Friday, June 11, 2010

John Ruskin on this modern age

From his Fors Clavigera, Letter V (with thanks to the Laudator)

That telegraphic signalling was a discovery ; and conceivably, some day, may be a useful one. And there was some excuse for your being a little proud when, about last sixth of April (Coeur de Lion's death-day, and Albert Durer's), you knotted a copper wire all the way to Bombay, and flashed a message along it, and back. But what was the message, and what the answer? Is India the better for what you said to her? Are you the better for what she replied? If not, you have only wasted an all-round-the-world's length of copper wire, - which is, indeed, about the sum of your doing. If you had had, perchance, two words of common sense to say, though you had taken wearisome time and trouble to send them ; - though you had written them slowly in gold, and sealed them with a hundred seals, and sent a squadron of ships of the line to carry the scroll, and the squadron had fought its way round the Cape of Good Hope, through a year of storms, with loss of all its ships but one, - the two words of common sense would have been worth the carriage, and more. But you have not anything like so much as that, to say, either to India, or to any other place.

No comments:

Post a Comment