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Title: Critical Miscellanies (Vol. 3 of 3) - Essay 9: The Expansion of England
Author: Morley, John, 1838-1923
Language: English
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  CRITICAL
  MISCELLANIES


  BY


  JOHN MORLEY


  VOL. III.


  Essay 9: The Expansion of England


  London
  MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
  NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
  1904



THE EXPANSION OF ENGLAND.


  Politics and History                                             291

  In relation to the eighteenth century                            294

  Mr. Green and his _History of the English People_                297

  The secession of the American colonies                           300

  The mechanical and industrial development of England             301

  The Americans and Independence                                   303

  The moral of Mr. Seeley's book                                   305

  Organisation in time of war                                      306

  Sir Henry Parkes on Australia                                    307

  Mr. Archibald Forbes and the Australian colonies                 313

  Proposals made by the Earl of Dunraven regarding the
  colonies                                                         316

  The formation of an imperial Zollverein or Greater Customs
  Union                                                            318

  Sir Thomas Farrer's _Fair Trade_ v. _Free Trade_                 318

  The colonies to be represented in the British Parliament         319

  Lord Grey                                                        320

  Mr. W. E. Forster's address on our Colonial Empire               321

  The Newfoundland Fishery dispute                                 329

  The Germanic Confederation                                       331

  Conclusion                                                       334



THE EXPANSION OF ENGLAND.


'There is a vulgar view of politics which sinks them into a mere
struggle of interests and parties, and there is a foppish kind of
history which aims only at literary display, which produces delightful
books hovering between poetry and prose. These perversions, according
to me, come from an unnatural divorce between two subjects which
belong to one another. Politics are vulgar when they are not
liberalised by history, and history fades into mere literature when it
loses sight of its relation to practical politics.' These very just
remarks are made by Mr. Seeley in a new book which everybody has been
reading, and which is an extremely interesting example of that union
of politics with history which its author regards as so useful or even
indispensable for the successful prosecution of either history or
politics. His lectures on the expansion of England contain a
suggestive and valuable study of two great movements in our history,
one of them the expansion of the English nation and state together by
means of colonies; the other, the stranger expansion by which the vast
population of India has passed under the rule of Englishmen. Mr.
Seeley has in his new volume recovered his singularly attractive
style and power of literary form. It underwent some obscuration in the
three volumes in which the great transformation of Germany and Prussia
during the Napoleonic age was not very happily grouped round a
biography of Stein. But here the reader once more finds that ease,
lucidity, persuasiveness, and mild gravity that were first shown, as
they were probably first acquired, in the serious consideration of
religious and ethical subjects. Mr. Seeley's aversion for the florid,
rhetorical, and over-decorated fashion of writing history has not
carried him to the opposite extreme, but it has made him seek sources
of interest, where alone the serious student of human affairs would
care to find them, in the magnitude of events, the changes of the
fortunes of states, and the derivation of momentous consequences from
long chains of antecedent causes.

The chances of the time have contributed to make Mr. Seeley's book, in
one sense at least, singularly opportune, and have given to a
philosophical study the actuality of a political pamphlet. The history
of the struggle between England and France for Canada and for India
acquires new point at a moment when the old rivalries are again too
likely to be awakened in Madagascar, in Oceania, and in more than one
region of Africa. The history of the enlargement of the English state,
the last survivor of a family of great colonial empires, has a vivid
reality at a time when Australasia is calling upon us once more to
extend our borders, and take new races under our sway. The discussion
of a colonial system ceases to be an abstract debate, and becomes a
question of practical emergency, when a colonial convention presses
the diplomacy of the mother-country and prompts its foreign policy.
Mr. Seeley's book has thus come upon a tide of popular interest. It
has helped, and will still further help, to swell a sentiment that was
already slowly rising to full flood. History, it would seem, can speak
with two voices--even to disciples equally honest, industrious, and
competent. Twenty years ago there was a Regius Professor of History at
Oxford who took the same view of his study as is expressed in the
words at the head of this article. He applied his mind especially to
the colonial question, and came to a conclusion directly opposed to
that which commends itself to the Regius Professor of History at
Cambridge.[1] Since then a certain reaction has set in, which events
will probably show to be superficial, but of which while it lasts Mr.
Seeley's speculations will have the benefit. In 1867, when the
guarantee of the Canadian railway was proposed in Parliament, Mr.
Cave, the member for Barnstaple, remarked that instead of giving three
millions sterling with a view of separating Canada from the United
States, it would be more sensible and more patriotic to give ten
millions in order to unite them. Nobody protested against this remark.
If it were repeated to-day there would be a shout of disapprobation.
On the other hand we shall not have another proposal to guarantee a
colonial railway. This temporary fluctuation in opinion is not the
first instance of men cherishing the shadow after they have rid
themselves of the substance, and clinging with remarkable ardour to a
sentiment after they have made quite sure that it shall not
inconvenience them in practice.

     [1] _The Empire_, by Mr. Goldwin Smith, published in 1863--a
         masterpiece of brilliant style and finished dialectics.

Writing as a historian, Mr. Seeley exhorts us to look at the
eighteenth century in a new light and from a new standpoint, which he
exhibits with singular skill and power. We could only wish that he had
been a little less zealous on behalf of its novelty. His accents are
almost querulous as he complains of historical predecessors for their
blindness to what in plain truth we have always supposed that they
discerned quite as clearly as he discerns it himself. 'Our
historians,' he says, 'miss the true point of view in describing the
eighteenth century. They make too much of the mere parliamentary
wrangle and the agitations about liberty. They do not perceive that in
that century the history of England is not in England, but in America
and Asia.' 'I shall venture to assert,' he proceeds in another place,
'that the main struggle of England from the time of Louis XIV. to the
time of Napoleon was for the possession of the New World; and it is
for want of perceiving this that most of us find that century of
English history uninteresting.' The same teasing refrain runs through
the book. We might be disposed to traverse Mr. Seeley's assumption
that most of us do find the eighteenth century of English history
uninteresting. 'In a great part of it,' Mr. Seeley assures us, 'we see
nothing but stagnation. The wars seem to lead to nothing, and we do
not perceive the working of any new political ideas. That time seems
to have created little, so that we can only think of it as prosperous,
but not as memorable. Those dim figures, George I. and George II., the
long tame administrations of Walpole and Pelham, the commercial war
with Spain, the battles of Dettingen and Fontenoy, the foolish prime
minister Newcastle, the dull brawls of the Wilkes period, the
miserable American war--everywhere alike we seem to remark a want of
greatness, a distressing commonness and flatness in men and in
affairs.' This would be very sad if it were true, but is it true? A
plain man rubs his eyes in amazement at such reproaches. So far from
most of us finding the eighteenth century uninteresting, as prosperous
rather than memorable, as wanting in greatness, as distressing by the
commonness and the flatness of its men and its affairs, we undertake
to say that most of us, in the sense of most people who read the
English language, know more about, and feel less flatness, and are
more interested in the names of the eighteenth century than in those
of all other centuries put together. If we are to talk about 'popular
histories,' the writer who distances every competitor by an
immeasurable distance is Macaulay. Whatever may be said about that
illustrious man's style, his conception of history, his theories of
human society, it is at least beyond question or denial that his
_Essays_ have done more than any other writings of this generation to
settle the direction of men's historical interest and curiosity. From
Eton and Harrow down to an elementary school in St. Giles's or Bethnal
Green, Macaulay's _Essays_ are a text-book. At home and in the
colonies, they are on every shelf between Shakespeare and the Bible.
And of all these famous compositions, none are so widely read or so
well-known as those on Clive, Hastings, Chatham, Frederick, Johnson,
with the gallery of vigorous and animated figures that Macaulay
grouped round these great historic luminaries. We are not now saying
that Macaulay's view of the actors or the events of the eighteenth
century is sound, comprehensive, philosophical, or in any other way
meritorious; we are only examining the truth of Mr. Seeley's
assumption that the century which the most popular writer of the day
has treated in his most glowing, vivid, picturesque, and varied style,
is regarded by the majority of us as destitute of interest, as
containing neither memorable men nor memorable affairs, and as
overspread with an ignoble pall of all that is flat, stagnant, and
common.

Nor is there any better foundation for Mr. Seeley's somewhat
peremptory assertion that previous writers all miss what he considers
the true point in our history during the eighteenth century. It is
simply contrary to fact to assert that 'they do not perceive that in
that century the history of England is not in England, but in America
and Asia.' Mr. Green, for instance, was not strong in his grasp of the
eighteenth century, and that period is in many respects an extremely
unsatisfactory part of his work. Yet if we turn to his _History of the
English People_, this is what we find at the very outset of the
section that deals with modern England:--

     The Seven Years' War is in fact a turning point in our national
     history, as it is a turning point in the history of the world....
     From the close of the Seven Years' War it mattered little whether
     England counted for less or more with the nations around her. She
     was no longer a mere European power; she was no longer a rival of
     Germany or France. Her future action lay in a wider sphere than
     that of Europe. Mistress of Northern America, the future mistress
     of India, claiming as her own the empire of the seas, Britain
     suddenly towered high above nations whose position in a single
     continent doomed them to comparative insignificance in the
     after-history of the world. It is this that gives William Pitt so
     unique a position among our statesmen. His figure in fact stands
     at the opening of a new epoch in English history--in the history
     not of England only, but of the English race. However dimly and
     imperfectly, he alone among his fellows saw that the struggle of
     the Seven Years' War was a struggle of a wholly different order
     from the struggles that had gone before it. He felt that the
     stake he was playing for was something vaster than Britain's
     standing among the powers of Europe. Even while he backed
     Frederick in Germany, his eye was not on the Weser, but on the
     Hudson and the St. Lawrence. 'If I send an army to Germany,' he
     replied in memorable words to his assailants, 'it is because in
     Germany I can conquer America!'

This must be pronounced to be, at any rate, a very near approach to
that perception which Mr. Seeley denies to his predecessors, of the
truth that in the eighteenth century the expansion of England was the
important side of her destinies at that epoch.

Then there is Carlyle. Carlyle professed to think ill enough of the
eighteenth century--poor bankrupt century, and so forth,--but so
little did he find it common, flat, or uninteresting, that he could
never tear himself away from it. Can it be pretended that he, too,
'missed the true point of view'? Every reader of the _History of
Frederick_ remembers the Jenkins's-Ear-Question, and how 'half the
World lay hidden in embryo under it. Colonial-Empire, whose is it to
be? Shall half the world be England's, for industrial purposes; which
is innocent, laudable, conformable to the Multiplication Table, at
least, and other plain laws? Shall there be a Yankee Nation, shall
there not be; shall the New World be of Spanish type, shall it be of
English? Issues which we may call immense.' This, the possession of
the new world, was 'England's one Cause of War during the century we
are now upon (Bk. xii. ch. xii.) It is 'the soul of all these
Controversies and the one meaning they have' (xvi. xiv.) When the war
was over, and the peace made at Hubertsburgh, Carlyle apprehended as
clearly as words can express, what the issue of it was for England and
the English race. England, he says, is to have America and the
dominion of the seas,--considerable facts both,--'and in the rear of
these, the new Country is to get into such merchandisings,
colonisings, foreign settlings, gold nuggetings, as lay beyond the
drunkenest dreams of Jenkins (supposing Jenkins addicted to
liquor)--and in fact to enter on a universal uproar of Machineries,
Eldorados, "Unexampled Prosperities," which make a great noise for
themselves in the days now come,' with much more to the same effect
(xx. xiii.) Allowance made for the dialect, we do not see how the pith
and root of the matter, the connection between the transactions of the
eighteenth century and the industrial and colonial expansion that
followed them, could be more firmly or more accurately seized.

It would be unreasonable to expect these and other writers to isolate
the phenomena of national expansion, as Mr. Seeley has been free to
do, to the exclusion of other groups of highly important facts in the
movements of the time. They were writing history, not monograph. Nor
is it certain that Mr. Seeley has escaped the danger to which writers
of monographs are exposed. In isolating one set of social facts, the
student is naturally liable to make too much of them, in proportion to
other facts. Let us agree, for argument's sake, that the expansion of
England is the most important of the threads that it is the
historian's business to disengage from the rest of the great strand of
our history in the eighteenth century. That is no reason why we should
ignore the importance of the constitutional struggle between George
the Third and the Whigs, from his accession to the throne in 1760
down to the accession of the younger Pitt to power in 1784. Mr. Seeley
will not allow his pupils to waste a glance upon 'the dull brawls of
the Wilkes period.' Yet the author of the _Thoughts on the Present
Discontents_ thought it worth while to devote all the force of his
powerful genius to the exploration of the causes of these dull brawls,
and perceived under their surface great issues at stake for good
government and popular freedom. Mr. Seeley does justice to the
importance of the secession of the American colonies. He rightly calls
it a stupendous event, perhaps in itself greater than the French
Revolution, which so soon followed it. He only, however, discerns one
side of its momentous influence, the rise of a new state, and he has
not a word to say as to its momentous consequences to the internal
politics of the old state from which the colonies had cut themselves
off. Yet some of the acutest and greatest Englishmen then living, from
Richard Price up to Burke and Fox, believed that it was our battle at
home that our kinsfolk were fighting across the Atlantic Ocean, and
that the defeat and subjection of the colonists would have proved
fatal in the end to the liberties of England herself. Surely the
preservation of parliamentary freedom was as important as the
curtailment of British dominion, and only less important than the rise
of the new American state. Even for a monograph, Mr. Seeley puts his
theme in too exclusive a frame; and even from the point of his own
profession that he seeks to discover 'the laws by which states rise,
expand, and prosper or fall in this world,' his survey is not
sufficiently comprehensive, and his setting is too straitened.

Another criticism may be made upon the author's peculiar delimitation
of his subject. We will accept Mr. Seeley's definition of history as
having to do with the state, with the growth and the changes of a
certain corporate society, acting through certain functionaries and
certain assemblies. If the expansion of England was important, not
less important were other changes vitally affecting the internal
fortunes of the land that was destined to undergo this process.
Expansion only acquired its significance in consequence of what
happened in England itself. It is the growth of population at home, as
a result of our vast extension of manufactures, that makes our
colonies both possible and important. There would be nothing
capricious or perverse in treating the expansion of England over the
seas as strictly secondary to the expansion of England within her own
shores, and to all the causes of it in the material resources and the
energy and ingenuity of her sons at home. Supposing that a historian
were to choose to fix on the mechanical and industrial development of
England as the true point of view, we are not sure that as good a case
might not be made out for the inventions of Arkwright, Hargreaves, and
Crompton as for the acquisition of the colonies; for Brindley and Watt
as for Clive and Hastings. Enormous territory is only one of the
acquisitions or instruments of England, and we know no reason why that
particular element of growth should be singled out as overtopping the
other elements that made it so important as it is. It is not the mere
multiplication of a race, nor its diffusion over the habitable globe
that sets its deepest mark on the history of a state, but rather those
changes in idea, disposition, faculty, and, above all, in institution,
which settle what manner of race it shall be that does in this way
replenish the earth. From that point of view, after all, as
Tocqueville said, the greatest theatre of human affairs is not at
Sydney, it is not even at Washington, it is still in our old world of
Europe.

That the secession of the American colonies was a stupendous crisis,
Mr. Seeley recognises, but his dislike of the idea that their example
may be followed by other colonies seems to show that he does not agree
with many of us as to the real significance of that great event. He
admits, no doubt, that the American Union exerts a strong influence
upon us by 'the strange career it runs and the novel experiments it
tries.' These novel experiments in government, institutions, and
social development, are the most valuable results, as many think, of
the American state, and they are the results of its independence. Yet
independence is what Mr. Seeley dreads for our present colonies, both
for their own sake and ours. If any one thinks that America would be
very much what she now is, if she had lost her battle a hundred years
ago and had continued to be still attached to the English crown,
though by a very slender link, he must be very blind to what has gone
on in Australia.[2] The history of emigration in Canada, of
transportation in New South Wales, and of the disastrous
denationalisation of the land in Victoria, are useful illustrations of
the difference between the experiments of a centralised compared with
a decentralised system of government. Neither Australia nor Canada
approached the United States in vigour, originality, and spirit,
until, like the United States, they were left free to work out their
own problems in their own way. It is not the republican form of
government that has made all the difference, though that has had many
most considerable effects. Independence not only put Americans on
their mettle, but it left them with fresh views, with a temper of
unbounded adaptability, with an infinite readiness to try experiments,
and free room to indulge it as largely as ever they pleased. As Mr.
Seeley says, the American Union 'is beyond question the state in which
free will is most active and alive in every individual.' He says this,
and a few pages further on he agrees that 'there has never been in any
community so much happiness, or happiness of a kind so little
demoralising, as in the United States.' But he proceeds to deny, not
only that the causes of this happiness are political, but that it is
in any great degree the consequence of secession. He seems to assume
that if we accept the first proposition, the second follows. That is
not the case. Secession was a political event, but it was secession
that left unchecked scope and, more than that, gave a stimulus and an
impulse such as nothing else could have given, to the active play and
operation of all the non-political forces which Mr. Seeley describes,
and which exist in much the same degree in the colonies that still
remain to us. It is the value that we set on alacrity and freshness of
mind that makes us distrust any project that interferes with the
unfettered play and continual liveliness of what Mr. Seeley calls free
will in these new communities, and makes us extremely suspicious of
that 'clear and reasoned system,' whatever it may be, to which Mr.
Seeley implores us all to turn our attention.

    [2] The story has been recently told over again in a little
        volume by Mr. C. J. Rowe, entitled _Bonds of Disunion, or
        English Misrule in the Colonies_ (Longmans, 1883). The title
        is somewhat whimsical, but the book is a very forcible and
        suggestive contribution to the discussion raised by Mr.
        Seeley.



II.


We shall now proceed to inquire practically, in a little detail, and
in plain English, what 'clear and reasoned system' is possible. It is
not profitable to tell us that the greatest of all the immense
difficulties in the way of a solution of the problem of the union of
Greater Britain into a Federation is a difficulty that we make
ourselves: 'is the false preconception which we bring to the question,
that the problem is insoluble, that no such thing ever was done or
ever will be done.' On the contrary, those who are incurably sceptical
of federation, owe their scepticism not to a preconception at all,
but to a reasoned examination of actual schemes that have been
proposed, and of actual obstacles that irresistible circumstances
interpose. It is when we consider the real life, the material
pursuits, the solid interests, the separate frontiers and
frontier-policies of the colonies, that we perceive how deeply the
notions of Mr. Seeley are tainted with vagueness and dreaminess.

The moral of Mr. Seeley's book is in substance this, that if we allow
'ourselves to be moved sensibly nearer in our thoughts and feelings to
the colonies, and accustom ourselves to think of emigrants as not in
any way lost to England by settling in the colonies, the result might
be, first, that emigration on a vast scale might become our remedy for
pauperism; and, secondly, that some organisation might gradually be
arrived at which might make the whole force of the empire available in
time of war' (p. 298). Regarded as a contribution, then, to that
practical statesmanship which is the other side of historical study,
Mr. Seeley's book contains two suggestions: emigration on a vast scale
and a changed organisation. On the first not many words will be
necessary. They come to this, that unless the emigration on a vast
scale is voluntary, all experience shows that it will fail inevitably,
absolutely, and disastrously: and next, that if it is voluntary, it
will never on a vast scale, though it may in rare individual
instances, set in a given direction by mere movement of our thoughts
and feelings about the flag or the empire. It is not sentiment but
material advantages that settle the currents of emigration. Within a
certain number of years 4,500,000 of British emigrants have gone to
the United States, and only 2,500,000 to the whole of the British
possessions. Last year 179,000 went to the United States, and only
43,000 to Canada. The chairman of the Hudson's Bay Company the other
day plainly admitted to his shareholders that 'as long as the United
States possessed a prairie country and Canada did not, the former
undoubtedly offered greater advantages for the poorer class of
emigrants.' He would not force emigrants to go to any particular
country, 'but _everything else being equal_, he would exercise what
moral influence he could to induce emigrants to go to our own
possessions' (Report in _Times_, November 23, 1883). The first step,
therefore, is to secure that everything else shall be equal. When
soil, climate, facility of acquisition, proximity to English ports,
are all equalised, it will be quite time enough to hope for a change
in the currents of emigration, and when that time comes the change
will be wrought not by emotions of patriotic sentiment, but by
calculations of prudence. No true patriot can honestly wish that it
should be otherwise, for patriotism is regard for the wellbeing of the
people of a country as well as affection for its flag.

Let us now turn to the more important question of some organisation by
which the whole force of the empire might be made available in time of
war. Our contention is not that the whole force could not, might not,
or ought not to be made available. So far as these issues go, the
answer would depend upon the nature and the stress of the
contingencies which made resort to the whole force of the empire
necessary or desirable. All that we argue for is that the result will
never be reached by a standing and permanent organisation. Mr. Seeley
does not himself attempt to work out any clear and reasoned system,
nor was it his business to do so. Still it is our business to do what
we can to take the measure of the idea which his attractive style and
literary authority have again thrown into circulation in enthusiastic
and unreflecting minds. Many other writers have tried to put this idea
into real shape, and when we come to ask from them for further and
better particulars the difficulties that come into view are
insuperable.

We shall examine some of these projects, and we may as well begin with
the most recent. Sir Henry Parkes, in an article just published, after
the usual protestations of the sense of slight in the breasts of our
kinsfolk, of the vehement desire for a closer union with the mother
country, and in favour of a more definite incorporation of Australia
in the realm, proceeds to set forth what we suppose to be the best
practical contributions that he can think of towards promoting the
given end. The 'changes in the imperial connection' which the
ex-premier for New South Wales suggests are these:--1. The Australian
group of colonies should be confederated, and designated in future the
British States of Australia, or the British Australian State. 2. A
representative council of Australia should sit in London to transact
all the business between the Federation and the Imperial Government.
3. In treaties with foreign nations Australia must be consulted, so
far as Australian interests may be affected, through her
representative council. Sir Henry Parkes, we may remark, gives no
instance of a treaty with a foreign nation in which Australian
interests have been injured or overlooked. 4. Englishmen in Australia
must be on an equal footing with Englishmen within the United Kingdom
as recipients of marks of the royal favour; especially they should be
made peers. 5. The functions of governor should be limited as much as
possible to those which are discharged by the Sovereign in the present
working of the Constitution, and to State ceremonies. These are the
suggestions which Sir Henry Parkes throws out 'without reserve or
hesitation,' as pointing to the direction in which 'well-considered
changes' should take place. The familiar plan for solving the problem
by the representation of the colonies in the Imperial Parliament he
peremptorily repudiates. 'That,' he says, 'would be abortive from the
first, and end in creating new jealousies and discontents.' What it
all comes to, then, is that the sentiment of union between Englishmen
here and Englishmen at the Antipodes is to be strengthened, first, by
making more Knights of St. Michael and St. George; second, by a
liberal creation of Victorian, Tasmanian, and New South Welsh
peerages; third, by reducing the officer who represents the political
link between us to a position of mere decorative nullity; and fourth,
by bringing half a dozen or a score or fifty honest gentlemen many
thousands of miles away from their own affairs, in order to transact
business which is despatched without complaint or hindrance in a
tolerably short interview once a week, or once a month, or once a
quarter, between the Secretary of State and the Agent-General. If that
is all, we can only say that seldom has so puny a mouse come forth
from so imposing a mountain.

'The English people,' says Sir Henry Parkes, 'in Europe, in America,
in Africa, in Asia, in Australasia, are surely destined for a mission
beyond the work which has consumed the energies of nations throughout
the buried centuries. If they hold together in the generations before
us in one world-embracing empire, maintaining and propagating the
principles of justice, freedom and peace, what blessings might arise
from their united power to beautify and invigorate the world.' This is
the eloquent expression of a lofty and generous aspiration which every
good Englishman shares, and to which he will in his heart fervently
respond. But the Australian statesman cannot seriously think that the
maintenance and propagation of justice, freedom and peace, the
beautifying and invigorating of the world, or any of the other
blessings of united power, depend on the four or five devices, all of
them trivial, and some of them contemptible, which figure in his
project. Of all ways of gratifying a democratic community that we
have ever heard of, the institution of hereditary rank seems the most
singular,--supported, as we presume that rank would be, by
primogeniture and landed settlements. As for the consultative council,
which is an old suggestion of Lord Grey's, what is the answer to the
following dilemma? If the Crown is to act on the advice of the agents
then the imperial politics of any one colony must either be regulated
by a vote of the majority of the members of the council--however
unpalatable the decision arrived at may be to the colony affected--or
else the Crown will be enabled to exercise its own discretion, and so
to arrogate to itself the right to direct colonial policy (Rowe's
_Bonds of Disunion_, 356). The simpleton in the jestbooks is made to
talk of a bridge dividing the two banks of a stream. Sir Henry
Parkes's plan of union would soon prove a dividing bridge in good
earnest.

Sir Henry Parkes does not try to conceal from us, he rather presses
upon us by way of warning, that separation from England is an event
which, 'whatever surface-loyalists may say to the contrary, is
unquestionably not out of the range of possibilities within the next
generation.' 'There are persons in Australia, and in most of the
Australian legislatures, who avowedly or tacitly favour the idea of
separation.' 'In regard to the large mass of the English people in
Australia,' he adds on another page, 'there can be no doubt of their
genuine loyalty to the present state, and their affectionate
admiration for the present illustrious occupant of the Throne. But
this loyalty is nourished at a great distance, and by tens of
thousands daily increasing, who have never known any land but the one
dear land where they dwell. It is the growth of a semi-tropical soil,
alike tender and luxuriant, and a slight thing may bruise, even snap
asunder, its young tendrils.'

'The successful in adventure and enterprise,' he says with just
prescience, 'will want other rewards than the mere accumulation of
wealth,' and other rewards, may we add, than knighthoods and sham
peerages. 'The awakening ambitions of the gifted and heroic will need
fitting spheres for their honourable gratification,' and such spheres,
we may be very sure, will not be found in a third-rate little
consultative council, planted in a back-room in Westminster, waiting
for the commands of the Secretary of State. In short, a suspicion
dawns upon one's mind that this sense of coldness, this vague craving
for closer bonds, this crying for a union, on the part of some
colonists, is, in truth, a sign of restless _malaise_, which means, if
it were probed to the bottom, not a desire for union at all, but a
sense of fitness for independence.

There are great and growing difficulties in the matter of foreign and
inter-colonial relations. But these will not be solved by a council
which may be at variance with the government and majority in the
colony. They are much better solved, as they arise, by a conference
with the Agent for the Colonies, or, as has been done in the case of
Canada, by allowing the government of the colony to take a part in
the negotiations, and to settle its own terms. Fisheries, copyright,
and even customs' duties, are instances in point. This is a process
which will have to be carried further. Each large colony will have
relations to foreign countries more and more distant from those of the
mother country, and must be allowed to deal with those relations
itself. How this is to be done will be a problem in each case. It will
furnish a new chapter of international law. But it is a chapter of law
which will grow _pro re natâ_. Its growth will not be helped or
forwarded by any _a priori_ system. Any such system would be attended
with all the evils of defective foresight, and would both fetter and
irritate.



III.


To test the strain that Australian attachment to the imperial
connection would bear, we have a right to imagine the contingency of
Great Britain being involved in a war with a foreign Power of the
first class. Leaving Sir Henry Parkes, we find another authority to
enlighten us upon the consequences in such a case. Mr. Archibald
Forbes is a keen observer, not addicted to abstract speculation, but
with a military eye for facts and forces as they actually are, without
reference to sentiments or ideals to which anybody else may wish to
adjust them. Mr. Forbes has traced out some of the effects upon
Australian interests of an armed conflict between the mother country
and a powerful adversary. Upon the Australian colonies, he says
emphatically, such a conflict would certainly bring wide-ranging and
terrible mischiefs. We had a glimpse of what would happen at once, in
the organised haste with which Russia prepared to send to sea swift
cruisers equipped in America, when trouble with England seemed
imminent in 1878. We have a vast fleet, no doubt, but not vast enough
both to picquet our own coast-line with war-ships against raids on
unprotected coast-towns, and besides that to cover the great outlying
flanks of the Empire. These hostile cruisers would haunt Australasian
waters (coaling in the neutral ports about the Eastern Archipelago),
and there would be scares, risks, uncertainties, that would derange
trade, chill enterprise, and frighten banks. Another consideration,
not mentioned by Mr. Forbes, may be added. We now do the carrying
trade of Australasia to the great benefit of English shipowners (See
_Economist_, August 27, 1881). If the English flag were in danger from
foreign cruisers, Australia would cease to employ our ships, and might
possibly find immunity in separation and in establishing a neutral
flag of her own.

Other definite evils would follow war. The Australasian colonist lives
from hand to mouth, carries on his trade with borrowed money, and pays
his way by the prompt disposal of his produce. Hence it is that the
smallest frown of tight money sends a swift shock, vibrating and
thrilling, all through the Australasian communities. War would at once
hamper their transactions. It would bring enhanced freights and
higher rates of insurance to cover war risks. This direct dislocation
of commerce would be attended in time by default of payment of
interest on the colonial debt, public, semi-public, and private. As
the vast mass of this debt is held in England, the default of the
Englishmen in Australia would injure and irritate Englishmen at home,
and the result would be severe tension. The colonial debtor would be
all the more offended, from his consciousness that 'the pinch which
had made him a defaulter would have a purely gratuitous character so
far as he was concerned.'

'I, at least,' says Mr. Forbes, in concluding his little forecast,
'have the implicit conviction that if England should ever be engaged
in a severe struggle with a Power of strength and means, in what
condition soever that struggle might leave her, one of its outcomes
would be to detach from her the Australian colonies' (_Nineteenth
Century_, for October 1883). In other words, one of the most certain
results of pursuing the spirited foreign policy in Europe, which is so
dear to the Imperialist or Bombastic school, would be to bring about
that disintegration of the Empire which the same school regard as the
crown of national disaster.

It would be a happy day for the Peace Society that should give the
colonies a veto on imperial war. It is true that during the Indian
Mutiny New South Wales offered to send away the battery for which it
paid, but when the despatch actually took place it was furious.
Australia has militiamen, but who supposes that they can be spared in
any numbers worth considering for long campaigns, and this further
loss and dislocation added to those which have been enumerated by Mr.
Forbes? Supposing, for the sake of argument, that Australia were
represented in the body that decided on war, though we may notice that
war is often entered upon even in our own virtuous days without
preliminary consent from Parliament, nobody believes that the presence
of Australian representatives in the imperial assembly that voted the
funds would reconcile their constituents at the other side of the
globe to paying money for a war, say, for the defence of Afghanistan
against Russia, or for the defence of Belgian neutrality. The
Australian, having as much as he can do to carry on from hand to
mouth, would speedily repent himself of that close and filial union
with the mother country, which he is now supposed so ardently to
desire, when he found his personal resources crippled for the sake of
European guarantees or Indian frontiers. We had a rather interesting
test only the other day of the cheerful open-handedness that English
statesmen expect to find in colonial contributions for imperial
purposes. We sent an expedition to Egypt, having among its objects the
security of the Suez Canal. The Canal is part of the highway to India,
so (shabbily enough, as some think) we compelled India to pay a quota
towards the cost of the expedition. But to nobody is the Canal more
useful than to our countrymen in Australia. It has extended the
market for their exports and given fresh scope for their trade. Yet
from them nobody dreams of asking a farthing. Nor do the pictures
drawn by Mr. Forbes and others encourage the hope that any Ministry in
any one of the seven Australian Governments is likely to propose
self-denying ordinances that take the shape of taxes for imperial
objects. 'He is a hard-headed man, the Australian,' says Mr. Forbes,
'and has a keen regard for his own interest, with which in the details
of his business life, his unquestionable attachment to his not
over-affectionate mother, is not permitted materially to interfere.
Where his pocket is concerned he displays for her no special
favouritism. For her, in no commercial sense, is there any "most
favoured nation" clause in his code. He taxes alike imports from
Britain and from Batavia. His wool goes to England because London is
the wool market of the world, not because England is England. He
transacts his import commerce mainly with England because it is there
where the proceeds of the sale of his wool provide him with financial
facilities. But he has no sentimental predilection for the London
market.'



IV.


Proposals of a more original kind than those of Sir Henry Parkes have
been made by the Earl of Dunraven, though they are hardly more
successful in standing cross-examination. Lord Dunraven has seen, a
great deal of the world, and has both courage and freshness of mind.
He scolds Liberals for attaching too little importance to colonies,
and not perceiving that our national existence is bound up with our
existence as an empire. We are dependent in an increasing degree on
foreign countries for our supply of food, and therefore we might
starve in time of war unless we had an efficient fleet; but fleets, to
be efficient, must be able to keep the sea for any length of time, and
they can only do this by means of the accommodation afforded by our
various dependencies and colonies dotted over the surface of the
globe. This is a very good argument so far as it goes, but of course
it would be met, say in South Africa, by keeping Table Mount and
Simon's Bay, and letting the rest go. It might, too, as we all know,
be met in another way, namely, by the enforcement at sea of the
principles of warfare on land, and the abandonment of the right of
seizure of the property of private individuals on the ocean.

Besides that, says Lord Dunraven, the colonies are by far our best
customers, and our only chance of increasing or maintaining our trade
lies in 'the development of the colonies.' What development means he
does not very clearly explain. Subsidised emigration and all such
devices he dismisses as futile. Some means should be devised, he says,
whereby the independent colonies should have a voice in the management
of matters affecting the empire: what those means might exactly be he
does not even hint. The mother country and the colonies might be
drawn closer together by the abandonment of free trade and the
formation of an imperial Zollverein or Greater British Customs Union.
In this way capital would move more freely within the empire from one
portion to another--as if capital which has gone from Great Britain to
the Australian group of colonies to such a tune that the public
indebtedness there is three times the amount per head in the mother
country (to say nothing of the vast sums embarked in private
enterprise, bringing up the aggregate debt to a million and a
quarter), did not move quite freely enough as it is. Supply would at
last have an opportunity of accommodating itself to demand without let
or hindrance over a large portion of the earth's surface--as if more
were necessary for this than the simple reduction of their tariffs,
which is within the power of the protectionist colonies without
federation, confederation, or any other device whatever. As it is, by
the way, the colonies take nearly four times as much per head per
annum of our manufactures as is taken by the United States (32s.
against 8s. 4d.)

It is not necessary for me here, even if there were space, to state
the arguments against the possibility of a perfect Customs Union
embracing the whole British Empire. They have been recently set forth
by the masterly hand of Sir Thomas Farrer (_Fair Trade_ v. _Free
Trade_, published by the Cobden Club, pp. 38-60). The objections to
such a solution rest on the fact that it involves the same fiscal
system in countries differing widely as the poles in climate, in
government, in habits, and in political opinions. 'It would prevent
any change in taxation in one of the countries constituting the
British Empire, unless the same change were made in all.' To require
Canada and Australia to adopt our system of external taxation, to
model their own internal taxation accordingly, and to continue to
insist on that requirement, whatever their own change either of
opinion or condition might be, would be simply destructive of local
self-government. 'Free Trade is of extreme importance, but Freedom is
more important still.'



V.


Among the devices for bringing the mother country and the great
colonies into closer contact, we do not at present hear much of the
old plan for giving seats to colonial representatives in the British
Parliament. It was discussed in old days by men of great authority.
Burke had no faith in it, while Adam Smith argued in its favour.
Twenty years before the beginning of the final struggle the plan was
rejected by Franklin. In 1831 Joseph Hume proposed that India should
have four members, the Crown colonies eight, the West Indies three,
and the Channel Islands one. Mr. Seeley's book may for a little time
revive vague notions of the same specific. Sir Edward Creasy, also by
the way a professor of history, openly advocated it, but with the
truly remarkable reservation that 'the colonies should be admitted to
shares in the Imperial Parliament on the understanding that they
contributed nothing at all to the imperial revenue by taxation.'[3]
That is, they are to vote our money, but we are not to vote theirs. As
Cobden saw, this is a flaw that is fatal to the scheme. 'What is the
reason,' he asked, 'that no statesman has ever dreamt of proposing
that the colonies should sit with the mother country in a common
legislature? It was not because of the space between them, for
nowadays travelling was almost as quick as thought; but because the
colonies, not paying imperial taxation, and not being liable for our
debt, could not be allowed with safety to us, or with propriety to
themselves, to legislate on matters of taxation in which they were not
themselves concerned.' He also dwelt on the mischief inseparable from
the presence of a sectional and isolated interest in Parliament
(_Speeches_, i. 568, 569). Lord Grey points out another difficulty.
The colonial members, he says, would necessarily enroll themselves in
the ranks of one or other of our parliamentary parties. 'If they
adhered to the Opposition, it would be impossible for them to hold
confidential intercourse with the Government; and if they supported
the Ministers of the day, the defeat of the administration would
render their relations with a new one still more difficult'
(_Nineteenth Century_, June 1879). In short, since the concession of
independent legislatures to all the most important colonies, the idea
of summoning representatives to the Imperial Parliament is, indeed, as
one high colonial authority has declared it to be, a romantic dream.
If the legislature of Victoria is left to settle the local affairs of
Victoria, the legislature of the United Kingdom must be left to settle
our local affairs. Therefore the colonial members could only be
invited to take a part on certain occasions in reference to certain
imperial matters. But this would mean that we should no longer have
one Parliament but two, or, in other words, we should have a British
Parliament and a Federal Council.

    [3] _Constitutions of the Britannic Empire_ (1872), p. 43.

Another consideration of the highest moment ought not to be
overlooked. In view of our increasing population, social complexities,
and industrial and commercial engagements of all kinds, _time_ is of
vital importance for the purposes of domestic legislation and internal
improvements. Is the time and brainpower of our legislators, and of
those of our colonies too, to be diverted perpetually from their own
special concerns and the improvement of their own people, to the more
showy but less fruitful task of keeping together and managing an
artificial Empire?



VI.


Eight or nine years ago Mr. Forster delivered an important address at
Edinburgh on our Colonial Empire. It was a weighty attempt to give the
same impulse to people's minds from the political point of view as
Mr. Seeley tries to give from the historical. Mr. Forster did not
think that 'the admission of colonial representatives into our
Parliament could be a permanent form of association,' though he added
that it might possibly be useful in the temporary transition from the
dependent to the associated relation. In what way it would be useful
he did not more particularly explain. The ultimate solution he finds
in some kind of federation. The general conditions of union, in order
that our empire should continue, he defines as threefold. 'The
different self-governing communities must agree in maintaining
allegiance to one monarch--in maintaining a common nationality, so
that each subject may find that he has the political rights and
privileges of other subjects wheresoever he may go in the realm;[4]
and, lastly, must agree not only in maintaining a mutual alliance in
all relations with foreign powers, but in apportioning among
themselves the obligations imposed by such alliance.'[5] It is, as
everybody knows, at the last of the three points that the pinch is
found. The threatened conflict between the Imperial and the Irish
parliaments on the Regency in 1788, 1789 warns us that difficulties
might arise on the first head, and it may be well to remember under
the second head that the son of a marriage between a man and his
sister-in-law has not at present the same civil right in different
parts of the realm. But let this pass. The true question turns upon
the apportionment of the obligations incurred by states entering a
federal union on equal terms. What is to be the machinery of this
future association? Mr. Forster, like Mr. Seeley, and perhaps with
equally good right, leaves time to find the answer, contenting himself
with the homely assurance that 'when the time comes it will be found
that where there's a will there's a way.' Our position is that the
will depends upon the way, and that the more any possible way of
federation is considered, the less likely is there to be the will.

    [4] The refusal to allow the informers in the Phoenix Park
        trials to land in Australia is worth remembering under this
        head.

    [5] _Our Colonial Empire._ By the Right Hon. W. E. Forster,
        M.P. Edmonston and Douglas. 1875.

It is not in the mere machinery of federation that insurmountable
difficulties arise, but in satisfying ourselves that the national
sentiment would supply steam enough to work the machinery. Of course
we should at once be brought face to face with that which is, in Mr.
Forster's judgment, one of the strongest arguments against giving
responsible government to Ireland, the necessity for a written
constitution. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council were engaged
only the other day in hearing a dispute on appeal (Hodge v. the
Queen), turning on the respective powers of the legislature of Ontario
and the Parliament of the Dominion. The instrument to be interpreted
was the British North America Act, but who will draft us a bill that
shall settle the respective powers of the Dominion legislature, the
British legislature, and the Universal Greater British legislature?

It would be interesting to learn what place in the great Staatenbund
or Bundes-staat would be given to possessions of the class of the West
Indies, Mauritius, the West Coast, and such _propugnacula_ of the
Empire as Gibraltar, Malta, Aden, or Hong-Kong. What have we to offer
Australia in return for joining us in a share of such obligations as
all these entail? Are her taxpayers anxious to contribute to their
cost? Have her politicians either leisure or special competency for
aiding in their administration? India, we must assume, would come
within the province and jurisdiction of the Federation. It would
hardly be either an advantage or a pleasure to the people of a young
country, with all their busy tasks hot on their hands, to be
interrupted by the duty of helping by men or cash to put down an
Indian Mutiny, and even in quiet times to see their politicians
attending to India instead of minding their own very sufficiently
exacting business.

The Federal Council would be, we may suppose, deliberative and
executive, but we have not been told whence its executive would be
taken. If from its own members, then London (if that is to be the seat
of the Federal Government) would see not only two legislatures, but
two cabinets, because it would certainly happen that the Federal
Council would constantly give its confidence to men sent to it from
the colonies, and not having seats in the British Parliament. In that
case the mother of parliaments would sink into the condition of a
state legislature, though the contributions of Great Britain would
certainly be many times larger than those of all the colonies put
together. If, on the contrary view, Great Britain were to take the
lead in the Council, to shape its policy, and to furnish its
ministers, can anybody doubt that the same resentment and sense of
grievance which was in old times directed against the centralisation
of the Colonial Office, would instantly revive against the
centralisation of the new Council?

Nobody has explained what is to be the sanction of any decree, levy,
or ordinance of the Federal Council; in other words, how it would deal
with any member of the Confederacy who should refuse to provide money
or perform any other act prescribed by the common authority of the
Bund. If anybody supposes that England, for instance, would send a
fleet to Canada to collect ship-money in the name of the Federal
Council, it would be just as easy to imagine her sending a fleet in
her own name. Nothing can be more absurd than any supposition of that
kind, except the counter-supposition that no confederated state would
ever fail to fall cheerfully in with the requirements of the rest of
them. Mr. Forster has an earnest faith that the union would work well,
but that does not prevent him from inserting a possible proviso or
understanding that 'any member of the Federation, either the mother
country or any of its children, should have an acknowledged right to
withdraw from the mutual alliance on giving reasonable notice.' No
doubt such a proviso would be essential, but if a similar one had
been accepted in America after the election of President Lincoln, the
American Union would have lasted exactly eighty years, and no more.
The catastrophe was prevented by the very effective sanction which the
Federalists proved themselves to possess in reserve.

What is the common bond that is to bring the various colonies into a
federal union? It is certain that it will have to be a bond of
political and national interest, and not of sentiment merely, though
the sentiment may serve by way of decoration. We all know how
extremely difficult it was to bring the provinces of Canada to form
themselves into the Dominion. It is within immediate memory that in
South Africa, in spite of the most diligent efforts of ministers and
of parliament, the interests of the Cape, of Natal, of Griqualand, and
the two Dutch republics were found to be so disparate that the scheme
of confederation fell hopelessly to pieces. In Australia the recent
conference at Sydney is supposed to have given a little impulse
towards confederation, but the best informed persons on the spot have
no belief that anything practical can come of it for a very long time
to come, if ever,--so divergent are both the various interests and
men's views of their interests. Three years ago a conference of all
the Australian colonies was held to consider the adoption of a common
fiscal policy. The delegates of New South Wales, South Australia, New
Zealand, Tasmania, and Western Australia voted in favour of a
resolution which recommended the appointment of a joint commission to
construct a common tariff, but Victoria voted in a minority of one,
and the project was therefore abandoned. If there is this difficulty
in bringing the colonies of a given region into union, we may guess
how enormous would be the difficulty of framing a scheme of union that
should interest and attract regions _penitus toto divisos orbe_.

Another line of consideration brings us still more directly to the
same probability of a speedy deadlock. In Mr. Forster's ideal
federation there must, he says, be one principle of action throughout
the empire concerning the treatment of uncivilised or half civilised
races. With the motive of this humane reservation all good Englishmen,
wherever they live, will ardently sympathise. But how would a Federal
Union have any more power than Lord Kimberley had to prevent a Cape
parliament, for instance, from passing a Vagrant Act? That Act
contained, as Lord Kimberley confessed, some startling clauses, and
its object was in fact to place blacks under the necessity of working
for whites at low wages. He was obliged to say that he had no power to
alter it, and we may be quite sure that if the Executive of the
Greater British Union had been in existence, and had tried to alter
the Act, that would have been the signal for South Africa to walk out
of the union. We may look at such contingencies in another way. Great
Britain, according to a statement made by Mr. Gladstone in the last
session of parliament, has spent more than twelve millions sterling
on frontier wars in South Africa during the eighty years that we have
been unfortunate enough to have that territory on our hands. The
conduct of the colonists to the natives has been the main cause of
these wars, and yet it is stated that they themselves have never
contributed more than £10,000 a year towards military expenditure on
their account. Is it possible to suppose that the Canadian lumberman
and the Australian sheep-farmer will cheerfully become contributors to
a Greater British fund for keeping Basutos, Pondos, Zulus quiet to
please the honourable gentlemen from South Africa, especially as
two-thirds of the constituents of these honourable gentlemen would be
not Englishmen but Dutchmen? Yet if the stoppage of supplies of this
kind would be one of the first results of the transformation of the
mother country into the stepmother Union, what motive would South
Africa have for entering it? On the other hand, is there any reason to
suppose that South Africa would contribute towards the maintenance of
cruisers to keep French convicts and others out of the Pacific, or
towards expeditions to enable the Queensland planters to get cheap
labour, or to prevent Australian adventurers from land-grabbing in New
Guinea? If it be said that the moral weight of a great union of
expanded Englishmen would procure a cessation of the harsh or
aggressive policy that leads to these costly little wars, one can only
reply that this will be a very odd result of giving a decisive voice
in imperial affairs to those portions of our people who, from their
position and their interests, have been least open to philanthropic
susceptibilities. It is perfectly plain that the chief source of the
embarrassments of the mother country in dealing with colonies endowed
with responsible government would simply be reproduced if a Federal
Council were sitting in Downing Street in the place of the Secretary
of State.

The objections arising from the absence of common interest and common
knowledge may be illustrated in the case of the disputed rights of
fishery off Newfoundland. It has been suggested by Lord Grey that in
such a matter it would be of great advantage to have in the standing
committee of colonial privy councillors which he proposes a body which
would both give it information as to the wishes and opinions of the
colonies, and assist in conveying to the colonies authentic
explanation of the reasons for the measures adopted. That the agents
from Newfoundland could give the Government information is certain,
but what light could the agents from New Zealand throw on the fishery
question? Then apply the case to the proposal of a Federation. As the
question raises discussions with the United States and with France, it
is an imperial matter, and would be referred to the Federal Council.
That body, in spite of its miscellaneous composition, would be no
better informed of the merits of the case than the present cabinet,
nor do we know why it should be more likely to come to a wise
decision. However that might be, we cannot easily believe that the
merchant of Cape Town or the sugar-planter in Queensland, or the
coffee-grower in Fiji, would willingly pay twopence or fourpence of
income tax for a war with France, however authentic might be the
explanations given to him of the reasons why the fishermen of Nova
Scotia had destroyed the huts and the drying stages of French rivals
on a disputed foreshore. We fail to see why the fact of the authentic
explanation being conveyed by his own particular delegate should be
much more soothing to him than if they were conveyed by the Secretary
of State, for, after all, as Mr. Seeley will assure him, Lord Derby
and Sir Michael Hicks-Beach are brothers and fellow-countrymen. No, we
may depend upon it that it would be a _mandat impératif_ on every
federal delegate not to vote a penny for any war, or preparation for
war, that might arise from the direct or indirect interests of any
colony but his own.

I have said little of the difficulties arising from the vast
geographic distances that separate these great outlying communities
from one another, and from the mother country. But those difficulties
exist, and they are in one sense at the root of others more important
than themselves. 'Countries separated by half the globe,' says Mill in
his excellent chapter on the government of dependencies by a free
state, 'do not present the natural conditions for being members of one
federation. If they had sufficiently the same interests, they have
not, and never can have, a sufficient habit of taking counsel
together. They are not part of the same public; they do not discuss
and deliberate in the same arena, but apart, and have only a most
imperfect knowledge of what passes in the minds of one another. They
neither know each other's objects nor have confidence in each other's
principles of conduct. Let any Englishman ask himself how he should
like his destinies to depend on an assembly of which one-third was
British-American and another third South African and Australian. Yet
to this it must come, if there were anything like fair or equal
representation; and would not every one feel that the representatives
of Canada and Australia, even in matters of an imperial character,
could not know or feel any sufficient concern for the interests,
opinions, or wishes of English, Irish, or Scotch?'[6] Tariffs, as we
have seen, are one question, and the treatment of native races is
another, where this want of sympathy and agreement between Englishmen
at home and Englishmen in the most important colonies is open and
flagrant.

    [6] J. S. Mill _On Representative Government_, pp. 317, 318.

The actual circumstances of federal unions justify Mill's remark on
the impossibility of meeting the conditions of such polities where the
communities are separated by half the globe; nor does the fact that
New Zealand is now only forty days from the Thames make any
difference. The districts of the Aetolian, and the towns of the
Achæan, League were in effect neighbours. The Germanic Confederation
was composed of kingdoms and principalities that are conterminous. The
American Union is geographically solid. So are the cantons of the
Swiss Confederation. The nine millions of square miles over which the
British flag waves are dispersed over the whole surface of the globe.
The fact that this consideration is so trite and obvious does not
prevent it from being an essential element in the argument. Mr.
Seeley's precedents are not at all in point.

It is no answer to say, with Mr. Forster, that 'English-speaking men
and women look at life and its problems, especially the problems of
government, with much the same eyes everywhere.' For the purposes of
academic discussion, and with reference to certain moral generalities,
this might be fairly true. But the problems of government bring us
into a sphere where people are called upon to make sacrifices, in the
shape of taxation if in no other, and here English-speaking men and
women are wont not by any means to look at life and its problems, from
George Grenville's Stamp Act down to the 333 articles in the tariff of
Victoria, with the same eyes. The problems of government arise from
clashing interests, and in that clash the one touch of nature that
makes the whole world kin is the resolution not willingly to make
sacrifices without objects which are thought to be worth them. If we
can both persuade ourselves and convince the colonists that the gains
of a closer confederation will compensate for the sacrifices entailed
by it, we shall then look at the problem with the same eyes: if not,
not. Englishmen at home withdrew the troops from New Zealand because
we did not choose to pay for them. Englishmen in Canada and Victoria
do their best to injure our manufactures because they wish to nurse
their own. The substance of character, the leading instincts, the love
of freedom, the turn for integrity, the taste for fair play, all the
great traits and larger principles may remain the same, but there is
abundant room in the application of the same principles and the
satisfaction of the same instincts for the rise of bitter contention
and passionate differences. The bloodiest struggle of our generation
was between English-speaking men of the North and English-speaking men
of the South, because economic difficulties had brought up a problem
of government which the two parties to the strife looked at with
different eyes from difference of habit and of interest. It is far
from being enough, therefore, to rely on a general spirit of concord
in the broad objects of government for overcoming the differences
which distance may chance to make in its narrow and particular
objects.

If difficulties of distance, we are asked by the same statesman, 'have
not prevented the government of a colony from England, why must they
prevent the association of self-governing communities with England?'
But distance was one of the principal causes, and perhaps we should
not be far wrong in saying that it was the principal cause, why the
time came when some colonies could no longer be governed from
England--distance, and all those divergencies of thought and principle
referred to by Mill, which distance permitted or caused to spring
into existence and to thrive.

The present writer claims to belong as little to the Pessimist as to
the Bombastic school--to borrow Mr. Seeley's phrase--unless it is to
be a Pessimist to seek a foothold in positive conditions and to insist
on facing hard facts. The sense of English kinship is as lively in us
as in other people, and we have the same pride in English energy,
resolution, and stoutness of heart, whether these virtues show
themselves in the young countries or the old. We agree in desiring a
strong and constant play between the thoughts, the ideals, the
institutions, of Englishmen in the island home and Englishmen who have
carried its rational freedom and its strenuous industry to new homes
in every sea. Those who in our domestic politics are most prepared to
welcome democratic changes can have least prejudice against countrymen
who are showing triumphantly how order and prosperity are not
incompatible with a free Church, with free schools, with the payment
of members, with manhood suffrage, and with the absence of a
hereditary chamber. Neither are we misled by a spurious analogy
between a colony ready for independence and a grown-up son ready to
enter life on his own account; nor by Turgot's comparison of colonies
to fruit which hangs on the tree only till it is ripe. We take our
stand on Mr. Seeley's own plain principles that 'all political unions
exist for the good of their members, and should be just as large, and
no larger, as they can be without ceasing to be beneficial.' The
inquiry is simply whether the good of the members of our great English
union all over the world will be best promoted by aiming at an
artificial centralisation, or by leaving as much room as possible for
the expansion of individual communities along lines and in channels
which they may spontaneously cut out for themselves. If our ideal is a
great Roman Empire, which shall be capable by means of fleets and
armies of imposing its will upon the world, then it is satisfactory to
think, for the reasons above given, that the ideal is an unattainable
one. Any closer union of the British Empire attempted with this object
would absolutely fail. The unwieldy weapon would break in our hands.
The ideal is as impracticable as it is puerile and retrograde.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

The transcriber made the following changes to the text to correct
obvious errors:

1. p. 329, "embarassments" changed to "embarrassments"





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