History and Curiosity in Waterland

Victoria Reyes '92

The following paragraph explains that curious people make history and that people study history in order to prevent making history. That is, people try not to make the same mistakes that were made in the past, or more generally, try not to repeat history. However, they fail to realize that someone has tried to do that already. So, history can only repeat itself.

Ah, children, consider that in every era of history, no matter how world-shaking its outward agenda, there has been no lack of curious people - astronomers and botanists; fossil- finders and Arctic voyagers, not to mention humble historians - for whose spirit of stubborn and wayward inquiry one should not be ungrateful. Consider the study of history is the very opposite, is the counter-action of making it. Consider your seventeen-year-old history teacher, who while the struggle for Europe reaches its culmination, while we break through France and the Russians race for Berlin, spares little thought for these Big Events (events of a local but still devastating nature having eclipsed for him their importance) and immerses himself instead in the research reclamation (and of brewing) in the eastern Fens, the proceedings of the Drainage Board, the history, called from living memory and records both public and intensely private, of the Crick and Atkinson families. (p.147)

United Kingdom