We had been expecting his release from the frail body of this death any time in the past three or four years.  The Master whose fire and fervor and restless energy of brain and tireless hand had done the work of three men for St. George and Merrie England, had been all this while sitting at Brantwood, as it were, with folded hands, waiting, with calm serenity, for his angel friend.  And very kindly and with tenderness of approach had Death at last come. (p. 511)

A little touch of feverish cold, a retiring to his bed for a single day, and then a sinking into that “golden slumber” spoken of in the song whose music last fell upon his willing ears; and so his eyes, with their memory of St. Gothard, as Turner saw it, still undimmed, closed, and he went beyond the pass that is so cold, and sometimes so full of storm and pain, into the land of life and peace and endless spring. (p. 511)

Almost it would seem as if the heavens built their gates of gold and opened doors of glory for his bright spirit’s welcoming.  The day had been a day of cloud and storm.  The hills, purple black, had stood in gloom above a leaden lake, when, on Friday, January 19, the call came.  Ruskin sank to rest, and sudden radiance seemed showered out of heaven.  A great light lay upon the water-flood, cloud-bastions of fire reared themselves above the hills, and such splendor fell on Coniston and Wetherlam and the russet crags of Tilberthwaite and Yewdale that the shepherd stared and the yeoman wondered, and the mourners took it for a sign.  On Saturday, the 20th of January, within a few weeks of fulfilling the eighty-first year—for John Ruskin was born on the 8th of February, 1819—the laborious life of art criticism, of thought for the helping of the world, of high ideals, of noble philosophy, of impassioned utterance, of continual benevolence, was laid down without a sigh. (pp. 511-12)

The funeral was fixed for the following Thursday.  Westminster opened its portals to receive him, but Mrs. Arthur Severn was firm; she knew her cousin’s wish, and she respected it.  Writing to me after the funeral, she said: “I knew he deserved to rest in the Abbey, but my conscience does not reproach me for letting him rest in the shadow of the mountains he daily delighted to look upon; and he hated towns!” (p. 512)

Those who gazed upon him in his last sleep spoke of the gentleness of the face, and of the yellow-whiteness of his hair, like snow washed with gold.  I could not reach Coniston in time to see it, for we were busy at Keswick preparing a pall to be laid upon the coffin.  It was just such a pall as we knew he would have wished for.  He much disliked the gloom of ordinary funeral trappings.  He had his own mother’s coffin painted sky-blue, in protest against prevailing custom, when, in the quiet Shirley churchyard, he laid to earth “the dearest earth” he knew.  So we designed a pall of simple unbleached linen, spun by hand and woven by hand under the eyes of a true disciple of the Master, who had been the first for his sake to revive spinning as a home industry in the dales.  We had that pall lined with the richest, rosiest silk we could obtain, and on the surface of the pall were sprinkled by swift embroiderers the wild rose—his favorite flower—in bud, full bloom, or in shredded petal.  At the center was embroidered a fair wreath of these same flowers of St. George.  Within the wild-rose wreath were written, by craft of the needle, the words “Unto the last,” and beneath, bordered with gold thread, the initials J. R.  It was fitting that this offering should come from members of the Keswick School of Industrial Arts and the Ruskin Linen Industry.  These simple experiments of how to bring together joy and beauty in labor of the hands had been inspired by Ruskin’s teaching and carried on in the Master’s spirit. (p. 512)….

There were many beautiful wreaths with tender inscriptions, but my eye fell on one which seemed to have character and originality about it: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.”  It was a gift from the village tailor, and was meant in all deep earnestness to express the thought uppermost in the heart of a true disciple.  It may have seemed at first sight to lack a little of the sense of humor, but, in all seriousness, the tailor was right; if ever man had been a voice crying in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord,” that man had been John Ruskin. (p. 517)

The service was simple and impressive.  The special hymn I had written in loving memory of one to whom I owe so much was taken up with heart.  Miss Wakefield, an old friend of the Professor, sang the song, “Comes at time a stillness as of even,” and sang it with all her soul.  And one of Ruskin’s friends, son of the painter Richmond, read very impressively the lesson.  Then the pall-bearers advanced, took the pall from the altar where it had been temporarily placed in order that all the congregation might see the Master’s simple coffin, and, replacing the wreath of the Princess and the painter, they followed the coffin swathed in its rose embroidery away into the gray light of the solemn afternoon.  Away through the gusts and the slight rain-sprinkle to the corner of the churchyard they went, bearing the dead Master to where his friends for so many years, the ladies of the Thwaite, the Misses Beever, were laid before him.  When I last saw the coffin in its white-lined cell, it was covered with the rose-red silk of the underlining of the pall.  It seemed to me as if all Oxford had shed its masters’ hoods upon him in token of honor, as there he lay in his last resting-place. (p. 517)

As I turned away from the grave, I noted that all round about his rest were growing pines and deodars, and I remember how he had written that “the first thing as an event in his life” that he remembered was “the being taken by his nurse to the brow of Friar’s Crag on Derwentwater,” and how he had left it on record that the mossy roots of the Scotch firs that clasp that crag with their crooked hands had given him “intense joy, mingled with awe,” that had associated itself in his mind with all twining roots of trees ever since. (p. 517)

He was now laid at the foot of the pine-trees he had so loved and honored in his life by his close observation and marvellous description.  It seemed fitting that the roots of such trees should weave themselves about his sleep, and take his dust to their tender keeping. (p. 517)

(Outlook, 64 (3 March 1900), 511-17)