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

hand I have found neither the leisure nor the health to write the volume which at one time I had in view. The result must be a compromise. Large portions of my subject, and indeed of my manuscript, must be ignored to-day. Before my Essay assumes a final form, I hope that it may acquire a character more in consonance with the magnitude and the unity of the theme.

I will not pause to dilate upon the obvious truisms that lie at the threshold of my subject. The influence of region upon race, and the correlative influence of race upon region, are speculations belonging to the wider subject of which Frontiers are only a part. That a country with easily recognized natural boundaries is more capable of defence and is more assured of a national existence than a country which does not possess those advantages; that a country with a sea Frontier, such as the British Isles, particularly if she also possesses sea-power, is in a stronger position than a country which only has land Frontiers and requires a powerful army to defend them; that a mountain-girt country is the most secure of internal States—these are the commonplaces of political geography. More pertinent is it to say in passing that in the study of such a subject as ours, we must be very careful not to generalize too hastily as to the influence of physical agencies, either upon character or action: for the same causes are apt to produce very different results in different places or at different times. There is a passage, for instance, in an English poet which typifies that I mean. Cowper wrote in The Task (Book II)—

          Lands intersected by a narrow forth
          Abhor each other. Mountains interposed
          Make enemies of nations who had else
          Like kindred drops been mingled into one.