Page:Frontiers.djvu/20

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
18
Frontiers

accepted by wandering man. Prima facie, also, they are the most durable and the most imposing. They are liable to little change (except such as may be indirectly effected by human agency in the shape of roads, railroads, and tunnels), and they are capable of instant and easy recognition. Such has been the position, and the decisive influence of the great mountain barriers of the world—of the Hindu Kush and Himalayas in Asia[1], of the immense and serried ridges that separate Burma from China, of the Caucasus between Asia and Europe, of the Taurus in Asia Minor, of the Alps and Pyrenees (and in a lesser degree the Balkans and Carpathians) in Europe. From the military point of view the labour in crossing a mountain range is commonly great, particularly for armies, and is exposed to many dangers. What it was in ancient times, a century ago, and in more modern days, may be compared in the crossing of the Alps by Hannibal, and again by Napoleon, and in the experience of the Russians in the Balkans. We have yet to see a campaign in which the appliances of modern science in respect of railroads, tunnels, and telegraphs, are seized by one party so as practically to annihilate the mountain barrier upon which the other relies for protection, although the Germans seized and utilized the French tunnel through the Vosges at the commencement of the Franco-German War, and the Boers possessed themselves of the Drakensberg range and the Laing's Nek tunnel in order to facilitate their descent upon Natal.

On the other hand the theoretical superiority of a

  1. Backed as they are by the huge and lofty plateau of Tibet, the Himalayas are beyond doubt the most formidable natural Frontier in the World.