From Fors Clavigera
by John Ruskin

From Letter XCI, September, 1883.

Yet I will not enter here into any debate of loss by exile, and national ostracism of our strongest. I keep to the estimate only of our loss by helpless, reckless, needless death, the enduring torture at the bolted theatre door of the world, and on the staircase it has smoothed to Avernus.

‘Loss of life’! By the ship overwhelmed in the river, shattered on the sea; by the mine’s blast, the earthquake’s burial you mourn for the multitude slain. You cheer the lifeboat’s crew: you hear, with praise and joy, of the rescue of one still breathing body more at the pit’s mouth:— and all the while, for one soul that is saved from the momentary passing away (according to your creed, to be with its God), the lost souls, yet locked in their polluted flesh, haunt, with worse than ghosts, the shadows of your churches, and the corners of your streets; and your weary children watch, with no memory of Jerusalem, and no hope of return from their captivity, the weltering to the sea of your Waters of Babylon.