"The Palace of Art"

From the dark and turbulent environments of the middle five rooms, “The Palace of Art” returns to the safety and tranquility of “an English home... / ... / — all things in order stored,/ A haunt of ancient Peace.” Conservative style and a welcoming tone facilitate the retreat to a scene that would be familiar to most of the contemporary audience. The seemingly idealistic and glowing environment proves dynamic, nonetheless, because it appears in such sharp contrast to the abstract foreboding and chaos of the preceding stanza and the dark themes of several others of the rooms.

The return home illustrates yet one more of the many uses of art by creating a mood that comforts, reassures and contains a modest beauty. Like the first scene set in the summer morning, the final room acknowledges art's ability to inspire calmness and order as well as uncertainty and trepidation. Idealization of the English home is not without its problems and controversy, however.

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And one, an English home — gray twilight pour'd
On dewy pastures, dewy trees,
Softer than sleep — all things in order stored,
A haunt of ancient Peace.

"Your ideal of human life then is, I think, that it should be passed in a pleasant undulating world, with iron and coal everywhere underneath it. On each pleasant bank of this world is to be a beautiful mansion, with two wings; and stables, and coach-houses; a moderately sized park; a large garden and hot houses; and pleasant carriage drives through the shrubberies. In this mansion are to live the favoured votaries of the Goddess; the English gentleman, with his gracious wife, and his beautiful family; always able to have the boudoir and the jewels for the wife, and the beautiful ball dresses for the daughters, and hunters for the sons, and a shooting in the Highlands for himself. At the bottom of the bank, is to be the mill; not less than a quarter of a mile long, with a steam engine at each end, and two in the middle, and a chimney three hundred feet high. In this mill are to be in constant employment from eight hundred to a thousand workers, who never drink, never strike, always go to church on Sunday, and always express themselves in respectful language."

From "Traffic" in The Crown of Wild Olive (1866) - John Ruskin

English home

The Old Manor House on the Kingston Maurward estate - Photograph courtesy of Phillip Allingham