“When an old person dies, a library burns to the ground.” That proverb, purportedly from Africa, contains a great deal of truth.
Men and women who have lived 70, 80, and 90 years are repositories of wisdom and experience. They have seen things that we have only read about in books of history. In their personal lives, they have experienced what one television sports show called “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” They have known great joy and deep sorrow. Were we to ask them, we would surely find among these elders memories of people and events from the past that might remind us of who and what we are.
In the case of Sir Roger Scruton, who died from cancer on Jan. 12, that adage hits home. With his passing, a library has indeed burned to the ground.