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biographic form, and not those which are applied to books whose composition proceeds by carefully ironing out every crease of inconsistency so as to present a smooth finality of well-ordered thought.
This position of importance I claim for “Fors” because it contains the fullest and most mature presentment of the social teaching of the man who, by the conjunction of the keenest sense of justice with the widest culture and the finest gifts of literary expression, has succeeded in telling our age more of the truths it most requires to know than any other
In Mr. Ruskin's own works it occupies an architectonic place, marking his highest and fullest growth of thought.
The following passage from the last volume of “Fors" gives succinctly Mr. Ruskin's own view of the development of his teaching through his five most representative works.
6. Modern Painters' taught the claim of all lower nature in the hearts of men; of the rock, and wave and herb, as a part of their necessary spirit life; in all that I now bid you to do, to dress the earth and keep it, I am fulfilling what I then began. The • Stones of Venice' taught the laws of constructive art, and the dependence of all human work or edifice, for its beauty, on the happy life of the workman. Unto this Last' taught the laws of that life itself, and its dependence on the Sun of Justice; the Inaugural Oxford Lectures,' the necessity that it should be led, and the gracious laws of beauty and labour recognised, by the upper, no less than the lower, classes of England; and, lastly, · Fors Clavi
gera' has declared the relation of these to each other, and the only possible conditions of peace and honour, for low and high, rich and poor, together in the holding of that first Estate, under the only Despot, God, from which, whoso falls, angel or man, is kept, not mythically nor disputably, but here in visible horror of chains under darkness to the judgment of the great day: and in keeping which service is perfect freedom, and inheritance of all that a loving Creator can give to His creatures, and an immortal Father to His children.” 1
Such is the general growth of Mr. Ruskin's thought and labours, from Nature to Art, through Art to Human Life, in the Art of Life a growing sense of the demands of Eternal Law in the making and governance of Human Society founded on principles of justice and humanity.
1 Fors, Letter lxxviii., vol. iv.
THE INDICTMENT OF CURRENT POLITICAL ECONOMY.
§ 1. Qualifications for Political Economy A trained specialist in
fine work and its products. $2. A master of words and their meanings. $ 3. Sincerity of sight and speech. $ 4. A great analytic genius. § 5. Two heads of the indictment. $ 6. False assumption of an 66 economic man.” § 7. The mechanical treatment of an organic problem. § 8. Attempted humanisation of the “economic man” theory. $ 9. Can there be a science of “getting and spending ?” § 10. Political versus Mercantile Economy. § 11. Wealth rightly includes “ all useful or pleasurable things.” § 12. Wealth measured by life not by money. § 13. True utility, not passing desires, the standard of wealth. § 14. Organic conception of society essential to " Political” Economy. § 15. Production of
" souls of a good quality" the economic goal. § 16. The higher Utilitarianism of Mr. Ruskin. § 17. His pioneer work in social economics.
$ 1. THERE is a curious notion still widely prevalent, that Mr. Ruskin abandoned his proper work as an art teacher in order rashly to embark in Political Economy, for which he had neither natural aptitude nor the requisite training and knowledge. In order to show how ill founded such a notion is, it may be well to enumerate some of the special qualifications he possessed for this work of social and economic criticism. Political Economy, even in that narrow connotation of industrial science from which Mr. Ruskin sought to release it, takes for its subject-matter the work which men put into the
raw material supplied by Nature in order to furnish necessaries or conveniences for human consumption. Now Mr. Ruskin's first qualification is that of being a skilled specialist in the finer qualities of work on the one hand, and of enjoyment or consumption on the other hand. Both from personal practice and from long habits of close observation of the work of skilful men in many places, he obtained a wide and varied knowledge of the handling of different tools and materials for the production of useful and beautiful goods. This experience was by no means confined to painting, sculpture, and the socalled “ fine arts,” but comprised the practical work of architecture, wood and metal work, pottery, jewellery, weaving, and other handicrafts.
His investigations into agriculture, both on the Continent of Europe and in Britain, were minute and painstaking; and though his experiments in reclaiming and draining land were not always successful, they indicated close knowledge of the concrete facts.
Moreover, Mr. Ruskin made a life-long study of animal and vegetable life, and of the structure and composition of the earth, thus gaining an intimate acquaintance with the nature of the raw materials of that wealth which formed the chief subject-matter of commercial economy. He had spent most of his laborious life in patient detailed observation of nature and the works of man. Both from contemporary observation and from study of history, the actual processes by which large classes of goods were produced and consumed were familiar to him. How many of the teachers of Political Economy who have been so scornful of Mr. Ruskin's claims possessed a tithe of this practical knowledge ?
How many of them had studied the growth of the different arts and handicrafts in the history of nature as he had studied them? Most of those who sought to laugh him out of the field of controversy, or to ignore him, were either arm-chair economists, whose knowledge of present industrial facts was almost entirely drawn from books, and whose acquaintance with industrial history, even from books, was then extremely slight, or else business men engaged in some special branch of machine production or finance, whose personal knowledge, sound enough doubtless within its limits, covered but a very small section of the whole industrial field. Of certain large typical modern forms of industry Mr. Ruskin indeed possessed neither experience nor special knowledge; but how many of our most authoritative writers on Political Economy have ever had their training in a cottonmill, a mine, a merchant's office, or a retail shop? So far as first-hand knowledge of work and its results is concerned, Mr. Ruskin enjoyed an immense superiority over his opponents.
§ 2. Another advantage which Mr. Ruskin enjoyed in a supreme degree was his mastery of language. In no study have “masked words” (to adopt his own familiar phrase) played so much havoc as in Political Economy; nowhere have 6 idols of the market-place” so often darkened counsel, pompous well-rounded phrases, which, usurping the dignity of scientific laws, browbeat the humble inquirer who seeks to get behind them to the facts they claim to represent.
This defect was inevitable in a science hastily improvised by gathering together the general results of a number of previously unrelated studies of agriculture, finance