Stead, William Thomas: Europa
France! heroic France! France of St. Louis and of Jean d’ Ark, is also France of Voltaire and of Diana of Poictiers, of Moliere and Dumas, of Louis Pasteur and Sarah Bernhardt! What other nation has produced so many of the highest realized ideals of human capacity on so many different lines? Even now, when the nation that built Notre Dame and Chartres Cathedral has taken to riveting together the girders which make the Eiffel Tower, France is still France, the glory and the despair of the human race.
Space fails me to do more than cast a rapid glance at the smaller States, each of which nevertheless contributes elements of vital worth to the great European whole. Much indeed might be said of Holland, that land won by spadefuls from the sea, protected by dykes and drained by windmills, in order to provide a level spot of verdure on which the most phlegmatic and industrious of mortal men could rear a sober commonwealth under a regal shade, and which, before it became a kingdom, had bidden high for the Empire of the Indies. Sea-power, now the sceptre of our sovereignty, was grasped by the Dutch before it was seized by the English, It was only in the last two hundred years that the Netherlands fell behind us in the race for empire.
Belgium, once the cock-pit of Europe, is now the most crowded hive of human industry. In no State are more men reared per acre, nowhere does patient husbandry win larger crops from indifferent soil; while in forge and factory and in mine the Belgian workmen challenge comparison with the world. Belgian competition is pressing us hard in Russia, in Persia, and in many lands where Belgian goods were recently unknown.
At the other end of Europe there is Greece -a name which, if nothing more than a name, is in itself an inspiration. The modern Greek, only too faithful an inheritor of many of the failings of his famous ancestors, has at least succeded to the heritage of Olympus. No matter what may be his political feelings or his misfortune in war, the Greek is still the Greek, and behind the rabble rout of office-seekers which renders government impossible at Athens there still looms the majestic shades of those “lost gods and god-like men” which have kindled the imagination of our race since the days when Homer sang the tale of Troy divine. As the Acropolis is the crown of Athens, so Hellas was the crown of the world, and that crown neither Turk, barbarian, nor the place-hunting politician of modern Greece can ever take away. The myths, the traditions, and the history of Hellas form the brightest diamonds in the tiara of Europe.
Earth proudly wears the Parthenon
As the best gem upon her zone.
There remain to be noticed but two of all the band of nations whose States will form the European Union -England and Germany. These two Empires, which are at present sundered by a certain jarring dissonance that is all the more keenly felt because their temperaments and ambitions are so much alike, are the Powers naturally marked out for promoting the complete realization of the ideal of the United States of Europe. Some months ago I took the liberty of describing the German Emperor as the Lord Chief Justice of Europe. It is a role which he alone is competent to fill. No other potentate on the Continent has either the energy, the ambition, or the idealism capable of playing so great a role. Germany, which, after the travail of ages, has achieved her own unity, is of all the Powers the best fitted to undertake the leadership in the great work of completing the federation of Europe. Germany, also, from her central situation, is better placed than any other Power for undertaking the task. The traditions also of the Holy Roman Empire still linger around the Eagles of Germany, and the Empire is already the nucleus of a combination which places the forces of Central Europe, from Kiel to Brindisi, at the disposal of the Alliance. The Kaiser quite recently informed us that it is not his fault that more cordial relations have not been established between the Triple Alliance and France. As this is written he is about to visit St. Petersburg, when he will undoubtedly endeavor to draw closer the ties which unite Germany and Russia. Should he succeed in his endeavors, the attainment of a practical federation of Europe without England would lie within his reach.