Puslapio vaizdai

still sliding past. Myself, as Omar sings, did eagerly frequent young men with charming manners and the oddest choice of topic appropriate for an interview with a visiting his torian. For they were gnawed with an increasing passion for opinions on foreign affairs. Politely oblivious of the fact that fate had held me captive in mid-ocean for a week, sustained upon an unrewarding diet of wireless scraps, they seemed to ache like a thirsty land in summer for a downpour of definite statements on several international questions of the utmost delicacy. Why from me, I did not stop to ask. Any taxpayer, it seems, is good enough to expound the policy of his own governmentand, for the matter of fact, of any other-in the hearing of this eager public. But cautious inquiry elicited the facts, at least, on which I was desired to comment. While I had hung, like Mohammed's coffin, between two continents, two states, it seemed, had both been doing the identical thing. One in the Old World and the other in the New had each been sending armed protection for its threatened traders. The coincidence was odd. But there, as I learned the facts, it was. For as the troop-ships drove eastward from Southampton, taking the Guards to Shanghai, the U. S. marines were trickling into Nicaragua. There was a strange resemblance between their missions, between the sailing-orders of the delight of London nurse-maids and those legendary marines, upon whose gallant heads the United United States have concentrated almost all their latent militarism.

But there was a difference between the cases. There was, I learned

from the mouths of my polite informants, a whole world of difference. I had not noticed it, but they seemed quite clear about it. For it was this way. As the troopers slid down Southampton Water and nosed their way to Suez, they were propelled, it seemed, by all the crooked motives of the Old World. Kings chuckled, courtiers winked, and statesmen whispered evilly behind gnarled fingers at their going. It was (was it not?) a striking recrudescence of British imperialism-and what did I think of it? By way of answer I inquired politely for news of the U. S. marines, those eager saviors of Central America from its base interests. But the marines-ah, what a difference in their mission! As they slipped out of San Diego and turned toward Nicaragua, the sunshine was on their foreheads. For they went about the blameless business of the New World. No sinister intent, no kings, no taint of selfishness; just business of the highest character, purely disinterested and quite legitimate-not even Big Business.

The contrast was instructive; and I did my best to profit by the lesson, to get the new perspective in the clear American light. A guardsman ordered East to stand between a scared community and a resurgent China was (probably) the minion of some dark imperialistic design. Did he not wear a crown-and even a unicorn-upon his buttons? But a marine ordered south to stand in precisely the same attitude before a far less adequate enemy was, beyond all doubt and guessing, beyond even Mr. Wilson's cherished peradventure, a missionary of something immaculate. For it was unthink

able that broad-browed Washington should take the taint, the Old-World taint, of imperialism. I heard; I bowed the head; but even in this respectful posture, a haze of irreverent doubt began to rise. Was there, I wondered, some insidious form in which the creeping virus of imperialism might perhaps have entered the young veins of the New World? Marines and neutral zones, the mildly reasoned note, the monthly, weekly, daily admonition from the State Department, the treaty of perpetual friendship-were these the new technique of imperialism? Had Mr. Kellogg found a new way to commit old sins? The uneasy question rose unanswered, and I walked quickly down the gang-plank into the New World.


Imperialism is, after all, a shifting thing. Its form has varied from one century to the next and, still more widely, from one continent to the next. In its first simple form it grasped at universal domination. Rome and its imitations were the first European masters of the art. To reduce the habitable globe (or plane) to a single allegiance was the simple object of the first imperialists. One law, one senate, and one coinage seemed to be the aims of universal empire, as it was practised by the more aggressive Cæsars. The picture was inspiring; and long after Rome had crumbled from empire into papacy, it inspired the Romanizers-Charlemagne perhaps, and beyond a doubt Napoleon, that odd pastiche of Charlemagne and Augustus. That was the first and crudest form in which imperialism dawned on Europe. But even then

there were wide variations between the practice of the different continents. For while the emperor hung Paris with captured flags, Jenghis Khan heaped a pile of heads before his door. Other continents, other manners. But within the limits of these regional variations, the aims of imperialism were identical, a single authority administering all territory in sight. And in that ideal Napoleon was one with Nerva.

Europe, fragmented by the fall of Rome, and still further atomized by the Reformation, was perpetually unfriendly to this simple design, and history became a long record of resistance to ambitious projects of universal domination. It was the function, preeminently, of Great Britain to focus this temper of national independence, of anti-imperialism. The British Isles escaped at a comparatively early stage from the Roman grasp; they were an early center of insurrection from Rome's successor, the universal church; Spain's slow encirclement of Europe and even of the world, the large design which grasped Madrid, Vienna, Brussels, North Italy, and even the Americas, was challenged by the carronades of Elizabethan seamen and foundered in the deep Hebridean waters which engulfed the great Armada; the French effort toward the same goal was foiled by Dutch William with a British army, and crumbled finally before Marlborough and the troopers who "swore terribly in Flanders" under Queen Anne; the bull-rush of Napoleon was worn down by British sea-power and took the final blow from the cool matador who waited on the ridge in front of the little village of Waterloo; and the

latest aspirant to universal empire, the hair-brained practitioner of every art but that of government who passes his days at Doorn, owes much of his solitary leisure to the British effort, which expended men, ships, and money in four years of splendid prodigality. Such, in the roughest outline, is the record of universal domination in the last fifteen centuries of Europe's history. Much has been omitted, but as the shadows of Hildebrand, of Charlemagne, of Charles V, of Louis XIV, of Napoleon flit unregarded by, one fact emerges: Europe instinctively resists a single domination. This phase, apart from its almost involuntary recrudescence in the German dream of empire, was ended in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. But in the years that followed, it found a mild successor. Resigning hopes of universal domination over the closely inhabited areas covered by the European state system, nations began to grasp the easier prize of overseas domination. In this phase Great Britain led unconsciously, as is the fashion of British thought in matters of extreme importance. In the years which followed the diminution of the first British Empire by the secession of its American colonies, a second British Empire was rapidly assembled. Much remained of its predecessorthe Canadas, India, and a rich supply of sugar islands. But in the years of European conflict which determined the defeat of the French design of universal domination, British policy reached out beyond the visible horizons of Europe and made a second empire. South Africa, Ceylon, advancing frontiers within

India itself, East Indies, unrecorded islands in every sea, observed the steady march of British control. The tendency was largely undiscovered by Europe, still interested in the checks and balances of its purely continental system. But it proceeded steadily in the years between Waterloo and 1870. Largely unconscious, it resulted from vague urge of population, of adventurous pioneers (for the Old World can show as many pioneer virtues as the New

is not the New World itself a monument of Old-World pioneering?) of judicious traders in pursuit of export markets, of mere patriotism exhibited by enterprising captains, who hoisted a flag and read a proclamation of annexation in a circle of respectful natives. The process was scarcely observed by other powers, though France was stirred to emulation by a recollection of former colonial ardors and the convenient proximity of Algeria. It has been called, for want of a better name, imperialism; and it rests undoubtedly on the desire to build an empire and on a belief that the empire's law is best for all within its circle. But the ideal which prompted it is something very different from the crude ambitions of the Cæsars and their less fortunate imitators. For it partakes largely of the humbler aspirations of the exporting trader, of the desire of Manchester to clothe the heathen in a sufficiency of Manchester goods, of the doctor's and the missionary's faith in the superior virtues of his own civilization. And there is this broad distinction to be made between the imperialism of Cecil Rhodes and that of Julius Cæsar, that it flowed mainly to the empty

spaces of the earth; its goal was Bulawayo, not the streets of Paris.

How far the world has gained or lost by a century of British expansion there is no need to appraise. The process of expansion is undoubted, and the beliefs behind it have the simple collective title of imperialism. In its later stages the advance became a shade less confident. Where once the world had seen a bold series of annexations, and frontiers had advanced quite unashamed, it began to observe the more apologetic method of the sphere of influence, of suzerainty, of politely concealed protectorates. No more the proclamation in the awed circle of natives, the flag fluttering on the tropic air, and the pounding salute. Now frontiers advance more delicately, a little in the manner of the lamented Agag. For imperialism was becoming less sure of itself, less certain of the blessings of good government and ordered commerce; and its tone became almost apologetic.

I may be wrong; but in the latest devices of American policy I seem to detect a further shading of the bold imperialistic design, a method of approach to the desired objective more delicate than Agag's. For methods vary with the march of time, and their variations are all in the direction of an increasing gentleness. The modern statesman annexes almost with a gesture of motherhood. His sterner predecessors, confronted with a prize, incontinently grabbed it-his grandfather by simple annexation, his father by a rigmarole about spheres of influence. But the softer trend of our contemporaries disdains such brutal footsteps. It advances under cover of a vigorous

protestation of belief in the essential independence of the coveted object— and to lend it money. An occasional landing-party of marines may keep a watchful eye on the security, but always with a stern insistence that it is no property of theirs.

As the game develops, the object of desire may be impelled (with perfect freedom of action, but one eye on the marines) to enter a treaty of perpetual friendship and dependence with and upon the absorbing power. There will be no vulgar annexation. That is precisely where the method of Naboth's vineyard differs from that of Wall Street.

Is this delicate technique the latest variation of the Old-World theme of imperialism? I wonder and am half inclined to think so. If so, I trust that the stern judge of the New World will be a trifle less severe upon the historical shortcomings of the Old. For they seem to be heirs to one, at least, of its vices in an attenuated form. Kid-glove imperialism is no more defensible on abstract principles of human justice than the full-blooded variety; can we be sure that the United States, after a brief experiment in annexation, has not entered upon a more insidious form of concealed imperialism? Such outspoken critics of the world must not complain if they occasionally attract a touch of comment from a politely interested world. For what is more delightful to a convicted sinner than to detect at least a mote in his critic's eye? And the Old World is left with a slightly irreverent wonder whether the purities of the Monroe Doctrine are not lightly dusted over with the faintest film of imperial ambition. If so, there is room for hope that its

adherents will be less critical of ambition in others. Others, at any rate, rejoice to see the young man following in his father's footsteps and trust that in the future he will be a trifle less severe on father.

Those were the thoughts, the halfformed doubts, that rose as the reporter told a traveler the news from Nicaragua and China, and the big ship slid up the Narrows toward the tall, unlikely towers.



We heard them like besiegers down the street.
Dark foot by foot they fought the stolid rock,
Until the houses shook beneath our feet
And window-panes were rattled with the shock
Of muffled batteries of dynamite:

All day they fought the hard earth, bone to bone.
Much like machine-guns through the noisy night
We heard their sharp drills biting in the stone;
Then great trucks thundered off when they were filled.
One morning, as men battled underground,

The beaten earth struck back; and some were killed,
When rock fell on them with an angry sound.
Yet others struggled with the sullen loam;
And love and hunger and the fear of death
Were dim things in a half-forgotten home

As they struck earthward with each deep-lunged breath.
They sought the finish like a lunging knife,
And felt the great joy that all fighters feel;
For they had tunneled through the muck of life
To lay the stern, straight cleanliness of steel.

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