How does "you" involve the audience, and how does Ruskin place contemporary events, in the manner of the Old Testament prophet, within a universal setting? Why does Ruskin call the people whose ideas he attacks "my good friends"?
You will tell me I need not preach against these things, for I cannot mend them. No, good friends, I cannot; but you can, and you will; or something else can and will. Even good things have no abiding power-and shall these evil things persist in victorious evil? All history shows, on the contrary, that to be the exact thing they never can do. Change must come; but it is ours to determine whether change of growth; or change of death. Shall the Parthenon be in ruins on its rock, and Bolton priory in its meadow, but these mills of yours be the consummation of the buildings of the earth, and their wheels be as the wheels of eternity? Think you that 'men may come, and men may go,' but-mills-go on for ever? Not so; out of these, better or worse shall come; and it is for you to choose which.
- The Ending of John Ruskin's "Traffic" in The Crown of Wild Olive
- Ruskin's combination of satiric definition and symbolical grotesques
- Ruskin as Victorian Sage: The Example of "Traffic"
Last modified 1988