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crime for resistance and of human misery for help, though it seems to me as the voice of a river of blood which can but sweep me down in the midst of its black clots, helpless."
Sentences like these, passages here and there in the last volume of "Modern Painters," and still more, certain passages omitted from that volume, show that about 1860 something of a cloud had been settling over him, a morbid sense of the evil of the world, a horror of great darkness. In his earlier years, his intense emotion and vivid imagination had enabled him to read into pictures of Tintoret or Turner, into scenes of nature and sayings of great books, a meaning or a moral which he so vividly communicated to the reader as to make it thenceforward part and parcel of the subject, however it came there to begin with. It is useless to wonder whether Turner, for instance, consciously meant what Ruskin found in his works. A great painter does not paint without thought, and such thought is apt to show itself whether he will or no. But it needs a powerful sympathy to detect and describe the thought. And when that powerful sympathy was given to suffering, to widespread misery, to crying wrongs; joined also with an intense passion for justice, which had already shown itself in the defense of slighted genius and neglected art, and to the high-strung Celtic temperament of some Highland seer and trance-prophesying bard; it was no wonder that Mr. Ruskin became
like one of the hermits of old who retreated from the world to return upon it with stormy messages of awakening and flashes of truth more impressive, more illuminating than the logic of schoolmen and the statecraft of the wise.
And then he began to take up an attitude of antagonism to the world, he who had been the kindly helper and minister of delightful art. He began to call upon those who had ears to hear to come out and be separate from the ease and hypocrisy of Vanity Fair. Its respectabilities, its orthodoxies, he could no longer abide. Orthodox religion, orthodox morals and politics, orthodox art and science, alike he rejected; and was rejected by each of them as a brawler, a babbler, a fanatic, a heretic. And even when friendly Oxford gave him a quasi-academical position, that did not bring him, as it brings many a heretic, back to the fold.
In this period of storm and stress he stood alone. The old friends of his youth were one by one passing away, if not from intercourse, still from full sympathy with him in his new mood. Carlyle was not yet the admiring intimate he afterwards became. His parents were no longer the guides and companions they had been; they did not understand the business he was about. And so he was left to new associates, for he could not live without some one to love, - that is the nature of the man, however lonely in his work and wanderings.
The new friends of this period were, at first, Americans; as the chief new friends of his latest period (the Alexanders) were American, too. Mr. Charles Eliot Norton, after being introduced to him in London, met him again by accident on the Lake of Geneva-the story is prettily told in "Præterita." And Mr. Ruskin adds, "Norton saw all my weaknesses, measured all my narrownesses, and, from the first, took serenely, and as it seemed of necessity, a kind of paternal authority over me, and a right of guidance. . . . I was entirely conscious of his rectorial power, and affectionately submissive to it, so that he might have done anything with me, but for the unhappy difference in our innate and unchangeable political faiths." So, after all, he stood alone.
Another friend about this time was Mrs. H. Beecher Stowe, to whom he wrote on June 18, 1860, from Geneva: "It takes a great deal, when I am at Geneva, to make me wish myself anywhere else, and, of all places else, in London; nevertheless, I very heartily wish at this moment that I were looking out on the Norwood Hills, and were expecting you and the children to breakfast to-morrow.
"I had very serious thoughts, when I received your note, of running home; but I expected that very day an American friend, Mr. Stillman, who, I thought, would miss me more here than London, so I stayed.
"What a dreadful thing it is that people should
have to go to America again, after coming to Europe! It seems to me an inversion of the order of nature. I think America is a sort of 'United States of Probation, out of which all wise people, being once delivered, and having obtained entrance into this better world, should never be expected to return' (sentence irremediably ungrammatical), particularly when they have been making themselves cruelly pleasant to friends here. My friend Norton, whom I met first on this very blue lake water, had no business to go back to Boston again, any more than you.
"So you have been seeing the Pope and all his Easter performances! I congratulate you, for I suppose it is something like Positively the last appearance on any stage.' What was the use of thinking about him? You should have had your own thoughts about what was to come after him. I don't mean that Roman Catholicism will die out so quickly. It will last pretty nearly as long as Protestantism, which keeps it up; but I wonder what is to come next. That is the main question
just now for everybody."
Professor Norton has remained always Mr. Ruskin's friend; Mrs. Beecher Stowe, not always. Mr. Stillman had been a correspondent about 1851,"involved in mystical speculations, partly growing out of the second volume of 'Modern Painters," as he says of himself in an
1 "Good Americans when they die go to Paris."- The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table, quoting T. G. Appleton.
article on "John Ruskin" in the "Century Magazine" (January, 1888). He tells us that he wrote to the author for counsel, and quotes a long letter in which Mr. Ruskin advises "on no account to agitate nor grieve yourself, nor look for inspirations; — for assuredly many of our noblest English minds have been entirely overthrown by doing so, but go on doing what you are sure is quite right, that is, striving for constant purity of thought, purpose, and word.”
Nothing could have been more infelicitous, after such advice and the known tenor of Ruskin's teaching, than Mr. Stillman's picture of a mortal struggle between a man and a buck, the buck painted, in curious misunderstanding of Pre-Raphaelite principles, from a dead buck. Nothing could more naïvely illustrate the gentle art of making enemies than Mr. Stillman's combination of anecdote and remark. Mr. Ruskin called his buck, we are told, "filthy." "His artcriticism is radically and irretrievably wrong." At Denmark Hill, the American visitor proved a Turner drawing to be false in tone; Mr. Ruskin (who thinks it bad manners to argue with a guest, and had fully explained the subject in his chapter on the Use of Pictures) waived the discussion. "His assumption of Turner's veracity is the corner-stone of his system, and its rejection would be the demolition of that system." Mr. Stillman was his "guest" for the summer of 1860 in Switzerland. He found his host "generous to extrav