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Morley calls him one of the “three giants of prose style” of the nineteenth century. On the other hand, Saintsbury aptly writes of the “flamboyant variety” of his prose, and Brownell thinks that his position as an English classic is imperiled by his “lack of substance in his matter and the lack of form in his style." It is true that there are times when his emotional excess and love of adornment lead him into a flamboyant variety of expression, and his digressions and self-sufficiency prevent his work from attaining that classic unity and finality which we find in the greatest masters; but nevertheless there are so many pages which in their beauty of form and nobility of substance attain perfection that he must be numbered among the few masters of style.

In Praeterita Ruskin tells us that "writing never gave me the kind of pain of which Carlyle so wildly complains. me no serious trouble.” This, however, is but a partial truth, for Ruskin often was most painstaking in his methods of literary composition. E. T. Cook, his latest and best biographer, after an examination of his method of composition, reaches this conclusion: “Ruskin spared no labor ... to assist his mastery of language and intuitive sense for melody."

The following well-known passage from Unto This Last is a good illustration of the beautiful charm of his style. It it we have simplicity of language, melodious phrasing, poetical imagery, elevation of thought, and a climax in which a Biblical expression is used with consummate art:

.. It gave

“So long as men live by bread, the far-away valleys must laugh, as they are covered with the gold of God, and the shouts of His happy multitude ring round the winepress and the well. . . . No scene is continually and untiringly loved, but one rich by joyful human labor; smooth in field; fair in garden; full in orchard, trim, sweet, and frequent in homestead; ringing with voices of vivid existence. No air is sweet that is silent; it is only sweet when full of low currents of under-sound - triplets of birds, and murmur and chirp of insects, and deep-toned words of men, and wayward trebles of childhood. As the art of life is learned, it will be found at last that all lovely things are also necessary -- the wild flower by the wayside, as well as the tended corn; and the wild birds and creatures of the forest, as well as the tended cattle; because man doth not live by bread alone, but also by the desert manna; by every wondrous word and unknowable work of God.”

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Influence as a Writer.- La Farge has said that Ruskin's long and laborious work on art has no authority with artists, and Whistler, who had engaged in a lawsuit with Ruskin, called him the “Peter Parley of painting.” It may be true that Ruskin's art criticism lacks finality and authority, but he has done more to quicken appreciation of art than any other English writer, and every artist whose pictures have been bought by an appreciative public is under obligation to the man who popularized art. His books on art have been translated into French, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, and Hungarian. His influence has been fruitful because he insisted upon truth and sincerity, upon the unity of art, and upon the value of art, not for its own sake, but for its relation to human life.

He was not fitted either by training or by temperament to found and develop a system of social reconstruction. But he was fitted to protest in winged words against an industrial system that considered men lower than dividends and cheaper than the beasts of the field. He perhaps more than any other writer has helped to bring about a new spirit in the study of social problems; the spirit which, instead of wasting itself in the dialectics of political economy, strives to improve social and industrial conditions by preaching and practicing that justice which is founded on the gospel of love.


Life of Ruskin. Cook.
Life of Ruskin. COLLINGWOOD.
Ruskin and his Circle. EARLAND,
John Ruskin. BENSON.
Homes and Haunts of Ruskin. Cook.
Tennyson, Ruskin, and Browning. Lady RITCHIE.
Ruskin and the Religion of Beauty. DE LA SIZERANNE.


John Ruskin. BROWNELL. Scrib., vol. 27, p. 502.
John Ruskin as an Art Critic. MOORE. Atl., vol. 86, p. 438.
Glimpses of Ruskin. REES. Liv. Age, vol. 238, p. 385.
From Art to Social Reform. DURRANT. 19th Cent., vol. 67, p. 922.
Ruskin and Girlhood. HARKER. Scrib., vol. 40, p. 561.
Ruskin as a Master of Prose. HARRISON. 19th Cent., vol. 38, p. 561.
John Ruskin at Home, SPIELMANN. McClure's, vol. 2, p. 315.
St. George's Company. SCUDDER. Atl., vol. 42, p. 39.



English song. During his lifetime he enjoyed renown and popularity such as has been allotted to but few English poets, and as the years since his death grow in number his fame seems to suffer no diminution. He was fortunate in the number of his days, his life being almost coextensive with the nineteenth century. From August, 1809, to October, 1892, is more than eighty-three years. The sum total of the lives of the three brilliant poets living when Tennyson was a boy, Byron, Keats, and Shelley, is but a few more years than eighty-three; and counting a man's life work in literature as beginning at twenty, a very early age, the three poets named had about thirty years of work to Tennyson's more than twice thirty. During these many years of activity volume after volume to the number of twenty-six issued from his prolific, but not hasty, pen— love songs, ballads,

a so-called medley, patriotic war songs, elegies, odes, translations, pastorals, romances, philosophic and religious meditations — all reflecting the science and art, the hope and gloom, the faith and doubt, the aspiration and despondency of the nineteenth century. Byron despised his age; Keats sought for inspiration in the Golden Age of the past; Shelley dreamed of the Golden Age that is yet to be; Tennyson is the poet of his own age.

Parentage and Early Education. — The story of Tennyson's life is not the narrative

“Of moving accidents by flood and field,

Of hair-breadth scapes i’ the imminent deadly breach," but the record of the quiet, prosperous, meditative artist. Chaucer was a prisoner ransomed by his king, sent on missions to foreign lands, and robbed of the king's money; Shakspere was a busy man of affairs; Byron spent his last year in a chivalrous expedition to succor Greece; Scott broke down in a noble endeavor to pay his debts. Nothing of this sort made exciting the life of Tennyson; he was first and last a poet, and a poet unromantic enough to be growing more and more prosperous as the years passed by.

Alfred was the fourth in a family of twelve children, ten of whom lived to be over seventy. The father, the Rev. Dr. George Clayton Tennyson, was rector of Somersby and Wood Enderby. He was a man of large frame and various talents; of good education, enabling him to prepare his sons for the university. In view of the early melancholy of Alfred, it is significant that the father was subject to fits of despondency which scared the young Alfred, who sometimes went out through the black night, and threw himself on a grave in the churchyard, praying to be beneath the sod himself. The poem Isabel is a partial description of the mother of the family. On the whole, Tennyson's days in his boyhood were happy days. The boys and girls were of an imaginative nature; they played games, improvised dramas, told and wrote stories, read romances, and wrote verses. They had healthy English natures, and loved to roam the fields. Nature and art had made the region about Somersby rich in beauty. It is easy to imagine the youthful Alfred, like Shakspere in Warwickshire, spending his early, impressionable years in loving intimacy with God's out-of-doors. In the summer time the family spent their holiday in a cottage by the sea. His poetry, from Break, Break, Break to Crossing the Bar, bears witness to Tennyson's love of the sea. He himself said, “Somehow water is the element I love best of the four."

In 1827 Poems by Two Brothers appeared, with the modest motto: Haec nos novimus esse nihil.

The two brothers were Charles and Alfred, who had much in common. Before this Alfred had written in imitation of Thomson, of Pope, and of Byron. There was nothing of striking merit in these poems. Tennyson in his mature days was half-ashamed of these first

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