My old St. Francisville friend Laura Klein Croft — that’s her on the left — drove me up to rural Wiltshire this afternoon to spend some time interviewing Sir Roger Scruton for my upcoming book on the lessons we in the 21st century West have to learn from those who suffered under 20th century Soviet communism. Sir Roger and other academics from the free world joined with Czech colleagues in the 1980s to start an underground university (he talked about that in this interview with Czech radio), so he knows very well how much we have to learn from those who struggled with Communism — and prevailed.
I’m not going to use any of the interview in this space. Maybe after I transcribe it, if there’s anything that I can’t use in the book, I’ll post it here. Mostly I wanted to say in this space how grateful I am to have spent time with him in his library at the farm, drinking tea and talking about culture, civilization, Communism, and the way we live now. It was encouraging to hear him say how much he believes we need this book. He was a gracious host, and let me say that Roger Scruton lives exactly like you want Roger Scruton to live: surrounded by books, a well-used armchair, a piano, a worn Oriental carpet, a Labrador retriever, chickens in the tall grass and a dearly loved wife bringing a tray of milky tea to the philosopher and his guests in his home office — a converted 18th century barn — filled with cool, clean country air and a spirit of tranquility, modesty, and contentment. For me, it was a presentiment of paradise. I am grateful.
Oh, and I can’t be positive, because I only glanced at it, but I think that’s a portrait of Charles II above the crossbeam. Please visit Amazon’s Roger Scruton page. Buy anything, and be delighted and edified. You won’t regret it.
Now, as I write, it is dusk, and the cattle are lowing on the hillside behind Laura’s house in Hampshire. Laura has been the most generous host. One of my children is crying — one of the boys — overcome by sorrow that we have to say farewell to this good place and these good people.
It’s grace, all of it. On to Cambridge tomorrow for a short visit.