Fors Clavigera! -- to the ignorant a stumbling-stone, to the Philistines a laughing-stock, but to the Initiate a sweet remembrance of many a happy hour passed in informal chat with the Master.
The real Ruskin enthusiast has read every word of Fors, and reckons it not least among the precious treasures of the Master's pen. But it remains a fact that to the vast majority of those who have heard of Fors Clavigera, it is but an excellent example of Ruskin's eccentric seeking after curious titles; and the beauties of these letters are as effectually buried as if they had appeared in a country journal.
It is in the desire of rescuing one of the choicest bits in all Fors that the present little booklet is offered to the clients of the |Celestial Lily| as Mother Church names the noble Martyr, St. Ursula. Though, of course, a life of this royal maiden has an interest for me apart from its authorship by Ruskin.
As one dedicated to the cause for which the little Princess and her |legions| lost their lives, as one tenderly devoted to her and as privileged to be sheltered beneath her protecting mantle, I look upon this story as one of the sweetest relics of the |Age of Faith.| It makes no difference to me, as it made none to John Ruskin (and thank God there are many like him), what learned Bollandists and others tell us of the legendary character of the Princess of Over-sea. The essential thing, as Ruskin remarked, is that a great people chose so to represent their highest aspirations. It will remain eternally true, to use his words, that |we see the Saints better through a nimbus of religious enthusiasm than a fog of contemptuous rationalism.|
To all who, like Ursula, love holy living and unselfish dedication to a noble cause, greeting --
AN URSULINE OF NEW ORLEANS.