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I know perfectly, and with absolute clearness, what I want and mean; but dare not say it publicly, yet.
Watt, Stephenson, Arkwright were not malefactors, but the good they gave has been abused by malefactors, and in the present state of general morality, every good would be turned to its opposite.
But the use of the steam-engine is not in daily life—but for violent and, generally, distant efforts.
May I, without of course name or place, print your letter, and answer it in Fors more deliberately than I can to-day?
Ever most truly yours,
One thing only let me say privately. Do not let us confuse the investigation of what should be with what we can do, or must suffer.
Let us ascertain, abstractedly, whether Interest, or manufactures, be right. After that comes the quite separate question, what am I to do with my Bank Stock, or you with your cotton-mill?
[Mr. Brooke replied that he by no means stood alone in the attitude described in his previous letter :
“ Indeed it is not so. Although we cannot by any means yet mark a first 'visibly secure stage' of improvement, still I can testify that apprehension of chaos and disaster has entered the minds of some whom I meet. Within the last ten days I have had said to me on the Manchester Exchange, in reference to the fearful anarchy of competition obtaining there: 'Sir, I fear we must admit that we all assemble here to do each other what injury we can.'. ..
“ It is the startling distance between what is right and what is immediately possible in direction of right--which you have, tenderly I feel, shown me to be separate considerations—that so much try one's fortitude."
Ruskin replied (no date) :)
MY DEAR SIR,-I am deeply interested by your last letter. For indeed I was thinking of you as almost alone. I have had no letters of the kind from any one else.
Have you read Carlyle's Shooting Niagara, carefully ? Every sentence of it is pregnant and intense.?
For me, I have always been misunderstood in the strangest way. People will have it that I want them to be moral and unbusinesslike, whereas my assertion always has been-you cannot be businesslike but by being moral.
Meet to injure each other, and you will all—be injured. Meet to help each other, and you will all-be helped.
That is absolute common-sense in all human business. Morality altogether apart.
Ever faithfully yours,
J. Ruskin. 1 (See Vol. XXVIII. p. 134.]
(Ruskin refers to this piece by Carlyle in Vol. XXII. p. 173, and Vol. XXIII. p. 131.]
There are three things necessary to be done in commerce to make it healthy
A. To make things always of the best, whether cheap or dear.
The manner of approach to these three perfections must be determined by each of us according to our means and position. Is it impossible to begin an association of merchants, more or less independent, who would at least observe B?
[Mr. Brooke replied :
“I think you would be surprised if you knew how often I for one have declared myself (to myself) willing to accept your invitation--Fors, May 1871, p. 22;' and before you wrote it I could envy a man I knew in Wales whom we caught once digging his own potatoes, with a volume of Essays open near him -a fair sample of his life. But whó is ever to restore truth and faithfulness between Capitalists and Labourers, to stay the rush of competition in Trade and its attendant crimes, to bring back again that pride of service, much of which I even have seen corrupted, and thus perhaps eventually to make England's face something cleaner again,' if we don't stand to our posts? God knows 1 don't feel any special mission for the task-none less; but I think if I were to shirk my share of it, I could never feel that He had given me the ease.
“ A friend of mine,* wealthy and highly gifted, has deliberately educated his sons with the injunction that they shall follow him in this work. He gives his life to it, and is at this time planning a new scheme whereby the interests of the Work. people shall be from the first legally involved in those of their Employers in a new Concern' which he is establishing for the purpose of trying the experiment
. I know that the idea of profit-accruing to himself does not enter his calculations further than is necessary to establish the success of his scheme and recommend its adoption to others. He has read Munera Pulveris, and I want, Sir, to modify your assertion that people will have it that you want them to be moral and unbusinesslike’-it may be true, probably is, of many, but other some think and feel differently about you. Surely you don't gauge public opinion of your utterances by the criticisms of the Daily Press, blatant pest that it has become !
“Your second precept for rendering commerce healthy—“To give and exact cash payments'-is in my business practised as nearly as is possible—the terms of the Írade being for purchase of cotton cash in ten days and for purchase of produce from cotton cash in fourteen days. These terms are rigid, and we know no 'paper' except bank-notes.
“But your first and third precepts-To make things always of the best, whether cheap or dear' and 'To let nobody live by Interest'
?-are hopeless indeed. How can we obey the first when often the demand is for poor quality (though I hope that's mending), and when our values are for ever interfered with by speculation totally unlawful?"
Ruskin replied (no date)
DEAR MR, BROOKE,-Please glance over these rough pages 1 written for the May Fors; and I'm sorry to send you such a scrawl, but can't write better now, in average work. If you will further criticize and question, I think we shall make it a useful number, between us.
Ever gratefully yours,
[Mr. Brooke continued the correspondence, and Ruskin replied, sending some more bits of Fors, Letter 44:-]
CORPUS CHRISTI COLLEGE, OXFORD,
DEAR MR. BROOKE,—I'm very sorry you're ill. Here are two bits you ought to have but the continuation has gone on continuing into too much to send. Tell me first what you feel about what you have—if you can read it.
Ever faithfully yours,
[In reply to a further letter from Mr. Brooke, Ruskin wrote :-)
BRANTWOOD, CONISTON, LANCASHIRE,
25th Feb. DEAR MR. BROOKE,—Thanks for all your letters. I fear you were a little hurt by the manner of mine, but I am obliged to think of you as representing your class—not as yourself. I did not reply to your last because you said you were unwell. There is no haste; I have plenty in hand. When you are ready to go on we must be very steady in keeping to one point at a time.
Nor is it a question whether you are making a bad article or not, but whether you are co-operating in their make. You don't forge notes; you only supply the forgers with good paper, which, luckily for you, they want thin. (That is the gist of your last letter, you know.)
But all these personal questions are irrelevant until the general points and laws are fixed.* When you are ready to go on, we will, it you please, begin with your admission is it not?) that machinery does not enable us
* Thus in your last note you say, “Don't stop building dwellings for the poor; as long as the bank will give you interest, that is a benefit at any rate.” Now, suppose the bank were a brothel on a vast scale, would you say the same of its profits? That I ought to go on building for the poor out of them? You must first determine what the bank is. Then, what I am to do.
· [The “rough pages” were for the most part printed in Fors, Letter 44, SS 8, 9, 13 (Vol. XXVIII. pp. 132-134, 137–138). For an additional passage, now printed from the MS., see the note in Vol. XXVIII. p. 132.]
to produce more food, but only to buy it of others. Which you think we have, or may have, a “call” to do.
This is quite a new element in the debate, and we must clear it up.
Are we to debate on the ground of Christianity ? or of science only. I do not care which, but let me know which, and let us keep to it.
Ever truly yours,
Parcel of MS. received all right. This is a private letter altogether, meant only to clear the way.
: [Here on Ruskin's side the correspondence ceased. He went abroad in March (see Vol. XXIII. p. xxx.).]
THE DEFINITION OF MONEY:
LETTERS TO THE REV. J. P. FAUNTHORPE 1
[See Letter 44, § 11 n. (Vol. XXVIII. p. 134)]
BRANTWOOD, CONISTON, LANCASHIRE,
December 18th, 1880. Dear MR. FAUNTHORPE,—You call me “ Master in private. I know you dare not confess me for one in public; but do you know accurately and thoroughly why you dare not?
In your article ? on Money you quote an entirely common and valueless bit of me, but you repeat deliberately the lie which I have been twenty years fighting against, with my entire heart and soul. You have much more than the power of mind necessary to understand the nature of that Lie. What is it that makes you shrink from using the mind God gave you, in this one direction ? The Lie is, apparently, a very innocuous one“Money is a Medium of Exchange."
You might find it out to be a lie merely by defining its words. Ask just what is a Medium? Having defined that, ask farther, when you give a penny for a loaf, where is the Medium ? You have a penny; somebody else has a loaf; you exchange the penny for the loaf. But where's the Medium? But you might find it out to be a lie by substituting the false definition in the most important passage in which the word Money is used in all human literature,
“The love of Money is the root of all Evil.” 3 Try it with: “The love of a Medium of Exchange is the root of all evil.” Will it still be true? Is it still “Word of God,” in evangelical sense ? Is it still word of a wise
· [The letters in this section of the Appendix are here reprinted from Letters from John Ruskin to Rev. I. P. Faunthorpe, M.A., edited by Thomas J. Wise, privately issued 1895, vol. i. pp. 21-41.]
· [The reference is to “Lesson XLIV.: Money” in Household Science: Readings in Necessary Knowledge for Girls and Young Women, edited by the Rev. J. P. Faunthorpe, Principal of Whitelands College, 1881. The Lesson begins (p. 391) with the statement “ Money is the medium of exchange.” The “entirely common and valueless bit” of Ruskin (quoted on p. 397) is from Time und Tide, § 18 (Vol. XVII. p. 334): “whether a shilling a day be good pay or not, depends wholly on what a 'shilling's worth' is,” etc.] 3 (1 Timothy vi. 10.)