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influence was exercised by the Jacobite traditions which prevailed for generations among his ancestors, and which in Scotland often coalesced with a deep enduring strain of evangelical religious sentiment. John James Ruskin and his cousin-wife, when they came South, in 1809, brought with them in powerful measure the qualities of grit and foresight, the commercial and intellectual acquisitiveness which have brought so many of the North Britons to the front in the struggle of life. The two great departments of business and home-life were ordered by them with equal diligence and success. Mr. Ruskin contributed the brains and energy to a great wine business with a famous reputation for high-class “ sherry.” “ Entire honesty" he found to be an excellent policy, for he soon began to amass considerable wealth, which enabled him to satisfy, with an ample margin, all the demands of a luxurious home and a dignified social position. The status of a successful wine-merchant, even in an age when “trade” was less irreproachable in its respectability than now, was always good, being that of a responsible adviser to the aristocracy and gentry in one of the most important and critical departments of gentlemanly conduct -- the selection of their wine. This fact, more than any other, enabled the wine-trade, in its upper grade, to escape some of the demoralising effects of excessive competition, which have broken down the responsibility of a merchant to his “ customers” in most trades.

Though closely devoted to his business, Mr. Ruskin, however, was never absorbed in it. Having received a sound and liberal education in Edinburgh, he enjoyed ample leisure and means for cultivating literary and

artistic tastes, and the reading aloud of good books and the collection and study of pictures form a large part of the early recollections of his son. Mrs. Ruskin seems to have been the stronger character of the two, determining with somewhat autocratic power all the larger issues, and exercising a constant and minute supervision over the early life and conduct of her only child. Her nature, as revealed to us in many scattered passages of John Ruskin's books, is too acutely positive, too unyielding in its power, to be very prepossessing, seeking and winning more respect and admiration than affection. As we read the story of his childhood, we feel his mother's “principles” are too obtrusive to be wholly pleasing or wholly profitable. “My mother's general principles of first treatment were, to guard me with steady watchfulness from all possible pain or danger; and for the rest, to let me amuse myself as I liked, provided I was neither fretful nor troublesome.” 1 The words, “as I liked,” however, require serious qualification, for “ toys" were forbidden; and a sorrowful story is told of a carnally-minded aunt who gave the baby a splendid Punch and Judy, which was promptly confiscated by his mother, who said, “It was not right that I should have them,' and I never saw them again.” Oldfashioned views about the place of punishment in education prevailed in the Ruskin household. “I was always summarily whipped if I cried, did not do as I was bid, or tumbled on the stairs." When it is added that her earliest conception of her special duty in education took the form of forcing John to acquire long chapters of the Bible with perfect verbal accuracy every morning, and

1 Fors, Letter li. (iii. 38).

to read the book right through, once a year at least, from Genesis to the Apocalypse, every syllable, at a time when no skill of interpretation in the teacher and no precocity in the pupil could have imparted a right understanding of many portions, the opinion we form of her judgment and discretion is not too favourable.

But the imaginative reconstruction of a personality from episodes is seldom reliable, and, in the case of Mr. Ruskin's mother, evidently gives a most unjustly biassed view. The fuller and more general picture is that of a singularly peaceful and gentle home, parents closely attached to one another, and in ever kind and anxious sympathy with all that made for the interest and welfare of their child. The strong evangelical leanings of the mother admitted the relaxations of a lighter self” capable of a free and honest enjoyment even of the stories of Fielding and Sterne, which Mr. Ruskin's father, a devoted student of literary masterpieces, read aloud in the evenings.

§ 2. This family life was self-centred to an unusual extent; and the extreme care which both parents took of their boy kept him from many of the childish interests which might have thrown him freely amongst other children and have widened the area of child-life. read his early story we are reminded of the title he has given to one of his own books, “ Hortus Inclusus." To the physical care bestowed upon him by his mother, John, with his delicate constitution and mental precocity, owed very much. To the early training he received in literature and art he owed still more. Too much is often made of books that have influenced me."

But no careful student of Mr. Ruskin can fail to see the extraordinarily powerful impact upon his sensitive imagination

As we

and his retentive memory of the “great books” which taught him his earliest wider lessons of life and humanity. The Bible, Sir Walter Scott, Homer (in Pope's version) not only formed his early outlook upon life and history, but stored his childish mind with images and words which made an imperishable impression upon his literary work.

Art, too, crept early into his life, for his father was not merely a collector but an amateur painter of delicate taste, and pictures and engravings were objects of serious interest to him. The somewhat austere habits of this Scottish household seem to have admitted a good deal of material comfort which, under the pressure of a rapidly expanding income, included many expensive luxuries, though never degenerating into show or magnificence.

Born in London, John Ruskin was yet no city-bred boy. In 1824, when he was five years old, the family moved to a comfortable mansion in Herne Hill, then a charming rural spot, upon which the speculative builder had not begun to lay unholy hands. Here the Ruskins kept almost entirely to themselves, rarely entertaining, never “entering society," giving their son John the best of everything, as they understood it, in physical and mental culture. In such an atmosphere, fenced round by parental solicitude, there was indeed grave danger lest a sensitive, precocious child might develop into a portentous prig. That he escaped this fate must in part be imputed to his native modesty, and to the powerful early interests in books, art, and nature which took him outside of himself.

§ 3. Had the elder Mr. Ruskin been possessed by that

same genius of mis-education which was driving another Scottish father1 to attempt the ruin of another distinguished son, it would have gone hard with John Ruskin. Fortunately, the strict physical regimen of young Ruskin was mitigated by abundance of free leisure, that “ broad margin to life” which is so essential to healthy growth. From books and the routine of a too carefully ordered home, John found wholesome relief in the beauties of Nature, which were the objects of his earliest and most abiding passion. The woods and streams and trees in the charming country round Dulwich became his familiar friends, and their free beauty formed a healthy counterpoise to the “luxury and formalism ” which in later years he recognised as chief dangers of his early years. Moreover, each summer, the peaceful monotony of residence at Herne Hill was broken by long and delightful travels, in which the child became familiar with all the varied scenery of his native land. There is an irresistible quaintness in the picture of little John packed away in the post-chaise with father and mother, leisurely traversing England and Scotland as they drove from one stately home to another, to take orders for sherry. Mr. Ruskin was his own traveller, and worked in pleasure and business most successfully. It was indeed a splendid education for such a child, who saw all the famous sights, the cities, cathedrals, rivers, mountains, castles of his native land. His first love, he tells us, was for castles and ruins, not for pictures; that came afterwards. These travels, to be supplemented later by Continental journeys, fastened the realities of history upon his imagination, and early reflections and

1 James Mill.

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