills
Send to the lake a thousand rills
In summer tide, so soft they weep,
The sound but lulls the ear asleep;
Your horse's hoof-tread sounds too rude,
So stilly is the solitude.

Nought living meets the eye or ear,
But well I ween the dead are near;
For though, in feudal strife, a foe
Hath laid Our Lady's chapel low,
Yet still beneath the hallow'd soil,
The peasant rests him from his toil,
And, dying, bids his bones be laid,
Where erst his simple fathers pray'd.

289. What I saw myself, in that fair country, of which the sight remains with me, I will next tell you. I saw the Teviot oozing, not flowing, between its wooded banks, a mere sluggish injection, among the filthy stones, of poisonous pools of scum-covered ink; and in front of Jedburgh Abbey, where the foaming river used to dash round the sweet ruins as if the rod of Moses had freshly cleft the rock for it, bare and foul nakedness of its bed, the whole stream carried to work in the mills, the dry stones and crags of it festering unseemly in the evening sun, and the carcass of a sheep, brought down in the last flood, lying there in the midst of the children at their play, literal and ghastly symbol, in the sweetest pastoral country in the world, of the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

That is your symbol to-day, of the Lamb as it had been slain; and that the work of your prayerless science;—the issues, these, of your enlightened teaching, and of all the toils and the deaths of the Covenanters on those barren hills, of the prophetic martyrs here in your crossing streets, and of the highest, sincerest, simplest patriot of Catholic England, Sir Thomas More, within the walls of England's central Tower. So is ended, with prayer for the bread of this life,[Pg 437] also the hope of the life that is to come. Yet I will take leave to show you the light of that hope, as it shone on, and guided, the children of the ages of faith.

290. Of that legend of St. Ursula which I read to you so lately, you remember, I doubt not, that the one great meaning is the victory of her faith over all fears of death. It is the laying down of all the joy, of all the hope, nay of all the Love, of this life, in the eager apprehension of the rejoicing and the love of Eternity. What truth there was in such faith I dare not say that I know; but what manner of human souls it made, you may for yourselves see. Here are enough brought to you, of the thoughts of a believing people.[180] This maid in her purity is no fable; this is a Venetian maid, as she was seen in the earthly dawn, and breathed on by the breeze of her native sea. And here she is in her womanhood, in her courage and perfect peace, waiting for her death.

I have sent for this drawing for you, from Sheffield, where it is to stay, they needing it more than you. It is the best of all that my friend did with me at Venice, for St. George, and with St. George's help and St. Ursula's. It shows you only a piece of the great picture of the martyrdom—nearly all have fallen around the maid, and she kneels with her two servant princesses, waiting for her own death. Faithful behind their mistress, they wait with her,—not feebler, but less raised in thought, as less conceiving their immortal destiny; the one, a gentle girl, conceiving not in her quiet heart any horror of death, bows her fair head towards the earth, almost with a smile; the other, fearful lest her faith should for an instant fail, bursts into passion of prayer through burning tears. St. Ursula kneels, as daily she knelt, before the altar, giving herself up to God forever.

And so you see her, here in the days of childhood, and here in her sacred youth, and here in her perfect womanhood, and here borne to her grave.[Pg 438]

Such creatures as these have lived—do live yet, thank God, in the faith of Christ.

291. You hear it openly said that this, their faith, was a foolish dream. Do you choose to find out whether it was or not? You may if you will, but you can find it out in one way only.

Take the dilemma in perfect simplicity. Either Christianity is true or not. Let us suppose it first one, then the other, and see what follows.

Let it first be supposed untrue. Then rational investigation will in all probability discover that untruth; while, on the other hand, irrational submission to what we are told may lead us into any form of absurdity or insanity; and, as we read history, we shall find that this insanity has perverted, as in the Crusades, half the strength of Europe to its ruin, and been the source of manifold dissension and misery to society.

Start with the supposition that Christianity is untrue, much more with the desire that it should be, and that is the conclusion at which you will certainly arrive.

But, on the other hand, let us suppose that it is, or may be, true. Then, in order to find out whether it is or not, we must attend to what it says of itself. And its first saying is an order to adopt a certain line of conduct. Do that first, and you shall know more. Its promise is of blessing and of teaching, more than tongue can utter, or mind conceive, if you choose to do this; and it refuses to teach or help you on any other terms than these.

292. You may think it strange that such a trial is required of you. Surely the evidences of our future state might have been granted on other terms—nay, a plain account might have been given, with all mystery explained away in the clearest language. Then, we should have believed at once.

Yes, but, as you see and hear, that, if it be our way, is not God's. He has chosen to grant knowledge of His truth to us on one condition and no other. If we refuse that condition, the rational evidence around us is all in proof of our[Pg 439] death, and that proof is true, for God also tells us that in such refusal we shall die.

You see, therefore, that in either case, be Christianity true or false, death is demonstrably certain to us in refusing it. As philosophers, we can expect only death, and as unbelievers, we are condemned to it.

There is but one chance of life—in admitting so far the possibility of the Christian verity as to try it on its own terms. There is not the slightest possibility of finding out whether it be true, or not, first.

"Show me a sign first and I will come," you say. "No," answers God. "Come first, then you shall see a sign."

Hard, you think? You will find it is not so, on thinking more. For this, which you are commanded, is not a thing unreasonable in itself. So far from that, it is merely the wisest thing you could do for your own and for others' happiness, if there were no eternal truth to be discovered.

You are called simply to be the servant of Christ, and of other men for His sake; that is to say, to hold your life and all its faculties as a means of service to your fellows. All you have to do is to be sure it is the service you are doing them, and not the service you do yourself, which is uppermost in your minds.

293. Now you continually hear appeals to you made in a vague way, which you don't know how far you can follow. You shall not say that, to-day; I both can and will tell you what Christianity requires of you in simplest terms.

Read your Bible as you would any other book—with strictest criticism, frankly determining what you think beautiful, and what you think false or foolish. But be sure that you try accurately to understand it, and transfer its teaching to modern need by putting other names for those which have become superseded by time. For instance, in such a passage as that which follows and supports the "Lie not one to another" of Colossians iii.—"seeing that ye have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the spirit of Him that created him, where" (meaning in that great[Pg 440] creation where) "there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free." In applying that verse to the conduct and speech of modern policy, it falls nearly dead, because we suffer ourselves to remain under a vague impression—vague, but practically paralyzing,—that though it was very necessary to speak the truth in the countries of Scythians and Jews, there is no objection to any quantity of lying in managing the affairs of Christendom. But now merely substitute modern for ancient names, and see what a difference it will make in the force and appeal of the passage, "Lie not one to another, brethren, seeing that ye have put off the old man, with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed to knowledge," εις επἱγνωσιν, according to the knowledge of Him that created him, in that great creation where there is neither Englishman nor German, baptism nor want of baptism, Turk nor Russian, slave nor free, but Christ is all, and in all.

294. Read your Bible, then, making it the first morning business of your life to understand some piece of it clearly, and your daily business to obey of it all that you understand, beginning first with the most human and most dear obedience—to your father and mother. Doing all things as they would have you do, for the present: if they want you to be lawyers—be lawyers; if soldiers—soldiers; if to get on in the world—even to get money—do as they wish, and that cheerfully, after distinctly explaining to them in what points you wish otherwise. Theirs is for the present the voice of God to you.

But, at the same time, be quite clear about your own purpose, and the carrying out of that so far as under the conditions of your life you can. And any of you who are happy enough to have wise parents will find them contented in seeing you do as I now tell you.

295. First cultivate all your personal powers, not competitively, but patiently and usefully. You have no business to read in the long vacation. Come here to make scholars of yourselves, and go to the mountains or the sea to make men of yourselves. Give at least a month in each year to rough[Pg 441] sailor's work and sea fishing. Don't lounge and flirt on the beach, but make yourselves good seamen. Then, on the mountains, go and help the shepherd at his work, the wood-men at theirs, and learn to know the hills by night and day. If you are staying in level country, learn to plow, and whatever else you can that is useful. Then here in Oxford, read to the utmost of your power, and practice singing, fencing, wrestling, and riding. No rifle practice, and no racing—boat or other. Leave the river quiet for the naturalist, the angler, and the weary student like me.

You may think all these matters of no consequence to your studies of art and divinity; and that I am merely crotchety and absurd. Well, that is the way the devil deceives you. It is not the sins which we feel sinful, by which he catches us; but the apparently healthy ones,—those which nevertheless waste the time, harden the heart, concentrate the passions on mean objects, and prevent the course of gentle and fruitful thought.

296. Having thus cultivated, in the time of your studentship, your powers truly to the utmost, then, in your manhood, be resolved they shall be spent in the true service of men—not in being ministered unto, but in ministering. Begin with the simplest of all ministries—breaking of bread to the poor. Think first of that, not of your own pride, learning, comfort, prospects in life: nay, not now, once come to manhood, may even the obedience to parents check your own conscience of what is your Master's work. "Whoso loveth father and mother more than me is not worthy of me." Take the perfectly simple words of the Judgment, "Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these, ye did it unto me:" but you must do it, not preach it. And you must not be resolved that it shall be done only in a gentlemanly manner. Your pride must be laid down, as your avarice, and your fear. Whether as fishermen on the sea, plowmen on the earth, laborers at the forge, or merchants at the shop-counter, you must break and distribute bread to the poor, set down in companies—for that also is literally told you—upon the green[Pg 442] grass, not crushed in heaps under the pavement of cities. Take Christ at His literal word, and, so sure as His word is true, He will be known of you in breaking of bread. Refuse that servant's duty because it is plain,—seek either to serve God, or know Him, in any other way: your service will become mockery of Him, and your knowledge darkness. Every day your virtues will be used by the evil spirits to conceal, or to make respectable, national crime; every day your felicities will become baits for the iniquity of others; your heroisms, wreckers' beacons, betraying them to destruction; and before your own deceived eyes and wandering hearts every false meteor of knowledge will flash, and every perishing pleasure glow, to lure you into the gulf of your grave.

297. But obey the word in its simplicity, in wholeness of purpose and with serenity of sacrifice, like this of the Venetian maids', and truly you shall receive sevenfold into your bosom in this present life, as in the world to come, life everlasting. All your knowledge will become to you clear and sure, all your footsteps safe; in the present brightness of domestic life you will foretaste the joy of Paradise, and to your children's children bequeath, not only noble fame, but endless virtue. "He shall give his angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways; and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."


[178] Left, at the Editor's request, with only some absolutely needful clearing of unintelligible sentences, as it was written for free delivery. It was the last of a course of twelve given this autumn;—refers partly to things already said, partly to drawings on the walls; and needs the reader's pardon throughout, for faults and abruptness incurable but by re-writing the whole as an essay instead of a lecture.—(Nineteenth Century, January, 1878.)

[179] Of course, this statement is merely a generalization of many made in the preceding lectures, the tenor of which any readers acquainted with my recent writings may easily conceive.

[180] The references were to the series of drawings lately made, in Venice, for the Oxford and Sheffield schools, from the works of Carpaccio, by Mr. Fairfax Murray.

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