My main feeling at the Durbar while I watched those splendid beasts–the crowds of camels, the crowds of elephants–all being driven along by the little, faint, dreamy, sleepy-looking people was, “Why don’t their elephants turn around on them and chase them?”I kept thinking at first that they would, almost any minute.

Our elephants chase us–most of us. Who has not seen locomotives coming quietly out of their roundhouses in New York and begin chasing people, chasing whole towns, tearing along with them, making everybody hurry whether or no, speeding up and ordering around by the clock great cities, everybody alike, the rich and the poor, the just and the unjust, for hundreds of miles around? In the same way I have seen, hundreds of times, motor cars turning around on their owners and chasing them–chasing them fairly out of their lives. And hundreds of thousands of little wood-and-rubber Things with nickel bells whirring, may be seen ordering around people–who pay them for it–in any city of our modern world.

Now and then one comes on a man who keeps a telephone, who is a gentleman with it, and who keeps it in its place, but not often.

Crowds: Gerald Stanley Lee (1913).

This article was filed under Quotes from Books.

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