119: The Choice to Better

Good Folks,

One of the pleasures which has eventuated from the post I put up listing “The Ruskin Compendia” (# 115) is that I’ve discovered a few more of that varied–but often wonderful–lot! (I’ve already added these to the list of compendia in that post.) One that found its way to my hands was a second volume collated by Rose Porter. She, you’ll recall, was the editor of one of my favorite compilations, Nature Studies from Ruskin, a collection which I pull down from its contended place on a nearby shelf every spring so I can revel in her selection of Ruskin’s beautiful descriptions of the lovely natural world in which we live.

This new-found collection is much, much, much tinier than the nature collations, however. Porter has titled it, Bits of Burnished Gold. It measures about three inches by four and holds slightly more than a hundred pages, truly a pocket book before pocket books! Inside, it is just as the title describes: a compenium of “bits,” its editor’s selection of what she believed were Ruskin’s greatest wisdoms expressed in their briefest forms. I’m not usually a fan of these aphoristic editions as I’ve noted, but this one, given Porter’s love of her subject and his works, works. Typically, each page holds two “bits” taken from Ruskin’s vast oeuvre. That love is why it works. There is no question that she has read all of Ruskin–no mean task now, a much harder task then when no collections of his works existed.  She has perused his pages from first to last, and all but surely along this long reading way, she copied out the bits which moved her most.

Below is just one of her not-many-more-than-a-hundred pages, its pair of bits selected to inspire each of us to accomplish more sure good (# 116) than, perhaps, we presently do. (I haven’t yet found where these selections appear in wide Ruskin.) 

See that no day passes in which you do not make yourself a somewhat better creature. And, in order to do that, find out first what you are now… Try to get strength of heart enough to look yourself fairly in the face, in mind, as well as body.

You will find that the mere resolve not to be useless, and the honest desire to help other people, will, in the quickest and delicatest ways, improve yourself.

I’ll share more of these bits later. In the meantime, the two above are good advice enough for one day.

Until next time.

Be well out there!



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2 Responses to 119: The Choice to Better

  1. genevacitycouncil says:

    Yes! As Kant said–we have but two real duties: self-perfection and promoting the happiness of others.

    To achieve that, we must first know ourselves (how Platonic!) and then begin, through that knowledge of our own humanity, to make way for the cultivation of the humanity of others (as it is only the cultivation of humanity both in ourselves and others that could ever make one worthy of happiness).

    Thank you for the nudge to reflect on this today! Surely Porter’s love of Ruskin shines through in these selections!

    Best, JAckie

    • jimspates says:

      Thanks, Jackie, as always. We belong to a mutual inspirational society. Keep those find columns coming. More are reading and being helped by them than perhaps you know…. 🙂 Jim

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