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W. G. Collingwood assigned the roman numeral III to this Red Book in his “Preliminary Note on the Original MSS. of the Poems” (Poems (1891) [4o, 1891], 1:262; Poems [8o, 1891], 1:263).
Two decades earlier, Ruskin himself had set the precedent for numbering the Red Books, including this one: on the title page for “Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 2, he wrote, “Red book No. 2. Sept 8th 1870” (see “Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 2: Title). On the same day, he docketed MS IV as “Red book No. 1,” and MS I as “Red book No. 3.” For the meaning of this numbering, see Red Books.
Apart from these numerical designations, Ruskinʼs title—intended originally, it appears, for MS III in its entirety as well as for its main work—is “Harry and Lucy / Concluded / Being / the Last Part / of / Early Lessons / in / Four Vols / Vol 2 / with Copper Plates / Hernhill” (see “Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 2: Title). This title page, like that for MS I and its main work, “Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 1, fails to take account of a poetry anthology, “poetry discriptive”, situated toward the end of the manuscript. Despite the omission, Ruskin probably compiled the anthology at about the same time he was inscribing the manuscriptʼs main work, “Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 2. Presumably, he wanted the manuscriptʼs contents to complement those of MS I. Despite this original intention, the contents of MS III over time grew much more miscellaneous than the title page indicated, or that had been the case in MS I.
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. Formerly, the Beinecke kept the manuscript inside the slipcase “Harry & Lucy, Poems &c,” which, when sold at auction, contained MS III along with four other manuscripts. The slipcase is now preserved separately.
Facsimiles by permission of John Ruskin Collection, General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Transcriptions of texts and commentary © David C. Hanson.
Red Book. 9.9 × 15.2 cm; 42 leaves.
“Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 2: Title (inside front endboard) + frontispiece, “Harry Going across the Sea in a Steamboat,” [“Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 2] (1r) + pp. numbered by Ruskin (starting on 1v) as 1–64, 65[a], 65[b], 66–82 (i.e., p. 65 given twice) + inside back endboard. Some page numbers are corrected in ink over top of penciled numbers beneath. Ruskin may have entered the page numbering complete from the start, since, later in the book, text crowds the page numbers at the top of the pages.
As in MS I, between the title page and 1r is inserted a loose page (not counted in the collation above) with a clipping from Poems (8o, 1891) describing MS III and containing a brief identification, possibly in the hand of Alexander Wedderburn. For this purpose, an existing page in MS III was not exploited; rather, a piece of paper was cut to size and inserted, as can be seen from how the leaf is pasted.
From the front of the book, the sequential order of contents:
- “Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 2: (inside front endboard + pp. 1–21, as numbered by Ruskin [see Description]), illustrated by a frontispiece (1r) and three “plates” (pp. 8, 15) (see MS III Drawings).
- MS III Second Poetry Anthology,
poems of early 1828 and earlier
- “The Constellations: Northern, Some of the Zodiac, and Some of the Southern” (pp. 21–25)
- “Time: Blank Verse” (pp. 25–27, the poem wrapping around the drawing, Ship and House, [Miscellaneous Drawing, MS III]
- “The Sun” (pp. 28–29)
- “Glen of Glenfarg” (“Papa how pretty those icicles are”) (p. 30)
- “The Ship”  (pp. 31–32)
- “The British Battles” (pp. 32–33)
- “Ragland Castle When Newly Built,” [Miscellaneous Drawing, MS III] (p. 34); blank page (p. 35)
- MS III Third Poetry Anthology
- “Of rocks first and of caverns now I sing” (pp. 36, 38, with pencil notation for “chap. 6” on p. 36);
- [Miscellaneous Drawing, MS III] (p. 37)
- “The Ship” [1828–29] (pp. 39–40)
- “Sonnet to the Sun” (pp. 40–41)
- “The Adventures of an Ant: A Tale” (p. 41)
- pencil notation for “chap. 7,” otherwise a blank page (p. 42)
- [Miscellaneous Drawing, MS III] (p. 43)
- “On the Appearance of a Sudden Cloud of Yellow Fog Covering Everything with Darkness” (pp. 44–45)
- “A Fragment” (“The summit of Skiddaw was gilt by the sun”) (p. 45)
- “A Shipwreck” (pp. 45–47)
- “A Fragment” (“The world that in its orbit flies”) (p. 47)
- “Another” (“Far towards Chelsea”) (pp. 47–48)
- “Another” (“On the noble Ben Lomond arose the bright sun”) (p. 48)
- “Another” (“Thy winding rivers Scotland and thy rocks”) (p. 48)
- “A Psalm” (“I will extol thee O my Lord”) (pp. 48–50)
- Blank page (p. 51)
- “The Monastery,” books 3–4 (pp. 52–56 [bk. 3], pp. 56–58 [bk. 4])
- Blank pages (pp. 59–61).
- “poetry discriptive”
- “The Monastery,” books 1–2 (pp. 70–75 [bk. 1], pp. 75–80 [bk. 2]).
- “A Puzzle in Prose” (p. 81)
- Blank page (p. 82)
- Random words and letters (inside back endboard)
Probably Fall 1827 (not earlier than May)–March 1829.
See Discussion: Ruskin started composition in the Red Book during or shortly after a family journey, probably in autumn 1827 but not earlier than May (see Tours of 1826–27). This period of composition continued through early 1828, probably for New Yearʼs presentation. He then returned to use of the Red Book about March 1829.
Some poems predate their witnesses in MS III—notably “Glen of Glenfarg” (“Glen of Glenfarg thy beauteous rill”), dated September 1826 in “poetry discriptive”; and “Time: Blank Verse”, dated 1 January 1827 in MS XI, and included here in the MS III Second Poetry Anthology —but MS III itself was not in use at that time.
MS III exhibits Ruskinʼs fledgling use of pen and ink, first taken up in April 1827, as compared with the earlier MS I and MS IVA, which he wrote entirely in pencil. Perhaps, it was probably to practice printing with pen and ink that he covered the inside back endboard of MS III with random words and letters.
As W. G. Collingwood deduced, Ruskin worked in differing parts of MS III at widely differing times. A rough chronology of his use of this Red Book can be sorted out as follows, incorporating but revising and elaborating on reconstructions by W. G. Collingwood (Poems [4o, 1891],1:262; Poems [8o, 1891], 1:263; and Ruskin, Works, 2:530) and by Helen Gill Viljoen (“Dating MSS. of Boyhood,” Viljoen Papers, box F).
First, as indicated by the travel itinerary in “Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 2, Ruskin may have begun this “Harry and Lucy” narrative during an autumn 1827 visit to Wales and Scotland. He appears originally to have reserved three‐quarters of the notebook for “Harry and Lucy,” since later pages (pp. 36, 42) retain the penciled indications, “chap 6” and “chap 7.” The narrative never extended that far, instead ending on p. 21 with the unfulfilled promise, “But I will put them [Harry and Lucy] on to scarthing moor in another chapter.” He may also have intended the drawings on pp. , 34, 37, and 43 to accompany the projected narrative (see MS III Drawings).
At about the same time that he was composing “Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 2, Ruskin entered—farther in the book, following the space left blank for expansion of “Harry and Lucy”—the anthology “poetry discriptive”. As Viljoen comments, the ink printing used for these poems resembles that used for “Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 2, tending to confirm that the two projects were contemporaneous. Certainly, the poems “Wales” and “Spring: Blank Verse,” which Ruskin included in the anthology, were composed about May 1827, and their copies here occur among poems likely inspired by the Wales and Scotland journey recorded in “Harry and Lucy” (e.g., “Ragland Castle,” “Lochleven,” and “The Hill of Kinnoul”).
No earlier than the start of 1828, in a smaller, neater print, Ruskin briefly rounded out “Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 2, and followed it with the MS III Second Poetry Anthology. Ruskin entitled this anthology “Poetry,” just as he had done for the MS I Poetry Anthology. Since the anthology included New Yearʼs Poems, both old and new, MS III finished to this stage presumably served as a New Yearʼs presentation.
The terminus for the MS III Second Poetry Anthology is the drawing “Ragland Castle When Newly Built,” [Miscellaneous Drawing, MS III]. Nothing indicates whether Ruskin drew the picture in early 1828, shortly after compiling the second anthology, or whether he carried the anthology up to the pre‐existing drawing, perhaps having drawn it in fall/winter 1827 to complement the poem “Ragland Castle” in “poetry discriptive” (although the poem and drawing are nearly thirty pages apart).
A year later, Ruskin returned to MS III to copy “The Monastery,” his versification of Scottʼs novel. Some portion of this poem, probably the later books, can be dated firmly as early March 1829. To fair‐copy the poem, Ruskin used blank pages following “poetry discriptive” until, running out of room at the end of the Red Book, he continued the poem in blank pages that remained just preceding “poetry discriptive”. He even made this clear by instructing the reader, in a colophon at the end of book 2 of the poem on p. 80, to “go back to page 52 / End of Book Second / Hern Hill / Dulwich.”
Viljoen believed she detected a steady sophistication in the script for “The Monastery,” over the course of its four books, suggesting “that [Ruskin] worked at these transcriptions from early into late 1828” (“Dating MSS. of Boyhood,” . She was unaware, however, of the firm evidence placing some portion of the poem in March 1829 (although it is true that Ruskin might have started the MS III witness sometime in 1828), and it seems in any case unwise to rely on distinctions in handwriting in order to date manuscripts over a mere matter of months. Nonetheless, one might hazard with some confidence that the tiny ink hand (with no pencil outline beneath) for book 1 of “The Monastery” must be of significantly later date than the awkward ink lettering (over top of pencil) for “poetry discriptive”, which precedes this text.
Around 9 March 1829, at about the same time that he was entering some portion of “The Monastery,” Ruskin complied with his parentsʼ admonitions to finish (or at least fill up) his manuscript projects. Using blank pages following the MS III Second Poetry Anthology, he copied and/or composed several recent poems, thus forming the MS III Third Poetry Anthology. In so doing, he scotched any plans to continue “Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 2, the pencil notations for “chap. 6” and “chap. 7” remaining to witness this intention. (Of course, the third anthology can be regarded as an extension of the second, but the latter seems to conclude by colliding with the drawing of “Ragland Castle.”