The Works of John Ruskin
Volume 7, Modern Painters V
By John Ruskin
Edited by Edward Tyas Cook
Edited by Alexander Wedderburn
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 2010
Online Publication Date:September 2011
Original Publication Year:1903
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511696107.034
Subjects: Literary texts
§ 1. Looking back over what I have written, I find that I have only now the power of ending this work,—it being time that it should end, but not of “concluding” it; for it has led me into fields of infinite inquiry, where it is only possible to break off with such imperfect result as may, at any given moment, have been attained.
Full of far deeper reverence for Turner's art than I felt when this task of his defence was undertaken (which may, perhaps, be evidenced by my having associated no other names with his—but of the dead—in my speaking of him throughout this volume), I am more in doubt respecting the real use to mankind of that, or any other transcendent art; incomprehensible as it must always be to the mass of men. Full of far deeper love for what I remember of Turner himself, as I become better capable of understanding it, I find myself more and more helpless to explain his errors and his sins.
§ 2. His errors, I might say, simply. Perhaps, some day, people will again begin to remember the force of the old Greek word for sin; and to learn that all sin is in essence—“Missing the mark”; losing sight or consciousness of heaven; and that this loss may be various in its guilt; it cannot be judged by us.