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confusing pono with scio, and both with sapio, until you even translate positio into sapientia.
Well, you will, I hope, whether I plague you into reply or not, remain in your present trust that I care for you all the while.
And now, let me just know two things more privately. What do you mean by my "genius. Genius for what? What do you think I have ever either seen or taught, rightly ? and what do you feel “blasphemous in anything I have said?
Ever affectionately yours,
BRANTWOOD, Coniston, LANCASHIRE, MY DEAR HARRISON,—It is precisely because you « decline debate about words” that you are at present using your strength in vain, and talking nonsense without knowing it. The first education of a man is to use his language accurately. You continually say what you don't mean; and read entirely bestial rubbish as if it were human sense, because you have never been at the pains to learn language accurately. When you can read Pope, Horace, or Dante, you will know why there may be Calvinism, Comtism, Positivism, or even so small and paltry a heresy as Ruskinism. But no Popism, Horaceism, or Dantism.
All debate must be first about words. Else we debate merely about Bosh-mosh-posh. We must first define Bosh-mosh-posh-in classical, or accepted terms.
But your present letter speaks of the Life after death. Now it was precisely because I saw no reference to such a life in your letter from Oxford 2 that I attacked it. If you will refer me to any of your writings in which you give account of your own or of Positivist views in that matter, I will read them with utter earnestness before saying more.
Ever affectionately yours,
You must forgive the brief rudeness of my letter; in general I don't care for, nor write to the persons who misunderstand me, or care for the people I hate (Mill, Spencer, etc.). But you are very different from the rest. Only how CAN-I would underline to bottom of page if I had time--you think that I use my powers against Humanity-when the second article in my creed for Companions of St. George is
“I believe in the Nobleness of Human Nature ?”3
[The reference here is to Mr. Harrison's reply in the Fortnightly Review for July 1876, in which, after an acknowledgment of Ruskin's services to his age, he adds, “Genius, like nobility, has its duties.")
? [That is, the article in the Contemporary Review, from which this correspondence started--the scene of the article being laid in Oxford (see Vol. XXVIII. p. 619).]
[See Letter 58, Vol. XXVIII. p. 419.]
INTEREST; AND RAILWAYS'
[See Letters 68, § 4; 47, Notes and Correspondence; and 70
(Vol. XXVIII. pp. 669, 201, 712)]
1. The effort to confound interest with wages is one of the stupidest and wickedest of modern diabolic lies. I take, as I have said again and again, from ten to fifteen per cent. interest 8 for my money in the Bank of England. But I don't superintend the Bank of England in any one moment or any one particular. I am, therefore, a mere and pure usurer. Every clerical or feminine railroad shareholder, taking a dividend on the traffic, without attending to it, is a usurer. Every landlord living away from his estate is a usurer, who lives by lending land. If he live on his estate, manage it for his own advantage, and take the produce (as the Daily Telegraph says ideal landlords should 4) "all for himself,”—he is indeed a slavemaster and thief; but not an usurer. And in any of these cases one may be an amiable slavemaster, a brave thief, or a well-meaning usurer ; but our first moral business is, to know clearly—as every man may know if he will—what we are.5
It is enough to show the especial and subtle evil of usury, to reflect on the general fact in human nature, that while we won't give anybody half-a-crown, without asking what he wants with it, we will lend him any quantity of millions, to commit murder with, or do what else he likes.
2. For definition of the sin, put it to yourself thus. You have something by you—tool, money, land, house, or what not—which you cannot or don't want to use yourself, but somebody else does. Say your umbrella—to begin
[This portion of the Appendix is printed from a corrected proof, headed “Fors Clavigera. Letter 70.” This proof has been placed at the editors' disposal by Mr. William White, formerly Curator of the Ruskin Museum. The sections are here numbered for convenience of reference. $$ 1-4 were printed as Note 1 in Mr. Faunthorpe’s Index to “ Fors Clavigera,” pp. 497-498, but from an uncorrected aud incomplete proof; for the variations, see the Bibliographical Note, below, p. 606. After § 4 there comes in the proof the passage (not very closely connected with the context) which is Note 7 in Mr. Faunthorpe's Index: see above, Appendix 3, p. 535. The proof then continues with $8 5-7. $ 6 was printed as Note 2 in Mr. Faunthorpe's Index, but again from an uncorrected proof; for the variations, see below, p. 606.]
2 See, for instance, Vol. XXVII. p. 364, and Vol. XXVIII. pp. 139, 673.] 3 [That is, on the par value of the stock.] 4 (See Letter 10, gʻi (Vol. XXVII. pp. 165–166).] • Compare Letter 44 (Vol. XXVIII. p. 139).]
with.? You are not going out in the rain yourself to-day-your neighbour
3. So with a piece of your land. If you can plough it, or delight in it yourself—do so. If you can't plough it yourself-or don't mean to, and your neighbour would thankfully do so, you must lend him the land ;-if he return it less fit for a crop, next year, he must pay you for that harm, and if more fit for a crop, you must pay him for that good.
At present, he not only pays rent for the ground, but has his rent raised if he benefit it!
4. “But, at that rate, nobody would lend anything"? Yes. Everybody would lend, as they do now, but with conscious justice, and charity; and life to the whole world, be stronger and easier than it is now, by the precise degree in which the sums now paid for interest of money, would be better applied in the hands of laborious good men, in the beginning of life, than in the hands of idle wicked men at the close of it.
By the way, I see that His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury is setting up for a Usurer on Book-lending--and in very good company too-as President of the East Surrey Hall, Museum, and Library Company, Limited.?
5. “Well, but we can't get dividends by road mending-so we must by road making.”
Suppose I want a footpath made through my land, I hire a labourer, and pay him for his work, and dismiss him when it is done. But I do not give him the right, thenceforward for ever, to charge me sixpence every time I walk over it.
Suppose a nobleman wants a road made through his park. He hires a number of labourers, pays them so much a day, and dismisses them when the road is made. He does not give them a right to have a turnpike at his lodge, and make him pay a toll every time he drives in.
6. The people of Manchester and London want a road made between the two places. Then what they wisely and rightly should do, would be, what the private persons did-pay at once for the work of making the road, and dismiss the labourers when it is made.
Instead of doing that honestly, they borrow the money, and agree to pay the lenders a tax whenever they travel, thenceforward for ever. It is true that this arrangement for them, if the traffic be not great, may turn out advantageous by the ruin of the lenders. And if all the sums sunk in railroads in England were now accurately estimated, I have little doubt, it would be seen that the British public had got their railroads, on the whole, made, by the entirely involuntary subscriptions of the mites-even all their living-by a large number of single old ladies and gentlemen.
But that is not the proper way to make any sort of road, or accomplish any public work; nor is it, in the end, advantageous even to the public. The money of those simple persons, would in reality have been
spent more advantageously for the British people, in the general expenditure of domestic life, than in dragging the movable population about the country, or feeding surveyors and mechanicians. Nor do I suppose that if in such true terms, any Bill were brought before Parliament, definitely proposing to construct a railway by some method of delicate mechanical abstraction from the pockets of private persons, even though it were guaranteed that the persons to be sucked by the ferruginous vampire should imagine, till the operation was completed, that their pockets were being filled instead of emptied ;-I do not suppose, I say, that such a Bill
7. But, on the contrary, the theory of railroads, however erroneous, which has possessed itself of the public mind, is that they are a good investment." That is to say, that when the road makers have done their work for Lord John, in my Lord John's park; cut down his trees, filled his lake, dug up his lawn, and burnt his fruit-trees, the Jew who has paid them will be thankfully permitted by my Lord John to put a turnpike on his drive, and charge him ten per cent. on all the expenses incurred, to the end of time! Propose even that popular arrangement in Parliament in its absolute truth; call the shareholders, what they are-children of the true Israel-Jew-usurers; sepårate the expenses of construction and working from their “dividends"; show the proportion of every man, woman, and child's fare which is to be paid to them for ever; and I don't believe the Bill would pass.
FLORENCE, September 20th, 1874 Dear MR. WALKER, I got your obliging note all right. I should have acknowledged it before, but wanted to say a word about interest, for which I only to-day find time. Your position and knowledge give you so great an advantage in thinking of these things, that if you will observe only two great final primal facts, you are sure to come to a just conclusion.
Interest is always either Usury on loan, or Tax on industry (of course often both, and much more), but always one of these !
* The following perfect little sketch of what he supposed the next newspaper article would be on this passage, was sent me by Mr. Somervell. If any real editor can better it, he may try, before I answer.
Editor of the -, expressing the convictions of most readers.--"Mr. Ruskin displays his wonted incapacity, to comprehend the simplest problem involving any commercial or financial considerations, when he talks of London and Manchester paying for their road, out and out. He forgets that the Corporations of London and Manchester, in order to do so, would have to borrow the money, and, of course, pay interest upon it. As things are now managed, the persons who lend
[Mr. William Walker, of the Union Bank of London ; one of the auditors of the accounts of the St. George's Guild (see Vol. XXVIII. p. 556). This letter was first priuted in Igdrasil, for December 1891, pp. 226-227; and next in the privately issued Letters upon Subjects of General Interest from John Ruskin to Various Correa spondents, 1892, pp. 58-60.]
I get interest either by lending or investing. If I take interest on investment I tax industry.
A railroad dividend is a tax on its servants—ultimately, a tax on the traveller, or on the safety of his life (I mean, you get your dividend by leaving him in danger).
You will find there is absolutely no reason why a railroad should pay a dividend more than the pavement of Fleet Street.
The profit of a contractor—as of a turnpike man or paviour_is not a dividend, but the average of a chance business profit.
Of course I may tax Theft as one of the forms of industry_Gambling, etc.; that is a further point. Keep to the simple one.
To make money either by lending or taxing is a sin. If people really ought to have money lent to them, do it gratis ; and if not, it is a double sin to lend it them
The commercial result of taking no interest would be: First, that rogues and fools could not borrow, therefore could not waste or make away with money.
The second, that the money which was accumulated in the chests of the rich would be fructifying in the hands of the active and honest poor.
Of course the wealth of the country, on these conditions, would be treble what it is. Interest of money is, in a word, a tax by the idle on the busy, and by the rogue on the honest man.
Not one farthing of money is ever made by Interest.
Get that well into your head. It is all taken by the idle rich out of the pockets of the poor, or of the really active persons in commerce.
the money to make the road, subsequently undertake the business of conducting the traffic upon it; and their dividends consist of the fairly-earned profit upon such traffic, in addition to the interest-or usury, as Mr. Ruskin is pleased, incorrectly, to term it-upon the original outlay. How matters could be mended by virtually dividing this payment between two sets of people, we fail to perceive.' It would be well if Mr. Ruskin could divest himself of these absurd notions about the interest of money, which he has probably acquired from a too reverent study of some of the wise men of old. Mr. Ruskin forgets that Plato and Dante, though in many respects very remarkable personages, were not business men of the nineteenth century.”