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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 277 pages of information about Essays in Rebellion.
would no longer raise their wail over national degeneracy or the need of maintaining the standard of hardihood by barrack-square drill.  As things are now, it is themselves who chiefly need the drill.  “Those who live at ease,” said Professor James, “are an island on a stormy ocean.”  In the summing up of the nation they, in their security, would hardly count, were they not so vocal; but the molten iron, the flaming mine, the whirling machine, the engulfing sea, and hunger always at the door take care that, for all but a very few among the people, the discipline of danger and perpetual effort shall not be wanting.  You do not find the pitman, the dustman, or the bargee puling for bayonet exercise to make them hard, and if our nervous gentlemen were all serving the State in those capacities, they might even approach their addition sums in “Dreadnoughts” without a tremor.  Besides, as Professor James added for a final inducement, the women would value them more highly.

XVI

THE LAST OF THE RUNNYMEDES

The high debate was over, and Lord Runnymede issued from the House, proud in his melancholy, like a garrison withdrawing from a fortress with colours flying and all the honours of war.  He had sent a messenger (he called him an “orderly”) for his carriage.  He might have telephoned, but he disliked the Board-School voice that said “Number, please!” and he still more disliked the idea of a coachman speaking down a tube (as he imagined it) into his ear.  Not that he was opposed to inventions, or the advance of science as such.  He recognised the necessity of progress, and had not openly reproached his own sister when she instituted a motor in place of her carriage.  But for himself the two dark bays were waiting—­heads erect, feet firmly planted on the solid earth.  For he loved horses, and the Runnymede stables maintained the blood of King Charles’s importations from Arabian chivalry.  Besides, what manners, what sense, could be expected of a chauffeur, occupied with oily wheels and engines, instead of living things and corn?

Some of the small crowd standing about the gate recognised him as he came out, and one called his name and said “What ho!” For his appearance was fairly well known through political caricatures, which usually represented him in plate-armour, holding a spear, and wearing a coat-of-arms.  He had once instructed his secretary to write privately to an editor pointing out that the caricaturist had committed a gross error in heraldry; but in his heart he rather enjoyed the pictures, and it was the duty of one of his maids to stick them into a scrap-book, inscribed with the proper dates, for the instruction and entertainment of his descendants.  In fact, he had lately been found showing the book to a boy of three, who picked out his figure by its long nose, and said “Granpa!” with unerring decision.

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