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more than I has ever loved the place where God's honor dwells, or yielded truer allegiance to the teaching of His evident servants. No man at this time grieves more for the damage of the Church which supposes him her enemy, while she whispers procrastinating pax vobiscum in answer to the spurious kiss of those who would fain toll curfew over the last fires of English faith, and watch the sparrow find nest where she may lay her young, around the altars of the Lord.”
. But if the Anglican Church refused him, the Roman Church was eager to claim him. His interest in mediævalism seemed to point him out as ripe for conversion. Cardinal Manning, an old acquaintance, showed him special attention, and invited him to charming tête-à-tête luncheons. It was commonly reported that he had gone over, or was going. But two letters (of a later date) show that he was not to be caught. To a Glasgow correspondent he wrote in 1887: “I shall be entirely grateful to you if you will take the trouble to contradict any news gossip of this kind, which may be disturbing the minds of any of my Scottish friends. I was, am, and can be, only a Christian Catholic in the wide and eternal
I have been that these five-and-twenty years at least. Heaven keep me from being less as I grow older! But I am no more likely to become a Roman Catholic than a Quaker, Evangelical, or Turk.” To another, next year, he wrote: “ I fear you have scarcely read enough of
• Fors' to know the breadth of my own creed or communion. I gladly take the bread, water, wine, or meat of the Lord's Supper with members of my own family or nation who obey Him, and should be equally sure it was His giving, if I were myself worthy to receive it, whether the intermediate mortal hand were the Pope's, the Queen's, or a hedge-side gypsy's.”
At Coniston he was on friendly terms with Father Gibson, the Roman Catholic priest, and gave a window to the chapel, which several of the Brantwood household attended. But though he did not go to church, he contributed largely to the increase of the poorly-endowed curacy, and to the charities of the parish. The religious society of the neighborhood was hardly of a kind to attract him, unless among the religious society should be included the Thwaite, where lived the survivors of a family long settled at Coniston: Miss Mary Beever, scientific and political; and Miss Susanna, who won Mr. Ruskin's admiration and affection by an interest akin to his own in nature and in poetry, and by her love for animals, and bright, unfailing wit. Both were examples of sincerely religious life, “at once sources and loadstones of all good to the village,” as he wrote in the preface to “ Hortus Inclusus,” the collection of his letters to them since first acquaintance
1 Compare the lines in Longfellow's Golden Legend :
"A holy family, that makes
Each meal a Supper of the Lord."
in the autumn of 1873. The elder Miss Beever died at an advanced age on the last day of 1883; Miss Susanna still retains, in spite of failing powers, the rare gifts of sympathy and imagination which made her, through so many years, the best loved of Mr. Ruskin's neighbors.
In children he took a warm and openly-expressed interest. He used to visit the school often, and delighted to give them a treat. On January 13, 1881, he gave a dinner to three hundred and fifteen Coniston youngsters, and the tone of his address to his young guests is noteworthy as taken in connection with the drift of his religious tendency during this period. He dwelt on a verse of the Sunday-school hymn they had been singing: “Jesu, here from sin deliver.” “ That is what we want,” he said ; " to be delivered from our sins. We must look to the Saviour to deliver us from our sin. It is right we should be punished for the sins which we have done; but God loves us, and wishes to be kind to us, and to help us, that we may not willfully sin."
Words like these were not lightly spoken: we must take them, with their full weight, to represent his real convictions.
At this time he used to take the family prayers himself at Brantwood; preparing careful notes for a Bible - reading, which sometimes, indeed, lasted longer than was convenient to the household; and writing collects for the occasion, still existing in manuscript, and deeply interesting as
the prayers of a man who had passed through so many wildernesses of thought and doubt, and had returned at last, — not to the fold of the Church, but to the footstool of the Father.
THE RECALL TO OXFORD.
“Cras ingens iterabimus æquor."
This Brantwood life came to an end with the end of 1881. Early in the next year Mr. Ruskin went for change of scene to stay with the Severns at his old home on Herne Hill. He seemed much better, and ventured to reappear in public. On March 3d he went to the National Gallery to sketch Turner's Python. On the unfinished drawing is written: “Bothered away from it, and never went again. No light to work by in the next month.” An artist in the gallery had been taking notes of him for a surreptitious portrait, – an embarrassing form of flattery.
He wrote: “No- I won't believe any stories about overwork. It's impossible, when one's in good heart and at really pleasant things. I've a lot of nice things to do, but the heart fails, – after lunch, particularly!” Heart and head did, however, fail again ; and another attack of brain fever followed. Sir William Gull brought him through, and won his praise as a doctor and