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Marching Men

CHAPTER VI.4
It is difficult not to be of two minds about the manifestation now called, and
perhaps rightly, "The Madness of the Marching Men." In one mood it comes back
to the mind as something unspeakably big and inspiring. We go each of us
through the treadmill of our lives caught and caged like little animals in some vast
menagerie. In turn we love, marry, breed children, have our moments of blind
futile passion and then something happens. All unconsciously a change creeps
over us. Youth passes. We become shrewd, careful, submerged in little things.
Life, art, great passions, dreams, all of these pass. Under the night sky the
suburbanite stands in the moonlight. He is hoeing his radishes and worrying
because the laundry has torn one of his white collars. The railroad is to put on an
extra morning train. He remembers that fact heard at the store. For him the night
becomes more beautiful. For ten minutes longer he can stay with the radishes
each morning. There is much of man's life in the figure of the suburbanite
standing absorbed in his own thoughts in the midst of his radishes.
And so about the business of our lives we go and then of a sudden there comes
again the feeling that crept over us all in the year of the Marching Men. In a
moment we are again a part of the moving mass. The old religious exaltation,
strange emanation from the man McGregor, returns. In fancy we feel the earth
tremble under the feet of the men --the marchers. With a conscious straining of
the mind we strive to grasp the processes of the mind of the leader during that
year when men sensed his meaning, when they saw as he saw the workers--saw
them massed and moving through the world.
My own mind, striving feebly to follow that greater and simpler mind, gropes
about. I remember sharply the words of a writer who said that men make their
own gods and realise that I myself saw something of the birth of such a god. For
he was near to being a god then--our McGregor. The thing he did rumbles in the
minds of men yet. His long shadow will fall across men's thoughts for ages. The
tantalising effort to understand his meaning will tempt us always into endless
speculation.
Only last week I met a man--he was a steward in a club and lingered talking to
me by a cigar case in an empty billiard-room--who suddenly turned away to
conceal from me two large tears that had jumped into his eyes because of a kind
of tenderness in my voice at the mention of the Marching Men.
Another mood comes. It may be the right mood. I see sparrows jumping about in
an ordinary roadway as I walk to my office. From the maple trees the little winged
seeds come fluttering down before my eyes. A boy goes past sitting in a grocery
wagon and over-driving a rather bony horse. As I walk I overtake two workmen
 
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