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Encounter Books

Athwart history : half a century of polemics, animadversions, and illuminations : a William F. Buckley Jr. omnibus

edited by Linda Bridges & Roger Kimball with a preface by George F. Will ; introduction by Roger Kimball
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Preface . . xxiii
Introduction . . xxvii

Too Much to Take
  On liberals' taking it upon themselves to define conservatism . . 2
Standing Athwart History
  A statement of purpose for the newly launched National Review,
  explaining why it is "just about the hottest thing in town" . . 6
Liberal Presumption
  On the notion that a "central intelligence" in Washington, D.C., can
  dispose of American citizens' money far better than they can . . 8
The Conservative Alternative
  A program designed to "keep conservatives busy, and liberals at bay.
  And the nation Jree" . . 13
The Politics of Beauty
  Why any political attempt to achieve beauty in public places is doomed to failure . . 20
The New Conservatism
  On the historical responsibility of conservatives, at the end of the
  tumultuous Sixties, "to defend what is best in America" . . 33
Impeach the Speech, Not the President
  On the awfulness of Nixon's Watergate speech, and on the difference
  between an American president and a prime minister, or a king . . 37
Marx Is Dead
  Marxism is only an excuse for wielding power, and someone besides
  Solzhenitsyn needs to say so . . 46
The Call of Public Service
  On confusing a desire for power with a desire to serve . . 48

The Party and the Deep Blue Sea
  On the Republicans' acquiescing—after twenty years of New Deal/Fair
  Deal—in the self-aggrandizing state . . 52
Reflections on Election Eve
  At the end of Elsenhower's first term, conservatives can't accept the
  slogan "I Like Ike," though some can say, "I Prefer Ike" . . 57
What of Tomorrow?
  On different responses to Elsenhower's embrace of statism . . 61
National Review and the 1960 Election
  Should conservatives choose the lesser of two evils, or declare against
  both candidates and set their sights four years out? . . 62
So Long, Ike
  On how this manifestly good man left his country and the world much
  worse off than they were the day he took office . . 64
The Decline of Mr. Kennedy?
  Noting—in July 1963—that there were good reasons why JFK's poll
  numbers were falling precipitously . . 66
The Case for Goldwater
  What the candidate actually believes, as against what hostile critics
  claim he believes . . 68
Bobby for King
  On the quite extrapolitical adoration of Robert F. Kennedy . . 72
What George Wallace Means to Me
  Why some observers consider him a conservative, while movement
  conservatives fear and reject him . . 74
Why We Need a Black President in 1980
  On the reasons, as 0/1970, why it would be good, both for black
  America and for white America, if a black were elected president a few years hence . . 77
McGovern and the National Mood
  On the possibility that a nice man who, however, would prefer that
  America become a second-class power might win the presidency . . 81
Nixon and Resignation
  The four selves of Richard Nixon, and how they might interact to cause
  him to resign . . 83
The End of the GOP?
  On the refusal of the Republican Party to mount a vigorous defense of
  freedom, against, statism at home and Communist aggression abroad . . 85
Ford and the Impossible
  On the difficulty, for a working politician, of cutting through the
  conventional wisdom, whether on Vietnam or the overdrawn national budget . . 86
The Polish Joke
  What was President Ford thinking when he said that Poland and the
  other Captive Nations were not under Soviet domination ? . . 88
Buckley on Buckley
  On what entering the political arena—as challenger to Senator James
  Buckley in 1976—has done to the once-brilliant mind of Daniel Patrick Moynihan . . 90
Run, Jesse, Run
  On the brilliant rhetoric of Jesse Jackson and, alas, the uses to which he puts it . . 92
George Bush, Reborn
  On the elder Bush's ascent through the primaries, and on the need for
  him to break out of the blandness imposed on vice presidents . . 96
Oh My God!
  On a Bill Clinton speech full to the brim of falsifications, all in aid of
extending the reach of the federal government into our lives . . 98
Frightened by Pat Robertson?
  On the Left's—and the media's—exaggerated fear of the Religious Right . . 100
Who Loses if Clinton Wins
  On why, important though Bill and Hillary Clinton's shady dealings
  are, afar better reason to vote against him is his policies . . 102
Rip Van Winkle Reviews the Scene
  What was going on in the 1996 campaign during the twelve days WFB
  was totally out of touch on a train from Peking to Moscow . . 105
How Much Do We Like W?
  Answer. Middling only—except by comparison to the alternative, namely, Al Gore . . 107
Fathoming Kerry
  On the contradiction between John Kerry's rejection of America's role
  in Vietnam and his voting to authorize the Iraq War . . 109
A Special Odium
  On the extraordinary ferocity displayed by critics of Bush, and its
  possible effect on the democratic culture . . 110
Great Cheer in Boston
  On the political theater at the Democratic convention, and on the
  differences between Reagan's bid for re-election in 1984 and Bush's in 2004 . . 112
Inside Obama
  On the candidate's soaring rhetoric—but underlying dishonesty-
  about what government can do for America's children . . 114

Dean Acheson's Record
  On the appalling spread of Communism on his watch as under
  secretary and then secretary of state . . 118
A Dilemma of Conservatives
  On the divide between accommodationists and liberationists . . 122
Who Says They Didn't Die in Vain?
  On the tepid Western reaction to the Soviets' crushing the Hungarian revolution . . 125
Mr. K's Manners—and Ours
  On how, having invited Khrushchev to be our guest, we had made it
  very hard "to re-evoke a civilized response to such a man"; but why we
  must try, and how . . 126
"I Got My Job through the New York Times"
  On the way a supposedly objective journalist, Herbert Matthews,
  "hypnotized" the State Department—as well as his lay readers—into
  believing Castro was a good thing . . 128
An Answer on Berlin
  A recommendation (one month before the Wall went up) for President
  Kennedy: "The best way to keep Berlin free is to discuss liberating East Germany" . . 136
  Analyzing the argument that submission to tyranny is better than the
  possibility of nuclear war . . 137
Who Won in Cuba?
  By standing up to Khrushchev in the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy
  did a great deal; but he could have done so very much more . . 139
A Day in Laos, and an Evening
  A first-hand account of the bravery of Laotian pilots fighting to repel
  the North Vietnamese . . 141
Solzhenitsyn at Bay
  On the towering work of Solzhenitsyn, and our obligation to do
  anything in our power to protect him . . 143
Endless Talk about Cambodia
  On how, having said, Never again! after the Holocaust, we are doing
  nothing to save the Cambodians from Pol Pot . . 145
What to Do about Poland?
  On the possibility, infinitesimal though it seemed at the time, that
  a labor-union strike in Gdansk will "prove to be the cordite that will
  bring down the House of Lenin" . . 146
Missing the Point of Grenada
  On the complaints from the Left that Reagan acted prematurely in invading Grenada . . 148
For Moderation in Osculation
  it is morally wrong for Western leaders to physically embrace despots like Castro . . 150
What if They Were Nazis?
  Apropos of the outrage over Reagan's visit to Bitburg, reflections on
  what difference the Left can find between Nazi tyrants and Communist tyrants . . 152
What Is Potism?
  Prompted by the capture of Pol Pot, a meditation on the twentieth
  century's genocides, all ideologically motivated . . 154

Who Killed Adam Smith?
  On American capitalists' turning against the enlightened self-interest
  Smith had assumed, and instead embracing statism . . 158
Father Fullman's Assault
  Replying to an attack by a Catholic priest on the economic analysis in
  WFB's first book, God and Man at Yale . . 162
Return to States' Rights
  On the importance of not letting the federalist concept of
  decentralization be co-opted by segregationists . . 168
A Retired Colonel Takes on the Educationists
  On Colonel Augustin G. Rudd's battle against Progressive Education,
  which not only is "progressive" in the sense of leftist, but also doesn't educate . . 169
The Economics of Illusion
  On two proposed government schemes and "the illusion of the
  spontaneously generating dollar" . . 172
God Bless the Rich
  On the benefits to society of individuals with accumulated money, who
  nonetheless are under constant attack from the egalitarians . . 176
The End of the Public Schools
  On a shift in public perceptions that might, just might, permit true
  voucher liberation . . 180
Is There a Lost Straw?
  On the powers of disruption wielded by the labor unions, and our
  tendency to regard them as unopposable . . 182
Papal Gaucherie
  On the unfortunate tendency of Pope Paul VI to dilute his ardor for
  true charity with ignorant attacks on capitalism . . 184
Mr. Nixon and Inflation
  The president rightly resists wage and price controls, but he fails to
  understand the need to free the Invisible Hand . . 187
Are You against the Handicapped?
  On the assumption that anyone who questions a new government
  expenditure is opposed to the group it would benefit . . 189
How to Argue about Abortion
  On Professor John Noonan's exploration of what it means to recognize
  as human a creature not exactly like oneself . . 191
Thinking about Crime
  If we can't treat the root causes of crime (e.g., out-of-wedlock births), we
  can at least treat the symptoms . . 192
Three-Martini Lunch?
  On the puritanical roots of Jimmy Carter's attack on tax deductions for
  business lunches . . 194
The Failure of Ronald Reagan
  On the disappointment that President Reagan went for an across-the-
  board 10 percent tax cut instead of working to reduce the progressive tax . . 195
Gentlemen, Please
  Admitting that Reagan hasn't balanced the budget, but demonstrating
  what he has accomplished on the economic and military fronts . . 197
The Thatcher Curve
  On Mrs. Thatcher's tax reforms and the splendid effect they were
  having on the British economy . . 199
"Justice" and the Iran-Contra Trial
  Putting the actions of Oliver North, John Poindexter, et al. in the
  context of Congress's refusal to maintain a consistent policy on Nicaragua . . 201
The Health Paradigm
  On the first, murky emanations of a Clinton health-care reform—with
  a paradigm for how it ought to be done . . 203
Up from Witchcraft
  An analysis of the exclusionary rule, prompted by the O. J. Simpson trial . . 205
Oh, What a Beautiful Morning
  On the 1994 GOP congressional victories, and the possibility of actual
  reform ahead . . 207
  On Jack Kemp's absolutely unsynthetic enthusiasm for certain ideas
  (especially the flat tax) that would conduce toward "freedom—no less" . . 209
Big Day for Federalism
  On the enactment of a welfare-reform bill that should unleash the
  experimental energies of the states . . 211
Cleaning Up Social Security
  On the obfuscations that have been visited on us ("trustfund"), and on
  the effectiveness of privatization in Chile . . 213
Illegalizing Illegals
  On the pressures (benefits to employers; fear of political incorrectness)
  that have made it so hard to deal with illegal aliens . . 215
What We Lost at the Astor
  That is, any sense of the moral dimension of deficit spending . . 217
Post-Katrina Doublethought
  On the howling pack of journalists blaming Hurricane Katrina on the
  Bush administration . . 219

The Colossal Flunk . . 221
  On the failure of the professors to notice what the Soviets were really
  after, "total subjugation of the free world" . . 222
The End of McCarthy
  On the vile reactions, here and in Britain, to the death of Senator
  Joseph McCarthy . . 230
The Breakdown of the Intellectuals in Public Affairs
  On the intellectuals' refusal to acknowledge that a man may be a
  security risk without being guilty of a criminal offense . . 233
Peace and Pacifism
  On the profound difference between the two . . 240
What Happened?  
  Asserting that if Henry Kissinger had known Congress would not keep
  faith on Vietnam, he would never have initialed the Paris Accords . . 242
Who Is the Ugliest of Them All?
  On Lillian Hellman's book Scoundrel Time, which rehearses, with
  copious distortions, the persecution of herself and her lover, Dashiell
  Hammett, by the Redhunters . . 244
On Right and Wrong
  On the profound wrongness of moral equivalency as between the Soviet
  Union and the United States . . 255
What Did You Know? When?
  On Eugene Genovese's admitting that, yes, he knew long before he
  stated it publicly that Communism meant torture and death . . 257
Alger Hiss, R.I.P.
  On how Hiss spent his last five decades maintaining his innocence,
  and on those who continued, against all the evidence, to defend him . . 259
Howard Fast, R.I.P.
  If Howard Fast had been an ex-Nazi rather than an ex-Communist,
  the obituarists would not have treated him so gently . . 262

Wanda Landowska, R.I.P.
  A tribute to the brilliant interpreter—on piano, harpsichord, and
  clavichord—of Bach's "heavenly world of order and beauty" . . 266
Lindsay, Lincoln, and the GOP
  On New York mayoral candidate John Lindsay's attempts to co-opt
  Lincoln as a model for his own brand of "moderate" (i.e., very liberal) Republicanism . . 266
Thinking Back on Eleanor Roosevelt
  An obituary, of sorts, of this exemplar of "undifferentiated goodness"
  and foe of the syllogism . . 272
JFK, the Morning After
  The slain president deserves a period of "dignified mourning"—but
  the self-pitying "caterwauling" that is going on does not bode well for a
  strong, free America . . 274
Douglas MacArthur, Missing but Well Accounted For
  On the enduring grandeur of the embodiment oj duty, honor, country . . 276
Churchill in the Balance
  On the tremendous pity that Churchill did not mobilize his strength
  against the Soviets the way he had earlier done against the Nazis . . 277
Kenneth Tynan Says a Naughty Word
  On the very bright, ostentatiously iconoclastic British litterateur, who
  admires Fidel Castro but hopes "I never need to believe in God" . . 280
Evelyn Waugh, R.I.P.
  On the "master stylist," a "passionately convinced and convincing Christian" . . 282
Frank Chodorov, R.I.P.
  A personal reminiscence of a gentle, principled foe of collectivism . . 284
A Relaxing View of Ronald Reagan
  On the controversies stirred up during his first year as governor, and on
  the striking development of his personal strengths . . 289
John Dos Passos, R.I.P.
  On a great American novelist who had slipped off the literary A list
  when he identified the Communists as "the great evildoers of his time" . . 302
Lyndon Johnson, R.I.P.
  Focusing on the disasters of his conduct of the Vietnam War and of the
  Great Society, but also on the fact that he was a true patriot . . 305
Frank S. Meyer, R.I.P.
  A personal account of how the great conservative political philosopher
  finally conquered his scruples about joining the Catholic Church . . 306
Sadat and the People
  On the Egyptian statesman who sought peace with honor, and paid the price . . 309
Princess Grace, R.I.P.
  A loving tribute, noting the determination, hard work, and—well—
  grace of this lovely woman . . 310
Morrie Ryskind, R.I.P.
  On the master comic writer who was a victim of the other Hollywood
  blacklist—the one against anti-Communists . . 312
Theodore White, R.I.P.
  On the great chronicler of the twentieth century, who always welcomed
  "revised insights," whether about Mao Tse-tung or Barry Goldwater . . 314
Malcolm Muggeridge, R.I.P.
  On the English journalist who saw through Communism in the
  Thirties but took another forty years to come into the Catholic Church,
  where, finally, he radiated a serene grace . . 316
Richard Nixon, R.I.P.
  On the paradox of a man who sought political power most of his adult
  life, but found his true calling only when he was deprived of it . . 318
John Chamberlain, R.I.P.
  One of the twentieth century's most gifted journalists, characterized by
  the "combination of a gentle nature and a hard Yankee mind" . . 321
Remembering Russell Kirk
  On one of the greatest political philosophers of modern American
  conservatism, focusing on his understanding of the intertwining of
  permanence and change . . 325
The Ongoing Reagan
  On how-two years after his death, and twelve years after his
  withdrawal from the public scene—Reagan was "airborne as never
  before," as revealed in three new books . . 329
John Kenneth Galbraith, R.I.P.
  On the maddening mixture, in one of America's leading left-wing
  economists, of an obstinate devotion to misguided ideas, and a warm
  and generous personality . . 331
Patricia Taylor Buckley, R.I.P.
  A most personal reminiscence of a great lady . . 333

Israel to the Rescue of the United States
  On the startling reaction of left-wing, often pacifist American opinion
  makers to the Six-Day War . . 338
De Gaulle on America
  On the conviction of le grand Charles that America is through, and
  the reasons why he is wrong . . 340
Israeli Notes
  Pondering what Israel is: a modern nation-state? or the reincarnation
  of the Israel of Biblical times? . . 342
So What Is Wrong with Great Britain?
  Exploring how the real problem with the class structure is that it
  promotes envy and socialism . . 343
Reflections on the Departure of the Shah
  Analysis of how the ayatollahs' revolt came about, with a sense that the
  Iranians may be getting more than they bargained for . . 346
Margaret Is My Darling
  On Mrs. Thatcher's becoming prime minister, with reflections on the
  awful situation she faces . . 348
Kennan's Bomb
  George Kennan would declare war against Iran, upon the seizing of the
  hostages—and he is right . . 350
Mrs. Thatcher Stays the Course
  By holding firm on domestic and foreign policy, Mrs. Thatcher roused
  British public opinion and led the Conservatives to victory . . 352
  On the well-intentioned but harmful new regulation making it more
  difficult for Cuban-Americans to assist relatives who remain prisoners
  of Castro . . 354
French Despair
  On the paralyzing strikes in France in reaction to the First
  Employment Contract, and the valiant effort by Jean-Philippe Cotis of
  the OECD to explain why flexibility in employment is good . . 355

Hate America
  On a 1967 Partisan Review symposium, notably including Susan
  Sontag on the white race as "the cancer of human history" . . 360
Are the Rioters Racists?
  On the motivations of the black rioters, and the overt incitements by
  such as H. Rap Brown to "tear down the white man" . . 361
The End of Martin Luther King
  Analyzing the commentary on his death in the light of his commitment
  as a Christian minister, but also of his wilder public statements . . 363
The Kids in Chicago
  On the young rioters who sought to close down the 1968 Democratic Convention . . 366
The Neglected Notebooks of Sirhan Sirhan
  From which we learn that far more than a Jordanian anti-Zionist, he
  was a committed Communist who hated the United States . . 368
  In reaction to Lieutenant Calley's conviction far the My Lai massacre,
  too many Americans regard him as a scapegoat . . 369
Impeach Justice Douglas?
  Not for his emanations and penumbras, but because, having sworn to
  uphold the Constitution, he counsels the Kids to rebellion . . 371

Reflections on the Failure of National Review to Live Up to Liberal Expectations
  Refuting three early liberal attacks, most famously Dwight Macdonald's
  "Scrambled Eggheads on the Right" in Commentary . . 376
Freedom to Cross Central Park
  On the role moral relativism has played in a startling upsurge in
  youthful gang violence in New York City . . 387
What to Do about Sloppy Dress? Forbid It
  On the pusillanimity of university administrations and the misuses of
  appeals to "democracy" . . 389
Do They Really Hate to Hate?
  On the accusations, flung by supposedly responsible people on the Left,
  that JFK's assassination sprang from right-wing "hate" . . 391
Boys Will Be Heroes
  On the boyish zest for adventure that often goes with real courage . . 393
How I Discovered That Rock Is Here to Stay
  On being forced, finally, to accept a melancholy musical fact . . 395
Arthur Schlesinger Jr. at Camelot
  A memo released under the Freedom of Information Act shows that
  JFK's boys had the same devotion to veracity as Nixon's—just with a
  different result . . 398
Lying: A Quick Lesson
  What if Kennedy had taken Schlesinger's advice? . . 399
Fun and Games
  On being on the Merv Griffin show with a sweet young thing who
  produces and directs hard-core porn films . . 401
Black Thought, Black Talk
  On Senator Edward Kennedy's description, "withered in distortion and
  malice," of Robert Bork's America . . 403
On Learning from Other Cultures
  On the difference between people who seriously study other cultures,
  and those for whom "multiculturalism" is merely a way to show
  contempt for America and the West . . 405
Causing Tears
  On the elder President Bush's recalling how he and Barbara prayed the
  night before he ordered young men into battle in the Gulf War . . 407
Chins Up! Be Personly!
  On the depredations against language in the early days of political correctness . . 409
Life in the Nineties
  On the problems of increased longevity, with vignettes of four
  nonagenarians who have outlived their strength . . 411
The People Aren't Always Right
  On the yawning lack of interest in President Clinton's sexual behavior
  and his lying about it under oath . . 413
Royal Pastimes
  On Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles tying the knot, with the
  question, What part of the Faith is the Crown currently defending? . . 415
KO by Michael
  On the failure of a jury to convict Michael Jackson for behavior that
  would have aroused horror just a couple of decades ago . . 417
So Help Us Darwin
  On Darwinist absolutism and the controversy over "intelligent design" . . 419

The Catholic in the Modern World: A Conservative View
  On liberal Catholics' identifying with liberals rather than with Catholics . . 422
The End of the Latin Mass
  Examining, from a very personal point of view, the changes following
  Vatican II, and concluding that "the new liturgy is the triumph, yea
  the resurrection, of the Philistines" . . 429
  On the Beatles and other Western folk who turn their backs on
  their Christian heritage and flock to India in search of "Spiritual Experience" . . 434
The Bishops and the War
  In the matter of Vietnam, Carry Wills, the Berrigans, and some of the
  American bishops, as against St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas . . 435
Chuck Colson and Christianity
  On the disbelief that greeted Colson's conversion post-Watergate, and
  the more general feeling that discovering Jesus Christ is not a cool thing to do . . 437
Death of a Christian
  On the soaring final words of Charles Pinckney Luckey, who, although
  suffering the horrors of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, refused to spurn
  God's gift of life . . 439
The Prophet
  Pope John Paul II's first return to Poland brings to mind the way his
  mentor, Cardinal Wyszynski, dealt with the Communists . . 441
Is There a God behind Religion?
  On the reticence of Christians in public life about saying that, yes, they
  believe that Jesus Christ is divine . . 443
Buggery in Church
  On the terrible wrong committed by priests who abuse altar boys; but
  also on the necessity to "detach the sinner from the faith" . . 445
Bloody Passion
  On the unremitting violence of the Mel Gibsonfilm, which nonetheless
  manages to be moving. But Bach did it better . . 447
A Farewell
  To Pope John Paul II, "the most radiant face on the public scene" . . 448

  On the day the Berlin Watt came tumbliri down . . 452
The End of the Cold War
  On the breakup of the Soviet empire, including reflections on what
  America and our allies might have done to make it happen earlier . . 453
The Abandonment of the Kurds
  On how, after the dazzling victory in the Gulf War, President Bush has
  thrown it away by not pursuing Saddam to Baghdad . . 456
It's the Other Things Too, Stupid!
  On the newly inaugurated President Clinton's cluelessness in facing a
  world full of trade wars, genocidal wars, and civil wars . . 458
Is Multiculturalism the Answer?
  On how multiculturalist assumptions unfit us for dealing with the
  phenomenon of Muslim fundamentalism . . 460
Defend America?
  On Congress's abject failure to face the importance of missile defense,
  even in a post-Soviet age . . 462
Finding Honor in Abu Ghraib
  The "corporate revulsion" in America makes it clear that the soldiers
  who misused Muslim prisoners were not following U.S. policy . . 464
Bushspeak in Europe
  On the bracing candor of President George W. Bush in dealing with
  post-Cold War Russia . . 465
Next-Day Thoughts in Britain
  After the 7/7 bombings in the London Transit system, thoughts about
  the difficulty of instituting pre-emptive security measures, and on the
  need for moderate Muslim voices to break through . . 467
Hitting Iran
  On the difficulty—but necessity—of preventing Iran from acquiring
  nuclear weapons . . 469
Duty, Honor, Country
  Looking at Iraq 2007 through the lens of Vietnam 1973-75,
  reflection on the people we abandoned back then . . 471

Beethoven's Two-Hundredth
  A reply to the statement by provocateur extraordinaire William F.
  Rickenbacker that he would ban all of early Beethoven . . 474
Reflections on Skiing
  On the difficulties of learning to ski as an adult, ending with a lapidary
  reflection on the "natural rhythm" of the sport . . 476
The Ocean Race of William Snaith
  On an account of a race from Bermuda to Sweden by "the most
  infuriating, exacting, hedonistic, sadistic, competitive, engaging
  captain in the Atlantic fleet" . . 479
David Niven Recreates Hollywood
  On Niven's Bring On the Empty Horses, a brilliant, self-effacing,
  empathetic evocation of a fantastic era in the movie capital . . 482
Just to Say Thanks
  To George Washington Carver, that is, who promoted the peanut, and
  thus made possible peanut butter . . 485
Goldberg Divined
  On the decision by the great harpsichordist Fernando Valenti,
  upon learning that he had terminal cancer, to record the Goldberg Variations . . 487
  On the importance of piety, toward one's country and toward God and
  on the temptations to impiety . . 488

ENVOI . . 491
The Patrimony and Civic Obligation
  A philosophical look at what we owe to those who came before us,
  those who surround us, and those who will come after us—moving
  from J.S. Bach to the common root of the words "conservation" and "conservative" . . 492

Index . . 497