Page:The imperial peace; an ideal in European history.djvu/26

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The Imperial Peace

Grecian chiefs; and he demanded that this monarch should have the power to compel obedience, a power that Agamemnon did not possess. A mere primus inter pares was not enough. There must lie in the monarch's hands always the ultimate appeal to overwhelming force, which he has the moral right to employ, because he is the servant of all, labouring for the good of all. Under his fostering care, and in no other way, can those common higher ideals flourish, which produce the higher unity of peace and concord.

The modern ideal is the voluntary acceptance by the separate nationalities of the course of action which is most conducive to the good of all. For the supreme monarch among kings our ideal is to substitute the free choice by all of what is right and good for all. There is no longer any question of a common government, or of unifying the diverse nationalities in one European or one world-wide state. The nations are and remain separate.

This is an ideal that lies far distant in the future. Is it, we ask, a mere fancy, the empty dream of an unpractical mind? or is it the real truth, as yet unrealized, of human life, that ideal which exists in the future and which compels by a certain attractive force the direction of social growth in the present?

In the present the weakness of this ideal lies in its utter lack of compelling power. It has no lever, still less any fulcrum, to move the world. Archimedes was ready with his lever, provided that some one could supply the fulcrum; but where is the modern Archimedes of social growth? An ideal has power in proportion to the fixed and reasonable character of the mind on which it acts; but this ideal appeals to the reason of the unreasonable, and to the steadfastness of the capricious and the changeable. Every wind of national conceit or irascibility may