“That seeks within its sandy cell / The pebble bright, or purple shell” (MS IA, g.1; MS IX; Poems [1891]; Works [1903])—In the poem, prose, and drawings making up the “Calais” section of the MS IX fair copy, actual experience is reflected in the description of the childrenʼs shell‐hunting on the beach, along with their gazing across the Channel from the pier. In her journal of the tour, Mary Richardson (1815–49) recorded that, on their first day in Calais, she and John—accompanied by the cicerone, Salvador, and their nurse, Anne Strachan—“went on ramparts and all round town, then on sands where we picked up some small common shells, climbed up to pier”, and returned to tea at seven in the evening. Earlier in the day, after settling with customs, the family toured the cathedral—presumably, Église Notre‐Dame de Calais (“very beautiful but not so clean as our English churches”). Then she and John sketched the sitting room of the hotel where they stayed, which she identified, or the diaryʼs transcriber interpreted, as “Lʼhotel de Bourbon or Rossignol”, perhaps the Hotel Rignolle listed in John Murray IIIʼs 1836 guidebook (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 2; Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 85).

“Strange that a space from shore to shore / . . . / Religion Language even mind” (MS IA, g.1; MS IX; Poems [1891]; Works [1903])—While John Murray IIIʼs guidebooks, which began appearing in 1836, were not free from apodictic judgments about the superior good sense of the British, this sentiment about the wide differences between the “races” of the British and the French seems more typical of English observers arriving shortly after the victory at Waterloo than of English tourists arriving almost two decades after the reopening of the Continent (see Parsons, Worth the Detour, 184–88). For example, writing about his Continental tour of 1817, the Liverpool Congregational minister, Thomas Raffles (1788–1863), described his culture shock when coming in view of the port at Dieppe: “the land I had so ardently desired to see—the people with whom I had longed to mingle—the habits and the manners I had often contemplated at a distance, were now before me”. The first encounter shook him, as “multitudes” of women efficiently lent their arms to pull the English vessel into harbor: “Their dress—their language—their manners—their whole appearance, was quite new, and we felt in a moment that we were in a foreign land. It is scarcely conceivable that so few miles and hours should make so vast a difference in oneʼs feelings, and completely excite all that can be conveyed by the word foreigner in the bosom. It was not a little strange to hear a language which we had been accustomed to associate with every idea of polish and of elegance, chattered with amazing volubility by the motley group collected on the quay to witness our arrival”.
If the French women disconcerted Raffles, the “military men” idly “sauntering” on the quay failed to “excite a very favourable impression in my mind of the French military character or costume. Their dress was extremely mean and slovenly”, and one “looked in vain for that bold and manly air—that dignified and noble independence, which are the usual indications of bravery, and generally associated with the profession of a soldier. . . . Are these, thought I, the men that have made monarchs tremble on their thrones, and kept the world in awe—were they such men as these that bore the eagles of Napoleon to the gates of Vienna, and reaped the laurels of France on the fields of Austerlitz and Marengo”?
Finally, it was brought home to Rafflesʼs traveling party that they had arrived “in a Catholic country” by the erection “on the pier” of an “immense crucifix of wood”, on which “the image of the Saviour is as large as life, with the Virgin Mary weeping at his feet. At this image, our pilot—a hardy, muscular old man, whose robust figure and weather‐beaten countenance would form a fine subject for the pencil, crossed himself as he stood at the helm, and the vessel passed along” (Raffles, Letters, 3, 4–6).

“an introduction to France, and to the french” (MS IA, g.2; MS VIII; MS IX; Works [1903])—Ruskin adopts a picturesque view of Calais (“a little France, a miniature picture”). Similarly, in her journal of the tour, Mary Richardson framed a picturesque view: “much pleased with the appearance of Calais from the sea” (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 1). As guidebooks and travel accounts of the period shifted to more practical advice about arrival in Continental towns (see Parsons, Worth the Detour, 180–84), Calais was sized up in terms of British travelersʼ complaints about difficulties in negotiating customs and finding lodging; see, for example, Heathʼs Picturesque Annual for 1832, which warns that, in Calais, “the communication between the strangers and natives is full of strife and wrangling or silent bitterness” (Ritchie, Travelling Sketches in the North of Italy, the Tyrol, and on the Rhine, 3). Whereas Ruskinʼs account turns the abrupt transition from English character to French, separated only by the Channel crossing, into a topic for picturesque contrasts of scenery and costume, John Murray IIIʼs 1836 guidebook emphasizes the comforts of familiarity: Calais “is half Anglicised and our language is generally spoken” (Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 86). Even Mary Richardson, once landed on shore, is interested in practical business, reporting that, on arrival, “Uncle, Aunt, John and I, along with Anne [Strachan (ca. 1799–1871)] were put into a French vehicle and proceeded to the Custom House escorted by an officer”, where “[o]nly Anne was searched” along with the boxes (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 1–2). See also Tour of 1833.
Ruskinʼs picturesque commentary on Calais as a place of arrival corresponds to Samuel Rogersʼs trope of entering a foreign scene through a city gate in “The Lake of Geneva“, the poem that opens Italy. In Ruskinʼs fixation on the picturesque feature of “peculiarly french” fishing boats, there is also perhaps a reflection of the most picturesque image in Rogersʼs poem, the “passage‐boat [that] swept gaily by, / Laden with peasant‐girls and fruits and flowers, / And many a chanticleer and partlet caged / For Vevayʼs market‐place—a motley group / Seen throʼ the silvery haze”—the scene that Turner chose to depict in his vignette heading this introductory poem. Typically what is lacking from Rogersʼs influence on Ruskin, however, is the older poetʼs crowded historical references. Rogers uses the trope of the city gate to allude to the story in the Confessions (1782–89) by Jean‐Jacques Rousseau (1712–78), in which at age sixteen during his apprenticeship to a tyrannical watchmaker, Jean‐Jacques returned to Geneva from a country excursion too late to re‐enter the city gates; and in despair over the punishment his master would inflict on him for his lack of restraint and discipline, the youth determines to exile himself from his native city. Following this reference, Rogers reverses the trope to imagine youths entering Londonʼs city gates with hope—first, Thomas Chatterton (1752‐70), a youth more ill‐fated even than Rousseau; and then David Garrick (1717–79) and Samuel Johnson (1709–84), destined for fame and for neglect, respectively (Rogers, Italy (1830), 1–3; and see Rousseau, Confessions, 49 [bk. 1]).

“four hours might see you beneath them” (MS IA, g.2)—Steamers from Dover to Calais averaged, according to John Murrayʼs 1836 guidebook, two‐and‐a‐half hours for the crossing (Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 86). This was the time required for the Ruskinsʼ crossing, Mary Richardson commenting: “two hours and a half exactly in crossing and just saved the tide so that we all landed at the pier, without having recourse to small boats” (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 1). Unless a return crossing (which is what Ruskinʼs “four hours” estimates) did require a longer time, his narrator is mistaken; and in the MS IX version Ruskin substituted “half an hoursʼ” crossing—a change that did not improve on the accuracy of “four hours”, but that captured the tone he desired for his narrator.
From the Tower of London to Calais, the trip lasted twelve hours, according to Murrayʼs guidebook as well as to Mariana Starkeʼs 1833 guide (Starke, Travels in Europe, 526).