The Unfortunate Colonel Despard and Other Studies Charles William Chadwick Oman

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The Unfortunate Colonel Despard and Other Studies  by  Charles William Chadwick Oman

The Unfortunate Colonel Despard and Other Studies by Charles William Chadwick Oman
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Edward Marcus Despard (1751 – 21 February 1803) was a Protestant Irishman Irish-born British colonel turned revolutionary, executed for High Treason.****....summary from wikipediaMoreEdward Marcus Despard (1751 – 21 February 1803) was a Protestant Irishman Irish-born British colonel turned revolutionary, executed for High Treason.****....summary from wikipedia..............................................................................................In the volume entitled Colonel Despard and Other Studies,Sir Charles Oman has gathered eleven essays that wereoriginally written for English magazines or for the RoyalHistorical Society.

The subjects range from legendaryin the Treaty of Versailles. Sir Charles makes all time andspace his province, as indeed he should, and wherever hecan find, matter that is of pure story interest or of significantimplication he stakes his claim and sets out to cultivate theground. Of the difficulties of the modern historian (whynecessarily modern, we do not understand) he has a ratherfull discussion, whose point appears in this paragraph:The practical man of the world would like to regard history asa string of facts, and he cannot see why the deductions fromthese facts should vary according the the temperament andthe point of view of the writer who manipulates them.

Historicalfacts, however, cannot be boiled down into a syrup equallygrateful and satisfactory to all consumers. The decoctionwhich one man will find to be exactly the nourishment re-quired for the maintenence of his spiritual and political equili-brium will be declared by another man to be rank poison:The historian mest be prepared to dind himself denouncedas a purveyor of mischievous mental provender.

Perhaps hemay achieve the honor of being equally blamed from bothsides, because he has struck some middle line of thoughtacceptable to neither.The author is quite right in saying that you cannot eliminatethe personality, of the historian from history, and that he isbound to write history as he sees it, which may be an entirelydifferent point of view from that of another equally good andhonest historian. The honest writer and interpreter of historyis he who frankly admits that factand takes it into account.That is not only true, but desirable, for history would be a dullpage if it were a mere tabulation of proven points withoutcomment or characterization.

But in the quoted paragraphthe choice of figurative language was unfortuante, for itimplies a point of view which we do not believe was intended.One mans meat is another mans poison, it is true. Butwhat has that to do with it?

Are we to believe that he wouldhave us regard history as a concentrated mental food pillthat is to be administered as mental health may seem torequire? The need of the consumer is not in question here.But the qualifications and the limitations of the middlemanare matters not to be forgotten or side-tracked. They arefundamental in interpreting and understanding the story ofthe past. The articles on the Unfortunate Colonel Despard,Arthur Thistlewood, and Basil of Cappadocia are historicalaccounts of figures little known to most of us.

The first twobelong, along with Lord Carteret, to the brilliant failures ofhistory. If they had not failed, they night have turned the courseof political history for years. Because they did fail, they arenearly forgotten, but to those who remember their story, theirintrepid pursuit of an end gave their picturesque lives dignityand a kind of heroism.



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