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it is merely a small mediocrity like itself, set on some sort of stilts, there have not been wanting hints that Ruskin's "word-painting" is an easy matter. The grandiose mediocrity who, rather condescendingly, consented, once and away, to annihilate Ruskin in the Quarterly, is of this opinion. The less grandiose mediocrity who reviewed the first Exhibition Pamphlet in the Art Journal utters some expressions, conceived to be like Ruskin's, and remarks that it is easy for the latter to write like this, however difficult it might, we suppose, be, to discuss the high matters with which his serene littleness is conversant. The compliment thus paid to Ruskin is really too high. He might rival Shakspeare in describing Dover Cliff, but there is no ground for believing, that he could dramatically body forth a Slender or an Aguecheek. We verily believe him incompetent, by the utmost effort, to write what his small critic comically fancies is in his manner. But we have no difficulty whatever in making, to these and all other critics of Ruskin, the concession, that there is such a thing as vague and empty verbosity, that there may be glowing, brilliant, fluent diction, without value of thought, sentiment, or information. A book may glitter all over with rhetorical ornament, may sparkle with metaphor, may, by alliteration and antithesis, please the ear and fix the attention, yet be worthless. But the descriptions of Ruskin are done in a style, which nothing but an ignorance, too crass and unconscious to be ashamed, or a perception jaundiced by malevolence, could confound with the mere glitter of voluble feebleness. There is a correspondence between all the real gifts of nature. The true gleam, if you only know it, will always lead you to the real gold. Able thinkers have recognized, — among them, in express terms, Coleridge and Carlyle,- that a linguistic capacity of sterling and surpassing excellence is

always connected with real mental faculty, intellectual or emotional. And we assert with perfect confidence, that such verbal pictures as are drawn by Ruskin never were drawn, and could not possibly be drawn, without the existence of such real faculty. They are distinguished by one quality which never pertains to false rhetoric: the quality of unity. You may string together fact after fact, and, to make their jingle somewhat more musical, you may put ever so many sounding adjectives between. But in order to place before the eye of the reader the distinct features of a face, nay the exact likeness of a tree, a flower, a snow-flake, so that he will have each plainly within the sphere of his vision, an act of real observation must have been performed, a capacity to see what is distinctive must have been possessed, a certain amount of genuine mental force must have been put in exercise. And if a man sets before you, in all its breadth and clearness; a wide landscape, letting you see its main lines as distinctly as in a surveyor's map, yet covering it with the very colors in which nature has dressed it, it becomes mere stupidity and ignorance to deny the display of real mental power. The easel of a great painter might be covered with brilliant colors, yet the whole would be a daub; the picture he has completed may show every tint on the easel, it may show a great many more, and yet be no daub: in the one case, the colors mean nothing, they are held together by no relation; in the other, every color is in its own place, every tint is vocal, and the voice of the whole is one. Would it not be a poor mistake, to confound the richness and abundance of the picture's color, with the confused brilliancy produced by the many colors of the daub? Yet this is precisely the pitiful and painful mistake of those critics, who, having discovered, by the exercise of their critical genius, that

where there is verbiage there must be many words, exclaim, whenever they perceive many words, that there is verbiage. Ruskin's words are used to bring out the minutest facts of nature, the light and shade on a blade of grass, the blending of hue in the rainbow, the melting into each other of the cloud-shadows upon the mountain side; and critics such as now find admission into the Quarterly, whose verbal powers, of fair average excellence, are to those of Ruskin, as the pictorial talents of a sign-painter are to those of Noel Paton, sneer at his facile word-painting. To show the flickering dance of sunbeams on forest leaves, to set before us the very spring and prancing of the waves, to word-paint the wreathing of the mist and every caprice and humor of the sky, required rather an abundant supply of words; but the supply at Ruskin's command was a small matter to his power of laying them on, to the exquisite precision with which he applied every vocable. In all that we are now saying, we must, for proof, appeal mainly to our own experience, and refer the reader to Ruskin's own pages. We do not, for our part, recall a single instance, in which he has deliberately set himself to place a scene before our eyes, without enabling us, after a sufficiently close and steady look, to see it in its grand, consistent features. We invite readers to test the matter for themselves. But we shall quote one passage, which exhibits as well as recollect, the so-called verbiage of Ruskin. shall peruse it, before we make any remarks a description of the Fall of Schaffhausen: hour beside the Fall of Schaffhausen, on the north side where the rapids are long, and watch how the vault of water first bends, unbroken, in pure polished velocity, over the arching rocks at the brow of the cataract, covering them with a dome of crystal twenty feet thick, so swift

any we can Our readers upon it. It is

"Stand for an

that its motion is unseen except when a foam globe from above darts over it like a falling star; and how the trees are lighted above it under all their leaves, at the instant that it breaks into foam; and how all the hollows of that foam burn with green fire like so much shattering chrysoprase; and how, ever and anon, startling you with its white flash, a jet of spray leaps hissing out of the fall, like a rocket, bursting in the wind and driven away in dust, filling the air with light; and how, through the curdling wreaths of the restless crashing abyss below, the blue of the water, paled by the foam in its body, shows purer than the sky through white rain-cloud; while the shuddering iris stoops in tremulous stillness over all, fading and flushing alternately through the choking spray and shattered sunshine, hiding itself at last among the thick golden leaves which toss to and fro in sympathy with the wild water; their dripping masses lifted at intervals, like sheaves of loaded corn, by some stronger gush from the cataract, and bowed again upon the mossy rocks as its roar dies away; the dew gushing from their thick branches through drooping clusters of emerald herbage, and sparkling in white threads along the dark rocks of the shore, feeding the lichens which chase and chequer them with purple and silver."

It is possible that, at first glance, this may appear a mass of gorgeous confusion: and it is certain that a hurried glance will convey but a slight idea of what it contains. In following the long evolution of the sentence, something of fatigue may be experienced, and the description would doubtless have been more generally and readily appreciated, had the mind been rested by one or two stops skilfully inserted. But it may be questioned whether the impression of concentrated power, of mass, of urgent,

But

irresistible haste, could have been so well conveyed by a succession of sentences. The point to be peculiarly noted, however, is the nature of the "verbiage,” abundant enough no doubt, of the passage. Let the reader, amid all its plenitude of adjective, set his finger, if he can, upon an epithet that could be dispensed with, a word which does not state some fact or define some quality. Had the same space been filled with ejaculations about the grandeur and sublimity of the scene had we heard only of Titanic power, and inexpressible beauty, and tremendous velocity - there would have been an example of verbiage. examine the passage clause by clause, and you find that its richness of expression is not by any means so remarkable as its condensation. The significance of the adjective "polished," applied to the velocity of the vaulted water, might be expanded into pages. You are told, in one word, that the rocks at the brow of the cataract are arched; you see the light breaking up from the foam under the leaves; you are led from sight to sight, until you know the tints of the lichens on the wetted rocks, and mark the foam paling the water under its surface; and from first to last there is not an indefinite touch, a superfluous word. To attempt to detail what is in the passage is found to be impossible: you cannot say what Ruskin has told you in so few words as he has told it.

But masterly as this description is, it can rank only with the less remarkable among Ruskin's pictures of external nature. The subject to be described was comparatively circumscribed, and there was little assistance rendered to the associative imagination, in connecting its bare facts with human sympathy. But in descriptions too numerous to be referred to here, in such pictures as that of the Campagna of Rome under evening light, and that of Tur

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