But the general act of the Brussels Conference is clear and adequate as to what the purpose of the Powers should be. “To put an end to the crimes and devastations engendered by the traffic in African slaves, to protect effectively the aboriginal populations of Africa, to ensure for that vast continent the benefits of peace and civilization”, is in fact the whole duty of a united western civilization when dealing with the less civilized. The results achieved may well seem small compared with the magnitude of the purpose, but those who know most about it do not despise them. Slave-raiding and tribal wars have been diminished and some check put on importing arms and spirits.
It is not a topic on which it is easy to keep a cheerful mind. Some Putumayo will constantly occur to remind us of the fierce brutality of strength unsupervised and unrestrained. We compare the actual performance of mankind when free to try their best or wreak their worst on comparatively defenceless folk, with the noble rivalry which we can imagine between the nations of the world in leading the weaker people to develop their resources and themselves, on paths which may tend to the greatest prosperity and happiness of all, advanced and backward together: and the comparison leaves us sick at heart. But a sober judgement will not deny that even here advance is being made. The ideal has been admitted. The rights of smaller States are being made, as in the present conflict, the subject of the concern of their strongest neighbours. Steps are being taken all over the world to preserve and ameliorate the remnants of primitive people. Horrors when revealed are more strongly reprobated. Missionaries are pursuing their labours with more enlightenment and zeal, and in wider spheres. In spite of cynics and doubters, it is true in this as in the other activities of a united mankind, e pur si muove. And as the work moves on it is seen to involve the same guiding thoughts that inspire us in the case of the young and feeble at home—pity for their weakness, love for their humanity, hope for the future.
BOOKS FOR REFERENCE
Kant’s Perpetual Peace (new edition just published).
International Policy. Chapman & Hall.
Fayle, The Great Settlement. Murray.
The Leadership of the World. (Oxford pamphlet.)