Page:The imperial peace; an ideal in European history.djvu/14

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The Imperial Peace

ennoble their nature and raise them to a higher level of purpose and action? High sense of duty and the warmest, sometimes almost passionate, desire for the good of the state and people have been increasingly powerful influences on very many modern rulers. It is, however, true that the zeal has not always been with knowledge; and the cynical observer must sometimes feel, in this as in every experience of life, that there is in the world an astonishing amount of good will, good intention, and good feeling among men, but an equally astonishing lack of good sense and sound knowledge and the scientific spirit: how much of our lives is spent in scarifying and crucifying those who after all are trying in their own way to say the same thing and compass the same results that we are saying and intending.

Further, the monarch for Dante exists as the best and only means to compass the true end of society. He exists to introduce peace and order—a peace that is and that compels order—amid the smaller states governed by their princes and kings. He is as it were the embodiment in human personality of a supreme and absolute international law. He represents the compelling force of right, which makes justice and freedom reign in each separate state of the universal Empire, and enforces equity and order in the mutual relations of these smaller states.

I shall attempt, in the first place, to describe very briefly the origin of Dante's conception, and, secondly, to express it in the terms of modern conditions and thought. We understand better what he means by the Imperial peace, which is the gift of the supreme monarch to mankind, if we observe how his conception took origin and shape.

Dante indicates the source of his idea. His inspiration comes from the Roman literature, and especially from