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and that is so generally known. This is the case in the industrial world, in the scientific world, in the political world sphere of human life. This has been the case with the great inventors, the great reformers and other pioneers of progress; it has been the case even with the great speculators in abstract science — nay, at times even with great innovation in literature and the fine arts. The idea appears — a new thing in an old world; it is like the voice in the wilderness; it is the light that shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not. At first it is hardly understood; perhaps it is misinterpreted, misrepresented, grossly attacked, shamefully ridiculed, unmercifully satirized. But it fights against all opposition, nevertheless; and, when its term of probation is past, when it has shown that it is what it claimed to be, it is maintained and applauded ly a grateful and admiring nation, perhaps by a grateful and admiring world. The stone that the builders refused becomes the corner-stone of the temple.
Though a long and severe probation has its serious drawbacks, it is in the nature of things, and it is often just, that the new thing should be compelled to show its worth before it is accepted and extolled; and the poet does not counsel unwisely when he says, prove before ye praise.” This is a practical world, requiring useful works and not empty words; therefore, words and schemes and plans must show that they are pregnant with what Bacon calls “ fruit" before they gain our acceptance and praise.
This was the case, for instance, with His Majesty the Emperor of Russia, who proposed and fathered the meeting of the First Peace Conference of The Hague in 1899, and the effects of whose very humanitarian plans and propositions are now eagerly awaited by the whole thinking world. Those effects may not be seen to-day, nor yet to-morrow, but they will certainly be seen at last, for nothing good can die, and we venture to affirm that, at no very distant date, the work of the First Peace Conference of The Hague will be the fundamental basis of the political life of the nations. Though by no means visionary optimists, we are yet far from being gloomy pessimists, and in spite of the incredulity of those who express want of confidence in our hopes and plans we can not help regarding the prospect before us with much complacency, believing as we do in the attainment of the noblest ideals of humanity, and knowing that though man is not perfectible, he certainly is improvable.
It must be admitted, however, that at times the pessimists seem to have no mean case; nor do they refrain from trying to make the most of it. They point to the Russo-Japanese war, one of the most costly and sanguinary wars of modern times, and exclaim triumphantly:
Is this the peace predicted by the Czar? Is this the international brotherhood which the Hague Conference labored to secure ? have not passed since the deliberations of that wonderful assembly, and, behold ! instead of the olive branch of peace we have wars and rumors of war!
But the circumstance that the tragic conflict was inevitable shows that the Czar was gifted with no small share of foresight when he proposed that there should be an international assembly to consider the
ways and means of diminishing the barbarities of warfare and the chances of war, and the great Monarch showed that he was not at all destitute of universal benevolence when he even avowed that the goal of all his endeavors was the entire abolition of war — the dawn of that world-wide peace which will be one of the greatest blessings of civilization. That peace can not be attained in a day, but we may do all that lies in our power to hasten its advent. Let us not attempt to deprive a statesman of his well-merited fame. To the Czar belongs the glory of ackowledging and proclaiming his belief in the possibility of an international bond of union; to him belongs the glory of making the first important step toward an era of universal peace. Continuing his good work, we shall approach nearer and nearer to that grand future, and posterity will continue the march
Till the war-drum throbs no longer, and the battle flags are furl'd In the parliament of man, the federation of the world.
No step in the march of progress is made precipitately, and it is useless trying to hurry mankind along. The historical process of ideas requires a slow gestation in order that they may have healthful life and proportion. No nation can be stopped suddenly and compelled to make a hasty change in its course; and no wise statesman will attempt in one day to ingraft new institutions in the life of a nation, and require the nation to submit at once to new ideals, to accept at once new habits of thought, new customs of every-day life. A nation on the eve of a great reform may be compared to a railway train that is about to make a very remarkable change in its course, to enter upon a new road and travel in a new direction; it must slacken speed before it can take the new route. If the enginedriver tries to make the change suddenly, there will probably be a very frightful accident. In the same manner, a nation and not be required to change its course in a day, without any previous preparation, else there will be revolutionary violence. For a nation is a very delicate machine; it is fraught with inherited passions and prejudices, instincts and impulses, and is always acting in accordance, more or less, with certain creeds, customs and formulas, and is often led by the heart rather than by the head. He who would be a great reformer must first become a careful student of human nature, and must know that wariness is inseparable from wisdom.
The advocates of peace are well aware of this, and they are not trying to reform the world in a day. They are not idle theorists planning the creation of a new mankind, but practical statesmen fully sensible of the limits of human ability; they are not trying to beatify human nature, but to ameliorate human conditions. Their great work was begun at the First Peace Conference of The Hague in 1899, which prepared the way for the Second Peace Conference, and for all the peace conferences that may ever meet, until the last and grandest of these conventions shall exhibit to a reformed, intelligent, and aspiring world the sublime spectacle of the ultimate triumph of peace.
That conference — if we may indulge for a moment in prognosticating so far a result — that great body, having new functions, using new means to accomplish the most far-reaching plans, will have its power based on the respect and gratitude and common sense of mankind.
The Second Peace Conference of The Hague, which was first suggested by the President of the United States, and to which the Czar invited the representatives of all the nations, marked a decided advance in the work of the advocates of peace.
The First Conference had established a court of arbitration with power to pronounce decision in any dispute that might arise between two or more of the nations. But this court was permanent only in name; it had no fixed residence anywhere, and whenever prompt action and summary proceedings were necessary it proved to be inefficacious.
In the Second Conference of The Hague, the Americans proposed to establish a judicial court of arbitration, which should be composed of the representatives of all the nations that signed the protocol. It was intended that in the bosom of this court should be deputed a tribunal of delegates having a permanent residence, being always ready to attend to every new matter at the earliest possible date, so that the court of arbitration might be able to deal with it in a business-like manner. We are confident that the future peace conferences will recall this motion with deep interest and sympathy, and that it will become at last the ultimate law of the nations.
On reviewing the history of mankind it may seem strange that, after a series of so many great improvements, after so many salutary reforms and spirit-stirring revolutions, the civilized nations should be, in one very important respect, almost on a par with the ancient savages.
We have made amazing progress in all the physical sciences, and wherever we turn we see the domination of man over matter. We have wrested precious secrets from the bosom of nature; we have made the elements subservient to our wishes; we have analyzed the component parts of the material universe; we have detected the existence of the infinitesimal worlds around us; we have attempted to bring the planetary system within a few leagues of our observation; we have tried seriously to penetrate the veil that conceals the Infinite and Eternal; we have reached a very high grade of government and law, of civil and intellectual liberty. But, in spite of all this, we still see the fiends of rivalry and jealousy on the frontiers that separate the political entities, and as ready to make havoc and destruction among them as in the warlike days of old.
But in truth we are going farther and farther from the savage state; and, if war is lasting longer than other barbarous customs and practices have lasted, it is because the desire to fight and to dominate by physical force and by cunning is more deeply implanted in our nature than many other desires; therefore it is that it must be very resolutely and uncompromisingly combated. When the Renaissance dawned in Europe it was no longer possible for “ Arma virumque ” to be the central subject in the universe, and to-day an up-to-date Virgil would sing “ Arts and the Man,” or “ Thoughts and the Man," or, better yet, “ The Works of Man.”
Arbitration is an excellent medium for preserving peace and good will, and international arbitration may be considered a heavenly blessing to man. It is the only institution that can and will be successful in the campaign against warlike customs and theories.
But it must be impartial, free from motives of petty interest; it must be invested with incontrovertible moral authority, and must have the profound respect of the nations; it must be a high court of justice against whose decisions there can be no appeal; it must be free from corruption, and from suspicion of corruption. The circumstance that many statesmen of our day have conceived the idea of such arbitration says much for the wisdom that is to be found in modern statecraft; and among those statesmen who have distinguished themselves by their zeal and their exertions in the cause of peace Mr. Elihu Root, the eminent American Secretary of State, holds a very conspicuous place.
- In having had the honor to be a factor in establishing the first international court of justice, Central America has been singularly fortunate; but the glory of having initiated this beneficent idea will be forever associated with the names of the American delegates at the Second Peace Conference of The Hague, whose great project still stands, and, we venture to say, will never be forgotten.
We feel certain that the next international peace conference of The Hague will find the Central American Court of Justice established on a firm foundation, performing all its high duties in a manner honorable to itself and to the republics of the Isthmus, continuing, with unabating zeal, the noble work of union and consolidation, revered as a sacred depository of wisdom and learning, virtue and truth, administering justice with equal hand, and universally acknowledged to be the representative of the conscience of civilized humanity.