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Title: Letters to the Clergy - On The Lord's Prayer and the Church
Author: Ruskin, John, 1819-1900
Language: English
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                            TO THE CLERGY


                  _The Lord's Prayer and the Church_

                    BY JOHN RUSKIN, LL.D., D.C.L.

                      AN EPILOGUE BY MR. RUSKIN

                      REV. F. A. MALLESON, M.A.

                            THIRD EDITION





                       [_All rights reserved_]

                 _Printed by_ BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO

                      _At the Ballantyne Press_


The first reading of the Letters to the Clerical Society to which they
were first addressed in September 1879, twenty-three clergy being
present, was prefaced with the following remarks:--

     A few words by way of introduction will be absolutely necessary
     before I proceed to read Mr. Ruskin's letters. They originated
     simply in a proposal of mine, which met with so ready and willing a
     response, that it almost seemed like a simultaneous thought. They
     are addressed nominally to myself, as representing the body of
     clergy whose secretary I have the honour to be; they are, in fact,
     therefore addressed to this Society primarily. But in the course of
     the next month or two they will also be read to two other Clerical
     Societies,--the Ormskirk and the Brighton (junior),--who have
     acceded to my proposals with much kindness, and in the first case
     have invited me of their own accord. I have undertaken, to the best
     of my ability, to arrange and set down the various expressions of
     opinion, which will be freely uttered. In so limited a time, many
     who may have much to say that would be really valuable will find no
     time to-day to deliver it. Of these brethren, I beg that they will
     do me the favour to express their views at their leisure, in
     writing. The original letters, the discussions, the letters which
     may be suggested, and a few comments of the Editor's, will be
     published in a volume which will appear, I trust, in the beginning
     of the next year.

     I will now, if you please, undertake the somewhat dangerous
     responsibility of avowing my own impressions of the letters I am
     about to read to you. I own that I believe I see in these papers
     the development of a principle of the deepest interest and
     importance,--namely, the application of the highest standard in the
     interpretation of the Gospel message _to_ ourselves as clergymen,
     and _from_ ourselves to our congregations. We have plenty elsewhere
     of doctrine and dogma, and undefinable shades of theological
     opinion. Let us turn at last to practical questions presented for
     our consideration by an eminent layman whose field of work lies
     quite as much in religion and ethics, as it does, reaching to so
     splendid an eminence, in Art. A man is wanted to show to both
     clergy and laity something of the full force and meaning of Gospel
     teaching. Many there are, and I am of this number, whose cry is
     "_Exoriare aliquis_."

     I ask you, if possible, to do in an hour what I have been for the
     last two months trying to do, to divest myself of old forms of
     thought, to cast off self-indulgent views of our duty as ministers
     of religion, to lift ourselves out of those grooves in which we are
     apt to run so smoothly and so complacently, persuading ourselves
     that all is well just as it is, and to endeavour to strike into a
     sterner, harder path, beset with difficulties, but still the path
     of duty. These papers will demand a close, a patient, and in some
     places, a few will think, an indulgent consideration; but as a
     whole, the standard taken is, as I firmly believe, speaking only
     for myself, lofty and Christian to the extent of an almost ideal
     perfection. If we do go forward straight in the direction which Mr.
     Ruskin points out, I know we shall come, sooner or later, to a
     chasm right across our path. Some of us, I hope, will undauntedly
     cross it. Let each judge for himself, [Greek: tô telei pistin


                         TO THE THIRD EDITION

Having been urged to bring out a new edition of the volume first edited
by me in 1880, and having willingly accepted the invitation to do so, it
will naturally be expected that I should give some account of the
circumstances which have led me to take the somewhat unusual step of
reviving a book which has for twelve years been lying in a state of
suspended animation.

On the first conception of this volume I applied to Messrs. Strahan, to
produce it before the reading and thinking world. I should have done
more wisely, no doubt, had I offered the publication to Mr. George
Allen, Mr. Ruskin's well-known publisher. It avails not to explain why I
chose a different course, of which subsequent events only too soon
showed me the error; for after the first edition had been sold off in a
week, and while the second was partly sold and partly in preparation,
Messrs. Strahan's failure was announced, greatly to my surprise; my
somewhat isolated position in the north country so far from London
keeping me very imperfectly informed as to what was passing in the
literary world.

Reasonable, business-like people would ask, why did I not make an effort
to rescue my little barque out of the general wreckage, and why did I
not, remembering that Mr. Ruskin had with much kindness freely bestowed
the copyright on me, save the second edition and arrange with another
publisher to carry the work on? But I was failing at the time with the
illness which was effectually cured only by a long sojourn amidst or
very near to the ice and snow of the Alps. I was incapable of much
exertion, and, in fact, did not much care. Besides which I am not a
professed literary man, being chiefly interested in the work of my rural
parish on the borders of the Lake District, and should not think it
fair, or even possible, if I may use an equestrian metaphor, to attempt
to ride two horses at once.

So Mr. Ruskin's letters, etc., as edited by the present writer, came to
be entirely laid by, though not forgotten by the hosts of Mr. Ruskin's
friends, followers, and admirers, who regretted the suspension of so
valuable a work and so rich in great thoughts, teachings, and

So things remained until August 1895, when a new friend, Mr. Smart, gave
me the pleasure of a visit, and we talked over the circumstances just
narrated. Passing over several very pleasant meetings in London, let it
be sufficient to mention that under the impulse of Mr. George Allen's
encouragement, and cheered by the valuable assistance and co-operation
of another friend, Mr. T. J. Wise, I agreed to carry forward this Third
Edition with the full approbation and consent of Mr. Ruskin himself,
though it should be said that on account of the state of his health, I
have been unable to consult him on any of the details of the

But it will not be exactly the same volume. Mr. Allen and Mr. Wise,
having gone over much of my correspondence with Mr. Ruskin, were good
enough to express a desire that some of those letters addressed to
myself as a friend should be embodied in the present volume, as being
strongly illustrative of his views on the subjects dealt with in his
more formal Letters to the Clergy. I may claim pardon for a feeling of
great satisfaction with the circumstance that in the course of so long
and so delicate a correspondence as is contained in this volume, never
has a cloud overshadowed our paths in this matter, never has a cold
blast from the east sent a shiver through my system, nor, I presume,
his. For had Mr. Ruskin felt any resentment at anything I wrote, with
his usual downright frankness he would not have been backward for an
hour in expressing in vehement language what he felt. But from first to
last my intercourse with that kind and eminently distinguished friend
has been kept bright and happy by his unvarying serenity.

The Letters from Clergy and Laity in this Third Edition occupy much less
space than in the original one. It was Mr. Ruskin's wish that they
should be subjected to some process of abridgment; besides which the
allowing of space for the new feature of additional Ruskin Letters made
a curtailment in another direction necessary. The plan which seemed to
me the least discourteous to my numerous correspondents of that time has
been to make a selection of passages from a certain number of the

                                                    F. A. MALLESON.



     _January 1896._



  INTRODUCTION                                                  v

  PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION                                 xi


          LETTER    I.                                          3

            "      II.                                          5

            "     III.                                          8

            "      IV.                                          9

            "       V.                                         12

            "      VI.                                         15

            "     VII.                                         19

            "    VIII.                                         25

            "      IX.                                         32

            "       X.                                         36

            "      XI.                                         42

  ESSAYS AND COMMENTS. BY THE EDITOR                           49


  VICARAGE OF BROUGHTON-IN-FURNESS                            219

  EPILOGUE BY MR. RUSKIN                                      287

  APPENDIX                                                    323

                         MR. RUSKIN'S LETTERS


                                      BRANTWOOD, CONISTON, LANCASHIRE,
                                            _20th June, 1879_.

DEAR MR. MALLESON,--I could not at once answer your important letter:
for, though I felt at once the impossibility of my venturing to address
such an audience as you proposed, I am unwilling to fail in answering to
any call relating to matters respecting which my feelings have been long
in earnest, if in any wise it may be possible for me to be of service
therein. My health--or want of it--now utterly forbids my engagement in
any duty involving excitement or acute intellectual effort; but I
think, before the first Tuesday in August, I might be able to write one
or two letters to yourself, referring to, and more or less completing,
some passages already printed in Fors and elsewhere, which might, on
your reading any portions you thought available, become matter of
discussion during the meeting at some leisure time, after its own main
purposes had been answered.

At all events, I will think over what I should like, and be able, to
represent to such a meeting, and only beg you not to think me insensible
of the honour done me by your wish, and of the gravity of the trust
reposed in me.

                                    Ever most faithfully yours,
                                                          J. RUSKIN.



                                                  BRANTWOOD, CONISTON,
                                                   _23rd June, 1879_.

DEAR MR. MALLESON,--Walking, and talking, are now alike impossible to
me;[1] my strength is gone for both; nor do I believe talking on such
matters to be of the least use except to promote, between sensible
people, kindly feeling and knowledge of each other's personal
characters. I have every trust in _your_ kindness and truth; nor do I
fear being myself misunderstood by you; what I may be able to put into
written form, so as to admit of being laid before your friends in
council, must be set down without any question of personal feeling--as
simply as a mathematical question or demonstration.

     [1] In answer to the proposal of discussing the subject during a
     mountain walk.

The first exact question which it seems to me such an assembly may be
earnestly called upon by laymen to solve, is surely axiomatic: the
definition of themselves as a body, and of their business as such.

Namely: as clergymen of the Church of England, do they consider
themselves to be so called merely as the attached servants of a
particular state? Do they, in their quality of guides, hold a position
similar to that of the guides of Chamouni or Grindelwald, who being a
numbered body of examined and trustworthy persons belonging to those
several villages, have nevertheless no Chamounist or Grindelwaldist
opinions on the subject of Alpine geography or glacier walking: but are
prepared to put into practice a common and universal science of Locality
and Athletics, founded on sure survey and successful practice? Are the
clergymen of the Ecclesia of England thus simply the attached and
salaried guides of England and the English, in the way, known of all
good men, that leadeth unto life?--or are they, on the contrary, a body
of men holding, or in any legal manner required, or compelled to hold,
opinions on the subject--say, of the height of the Celestial Mountains,
the crevasses which go down quickest to the pit, and other cognate
points of science,--differing from, or even contrary to, the tenets of
the guides of the Church of France, the Church of Italy, and other
Christian countries?

Is not this the first of all questions which a Clerical Council has to
answer in open terms?

                                    Ever affectionately yours,
                                                         J. RUSKIN.


                                          BRANTWOOD, _6th July, 1879_.

My first letter contained a Layman's plea for a clear answer to the
question, "What is a clergyman of the Church of England?" Supposing the
answer to this first to be, that the clergy of the Church of England are
teachers, not of the Gospel to England, but of the Gospel to all
nations; and not of the Gospel of Luther, nor of the Gospel of
Augustine, but of the Gospel of Christ,--then the Layman's second
question would be:

Can this Gospel of Christ be put into such plain words and short terms
as that a plain man may understand it?--and, if so, would it not be, in
a quite primal sense, desirable that it should be so, rather than left
to be gathered out of Thirty-nine Articles, written by no means in
clear English, and referring, for further explanation of exactly the
most important point in the whole tenor of their teaching,[2] to a
"Homily of Justification,"[3] which is not generally in the possession,
or even probably within the comprehension, of simple persons?

                                    Ever faithfully yours,
                                                     J. RUSKIN.

     [2] Art. xi.

     [3] Homily xi. of the Second Table.


                                          BRANTWOOD, _8th July, 1879_.

I am so very glad that you approve of the letter plan, as it enables me
to build up what I would fain try to say, of little stones, without
lifting too much for my strength at once; and the sense of addressing a
friend who understands me and sympathizes with me prevents my being
brought to a stand by continual need for apology, or fear of giving

But yet I do not quite see why you should feel my asking for a simple
and comprehensible statement of the Christian Gospel as startling. Are
you not bid to go into _all_ the world and preach it to every creature?
(I should myself think the clergyman most likely to do good who accepted
the [Greek: pasê tê ktisei] so literally as at least to sympathize with
St. Francis' sermon to the birds, and to feel that feeding either sheep
or fowls, or unmuzzling the ox, or keeping the wrens alive in the snow,
would be received by their Heavenly Feeder as the _perfect_ fulfilment
of His "Feed My sheep" in the higher sense.)

That's all a parenthesis; for although I should think that your good
company would all agree that kindness to animals was a kind of preaching
to them, and that hunting and vivisection were a kind of blasphemy to
them, I want only to put the sterner question before your council, _how_
this Gospel is to be preached either "[Greek: pantachou]" or to "[Greek:
panta ta ethnê]," if first its preachers have not determined quite
clearly what it _is_? And might not such definition, acceptable to the
entire body of the Church of Christ, be arrived at by merely explaining,
in their completeness and life, the terms of the Lord's Prayer--the
first words taught to children all over the Christian world?

I will try to explain what I mean of its several articles, in following
letters; and in answer to the question with which you close your last, I
can only say that you are at perfect liberty to use any, or all, or any
parts of them, as you think good. Usually, when I am asked if letters of
mine may be printed, I say: "Assuredly, provided only that you print
them entire." But in your hands, I withdraw even this condition, and
trust gladly to your judgment, remaining always

                            Faithfully and affectionately yours,
                                                           J. RUSKIN.



               [Greek: pater hêmôn ho en tois ouranois.]

                   _Pater noster qui es in cælis._

                                         BRANTWOOD, _10th July, 1879_.

My meaning, in saying that the Lord's Prayer might be made a foundation
of Gospel-teaching, was not that it contained all that Christian
ministers have to teach; but that it contains what all Christians are
agreed upon as first to be taught; and that no good parish-working
pastor in any district of the world but would be glad to take his part
in making it clear and living to his congregation.

And the first clause of it, of course rightly explained, gives us the
ground of what is surely a mighty part of the Gospel--its "first and
great commandment," namely, that we have a Father whom we _can_ love,
and are required to love, and to desire to be with Him in Heaven,
wherever that may be.

And to declare that we have such a loving Father, whose mercy is over
_all_ His works, and whose will and law is so lovely and lovable that it
is sweeter than honey, and more precious than gold, to those who can
"taste" and "see" that the Lord is Good--this, surely, is a most
pleasant and glorious good message and _spell_ to bring to men--as
distinguished from the evil message and accursed spell that Satan has
brought to the nations of the world instead of it, that they have no
Father, but only "a consuming fire" ready to devour them, unless they
are delivered from its raging flame by some scheme of pardon for all,
for which they are to be thankful, not to the Father, but to the Son.

Supposing this first article of the true Gospel agreed to, how would the
blessing that closes the epistles of that Gospel become intelligible and
living, instead of dark and dead: "The grace of Christ, and the _love_
of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost,"--the most _tender_ word
being that used of the Father!


                  [Greek: hagiasthêtô to onoma sou.]

                     _Sanctificetur nomen tuum._

                                        BRANTWOOD, _12th July, 1879_.

I wonder how many, even of those who honestly and attentively join in
our Church services, attach any distinct idea to the second clause of
the Lord's Prayer--the _first petition_ of it--the first thing that they
are ordered by Christ to seek of their Father?

Am I unjust in thinking that most of them have little more notion on the
matter than that God has forbidden "bad language," and wishes them to
pray that everybody may be respectful to Him?

Is it any otherwise with the Third Commandment? Do not most look on it
merely in the light of the statute on swearing? and read the words
"will not hold him guiltless" merely as a passionless intimation that
however carelessly a man may let out a round oath, there really _is_
something wrong in it?

On the other hand, can anything be more tremendous than the words

    "[Greek: ou gar mê katharisê ... kurios]"?

For _other_ sins there is washing;--for this--none! the seventh verse
(Exod. xx.), in the Septuagint, marking the real power rather than the
English, which (I suppose) is literal to the Hebrew.

To my layman's mind, of practical needs in the present state of the
Church, nothing is so immediate as that of explaining to the
congregation the meaning of being gathered in His name, and having Him
in the midst of them; as, on the other hand, of being gathered in
blasphemy of His name, and having the devil in the midst of
them--presiding over the prayers which have become an abomination.

For the entire body of the texts in the Gospel against hypocrisy are one
and all nothing but the expansion of the threatening that closes the
Third Commandment. For as "the name whereby He shall be called is THE
LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS,"--so the taking that name in vain is the sum of
"the deceivableness of _un_righteousness in them that perish."

Without dwelling on the possibility--which I do not myself, however, for
a moment doubt--of an honest clergyman's being able actually to prevent
the entrance among his congregation of persons leading openly wicked
lives, could any subject be more vital to the purposes of your meetings
than the difference between the present and the probable state of the
Christian Church which would result, were it more the effort of zealous
parish priests, instead of getting wicked _poor_ people to _come_ to
church, to get wicked rich ones to stay out of it?

Lest, in any discussion of such question, it might be, as it too often
is, alleged that "the Lord looketh upon the heart," etc, let me be
permitted to say--with as much positiveness as may express my deepest
conviction--that, while indeed it is the Lord's business to look upon
the heart, it is the pastor's to look upon the hands and the lips; and
that the foulest oaths of the thief and the street-walker are, in the
ears of God, sinless as the hawk's cry, or the gnat's murmur, compared
to the responses, in the Church service, on the lips of the usurer and
the adulterer, who have destroyed, not their own souls only, but those
of the outcast ones whom they have made their victims.

It is for the meeting of Clergymen themselves--not for a layman
addressing them--to ask further, how much the name of God may be taken
in vain, and profaned instead of hallowed--_in_ the pulpit, as well as
under it.

                                    Ever affectionately yours,
                                                         J. RUSKIN.


                   [Greek: elthetô hê basileia sou.]

                       _Adveniat regnum tuum._

                                         BRANTWOOD, _14th July, 1879_.

DEAR MR. MALLESON,--Sincere thanks for both your letters and the proofs
sent. Your comment and conducting link, when needed, will be of the
greatest help and value, I am well assured, suggesting what you know
will be the probable feeling of your hearers, and the point that will
come into question.

Yes, certainly, that "His" in the fourth line[4] was meant to imply that
eternal presence of Christ; as in another passage,[5] referring to the
Creation, "when His right hand strewed the snow on Lebanon, and
smoothed the slopes of Calvary;" but in so far as we dwell on that
truth, "Hast thou seen _Me_, Philip, and not the Father?"[6] we are not
teaching the people what is specially the Gospel of _Christ_ as having a
distinct function, namely, to _serve_ the Father, and do the Father's
will. And in all His human relations to us, and commands to us, it is as
the Son of Man, not as the "power of God and wisdom of God," that He
acts and speaks. Not as the Power; for _He_ must pray, like one of us.
Not as the Wisdom; for He must not know "if it be possible" His prayer
should be heard.

     [4] In a proof sheet of a book of the Editor's at that time in the

     [5] Referring to the closing sentence of the third paragraph of the
     fifth letter, which _seemed_ to express what I felt could not be
     Mr. Ruskin's full meaning, I pointed out to him the following
     sentence in "Modern Painters:"--

         "When, in the desert, Jesus was girding Himself for the work of
         life, angels of life came and ministered unto Him; now, in the
         fair world, when He is girding Himself for the work of death,
         the ministrants came to Him from the grave; but from the grave
         conquered. One from the tomb under Abarim, which _His_ own hand
         had sealed long ago; the other from the rest which He had
         entered without seeing corruption."

     On this I made a remark somewhat to the following effect: that I
     felt sure Mr. Ruskin regarded the loving work of the Father and of
     the Son as _equal_ in the forgiveness of sins and redemption of
     mankind; that what is done by the Father is in reality done also by
     the Son; and that it is by a mere accommodation to human infirmity
     of understanding that the doctrine of the Trinity is revealed to us
     in language, inadequate indeed to convey divine truths, but still
     the only language possible; and I asked whether some such feeling
     was not present in his mind when he used the pronoun "His" in the
     above passage from "Modern Painters" of the Son, where it would be
     usually understood of the Father; and as a corollary, whether, in
     the letter, he does not himself fully recognise the fact of the
     redemption of the world by the loving self-sacrifice of the Son
     being in entire concurrence with the equally loving will of the
     Father. This, as well as I can recollect, is the origin of the
     passage in the second paragraph in this seventh letter.--EDITOR OF

     [6] "Yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? he that hath seen Me hath
     seen the Father" (John xiv. 9).--EDITOR.

And in what I want to say of the third clause of His prayer (_His_, not
merely as His ordering, but His using), it is especially this comparison
between _His_ kingdom, and His Father's, that I want to see the
disciples guarded against. I believe very few, even of the most earnest,
using that petition, realize that it is the Father's--not the
Son's--kingdom, that they pray may come,--although the whole prayer is
foundational on that fact: "_For_ Thine is the kingdom, the power, and
the glory." And I fancy that the mind of the most faithful Christian is
quite led away from its proper hope, by dwelling on the reign--or the
coming again--of Christ; which, indeed, they are to look for, and
_watch_ for, but not to pray for. Their prayer is to be for the greater
kingdom to which He, risen and having all His enemies under His feet, is
to surrender _His_, "that God may be All in All."

And, though the greatest, it is that everlasting kingdom which the
poorest of us can advance. We cannot hasten Christ's coming. "Of the day
and the hour, knoweth no man." But the kingdom of God is as a grain of
mustard-seed:--we can sow of it; it is as a foam-globe of leaven:--we
can mingle it; and its glory and its joy are that even the birds of the
air can lodge in the branches thereof.

Forgive me for getting back to my sparrows; but truly in the present
state of England, the fowls of the air are the only creatures, tormented
and murdered as they are, that yet have here and there nests, and peace,
and joy in the Holy Ghost. And it would be well if many of us, in
reading that text, "The kingdom of God is NOT meat and drink," had even
got so far as to the understanding that it is at least _as much_, and
that until we had fed the hungry, there was no power in us to inspire
the unhappy.

                                    Ever affectionately yours,
                                                         J. RUSKIN.

I will write my feeling about the pieces of the Life of Christ[7] you
have sent me in a private letter. I may say at once that I am sure it
will do much good, and will be upright and intelligible, which how few
religious writings are?

     [7] The Life and Work of Jesus Christ. Ward and Lock.


    [Greek: genêthêtô to thelêma sou, hôs en ouranô, kai epi gês.]

           _Fiat voluntas tua sicut in coelo et in terra._

                                        BRANTWOOD, _9th August, 1879_.

I was reading the second chapter of Malachi this morning by chance, and
wondering how many clergymen ever read it, and took to heart the
"commandment for _them_."

For they are always ready enough to call themselves priests (though they
know themselves to be nothing of the sort), whenever there is any
dignity to be got out of the title; but, whenever there is any good,
hot scolding or unpleasant advice given them by the prophets, in that
self-assumed character of theirs, they are as ready to quit it as ever
Dionysus his lion-skin, when he finds the character of Herakles

"Ye have wearied the Lord with your words;" (yes, and some of His people
too, in your time), "yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied Him? When ye
say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He
delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?"

How many, again and again I wonder, of the lively young ecclesiastics
supplied to the increasing demand of our west ends of flourishing Cities
of the Plain, ever consider what sort of sin it is for which God (unless
they lay it to heart) will "curse their blessings, and spread dung upon
their faces;" or have understood, even in the dimmest manner, what part
_they_ had taken, and were taking, in "corrupting the covenant of the
Lord with Levi, and causing many to stumble at the Law."

Perhaps the most subtle and unconscious way in which the religious
teachers upon whom the ends of the world are come, have done this, is in
never telling their people the meaning of the clause in the Lord's
Prayer, which, of all others, their most earnest hearers have oftenest
on their lips: "Thy will be done." They allow their people to use it as
if their Father's will were always to kill their babies, or do something
unpleasant to them; and following comfort and wealth, instead of
explaining to them that the first and intensest article of their
Father's will was their own sanctification; and that the one only path
to national prosperity and to domestic peace, was to understand what the
will of the Lord was, and to do all they could to get it done. Whereas
one would think, by the tone of the eagerest preachers nowadays, that
they held their blessed office to be that, not of showing men how to do
their Father's will on earth, but how to get to heaven without doing any
of it either here or there!

I say, especially, the most eager preachers; for nearly the whole
Missionary body (with the hottest Evangelistic sect of the English
Church) is at this moment composed of men who think the Gospel they are
to carry to mend the world with, forsooth, is that, "If any man sin, he
hath an Advocate with the Father;" while I have never yet, in my own
experience, met either with a Missionary or a Town Bishop who so much
as professed himself "to understand what the will of the Lord" was, far
less to teach anybody else to do it; and for fifty preachers, yes, and
fifty hundreds whom I have heard proclaiming the Mediator of the New
Testament, that "they which were called might receive the promise of
eternal inheritance," I have never yet heard so much as _one_ heartily
proclaiming against all those "deceivers with vain words" (Eph. v. 6),
that "no covetous person which is an idolater, hath _any_ inheritance in
the kingdom of Christ, or of God;" and on myself personally and publicly
challenging the Bishops of England generally, and by name the Bishop of
Manchester, to say whether usury was, or was not, according to the will
of God, I have received no answer from any one of them.[8]

     [8] Fors Clavigera, Letter lxxxii., p. 323.

                                                        _13th August._

I have allowed myself, in the beginning of this letter, to dwell on the
equivocal use of the word "Priest" in the English Church (see
"Christopher Harvey," Grosart's edition, p. 38), because the assumption
of the mediatorial, in defect of the pastoral, office by the clergy
fulfils itself, naturally and always, in their pretending to absolve the
sinner from his punishment, instead of purging him from his sin; and
practically, in their general patronage and encouragement of all the
iniquity of the world, by steadily preaching away the penalties of it.
So that the great cities of the earth, which ought to be the places set
on its hills, with the Temple of the Lord in the midst of them, to which
the tribes should go up,--centres to the Kingdoms and Provinces of
Honour, Virtue, and the Knowledge of the law of God,--have become,
instead, loathsome centres of fornication and covetousness--the smoke of
their sin going up into the face of heaven like the furnace of Sodom,
and the pollution of it rotting and raging through the bones and the
souls of the peasant people round them, as if they were each a volcano
whose ashes broke out in blains upon man and upon beast.

And in the midst of them, their freshly-set-up steeples ring the crowd
to a weekly prayer that the rest of their lives may be pure and holy,
while they have not the slightest intention of purifying, sanctifying,
or changing their lives in any the smallest particular; and their clergy
gather, each into himself, the curious dual power, and Janus-faced
majesty in mischief, of the prophet that prophesies falsely, and the
priest that bears rule by his means.

And the people love to have it so.

                                             BRANTWOOD, _12th August_.

I am very glad of your little note from Brighton. I thought it needless
to send the two letters there, which you will find at home; and they
pretty nearly end all _I_ want to say; for the remaining clauses of the
prayer touch on things too high for me. But I will send you one
concluding letter about them.


      [Greek: ton arton hêmôn ton epiousion dos hêmin sêmeron.]

             _Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie._

                                             BRANTWOOD, _19th August_.

I retained the foregoing letter by me till now, lest you should think it
written in any haste or petulance: but it is every word of it
deliberate, though expressing the bitterness of twenty years of vain
sorrow and pleading concerning these things. Nor am I able to write,
otherwise, anything of the next following clause of the prayer;--for no
words could be burning enough to tell the evils which have come on the
world from men's using it thoughtlessly and blasphemously, praying God
to give them what they are deliberately resolved to steal. For all true
Christianity is known--as its Master was--in breaking of bread, and all
false Christianity in stealing it.

Let the clergyman only apply--with impartial and level sweep--to his
congregation the great pastoral order: "The man that will not work,
neither should he eat;" and be resolute in requiring each member of his
flock to tell him _what_--day by day--they do to earn their
dinners;--and he will find an entirely new view of life and its
sacraments open upon him and them.

For the man who is not--day by day--doing work which will earn his
dinner, must be stealing his dinner; and the actual fact is, that the
great mass of men calling themselves Christians do actually live by
robbing the poor of their bread, and by no other trade whatsoever; and
the simple examination of the mode of the produce and consumption of
European food--who digs for it, and who eats it--will prove that to any
honest human soul.

Nor is it possible for any Christian Church to exist but in pollutions
and hypocrisies beyond all words, until the virtues of a life moderate
in its self-indulgence, and wide in its offices of temporal ministry to
the poor, are insisted on as the normal conditions in which, only, the
prayer to God for the harvest of the earth is other than blasphemy.

In the second place. Since in the parable in Luke, the bread asked for
is shown to be also, and chiefly, the Holy Spirit (Luke xi. 13), and the
prayer, "Give us each day our daily bread" is, in its fulness, the
disciples' "Lord, evermore give us _this_ bread,"--the clergyman's
question to his whole flock, primarily literal, "Children, have ye here
any meat?" must ultimately be always the greater spiritual one:
"Children, have ye here any Holy Spirit?" or, "Have ye not heard yet
whether there _be_ any? and, instead of a Holy Ghost the Lord and Giver
of Life, do you only believe in an unholy mammon, Lord and Giver of

The opposition between the two Lords has been, and will be as long as
the world lasts, absolute, irreconcilable, mortal; and the clergyman's
first message to his people of this day is--if he be faithful--"Choose
ye this day, whom ye will serve."

                                    Ever faithfully yours,
                                                     J. RUSKIN.


        [Greek: kai aphes hêmin ta opheilêmata hêmôn, hôs kai
               hêmeis aphiemen tois opheiletais hêmôn.]

       _Et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus
                        debitoribus nostris._

                                           BRANTWOOD, _3rd September_.

DEAR MR. MALLESON,--I have been very long before trying to say so much
as a word about the sixth clause of the Pater; for whenever I began
thinking of it, I was stopped by the sorrowful sense of the hopeless
task you poor clergymen had, nowadays, in recommending and teaching
people to love their enemies, when their whole energies were already
devoted to swindling their friends.

But, in any days, past or now, the clause is one of such difficulty,
that, to understand it, means almost to know the love of God which
passeth knowledge.

But, at all events, it is surely the pastor's duty to prevent his flock
from _mis_-understanding it; and above all things to keep them from
supposing that God's forgiveness is to be had simply for the asking, by
those who "wilfully sin after they have received the knowledge of the

There is one very simple lesson, also, needed especially by people in
circumstances of happy life, which I have never heard fully enforced
from the pulpit, and which is usually the more lost sight of, because
the fine and inaccurate word "trespasses" is so often used instead of
the simple and accurate one, "debts." Among people well educated and
happily circumstanced, it may easily chance that long periods of their
lives pass without any such conscious sin as could, on any discovery or
memory of it, make them cry out, in truth and in pain, "I have sinned
against the Lord." But scarcely an hour of their happy days can pass
over them without leaving--were their hearts open--some evidence written
there that they have "left undone the things that they ought to have
done," and giving them bitterer and heavier cause to cry and cry
again--for ever, in the pure words of their Master's prayer, "Dimitte
nobis _debita_ nostra."

In connection with the more accurate translation of "debts," rather than
"trespasses," it would surely be well to keep constantly in the mind of
complacent and inoffensive congregations, that in Christ's own prophecy
of the manner of the last judgment, the condemnation is pronounced only
on the sins of omission: "I was hungry, and ye gave Me no meat."

But, whatever the manner of sin, by offence or defect, which the
preacher fears in his people, surely he has of late been wholly remiss
in compelling their definite recognition of it, in its several and
personal particulars. Nothing in the various inconsistency of human
nature is more grotesque than its willingness to be taxed with any
quantity of sins in the gross, and its resentment at the insinuation of
having committed the smallest parcel of them in detail. And the English
Liturgy, evidently drawn up with the amiable intention of making
religion as pleasant as possible to a people desirous of saving their
souls with no great degree of personal inconvenience, is perhaps in no
point more unwholesomely lenient than in its concession to the popular
conviction that we may obtain the present advantage, and escape the
future punishment, of any sort of iniquity, by dexterously concealing
the manner of it from man, and triumphantly confessing the quantity of
it to God.

Finally, whatever the advantages and decencies of a form of prayer, and
how wide soever the scope given to its collected passages, it cannot be
at one and the same time fitted for the use of a body of well-taught and
experienced Christians, such as should join the services of a Church
nineteen centuries old,--and adapted to the needs of the timid sinner
who has that day first entered its porch, or of the remorseful publican
who has only recently become sensible of his call to a pew.

And surely our clergy need not be surprised at the daily increasing
distrust in the public mind of the efficacy of Prayer, after having so
long insisted on their offering supplication, _at least_ every Sunday
morning at eleven o'clock, that the rest of their lives hereafter might
be pure and holy, leaving them conscious all the while that they would
be similarly required to inform the Lord next week, at the same hour,
that "there was no health in them"!

Among the much rebuked follies and abuses of so-called "Ritualism," none
that I have heard of are indeed so dangerously and darkly "Ritual" as
this piece of authorized mockery of the most solemn act of human life,
and only entrance of eternal life--Repentance.

                     Believe me, dear Mr. Malleson,
                        Ever faithfully and respectfully yours,
                                                          J. RUSKIN.


 [Greek: kai mê eisenegkês hêmas eis peirasmon, alla rhusai hêmas apo
  tou ponêrou; hoti sou estin hê basileia kai hê dunamis kai hê doxa
                        eis tous aiônas; amên.]

 _Et ne nos inducas in tentationem; sed libera nos a malo; Quia tuum
     est regmum, potentia, et gloria in sæcula sæculorum. Amen._

                                    BRANTWOOD, _14th September, 1879_.

DEAR MR. MALLESON,--The gentle words in your last letter referring to
the difference between yourself and me in the degree of hope with which
you could regard what could not but appear to the general mind Utopian
in designs for the action of the Christian Church, surely might best be
answered by appeal to the consistent tone of the prayer we have been

Is not every one of its petitions for a perfect state? and is not this
last clause of it, of which we are to think to-day--if fully
understood--a petition not only for the restoration of Paradise, but of
Paradise in which there shall be no deadly fruit, or, at least, no
tempter to praise it? And may we not admit that it is probably only for
want of the earnest use of this last petition, that not only the
preceding ones have become formal with us, but that the private and
simply restricted prayer for the little things we each severally desire,
has become by some Christians dreaded and unused, and by others used
faithlessly, and therefore with disappointment?

And is it not for want of this special directness and simplicity of
petition, and of the sense of its acceptance, that the whole nature of
prayer has been doubted in our hearts, and disgraced by our lips; that
we are afraid to ask God's blessing on the earth, when the scientific
people tell us He has made previous arrangements to curse it; and that,
instead of obeying, without fear or debate, the plain order, "Ask, and
ye shall receive, that your joy may be full," we sorrowfully sink back
into the apology for prayer, that "it is a wholesome exercise, even when
fruitless," and that we ought piously always to suppose that the text
really means no more than "Ask, and ye shall _not_ receive, that your
joy may be _empty_"?

Supposing we were first all of us quite sure that we _had_ prayed,
honestly, the prayer against temptation, and that we would thankfully be
refused anything we had set our hearts upon, if indeed God saw that it
would lead us into evil, might we not have confidence afterwards that He
in whose hand the King's heart is, as the rivers of water, would turn
our tiny little hearts also in the way that they should go, and that
_then_ the special prayer for the joys He taught them to seek, would be
answered to the last syllable, and to overflowing?

It is surely scarcely necessary to say, farther, what the holy teachers
of all nations have invariably concurred in showing,--that faithful
prayer implies always correlative exertion; and that no man can ask
honestly or hopefully to be delivered from temptation, unless he has
himself honestly and firmly determined to do the best he can to keep out
of it. But, in modern days, the first aim of all Christian parents is to
place their children in circumstances where the temptations (which they
are apt to call "opportunities") may be as great and as many as
possible; where the sight and promise of "all these things" in Satan's
gift may be brilliantly near; and where the act of "falling down to
worship me" may be partly concealed by the shelter, and partly excused,
as involuntary, by the pressure, of the concurrent crowd.

In what respect the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of _them_,
differ from the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory, which are God's for
ever, is seldom, as far as I have heard, intelligibly explained from the
pulpit; and still less the irreconcilable hostility between the two
royalties and realms asserted in its sternness of decision.

Whether it be indeed Utopian to believe that the kingdom we are taught
to pray for _may_ come--verily come--for the asking, it is surely not
for man to judge; but it is at least at his choice to resolve that he
will no longer render obedience, nor ascribe glory and power, to the
Devil. If he cannot find strength in himself to advance towards Heaven,
he may at least say to the power of Hell, "Get thee behind me;" and
staying himself on the testimony of Him who saith, "Surely I come
quickly," ratify his happy prayer with the faithful "Amen, even so,
come, Lord Jesus."

                           Ever, my dear friend,
                               Believe me affectionately
                                       and gratefully yours,
                                                     J. RUSKIN.

                         ESSAYS AND COMMENTS

                                ON THE

                          FOREGOING LETTERS

                            BY THE EDITOR

                         ESSAYS AND COMMENTS

Feeling deeply, and anxiously, the greatness of the responsibility laid
upon me to act, as it were, the part of an envoy between so eminent a
teacher as Mr. Ruskin and my brethren in the Ministry, I have thought
that it might not be taken amiss if I prefaced my account of the origin
of the series of letters placed in my hands for publication (see Letter
8th July, 1879)[9] with just a mere allusion to one written to me four
years ago.

     [9] No. IV.

One or two imperfect conversations, leading up to the subject of the
Resurrection, which had been broken off by accidental circumstances,
together with the letter alluded to, had stimulated in me a feeling of
something more than curiosity--rather one of anxious interest--to learn
more of Mr. Ruskin's views upon matters which are at the present day
giving rise to a good deal of agitated discussion among intellectual

I am thankful to be able to avow that, for my own part, I am a firm and
conscientious, not a thoughtless and passive, believer in the doctrines
of the Church of Christ as held by the majority of serious-minded
religious men in the Established Church. Mr. Ruskin was mistaken in his
much too ready assumption that I (simply because I am a clergyman) am a
believer on compulsion; that for the peace of my soul I have only to
thank religious anæsthetics, and that I ever preach against the
wickedness of involuntary doubt. God forbid that I should ever take on
myself to denounce as wilful sin any scruples of conscience which owe
their origin to honest inquiries after truth. I trust that he knows me
better now.

Feeling thus decided and certain as to the ground I stand upon, and
earnestly desirous on every account to investigate the nature of Mr.
Ruskin's doubts, whatever they might be, in a most fraternal spirit, as
a kindly-favoured friend and neighbour (for, in our lake and mountain
district, an interval of a dozen miles does not destroy neighbourhood
between spirits with any degree of kinship), I sought for a more
lengthened conversation, and obtained the opportunity without
difficulty. The occasion was found in a very delightful summer afternoon
on the lake, and up the sides of the Old Man of Coniston, to view a
group of remarkable rocks by the desolate, storm-beaten crags of Goat's
Water,[10] that saddest and loneliest of mountain tarns, which lies in
the deep hollow between the mountain and its opposing buttress, the Dow
Crags. This most interesting ramble in the undivided company of one so
highly and so deservedly valued in the world of letters and of art and
higher matters yet, served to my mind for more purposes than one, while
we wandered amidst impressive scenes, passing from the sweet and gentle
peaceful loveliness of the bright green vale of Coniston and its
charming lake to the bleak desolation, the terrible sublimity of the
mountain tarn barriered in by its stupendous crags, amongst which lay
those singular-looking, weather-beaten, and lightning-riven rocks which
were the more immediate object of our visit.

     [10] "Deucalion," p. 222.

But to myself the chief and happiest result of our conversation was the
firm conviction that neither the censorious and unthinking world, nor
perhaps even Mr. Ruskin himself, knows how deeply and truly a Christian
man, in the widest sense of the word, Mr. Ruskin is. It is neither the
time nor the place, nor indeed would it be consistent with propriety, to
analyze before others the convictions formed on that memorable summer
afternoon. It must suffice for the present to say that the opinions then
formed laid the foundation of a friendship on a happier basis than that
which had heretofore been permitted me, and prepared my way to enter
with confidence upon the plan of which the present volume is the fruit.

Last June, in the course of a short visit to Brantwood, I proposed to
Mr. Ruskin to come to address the members of a Northern Clerical
Society, a body of some seventy or eighty clergy, who have done me the
honour to appoint me their honorary secretary, now for about nine
years, since its foundation. On the ground of impaired health, the
legacy left behind it by the serious illness which had, two years
before, threatened even his life, Mr. Ruskin excused himself from
appearing in person before our Society; but proposed instead to write
letters to me which might serve as a basis for discussion amongst us.

Letter I. will explain the origin of the series that come after.

                             ON LETTER II

The question laid down in this letter, cleared of all metaphorical
ornament, is, as is perfectly natural and instinctive with Mr. Ruskin,
one which goes down to the foundation of things--here, the character and
mission of the Christian ministry. Are we (Mr. Ruskin implies, Are we
_not_?) bound to believe and to teach after certain formulæ, which,
being many of them peculiar to ourselves, separate us from the national
Churches of France and Italy? Are we free, or are we bound? Or do we
enjoy a reasonable amount of liberty and no more? On the platform we
occupy do we allow none but English Churchmen to stand? Must we keep all
other Christians at arm's length? Do the conditions attached to the
emoluments we receive prohibit us from holding or teaching any other
opinions than those we have subscribed to?

It is a question not to be approached without a tremor. But no abstract
answer can well be given. Human nature replies for itself in the
spectacle of the clergy of the Church of England divided and subdivided;
here deeply sundered, there of different complexions amicably blending
together, holding every variety of opinion which the Church allows or
disallows within her borders. Human nature absolutely refuses to be
shackled in its positive beliefs. Authority may try, or even appear to
perform, the feat of fettering thought and making men march in step to
one common end in orderly ranks; but she has invariably at last to
confess her impotence.[11]

     [11] The clergyman who subscribes still whispers to himself, or
     soon will, "Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri."

The ministers of the Church cannot safely be set free by Act of
Parliament to teach whatever seems good to each. Some respect must be
shown to congregations too. If the clergy claim on their side the right
of independent thought, which they are quite justified in doing, the
congregations on their side have a much greater right to a consistent
teaching, which shall not distract their minds with strange and unwonted
forms of Christianity.

Mr. Ruskin, as he often does, is going _too deep_. He asks for that
which we shall never see in this world,--the simple, pure religion of
the Bible to be taught in all singleness and simplicity of mind by men
whose only commission is held from God, by or without the channel of
human authority, to show men, women, and children the way "to the summit
of the celestial mountains," and to set an awful warning by conspicuous
beacons against the "crevasses which go down quickest to the pit." But
who shall say that he is wrong? Nay, rather, it is we that are wrong in
resting satisfied with our low views of things, while Ruskin soars above
our heads.

                            ON LETTER III

I would preface the few remarks I wish to make upon this letter by an
extract from a letter just received from a dear good friend:

     "I have already read these deeply interesting letters five times.
     They are like 'the foam-globes of leaven.' I must say they have
     exercised my mind very much. Things in them which at first seem
     rather startling, prove on closer examination to be full of deep
     truth. The suggestions in them lead to 'great searchings of heart.'
     There is much with which I entirely agree; much over which to
     ponder. What an insight into human nature is shown in the remark
     that though we are so ready to call ourselves 'miserable sinners'
     we resent being accused of any special fault!

                                                            "S. B."

By the side of this, it will be instructive, though strange, if I place
an extract from another note from one whom I have long known and highly
esteemed; and it will be seen what a singular "discerner of hearts" and
"divider of spirits" is this series of letters:--

     "If they are really meant _au sérieux_, I could not express any
     opinion of them without implying a reflection upon you also, as you
     seem to endorse them so fully. I prefer, therefore, to say merely
     that, as a whole, they offer one of the most remarkable instances I
     ever met with of the old adage, 'Ne sutor ultra crepidam.'"[12]

     [12] Let me say here, once for all, that I have already three times
     had this proverb quoted against Mr. Ruskin; and no proverb could be
     more remote from the purpose. For while it is the shoemaker's
     business, _as a livelihood_, to make shoes, a painter's to paint
     pictures, the merchant's to sell goods, and perhaps Mr. Ruskin's to
     write books which every one reads, _religion is everybody's
     business_. Christian men and women, of all classes and professions,
     make the Bible their study, because of its inestimable importance;
     and who shall say that they are not absolutely right? For my part I
     should be very glad to hear that my bootmaker was a religious man:
     his boots would be none the worse for it. I hope the _sutor_ will
     be brought in no more, unless he can appear with a better grace.

In spite of this I retain all my old high opinion of the writer of these
lines, and feel convinced that he will soon think very differently.

Yes, it is as my first correspondent has said, "Things which at first
seem startling, on examination prove to be full of deep truth." In the
short compass of this Letter III. lies enfolded a vast question, which,
in the midst of the friction and conflict of ages of strife, has been
shuffled away into odd corners, to be brought out into life only now and
then, when a man is born into the world who sees what few will even
glance at, and who will say out that which ought to be spoken, though
but few may listen. What is the question which is put here so tersely
and so pointedly? It is this, which I am only putting a little
differently, not with the most distant idea of improving upon Mr.
Ruskin's felicitous touches; but, because expressed in twofold fashion,
what has escaped one may strike another in a different form.

Is a clergyman of the Church of England a teacher of the doctrine and
practice and discipline of the Church of England within her limits only,
narrow as they are, when compared with Christendom? or is there not
rather a wider, more comprehensive Church yet--that of Christ upon
earth--which he must serve, which he must preach, in forgetfulness of
the limited boundaries within which by his education and his ordination
vows he is _apparently_ bound to remain? Is there not enough of
Christianity common to all the Christian nations upon earth, and which
ought to be made the subject of teaching to the ignorant and the
castaway? Is it quite a right thing that the natives of Madagascar, for
instance, should see parties of missionaries arriving amongst them: one,
in all the gorgeous trappings and with all the elaborate ritual of Rome;
another in rusty black coats and hats and dirty white neckties,
repudiating all but the very barest necessary ceremonial; a third,
possibly disunited in itself, coming as High Churchmen or Low Churchmen,
with differing peculiarities? Is this an edifying spectacle for the
Malagasy? And can the Gospel be preached as effectually in this highly
diversified fashion as it would be with the simplicity of a reasonable
and just sufficiently elastic uniformity?

Coming before many people of infinite diversity of mind, it cannot be
doubted that Christianity must necessarily take a variety of forms, to
suit different intelligences, and adapt itself to differing situations.
But in all this large variety of forms of religion, ranging from mere
paganism at one end, just a little unavoidably altered by the contact of
Christianity, and at the other extremity a pure religion, but refined
and intellectual, I do not see exactly what is the form of Christianity
which the Church of England is to preach to the masses at home and
abroad. As long as England takes the Gospel to the ignorant in such
infinitely diversified forms, it is as if an incapable general were to
divide his forces preparatory to an assault upon a compact and
well-defended stronghold.

It is enough to make one weep with vexation and humiliation to see what
sort of religion would be presented to the world if some who claim to
have all truth on their side could have their own way. I say to have the
truth on their side,--which is a very different thing from being on the
side of truth. There is even a new religion--for it is certainly not the
old--growing popular with "thinkers," who write and read in the three
great half-crown monthlies, which is evolved in the most curious
variety out of their inner consciousness by religion-makers, whose
fertile brains are the only soil that can bring forth such productions.
What is the vast uneducated world to do with these extraordinary forms
of religion which are as many-sided and many-faced as their inventors?

Now Mr. Ruskin and many others see this state of things with pity and
compassion, and ask, "Cannot this Gospel of Christ be put into such
plain words and short terms as that a plain man may understand it?" Why
is there no such easy summary provided by authority to teach the poor
and simple? The Apostles' Creed is good for its own end and purpose, but
it requires great expansion to be made to include Gospel teaching, and
it contains nothing practical. The Thirty-nine Articles are not even
intended (as Mr. Ruskin by some oversight seems to think they are) to be
a summary of the Gospel. We have no concise and plain, clear and
intelligible form of sound words to answer this most important end. The
Church Catechism, from old associations, belongs to childhood.

Every reasonable person must agree with Mr. Ruskin, that there could be
no harm, but much good, in Christians making a little less of their
Churchmanship, and a little more of their broad Christianity.

                             ON LETTER IV

Mr. Ruskin pleads in this letter with touching eloquence for the
guidance of the law of love, that irresistible law, one effect of which
is to give to the highest probability the force of a sufficient
certainty, and establishes in the man the mental habit best described as

In Cardinal Newman's "History of My Religious Opinions," p. 18, he
quotes some beautiful passages from Keble's conversations with himself
(disagreeing with him all the time), in which he had quoted, "I will
guide thee _with mine eye_" (Psalm xxxii. 8), as the expression of the
gentle suasive power that directs the steps of the child and friend of
God, as distinguished from "the bit and bridle" laid upon horse and
mule, who represent unwilling slaves recognising no law but that of
force or coercion. It is an Eye whose gaze is ever fixed on us, the "Eye
of God's Word," "like that of a portrait uniformly fixed on us, turn
where we will."[13] And Keble is right so far as concerns the true
children and friends of God, subject, as their highest control, to the
law of love. Pure and exalted minds ever strain for, and yearn after, a
general and outward manifestation of the witness that man is "the image
and glory of God" (1 Cor. xi. 7).

     [13] "Christian Year," St. Bartholomew's Day, with quotations from
     Miller's Bampton Lectures.

Unhappily, we are not so constituted by nature. The inroads and ravages
of sin are but too evident, as well in those upon whom episcopal hands
have been laid, as in the ranks of the laity. Are not wilfulness and
pride of intellect and glorification of self ever exercising such a
power in the earth, that checks and restraints are found absolutely
necessary to curb and control the determination of many of the ministers
of the Church not only to _think_ as seems good to them (which they have
a perfect right to do), but openly to _teach and to preach_ whatever
doctrines they may have conceived in their own minds, or have learnt
from others, contrary to the received doctrines of the Church of
England; which they have no right to do as long as they remain ministers
of the Church whose doctrines they impugn?

Mr. Ruskin correctly assumes that the terms of the Lord's Prayer, being
in the very words of Christ, do contain a body of Divine doctrine; and
they would be the fittest to adopt as a standard of Christian teaching,
_if_ only all men were as candid, sincere, and straightforward as
himself. But because there is no certainty that any large and
preponderating body of men will exhibit these graces of Christianity in
themselves, and combine with them gentleness, tolerance, and
forbearance, therefore they _must_ be held in "with bit and
bridle,"--that is, with Articles and Creeds and declarations,--"lest
they fall upon thee," and fill the Church more full of sedition,
disaffection, and disquiet than it already is.

Cardinal Newman himself is an example of the necessity of the restraints
of creeds, as well, indeed, as of their general inefficiency to
maintain unity. His "History of my Religious Opinions," at least in its
beginning, is but the story of a long succession of phases of belief and
disbelief, originating in--what? In study of the Word of God? in Divine
contemplation, or in devout and thoughtful meditation? No, indeed; but
in walks and conversations, now with one friend, now with another, now
round the Quadrangle of Oriel, then in Christ Church meadows; in
fanciful, and apparently causeless, changes in his own mind, of which
sometimes he can give the exact date, sometimes he has forgotten it, but
which lead him out of one set of opinions into another in a helpless
kind of way, as if he knew of no motive power but the influence of other
men's minds or the momentary and fitful fluctuations of a spirit ever
too much given to introspection to maintain a steady and uniform course.

What a contrast between the downright, manly straightforwardness of a
Ruskin and the fluttering, uncertain flights of a Newman, ending in the
cold, dead fixity of the Roman faith, whereof to doubt is to be damned!

                             ON LETTER V

The next paragraph to the last in this letter, contains a statement
which at first might seem to be rashly expressed. But I was not long in
apprehending that when Mr. Ruskin alludes to a scheme of pardon "for
which we are supposed to be thankful, not to the Father, but to the
Son," he was far from impugning that doctrine of the Atonement in which,
as it is generally understood among Christian people, the whole plan of
salvation centres.

But there seems to have been a fatality about this sentence. Numbers
have read it and commented upon it, myself amongst the number, as if Mr.
Ruskin were here expressing _his own view_; instead of which, he is here
quoting other men's opinions, to condemn them with severity. The
_Record_ called it some of Mr. Ruskin's dross; but it is other people's
dross, for which he would offer us pure gold.

I happened, a very short time previous to receiving this letter, to have
had my attention attracted by the following passage of Mr. Ruskin's
own:--"When, in the desert, He was girding Himself for the work of life,
angels of life came and ministered to Him; now, in the fair world, when
He is girding Himself for the work of death [at the Transfiguration],
the ministrants came to Him from the grave. But from the grave
conquered. One from that tomb under Abarim, which His own hand had
sealed long ago; the other from the rest which He had entered without
seeing corruption."

Pleased with the truthful eloquence of this passage, I placed it at the
head of the chapter on the Transfiguration in my book on the Life and
Work of Christ (still in the press). Having done so, it struck me that
Mr. Ruskin, whether intentionally or undesignedly, had made the pronoun
"His" to apply either to God the Father, or to God the Son. It may
grammatically refer to either. From this I drew the conclusion which I
expressed in a short letter to my friend, that, discarding the strictly
human uses of language, which, from its unavoidable poverty, lacks the
power of marking the true nature of the difference between the Divine
Persons of the Holy Trinity, he had spoken of the Father and of the Son
indiscriminately or indifferently, _i.e._, without a difference.

And so it really is. How shall a man, though at the highest he be "but a
little lower than the angels," know and comprehend the Godhead in its
true and exact nature? The names father and son express an earthly
relation perfectly well understood when belonging to ourselves, but when
applied to the Supreme Divine Being, they must of necessity fall far
short of expressing their true connexion with one another. They are,
when applied to Heavenly beings, merely anthropomorphic terms used in
compassion to our infirmities, and conveying to us only an approximation
to the ideas intended. We say the Father sent the Son; the Son suffered
for our sins. But since Father and Son are One, we are plainly
expressing something short of the exact state of the case when we speak
of our thankfulness to the Son as if we had no reason to be equally
thankful to the Father.

The Athanasian Creed makes no great demand upon our mental powers when
it requires of us, in speaking of the Trinity, neither to confound the
Persons nor to divide the Substance; for, in truth, I suppose we are
equally incapable of doing either.

These are Divine matters, of which, while the simplest may know enough,
the wisest can never fathom the whole depth. For the Divine power and
love, knowledge and compassion, will never be fully comprehended until
we know even as we are known.

But, as I am abstaining from questioning Mr. Ruskin as to his meaning in
any passage, if it happens to be slightly obscure, awaiting his reply at
the close of the book, I may here say that I believe that this sentence
refers to a wild and unscriptural kind of preaching, happily becoming
less common, in which undue stress is laid upon the wrathfulness of God,
as contrasted with the mercy of the Saviour, as if we had only the Son
to thank, and not our loving Father in Heaven, for the blessed hope of
eternal life. Some there are, and always will be, who habitually err in
not rightly dividing the Word of God, and giving undue prominence to a
dark portion of doctrine, which is true enough in itself, but would be
relieved of much of its gloom, if due prominence were given to other
parts of the truth of God.

I do not mean to praise caution at the expense of courage. I have a
constitutional aversion to that caution allied to timidity and cowardice
which prompts a man to look to his safety, comfort, and worldly repute
as the first social law that concerns _him_. I admire rather the brave
man who is ready to sacrifice all that, if he can, by so doing, gain the
desired right end.

But in the case before us, it is not so. Men talk as if all we had to do
to convert a sinner from the error of his way was to give him a good
talking, forgetting that we have not a plastic material to work upon,
but a most stubborn and intractable one, wherever interest is concerned;
and that a bold bad man is generally proof against talk, and yields to
no power but the grace of God exercised directly, and seconded by His
heavy judgments. Have we not all seen, with shame and astonishment, the
"wicked rich" regularly in their places at church, much oftener than the
"wicked poor," who have less interest in playing the hypocrite? And
have we not felt our utter powerlessness, whether by public preaching or
by private monition, to find a way to those case-hardened hearts? What
are we to do with such a man as Tennyson describes in "Sea Dreams," who

          "began to bloat himself, and ooze
    All over with the fat affectionate smile
    That makes the widow lean;"

when his victim--

    "Pursued him down the street, and far away,
    Among the honest shoulders of the crowd,
    Read rascal in the motions of his back,
    And scoundrel in the supple-sliding knee."

Here is all that we can do--told us in the last sweet lines:--

    "'She sleeps: let us too, let all evil, sleep.
    He also sleeps--another sleep than ours.
    He can do no more wrong: forgive him, dear,
    And I shall sleep the sounder!'
                                 Then the man,
    'His deeds yet live, the worst is yet to come;
    Yet let your sleep for this one night be sound:
    I do forgive him.'
                      'Thanks, my love,' she said,
    'Your own will be the sweeter;' and they slept."

                             ON LETTER VI

As is the manner of our friend, he concludes a letter which was begun
with thoughtful wisdom, with a proposal which, if gravely made, will
seem to most of us both unpractical and impracticable.

Very forcible and very true is the emphatic declaration here made of the
deep, perhaps unpardonable sinfulness of taking in vain the holy name of

But, to my mind, the irremediable fault in the latter proposition in
this letter is the assumption that every honest clergyman of average
capacity, and of ordinary experience of life, is, of course, wise enough
to discern men's characters and to judge them with that unerring
sagacity that will enable him to pronounce without favour or distinction
of persons the severe sentence: "You shall not enter this house of God.
I interdict your presence here. The comforts and privileges of religion
are for other than thou. I deny thee the prayers, the preaching, and the
sacraments of the Church." More briefly--"I excommunicate thee."

Even in the case of a very bad man this would be found impossible to
accomplish without the direst danger to the clergyman's usefulness and
influence, to say nothing of his peace. For our experience abundantly
shows that let a bad man but be audacious, and even ruffianly enough,
helped by his position, he will always find plenty of support among the
powerful and influential. The poor and honest clergyman, if he has
attempted to enforce Church discipline, will be gravely rebuked for his
want of charity, for his sad lack of discretion or tact, for his utter
want of worldly wisdom; he will very soon find, to use the familiar
phrase, the place too hot for him, and he may be thankful if he escapes
with some small remainder of respect or compassion from the
nobler-minded of his flock, who are always in a very small minority.

I know not how it really was in the time when the rubrics of the
Communion Services were framed. One would think, judging from these,
that the clergyman possessed unlimited power to judge and punish with
spiritual deprivation, and that he was alone to unite in himself all the
various offices of accuser and police, counsel, jury, and judge. We are
required to say every Ash Wednesday that we regret the loss of the godly
discipline of the Primitive Church--under which, "at the beginning of
Lent, all such persons as stood convicted of notorious sin were put to
open penance; and that it is much to be wished that the said discipline
may be restored again." But few can seriously view a realization of that
wish without fear for the certain consequences.

The truth is, the world moves on. Human nature may remain the same; but
the laws and usages of society are subject to changes which it is
useless to withstand. At the present day, great, rather too great,
perhaps, are the claims of _charity_. We are told to hope for the best
in the worst of cases; we are to forgive all, even the still hardened
and unrepenting; we are to smile upon heresy and schism; we are to treat
the rude, the churlish, the hard of heart, amidst our flocks, as if we
had the greatest regard for them! I am not prepared to say that this is
in every way to be regretted; for these are errors that lean perhaps to
virtue's side. But I certainly do think that often a little more
fearlessness in rebuking vice would not come amiss.

But, on the other hand, suppose for a moment the clergy to have the
undisputed power to bar out both the wicked rich and the wicked poor
from their churches, this power would be of very little use; nay, it
would be full of mischief and danger, without a sound judgment, a
fearless spirit, and a heart little used to the melting mood. The
clergy, as a class, may perhaps be a trifle superior to the laity in
moral character, in spiritual knowledge, and in judgment in dealing with
people, because their profession has early trained (or at any rate,
ought to have trained) them in the constant and imperative exercise of
self-examination and self-control, and the careful discernment of
character in their intercourse with men. But that superiority, if it
exists at all, is so trifling as to make very little impression on the
laity, who would naturally be ready at any step to dispute the wisdom or
expediency of the judicial acts of the clergy.

Further, again: given both the wisdom to judge and the power to doom,
would it be desirable to establish a rule that the open and notorious
sinner (though there would always be differences of opinion upon what he
really is, even among the clergy themselves) should be prevented from
coming where he might, above all other places, be most likely to hear
words that would touch his heart and bring him to a better mind? From
the pulpit, words of counsel, of holy doctrine, and of heart-stirring
precepts of the Gospel, fall with a power and weight which are rarely to
be found in private conversations. Many an open and notorious sinner has
first yielded up his heart to God under the powerful influence of
preaching. When Jesus sat in the Pharisee's house, all the publicans and
sinners drew near to hear Him; and the orthodox sinners, the Pharisees,
made bitter complaints that He received and ate with the scorned and
rejected sinners. God forbid that the day should ever come when
spiritual pride and exclusiveness shall shut out even the hardest of
sinners from the house of God; for who can tell where or when the word
may be spoken which shall break the stony heart, and replace it with the
tender heart of flesh, soon to be filled with love and devotion to God
the Saviour and Redeemer?

But, as this is a subject of great importance, may I also say a word in
support of Mr. Ruskin's own view that the wicked should be discouraged,
or even forbidden, to enter the house of God? We have 2 Cor. vi. 14-18,
which seems to point out that, in the primitive Church, the wicked were
not allowed in the assemblies of the faithful. And we remember David's
"I have hated the congregation of evil doers, and will not sit with the
wicked" (Psalm xxvi. 5). Is not Mr. Ruskin, perhaps, after all, only
advocating a return to primitive usage?

Mr. Ruskin says in the Preface to his selected works: "What I wrote on
religion was painstaking, and I think forcible, as compared with most
religious writing; especially in its frankness and fearlessness."
Unfortunately he adds, "But it was wholly mistaken."[14] He is still
equally outspoken, frank, and fearless; but what he wrote upon religion,
as far as I know it, in the days which he now condemns, will live and do
good, as long as the noble English language, of which he is one of the
greatest masters, lives to convey to distant generations the great
thoughts of the sons that are her proudest boast.

     [14] "Sesame and Lilies," p. iii., 1876.


                            BY THE EDITOR.

Since writing my notes on Letter VI., in which Mr. Ruskin gives such
vehement expression to his desire to see the ancient discipline of the
Church restored, I have in conversation with himself learned this to be
one of the objects he has most at heart in writing these letters; and I
have also read in the Life of Bishop Selwyn, by the Rev. H. W. Tucker
(vol. i., p. 241) that admirable prelate's view of this disregarded
question. I believe Selwyn to have been the greatest uninspired
missionary since the days of St. Paul (if indeed we can with truth
consider so great a man wholly uninspired). But the great Bishop of the
South Seas, in the charge from which copious extracts are there given,
distinctly recommends the revival of spiritual discipline and the
censures of the Church upon unrepenting offenders. He refers for
authority to apostolic example and precept, and to the discipline
rubrics of the Communion Service, and adds the undeniable fact that our
Anglican communion is the only branch of the Christian Church where such
discipline is wanting.

I must ask leave to refer my readers to Mr. Tucker's book for the
grounds in detail of the Bishop's wishes. I am not aware that any
English prelate has ventured upon so hazardous an experiment; one, I
should rather say, so certain to fail disastrously. The infancy of the
Christian Church, and the Divine guidance directly exercised, rendered
such discipline in the first centuries both practicable and
effective.[15] But I do not remember that any parish priest of the
Reformed Church has ever attempted to enforce the Communion rubrics,
except, as we have learned from the public papers, in recent times, with
disastrous consequences to the promoters. And what kind of wickedness is
to be so visited? To prove drunkenness, or impurity, or fraudulent
practices, or false doctrine (Canon 109), a judicial inquiry must be
resorted to. Rebukes for lesser offences would certainly lead to
disputes, if not even to recrimination! The irresistible circumstances
of the age would entirely defeat any such endeavours. In towns,
parochial limits are practically unknown or ignored, and families, or
individuals, attend whatever church or chapel they please, no one
preventing them, thus making all exercise of sacerdotal authority
impracticable. In the country, even where only the parish church is
within reach, it is highly probable that an offender would meet priestly
excommunication by the easy expedient of cutting himself off from
communication with his clergyman and his church; and even if he did not,
it would be a very new state of things if the sentence were received
with submission on the part of the offender, and acquiescence on that of
the congregation.

     [15] As these sheets are passing through the press, I happen to
     meet with these words of Bishop Wilberforce:--"The more I have
     thought over the matter, the more it seems to me that it was
     providentially intended that discipline, in the strictest sense of
     that word, should be the restraint of the early Church, and that it
     should gradually die out as the Church approached maturity, or
     rather turn from a formal and external rule to an inner work in the
     spirit--should run into the opening of God's Word and its
     application to the individual soul and life."--_Life_, vol. i., p.

In short, the thing is simply impossible; and I do not find that even
Bishop Selwyn himself visited immorality with ecclesiastical censures,
or supported his clergy in doing so; and I am using the word
"immorality" in its full and proper sense, and not with that restricted
meaning which confines it to a particular sin. It is true, as he says,
that our Church stands alone in refraining from the exercise of such
power. But in other religious bodies, the discretionary power to use
such dangerous weapons is not left to individuals however gifted. It
rests in a constituted body, on whom the whole responsibility would lie.
But the isolation of the English clergyman in his church and parish
forbids him thus to risk his whole usefulness and his social existence.
Who would confirm him in his judgment? Who would stand by him in the
troubles which he would assuredly entail upon himself? Would his
churchwardens, his rural dean, his archdeacon, or his bishop? I think
there would be little comfort to be found in any of these quarters.

                            ON LETTER VII

Excellent as is Canon Gray's letter (p. 169), I do not at all concur in
his somewhat severe censure on the second paragraph in this letter, in
which Mr. Ruskin, as I conceive, with complete theological accuracy,
points out how in His human nature our Lord accepted and received some,
perhaps many, of the deficiencies of our nature, human frailty and
weakness, even human _liability_ to sin, without, however, once yielding
to its temptations. I have everywhere in my "Life of Christ" endeavoured
to give reasons for my faith in this view, which, even if held, I know
is not often professed.

If Christ had been perfectly insensible to the allurements of sin, where
would be His fellow-feeling with us? It would be a mere outward
semblance; nor would there then be any significance in the statement
that "He was in all points tempted like as we are," if He had been able
to view with calm indifference the inducements presented to Him from
time to time to abandon His self-sacrificing work and consult His
safety. The captain is not to go securely armour-plated into the fight
while the private soldier marches in his usual unprotected apparel. Nor
will the Captain of our salvation protect Himself against the dangers
which He invites us to encounter. If He knew nothing of sin from
experience of its power, how could He be an example to us? Therefore I
believe Mr. Ruskin to be perfectly right in affirming that in the words
of Jesus we listen not to one speaking entirely in the Power and Wisdom
of God, but to the Son of Man, bowed down, but not conquered, by
afflictions, firm and unbending in His great purpose to bear in His own
body the sin of the world--Son of Man, yet God Incarnate.

Nor does it seem to me "a hard way of speaking" when Mr. Ruskin rightly
and plainly affirms the perfect humanity of Christ, which, however,
Canon Gray correctly points out to be assumed and borne in accordance
with His own will as perfect God. I am afraid that, good and kind as he
is, it is Canon Gray himself who is a little hard in unconsciously
imputing thoughts which had no existence in the writer's mind!

I cannot help being amused at the gravity with which certain critics
shake their heads ominously over the last paragraph in this letter, and
seriously ask, What can Mr. Ruskin mean by the "peace and joy in the
Holy Ghost" enjoyed by the birds? The Poet Laureate would hardly care to
be brought to book for each poetical flight with which he charms his
many appreciative readers, and to be asked to explain exactly what he
means by each of those noble thoughts which are only revealed from soul
to soul, and dissolve into fluid, like the beautiful brittle-star of our
coasts, under the touch of a too curious hand.

How do we know but that the animal existence of these charming
companions of our quiet hours is not accompanied by a spiritual
existence too, as much inferior to our own spiritual state as their
corporeal to ours? And therefore shall we boldly dare to say that they
perish altogether and for ever? We may neither believe nor disbelieve in
matters kept so completely secret from us. But we must be pardoned for
leaning to a belief that the feathered creatures which spend most of
their brief life in singing loud praises to the loving Creator and Giver
of all good, do not live quite for nothing beyond the dissolution of
their little frames. There are no means of ascertaining this by
scientific experiments, or even by the most ingenious processes of
induction carefully recorded and duly referred to as occasion may arise.
But certainly it is a harmless fancy which many have indulged in before
Mr. Ruskin, without being charged with such unsoundness in doctrine as
denying the Personality of the Holy Ghost! By-and-by it may be found
that what men have believed in half in sport will be realized wholly in
earnest. Just outside the churchyard wall of Ecclesfield may be seen (at
least I saw it a few years ago) a little monumental stone to a favourite
dog, with the text, "Thou, Lord, preservest man and beast." And in
Kingsley's "Prose Idylls" I have just met most _àpropos_ with the
following beautiful passage, which many will read with pleasure, perhaps
some with profit:--

     "If anyone shall hint to us that we and the birds may have sprung
     originally from the same type; that the difference between our
     intellect and theirs is one of degree, and not of kind, we may
     believe or doubt: but in either case we shall not be greatly moved.
     'So much the better for the birds,' we will say, 'and none the
     worse for us. You raise the birds towards us: but you do not lower
     us towards them.' What we are, we are by the grace of God. Our own
     powers and the burden of them we know full well. It does not lessen
     their dignity or their beauty in our eyes to hear that the birds of
     the air partake, even a little, of the same gifts of God as we. Of
     old said St. Guthlac in Crowland, as the swallows sat upon his
     knee, 'He who leads his life according to the will of God, to him
     the wild deer and the wild birds draw more near;' and this new
     theory of yours may prove St. Guthlac right. St. Francis, too--he
     called the birds his brothers. Whether he was correct, either
     theologically or zoologically, he was plainly free from that fear
     of being mistaken for an ape, which haunts so many in these modern
     times. Perfectly sure that he himself was a spiritual being, he
     thought it at least possible that birds might be spiritual beings
     likewise, incarnate like himself in mortal flesh; and saw no
     degradation to the dignity of human nature in claiming kindred
     lovingly with creatures so beautiful, so wonderful, who (as he
     fancied in his old-fashioned way) praised God in the forest, even
     as angels did in heaven. In a word, the saint, though he was an
     ascetic, and certainly no man of science, was yet a poet, and
     somewhat of a philosopher; and would possibly--so do extremes
     meet--have hailed as orthodox, while we hail as truly scientific,
     Wordsworth's great saying--

                         'Therefore am I still
          A lover of the meadows and the woods
          And mountains; and of all that we behold
          From this green earth; of all the mighty world
          Of eye and ear--both what they half create,
          And what perceive; well pleased to recognize
          In Nature and the language of the sense,
          The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
          The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
          Of all my moral being.'"

                                       _Charm of Birds._

                            ON LETTER VIII

What generous and enlightened spirit will not be stirred to its
innermost depths by these words, burning as they are with a
well-grounded indignation?

I dare say some of the clergy will have a word to say on their claim to
the priesthood as implying a sacrificial and mediatorial character. On
this point I will say nothing at present.

But it is an awfully solemn consideration put before us here, whether
instead of the pure blessings and the bright countenances intended to
be ours, our accursed blessings and defiled faces are not the natural
consequences of our wilful misunderstanding of what the will of the Lord

"Thy will be done" is a petition which can be offered up in two quite
distinct senses. In the one, it is an expression of resignation to the
Father's afflictive dispensations; in the other, the heartfelt desire to
work out the revealed will of God in all the many-sided aspects of life.
In the first sense, when sorrow or death has entered our door, our first
impulse, if we are Christians, is to give evidence of, and expression
to, our resignation by recognizing the _will of God_. Hence Mr. Ruskin
interposes: "Are you so sure that it _was_ the will of God that your
child should die, or that you should have got into that trouble?" I look
in my local paper in the column of deaths, and see in a neighbouring
large town how extraordinary a proportion of deaths are those of
children. I have taken occasional cemetery duty in one of the busiest
centres of industry in Yorkshire, and was shocked at the large numbers
of funerals in white. Am I to believe it was the _will of God_ that so
many young children should perish, especially as I look to my own
beautiful parish, with its sweet sea and mountain breezes mingled, where
the deaths of children are comparatively rare? and am I not forced to
believe that, even without the assistance of destitution--neglect and
overcrowding, and "quieting mixtures" and ardent spirits, and kicks and
blows have filled most of those little graves? I fear that the will of
Satan is here being accomplished vastly to his satisfaction. And seldom
does the Government do more than touch the fringe of these monstrous
evils. Of course they say "We cannot interfere," or "Legislation in
these matters is impracticable." But can we not all remember when it was
just as certain that free trade in food was impracticable? but who does
not see that it is saving us from famine this dark year 1879?--that
compulsory education was revolutionary and full of unimaginable perils
to the country, and yet who are so glad as the poor themselves, now that
it has been carried into effect? It used to be thought that if people
chose to kill themselves with unwholesome open drains before their
doors, there was no power able to prevent them. But we are wiser now.
Legislators have generally been, or chosen to appear, like cowards till
the time for action came, very late, and then they were decided enough.
Now let us hope that a way may be found to save infant life from
premature extinction by wholesale.

Let me use this opportunity of saying that in the letters we are now
considering there is a feature which ought not to escape those who are
desirous of deriving good from them; and that is that in their very
condensed form no time is taken for explanation or expansion. Mr. Ruskin
speaks as unto wise men, and asks us to judge for ourselves what he
says. But my own experience, after frequent perusal of them, shows me
that there is a vast fund of truth in them which becomes apparent only
after patient consideration and reflection. Without desiring at all to
bestow extravagant praise on my kind friend, or any other distinguished
man, it is only fair and just to own that the truth that is in these
letters shines out more and more the more closely they are examined. It
is a gift that God has given him, which has cost him far more pain,
worry, and vexation, through all kinds of wilful and envious, as well as
innocent and unconscious misrepresentation, than ever it has gained him
of credit or renown.

This principle leads me to view _now_ with approbation what I could not
read at first without an unpleasant feeling. The sentence: "Nearly the
whole Missionary body (with the hottest Evangelical section of the
English Church) is at this moment composed of men who think the Gospel
they are to carry to mend the world with, forsooth, is this, 'If any man
sin, he hath an Advocate with the Father.'" And when I first read it to
my reverend brethren, hard words were spoken of this passage, because in
its terseness, in its elliptic form, it easily allows itself to be
misunderstood. Yet the paragraph contains the essence of the Gospel
expressed with a faithful boldness not often met with in pulpit

"If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father." We have here a
solemn and momentous truth, expressed in few words, as clearly and as
briefly as any geometrical definition. But is this _all_ the Gospel?
Will this alone "mend the world, forsooth"? Now the extreme men of one
particular school in the English Church do really preach little else
beside this. When they are entreated to preach upon good works, too, and
unfold a little of their value and beauty,--if they have any at
all,--the answer is always to the effect, "Oh, of course; faith in
Christ must of necessity beget the love of good works. These are the
signs of that. Preach Christ crucified, and all the rest will be sure to
follow." And this is what is exclusively called "preaching the Gospel."
The preacher who teaches us to love our enemies, to live pure lives, to
be honourable to all men and women, to bring up our families in the
truth, is frowned upon as a "legal preacher." As a clergyman myself, I
am not afraid of saying that I look upon this so-called Gospel-preaching
as fraught with not a little of danger. God knows, wicked sinners are
found in every congregation and class of men, kneeling to pray, and
singing praises, exactly like good men. Now I can hardly conceive a
style and matter of preaching more calculated to excuse and palliate,
and almost encourage sin, than this narrow and exclusive so-called
Gospel-preaching. Neither Christ nor His apostles taught thus at all.
The whole Sermon on the Mount is moral in the highest and purest sense.
Every epistle has its moral or _legal_ side. "Woe is me if I preach not
the Gospel!" and I cannot be preaching the Gospel unless, along with the
great proclamation, "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the
Father," I also do my utmost to teach "what the will of the Lord is"
concerning a pure, holy, and blameless life, full of active, good works,
done in deep humility and self-abasement; because Christ loved me and
died for me, and asks me, in love to Him, to walk in His steps.

                             ON LETTER IX

I fancy I can still hear the murmur of angry dissent pass round as I
read to my reverend brethren this indignant plea for a higher
interpretation of the petition for daily bread than that which passes
current with the unthinking, self-indulgent world. Nevertheless, this
manifestation of feeling was not general, and I thoroughly agree with
Mr. Ruskin that the world has, from the first, used this prayer
thoughtlessly and blasphemously; and probably will continue to do so to
the end, when the thoughts and imaginations of all men's hearts shall be
revealed, and no more disguises shall be possible; when the masked
hypocrite's smile shall be torn from him and reveal the covetousness
that breeds in his heart to its core; when the honourable man shall no
longer be confounded with thieves, nor the usurer and extortioner be
courted and bowed to like an honest man.

The veil that hid the true Christ, as Mr. Ruskin has well remarked, was
removed in the breaking of bread with the disciples at Emmaus. As the
Master, so the true disciples. They too may be known both by the
spiritual breaking of the Bread of Life in the Holy Communion (though
the canting hypocrite too may be found polluting that holy rite); but
more especially in the union of the sacred ordinance with obedience to
the scarcely less sacred command of Christian love and charity to the
poor. There may be the empty profession, but there will be none of the
reality of the religion of the Gospel, unless we are partakers of the
bread broken at the Lord's Table, or unless we eat the bread earned by
the honest labour of our hands or of our brains, or share some of our
bread with those, the Lord's brethren, whom He has left for us to care
for in His name. The absence of either of these three essential
conditions just lays us open to the charge of flaunting before the world
a false and spurious Christianity. In the plain words of our friend, our
bread not being fairly got or fairly used, is stolen bread.

But I would willingly believe that it is only by a strong figure of
speech that we clergy are here again emphatically called upon to act the
part of inquisitors by pointedly demanding of every member of our flock
a precise account of the manner in which he earns his livelihood. Still,
if the answer was not a surprised and indignant stare, I believe the
great mass of men would probably be able to give an answer which should
abundantly satisfy themselves and us, until Mr. Ruskin threw his own
light upon the answer and demonstrated that the notions of modern
civilized society are not in accordance with the highest teaching.
According to our ideas, the artisan, the tradesman, the merchant, the
members of the learned and the military and naval professions, all those
engaged in the various departments of government work, from the cabinet
minister down to the last office clerk,--all these use the labour of
body or of mind, and in return receive the necessaries or the luxuries
of life for themselves and their households. Men who are, if they
please, exempt altogether from such labour, as large landed proprietors,
are certainly under a temptation to lead a life of ease and leisure. But
it is very seldom that we are offended with the sight of a landlord so
unmindful of social duties as to take no personal active interest in the
welfare and conduct of his tenants, or forgetful of the responsibilities
to his country imposed upon him by his rank and position.

It is to be hoped that Mr. Ruskin does not in all solemn seriousness
really expect that after a fair examination of the modes of life of all
these people, "an entirely new view of life and its sacraments will
open upon us and them." Is it indeed a fact that "the great mass of men
calling themselves Christians do actually live by robbing the poor of
their bread, and by no other trade whatsoever"? Mr. Ruskin is always
terribly in earnest in whatever he says, and we must look for an
explanation of this sentence in the very decided views he holds upon
interest of money, which he calls usury.

Mr. Ruskin classes Usury and Interest together. Here are some of his
strong words upon this subject: "There is absolutely no debate possible
as to what usury is, any more than what adultery is. The Church has only
been polluted by indulgence in it since the 16th century. Usury is any
kind whatever of interest on loan, and it is the essential modern force
of Satan." This was written September 9th of this year. In "Fors
Clavigera," Letter lxxxii., p. 323, he challenged the Bishop of
Manchester to answer him the question, whether he considered "usury to
be a work of the Lord"?[16] In the same letter, to place his heavy
denunciation against the wickedness of usury in the best possible
company, he pleads: "Plato's scheme was impossible even in his own
day,--as Bacon's New Atlantis in _his_ day,--as Calvin's reform in _his_
day,--as Goethe's Academe in his; but of the good there was in all these
men, the world gathered what it could find of evil."

     [16] See _Contemporary Review_, February 1880.

Let us look a little closer into this matter. It is not because a man
with fearless frankness breasts the full torrent of popular persuasion
and universal practice that he is to be thrust aside as a fanatic, with
hard words and unfeeling sneers concerning his sanity. Here, again, I
avow my persuasion that Mr. Ruskin is, in one sense, too far in advance,
and, in another, too far in the rear of the time; and while I attempt an
explanatory justification of the modern practice, I admit that it is
only "for the hardness of our hearts" and because the golden age is
still far off.

The Mosaic law was severe against usury and increase, forbidding it
under heavy threatenings among the faithful Israelites, but allowing it
in lending to strangers. "If thy brother be waxen poor, then thou shalt
relieve him ... take thou no usury of him, or increase" (Lev. xxv. 35,
36). "Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money,
usury of victuals, usury of anything that is lent upon usury. _Unto a
stranger_ thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt
not lend upon usury" (Deut. xxiii. 19, 20). "Lord, who shall abide in
Thy tabernacle? ... He that putteth not out his money to usury" (Psalm
xv. 1, 5. See Ezek. xviii. 7, etc.) And to come to the Christian law, we
have the mild general principle: "If ye lend to them of whom ye hope to
receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to
receive as much again.... Lend, hoping for nothing again, and your
reward shall be great" (Luke vi. 34, 35).

So far the Law of Moses and the Gospel.

But our Lord, in the Parable of the Talents, appears to actually
sanction the practice of loans upon interest: "Thou oughtest, therefore,
to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should
have received mine own with usury" (Matt. xxv. 27). The preceding verse,
the 26th, may well be understood to be a question--Didst thou indeed
think so? It does not even indirectly attribute hardness and oppression
to our Lord.[17] I am quite aware that it may be replied that this is an
instance of those strong audacious metaphors, where the fact used by way
of illustration is instinctively overleaped by the mind of the hearer to
arrive at the lesson which it marks and emphasizes; as when the Lord is
represented as an unjust judge, or Paul speaks of grafting the wild
olive branch upon the good, or James refers to the rust and canker upon
gold and silver, or Milton speaks of certain bishops as "blind
mouths."[18] But in all these cases, the hyperbole is manifest; it is an
untruth or a disguise, which not only does not deceive, but teaches a
great truth. Our Lord's reference to money-lenders or exchangers appears
to lend an indirect sanction to a familiar practice.

     [17] The owners of five talents and of two talents are commended
     for making cent. per cent. of their money; but the man who hid away
     his one talent, as French peasants do, and brought it to his Lord
     untouched and undiminished, received a severe rebuke.

     [18] Lycidas. See "Sesame and Lilies," p. 27.

The Law of Moses, therefore, rebuking the practice of lending for
increase among brethren and encouraging it in dealing with strangers,
combined with the well-known avarice of the Jews to make them
money-lenders on a large scale, and at high rates of interest, to the
prodigals and spendthrifts, the bankrupt barons and needy sovereigns of
the middle ages. Money was rarely lent for commercial purposes, and to
advance the real prosperity of the borrower. It was generally to stave
off want for the time; and principal and interest, when pay-day came,
had generally to be found in the pastures or strongholds of the enemy.
High interest was charged, on account of the extraordinary
precariousness of what was called the security. Grinding and grasping
undoubtedly the money-lenders would be, from the hardship of their case.
Reckless extravagance and lavish profusion were, in those non-commercial
ages, highly applauded. The spendthrift and the prodigal was the
favourite of the multitude; the rich money-lender was hated and abused,
while his money-bags were sought after with all the eagerness of
hard-driving poverty. They reviled the careful and economical Israelite;
they looked with horror upon his vast accumulations of capital, and
never remembered to thank him for the safety they owed to him from the
violent hands of their own soldiers and retainers.

All this went on until the sixteenth or seventeenth century. I have
before me a very curious old book, lent to me by Mr. Ruskin, entitled,
"The English Usurer: or, Usury Condemned by the most learned and famous
Divines of the Church of England. Collected by John Blaxton, Preacher of
God's Word at Osmington, in Dorsetshire, 1634."

The language throughout the book is of extreme violence against all
manner of usury. The compiler gives a collection of the most emphatic
testimonies of the greatest preachers of the day against this
"detestable vice." Bishop Jewell calls it "a most filthy trade, a trade
which God detesteth, a trade which is the very overthrow of all
Christian love." There is, it must be admitted, no sort of argument
attempted in the long extract from Bishop Jewell's sermon to demonstrate
the wickedness of the practice against which he launches his fierce
invectives, but he certainly brings his sermon to a conclusion with a
threat of extreme measures "if they continue therein. I will open their
shame and denounce excommunication against them, and publish their names
in this place before you all, that you may know them, and abhor them as
the plagues and monsters of this world; that if they be past all fear of
God, they may yet repent and amend for worldly shame."

This was Bishop Jewell preaching in the middle of the 16th century; and
such were the strong terms very generally employed by good and
thoughtful men at that day. Bacon (Essay 41) says that one of the
objections against usury is that "it is against nature for money to
beget money!" Antonio, in "The Merchant of Venice," asks:

                 "When did friendship take
    A _breed_ of barren metal of his friend?"

And his practice was "neither to lend nor borrow by taking nor giving of
excess," which brought upon him the malice and vindictiveness of the

                "that in low simplicity
    He lends out money gratis, and brings down
    The rate of usance here with us in Venice."

Philip, in Tennyson's "Brook "--a simple man in later times--

    "Could not understand how money breeds,
    Thought it a dead thing."

But there were men, too, who saw that the taking of moderate interest
was a blameless act. Calvin was a contemporary of Bishop Jewell, and his
mind exhibits a curious mixture of feelings upon the subject. Blaxton
triumphantly places a sentence from Calvin's "Epistola de Usura" as a
battle-flag in his title-page:--

"In republica bene constituta nemo fænerator tolerabilis est; sed omnino
debet e consortio hominum rejici." "An usurer is not tolerable in a
well-established Commonwealth, but utterly to be rejected out of the
company of men." So again, in his Commentary on Deuteronomy. But again,
in a passage quoted from the same author, without reference, in Dugald
Stewart's Preliminary Dissertation (Encyd. Brit.) we come across a
different view.

"'Money begets not money!'--What does the sea beget? What the house for
which I receive rent? Is silver brought forth from the walls and the
roof? But that is produced from land, and that is drawn forth from the
sea, which shall produce money; and the convenience of a house is paid
for with a stipulated sum. Now if better profit can be derived from the
letting out of money than by the letting of an estate, shall a profit be
made by letting perhaps some barren land to a farmer, and shall it not
be allowed to him who lends a sum of money? He who gets an estate by
purchase, shall he not from that money derive an annual profit? Whence
then is the merchant's profit? You will say, from his diligence and
industry. Does anyone suppose that money ought to lie idle and
unprofitable? He who borrows of me is not going to let the loan lie
idle. He is not going to draw profit from the money itself, but from the
goods bought with it. Those reasonings, therefore, against usury are
subtle, and have a certain plausibility; but they fall as soon as they
are examined more narrowly. I therefore conclude that we are to judge of
usury, not from any particular passage of Scripture, but by the ordinary
rules of justice and equity."

To come at once to modern days and practical views. Let us suppose
lending on interest forbidden by the Church and the law. Then sums of
money required for good and legitimate business purposes must be begged
as a great favour. No honourable man would do this. The instinctive
repugnance felt by an independent man to place himself under pecuniary
obligations which he could not reciprocate would stop many a promising
young man of slender means from going to college, many a good man of
business from using the most favourable opportunities. I am not speaking
of borrowing money to gain temporary relief from pecuniary
embarrassment, but of money honourably desired to realize advantages of
apparent life-value. So the necessitous would be doomed to remain in
hopeless necessity until some benevolently-minded person with a mass of
loose unemployed capital came to his rescue, and such men are not to be
met with every day.

So far for the man who would like to borrow, but that the law will not
allow it except as a free loan or gift. Then for the willing lender, if
he dared. He has, say, a few thousands in hand, which he does not wish
to spend. He looks round, if he is anxious to use it for good, for an
object of his charity who seems least likely to disappoint him. Does our
experience of human nature teach that a sense of gratitude for benefits
received is a good security for honourable conduct? Alas! in a multitude
of cases--I fear the majority--the lender would only be met with cold
and alienated looks when he expected to receive his own again, if indeed
he found anywhere at all the object of his kindness. The memory of past
ingratitude, the fear of worse to come, would dry the sources of
benevolence, and make the upright and honest to suffer equally with the
swindler and the hypocrite.

But there is no such fear now. The recognized system of lending upon
approved security for a fair and moderate rate of interest removes the
irksome, galling sense of obligation, and enables any man to borrow with
a feeling that if he receives an obligation he is also conferring one;
that if he makes ten per cent. by trading, or a good stipend by his
degree, he will divide his profits fairly with the man who served him,
and that he is helping him in his turn to keep his money together for
the sake of his children after him. Take away these benefits, and what
good is done by free lending? Not any that we can see with ordinary
eyes, but a good deal of suspicion, disappointment, ingratitude, and

An honourable man would a hundred times rather accept a loan as a matter
of profit to the lender than as a charity to himself. The right result
of an honourable system of borrowing and lending with equal advantage to
both, _is_ the will of God, and not contrary to sanctification. The
result of a compulsory system of charitable loans would lead only to the
destruction of credit and mutual confidence, and the sacrifice of a
multitude of Christian graces and virtues.

We cannot help observing with what vehemence Mr. Ruskin constantly
thrusts the thief, the adulterer, and the usurer all into the same boat
to be tossed against the breakers of his wrath. Now I would ask some one
of those numerous disciples of his, whose affection almost prompts them
to say to him, "I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest," "Pray, my
good friend, what is your own practice? Providence has blessed you with
ease and affluence far more than you need for daily bread. What do you
do with your money? Of course you would never think of investing in
consols, in railway shares, or dock-bonds, would you? you would not lend
money upon mortgage, or exact rent for your household and landed
property? I see that you hesitate a little; you have something to
confess. Come! what is it?" And my amiable friend replies, "Oh, but you
see all the world is gone after interest of money; all our mutual
relations are so intimately bound up with that accursed, abominable
practice, that I have no alternative. _I have_ large sums lodged in
various safe investments, and employ an agent to collect my rents and
settle with my tenants." And so I am forced to exclaim, "What! you who
are persuaded that usury, and theft, and adultery, are all of equal
blackness, if you find that one sin is unavoidable, what about the other
two? Would you then invite the robber and the licentious to sin with
impunity, as you practise your own convenient iniquity, with the
applause of the world and your own acquiescence?"

Positively I see no escape from this argument. It is the _argumentum ad
hominem_,--generally an uncivil mode of address; but here, at any rate,
it is impersonally used.

These are my views frankly stated. If I am wrong, even by the highest
standard of Christian ethics, I shall be thankful for Mr. Ruskin's

                             ON LETTER X

The letters which I have received up to the present time (October 31st)
in reply to Mr. Ruskin's have not failed to bring me not a little of
disappointment. On the one hand, I see a man noble and elevated in his
aims, and with highest aspirations, desiring nothing so fervently as to
see the world and its pastors and teachers rising to the highest
attainable level of religious and moral excellence; fearlessly rebuking
the evils he sees so clearly; clothing thoughts that consume him in
words that stir our inmost hearts; and yet I see him unavoidably missing
his aim as all men are liable to do, through the defect of possessing
human language alone as the channel to convey divine meanings; and,
moreover, who cannot at every turn stay the course of their reasoning to
explain that that which they speak apparently, and from the necessities
of language, to _all_, is, as the most ordinary apprehension would
perceive, really addressed to _some_.

On the other side, while I hear many expressing their thankfulness that
things are now being said that "wanted saying," and are being spoken out
with uncompromising boldness, others receive them with impatience, with
irritation, with exasperation. I have been gravely advised to recommend
Mr. Ruskin to withdraw these letters, to wash my hands of them, etc.
Sometimes this arises from unfamiliarity with Mr. Ruskin's most famous
works; sometimes from entire unacquaintance with their number and their
nature; as when a friend wrote to me before he saw or heard a word of
the letters:--

"If Mr. Ruskin thinks we have generally read his _publication_ (_sic_)
I think he is mistaken; all I know of _it_ is that I have occasionally
seen _it_ quoted in newspapers, from which I gather that he holds
peculiar opinions."

A lady, who looked well to the ways of her household, but knew very
little of books, once asked me if Mr. Ruskin had not written a book
called the "Old Red Sandstone." I hinted that probably she meant the
"Stones of Venice," which was indeed the case. She knew it was something
about stones! But she was an excellent creature nevertheless!

These two traits may fairly be paired together.

It should be observed, by clergymen especially who read these letters
attentively, that they contain just what we clergy ought to be told
sometimes by laymen, to whom we preach with perfect impunity, but who as
a rule rarely make reply. I have just read Lord Carnarvon's excellent
address on Preaching, delivered at the Winchester Diocesan Conference,
and thank him as I thank, and for the same reason that I thank, Mr.
Ruskin. We need to be told wholesome though unpalatable truths
sometimes, when we have descended from our castle-pulpits to meet, it
may be, the eyes, and hear the voices, of impatient, irritated, and
prejudiced critics.

I do not remember that so bold an attack, and yet so friendly, has ever
before been made upon our weak points in modern times; and I may justly
claim for Mr. Ruskin's letters a calm, self-searching, and, if need be,
a self-condemning and self-sacrificing, examination. We are all too apt
to cry "Peace, peace, where there is no peace." Why should the shepherds
of Britain claim for themselves a more indulgent regard than the
shepherds of Israel, whom Ezekiel, by the word of the Lord, addressed in
the 33rd and 34th chapters of his prophecy?

Concerning the letter before us on the forgiveness of sins--each other's
sins or debts, and our sins before God--it is not a question of
theology, but of simple moral right and wrong; and I defy Mr. Ruskin's
bitterest censors to deny, that, in this wicked world, men are more in
earnest in deceiving, injuring, and swindling their friends than they
are in seeking the love of their enemies. Has not our Lord told us long
ago that "the children of this world are wiser" (that is, more earnest,
consistent, and thorough-going) "in their generation than the children
of light"?

It is of extreme difficulty to _understand_ the clause, says Mr. Ruskin.
Replies some slow-witted preacher: "Where is the difficulty? I both
understand it and explain it with perfect ease!" What! understand the
precious conditions on which forgiveness will be extended to us! The
question of God's forgiveness is not a _simple_ question. It is
complicated by its relation to men's mutual forgiveness of each other,
and that again by the practical difficulty of knowing when we can, and
when, from the very nature of the case, we cannot, forgive. Here are
surely elements of difficulty quite sufficient to justify the remark
that "the clause is one of such difficulty that, to understand it, means
almost to know the love of God which passeth knowledge."

But we may, at any rate, guard our people against _misunderstanding_ it;
and they are guilty, and full of guilt, who live in sin,--sins of
avarice, of ill temper, of calumny, of hatred, of sensuality, and of
unforgivingness, and yet daily ask to be forgiven, because, forsooth,
they are innocent of any bad intention!

No man or woman who sins with the knowledge that it _is_ sin can have
God's forgiveness. It is no use to plead the frailty of the flesh. It is
wilful, knowing, deliberate sin; and it will not be forgiven without a
very living, earnest, and working faith indeed.

I question much whether we preachers of the Gospel say enough upon this
point,--not at all that we underrate its importance, nor that we
overrate the importance of that which we are apt to call Gospel
preaching [Greek: kat' exochên], namely, the doctrine of the atonement
by the Blood of Christ, which is the brightness and glory of the Gospel
message, but is no more all of it than that the sum of the Lord's Prayer
is contained in one of its clauses.

"As we forgive them that trespass against us." Shall I be pardoned for
venturing here upon a remark which seems needful to make in the presence
of so much that appears to be erroneous on the subject of human
forgiveness? And it is more especially necessary to be understood in
the case of the clergy, because such large demands are made upon their
forgiveness as it is impossible to satisfy. I do not at all say that
there are trespasses which men cannot forgive,--sins, I mean, of the
ordinary type, and not crimes. But I do say that there are times and
circumstances under which forgiveness is a moral impossibility. And yet
the world expects a clergyman to be ever walking up and down in society
with forgiveness on his lips and forgiveness in both his hands. Our Lord
said, "If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and _if he
repent_, forgive him" (Luke xvii. 3); and forgiveness is to follow each
successive profession of repentance. And in Matt. xviii. 22, though
repentance is not named, it is manifestly implied. In 2 Cor. ii. 7,
again, sorrow for the sin is a condition of forgiveness. This, then, is
the rule and condition of forgiveness, that our brother _repent_; and
manifestly it must be so; for the act of forgiveness requires a
correlative disposition to seek and receive forgiveness, just as a gift
implies not only a giver but a receiver, or it cannot be a gift, do what
we will. I think this is extremely apt to be overlooked even by the
larger, that is, the more emotional and impulsive part of the world,
though not, of course, by the more thoughtful; and clergymen especially
are asked to speak fair, and sue for peace, and all but ask for
forgiveness of those who are habitually and obstinately bent upon doing
them all the wrong and injury in their power, and using them with the
most intolerable harshness.

What, then, does true religion require of us if such circumstances make
forgiveness impossible? To be ever ready, ever prepared to forgive; to
seek every opening, every avenue to peace without sacrifice of
self-respect and manly independence; to watch for opportunities to do
kindnesses to the most inveterate enemy,--even where a change of heart
appears hopeless. This is possible to a Christian, and this is what
Christ demands. But He does not demand impossibilities. He does not ask
us to do more than our Heavenly Father Himself, who forgives the
returning sinner even "a great way off," if his face be but homeward;
but says nothing of forgiveness to him whose back is towards his home,
and whose heart dwells far away.

I am sure Mr. Ruskin does not mean that no clergyman is sensible of the
guilt of sins of omission. But he is speaking as a layman, who has heard
in his time a great many preachers, and it is very probable indeed that
he has not heard many dwell long and forcibly on the fact, which is
indeed a fact, that the guilt of sins of omission is the burden of
Christ's teaching, and that more parables and more preaching are
directed against the sin of doing nothing at all than against the
positive and active wickedness of bad men. If we will be candid, we must
agree with him that in our general teaching we do lay much less emphasis
on such sins than our Lord does in _His_ teaching.

But in the paragraph which follows, I confess that, following up a
charge which is sadly too true, that there is a grotesque inconsistency
"in the willingness of human nature to be taxed with any quantity of
sins in the gross, and its resentment at the insinuation of having
committed the smallest parcel of them in detail," there comes a
sentence in which the Christian philosopher loses himself in the caustic
satirist, and that this vein continues to the end of the letter. In
satire, such is its very essence, truth is ever travestied. It is truth
still, but the truth in unfamiliar, and, for the most part, unacceptable
guise. There is just an undercurrent of truth, and no more, in the
statement, not very seriously made, one would suppose, that the English
Liturgy was "drawn up with the amiable intention of making religion as
pleasant as possible, to a people desirous of saving their souls with no
great degree of personal inconvenience."

If the whole naked truth were spoken with the deepest gravity that the
awful pressure of our sins demands, the English Liturgy would be a
continuous wail of grief and repentance. For if anything is great, and
loud, and urgent, it is the cry of our sins. But co-extensive with our
sins is the love of our Father; and, therefore, our mourning is changed
into rejoicing and thankfulness, and this picture of the sinner
"dexterously concealing the manner of his sin from man, and
triumphantly confessing the quantity of it to God," is merely a satire.

The next paragraph is more bitter still; but happily for the cause of
sober truth, it is satire again; and nothing can be more obvious than
the fact that prayer, to be Common Prayer, cannot at the same time suit
every condition of mind, the calm and the agitated, the strained and the
relaxed, the rejoicing and the sorrowful. But we are not dependent upon
public worship for the satisfaction of our spiritual wants, as long as
we can resort to private prayer and family prayer. And, indeed, it
requires no wonderful stretch of our powers of adaptation to use the
most strenuous private prayer in the midst of the congregation; and the
"remorseful publican" and the "timid sinner" are not bound to the words
before them, or if they do follow these words, I am sure there is enough
depth in them to satisfy the views of the most conscience-stricken.
Common Prayer is calm to the calm, and passionate to the passionate. It
is all things to all men, just according to their frame of mind at the

But alas for my good kind friend! as we get nearer to the end of the
letter, the satire waxes fiercer, and the adherence to the truth of
nature grows fainter. Does Mr. Ruskin seriously, or only sarcastically,
tell us that the assaults upon the divine power of prayer gain any force
from the circumstance that we are constrained to pray daily for
forgiveness, never getting so far as to need it no longer? From the
first day that we lisped at our mother's knee, "Forgive us our
trespasses," until, bowed with age, we _still_ say, "Forgive us our
trespasses," we have never stood, and never will stand, one day less in
need of forgiveness than another day--or our Lord would have provided a
thanksgiving and a prayer for the perfected.

I believe everywhere else I recognize, even in the most startling
passages, an element of truth. But in the latter half of this letter,
not even the large amount of acrimony and severity allowed to the mode
of address called satire can quite reconcile us to its marvellous

                             ON LETTER XI

I cannot but feel astonished and grieved at the perversity of those
who[19] persist in looking upon Mr. Ruskin as altogether a noxious kind
of a scribbler, and likely to do much injury by the unflagging constancy
with which he perseveres in pointing his finger at all our weak and sore
places. And yet it cannot be said that even if he does "lade men with
burdens grievous to be borne," he himself "touches not the burdens with
one of his fingers."

     [19] It was but yesterday that a voice reached me from one of the
     remotest of our Ultima Thules amongst these mountains, affirming,
     with something like self-gratulation, that he "cared less than
     nothing for anything Mr. Ruskin might write outside the subject of
     Art!" Yet one of the best of our Bishops--and we have many good
     ones--wrote by the same post: "Mr. Ruskin's letters are full of
     suggestive thoughts, and must do anyone good, if only in getting
     one out of the ruts." But, alas! against this I must needs set the
     dictum of another dignitary of the Church, an intensely practical
     man: "I have a great reverence for Mr. Ruskin's genius, and for
     what he has written in time past, and on this account I would
     rather not say a single word in comment upon these letters;" and
     again--"I really could not discuss them seriously."

But let us consider this last letter. Is not every word of it
true--severely and austerely true,--but still true? But yet here still
the fault remains (though I say it with the utmost deference,
remembering that, after all, I have infinitely more to learn than I have
to teach), the fault remains that the truth is put too keenly, too
incisively, to be classed with practical truths.

Yes, the petitions of the Lord's Prayer are for a perfect state in this
life. We do pray for a Paradise upon earth, where either temptation
shall no longer exist, or where sin shall have lost its power to injure
by losing its power to allure. But will the most incessant prayer,
individual, combined, or congregational, ever bring us to perfection?
Alas! my friend, you would gladly persuade us so; you would lead the way
yourself, but that the first half-dozen steps you take would have, or
have long ago, proved to you that sin is ever present, even in the best
and purest of men.

I trust they are very few indeed who are so easily persuaded by the
conceited self-sufficiency of the "scientific people" to cease from
prayer under the belief that all things move on under the control of
inflexible laws, which neither prayer nor the will of God, if God has a
will, can change or modify. Magee[20] has a valuable note on the subject
of the "Consistency of Prayer with the Divine Immutability," in which he
puts this truth in a mathematical form. He says, "The relation of God to
man + prayer is different from the relation of God to man - prayer. Yet
God remains constant. It is man who is the better or the worse for
prayer or no prayer."

     [20] On the Atonement.

It is pleasant to reflect that with the simple-minded Christian the
belief in Christ, because he knows that Christ loved him and died for
him, is exceedingly little moved by these so-called scientific doubts.
The propounders of these entangling questions move in a region where he
would feel cold and his life would be crushed out of him, and he
declines to follow science at so great a cost, believing besides that
science might often be better termed nescience, for he has no faith in
such science. Instead of being presented with clear deductions, drawn
from observation and experience, he sees but too plainly that, as each
philosopher frames his own belief out of his inner consciousness, there
cannot fail to come out a very large variety of beliefs, and that, if
the religion of the Bible were exploded and became an obsolete thing,
its place would be usurped by a motley crowd of infinitely varied creeds
of every shape and hue, each claiming for itself, with more or less
modesty and reserve, but with just equal rights, the supremacy over
men's consciences. And in the meanwhile, women and children and the
poor, and in fact all who are not altogether highly, transcendentally
intellectual, must, for want of the requisite faculties and
opportunities, do without any religion at all. I suppose most people can
see this, and therefore will pay a very limited attention to the claims
and pretensions of science-worship.

I come to a sentence where once more the proclivity for satire breaks
out for a minute: "But in modern days the first aim of all Christians is
to place their children in circumstances where the temptations (which
they are apt to call opportunities) may be as great and as many as
possible; where the sight and promise of 'all these things' in Satan's
gift may be brilliantly near." I was reading this from the MS. to a
mother, accomplished and amiable, who of course thought in a moment of
her own little flock of sons and daughters, all the objects of the
tenderest care and solicitude; and she felt that she at least had not
deserved this stroke. But the truth is that we must read this sentence
as we read our Lord's, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth:
I came not to send peace, but a sword" (Matt. x. 34). The sword was not
the object of our Lord's coming, but the unhappy result through sin. He
came to bring peace on earth, yet was He "set for the fall of many in
Israel." The wisest and best of parents place their sons in the
profession or position in life where temptations abound, not because
they desire to see them bow before Satan, and become the possessors of
"all these things" which he promises "I will give thee," but because
there is no position in the active life of the world that is free from
temptations; and those temptations are the strongest and most numerous
often just where the real and undoubted advantages are the greatest and
most numerous. Mr. Ruskin, with a strong and legitimate figure of
speech, is simply putting an inevitable result as the work of apparent

If the distinction between the glory and the power of the kingdom of God
and the false lustre of earthly power and worldly allurements is not
sufficiently dwelt upon in our pulpits, none will regret it more than
the earnest preachers in whom the modern Church of England abounds. If
it be granted, as I think it must be granted, that the highest wisdom is
not always exercised in the choice and preparation of our subjects of
preaching, every true-hearted and loyal Churchman must be grateful for
the fearless candour of the writer of the letters we have been
considering, in pointing out to us our prevailing deficiencies, even if
he does not, which is not his province, point out how to attain

                                                      F. A. MALLESON.


                       (FROM THE FIRST EDITION)

The following letters have been entrusted to me for publication in this
work. The writers of twenty-two of them are clergymen, of whom sixteen
are members of three Clerical Societies, all of whom have read their
letters before the Societies to which they belong, except in the case of
one Society, where it was impracticable. The remaining six have been
kind enough to write in acceptance of the invitation in the
_Contemporary Review_ for December, 1879. The remaining letters are from
members of the laity, attracted by the same proposal. Many others have
been received; but it would not have been possible to include them all
in a volume of moderate size, some of them besides being of great
length; and I was therefore, with regret, obliged to decline them.

It was not originally intended that the invitation to discuss these
questions should be extended to laymen. But several so understood it
from the preface in the _Contemporary_, and when I came to examine the
letters sent on this understanding, I felt a conviction that a true and
safe light would be thrown upon the subject by their assistance; and,
using the discretionary power allowed me by Mr. Ruskin, I thought it, on
the whole, best to give admission to a certain number of communications
from laymen.

Besides, as they themselves are, in great measure, the subjects of the
discussion, and, therefore, must feel a lively interest in it, it seems
but fair that they too should have a voice in the matter. Another reason
yet had considerable weight with me, that their letters evince a larger
and more liberal sympathy with Mr. Ruskin himself than those of some of
my clerical brethren, in whose letters there is but too perceptible a
degree of irascibility, not unnatural to us, perhaps, in finding
ourselves rather sharply lectured by a layman--the shepherds by the
sheep. And I hoped that a more fraternal spirit would be promoted by my
free acceptance of their ready offer.

The same consenting spirit is all but universal in the notices of the
press upon Mr. Ruskin's letters. But I do not wish to anticipate the
judgment of "the Church and the world" upon the whole series of letters
here presented. Notwithstanding the peculiar and sometimes rather
bewildering effect of a variety of "cross lights," they appear to myself
to be invested with singular interest as a faithful reflection of the
opinions of the clergy and the laity upon some of the most stirring
religious questions of the day.

Moreover, it will, I am sure, please readers who have endeavoured in
vain to extract some meaning out of many of the sometimes tedious and
unintelligible essayists of the day, to observe that the discussion in
this volume at least is carried on in language perfectly clear and
within the reach of ordinary understandings. At any rate, I hope it will
not be said of any of the writers who have together made up this little
volume: "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without

Before the sheets are sent to press they will be perused by Mr. Ruskin,
who will then use his privilege of replying, thus bringing the volume to
a conclusion.

I could not undertake to classify these letters; and have, therefore, as
the simplest mode, arranged them in the alphabetical order of the
writers' names.

                                                      F. A. MALLESON.

    _From the Rev._ CHARLES BIGG, D.D., _Rector of Fenny Compton_.

Mr. Ruskin compares the clergyman with an Alpine guide, whose business
it is simply to carry the traveller in safety over rocks and glaciers to
the mountain top. He is not to trouble himself or his charge with
needless refinements of doctrine. He is not to exaggerate the dignity of
his office, or to give himself out as anything but a guide. In
particular, he is not to assume anything of a mediatorial character. He
is to preach the Gospel--not of Luther nor of Augustine, but of Christ;
in plain words and short terms. He is to proclaim aloud, boldly and
constantly, "This is the will of the Lord,"--to apply, that is, the
morality of the Gospel, stringently and authoritatively, to the lives of
his people. To effect this application with more power, he is to
exercise a rigid discipline, and exclude from his congregation all who
are not acting up to what he conceives to be the Gospel ideal. He is not
to hamper himself with any set and formal Liturgy, which can never be
copious or flexible enough to meet the varied needs of a number of men
differing widely in knowledge and attainment.

Every one will feel what a crowd of perplexities start up here at every
sentence. In what sense is a clergyman like a Chamouni guide? There is a
resemblance, no doubt, but not of a kind on which it would be possible
to build any argument. It is not the business of the Alpine guide to
exercise any supervision over the morals of his employers, or to ask how
they earned the money with which he is paid. Again, what is meant by
the Gospel of Christ not according to anybody? It is easy to reject the
authority of St. Paul or St. John, or of Luther or Augustine, but there
is one commentator whose influence cannot be shaken off, and that is
ourselves. And our experience of those who have professed to preach the
Gospel pure and simple is not reassuring. Does Mr. Ruskin mean that we
are to burn all our theology,--even apparently the Epistles of St.
Paul,--and to forget all Church history since the day of the
Crucifixion? Does he mean that we are each to set up a theology--a
Church of his own? It would be but a poor gain to most of us to exchange
the great lamps of famous doctors for the uncertain rushlights of our
own imaginations.

Then again, what is this new and more than Genevan discipline that the
clergyman is to enforce? He is to take more pains to get wicked rich men
to stay out of the church than to persuade wicked poor ones to enter it.
After putting his own interpretation upon the Gospel, he is to lay under
an interdict all whom his own fire-new formula--for a formula he must
still have--excludes. He is to force, by the method of Procrustes, the
visible Church into co-extension with the invisible. No community of
Christians has ever attempted such a task. Any zealous (surely
over-zealous) parish priest who should so narrow the limits of his fold,
who should exclude the "usurer" from the ordinary means of grace, for
fear lest he should take God's name in vain by joining in the public
prayers, would expose himself, may we not think? to the reproach of
being less merciful than He who sends rain on the just and the unjust.
Nor, as he looked round upon his carefully-selected congregation, could
he easily flatter himself that he was preaching the Gospel "to every

Again, what is the will of the Lord, and what does Mr. Ruskin mean by
proclaiming it? That He loves righteousness and hates iniquity we know.
The difficulty is in applying this general rule in detail. What is its
bearing upon the policy of the Government, upon any particular trade
strike, upon the tangled web of good and evil motives which makes up the
moral consciousness of an average shopkeeper? I conceive Mr. Ruskin to
be thinking of preachers like Bernard, Savonarola, or Latimer, of
denunciations like those of Isaiah, or of our Lord. He seems to mean
that the clergyman should stand on a clear mountain summit, looking down
over the whole field of life, discerning with the eye of a prophet every
movement of evil on a small scale or on a large. There have been such
teachers in whose hands science, economy, politics, seemed all to become
branches of theology, members of one great body of Divine truth. But not
every man's lips are thus touched with the coal from the altar. Many an
excellent and most useful preacher would make but wild work if he took
to denouncing social movements or the spirit of the age. A singular
illustration of the danger that besets these sweeping moral judgments is
to be found in Mr. Ruskin's own denunciation of usury, that is, of
taking interest for money. Few people will agree either with the
particular opinion that every old lady who lives harmlessly on her
railway dividends ought to be excommunicated, or with the general
principle implied in this opinion, that every prohibition in the Old
Testament is still as valid as ever under social circumstances
altogether different.

People who need denouncing do not, as a rule, come to church to be
denounced. And it would be a great error to conclude, from our Lord's
language to the Pharisees and Sadducees, that the tone in which He
addressed the individual sinner was harsh or scathing. The preacher must
remember that he is a physician of souls, and the physician's touch is
gentle. Think for a moment what worldliness is--how easy it is to say
bitter things about it!--and then picture to yourselves a little
tradesman with a wife and seven or eight children to keep on his scanty
profits. What wonder if he sets too high a value on money? How difficult
for him to understand the words which bid him take no thought for the

There is a time, no doubt, for fierce language, but it does not often
come. The preacher is no more exempt than other people from the golden
rule to put himself in his neighbour's place, and try to see things with
his neighbour's eyes.

Another difficulty arises out of the manner in which Mr. Ruskin speaks
of the relation of his Chamouni guides to dogmatic teaching. They ought
not, he says, to be compelled to hold opinions on the subject, say, of
the height of the Celestial Mountains, the crevasses which go down
quickest to the pit, and other cognate points of science, differing
from, or even contrary to, the tenets of the guides of the Church of

It is difficult in the extreme to know exactly what is here meant. No
doubt it is needless for a guide to drop a plumb-line down every
crevasse that he has to cross. It would be great waste of time to
lecture his travellers on the laws that regulate the motion of glaciers
or the dip of the mountain strata. But what are the doctrines that stand
in this relation, or this no-relation, to the spiritual life? Is it
meant that all theology should be swept away like a dusty old cobweb?

I would go myself as far as this, that the fewer and simpler the
doctrines that a clergyman preaches, the better; that all doctrines
should be required to pass the test of reason and conscience, which are
also in their degrees Divine revelations, so far, at least, as this,
that no doctrine can be admitted which is demonstrably repugnant to
either one or the other. And in the third place, the greatest care
should be taken to discriminate matters of faith, real axioms of
religion, from pious opinions or venerable practices which have no vital
connection with the Christian faith; which, to use Burke's phrase, all
understandings do not ratify, and all hearts do not approve. A grave
responsibility rests upon those who neglect this discrimination. It is
also a point of the highest importance that when most doctrinal a
clergyman should be least dogmatic; that he should remember that all
doctrine, by the necessity of the case, is cast into an antithetical,
more or less paradoxical shape; that he should never lose sight of the
harmony and balance between intersecting truths, or of that unfortunate
tendency of the human mind to seize upon and appropriate points of
difference in their crudest and most antagonistic form, to the exclusion
of points of agreement; that he should always do his best to show the
reasonableness of the Christian teaching, its analogy and harmony with
all the works of God; that where his knowledge fails, he should frankly
confess that it does fail, and not try to eke it out by guesses, or to
disguise its insufficiency by rhetoric.

But after all these allowances it remains a fact that the clergyman is
not a guide only, but a teacher, an ambassador. He is to teach his
people all that he knows about God and His relation to the soul of man.
He is to study and meditate himself, and to set forth the conclusion he
has reached fully and fearlessly. And if he discharges this duty
reasonably and zealously, he need not be afraid of finding that there is
a gulf fixed between doctrine and practice. These two must go together.
There can be no conduct deserving the name without a philosophy of
conduct, and that philosophy is a sound divinity. Even the loftiest and
most abstruse doctrines must have an influence upon life. It is a common
remark that scientific truth should be pursued for its own sake, and
that the most valuable practical results have often followed from
investigations carried out with a single eye to the truth. It is an
equally common remark that those teach the simplest things best whose
range of knowledge and belief is widest. We might point to Mr. Ruskin
himself as a striking illustration of this. What is simpler than beauty?
what more universally apprehended? what at first sight more incapable of
analysis? Yet as we listen to the great critic, what wonderful laws does
he point out--what a wealth of knowledge does he bring to bear--how
clear he makes it to us that the power of feeling (still more the power
of creating) beauty is the hard-won fruit of labour, study, and
devotion. So it is with life: those who would create a beautiful life
must know the laws of spiritual beauty,--and those laws are theology.

But criticism is a thankless task. It is a more gracious and, towards a
great man, a more respectful office to note those points on which our
debt to Mr. Ruskin is acknowledged, and our sympathy with him unalloyed.
These letters are, in spirit at any rate, not unworthy of the man who
has exercised a deeper and wider influence upon the morality of our time
than any other, except perhaps Thomas Carlyle. And the great lesson of
each of these eloquent teachers is the duty of Reality. There are many
points in which we do not agree with them: let us be all the readier to
acknowledge the debt that we owe. Both laymen,--like Amos, neither
prophets nor sons of prophets,--they have done a work which, perhaps,
under the altered circumstances of society, no professional preacher
could have achieved. Any one who considers the earnestness and reverence
of modern intellectual literature; the anxious desire even of the
Agnostic to lay the foundations of his moral life as deep as possible;
the manifold efforts, while denying all religion, yet to maintain the
union of imagination and reason, without which there can be no loftiness
of character, no nobility of aspiration, yet which nothing but religion
can consecrate and fructify,--and compares all this with the sneering,
self-satisfied flippancy of Gibbon and Voltaire, will feel how vast is
the change for the better; and these two writers have been the chief
instruments in bringing that change about.

Let me notice briefly two points on which Mr. Ruskin insists in these
letters with great force and beauty. The first is the love of the
Father. No text is more familiar than that which tells us that "God is
love." It is not indeed inconsistent with that other text which tells
us that He is "a consuming fire." But if its meaning is fully imbibed
and allowed to bear its natural fruit, it must result in the abandonment
of those forensic views of our blessed Lord's atonement, which all the
subtlety of Canon Mozley cannot bring into harmony with the dictates of
our consciences. If the Father is love, there can be no division, no
antithesis between the Father and the Son. If He is love, then the idea
of sacrifice, which is of the essence of love, must enter into our
conception of the Father also. I say no more about this, because any one
who chooses to do so may find the Fatherhood of God, and all that it
implies, treated of with great fulness and a marvellous depth of
spiritual insight in the letters of Erskine of Linlathen.

It can hardly be doubted that the kind of language which Protestants of
a certain class have been, and still are, in the habit of using, about
the "Scheme of Redemption," constitutes a most serious stumbling-block
in the way of many an earnest spirit. There are few preachers probably,
and few congregations now,--in the Establishment at any rate,--who
would not revolt against the hideous calmness with which Jonathan
Edwards contemplates the "little spiders" dropping off into the flames.
But a great deal of mischief remains to be undone. Those who are
acquainted with the biographies of Shelley, of James and of John Stuart
Mill, know well what effect the fierce doctrines of Calvinism have
produced upon minds which for the issues of morality and, surely, even
of religion, were "finely touched." And who can tell what horror and
indignation have been wrought in some minds, what agonies of despair in
others, who, when at last the blessed work of repentance began to stir
within them, and they turned their eyes for comfort to the cross, were
met by the terrible warning that none but the select few can call God
their Father, and that in all probability their own eternal tortures
were decreed before ever they entered the world?

The other point to which I must briefly advert is Mr. Ruskin's protest
against the use of words which imply--which leave the least possibility
of hoping for--a mechanical absolution, a pardon of sins that have not
been abandoned. I do not indeed think that the reproach of using such
language falls upon those who are fond of the title of priests alone,
for the doctrines of Calvinism are far more liable to abuse. Nor do I
think that any preaching of our clergy on this subject can be said to
have "turned our cities into loathsome centres of fornication and
covetousness." But here, if anywhere, we ought never to forget the
danger of even seeming to set Theology against Reason and Conscience, of
allowing the least pretext for thinking that a mere intellectual assent
to abstract truths on the one hand, a mere acceptance of ecclesiastical
ordinances on the other, can wipe away sins; or that a heart unpurified
by charity and obedience, could be at rest even in the kingdom of

     _From the Rev._ CANON COOPER, _Vicar of Grange-over-Sands_.

Thank God, all good men are broader and better than their creed,--better
and broader, I mean, than those parts of their creed which they insist
upon most, because they distinguish them from other people. (These
distinguishing points are always of the least importance, in my
opinion.) And with my experience of sermons for nearly forty years (for
I was very early "called upon to hear sermons"), I am not conscious of
such universal omissions on the part of the "priests" of the Church of
England as Mr. Ruskin affirms. The universality of the _love_ of God the
_Father_, embracing even the "_wicked rich_" as well as the "wicked
poor," is largely dwelt upon by all "schools."

The kingdom of God _in this present sinful world_ is preached and is
laboured for. In the present, however, it is more correctly described as
the _kingdom of Christ_. When "the end comes," "He shall deliver up the
kingdom to God, _even the Father_" (1 Cor. xv. 24, and _seqq._) As for
denouncing the sins of the rich, this is largely done, and especially by
"lively young ecclesiastics" in great towns. And as to preaching
forgiveness without amendment, no man of common sense can do that; but
Mr. Ruskin may say that common sense is rare among the clergy; and some
may be afraid to preach morality, because of an old-fashioned
superstition that _morality_ is opposed to the _Gospel_. However, I do
not hear much of such preaching. As for the duty of every man to do
something of the work of the world for his daily bread, that is largely
taught; and I believe that the kingdom of God is coming in that respect.
A great deal of the drudgery of the world is done by big men now. Also I
think that the sinfulness of _omission_ is much insisted on by the
clergy, as it is abundantly noticed in the Prayer Book, in accordance
with the clear teaching of Christ. And the same may be said upon the
_personal guilt_ of sin. A good clergyman never allows his people to
shelter themselves _in a crowd_.

I do not feel the force of the taunt about our saying every week, "There
is no health in us," because the most "healthy" Christian finds out
always fresh failings as his conscience grows more healthy (not morbidly
sensitive), and he is always ready to join in the general confession to
his dying day.

There is some value in the remark about Christian parents putting their
children into situations where they will be tempted to worship the
devil in order to win the kingdom of the world; but here, as elsewhere,
the exaggeration, for the sake of being forcible, is too marked.

                  _From the Rev._ HENRY M. FLETCHER.

"Yes," I should say, "it is possible to put the Gospel of Christ into
such plain words and short terms as that a plain man may understand it,
and plain men do understand it. And it is not left to be gathered out of
(any of) the Thirty-nine Articles, which are meant not for simple but
for clerkly people."

You seem to have felt it startling that Mr. Ruskin should ask for a
simple and comprehensible statement of the Christian Gospel--at least
Mr. Ruskin represents the case so. What Christ's ministers are bidden to
go into all the world and preach is--the good news that God has
reconciled the world unto Himself in Jesus Christ His Son; and that
whosoever will accept this Jesus as His Lord and Saviour shall have
eternal life through Him. You could not, I think, arrive at a
definition of what the Gospel of Christ is by explaining the terms of
the Lord's Prayer.

You must tell first about _Jesus_, our Lord, and what He has done,
before child or man can have any proper notion of "the Gospel." The
Gospel is a message from "Our Father which is in Heaven," of His love,
and of what His love--the love of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost--has
devised and executed for the redemption and glorification (through
sanctification) of His rebellious children.

There can be small objection taken to Mr. Ruskin's proposal to make the
Lord's Prayer "a foundation of Gospel teaching, as containing what all
Christians are agreed upon as first to be taught," if the "Gospel
teaching" is understood to be "teaching the truth to _Christians_." But
"the Gospel teaching or preaching," which is spoken of by Mr. Ruskin, is
"Gospel preaching" to the world not yet Christian, either Jewish or
heathen; and the Lord's Prayer cannot properly be taken as a foundation
of Gospel teaching to it. It must be told first of Jesus and His work,
and must have owned Him "Lord," before it can rightly be taught from
_His_ prayer. This prayer can have no _authority_ but to those who have
become His disciples. Those who are already His disciples learn
naturally from Him their relation and their duty to His Father and their
Father. St. Paul, in preaching to the Athenians, dwells not on the
Fatherhood _of God_, but on the need of repentance as a preparation for
the judgment which awaits all. "Jesus and the Resurrection" was what
they heard of first from this model preacher.

                   _From the Rev._ A. T. DAVIDSON.

MY DEAR SIR,--Permit me to say one thing with regard to the
correspondence which has passed between Mr. Ruskin and yourself.

Profitable as it is to listen to Mr. Ruskin, the student of Mr.
Maurice's writings will merely find in these remarkable letters an
additional plea on behalf of those truths for which Mr. Maurice so
bravely and so passionately contended. It is most refreshing to find two
such teachers in accord; and probably there will be many who will learn
from Mr. Ruskin what they never would have learnt, or even sought for,
from Mr. Maurice. It is, of course, for the truth, and not for his
individual statement of it, that Mr. Ruskin, even as Mr. Maurice did,
contends. It will, I am sure, be a matter of small moment to him so long
as the truth be sought for, whether it be arrived at by means of these
letters, or by means of Mr. Maurice's books on "The Lord's Prayer," "The
Prayer Book," and "The Commandments."

Believe me, my dear Sir, to be yours faithfully.

                  _From the Rev._ EDWARD GEOGHEGAN.

                                          BARDSEA VICARAGE, ULVERSTON.

"Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a
friend. Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness: and let him
reprove me, it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my

It is in the spirit which is expressed in these words that I desire to
offer the following notes on Mr. Ruskin's Letters. Among the charges
which he brings against the clergy are the following:--

That we have no clear idea of our calling, or of the Gospel of Christ
(Letters III. and IV.)

That we profane the name of God in the pulpit (Letter VI.)

That we teach that every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the
Lord, and He delighteth in them (Letter VIII.)

That we hold our office to be that, not of showing men how to do their
Father's will on earth, but how to get to heaven without doing any of it
either here or there (Letter VIII.)

That we neither profess to understand what the will of the Lord is, nor
to teach anybody else to do it (Letter VIII.)

That we pretend to absolve the sinner from his punishment, instead of
purging him from his sin (Letter VIII.)

That we patronize and encourage all the iniquity of the world by
steadily preaching away the penalties of it (Letter VIII.)

That we gather, each into himself, the curious dual power and
Janus-faced majesty in mischief of the prophet that prophesies falsely,
and the priest that bears rule by his means (Letter VIII.)

That we do not exercise discipline by keeping wicked people out of
church (Letter VI.)

That we do not require each member of our flocks to tell us what they do
to earn their dinners (Letter IX.)

That we encourage people in hypocrisy, by inviting them to the
authorized mockery of a confession of sin (Letter X.)

I cannot examine the evidence which Mr. Ruskin possesses in support of
these charges, as he has not produced it in these Letters. Neither can I
attempt to refute the accusations. To prove a negative is always
difficult; it becomes an impossible task when the indictment is laid not
against any individuals mentioned by name, but against a whole order. I
will only observe, that even if all these charges be true, the people of
England are not in such evil case as Mr. Ruskin fancies. The laity of
England possess the inestimable advantage of not being dependent on the
sermons of their clergy for either doctrine, or correction, or
instruction in righteousness. Even though a clergyman should never
utter certain doctrines of Christ from the pulpit, or reprove certain
sins, he is obliged to do so at the font, at the lectern, and at the
altar. Although from the pulpits of the fifty hundreds of clergy whom
Mr. Ruskin heard, he never heard so much as _one_ clergyman heartily
proclaiming that no covetous person, which is an idolater, hath any
inheritance in the kingdom of God, he must have often heard this
proclamation from the altar, in the epistle for the third Sunday in
Lent, and from the lectern whenever the fifth chapter of the Epistle to
the Ephesians is read for the lesson.

Again, if any clergyman teaches from the pulpit that for the redemption
of the world people ought to be thankful, not to the Father, but to the
Son (Letter V.), he is obliged to publicly contradict his own teaching
as often as he says the General Thanksgiving, and the collects in the
Book of Common Prayer.

Again, if any clergyman teaches from the pulpit that any one who does
evil is good in the sight of the Lord, or that there is any other
salvation except a salvation from sin, he is obliged to publicly
contradict that teaching by everything which he says in the church out
of the pulpit.

Again, if any clergyman preaches away the penalties of sin (Letter
VIII.), he is obliged to publicly contradict his preaching every Ash
Wednesday, when he reads the general sentences of God's cursing against
impenitent sinners.

Mr. Ruskin asks (Letter III.), "Can this Gospel of Christ be put into
such plain words and short terms as that a plain man may understand it?"
I answer that the English Church has tried to do this in the Catechism,
in which every baptized child is taught in very simple and plain words
the gospel, or good news, that God the Father has, in His Son Jesus
Christ, adopted him or her into His family, and therein offers him or
her the continual help of the Holy Ghost.

Mr. Ruskin complains that the clergy do not teach the people the meaning
of the Lord's Prayer (Letter VI.) He must assume that the clergy neglect
to teach children the Church Catechism, in which is an answer to the
question, "What desirest thou of God in this prayer?" It is an answer
which would probably satisfy Mr. Ruskin. He would see that "Hallowed be
Thy name" does not merely mean that people ought to abstain from bad
language. And in the explanation of the third commandment, he would see
that something more is forbidden than letting out a round oath (Letter

Mr. Ruskin complains that the clergy do not prevent the entrance among
their congregations of persons leading openly wicked lives (Letter VI.)
Before this can be charged on the clergy as a sin, he should show that
they have power and authority to do this. In the service for Ash
Wednesday he will find that the clergy express their desire for a
restoration of the godly discipline of the primitive Church, which Mr.
Ruskin also desires. But he ought to know that such restoration must be
the work not of the clergy only, but of the whole body of the faithful.

Mr. Ruskin insinuates that the clergy have no clear idea of their
calling (Letter III.) If this be so, it is certainly not the fault of
the Church, seeing that the nature of the calling of a clergyman is
plainly set forth in the Offices for the Ordering of Bishops, Priests,
and Deacons. But if one may form an opinion from many published sermons
by English clergymen of various schools of thought, and from their
speeches in Church Congresses and elsewhere, and from their pastoral
work as parish priests, I should be inclined to think that they are not
quite so ignorant of the nature of their calling and of the Gospel of
Christ as Mr. Ruskin supposes them to be, and that of some of the sins,
negligences, and ignorances which, in these Letters, he lays to their
charge, they may plead not guilty, or at least not proven by Mr. Ruskin.

                                                  BARDSEA, ULVERSTON,
                                                 _November 3rd, 1879_.

DEAR MR. MALLESON,--I thank you for your letter, which I received this
morning. Second thoughts are not always the best. Your own first thought
about the motto which I prefixed to my notes was right; your second
thought was wrong. It never occurred to me that anyone could possibly
suppose that that motto was by me intended to be applied to myself,
inasmuch as in these notes there is no "wound" inflicted on Mr. Ruskin,
or even any "rebuke." On the contrary, I assume that he has evidence in
support of his charges, although he has not produced it. The "rebuke" to
which I alluded was _Mr. Ruskin's_ rebuke. _He_ is the "friend" whose
wounds are faithful, and whose smitings are a kindness. For I have not
the least doubt of his good-will towards the clergy, or of his earnest
desire to see them all performing their sacred duties with zeal and
knowledge. And it was as my acknowledgment of this that I prefixed the
motto. With you I firmly believe that the standard which he takes is
"lofty and Christian," and that it is one towards which we ought all of
us to aim. The object of my notes was to show that the laity of England
have, in the authorized teaching of the Church, a sufficient safeguard
against any erroneous teaching which they may possibly hear from the
pulpit or in the private ministrations of the clergy, and also a
supplement to any defective teaching.

                                      Very truly yours,
                                                EDWARD GEOGHEGAN.

                     _From_ JOSEPH GILBURT, Esq.

                                                 _Christmas Day_, 1879.

The words "Thy will be done" are generally coupled with resignation, and
very often with patience under chastisement. It is always to us a
sad-coloured sentence, and a sentimental illuminator of the Lord's
Prayer would in all probability make it so. Now, if we think for a
moment what the state of things would be if the will of the Lord were
done, we shall see it should be the brightest sentence we could
conceive. God's will is our weal. Aspiration, not resignation, is the
characteristic of its doing. There would certainly be no death,--that is
decidedly contrary to His will; and by-and-by, when His will is done,
there will be none. For the present, while His will is not yet done, we
have the sure and certain hope that death will be--nay, is--conquered by

If His will were done, all beautiful things would flourish, and all
minds would answeringly rejoice in them.

Our men of the piercing eye--Turners, Hunts, Ruskins, etc.--show us,
till we almost worship the state of things in cloud and mountain, river
and sea, in hedgerow and wayside, even in cathedral and campanile, where
God's will is done, and we are enchanted with their beauty. It is God's
will that stones should be laid truly and carven well, and aptly
described. And our men of the probe and the lens, the scientific openers
of nature's secrets, are daily demonstrating new beauties in which the
will of the Lord is done in the formation of bodies and working of
forces. It is mere truism to add to this that the will of the Lord being
done, none of the ills that are all of them indirectly or directly the
result of not doing it could occur, and resignation would have no scope
for exercise. There was One who always did it, and He for three years
made sundry parts of Palestine a heaven,--with what results a many
quondam poor folk testified. This leads me to say that I like to look
upon the word heaven as a participle instead of a noun, as the state of
being heaved or raised, rather than a place: and for this reason. The
experience of every one of us suffices to prove that we are never so
_heaven_, or raised in true happiness, moral dignity, and worth, as
when we are in the company of one greater, wiser, or better than
ourselves. Those who lead a humdrum life among mean persons, can testify
what a heaven it is to be transplanted for ever so short a time to the
company of a great and good man. Now the culminating, indeed
all-absorbing, attraction of the heaven we all look to, is the presence
and the companionship of the greatest and best; and the experience of
ourselves tallies with the promise of St. John that it will have the
effect of making us "like Him," when "we shall see Him as He is." Surely
being _heaven_, or raised like that, is superior to any Mahomet's
paradise that we can invent or distil out of the poetical parts of the

                    _From the Rev._ ARCHER GURNEY.

Mr. Ruskin's view as to the duty of basing all upon the Father's love is
essentially sound and orthodox; and he is also right in bidding all men
lead self-denying lives,--in this sense, that they should give up time
and labour to the endeavour to help their brethren; but he fails
utterly, hopelessly, to realize the Incarnation and its glorious
consequences, how all human life and love,--how art, science, knowledge,
enjoyment, are sanctified by God's becoming man; sharing this human life
of ours,--not to trample upon it as an unholy thing, but to consecrate
it to God's service. Such is our call. We must enjoy the beautiful to
vindicate enjoyment. We do not please God by casting all His choicest
gifts away. To give all we have to feed the poor is the way to make men
poor, and is false charity. Use rather the mammon of this world to God's
honour and glory, and when ye fail, the good works that you have done
shall plead for your entrance into everlasting habitations; for the way
to clothe the naked and feed the hungry, permanently, is to teach men
and women to help themselves, and to find employment and reward for the
exercise of their powers and energies.

             _From the Rev._ J. H. A. GIBSON, _Brighton_.

To Mr. Ruskin, then, asking us to define ourselves as a body, I reply,
We are presbyters and deacons, deriving our authority from the
episcopate, who themselves form links in that spiritual chain which
binds both ourselves and them, by perpetual succession, in one communion
and fellowship, with the Apostles, and to whom has been committed the
office of consecrating and sending forth labourers to work in the Lord's

But Mr. Ruskin proceeds, "And our business as such." Our business as
such! Well, if we have in any satisfactory manner proved our first
point--_that_ is, the authority with which we act--we may fairly say to
Mr. Ruskin, "Do you put this question, 'What is your business?' to your
lawyer or doctor?" Does he ask the same question of the clergy of any
other portion of the Catholic Church? We shall not wish to insult Mr.
Ruskin by attempting to explain to him the duties of the priesthood,
with which, doubtless, he is well acquainted.

But he asks, "Do we look upon ourselves as attached to any particular
State, and bound to the promulgation of any particular tenets?" We are
undoubtedly attached to the particular sphere to the which we are sent
by those whose office is to provide the various parts of God's vineyard
with labourers. The Anglican Church is the legitimate representative of
the Catholic Church of Christ in England; and we, as clergy of this
Church, minister for the most part to our countrymen at home, and only
in other countries as the necessities of our colonists and others may
require. And, as subscribers to the Prayer Book and priests of the
Church of England, we are certainly bound to teach faithfully and
honestly her doctrines, neither adding to them nor taking away from them
according to our own individual idiosyncrasies.

                     _From the Rev._ CANON GRAY.

                                     WOLSINGHAM, _October 13th, 1879_.

MY DEAR PENRHYN,--Will you please to thank Mr. Malleson on my behalf for
the Letters on the Lord's Prayer? I have ever admired Ruskin, and learn
much even when I most differ from him. But if I had the good fortune to
be with you to-morrow, I fear that I should constantly be demurring to
his teaching,--_e.g._ (Letter III.) his supposition that the Thirty-nine
Articles were meant to include a summary of the Gospel; (Letter V.) his
belief that there is need now to warn men against being thankful not to
the Father but only to the Son,--a remnant of the teaching of his youth;
(p. 20) his hard way of speaking as to the Son of Man, Whose human soul,
as that of perfect man, received its knowledge in steps according to His
own will as perfect God; (Letter VII.) his confused distinction between
the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Christ (see Eph. v. 5 in the
Greek, and remember "_tradendo tenet_" on 1 Cor. xv. 24); his belief
that because no one knoweth the hour of Christ's coming, it cannot be
hastened by prayer; (Letter VIII.) his seeming identification of
claiming interest from a poor man who is in need and necessity, and from
a railway company who borrow money to make more,--speaking, as far as I
can see, of money as if it had no market value like other things;
(Letter X.) the belief that we clergy are not awake to the guilt of sins
of omission; (Letter X.) the inability to see that the nearer and nearer
by God's grace we come, in answer to prayer, to purity and holiness, the
more we _realize_ our distance from them; and that his objection to our
Liturgy might be adapted into one against the Lord's Prayer, in which we
pray daily for forgiveness of sins, and deliverance from evil, showing
that we never shall be so delivered as no longer to need forgiveness;
(Letter XI.) the supposition that any one state of life is necessarily
more full of temptations than another, as though the fruit of a tree
were not to Eve what the glory of the world was to the Son of Man, at
least in the eye of the Tempter.

I am ashamed to jot down thus obscurely the points on which I should
have liked to speak, and I know that our brethren can fully deal with
them. On the other hand (Letter VIII.) there is much to move us, and
lead to searchings of heart. As to the timidity and coldness with which
the Church is attacking the crying sins of our day, one often feels how
we need some among us to speak as the prophets did to the men of their
generation, and we may be thankful to have our shortcomings brought home
to us by words like Ruskin's.

I wish I were not writing so hurriedly.

Remember me most affectionately to all my old and true friends who are
with you to-morrow.

[NOTE.--_March 12th, 1880_:--

Mr. Malleson has kindly brought this letter of mine again before me.
Hasty and concise as it was, I have no wish to expand it, as Mr.
Ruskin's Letters are now _publici juris_, and in the hands of many a
critic, who will rejoice to deal with them according to his wisdom. I
should be thankful, however, for leave to add a few words on one point.
I cannot help having misgivings as to whether I was right in demurring
without hesitation to "the supposition that one state of life is
necessarily more free from temptations than another," for I well know
that in favour of such a supposition there is a strong _consensus_ of
just men. I am, however, one of those who believe that the shorter
Beatitude, "Blessed be ye poor," (Luke vi. 20) is explained by the
longer, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." I see, also, that the
difficulty with which "they that have riches" enter the kingdom of God
is reasserted with a qualification in the very next verse, which speaks
of those "who trust in riches" (St. Mark x. 23, 24). "Who then can be
saved?" asked the disciples, who, poor men indeed themselves, first
heard of this difficulty, instinctively perceiving, it may be, that it
has its root in temptations from which in one shape or other no one is
free. I read that "the cares of this world," as well as "the
deceitfulness of riches," choke the Word; and I am sure that into the
number of those "who will be rich," or "who are wishing to be rich," and
so "fall into temptation," a poor man may but too easily find his way. I
like to remember that when "the beggar died," he was carried into the
bosom of one who had been "very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold;"
and I think that very deep and far-stretching may be the meaning of the
words of the wise man, "The rich and poor meet together, and the Lord is
the Maker of them all."]

  _From the Rev._ H. N. GRIMLEY, _Norton Rectory, Bury St. Edmunds_.

Mr. Ruskin's Letters have already been closely scrutinized. What have
seemed to be blemishes in them have been commented on. They have been
spoken of as somewhat random utterances--as utterances such as are
pardonable in a layman, but would be inexcusable in a clergyman who
should endeavour to instruct his brethren. It has been said of them that
they manifest a want of knowledge of teaching constantly being given
from Church of England pulpits. It would be quite possible for the
present paper to be devoted to a continuation of the like free criticism
of the Letters. I might ask, for instance, whether Mr. Ruskin, after (in
Letter V.) speaking with condemnation of a plan of salvation which sets
forth the Divine Son as appeasing the wrath of the Father in heaven,
does not himself give expression to words, as to the love of the Father,
which almost imply that in his estimation the Divine mind is not in
unity in itself? I might further ask for Mr. Ruskin to put more
definiteness into his remarks on usury, and to particularize the
special forms of that condemnable practice which the clergy should
boldly denounce. The few hints which he throws out on this subject show
that to his own thoughts there is present an exalted socialism. He
himself in previous writings, while shadowing forth a social system
based on unselfishness, has carefully deprecated any revolutionary
attempt to hasten the establishment of such a system, and would prefer
that it should be waited for while it quietly and with orderliness
evolves itself out of the present imperfect order of things. Is it not
so evolving itself? Does not the co-operative movement, now steadily
advancing, spring out of the recognition of the fact that mutual welfare
is a far more excellent thing to be attained than the enrichment of the
few at the expense of the many? And if, with regard to the land
question, any readjustment of relations is made, will it not be made in
the light of the same beneficent principle? If, however, the clergy were
to give heed to Mr. Ruskin's words, and at once proceed to the
indiscriminate excommunication of usurers, would they not be initiating
a social revolution, altogether different from that orderly upgrowth of
a better state of things which has commended itself aforetime to Mr.
Ruskin himself? My own impression is that I shall be giving voice to a
wish that will spring up wherever Mr. Ruskin's Letters may be read, if I
say that a clearer, more definite utterance on the usury question would
be welcomed. The clergy everywhere would receive with thankfulness any
hints as to how they might hasten the coming of the day when the Church
of Christ will no longer embrace within her borders the few, with a
useless excess of wealth, and around them the unhappy many, hopelessly,
squalidly destitute; along, too, with a vast number of toiling teachers,
clergy, artists, and literary workers, living mostly on the verge of
pennilessness--men of whose existence Mr. Ruskin has, in earlier
writings, expressed himself as keenly and sympathetically conscious.

But I will not linger on such parts of Mr. Ruskin's Letters as may seem
to display inconsistency, or to need more precision of language before
they can be practically useful. I will proceed to speak of those for
which, as it seems to me, the clergy may unhesitatingly be very
grateful to Mr. Ruskin for laying them before them.

And first, I think we cannot be other than thankful to Mr. Ruskin for
sounding at the outset a note of catholicity. He asks the clergy of the
English Church (let me say he asks us,--he asks you and me), whether we
look upon ourselves as the clergy of a mere insular Church, or as the
clergy of the Church Universal. Is the teaching we are continually
giving utterance to as to the conduct of life in harmony with, or
different from, the teaching of the Christian Churches on the Continent
of Europe? Mr. Ruskin's tone, in asking these questions, is such as
implies that it would be no satisfaction to him to hear from us that we
rejoice in considering ourselves as severed from the clergy of the
Christian Church abroad. Indeed, he goes on to assume that we, with one
consenting voice, admit our fellowship with the rest of
Christendom--that we recognize as our brothers the clergy of the Church
of France, and of the Church of Italy, and of the Church everywhere.

Mr. Ruskin thus does not lend the support of his name to any useless
Protestantism. There are senses in which the whole Christian Church must
ever be a Protestant Church, and in which even individual members may
from time to time raise protesting voices. The Church must ever lift up
her protest against all influences that work in the world for
evil--against whatsoever tends to overthrow the Christian ideals of
individual, family, social, national, and international life. She must
protest against all hindrances, even though they may spring up within
her own borders, which tend to prevent her from putting any beneficent
impress upon human handiwork and upon manifestations of human genius.
She must protest against the very Protestantism in her midst which has
served to paganize art and to demoralize the drama, by banishing both to
an outer region of darkness which Gospel rays cannot be expected to
illumine. She must protest vigorously against the mischievous
Protestantism which impoverishes the intellect and chills the
affections, by causing men to devote the whole energies of their lives
to protesting against systems of thought with which they are very
imperfectly acquainted, and to maintaining an attitude of perpetual
suspicion as to others' aims and motives. Under the influence of such
Protestantism as this, many have been possessed with the assurance that
a vast number of the clergy of Christendom live for no other end than to
conspire against freedom, to disseminate falsities, and to work ruin
amongst human souls. This Protestantism is fast ceasing to have any
power amongst us; still, as it is not quite extinct, it is comforting to
find that Mr. Ruskin does not attribute it to the main body of those
whom he addresses.

To me it seems that an habitual protesting attitude on the part of those
who are called upon to be the teachers of the Church implies that they
have not themselves properly entered the temple of Christian truth. He
to whom Christian doctrine has revealed itself in all its wondrous
harmony cannot do other than devote himself to unfolding to others what
is ever present to his own mind, so that he may aid in building up their
thoughts consistently and symmetrically, and thus help to establish them
firmly in the Christian faith.

We may, then, it seems to me, express our thankfulness that Mr. Ruskin
has spoken, though ever so briefly, a word of encouragement to the
clergy of the English Church amongst whom the thought of a future of
reunion for Christendom has been welcomed. Mr. Ruskin is familiar with
the practical working of the Christian Church in Italy and elsewhere on
the Continent, and seeing, as he has seen, that her influence is exerted
towards securing an orderly and healthy state of social life, he does
not give circulation to the indiscriminate calumnies which were once
wont to be uttered, and which were alike at variance with the truth and
provocative of a mischievous severance of Christians from one another.

But we must, I think, be more especially grateful to Mr. Ruskin for his
calling widespread attention to the great Christian doctrine of the
Fatherhood of God. There is especial need for this being uplifted before
the thoughts of men at the present day, and it is being so uplifted. The
more it is upheld, the more fully will it be discerned. It cannot be
said that the doctrine is not accepted within the English Church. Still,
it has not yet been received in all its fulness. Amongst the
separatists outside the borders of our Church, the doctrine that God is
the Father of all humanity, and the loving Father too, is rejected in
two extreme ways. The set of "believers" who adopt the one extreme view
consider that the Lord's Prayer--so luminous, as Mr. Ruskin reminds us,
with the thought of God's fatherly love--should be used only by the
elect, such as themselves, and that all others have no right to address
God as their Father. The other set of so-called "believers" considers
with a deplorable Pharisaism that they have arrived at such a stage of
perfection as to be beyond the need for using words which require them
to ask every day for forgiveness of their trespasses. Why should they
ask for such, they say, when their trespasses are non-existent? If they
are children of the Father they are not so in the same sense as those
who conscientiously use the prayer addressed to the Father in heaven. I
regret that Mr. Ruskin's facile pen has betrayed him into writing some
words with reference to our Liturgy which bring him momentarily into
sympathy with these self-righteous ones who have no need to confess
that they want more health of soul.

But the doctrine of the loving Fatherhood of God, as revealed to us in
Christ, is one that is unfolding itself more and more clearly to the
Christian world. If it has unfolded itself to us we may aid in its
increased discernment. It is one that involves the acceptance of the
thought that all human life and every sphere of human endeavour are
under Divine patronage. God is in every way our Father. All human
excellences whatsoever exist in their fulness and perfection in Him. As
they are manifested in us and in our brothers and sisters around us,
they are Divine excellences becoming incarnate on the realm of humanity.

Childhood, for instance, as it manifests its sweetness and winsomeness
in Christian homes, is an outcome of the eternal childhood which dwells
in God, and which was manifested supremely to the world in the life of
the Divine Child at Bethlehem and Nazareth.

So that the doctrine of the loving Fatherhood of God has sheltering
beneath it the thought of the divineness of childhood. Clustering with
it are many kindred thoughts. There is the divineness of youth, the
frankness of Christian boyhood, the tender grace of Christian
girlhood,--these are manifestations of the eternal youth abiding in the
Divine Lord of humanity.

I might speak to you in like manner of the divineness of manhood and of
womanhood, and of the divineness of old age. All womanly excellences, as
well as all manly virtues, reside in the Divine One. I might speak to
you of the divineness of wedded life, the divineness of Christian
fatherliness and motherliness. The divineness of the student's life and
of the teacher's life might also be dwelt upon. The divineness of the
ministry of reconciliation, in which ministry all may take part who help
others to separate themselves from sin and selfishness and to enter into
union with God and His life of love,--this I present to you as a
fruitful thought. The divineness of all efforts tending towards the
solace and comforting of suffering human souls,--that too is one of the
beneficent thoughts involved in the great Christian truth that God is
the Father of humanity.

But the same great truth leads us to the discernment of other useful
thoughts. I might speak of them as connected with the divineness of all
toil which has for its object the increase of human knowledge, the
gathering together of the stored-up lessons of the past, the beautifying
of the daily life, the refining and spiritualizing of the daily thoughts
of the great brotherhood and sisterhood. It would thus be quite
justifiable to speak of the divineness of scientific toil, inasmuch as
that has for its aim the unfolding of the thoughts of God, of which all
appearances of the material world are the outcome and manifestation.
Thus too I might speak of the divineness of the work of those who enable
us to see the results of the Divine guidance bestowed on the world in
the ages past. I might speak of the divineness of the work of the artist
who devotes himself to acquiring skill in subtly entangling in the
colours he puts on canvas the sentiment underlying the landscape he
reverently looks at, which to him is a manifestation of a heaven of
beauty unseen by heedless eyes. I might also speak of the divineness of
the labours of the Christian poet, who presents to the world truth in
its feminine and most winning aspects.

When I should have spoken of all these things they could all be summed
up into one phrase--the divineness of Humanity. And this is what I have
faintly attempted to show necessarily springs up for recognition as the
doctrine of the Fatherhood of God presents itself to us in all its

I must hasten to a close. I have said that Mr. Ruskin in what he asks us
with reference to our relation to the Church in other countries sounds a
note of catholicity. In what I have myself said as to Protestantism I
have urged nothing inconsistent with a thorough loyalty to the principle
of Christian individualism. But individualism in utter revolt against
authority leads only to confusion and to a multiplicity of tyrannies.
Individualism thrives best under the protection of a generous
all-embracing authority. Individualism before taking up the attitude of
revolt should consider that it, by brave patience and a reverent
submissiveness to all higher influences around it, may contribute
beneficently to the authority of the future, and increase the
generousness and catholicity of its sway.

I will further remark that Mr. Ruskin's words as to the Fatherhood of
God are also a catholic utterance. For the Fatherhood of God when
pondered upon helps us to see that no sphere of human effort is beyond
His control; that His house is one of many mansions of thought and
affection and loving toil; that His heavenly kingdom is one including
all domains on which human energies can be directed, over which human
thoughts can roam, on which human love can lavish itself.

          _From the Rev._ CANON E. H. M'NEILE, _Liverpool_.

What is the exact question asked in Letter II.?

Is it whether the clergy are or are not teachers of universal science?

If so, we answer, Yes, we are teachers of the science most universal of
all, namely, the knowledge of God, which is eternal life: and of the way
to attain it, which is holiness; and the principles of this science,
which are universal, are not, as in other sciences, discovered by human
research, but are revealed by God.

Does the question imply that there are points of science on which it is
of no consequence what opinions a teacher holds? And if so, does it
further mean that all matters of doctrine, such as are defined in the
Thirty-nine Articles, are of this nature?

If so, I answer that it is only the theories or speculations of
scientific investigators about which variety of opinion is immaterial,
not the essential principles of the science; and that we cannot exclude
all questions of doctrine from among those principles. I do not know
what is meant by holding different opinions on points of science. About
the facts of science there can be no difference of opinion; but there
may be about the bearings, and the inferences to be drawn from them.


Here is a definite question. My answer is, Yes, but we do not refer to
the Thirty-nine Articles for a statement of the Gospel, but rather to
the Apostles' Creed, which contains the simplest summary of the facts on
which the Gospel rests. (See 1 Cor. xv. 1, etc.)


Here I answer, No. The Lord's Prayer was not intended to be a statement
of the Gospel, but the language of those who have accepted it. No doubt
the terms of the prayer may be so explained as to bring in a definition
of the Gospel, working backwards; but a complete explanation would be
longer than the Thirty-nine Articles. There seems to be a serious
confusion of thought here between the offer of salvation to sinners
estranged from God, and the utterance towards God of His reconciled


The Lord's Prayer is elementary teaching for Christians, but it is not
the first thing to be taught to those outside the family of God. The
truth that we have a Father in heaven is a fundamental part of the
Gospel. It is assumed in the Lord's Prayer; and so is the further truth
that our Father of His tender love towards us has given His Son to die
for us, that we may be delivered from the "consuming fire" which sin,
not God, has kindled; and thus we have indeed a blessed scheme of pardon
for which we are to be thankful to _both_ the Father and the Son. This
makes _all_ the clauses of the apostolic blessing intelligible and


Page 14: "For _other_ sins," etc. I think this is an incorrect comment.
The force of the threat is positive, not comparative. The language of
the law is similar towards every sin.

In what is said about the abomination of hypocrisy in prayer we
cordially agree. God give us grace to avoid it ourselves, and to warn
our brethren faithfully against it! But in what follows there is an
assumption of a power of discipline which the clergy do not possess,
and which I fear the laity would be most unwilling to concede to them.
Mr. Ruskin seems also to slip into the old error of the servants in the
parable of the tares.


On page 21 St. John xiv. 9 is incorrectly cited, and it is difficult to
know the exact drift of the writer.

I object to the statement that "in all His relations to us and commands
to us," etc. (See, _e.g._, St. Matt. xxviii. 18-20.)

As to His not knowing whether His prayer could be heard, see St. John
xi. 41, 42.

I think it is incorrect to say that our Lord Himself _used_ the prayer
He gave us, at least in its entirety as it stands.

Pages 20, 21: Mr. Ruskin seems to me to draw most strongly the very
comparison to which he objects. Surely the kingdom of Christ _is_ the
kingdom of His Father. (Rev. xi. 15, xii. 10; Eph. v. 5.) Does not an
unwillingness to accept the true divinity of our Lord underlie this


Page 25: There is surely a mistake here. Personal sanctification and
national prosperity are very different things. A nation has no existence
except in this world; therefore its prosperity is the chief end to be
aimed at; and this is no doubt promoted by the holiness of its people.
But a man has another life hereafter; and comfort and wealth are not the
end of his being. If granted, they are means to his sanctification, not
_vice versâ_.

It seems to me that Mr. Ruskin in this Letter writes somewhat
recklessly, and that he must have been singularly unfortunate in his
experience of preachers if he has never heard a faithful sermon against
covetousness, which is the idolatry of our age. On page 26 he seems to
fall into a great error in supposing that the proclamation of a free
pardon for sin tends to encourage it. If a man is to be delivered from
the power of his sins, he must first be delivered from the guilt of

No doubt the grace of God has been abused by some; and St. Paul himself
felt that his doctrine was open to such abuse (Rom. vi. 1, 15). It is
not, I think, just to attribute the corruption of our great cities to
the teaching of the clergy. It is rather to be ascribed to the absence
of that teaching.


Whatever justice there may be (and no doubt there is much) in Mr.
Ruskin's accusations against us clergy, he is surely under an entire
misapprehension in the charge which he here makes against our Liturgy.

Our Prayer Book is doubtless constructed for the use of believing
Christians, and is not fitted for the impenitent; but its adaptation to
the needs of the repentant publican and of the advanced Christian is
most wonderful. And that a form of prayer may be so adapted is surely
proved by the Lord's Prayer itself, which Mr. Ruskin says is the _first_
thing to be taught to all, and which, with all his practice in thinking,
he feels that he cannot adequately expound.

Surely the repetition of a confession of unholiness casts no slur upon
the efficacy of our prayers for holiness when we recognize that holiness
is progressive, and that spiritual growth may express itself not merely
in new words, but in a heartier utterance of the old ones. As to the
particular expression, "there is no health in us," it needs either the
explanation of St. Paul--"I know that in me, _that is, in my flesh_,
dwelleth no good thing,"--or else to be understood according to the old
meaning of "health," viz., "_saving health_," _salvation_, _deliverance_
(Psalm cxix. 123, Prayer Book; Isa. lviii. 8; Jer. viii. 15).

It needs further to be remarked that repentance is not only a single
definite act, but a state of mind.

I think that underlying all these comments of Mr. Ruskin on the Lord's
Prayer is a failure to recognize the truth of man's fall.

Human nature is a ruin, not to be restored by a rearrangement of its
fragments. God has provided a remedy, by sending His Son to be the
foundation of a new spiritual building; and every man who is to be built
upon that foundation must himself become a new creature by the
operation of the Holy Ghost. All efforts to improve humanity in the
mass, without the renewal of each separate soul, must fail; and no doubt
the clergy often fall into this mistake.

The Lord's Prayer is not the prayer of all mankind as they are by
nature. It is a prayer to the possession of which they are brought by
regeneration, and to the enjoyment by conversion.

                                                      E. H. M'NEILE.

                     _From the Rev._ P. T. OUVRY.

On the meaning of usury, I would add a few words. I start with this
proposition. There is nothing contrary to the will of God for one free
man to buy from another free man anything he wants. I have two
houses,--one I live in, one I let. My tenant pays the market rent of
houses to me, and so both parties are benefited. I have two thousand
pounds. I have no capacity, or opportunity, or desire to use more than
one thousand pounds in trade on my own account. My neighbour has energy
and activity to use more money than he has in trade. He gladly offers me
five per cent. for my spare thousand pounds. I willingly lend it on
those terms. He makes ten per cent. by using it. He gives me five pounds
and has five pounds for himself. If this be usury, it is lawful and

A number of small cultivators of land have no capital. A money-lender
supplies what they require on condition that they sell their crops to
him at a price which he is able to fix. From the circumstances of the
case the money-lender makes an enormous profit. The cultivator has
barely the necessaries of life. This is usury, in the bad sense of the
term, but is more correctly called oppression or extortion.

Again, a man lends money to ignorant inexperienced youths, on promise of
repayment when they come of age. This, too, is oppression or extortion.

Similar oppression is witnessed when bad houses are let to poor people
at high rents.

It is not, then, that usury, in the sense of oppression or extortion, is
inherent in money-lending; but it belongs equally to every transaction
between man and man, where any unrighteous dealing is practised.

                                                        P. T. OUVRY.

                                                  _October 1st, 1879_.

DEAR MR. MALLESON,--I protested strongly yesterday against our remarks,
made on the spur of the moment, being printed and submitted to Mr.
Ruskin's criticism, and what I said then I feel as strongly still.

But I have no objection to send, as a comment on his Letters, a volume
of sermons which I published last year, because I think that, in that
upon the hallowing of God's name, I have not taken the restricted view
which Mr. Ruskin accused the clergy of taking, and I think also that
(except in the sermon upon the doctrine of the Trinity, which was
written before the others, and is tinged with the prejudices of early
training), I have set forth God the Father as a Being of infinite,
tender, fatherly love.

So far as snails may follow in the footsteps of greyhounds, and bats
look in the same direction as eagles, I think some of us clergymen are
getting our feet and our eyes into the same track as Mr. Ruskin's.

It seems to me that all of us who think upon religious matters, laity or
clergy, whether men of genius or commonplace people, are feeling our way
at present to something better and truer. Men like Mr. Ruskin, like
steamships, dart on to their destination; and feebler minds, like
sailing vessels, are a good deal at the mercy of the _popularis aura_
and the winds of doctrine, but both are on their way to the same point.

I send the volume by the same post as this letter.

                                        Yours very faithfully,
                                                         H. R. S.

            _From the Rev._ A. G. K. SIMPSON, _Brighton_.

We are convinced that the love of God is the originating cause of all
His dealings with mankind, and are glad to meet him on the broad
platform of "Our Father which art in heaven;" only premising that it is
a platform not new to us, but on which we have long taken our stand.

But beyond these somewhat general statements of our faith, I doubt
whether it would be possible to put Divine truth into such plain words
as would meet with general acceptance. In proportion to the _minuteness_
would be the _disagreement_. To take one great truth (perhaps the
greatest of all), would it be possible to put forth a plain and simple
statement, such as all, or the majority, would receive, of the
Atonement? Such a mind as Mr. Ruskin's would not be content with the
forensic view more popular some years ago than now. Wiser, it seems to
me, it is to accept some such teaching as that of Coleridge in "Aids to
Reflection." "The mysterious act, the operative cause," he says, "is
transcendent." "_Factum est_," and beyond the information contained in
the enunciation of the fact, it can be characterized only by its
consequences. It is these consequences which (according to Coleridge)
are illustrated by the four metaphors:--

    1. Sin-offering or expiation.

    2. Reconciliation.

    3. Redemption.

    4. Payment of a debt.

Now, would not a plain, a simple statement, be apt to press the metaphor
too far, and attempt to put into words one aspect of the truth as though
it were the whole? Such a reverent mind as Bishop Butler's reproved the
curiosity which sought to find out the manner of the atonement. "I do
not find," he said, "that it is declared in the Scriptures." And yet the
atonement is only _one_, though perhaps the _chief_, of the many points
of which a true and simple statement must take cognizance. It would be
comparatively easy for the private clergyman to put into words his
thoughts on this subject or that, but then he would be continually
liable to have it urged against him that he had not sufficiently
considered some given point--had not walked round it, and seen it in all
its bearings; that his view was inadequate and incomplete; and, being
fallible and human, some of the objections would doubtless be true, and
the simple and plain statement be, in that respect at least,

             _From the Rev._ G. W. WALL, _Bickerstaffe_.

                              LETTER II

This Letter professes to contain an "exact question," which is somewhat
singularly inexactly put. In its strict grammatical form it asks for a
definition of the members of a Clerical Council, and their business as
such. This "exact question" is in fact an illustration of the fallacy of
asking two questions in one, though a question demanding to be answered
with "mathematical" precision should have been set with mathematical
accuracy. But here at the outset a protest must be entered against being
called upon to answer a question set in ambiguous words and misleading
phrases, and based upon assumptions which those questioned would reject.
It is impossible to deal with a so-called "axiomatic" question which
instantly passes into a cloudy rhetorical illustration.

"The attached servants of a particular State." Does that expression
mean, "England, with all thy faults, I love thee still"? or, is it used
in the same sense as "attached to the staff"? But are there many of the
clergy who would say, "I am an attached and salaried servant of the
State, and nothing more?" Are there many who would allow that they were
"salaried" by the State at all? Are there many who would grant that they
had been "examined" and "numbered" and admitted into a "body of
trustworthy persons" either by the State or by its agents? And yet all
these previous questions must be answered before we can consider at all
the "axiomatic" question which the clergy are "earnestly called upon" to
solve. The question set down for solution implies some such inquiries as
these: Is not the Church of England merely a Department of the State of
England? Does not a clergyman belong to the Ecclesiastical Service just
as an _employé_ of the Treasury, or the Home Office, or the Post Office,
belongs to the Civil Service? For example, the authorities at Chamouni
examine and approve of certain men as guides for mountaineering: does
not the English State similarly examine and approve of certain men as
guides for England and the English "in the way known of all good men
that leadeth unto life"? A most fallacious employment of a "universal"
for a "particular," for either the clergy must be excluded from the
number of "all good men," or the assertion that all good men agree in
their knowledge falls to the ground, seeing that in the fourth Letter
the clergy are charged with not having "determined quite clearly" what
the way that leadeth unto life may be.

But taking this Alpine illustration for what it may be worth, we may
ask, "What does it mean?" Is it not intended to exalt practical
questions, and to depreciate all doctrine and dogma and theological
opinion, either from its liability on the one hand to be narrow or
insular, "Chamounist or Grindelwaldist," or on the other from its
tendency to be vague and transcendental, dealing with "celestial
mountains" and unfathomable "crevasses"? Will it not admit of some such
paraphrase as this, "Your teachings as to Episcopacy or
Congregationalism, seven sacraments or two, and the like, are mere local
opinions, and so away with them; your doctrines as to the Holy Trinity,
the Incarnation, and the like, are mere transcendentalism, and so away
with them also,--

    'For modes of faith let zealous bigots fight,
     He can't be wrong whose life is in the right.'"

Still it may be allowable to hint that the qualifications of a "guide"
as laid down in this Letter are somewhat peculiar. It might have been
supposed by a plain man that a Chamounist guide was expected to know at
least something as to the localities of the Mer de Glace, the Jardin, or
the Grand Mulets, but he is seemingly to rise superior to any
"Chamounist opinions on geography," and to be prepared to rely only upon
a universal science of locality and athletics, a reliance which has been
the fruitful cause of mountaineering fatalities.

The reply which most Clerical Councils would return respecting the
"axiomatic" question of this Letter would probably be, "We cannot answer
a fallacy; we are not careful to answer thee in this matter."

                              LETTER III

A second question is now propounded respecting the Christian Gospel.
"The Gospel of Christ" is spoken of in a connection which seems to
indicate that Luther and Augustine were equally, in the writer's
opinion, the setters forth of a "gospel." Is this an unintentional
disclosure of his estimate of our blessed Lord,--"Rabbi, we know that
Thou art a teacher come from God," and no more than that? For the eighth
Letter contains a sneer at the Gospel that He is our Advocate with the
Father, as one to mend the world with. A confused question follows,
which may mean either, that it is in the first place desirable that the
Gospel should be put into plain words, or, that the first principles of
the Gospel should be put into plain words. Its probable meaning is, "Is
it not desirable that religious teaching should be divested of any
mysteries?" The extraordinary supposition that the Gospel is intended to
be set forth in the Thirty-nine Articles can only be equalled by a
supposition that a treatise on military tactics is embodied in the
Articles of War. Perhaps even some of the axiomatic principles of
mathematics, such as that "a point is that which hath no parts," though
laid down in "plain words and short terms," might sorely perplex "simple

But several fallacies underlie this second question. The fallacy that
the moral principles of our nature are necessarily connected with the
extent of our intellectual capacities; the fallacy that Divine Truths
can be adequately expressed through the inaccurate instrument of human
language; the fallacy that deep things are necessarily made plain by the
use of plain words; the fallacy that everything upon which we act is
necessarily understood. A plain man does not refuse to use the telegraph
because he may know nothing about the Correlation of Force, or a simple
person to travel because "space" is beyond his comprehension. If the
Gospel is, as St. Paul says it is, a revelation of the power of God unto
salvation, an amount of mystery must necessarily surround it. Since it
is impossible that the Divine Nature should be to us other than a
mystery, a revelation of Divine purposes such as is the Gospel as
understood by the Church, must remain mysterious also. Only upon the
supposition that our Lord was the teacher of a high but still human
morality can we remove all mystery from the Christian Gospel, if it
still deserve the name. Such teaching might be conveyed in plain words
and short terms, but it would cease to be a Gospel which angels desire
to look into, and could hardly be described as the "manifold wisdom of
God," or be the story of the "love of Christ, which passeth knowledge."

The Gospel, as the Church understands it, rests upon the revealed fact
of the Incarnation, or the union of the Infinite with the Finite, that
He who is very God of very God became man in order to introduce the
Divine possibility of manhood being made to partake of the Divine
nature; and so long as the triumphal chant ascends that "the Catholic
Faith is this," so long will the Church's Faith be veiled indeed with
mystery, and so long will she continue to gather within her bounds the
humble and holy men of heart, who are content to say, "I cannot
understand: I love." That "God sent His only-begotten Son into the
world that we might live through Him" are short and plain words enough,
and Gospel enough, surely, but the depth of their meaning is
unfathomable by even the most cultivated understanding, to which the
power of God and the wisdom of God may appear to be but foolishness.

                              LETTER IX

This Letter, after endorsing the expressions of the preceding one, deals
apparently with Capital and Labour. The clergy, if not required to
divide the inheritance among their brethren, or to actually serve
tables, are, taking "Property is theft" as their text, to resolutely and
daily inquire how the dinners of their flock are earned. The gist of the
Letter seems to be that the worker earns and the capitalist steals his
dinner. It is really possible that the clergy do constantly speak the
truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake,
even though they may not subscribe to all the articles of some peculiar
schemes of social science, nor hold some singular doctrines as to
political economy. Doubtless were they to assimilate their conduct to
that of an injudicious district-visitor, they would have to take a new
view of "life and its sacraments," whatever this expression may mean.

It would seem as if the writer had yet to learn that a Christian Church
may exist teaching the most dogmatic definitions of doctrine, binding,
even in this respect, burdens on men's shoulders grievous to be borne,
while its members may be patterns of self-denial in "offices of temporal
ministry to the poor." He does not appear to regard with favour the
"Evangelistic sect of the English Church;" if this is intended for the
"Evangelical" sect, Charles Kingsley could say, in a certain place, of
its founders, "They were inspired by a strange new instinct that God had
bidden them 'to clothe the hungry and feed the naked.'" Yet these men
thought that "justification by faith only" was the Gospel they were "to
carry to mend the world with, forsooth."

                              LETTER XI

This concluding Letter calls but for slight remark,--of many portions we
feel _O si sic omnia_! That there is much sorrowful truth underlying the
unmeasured denunciations which have gone before few will care to deny.
Few there are who will not pray to be kept from the evils which the
writer discerns, and against which he inveighs. Such will be the first
to regret that the Letters, as they read them, seem to fall short of the
fulness of the Catholic Faith. "The holy teachers of all nations:" was
our blessed Lord but one of them? There is nothing in the Letters to
show that "the full force and meaning" of Gospel teaching is concerned
with anything beyond wealth, and comfort, and national prosperity, and
domestic peace. Preaching the acceptable year of the Lord is something
more surely than an invective against usury.

We read that in old times Bezaleel was filled for his own work with the
Spirit of God, but we do not read that he aspired to become a religious
teacher; and when we are told by one eminent in Art that a Church
nineteen centuries old has yet to learn that the "will of the Lord" is a
sanctification which brings comfort and wealth in its train, we think of
a Moses who esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the
treasures of Egypt, and then of a Paul who counted all things but loss
for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord.

                                                        G. W. WALL.

                          _From_ OXONIENSIS.

DEAR MR. MALLESON,--Many thanks for the pamphlet. You ask me to send you
any remarks I may have to make on the Letters, and I gather from your
note at the beginning of the Letters as they now stand, that you intend
making use of any remarks sent you that may commend themselves to your
judgment. I am not vain enough to think mine of any special value. I
will, however, write you my feelings about them, encouraged to do so by
your statement in the note to the pamphlet, that the use made of
remarks sent you will be anonymous, if it is so desired.

First, as regards the general tone of the Letters. You tell me that the
majority of the comments you have received have been hostile--people not
taking their medicine without making wry faces. I am only surprised at
the gentleness of the Letters, and I believe that if anyone will take
the trouble to put down for himself on paper the sum of their contents,
he will find it as difficult to gainsay as for careless readers it is
easy to cavil at. On the other hand, the "hostile spirit" is readily
provoked by the way in which some of the teaching of the Letters is put.
Passages like the sixth paragraph in Letter X. appear an objectionable
joke to some--perhaps to most--people; they do not see that it is really
a serious jest, so put for brevity's sake, and that Ruskin might have
put the same note to it as he has put to a passage in the "Crown of Wild
Olive," p. 85, 8vo ed.: "Quite serious all this, though it reads like
jest." I remember once asking Ruskin if his apparent joking in some
Oxford lectures was not likely to lessen his influence, and he at once
said to me, "Remember that most of my apparent jokes are serious,
_ghastly_ jests." I think he would be less often misunderstood, if this
were more often understood.

Your own preface marks the two main points in the spirit of the Letters.
They are sternly practical, and at the same time their standard is one
of an ideal perfection. People don't see that because the goal cannot be
reached, the road towards it can still be trodden, and therefore they
apply to the road an epithet which applies only to the goal. In this
respect Ruskin's teaching might be mottoed with George Herbert's--

                    "Who aimeth at the sky
    Shoots higher much than he that means a tree."

In fact, Ruskin's teaching, like that of the Bible, is not unpractical,
but _unpractised_.

I will now take the Letters in detail. The first four of them are merely
introductory to the main matter of the eleven. In these first five two
questions are asked--

1. What is a clergyman of the Church of England? And to this the
suggested answer is (whom does it offend?), "A teacher of the Gospel of
Christ to all nations."

2. What is the teaching of the Gospel he is to teach? What is that
teaching, clearly and simply put?

Then Letter IV. suggests that the Lord's Prayer may be taken as
containing the cardinal points of that teaching, containing not all that
is to be learnt, but what all have to learn. And so we come to Letter
V.; and I tried, in reading the Letters for myself, to do for them what
Letter III. asks clergymen to do for the Gospel.

Letter V.--A clergyman's first duty is to make the Lord's Prayer clear
and living to his people. This is what Ruskin has elsewhere insisted on
in other matters--"clear," know your duty and your belief; "living,"
realize it in your life--realize it "as a Captain's order, to be obeyed"
("Crown of Wild Olive," Introduction, p. 13. The whole of this
Introduction reads well with these Letters). Then the first clause of
the Prayer is set forth as putting before us God as a loving Father.

Letter VI.--"Hallowed be Thy name." How do we fulfil the hope in our
lives? How do we betray it? Not in swearing only, as we are apt to
think, but in the blasphemy of false and hypocritical prayer to, and
praise of, _preaching about_ God (last paragraph of the Letter).
Clergymen, it is added, can prevent openly wicked men from being in
their congregations (they are supposed to do so: Rubrics 2 and 3 before
the Holy Communion Service); they can not only compel the wicked poor
into, but expel the wicked rich out of, churches. God sees the heart:
the clergy should look to the hands and lips.

Letter VII.--"Thy kingdom come:"--not an allusion to the second coming
of the Son, which we cannot hasten, but to the coming of the kingdom of
God the Father, which we can. This is again illustrated by the "Crown of
Wild Olive" (I daresay it is by others of Ruskin's books, but it is
convenient to refer chiefly to one, and that the one which contains what
he calls his most biblical lecture), p. 56: "Observe it is a kingdom
that is to come to us; we are not to go to it. Also it is not to be a
kingdom of the dead, but of the living. Also it is not to come all at
once, but quietly ... without observation. _Also it is not to come
outside of us, but in our hearts: 'the kingdom of God is within you.'_"
This is the sense in which we can hasten _it_.

Letter VIII. begins with a hit at the pleasure priests take in their
priesthood's dignity, and at their avoidance of its unpleasant duties,
and at their sometimes wearisome preaching.

Have they ever taught "Thy will be done," as it should be--1. In our own
sanctification; 2. In understanding that will, and doing it, and
striving to get it done (knowing their duty and doing it, and it alone)?

The remarks about the mediatorial (absolving-from-punishment) and the
pastoral (purging-from-sin) functions of a "pastor," seem to me quite

The end of the Letter is subsequently amplified, Letter X.

Letter IX.--"Give us this day our daily bread." Yes, but we must work
for it. "The man that will not work, neither shall he eat." A cardinal
point with Ruskin: "But if you do" (_i.e._, wish for God's kingdom),
"you must do more than pray for it, you must work for it" ("Crown of
Wild Olive," p. 56).

And the clergyman has to teach (Letter IX. goes on) what that work is
and how it is to be done; and the life, to which their teaching should
lead, is one "moderate in its self-indulgence, wide in its offices of
temporal ministry to the poor," in the absence of which, prayer for
harvest is mere blasphemy. For the spiritual bread is the first thing,
and a clergyman's first message, "Choose ye this day whom ye will

Letter X.--"Forgive us our trespasses." The explanation of trespasses,
and substitution of _debts_ for it, is admirable ("Dimitte nobis
_debita_ nostra"), and admirably illustrated by the sins of omission
being condemned in Christ's judgment,--"I was hungry, and ye gave Me no

The remarks on the "pleasantness" of the English liturgy recall those on
the avoidance of unpleasantness by the English clergy in Letter VIII.

I pass over the notes on the advantage of "forms of prayer," and come to
the end of Letter X. and Letter XI., which go together, and say
practically, Pray honestly or not at all. "Faithful prayer implies
always correlative exertions;" "dishonest prayer is blasphemy of the
worst kind."

"Crown of Wild Olive," p. 55, again: "Everybody in this room has been
taught to pray daily, 'Thy kingdom come.' Now, if we hear a man swear in
the streets, we think it very wrong, and say he 'takes God's name in
vain.' But there is a twenty times worse way of taking His name in vain
than that. It is to _ask God for what we don't want_. He doesn't like
that sort of prayer. If you don't want a thing, don't ask for it; such
asking is the worst mockery of your King you can insult Him with; the
soldiers striking Him on the head was nothing to that. If you do not
wish for His kingdom, don't pray for it."

In fact, prayer is worse than useless if not sincere, and it is
insincere if not carried out in the life of the "pray-er." Thus, "One
hour in the execution of justice is worth seventy years of (insincere)
prayer" (Mahometan maxim, "Crown of Wild Olive," p. 49).

I must stop. Only the fifth paragraph in Letter XI., about parents
looking for "opportunities" for their children, is exactly parallel
with "Sesame and Lilies," 8vo edition, p. 2 (Sub. 1, § 2), which might
be added in an illustrative note. I must apologize for my long and
rambling letter, but if it is of the least service to you I shall be
content. I feel how inadequate it is to what I meant it to be, only I
have no time just now to do more than write, as this letter is
written--at the point of the pen.


                             LETTERS FROM


                                TO THE



Some apology will naturally be expected for setting the following
letters before the searching eye of a critical and possibly censorious
public. I can only plead that the suggestion of their publication did
not emanate from myself (for the idea of making these letters public
property had never once in fifteen years crossed my mind), but was made
to me by friends to whom it appeared that much in these letters is
strongly characteristic of Mr. Ruskin, and illustrates (much too
indulgently, alas!) the estimate he is good enough to form of a
correspondent who does not to this day clearly understand to what happy
circumstance he is indebted for so fortunate a partiality. At the same
time it must be confessed that _Laudari a viro laudato_ is a harmless
ambition for the possession of a stimulus which is good for every soul
of man.

I will say no more upon that subject, lest my self-depreciation should
be set down to vanity. Nevertheless it has always been a source of
innocent pleasure to me that I have been enabled to bring my ship
without damage through so perilous a voyage to port in a safe and
honourable harbourage.

The matters discussed in the following letters range only over a narrow
field; but it will be found that they present a truly life-like picture
of the writer with his shrewd common-sense and deeper wisdom, enlivened
in no small measure by a quick impulsiveness which is sometimes rather
startling. Some of his sudden sallies serve the purpose of the
condiments, which displeasing if taken alone, give piquancy to our
ordinary food.

                                                       F. A. MALLESON.


                                                     _July 8th, 1879._

MY DEAR MR. MALLESON,--You must make no public announcement of any paper
by me. I am not able to count on my powers of mind for an hour; and will
absolutely take no responsibility. What I do send you--if anything--will
be in the form of a series of short letters to yourself, of which you
have already the first: This the second for the sake of continuing the
order unbroken contains the next following question which I should like
to ask. If when the sequence of letters is in your possession you like
to read any part or parts of them as a subject of discussion at your
afternoon meeting, I shall be glad and grateful.

                                    Ever faithfully yours,
                                                     J. RUSKIN.



I am so ashamed of keeping R.'s book--but it's impossible for me to look
at it properly till I have done my lecture, so much must be left undone
of it anyhow * * *

Yes--you were glad to find we were at one in many thoughts. So was I.
But we are not yet, you know, at one in our _sight_ of this world and
the dark ways of it. I hope to have you for a St. George's soldier one


                                                    _23rd July, 1879._

Thanks for your note and your kind feelings. But you ought to know more
about me.

I profess to be a teacher; as you profess also.

But we teach on totally different methods.

_You_ believe what you wish to believe; teach that it is wicked to doubt
it, and remain at rest and in much self-satisfaction.

_I_ believe what I find to be true, whether I like or dislike it. And I
teach other people that the chief of all wickednesses is to tell lies in
God's service, and to disgrace our Master and destroy His sheep as
_involuntary_ Wolves.

_I_, therefore, am in perpetual effort to learn and discern--in
perpetual Unrest and Dissatisfaction with myself.

But it would simply require you to do twenty years of such hard work as
I have done before you could in any true sense speak a word to me on
such matters. You could not use a word in my sense. It would always mean
to you something different.

For instance--one of my quite bye works in learning my business of a
teacher--was to read the New Testament through in the earliest Greek MS.
(eleventh century) which I could get hold of. I examined every syllable
of it and have more notes of various readings and on the real meanings
of perverted passages than you would get through in a year's work. But I
should require you to do the same work before I would discuss a text
with you. From that and such work in all kinds I have formed opinions
which you could no more move than you could Coniston Old Man. They may
be wrong, God knows; I _trust_ in them infinitely less than you do in
those which you have formed simply by refusing to examine--or to
think--or to know what is doing in the world about you; but you cannot
stir them.

I very very rarely make presents of my books. If people are inclined to
learn from them, I say to them as a physician would--Pay me my fee--you
will not obey me if I give you advice for nothing.

But I should like a kind neighbour like you to know something about me,
and I have therefore desired my publisher to send you one[21] of my many
books which, after doing the work that I have done, you would have to
read before you could really use words in my meaning.

     [21] Crown of Wild Olive.--ED.

     If you will read the introduction carefully, and especially dwell
     on the 10th to 15th lines of the 15th page, you will at least know
     me a little better than to think I believe in my own
     resurrection--but not in Christ's: and if you look to the final
     essay on War, you may find some things in it which will be of
     interest to you in your own[22] work.

     [22] Translating some of Erckmann-Chatrian's.--ED.


                                        VENICE, _8th September, 1879_.

* * * * There is nothing whatever said as far as I remember in the July
'Fors,' about "people's surrendering their judgment." A colonel does not
surrender his judgment in obeying his general, nor a soldier in obeying
his colonel. But there can be no army where they _act_ on their own

The Society of Jesuits is a splendid proof of the power of obedience,
but its curse is falsehood. When the Master of St. George's Company bids
you lie, it will be time to compare our discipline to the Jesuits. We
are their precise opposites--fiercely and at all costs frank, while they
are calmly and for all interests lying.


                                                  BRANTWOOD, CONISTON,
                                                   _July 30th, 1879_.

DEAR MR. MALLESON,--I fear I have kept the proofs too long, but I wanted
to look atain. I am confirmed in my impression that the book will do
much good.[23] But I think it would have done more if you had written
the lives of two or three of your parishioners. Such an answer would I
give to a painter who sent to me a picture of the Last Supper. "You had
better, it seems to me, have painted a Harvest Home." I am gravely
doubtful of the possibility, in these days, of writing or painting on
such subjects, advisedly and securely.

                                  Ever affectionately yours,
                                                          J. R.

     [23] Life and Work of Jesus Christ. Ward & Lock.--ED.


                                                    _July 31st, 1879._

I have received this week the two most astonishing letters I ever yet
received in my life. And one of them is yours, read this
morning--telling me--that you don't think you could write the life of an
old woman! Yet you think you _can_ write the life of Christ!

If you can at all explain this state of your mind to me I will tell you
more distinctly what I think of the piece I saw. But I don't think you
will communicate the thought to your publisher; and I never meant you to
use my former one in that manner.

Mind a publisher thinks only of money, and I know nothing of
saleableness. The pause in my other letters is one of pure astonishment
at you; which at present occupies all the time I have to spare on the
subject, and has culminated to-day.

I am so puzzled. I can scarcely think of anything else till you tell me
what you mean in the bit about being "called late."

Have you done no work in the vineyard 'yet' then?


                                                   _August 2nd, 1879._

I am still simply speechless with astonishment at you. It is no question
of your right to the best I can say; it is all at your command. But for
the present my tongue cleaves to the roof of my mouth. I can only tell you
with all the strength I have to read and understand and believe 2 Esdras
iv. 2, 20, 21.[24]

     [24] Thy heart hath gone too far in this world, and thinkest thou
     to comprehend the way of the most High? Then answered he me, and
     said, Thou hast given a right judgment, but why judgest thou not
     thyself also. For like as the ground is given unto the wood, and
     the sea to his floods: even so they that dwell upon the earth may
     understand nothing, but that which is upon the earth: and he only
     that dwelleth above the heavens, may understand the things that are
     above the height of the heavens.


                                                   _August 4th, 1879._

It is just because you undertook the task so _happily_, that I should
have thought you unfit to write the life of a Man of Sorrows, even had
he been a Man only. But your last letter, remember, claims inspiration
for your guide, and recognizes a personal call at sixty, as if the Call
to the ministry had been none, and the receiving the Holy Ghost by
imposition of hands an empty ceremony.

In writing the life of a parishioner and in remitting or retaining their
sins you would in my conception have been fulfilling your appointed
work. But I cannot conceive the claim to be a fit Evangelist without
more proof of miraculous appointment than you are conscious of. I know
you to be conscientious, yes--but I think the judicial doom of this
country is to have conscience alike of its Priests and Prophets
_hardened_. Why should any letter of mine make you anxious if you had
indeed conscience of inspiration?

                                  Ever affectionately yours,
                                                          J. R.


                                                         _August 7th._

I hope to be able soon now to resume the series of letters; but it seems
to me there is no need whatever of more than three or four more
respecting the last clauses of the Lord's Prayer. Those in your hands
contain questions enough, if seriously entertained, to occupy twenty
meetings; and I could only hope that some one of them might be carefully
taken up by your friends. I think, however, in case of the clerical
feeling being too strong, that I must ask you, if you print letters at
all, to print them without omission. And if you do not print them, to
return them to me for my own expansion and arrangement.

                                  Ever affectionately yours,
                                                          J. R.


                                                         _August 9th._

I have got to work on the letters again; it would make me nervous to
think of all these plans of yours. Suppose you leave all that till you
see what the first debate comes to?[25] And in the meantime I'll finish
as best I can.

     [25] My clerical friends and brethren must not be displeased with
     me if I here mention the fact that at the meeting of twenty-three
     clergy where I _proposed_ to read Mr. Ruskin's letters to them, I
     was only authorized to do so by a majority of two. I can scarcely
     describe the dismay and consternation with which the letters
     themselves were received,--though of course not universally, in
     another meeting of the same number.


                                                      _September 2nd._

That there are only a hundred copies in that form,[26] is just a reason
why the book should be in your library, where it will be enjoyed and
useful; and not in mine, where it would not be opened once in a
twelvemonth. It is one of the advantages of a small house (and it has
many) that one is compelled to consider of all one's books whether they
are in use or not.

     [26] Grosart, "Poems of Christopher Harvey."

I yesterday ordered a 'Fors' to be sent you containing in its close the
most important piece of a religious character in the book--this I hope
you will also allow to stay on your shelves. The two that I sent with
this note contain so much that is saucy that I only send them in case
you want to look at the challenge referred to in the Letters to the
Bishop of Manchester, see October, 1877, pp. 322, 323, and January 1875,
p. 11. You can keep as long as you like, but please take care of them,
as my index is not yet done. The next letter will come before the week
end, but it's a difficult one.


                                                     THE VICARAGE,
                                                _September 4th, 1879_.

MY DEAR MR. RUSKIN,--These parish engagements having been discharged
which have taken up my time very closely since I came back from
Brighton, I am returning to your letters, and I think you would like to
know what I am doing. I am copying them down, first, as I can read them
aloud better in my own handwriting, and secondly, because I shall not
place the originals in the printer's hands.

Then many thoughts arise in my mind as I re-peruse them, and I must
needs (and I think I am allowed) give expression to my thoughts. Hence
each letter is followed by my own comments or reflections upon it. But
this need not make you feel nervous. On the whole there is much
agreement between your modes of thought on religious subjects and my

If this is thought a piece of cool assurance, I may reply in the words
or sense of Euclid, That similar triangles may have the most various
areas. I am not equal to you, but I claim to be similar. These comments
I sometimes think I ought to show to you before publication; but perhaps
you will agree with me that if I am fit to be trusted at all, I had
better be left unconstrained. I shall certainly come to you first, if I
find myself seriously at variance with you, which has not happened yet
as far as the first clause of the Lord's Prayer. Then it is likely that
I shall read the letters before two or three Clerical Societies,[27]
including my own, the Furness.

     [27] At Liverpool and Brighton.

The opinions delivered by those clergy it will be my duty, and I hope it
will be my pleasure, to collect and to record. I propose also to invite
the clergy who have not time or opportunity to speak in the meeting to
write to me, and I will use my best judgment in selecting from their
correspondence all that seems worth preserving.

I am very sensible that this is a most delicate and responsible task
that is laid upon me, and I wonder to find myself so engaged. It will
need tact, discretion, and kindness of heart, and I trust I may be
endued with the necessary qualifications to a much larger extent than I
think I naturally possess.

I find no small comfort at the foot of the first page of the Preface to
"Sesame and Lilies." There I feel I am at one with you.

                                  Ever affectionately yours,
                                                 F. A. MALLESON.


                                     BRANTWOOD, _September 5th, 1879_.

I shall be delighted to have the comments, though it will be well first
to have the series of letters done--the last but one is coming
to-morrow. I have only written them in the sense of your sympathy in
most points, and am sure you will make the best possible use of them.


                                                _September 7th, 1879._

It is rather comic that your first reply to my challenge concerning
usury should be a prospectus of a Company[28] wishing to make 5 per
cent. out of Broughton poor men's ignorance. You couldn't have sent me a
project I should have regarded with more abomination.

     [28] A projected Public Hall.


                                                _September 9th, 1879._

There is absolutely no debate possible as to what usury is any more
than what adultery is. The Church has only been polluted by the
indulgence of it since the 16th century. Usury is _any kind whatever_ of
interest on loan, and it is the essential modern form of Satan.

I send you an old book full of sound and eternal teaching on this
matter--please take care of it as a friend's gift, and one I would not
lose for its weight in gold. Please read first the Sermon by Bishop
Jewel, page 14, and then the rest at your pleasure or your leisure.

_No halls are wanted_, they are all rich men's excuses for destroying
the home life of England.

The public library should be at the village school (and I could put ten
thousand pounds' worth of books into a single cupboard), and all that is
done for education should be pure Gift. Do you think that this rich
England, which spends fifty millions a year in drink and gunpowder,
can't educate her poor without being paid interest for her Charity?

       *       *       *       *       *

At the time of writing this the following letters passed between Mr.
Ruskin and myself:--


                                                    THE VICARAGE,
                                               _September 12th, 1879_.

MY DEAR MR. RUSKIN,--I feel in a great strait. I have before me a task
of the utmost delicacy, and one before which I feel that I _ought_ to
shrink,--that of editing your letters, with the accompaniment of
comments of my own. You trust me, evidently, or you would have laid down
limitations to guard yourself against misrepresentation. My anxiety is
lest I should abuse that large and generous confidence you have so
kindly placed in me. Let me explain my position, as I see it myself.

The series will consist of eleven letters, when you have sent me your
last. I have now copied nine, and written concisely the views I have
presumed to form upon each. With every letter I mostly agree and
sympathize, looking on them as "counsels of perfection," and viewing the
great subjects you deal with from a far higher standpoint than (in my
experience) either laymen or clergymen generally view them. All that
there is in me of _enthusiasm_ rings in answering chords to the notes
you strike. Yet I do not _always_ agree. But when I do disagree, I
acknowledge it is because your standard is excessively high--too high
for practical purposes.

Now, I ask, shall you consider it strictly fair and honourable in me to
receive your letters, read them or send them to assemblies of clergy,
gather their views, both adverse and favourable, and add diffident
animad-versions of my own? If you will allow this to be right, and if
you will trust to my sense of what is proper, to deal with your letters
in the spirit of a Christian and a gentleman, then, hoping to fulfil
your expectations, I shall proceed in my work with a mind more at ease;
for I could not endure the thought that, after all was done, I had
written a single sentence or word that had inflicted pain upon you.

Then comes another question. Do you wish to hear or read my comments
before they are printed? I say frankly, if you trust me, I would prefer
not; for it would not, perhaps, be pleasant for me either to read your
praises, or my poor criticisms, to your face. But still, if you wish it,
I shall be ready at your bidding; for I recognize your right to require
it. Only I would rather read them to you myself some quiet autumn
evening or two.


                                                     _September 13th._

DEAR MR. MALLESON,--I am so very grateful for your proposal to edit the
letters without further reference to me. I think that will be exactly
the right way; and I believe I can put you at real ease in the doing of
it by explaining as I can in very few words the kind of carte-blanche I
should rejoicingly give you.

Interrupted to-day! more to-morrow, with, I hope, the last letter.

                                                                J. R.


                                             _Sunday, September 14th._

I've nearly done the last letter, but will keep it to-morrow rather than
finish hurriedly for the earlier post. Your nice little note has just
come, and I can only say that you cannot please me better than by acting
with perfect freedom in all ways, and that I only want to see or reply
to what you wish me for the matter's sake. And surely there is no
occasion for any thought for waste of type about _me_ personally, except
only to express your knowledge of my real desire for the health and
power of the Church. More than this praise you _must_ not give me, for
I have learned almost everything I may say that I know by my errors.

                                    Ever affectionately yours,
                                                         J. RUSKIN.


                                               _September 16th, 1879._

I should have returned these two recent letters before now, but have
been looking for the earlier letters which have got mislaid in a general
rearrangement of all things by a new secretary. I am almost sure to come
on them to-morrow in my own packing up for town, where I must be for a
month hence. Please address, &c.



I am sincerely grieved by the first part of your letter, and scarcely
like to trouble you with answer to the close. * * * Surely the first
thing to be done with the letters is to use them as you propose, and you
may find fifty suggestions, made by persons or circumstances after that,
worth considering. I do not doubt that I could easily add to the bulk of
MS.; but should then, I think, stipulate for having the book published
by my own publisher.


                                                       _October 13th._

I did not get your kind and interesting letter till yesterday, and can
only write in utter haste this morning to say that I think nothing can
possibly be more satisfactory (to me personally at least) and more
honourable than what you tell me of the wish of the meeting to have the
letters printed for their quiet consideration.[29]

     [29] Canon Rawnsley kindly offered to print them at his own
     expense; only as many were printed as would be sufficient for three
     or four clerical societies. Had I known how valuable those little
     pamphlets were destined to become, I should have had many more

They are entirely at your command and theirs--but don't sell the
copyright to any publisher. Keep it in your own hands, and after
expenses are paid of course any profits should go to the poor. Please
write during this week to me at St. George's Museum, Walkley,


                         _From_ CANON FARRAR.

                                                 _October 29th, 1879._

I am much obliged to you for your courtesy in sending me the letters. I
am not, however, inclined to enter into any controversy, being painfully
overwhelmed with the very duties which Mr. Ruskin seems to think that we
don't do--looking after the material and religious interests of the
sick, the suffering, the hungry, the drunken, and the extremely

                                             Yours very truly,
                                                       F. W. FARRAR.


                                      SHEFFIELD, _October 17th, 1879_.

DEAR MR. MALLESON,--I am sincerely interested and moved by your history
of your laborious life--and shall be entirely glad to leave the
completed volume as your property, provided always you sell it to no
publisher--but take just percentage on the editions: and provided also
that an edition be issued of the letters themselves in their present
simple form of which the profits, if any, shall be for the poor of the
district.[30] It would lower your position in the whole matter if it
could be hinted that I had written the letters with any semi-purpose of
serving my friend. On the other hand you will have just and honourable
right to the profits of the completed edition which your labour and
judgment will have made possible and guided into the most serviceable

     [30] This, of course, with Mr. Allen's concurrence, is my

I am thankful to see that the letters read clearly and easily, and
contain all that it was in my mind to get said; that nothing can be
possibly more right in every way than the printing and binding--nor more
courteous and firm than your preface.

Yes--there _will_ be a chasm to cross--a tauriformis
Aufidus[31]--greater than Rubicon, and the roar of it for many a year
has been heard in the distance, through the gathering fog on earth more

     [31] Sic tauriformis volvitur Aufidus,
          Qui regna Dauni præfluit Appuli
              Quum sævit, horrendamque cultis
                Diluviem meditatur agris.

                                   --HOR. _Carm._ iv. 14.

The River of Spiritual Death in this world--and entrance to Purgatory in
the other, come down to us.

When will the feet of the Priests be dipped in the still brim of the
water? Jordan overflows his banks already.

       *       *       *       *       *

When you have got your large edition with its correspondence into form,
I should like to read the sheets as they are issued, and put merely
letters of reference, _a_, _b_, and _c_, to be taken up in a short
epilogue. But I don't want to do or say anything till you have all in
perfect readiness for publication. I should merely add my reference
letters in the margin, and the shortest possible notes at the end.

Please send me ten more of these private ones for my own friends.

                                    Ever affectionately yours,
                                                         J. RUSKIN.


                 _Extract of a Letter from the late_

                         MISS SUSANNA BEEVER.

   ("The Younger Lady of the Thwaite, Coniston," to whom Mr. Ruskin
                    dedicated "Frondes Agrestes.")

                                                 _October 28th, 1879._

DEAR MR. MALLESON,--My sister has asked me to write and thank you for
two copies of Mr. Ruskin's Letters, which you have been so good as to
send to her. It is curious that before the post came this morning I had
been wondering whether I might ask you for a copy. * * * I have already
read these deeply interesting Letters five times. They are like the
"foam globes of leaven," I might say they have exercised my mind very
much. Things in them which at first seemed rather startling, prove on
closer examination to be full of deep truth. The suggestions in them
lead to "great searchings of heart." There is much with which I entirely
agree; much over which to ponder. What an insight into human nature is
shown in the remark that though we are so ready to call ourselves
"miserable sinners," we resent being accused of any special fault. * * *


                                                 _November 7th, 1879._

I am so glad we understand each other now and that you will carry out
your plan quietly.

I think you should correct the present little book by my revise, and
print enough for whatever private circulation the members of the meeting
wish, but that it should not be made public till well after the large
book is out. For which I shall look with deepest interest.


                                                _November 19th, 1879._

MY DEAR MALLESON,--I have not been able to answer a word lately, being
quite unusually busy in France--and you never remember that it takes
_me_ as long to write a chapter as you to write a book, and tries me
more to do it--so that I am sick of the feel of a pen this many a day.
I'm delighted to hear of your popularity,[32] being sure that all you
advise people to do will be kind and right. I am not surprised at the
popularity, but I wonder that you have not had some nasty envious

     [32] Meaning in the press notices of the Editor's "Life of

     [33] Seventeen _very good_, five _good_, five _fair_, six _bad_,
     two _nasty, envious_!--ED.

I like the impudence of these Scotch brats.[34] Do they suppose it would
have been either pleasure or honour to me to come and lecture there? It
is perhaps as much their luck as mine that they changed their minds
about it. I shall be down at Brantwood soon (_D.V._). Poor Mr. Sly's[35]
death is a much more troublous thing to me than Glasgow Elections.

     [34] Glasgow University.

     [35] Of the Waterhead, Coniston.


                                                  _January 5th, 1880._

A Happy New Year to you. If I may judge or guess by the efforts made to
draw me into the business, it is likely to be a busy one for you! Will
you kindly now send me back my old book on Usury? I've got a letter
(which for his lordship's sake had better never been written) from the
Bishop of Manchester, and may want to quote a word or two of my back
letter. I send the letter with my reply this month to the


                                                  _January 7th, 1880._

So many thanks for your kind little note and the book which I have
received quite safely; and many more thanks for taking all the enemies'
fire off me and leaving me quiet. I've been all this morning at work on
finches and buntings; but I must give the Bishop a turn to-morrow. This
weather takes my little wits out of me wofully; but I am always
affectionately yours,

                                                                J. R.


                                                     _May 10th, 1880._

MY DEAR MALLESON,--Yes, the omission of the 'Mr.' meant much change in
all my feelings towards you and estimates of you--for which change,
believe me, I am more glad and thankful than I can well tell you. Not
but that of course I always felt your essential goodness and rightness
of mind, but I did not at all understand the scope of them.

And you will have the reward of the Visitation of the Sick, though every
day I am more sure of the mistake made by good people universally--in
trying to pull fallen people up--instead of keeping yet safe ones from
tumbling after them, and always spending their pains on the worst
instead of the best material. If they want to be able to save the lost
like Christ, let them first be sure they can say with Him, "Of those
Thou gavest Me I have lost none."

                                    Ever affectionately yours,
                                                         J. RUSKIN.

The 'Epilogue's' an awful bother to me in this May time! I have not done
a word yet, but you shall have it before the week is out.


                                                           _April 17._

The letters seem all very nice--I shall have very little to
say about them, except to explain what you observe and have been
misunderstood.... Of course my notes shall be sent to you and added to
when you see need. But I cannot do it quickly.


                                                     _April 14, 1880._

Thanks for nice new proofs. I haven't found any false references, but I
didn't look. I'll have all verified by my secretary. I'm busy with an
article on modern novels and don't feel a bit pious just now; so the
responses have hung fire.


                                                              _May 9._

You are really very good about this, and shall have the notes (_D.V._)
within a fortnight. The Scott could not be put off, being promised for
June 19, _Nineteenth Century_, and I could not do novels and sermons
together. I don't think the notes will be long. The letters seem to be
mostly compliments or small objections not worth noticing.


                                                     _May 14th, 1880._

I've just done--yesterday with Scott, and took up the letters for the
first time this morning seriously.

I had never seen _yours_ at all when I wrote last. I fell first on Mr.
----, whom I read with some attention, and commented on with little
favour; went on to the next, and remained content with that taste till I
had done my Scott.

I have this morning been reading your own, on which I very earnestly
congratulate you. God knows it isn't because they are friendly or
complimentary, but because you _do_ see what I mean, and people hardly
ever do--and I think it needs very considerable power and feeling to
forgive and understand as you do. You have said everything _I_ want to
say, and much more--except on the one point of excommunication, which
will be the chief, almost the only subject of my final note.

I write in haste to excuse myself for my former note.

                        Ever affectionately
                             and gratefully yours,
                                            J. RUSKIN.

(NOTE.--A legal friend remarks that in his opinion I should refrain from
printing _extracts_ from letters, and always print the whole; or,
indeed, in the present case, the whole series of letters, lest it should
be suspected that I am making a self-indulgent selection only of the
good words which Mr. Ruskin is kind enough to use in his communications
with me. Let me here say, however, that had there been in all these
letters any which conveyed censure, stricture, or blame of any kind, I
should not have withheld my hand from including them. But no such
letters ever came to me. Mr. Ruskin is the very pink of courtesy with
his friends, and he _may_ have suppressed remarks which he thought might
wound me. But I am reproducing here not my friend's secret thoughts, but
only those of his letters which remain in my possession.--EDITOR.)


                                                     _May 26th, 1880._

I'm at work on the 'Epilogue,' but it takes more trouble than I
expected. I see there's a letter from you which I leave unopened, for
fear there should be anything in it to put me in a bad temper, which you
might easily do without meaning it. You shall have the 'Epilogue' as
soon as I can get it done; but you won't much like it, for there are
bits in the Clergymen's letters that have put my bristles up. They ought
either to have said nothing about me, or known more.

I should give that rascally Bishop a dressing "au sérieux," only you
wouldn't like to godfather it, so I'll keep it for somewhere else.[36]

     [36] Needless to say that in this energetic language, the Master of
     the Company of St. George is referring to nothing whatever in the
     stainless character of the great Bishop, of whom it is justly
     recorded in the inscription on his monument in Manchester Cathedral
     that "he won all hearts by opening to them his own;" except only in
     the matter of house-rent and interest of money, opinions which the
     Bishop shared with the great mass of civilized humanity.


                                                     _June 7th, 1880._

Your letter is a relief to my mind, and shall not be taken advantage of
for more delay. The wet day or two would get all done: but I simply
can't think of anything but the sun while it shines.

And I've had second, third, and seventh thoughts about several things:
as it is coming out I believe it will be a useful contribution to the

I shall get it in the copyist's hand on Monday, and as it's one of my
girl secretaries, I shall be teased till it's done, so it's safe for the
end of the week (_D.V._). I am sadly afraid she'll make me cut out some
of the spiciest bits: the girl secretaries are always allowed to put
their pens through anything they choose. Please drop the 'Mr.'; it is a
matter of friendship, not as if there were any of different powers. God
only knows of higher and lower, and, as far as I can judge, is likely to
put ministry to the sick much above public letters.

Thanks for note of Menyanthes Trifoliata.

I haven't seen it, scarcely moving at present beyond my wood or garden.


                                                    _June 13th, 1880._

You are really very good to put up with all that vicious Epilogue. But
it won't discredit _you_ in the end, whatever it may do me. I hope much

I will send you to-morrow the Lincoln, or, possibly, York MS. to look
at. You will find the Litany following the Quicunque vult, and on the
leaf marked by me 83, at the top the passage I began quotation with. It
will need a note; for _domptnum_ is, I believe, strong Yorkshire Latin
for Donum Apostolicum, not Dominum.

The _e_ in Ecclesie for _æ_ is the proper form in medieval Latin.

The calendar and Litany are invaluable in their splendid lists of
English saints, and the entire book unreplaceable, so mind you lock it
up carefully!


There's a good deal of interest in the enclosed layman's letter, I
think. Would you like to print any bits of it? I cannot quite make up my
mind if it's worth or not.


                                                    _June 27th, 1880._

The 'Epilogue' is all but done to-day, and shall be sent by railway
guard to-morrow (_D.V._), with a book which will further interest you
and your good secretary. It is as fine an example of the coloured print
Prayer-Book as I have seen, date 1507, and full of examples of the way
Romanism had ruined itself at that date. But it may contain in legible
form some things of interest. I never could make out so much as its
Calendar; but the songs about the saints and rhymed hours are very
pretty. Though the illuminations are all ridiculous and one or two
frightful, most are more or less pretty, and nearly all interesting. You
can keep it any time, but you must promise me not to show it to anybody
who does not know how to handle a book. * * *

(NOTE.--I may mention here, once for all, that wherever there are
omissions left in Mr. Ruskin's letters, there is nothing of interest or
importance in those passages for any one but for the receiver of that


                                                    _July 15th, 1880._

* * * It is a further light to me, on your curious differences from most
clergymen, very wonderful and venerable to me, that you should
understand Byron!


                                                          _June 25th._

DEAR MALLESON,--No, I don't want the letter printed in the least; but
it ought to have interested you very differently. It is by a much older
man than I, who has never heard of our letters, but has been a very
useful and influential person in his own parish, and is a practical and
acceptable contributor to sporting papers. He is an able lawyer also,
and knows far better than I do and far better than most clergymen know,
what could really be done in their country parishes if they had a mind.

The bit of manuscript is perfectly fac-similed by your niece, but I
can't read it: and it will be much better that you mark the places you
wish certification about, and that I then send the book up to the
British Museum, and have the whole made clear. The _dompt_ is a very
important matter indeed.

I have got the last bit of epilogue fairly on foot this morning, and
can promise it on Monday all well.

                                  Ever affectionately yours,
                                                         J. R.


                                                   _April 30th, 1881._

DEAR MALLESON,--It will be many a day before I recover yet--if ever--but
with caution I hope not to go wild again, and to get what power belongs
to my age slowly back. When were you in the same sort of danger? Let me
very strongly warn you from the whirlpool edge--the going down in the
middle is gloomier than I can tell you.

But I shall thankfully see you and your friend here. Visiting is out of
the question for me. I can bear no fatigue nor excitement away from my
home. I pay visits no more--anywhere (even in old times few). It is
always a great gladness to me when young students care about old
books--and I remember as a duty the feeling I used to have in getting a
Missal, even after I was past a good many other pleasures. You made such
good use of that book too, that I am happy in yielding to any wish of
yours about it, so your young friend[37] shall have it if he likes. The
marked price is quite a fair market one for it, though you might look
and wait long before such a book came _into_ the market. The British
Museum people were hastily and superciliously wrong in calling it a
common book. It is not a _showy_ one; but there are few more interesting
or more perfect service books in English manuscript, and the Museum
people buy cart-loads of big folios that are not worth the shelf room.

                                    Ever affectionately yours,
                                                         J. RUSKIN.

     [37] Rev. J. R. Haslam, now Vicar of Thwaites, Cumberland. See


                                                   _April 23rd, 1881._

MY DEAR MALLESON,--These passages of description and illustration of the
general aspect of Ephesus in St. Paul's time seem to me much more
forcibly and artistically written than anything you did in the "Life of
Christ"; and I could not suggest any changes to you which you could now
carry out under the conditions of time to revise, except a more clear
statement of the Ephesian goddess.

[I really do not think Mr. Ruskin would wish that _all_ he wrote in the
next sentence about the Ephesian Diana should be placed before the
public eye. But I resume in the middle of a sentence.]

... practically at last and chiefly of the Diabolic Suction of the
Usurer; and her temple, which you luckily liken to the Bank of England,
was in fact what that establishment would be as the recognised place of
pious pilgrimage for all Jews, infidels, or prostitutes in the realm of
England. You could not conceive the real facts of these degraded
worships of the mixed Greek and Asiatic races, unless you gave a good
year's work to the study of the decline of Greek art in the 3rd and 4th
centuries B.C.

Charles Newton's pride in discovering Mausolus, and engineers' whistling
over his Asiatic mummy, have entirely corrupted and thwarted the uses
of the British Museum Art Galleries. The Drum of that Diana Temple is
barbarous rubbish, not worth tenpence a ton; and if I shewed you a
photograph of the head of Mausolus without telling you what it was, I
will undertake that you saw with candid eyes in it nothing more than the
shaggy poll of a common gladiator. But your book will swim with the
tide. It is best so.



I'm not in the least anxious about my MS., and shall only be glad if you
like to keep it long enough to read thoroughly. There must surely be
published copies of such extant, though, and worth enquiring after?

Partly the fine weather, partly the heat, partly a fit of Scott and
Byron have stopped the Epilogue utterly for the time! You cannot be in
any hurry for it surely? There's plenty to go on printing with.

I don't think you will find the n's and m's much bother; the
contractions are the great nuisance. But I do think this development of
Gothic writing one of the oddest absurdities of mankind.

The illumination of "the fool hath said in his heart," snapping his
fingers, or more accurately making the indecent sign called "the fig" by
the Italians, is a very unusual one in this MS., and peculiarly English.


There is not the least use in my looking over these sheets: you
probably know more about Athens than I do, and what I do know is out of
and in Smith's Dictionary, where you can find it without trouble.

For the rest you must please always remember what I told you once for
all, that you could never interest _me_ by writing about people, either
at Athens or Ephesus, but only of those of the parish of

That new translation could not come out well; that much I know without
looking at it. One must believe the Bible before one understands it, (I
mean, believe that it is understandable) and one must understand before
one can translate it. Two stages in advance of your Twenty-Four
Co-operative Tyndales!


                                                           _26th May._

DEAR MALLESON,--I should be delighted to see Canon Weston and you any
day: but I want J---- to be at home, and she is going to town next week
for a month, and will be fussy till she goes. She promises to be back
faithfully within the week after that--within the Sunday, I mean. Fix
any day or any choice of days if one is wet after the said Sunday, and
we shall both be in comfort ready.

If Canon Weston or you are going away anywhere, come any day before that
suits you.

In divinity matters I am obliged to stop--for my sins, I suppose. But it
seems I am almost struck mad when I think earnestly about them, and I'm
only reading now natural history or nature.

Never mind Autograph people, they are never worth the scratch of a pen.

                                     Ever affectionately yours,
                                                            J. R.


                                                  _August 26th, 1881._

I'm in furious bad humour with the weather, and cannot receive just now
at all, having had infinitely too much of indoors, and yet unable to
draw for darkness, or write for temper. But I will see Mr. ---- if he
has any other reason than curiosity for wishing to see me--what does he
want with me?


                                                       _21st October._

I am fairly well, but have twenty times the work in hand that I am able
for; and read--Virgil, Plato, and Hesoid, when I have time! But
assuredly no modern books; least of all my friends', lest I should have
either to flatter or offend. Still less will I have to say to young men
proposing to become clergymen. I have distinctly told them their
business is at present--to dig, not preach.

Let your young friend read his Fors. All that he needs of me is in that.


                                                   ANNECY, SAVOY,
                                                _November 15th, 1882._

I have got your kind little note of the 11th yesterday, and am entirely
glad to hear of your papers on the Duddon. I shall be very happy indeed
if you find any pleasure in remembering our walk to the tarn.[38] I hope
I know now better how to manage myself in all ways, and we may still
have some pleasant talks, my health not failing me.

     [38] Goat's Water, under the Old Man of Coniston.


                                                TALLOIRE, SWITZERLAND,
                                                _November 20th, 1882._

MY DEAR MALLESON,--I am sincerely grieved that you begin to feel the
effect of overwork; but as this is the first warning you have had, and
as you are wise enough to obey it, I trust that the three months' rest
will restore you all your usual powers on the conditions of using them
with discretion, and not rising to write at two in the morning.

I am very thankful to find in my own case that a quiet spring of energy
filters back into the old well-heads--if one does not bucket it out as
fast as it comes in.

But my last illnesses seriously impaired my walking powers, and I'm
afraid if you came to Switzerland I should be very jealous of you.

Certainly it is not in this season a country for an invalid, and I
believe you cannot be safer than by English firesides with no books to
work at nor parishioners to visit.

                                    Ever affectionately yours,
                                                         J. RUSKIN.


                                                 _January 22nd, 1883._

DEAR MALLESON,--I am heartily glad to hear that you are better, and that
you are going to lead the Vicar of Wakefield's quiet life. I am not
stronger myself, but think it right to keep hold of the Oxford Helm, as
long as they care to trust it to me.

I've entirely given up reviewing, but if the Editor of the
_Contemporary_ would send me Mr. Peek's Article, when set up, I might
perhaps send a note or two on it, which the real reviewer might use or
not at his pleasure. In the meantime it would greatly oblige me if the
Editor could give me the reference to an old article of mine on Herbert
Spencer, (or at least on a saying of his), which I cannot find where I
thought it was in the _Nineteenth Century_, and suppose therefore to
have been in the _Contemporary_ before the _Nineteenth Century_ Athena
arose out of its cleft head.

The Article had a lot about Coniston in it, but I quite forget what else
it was about. I think it must have been just before the separation.
Kindest regards and congratulations on your convalescence from all here.

                                    Ever affectionately yours,
                                                         J. RUSKIN.


                                      BRANTWOOD, _February 6th, 1883_.

MY DEAR MALLESON,--I'm nearly beside myself with a sudden rush of work
on my return from abroad, and resumption of Oxford duties, and I simply
_cannot_ yet think over the business of the letters, the rather that _I_
certainly never would re-publish most of those clergymen's letters at

My own were a gift to you, and I am quite ready to print _them_ if you
like, and let you have half profits, the St. George's Guild having the
other. But that could not be for some time yet.

                                    Ever affectionately yours,
                                                         J. RUSKIN.

                        EPILOGUE BY MR. RUSKIN

                                     BRANTWOOD, CONISTON, _June 1880_.

MY DEAR MALLESON,--I have glanced at the proofs you send; and _can_ do
no more than glance, even if it seemed to me desirable that I should do
more,--which, after said glance, it does in no wise. Let me remind you
of what it is absolutely necessary that the readers of the book should
clearly understand--that I wrote these Letters at your request, to be
read and discussed at the meeting of a private society of clergymen. I
declined then to be present at the discussion, and I decline still. You
afterwards asked leave to print the Letters, to which I replied that
they were yours, for whatever use you saw good to make of them:
afterwards your plans expanded, while my own notion remained precisely
what it had been--that the discussion should have been private, and kept
within the limits of the society, and that its conclusions, if any,
should have been announced in a few pages of clear print, for the
parishioners' exclusive reading.

I am, of course, flattered by the wider course you have obtained for the
Letters, but am not in the slightest degree interested by the debate
upon them, nor by any religious debates whatever, undertaken without
serious conviction that there is a jot wrong in matters as they are, or
serious resolution to make them a tittle better. Which, so far as I can
read the minds of your correspondents, appears to me the substantial
state of them.

One thing I cannot pass without protest--the quantity of talk about the
writer of the Letters. What I am, or am not, is of no moment whatever to
the matters in hand. I observe with comfort, or at least with
complacency, that on the strength of a couple of hours' talk, at a time
when I was thinking chiefly of the weatherings of slate you were good
enough to show me above Goat's Water, you would have ventured to baptize
me in the little lake--as not a goat, but a sheep. The best I can be
sure of, myself, is that I am no wolf, and have never aspired to the
dignity even of a Dog of the Lord.

You told me, if I remember rightly, that one of the members of the
original meeting denounced me as an arch-heretic[39]--meaning,
doubtless, an arch-pagan; for a heretic, or sect-maker, is of all terms
of reproach the last that can be used of me. And I think he should have
been answered that it was precisely as an arch-pagan that I ventured to
request a more intelligible and more unanimous account of the Christian
Gospel from its preachers.

     [39] Only a heretic!--ED.

If anything in the Letters offended those of you who hold me a brother,
surely it had been best to tell me between ourselves, or to tell it to
the Church, or to let me be Anathema Maranatha in peace,--in any case, I
must at present so abide, correcting only the mistakes about myself
which have led to graver ones about the things I wanted to speak of.[40]

     [40] I may perhaps be pardoned for vindicating at least my
     arithmetic, which, with Bishop Colenso, I rather pride myself upon.
     One of your correspondents greatly doubts my having heard five
     thousand assertors of evangelical principles (Catholic-absolvent or
     Protestant-detergent are virtually the same). I am now sixty years
     old, and for forty-five of them was in church at least once on the
     Sunday,--say once a month also in afternoons,--and you have above
     three thousand church services. When I am abroad I am often in
     half-a-dozen churches in the course of a single day, and never lose
     a chance of listening to anything that is going on. Add the
     conversations pursued, not unearnestly, with every sort of reverend
     person I can get to talk to me--from the Bishop of Strasburg (as
     good a specimen of a town bishop as I have known), with whom I was
     studying ecstatic paintings in the year 1850--down to the simplest
     travelling tinker inclined Gospelwards, whom I perceive to be
     sincere, and your correspondent will perceive that my rapid
     numerical expression must be far beneath the truth. He subjoins his
     more rational doubt of my acquaintance with many town missionaries;
     to which I can only answer, that as I do not live in town, nor set
     up for a missionary myself, my spiritual advantages have certainly
     not been great in that direction. I simply assert that of the few I
     have known,--beginning with Mr. Spurgeon, under whom I sat with
     much edification for a year or two,--I have not known any such
     teaching as I speak of.

The most singular one, perhaps, in all the Letters is that of Mr. ----,
that I do not attach enough weight to antiquity. My reply to it is
partly written already, with reference to the wishes of some other of
your correspondents to know more of my reasons for finding fault with
the English Liturgy.

If people are taught to use the Liturgy rightly and reverently, it will
bring them all good; and for some thirty years of my life I used to read
it always through to my servant and myself, if we had no Protestant
church to go to, in Alpine or Italian villages. One can always tacitly
pray of it what one wants, and let the rest pass. But, as I have grown
older, and watched the decline in the Christian faith of all nations, I
have got more and more suspicious of the effect of this particular form
of words on the truthfulness of the English mind (now fast becoming a
salt which has lost his savour, and is fit only to be trodden under
foot of men). And during the last ten years, in which my position at
Oxford has compelled me to examine what authority there was for the code
of prayer, of which the University is now so ashamed that it no more
dares compel its youths so much as to hear, much less to utter it, I got
necessarily into the habit of always looking to the original forms of
the prayers of the fully developed Christian Church. Nor did I think it
a mere chance which placed in my own possession a manuscript of the
perfect Church service of the thirteenth century,[41] written by the
monks of the Sainte Chapelle for St. Louis; together with one of the
same date, written in England, probably for the Diocese of Lincoln;
adding some of the Collects, in which it corresponds with St. Louis's,
and the Latin hymns so much beloved by Dante, with the appointed music
for them.

     [41] See Appendix.

And my wonder has been greater every hour, since I examined closely the
text of these and other early books, that in any state of declining, or
captive, energy, the Church of England should have contented itself with
a service which cast out, from beginning to end, all these intensely
spiritual and passionate utterances of chanted prayer (the whole body,
that is to say, of the authentic _Christian_ Psalms), and in adopting
what it timidly preserved of the Collects, mangled or blunted them down
to the exact degree which would make them either unintelligible or
inoffensive--so vague that everybody might use them, or so pointless
that nobody could be offended by them. For a special instance: The
prayer for "our bishops and curates, and all congregations committed to
their charge," is, in the Lincoln Service-book, "for our bishop, and all
congregations committed to _his_ charge." The change from singular to
plural seems a slight one. But it suffices to take the eyes of the
people off their own bishop into infinite space; to change a prayer
which was intended to be uttered in personal anxiety and affection, into
one for the general good of the Church, of which nobody could judge, and
for which nobody would particularly care; and, finally, to change a
prayer to which the answer, if given, would be visible, into one of
which nobody could tell whether it were answered or not.

In the Collects, the change, though verbally slight, is thus tremendous
in issue. But in the Litany--word and thought go all wild together. The
first prayer of the Litany in the Lincoln Service-book is for the Pope
and all ranks beneath him, implying a very noteworthy piece of
theology--that the Pope might err in religious matters, and that the
prayer of the humblest servant of God would be useful to him:--"Ut
Dompnum Apostolicum, et omnes gradus ecclesie in sancta religione
conservare digneris." Meaning that whatever errors particular persons
might, and must, fall into, they prayed God to keep the Pope right, and
the collective testimony and conduct of the ranks below him. Then
follows the prayer for their own bishop and _his_ flock--then for the
king and the princes (chief lords), that they (not all nations) might be
kept in concord--and then for _our_ bishops and abbots,--the Church of
England proper; every one of these petitions being direct, limited, and
personally heartfelt;--and then this lovely one for themselves:--

"Ut obsequium servitutis nostre rationabile facias."--"That thou wouldst
make the obedience of our service reasonable" ("which is your reasonable

     [42] See in the Appendix for more of these beautiful prayers.--ED.

This glorious prayer is, I believe, accurately an "early English" one.
It is not in the St. Louis Litany, nor in a later elaborate French
fourteenth century one; but I find it softened in an Italian MS. of the
fifteenth century into "ut nosmet ipsos in tuo sancto servitio
confortare et conservare digneris,"--"that thou wouldst deign to keep
and comfort us ourselves in thy sacred service" (the comfort, observe,
being here asked for whether reasonable or not!); and in the best and
fullest French service-book I have, printed at Rouen in 1520, it
becomes, "ut congregationes omnium sanctorum in tuo sancto servitio
conservare digneris;" while victory as well as concord is asked for the
king and the princes,--thus leading the way to that for our own Queen's
victory over all her enemies, a prayer which might now be advisedly
altered into one that she--and in her, the monarchy of England--might
find more fidelity in their friends.

I give one more example of the corruption of our Prayer-Book, with
reference to the objections taken by some of your correspondents to the
distinction implied in my Letters between the Persons of the Father and
the Christ.

The "Memoria de Sancta Trinitate," in the St. Louis service-book, runs

"Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui dedisti famulis tuis in confessione
vere fidei eterne Trinitatis gloriam agnoscere, et in potentia
majestatis adorare unitatem, quesumus ut ejus fidei firmitate ab omnibus
semper muniemur adversis. Qui vivis et regnas Deus, per omnia secula
seculorum. Amen."

"Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given to Thy servants, in
confession of true faith to recognize the glory of the Eternal Trinity,
and in the power of Majesty to pray to the Unity; we ask that by the
firmness of that faith we may be always defended from all adverse
things, who livest and reignest God through all ages. Amen."

Turning to our Collect, we find we have first slipped in the word "us"
before "Thy servants," and by that little insertion have slipped in the
squire and his jockey, and the public-house landlord--and any one else
who may chance to have been coaxed, swept, or threatened into church on
Trinity Sunday, and required the entire company of them to profess
themselves servants of God, and believers in the mystery of the Trinity.
And we think we have done God a service!

"Grace." Not a word about grace in the original. You don't believe by
having grace, but by having wit.

"To acknowledge." "Agnosco" is to recognize, not to acknowledge. To
_see_ that there are three lights in a chandelier is a great deal more
than to acknowledge that they are there.

"To worship." "Adorare" is to pray to, not to worship. You may worship a
mere magistrate; but you _pray_ to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

The last sentence in the English is too horribly mutilated to be dealt
with in any patience. The meaning of the great old collect is that by
the shield of that faith we may quench all the fiery darts of the devil.
The English prayer means, if it means anything, "Please keep us in our
faith without our taking any trouble; and, besides, please don't let us
lose our money, nor catch cold."

"Who livest and reignest." Right; but how many of any extant or instant
congregations understand what the two words mean? That God is a living
God, not a dead Law; and that He is a reigning God, putting wrong things
to rights, and that, sooner or later, with a strong hand and a rod of
iron; and not at all with a soft sponge and warm water, washing
everybody as clean as a baby every Sunday morning, whatever dirty work
they may have been about all the week.

On which latter supposition your modern Liturgy, in so far as it has
supplemented instead of corrected the old one, has entirely modelled
itself,--producing in its first address to the congregation before the
Almighty precisely the faultfullest and foolishest piece of English
language that I know in the whole compass of English or American
literature. In the seventeen lines of it (as printed in my
old-fashioned, large-print prayer-book), there are seven times over two
words for one idea.

    1. Acknowledge and confess.
    2. Sins and wickedness.
    3. Dissemble nor cloke.
    4. Goodness and mercy.
    5. Assemble and meet.
    6. Requisite and necessary.
    7. Pray and beseech.

There is, indeed, a shade of difference in some of these ideas for a
good scholar, none for a general congregation;[43] and what difference
they can guess at merely muddles their heads: to acknowledge sin is
indeed different from confessing it, but it cannot be done at a minute's
notice; and goodness is a different thing from mercy, but it is by no
means God's infinite goodness that forgives our badness, but that judges

     [43] The only explanation ever offered for this exuberant wordiness
     is that if worshippers did not understand one term they would the
     other, and in some cases, in the Exhortation and elsewhere, one
     word is of Latin and the other of Saxon derivation.[44] But this is
     surely a very feeble excuse for bad composition. Of a very
     different kind is that beautiful climax which is reached in the
     three admirably chosen pairs of words in the Prayer for the
     Parliament, "peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and

     [44] The repetition of synonymous terms is of very frequent
     occurrence in sixteenth century writing, as "for ever and aye,"
     "Time and the hour ran through the roughest day" (Macbeth, i. 3).

"The faultfullest," I said, "and the foolishest." After using fourteen
words where seven would have done, what is it that the whole speech
gets said with its much speaking? This Morning Service of all England
begins with the assertion that the Scripture moveth us in sundry places
to confess our sins before God. _Does_ it so? Have your congregations
ever been referred to those sundry places? Or do they take the assertion
on trust, or remain under the impression that, unless with the advantage
of their own candour, God must remain ill-informed on the subject of
their sins?

"That we should not dissemble nor cloke them." _Can_ we then? Are these
grown-up congregations of the enlightened English Church in the
nineteenth century still so young in their nurseries that the "Thou,
God, seest me" is still not believed by them if they get under the bed?

Let us look up the sundry moving passages referred to.

(I suppose myself a simple lamb of the flock, and only able to use my
English Bible.)

I find in my concordance (confess and confession together) forty-two
occurrences of the word. Sixteen of these, including John's confession
that he was not the Christ, and the confession of the faithful fathers
that they were pilgrims on the earth, do indeed move us strongly to
confess Christ before men. Have you ever taught your congregations what
that confession means? They are ready enough to confess Him in church,
that is to say, in their own private synagogue. Will they in Parliament?
Will they in a ball-room? Will they in a shop? Sixteen of the texts are
to enforce their doing _that_.

The next most important one (1 Tim. vi. 13) refers to Christ's own good
confession, which I suppose was not of His sins, but of His obedience.
How many of your congregations can make any such kind of confession, or
wish to make it?

The eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth (1 Kings viii. 33, 2 Chron.
vi. 26, Heb. xiii. 15) speak of confessing thankfully that God is God
(and not a putrid plasma nor a theory of development), and the
twenty-first (Job xl. 14) speaks of God's own confession, that no doubt
we are the people, and that wisdom shall die with us, and on what
conditions He will make it.

There remain twenty-one texts which do speak of the confession of our
sins--very moving ones indeed--and Heaven grant that some day the
British public may be moved by them.

1. The first is Lev. v. 5, "He shall confess that he hath sinned _in
that thing_." And if you can get any soul of your congregation to say he
has sinned in _any_thing, he may do it in two words for one if he likes,
and it will yet be good liturgy.

2. The second is indeed general--Lev. xvi. 21: the command that the
whole nation should afflict its soul on the great day of atonement once
a year. The Church of England, I believe, enjoins no such unpleasant
ceremony. Her festivals are passed by her people often indeed in the
extinction of their souls, but by no means in their intentional

3. The third, fourth, and fifth (Lev. xxvi. 40, Numb. v. 7, Nehem. i. 6)
refer all to national humiliation for definite idolatry, accompanied
with an entire abandonment of that idolatry, and of idolatrous persons.
How soon _that_ form of confession is likely to find a place in the
English congregations the defences of their main idol, mammon, in the
vilest and cruellest shape of it--usury--with which this book has been
defiled, show very sufficiently.

6. The sixth is Psalm xxxii. 5--virtually the whole of that psalm, which
does, indeed, entirely refer to the greater confession, once for all
opening the heart to God, which can be by no means done fifty-two times
a year, and which, once done, puts men into a state in which they will
never again say there is no health in them; nor that their hearts are
desperately wicked; but will obey for ever the instantly following
order, "Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous, and shout for joy, all ye
that are true of heart."

7. The seventh is the one confession in which I can myself
share:--"After the way which they call heresy, so worship I the Lord
God of my fathers."

8. The eighth, James v. 16, tells us to confess our faults--not to God,
but "one to another"--a practice not favoured by English
catechumens--(by the way, what _do_ you all mean by "auricular"
confession--confession that can be heard? and is the Protestant
pleasanter form one that can't be?)

9. The ninth is that passage of St. John (i. 9), the favourite
evangelical text, which is read and preached by thousands of false
preachers every day, without once going on to read its great companion,
"Beloved, if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and
knoweth all things; but if our heart condemn us _not_, then have we
confidence toward God." Make your people understand the second text, and
they will understand the first. At present you leave them understanding

And the entire body of the remaining texts is summed in Joshua vii. 19
and Ezra x. 11, in which, whether it be Achan, with his Babylonish
garment, or the people of Israel, with their Babylonish lusts, the
meaning of confession is simply what it is to every brave boy, girl,
man, and woman, who knows the meaning of the word "honour" before God or
man--namely, to say what they have done wrong, and to take the
punishment of it (not to get it blanched over by any means), and to do
it no more--which is so far from being a tone of mind generally enforced
either by the English, or any other extant Liturgy, that, though all my
maids are exceedingly pious, and insist on the privilege of going to
church as a quite inviolable one, I think it a scarcely to be hoped for
crown and consummation of virtue in them that they should tell me when
they have broken a plate; and I should expect to be met only with looks
of indignation and astonishment if I ventured to ask one of them how she
had spent her Sunday afternoon.

"Without courage," said Sir Walter Scott, "there is no truth; and
without truth there is no virtue." The sentence would have been itself
more true if Sir Walter had written "candour" for "truth," for it is
possible to be true in insolence, or true in cruelty. But in looking
back from the ridges of the Hill Difficulty in my own past life, and in
all the vision that has been given me of the wanderings in the ways of
others--this, of all principles, has become to me surest--that the first
virtue to be required of man is frankness of heart and lip: and I
believe that every youth of sense and honour, putting himself to
faithful question, would feel that he had the devil for confessor, if he
had not his father or his friend.

That a clergyman should ever be so truly the friend of his parishioners
as to deserve their confidence from childhood upwards, may be flouted as
a sentimental ideal; but he is assuredly only their enemy in showing his
Lutheran detestation of the sale of indulgences by broadcasting these
gratis from his pulpit.

The inconvenience and unpleasantness of a catechism concerning itself
with the personal practice as well as the general theory of duty, are
indeed perfectly conceivable by me; yet I am not convinced that such
manner of catechism would therefore be less medicinal; and during the
past ten years it has often been matter of amazed thought with me, while
our President at Corpus read prayers to the chapel benches, what might
by this time have been the effect on the learning as well as the creed
of the University, if, forty years ago, our stern old Dean Gaisford, of
the House of Christ, instead of sending us to chapel as to the house of
correction, when we missed a lecture, had inquired, before he allowed us
to come to chapel at all, whether we were gamblers, harlot-mongers, or
in concealed and selfish debt.

I observe with extreme surprise in the preceding letters the
unconsciousness of some of your correspondents, that there ever was such
a thing as discipline in the Christian Church. Indeed, the last
wholesome instance of it I can remember was when my own great-great
uncle Maitland lifted Lady ---- from his altar rails, and led her back
to her seat before the congregation, when she offered to take the
Sacrament, being at enmity with her son.[45] But I believe a few hours
honestly spent by any clergyman on his Church history would show him
that the Church's confidence in her prayer has been always exactly
proportionate to the strictness of her discipline; that her present
fright at being caught praying by a chemist or an electrician, results
mainly from her having allowed her twos and threes gathered in the name
of Christ to become sixes and sevens gathered in the name of Belial;
and that therefore her now needfullest duty is to explain to her
stammering votaries, extremely doubtful as they are of the effect of
their supplications either on politics or the weather, that although
Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, he had them better
under command; and that while the effectual fervent prayer of a
righteous man availeth much, the formal and lukewarm one of an
iniquitous man availeth--much the other way.

     [45] In some of the country districts of Scotland the right of the
     Church to interfere with the lives of private individuals is still
     exercised. Only two years ago, a wealthy gentleman farmer was
     rebuked by the "Kirk Session" of the Dissenting Church to which he
     belonged, for infidelity to his wife.

     At the Scottish half-yearly Communion the ceremony of "fencing the
     tables" used to be observed; that is, turning away all those whose
     lives were supposed to have made them unfit to receive the

Such an instruction, coupled with due explanation of the nature of
righteousness and iniquity, directed mainly to those who have the power
of both in their own hands, being makers of law, and holders of
property, would, without any further debate, bring about a very singular
change in the position and respectability of English clergymen.

How far they may at present be considered as merely the Squire's left
hand, bound to know nothing of what he is doing with his right, it is
for their own consciences to determine.

For instance, a friend wrote to me the other day, "Will you not come
here? You will see a noble duke destroying a village as old as the
Conquest, and driving out dozens of families whose names are in Domesday
Book, because, owing to the neglect of his ancestors and rackrenting for
a hundred years, the place has fallen out of repair, and the people are
poor, and may become paupers. A local paper ventured to tell the truth.
The duke's agent called on the editor, and threatened him with
destruction if he did not hold his tongue." The noble duke, doubtless,
has proper Protestant horror of auricular confession. But suppose,
instead of the local editor, the local parson had ventured to tell the
truth from his pulpit, and even to intimate to his Grace that he might
no longer receive the Body and Blood of the Lord at the altar of that
parish. The parson would scarcely--in these days--have been therefore
made bonfire of, and had a pretty martyr's memorial by Mr. Scott's
pupils; but he would have lighted a goodly light, nevertheless, in this
England of ours, whose pettifogging piety has now neither the courage to
deny a duke's grace in its church, nor to declare Christ's in its

Lastly. Several of your contributors, I observe, have rashly dipped
their feet in the brim of the water of that raging question of Usury;
and I cannot but express my extreme regret that you should yourself have
yielded to the temptation of expressing opinions which you have had no
leisure either to found or to test. My assertion, however, that the rich
lived mainly by robbing the poor, referred not to Usury, but to Rent;
and the facts respecting both these methods of extortion are perfectly
and indubitably ascertainable by any person who himself wishes to
ascertain them, and is able to take the necessary time and pains. I see
no sign, throughout the whole of these letters, of any wish whatever, on
the part of one of their writers, to ascertain the facts, but only to
defend practices which they hold to be convenient in the world, and are
afraid to blame in their congregations. Of the presumption with which
several of the writers utter their notions on the subject, I do not
think it would be right to speak farther, in an epilogue to which there
is no reply, in the terms which otherwise would have been deserved. In
their bearing on other topics, let me earnestly thank you (so far as my
own feelings may be permitted voice in the matter) for the attention
with which you have examined, and the courage with which you have
ratified, or at least endured, letters which could not but bear at first
the aspect of being written in a hostile--sometimes even in a mocking
spirit. That aspect is untrue, nor am I answerable for it: the things of
which I had to speak could not be shortly described but in terms which
might sound satirical; for all error, if frankly shown, is precisely
most ridiculous when it is most dangerous, and I have written no word
which is not chosen as the exactest for its occasion, whether it move
sigh or smile. In my earlier days I wrote much with the desire to
please, and the hope of influencing the reader. As I grow older and
older, I recognize the truth of the Preacher's saying, "Desire shall
fail, and the mourners go about the streets;" and I content myself with
saying, to whoso it may concern, that the thing is verily thus, whether
they will hear or whether they will forbear. No man more than I has ever
loved the places where God's honour dwells, or yielded truer allegiance
to the teaching of His evident servants. No man at this time grieves
more for the danger of the Church which supposes him her enemy, while
she whispers procrastinating _pax vobiscum_ in answer to the spurious
kiss of those who would fain toll curfew over the last fires of English
faith, and watch the sparrow find nest where she may lay her young,
around the altars of the Lord.

                                    Ever affectionately yours,
                                                         J. RUSKIN.


Mr. Ruskin having kindly entrusted me with his valuable English
thirteenth century MS. service book, referred to p. 295, I have thought
it would be interesting to the readers of this volume to see a little
more in detail some of the origins of our Litany and Collects. I think
it will be owned that our Reformers failed to mend some of them in the
translation. I am quite unversed in the reading of ancient MSS., but I
hope the following, with the translation, will not be found incorrect. I
have preserved neither the contractions nor the responses repeated after
each petition, and have changed the mediæval "e" into "æ," as "terre"
into "terræ."--EDITOR.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ut dompnum apostolicum et omnes gradus ecclesiæ in sancta religione
conservare digneris.

    _Te rogamus, audi nos, Domine._

Ut episcopum nostrum et gregem sibi commissum conservare digneris.

    _Te rogamus...._

Ut regi nostro et principibus nostris pacem et veram concordiam atque
victoriam, donare digneris.

Ut episcopos et abbates nostros et congregationes illis commissas in
sancta religione conservare digneris.

Ut congregationes omnium sanctorum in tuo sancto servitio conservare

Ut cunctum populum Christianum precioso sanguine tuo conservare

Ut omnibus benefactoribus nostris sempiterna bona retribuas.

Ut animas nostras et parentum nostrorum ab eterna dampnatione eripias.

Ut mentes nostras ad celestia desideria erigas.

Ut obsequium servitutis nostræ rationabile facias.

Ut locum istum et omnes habitantes in eo visitare et consolari digneris.

Ut fructus terræ dare et conservare digneris.

Ut inimicos sanctæ Dei ecclesiæ comprimere digneris.

Ut oculos misericordiæ tuæ super nos reducere digneris.

Ut miserias pauperum et captivorum intueri et relevare digneris.

Ut omnibus fidelibus defunctis requiem eternam dones.

Ut nos exaudire digneris.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,

    _Parce nobis Domine._

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,

    _Exaudi nos._

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,

    _Miserere nobis._

Deus cui proprium est misereri semper et parcere suscipe deprecationem
nostram et quos delictorum cathena constringit misericordia tuæ pietatis
absolvas, per Jesum Christum.

Ecclesiæ tuæ Domine, preces placatus admitte ut destructis
adversitatibus universis secura tibi serviat libertate.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus qui facis mirabilia magna solus pretende
super famulum tuum episcopum nostrum et super cunctas congregationes
illi commissas spiritum gratiæ tuæ salutaris et ut in veritate tibi
complaceant perpetuum eis rorem tuæ benedictionis infunde, per Jesum.

Deus in cujus manu corda sunt regum qui es humilium consolator et
fidelium fortitudo et protector omnium in te sperantium, da regi nostro
et reginæ populoque Christiano, triumphum virtutis tuæ scienter
excolere, ut per te semper reparentur ad veniam.

Pretende Domine et famulis et famulabus tuis dexteram celestis auxilii
ut te toto corde propinquant atque digne postulationes assequantur.

Deus a quo sancta desideria recta consilia et justa sunt opera, da
servis tuis illam quam mundus dare non potest pacem ut et corda nostra
mandatis tuis et hostium ublata formidine tempora sint tua protectione

Ure igne sancti spiritus renes nostros et cor nostrum, Domine, ut tibi
corde casto serviamus et mundo corpore placeamus.


That it may please Thee to keep the apostolic lord (_i.e._ the Pope) and
all ranks of the Church in Thy holy religion.

    _O Lord, we beseech Thee, hear us._

That it may please Thee to keep our bishop, and the flock committed to

That it may please Thee to give to our king and our princes (or chief
lords), peace, and true concord, and victory.

That it may please Thee to keep our bishops and abbots, and the
congregations committed to them, in holy religion.

That it may please Thee to keep the congregations of all saints in Thy
holy service.

That it may please Thee to keep the whole Christian people with Thy
precious blood.

That it may please Thee to requite all our benefactors with everlasting

That it may please Thee to preserve our souls and the souls of our
kindred from eternal damnation.

That it may please Thee that Thou wouldest lift up our hearts to
heavenly desires.

That it may please Thee to make the obedience of our service reasonable.

That it may please Thee to visit and to comfort this place, and all who
dwell in it.

That it may please Thee to give and preserve the fruits of the earth.

That it may please Thee to restrain the enemies of the Holy Church of

That it may please Thee to look upon us with eyes of mercy.

That it may please Thee to behold and relieve the miseries of the poor
and the prisoners.

That it may please Thee to give eternal peace to all the faithful

That it may please Thee to hear us.

Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world.

    _Spare us, O Lord._

Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world.

    _Hear us, O Lord._

Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world.

    _Have mercy on us, O Lord._

O God, whose property it is always to pity and to spare, receive our
supplications, and by the mercy of Thy fatherly love, loose those whom
the chain of their sins keeps bound, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

O Lord, receive with indulgence the prayers of Thy Church, that all
adversities being overcome, it may serve Thee in freedom without fear.

Almighty, Eternal God, who alone doest great wonders, grant to Thy
servant our bishop, and to all the congregations committed to him, the
healthful spirit of Thy grace; and that they may please Thee in truth,
pour out upon them the perpetual dew of Thy blessing.

O God, in whose hand are the hearts of kings, who art the consoler of
the meek and the strength of the faithful, and the protector of all that
trust in Thee, give to our king and queen and to the Christian people
wisely to manifest the glory of Thy power, that by Thee they may ever be
restored to forgiveness.

Extend, O Lord, over Thy servants and handmaidens, the right hand of Thy
heavenly aid, that they may draw near unto Thee with all their heart,
and worthily obtain their petitions.

Kindle with the fire of Thy Holy Spirit our reins and our hearts, O
Lord, that we may serve Thee with a clean heart, and please Thee with a
pure body.

O God, from whom are all holy desires, right counsels, and just works,
give unto Thy servants that peace which the world cannot give, that both
our hearts (may obey) Thy commands, and the fear of the enemy being
taken away, we may have quiet times by Thy protection.

       *       *       *       *       *

Upon one of the blank leaves of this MS. are some interesting remarks
upon its probable date, furnished by Mr. Ruskin himself. "The style, and
pieces of inner evidence in all this book speak it clearly of the first
half of the thirteenth century. The architecture is all round
arched--the roofs of Norman simplicity--unpinnacled--the severe and
simple forms of letter are essentially Norman, and the leaf and ball
terminations of the spiral of the extremities, exactly intermediate
between the Norman and Gothic types. The ivy and geranium leaves begin
to show themselves long before the end of the thirteenth century, and
there is not a trace of them in this book." This evidence of early date,
however, is qualified by the further statement, "old styles sometimes
hold on long in provincial MSS."

                                                           J. RUSKIN.

    BRANTWOOD, _April 14th, 1881_.

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Transcriber's Notes:

1. P. 37: "Mis-understanding" is chosen to be written with a hyphen
("But, at all events, it is surely the pastor's duty to prevent his
flock from _mis_-understanding it...")

2. P. 5 of the Appendix: "Miscellaneons" changed to "Miscellaneous" in
the header of the page.

3. The words that were chosen to be written with a hyphen: mustard-seed
(p. 23), Janus-faced (p. 31), thorough-going (p. 116), slow-witted (p.
116), simple-minded (p. 126), so-called (p. 126), animad-versions (p.
245), Hand-made (p. 6, Appendix), Hand-printed (p. 7, Appendix)

4. The words that were chosen to be written without a hyphen:
overcrowding (p. 91), shortcomings (p. 172), overthrow (p. 178),
widespread (p. 180).

5. Added quotes (p. 153, '... for clerky people."')

6. Added period after the Greek epigraph to letters VII (p. 19) and X
(p. 36).

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