Abbildungen der Seite

ture; and yet, with his usual boldness and disregard of consequences to himself personally, he launched forth into a com plete tirade against the Greek Architecture of that beautiful city. No doubt Mr. Ruskin remembered with some asperity the castigations of the Edinburgh Reviewers, and knowing that he was now strong enough to chastise the chastisers, he laid it on without mercy. Yet he is too earnest and too honest a man to say one word that he does not firmly believe to be for the advancement of noble Art.

The Fourth Volume of “Modern Painters” is one of his ablest works. His versatile mind here grapples with Science as successfully as it has hitherto done with Art. Among the Alps and their glaciers, he would have been a fit companion for the learned Guyot.

In pursuit of his investigations he bad stood “where the black thundercloud was literally dashing itself in his face, while the blue hills seen through its rents were thirty miles away.”

Indefatigable in the pursuit of that branch of Art, which “in all his lovings is the love,” Mr. Ruskin has lately written a book for young persons, entitled, “The Elements of Drawing, in three Letters to Beginners.” He always writes con amore, but never more so than in this valuable little treatise. Mr. Ruskin is not only a practical artist, but he has also had much experience in teaching, being employed at present as head-teacher of a class in Drawing, in the Working Men's College, 45 Great Ormond Street, London. . “The Political Economy of Art,” the last published work by Mr. Ruskin, is the substance (with additions) of two Lectures delivered at Manchester, July 10th and 13th, 1857, The great “ Art Treasures Exhibition,” at Manchester, had brought together a splendid collection of pictures from the galleries, public and private, of the British kingdom, and it was a fine opportunity for Mr. Ruskin to address the lovers of art in behalf of artists and working-men. He did so, with wisdom, justice, and deep feeling; it is to be hoped that the influence of those lectures will not be confined to his own country.


As a Christian Philosopher, Mr. Ruskin deservedly ranks with the “judicious” Hooker, the eloquent Jeremy Taylor, and the “divine” Herbert. A devout spirit animates and inspires all his works. In the lowly cottage and the lofty cathedral, in the smiling valley and in the sublime mountaintop, he has an ever-realizing sense of the presence of God; and acknowledges that divine presence, not with light words, but with words of solemn import ;—not as the God of Nature alone, but as the Almighty Father and Friend revealed in the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ.

The most striking characteristic of Mr. Ruskin, next to his deep religious sentiments, is his intense love of Nature :

“Where rose the mountains, these to him were friends;

Where rolled the ocean, thereon was his home;
Where a blue sky and glowing clime extends,

He had the passion and the power to roam;
The desert, forest, cavern, breaker's foam,

Were unto him companionship; they spoke
A mutual language, clearer than the torne

Of his land's tongue, which he would oft forsake
For Nature's pages, glassed by sunbeams on the lako."

Mr. Ruskin furnishes his readers with a lens through which all natural objects are glorified; the sky assumes new beauty

-the clouds are decked with wondrous magnificence,-and even each individual tree excites curiosity and intense admiration. As he exults over them, we are ready to exclaim, with one of our own eloquent writers,—“What a thought that was, when God thought of a tree !"

It is a rare and delightful privilege to know exactly how the love of the Beautiful in Nature has been developed in any one human being; more especially in a many-sided being, such as John Ruskin. He has himself given us this privilege, for which we owe him many thanks, in the following charming morsel of philosophical autobiography:

“I cannot, from observation, form any decided opinion as to the extent in which this strange delight in nature influences the hearts of young persons in general; and, in stating what has passed in my own mind, I do not mean to draw any posi. tive conclusion as to the nature of the feeling in other children; but the inquiry is clearly one in which personal experience is the only safe ground to go upon, though a narrow one; and I will make no excuse for talking about myself with reference to this subject, because, though there is much egotism in the world, it is often the last thing a man thinks of doing,—and, .though there is much work to be done in the world, it is often the best thing a man can do,—to tell the exact truth about the movements of his own mind; and there is this farther reason, that, whatever other faculties I may or may not possess, this gift of taking pleasure in landscape I assuredly possess in a greater degree than most men; it having been the ruling pas. sion of my life, and the reason for the choice of its field of labor.

“ The first thing which I remember as an event in life, wao being taken by my nurse to the brow of Friar's Crag on Derwent water; the intense joy, mingled with awe, that I had in looking through the hollows in the mossy roots, over the crag, into the dark lake, has associated itself more or less with all twining roots of trees ever since. Two other things I remember, as, in a sort, beginnings of life ;-crossing Shapfells (being let out of the chaise to run up the hills), and going through Glenfarg, near Kinross, in a winter's morning, when the rocks were hung with icicles; these being culminating points in an early life of more travelling than is usually indulged to a child. In such journeyings, whenever they brought me near hills, and in all mountain ground and scenery, I had a pleasure, as early as I can remember, and continuing till I was eighteen or twenty, infinitely greater than any which has been since possi. ble to me in anything; comparable for intensity only to the joy of a lover in being near a noble and kind mistress, but no more explicable or definable than that feeling of love itself. Only thus much I can remember, respecting it, which is important to our present subject.

“ First: it was never independent of associated thought. Almost as soon as I could see or hear, I had got reading enough to give me associations with all kinds of scenery; and mountains, in particular, were always partly confused with those of my favorite book, Scott's Monastery; so that Glenfarg and all other glens were more or less enchanted to me, filled with forms of hesitating creed about Christie of the Clint Hill, and the monk Eustace; and with a general presence of White Lady everywhere. I also generally knew, or was told by my father and mother, such simple facts of history as were necessary to give more definite and justifiable association to other scenes which chiefly interested me, such as the ruins of Lochleven and Kenilworth; and thus my pleasure in mountains or ruins was never, even in earliest childhood, free from a certain awe and melancholy, and general sense of the mean. ing of death, though in its principal influence entirely rating and gladdening.

“Secondly: it was partly dependent on contrast with a very simple and unamused mode of general life; I was born in Lon. don, and accustomed, for two or three years, to no other pros. pect than that of the brick walls over the way; had no brothers, nor sisters, nor companions; and though I could always make myself happy in a quiet way, the beauty of the mountains had an additional charm of change and adventure which a country-bred child would not have felt.

“Thirdly: there was no definite religious feeling mingled with it. I partly believed in ghosts and fairies; but supposed that angels belonged entirely to the Mosaic dispensation, and cannot remember any single thought or feeling connected with them. I believed that God was in heaven, and could hear me and see me; but this gave me neither pleasure nor pain, and I seldom thought of it at all. I never thought of nature as God's work, but as a separate fact or existence.

“Fourthly: it was entirely unaccompanied by powers of reflection or invention. Every fancy that I had about nature was put into my head by some book; and I never reflected about anything till I grew older; and then, the more I reflected, the less nature was precious to me: I could then make myself happy, by thinking, in the dark, or in the dullest scenery; and the beautiful scenery became less essential to my pleasure.

“Fifthly: it was, according to its strength, inconsistent with every evil feeling, with spite, anger, covetousness, discontent, and every other hateful passion; but would associate itself deeply with every just and noble sorrow, joy, or affection. It had not, however, always the power to repress what was inconsistent with it; and, though only after stout contention, might at last be crushed by what it had partly repressed. And as it only acted by setting one impulse against another, though it had much power in moulding the character, it had hardly any

« ZurückWeiter »