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and which was to manifest itself thoughout his life in a series of concentric circles of ever widening religious sentiment. Nor did the interests of his Oxford group of friends draw him into the consideration of grave political and social issues. Though among his Christ Church comrades there were individual minds of distinguished calibre, there was no such brilliant gathering of ardent spirits as Tennyson had found ten years before at Cambridge, who —
“held debate, a band
And labour and the changing mart,
On many subjects young Ruskin seemed to have reached a startling maturity of conviction ; his earliest writings show an unusually wide acquaintance not merely with the technical treatises of the art subjects with which he chiefly deals, but with ancient and modern history and literature, and even with the great writers upon morals and theology. But in all this early thought and study, no signs appear of any specific application of his opening views of art and life in the direction of social reform. During his undergraduate time, and for some years afterwards, no clear convictions regarding economic wrongs, or the miseries arising from them, appear to have forced themselves upon his understanding, or to have stirred the passion of revolt within him. For the most part he remained absorbed in art, literature, and travel. At first sight this may seem unnatural. It is not really so. The larger superficial features of the economic and political
life of a nation acquire a constant and customary import to us at such an early age, that, unless the course of our education is particularly directed to them, or some sensational illustrations break our emotional apathy, all personal appreciation of their significance may be deferred indefinitely. There was nothing in John Ruskin's early life and training to focus his curiosity on social phenomena, or to stir his emotions to social sympathy; every circumstance of his upbringing, both the negative condition of an almost total lack of social experience, and the positive condition of an early and deep absorption in interests far removed from social reform, tended to screen from him the mission ” which he was destined to fulfil, and for which he was making sure but unconscious preparation.
FROM ART TO SOCIAL REFORM.
$ 1. The different impulses to social reform. $2. Tardy develop
ment of social interests and views. 83. The false imputation of loose thinking. 84. Love of Nature the starting-pointEarly excursions in architecture. $5. The art-teaching of “Modern Painters" - Realism and Idealism. $6. Moral purpose the criterion of art. 87. Moral ideas as effluences of Divinity. $8. First glimpses of his social outlook.
$ 9. No definite recognition of “Society" in “ Modern Painters." § 10. The relation of architecture to national life and character. $11. First study of the rise and fall of nations — “Stones of Venice." § 12. The bridge between art reform and social reform. $ 13. Beginnings of social revolt. $14. The political economy of art. 15. “Unto this Last" - Mr. Ruskin enters the social crusade. $ 16. “Munera Pulveris "- Formal abandonment of art mission. $ 17. Practical applications of social doctrine — “Time and Tide." $ 18. The design and character of “Fors Clavigera” – Culmination of Mr. Ruskin's social teaching
§1. If we use the term social reform, in its broad sense, to describe those larger changes in the structure or working of society which aim directly at some general improvement of human life, as distinguished from such work of reform as attacks narrower and more specific defects, we shall find that social reformers come to this work by widely different paths. Often it is the personal experience of some concrete evil that first awakens a sense of social wrong, and a desire for redress; reform
energy once generated is fed by a natural flow from various neighbouring channels of activity, the stream broadening as it goes, until the man whose early activity was stimulated by the desire to break down some little barrier which dams the stream in his back garden, finds himself breasting the tide of some oceanic movement. So it was with such men as Cobden, Lord Shaftesbury, and Cobbett; a necessary organic association of related interests and sympathies drew them from some specific “cause into the wider paths of philanthropic statesmanship. Other instances there are of men who, entering public life as a profession or a pastime, have come to discern underneath the chicanery of party moves, and those brief expediencies of legislation and administration which have usurped the honourable title of politics, the deeper needs of a continuous organic social policy, and have set themselves earnestly to the larger task. Men such as C. J. Fox and Gladstone may be placed in this order. Others again are social reformers à priori, entering through some gateway of large philosophic principles into the practical service of society. The Utilitarian School of Bentham and Mill, and modern Socialism furnish not a few instances of men thus deductively impelled to social reform. Literature, art, and theology have each contributed leading impulses to social revolt, accompanied by more or less definite suggestions of social transformation. Byron, Wordsworth and Shelley, Hugo, Whitman, Tolstoy, Ibsen, illustrate the flow of free literary forces in the same direction. Pre-Raphaelitism, Wagnerism, and the subsidiary art currents of naturalism and impressionism, have their wide social implications, and have contributed many of the most
powerful prophets of revolution or reform. Wagner himself, Burne-Jones, and Morris in England, are leading members of a great body of men in strenuous and radical revolt against some of the most distinctive features of recent civilisation.
For the influence of theology I now only allude to the Christian Socialism of the broad church clergy of this country in the middle of this century, and to the strong and spreading spirit of reform which prevails in a large section of the High Church in England, and in the Catholic Church of Austria, Germany, France, and Belgium at the present time, to say nothing of that most intense passion of revolt which animates the Russian sects who hazard their lives to embody in their social conduct the spirit of primitive Christianity as they inter
§ 2. Now, politics, as we have seen, had no particular interest for Mr. Ruskin. He always spoke of himself as an “old Tory," and the making of democratic machinery was always repellant to his instincts of political order. The radical philosophy of Bentham, Austin, and the Utilitarians formed the object of his sternest denunciation from the earliest time when his attention was called to it. Indeed, it must be said that his mind had no natural affinity for political thought, and he early developed a rough intuitive philosophy of his own, grounded in natural piety, which disinclined him from the endeavour to explain either individual or national conduct by laws owing their discovery to rationalist analysis. It might indeed have seemed natural that the contemporary literature of his early life should have sown seeds of social revolt in so sen