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Title
MS VIII
W. G. Collingwood assigned Roman numeral VIII to this manuscript in his “Preliminary Note on the Original MSS. of the Poems” (Poems [4o, 1891], 1:264–65; Poems [8o, 1891], 1:265–66).
Location
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, cataloged as “Poems etc. 1831–38”.
Provenance
See Provenance, Sothebyʼs, 1930.
Description
Ruled notebook, reddish marbled paper boards, three‐quarter‐bound in black leather; 14.5 cm (width) × 23.5 cm (height).
Ruskinʼs own page numbering starts on the first verso, p. 1, which is the verso of the flyleaf. (A leaf originally following the flyleaf appears to have been pasted to the flyleaf, so that the original recto of this second leaf is not presently visible. This was likely the condition in which Ruskin found the notebook since it is the recto of this pasted leaf that he numbered p. 1.) Ruskinʼs unorthodox numbering of versos using odd numbers continues to p. 43. Then, although no pages appear to have been removed, p. 43 (a verso) is followed by p. 45 (the facing recto). A sign that Ruskin attempted to correct the anomaly slightly earlier appears on the facing spread, pp. 39–40, where he scored the zero of the numeral 40 with either a slash or a numeral 1. On the following two‐page spread, however, he kept to his previous system, and numbered the verso as 41, and the recto as 42. Only on the next spread, p. 43 (verso) facing p. 45 (recto), does the numbering change to the conventional odd‐numbering of rectos. Ruskin carried the new numbering through p. 55 (with numbering appearing only on the rectos, pp. 51, 53, and 55, their facing versos left unnumbered).
With the cessation of Ruskinʼs numbering, thereafter another hand—almost certqinly W. G. Collingwoodʼs, when he was analyzing the manuscriptʼs Collation—numbered leaves in pencil on the rectos, starting with 56 and carrying through 72. What would be leaves 73–75 are left blank, and the same hand picks up again with 76–79. Again, a blank is left for 80, but 81 is written above “p. 106”—the latter notation surely the remnant of Collingwoodʼs effort to follow through with Ruskinʼs original page numbering system in order to deduce what he calls the “stratification” of the notebook (see “Preliminary Note on the Original MSS. of the Poems”, in which he references “p. 106” [Poems (4o, 1891), 1:264–65; Poems (8o, 1891), 1: 265–66]).
After 82, the later, editorial hand abandons numbering leaves, and the next numbering to appear is again Ruskinʼs own. On what would be 125r for the later hand, Ruskin begins numbering pages for his play “Marcolini”, pp. 1–8. Oddly, he left blank what would have been pp. 9–39, but began numbering again, accurately, with p. 40 (a verso) through p. 63 (a recto). Four more unnumbered pages of the play remain, followed by seven more leaves (the final leaf glued to the endpaper, like the first leaf at the other end).
Collation
In W. G. Collingwoodʼs “Preliminary Note on the Original MSS. of the Poems”, the description of the notebookʼs complex “stratification” requires significant correction (Poems [4o, 1891], 1:264–65; Poems [8o, 1891], 1:265–66).
Section a
As interpreted in ERMʼs listing of Contents, below, Section a agrees broadly with Collingwoodʼs section (a) of his description in the “Preliminary Note”. From August or September 1831 through no later than 10 May 1833, Ruskin started entering draft in the first blank pages following the notebookʼs front flyleaf and worked forward, apparently with little deviation from sequential order. A major project sustained throughout this first portion of the notebookʼs stratification is the epic poem, “Athens”, which Ruskin drafted in stints of two to five stanzas, the stints appearing intermittently amid shorter poems. This procedure is consistent with how Ruskin worked in MS VI, a rough‐draft notebook used from late 1830 through 1831. In that earlier manuscript, too, Ruskin alternated draft of the epic‐length travel poem, “The Iteriad”, with composition of shorter poems. In fact, the two epic projects overlap briefly at the beginning of MS VIII, with a small portion of the fourth book of “The Iteriad” situated immediately following the notebookʼs first stint of “Athens” stanzas (see Discussion).
Within section a of the Contents, two subsections can be discerned: list a.1, terminating approximately with draft related to an occasional work celebrating John James Ruskinʼs 10 May 1832 birthday, draft that presumably was originally followed by a hiatus in composition during the familyʼs summer Tour of 1832 to Hastings and Dover; and list a.2, likewise terminating with draft related to Ruskinʼs fatherʼs birthday—this for 10 May 1833.
The subsection list a.1 represents by far the greater amount of poetic activity, this period marked by the completion in draft and fair copy of one epic, “The Iteriad”; the inception (albeit not completion) in draft and fair copy of another epic, “Athens”; and the drafting of more than thirty shorter poems, many of which Ruskin fair‐copied in MS V. The poetry in this section returns repeatedly to the locale and imagery associated with Wales, where the family had journeyed for the Tour of 1831, immediately prior to Ruskinʼs first use of MS VIII (see Discussion).
The following subsection, list a.2, is considerably briefer, containing no major poetic projects such as epics, and consisting of only about five shorter poems. The topographical orientation shifts from Wales to Scotland and the Lake District, and the Scottish associations are solemnized by the death of Walter Scott, for whom Ruskin wrote an elegy. A demarcation of list a.2 from list a.1 is open to argument, with differing scenarios placing the last known stanza of “Athens” prior to or following the Tour of 1832. See the caveats discussed in “Athens”: Date. In any case, the “Athens” project withered during this period of comparative austerity in poetry writing.
Section b
Following John James Ruskinʼs 10 May 1833 birthday, represented in MS VIII by “My Fatherʼs Birthday: The Month of May”, the family departed on the Tour of 1833. Thus, what may in retrospect be considered the end of section a, and the start of a new major section of the notebook, section b, is declared by Ruskinʼs ceasing work on “Athens” (at least as composed here), as his long poem of choice. In its place, he gave his attention to drafting the metrical and prose journal relating to the Tour of 1833, the Account of a Tour on the Continent.
To determine the probability of what draft in section b of MS VIII that Ruskin intended for the “Account”, one looks to the fair copy of the work in MS IX and, since the fair copy is incomplete, also to Ruskinʼs ambitious Plan for Continuation of the Account of a Tour on the Continent, compiled on the inside back endboard and flyleaf of MS VIII (see below, Contents, section j). See Table 1 in the apparatus for the “Account”, to compare the sequence of the prose and verse sections of the work as these appear in the various draft and fair‐copy witnesses and in the proposed plan for the work.
In section b of the manuscript, no title declares the segue to the new project, which Ruskin had begun drafting elsewhere—a stage of “Account” project represented by sheets now bound in MS IA. In MS VIII, following “My Fatherʼs Birthday: The Month of May”, Ruskin merely drew a horizontal line; and, below this, he composed “Oh are there spirits, can there be”, lines that have not been identified with a specific section of the “Account”, but that seem “descriptive, probably, of the Alps”, as the editors of the Library Edition suggest (Ruskin, Works, 2:384 n. 1). While no evidence definitively ties this brief lyric to the “Account”, ample clues identify the following prose essay with the longer work. The title of the essay, “The Source of the Arveron”, was likely meant as a section heading for both the essay and the poem following it, “I woke to hear the lullaby” (separately entitled [“The Arve at Chamouni”] by W. G. Collingwood). Together, the essay and poem can be identified with a unit in the Plan for Continuation of the Account of a Tour on the Continent. Either immediately before or after “Oh are there spirits, can there be”, there would have occurred a gap in Ruskinʼs use of the notebook, during which the family was touring the Continent. It is unlikely that he carried MS VIII with him on the journey, since he began the “Account” in other manuscripts, turning to this rough‐draft notebook only after he was well along in both draft and fair copy, probably in about in February 1834 (see Account of a Tour on the Continent: Date).
There are other clues, albeit of questionable reliability, indicating whether the prose and verse drafts in section b belong to the “Account”. First, the scope of Ruskinʼs page numbering, pp. 1–55, roughly comprises section a of the manuscript, with the final work in that section, “My Fatherʼs Birthday: The Month of May, concluding on p. 53. Only two more numbered pages extend beyond the implicit gap into the renewed use of the notebook for composition of the “Account”. Second, beyond p. 55 Ruskin left section b unnumbered, suggesting that he regarded his earlier page numbering as unrelated to the new project. Instead, he started a new numbering system, associating the draft poems (not the prose) for the “Account” with line numbers, which run continuously from poem to poem. He used the same system of continuous line numbering for the MS IA witnesses of the “Account”. The line numbers for the two sets of witnesses are compatible, with the MS IA range of 1–429 fitting within the MS VIII range starting with “520”, although the two ranges are separated by an unaccountable gap.
Although compatible, tne two sets of line numbers divided between the two groups of witnesses are crude and open to considerable speculation if one attempts to use the numbering to draw conclusions about the sequence of composition or the sequence of witnesses intended for fair copy. In MS IA, the draft of the “Account” consists of three separate sheets, on which the verse is line‐numbered respectively 1–51, 52–204, and 324–429. (The draft appears to be semi‐final fair copy, so the line numbering may have originated with earlier draft, now lost.) In the first two sheets, the witnesses are ordered in the same sequence in which the poems are arranged in the fair copy in MS IX. In the third sheet of draft in MS IA, despite the continuous numbering, 324–429, the witnesses are not arranged in a sequence that would be maintained in fair copy, and clearly were not meant to be so. The same is true of the witnesses in MS VIII, in which the lines of poetry are numbered sequentially and continuously from poem to poem, although the sequence of composition bears little relation to the topographical sequence that the individual witnesses would occupy in the fair copy.
If crude, the line numbering in MS VIII is somewhat helpful in discerning the scope of the draft for the “Account”. The line numbering commences with the fifth line of “Oh are there spirits, can there be”, thus providing the most direct evidence that Ruskin intended this lyric for the “Account”. Ruskin assigns the fifth line of the poem the number “510”, and the tenth line “515”. Four more lines take the poem to the bottom of the page (p. 53); and then the following page, a verso, plus a third of the following recto are taken up by the prose piece, “The Source of the Arveron”, which carries no line numbers. The line numbering resumes with “520”, assigned to the next occurring poem, “I woke to hear the lullaby” (p. 55)—the sequence picking up correctly from line 519 at the bottom of p. 53. Despite this regularity at the start, toward the end of section b the continuous line numbering extends into works that Ruskin certainly did not intended for the “Account” (e.g., “The Crystal Hunter”), probably because he sometimes numbered the ruled lines of the notebook ahead of composition, and then neglected to erase the numbers when he departed from composition of the “Account”. One might infer from this anomaly that the relation of the line numbering in section b to the “Account” is accidental, as if Ruskin were merely counting the number of lines of verse—any verse—composed per day. This probability is foiled, however, by the opposite anomaly, the abrupt cessation in line numbering for verse that seems unrelated to the surrounding topographical description of the journey (e.g., the mysterious fragment, “The lake smiled sweetly, and the boy”.
As the surest and most valuable evidence afforded by the line numbering in section b, the sequence of verse and prose sections of the “Account” in MS VIII can be compared as a reliable sequence of composition against the sequence of fair‐copying in MS IX. Sections that appear relatively early in the MS IX fair copy—such as the prose sections for “Part of Brussels” [part 1], “Part of Brussels” [part 2], “The Meuse” [prose], and “Cologne” [prose], which belong to the first stage of the work recounting the journey through northern France, Belgium, and Prussia—in MS VIII occur as drafts intermixed with sections that Ruskin destined for the later Italian and Swiss stages of the work (sections that, as it happened, he never got around to fair‐copying). Thus, the sequence of composition reflects the pace of Ruskinʼs fair‐copying in MS IX, as he was simultaneously composing prose and verse for the later portions of the work. This evidence allows for fairly precise reconstruction of the process and dating of composition (see Account of a Tour on the Continent: Date of Composition and Composition and Publication—Drafting the Composite‐Genre Travelogue [MS VII, MS VIII, MS XI]).
Thus, section b of MS VIII contains significant, if sometimes unclear evidence of Ruskinʼs patterns of composition in 1834. The pattern shows that, in this section, Ruskinʼs activity was as homogeneous as it had been varied in section a. Not that he had become single‐minded in his pursuits. Throughout the first half of 1834, while continuing composition of the “Account” in MS VIII, along with the workʼs fair‐copying and illustration in MS IX, he continued his lessons with tutors, along with other kinds of writing—scientific, mathematical, and probably theological (see Discussion). Rather, section b suggests that Ruskinʼs pursuits had become more distinctly categorized and focused than formerly—focused both on a single literary work within this section of as MS VIII, and divided into distinct disciplinary activity in other noteboooks. At the same time, the “Account” as a literary project is ekphrastic and multi‐genre, defined by a principle of mixed kinds, as Ruskin elaborated what was originally a solely verse travelogue into a composite‐genre prose and verse, and illustrated travelogue. As such, the project reflects Ruskinʼs awareness of the miscellaneity and burgeoning technologies in the print culture of travel literature in the 1830s. His engagement with this print culture was rewarded by a commission in 1834 to revise a portion of the “Account” for publication, as well as to compose a new topographical poem as an ekphrastic complement to an engraving—both poems published in Friendshipʼs Offering; and Winterʼs Wreath . . . for MDCCCXXXV, as Ruskinʼs first verse publications in a widely distributed venue (see Account of a Tour on the Continent: Composition and Publication—Friendshipʼs Offering (November 1834)).
The Terminus ad quem of Section b
Drafting the “Account” was interrupted when Ruskinʼs energies are deflected into revising and composing for Friendshipʼs Offering, and also preparing occasional poems for his fatherʼs May 1834 birthday. Understanding this endpoint of section b leads to considerable revision of the timeline for composition of MS VIII that W. G. Collingwood proposes in his “Preliminary Note on the Original MSS. of the Poems” (Poems [4o, 1891], 1:264–65; Poems [8o, 1891], 1:265–66).
Collingwood argues that the stopping point for the “Account” draft falls on “p. 106”—that is, the two‐page spread, 80v–81r, containing the poem, “Villa Pliniana”, which he calculated as pp. 105–6 based on Ruskinʼs page numbering earlier in the notebook. (These pages still carry Collingwoodʼs penciled numbering; see Contents, section b.2). Collingwood calculated that, by the time Ruskin reached this page, he had been composing the “Account” through about December 1834. Then at this point, Collingwood says, Ruskin skipped ahead in the manuscript to compose New Yearʼs and birthday odes for 1835; he then returned to pp. 105–6, where he had left off drafting the “Account”, in order to compose a poem connected with the Tour of 1835 to the Continent—namely, the poem, “Saltzburg”, which falls on pp. 81r–81v, following “Villa Pliniana”. This is incorrect, as argued in Account of a Tour on the Continent: Composition and Publication, and in Hanson, “Ruskin in the 1830s”. Rather, perhaps as early as March or April, certainly no later than sometime in May through July 1834, and not in December 1834, Ruskin abandoned work on the “Account” and turned to his commissions for Friendshipʼs Offering. To compose the poem, “Saltzburg”, moreover, Ruskin did not return to this place in the notebook after having jumped ahead; rather, he composed it here as a contemporaneous extension and outgrowth of his work on the “Account”.
Collingwood proposed a more complicated “stratification” of Ruskinʼs layerings of writing in MS VIII, because he incorrectly assumed that Ruskin would have written about a place, Salzburg, only if he had visited the city, whereas in fact Ruskinʼs first visit to the city occurred toward the end of the familyʼs Tour of 1835, almost a year after his poem was published. Ruskin based his poem, not on an experience of tourism, but on an ekphrastic description of an engraved view of the city. The plate was assigned to him by Thomas Pringle (1789–1834), the editor of Friendshipʼs Offering; and Winterʼs Wreath . . . for MDCCCXXXV, an assignment that Pringle could have given Ruskin later than when he was compiling the volume for press in summer 1834 for an August deadline (see Vigne, Thomas Pringle, 188). For the same volume of Friendshipʼs Offering, Ruskin revised poems originally composed for the “Account”—namely, “Andernacht” and “St. Goar”—to form “Fragments from a Metrical Journal” (a revision not reflected in extant draft in MS VIII).
If the draft of “Saltzburg” in MS VIII is more accurately understood as a sequential extension of the “Account” project—in the sense, not that this poem was ever intended for that project, but that, as an ekphrastic and topographical poem, it can be viewed as the culmination of what Ruskin was exploring in the longer composite work—the end of section b is also cluttered with draft that is unrelated or only questionably related to the “Account”. A prose work immediately following the “Saltzburg” draft, “There were sweet sounds mingled with my dreaming”, is written in the ink and hand used for “Saltzburg”, but its purpose is obscure. Other works mixed among the later pieces drafted for the “Account” are clearly purposed to celebrate John Jamesʼs 10 May 1834 birthday, and thus help to date this portion of section b, list b.2, of the notebook. (Correspondingly, section a, list a.2, concludes with draft related to John Jamesʼs 10 May 1833 birthday.) These works include “The Address”, “The Vintage”, and “The Crystal Hunter”. Ruskin was working on the latter poem—the “Geological poem”, as he called it—at the time of a 22 February 1834 letter (Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 280), but his composition of these works in list b.2, probably carried at least well into March–April 1834.
Subsequent Divisions of the Notebook
Presumably, section b, list b.2, of MS VIII concluded with the familyʼs departure for the Tour of 1834. Collingwoodʼs idea was that Ruskin left blank the pages following section b in order to leave space for continuing to draft the “Account” (Poems [4o, 1891], 1:264; Poems [8o, 1891], 1:266). That reconstruction does conform logically with Ruskinʼs compiling on the back endboards the Plan for Continuation of the Account of a Tour on the Continent. What came to fill this space, sequentially from “Saltzburg” on 82r and following, is writing that Collingwood assumed to be related to the Tour of 1835. While his idea was prompted by a misreading of the date and occasion of “Saltzburg”, the hand used on 82r “The Ascent of the St. Bernard: A Dramatic Sketch” does appear in a distinctly lighter ink; and the following group of sketches, tales, and lyrics may indeed form a chronologically distinct section of the notebook (section e), which seems to have been inspired by travel to the Continent in 1835, the pieces being set on the St. Bernard and in Venice. The pieces can equally be associated, like “Saltzburg”, with Ruskinʼs writing for the annuals; and he may have used the blank section of MS VIII following that poem precisely because of that association.
Where in MS VIII, then, did Ruskin go for continuing use of the manuscript following the familyʼs return from (or during) the Tour of 1834? Collingwood pegged this new start on “p. 168” (Poems [4o, 1891], 1:264; Poems [8o, 1891], 1:266). This is a recto, 112r, on which Collingwoodʼs penciled notation is still visible in the upper right corner. Physical evidence does support the suggestion of a new departure at this point, with the poetry running up to this recto on the facing verso being suddenly crowded into two columns—an unusual format for Ruskin in the bound notebooks, and suggesting that he ran up against an obstacle on 112r. This section of MS VIII (Contents, section d) begins with a poem for New Yearʼs 1835, “As I was walking round by Peckham rye”. If this is where Ruskin resumed work following the 1834 tour, he would have skipped 30 leaves (from 82r, where section b ends with “There were sweet sounds mingled with my dreaming”, to 112r, where section d begins with “As I was walking round by Peckham rye”). Thirty leaves forms a great length of space, but Ruskinʼs plans for the “Account” remained ambitious when his work was interrupted earlier in the year.
As Collingwood remarks, “As I was walking round by Peckham rye” is “the poem from which ‘The Months’ is extracted”, referring to Ruskinʼs contribution to Friendshipʼs Offering; and Winterʼs Wreath . . . for MDCCCXXXVI (Poems [4o, 1891], 1:265, 284; Poems [8o, 1891], 1:266, 286). This 1836 volume of the annual would have been published in October or November of 1835, in time for the holiday season of Christmas 1835 and New Yearʼs 1836. Since the holiday season culminating in New Yearʼs 1835 had been marked by Ruskinʼs first appearance in Friendshipʼs Offering, in the volume, Friendshipʼs Offering; and Winterʼs Wreath . . . for MDCCCXXXV, (containing “Fragments from a Metrical Journal” and “Saltzburg”), it was appropriate that he mined his poem that he was preparing for New Yearʼs of the following year for his second appearance on the annualʼs pages.
MS VIII contains a second probable instance of Ruskinʼs having skipped ahead to set apart space for composition of a New Yearʼs poem. Upside‐down to the front of the notebook, and running reverso from the opposite end (and separated from the main text by blank leaves), Ruskin composed a small group of poems (Contents, section c) that includes “The dawn is breaking on the bending hills”, which internal evidence identifies as a New Yearʼs poem. Unlike the poem for 1 January 1835, “As I was walking round by Peckham rye”, no fair–copy presentation version of this poem is known to survive; and therefore, the stint of composition in section c cannot be securely dated. Collingwood attributes this group to “May–December, 1834; i.e., written after the Birthday‐poem [for John James] of 1834, which occurs in the middle of the 1833 ‘Tour’ [i.e., draft for the “Account”, list b.2,], and before he began his plan of the fresh section” section d, containing “As I was walking round by Peckham rye” (Poems [4o, 1891], 1:264; Poems [8o, 1891], 1:266). Collingwoodʼs suggestion is unlikely, since Ruskinʼs writing for December 1834 is already known to culminate in “As I was walking round by Peckham rye” as the New Yearʼs ode for that year.
Thus, in order to date section c, we must consider another New Yearʼs date that falls within the range of Ruskinʼs work in MS VIII and that lacks a known New Yearʼs ode. Possible dates are 1 January 1832, 1833, 1834, and 1836. Of these, 1 January 1832 can likely be eliminated, although not definitively, as the date of “Twelve months all rolling round have past”. Some evidence supports New Yearʼs 1834 as the date for “The dawn is breaking on the bending hills”, and thus circa December 1833 for section c, since the group includes Ruskinʼs poem on dancing, “Once on a time the wight Stupidity” [“The Invention of Quadrilles”]. In January and March 1834, John James Ruskin paid for dancing lessons (Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 282 n. 1). A more impressionistic case might be made for assigning for section c to a year earlier, circa December 1832, and “The dawn is breaking on the bending hills”, to 1 January 1833, based on the poemʼs solemn tone, which speaks to John Jamesʼs depressed remarks to Richard Gray in January 1833: “We restrain [Johnʼs] poetic Efforts. He addressed me on New Years day only. If the Almighty preserves the Boy to me, I am richly blessed but I always feel as if I ought to lose him & all I have” (Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 276).
We can reasonably conclude, then, that Ruskin produced Contents, section c as a stint of writing distinct from what he was drafting elsewhere in MS VIII at the time, but we cannot be certain whether that time was prior to New Yearʼs in winter 1832, or prior to that holiday in winter 1833. Oppositely, we can conclude with certainty that Ruskin produced Contents, section d prior to New Yearʼs in winter 1834, but we cannot be confident that this section represents a distinct stint, produced at a different time from what immediately precedes it. If another distinct stint is represented by the 30 leaves between section d, starting on 112r, and the “Account” project that, along with the associated revision and composition for Friendshipʼs Offering, left off at 82r in early summer 1834, then we can conceive of Ruskin returning to these available 30 leaves following the familyʼs second major Continental tour, the Tour of 1835, undertaken between June and December, since much of the writing filling that space is at least thematically related to places the family visited. In Collingwoodʼs interpretation, this post‐tour writing of late 1835 and 1836 carries forward to 1838 with lyric poems dedicated to Adèle Domecq, before running up against the pre‐existing section d of late 1834. Collingwood bases this surprising terminus ad quem on the date of 1838 he assigns to “Memory” [“The summer wind is soft and kind”]. In fact, the sequence of Ruskinʼs use of MS VIII may be even more complicated after Contents, section d, and his use of the 30 blank leaves requires subdividing into Contents, section e, section f, and section g.
In assessing Collingwoodʼs interpretation, one should bear in mind that the major metrical account of the 1835 tour, the “Journal of a Tour through France to Chamouni, 1835”, does not appear to be represented in MS VIII. In fact, no draft at all is known of the poem, its fair‐copy presentation alone surviving, in MS X. Even in this form, this latest topographical poem proved less ambitious than the 1833–34 “Account”, in that the “Journal” is not a composite of verse and prose, and its fair copy lacks illustrations or an engraving‐like “copperplate” hand. Ruskin apparently found sufficient ambition in imitating Byronʼs Spenserian stanza from Childe Haroldʼs Pilgrimage. What the initial use of the 30 leaves, section e of MS VIII, may represent, then, is the variety of genre that Ruskin filtered out, as it were, from his major metrical poem for the 1835 tour, as compared with the elaborately composite, illustrated “Account” produced in response to the 1833 tour.
As already cautioned, however, it is possible that, in filling the 30 leaves with a variety of genres—for example, a dramatic sketch, a tale—Ruskin was pursuing the thrill of publishing in the gift annuals. He may have begun section e in the second half of 1834, composing such works as “The Ascent of the St. Bernard: A Dramatic Sketch” and “Leoni”, not owing to visits the family would pay to the Hospice of St. Bernard and Venice in 1835, but because sketches and tales were germane to the literary annuals in which he had made his debut in 183435. The family visited the St. Bernard also in 1833; and one did not need to experience Venice first‐hand to wield the popular literary imagining of its setting. Regarded in that light, one can imagine the stint of writing in section e flowing sequentially and chronologically into the late‐1834 section d; or, if the latter did pre‐exist some portion of section e, the writing in section e may extend from mid‐1834 only until 183536, and not as late as 1838, as Collingwood believed.
If section e does flow into 183536, the Shelleyan quality of some of its lyrics may reflect the arrival of Adèle Domecq and her sisters at Herne Hill in January 1836. The story in Praeterita about Ruskinʼs infatuation with Adèle suggests an abrupt swerve to Shelleyan love poetry; however, the sequence of supposedly Adèle-inspired poems in MS VIII (section g) is continuous with the tour‐inspired shorter poems in section e. A transition between the two groups is marked by Venetian pieces that can be associated as much with the Byronic romance of the Continent as with adolescent worship of Adèle Domecq. For Collingwoodʼs idea that section g should be understood as extending into 183738, see “Memory”.
Following the late‐1834 section d occurs a small group of poems that may be simply an extension of section d into early 1835, but that may constitute a distinct section f from a later time. Following this group, in May 1836, during the early stage of the Adèle sequence in g, Ruskin used some more space (section h) to draft his fatherʼs birthday ode, “Congratu—”. After this, he continued with the verse drama “Marcolini𠇍, for many pages.
The remainder of the contents of MS VIII, sections i and k, consists of slight sketches and lesson work.
Contents
There follows an itemized sequence of the contents of MS VIII, divided into sections ak. These sections represent an interpretation of Ruskinʼs chronological use of the manuscript (see Description), and not any explicit marking of divisions in the manuscript by Ruskin himself.
Section a
In this 183133 section, drafts of many shorter poems alternate with the ongoing draft of the longer works, “The Iteriad” (which Ruskin drafted mainly in MS VI, but completed near the start of MS VIII) and “Athens” (which Ruskin initiated near the start of MS VIII, and never completed).
Section b
Following the initial sequence, section a, which ends with the draft of his ode celebrating John Jamesʼs May 1833 birthday, “My Fatherʼs Birthday: The Month of May”, Ruskin devoted the next sequence in MS VIII to the draft lyrics and prose passages that make up part of the topographical work, Account of a Tour on the Continent. The work describes the Ruskin familyʼs Tour of 1833, on which they departed immediately following John Jamesʼs birthday; however, there is no evidence that Ruskin carried MS VIII with him on the tour, or that these entries represent impressions taken down en route. Rather, the MS VIII drafts all but certainly represent a stage of the work that Ruskin initiated earlier and elsewhere, one represented by sheets containing draft of the “Account” that survive in MS IA (although even these sheets may not necessarily date from the tour itself). The MS IA sheets represent not only an earlier stage but also a somewhat different version of the work, conceptualized as exclusively verse rather than as a composite genre (see Account of a Tour on the Continent: Composition and Publication). The MS VIII draft takes up in mid‐progress of the work; and as explained in the Description, Ruskin appears to declare the start of this new sequence in the notebook—not, unfortunately, with a title demarcating the “Account”—but with a system of line numbering, which starts at line 506, evidently assigned to the first line of the first poem of the project to be drafted in MS VIII. Clearly, the line numbering shows a continuation from elsewhere—logically, from a system represented on the sheets in MS IA.
Ruskin nowhere explicitly explains his purpose in numbering the lines, and he is inconsistent in its practice. Thus, while I interpret section b of MS VIII as starting with the first poem to be marked with this line numbering, “Oh are there spirits, can there be”, one cannot be certain that Ruskin intended this poem to form part of the “Account”, since his intention respecting the line numbering is obscure in itself, and since the poemʼs content is not explicitly topographical, and no title declares the onset of the “Account” project. Beyond this first lyric, the content of the entries do become clearly topographical, and Ruskin entitles many of the sections of prose and poetry with place names related to the tour. At a certain point in section b, however, Ruskin mixes the sequence of pieces for the “Account” with writing from Spring 1834 that is identifiable with other purposes, such celebrating John Jamesʼs birthday, and yet he does abandon the line numbering. Thus, the first portion of Contents, section b, which appears devoted exclusively to the “Account” is designated section b.1, while the stint that becomes more miscellaneous is designated section b.2
    List b.1
  • “Oh are there spirits, can there be” (p. 53; poem, untitled, lines numbered 506–19 by Ruskin).
  • “The Source of the Arveron” (pp. 54–55; prose essay, titled by Ruskin).
  • “I woke to hear the lullaby” (p. 55–55v; poem, untitled, lines numbered 520–64 by Ruskin; entitled by Collingwood, not Ruskin, as “The Arve at Chamouni”).
  • “Andernacht” (55v–56v; prose essay section only, titled by Ruskin).
  • St. Goar is the least and sweetest place” (56v; prose essay section only, untitled).
  • “There is a charmed peace, that aye” (56v–57v; poem, untitled, lines numbered 565–614 by Ruskin; entitled by Collingwood, not Ruskin, as “The Alps from Schaffhausen”).
  • “Viamala” (57v–58r; poem, titled by Ruskin, lines numbered 615–46 by Ruskin).
  • “Splugen” (58r–59r; poem, titled by Ruskin, lines numbered 647–95 by Ruskin).
  • “The Summit” (59r–60r; poem, titled by Ruskin, lines numbered 696–751 by Ruskin).
  • “The descent” (60r–60v; poem, titled by Ruskin, lines numbered 752–77 by Ruskin).
  • “The Meuse” (60v–61r; prose essay, titled by Ruskin).
  • “Cologne” (61r; prose essay, first paragraph only, annotated as “fragment” by Ruskin; titled by Ruskin).
  • “Oh the morn looked bright over hill and dale” (61r–61v; poem, untitled, lines numbered 778–809 by Ruskin; entitled by Collingwood, not Ruskin, as “The Black Forest”).
  • “It was a wide stretchy sweep” (62r; prose essay, untitled).
  • “Part of Brussels” [part 1] (62r–62v; prose essay, part 1, from “Brussels is a lovely, a queenlike city from a distance” to “for circumnavigating, for traversing”; titled by Ruskin).
  • “Oh softly blew the mounting breeze” (62v; poem, untitled, lines numbered 810–22 by Ruskin; entitled by Collingwood, not by Ruskin, as “Chiavenna”).
  • “Part of Brussels” [part 2] (63r–63v; prose essay, part 2, from “perambulating. Oh woe to the walker” to “Oh tread on it softly”; untitled, but clearly a continuation of titled prose section begun on pp. 62r–62v, with the prose resumed on pp. 63r–63v to the end of the passage as fair‐copied in ).
  • “Lago di Como” (63v–64r; poem, titled by Ruskin, lines numbered 823–63 by Ruskin).
  • “Of various trees a vista green” (64r–64v; poem, untitled, lines numbered 864–89 by Ruskin). Ruskin later incorporates the lines constituting this poem into “Genoa” (“Now rouse the ho. For Genoa straight”). Nothing definitively proves that, at this point of composition, Ruskin identified these lines with the place name, Genoa, or destined these lines for a later, fuller composition of that name. Asterisks follow the final line of the draft here, a symbol that appears to correspond to asterisks attached to the corresponding line in “Genoa” (“Now rouse the ho. For Genoa straight”), but Ruskin could have returned and added the asterisks here when deciding to insert these lines into the later composition.
  • “It was an eve of summer, mild” (64v–65r; poem, untitled, lines numbered 890–920 by Ruskin; combined with the 8 lines, “So broadly stretched in sapphire sheet”, and entitled by Collingwood, not by Ruskin, as “Lago Maggiore”).
  • “Aix la Chapelle” (65r–66r; prose essay, titled by Ruskin). The remainder of 66r is filled with two pen-and-ink sketches, Mountain Sketch and Buildings on Water with Boats. In the right margin, underneath the drawings, appear the figures 925 and 930, numbering that is continuous with 890–920 assigned to the poem preceding “Aix la Chapelle”, “It was an eve of summer, mild”. Evidently Ruskin prepared this space for a stint of poetry, but distracted himself with the sketches instead. When he resumed drafing poetry on the verso (66v), Ruskin did not begin numbering from 921, where he left off at the end of “It was an eve of summer, mild”, but from 939—as if he did use “925” and “930” to number verse lines on 66r. Perhaps he had already pre‐numbered the column on 66v, as well. Another curiosity respecting numbering is the figure 100, which Ruskin jotted parallel with the final line of “Aix la Chapelle” (66r). Normally, no numbering is associated with prose at all.
  • “Smiling from those bright rays kiss” [“Heidelberg”] (66v–67r; poem, part 1; untitled, lines numbered 939–68 by Ruskin). Although not titled in this place, these lines belong with lines headed “Continuation Heidelberg” below, an arrangement confirmed by the text of the poem as fair‐copied in MS IX.
  • “The traditions of the Rhine” (67r–67v; prose essay, untitled; entitled by Collingwood, not by Ruskin, as “The Rhine”).
  • “Oh warmly down the sunbeams fell” [“Ehrenbreitstein”] (67v–69r; poem, untitled, lines numbered 973–1081 by Ruskin). These lines are entitled by Ruskin in MS IX, but not in MS VIII, as “Ehrenbreitstein”. Note that the line numbering begins, not with 969 as would be expected following “Smiling from those bright rays kiss” [“Heidelberg”], but with 973.
  • “Continuation Heidelberg” [“Heidelberg”] (69r–70v; poem, part 2; titled by Ruskin, lines numbered 1083–1155). A continuation of “Smiling from those bright rays kiss” [“Heidelberg”], part 1 of draft, above. This segment begins with the variant lines as given in a note in the Library Edition (Works, 2:362 n. 1; in MS VIII, these lines are scored through. Following these deleted lines, the text of the poem in MS VIII accords with the fair copy in MS IX.
  • “Schaffhausen” [“Entrance to Schaffhausen”] (70v; poem, titled by Ruskin, lines numbered 1148–59; retitled by Collingwood as “Entrance to Schaffhausen”). The final punctuation of this poem is a comma, indicating that this draft poem is likely incomplete. Ruskinʼs line numbering for this draft is anomalous, the count of 1148–59 overlapping with that for the preceding poem, , which runs 1083–1155. Toward the end of the latter draft, at the top of 70v, Ruskin plainly wrote the numeral 1150 next to a line. That draft runs 5 more lines, but Ruskin did not write 1155 next to the final line. Instead, he started “Schaffhausen” and, 8 lines into that draft, wrote the number 1155 next to a line that, if numbered sequentially with the preceding poem, should have been 1163. Also, counting 4 lines backdwards from that (mis)numbered line, he tagged a line with the odd number 1151—a noticeable departure from his usual practice of numbering lines in intervals of 5. Since the manuscript gives every appearance of Ruskin working steadily and sequentially, with no crowding of lines, the inconsistent numbering seems to reflect a deliberate attempt by Ruskin to make an adjustment in his system, but it is unclear what effect he meant that adjustment to have, since an omission of 12 lines from his numbering does not appear to account for a previously noted anomaly—or to do correctly, at any rate. As another possible clue to the mystery of this renumbering, following the line of “Schaffhausen” that he numbered 1155, Ruskin wrote at the end of the next line what may be “11” but scored through (making it look like a pound symbol #), as if he started to write a line number but changed his mind.)
  • “The lake smiled sweetly, and the boy” (70v–71r; poem, untitled). Ruskin omitted the poemʼs dozen lines from his system of line numbering, which jumps from 1159, at the end of the preceding poem, “Schaffhausen”, to 1160, at the start of the following section. There is no sign that the lines were inserted in this place in the notebook at a later time; the manuscript shows no crowding or change in compositional proecedure, a line space neatly separating the lines from the poem that precedes them, “Schaffhausen”, and another line space separating the lines from the poem that follows, “Not such the night whose stormy might” [“Evening at Chamouni”]. As remarked in connection with “Schaffhausen” and other draft, however, the significance of Ruskinʼs line numbering is obscure, and the numbering is not always consistent.
  • “Not such the night whose stormy might” [“Evening at Chamouni”] (71r; poem, untitled, lines numbered 1160–82; entitled by Collingwood, not by Ruskin, as “Evening at Chamouni”).
  • “It is said that French will carry you over all Europe” [“Ehrenbreitstein”, essay] (71v–72r; prose essay, untitled).
  • “Most beautiful are the paths” [“Heidelberg”, essay, part 1] (72r; prose essay, untitled).
In the remaining stint of Contents, section b, the composition of Account of a Tour on the Continent is not continuous, its sections becoming mixed with other material.
    List b.2
  • “The Vintage” (72r–72v; 21 lines, untitled). Incomplete here, the composition is resumed on 77r, with the explicit identifier “Continuation of Vintage” (see below). With “The Vintage”, Ruskin departed from composition of the “Account” to prepare birthday odes for his fatherʼs May 1834 celebration. There is no sign in the manuscript that he intercalated this birthday poetry at a later time between draft for the “Account”; there are no signs of crowding, with “The Vintage” beginning three‐quarters down the page on 72r, followed by “The Crystal Hunter” halfway down 72v, and then “The Address” halfway down 76r. Where draft definitely intended for the “Account” resumes on 78v and 79r, its positioning suggests only the ongoing flow of composition, with no breaks or interpolation. In fact, the problem lies in distinguishing the birthday poetry from the “Account”, since this other poetry is so teasingly related thematically to the tour poem that it can seem difficult to distinguish from the surrounding project. No ambiguity detracts from identifying “The Address” as anything other than a birthday address; and its fair‐written presentation copy in MS IA is dated for his fatherʼs May 1834 birthday, and paired with a fair copy of “The Crystal Hunter”, proving the ultimate intention of that poem, as well. However, the subject of “The Crystal Hunter” was surely suggested by the Chamonix crystal hunter, Jacques Balmat, whose heroism in scaling the summit of Mont Blanc is celebrated in “Not such the night whose stormy might” [“Evening at Chamouni”]. The two poems are even seamlessly connected by Ruskinʼs line numbering (see below). Similar ambiguity attaches to “The Vintage”, which is thematically related to the prose for the tour poem which immediately precedes it, “Most beautiful are the paths” [“Heidelberg”, prose]; and this case, no separate fair copy indicates an independent use for the poem. The editors of the Library Edition evidently did not know what to make of the poem, so left it unpublished. But while the “The Vintage”ʼs comic dialogue between quarelling wine casks might connect the poem with the facetious commentary about the wine cellar in Heidelberg Castle, the title does not appear in Ruskinʼs Plan for Continuation of the Account of a Tour on the Continent, and the comic poem seems out of keeping with the topographical emphasis throughout the verse, as compared with the prose.
  • “The Crystal Hunter” (72v–76r; 17 stanzas, entitled by Ruskin; lines numbered 1183–1368 by Ruskin, but also 1–115 through the beginning of stanza 11). Of the competing systems of line numbering attached to the poem, that starting at 1183 picks up from line 1182 that closes “Not such the night whose stormy might”. The alternate system starting with line 1 and numbering at intervals of 5 is abandoned after stanza 11 possibly because, after stanza 12, Ruskin transposed stanzas. Ruskin was in process of drafting this poem on 22 February 1834, when he reported to his father that the “Geological poem knocked up on the humps and bumps of the road, and brought to a standstill, else should be sent” (Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 280). He completed the poem along with “The Address” for presentation to his father on 10 May 1834 (Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 289 n. 3).
  • “The Address” (76r–77r; entitled “The Address. 1834” by Ruskin).
  • “The Vintage” (77r–77v; entitled “Continuation of Vintage” by Ruskin).
  • “The foam globes round come riding fast” [“The Source of the Arveron”] (77v–78r; untitled, no line numbering). Ruskinʼs composition for the “Account” resumes here.
  • “Cont. Heidelberg” [“Heidelberg” essay, part 2] (78r–78v; prose essay, part 2, titled by Ruskin).
  • “So broadly stretched in sapphire sheet” (78v; poem, untitled; lines numbered 1369–76 by Ruskin; appended to the end of “It was an eve of summer mild” [“Lago Maggiore”] by W. G. Collingwood for the version of that poem printed in Poems [1891] and reprinted by the editors of the Library Edition).
  • “All has yielded to it from time immemorial” [“Heidelberg” essay, part 3] (78v–79r; prose essay, part 3, untitled).
  • “Genoa” (“Now rouse thee ho. For Genoa straight”) (pp. 79r–79v; poem, titled by Ruskin, lines numbered by Ruskin 1376–97). Ruskinʼs draft includes metadiscursive marks instructing the incorporation of lines constituting “Of various trees a vista green” as lines 19–44. Ruskin composes new verse up to lines 19–21, three lines repeated nearly verbatim from the earlier poem, which he tags with metadiscursive marks to refer to the earlier poem (“Of various trees a vista green &c. / Into a streamlet looking down / whose living crystal shot between &c”). Following line 21, he copies but then scores through the final line of the previously drafted segment (“A little space of time”); that is, he omits copying, but intends to include, the intervening 22 lines between the repeated opening and closing lines of the former draft—that closing line forming line 44 of “Genoa”, if the intervening lines are included. The join is indicated further by three ×s above the scored line, “A little space of time”, which seems to correspond to four asterisks that follow this line in the earlier draft on 64v. Following these directions to incorporate the earlier poem appear three more lines that are scored through (“And think how wide the world must be / Across from pole to pole / When all that there you look upon”), but here the strikethrough indicates new draft that Ruskin rejected. Thereafter, the poemʼs new draft continues without interruption.
  • “Cadenabbia” (pp. 79v–80v; poem, titled by Ruskin, lines numbered by Ruskin 1417–61).
  • “Villa Pliniana” (p. 80v; poem, titled by Ruskin, lines numbered by Ruskin 1462–84). On the upper outside corners of this two‐page spread, 80v–81r, W. G. Collingwood numbered these pages as “p. 105” and “p. 106” respectively, specifying what these pages would have been numbered had Ruskin carried forward with the page numbering that he left off at p. 55 (see “I woke to hear the lullaby”). Collingwood resumed the page numbering to mark the end of the “Account” draft in MS VIII, recognizing that the draft of the poem on 81r, “Saltzburg”, forms a separate work, although he incorrectly assumed that this poem was drafted more than a year later (see Poems [4o, 1891], 1:265; Poems [8o, 1891], 1:266). Following 80v–81r, a later hand (Wedderburnʼs?), which had numbered the folios starting with 56r, struck through Collingwoodʼs “p. 105” and “p. 106” and inserted “81” (for 81r) above “p 106”.
  • “Saltzburg” (pp. 81r–81v; poem, untitled in ms., lines numbered by Ruskin).
  • “There were sweet sounds mingled with my dreaming” (pp. 81v–82r; prose, untitled).
Section c
In about December 1833, while drafting Account of a Tour on the Continent in section b, Ruskin inverted MS VIII and began writing reverso, from the opposite end (on what would be pp. 162r–64r, counting from the front of the notebook, p. 164r being the inside of the back flyleaf; for the front side of the back flyleaf, see Contents, section j). The December dating is based on Ruskin intending “The dawn is breaking on the bending hills”, on evidence of its content, as a New Yearʼs ode (possibly, the following poem, “Oh I must throw in a little more spunk”, formed part of the same project). See Description: Collation, however, for the ambiguity in identifying which New Year this poem celebrated, whether 1832, 1833, or 1834; see also “Once on a time the wight Stupidity [“The Invention of Quadrilles”]”: Date.
Section d
In December 1834, while continuing composition in Contents, section b of MS VIII (and, by this time, perhaps also fair‐copying and drawing, in MS IX) of Account of a Tour on the Continent, Ruskin skipped over a number of leaves, probably intending to leave space available for completion of the “Account.” In the new space, he entered a sequence of shorter poems, mostly celebratory odes for his father in 1835, extending from poems for New Yearʼs to his fatherʼs May 10 birthday. Ultimately, the gap between section d and the end of section b numbered 30 leaves; see Description: Collation.
Section e
As it turned out, Ruskin did not use the 30 leaves between sections and d for continuation of Account of a Tour on the Continent. Instead, the latter work being abandoned (or, more precisely, advanced to a more sophisticated level, through revision of parts for publication), Ruskin exploited this space to compose a new stint of miscellaneous works. Previously, these pieces have been associated with the familyʼs next trip to the Continent, the Tour of 1835; however, as explained in Description: Collation, Ruskinʼs possible motivations are complex, including his new experience as an author for the gift annuals, and the topics of these works did not necessarily hinge on first-hand experience of the places involved. Also, there is no way to determine whether Ruskin carried MS VIII along with him on the 1835 journey, except that this was likely not the case in 1833.
The final three items in the section e list have been connected with the visit by Adèle Domecq and her sisters to Herne Hill in early 1836, but it is entirely possible that Ruskin composed these pieces well before this encounter (see also section g).
Section f
This section is likewise conjectural, not only in terms of dating, but even in terms of sectioning off these works as a distinct group. Possibly, at about the time that Ruskin was filling section e, or just following that time, he skipped to this section f, which follows section d with its occasional poems written in the winter of 1834–35.
Section g
It is not clear that this section should be treated as distinct from section e, which precedes it. Traditionally, the section is viewed as a series of poems associated with Adèle Domecq. As such, the possible continuity between sections e and g points up the connection between romance such as the tale, “Leoni” (which, in itself, may or may not have been associated with the Tour of 1835) and sentiment associated with Adèle.
As explained in Description: Collation, some physical evidence does support, at least, the separation between section g and d, the latter abutted by section gat its end. Namely, on p. 111v, the final poem of section g, “Memory” [“The summer wind is soft and kind”], is squeezed into two parallel columns at the bottom of the page, as if to fit the poem into the space that remained on this verso, the following recto being already taken up by “As I was walking round by Peckham rye”, which starts section d.
Section h
Starting in May 1836, in space following f, Ruskin composed two works, a birthday ode for his father and the verse drama, “Marcolini.” A date in pencil, 10 May 1836, at the end of the first work appears to have been inserted by a later editor. Following the second work, pp. 157v–59v are blank, Ruskin perhaps having intended to continue the drama. See section i.
    List h
  • “Congratu—” (pp. 123v–124v; poem, untitled in ms. except for salutation, “My dearest Father”; 7 stanzas, of which stanzas 2 and 3 numbered by Ruskin).
  • “Marcolini” (pp. 124v–57r; verse drama, titled by Ruskin).
Section i
Following the blank pages at the end of section h, there occur on p. 160r a Latin exercise and geometry figures. Since Ruskin was being tutored in geometry by 1833–34 (see Geometry Exercises), these exercises fall within the parameters of Ruskinʼs earliest use of MS VIII. Or he could have scribbled these lessons as late as 1836, the date of the works in section h that precede these exercises. After this page of Latin and geometry, pp. 160v–61v are blank, meeting up with the reverso text in section c running from the back end of the notebook (pp. 164r–62r).
Section j
Ruskin filled the inside back endboard and facing flyleaf with an elaborate proposed plan for Account of a Tour on the Continent. Collingwood refers to this list as projecting “150 pieces of prose and poetry, and at least as many drawings” for the finished version in MS IX, an ambition that Ruskin did not realize (Works 2:340 n. 1).
Section k
The front endboard papers contain pencil and ink doodles, mainly of dogs and crystals, and some fragmentary writing, mainly about geology.
    List k
  • ???
Date
On the basis of the foregoing analysis, the date of composition in MS VIII extends from about September 1831 through December 1836 and possibly into 1837, although Collingwood assigns one work to as late as 1838. Work in the manuscript was not continuous, Ruskin probably putting the notebook aside at least during the long periods of the Tour of 1833 and the Tour of 1835.
Discussion
Like MS VI, MS VIII is a bound, ledger‐like notebook that Ruskin used for rough‐drafting poetry and imaginative prose. Usually shortly following composition here, or even simultaneously, Ruskin fair‐copied many of these works in other notebooks. As analyzed in Description: Collation, MS VIII exhibits a pattern similar to that of MS VI, whereby Ruskin drafted a longer work in stints, compiling and fair‐copying the longer work elsewhere, while also varying the ongoing composition in the rough-draft notebook with brief lyrics between the stints of the epic. The principal long work developed in this fashion in MS VI is “The Iteriad”, the composition of which spills over into the start of MS VIII; and the principal work taking the latterʼs place as the extended project in MS VIII is “Athens”.
Ruskin fair‐copied both of these works in MS V and MS VII--the latter evidently intended as the showcase for complete fair copies of both poems, although Ruskin finished copying only “Iteriad”, in January 1832, whereas he barely starting transcribing "Athens," before abandoning the project. MS V, which relates to MS VIII primarily as a place where Ruskin fair-copied the miscellaneous poems drafted between the stints of epic, became the vessel for his most extensive fair copy of the unfinished “Athens”.
In the 1831-32 poems--both "Athens" and the briefer, miscellaneous poems (section a.1)--MS VIII is strongly associated with travel. Although Ruskin appears not to have taken MS VIII with him on family tours, he used the manuscript to explore how to translate memories of landscapes into verse, referring both directly and obliquely to Welsh scenes he encountered during the Tour of 1831. Simultaneously, he was evoking memories of Wales in drawings for his master, Charles Runciman (1798-1864). While he was perhaps a long way from a sophisticated idea of ekphrasis, his letters to his father suggest that he was developing some idea of "poetry & painting" as sister arts (Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 268). For example, he composed “Llyn Idwal” as a recollection of Wales probably at about the same time that, according to letters of 20 and 27 February, he "invent[ed] a scene" based on "models" provided by Runciman, which, Ruskin thought, "resembled" "the cottage that we saw, as we went to Rhaidyr Dhu, near Maentwrog where the old woman lived whose grandson went with us to the fall, so very silently" (Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters 262).
When Ruskin showed his drawing to Runciman, the drawing master "contemplated it for a moment in silence, & then turning asked me, if I had copied? I told him how I had patched it up, but he said that that was not copying, & although he was not satisfied with the picture, he said that there was something in it, that would make him totally change the method he had hitherto pursued with me" (Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters 267). In the poems, however, he does not draw on the tradition of topographical landscape description; rather, he is preoccupied with Byron, turning to that model appropriately for representation of the sublime in mountain and ocean scenery, the mode of viewing that was typically associated with the tour of northern Wales (Andrews, The Search for the Picturesque, 111). Somewhat eccentrically, Ruskin fixates less on Byron's descriptive poetry in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage as examples of the sublime than on the gothic elements of mountain and aerial "spirits" in Manfred.
Another theme in these letters, which contextualizes “Aspice pater invocationem”, is Ruskin's running commentary on his classical studies and his jocular (and often incorrect) usages of Latin and Greek to comment on his lessons and other events (Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, e.g. 257, 263, 268-69, 273).
Meanwhile, as had also been the case with draft of shorter works in MS VI, Ruskin fair‐copied some lyric works from MS VIII into MS V, which he entitled “Miscellaneous Poetry,” although he left many such works to remain in draft alone, in both MS VI and MS VIII; and he fair‐copied occasional poetry, such as New Year‐s and birthday odes, as separate presentation copies (bound into MS IA and MS XI by Ruskinʼs editors). This larger pattern of composition and fair‐copying, overlapping with that for MS VI, is sustained throughout Contents, section a, from fall 1831 through spring 1833.
A change in this pattern emerges when, in Contents, section b, “Athens” is displaced as the principal long work by Account of a Tour on the Continent. The pattern is maintained insofar as Ruskin probably fair‐copied “The Account” almost simultaneously, into MS IX, but composition of “The Account” differs in taking over the notebook completely, from fall 1833 through spring and early summer 1834. Ruskin does not alternate brief stints of the longer work with composition of shorter lyrics, except to take up draft of occasional works, for which purpose he jumps ahead to an unused section (e.g., Contents, sections c and d. This change can be partly explained by the nature of the “Account” itself, which apparently evolved from an exclusively metrical topographical work into a compound genre, of poetry, prose, and illustration. Composition of the work entailed its own varying of interest and literary/artistic form.
As explained in Account of a Tour on the Continent: Discussion, Ruskin modeled this anthology‐like approach to composing “The Account” on publications of the 1830s that exhibit mixed forms dependent on new printing technologies—for example, the topographical work, , by Samuel Rogers, which Rogers republished as a popular illustrated book in 1830, its large volume of production and wide distribution made possible by the new stee engraving. Ruskin was also imitating the prose writing typical of the illustrated landscape annuals of the period. Thus, in the “Account” section of MS VIII (section b), Ruskin might be understood as not so much as abandoning his earlier procedure of afternating draft of epic verse with draft of briefer lyrics, as finding and developing a model for a single project that accommodated his preference for varying genres. In this regard, Ruskin simply aligns his existing compositional habits with features of publications of the 1830s aimed at the British middle class, especially travel and ekphrastic publication.
What must have been somewhat unexpected, however, and what wrenches the use of MS VIII away from the familiar pattern of MS VI, is that Ruskin himself enters that publishing scene in 1834–35 as the author, “J.R.,” when he becomes a contributor to Friendshipʼs Offering. That transition—which was brought about by the “Account,” which was mined for the poems making up “Fragments from a Metrical Journal”, published in the gift annual—is most directly represented in MS VIII by the displacement of draft of “Account” with draft of “Saltzburg”, commissioned specifically to accompany an engraving for the annual. Perhaps Contents, section e should likewise be understood as a new use for Ruskin of a rough‐draft notebook, a use focused less on generating draft for fair‐copy presentation within the family circle, and more on developing writing for publication.
If so, the question arises of the subsequent relation between public and private writing in MS VIII. Ruskinʼs editors associated sections e and g with Ruskinʼs alleged crush on Adèle Domecq, based on his story in Praeterita, which frames this infatuation in terms of poetic composition. To understand these sections of MS VIII more clearly, this lyric writing from 1835 and beyond needs, like “Account,” to be detached from its autobiographical coloring, and set in relation to the material culture of the 1830s. Connected with these questions may be the phenomenon of Ruskinʼs unusally protracted use of MS VIII, extending perhaps as late as 1838.
Other work that engaged Ruskin simultaneously with MS VIII, in addition to the fair‐copy manuscripts already mentioned, include the Sermons on the Pentateuch (MSS IIA‐E), composed and fair‐copied 1832 through 1834, and the Mineralogical Dictionary (MS IVD), compiled 1831 through 1836. The latter helped sponsor Ruskinʼs emergence onto the public scene in another role, as a scientific author with papers in The Magazine of Natural History: “Enquiries on the Causes of the Colour of the Water of the Rhine”, “Facts and Considerations on the Strata of Mont Blanc, and on Some Instances of Twisted Strata Observable in Switzerland”, Note on the Perforation of a Leaden Pipe. And there would have been lessons to attend to.
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