The Exquisite Tragedy: An Intimate Life of John Ruskin

The Exquisite Tragedy: An Intimate Life of John Ruskin

The Exquisite Tragedy: An Intimate Life of John Ruskin

The Exquisite Tragedy: An Intimate Life of John Ruskin

Excerpt

Though dogma and taboo certainly exist in England and America to-day, they occupy a much less dominating place than they did a generation ago, or than they may occupy a generation hence. For this reason, we, in the third decade of the Twentieth Century, when we want to decide what is right, or wrong, or good, or not good, to be done, are apt to turn to experience.

Even if we look back no farther than the last century and the streets and hills that we know, we see that all sorts of men have tried all sorts of ways of living. There seems to be an infinite combination of characters, fates, and opinions. We feel that if only history were more reliable, and biographers and autobiographers more honest and industrious, we might really be able, by tracing out the curves of experience in the past, to decide some of the problems which come up for solution in the present, and can no longer be decided by reference to an accepted code.

What sort of upbringing will fit such or such a child for such or such a life?

Is strictness or freedom best in love?

How much money or how much leisure ought people to have?

How hard ought people to work for their livings?

Is the best intellectual work done in solitude, or must there be the restriction and stimulation of working with colleagues?

Then behind all these respectable conundrums there is the insistent and monotonous question that we are really asking. What we really ask all the time, when we ask experience for its verdict on right and wrong, is how we can get out of suffer-

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