National Geographic : 1906 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE agency has come the migration of na tions; the transfer of power, whether economic, industrial, or political; the development of mankind, and the growth of civilization. The work of geographical explora tions has usually passed through three distinctive phases: First, commercial purposes; second, advancement of knowledge; third, scientific explora tions. Prolific as have been the earlier stages, it is the last named which has been the most potent force in the de velopment of America, especially in the past, and which is so rapidly changing Australia and Africa at the present time. All and any of these methods have been, it is believed, fully success ful only as far as there have been con joined therewith moral forces as ad juncts to physical efforts. In his quaint history of Muscovia, the immortal Milton, passing beyond the common features of geography .as to mountains and rivers, as to longi tudes and latitudes-argued that its higher scope included broad phases of earth conditions and human relations well suited for the efforts of a learned and judicious mind. It is notable that with his high ideals the blind poet, clearly discerning moral relations, sharply discriminated between explora tion for gain and that for nobler pur poses. Following afar this great master of English speech and forceful fashioner of human thought, it is well to make clear the essential points. As material results are classed those where the outcome is mainly pecuniary and physical, most frequently in the form of commercial or industrial ex ploitation, in mining gold, silver, or cop per, etc. The moral results are asso ciated with the generous assimilation and liberal development of discovered regions, under conditions whereby the civilized world benefits in the aggre gate, and primitive folk are raised higher in the scale of humanity. In such cases the natural resources of the country and the mental activities of the people are made to increasingly sub serve the new regions involved and by reaction similarly improve the rest of the world. Intelligence, justice, tem perance, tolerance, fair dealing, and educative methods along the higher moralities are essential qualities of the true explorer. Their practical and suc cessful application is an important fac tor in the evolution from uncivilized materials of a modern state, so as to justify its admission to international comity. We will now consider failures, satis factory results, and striking successes, especially along moral lines. THE POLO BROTHERS Probably the greatest failure to util ize geographical exploration of an epoch-making character is that asso ciated with the journeys of the Polo brothers. Not only did material inter ests suffer from closing for five centu ries and more commercial traffic across densely poplated Asia from the Medi terranean to the China Sea, but its high moral possibilities were absolutely neglected. The three Venetians, through years of service, attained great power and influence at the court of Kublai Khan, the great emperor of China. Inspired with a desire to dis place Confucianism, Kublai Khan com missioned, on their departure, the Polos as messengers to ask the Pope to send missionaries to his people. Ecclesias tical quarrels then engrossed all Chris tendom, the Grand Lama intervened with Buddhism, and later Islamitic proselytism closed China to western in fluence for centuries. It bewilders one to imagine the potent changes which six centuries of Christianity as a state religion might have wrought in the Chinese Empire.