“Omers plain” (MS IA, g.1; MS IX;Poems [1891]; Works [1903])—The town of Saint‐Omer (Ruskin misspells it as “Omar” in MS IX) was the first location of St. Omers College. Starting in the 1590s, to evade persecution, English Catholics sent their children to be educated at this Jesuit school. The school was closed by the arrêt of the Paris Parlement of 1762, the decree aimed at the expulsion of Jesuits. The scholars migrated first to Bruges, and then to Liège. The Liège Academy was disrupted by the Napoleonic Wars, and the scholars again migrated in 1794 to Stonyhurst in Lancashire, an estate donated by a former pupil as a permanent home for the school (see Chadwick, St. Omers to Stonyhurst). For the Protestant Ruskins, the former site of the school at Saint‐Omer may have borne a melodramatic association with the Gunpowder Plot, in which some of its scholars were alleged to have participated—the only information about the school mentioned by John Murray III in his 1836 guidebook to the Continent (Handbook for Travellers on the Continent, 87).


“Cassells hill” (MS IA, g.1; MS IX;Poems [1891]; Works [1903]); “this interminable hill” (MS IX; Works [1903])—From Calais, Cassel lay thirteen and three‐quarters miles, with Saint‐Omer along the way at eleven miles, according to John Murray IIIʼs guidebook to the Continent. In her journal of the tour, Mary Richardson records that, on May 16, the family set off from Calais intending to reach Lille, but arriving at Cassel “were so much pleased with the situation of the town and the hotel” (Hotel dʼAngleterre) that they stopped for the night (Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 85; Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 4).
Murray highlights Cassel as “most agreeably situated on a hill commanding a view much celebrated in France, but which, after all, will bear no comparison with that from the Malvern Hills in England. It extends over the flat and fertile plains of Flanders, and as far as the white cliffs of England into 3 kingdoms; includes 32 towns and 100 villages. Mont Cassel was one of principal bases of the great trigonometrical survey carried on during the reign of Napoleon” (Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 87). Mary Richardson comments that they “kept ascending and ascending” to reach the town, and she reports statistics about the view similar to Murrayʼs: “we had a most beautiful and extensive view all round. Upwards of 300 towns and villages, 15 fields of battle and four kingdoms, France, Belgium, Holland, and England were seen; very distant was the convent of La Trappe” (i.e., the Cistercian abbey of La Trappe in Normandy, known to the British for the austerity of the Trappist monks, which attracted the deposed and exiled King James II of England to visit the abbey late in his life) (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 3–4).


“Priestly orders wound their way” (MS IA, g.1; MS IX; Poems [1891]; Works [1903])—According to Mary Richardson, on Thursday, May 16, in Cassel, the Ruskins witnessed a celebration of Ascension Day: “we saw a procession pass which consisted of many images of the Virgin and Saviour, supported and followed by most of the town people”, the procession starting “from the church” and winding “all round the town to the church again. Just before it passed many people came out of houses carrying large bundles of grass (dʼherbes) which they strewed on the road for the procession to walk on”. The family watched the spectacle from inside the hotel, Mary admitting that the procession was the “first thing of the kind I had ever seen”. Emerging after the procession had passed, they found the “people on their knees” and “muttering prayers which we neither understood nor heard” (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 3–4).
In 1833, Ascension Day did indeed fall on May 16; however, some details in Ruskinʼs poem, along with his drawing, suggest that he may have conflated the Cassel celebration with a procession of Corpus Christi (or copied an illustration from a printed source), which is held sixty days after Easter (June 6 in 1833) to commemorate the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The canopy, which Ruskin mentions in his poem and shows in his tailpiece drawing, shelters the sacrament carried in a monstrance by a priest and his attendants. In 1833, Frances Trollope described such a procession in Ostend: “I rejoiced to find myself, on the 9th of June, in so very Catholic a country; for the ceremonies by which the Fête‐Dieu was celebrated were really splendid, considering the size of the town. The streets were lined with double rows of young straight‐grown fir‐trees; every house being charged with the expense of purchasing such, and having them stuck in for the occasion. In the open places of the city, groups of these same slender trees supported wreaths and garlands of flowers, under which the host was carried in a splendid ark. The Curé, who bore this in his hands, was himself superbly dressed; and at each corner of the canopy, borne above his head, walked a child of four or five years old, in fancy costume, that looked as if it had been arranged by a ballet‐master. Three of them had wings; and the fourth, dressed as an infant St. John, would have been a beautiful model for a painter. The procession consisted of all the military in the garrison, a numerous cortège of priests, with their attendants, and the various associated companies of the town. But by far the prettiest part of the spectacle consisted of the double row of little girls, elegantly dressed in white, their heads adorned with wreaths of roses, and long white veils. Above two hundred of these pretty creatures, looking all smiles and gladness, followed the host; and when the procession paused, while the awful symbol was laid on the altar of the different reposoirs prepared to receive it, they, as well as the assembled multitude who followed them, prostrated themselves upon the ground before it. The children all visited the Curé in his sacristy as soon as the ceremony was over, and each received from him a little cornet of bonbons” (Trollope,Belgium and Western Germany in 1833, 1:14–16). On 6 June 1833, the Ruskins were in Karlsruhe, where Mary found the “churches too like a theater”, and they traveled onward to Baden‐Baden, where a fête was in progress (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 32–33).


“No marvel . . . bowl” (MS IA, g.1; MS IX; Works [1903])—Lines 35–38, the final two couplets of the poem, were omitted without comment in Poems (1891). In the Library Edition (1903), the editors restored the lines, noting: “These four lines of ‘rabid Protestantism’ (Seven Lamps, 1880, Pref.) were omitted in the ed. of 1891” (Ruskin, Works, 2:343 n. 1). The editors referred to Ruskinʼs 1880 preface to the third edition of The Seven Lamps of Architecture, in which he says he “cut out from text and appendix alike” instances of “rabid and utterly false Protestantism” (Ruskin, Works, 8:15).


“celebrated for gesticulation, celebrated with Cervantes” (MS IX; Works [1903])—Don Quixoteʼs adventure of tilting at windmills in part 1 (1605) of Miguel de Cervantesʼs romance. As remarked by the editors of the Library Edition (1903), Don Quixote was a favorite book of John James Ruskinʼs to read aloud to the family (Ruskin, Works, 2:343 n. 3, 35:61; and see Burd, ed., The Ruskin Family Letters, 1:168 n. 1). In later years, as catalogued in Dearden, Library of John Ruskin, no. 469, Ruskin owned an 1822 five‐volume edition published in Edinburgh (see Ruskin, Works, 27:545). While Dearden lists a different publisher, this version is likely the 1822 edition published by Constable and edited by John Gibson Lockhart (1794–1854), who added notes and a biographical essay on Cervantes to the translation by Peter Anthony Motteux (1663–1718), which first appeared in 1700–1703.