In "Traffic" Ruskin is speaking to an audience at the Town Hall in Bradford and lecturing them on life and what is important and what is not. For most of this lecture, Ruskin is attacking the audience telling them they do not know what taste is and they have not learned how to appreciate the mortal life they are living. Ruskin makes this point by giving examples to the audience of how each nation has found its own place in the world through art:

Believe me, without farther instance, I could show you, in all time, that every nation's vice, or virtue, was written in its art: the soldiership of early Greece; the sensuality of late Italy; the visionary religion of Tuscany; the splendid human energy of Venice. I have no time to do this to-night (I have done it elsewhere before now); but I proceed to apply the principle to ourselves in a more searching manner.


1. Does Ruskin use art in this lecture to attack the people he is speaking to, or, does he use art as a tool so that the people he is speaking to can relate to his words?

2. Does Ruskin feel that the people he is speaking to do not have a sense of the realness of the world? Does he want them to look more into the architecture and paintings around them in order to understand the real world and the beauty it possesses?

Victorian Overview John Ruskin Leading Questions

Last modified 3 April 2003