February 1, 2015
Burke, Churchill and Harry Jaffa
I’ve been re-reading a lot of Harry Jaffa, spurred by his recent death. He was a superb scholar who left behind two of the best books ever written on Lincoln. His erudition was immense. His prose, though invariably challenging, suffered from none of the characteristic obscurity of his Straussian comrades.
Churchill’s indelible rendering of Statesmanship was Harry Jaffa’s favorite passage from the great Englishman’s voluminous writings. Curiously, though not much of a Burkean himself, the emphasis on this quotation, in various key portions of his writings, evidences a strong pull toward the wisdom of the great Irishman, in this recently deceased great American.
The passage appears in Churchill’s collection Thoughts and Adventures, a reissue of which book I reviewed long ago. In Jaffa’s summary, Churchill is defending Burke, who “had once attacked the British Court and defended the American Revolution, then later had defended the French monarchy and attacked the French Revolution.”