Books Past and Present Which We Feel Are Worthy of Attention - EC240

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Books Past and Present Which We Feel Are Worthy of Attention
Course: Course - Easy Chair Series
Subject: Subject:Conversations and Sermons
Lesson#: 20
Length: 0:53:11
TapeCode: ec240
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Easy Chair Series.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


This is R. J. Rushdoony, Easy Chair number 240, April the second, 1991.

Otto Scott and I are now going to discuss some books, past and present, which we feel are worthy of attention. I am going to start off with two books. The first, Herbert L. Sussman, S U S S M A N, Victorians and the Machine: Literary response to Technology, published by Harvard in 1968. The other on a related subject is Humphrey Jennings, Pandemonium: The Coming of the Machine as Seen by Contemporary Observes, 1660-1886, published by the Free Press, a division of Macmillan in 1985.

The book Pandemonium is a collection of writings by Humphrey Jennings, an Englishman who died fairly young. He was a product of the best universities with associations in the best circles, involved in a variety of things including film and television who felt that art and industrialism were irreconcilable enemies. And, as a result, for him, the world was divided into two groups, two kinds of beliefs, Animism and Materialism. And he emphatically was on the side of Animism.

[Scott] You have some very strange tastes. Go ahead.

[Rushdoony] Well, what the book is... he never completed it. In fact, he had 12 volumes when he died. And it took a number of editors to reduce it to one volume. They apparently felt it was so important it had to be published.

The importance of it is, of course, that it does collect the thinking of a great many people of importance in English society who were totally opposed to the Industrial Revolution and to technology. Thomas Gray the poet spoke of demons at work and the word “pandemonium” means, pan, universal demons. And that is the world of the machine. [00:03:19]

As a result, Jennings’ work is important because it...[edit]

As a result, Jennings’ work is important because it shows how deeply the hatred of the machine prevailed in the world of the arts and in the world of theoretical scientists such as Darwin. And, for example, the grandfather of Charles Darwin made this statement to a woman.

“My dear madam, you have but one complaint. It is one ladies are very subject to and it is the worst of all complaints and that is having a conscience. Do get rid of it with all speed. Few people have health or strength enough to keep such a luxury. For utility I cannot call it.” That was Erasmus Darwin.

The book is full of quotations such as this. “The Industrial Revolution is a picture of hell.” And a belief from beginning to end that modern man had to overthrow the world of technology and of industry in order to find freedom. So while Pandemonium is a terrible book, a stupid book written by a very stupid man it is important.

The other book by Sussman Victorians and Machines gives you additional evidence of this kind of thing. The world of art has, against the world of technology and industry. The two as irreconcilable enemies. There is an interesting quotation from Mill. I quote, “The mere visible fruits of scientific progress in a wealthy society, the mechanical improvements, the steam engines, the railroads carry the feeling of admiration for modern and disrespect for ancient times down even to the wholly uneducated classes,” unquote.

In other words, how can you continue with your adoration of the Greeks when you have modern industry and technology producing the wonders and marvels that it does?

This is the kind of thing that still continues. For example, as the author points out, Sussman, when William Blake wrote about the dark satanic mills. Do you recall that line?

[Scott] Oh, yes. [00:06:39]

[Rushdoony] It was a fraud...[edit]

[Rushdoony] It was a fraud. It was a lie. The mills of that time were all run on water. There was no smoke put in the air, no vapor, nothing. It was just a way of damning them. And Dickens really had a pretty decent childhood. He had to work for a while and he never forgave God or man for the fact that he had to work. And it gave him a lasting grudge. And he said... the author says, “For Dickens the machine usually works in the novel to symbolize the union of economic power with moral indifference,” end of quote.

And then another statement similar to that, “For Morris as for Ruskin, the criticism of society is implicit in the idea of art,” unquote.

And by society he made both men industrial, technological society.

Sussman also calls attention to something I had not known. You remember Bellamy’s Looking Bacward and how popular it was.

[Scott] Yes.

[Rushdoony] Well, the members of the community of arts and culture hated Bellamy and hated the popularity of the book, because, well, the book was a foolish one. It looked to technology for great improvements in the century to come and to them technology represented the destruction of aristocracy and the men of art as representing aristocracy.

Sussman says there were only two writers of any consequence who were favorable to industrial development and technology and both towards the last began to change their thinking. One was H. G. Wells and the other was Rudyard Kipling. [00:09:25]

Wells began to despair of the future humanity and Kipling...[edit]

Wells began to despair of the future humanity and Kipling, after World War I with the death of his only son became generally pessimistic about everything so that it was not just the machine, it was history.

So these two books tell us a great deal about why we have the problem we do today.

[Scott] What problem is that?

[Rushdoony] The world of culture, of art as being totally opposed to industry, to commerce, to Capitalism, to the free market, to technology, regarding it as a monster, pandemonium or pan demonism.

[Scott] Well, those are two awful books and it irritates me to even hear the quotes, I am sorry to say.

[Rushdoony] Well, it irritated me to read them.

[Scott] Now Dickens was really a very interesting writer. He really should have written more of the... more directly for the theater than for literature, because he really was a dramatist. All his characters were overdrawn.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] They were black and white and grey, but his observations of the fallacies and especially the weaknesses of people were very astute and he also wrote about virtuous people as well as villianouse people which is very rarely done today because, as we all know it is hard to write about goodness and he succeeded.

I would put Dickens in a very top category.

[Rushdoony] I am fond of him, I should say, although I regret a great many things about Dickens and his opinions.

[Scott] Well, he wrote so much.

But the argument against technology... in the first place, the phrase Industrial Revolution was coined by Toynbee. It was coined by Toynbee’s uncle. And it gives the impression that the machine appeared, that industry appeared, bing out of the clouds which it did not. It was a very slow and gradual development, almost invislble.

[Rushdoony] Yes. [00:11:59]

[Scott] And there was no revolution in that dramatic...[edit]

[Scott] And there was no revolution in that dramatic sense.

The people who left the farms and the land of England and went to work in the factories did not find the factories any worse to work in than the farms because they worked from sun down to sun up on the land. They worked under very brutal conditions and the factories were actually an improvement.

[Rushdoony] Yes, that is very true.

[Scott] Now the whole business of technology, what is technology? Technology is, quite simply, working, people working and using tools and instruments.

[Rushdoony] That is right.

[Scott] The ... the first person and one whom I do not admire, to bring out the fallacy of the whole ancient philosophic argument that words are more important than things was Bacon. Bacon was a faggot and a pain in the neck and I suppose that is one of the reasons he is so often regarded so highly. He himself never did anything scientific. But he talked a lot about how things should be scientific. And he did make a very interesting distinction between Aristotle, Plato and the rest and he said, “They have misled mankind for centuries.” He said, “A good shoemaker would have been of a lot more value to the human race than those people.”

And I have ... on that score I will agree with him.

Now I don’t know why publishers keep printing this kind of nonsense when for all I know these books are written on word processors when they themselves are automated presses, when no period in all history has been so interlarded between industry and the graphic arts as our own. We have... I think it as Doug Murray was telling me today that he considered the ... the new developments in terms of computers as important as the wheel, as great an advance in human progress as the wheel.

[Rushdoony] Yes, yes.

[Scott] It has enabled us to communicate and not only to communicate, but to destroy the tyranny of geography. He said, “It will no longer be necessary in the future for people to live on top of one another in cities, because they will be able to have a network of communication and small communities and there is plenty of room, as you know, in the world, for all the people in the world.”

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] If we ever broke up this tremendous congestion of the cities.

The difference in applied intelligence between what Murray had to say this afternoon just in the course of an ordinary conversation because we went down while I had a computer assembled and put together for me. It was almost like a tailored computer. It doesn’t have a brand name. They just took the various parts and asked me what I wanted to do with it and they produced a machine, put a machine together that will do what I want.

And then those books, those... if I am not really against... in favor of book burning, but I have... I am tempted. [00:15:25]

[Rushdoony] Well, let me make a distinction here...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Well, let me make a distinction here. Jennings was totally against technology. Sussman in his book is dealing with the literary response to technology and he is not in favor of what these writers were saying. So he is documenting their foolishness rather than approving of it. The writers he dealt with were Carlisle, Samuel Butler, Dickens, Ruskin, William Morris, H. G. Wells and Rudyard Kipling.

[Scott] Well, of course, I always thought Wells was overboard in favor of modernity. And Wells is a classic case. He was more honest than most. At least in his autobiography at the end of his life he said... he gave it the title, A Mind at the End of its Tether.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And at least he faced up to the fact that he had gotten into a dead end.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Everyone of his stories, if you recall, had a tragic end, The War of the Worlds, you name it.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And the same thing as true of Hemingway. Hemingway never let a hero live, never.

[Rushdoony] No.

[Scott] And he himself is the epitome of the undeserved success.

[Rushdoony] But H. G. Wells despaired not of the... because of the machine, but because of man. So he was on the side of industry and technology.

[Scott] Well, so am I.

[Rushdoony] Despite this sometime Fabian views.

[Scott] So am I in favor of technology. The more they... the more comfortable they can make it, the better as far as I am concerned.

[Rushdoony] I agree.

[Scott] I am... I am not about to go back to a mule and a plow.

[Rushdoony] Well, I have worked with a mule and a plow.

[Scott] I feel sorry for you.

[Rushdoony] It is nothing to be prized.

[Scott] Well, the whole question is books is interesting. There is still a hangover in the United States among the men that reading books is a somewhat foolish thing to do. It is a waste of time and I had one fellow tell me that his wife reads.

[Rushdoony] I have heard that, too.

[Scott] And... and I didn’t say anthing.

[Rushdoony] An indulgent statement.

[Scott] And I always figured that my silence to such comments earns me another star in heaven, because I think a number of things. And I have here a book, Books that Chagned the Word from the Ancient times to 20th Century. It is a paperback and I have had it on the shelf for quite some time and I think there are a number of such books. It is not worth giving anybody any information about it, because you can go and find five or six books of this type and it depends upon the author as to which books they consider the most important. [00:18:11]

But he does say that there is a great variation...[edit]

But he does say that there is a great variation. He says, for instance in this man’s mind, “What is a book?” He said, “For instance, most people think of it is as something thick, but Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was a pamphlet. And it had a tremendous effect. Thoreau wrote an essay on civil disobedience which, as you know, is still being used for progagandistic purposes. And we have Machiavelli. Now people don’t read Machiavelli today. They don’t understand him. Machiavelli’s argument really was designed to help the political situation in Florence. Over all he argued that the good of the community outweighed all individual rights. That is what it came down to.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And that idea enabled the rulers of his day to forget about biblical limitations on power. And, incidentally that was the same idea that Adolf Hiter propounded in this system of the National Socialists. And that was in Shakespeare’s phrase, “Every man instead of...” You know Shakespeare said at one point, “Every man owes God a debt,” but Hitler switched that to say, “Every man owes the state a debt.”

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And there is not much difference between Hitler on that score and Haegel. And Mein Kampf , therefore, goes into this fellow’s lexicon of important books. And unless you read what these people thought and said, you really don’t understand the world because none of their ideas have ever died. You hear them all the time. And I think that is what probably makes an important book from an unimportant book. And, for that matter, why you bring up these arguments on the behalf an artistic community which the artistic community doesn’t follow.

These are men who are writing about art who are not part of art. These are like Bacon wrote about science without being a scientist. These follows are writing about art without being artists. You will ask an artist whether he does ... works for... without money and just listen to what he tells you.

[Rushdoony] But the fact is the greater majority of the people in the arts are anti capitalistic. [00:20:58]

[Scott] No, they are not...[edit]

[Scott] No, they are not. They are making money. They are capitalists themselves. Picasso died a very rich man.

[Rushdoony] True, true, but that doesn’t prevent them from following left wing politics.

[Scott] They may follow left wing politics and they may give to fashionable camps, but you just try to struggle over money in the world of art. It is covered with money.

[Rushdoony] Of course.

[Scott] When I get together with other writers I have never discussed literature yet. We discuss contracts, advances and who does what.

[Rushdoony] True, true.

[Scott] Then it is true across the board.

[Rushdoony] True. But they don’t write in praise of Capitalism.

You said something about Bacon which was very true and in a book I read just recently, A. Rupert Hall, Henry Moore: Magic, Religion and Experiment, published by Basil Blackwell in England in 1990.

He says this about Bacon. “Philosophers, historians and scientists have voiced skepticism concerning the value of Bacon’s non experiential picture of scientific research and thinking. Whether considered as a program for future endeavors or regarded as the basis for an account of what post Baconian scientists have actually done, some such as Leipnitz have found his claims to furnish a logic of scientific discovery absurd. Others such as Leipig have ridiculed Bacon for his utter ignorance of the real business of experimental science. {?} has written that Bacon’s Silva Silvarum an incoherent natural history highly esteemed in the 17th century is no different from the magical texts of Della Porta and Cardono or those of the 17th century English hermetics and magicians John Dee and Robert Flood. This is why... probably why Bacon’s logic has been seen by so many scholars as a failure. One of these was Alexander Chouery who poured scorn on the claim that it was Bacon who had called the scientific wits together,” unquote.

[Scott] I couldn’t agree more. I am very please to find myself in such intelligent company.

[Rushdoony] Of course the textbooks still portray that thief and homosexual wretch...

[Scott] Yes.

[Rushdoony] ... as though he the father of science.

[Scott] I can’t understand it.

[Rushdoony] No. Well...

[Scott] It.... it is like James Stuart, James I. One of the American scholars said in reviewing my work on him that I had been very sarcastic about his sexual proclivities and he said, “Well, after all, it was a regal vice.” [00:24:06]

[Rushdoony] Yes...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] I never knew that. I always thought it was wine, women and song.

[Rushdoony] Well, an interesting thing and I won’t deal with Moore any longer than this, but Henry Moore had quite a revulsion for Calvin. He went in to Occultism and magic which was then closely related to mathematics and Freemasonry and he had a belief which he stated in so many words. He had no great use for orthodox Christianity. But he said God could not possibly reject him.

[Scott] Why not?

Boy...

[Rushdoony] But this ... oh, he believed, of course, in preexistence and that sort of thing. But he was very telling in his view of science, what it should be. Science as control, control over people.

[Scott] That was...

[Rushdoony] Control over society.

[Scott] That is... well, that is... that is the bad science.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] I had a conversation with a scientists named Whitby, big in the ... in the synthetic rubber industry. And I said, “Do you realize, Dr. Whitby, that the professors feel that a scientist like you who is working in industry is not the real thing, that you should be theoretical. You should not be bothered with production, innovation, distrubtion, that sort of thing.”

He said, “The purpose of science is to bring better products to the world.”

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] The purpose of science, he said, is not to display your brains out of sheer vanity.

[Rushdoony] It is the social scientists who believe in control. And I don’t think the social sciences are sciences.

[Scott] No, I don’t either. No, if they were, we would have something to be afraid of.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] If they could figure out the mystery of mankind.

Well, I have here a book that you know about, God and the Astronmers by Robert Jastrow.

[Rushdoony] Oh, yes.

[Scott] And it gives me great pleasure to quote from Jastrow. “When an astronomer writes about God,” he said, “his colleagues assume he is either over the hill or going bonkers. However, I am fascinated by some strange developments going in on astronomy, partly because of their religious implications and partly because of the peculiar reactions of my colleagues.”

Now he goes on to say that the big bang theory presupposes a beginning. And he says, “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundations of the earth and the heavens are the work thine hands.” And he says no scientist can answer that question. We can never know whether the prime mover willed the world into being or whether the creative agent was one of the familiar forces of physics. [00:27:19]

And then later on the book he says, ...[edit]

And then later on the book he says, “The fact is science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scienist has scaled the mountains of ignorance, sought to conquer the highest peaks, he finds himself greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

[Rushdoony] Yes, that is a marvelous statement. I recall that.

[Scott] The, I think most amusing thing about Jostrow’s comment was that when he wrote this book, God and the Astonomers they were all convinced that they had figured out that the world began, the universe began with a great explosion. And, of course, they didn’t ask the question: What happened before that? Who put the explosion together? What was the catalyst? Or anything of that sort.

Well, now the big bang theory has been exploded.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] By further discoveries of the astronomers, so that of the first time in my lifetime—and I think in yours, too—they have no theory whatever and yet I have yet to see anyone of them get up and say, “Gentlemen we do not know.”

[Rushdoony] Yes, yes. Book after book is coming out now that is a devastating critique of Darwin. The contradictions, the absurdities, the dishoneties in his thinking and yet nobody will say, “Let’s drop the theory.” Everyone associated with it and in its... in the beginnings was unworthy of being considered a serious thinker.

[Scott] What is wrong with saying you don’t know?

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] What is wrong with telling the children and the students we have not yet discovered all the mysteries of life and we do not know?

[Rushdoony] And God knows and {?}

[Scott] God knows and we don’t.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

Well, I would like to turn to a book now that was written by George Armstrong Kelly, ictims, Authority, and Terror: The Parallel Deaths of D'Orleans, Custine, Bailly, and Malesherbes, published by the University of North Carolina Press in 1982. It deals with the execution of these four men, one of them a member of the royal family during the Reign of Terror. [00:30:01]

And the book is very interesting, because first of...[edit]

And the book is very interesting, because first of all the French army was corrupt. It was overloaded with officers and generals. If you were a boy from an important family you became a colonel almost at once. And a great many of these men, nobility and the like came to the United States to assist Washington in the war against the British. This was France’s way of striking back at Britain for the French and Indian War defeat that they had suffered.

One of the men, of course, was Custine, a general at the time.

Now these men were tremendously impressed by the United States and with good reason. The orderliness of the country, the fact that with the revolt against Britain, courts and police in effect had ceased to exist or function in many areas. And yet while there were problems, mainly debtors not paying debts, the American communities remained law abiding. And then the Constitution, their admiration for that was immense.

So these people operated under the illusion that if you had the right words on paper you could create a good society.

[Scott] That is still a very familiar idea.

[Rushdoony] Yes. And I wrote a position paper on it recently before reading this book, “In Paper we Trust.”

[Scott] Yes.

[Rushdoony] Now, they never took seriously the fact that this was a Christian country, because for them Christianity was nothing to be taken seriously. As a result, they never understand why the United States functioned, why it was such an effective country. And so they believed all they had to do was to create a document and paradise would begin.

[Scott] Another known as the Democratic Party National Committee.

[Rushdoony] So it is a very telling book in that respect and also a very sad one because it is so grim and the consequences of that stupid belief. [00:33:20]

[Scott] Well, they thought so much of the people who...[edit]

[Scott] Well, they thought so much of the people who cheered when their heads were lopped off.

[Rushdoony] Yes, I am going to come to that in a moment in another book.

There is quote from Rousseau which is a classic. “Let us then begin by setting aside all the facts for they are of no relevance to the question.”

That you don’t hear normally in discussions of Rousseau. But then it would tell us a little too much about Rousseau.

Well, before leaving this subject of the French Revolution and the terror, I want to turn briefly to a book by David I. Kertzer, K E R T Z E R, Ritual Politics and Power, published by Yale University Press in 1988.

And he is not a christain by any stretch of imagination. He, Kertzer, is an anthropologist. So the book can be very annoying for that reason. But put in our language what he is saying is that the symbols, the ritual of the faith is an inescapable fact, because ritual manifests what you believe. When you bow in worship, when you kneel or you bow your head, you are manifesting an action of faith so that ritual is inescapable to life. Therefore he says, for example, in France it was a ritual when the king or the queen was dressed. When people passed the royal bedroom they bowed. When the royal bedpan was carried you bowed, because this was the center of the world.

[Scott] Yes, that is why the king was sacred.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

Then he comes to the point of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror which he says was ritual, ritual. And he said it would have been a much simpler matter to execute these people and it would have created fewer international repercussions if they had been flatly disposed of in prison. But they had to be marched out. Crowds had to be present. If you wanted to maintain your social respectability you had to be there when the guillotine fell. [00:36:27]

[Scott] Now this is a very interesting point, because...[edit]

[Scott] Now this is a very interesting point, because ... and I have thought about it many times and come to no better conclusion than Lord Acton did and that is that no... as he said, he said, “Among the smoke, every so often,” he said, “The smoke seems to dissipate and one almost sees the hands of the managers and then everything becomes cloudy again.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] The thing that has always intrigued me about the Reign of Terror and the steps that were taken leading up to it was their deep psychological insight into the control of crowds.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] For the first time the confessional was taken and was made public and the confessional consisted of an attack against the confessional, an attack against the Church, an attack against Christianity using the methods of Christianity.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] So am open, public confession was absolutely demanded. And then, of course, as you say, the inversion of all the symbols where Notre Dame, the cathedral of Paris, was turned into the temple of reason and they put a prostitute up where the cardinal used to sit.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And all of this was very much... it was very... there was a deep insight into human nature involved which is disproportionate with the mental caliber of the leaders of the revolution that we know. Neither any of them, Robespierre or any of his colleagues had anything in their background expecting, I would say, a bit above average...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] ...but not on the genius level. They none of them every {?} really stirring books or... or speeches. They were people of the level of which most of us are well familiar and yet they introduced ... they introduced methods which almost looked like it would take a civilization to conceive. And that is the great mystery of the French terror.

[Rushdoony] I was writing yesterday on the purge trials of Stalin and how in order to justify his regime he had to have these public confessions and the men were tortured and required to get up and make the most absurd confessions because it was a way of saying, “These are the sinners, the devils in our society and we are the holy Church.”

[Scott] Based on the... on the pattern of the French Revoution...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] ...makes the Kremlin even talked in terms of the revolution for many years, for several generations they would say there will be no thermador here.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Thermador being the period in which the period in which the Robespiere was unseated... [00:39:39]

[Rushdoony] Yes...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] ...and the terror came to an end.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] There will be thermador here. They saw unending terror.

[Rushdoony] That was the interesting thing in reading Lenin years and years ago, how much he echoed the terms of the French Revolution of self conscious awareness.

[Scott] They taught it to the revolutionaries that they sent to other countries as the pattern. It was the prototype. And these are mysteries which none of our historians seem to go into. What happened to the records of the actual revolution and the names of the people in the communes that came out of the neighborhoods of Paris to sit in judgment? All those records were taken from France in 1871. And they wound by diverse routes in the hands of the Soviets. And they are in the Kremlin. And those names would be interesting.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

Well, there was a very interesting related point that is hinted at in Kertzer’s book and it is this. When the ritual becomes meaningless you have empty forms and the content is gone. And what is beginning to happen in politics today is that the ritual remains, but the meaning is virtually gone.

[Scott] Well, look at the vote.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Look at the vote. Most people don’t vote anymore.

[Rushdoony] No.

[Scott] And they don’t vote because they don’t see where it makes any difference. The ritual is there and we are going around tellonig the world how much a vote means when the fact of the matter means we do not select the people for whom we vote.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And if you don’t select the people for whom you vote, what good is a vote? [00:41:33]

[Rushdoony] Yes...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Yes.

Well, did you have something else?

[Scott] No, no. Go ahead.

[Rushdoony] All right. Well, I would like to go on to a book that is an absolute delight. Barefoot in Arcadia: Memories of a More Innocent Era by Louis B. Wright, W R I G H T, the American historian. And this was published by the University of South Carolina Press in 1974 and the printing I have is 1981 and I suspect it has been reprinted again and again since then.

It describes his child hood.

[Scott] When was he born?

[Rushdoony] He was born early in the century, very early.

And, as he says, the era, 1900 to 1920 except for a few things like trains and the early automobiles, Washington, Jefferson and Adams could have walked into any American community and after an hour or two felt at home. It was still the same country. But since then, he says, it has changed dramatically.

He says he wrote this book because he believed that too many writers like Caldwell and Irskin had vilified the South.

[Scott] Which they certainly did.

[Rushdoony] And he said South Carolina, as he grew up in it, was a place of congenial relations between blacks and whites and mostly godly people. He says, and I quote, “I treasure the memory of my many boyhood friends, both white and black. One who lived to be nearly 100 had been given as a slave girl, age 10, to my paternal grandmother on her wedding day. She was Harriet Graham, a woman of marvelous character and integrity who married, raised a fine family of Pullman porters and tailors and when she was widowed and alone came back to live our her last years with us.

“After I became professionally concerned with history, I used to talk with Harriet about her youth. ‘We cried when freedom came,’ she once told me. They made us move from your grandma’s place to Mr. Frasier’s. We had to eat ash cake and none of us had anything except cake bread at your grandma’s. We just sat there and cried.’

“Thus the great adjustment came to one slave {?}. I once asked Harriet how my grandmother came to marry my grandfather Wright. ‘It was this way,’ she explained. ‘All the men folk and your grandma’s family had been killed in the war and your grandpop was home wounded and your grandma thought a wounded man was better than no man at all.’

“Harriet’s fatality count was accurate. All five of my grandmother Wright’s brothers, all officers, had died in battle and her father had perished of pneumonia on the Tennessee front.”

Then another very delightful episode which I think you and I can appreciate because there was a time when no gentleman was seen in the streets without a hat.

[Scott] True enough. [00:45:21]

[Rushdoony] And it says ...[edit]

[Rushdoony] And it says “The ... the case of a South Carolina physician. A certain Dr. McCloud exemplifies the desire to avoid conspicuousness. Dr. McCloud’s medical skill was only equaled by his hot temper. When a patient swore at the doctor of dunning him for payment of a bill the physician pursued him down the street firing a revolver ever few feet. As the doctor ran past the stranger he snatched off the man’s hat and clapped it on his own head. In due time he was brought to trial charged with assault and battery of a high aggravated nature. One aspect of the case puzzled the judge.

“‘Dr. McCloud, will you tell the court why you snatched the stranger’s hat?” The judge asked.

“‘Why, your honor,’ the physician replied, ‘I left my office hurriedly and was out... was without my had and no gentleman likes to be conspicuous in public.’”

Firing a gun at somebody was not conspicuous, but that was in his eyes.

But he has a great deal more to say about a variety of things, all delightful. He was, for some years with the Huntington Library and I believe he was in charge of it. At any rate, this, I thought, was good.

“During years of residence in San Marino, California I frequently went to symphony concerts in the Hollywood Bowl with two friends whose musical talents were just short of professional. The great Klemperer was then conductor of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra, but not even he was able to satisfy my musical colleagues. They were always critical. The tempo had not been quite right or some other technical flaw spoiled the interpretation for them. But I, reveling in the music of Mozart or Beethoven sat back in my ignorance and enjoyed it all. Although I was unable to explain in the jargon that afflicts music critics why the concerts gave me such pleasure, I became a devotee of classical programs. The clash and discord of much modern music did not entertain me. My musical illiteracy was, in a way, a comfort. Technical knowledge might have given me a greater intellectual understanding, but it is doubtful whether it would have increased my enjoyment.

[Scott] That is a very good point.

[Rushdoony] Yes, isn’t that good?

[Scott] That is an excellent point. You should go to a concert or a theater as a child.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] We had a... a critic in San Diego when I lived there who has the distinction—I think he is still there. I am not sure—he has the distinction of having looked down his nose at some of the most famous performances by some of the best people that have ever {?}

[Rushdoony] I have known that kind.

Here is another story from Wright. I quote.

“That very day a wagon had run over the store keeper’s cat and had left an orphaned litter of kittens. As we pondered what to do with six blind kittens, he remembered that a hen had made a nest in an orange crate in the back of the store and had gone to setting. So he put the kittens under the hen to keep them warm. While he was cutting a wedge of cheese for the boy he suggested, ‘Son, go back there and see what my old hen has hatched.’

“The boy {?} and took note of the kittens. {?} ‘Well, son, what did you think of that hen’s brood?’ the store keeper asked.

“‘Didn’t think nothing much,’ the boy replied. ‘But I know one thing {?}’” [00:49:58]

There are a great many stories like that in this book...[edit]

There are a great many stories like that in this book which really broke me up, because Wright is a good story teller and in his writings he does manifest in his historiography a respect for the faith which is not common.

This story I like to... he says, “Many stories illustrated the Negroes acceptance of things as they were and his tolerance of life as he found it. A preacher asked to bury a citizen who had died outside the sanctity of the church, found forgiveness easy. He said, ‘He was not what you would call a good man, because he never joined a church, but he was a mighty respectable sinner.’”

Well, Wright’s book is from beginning to end a delight. I read it with ... oh, one more story I have to tell about this neighbor who periodically went to town with two of his hands and they would come back in a wagon, a small narrow wagon with high sides with all the groceries and he would, after the shopping and they would do their own shopping these hands. And he would go off and drink with some of his friends and ride back horseback.

But this one evening he... or one afternoon he had got too drunk. So he fell off and was found dead drunk beside the road. Hands form his plantation, homeward bound in a one horse wagon picked him up and stowed him aboard. Driving into the backyard they told Mrs. Hall that Mr. Hall was asleep in the wagon.

“Let him stay there until the cool of the morning and he will come to,” were her crisp instructions.

Before daybreak Mr. Hall stirred. Groping first on one side and then not ehot her he touched wooden walls in both directions. Reaching up he felt the cold wooden seat of the wagon above his head, suddenly realizing that he had met with a catstrophe. He when into the house yelling, “Help, help. I have been buried alive.”

Well, our time is up. Thank you all for listsening and God bless you.