Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/453

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AUGUST, 1896.



RODBERTUS turned aside from his studies of taxation in the Roman Empire, which had shown him the Roman city exhausting and consuming the rest of the Roman world, to express the opinion that the history of the last three hundred years is a story of the exploitation of the outlying continents by the old centers of civilization. This was an attempt to describe summarily the significance for the human race of the opening up of new regions by exploration and colonization. The period during which the influences of the new extension of civilized settlements has been at work is so short that it is impossible to define with confidence its ultimate effects on the relation of the parts of the race to each other, and on the fortunes of the race as a whole. Recent events, however, have forced this subject upon our attention, for the "Monroe doctrine," as it has been recently affirmed and construed, would be nothing less than a doctrine and policy which some people are disposed to force upon the new organization of the inhabitants of the globe produced by the discovery and settlement of the outlying continents. If anybody claims to be able now to take control of this most portentous evolution in the life of the human race, and to dictate the course which it is to take, it behooves us all to verify the doctrine and to test the programme of policy proposed.

The era of geographical discovery and adventure passes for an era of glorious achievement by men, yet to what end did they care to know and reach the outlying parts of the earth? One motive which led them was the gain of commerce. The products of the Indies could be obtained in no other way, and the trade for