By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Arrows of the Chace, vol. 1/2 - being a collection of scattered letters published chiefly - in the daily newspapers 1840-1880
Author: Ruskin, John
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Arrows of the Chace, vol. 1/2 - being a collection of scattered letters published chiefly - in the daily newspapers 1840-1880" ***

                          THE COMPLETE WORKS


                              JOHN RUSKIN

                             VOLUME XXIII

                          ARROWS OF THE CHACE

                             VOLUMES I-II

                   [Illustration: ROOM AT BRANTWOOD


                          FROM A PHOTOGRAPH]

                          ARROWS OF THE CHACE


                            A COLLECTION OF
                           SCATTERED LETTERS



                               VOLUME I.

                      LETTERS ON ART AND SCIENCE


                                     _Fors Clavigera_, Letter 59, 1875.



AUTHOR’S PREFACE                                                   ix

EDITOR’S PREFACE                                                 xiii




     “Modern Painters;” a Reply. 1843                               3

     Art Criticism. 1843                                           10

     The Arts as a Branch of Education. 1857                       24

     Art-Teaching by Correspondence. 1860                          32


     Danger to the National Gallery. 1847                          37

     The National Gallery. 1852                                    45

     The British Museum. 1866                                      52

     On the Purchase of Pictures. 1880                             55


     The Pre-Raphaelite Brethren. 1851 (May 13)                    59

     The Pre-Raphaelite Brethren. 1851 (May 30)                    63

     “The Light of the World,” Holman Hunt. 1854                   67

     “The Awakening Conscience,” Holman Hunt. 1854                 71

     Pre-Raphaelitism in Liverpool. 1858                           73

     Generalization and the Scotch Pre-Raphaelites. 1858           74


     The Turner Bequest. 1856                                      81

     [Turner’s Sketch Book. 1858                                   86, note]

     The Turner Bequest and the National Gallery. 1857             86

     The Turner Sketches and Drawings. 1858                        88

     [The Liber Studiorum. 1858                                    97, note]

     The Turner Gallery at Kensington. 1859                        98

     Turner’s Drawings. 1876 (July 5)                             100

     Turner’s Drawings. 1876 (July 19)                            104

     Copies of Turner’s Drawings. 1876                            105

     [Copies of Turner’s Drawings--Extract. 1857                  105, note]

     [Copy of Turner’s Fluelen                                  _ibid._]

     “Turners,” False and True. 1871.                             106

     The Character of Turner. 1857.                               107

     [Thornbury’s Life of Turner. 1861.                           108]


     John Leech’s Outlines. 1872.                                 111

     Ernest George’s Etchings. 1873.                              113

     The Frederick Walker Exhibition. 1876.                       116


     Gothic Architecture and the Oxford Museum. 1858.             125

     Gothic Architecture and the Oxford Museum. 1859.             131

     The Castle Rock (Edinburgh). 1857 (Sept. 14)                 145

     Edinburgh Castle. 1857 (Sept. 27)                            147

     Castles and Kennels. 1871 (Dec. 22)                          151

     Verona _v._ Warwick. 1871 (Dec. 24)                          152

     Notre Dame de Paris. 1871                                    153

     Mr. Ruskin’s Influence--A Defence. 1872 (March 15)           154

     Mr. Ruskin’s Influence--A Rejoinder. 1872 (March 21)         156

     Modern Restorations. 1877                                    157

     Ribbesford Church. 1877                                      158

     Circular relating to St. Mark’s, Venice. 1879.               159

     [Letters relating to St. Mark’s, Venice. 1879.               169, note.]



     The Conformation of the Alps, 1864                           173

     Concerning Glaciers. 1864.                                   175

     English _versus_ Alpine Geology. 1864                        181

     Concerning Hydrostatics. 1864                                185

     James David Forbes: His Real Greatness. 1874.                187


     On Reflections in Water. 1844                                191

     On the Reflection of Rainbows. 1861                          201

     A Landslip Near Giagnano. 1841                               202

     On the Gentian. 1857                                         204

     On the Study of Natural History (undated)                    204


My good Editor insists that this book must have an Author’s Preface; and
insists further that it shall not contain compliments to him on the
editorship. I must leave, therefore, any readers who care for the book,
and comprehend the trouble that has been spent on it, to pay him their
own compliments, as the successive service of his notes may call for
them: but my obedience to his order, not in itself easy to me, doubles
the difficulty I have in doing what, nevertheless, I am resolved to
do--pay, that is to say, several extremely fine compliments to myself,
upon the quality of the text.

For of course I have read none of these letters since they were first
printed: of half of them I had forgotten the contents, of some, the
existence; all come fresh to me; and here in Rouen, where I thought
nothing could possibly have kept me from drawing all I could of the
remnants of the old town, I find myself, instead, lying in bed in the
morning, reading these remnants of my old self--and that with much
contentment and thankful applause.

For here are a series of letters ranging over a period of, broadly,
forty years of my life; most of them written hastily, and all in hours
snatched from heavier work: and in the entire mass of them there is not
a word I wish to change, not a statement I have to retract, and, I
believe, few pieces of advice, which the reader will not find it for his
good to act upon.

With which brief preface I am, for my own part, content; but as it is
one of an unusual tenor, and may be thought by some of my friends, and
all my foes, more candid than graceful, I permit myself the apologetic
egotism of enforcing one or two of the points in which I find these
letters so well worth--their author’s--reading.

In the building of a large book, there are always places where an
indulged diffuseness weakens the fancy, and prolonged strain subdues the
energy: when we have time to say all we wish, we usually wish to say
more than enough; and there are few subjects we can have the pride of
exhausting, without wearying the listener. But all these letters were
written with fully provoked zeal, under strict allowance of space and
time: they contain the choicest and most needful things I could within
narrow limits say, out of many contending to be said; expressed with
deliberate precision; and recommended by the best art I had in
illustration or emphasis. At the time of my life in which most of them
were composed, I was fonder of metaphor, and more fertile in simile,
than I am now; and I employed both with franker trust in the reader’s
intelligence. Carefully chosen, they are always a powerful means of
concentration; and I could then dismiss in six words, “thistledown
without seeds, and bubbles without color,” forms of art on which I
should now perhaps spend half a page of analytic vituperation; and
represent, with a pleasant accuracy which my best methods of outline and
exposition could now no more achieve, the entire system of modern
plutocratic policy, under the luckily remembered image of the Arabian
bridegroom, bewitched with his heels uppermost.

It is to be remembered also that many of the subjects handled can be
more conveniently treated controversially than directly; the answer to a
single question may be made clearer than a statement which endeavors to
anticipate many; and the crystalline vigor of a truth is often best seen
in the course of its serene collision with a trembling and dissolving
fallacy. But there is a deeper reason than any such accidental ones for
the quality of this book. Since the letters cost me, as aforesaid, much
trouble; since they interrupted me in pleasant work which was usually
liable to take harm by interruption; and since they were likely almost,
in the degree of their force, to be refused by the editors of the
adverse journals, I never was tempted into writing a word for the public
press, unless concerning matters which I had much at heart. And the
issue is, therefore, that the two following volumes contain very nearly
the indices of everything I have deeply cared for during the last forty
years; while not a few of their political notices relate to events of
more profound historical importance than any others that have occurred
during the period they cover; and it has not been an uneventful one.

Nor have the events been without gravity; the greater, because they have
all been inconclusive. Their true conclusions are perhaps nearer than
any of us apprehend; and the part I may be forced to take in them,
though I am old,--perhaps I should rather say, _because_ I am
old,--will, as far as I can either judge or resolve, be not merely

Whether I am spared to put into act anything here designed for my
country’s help, or am shielded by death from the sight of her remediless
sorrow, I have already done for her as much service as she has will to
receive, by laying before her facts vital to her existence, and
unalterable by her power, in words of which not one has been warped by
interest nor weakened by fear; and which are as pure from selfish
passion as if they were spoken already out of another world.


ROUEN, _St. Firmin’s Day, 1880_.


Some words are needed by way of a general note to the present volumes in
explanation of the principles upon which they have been edited. It is,
however, first due to the compiler of the Bibliography of Mr. Ruskin’s
writings,[1] to state in what measure this book has been prompted and
assisted by his previous labors. Already acquainted with some few of the
letters which Mr. Ruskin had addressed at various times to the different
organs of the daily press, or which had indirectly found their way
there, it was not until I came across the Bibliography that I was
encouraged to complete and arrange a collection of these scattered
portions of his thought. When I had done this, I ventured to submit the
whole number of the letters to their author, and to ask him if, after
taking two or three of them as examples of the rest, he would not
consider the advisability of himself republishing, if not all, at least
a selected few. In reply, he was good enough to put me in communication
with his publisher, and to request me to edit any or all of the letters
without further reference to him.

I have, therefore, to point out that except for that request, or rather
sanction; for the preface which he has promised to add after my work
upon the volumes is finished; and for the title which it bears, Mr.
Ruskin is in no way responsible for this edition of his letters. I knew,
indeed, from the words of “Fors Clavigera” which are printed as a motto
to the book, that I ran little risk of his disapproval in determining to
print, not a selection, but the whole number of letters in question; and
I felt certain that the completeness of the collection would be
considered a first essential by most of its readers, who are thus
assured that the present volumes contain, with but two exceptions, every
letter mentioned in the last edition of the bibliography, and some few
more beside, which have been either printed or discovered since its

The two exceptions are, first, the series of letters on the Lord’s
Prayer which appeared in the pages of the _Contemporary Review_ last
December; and, secondly, some half-dozen upon “A Museum or Picture
Gallery,” printed in the _Art Journal_ of last June and August. It
seemed that both these sets of letters were really more akin to review
articles cast in an epistolary form, and would thus find fitter place in
a collection of such papers than in the present volumes; and for the
omission of the second set there was a still further reason in the fact
that the series is not yet completed.[2] On the other hand, the recent
circular on the proposed interference with St. Mark’s, Venice, is
included in the first, and one or two other extraneous matters in the
second volume, for reasons which their connection with the letters
amongst which they are placed will make sufficiently clear.

The letters are reprinted word for word, and almost stop for stop, from
the newspapers and other pages in which they first appeared. To ensure
this accuracy was not an easy matter, and to it there are a few
intentional exceptions. A few misprints have been corrected, such as
that of “Fat Bard” for “Fort Bard” (vol. i. p. 147): and now and then
the punctuation has been changed, as on the 256th page of the same
volume, where a comma, placed in the original print of the letter
between the words “visibly” and “owing,” quite confused the sentence. To
these slight alterations may be added others still less important, such
as the commencement of a fresh paragraph, or the closing up of an
existing one, to suit the composition of the type, which the number of
notes rendered unusually tiresome. The title of a letter, too, is not
always that provided it by the newspaper; in some cases it seemed well
to rechristen, in others it was necessary to christen a letter, though
the former has never been done where it was at all possible that the
existing title (for which reference can always be made to the
bibliography) was one given to it by Mr. Ruskin himself.

The classification of the letters is well enough shown by the tables of
contents. The advantages of a topical over a chronological arrangement
appeared beyond all doubt; whilst the addition to each volume of a
chronological list of the letters contained in it, and the further
addition to the second volume of a similar list of all the letters
contained in the book, and of a full index, will, it is hoped, increase
the usefulness of the work.

The beautiful engraving which forms the frontispiece of the first
volume originally formed that of “The Oxford Museum.” The plate was but
little used in the apparently small edition of that book, and was thus
found to be in excellent state for further use here. The woodcut of the
chestnut spandril (vol. i. p. 144) is copied from one which may also be
found in “The Oxford Museum.” The facsimile of part of one of the
letters is not quite satisfactory, the lines being somewhat thicker than
they should be, but it answers its present purpose.

Lastly, the chief difficulty of editing these letters has been in regard
to the notes, and has lain not so much in obtaining the necessary
information as in deciding what use to make of it when obtained. The
first point was, of course, to put the reader of the present volumes in
possession of every fact which would have been common knowledge at the
time when such and such a letter was written; but beyond this there were
various allusions, which might be thought to need explanation;
quotations, the exact reference to which might be convenient; and so
forth. Some notes, therefore, of this character have been also added;
whilst some few which were omitted, either intentionally or by accident,
from the body of the work, may be found on reference to the index.[3]

The effort to make the book complete has induced the notice of slight
variations of text in one or two cases, especially in the reprint of the
St. Mark’s Circular. The space occupied by such notes is small, the
interest which a few students take in the facts they notice really
great, and the appearance of pedantry to some readers is thus risked in
order to meet the special wish of others. The same effort will account
for the reappearance of one or two really unimportant letters in the
Appendix to the second volume, which contains also some few letters the
nature of which is rather personal than public.

I have asked Mr. Ruskin to state in his preface to the book the value he
may set upon it in relation to his other and more connected work; and
for the rest, I have only to add that the editing of it has been the
pleasant labor of my leisure for more than two years past, and to
express my hope that these scattered arrows, some from the bow of “An
Oxford Graduate,” some from that of an Oxford Professor, may not have
been vainly winged anew by


_October, 1880._


 NOTE.--_In the second and third columns the bracketed words and
 figures are dating of more or less certainly conjectured; whilst those
 unbracketed give the actual the letter._

      TITLE OF LETTER.                     |    WHERE WRITTEN.
A LANDSLIP NEAR GIAGNANO                   | Naples
MODERN PAINTERS: A REPLY                   | [Denmark Hill
ART CRITICISM                              | [Denmark Hill
ON REFLECTIONS IN WATER                    | [Denmark Hill
DANGER TO THE NATIONAL GALLERY             | [Denmark Hill]
THE PRE-RAPHAELITE BRETHREN, I.            | Denmark Hill
THE PRE-RAPHAELITE BRETHREN, II.           | Denmark Hill
THE NATIONAL GALLERY                       | Herne Hill, Dulwich
“THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD”                   | Denmark Hill
“THE AWAKENING CONSCIENCE”                 | [Denmark Hill
THE TURNER BEQUEST                         | Denmark Hill
ON THE GENTIAN                             | Denmark Hill
THE CASTLE ROCK (EDINBURGH)                | Dunbar
EDINBURGH CASTLE                           | Penrith
THE CHARACTER OF TURNER                    | [
ON THE REFLECTION OF RAINBOWS              | [          ]
THE CONFORMATION OF THE ALPS               | Denmark Hill
CONCERNING GLACIERS                        | Denmark Hill
ENGLISH _versus_ ALPINE GEOLOGY              | Denmark Hill
CONCERNING HYDROSTATICS                    | Norwich
THE BRITISH MUSEUM                         | Denmark Hill
NOTRE DAME DE PARIS                        | [Denmark Hill
“TURNERS” FALSE AND TRUE                   | Denmark Hill
CASTLES AND KENNELS                        | Denmark Hill
VERONA _v._ WARWICK                          | Denmark Hill, S. E.
MR. RUSKIN’S INFLUENCE: A DEFENCE          | Denmark Hill
JOHN LEECH’S OUTLINES                      | [
ERNEST GEORGE’S ETCHINGS                   | [Denmark Hill
COPIES OF TURNER’S DRAWINGS                | Peterborough
TURNER’S DRAWINGS, I.                      | Brantwood
TURNER’S DRAWINGS, II.                     | Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire
MODERN RESTORATION                         | Venice
RIBBESFORD CHURCH                          | Brantwood, Coniston, Lancashire
ST. MARK’S VENICE--LETTERS                 | [Brantwood
ON THE PURCHASE OF PICTURES                | [Brantwood
COPY OF TURNER’S “FLUELEN”                 | London
THE STUDY OF NATURAL HISTORY               | [          ]

February 7, 1841           | Proceedings of the Ashmolean Society     | 202
About Sept. 17, 1843]      | _The Weekly Chronicle_, Sept. 23, 1843   |  3
December, 1843]            | _The Artist and Amateur’s Magazine_, 1844|  10
January, 1844]             | _The Artist and Amateur’s Magazine_, 1844| 191
January 6 [1847]           | _The Times_, January 7, 1847             |  37
May 9 [1851]               | _The Times_, May 13, 1851                |  59
May 26 [1851]              | _The Times_, May 30, 1851                |  63
December 27 [1852]         | _The Times_, December 29, 1852           |  45
May 4 [1854]               | _The Times_, May 15, 1854                |  67
May 24 [1854]              | _The Times_, May 25, 1854                |  71
October 27 [1856]          | _The Times_, October 28, 1856            |  81
February 10 [1857]         | _The Athenæum_, February 14, 1857        | 204
July 8, 1857]              | _The Times_, July 9, 1857                |  86
14th September, 1857       | _The Witness_ (Edinburgh), Sept. 16, 1857| 145
September 25, 1857         | “New Oxford Examinations, etc.,” 1858    |  24
27th September [1857]      | _The Witness_ (Edinburgh), Sept. 30, 1857| 147
           1857]           | Thornbury’s Life of Turner. Preface, 1861| 107
January, 1858]             | _The Liverpool Albion_, January 11, 1858 |  73
March. 1858]               | _The Witness_ (Edinburgh), March 27, 1858|  74
June, 1858]                | “The Oxford Museum,” 1859.               | 125
November, 1858]            | _The Literary Gazette_, Nov. 13, 1858    |  88
        ] 1858             | List of Turner’s Drawings, Boston, 1874  |  86 _n._
        ] 1858             | List of Turner’s Drawings, Boston, 1874  |  97 _n._
January 20, 1859           | “The Oxford Museum,” 1859                | 131
October 20 [1859]          | _The Times_, October 21, 1859            |  98
December 2, 1861           | Thornbury’s Life of Turner. Ed. 2, Pref. | 108
November, 1860             | _Nature and Art_, December 1, 1866       |  32
7th May, 1861              | _The London Review_, May 16, 1861        | 201
10th November, 1864        | _The Reader_, November 12, 1864          | 173
November 21 [1864]         | _The Reader_, November 26, 1864          | 175
29th November [1864]       | _The Reader_, December 3, 1864           | 181
5th December [1864]        | _The Reader_, December 10, 1864          | 185
Jan. 26 [1866]             | _The Times_, January 27, 1866            |  52
          ] 1867           | List of Turner’s Drawings, Boston, 1874  | 105 _n._
January 18, 1871]          | _The Daily Telegraph_, January 19, 1871  | 153
January 23 [1871]          | _The Times_, January 24, 1871            | 106
December 20 [1871]         | _The Daily Telegraph_, December 22, 1871 | 151
24th (for 25th) Dec. [1871]| _The Daily Telegraph_, December 25, 1871 | 152
March 15 [1872]            | _The Pall Mall Gazette_, March 16, 1872  | 154
March 21 [1872]            | _The Pall Mall Gazette_, March 21, 1872  | 156
          1872]            | The Catalogue to the Exhibition, 1872    | 111
December, 1873]            | _The Architect_, December 27, 1873       | 113
          1874]            | “Rendu’s Glaciers of Savoy,” 1874        | 187
January, 1876]             | _The Times_, January 20, 1876            | 116
April 23 [1876]            | _The Times_, April 25, 1876              | 105
July 3 [1876]              | _The Daily Telegraph_, July 5, 1876      | 100
July 16 [1876]             | _The Daily Telegraph_, July 19, 1876     | 104
15th April, 1877           | _The Liverpool Daily Post_, June 9, 1877 | 157
July 24, 1877              | _The Kidderminster Times_, July 28, 1877 | 158
Winter 1879]               | See the Circular                         | 159
Winter 1879]               | _Birmingham Daily Mail_, Nov. 27, 1879   | 169
January 1880]              | _Leicester Chronicle_, January 31, 1880  |  55
20th March, 1880           | Lithograph copy issued by Mr. Ward, 1880 | 105 _n._
Undated                    | Letter to Adam White [unknown]           | 204




    ART CRITICISM. 1843.




[From “The Weekly Chronicle,” September 23, 1843.]


_To the Editor of “The Weekly Chronicle.”_

SIR: I was much gratified by reading in your columns of the 15th[4]
instant a piece of close, candid, and artistical criticism on my work
entitled “Modern Painters.” Serious and well-based criticism is at the
present day so rare, and our periodicals are filled so universally with
the splenetic jargon or meaningless praise of ignorance, that it is no
small pleasure to an author to meet either with praise which he can view
with patience, or censure which he can regard with respect. I seldom,
therefore, read, and have never for an instant thought of noticing, the
ordinary animadversions of the press; but the critique on “Modern
Painters” in your pages is evidently the work of a man both of knowledge
and feeling; and is at once so candid and so keen, so honest and so
subtle, that I am desirous of offering a few remarks on the points on
which it principally touches--they are of importance to art; and I feel
convinced that the writer is desirous only of elucidating truth, not of
upholding a favorite error. With respect first to Gaspar’s painting of
the “Sacrifice of Isaac.” It is not on the faith of any _single_ shadow
that I have pronounced the time intended to be near noon[5]--though the
shadow of the two figures being very short, and cast _from_ the
spectator, is in itself conclusive. The whole system of chiaroscuro of
the picture is lateral; and the light is expressly shown not to come
from the distance by its breaking brightly on the bit of rock and
waterfall on the left, from which the high copse wood altogether
intercepts the rays proceeding from the horizon. There are multitudes of
pictures by Gaspar with this same effect--leaving no doubt whatever on
my mind that they are all manufactured by the same approved recipe,
probably given him by Nicholas, but worked out by Gaspar with the
clumsiness and vulgarity which are invariably attendant on the efforts
of an inferior mind to realize the ideas of a greater. The Italian
masters universally make the horizon the chief light of their picture,
whether the effect intended be of noon or evening. Gaspar, to save
himself the trouble of graduation, washes his sky half blue and half
yellow, and separates the two colors by a line of cloud. In order to get
his light conspicuous and clear, he washes the rest of his sky of a dark
deep blue, without any thoughts about time of day or elevation of sun,
or any such minutiæ; finally, having frequently found the convenience of
a black foreground, with a bit of light coming in round the corner, and
probably having no conception of the possibility of painting a
foreground on any other principle, he naturally falls into the usual
method--blackens it all over, touches in a few rays of lateral light,
and turns out a very respectable article; for in such language only
should we express the completion of a picture painted throughout on
conventional principles, without one reference to nature, and without
one idea of the painter’s own. With respect to Salvator’s “Mercury and
the Woodman,”[6] your critic has not allowed for the effect of time on
its blues. They are now, indeed, sobered and brought down, as is every
other color in the picture, until it is scarcely possible to distinguish
any of the details in its darker parts; but they _have been_ pure and
clean, and the mountain is absolutely the same color as the open part of
the sky. When I say it is “in full light,” I do not mean that it is the
highest light of the picture (for no distant mountain _can_ be so, when
compared with bright earth or white clouds), but that no accidental
shadow is cast upon it; that it is under open sky, and so illumined that
there must necessarily be a difference in hue between its light and dark
sides, at which Salvator has not even hinted.

Again, with respect to the question of focal distances,[7] your critic,
in common with many very clever people to whom I have spoken on the
subject, has confused the obscurity of objects which are _laterally_ out
of the focal _range_, with that of objects which are _directly_ out of
the focal _distance_. If all objects in a landscape were in the same
plane, they should be represented on the plane of the canvas with equal
distinctness, because the eye has no greater lateral range on the canvas
than in the landscape, and can only command a point in each. But this
point in the landscape may present an intersection of lines belonging to
different distances--as when a branch of a tree, or tuft of grass, cuts
against the horizon: and yet these different distances cannot be
discerned together: we lose one if we look at the other, so that no
painful intersection of lines is ever felt. But on the canvas, as the
lines of foreground and of distance are on the _same_ plane, they _will_
be seen together whenever they intersect, painfully and distinctly; and,
therefore, unless we make one series, whether near or distant, obscure
and indefinite, we shall always represent as visible at once that which
the eye can only perceive by two separate acts of seeing. Hold up your
finger before this page, six inches from it. If you look at the edge of
your finger, you cannot see the letters; if you look at the letters, you
cannot see the edge of your finger, but as a confused, double, misty
line. Hence in painting, you must either take for your subject the
finger or the letters; you cannot paint both distinctly without
violation of truth. It is of no consequence how quick the change of the
eye may be; it is not one whit quicker than its change from one part of
the horizon to another, nor are the two intersecting distances more
visible at the same time than two opposite portions of a landscape to
which it passes in succession. Whenever, therefore, in a landscape, we
look from the foreground to the distance, the foreground is subjected to
_two_ degrees of indistinctness: the first, that of an object
_laterally_ out of the focus of the eye; and the _second_, that of an
object _directly_ out of the focus of the eye; being too near to be seen
with the focus adapted to the distance. In the picture, when we look
from the foreground to the distance, the foreground is subjected only to
_one_ degree of indistinctness, that of being out of the lateral range;
for as both the painting of the distance and of the foreground are on
the same plane, they are seen together with the same focus. Hence we
must supply the _second_ degree of indistinctness by slurring with the
brush, or we shall have a severe and painful intersection of near and
distant lines, impossible in nature. Finally, a very false principle is
implied by part of what is advanced by your critic--which has led to
infinite error in art, and should therefore be instantly combated
whenever it were hinted--that the ideal is different from the true. It
is, on the contrary, only the perfection of truth. The Apollo is not a
_false_ representation of man, but the most perfect representation of
all that is constant and essential in man--free from the accidents and
evils which corrupt the truth of his nature.[8] Supposing we are
describing to a naturalist some animal he does not know, and we tell him
we saw one with a hump on its back, and another with strange bends in
its legs, and another with a long tail, and another with no tail, he
will ask us directly, But what is its _true_ form, what is its _real_
form? This truth, this reality, which he requires of us, is the _ideal_
form, that which is hinted at by all the individuals--aimed at, but not
arrived at. But never let it be said that, when a painter is defying the
principles of nature at every roll of his brush, as I have shown that
Gaspar does, when, instead of working out the essential characters of
specific form, and raising those to their highest degree of nobility and
beauty, he is casting all character aside, and carrying out imperfection
and accident; never let it be said, in excuse for such degradation of
nature, that it is done in pursuit of the ideal. As well might this be
said in defence of the promising sketch of the human form pasted on the
wainscot behind the hope of the family--artist and musician of equal
power--in the “Blind Fiddler.”[9] Ideal beauty is the generalization of
consummate knowledge, the concentration of perfect truth--not the
abortive vision of ignorance in its study. Nor was there ever yet one
conception of the human mind beautiful, but as it was based on truth.
Whenever we leave nature, we fall immeasurably beneath her. So, again,
I find fault with the “ropy wreath” of Gaspar,[10] not because he chose
massy cloud instead of light cloud; but because he has drawn his massy
cloud _falsely_, making it look tough and powerless, like a chain of
Bologna sausages, instead of gifting it with the frangible and elastic
vastness of nature’s mountain vapor.

Finally, Sir, why must it be only “when he is gone from us”[11] that the
power of our greatest English landscape painter is to be acknowledged?
It cannot, indeed, be fully understood until the current of years has
swept away the minor lights which stand around it, and left it burning
alone; but at least the scoff and the sneer might be lashed into
silence, if those only did their duty by whom it is already perceived.
And let us not think that our unworthiness has no effect on the work of
the master. I could be patient if I thought that _no_ effect was wrought
on his noble mind by the cry of the populace; but, scorn it as he may,
and does, it is yet impossible for any human mind to hold on its course,
with the same energy and life, through the oppression of a perpetual
hissing, as when it is cheered on by the quick sympathy of its
fellow-men. It is not in art as in matters of political duty, where the
path is clear and the end visible. The springs of feeling may be
oppressed or sealed by the want of an answer in other bosoms, though the
sense of principle cannot be blunted except by the individual’s _own_
error; and though the knowledge of what is right, and the love of what
is beautiful, may still support our great painter through the languor of
age--and Heaven grant it may for years to come--yet we cannot hope that
he will ever cast his spirit upon the canvas with the same freedom and
fire as if he felt that the voice of its inspiration was waited for
among men, and dwelt upon with devotion. Once, in ruder times, the work
of a great painter[12] was waited for through days at his door, and
attended to its place of deposition by the enthusiasm of a hundred
cities; and painting rose from that time, a rainbow upon the Seven
Hills, and on the cypressed heights of Fiésole, guiding them and
lighting them forever, even in the stillness of their decay. How can we
hope that England will ever win for herself such a crown, while the
works of her highest intellects are set for the pointing of the finger
and the sarcasm of the tongue, and the sole reward for the deep,
earnest, holy labor of a devoted life, is the weight of stone upon the
trampled grave, where the vain and idle crowd will come to wonder how
the brushes are mimicked in the marble above the dust of him who wielded
them in vain?

I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,

[From the “Artist and Amateur’s Magazine” (edited by E. V. Rippingille), January,
1843, pp. 280-287.]


_To the Editor of the “Artist and Amateur’s Magazine.”_

SIR--Anticipating, with much interest, your reply to the candid and
earnest inquiries of your unknown correspondent, Matilda Y.,[13] I am
led to hope that you will allow me to have some share with you in the
pleasant task of confirming an honest mind in the truth. Subject always
to your animadversion and correction, so far as I may seem to you to be
led astray by my peculiar love for the works of the artist to whom her
letter refers, I yet trust that in most of the remarks I have to make on
the points which have perplexed her, I shall be expressing not only your
own opinions, but those of every other accomplished artist who is really
acquainted--and which of our English masters is not?--with the noble
system of poetry and philosophy which has been put forth on canvas,
during the last forty years, by the great painter who has presented us
with the almost unparalleled example of a man winning for himself the
unanimous plaudits of his generation and time, and then casting them
away like dust, that he may build his monument--ære perennius.

Your correspondent herself, in saying that mere knowledge of _pictures_
cannot qualify a man for the office of a critic, has touched the first
source of the schisms of the present, and of all time, in questions of
pictorial merit. We are overwhelmed with a tribe of critics who are
fully imbued with every kind of knowledge which is useful to the
picture-dealer, but with none that is important to the artist. They know
where a picture _has_ been retouched, but not where it _ought_ to have
been; they know if it has been injured, but not if the injury is to be
regretted. They are unquestionable authorities in all matters relating
to the panel or the canvas, to the varnish or the vehicle, while they
remain in entire ignorance of that which the vehicle conveys. They are
well acquainted with the technical qualities of every master’s touch;
and when their discrimination fails, plume themselves on indisputable
tradition, and point triumphantly to the documents of pictorial
genealogy. But they never go _quite_ far enough back; they stop _one_
step short of the real original; they reach the human one, but never the
Divine. Whatever, under the present system of study, the connoisseur of
the gallery may learn or know, there is one thing he does _not_
know--and that is nature. It is a pitiable thing to hear a man like Dr.
Waagen,[14] about to set the seal of his approbation, or the brand of
his reprobation, on all the pictures in our island, expressing his
insipid astonishment on his first acquaintance with the sea. “For the
_first_ time I understood the truth of their pictures (Backhuysen’s and
Van de Velde’s), and the refined art with which, by intervening dashes
of sunshine, near or at a distance, and _ships to animate the scene_,
they produce such a charming variety on the surface of the sea.” For the
first time!--and yet this gallery-bred judge, this discriminator of
colored shreds and canvas patches, who has no idea how ships animate the
sea, until--charged with the fates of the Royal Academy--he ventures his
invaluable person from Rotterdam to Greenwich, will walk up to the work
of a man whose brow is hard with the spray of a hundred storms, and
characterize it as “wanting in truth of clouds and waves”! Alas for Art,
while such judges sit enthroned on their apathy to the beautiful, and
their ignorance of the true, and with a canopy of canvas between them
and the sky, and a wall of tradition, which may not be broken through,
concealing from them the horizon, hurl their darkened verdicts against
the works of men, whose night and noon have been wet with the dew of
heaven--dwelling on the deep sea, or wandering among the solitary places
of the earth, until they have “made the mountains, waves, and skies a
part of them and of their souls.”

When information so narrow is yet the whole stock in trade of the
highest authorities of the day, what are we to expect from the lowest?
Dr. Waagen is a most favorable specimen of the tribe of critics; a man,
we may suppose, impartial, above all national or party prejudice, and
intimately acquainted with that half of his subject (the technical half)
which is all we can reasonably expect to be known by one who has been
trained in the painting-room instead of in the fields. No authority is
more incontrovertible in all questions of the genuineness of old
pictures. He has at least the merit--not common among those who talk
most of the old masters--of knowing what he _does_ admire, and will not
fall into the same raptures before an execrable copy as before the
original. If, then, we find a man of this real judgment in those matters
to which his attention has been directed, entirely incapable, owing to
his ignorance of nature, of estimating a modern picture, what can we
hope from those lower critics who are unacquainted even with those
technical characters which they have opportunities of learning? What,
for instance, are we to anticipate from the sapient lucubrations of the
critic--for some years back the disgrace of the pages of
“Blackwood”--who in one breath displays his knowledge of nature, by
styling a painting of a furze bush in the bed of a mountain torrent a
specimen of the “high pastoral,” and in the next his knowledge of Art,
by informing us that Mr. Lee “reminds him of Gainsborough’s best manner,
but is inferior to him in composition”![15] We do not mean to say
anything against Mr. Lee; but can we forbear to smile at the hopeless
innocence of the man’s novitiate, who could be reminded by them of
landscapes powerful enough in color to take their place beside those of
Rembrandt or Rubens? A little attention will soon convince your
correspondent of the utter futility or falsehood of the ordinary
critiques of the press; and there could, I believe, even at present, be
little doubt in her mind as to the fitting answer to the question,
whether we are to take the opinion of the accomplished artist or of the
common newsmonger, were it not for a misgiving which, be she conscious
of it or not, is probably floating in her mind--whether that can really
be _great_ Art which has no influence whatsoever on the multitude, and
is appreciable only by the initiated few. And this is the real question
of difficulty. It is easy to prove that such and such a critic is wrong;
but not so, to prove that what everybody dislikes is right. It is
fitting to pay respect to Sir Augustus Callcott, but is it so to take
his word against all the world?

This inquiry requires to be followed with peculiar caution; for by
setting at defiance the judgment of the public, we in some sort may
appear to justify that host of petty scribblers, and contemptible
painters, who in all time have used the same plea in defence of their
rejected works, and have received in consequence merciless chastisement
from contemporary and powerful authors or painters, whose reputation was
as universal as it was just. “Mes ouvrages,” said Rubens to his
challenger, Abraham Janssens, “ont été exposés en Italie, et en Espagne,
sans que j’aie reçu la nouvelle de leur condamnation. Vous n’avez qu’à
soumettre les votres à la même épreuve.”[16] “Je défie,” says Boileau,
“tous les amateurs les plus mécontents du public, de me citer un bon
livre que le public ait jamais rebuté, à moins qu’ils ne mettent en ce
rang leur écrits, de la bonté desquels eux seuls sont persuadés.”

Now the fact is, that the whole difficulty of the question is caused by
the ambiguity of this word--the “public.” Whom does it include? People
continually forget that there is a _separate_ public for every picture,
and for every book. Appealed to with reference to any particular work,
the public is that class of persons who possess the knowledge which it
presupposes, and the faculties to which it is addressed. With reference
to a new edition of Newton’s Principia, the “public” means little more
than the Royal Society. With reference to one of Wordsworth’s poems, it
means all who have hearts. With reference to one of Moore’s, all who
have passions. With reference to the works of Hogarth, it means those
who have worldly knowledge to the works of Giotto, those who have
religious faith. Each work must be tested exclusively by the fiat of
the _particular_ public to whom it is addressed. We will listen to no
comments on Newton from people who have no mathematical knowledge; to
none on Wordsworth from those who have no hearts; to none on Giotto from
those who have no religion. Therefore, when we have to form a judgment
of any new work, the question “What do the public say to it?” is indeed
of vital importance; but we must always inquire, first, who are _its_
public? We must not submit a treatise on moral philosophy to a conclave
of horse-jockeys, nor a work of deep artistical research to the writers
for the Art Union.

The public, then, we repeat, when referred to with respect to a
particular work, consist only of those who have knowledge of its
subject, and are possessed of the faculties to which it is addressed.

If it fail of touching _these_, the work is a bad one; but it in no
degree militates against it that it is rejected by those to whom it does
not appeal. To whom, then, let us ask, and to _what_ public do the works
of Turner appeal? To those only, we reply, who have profound and
disciplined acquaintance with nature, ardent poetical feeling, and keen
eye for color (a faculty far more rare than an ear for music). They are
deeply-toned poems, intended for all who love poetry, but not for those
who delight in mimickries of wine-glasses and nutshells. They are deep
treatises on natural phenomena, intended for all who are acquainted with
such phenomena, but not for those who, like the painter Barry, are
amazed at finding the realities of the Alps grander than the
imaginations of Salvator, and assert that they saw the moon from the
Mont Cenis four times as big as usual, “from being so much nearer to
it”![17] And they are studied melodies of exquisite color, intended for
those who have perception of color; not for those who fancy that all
trees are Prussian green. Then comes the question, Were the works of
Turner _ever_ rejected by any person possessing even partially these
qualifications? We answer boldly, never. On the contrary, they are
universally hailed by _this_ public with an enthusiasm not undeserving
in appearance--at least to those who are debarred from sharing in it, of
its usual soubriquet--the Turner mania.

Is, then, the number of those who are acquainted with the truth of
nature so limited? So it has been asserted by one who knew much both of
Art and Nature, and both were glorious in his country.[19]

    "ΙΙΙ. Οὐ μέντοι εἰώθασιν ἄνθρωποι ὀνομάζειν οὔτως
     ΣΩ. Πότερον, ὦ Ἱππία, οἱ εἰδότες ἢ οἱ μὴ εἰδότες;
     ΙΠ. Οἱ πολλοί.
     ΣΩ. Εἰσὶ δ᾿ οὗτοι οἱ εἰδότες τἀληθές, οἱ πολλοί;
     ΙΠ. Οὐ δῆτα.
                          HIPPIAS MAJOR.

Now, we are not inclined to go quite so far as this. There are many
subjects with respect to which the multitude _are_ cognizant of truth,
or at least of _some_ truth; and those subjects may be generally
characterized as everything which materially concerns themselves or
their interests. The public are acquainted with the nature of their own
passions, and the point of their own calamities--can laugh at the
weakness they feel, and weep at the miseries they have experienced; but
all the sagacity they possess, be it how great soever, will not enable
them to judge of likeness to that which they have never seen, nor to
acknowledge principles on which they have never reflected. Of a comedy
or a drama, an epigram or a ballad, they are judges from whom there is
no appeal; but not of the representation of facts which they have never
examined, of beauties which they have never loved. It is not sufficient
that the facts or the features of nature be around us, while they are
not within us. We may walk day by day through grove and meadow, and
scarcely know more concerning them than is known by bird and beast, that
the one has shade for the head, and the other softness for the foot. It
is not true that “the eye, it cannot choose but see,” unless we obey the
following condition, and go forth “in a wise passiveness,”[21] free from
that plague of our own hearts which brings the shadow of ourselves, and
the tumult of our petty interests and impatient passions, across the
light and calm of Nature. We do not sit at the feet of our mistress to
listen to her teaching; but we seek her only to drag from her that which
may suit our purpose, to see in her the confirmation of a theory, or
find in her fuel for our pride. Nay, do we often go to her even thus?
Have we not rather cause to take to ourselves the full weight of
Wordsworth’s noble appeal--

    “Vain pleasures of luxurious life!
     Forever with yourselves at strife,
     Through town and country, both deranged
     By affections interchanged,
     And all the perishable gauds
     That heaven-deserted man applauds.
     When will your hapless patrons learn
     To watch and ponder, to discern
     The freshness, the eternal youth
     Of admiration, sprung from truth,
     From beauty infinitely growing
     Upon a mind with love overflowing:
     To sound the depths of every art
     That seeks its wisdom through the heart?”[22]

When _will_ they learn it? Hardly, we fear, in this age of steam and
iron, luxury and selfishness. We grow more and more artificial day by
day, and see less and less worthiness in those pleasures which bring
with them no morbid excitement, in that knowledge which affords us no
opportunity of display. Your correspondent may rest assured that those
who do not _care_ for nature, who do not love her, _cannot_ see her. A
few of her phenomena lie on the surface; the nobler number lie deep, and
are the reward of watching and of thought. The artist may choose _which_
he will render: no human art can render both. If he paint the surface,
he will catch the crowd; if he paint the depth, he will be admired
only--but with how deep and fervent admiration, none but they who feel
it can tell--by the thoughtful and observant few.

There are some admirable observations on this subject in your December
number (“An Evening’s Gossip with a Painter”[23]); but there is one
circumstance with respect to the works of Turner which yet further
limits the number of their admirers. They are not prosaic statements of
the phenomena of nature--they are statements of them under the influence
of ardent feeling; they are, in a word, the most fervent and real poetry
which the English nation is at present producing. Now not only is this
proverbially an age in which poetry is little cared for; but even with
those who have most love of it, and most need of it, it requires,
especially if high and philosophical, an attuned, quiet, and exalted
frame of mind for its enjoyment; and if dragged into the midst of the
noisy interests of every-day life, may easily be made ridiculous or
offensive. Wordsworth recited, by Mr. Wakley, in the House of Commons,
in the middle of a financial debate, would sound, in all probability,
very like Mr. Wakley’s[24] own verses. Wordsworth, read in the stillness
of a mountain hollow, has the force of the mountain waters. What would
be the effect of a passage of Milton recited in the middle of a
pantomime, or of a dreamy stanza of Shelley upon the Stock Exchange? Are
we to judge of the nightingale by hearing it sing in broad daylight in
Cheapside? For just such a judgment do we form of Turner by standing
before his pictures in the Royal Academy. It is a strange thing that the
public never seem to suspect that there may be a poetry in painting, to
meet which, some preparation of sympathy, some harmony of circumstance,
is required; and that it is just as impossible to see half a dozen great
pictures as to read half a dozen great poems at the same time, if their
tendencies or their tones of feeling be contrary or discordant. Let us
imagine what would be the effect on the mind of any man of feeling, to
whom an eager friend, desirous of impressing upon him the merit of
different poets, should read successively, and without a pause, the
following passages, in which lie something of the prevailing character
of the works of six of our greatest modern artists:


    “His hair, his size, his mouth, his lugs,
     Show’d he was nane o’ Scotland’s dougs,
     But whalpit some place far abroad
     Whar sailors gang to fish for cod.”[25]


    “Far in the horizon to the north appear’d,
     From skirt to skirt, a fiery region, stretched
     In battailous aspéct, and nearer view
     Bristled with upright beams innumerable
     Of rigid spears, and helmets throng’d, and shields
     Various, with boastful argument portray’d.”


    “The risin’ moon began to glowr
     The distant Cumnock hills out owre;
     To count her horns, wi’ a’ my pow’r,
             I set mysel’;
     But whether she had three or fowr,
             I couldna tell.”


    “And thou, who tell’st me to forget,
     Thy looks are wan, thine eyes are wet.”


    “Ye mariners of England,
     Who guard our native seas,
     Whose flag has braved a thousand years
     The battle and the breeze.”


    “The point of one white star is quivering still,
     Deep in the orange light of widening dawn,
     Beyond the purple mountains. Through a chasm
     Of wind-divided mist the darker lake
     Reflects it, now it fades: it gleams again,
     As the waves fall, and as the burning threads
     Of woven cloud unravel in pale air,
     ’Tis lost! and through yon peaks of cloudlike snow
     The roseate sunlight quivers.”

Precisely to such advantage as the above passages, so placed,[26]
appear, are the works of any painter of mind seen in the Academy. None
suffer more than Turner’s, which are not only interfered with by the
prosaic pictures around them, but neutralize each other. Two works of
his, side by side, destroy each other to a dead certainty, for each is
so vast, so complete, so demandant of every power, so sufficient for
every desire of the mind, that it is utterly impossible for two to be
comprehended together. Each must have the undivided intellect, and each
is destroyed by the attraction of the other; and it is the chief power
and might of these pictures, that they are works for the closet and the
heart--works to be dwelt upon separately and devotedly, and then chiefly
when the mind is in its highest tone, and desirous of a beauty which may
be food for its immortality. It is the very stamp and essence of the
purest poetry, that it can only be so met and understood; and that the
clash of common interests, and the roar of the selfish world, must be
hushed about the heart, before it can hear the still, small voice,
wherein rests the power communicated from the Holiest.[27]

Can, then, will be, if I mistake not, the final inquiry of your
correspondent,--can, then, we ordinary mortals,--can I, who am not Sir
Augustus Callcott, nor Sir Francis Chantrey, ever derive any pleasure
from works of this lofty character? Heaven forbid, we reply, that it
should be otherwise. _Nothing_ more is necessary for the appreciation of
them, than that which is necessary for the appreciation of any great
writer--the quiet study of him with an humble heart. There are, indeed,
technical qualities, difficulties overcome and principles developed,
which are reserved for the enjoyment of the artist; but these do not add
to the influence of the picture. On the contrary, we must break through
its charm, before we can comprehend its means, and “murder to dissect.”
The picture is intended, not for artists alone, but for all who love
what it portrays; and so little doubt have we of the capacity of all to
understand the works in question, that we have the most confident
expectation, within the next fifty years, of seeing the name of Turner
placed on the same impregnable height with that of Shakespeare.[29] Both
have committed errors of taste and judgment. In both it is, or will be,
heresy even to feel those errors, so entirely are they overbalanced by
the gigantic powers of whose impetuosity they are the result. So soon as
the public are convinced, by the maintained testimony of high authority,
that Turner is worth understanding, they will try to understand him; and
if they try, they can. Nor are they, now, as is commonly thought,
despised or defied by him. He has too much respect for them to endeavor
to please them by falsehood. He will not win for himself a hearing by
the betrayal of his message.

Finally, then, we would recommend your correspondent, first, to divest
herself of every atom of lingering respect or regard for the common
criticism of the press, and to hold fast by the authority of Callcott,
Chantrey, Landseer, and Stanfield; and this, not because we would have
her _slavishly_ subject to any authority but that of her own eyes and
reason, but because we would not have her blown about with every wind of
doctrine, before she has convinced her reason or learned to use her
eyes. And if she can draw at all, let her make careful studies of any
natural objects that may happen to come in her way,--sticks, leaves, or
stones,--and of distant atmospheric effects on groups of objects; not
for the sake of the drawing itself, but for the sake of the powers of
attention and accurate observation which thus only can be cultivated.
And let her make the study, not thinking of this artist or of that; not
conjecturing what Harding would have done, or Stanfield, or Callcott,
with her subject; not trying to draw in a bold style, or a free style,
or any other style; but drawing _all_ she _sees_, as far as may be in
her power, earnestly, faithfully, unselectingly; and, which is perhaps
the more difficult task of the two, _not_ drawing what she does _not_
see. Oh, if people did but know how many lines nature _suggests_ without
_showing_, what different art should we have! And let her never be
discouraged by ill success. She will seldom have gained more knowledge
than when she most feels her failure. Let her use every opportunity of
examining the works of Turner; let her try to copy them, then try to
copy some one else’s, and observe which presents most of that kind of
difficulty which she found in copying nature. Let her, if possible,
extend her acquaintance with wild natural scenery of every kind and
character, endeavoring in each species of scenery to distinguish those
features which are expressive and harmonious from those which are
unaffecting or incongruous; and after a year or two of such discipline
as this, let her judge for herself. No authority need then, or can then,
be very influential with her. Her own pleasure in works of true
greatness[30] will be too real, too instinctive, to be persuaded or
laughed out of her. We bid her, therefore, heartily good-speed, with
this final warning: Let her beware, in going to nature, of taking with
her the commonplace dogmas or dicta of art. Let her not look for what is
like Titian or like Claude, for composed form or arranged chiaroscuro;
but believe that everything which God has made is beautiful, and that
everything which nature teaches is true. Let her beware, above
everything, of that wicked pride which makes man think he can dignify
God’s glorious creations, or exalt the majesty of his universe. Let her
be humble, we repeat, and earnest Truth was never sealed, if so sought.
And once more we bid her good-speed in the words of our poet-moralist:

    “Enough of Science and of Art:
      Seal up these barren leaves;
    Come forth, and bring with you a heart
      That watches, and receives.”[31]

I have the honor to be, Sir,
    Your obedient humble servant,

     [From “Some Account of the Origin and Objects of the New Oxford
     Examinations for the Title of Associate in Arts and Certificates,”
     by T. D. Acland, late Fellow of All Souls’ College, Oxford,[32]
     1858, pp. 54-60.]


PENRITH, Sept. 25, 1857.

MY DEAR SIR: I have just received your most interesting letter, and will
try to answer as shortly as I can, saying nothing of what I feel, and
what you must well know I should feel, respecting the difficulty of the
questions and their importance; except only this, that I should not have
had the boldness to answer your letter by return of post, unless, in
consequence of conversations on this subject with Mr. Acland and Dr.
Acland, two months ago, I had been lately thinking of it more than of
any other.[33]

Your questions fall under two heads: (1) The range which an art
examination can take; (2) The connection in which it should be placed
with other examinations.

I think the art examination should have three objects:

(1) To put the happiness and knowledge which the study of art conveys
within the conception of the youth, so that he may in after-life pursue
them, if he has the gift.

(2) To enforce, as far as possible, such knowledge of art among those
who are likely to become its patrons, or the guardian of its works, as
may enable them, usefully to fulfil those duties.

(3) To distinguish pre-eminent gift for the production of works of art,
so as to get hold of all the good artistical faculty born in the
country, and leave no Giotto lost among hill-shepherds.[34]

In order to accomplish the first object, I think that, according to Mr.
Acland’s proposal, preliminary knowledge of drawing and music should be
asked for, in connection with writing and arithmetic; but not, in the
preliminary examination, made to count towards distinction in other
schools. I think drawing is a necessary means of the expression of
certain facts of form and means of acquaintance with them, as arithmetic
is the means of acquaintance with facts of number. I think the facts
which an elementary knowledge of drawing enables a man to observe and
note are often of as much importance to him as those which he can
describe in words or calculate in numbers. And I think the cases in
which mental deficiency would prevent the acquirement of a serviceable
power of drawing would be found as rare as those in which no progress
could be made in arithmetic. I would not desire this elementary
knowledge to extend far, but the limits which I would propose are not
here in question. While I feel the force of all the admirable
observations of Mr. Hullah on the use of the study of music, I imagine
that the cases of physical incapacity of distinguishing sounds would be
too frequent to admit of musical knowledge being made a _requirement_; I
would _ask_ for it, in Mr. Acland’s sense; but the drawing might, I
think, be required, as arithmetic would be.

2. To accomplish the second object is the main difficulty. Touching
which I venture positively to state:

First. That sound criticism of art is impossible to young men, for it
consists principally, and in a far more exclusive sense than has yet
been felt, in the recognition of the facts represented by the art. A
great artist represents many and abstruse facts; it is necessary, in
order to judge of his works, that all those facts should be
experimentally (not by hearsay) known to the observer; whose recognition
of them constitutes his approving judgment. A young man _cannot_ know

Criticism of art by young men must, therefore, consist either in the
more or less apt retailing and application of received opinions, or in a
more or less immediate and dextrous use of the knowledge they already
possess, so as to be able to assert of given works of art that they are
true up to a certain point; the probability being then that they are
true farther than the young man sees.

The first kind of criticism is, in general, useless, if not harmful; the
second is that which the youths will employ who are capable of becoming
critics in after years.

Secondly. All criticism of art, at whatever period of life, must be
partial; warped more or less by the feelings of the person endeavoring
to judge. Certain merits of art (as energy, for instance) are pleasant
only to certain temperaments; and certain tendencies of art (as, for
instance, to religious sentiment) can only be sympathized with by one
order of minds. It is almost impossible to conceive of any mode of
examination which would set the students on anything like equitable
footing in such respects; but their sensibility to art may be generally

Thirdly. The history of art, or the study, in your accurate words,
“_about_ the subject,” is in no wise directly connected with the studies
which promote or detect art-capacity or art-judgment. It is quite
possible to acquire the most extensive and useful knowledge of the forms
of art existing in different ages, and among different nations, without
thereby acquiring any power whatsoever of determining respecting any of
them (much less respecting a modern work of art) whether it is good or

These three facts being so, we had perhaps best consider, first, what
direction the art studies of the youth should take, as that will at once
regulate the mode of examination.

First. He should be encouraged to carry forward the practical power of
drawing he has acquired in the elementary school. This should be done
chiefly by using that power as a help in other work: precision of touch
should be cultivated by map-drawing in his geography class; taste in
form by flower-drawing in the botanical schools; and bone and limb
drawing in the physiological schools. His art, kept thus to practical
service, will always be right as far as it goes; there will be no
affectation or shallowness in it. The work of the drawing-master would
be at first little more than the exhibition of the best means and
enforcement of the most perfect results in the collateral studies of

Secondly. His critical power should be developed by the presence around
him of the best models, _into the excellence of which his knowledge
permits him to enter_. He should be encouraged, above all things, to
form and express judgment of his own; not as if his judgment were of any
importance as related to the excellence of the thing, but that both his
master and he may know precisely in what state his mind is. He should be
told of an Albert Dürer engraving, “That _is_ good, whether you like it
or not; but be sure to determine _whether_ you do or do not, and why.”
All formal expressions of reasons for opinion, such as a boy could catch
up and repeat, should be withheld like poison; and all models which are
too good for him should be kept out of his way. Contemplation of works
of art without understanding them jades the faculties and enslaves the
intelligence. A Rembrandt etching is a better example to a boy than a
finished Titian, and a cast from a leaf than one of the Elgin marbles.

Thirdly. I would no more involve the art-schools in the study of the
history of art than surgical schools in that of the history of surgery.
But a general idea of the influence of art on the human mind ought to be
given by the study of history in the historical schools; the effect of a
picture, and power of a painter, being examined just as carefully (in
relation to its extent) as the effect of a battle and the power of a
general. History, in its full sense, involves subordinate knowledge of
all that influences the acts of mankind; it has hardly yet been written
at all, owing to the want of such subordinate knowledge in the
historians; it has been confined either to the relation of events by
eye-witnesses (the only valuable form of it), or the more or less
ingenious collation of such-relations. And it is especially desirable
to give history a more archæological range at this period, so that the
class of manufactures produced by a city at a given date should be made
of more importance in the student’s mind than the humors of the factions
that governed, or details of the accidents that preserved it, because
every day renders the destruction of historical memorials more complete
in Europe owing to the total want of interest in them felt by its upper
and middle classes.

Fourthly. Where the faculty for art was special, it ought to be carried
forward to the study of design, first in practical application to
manufacture, then in higher branches of composition. The general
principles of the application of art to manufacture should be explained
in all cases, whether of special or limited faculty. Under this head we
may at once get rid of the third question stated in the first page--how
to detect special gift. The power of drawing from a given form
accurately would not be enough to prove this: the additional power of
design, with that of eye for color, which could be tested in the class
concerned with manufacture, would justify the master in advising and
encouraging the youth to undertake special pursuit of art as an object
of life.

It seems easy, on the supposition of such a course of study, to conceive
a mode of examination which would test relative excellence. I cannot
suggest the kind of questions which ought to be put to the class
occupied with sculpture; but in my own business of painting, I should
put, in general, such tasks and questions as these:

(1) “Sketch such and such an object” (given a difficult one, as a bird,
complicated piece of drapery, or foliage) “as completely as you can in
light and shade in half an hour.”

(2) “Finish such and such a portion of it” (given a very small portion)
“as perfectly as you can, irrespective of time.”

(3) “Sketch it in color in half an hour.”

(4) “Design an ornament for a given place and purpose.”

(5) “Sketch a picture of a given historical event in pen and ink.”

(6) “Sketch it in colors.”

(7) “Name the picture you were most interested in in the Royal Academy
Exhibition of this year. State in writing what you suppose to be its
principal merits--faults--the reasons of the _interest_ you took in it.”

I think it is only the fourth of these questions which would admit of
much change; and the seventh, in the name of the exhibition; the
question being asked, without previous knowledge by the students,
respecting some _one_ of four or five given exhibitions which should be
visited before the Examination.

This being my general notion of what an Art-Examination should be, the
second great question remains of the division of schools and connection
of studies.

Now I have not yet considered--I have not, indeed, knowledge enough to
enable me to consider--what the practical convenience or results of
given arrangements would be. But the logical and harmonious arrangement
is surely a simple one; and it seems to me as if it would not be
inconvenient, namely (requiring elementary drawing with arithmetic in
the preliminary Examination), that there should then be three advanced

     A. The School of Literature (occupied chiefly in the study of human
     emotion and history).

     B. The School of Science (occupied chiefly in the study of external
     facts and existences of constant kind).

     C. The School of Art (occupied in the development of active and
     productive human faculties).

In the school A, I would include Composition in all languages, Poetry,
History, Archæology, Ethics.

In the school B, Mathematics, Political Economy, the Physical Sciences
(including Geography and Medicine).

In the school C, Painting, Sculpture, including Architecture,
Agriculture, Manufacture, War, Music, Bodily Exercises (Navigation in
seaport schools), including laws of health.

I should require, for a first class, proficiency in two schools; not, of
course, in all the subjects of each chosen school, but in a well-chosen
and combined group of them. Thus, I should call a very good first-class
man one who had got some such range of subjects, and such proficiency in
each, as this:

  English, Greek, and Mediæval-Italian Literature                      High.
  English and French History, and Archæology                        Average.
  Conic Sections                                 Thorough, as far as learnt.
  Political Economy                              Thorough, as far as learnt.
  Botany, _or_ Chemistry, _or_ Physiology                                  High.
  Painting                                                          Average.
  Music                                                             Average.
  Bodily Exercises                                                     High.

I have written you a sadly long letter, but I could not manage to get it

Believe me, my dear Sir,
Very faithfully and respectfully yours,


Perhaps I had better add what to you, but not to every one who considers
such a scheme of education, would be palpable--that the main value of it
would be brought out by judicious involution of its studies. This, for
instance, would be the kind of Examination Paper I should hope for in
the Botanical Class:

1. State the habit of such and such a plant.

2. Sketch its leaf, and a portion of its ramifications (memory).

3. Explain the mathematical laws of its growth and structure.

4. Give the composition of its juices in different seasons.

5. Its uses? Its relations to other families of plants, and conceivable
uses beyond those known?

6. Its commercial value in London? Mode of cultivation?

7. Its mythological meaning? The commonest or most beautiful fables
respecting it?

8. Quote any important references to it by great poets.

9. Time of its introduction.

10. Describe its consequent influence on civilization.

Of all these ten questions, there is not one which does not test the
student in other studies than botany. Thus, 1, Geography; 2, Drawing; 3,
Mathematics; 4, 5, Chemistry; 6, Political Economy; 7, 8, 9, 10,

Of course the plants required to be thus studied could be but few, and
would rationally be chosen from the most useful of foreign plants, and
those common and indigenous in England. All sciences should, I think, be
taught more for the sake of their facts, and less for that of their
system, than heretofore. Comprehensive and connected views are
impossible to most men; the systems they learn are nothing but skeletons
to them; but nearly all men can understand the relations of a few facts
bearing on daily business, and to be exemplified in common substances.
And science will soon be so vast that the most comprehensive men will
still be narrow, and we shall see the fitness of rather teaching our
youth to concentrate their general intelligence highly on given points
than scatter it towards an infinite horizon from which they can fetch
nothing, and to which they can carry nothing.

[From “Nature and Art,” December 1, 1866.]


DEAR MR. WILLIAMS:[35] I like your plan of teaching by letter
exceedingly: and not only so, but have myself adopted it largely, with
the help of an intelligent under-master, whose operations, however, so
far from interfering with, you will much facilitate, if you can bring
this literary way of teaching into more accepted practice. I wish we had
more drawing-masters who were able to give instruction definite enough
to be expressed in writing: many can teach nothing but a few tricks of
the brush, and have nothing to write, because nothing to tell.

With every wish for your success,--a wish which I make quite as much in
your pupils’ interest as in your own,--

Believe me, always faithfully yours,

DENMARK HILL, _November, 1860_.







[From “The Times,” January 7, 1847.]


_To the Editor of “The Times.”_

SIR: As I am sincerely desirous that a stop may be put to the dangerous
process of cleaning lately begun in our National Gallery, and as I
believe that what is right is most effectively when most kindly
advocated, and what is true most convincingly when least passionately
asserted, I was grieved to see the violent attack upon Mr. Eastlake in
your columns of Friday last; yet not less surprised at the attempted
defence which appeared in them yesterday.[37] The outcry which has
arisen upon this subject has been just, but it has been too loud; the
injury done is neither so great nor so wilful as has been asserted, and
I fear that the respect which might have been paid to remonstrance may
be refused to clamor.

I was inclined at first to join as loudly as any in the hue and cry.
Accustomed, as I have been, to look to England as the refuge of the
pictorial as of all other distress, and to hope that, having no high art
of her own, she would at least protect what she could not produce, and
respect what she could not restore, I could not but look upon the attack
which has been made upon the pictures in question as on the violation of
a sanctuary. I had seen in Venice the noblest works of Veronese painted
over with flake-white with a brush fit for tarring ships; I had seen in
Florence Angelico’s highest inspiration rotted and seared into fragments
of old wood, burnt into blisters, or blotted into glutinous maps of
mildew;[38] I had seen in Paris Raphael restored by David and Vernet;
and I returned to England in the one last trust that, though her
National Gallery was an European jest, her art a shadow, and her
connoisseurship an hypocrisy, though she neither knew how to cherish nor
how to choose, and lay exposed to the cheats of every vender of old
canvas--yet that such good pictures as through chance or oversight might
find their way beneath that preposterous portico, and into those
melancholy and miserable rooms, were at least to be vindicated
thenceforward from the mercy of republican, priest, or painter, safe
alike from musketry, monkery, and manipulation.

But whatever pain I may feel at the dissipation of this dream, I am not
disposed altogether to deny the necessity of some illuminatory process
with respect to pictures exposed to a London atmosphere and populace.
Dust an inch thick, accumulated upon the panes in the course of the day,
and darkness closing over the canvas like a curtain, attest too forcibly
the influence on floor and air of the “mutable, rank-scented, many.” It
is of little use to be over-anxious for the preservation of pictures
which we cannot see; the only question is, whether in the present
instance the process may not have been carried perilously far, and
whether in future simpler and safer means may not be adopted to remove
the coat of dust and smoke, without affecting either the glazing of the
picture, or, what is almost as precious, the mellow tone left by time.

As regards the “Peace and War,”[39] I have no hesitation in asserting
that for the present it is utterly and forever partially destroyed. I am
not disposed lightly to impugn the judgment of Mr. Eastlake, but this
was indisputably of all the pictures in the Gallery that which least
required, and least could endure, the process of cleaning. It was in the
most advantageous condition under which a work of Rubens can be seen;
mellowed by time into more perfect harmony than when it left the easel,
enriched and warmed, without losing any of its freshness or energy. The
execution of the master is always so bold and frank as to be completely,
perhaps even most agreeably, seen under circumstances of obscurity,
which would be injurious to pictures of greater refinement; and, though
this was, indeed, one of his most highly finished and careful works (to
my mind, before it suffered this recent injury, far superior to
everything at Antwerp, Malines, or Cologne), this was a more weighty
reason for caution than for interference. Some portions of color have
been exhibited which were formerly untraceable; but even these have lost
in power what they have gained in definiteness--the majesty and
preciousness of all the tones are departed, the balance of distances
lost. Time may perhaps restore something of the glow, but never the
subordination; and the more delicate portions of flesh tint, especially
the back of the female figure on the left, and of the boy in the centre,
are destroyed forever.

The large Cuyp[40] is, I think, nearly uninjured. Many portions of the
foreground painting have been revealed, which were before only to be
traced painfully, if at all. The distance has indeed lost the appearance
of sunny haze, which was its chief charm, but this I have little doubt
it originally did not possess, and in process of time may recover.

The “Bacchus and Ariadne”[41] of Titian has escaped so scot free that,
not knowing it had been cleaned, I passed it without noticing any
change. I observed only that the blue of the distance was more intense
than I had previously thought it, though, four years ago, I said of that
distance that it was “difficult to imagine anything more magnificently
impossible, not from its vividness, but because it is _not faint and
aërial enough_ to account for its purity of color. There is so total a
want of atmosphere in it, that but for the difference of form it would
be impossible to distinguish the mountains from the robe of

Your correspondent is alike unacquainted with the previous condition of
this picture, and with the character of Titian distances in general,
when he complains of a loss of aërial quality resulting in the present
case from cleaning.

I unfortunately did not see the new Velasquez[43] until it had undergone
its discipline; but I have seldom met with an example of the master
which gave me more delight, or which I believe to be in more genuine or
perfect condition. I saw no traces of the retouching which is hinted at
by your correspondent “Verax,” nor are the touches on that canvas such
as to admit of very easy or untraceable interpolation of meaner
handling. His complaint of loss of substance in the figures of the
foreground is, I have no doubt, altogether groundless. He has seen
little southern scenery if he supposes that the brilliancy and apparent
nearness of the silver clouds is in the slightest degree overcharged;
and shows little appreciation of Velasquez in supposing him to have
sacrificed the solemnity and might of such a distance to the inferior
interest of the figures in the foreground. Had he studied the picture
attentively, he might have observed that the position of the horizon
suggests, and the _lateral_ extent of the foreground _proves_, such a
distance between the spectator and even its nearest figures as may well
justify the slightness of their execution.

Even granting that some of the upper glazings of the figures had been
removed, the tone of the whole picture is so light, gray, and
glittering, and the dependence on the power of its whites so absolute,
that I think the process hardly to be regretted which has left these in
lustre so precious, and restored to a brilliancy which a comparison with
any modern work of similar aim would render apparently supernatural, the
sparkling motion of its figures and the serene snow of its sky.

I believe I have stated to its fullest extent all the harm that has yet
been done, yet I earnestly protest against any continuance of the
treatment to which these pictures have been subjected. It is useless to
allege that nothing but discolored varnish has been withdrawn, for it is
perfectly possible to alter the structure and continuity, and so destroy
the aërial relations of colors of which no part has been removed. I have
seen the dark blue of a water-color drawing made opaque and pale merely
by mounting it; and even supposing no other injury were done, every time
a picture is cleaned it loses, like a restored building, part of its
authority; and is thenceforward liable to dispute and suspicion, every
one of its beauties open to question, while its faults are screened from
accusation. It cannot be any more reasoned from with security; for,
though allowance may be made for the effect of time, no one can
calculate the arbitrary and accidental changes occasioned by violent
cleaning. None of the varnishes should be attacked; whatever the medium
used, nothing but soot and dust should be taken away, and that chiefly
by delicate and patient friction; and, in order to protract as long as
possible the necessity even for this all the important pictures in the
gallery should at once be put under glass,[44] and closed, not merely
by hinged doors, like the Correggio, but permanently and securely. I
should be glad to see this done in all rich galleries, but it is
peculiarly necessary in the case of pictures exposed in London, and to a
crowd freely admitted four days in the week; it would do good also by
necessitating the enlargement of the rooms, and the bringing down of all
the pictures to the level of the eye. Every picture that is worth buying
or retaining is worth exhibiting in its proper place, and if its scale
be large, and its handling rough, there is the more instruction to be
gained by close study of the various means adopted by the master to
secure his distant effect. We can certainly spare both the ground and
the funds which would enable us to exhibit pictures for which no price
is thought too large, and for all purposes of study and for most of
enjoyment pictures are useless when they are even a little above the
line. The fatigue complained of by most persons in examining a picture
gallery is attributable, not only to the number of works, but to their
confused order of succession, and to the straining of the sight in
endeavoring to penetrate the details of those above the eye. Every
gallery should be long enough to admit of its whole collection being
hung in one line, side by side, and wide enough to allow of the
spectators retiring to the distance at which the largest picture was
intended to be seen. The works of every master should be brought
together and arranged in chronological order; and such drawings or
engravings as may exist in the collection, either of, or for, its
pictures, or in any way illustrative of them, should be placed in frames
opposite each, in the middle of the room.

But, Sir, the subjects of regret connected with the present management
of our national collection are not to be limited either to its treatment
or its arrangement. The principles of selection which have been acted
upon in the course of the last five or six years have been as
extraordinary as unjustifiable. Whatever may be the intrinsic power,
interest, or artistical ability of the earlier essays of any school of
art, it cannot be disputed that characteristic examples of every one of
its most important phases should form part of a national collection:
granting them of little value individually, their collective teaching is
of irrefragable authority; and the exhibition of perfected results
alone, while the course of national progress through which these were
reached is altogether concealed, is more likely to discourage than to
assist the efforts of an undeveloped school. Granting even what the
shallowest materialism of modern artists would assume, that the works of
Perugino were of no value, but as they taught Raphael; that John Bellini
is altogether absorbed and overmastered by Titian; that Nino Pisano was
utterly superseded by Bandinelli or Cellini, and Ghirlandajo sunk in the
shadow of Buonaroti: granting Van Eyck to be a mere mechanist, and
Giotto a mere child, and Angelico a superstitious monk, and whatever you
choose to grant that ever blindness deemed or insolence affirmed, still
it is to be maintained and proved, that if we wish to have a Buonaroti
or a Titian of our own, we shall with more wisdom learn of those of whom
Buonaroti and Titian learned, and at whose knees they were brought up,
and whom to their day of death they ever revered and worshipped, than of
those wretched pupils and partisans who sank every high function of art
into a form and a faction, betrayed her trusts, darkened her traditions,
overthrew her throne, and left us where we are now, stumbling among its
fragments. Sir, if the canvases of Guido, lately introduced into the
gallery,[45] had been works of the best of those pupils, which they are
not; if they had been good works of even that bad master, which they
are not; if they had been genuine and untouched works, even though
feeble, which they are not; if, though false and retouched remnants of a
feeble and fallen school, they had been endurably decent or elementarily
instructive--some conceivable excuse might perhaps have been by
ingenuity forged, and by impudence uttered, for their introduction into
a gallery where we previously possessed two good Guidos,[46] and no
Perugino (for the attribution to him of the wretched panel which now
bears his name is a mere insult), no Angelico, no Fra Bartolomeo, no
Albertinelli, no Ghirlandajo, no Verrochio, no Lorenzo di Credi--(what
shall I more say, for the time would fail me?) But now, Sir, what
vestige of apology remains for the cumbering our walls with pictures
that have no single virtue, no color, no drawing, no character, no
history, no thought? Yet 2,000 guineas were, I believe, given for one of
those encumbrances, and 5,000 for the coarse and unnecessary Rubens,[47]
added to a room half filled with Rubens before, while a mighty and
perfect work of Angelico was sold from Cardinal Fesch’s collection for
1,500.[48] I do not speak of the spurious Holbein,[49] for though the
veriest tyro might well be ashamed of such a purchase, it would have
been a judicious addition had it been genuine; so was the John Bellini,
so was the Van Eyck; but the mighty Venetian master, who alone of all
the painters of Italy united purity of religious aim with perfection of
artistical power, is poorly represented by a single head;[50] and I ask,
in the name of the earnest students of England, that the funds set apart
for her gallery may no longer be played with like pebbles in London
auction-rooms. Let agents be sent to all the cities of Italy; let the
noble pictures which are perishing there be rescued from the
invisibility and ill-treatment which their position too commonly
implies, and let us have a national collection which, however imperfect,
shall be orderly and continuous, and shall exhibit with something like
relative candor and justice the claims to our reverence of those great
and ancient builders, whose mighty foundation has been for two centuries
concealed by wood, and hay, and stubble, the distorted growing, and thin
gleaning of vain men in blasted fields.

I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,

_January 6._

[From “The Times,” December 29, 1852.]


_To the Editor of “The Times.”_

SIR: I trust that the excitement which has been caused by the alleged
destruction of some of the most important pictures in the National
Gallery will not be without results, whatever may be the facts of the
case with respect to the works in question. Under the name of
“restoration,” the ruin of the noblest architecture and painting is
constant throughout Europe. We shall show ourselves wiser than our
neighbors if the loss of two Claudes and the injury of a Paul
Veronese[51] induce us to pay so much attention to the preservation of
ancient art as may prevent it from becoming a disputed question in
future whether they are indeed pictures which we possess or their

As to the facts in the present instance, I can give no opinion. Sir
Charles Eastlake and Mr. Uwins[52] know more than I of oil paintings in
general, and have far more profound respect for those of Claude in
particular. I do not suppose they would have taken from him his golden
armor that Turner might bear away a dishonorable victory in the noble
passage of arms to which he has challenged his rival from the grave.[53]
Nor can the public suppose that the Curators of the National Gallery
have any interest in destroying the works with which they are intrusted.
If, acting to the best of their judgment, they have done harm, to whom
are we to look for greater prudence or better success? Are the public
prepared to withdraw their confidence from Sir C. Eastlake and the
members of the Royal Academy, and entrust the national property to Mr.
Morris Moore, or to any of the artists and amateurs who have inflamed
the sheets of _The Times_ with their indignation? Is it not evident that
the only security which the nation can possess for its pictures must be
found in taking such measures as may in future prevent the necessity of
their being touched at all? For this is very certain, that all question
respecting the effects of cleaning is merely one of the amount of
injury. Every picture which has undergone more friction than is
necessary at intervals for the removal of dust or dirt, has suffered
injury to some extent. The last touches of the master leave the surface
of the color with a certain substantial texture, the bloom of which, if
once reached under the varnish, must inevitably be more or less removed
by friction of any kind--how much more by friction aided by solvents? I
am well assured that every possessor of pictures who truly loves them,
would keep--if it might be--their surfaces from being so much as
breathed upon, which may, indeed, be done, and done easily.

Every stranger who enters our National Gallery, if he be a thoughtful
person, must assuredly put to himself a curious question. Perceiving
that certain pictures--namely, three Correggios, two Raphaels and a John
Bellini--are put under glass,[54] and that all the others are left
exposed, as oil pictures are in general, he must ask himself, “Is it an
ascertained fact that glass preserves pictures; and are none of the
pictures here thought worth a pane of glass but these five?[55] Or is it
unascertained whether glass is beneficial or injurious, and have the
Raphaels and Correggios been selected for the trial--‘_Fiat experimentum
in corpore vili?_’” Some years ago it might have been difficult to
answer him; now the answer is easy, though it be strange. The experiment
has been made. The Raphaels and Correggios have been under glass for
many years: they are as fresh and lovely as when they were first
enclosed; they need no cleaning, and will need none for half a century
to come; and it must be, therefore, that the rest of the pictures are
left exposed to the London atmosphere, and to the operations which its
influence renders necessary, simply because they are not thought worth a
pane of plate glass. No: there is yet one other possible answer--that
many of them are hung so high, or in such lights, that they could not be
seen if they were glazed. Is it then absolutely necessary that they
should be hung so high? We are about to build a new National Gallery;
may it not be so arranged as that the pictures we place therein may at
once be safe and visible?

I know that this has never yet been done in any gallery in Europe, for
the European public have never yet reflected that a picture which was
worth buying was also worth seeing. Some time or other they will
assuredly awake to the perception of this wonderful truth, and it would
be some credit to our English common-sense if we were the first to act
upon it.

I say that a picture which is worth buying is also worth seeing; that
is, worth so much room of ground and wall as shall enable us to see it
to the best advantage. It is not commonly so understood. Nations, like
individuals, buy their pictures in mere ostentation; and are content, so
that their possessions are acknowledged, that they should be hung in any
dark or out-of-the-way corners which their frames will fit. Or, at best,
the popular idea of a national gallery is that of a magnificent palace,
whose walls must be decorated with colored panels, every one of which
shall cost £1,000, and be discernible, through a telescope, for the work
of a mighty hand.

I have no doubt that in a few years more there will be a change of
feeling in this matter, and that men will begin to perceive, what is
indeed the truth--that every noble picture is a manuscript book, of
which only one copy exists, or ever can exist; that a national gallery
is a great library,[56] of which the books must be read upon their
shelves; but every manuscript ought, therefore, to be placed where it
can be read most easily; and that the style of the architecture and the
effect of the saloons are matters of no importance whatsoever, but that
our solicitude ought to begin and end in the two imperative
requirements--that every picture in the gallery should be perfectly seen
and perfectly safe; that none should be thrust up, or down, or aside, to
make room for more important ones; that all should be in a good light,
all on a level with the eye, and all secure from damp, cold, impurity of
atmosphere, and every other avoidable cause of deterioration.

These are the things to be accomplished; and if we set ourselves to do
these in our new National Gallery,[57] we shall have made a greater step
in art-teaching than if we had built a new Parthenon. I know that it
will be a strange idea to most of us that Titians and Tintorets ought,
indeed, all to have places upon “the line,” as well as the annual
productions of our Royal Academicians; and I know that the _coup
d’œil_ of the Gallery must be entirely destroyed by such an
arrangement. But great pictures ought not to be subjects of “_coups
d’œil_.” In the last arrangement of the Louvre, under the Republic,
all the noble pictures in the gallery were brought into one room, with a
Napoleon-like resolution to produce effect by concentration of force;
and, indeed, I would not part willingly with the memory of that saloon,
whose obscurest shadows were full of Correggio; in whose out-of-the-way
angles one forgot, here and there, a Raphæl; and in which the best
Tintoret on this side of the Alps was hung sixty feet from the
ground![58] But Cleopatra dissolving the pearl was nothing to this; and
I trust that, in our own Gallery, our poverty, if not our will, may
consent to a more modest and less lavish manner of displaying such
treasures as are intrusted to us; and that the very limitation of our
possessions may induce us to make that the object of our care which can
hardly be a ground of ostentation. It might, indeed, be a matter of some
difficulty to conceive an arrangement of the collections in the Louvre
or the Florence Gallery which should admit of every picture being hung
upon the line. But the works in our own, including the Vernon and Turner
bequests,[59] present no obstacle in their number to our making the
building which shall receive them a perfect model of what a National
Gallery ought to be. And the conditions of this perfection are so simple
that if we only turn our attention to these main points it will need no
great architectural ingenuity to attain all that is required.

It is evident, in the first place, that the building ought to consist of
a series of chambers or galleries lighted from above, and built with
such reference to the pictures they are to contain, as that opposite a
large picture room enough should be allowed for the spectator to retire
to the utmost distance at which it can ever be desirable that its effect
should be seen; but, as economy of space would become a most important
object when every picture was to be hung on a level with the eye,
smaller apartments might open from the larger ones for the reception of
smaller pictures, one condition being, however, made imperative,
whatever space was sacrificed to it--namely, that the works of every
master should be collected together, either in the same apartment or in
contiguous ones. Nothing has so much retarded the advance of art as our
miserable habit of mixing the works of every master and of every
century. More would be learned by an ordinarily intelligent observer in
simply passing from a room in which there were only Titians, to another
in which there were only Caraccis, than by reading a volume of lectures
on color. Few minds are strong enough first to abstract and then to
generalize the characters of paintings hung at random. Few minds are so
dull as not at once to perceive the points of difference, were the works
of each painter set by themselves. The fatigue of which most persons
complain in passing through a picture gallery, as at present arranged,
is indeed partly caused by the straining effort to see what is out of
sight, but not less by the continual change of temper and of tone of
thought, demanded in passing from the work of one master to that of

The works of each being, therefore, set by themselves,[60] and the whole
collection arranged in chronological and ethnological order, let
apartments be designed for each group large enough to admit of the
increase of the existing collection to any probable amount. The whole
gallery would thus become of great length, but might be adapted to any
form of ground-plan by disposing the whole in a labyrinthine chain,
returning upon itself. Its chronological arrangement would necessitate
its being continuous, rather than divided into many branches or
sections. Being lighted from above, it must be all on the same floor,
but ought at least to be raised one story above the ground, and might
admit any number of keepers’ apartments, or of schools, beneath; though
it would be better to make it quite independent of these, in order to
diminish the risk of fire. Its walls ought on every side to be
surrounded by corridors, so that the interior temperature might be kept
equal, and no outer surface of wall on which pictures were hung exposed
to the weather. Every picture should be glazed, and the horizon which
the painter had given to it placed on a level with the eye.

Lastly, opposite each picture should be a table, containing, under
glass, every engraving that had ever been made from it, and any studies
for it, by the master’s own hand, that remained, or were obtainable. The
values of the study and of the picture are reciprocally increased--of
the former more than doubled--by their being seen together; and if this
system were once adopted, the keepers of the various galleries of Europe
would doubtless consent to such exchanges of the sketches in their
possession as would render all their collections more interesting.

I trust, Sir, that the importance of this subject will excuse the extent
of my trespass upon your columns, and that the simplicity and
self-evident desirableness of the arrangement I have described may
vindicate my proposal of it from the charge of presumption.

I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,


[From “The Times,” January 27, 1866.]


_To the Editor of “The Times.”_

SIR: As I see in your impression of yesterday that my name was
introduced in support of some remarks made, at the meeting of the
Society of Arts, on the management of the British Museum,[61] and as the
tendency of the remarks I refer to was depreciatory of the efforts and
aims of several officers of the Museum--more especially of the work done
on the collection of minerals by my friend Mr. Nevil S.
Maskelyne[62]--you will, I hope, permit me, not having been present at
the meeting, to express my feeling on the subject briefly in your

There is a confused notion in the existing public mind that the British
Museum was partly a parish school, partly a circulating library, and
partly a place for Christmas entertainments.

It is none of the three, and, I hope, will never be made any of the
three. But especially and most distinctly it is not a “preparatory
school,” nor even an “academy for young gentlemen,” nor even a
“working-men’s college.” A national museum is one thing, a national
place of education another; and the more sternly and unequivocally they
are separated, the better will each perform its office--the one of
treasuring and the other of teaching. I heartily wish that there were
already, as one day there must be, large educational museums in every
district of London, freely open every day, and well lighted and warmed
at night, with all furniture of comfort, and full aids for the use of
their contents by all classes. But you might just as rationally send the
British public to the Tower to study mineralogy upon the Crown jewels as
make the unique pieces of a worthy national collection (such as, owing
mainly to the exertions of its maligned officers, that of our British
Museum has recently become) the means of elementary public instruction.
After men have learnt their science or their art, at least so far as to
know a common and a rare example in either, a national museum is useful,
and ought to be easily accessible to them; but until then, unique or
selected specimens in natural history are without interest to them, and
the best art is as useless as a blank wall. For all those who can use
the existing national collection to any purpose, the Catalogue as it now
stands is amply sufficient: it would be difficult to conceive a more
serviceable one. But the rapidly progressive state of (especially
mineralogical) science, renders it impossible for the Curators to make
their arrangements in all points satisfactory, or for long periods
permanent. It is just because Mr. Maskelyne is doing more active,
continual, and careful work than, as far as I know, is at present done
in any national museum in Europe--because he is completing gaps in the
present series by the intercalation of carefully sought specimens, and
accurately reforming its classification by recently corrected
analyses--that the collection cannot yet fall into the formal and placid
order in which an indolent Curator would speedily arrange and willingly
leave it.

I am glad that Lord H. Lennox referred to the passage in my report on
the Turner Collection in which I recommended that certain portions of
that great series should be distributed, for permanence, among our
leading provincial towns.[63] But I had rather see the whole Turner
Collection buried, not merely in the cellars of the National Gallery,
but with Prospero’s staff fathoms in the earth, than that it should be
the means of inaugurating the fatal custom of carrying great works of
art about the roads for a show. If you _must_ make them educational to
the public, hang Titian’s Bacchus up for a vintner’s sign, and give
Henry VI.’s Psalter[64] for a spelling-book to the Bluecoat School;
but, at least, hang the one from a permanent post, and chain the other
to the boys’ desks, and do not send them about in caravans to every
annual Bartholomew Fair.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

DENMARK HILL, _Jan. 26._

[From “The Leicester Chronicle and Mercury,” January 31, and reprinted in “The
Times,” February 2, 1880.]


DEAR SIR: Your letter is deeply interesting to me, but what use is there
in my telling you what to do? The mob won’t let you do it. It is fatally
true that no one nowadays can appreciate pictures by the Old Masters!
and that every one can understand Frith’s “Derby Day”--that is to say,
everybody is interested in jockeys, harlots, mountebanks, and men about
town; but nobody in saints, heroes, kings, or wise men--either from the
east or west. What can you do? If your Committee is strong enough to
carry such a resolution as the appointment of any _singly_ responsible
person, any well-informed gentleman of taste in your neighborhood, to
buy for the Leicester public just what he would buy for himself--that is
to say, himself _and his family_--children being the really most
important of the untaught public--and to answer simply to all
accusation--that is, a good and worthy piece of art (past or present, no
matter which)--make the most and best you can of it. That method so long
as tenable will be useful. I know of no other.

Faithfully yours,
    J. RUSKIN.[65]







[From “The Times,” May 13, 1851.]


_To the Editor of “The Times.”_

SIR: Your usual liberality will, I trust, give a place in your columns
to this expression of my regret that the tone of the critique which
appeared in _The Times_ of Wednesday last on the works of Mr. Millais
and Mr. Hunt, now in the Royal Academy, should have been scornful as
well as severe.[66]

I regret it, first, because the mere labor bestowed on those works, and
their fidelity to a certain order of truth (labor and fidelity which are
altogether indisputable), ought at once to have placed them above the
level of mere contempt; and, secondly, because I believe these young
artists to be at a most critical period of their career--at a
turning-point, from which they may either sink into nothingness or rise
to very real greatness; and I believe also, that whether they choose the
upward or the downward path, may in no small degree depend upon the
character of the criticism which their works have to sustain. I do not
wish in any way to dispute or invalidate the general truth of your
critique on the Royal Academy; nor am I surprised at the estimate which
the writer formed of the pictures in question when rapidly compared with
works of totally different style and aim; nay, when I first saw the
chief picture by Millais in the Exhibition of last year,[67] I had
nearly come to the same conclusion myself. But I ask your permission, in
justice to artists who have at least given much time and toil to their
pictures, to institute some more serious inquiry into their merits and
faults than your general notice of the Academy could possibly have

Let me state, in the first place, that I have no acquaintance with any
of these artists, and very imperfect sympathy with them. No one who has
met with any of my writings will suspect me of desiring to encourage
them in their Romanist and Tractarian tendencies.[68] I am glad to see
that Mr. Millais’ lady in blue[69] is heartily tired of her painted
window and idolatrous toilet table; and I have no particular respect
for Mr. Collins’ lady in white, because her sympathies are limited by a
dead wall, or divided between some gold fish and a tadpole--(the latter
Mr. Collins may, perhaps, permit me to suggest _en passant_, as he is
already half a frog, is rather too small for his age). But I happen to
have a special acquaintance with the water plant, _Alisma Plantago_,
among which the said gold fish are swimming; and as I never saw it so
thoroughly or so well drawn, I must take leave to remonstrate with you,
when you say sweepingly that these men “sacrifice _truth_ as well as
feeling to eccentricity.” For as a mere botanical study of the
water-lily and _Alisma_, as well as of the common lily and several other
garden flowers, this picture would be invaluable to me, and I heartily
wish it were mine.

But, before entering into such particulars, let me correct an impression
which your article is likely to induce in most minds, and which is
altogether false. These pre-Raphaelites (I cannot compliment them on
common-sense in choice of a _nom de guerre_) do _not_ desire nor pretend
in any way to imitate antique painting as such. They know very little of
ancient paintings who suppose the works of these young artists to
resemble them.[70] As far as I can judge of their aim--for, as I said,
I do not know the men themselves--the pre-Raphaelites intend to
surrender no advantage which the knowledge or inventions of the present
time can afford to their art. They intend to return to early days in
this one point only--that, as far as in them lies, they will draw either
what they see, or what they suppose might have been the actual facts of
the scene they desire to represent, irrespective of any conventional
rules of picture-making; and they have chosen their unfortunate though
not inaccurate name because all artists did this before Raphael’s time,
and after Raphael’s time did _not_ this, but sought to paint fair
pictures, rather than represent stern facts; of which the consequence
has been that, from Raphael’s time to this day, historical art has been
in acknowledged decadence.

Now, sir, presupposing that the intention of these men was to return to
archaic _art_ instead of to archaic _honesty_, your critic borrows
Fuseli’s expression respecting ancient draperies “snapped instead of
folded,” and asserts that in these pictures there is a “_servile_
imitation of _false_ perspective.” To which I have just this to answer:

That there is not one single error in perspective in four out of the
five pictures in question; and that in Millais’ “Mariana” there is but
this one--that the top of the green curtain in the distant window has
too low a vanishing-point; and that I will undertake, if need be, to
point out and prove a dozen worse errors in perspective in any twelve
pictures, containing architecture, taken at random from among the works
of the popular painters of the day.

Secondly: that, putting aside the small Mulready, and the works of
Thorburn and Sir W. Ross, and perhaps some others of those in the
miniature room which I have not examined, there is not a single study of
drapery in the whole Academy, be it in large works or small, which for
perfect truth, power, and finish could be compared for an instant with
the black sleeve of the Julia, or with the velvet on the breast and the
chain mail of the Valentine, of Mr. Hunt’s picture; or with the white
draperies on the table of Mr. Millais’ “Mariana,” and of the right-hand
figure in the same painter’s “Dove returning to the Ark.”

And further: that as studies both of drapery and of every minor detail,
there has been nothing in art so earnest or so complete as these
pictures since the days of Albert Dürer. This I assert generally and
fearlessly. On the other hand, I am perfectly ready to admit that Mr.
Hunt’s “Silvia” is not a person whom Proteus or any one else would have
been likely to fall in love with at first sight; and that one cannot
feel very sincere delight that Mr. Millais’ “Wives of the Sons of Noah”
should have escaped the Deluge; with many other faults besides, on which
I will not enlarge at present, because I have already occupied too much
of your valuable space, and I hope to enter into more special criticism
in a future letter.

I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,


[From “The Times,” May 30, 1851.]


_To the Editor of “The Times.”_

SIR: Your obliging insertion of my former letter encourages me to
trouble you with one or two further notes respecting the pre-Raphaelite
pictures. I had intended, in continuation of my first letter, to
institute as close an inquiry as I could into the character of the
morbid tendencies which prevent these works from favorably arresting the
attention of the public; but I believe there are so few pictures in the
Academy whose reputation would not be grievously diminished by a
deliberate inventory of their errors, that I am disinclined to undertake
so ungracious a task with respect to this or that particular work. These
points, however, may be noted, partly for the consideration of the
painters themselves, partly that forgiveness of them may be asked from
the public in consideration of high merits in other respects.

The most painful of these defects is unhappily also the most
prominent--the commonness of feature in many of the principal figures.
In Mr. Hunt’s “Valentine defending Sylvia,” this is, indeed, almost the
only fault. Further examination of this picture has even raised the
estimate I had previously formed of its marvellous truth in detail and
splendor in color; nor is its general conception less deserving of
praise: the action of Valentine, his arm thrown round Sylvia, and his
hand clasping hers at the same instant as she falls at his feet, is most
faithful and beautiful, nor less so the contending of doubt and distress
with awakening hope in the half-shadowed, half-sunlit countenance of
Julia. Nay, even the momentary struggle of Proteus with Sylvia just
past, is indicated by the trodden grass and broken fungi of the
foreground. But all this thoughtful conception, and absolutely
inimitable execution, fail in making immediate appeal to the feelings,
owing to the unfortunate type chosen for the face of Sylvia. Certainly
this cannot be she whose lover was

                      “As rich in having such a jewel,
    As twenty seas, if all their sands were pearl.”[71]

Nor is it, perhaps, less to be regretted that, while in Shakspeare’s
play there are nominally “Two Gentlemen,” in Mr. Hunt’s picture there
should only be one--at least, the kneeling figure on the right has by no
means the look of a gentleman. But this may be on purpose, for any one
who remembers the conduct of Proteus throughout the previous scenes
will, I think, be disposed to consider that the error lies more in
Shakspeare’s nomenclature than in Mr. Hunt’s ideal.

No defence can, however, be offered for the choice of features in the
left-hand figure of Mr. Millais’ “Dove returning to the Ark.” I cannot
understand how a painter so sensible of the utmost refinement of beauty
in other objects should deliberately choose for his model a type far
inferior to that of average humanity, and unredeemed by any expression
save that of dull self-complacency. Yet, let the spectator who desires
to be just turn away from this head, and contemplate rather the tender
and beautiful expression of the stooping figure, and the intense harmony
of color in the exquisitely finished draperies; let him note also the
ruffling of the plumage of the wearied dove, one of its feathers falling
on the arm of the figure which holds it, and another to the ground,
where, by the bye, the hay is painted not only elaborately, but with the
most perfect ease of touch and mastery of effect, especially to be
observed because this freedom of execution is a modern excellence, which
it has been inaccurately stated that these painters despise, but which,
in reality, is one of the remarkable distinctions between their painting
and that of Van Eyck or Hemling, which caused me to say in my first
letter that “those knew little of ancient painting who supposed the
works of these men to resemble it.”

Next to this false choice of feature, and in connection with it, is to
be noted the defect in the coloring of the flesh. The hands, at least in
the pictures in Millais, are almost always ill painted, and the flesh
tint in general is wrought out of crude purples and dusky yellows. It
appears just possible that much of this evil may arise from the attempt
to obtain too much transparency--an attempt which has injured also not a
few of the best works of Mulready. I believe it will be generally found
that close study of minor details is unfavorable to flesh painting; it
was noticed of the drawing by John Lewis, in the old water-color
exhibition of 1850[72] (a work which, as regards its treatment of
detail, may be ranged in the same class with the pre-Raphaelite
pictures), that the faces were the worst painted portions of the whole.

The apparent want of shade is, however, perhaps the fault which most
hurts the general eye. The fact is, nevertheless, that the fault is far
more in the other pictures of the Academy than in the pre-Raphaelite
ones. It is the former that are false, not the latter, except so far as
every picture must be false which endeavors to represent living sunlight
with dead pigments. I think Mr. Hunt has a slight tendency to exaggerate
reflected lights; and if Mr. Millais has ever been near a piece of good
painted glass, he ought to have known that its tone is more dusky and
sober than that of his Mariana’s window. But for the most part these
pictures are rashly condemned because the only light which we are
accustomed to see represented is that which falls on the artist’s model
in his dim painting room, not that of sunshine in the fields.

I do not think I can go much further in fault-finding. I had, indeed,
something to urge respecting what I supposed to be the Romanizing
tendencies of the painters; but I have received a letter assuring me
that I was wrong in attributing to them anything of the kind; whereupon,
all that I can say is that, instead of the “pilgrimage” of Mr. Collins’
maiden over a plank and round a fish-pond, that old pilgrimage of
Christiana and her children towards the place where they should “look
the Fountain of Mercy in the face,” would have been more to the purpose
in these times. And so I wish them all heartily good-speed, believing in
sincerity that if they temper the courage and energy which they have
shown in the adoption of their systems with patience and discretion in
framing it, and if they do not suffer themselves to be driven by harsh
or careless criticism into rejection of the ordinary means of obtaining
influence over the minds of others, they may, as they gain experience,
lay in our England the foundations of a school of art nobler than the
world has seen for three hundred years.[73]

I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,


[From “The Times,” May 5, 1854.]



_To the Editor of “The Times.”_

SIR: I trust that, with your usual kindness and liberality, you will
give me room in your columns for a few words respecting the principal
pre-Raphaelite picture in the Exhibition of the Royal Academy this year.
Its painter is travelling in the Holy Land, and can neither suffer nor
benefit by criticism. But I am solicitous that justice should be done to
his work, not for his sake, but for that of the large number of persons
who, during the year, will have an opportunity of seeing it, and on
whom, if rightly understood, it may make an impression for which they
will ever afterwards be grateful.[74]

I speak of the picture called “the Light of the World,” by Mr. Holman
Hunt. Standing by it yesterday for upwards of an hour, I watched the
effect it produced upon the passers-by. Few stopped to look at it, and
those who did almost invariably with some contemptuous expression,
founded on what appeared to them the absurdity of representing the
Saviour with a lantern in his hand. Now, it ought to be remembered that,
whatever may be the faults of a præ-Raphaelite picture, it must at least
have taken much time; and therefore it may not unwarrantably be presumed
that conceptions which are to be laboriously realized are not adopted in
the first instance without some reflection. So that the spectator may
surely question with himself whether the objections which now strike
every one in a moment might not possibly have occurred to the painter
himself, either during the time devoted to the design of the picture, or
the months of labor required for its execution; and whether, therefore,
there may not be some reason for his persistence in such an idea, not
discoverable at the first glance.

Mr. Hunt has never explained his work to me. I give what appears to me
its palpable interpretation.

The legend beneath it is the beautiful verse, “Behold, I stand at the
door and knock. If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come
in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”--Rev. iii. 20. On the
left-hand side of the picture is seen this door of the human soul. It is
fast barred: its bars and nails are rusty; it is knitted and bound to
its stanchions by creeping tendrils of ivy, showing that it has never
been opened. A bat hovers about it; its threshold is overgrown with
brambles, nettles, and fruitless corn--the wild grass “whereof the mower
filleth not his hand, nor he that bindeth the sheaves his bosom.” Christ
approaches it in the night-time--Christ, in his everlasting offices of
prophet, priest, and king. He wears the white robe, representing the
power of the Spirit upon him; the jewelled robe and breast-plate,
representing the sacerdotal investiture; the rayed crown of gold,
inwoven with the crown of thorns; not dead thorns, but now bearing soft
leaves, for the healing of the nations.

Now, when Christ enters any human heart, he bears with him a twofold
light: first, the light of conscience, which displays past sin, and
afterwards the light of peace, the hope of salvation. The lantern,
carried in Christ’s left hand, is this light of conscience. Its fire is
red and fierce; it falls only on the closed door, on the weeds which
encumber it, and on an apple shaken from one of the trees of the
orchard, thus marking that the entire awakening of the conscience is not
merely to committed, but to hereditary guilt.

The light is suspended by a chain, wrapt about the wrist of the figure,
showing that the light which reveals sin appears to the sinner also to
chain the hand of Christ.

The light which proceeds from the head of the figure, on the contrary,
is that of the hope of salvation; it springs from the crown of thorns,
and, though itself sad, subdued, and full of softness, is yet so
powerful that it entirely melts into the glow of it the forms of the
leaves and boughs, which it crosses, showing that every earthly object
must be hidden by this light, where its sphere extends.

I believe there are very few persons on whom the picture, thus justly
understood, will not produce a deep impression. For my own part, I think
it one of the very noblest works of sacred art ever produced in this or
any other age.

It may, perhaps, be answered, that works of art ought not to stand in
need of interpretation of this kind. Indeed, we have been so long
accustomed to see pictures painted without any purpose or intention
whatsoever, that the unexpected existence of meaning in a work of art
may very naturally at first appear to us an unkind demand on the
spectator’s understanding. But in a few years more I hope the English
public may be convinced of the simple truth, that neither a great fact,
nor a great man, nor a great poem, nor a great picture, nor any other
great thing, can be fathomed to the very bottom in a moment of time; and
that no high enjoyment, either in picture-seeing or any other
occupation, is consistent with a total lethargy of the powers of the

As far as regards the technical qualities of Mr. Hunt’s painting, I
would only ask the spectator to observe this difference between true
præ-Raphaelite work and its imitations. The true work represents all
objects exactly as they would appear in nature in the position and at
the distances which the arrangement of the picture supposes. The false
work represents them with all their details, as if seen through a
microscope. Examine closely the ivy on the door in Mr. Hunt’s picture,
and there will not be found in it a single clear outline. All is the
most exquisite mystery of color; becoming reality at its due distance.
In like manner examine the small gems on the robe of the figure. Not one
will be made out in form, and yet there is not one of all those minute
points of green color, but it has two or three distinctly varied shades
of green in it, giving it mysterious value and lustre.

The spurious imitations of præ-Raphaelite work represent the most minute
leaves and other objects with sharp outlines, but with no variety of
color, and with none of the concealment, none of the infinity of nature.
With this spurious work the walls of the Academy are half covered; of
the true school one very small example may be pointed out, being hung so
low that it might otherwise escape attention. It is not by any means
perfect, but still very lovely--the study of a calm pool in a mountain
brook, by Mr. J. Dearle, No. 191, “Evening, on the Marchno, North

I have the honor to be, Sir.
Your obedient servant,


[From “The Times,” May 25, 1854.]



_To the Editor of “The Times.”_

SIR: Your kind insertion of my notes on Mr. Hunt’s principal picture
encourages me to hope that you may yet allow me room in your columns for
a few words respecting his second work in the Royal Academy, the
“Awakening Conscience.” Not that this picture is obscure, or its story
feebly told. I am at a loss to know how its meaning could be rendered
more distinctly, but assuredly it is not understood. People gaze at it
in a blank wonder, and leave it hopelessly; so that, though it is almost
an insult to the painter to explain his thoughts in this instance, I
cannot persuade myself to leave it thus misunderstood. The poor girl has
been sitting singing with her seducer; some chance words of the song,
“Oft in the stilly night,” have struck upon the numbed places of her
heart; she has started up in agony; he, not seeing her face, goes on
singing, striking the keys carelessly with his gloved hand.

I suppose that no one professing the slightest knowledge of expression
could remain untouched by the countenance of the lost girl, rent from
its beauty into sudden horror; the lips half open, indistinct in their
purple quivering; the teeth set hard; the eyes filled with the fearful
light of futurity, and with tears of ancient days. But I can easily
understand that to many persons the careful rendering of the inferior
details in this picture cannot but be at first offensive, as calling
their attention away from the principal subject. It is true that detail
of this kind has long been so carelessly rendered, that the perfect
finishing of it becomes a matter of curiosity, and therefore an
interruption to serious thought. But, without entering into the question
of the general propriety of such treatment, I would only observe that,
at least in this instance, it is based on a truer principle of the
pathetic than any of the common artistical expedients of the schools.
Nothing is more notable than the way in which even the most trivial
objects force themselves upon the attention of a mind which has been
fevered by violent and distressful excitement. They thrust themselves
forward with a ghastly and unendurable distinctness, as if they would
compel the sufferer to count, or measure, or learn them by heart. Even
to the mere spectator a strange interest exalts the accessories of a
scene in which he bears witness to human sorrow. There is not a single
object in all that room--common, modern, vulgar (in the vulgar sense, as
it may be), but it becomes tragical, if rightly read. That furniture so
carefully painted, even to the last vein of the rosewood--is there
nothing to be learnt from that terrible lustre of it, from its fatal
newness; nothing there that has the old thoughts of home upon it, or
that is ever to become a part of home? Those embossed books, vain and
useless,--they also new,--marked with no happy wearing of beloved
leaves; the torn and dying bird upon the floor; the gilded tapestry,
with the fowls of the air feeding on the ripened corn; the picture above
the fireplace, with its single drooping figure--the woman taken in
adultery; nay, the very hem of the poor girl’s dress, at which the
painter has labored so closely, thread by thread, has story in it, if we
think how soon its pure whiteness may be soiled with dust and rain, her
outcast feet failing in the street; and the fair garden flowers, seen in
that reflected sunshine of the mirror--these also have their language--

    “Hope not to find delight in us, they say,
     For we are spotless, Jessy--we are pure.”[76]

I surely need not go on. Examine the whole range of the walls of the
Academy,--nay, examine those of all our public and private
galleries,--and while pictures will be met with by the thousand which
literally tempt to evil, by the thousand which are directed to the
meanest trivialities of incident or emotion, by the thousand to the
delicate fancies of inactive religion, there will not be found one
powerful as this to meet full in the front the moral evil of the age in
which it is painted; to waken into mercy the cruel thoughtlessness of
youth, and subdue the severities of judgment into the sanctity of

I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,


[From “The Liverpool Albion,” January 11, 1858.]


I believe the Liverpool Academy has, in its decisions of late years,
given almost the first instance on record of the entirely just and
beneficial working of academical system. Usually such systems have
degenerated into the application of formal rules, or the giving partial
votes, or the distribution of a partial patronage; but the Liverpool
awards have indicated at once the keen perception of new forms of
excellence, and the frank honesty by which alone such new forms can be
confessed and accepted. I do not, however, wonder at the outcry. People
who suppose the pre-Raphaelite work to be only a condition of
meritorious eccentricity, naturally suppose, also, that the consistent
preference of it can only be owing to clique. Most people look upon
paintings as they do on plants or minerals, and think they ought to have
in their collections specimens of everybody’s work, as they have
specimens of all earths or flowers. They have no conception that there
is such a thing as a real right and wrong, a real bad and good, in the
question. However, you need not, I think, much mind. Let the Academy be
broken up on the quarrels; let the Liverpool people buy whatever rubbish
they have a mind to; and when they see, as in time they will, that it
_is_ rubbish, and find, as find they will, every pre-Raphaelite picture
gradually advance in influence and in value, you will be acknowledged to
have borne a witness all the more noble and useful, because it seemed to
end in discomfiture; though it will _not_ end in discomfiture. I suppose
I need hardly say anything of my own estimate of the two pictures on
which the arbitrament has arisen, I have surely said often enough, in
good black type already, what I thought of pre-Raphaelite works, and of
other modern ones. Since Turner’s death I consider that any average work
from the hand of any of the four leaders of pre-Raphaelitism (Rosetti,
Millais, Hunt, John Lewis) is, singly, worth at least _three_ of any
other pictures whatever by living artists.


[From “The Witness” (Edinburgh), March 27, 1858.]


_To the Editor of “The Witness.”_

I was very glad to see that good and firm defence of the pre-Raphaelite
Brothers in the _Witness_[77] the other day; only, my dear Editor, it
appears to me that you take too much trouble in the matter. Such a
lovely picture as that of Waller Paton’s must either speak for itself,
or nobody can speak for it. If you Scotch people don’t know a bit of
your own country when you see it, who is to help you to know it? If, in
that mighty wise town of Edinburgh, everybody still likes flourishes of
brush better than ferns, and dots of paint better than birch leaves,
surely there is nothing for it but to leave them in quietude of devotion
to dot and faith in flourish. At least I can see no other way of
dealing. All those platitudes from the _Scotsman_, which you took the
pains to answer, have been answered ten thousand times already, without
the smallest effect--the kind of people who utter them being always too
misty in their notions ever to feel or catch an answer. You may as well
speak to the air, or rather to a Scotch mist. The oddest part of the
business is, that all those wretched fallacies about generalization
might be quashed or crushed in an instant, by reference to any given
picture of any great master who ever lived. There never was anybody who
generalized, since paint was first ground, except Opie, and Benjamin
West, and Fuseli, and one or two other such modern stars--in their own
estimates,--night-lights, in fact, extinguishing themselves, not
odoriferously at daybreak, in a sputter in the saucer. Titian,
Giorgione, Veronese, Tintoret, Raphael, Leonardo, Correggio,--never any
of them dreamt of generalization, and would have rejected the dream as
having come by the horn gate,[78] if they had. The only difference
between them and the pre-Raphaelites is, that the latter love nature
better, and don’t yet know their artist’s business so well, having
everything to find out for themselves athwart all sorts of
contradiction, poor fellows; so they are apt to put too much into their
pictures--for love’s sake, and then not to bring this much into perfect
harmony; not yet being able to bridle their thoughts entirely with the
master’s hand. I don’t say therefore--I never have said--that their
pictures are faultless--many of them have gross faults; but the modern
pictures of the generalist school, which are opposed to them, have
nothing else but faults: they are not pictures at all, but pure daubs
and perfect blunders; nay, they have never had aim enough to be called
anything so honorable as blunders; they are mere emptinesses and
idlenesses--thistledown without seeds, and bubbles without color;
whereas the worst pre-Raphaelite picture has something _in_ it; and the
great ones, such as Windus’s “Burd Helen,”[79] will hold their own with
the most noble pictures of all time.

Always faithfully yours,

By the way, what ails you at our pre-Raphaelite Brothers’ conceits?
Windus’s heart’s-ease might have been a better conceit, I grant
you;[80] but for the conceits themselves, as such, I always enjoy them
particularly; and I don’t understand why I shouldn’t. What’s wrong in




    TURNER’S DRAWINGS. 1876 (July 5).
    TURNER’S DRAWINGS. 1876 (July 19).



[From “The Times,” October 28, 1856.]


_To the Editor of “The Times.”_

SIR: As active measures are being now[81] taken to give the public
access to the pictures and drawings left by the late Mr. Turner, you
will perhaps allow me space in your columns for a few words respecting

I was appointed by Mr. Turner one of his executors. I examined the will,
and the state of the property needing administration, and, finding that
the questions arising out of the obscurity of the one and the disorder
of the other would be numerous and would involve a kind of business in
which I had no skill or knowledge, I resigned the office; but in the
course of the inquiry I catalogued the most interesting of the drawings
which are now national property, and respecting these the public will, I
think, be glad of more definite information than they at present
possess. They are referable mainly to three classes.

1. Finished water-color drawings.

2. Studies from nature, or first thoughts for pictures; in color.

3. Sketches in pencil or pen and ink.

The drawings belonging to the two latter classes are in various stages
of completion, and would contain, if rightly arranged, a perfect record
of the movements of the master’s mind during his whole life. Many of
them were so confused among prints and waste-paper that I could neither
collect nor catalogue them all in the time I had at my disposal; some
portfolios I was not able even to open. The following statement,
therefore, omits mention of many, and I believe even of some large
water-color drawings. There are in the first class forty-five drawings
of the “Rivers of France;” fifty-seven illustrating Rogers’ Poems;
twenty-three of the “River Scenery” and “Harbors of England;” four
marine vignettes; five middle-sized drawings (including the beautiful
“Ivy Bridge”); and a drawing, some three feet by two, finished with
exquisite care, of a scene in the Val d’Aosta; total, 135.

It would occupy too much of your space if I were to specify all the
various kinds of studies forming the second class. Many are far carried,
and are, to my mind, more precious and lovely than any finished
drawings; respecting some, there may be question whether Turner regarded
them as finished or not. The larger number are light sketches, valuable
only to artists, or to those interested in the processes of Turner’s
mind and hand. The total number of those which I catalogued as important
is 1,757.

The sketches of the third class are usually more elaborate than the
colored ones. They consist of studies from nature, or for composition,
in firm outline, usually on gray paper, heightened with white. They
include, among other subjects, more or less complete, fifty of the
original drawings for the Liber Studiorum, and many of the others are of
large folio size. The total of those I consider important is 1,322. Now
the value of these sketches to the public consists greatly, first, in
the preservation of each, as far as possible, in the state in which
Turner left it; secondly, in their careful arrangement and explanation;
thirdly, in convenience of general access to them. Permit me a word on
each of these heads.

Turner was in the habit of using unusual vehicles, and in the colored
studies many hues are wrought out by singular means and with singular
delicacy--nearly always in textures which the slightest damp (to which
the drawings would necessarily be subjected in the process of mounting)
would assuredly alter. I have made many experiments in mounting, putting
colored drawings, of which I had previously examined the tones, into the
hands of the best mounters, and I have never yet had a drawing returned
to me without alteration. The vast mass of these sketches, and the
comparative slightness of many, would but too probably induce a
carelessness and generalization in the treatment they might have to
undergo still more fatally detrimental to them.

Secondly, a large number are without names, and so slight that it
requires careful examination and somewhat extended acquaintance with
Turner’s works to ascertain their intention. The sketches of this class
are nearly valueless, till their meaning is deciphered, but of great
interest when seen in their proper connection. Thus there are three
progressive studies for one vignette in _Rogers’ Italy_[82] (Hannibal
passing the Alps), which I extricated from three several heaps of other
mountain sketches with which they had no connection. Thirdly, a large
number of the drawings are executed with body color, the bloom of which
any friction or handling would in a short period destroy. Their delicate
tones of color would be equally destroyed by continuous exposure to the
light or to smoke and dust.

Drawings of a valuable character, when thus destructible, are in
European museums hardly accessible to the general public. But there is
no need for this seclusion. They should be inclosed each in a light
wooden frame, under a glass the surface of which a raised mount should
prevent them from touching. These frames should slide into cases,
containing about twelve drawings each, which would be portable to any
part of the room where they were to be seen. I have long kept my own
smaller Turner drawings in this manner; fifteen frames going into the
depth of about a foot. Men are usually accused of “bad taste,” if they
express any conviction of their own ability to execute any given work.
But it would perhaps be better if in people’s sayings in general,
whether concerning others or themselves, there were less taste, and more
truth; and I think it, under the circumstances, my duty to state that I
believe none would treat these drawings with more scrupulous care, or
arrange them with greater patience, than I should myself; that I am
ready to undertake the task, and enter upon it instantly; that I will
furnish, in order to prove the working of the system proposed, a hundred
of the frames, with their cases, at my own cost; and that within six
weeks of the day on which I am permitted to begin work (illness or
accident not interfering), I will have the hundred drawings arranged,
framed, accompanied by a printed explanatory catalogue, and ready for
public inspection. It would then be in the power of the commissioners
intrusted with the administration of this portion of the national
property to decide if any, or how many more of the sketches, should be
exhibited in the same manner, as a large mass of the less interesting
ones might be kept as the drawings are at the British Museum, and shown
only on special inquiry.

I will only undertake this task on condition of the entire management of
the drawings, in every particular, being intrusted to me; but I should
ask the advice of Mr. Carpenter, of the British Museum,[83] on all
doubtful points, and intrust any necessary operations only to the person
who mounts the drawings for the British Museum.

I make this offer[84] in your columns rather than privately, first,
because I wish it to be clearly known to the public; and


also because I have no time to make representations in official ways,
the very hours which I could give to the work needing to be redeemed by
allowing none to be wasted in formalities.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

DENMARK HILL, _Oct._ 27.

[From “The Times,” July 9, 1857.]


_To the Editor of “The Times.”_

SIR: I am sorry that accident has prevented my seeing the debate of
Friday last[85] on the vote for the National Gallery until to-day. Will
you permit me, thus late, to correct the statement made by Lord Elcho,
that I offered to arrange Turner’s pictures, or could have done so as
well as Mr. Wornum[86] I only offered to arrange the sketches, and that
I am doing; but I never would have undertaken the pictures, which were
in such a state of decay that I had given up many for lost; while, also,
most of them belonged to periods of Turner’s work with which I was
little acquainted. Mr. Wornum’s patience and carefulness of research in
discovering their subjects, dates of exhibition, and other points of
interest connected with them, have been of the greatest service; and it
will be long before the labor and judgment which he has shown in
compiling, not only this, but all the various catalogues now used by the
public at our galleries, will be at all justly appreciated. I find more
real, serviceable, and trustworthy facts in one of these catalogues,
than in half a dozen of the common collections of lives of painters.

Permit me to add further, that during long residence in Venice, I have
carefully examined the Paul Veronese lately purchased by the
Government.[87] When I last saw it, it was simply the best Veronese in
Italy, if not in Europe (the “Marriage in Cana” of the Louvre is larger
and more magnificent, but not so perfect in finish); and, for my own
part, I should think no price too large for it; but putting my own deep
reverence for the painter wholly out of the question, and considering
the matter as it will appear to most persons at all acquainted with the
real character and range of Venetian work, I believe the market value of
the picture ought to be estimated at perhaps one-third more than the
Government have paid for it. Without doubt the price of the Murillo
lately purchased at Paris was much enhanced by accidental competition;
under ordinary circumstances, and putting both the pictures to a fair
trial of market value, I believe the Veronese to be worth at least
double the Murillo; in an artistical point of view, the latter picture
could not be put in any kind of comparison whatever with the Veronese.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

OXFORD, _July_ 7.

[From “The Literary Gazette,” November 13, 1858--partly reprinted in “The Two
Paths,” Appendix iv.]


_To the Editor of “The Literary Gazette.”_

SIR: I do not think it generally necessary to answer criticism; yet as
yours is the first sufficient notice which has been taken of the
important collection of sketches at Marlborough House, and as your
strictures on the arrangement proposed for the body of the collection,
as well as on some statements in my catalogue, are made with such candor
and good feeling, will you allow me to offer one or two observations in
reply to them? The mode of arrangement to which you refer as determined
on by the trustees has been adopted, not to discourage the study of the
drawings by the public, but to put all more completely at their service.
Drawings so small in size and so delicate in execution cannot be seen,
far less copied, when hung on walls. As now arranged, they can be put
into the hands of each visitor, or student, as a book is into those of a
reader; he may examine them in any light, or in any position, and copy
them at his ease. The students who work from drawings exhibited on walls
will, I am sure, bear willing witness to the greater convenience of the
new system. Four hundred drawings are already thus arranged for public
use; framed, and disposed in eighty portable boxes, each containing five
sketches, so that eighty students might at once be supplied with five
drawings apiece. The oil paintings at Marlborough House, comprising as
they do the most splendid works which Turner ever produced, and the 339
drawings exhibited beside them, are surely enough for the amusement of
loungers--for do you consider as anything better than loungers those
persons who do not care enough for the Turner drawings to be at the
trouble of applying for a ticket of admission, and entering their names
in a book--that is to say, who will not, to obtain the privilege of
quiet study of perfect art, take, once for all, as much trouble as would
be necessary to register a letter, or book, or parcel?

I entirely waive for the moment the question of exposure to light. I put
the whole issue on the ground of greatest public convenience. I believe
it to be better for the public to have two collections of Turner’s
drawings than one; nay, it seems to me just the perfection of all
privilege to have one gallery for quiet, another for disquiet; one into
which the curious, idle, or speculative may crowd on wet or weary days,
and another in which people desirous of either thinking or working
seriously may always find peace, light, and elbow-room. I believe,
therefore, that the present disposition of these drawings will be at
once the most convenient and the most just, even supposing that the
finest works of Turner would not be injured by constant exposure. But
that they would be so admits of no debate. It is not on my judgment nor
on any other unsupported opinion, that the trustees have acted, but in
consideration of facts now universally admitted by persons who have
charge of drawings. You will find that the officers both of the Louvre
and of the British Museum refuse to expose their best drawings or
missal-pages to light, in consequence of ascertained damage received by
such drawings as have been already exposed; and among the works of
Turner I am prepared to name an example in which, the frame having
protected a portion while the rest was exposed, the covered portion is
still rich and lovely in colors, while the exposed spaces are reduced in
some parts nearly to white paper, and the color in general to a dull

You allude to the contrary chance that some hues may be injured by
darkness. I believe that some colors are indeed liable to darken in
perpetual shade, but not while occasionally exposed to moderate light,
as these drawings will be in daily use; nor is any liability to injury,
even by perpetual shade, as yet demonstrable with respect to the Turner
drawings; on the contrary, those which now form the great body of the
national collection were never out of Turner’s house until his death,
and were all kept by him in tight bundles or in clasped books; and all
the drawings so kept are in magnificent preservation, appearing as if
they had just been executed, while every one of those which have been in
the possession of purchasers and exposed in frames are now faded in
proportion to the time and degree of their exposure; the lighter hues
disappearing, especially from the skies, so as sometimes to leave hardly
a trace of the cloud-forms. For instance, the great Yorkshire series is,
generally speaking, merely the wreck of what it once was.[89] That
water-colors are not injured by darkness is also sufficiently proved by
the exquisite preservation of missal paintings, when the books
containing them have been little used. Observe, then, you have simply
this question to put to the public: “Will you have your Turner drawings
to look at when you are at leisure, in a comfortable room, under such
limitations as will preserve them to you forever, or will you make an
amusing exhibition of them (_if_ amusing, which I doubt) for children
and nursery-maids; dry your wet coats by them, and shake off the dust
from your feet upon them, for a score or two of years, and then send
them to the waste-paper merchant?” That is the simple question; answer
it, for the public, as you think best.

Permit me to observe farther, that the small interest manifested in the
existing Turner collection at Marlborough House does not seem to justify
any further effort at exhibition. There are already more paintings and
drawings placed in those rooms than could be examined properly in years
of labor. But how placed? Thrust into dark corners, nailed on spare
spaces of shutters, backs of doors, and tottering elongations of
screens; hung with their faces to the light, or with their backs to the
light, or with their sides to the light so that it “rakes” them (I use
an excellent expression of Sir Charles Eastlake’s), throwing every
irregularity of surface into view as if they were maps in relief of hill
countries; hung, in fine, in every conceivable mode that can exhibit
their faults, or conceal their meaning, or degrade their beauty. Neither
Mr. Wornum nor I are answerable for this; we have both done the best we
could under the circumstances; the public are answerable for it, who
suffer such things without care and without remonstrance. If they want
to derive real advantage from the treasures they possess, let them show
some regard for them, and build, or at least express some desire to get
built, a proper gallery for them. I see no way at present out of the
embarrassments which exist respecting the disposition of the entire
national collection; but the Turner gallery was intended by Turner
himself to be a distinct one, and there is no reason why a noble
building should not be at once provided for it. Place the oil pictures
now at Marlborough House in beautiful rooms, each in a light fit and
sufficient for it, and all on a level with the eye; range them in
chronological order; place the sketches at present exhibited, also in
chronological order, in a lateral gallery; let illustrative engravings
and explanations be put in cases near them; furnish the room richly and
gracefully, as the Louvre is furnished, and I do not think the public
would any longer complain of not having enough to amuse them on rainy

That we ought to do as much for our whole national collection is as
certain as that we shall not do it for many a year to come, nor until we
have wasted twice as much money as would do it nobly in vain experiments
on a mean scale. I have no immediate hope in this matter, else I might
perhaps ask you to let me occupy your columns with some repetition, in
other words (such repetition being apparently always needed in these
talking days), of what I have already stated in the Appendix to my Notes
on the oil-pictures[90] at Marlborough House. But I will only, being as
I say hopeless in the matter, ask you for room for a single sentence.

     “If ever we come to understand that the function of a picture,
     after all, with respect to mankind, is not merely to be bought, but
     to be seen, it will follow that a picture which deserves a price
     deserves a place; and that all paintings which are worth keeping,
     are worth, also, the rent of so much wall as shall be necessary to
     show them to the best advantage, and in the least fatiguing way for
     the spectator.

     “It would be interesting if we could obtain a return of the sum
     which the English nation pays annually for park walls to inclose
     game, stable walls to separate horses, and garden walls to ripen
     peaches; and if we could compare this ascertained sum with what it
     pays for walls to show its art upon.”

I ask you to reprint this, because the fact is that if either Mr. Wornum
at the National Gallery, or Mr. Carpenter at the British Museum, had as
much well-lighted wall at their disposal as most gentlemen’s gardeners
have, they could each furnish the public with art enough to keep them
gazing from one year’s end to another’s. Mr. Carpenter has already made
a gallant effort with some screens in a dark room; but in the National
Gallery, whatever mode of exhibition may be determined upon for the four
hundred framed drawings, the great mass of the Turner sketches (about
fifteen thousand, without counting mere color memoranda) must lie
packed in parcels in tin cases, simply for want of room to show them. It
is true that many of these are quite slight, and would be interesting to
none but artists. There are, however, upwards of five thousand sketches
in pencil outline,[91] which are just as interesting as those now
exhibited at Marlborough House; and which might be constantly exhibited,
like those, without any harm, if there were only walls to put them on.

I have already occupied much of your space. I do not say too much,
considering the importance of the subject, but[92] I must [with more
diffidence] ask you to allow me yet leave to reply to the objections you
make to two statements [and to one omission] in my Catalogue, as those
objections would otherwise diminish its usefulness. I have asserted that
in a given drawing (named as one of the chief in the series), Turner’s
pencil did not move over the thousandth of an inch without meaning; and
you charge this expression with extravagant hyperbole. On the contrary,
it is much within the truth, being merely a mathematically accurate
description of fairly good execution in either drawing or engraving. It
is only necessary to measure a piece of any ordinarily good work to
ascertain this. Take, for instance, Finden’s engraving at the 180th page
of Rogers’ poems,[93] in which the face of the figure, from the chin to
the top of the brow, occupies just a quarter of an inch, and the space
between the upper lip and chin as nearly as possible one-seventeenth of
an inch. The whole mouth occupies one-third of this space, say,
one-fiftieth of an inch; and within that space both the lips and the
much more difficult inner corner of the mouth are perfectly drawn and
rounded, with quite successful and sufficiently subtle expression. Any
artist will assure you, that in order to draw a mouth as well as this,
there must be more than twenty gradations of shade in the touches; that
is to say, in this case, gradations changing, with meaning, within less
than the thousandth of an inch.

But this is mere child’s play compared to the refinement of any
first-rate mechanical work, much more of brush or pencil drawing by a
master’s hand. In order at once to furnish you with authoritative
evidence on this point, I wrote to Mr. Kingsley, tutor of Sidney-Sussex
College, a friend to whom I always have recourse when I want to be
precisely right in any matter; for his great knowledge both of
mathematics and of natural science is joined, not only with singular
powers of delicate experimental manipulation, but with a keen
sensitiveness to beauty in art. His answer, in its final statement
respecting Turner’s work, is amazing even to me; and will, I should
think, be more so to your readers. Observe the successions of measured
and tested refinement; here is No. 1:

     “The finest mechanical work that I know of is that done by Nobert
     in the way of ruling lines. I have a series of lines ruled by him
     on glass, giving actual scales from .000024 and .000016 of an inch,
     perfectly correct to these places of decimals;{*} and he has
     executed others as fine as .000012, though I do not know how far he
     could repeat these last with accuracy.”

     {*} That is to say, accurate in measures estimated in _millionths_
     of inches.

This is No. 1, of precision. Mr. Kingsley proceeds to No. 2:

     “But this is rude work compared to the accuracy necessary for the
     construction of the object-glass of a microscope such as Rosse
     turns out.”

I am sorry to omit the explanation which follows of the ten lenses
composing such a glass, “each of which must be exact in radius and in
surface, and all have their axes coincident;” but it would not be
intelligible without the figure by which it is illustrated, so I pass to
Mr. Kingsley’s No. 3:

     “I am tolerably familiar,” he proceeds, “with the actual grinding
     and polishing of lenses and specula, and have produced by my own
     hands some by no means bad optical work; and I have copied no small
     amount of Turner’s work, and I still look with awe at the combined
     delicacy and precision of his hand; _it beats optical work out of
     sight_.[95] In optical work, as in refined drawing, the hand goes
     beyond the eye,{*} and one has to depend upon the feel; and when
     one has once learned what a delicate affair touch is, one gets a
     horror of all coarse work, and is ready to forgive any amount of
     feebleness, sooner than the boldness which is akin to impudence. In
     optics the distinction is easily seen when the work is put to
     trial; but here too, as in drawing, it requires an educated eye to
     tell the difference when the work is only moderately bad; but with
     ‘bold’ work nothing can be seen but distortion and fog, and I
     heartily wish the same result would follow the same kind of
     handling in drawing; but here, the boldness cheats the unlearned by
     looking like the precision of the true man. It is very strange how
     much better our ears are than our eyes in this country: if an
     ignorant man were to be ‘bold’ with a violin, he would not get many
     admirers, though his boldness was far below that of ninety-nine out
     of a hundred drawings one sees.”

     {*} In case any of your readers should question the use, in
     drawing, of work too fine for the touches to be individually, I
     quote a sentence from my “Elements of Drawing.”{**} “_All_ fine
     coloring, like fine drawing, is delicate; so delicate, that if at
     last you see the color you are putting on, you are putting on too
     much. You ought to feel a change wrought in the general tone by
     touches which are individually too pale to be seen.”

     {**} See the “Elements of Drawing,” Letter III. on Color and
     Composition, p. 232.

The words which I have italicized[96] in the above extract are those
which were surprising to me. I knew that Turner’s was as refined as any
optical work, but had no idea of its going beyond it. Mr. Kingsley’s
word “awe,” occurring just before, is, however, as I have often felt,
precisely the right one. When once we begin at all to understand the
work of any truly great executor, such as that of any of the three great
Venetians [(Tintoret, Titian, and Veronese)], Correggio, or Turner, the
awe of it is something greater than can be felt from the most stupendous
natural scenery. For the creation of such a system as a high human
intelligence, endowed with its ineffably perfect instruments of eye and
hand, is a far more appalling manifestation of Infinite Power than the
making either of seas or mountains. After this testimony to the
completion of Turner’s work, I need not at length defend myself from the
charge of hyperbole in the statement that, “as far as I know, the
galleries of Europe may be challenged to produce one sketch[97] that
shall equal the chalk study No. 45, or the feeblest of the memoranda in
the 71st and following frames;”[98] which memoranda, however, it should
have been observed, are stated at the forty-fourth page to be in some
respects “the grandest work in gray that he did in his life.”

For I believe that, as manipulators, none but the four men whom I have
just named (the three Venetians and Correggio) were equal to Turner;
and, as far as I know, none of these four men put their full strength
into sketches. But whether they did or not, my statement in the
Catalogue is limited by my own knowledge, and as far as I can trust that
knowledge: it is not an enthusiastic statement, but an entirely calm
and considered one. It may be a mistake, but it is not an hyperbole.

Lastly, you object that the drawings for the “_Liber Studiorum_” are not
included in my catalogue. They are not so, because I did not consider
them as, in a true sense, drawings at all; they are merely washes of
color laid roughly to guide the mezzotint engraver in his first process;
the drawing, properly so called, was all put in by Turner when he etched
the plates, or superadded by repeated touchings on the proofs. These
brown “guides,” for they are nothing more, are entirely unlike the
painter’s usual work, and in every way inferior to it; so that students
wishing to understand the composition of the “_Liber_” must always work
from the plates, and not from these first indications of purpose.[99] I
have put good impressions of two of the plates in the same room, in
order to show their superiority; and for the rest, thought it useless to
increase the bulk of the Catalogue by naming subjects which have been
published and well known these thirty years.[100]

Permit me, in conclusion, to thank you for drawing attention to the
subject of this great national collection; and, again asking your
indulgence for trespassing so far upon your space, to subscribe myself,

Very respectfully yours,

[From “The Times,” October 21, 1859.]


_To the Editor of “The Times.”_

SIR: At the time of my departure for the Continent some months ago I had
heard it was proposed to light the Turner Gallery, at Kensington, with
gas; but I attached no importance to the rumor, feeling assured that a
commission would be appointed on the subject, and that its decision
would be adverse to the mode of exhibition suggested.

Such a commission has, I find, been appointed; and has, contrary to my
expectations, approved and confirmed the plan of lighting proposed.

It would be the merest presumption in me to expect weight to be attached
to any opinion of mine, opposed to that of any one of the gentlemen who
formed the commission; but as I was officially employed in some of the
operations connected with the arrangement of the Turner Gallery at
Marlborough House, and as it might therefore be supposed by the public
that I at least concurred in recommending the measures now taken for
exhibition of the Turner pictures in the evening, at Kensington, I must
beg your permission to state in your columns that I take no share in the
responsibility of lighting the pictures either of Reynolds or Turner
with gas; that, on the contrary, my experience would lead me to
apprehend serious injury to those pictures from such a measure; and that
it is with profound regret that I have heard of its adoption.

I specify the pictures of Reynolds and Turner, because the combinations
of equal coloring material employed by both these painters are various,
and to some extent unknown; and also because the body of their colors
shows peculiar liability to crack, and to detach itself from the canvas.
I am glad to be able to bear testimony to the fitness of the gallery at
Kensington, as far as could be expected under the circumstances, for the
exhibition of the Turner pictures by daylight, as well as to the
excellence of Mr. Wornum’s chronological arrangement of them in the
three principal rooms.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

DENMARK HILL, _Oct._ 20.

P.S.--I wish the writer of the admirable and exhaustive letter which
appeared in your columns of yesterday on the subject of Mr. Scott’s
design for the Foreign Office would allow me to know his name.[102]

[From “The Daily Telegraph,” July 5, 1876.]


_To the Editor of “The Daily Telegraph.”_

SIR: I am very heartily glad to see the subject of Turner’s drawings
brought more definitely before the public in your remarks on the recent
debate[103] in Parliament. It is indeed highly desirable that these
drawings should be made more accessible, and I will answer your
reference to me by putting you in possession of all the facts which it
is needful that the public should know or take into consideration
respecting them, in either judging what has been hitherto done by those
entrusted with their care, or taking measures for obtaining greater
freedom in their use. Their _use_, I say, as distinguished from the mere
pleasure of seeing them. This pleasure, to the general public, is very
small indeed. You appear not to be aware that three hundred of the
finest examples, including all the originals of the Liber Studiorum,
were framed by myself, especially for the public, in the year 1858, and
have been exhibited every day, and all day long, ever since in London.
But the public never stops a moment in the room at Kensington where they
hang; and the damp, filth, and gas (under the former management of that
institution)[104] soiled their frames and warped the drawings, “by
friend remembered not.”

You have been also misinformed in supposing that “for some years these
aquarelles were unreservedly shown, and in all the fulness of daylight.”
Only the “Seine” series (rivers of France), the rivers of England, the
harbors of England, and the Rogers’ vignettes (about a hundred drawings
in all), were exhibited in the dark under-room of Marlborough House, and
a few larger and smaller examples scattered up and down in the room of
the National Gallery, including Fort Bard, Edinburgh, and Ivy
Bridge.[105] These drawings are all finished, most of them have been
engraved; they were shown as the choicest of the collection, and there
is no question but that they should always be perfectly accessible to
the public. There are no other finished drawings in the vast mass of the
remaining material for exhibition and means of education. But these are
_all_ the drawings which Turner made during his lifetime, in color,
chalk, pencil, and ink, for his own study or delight; that is to say,
pencil sketches to be counted by the thousand (how many thousands I
cannot safely so much as guess), and assuredly upwards of two thousand
colored studies, many of exquisite beauty; and all instructive as no
other water-color work ever was before, or has been since; besides the
ink and chalk studies for all his great Academy pictures.[106]

There are in this accumulation of drawings means of education in the
noblest principles of elementary art and in the most accomplished
science of color for every drawing-school in England, were they properly
distributed. Besides these, there are the three hundred chosen drawings
already named, now at Kensington, and about two hundred more of equal
value, now in the lower rooms of the National Gallery, which the
Trustees permitted me to choose out of the mass, and frame for general

They are framed as I frame exercise-drawings at Oxford, for my own
schools. They are, when in use, perfectly secure from dust and all other
sources of injury; slide, when done with, into portable cabinets; are
never exposed to light, but when they are being really looked at; and
can be examined at his ease, measured, turned in whatever light he
likes, by every student or amateur who takes the smallest interest in
them. But it is necessary, for this mode of exhibition, that there
should be trustworthy persons in charge of the drawings, as of the MSS.
in the British Museum, and that there should be attendants in
observation, as in the Print Room of the Museum, that glasses may not be
broken, or drawings taken out of the frames.

Thus taken care of, and thus shown, the drawings may be a quite
priceless possession to the people of England for the next five
centuries; whereas those exhibited in the Manchester Exhibition were
virtually destroyed in that single summer.[107] There is not one of them
but is the mere wreck of what it was. I do not choose to name destroyed
drawings in the possession of others; but I will name the vignette of
the Plains of Troy in my own, which had half the sky baked out of it in
that fatal year, and the three drawings of Richmond (Yorkshire),
Egglestone Abbey, and Langharne Castle,[108] which have had by former
exposure to light their rose-colors entirely destroyed, and half of
their blues, leaving nothing safe but the brown.

I do not think it necessary to repeat my former statements respecting
the injurious power of light on certain pigments rapidly, and on all
eventually. The respective keepers of the Print Room and of the
Manuscripts in the British Museum are the proper persons to be consulted
on that matter, their experience being far larger than mine, and over
longer epochs. I will, however, myself undertake to show from my own
collection a water-color of the eleventh century absolutely as fresh as
when it was laid--having been guarded from light; and water-color burnt
by sunlight into a mere dirty stain on the paper, in a year, with the
matched piece from which it was cut beside it.

The public may, therefore, at their pleasure treat their Turner drawings
as a large exhibition of fireworks, see them explode, clap their hands,
and have done with them; or they may treat them as an exhaustless
library of noble learning. To this end, they need, first, space and
proper light--north light, as clear of smoke as possible, and large
windows; and then proper attendance--that is to say, well-paid
librarians and servants.

The space will of course be difficult to obtain, for while the British
public of the upper classes are always ready to pay any money whatever
for space to please their pride in their own dining-rooms and
ball-rooms, they would not, most of them, give five shillings a year to
get a good room in the National Gallery to show the national drawings
in. As to the room in which it is at present proposed to place them in
the new building, they might just as well, for any good that will ever
be got out of them there, be exhibited in a railway tunnel.

And the attendants will also be difficult to obtain. For--and this is
the final fact to which I beg your notice--these drawings now in
question were, as I above stated, framed by me in 1858. They have been
perfectly “accessible” ever since, and are so now, as easily as any
works[109] in the shops of Regent Street are accessible over the
counter, if you have got a shopman to hand them to you. And the British
public have been whining and growling about their exclusion from the
sight of these drawings for the last eighteen years, simply because,
while they are willing to pay for any quantity of sentinels to stand in
boxes about town and country, for any quantity of flunkeys to stand on
boards for additional weight to carriage horses, and for any quantity of
footmen to pour out their wine and chop up their meat for them, they
would not for all these eighteen years pay so much as a single attendant
to hand them the Turner drawings across the National Gallery table; but
only what was needful to obtain for two days in the week the withdrawal
from his other duties in the Gallery of the old servant of Mr. Samuel

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

BRANTWOOD, _July_ 3.

[From “The Daily Telegraph,” July 19, 1876.]


_To the Editor of “The Daily Telegraph.”_

SIR: In justice to our living water-color artists, will you favor me by
printing the accompanying letter,[110] which I think will be
satisfactory to many of your readers, on points respecting which my own
may have given some of them a false impression? In my former letter,
permit me to correct the misprint of “works” in Regent Street for

I have every reason to suppose Mr. Collingwood Smith’s knowledge of the
subject entirely trustworthy; but when all is conceded, must still
repeat that no water-color work of value should ever be constantly
exposed to light, or even to the air of a crowded metropolis, least of
all to gaslight or its fumes.

I am, Sir, yours, etc.,


[From “The Times,” April 25, 1876.]


_To the Editor of “The Times.”_

SIR: You will oblige me by correcting the misstatement in your columns
of the 22d,[111] that “only copies of the copies” of Turner exhibited at
148 New Bond Street, are for sale. The drawings offered for sale by the
company will, of course, be always made by Mr. Ward from the originals,
just as much as those now exhibited as specimens.

You observe in the course of your article that “surely such attempts
could not gratify any one who had a true insight for Mr. Turner’s
works?” But the reason that the drawings now at 148 New Bond Street are
not for sale is that they _do_ gratify _me_, and are among my extremely
valued possessions; and if among the art critics on your staff there be,
indeed, any one whose “insight for Mr. Turner’s work” you suppose to be
greater than mine, I shall have much pleasure in receiving any
instructions with which he may favor me, at the National Gallery, on the
points either in which Mr. Ward’s work may be improved, or on those in
which Turner is so superior to Titian and Correggio, that while the
public maintain, in Italy, a nation of copyists of these second-rate
masters, they are not justified in hoping any success whatever in
representing the work of the Londoner, whom, while he was alive, I was
always called mad for praising.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,


[From “The Times,” January 24, 1871.]


_To the Editor of “The Times.”_

SIR: I have refused until now to express any opinion respecting the
picture No. 40[112] in the Exhibition of the Old Masters, feeling
extreme reluctance to say anything which its kind owner, to whom the
Exhibition owes so much, might deem discourteous.

But I did not suppose it was possible any doubt could long exist among
artists as to the character of the work in question; and, as I find its
authenticity still in some quarters maintained, I think no other course
is open to me than to state that the picture is not by Turner, nor even
by an imitator of Turner acquainted with the essential qualities of the

I am able to assert this on internal evidence only. I never saw the
picture before, nor do I know anything of the channels through which it
came into the possession of its present proprietor.

No. 235 is, on the contrary, one of the most consummate and majestic
works that ever came from the artist’s hand, and it is one of the very
few now remaining which have not been injured by subsequent treatment.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

DENMARK HILL, _Jan._ 23.

[From “The Life of Turner,” by Walter Thornbury.]


[The following admonition, sent by Mr. Ruskin in 1857 to Mr. Thornbury,
and coupled with the advice that for the biographer of Turner there was
no time to be lost, “for those who knew him when young are dying daily,”
forms a fit conclusion to this division of the letters.]

Fix at the beginning the following main characteristics of Turner in
your mind, as the keys to the secret of all he said and did.

    _Tenderness_ of heart (extreme).
    _Obstinacy_ (extreme).

And be sure that he knew his own power, and felt himself utterly alone
in the world from its not being understood. Don’t try to mask the dark

Yours most truly,

[See the preface to the first edition of the “Life of Turner;” that to
the second contains the following estimate of Mr. Thornbury’s book:[114]
“Lucerne, Dec. 2, 1861.--I have just received and am reading your book
with deep interest. I am much gratified by the view you have taken and
give of Turner. It is quite what I hoped. What beautiful things you have
discovered about him! Thank you for your courteous and far too
flattering references to me.”]







[From the “Catalogue of the Exhibition of Outlines by the late John Leech, at the
Gallery, 9 Conduit Street, Regent Street.” 1872.[115]]


I am honored by the request of the sister of John Leech that I should
give some account of the drawings of her brother, which remain in her
possession; and I am able to fulfil her request without departing from
the rule which has always bound me, not to allow any private interest to
weigh with me in speaking of matters which concern the public. It is
merely and simply a matter of public concern that the value of these
drawings should be known and measures taken for their acquisition, or,
at least, for obtaining a characteristic selection from them, as a
National property. It cannot be necessary for me, or for any one, now to
praise the work of John Leech. Admittedly it contains the finest
definition and natural history of the classes of our society, the
kindest and subtlest analysis of its foibles, the tenderest flattery of
its pretty and well-bred ways, with which the modesty of subservient
genius ever amused or immortalized careless masters. But it is not
generally known how much more valuable, as art, the first sketches for
the woodcuts were than the finished drawings, even before those drawings
sustained any loss in engraving.

John Leech was an absolute master of the elements of character,--but not
by any means of those of _chiaroscuro_,--and the admirableness of his
work diminished as it became elaborate. The first few lines in which he
sets down his purpose are invariably of all drawing that I know the
most wonderful in their accurate felicity and prosperous haste. It is
true that the best possible drawing, whether slight or elaborate, is
never hurried. Holbein or Titian, if they lay only a couple of lines,
yet lay them quietly, and leave them entirely right. But it needs a
certain sternness of temper to do this.

Most, in the prettiest sense of the word, _gentle_ artists indulge
themselves in the ease, and even trust to the felicity of rapid--and
even in a measure inconsiderate--work in sketching, so that the beauty
of a sketch is understood to be consistent with what is partly

There is, however, one condition of extreme and exquisite skill in which
haste may become unerring. It cannot be obtained in completely finished
work; but the hands of Gainsborough, Reynolds, or Tintoret often nearly
approach completion at full speed, and the pencil sketches of Turner are
expressive almost in the direct ratio of their rapidity.

But of all rapid and condensed realization ever accomplished by the
pencil, John Leech’s is the most dainty, and the least fallible, in the
subjects of which he was cognizant. Not merely right in the traits which
he seizes, but refined in the sacrifice of what he refuses.

The drawing becomes slight through fastidiousness not indolence, and the
finest discretion has left its touches rare.

In flexibility and lightness of pencilling, nothing but the best
outlines of Italian masters with the silver point can be compared to
them. That Leech sketched English squires instead of saints, and their
daughters instead of martyrs, does not in the least affect the question
respecting skill of pencilling; and I repeat deliberately that nothing
but the best work of sixteenth century Italy with the silver point
exists in art, which in rapid refinement these playful English drawings
do not excel. There are too many of them (fortunately) to be rightly
exemplary--I want to see the collection divided, dated carefully, and
selected portions placed in good light, in a quite permanent arrangement
in each of our great towns in connection with their drawing schools.

I will not indeed have any in Oxford while I am there, because I am
afraid that my pupils should think too lightly of their drawing as
compared with their other studies, and I doubt their studying anything
else but John Leech if they had him to study. But in our servile schools
of mechanical drawing, to see what drawing was indeed, which could
represent something better than machines, and could not be mimicked by
any machinery, would put more life into them than any other teaching I
can conceive.

It is, therefore, with the greatest pleasure that I accept the honor of
having my name placed on the committee for obtaining funds for the
purchase of these drawings; and I trust that the respect of the English
public for the gentle character of the master, and their gratitude for
the amusement with which he has brightened so many of their days, will
be expressed in the only way in which expression is yet possible by due
care and wise use of the precious possessions he has left to them.

(Signed)   J. RUSKIN.

[From “The Architect,” December 27, 1873.]


_To the Editor of “The Architect.”_

MY DEAR SIR: I am entirely glad you had permission to publish some of
Mr. Ernest George’s etchings;[116] they are the most precious pieces of
work I have seen for many a day, though they are still, like nearly
everything the English do best in art, faultful in matters which might
have been easily conquered, and not a little wasteful, sometimes of
means and time; I should be glad, therefore, of space enough in your
columns to state, with reference to these sketches, some of the
principles of etching which I had not time to define in the lectures on
engraving I gave this year, at Oxford,[117] and which are too often
forgotten even by our best draughtsmen.

I call Mr. George’s work precious, chiefly because it indicates an
intense perception of points of character in architecture, and a sincere
enjoyment of them for their own sake. His drawings are not accumulative
of material for future use; still less are they vain exhibitions of his
own skill. He draws the scene in all its true relations, because it
delights him, and he perceives what is permanently and altogether
characteristic in it. As opposed to such frank and joyful work, most
modern architectural drawings are mere diagram or exercise.

I call them precious, in the second place, because they show very great
powers of true composition. All their subjects are made delightful more
by skill of arrangement than by any dexterities of execution; and this
faculty is very rare amongst landscape painters and architects, because
nearly every man who has any glimmering of it naturally takes to figure
painting--not that the ambition to paint figures is any sign of the
faculty, but that, when people have the faculty, they nearly always have
also the ambition. And, indeed, this is quite right, if they would not
forsake their architecture afterwards, but apply their power of figure
design, when gained, to the decoration of their buildings.

To return to Mr. George’s work. It is precious, lastly, in its fine
sense of serene light and shade, as opposed to the coruscations and
horrors of modern attempts in that direction. But it is a pity--and this
is the first grand principle of etching which I feel it necessary to
affirm--when the instinct of chiaroscuro leads the artist to spend time
in producing texture on his plate which cannot be ultimately perfect,
however labored. All the common raptures concerning blots, burr,
delicate biting, and the other tricks of the etching trade, merely
indicate imperfect feeling for shadow.

The proper instrument of chiaroscuro is the brush; a wash of sepia,
rightly managed, will do more in ten minutes than Rembrandt himself
could do in ten days of the most ingenious scratching, or blurt out by
the most happy mixtures of art and accident.[118] As soon as Mr. George
has learned what true light and shade is (and a few careful studies with
brush or chalk would enable him to do so), he will not labor his etched
subjects in vain. The virtue of an etching, in this respect, is to
express perfectly harmonious sense of light and shade, but not to
realize it. All fine etchings are done with few lines.

Secondly--and this is a still more important general principle (I must
let myself fall into dictatorial terms for brevity’s sake)--Let your few
lines be sternly clear, however delicate, or however dark. All burr and
botch is child’s play, and a true draughtsman must never be at the mercy
of his copper and ink. Drive your line well and fairly home; don’t
scrawl or zigzag; know where your hand is going, and what it is doing,
to a hairbreadth; then bite clear and clean, and let the last impression
be as good as the first. When it begins to fail break your plate.

Third general principle.

Don’t depend much on various biting. For a true master, and a great
purpose, even one biting is enough. By no flux or dilution of acid can
you ever etch a curl of hair or a cloud; and if you think you can etch
the gradations of coarser things, it is only because you have never
seen them. Try, at your leisure, to etch a teacup or a tallow candle, of
their real size; see what you can make of the gradations of those
familiar articles; if you succeed to your mind, you may try something
more difficult afterwards.

Lastly. For all definite shades of architectural detail, use pencil or
charcoal, or the brush, never the pen point. You can draw a leaf surface
rightly in a minute or two with these--with the pen point, never, to all
eternity. And on you knowing what the surface of a form is depends your
entire power of recognizing good work. The difference between
thirteenth-century work, wholly beautiful, and a cheap imitation of it,
wholly damnable, lies in gradation of surface as subtle as those of a
rose-leaf, and which are, to modern sculpture, what singing is to a

For the rest, the limitation of etched work to few lines enables the
sketcher to multiply his subjects, and make his time infinitely more
useful to himself and others. I would most humbly solicit, in
conclusion, such advantageous use of his gifts from Mr. George. He might
etch a little summer tour for us every year, and give permanent and
exquisite record of a score of scenes, rich in historical interest, with
no more pains than he has spent on one or two of these plates in drawing
the dark sides of a wall. Yours faithfully,


[From “The Times,” January 20, 1876.]


DEAR MR. MARKS:[119] You ask me to say what I feel of Frederick Walker’s
work, now seen in some collective mass, as far as anything can be seen
in black-veiled London. You have long known my admiration of his genius,
my delight in many passages of his art. These, while he lived, were all
I cared to express. If you will have me speak of him now, I will speak
the whole truth of what I feel--namely, that every soul in London
interested in art ought to go to see that Exhibition, and, amid all the
beauty and the sadness of it, very diligently to try and examine
themselves as to the share they have had, in their own busy modern life,
in arresting the power of this man at the point where it stayed. Very
chief share they have had, assuredly. But he himself, in the liberal and
radical temper of modern youth, has had his own part in casting down his
strength, following wantonly or obstinately his own fancies wherever
they led him. For instance, it being Nature’s opinion that sky should
usually be blue, and it being Mr. Walker’s opinion that it should be the
color of buff plaster, he resolutely makes it so, for his own isolated
satisfaction, partly in affectation also, buff skies being considered by
the public more sentimental than blue ones. Again, the laws of all good
painting having been long ago determined by absolute masters, whose work
cannot be bettered nor departed from--Titian having determined forever
what oil-painting is, Angelico what tempera-painting is, Perugino what
fresco-painting is, two hundred years of noble miniature-painting what
minutest work on ivory is, and, in modern times, a score of entirely
skillful and disciplined draughtsmen what pure water-color and pure
body-color painting on paper are (Turner’s Yorkshire drawing of Hornby
Castle, now at Kensington, and John Lewis’s “Encampment under
Sinai,”[120] being nameable at once as unsurpassable standards), here is
Mr. Walker refusing to learn anything from any of those schools or
masters, but inventing a semi-miniature, quarter fresco, quarter wash
manner of his own--exquisitely clever, and reaching, under such clever
management, delightfullest results here and there, but which betrays his
genius into perpetual experiment instead of achievement, and his life
into woeful vacillation between the good, old, quiet room of the
Water-Color Society, and your labyrinthine magnificence at Burlington

Lastly, and in worst error, the libraries of England being full of true
and noble books--her annals of true and noble history, and her
traditions of beautiful and noble--in these scientific times I must say,
I suppose, “mythology”--not religion--from all these elements of mental
education and subjects of serviceable art, he turns recklessly away to
enrich the advertisements of the circulating library, to sketch whatever
pleases his fancy, barefooted, or in dainty boots, of modern beggary and
fashion, and enforce, with laboriously symbolical pathos, his adherence
to Justice Shallow’s sublime theology that “all shall die.”

That theology has indeed been preached by stronger men, again and again,
from Horace’s days to our own, but never to so little purpose. “Let us
eat and drink, for to-morrow we die,” said wisely in his way, the Latin
farmer: ate his beans and bacon in comfort, had his suppers of the gods
on the fair earth, with his servants jesting round the table, and left
eternal monuments of earthly wisdom and of cricket-song. “Let us labor
and be just, for to-morrow we die, and after death the Judgment,” said
Holbein and Durer, and left eternal monuments of upright human toil and
honorable gloom of godly fear. “Let us rejoice and be exceeding glad,
for to-morrow we die, and shall be with God,” said Angelico and Giotto,
and left eternal monuments of divinely-blazoned heraldry of Heaven. “Let
us smoke pipes, make money, read bad novels, walk in bad air, and say
sentimentally how sick we are in the afternoon, for to-morrow we die,
and shall be made ourselves clay pipes,” says the modern world, and
drags this poor bright painter down into the abyss with it, vainly
clutching at a handful or two of scent and flowers in the May gardens.

Under which sorrowful terms, being told also by your grand Academicians
that he should paint the nude, and, accordingly, wasting a year or two
of his life in trying to paint schoolboys’ backs and legs without their
shirts or breeches, and with such other magazine material as he can pick
up of sick gypsies, faded gentlewomen, pretty girls disguised as
paupers, and the red-roofed or gray remnants of old English villages and
manor-house, last wrecks of the country’s peace and honor, remaining yet
visible among the black ravages of its ruin, he supplies the demands of
his temporary public, scarcely patient, even now that he has gone, to
pause beside his delicate tulips or under his sharp-leaved willows, and
repent for the passing tints and fallen petals of the life that might
have been so precious, and, perhaps, in better days, prolonged.

That is the main moral of the Exhibition. Of the beauty of the drawings,
accepting them for what they aim at being, there is little need that I
should add anything to what has been already said rightly by the chief
organs of the London Press. Nothing can go beyond them in subtlety of
exhibited touch (to be distinguished, however, observe always from the
serene completion of master’s work, disdaining the applause to be gained
by its manifestation); their harmonies of amber-color and purple are
full of exquisite beauty in their chosen key; their composition always
graceful, often admirable, and the sympathy they express with all
conditions of human life most kind and true; not without power of
rendering character which would have been more recognized in an inferior
artist, because it would have been less restrained by the love of

I might, perhaps, in my days of youth and good fortune, have written
what the public would have called “eloquent passages” on the subjects of
the Almshouse and the Old Gate;[121] being now myself old and decrepit
(besides being much bothered with beggars, and in perpetual feud with
parish officers), and having seen every building I cared for in the
world ruined, I pass these two pictures somewhat hastily by, and try to
enjoy myself a little in the cottage gardens. Only one of them,
however,--No. 71,--has right sunshine in it, and that is a sort of
walled paddock where I begin directly to feel uncomfortable about the
lamb, lest, perchance, some front shop in the cottages belong to a
butcher. If only it and I could get away to a bit of thymy hill-side, we
should be so much happier, leaving the luminous--perhaps too ideally
luminous--child to adorn the pathetic paddock. I am too shy to speak to
either of those two beautiful ladies among the lilies (37, 67), and take
refuge among the shy children before the “Chaplain’s Daughter”
(20)--delightfullest, it seems to me, of the minor designs, and a piece
of most true and wise satire. The sketches of the “Daughter of Heth” go
far to tempt me to read the novel; and, ashamed of this weakness, I
retreat resolutely to the side of the exemplary young girl knitting in
the “Old Farm Garden” (33), and would instantly pick up her ball of
worsted for her, but that I wouldn’t for the world disappoint the cat.
No drawing in the room is more delicately completed than this
unpretending subject, and the flower-painting in it, for instantaneous
grace of creative touch, cannot be rivalled; it is worth all the Dutch
flower-pieces in the world.

Much instructed, and more humiliated, by passage after passage of its
rapidly-grouped color, I get finally away into the comfortable corner
beside the salmon-fishers and the mushrooms; and the last-named drawing,
despise me who may, keeps me till I’ve no more time to stay, for it
entirely beats my dear old William Hunt in the simplicity of its
execution, and rivals him in the subtlest truth.

I say nothing of the “Fishmonger’s Stalls” (952), though there are
qualities of the same kind in these also, for they somewhat provoke me
by their waste of time--the labor spent on one of them would have
painted twenty instructive studies of fish of their real size. And it is
well for artists in general to observe that when they do condescend to
paint still life carefully--whether fruit, fungi, or fish--it must at
least be of the real size. The portrait of a man or woman is only
justifiably made small that it may be portable, and nobody wants to
carry about the miniature of a cod; and if the reader will waste five
minutes of his season in London in the National Gallery, he may see in
the hand of Perugino’s Tobias a fish worth all these on the boards

Some blame of the same kind attaches to the marvellous drawing No. 68.
It is all very well for a young artist to show how much work he can put
into an inch, but very painful for an old gentleman of fifty-seven to
have to make out all the groups through a magnifying-glass. I could say
something malicious about the boat, in consequence of the effect of this
exertion on my temper, but will not, and leave with unqualified praise
the remainder of the lesser drawings to the attention which each will
variously reward.

Nor, in what I have already, it may be thought, too bluntly said, ought
the friends of the noble artist to feel that I am unkind. It is because
I know his real power more deeply than any of the admirers who give him
indiscriminate applause, that I think it right distinctly to mark the
causes which prevented his reaching heights they did not conceive, and
ended by placing one more tablet in the street of tombs, which the
passionate folly and uninstructed confusion of modern English society
prolong into dark perspective above the graves of its youth.

I am, dear Marks, always very faithfully yours,




    THE CASTLE ROCK (EDINBURGH). 1857 (Sept. 14).
    EDINBURGH CASTLE. 1857 (Sept. 17).
    CASTLES AND KENNELS. 1871 (Dec. 22).
    VERONA _v._ WARWICK. 1871 (Dec. 24).
    MR RUSKIN’S INFLUENCE--A DEFENCE. 1872 (March 15).
    Circular relating to ST. MARK’S, VENICE. 1879.



[From “The Oxford Museum,” by H. W. Acland and J. Ruskin. 1859. pp. 44-56.]


DEAR ACLAND: I have been very anxious, since I last heard from you,
respecting the progress of the works at the Museum, as I thought I could
trace in your expressions some doubt of an entirely satisfactory issue.

_Entirely_ satisfactory very few issues are, or can be; and when the
enterprise, as in this instance, involves the development of many new
and progressive principles, we must always be prepared for a due measure
of disappointment,--due partly to human weakness, and partly to what the
ancients would have called fate,--and we may, perhaps, most wisely call
the law of trial, which forbids any great good being usually
accomplished without various compensations and deductions, probably not
a little humiliating.

Perhaps in writing to you what seems to me to be the bearing of matters
respecting your Museum, I may be answering a few of the doubts of
others, as well as fears of your own.

I am quite sure that when you first used your influence to advocate the
claims of a Gothic design, you did so under the conviction, shared by
all the seriously-purposed defenders of the Gothic style, that the
essence and power of Gothic, properly so called, lay in its adaptability
to all need; in that perfect and unlimited flexibility which would
enable the architect to provide all that was required, in the simplest
and most convenient way; and to give you the best offices, the best
lecture-rooms, laboratories, and museums, which could be provided with
the sum of money at his disposal.

So far as the architect has failed in doing this; so far as you find
yourself, with the other professors, in anywise inconvenienced by forms
of architecture; so far as pillars or piers come in your way, when you
have to point, or vaults in the way of your voice, when you have to
speak, or mullions in the way of your light, when you want to see--just
so far the architect has failed in expressing his own principles, or
those of pure Gothic art. I do not suppose that such failure has taken
place to any considerable extent; but so far as it has taken place, it
cannot in justice be laid to the score of the style, since precedent has
shown sufficiently, that very uncomfortable and useless rooms may be
provided in all other styles as well as in Gothic; and I think if, in a
building arranged for many objects of various kinds, at a time when the
practice of architecture has been somewhat confused by the inventions of
modern science, and is hardly yet organized completely with respect to
the new means at his disposal; if, under such circumstances, and with
somewhat limited funds, you have yet obtained a building in all main
points properly fulfilling its requirements, you have, I think, as much
as could be hoped from the adoption of any style whatsoever.

But I am much more anxious about the decoration of the building; for I
fear that it will be hurried in completion, and that, partly in haste
and partly in mistimed economy, a great opportunity may be lost of
advancing the best interest of architectural, and in that, of all other
arts. For the principles of Gothic decoration, in themselves as simple
and beautiful as those of Gothic construction, are far less understood,
as yet, by the English public, and it is little likely that any
effective measures can be taken to carry them out. You know as well as
I, what those principles are; yet it may be convenient to you that I
should here state them briefly as I accept them myself, and have reason
to suppose they are accepted by the principal promoters of the Gothic

I. The first principle of Gothic decoration is that a given quantity of
good art will be more generally useful when exhibited on a large scale,
and forming part of a connected system, than when it is small and
separated. That is to say, a piece of sculpture or painting, of a
certain allowed merit, will be more useful when seen on the front of a
building, or at the end of a room, and therefore by many persons, than
if it be so small as to be only capable of being seen by one or two at a
time; and it will be more useful when so combined with other work as to
produce that kind of impression usually termed “sublime,”--as it is felt
on looking at any great series of fixed paintings, or at the front of a
cathedral,--than if it be so separated as to excite only a special
wonder or admiration, such as we feel for a jewel in a cabinet.

The paintings by Meissonier in the French Exhibition of this year were
bought, I believe, before the Exhibition opened, for 250 guineas each.
They each represented one figure, about six inches high--one, a student
reading; the other, a courtier standing in a dress-coat. Neither of
these paintings conveyed any information, or produced any emotion
whatever, except that of surprise at their minute and dextrous
execution. They will be placed by their possessors on the walls of small
private apartments, where they will probably, once or twice a week, form
the subject of five minutes’ conversation while people drink their
coffee after dinner. The sum expended on these toys would have been
amply sufficient to cover a large building with noble frescoes,
appealing to every passer-by, and representing a large portion of the
history of any given period. But the general tendency of the European
patrons of art is to grudge all sums spent in a way thus calculated to
confer benefit on the public, and to grudge none for minute treasures of
which the principal advantage is that a lock and key can always render
them invisible.

I have no hesitation in saying that an acquisitive selfishness,
rejoicing somewhat even in the sensation of possessing what can NOT be
seen by others, is at the root of this art-patronage. It is, of course,
coupled with a sense of securer and more convenient investment in what
may be easily protected and easily carried from place to place, than in
large and immovable works; and also with a vulgar delight in the minute
curiosities of productive art, rather than in the exercise of inventive
genius, or the expression of great facts or emotions.

The first aim of the Gothic Revivalists is to counteract, as far as
possible, this feeling on all its three grounds. We desire (A) to make
art large and publicly beneficial, instead of small and privately
engrossed or secluded; (B) to make art fixed instead of portable,
associating it with local character and historical memory; (C) to make
art expressive instead of curious, valuable for its suggestions and
teachings, more than for the mode of its manufacture.

II. The second great principle of the Gothic Revivalists is that all art
employed in decoration should be informative, conveying truthful
statements about natural facts, if it conveys _any_ statement. It may
sometimes merely compose its decorations of mosaics, checkers, bosses,
or other meaningless ornaments: but if it represents organic form (and
in all important places it _will_ represent it), it will give that form
truthfully, with as much resemblance to nature as the necessary
treatment of the piece of ornament in question will admit of.

This principle is more disputed than the first among the Gothic
Revivalists themselves. I, however, hold it simply and entirely,
believing that ornamentation is always, _cæteris paribus_, most valuable
and beautiful when it is founded on the most extended knowledge of
natural forms, and conveys continually such knowledge to the

III. The third great principle of the Gothic Revival is that all
architectural ornamentation should be executed by the men who design it,
and should be of various degrees of excellence, admitting, and therefore
exciting, the intelligent co-operation of various classes of workmen;
and that a great public edifice should be, in sculpture and painting,
somewhat the same as a great chorus of music, in which, while, perhaps,
there may be only one or two voices perfectly trained, and of perfect
sweetness (the rest being in various degrees weaker and less
cultivated), yet all being ruled in harmony, and each sustaining a part
consistent with its strength, the body of sound is sublime, in spite of
individual weaknesses.

The Museum at Oxford was, I know, intended by its designer to exhibit in
its decoration the working of these three principles; but in the very
fact of its doing so, it becomes exposed to chances of occasional
failure, or even to serious discomfitures, such as would not at all have
attended the adoption of an established mode of modern work. It is easy
to carve capitals on models known for four thousand years, and
impossible to fail in the application of mechanical methods and
formalized rules. But it is not possible to appeal vigorously to new
canons of judgment without the chance of giving offence; nor to summon
into service the various phases of human temper and intelligence,
without occasionally finding the tempers rough and the intelligence
feeble. The Oxford Museum is, I believe, the first building in this
country which has had its ornamentation, in any telling parts, trusted
to the invention of the workman: the result is highly satisfactory, the
projecting windows of the staircases being as beautiful in effect as
anything I know in civil Gothic: but far more may be accomplished for
the building if the completion of its carving be not hastened; many men
of high artistic power might be brought to take an interest in it, and
various lessons and suggestions given to the workmen which would
materially advantage the final decoration of leading features. No very
great Gothic building, so far as I know, was ever yet completed without
some of this wise deliberation and fruitful patience.

I was in hopes from the beginning that the sculpture might have been
rendered typically illustrative of the English Flora: how far this idea
has been as yet carried out I do not know; but I know that it cannot be
properly carried out without a careful examination of the available
character of the principal genera, such as architects have not hitherto
undertaken. The proposal which I heard advanced the other day, of adding
a bold entrance-porch to the façade, appeared to me every way full of
advantage, the blankness of the façade having been, to my mind, from the
first, a serious fault in the design. If a subscription were opened for
the purpose of erecting one, I should think there were few persons
interested in modern art who would not be glad to join in forwarding
such an object.

I think I could answer for some portions of the design being
superintended by the best of our modern sculptors and painters; and I
believe that, if so superintended, the porch might and would become the
crowning beauty of the building, and make all the difference between its
being only a satisfactory and meritorious work, or a most lovely and
impressive one.

The interior decoration is a matter of much greater difficulty; perhaps
you will allow me to defer the few words I have to say about it till I
have time for another letter: which, however, I hope to find speedily.

Believe me, my dear Acland, ever affectionately yours,

J. RUSKIN[124]

[From “the Oxford Museum,” pp. 60-90.]

_Gothic Architecture and the Oxford Museum._

_January_ 20, 1859.

MY DEAR ACLAND: I was not able to write, as I had hoped, from
Switzerland, for I found it impossible to lay down any principles
respecting the decoration of the Museum which did not in one way or
other involve disputed points, too many, and too subtle, to be discussed
in a letter. Nor do I feel the difficulty less in writing to you now, so
far as regards the question occurring in our late conversations,
respecting the best mode of completing those interior decorations. Yet I
must write, if only to ask that I may be in some way associated with you
in what you are now doing to bring the Museum more definitely before the
public mind--that I may be associated at least in the expression of my
deep sense of the noble purpose of the building--of the noble sincerity
of effort in its architect--of the endless good which the teachings to
which it will be devoted must, in their ultimate issue, accomplish for
mankind. How vast the range of that issue, you have shown in the lecture
which I have just read, in which you have so admirably traced the chain
of the physical sciences as it encompasses the great concords of this
visible universe.[125] But how deep the workings of these new springs of
knowledge are to be, and how great our need of them, and how far the
brightness and the beneficence of them are to reach among all the best
interests of men--perhaps none of us can yet conceive, far less know or
say. For, much as I reverence physical science as a means of mental
education (and you know how I have contended for it, as such, now these
twenty years, from the sunny afternoon of spring when Ehrenberg and you
and I went hunting for infusoria in Christchurch meadow streams, to the
hour when the prize offered by Sir Walter Trevelyan and yourself for the
best essay on the Fauna of that meadow, marked the opening of a new era
in English education[126])--much, I say, as I reverence physical science
in this function, I reverence it, at this moment, more as the source of
utmost human practical power, and the means by which the far-distant
races of the world, who now sit in darkness and the shadow of death, are
to be reached and regenerated. At home or far away--the call is equally
instant--here, for want of more extended physical science, there is
plague in our streets, famine in our fields; the pest strikes root and
fruit over a hemisphere of the earth, we know not why; the voices of our
children fade away into silence of venomous death, we know not why; the
population of this most civilized country resists every effort to lead
it into purity of habit and habitation--to give it genuineness of
nourishment, and wholesomeness of air, as a new interference with its
liberty; and insists vociferously on its right to helpless death. All
this is terrible; but it is more terrible yet that dim, phosphorescent,
frightful superstitions still hold their own over two-thirds of the
inhabited globe, and that all the phenomena of nature which were
intended by the Creator to enforce His eternal laws of love and
judgment, and which, rightly understood, enforce them more strongly by
their patient beneficence, and their salutary destructiveness, than the
miraculous dew on Gideon’s fleece, or the restrained lightnings of
Horeb--that all these legends of God’s daily dealing with His creatures
remain unread, or are read backwards, into blind, hundred-armed horror
of idol cosmogony.

How strange it seems that physical science should ever have been thought
adverse to religion! The pride of physical science is, indeed, adverse,
like every other pride, both to religion and truth; but sincerity of
science, so far from being hostile, is the path-maker among the
mountains for the feet of those who publish peace.

Now, therefore, and now only, it seems to me, the University has become
complete in her function as a teacher of the youth of the nation to
which every hour gives wider authority over distant lands; and from
which every rood of extended dominion demands new, various, and
variously applicable knowledge of the laws which govern the constitution
of the globe, and must finally regulate the industry, no less than
discipline the intellect, of the human race. I can hardly turn my mind
from these deep causes of exultation to the minor difficulties which
beset or restrict your undertaking. The great work is accomplished; the
immediate impression made by it is of little importance; and as for my
own special subjects of thought or aim, though many of them are closely
involved in what has been done, and some principles which I believe to
be, in their way, of great importance, are awkwardly compromised in what
has been imperfectly done--all these I am tempted to waive, or content
to compromise when only I know that the building is in main points fit
for its mighty work. Yet you will not think that it was matter of
indifference to me when I saw, as I went over Professor Brodie’s[127]
chemical laboratories the other day, how closely this success of
adaptation was connected with the choice of the style. It was very
touching and wonderful to me. Here was the architecture which I had
learned to know and love in pensive ruins, deserted by the hopes and
efforts of men, or in dismantled fortress-fragments recording only their
cruelty--here was this very architecture lending itself, as if created
only for these, to the foremost activities of human discovery, and the
tenderest functions of human mercy. No other architecture, as I felt in
an instant, could have thus adapted itself to a new and strange office.
No fixed arrangements of frieze and pillar, nor accepted proportions of
wall and roof, nor practised refinement of classical decoration, could
have otherwise than absurdly and fantastically yielded its bed to the
crucible, and its blast to the furnace; but these old vaultings and
strong buttresses--ready always to do service to man, whatever his
bidding--to shake the waves of war back from his seats of rock, or
prolonged through faint twilights of sanctuary, the sighs of his
superstition--he had but to ask it of them, and they entered at once
into the lowliest ministries of the arts of healing, and the sternest
and clearest offices in the service of science.

And the longer I examined the Museum arrangements, the more I felt that
it could be only some accidental delay in the recognition of this
efficiency for its work which had caused any feeling adverse to its
progress among the members of the University. The general idea about the
Museum has perhaps been, hitherto, that it is a forced endeavor to bring
decorative forms of architecture into uncongenial uses; whereas, the
real fact is, as far as I can discern it, that no other architecture
would, under the required circumstances, have been _possible_; and that
any effort to introduce classical types of form into these laboratories
and museums must have ended in ludicrous discomfiture. But the building
has now reached a point of crisis, and it depends upon the treatment
which its rooms now receive in completion, whether the facts of their
propriety and utility be acknowledged by the public, or lost sight of in
the distraction of their attention to matters wholly external.

So strongly I feel this, that, whatever means of decoration had been at
your disposal, I should have been inclined to recommend an exceeding
reserve in that matter. Perhaps I should even have desired such reserve
on abstract grounds of feeling. The study of Natural History is one
eminently addressed to the active energies of body and mind. Nothing is
to be got out of it by dreaming, not always much by thinking--everything
by seeking and seeing. It is work for the hills and fields,--work of
foot and hand, knife and hammer,--so far as it is to be afterwards
carried on in the house, the more active and workmanlike our proceedings
the better, fresh air blowing in from the windows, and nothing
interfering with the free space for our shelves and instruments on the
walls. I am not sure that much interior imagery or color, or other
exciting address to any of the observant faculties, would be desirable
under such circumstances. You know best; but I should no more think of
painting in bright colors beside you, while you were dissecting or
analyzing, than of entertaining you by a concert of fifes and cymbals.

But farther: Do you suppose Gothic decoration is an easy thing, or that
it is to be carried out with a certainty of success at the first trial,
under new and difficult conditions? The system of the Gothic decorations
took eight hundred years to mature, gathering its power by undivided
inheritance of traditional method, and unbroken accession of systematic
power; from its culminating point in the Sainte Chapelle, it faded
through four hundred years of splendid decline; now for two centuries it
has lain dead--and more than so--buried; and more than so, forgotten, as
a dead man out of mind; do you expect to revive it out of those retorts
and furnaces of yours, as the cloud-spirit of the Arabian sea rose from
beneath the seals of Solomon? Perhaps I have been myself faultfully
answerable for this too eager hope in your mind (as well as in that of
others) by what I have urged so often respecting the duty of bringing
out the power of subordinate workmen in decorative design. But do you
think I meant workmen trained (or untrained) in the way that ours have
been until lately, and then cast loose on a sudden, into unassisted
contentions with unknown elements of style? I meant the precise contrary
of this; I meant workmen as we have yet to create them: men inheriting
the instincts of their craft through many generations, rigidly trained
in every mechanical art that bears on their materials, and familiarized
from infancy with every condition of their beautiful and perfect
treatment; informed and refined in manhood, by constant observation of
all natural fact and form; then classed, according to their proved
capacities, in ordered companies, in which every man shall know his
part, and take it calmly and without effort or doubt,--indisputably
well, unaccusably accomplished, mailed and weaponed _cap-à-pie_ for his
place and function. Can you lay your hand on such men? or do you think
that mere natural good-will and good-feeling can at once supply their
place? Not so: and the more faithful and earnest the minds you have to
deal with, the more careful you should be not to urge them towards
fields of effort, in which, too early committed, they can only be put to
unserviceable defeat.

Nor can you hope to accomplish by rule or system what cannot be done by
individual taste. The laws of color are definable up to certain limits,
but they are not yet defined. So far are they from definition, that the
last, and, on the whole, best work on the subject (Sir Gardiner
Wilkinson’s) declares the “color concords” of preceding authors to be
discords, and _vice versâ_.[128]

Much, therefore, as I love color decoration when it is rightly given,
and essential as it has been felt by the great architects of all periods
to the completion of their work, I would not, in your place, endeavor to
carry out such decoration at present, in any elaborate degree, in the
interior of the Museum. Leave it for future thought; above all, try no
experiments. Let small drawings be made of the proposed arrangements of
color in every room; have them altered on the paper till you feel they
are right; then carry them out firmly and simply; but, observe, with as
delicate execution as possible. Rough work is good in its place, three
hundred feet above the eye, on a cathedral front, but not in the
interior of rooms, devoted to studies in which everything depends upon
accuracy of touch and keenness of sight.

With respect to this finishing, by the last touches bestowed on the
_sculpture_ of the building, I feel painfully the harmfulness of any
ill-advised parsimony at this moment. For it may, perhaps, be alleged by
the advocates of retrenchment, that so long as the building is fit for
its uses (and your report is conclusive as to its being so), economy in
treatment of external feature is perfectly allowable, and will in nowise
diminish the serviceableness of the building in the great objects which
its designs regarded. To a certain extent this is true. You have
comfortable rooms, I hope sufficient apparatus; and it now depends much
more on the professors than on the ornaments of the building, whether or
not it is to become a bright or obscure centre of public instruction.
Yet there are other points to be considered. As the building stands at
present, there is a discouraging aspect of parsimony about it. One sees
that the architect has done the utmost he could with the means at his
disposal, and that just at the point of reaching what was right, he has
been stopped for want of funds. This is visible in almost every stone of
the edifice. It separates it with broad distinctiveness from all the
other buildings in the University. It may be seen at once that our other
public institutions, and all our colleges--though some of them simply
designed--are yet _richly_ built, never pinchingly. Pieces of princely
costliness, every here and there, mingle among the simplicities or
severities of the student’s life. What practical need, for instance,
have we at Christchurch of the beautiful fan-vaulting under which we
ascend to dine? We might have as easily achieved the eminence of our
banquets under a plain vault. What need have the readers in the Bodleian
of the ribbed traceries which decorate its external walls? Yet, which of
those readers would not think that learning was insulted by their
removal? And are there any of the students of Balliol devoid of
gratitude for the kindly munificence of the man who gave them the
beautiful sculptured brackets of their oriel window, when three massy
projecting stones would have answered the purpose just as well? In these
and also other regarded and pleasant portions of our colleges, we find
always a wealthy and worthy completion of all appointed features, which
I believe is not without strong, though untraced effect, on the minds of
the younger scholars, giving them respect for the branches of learning
which these buildings are intended to honor, and increasing, in a
certain degree, that sense of the value of delicacy and accuracy which
is the first condition of advance in those branches of learning

Your Museum, if you now bring it to hurried completion, will convey an
impression directly the reverse of this. It will have the look of a
place, not where a revered system of instruction is established, but
where an unadvised experiment is being disadvantageously attempted. It
is yet in your power to avoid this, and to make the edifice as noble in
aspect as in function. Whatever chance there may be of failure in
interior work, rich ornamentation may be given, without any chance of
failure, to just that portion of the exterior which will give pleasure
to every passer-by, and express the meaning of the building best to the
eyes of strangers. There is, I repeat, no chance of serious failure in
this external decoration, because your architect has at his command the
aid of men, such as worked with the architects of past times. Not only
has the art of Gothic sculpture in part remained, though that of Gothic
color has been long lost, but the unselfish--and, I regret to say, in
part self-sacrificing--zeal of two first-rate sculptors, Mr. Munro and
Mr. Woolner, which has already given you a series of noble statues, is
still at your disposal, to head and systematize the efforts of inferior

I do not know if you will attribute it to a higher estimate than yours
of the genius of the O’Shea family,[129] or to a lower estimate of what
they have as yet accomplished, that I believe they will, as they
proceed, produce much better ornamental sculpture than any at present
completed in the Museum. It is also to be remembered that sculptors are
able to work for us with a directness of meaning which none of our
painters could bring to their task, even were they disposed to help us.
A painter is scarcely excited to his strength, but by subjects full of
circumstance, such as it would be difficult to suggest appropriately in
the present building; but a sculptor has room enough for his full power
in the portrait statues, which are necessarily the leading features of
good Gothic decoration. Let me pray you, therefore, so far as you have
influence with the delegacy, to entreat their favorable consideration of
the project stated in Mr. Greswell’s appeal--the enrichment of the
doorway, and the completion of the sculpture of the West Front. There is
a reason for desiring such a plan to be carried out, of wider reach
than any bearing on the interests of the Museum itself. I believe that
the elevation of all arts in England to their true dignity, depends
principally on our recovering that unity of purpose in sculptors and
architects, which characterized the designers of all great Christian
buildings. Sculpture, separated from architecture, always degenerates
into effeminacies and conceits; architecture, stripped of sculpture, is
at best a convenient arrangement of dead walls; associated, they not
only adorn, but reciprocally exalt each other, and give to all the arts
of the country in which they thus exist, a correspondent tone of

But I would plead for the enrichment of this doorway by portrait
sculpture, not so much even on any of these important grounds, as
because it would be the first example in modern English architecture of
the real value and right place of commemorative statues. We seem never
to know at present where to put such statues. In the midst of the
blighted trees of desolate squares, or at the crossings of confused
streets, or balanced on the pinnacles of pillars, or riding across the
tops of triumphal arches, or blocking up the aisles of cathedrals--in
none of these positions, I think, does the portrait statue answer its
purpose. It may be a question whether the erection of such statues is
honorable to the erectors, but assuredly it is not honorable to the
persons whom it pretends to commemorate; nor is it anywise matter of
exultation to a man who has deserved well of his country to reflect that
he may one day encumber a crossing, or disfigure a park gate. But there
is no man of worth or heart who would not feel it a high and priceless
reward that his statue should be placed where it might remind the youth
of England of what had been exemplary in his life, or useful in his
labors, and might be regarded with no empty reverence, no fruitless
pensiveness, but with the emulative, eager, unstinted passionateness of
honor, which youth pays to the dead leaders of the cause it loves, or
discoverers of the light by which it lives. To be buried under weight of
marble, or with splendor of ceremonial, is still no more than burial;
but to be remembered daily, with profitable tenderness, by the activest
intelligences of the nation we have served, and to have power granted
even to the shadows of the poor features, sunk into dust, still to warn,
to animate, to command, as the father’s brow rules and exalts the toil
of his children. This is not burial, but immortality.

There is, however, another kind of portraiture, already richly
introduced in the works of the Museum; the portraiture, namely, of
flowers and animals, respecting which I must ask you to let me say a few
selfish, no less than congratulatory words--selfish, inasmuch as they
bear on this visible exposition of a principle which it has long been
one of my most earnest aims to maintain. We English call ourselves a
practical people; but, nevertheless, there are some of our best and most
general instincts which it takes us half-centuries to put into practice.
Probably no educated Englishman or Englishwoman has ever, for the last
forty years, visited Scotland, with leisure on their hands, without
making a pilgrimage to Melrose; nor have they ever, I suppose,
accomplished the pilgrimage without singing to themselves the burden of
Scott’s description of the Abbey. Nor in that description (may it not
also be conjectured) do they usually feel any couplets more deeply than

    “Spreading herbs and flowerets bright
     Glistened with the dew of night.
     No herb nor floweret glistened there
     But was carved in the cloister arches as fair.”

And yet, though we are raising every year in England new examples of
every kind of costly and variously intended buildings,--ecclesiastical,
civil, and domestic,--none of us, through all that period, had boldness
enough to put the pretty couplets into simple practice. We went on, even
in the best Gothic work we attempted, clumsily copying the rudest
ornaments of previous buildings; we never so much as dreamed of learning
from the monks of Melrose, and seeking for help beneath the dew that
sparkled on their “gude kail” garden.[130]

Your Museum at Oxford is literally the first building raised in England
since the close of the fifteenth century, which has fearlessly put to
new trial this old faith in nature, and in the genius of the unassisted
workman, who gathered out of nature the materials he needed. I am
entirely glad, therefore, that you have decided on engraving for
publication one of O’Shea’s capitals;[131] it will be a complete type of
the whole work, in its inner meaning, and far better to show one of them
in its completeness than to give any reduced sketch of the building.
Nevertheless, beautiful as that capital is, and as all the rest of
O’Shea’s work is likely to be, it is not yet perfect Gothic sculpture;
and it might give rise to dangerous error, if the admiration given to
these carvings were unqualified.

I cannot, of course, enter in this letter into any discussion of the
question, more and more vexed among us daily, respecting the due meaning
and scope of conventionalism in treatment of natural form; but I may
state briefly what, I trust, will be the conclusion to which all this
“vexing” will at last lead our best architects.

The highest art in all kinds is that which conveys the most truth; and
the best ornamentation possible would be the painting of interior walls
with frescos by Titian, representing perfect Humanity in color; and the
sculpture of exterior walls by Phidias, representing perfect Humanity in
form. Titian and Phidias are precisely alike in their conception and
treatment of nature--everlasting standards of the right.

_Beneath_ ornamentation, such as men like these could bestow, falls in
various rank, according to its subordination to vulgar uses or inferior
places, what is commonly conceived as ornamental art. The lower its
office, and the less tractable its material, the less of nature it
should contain, until a zigzag

[Illustration: BRITISH FERNS.]

becomes the best ornament for the hem of a robe, and a mosaic of bits of
glass the best design for a colored window. But all these forms of lower
art are to be conventional only because they are subordinate--not
because conventionalism is in itself a good or desirable thing. All
right conventionalism is a wise acceptance of, and compliance with,
conditions of restraint or inferiority: it may be inferiority of our
knowledge or power, as in the art of a semi-savage nation; or restraint
by reason of material, as in the way the glass painter should restrict
himself to transparent hue, and a sculptor deny himself the eyelash and
the film of flowing hair, which he cannot cut in marble: but in all
cases whatever, right conventionalism is either a wise acceptance of an
inferior place, or a noble display of power under accepted limitation;
it is _not_ an improvement of natural form into something better or
purer than Nature herself.

Now this great and most precious principle may be compromised in two
quite opposite ways. It is compromised on one side when men suppose that
the degradation of a natural form which fits it for some subordinate
place is an improvement of it; and that a black profile on a red ground,
because it is proper on a water-jug, is therefore an idealization of
Humanity, and nobler art than a picture of Titian. And it is compromised
equally gravely on the opposite side, when men refuse to submit to the
limitation of material and the fitnesses of office--when they try to
produce finished pictures in colored glass, or substitute the
inconsiderate imitation of natural objects for the perfectness of
adapted and disciplined design.

There is a tendency in the work of the Oxford Museum to err on this last
side; unavoidable, indeed, in the present state of our art-knowledge--and
less to be regretted in a building devoted to natural science than in
any other: nevertheless, I cannot close this letter without pointing it
out, and warning the general reader against supposing that the
ornamentation of the Museum is, or can be as yet, a representation of
what Gothic work will be, when its revival is complete. Far more severe,
yet more perfect and lovely, that work will involve, under sterner
conventional restraint, the expression not only of

[Illustration: From “The Oxford Museum.” p. 89.]

natural form, but of all vital and noble natural law. For the truth of
decoration is never to be measured by its imitative power, but by its
suggestive and informative power. In the annexed spandril of the
iron-work of our roof, for instance, the horse-chestnut leaf and nut are
used as the principal elements of form: they are not ill-arranged, and
produce a more agreeable effect than convolutions of the iron could
have given, unhelped by any reference to natural objects. Nevertheless,
I do not call it an absolutely good design; for it would have been
possible, with far severer conventional treatment of the iron bars, and
stronger constructive arrangement of them, to have given vigorous
expression, not of the shapes of leaves and nuts only, but of their
peculiar radiant or fanned expansion, and other conditions of group and
growth in the tree; which would have been just the more beautiful and
interesting, as they would have arisen from deeper research into nature,
and more adaptive modifying power in the designer’s mind, than the mere
leaf termination of a riveted scroll.

I am compelled to name these deficiencies, in order to prevent
misconception of the principles we are endeavoring to enforce; but I do
not name them as at present to be avoided; or even much to be regretted.
They are not chargeable either on the architect, or on the subordinate
workmen; but only on the system which has for three centuries withheld
all of us from healthy study; and although I doubt not that lovelier and
juster expressions of the Gothic principle will be ultimately aimed at
by us, than any which are possible in the Oxford Museum, its builders
will never lose their claim to our chief gratitude, as the first guides
in a right direction; and the building itself--the first exponent of the
recovered truth--will only be the more venerated the more it is

Believe me, my dear Acland,
Ever affectionately yours,

[From “The Witness” (Edinburgh), September 16, 1857.]


DUNBAR, 14_th September_, 1857.

_To the Editor of “The Witness.”_

MY DEAR SIR: As I was leaving Edinburgh this morning, I heard a report
which gave me more concern than I can easily express, and very
sufficiently spoiled the pleasure of my drive here. If there be no truth
in the said report, of course take no notice of this letter; but if
there be real ground for my fears, I trust you will allow me space in
your columns for a few words on the subject.

The whisper--I hope I may say, the calumny--regarded certain proceedings
which are taking place at the Castle. It was said to be the architect’s
intention to cut down into the brow of the Castle rock, in order to
afford secure foundation for some new buildings.[132]

Now, the Castle rock of Edinburgh is, as far as I know, simply the
noblest in Scotland conveniently approachable by any creatures but
sea-gulls or peewits. Ailsa and the Bass are of course more wonderful;
and, I suppose, in the West Highlands there are masses of crag more wild
and fantastic; but people only go to see these once or twice in their
lives, while the Castle rock has a daily influence in forming the taste,
or kindling the imagination, of every promising youth in Edinburgh. Even
irrespectively of its position, it is a mass of singular importance
among the rocks of Scotland. It is not easy to find among your mountains
a “craig” of so definite a form, and on so magnificent a scale. Among
the central hills of Scotland, from Ben Wyvis to the Lammermuirs, I know
of none comparable to it; while, besides being bold and vast, its bars
of basalt are so nobly arranged, and form a series of curves at once so
majestic and harmonious, from the turf at their base to the roots of the
bastions, that, as long as your artists have that crag to study, I do
not see that they need casts from Michael Angelo, or any one else, to
teach them the laws of composition or the sources of sublimity.

But if you once cut into the brow of it, all is over. Disturb, in any
single point, the simple lines in which the walls now advance and recede
upon the tufted grass of its summit, and you may as well make a quarry
of it at once, and blast away rock, Castle, and all. It admits of some
question whether the changes made in the architecture of your city of
late years are in every case improvements; but very certainly you cannot
improve the architecture of your volcanic crags by any explosive
retouches. And your error will be wholly irremediable. You may restore
Trinity Chapel, or repudiate its restoration, at your pleasure, but
there will be no need to repudiate restoration of the Castle rock. You
cannot re-face nor re-rivet that, nor order another in a “similar
style.” It is a dangerous kind of engraving which you practise on so
large a jewel. But I trust I am wasting my time in writing of this: I
cannot believe the report, nor think that the people of Edinburgh,
usually so proud of their city, are yet so unaware of what constitutes
its chief nobleness, and so utterly careless of the very features of its
scenery, which have been the means of the highest and purest education
to their greatest men, as to allow this rock to be touched. If the works
are confined to the inside of the wall, no harm will be done; but let a
single buttress, or a single cleft, encumber or divide its outer brow,
and there is not a man of sensibility or sense in Edinburgh who will not
blush and grieve for it as long as he lives.

Believe me, my dear Sir, very faithfully yours,

[From “The Witness” (Edinburgh), September 30, 1857.]


PENRITH, 27_th September._

_To the Editor of “The Witness”_

MY DEAR SIR: I see by some remarks in the _Literary Gazette_[133] on the
letter of mine to which you gave a place in your columns of the 16th,
that the design of the proposed additions to Edinburgh Castle is
receiving really serious consideration. Perhaps, therefore, a few words
respecting the popular but usually unprofitable business of
castle-building may be of some interest to your readers. We are often a
little confused in our ideas respecting the nature of a castle--properly
so called. A “castle” is a fortified dwelling-house containing
accommodation for as many retainers as are needed completely to defend
its position. A “fortress” is a fortified military position, generally
understood to be extensive enough to contain large bodies of troops. And
a “citadel,” a fortified military position connected with a fortified
town, and capable of holding out even if the town were taken.

It is as well to be clear on these points: for certain conditions of
architecture are applicable and beautiful in each case, according to the
use and character of the building; and certain other conditions are in
like manner inapplicable and ugly, because contrary to its character,
and unhelpful to its use.

Now this helpfulness and unhelpfulness in architectural features
depends, of course, primarily on the military practice of the time; so
that forms which were grand, because rational, before gunpowder was
invented, are ignoble, because ridiculous, in days of shell and shot.
The very idea and possibility of the castle proper have passed away with
the arms of the middle ages. A man’s house might be defended by his
servants against a troop of cavalry, if its doors were solid and its
battlements pierced. But it cannot be defended against a couple of
field-pieces, whatever the thickness of its oak, or number of its

I regret, as much as any one can regret, the loss of castellated
architecture properly so called. Nothing can be more noble or
interesting than the true thirteenth or fourteenth century castle, when
built in a difficult position, its builder taking advantage of every
inch of ground to gain more room, and of every irregularity of surface
for purposes of outlook and defence; so that the castle _sate_ its rock
as a strong rider sits his horse--fitting its limbs to every writhe of
the flint beneath it; and fringing the mountain promontory far into the
sky with the wild crests of its fantastic battlements. Of such castles
we can see no more; and it is just because I know them well and love
them deeply that I say so. I know that their power and dignity consists,
just as a soldier’s consists, in their knowing and doing their work
thoroughly; in their being advanced on edge or lifted on peak of crag,
not for show nor pride, but for due guard and outlook; and that all
their beautiful irregularities and apparent caprices of form are in
reality their fulfilments of need, made beautiful by their compelled
association with the wild strength and grace of the natural rock. All
attempts to imitate them now are useless--mere girl’s play. Mind, I like
girl’s play, and child’s play, in its place, but not in the planning of
military buildings. Child’s play in many cases is the truest wisdom. I
accept to the full the truth of those verses of Wordsworth’s[134]

    “Who fancied what a pretty sight
     This rock would be, if edged around
     With living snowdrops?--circlet bright!
     How glorious to this orchard ground!
     Was it the humor of a child?” etc.

But I cannot apply the same principles to more serious matters, and vary
the reading of the verses into application to the works on Edinburgh
Castle, thus:

    “Who fancied what a pretty sight
     This rock would be, if edged around
     With tiny turrets, pierced and light,
     How glorious to this warlike ground!”

Therefore, though I do not know exactly what you have got to do in
Edinburgh Castle, whatever it may be, I am certain the only right way to
do it is the _plain_ way. Build what is needed--chapel, barracks, or
dwelling-house--in the best places, in a military point of view, of dark
stone, and bomb-proof, keeping them low, and within the existing line of
ramparts. That is the rational thing to do; and the inhabitants of
Edinburgh will find it in the end the picturesque thing. It would be so
under any circumstances; but it is especially so in this instance; for
the grandeur of Edinburgh Castle depends eminently on the great,
unbroken, yet beautifully varied parabolic curve in which it descends
from the Round Tower on the Castle Hill to the terminating piece of
impendent precipice on the north. It is the last grand feature of
Edinburgh left as yet uninjured. You have filled up your valley with a
large chimney, a mound, and an Institution; broken in upon the Old Town
with a Bank, a College, and several fires; dwarfed the whole of Princes
Street by the Scott Monument; and cut Arthur’s Seat in half by the
Queen’s Drive. It only remains for you to spoil the curve of your
Castle, and your illustrations of the artistic principle of breadth will
be complete.

It may appear at first that I depart from the rule of usefulness I have
proposed, in entreating for the confinement of all buildings undertaken
within the existing ramparts, in order to preserve the contour of the
outside rock. But I presume that in the present state of military
science, and of European politics, Edinburgh Castle is not a very
important military position; and that to make it a serviceable fortress
or citadel, many additional works would be required, seriously
interfering with the convenience of the inhabitants of the New Town, and
with the arrangements of the Railroad Company. And, as long as these
subordinate works are not carried out, I do not see any use in
destroying your beautiful rock, merely to bring another gun to bear, or
give accommodation to another company. But I both see, and would
earnestly endeavor to advocate, the propriety of keeping the
architecture of the building within those ramparts masculine and simple
in style, and of not allowing a mistaken conception of picturesqueness
to make a noble fortress look like a child’s toy.

Believe me, my dear Sir, very faithfully yours,

[From “The Daily Telegraph,” December 22, 1871.]


_To the Editor of “The Daily Telegraph.”_

SIR: I was astonished the other day by your article on taverns, but
never yet in my life was so much astonished by anything in print as by
your to-day’s article on castles.[135]

I am a castle-lover of the truest sort. I do not suppose any man alive
has felt anything like the sorrow or anger with which I have watched the
modern destruction by railroad and manufacture, helped by the wicked
improvidence of our great families, of half the national memorials of
England, either actually or in effect and power of association--as
Conway, for instance, now vibrating to ruin over a railroad station. For
Warwick Castle, I named it in my letter of last October, in “Fors
Clavigera,”[136] as a type of the architectural treasures of this
England of ours known to me and beloved from childhood to this hour.

But, Sir, I am at this hour endeavoring to find work and food for a boy
of seventeen, one of eight people--two married couples, a woman and her
daughter, and this boy and his sister--who all sleep together in one
room, some 18 ft. square, in the heart of London; and you call upon me
for a subscription to help to rebuild Warwick Castle.

Sir, I am an old and thoroughbred Tory, and as such I say, “If a noble
family cannot rebuild their own castle, in God’s name let them live in
the nearest ditch till they can.”

I am, Sir, your faithful servant,

DENMARK HILL, _Dec._ 20.

[From “The Daily Telegraph,” December 25, 1871.]


_To the Editor of “The Daily Telegraph.”_

SIR: Of lodging for poor and rich you will perhaps permit a further word
or two from me, even in your close columns for Christmas morning. You
think me inconsistent because I wanted to buy Verona, and do not want to
restore Warwick.[137]

I wanted, and still want, to buy Verona. I would give half my fortune to
buy it for England, if any other people would help me. But I would buy
it, that what is left of it might not be burned, and what is lost of it
_not_ restored. It would indeed be very pleasant--not to me only, but to
many other sorrowful persons--if things _could_ be restored when we
chose. I would subscribe willingly to restore, for instance, the manger
wherein the King of Judah lay cradled this day some years since, and
not unwillingly to restore the poorer cradle of our English King-maker,
were it possible. But for the making of a new manger, to be exhibited
for the edification of the religious British public, I will not
subscribe. No; nor for the building of mock castles, or mock cathedrals,
or mocks of anything. And the sum of what I have to say in this present
matter may be put in few words.

As an antiquary--which, thank Heaven, I am--I say, “Part of Warwick
Castle is burnt--’tis pity. Take better care of the rest.”

As an old Tory--which, thank Heaven, I am--I say, “Lord Warwick’s house
is burned. Let Lord Warwick build a better if he can--a worse if he
must; but in any case, let him neither beg nor borrow.”

As a modern renovator and Liberal--which, thank Heaven, I am not--I
would say, “By all means let the public subscribe to build a
spick-and-span new Warwick Castle, and let the pictures be touched up,
and exhibited by gaslight; let the family live in the back rooms, and
let there be a _table d’hôte_ in the great hall at two and six every
day, 2_s._ 6_d._ a head, and let us have Guy’s bowl for a dinner bell.”

I am, Sir, your faithful servant,

DENMARK HILL, S.E., 24_th_ (for 25_th_) _December._

[From “The Daily Telegraph,” January 19, 1871.]


_To the Editor of “The Daily Telegraph.”_

SIR: It may perhaps be interesting to some of your readers, in the
present posture of affairs round Paris, to know, as far as I am able to
tell them, the rank which the Church of Notre Dame holds among
architectural and historical monuments.

Nearly every great church in France has some merit special to itself;
in other countries, one style is common to many districts; in France,
nearly every province has its unique and precious monument.

But of thirteenth-century Gothic--the most perfect architectural style
north of the Alps--there is, both in historical interest, and in
accomplished perfectness of art, one _unique_ monument--the Sainte
Chapelle of Paris.

As examples of Gothic, ranging from the twelfth to the fourteenth
century, the cathedrals of Chartres, Rouen, Amiens, Rheims, and Bourges,
form a kind of cinque-foil round Notre Dame of Paris, of which it is
impossible to say which is the more precious petal; but any of those
leaves would be worth a complete rose of any other country’s work except
Italy’s. Nothing else in art, on the surface of the round earth, could
represent any one of them, if destroyed, or be named as of any
equivalent value.

Central among these, as in position, so in its school of sculpture;
unequalled in that specialty but by the porch of the north transept of
Rouen, and, in a somewhat latter school, by the western porches of
Bourges; absolutely unreplaceable as a pure and lovely source of art
instruction by any future energy or ingenuity, stands--perhaps, this
morning, I ought rather to write, stood[138]--Notre Dame of Paris.

I am, Sir, your faithful servant,

[From “The Pall Mall Gazette,” March 16, 1872.]


_To the Editor of “The Pall Mall Gazette.”_

SIR: I receive many letters just now requesting me to take notice of the
new theory respecting Turner’s work put forward by Dr. Liebreich in his
recent lecture at the Royal Institution.[139] Will you permit me to
observe in your columns, once for all, that I have no time for the
contradiction of the various foolish opinions and assertions which from
time to time are put forward respecting Turner or his pictures? All that
is necessary for any person generally interested in the arts to know
about Turner was clearly stated in “Modern Painters” twenty years ago,
and I do not mean to state it again, nor to contradict any
contradictions of it. Dr. Liebreich is an ingenious and zealous
scientific person. The public may derive much benefit from consulting
him on the subject of spectacles--not on that of art.

As I am under the necessity of writing to you at any rate, may I say
further that I wish your critic of Mr. Eastlake’s book[140] on the
Gothic revival would explain what he means by saying that my direct
influence on architecture is always wrong, and my indirect influence
right; because, if that be so, I will try to exercise only indirect
influence on my Oxford pupils. But the fact to my own notion is
otherwise. I am proud enough to hope, for instance, that I have had some
direct influence on Mr. Street; and I do not doubt but that the public
will have more satisfaction from his Law Courts[141] than they have had
from anything built within fifty years. But I have had indirect
influence on nearly every cheap villa-builder between this[142] and
Bromley; and there is scarcely a public-house near the Crystal Palace
but sells its gin and bitters under pseudo-Venetian capitals copied from
the Church of the Madonna of Health or of Miracles. And one of my
principal notions for leaving my present house is that it is surrounded
everywhere by the accursed Frankenstein monsters of, _in_directly, my
own making.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

_March_ 15.

[From “The Pall Mall Gazette,” March 21, 1872.]


_To the Editor of “The Pall Mall Gazette.”_

SIR: I am obliged by your critic’s reply to my question, but beg to
observe that, meaning what he explains himself to have meant, he should
simply have said that my influence on temper was right, and on taste
wrong; the influence being in both cases equally “direct.” On questions
of taste I will not venture into discussion with him, but must be
permitted to correct his statement that I have persuaded any one to
prefer Venetian to English Gothic. I have stated that Italian--chiefly
Pisan and Florentine--Gothic is the noblest school of Gothic hitherto
existent, which is true; and that one form of Venetian Gothic deserves
singular respect for the manner of its development. I gave the mouldings
and shaft measurements of that form,[143] and to so little purpose, that
I challenge your critic to find in London, or within twenty miles of it,
a single Venetian casement built on the sections which I gave as normal.
For Venetian architecture developed out of British moral consciousness I
decline to be answerable. His accusation that I induced architects to
study sculpture more, and what he is pleased to call “expressional
character” less, I admit. I should be glad if he would tell me what,
before my baneful influence began to be felt, the expressional character
of our building was; and I will reconsider my principles if he can point
out to me, on any modern building either in London or, as aforesaid,
within twenty miles round, a single piece of good sculpture of which the
architect repents, or the public complains.

I am, Sir, your faithful servant,

_March_ 21.

[From “The Liverpool Daily Post,” June 9, 1877.]


VENICE, 15_th April_, 1877.

MY DEAR SIR: It is impossible for any one to know the horror and
contempt with which I regard modern restoration--but it is so great
that it simply paralyzes me in despair,--and in the sense of such
difference in all thought and feeling between me and the people I live
in the midst of, almost makes it useless for me to talk to them. Of
course all restoration is accursed architect’s jobbery, and will go on
as long as they can get their filthy bread by such business. But things
are worse here than in England: you have little there left to
lose--here, every hour is ruining buildings of inestimable beauty and
historical value--simply to keep stone-lawyers[145] at work. I am
obliged to hide my face from it all, and work at other things, or I
should die of mere indignation and disgust.

Ever truly yours,

[From “The Kidderminster Times,” July 28, 1877.]


_July_ 24, 1877.

_To the Editor of “The Kidderminster Times.”_

SIR: It chanced that, on the morning of the Sunday, when the appearances
of danger in the walls of Ribbesford Church began seriously to manifest
themselves (according to the report in your columns of the 21st
inst.),[146] I was standing outside of the church, listening to the
singing of the last hymn as the sound came through the open door (with
the Archer Knight sculptured above it), and showing to the friend who
had brought me to the lovely place the extreme interest of the old
perpendicular traceries in the freehand working of the apertures.

Permit me to say, with reference to the proposed restoration of the
church, that no modern architect, no mason either, can, or would if they
could, “copy” those traceries. They will assuredly put up with
geometrical models in their place, which will be no more like the old
traceries than a Kensington paper pattern is like a living flower.
Whatever else is added or removed, those traceries should be replaced as
they are, and left in reverence until they moulder away. If they are
already too much decayed to hold the glass safely (which I do not
believe), any framework which may be necessary can be arranged to hold
the casements within them, leaving their bars entirely disengaged, and
merely kept from falling by iron supports. But if these are to be
“copied,” why in the world cannot the congregation pay for a new and
original church, to display the genius and wealth of the nineteenth
century somewhere else, and leave the dear old ruin to grow gray by
Severn side in peace?

I am, Sir, your faithful servant,


_This circular will be given to visitors to the Old Water-color
Society’s Exhibition, Pall Mall East, or on application to the Fine Art
Society,_ 148 _New Bond Street._

My friends have expressed much surprise at my absence from the public
meetings called in defence of St. Mark’s. They cannot, however, be too
clearly certified that I am now entirely unable to take part in exciting
business, or even, without grave danger, to allow my mind to dwell on
the subjects which, having once been dearest to it, are now the sources
of acutest pain. The illness which all but killed me two years ago[148]
was not brought on by overwork, but by grief at the course of public
affairs in England, and of affairs, public and private alike, in Venice;
the distress of many an old and deeply regarded friend there among the
humbler classes of the city being as necessary a consequence of the
modern system of centralization, as the destruction of her ancient civil
and religious buildings.

How far forces of this national momentum may be arrested by protest, or
mollified by petition, I know not; what in either kind I have felt
myself able to do has been done two years since, in conjunction with one
of the few remaining representatives of the old Venetian noblesse.[149]
All that now remains for me is to use what time may be yet granted for
such record as hand and heart can make of the most precious building in
Europe, standing yet in the eyes of men and the sunshine of heaven.

The drawing of the first two arches of the west front, now under threat
of restoration, which, as an honorary member of the Old Water-color
Society, I have the privilege of exhibiting in its rooms this year,
shows with sufficient accuracy the actual state of the building, and the
peculiar qualities of its architecture.[150] The principles of that
architecture are analyzed at length in the second volume of the “Stones
of Venice,” and the whole façade described there with the best care I
could, in hope of directing the attention of English architects to the
forms of Greek sculpture which enrich it.[151] The words have been
occasionally read for the sound of them; and perhaps, when the building
is destroyed, may be some day, with amazement, perceived to have been

In the mean time, the drawing just referred to, every touch of it made
from the building, and left as the color dried in the spring mornings of
1877, will make clear some of the points chiefly insisted on in the
“Stones of Venice,” and which are of yet more importance now.[152] Of
these, the first and main ones are the exquisite delicacy of the work
and perfection of its preservation to this time. It seems to me that the
English visitor never realizes thoroughly what it is that he looks at in
the St. Mark’s porches: its glittering confusion in a style unexampled,
its bright colors, its mingled marbles, produce on him no real
impression of age, and its diminutive size scarcely any of grandeur. It
looks to him almost like a stage scene, got up solidly for some sudden
festa. No mere guide-book’s passing assertion of date--this century or
the other--can in the least make him even conceive, and far less feel,
that he is actually standing before the very shafts and stones that were
set on their foundations here while Harold the Saxon stood by the grave
of the Confessor under the fresh-raised vaults of the first Norman
Westminster Abbey, of which now a single arch only remains standing. He
cannot, by any effort, imagine that those exquisite and lace-like
sculptures of twined acanthus--every leaf-edge as sharp and fine as if
they were green weeds fresh springing in the dew, by the
Pan-droseion[153]--were, indeed, cut and finished to their perfect grace
while the Norman axes were hewing out rough zigzags and dentils round
the aisles of Durham and Lindisfarne. Or nearer, in what is left of our
own Canterbury--it is but an hour’s journey in pleasant Kent--you may
compare, almost as if you looked from one to the other, the grim
grotesque of the block capitals in the crypt with the foliage of these
flexile ones, and with their marble doves--scarcely distinguishable
from the living birds that nestle between them. Or, going down two
centuries (for the fillings of the portico arches were not completed
till after 1204), what thirteenth-century work among our gray limestone
walls can be thought of as wrought in the same hour with that wreath of
intertwined white marble, relieved by gold, of which the tenderest and
sharpest lines of the pencil cannot finely enough express the surfaces
and undulations? For indeed, without and within, St. Mark’s is not, in
the real nature of it, a piece of architecture, but a jewelled casket
and painted reliquary, chief of the treasures in what were once the
world’s treasuries of sacred things, the kingdoms of Christendom.

A jewelled casket, every jewel of which was itself sacred. Not a slab of
it, nor a shaft, but has been brought from the churches descendants of
the great Seven of Asia, or from the Christian-Greek of Corinth, Crete,
and Thrace, or the Christian-Israelite in Palestine--the central
archivolt copied from that of the church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the
opposing lions or phœnixes of its sculptures from the treasury of
Atreus and the citadel of Tyre.

Thus, beyond all measure of value as a treasury of art, it is also,
beyond all other volumes, venerable as a codex of religion. Just as the
white foliage and birds on their golden ground are descendants, in
direct line, from the ivory and gold of Phidias, so the Greek pictures
and inscriptions, whether in mosaic or sculpture, throughout the
building, record the unbroken unity of spiritual influence from the
Father of light--or the races whose own poets had said “We also are his
offspring”--down to the day when all their gods, not slain, but changed
into new creatures, became the types to them of the mightier Christian
spirits; and Perseus became St. George, and Mars St. Michael, and Athena
the Madonna, and Zeus their revealed Father in Heaven.

In all the history of human mind, there is nothing so wonderful, nothing
so eventful, as this spiritual change. So inextricably is it interwoven
with the most divine, the most distant threads of human thought and
effort, that while none of the thoughts of St. Paul or the visions of
St. John, can be understood without our understanding first the imagery
familiar to the Pagan worship of the Greeks; on the other hand, no
understanding of the real purport of Greek religion can be securely
reached without watching the translation of its myths into the message
of Christianity.

Both by the natural temper of my mind, and by the labor of forty years
given to this subject in its practical issues on the present state[154]
of Christendom, I have become, in some measure, able both to show and to
interpret these most precious sculptures; and my health has been so far
given back to me that if I am at this moment aided, it will, so far as I
can judge, be easily possible for me to complete the work so long in
preparation. There will yet, I doubt not, be time to obtain perfect
record of all that is to be destroyed. I have entirely honest and able
draughtsmen at my command; my own resignation[155] of my Oxford
Professorship has given me leisure; and all that I want from the
antiquarian sympathy of England is so much instant help as may permit
me, while yet in available vigor of body and mind, to get the records
made under my own overseership, and registered for sufficient and true.
The casts and drawings which I mean to have made will be preserved in a
consistent series in my Museum at Sheffield, where I have freehold
ground enough to build a perfectly lighted gallery for their reception.
I have used the words “I want,” as if praying this thing for myself. It
is not so. If only some other person could and would undertake all this,
Heaven knows how gladly I would leave the task to him. But there is no
one else at present able to do it: if not now by me, it can never be
done more.--And so I leave it to the reader’s grace.


All subscriptions to be sent to Mr. G. Allen, Sunnyside, Orpington,


By the kindness of the Society of Painters in Water-colors I am
permitted this year, in view of the crisis of the fate of the façade of
St. Mark’s, to place in the exhibition-room of the Society ten
photographs, illustrative of its past and present state. I have already
made use of them, both in my lectures at Oxford and in the parts of
_Fors Clavigera_ intended for Art-teaching at my Sheffield Museum; and
all but the eighth are obtainable from my assistant, Mr. Ward (2 Church
Terrace, Richmond), who is my general agent for photographs, either
taken under my direction (as here, Nos. 4, 9, and 10), or specially
chosen by me for purposes of Art Education. The series of views here
shown are all perfectly taken, with great clearness, from the most
important points, and give, consecutively, complete evidence respecting
the façade.

They are arranged in the following order:

   1. THE CENTRAL PORCH.             }
   2. THE TWO NORTHERN PORCHES.      }  _Arranged in one_
   3. THE TWO SOUTHERN PORCHES.      }     _frame._
   5. THE SOUTHERN PORTICO. _Before restoration._
   6. THE WEST FRONT, IN PERSPECTIVE. _Seen from the North._
   7. THE WEST FRONT, IN PERSPECTIVE. _Seen from the South._
   8. THE SOUTH SIDE. _Before restoration._

This last photograph is not of St. Mark’s but is of the inscription
which I discovered, in 1877, on the Church of St. James of the Rialto.
It is of the 9th or 10th century (according to the best antiquarians of
Venice), and is given in this series, first, to confirm the closing
paragraph in my notes on the Prout drawings in Bond Street;[157] and
secondly to show the perfect preservation even of the hair-strokes in
letters carved in the Istrian marble used at Venice a thousand years
ago. The inscription on the cross is--

          “Sit crux vera salus huic tua Christe loco.”
    (Be Thy Cross, O Christ, the true safety of this place.)

And on the band beneath--

      “Hoc circa templum sit jus mercantibus æquum,
      Pondera nec vergant nec sit conventio prava.”
    (Around this temple let the merchants’ law be just,
    Their weights true, and their contracts fair.)

The bearing of this inscription on the relations of Antonio to Shylock
may perhaps not be perceived by a public which now--consistently and
naturally enough, but ominously--considers Shylock a victim to the
support of the principles of legitimate trade, and Antonio a “speculator
and sentimentalist.” From the series of photographs of St. Mark’s
itself, I cannot but think even the least attentive observer must
receive one strong impression--that of the singular preservation of the
minutest details in its sculpture. Observe, this is a quite separate
question from the _stability_ of the fabric. In our northern cathedrals
the stone, for the most part, moulders away; and the restorer usually
replaces it by fresh sculpture, on the faces of walls of which the mass
is perfectly secure. Here, at St. Mark’s, on the contrary, the only
possible pretence for restoration has been, and is, the alleged
insecurity of the masses of inner wall--the external sculptures
remaining in faultless perfection, so far as unaffected by direct human
violence. Both the Greek and Istrian marbles used at Venice are
absolutely defiant of hypæthral influences, and the edges of their
delicatest sculpture remain to this day more sharp than if they had been
cut in steel--for then they would have rusted away. It is especially,
for example, of this quality that I have painted the ornament of the St.
Jean d’Acre pillars, No. 107, which the reader may at once compare with
the daguerreotype (No. 108) beside it, which are exhibited, with the
Prout and Hunt drawings, at the Fine Art Society’s rooms.[158] These
pillars are known to be not later than the sixth century, yet wherever
external violence has spared their decoration it is sharp as a
fresh-growing thistle. Throughout the whole façade of St. Mark’s, the
capitals have only here and there by casualty lost so much as a volute
or an acanthus leaf, and whatever remains is perfect as on the day it
was set in its place, mellowed and subdued only in color by time, but
white still, clearly white; and gray, still softly gray; its porphyry
purple as an Orleans plum, and the serpentine as green as a greengage.
Note also, that in this throughout perfect decorated surface there is
not a loose joint. The appearances of dislocation, which here and there
look like yielding of masonry, are merely carelessness in the replacing
or resetting of the marble armor at the different times when the front
has been retouched--in several cases quite wilful freaks of arrangement.
The slope of the porphyry shaft, for instance, on the angle at the left
of my drawing, looks like dilapidation. Were it really so, the building
would be a heap of ruins in twenty-four hours. These porches sustain no
weight above--their pillars carry merely an open gallery; and the
inclination of the red marble pilasters at the angle is not yielding at
all, but an originally capricious adjustment of the marble armor. It
will be seen that the investing marbles between the arch and pilaster
are cut to the intended inclination, which brings the latter nearly into
contact with the upper archivolt; the appearance of actual contact being
caused by the projection of the dripstone. There are, indeed, one or two
leaning towers in Venice whose foundations have partly yielded; but if
_anything_ were in danger on St. Mark’s Place, it would be the
campanile--three hundred feet high--and not the little shafts and
galleries within reach--too easy reach--of the gaslighter’s ladder. And
the only dilapidations I have myself seen on this porch, since I first
drew it forty-six years ago, have been, first, those caused by the
insertion of the lamps themselves, and then the breaking away of the
marble net work of the main capital by the habitual clattering of the
said gaslighter’s ladder against it. A piece of it which I saw so broken
off, and made an oration over to the passers-by in no less broken
Italian, is in my mineral cabinet at Brantwood.

Before leaving this subject of the inclined angle, let me
note--usefully, though not to my present purpose--that the entire beauty
of St. Mark’s campanile depends on this structure, there definitely seen
to be one of real safety. This grace and apparent strength of the whole
mass would be destroyed if the sides of it were made vertical. In Gothic
towers, the same effect is obtained by the retiring of the angle
buttresses, without actual inclination of any but the coping lines.

In the Photograph No. 5 the slope of the angles in the correspondent
portico, as it stood before restoration, is easily visible and
measurable, the difference being, even on so small a scale, full the
twentieth of an inch between the breadth at base and top, at the angles,
while the lines bearing the inner arch are perfectly vertical.

There was, indeed, as will be seen at a glance, some displacement of the
pillars dividing the great window above, immediately to the right of the
portico. But these pillars were exactly the part of the south front
which carried no weight. The arch above them is burdened only by its own
fringes of sculpture; and the pillars carried only the bit of decorated
panelling, which is now bent--not outwards, as it would have been by
pressure, but inwards. The arch has not subsided; it was always of the
same height as the one to the right of it (the Byzantine builders
throwing their arches always in whatever lines they chose); nor is there
a single crack or displacement in the sculpture of the investing fringe.

In No. 3 (to the right hand in the frame) there is dilapidation and
danger enough certainly; but that is wholly caused by the savage and
brutal carelessness with which the restored parts are joined to the old.
The photograph bears deadly and perpetual witness against the system of
“making work,” too well known now among English as well as Italian
operatives; but it bears witness, as deadly, against the alleged
accuracy of the restoration itself. The ancient dentils are bold, broad,
and cut with the free hand, as all good Greek work is; the new ones,
little more than half their size, are cut with the servile and horrible
rigidity of the modern mechanic.

This quality is what M. Meduna, in the passage quoted from his defence
of himself[159] in the _Standard_, has at once the dulness and the
audacity actually to boast of as “_plus exacte_”!

Imagine a Kensington student set to copy a picture by Velasquez, and
substituting a Nottingham lace pattern, traced with absolute exactness,
for the painter’s sparkle and flow and flame, and boasting of his
improvements as “_plus exacte_”! That is precisely what the Italian
restorer does for _his_ original; but, alas! he has the inestimable
privilege also of destroying the original as he works, and putting his
student’s caricature in its place! Nor are any words bitter or
contemptuous enough to describe the bestial stupidities which have thus
already replaced the floor of the church, in my early days the loveliest
in Italy, and the most sacred.

In the Photograph No. 7 there is, and there only, _one_ piece of real
dilapidation--the nodding pinnacle propped on the right. Those pinnacles
stand over the roof gutters, and their bracket supports are, of course,
liable to displacement, if the gutters get choked by frost or otherwise
neglected. The pinnacle is not ten feet high, and can be replaced and
secured as easily as the cowl on a chimney-pot. The timbers underneath
were left there merely to give the wished-for appearance of repairs
going on. They defaced the church front through the whole winter of
1876. I copied the bills stuck on them one Sunday, and they are printed
in the 78th number of _Fors Clavigera_, the first being the announcement
of the Reunited agencies for information on all matters of commercial
enterprise and speculation, and the last the announcement of the loss of
a cinnamon-colored little bitch, with rather long ears (_coll’ orecchie
piùtosto lunghe_). I waited through the winter to see how much the
Venetians really cared for the look of their church; but lodged a formal
remonstrance in March with one of the more reasonable civic authorities,
who presently had them removed. The remonstrance ought, of course, to
have come from the clergy; but they contented themselves with cutting
flower-wreaths on paper to hang over the central door at Christmas-time.
For the rest, the pretence of rottenness in the walls is really too
gross to be answered. There are brick buildings in Italy by tens of
thousands, Roman, Lombardic, Gothic, on all scales and in all exposures.
Which of them has rotted or fallen, but by violence? Shall the tower of
Garisenda stand, and the Campanile of Verona, and the tower of St.
Mark’s, and, forsooth, this little fifty feet of unweighted wall be
rotten and dangerous?

Much more I could say, and show; but the certainty of the ruin of poor
Bedlamite Venice is in her own evil will, and not to be averted by any
human help or pleading. Her _Sabba delle streghe_ has truly come; and in
her own words (see _Fors_, letter 77th): “Finalmente la Piazza di S.
Marco sarà invasa e completamente illuminata dalle Fiamme di Belzebù.
Perchè il _Sabba_ possa riuscire più completo, si raccomanda a tutti gli
spettatori di fischiare durante le fiamme come anime dannate.”

Meantime, in what Saturday pause may be before this Witches’ Sabbath, if
I have, indeed, any English friends, let them now help me, and my
fellow-workers, to get such casts, and colorings, and measurings, as may
be of use in time to come. I am not used to the begging tone, and will
not say more than that what is given me will go in mere daily bread to
the workers, and that next year, if I live, there shall be some
exposition of what we have got done, with the best account I can render
of its parts and pieces. Fragmentary enough they must be,--poor fallen
plumes of the winged lion’s wings,--yet I think I can plume a true shaft
or two with them yet.

     Some copies of the second edition of this circular had printed at
     the top of its last and otherwise blank page the words, “_Present
     State of Subscription Lists:--_,” a printer’s error, mistaken by
     some readers for a piece of dry humor.

     Subscriptions were collected by Mr. G. Allen, as above intimated,
     and also by Mr. F. W. Pullen, secretary to the Ruskin Society of
     Manchester, under the authority of the following letter, which was
     printed and distributed by him: “_November_ 29, 1879.--DEAR MR.
     PULLEN: I am very glad to have your most satisfactory letter, and
     as gladly give you authority to receive subscriptions for drawings
     and sculptures of St. Mark’s. Mr. Bunney’s large painting of the
     whole west façade, ordered by me a year and a half ago, and in
     steady progress ever since, is to be completed this spring. It was
     a £500 commission for the Guild, but I don’t want to have to pay it
     with Guild capital. I have the power of getting casts, also, in
     places where nobody else can, and have now energy enough to give
     directions, but can no more pay for them out of my own pocket. Ever
     gratefully yours, J. R. As a formal authority, this had better have
     my full signature--JOHN RUSKIN.” In a further letter to Manchester
     on the subject, Mr. Ruskin wrote as follows: “It is wholly
     impossible for me at present to take any part in the defence--at
     last, though far too late--undertaken by the true artists and
     scholars of England--of the most precious Christian building in
     Europe; ... nor is there any occasion that I should, if only those
     who care for me will refer to what I have already written, and will
     accept from me the full ratification of all that was said by the
     various speakers, all without exception men of the most accurate
     judgment and true feeling, at the meeting held in Oxford. All that
     I think it necessary for you to lay, directly from myself, before
     the meeting you are about to hold, is the explicit statement of two
     facts of which I am more distinctly cognizant from my long
     residences in Italy at different periods, and in Venice during
     these last years, than any other person can be--namely, the
     Infidel--(malignantly and scornfully Infidel and anti-religionist)
     aim of Italian ‘restoration’--and the totality of the destruction
     it involves, of whatever it touches.” So again, in a second and
     despairing letter, he wrote: “You cannot be too strongly assured of
     the total destruction involved, in the restoration of St.
     Mark’s.... Then the plague of it all is, What can you do? Nothing
     would be effectual, but the appointment of a Procurator of St.
     Mark’s, with an enormous salary, dependent on the Church’s being
     let alone. What you can do by a meeting at Manchester, I have no
     notion. The only really practical thing that I can think of would
     be sending me lots of money to spend in getting all the drawings I
     can of the old thing before it goes. I don’t believe we can save it
     by any protests.” See the _Birmingham Daily Mail_, Nov. 27, 1879.
     The reader is also referred to “Fors Clavigera,” New Series, Letter
     the Fourth, pp. 125-6.

     The meeting in Oxford alluded to above was held in the Sheldonian
     Theatre on November 15, 1879. Amongst the principal speakers were
     the Dean of Christ Church (in the chair), Dr. Acland, the Professor
     of Fine Art (Mr. W. B. Richmond), Mr. Street, Mr. William Morris,
     and Mr. Burne Jones.




    ENGLISH _versus_ ALPINE GEOLOGY. 1864.



    ON THE GENTIAN. 1857.



[From “The Reader,” November 12, 1864.]


DENMARK HILL, 10_th November_, 1864.

My attention has but now been directed to the letters in your October
numbers on the subject of the forms of the Alps.[160] I have, perhaps,
some claim to be heard on this question, having spent, out of a somewhat
busy life, eleven summers and two winters (the winter work being
especially useful, owing to the definition of inaccessible ledges of
strata by new-fallen snow) in researches among the Alps, directed solely
to the questions of their external form and its mechanical causes; while
I left to other geologists the more disputable and difficult problems of
relative ages of beds.

I say “more disputable” because, however complex the phases of
mechanical action, its general nature admits, among the Alps, of no
question. The forms of the Alps are quite _visibly_ owing to the action
(how gradual or prolonged cannot yet be determined) of elevatory,
contractile, and expansive forces, followed by that of currents of water
at various temperatures, and of prolonged disintegration--ice having had
small share in modifying even the higher ridges, and none in causing or
forming the valleys.

The reason of the extreme difficulty in tracing the combination of these
several operative causes in any given instance, is that the effective
and destructive drainage by no means follows the leading fissures, but
tells fearfully on the softer rocks, sweeping away inconceivable volumes
of these, while fissures or faults in the harder rocks of quite primal
structural importance may be little deepened or widened, often even
unindicated, by subsequent aqueous action. I have, however, described at
some length the commonest structural and sculptural phenomena in the
fourth volume of “Modern Painters,” and I gave a general sketch of the
subject last year in my lecture[161] at the Royal Institution (fully
reported in the _Journal de Genève_ of 2d September, 1863), but I have
not yet thrown together the mass of material in my possession, because
our leading chemists are only now on the point of obtaining some data
for the analysis of the most important of all forces--that of the
consolidation and crystallization of the metamorphic rocks, causing them
to alter their bulk and exercise irresistible and irregular pressures on
neighboring or incumbent beds.

But, even on existing data, the idea of the excavation of valleys by ice
has become one of quite ludicrous untenableness. At this moment, the
principal glacier in Chamouni pours itself down a slope of twenty
degrees or more over a rock two thousand feet in vertical height; and
just at the bottom of this ice-cataract, where a water-cataract of equal
power would have excavated an almost fathomless pool, the ice simply
accumulates a heap of stones, on the top of which it rests.

The lakes of any hill country lie in what are the isolated lowest (as
its summits are the isolated highest) portions of its broken surface,
and ice no more engraves the one than it builds the other. But how these
hollows were indeed first dug, we know as yet no more than how the
Atlantic was dug; and the hasty expression by geologists of their
fancies in such matters cannot be too much deprecated, because it
deprives their science of the respect really due to it in the minds of a
large portion of the public, who know, and _can_ know, nothing of its
established principles, while they can easily detect its speculative
vanity. There is plenty of work for us all to do, without losing time in
speculation; and when we have got good sections across the entire chain
of the Alps, at intervals of twenty miles apart, from Nice to Innspruch,
and exhaustive maps and sections of the lake-basins of Lucerne, Annecy,
Como, and Garda, we shall have won the leisure, and may assume the
right, to try our wits on the formative question.

J. RUSKIN.[162]

[From “The Reader,” November 26, 1864.]


DENMARK HILL, _November_ 21.

I am obliged to your Scottish correspondent for the courtesy with which
he expresses himself towards me; and, as his letter refers to several
points still (to my no little surprise) in dispute among geologists, you
will perhaps allow me to occupy, in reply, somewhat more of your
valuable space than I had intended to ask for.

I say “to my no little surprise,” because the great principles of
glacial action have been so clearly stated by their discoverer, Forbes,
and its minor phenomena (though in an envious temper, which, by its
bitterness, as a pillar of salt, has become the sorrowful monument of
the discovery it denies)[163] so carefully described by Agassiz, that I
never thought there would be occasion for much talk on the subject
henceforward. As much as seems now necessary to be said I will say as
briefly as I can.

What a river carries fast at the bottom of it, a glacier carries slowly
at the top of it. This is the main distinction between their agencies. A
piece of rock which, falling into a strong torrent, would be perhaps
swept down half a mile in twenty minutes, delivering blows on the rocks
at the bottom audible like distant heavy cannon,[164] and at last dashed
into fragments, which in a little while will be rounded pebbles (having
done enough damage to everything it has touched in its course)--this
same rock, I say, falling on a glacier, lies on the top of it, and is
thereon carried down, if at fullest speed, at the rate of three yards in
a week, doing usually damage to nothing at all. That is the primal
difference between the work of water and ice; these further differences,
however, follow from this first one.

Though a glacier never rolls its moraine into pebbles, as a torrent does
its shingle, it torments and teases the said morain very sufficiently,
and without intermission. It is always moving it on, and melting from
under it, and one stone is always toppling, or tilting, or sliding over
another, and one company of stones crashing over another, with
staggering shift of heap behind. Now, leaving out of all account the
pulverulent effect of original precipitation to glacier level from two
or three thousand feet above, let the reader imagine a mass of sharp
granite road-metal and paving-stones, mixed up with boulders of any size
he can think of, and with wreck of softer rocks (micaceous schists in
quantities, usually), the whole, say, half a quarter of a mile wide,
and of variable thickness, from mere skin-deep mock-moraine on mounds of
unsuspected ice--treacherous, shadow-begotten--to a railroad embankment,
_passenger_-embankment, one eternal collapse of unconditional ruin,
rotten to its heart with frost and thaw (in regions on the edge of
each), and withering sun and waste of oozing ice; fancy all this heaved
and shovelled, slowly, by a gang of a thousand Irish laborers, twenty
miles downhill. You will conjecture there may be some dust developed on
the way?--some at the hill bottom? Yet thus you will have but a dim idea
of the daily and final results of the movements of glacier
moraines--beautiful result in granite and slate dust, delivered by the
torrent at last in banks of black and white slime, recovering itself,
far away, into fruitful fields, and level floor for human life.

Now all this is utterly independent of any action whatsoever by the ice
on its sustaining rocks. It _has_ an action on these indeed; but of this
limited nature as compared with that of water. A stone at the bottom of
a stream, or deep-sea current, necessarily and always presses on the
bottom with the weight of the column of water above it--plus the excess
of its own weight above that of a bulk of water equal to its own; but a
stone under a glacier may be hitched or suspended in the ice itself for
long spaces, not touching bottom at all. When dropped at last, the
weight of ice may not come upon it for years, for that weight is only
carried on certain spaces of the rock bed; and in those very spaces the
utmost a stone can do is to press on the bottom with the force necessary
to drive the given stone into ice of a given density (usually porous);
and, with this maximum pressure, to move at the maximum rate of about a
third of an inch in a quarter of an hour! Try to saw a piece of marble
through (with edge of iron, not of soppy ice, for saw, and with sharp
flint sand for felspar slime), and move your saw at the rate of an inch
in three-quarters of an hour, and see what lively and progressive work
you will make of it!

I say “a piece of marble;” but your permanent glacier-bottom is rarely
so soft--for a glacier, though it acts slowly by friction, can act
vigorously by dead-weight on a soft rock, and (with fall previously
provided for it) can clear masses of that out of the way, to some
purpose. There is a notable instance of this in the rock of which your
correspondent speaks, under the Glacier des Bois. His idea, that the
glacier is deep above and thins out below, is a curious instance of the
misconception of glacier nature, from which all that Forbes has done
cannot yet quite clear the public mind, nor even the geological mind. A
glacier never, in a large sense, thins out at all as it expires. It
flows level everywhere for its own part, and never slopes but down a
slope, as a rapid in water. Pour out a pot of the thickest old white
candied, but still fluent, honey you can buy, over a heap of stones,
arranged as you like, to imitate rocks.[165] Whatever the honey does on
a small scale, the glacier does on a large; and you may thus steady the
glacier phenomena of current--though, of course, not those of structure
or fissure--at your ease. But note this specially: When the honey is at
last at rest, in whatever form it has taken, you will see it terminates
in tongues with low rounded edges. The possible height of these edges,
in any fluid, varies as its viscosity; it is some quarter of an inch or
so in water on dry ground; the most fluent ice wall stand at about a
hundred feet. Next, from this outer edge of the stagnant honey,
delicately skim or thin off a little at the top, and see what it will
do. It will not stand in an inclined plane, but fill itself up again to
a level from behind. Glacier ice does exactly the same thing; and this
filling in from behind is done so subtly and delicately, that, every
winter, the whole glacier surface rises to replace the summer’s waste,
not with progressive wave, as “twice a day the Severn fills;” but with
silent, level insurrection, as of ocean-tide, the gray sea-crystal
passes by. And all the structural phenomena of the ice are modified by
this mysterious action.

Your correspondent is also not aware that the Glacier des Bois gives a
very practical and outspoken proof of its shallowness opposite the
Montanvert. Very often its torrent, under wilful touch of
Lucina-sceptre, leaps to the light at the top of the rocks instead of
their base.[166] That fiery Arveron, sometimes, hearing from
reconnoitring streamlets of a nearer way down to the valley than the
rounded ice-curve under the Chapeau, fairly takes bit in teeth, and
flings itself out over the brow of the rocks, and down a ravine in them,
in the wildest cataract of white thunder-clouds (endless in thunder, and
with quiet fragments of rainbow for lightning), that I have ever blinded
myself in the skirts of.

These bare rocks, over which the main river sometimes falls (and
outlying streamlets always) are of firm-grained, massively rounded
gneiss. Above them, I have no doubt, once extended the upper covering of
fibrous and amianthoidal schist, which forms the greater part of the
south-eastern flank of the valley of Chamouni. The schistose gneiss is
continuous in direction of bed, with the harder gneiss below. But the
outer portion is soft, the inner hard, and more granitic. This outer
portion the descending glaciers have always stripped right off down to
the hard gneiss below, and in places, as immediately above the
Montanvert (and elsewhere at the brows of the valley), the beds of
schistose gneiss are crushed and bent outwards in a mass (I believe) by
the weight of the old glacier, for some fifty feet within their surface.
This looks like work; and work of this sort, when it had to be done, the
glaciers were well up to, bearing down such soft masses as a strong man
bends a poplar sapling; but by steady push far more than by friction.
You may bend or break your sapling with bare hands, but try to rub its
bark off with your bare hands!

When once the ice, _with strength always dependent on pre-existent
precipice_, has cleared such obstacles out of its way, and made its bed
to its liking, there is an end to its manifest and effectively
sculptural power. I do not believe the Glacier des Bois has done more
against some of the granite surfaces beneath it, for these four thousand
years, than the drifts of desert sand have done on Sinai. Be that as it
may, its power of excavation on a level is proved, as I showed in my
last letter, to be zero. Your correspondent thinks the glacier power
vanishes towards the extremity; but as long as the ice exists, it has
the same progressive energy, and, indeed, sometimes, with the quite
terminal nose of it, will plough a piece of ground scientifically
enough; but it never digs a hole: the stream always comes from under it
full speed downhill. Now, whatever the dimensions of a glacier, if it
dug a big hole, like the Lake of Geneva, when it was big, it would dig a
little hole when it was little--(not that this is _always_ safe logic,
for a little stone will dig in a glacier, and a large one build; but it
is safe within general limits)--which it never does, nor can, but
subsides gladly into any hole prepared for it in a quite placid manner,
for all its fierce looks.

I find it difficult to stop, for your correspondent, little as he thinks
it, has put me on my own ground. I was _forced_ to write upon Art by an
accident (the public abuse of Turner) when I was two-and-twenty; but I
had written a “Mineralogical Dictionary” as far as C, and invented a
shorthand symbolism for crystalline forms, before I was fourteen: and
have been at stony work ever since, as I could find time, silently, not
caring to speak much till the chemists had given me more help.[167] For,
indeed, I strive, as far as may be, not to speak of anything till I know
it; and in that matter of Political Economy also (though forced in like
manner to write of that by unendurable circumfluent fallacy), I know my
ground; and if your present correspondent, or any other, will meet me
fairly, I will give them uttermost satisfaction upon any point they
doubt. There is free challenge: and in the knight of Snowdoun’s vows
(looking first carefully to see that the rock be not a glacier boulder),

            “This rock shall fly
    From its firm base, as soon as I.”

J. RUSKIN.[168]

[From “The Reader,” December 3, 1864.]


DENMARK HILL, 29_th Nov._

I scarcely know what reply to make, or whether it is necessary to reply
at all, to the letter of Mr. Jukes in your last number. There is no
antagonism between his views and mine, though he seems heartily to
desire that there should be, and with no conceivable motive but to
obtain some appearance of it suppresses the latter half of the sentence
he quotes from my letter.[169] It is true that he writes in willing
ignorance of the Alps, and I in unwilling ignorance of the Wicklow
hills; but the only consequent discrepancy of thought or of impression
between us is, that Mr. Jukes, examining (by his own account) very old
hills, which have been all but washed away to nothing, naturally, and
rightly, attributes their present form, or want of form, to their
prolonged ablutions, while I, examining new and lofty hills, of which,
though much has been carried away, much is still left, as naturally and
rightly ascribe a great part of their aspect to the modes of their
elevation. The Alp-bred geologist has, however, this advantage, that
(especially if he happen at spare times to have been interested in
manual arts) he can hardly overlook the effects of denudation on a
mountain-chain which sustains Venice on the delta of one of its
torrents, and Antwerp on that of another; but the English geologist,
however practised in the detection and measurement of faults filled in
by cubes of fluor, may be pardoned for dimly appreciating the structure
of a district in which a people strong enough to lay the foundation of
the liberties of Europe in a single battle,[170] was educated in a
fissure of the Lower Chalk.

I think, however, that, if Mr. Jukes can succeed in allaying his
feverish thirst for battle, he will wish to withdraw the fourth
paragraph of his letter,[171] and, as a general formula, even the scheme
which it introduces. That scheme, sufficiently accurate as an expression
of one cycle of geological action, contains little more than was known
to all leading geologists five-and-twenty years ago, when I was working
hard under Dr. Buckland at Oxford;[172] and it is so curiously unworthy
of the present state of geological science, that I believe its author,
in his calmer moments, will not wish to attach his name to an attempt at
generalization at once so narrow, and so audacious. My experience of
mountain-form is probably as much more extended than his, as my
disposition to generalize respecting; it is less;[173] and, although
indeed the apparent limitation of the statement which he half quotes
(probably owing to his general love of denudation) from my last letter,
to the chain of the Alps, was intended only to attach to the words
“quite visibly,” yet, had I myself expanded that statement, I should not
have assumed the existence of a sea, to relieve me from the difficulty
of accounting for the existence of a lake; I should not have assumed
that all mountain-formations of investiture were marine; nor claimed the
possession of a great series of stratified rocks without inquiring where
they were to come from. I should not have thought “even more than one”
an adequate expression for the possible number of elevations and
depressions which may have taken place since the beginning of time on
the mountain-chains of the world; nor thought myself capable of
compressing into Ten Articles, or even into Thirty-nine, my conceptions
of the working of the Power which led forth the little hills like lambs,
while it rent or established the foundations of the earth; and set their
birth-seal on the forehead of each in the infinitudes of aspect and of
function which range between the violet-dyed banks of Thames and Seine,
and the vexed Fury-Tower of Cotopaxi.

Not but that large generalizations are, indeed, possible with respect to
the diluvial phenomena, among which my antagonist has pursued
his--(scarcely amphibious?)--investigations. The effects of denudation
and deposition are unvarying everywhere, and have been watched with
terror and gratitude in all ages. In physical mythology they gave tusk
to the Grææ, claw to the Gorgons, bull’s frontlet to the floods of
Aufidus and Po. They gave weapons to the wars of Titans against Gods,
and lifeless seed of life into the hand of Deucalion. Herodotus “rightly
spelled” of them, where the lotus rose from the dust of Nile and leaned
upon its dew; Plato rightly dreamed of them in his great vision of the
disrobing of the Acropolis to its naked marble; the keen eye of Horace,
half poet’s, half farmer’s (albeit unaided by theodolite), recognized
them alike where the risen brooks of Vallombrosa, amidst the
mountain-clamors, tossed their champed shingle to the Etrurian sea, and
in the uncoveted wealth of the pastures,

              “Quæ Liris quietâ;
    _Mordet_ aquâ, taciturnus amnis.”[174]

But the inner structure of the mountain-chains is as varied as their
substance; and to this day, in some of its mightier developments, so
little understood, that my Neptunian opponent himself, in his address
delivered at Cambridge in 1862, speaks of an arrangement of strata which
it is difficult to traverse ten miles of Alpine limestone without
finding an example of, as beyond the limits of theoretical

I feel tempted to say more; but I have at present little time even for
useful, and none for wanton, controversy. Whatever information Mr. Jukes
can afford me on these subjects (and I do not doubt he can afford me
much), I am ready to receive, not only without need of his entreaty, but
with sincere thanks. If he likes to try his powers of sight, “as
corrected by the laborious use of the protractor,” against mine, I will
in humility abide the issue. But at present the question before the
house is, as I understand it, simply whether glaciers excavate
lake-basins or not. That, in spite of measurement and survey, here or
elsewhere, seems to remain a question. May we answer the first, if
answerable? That determined, I think I might furnish some other grounds
of debate in this notable cause of Peebles against Plainstanes, provided
that Mr. Jukes will not in future think his seniority gives him the
right to answer me with disparagement instead of instruction, and will
bear with the English “student’s” weakness, which induces me, usually,
to wish rather to begin by shooting my elephant than end by describing
it out of my moral consciousness.[176]


[From “The Reader,” December 10, 1864.]


NORWICH, 5_th December._

Your pages are not, I presume, intended for the dissemination of the
elements of physical science. Your correspondent “M. A. C.” has a good
wit, and, by purchasing any common treatise on the barometer, may
discover the propriety of exercising it on subjects with which he is
acquainted. “G. M.” deserves more attention, the confusion in his mind
between increase of pressure and increase of density being a very common
one.[177] It may be enough to note for him, and for those of your
readers whom his letter may have embarrassed, that in any incompressible
liquid a body of greater specific gravity than the liquid will sink to
any depth, because the column which it forms, together with the vertical
column of the liquid above it, always exceeds in total weight the column
formed by the equal bulk of the liquid at its side, and the vertical
column of liquid above that. Deep-sea soundings would be otherwise
impossible. “G. M.” may find the explanation of the other phenomena to
which he alludes in any elementary work on hydrostatics, and will
discover on a little reflection that the statement in my last
letter[178] is simply true. Expanded, it is merely that, when we throw a
stone into water, we substitute pressure of stone-surface for pressure
of water-surface throughout the area of horizontal contact of the stone
with the ground, and add the excess of the stone’s weight over that of
an equal bulk of water.

It is, however, very difficult for me to understand how any person so
totally ignorant of every circumstance of glacial locality and action,
as “G. M.” shows himself to be in the paragraph beginning “It is very
evident,” could have had the courage to write a syllable on the subject.
I will waste no time in reply, but will only assure him (with reference
to his assertion that I “get rid of the rocks,” etc.), that I never
desire to get rid of anything but error, and that I should be the last
person to desire to get rid of the glacial agency by friction, as I was,
I believe, the first to reduce to a diagram the probable stages of its
operation on the bases of the higher Alpine aiguilles.[179]

Permit me to add, in conclusion, that in future I can take no notice of
any letters to which the writers do not think fit to attach their names.
There can be no need of initials in scientific discussion, except to
shield incompetence or license discourtesy.


[From “Rendu’s Theory of the Glaciers of Savoy,” Macmillan, 1874.]


The incidental passage in “Fors,” hastily written, on a contemptible
issue, does not in the least indicate my sense of the real position of
James Forbes among the men of his day. I have asked his son’s[181]
permission to add a few words expressive of my deeper feelings.

For indeed it seems to me that all these questions as to priority of
ideas or observations are beneath debate among noble persons. What a man
like Forbes first noticed, or demonstrated, is of no real moment to his
memory. What he was, and how he taught, is of consummate moment. The
actuality of his personal power, the sincerity and wisdom of his
constant teaching, need no applause from the love they justly gained,
and can sustain no diminution from hostility; for their proper honor is
in their usefulness. To a man of no essential power, the accident of a
discovery is apotheosis; to _him_, the former knowledge of all the sages
of earth is as though it were not; he calls the ants of his own
generation round him, to observe how he flourishes in his tiny forceps
the grain of sand he has imposed upon Pelion. But from all such
vindication of the claims of Forbes to mere discovery, I, his friend,
would, for my own part, proudly abstain. I do not in the slightest
degree care whether he was the first to see this, or the first to say
that, or how many common persons had seen or said as much before. What I
rejoice in knowing of him is that he had clear eyes and open heart for
all things and deeds appertaining to his life; that whatever he
discerned, was discerned impartially; what he said, was said securely;
and that in all functions of thought, experiment, or communication, he
was sure to be eventually right, and serviceable to mankind, whether out
of the treasury of eternal knowledge he brought forth things new or old.

This is the essential difference between the work of men of true genius
and the agitation of temporary and popular power. The first root of
their usefulness is in subjection of their vanity to their purpose. It
is not in calibre or range of intellect that men vitally differ; every
phase of mental character has honorable office; but the vital difference
between the strong and the weak--or let me say rather, between the
availing and valueless intelligence--is in the relation of the love of
self to the love of the subject or occupation. Many an Alpine traveller,
many a busy man of science, volubly represent to us their pleasure in
the Alps; but I scarcely recognize one who would not willingly see them
all ground down into gravel, on condition of his being the first to
exhibit a pebble of it at the Royal Institution. Whereas it may be felt
in any single page of Forbes’ writing, or De Saussure’s, that they love
crag and glacier for their own sake’s sake; that they question their
secrets in reverent and solemn thirst: not at all that they may
communicate them at breakfast to the readers of the Daily News--and
that, although there were no news, no institutions, no leading articles,
no medals, no money, and no mob, in the world, these men would still
labor, and be glad, though all their knowledge was to rest with them at
last in the silence of the snows, or only to be taught to peasant
children sitting in the shade of pines.

And whatever Forbes did or spoke during his noble life was in this
manner patiently and permanently true. The passage of his lectures in
which he shows the folly of Macaulay’s assertion that “The giants of one
generation are the pigmies of the next,”[182] beautiful in itself, is
more interesting yet in the indication it gives of the general grasp and
melodious tone of Forbes’ _reverent_ intellect, as opposed to the
discordant insolence of modernism. His mind grew and took color like an
Alpine flower, rooted on rock, and perennial in flower; while Macaulay’s
swelled like a puff-ball in an unwholesome pasture, and projected itself
far round in deleterious dust.

I had intended saying a few words more touching the difference in
temper, and probity of heart, between Forbes and Agassiz, as manifested
in the documents now[183] laid before the public. And as far as my own
feelings are concerned, the death of Agassiz[184] would not have caused
my withholding a word. For in all utterance of blame or praise, I have
striven always to be kind to the living--just to the dead. But in
deference to the wish of the son of Forbes, I keep silence: I willingly
leave sentence to be pronounced by time, above their two graves.


The following letters,[185] one from Forbes to myself, written ten years
ago, and the other from one of his pupils, received by me a few weeks
since, must, however, take their due place among the other evidence on
which such judgment is to be given.

J. R.



[From “The Artist and Amateur’s Magazine” (edited by E. V. Rippingille), February
1844, pp. 314-319.]


_To the Editor of “The Artist and Amateur’s Magazine.”_

SIR: The phenomena of light and shade, rendered to the eye by the
surface or substance of water, are so intricate and so multitudinous,
that had I wished fully to investigate, or even fully to state them, a
volume instead of a page would have been required for the task. In the
paragraphs[187] which I devoted to the subject I expressed, as briefly
as possible, the laws which are of most general application--with which
artists are indeed so universally familiar, that I conceived it
altogether unnecessary to prove or support them: but since I have
expressed them in as few words as possible, I cannot afford to have any
of those words missed or disregarded; and therefore when I say that on
_clear_ water, _near_ the eye, there is no shadow, I must not be
understood to mean that on _muddy_ water, _far_ from the eye, there is
no shadow. As, however, your correspondent appears to deny my position
in toto, and as many persons, on their first glance at the subject,
might be inclined to do the same, you will perhaps excuse me for
occupying a page or two with a more explicit statement, both of facts
and principles, than my limits admitted in the “Modern Painters.”

First, for the experimental proof of my assertion that “on clear water,
near the eye, there is no shadow.” Your correspondent’s trial with the
tub is somewhat cumbrous and inconvenient;[188] a far more simple
experiment will settle the matter. Fill a tumbler with water; throw into
it a narrow strip of white paper; put the tumbler into sunshine; dip
your finger into the water between the paper and the sun, so as to throw
a shadow across the paper and on the water. The shadow will of course be
distinct on the paper, but on the water absolutely and totally

This simple trial of the fact, and your explanation of the principle
given in your ninth number,[189] are sufficient proof and explanation of
my assertion; and if your correspondent requires authority as well as
ocular demonstration, he has only to ask Stanfield or Copley Fielding,
or any other good painter of sea; the latter, indeed, was the person who
first pointed out the fact to me when a boy. What then, it remains to be
determined, are those lights and shades on the sea, which, for the sake
of clearness, and because they appear such to the ordinary observer, I
have spoken of as “horizontal lines,” and which have every appearance
of being cast by the clouds like real shadows? I imagined that I had
been sufficiently explicit on this subject both at pages 330 and
363:[190] but your correspondent appears to have confused himself by
inaccurately receiving the term _shadow_ as if it meant darkness of any
kind; whereas my second sentence--“every _darkness_ on water is
reflection, not shadow”--might have shown him that I used it in its
particular sense, as meaning the absence of _positive_ light on a
visible surface. Thus, in endeavoring to support his assertion that the
shadows on the sea are as distinct as on a grass field, he says that
they are so by contrast with the “light _reflected_ from its polished
surface;” thus showing at once that he has been speaking and thinking
all along, not of shadow, but of the absence of reflected light--an
absence which is no more shadow than the absence of the image of a piece
of white paper in a mirror is shadow on the mirror.

The question, therefore, is one of terms rather than of things; and
before proceeding it will be necessary for me to make your correspondent
understand thoroughly what is meant by the term shadow as opposed to
that of reflection.

Let us stand on the sea-shore on a cloudless night, with a full moon
over the sea, and a swell on the water. Of course a long line of
splendor will be seen on the waves under the moon, reaching from the
horizon to our very feet. But are those waves between the moon and us
_actually_ more illuminated than any other part of the sea? Not one
whit. The whole surface of the sea is under the same full light, but the
waves between the moon and us are the only ones which are in a position
to reflect that light to our eyes. The sea on both sides of that path of
light is in perfect darkness--almost black. But is it so from shadow?
Not so, for there is nothing to intercept the moonlight from it: it is
so from position, because it cannot reflect any of the rays which fall
on it to our eyes, but reflects instead the dark vault of the night sky.
Both the darkness and the light on it, therefore--and they are as
violently contrasted as may well be--are nothing but reflections, the
whole surface of the water being under one blaze of moonlight, entirely
unshaded by any intervening object whatsoever.

Now, then, we can understand the cause of the chiaro-scuro of the sea by
daylight with lateral sun. Where the sunlight reaches the water, every
ripple, wave, or swell reflects to the eye from some of its planes
either the image of the sun or some portion of the neighboring bright
sky. Where the cloud interposes between the sun and sea, all these
luminous reflections are prevented, and the raised planes of the waves
reflect only the dark under-surface of the cloud; and hence, by the
multiplication of the images, spaces of light and shade are produced,
which lie on the sea precisely in the position of real or positive light
and shadows--corresponding to the outlines of the clouds--laterally
cast, and therefore seen in addition to, and at the same time with, the
ordinary or direct reflection, vigorously contrasted, the lights being
often a blaze of gold, and the shadows a dark leaden gray; and yet, I
repeat, they are no more real lights, or real shadows, on the sea, than
the image of a black coat is a shadow on a mirror, or the image of white
paper a light upon it.[191]

Are there, then, _no_ shadows whatsoever upon the sea? Not so. My
assertion is simply that there are none on clear water near the eye. I
shall briefly state a few of the circumstances which give rise to real
shadow in distant effect.

I. Any admixture of opaque coloring matter, as of mud, chalk, or
powdered granite renders water capable of distinct shadow, which is cast
on the earthy and solid particles suspended in the liquid. None of the
seas on our south-eastern coast are so clear as to be absolutely
incapable of shade; and the faint tint, though scarcely perceptible to a
near observer,[192] is sufficiently manifest when seen in large extent
from a distance, especially when contrasted, as your correspondent says,
with reflected lights. This was one reason for my introducing the
words--“near the eye.”

There is, however, a peculiarity in the appearances of such shadows
which requires especial notice. It is not merely the transparency of
water, but its polished surface, and consequent reflective power, which
render it incapable of shadow. A perfectly opaque body, if its power of
reflection be perfect, receives no shadow (this I shall presently
prove); and therefore, in any lustrous body, the incapability of shadow
is in proportion to the power of reflection. Now the power of reflection
in water varies with the angle of the impinging ray, being of course
greatest when that angle is least: and thus, when we look along the
water at a low angle, its power of reflection maintains its incapability
of shadow to a considerable extent, in spite of its containing suspended
opaque matter; whereas, when we look _down_ upon water from a height, as
we then receive from it only rays which have fallen on it at a large
angle, a great number of those rays are unreflected from the surface,
but penetrate beneath the surface, and are then reflected[193] from the
suspended opaque matter: thus rendering shadows clearly visible which,
at a small angle, would have been altogether unperceived.

II. But it is not merely the presence of opaque matter which renders
shadows visible on the sea seen from a height. The eye, when elevated
above the water, receives rays reflected from the bottom, of which, when
_near_ the water, it is insensible. I have seen the bottom at seven
fathoms, so that I could count its pebbles, from the cliffs of the
Cornish coast; and the broad effect of the light and shade of the bottom
is discernible at enormous depths. In fact, it is difficult to say at
what depth the rays returned from the bottom become absolutely
ineffective--perhaps not until we get fairly out into blue water. Hence,
with a white or sandy shore, shadows forcible enough to afford
conspicuous variety of color may be seen from a height of two or three
hundred feet.

III. The actual color of the sea itself is an important cause of shadow
in distant effect. Of the ultimate causes of local color in water I am
not ashamed to confess my total ignorance, for I believe Sir David
Brewster himself has not elucidated them. Every river in Switzerland has
a different hue. The lake of Geneva, commonly blue, appears, under a
fresh breeze, striped with blue and bright red; and the hues of
coast-sea are as various as those of a dolphin; but, whatever be the
cause of their variety, their intensity is, of course, dependent on the
presence of sun-light. The sea under shade is commonly of a cold gray
hue; in sun-light it is susceptible of vivid and exquisite coloring: and
thus the forms of clouds are traced on its surface, not by light and
shade, but by variation of _color_ by grays opposed to greens, blues to
rose-tints, etc. All such phenomena are chiefly visible from a height
and a distance; and thus furnished me with additional reasons for
introducing the words--“near the eye.”

IV. Local color is, however, the cause of one beautiful kind of
chiaro-scuro, visible when we are close to the water--shadows cast, not
_on_ the waves, but through them, as through misty air. When a wave is
raised so as to let the sun-light through a portion of its body, the
contrast of the transparent chrysoprase green of the illuminated parts
with the darkness of the shadowed is exquisitely beautiful.

Hitherto, however, I have been speaking chiefly of the _transparency_ of
water as the source of its incapability of shadow. I have still to
demonstrate the effect of its polished surface.

Let your correspondent pour an ounce or two of quicksilver into a flat
white saucer, and, throwing a strip of white paper into the middle of
the mercury, as before into the water, interpose an upright bit of stick
between it and the sun: he will then have the pleasure of seeing the
shadow of the stick sharply defined on the paper and the edge of the
saucer, while on the intermediate portion of mercury it will be totally
invisible[195]. Mercury is a perfectly opaque body, and its incapability
of shadow is entirely owing to the perfection of its polished surface.
Thus, then, whether water be considered as transparent or reflective
(and according to its position it is one or the other, or partially
both--for in the exact degree that it _is_ the one, it is _not_ the
other), it is equally incapable of shadow. But as on distant water, so
also on near water, when broken, pseudo shadows take place, which are
in reality nothing more than the aggregates of reflections. In the
illuminated space of the wave, from every plane turned towards the sun
there flashes an image of the sun; in the _un_-illuminated space there
is seen on every such plane only the dark image of the interposed body.
Every wreath of the foam, every jet of the spray, reflects in the
sunlight a thousand diminished suns, and refracts their rays into a
thousand colors; while in the shadowed parts the same broken parts of
the wave appear only in dead, cold white; and thus pseudo shadows are
caused, occupying the position of real shadows, defined in portions of
their edge with equal sharpness: and yet, I repeat, they are no more
real shadows than the image of a piece of black cloth is a shadow on a

But your correspondent will say, “What does it matter to me, or to the
artist, whether they _are_ shadows or not? They are darkness, and they
supply the place of shadows, and that it is all I contend for.” Not so.
They do _not_ supply the place of shadows; they are divided from them by
this broad distinction, that while shadow causes uniform deepening of
the ground-tint in the objects which it affects, these pseudo shadows
are merely portions of that ground-tint itself undeepened, but cut out
and rendered conspicuous by flashes of light irregularly disposed around
it. The ground-tint both of shadowed and illumined parts is precisely
the same--a pure pale gray, catching as it moves the hues of the sky and
clouds; but on this, in the illumined spaces, there fall touches and
flashes of intense reflected light, which are absent in the shadow. If,
for the sake of illustration, we consider the wave as hung with a
certain quantity of lamps, irregularly disposed, the shape and extent of
a shadow on that wave will be marked by the lamps being all put out
within its influence, while the tint of the water itself is entirely
unaffected by it.

The works of Stanfield will supply your correspondent with perfect and
admirable illustrations of this principle. His water-tint is equally
clear and luminous whether in sunshine or shade; but the whole lustre of
the illumined parts is attained by bright isolated touches of reflected

The works of Turner will supply us with still more striking examples,
especially in cases where slanting sunbeams are cast from a low sun
along breakers, when the shadows will be found in a state of perpetual
transition, now defined for an instant on a mass of foam, then lost in
an interval of smooth water, then coming through the body of a
transparent wave, then passing off into the air upon the dust of the
spray--supplying, as they do in nature, exhaustless combinations of
ethereal beauty. From Turner’s habit of choosing for his subjects sea
much broken with foam, the shadows in his works are more conspicuous
than in Stanfield’s, and may be studied to greater advantage. To the
works of these great painters, those of Vandevelde may be opposed for
instances of the impossible. The black shadows of this latter painter’s
near waves supply us with innumerable and most illustrative examples of
everything which sea shadows are _not_.

Finally, let me recommend your correspondent, if he wishes to obtain
perfect knowledge of the effects of shadow on water, whether calm or
agitated, to go through a systematic examination of the works of Turner.
He will find _every_ phenomenon of this kind noted in them with the most
exquisite fidelity. The Alnwick Castle, with the shadow of the bridge
cast on the dull surface of the moat, and mixing with the reflection, is
the most finished piece of water-painting with which I am acquainted.
Some of the recent Venices have afforded exquisite instances of the
change of color in water caused by shadow, the illumined water being
transparent and green, while in the shade it loses its own color, and
takes the blue of the sky.

But I have already, Sir, occupied far too many of your valuable pages,
and I must close the subject, although hundreds of points occur to me
which I have not yet illustrated[196]. The discussion respecting the
Grotto of Capri is somewhat irrelevant, and I will not enter upon it,
as thousands of laws respecting light and color are there brought into
play, in addition to the water’s incapability of shadow.[197] But it is
somewhat singular that the Newtonian principle, which your correspondent
enunciates in conclusion, is the _very cause_ of the incapability of
shadow which he disputes. I am not, however, writing a treatise on
optics, and therefore can at present do no more than simply explain what
the Newtonian law actually signifies, since, by your correspondent’s
enunciation of it, “pellucid substances reflect light only from their
surfaces,” an inexperienced reader might be led to conclude that
_opaque_ bodies reflected light from something else than their surfaces.

The law is, that whatever number of rays escape reflection at the
surface of water, pass through its body without further reflection,
being therein weakened, but not reflected; but that, where they pass
_out_ of the water again, as, for instance, if there be air-bubbles at
the bottom, giving an under-surface to the water, there a number of rays
are reflected from that under-surface, and do _not_ pass out of the
water, but return to the eye; thus causing the bright luminosity of the
under bubbles. Thus water reflects from both its surfaces--it reflects
it when passing out as well as when entering; but it reflects none
whatever from its own interior mass. If it did, it would be capable of

    I have the honor to be, Sir,
    Your most obedient servant,

[From “The London Review,” May 16, 1861.]


_To the Editor of “The London Review.”_

SIR: I do not think there is much difficulty in the rainbow business. We
cannot see the reflection of the same rainbow which we behold in the
sky, but we see the reflection of another invisible one within it.
Suppose A and B, Fig. 1, are two falling raindrops, and the spectator is
at S, and X Y is the water surface. If R A S be a sun ray giving, we
will say, the red ray in the visible rainbow, the ray, B C S, will give
the same red ray, reflected from the water at C.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.]

It is rather a long business to examine the lateral angles, and I have
not time to do it; but I presume the result would be, that if _a m b_,
Fig. 2, be the visible rainbow, and X Y the water horizon, the
reflection will be the dotted line _c e d_, reflecting, that is to say,
the invisible bow, _c n d_; thus, the terminations of the arcs of the
visible and reflected bows do not coincide.

[Illustration: FIG. 2.]

The interval, _m n_, depends on the position of the spectator with
respect to the water surface. The thing can hardly ever be seen in
nature, for if there be rain enough to carry the bow to the water
surface, that surface will be ruffled by the drops, and incapable of

Whenever I have seen a rainbow over water (sea, mostly), it has stood on
it reflectionless; but interrupted conditions of rain might be imagined
which would present reflection on near surfaces.

Always very truly yours,

7_th May,_ 1861.

[From “The Proceedings of the Ashmolean Society,” May 10, 1841.]


“The Secretary read a letter[199] from J. Ruskin, Esq., of Christ
Church, dated Naples, February 7, 1841, and addressed to Dr.
Buckland,[200] giving a description of recent landslip near that place,
which had occasioned a great loss of life: it occurred at the village of
Giagnano, near Castel-a-mare, on the 22d of January last. The village is
situated on the slope of a conical hill of limestone, not less than 1400
feet in height, and composed of thin beds similar to those which form
the greater part of the range of Sorrento. The hill in question is
nearly isolated, though forming part of the range, the slope of its
sides uniform, and inclined at not less than 40°. Assisted by projecting
ledges of the beds of rock, a soil has accumulated on this slope three
or four feet in depth, rendering it quite smooth and uniform. The higher
parts are covered in many places with brushwood, the lower with vines
trellised over old mulberry trees. There are slight evidences of recent
aqueous action on the sides of the hill, a few gullies descending
towards the east side of the village. After two days of heavy rain, on
the evening of January 22, a torrent of water burst down on the village
to the west of these gullies, and the soil accumulated on the side of
the hill gave way in a wedge-shaped mass, the highest point being about
600 feet above the houses, and slid down, leaving the rocks perfectly
bare. It buried the nearest group of cottages, and remained heaped up in
longitudinal layers above them, whilst the water ran in torrents over
the edge towards the plain, sweeping away many more houses in its
course. To the westward of this point another slip took place of smaller
dimensions than the first, but coming on a more crowded part of the
village, overwhelmed it completely, occasioning the loss of 116 lives.”

[From “The Athenæum,” February 14, 1857.]


DENMARK HILL, _Feb._ 10.

If your correspondent “Y. L. Y.” will take a little trouble in inquiring
into the history of the gentian, he will find that, as is the case with
most other flowers, there are many species of it. He knows the dark blue
gentian (_Gentiana acaulis_) because it grows, under proper cultivation,
as healthily in England as on the Alps. And he has _not_ seen the pale
blue gentian (_Gentiana verna_) shaped like a star, and of the color of
the sky, because that flower grows unwillingly, if at all, except on its
native rocks. I consider it, therefore, as specially characteristic of
Alpine scenery, while its beauty, to my mind, far exceeds that of the
darker species.

I have, etc.,

[Date and place of original publication unknown.]


_To Adam White, of Edinburgh._

It would be pleasing alike to my personal vanity and to the instinct of
making myself serviceable, which I will fearlessly say is as strong in
me as vanity, if I could think that any letter of mine would be helpful
to you in the recommendation of the study of natural history, as one of
the best elements of early as of late education. I believe there is no
child so dull or so indolent but it may be roused to wholesome exertion
by putting some practical and personal work on natural history within
its range of daily occupation; and, once aroused, few pleasures are so
innocent, and none so constant. I have often been unable, through
sickness or anxiety, to follow my own art work, but I have never found
natural history fail me, either as a delight or a medicine. But for
children it must be curtly and wisely taught. We must _show_ them
things, not tell them names. A deal chest of drawers is worth many books
to them, and a well-guided country walk worth a hundred lectures.

I heartily wish you, not only for your sake, but for that of the young
thistle buds of Edinburgh, success in promulgating your views and
putting them in practice.

Always believe me faithfully yours,



       *       *       *       *       *


 [1] “The Bibliography of Ruskin: a bibliographical list, arranged in
 chronological order, of the published writings of John Ruskin, M.A.
 (From 1834 to 1879.)” By Richard Herne Shepherd.

 [2] The letter out of which it took its rise, however, will be found
 on the 82d page of the first volume; and with regard to it, and
 especially to the mention of Mr. Frith’s picture in it, reference
 should be made to part of a further letter in the _Art Journal_ of
 this month.

 “I owe some apology, by the way, to Mr. Frith, for the way I spoke
 of his picture in my letter to the Leicester committee, not intended
 for publication, though I never write what I would not allow to be
 published, and was glad that they asked leave to print it.” (_Art
 Journal_, August, 1880, where this sentence is further explained.)

 [3] Some of the notes, it will be remarked, are in larger type than
 the rest; these are Mr. Ruskin’s original notes to the letters as
 first published, and are in fact part of them; and they are so printed
 to distinguish them from the other notes, for which I am responsible.

 [4] It should be 16th, the criticism having appeared in the preceding
 weekly issue.

 [5] See “Modern Painters,” vol. i. p. 159 (Pt. II. § 2, cap. 2,
 § 5). “Again, take any important group of trees, I do not care
 whose,--Claude’s, Salvator’s, or Poussin’s,--with lateral light
 (that in the Marriage of Isaac and Rebecca, or Gaspar’s Sacrifice of
 Isaac, for instance); can it be supposed that those murky browns and
 melancholy greens are representative of the tints of leaves under full
 noonday sun?” The picture in question is, it need hardly be said, in
 the National Gallery (No. 31).

 [6] See “Modern Painters,” vol. i. pp. 157-8 (Pt. II. § ii., cap. 2, §
 4). The critic of the _Chronicle_ had written that the rocky mountains
 in this picture “are _not_ sky-blue, neither are they near enough for
 detail of crag to be seen, neither are they in full light, but are
 quite as indistinct as they would be in nature, and just the color.”
 The picture is No. 84 in the National Gallery.

 [7] See “Modern Painters,” vol. i. p. 184 (Pt. II. § ii., cap. 4, §
 6). “Turner introduced a new era in landscape art, by showing that the
 foreground might be sunk for the distance, and that it was possible to
 express immediate proximity to the spectator, without giving anything
 like completeness to the forms of the near objects. This, observe, is
 not done by slurred or soft lines (always the sign of vice in art),
 but by a decisive imperfection, a firm but partial assertion of form,
 which the eye feels indeed to be close home to it, and yet cannot
 rest upon, nor cling to, nor entirely understand, and from which it
 is driven away of necessity to those parts of distance on which it
 is intended to repose.” To this the critic of the _Chronicle_ had
 objected, attempting to show that it would result in Nature being
 “represented with just half the quantity of light and color that she

 [8] The passage in the _Chronicle_ ran thus: “The Apollo is but an
 ideal of the human form; no figure ever moulded of flesh and blood was
 like it.” With the objection to this criticism we may compare “Modern
 Painters” (vol. i. p. 27), where the ideal is defined as “the utmost
 degree of beauty of which the species is capable.” See also vol. ii.
 p. 99: “The perfect _idea_ of the form and condition in which all the
 properties of the species are fully developed is called the Ideal of
 the species;” and “That unfortunate distinctness between Idealism and
 Realism which leads most people to imagine that the Ideal is opposed
 to the Real, and therefore false.”

 [9] This picture of Sir David Wilkie’s was presented to the National
 Gallery (No. 99) by Sir George Beaumont, in 1826.

 [10] The bank of cloud in the “Sacrifice of Isaac” is spoken of in
 “Modern Painters” (vol. i. p. 227, Pt. II., § iii., cap. 3, §7), as “a
 ropy, tough-looking wreath.” On this the reviewer commented.

 [11] “We agree,” wrote the _Chronicle_, “with the writer in almost
 every word he says about this great artist; and we have no doubt that,
 when he is gone from among us, his memory will receive the honor due
 to his living genius.” See also the postscript to the first volume of
 “Modern Painters” (pp. 422-3), written in June, 1851.

 [12] Cimabue. The quarter of the town is yet named, from the rejoicing
 of that day, Borgo Allegri.{*} (_Original note to the letter: see
 editor’s preface._)

 {*} The picture thus honored was that of the Virgin, painted for the
 Church of Santa Maria Novella, where it now hangs in the Rucellai
 Chapel. “This work was an object of so much admiration to the people,
 ... that it was carried in solemn procession, with the sound of
 trumpets and other festal demonstrations, from the house of Cimabue
 to the church, he himself being highly rewarded and honored for it.
 It is further reported, and may be read in certain records of old
 painters, that whilst Cimabue was painting this picture in a garden
 near the gate of San Pietro, King Charles the Elder, of Anjou, passed
 through Florence, and the authorities of the city, among other marks
 of respect, conducted him to see the picture of Cimabue. When this
 work was shown to the king, it had not before been seen by any one;
 wherefore all the men and women of Florence hastened in great crowds
 to admire it, making all possible demonstrations of delight. The
 inhabitants of the neighborhood, rejoicing in this occurrence, ever
 afterwards called that place Borgo Allegri; and this name it has
 since retained, although in process of time it became enclosed within
 the walls of the city.--Vasari, “Lives of Painters.” Bohn’s edition.
 London, 1850. Vol. i. p. 41. This well-known anecdote may also be
 found in Jameson’s “Early Italian Painters,” p. 12.

 [13] This letter was written in reply to one signed “Matilda Y.,”
 which had been printed in the _Artist and Amateur’s Magazine_, p. 265,
 December, 1843, and which related to the opposite opinions held by
 different critics of the works of Turner, which were praised by some
 as “beautiful and profoundly truthful representations of nature,”
 whilst others declared them to be “executed without end, aim, or
 principle.” “May not these contradictions,” wrote the correspondent,
 in the passage alluded to by Mr. Ruskin, “be in a great measure the
 result of extreme ignorance of art in the great mass of those persons
 who take upon themselves the office of critics and reviewers? Can any
 one be a judge of art whose judgment is not founded on an accurate
 knowledge of nature? It is scarcely possible that a mere knowledge of
 pictures, however extensive, can qualify a man for the arduous and
 responsible duties of public criticism of art.”

 [14] Gustav Friedrich Waagen, Director of the Berlin Gallery from
 1832 until his death in 1868. He was the author of various works on
 art, amongst them one entitled “Works of Art and Artists in England”
 (London, 1838), which is that alluded to here. The passage quoted
 concludes a description of his “first attempt to navigate the watery
 paths,” in a voyage from Hamburg to the London Docks (vol. i. p. 13).
 His criticism of Turner may be found in the same work (vol. ii. p.
 80), where commenting on Turner’s “Fishermen endeavoring to put their
 fish on board,” then, as now, in the gallery of Bridgewater House
 (No. 169), and which was painted as a rival to the great sea-storm of
 Vandevelde, he writes, that “in the truth of clouds and waves” ... it
 is inferior to that picture, compared with which “it appears like a
 successful piece of scene-painting. The great crowd of amateurs, who
 ask nothing more of the art, will always far prefer Turner’s picture.”
 Dr. Waagen revised and re-edited his book in a second, entitled,
 “Treasures of Art in Great Britain” (1854), in which these passages
 are repeated with slight verbal alterations (vol. i. p. 3, vol. ii.
 p. 53). In this work he acknowledges his ignorance of Turner at the
 time the first was written, and gives a high estimate of his genius.
 “Buildings,” he writes, “he treats with peculiar felicity, while _the
 sea_ in its most varied aspects _is equally subservient to his magic
 brush_”!! He adds, that but for one deficiency, the want of a sound
 technical basis, he “should not hesitate to recognize Turner as the
 greatest landscape painter of all time”! With regard, however, to the
 above-named picture, it may be remembered that Mr. Ruskin has himself
 instanced it as one of the marine pictures which Turner spoiled by
 imitation of Vandevelde (“Pre-Raphaelitism,” p. 45).

 [15] See the Preface to the second edition of “Modern Painters” (vol.
 i. p. xix., etc.) Frederick Richard Lee, R.A., died in June, 1879.

 [16] Abraham Janssens, in his jealousy of Rubens, proposed to him that
 they should each paint a picture, and submit the rival works to the
 decision of the public. Mr. Ruskin gives Rubens’ reply, the tenor of
 which may be found in any life of the artist. See Hasselt’s “Histoire
 de Rubens” (Brussels, 1840), p. 48, from which Mr. Ruskin quotes;
 Descamps, vol. i. p. 304; Walpole’s “Anecdotes of Painting,” Bonn’s
 octavo edition, p. 306.

 [17] This is a singular instance of the profound ignorance of
 landscape in which great and intellectual painters of the human form
 may remain; an ignorance, which commonly renders their remarks on
 landscape painting nugatory, if not false.[18]

 [18] The amazement of the painter is underrated: “You will believe
 me much nearer heaven upon Mount Cenis than I was before, or shall
 probably be again for some time. We passed this mountain on Sunday
 last, and about seven in the morning were near the top of the road
 over it, on both sides of which the mountain rises to a very great
 height, yet so high were we in the valley between them that the moon,
 which was above the horizon of the mountains, appeared at least five
 times as big as usual, and much more distinctly marked than I ever saw
 it through some very good telescopes.”--Letter to Edmund Burke, dated
 Turin, Sept. 24, 1766. Works of James Barry, R.A., 2 vols., quarto
 (London, 1809), vol. i p 58. He died in 1806.


 Plato.--“_Hippias._ Men do not commonly say so. _Socrates._ Who do
 not say so--those who know, or those who do not know? _Hippias._ The
 multitude. _Socrates._ Are then the multitude acquainted with truth?
 _Hippias._ _Certainly not._

 The answer is put into the mouth of the sophist; but put as an
 established fact, which he cannot possibly deny.[20]

 [20] Plato: Hippias Major, 284 E. Steph.

 [21] Wordsworth. “Poems of Sentiment and Reflection,” i.
 “Expostulation and Reply.”

 [22] “Memorials of a Tour in Scotland. 1814. iii. Effusion.”

 [23] See the _Artist and Amateur’s Magazine_, p. 248. The article
 named was written in dualogue, and in the passage alluded to
 “Palette,” an artist, points out to his companion “Chatworthy,” who
 represents the general public, that “next to the highest authorities
 in Art are the pure, natural, untainted, highly educated, and
 intelligent _few_” The argument is continued over some pages, but
 although the _Magazine_ is not now readily accessible to the ordinary
 reader, it will not be thought necessary to go further into the

 [24] Mr. Thomas Wakley, at this time M.P. for Finsbury, and coroner
 for Middlesex. He was the founder of the _Lancet_, and took a deep
 interest in medicine, which he at one time practised. I do not find,
 however, that he published any volume of poems, though he may well
 have been the author, as the letter seems to imply, of some occasional
 verses. He died in 1862.

 [25] The references to this and the five passages following are (1)
 Burns, “The Twa Dogs;” (2) Milton, “Paradise Lost,” vi. 79; (3)
 Burns, “Death and Doctor Hornbook;” (4) Byron, “Hebrew Melodies,”
 “Oh! snatched away in beauty’s bloom;” (5) Campbell; and (6) Shelley,
 “Prometheus Unbound,” Act ii. sc. 1.

 [26] It will be felt at once that the more serious and higher passages
 generally suffer most. But Stanfield, little as it may be thought,
 suffers grievously in the Academy, just as the fine passage from
 Campbell is ruined by its position between the perfect tenderness of
 Byron and Shelley. The more vulgar a picture is, the better it bears
 the Academy.

 [27] “Although it is in verse that the most consummate skill in
 composition is to be looked for, and all the artifices of language
 displayed, yet it is in verse only that we throw off the yoke of
 the world, and are, as it were, privileged to utter our deepest and
 holiest feelings. Poetry in this respect may be called the salt of
 the earth. We express in it, and receive in it, sentiments for which,
 were it not for this permitted medium, the usages of the world would
 neither allow utterance nor acceptance.”--_Southey’s Colloquies_[28]
 Such allowance is never made to the painter. In him, inspiration is
 called insanity--in him, the sacred fire, possession.

 [28] “Sir Thomas More; or, Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of
 Society.” Colloquy xiv. (vol. ii. p. 399, in Murray’s edition, 1829).

 [29] “This Turner, of whom you have known so little while he was
 living among you, will one day take his place beside Shakespeare and
 Verulam, in the annals of the light of England.

 “Yes: beside Shakespeare and Verulam, a third star in that central
 constellation, round which, in the astronomy of intellect, all other
 stars make their circuit. By Shakespeare, humanity was unsealed
 to you; by Verulam the _principles_ of nature; and by Turner, her
 _aspect_. All these were sent to unlock one of the gates of light, and
 to unlock it for the first time. But of all the three, though not the
 greatest, Turner was the most unprecedented in his work. Bacon did
 what Aristotle had attempted; Shakespeare did perfectly what Æschylus
 did partially; but none before Turner had lifted the veil from the
 face of nature; the majesty of the hills and forests had received
 no interpretation, and the clouds passed unrecorded from the face
 of the heavens which they adorned, and of the earth to which they
 ministered,”--“Lectures on Architecture and Painting,” by John Ruskin;
 published 1854; pp. 180, 181.

 [30] We have not sufficiently expressed our concurrence in the opinion
 of her friend, that Turner’s modern works are his greatest. His early
 ones are nothing but amplifications of what others have done, or hard
 studies of every-day truth. His later works no one but himself could
 have conceived: they are the result of the most exalted imagination,
 acting with the knowledge acquired by _means_ of his former works.

 [31] Wordsworth. “Poems of Sentiment and Reflection.” ii. “The Tables
 Turned” (1798), being the companion poem to that quoted _ante_, p. 17.
 The second line should read, “Close up these barren leaves.”

 [32] This work related to University co-operation with schemes for
 middle-class education, and included letters from various authorities,
 amongst others one from Mr. Hullah on Music. The present letter was
 addressed to the Rev. F. Temple (now Bishop of Exeter), and was
 written in reply to a statement of certain points in debate between
 him and Mr. (now Sir Thomas) Acland. In forwarding it to his opponent,
 Mr. Temple wrote as follows: “The liberal arts are supreme over their
 sciences. Instead of the rules being despotic, the great artist
 usually proves his greatness by rightly setting aside rules; and
 the great critic is he who, while he knows the rule, can appreciate
 the ‘law within the law’ which overrides the rule. In no other way
 does Ruskin so fully show his greatness in criticism as in that fine
 inconsistency for which he has been so often attacked by men who do
 not see the real consistency that lies beneath.”

 [33] In the following year Mr. Ruskin wrote a paper for the National
 Association for the Promotion of Social Science, on “Education in
 Art” (Transactions, 1858, pp. 311-316), now reprinted in the eleventh
 volume of Mr. Ruskin’s works, “A Joy for Ever,” p. 185. To this paper
 the reader of the present letter is referred.

 [34] “Giotto passed the first ten years of his life, a shepherd-boy,
 among these hills (of Fiésole); was found by Cimabue, near his native
 village, drawing one of his sheep upon a smooth stone; was yielded
 up by his father, ‘a simple person, a laborer of the earth,’ to the
 guardianship of the painter, who, by his own work, had already made
 the streets of Florence ring with joy; attended him to Florence,
 and became his disciple.”--“Giotto and his Works in Padua,” by John
 Ruskin, 1854, p. 12.

 [35] This letter was, it appears, originally addressed to an artist,
 Mr. Williams (of Southampton), and was then printed, some years later,
 in the number of _Nature and Art_ above referred to.

 [36] Some words are necessary to explain this and the following
 letter. In the autumn of 1846 a correspondence was opened in the
 columns of _The Times_ on the subject of the cleaning and restoration
 of the national pictures during the previous vacation. Mr. (afterwards
 Sir Charles) Eastlake was at this time Keeper of the Gallery, though
 he resigned office soon after this letter was written, partly in
 consequence of the attacks which had been made upon him. He was
 blamed, not only for restoring good pictures, but also for buying
 bad ones, and in particular the purchase of a “libel on Holbein” was
 quoted against him. The attack was led by the picture-dealer, and
 at one time artist, Mr. Morris Moore, writing at first under the
 pseudonym of “Verax,” and afterwards in his own name. He continued his
 opposition through several years, especially during 1850 and 1852.
 He also published some pamphlets on the subject, amongst them one
 entitled “The Revival of Vandalism at the National Gallery, a reply to
 John Ruskin and others” (London, Ollivier, 1853). The whole discussion
 may be gathered in all its details from the Parliamentary Report of
 the Select Committee on the National Gallery in 1853.

 [37] The “violent attack” alludes to a letter of “Verax,” in _The
 Times_ of Thursday (not Friday), December 31, 1846, and the “attempted
 defence” to another letter signed “A. G.” in _The Times_ of January 4,
 two days (not _the_ day) before Mr. Ruskin wrote the present letter.

 [38] “The Crucifixion, or Adoration of the Cross,” in the church of
 San Marco. An engraving of this picture may be found in Mrs. Jameson’s
 “History of our Lord,” vol. i. p. 189.

 [39] No. 46 in the National Gallery.

 [40] “Landscape, with Cattle and Figures--Evening” (No. 53). Since the
 bequest of the somewhat higher “large Dort” in 1876 (No. 961), it has
 ceased to be “the large Cuyp.”

 [41] No. 35 in the National Gallery. This and the two pictures already
 mentioned were the typical instances of “spoilt pictures,” quoted by

 [42] “Modern Painters,” vol. i. p. 146.

 [43] “Philip IV. of Spain, hunting the Wild Boar” (No. 197), purchased
 in 1846.

 [44] On this and other collateral subjects the reader is referred to
 the next letter; to Mr. Ruskin’s evidence before the National Gallery
 Commission in 1857; and to the Appendix to his Notes on the Turner
 Gallery at Marlborough House, 1856-7. It is hardly necessary to state
 that a very large number of the national pictures, especially the
 Turners, are now preserved under glass. Of the other strictures here
 pronounced, some are no longer deserved; and it may well be remembered
 that at the time this letter was written the National Gallery had been
 founded less than five-and-twenty years.

 [45] “Lot and his Daughters Leaving Sodom” (No. 193), bequeathed
 to the gallery in 1844, and “Susannah and the Elders” (No. 196),
 purchased in the same year.

 [46] The “two good Guidos” previously possessed are the “St. Jerome”
 (No. 11) and the “Magdalen” (No. 177). The “wretched panel” is No.
 181, “The Virgin and Infant Christ with St. John.” For the rest,
 the gallery now includes two other Peruginos, “The Virgin adoring
 the Infant Christ, the Archangel Michael, the Archangel Raphael and
 Tobias” (No. 288), three panels, purchased in 1856, and the very
 recent (1879) purchase of the “Virgin and Child with St. Jerome and
 St. Francis” (No. 1075). It boasts also two Angelicos--“The Adoration
 of the Magi” (No. 582) and “Christ amid the Blessed” (No. 663),
 purchased in 1857 and 1860; one Albertinelli, “Virgin and Child “(No.
 645), also purchased in 1860; and two Lorenzo di Credis, both of the
 “Virgin and Child” (Nos. 593 and 648), purchased in 1857 and 1865. But
 it still possesses no Fra Bartolomeo, no Ghirlandajo, and no Verrochio.

 [47] “The Judgment of Paris” (No. 194), purchased from Mr. Penrice’s
 collection in 1846.

 [48] “The Last Judgment;” its purchaser was the Earl of Dudley, in
 whose possession the picture, now hanging at Dudley House in London,
 has ever since remained. An engraving of this work (pronounced the
 finest of Angelico’s four representations of this subject), may be
 found in Mrs. Jameson’s “History of our Lord,” vol. ii. p. 414.
 Cardinal Fesch was Archbishop of Lyons, and the uncle of Napoleon
 Buonaparte. His gallery contained in its time the finest private
 collection of pictures in Rome.

 [49] The “libel on Holbein” was bought as an original, from Mr.
 Rochard, in 1845. It now figures in the National Gallery as “A Medical
 Professor,--artist unknown” (No. 195).

 [50] The Bellini is the “Portrait of Doge Leonardo Loredano” (No.
 189), purchased in 1844; four more examples (Nos. 280, 726, 808, 812)
 of the same “mighty Venetian master” have since been introduced, so
 that he is no longer “poorly represented by a single head.” The Van
 Eyck is the “Portrait of Jean Arnolfini and his Wife” (No. 186),
 purchased in 1842.

 [51] Claude’s “Marriage of Isaac and Rebecca” (No. 12), and his “Queen
 of Sheba” picture (No. 14, Seaport, with figures). The only pictures
 of Veronese which the Gallery at this time contained, were the
 “Consecration of St. Nicholas” (No. 26), and the “Rape of Europa” (No.
 97). It is the former of these two that is here spoken of as injured
 (see the report of the National Gallery Committee in 1853).

 [52] Mr. Thomas Uwins, R.A., had succeeded Sir Charles Eastlake as
 Keeper of the National Gallery in 1847; and resigned, for a similar
 reason, in 1855.

 [53] The public may not, perhaps, be generally aware that the
 condition by which the nation retains the two pictures bequeathed to
 it by Turner, and now in the National Gallery, is that “they shall be
 hung beside Claude’s.”{*}

 {*} “Dido building Carthage” (No. 498), and “The Sun rising in a Mist”
 (No. 479). The actual wording of Turner’s will on the matter ran thus:
 “I direct that the said pictures, or paintings, shall be hung, kept,
 and placed, that is to say, always between the two pictures painted by
 Claude, the Seaport and the Mill.” Accordingly they now hang side by
 side with these two pictures (Nos. 5 and 12) in the National Gallery.

 [54] See p. 42, note.

 [55] Query, a misprint? as _six_ pictures are mentioned.

 [56] “The Art of a nation is, I think, one of the most important
 points of its history, and a part which, if once destroyed, no
 history will ever supply the place of; and the first idea of a
 National Gallery is that it should be a Library of Art, in which the
 rudest efforts are, in some cases, hardly less important than the
 noblest.”--National Gallery Commission, 1857: Mr. Ruskin’s evidence.

 [57] It was at this time proposed to remove the national pictures
 from Trafalgar Square to some new building to be erected for them
 elsewhere. This proposal was, however, negatived by the commission
 ultimately appointed (1857) to consider the matter, and to some extent
 rendered unnecessary by the enlargement of the gallery, decided upon
 in 1866.

 [58] The galleries of the Louvre were reorganized on their being
 declared national instead of crown property, after the Revolution of
 1848; and the choicest pictures were then collected together in the
 “grand salon carré,” which, although since rearranged, still contains
 a similar selection. The “best Tintoret on this side of the Alps” is
 the “Susannah and the Elders,” now No. 349 in that room.

 [59] The _gift_ of Mr. Robert Vernon, in 1847, consisted of 157
 pictures, all of them, with two exceptions only, of the British
 school. The Turner bequest included 105 finished oil paintings, in
 addition to the numerous sketches and drawings.

 [60] An example of a cognate school might, however, be occasionally
 introduced for the sake of direct comparison, as in one instance would
 be necessitated by the condition above mentioned attached to part of
 the Turner bequest.

 [61] At the meeting of the Society, in the Hall, Adelphi, Lord
 Henry Lennox read a paper on “The Uses of National Museums to Local
 Institutions,” in which he spoke of Mr. Ruskin’s suggestions “adopted
 and recommended to Parliament in annual reports, and in obedience to
 distinct Commissions,” as having been unwarrantably disregarded since
 1858. See Mr. Ruskin’s official report on the Turner Bequest, printed
 in the “Report of the Director of the National Gallery to the Lords of
 the Treasury, 1858,” Appendix vii.

 [62] Professor Nevil Story-Maskelyne (now M.P. for Cricklade) was
 then, and till his recent resignation, Keeper of Mineralogy at the

 [63] In Mr. Ruskin’s official report already mentioned, and which was
 made at the close of his labors in arranging the Turner drawings, and
 dated March 27, 1858, he divided the collection into three classes, of
 which the third consisted of drawings available for distribution among
 provincial Schools of Art. The passage of the report referred to is
 as follows: “The remainder of the collection consists of drawings of
 miscellaneous character, from which many might be spared with little
 loss to the collection in London, and great advantage to students in
 the provinces. Five or six collections, each completely illustrative
 of Turner’s modes of study, and successions of practice, might easily
 be prepared for the academies of Edinburgh, Dublin, and the principal
 English manufacturing towns.”--See also the similar recommendation
 with regard to the “Outlines of John Leech,” in the letter on that

 [64] Titian’s “Bacchus and Ariadne”--already mentioned, p. 40. Henry
 VI.’s Psalter is in the British Museum (“Domitian A. 17,” in the
 Cottonian Catalogue). It is of early fifteenth century work, and was
 executed in England by a French artist for the then youthful king,
 from whom it takes its name.

 [65] This letter was written in reply to one requesting Mr. Ruskin’s
 views on the best means of forming a public Gallery at Leicester.

 [66] That the critique was sufficiently bitter, may be gathered from
 the following portions of it: “These young artists have unfortunately
 become notorious by addicting themselves to an antiquated style and
 an affected simplicity in painting.... We can extend no toleration
 to a mere senile imitation of the cramped style, false perspective,
 and crude color of remote antiquity. We want not to see what Fuseli
 termed drapery ‘snapped instead of folded;’ faces bloated into
 apoplexy, or extenuated to skeletons; color borrowed from the jars
 in a druggist’s shop, and expression forced into caricature.... That
 morbid infatuation which sacrifices truth, beauty, and genuine feeling
 to mere eccentricity, deserves no quarter at the hands of the public.”

 [67] A sacred picture (No. 518) upon the text, “And one shall say
 unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer,
 Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends” (Zechariah
 xiii. 6). He had two other pictures in the Academy of 1850, namely,
 “Portrait of a gentleman and his grandchild” (No. 429), and “Ferdinand
 lured by Ariel” (No. 504)--Shakespeare, “Tempest,” Act ii. sc. 2.

 [68] See the next letter, p. 96. With regard to the religious tone of
 some parts of Mr. Ruskin’s early writings, it is worth noting that
 in the recent reissue (1880) of the “Seven Lamps of Architecture,”
 “some pieces of rabid and utterly false Protestantism ... are cut from
 text and appendix alike.”--(Preface, p. 1; and see the note on one
 such omission on p. 19.) So again in the preface to the final edition
 of “Modern Painters,” issued in 1873, Mr. Ruskin stated that his
 objection to republishing unrevised the first two volumes of that work
 was that “they are written in a narrow enthusiasm, and the substance
 of their metaphysical and religious speculation is only justifiable on
 the ground of its absolute sincerity.”--See also “Sesame and Lilies,”
 1871 ed., Preface, p. 2.

 [69] The pre-Raphaelite pictures exhibited in the Academy of this
 year, and referred to here and in the following letter, were the
 “Mariana” (No. 561) of Millais, “The Return of the Dove to the Ark”
 (No. 651), and “The Woodman’s Daughter” (No. 799), (see Coventry
 Patmore’s Poems, vol. i. p. 184--4 vol. ed., 1879), both also by
 Millais; the “Valentine receiving (rescuing?) Sylvia from Proteus”
 (No. 594), of Holman Hunt; and the “Convent Thoughts” (No. 493) of Mr.
 C. Collins, to which were affixed the lines from “Midsummer Night’s
 Dream” (Act i. sc. 1),

 “Thrice blessed they, that master so their blood To undergo such
 maiden pilgrimage;”

 and the verse (Psalm cxliii. 5), “I meditate on all Thy works; I muse
 on the work of Thy hands.” The last-named artist also had a portrait
 of Mr. William Bennett (No. 718) in the Exhibition--not, however,
 alluded to in this letter. Mr. Charles Allston Collins, who was the
 son of William Collins, R.A., and the younger brother of Mr. Wilkie
 Collins, subsequently turned his attention to literature, and may be
 remembered as the author of “A Cruise upon Wheels,” “The Eye-Witness,”
 and other writings.

 [70] Compare “Modern Painters,” vol. i. p. 415, note, where allusion
 is made to the painters of a society which “unfortunately, or
 rather unwisely, has given itself the name of ‘Pre-Raphaelite;’
 unfortunately, because the principles on which its members are working
 are neither pre- nor post-Raphaelite, but everlasting. They are
 endeavoring to paint with the highest possible degree of completion,
 what they see in nature, without reference to conventional established
 rules; but by no means to imitate the style of any past epoch.”

 [71] “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” Act ii. sc. 4. The scene of the
 picture was taken from Act v. sc. 4.

 [72] “The Hhareem” (No. 147), noticed, partly to the above effect,
 in _The Times_, May 1, 1850. It will be remembered that John Lewis
 is, with Turner, Millais, Prout, Mulready, and Edwin Landseer, one
 of the artists particularly mentioned in Mr. Ruskin’s pamphlet on
 “Pre-Raphaelitism” (1851), p. 33; and see also “Academy Notes,” III.,
 1857, p. 48.

 [73] “I have great hope that they may become the foundation of
 a more earnest and able school of art than we have seen for
 centuries.”--“Modern Painters,” vol. i. p. 415, note.

 [74] Of the two pictures described in this and the following letter,
 “The Light of the World” is well known from the engraving of it by
 W. H. Simmons. It was originally purchased by Mr. Thomas Combe, of
 Oxford, whose widow has recently presented it to Keble College, where
 it now hangs, in the library. The subject of the second picture, which
 is less well known, and which has never been engraved, sufficiently
 appears from the letter describing it.

 [75] Mr. Dearle informs me that this picture was bought from the walls
 of the Academy by a prize-holder in the Art Union of London. He adds
 that the purchaser resided in either America or Australia, and that
 the picture is now, therefore, presumably in one or other of those

 [76] Shenstone: Elegy xxvi. The subject of the poem is that of the
 picture described here. The girl speaks--

 “If through the garden’s flowery tribes I stray, Where bloom the
 jasmines that could once allure, Hope not,” etc.

 The prize of the Liverpool Academy was awarded in 1858 to Millais’s
 “Blind Girl.” Popular feeling, however, favored another picture, the
 “Waiting for the Verdict” of A. Solomon, and a good deal of discussion
 arose as to whether the prize had been rightly awarded. As one of the
 judges, and as a member of the Academy, Mr. Alfred Hunt addressed a
 letter on the matter to Mr. Ruskin, the main portion of whose reply
 was sent by him to the _Liverpool Albion_ and is now reprinted here.
 Mr. Solomon’s picture had been exhibited in the Royal Academy of 1857
 (No. 562), and is mentioned in Mr. Ruskin’s Notes to the pictures of
 that year (p. 32).

 [77] The defence was made in a second notice (March 6, 1858) of the
 Exhibition of the Royal Scottish Academy, then open to the public. The
 picture of Mr. Waller Paton (now R.S.A.) alluded to here was entitled
 “Wild Water, Inveruglass” (161); he also exhibited one of “Arrochar
 Road, Tarbet” (314). The platitudes of the _Scotsman_ against the
 pre-Raphaelites were contained in its second notice of the Exhibition
 (February 20, 1858).

 [78] There must be some error here, as it is the _true_ dreams that
 come through the horn gate, while the fruitless ones pass through the
 gate of _ivory_. The allusion is to Homer (Odyssey, xix. 562).

 [79] In illustration of the old Scottish ballad of “Burd Helen,” who,
 fearing her lover’s desertion, followed him, dressed as a foot-page,
 through flood, if not through fire--

 “Lord John he rode, Burd Helen ran, The live-lang sumer’s day, Until
 they cam’ to Clyde’s Water, Was filled frae bank to brae.

 “‘See’st thou yon water, Helen,’ quoth he, ‘That flows frae bank to
 brim?’ ‘I trust to God, Lord John,’ she said, ‘You ne’er will see me

 This picture (No. 141 in the Edinburgh Exhibition of 1858) was first
 exhibited in the Royal Academy of 1856. In the postscript to his
 Academy Notes of that year, Mr. Ruskin, after commenting on the
 “crying error of putting it nearly out of sight,” so that he had at
 first hardly noticed it, estimates this picture as second only to the
 “Autumn Leaves” of Mr. Millais in that exhibition. The following is
 a portion of his comment on it: “I see just enough of the figures to
 make me sure that the work is thoughtful and intense in the highest
 degree. The pressure of the girl’s hand on her side; her wild, firm,
 desolate look at the stream--she not raising her eyes as she makes
 her appeal, for fear of the greater mercilessness in the human look
 than in the glaze of the gliding water--the just choice of the type
 of the rider’s cruel face, and of the scene itself--so terrible in
 haggardness of rattling stones and ragged heath,--are all marks of the
 action of the very grandest imaginative power, shortened only of hold
 upon our feelings, because dealing with a subject too fearful to be
 for a moment believed true.”

 The picture was originally purchased by Mr. John Miller, of Liverpool;
 at the sale of whose collection by Christie and Manson, two years
 later, in 1858, it fetched the price of two hundred guineas. At the
 same sale the “Blind Girl,” alluded to in the previous letter, was
 sold for three hundred.

 For the poem illustrated by the picture, see Aytoun’s “Ballads of
 Scotland,” i. 219, where a slightly different version of it is given:
 it may also be found in “Percy’s Reliques” (vol. iii. p. 59), under
 the title of “Child Waters.” Other versions of this ballad, and
 other ballads of the same name, and probably origin, may be found in
 Jameson’s collection, vol. i. p. 117, vol. ii. p. 376, in Buchan’s
 “Ancient Ballads of the North,” ii. 29 (1879 ed.) and in “Four Books
 of Scottish Ballads,” Edin., 1868, Bk. ii. p. 21, where it is well
 noted that “Burd Helen” corresponds to the “Proud Elise” of northern
 minstrels, “La Prude Dame Elise” of the French, and the “Gentle Lady
 Elise” of the English--(Burd, Prud, Preux). It is also possible that
 it is a corruption of Burdalayn, or Burdalane, meaning an only child,
 a maiden, etc.

 [80] The _Witness_ had objected to the “astonishing fondness” of
 the pre-Raphaelite school for “conceits,” instancing as typically
 far-fetched that in the picture of “Burd Helen,” where Lord John was
 represented “pulling to pieces a heart’s-ease,” as he crosses the

 [81] The first exhibition of Turner’s pictures after his death was
 opened at Marlborough House early in November, 1856, seven months
 subsequent to the final decision as to the proper distribution of the
 property, which was the subject of Turner’s will.

 [82] See Rogers’ “Italy,” p. 29.

 [83] William Hookham Carpenter, for many years Keeper of the prints
 and drawings at the British Museum. He died in 1866.

 [84] Mr. Ruskin’s offer was accepted, and he eventually arranged the
 drawings, and, in particular, the four hundred now exhibited in one
 of the lower rooms of the National Gallery, and contained in the kind
 of cases above proposed, presented by Mr. Ruskin to the Gallery.
 Mr. Ruskin also printed, as promised, a descriptive and explanatory
 catalogue of a hundred of these four hundred drawings. (Catalogue of
 the Turner Sketches in the National Gallery. For private circulation.
 Part 1.1857.--Only one hundred copies printed, and no further parts

 Writing (1858) to Mr. Norton of his whole work in arranging the Turner
 drawings, Mr. Ruskin said: “To show you a little what my work has
 been, I have facsimiled for you, as nearly as I could, one of the
 nineteen thousand sketches (comprised in the Turner bequest). It, like
 most of them, is not a sketch, but a group of sketches, made on both
 sides of the leaf of the note-book. The note-books vary in contents
 from sixty to ninety leaves: there are about two hundred books of the
 kind--three hundred and odd note-books in all; and each leaf has on
 an average this quantity of work, a great many leaves being slighter,
 some blank, but a great many also elaborate in the highest degree,
 some containing ten exquisite compositions on each side of the leaf,
 thus (see facsimile), each no bigger than this--and with about that
 quantity of work in each, but every touch of it inestimable, done with
 his whole soul in it. Generally the slighter sketches are written over
 it everywhere, as in the example inclosed, every incident being noted
 that was going on at the moment of the sketch.”--“List of Turner’s
 Drawings shown in connection with Mr. Norton’s Lectures.” Boston:
 1874. p. 11. The facsimile alluded to by Mr. Norton is reproduced here.

 [85] July 3, 1857, upon the vote of £23,165 for the National Gallery.

 [86] The late Mr. Ralph Nicholson Wornum, who succeeded Mr. Uwins as
 Keeper of the National Gallery in 1855, and retained that office till
 his death in 1878.

 [87] “The family of Darius at the feet of Alexander after the Battle
 of Issus,” purchased at Venice from the Pisani collection in 1857.
 Lord Elcho had complained in the course of the debate that the price,
 £13,650, paid for this picture, had been excessive; and in reply
 allusion was made to the still higher price (£23,000) paid for the
 “Immaculate Conception” of Murillo, purchased for the Louvre by
 Napoleon III., in 1852, from the collection of Marshal Soult.--Of
 the great Veronese, Mr. Ruskin also wrote thus: “It at once, to my
 mind, raises our National Gallery from a second-rate to a first-rate
 collection. I have always loved the master, and given much time to
 the study of his works, but this is the best I have ever seen.”
 (Turner Notes, 1857, ed. v., p. 89, note.) So again before the
 National Gallery Commission, earlier in the same year, he had said,
 “I am rejoiced to hear (of its rumored purchase). If it is confirmed,
 nothing will have given me such pleasure for a long time. I think
 it is the most precious Paul Veronese in the world, as far as the
 completeness of the picture goes, and quite a priceless picture.”

 [88] The present letter was written in reply to a criticism,
 contained in the _Literary Gazette_ of November 6, 1858, on Mr.
 Ruskin’s “Catalogue of the Turner Sketches and Drawings exhibited
 at Marlborough House 1857-8.” The subjects of complaint made by the
 _Gazette_ sufficiently appear from this letter. They were, briefly,
 first, the mode of exhibition of the Turner Drawings proposed by Mr.
 Ruskin in his official report already alluded to, pp. 78 and 80,
 note; and, secondly, two alleged hyperboles and one omission in the
 Catalogue itself.

 [89] The cloud-forms which have disappeared from the drawings may be
 seen in the engravings.

 [90] “Notes on the _oil_ pictures,” to be distinguished from the later
 catalogue of the Turner sketches and drawings with which this letter
 directly deals. See ante, p. 88, note.

 [91] By the way, you really ought to have given me some credit for
 the swivel frames in the desks of Marlborough House, which enable the
 public, however rough-handed, to see the drawings on both sides of the
 same leaf.[94]

 [92] The rest of this letter may, with the exception of its two last
 paragraphs, and the slight alterations noted, be also found in “The
 Two Paths,” Appendix iv., “Subtlety of Hand” (pp. 226-9 of the new,
 and pp. 263-6 of the original edition), where the words bracketed
 [sic] in this reprint of it are, it will be seen, omitted.

 [93] From a vignette design by Stothard of a single figure, to
 illustrate the poem “On a Tear.” (Rogers’ Poems, London, 1834 ed.)

 [94] The identical frames, each containing examples of the sketches
 in pencil outline to which the letter alludes, may be seen in the
 windows of the lower rooms of the National Gallery, now devoted to the
 exhibition of the Turner drawings.

 [95] Doubly emphasized in “The Two Paths,” where the words are printed
 thus: “_I still look with awe at the combined delicacy and precision

 [96] “The Two paths” reprint has “put in italics.”

 [97] The following note is here added to the reprint in “The Two
 Paths:” “A sketch, observe--not a printed drawing. Sketches are only
 proper subjects of comparison with each other when they contain about
 the same quantity of work: the test of their merit is the quantity
 of truth told with a given number of touches. The assertion in the
 Catalogue which this letter was written to defend was made respecting
 the sketch of Rome, No. 101.”

 [98] No. 45 was a “Study of a Cutter.” Mr. Ruskin’s note to it in the
 Catalogue is partly as follows: “I have never seen any chalk sketch
 which for a moment could be compared with this for soul and power....
 I should think that the power of it would be felt by most people; but
 if not, let those who do not feel its strength, try to copy it.” See
 the Catalogue under No. 45, as also under No. 71, referred to above.

 [99] In a letter to Mr. Norton written in the same year as this one
 to the _Literary Gazette_, Mr. Ruskin thus speaks of the value of
 these plates: “Even those who know most of art may at first look be
 disappointed with the Liber Studiorum. For the nobleness of these
 designs is not more in what is done than in what _is not_ done in
 them. Every touch in these plates is related to every other, and has
 no permission of withdrawn, monastic virtue, but is only good in
 its connection with the rest, and in that connection infinitely and
 inimitably good. The showing how each of these designs is connected
 by all manner of strange intellectual chords and nerves with the
 pathos and history of this old English country of ours, and with
 the history of European mind from earliest mythology down to modern
 rationalism and irrationalism--all this was what I meant to try and
 show in my closing work; but long before that closing I felt it to be
 impossible.”--Extract from a letter of Mr. Ruskin, 1858, quoted in the
 “List of Turner Drawings, etc.,” already mentioned, p. 5.

 [100] The _Literary Gazette_ of November 20, 1858, contains a reply
 to this letter, but as it did not provoke a further letter from Mr.
 Ruskin, it is not noticed in detail here.

 [101] There was at the date of this and the following letter an
 exhibition of Turner drawings at the South Kensington Museum. These
 pictures have, however, been since removed to the National Gallery,
 and the only works of Turner now at Kensington, are some half dozen
 oil paintings belonging to the Sheepshanks collection, and about the
 same number of water-color drawings, which form part of the historical
 series of British water-color paintings.

 [102] This refers to a letter signed “E. A. F.” which appeared in
 _The Times_ of October 19, 1859, advising the adoption of Mr. Gilbert
 Scott’s Gothic design for the Foreign Office in preference to any
 Classic design. The writer entered at some length into the principles
 of Gothic and Classic architecture, which he briefly summed up in
 the last sentence of his letter: “Gothic, then, is national; it is
 constructively real; it is equally adapted to all sorts of buildings;
 it is convenient; it is cheap. In none of these does Italian surpass
 it; in most of them it is very inferior to it.” See the letters on the
 Oxford Museum as to the adaptability of Gothic--included in Section
 vi. of these Letters on Art. With regard to the cheapness of Gothic,
 the correspondent of _The Times_ had pointed out that while it may be
 cheap and yet thoroughly good so far as it goes, Italian _must_ always
 be costly.

 [103] Hardly a debate. Lord Francis Hervey had recently (June 30,
 1876) put a question in the House of Commons to Lord Henry Lennox
 (First Commissioner of Works) as to whether it was the fact that many
 of Turner’s drawings were at that time stowed in the cellars of the
 National Gallery, and had never been exhibited. _The Daily Telegraph_
 in a short article on the matter (July 1, 1876) appealed to Mr. Ruskin
 for his opinion on the exhibition of these drawings.

 [104] Now I trust, under Mr. Poynter and Mr. Sparkes, undergoing
 thorough reform.{*}

 {*} Mr. Poynter, R.A., was then, as now, Director, and Mr. Sparkes
 Head Master, of the Art School at the South Kensington Museum.

 [105] For notes of these drawings see the Catalogue of the Turner
 Sketches and Drawings already mentioned--(_a_) The Battle of Fort
 Bard, Val d’Aosta, p. 32; (_b_) the Edinburgh, p. 30; and (_c_) the
 Ivy Bridge, Devon, p. 32.

 [106] I have omitted to add to my note (p. 84) on Mr. Ruskin’s
 arrangement of the Turner drawings a reference to his own account of
 the labor which that arrangement involved, and of the condition in
 which he found the vast mass of the sketches. See “Modern Painters,”
 vol. v., Preface, p. vi.

 [107] The Art Treasures Exhibition in 1857, being the year in which
 the lectures contained in the “Political Economy of Art” were
 delivered. (See “A Joy for Ever”--Ruskin’s Works, vol. xi. p. 80.)

 [108] “The Plains of Troy;”--see for a note of this drawing Mr.
 Ruskin’s Notes on his own “Turners,” 1878, p. 45, where he describes
 it as “one of the most elaborate of the Byron vignettes, and full of
 beauty,” adding that “the meaning of the sunset contending with the
 storm is the contest of the powers of Apollo and Athene;” and for the
 engraving of it, see Murray’s edition of Byron’s Life and Works (1832,
 seventeen volumes), where it forms the vignette title-page of vol.
 vii. For the Richmond and the Egglestone Abbey, also in the possession
 of Mr. Ruskin, see the above mentioned Notes, p. 29 (Nos. 26 and 27).
 The Langharne Castle was formerly in the possession of Mr. W. M. Bigg,
 at the sale of whose collection in 1868 it was sold for £451.

 [109] A misprint for “wares;” see next letter, p. 104.

 [110] Addressed to Mr. Ruskin by Mr. Collingwood Smith, and requesting
 Mr. Ruskin to state in a second letter that the remarks as to the
 effect of light on the water colors of Turner did not extend to water
 color drawings in general; but that the evanescence of the colors in
 Turner’s drawings was due partly to the peculiar vehicles with which
 he painted, and partly to the gray paper (saturated with indigo) on
 which he frequently worked. Mr. Ruskin complied with this request by
 thus forwarding for publication Mr. Collingwood Smith’s letter.

 [111] The references to _The Times_ allude to an article on the
 “Copies of Turner Drawings,” by Mr. William Ward, of 2 Church Terrace,
 Richmond, Surrey, which were then, as now, exhibited for sale in the
 rooms of the Fine Art Society.

 Of these copies of Turner, Mr. Ruskin says: “They are executed with
 extreme care under my own eye by the draughtsman trained by me for the
 purpose, Mr. Ward. Everything that can be learned from the smaller
 works of Turner may be as securely learned from these drawings. I
 have been more than once in doubt, seeing original and copy together,
 which was which; and I think them about the best works that can now be
 obtained for a moderate price, representing the authoritative forms
 of art in landscape.”--Extract from letter of Mr. Ruskin, written in
 1867. List of Turner Drawings, etc., shown in connection with Mr.
 Norton’s lectures. Boston, 1874, p. 9. (See also “Ariadne Florentina,”
 p. 221, note.)

 The following comment of Mr. Ruskin on one of Mr. Ward’s most recent
 copies is also interesting as evidence that the opinions expressed in
 this letter are still retained by its writer: “London, 20th March,
 1880.--The copy of Turner’s drawing of ‘Fluelen,’ which has been just
 completed by Mr. Ward, and shown to me to-day, is beyond my best hopes
 in every desirable quality of execution; and is certainly as good
 as it is possible for care and skill to make it. I am so entirely
 satisfied with it that, for my own personal _pleasure_--irrespective
 of pride, I should feel scarcely any loss in taking it home with
 me instead of the original; and for all uses of artistic example
 or instruction, it is absolutely as good as the original.--JOHN
 RUSKIN.”--The copy in question is from a drawing in the possession of
 Mr. Ruskin (see the Turner Notes, 1878, No. 70), and was executed for
 its present proprietor, Mr. T. S. Kennedy, of Meanwoods, Leeds.

 [112] “Italy,” a reputed Turner, lent by the late Mr. Wynn Ellis.
 No. 235 was “A Landscape,” with Cattle, in the possession of Lord

 [113] See also “Modern Painters,” vol. v. pp. 345-347, and “Lectures
 on Architecture and Painting,” pp. 181-188, where the character of
 Turner is further explained, and various anecdotes given in special
 illustration of his truth, generosity, and kindness of heart.

 [114] The book was also referred to in “Modern Painters,” vol. v. p.
 344, where Mr. Ruskin speaks of this “Life of Turner,” then still
 unpublished, as being written “by a biographer, who will, I believe,
 spare no pains in collecting the few scattered records which exist of
 a career so uneventful and secluded.”

 [115] Nearly eight years after Leech’s death on October 29, 1864.

 [116] The number of the _Architect_ in which this letter was
 printed contained two sketches from Mr. George’s “Etchings on the
 Mosel”--those, viz., of the Elector’s Palace, Coblentz, and of the
 interior of Metz Cathedral. The intention of the _Architect_ to
 reproduce these etchings had apparently been previously communicated
 to Mr. Ruskin, who wrote the present letter for the issue in which the
 etchings were to be given. Mr. George has since published other works
 of the same kind--_e.g._, “Etchings in Belgium,” “Etchings on the
 Loire” (see Mr. Ruskin’s advice to him at the end of this letter, p.

 [117] The reference must, I think, be to “Ariadne Florentina: Six
 Lectures on Wood and Metal Engraving given before the University of
 Oxford, Michaelmas Term, 1872,” and afterwards published, 1873-6. The
 lectures given in the year 1873 were upon Tuscan Art, now published in
 “Val d’Arno.”

 [118] The value of Rembrandt’s etchings is always in the inverse
 ratio of the labor bestowed on them after his first thoughts have
 been decisively expressed; and even the best of his chiaroscuros (the
 spotted shell, for instance) are mere child’s play compared to the
 disciplined light and shade of Italian masters.

 [119] This letter was written to Mr. H. Stacy Marks, A.R.A., in answer
 to a request that Mr. Ruskin would in some way record his impression
 of the Frederick Walker Exhibition, then open to the public. Frederick
 Walker died in June, 1875, at the early age of thirty-five, only four
 years after having been elected an Associate of the Royal Academy.

 [120] The “Hornby Castle” was executed, together with the rest of the
 “great Yorkshire series,” for Whitaker’s “History of Richmondshire”
 (Longman, 1823).--The picture of John Lewis here alluded to is
 described in Mr. Ruskin’s “Academy Notes,” 1856, No. II., p. 37.

1. “The Almshouse”--No. 52--called “The House of Refuge.” Oil on canvas.
A garden and terrace in quadrangle of almshouses; on left an old woman
and girl; on right a mower cutting grass. Exhibited R. A. 1872.

2. “The Old Gate”--No. 48--oil on canvas. Lady in black and servant with
basket coming through the gate of old mansion; four children at play at
foot of steps; two villagers and dog in foreground. Exhibited R. A.

3. “The Cottage Gardens”--No. 71, “The Spring of Life.” Water-color.
Lady in a garden with two children and a lamb; a cherry-tree in blossom.
Exhibited at the Water-Color Society, Winter 1866-7. See also Nos. 14
and 21.

4. “Ladies and Lilies”--No. 37, “A Lady in a Garden, Perthshire.”
Water-color. A lady seated on a knoll on which is a sun-dial; greyhound
on left; background, old manor-house. No. 67, “Lilies.” Water-color.
Lady in a garden watering flowers, chiefly lilies. Exhibited at the
Water-Color Society, Winter 1869-70 and 1868-9 respectively.

5. “The Chaplain’s Daughter”--No. 20, subject from Miss Thackeray’s
“Jack the Giant-killer.” Exhibited at the Water-Color Society, Summer

6. “Daughter of Heth,” by W. Black. No. 87. “Do ye no ken this is the
Sabbath?” Young lady at piano; servant enters hurriedly. (Study in black
and white, executed in 1872.)--[See vol. i. p. 41. “‘Preserve us a’,
lassie, do ye ken what ye’re doing? Do ye no ken that this is the
Sabbath, and that you’re in a respectable house?’ The girl turned round
with more wonder than alarm in her face: ‘Is it not right to play music
on Sunday?’”--(No. 131. Three more studies for the same novel.)

7. “The Old Farm Garden”--No. 33--Water-color. A girl, with cat on lawn,
knitting: garden path bordered by tulips; farm buildings in background.
Painted in 1871.

8. “Salmon-fishers”--No. 47--“Fisherman and Boy”--Water-color. Keeper
and boy on bank of river. Glen Spean. Salmon in foreground. Exhibited at
the Water-Color Society, Summer 1867.

9. Mushrooms and Fungi--No. 41--Water-color. Painted in 1873.

10. “Fishmonger’s Stalls”--Nos. 9 and 62 (not 952)--viz., No. 9, “A
Fishmonger’s Shop.” Water-color. Painted in 1873; and No. 62, also “A
Fishmonger’s Shop.” Water-color. Fishmongers selling fish; lady and boy
in costumes of about 1800. Exhibited at Water-Color Society, Winter
1872-3. (The “Tobias” of Perugino has been already alluded to, p. 44,

11. No. 68. “The Ferry.” Water-color. Sight size, 11 ¾ X 18 in. A ferry
boat, in which are two figures, a boatman and a lady, approaching a
landing-place; on the bank figures of villagers, and children feeding
swans. Exhibited at Water-Color Society, Winter 1870-71.]

 [122] In 1858 the Oxford Museum was in course of building, its
 architects being Sir Thomas Deane and Mr. Woodward, and its style
 modern Gothic, whilst amongst those chiefly interested in it were Dr.
 Acland (the Regius Professor of Medicine) and Mr. Ruskin. The present
 letter, written in June, 1858, was read by Dr. Acland at a lecture
 given by him in that summer “to the members of the Architectural
 Societies that met in Oxford” at that time. I am permitted to reprint
 the following passage from Dr. Acland’s preface to the printed
 lecture, as well as one or two passages from the lecture itself (see
 below, pp. 130 and 132): “Many have yet to learn the apparently simple
 truth, that to an Artist his Art is his means of probation in this
 life; and that, whatever it may have of frivolity to us, to him it
 is as the two or the five talents, to be accounted for hereafter. I
 might say much on this point, for the full scope of the word Art seems
 by some to be even now unrecognized. Before the period of printing,
 Art was the largest mode of permanently recording human thought; it
 was spoken in every epoch, in all countries, and delivered in almost
 every material. In buildings, on medals and coins, in porcelain and
 earthenware, on wood, ivory, parchment, paper and canvas, the graver
 or the pencil has recorded the ideas of every form of society, of
 every variety of race and of every character. What wonder that the
 Artist is jealous of his craft, and proud of his brotherhood?”--See
 “The Oxford Museum,” p. 4. The reader is also referred to “Sesame and
 Lilies,” 1871 ed. §§ 103-4.

 [123] See next letter, pp. 131 _seqq._

 [124] After reading this letter to his audience Dr. Acland thus
 continued: “The principles thus clearly enumerated by Mr. Ruskin are,
 on the main, those that animate the earnest student of Gothic. It is
 not for me especially to advocate Gothic Art, but only to urge, that
 if called into life, it should be in conformity to its own proper
 laws of vitality. If week after week, in my youth, with fresh senses
 and a docile spirit, I have drank in each golden glow that is poured
 by a Mediterranean sun from over the blue Ægæan upon the Athenian
 Parthenon,--if, day by day, sitting on Mars’ Hill, I have watched each
 purple shadow, as the temple darkened in majesty against the evening
 sky,--if so, it has been to teach me, as the alphabet of all Art, to
 love all truth and to hate all falsehood, and to kiss the hand of
 every Master who has brought down, under whatever circumstance, and in
 whatever age, one spark of true light from the Beauty and the subtle
 Law, which stamps the meanest work of the Ever living, Ever-working
 Artist.”--“The Oxford Museum,” pp. 56-7.

 [125] See “The Oxford Museum,” pp. 17-23. The following is a portion
 of the passage alluded to: “Without the Geologist on one side, and
 the Anatomist and Physiologist on the other, Zoology is not worthy
 of its name. The student of life, bearing in mind the more general
 laws which in the several departments above named he will have sought
 to appreciate, will find in the collections of Zoology, combined
 with the Geological specimens and the dissections of the Anatomist,
 a boundless field of interest and of inquiry, to which almost every
 other science lends its aid: from each science he borrows a special
 light to guide him through the ranges of extinct and existing animal
 forms, from the lowest up to the highest types, which, last and most
 perfect, but preshadowed in previous ages, is seen in Man. By the
 aid of physiological illustrations he begins to understand how hard
 to unravel are the complex mechanisms and prescient intentions of
 the Maker of all; and he slowly learns to appreciate what exquisite
 care is needed for discovering the real action of even an apparently
 comprehended machine. And so at last, almost bewildered, but not cast
 down, he attempts to scrutinize in the rooms devoted to Medicine,
 the various injuries which man is doomed to undergo in his progress
 towards death; he begins to revere the beneficent contrivances which
 shine forth in the midst of suffering and disease, and to veil his
 face before the mysterious alterations of structure, to which there
 seem attached pain, with scarce relief, and a steady advance, without
 a check, to death. He will look, and as he looks, will cherish hope,
 not unmixed with prayer, that the great Art of Healing may by all
 these things advance, and that by the progress of profounder science,
 by the spread among the people of the resultant practical knowledge,
 by stricter obedience to physiological laws, by a consequent more
 self-denying spirit, some disorders may at a future day be cured,
 which cannot be prevented, and some, perhaps, prevented, which never
 can be cured.”

 [126] Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg, the naturalist and author of
 many works, of which those on infusoria may be especially noted here.
 He was born in 1795, and in 1842 was elected Principal Secretary to
 the Berlin Academy of Science, which post he held till his death in
 1876. The late Sir Walter Calverley Trevelyan, Bart., will also be
 remembered in connection with the study of natural science, as well as
 for his efforts in philanthropy. He died in March, 1879. I have been
 unable to find any further information as to the prize mentioned by
 Mr. Ruskin, or as to the essay which obtained it.

 [127] Mr. Brodie, who succeeded his father as Sir Benjamin Brodie in
 1867, was appointed Professor of Chemistry at Oxford in 1855.

 [128] Sir Gardner Wilkinson’s book “On Color and the Diffusion of
 Taste” was published in 1858.

 [129] See note to p. 142.


 “The monks of Melrose made good kail On Friday, when they fasted.”

 The kail leaf is the one principally employed in the decorations of
 the abbey. (Original note to “The Oxford Museum,” p. 83.)

 [131] This engraving, which formed the frontispiece of “The Oxford
 Museum,” will be found facing the title page of the present volume,
 the original plate having proved in excellent condition. O’Shea was,
 together with others of his name and family, amongst the principal
 workmen on the building. The capital represents the following ferns:
 the common hart’s-tongue (scolopendrium vulgare), the northern
 hard-fern (blechnum boreale), and the male fern (filix mas).

 [132] A new armory was to be added to the Castle.

 [133] The _Literary Gazette_ of September 26, 1857, after quoting a
 great part of the previous letter, stated that the new armory was not
 to be built without all due regard to the preservation of the rock,
 and that there was therefore no real cause for alarm.

 [134] “Poems of the Fancy,” xiv. (1803). The quotation omits two lines
 after the fourth:

 “Who loved the little rock, and set Upon its head this coronet?”

 The second stanza then begins: “Was it the humor of a child?” etc.

 [135] The article on taverns occurred in the _Daily Telegraph_ of
 the 8th December, and commented on a recent meeting of the Licensed
 Victuallers’ Protection Society. There was also a short article upon
 drunkenness as a cause of crime in the _Daily Telegraph_ of December
 9--referred to by Mr. Ruskin in a letter which will be found in the
 second volume of this book. The article on castles concluded with an
 appeal for public subscriptions towards the restoration of Warwick
 Castle, then recently destroyed by fire.

 [136] The passage alluded to is partly as follows. “It happened also,
 which was the real cause of my bias in after-life, that my father
 had a real love of pictures.... Accordingly, wherever there was a
 gallery to be seen, we stopped at the nearest town for the night; and
 in reverentest manner I thus saw nearly all the noblemen’s houses in
 England; not indeed myself at that age caring for the pictures, but
 much for castles and ruins, feeling more and more, as I grew older,
 the healthy delight of uncovetous admiration, and perceiving, as soon
 as I could perceive any political truth at all, that it was probably
 much happier to live in a small house and have Warwick Castle to be
 astonished at, than to live in Warwick Castle, and have nothing to be
 astonished at; and that, at all events, it would not make Brunswick
 Square in the least more pleasantly habitable to pull Warwick Castle
 down. And, at this day, though I have kind invitations enough to visit
 America, I could not, even for a couple of months, live in a country
 so miserable as to possess no castles.”

 [137] In a second article upon the same subject the _Daily Telegraph_
 had expressed surprise at Mr. Ruskin’s former letter. “Who does not
 remember,” it wrote, “his proposal to buy Verona, so as to secure from
 decay the glorious monuments in it?”

 [138] This letter, it will be noticed, was written during the
 bombardment and a few days before the capitulation of Paris in 1871.

 [139] On Friday, March 8, 1872, entitled “Turner and Mulready--On
 the Effect of certain Faults of Vision on Painting, with especial
 reference to their Works.” The argument of the lecturer, and
 distinguished oculist, was that the change of style in the pictures of
 Turner was due to a change in his _eyes_ which developed itself during
 the last twenty years of his life. (See “Proceedings of the Royal
 Institution,” 1872, vol. vi., p. 450.)

 [140] “A History of the Gothic Revival.” By Charles L. Eastlake,
 F.R.I.B.A. London, Longman and Co., 1872.--In this work Mr. Eastlake
 had estimated very highly Mr. Ruskin’s influence, on modern
 architecture, whilst his reviewer was “disposed to say that Mr.
 Ruskin’s direct and immediate influences had almost always been in
 the wrong; and his more indirect influences as often in the right.”
 It is upon these words that Mr. Ruskin comments here, and to this
 comment the critic replied in a letter which appeared in the _Pall
 Mall Gazette_ of the 20th inst. The main portion of his reply was as
 follows: “The direct influences, then, which I had principally in
 my mind were those which had resulted in a preference for Venetian
 over English Gothic, in the underrating of expressional character in
 architecture, and the overrating of sculptured ornament, especially
 of a naturalistic and imitative character, and more generally in an
 exclusiveness which limited the due influence of some, as I think,
 noble styles of architecture. By the indirect influences I meant the
 habit of looking at questions of architectural art in the light of
 imaginative ideas; the recognition of the vital importance of such
 questions even in their least important details; and generally an
 enthusiasm and activity which could have resulted from no less a force
 than Mr. Ruskin’s wondrously suggestive genius.” To this explanation
 Mr. Ruskin replied in his second letter on the subject.

 [141] Mr. Street’s design for the New Law Courts was, after much
 discussion, selected, May 30, 1868, and approved by commission,
 August, 1870. The building was not, however, begun till February,
 1874, and the hope expressed in this letter is therefore,
 unfortunately, no expression of opinion on the work itself.

 [142] Denmark Hill.

 [143] See “Arabian Windows in the Campo Santa Maria, Mater Domini,”
 Plate ii. of the “Examples of the Architecture of Venice,” selected
 and drawn to measurement from the edifice, 1851. And see, too, “Stones
 of Venice,” vol. ii., chap, vii., Gothic Palaces.

 [144] This letter was originally received by “a Liverpool gentleman,”
 and sent inclosed in a long letter signed “An Antiquarian,” to the
 _Liverpool Daily Post_.

 [145] An obvious misprint for “stone-layers.”

 [146] Ribbesford Church was finally closed after the morning service
 on Sunday, July 15, 1877. It was then restored, and was reopened and
 reconsecrated on June 15, 1879. The _Kidderminster Times_ of the 21st
 inst. contained an account of a meeting of the Ribbesford parishioners
 to consider the restoration of the church. Hence the allusions in this
 letter to “copying” the traceries.

 [147] This circular, which was distributed as above noted during the
 winter of 1879-80, is here reprinted by Mr. Ruskin’s permission,
 in connection with the preceding letters upon restoration in
 architecture. See the Notes on Prout and Hunt, 1879-80, p. 71.

 [148] In February, 1878; see the “Turner Notes” of that year, and
 “Fors Clavigera,” New Series--Letter the Fourth, March, 1880.

 [149] Count Alvise Piero Zorzi, the author of an admirable and
 authoritative essay on the restoration of St. Mark’s (Venice, 1877).

 [150] This drawing (No. 28 in the Exhibition) was of a small portion
 of the west front.

 [151] “Stones of Venice,” vol. ii., chapter 4, of original edition,
 and vol. i., chapter 4, of the smaller edition for the use of

 [152] In the first edition of this circular this sentence ran as
 follows: “In the mean time, with the aid of the drawing just referred
 to, every touch of it from the building, and left, as the color dried
 in the morning light of the 10th May, 1877, some of the points chiefly
 insisted on in the ‘Stones of Venice,’ are of importance now.”

 [153] Printed “Pan-choreion” in the first edition.

 [154] For “state,” the first edition reads “mind,” and for “have
 become, in some measure, able,” it has “have qualified myself.” So
 again for “am at this moment aided,” it reads “am asked, and enabled
 to do so.”

 [155] Early in 1879

 [156] Printed in the second edition only.

 [157] The reference is to the closing paragraph of the Preface to
 the Notes, which runs as follows: “Athena, observe, of the Agora, or
 Market _Place_. And St. James of the Deep Stream or _Market River_.
 The Angels of Honest Sale and Honest Porterage; such honest porterage
 being the grandeur of the Grand Canal, and of all other canals,
 rivers, sounds, and seas that ever moved in wavering morris under
 the night. And the eternally electric light of the embankment of
 that Rialto stream was shed upon it by the Cross--know you that for
 certain, you dwellers by high-embanked and steamer-burdened Thames.
 And learn from your poor wandering painter this lesson--for the sum of
 the best he had to give you (it is the Alpha of the Laws of true human
 life)--that no city is prosperous in the sight of Heaven, unless the
 peasant sells in its market--adding this lesson of Gentile Bellini’s
 for the Omega, that no city is ever righteous in the Sight of Heaven
 unless the Noble walks in its street.”--Notes on Prout and Hunt, p. 44.

 [158] See the “Notes on Prout and Hunt,” p. 78.

 [159] See the _Standard_ (Dec. 3, 1879). M. Meduna was the architect
 who carried out the “restoration” of the South façade of the Cathedral.

 [160] The _Reader_ of October 15 contained an article “On the
 Conformation of the Alps,” to which in the following issue of the
 journal (October 22) Sir Roderick Murchison replied in a letter
 dated “Torquay, 16th October,” and entitled “On the Excavation of
 Lake Basins in solid rocks by Glaciers,” the possibility of which he
 altogether denied.

 [161] “On the Forms of the Stratified Alps of Savoy,” delivered on
 June 5, 1863. The subject was treated under three heads. 1. The
 material of the Savoy Alps. 2. The mode of their formation. 3. The
 mode of their subsequent sculpture. (See the report of the lecture in
 the “Proceedings of the Royal Institution,” 1863, vol. iv., p. 142. It
 was also printed by the Institution in a separate form, p. 4.)

 [162] In reply to this letter, the _Reader_ of November 19, 1864,
 published one from a Scottish correspondent, signed “Tain Caimbeul,”
 the writer of which declared that, whilst he looked on Mr. Ruskin
 “as a thoroughly reliable guide in all that relates to the external
 aspects of the Alps,” he could not “accept his leadership in questions
 of political economy or the mechanics of glacier motion.”

 [163] See below, “Forbes: his real greatness,” pp. 187 _seqq._, and
 the references given in the notes there.

 [164] Even in lower Apennine, “Dat sonitum saxis, et torto vertice

 {*} Virgil, Æneid, vii. 567.

 [165] See “Deucalion,” vol. i. p. 93.


 There twice a day the Severn fills; The salt sea-water passes by,
 And hushes half the babbling Wye, And makes a silence in the hills.
 TENNYSON, “In Memoriam,” xix.

 [167] See “Deucalion,” vol. i. p. 3 (Introduction).

 [168] Following this letter in the same number of the _Reader_ was
 one from the well-known geologist Mr. Joseph Beete Jukes, F.R.S.,
 who, writing from “Selly Oak, Birmingham, Nov. 22,” described himself
 as “the originator of the discussion.” He therefore was no doubt the
 author of the article in the _Reader_ alluded to above (p. 173, note).
 Mr. Jukes died in 1869.

 [169] The following is the sentence from Mr. Jukes’ letter alluded to:
 “Therefore when Mr. Ruskin says that ‘the forms of the Alps are quite
 visibly owing to the action of elevatory, contractile, and expansive
 forces,’ I would entreat him to listen to those who have had their
 vision corrected by the laborious use of chain and theodolite and
 protractor for many toilsome years over similar forms.”

 [170] The Battle of Sempach (?). See the letters on “The Italian
 Question,” at the beginning of the second volume.

 [171] To the effect that “the form of the ground is the result wholly
 of denudation.” For the “scheme,” consisting of ten articles, see the
 note 172 below.

 [172] Dr. William Buckland, the geologist, and at one time Dean of
 Westminster. He died in 1856. See “Fors Clavigera,” 1873, Letter 34,
 p. 19.

 [173] This and the following sentences allude to parts of the
 above-mentioned scheme. “The whole question,” wrote Mr. Jukes,
 “depends on the relative dates of production of the lithological
 composition, the petro-logical structure, and the form of the
 surface,” The scheme then attempts to sketch the “order of the
 processes which formed these three things,” in ten articles, of
 which the following are specially referred to by Mr. Ruskin: “1.
 The formation of a great series of stratified rocks on the bed of a
 sea.... 3. The possible intrusion of great masses of granitic rock” in
 more or less fluent state; and 6, 7, 8, 9, which dealt with alternate
 elevation and depression, of which there might be “even more than one

 [174] See Herodotus, ii. 92; Plato, Critias, 112; and Horace, Od. i.

 [175] The address was delivered by Mr. Jukes as President of the
 Geological Section of the British Association for the Advancement
 of Science, which met in 1862 at Cambridge. (See the Report of the
 Association, vol. xxxii. p. 54.)

 [176] Mr. Jukes’ letter had concluded by recommending English
 geologists to pursue their studies at home, on the ground that “a
 student, commencing to learn comparative anatomy, does not think it
 necessary to go to Africa and kill an elephant.” In the following
 number of the _Reader_ (Dec. 10) Mr. Jukes wrote, in answer to the
 present letter, that he had not intended to imply any hostility
 towards Mr. Ruskin, with whose next letter the discussion ended.

 [177] “M. A. C.” wrote “Concerning Stones,” and dealt--or attempted to
 deal--with “atmospheric pressure” in addition to the pressure of water
 alluded to in Mr. Ruskin’s letter of November 26. The letter signed
 “G. M.” was entitled “Mr. Ruskin on Glaciers;” see next note. Both
 letters appeared in the _Reader_ of December 3, 1864.

 [178] Not in the “last letter,” but in the last but one--see _ante_,
 p. 177, “A stone at the bottom of a stream,” etc. The parts of “G.
 M.’s” letter specially alluded to by Mr. Ruskin are as follows:

 “It is very evident that the nearer the source of the glacier, the
 steeper will be the angle at which it advances from above, and the
 greater its power of excavation.... Mr. Ruskin gets rid of the rocks
 and _débris_ on the under side of the glacier by supposing that they
 are pressed beyond the range of action in the solid body of the ice;
 but there must be a limit to this, however soft the matrix.”

 [179] See “Modern Painters,” Part v., chap. 13, “On the Sculpture
 Mountains,” vol. iv. p. 174.

 [180] In connection with the question of glacier-motion, Mr. Ruskin’s
 estimate of Professor Forbes and his work is here reprinted from
 Rendu’s “Glaciers of Savoy” (Macmillan, 1874), pp. 205-207. For a
 passage on the same subject which was reprinted in the “Glaciers
 of Savoy,” in addition to the new matter republished here, and for
 a statement of the course of glacier-science, and the relation of
 Forbes to Agassiz, the reader is referred to “Fors Clavigera,” 1873,
 Letter 34, pp. 17-26. The “incidental passage” consists of a review
 of Professor Tyndall’s “Forms of Water” (London, 1872), and the
 “contemptible issue” was that of his position and Forbes’ amongst
 geological discoverers.

 [181] George Forbes, B.A., Professor of Natural Philosophy in the
 Andersonian University, Glasgow, and editor of “The Glaciers of Savoy.”

 [182] This saying of Macaulay’s occurred in an address which, as
 M.P. for that city, he delivered at the opening of the Edinburgh
 Philosophical Institution, 1846 (Nov. 4). Forbes’ criticism of it
 and of the whole address may be found in a lecture introductory to
 a course on Natural Philosophy, delivered before the University
 of Edinburgh (Nov. 1 and 2, 1848), and entitled “The Danger of
 Superficial Knowledge;” under which title it was afterwards printed,
 together with a newspaper report of Macaulay’s address (London and
 Edinburgh, 1849). In the edition of Macaulay’s speeches revised by
 himself, the sentence in question is omitted, though others of a like
 nature, such as “The profundity of one age is the shallowness of the
 next,” are retained, and the whole argument of the address remains the
 same. (See Macaulay’s Works, 8 vol. ed., Longmans, 1866. Vol. viii. p.
 380, “The Literature of Great Britain.”) For a second mention of this
 saying by Mr. Ruskin, see also “Remarks addressed to the Mansfield Art
 Night Class,” 1873, now reprinted in “A Joy for Ever” (Ruskin’s Works,
 vol. xi. p. 201).

 The following are parts of the passage (extending over some pages) in
 Forbes’ lecture alluded to by Mr. Ruskin:

 “How false, then, as well as arrogant, is the self-gratulation
 of those, who, forgetful of the struggles and painful efforts by
 which knowledge is increased, would place themselves, by virtue of
 their borrowed acquirements, in the same elevated position with
 their great teachers--nay, who, perceiving the dimness of light and
 feebleness of grasp, with which, often at first, great truths have
 been perceived and held, find food for pride in the superior clearness
 of their vision and tenacity of their apprehension!” Then, after
 quoting some words from Dr. Whewell’s “Philosophy of the Inductive
 Sciences,” vol. ii. p. 525, and after some further remarks, the
 lecturer thus continued: “The activity of mind, the earnestness, the
 struggle after truth, the hopeless perplexity breaking up gradually
 into the fulness of perfect apprehension,--the dread of error, the
 victory over the imagination in discarding hypotheses, the sense of
 weakness and humility arising from repeated disappointments, the
 yearnings after a fuller revelation, and the sure conviction which
 attends the final advent of knowledge sought amidst difficulties
 and disappointments,--these are the lessons and the rewards of the
 discoverers who first put truth within our reach, but of which we
 who receive it at second hand can form but a faint and lifeless
 conception.” (See pp. 39-41 of “The Danger of Superficial Knowledge.”)

 [183] In the edition of Rendu’s “Glaciers of Savoy” already alluded to.

 [184] Forbes died Dec. 31, 1868; Agassiz in 1873; and De Saussure in

 [185] The letter from Forbes to Mr. Ruskin (dated December 2, 1864)
 was presumably elicited by the allusions to Forbes in Mr. Ruskin’s
 letter to the _Reader_ of November 26, 1874 (see _ante_, pp. 259 and
 263). “Advancing years and permanently depressed state of health,”
 ran the letter, “have taken the edge off the bitterness which the
 injustice I have experienced caused me during many years. But ... the
 old fire revives within me when I see any one willing and courageous,
 like you, to remember an old friend, and to show that you do so.”--The
 second letter speaks of the writer’s _“boyish enthusiasm”_ for
 Agassiz, an expression to which Mr. Ruskin appends this note: “_The
 italics are mine._ I think this incidental and naïve proof of the way
 in which Forbes had spoken of Agassiz to his class, of the greatest
 value and beautiful interest.--J. R.”

 [186] In the first edition of “Modern Painters” (vol. i. p. 330) it
 was stated that “the horizontal lines cast by clouds upon the sea are
 not shadows, but reflections;” and that “on clear water near the eye
 there can never be even the appearance of shadow.” This statement
 being questioned in a letter to the _Art Union Journal_ (November,
 1843), and that letter being itself criticised in a review of “Modern
 Painters” in the _Artist and Amateur’s Magazine_, p. 262 (December,
 1843), there appeared in the last-named periodical two letters upon
 the subject, of which one was from J. H. Maw, the correspondent of the
 _Art Union_, and the other--that reprinted here--a reply from “The
 Author of ‘Modern Painters.’”

 [187] The passages in “Modern Painters” referred to in this letter
 were considerably altered and enlarged in later editions of the work,
 and the exact words quoted are not to be found in it as finally
 revised. The reader is, however, referred to vol. i., part ii., § v.,
 chap. i., “Of Water as painted by the Ancients,” in whatever edition
 of the book he may chance to meet with or possess.

 [188] See the _Artist and Amateur’s Magazine_, p. 313, where the
 author of the letter, to which this is a reply, adduced in support of
 his views the following experiment, viz.: to put a tub filled with
 clear water in the sunlight, and then taking an opaque screen with a
 hole cut in it, to place the same in such a position as to intercept
 the light falling upon the tub. Then, he argued, cover the hole over,
 and the tub will be in shadow; uncover it again, and a patch of light
 will fall on the water, proving that water is _not_ “insusceptible of
 light as well as shadow.”

 [189] In the review of “Modern Painters” mentioned above.

 [190] Of the first edition of the first volume of “Modern Painters.”
 The size of the book (and consequently the paging) was afterwards
 altered to suit the engravings contained in the last three volumes.

 [191] It may be worth noting that the optical delusion above explained
 is described at some length by Mr. Herbert Spencer (“The Study of
 Sociology,” p. 191, London, 1874) as one of the commonest instances of
 popular ignorance.

 [192] Of course, if water be perfectly foul, like that of the Rhine or
 Arve, it receives a shadow nearly as well as mud. Yet the succeeding
 observations on its reflective power are applicable to it, even in
 this state.

 [193] It must always be remembered that there are two kinds of
 reflection,--one from polished bodies, giving back rays of light
 unaltered; the other from unpolished bodies, giving back rays of light
 altered. By the one reflection we see the images of other objects on
 the surface of the reflecting object; by the other we are made aware
 of that surface itself. The difference between these two kinds of
 reflection has not been well worked by writers on optics; but the
 great distinction between them is, that the rough body reflects most
 rays when the angle at which the rays impinge is largest, and the
 polished body when the angle is smallest. It is the reflection from
 polished bodies exclusively which I usually indicate by the term; and
 that from rough bodies I commonly distinguish as “positive light;” but
 as I have here used the term in its general sense, the explanation of
 the distinction becomes necessary. All light and shade on matter is
 caused by reflection of some kind; and the distinction made throughout
 this paper between reflected and positive light, and between _real_
 and pseudo shadow, is nothing more than the distinction between two
 kinds of reflection.

 I believe some of Bouguer’s[194] experiments have been rendered
 inaccurate--not in their general result, nor in _ratio_ of quantities,
 but in the quantities themselves--by the difficulty of distinguishing
 between the two kinds of reflected rays.

 [194] Pierre Bouguer, author of, amongst other works, the “Traité
 d’Optique sur la Gradation de la Lumière.” He was born in 1698, and
 died in 1758.

 [195] The mercury must of course be perfectly clean.

 [196] Among other points, I have not explained why water, though it
 has no shadow, has a dark side. The cause of this is the Newtonian law
 noticed below, that water weakens the rays passing through its mass,
 though it reflects none; and also, that it reflects rays from both

 [197] The review of “Modern Painters” had mentioned the Grotto of
 Capri, near Naples, as “a very beautiful illustration of the great
 quantity of light admitted or contained in water,” and on this Mr. J.
 H. Maw had commented.

 [198] The _London Review_ of May 4 contained a critique of the
 Exhibition of the Society of Water-colors, which included a notice
 of Mr. Duncan’s “Shiplake, on the Thames” (No. 52). In this picture
 the artist had painted a rainbow reflected in the water, the truth of
 which to nature was questioned by some of his critics. Mr. Ruskin’s
 was not the only letter in support of the picture’s truth.

 [199] The present letter is the earliest in date of any in these

 [200] See note to p. 182.

 [201] In the “Notes on the Turner Gallery at Marlborough House,”
 1856 (p. 23), Mr. Ruskin speaks of the “pale ineffable azure” of the
 gentian. The present letter was written in reply to one signed “Y. L.
 Y.” in the _Athenæum_ of February 7, 1857, in which this expression
 was criticised. In a subsequent issue of the same journal (February
 21) Mr. Ruskin’s querist denied the ignorance imputed to him, and
 still questioned the propriety of calling the gentian “pale,” without
 at the same time distinguishing the two species.

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

but their sensiblity to art=> but their sensibility to art {pg 27}

whatever space was sacrified to it=> whatever space was sacrificed to it
{pg 50}

Admitedly it contains the finest=> Admittedly it contains the finest {pg

thirteenth or fourteeth century=> thirteenth or fourteenth century {pg

and naturally eneugh=> and naturally enough {pg 165}

betwen their agencies=> between their agencies {pg 176}

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Arrows of the Chace, vol. 1/2 - being a collection of scattered letters published chiefly - in the daily newspapers 1840-1880" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.