Correspondence

A Valediction for Enoch Powell

Enoch Powell is dead, and it is as if a hill has suddenly vanished from the horizon. British life, conservative life, political philosophy, economic philosophy, classicism, Biblical studies, and learning generally are all the poorer for the death of this English original. Powell was a man of many contradictions—classicist and romantic, patriot and imperialist, politician and moral arbiter, Englishman and Briton, gentleman and populist, soldier and philosopher, public spender and monetarist, man of impulse and man of reflection, introvert and weeper-in-public—who vet represented unchanging truths and steadiness of purpose to his devoted followers. "Enigmatic" was the polite word used by those on the left who hated his views but could not bring themselves to hate the man, but it is a quite useful signification for all that.

J. Enoch Powell was born in Birmingham on June 16, 1912, during a thunderstorm —a suitably Wagnerian beginning to an heroical life. The son of two schoolteachers, he could read by the age of three and was soon nicknamed "the Professor." As a boy he was always reserved, to the point of seeming distant and withdrawn. He was called "scowly Powelly" by his colleagues, although later in life he insisted that he had been just like a normal boy at least some of the time. "I hesitate to recollect the depredations committed [by himself, when a schoolboy] against the rolling...

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