Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/332

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lem. These events of yesterday are but the latest episodes of a struggle between the social organization of Asia and that of Europe for predominance in the countries which border the Ægean and the Levantine Seas, which has been going on for some thousands of years. To say nothing of earlier events, Marathon, Thermopylæ, Salamis, the expedition of Alexander, the Punic wars of Rome, the Saracen occupation of Spain, the Crusades, the Turkish conquest of the Balkan Peninsula, the Egyptian expedition of the first Napoleon, are names of some of the long score of matches and return-matches played between East and West in the terrible game of war. And, in my judgment, the grandson of the youngest boy here is not likely to see the winner finally declared. For the contest depends not upon mere dynastic interests, or the lust of conquest, but is the inevitable product of the struggle for existence between incompatible forms of civilization, antagonisms of religion, and antipathies of race.

Twenty-four centuries, mainly occupied in fighting, do not afford a very pleasant retrospect at the best, and it would be altogether horrible, were not the affairs of this world so ordered that "there is a soul of good in things evil." No doubt millions of men, women, and children have suffered grievous misery and wrong, and whole nations have been annihilated, as the tide of conquest, swept over them—now to the west, and now to the east. All that is sadly obvious, and, to those who can see only that which is obvious, these wars, like all others, must take the guise of purely diabolical evils. But a more patient and penetrating vision may discern that all this suffering is the school fee which the human race has had to pay for its education. As elsewhere, bright and dull pay alike, and the bright profit; which is, perhaps, no great satisfaction to the dull, but it is the rule of the school, and we have to put up with it.

In the present case, the Western nations are the bright boys. Your teachers of history are doubtless careful to point out to you all that ancient Greece owed to its intercourse, whether hostile or peaceful, with the East; all the benefit which Saracen learning on the one hand, and crusading enterprise on the other, conferred on Europe in the middle ages, and how much the Turks, quite unintentionally, did for the revival of learning. It is not to such familiar truths as these that I wish to direct your attention, but rather to the fact that history, in the modern sense of the word, was born of the very earliest of the struggles to which I have adverted.

I say history, in the modern sense of the word, that is, not barely a chronicle of events and record of current traditions or venerable myths, but a narrative based upon evidence which has been critically sifted, and in which the narrator endeavors to trace, amid the tangled occurrences of human life, the thread of natural causation which connects them with the needs and the passions of men. The chronicler is more or less of a gossip, the historian more or less of a man of science. For