Page:Frontiers.djvu/10

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
8
Frontiers

and annex the territories of their weaker neighbours; Frontier wars will not, in the nature of things, disappear. But the scramble for new lands, or for the heritage of decaying States, will become less acute as there is less territory to be absorbed and less chance of doing it with impunity, or as the feebler units are either neutralized, or divided, or fall within the undisputed Protectorate of a stronger Power. We are at present passing through a transitional phase, of which less disturbed conditions should be the sequel, falling more and more within the ordered domain of International Law.

The illustrations which I have given, and which might easily be multiplied, will be sufficient to indicate the overwhelming influence of Frontiers in the history of the modern world. Reference to the past will tell a not substantially different tale. In our own country how much has turned upon the border conflict between England and Scotland and between England and Wales? In Ireland the ceaseless struggle between those within and those outside the Pale has left an ineffaceable mark on the history and character of the people. Half the warfare of the European continent has raged round the great Frontier barriers of the Alps and Pyrenees, the Danube and the Rhine. The Roman Empire, nowhere so like to our own as in its Frontier policy and experience—a subject to which I shall have frequent occasion to revert,—finally broke up and perished because it could not maintain its Frontiers intact against the barbarians.

I wonder, indeed, if my hearers at all appreciate the part that Frontiers are playing in the everyday history and policy of the British Empire. Time was when England had no Frontier but the ocean. We have now