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privileged continent. Each geographical subdivision of the continent has exerted its particular influence on life within its limits. This will be appreciated first by a comprehensive survey of the continent.
Although the smallest of all continents, Europe stands out on the map as the most important seat of history in the past two thousand
years. It occupies only one-thirteenth of the land area Europe's
of our planet but it is peopled by one-fourth of the world's Advantages
population. It lies in the very heart of the northern temperate zone where civilization has reached its highest form. No obstacle to communication with the rest of the world exists for Europeans. The continent is splendidly indented and the seas which penetrate it have shielded its inhabitants from the bane of isolation. Travel over these seas was easy and brought European peoples into contact with one another. Along the sea lanes Vikings met adventurous Argonauts or piratical Illyrians. A wholesome interchange of ideas accompanied commercial barter. On land the vast northern plain is an ancient road of commerce and of invasion. Between Paris and Moscow the railroad line extends without tunnels or steep grades. Intercourse with remotest Asia has been maintained uninterruptedly; Africa lies at Europe's very door. That admirable lane of travel known as the Mediterranean has supplied the continent with men, products and ideas from the most favored sections of Asia. And the wide Atlantic, far from being a barrier, has united America to Europe. Economically and historically this absence of natural boundaries has made of Europe the center of the world's human activity.
The debt of the continent to geography can be detected in all its features. By climate it lies open to tempering maritime influences.
Temperature and humidity are maintained at seasonal Advantages
averages. Infrequency of excessive variations has faof Climate
vored European humanity. Nervous tension characteristic of climates in which changes in temperature and pressure are wide and frequent is rarely met among Europeans. For their benefit the currents of the Atlantic bring the warmth of distant southern regions. The prevailing winds in Europe also come from the southwest and contribute a supply of natural heat taken from warm regions. A temperature map of the world shows that for the same latitude Europe has on the average a warmer climate. Without these warm winds and currents the climate in Great Britain or northern Germany would be as cold as that of Labrador. Their share in European history has been ample. Further, they point to the existence of solid foundations for the individuality and unity of European life.
A union of European peoples does not exist however and the federation of the continent is a problem for coming generations which perhaps will realize better that in spite of its diversified features their continent suggests genuine uniformity. At present it is pertinent to note that each region has a character of its own and that nations are symbols of regional unity. The case of France and French nationality with all that it stands for is exemplary, because by its configuration no less than by its position France has been the meeting-place of peoples in western Europe.
A portion of the country's boundary is sharply set off by mountain and sea. The Atlantic, the Pyrenees, the Mediterranean, and the
mountains on the east from the Maritime Alps to the France a
Vosges provide France with frontiers which confined Meeting-place
French nationality within a definite habitat. On the north and northeast, however, French territory merges without sharp transition into the great lowland of northern Europe. The Teuton has taken advantage of this open stretch to swarm into France century after century since antiquity. Many of the troubled periods in the history of French nationality are manifestations of the ease with which Teutonic penetration of France was made possible. But if France was open on the north it had likewise a stretch of smiling sea coast on the south which was easily accessible to the stranger. Northern peoples met the southerners therefore upon French soil. The Teuton came under the name of Goth, Frank or Burgundian and mingled with Phænician, Greek and Roman who through Marseilles had reached every nook and corner of the country. In the early stage fusion was incomplete. The results were constant fighting on French soil and the existence of strongly marked class differences. The fact is true in every nation. The progress of fusion however was accompanied by peace within the land until French nationality emerged in modern history with the attribute of unity.
France therefore is essentially Europe's western highway of peoples. Upon its territory is found the western termination of the northern
plains of Europe and Asia. The great mountain system Effect on
of Central Europe likewise has its dying offshoots, on the People
west, in France. In the population a living reflection of these facts of geography are to be traced. The energy of northern
races is peculiar to Frenchmen, in whom also is found the softness and artistic sense of southern elements. Intellectually the French mind carries an admirable blend of vigorous and graceful thought. The lucidity of French scientific writing is universally recognized. Its mathematicians and its students of mechanics have presented the most abstruse conceptions of their arid studies in pleasant language. For these natural gifts Frenchmen are primarily indebted to their native land.
But this heritage of geography is tainted with dark aspects. To-day we watch the culminating effects of momentous movements due to the
northern gap in the continuity of France's natural boundary. A Fated
The historical sifting of centuries settled on the political Clash
problem of Alsace-Lorraine. In both Germany and France the forces of nationalism have crystallized into political entities only during the nineteenth century. The clash in the border zone was fated. Alsace and Lorraine have the common characteristic of being transition lands. Both provinces have felt the influences of two powerful adjoining nations. In Lorraine the struggle between French and German culture has been most intense because the province is a lowland easily accessible both on the east and the west. The mixed character of its population is therefore far more apparent than in Alsace.
The problem of this borderland requires mention of the Vosges mountains. In ancient times the ranges proved an effective barrier to communication between France and Germany. The height of crests, thickly wooded flanks and the lack of defiles led to their being shunned alike by the ancestors of Frenchmen and Germans. Teutonic invaders have always avoided the slopes, preferring to follow the Belfort gap on the south or to turn its northern edge where the plateau of Lorraine afforded easier routes. The demands of medieval industry contributed principally to the peopling of the mountains. To-day the highland population consists principally of descendants of miners or wood-cutters. On the sides facing France are found districts where French is spoken exclusively, while Alsatian dialects are met on the east. The linguistic boundary is sharply marked by the line of crests extending along the entire length of the uplift. The boundary delimitation of 1871 was laid with slight regard to this natural division and runs since then well within an area peopled by French inhabitants.
In both Alsace and Lorraine an easterly expansion of French culture as represented by language is observable since the 16th century.
This linguistic advance may be taken as the symbol French
of the preference felt in the two provinces for French Tongue Gains
civilization. It is particularly wide in Lorraine because here the country is less mountainous. Upon strictly linguistic grounds Germany cannot claim a considerable area of Lorraine.
The predominance of the French language in Lorraine is a victory of which Frenchmen may well be proud. It was the triumph of culture and refinement over aggression. France fought for supremacy in Lorraine with the tool of high ideals and all the armament of Teutonic warriors proved unavailing to prevent the steady advance of French thought and ideas. So of old had conquered Greece subdued her victors. To-day the stronghold of Metz is the center of a thoroughly French district. For many miles to the east and south, within territory which is still German, French language and ideals hold sway. This moral conquest is also strongly felt in Alsace where, in spite of his Teutonic dialect, the Alsatian is a Frenchman at heart, and this in spite of the formidable barrier of the Vosges.
The opening in the mountain border of France has therefore affected the country adversely. In Belgium too a similar evil is due to the
same cause. This small nation's only natural fronBelgium Always
tier is the sea on the west. Its territory is borderless Overrun
on the other sides. Belgium therefore became the hedge country in which French and German elements met. It has been the alternate prey of Teuton and Roman. Its population today is made up of two elements, the Flemish and the Walloon, each representing the two great peoples of western Europe. Time has welded the two Belgian elements into a nation endowed with consciousness of its individuality. But the curse of its unfortunate position has hovered over the land through the ages to our day.
The country is divided within itself into a hilly and a depressed area. The uplands are peopled by the Walloons and form the area
of French language. The lowland is the home of Belgian National Unity
the Flemings who speak a Teutonic dialect but
who also know French. For an official and the business language of Belgium is French. This language is also that of polite society and represents the existence of national unity. With all the diversity brought about by race and environment both Flemings and Walloons consider themselves as Belgians above everything else. This union rests on solid economic foundations; for the
GERMANY'S CENTRAL PLACE
two main divisions complement each other. The lowlands contain the farming and trading centers of the country, while the hills have become the seat of thriving mining and metallurgical industries. The needs of the population are filled by exchanges which take place within the land. This condition is one in which culture has turned environment to advantage with results beneficial to nationality.
The part played in history by Europe's northern plain looms so far in an unfavorable light. It is the home of the Teutonic peoples
and the seat of German power. Germany in Europe Germany's
is the country of the core. The nation occupies on Central Place
the map a magnificently central position between the Latin and the Slavic world. German writers have dwelt on this enviable location with the utmost elation. “The heart of Europe" is the appellation they often bestow upon their land. That this position has contributed to the strength of Germany in war we know to-day. In view of this, the lateness in the achievement of German national unity is surprising. Here again the evidence of the map is illuminating. German national territory comprises both a mountain zone and a lowland. The transition between these two natural regions is obtained by a series of subzones of decreasing elevation but which are endowed with sufficient physical importance to form distinct areas of peopling.
This fact coupled to the utter lack of frontiers on the northern plain explains why Germany was divided into a large number of petty states down to the memory of living generations. Comparison of German physical and historical maps shows that the political morseling of German territory is particularly intense in the mountainous areas of the south and southwest. And each unit can be traced to its geographical foundation. Thus to mention only a few Bavaria represents the upper basin of the Danube, Wurtemberg the upper valley of the Neckar and Franconia the higher valleys of the Main.
This geographical phase of German history is repeated to a certain extent in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The territory of the
Dual Monarchy is even more diversified than that Artificial
of its Teutonic neighbor and ally. It will be shown Austria-Hungary
below that the varied elements making up the population of the empire represent distinct natural regions. Austria-Hungary is not a nation but only a political state. This artificial unity is due to a single cause, to wit, the existence of the important Danube corridor. Barring the Volga, this river is the