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The Century ends! The Century begins! That is the cry in the high Courts of Time which matches the weaker cry in lesser-courts, "The King is dead! Long live the King!” As in the latter, so in the former: There is no interregnum. Life touches life, and death can make not even an infinitesimal interval between. The sixtieth second of the sixtieth minute of the twenty-fourth hour of the thirty-first day of the twelfth month of the nineteen hundredth year was still in the nineteenth century. The first second of the first ininute of the first hour of the first day of the first month of the nineteen hundred and first year is already in the twentieth century. The step is instantaneous from the completed to the promised, from the ended to the begun, from the known to the unknown. From before the latter we cannot raise the veil, save as thread by thread it is withdrawn by the too slow and yet too rapid hand of Time. Upon the former as a finished and irrevocable whole, the contemplative eye may rest and the discriminating judgment dwell.
It is a common practice to compare day with preceding day and year with preceding year. Thus also, in reviewing former ages, we may compare century with century. Not so this latest cycle. One knows not whether the praise or the blame of laudator temporis acti will be incurred in declaring that no other century of recorded time is on the whole worthy to be compared with this, the only century which living men of to-day have ever known. It matters not. We shall commend ourselves to thoughtful judgment if we hold in ample confidence that the nineteenth century is to be compared, and not to its own disadvantage, not with any one but with all the other centuries united which have elapsed since the beginning of the Christian era. One century against eighteen, and in the last analysis of trial the one will not be found wanting.
In those tụmultuous annals, in whose absence from the history books, according to the Sage of Chelsea, resides the happiness of peoples, but in whose presence chronicles possess much of their interest and their illumination, the century has not been lacking. It came into being with the Napoleonic wars, with Austerlitz and Jena, with Trafalgar and Waterloo. It saw our war with the Barbary States, and then our second war with Great Britain. There followed wars for independence in Central and South America and in Greece; wars of conquest in India, in Persia and in the Ottoman Empire; the conquest of Algeria, the Belgian revolution, the final crushing of Poland, the Carlist wars and our own numerous Indian wars, invasion of Afghanistan and aggressions upon China. Then came on in one tremendous cataclysm our Mexican war, the Sikh war, the Hungarian revolution, and a mad swirl of revolutionary and reactionary wars in almost every European land. These furies began to subside only to make room for the colossal Taiping rebellion, the Crimean War, the Sepoy Mutiny and
the Italian War of Liberation, with lesser wars in China and Syria and Persia. Then, while the world was still ringing with echoes of Balaklava and Ilucknow and Magenta and Marsala, our gigantic Civil War marked a new epoch, at once in war and in peace. For even so vast a spectacle, however, the world did not stand still. There were at the same time, and following closely after, wars in Mexico, in Italy, in Cochin China, in Schleswig-Holstein, and finally the six weeks war between Prussia and Austria, which introduced new war lords to the startled world. There was an interlude of petty wars in Asia and South America, and a revolution in Spain, and then came on the FrancoGerman war, with Metz, Sedan and the fall of Paris. Carlist war, Cuban war, Ashantee war, Atcheen war and war in the Balkans swiftly succeeded, the last named culminating in the great struggle betweeen Turkey and Russia. There followed the first Transvaal war, another Afghan war, the Zulu war, the war between Chili and Peru, the French conquest of Tunis, the Russian conquest of Turkestan, the revolt of Arabi in Egypt, the Mahdist revolt in the Soudan and the heroism and martyrdom of Gordon. These were succeeded by the French war in Tonquin, the British conquest of Burmah, the Servo-Bulgarian war, the French conquest of Siam, the revolution in Brazil, the great war between China and Japan, the Italian war in Abyssinia, and lesser conflicts in South Africa, the Philippines, Madagascar, Crete and Ashantee. Nor was the century to close in peace, for in its latest years came the Greco-Turkish war, the Cuban rebellion, our war with Spain, the war for the redemption of the Soudan, the second Transvaal war and the Boxer outbreak and the armed intervention of the Powers in China. These, with a score or more of minor wars make up a record of belligerency surpassed by that of few other centuries.
The political changes wrought during the nineteenth century surpass those of any other since the fall of Rome. When the century began Republicanism stood at bay in our thirteen States, constitutional monarchy was in a state of siege in Great Britain, and all the rest of the world, with fragmentary exceptions, was given up to absolutism. TOday practically all the Western Hemisphere-scarcely excepting Canada -is triumphantly republican, together with one of the chief Powers of Europe; and all the rest of Europe, save Turkey and Russia, is more constitutional and liberal than England was when the century began. Japan is a liberal, constitutional realm, and great free governments have been established in South Africa and in the islands of the sea. The United States has expanded, persistently, consistently and logically, under its constitutional provisions, from a chain of thirteen States on the eastward Appalachian slope to a continental domain of forty-five States, with outlying possessions in both hemispheres. The Spanish provinces of Central and South America, passing through phases of dictatorship in Paraguay and empire in Brazil and Mexico, have become independent republics. A few wrangling provinces and an unknown wilderness have grown into the splendid Dominion of Canada. In Europe Poland has disappeared, Turkey has been reduced to a