The history of each individual is more significant to each than the history of his or her culture. The places our parents and grand-parents came from give us some measure of self-confidence for we partly define ourselves by our stock and by the stories we tell of our forebears.
No matter how diminished that history may be, we value it, and value it more the more it is unvarnished truth. Unlike the history of a culture, it should not be subject to revision. The revisionism of totalitarian states will always be unravelled because what we are depends to such a great extent on being able to rely on the true story, the story true as we can make it, of where we came from. If we value what is true as a means of defining ourselves, then we do not just value what is not true less, but we reject it, because it allows us to build up a false idea of ourselves.
Mr I of Charleston, South Carolina, asks why we should prize the untouched as more authentic than the rebuilt. There are those, even in England, who propose that we should take out old trees and replant them. Mr E from Esher, to take only one example, has reported to me frequently that he thought this should be done on a regular basis, so as to keep them looking as they did in the lifetime of Capability Brown, a man whose work he does not, as it happens, greatly admire.
I would reply to him now as I have frequently in the past that I value the original tree, no matter how beaten about by time, no matter how old and jagged, for these trees give evidence of great battles between the elements of nature. Their irregularity testifies to something greater than the bald design of a place. Each cracked bough is a history. Brown, in his later landscapes, was trying to express a truth, and to value truth is to place yourself at the heart of liberal culture.