Historians long for solitude, and find it in the dead calm of diachronic retrospection, a zone in which there is movement but no will (and perhaps even the movement is but a series of pictures).

The conclusion that I draw from this speculation is that a tyrant is not so much of a misanthrope as is a scholar; which is, perhaps, something that we already knew, for is it not obvious that in exercising the human will to power the tyrant is communing with those he subjects; whereas the scholar wishes only to have business with the marks that living people leave behind. To the tyrant, a person is just a "mark" in the sense used by criminals, the man is a target, a source of income of whatever kind; but to the historical mind a man is only a mark in a still more depleted sense.

The point is simple: a scholar of history who writes in loathing of the cruelties of the past may have less in common with the oppressed of his own time than does the oppressor, but only where the oppressor is one person. Perhaps that is why historians and not only historians are so prone to nostalgia for the warm humanity of an individual tyrant. – The bureaucratic dictator is altogether too much like the historian himself.