Page:Frontiers.djvu/30

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Frontiers

romance into a warp of merciless rapine and savage deeds; and, finally, in the title of the Merse given to the Lowland counties on the Scottish side of the border. I would that I had the time to say something here about that typical illustration of Frontier character and Frontier civilization, whose history is written in the battered castles and peels of the Border, and enshrined in a literature of inimitable charm.

More pertinent is it to notice that from this ancient and mediaeval conception of a neutral strip or belt of severance has sprung the modern idea of a deliberately neutralized territory, or state, or zone. The object in both cases is the same, viz. to keep apart two Powers whose contact might provoke collision: but the modus operandi is different. Where primitive communities began by creating a desert in order to prevent occupation, and then provided for occupation by authorities and forces specially deputed for the purpose, modern States construct their buffer by diplomatic conventions, and seek the accommodating sanction of International Law. At one end of these devices we are but little removed from primitive practice. I allude to the arbitrary and often anomalous creation by modern powers of small neutral zones, ostensibly with a view of avoiding contact, quite as frequently in order to evade some diplomatic difficulty or to furnish material for future claims. Of such a character was the 25-kilomètre strip on the right bank of the Mekong created by the Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1893, nominally owned but not policed by Siam, containing both authorities and inhabitants whose connexion lay with the opposite or French bank. Such a diplomatic fiction could only be a temporary expedient preluding a more effective solution. Similar in