Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/749

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In this mighty tragedy the time had come for the final act; the stage was set, and all awaited the entrance of the actors. When Alaric and his savage Goths descended upon Rome, they were met with as little resistance as are the play-warriors upon the smaller stage. The Romans of old were not there to oppose the barbarians; many had been destroyed by wars, "but these," as Draper says, "were an insignificant proportion to that fatal diminution, that mortal adulteration, occasioned by their mingling in the vast mass of humanity with which they came in contact. . . . Whoever inquires the cause of the fall of the Roman Empire will find his answer in ascertaining what had become of the Romans."[1]

The early union of the neighboring tribes into the Roman state was a union of similar elements, which became strengthened by numbers, without being weakened by conflicting natures. Their subsequent conquest of the Greek colonies gave them an element which encouraged the development of art and learning, and was still of the same race as themselves, with a civilization of a like genius. Thus the Roman state grew in strength as it increased in size. Her victorious arms then humbled city after city, and nation after nation, till the savage tribes of Europe and the civilized nations of Asia and Africa acknowledged the rule of the mistress of the world. Year after year the flower of the Roman youth were marched to her distant colonies and died upon foreign fields; and in return the Gauls and Thracians> Syrians and Egyptians, were brought to Italy and Rome. The art, learning, and civilization of Rome, which had thrived upon their native soil, and had each year grown more deeply rooted, were like plants pulled up and strewed broadcast over the earth, to take root where they could, or to be crowded out by the more vigorous but rank native growth. Those that were left became weakened by the rude foreign growths that were brought and placed beside them. Only an occasional seed was preserved, to finally bear fruit in future ages. The individual representatives of the civilization of Rome were absorbed in the much greater mass with which they had surrounded themselves, as the fresh waters of the river are lost in the greater volume of the ocean.

The Spanish invasion of Mexico affords a similar illustration of the distinctive results following the union of different civilizations. The Mexicans were a homogeneous people, having similar wants, instincts, and capabilities. Undisturbed by foreign influence, they were slowly developing to a higher stage of civilization—a condition of greater good for a larger number. In the sixteenth century there was every indication of an increasing population and an advancing intellectual state. The mixed population to-day of the valley of Anahuac is but a fraction of the numbers who opposed the arms of Cortes. The Spaniards and the Aztecs were too unlike to be brought

  1. "Intellectual Development of Europe," vol. i, p. 255.