BLTC Press Titles


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The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting


Vanity Fair

William Thackery


Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller


Shakti and Shakta

John Woodroffe


Ancient and modern imperialism

by Evelyn Baring Cromer (Earl of)

Excerpt:

2 Breasted, "A History of Egypt," p. 320.

boastful and incompetent Xerxes aimed at universal empire.1

Athens, before it was discovered that the true vocation of the Greek was the intellectual rather than the material conquest of the world, also founded a short-lived empire.2 It would be interesting to know in some detail what effect this short essay in Imperialism produced on the democratic institutions of the metropolis. So far, however, as I am aware, we are obliged, in the absence of contemporaneous appreciations

1 In addressing the notables of Persia before starting on his celebrated expedition, Xerxes said: el Toutous Tc (i.e., the Athenians) /cat Tovs Tovtouti n-A^crioxwpoi's KaTa.aTpe.\j/afieOa . . . yrjv Trjv HepcriSa. diroSe^ofiev t<j! Atos aWepi ofiovpeomrav' ovSi yap aWrfV \wprjv ye ovSefuav KaToipeTai ?]A.i0s op.ovpov iov&av Ty -qp-eTepy (Her., vii. 8).

2 There has been a good deal of difference of opinion, both amongst ancient and modern authorities, as to how long the Athenian Empire can be said to have lasted, but all computations date from B.c. 471 as the commencement of the riyefiovia, if not of the a.pyji (see Grote, Hist., vol. iv., p. 380, note, and Thuc, i. 94-97). The matter is discussed in Clinton's "Fasti Hellenici," vol. ii., pp. 303-08. The preservation of empire depended 2,300 years ago, as it does still, on maintaining the sovereignty of the sea. The Athenian sea-power was crushed at jEgospotamos in B.C. 405. If that event be taken as the date of the fall of the empire, its duration was seventy-two years.

to serve as a guide,1 to form our own somewhat conjectural conclusions on this important point, This historical episode is, however, not without its moral in connection with the subject now under discussion. Dr. Holm contests the view advanced by other historians, notably by Curtius, that, after a meteor-like flash of supremacy, the Athenian character degenerated.2 He does not admit the plea that the fall of Athens can be used as a charge against democratic institutions in general, but he points out that the kind of democracy which existed in Athens, notably after the death of

1 Aristotle makes a very brief allusion to this subject in his account of the Constitution of Athens (c. 24), but he merely gives the number of knights, jurymen, etc., who were paid out of the contribution and taxes levied on the allies. One of the results of the extension of the Athenian Empire was to enlarge greatly the jurisdiction of the dikasteries, which, so far as I can judge, appear to have filled somewhat the same position as our Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Grote, in spite of his manifest tendency to treat any defects in Athenian institutions with great tenderness, admits (Hist., vol. iv., p. 371) that the dikasteries were "not always impartial between the Athenian Commonwealth collectively and the subject-allies."

* Holm, "History of Greece," vol. iii., p. 195.

Pericles, was subversive of all good government; that, in the absence both of any executive government in the proper sense of the term, and of anything approaching to the modern system of party, the decisions of the Athenian people became merely a series of isolated measures, wanting in all consistency and continuity; and that not only broad political issues, but every detail of the administration, was submitted to the decision of the popular voice, with the result, inter alia, that a defective foreign policy was adopted, which brought about the ruin of the State.1 If this view be correct, British Imperialists may derive some consolation from the reflection that the experience of Athens cannot be used as an argument to prove that democratic institutions must necessarily be incompatible with the execution of a sane Imperial policy, but rather as one to show the fatal effects pro


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