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Big bad John

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I fret for my old hero John Ruskin, on discovering this reminiscence about him: 'We had a conversation about Quakers, and I remarked how feeble was their theology and how great their social influence. As theologians, they have merely insisted on one or two points of Christian doctrine; but what good work they have achieved socially! Why, they have reformed prisons, they have abolished slavery, and denounced war.' To which Ruskin replied: 'I am really sorry, but I am afraid I don't think that prisons ought to have been reformed, I don't think slavery ought to have been abolished, and I don't think war ought to be denounced.' The fact that he was talking to that Liberal trouble-maker and erstwhile slave- owner, W E Gladstone, may have led to a certain lack of temperance,I suppose.

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