Painters, and no Lamps. Instead, there might have been such an analysis, and such pictures, of the human landscape of England as would have furnished the coming generations with a complete philosophy of planning and design. Excited, dazzled, and overwhelmed by the rapture of travel, Ruskin excited, dazzled, and overwhelmed his age by the splendour of his language: he imposed his standards of appreciation with the united authority of an artist, a critic, and a moralist: and to the business in hand, whether it was building churches or housing the people, those standards were for the most part irrelevant, precisely because his just insistence on 'climate, situation, and turn of mind' had, in England, no backing of historical knowledge or direct observation. It was a conception without perception, and therefore empty. We were left, at the most critical period of our artistic history, without any body of native aesthetic thought to resist the invasion of deceased styles and alien manners, and to preserve the 'unity of feeling which is the first principle of good taste'. In 1936, with the connivance of the Crown, three savages destroyed the Court House at Eltham, in its place and kind one of the loveliest things surviving in England. It had, they said, no historical or architectural interest: it did not belong to any of the styles or periods which are scheduled for admiration. But if it had not been for Ruskin and the Gothic revival, they might have noticed that it was beautiful.


NO SERVILE TENURE1

MESSRS DUCKWORTH continue to provide the public with short biographies which maintain an excellent standard of craftsmanship. I must not go on be-rating the Dirty Twenties, a topic to which, I am warned, my pen too frequently recurs. But I own it gives me a great deal of satisfaction to think that there is a growing market for sage and serious biography, and that there should be so many writers capable of meeting the demand.

____________________
1
Charles I, by Pansy Pakenham; Peel, by G. Kitson Clark.

-74-

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Victorian Essays
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • Victorian Centenary 13
  • The Age of Tennyson 46
  • Eyes and No Eyes 70
  • Thackeray 74
  • Mr and Mrs Dickens 79
  • The Schoolman in Downing Street1the Two Mr Gladstones, by G. T. Garratt. 82
  • Mr Gladstone 90
  • The Happy Family 110
  • The Greatest Victorian 116
  • The Mercian Sibyl 129
  • The Victorian Noon-Time 133
  • Sophist and Swashbuckler 142
  • The Faith of The Grandfathers 146
  • Tempus Actum 153
  • B. A. Kohnfeldt 158
  • Katherine Stanley And John Russell 162
  • Maitland 173
  • Topsy 178
  • The New Cortegiano 183
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