Page:The imperial peace; an ideal in European history.djvu/21

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
The Imperial Peace

recent time. A friend of my own, a scholar and thinker and author, only a few years older than myself, who was born on a Scottish farm not far from the 'Highland Line', the old limit between the races, told me he remembered in childhood how an alarm arose of a cateran raid, and panic reigned in the quiet country-side. The alarm was, of course, groundless; but that such a raid could still be thought within the bounds of possibility as late as 1845 to 1850 is suggestive of the lasting terror that those raids inspired and the antipathy that they engendered.

In the thirteenth century it seemed likely that Lowland Scotland would go with England, and that Oxford would continue in increasing degree to be the University of the Scots. But a great king, one of the greatest in many respects that ever sat on the English throne, saw clearly the process which was going on, and took steps to accelerate it by diplomacy, by dynastic arrangements, and finally by war. The result was that the union was postponed for centuries. Real national union cannot be won by war and compulsion; the few apparent exceptions are only apparent, and serve to define more clearly the real nature of the process, about which a bare negative conveys no knowledge.

Yet the First Edward was, in a sense and to a certain degree, right. I do not mean that he would have defined his position and his motives in the same way as we might—but, in the wider view of history, what he was attempting was to weld the diverse peoples into a strong united nation. The attempt was premature. The tough intractable nature of the northern races was not ready for the process of union. They could not accept the same ideals and the same sentiments that ruled in the south. Those who successfully opposed the English king were