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There is a hill-crowned city by a silver sea, near a Golden Gate. For ages the water has washed from an almost land-locked bay against this hill-crowned city, and on its northern side has created of the shore an amphitheatre stretching for some three miles to the western headlands. Behind this amphitheatre rises, in terraces, the steep hills of this water-lashed city, and in part, a forest of pines stretches to the west. Man has flanked this... more...

CHAPTER I THE DRAMATIC CRITIC   His Qualifications The production of a play in the Russian tongue renders topical a phrase once used, not unhappily, by Mr Cecil Raleigh concerning the qualifications of the dramatic critic. After listening to a somewhat extravagant speech about the duties of the critic, he said that the dramatic critic ought, apparently, to be a "polyglot archangel." During the last few years we have had plays in Russian,... more...

THE NATIONAL GALLERY SITE COMMISSION. Evidence of John Ruskin, Monday, April 6, 1857. 114. Chairman. Has your attention been turned to the desirableness of uniting sculpture with painting under the same roof?—Yes. What is your opinion on the subject?—I think it almost essential that they should be united, if a National Gallery is to be of service in teaching the course of art. Sculpture of all kinds, or only ancient... more...

THE PERIOD OF MODERN ART IN ROME But ah, that spring should vanish with the Rose!That youth’s sweet-scented manuscript should close?The nightingale that in the branches sang,Oh, where and whither flown again,—who knows? Omar Khayyam. Rome, as the picturesque city of the Popes in the middle years of the nineteenth century, was resplendent in local color. It was the Rome of sunny winters; the Rome of gay excursions over that haunted... more...

How the PianoCame To Be   From the dried sinews stretched across the shell of a dead tortoise to the concert-grand piano of the present day is a far flight. Yet to this primitive source, it is said, may be traced the evolution of the stringed instrument which reached its culmination in the piano. The latter has been aptly called "the household orchestra," and in tracing its origin one must go far back into the annals of the past. If we... more...


I. GENOA I The traveller who on his way to Italy passes along the Riviera di Ponente, through Marseilles, Nice, and Mentone to Ventimiglia, or crossing the Alps touches Italian soil, though scarcely Italy indeed, at Turin, on coming to Genoa finds himself really at last in the South, the true South, of which Genoa la Superba is the gate, her narrow streets, the various life of her port, her picturesque colour and dirt, her immense palaces of... more...

INTRODUCTION It is hardly necessary to apologise for the miscellaneous character of the following collection of essays.  Samuel Butler was a man of such unusual versatility, and his interests were so many and so various that his literary remains were bound to cover a wide field.  Nevertheless it will be found that several of the subjects to which he devoted much time and labour are not represented in these pages.  I have not... more...

APOLOGIA PRO LIBELLO: IN A LETTER TO A FRIEND Although you know your Italy well, you ask me, who see her now for the first time, to tell you how I find her; how she sinks into me; wherein she fulfils, and wherein fails to fulfil, certain dreams and fancies of mine (old amusements of yours) about her. Here, truly, you show yourself the diligent collector of human documents your friends have always believed you; for I think it can only be appetite... more...

INTRODUCTION Whatever its outward expression, human thought remains essentially unchanged and, throughout all of its manifestations, is fundamentally the same. Varying phases are but accidents and underneath the divers wrappings of historic periods or different civilizations, the heart as well as the mind of man has been moved by the same desires. Art possesses a unity like that of nature. It is profound and stirring, precisely because it... more...

ARTIST AND PUBLIC In the history of art, as in the history of politics and in the history of economics, our modern epoch is marked off from all preceding epochs by one great event, the French Revolution. Fragonard, who survived that Revolution to lose himself in a new and strange world, is the last at the old masters; David, some sixteen years his junior, is the first of the moderns. Now if we look for the most fundamental distinction between... more...