[The following extensive extracts by E. T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, the editors of the Library Edition, from Ruskin's 1848 diary and a letter of the same year appear on IX, 267n5 of The Seven Lamps of Architecture. They provide major and perhaps unexpected evidence of Ruskin's early ecumenical approach to religious belief and the obvious beginnings of his later rejection of his childhood Evangelical belief. James L. Spates read them to a group of fellow Ruskinians inside Rouen Cathedral in June 2010. — George P. Landow].
: — This statement is somewhat surprising in view of Ruskin's strictly Protestant bringmg-up; but foreign travel had readily given him sympathy with the aesthetic side of Roman Catholicism. This appears very strongly in the diary of 1848:
"(ROUEN, October 15). The church service of this afternoon in the cathedral was, I suppose, the last at which we shall be present this journey in a Romanist church; and it has perhaps contributed more to my former ideas of the propriety of splendour of music and architecture in religious service than any at which I have been present of the kind; the congregation full and attentive; the archbishop coming down with his attendants, as usual, to his seat opposite the pulpit, and thence blessing the people; the sermon relating the good that religious men and prelates had done to the city; its text, ' Blessed are the people who have the Lord for their God'; the singing afterwards most saintly and sublime. I felt convinced that freed from abuses, this mode of service was the right one, and that if bishops were bishops indeed, and priests priests indeed, if the doctrines of purgatory and bought absolution, of Mariolatry, and of the vicarianism of the Pope, above all, if dishonesty and doing evil that good might come and doctrines of salvation by works were cast out of the Church, and the Bible made free to the people, that all these proud pillars and painted casements, all these burning lamps and smoking censers, all these united voices and solemn organ peals had their right and holy use in this their service, and that all these white-robed priests and young troops of novice and chorister could be, and ought to be, devoted to their lofty duties and separated from the common world without offence yes, and with high honour, before God. As I never before felt so assured of all this, so, on the other hand, I never more strongly felt the non-importance of all these things as subjects of dispute or of law. In some respects they are little other than matters of taste in religion, certainly not to be enforced upon those whose vulgarity they offend, but still less to be refused to, or blamed in, those whom they edify."
So also in a letter to his father (Rouen, Oct. 9) :
" We have a French Protestant service in the morning, and at 3 in the afternoon we go to vespers in the cathedral. Now, vespers are very nearly our English evening service magnificently chanted; we have the Psalms just as in our cathedrals, only in Latin; then the Magnificat, nobly sung; then some altar chanting and then the sermon; all the priests, novices, etc., coming down from the altar, and the Archbishop from his throne, to sit before the pulpit his crozier and the crucifix held before him by two priests in white stoles, and the little choristers, Paul Veronese like, with their crimson caps, grouped round him; all which gives me intense pleasure. We sit close to him, hear an excellent sermon, receive his blessing with the rest of the congregation / at least very thankfully, and then after some more lovely passages of chanting, we come out into the grey cathedral porch I trust none the worse for an hour so spent, whatever the portion of the congregation may be who leave that porch for the planked passages of the theatre door."]
Last modified 17 July 2010