On the Old Road, Vol. 2 (of 2) - A Collection of Miscellaneous Essays and Articles on Art and Literature
by John Ruskin
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[Footnote 9: Published by the Arundel Society (1872), together with a chromo-lithograph after a drawing by Herr Gnauth.—ED.]

[Footnote 10:

D.M. Gerardo Bolderio sui temporis Physicorum Principi Franciscus et Matthaeus Nepotes P.P.]

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

[Footnote 14: See Arrows of the Chace.]


(See ante, p. 101.—ED.)

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


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

Of the 12th century.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Painted last summer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. The Nativity.

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

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

5. The Crucifixion.

6. The Resurrection.

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

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

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

Drawn of its actual size, excellently.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sketched in 1852.

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

Beautifully drawn by Mr. Burgess.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Characteristic of the finest later treatment of flowing foliage.

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

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

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

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

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

Showing the pierced portions, and their treatment.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(43.) Piazza de' Signori, Verona.

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

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

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

Exquisite in floral sculpture, and finish of style.

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

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

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

Very noble, and typical of the pure style.

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

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

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

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

(50.) Madonna. (John Bellini.)

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

PISA, 30th April, 1872.


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

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



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

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

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

OXFORD, November 27, 1875.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

[Footnote 18: The Monthly Packet.—ED.]



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRANTWOOD, 22nd June, 1876.


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

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


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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRANTWOOD, 28th June, 1883.


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

[Footnote 22: See "Art of England."]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

J. R.[26]

March, 1834.


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

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

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


[Footnote 26: In the number of the magazine in which this note appeared was an article by "E. L." on the perforation of a leaden pipe by rats, upon which, in a subsequent number (Vol. vii., p. 592), J. R. notes as follows: "E. S. has been, surely, too inattentive to proportions: there is an inconsistency in the dimensions of a leaden pipe about 1-1/4 in. in external diameter, with a bore of about 3/4 in. in diameter; thus leaving a solid circumference of metal varying from 1/2 in. to 3/4 in. in thickness.—J. R., Sept. 1834."—ED.]


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

J. R.

March, 1834.

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

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

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

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

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

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