« AnteriorContinua »
but he could not have done that if he in his influence as in John Newman's. had done nothing else. He could not We judge him imperfectly from his have unveiled the beauty of earth and books. He was a fountain of actual, sky unless to him beauty had been also living influence. When I recall the few language. If to many of those who times of meeting him I have a sense of were most moved by his glowing coming nearer to a human spirit than words it remained mere beauty, it was in recalling the sight of other remarkmuch to them because it was more to able men, a sense I could not justify by him. The message of a teacher, as it any words he spoke, even if I could lives in the mind of a learner, is neces- quote them. There was something in sarily incomplete. If it is to be a vital him forthcoming, trustful, human. The growth it must be also a fragment. occasion on which I felt this most was
In calling Ruskin the heir rather of once at the National Gallery, where I Newman than of Wordsworth, and yet was copying a picture, and he came to considering his teaching mainly a ren- look at my attempt. He cannot have dering in eloquence of Wordsworth's praised it, or I should remember what poetry, I have tried to mark the effect he said, but I remember feeling almost of his personality. What we mean by embarrassed by the wonderful respectpersonal influence is difficult to define; fulness in his attention. It was not in some sense all influence must be per- that he was a distinguished man and I sonal; and if it be taken as implying an a girl producing a mediocre daub-we impressive personality, it could not be were, for the time, two students of applied to him. When he first became Turner, standing side by side before a a familiar figure in London drawing- great work. And, again, I felt this, the rooms as a young man, I fancy the last time I ever saw him. It was in his effect on the ardent admirers of his drawing-room at Denmark Hill; years book was disappointing. The general had passed and everything impression, as far as I can recall it after changed. I suppose it was at the sadfifty years, was somewhat pallid, some- dest time of his life. “The world looks what ineffective. There was nothing black to me,” is the only speech I rein the unsubstantial, but not graceful, member, and I do not remember the figure, the aquiline face, the pale tone words accurately, but they give an imof coloring, the slight lisp, to suggest a pression from that visit of which I am prophet. I recall these faint echoes certain. It happened to be a very infrom my girlhood, because in their very convenient visit to him; he had written insignificance they bring out what I to beg me and a friend to defer it, and mean by the personal element in his in. some mistake about his letter brought fluence. The impression of such a per- him his undesired guests in spite of it, sonality as John Newman's, for in- but he showed us his Turners as grastance (whom I never saw), might have ciously as if he had been longing to see created a glamor concealing the influ- us, and I felt again how wonderfully he ence of soul on soul. There was no accepted any love of art as an equal glamor about Mr. Ruskin. I daresay platform where we might communicate anything which might be so described without any looking up or down. I rewas at its lowest when he was
call the sad, wandering expression in against the background of “Society," as his eyes as they met mine, with a wonhe never was after the beginning of his
derful sense of pathos; it was like lookfame. But there could never have been ing into the face of a child. And again much of it at any time. And yet the I felt that contact with an unshrinking element of a personality was as much humanity which makes up, surely, a
large part of the reminiscence of all his acquaintance. Perhaps I seem to describe a quite ordinary quality in using those words, yet, in truth, it is very rare. The sense of contact with a human spirit, a real meeting-as distinguished from a passing recognition-is, with most persons, a distinction stamped with preference. It must be a part of the recollection of all personal dealing with him, even when it was not all genial. I remember about the same time as my National Gallery interview, a beautiful girl speaking with impatience of his "affected humility,” and the remark of a hearer that one would be glad of a little even affected humility in him. The two remarks recur with reference to a quality which was, I am sure, deeply sincere, but which, no doubt, seemed heterogeneous with much else in him. It was mainly those who knew him through his books who thought him conceited. Whatever they may have had to complain of, it was not anything that had a touch of condescension. Whatever they may have missed, it was not the open door of an hospitable mind.
I should sum up the impressions I have tried to revive in saying that Ruskin seemed to me to gather up all that was best in spiritual democracy.
Of what may be called his democracy in a more exact sense I have confessed that I have nothing to say. In spite of some weighty testimony, I cannot regard it as even a strong influence, from him on his time; it seems to me rather the vivid expression of a strong influence upon him from others. But it sprang from that central core of his teaching, his belief in beauty as a Divine Sacrament. For this belief involves the conviction that this table of the Lord must be open to all. From that feast none must be shut out. And the discovery that whole classes are shut out, that the bulk of the world's workers cannot see the beauty of a
tree or a flower, because sordid cares and physical wretchedness weave an opaque veil before their eyes—this discovery made Ruskin a Socialist. Why, he seemed always saying, should a message, in its nature universal, be silenced by luxury on the one hand, as much as by penury on the other? The feverish hunt for wealth curtains off the influence of Nature almost as much as the desperate struggle with poverty, while the commercial development which creates a few millionaires and a mass of overdriven workers (so he reasoned) creates also a hideous world. He longed to spread the truly human life. He hated the phase of civilization which cut off, as he thought, from whole classes of men the power to drink in the message of Nature and of Art. Those of his writings which deal with this subject fail to exhibit to my eyes the grace and force which belong to his earlier period. But their true spirit of brotherhood must be acknowledged by all.
Ruskin must always have been singularly open to influence from other minds. I remember well his meeting Frederick Maurice at our house, soon after the publication of his “Notes on the Construction of Sheepfolds,” a little theological pamphlet which, according to a story told and probably invented at the time, was bought by a farmer who thought its title an index to its contents. Mr. Maurice was made very indignant by some passage in it which suggested a stricter fencing of the Christian life from the invasion of sinners. "Mr. Ruskin ought to do pen. ance in a white sheet for such a doctrine," he said, in a letter to a common friend. The letter was shown to Ruskin and drew from him a beautifully candid and simple request for explanation, unaccompanied by an angry word. Mr. Maurice was profoundly touched, and the little correspondence brought out from those two noble souls a music
that lingers in my ears as does hardly whatever it was, as fully as ever did a
The Contemporary Review.
NEW ENGLAND IN WAR-TIME.
It is difficult to say whether the two is not so unnecessary as it may seem, Englands, the Old and the New, have as several writers and especially novor have not more points of resemblance elists appear to confound it with the than of contrast. They are very like, whole of the American Union, oblivious and also very unlike. Both are sepa- of the fact that it is merely its small rated from the rest of the world by easternmost corner, the six states origitangible barriers, and, in a measure, nally settled by the English Puritans, isolated. England is cut off by sundry who gave it its name, and the social, reseas and watery channels from the con- ligious and intellectual characteristics tinent of Europe and her adjacent for which it has long been known. islands, and divided from her only land This complete or partial isolaneighbor by romantic, if not very lofty, tion has led to conditions of much hills. New England is nearly severed similarity in the two countries in from the rest of the American continent regard to wars-that is, to the (speaking without minute geographical wars of their respective empires, if one exactness) by a range of picturesque may so speak. Both, for many years, mountains and two noble and broad- have been centres of comparative calm, flowing rivers; while the Atlantic Ocean while the storms of battle have raged forms an effective barrier between her without. England, though her armies shores and the continents of this hemi- have been fighting almost continuously sphere. If the Old England is physical abroad, and in or upon the outskirts of ly insular, the New England is penin- her
distant possessions, has sular; and it is possible that the limita- known no war in any large military tions which are supposed to character- sense for upwards of two hundred ize the people of the one are not wholly years. New England cannot claim unshared by those of the other.
quite so long an iminunity, the battles To explain and define New England of Bunker Hill and Bennington and the
encounter at Lexington having taken century, and, of course, those of the place within her borders; but even dur- Mexican War some years later, as well ing the Revolution the main tides of as the recent Spanish War with its conflict flowed elsewhere-in New York, legacy in the Philippines. It is needless New Jersey, and the more Southern to say that all the operations of the States. To find the Puritan States un- American Civil War were carried on at der the stress of general warfare with- a distance from the New England in their own limits, one must go back States. to the seventeenth century, to the strug- The two Englands, therefore, are gles with the native Indian tribes. Here alike in long exemption from internal one meets with fighting of the most wars, and in sending forth their citisanguinary kind, horrors enough and to zens to wage them in other fields. spare, and, as George Herbert says, the younger community, the closest an"anguish of all sizes." There is 10 alogy to the conditions now existing more painful reading than the accounts here was furnished by the great Civil of the night attacks by the stealthy and War of 1861-65. It was called variouscruel savages on the unprepared Eng- ly a war of secession, a civil war, and lish settlements, such as Deerfield, Had- a rebellion; but with respect to most of ley and others, and the massacres of the Northern States, it had much more men, women and children that fol- the nature of a foreign war. The falowed. It is the stuff that nightmares mous political line known as Mason's are made of. The humane and civilized and Dixon's, which divided the slaveEnglish of the seventeenth century,- owning states from those in which the speaking, as we always must, in the “peculiar institution” has long ceased to comparative degree, for there were exist, was by no means unlike the abundant faults on their own side- boundary between two different nafound themselves plunged back into the tions. I have personally a faint recolconditions of the eighth and ninth, lection of crossing the mystic parallel when the Danes
the land, in early youth, and, although there was burning town, hamlet and monastery, frontier custom-house or marked and sparing none. The battles of the change in the dress or speech of the early settlers, in dark forests and people on entering the Southern domintreacherous swamps, with Pequods, ions, of feeling myself on foreign Narragansets and Wampanoags (names ground. It is not, indeed, too much to probably more picturesque than their say that, throughout the greater porowners) may not have been magnifi- tion of the North, the call to arms by cent, but they were certainly war of the President Lincoln, after the attack on most effective kind, and usually meant Fort Sumter in 1861, was responded to little less than the extermination of the in much the same spirit that would vanquished tribes. After the period of have been aroused by the invasion of original conquest and occupation, how- a foreign foe. ever, the zone of Indian fighting moved The lack of military preparations westward, and, as I have said, the land throughout the North at the opening of saw little warfare on its own soil. The the conflict is supposed to furnish one battles with the French, which cost of the lessons of history, and the speed this country the lives of Braddock and with which they were made, when it Wolfe and first brought Washington was seen to be inevitable, another. No into prominence, were fought elsewhere; large regular army, it is needless to say, so, too, were those in the second con- with an organized body of reserves and flict with England early in the present militia to draw from, existed; the
small standing army of the Union be- of the South. The countryman often ing, at the time, parcelled out into min- fared hardly, and in many places it was ute bodies of men serving as garrisons no mere figure to say that the climate in various forts or stations widely sep- slew more than the enemy. As a rule, arated from each other and usually re- he was not a traveller. Men in the mote from the seat of government. The amphibious communities of the coast, vast Northern army of the war, which it is true, sometimes made voyages, long began with seventy-five thousand men, or short, but the inland farmer and laenlisted for three months in 1861, was borer were apt to be fixtures, except mainly a volunteer one, the draft not when they went West for good. It is taking place till later in the struggle. supposed by some that persons of maBut all this, again, is matter of history, ture life who have never been beyond and straying into wider fields than my the boundaries of their parish are petitle allows. In the New England culiar to these islands; I have, however, States the call to war was responded met with individuals in the remoter to with an enthusiasm not surpassed in parts of the land of Longfellow who any other part of the country. It is had rarely or never visited the town curious that the states which disap- nearest them, and regarded the attracproved most strongly of the war with this tions of the more distant centres like country in 1812-14, and withheld their Boston, New Haven, and New York, as support as much as possible, should the French peasant in the poem did the hare burst into a flame of patriotism at fabled glories of Carcassonne, only with the threat of civil war. But doubtless less desire to behold them. Others I the issues at stake were felt to be of have seen who literally had never been more importance, and the impending out of the township in which they were conflict promised to be within strictly born. Living, therefore, all his life in sectional bounds. To say truth, from a climate of noted healthfulness, if of the land of the Puritans, or of their severe extremes, it is not surprising descendants, to the sunny South, it was that the rural New Englander often then a particularly far cry, and the sep- found the conditions of less tonic lati. arating gulf was not one of distance tudes more deadly than the enemy's only. The bar of social differences and bullets. In this respect he was less repulsions which slavery and a large fortunate than his British brother, slave-owning class had erected, had whose much maligned climate seems an grown more and more formidable as excellent preparative for every other. the years went by.
Nevertheless, he not infrequently surThe fitness of the New Englander, vived the agues of Virginia, and the whether bred in town or country, for rigors of yellow fever in New Orleans, the duties of a soldier was abundantly as well as the hail of lead, and returned demonstrated in the proof. The man home with a broadened horizon. One of the fields, no doubt, had a better phy- indispensable requisite for soldiering sique to begin with, for my impression he possessed in common with most is that the New England townsman was Americans; he had the hereditary inthen somewhat lacking in robustness, stinct of marksmanship, the latent, if the tide of athletics not having fully not always developed, capacity for set in; but the more varied conditions shooting straight. The blood of the early of urban life, and perhaps a better Indian fighters still ran in his veins, knowledge of hygienic laws, gave the though he was rarely cognizant of their town-enlisted soldier an advantage in exploits; and he had enjoyed a fair the malarial and fever-stricken districts amount of practice upon the game of