Quotations by Ruskin, John


There is hardly anything in the world that some man can’t make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
(Attributed)

Unsourced in any of Ruskin's works.
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When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
(Attributed)
Added on 24-Oct-07 | Last updated 24-Oct-07
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There is nothing that I tell you with more eager desire that you should believe — nothing with wider ground in my experience for requiring you to believe, than this, that you never will love art well, till you love what she mirrors better.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
Eagle’s Nest, Lecture 3, “Relation of Wise Art to Wise Science,” sec. 41 (15 Sep 1872)
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The infinity of God is not mysterious, it is only unfathomable; not concealed, but incomprehensible; it is a clear infinity, the darkness of the pure unsearchable sea.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
Modern Painters (1843-1860), vol II, part iii, ch. 5 (1846)
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In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
Modern Painters, vol. IV, pt. V, ch. III, sec. 22 (1856)
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The greatest efforts of the race have always been traceable to the love of praise, as its greatest catastrophes to the love of pleasure.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
Sesame and Lilies, lecture I: “Of Kings’ Treasures,” sec. 3 (1864-1865)
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Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts, the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others, but of the three the only trustworthy one is the last.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
St. Mark’s Rest: The History of Venice, Preface (1885)
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Do justice to your brother (you can do that, whether you love him or not), and you will come to love him. But do injustice to him because you don’t love him, and you will come to hate him.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
The Crown of the Wild Olive, “Work” (1866)
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What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
The Crown of Wild Olive, lecture IV “The Future of England,” sec. 151 (1866)
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What do you suppose makes all men look back to the time of childhood with so much regret (if their childhood has been, in any moderate degree, healthy or peaceful)? That rich charm, which the least possession had for us, was in consequence of the poorness of our treasures. That miraculous aspect of the nature around us, was because we had seen little, and knew less. Each increased possession loads us with a new weariness; every piece of new knowledge diminishes the faculty of admiration; and Death is at last appointed to take us from a scene in which, if we were to stay longer, no gift could satisfy us, and no miracle surprise.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
The Eagle’s Nest, Lecture 5 “The Power of Contentment in Science and Art,” Sec. 82 (22 Feb 1872)
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Do not think of your faults, still less of others’ faults; look for what is good and strong, and try to imitate it. Your faults will drop off, like dead leaves, when their time comes.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
The Ethics of the Dust, Lecture 5 (1875)

Full text.
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God has lent us the earth for our life; it is a great entail. It belongs as much to those who are to come after us, and whose names are already written in the book of creation, as to us; and we have no right, by anything that we do or neglect, to involve them in unnecessary penalties, or deprive them of benefits which it was in our power to bequeath.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
The Seven Lamps of Architecture, “The Lamp of Memory,” ch. 6, sec. 9 (1907)
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Whatever we build, let us think we build for ever.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
The Seven Lamps of Architecture, ch. 6 “The Lamp of Memory” (1849)
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The world is full of vulgar Purists, who bring discredit on all selection by the silliness of their choice; and this the more, because the very becoming a Purist is commonly indicative of some slight degree of weakness, readiness to be offended, or narrowness of understanding of the ends of things.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
The Stones of Venice, vol. II, ch. 6, sec. 62 (1853)
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You may either win your peace or buy it: win it, by resistance to evil; buy it, by compromise with evil.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
The Two Paths, Lecture 5 (1859)
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Your honesty is not to be based either on religion or policy. Both your religion and policy must be based on it. Your honesty must be based, as the sun is, in vacant heaven; poised, as the lights in the firmament, which have rule over the day and over the night.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
Time and Tide, Letter VIII (1867)
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Whereas it has long been known and declared that the poor have no right to the property of the rich, I wish it also to be known and declared that the rich have no right to the property of the poor.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
Unto This Last Essay III: “Qui Judicatis Terram,” sec. 54 (1860)
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What is really desired, under the name of riches, is, essentially, power over men; in its simplest sense, the power of obtaining for our own advantage the labor of servant, tradesman, and artist; in wider sense, authority of directing large masses of the nation to various ends (good, trivial, or hurtful, according to the mind of the rich person).

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
Unto This Last, ch. 2 (1860)
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[The] “robbing of the poor because he is poor,” is especially the mercantile form of theft, consisting in taking advantage of a man’s necessities in order to obtain his labor or property at a reduced price. The ordinary highwayman’s opposite form of robbery — of the rich, because he is rich — does not appear to occur so often to the old merchant’s mind; probably because, being less profitable and more dangerous than the robbery of the poor, it is rarely practice by persons of discretion.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
Unto This Last, ch. 3 (1800)
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We need examples of people who, leaving Heaven to decide whether they are to rise in the world, decide for themselves that they will be happy in it, and have resolved to seek — not greater wealth, but simpler pleasure; not higher fortune, but deeper felicity; making the first of possessions, self-possession; and honouring themselves in the harmless pride and calm pursuits of peace.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
Unto This Last, Essay 4 “Ad Valorem” (1860)
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Added on 20-Nov-12 | Last updated 20-Nov-12
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