Society of painter of water-colours, 1857
I am at a loss to know why this picture is in a central position; it possesses no special merit of any kind. The face of Margaret is pretty, but wholly untouched by the feeling which prompts her first sharp answer: "I am neither a lady, nor pretty, and can go home by myself." For the rest, it is simply a stage dress and a stage stride; and the colouring is more false and crude than that of almost any picture in the room. The red of the cloak, for instance, is daubed about at random, coming bright in the shadow or dirty in the light, as chance will have it. I entirely dislike Faust,(2) and am sick of illustrations of it; but I wonder whether any painter will ever do it so much justice as to represent Mephistopheles with the face of a man who could either tempt or deceive.
(1)[Sir Frederic William Burton (1816-1890), Director of the National Gallery (1874-1894), elected Associate of the Royal Hibernian Academy, 1837, enjoyed a large practice in Dublin as a portrait-painter. Member of the Old Water-Colour Society, 1856; his drawings a feature of its exhibitions till 1870. His well-known portrait (in chalk) of George Eliot is in the National Portrait Gallery. One of his subject-drawings is in the Dublin National Gallery. For a reference by Ruskin to Burton's management of the National Gallery, see The Laws of Fesole, ch. iv. 16 n.]
(2)[See Vol. V. p. 330 n.]
Works (5, 330): “And, first, I think it probable that many readers may be surprised at my calling Scott the great representative of the mind of the age in literature. Those who can perceive the intense penetrative depth of Wordsworth, and the exquisite finish and melodious power of Tennyson, may be offended at my placing in higher rank that poetry of careless glance, and reckless rhyme, in which Scott poured out the fancies of his youth ; and those who are familiar with the subtle analysis of the French novelists, or who have in anywise submitted themselves to the influence of German philosophy, may be equally indignant at my ascribing a principality to Scott among the literary men of Europe, in an age which has produced De Balzac and Goethe”.(1)
(1)[The first paragraph of 23 here is the first paragraph of 13 in Frondes Agrestes (1875), where Ruskin added the following note:― "I knew nothing of Goethe when I put him with Balzac; but the intolerable dulness which encumbers the depth of Wilhelm Meister, and the cruel reserve which conceals from all but the intensest readers the meaning of Faust, have made him, in a great degree, an evil influence in European literature; and evil is always second-rate." For other references to Goethe, see Time and Tide, 96 (where Wilhelm Meister is mentioned); Munera Pulveris, 87; Aratra Pentelici, 12 (Faust); and Catalogue of the Educational Series (where it is said that " Goethe has formed, directly or indirectly, the thoughts of all strong and wise men since his time").]
Works (36, 422) To Lady Trevelyan (1862): “I feel so like one, and like a morning cloud, without the sunshine ―yet better a little― even of a few days' peace but more still of the resolve to have peace―at any price if it is to be had on any Mont du Reposoir, and not only under the green little Mont du Reposoir―or out of any "Saal" but that which is "auf kurze Zeit geborgt Der Gläubiger sind so viele."(1) Have you ever looked at the second part of Faust? It is a perfect treasure-house of strange knowledge and thought inexhaustible but it is too hard for me just now.”
(1) [See the "(Gral. legunz“ scene, at the end of the Second Part of Faust (for which compare Vol. XX. p. 208).]
Works (20, 208): And the whole science of aesthetics is, in the depth of it, expressed by one passage of Goethe's in the end of the second part of Faust;― the notable one that follows the song of the Lemures, when the angels enter to dispute with the fiends for the soul of Faust. They enter singing―"Pardon to sinners and life to the dust." Mephistopheles hears them first, and exclaims to his troop, "Discord I hear, and filthy jingling"― "Mis-töne höre ich: garstiges Geklimper."(1) This, you see, is the extreme of bad taste in music. Presently the angelic host begin strewing roses, which discomfits the diabolic crowd altogether. Mephistopheles in vain calls to them ―"What do you duck and shrink for―is that proper hellish behaviour? Stand fast, and let them strew"― "Was duckt und zuckt ihr; ist das Hollenbrauch? So haltet stand, und lasst sie streuen." There you have, also, the extreme of bad taste in sight and smell. And in the whole passage is a brief embodiment for you of the ultimate fact that all aesthetics depend on the health of soul and body, and the proper exercise of both, not only through years, but generations. Only by harmony of both collateral and successive lives can the great doctrine of the Muses be received which enables men "jairein ortos"― " "to have pleasure rightly;"(2) and there is no other definition of the beautiful, nor of any subject of delight to the aesthetic faculty, than that it is what one noble spirit has created, seen and felt by another of similar or equal nobility. So much as there is in you of ox, or of swine, perceives no beauty, and creates none: what is human in you, in exact proportion to the perfectness of its humanity, can create it, and receive.
(1)[Compare Eagle's Nest, 62, where this passage is again quoted; and for other references to the second part of Faust, see Munera Pulveris. 149 (Vol. XVII. p. 272 n.).]
(2) [Aristotle, Politics, viii. 5, 4]