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never realized; though Mr. Ruskin always professed to believe in her, as a real sea-boat (see “ Harbors of England ”) such as he used to steer with his friend Huret, the Boulogne fisherman, in the days when he, too, was smitten with sea-fever.
After luncheon, if letters are done, all hands are piped to the moor. With billhooks and choppers the party winds up the wood paths, the professor first, walking slowly, and pointing out to you his pet bits of rock-cleavage, or ivied trunk, or nest of wild-strawberry plants. You see, perhaps, the ice-house — tunneled at vast expense into the rock and filled at more expense with the best ice; opened at last with great expectations and the most charitable intent, for it was planned to supply invalids in the neighborhood with ice, as the hothouses supplied them with grapes; and revealing, after all, nothing but a puddle of dirty water. You see more successful works, — the professor's little private garden, which he is supposed to cultivate with his own hands; various little wells and watercourses among the rocks, moss-grown and fern-embowered; and so you come out on the moor.
There great works go on. Juniper is being rooted up; boggy patches drained and cultivated; cranberries are being planted, and oats grown; paths engineered to the best points of view; rocks bared to examine the geology, — though you cannot get the professor to agree that every inch of his territory has been glaciated. These diversions
have their serious side, for he is really experimenting on the possibility of reclaiming waste land; perhaps too sanguine, you think, and not counting the cost. To which he replies that, as long as there are hands unemployed and misemployed, a government such as he would see need never be at a loss for laborers. If corn can be made to grow where juniper grew before, the benefit is a positive one, the expense only comparative. And
, so you take your pick with the rest, and are almost persuaded to become a companion of St. George.
Not to tire a new-comer, he takes you away after a while to a fine heathery promontory where you sit before a most glorious view of lake and mountains. This, he says, is his “ Naboth's vineyard;”] he would like to own so fine a point of vantage. But he is happy in his country retreat, far happier than you thought him; and the secret of his happiness is that he has sympathy with all around him, and hearty interest in everything, from the least to the greatest.
Coming down from the moor after the round, when you reach the front door, you must see the performance of the waterfall; everybody must see that. On the moor a reservoir has been dug and dammed, with ingenious flood-gates, — Mr. Ruskin's device, of course, - - and a channel led down through the wood to a rustic bridge in the rock. Some one has stayed behind to let out the water,
1 Since then taken on a long lease from the friendly landlord.
and down it comes; first a black stream and then a white one, as it gradually clears; and the rocky wall at the entrance becomes for ten minutes a cascade. This too has its uses; not only is there a supply of water in case of fire (the exact utilization of which is yet undecided), but it illustrates one of his doctrines about the simplicity with which works of irrigation could be carried out among the hills of Italy.
And so you go in to tea and chess, for he loves a good game of chess with all his heart. He loves many things, you have found. He is different from other men you know, just by the breadth and vividness of his sympathies, by power of living as few other men can live, in admiration, hope, and love. Is not such a life worth living, whatever its monument be?
FORS CLAVIGERA RESUMED.
“How can he give his neighbor the real ground,
RETIREMENT at Brantwood, as the reader may suspect, was only partial. All Mr. Ruskin's habits of life made it impossible for him to be idle, much as he acknowledged the need of thorough rest. And he was a man with a mission. His work was not of the sort that could be laid aside and done with. He could not be wholly ignorant of the world outside Coniston, though sometimes for weeks together he tried to ignore it, and refused to read a newspaper. The time when General Gordon went out to Khartoum was one of these periods of abstraction, devoted to mediæval study. Somebody talked one morning at breakfast about the Soudan. “And who is the Soudan ?” he earnestly inquired, connecting the name, as it seemed, with the Soldan of Babylon, in crusading romance.
“ The man is apathetic, you deduce ?