(1819-1900), perhaps best known for his defences of Turner and the
Pre-Raphaelites and his home at Brantwood in the Lake District, produced
an idiosyncratic monthly digest of his ideas entitled Fors Clavigera.
This took the form of a series of letters to the workmen and labourers
of Great Britain. Amongst the many personal anecdotes, Swiss folk
stories, discourses on art and botany and promised recipes for a famous
vegetable soup, Ruskin sketched out the framework for his own utopian
world. It was a world where art and life were to merge as one. Money
itself would be an object of beauty. Each trade and profession was to
have its own distinctive costume. Work would be carried out by hand,
without machines with their accompanying pollution. The mainly
agricultural work would be interspersed with folk festivals.
conceived the Guild of St. George as a means of transforming the
declining state of Britain into his utopian fantasy.
"We will try to take some small piece of English ground, beautiful,
peaceful and fruitful. We will have no steam-engines upon it, and no
railroads; we will have no untended or unthought-of creatures on it;
none wretched, but the sick; none idle, but the dead." The
Guild was to be a band of men of good will, giving a tithe of their
income, and the best of their energies, to acquiring land, and
developing it, in accordance with Ruskin's ideas and ideals.
The Code of the Guild of St. George
I trust in the Living God, Father Almighty, Maker of heaven
and earth, and of all things and creatures visible and
invisible. I trust in the kindness of His law, and the
goodness of His work. And I will strive to love Him, and
keep His law, and see His work, while I live.
I trust in the nobleness of human nature, in the majesty of
its faculties, the fulness of its mercy, and the joy of its
love. And I will strive to love my neighbour as myself, and,
even when I cannot, will act as if I did.
I will labour, with such strength and opportunity as God
gives me, for my own daily bread; and all that my hand finds
to do, I will do with my might.
I will not deceive, or cause to be deceived, any human being
for my gain or pleasure; nor hurt, or cause to be hurt, any
human being for my gain or pleasure; nor rob, or cause to be
robbed, any human being for my gain or pleasure.
I will not kill nor hurt any living creature needlessly, nor
destroy any beautiful thing, but will strive to save and
comfort all gentle life, and guard and perfect all natural
beauty, upon the earth.
I will strive to raise my own body and soul daily into
higher powers of duty and happiness; not in rivalship or
contention with others, but for the help, delight, and
honour of others, and for the joy and peace of my own life.
I will obey all the laws of my country faithfully; and the
orders of its monarch, and of all persons appointed to be in
authority under its monarch, so far as such laws or commands
are consistent with what I suppose to be the law of God; and
when they are not, or seem in any wise to need change, I
will oppose them loyally and deliberately, not with
malicious, concealed, or disorderly violence.
And with the same faithfulness, and under the limits of
the same obedience, which I render to the laws of my
country, and the commands of its rulers, I will obey the
laws of the Society called of St. George, into which I
am this day received; and the orders of its masters, and
of all persons appointed to be in authority under its
masters, so long as I remain a Companion, called of St.
John Ruskin Fors Clavigera, Letter 58