Sunday, December 17, 2006

Foreign Lands #13, White Man's Burden #3

I am ... chiefly attracted by the aesthetic of empire: its feel, its look, its human passions, the metaphysics of its power, the sense of it, the intuition--its ships too, and its horsemen, and the dust of its high veld, and its distant trains streaming across the Punjab plain: and paramount for me in this jumble of suggestions is a sense of alter ego--as though the British had another people inside themselves, very different from the people that Dickens or Cobden portrayed, who learned to break out of their sad and prosaic realities, and live more brilliant lives in Xanadu.

Jan Morris, Heaven's Command: An Imperial Progress (1973)