Kay Clarity, friend of Dappled Things, recently sent me an email asking if I was interested in hearing about the time she wrote a letter to Sir Roger Scruton. I most certainly was, especially once she told me that he actually wrote back. What follows is her description of what happens when you write a letter to Scruton. Kay is a talented musician and has also written a song in his honor that she is graciously sharing with us. Take listen and enjoy a bit of beauty today.
I recently wrote a simple song to honour the life of Sir Roger Scruton. For a man dedicated to the heights of civilization, it is certainly not Bach or Michaelangelo, but I have reason to believe the man himself would be happy to hear it.
In late 2010, I naively sent an email to him, as often only the brazen young do. I had no specific goal in mind beyond the idea that I was grateful for his work which had deeply influenced me and my songwriting work, and would welcome his even distant support.
He kindly replied. In so doing, he taught me that the world was fundamentally kind, and that truly great minds rarely consider it lowly to engage with fledgling ones, and that it was valuable and rewarding to take small risks.
We wrote back and forth a (very) small amount, and eventually I mailed him a copy of my earliest album to his home in the English countryside.
It was a few years before I reached out again, this time with a desire to update him on my development as an artist and to open the door to sending my 2017 album, which I then did.
In response, he mailed a simple but personal, encouraging handwritten letter.
I have confidence I have kept that letter somewhere safe, but I move a lot and I do not have access just now to the places I might have put it for safe keeping. I knew it was valuable, but could not have known it was the last correspondence I would receive, and that I along with many others would watch with sadness the somewhat sudden ending of his legacy in January of this year when he passed away from cancer.
A cliched product of my electronic millennial generation, I’m embarrassed to say that I’m not even sure now that I ever got around to actually returning a physical letter, although I emailed immediately to tell him I would, and that I had so appreciated his words.
I cannot reference his letter exactly in his words without finding it, but it occurs to me I am glad I cannot. Its replication seems a violation of something sacred, even if simple. But he said something to the effect of my songs and poetry giving him hope in a world that was seeming less hopeful—a compliment I will always hold dear. To have given one of the world’s greatest defenders of beauty a small sparkle of hope!—a true honour, and of the sweetest kind.
In the last two years before the end of his life, Scruton was unjustly made a target by radical ideologues a la Alinskian tactics (Rule #12). Although I do not doubt he handled the adversity admirably, I cannot help but think that the physical stress of what he went through contributed to the crumbling of his health, although it is perhaps irresponsible to muse. But the potential effect of psychological distress on the body of a kind and beautifully affective man should not go unacknowledged.
I share this wistful story and accompanying song as one small reparation for the attacks on his character he suffered in a world so unappreciative of authentic kindness, intelligence, courage, and truth—although surely my voice is immediately drowned out by the chorus of others who have rightly sung his praises. His adversaries tried to take down a man who, while having untold important things to tend to, did not consider it below him to take time to encourage a young, unknown artist for no reason but generosity.
So often, as Socrates rightly predicted, we crucify the just man. This piece is not a canonization, but an acknowledgement of what I knew to be remarkable and generous humanity. Like many other great men before him, may his work long outlive his earthly time and bear much fruit.
Here is “Dear Roger.”