Civilised rejection of politics

The passion of W.S. Melsome, Dalrymple notes, was

the Bacon–Shakespeare controversy. Some said that he had the whole of Bacon and Shakespeare at his recall, and if either were quoted, could instantly produce a close analogy from the work of the other, which proved their identity.

Dalrymple finds it consoling that Melsome

pursued his obsession during the years when the world about him was collapsing, as if Mussolini and Hitler, and Stalin further east, were historical epiphenomena and that the real question confronting Mankind were: ‘Who wrote Shakespeare?’

Implicit in this, says Dalrymple,

is a civilised—though not, under the circumstances, very practical—rejection of politics as the dominant influence in life: an attitude from which one could learn something.

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