Date of Award

Summer 1948

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Just as a teacher's worth is measured, not by her daily routine of class work, but in after-years, by the results of her influence on her pupils; so also have John Ruskin's social teachings proven their worth by their powerful influence on the world today. In nearly every quarter of the globe, Ruskin is acclaimed a mighty seer and a prophet of social reform. The wisdom of his words shines with increasing brightness through the clouds of disorder which hover over the social and economic affairs of the world. Yet Ruskin was vigorously denounced by nineteenth century political economists and progressives; to them he was merely a visionary, an impractical idealist. In spite of criticism, protests, and ridicule, his voice of beauty cried out in a wilderness of ugly industrialism and false political economy. He sacrificed time, wealth, and a major part of his literary energies in an effort to teach England the way to beauty and the dignity of man; and he died with scarcely a glimpse at his cherished goal. His protests, however, have not been without effect, "for the infinitely better conditions of industry and political economy today are to a large extent due to him and to those who his many treatises on political and social economy, notably Munera Pulveris and Unto This Last, find their parallels in the social traditions of the Catholic Church. To trace these parallels through all of Ruskin's social reform, although interesting, is a vast and comprehensive project. I have, therefore, limited this study to Ruskin's Gospel of Work and Wages, intending to show that in many aspects, Ruskin's doctrine is identical with the mind of the Church, and, coming thirty years prior to the first great labor encyclical, forms a sort of prelude to the mighty Catholic proclamations of social justice.