From Fors Clavigera
by John Ruskin

Hideous frontispiece

From Letter XCVI. — (TERMINAL.)


This lovely history, of a life spent in the garden of God, sums, as it illumines, all that I have tried to teach in the series of letters which I now feel that it is time to close.

The “Go and do thou likewise,” which every kindly intelligent spirit cannot but hear spoken to it, in each sentence of the quiet narrative, is of more searching and all-embracing urgency than any appeal I have dared to make in my own writings. Looking back upon my efforts for the last twenty years. I believe that their failure has been in very great part owing to my compromise with the infidelity of this outer world, and my endeavour to base my pleading upon motives of ordinary prudence and kindness, instead of on the primary duty of loving God,— foundation other than which can no man lay. I thought myself speaking to a crowd which could only be influenced by visible utility; nor was I the least aware how many entirely good and holy persons were living in the faith and love of God as vividly and practically now as ever in the early enthusiasm of Christendom, until, chiefly in consequence of the great illnesses which, for some time after 1878, forbade my accustomed literary labour, I was brought into closer personal relations with the friends in America, Scotland, Ireland, and Italy, to whom, if I am spared to write any record of my life, it will be seen that I owe the best hopes and highest thoughts which have supported and guided the force of my matured mind. These have shown me, with lovely initiation, in how many secret places the prayer was made which I had foolishly listened for at the corners of the streets; and on how many hills which I had thought left desolate, the hosts of heaven still moved in chariots of fire.

But surely the time is come when all these faithful armies should lift up the standard of their Lord,— not by might, nor by power, but by His spirit, bringing forth judgment unto victory. That they should no more be hidden, nor overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. If the enemy cometh in like a flood, how much more may the rivers of Paradise? Are there not fountains of the great deep that open to bless, not destroy?

And the beginning of blessing, if you will think of it, is in that promise, “Great shall be the peace of thy children.” All the world is but as one orphanage, so long as its children know not God their Father; and all wisdom and knowledge is only more bewildered darkness, so long as you have not taught them the fear of the Lord.

Not to be taken out of the world in monastic sorrow, but to be kept from its evil in shepherded peace;— ought not this to be done for all the children held at the fonts beside which we vow, in their name, to renounce the world? Renounce! nay, ought we not, at last, to redeem?

The story of Rosy Vale is not ended;— surely out of its silence the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing, and round it the desert rejoice, and blossom as the rose!