Friday, May 18, 2018

Macaulay Reaches Across Time

I am about 500 pages into the fourth (of five) volumes of Macaulay’s History of England.

There are numerous places where the author makes observations from his time, based on the events of the history that he is describing, that are so relevant to our time that it is mildly unnerving.

His comments on national debt made me laugh uproariously.

He would have ripped Paul Ryan and his coterie of idiots and sycophants.

But it was his final statement about the battle of Neerwinden from 1693 that straddle the ages.

Neerwinden is not far from Brussels.

Here is the quote.

“The region, renowned as the battlefield, through many ages, of the greatest powers of Europe, has seen only two more terrible days, the day of Malplaquet and the day of Waterloo. During many months the ground was strewn with skulls and bones of men and horses, and with fragments of hats and shoes, saddles and holsters.  The next summer the soil, fertilized by twenty thousand corpses, broke forth into millions of poppies.  The traveller, who, on the road from St. Tron to Tirlemont, saw that vast sheet of rich scarlet spreading from Landen to Neerwinden, could hardly help fancying that the figurative prediction of the Hebrew prophet was literally accomplished, that the earth was disclosing her blood, and refusing to cover the slain”.

He couldn’t have known what was still to come for that ground.

I have stood on Macaulay’s grave in Westminster Abbey and thanked him for this book.

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