The Hildebrand Project has lost a great friend and ally with the passing of Sir Roger Scruton. Sir Roger was a frequent collaborator in our work, having written forewords for My Battle Against Hitler and for Aesthetics Volume II, as well as giving two public lectures, gracing salon evenings, and participating in many planning conversations. Both of his lectures are available on our YouTube channel: Beauty and Desecration and Beauty in a World of Ugliness.
Below, the staff and scholars of the Hildebrand Project share some of their personal thoughts and remembrances of the great Sir Roger Scruton.
May he rest in peace.
John Henry Crosby:
The news of Sir Roger Scruton’s death hit me hard, much harder than I would have expected. Yes, I had the privilege of befriending Roger in the last six years of his life. He was generous both to me personally and to the Hildebrand Project, to which he contributed his extraordinary gifts as a writer and speaker.
But the ache I felt upon learning of his death was due to more than the loss of a true friend and vital public figure. I felt the loss of one of those rare people whose very presence in the world, perpetually renewed through a veritable river of books, lectures, and interviews, granted me a deep solace.
This was someone who wrote not just about conservative ideas but about concrete realities like place and home; someone who not only celebrated the arts but saw how much the soul is nourished by beauty; someone who keenly felt the human condition, our need for redemption and reconciliation, and sought, and shared with us all, the consolations he found. May he rest in peace. And may he enjoy the ultimate consolation and joy.
I was deeply impressed by Roger’s personality and his forceful defense of the values of British culture and western civilization. He had roots and was conscious of the importance of contrasting the growing rootlessness and dislocation of our times. He was deeply convinced that people need to belong to a community and to a tradition: they constitute their identity and personality exactly through the recognition of this belonging. Individual creativity is always a result of a deep reflection on and of a reformulation of the tradition one belongs to.
John F. Crosby:
Roger Scruton was was a prophet of beauty, able to distinguish beauty from kitsch like no one else could. We suffer a great loss at his death, but we will not forget the truth that he proclaimed.
Christopher T. Haley
I consider it one of the great joys of my life that I got to know and work with the incomparable Sir Roger Scruton. He was a legend while still alive—in the great British tradition of Burke, Ruskin, and Chesterton—and will surely join their pantheon in his death.
The world is only gifted such a prophet once or twice a century, if we’re lucky; and like any good prophet, he received a rough welcome at home. Despite that, Sir Roger worked, wrote, and lived to make others feel at home, at home in the world of beauty and among the riches of our cultural heritage, at home spiritually and intellectually during an age when reason has run for the hills. To be with Roger was to be with a world, and to be welcomed and at home in that world.
He was known and loved—and hated—as a critic and a curmudgeon. But he wasn’t like that. He never fought foolishness, ugliness, or wickedness for the fun of the fight, but he sought to clear them away to make way for truth, beauty, and love. Conversations with Roger were never despairing, but always full of hope. Whatever the situation was, Roger would find something funny, true, and hopeful about it. Professionally and personally he knew more about ugliness than almost anyone, but never failed to find the beautiful, to protect and nurture it, to celebrate and share it.
He will be deeply missed, and his legacy will be cherished. But he touched the lives of so many people, many of them young people, enthused them with hope and entrusted to them a whole library of books, that I am convinced we’ve only begun to see the real impact of his life’s work.
I hope you’ll join me now, whenever you’re reading this, and open your best bottle of wine to pour a toast for the life of this remarkable man and say a prayer for the repose of his soul. Cheers to you, Sir Roger! May you rest in peace.