Page:The imperial peace; an ideal in European history.djvu/27

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The Imperial Peace

disorder all the conditions in which lie the power of an ideal.

Yet it is of the essence of this ideal that it seeks no compelling force. It acknowledges its weakness in the present, and it trusts to the future. It expresses itself in Europe as the concert of the Powers. The very mention of that name generally elicits a smile on the listener's face. It has become rather a joke in the world. We think of it almost as an irresponsible infant, with the trustfulness, the weakness, and the charm of an infant. Still, it is probably a growing infant, although its growth is slow: thirty years of time by the clock and the sun are but a day in its life. There are, however, other causes, to which I should be inclined to trust much more than to the methods and meetings of diplomacy for the realization of this ideal. Of these, two call for special attention—the annihilation of distance and the cultivation of common thoughts and interests—or, to use vague but familiar terms, intercourse and literature.

It is a truism to say that distance fosters diversity, and the annihilation of distance tends towards unity. The Roman Empire, the model of the higher unity including diverse nationalities, failed to solve the problem of distance. In the first century the Empire was aware of the difficulty in its path, and had already done more to solve the problem than was ever achieved until the nineteenth. There existed great freedom of intercourse through the Mediterranean lands, in which the Imperial unity was maintained. Very extensive plans of travel could be conceived and arranged in advance during that and the following century. By land and by sea great numbers of travellers were constantly passing to and fro: Roman officials, civil and military, tourists, scholars, professors of philosophy, perchance even of archaeology, merchants,