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served the curious tribute once paid him by the journal of a big modern shop (Compton House, Liverpool) as a “great tradesman."
His high prices were a stumbling-block to most of his readers; and indeed he has withdrawn his objection to cheapness, since finding that it does not mean bad printing, and that there are many people who, though they cannot afford the oldfashioned scholar's library, have the old-fashioned scholar's respect for books.
Formerly, when clerks from Glasgow or working men from Manchester wrote to say that they really wanted to read him, but really could not afford, he replied with a growl that if a child in the gutter wanted a picture book he would say, “Come out of that first !” Which, though a hard saying, truly represented his attitude. He distrusted people who lamented their dismal lot, and showed no courage to mend it; who protested a thirst for nature and art, and yet took no steps to enjoy what they could get, or to get what they could enjoy, — “So here we sit sullen in the black slime " - or ci attristiam nella belletta negra. If they bought anything of his, there was “ Fors," in which he was giving his best, at the price, as he said, of two pots of beer a month!
“How should he care what men may say,
“For though betwixt dull earth and him
Such clouds and mists deceptive swim,
“Yet when on high he lifts his gaze
He sees the stars' untroubled ways
To “ the Ethereal Ruskin” (Spectator, June 5, 1875).
Early in 1872, after bringing out “Munera Pulveris " and the essays he had written ten years before for “ Fraser” on economy; after getting those street-sweepers to work near the British Museum, where he was making studies of animals and Greek sculpture; and after once more addressing the Woolwich cadets, this time on the Bird of Calm (the mythology of the Halcyon), Professor Ruskin went to Oxford to give a course of ten lectures on the relation of natural science to art, afterwards published under the title of “The Eagle's Nest.” He wrote to Professor Norton, “I am, as usual, unusually busy. When I get fairly into my lecture work at Oxford I always find the lecture would come better some other way, just before it is given, and so work from hand to mouth. I am always unhappy, and see no good in saying so. But I am settling to my work here — recklessly
recklessly — to do my best with it; feeling quite sure that it is talking at hazard, for what chance good may come.
But I attend regularly in the schools as mere drawing-master, and the men begin to come in one by one, about fifteen or twenty already; several worth having as pupils in any way, being of temper to make good growth of.”
Why was he always unhappy? It was not that Mr. W. B. Scott criticised “Mr. Ruskin's Influence” in that March; or that by Easter he had to
say farewell to his old home on Denmark Hill, and settle “ for good” at Brantwood. Nor that he could go abroad again for a long summer in Italy with Mr. and Mrs. Severn and the Hilliards and Mr. Albert Goodwin ; though it was a busy time they spent. They started about the middle of April, and on the journey out he wrote, beside his “Fors,” which always went on, a preface to the Rev. R. St. John Tyrwhitt's “Christian Art and Symbolism.” He drew the apse at Pisa, halfamused and half-worried by the little ragamuffin who varied the tedium of watching his work by doing horizontal bar tricks on those railings which, the tourist knows, fence the cathedral green. Then to Lucca, where, to show his friends something of Italian landscape, he took them for rambles through the olive farms and chestnut woods, among which Miss Hilliard lost her jew. eled cross. Greatly to Mr. Ruskin's delight, for he is a firm believer in Italian peasant-virtue, it was found and returned without offer of reward.
At Rome they visited old Mr. Severn, and then went homeward by way of Verona, where Mr. Ruskin wrote an account of the Cavalli monuments for the Arundel Society, and Venice, where he returned to the study of Carpaccio. At Rome he had been once more to the Sistine, and found that the ceiling and the Last Judgment had taken his attention on earlier visits too exclusively. Now that he could look away from Michelangelo he became conscious of the claims of Botticelli's frescoes, which represent, in the Florentine school, somewhat the same kind of interest that he had found in Carpaccio. He became enamored of Botticelli's Zipporah, and resolved to study the master more closely. On reaching home he had to prepare
“The Eagle's Nest" for publication; in the preface he gave special importance to Botticelli, and amplified it in lectures on early engraving, that autumn;? in which he quoted with appreciation the passage on the Venus Anadyomene from Mr. Pater's “Studies in the Renaissance," just published.
This sudden enthusiasm about an unknown painter amused the Oxford public; and it became
1 Ariadne Florentina. Mr. Ruskin's first mention of Botticelli was in the course on landscape, Lent term, 1871.
a standing joke among the profane to ask who was Ruskin's last great man. It was in answer to that, and in expression of a truer understanding than most Oxford pupils attained, that Bourdillon of Worcester wrote on “the Ethereal Ruskin," that was Carlyle's name for him :
" To us this star or that seems bright,
“ But he discerns each noble star;
The critical value of this course, however, to a student of art-history, is impaired by his using, as illustrations of Botticelli and of the manner of engraving which he took for standard, certain plates which were erroneously attributed, and impressions of them which perhaps misrepresent their original condition as intended by the artist. " It is strange,” he wrote in despair to Professor Norton, “ that I hardly ever get anything stated without some grave mistake, however true in my main discourse." But in this case a fate stronger than he had taken him unawares. The circumstances do not extenuate the error of the professor, but they explain the difficulties under which his work was done.
For on his return to England this August, 1872, an event had happened, too important in its consequences to be left unnoticed, though too painful for more than a passing allusion.