Page:The imperial peace; an ideal in European history.djvu/7

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THE IMPERIAL PEACE


The Romanes lecturer, as I am informed, is free to expatiate in almost every field except politics and religion. It is not hard to resign oneself to exclusion from the field of politics, which presents hardly any temptation to a scholar except the allurement which a forbidden garden offers to weak human nature. I have guarded against that temptation by choosing a subject which is so obviously ideal and so inconsistent with actual conditions of political life in this country and in Europe generally, that he who speaks about it is necessarily shut off from the realm of political facts.

But to Scottish temperament like that of the present speaker, it is hard to be debarred from the field of religion. The mind of the Scotsman has been formed by generations of amateur theologians and of constant listeners to the stern and long sermons in which the national temperament used to find pleasure and sustenance. The Scot may have lost the art of listening to sermons; perhaps with the national caution he is unwilling to admit the theological competence of the preacher; but he cannot divest himself of inherited tendencies; his thought naturally runs into theological or religious forms; and his reading sooner or later turns towards theological or anti-theological literature.

You may perhaps allow a Scot to have a text; and I propose to take my text from a writer of the pre-Renaissance time—that period in history when the European world is generally understood to have been stagnant and absolutely unprogressive, its few thinkers