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Mecca "holy Brantwood," as a scoffing poet called it they were surprised, and even shocked, to find the Prophet of "Fors" at the head of a merry dinner-table, and the Professor of Art among surroundings which a London or a Boston "æsthete" would have ruled to be in very poor taste.

Shall I take you for a visit there, - to Brantwood as it was in those old times?

It is a weary way to Coniston, whatever road you choose. The inconvenience of the railway route was perhaps one reason of Mr. Ruskin's preference for driving, on so many occasions. After changing and changing trains, and stopping at many a roadside station, at last you see, suddenly, over the wild undulating country, the Coniston Old Man - Maen, stone; a survival of Celtic Cumbria — and its crags, abrupt on the left, and the lake, long and narrow, on the right. Across the water, tiny in the distance and quite alone amongst forests and moors, there is Brantwood; and beyond it everything seems uncultivated, uninhabited, except for one gray farmhouse high on the fell, where gaps in the ragged larches show how bleak and storm-swept a spot it is.

To come out of the station after long travel, and to find yourself face to face with magnificent rocks, and white cottages among the fir-trees, is a surprise like walking for the first time down the High Street of Edinburgh to Holyrood. And as

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you are whirled down through the straggling village, and along the shore round the head of the lake, the panorama, though not Alpine in magnitude, is almost Alpine in character. The valley, too, is not yet built up; it is still the old-fashioned lake country, almost as it was in the days of the Iteriad;" still in touch with the past. You drive up and down a narrow, hilly lane, catching peeps of mountains and sunset through thick, overhanging trees; you turn sharp up through a gate under dark firs and larches; and the carriage stops in what seems in the twilight a sort of court, — a graveled space, one side formed by a rough stone wall crowned with laurels and almost precipitous coppice, the brant (or steep) wood above, and the rest is Brantwood, with a capital B.1

You expect that Gothic porch you have read of in “Lectures on Architecture and Painting," and you are surprised to find a stucco Doric portico in the corner, painted and grained, and heaped around with lucky horseshoes, brightly blackleaded, and mysterious rows of large blocks of slate and basalt and trap, a complete museum of local geology, if only you knew it, very unlike an ideal entrance; still more unlike an ordinary one. While you wait you can see through the glass door a roomy hall, lit with candles, and hung with large drawings by Burne-Jones and by the master of the house. His soft hat, and thick

1 The archway supporting a great pile of new buildings did not exist in the time when this visit is supposed to be made.

gloves, and chopper, lying on the marble table, show that he has come in from his afternoon's


But if you are expected you will hardly have time to look round, for Brantwood is nothing if not hospitable. The honored guest, — and all guests are honored there, after welcome, is ushered up a narrow stair, which betrays the original cottage, into the "turret room." It had been the professor's until after his illness, and he papered it with naturalistic pansies, to his own taste, and built out at one corner a projecting turret to command the view on all sides, with windows strongly latticed to resist the storms; for Ruskin can say with Montaigne, "my House is built upon an Eminence, as its Name imports, and no part of it is so much expos'd to the Wind and Weather as that." There is old-fashioned solid comfort in the way of furniture; and pictures, a Dürer engraving, some Prouts and Turners, a couple of old Venetian heads, and Meissonier's Napoleon, over the fireplace -a picture which Mr. Ruskin bought for one thousand guineas, showed for a time at Oxford, and hung up here in a shabby little frame to be out of the way.1 It gives you a curious sense of being in quite a new kind of place.

If you are a man, you are told not to dress; if you are a lady, you may put on your prettiest gown. They dine in the new room, for the old 1 Sold in 1882 for 5,900 guineas.


dining-room was so small that one could not get round the table. The new room is spacious and lofty compared with the rest of the house; it has a long window with thick red sandstone mullions -there at last is a touch of Gothicism - to look down the lake, and a bay window opens on the narrow lawn sloping steeply down to the road in front, and the view of the Old Man. The walls, painted "duck egg," are hung with old pictures: the Doge Gritti, a bit saved from the great Titian that was burnt in the fire at the ducal palace in 1557; a couple of Tintorets; Turner and Reynolds, each painted by himself in youth; Raphael by a pupil, so it is said; portraits of old Mr. and Mrs. Ruskin, and little John and his "boo hills." There he sits, no longer little, opposite; and you can trace the same curve and droop of the eyebrows (a Highland trait?) prefigured in the young face and preserved in the old, and a certain family likeness to his handsome young father.

Since Mr. Ruskin's illness his cousin, Mrs. Arthur Severn, has become more and more indispensable to him: she sits at the foot of the table and calls him "the coz." An eminent visitor was once put greatly out of countenance by this apparent irreverence. After obvious embarrassment, light dawned upon him towards the close of the meal. "Oh!" said he, "it's the coz' you call Mr. Ruskin. I thought you were saying 'the


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There are generally two or three young people

staying in the house, salaried assistants1 or amateur, occasional helpers; but though there is a succession of visitors from a distance there is not very frequent entertainment of neighbors.

A Brantwood dinner is always ample; there is no asceticism about the place; nor is there any affectation of "intensity" or of common-room cleverness. The neat things you meant to say are forgotten, you must be hardened indeed to say them to Mr. Ruskin's face; but if you were shy, you soon feel that there was no need for shyness; you have fallen among friends; and before dessert comes in, with fine old sherry the pride of your host, as he explains - you feel that nobody understands you so well, and that all his books are nothing to himself.

It is not a mere show, this kindliness and consideration. Two young visitors, once staying at Brantwood with Mr. Ruskin alone, mistook the time and appeared an hour late for dinner. Not

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1 The face most familiar at Brantwood in those times was "Laurie's." A strange, bright, gifted boy,- admirable draughtsman, ingenious mechanician, marvelous actor; the imaginer of the quaintest and drollest humors that ever entered the head of man; devoted to boats and boating, but unselfishly ready to share all labors and contribute to all diversions; painstaking and perfect in his work, and brilliant in his wit, Laurence Hilliard was dearly loved by his friends, and is still loved by them dearly. He was Mr. Ruskin's chief secretary at Brantwood from January, 1876, to 1882, when the death of his father, and his own failing health, made him resign the post. He continued to live at Coniston, and was just beginning to be famous as a painter of still life and landscape when he died of pleurisy on board a friend's yacht in the Ægean, April 11, 1887, aged thirty-two.

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