27 December 2011

The Slime of Avernus

And indeed, it is only through evil conduct, wilfully persisted in, that there is any embarrassment, either in the theory or working of currency. No exchequer is ever embarrassed, nor is any financial question difficult of solution, when people keep their practice honest, and their heads cool. But when governments lose all office of pilotage, protection, or scrutiny; and live only in magnificence of authorized larceny, and polished mendacity; or when the people choosing Speculation (the s usually redundant in spelling) instead of Toil, visit no dishonesty with chastisement, that each may with impunity take his dishonest turn; -- there are no tricks of financial terminology that will save them; all signature and mintage do but magnify the ruin they retard; and even the riches that remain, stagnant or current, change only from the slime of Avernus to the sand of Phlegethon.

John Ruskin, Munera Pulveris (New York: John B. Alden, 1885), p. 65.