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A Passage To India - E.M. Forster

 

“Yes, as Mr McBryde was saying, but it’s much more the Anglo-Indians themselves who are likely to get on Adela’s nerves. She doesn’t think they behave pleasantly to Indians, you see.”

   “What did I tell you?” he exclaimed, losing his gentle manner. “I knew it last week. Oh, how like a woman to worry over a side-issue!”

   She forgot about Adela in her surprise. “A side-issue, a side-issue?” she repeated. “How can it be that?”

   “We’re not out here for the purpose of behaving pleasantly!”

“What do you mean?”

   “What I say. We’re out here to do justice and keep the peace. Them’s my sentiments. India isn’t a drawing-room.”

   “Your sentiments are those of a god,” she said quietly, but it was his manner rather than his sentiments that annoyed her.

   Trying to recover his temper, he said, “India likes gods.”

“And Englishmen like posing as gods.”

   “There’s no point in all this. Here we are, and we’re going to stop, and the country’s got to put up with us, gods or no gods. Oh, look here,” he broke out, rather pathetically, “what do you and Adela want me to do? Go against my class, against all the people I respect and admire out here? Lose such power as I have for doing good in this country, because my behaviour isn’t pleasant?

You neither of you understand what work is, or you’d never talk such eyewash. I hate talking like this, but one must occasionally. It’s morbidly sensitive to go on as Adela and you do. I noticed you both at the Club today—after the Collector had been at all that trouble to amuse you.

I am out here to work, mind, to hold this wretched country by force. I’m not a missionary or a Labour Member or a vague sentimental sympathetic literary man. I’m just a servant of the Government; it’s the profession you wanted me to choose myself, and that’s that. We’re not pleasant in India, and we don’t intend to be pleasant. We’ve something more important to do.”

 

Written in 1924.