The Canadian Commonwealth eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 231 pages of information about The Canadian Commonwealth.
fixed and inelastic for modern conditions.  They sometimes wonder how certain famous constitutional lawyers could make a living without the American Constitution to interpret and argue before the Supreme Court, but Americans and Canadians are to-day working out from different angles a great world experiment in self-government.  It remains to be seen which experiment will stand the stress of world-convulsing changes.  We need not theorize.  Time will arbitrate.

CHAPTER XIV

THE LIFE OF THE PEOPLE

I

Some one has said that the life of a nation is but the shadow of the units composing it; or the life of a nation is but the replica of the life of the individuals in it.  Massed figures on gross exports are but the total thrift of a multitude of toiling men.  Wheat production to feed a hungry empire is but one farmer’s tireless vigilance multiplied by hundreds of thousands of other farmers.  What manner of man is the Canadian behind all these figures attesting material prosperity?  What manner of being is the Canadian woman, his partner?  Is the Canadian a Socialist, or an Individualist?  Does he believe that each man should stand upon his own feet or lean upon a state crutch?  There is no state church in Canada.  Then, what part does religion play?  Is it a shadow, or a substance?  Is it a refuge for the unfit and the weak to shift the responsibility for their own failure to the fatalism of the will of God; or is religion a terrible and dynamic force that compels right for right’s sake independent of compromise?  How does the Canadian live in his home?  Is he beer-drinking, lethargic, dreamy and flabby in will power; or is he whisky-drinking, fiery, practical and pugnacious?  Why hasn’t he a distinctive literature, a distinctive art?  Nature never was more lavish to any people in beautiful landscape from the quiet rural scenery of the maritime provinces, Quebec and Ontario, to the far-flung epic of the fenceless prairies and the Homeric grandeur of the mountains.  Why are quiet rural beauty and illimitable freedom and lofty splendor not reflected in poem and novel and ballad and picture?  The Canadian may answer—­We go in more for athletics than aesthetics:  we are living literature, not writing it.  In our snow-covered prairies edged by the violet mist, lined in silver and pricked at night by the diamond light of a million stars, we are living art, not painting it.  That our mountains are dumb and inarticulate, that our forests chant the litany of the pines untranslated to the winds of heaven, and that our cataracts thunder their diapasons inimitable to art—­is no proof that though we are dumb and inarticulate, we are not lifted and transported and inspired by the wondrous beauties of the heritage God has given us.  The Canadian may say this theoretically, but is he strengthened in body and made greater in soul by the mystic splendors

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The Canadian Commonwealth from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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