[The following note to Ruskin’s preface derives from the online version of the Cook and Wedderburn Library Edition (LE) created by the Ruskin Library at the University of Lancaster. In adapting that excellent edition for the Victorian Web I have changed some of the very long notes into separate linked documents, such as this one. — George P. Landow]

"The effectual discipline which is exercised over a workman is not that of his corporation, but of his customers. It is the fear of losing their employment which restrains his frauds, and corrects his negligence" (Wealth of Nations, Book I. chap. 10).

Note to Second Edition

The only addition I will make to the words of this book shall be a very earnest request to any Christian reader to think within himself what an entirely damned state of soul any human creature must have got into, who could read with acceptance such a sentence as this: much more, write it; and to oppose to it, the first commercial words of Venice, discovered by me in her first church:—

“Around this temple, let the Merchant‘s law be just, his weights true, and his contracts guileless.”

If any of my present readers think that my language in this note is either intemperate, or unbecoming, I will beg them to read with attention the Eighteenth paragraph of Sesame and Lilies [18.67-68] and to be assured that I never, myself, now use, in writing, any word which is not, in my deliberate judgment, the fittest for the occasion.


Sunday, 18th March, 1877.

[LE: The last sentence — “If any . . . occasion”—was in fact added by Ruskin in a letter to Mr. Allen, dated March 26.]

[Return to the Preface at the place to which this note was linked[.

Last modified 27 February 2019