Page:Frontiers.djvu/37

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35
Frontiers

through the primaeval forest, and ornamenting it with iron pillars and cairns, at a cost to both countries which was enormous. Similar lines have been employed to define the boundaries of Canada and Alaska, to separate many of the Australian Colonies from each other, to determine European Spheres of Influence or Protectorates in Africa, and, quite recently, to define the Russian and Japanese shares of the island of Saghalin. Such lines are very tempting to diplomatists, who in the happy irresponsibility of their office-chairs think nothing of intersecting rivers, lakes, and mountains, or of severing communities and tribes. But even in the most favourable circumstances they require an arduous triangulation on the spot, and until surveyed, located, and marked out, have no local or topographical value.

(2) The straight line from point to point is also a method very popular in America, where it has been employed in laying down the internal Frontiers of States, and is in keeping with the mathematical precision commonly applied to the laying out of cities and streets. Like the Frontiers of latitude or longitude this type of boundary is a useful and sometimes an indispensable expedient; but it possesses no elasticity, and it is apt to produce absurd and irrational results. It is said in America that many men reside in one State and do their business in another, and there is no reason why so artificial a device should not have even more inconvenient consequences. The internal administrative or county boundaries of Great Britain have been constructed on the opposite principle, and represent a combination of historical, geographical, and occasionally ethnological conditions.

(3) Frontiers by reference, i.e. Frontiers defined as