Thanks to Professor Spates for sharing the following from “The Stray Angel (Recollections on Ruskin’s Birthday)" from the entry for February 8th on his blog, Why Ruskin?. — George P. Landow

Decorated initial T

here were those who, as if they had been touched by an alchemist, were utterly transformed by Ruskin's writing, the few who took what they had learned from him, transferred it into action, and changed the world with that new knowledge. Changed India to be exact, and, in the wake of that alteration, created a tsunami which, before only a few decades had passed, swamping the entire colonial world, a world which had reigned supreme for over three centuries. Gandhi--who wrote about the effect Ruskin had on his life in his An Autobiography, Or the Story of my Experiments with Truth (1927), this way--applause which, surely, would have brought a satisfied smile to the face of that little three-year old who, standing on a stool in London in 1822, had enjoined the people within sound of his voice to "be good."

I cannot claim much book knowledge. However, I believe I have not lost much because of this enforced restraint. On the contrary, the limited reading I have done may be said to have enabled me thoroughly to digest what I did read.

Of these books, the one that brought about an instantaneous and practical transformation in my life was [Ruskin's] Unto this Last. I translated it later into Gurjarati, entitling it Sarvodaya ("The Welfare of All"). I believe that I discovered some of my deepest convictions reflected in this great book of Ruskin's, and that is why it so captivated me and made me transform my life...

The teaching of Unto this Last I understood to be:

1. That the good of the individual is contained in the good of all.

2. That a lawyer's work has the same value as the barber's, inasmuch as all have the same right of earning their livelihood from their work.

3. That a life of labor--i.e., the life of a tiller of the soil and the handicraftsman--is the life worth living.

The first of these I knew. The second I had dimly recognized. The third had never occurred to me. Unto this Last made it as clear as daylight for me that the second and the third were contained in the first. I arose with the dawn, ready to reduce these principles to practice.

Related material

Last modified 27 February 2017

6 May 2019