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Decorative Initial Scott was the presiding literary genius of the Ruskin household, and it is Scottish landscape that Ruskin describes in his first poems. Only somewhat later did Wordsworth and the Lake District become important sources for his poetry. By 1830, when Ruskin was eleven, we find Wordsworth's The Excursion (1814) exerting an influence upon his Iteriad or Three Weeks Among the Lakes. Wordsworth's philosophic poem came to have great and lasting significance for Ruskin; indeed, early on it occupied a central place in his thought. As Wordsworth's "Bible of the Universe," the poem formed one of the crucial links between Ruskin's Evangelicalism and "Nature-scripture" (5:191), the testament of the created world that he dedicated himself to read. The Evangelicals preached the immediate witness of the Spirit in the lives of the faithful. Ruskin's religious sensibility was permeated by this particular doctrine of Evangelical faith, but he perceived the witness as mediated by nature. He spent his youth, in some sense, in the urgent and difficult quest of a Spirit in nature that was both natural and orthodox.

Suggested Reading

Finley, C. Stephen. "Scott, Ruskin, and the Landscape of Autobiography." Studies in Romanticism. 26 (1987): 549-72.

Helsinger, Elizabeth K. Ruskin and the Art of the Beholder. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1982. 48-50.

Morgan, Peter F. "Ruskin and Scott's Ethical Greatness." Scott and His Influence. eds. J. H. Alexander and David Hewitt. Aberdeen: Association for Scottish Literary Studies, 1983. 403-13.


Victorian Overview John Ruskin

Last modified 26 March 2002