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English law has wavered between different theories of the
in the Modern World .
THE ROMAN EMPIRE AND THE
BRITISH EMPIRE IN INDIA
In several of the Essays contained in these volumes comparisons are instituted between Rome and England in points that touch the constitutions and the laws of these two great imperial States. This Essay is intended to compare them as conquering and ruling powers, acquiring and administering dominions outside the original dwelling-place of their peoples, and impressing upon these dominions their own type of civilization.
This comparison derives a special interest from a consideration of the position in which the world finds itself at the beginning of the twentieth century. The great civilized nations have spread themselves out so widely, and that with increasing rapidity during the last fifty years, as to have brought under their dominion or control nearly all the barbarous or semi-civilized? races. Europe-that is to say the five or six races which we call the European branch of mankind-has annexed the rest of the earth, extinguishing some races, absorbing others, ruling others as subjects, and spreading over their native customs and beliefs a layer of European ideas which will sink deeper and deeper till the old native life dies out. Thus, while the face of the earth is being changed by the application of European science, so it seems likely that within a measurable time European forms of thought and ways of life will
come to prevail everywhere, except possibly in China, whose vast population may enable her to resist these solvent influences for several generations, perhaps for several centuries. In this process whose agencies are migration, conquest, and commerce, England has led the way and has achieved the most. Russia however, as well as France and Germany, have annexed vast areas inhabited by backward races. Even the United States has, by occupying the Hawaiian and the Philippine Islands, entered, somewhat to her own surprise, on the same path. Thus a new sort of unity is being created among mankind. This unity is seen in the bringing of every part of the globe into close relations, both commercial and political, with every other part. It is seen in the establishment of a few world languages' as vehicles of communication between many peoples, vehicles which carry to them the treasures of literature and science which the four or five leading nations have gathered. It is seen in the diffusion of a civilization which is everywhere the same in its material aspects, and is tolerably uniform even on its intellectual side, since it teaches men to think on similar lines and to apply similar methods of scientific inquiry. The process has been going on for some centuries. In our own day it advances so swiftly that we can almost foresee the time when it will be complete. It is one of the great events in the history of the world.
Yet it is not altogether a new thing. A similar process went on in the ancient world from the time of Alexander the Macedonian to that of Alaric the Visigoth. The Greek type of civilization, and to some extent the Greek population also, spread out over the regions around the eastern Mediterranean and the Euxine. Presently the conquests of Rome brought all these regions, as well as the western countries as far as Caledonia, under one government. This produced a uniform type of civilization which was Greek on the side of thought, of literature, and of art, Roman on the side of law and institutions. Then came Christianity which, in giving to all these countries one religion and one standard of morality, created a still deeper sense of unity among them. Thus the ancient world, omitting the barbarous North and the semi-civilized heathen who dwelt beyond the Euphrates, became unified, the backward races having been raised, at least in the upper strata of their population, to the level of the more advanced. One government, one faith, and two languages, were making out of the mass of races and kingdoms that had existed before the Macedonian conquest, a single people who were at once a Nation and a World Nation.
a The process was not quite complete when it was interrupted by the political dissolution of the Roman dominion, first through the immigrations of the Teutonic peoples from the north, then by the terrible strokes dealt at the already weakened empire by the Arab conquerors from the south-east. The results that had been attained were not wholly lost, for Europe clung to the Greco-Romano-Christian civilization, though in a lowered form and with a diminished sense of intellectual as well as of political unity. But that civilization was not able to extend itself further, save by slow degrees over the north and towards the north-east. Several centuries passed. Then, at first faintly from the twelfth century onwards, afterwards more swiftly from the middle of the fifteenth century, when the intellectual impulse given by the Renaissance began to be followed by the rapid march of geographical discovery along the coasts of Africa, in America, and in the further east, the process was resumed. We have watched its later stages with our own eyes. It embraces a far
a vaster field than did the earlier one, the field of the whole earth. As we watch it, we are naturally led to
. ask what light the earlier effort of Nature to gather men together under one type of civilization throws on this later one. As Rome was the principal agent in the earlier, so has England been in the later effort. England has sent her language, her commerce, her laws and institutions forth from herself over an even wider and more populous area than that whose races were moulded into new forms by the laws and institutions of Rome. The conditions are, as we shall see, in many
, respects different. Yet there is in the parallel enough to make it instructive for the present, and possibly significant for the future.
The dominions of England beyond the seas are, however, not merely too locally remote from one another, but also too diverse in their character to be compared as one whole with the dominions of Rome, which were contiguous in space, and were all governed on the same system. The Britannic Empire falls into three territorial groups, the self-governing colonies, the Crown colonies, and the Indian territories ruled by or dependent on the sovereign of Britain. Of these three groups, since they cannot be treated together, being ruled on altogether different principles, it is one group only that can usefully be selected for comparison with the