Souce: The American Conservative
Two intellectual giants left us very recently: they were the American, Gertrude Himmelfarb (1922-2019), and the Englishman, Sir Roger Vernon Scruton (1944-2020). I am considering them together for several reasons: firstly, because they shared many attitudes, not least recognition of the role of religion in shaping society; secondly, because they did not kow-tow to baying Mobs unaware of anything other than Received Opinion; and thirdly because the so-called “lefties” loathed them. All are excellent reasons why we should respect both.
I first came across the name of Gertrude Himmelfarb when I reviewed The Victorian City: Images and Realities, edited by Jim Dyos and Michael Wolff, in 1973.In that massive publication is an excellent essay by her in which her erudition, scholarship, humanity, intelligence, and understanding ring out loud and clear.
Himmelfarb was born in Brooklyn, the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Russia who had a huge respect for learning. She acquired a deep interest in British history during her time at Girton College, Cambridge, and on returning to the U.S. she wrote The Idea of Poverty and Poverty and Compassion, in which she described the Victorian responses to the problem: she held such responses were disciplined and realistic rather than