Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 133.djvu/382

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376

MR. RUSKIN'S WILL.

ern dress. The background is a walled city with many towers, and a lovely landscape with a river winding-through. People are hawking and hunting in the far distance.

Giovanni Villani, mentioning the claims of the Pazzi to be connected with this festivity, says: "The blessed fire of Holy Saturday is distributed throughout the city; an inmate from each house goes to light a taper at the cathedral, land from this solemnity arose great honor to the noble house of Pazzi through one of their ancestors, named Pazzo, who was tall and strong, and could carry a larger fascine of tapers than any one else; he was therefore the first to take the holy fire, and then he distributed it to others."

The use of the car is also explained by the Pazzi family only taking a few tapers at first, in time these were increased in number, and a car was made to carry them. The real origin of the car being forgotten, it was transformed into a trophy, and the tapers into fireworks.

Tantum sevi longinqua valet mutare vetustas!

Janet Ross.




From The Spectator.

MR. RUSKIN'S WILL.

Of all the qualities appertaining to men, and sometimes found even in great men, the one which is becoming most rare in our days is childlikeness. We do not mean childishness, of course, — there is enough and to spare of that, particularly among politicians, — but childlikeness, the genuine simplicity of character which is not directness and not humility — being consistent occasionally with much consciousness and some innocent vanity — but is something per se, a combination of simplicity and effusiveness with the fearlessness which accompanies inexperience. Goldsmith possessed the quality always, and Wordsworth manifested it at times — whenever the bizarre streak in his character, his pecuniary over-frugality, was not operative — Hans Christian Andersen displayed it in annoying perfection — there was something in him, according to the best accounts, of the child's shamelessness as well as of the child's simplicity — and his friends attribute it, we do not know with what justice, to the American poet, Longfellow, but it is becoming rarer every day. The special culture of the hour, with its eternal demand for self-examination, is growing more and more fatal to it, and the next generation, whether they profess to be doves or not, will not forget that Christ told them also to be serpents. It is therefore with a sense of keen intellectual pleasure that we have read the last "Fors Clavigera" in which Mr. Ruskin reveals so fully this element in his character, and in the most exquisite of English explains the ruinous theories about interest and capital on which he has acted through life; gossips away about his fortune and what he has done with most of it, and what he intends to do with the remainder; recapitulates his larger charities, and pardons a non-paying cousin a heavy debt — that cousin's life for a few weeks will be rather a burden to him — and, as it were, reads his will aloud in the market-place, quite simply and like a child, yet with an obvious trace of the feeling which the child expressed, when after refusing a second help of strawberries, she remarked, "Grandmamma, I am tho thatithfied with mythelf." Not that Mr. Ruskin, any more than the child, is proud of the self-sacrifice incidentally involved in his acts. He has merely acted up to his idea, but having acted up to it, he has a little glow of pleasurable self-satisfaction, which he is impelled to mention to his friends, — say, three-fourths of English-speaking and cultivated mankind. "I begin to think," he mentions, "that there is something of the great man about me." He has no fear of being accounted silly, no dread any more than a favored child of want of sympathy, no notion of the half-impression of immodesty with which Englishmen, in their Philistine reticence, receive any communication about very private pecuniary affairs. He says nothing he ought not to have said — though perhaps the cousin forgiven that debt of £15,000 may feel his cheek burn a little — nothing to which the sharpest critic would object if he had said it in an autobiography to be published posthumously, and yet one reads it with a sense that the mind of the man who could say it is not as the mind of other men, that the lofty genius belongs to one who remains and will remain forever a child, a child in the Goldsmith sense, not the Harold Skimpole sense, — a child, let us add, in that highest sense in which the greatest Christian teachers have for ages made of the word a term of admiration.

Mr. Ruskin deserves, at all events, the credit of having lived up to an idea. He seems at a very early age to have imbibed a theory of which there are deep traces in