Wednesday, October 17, 2012


The Case against Progress

Darwell Stone, letter to Frederick W. Langton (February 19, 1939), in F.L. Cross, Darwell Stone: Churchman and Counsellor (Westminster: Dacre Press, 1943), pp. 342-343 (at 342):
Another shorter and more frivolous paper which I should like to write, and shall not do so, would be 'The Case against Progress by an obsolete Liberal'. It might begin by observing that the Homeric battles were brutal enough, but that they were not so brutal as the warfare of today, and ascribing the beginning of the declension to the invention of gunpowder which made it possible for a man to hide behind a hedge and shoot his enemy without risk to himself instead of a fair stand up fight with knives. Less grim illustrations might be from the way in which every motor car is more difficult to get into than its predecessor: even on the rank in St. Giles the old comfortable taxis are being superseded by machines entrance into which damages one's hat and hurts one's legs: and the way in which tailors and stationers, as soon as they have got to something really good, change it for what is worse. Or one might specify that some years ago there were at least five good morning London papers, and that now The Times is the only one left. Do you not think that all this wants saying? I should desire to say it from the Liberal point of view, you from the Conservative. Would it—or would it not—come to the same thing?
For a brief account of Darwell Stone (1859–1941), see the entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Bibliography by F.L. Cross, rev. K.E. Macnab, from which I learn that, in addition to his other accomplishments, Stone is remembered for his lexicographical work:
In 1934 Stone resigned as principal of Pusey House, but retained a room there, having moved to 14 St Margaret's Road, Oxford. He devoted himself mainly to work on the projected lexicon of patristic Greek, of which he had been editor since 1915. This project, subsequently edited by F.L. Cross (1941) and G.W.H. Lampe (1948), eventually appeared as Patristic Greek Lexicon (1961–8), and remains one of the great achievements of modern lexicography.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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