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JOHN RUSKIN
English writer, art critic and social reformer
(1819 - 1900)
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Like other beautiful things in this world, its end (that of a shaft) is to be beautiful; and, in proportion to its beauty, it receives permission to be otherwise useless. We do not blame emeralds and rubies because we cannot make them into heads of hammers.
      - [Beauty]

Many thoughts are so dependent upon the language in which they are clothed that they would lose half their beauty if otherwise expressed.
      - [Thought]

Men are merely on a lower or higher stage of an eminence, whose summit is God's throne infinitely above all; and there is just as much reason for the wisest as for the simplest man being discontent with his position, as respects the real quantity of knowledge he possesses.
      - [Discontent]

Men cannot benefit those that are with them as they can benefit those that come after them; and of all the pulpits from which human voice is ever sent forth, there is none from which it reaches so far as from the grave.
      - [Graves]

Men have commonly more pleasure in the criticism which hurts than in that which is innocuous, and are more tolerant of the severity which breaks hearts and ruins fortunes than of that which falls impotently on the grave.
      - [Criticism]

Men say their pinnacles point to heaven. Why, so does every tree that buds, and every bird that rises as it sings. Men say their aisles are good for worship. Why, so is every mountain glen and rough sea-shore. But this they have of distinct and indisputable glory,--that their mighty walls were never raised, and never shall be, but by men who love and aid each other in their weakness.
      - [Churches]

Milton saw not, and Beethoven heard not, but the sense of beauty was upon them, and they fain must speak.
      - [Poetry]

Music is thus, in her health, the teacher of perfect order, and is the voice of the obedience of angels, and the companion of the course of the spheres of heaven; and in her depravity she is also the teacher of perfect disorder and disobedience.
      - [Music]

No art can be noble which is incapable of expressing thought, and no art is capable of expressing thought which does not change.
      - [Art]

No day is without its innocent hope.
      - [Day]

No divine terror will ever be found in the work of the man who wastes a colossal strength in elaborating toys; for the first lesson that terror is sent to teach us is, the value of the human soul, and the shortness of mortal time.
      - [Terror]

No good work whatever can be perfect, and the demand for perfection is always a sign of a misunderstanding of the ends of art.
      - [Perfection]

No great intellectual thing was ever done by great effort; a great thing can only be done by a great man, and he does it without effort.
      - [Greatness]

No human face is exactly the same in its lines on each side, no leaf perfect in its lobes, no branch in its symmetry. All admit irregularity as they imply change; and to banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality. All things are literally better, lovelier, and more beloved for the imperfections which have been divinely appointed, that the law of human life may be effort, and the law of human judgment mercy.
      - [Face]

No peace was ever won from fate by subterfuge or argument; no peace is ever in store for any of us, but that which we shall win by victory over shame or sin--victory over the sin that oppresses, as well as over that which corrupts.
      - [Peace]

No picture can be good which deceives by its imitation, for the very reason that nothing can be beautiful which is not true.
      - [Pictures]

Not with out design does Cod write the music of our lives. Be it ours to learn the time, and not be discouraged at the rests. If we say sadly to ourselves, "There is no music in a rest," let us not forget "there is the making of music in it." The making of music is often a slow and pain process in this life. How patiently God works to teach us! How long He waits for us to learn the lesson!
      - [Patience]

Now the basest thought possible concerning man is, that he has no spiritual nature; and the foolishest misunderstanding of him possible is, that he has, or should have, no animal nature. For his nature is nobly animal, nobly spiritual,--coherently and irrevocably so; neither part of it may, but at its peril, expel, despise, or defy the other.
      - [Man]

O powers illimitable! it is but the outer hem of God's great mantle our poor stars do gem.
      - [Stars]

Obedience is, indeed, founded on a kind of freedom, else it would become mere subjugation, but that freedom is only granted that obedience may be more perfect; and thus while a measure of license is necessary to exhibit the individual energies of things, the fairness and pleasantness and perfection of them all consist in their restraint.
      - [Obedience]

Order and system are nobler things than power.
      - [Order]

Our God is a household God, as well as a heavenly one. He has an altar in every man's dwelling; let men look to it when they rend it lightly, and pour out its ashes.
      - [God]

Our large trading cities bear to me very nearly the aspect of monastic establishments in which the roar of the mill-wheel and the crane takes the place of other devotional music, and in which the worship of Mammon and Moloch is conducted with a tender reverence and an exact propriety; the merchant rising to his Mammon matins, with the self-denial of an anchorite, and expiating the frivolities into which he maybe beguiled in the course of the day by late attendance at Mammon vespers.
      - [Cities]

Our purity of taste is best tested by its universality, for if we can only admire this thing or that, we maybe use that our cause for liking is of a finite and false nature.
      - [Taste]

Our respect for the dead, when they are just dead, is something wonderful, and the way we show it more wonderful still. We show it with black feathers and black horses; we show it with black dresses and black heraldries; we show it with costly obelisks and sculptures of sorrow, which spoil half of our beautiful cathedrals. We show it with frightful gratings and vaults, and lids of dismal stone, in the midst of the quiet grass; and last, and not least, we show it by permitting ourselves to tell any number of falsehoods we think amiable or credible in the epitaph.
      - [Death]


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