Edward Andrews (1787–1841)

Andrews was a popular Dissenting (Congregationalist) clergyman, whose preaching the Ruskins attended starting circa 1826, and who tutored Ruskin in classical languages starting in 1829 until circa 1833–34. Andrewsʼs daughter, Emily (1824–62), married Coventry Patmore (1823–96), modeling the archetypal domestic virtues of the Victorian wife and mother for Patmoreʼs poem, The Angel in the House (1854–62). See Andrews Family.
Education and Rise to Popularity as a Preacher
In a biography of Emily Patmore, Ian Anstruther characterizes her father, Reverend Andrews, as combining evangelical seriousness with a robust appreciation of the arts. Descended from a learned and sophisticated Essex family, he followed his father and grandfather into the Nonconformist clergy, studying at Hoxton Theological College, and then at Glasgow University (the latter a Scottish connection that perhaps recommended him to the Ruskinsʼ favor) (Coventry Patmoreʼs Angel, 9, 12). According to Edwin Paxton Hood (1820–85), a Congregational minister and a prolific writer about the preaching of his time, Andrews maintained that “God . . . should be worshipped with the best of everything . . . best architecture, best painting, best music, best sculpture, best poetry, and best genius” (Hood, Vocation of the Preacher, 209).
Andrews entered the Congregationalist Hoxton Academy in 1808. Founded in 1778, Hoxton was at this time a growing and important academy, accommodating thirty to forty students in residence (Glen, “Launching a Clerical Career in Late Georgian England, 645). The principal, a Scottish divine, Robert Simpson (1746–1817), did not have the reputation of a scholar, and candidates were chosen primarily for their “good natural abilities”, zeal, and commitment to evangelical doctrine (Nuttall, “Training for Hoxton and Highbury”, 477; Glen, “Launching a Clerical Career in Late Georgian England, 643–44). Nonetheless, by the time of Andrewsʼs matriculation, the Academy was observing higher standards of learning, including securing scholarships to Glasgow University. An 1810 syllabus shows that available studies included the following subjects, divided among three tutors: “Hebrew and biblical criticism, Jewish antiquities, evidences of divine revelation, systematic divinity, ecclesiastical history, and its connexion with profane [especially Roman] history; . . . English grammar, geography, Latin (including prose composition) and Greek; . . . pneumatology, logic, and belles lettres, with special regard to pulpit composition and elocution”. Students who, like Andrews, proceeded to Glasgow University fell under the supervision of Greville Ewing (1767–1841), a Congregational minister and a tutor at the Glasgow Theological Academy (Thompson, “Hoxton [Independent] Academy (1791–1826) and Highbury College (1826–1850)”).
The Ruskins began hearing Andrews preach in the parish of Walworth, which was a village lying only a few miles south of London Bridge. Like Camberwell, a little farther to the south where the Ruskins lived, Walworth was a rapidly growing suburb but still on the edge of the open country and woods around Norwood and Dulwich. The Andrewsesʼ household resembled the Ruskinsʼ with its growing collection of pictures on the walls, a substantial library on the shelves, and gardens outside, but it would have been a much busier and noisier place than Herne Hill. By the beginning of 1831, the manse had seventeen inhabitants, including Andrews and his wife, Elizabeth (née Elizabeth Honor Symons), who was learned and fond of music like her husband; twelve children (by June 1831, two would die in infancy); three servants; and a few penurious clergymen dependent on the Andrews familyʼs charity. In addition, a constant flow of visitors was drawn to the house by the familyʼs sociability and parish responsibilities. This rising star of the metropolitan pulpit was highly visible, helped by a dashing appearance that commanded no fewer than a dozen painted, engraved, and sculpted portraits in his relatively brief prime (Coventry Patmoreʼs Angel, 13, 19, 123–24).
Andrews officiated in his own chapel in Walworth, Beresford Street Chapel, which adjoined his house. He was at first a candidate for Camden Chapel in Camberwell, where he stirred such excitement that the congregation demanded him for their pastor. Blocked by their trustees, some members of the congregation broke away and built the Walworth Chapel for him, financed to some extent by Andrewsʼs wealthy father‐in‐law (Cleal, The Story of Congregationalism in Surrey, 105; Coventry Patmoreʼs Angel, 13). Such generous arrangements were not unheard‐of among the most popular preachers—especially those whose congregations included wealthy members—the largest of such complexes being Surrey Chapel, built to accommodate audiences of 3,000 for the preaching of Rowland Hill (1744–1833) in Blackfriars, London (Glen, “Launching a Clerical Career in Late Georgian England”, 649; Munden, Hill, Rowland (1744–1833)”). The crowds pressing to hear Andrews soon grew too large for the Beresford Street Chapel, and Andrews decided to finance an expansion with the aid of a new mortgage, which ultimately proved a ruinous encumberment (Cleal, The Story of Congregationalism in Surrey, 105). In his glory days, Andrews attracted crowds larger than could be seated, even in the expanded structure accommodating 1,600 seats (Coventry Patmoreʼs Angel, 22–23).
In Praeterita, Ruskin remembered the chapel as an example of “the Londonian chapel in its perfect type, definable as accurately as a Roman basilica,—an oblong, flat‐ceiled barn, lighted by windows with semi‐circular heads, brick‐arched, filled by small‐paned glass held by iron bars, like fine threaded halves of cobwebs; galleries propped on iron pipes, up both side; pews, well shut in, each of them, by partitions of plain deal, and neatly brass‐latched deal doors, filling the barn floor, all but its two lateral straw‐matted passages; pulpit, sublimely isolated, central from sides and clear of altar rails at end; a stout, four‐legged box of well‐grained wainscot, high as the level of front galleries, and decorated with a cushion of crimson velvet, padded six inches thick, with gold tassels at the corners, which was a great resource to me when I was tired of the sermon, because I liked watching the rich colour of the folds and creases that came in it when the clergyman thumped it”. Like his representation in the autobiography of the toyless austerity of his boyhood, Ruskin exaggerated this description, here in order to make the point that his “well‐formed habit [in youth] of narrowing myself to happiness within . . . four brick walls” supported his “acute perception and deep feeling of the beauty of architecture and scenery abroad” (Ruskin, Works, 35:132; and see Hanson, Ruskinʼs Praeterita and Landscape in Evangelical Childrenʼs Education”, 45–52). While an 1824 watercolor of the exterior of Beresford Chapel by John Hassell (1767–1825), and a comic sketch of the interior of this “dreary Bethal” by Edward Burne‐Jones, suggest that Ruskinʼs prose picture captures accurately enough the “perfect type” of the late‐Georgian meeting house, Hood remembered that the buildingʼs unusually rich adornments “gave you certainly no idea of the dissenting conventicle”. There were “stained glass, and the Aaronic and Mosaic figures, the Baptist and St. Paul in carving—the rich, loud organ, and the altar‐piece”—the grander fittings perhaps features of the heavily mortgaged expansion, and “far beyond what was usual in Nonconformist buildings of that period” (G. Burne‐Jones, Memorials of Edward Burne‐Jones, 1:41–42; Hood, Vocation of the Preacher, 209; Cleal, The Story of Congregationalism in Surrey, 105).
The organ, which members of the Andrews family played, was a particularly vital resource for recitalists contributing musical culture in the locale. Andrews himself was proficient on several instruments, and his accomplishments extended to other arts, as well (Coventry Patmoreʼs Angel, 18). He had some success as a sacred dramatist, with titles including The Vineyard of Naboth: A Dramatic Fragment (“translated from the original Hebrew”), which was printed in 1825. Another title, Sampson, Hood effuses, might have been penned by Coleridge (Vocation of the Preacher, 212, 231). Of Andrewsʼs varied pursuits—many of which were self‐financed, like his chapel—a crucial one for Ruskin was the role of editor. As proprietor and editor of a magazine, the Spiritual Times, Andrews gained the distinction of serving as Ruskinʼs first editor and publisher, by printing versions of the youthʼs poem, “On Skiddaw and Derwentwater” in August 1829 and Februrary 1830. The magazine also published poetry by Andrewsʼs own children.
In preaching, the method recommended by Andrewsʼs principal at Hoxton, Robert Simpson, was to commit written sermons to memory in order to enjoy more “liberty in the pulpit”, and thereby cultivate the “new style” of sermonizing by evangelical Dissenters, which pursued passion and drama and at least the impression of extempore inspiration (Glen, “Launching a Clerical Career in Late Georgian England, 648). This method seems to account for Hoodʼs anecdotes about Andrewsʼs “eccentricities”, such as his pausing in the middle of a sermon, confessing that “‘as I came up those pulpit stairs, I had all the parts of this sermon well written on my mind’”, but that now he could not remember the third head; and so he commanded the organist to “‘strike up a symphony’” while the remainder came back to him. His “luxuriant fancy” seemed all the more glorious “because apparently so unpremeditated” (Vocation of the Preacher, 210–13). The earliest reference to Andrewsʼs preaching in a Ruskin family letter—the “best sermon from Dr. Andrews”, Margaret declared, that she “ever heard him preach”, which occurred in May 1826—indicates that the elder Ruskins were by that time already dazzled (letter of 15 May 1826 [Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 146]). John grew old enough to pay attention to the sermons in 1829, shortly before his tenth birthday: “I always liked him”, he explained to a family friend, Mrs. Monro, “but of late I began to attend to his sermons and write them in a book at home” (Letter to Mrs. Monro; and see MS II).
Clergyman and Tutor for the Ruskin Family
The 1829 exercises of abstracting Andrewsʼs sermons were a joint project with Ruskinʼs older cousin, Mary Richardson (1815–49). At that time, Ruskinʼs orphaned cousin, who was between thirteen and fourteen, had come to live with her aunt and uncle permanently less than a year earlier, and she would have only recently passed through the stage of deepest mourning for her mother. It was likely Maryʼs enthusiasm, therefore, that fired Johnʼs sudden attraction to a preacher who had been familiar to the family for at least three years, since John was six or seven. On Monday, 19 January 1829, “We that is Mary I” were “so delighted” with Andrewsʼs “beautiful Sermon” the day before, John reported to his father, that they persuaded the family nurse to venture “out in a hunt after Dr Andrews” and encountered “him running full‐speed”. The nurse, Anne Strachan, intercepted him with a curtsey; and after the clergyman asked “a few questions”—Andrews evidently did not recognize the children—“he patted [the dog] gipsey and ran off as he came” (letter of 19 January 1829 [Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 173]).
Within only three months of this encounter, “papa seeing how fond I was of the doctor and knowing him to be an excellent latin scholar got him for me as a tutor”, as John explained to Mrs. Monro (Letter to Mrs. Monro). In John Jamesʼs household account ledger, he dated his first payment to Andrews on 8 April 1829 for £20 (the same amount was paid again in July and September [Account Book, 11v]). In his letter to Mrs. Monro, John at first wrote “bought him for me as tutor” and then corrected bought to got—a telling slip, suggesting that John perceived Andrewsʼs engagement in the manner of his fatherʼs coming‐home present (perhaps in competition with Mary), John James having been traveling on business from January through at least mid‐March, during the height of the Andrews fever. By May, however, following his first lessons with Andrews, and after a family friend had impressed on him that “the coming of the tutor for the first time” constituted “a most important aera of my life”, Ruskin wrote more solemnly about his “master” such as “few boys have” (letter of 10 May 1829 [Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 200]).
Andrews came to Herne Hill on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to prepare Ruskin in the classical languages he would need for the university. (According to Johnʼs calculations in his 10 May 1829 birthday letter for his father, his first lesson had occurred “three weeks [ago] and more”, or around 20 April 1829, more than a week after John Jamesʼs first payment to Andrews [Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 200; Letter to Mrs. Monro].) The lessons would not have started from scratch, Ruskin having begun learning rudimentary Latin probably in 1826 or 1827 under his parentsʼ supervision (see Latin Exercises). John James continued to take some part in coaching Latin, as shown by letters of 19 October, 26 October, and 6 November 1829, in which he paces his son through passages of Livy and Virgil; and much later, according to a letter of 21 February 1831, when Andrews had moved on to instructing John in Greek and Hebrew, John James required his son to “write regularly a page of Clarke” and submit the lesson to him for correction (i.e., John Clarke, An Introduction to the Making of Latin) (Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 201–2, 204–6, 209–10, 220).
Margaret probably left the drills to the men, just as, when Andrews started coming to Herne Hill, she retreated from the room in which he held lessons; nonetheless, she maintained her role in Johnʼs education, “supply[ing John Jamesʼs] place morning and evening as reader” in his absence, as she reminded her husband. Beyond the daily Bible chapters, diversified by travels and histories, that she had read with John since early boyhood, Margaret now willingly took on volumes as taxing as John Horne Tookeʼs philosophical approach to grammar, ΕΠΕΑ ΠΤΕΡΟΕΝΤΑ [Epea Pteroenta]; or, the Diversions of Purley. In choosing to study a grammar text at this juncture in Johnʼs education, Margaret demonstrates that she accepted the Englishwomanʼs role, if not to instruct erudite languages, at least to assist in regulating language. She thereby supported Johnʼs rite of passage to masculinity, advancing him from her teaching of the English mother tongue since infancy, and passing him along to the male domain of classical languages taught by a master (see Cohen, Fashioning Masculinity, 31). Yet in the choice of a sophisticated philosophical treatise on grammar like Tookeʼs, Margaret also asserts her own intellectual ambition: while acknowledging to John James that “the greek & Latin quotations increase . . . [the bookʼs] obscurity greatly to me[,] still I think I comprehend more than when I last looked over” the book; and now she finds herself “amused as well as interested[;] how can people who are not always occupied in business & society exist without reading or hearing reading[?]”. Later, Margaret took an active part in Johnʼs Hebrew lessons, introduced by Andrews along with Greek (letters of 12 March and 31 October 1829, 28 February 1831, in Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 208, 197, 208, 227).
As a boyʼs preparation for manhood, however, the most pronounced characteristic of Andrewsʼs pedagogy was less its strenuousness—at least at first, according to Ruskinʼs account—than its fun: “he makes me laugh almost but not quite to use one of his own expressions”, Ruskin delightedly reported in 1829; “he is so funny comparing Neptunes lifting up the wrecked ships of eenaes with his trident to my lifting up a potato with a fork or taking a piece of bread out of a bowl of milk with a spoon” (Letter to Mrs. Monro). The opposite of a stern disciplinarian, Andrews was gentle and kind with children, servants, and pets: “What a nice face he has”, John decided; “I do think to use one of his own expressions he looks best when he frowns next when he laughs and next when he neither frowns nor laughs Every thing he does is nice”. When John and Mary accosted Andrews in his career through the lanes of Walworth, it was the curtsey of a servant, Ann, that got his attention; and he ended this first interview with a pat for the family dog, Gipsey. When he preached a sermon on “The Religious and Moral Duty of Man in the Dumb Creation”, Beresford Chapel was swamped by members of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (letters of 10 May, 19 January, and 20 October 1829, in Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 200, 173, 203, and see 204 n. 1).
How rigorous was Andrewsʼs tutelage? Judgments vary about the scope of his abilities as a linguist and classicist. Two late‐century reports are at odds, one pronouncing him “one of the first Greek scholars of the day, . . . said to have derived an income of £1,000 a year from teaching the sons of nobility” (Cleal, The Story of Congregationalism in Surrey, 105), and the other, Ruskinʼs own account in Praeterita, dismissing the clergymanʼs command of “little more of Greek than the letters, and declensions of nouns”, although “he wrote the letters prettily, and had an accurate and sensitive ear for rhythm” (Ruskin, Works, 35:74). Ruskin was then looking backward from the eminence of his classical studies of the 1860s and 1870s. In his youth, John and his parents appear to have regarded his progress as substantial. Taking stock after seven months of lessons, Margaret commented that one dayʼs lesson included fifty lines of Virgil, which John reviewed with only two errors—an achievement that, for John James, merited declaiming his son as “a little Horace a small Cicero”, deserving the “rank as a Classic” in his own right. Owing to a gap in the family letters for 1830, the next glimpse of Ruskinʼs study schedule comes more than a year later, when Margaret considers him very busy at “having every day gone regularly through his latin exercise & grammar an hour of Greek some of prosody and the Bible got by heart” (letters of 20 October, 26 October 1829, 28 February 1831, in Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 203, 204, 217).
While tutoring Ruskin, Andrewsʼs fortunes declined as rapidly as they had risen. As early as October 1829, Margaret perceived him as overextended: “I fear the Doctor will undertake too much[;] he is getting more pupils” (letter of 31 October 1829 [Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 208]). In 1831, tragedy beset the family, when Andrewsʼs wife, Elizabeth, grew ill from the birth of their twelfth child. Long weakened by consumption, Elizabeth died in April 1831, followed shortly by the passing of the two youngest infants (Anstruther, Coventry Patmoreʼs Angel, 19). In March 1831, as these calamities approached, Andrews paid what Margaret Ruskin considered an unseemly morning visit, to unload “a long account of [his wifeʼs] complaints in the hope“, Margaret felt certain, “that I should say there was no chance of her living long”. Despite such an “imprudent” confession to a parishioner whom he had known “so short a time” in Margaretʼs estimation, Andrews could not forebear from “enlarg[ing] much on the torment [his wife] . . . had been to him for these last ten years”, making him endure “caprice, jealousy, unreasonableness and violence” that “has marred his respectability and fortune and prevented his filling that place in society his talents entitle him to” (letter of 10 March 1831 [Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 242–43]).
Margaretʼs account incidentally suggests that Elizabeth Andrewsʼs real offense may have been that she was an intellectual and talented woman who had earned censure for failing to observe the boundaries that Ruskin would later define for “queens” in his 1864 lecture, “Of Queensʼ Gardens”. Womenʼs education, Ruskin would opine, should be “nearly, in its course and material of study, the same as a boyʼs; but quite differently directed” in order to “sympathize in her husbandʼs pleasures, and in those of his best friends”. Elizabeth was condemned of lacking sympathetic supportiveness, since her perceived mania, whatever it was, had damaged her husbandʼs “respectability and fortune and prevented his filling that place in society his talents entitle him to”. Regardless of whether Andrewsʼs vocation and talents qualified as the maleʼs “foundational and progressive” labor that Ruskin would later pronounce to be deserving of female sympathy, no one evidently thought to ask whether this womanʼs studies might have been just as foundational for her (Sesame and Lilies, in Ruskin, Works, 18:128).
Margaret, at least, pointed out that Edward Andrews deserved a share of blame for his wifeʼs condition, since “to any woman with so numerous a family [he must] have caused much serious and distressing apprehension”, given his “flighty . . . habits and manner of conducting his secular affairs, though with the best and kindest intentions”. In criticizing his flightiness, Margaret perhaps referred in part to Andrewsʼs extravagance in bearing children, no less than his improvidence in cultivating the arts and expensive tastes beyond a clergymanʼs sphere—the Ruskins having obviously demonstrated greater self‐government in childbearing, much less allowing “unwise indulgence of” a womanʼs alleged “caprice” (Ruskin Family Letters, 243). In any case, and for whatever cause, after Elizabethʼs death in 1831 the Andrews family grew distressed financially, and the mortgage was called in on the chapel. Nonetheless, Andrews continued to tutor Ruskin, apparently to everyoneʼs satisfaction, until 1833 or 1834, when the youthʼs preparation for university was taken over by the Reverend Thomas Dale (1797–1870) (Ruskin Family Letters, 200 n. 4, 257, 262, 273, 275, and see 366).
Andrews died in 1841, leaving his family destitute, and forcing the two eldest sons to emigrate to Australia in search of better fortune, while the remaining family gathered for protection around their eldest sister, Eliza, who had married well (Anstruther, Coventry Patmoreʼs Angel, 22–23). A half century later, Eliza, now well known as a lawyer and social reformer, would open her memories to W. Robertson Nicoll, enabling him to track down Ruskinʼs first publication, “On Skiddaw and Derwentwater”, in her fatherʼs magazine, the Spiritual Times.
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