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♦ — THE DEATH ROLL. RUSKIN, BLACKMORE, STEEVENS, TECK. To-day the casualty list is not to be found in any telegram from the front but in our own home records. The Duke of Teck, Mr Ruskin, Mr Black. more, and Mr Steevens are all dead. It is a curious association of names, but, in their very varied ways, all have this in common, that they were well known to great masses of their fellow countrymen. The Duke of Teck had lived long enough amongst us for us to reckon him as one of ourselves, and his daughter was universally acclaimed as a distinc- tively English Princess when she became the wife of our future King. At the present moment there are sons of the Duke's at the front in South Africa, following the example of active service set them by their father. Mr Blaekmore was a writer of novels for other people's amusement and a market- gardener for his own. For the past few years, perhaps, he has not written anything that has taken the public fancy much, but he has had an enduring source of popularity as the author of "Lorna Dcone. The book was intended to be a story, not a text book, and we shall remember with gratitude the creator of John Ridd and many another delightful creature of fiction. Mr Blackmore dies at a ripe 011. age; Mr SteevtJns falls a victim to typhoid in a besieged town, at the early age of thirty. Yeti even so, he was known to the man in the street as hardly any writer of the time. Mr Kipling is a popular poet but we doubt if he had as many readers as Mr Steevens, whose articles in the Mail were followed with extraordinary interest by the readers of that paper. Nor was that wonderful, for the articles were extremely vivid, and Mr Steevens had a wonderful knack of seizing the point of interest and of making it clear in a few living sentences. By his death journalism certainly loses one of the most brilliant and talented of its more recent recruits. We have left Mr Ruskin to the last for obvious reasons. It is not merely that he is head and shoulders above the others, but that with him goes another of the few remaining of our really great men. It is true that the latter years of his life have been lived in retirement, but whilst he lived he could hardly be classed as a writer of the past, even though for a good many years his pen has been put aside. The man in the street may know everything there is to be known about South Africa, but his idea of Mr Ruskin very often is that he was an angry old gentleman who objected to railways and smoke from factories, and said so. That he did so is undoubted, but this was only the fringe of his philosophy. His great task eonsisted in insisting on certain artistic truths at a time when taste in this country was deplorably at fault. In that task he succeeded, and it is not to the point that his artistic criticisms and theories cannot now be all accepted without reservation. He had to achieve a certain end, and as is always the case with advocates he had to use exaggeration, where judicial impartiality would have failed. In all sorts of ways he not only left the world a better place than he found it, but a better place because he had lived in it. His books are an enduring monument of his genius, a source of inspiration and refresh- ment in an age when there are none too many to protest against the material and the sordid in life. There is much in his writing that cannot now be accepted as sound, whether it be his political econ- omy or his art; but his English is a precious heri- tage, and his teaching is always on a high plane. No one could be a worse man if he were a convinced Ruskinian, even though he might possibly be wrong- headed on a good many points. The Queen has been fortunate in the great names which will apear in the literary record o2 her reign, in inone more fortunate than in the name of John Ruskin.