“THE SEVEN LAMPS”
“Have you read an Oxford Graduate’s letters on art?” wrote Miss Mitford, of “Our Village,” on January 27, 1847. “The author, Mr. Ruskin, was here last week, and is certainly the most charming person that I have ever known.” The friendship thus begun lasted until her death. She encouraged him in his work; she delighted in his success; and, in the grave reverses which were to befall him, he found her his most faithful supporter and most sympathetic consoler. In return, “his kindness cheered her closing days; he sent her every book that would interest and every delicacy that would strengthen her, attentions which will not surprise those who have heard of his large and thoughtful generosity."
[Footnote 2: “The Friendships of Mary Russell Mitford,” edited by the Rev. A.G. L’Estrange.]
It was natural that a rising man, so closely connected with Scotland, should be welcomed by the leaders of the Scottish school of literature. Sydney Smith, a former Edinburgh professor, had praised the new volume. John Murray, as it seems from letters of the period, made overtures to secure the author as a contributor to his Italian guide-books. Lockhart employed him to write for the Quarterly Review.
Lockhart was a person of great interest for young Ruskin, who worshipped Scott; and Lockhart’s daughter, even without her personal charm, would have attracted him as the actual grandchild of the great Sir Walter. It was for her sake, he says, rather than for the honour of writing in the famous Quarterly, that he undertook to review Lord Lindsay’s “Christian Art.”
He was known to be a suitor for Miss Lockhart’s hand. His father, in view of the success he desired, had been in February looking out for a house in the Lake District; hoping, no doubt, to see him settled there as a sort of successor to Wordsworth and Christopher North. In March, John Ruskin betook himself to the Salutation at Ambleside, with his constant attendant and amanuensis George, for quiet after a tiring winter in London society, and for his new labour of reviewing. But he did not find himself so fond of the Lakes as of old. He wrote to his mother (Sunday, March 28, 1847):