[There is] a great charm in the past. Time, that sedulous artist, has been at work on it, selecting and rejecting with great tact. The past is a work of art, free from irrelevancies and loose ends. There are, for our vision, comparatively few people in it, and all of them are interesting people. The dullards have all disappeared — all but those whose dullness was so pronounced as to be in itself for us an amusing virtue. And in the past there is so blessedly nothing for us to worry about. Everything is settled. There's nothing to be done about it — nothing but to contemplate it and blandly form theories about this or that aspect of it.
27 October 2014
The Past Is a Work of Art
Max Beerbohm, "Lytton Strachey," Mainly on the Air (London: Heinemann, 1957), pp. 179-180: