Page:A Voice from the Nile, and Other Poems. (Thomson, Dobell).djvu/39

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xxviii
Memoir.

perhaps have been regularly engaged upon that paper; but leader-writing to order was by no means to his taste.

In 1872 he became secretary to a company which was formed to work an American silver mine. In this capacity he was sent out to America by the shareholders to report upon the prospects of their speculation. There he discovered that the shareholders had been deluded into purchasing an utterly unsound concern, so that his mission and his situation as secretary came to an end together. His general verdict upon the Americans is well expressed in the following extract from a letter to a friend which he wrote while there:—

"I think we must forgive the Americans a good deal of vulgarity and arrogance for some generations yet. They are intoxicated with their vast country and its vaster prospects. Besides, we of the old country have sent them for years past, and are still sending them, our half-starved and ignorant millions. The Americans of the War of Independence were really a British race, and related to the old country as a Greek colony to its mother city or state. But the Americans of to-day are only a nation in that they instinctively adore their union. All the heterogeneous ingredients are seething in the cauldron with plenty of scum and air bubbles atop. In a century or two they may get stewed down into homogeneity—a really wholesome and dainty dish, not to be set before a king though, I fancy. I resisted the impression of the mere material vastitude as long as possible, but found its influence growing on me week by week: for it implies such vast possibilities of moral and intellectual expansion. They are starting over here