I came to Stratford’s work too late, but better late than never. He was one of the few men since Russell Kirk who really knew what a liberal education was all about, and who could show what he saw to others.

There are a few people in the cold Gobi Desert of academe who hold to something like a liberal education because they see its political utility, and they are right to believe that a healthy civilization requires the remembrance of what the wisest among us have had to say about the human condition. They read Thucydides, Petrarch, and Marcus Aurelius for profit.

Stratford Caldecott transcends them all, because, unlike them, he was in love with beauty and goodness, and so he could read and teach others to read Cicero not so much to learn about wise political action, as to learn about being human—or as Kirk puts it, being virtuous, being a man. He would never say that we should read history lest we repeat it, but that we should immerse ourselves in the wonder of creation and of that human creation we call art, so that we might lean towards the divine, as flowers lean towards the sun. In this sense he stands with Plato, Sidney, Johnson, Coleridge, Ruskin, Eliot, Lewis, and Kirk; a worthy battalion, against all the dreary utilitarians who have transformed our schools into ghastly and largely incompetent training centers.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat super eum.

—Anthony Esolen



Touchstone published three of his essays. The first, Speaking the Truths Only the Imagination May Grasp, had been planned as lead essay in a new volume of classic Touchstone articles, Creed & Culture II. Caldecott was the author of many books; his last: Not As the World Gives.