Traveling With A Sense Of History

PrintPrintEmailEmail

Now I am back home in Long Island, where it takes only a little 5-10-5 to make the roses grow. The real estate agent who sold me this 150-yearold house at the edge of the Sound gave me a handbill claiming that “among its occupants … have been a secretary of defense and a justice of the United States Supreme Court.” I seem to remember her telling me that the secretary of defense was James Forrestal, but when I telephoned one of his sons to find out more details, the son said that he was fairly sure that his father never lived here. Such futile inquiries and such dispiriting answers are all part of the course of history. When the young Henry Luce went to Oxford and enrolled at Christ Church, his prospective tutor asked him what period he hoped to study. Modern European history, the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the young Luce replied. “Luce, I am bound to tell you that here at Oxford we consider that modern history ends with the Glorious Revolution of 1688,” the tutor said. “After that all is mere hearsay and rumor.”