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John Ruskin's Correspondence with Joan Severn: Sense and Nonsense Letters (Legenda Main Series)

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St. Wulfran, Abbeville, Seen from the River by John Ruskin. 1868. Graphite, ink, watercolour. and bodycolour on white paper, 34.3 x 50.2 cm. Collection: Lancaster (1100). Christopher Newall points out that that, “was the most finished and ambitious of several large drawings of the collegiate church of St. Wulfran that Ruskin made during a stay in Abbeville from 25 August to 21 October 1868,” represents St. Wulfran's “at a time of day when there was no direct sunlight upon it, so that all the colours of the stone from which it was made, and the tiles of its roof, are suffused into a soft and muted range of warm greys and mauves” (184). On Ruskin's return from a three-month continental tour in France and Switzerland, Gordon was at Denmark Hill for dinner "unexpectedly" on 26 July ( Diaries, II, 595). In late August, he was invited to dinner where he made the acquaintance of William Henry Harrison, Ruskin’s "first editor" (of the magazine Friendship’s Offering) who had published many of the aspiring writer’s poems ( Diaries, II, 598). Gordon also came to know Joan (Joanna) Agnew (future Joan Severn) who was now living at Denmark Hill as a companion for Margaret Ruskin. Gordon and Joan became good friends and frequently corresponded over many years. Another visit by Gordon was noted in Ruskin's diary on 8 November ( Diaries, II, 602).

I’m beginning to really have hopes of you. This terrific sunset shows [great improvement]. Now, do be a good girl for once and send me a little sunset as you know now how to do it—reversing everything you used to do. Gordon concludes: "I am a firm believer in spirits and in prayer & in miracles – nor is my belief in the latter at all weakened because I have had no experience of them – I at present expect none – It is a great real power but at present in reserve."Ruskin extended Gordon's circle of friends. At the beginning of November, he took him to dinner at the home of John and Jane Simon, probably at their London home in Great Cumberland Street, where he also met Mr and Mrs Hutchinson ( Diaries, II, 686). Mr Hutchinson was most likely Dr (later Sir) Jonathan Hutchinson (1828-1913) who became a surgeon at the London Hospital (1863-1883) in the East End and Hunterian professor of surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons. One of his great discoveries was the identification of three symptoms of congenital syphilis, known as "Hutchinson’s triad". The day after the dinner, Ruskin made a strange comment in his diary: "Had to talk at the Simons’; felt as if silent Mr. Hutchinson thought me conceited" ( Diaries, II, 686). The promotion to Professor of Fine Art at Oxford did not alleviate Ruskin’s sorrow and highly charged emotional state. His unrealistic hopes of being united with Rose La Touche were dashed by her refusal to speak to him or have anything to do with him at a chance encounter at the Royal Academy in Burlington House on 7 January 1870 (Hilton, Later Years 171-72). Rose had either categorically rejected him or was playing games with him. Ruskin sought to assuage his pain by surrounding himself with a number of interesting and supportive friends. Among these were Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris – both were frequent visitors – invited to dinner on Wednesday 12 January. Consoling and loyal friend Gordon came on Friday 14 January. Perhaps some light entertainment would alleviate Ruskin's distress? That evening, Gordon and Ruskin went to the Haymarket Theatre in central London for a performance of New Men and Old Acres, a comedy by Tom Taylor and A. W. Dubourg ( Diaries, II, 693).

In early autumn (on 9 October 1867), Gordon travelled to Ireland for the wedding of his neighbour Lady Alice Hill (daughter of the Marquis of Downshire) and Lord Kenlis at Hillsborough (County Down). He was invited not only as a guest but he had a religious role. Along with the Venerable the Archdeacon of Down and the Rev. St. George, he assisted the Lord Bishop of Down and Connor in the performance of the marriage ceremony. It was a glittering occasion and in the evening the town was illuminated and bonfires blazed on the surrounding hills. On 11 October 1867 The Times reported that the festivities would continue on the Downshire estates "for some days" (9).Every issue, The English Garden magazine features the most beautiful gardens from all across the UK and Ireland - both town and country plots, big and small. Inside, you will find invaluable practical advice from real gardeners, plantspeople and designers. There’s stunning photography from the world’s top garden photographers, as well as insightful writing from experts. Brantwood remains a place of inspiration. Displays and activities in the house, gardens and estate reflect the wealth of cultural associations with Ruskin’s legacy – from the Pre Raphaelites and the Arts and Crafts Movement to the founding of the National Trust and the Welfare State. Brantwood is a registered museum, but is still kept very much as a home.

Although all of Turner’s paintings were sold after Ruskin’s death, their original frames are still preserved at Brantwood, now containing modern reproductions of the paintings that hung in Ruskin’s bedroom. These frames have small leather flaps underneath and grooves on the side, which allowed Ruskin to store them in a specially made cabinet in his study. Both Bewdley and 6960 Raveningham Hall were used again during filming of the eleventh in the series, Miss Marple: They Do It with Mirrors.At Miss Marple's request, Lucy Eyelesbarrow secures temporary employment at the Hall to investigate. While searching the embankment for clues, 6960 is briefly seen again at the head of a passing train. If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences. — W. I. Thomas, early twentieth-century sociologist In Switzerland in 1869, harnessing the snow waters of the Alps for humanitarian purposes had been one of Ruskin's preoccupations. From Brieg, on 4 May 1869, he wrote of his concerns: “I have been forming some plans as I came up the valley from Martigny. I never saw it so miserable, and all might be cured if they would only make reservoirs for the snow waters and use them for agriculture, instead of letting them run down into the Rhone, and I think it is in my power to show this” (19.lv). Ruskin was also instrumental in a scheme to provide a fountain with fresh drinking water in the village of Fulking, in Sussex; similarly, Pritchard's fountain was equally important to the people of Broseley.

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