Philobiblon: Retiring to a hermitage ...

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Retiring to a hermitage ...

...that's what I feel like doing this morning. It looked so positive early on last night, but I woke with a feeling of dread this morning, and when I worked up the courage to switch on the radio that was confirmed. How can the human race, en masse, be so blind, so stupid, so gullible?
Last night I was reading Barbara Tuchman, who was quoting "President Eliot of Harvard in 1896". She says:
"I was writing about the founding tradition of the United States as an anti-militarist, anti-imperialist nation, secure within its own shores, having nothing to do with the wicked armaments and standing armies of Europe, setting an example of unarmed strength and righteousness. ... I found in a newspaper report these words of Eliot, which I have not seen quoted by anyone else: 'The building of a navy,' he said, 'and the presence of a large standing army mean ... the abandonment of what is characteristically American ... The building of a navy and particularly of battleships, is English and French policy. It should never be ours.'"(p.35)
(Congress, however, had authorised the building of the first three American battleships in 1890.)

From B.W. Tuchman, Practicing History: Selected Essays, Alfred A Knopf, New York, 1981. Ironically enough my recently purchased abebooks copy is ex-Dallas Public Library. Perhaps they should have kept it.


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