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TO THE WORKMEN AND LABOURERS
OF GREAT BRITAIN.
JOHN RUSKIN, LL.D.,
HONORARY STUDENT OF CHRIST CHURCH, AND SLADE PROFESSOR OF FINE ART.
270 e 455
Venice, 20th November, 1876. THE day on which this letter will be published will, I trust, be the first of the seventh year of the time during which I have been permitted, month by month, to continue the series of Fors Clavigera. In which seventh year I hope to gather into quite clear form the contents of all the former work; closing the seventh volume with accurate index of the whole. These seven volumes, if I thus complete them, will then be incorporated as a single work in the consecutive series of my books.
If I am spared to continue the letters beyond the seventh year, their second series will take a directly practical character, giving account of, and directing, the actual operations of St. George's Company ; and containing elements of instruction for its schools, the scheme of which shall be, I will answer for it, plainly
enough, by the end of this year, understood. For, in the present volume, I intend speaking directly, in every letter, to the Yorkshire operatives, and answering every question they choose to put to me,- being very sure that they will omit few relevant ones,
And first they must understand one more meaning I have in the title of the book. By calling it the
Nail bearer,' I mean not only that it fastens in sure place the truths it has to teach, (January, 1872, page 5,) but also, that it nails down, as on the barndoor of our future homestead, for permanent and picturesque exposition, the extreme follies of which it has to give warning: so that in expanded heraldry of beak and claw, the spread, or split, harpies and owls of modern philosophy may be forevermore studied, by the curious, in the parched skins of them.
For instance, at once, and also for beginning of some such at present needful study, look back to page 163 of Fors for 1874, wherein you will find a paragraph thus nailed fast out of the "Pall Mall Gazette' — a paragraph which I must now spend a little more space of barn-door in delicately expanding. It is to the following effect, (I repeat, for the sake of readers who cannot refer to the earlier volumes) : “ The wealth of this world may be 'practically' regarded as infinitely great, It is not true that what one man appropriates becomes thereby useless to others; and it is also untrue that force or fraud, direct or indirect, are the
principal, or indeed that they are at all common or important, modes of acquiring wealth.”
You will find this paragraph partly answered, though but with a sneer, in the following page, 165 ; but I now take it up more seriously, for it is needful you should see the full depth of its lying.
The ‘wealth of this world' consists broadly in its healthy food-giving land, its convenient building land, its useful animals, its useful minerals, its books, and works of art.
The healthy food-giving land, so far from being infinite, is, in fine quality, limited to narrow belts of the globe. What properly belongs to you as Yorkshiremen is only Yorkshire. You by appropriating Yorkshire keep other people from living in Yorkshire. The Yorkshire squires say the whole of Yorkshire belongs to them, and will not let any part of Yorkshire become useful to anybody else, but by enforcing payment of rent for the use of it; nor will the farmers who rent it allow its produce to become useful to anybody else but by demanding the highest price they can get for the same.
The convenient building land of the world is so far from being infinite, that, in London, you find a woman of eight-and-twenty paying one-and-ninepence a week for a room in which she dies of suffocation with her child in her arms; Fors, December, 1872, p. 17; and, in Edinburgh, you find people paying two pounds twelve