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trial called forth a bitter, but not unamusing, brochure by Whistler, entitled Whistler v. Ruskin: Art and Art Critics ; afterwards included in his book The Gentle Art of Making Enemies.
But better than anything in Whistler's pamphlet was a remark which he made when under cross-examination. “Can you tell me,” asked the AttorneyGeneral, “how long it took you to knock off that Nocturne ?” “Two days.” “The labour of two days, then, is that for which you ask two hundred guineas ?” “No; I ask it for the knowledge of a lifetime.”
Burne-Jones, on whose evidence Ruskin chiefly relied, had been placed in a position of much delicacy and difficulty. Whistler was also his friend, and the passage in Fors, which formed the subject of the action, was practically a comparison between Whistler's work and his own.
He felt strongly, however, that Ruskin was justified in asserting that good workmanship was essential to a good picture, and in finding this quality absent from the pictures in question. Ruskin's letters show how much he relied on Burne-Jones, and how grateful he was:
“BRANTWOOD, November 2 (1878).-) gave your name to those blessed lawyers as chief of men to whom they might refer for anything which in their wisdom they can't discern unaided concerning
But I commended them in no wise and for no cause whatsoever to trouble or tease you ; and neither in your case, nor in that of any other artist, to think themselves justified in asking more than may enable them to state the case in court with knowledge and distinctness.”1
“BRANTWOOD, November 28.- I'm very grateful to you for speaking up, and Arthur (Severn) says you looked so serene and dignified that it was a sight to see. I don't think you will be sorry hereafter that you stood by me, and I shall be evermore happier in my serene sense of your truth to me, and to good causes—for there was more difficulty in your appearing than in any one else's, and I'm so glad you looked nice and spoke so steadily."
The result of the trial gave satisfaction to neither side. The damages awarded to Whistler were contemptuous; and the judge had not given the plaintiff costs. Each side was thus left to pay its own costs, and Ruskin found himself mulcted in a sum of £400 as the price of his criticism, which, whether sound or mistaken, was at any rate
· This letter has been printed in Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones, vol. ii.
disinterested. Friends and admirers subscribed this sum, and sent it to Ruskin with an “expression of their opinion that your life-long, honest endeavours to further the cause of art should not be crowned by your being cast in the costs arising out of that action.” Ruskin acknowledged the gift gratefully, but the result of the trial rankled in his mind, and letters to Dean Liddell show this was the cause which finally decided him to resign his Professorship at Oxford:
“BRANTWOOD, November 28, 1878.-Although my health has been lately much broken, I hesitated in giving in my resignation of my Art-Professorship in the hope that I might still in some imperfect way have been useful at Oxford. But the result of the Whistler trial leaves me no further option. I cannot hold a Chair from which I have no power of expressing judgment without being taxed for it by British Law. I do not know in what formal manner my resignation should be signified, but thought it best that the decisive intimation of it should be at once placed in your hands."
" BRANTWOOD (no date).—It is much better that the resignation of the office should be distinctly referred to its real cause, which is virtually represented by this Whistler trial. It is not owing to ill-health that I resign, but because the Professorship is a farce, if it has no right to condemn as well as to praise. It has long been my feeling that nobody really cared for anything that I knew ; but only for more or less lively talk from memor else drawing-master's work — and neither of these were my proper business."
Ruskin himself wrote, and carefully preserved, some remarks on the action. These are now printed in an Appendix (pp. 585-587), together with a report of the trial (pp. 580-584).
The publication of Fors Clavigera was resumed some fourteen months after these events, but after three more Letters had appeared it was again interrupted by a further serious illness (in the spring of 1881). In May 1883 the book was once more resumed, and carried to its conclusion at Christmas 1884. In these later Letters Ruskin succeeded in keeping clear of that “blameful work” which excited him unduly, and they are among the most interesting and charming of the series. We need not here anticipate the story of his life after 1878, which will be found in a later Introduction, but one or two notes may be given in special connexion with Fors.
One of the Letters (92) is entitled “Ashestiel,” and gives Ruskin's impressions, with some fine descriptive passages, of the Scott country.
These were the result of a journey in September and October 1883, during which he had spent a couple of days as the guest of Lord Reay at Laidlawstiel. An account of this visit by a fellow-guest has been printed by Grant-Duff:
“Mr. Ruskin (wrote Mr. Rutson to Grant-Duff) came to Laidlawstiel for two nights after I wrote to you. I was delighted with his courtesy and charming manner and his eloquence. We went to Ashestiel. You should have seen the reverent way in which he approached, with his hat off, an old man who had worked for Scott, and how he expressed his sense of the honour of seeing a man who had known Scott, and how the sense of his having known Scott must make the man himself very happy. All this, said in a low and rich tone of Ruskin's beautiful voice, while he stood slightly bowed, made a memorable little picture, the man standing in his doorway, and Ruskin just outside the cottage. . . . In the afternoon we partly drove and partly walked to Traquhair, getting our first view of it from outside the great gates, looking down the avenue guarded by the stone bears. From nearer at hand, Ruskin made a sketch of the house, which he declares (we not dissenting) to be a true work of art, faithful to the genius of the place, towers, height and pitch of roof, size and mutual relation of windows, and strength of material—all harmonising with each other and suited to the need of its inhabitants and to its situation among Scottish hills.”
A feature of the later Letters of Fors (91, 93, 94, 95, and 96) is the inclusion of drawings by Kate Greenaway. Ruskin had made her acquaintance in 1882, and when these drawings began to appear in Fors, the acquaintance had ripened into warm friendship.
A large collection of Ruskin's letters to Kate Greenaway will be found in a later volume, but one is given in this place because it refers to the headpiece of Fors, Letter 93. It is dated December 26, 1883 :
“ I shan't go to sleep over your note to-day.
“But I have no words, any more than if I was asleep, to tell you how marvellous I think these drawings. No one has ever done anything equal to them in pure grace of movement-no one in exquisiteness of dainty design. I tremble now to ask you to draw in any other way.
“ As for the gift of them, I had never such a treasure given me, in my life—but it is not for me only. I am sure that these drawings will be [valued] endlessly and everywhere if I can get them engraved the least rightly—the sight of them alters one's thoughts of all the world.
· Notes from a Diary, 1881-1886, vol. i. pp. 186–187.
“ The little beauty with the note, alone, would have made a Christmas for me. "I hope you will like the use I've made of one of
little dance-maidens. I think her glory of simplicity comes well alone.” 1 The Appendix to this volume contains additional passages from the manuscript of Fors Clavigera, and letters relating to the books. It has been noticed already ? how greatly Ruskin's correspondence was increased by the publication of Fors. Readers, who were interested in one aspect or another of his schemes, wrote to him in remonstrance or for counsel. Fors, again, was often controversial, and the “ Correspondence” which he published in the Letters themselves was only a small portion of what he received or wrote. Several of his correspondents have placed their letters at the disposal of the editors, and selections from such material are now included in the Appendix (1, 2, 10, 11, 16, 17 (6), and 22).
Ruskin preserved, partly in manuscript and partly in proof, a large quantity of material intended for use in Fors. Particulars under this bead have already been given. Some of this material was printed in Mr. Faunthorpe's General Index to Fors; and this portion (not always the most interesting or important) is in this Complete Edition included : Appendix 3, 9, 14, and 17 (in part). Another piece of over-matter was sent by Ruskin in a letter to the Pall Mall Gazette (Appendix 25). The matter in the other Appendices, selected from the manuscripts at Brantwood, is included for its intrinsic interest and as supplementing the hitherto printed text of the book. Particular attention may be called to the notes on “Ruskin and Scott ” (Appendix 7), which explain the special interest taken by Ruskin in the early life of that master; to the additional “Notes on the Life of Scott" (Appendix 8), which Ruskin wrote for Fors; to the notes of travel, now entitled “Morning Thoughts at Geneva" (Appendix 18), which he promised in Letter 72 for a later number but omitted to include ; to the description of designs by Ludwig Richter (Appendix 23); and to an interesting Epilogue to the whole work (Appendix 26).
The Brantwood MSS. have also been drawn upon for occasional notes under the text; see, for instance, pp. 196, 395, 448, 497.
Finally, Ruskin's own Index to Fors has been collated and completed, as explained more fully in a Bibliographical Note below (p. 607).
"This letter has appeared in Kate Greenaway, by M. H. Spielmann and G. S. Layard, 1905, p. 122. • See Vol. XXVIII. p. xv.
See Vol. XXVII. p. lxxxviii.
For particulars with regard to the manuscript and text, the reader is referred to the Introduction in Volume XXVII. (pp. lxxxviii.Ixxxix.).
The plates in this volume are all new, with the exception of the woodcut from a child's writing, called by Ruskin “Theuth's Earliest Lesson” (VII.), and of the drawing by Kate Greenaway called “Rosy Vale” (VIII.). The frontispiece—a portrait of Ruskin (circa 1882) though new in this place, occupied the same position in The Ruskin Birthday Book (1883). The plates introduced to illustrate the Venetian Letters are from negatives made for Ruskin in 1876 and 1877. The first (I.) is of the Vine Angle of the Ducal Palace; the next two (II. and III.) are of various capitals, described in the text. The fourth (IV.) is of the southern porches of the West Front, as they were at the same time. The next plate (V.) is introduced to illustrate Ruskin's remarks upon Scott's homes, at Ashestiel and Abbotsford. The facsimiles of Tintoret's handwriting on Plate VI. are from some sheets which Ruskin photographed from Venetian archives. The remaining two plates (IX. and X.) are woodcut-facsimiles by Mr. H. S. Uhlrich of two of Richter's designs illustrating the Lord's Prayerdesigns which Ruskin included among “Things to be Studied” by all his pupils. The illustrations printed in the text were all included in the original issues of Fors.
With regard to the plate of “Rosy Vale,” it should be understood that it was intended by the artist to be coloured, and was treated by the engraver accordingly. One or two impressions were coloured by hand, by Miss Emily Warren, but Ruskin abandoned the idea of giving the coloured plate in Fors.
The facsimiles include three pages of the manuscript of Fors as published, and one page from a rough copy of an unused passage (see p. 537 n.). The other facsimile is of a passage in the manuscript (at Brantwood) of Scott's Fortunes of Nigel.
E. T. c.