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W. G. Collingwood assigned roman numeral I to this Red Book in his “Preliminary Note on the Original MSS. of the Poems” (Poems [4o, 1891], 1:262; Poems [8o, 1891], 1:263).
Two decades earlier, Ruskin himself had set the precedent for numbering the Red Books, including this one: at the bottom of “Frontispiece” [Plate] “1” [“Harry and Lucy” Vol 1], he wrote “Red book. No. 3. Sept 8th 1870.” On the same day, he docketed MS IV as “Red book No. 1,” and MS III as “Red book No. 2.” For the meaning of this numbering, see Red Books.
Apart from these later numerical designations, Ruskinʼs boyhood title—intended originally, it appears, for MS I in its entirety as well as for its main work—is “Harry and Lucy / Concluded / Being the Last / Part of / Early Lessons / in four volumes / vol I / with copper / plates / Printed and composed by a little boy / and also drawn” (see “Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 1: Title). This title does not take account of the MS I Poetry Anthology at the end of the manuscript, a feature in addition to “Harry and Lucy” that Ruskin may not have envisioned when he devised the title page. See Discussion, however, for Ruskinʼs addition, following the anthology, of a colophon that does account for the contents of MS I as a totality.
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. Formerly, the Beinecke kept the manuscript inside the slipcase “Harry & Lucy, Poems &c,” which, when sold at auction, contained MS I along with four other manuscripts. The slipcase is now preserved separately.
See Provenance, Sothebyʼs, 1930.
Red Book. 9.5 × 15.2 cm. 42 leaves.
“Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 1: Title (inside front endboard) + “Frontispiece,” [Plate] “1,” [“Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 1] (1r) + pp. (starting on 1v) 1–29, [30–31] (missing), 32–43, 44[a], 45, 44[b] (i.e., a second p. 44 given for expected p. 46), 47, 48[a], 49[a], 48[b], 49[b] (i.e., p. 48 and p. 49 each given twice], 50–59, 80–86 (p. 87 not missing, but page numbering skipped), 88–106 + “Heights of Wisdom, Depth of Fools” [Miscellaneous Drawing, MS I] (inside back endboard).
A loose leaf (not counted in the collation) was inserted between the title page and 1r; it holds a clipping from Poems (8o, 1891) describing MS I, along with brief remarks possibly in the hand of Alexander Wedderburn. It is not clear in this case whether, for this purpose, an existing notebook leaf was used (e.g., whether Ruskinʼs “frontispiece” originally began on 2r, following this leaf), or whether a piece of paper was trimmed to the Red Bookʼs size and inserted here. The latter is more probable, since similar insertions in other Red Books (e.g., MS III) certainly formed no part of the original notebook.
Despite Ruskinʼs erratic page numbering, no leaves appear to be missing, except for pp. 30–31, which cause a gap in the text. This missing leaf probably included a “plate,” [Plate 4, “Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 1]. The leaf containing plate 5, “Lucyʼs Drawing Room,” [Plate] “5,” [“Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 1”] (pp. 36–37) was likewise torn out, although this leaf was reattached, using a glued, perforated sticker (since the tear line fits the remaining stub, this leaf was evidently not moved here from elsewhere). The gummed strip used to mend this leaf—resembling the border from a sheet of postage stamps—resembles one put to a similar use in proof sheets for Poems (1891) (RF MS 70). On this evidence, one infers that W. G. Collingwood had a hand preserving MS I, an inference coincident with his preparing the first bibliography of these manuscripts, the “Preliminary Note on the Original MSS. of the Poems” (Poems [4o, 1891], 1:261–67; Poems [8o, 1891], 1:262–68).
Ruskinʼs erratic page numbering through p. 50 probably arose from his attempt to correct earlier misnumbering. Erased earlier numbering remains visible starting on the present p. 21 (“19” is the erased number, an error since p. 19 had already appeared) and continuing consecutively through p. 49[b] (i.e., the second p. 49). Since the latter was written over top of “47,” it appears that, at about this point, Ruskin realized an error, went back to the present p. 21, and began renumbering; however, he made some new errors and possibly deliberately repeated pp. 48–49 in an attempt to bring his numbering in sync with following pages. The erratic numbering after p. 50 appears to have resulted from Ruskin writing “80” for “60,” and carrying on without correction. The missing p. 87 is probably a mere oversight.
From front of book, the sequential order of contents:
September 1826–21 March 1827.
Toward the end of MS I, Margaret Ruskin wrote, “this book begun about Sept or Oct 1826 / finished about Jany 1827” (see Gloss on the Dating of MS I). Since she inserted her annotation toward the end, within the MS I Poetry Anthology, it is probable that Ruskin devoted approximately the first month of 1827 to fair‐copying the poems (and possibly also composing some of them), whereas he had spent the fall/winter 1826 composing and fair‐copying “Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 1, along with drawing its plates.
Evidence for this sequence of events is supported by Ruskinʼs likely mimicry of his motherʼs form of dating MS I, when he dated a 1‐leaf presentation copy of “The Ship” and “Look at That Ship” [1827] as “febuary [sic] or march 1827,” despite another hand, on the reverse side, being confident in specifying the date as “16 Feby 1827” (see “The Ship” and “Look at That Ship” [1827]: Date). It can easily be imagined that, on this manuscript in mid-February 1827, Ruskin mimicked his motherʼs manner from only a few weeks earlier of dating MS I.
Margaretʼs annotation, depending on how one interprets it, possibly suggests also that at least one of the poems, “The Needless Alarm,” was composed earlier than its extant witness in MS I, while the rest of the poems may be dated no earlier than their witnesses here (see “The Needless Alarm”: Date; and “When furious up from mines the water pours” [“The Steam Engine”]: Date).
Probably a few months after Margaret entered her note dating the entire Red Book, Ruskin added “Heights of Wisdom, Depth of Fools” [Miscellaneous Drawing, MS I] to the back inside endboard and dated the drawing 21 March, although no year is given. This appears to establish the latest date of Ruskinʼs work on the manuscript.
Thus, in summary, while Ruskin probably composed or at least fair‐copied the contents of the manuscript between September 1826 and March 1827, he may have composed some of the contents earlier. In particular, “The Needless Alarm” may date from early 1826; and “Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 1, probably at least describes some events that occurred before fall 1826, if not actually drafted earlier. See the individual works for further discussion.
MS I is written entirely in large penciled print, more childish than that in any other Red Book; nonetheless, Ruskin was already carefully imitating published books by justifying the margins; devising a title page, frontispiece, and colophon; labeling his drawings as “plates”; and filling out the volume with the MS I Poetry Anthology, which he entitled “Poetry.”
Composition and Sources
MS I shows more uniform control over the entirety of its contents than tended to be the case in later Red Books, which grew more miscellaneous with successive uses at different times. For example, the title page appears more nearly to serve for the entire manuscript than is the case in MS III and MS IIIA, which likewise begin with volumes of “Harry and Lucy,” but which also contain much else that is altogether unrelated to the opening narrative.
Similarly, the MS I Poetry Anthology, which fills out MS I, appears less haphazard than poetry miscellanies in the other Red Books. The first of these poems, “When furious up from mines the water pours” [“The Steam Engine”], condenses a portion of The Botanic Garden by Erasmus Darwin, thus sustaining the Enlightenment, entrepreneurial spirit of the immediately preceding “Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 1, which imitates works by associates of Erasmus Darwin, Maria Edgeworth and Jeremiah Joyce.
As a visual artifact, MS I imitates the appearance of books Ruskin would have known: he modeled the title page directly on Maria Edgeworth, Harry and Lucy Concluded; and in the “plates,” he imitated any number of books in the Ruskin family library (Edgeworthʼs volumes were not illustrated). Most of Ruskinʼs “plates” bear no apparent relation with the text, but the frontispiece, “Frontispiece” [Plate] “1” [“Harry and Lucy” Vol 1], which features “a rainbow,” may be complemented by the last of the poems in the anthology, “On the Rainbow: In Blank Verse.” The rainbow drawing, moreover, could refer to Harryʼs vision of the Witch of the Alps at the end of “Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 1. Ruskin could have added the rainbow to the frontispiece as an afterthought: we cannot know for certain whether the textual rainbow suggested the graphic one, or vice versa, or whether the two are definitely related at all. But it seems likely that he arranged the contents in order to frame the book with the theme of the rainbow as both promise and closure.
Another sign of control over the entirety of the contents appears at the end of the Red Book, on p. 106, where Ruskin placed a colophon: “The end / hernhill / fountain street / end of the poems / juvenile library fountain street.” The colophon is followed by “Heights of Wisdom, Depth of Fools” [Miscellaneous Drawing, MS I], in which the concave shape of the narrow valley appears to answer to the convex form of the rainbow in the frontispiece. The colophon could be based on Maria Edgeworth, Harry and Lucy Concluded, which concludes in the fourth volume with “The End.” and, below that, “London: / Printed by Charles Wood, / Poppinʼs Court, Fleet Street.”
Ruskin evidently meant the colophon to unify the entire contents of MS I—“Harry and Lucy,” Vol. 1, along with the MS I Poetry Anthology—but the deletion within the colophon of “end of the poems” points to how his attempts at symmetry and closure were ongoing decisions. It appears that the deleted phrase originally formed part of a colophon that Ruskin meant to apply only to the poetry anthology, but that, by deleting the phrase, he caused to refer to the entire Red Book, not just the poems (reading, in effect, “The end / hernhill / fountain street / juvenile library fountain street”). Another, slightly different scenario is possible: the fact that the final two poems of the anthology fall after Margaretʼs annotation dating the whole of MS I may indicate that Ruskin added these poems (on pp. 103–6) after his motherʼs dating, and as he did so, he deleted “end of the poems” on p. 106 so as not to belie his addition. But this possibility seems contradicted by the placement of the colophon following all of the poems. It is also possible, of course, whatever the scenario, that the deletion was not made by Ruskin, but by someone else.
Domestic Scene
MS I is the only Red Book to locate its imaginary publisher, the “juvenile library,” in “hernhill / fountain street,” other Red Books mentioning simply Herne Hill. Could Ruskin be referring to what Praeterita records as an early memory, the water carts being filled in front of the house (Ruskin, Works, 35:21)? In Praeterita, Ruskin leaves unclear whether he observed the carts from the windows of Hern Hill or of the Hunter Street house—where the family lived prior to Herne Hill, until March 1823 (see Dearden, Ruskinʼs Camberwell, 1). By the time Ruskin first wrote about this memory in 1871 (in Fors Clavigera [Ruskin, Works, 27:169]), he might well have confused memories of the two locations; or the colophon itself might have suggested such a memory to him, when he doubtless reviewed his juvenilia for those later autobiographical writings. Unfortunately, attempts have been unsuccessful to gain information about either a Fountain Street or water mains in the vicinities of the two houses.