sanctity. The New Left sage of that era was a haloed beingnin a priestless age — an age hungry for faith but incapable ofnfaith in anything beyond the stars. The religious analogy isnin some way uncomfortably accurate: by the 1970’s thenNew Left was as quarrelsome in its internal relations as thenearly Church. Williams suffered from such quarrels, some ofnwhich were severely personal. Others were principled, as innhis genuine horror of drugs, which he always refused toncountenance, or his views about sex, which may be assumednto have been similarly old-fashioned since he was a goodnfamily man. “They have made a false connection,” he oncentold me sadly of his followers when they refused to work fornthe local Labour candidate unless he pledged to support thenlegalization of pot. Drugs make for acquiescence, henexplained, and are therefore socially conservative. I thoughtnthis one of his better arguments, and we were more oftennin agreement than either of us expected or sought. Therenwere some positions he would not yield—not even fornpopularity.nNonetheless, popularity, even sainthood, was plainly thengoal of his professional life.nPerhaps my most vivid memory of him was his sitting withnraised hand at a departmental meeting in about 1968, whenna motion inane even by the standards of the time was underndiscussion. Alone among senior members he supportednit—^ because the young did—and when his hand alonenwent up in its favor he turned to them with a defiantnexpression that said only one thing: “I, and I alone, am onnyour side.” That was before the internecine era of the NewnLeft had begun, and before his life had been saddened bynthe drift of student opinion away from revolution in the earlyn1970’s, even from reform. He had been the Pied Piper ofnHamelin, for a brief and heady instant, and he had loved it.nBut the Pied Piper of the old story led the young into a cavenwhere they disappeared—all but one who was lame andnone who was blind—and in the Children’s Crusade of 1212nthose who reached the sea were sold into slavery to thenMoors. Nothing as dramatic as that happened to thenacolytes of the New Left. They vanished, indeed, but notninto slavery. They have comfortable jobs. Williams’ influence,nbefore it faded, was not vicious. It even stretched tonthe United States, where he publicly declined a rich post atnan eastern university — I remember his eyes watering withndesire as he spoke of the salary and free secretarial help thatnmight have been his — on the grounds that he would notnlive in a nation fighting the Vietcong. For years he wasnLondon correspondent of The Nation. He lectured atnBremen University, too, notoriously the most Marxistninstitution of higher learning in the German Federal Republic.nForget what followed, then. He had his day.nHe never lost faith. But his faith, or succession of faiths,nbecame progressively harder to maintain, even to a mindnalways more convenient than rigorous. He had moved fromnthe Communist Party to F.R. Leavis to the fierce but faintlynnebulous nonparty Marxisms of the New Left, and so to annincreasingly abstract belief in “structures of feeling” — thenphase, derivative as it was, was one he always claimed as hisnown — and on to ever more abstract forms of culturalnhistory, weak on fact but full of vague and virtuousnimaginings. Though a professor he was never exactly anscholar, and one cannot easily imagine him with a learnednPoemnby Walter Albert MahlernNever go home in the winter, friend,nwhen your roving days are done.nGo home in the spring with the lilacsnand the warmth of a noonday sun.nNever go home to a world grown greynin the blast of the winter’s gale,nwhen the earth is a hard and stubborn thingnand men walk stiff and pale.nNever go home in the winter, friend,nwhen the skies are a leaden pall.nGo home in the spring with the lilacsnor never go home at all.njournal in his hand or an archive at his fingertips, so that thenusual tests of academic merit seem irrelevant to his case. Hisntone was moral, not factual. He was a sage and a prophet.nBut his contradictions remain, a fascinating exercise forninquiry. A prophet of rural values, he would drive into thenmiddle of Cambridge to walk in the city botanical gardens,nsince he found them more agreeable than the countrysidenaround his village home. I never saw him walk, at least far,nand he once told me wonderingly that he had never drivennthrough Cambridge without seeing me on foot there. It wasnright of him to feel puzzled that the Marxian analysis ofnbourgeois values fails to fit my own case, but I do not knownthat he ever troubled to consider that it also failed to fit his.nHis disdain for Trilling revealed a deeper contradiction. Itnis this: If, as he claimed in his 1966 review of Trilling, therencan be no separation between mind and culture — if allnmind is the creature of the culture that made it — then it isnnot an objection to Trilling’s view, or any other, to say that itncan offer no rational explanation of itself. No view could, ifnthat were true. The terms of individualist philosophynseemed hopelessly self-contradictory to Williams, but thencontradiction was his and not theirs. “Every attempt tonrationalize them, to alter the superficial terms, only prolongsnthe illusion,” as he put it grandly, calling for a “rationalndiscourse of sustained argument” in favor of civilization. Butnall that is self-refuting. For if no mind can be separated fromnits culture, then the rational argument that Williams demanded,nbeing itself a product of mind, could not benseparated. And if it is an objection to an argument to say thatnit cannot be separated from the culture that sustained andnmade it, then it is an objection to all the arguments thatnthere are or could ever be. Including Marxism, of course,nwhich arose out of the highly special culture of the earlynindustrial revolution in Europe. If all ideologies are false,nthen Marxism is false. But Williams believed that allnideologies are false, and that Marxism is true.nBut then it was the hallmark of the New Left world, nownremote enough to be identified and delimited, that it madenfor easy arguments and encouraged a retreat from debatenwhen debate grew too hard to bear.nnnJULY 1988/ 17n