John   Ruskin

(London, 8 February 1819 - 20 January 1900, Coniston, Furness region of Cumbria)

ruskin
Author, artist, and social reformer, was the only child of John James Ruskin (b. 1785), who was the son of a calico merchant in Edinburgh, and Margaret Cox (b. 1781), his wife, the daughter of a skipper in the herring fishery. They were first cousins, and married in 1818. They lived at 54 Hunter Street, Brunswick Square, London, in which house (marked with a tablet by the Society of Arts, 1900) John Ruskin was born. The character of his parents and tenor of his home life were the chief formative forces in Ruskin's education. As a boy he was educated by his mother, and when he went into residence at Oxford she went also, taking lodgings in the High Street, where her husband always joined her from Saturday to Monday.

Except during a portion of his short married life, Ruskin lived constantly with his parents; he rarely travelled abroad except in their company, and whenever they were separated daily letters were exchanged. His father died in 1864; his mother in 1871. They are buried in the churchyard of Shirley, Kent. The inscriptions on the monument (designed by Ruskin) state that John James Ruskin 'was an entirely honest merchant, and his memory is, to all who keep it, dear and helpful. His son, whom he loved to the uttermost and taught to speak truth, says this of him. "Beside my father's body I have laid my mother's. Nor was dearer earth ever returned to earth, nor purer life recorded in heaven." A further monument to his mother was the restoration of a spring of water between Croydon and Epsom, and the endowment of a well. A tablet here erected bears the inscription 'In obedience to the Giver of Life, of the brooks and fruits that feed it, of the peace that ends it, may this well be kept sacred for the service of men, flocks, and flowers, and be by kindness called Margaret's Well.'

'I have seen my mother travel,' says Ruskin, 'from sunrise to sunset on a summer's day without once leaning back in the carriage.' She maintained this unbending attitude in the education of her son. An evangelical puritan of the strictest sect, she held strong notions on the sinfulness even of toys, and in after years it is said that the pictures in her husband's house were turned with their faces to the wall on Sunday. With no playfellows, and no toys beyond a single box of bricks, the child's faculties were concentrated from his earliest years on the observation of nature and inanimate things. He used to spend hours, he says, in contemplating the colours of the nursery carpet. When he was four the Ruskins removed from Bloomsbury to Herne Hill (No. 28). The garden now took the place of the carpet. After morning lessons he was his own master. His mother would often be gardening beside him, but he had his own little affairs to see to, 'the ants' nest to watch or a sociable bird or two to make friends with.' The gifts of expression which were to enable him to show to others the loveliness he discerned owed their first cultivation to his mother's daily readings in the Bible 'the one essential part,' he says, 'of all my education.' They read alternate verses, she 'watching every intonation, allowing not so much as a syllable to be missed or misplaced.' She began with the first chapter of Genesis and went straight through to the last verse of the Apocalypse, and began again at Genesis the next day. Ruskin had also to learn the whole of 'the fine old Scottish paraphrases.' To this daily discipline, continued until he went up to Oxford, he attributed the cultivation of his ear and his sense of style.

By his father the boy was initiated in secular literature (especially Scott's novels and Pope's 'Homer') and in art. John James Ruskin had settled in London in 1807, and two years later entered into partnership as a wine-merchant under the title of Ruskin, Telford, & Domecq; 'Domecq contributing the sherry, Telford the capital, and Ruskin the brains.' He combined with much shrewdness in business a genuine love of literature and a strong vein of romantic sentiment. His taste was as exact in art as in sherries, and he 'never allowed me to look for an instant' (says his son) 'at a bad picture.' He had been a pupil in the landscape class of Alexander Nasmyth [q. v.] at Edinburgh, was fond of sketching, and delighted in reading poetry aloud, in buying drawings of architecture and landscape, and in entertaining artists at dinner. In later years Turner, George Richmond, and Samuel Prout formed the constant dinner-party invited by the father to celebrate his son's birthday. The atmosphere in which young Ruskin lived and moved was thus at once puritanical and artistic.

An important part of his education was a summer tour with his parents. His father was in the habit of travelling once a year for orders, and on these journeys he combined pleasure with business. He travelled to sell his wines, but also to see pictures; and in any country seat where there was a Reynolds, or a Velasquez, or a Vandyck, or a Rembrandt, 'he would pay the surliest housekeeper into patience until we had examined it to our hearts' content.' Also he travelled leisurely in a private carriage hired or lent for the expedition and he made a point of including in each summer's journey a visit to some region of romantic scenery, such as Scotland (in 1824, 1826, 1827); the English lakes (1824, 1826, 1830); and Wales (1831). From the earliest days the young Ruskin had accompanied his parents on their journeys, perched on the top of a box in the 'dickey' of a post-chaise. By the time he was ten he had thus seen all the high roads and most of the cross-roads of England and Wales, and the greater part of lowland Scotland. Half a century later Ruskin occasionally revived, for the pleasure of himself and his friends and the amusement of the districts through which they passed the practice of posting tours, and had a posting carriage of the old fashion built for him. 'In all mountain ground and scenery,' he says, 'I had a pleasure as early as I can remember, and continuing till I was eighteen or twenty, infinitely greater than any which has been since possible to me in anything; comparable for intensity only to the joy of a lover in being near a noble and kind mistress, but no more explicable or definable than that feeling of love itself.' He was encouraged by his parents to write diaries and versify his impressions. At home a little table was always kept apart for his work, and there the child would sit drawing or writing while his mother knitted and his father read aloud. His parents paid him a shilling a page for his literary labours, and bound up his juvenilia, which are still preserved at Brantwood. He spent his pocket-money in minerals, which were his earliest and constant hobby. At the age of four he had begun to read and write; at seven he was hard at work in printing volumes of stories; at eight he began to write verses. His father burst into tears of joy when the son's first article appeared in print. His mother had designed him for the church, hoping he would become 'a glorified Dean Milman;' and both his parents were 'exquisitely miserable at the first praises of a clear-dawning Tennyson.' His early poems, which were to him the Latin exercises of other schoolboys, deal with 'dropping waters,' 'airy fortresses,' 'taper-pointed leaves,' and 'glittering diamonds from the skies.' Some verses written at the age of fourteen have a note of genuine feeling:
There is a thrill of strange delight
That passes quivering o'er me,
When blue hills rise upon the sight
Like summer clouds before me.



In this year (1833) the summer tour took a wider scope. His father had brought home among his treasures from the city a copy of Prout's 'Sketches in Flanders and Germany.' 'As my mother watched my father's pleasure and mine,' says Ruskin, 'in looking at the wonderful places, she said, "Why should we not go and see them in reality?" My father hesitated a little, then with glittering eyes said, "Why not?" And so they went to the Rhine and Switzerland, and two years later to Switzerland and Italy. These were the first of a series of posting tours through all the more romantic regions of Europe -- Spain, Greece, and Norway excepted which father, mother, and son took together for nearly thirty years. They travelled always in their own carriage with a courier. They went by easy stages, stopping at their son's will to examine minerals here, to study pictures there, and to sketch and wander everywhere. Those were 'the olden days of travelling, now to return no more,' as Ruskin lamented in the 'Stones of Venice,' 'in which distance could not be vanquished without toil, but in which that toil was rewarded partly by the power of deliberate survey of the countries through which the journey lay, and partly by the happiness of the evening hours when, from the top of the last hill he had surmounted, the traveller beheld the quiet village where he was to rest, scattered among the meadows beside its valley stream, or, from the long-hoped-for turn in the dusty perspective of the causeway, saw for the first time the towers of some famed city, faint in the rays of sunset.' These 'hours of peaceful and thoughtful pleasure' were important elements in Ruskin's education. The first sight of the snowy Alps (in 1833) opened, he says, a new life to him, 'to cease no more except at the gates of the hills whence one returns not. It is not possible to imagine, in any time of the world, a more blessed entrance into life, for a child of such temperament as mine... For me the Alps and their people were alike beautiful in their snow and their humanity; and I wanted neither for them nor myself sight of any thrones in heaven but the rocks, or of any spirits in heaven but the clouds. I went down that evening from the garden terrace of Schaffhausen with my destiny fixed in all of it that was to be sacred and useful.' With the study of nature -- associated through drawing and took great delight in scientific romantic literature with memories of human valour and passion -- that of art went hand in hand. His inspection of the chief pictorial treasures of Great Britain was now disciplined by close study in the great galleries of Europe. Those of Vienna, Madrid, and St. Petersburg must be excepted; nor did Ruskin ever visit Holland -- a neglect which may perhaps partly explain his lack of sympathy with the Dutch schools. For his early study of them he was largely dependent on the Dulwich Gallery, which was close to his home and from which he drew so many references in 'Modern Painters.'

The more formal part of Ruskin's education was less fortunate. He once suggested for his epitaph the curse of Reuben: 'Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel,' and said, 'It is strange that I hardly ever get anything stated without some grave mistake, however true in my main discoveries.' There was nothing in his early education to drill him into exact scholarship or encourage concentration. Up to the age of ten his mother taught him. A classical tutor was then called in. He was Dr. Andrews, father of Coventry Patmore's first wife. After her marriage Ruskin became a friend of the poet, and wrote enthusiastically in praise of 'The Angel in the House.' Andrews was impressed by the boy's precocity, and wanted to take him on to Hebrew before he was well grounded in Greek. Another tutor, Mr. Rowbotham, taught him French and mathematics. Ruskin had a fair conversational knowledge of French, and was always a reader of French literature. Of mathematics he was fond, and this was the branch of his early studies which gave him least trouble. Next Ruskin went for part of two years to a day school at Camberwell, kept by the Rev. Thomas Dale (1797-1870) [q. v.] His school course was interrupted by an attack of pleurisy. He afterwards attended lectures three times a week at King's College. His first drawing master (1831) was Mr. Runciman; later, he had lessons from Copley Fielding and J. D. Harding. But the decisive influence in this sort was the acquisition in 1832, as a birthday present from Mr. Telford, of a copy of Rogers's 'Italy' with Turner's vignettes. He set to work at once to copy them, and from that day forth Turner obtained his whole allegiance.

In October 1836, Ruskin matriculated at Oxford, and in the following term went into residence as a 'gentleman-commoner' at Christ Church. At Oxford as elsewhere his studies were diffusive. He kept up his work with Buckland (then a canon of Christ Church). His Latin, he says, was the worst in the university, and to the end of his career he 'never could get into his head where the Pelasgi lived or the Heraclidse returned from.' A private tutor, Osborne Gordon, was employed to patch up such holes, and in recognition of Gordon's services Ruskin's father gave 5,000l. for the augmentation of Christ Church livings. In 'pure scholarship' Ruskin never attained any proficiency. His love of Greek literature lasted throughout his life. To Plato especially he was strongly attached, for 'the sense of the presence of the Deity in all things, great or small, which always runs in a solemn undercurrent beneath his exquisite playfulness and irony' (Stones of Venice, li. ch. 8. The influence of Plato upon Ruskin has been traced in a pamphlet by William Smart, 1883). In the Oxford of Ruskin's day little heed was paid to Greek art or archaeology, and he 'never loved the arts of Greece as others have' (Lectures on Art, § 111), though in after years he devoted some attention to the subject. His 'Aratra Pentelici' (1872) gives his views on Greek sculpture. It abounds in clever aperqus, but his thesis that Greek artists did not aim at ideal beauty cannot be accepted. His analysis of the myths of Athena as the life-giving and spirit-inspiring 'Queen of the Air' (1869) often shows real insight, but is fanciful. The first section of the book is headed 'Athena Chalinitis,' but Ruskin 'never laid to heart the significance of the Greek quality of restraint which this epithet ascribes to the goddess' Norton). Among his Oxford friends and contemporaries was (Sir) Charles Newton [q. v. Suppl.], who in 1852 endeavoured to persuade Ruskin to accompany him to Athens and Mitylene. The trip was vetoed by his parents, and 'Greek and Goth' went their several ways (Præt. ii. ch. viii.) At a later time Ruskin became interested in excavations, gave General di Cesnola 1,000l. for diggings in Cyprus, and presented most of the finds to the British Museum. Of his contemporaries at Christ Church Ruskin has drawn some brilliant sketches in 'Præterita.' He formed a close and lifelong friendship with (Sir) Henry Acland [q. v. Suppl.], to whom he was drawn both by common artistic tastes and by Acland's type of radiant manhood; another friendship, which developed more slowly, was with Henry George Liddell [q. v. Suppl.] Though no athlete, Ruskin was accepted into 'the best set.' P usey never spoke to him, and by 'the Oxford movement' he was untouched. He spoke sometimes at the Union. One motion supported by him was characteristic: 'that intellectual education as distinguished from moral discipline is detrimental to the interests of the lower order of a nation.' In the 'Life and Letters of F. W. Robertson' there is a reference to 'a very ingenious and somewhat sarcastic speech' by Ruskin in defence of the stage which greatly pleased the house.

Ruskin devoted much of his time at Oxford to writing verse. He competed for the Newdigate prize in 1837, with a poem on 'The Gipsies' (won by A. P. Stanley), and in 1838 on 'The Exile of St. Helena' (won by J. H. Dart). Ruskin's unsuccessful essays are included in his 'Poems' (1891). In 1839 he won the prize with a poem on 'Salsette and Elephanta' (recited in the theatre at Oxford on 12 June and published in that year; new ed. 1878). The composition has some good lines, as, e.g.:
Though distant shone with many an azure gem
The glacier glory of his diadem;
but on the whole it must be pronounced neither better nor worse than most poems of its class. Verses by him had already appeared in 'Friendship's Offering,' and he contributed for some years to that and other miscellanies of the period. Some of his album verses were pretty and have found their way into collections. He continued as an occasional amusement throughout his life to write songs and rhyming letters, but by the time he was twenty-six he abandoned 'versification as a serious pursuit, having come to the extremely wholesome conclusion that in poetry he could express nothing rightly that he had to say.'

Ruskin's Oxford course was interrupted by ill-health, which may have been accentuated by a disappointment of the heart. He had fallen in love with one of the daughters of his father's French partner (the Adele of his poems). As a suitor he combined, he tells us, 'the single-mindedness of Mr. Traddles with the conversational abilities of Mr. Toots,' and his Parisian flame laughed whole-heartedly at the literary offerings with which he sought to commend himself to her. In 1840 she married a handsome young French nobleman. Shortly afterwards, at Easter in that year, when Ruskin was putting on a spurt for his examinations, he was seized with a consumptive cough and spat some blood. The drop was not, as in the case of Keats, his death-warrant, but it was a death-blow to hopes of academical distinction. He went down from Oxford and for nearly two years was dragged about in search of health, through Switzerland and Italy and to Leamington (where he derived great benefit from Dr. Jephson's treatment). Memorials of these travels are given in Ruskin's 'Letters to Dale' (1893). In a few years Ruskin out-grew his tendency to consumption. He was fond of walking and of climbing among the Alps; and in after years of rowing, as also of manual exercise. He retained far into old age evidences of unabated vigour in hair still thick and brown; and could often be seen rowing his boat (of his own design) across the lake in half a gale of wind. But he was never a very strong man, and he taxed to the uttermost by constant mental strain such strength as he possessed. In April 1842, having recovered his health, Ruskin went up to Oxford, and was given an honorary double-fourth. He graduated B.A. in 1842 and M.A. in 1843. He was deeply sensitive of 'the ineffable charm' of Oxford and loved the university dearly. But it was among the hills and clouds, the trees and the mosses, that he really graduated.

It was, however, as 'an Oxford graduate' that he first emerged into fame. He had already in his teens appeared in print. His first published words, 'Enquiries on the Causes of the Colour of the Rhine,' and 'Considerations on the Strata of Mont Blanc,' were printed, when he was fifteen, in London's 'Magazine of Natural History' (1834, vol. viii. pp. 438 and 644), to which he contributed some other geological studies two years later (ib. 1836, vol. ix. p. 533). An article by him also appeared in the first volume of the 'Transactions of the Meteorological Society' (1839). More important was a series of articles in London's 'Architectural Magazine' (1837-8). After a tour in Switzerland and Italy in 1835 Ruskin had returned with his parents in 1837 to one of the haunts of his boyhood, the Lake country. The contrast between the cottages of Westmoreland and of Italy struck him as typical of that between the countries themselves, and during the autumn following he wrote on 'The Poetry of Architecture; or, the Architecture of the Nations of Europe considered in its Association with National Scenery and National Character.' These papers, written at the age of eighteen, lay down a line of study which Ruskin afterwards pursued in 'Seven Lamps' and 'Stones of Venice.' They show how securely he had now found his literary medium. They contain, as he said fifty years later, 'sentences nearly as well put together as any I have done since.' The nom de plume Kata Phusin adopted for these and some other contributions to the same magazine was expressive of the temper in which he was presently to discourse in 'Modern Painters.' 'Accuse me not of arrogance, If having walked with Nature,' etc., was the motto of the later work.

As early as in 1836 (when he was seventeen) Ruskin had produced the germ which grew into his principal book. To the Academy's exhibition of that year Turner had sent three pictures characteristic of his later manner 'Juliet and her Nurse,' 'Rome from Mount Aventine,' and 'Mercury and Argus.' They were fiercely attacked in 'Blackwood,' and young Ruskin, roused thereby 'to height of black anger, in which I have remained pretty nearly ever since,' wrote an answer. Ruskin's father sent the article to Turner. The old man thanked his youthful champion for his 'zeal, trouble, and kindness,' but sent the manuscript, not to 'Blackwood,' which he did not consider worth powder and shot, but to the purchaser of 'Juliet,' Mr. Munro of Novar. A copy of the article was found among Ruskin's papers after his death. The work laid aside when Ruskin went up to Oxford was resumed when he had taken his degree. In 1840 he had been introduced to Turner. In 1841 he had paid his first visit to Venice. In 1842 he was greatly impressed by Turner's Swiss sketches. To an incident in May of that year Ruskin attributes his 'call.' 'One day,' he says, 'on the road to Norwood I noticed a bit of ivy round a thorn stem, which seemed even to my critical judgment not ill "composed;" I proceeded to make a light-and-shade pencil study of it in my grey-paper pocket-book, carefully as if had been a bit of sculpture, liking it more and more as I drew. When it was done I saw that I had virtually lost all my time since I was twelve years old, because no one had ever told me to draw what was really there!' Later in the year he travelled in France and Switzerland, and on his return he set to work on the first volume of 'Modern Painters.' The title was suggested by the publishers (Messrs. Smith, Elder, & Co.) in lieu of 'Turner and the Ancients.' The scope of the book is indicated by the author's sub-title (afterwards suppressed): 'Their superiority in the Art of Landscape Painting to all the Ancient Masters proved by Examples of the True, the Beautiful, and the Intellectual, from the Works of Modern Artists, especially from those of J. M. W. Turner, Esq., R.A.' The volume was published in April 1843 anonymously by 'A Graduate of Oxford.' Ruskin's father feared that the treatise would lose in authority if its author's youth were disclosed: he was then twenty-four. The success of the book was immediate. A second edition was called for in the following year. In all seven editions of the first volume in separate form were published; that of 1851 was the first to bear the author's name. The volume, originating in a defence of Turner's later manner, had grown into a treatise on the principles of art, declaring that art means something more than pleasing arrangement of lines and colours; that it can, and therefore ought to, convey ideas as being a kind of language; that the best painter is he who conveys the most and highest ideas of truth, of beauty, and of imagination; and then, by way of example, that Turner's work was full of interesting truths, while the Dutch and French-Italian landscapists were very limited in their view of the varied facts of nature. The latter part of his theme led the author to make a close study of mountains, clouds, and sea, and to enrich his pages with passages of glorious description. The closeness of his reasoning, the wealth of illustrative reference, the tone of authority, the audacious criticism of established reputations, and the beauty of the word-painting made a great and lasting impression. Wordsworth pronounced the author a brilliant writer, and placed 'Modern Painters' in his lending library at Rydal Mount (Knight, ii. 334). Tennyson saw it lying on Rogers's table, and longed very much to read it at his leisure (Life, i. 223). Ruskin had been taken to see Rogers some years before. He appeared occasionally at the poet's breakfasts, and corresponded with him from Venice. Sir Henry Taylor wrote to Mr. Aubrey de Vere begging him to read 'a book which seems to me to be far more deeply founded in its criticism of art than any other that I have met with . . . written with great power and eloquence' (Collingwood, p. 94) 'For a critic to be so much of a poet,' wrote Mrs. Browning, 'is a great thing.' Sydney Smith said it was 'a work of transcendent talent, presented the most original views, and the most elegant and powerful language, and would work a complete revolution in the world of taste' (Prat. ii. ch. ix.) Dearer to Ruskin than the praises of the great world was the delight of his parents. On New Year's day his father bought for him Turner's picture of 'The Slaver,' 'well knowing how to please me. The pleasures of a new Turner to me nobody ever will understand.'

The young author was not lured by praise into hurried production; nor was the success of the first volume of 'Modern Painters' a decisive point in his career. He was still giving much of his best effort to drawing, with steadily increasing skill, and to the geological and mineralogical studies, in which to the end he keenly delighted. He set to work to continue his studies in art, but it was still an open question which was to be the main work of his life. In 1844 he went with his parents to Switzerland, and studied mountains at Chamouni and Zermatt. At the Simplon they met James David Forbes [q. v.], whose viscous theory of glaciers Ruskin afterwards defended with great warmth. On his way home he spent some time in Paris, studying old masters at the Louvre. Next year he went abroad without his parents, but attended by a valet and Couttet the guide. At Macugnaga, where he spent some weeks, he devoted himself to close study of Shakespeare, 'which led me into fruitful thought, out of the till then passive sensation of merely artistic or naturalist life.' Other writers to whom Ruskin professed himself mainly indebted were Dante, George Herbert, Wordsworth, and Carlyle. From Macugnaga he went to Pisa, Lucca, and Venice, and to this tour he attributes a turning point in his life and work. At Lucca he was profoundly impressed by the recumbent statue of Ilaria di Caretto (described in Modern Painters, vol. ii. sec. i. chap, vii., and in The Three Colours of Preraphaelitism). Beside this tomb he 'partly felt, partly vowed, that his life must no longer be spent only in the study of rocks and clouds.' At Venice (whither J. D. Harding accompanied him) they went one day to see the then unknown and uncared-for Tintorets in the Scuola di San Rocco. It was a revelation, and decided the current of Ruskin's life. 'But for that porter's opening I should,' he said, 'have written the "Stones of Chamouni" instead of the "Stones of Venice," and I should have brought out into full distinctness and use what faculty I had of drawing the human face and form with true expression of their higher beauty. ... I felt that a new world was opened to me, that I had seen that day the art of man in its full majesty for the first time; and that there was also a strange and precious gift in myself enabling me to recognise it.' With this conviction Ruskin returned home in the autumn of 1845 to Denmark Hill, whither his parents had removed in 1843 to a large house with spacious grounds, and proceeded to write out a second volume of 'Modern Painters.' The enlargement of its scope was at once obvious. Instead of a defence of the moderns, we heard now the praise of the ancients. Whereas the closing paragraphs of Ruskin's first volume are an exhortation to truth in landscape, those of the second are a hymn of praise to 'the angel-choirs of Angelico, with the flames on their white foreheads waving brighter as they move, and the sparkles streaming from their purple wings like the glitter of many suns upon a sounding sea.' The second volume, published in April 1846, confirmed and established Ruskin's fame, for though published anonymously the authorship was by this time an open secret. This treatise, though marred by a narrowness of temper and by some other faults, mercilessly exposed by the author himself in his notes to a revised edition in 1882, occupies a central place in Ruskin's system. It sets forth the spiritual as opposed to the sensual theory of art. It expresses what he elsewhere calls 'the first and foundational law respecting human contemplation of the natural phenomena under whose influence we exist, that they can only be seen with their properly belonging joy, and interpreted up to the measure of proper human intelligence, when they are accepted as the work and the gift of a Living Spirit greater than our own.' The author's acute analysis of the functions of imagination in art, and his descriptions, often not accurate in detail, but always original and suggestive, of pictures by the Florentine masters and Tintoret, added to the attraction of the volume. In style it bears evident traces of an imitation of Hooker, whom Ruskin had been urged by Osborne Gordon to study.

The completion of 'Modern Painters' was interrupted for ten years by various studies and by domestic circumstances. In 1847 Ruskin was invited by Lockhart to review Lord Lindsay's 'History of Christian Art' for the 'Quarterly' (June 1847). He did so, he says, for the sake of Lockhart's daughter, for whose hand he was a suitor, but he was doomed to a second disappointment in love, followed like his first by a breakdown in his health. His parents presently urged him to propose to the daughter of old friends of theirs. Euphemia ('Erne') Chalmers Gray was the eldest daughter of Mr. George Gray, a lawyer, of Bowerswell, Perth. She used to visit the Ruskins at Herne Hill; and it was for her, in answer to a challenge, that he wrote in 1841, at a couple of sittings, one of the most popular of his minor books, 'The King of the Golden River.' She had grown up into a great beauty, and her family, no less than Ruskin's parents, were anxious for the match. On 10 April 1848 they were married at Perth. He was about ten years her senior, and much more so in habits of life and thought. The honeymoon was cut short by the bridegroom's ill-health. After a continental tour later in the year, they settled in London at 31 Park Street. Ruskin was by this time one of the literary celebrities of the day, and had many friends and acquaintances in the literary and artistic world. Among these were Mr. G. F. Watts, the Brownings, Miss Jean Ingelow, Carlyle, Froude, and Miss Mitford, whose closing years he brightened with many delicate and generous kindnesses. Ruskin's wife was presented at court, and occasionally he took her to evening crushes. But he could not live long, he said, with a dead brick wall opposite his window, and London life interfered with the literary works in which he was absorbed. He retreated, therefore, with his wife to a house on Herne Hill, and afterwards to his parents at Denmark Hill. The winters of 1849-50 and of 1851-2 the Ruskins spent at Venice, he hard at work on measuring and sketching and reading, and only occasionally finding inclination for social distractions. 'I broke through my vows of retirement the other day,' he wrote to Mr. Fawkes of Farnley (Nineteenth Century, April 1900) 'to take Effie to one of Marshal Radetsky's balls at Verona. The Austrians have made such a pet of her that she declares if she ever leaves Venice it must be to go to Vienna.' In the summer of 1851 Ruskin had made the acquaintance of Millais. 'I have dined and taken breakfast with Ruskin,' writes the painter (2 July), 'and we are such good friends that he wishes me to accompany him to Switzerland this summer.' Millais's great picture of 1853 was the 'Order of Release' (now in the Tate Gallery); the figure of the woman was painted from Mrs. Ruskin. In that summer the Ruskins had taken a cottage at Glenfinlas. Millais and his brother William accompanied them, and stayed for some weeks at the neighbouring inn. Sir Henry Acland was also for a time of the party. The events of this tour are described in the 'Life of Millais' (vol. i. chap, v.), where several sketches of Mrs. Ruskin by the artist are given. 'We have immense enjoyment,' he wrote to a friend, 'painting out on the rocks, and having our dinner brought to us there, and in the evening climbing up the steep mountains for exercise, Mrs. Ruskin accompanying us.' Millais's portrait of Ruskin was done at this time. Ruskin was writing the 'Lectures on Architecture and Painting,' which he delivered at Edinburgh in November 1853 and published as a book in the following year. Millais drew the frontispiece, and Ruskin took occasion to allude in terms of high praise to the work of him and other pre-Raphaelites. Shortly afterwards a nullity suit was instituted by Mrs. Ruskin. The case was undefended by Ruskin; the marriage was annulled, and on 3 July 1855 Millais was married at Bowerswell to Euphemia Chalmers Gray.

The years of Ruskin's married life were a period of great literary activity. Soon after the second volume of 'Modern Painters' had appeared, Turner was seized by illness, and his works began to show a conclusive failure of power. Ruskin felt free to pursue the completion of his task without the pressure under which he had at first placed himself, and proceeded to collect at large and at leisure materials for an elaborate examination of the canons of art. This led him far afield into various lines of work. He spent the autumn of 1848, after a tour to Amiens and Normandy, in writing 'The Seven Lamps of Architecture.' This was an attempt to apply to architecture some of the principles he had sought to enforce in the case of painting. The Seven Lamps were sacrifice, truth, power, beauty, life, memory, and obedience; and the final test of the excellence of a work of architecture was to be the spirit of which it was an expression. The book is narrow in its religious outlook, and in later years its author denounced its 'wretched rant.' But it contains some of Ruskin's finest passages, and it had considerable influence in encouraging the Gothic revival of the time. The interest taken by Ruskin a few years later in the architecture of the Oxford Museum is recorded in the book which he and Acland published on the subject in 1859. 'Seven Lamps' was, further, 'the first treatise in English to teach the real significance of architecture as the most trustworthy record of the life and faith of nations.' It was published on 10 May 1849, and has been the most widely circulated of Ruskin's larger works. It was the first of them to be illustrated.

Another by-work of this period was Ruskin's advocacy of the pre-Raphaelites. At the time when he took up their cause he had no personal acquaintance with them, and their work was independent of his influence, though Mr. Holman Hunt had read the first two volumes of 'Modern Painters,' and felt they were 'written expressly for him' (Contemporary Review, April 1886). In 1851 the academy pictures of Millais and Hunt were bitterly attacked in the 'Times.' Millais asked Coventry Patmore [q.v. Suppl.] to see if Ruskin would take up their cause. Patmore did so, and on 13 and 30 May letters from Ruskin appeared in the 'Times' warmly defending the young artists. Ruskin also wrote to Millais offering to buy 'The Return of the Dove to the Ark.' To a new edition of 'Modern Painters' in this year he added a note of strong praise of pre-Raphaelitism. In August he issued a pamphlet entitled 'Pre-Raphaelitism,' in which he again defended Millais and Mr. Holman Hunt against the critics, and instituted a comparison between the former painter and Turner, finding in both alike the same sincerity of purpose. Ruskin's intervention on behalf of the pre-Raphaelites was a turning-point in their fortunes. It encouraged the painters themselves, confirmed patrons and picture-dealers, and caused many of the critics to reconsider their opinions. Ruskin's personal connection with Rossetti, the third of the pre-Raphaelite group, came somewhat later. In 1853 he had been in correspondence with McCracken (a Belfast packing-agent, and one of Rossetti's first buyers), highly extolling the artist's work, and in April 1854 he made Rossetti's acquaintance. He admired Rossetti greatly, and helped him liberally, agreeing to buy, if he happened to like it, whatever Rossetti produced. 'I cannot imagine any arrangement more convenient to my brother,' says Mr. W. M. Rossetti, 'who was thereby made comfortable in his professional position.' A year later Ruskin made equally generous provision for Rossetti's fiancee, Miss Siddal; he settled 150l. a year upon her, taking her drawings up to that value. She was thus enabled to go abroad for her health. Some characteristic letters from Ruskin to 'Ida, as he called her, are published in Mr. W. M. Rossetti's 'Ruskin, Rossetti, and Pre-Raphaelitism' (1899). Ruskin was also an admirer of Rossetti's early poetry, and paid for the publication of his translations from 'Early Italian Poets.' He did not admire the painter's habits. 'If you wanted to oblige me,' he wrote, 'you would keep your room in order and go to bed at night. All your fine speeches go for nothing with me till you do that.' In later years their friendship cooled. The part of disciple was not one which Rossetti could play, even to a master so delicate in his patronage as Ruskin.

Ruskin followed up his letters and pamphlets on the pre-Raphaelites by a series of annual 'Notes on the Royal Academy' (1855-9). The notes were very popular with the public, but less so with the artists. Ruskin hoped that certain criticisms passed by him on a friend's picture would 'make no difference in their friendship.' 'Dear Ruskin,' replied the artist, 'next time I meet you, I shall knock you down; but I hope it will make no difference in our friendship.' 'D the fellow!' said another young artist who enjoyed the critic's acquaintance; 'why doesn't he back his friends?' The jealousies thus provoked among his artist friends caused Ruskin to discontinue the publication, resuming it only for one year, in 1875. 'Punch' put the complaint at the time into the mouth of an academician:
I paints and paints,
Hears no complaints,
And sells before I'm dry;
Till savage Ruskin
Sticks his tusk in,
And nobody will buy.

The lament was not unnatural, for at this period Ruskin held the position almost of an art-dictator, and his opinions were a powerful factor in the sale-rooms. He somewhere explains that he was compelled perhaps as a just nemesis for his heterodox political economy to buy in the dearest and sell in the cheapest market; for that whenever he sold a Turner the price was run down because a drawing which he did not care to keep could not be worth much, while the price of one which he wanted to buy was at once run up. Ruskin's counsel was sought after by amateurs, by Louisa Lady Waterford among the number (see Story of Two Noble Lives. In W. B. Scott's Autobiographical Notes are some references to Ruskin's work at Wallington House, Northumberland, for Sir Walter and Lady Trevelyan, close friends of both men). Ruskin's position as an expert was recognised by various commissions and committees on artistic subjects. On the subject of the National Gallery Ruskin wrote at this time several letters and pamphlets. Turner, who had a warm regard for both the Ruskins, had appointed the son one of his executors. Foreseeing the litigation that ensued, Ruskin declined to act. But when at last the estate came out of chancery, Ruskin undertook the arrangement of the works which passed to the nation, and in this connection compiled several catalogues. The labour of sorting the nineteen thousand sketches was enormous. The arrangement of the Turner drawings which still obtains at the National Gallery is Ruskin's, but he protested, frequently and ineffectually, against the place allotted to them.

These were not the only by-works which interrupted the completion of 'Modern Painters.' Ruskin saw Venice crumbling away before his eyes and her pictures uncared for. He set himself, before it was too late, to trace the lines of her fading beauty, and 'to record, as far as I may, the warning which seems to me to be uttered by every one of the fast-gaining waves that beat, like passing bells, against the "Stones of Venice." 'With regard to this book, published 1851-3, Ruskin often complained that no one ever believed a word of his moral lessons deduced from the history of Venice as recorded in her monuments. But there has never been more than one opinion about the noble eloquence and haunting beauty of the descriptive passages, or about the permanent value of his work among the earlier masters of Venetian painting and sculpture and the earlier school of Venetian architecture. Ruskin's eminence as a writer on architectural subjects received some official recognition in 1874, when a proposal was made to confer the gold medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects upon him. He was travelling in Italy at the time, and was indignant at various restorations then in progress. He declined the honour, on the ground that architects were among the worst offenders (Ruskin Union Journal, March 1900). 'Stones of Venice,' which was fully illustrated by the author, and supplemented by a series of 'Examples of Venetian Architecture,' drawn on a larger scale, cost him an infinity of labour, of which he has left several records in his letters. 'I went through so much hard, dry, mechanical toil at Venice,' he writes to Norton, 'that I quite lost, before I left it, the charm of the place. Analysis is an abominable business. I am quite sure that people who work out subjects thoroughly are disagreeable wretches. One only feels as one should when one doesn't know much about the matter.' The 'Stones of Venice' and volume ii. of 'Modern Painters' gave an impetus to many art movements of the day. Such were the Arundel Society, which, largely under the direction of his friend Mr. Edmund Oldfield, did much to preserve records of the wall paintings of Italy; and the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings, which may be said to have taken as its motto Ruskin's words, 'Do not let us talk of restoration; the theory is a lie from beginning to end.' The enlargement of the National Gallery, by its now rich collection of early religious paintings, is also in no small measure owing to the persistence of Ruskin's advocacy and the influence of his works.

From another point of view the gist of 'Stones of Venice' was the chapter (vi. in vol. ii.) 'On the Nature of Gothic Architecture: and herein of the true functions of the workman in art.' This chapter, in which Ruskin takes as the touchstone of architectural styles their compatibility with the happy life of the workman, struck an answering chord in William Morris [q. v. Suppl.] A reprint of the chapter was one of the earlier productions of the Kelmscott press (1892). 'In future days' said Morris in a preface thereto, 'it will be considered as one of the very few necessary and inevitable utterances of the century. To some of us, when we first read it, it seemed to point out a new road on which the world should travel.' It was in this spirit that the chapter had been reprinted in 1854 at the instance of Dr. F. J. Furnivall (see his preface to 'Two Letters' from Ruskin to F. D. Maurice privately printed 1890) for distribution at the opening meeting of the Working Men's College in Great Ormond Street. 'Many of our men afterwards told me,' says Dr. Furnivall, 'how toucht they had been by Ruskin's eloquent appreciation of their class.' Ruskin's acquaintance with Maurice had sprung from correspondence on a pamphlet on the reunion of Protestant Christians which Ruskin had put out in 1851 under the title 'Notes on the Construction of Sheepfolds' a title which drew down upon the author an indignant remonstrance from a Scottish farmer who considered that his shilling had been obtained on false pretences. Ruskin, though not sympathising with Maurice's theology, warmly approved his social labours, and took charge from the commencement of the drawing classes at the college. He impressed D. G. Rossetti also into this service, and himself attended regularly until May 1858, after which time he gave only occasional lectures or informal talks. Ruskin was the first to provide casts from natural leaves and fruit in place of the ordinary conventional ornament. Among his pupils were Mr. George Allen (engraver, and afterwards Ruskin's publisher), Arthur Burgess (draughtsman and woodcutter), John Bunney (a skilful painter of architectural detail), and Mr. William Ward (a facsimile copyist of Turner). Arising out of Ruskin's work at the college were his books on 'The Elements of Drawing,' 1856, and 'The Elements of Perspective,' 1859.

Meanwhile Ruskin was engaged in many other subsidiary studies for the completion of 'Modern Painters.' In his continental tour of 1854 he was sketching in Switzerland. In 1855, he made studies of shipping at Deal, one outcome of which was his letterpress to Turner's 'Harbours of England,' 1856, with its famous description of a boat. In 1856 he was again in Switzerland, making studies at Chamouni and Fribourg for 'Modern Painters.' In 1858 he went to Switzerland and Italy, and spent some time in studying Paul Veronese at Turin. 'One day in the gallery,' says Mr. Augustus Hare, who happened to be there at the same time, 'I asked Ruskin to give me some advice. He said, "Watch me." He then looked at the flounce in the dress of a maid of honour of the queen of Sheba for five minutes, and then painted one thread; he looked for another five minutes, and then he painted another thread. At the rate at which he was working he might hope to paint the whole dress in ten years; but it was a lesson as to examining well what one drew before drawing it.' Ruskin's diaries and letters show that he took the same minute labour in recording natural facts and impressions of places and pictures. Some illustration of his geological studies in Switzerland is given in the 'Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh,' 1858. Nearly all serious reading was done, he says, abroad; the heaviest box in the boot being always full of dictionaries. The subsequent task of composition was done at home 'as quietly and methodically as a piece of tapestry. I knew exactly what I had got to say, put the words firmly in their places like so many stitches, hemmed the edges of chapters round with what seemed to me the graceful flourishes, touched them finally with my cunningest points of colour, and read the work to papa and mamma at breakfast next morning, as a girl shows her sampler.' Ruskin revised carefully all he wrote; a study of his manuscripts shows that alterations were introduced for accuracy rather than for display. The third volume of 'Modern Painters' was written at Denmark Hill in 1855 and published in the following January; the fourth followed 'n April, the fifth not till June 1860. The multifariousness of the work which delayed the completion of the book has been shown in the preceding paragraphs, and was amusingly set forth in a letter to Mrs. Carlyle of October 1855: 'I have written since May good six hundred pages. Also I have prepared about thirty drawings for engravers this year, retouched the engravings (generally the worst part of the business), and etched some on steel myself. In the course of the six hundred pages I have had to make various remarks on German metaphysics, on poetry, political economy, cookery, music, geology, dress, agriculture, horticulture, and navigation, all of which subjects I have had to read up accordingly, and this takes time. . . . During my above-mentioned studies of horticulture I became dissatisfied with the Linnean, Jussieuan, and everybody-elseian arrangement of plants, and have accordingly arranged a system of my own. . . My studies of political economy have induced me to think also that nobody knows anything about that; and I am at present engaged in an investigation, on independent principles, of the nature of money, rent, and taxes, in an abstract form, which sometimes keeps me awake all night. . . I have also several pupils, far and near, in the art of illumination; an American young lady to direct in the study of landscape painting, and a Yorkshire young lady to direct in the purchase of Turners, and various little by-things besides. But I am coming to see you' (printed by Prof. C. E. Norton in preface to Brantwood edition of Aratra Pentelici).

The last three volumes of 'Modern Painters,' though they complete with some method the plan of the work originally laid down by dealing further with ideas of beauty and discussing ideas of relation, contain Ruskin's thoughts on innumerable subjects. The sub-title which the author gave to the third volume, 'Of Many Things,' describes the whole book. It is 'a mass of stirring thoughts and melodious speech about a thousand things divine and human, beautiful and good.' The descriptive passages in the later volumes give back to the reader's eyes the hills and clouds and fields 'as from a fresh consecration' (address presented to Ruskin at Christmas 1885). 'I feel now,' wrote Charlotte Bronte, 'as if I had been walking blindfold; the book seems to give me eyes.' No prose book ever opened so many people's eyes to what nature is, to her beauty, her colour, to the stateliness and delicacy of mountains and trees, to the gracious aspect of clouds, piled up in mountainous cumuli, or fleecy and floating, or dishevelled and streaming like the locks of the Graiæ. 'Modern Painters' contains some self-contradictions. It was not a treatise written at one time. It embodies the development of its author's ideas from his seventeenth to his forty-first year. But 'in the main aim and principle of the book there is,' says Ruskin, 'no variation from its first syllable to its last. It declares the perfectness and eternal beauty of the work of God; and tests all work of man by concurrence with, or subjection to that.' In its immediate purpose -- the defence of Turner -- 'Modern Painters' is 'the most triumphant vindication of the kind ever published.' It has been called also 'the only book in the language which treats to any purpose of what is called æsthetics' (Mr. Leslie Stephen in National Review, April 1900). In its critical remarks upon painters its appreciations will survive, but many of its depreciations were exaggerated, and no longer stand. Apart from any more particular thesis the book is a sustained rhapsody on the beauty and wonder of nature, the dignity of art, and the solemnity and mystery of life. 'I venerate Ruskin,' said George Eliot after reading the later volumes of 'Modern Painters,' 'as one of the great teachers of the age. He teaches with the inspiration of a Hebrew prophet.' In style, no less than in matter, 'Modern Painters' shows many differences, and reveals the author's increasing mastery over the resources of language. It has been most admired for its descriptive passages, and these have indeed in prose never been surpassed. The only objection that can be urged against them is Matthew Arnold's that Ruskin 'tries to make prose do more than it can perfectly do.' Ruskin himself was of that opinion. The great poets, he said, did in a line what he did less perfectly in a page. But the book is memorable for much else than its word-paintings. Tennyson was once asked to name the six authors in whom the stateliest English prose was to be found. He replied, 'Hooker, Bacon, Milton, Jeremy Taylor, De Quincey, Ruskin.' But there are many notes in 'Modern Painters.' Its author's style had command of pathos, fancy, humour, irony, as well as stateliness and sonorous diction. The position attained by Ruskin by this work was recognised by a distinction conferred upon him in 1858, an 'honorary studentship' of Christ Church.

The last three volumes of 'Modern Painters' excited additional interest, and in their first edition command additional value, from the beautiful plates, executed mostly from Ruskin's own drawings by the best engravers of the day. Ruskin never cared to assert his own artistic gifts, and no adequate exhibition of his drawings was held in his lifetime. In 1878 he exhibited a few of his own landscapes along with his Turners at the Fine Art Society, and he was an occasional exhibitor at the Old Water-colour Society, of which he was elected an honorary member in 1873. Some of his drawings are in public collections -- the St. George's Museum at Sheffield and the Ruskin Drawing School at Oxford. A loan exhibition was held at the Fine Art Society's rooms in February 1901. He was an artist of real though restricted talent. He seldom attempted, and never successfully mastered, the use of oil-colours. He was, as he says himself, deficient in power of invention and design. (A painted window at the east end of Sir Gilbert Scott's church at Camberwell was designed partly by Ruskin, and he designed a window for the Oxford Museum.) He had no skill in the representation of the human form, though he could copy the figure well (e.g. his copy of Carpaccio's St. George at Sheffield). But his architectural drawings are incomparable in their kind, and some of his landscapes are as good as Turner's. The amount of his artistic production is astonishing, when we consider it as only a by-work of his life. It may be said that he was the most literary of artists and the most artistic of critics. What he claimed for himself was only such skill as to prove that he knew what the good qualities of drawing are. But many of his landscapes and architectural studies are as poetical as the passages of written words which accompany them. Ruskin is probably the only man who has described the same scenes with so large a measure of success in prose and verse and drawing. (For illustrated articles on Ruskin as an artist, see Scribner, December 1898; Studio, March 1900.)

With the completion of 'Modern Painters' begins a new period in Ruskin's literary life. He was then forty, and had finished the work by which he is popularly known as a writer of art. He now embarked on a new career. The title of his Manchester lectures in 1857, 'The Political Economy of Art,' was significant. Economics were henceforth to take the place of art. But it was not so much a change as a development. Ruskin's æsthetic criticism was coloured throughout by moral considerations. 'Yes,' said his father, after one of Ruskin's lectures on art, 'he should have been a bishop.' And Ruskin himself had proclaimed the moral basis of his artistic criticism. 'In these books of mine,' he wrote in 'Modern Painters,' 'their distinctive character, as essays on art, is their bringing everything to a root in human passion or human hope. They have been coloured throughout, nay, continually altered in shape, and even warped and broken, by digressions respecting social questions, which had for me an interest tenfold greater than the work I had been forced into undertaking. Every principle of painting which I have stated is traced to some vital or spiritual fact, and in my works on architecture the preference accorded finally to one school over another is founded on a comparison of their influences on the life of the workman, a question by all other writers on architecture wholly forgotten or despised.' But how was this question to be pushed into the front, and brought into vital relation with the arts? The thing, he felt with increasing force, had to be done. 'It is the vainest of affectations,' he wrote, 'to try and put beauty into shadows, while all real things that cast them are left in deformity and pain.' With such thoughts surging in his brain Ruskin went off to Switzerland so soon as 'Modern Painters' was fairly out of hand, busied himself in 'the mountain gloom,' and for the next ten years was silent, except for a few occasional papers and lectures upon merely artistic matters. He withdrew also more and more from the world and from his old home ties. His married life had been a failure, and the days passed in the happy companionship of his father and mother were now drawing to an end. His economic heresies, which had already begun to appear in his lectures, had somewhat weakened the bond of intellectual sympathy between him and his father; his emancipation from protestant orthodoxy, that between him and his mother. He remained to the end a most dutiful and affectionate son, but his inclinations turned to solitude. His health and spirits were alike broken, and sombre thoughts crowded in upon him. Another influence which tended to divert Ruskin from art and natural history was his friendship with Carlyle. They had become acquainted soon after the publication of the second volume of 'Modern Painters.' Ruskin was a frequent visitor at Cheyne Walk, and Carlyle would sometimes ride over to Denmark Hill and spend the afternoon in the gardens. Ruskin venerated Carlyle as his master, and treated him with beautiful kindness and deference. Carlyle on his side encouraged his disciple with ungrudging praise, and heralded each approach of his to the battlefield of social and economic controversy with loud applause. 'No other man in England,' wrote Carlyle to Emerson, 'has in him the same divine rage against falsity.'

In 1860 Ruskin was at Chamouni with W. J. Stillman (Century, January 1888). The greater part of the next two years, including two winters, he spent in Savoy with Mr. George Allen, mostly at Mornex. Wherever he happened to be, Ruskin was always interested in the 'condition of the people' question. In Italy he had been impressed by the necessity of preventing inundation and promoting irrigation (Arrows of the Chace and Verona and its Rivers). Among the Alps he made several attempts to buy land from various communes with a view to instituting agricultural experiments. The peasant holders thought he must have discovered a secret gold mine and declined to sell. 'The loneliness is very very great,' he wrote from Mornex to Mr. Charles Eliot Norton (whom he had met at Geneva in 1856, and who became one of his dearest friends), 'and the peace in which I am at present is only as if I had buried myself in a tuft of grass on a battlefield wet with blood.' It was in this mood that Ruskin devoted himself to economic studies. The result of his studies and the body of his economic doctrine were comprised in 'Unto this Last' (1860), being papers contributed to the 'Cornhill;' 'Munera Pulveris' (1862), a sequel to the foregoing, contributed in part to 'Fraser;' some letters on 'Gold' (1863); 'Time and Tide' (1867), and various minor letters and pamphlets in 1868. Faults which had not been absent from Ruskin's earlier books on art are conspicuous in his economic writings. Long ago, on the appearance of the first volume of 'Modern Painters,' Samuel Prout had pointed out the danger of exaggeration and discourtesy in controversy. In his books on economics Ruskin's petulance and contemptuous sarcasms had not always the justification of better knowledge. He was grossly unjust to Mill, with whose books he was insufficiently acquainted, and he raised needless animosities by not sufficiently distinguishing his terms. For his sins in this respect he paid the full penalty at the time. The papers in the 'Cornhill' caused so much offence that Thackeray stopped their publication  --  an event that did not interrupt Ruskin's friendly relations with the editor; and even Carlyle's recommendation and the friendship of Froude, then the editor of 'Fraser,' did not avail to avert a like fate in that magazine. Time brought its revenges, and Ruskin lived to see 'Unto this Last' (the book which he preferred to all the rest both for its substance and for its style) attain a great vogue, and to find many of his ideas and suggestions pass into the accepted political currency. In the main his strength as an economic writer lies where also lies his strength as an aesthetic writer  -- namely, in his penetrating power of vision. To break down the walls which in a complicated social system hide from men's eyes the actual and ultimate facts was Ruskin's mission. Carlyle called Ruskin's economical essays 'fierce lightning bolts,' and in very truth 'his impeachments (of the existing order) flash on the perceptive sense as lightning on the eye.' His was one of the principal forces of the time in quickening the sympathies and elevating the moral standards of the community. In the field of economic theory the prominence given by Ruskin to some fallacies -- — such as his denial of the productivity of exchange and his condemnation of interest as distinguished from usury  --  interfered for some time with the acceptance of him as a serious authority. Moreover, his expositions, though often displaying the greatest logical dexterity, were not presented in a continuous and systematic form. He had a love of paradox and wilful mystification, and it requires some tact to disentangle serious propositions from playful fancies. But gradually Ruskin's work made itself felt especially for its insistence upon the importance of the biological factor in all economic questions; and his writings have powerfully contributed to that recasting of economic doctrine which is still in progress. He insisted (1) 'that political economy can furnish sound laws of national life and work only when it respects the dignity and moral destiny of man; (2) that the wise use of wealth, in developing a complete human life, is of incomparably greater moment to men and nations than its production or accumulation, and can alone give these any vital significance; (3) that honourable performance of duty is more truly just than rigid enforcement of right; and that not in competition but in helpfulness, not in self-assertion but in reverence, is to be found the power of life' (address presented to Ruskin in 1885). Of the political suggestions contained in his economic writings of this period, some have by this time been carried out, and all are now within the range of practical discussion. His principal points were: a system of national education, the organisation of labour, the establishment of government training schools, old-age pensions (for 'soldiers of the ploughshare as well as of the sword'), and the provision of decent homes for the working classes. It requires some effort to realise that this was the programme which forty years ago was howled out of the magazines.

Ruskin greatly extended his influence during the period 1855–70 by lectures in all parts of the country. A complete list is given in Wise and Smart's 'Bibliography.' Exclusive of lectures at Oxford, they number fifty. He lectured at Eton and Woolwich; at the Royal Institution and before various learned societies; at working men's clubs and institutes; in most of the principal towns of the country. Sometimes the lectures were announced to be on art, sometimes on politics, or science, or history, or economics. The titles mattered little. He apologised on one occasion for calling his lecture 'Crystallography,' when it turned out to be on 'Cistercian architecture.' With Ruskin the teaching of art was the teaching of everything. He used the platform as a pulpit. His eloquence was that of the writer rather than the orator. He once told a London audience, with a touch of his peculiar humour, that he had intended to deliver them an extempore lecture, but that the trouble of writing an extempore lecture and then learning it by heart was too much for him, and so he would simply read what he had to say. He was a magnificent reader. The quotations from Homer or from Chaucer or from some other favourite author were declaimed as no other public man, except Gladstone, could have declaimed them. He read his own works with such perfect attention to emphasis and rhythm that they vibrate, like a strain of music, in the memories of his hearers. His voice was not powerful, but had a peculiar timbre, which was at once penetrating and attractive. His old-fashioned pronunciation, with the peculiar roll of the r's, seemed to be in perfect harmony with the mediæval strain in his thought. Everywhere he had crowds hanging on his lips. Even the scientific men whom he loved to denounce came and said, 'Let him roar again.' It should be remembered that nearly all Ruskin's later books were written for oral delivery. He had no space to convince by a long train of argument. His aim was to impress, and often to startle. In a few emphatic sentences he sought to bring his hearers to what he considered the root of the matter. The style he adopted was often too curt and absolute. But it was simpler, less elaborate, less self-conscious than that of his earlier works. 'It is not a style of purple patches, but its whole substance is crimsoned with the passionate feeling that courses through the eager and animated words ' (Norton). An important series of lectures, delivered to various audiences in 1857–8–9, were brought together under the title 'The Two Paths' (1859). The title indicates a common thread of doctrine running through discourses on many different subjects --  namely, the responsibility of the student for choice between art which is conventional in design, and pursued for the sake of display, and art which is devoted to the record of natural fact. At Christmas 1863 Ruskin returned from his mountain solitudes. On 3 March 1864, his father died. Miss Joanna Ruskin Agnew, his second cousin once removed, then came to live with his mother, but Ruskin for some time did not leave her side. In 1866, 1868, and 1869 he made tours with various friends on the continent. In the former year he sided with Carlyle on the Jamaica question, and made a speech at a meeting of the Eyre defence committee. Of the lectures of this period, the most important were those on the pleasures of reading and the sphere of women, collected under the title 'Sesame and Lilies' (1865), and on the duty of work and its reward, collected as 'The Crown of Wild Olive' (1866). To the same period belongs 'The Ethics of the Dust' (1866), a series of conversational lessons, delivered at a girls' school (Winnington Hall, Cheshire), in which, taking crystals as his text, Ruskin drew from them such lessons as their various characteristics suggested. 'A most shining performance,' wrote Carlyle, when the lectures were published; 'not for a long while have I read anything a tenth part so radiant with talent, ingenuity, lambent fire.' Ruskin's next work of importance was suggested by the reform agitation. In a series of 'Letters to a Working Man at Sunderland,' first published in newspapers at Manchester and Leeds (March to May 1867), and afterwards collected into 'Time and Tide' (1867), Ruskin embodied his thoughts on the question of the day. The letters are discursive and fanciful, but their main drift was to show that true 'reform' must be individual rather than by class, and moral rather than political. In this same year (1867) the honorary degree of LL.D. was conferred upon Ruskin at Cambridge, and he delivered the Rede lecture (not yet published). His subject was 'The Relation of National Ethics to National Art.' In 1879 the university of Oxford proposed to confer the honorary degree of D.C.L., but the proposal was postponed owing to his illness. The degree was conferred in his absence in 1893. In 1871 he had been elected lord rector of St. Andrews University, but, as a professor in an English university, he was found to be ineligible.

In connection with Ruskin's role as a preacher, some facts may be stated about his practice. Of the riches described by him in those books, 'The Treasures of True Kings,' he was himself a persistent accumulator and distributor. During his father's lifetime the son was allowed to act as his almoner  --  in generous and judicious help to artists, and in all sorts of gentle and secret charity. On his father's death Ruskin inherited a fortune of 157,000l., in addition to a considerable property in houses and land. The whole of this was dispersed during his lifetime, and he lived during his last years on the proceeds of his books. In 1885, by deed of gift, he made over his house and its contents to Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Severn, to whom also by will he left the residue of his property, 'praying them never to sell the estate of Brantwood, nor to let any portion of it upon building lease, and to accord during thirty consecutive days in each year such permission to strangers to see the house and pictures as I have done in my lifetime.' (As literary executors Ruskin appointed Mr. C. E. Norton and Mr. A. Wedderburn, Q.C.) Details of much of Ruskin's expenditure are to be found in curious pieces of self-revelation embodied in the appendices to 'Fors Clavigera.' His pensioners were numbered by hundreds; his charities, if sometimes indiscriminate, were as delicate as they were generous. He educated promising artists, and gave commissions for semi-public enterprises. He presented valuable collections of Turners to Oxford and Cambridge. To the Natural History Museum he presented several mineralogical specimens, including the large 'Colenso diamond' ('in honour of his friend the loyal and patiently adamantine first bishop of Natal') and the 'Edwardes Ruby' ('in honour of the invincible soldiership and loving equity of Sir Herbert Edwardes's rule by the shores of Indus'). To many schools and colleges he presented cabinets of minerals or drawings. In some forms of philanthropy he was a pioneer. He established a model tea shop. He organised, for the relief of the unemployed, gangs of street cleaners. He was the first to give Miss Octavia Hill the means of managing house property on the principle of helping the tenants to help themselves. He shared as well as gave. He thought no trouble too great to encourage a pupil or befriend the fallen.

With the last decade of Ruskin's active life (1870–80) his career entered on a new phase. The writer on economics now essayed to become practical reformer. In part the attempt was the payment of 'ransom.' The quiet and comfort of the house and grounds at Denmark Hill became intolerable to him from the thought of the misery of London. In 1871 his mother died, and the house was given up. Miss Agnew married Mr. Arthur Severn, and they lived in the old Ruskin home on Herne Hill. Ruskin bought from William James Linton [q. v. Suppl.] a house on Coniston lake, overlooking the Old Man, called Brantwood. This was his home for the remainder of his life. For some years, however, he paid frequent visits to London, where he still mixed in congenial society. He was also a member of the Metaphysical Society. The enlargement of the house and grounds at Brantwood became one of his principal pleasures, but he could not enter into his peace without making some effort to cure what seemed to him the anarchy outside. He established first an organ for his propaganda. This was 'Fors Clavigera,' a monthly letter 'to the workmen and labourers of Great Britain.' It is one of the curiosities of literature. Its discursiveness, its garrulity, its petulance are amazing. On reading it one is not inclined to dispute what Ruskin somewhere says of himself, that he was 'an impetuous and weakly communicative person.' Some of the eccentricity of his monthly miscellany was due to the gradual approach of a morbid irritability of the brain. But 'Fors' is full of passionate intensity; it abounds in forcible writing, and the ingenuity with which innumerable threads are knit together to enforce the author's economic principles is remarkable. For his new organ Ruskin provided himself with a new publisher. He set up his old pupil, Mr. George Allen, in the trade, and established a system of net prices. At first no discount was allowed to the booksellers; they were expected to add their own percentage to the published price. After a few years this heroic policy was abolished. The sale of Ruskin's books rapidly grew, and for many years before his death yielded him on the average 4,000l. a year. In America the sale of his books in cheap pirated editions had for many years been very extensive. Ruskin's monthly organ was used to preach a crusade and to found a society. 'I will stand it no longer,' he cried in the opening number of 'Fors' (January 1871), and threw himself with characteristic enthusiasm and self-sacrifice into an attempt to found a Utopia in England. There was to be a guild of companions enrolled under the banner of St. George to make 'a merrie England.' Tithes were to be given, and Ruskin himself paid 7,000l . --  a tithe of his then remaining possessions  --  into a trust for the purposes of the guild. Sir Thomas Dyke Acland and Francis Cowper-Temple (afterwards Lord Mount-Temple) were the original trustees. In May 1871 the scheme was made public. In 'Fors' for that month Ruskin called on any landlords to come and help him 'who would like better to be served by men than by iron devils,' and any tenants and any workmen 'who could vow to work and live faithfully for the sake of the joy of their homes.' 'That food can only be got out of the ground and happiness out of honesty' were the first two principles which the guild of St. George was to demonstrate; the third was that 'the highest wisdom and the highest treasure need not be costly or exclusive' (Prince Leopold's speech on Ruskin). The establishment of these principles led to three corresponding experiments, of (1) an agricultural, (2) an industrial, and (3) an artistic character respectively. The agricultural experiments were not a brilliant success. Ruskin drew many charming pictures of his ideal settlements, but the realities did not correspond to them. Sometimes the land, sometimes the settlers, and sometimes both proved intractable. Ruskin reaped from St. George's Farms a plentiful crop of disappointments and grumbles. An exception may be made in favour of St. George's land at Barmouth, of which an attractive account by Blanche Atkinson has been published (1900).

Among industrial experiments which directly or indirectly owe their origin to Ruskin were the revival of the hand-made linen industry in Langdale, which under Mr. Albert Fleming  ---  'master of the rural industries of Loughrigg'  --  gives employment to many of the peasants. Of a like nature was a cloth industry at Laxey, in the Isle of Man, established for Ruskin by Mr. Egbert Rydings; there are also one or two co-operative undertakings of a successful character which owe their inception to Ruskin's teaching (see Cook's 'Studies in Ruskin' and 'Ruskin and Modern Business' in the Spectator, 17 Feb. 1900).

The artistic branch of 'St. George's' work took shape in a museum at Sheffield. Originally established in 1875 in a cottage at Walkley with Henry Swan, a former pupil of Ruskin at the Working Men's College, as curator, the management of the museum was in 1890 taken over by the Sheffield corporation, and removed to an old hall in Meersbrook Park. Ruskin had for some years employed artists to sketch mediæval buildings in France and Italy, and copy pictures. An exhibition of these drawings was held at the Fine Art Society in May 1886. Most of them are now at Sheffield. Ruskin also sent to the museum, largely at his own cost, a collection of minerals and precious stones, architectural casts, drawings by himself and others, and a few manuscripts. The collection, admirably catalogued and arranged by its second curator, Mr. William White, attracts many visitors; it contains a series of examples illustrating Ruskin's point of view in many arts, and his ideas of the true function of local museums. St. George's schools were to be another institution in what Ruskin sometimes called his 'island of Barataria.' For he was not always quite so serious as his disciples supposed. It is not reported that he received with unmixed gratitude the homage of a disciple who spent most of his time in traversing the country with his own letters for delivery by foot, in order to discountenance the accursed railway system. Ruskin did not establish the schools which he sketched out very attractively in 'Fors.' But he wrote a prosody for use in them, and edited a 'Shepherd's Library.' Of more immediate applicability were the May Queen and Rose Queen festivals, which he established in some existing schools with characteristic generosity and ingenuity in graceful ordinance. He took much trouble in corresponding with the queens of his crowning (Saint George, October 1900). Ruskin was also the inspirer and the first president of 'The Art for Schools Association,' a body which has done extensive work in circulating high-class pictures among the elementary schools.

Ruskin's practical contributions towards establishing Utopia were suggestive in many directions rather than conclusive in any. In judging them, it should be remembered that the years in which he entered upon the role of social reformer were also those in which he was working himself almost to death at Oxford. In 1870 a professorship of fine arts (endowed by Felix Slade [q. v.] ) was for the first time established at Oxford, and Ruskin accepted a call to create the part of art professor. The work which he put into it was enormous. In the first place he delivered a long series of lectures: eleven courses (1870–7), two courses (1883–4). Eight of his later works (enumerated in the bibliography below), several of them including illustrations specially prepared, were written as Oxford lectures. On these he took greater pains, he said, than on any of his other books, and in them he revised and recast in the light of maturer knowledge the whole body of his art-teaching. The inaugural course is the final and most compact of all his statements on the fundamental canons of art. He was at the same time engaged in preparing handbooks (never completed) on geology ('Deucalion') and botany ('Proserpina'). Ruskin was not in sympathy or touch with the scientific movement of his time. But he had an extraordinary gift for observation. He used to say that he might, if he had chosen, have become the first geologist in Europe. His interest in geology and mineralogy was constant, and he anticipated in 1863 some of the modifications since made in the glacier theories of the day. For an instance of Ruskin's acute observation, mingled with fancy and poetry, the reader may refer to his description of the swallow in 'Love's Meinie.'

Ruskin conceived it to be a further part of his professorial duty 'to give what assistance I may to travellers in Italy.' The result was a series of guide-books to Venice, Florence, and Amiens. For the purpose of these books, as also of fresh illustrations for his lectures, Ruskin made several continental journeys, devoting special study to the works of Botticelli and Carpaccio. Ruskin also founded a drawing school at Oxford, to which he presented many valuable works of art. He endowed a drawing master, giving 5,000l. to the university for this purpose, and devoted long days to arranging series of examples (including many sketches of his own made for this purpose) and cataloguing them. Ruskin taught in the school, but very few undergraduates attended. His lectures, on the other hand, were crowded. For his first lecture (8 Feb. 1870), announced for the museum, the crowd was so great that an adjournment had to be made to the Sheldonian theatre. 'I have heard him lecture several times,' says Mr. Mallock, 'and that singular voice of his, which would often hold all the theatre breathless, haunts me still sometimes. There was something strange and aerial in its exquisite modulations that seemed as if it came from a disconsolate spirit hovering over the waters of Babylon and remembering Sion.' (For impressions of Ruskin's Oxford lectures see Cook's Studies in Ruskin and Century Mag. February 1898.)

Ruskin also devoted much time to cultivating the friendship of individual members of the university. In April 1871 he was admitted an honorary fellow of Corpus. His rooms  --  on the first floor right of No. 2 staircase in the fellows' buildings --  in which he placed many of his choicest pictures, drawings, minerals, and manuscripts, were 'an artistic Mecca,' and an intellectual centre of the highest kind' (see 'Ruskin at Corpus' in the Pelican Record, June and December 1894). Among Ruskin's disciples at Oxford was Mr. Mallock, who has given a good picture of him under the figure of Mr. Herbert  --  the only character sketch in 'The New Republic' which is not a caricature. Prince Leopold was a constant attendant at Ruskin's lectures, and Ruskin stayed with him at Windsor Castle in January 1878. The prince was one of the trustees for the Ruskin drawing school, and in his first public address (on 'University Extension,' at the Mansion House, 19 Feb. 1879) paid a high tribute to 'the privilege of Professor Ruskin's teaching and friendship.' One of the methods which Ruskin adopted for gathering a circle of ardent young men around him was the subject of much sarcastic comment. This was the road-digging experiment at Hinksey. A cynical don was fond of describing the strange adventures which befell him and his horse when they unwittingly attempted to ride along the Ruskin road. No one was more alive to the humorous side of the affair than Ruskin himself. The road, he used laughingly to admit, was about the worst, in the three kingdoms, and for any level places in it he gave the credit to his gardener, whom he incontinently summoned from Brantwood. But this experimental application of 'the gospel of labour' attracted a good deal of attention. In later years Ruskin used to talk of Tolstoi as his successor, and Tolstoi on his side spoke of Ruskin as one of the greatest men of the age (Cornhill, June 1892). Among the road-diggers was Arnold Toynbee [q. v.], and upon him 'intercourse with Ruskin had a stimulating effect more durable than the actual improvement of the road near Hinksey' (F. C. Montague, Arnold Toynbee). 'I tell you,' said Ruskin at the close of one of his Oxford lectures, 'that neither sound art, policy, nor religion, can exist in England until, neglecting, if it must be, your own pleasure gardens and pleasure chambers, you resolve that the streets which are the habitation of the poor, and the fields which are the playgrounds of their children, shall be restored to the rule of the spirits, whosoever they are, in earth and heaven, that ordain and reward, with constant and conscious felicity, all that is decent and orderly, beautiful and pure.' It was the conviction of this truth that led shortly afterwards to Toynbee's work in the East-end, and to the various university 'settlements' which grew out of it. Ruskin's influence has been considerably spread by Ruskin societies, unions, and guilds in various parts of the country. In Oxford a hall for working men is called by his name, and in Tennessee a Utopian settlement.

Under the double strain of his work at Oxford and of that of St. George's guild Ruskin's health broke down. During all this period he was also largely engaged in writing letters to the press on polemical subjects and in a polemical temper. He was like the living conscience of the modern world, and felt acutely the wrongs and wrongdoings of others. In no age could his sensitive heart have escaped these sorrows. 'Le pauvre enfant, il ne sait pas vivre' was the verdict of his Swiss guide upon him. In an earlier age he might have become a saint. In his own age he spent himself, his time, and his wealth in trying to illuminate and ennoble the lives of others. He was well aware that the dispersal of his energies in so many directions militated against full success in any. Yet he craved in moments of weariness for immediate and tangible results. He was disappointed that more of his friends did not come forward and enroll themselves under St. George's banner. 'It is not my work that drives me mad,' he once said, 'but the sense that nothing comes of it.' The strain upon his nervous system was increased by a private sorrow. He was deeply attached to a young Irish lady, Miss Rose La Touche (the 'Rosie' of 'Præterita,' vol. iii.) She had been introduced to him as a young girl in 1858; he had taught her drawing and hoped in after years to make her his wife. In 1872 she decided that it was impossible. Religious differences were among the obstacles. She was a strict evangelical. A little work of prose and verse published by her in 1870 is expressive of a deeply religious but somewhat morbid temperament. She fell into ill-heath and died in 1875. In Ruskin's writing three phases in religious feeling may be distinguished. He was brought up in the strictest sect of evangelicalism. In middle life he outgrew this early faith, and though he never lost his conviction of a personal God his views were widely tolerant. In the writings of his middle period he seldom made any appeal to Christian sanctions. The virtue which he taught was that of the Greeks, 'whose notion of heroism was giving one's life for a kiss and not getting it.' From 1875 onwards he resumed in his writings, under the stress of heightened feeling, a more definitely Christian standpoint. Of him, as of other eminent men, it was rumoured that he was inclined to Roman Catholicism. He enjoyed lunching, it was true, with 'my darling cardinal' (Manning), hut he found the 'puff pastry like papal pretensions  --  you had but to breathe on it and it was nowhere.' The death of 'Rosie' was the greatest grief of Ruskin's life. He suffered much from sleeplessness and had unnaturally vivid dreams. He came in contact with spiritualism, and mediums showed him the spirit of his dead lady. Her memory mingled in his mind with the vividly realised presence of St. Ursula, whose picture by Carpaccio was the subject of many references in his later lectures. In 1878 he had arranged an exhibition of his Turners at the Fine Art Society, and had nearly finished a catalogue for it, when he was seized with a dangerous attack of brain fever. In a few weeks he recovered, and was able to add some further notes to the catalogue. A body of subscribers presented him at this time with Turner's drawing of 'Splügen.' Ruskin's favourite Turners hung in his small and simple bedroom at Brantwood. (A picture by Mr. Arthur Severn of this room in which he died was exhibited in 1900.) In the same year (1878) the Grosvenor Gallery was opened, and Ruskin took occasion in 'Fors' to write an enthusiastic account of Sir Edward Burne-Jones [q. v. Suppl.], whose genius Ruskin had been among the first to recognise, and to whom in earlier years he had given commissions in Italy. Ruskin at the same time made a contemptuous reference to one of Mr. Whistler's 'Nocturnes.' Mr. Whistler brought an action for libel, which was tried before Baron Huddleston on 25 and 26 Nov. The jury awarded the plaintiff one farthing damages. Ruskin's costs were paid by a public subscription. Mr. Whistler took his revenge in a characteristic pamphlet (republished in 'The Gentle Art of making Enemies'). In 1879 Ruskin resigned his professorship, but was able to do occasional work on his many unfinished books. In 1880 and 1881 his illness recurred. An interval of restored health followed, and in 1883 he felt well enough to accept a second call to the Oxford professorship. His first series of lectures on 'The Art of England' (the leading schools and artists of the day) showed no failure of power; there were in them a greater geniality of criticism and a more hopeful outlook which seemed to augur well for the future. But the promise was delusive. The excitement of his public lectures, attended by ever-increasing and enthusiastic audiences, was too much for him. The nervous strain was more than he could withstand. A second series of lectures, on 'The Pleasures of England,' never very coherent, was broken off on the advice of Acland, Jowett, and others of his friends. He had been much vexed by the refusal of the university, on the ground of lack of funds, to give him the means for extending the Ruskin drawing school. This was followed by a vote for a new laboratory in which vivisection was to be permitted. In December 1884 Ruskin resigned his professorship. He had previously revoked a bequest of his remaining Turners and other treasures to the university.

Ruskin now retired into seclusion at Brantwood. His cousin, Mrs. Severn, with her husband and family, lived with him. To her he was deeply attached; she tended him in his illness and saved him from all preventable irritations. His brain attacks were intermittent, and at intervals during the next five years he did a good deal of miscellaneous literary work. He introduced to the public the sketches of Tuscan life in pen and pencil by his American friend, Miss Francesca Alexander. He wrote occasional articles in the magazines; prefaced various books by his friends; wrote a life of Sir Herbert Edwardes ('A Knight's Faith'); and continued his letters on questions of the day to the 'Pall Mall Gazette' and other papers. He also interested himself in educational experiments in the Coniston school. But the most important work of his last period was the fragment of autobiography, undertaken at the suggestion of his friend, Prof. C. E. Norton, and published at intervals during 1885–9 under the title of 'Præterita: outlines of Scenes and Thoughts perhaps worthy of Memory in my past Life.' This book contains occasional passages of description as fine as anything in 'Modern Painters,' and is marked throughout by limpid ease in the narrative, by the keenness of its recollections, and by brilliant character-sketches of friends and acquaintances.

'Præterita' was, however, not completed. Ruskin had planned out its conclusion, and chosen titles  --  in which respect he always showed a curious felicity  --  for the remaining chapters, as also for many chapters in a supplementary book of illustrative letters, etc., called 'Dilecta.' But the excitement of writing was too much for him. 'It is all nonsense,' he wrote to one of his friends, 'what you hear of overwork as the cause of my illness. These two times of delirium were both periods of extreme mental energy in perilous directions.' On one occasion he was talking with intense eagerness to Carlyle. 'You must take care,' said the old man; 'you will be making yourself ill once more.' Ruskin quite simply stopped short like a child. 'You are right, master,' he said, and went on to talk of something else. At a later period, however, he sank into deep depressions, and longed even for the visions to return. 'They were mostly visions of hell, it is true,' he said, 'but sometimes visions of heaven.' In the spring of 1887 he was again seized with brain trouble. He went in the autumn of that year to Sandgate, where he remained, with short visits to London, until the following summer  --  sometimes able to write, at others in a state bordering on insanity. In 1888 he made his last foreign journey --  to France, Switzerland, and Italy. On 18 Sept., by way of a short epilogue for a reissue of 'Modern Painters,' he wrote 'beneath the cloudless peace of the snows of Chamouni what must be the last words of the book which their beauty inspired and their strength guided.' His foreign tour brought him no renewal of strength. In the following summer he spent some time at Seascale, and there he wrote a chapter of 'Præterita.' It is dated 19 June 1889, and marks the close of his literary career. From that time forward infirmities of mind and body grew steadily upon him. Physically he enjoyed fairly good health for some years; but his brain was in decay, leading sometimes to disordered violence, more often to listless calm. 'Poor finger!' he said to one of his old friends, 'it will never hold pen again. Well, it has got me into much trouble; perhaps it is better so.' At times he recovered some of his old brightness, and talked of things and places and persons that he loved; sometimes also playing chess, a game of which he was very fond. 'That's my dear brother Ned,' he said one night, as he passed a portrait of his friend, Burne-Jones, on the stairs. The artist died the next day, and Ruskin was grievously affected. As outdoor air and exercise became distasteful, his hold on the world, alike of current affairs, of thought, and of imagination, grew weaker and weaker. He would sit still for hours, sometimes looking from his window upon his favourite view of lake and fell; at other times, with head bent listlessly, seeing and hearing his friends, but hardly joining at all in any general conversation. On his eightieth birthday he was presented with illuminated addresses from the university of Oxford, and from a body of admirers, including most of the leading men in art and literature. On 18 Jan. 1900 he was seized by influenza, the heart failed, and on 20 Jan., at 2 P.M., he passed peacefully away. The dean and chapter of Westminster offered a grave in the Abbey, but this was declined on the ground that he had expressed a wish to be buried wherever he might happen to die. He was laid in the churchyard of Coniston on 25 Jan. In Poets' Corner there is to be a medallion of him (by Mr. Onslow Ford, R.A.), immediately above the bust of Sir Walter Scott.

Ruskin was about 5 feet 10 inches in height, and as a young man he gave the appearance of being taller owing to his slight build. In later years his shoulders were bent, and his whole frame seemed shrunk. His smile was always radiant. He had piercing blue eyes under full brows. In middle life he grew side-whiskers; from the year 1879 a beard which, in his old age, was allowed to grow to its full length, giving him a very venerable appearance. His hair was brown, which never to the last turned completely grey. A light-brown spun tweed, a double-breasted waistcoat, an ill-fitting blue frock-coat with velvet collar, unstarched wristbands, and amplitude of blue necktie worn as a stock, reflected something of the quaintness of his mind and talk. If it were not for the peculiarly delicate hands and tapering fingers, denoting the artistic gifts, 'the Professor' (as he was habitually called) might have been taken for an old-fashioned country gentleman. Ruskin was an indefatigable worker. He always rose with the sun, and much of his literary work was done before his friends or the rest of his household were awake. He had the genius for friendship, and his private correspondence, no less than his public, was large. To innumerable friends he wrote in the charming vein which is to be seen in 'Hortus Inclusus' and other collections, and always in the same exquisitely neat and beautiful handwriting. To strangers who sought his help he would often write the most painstaking letters of counsel and encouragement. He was at his best when showing to a sympathetic friend his collections of pictures and drawings, his precious stones and minerals, his manuscripts and missals at Denmark Hill or Brantwood, for he took the keenest delight in sharing his treasures and his pleasures with others. He was sometimes momentarily hot-tempered, and was not averse from the use of strong language. But of the arrogance and intolerance often displayed in his writings when he assumed the prophet's mantle, there was in his private intercourse no trace. His written denunciations of classes of his fellow-countrymen and of particular persons were not intended to be taken too literally. No one was more courteous to radicals, lawyers, political economists, scientific persons, and others whom he professed to abhor. In general company Ruskin's conversation was apt to become monologue. On these occasions the beauty of phrase and flow of magical words were wonderful to listen to. D. G. Rossetti said that some of these monologues made all Ruskin's written words feeble and uninspired by comparison. On more familiar occasions he was whimsical, paradoxical, dictatorial, incalculable. There was always a flash of irony playing about his talk, which puzzled, teased, or delighted his listeners according to their temperament. His charm of manner was irresistible. 'No one,' says Mrs. Carlyle, 'managed Carlyle so well as Ruskin. It was quite beautiful to see him. Carlyle would say outrageous things, running counter to all Ruskin cared for. Ruskin would treat Carlyle like a naughty child, lay his arms around him, and say, "Now this is too bad!"' Of young girls Ruskin was the indulgent and devoted slave. But to all his friends, young and old, boy or maid, humble or distinguished, his manner had something of the same caressing charm. 'For the sake of others,' says Professor Norton, 'who have not known him as I have, I would declare my conviction that no other master of literature in our time has more earnestly and steadily endeavoured to set forth, for the help of those whom he addressed whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, and lovely; or in his own life has more faithfully tried to practise the virtues which spring from the contemplation of these things.' 'To my dear and ethereal Ruskin,' was Carlyle's inscription in the last book he gave to his disciple. 'I should wish,' wrote Jowett, after visiting Ruskin at Brantwood, 'never to lose the impression of the kind welcome which I received from him. He is the gentlest and most innocent of mankind.'



Among many portraits of Ruskin are:
1. As a child, aged three and a half, oil-picture by James Northcote, R. A. (at Brantwood). In this, as Ruskin relates in 'Præterita,' there is a background, at the child's special request, of 'blue hills.'
2. At the age of twenty-three, water-colour by George Richmond, R.A., exhibited at the academy, 1842 (at Brantwood).
3. At the age of thirty-four, oil-picture by Millais, full-length, standing bareheaded on the rocks beside Glenfinlas (in the collection of the late Sir Henry Acland; now, as an heirloom, in the possession of Rear-admiral Acland).
4. At the age of thirty-eight, head in chalk by George Richmond, R.A. (reproduced as frontispiece to the 'Selections' of 1862, now at Brantwood; not flattery, said the artist, 'only the truth lovingly told').
5. A few years later, a crayon drawing by Rossetti (formerly in the possession of Mr. Pocock of Brighton).
6. At the age of fifty-seven, an etching by M. Georges Pilotelle (produced for Noséda of the Strand).
7. At the age of sixty-one, a bust by Boehm (in the Ruskin Drawing School, Oxford).
8. A year later, 1881, life-size portrait in water-colour by Mr. Herkomer, R.A., exhibited at the Grosvenor same year.
9. Executed in 1884, and exhibited at the New Gallery in 1889, a bust by Mr. Conrad Dressler: the first portrait of Ruskin with a beard: 'it makes me look far crazier,' said the sitter, 'than ever I've been.'
10. Painted in 1898–9, with long beard, oil-picture by Arthur Severn (now at Brantwood). 11. A very fine photograph by Mr. F. Hollyer, half-length, seated with long flowing beard, taken in 1895. (Illustrated articles on portraits of Ruskin appeared in the 'Magazine of Art' for 1891.)

The complete bibliography by Thomas J. Wise and James P. Smart, issued in 1893, and giving letters, lectures, and minor Ruskiniana, included 1,152 entries. 114 volumes (large or small) bear Ruskin's name as author, and to twenty-nine other volumes he contributed prefaces or other matter. There has as yet been no collective edition of his works. Of an octavo series of 'Works' commenced in 1871, only eleven volumes were published. They were issued in boards and in what is now called in the trade 'Ruskin calf,' a purple chosen by himself. Since 1882 many of the books have been issued in a uniform edition, crown 8vo (referred to below as 'small edition'). The following is a chronological list of the principal works and editions:
1. 'The Poetry of Architecture,' in London's 'Architectural Magazine,' 1837-1838; first published separately, 1893, medium 4vo (illustrated).
2. 'Modern Painters,' 1843, vol. i.; 1846, vol. ii.; 1856, vol. iii. (illustrated); 1856, vol. iv. (illustrated); 1860, vol. v. (illustrated). Vol. i. of the first and second editions was large crown 8vo; the third edition and all the other volumes were imperial 8vo. The first edition of this book commands high prices on account of the plates. 'Autograph edition,' 1873, 5 vols. imperial 8vo (impressions from the original plates); ' complete edition,' with new index and collation of different editions, 1888, 6 vols. imperial 8vo (three additional plates, some of the others re-engraved); small complete edition (reduced plates), 1897, 6 vols. crown 8vo.; 're-arranged edition' of vol. ii. 1883, crown 8vo (now in 5th edit.) 'Frondes Agrestes' (readings in 'M.P.') 1875, crown 8vo (now in 34th thousand).
3. 'The Seven Lamps of Architecture' (illustrated), 1849, imperial 8vo (plates drawn and etched by the author); second edition (plates re-etched by R. P. Cuff), 1855; third edition (with new preface and selected aphorisms set in larger type), 1880; small edition, 1890 (now in 31st thousand).
4. 'Poems,' 1850, post 8vo (mostly collected from periodicals), privately printed. Very scarce; a copy has fetched 50l. Published (with additions), 1891, 2 vols. 4vo, illustrated; small edition (reduced plates), 1891.
5. 'The King of the Golden River' (illustrated by R. Doyle), 1851, small square 8vo (now in 22nd thousand). A fine copy of the first edition has fetched 10l.
6. 'Pre-Raphaelitism,' 1851.
7. 'The Stones of Venice' (illustrated), imperial 8vo, vol. i. 1851, vol. ii. 1853, vol. iii. 1853; 'Autograph edition' of the three vols. 1874, imperial 8vo; 'complete edition' (with new index), 1886, 3 vols. imperial 8vo; small edition (complete), 1898; 'Traveller's edition' (selected chapters with new matter, unillustrated), 1879, 2 vols. crown 8vo (now in its eighth edition). 'On the Nature of Gothic Architecture,' 1854 (Kelmscott Press edition, 1892).
8. 'Examples of the Architecture of Venice' (plates, with descriptive letterpress), 1851, atlas folio.
9. 'Notes on the Construction of Sheepfolds,' 1851, 8vo (now in fourth edition).
10. Giotto and his Works in Padua' (notes to accompany a series of woodcuts executed for the Arundel Society), 1854, royal 8vo; small edition, with photographic illustrations of the frescoes, 1900.
11. 'Lectures on Architecture and Painting' (illustrated), 1853, crown 8vo; small edition, 1891 (now in its 6th thousand).
12. 'Notes on some of the principal Pictures exhibited in the Rooms of the Royal Academy,' etc., 8vo, No. i. 1855, ii. 1856, iii. 1857, iv. 1858, v. 1859, vi. 1875.
13. 'The Harbours of England' (illustrated with engravings from drawings by Turner), 1856, folio; small edition, with photogravures from the plates, 1894.
14. 'Notes on the Turner Gallery at Marlborough House' (oil-paintings now at the National Gallery), 1856, 8vo. 'Catalogue of Sketches and Drawings by Turner' (now at the National Gallery), 1857, 8vo. 'Catalogue of the Turner Sketches in the National Gallery,' 1857, pt. i. 8vo (no more issued). 'Catalogue of the Drawings and Sketches of Turner at present exhibited in the National Gallery,' 1881, 8vo; illustrated edition, crown 8vo, 1899.
15 'The Political Economy of Art,' 1857, 16mo; reissued with additional papers under the title 'A Joy for Ever (and its Price in the Market),' 1880 (vol. xi. of 'Works'); small edition, 1887 (now in its 13th thousand).
16. 'The Elements of Drawing' (illustrated), 1857, crown 8vo; new edition (uniform with the 'small edition'), 1892 (now in the 14th thousand).
17. 'Inaugural Address at the Cambridge School of Art,' 1858, 8vo.
18. 'The Oxford Museum,' by H. W. Acland and John Ruskin (illustrated), 1859, post 8vo; new edition, with preface by Acland and message from Ruskin, 1893, crown 8vo.
19. 'The Two Paths' (illustrated), 1859, crown 8vo; new edition (vol. x. of 'Works'), 1878, 8vo; small edition, 1887 (now in 14th thousand); the edition of 1859 contains two plates afterwards cancelled.
20. 'The Elements of Perspective,' 1859, crown 8vo (the only edition).
21. 'Unto this Last,' 1862, foolscap 8vo; a cheaper edition, now in its 35th thousand; 'Popular' edition (in paper covers) issued in 1900, and now in its 34th thousand; the total issue of the book has exceeded 70,000. There have also been several editions of a penny pamphlet of extracts entitled 'The Rights of Labour according to John Ruskin.'
22. 'Sesame and Lilies,' 1865, foolscap 8vo. This, the most popular of Ruskin's works, has been issued in four different forms: (a) the original edition, two lectures with no preface; (b) two lectures, with a long preface (about the Alps), 1865, three editions; (c) 'Works' series, vol. i. with a new preface (largely autobiographical), 1871, and an additional lecture on 'The Mystery of Life' ('the most perfect of his essays'  --  Mr. Leslie Stephen, National Rev. April 1900), sixth edition, 1900; the same contents in cheaper form, 48th thousand, 1900; (d) original edition with a distinct preface, 1882; 50th thousand, 1900. In all, at least 110,000 copies of 'Sesame' have been issued.
23. 'The Ethics of the Dust,' 1866, crown 8vo; second edition, with new preface, 1877 (now in its 21st thousand).
24. 'The Crown of Wild Olive: three Lectures on Work, Traffic, and War,' 1866, foolscap 8vo (two other editions in this form). With an additional lecture on 'The Future of England,' and an appendix on 'Prussia,' 'Works,' vol. vi. (now in its third edit.); small edition of the same (now in 33rd thousand).
25. 'Time and Tide by Weare and Tyne,' 1867, foolscap 8vo ('Works,' vol. ii. 1872); small edition 1886 (now in 14th thousand).
26. 'The Queen of the Air,' 1869, crown 8vo ('Works,' vol. ix. 1874); small edition, 1887 (now in 15th thousand).
27. 'Lectures on Art delivered before the University of Oxford,' 1870, 8vo (two other editions in this form); small edition, with new preface, 1887 (now in 13th thousand). Several catalogues of the collections in the Ruskin Drawing School, referred to in the 'Lectures,' were issued, 1870–3.
28. 'Fors Clavigera' (illustrated), 1871–84, 8vo. Ninety-six 'Letters to the Workmen and Labourers of Great Britain,' originally issued as separate publications, subsequently collected into 8 vols. (8vo) and 4 vols. (crown 8vo). The first and second thousands of Letter lvii. are of interest to collectors as containing 'an attack on Mr. Gladstone written under a complete misconception of his character.' This was afterwards omitted and a blank space left 'in due memorial of rash judgment.' Several reports and papers referring to St. George's Guild were separately published. A 'Letter to Young Girls,' reprinted with additions from 'Fors,' was published in 1876, and is now in its 72nd thousand.
29. 'Munera Pulveris,' 1872, being vol. ii. of the 'Works;' small edition, 1886 (now in 8th thousand). 'Gold: a Dialogue connected with the subject of "Munera Pulveris,"' written in 1863, in reply to an article by Professor Cairnes, and intended for 'Fraser's Magazine,' was first printed (for private circulation) in 1891.
30. 'Aratra Pentelici: Six Lectures on the Elements of Sculpture' (illustrated), 1872, being vol. iii. of the 'Works.' The seventh lecture of this course, 'The Relation between Michael Angelo and Tintoret,' was published separately and ran through three editions; small edition of the seven lectures, 1890.
31. 'The Eagle's Nest: Ten Lectures on the Relation of Natural Science to Art,' 1872 (vol. iv. of the 'Works'); small edition, 1887 (now in 12th thousand).
32. 'Love's Meinie: Lectures on Greek and English Birds,' 1881, vol. i. 8vo (originally issued in three separate parts, 1873–81); small edition, 1897. The work was never completed.
33. 'Ariadne Florentina: Six Lectures on Wood and Metal Engraving' (illustrated); originally issued in seven separate parts (1873–6); collected into a volume (vii. of the 'Works'), 1876; small edition, 1890.
34. 'Val d'Arno: Ten Lectures on the Tuscan Art directly antecedent to the Florentine Year of Victories' (illustrated), 1874 ('Works,' vol. viii.); small edition, 1890.
35. 'Mornings in Florence,' issued in six separate parts, 1875–7, crown 8vo; collected into a volume 1889 (now in 11th thousand).
36. 'Proserpina: Studies of Wayside Flowers while the Air was yet pure among the Alps and in the Scotland and England which my Father knew' (illustrated); issued in ten separate parts, 1875–86, 8vo; parts i–vi. collected into vol. i. 1879.
37. 'Deucalion: Collected Studies of the Lapse of Waves and Life of Stones' (illustrated) ; issued in eight separate parts, 1875–83; parts i–vi. collected into vol. i. 1879.
38. 'Bibliotheca Pastorum,' 8vo: vol. i., 'The Economist of Xenophon,' with essay by Ruskin, 1876; vol. ii., 'Rock Honeycomb: Broken Pieces of Sir Philip Sidney's Psalter laid up in store for English Homes,' with preface and commentary by Ruskin, 1877; vol. iii. (not issued); vol. iv., 'A Knight's Faith: Passages in the Life of Sir Herbert Edwardes,' collated by Ruskin, 1885.
39. 'Guide to the Principal Pictures at the Academy of Fine Arts, Venice,' issued in two parts, 1877, 8vo; revised and corrected edition in one volume, 1891.
40. 'St. Mark's Rest: the History of Venice, written for the help of the few Travellers who still care for her Monuments,' issued in six separate parts, 1877–84, crown 8vo; collected into one volume, 1884.
41. 'The Laws of Fésole: a familiar Treatise on the Elementary Principles and Practice of Drawing and Painting' (illustrated), issued in four separate parts, 1877–8, 8vo; collected into vol. i. 1879. No more was issued.
42. 'Notes by Mr. Ruskin on his Drawings by Turner exhibited at the Fine Art Society's Galleries, March 1878;' twelve editions (8vo) were issued in rapid succession, also an illustrated edition, 4to. In 1900, when the drawings were again exhibited after Ruskin's death, the 'Notes' were reprinted.
43. 'Notes by Mr. Ruskin on Samuel Prout and William Hunt, illustrated by a Loan Collection of Drawings exhibited at the Fine Art Society's Galleries, 1879-80,' 8vo; also an illustrated edition, 4vo.
44. 'Letters to the Clergy on the Lord's Prayer and the Church,' 1879, crown 8vo.
45. 'Arrows of the Chace,' 1880, 2 vols. 8vo; a collection of letters published chiefly in the newspapers, 1840–80.
46. 'Our Fathers have told us: Sketches of the History of Christendom for Boys and Girls who have been held at its Fonts. Part i. The Bible of Amiens' (illustrated), issued in five separate parts, 1880–5, 8vo; collected into a volume, 1884. A separate 'Traveller's edition' of chap. iv. crown 8vo was issued in 1881 to serve as a guide to the cathedral.
47. 'The Art of England: Lectures given in Oxford,' 1884, small 4vo.
48. 'The Pleasures of England: Lectures given in Oxford,' 1884, small 4vo, issued in four separate parts; not completed or separately collected; small edition of the four parts in one volume together with 47 (now in 9th thousand).
49. 'The Storm Cloud of the Nineteenth Century: Two Lectures delivered in the London Institution,' 1884, small 4vo.
50. 'On the Old Road,' 1885, 3 vols. 8vo; a collection of miscellaneous essays, pamphlets, etc., written 1834–85.
51. 'Præterita,' originally issued in twenty-eight separate parts, 1885–9, 8vo; the first twenty-four parts collected into vols. i. and ii. 1886–7; vol. iii., issued in 1900, consists of the remaining four parts, and of three parts of 'Dilecta' (correspondence, etc., illustrating 'Præterita').
52. 'Hortus Inclusus,' 1887, small 8vo; letters from Ruskin to the Misses Mary and Susie Beever.
53. 'Three Letters (by Ruskin) and an Essay, 1836-41, found in his Tutor's Desk' (Rev. T. Dale), 1893, crown 8vo.
54. 'Verona and other Lectures' (illustrated), 1894, medium 8vo.
55. 'Letters addressed to a College Friend during the Years 1840–5,' 1894, crown 8vo.
56. 'Lectures on Landscape delivered at Oxford in Lent Term, 1871' (illustrated), 1897, folio. In addition to Ruskin's published writings he had at various times collected materials for many other works. A few chapters, found completed among his manuscripts, are likely to be included in a forthcoming collected edition of his works. Of late years Ruskin's writings have attracted some attention on the continent. Accounts or translations of some of them have appeared in French, German, Italian, Dutch. The most important of the foreign Ruskiniana is 'Ruskin et la Religion de la Beauté,' by Robert de la Sizeranne (Paris, 1897; English translation, 1899).'



[The fullest authority for Ruskin's early life is Præterita. For his middle life it is less complete, and it does not extend beyond 1860. Most of his other writings, and especially Fors Clavigera, are to some extent autobiographical. -- The Life and Work of John Ruskin, 2 vols. 1893, and The Life of John Ruskin, 1900, by W. G. Collingwood, are written by one who, as a pupil at Oxford, and afterwards as a literary assistant and neighbour, knew him well. -- The Life of 1900 contains many letters by Ruskin and his parents not elsewhere published. -- Mr. C. E. Norton's prefaces to the American 'Brantwood' edition of Ruskin's Works have valuable biographical matter. -- Several volumes of Ruskin's letters have been privately printed in Mr. T. J. Wise's Ashley Library. -- A large number of letters (not included in Arrows of the Chace) is given in Ruskiniana (privately printed, 1890). -- Another collection of letters appeared in the New Review, March 1892. -- Letters of Ruskin and other references to him appear in many biographies; among others, Rogers and his Contemporaries, 1889; -- The Letters of James Smetham, 1891; -- The Life and the Friendships of Mary Russell Mitford, 1882; -- Froude's Life of Carlyle in London, 1884; -- Letters of Joseph Severn, 1892; -- Memoir of Dean Liddell, 1899; -- Memoir and Correspondence of Coventry Patmore, 1900. -- In addition to sources already mentioned, the following, among others, have been referred to: -- Mrs. Richmond Ritchie's Records of Tennyson, Ruskin, and Browning, 1892; -- M. H. Spielmann's John Ruskin, 1900; -- memoirs in the Daily News and Manchester Guardian, 27 Jan. 1900; -- Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement; Ruskin, John, by Edward Tyas Cook.']

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Ruskin's death, as we all agreed, deprived us of the one man of letters who had a right to burial in Westminster Abbey. We may rejoice that his representatives preferred Coniston. The quiet churchyard in a still unpolluted country was certainly more appropriate for him than the 'central roar' of what he somewhere calls 'loathsome London.' But the general consent marks the fact that Ruskin had come to be recognised as a compeer of the greatest writers of the age.

Studies of a Biographer by Leslie Stephen

Referenced in: Historians and Biographers

In the Life of John Ruskin, by his Secretary, W. G. Collingwood, the splendid gifts, the many eccentricities, and the fine humanity of this great writer are adequately portrayed. Additional Biographers: Professor Knight's William Wordsworth and Professor Dowden's Shelley are also admirable specimens of literary biography, and the most authoritative works on their respective subjects.


Webmaster Note: Please forgive grammatical and typographical errors herein; I manually typed content from one of the many University textbooks yet in my possession.



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