Collingwood - THE IDEA OF HISTORY BY R G COLLINGWOOD OXFORD...

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THE IDEA OF HISTORY BY R. G. COLLINGWOOD OXFORD AT THE CLARENDON PRESS
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266 EPILEGOMENA providing a focus for emotions and in consequence an incentive to action. In other cases they have had an amusement value, not without its function in the life of a jaded scissors-and-paste man. And the delusion was not complete. The hope that scissors- and-paste history would one day be replaced by a new kind of history that should be genuinely scientific was a well-grounded hope, which has in fact been realized. The hope that this new kind of history would enable the historian to know things that his authorities could not or would not tell him was also well grounded, and has also been fulfilled. How these things have happened, we shall very soon see. (vii) Who killed John Doe? When John Doe was found, early one Sunday morning, lying across his desk with a dagger through his back, no one expected that the question who did it would be settled by means of testimony. It was not likely that anyone saw the murder being done. It was even less likely that someone in the murderer ' s confidence would give him away. It was least likely of all that the murderer would walk into the village police-station and denounce himself. In spite of this, the public demanded that he should be brought to justice, and the police had hopes of doing it ; though the only clue was a little fresh green paint on the handle of the dagger, like the fresh green paint on the iron gate between John Doe's garden and the rector's. This was not because they hoped that, in time, testimony would be forthcoming. On the contrary, when it did come, in the shape of a visit from an elderly neighbouring spinster assert- ing that she killed John Doe with her own hand because he had made a dastardly attempt upon her virtue, even the village constable (not an exceptionally bright lad, but kindly) advised her to go home and have some aspirin. Later in the day the village poacher came along and said that he had seen the squire's gamekeeper climbing in at John Doe's study window ; testimony which was treated with even less deference. Finally the rector ' s daughter, in a state of great agitation, rushed in and said she had done it herself ; the only effect of which was to make the village constable ring up the local Inspector and remind him that the girl's young man, Richard Roe, was a medical student, HISTORICAL EVIDENCE 267 and presumably knew where to find a man's heart ; and that he had spent Saturday night at the rectory, within a stone ' s throw of the dead man ' s house. There had been a thunderstorm that night, with heavy rain, between twelve and one ; and the Inspector, when he questioned the rectory parlour-maid (for the living was a good one), was told that Mr. Roe's shoes had been very wet in the morning. Questioned, Richard admitted having gone out in the middle of
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This note was uploaded on 09/08/2010 for the course HIST 99 at San Jose State.

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Collingwood - THE IDEA OF HISTORY BY R G COLLINGWOOD OXFORD...

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