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Now I only myself understand the beginning and end of that Psalm, and have not the slightest notion what all the middle of it means. It is very fine, no doubt, if we take it as a description of a storm; and I have before now expatiated on it as such, in Modern Painters, but I don't see what clouds, or hail or lightning, have to do with the rest of the Psalm; it having certainly been by none of them that God had discomfited Saul; and neither had David himself anywise rejoiced over that discomfiture. I leave therefore the ten verses of the mid-Psalm as absolutely enigmatic and useless, for the present, but from the first to the seventh and from the seventeenth to end, commend them to your attention, as in all literalness what according to your truth and usefulness you will be able one day to say for yourself.
And of the first six verses, I will at once translate from Vulgate and Septuagint more accurately for you :
“I will love thee, O Lord, my Fortitude.
“ The Lord is my Firmament, and my refuge, and my Deliverer. My God is my helper, and I will hope in Him; He is the Holder of Shield above me, and the horn of my safety, and the taker up of my battle. Praising, I will call on the Lord.”
Now, you see I have written Fortitude instead of strength. Not because it is a longer or more handsome word, but a quite different word. Ang impious lout may be strong. But only a man who loves God and has obeyed His law can have Fortitude.
Also, you see I have written Firmament instead of rock. That makes a considerable difference. For in the first chapter of Genesis you have the word puzzling you as if it never occurred anywhere else ; and it is entirely proper for you to know that the word does occur again here, and has nothing to do with the word used of the Rock which Moses struck, or with St. Peter.
“Then the Heavens are telling the Glory of God,
And the Firmament shows His Doing.” Now, what Firmament have you got to show for yourselves? Can you make so much as a brick? You are poor weak things. Grasshoppers
. Yes, and you hope to hop to heaven, do you, and whistle and eat yourselves into eternal life and the Glory of God?
1 [In the chapter on "The Firmament”: see Vol. VI. pp. 109, 110.] 2 (Adjutor in the Vulgate ; imepao TLOTńs in the LXX.]
(Psalms xix. 1: compare the title, Cæli Enarrant, given to one of Ruskin's sets of reprints from Modern Painters (Vol. III. p. lxiii.).]
The absurdity of the sentence as it stands (with “whole" italicised too) I leave to your own comments after reflection and repentance. But I must definitely show you the inconsistency of what you meant by it, with the “religion you so ardently advocate. You say, in your account of your birth to the light of it (p. 863 8) that "somehow you found yourself thinking that a religious life meant conscious devotion to human welfare.” (In other words, you did not at that time know so much as the proper scholarly use of the words religion and philanthropy.) At page 869 you say: "Our religion means the devotion of our life to the supreme Master of our life.” Curious to know who this may be, I wade through four more pages of gossip, to the statement (p. 874) that the word Humanity centres our reverence in that which is itself homogeneous—"a real unity, which is also moral, sympathetic, and benevolent.”
Now, my dear friend, I doubt not that the word Humanity does all this and more for you; but when you come to know something of that whole of life which you suppose so summarily comprehensible, you will find that it can do nothing of the sort for other people. Some thirty years ago, in my first work for Turner, I had with sorrow to myself to expose the good old chevalier Bunsen's illogical Trinity of God, Man, and Humanity, and did so by requesting him to consider instead the Trinity of Man, Dog, and Canineness. Using now, as I always find it best to do, an English word for the Latin, and calling this Trinity the Trinity of Man, Dog, and Dogity, suppose I was to be told by some of my lady friends whose religion is Lap-dogity, that the word Lap-dogity centred their reverence in that which was itself homogeneous, a real Unity which was also moral, sympathetic, and benevolent: would you not instantly feel it necessary to observe to them, that the reverend, moral, sympathetic and benevolent homogenesis of lap-dogity was absolutely dependent on the much more reverend,
· [This passage, printed from unheaded sheets of MS. at Brantwood, clearly formed part of the first draft of the reply to Mr. Harrison in Letter 66.] • [For the reference here, see note on page 568, below.]
is that of vol. 27 of the Contemporary Review, containing Mr. Harrison's article on “Humanity” (see Vol. XXVIII. pp. 614, 619 nn.). ] • [See Appendix II. to vol. iii. of Modern Painters (Vol. V. pp. 424-425).]
moral, sympathetic, and benevolent homogenesis of ladyhood, and that if the lady were nothing without a lap-dog to adore, the lap-dog would also be nothing without a lady to adore him. Now the question which is vital for the Dog's reverence, namely, that he should have a mistress, is also vital to the man's, that he should have a master.1
[The published correspondence between Ruskin and Mr. Harrison was accompanied by private letters. Several of Ruskin's, placed at the disposał of the editors by Mr. Harrison, are subjoined.]
BRANTWOOD, CONISTON, LANCASHIRE,
1st June, "76. MY DEAR HARRISON,-1 did not think Fors would have kept its time this month, or should before have told you that I had written a letter to you in the course of it, which I trust you will not think done in unkindly feeling, but which nevertheless expresses some condition of antagonism between us in a way which I thought necessary, for many reasons, too long to enter into. If you care to make any answer, and the questions put are entirely serious on my part, you shall of course have open pages, and if I think the answer forcible and interesting, full type print. But probably some private correspondence may prepare the way best for what is to be public on either side. Only, in every case, believe me,
Most truly yours,
BRANTWOOD, CONiston, LANCASHIRE,
8th June, 1876. MY DEAR HARRISON,—I was very glad of your kind letter from the shores of Solent, and I trust you will find nothing in the paper, after you have time to read it, to make you at all waver in your trust in its being done in good feeling There is one somewhat insolent expression about your not knowing good traceries,3 which may seem gratuitous, or ill founded (for this pour very letter about Salisbury, Romsey, and the rest, means true interest in architecture). But if you ever took up the subject, or any other branch of great art, so as to know thoroughly the difference between the designer of Salisbury and Mr. Scott, or between Titian and Mr. Leighton,t your constant sense of the degradation of the existing human intellect would
1 (Compare Letter 69, § 16 (Vol. XXVIII. p. 701).] 2 Letter 66, $S 9–15 (Vol. XXVIII. pp. 618-625).) 3 Letter 66, § 11 (ibid., p. 620).]
• Mr. Harrison had doubtless made some reference to Leighton's fresco (1866) of «« The Wise and Foolish Virgins” in the church at Lyndhurst.]
become so horrible to you that you could not think of any general conditions of development, but only of the immediate causes of the intellectual ruin.
But besides this, the unconsciousness in your paper of the misery of the
persons who used to believe truly in a personal Deity, and now cannot find him any more, and you therefore resting satisfied in such a system as that which your paper metaphorically supports as an equivalent for Religion, is the real reason of my attacking the paper. And some day I shall go on to that, but was not up to it in this Fors. The usury questions are of course most earnest, pressing, and practical.
Ever affectionately yours,
BRANTWOOD, CONISTON, LANCASHIRE,
19th June. MY DEAR HARRISON,,I wish I had time to answer your kind and tender private letter, but it is impossible. The publicone 2 I fear must be answered somewhat haughtily, but there is no time to ask you to reconsider it; only, please tell me if you object to the insertion of letters of reference to the paragraphs that have to be commented on (as always in Fors correspondence). If so, I must put them at the side, bringing the letter into narrower column of type.
Ever affectionately yours,
BRANTWOOD, Coniston, LANCASHIRE. MY DEAR HARRISON,—I am very deeply touched by your to-day's letter, and am, in consequence of it, going to pray you to permit me to withhold the one intended for publication till you have reconsidered it, and until we each understand the other better. I had no conception of your depth of feeling; you have none of my modes of using language, nor, therefore, of the extreme difficulty of our conversing at all; we are simply fighting at present about the black and white shield.
I can say no more to-day—but this only, that I cannot understand how, with the feeling of regard to me that you have always shown-and the far more flattering estimate of me than I thought you had formed, which you now express you never either wrote to me as a friend, or attacked me as a foe, for those sayings which you think so deadly and blasphemous in Pors. If I had ever been taught anything true and of much value to me by a man whom I regarded as a friend, I should have been earnest to plead with him against what I felt to be any horrible error in his public work.
Why have you let me go on, and never either supported me, in my war with the iniquity of England, or corrected me, in my own?
1 [See Letter 66, § 14 (p. 624). ]
• (Printed in Letter 67, § 24 (pp. 662-663). Ruskin's answer followed, pp. 663-664.]
I am stupid and tired to-day. I have a thousand things to say, of which the first is-forgive me for not publishing your public letter, and have patience with me. The second is, that with such earnestness as I find yours to be, and know my own to be, it must be possible for the one of us who is wrong to be shown that he is so by the other. And we can't be both right.
Ever affectionately yours,
BRANTWOOD, CONISTON, LANCASHIRE,
DEAR HARRISON,—I was obliged to publish your letter after all, for I wanted the usury bit; 1 and besides—there was some nice little game in it otherwise useful. You will perhaps get to understand me a little better, some day.
Always affectionately yours,
BRANTWOOD, Coniston, LANCASHIRE. My dear HARRISON,—You won't be able to stop at this point of the talk-I did not put you into Fors to let you go so easily. You will have to answer for your creed, or else let it be what you call “reviled," to an extent which, all I can say is, I wouldn't stand if I were you;
but then I'm not you. You know I have not touched on what you call your religion yet. And I am going to attack you, not at all for what you believe, but for mere impertinence and falseness of language--for bad writing, in short—which I abhor as I do bad painting; and do verily, whether you think it or not, know something about the causes and kinds of. When, for instance, you talk of a man's being acquainted with the whole of life and thoughts (when no living being yet ever knew so much as his own life and thought, let alone his wife's, or his dog's, though with him always), I don't dispute or debate about the saying, as you mean it but I attack you for saying what you don't mean, and never could for a moment have meant. So also I shall attack you, not for professing Positivism, but for not knowing the meaning of the word Positive, and
1 (Compare Ruskin's introductory remarks in Letter 67, § 24 (pp. 661-662).) 2 (See Letter 67, § 24 and § 25 (Ruskin's note b); pp. 662, 663.)
3 [For Mr. Harrison's remark, see Vol. XXVIII. p. 663; for Ruskin's comment, p. 664 (note h), and, above, p. 88 n. A letter (July 1876) to Mr. Girdlestone (for whom, see Vol. XXVIII. pp. 555, 575, 606) refers to the same passage :
“You have a way of always bringing out what snappishness is in me in spite of our general harmony of thought. That sentence about the whole of life and thought' could only have been written by a man who really knows nothing. I could puzzle Harrison, Comte, or the wisest of encyclopædists with the first dead twig 1 snapped from a tree, or the first word I read from a wise man's saying: they know neither Death nor Life."]