Page:The imperial peace; an ideal in European history.djvu/24

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
The Imperial Peace

The point at which I am aiming is to answer the question, whether national idiosyncrasy and national pride are necessarily hostile to the union of two or more distinct races. Speaking for my own side, I should be surprised to learn that as a race the Scots are less proud of their nationality and its heroes, or less attached to their historical memories, than they ever were at any period in the past. I believe they are only more intensely Scottish, as a rule, than they formerly were.

The truth is this. The more intense is the spirit of nationalism in its highest and best form, the more powerful is the appreciation of the wider Imperial patriotism. In the fostering of that Imperial patriotism the worst possible course would be to discourage and try to extirpate the national idiosyncrasies, and to aim at a dead level of universal similarity to one general type. The truest Scotsman, the most characteristic and typical Englishman, is the best and most patriotic citizen of the Empire. Each may find it difficult to appreciate the other. If I may venture to quote my own experience, the most remarkable nature, the one which I have found it hardest to gauge or to comprehend, the one which oftenest impresses me with its unsuspected and unfathomed depths, is not that of any foreign, nor even Oriental nation, but the Englishman. And they say that the Englishman can never learn to appreciate the music of the Scottish bagpipes, except in a few cases where he has heard it in the last and most critical moment of a long and hard-fought battle. The story is familiar to all of the old Scot who, after forty-five years of a business life in London, confided sadly yet appreciatively to a young compatriot that it took a long time to learn how clever those stupid English are. He learned his lesson, however, and his respect grew.