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Of Many Things.
BY JOHN RUSKIN, MA.
THE STONES OF VENICE," " THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE,”
" Accuse me not
(THE AUTHOR RESERVES THE RIGHT OF TRANSLATION.]
As this preface is nearly all about myself, no one need take the trouble of reading it, unless he happens to be desirous of knowing—what I, at least, am bound to state—the circumstances which have caused the long delay of the work, as well as the alterations which will be noticed in its form.
The first and second volumes were written to check, as far as I could, the attacks upon Turner which prevented the public from honouring his genius, at the time when his power was greatest. The check was partially given, but too late; Turner was seized by painful illness not long after the second volume appeared; his works, towards the close of the year 1815, showed a conclusive failure of power; and I saw that nothing remained for me to write, but his epitaph.
The critics had done their proper and appointed work ; they had embittered, more than those who did not know Turner intimately could have believed possible, the closing years of his life; and had blinded the world in general (as it appears ordained by Fate that the world always
shall be blinded) to the presence of a great spirit among them, till the hour of its departure. With them, and their successful work, I had nothing more to do; the account of gain and loss, of gifts and gratitude, between Turner and his countrymen, was for ever closed. He could only be left to his quiet death at Chelsea, the sun upon his face ; they to dispose a length of funeral through Ludgate, and bury, with threefold honour, his body in St. Paul's, his pictures at Charing Cross, and his purposes in Chancery. But with respect to the illustration and preservation of those of his works which remained unburied, I felt that much might yet be done, if I could at all succeed in proving that these works had some nobleness in them, and were worth preservation. I pursued my task, therefore, as I had at first proposed, with this only difference in method,—that instead of writing in continued haste, such as I had been forced into at first by the urgency of the occasion, I set myself to do the work as well as I could, and to collect materials for the complete examination of the canons of art received among us.
I have now given ten years of my life to the single purpose of enabling myself to judge rightly of art, and spent them in labour as earnest and continuous as men usually undertake to gain position, or accumulate fortune. It is true, that the public still call me an “amateur;
nor have I ever been able to persuade them that it was possible to work steadily and hard with any other motive than that of gaining bread, or to give up a fixed number of hours every day to the furtherance of an object unconnected with personal interests. I have, however, given up so much of