Calais [drawing]—Fishermen
Calais Fishermen
Pen and ink drawing, approx. 6.8 × 12.4 cm (image only).
The editors of the Library Edition describe the image as “a sketch of calm sea at low tide, with sailing‐boat and fishermen” (Ruskin, Works, 2:341 n. 1). Two fishing boats float side by side. Figures are at work both aboard the boats and in the water, the latter scooping with nets. On shore, a lone figure observes the fishermen.
"Calais" [section title]
 CALAIS
"Calais" [poem]
The sands are in the sunlight sleeping
The ocean barrier is beating a
Again, again for evermore
Haste the light curlings to the shore,
That from the sand the impression sweep
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Of playful Childhoods daring feet
That seeks within its sandy cell
The pebble bright, or purple shell 1
Far in its clear expanse, lay wide
Unruffledly that ocean‐tide
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Stretching away where paler grew,
A
T
he heavens bright unclouded blue.

And far away indistance dying
Old Englands cliffy coast was lying
And beautiful, as summer cloud
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By the low sun empurpled proud
Strange, that a space from shore to shore
So soon, so easily passed oer,
Should yet a wide distinction place
Twixt man and man, twixt race and race
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Sudden and marked the change you find
Religion, language even mind 2
That you might think that narrow span
Marked the varieties of man.
Calais [drawing]—Fishermen with Telescope
Calais Fishermen with Telescope
Pen and ink, approx. 3.7 × 5.5 cm (image only).
The editors of the Library Edition describe the image as “a sketch of two old fishermen on the shore, of whom one is looking over the sea through a telescope” (Ruskin, Works, 2:341 n. 3). The fisherman aims his telescope at a distant ship; the second fisherman, holding his nets, gazes at the first fisherman.
Calais [drawing]—Pier
Calais Pier, Figures Gazing out to Sea
Pen and ink, approx. 6.8 × 10.3 cm (image only).
The editors of the Library Edition describe the image as “a sketch of the sea with a wooden pier and a ship sailing in” (Ruskin, Works, 2:341 n. 4). Two fisherman stand on the pier with their nets, one watching the ship coming in, and the other folding his net. The roughness of the sea contrasts with the calm depicted in Calais Fishermen.
"Calais" [prose]
—How much has been said of Calais. Every one who
has ever set his foot on the French shore, from poor
Yorick to the veriest scribbler ever blotted paper, has
written half a volume upon Calais. And no marvel.
 
b
Calais—the busy—the bustling —I had almost said
the beautiful, for beautiful it was to me. c and
 
d
I believe to every one, who enters it as a vestibule
 
e
an introduction to France, and to the French. 3 f
See Calais, and you can see no more, though you
should peramubulate France from the Atlantic
to the Mediterranean. It is a little France, a min‐
iature picture, but not the less
ȸ
a
resemblance.— g
Stand on the pier and look round you The sky is a
French sky, it is a very turquoise, the sea is a
 
h
French sea in every thing but its want of motion
the air is French air, none of your English bois‐
terous sea puffs that blow the dust in your eyes
when you wish to be particularly clear sighted.
No, it is a mere breath, you canʼt call it a breeze
yet bearing a delicious, a balmy coolness, and a
 
i
little, a very little smell of the sea. Look at the
fishing boats, they are peculiarly French, and
particularly clumsy. The red tattered shapeless
sail the undistinguishable resemblance of stem
to stern, the porpoise like manner in which the
vessel labours through the water, the incorrigible
disorder that reigns on board, the confusion of
fish out of water with men, — that are at least
out of their element, would mark a french fish‐
ing boat, whatever quarter of the world it
might happen to be driven to.
And look at the town, the chimnies are entire‐
ly vapourless, and have that peculiarly awk‐
14

ward look incident to all useless things. And
look at the people, the countenance, the costume
the tout ensemble is altogether different from
any thing you ever saw in England, and
yet Englands cliffs are on the horizon, half an
hours might see you beneath them, 4 — It is
most extraordinary. —
Calais [drawing]—Town Square
Calais Town Square with Tourists
Pen and ink, approx. 11 × 10.3 cm (image only).
The editors of the Library Edition describe the image as “a sketch of Calais Square, or market‐place, with two figures—a man and woman, and a child (? J.J.R., M.R., and J.R.)—evidently British, at whom a Frenchman, who is wheeling a barrow near them, looks in amazement. The child has its hands uplifted in wonder, and is looking at the quaint buildings” (Ruskin, Works, 2:342 n. 2). In the editorsʼ description, the second dash should be moved to follow “woman”, as there are obviously three British family figures.
The editors also gloss the poem and prose sections of “Calais” with the comparison of France and England in The Poetry of Architecture, §16 (Ruskin, Works, 1:14).
As suggested by the editorsʼ query, it seems unlikely that Ruskin intended himself, at age 14, for the third figure, the child, since the child wears skirts and a bonnet. The child figure might be meant as his cousin, Mary Richardson (1815–49), but she was a young woman at this date. More likely, while the drawing may contain some self‐mockery, it is meant to satirize national characteristics generally—an English family, rotund and naive, contrasted with the skinny Frenchman pushing the wheelbarrow, and thus drawing on such nationalistic tropes as found in William Hogarthʼs (1697–1764) The Gate of Calais; or, The Roast Beef of Old England (1748/49).