Civilisation
By Kenneth Clark
Chapter 1 — The Skin Of Our Teeth— (2nd Paragraph)
Published by the British Broadcasting Corporation, Tenth Impression 1977

What is civilisation? I don't know. I can't define it in abstract terms — yet. But I think I can recognise it when I see it; and I am looking at it now. Ruskin said:

'Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts, the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. Not one of these can be understood unless we read the two others, but of the three the only trustworthy one is the last.'

On the whole I think this is true. Writers and politicians may come out with all sorts of edifying sentiments, but they are what is known as declarations of intent. If I had to say which was telling the truth about society, a speech by a Minister of Housing or the actual buildings put up in his time, I should believe the buildings.