Decorative Initial Mr. Ruskin began to mingle singular theories of political economy with his more special subject, and to endeavour to persuade the world into a prescientific, as he had persuaded the painters into a pre-Raphaelite system. In his own way he took up the philosophy of his friend and master Carlyle, and set forth the natural sway of the good and strong man over all who were weak and incapable, and the natural law of protection and cherishing, rather than subjugation and tyranny, kind of glorified Feudal System, or at least more nearly resembling that than anything that would b acknowledged by Adam Smith. His 'Unto this Last,' originally published in the Cornhill Magazine, was one of the first of those exceedingly quaint, but always beautiful, suggestions for a reformation of society which delighted the visionary enthusiast, but filled the vulgar mind with ridicule and made sober men pause and wonder and often smile at what is called the utterly unpractical nature of these suggestions. [518-19]

[Now that some of Ruskin's suggestions for universal health care, government sponsorship of good industrial and domestic design, and the welfare state have become commonplace, what can we conclude about the way Victorian society handled subversive or threatening ideas? Which phrases in the previous passage appear particularly class based or rely upon notions of the gentleman? Which instances of middle-brow condescension here implicitly undercut Ruskin's emphasis on the unity of the aesthetic and the practical? &mdash George P. Landow]


Oliphant, Mrs. [Margaret]. The Victorian Age of English Literature. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1892.

Last modified 30 April 2024