Page:The imperial peace; an ideal in European history.djvu/29

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The Imperial Peace

The military strength was not kept on such a level of readiness and efficiency as should guard the frontier against the outer world of barbarism. If the succession of able and active emperors could have been kept up, the vigour of the state might have been maintained; but the weak and incompetent rulers allowed the currents of communication to slacken and the unity of purpose to become dissipated; and thus the common life of the Empire grew weak. Educational system had been defective, but with vigorous intercommunication it might, and would, have improved. All chance of improving the Imperial postal service and opening it to the public was lost. There was not sufficient vitality in the state to improve its own condition and cure its diseases. From this first cause all other evils either arise or become worse.

In discussing this subject with scholars and practical men in the United States, I was impressed by the unanimity of their opinion that the states could not have been held together if the machinery of rapid transport had not been organized. The life-blood moves rapidly: it stagnates when its motion is impeded. Such is the experience of history.

On intercommunication and the increase of real familiarity with others, and understanding of and friendly feeling towards others, which are thereby produced, the growth towards the ideal peace depends. The common literature of the world, the common sympathy with noble ideals, the general admiration of the same great men and great thoughts, are stimulated by wide intercourse, and will in turn make the intercourse wider. Those who know the world most widely, find some of their most valued friends in other nations, and yet return to a home that they value all the more. The evening brings all home.

Besides the lack of compelling power to enforce its