The Exquisite Tragedy: An Intimate Life of John Ruskin

By Amabel Williams-Ellis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV

Circa 1924-1833: Aged 5-14



FIRST LOVE

1

THE tragic summary and analysis that Ruskin made of his own childhood need no comment. But Ruskin has left out a circumstance which was hinted at in the last chapter which will seem to a reader of to-day (used to the leisurely modern methods of education) another fault: that was his parents' encouragement of the child's natural precocity. By the time he was five Ruskin tells us that he was already "sending to the library for his second volume."

His first piece of literary work was a continuation of Miss Edgeworth's story of Frank, Harry and Lucy, a tale which he combined with edifying facts out of Joyce's Scientific Dialogues. It was prophetic of Ruskin's later career that of this work four volumes were projected and one and a quarter accomplished. He wrote it in a neat imitation of printing, and it is much concerned with an electrical apparatus which Harry's father had given him, and which became alternatively positively and negatively electrified.

But by nine years old he was writing in the style of Pope, or Young, with incredible, even maddening correctness:

When first the wrath of Heaven o'erwhelmed the world,
And o'er the rocks, and hills, and mountains, hurl'd
The waters' gathering mass; and sea o'er shore -
The mountains fell, and vales, unknown before,
Lay where they were. Far different was the Earth
When first the flood came down, than at its second birth.

-21-

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The Exquisite Tragedy: An Intimate Life of John Ruskin
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • AUTHOR'S PREFACE vii
  • Contents xi
  • PART I 1
  • Chapter I 1
  • Chapter II 6
  • Chapter III 14
  • Chapter IV 21
  • Chapter V 24
  • Chapter VI 37
  • Chapter VII 51
  • Chapter VIII 63
  • PART II 81
  • Chapter IX 81
  • Chapter X 89
  • Chapter XI 100
  • Chapter XII 106
  • Chapter XIII 115
  • Chapter XIV 124
  • Chapter XV 135
  • Chapter XVI 143
  • PART III 149
  • Chapter XVII 149
  • Chapter XVIII 159
  • Chapter XIX 169
  • Chapter XX 178
  • Chapter XXI 188
  • Chapter XXII 203
  • Chapter XXIII 214
  • Chapter XXIV 223
  • Chapter XXV 236
  • Chapter XXVI 248
  • Chapter XXVII 256
  • PART IV 265
  • Chapter XXVIII 265
  • Chapter XXIX 273
  • Chapter XXX 291
  • Chapter XXXI 299
  • Chapter XXXII 304
  • Chapter XXXIII 315
  • Chapter XXXIV 328
  • Chapter XXXV 336
  • CHRONOLOGY 343
  • Appendix A 359
  • APPENDIX B 361
  • APPENDIX C 363
  • Index 367
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