Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/94

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mountain fastnesses held the world away, and selection chose the best and for the best purposes, casting aside the weakling, and the slave, holding the man for the man's work, and ever the man's work was at home, building the cities, subduing the forests, draining the marshes, adjusting the customs and statutes, preparing for the new generations. So the men begat sons of men after their own fashion, and the men of strength and courage were ever dominant. The Spirit of Freedom is a wise master; he cares wisely for all that he controls.

So in the early days, when Romans were men, when Rome was small, without glory, without riches, without colonies and without slaves, these were the days of Roman greatness.

Then the Spirit of Freedom little by little gave way to the Spirit of Domination. Conscious of power, men sought to exercise it, not on themselves but on one another. Little by little, this meant banding together, aggression, suppression, plunder, struggle, glory and all that goes with the pomp and circumstance of war. The individuality of men was lost in the aggrandizement of the few. Independence was swallowed up in ambition, patriotism came to have a new meaning. It was transferred from the hearth and home to the trail of the army.

It does not matter to us now what were the details of the subsequent history of Rome. We have now to consider only a single factor. In science, this factor is known as "reversal of selection." "Send forth the best ye breed! "That was the word of the Roman war-call. And the spirit of domination took these words literally, and the best were sent forth. In the conquests of Rome, Vir, the real man, went forth to battle and to the work of foreign invasion; Homo, the human being, remained on the farm and in the workshop and begat the new generations. Thus "Vir gave place to Homo." The sons of real men gave places to the sons of scullions, stable-boys, slaves, camp-followers and the riffraff of those the great victorious army did not want.

The fall of Rome was not due to luxury, effeminacy, corruption, the wickedness of Nero and Caligula, the weakness of the train of Constantine's worthless descendants. It was fixed at Philippi, when the spirit of domination was victorious over the spirit of freedom. It was fixed still earlier, in the rise of consuls and triumvirates and the fall of the simple, sturdy, self-sufficient race who would brook no arbitrary ruler. When the real men fell in war, or were left in far-away colonies, the life of Rome still went on. But it was a different type of Roman which continued it, and this new type repeated in Roman history its weakling parentage.

Thus we read in Roman history of the rise of the mob and of the emperor who is the mob's exponent. It is not the presence of the emperor which makes imperialism. It is the absence of the people, the want of men. Babies in their day have been emperors. A wooden image would