??It is just this limitlessness, this potential immortality of States that makes all the confusion and bloodshed of history. What is happening in the world today? What is the essence of it all? The communities of today are developing range, faster than ever they did: aeroplanes, guns, swifter ships, everywhere an increasing range of action. That is the most important fact to grasp about the modern world. It is the key fact in politics. From the first dawn of the human story you see man in a kind of a puzzled way??how shall I put it???pursuing the boundary of his possible community. Which always recedes. Which recedes now faster than ever. Until it brings him to a fatal war and disaster. Over and over again it is the same story. If you had a coloured historical atlas of the world, the maps would be just a series of great dabs of empire, spreading, spreading??coming against resistances??collapsing. Each dab tries to devour the world and fails. There is no natural limit to a human community, no limit in time or space??except one.
After many years Pike came back to Columbia, a celebrated man. He was an ardent Whig, and made a big speech in support of his principles. To offset his influence some ardent Democrat composed a doggerel called “The Old Canoe,” in which it was plainly intimated that Pike had left here years before between two suns, and had not been too particular about taking some one else’s canoe to get away in. This doggerel was sung around the streets until General Pike and his friends were exasperated beyond measure, ending in the sensitive poet’s leaving the town. Of course, it was all a lie, and the old canoe was probably the property of no man, but it seems that then, as now, nothing was too mean for one political party to say of another. This beautiful poem, “The Old Canoe,” coming out about that time, was attributed to General Pike, and its authorship has never before, perhaps, been publicly corrected. It is found in the schoolbooks, and in books on elocution, as being by General Pike, but Senator Carmack is our authority that General Pike himself told him he did not write it.
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