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watching over and controlling all the people who, in a measure, would reside in the “happy valley.” The name “Altruria" had not been invented for this ideal state of existence when Mr. Ruskin wrote, but that is the condition he aimed at in his writings on political economy. From the time of the publication of “Unto This Last” down to the period of his retirement from all controversy, Mr. Ruskin continued the battle for his pet theories, and it is in the papers he entitled “Fors Clavigera " that their best expression is to be found. This fanciful title means, according to his own definition, fortitude, fortune or force, bearing a club or a key. It is a series of letters addressed to workingmen, little read by them possibly as being, like the title, far over their heads, but worthy to be read by everybody, not for their argument, but for their superb English. They were published in periodical form and ran for several years. The work in effect is a criticism on modern life in England, and contains some of the most trenchant satire ever written, interspersed with the profoundest pathos and eloquence, while there is vast research into the meaning of words and things. It contains Mr. Ruskin's fullest and most mature teachings, and while
they cannot be accepted in the present state of the world, the day may come when mankind will gladly take them from one who, long neglected, may yet rise again to be the leader and prophet of a nobler humanity.
DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI. (1828–1882.)
DANTE GABRIEL RoseTTI was one of the most remarkable men of the Victorian period of literature. Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti, who in later life modified his several names into Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was the founder of the famous Preraphaelite brotherhood and its apostle for many years, though Ruskin was its chief spokesman and most eloquent expounder. They all tired of it in time.
Rossetti was born in London, May 12, 1828, and in blood was three-fourths Italian and onefourth English, his father being an Italian and his mother half Italian and half English.
He early developed both literary and artistic tastes, and became both poet and painter, showing great genius for both. It is as a poet, however, we are to deal with him here, and as a poet he is entitled to a high rank among his contemporaries.
No one can say that in beauty of language or in vividness of imagination he surpassed Tennyson, or perhaps Browning, but that he was one of the most superb masters of poetry of any age no one will gainsay. His verse is radiant with beauty. No person can read “The Blessed Damozel” without being deeply impressed with the power of Rossetti's genius. This was one of the first of his poems, and long before it was published it was passed around in manuscript and established Rossetti's fame as a poet among his friends. It is now not only his best, but probably his bestknown poem :
The blessed damozel leaned out
Her eyes were stiller than the depths
She had five lilies in her hand,
Her robes, ungirt from clasp to hem,
But a white rose of Mary's gift,
Her hair that lay along her back
Certainly a more beautiful and more sensuous picture was never sketched as in this exquisite
poem. Pathos also there is, as when the blessed
damozel from “the fixed place of heaven” looks down :
And then she cast her arms along
And laid her face between her hands
“I heard her tears l’” Could anything be more deeply imaginative or more spiritual The most finished of Rossetti's poems is that series which he calls “The House of Life,” “a sonnet sequence” containing the story of his love and of all loves. It is a marvelous recital of the poet's love that will hold the reader enthralled by their poetic power and beauty, and yet there is no story in them. Swinburne in his poetic prose has written of these sonnets in language that cannot be improved : Their golden affluence of images and jewel-colored words never once disguises the firm outline, the justice and chastity of form. No nakedness could be more harmonious, more consummate in its fleshly sculpture than the imperial array and ornament of this august poetry. Mailed in gold as of the morning and girdled with gems of strange water, the beautiful body as of a carven goddess gleams through them tan
gible and taintless, without spot or default. There is not a jewel here but it fits, not a beauty but it subserves an end.
It is impossible to add anything to praise so well expressed and so just.