When the West Is Gone

When the West Is Gone

When the West Is Gone

When the West Is Gone

Excerpt

The historian is not a prophet, and has no business to act as though he were one. By the very nature of his task he is limited in his investigations to those occurrences of the past that have left a record. He may not pretend even that all history is his oyster, for he knows only too well that at many of the critical moments when the course of history has been deflected the record was never made, or has been tainted in transmission, or has been lost. From the moderate number of events for which evidence exists he may draw only such conclusions as the evidence may warrant. And if he be honest with himself he must have a profound suspicion of every systematic attempt to explain the whole of any civilization. It is only as he respects the limitations amid which he operates that he is entitled to credence even within his special field. And when he deliberately departs from his field and tries to pluck aside a corner of the impenetrable curtain that hides the future, he must know the futility of his task. Only the theologian, or the economist, or the social reformer . . .

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