Past wisdom - 3

Posted by Helen Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Easter week seems a good time to think about the past and the future. This blog is offering two quotations on which one can meditate. They are about a thousand years apart but both very apposite.

The first is from Archbishop Wulfstan who lived from 1009 to 1095 (not a bad span for that age and even for ours), was Bishop of Worcester and Archbishop of York. He wrote civil and ecclesiastical legal codes and a number of homilies.

His Sermo Lupi ad Anglos ("Wulf's Address to the English", c. 1014 AD) consists of ferocious denunciations of the morals of his time, so, I think, he can be counted as a conservative. Among other things he said:

“There is also a need that each should understand where he came from and what he is -- and what will become of him.”
The second quotation is from the great American conservative philosopher and columnist, Russell Kirk, who was largely responsible for the revival of consevative thought in the United States.

This is one of his “Conservative Principles”, which formed the second chapter of The Politics of Prudence:
“Third, conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription. ... Conservatives sense that modern people are dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, able to see farther than their ancestors only because of the great stature of those who have preceded us in time.”
How many of us can seriously disagree with that?


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