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JOHN RUSKIN
English writer, art critic and social reformer
(1819 - 1900)
  Displaying page 1 of 8    Next Page >> 

A downright fact may be briefly told.
      - [Brevity]

A forest of all manner of trees is poor, if not disagreeable, in effect; a mass of one species of tree is sublime.
      - [Trees]

A gentleman's first characteristic is that fineness of structure in the body which renders it capable of the most delicate sensation; and of structure in the mind which renders it capable of the most delicate sympathies; one may say simply "fineness of nature."
      - [Gentlemen]

A man is known to his dog by the smell, to his tailor by the coat, to his friend by the smile; each of these know him, but how little or how much depends on the dignity of the intelligence. That which is truly and indeed characteristic of the man is known only to God.
      - [Character]

Absolute and entire ugliness is rare.
      - [Ugliness]

Absolute ugliness is admitted as rarely as perfect beauty; but degrees of it more or less distinct are associated with whatever has the nature of death and sin, just as beauty is associated with what has the nature of virtue and of life.
      - [Ugliness]

All are to be men of genius in their degree,--rivulets or rivers, it does not matter, so that the souls be clear and pure; not dead walls encompassing dead heaps of things, known and numbered, but running waters in the sweet wilderness of things unnumbered and unknown, conscious only of the living banks, on which they partly refresh and partly reflect the flowers, and so pass on.
      - [Genius]

All great song, from the first day when human lips contrived syllables, has been sincere song.
      - [Songs]

All men who have sense and feeling are being continually helped; they are taught by every person they meet, and enriched by everything that falls in their way. The greatest, is he who has been oftenest aided. Originality is the observing eye.
      - [Plagiarism]

All other passions do occasional good; but when pride puts in its word everything goes wrong.
      - [Pride]

All really great pictures exhibit the general habits of nature, manifested in some peculiar, rare, and beautiful way.
      - [Pictures]

All the best things and treasures of this world are not to be produced by each generation for itself; but we are all intended, not to carve our work in snow that will melt, but each and all of us to be continually rolling a great white gathering snow-ball, higher and higher, larger and larger, along the Alps of human power.
      - [Progress]

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.
      - [Imperfection]

All you have really to do is to keep your back as straight as you can; and not think about what is upon it. The real and essential meaning of "virtue" is that straightness of back.
      - [Cross]

An artist should be fit for the best society, and keep out of it.
      - [Society]

Anything which elevates the mind is sublime. Greatness of matter, space, power, virtue or beauty, are all sublime.
      - [Sublimity]

As long as there are cold and nakedness in the land around you, so long can there be no question at all but that splendor of dress is a crime. In due time, when we have nothing better to set people to work at, it may be right to let them make lace and cut jewels; but as long as there are any who have no blankets for their beds, and no rags for their bodies, so long it is blanket-making and tailoring we must set people to work at, not lace.
      - [Dress]

As unity demanded for its expression what at first might have seemed its opposite--variety; so repose demands for its expression the implied capability of its opposite--energy. It is the most unfailing test of beauty; nothing can be ignoble that possesses it, nothing right that has it not.
      - [Repose]

But if, indeed, there be a nobler life in us than in these strangely moving atoms; if, indeed, there is an eternal difference between the fire which inhabits them, and that which animates us,--it must be shown, by each of us in his appointed place, not merely in the patience, but in the activity of our hope, not merely by our desire, but our labor, for the time when the dust of the generations of men shall be confirmed for foundations of the gates of the city of God.
      - [Man]

Candlesticks and incense not being portable into the maintop, the sailor perceives these decorations to be, on the whole, inessential to a maintop mass. Sails must be set and cables bent, be it never so strict a saint's day; and it is found that no harm comes of it. Absolution on a lee-shore must be had of the breakers, it appears, if at all; and they give plenary and brief without listening to confession.
      - [Ceremony]

Cheerfulness is as natural to the heart of a man in strong health, as color to his cheek; and wherever there is habitual gloom, there must be either bad air, unwholesome food, improperly severe labor, or erring habits of life.
      - [Cheerfulness]

Childhood often holds a truth with its feeble finger, which the grasp of manhood cannot retain,--which it is the pride of utmost age to recover.
      - [Truth]

Christian faith is a grand cathedral, with divinely pictured windows. Standing without you see no glory, nor can possibly imagine any. Nothing is visible but the merest outline of dusky shapes. Standing within all is clear and defined; every ray of light reveals an army of unspeakable splendors.
      - [Christianity]

Color is, in brief terms, the type of love. Hence it is especially connected with the blossoming of the earth; and again, with its fruits; also, with the spring and fall of the leaf, and with the morning and evening of the day, in order to show the waiting of love about the birth and death of man.
      - [Colors]

Come, ye cold winds, at January's call,
  On whistling wings, and with white flakes bestrew
    The earth.
      - [January]


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