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him such honors had become. He went north and met his translators at Brantwood to finish the Xenophon; and to help dig his harbor and cut coppice in his wood. He prepared a preface; but the next term was one of greater pressure, with the twelve lectures on Sir Joshua Reynolds to deliver; and he wrote after Christmas:
“ Now that I have got my head fairly into this Xenophon business, it has expanded into a new light altogether; and I think it would be absurd in me to slur over the life in one paragraph. A hundred things have come into my head as I arrange the dates, and I think I can make a much better thing of it, with a couple of days' work. My head would not work in town; merely turned from side to side, - never nodded (except sleepily). I send you the proofs just to show you I'm at work. I'm going to translate all the story of Delphic answer before Anabasis; and his speech after the sleepless night.” Delphic answers and sleepless nights were becoming too frequent in his own experience; and yet he could stop to explain himself, with forbearance, in answer to remarks on the proofs : –
“ I had no notion you felt that flaw so seriously, or would have written at once. I should never call inspired prophecy Classical,' — nor the Ser
. mon on the Mount - nor the like of it. All inspired writing stands on a nobler authority. 'Hail thou that art highly favored' does not contain constant truth, for all, but instant truth — for
Mary. If we criticise it as language, or 'Scripture' writing — you must do so in its Greek or Roman words. But 'quanto quisque sibi plura negaverit Ab Dîs plura feret’is classic, Eternal truth, in the best possible words. Whereas, ' If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out' is not constant truth unless received in a certain temper and admitting certain conditions. It is then much more than constant truth. 'Scripture' and 'writing,' — picture' and 'painting,' are always used by me as synonymous terms.”
The lectures on Reynolds went off with éclat, in spite of less pains bestowed on their preparation. I remember distinctly the brilliancy of rhetoric, the magic of oratory, the astonishing reaches of thought, utterly unlike the teaching of either the scribes or the Pharisees of modern times. I have the manuscript before me, and wonder, with increasing admiration, at the genius which transmuted these scribbled jottings, hardly to be called even notes, — these hieroglyphs, blots, mere hints and winks at words, — into the magnificent flow of rolling paragraph and rounded argument, that thrilled a captious audience with unwonted emotion, and almost persuaded many a careless or cynic hearer to abjure his worship of muscle or of brain for the nobler gospel of “the Ethereal Ruskin.” In spite of strangeness, and a sense of antagonism to his surroundings, which grew from day to day, he did useful work which none other could do in the university, and wielded an enormous influence for good. That this was then acknowledged was proved by his reëlection, early in 1876; but his third term of three years was a time of weakened health. The cause of it, the greatest sorrow of his life, we have just revealed; at the time the public put it down to disappointed egotism, or whatever they fancied. But repeated absence from his post and inability to fulfill his duties made it obviously his wisest course, at the end of that third term, to resign the Slade professorship.
ST. GEORGE AND ST. MARK.
“A curious volume, patch'd and torn,
That all day long, from earliest morn,
In the book his Bertha of Canterbury was reading at twilight on the Eve of St. Mark, Keats might have been describing “Fors.” Among its pages, fascinating with their golden broideries of romance and wit, perplexing with mystic vials of wrath as well as all the Seven Lamps and Shekinah of old and new covenants commingled, there was gradually unfolded the plan of “St. George's Work.”
The scheme was not easy to apprehend; it was essentially different from anything then known, though superficially like several bankrupt Utopias. Mr. Ruskin did not want to found a phalanstery,
or to imitate Robert Owen or the Shakers. That would have been practicable — and useless.
He wanted much more. He aimed at the gradual introduction of higher aims into ordinary life; at giving true refinement to the lower classes, true simplicity to the upper. He proposed that idle hands should reclaim waste lands; that healthy work and country homes should be offered to townsfolk who would “come out of the gutter.” He asked landowners and employers to furnish opportunities for such reforms; which would involve no elaborate organization nor unelastic rules, — simply the one thing needful, the refusal of commercialism.
As before, he scorned the idea that any good could be done by political agitation. Any government would work, he said, if it were an efficient government. No government was efficient unless it saw that every one had the necessaries of life, for body and soul; and that every one carned them by some work or other. Capital, that is, the means and material of labor, should therefore be in the hands of the government, not in the hands of individuals; this reform would result easily and necessarily from the forbidding of loans on interest. Personal property would still be in private hands; but as it could not be invested and turned into capital, it would necessarily be restricted to its actual use, and great
, accumulation would be valueless.
This is, of course, a very sketchy statement of