Life of Sir George Grey: Governor, High commissioner, and Premier. An Historical Biography.
A "Tropical Man."
A "Tropical Man."
Carlyle, who not unjustly appraised him, would have said that Grey belonged to another class than those to whom the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount apply, and must be judged by a different code of ethics. He looked, indeed, an alien figure as he flitted about among the colonial legislators, who doubtless also felt that he did not belong to them or their kind. He was of the great race of the uebermenschen—the giants whom Renan and Nietzsche have set up for the homage of "the dim common populations." The passion of subjugation page 225and domination lay at the base of his character. He realised Nietzsche's idea of life as consisting essentially in aggression—in the appropriation and subjection of all that is alien and feebler; accompanied or not—and it mattered little to him whether it was or was not accompanied—by hardness and oppression; and issuing in the imposing of its will, its forms of thought and feeling, on others, and the incorporation of those others with itself or, at least, their exploitation for its own ends. He was of the same lineage as Julius Caesar, Frederick, and Napoleon, if not of the same stature. And yet, who knows? These mighty hunters of men were made great by their surroundings. Had they been planted down in a British colony sixty years ago, they would have shown no greater faculties than Grey displayed; and had Grey been placed in the wider environment of Canada or India, or been set to govern a kingdom or an empire, he might have revealed himself one of the colossi of mankind. His earlier days were passed in circumstances where one of Nietzsche's "tropical men" was possible and was required, and his doings in those days must be judged by a standard adapted to the time and the place. He lived on into an age when powers or limitations that he lacked were needed, and his special attributes were an offence. He was then a living anachronism and his life a tragedy.