Ruskin 3: Childhood, daily life, taking the cure, music
Posted by Helen on June 29, 1998 at 10:25:44:
In response to Ruskin 2: Travel, chaises and chariots, written by Helen on June 29, 1998 at 10:22:24
Ruskin’s family life can’t really be quarried for Austen-relevant information, as he grew up in an Evangelical household. His toys consisted of an old bunch of keys (when baby), cart, ball, box of bricks – ‘being always summarily whipped if I cried, did not do as I was bid, or tumbled on the stairs, I soon attained serene and secure methods of life and motion’. He was not allowed to appear when the family had company. When had learnt to crack nuts, he was allowed to come down and crack them for the guests, but was not allowed sweets himself
When he was young, Ruskin had to learn his lessons by midday, then was free. His dinner was at 1-30, and his great daily treat was watching his father shave. His father dined on returning from business at 4-30 in the front parlour – ‘my mother sitting beside him to hear the events of the day, and give counsel and encouragement with respect to the same’. From 4-6 he was not allowed to disturb his parents, but after tea at 6 they all sat in one room: in summer they were outside till sunset but in winter he sat in a corner while his father read to his mother – Ruskin, writing in the late Victorian period, comments that his parents read Byron, Scott, lots of books which to Victorians seem inappropriate to read to children, without any censorship whatsoever.
On Sunday evenings his father would read a sermon, or a clerk or customer would dine and they would drink sherry. The children read Sunday books: Pilgrim’s Progress, Bunyan’s Holy War, Quarles’ emblems, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, Mrs Sherwood’s Lady of the Manor and other moral tales (Mrs. Sherwood tended to write plots about young girls who went to balls and therefore died…).
Taking the cure (1842)
‘Salt water from the Wells in the morning, and iron, visibly glittering in deposit at bottom of glass, twice a day. Breakfast at eight, with herb tea – dandelion, I think; dinner at one, supper at six, both of meat, bread, and water, only; - fish, meat, or fowl, as I chose, but only one dish of the meat chosen, and no vegetables nor fruit. Walk, forenoon and afternoon, and early to bed.’
He says that singers take songs faster nowadays, i.e. in the 1880s, than they did in his youth (talking of opera in particular) – which if you listen to very, very old records, is probably true.
Taking the cure (1842)
(At Leamington) ‘Salt water from the Wells in the morning, and iron, visibly glittering in deposit at bottom of glass, twice a day. Breakfast at eight, with herb tea – dandelion, I think; dinner at one, supper at six, both of meat, bread, and water, only; - fish, meat, or fowl, as I chose, but only one dish of the meat chosen, and no vegetables nor fruit. Walk, forenoon and afternoon, and early to bed.’
Posting followups to old messages is disabled; instead go to the main index and post a new message which mentions this one.