The Imperialist eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 394 pages of information about The Imperialist.
with at birth.  It all lay outside the facts of life, far beyond the actual horizon, like the affairs of a distant relation from whom one has nothing to hope, not even personal contact, and of whose wealth and greatness one does not boast much, because of the irony involved.  Information upon all these matters was duly put before Elgin every morning in the telegrams of the Toronto papers; the information came, until the other day, over cables to New York and was disseminated by American news agencies.  It was, therefore, not devoid of bias; but if this was perceived it was by no means thought a matter for protesting measures, especially as they would be bound to involve expense.  The injury was too vague, too remote, to be more than sturdily discounted by a mental attitude.  Belief in England was in the blood, it would not yield to the temporary distortion of facts in the newspapers—­at all events, it would not yield with a rush.  Whether there was any chance of insidious sapping was precisely what the country was too indifferent to discover.  Indifferent, apathetic, self-centred—­until whenever, down the wind, across the Atlantic, came the faint far music of the call to arms.  Then the old dog of war that has his kennel in every man rose and shook himself, and presently there would be a baying!  The sense of kinship, lying too deep for the touch of ordinary circumstance, quickened to that; and in a moment “we” were fighting, “we” had lost or won.

Apart, however, from the extraordinary, the politics of Elgin’s daily absorption were those of the town, the Province, the Dominion.  Centres of small circumference yield a quick swing; the concern of the average intelligent Englishman as to the consolidation of his country’s interests in the Yangtse Valley would be a languid manifestation beside that of an Elgin elector in the chances of an appropriation for a new court house.  The single mind is the most fervid:  Elgin had few distractions from the question of the court house or the branch line to Clayfield.  The arts conspired to be absent; letters resided at the nearest university city; science was imported as required, in practical improvements.  There was nothing, indeed, to interfere with Elgin’s attention to the immediate, the vital, the municipal:  one might almost read this concentration of interest in the white dust of the rambling streets, and the shutters closed against it.  Like other movements of the single mind, it had something of the ferocious, of the inflexible, of the unintelligent; but it proudly wore the character of the go-ahead and, as Walter Winter would have pointed out to you, it had granted eleven bonuses to “capture” sound commercial concerns in six years.

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The Imperialist from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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