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The new path
Vol. I, No. 1 (May 1863)

Ruskin, J.
A letter from Mr. Ruskin,   pp. 9-10


Page 10

A Letter from ir. Ruskin.
one of our most excellent newspapers.
We quote so much of the letter to the
Commercial as relates to Mr. Ruskin,
"Ward," is speaking of the Royal
Academy Exhibition.
"A number of what are called Pre-
Raphaelite pictures have been admit-
ted by the Committee. Why those
absurd caricatures of nature are given
this title has always been a mystery to
me, although I amn familiar with the
theories  and  explanations  given.
Ruskin, while showing me one of this
school upon the wall of his dressing-
room, confessed that lie did not look
at it with the samne idea which had at
first attracted and perhaps blinded
him. The truth is that trans-Atlantic
art-lovers will never understand why
Ruskin has favored in a measure this
school, until they see the feeble, child-
ish, unreal condition of art here. The
sect called the Pre-Raphaelites are
distinct from the mass, because they
are earnest, conscientious to a fault,
and seein impelled with the deepest
sentiment, and most genuine feeling.
The Huguenot by Millais, which is
familiar to your readers, is one of the
best illustrations of my meaning."
Shortly after these letters ceased to
be published, probably owing to the
return of the author from England,
reports of other and more important
conversations of his with Mr. Ruskin
began to be widely circulated. These
stories all ran to the same tune, viz.:
that Mr. Ruskin had made no secret
of his hearty regret for all that lhe had
ever written about Turner, for this
good reason among others, that by his
writings he had so raised the price of
Turner's works, that it was now utter-
ly out of his power to procure one for
himself ! that his views had thorough-
ly changed with regard to Claude, and
that lie now saw that lie had been
blinded by prejudice in what he had
written against him; that he would
give all lie is worth if lie could take
back every word that he has written;
&c., &c., &c.
We have rio desire to pursue this
accomplished purveyor of fiction fur-
thler, we only wonder if the time will
ever come when editors of newspapers
will thinkl it Worth while to examine
with the same care into the fitness of
those who undertake to write about
art for their columns, that they nse in
the selection of the men who are to
prepare the money article, write the
reviews of current literature, or the
leaders upon public matters. When
they do, writers like "Ward " will find
their occupation gone, and one of the
delicate wires by which they make
their puppet, the public, dance to what-
ever tune the speculation of the hour
demiands, broken beyond mending.-
But to the letter;
Geneva, February 16th, 1863.
Mly -Dear Sir:-I regret that your
letter did not reach me till yesterday,
owing to my absence from England.
It is seldom that falsehoods are so
direct, pure, and foundationless as
those which you have given me this
opportunity of contradicting. Every
year of my life shows me some higher
and more secret power in Turner; and
deepens my contempt for Claude.
I believe, at this moment the Pre-
Raphaelite school of painting, (centred
in England, but with branches in other
countries,) to be the only vital and
true school of painting in Europe;
and its English leader, Dante G.
Rossetti, to be, without any compare,
the greatest of English. painters now
li ving.
Make anv use of this letter, and of
these statements, that you please; but
permit me to express my regret that
they should be necessary. Either my
works, are entirely worthless, or they
are, at least in some measure, what
they profess to be throughout, demon-
strations, or illustrations of truths: not
expressions of opinion. If I have not
shown that Turner is greater than
Claude, (quite infinitely greater,) my
life has been wasted. And if I have,
inquiries as to my opinions, present or
past, are surely irrelevant. Whether
I have oi not, the facts are ascertain-
able, (else there is no art of painting;)
and the question is not what any one
thinks, but what is the truth of the
matter.  Believe me, my   dear sir,
yours, very truly,
J. RUSKIN.


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