Definitions of History

  • 16 Jan 2012
  • Historical Studies
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Definitions of History

'History is then distillation of rumor' Carlyle
History is philosophy by examble'. Herodotus
History is just one damn thing after another'. AJP Taylor.
History gives us a peep into lost ages, and helps us share past deeds with Worcestershire men long gone'. H.W.Gwilliam

Links with the Past. Mr. Willis Bund. 'Historic memory can span the centuries with just a few lives. Bill remembers J.W.Willis Bund, who when a boy, knew an old lady, who told him that her nurse's father, as a young man, was on duty at Worcester Bridge during the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Three and a half centuries are bridged with five lifes. Mr.Bund quoted an Historian of Bewdley who knew an old inhabitant of that town whose grandfather heard the booming of the guns at Worcester fight.

A.L.Rowse: 'History isn't something that is dead and gone and done with, it is something that is alive and all around us ... in things before our eyes'.

Without History you are living in a room without windows. With windows you are looking out on the world. There is a beautiful romantic idea that if you listen closely, the stones of ancient buildings will speak to you, tell you their story, or even weep if murder has been carried out within their walls. 'A City that has lost its old buildings is like an old man that has lost his memory'.

A Sense of the Past - John Masefield, on Malvern Hills when young: 'And felt the hillside thronged by souls unseen, Who knew the interest in me, and was keen That man alive should understand man dead'.

Old Men are Chronicles - a 17th c. Tract, quoted G.Ewart Evans. 'We old men are old chronicles, and when our tongues go they are not clocks to tell the time present, but large books unclasped; and our speeches, like leaves turned over and over, discover wonders that are long since past'.

Willis Bund - 'In the 19th century a scholl of historians, who by a severe exercise of critical faculty have reduced history to a science, and so far the results have been wholly destructive; legend has been killed, and with it there has been to a great extent the destruction of the living interest which surround the facts, which alone make up history'. Hist. of Worc 1912.

Elinders Petrie - 'The man who knows and dwells in History adds a new dimension to his existence. He no longer lives in one place of present ways and thoughts. He lives in the whole space of life -past, present, and dimly future. He lives in all times'.

We are Immense Age - Bill Gwilliam Cathedral Restoration Lecture of 1988.

'We are not of today, or yesturday. We are of immense age. We are governed, impersonally and sometimes unconsciously, of the effect of the past; of the thoughts, actions and deeds of our forebears'.

How the Past Shapes the Present - Solera Madeira - a bottle filled with wine drawn from the vat that is annually part emptied and then refilled with young wine. It is a wine continually changing and containing the same. That is how national institutions and national character is shaped. The cultures of Britain still retain characteristics imbude in them by the events (of the past). John Morrill, 1992.

Words of Mouth History - The Hill, V.C.Tavener, C.Life, 26.9.74 Rumour had it that Shakespeare once walked here: Such word of mouth history sometimes holding More of truth than the premises of learned men, And down through the generations, This perhaps only the twelfth telling.

The Language of History - Everywhere one looks says something if one could only recognise the language. Walk through a country parish, and with eyes to see we can traverse five or six centuries. Constable wrote in one of his lectures, 'We see with the mind. The eyes only present the object. We see nothing till we truly understand it'. We (of Probus) are old enough to see history in the chaos and neglect of a deserted airfield; in the remains a derelict barracks - yet we know it was once alive with laughter and good comradeship. We can see again the men who did unselfish deeds, great deeds and who did not come back. We have before us ruin and dereliction but we see it peopled again with faces we knew. So it is with history. We look at the remains and see them peopled from the past.

The Value of Legends - Some years ago the historical value of legends were much depreciated, but the modern historian holds a different view. Most are now convinced that a great many legends have more sound historical basis than was commonly beleived. History is not just a record of facts. Legends often record opinion, feelings and ideas. They are the sidelights of the ordinary people, of an individual or a movement, showing them in a way that the mere record of dry facts can never give. Viewed from this standpoint the legend becomes of enormous importance, and without it no one can really understand the history of a country. Ibid.