"Have you ever read Ruskin's books? If not, I would recommend you to try the second and third volumes (not parts) of his "Modern Painters." I am now reading the fourth, and have read most of his other books lately. They are singularly good and encouraging, though not without crudeness and bigotry. The themes in the volumes referred to are Infinity, Beauty, Imagination, Love of Nature, etc.,--all treated in a very living manner. I am rather surprised by them. It is remarkable that these things should be said with reference to painting chiefly, rather than literature. The "Seven Lamps of Architecture," too, is made of good stuff; but, as I remember, there is too much about art in it for me and the Hottentots. We want to know about matters and things in general. Our house is as yet a hut."
"...I had been fed, in my youth, a lot of old wives' tales about the way men would instantly forsake a beautiful woman to flock around a brilliant one. It is but fair to say that, after getting out in the world, I had never seen this happen ...."
"There is a certain standard of grace and beauty which consists in a certain relation between our nature, such as it is, weak or strong, and the thing which pleases us. Whatever is formed according to this standard pleases us, be it house, song, discourse, verse, prose, woman, birds, rivers, trees, room, dress, and so on. Whatever is not made according to this standard displeases those who have good taste."
"As we speak of poetical beauty, so ought we to speak of mathematical beauty and medical beauty. But we do not do so; and that reason is that we know well what is the object of mathematics, and that it consists in proofs, and what is the object of medicine, and that it consists in healing. But we do not know in what grace consists, which is the object of poetry."
"Does he who loves someone on account of beauty really love that person? No, for smallpox, which will kill beauty without killing the person, will cause him to love the person no more. And if one loves me for my judgment, for my memory, he does not love me, for I can lose these qualities without losing myself. Where, then, is this myself, if it be neither in the body nor in the soul?"
"Beauty, like all other qualities presented to human experience, is relative; and the definition of it becomes unmeaning and useless in proportion to its abstractness. To define beauty not in the most abstract, but in the most concrete terms possible, not to find a universal formula for it, but the formula which expresses most adequately this or that special manifestation of it, is the aim of the true student of aesthetics."
"What is important, then, is not that the critic should possess a correct abstract definition of beauty for the intellect, but a certain kind of temperament, the power of being deeply moved by the presence of beautiful objects."
"...I wasn't at all prepared for the avalanche of criticism that overwhelmed me. You would have thought I had murdered someone, andperhaps I had, but only to give her successor a chance to live. It was a very sad business indeed to be made to feel that my success depended solely, or at least in large part, on a head of hair."
"Semi-Saracenic architecture, sustaining itself as if by miracle in mid air; glittering in the red sunlight with a hundred oriels,minarets, and pinnacles; and seeming the phantom handiwork, conjointly, of the Sylphs,... the Fairies,... the Genii, and ... the Gnomes."
"There might be a class of beings, human once, but now to humanity invisible, for whose scrutiny, and for whose refined appreciation of the beautiful, more especially than for our own, had been set in order by God the great landscape-garden of the whole earth."