Evangelizing the American Continent

It was truly a sight that might well inspire horror, to behold these savages tumbling among the dark mountains of paganism, and guilty of the most horrible ignorance of religion. It is true, they neither stole nor defrauded; they were sober, frugal, continent, and faithful to their word; but though they acted right habitually, it was all in vain, unless they acted so from precept. The new comers, therefore, used every method to induce them to embrace and practice the true religion—except, indeed, that of setting them the example.

——Washington Irving, Knickerbocker’s History of New York.

A Gentle Hint

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In most of the New York shop windows, one reads: “Here we speak French;” “Here we speak Spanish;” “Here we speak German;” “Here we speak Italian.” I suggest an improvement—“Here we speak the Truth.”

——Fanny Fern, Fresh Leaves.

Dates in History

Unfortunately there is a widespread idea that dates are the be-all and end-all of history, which delusion is fostered by the importance attached to dates in the ordinary accursed examination. Whereas in reality dates are utterly unimportant and of no value in themselves, but useful solely as memoriæ technicæ for grasping the sequence of events; there being, for instance, no significance whatever—except possibly for astrologers—in the isolated facts that the Black Death occurred in 1349, and that the Peasants’ Rising happened in 1381, but very great significance in the fact that the one event was a generation after the other.

——L. F. Salzmann, Medieval Byways.

On Impartial History

And there is nothing so hopelessly misleading, speaking historically, as impartiality. For one thing the unprejudiced historian is practically bound to be uninteresting; the works of the most judicially impartial historian of the present time—so far as English history goes—are unreadable. Moreover, although he is carefully accurate and painstaking, they give a totally wrong impression so far as they give any at all. A ‘History of the Reformation,’ were such to be written by him, would be infinitely farther from the truth than one by Froude or Gasquet. To illustrate my meaning from contemporary events: some future historian will undoubtedly write fairly and impartially about Tariff Reform, Women’s Suffrage, and National Insurance. He will thereby completely miss the significance of those movements; for the propaganda and personalities of Mr. Lloyd George, Mrs. Pankhurst, and Mr. Joseph Chamberlain are not matters for cool and impartial consideration, and it will only be by the blessed gift of prejudice that the future historian will be able to enter into the feelings of the present generation and obtain the true neo-Georgian atmosphere.

——L. F. Salzmann, Medieval Byways.

Truth

Truth is at the bottom of the well, and will remain there unless some one draws the bucket.

——Hugh Henry Brackenridge, Modern Chivalry.