Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/171

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THE EVOLUTION OF NATIONS

Russia. The converse of this argument, therefore, suggests the absence of effective separation for any group as an important factor in the failure of primitive tribes to develop nationally on the open plains of eastern Europe or of South and North America. Sections of the last named, at least, were fully as well favored as was the Nile valley, so far as the prosecution of agriculture is concerned.

The measure of separation not only has been a significant factor in the inception of national development, but also appears as one of the chief modifying influences in all the successive stages of evolution. Its effects have been operative both in the case of older nations developing directly from primitive groups, and in the modification of transplanted national civilizations, of which class the Australian colonies and New Zealand may be regarded as typical. Separation has meant more than the security needed in the period of development from the primitive group into a people solidly welded by national qualities and attributes. Through this same lessened liability of molestation, the more perfect the separation, the greater has been the continuity of social and economic evolution, and the more rapid the advance, beyond the preliminary stages of national existence.

Separation, or the lack of it, also determines the absence or presence of the burden of militarism, and hence fixes the extent to which the energies of the population may be profitably occupied or how much of them must be wasted in unproductive military service. Thus the old Prussian maxim that "Empires are made only by the sword" clearly reflects the exposed position of that state, its dependence on armed strength for its existence, and one of the chief factors in its slow development to important nationality.

The sharply contrasted course of events in England, as compared with either France or Germany, must be explained largely on the degree of separation which has always been one of the chief British assets. The early breaking down of feudalism and serfdom in England and the consequent more rapid advance of personal and political liberty, the freedom from invasion and wars on her own soil, the absence of any powerful rival occupying contiguous territory and the resulting freedom from a great military burden, all represent tremendous advantages, possessed by none of her rivals. All these advantages depended on the separation of England from the continental mainland, by a narrow body of water, the crossing of which was rendered difficult and hazardous by its turbulent waves and currents. France, on the contrary, though in many respects naturally better favored than England, was, by her more exposed position, led into the pursuance of continental policies which frequently involved her in wars on her own soil and greatly hampered internal progress. France thereby was held back at times when England, enjoying internal peace, was forging rapidly ahead. Germany,