Page:The imperial peace; an ideal in European history.djvu/11

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The Imperial Peace

exercising the powers of his being in the duties of his position. He must be, and therefore he is, the perfect man, putting in operation the true nature of man, and living for the good of the world.

He must be considered, as Dante says, to be the servant of all, because magistrates and kings exist for the good of the nation, and not the nation for the good of its kings or its magistrates. The end is marked out for the monarch. He is there because he ought to wish, because he must wish, and therefore does wish, that men be good and do good and enjoy liberty.

Of all things in the social body, says our prophet, peace is the best. It is necessary to guard against a misapprehension of what is meant here by the word 'peace'. Dante thinks of peace, not as a negative but as a positive idea. Peace is not the mere absence of war: it is the power that maintains order and makes moral law effective. It is the administrative force of Justice, and it is the necessary condition of freedom.

Now Justice implies power: a man cannot act justly to others unless he has the power of giving to all their due. Justice is not the getting of one's due from others: that is a base and unworthy and wholly false conception of the divine power that we call Justice. Justice is the paying of their due to others. It is not a demand for one's own rights; it is the giving to others of their rights. This is a profoundly significant idea; it springs from the insight of a prophet, who has looked deep into the heart of the world. 'Justice', says Dante, 'is a virtue regulating our conduct towards others,' and it cannot be turned into a rule which we can invoke to regulate the conduct of others to us, and to enforce the demands which we make on others.

Peace, then, is the condition on which man may work