Edward Andrews (1787–1841)
Andrews was a popular Dissenting (Congregationalist) clergyman, whose preaching the Ruskins attended starting circa 1826, and who tutored Ruskin in classical languages starting in 1829 until circa 1833–34.
In a biography of Andrewsʼs daughter, Emily (1824–62)—who married Coventry Patmore (1823–96), and who modeled the archetypal domestic virtues of the Victorian wife and mother for Patmoreʼs poem, The Angel in the House (1854–62)—Ian Anstruther presents the Reverend Andrews as combining evangelical seriousness with a robust appreciation of the arts. Descended from a learned and sophisticated Essex family, he followed his father and grandfather into the Nonconformist clergy, studying at Hoxton Theological College, and then at Glasgow University (the latter a Scottish connection that perhaps recommended him to the Ruskinsʼ favor) (Coventry Patmoreʼs Angel, 9, 12). According to Edwin Paxton Hood (1820–85), a Congregational minister and a prolific writer about the preaching of his time, Andrews maintained that “God . . . should be worshipped with the best of everything . . . best architecture, best painting, best music, best sculpture, best poetry, and best genius” (Hood, Vocation of the Preacher, 209).
Andrews entered the Congregationalist Hoxton Academy in 1808. Founded in 1778, Hoxton was at this time a growing and important academy, accommodating thirty to forty students in residence (Glen, “Launching a Clerical Career in Late Georgian England, 645). The principal, a Scottish divine, Robert Simpson (1746–1817), did not have the reputation of a scholar, and candidates were chosen primarily for their “good natural abilities,” zeal, and commitment to evangelical doctrine (Nuttall, “Training for Hoxton and Highbury”, 477; Glen, “Launching a Clerical Career in Late Georgian England”, 643–44). Nonetheless, by the time of Andrewsʼs matriculation, the Academy was observing higher standards of learning, including securing scholarships to Glasgow University. An 1810 syllabus shows that available studies included the following subjects, divided among three tutors: “Hebrew and biblical criticism, Jewish antiquities, evidences of divine revelation, systematic divinity, ecclesiastical history, and its connexion with profane [especially Roman] history; . . . English grammar, geography, Latin (including prose composition) and Greek; . . . pneumatology, logic, and belles lettres, with special regard to pulpit composition and elocution”. Students who, like Andrews, proceeded to Glasgow University fell under the supervision of Greville Ewing (1767–1841), a Congregational minister and a tutor at the Glasgow Theological Academy (Thompson, “Hoxton [Independent] Academy (1791–1826) and Highbury College (1826–1850)”).
The Ruskins began hearing Andrews preach in the parish of Walworth, which was a village lying only a few miles south of London Bridge. Like Camberwell, a little farther to the south where the Ruskins lived, Walworth was a rapidly growing suburb but still on the edge of the open country and woods around Norwood and Dulwich. The Andrewsesʼ household resembled the Ruskinsʼ with its growing collection of pictures on the walls, a substantial library on the shelves, and gardens outside, but it would have been a much busier and noisier place than Herne Hill. By the beginning of 1831, the manse had seventeen inhabitants, including Andrews and his wife, Elizabeth (née Elizabeth Honor Symons), who was learned and fond of music like her husband; twelve children (by June 1831, two would die in infancy); three servants; and a few penurious clergymen dependent on the Andrews familyʼs charity. In addition, a constant flow of visitors was drawn to the house by the familyʼs sociability and parish responsibilities (Coventry Patmoreʼs Angel, 13, 19).
Andrews officiated in his own chapel in Walworth, Beresford Street Chapel, which adjoined his house. He was at first a candidate for Camden Chapel in Camberwell, where he stirred such excitement that the congregation demanded him for their pastor. Blocked by their trustees, some members of the congregation broke away and built the Walworth Chapel for him, financed to some extent by Andrewsʼs wealthy father‐in‐law (Cleal, The Story of Congregationalism in Surrey, 105; Coventry Patmoreʼs Angel, 13). Such generous arrangements were not unheard‐of among the most popular preachers—especially those whose congregations included wealthy members—the largest of such complexes being Surrey Chapel, built to accommodate audiences of 3,000 for the preaching of Rowland Hill (1744–1833) in Blackfriars, London (Glen, “Launching a Clerical Career in Late Georgian England”, 649; Munden, “Hill, Rowland (1744–1833)”). The crowds pressing to hear Andrews soon grew too large for the Beresford Street Chapel, and Andrews decided to finance an expansion with the aid of a new mortgage, which ultimately proved a ruinous encumberment (Cleal, The Story of Congregationalism in Surrey, 105). In his glory days, Andrews attracted crowds larger than could gain seating even in the expanded structure accommodating 1,600 seats (Coventry Patmoreʼs Angel, 22–23).
In Praeterita, Ruskin remembered the chapel as an example of “the Londonian chapel in its perfect type, definable as accurately as a Roman basilica,—an oblong, flat‐ceiled barn, lighted by windows with semi‐circular heads, brick‐arched, filled by small‐paned glass held by iron bars, like fine threaded halves of cobwebs; galleries propped on iron pipes, up both side; pews, well shut in, each of them, by partitions of plain deal, and neatly brass‐latched deal doors, filling the barn floor, all but its two lateral straw‐matted passages; pulpit, sublimely isolated, central from sides and clear of altar rails at end; a stout, four‐legged box of well‐grained wainscot, high as the level of front galleries, and decorated with a cushion of crimson velvet, padded six inches thick, with gold tassels at the corners, which was a great resource to me when I was tired of the sermon, because I liked watching the rich colour of the folds and creases that came in it when the clergyman thumped it”. Like his representation in the autobiography of the toyless austerity of his boyhood, Ruskin exaggerated this description, here in order to make the point that his “well‐formed habit [in youth] of narrowing myself to happiness within . . . four brick walls” supported his “acute perception and deep feeling of the beauty of architecture and scenery abroad” (Ruskin, Works, 35:132); and see Hanson, “Ruskinʼs Praeterita and Landscape in Evangelical Childrenʼs Education”, 45–52). While an 1824 watercolor of the exterior of Beresford Chapel by John Hassell (1767–1825), and a comic sketch of the interior of this “dreary Bethal” by Edward Burne‐Jones, suggest that Ruskinʼs prose picture captures accurately enough the “perfect type” of the late‐Georgian meeting house, Hood remembered that the buildingʼs unusually rich adornments “gave you certainly no idea of the dissenting conventicle”. There were “stained glass, and the Aaronic and Mosaic figures, the Baptist and St. Paul in carving—the rich, loud organ, and the altar‐piece”—the grander fittings perhaps features of the heavily mortgaged expansion, and “far beyond what was usual in Nonconformist buildings of that period” (G. Burne‐Jones, Memorials of Edward Burne‐Jones, 1:41–42; Hood, Vocation of the Preacher, 209; Cleal, The Story of Congregationalism in Surrey, 105).
The organ, which members of the Andrews family played, was a particularly vital resource for recitalists contributing musical culture in the locale. Andrews himself was proficient on several instruments, and his accomplishments extended to other arts, as well (Coventry Patmoreʼs Angel, 18). He had some success as a sacred dramatist, with titles including The Vineyard of Naboth: A Dramatic Fragment (“translated from the original Hebrew”), which was printed in 1825. Another title, Sampson, Hood effuses, might have been penned by Coleridge (Vocation of the Preacher, 212, 231). Of Andrewsʼs varied pursuits—many of which were self‐financed, like his chapel—a crucial one for Ruskin was the role of editor. As proprietor and editor of the Spiritual Times, Andrews gained the distinction of serving as Ruskinʼs first editor and publisher, by printing versions of the youthʼs poem, “On Skiddaw and Derwentwater” in August 1829 and Februrary 1830. The magazine also published poetry by Andrewsʼs own children.
In preaching, the method recommended by Andrewsʼs principal at Hoxton, Robert Simpson , was to commit written sermons to memory in order to enjoy more “liberty in the pulpit”, and thereby cultivate the “new style” of sermonizing by evangelical Dissenters , which pursued passion and drama and at least the impression of extempore inspiration (Glen, “Launching a Clerical Career in Late Georgian England”, 648). This method seems to account for Hoodʼs anecdotes about Andrewsʼs “eccentricities”, such as his pausing in the middle of a sermon, confessing that “‘as I came up those pulpit stairs, I had all the parts of this sermon well written on my mind’”, but that now he could not remember the third head; and so he commanded the organist to “‘strike up a symphony’” while the remainder came back to him. His “luxuriant fancy” seemed all the more glorious “because apparently so unpremeditated” (Vocation of the Preacher, 210–13). The earliest reference to Andrewsʼs preaching in a Ruskin family letter—the “best sermon from Dr. Andrews”, Margaret declared, that she “ever heard him preach”, which occurred on 15 May 1826—indicates that the elder Ruskins were by that time already dazzled (Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 146). John grew old enough to pay attention to the sermons in 1829, shortly before his tenth birthday: “I always liked him”, he explained to a family friend, “but of late I began to attend to his sermons and write them in a book at home” (Letter to Mrs. Monro). These sermon abstracts, as well as venturing forth into the streets “in a hunt after Dr Andrews” in order to put himself in the way of the dashing preacher, were usually carried out in conspiracy with Ruskinʼs older cousin, Mary Richardson (1815–49) (Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 173; and see MS II).
Within four months of declaring this infatuation to Mrs. Monro, Ruskin entered “a most important aera of my life . . . the coming of [Dr. Andrews as his] . . . tutor for the first time”—an event that he dated three weeks prior to his writing this, Ruskin said, which would have been about 20 April 1829 (Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 200). Andrews, who came to Herne Hill to give lessons on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (Letter to Mrs. Monro), tutored John in classics, the boy having started learning rudimentary Latin probably in 1826 or 1827 under his parentsʼ supervision (see Latin Exercises). Andrews was thus the first outsider to take over Ruskinʼs parentsʼ role of teaching, causing Margaret to retreat to another room in the small Herne Hill household, although she eventually took an active share in Johnʼs Hebrew lessons (Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 208, 227, 229 n. 2).
Judgments vary about the scope of Andrewsʼs abilities as a linguist and classicist. Two late‐century reports are at odds, one pronouncing him “one of the first Greek scholars of the day, . . . said to have derived an income of £1,000 a year from teaching the sons of nobility” (Cleal, The Story of Congregationalism in Surrey, 105), and the other, Ruskinʼs own account in Praeterita, dismissing the clergmanʼs command of “little more of Greek than the letters, and declensions of nouns”, although “he wrote the letters prettily, and had an accurate and sensitive ear for rhythm” (Ruskin, Works, 35:74). Whatever his qualifications for meeting the boyʼs admittedly basic needs, Andrewsʼs most persuasive talent in the youthful Ruskinʼs estimation was that he was fun. Ruskin reported that “makes me laugh almost but not quite to use one of his own expressions . . . he is so funny comparing Neptunes lifting up the wrecked ships of eenaes with his trident to my lifting up a potato with a fork or taking a piece of bread out of a bowl of milk with a spoon” (Letter to Mrs. Monro). He was also gentle and kind with children, servants, and pets: “What a nice face he has”, John decided; “I do think to use one of his own expressions he looks best when he frowns next when he laughs and next when he neither frowns nor laughs Every thing he does is nice” (Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 200). When John and Mary first accosted him in his career through the lanes of Walworth, he was arrested by the curtsy of the Ruskinsʼ nurse, Ann Strachan, and he ended this first interview with a pat for the family dog, Gipsey. When he preached on “The Religious and Moral Duty of Man in the Dumb Creation”, Beresford Chapel was swamped by members of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Ruskin Family Letters, 203, 204 n. 1).
In his innocence, Andrews was unprepared to cope with increasing family and financial troubles. Following her twelfth child, Elizabeth grew ill. Long weakened by consumption, she would die in April 1831, followed shortly her two youngest infants (Anstruther, Coventry Patmoreʼs Angel, 19). In March 1831, as these calamities approached Andrews paid an unseemly morning visit to Margaret Ruskin, to unload “a long account of [his wifeʼs] complaints in the hope“, Margaret felt certain, “that I should say there was no chance of her living long”, for despite such an “imprudent” confession to a parishioner whom he had known “so short a time”, Andrews could not prevent himself from “enlarg[ing] much on the torment she had been to him for these last ten years”, making him endure “caprice, jealousy, unreasonableness and violence” that “has marred his respectability and fortune and prevented his filling that place in society his talents entitle him to” (Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 242–43). Margaretʼs account incidentally suggests that Elizabethʼs real offense may have been that she was an intellectual and talented woman who had earned censure for failing to observe the boundaries that Ruskin would later define for “queens”, in his 1864 lecture, “Of Queensʼ Gardens”. Womenʼs education, Ruskin would opine, should be “nearly, in its course and material of study, the same as a boyʼs; but quite differently directed”, in order to “sympathize in her husbandʼs pleasures, and in those of his best friends”. Elizabeth was condemned of lacking sympathetic supportiveness, since her perceived mania, whatever it was, had damaged her husbandʼs “respectability and fortune and prevented his filling that place in society his talents entitle him to”. Regardless of whether Andrewsʼs studies qualified as the maleʼs “foundational and progressive” labor that Ruskin would pronounce deserving of female sympathy, no one evidently thought to ask whether this womanʼs studies might have been even more so (Sesame and Lilies, in Ruskin, Works, 18:128).
Margaret, at least, pointed out that Edward Andrews owed his share of blame for his wifeʼs condition, since “to any woman with so numerous a family [he must] have caused much serious and distressing apprehension”, given his “flighty . . . habits and manner of conducting his secular affairs, though with the best and kindest intentions”. In criticizing his flightiness, Margaret perhaps referred to Andrewsʼs extravagance in bearing children no less than in cultivating the arts and expensive tastes, the Ruskins having obviously demonstrated greater self‐government in childbearing, much less any proneness to “unwise indulgence of . . . caprice” in women (Ruskin Family Letters, 243). After Elizabethʼs death in 1831, the Andrews family fortunes declined, and the mortgage was called in on the chapel. Andrews continued to tutor Ruskin, apparently to everyoneʼs satisfaction, until 1833 or 1834, when the youthʼs preparation for university was taken over by the Reverend Thomas Dale (1797–1870) (Ruskin Family Letters, 200 n. 4, 257, 262, 273, 275, and see 366).
Andrews died in 1841, leaving his family destitute, and forcing the two eldest sons to emigrate in search of better fortune in Australia, while the rest of the family gathered for protection around their eldest sister, Eliza, who had married well (Anstruther, Coventry Patmoreʼs Angel, 22–23). A half century later, Eliza, now well known as a lawyer and social reformer, would open her memories to W. Robertson Nicoll, enabling him to track down Ruskinʼs first publication, “On Skiddaw and Derwentwater”, in her fatherʼs magazine, the Spiritual Times.