STYLE, according to Ruskin, has a moral foundation. But if style is based on character and great style on noble character it would seem reasonable to inquire what noble character is. In spite of his constant reliance upon the term noble Ruskin leaves it without definition till the last volume of Modern Painters. In the first volume "objects worthy of contemplation," which were to be represented truly, were found to consist in those which were "beautiful" and "noble," but no attempt was made to give specifically the characteristics of nobility. This was also the case when, in the second and third volumes, it was found that great art could be appreciated and produced only by rare and cultivated minds. Such minds possessed "noble natures"; they were prophets of the good life; like Carlyle's heroes they did not appear often upon this earth. 1 But the outlines of their nobility were never clearly stated.
Now what Ruskin means by nobility is most perfectly revealed by his disquisition on the nature of vulgarity. Nobility, it seems, is practically synonymous with gentlemanliness, the quality to which the Victorian bourgeoisie universally aspired and, according to Ruskin, too seldom attained. The influence of Ruskin's English environment is nowhere more clearly marked than in these opinions, but his effort to free the ideal of gentility from its popu-