Letter the Fifteenth

From Ruskin, Fors Clavigera, fifteenth letter, March, 1872. Fors is surely the greatest blog of its age, or of ours, for that matter. The fifteenth letter is so strange in its wonderful, mysterious, Ruskinian discursiveness. There’s this, right at the beginning:

…but the unjust relations of the soldier, clergyman, and peasant have been hitherto constant in all great nations; they are full of mystery and beauty in their iniquity…

And toward the end, speaking of the funeral of Colonel James Fiske, who was:

…no more a soldier in deed than you are yourselves, when you go piping and drumming past my gate in Denmark Hill (I should rather say – banging, than drumming, for I observe you hit equally hard and straightforward to every tune; so that from a distance it sounds just like beating carpets), under the impression that you are defending your country as well as amusing yourselves.

I like this, too, in the next paragraph, but who knows why:

I am soon going to Florence myself to draw this beautiful San Giovanni for the beginning of my lectures on Architecture, at Oxford; and you shall have a print of the best sketch I can make, to assist your meditations on the honors of soldiership, and the efficacy of baptism.

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