Letter: Grockle Ducts past and present

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Sir: At the end of his piece on cultural tourism ('Vanishing down a Grockle Duct', 30 June), Bryan Appleyard invokes the name of John Ruskin, who wished visitors to galleries and churches to see art in what he regarded as a proper receptive state. Works such as The Stones of Venice and Mornings in Florence encouraged this, but even in his lifetime Ruskin was starting to see that ease of travel was making enjoyable appreciation impossible, because of the influx of sheer numbers - many of them ill-informed and poorly prepared.

A special concern of his was the despoilation of Venice by tourism. He writes in A Museum or Picture Gallery (1880):

You must not . . . let in . . . the utterly squalid and ill-bred portion of the people.

He grappled with the problem of what to do about it all. His suggested solution was rationing by entrance fee, which he hoped would exclude those people who did not really want to go. The problem is not really a new one, even though it has intensified in recent years.

Yours sincerely,


Brasenose College


1 July