On making the worst of the past

Now, do not do me the injustice of thinking that I am by nature or inclination a laudator temporis acti [one who praises past times]. I am not the man to be looking for the golden age in the days gone by. God forbid ! But I count it the worst form of scornful ingratitude to indulge in boastings over our advance by making the worst of the past, and speaking of the generations behind us as if they were conspicuous only for their ignorance, their grossness, their vices, and their brutality.

” For we throw out acclamations of self-thanking, self-admiring,
With— at every mile run faster— ‘Oh, the wondrous, wondrous age ! ‘
Little heeding if we work our souls as nobly as our iron,
Or if angels will commend us at the goal of pilgrimage ! “

Augustus Jessop, England’s Peasantry and Other Essays (1914).

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