The Good Old Days
I was perusing some old books a while back and was struck by the opening passage from A History of the Ancient World by George Willis Botsford (1913). It’s neither an important nor notable book but I thought I’d share nonetheless*:
Condition of the World To-day.–As we look over the world to-day we find that the nations and peoples differ widely from one another in character and habits. Some have refined homes, a good government, a moral religion, schools, libraries, steam power, the telegraph, the telephone, and hundreds of other comforts and conveniences. Such people are civilized. We think of the United States, Great Britain, France and the other countries of Europe and America as the most highly civilized of the world. Others, as those of central Africa, are savage. Between the two extremes we can find every grade of civilization. The reason is that for ages some peoples have remained almost stationary, whereas others have made progress
I have nothing profound to say about any of this, except to note, maybe, the comfort with which the author makes such declarative judgments. Also, does my lack of access steam power speak to a personal decline, a retreat from civilization back towards barbarism? I mean except for the occasional ironed shirt or boiling tea kettle steam is really not a factor in my life.
*How do we feel about ‘nonetheless’ as a single word? I’m not sure I love it.