Cornhill Magazine,  2 (1860), 155–66.

"Unto This Last". I.—The Roots of Honour  [1/4]

J R, pseud.  [John Ruskin]


Essay, Polemic, Serial


Political Economy, Analogy, Gas Chemistry, Experiment, Human Species, Machinery, Soul, Medical Practitioners, Humanism, Experiment

    Denouncing the 'modern soi-disant science of political economy', Ruskin compares it to a series of 'learned experiments upon pure nitrogen' that establish the laws of this 'very manageable gas' but fail to recognise that 'the thing which we have practically to deal with is its chloride' (155). Political economy considers man to be 'an engine of which the motive power [is] steam, magnetism, gravitation, or any other agent of calculable force' (157), but he is 'on the contrary, an engine whose motive power is a Soul' (157–58), and his 'proper fuel' is the 'affections'. This 'unknown quantity' will always falsify the empirical calculations of the political economists. (158) While physicians warrant their incomes according to the principle of the 'presumed difficulty of the work, or number of candidates for the office' (160), the actual 'ground of the honour we render' them is their disinterestedness and concern for humanity. Ruskin asserts of medical practitioners, 'Whatever his science, we should shrink from him in horror if we found him regard his patients merely as subjects to experiment upon'. (163)


Ruskin 1862

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